Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Introducing Andy Holloman

What I love about hosting Indie Authors on my blog, is that I am exposed to new authors I might never hear about.  Andy Holloman, author of Shades of Grey is one such author.  While y'all are reading his insprational message for authors and writers alike, I'm going to be downloading Shades of Grey onto my Kindle.
This Kindle was definitely my best investment of 2011.  Without any further ado, let me introduce you to Andy Holloman.

Reflections of a writer as 2011 draws to a close
So it's that time of year.  The time when all of us are suppose to get nostalgic and reflect upon the "soon to be ending" year and wax poetic regarding our goals for the upcoming year.  My response to this overdone pastime is "Bah Humbug!"

I had a pretty decent, no EXCELLENT, 2011.  So perhaps I should be more inclined to enjoy my accomplishment of having my first novel be published.  Hey, not bad!  Damn, now I'm stuck because it does feel mucho chic to be writing the phrase "my first novel ...published".   I can feel my earlier "bah humbug" melting away.  

Lesson One -  Hold onto EVERYTHING you write.
For those of you who have that novel, memoir, or non-fiction book tucked away in a drawer, I did too.  In fact, my copy of my novel was SOOOOO old that it was saved on a 3.5 in. floppy disk!  Remember those!  I had shelved plans to be a published writer because, well, it just didn't seem like it was gonna happen.  I read the recommended books, polished my MS, and queried until my fingers bled.  I only received a few nibbles.  But I was realistic. I didn't expect an agent to scoop up my MS and shout from the highest mountain that they had just discovered the next bestseller. (Well, maybe I had a wee bit hope that it might happen!)
Because I had floated my MS out to members of a writing group I had joined in 2005, at the end of 2010, a friend from that group
advised me that she had passed my MS along to a local publisher and that they would want to publish it because they typically
went by her recommendation.  And she was right!  Finally, someone wanted to publish me and I hadn't done a thing for almost
5 years!!

Lesson Two -  Don't isolate.
Get into a writers group.  Network with authors, readers, anyone that you can find.  Work at it (and it truly is work).  Use Twitter to meet other authors.  Reach out to as many folks as you can.  There are millions of people like you who want to be writers and who have a MS and who need the EXACT same things that you do.  When you connect with folks who have the same needs as you, then it becomes very easy to swap MS's, critique, suggest connections, point folks to good websites, etc. 

Lesson Three -  Control your Publishing Experience.
Even though I received a publishing contract from TWO different publishers (both were small, indie publishers) I wasn't exactly blown away with what they could deliver in regards to helping me sell books.  By this time, I had also discovered that even the big boy publishing houses depend on authors to do MOST, if not all, of their marketing and promotions themselves.  There simply isn't any money floating around to assist new (read: unproven) authors.  Plus, even if you DO get a publishing offer from a BIG BOY company AND they throw some money into promoting your work, it is STILL VERY UNLIKELY that your book will sell enough copies to earn back the printing costs for your first print run. (Remember that a novel is labeled a "success" if it sells 5,000 copies.)
So take the step that I did and publish yourself.  I knew that I could promote my book effectively and I knew that I had a decent novel.  So I hired a cover designer, editor, and book production company to handle areas that I wasn't familiar with.  Then I got my book onto Amazon, BN, and a few other places.  Hey, I'm a published author!  It all happened on a much faster timeline than would normally be the case and I was involved with every step.  I made the final decisions on everything.  I also have control over the PRICING of my book, which is a HUGE advantage and a lengthier topic than can be addressed here.
Unless you truly do have the next bestseller (but don't be fooled into thinking that ANYONE can predict this) or you have some
insider connection to the publishing world, sending your book out to agents and hoping for a publishing offer is akin to winning
the lottery (only book publishing pays MUCH MUCH less). So don't pin your hopes on the lottery. Take control of your publishing
experience as I did.

