Alastair Henry and Candas Whitlock

Alastair was born in Glasgow, Scotland, grew up in Lancashire, England, and at 19 immigrated to Canada by himself.  He became a typical yuppie with a family, house in the suburbs, and a big job in the corporate sector. At age 46, he went into business for himself.  Following London Life’s Freedom 55 plan, he retired at 57, and went to live in the country. But two years later, disillusioned with the passivity of an early retirement and in search of adventure and greater personal fulfillment, he sold up everything and went to live with a small First Nations band in a remote fly-in location in the N.W.T.

Cultural differences and the challenging environment ignited in him fresh perspectives, inspired a new way of being and fueled his soul searching. The experience changed the direction of his life and is at the core of his autobiography: “Awakening in the Northwest Territories.”

When he left the north two years later, motivated and passionate about helping others less fortunate, he went to Bangladesh for two years as a Cuso International Development volunteer, followed by a placement in Nigeria.

Candas grew up in Toronto where she raised her family and worked extensively in the social service sector.  Her career covered numerous private and public services including early childhood education, employment management for persons with disabilities, environmental advocacy, and community development.  Her journey eventually took her to London, Ontario where she continued to follow her passions to serve her community.

Alastair met Candas one day by chance, fell in love, and with a shared passion to improve the lives of others, they set off together on a new path of adventure in volunteering and travel. They went to Jamaica and Guyana on one year Cuso assignments, and in between placements, backpacked Central America and S. E. Asia for 8 months. These experiences were so personally rewarding that they felt compelled to write two memoirs: “Go For It – Volunteering Adventures on Roads Less Traveled” and “Go For It – Budget Backpacking for Boomers”, to share their adventures  with fellow “Boomers” to inspire and motivate them to “Go For It.”  

Just when they thought their volunteering and writing days were over, they found themselves deeply embedded in a First Nations culture (the ‘Namgis) in Alert Bay B.C. on another 4 month Cuso assignment and with lots to write about. What they learned about the social injustices inflicted on First Nations people by the governments of the day so impacted them on a deep personal level that they felt obliged to share their enlightenment with other non-aboriginal people. “Tides of Change –Volunteering Adventures in Alert Bay, B.C” is the fourth memoir in their “Boomers’ Adventures” series.

To sell their books, they present an entertaining audio/visual story-telling show (readings accompanied by music and Power Point) to audiences throughout S. W. Ontario.

Books

61uv0mmvk-lBook One:  Awakening in the Northwest Territories

Book web Site: http:///www.awakeninginthenorth.com

Ordering information:

Indigo.ca:http://tinyurl.com/AWNTChapters

Amazon.ca:http://tinyurl.com/awakeningintheNWT-amazon

Amazon .com:http://tinyurl.com/kjmrq5t

Barnes and Noble:http://tinyurl.com/ANWT-BandN

Friesen Press: http://tinyurl.com/anwt-friesen

61hhe1oqh4lBook Two:  Go For It – Volunteering Adventures on Roads Less Travelled

Book web Site: http://www.goforitvolunteeringadventures.com

Ordering information:

Amazon.ca:  http://tinyurl.com/GFI-Vol-AmazonMAZON

Chapters.indigo.ca: http://tinyurl.com/GFI-Vol-Chapters

41bjsinfallBook Three:  Tides of Change – Volunteering Adventures in Alert Bay B.C.

No book web site yet.

Ordering information:

Amazon.ca: http://tinyurl.com/jzxc95s

Book Four:  Budget Backpacking for Boomers

To be published in December 2016

ALL BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE DIRECTLY FROM THE AUTHORS

Alastair Henry  226 700-7305

Candas Whitlock 226 224-1834

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Rene Natan

Bio of Rene Natan (aka Irene Gargantini Strybosch)

I always wanted to be a storyteller. At recess time I would gather some of my schoolmates and entertain them with stories—some of my own, others just summaries of books I read. My life, however, took a different turn, and I ended up following a career in information technology (as Professor Irene Gargantini). This over, I reverted to my old passion: plotting intrigues and mysteries and creating romantic or passionate encounters. I took several e-courses on fiction writing and began jotting down my tales. So far I have written ten novels, several short stories and co-authored a novella. The genre varies from romantic suspense to thriller. See www.vermeil.biz and renenatanblog.wordpress.com.
As an author, my goal is threefold: having fun in writing, entertaining the readers and offering them an uplifting vision at life.

