Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sample Sunday: haiku from my new book

Hi, happy Sunday to ya! Here are some haiku from my forthcoming book, Life's Rhythms, which is coming very soon, published by InknBeans Press ... 

In blue essence deep
The old wise ones turn to sleep
Where lost shadows weep

Time ticks, tock tick tock,
Shadows curse the chill hour -
Deathly midnight, hush

Raspberries blood red
Ripe, soft and so succulent
Chilled ice-cream slithers

Almonds and sweet cream
Filled cakes depart from this world -
Yum, straight into my tum!

The sheltering moon,
Beneath her glimmer they roam -
Free, the wild wolves howl

Tinkle of a bell –
Leaping he snatches the bird,
Heart beating softly

We wake in the morn,
Escaping dreams we lived in
As light breaks the dark

In haste we are born,
Only to struggle searching
The purest of heart

Candles dripping drop
Falling fiery yellow,
Burns in the shy hand

Chasing the endless
She dreams of the living dolls
Breathing their lost lives

Timeless, it still stands ­
Relic to an ancient god
Tells of a distant sun

In the dry still heat
The lizard basks, eyes aloft
Watching out for lunch

Ice blows a blanket –
Protects the silent sleeping
Bears that birth tonight

Monday, 21 May 2012

Words with: David Antrobus

Thanks to David Antrobus, author of Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip,
for this interview. Happy reading!

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?

My day job is editing, but it is very feast-or-famine, and can only end in complete and utter disaster unless something changes.

What books have you written so far?

Just the one: Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip.

What works in progress do you have?

Its sequel – a ten-year anniversary account of my return to the scene of the crime, so to speak. 

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

Way, way too long. Everything I write takes way, way too long. If the rest of my life moved as slow, I’d still be, like, eleven or something.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants? 

Mostly by the seat of my pants and jumping around, which makes me sound like a hyperactive child, which kind of works with my last answer.

Why do you write? 
To repay a debt with something awful that visited me when I was a child. You know, I’m gonna let that answer stand as it has the creepy ring of truth.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was probably around… ha, eleven! Not even kidding.

Where and when do you write? Do you have set times?

No, but I ought to. I need to. I get caught up in the peripheral stuff – the marketing, promotion and social networking we’re urged to do, as independent writers – and writing takes a back seat far too often. I am working on tweaking that ratio. No, not tweaking it; slapping it around, making it mad, getting a reaction, wrestling for a while until the glow from the great make-up sex helps me rediscover a better balance. Uh, what?

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like? 
I have a dark fantasy novel that I swear will be awesome if I could only ever get to it, to even think about completing it. Anyway, not that he’s like me in many ways – some, perhaps. But the protagonist – a 16-year-old (not eleven!) kid – is one of my favourite characters I’ve ever generated.

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

Other writers and my mom. I’m being serious, too. My mother is a reader, has been all her life, and gave me both source material and then encouragement with my own writing. That latest edition of the Pan Book of Horror she strategically left in my room after she’d read it was my first introduction to the genre I love the most.

Other sources of inspiration, probably too numerous to mention (and I always leave authors out and kick myself mercilessly and violently afterward): Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Ian McEwan, Ted Hughes, William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Clive Barker, John Farris, Peter Straub, Dan Simmons, Milan Kundera, Sylvia Plath, Cormac McCarthy, Andrew Vachss, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Roberto BolaƱo…

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?

Disturbing, odd, equal parts character- and atmosphere-driven, with a poetic sensibility, yet not too flowery. That treats language as something physical or musical. That can go in deep and pull out emotions I’d not thought reachable by any story. Something both disquieting and enchanting, with identifiable yet un-stereotypical characters. I don’t ask a lot, do I?

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? And did you tell them?

Really, I think they all are, but honestly, that process is subconscious for me, so I’m not able to tell them as I don’t actually know myself.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song? place? item of clothing?

Wolf; Italian; Mulholland Drive (today, at least); something dark or autumnal; New Order (today, at least); Uptown Top Ranking by Althea and Donna (today, at least); English Bay in Vancouver; and an old T-shirt, long gone to wherever T-shirts go to die, which read ‘One day, something snapped… and I liked it’.

When you were a kid, what did you want to do/who did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be Spiderman. And I also wanted to be the first astronaut on Mars. Hey, have Marvel Comics come up with that one yet? Spiderman on Mars!

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?