So, against my better judgement, I have just written down my "year in review" for 2011.  It was a very special year for me, so I've earned the right to shout out a little.  Make 2012 YOUR year to publish.  It can happen.
Have a great 2012,
Andy Holloman

And if you'd like to know a little more about Andy, here's his bio.
Just like the protagonist in my novel, Shades of Gray,  I was the owner of  travel agency for 12 years (mostly in the 90′s).  But this is the only similarity between myself and John Manning!   (I never ventured into the cocaine business, I swear.)
 I grew up in Greenville, NC and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Economics.  All through high school and college, I was notorious for scribbling out stories and ideas for novels (hey, this was before wordprocessors!)  and always kept them in a top secret shoe box. (and the box is so top secret that I’ve been trying to find it for 15 years!).
       After college, I fell into the travel industry by accident and was able to grow a travel business  into an Inc. 500 company.  The agency grew  through the use of the Internet and by acquiring three other companies.  Late in the 1990’s, I became familiar with the story of one of the my company’s clients who was murdered in Durham, NC and was a suspected drug smuggler.    This story and the subsequent downfall of the travel agency industry (and my company)  after 9/11,  planted a seed in my head that grew into my first published novel, Shades of Gray.  I began writing this novel in 2003, shelved after completion in 2006, and revived in 2011 thanks to a great friend from a writers group in Cary, NC.
      Today, I live in the Raleigh, NC area.  I am the father of three,  and have been happily married for 20 years.  I enjoy (mostly) attending my kids sporting and school events, supporting the local real estate industry, and watching fine films with my wonderful wife.  Whenever possible, I enjoy the beauty of North Carolina’s mountains,  running, camping, and short walks on the beaches of the Outer Banks (several references to OBX in my book) .    I am also an avid reader (time permitting), and a social media goofball.   Most evenings I can be found tapping out my next novel,  due for release in late 2013.   Stay tuned!

Monday, December 26, 2011

An interview with Miss Snark

Christmas time, the season to be jolly.  What people don't tell you is that the days before Christmas are spent rushing around like a blue-arsed fly trying to get shopping done and presents wrapped.  By the time Christmas day arrives you are exhausted, spent, and all you can do is smile inanely and thank your nephews for all those bars of chocolate they bought you as presents.  Even if your top New Year's resolution was to lose weight and get in shape for June's big European adventure.  The day after Christmas you wonder what happened.  Has Christmas already been and gone?  OMIGOD that means the year is nearly over! 2011 is nearly done and dusted.  Another year older and deeper in debt.  Wasn't that a song?  And then you remember.  Crap.  I had to read a book and write a review and post it on my blog on December 26th.  Surveying the dirty dishes from last night and rolls of unused Christmas wrap on the floor, I figure I'd better get started.  House cleaning can always wait.
Rachel Thompson is the Queen of Snark.  The Mancode: Exposed is her latest book and it is overflowing with snark.  I love it!  Straight-talking, shooting from the hip, calling a spade a spade.  This lady doesn't mince her words or disguise them in brightly colored Christmas wrapping.  She says it like it is, and if you can't understand what she is getting at, it is probably because you don't have a vagina.  God's truth.  That's what she said.
Rachel Thompson has an easy-to-read writing style.  You might think you were only going to read a quick chapter before doing those dirty dishes, but believe you me, you'll sit smiling and nodding your head in agreement as you read The Mancode: Exposed in one sitting.  Those dirty dishes can wait.  They weren't going anywhere and there are no such things as fairy godmothers who'd fly in, wave a magic wand and they'd be done.  They'll still be there waiting for you.  I promise.  From men's penchant for farting and hiding the remotes, disgust for directions and having cabinets installed in the garage, The Mancode: Exposed exposes it all in a very witty, snarky way.  Highly recommended for anybody who doesn't suffer from sense of humor failure.
It is my great pleasure to introduce to you Miss Snark herself, Rachel Thompson.  Can we have a drum roll here please?

Rachel, can you tell us why you started writing, what motivates you to write, etc.

How much time have you got? J
I started writing as a child after my fourth grade teacher read us The Secret Garden. I’d always been a reader from an early age. My mom always had her nose in a book – still does (well, a Kindle now). But when my teacher read that book to the class, one chapter a day, I thought I was going to die – I had to know what was going to happen to Mary and Colin! #deargod

On my first date with my husband, he took me to see The Secret Garden on Broadway, front row center. He’s a very, very smart man.

