Sunday, August 19, 2018

Reviews & The Hating Of Goodreads.

You know...as a writer, I understand the importance of reviews. I need them, not only as a marketing tool, but as a tool for growth as a writer. Constructive criticism has been invaluable in helping me improve my craft.

But here's the thing.

It seems to me that book reviewing has become a bloodsport, where the objective is not to review a book in good faith. Rather, it has become an exercise in grandstanding - of unloading with the snarkiest take downs, of maligning the writer with the slickest burns possible. It's been apparent on #Goodreads for a while - (Like, what the fuck is it with these *reviewers* and gifs??) It's also an emerging trend on Netgalley - (minus the gifs).

I generally turn around a title in 18 months to 2 years. I pour countless hours into it - honing character, setting, story into a cohesive whole. I work with an editor, a publisher, a marketer to refine the project & polish it into the best product it can be. I sweat over it. Experience sleepless nights. I run the gamut of all the highs and lows that a creative endeavor offers.

Then I, along with my publisher put it out there to garner advance appraisal, months before release. We hope for reviews because, as I said, they are important. They help to build an awareness for the product and, hopefully a positive buzz that will translate into readers.

Generally, I take a lot of notice of 3* reviews (even more than 5* or 4*) because these offer the most in terms of constructive criticism. I have yet to encounter a 1* or 2* review that offer anything of value.

Often, these reviews hide an underlying agenda and I've come to view them as the reviewer trying to build a brand of their own, which has very little to with the noble art of reviewing a book. 

Appraising an entire project, simply because a character "pissed you off" is not worth the keyboard strokes. Seriously! It just makes you look like an arsehole. Did you consider maybe that was the intention? And a 1* review that damns a project, simply because it's "Slow"?



Not every reading experience has to move like a freight train! Tell me why you thought it was slow. What was it about the structural elements of the story that failed to gel with you? Tell me why the character pissed you off.  Don't just drop these in my lap & walk away without fleshing out your reasoning. It does nothing!

There should be a commitment to learning the art of a review - & there is an art. If you're going to invest the time in crafting a review, at least work on making that review one that can help an author, rather than discourage them. If you can find nothing of value in a work, don't write a review at all. Keep your slick burns and your smart arsed gifs to yourself.

I am a writer. I believe I'm good at it - but I also believe I have more to learn.

Teach me.

DFA.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Why It Is Important To Be Creative.

I'm back with a post as part of my writers' group August blog chain challenge and, this month, the topic put to us was a question - Why is it important to be creative?

At first glance, the question appears fairly easy to answer doesn't it. 

However, I struggled to come up with an adequate answer and, for the longest time, I couldn't figure out why. It eventually struck me that I was trying to answer the question by looking outward - as though trying to impart reasons why anyone should be creative. But, that's the wrong way to tackle it. Creativity is a very personal thing and it can take so many different forms. The relationship one has with creativity is unique. It goes then, that any consideration of its importance requires that one look inward, rather than outward. So why is creativity important to me?

My love of writing began at an early age. I've often said my Grade 3 primary school teacher, Mrs. Furnell, was the individual who unlocked my creative streak during the creative writing sessions she used to run in class. Ever since then, my desire to create, to tell stories has been insatiable. It has become as much a part of me as breathing or walking.
  

As a Registered Nurse, having practiced for over 20 years in many clinical areas, I have been witness to the extremes of the human condition. A lot of these experiences have been positive - like Nursing newborns who need just a little bit of help at the beginning of their lives or Nursing various bumps and scrapes children have sustained on the sporting field or in the back yard. Things that can be fixed relatively easily. Through the tears and the worry of the patient and their family, there are often smiles and laughter and comradeship. Plenty can be fixed with a Zooper Dooper icy pole.

There have been a lot of other experiences though - like being present at traumatic presentations in the ED, like motor vehicle accidents, violent assaults - sometimes involving weapons, drug overdoses. Or in the ICU - Nursing complex disease processes, the extension of those ED presentations, children who have acquired virulent illnesses like meningococcal sespsis or have been diagnosed with cancer. Many of these cases survive and recover. Many of them do not. There have been catastrophic outcomes. There has been death. 

These experiences imprint on you and they do affect you.


