Friday 31 August 2012

Marching with Caesar by RW Peake

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Genre - Historical Fiction
Rating - PG
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Marching With Caesar-Conquest of Gaul is a first-person narrative, written in the form of a memoir as dictated to a scribe of Titus Pullus, Legionary, Optio, First Spear Centurion of Caesar's 6th and 10th Legion. The memoir is written three years after his retirement as Camp Prefect, when Titus is 61 years old. 

Titus, along with his boyhood friend Vibius Domitius, joins the 10th Legion in the draft of 61 BC, when Gaius Julius Caesar is the governor of Spain. Titus and Vibius are assigned to a tent group, with seven other men who will become their closest friends during their times in the legion. Titus, Vibius and their comrades endure the harsh training regimen that made the legions the most feared military force in the ancient world. The 10th Legion is blooded in a series of actions in Spain, led by Caesar in a campaign that was the true beginning of one of the most brilliant military careers in history.

Three years after joining the legions, the 10th is called on again, this time to be part of the subjugation of Gaul, one of the greatest feats of arms in any period of history. During the subsequent campaigns, the 10th cements its reputation as Caesar's most favored and trusted legion, and is involved in most of the major actions during this period.

This first book of a completed trilogy closes with Caesar crossing the Rubicon, and the 10th preparing to march to war, this time against fellow Romans.

Connect with RW Peake on Twitter & Facebook

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Ten Thousand New Year's Eves

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Genre - Contemporary / Literary Fiction 
Rating - PG
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Connect with Dawn DeAnna Wilson on her

Of course, it would be this page.

My page 99 is a strange one.

It is a page that I do think draws the reader into the story, but a page that at the same time, has the reader thinking ‘what the (expletive)?’ or seriously wondering  if I had been smoking some cheap weed when I wrote this page.

To recap: My novel is “Ten Thousand New Year’s Eves,” and it follows eight people (each with his/her own chapter in his/ her point of view.) from December 31 to January 1. These characters are all connected (though many of them do not realize it.) The main character has synesthesia, a condition where the senses are mixed, meaning letters are not only in specific colors, but they may also have tastes and sounds.

Wait, eight people? That’s not entirely true. It’s more like seven people…and one bomb-sniffing dog.
And that’s page 99---a chapter from  a former K-9 cop’s point of view.

Yeah. Page 99 is seen through the dog’s eyes.

Kelso was a bomb-sniffing dog until he was in a near explosion that nearly killed him and left him totally neurotic. As a part of his therapy, he is teamed with a New York Police Academy drop out.  They do not get along.

Dogs are also reputed to be clairvoyant, and while I’m leaving the debate on whether the supernatural/ghosts are real to others more well-versed in the endeavor, Kelso can see ghosts. And squirrels.

……and Hudson River Park in New York City is full of both.

The challenge here was basically trying to get inside a dog’s mind. What does he see? How does he think? What draws his attention?

While I tried to work in some humor ( “…squirrel.  Eat squirrel. SQUIRREL!” ) it was also obvious that I was going to have to use some “third person” narration, because as a writer, I wanted the reader to really see what Kelso was seeing, and I wasn’t sure how eloquently a neurotic German Shepherd could convey that. I was also fascinated with the legends of ghosts that used to haunt New York’s Hell’s Kitchen when it really WAS Hell’s Kitchen and not a gentrified, sanitized version of the city.

Here is an excerpt:

Kelso smells everything in the park. The scent of the past and the present, the grass and the pavement, the smell from the soles of every visitor’s shoes, the musk of an obnoxious squirrel five feet out of his reach, and the stench of a bowel movement from a terrier.
Want to eat… squirrel… eat squirrel…
Then, in front of the squirrel, Kelso sees a gray man in a soldier’s uniform. The man is clutching his abdomen and he smells like forgotten memories and regret. Blood is flowing from his wound, but there is no color. Kelso thinks it’s blood because it smells like blood—but a softer smell, metallic and faded, just like the man looks. Kelso’s owner doesn’t notice the transparent soldier. Kelso can see through the soldier, see through him to the Hudson River and the squirrel behind him.
“Help me,” the man says.  “I was in a fight…no one else sees.”
Kelso doesn’t like the transparent gray-man.  Strange scent. The man reaches out to pet Kelso. His hand disintegrates into wispy smoke.
Tad yanks on the leash. “Calm down, you neurotic mutt.”
Another yank.
The soldier man is gone. Kelso watches the squirrel. Kelso sees a bug. Kelso smells the bug. Kelso smells the edge of the park bench and catches a whiff of urine from a Great Dane. Kelso wanders behind the park bench, lifts his leg and marks his territory.
Screw you, Dane. Bench is Kelso’s! Mine, mine!
Then he sees the woman, leaning on the trash can, teetering on unsteady feet, as if she were injured. She has no smell. Kelso sees right through her. She is wearing a lot of makeup and a skimpy chemise. She is smoking a cigarette, but Kelso smells nothing from her cigarette—not like the fat, stinky cigars Tad puffs. She is not wearing a coat. She is not cold.
“Is your master looking for a good time?” She smiles at Kelso.
“I got a place down the street. He can wear his socks. I don’t care.”
She is gray, like the gray man. Kelso sees right through her. She is wispy and smoky, like the cigarette.
“Don’t be that way, baby. No one sees me anymore. Can you see me? Can he see me? Why can’t someone see me?”

As you can see, out of context, my page 99 is a bit awkward, but I’m hope that it is still awkwardly interesting.

By the way, mark your calendars, as a part of this Orangeberry Tour, this book will be FREE on Kindle for THREE SATURDAYS in AUGUST (the 11th, 18th and 25th) . Tell your friends.  I’m also making two of my short stories FREE for those Saturdays as well. Those short stories are a part of my short story collection “Welcome to Shangri-La, North Carolina,” so you can sample them and see if you like my writing style (which has been described as somewhat quirky, the secret love child of Flannery O’ Connor and Rod Serling)

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Priscilla the Great

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Genre - Middle Grade 
Rating - G
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 Connect with Sybil Nelson on Twitter

Not only is Priscilla the Great a super fun action, adventure comedy, it is also a book about going through teenage changes. One change that Priscilla refuses to accept, however, is her older brother’s relationship with a skank. She tries her best to warn Josh that his girlfriend Stefanie is cheating on him, but he just won’t listen.

Josh poured the Snapple into a glass and placed it on a tray next to Stefanie’s sandwich. “Priss, we’ll talk about this later. But you need to learn to like Stefanie. She’s going to be your sister one day.
I almost puked.

At only sixteen years of age, Josh is so in love with Stefanie that he wants to marry her!

“I don’t know where you’re getting this from or why you would make this up, but Stefanie wouldn’t do that to me. She’s wearing my ring.”

Priscilla just can’t let that happen. She can’t stand around and let someone break her brother’s heart. So she enlists the mischievous skills of her twin five-year-old brothers Charlie and Chester.

For the past year or so Charlie and Chester had perfected a game they liked to call Snot Wars. Basically, they earned points for hitting certain predetermined targets with none other than their own snot.

On the following pages, Stefanie, or Skank-anie as Priscilla likes to call her, gets exactly what’s coming to her and Priss finally gets some proof as to what Stefanie has been up to.

Josh is crushed when he finds out the truth. But his devastation goes deeper than just losing his first girlfriend. Stefanie’s cheating actually turns out to be a life or death situation for our hero Priscilla. Find out what happens in Priscilla the Great book one.

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Pimp Ur Blog Episode Three

Many bloggers and authors have experiences with Google and Amazon that they would like to share. Many more people will benefit from these shared experiences.

The third eBook in the Pimp ur Blog series is now open to multiple co-authors. My offer for Pimp ur Blog Episode Three: Working with Amazon and Google is to publish another edition each time I receive another co-author’s material. I will, of course, publicize each Episode Three edition with press releases, bookmark links on three-dozen social bookmarking sites, blog posts, social media, and inclusion of blurbs for each co-author’s other works.

I will add permanent links to each co-author’s blog or website on each page. The eventual result will be that each co-author’s name and/or blog will make its way into 100 or so associated links and references in Google’s search results!

The initial Episode Three edition starts with my experiences in working with Google as a blogger by describing how to access the wealth of information that Google Webmaster Tools stores for every blog. I share the details of the tests I ran with a $100 Google AdWords credit, and briefly review what effect the recent changes within Google have had when they filter down to our blogs’ Google search results.