Still working on them. Actually, I kind of accepted I wouldn’t be Spiderman pretty much ever (okay, alright, never, way to rub my face in it), and the Mars thing is probably a wash, too. I guess it’s theoretically possible, but I’d have to get in shape way more than I am and my mental faculties have probably deteriorated a lot… but if you’re reading this, NASA… *waves*

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…

Wow, that was strange; I swear I didn’t read ahead! 
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Stand by Stephen King
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Saturday by Ian McEwan
I cheated, I know. But I figure a Martian, with a different physiological and evolutionary path, may well use an alternative counting system due to a different array of digits, so I could probably sneak six past him or her.

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

There are too many, way too many. If I start to answer, I’ll be here for hours! Maybe I’ll think about this and write a blog post based on this one question alone. I will say the very first character that popped into my sorry mind was Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, which is kind of interesting in that she’s young, female, southern and likeable; everything I’m not, really.

Who is your hero/heroine? 
No one. I don’t mean that in an arrogant sense. Just that we’re all flawed, even the well-known icons, and for me the people most deserving of being called heroic are generally the unheralded and unknown – those working with addicts in the Downtown East Side area of Vancouver, for example, who show up for work in an extremely stressful environment, get paid very little in a comparative sense, and are not armed or in any way able to protect themselves physically other than by using their compassion and people skills to actually connect with and engage a volatile and hurting population. I mean, it’s a lot easier when you’re packing, you know? Those 6 o’clock news stories of ‘hero’ soldiers or ‘hero’ cops really ring hollow to me that way. Wow, I got all serious there, for a minute, didn’t I?

Which book do you wish you had written?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Such a simple premise, so heartbreaking, so lyrical and so bleak, yet not entirely.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?

Shakespeare. Because how cool would that be, showing up at your local with the actual Bard, the original alpha dog himself?
Dorothy Parker. Because she was raunchy and funny, and completely irreverent.
Hunter S. Thompson. Because his addition would now complete the wildest of wild parties. It would be a riot, perhaps even literally. I would buy plenty of alcohol and take lots of notes and photos.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?

Self-published. The extraneous stuff is hard. The mechanics of self-publishing itself were relatively easy, a bit of a learning curve but doable, but the subsequent promotional work is all-consuming, exhausting and not all that enjoyable. Except for one important aspect: meeting and befriending fellow writers turns out to be a happy corollary to the otherwise tedious and unsatisfying business of selling oneself on the indie writer’s low track stroll. Not johns, but fellow whores, in a sense. Maybe that explains the camaraderie. Who knows?

How do you find the marketing experience?

Ha, see previous answer.

What advice would you give other writers just starting out?  

Write for you and for no one else, and learn the business yet avoid being consumed by it all. It can be overwhelming, but if you are good and you leave time for the writing itself, you will be okay.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?

I do. It’s called The Migrant Type and can be found at It’s probably my fourth or fifth blog, and I really want to maintain this one and nurture it, and help it find a niche in the world of writing blogs over the long haul. It’s almost entirely about the world of writing and features reviews, short fiction and my occasional musings about some aspect of books or other. It has yet to find its feet, and tends to lurch back and forth a little jarringly at this point, but I hope to continue building it, and attracting thoughtful and interesting followers.

What other hobbies do you have?

Music, music, music; both to listen to and to play on my guitar… at which I am relatively talentless yet enjoy anyway, even to the point of risking eviction by occasionally employing a singing voice that sounds more like it belongs somewhere within the genus Corvus (Google it) than in a human throat.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

I want people to read my books. I want to become more prolific. I want that to translate into greater sales so I can at the very least supplement the editing work I do, if not surpass it. I don’t tend to attract money –having worked with abused kids in a previous career and done odd jobs like delivering the mail, cleaning up tables at a Butlins holiday camp (oh, I have stories) and stacking shelves in a grocery store – but if, as appears likely, I have to support myself beyond retirement age one day, why not figure out how to do this now so it can save my sorry ass then?

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?

Breathe a sigh of relief, help out some people close to me who also need it, and then keep doing what I’m doing.

Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less… 

Choice 2. In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest...
…something unnatural thrived. Countless centuries it had squatted there, gathering the bile and hatred of generations, feeding on the worst excesses of humankind. Soon, it would be ready. To burst from its underground lair like a blighted fungus dripping infection onto the surrounding villages, bringing ruin to the towns and then the cities… but there was one thing of which it was unaware: whatever cosmic event had birthed it, to settle into the mulch of the world in its youth, had also let fall another, a twin of sorts, that itself pulsed in a nearby mountain cave, absorbing the good and kind deeds of those same men and women, that would stand as the other’s antithesis, allowing a final hope; a foil for the coming apocalypse.
(I would title that one Our Choice.)

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?

I wish you’d asked ‘What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?”’
And the answer would be: this one. Whoa.