Creativity in the form of writing has been a means to decompress, to escape the accumulated muck of that side of my life and engage with an art that is completely separate. Sometimes, I have written down vestiges of those clinical experiences simply as a means of trying to make sense of them, to remove their subjective effects from my mind and see them as objective experiences, which I can address, deconstruct and move on from. Sometimes, those experiences have found their way into my writing, which has been therapeutic in itself.

It's ironic isn't it. I've credited my Nursing as being an influence on my writing for this reason, but also because of the structure Nursing requires to practice effectively. Nursing involves an adherence to inquiry, to diagnosing, problem solving and crafting solutions. These tools are invaluable to me as writer as I sculpt stories using them in much the same way. So, while I write and create as a way to separate myself from my Nursing, my Nursing inevitably creeps across the fence.

Creativity is an antidote for a restless mind. I have a mind that is constantly working. I find it difficult to switch off. The world around me is such a vivid place and I often take in everything. I work it over, consider objects, smells, tastes, experiences. I ask myself questions, analyze, ponder. The noise in my head can, sometimes be deafening and it can be distressing. 

Writing is a means for me to unpack my mind and get things out so that I can become an observer of ideas, rather than a participant in them - does that make sense? Having a creative process, a method if you will, that is structured and coherent allows me to work ideas into a pre-existing project or catalog them for a future one. I've come to regard even the most disparate ideas as valuable. They are as tangible to me as a flower or a leaf, a Star Wars figurine or a piece of fruit.

Creativity, for me, is a means of maintaining mental well being as much as it is a satisfying pursuit of story telling. 

I'm sure I could explore other reasons why it is important, for me, to be creative but I think these two top the list. They represent the two greatest influences on me as a writer and also as a person. 

So, what about you? Why is it important for you to be creative? Let me know in the comments.

DFA. 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Artisan Heart Official Spotify Soundtrack Playlist

To help establish the mood of my upcoming novel "The Artisan Heart", I'm pleased to share the official Spotify soundtrack playlist for the novel with you. 

Over the past little while, I have been curating a selection of music that inspired me while I was writing the novel and I've put together a soundtrack. Featuring the music of Swear and Shake, Josh Pyke, Paul Kelly, Greta Bradman, Stereophonics, Cold Chisel and many more, this soundtrack playlist will take you on a musical journey through the story and give you an aural experience that I hope you'll enjoy. 

Just click on the image below to open the playlist in your Spotify app.




The Artisan Heart by Dean Mayes, in-stores everywhere from September 1st, 2018.




Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife, Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

Isabelle Sampi is a struggling artisan baker raising her hearing-impaired daughter, and has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.

As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.


THE ARTISAN HEART IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!


                 

     




DFA.



Announcement - Winner of The Artisan Heart Trailer Share Competition.

During July, I ran a competition to celebrate the release of the book trailer for my forthcoming novel "The Artisan Heart". I invited people across my social network to share, comment on and tell me what an artisan heart means to them. 

By entering, I offered up the opportunity for one lucky reader to win a fabulous prize pack! In partnership with Janesce Australia and Swear and Shake, this included;


* A signed paperback copy of "The Artisan Heart".
* A Gift Certificate from Janesce Australia to the value of $50 (valid on-line or in-store).
* A copy of Swear and Shake's 2016 studio album "The Sound Of Letting Go" (which served as the musical inspiration for the novel).

Today (finally!) I am pleased to announce the winner of that competition.


Bernni Davies-Jackson
of Adelaide, South Australia.

Bernni did a fantastic job of sharing the trailer across her network and calling attention to both it and the novel and I'm really thankful for her efforts.

Congratulations Bernni!

Thank you to everyone who participated in my competition. Keep your eyes on my website and blog in the coming weeks for a brand new opportunity to WIN with "The Artisan Heart." In the meantime, you can pre-order the novel ahead of its September 1st release via the links below. 




Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife, Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

Isabelle Sampi is a struggling artisan baker raising her hearing-impaired daughter, and has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.

As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.

THE ARTISAN HEART IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!


                 

     





DFA.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Adelaide - The Inspired City.

I'm trying something a little new this week. I'm a member of really lovely little writers group here in Adelaide that started as an informal forum on Facebook. We have since began having get togethers once a month in the flesh and I've been encouraged and inspired by the people I've met from the group. They are a diverse and really interesting bunch of people.