Though I have a degree in Communication Studies and Journalism, professionally, I made my living as a pharma rep (hated it) and trainer (loved that) for a good fifteen years so writing took a backseat, though I always kept journals and wrote stories and poetry.

As for writing as an adult professionally, I began my blog in 2008, in addition to writing for The Examiner and Blogcritics, reviewing books, music, events and beauty products (I’m quite the makeup junkie). I didn’t find it fulfilling but marketing-wise, it gave me great exposure.

Once I expanded my social media platform and began my Mancode essays and really found my niche writing about men and women, the whole idea for my first book A Walk In The Snark formed. About that time, an old boyfriend (whom I almost married) reconnected with me on Facebook and within three month, committed suicide. This was in 2009. Though happily married, his death really threw me and my way of dealing with my grief was to write about it. A few of those essays made their way into the book.

Around 2010, I cofounded the Indie Book Collective also with Carolyn McCray and Amber Scott with the goal of helping authors learn social media and self-publishing.

While the book is primarily male/female humor, loss is a natural extension of love, and many people have contacted me with their own stories. It’s been an amazing experience.

The book reached #1 on the Kindle Motherhood list in September this year for the first time (during the first Indie Book Collective Indie Book Blowout event) and has hit at least 15-20 more times. It’s currently #1 right now! It’s also tops in Parenting and Family, and Family Relationships with an average 4.8 star-rating. I’m so honored.

As for my latest release, The Mancode: Exposed, I’ve become known as the Mancode chick. Those are clearly my funniest essays (as long as one HAS a sense of humor). There are plenty of cranky men who gave me a hard time with the last book who thought I was stereotyping men (though I’m not sure how citing actual examples of behavior is stereotyping but whatev) and became in some cases livid and even wrote me expletive-filled letters, unfollowed or gave 1-star reviews – surprisingly, I love those Mancode-type reactions because it just proves my theories #hehe.

I even gave one section of this book the title DNA & STEREOTYPES to deal with the detractors head on. I hope they realize that women are part of the reaction as well and I discuss chicks (Chickspeak) plenty in the book (“give us chocolate or we will cut you”).

I released the book right after Thanksgiving this year and it’s already reached Top 10 on both the Marriage and Parenting and Family Humor lists with an average 5-star rating. I hope you enjoy it.

In fact, I’m writing Chickspeak: Uncovered right now…ya know, why we say stuff we don’t mean, or how to interpret what we say when we’re in a chocolate coma. Why you should have taken AP Chick in high school. Like that.

I’d love to hear any questions from your readers or interact with them on Twitter, Goodreads, or Facebook. My email is, Twitter or Goodreads @RachelintheOC, or my Mancode: Exposed Facebook page.

Thanks Cindy for the time and opportunity to chat!
Seriously, if you want to read something that is full of light-hearted truisms that will make you smile and think "That is on the mark," then buy your copy of The Mancode: Exposed today. 
Hope you're recovering from the festive feasts!
Cindy Vine
How to Say No to Sex and other Survival Tips for the Suddenly Single

Friday, December 23, 2011

Introducing David Knight

It is my great pleasure to introduce to you a wonderful author on this fine day. 
DAVID KNIGHT was born into his current physical embodiment in 1964. He is married to Caroline and they live with their adopted cats Toby, Treacle, Spiky and Missy in the UK. In growing up he describes himself as a Mr. Average or like a 'Joe Bloggs'. Whilst earning a living in various types of work, (this ranged from HM Forces, Financial Services, a Care Assistant and also self-employment) his search for fulfilment changed from the exterior and without to the interior and within.

