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Tuesday 10 September 2013

Exclusive Author Interview : Laura Thomas

About the author: 

Laura Michelle Thomas of Laura Thomas Communications, is doing an excellent job at mentoring young minds in the publishing industry.Her LTC website states, "Our mission at Laura Thomas Communications is to foster the development of young writers worldwide through quality contests, conferences, blogging, books, and educational resources."

About the Book:

Polly Wants to Be a Writer is an imaginative urban fantasy, complete with nefarious villains, intrigue, complex interwoven backstories, evil plots, and a good deal of solid advice on how to become a writer. It is an engaging read, crafted to capture the imagination of young, aspiring writers.

In the wake of her parents’ separation, Polly, a fifteen-year-old wannabe writer, comes face to face with her inner dragon, a truculent, impatient creature who is a talented but frightful critic of her writing. With the help of Ms. Patience Whitford, a literary dragon trainer and leader of a global writing guild, Polly faces the almost impossible task of going beyond her “good ideas” to finish a publishable piece of fiction. All the while, Polly and her dragon, Scrum, become entangled in a dangerous scheme that threatens the future of every writer on the planet.


Your initiative, your website and workshops are all so inspiring for young writers the world over. There must be a story behind this?

Yes, and it's purely selfish. It's about my own struggle to become a writer. Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, writing was not part of the school curriculum outside English class, which I wasn't a fan of. And no one in my extended family or network of friends earned their living in the arts. I wanted to be a writer as a teen, but I had no idea how or where to do that. As a result I didn't start taking my writing seriously until I was well out of high school. Then, it was the rise of the "Idol" shows that made me realize that writing is still very hidden compared to other art forms, so I decided to do my part to help support young writers. It started with workshops and online courses, then the contest, now my whole business is about helping them. And I know from the daily email and comments I received that I'm making a difference. That keeps me going.

Tell us something about your book Polly Wants To Be a writer.

 Polly Wants to Be a Writer comes directly from my experience teaching creative writing to youth for the past several years. My first draft was a non-fiction, how-to book. But then my years of being a professional storyteller kicked in, and I rewrote it as a novel. It is a great, fast-paced story with solid writing advice. I think you will see the book show up as required reading in English and Creative Writing classes.

What is it that triggered the thought of writing what you discuss daily into a book?

See above 

How does it feel to interact with and mentor young/prospective writers the world over, who have unbridled imagination and abundance of ideas?

LOL. Young writers (like fifteen-year-old Polly in Polly Wants to Be a Writer) are full of ideas, but they struggle to get them down into a finished piece that is worthy of submitting to a contest or publisher. This is the thing: from the outside writing looks easy, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is an art and a craft that takes time and a lot of practice to develop. When I see a young writer finally grasp that fact and push on, I know that I have saved them years of struggling. That feels great.

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Sunday 8 September 2013

Author Interview : Jamie Baywood

Getting Rooted in New Zealand By Jamie Baywood

Getting Rooted in New Zealand book description:

Craving change and lacking logic, at 26, Jamie, a cute and quirky Californian, impulsively moves to New Zealand to avoid dating after reading that the country's population has 100,000 fewer men. 

In her journal, she captures a hysterically honest look at herself, her past and her new wonderfully weird world filled with curious characters and slapstick situations in unbelievably bizarre jobs. It takes a zany jaunt to the end of the Earth and a serendipitous meeting with a fellow traveler before Jamie learns what it really means to get rooted.

About the author Jamie Baywood:

Jamie Baywood grew up in Petaluma, California. In 2010, she made the most impulsive decision of her life by moving to New Zealand. Getting Rooted in New Zealand is her first book about her experiences living there. Jamie is now married and living happily ever after in the United Kingdom. She is working on her second book.


What inspired you to write this book? Of course your own personal experience, that is like stating the obvious. But how did you strike upon the idea of writing a book?
While living in New Zealand, I had funny experiences that I had trouble believing were true. I wrote the stories down to stay sane. I wrote situations down that were happening around me and shared them with friends. Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. Publishing my book Getting Rooted in New Zealand was my way of transforming poison into medicine. I hope that it can help people that have had bad dating experiences or bad work experiences – make them laugh and not give up hope.
They say, writing is a lonely task. That is also the toughest part of a writer’s job. Did you enjoy the solitude?
Although I enjoy my alone time and working for myself as an author, I really am very grateful for feedback about my writing. Nothing makes me happier than making people laugh.

So tell us more about the characters that you have etched for the book? How far do you relate to them?
My book is a true story. My life has been so strange it sounds like fiction, but it is really too weird to be made up. Some of the names of the characters and organizations, but not all have been changed to preserve privacy.