Editing service:

Website and author pages:

Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip:

Friday, 18 May 2012

CreateSpace discovers Europe!

Great news yesterday for those of us in the UK and Europe! We're now on the map!
CreateSpace has just launched free distribution in Europe and improved payment options. I'm so thrilled. I have a US publisher, and we haven't been able to offer paperbacks in the UK where I live! Now we can! And that's just brilliant. 

For anyone who hasn't heard the news...

Make your book available
to readers in Europe.
Distribute your book on Amazon’s European websites for FREE.
CreateSpace is making it easier for you to reach
readers across Europe once your book is published.
You can now distribute your book directly
through Amazon’s European websites, including,,,,
Plus, we’re also offering our European members
more flexible payment options for our
industry-leading royalties. You can now select direct
deposit in Europe and get paid in British pounds or 
Euro – it’s your choice.
Take advantage of this opportunity and
distribute your book in Europe to help
you earn more royalties.

• It’s free and easy to
   get started
• Your book is always
   in stock
• Get paid in the
   currency of your
   choice ($/£/€)
• 24/7 world-class
• Click to learn more

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Soul Herder Blog Tour: Beth Elisa Harris

Today, I'm pleased to introduce Beth Elisa Harris, author of Vision, the first book in her trilogy starring Layla.

This is the eighth stop on her blog tour to welcome the release of the second book in the trilogy, Soul Herder - look out for it on 1 May!

Where did the idea come from for the VISION trilogy?

About ten years ago, we discovered some family history in Colonsay, an island off the coast of Scotland. We learned about our clan and others. From there my imagination took over. I’ve always been fascinated with the power of the sixth sense and human connection. The trilogy formed because I needed to tell Layla’s story over a period of time, and it spans long periods of time.

SOUL HERDER, the second in the trilogy, is set for release on May 1. What can readers expect?

In VISION, readers are introduced to Layla, her family and her boyfriend, and they learn about her history. Her Clear abilities – the profound capacity to read thoughts and predict events through dreams – create danger and geo-political interest, and bad things happen. She has a unique relationship with her mum and a woman from Colonsay, which blows the lid off life as she knows it. She discovers her connections and why she can no longer lead a normal life.

In SOUL HERDER, Layla is transformed. Without giving the story away, it’s a game changer. Layla goes from isolated bookworm to a significant global citizen almost overnight. My hope is that when readers finish this book, they will recognise it is a story about transformation, connection, power and fulfilling destiny. The geo-political component adds a complex dimension, but, most importantly, Layla is not the same girl who left Portland the previous year. There is also tons of action in SOUL HERDER, including an intense battle scene.

What can we expect in the final book and is there a release date?

WRITTEN IN TIME will conclude the trilogy and go further back in history to unveil how Layla’s prophesy came to be. It will also reveal the origins of the Bane revenge for power and land. Enough said! We are aiming for a release towards the end of the year. It’s ambitious – two in one year – but I have other projects I’m working on, and I really want to have the full trilogy out there for readers while I turn my attention to other partially written books. As much as I love the story and characters, it will be time to say goodbye after the third and final book. I am sure I will cry, as I did with the others!

Describe a typical day as an author

The first thing I do is check emails and social media to see if there are any hot issues to tend. Then I either work on whatever book I’m writing, or I’m editing or formatting. I write well in the morning through to noon, and prefer minimal conversing during that time. After that, I work on what seems most pressing. I don’t need inspiration or a particular place or a particular song playing to write. I don’t get writer’s block. I just require time and maybe some caffeine!

What inspires you to tell stories?

Yikes! Well, when I was just learning to speak, my mom used to tell me how I would not leave her alone to use the restroom. She would hear me breathing under the door and I would beg her to let me in so I could tell her a story. So, the inclination started early. I am not sure where the inspiration comes from – people always ask me how I ‘come up with this stuff’ and I can only respond by saying ‘it just does’. I can create a story around just about anything – the challenge is determining whether that story can be expanded into a book, and an interesting one that people will want to read. 

I want interesting things to happen to my characters. I admire fearless storytelling, when authors go to places that others dare not tread. I can handle dark places, but give the reader something that is redeeming, that inspires or connects in some way. Otherwise, I think it’s a letdown and a negative experience. Fiction has the power to uplift and change people. I can finish a book and be a little sad, but I don’t want to be angry or feel the situation didn’t resolve well.

What can we expect after the trilogy?

There are a few projects on the burner. One I started awhile back called FLYERS, about a young woman and others with the ability of flight. I am really excited about getting that published. I’m also working on a story about a mother who judges her daughter’s boyfriend based on appearance, and the fallout caused by her actions. Those are just two. It’s exciting!

