Guest Post by author Andrew Joyce

This is a guest post by author Andrew Joyce to promote his upcoming book – Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups! Read on to know about him and the book! It is indeed a pleasure to host Andrew on the blog once again!

About the Author:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Joyce now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mahoney: An American Story.

Here’s what Andrew has to say…

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Well, I mean … I write books in between marketing my books, which is what I’m doing here today. I’m down on bended knee, asking you to check out my new offering. If nothing else, it’s a good buy—700 pages of genius prose. And if you buy the print copy, it will make a dandy door-stop once you’ve finished reading it. My stuff ain’t half bad. I’ve won a few awards for my writing and obtained best-seller status on Amazon a couple of times … blah … blah … blah.

Anyway, the blurb is below, and somewhere on this page I’m sure there’s a link to Amazon so you can read the first few stories and see if my writing might be your cup of tea, so to speak.

Thank you for your time.

About the Book:

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is a jumble of genres—seven hundred pages of fiction and nonfiction … some stories included against the author’s better judgment. If he had known that one day they’d be published, he might not have been as honest when describing his past. Here is a tome of true stories about the author’s criminal and misspent youth, historical accounts of the United States when She was young, and tales of imagination encompassing every conceivable variety—all presented as though the author is sitting next to you at a bar and you’re buying the drinks as long as he keeps coming up with captivating stories to hold your interest.

Comprised of 218,000 words, you’ll have plenty to read for the foreseeable future. This is a book to have on your night table, to sample a story each night before extinguishing the lights and drifting off to a restful sleep.

Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”

Andrew Joyce is the recipient of the 2013 Editor’s Choice Award for Best Western for his novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

His book Yellow Hair was awarded Book of the Year by Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 by Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Book Review: The Laws of Nature by Ashley Franz Holzmann

About the Book:

Image result for the laws of nature Ashley Franz Holzmann

There is a dark side to human nature that neither can be wished away nor completely mitigated. Ashley Holzmann details just several of these “Laws of Nature” before taking his readers on a journey through the bizarre, the terrifying, and, ultimately, the disturbingly real truths that underlie much of modern American life.

Ashley makes his debut into the horror genre with “The Stump,” a story about an afternoon trot through the woods that quickly becomes a blood bath–and, much as it does for that story’s creature, the scent of fear will only lure veteran horror readers further through the forest. A teenager’s vanity will likely cause his town to be consumed by a roaming swarm of insects that burst forth from his acne-riddled skin in “White Heads;” entire populations vanish into the void of the Alaskan tundra in “Glass Houses;” and superiority takes the form of a murdering, sadistic woman in “Lady Macbeth.”

But Ashley’s best retellings focus less on gore and adrenaline and instead take human psychology as their medium, as demonstrated in “Plastic Glasses,” where readers are brought into a world of disturbing personality and mental disorders. Ashley’s work abounds with stories in this vein, stories which grab a hold of a common failing–such as marital friction in “Hush,” or American male frustration in “Orpheus’s Lot”–and take it to an extreme that is nevertheless not inconceivable for most people.

Coming from the mind of a man who has experienced more than his fair share of humanity, “The Laws of Nature” is, at its finest, a description of universal emotions of loss, nostalgia, anxiety, and soul-penetrating terror. Ashley’s stories elicit empathy from his readers and draw them into worlds where they both acknowledge and cuddle with their fears and which leave them, ultimately, more human.

My Thoughts:

Stemming from real life experiences to stories of fiction, this anthology of short stories explores the human psych and the genre of horror. The stories are diverse and the author focuses on fear as one of the main points of many of his stories. It is difficult to pick up or pin-point any one story as they are all similar and different in many ways. The author writes in an abstract style, sometimes seeming to be impersonal. Many of the stories are in first person and the rest a narration. Murder, hate, suicide, fear, life and finally the human psych are some of the topics explored through the stories.