After our last meet-up, the group agreed to set a challenge for July in which we would choose a topic to blog about. The concensus fell upon the question - How has living in Adelaide inspired your writing and/or your job?

In all the years I've been posting to this blog and writing, I don't think I've ever explored this question publicly or privately so I'm actually pretty chuffed to be able to share it here for the first time.


Even after 20 years of living and working in the city of Adelaide, it remains to me, a city that hasn't quite revealed itself fully to me. I haven't gotten her full measure. Perhaps that's on me.

Like the Sting song, "An Englishman In New York", I feel like a "legal alien" here. I've actually lived here longer than I have in Victoria where I grew up, but I still feel like I don't belong. And yet, it's because of Adelaide - because of living here - that I achieved all that I have in terms of career and family and creativity. So, I am thankful to this place. It has inspired me.

As a Nurse, I've experienced more variety as a clinician than I could have imagined when I first arrived here. While the medical community is small, Adelaide does punch above her weight in many medical specialities on the world stage and it is recognized as a leader in a number of fields. I've done and seen so much - particularly in the fields of Intensive Care where I have nursed premature lives at their most precarious and adults facing the most dire of diagnoses. I've had the privilege of meeting and falling in love with my wife and raising our two children in relative comfort, making our home in the city, close to the epicentre of culture and art and entertainment. And, as a writer, Adelaide has served as the setting for two of my four novels. In writing about Adelaide, I have been able to peel back the layers of this city and discover things about it that have been inspiring, illuminating and confronting.

I have delved into her recent past to observe and document stories of marginalized people, the powerful and influential and work-a-day people like myself - those of us who are trying to serve both ends of the "people spectrum". In creating the characters and situations that appear in my novels, I have drawn upon my experiences as a Nurse working in the community among Aboriginal Australians (as I did for Gifts of the Peramangk), among transplant recipients & intensive care patients (as I did for The Recipient & The Hambledown Dream) and among children experiencing the often overwhelming environment of the paediatric emergency department (as I did for The Artisan Heart). By portraying these clinical experiences into my writing, I've been able to lend a significant level of authenticity to my stories without neglecting the dramatic elements that make for good fiction.



Adelaide is a city of contrasting moods and aesthetics which rival any of the great cities of the world. Walking through her streets and among her architecture one can feel a classic European sensibility even as her soul beats with an Australian heart. There are these nooks and crannies along the cultural precinct of North Terrace, under the swaying boughs of plane trees and the monuments to notable figures from times past that are ripe with anecdotes. There is personality and sound and climate whose moods shift from the early morning as the sun climbs over the Adelaide Hills to the fading light of dusk as twilight falls across the city and the streets are bathed in the aritficial light from so many street lamps. The city is at once cosmopolitan and vibrant even as it remains sometimes stubbornly quaint and painfully conservative.

Adelaide inspires me and my storytelling because it is tactile and immediate. I have embedded myself in this place, observed her moods, her shades, her ebb and flow. The old maxim that says writers should write what they know remains evergreen in my estimation. The internet may have afforded me the ability to travel anywhere in the world without leaving the comfort of my office chair, but nothing can compare to being able to throw on my jacket, step out of my house and be in the place with all its attendant sights and smells and tastes and life.

As I said earlier, I have yet to get the full measure of this city. Perhaps I never will. Perhaps I'm not supposed to. I will continue to discover Adelaide for as long as I live.

And perhaps that's inspiring.

DFA.

Please visit the next blog in our group's chain "Adelaide - An Inspired Life For Writing" from Ryan Peck. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Book Trailer Premiere - The Artisan Heart by Dean Mayes

Australian author Dean Mayes and Central Avenue Publishing are proud to present the official book trailer for Dean's highly anticipated new novel "The Artisan Heart", which will be released world wide on September 1st 2018.

Featuring music from "Swear and Shake" with haunting vocals from Kari Spieler, "The Artisan Heart" trailer showcases the mood and the romance of Dean's long awaited return to his romantic roots in a tender story of damaged hearts and second chances.




Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife, Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

Isabelle Sampi is a struggling artisan baker raising her hearing-impaired daughter, and has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.

As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.

THE ARTISAN HEART IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!


                 

     


WIN WITH THE ARTISAN HEART.