Honors
Second place, the 2015 Five Star Dragonfly Book Awards for The Woman in Black
Silver Medal, the 2015 Global Ebook Awards for The Loves and Tribulations of Detective Stephen Carlton 
Honorable Mention, 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, for Fleeting Visions
First place, 2012 Five Star Dragonfly Award for the Blackpox Threat
Finalist in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Award for the Blackpox Threat
Honorary Mention, 2012 San Francisco Book Competition for the Bricklayer

Books

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Lemoncella Cocktail is the story of a young man who, by saving a teenager from drowning is drawn out of his comfort zone and into the fight against arms dealers working in Canada. Action, 2016, 

 

 

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Fleeing Visions is a thriller centered on underage prostitution (nothing graphic, though). Louis Saura, orphan at the age of two and raised by an old uncle, becomes prey to a vicious criminal. 2013, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HNG53LU (ebook and softcover)

 

 

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The Loves and Tribulations of Detective Stephen Carlton (ebook, romance) is centered on the life and misfortunes of a man of the law who falls in love with the wrong woman: a female athlete on the run. 2015.

 

 

41yocag7vqlThe Woman in Black, dedicated to all parents of handicapped children aims at entertaining the reader while portraying the hardship of coping with a mentally retarded girl who becomes a mother. 2014, 

 

 

51aomkxjakl-_sx331_bo1204203200_The Bricklayer is a thriller. Everything is going well for Frederick Dalton, until he hires a female engineer in his construction company. Thriller, 2012, http://www.amazon.com/Bricklayer-Rene-Natan/dp/1466404019 (eBook and paperback)

 

 

51tvhkwl30l-_sx322_bo1204203200_The Blackpox Threat is a spy story. Her country threatened by a deadly epidemic, Tamara Smith moves from her comfort zone to a world filled with deception, treachery and life-threatening danger. 2010, 

 

 

The Jungfrau Watch is a political thriller. A young man is raised to believe that communism is the panacea for all the problems of the world. Then the Soviet Union collapses, exposing all its crimes. What chances has a person like that to redeem himself? Available from the author.

The Red Manor (Omnia vincit amor) is about family bonds that stretch over two continents; here love overcomes both greed and cleverly engineered criminal plots. Romance, 2008, http://www.publishamerica.com (softcover)

fireunderneaththeice_autogenimg_smallFire Underneath the Ice (a novella coauthored by Sharon Crawford under the pen name Natanevin) is a love story. Revenge is supposed to be sweet, but when Michael Hamming decides to take it out on the daughter of his nemesis, he finds love instead. 2010

 

5e564e41c9c808ec4de510fc7264066bdcad1574The Collage (romantic suspense) describes the anguish of a young woman accused of a murder she hardly remembers of having committed. Creative Guy Publishing, 2004

 

 

 

730a212d226fe1bb3e5b54d5572751dcf2066c88Mountains of Dawn is about an orphan who wanders from foster home to foster home with no place she can call home. Suddenly she comes into money—but the people who killed her parents are now after her. www.smashwords.com/books/view/205088 (ebook)