The author will force the reader to think and experience each of the feelings through the stories and inspire them to think. There is so much food for thought and introspection. As a result of reading this anthology, the reader will come away affected, but much more human, stemming from a realization of sorts. It is difficult to describe this as it will differ from person to person, but it is clear that the reader will experience a vast number of emotions in this collection of stories.

Read this for a rare and interesting experience.

Smiling Exercises, and other stories: A collection of flash fiction by Dan Malakin

About the Book:

Smiling Exercises, and other stories: A collection of flash fiction

An apocalypse of fish.

The politics of holding open an office door.

A man wakes to find a secret vagina in his armpit.

All this and more in SMILING EXERCISES, AND OTHER STORIES!

Each story is 1000 words or less, perfect to start the day/end the day/enjoy on the toilet/put off that suicide for another three minutes.

This collection includes two stories shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, as well as others first published by Litro, decomP, Word Riot, Mad Swirl, Cricket Online Review, Everyday Fiction, Metazen, Space Squid, nthposition and many more great magazines!

My Thoughts:

This is perhaps one among three or maybe four books that I have read that is in this style of writing. I was swept away by the concept of flash fiction and the stories. They are indeed short and to the point. The entire plot is put out there in 1000 words or less and it is simply amazing. It’s quite difficult to write stories this short and convey the entire message.

Many of the stories are thought provoking, some are horrifying and some will just bring a smile to the face. The stories will bring a myriad of emotions into the mind of the reader. This book is a quick read, but it can also be read slowly, one story a day or however is convenient. The author has a brilliant way of writing and sometimes the reader will need to pause and think about what they have read.

The author has mastered the art of crafting and delivering these thought provoking, everyday events turned into short stories which are a delight to read. There are many a story that I am sure the reader will be able to relate to. This is definitely worth picking up!

In Conversation with Dan Malakin

We have had the pleasure of talking to Dan Malakin about his writing and his life. Read on to know what he had to say:

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.
    Hi Namrata, thanks for having me on your website. My name’s Dan
    Malakin, as you know, and I’m a writer living in London with my wife,
    daughter and Boddington the dog. I’m also one of the fiction editors
    at The Forge literary magazine.

2.       What prompted you to start writing?

I guess I’ve always been drawn to writing. Even as a kid I’d scribble
stories down and hand them up to my confused mum, who wouldn’t be able
to read my illegible handwriting. In my teens I wrote lots of terrible
poems, and ran this photocopied magazine called Fluffy Dice, which had
a readership of about ten people, most of whom probably never opened
the first page. It didn’t matter; I enjoyed the process.

3.       How did the book “SMILING EXERCISES, AND OTHER STORIES” happen?

I’m fortunate to have been pretty widely published – over a hundred
stories and counting. I’ve also got a little soft spot for flash
fiction; both of my Bridport prize shortlists were in the flash
fiction category. So when putting together a collection, that seemed
to obvious way to go.

4.       Where did the ideas for each story come from?

All the stories in the collection originated from prompts, and all
were written – the first draft anyway – in under an hour. I find
putting myself under that kind of pressure helps me to come up with
something original.

5.       How much does your day to day life inspire you?

Quite a lot in fact. I’m a new father, so my daughter has started
appearing in my stories (under various guises), plus my own parents
are getting old – and that has started to appear in new stuff.
Everything’s bubbling away inside. I guess writing is a way for me to
work through some of it.

6.       What do you do when you aren’t writing?

Thinking about writing. Really, I’m a bit obsessed. My wife tells me I
get this glazed look when I’m thinking about a story I’m working on.
She worries that I’m having a stroke.

7.       If you had to write a short story, in one paragraph now, what
would it be about?

It would probably be a fairly meta story about a writer writing about
writing. Kind of like a funhouse of mirrors, but with words, and me
screaming in the middle.