I continue with my experiences in working with Amazon as an author who does not participate in Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. Episode Three wraps up with some items of interest from the previous eBooks in the Pimp ur Blog series.

Except that Episode Three does not really conclude at all. Anyone who wants to contribute as a co-author will always be welcome!

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Genre - NonFiction / How To
Rating - G
Connect with Paul Rice on Facebook & Twitter

Thursday 30 August 2012

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Bobby Jay: Stick and Stack Are Alive

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Genre - Children's Humor Book 
Rating - G 
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Bobby Jay is a precocious character who misunderstands and is often misunderstood. Page 69 in Bobby Jay: Stick and Stack are Alive! contains an image that includes a very unhappy Bobby Jay sitting at his desk at school with Teacher, Principal and the Cafeteria Lady in the background. The little bit of writing above the image is dialogue between Teacher and Bobby Jay that clears up an early miscommunication about somebody taking Bobby Jay's picture. Bobby Jay's final statement on that page is "Finally, she got it!"

Images are important in children's books. The fact that Bobby Jay has such a look on his face, and the three women are standing in the background having a conversation, allows the reader to conclude that the young boy is in trouble, but the reader does not know why.

The first person narration on this page, and throughout the book, makes Bobby Jay more realistic to young readers. Young readers identify more with the characters when the character tells the story. Bobby Jay and Teacher have their moments throughout the story, and that last statement on page 69 indicates a turning point in their relationship. Finally, she gets it! Finally, she understands him! Finally, she takes his side!

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Long Time Coming

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Genre - Erotica
Rating - 18+ (High Sexual Content)
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LONG TIME COMING is my foray into the male psyche. I wrote it in a rush, enjoying the idea of being a man, and letting all my mental filters about appropriate thoughts and feelings regarding sex fly out the window. I let my id run rampant, remembering all the dirty innuendo and jokes I’d heard men say. I imagined what they think when they see an attractive woman, the feelings that course through their bodies.

            I let it all spill out on the page in the character Rob Williams. I wanted to write a book that took a man and let him fulfill fantasies, let him have everything a man wanted (or thought he wanted) from a relationship with a woman he’d lusted after for years.

            Page 99 is actually the last page of this novella. It’s sweet and sexy as Rob convinces Joey to be with him again. When he first lays eyes on her, all he can think about is sex, and how much he really wants to be with her. To finally touch and taste her after fantasizing about her since he first met her at fifteen.

            Over the course of the book, that changes. He has always liked and appreciated her as a person, and once the sexual fog lifts, he realizes he needs to get her to agree to see him again. Rob values her as a whole person, not just the gorgeous woman he’s finally landed in his bed. 

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Vitality

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Genre - Science Fiction 
Rating - PG 
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Connect with Tim Andrewartha on Twitter & Twitter

I’ve never really thought about what happens on page 99 of Vitality before. So I was interested to find out as I picked the paperback of my shelf and opened it to that page.
It begins with the line “Emulla started to panic.” Emulla is a girl with a particularly beautiful voice. She is having a relationship with Stylo, the main protagonist in the story. They both work at Vitality – a company that is making a purple soft drink they say will change the lives of those that drink it. Stylo designs the packaging and Emulla does the voiceovers for the television advertising. Since moving to the nameless city, Emulla is the first person that Stylo can relax and be himself with.

In this scene Stylo has persuaded Emulla to come out for a drink with some friends from work. They are in a trendy bar and, even though it hasn’t been released yet, their colleagues are drinking Vitality as they have put their own supply behind the bar. Neither Emulla or Stylo drink any though, as she previously made him promise not to drink any. Stylo went along with this without question, assuming it was just paranoia caused by her herb-stick habit.

Emulla was reluctant to come as she feels uncomfortable with these people as they are too concerned with image. She wanted to go to The Earth Club which is a secret place where different kinds of people go to eat illegal fruit and vegetables. Stylo also feels uncomfortable with these people, and he had a really good time when Emulla took him to the Earth Club previously, but he had promised his friend Dack that they would come. Dack was the first friend that Stylo made after coming to the city, so, even though they are very different, Stylo feels a certain loyalty towards him.