Spiritual education gained a greater momentum and at the age of 21 a more urgent sense of dedication as well as a new realization had set in. New evidence of and from God, were soon revealed through his life experiences. With the aid of Spirit guides and beings from the ethereal planes, the foundations were laid for all who wished to develop and experience their Hearts flame of love and light and to embark upon a unique opportunity for all soul's in this lifetime.
 Part of David's book launch is an exciting contest.  David's book is being launched on 2/2/12 on Amazon.  There is an exciting contest that is in effect from now until the Launch.  There are great prizes that are involved:
$100 gift certificate for Amazon toward a Kindle
Two $50.00 Amazon Gift Certificates
Authors can substitute their choice of a video book review or Facebook Welcome page for the Kindle Gift Certificate if they win.
To enter, visit David's blog:
Welcome once again to my blog! As Christmas is only around the corner, I thought you might like something festive to wet your appetite.  It’s difficult sometimes to tear ourselves away from the shops, pretty lights and the mince pies ….but how about a little nourishment for the inner you! This is an extract entitled ‘A Christmas Carol’ and is from I am I: The In-Dweller of your Heart
s you sit you can feel the pressure in and around your head, could this be communication from the so called ‘dead’? As you become ‘still’, many other souls draw close to you, from all walks of life and existence. This is because they can grow, learn and digest truth and meaning too. Not only do they hear and see, but they feel the information and the love that is given and sent ‘within’ and ‘out’.
Often people think they are alone, this cannot be so as I keep reiterating to you. I shall always remind you of this until it is etched firmly within all aspects of your being. When one experiences natural or so called unnatural phenomena, the receiver or practitioner will sense numerous different feelings and also come to many different conclusions.
When something feels correct for the individual (or for those that hear, sense, view, and are nearby) then a resonance, a spark, a true feeling of joy and fulfilment occurs within the heart. It is through these experiences that I help you on your journey, quest and only true desire to become permanently with me in all aspects of your being.
With these coming festivities, I hope the masses celebrate with open hearts; sharing the love within, sowing seeds of truth that can grow fruitfully and can be harvested at a later date when required to do so.
Those with Christian beliefs will probably have a Christmas tree. These trees, whether real or artificial, will be adorned with decorations and the like. In reality this is but a reflection of the truth. A real pine tree with its pine needles, (which can be soft and gentle or hard and sharp) bears so much more.
A tree such as this has a wonderful shape and its aura of luminosity as it lives is something to behold. You can sense its light like a star which manifest from all points and radiates in all directions. It is both beautiful and serene, created by and from love.
I explain this to you (and it is so reticent) because although many bring such stresses and strains upon oneself due to commercial, materialistic, and family pressures, it is only when you start to relax and actually be at peace that the same light and  ambience as the pine tree then manifests itself to touch those around you.
Understand that happiness, joy, peace, goodwill, friendship, forgiveness, and  compassion for another soul or being are all magnified and personified when truth flourishes from the heart, especially now.
So, when in this special atmosphere of love and light, be like the pine tree’s branches and extend your arms and heart to another. Let it touch a broken heart; let your light be a beacon when those who have cast aside their doubt go looking for guidance. Nurture and nature go hand in hand. So many aspects of a human being’s life are like this and in time all will understand who and what they are.
As Christmas approaches many will gather in the name of the Lord and sing praises of ‘God’s love’. People will come together for many different reasons, but all will be touched in some way by the uplifting hymns and carols. Often it is the words that bring meaning to one person but for another, it could be the ‘sensing of’ or a heightened awareness of much more than this.
Indeed, over the millennia and eras of time, souls have gathered in worship and prayer to many a so called ‘God’. Civilisations since time immemorial have believed in one form or another. They have felt that there was always something greater than themselves. As I am all things and all Creation is me (as you all are), then all along they have just been recognising what was inside of them. If one should bear witness to scenes, images or actual events (such as a solar eclipse), though they are but physical and impermanent, this does not matter. It is in the sensing and in feeling that the soul receives the key. It is a key to the remembrance and experience in whatever way makes sense to the individual, or masses, of me. Remember, I am love and love is all things.
Tonight will be shorter for you in terms of the ‘understanding’ shared and known. I pause in liaising with you at this time, for you to reflect on a Christmas feeling, a prayer or carol. Let the reader decide what part it plays in their hearts.
A Christmas Carol             
Two hearts that beat as one,
Louder and louder they do become.
Linked in truth and by hand in hand,
Travel through time to the Promised Land.
Souls drift by in search of the Son,
They pass through the love of the enlightened ‘one’.
Knowledge and understanding given freely to all,
Open hearts and arms wide when you hear the call.
Time waits for no man, or beast, or being,
And I am the truth, all perceiving and all seeing.
All you have to do is to become the one,
Your immortality, the bliss in truth you’ll have won.
Your goal has been set and is the path you now take,
Lives and your history are not what are at stake.
It’s the present you’re given, like under the tree,
Find victory not defeat and forever be in me.
One love and light that encompasses all things,
Not manufactured by hands or made by machines.
The ingredients of your body and of the ‘physical’ world,
Always to be erased, just like I said and have told.
So then go forth, with a spring in your step,
Renew your ‘own’ faith no matter what you ‘get’.
As long as you hold, true love in your heart,
It doesn’t matter which, for we will never ever part.
Peace, love and blessings to you all,
I am I: The In-Dweller of your Heart is a stepping stone for all who embark upon their own quest for 'Spiritual' education and guidance. So, even if you are comfortable with your own faith and religion, you may have decided to explore new interpretations and such issues on a personal or global scale.