8.       How much time do you spend to write each short story?

That depends. For flashes, an hour for the first draft, then however
long it takes for subsequent drafts. A long story, say 5k words, I’ll
try and get the first draft down in two days (again, keeping myself
under pressure). The final draft will probably take a couple of
months. I’ve just finished the final draft of a novel though – and
I’ve been working on that for 2 years!

9.       If you had to pick a career that was not writing, what would
you choose and why?

I would love to work with dogs. They’re such wonderful affectionate
creatures. So much better than humans in so many ways.

10.   Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

Always read what you want to read, not what you think you should.
That, I believe, is the biggest reason why people don’t read more.
There’s such a range of books out there – especially now that people
can self-publish what they themselves would want to read – so don’t
settle for what others tell you.

Check out Dan’s website: www.danmalakin.com
Twitter handle: @danmalakin

In conversation with Roy M. Griffis

We have had the pleasure of talking to Roy Griffis, author of the series ‘By the Hand of Men’ among others. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for taking time out for the same. Read on to know what he has to say.

Griff Biking Author Photo

So, please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an American writer, currently living in California.   Born in Texas City, TX, the son of a career Air Force meteorologist. Attended a variety of schools at all of the hot spots of the nation, such as Abilene, Texas and Bellevue, Nebraska.  I was the new kid at something like ten different schools while I was growing up.

I’ve written poems, short stories (twice runner-up in the Playboy college fiction contest), plays (winning some regional awards back East and a collegiate Historical Play-writing Award), and screenplays. I’m a member of the Writer’s Guild of America, West, with one unproduced screenplay sold to Fox Television. Along the way, I’ve done the usual starving artist jobs. Been a janitor, a waiter, a clerk in a bookstore. I was the 61st Aviation Rescue Swimmer in the Coast Guard (all that Tarzan reading wasn’t wasted). I’m also not a bad cook, come to think of it. Currently, I’m a husband, father, and cat-owner. I’m an avid bicyclist and former EMT.

I live in Southern California with my lovely wife. My friends call me “Griff,” my parents call me “Roy,” and my college-age son calls me “Dadman.” It’s a good life.   By the Hands of Men, Book Three: “The Wrath of a Righteous Man” will be released in May, 2016.

What prompted you to start writing?

When I was ten, I was sent to my grandparent’s house in Tucson, Arizona when things were tough at home. I was pretty damn lost, as my grandparents were largely strangers to me. My older brother, a more taciturn type, refused to discuss what was going on. Fortunately, like so many kids before me, I was rescued by literature. Or, at least, by fiction.

In a tiny used bookstore that was just one block up from a dirt road, I discovered that some good soul had unloaded his entire collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” series in Ballantine Paperback. Moved by some impulse, I spent my RC Cola money on the first book, “A Princess of Mars.”

           I think what struck me was how these books were possessed of magic: they were able to transport me far from this dusty land of relatives who I didn’t know and relatives pretended not to know me to another dusty land of adventure, heroism, nobility, and even love. It was the first magic I’d encountered that wasn’t a patent fraud, and when I closed the stiff paperback with the lurid images on the cover, I decided it was the kind of magic I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to mastering. And, thus, I was saved.

Since then, I’ve never looked back.

Tell us about the books you have written so far.

First professionally published novel: “The Big Bang, Volume One of The Lonesome George Chronicles

In this page-turning post-apocalyptic thriller, Roy M. Griffis explores an alternate timeline in which America falls victim to a coordinated attack by Islamic jihadists and Chinese Communists. It’s 2008 and George W. Bush is still president. Three years later, the man called “Lonesome George” is in hiding, leading the resistance from a secret location. Multiple plot lines skillfully braid the tales of resistance fighters in various parts of the country. Whistler is the hard-bitten commander of a military unit in Texas. Karen, a former congressional aide, stumbles through the radioactive rubble of Washington DC. Griffis also entertainingly works in real-life liberal celebrities and pundits whose eyes are finally opened to threats they once discounted as obsessions of the right. “Molly,” a left-wing columnist in San Francisco, finally puts her talents to good use on the underground radio as the voice of the resistance. “Alec,” a famous actor and liberal gadfly, loses his wife and daughter in the nuclear attack on Los Angeles and becomes a legendary fighter, inventing the gun that bears his name. A vivid imagining of an America gone horribly wrong, written in gripping detail.

