Say Something Nice Day - Reviews of Limbo & Turn the Page, Interview of Craig Hallam, May releas
NATIONAL SAY SOMETHING NICE DAY
National Say Something Nice Day we have an opportunity to make June 1st extra pleasant for everyone. In these times of verbal bullying we need a day for kind words. Counteract bullying, lack of civility and common courtesy that is growing among people in today’s world. Hopefully, the practice of saying something nice today will continue into all tomorrows.
When we were young, many of us often heard, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” One of the many reasons our parents taught us that is because once we say those words, we can’t take them back, no matter how true we think they might be.
We all know someone whose true nature is kinder than most. Perhaps we even wish we could emulate them more than we do.Do they pay compliments or do they follow this old saying? Perhaps a little of both. But there are a few other lessons we can learn from generally nice people. It’s more than saying nice things to others. They genuinely listen to others and tend to put others first. When they pay a compliment, it isn’t usually practiced. Their sincerity is felt by the receiver.
HOW TO OBSERVE
#SaySomethingNiceDay Think about the nicest person you know. Take a cue from them and put one of their better qualities into practice. Say something nice to or about someone. Bring a smile to someone’s face for the sheer joy of seeing them smile. Seek no reward other than knowing that someone’s day is better because a nice word was said.
Use #SaySomethingNiceDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL SAY SOMETHING NICE DAY HISTORY
Mayor Keith Summey of North Charleston, South Carolina proclaimed June 1st as Say Something Nice Day in 2006 in recognition of the communication efforts of specialist Dr. Mitch Carnell, founder of the day. Carnell is also the author of Say Something Nice: Be a Lifter at Work. The South Baptist Convention and the Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery joined with Carnell to establish the day.
Limbo, by Laura Koerber is an interesting character study. It sensitively portrays dead people who weren't bad enough to go to Hell or were too flawed to enter Heaven. In many ways this Limbo is an Ancient world concept of the Underworld because souls simply stay there doing not much for eternity, There's some wonder on the part of the main character Alyse who died young of cancer and doesn't know (nor do we find out) what barred her from the pearly gates. Some characters play out a more hellish existence like the Filipina bar owner who is at peace until her despised husband shows up when she thought he would certainly go to Hell. The story was well written and emotive. My only problem was that it seemed to be missing a general theme. Where will these souls go? Do they redeem themselves and ascend as stated in some religions or are they reborn as in others. In this story, sadly there seems no escape, only acceptance. It's still a worthwhile and reasonably short book - a very good read.
Turn the Page (When You're Looking for a Killer) by Robin Rance is a thriller and whodunnit book which gets into whydunnit. It's also a dreamworld fantasy. Two protagonists; Evan a single guy and fan of an author having a signing at a busy bookstore and Diane, a widow with a young son just coming out of her shell after mourning for two years. The two strike up a conversation about the author but when they both touch the copy of the same book they are sucked into the world created in that author's series about a serial killer. Diane's son is also missing. Convinced the answer to where he is will be found in the books, Evan and Diane read them, turning the pages to solve the crime. Interesting twist on mystery and suspense that will have you turning pages too.
Introducing Craig Hallam - An Interview with an author
1. What made you want to be a writer?
Reading the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett really got me started. I was about 12 and I had always loved Fantasy and Sci-Fi but I don’t think anyone ever told me where a lot of the ideas came from. When I realised that books were the inspiration for a lot of the things that I loved to watch, I made the transition. It wasn’t long before I realised that I wanted to make things up as well.
2. When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.
My next novel is due out in October from Inspired Quill. It’s a standalone Cyberpunk novella about humanity’s cyclic behaviours, how we’ve become stuck in a system of our own creation, and what it will take for us to make the final evolutionary leap beyond our mortal bodies. It’s written entirely with non-gender specific pronouns and with a non-binary theme in mind to really shake off the shackles of character expectations.
3. How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?
I think it’s essential. No non-fiction how-to guide will ever teach you how to write better than just reading voraciously and really paying attention to how authors create effects with their words.
4. Do you remember the first book you read?
The earliest book I remember reading was with my mum. It was something to do with a giant turnip, and a farmer needing help from all the animals to pull it out.
5. What book are you reading now?
I read a lot of non-fic, to be honest. I don’t get much time to read fiction for pleasure anymore. My non-fic reading is usually for research for the next book. I’m currently reading Gothic Literature by Sue Chaplin to make sure I remember all the things about my favourite genre before I do some talks on the subject at events later this year.
6. How did you come up with the idea for the book or series, especially the title?
Oshibana Complex came from my love of anime and manga, I think. I wanted that Japanese Cyberpunk feel like Akira and Ghost in the Shell. There is a theme in the book of things being preserved beyond their natural state, and in doing so losing their beauty and freedom. Oshibana is the Japanese art of pressing flowers. And the complex comes both from humanity’s inability to remove their own stagnation but also it refers to the city in the novella, Shika-One City, where humanity has been preserved but lost its lustre.