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Dr. Colin Forbes

colin-forbesDr. Colin Forbes is the author of “From the Bottom of My Heart,” a memoir both graphic and humorous, which describes a life of extraordinary depth and breadth. “From the Bottom of My Heart” starts with Jamaican family life and society in the early 1950s, then progresses to the racism he experienced while he attended college in the USA. The book describes student life at McGill pre-med, life as a porter on the CPR, and his experiences in medical school. Dr. Forbes later had an internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal, where he met and married nurse Morrison. Posted to West Germany with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Dr. Forbes was a captain in the RCAMC. Dr. Forbes and his wife had five children. This descriptive memoir continues onward to tells of life in post-independent Tanganyika, then Nigeria, and service with the McGill teaching team at the new Medical School in Nairobi, Kenya. Dr. Forbes then moved to a private pediatric practice and taught for 45 years. Dr. Forbes was actively involved in international health with the Christian Medical Commission of the World Council of Churches. He was a consultant to mission hospitals in Asia, Africa, and mission boards in Europe where he experienced difficulties with traditional and local medical personnel and institutions. Dr. Forbes and his family returned to Canada after 48 years and worked in an indigenous community on Walpole Island as well as working in walk-in clinics. The final part of the book describes the challenges of re-settlement in Canada and eventually retirement.

Books

“From the Bottom of My Heart” — Amazon Canada

“From the Bottom of My Heart” — Amazon US

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WHY READERS STOP READING A BOOK

Reblogged from Lit World Interviews.

Recently, we here at LitWorldInterviews.com conducted a survey,“Why do you put a book down?” and through the assistance of the writing community we had a very nice response. Now it’s time to share what we found.

First, I want to say why the survey was conducted. We wanted to help writers by giving them the information they most need. If a reader takes the time to check out your book and don’t like it, they are unlikely to give you a second chance with your next work. First impressions mean a lot.

86.30% of those responding were Female, thus leaving the remaining 13.70% Male. Considering the majority of those reading novels are Female, although not quite this extreme, I’m comfortable with sharing what we found.

There were 34 sub-categories as a result of the survey. Those results were then placed into 5 main categories: Writing, Editing, Proofreading, Taste, and Other, with Writing providing the largest number of sub-categories and results.

68.49% of those responding noted some form of dissatisfaction with Writing as a reason for putting a book down.

26.03% gave Editing.
23.29% gave Proofreading.
17.81% was Taste.
2.74% was Other.

Let’s take a look at the Writing sub-categories first.

writing-concerns-of-readers

The above pie chart shows the concerns in descending order of greatest number of mentions. The story being Dull was the most frequently mentioned problem with 25.29% of the mentions of the Category. Followed by actual Bad Writing, then Dull or Unbelievable Characters, Info Dump, and uses  of Profanity.

Let me speak about Profanity for a moment, this along with Gore, Violence, and Sex were all mentioned in the context of being included in the story for no apparent reason. Most of those who noted it as a concern stated they know these things occur in books, and even have a place, but the problem arose when the author was using them as obvious crutches in an attempt to hide poor writing and plot.

The subcategories of Writing Concerns as identified by readers are as follows in descending order: Dull, Bad Writing, Unbelievable Characters, Info Dump, Profanity, Over Describing, Violence, Weak Narrative, Confusing Beginning, Unexpected Sex, Gore, Weak Story, Bad Dialogue, Dashes, Racism, Poor Relationships, Head Hopping, Repetition, and Writing with Dialect Accents.

What does this tell us? The first thing that jumps out to me is that we as authors aren’t putting out books with stories that are capturing the attention of the reader. With a book done with professional intent behind it, a dull story should be the reason our books are not read. That’s right, we are not read because we just didn’t do a good job of telling our story. Maybe we didn’t have the right beta readers. Maybe they were too nice. Maybe they just went through the motions. Maybe they just aren’t that good at the task. Or maybe we should recognize our work isn’t that good. How about all of the above?

Let’s look at Editing Concerns

There were four subcategories for Editing Concerns: Actual Bad Editing, Plot Holes, Sentence Structure, and No Scene Breaks for Time Lapses.

 

editing-concerns-of-readers

The bad thing about writing a novel is the author knows everything that is happening, even behind the scenes, the back story the reader never sees, and the in between scenes that happen. The problem this creates is hopefully caught during editing. A good editor can save a book from disaster. Fresh eyes see old mistakes that the author overlooks each time they’ve gone through each of the five drafts they’ve done.