Shortly after they arrived, Emulla realizes she was only too right. She can’t stand these people who are obsessed with fashion, and she has to get out of there as soon as possible. She tells Stylo this and he becomes angry with her for being so impatient. They then have an argument before she leaves. Stylo is shocked for a moment, but then Dack persuades him to come for a line of Mooseball powder to help him forget about his problems.

This scene is seemingly quite domestic, but it is actually quite a crucial moment in the story. The argument causes Stylo and Emulla to be separated which is something that Stylo later regrets greatly. Also when he goes back to work he notices a change in his colleagues who were drinking Vitality in the bar. So page ninety-nine is a catalyst which changes things for several characters and paves the way for the ominous direction the plot is heading in.  

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Women for All Seasons

Genre - Christian Non-Fiction 
Rating - G
More details about this book
 Connect with Angela Joseph on Facebook & Twitter

As it happens, my book Women For All Seasons is only 94 pages long, so I had to choose between page 9 or 69. I chose the latter because it belongs to one of the more complex stories in the book. But before I begin to dissect this page, I must tell you that this is not a novel. It is a Christian non-fiction book written as creative non-fiction to render it more appealing to the reader.

Women For All Seasons features the stories of twelve women of the Bible, and even though you may have heard or read about women of the Bible, this is not another rehashing of those tales. It is, as I stated above, a creative non-fiction work, with each story written from the point of view of the main character so that each one takes on a personality of her own, so much so that the reader can identify strongly with her.

So, on to page 69. On this page, we come face to face with a young woman named Rachel. She is the younger daughter of Laban, brother of Rebekah, Isaac’s wife. Rachel is very beautiful and she has an older sister, Leah, described in the Bible as having “weak eyes.” We get the picture that Leah is not attractive and so when Jacob comes to town, he falls in love with Rachel and she with him, and the two expect to get married and live happily ever after.

However, on page 69, we meet Rachel weeping on her wedding night. The reason? Her scheming father has given Leah to Jacob, because, according to Laban, the older daughter has to be married first. I’m not sure if that was the custom in those days, but I think Laban saw this as his one opportunity to marry off Leah. How he was able to pull it off has always been a subject of discussion among theologians, and many theories have been promulgated. Suffice it to say, Jacob ends up in bed with the wrong girl, and Rachel’s troubles begin.

The morning after the wedding, Laban tells her that he will let Leah finish the week with Jacob and then he will give Rachel to him. Laban keeps his word, but the damage is already done. Leah becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son whom she names Reuben. Three more sons follow in quick succession, and by this time Rachel, who has been unable to conceive, is beside herself. One night she cries out to Jacob, “Give me children or I die.” Jacob lashes back at her, “Am I in the place of God. Did I shut up your womb?”

Desperation rises up in Rachel and she gives her maid to Jacob. The woman bares him two sons and Rachel feels vindicated, but she still has not given Jacob a child of her own. By the end of the page, Rachel strikes a deal with her sister. So desperate is Rachel, she asks Leah for some of Reuben’s mandrakes in exchange for a night with Jacob.  Mandrakes is a plant said to contain fertility properties. Leah, of course, readily agrees, but the plan backfires. Leah becomes pregnant – again!

This story reads like a modern-day opera, but there are many lessons we can take away from it. We see the bitter sibling rivalry between the two sisters, exacerbated by a scheming and thoughtless father. We see Rachel’s low self-esteem despite her beauty and the knowledge that her husband loves her. Instead of trusting God’s will for her life, she resorts to all kinds of tricks in order to give her husband a child. I wonder how many women can relate to this story. I have had readers tell me that Rachel’s story is their favorite. For me, it was difficult to write, because I had to stick to the truth of what the Bible says without adding my opinion or my thoughts. For example, I couldn’t say that Jacob was drunk or the room was too dark for Jacob to see who was in the bed with him. I have read this story in other books where the authors made all kinds of suggestions about what could have taken place. I did none of that.

In the Insights section that follows the story, I state my opinion of Rachel’s behavior and what could have contributed to her problems, then in the Reflections section that comes after, I invite the reader to answer a few questions on jealousy, sibling rivalry, infertility and accepting God’s will. Whether you are a Christian or not, I think you will find Women For All Seasons a valuable addition to your library and page 69 one of the more entertaining and thought-provoking pages in the book.


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