Self-published:

The first two books in a four-volume Historical Fiction series (Book Three coming out in May), called “By the Hands of Men.”  The series begins in the trenches of France during The Great War, and will conclude in California in the mid-thirties.

 Book One: The Old World

Lieutenant Robert Fitzgerald has managed to retain his sanity, his humanity, and his honor during the hell of WWI’s trench warfare. Charlotte Braninov fled the shifting storm of the impending Russian Revolution for the less-threatening world of field camp medicine, serving as a nurse in the most hopeless of fronts. Their friendship creates a sanctuary both could cling to in the most desperate of times. Historical fiction about life, loss, and love, By the Hands of Men explores the power that lies within each of us to harm – or to heal – all those we touch.

 Book Two:  Into the Flames

Charlotte Braninov, traumatized by loss and her service as a frontline nurse, returns to war-torn Russia to find her family. Captured by the Red Army, she exchanges one hell for another. Her still-loyal Lieutenant, Robert Fitzgerald, believing the woman he loves is dead, struggles to recover from the ravages of combat and typhus. In a desperate bid to rediscover himself, he commits to serve his country as a pawn in distant Shanghai. Forging their destinies in a world reeling after The Great War, Charlotte and Robert will learn anew the horror and the beauty the hands of men can create when they descend into the flames.

How much does your day to day life contribute to the stories you write? How much of what you write is inspired by people you have encountered along the way?

Day to day events form part of what one creates, even if it’s only an interesting clay that contributes to the final qualities of the fired pot. Since I’m writing historical fiction, or “a history of events that have not yet taken place,” there is a little one-to-one cause/effect to what appears on the page. However, larger parallels can make themselves known, and those will appear in in what I write.

            People who know me and my history well might be able to pick out one or two characters clearly inspired by individuals known to me, but for the most part, very little of the characters are consciously designed.

            This is going to sound fatuous – or moderately deranged – but once a story makes itself known to me (almost like a religious vision, typically I can both see and hear some important moment of the story), at a certain point, I’m merely recording the story I hear and see in my head. Characters are not planned, they show up. “Orlando Pyle,” in By the Hands of Men, is a prime example of this…in fact, most of the characters in that book are. So I am often as surprised by what they do and say as I hope the reader is. It very often feels as if I am writing a true story that no one has ever heard before.

Would you describe a perfect writing day for your readers?

Up early (4am – 6am or so), quick check of email while the coffee is brewing. Then get started on original creative work, picking up where I left off the day before.   Write for about two hours, get breakfast. Refill the coffee work until about lunch time. That leaves a good portion of the day left for chores (like editing or marketing), housework, play with the cats, bike ride. I like it because it balances the writing/creative life with the ordinary “stuff that’s got to be done” parts of life.

If you had to pick a career that was not writing, what would you choose and why?

Probably something helping animals. I find cruelty to children and animals abhorrent, as they are innocents who cannot make other choices for themselves. The individual who abuses either is the worst kind of scum.

Which author (other than yourself of course) is your favourite? Who would you say inspires you?

Wow, that almost depends on genre or the work itself. In fiction, either Richard Adams or Harper Lee. Both took us to fictional worlds, made them rich and full and enveloping (which is one of my goals), but since much of Ms. Lee’s work was based on her own young life, I’d have to give the hat tip to Richards Adams. Anyone who suggested it was possible to write a thrilling, timeless, and ultimately moving novel about rabbits would have sounded insane. But he pulled it off in a tremendous act of imagination. I hope someday to write something as good.