The author David Knight has received and transcribed these passages of text in a process known as 'Inner Dictation'. He describes this as writing from within the connection of his heart where peace, bliss, love and light reign supreme. 

God's wisdom and teachings are laid out before you so you can simply choose and read whenever or whatever your heart needs or desires. They are guidelines, principles and simple directions for you to now dip your toes or dive headfirst into the waters of you're own Divine essence.

These books will form the very threads of life's new tapestry, each being spun into 52 lessons from, to and through our own hearts and soul's. They are like a father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, partner or personal friend who knows you better than you can ever know 'yourself'. 

Part 1 is a companion for life which does not judge, condemn or scold, but hopes to encourage, guide, console, teach and remind you of who and what you are, why you live and for what purpose too!

Title: I am I: The In-Dweller of Your Heart
52 Inner Dictations
Author: David Knight
Copyright:  11/23/11 by David Knight
Genre: Inspirational/Religion

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Seeing red

There are times when living the expat life can be a bit of a challenge.  Things happen that make you ache with homesickness, an ache that moves through your bones and goes right to your core.  An ache that makes you want to hop onto the internet and book a ticket home right away.  Today was one such day.
Like other places I’ve lived in, it’s an isolated incident that makes you want to hop onto a plane.  Most of the time life is quite humdrum and pleasant.  In Thailand it was the touts pretending to represent a travel agency who scammed money off me; in New Zealand a burglary that left me with just the dust where my furniture and belongings used to be; in Korea it was being nearly killed every time you tried to cross the road; in China it was the pushing and shoving, hoiking and spitting, and the globule of mucous left for me on my motorbike seat; in Angola it was my daughter’s camera being confiscated by the police because she took photos of some butterflies.  In Tanzania I have to say it’s the racism.  Not by the majority, but by a handful who target you because you have a white skin.
You see, a white skin seems to indicate that under that pale covering you are an ATM desperate to hand out cash.  You get charged more at the market than locals, parking attendants only demand money from you when you park in town, cops will pull you over and demand money for not having the right fire extinguisher, etc.
I parked on the main road, just around the corner from the market where I bought a small kerosene stove.  When I got back to my car, I was immediately surrounded by a group of young men all shouting at me, telling me I’d parked illegally.  Earlier on I’d had cars parked in front of me and hand barrows filled with pineapples parked behind me.  They had since moved on leaving my car the only one there.  Glancing behind me I saw that I was quite a few metres away from the corner so that was acceptable; I was the right distance away from the kerb, so that wasn’t a problem.  Their accusations that I had parked illegally made no sense whatsoever.  They crowded around me as I inspected where I’d parked, pushing me and poking their fingers at me, shouting, yelling.  One told me they’d put a thing under my tyre so I couldn’t move.  I guessed they meant a clamp, but when I peered between their legs I could see nothing on my tyre, no clamp.  At first despite their aggressive approach, I was calm and pointed out that I had not parked illegally at all.  Another pushed away some dirt with his foot, exposing a yellow square roughly a third of the size of a dollar note.  My front tyre was about 10cm in front of the yellow square which had been hidden under dust.  Obviously, I had to pay each one of the eight young men before they would let me get into my car and leave.  They had never met someone like me before.
I can be pleasant, I can be kind.  Try and rip me off and I undergo a complete personality change.