To celebrate the release of the trailer for "The Artisan Heart" Dean is giving one lucky reader the opportunity to win a fabulous prize pack! In partnership with Janesce Australia and Swear and Shake, Dean is offering;

* A signed paperback copy of "The Artisan Heart".
* A Gift Certificate from Janesce Australia to the value of $50 (valid on-line or in-store).
* A copy of Swear and Shake's 2016 studio album "The Sound Of Letting Go" (which served as the musical inspiration for the novel).

WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO.

To be in the running to win, entrants can do either of the following;

* Visit Dean Mayes - The Hambledown Dreamer at Facebook. Like the page and share the pinned post featuring the trailer. Tag Dean in your post and include the hash-tag #TheArtisanHeart. 

* Comment on this post below and tell Dean in 25 words or less what intrigues you the most about The Artisan Heart. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. 

For those of you who are active on Twitter, follow Dean's account @Hambledown_Road, like and quote re-tweet the pinned post at the top of Dean's feed. Tag @Hambledown_Road in your re-tweet and include the hash-tag #TheArtisanHeart.

For those of you who are active on Instagram, follow Dean's account - deanfromaustralia, like the post featuring the trailer for The Artisan Heart and repost it on your own feed, Mention deanfromaustralia in your post and include the hash-tag #TheArtisanHeart.

At this time, The Artisan Heart competition is open to entries world wide and will run from today until midnight on Sunday, July 15th 2018.

Please join Dean and Central Avenue Publishing in celebrating the release of the official trailer for Dean's highly anticipated new novel "The Artisan Heart" - available in-stores and on-line everywhere from September 1st, 2018.

DFA.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Home & The Artisans - An Evening With Greta Bradman.

On Friday evening, I fulfilled something of a promise to myself that had been delayed for a couple of years, owing to the recent challenges I've had health wise - of which regular readers of my blog will no doubt be aware. 

Having parted company with my wife and son, who were off to a thrilling AFL match between Port Adelaide and Melbourne at the Adelaide Oval, my daughter Lucy and I went to see our first performance by Australian soprano Greta Bradman at St. Peter's Cathedral. 

Greta is touring around Australia presently, in support of her new album release 'Home' - a lovingly curated selection of music inspired by her love of home, family and love itself.


(image credit: Decca/Universal.) 

Already the album has proven a hit with fans around the world, continuing an upward trajectory for Greta, which has just been so wonderful to observe since she began performing back in 2010.


Accompanied by acclaimed classical pianist Kate Johnson, the capacity audience were taken on a lovely ride through the very essence of Home, which was presented musically as a concept as much as it was a place.


(Acclaimed pianist, Kate Johnson and Lucy.)

The performance itself, in the hallowed environs of Adelaide's glorious Cathedral was at once intimate, soulful, uplifting, and utterly romantic. We we're treated to a repertoire that included movements from Dvořák, Rimksy-Korsakov, Schubert, Chopin, Handel and composers with a much more personal connection to Greta herself. I couldn't go without mentioning one special tune, composed by Greta's grandfather, titled "Everyday Is A Rainbow For Me." Written as a loving tribute to the girl who became his wife, Greta reached across time to pluck this beautiful flower from her grandfather's far away garden and share it with us here in the present. It was an exquisite and personal moment.


(image credit Albert Comper/Lynn Elzinga-Henry.)

What struck me the most about Greta's performance was her relationship with the Cathedral itself. She was cognizant of every nook and cranny of the building, its illustrious curves, its rafters, the volume of the space. How Greta adapted her vocal technique to accommodate her surrounds was fascinating to behold and she projected her voice effortlessly up into the lofty heights above us, delivering through out the building. In chatting with other audience members after the performance, it was clear that no matter where you were in the building, the aural experience was equal. Greta and the Cathedral had a mutual understanding, and were as much a partnership with one another as Greta and her pianist Kate. 
Everyone was drawn into her sphere by the end of the first half. 

And then, a moment happened, that will stay with me and Lucy for the rest of our lives. 

During an interval between songs, Greta related a story about her experience of having had throat surgery a couple of years ago, which would have been quite a risk to her career. 

During that time, she received correspondence from a "bloke" (that made me smile) who was undergoing similar surgery - the first having occurred on the exact same day as hers. 

That correspondence turned into a lovely back and forth over the past couple of years in which Greta and this man encouraged each other and checked in on each others progress. 