In your blogs, you talk a lot about the business of writing. Is being an author worth the time spent on the business side of the industry?

Ideally, I think most authors, if given a choice, would opt to write all day. The business side is unglamorous and requires a ton of daily attention, but it’s necessary to connect with readers, grow sales and promote your work. There is no way around it, unless you are not trying to make a name for yourself and earn a living. So, yes, it’s worth the time, energy and effort, because selling books allows you to continue writing. It’s all connected.

What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

Honestly, I agonise over every word, sentence and paragraph. I lie awake in bed rephrasing something I’ve written and can’t relax until I’ve made the change, or at least jotted it down so I remember later. There are countless ways of saying something. I consider how the character speaks – is it true to their speech pattern and vocabulary? When you write a series, the voices become second nature because you know the characters well. In the VISION trilogy, Layla grows, matures and changes through the books, so her voice evolves. Stuart, on the other hand, is steadfast, although in SOUL HERDER we see more of his thick dialect, influenced by years of living in proper times!

Hop to Beth's blog to follow her blog tour -


Twitter: @Bethelisaharris

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Children's Week Giveaway Hop Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered the Children's Week Giveaway Hop competition. 

Congratulations to the winners - I'm whizzing a coupon for Kiwi in Cat City your way.

Happy reading and writing !

The winners:

Entry #44Rachael H.
Entry #7Kathy C.
Entry #35Perogyo
Entry #49Maegan M.
Entry #51Darlene's B.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sample Sunday: poetry

Poetry from Kaleidoscope & Travelling Light


She sits and dreams of making rain
In the dark, shadows dancing mimic
Colours of the aghast
Sights and sounds and murmurs
Still breathing
Watching over the edge
Of everything
The glass splinters into a million shapes
Cast in a myriad of lights
Bright and sparkling, dancing
In the spring sun
And she dreams of making rain
That tears and crashes
Washing away the shards of glass
Splattering the colours rent
With droplets of ice-cold nothing
Cuts and caresses
Shards of grass peeking through
Clouds gathering

Moon beams

Distancing the days
In her fragile accolade
The moon reaches down
Towards coloured boats bobbing
Twinkling she shines
Lighting the way
For every stranger passing
And old friends returning
She travels the skies
In a silvery glide
Always remembering
The shortness of time

I don’t mind

I don’t mind
If you stare
Or paint the room in blue
While I sleep

I don’t mind
If you walk a while
Or smile in your style
And mimic your expression

I don’t mind
If the urge to be is too much
Or the strength to see is gone
While I dream

So we go

Into the night we go
Free as birds
Soundless and unseen
Trivial and green
Unknowing, unthinking
With no boundaries
No obstacles –
With wings, groundless


Ballet dancers painted by Degas
Bright sweeps across a canvas
Lithe bodies captured in movement
On tiptoes, a fleet of lace

Swan Lake shimmers in snow
White tufts of hazy dew
Tap-tap tapping across the stage
Soaring then to sink and fly

Leaping skyward full of life
Jumping in motions eternal
Over again in a silent curve
Showering the empty stage

Danced out and spent
They sit and wait chattering
Dizzy with a bright energy
That leaves them laughing

Painted with a sharp compass
That scrapes across the skin
The model suffers for her art
But marvels at the result

Captured for an eternity
She shares an enigmatic smile
Standing tall and straight
As still as a porcelain doll


Moonlight remonstrance
Of a twilight dance
Sends shivers through winter
Blessing in disguise
Chills the epoch of time


Gothic glimpses of golden ages
Stricken dumb in unseen places
Giddy up the days in faces
Come and see the wilder traces
Of days once lived and glances

Journey into the darkest hour
Murder wrapt and bloody sour
Into arms of grim dark ardour
Come and see the wilder fervour
Of days once lived of dusty glamour

Scan all the yawning faces scowling
Poor and cold in the daylight yearning
For food and shelter in the dawning
While night unravels winter’s drowning
Of sorrows in ales and dark prowling

The fine woman in furs slips her mask
In the light she regrets her one task
That night brings with a single cask
Forgetting numbness come here fast
Lest morning remembers this time past

Gothic glimpses of fallen ages
Trembling across unwritten pages
Lived and dreamt on wooden stages
Fuelled by fire and unlocked cages
Come and see the magic of mages


Acorns in the sand
Grow into bullets in the hand
Wedged still and deep
Bringers of eternal sleep
Smashing a world of hate
That reaps a many splintered fate

Copyright Vickie Johnstone