An Editor is not responsible for rewriting a novel. I want to make that clear. They take what a writer gives them, looks for plot holes, sentence structure, weak story development, and things of that nature. They are not a Proofreader. I think people confuse the two, but having been associated with a professional Proofreader who has guest hosted here on the site, I know the difference.

If you pay an Editor they are to give you the tightest and most entertaining story they can from what you’ve given them. Of course you, as the author, can disregard everything, but that would be a foolish thing to do. I have a writing mentor who edits some things I give her at times. I take some of what she offers and disregard others because of the importance of what that means to the overall story, a story she isn’t fully aware of yet.
Notice I didn’t throw everything away, and I took into consideration what she said about the part I disregarded. I changed things to make that part seem more relevant to the story at that point, without giving anything away.

But what we get from this part of the survey is that readers notice editing of a book. The idea of not editing a book crosses the minds of Indie Authors. We’ve been through the book a dozen times. We know it’s just fine the way it is. Note the sarcasm I said those last couple of sentences with. I’m not saying it’s impossible to edit your own work, but you would have to be able to step away from the work long enough to see it with fresh eyes, several times. At least that’s my opinion. You also have to become slightly detached from this labor of love, in some cases.

 

Proofreading Concerns

There isn’t a need for a chart here. There were two sub-categories: Proofreading (66.66%), and Grammar (33.33%).

I have to say, this is an area I notice a lot in books. If there are proofreading problems in a book, they take me out of the story, out of the world created by the writer. Every book has a proofreading error, or perhaps a printing error, not so much on the printing these days with the modern printing methods, but back in the old days of typesetting, errors happened.

I’ve read several books for the purpose of reviews and I have put some down because of the proofreading problems. I honestly don’t think there was any proofreading conducted. You might get past the dull story, even some bad editing, but when you are constantly tripped up by spelling errors, punctuation, and all of that, you eventually become tired of it all.

 

Taste Concerns of the Reader

There were 7 different sub-categories placed under taste: Slow Beginning (30.77%), Tragic Ending (15.38%), Difficult Vocabulary (15.38%), Too Much Detail (15.38%), Back Story (7.69%), Genre (7.69%), and Cliffhanger Ending (7.69%).

taste-concerns-of-readers

You won’t find two readers with exactly the same taste. They may have a discussion and it sounds like they are the same, but put five books in front of them and have them read them, I would be willing to bet you would get different opinions.

Some books, due to the nature of the story and world, may require a slow beginning. The trend is to jump right into action to capture the reader’s interest, but perhaps your story doesn’t fit that type of trend. Difficult vocabulary may be part of how a certain character speaks.

But I understand what the readers are saying. Sometimes the way things are done, they are not necessary. I think when it all makes sense, a reader is fine with it, but just as when people throw profanity or gore into a story, sometimes these tastes, other than perhaps genre, are signs of weak storytelling and plot.

 

Other

There were only two that fell into the Other category: Having the book available for Screen Readers, and Having a Misleading Book Description.

I think these are two very valid reasons to not read a book. As my eyesight fails I know it becomes more difficult to read. Some will say just get glasses, but this is due to medications I must take. Eventually, I will likely not be able to see at all. But I love books. It would be a shame to not buy a book because it didn’t work with my screen reader.
As for a misleading book description? It may be the opinion of the reader as to the misleading nature or not. If it truly is misleading, I think the book needs removing or at least the description updated.

 

Conclusion

What all did we learn from the survey? Good writing and story, with good editing and proofreading will make for a page turner

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Pat Brown’s Guest Blog Post

I’m guest blogging on Montana Scribbler, Mona Leeson Vanek’s blog about what happens when you lose a publisher. Do you get the rights to your books back? If you do, what then. Find out what I’m doing since one of my major publishers went out of business.

Revising Old Books

 

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Going Out of Business Sale

My publisher, AmberQuill is going out of business as of March 30. Everything is on sale. My books are listed here and represent a variety of my works, including my single Science Fiction, a rare romance and the suspense novel, Memories of Darkness with my favorite all time character, Johnny Wager. Plus my first published historical story.