She then looked straight at me and said, "That bloke is in the audience tonight. His name is Dean and I'm so thrilled I will finally get to meet him after all this time. I want dedicate this next song - Bach's "Ave Maria" to Dean - to us both - who'd lost our voices and found them again."

To say that I was floored would be an understatement. To say that I was emotional would be accurate. 

Greta fulfilled her promise and we had a lovely moment after her performance, embracing as though we were old friends. We chatted about the performance, with Greta relating her impressions of that special relationship with the Cathedral I mentioned earlier. Greta remarked about how it had evolved from the first time she'd performed there to now and how she understood the building and its eccentricities. I appreciated the meaning of that. Greta engaged in a wonderful chat with Lucy about her dance classes and the upcoming school holidays.

During our chat, I was able to gift her an advance copy of The Artisan Heart. Before I left home, I'd stowed it in my shoulder bag, in the vague hope to leave the copy of the novel with Greta's tour staff.


As a tribute to the connection we'd made, Greta appears in a brief passage in the novel. It was my way of saying thank you to her. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe I would have the opportunity to present it to her herself.



(Artisans together - The Soprano, The Writer and Lucy.)

After a photo together, we parted and Lucy and I braved the chilly Adelaide evening to make our way to the Pancake Kitchen for a post performance dessert treat. We were both buzzing over the evening we'd had and the special moments we shared together.

Greta and Kate will go on to tour her album until mid July here in Australia. I'm so thrilled that so many more music lovers will have the opportunity to experience her magic.


'Home' the new album from Greta Bradman is out now

For tour dates, visit Greta Bradman here.



DFA. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Dangerous Ideas - The Burden of Expectation by Jennifer S. Alderson

I'm continuing my series of guest posts around Dangerous Ideas and this week, I'm pleased to welcome travel writer and author Jennifer S. Alderson to take the reins of my blog. Jennifer is a travel mystery writer whose novels visit exotic locations and conjure wonderful visuals and descriptions whilst entertaining readers with cracking mysteries that really involve you. Today, Jennifer has offered to explore the idea of fulfilling - or not fulfilling - the expectations of readers.

Is it dangerous not to fulfill reader’s expectations?

A social media conversation I had with Dean Mayes about reader’s expectations – in his case a man writing romance –made me think about my latest release and the unrealistic expectations my setting and plot may be creating for prospective readers.


Jennifer S. Alderson (image credit Fototeam.nl)

My latest novel, Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery, is set in the Asmat region of Papua in the 1962 – when it was a colony of the Netherlands known as Dutch New Guinea. For virtually everyone who knows about the Asmat, headhunting is the first thing that comes to mind. Though it is true, this is only one aspect of their intricate culture.

While conducting research for an exhibition of Asmat art in the Tropenmuseum, I read many first-hand accounts written by missionaries, explorers and anthropologists working in the region when it was still a colony. The area was known as a sort Wild West – untamed wilderness and people whose spiritual beliefs were vastly different than western ones. Though several of these travel diaries describe the ferocity of tribal skirmishes and headhunting raids, what stayed with me most were the constant references to the Asmat’s shyness. These striped, feathered, bone-wearing headhunters were shy? It seemed hard to fathom, based on the usual descriptions I come across of the Asmat and the island of Papua New Guinea in general.


In my novel, you won’t find descriptions of headhunting raids or cannibalism. This wasn’t a conscious decision to be politically correct or anything like that. When I began writing Rituals of the Dead, the idea of these fierce warriors being shy kept flitting to the forefront of my thoughts. Perhaps I over compensated by not including a single passage about these practices, but they are not essential to my story. There was no reason to include such information in my book, except sensationalism. Or perhaps, to stay true to readers expectations and assumptions about the region.

I hope my portrayal of the Asmat in the early 1960s is not off-putting, and that readers come away with a broader view of the Asmat, colonial relations and the work of missionaries in the region.

I am truly curious to see how readers react to the story and my descriptions!

Authors, do you think it is dangerous to not fulfill reader’s expectations? Readers, do you enjoy reading books that challenge your assumptions about other cultures and countries?


About Jennifer:

Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam (the Netherlands). Her love of travel, art, and culture inspires her ongoing mystery series, the Adventures of Zelda Richardson. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.