How much field work do you do as research, since your novels are historically inclined and set?

Most of my research has been book-based, although I did visit London, France, and Brussels before beginning By the Hands of Men. Some of my contemporary novels used bits of my own hands-on experience. I will be doing some on-scene research for BTHOM4, as it is set in Central California in the 1930s.

Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

Personally, I am weary of books with the theme “Life is awful and people are horrible.”  I might write books about people going through trials, but I, and the novels, am ultimately hopeful because of the actions of individuals.

We can always make a choice, if we are willing to pay what it will cost us. Everything has a cost (even Salvation: Somebody had to pay for that). As in my books, I believe it is up to each of us to make God real. We are His hands and feet. Our actions every day are how God manifests in the world. And every day, we can make a choice for good or evil.

Thanks for taking the time to interview me. As I note above, By the Hands of Men, Book Three: The Wrath of a Righteous Man will be out in November, with a Lonesome George sequel shortly after that.

In conversation with Ashley Holzmann

We have had the pleasure of chatting with Ashley Holzmann. He is the author of a horror anthology titled The Laws of Nature.

Blurb:

There is a dark side to human nature that neither can be wished away nor completely mitigated. Ashley Holzmann details just several of these “Laws of Nature” before taking his readers on a journey through the bizarre, the terrifying, and, ultimately, the disturbingly real truths that underlie much of modern American life.

The book is available on Amazon, as well as most digital platforms:

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Here is what Ashley has to say:

  • Tell us a little about yourself. What are your hobbies?

Man. That’s a long answer. I love a lot of things. Comics, history books, literature, playing soccer, grappling, film. It’s a long list. I enjoy drawing and I wish I had kept up with that more growing up. I’m not terrible, but I’m far from a master. I used to be totally addicted to TV and video games and Halo 2 and Golden Eye 64 consumed my life as much as Final Fantasy games used to. I like camping and backpacking. I still volunteer at Boy Scout troops when I can because I like helping kids find their way in life.

I enjoy traveling and the Army and growing up as an Air Force brat has given me the opportunity to really see the world. I work out almost every day and I really hate running. The day I leave the Army is the last day I ever go for a run. I had to learn Korean for work, so I have to study that pretty regularly. I’ve been slacking lately and I really want to get more involved in the language.

  • What inspired you to start writing?

I took an unusual path toward becoming an a published author. I’m used to draw comics for fun in middle school and high school, but that never went anywhere. I spent high school working toward college and I was one of those high achieving kids in high school. Varsity soccer team captain, Boy Scouts—that type of stuff. It took me two years with a detour to the University of Central Florida, but I was accepted to West Point and began that adventure in 2005.

It was at West Point that the universe aligned for me creatively. I did silly videos in my free time and started to write creative stuff. I did it in my free time, but didn’t take it that seriously. After all, I was training to be an Army officer.

While at the academy, I met Tony Formica, the man who is now my editor and one of my closest friends. He would help me edit my academic papers at the academy. He would destroy me, but also explain why he was doing it and I learned really well that way.

Then graduation came and I was on Active Duty. I went to Oklahoma and then off to South Korea and I put all of the creative stuff on pause. A few years go by and the story keeps rolling along until I found /r/nosleep on Reddit. I started posting there and it was a challenge. I’m a man who can’t give up on a challenge. If someone tells me something is impossible, I want to do the impossible. If I’m told I can’t do something, that fuels me. And if I post a story on a website that relies on the random user to upvote that story and prove my worth… well, I can’t resist the challenge.

As far as who and how it all exactly happened. I’m not sure if there was a person or something that specifically inspired me. I grew up being creative. Writing was a natural step for me.

  • What is your favorite genre and book?