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Genres Explained: Insights, Tips and Definitions From Literary Agents

Chuck Sambuchino, who writes a regular column for Writer’s Digest, talks to agents about definitions of various writing genres, which can be useful for pitching your work to both agents and publishers and even when it comes to marketing a book after publication.

Genres Explained

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Indifferent City available for pre-order

Prohibition. Thirteen years when America went dry.

Blind-pigs were filled with rotgut and devious grifters, when Presidents served illegal wine at state dinners and women kicked aside their historical traces. Where the only difference between the cops and the criminals were their badges. A shady LAPD officer tangles with a beautiful, mysterious woman and risks losing everything.

And she’s the least of his worries.

Pre-order the ebook. Soon to be released on Amazone, Barnes & Noble and other popular bookstores.
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New Release from Ernie Briginshaw

London Writer’s Society member Ernie Briginshaw’s sequel to “Goliath” titled “The Second Shooter” is now available in both paperback and ebook.

The Second Shooter - Front Cover

Synopsis:

It has been widely speculated that the FBI, CIA and Secret Service have been hiding the existence of critical evidence as to those involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The JFK Records Act requires that all records related to the assassination be released to the public by October 26, 2017, unless the President deems their release would cause grave harm to the nation.  When some of these potentially dangerous records are accidentally released, forces within the government attempt to recover them using whatever means necessary, including the elimination of anyone who may have seen them.

In the sequel to “Goliath”, David and Robert Shaw head off to university and find themselves drawn into the world of shadow governments and secret societies.  Despite the work of an investigative journalist to uncover the truth, and the efforts of their father to protect them, they find themselves squarely in the crosshairs of “The Second Shooter”.

Here’s a link to the paperback copy on Amazon.com:

It is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.ca: 

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Baen Books now accepting submissions

Baen Books

For all the Science Fiction and fantasy writers out there, Baen Books, one of the most prestigious publishers of speculative fiction, are now accepting completed manuscripts.

For details on what and how go here

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Disneyland for Crime Writers: 2015 Writer’s Police Academy

The WPA has been going on now for several years. I was lucky enough to go 3 years ago in North Carolina. It’s moving this year to the Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, WI, an actual training academy.

It’s a long weekend of the most intense training you will ever experience unless you go through a police academy yourself and become a cop. I can’t recommend this conference enough. If you ever wanted to know how real cops are trained you have to go. If you intend to go though, you have to be on the ball, since from the time registration opens, it usually sells out in a few hours. In the previous 2 years Sisters In Crime has subsidized the cost — which isn’t high for a conference of this caliber — and hotels are always very reasonable.

To learn more check it out here and watch out for future announcements.

Writer’s Police Academy

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Ashes & Ice Released!

Happy New Year LWS and friends. my historical novel, Ashes & Ice, written under the penname GK Parker is now available in ebook. A trade paperback version will follow soon.

 

This novel was a labor of love. Started in late 2010, after months of research, of which I enjoyed every minute of, false starts, first drafts then second, third… fourth, this novel took form. It went through a number of title changes too. It started out as City of Blood & Ice, then just Blood & Ice, then I flirted with Fire & Ice until finally settling on Ashes & Ice.

The novel idea first came to me when I saw Gangs of New York for the first time. It blew me away and Five Points intrigues me. Anyone who knows my writing knows I often explore the gang scene in my fiction, but it’s always been contemporary Los Angeles. I’d already written an LA historical now I wanted something different and NYC in the 1800s was perfect. Part of my heritage is Irish and I knew immigration was high then. The final clincher came when I found a reference to a massive blizzard that hit New York in 1888. Having been in my share of bad blizzards I could imagine what it would have been like to have that slam into your city after a beautiful, springlike day. So Ashes & Ice was born.

63rd Street and Third Avenue during the Great Blizzard of 1888.

Snow piled up high on the corner of 63rd Street and Third Avenue during the Great Blizzard of 1888.

Amazon Canada

Eternal Press 

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