In Down and Out in Kathmandu, Zelda gets entangled with a gang of smugglers whose Thai leader believes she’s stolen his diamonds. The Lover’s Portrait is a suspenseful “whodunit?” about Nazi-looted artwork that transports readers to wartime and present-day Amsterdam. Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Rituals of the Dead, a thrilling artifact mystery set in Dutch New Guinea (Papua) and the Netherlands.

The Lover’s Portrait was Chill With A Book’s January 2018 Book of the Month and won the Silver Cup in Rosie’s Book Review Team 2017 Awards, Mystery category. It also won a Chill With A Book Readers’ Award, Readers’ Favorite 5 star medal, was one of The Displaced Nation magazine’s Top 36 Expat Fiction Picks of 2016, and came in at 14 in BookLife’s 2016 Prize for Fiction in the Mystery category. The Lover’s Portrait was also one of Women Writers, Women’s Books magazine’s Recommended Reads for April 2017.


Her travelogue, Notes of a Naive Traveler, is a must-read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to travel to – Nepal and Thailand. It was also awarded a Readers’ Favorite 5 star medal.


Visit Jennifer S. Alderson here

Purchase Jennifer S. Alderson's books here.

Connect with Jennifer S. Alderson here

Tweet with Jennifer S. Alderson here.

DFA.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dean Mayes Talks With ABC Gippsland's Laura Poole.

This week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Laura Poole of ABC Gippsland's Mornings program and have a chat about my forthcoming novel "The Artisan Heart". During our conversation, Laura asked me what was the impetus for me to set my novel in the former gold mining town of Walhalla, what attracted me (a man) to writing in the romance genre and what challenges did I encounter in my desire to portray a character who is deaf.

The interview clocks in at just under 11 minutes and I'm really pleased with how it went. You can listen to it now via Sound Cloud. 

"The Artisan Heart" will be available internationally from September 1st, 2018.

DFA.




Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Day I Broke My Brain by Darron Eastwell.

There are some remarkable human stories around that leave me in awe of the human condition and humbled by the grit, determination and endurance people find in their darkest hours. 

Darron Eastwell is one such individual. 

Darron and I were acquainted when we were kids. He and my brother played junior football together and I was the team's trainer at the time. As often happens, lives go in different directions after high school and it's been a good 20 years since we've spoken. Darron and I recently reconnected and I came to learn that he has had quite a life changing experience in the past few years, the details of which are recorded in his powerful memoir "The Day I Broke My Brain".



In May of 2015, successful banking executive Darron Eastwell said goodbye to his wife Bianca, with plans for an exciting day of mountain biking at Tewantin National Park. No one could have known that the day would end with Darron lying in a coma, his very future uncertain. 

Darron emerged from that experience as a brain injury survivor. In The Day I Broke My Brain, he chronicles his struggles to regain his foothold on life. This is not a book to be read only by those looking for information about traumatic brain injury. Rather, this is a true-to-life story of overcoming the most difficult of circumstances with courage, perseverance, and a dash of humor. Readers will gain inspiration as they walk with Darron through hardship, anguish, and pain.



Author & Public Speaker, Darron Eastwell. 

The Day I Broke My Brain is a unique memoir indeed. Given the seriousness of Darron's brain injury - he suffered what is known as Diffuse Axonal Injury, one of the most extreme forms of brain injury - it is quite an achievement for Darron to have written his account. While it isn't a long book, The Day I Broke My Brain is a no holds barred reflection on the circumstances of his accident and his recovery. His wife Bianca contributes her own experience of picking up the pieces in the immediate aftermath of the accident. I thought this was particularly moving because we get an insight of a family dealing with this tragic event, rather than a focus on the individual at the center of it. To have gone from an idyllic life before the accident to having their world thrown upside down was compelling and emotionally absorbing. There was no certainty for them and you feel that the further you read into the book. There are moments of humor throughout as well, particularly during Darron journey through his rehabilitation. It is said that good humor is as much a therapy in and of itself and I'm sure it helped Darron and Bianca many times during their darkest moments. 

The Day I Broke My Brain is an inspirational story of courage and endurance in the face of an almost catastrophic physical injury. I was moved by Darron's story.