How did you feel writing in varied genre(s)? Was juggling between them a bumpy ride?

As an individual I’ve never fit in easily. I’ve always felt like a bit of a foreigner especially at home in California. It makes sense that my book is a “varied genre.” The best way I can describe it is a funny travel memoir or an accidental true love story within a comedy of errors. The most difficult thing about being a varied genre is most book reviewers only review specific genres like romance, YA, or refuse to read non-fiction. The only thing I can do is be myself, tell my story and hope that readers enjoy reading my book. For the most part I’ve been getting positive feedback.

You are garnering appreciation for the hilarity element of the book. How are you feeling?

I feel very grateful that most readers understand my sense of humor. I’m always relieved and grateful when I receive a positive review. I love hearing from readers that my book is making people laugh out loud.

The hardest part has been when people don’t understand my humor. I have been in a lot of situations where I had two choices: laugh or cry. I’ve chosen to laugh. I write my experiences from a purely personal standpoint. Compared to other travelers who worked abroad in NZ my experiences have been very unusual. I would highly recommend everyone goes to New Zealand to experience their own adventure.

So, what does it mean to get rooted?
In New Zealand, I had a lot of culture shock.  One of the most memorable moments was learning the meaning of the Kiwi slang word “rooted.” One night I was brushing my teeth with my flatmate and I said, ‘I’m really excited to live in this house because I have been travelling a lot and I just need to settle down, stop travelling and get rooted’. He was choking on his toothbrush and asked me if I knew what that meant because it had a completely different meaning New Zealand than it does in the States. You’ll just have to read Getting Rooted in New Zealand and find out the Kiwi meaning for rooting.

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Monday 2 September 2013

Book Review: St. Peter's Choice by Dean T. Hartwell


Daring to challenge assumptions about God and the afterlife, the novel St. Peter's Choice arrives to an audience of those willing to think freely. It is Judgment Day.The "rock" of the Christian religion begins to change his mind about going to heaven after he decides to talk to those sent to hell. When he speaks to God later about the conversation, he finds he has a choice to make between faith and reason. This novel is unique in that it provides ample footnotes from the Bible and other works that analyze Christianity. An appendix also gives background to issues raised by the characters in the book. A bibliography shows books of influence to the author, most notably "Open Tomb: How and Why Jesus Faked His Death and Resurrection" by David Mirsch.

About the Author:

    Dean Hartwell keeps pursuing the truth about those who govern us. He has authored various books, namely, Truth Matters, A fan's folklore, Dead Men talking, 9/11, among others.

    My Review:

    As a person who is trying to figure out the "rights and wrongs" of life, such topics and books have always intrigues me. So, it goes without saying that this short novel too, managed to interest me. Rightly so, it has been able to make me rethink and revisit my concepts, notions and perceptions of truth, heaven and afterlife. 

    This is some really revolutionary stuff, what with the renewed conceptions of The Judgement day, Heaven and hell. Even so, it touched upon fragile issues regards belief. Obviously, there's always been an unchallenged interest and uninhibited speculation about human afterlife. We might keep arguing as to the segregation of people into compartments of heaven and hell, yet it is only a surmise until we reach the threshold. After hearing arguments from three people that they would rather rot in hell while clinging to their beliefs than be a pretentious sycophant and poseur who accepts established blind beliefs thoughtlessly. It reminds me of the quote about the unreasonable man trying to adapt himself to the world, the reasonable man trying to adapt the world to himself, and the whole progress depending on the unreasonable man, therefore.

    It left me contemplating for a while about the extent to which people are hypocrites. We argue about trying to challenge the conventions and yet end up convinced that whosoever does so deserves to rot in hell. 
    One of the parts of the book deals with this theme only, wherein the author implicitly implores the readers to reason out their beliefs instead of living with blind faith.

    At one level the book also delves a little deeper to suggest that heaven and hell are fictitious places, and one might as well stand up for his/her ideals and remain in hell. It is also highly disturbing that heaven is being populated by people who we don't deem befitting.
    This novella is a great charger for one's dormant thoughts and dull beliefs, it is the penultimate food for thought, followed only by self-introspection. 

    Verdict: So, if you are on for a book to provide you food for thought, then grab your copy NOW!

    Rating: 4/5

    Buy/know more about the book here:

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Kritika's bookshelf: read

Angels & Demons
The Story of My Life
The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Sense and Sensibility
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Time Machine
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Da Vinci Code

Kritika Narula's favorite books »


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