With my blood boiling I started yelling back at them, telling them I hadn’t parked illegally.  I threatened to call the police.  They told me to go ahead, calling my bluff as I didn’t know the number of the police station.  I opened my car door telling them I was going to drive to the police station.  Five of them crammed themselves into the back seat and one hopped into the front before I had time to lock the doors.  “We’ll go with you to the police,” they said.  “The police will confiscate your car and lock you up in jail.  You need to pay us the fine now for parking illegally.”
My blood pressure rose and I literally saw red.  After jumping out my car I ran around to the kerb side and physically pulled them out of my car with adrenalin-induced strength, still shouting and yelling at them.  They started crowding me even more, telling me that I was in Africa and I’d parked illegally and paying them the fine was the African way.  The way they did things in Tanzania.  This made my blood pressure rise several notches more.  “I too am a born and bred African,” I shouted back, “And stealing money from people or trying to bribe them is not the way we do things.  You are just criminals, tsotsis!”
I locked my car and stormed off to get help from the curio shop down the road.  The gang had my car surrounded, if I tried to drive away I’d end up knocking someone over.  A young man with a backpack approached me as I hurried back to my car with my dreadlocked saviour from the curio shop.  “They are corrupt; just jump in your car and drive!”  So while the curio man and the backpack man distracted them, I drove off fuming.  Nobody besides the backpack man and the man I’d called from the curio shop came to my assistance.  They all stood around staring, like they were watching a play.
Luckily, I calmed down further along the road when I saw that Nakumatt, the Kenyan supermarket, finally opened.  There had been rumours of its opening for months.  Whether it was the lovely clean air-conditioned shop or the stocked shelves I’ll never know, but I decided not to jump on the next flight out.
If life was always smooth sailing it would be boring.  We need the annoyances as well as the happy times to keep us sane.  Unfortunately what happened to me is quite common in developing countries where you have people so desperate for money that they resort to crime and corruption to get it.  That doesn't make it right, but it does put it in perspective. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Times you want to live in a cave

I have been attacked!  Whether it is from a plague of microscopic minibeasts or an allergic reaction of some sort, I don't really care at this point.  All I know, is that I am unbearably itchy and itchiness makes me irritable.  When I get irritable, I have a very low tolerance level for annoying people.  In all fairness, the people are probably not deliberately setting out to annoy me, but when my whole body is one itching, burning, fiery mess, then you can expect that whatever you say might annoy me.  So be prepared and think carefully before you speak. 
At the moment I'm like the busy bee that was stung with its own sting.  Frenetic activity, the usual December madness that afflicts everyone involved in education. 
This year I have decided I fancy escaping to a cave in some exotic setting.  I think I can live there quite easily all by myself as long as I have electricity for cable TV and wireless internet.  Oh, and a flush loo with a privacy screen around it.  I don't want monkeys perving at me whilst I perform my ablutions.  A nice firm mattress would be good as well, getting sand stuck in all my crevices would probably be most unpleasant.  And a fridge with some cold coke and chilled white wine.  A cave might have bats, and after my adventures with rats, I might give a cave a miss.  Bring on a luxury beach cottage in an exotic setting, that's probably what I need.  Delicious seafood, okay, my mind is going off on a tangent.
People.  Who needs them?  Pestering, pedantic people.
I guess I do.  It makes life far more interesting.  And the strange thing is you can have a run-in with a long line of pesky people, and one person gives you a compliment or says something nice and all is well with your world.  Now, if only I can get rid of these itches!