7. Which character do you identify with most in your novel?
That’s a difficult one. I’d like to think that I’m a lot like Xev. They are forthright, imaginative, principled, but they also sometimes feel overwhelmed by injustices of the society around them and sometimes need their friends to pull them through.
8. How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think that Xev’s striving against what is lazily accepted is a lot like what I’ve gone through. They also suffer from moments of panic attacks and depression which I also live with. Still, there’s a little bit of every author in all of their characters, I think.
9. Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.
It’s absolute peace and quiet for me. I even use white noise pumped through headphones to really get my head clear and focused. Other than that, a good cup of tea helps.
10. Which part of the publishing process do you dislike the most? Which aspect do you love?
I really don’t think I’m very good at marketing. Trying to make the conversion from people who are interested to people actually wanting to read your books is difficult at times. But everyone’s lives are so busy and there’s so much good TV out there to watch! How can I possibly compete with that? hahaha
11. What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel?
My own self-deprecation. I have Imposter Syndrome on a huge scale. I just have to tell myself that I'm only writing for me, anwyay, to fool myself into keeping going.
12. When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?
Fellow authors, usually. My wife is absolutely essential to maintaining my sanity.
13. How do you market your book?
Usually just by trying to get the word out as far as I can. I send a few copies to people whose opinions that I trust and who I know will share it if they like it. Other than that, it’s mostly social media sharing and trying to be interesting (with widely varied results hahaha).
14. Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.
It doesn’t happen often but I love it when it does. Someone recently dropped me a DM on Twitter to say that they had read my non-fiction book on living with depression and anxiety, Down Days. They said that it helped them to feel like they weren’t so alone, and actually encouraged them to go to see a doctor about their issues. That was the biggest good feeling I’ve ever had. Writing something so personal is petrifying, but if I can help just one person, that’s a job I can be proud of.
15. Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?
Not many people, to be honest. My wife is the first port of call. She’s very honest and very knowledgeable about literature. Then I have a couple of fellow writers whose work and opinions I really respect, two of whom are Tom and Nimue Brown who write the Hopeless, Maine graphic novels. They’re amazing.
16. Tell us all about your very first book signing.
I was petrified hahaha. It was as the Steampunk Asylum in Lincoln. There were hundreds of people at the convention and then me (and Sara and Pete from Inspired Quill) sat at a table. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. People were absolutely lovely, especially the other authors. I was just so shy back then. Now you can’t shut me up hahaha
17. Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?
With the Alan Shaw series, I really wanted to tear down the idea of the Hero, and point the finger at not only toxic masculinity but how someone’s life can seem so perfect on the outside but be fraught with issues on the inside. I only really realised while writing the last book in the trilogy that I had infused themes of mental health all the way through this rip-roaring Steampunk adventure. Alan is very fallible, very human, and I think that’s why people love him. It certainly is for me.
18. If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I think Tim Roth would make a great Alan.
19. Is there one writer, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I never got to meet Terry Pratchett and I really regret that. There haven’t been many famous people who have passed that have genuinely upset me, but Pratchett was one of them. The others being David Bowie and Alan Rickman.
20. What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like my weird stuff. Anything Sci-Fi, Fantasy or just a little strange will get me interested. I’ve never been a fan of cop shows or military movies.
21. What music do you hear in your latest book?
Oshibana Complex has a huge 80s sci-fi vibe to it, all neon and electronics. Music is actually one of Xev’s biggest supports in the book. But, because time has passed and people have to get music on bootleg, the titles and band names are lost. So, if Xev listens to a song, I describe the sound and the feeling without using any titles or lyrics. It was very fun to do, it draws the reader into the feeling of the music. I know what the songs are, of course. I have a playlist with them all on ;)
22. Do you have hobbies other than writing?
Too many. I’m a chronic hobby collector. I do leatherwork, play guitar, do archery, play Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer 40k (and paint miniatures for those too). I don’t think I can fit anymore in!
23. Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Sleep. A lot.
24. You only have 24 hours to live - how would you spend that time?
Finishing the Alan Shaw series in one long flurry hahaha
25. What’s the biggest thing you learned during writing and publishing your first book?
That the first draft is called that for a reason. You don’t have to be perfect. The craft is as important as the inspiration. And that surrounding yourself with good people is more important than sales.
26. What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?
Something that I always say on my writing advice columns (on my Patreon page) is: Don’t let your head get further than your hands. What I mean is that you shouldn’t worry about how to get published, whether people will like it, or anything like that while you’re writing your first book. I get so many people asking me how to get published and when I ask “Is your book ready to send out?” sometimes they haven’t even started yet. Just enjoy the process of writing your story. All that other stuff will come in its own time.
Tell us how we may get a copy of your book. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, paperback etc.) Social media links and websites?
You can get my books from all of the usual channels such as Amazon etc. You can buy books direct from Inspired Quill, and see my author page there: https://www.inspired-quill.com/blog/craig-hallam/.
You can also read brand new and exclusive stories and poetry on my Patreon page at www.patreon.com/craighallam which also helps me to get to book signings and meet new readers
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AND LOOK FOR THIS PRE-ORDER TOMORROW