A former career banker, Darron Eastwell is now a public speaker and advocate for Traumatic Brain Injury. Despite the injuries he sustained, he retains that same drive to succeed, which has enabled him overcome insurmountable odds. 

Darron and his family reside on the Sunshine Coast in southern Queensland, Australia.

Purchase The Day I Broke My Brain here

Visit Darron Eastwell here

Facebook with Darron here

DFA.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Dangerous Ideas - About Control. A Guest Post by Tracy S. Lawson.

Today, I'm welcoming an exciting dystopian fiction author to the blog with another in my ongoing series of guest posts around Dangerous Ideas. 

Tracy S. Lawson circled into my orbit recently with her outstanding Resistance series, chronicling a near future America that has come under authoritarian control. A group of freedom fighters emerge from the shadows, railing against the administration's enforcement regime and an epic contest ensues that will decide the fate of the country's freedom. 

So without further ado, here's Tracy;


What if you’d been told you were in danger every minute of every day? What if you were told to take extraordinary precautions to stay safe–until extraordinary started to feel…ordinary? It’s hard to stay afraid all the time. Maybe, after a while, you’d just learn to tune it out. But if you did, whoever it was that needed you to be afraid would have to up their game…



Author Tracy S. Lawson.

In my Resistance Series books, Tommy and Careen, the eighteen-year-old protagonists, live in 2034, in an alternate-reality version of the United States. Most of the freedoms that today’s young adults enjoy have been curtailed, in the name of preventing terrorist attacks. 

The Civilian Restrictions that have been in place nearly all of their lives forbid people to gather in public places. Cash has been eliminated, and any exchange of goods and services between individuals is not permitted. 


The Resistance Series by Tracy S. Lawson.

Only a select few, mostly high-ranking government workers, are granted driving privileges, and the food supply has been brought under government control to protect it from being tainted. 

When I started writing this series back in 2010, the premise seemed a bit far-fetched. I’d never want any of the young people I know to suffer what my characters endure. But now when I turn on the news, it seems like they’re stealing my stuff.  

In Counteract, Tommy and Careen meet during a terrorist attack, and when they discover their government is pulling strings behind the scenes, using the attacks to keep people frightened and begging for protection, they join an underground rebel group that will stop at nothing to expose the truth.



Careen & Tommy (art by Will No Name).

There are plenty of books about dystopian societies in which people are treated as children or slaves, ostensibly to protect them. Eventually, the protagonists’ dissatisfaction and/or curiosity come to the fore, and the circumstances of their society’s structure are revealed as an attempt to destroy humanistic attitudes and desires, such as curiosity, creativity, innovation, and hope for the future.

There is an optimal level of safety and security. We just don’t know what it is. When we seek security, we must expect to give up some freedom. 

In today’s society, many kids look forward to the typical teenager’s rites of passage—going places without their parents, dating, and obtaining a driver’s license. 

Tommy and Careen inhabit a society in which the few remaining restaurants are patronized only by the wealthy. Most people can barely afford the cost of their weekly food allotment, which is assembled and distributed by the government’s Essential Services department.  A simple “let me buy you breakfast” is an extravagant gesture, and a pizza date would be completely out of the question. 

Shopping malls and cinemas have been closed in the name of safety, because large, open places where groups of people gather are easy marks for terrorist attacks. Professional sporting events and concerts are televised, but safety dictates the athletes and artists perform to empty arenas. No one but government officials are allowed to drive cars, because it’s irresponsible to allow just anyone access to something that can be used as a weapon.

Growing up is more than just enjoying the privileges of a certain age. In a society where freedoms are curtailed, how would the young people learn to take care of themselves?

The teens I asked said that growing up means, in part:

-taking responsibility for one’s actions

-solving one’s problems, not expecting someone else to drop everything and come to the rescue

-not going along with the crowd

-being yourself

-standing up for what is right



Tommy and Careen, who are among the first generation to grow up with the Restrictions, are lucky to have parents who’ve taught them some of the skills they’ll need to survive. But what of the younger children? And those yet to be born? How long before the individual’s survival skills are completely lost, and the only way to live is at the mercy of the guiding hand that promises safety?

The government’s mantra in the Resistance Series books is: “It’s a small price to pay for your safety.” Not just the individual, but society as a whole, will pay the price.

Learn more about Tracy and her books at the Resistance Series Fan Site here

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DFA.