I enjoy good writing more than the genre of the book. I’ll read anything if I think it’ll be interesting. I read a lot of books for professional development purposes. Stuff about the military, or my branch, books about history and leadership. I also read a lot of books about writing and anything I can that will help me to publish my stuff. I enjoy teaching myself things. I’ve read a few books recently about logo design and font/typeface.

When it comes to other stuff. I really like Poe, Twain, Hemingway, Vonnegut and Palahniuk. I don’t really know what my favorite book is. I enjoy a lot of books and I don’t have a lot of favorites. Maybe The Killer Angels.

  • Who is your favorite author?

I’m not a very consistent person with regards to this. I’m a fan of Poe and like his ability to be technical in his prose. But I don’t believe I was really influenced by him. And I believe that influences are an important subject to broach for any writer.

  • Which is the best part of writing a story?

Finishing the last edits. There are so many moments when I’m writing a story and I can feel the points I’m trying to make and I can see how imperfect the whole thing is. Switching sentences around and reading the first draft over and over again feels like I’m putting together a puzzle. I want it all to fit together. For each line to matter and be in its place. I don’t feel comfortable with a story until I know it’s been to my editor a few rounds. Once it finally comes back for the fourth time and I know its done. That’s when I can let myself feel the wave of relief over the story.

  • How much inspiration did you draw from your life or the lives of others around you?

I draw inspiration from everything. From life—memories; from my experiences and the people I’ve met on my adventures. Hemingway used to talk about living a life worth writing about. I really believe in that.

  • What inspired you to write a horror anthology?

Once I had a couple of stories on /r/nosleep I decided that I would write one a week. That I would use the concept of saturation to get people to notice me. It worked and I ended up posting a few months worth of stories. After awhile I had enough to put together along with about ten that I hadn’t let anyone read. I sent 30 stories to my editor, Tony, and what returned was about 20 stories that made the cut.

Once I finished the first book I realized I wanted to keep doing this. So I will.

  • Tell us a little about your book.

I completed the first draft in about four months. Then I did around five self-edits before sending it to my test readers and then to Tony a few times. I used a second editor for a final polish. The whole experience took me about a year. The cover doesn’t look like it, but it took me weeks to complete.

The stories are mostly psychological in nature and concentrate on modern American life. The things we think are normal, the aspects of our lives that we don’t really consider. Some stories are more personal than others. Some are just ideas I had. Some are based off of an emotion I’ve felt before.

  • If you had to pick one of your stories, which would be your favorite and why?

From this book? I have three stories that I really enjoyed writing. I wrote a variety of stories that ranged. But the stories that I really enjoy writing are less horror and more about the loss and empty feeling we sometimes have in our lives. I don’t know why it makes me feel depth in my life, but it does. So I write about those feelings. The story Plastic Glasses was written based off of the first sentence, which came to me while driving to work and listening to a Korean CD in my truck. The story Crying Numbers was a reason for me to write about all of the books my wife and I read when she was pregnant with our first son. My favorite story, if I had to pick one, would be the last story, called Cold Static. I don’t remember where the idea came from. It probably came to me in the shower. If I rewrite any of the short stories into a novel, it would be that story.

  • What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

That’s an interesting question. I don’t think the stories impact me in any direct way. I see them as puzzles. I once saw an interview with Jodie Foster about Taxi Driver. When everyone asked her about the violence she said she didn’t see the violence. She saw the pyrotechnics and the technical aspect of all of the practical effects.

  • How much do you relate to the characters or incidents in your story?

I try to concentrate more on empathy than on me being a representation of each of my characters. I let events become exaggerated and I let characters be more than they are. I want the reader to have the connection more than me.

  • Who among the characters you created do you like the most and why?

This is and will always be an issue with me. I don’t think I have a favorite. Maybe one day I will. I have favorite types of things in my life, but I just can’t pick one. I don’t have a favorite color. I have a favorite band and favorite movie, but even with those I have more or less a top ten list of stuff that shuffles.

  • What message would you like to share with your readers?

Thanks for reading and thanks for wanting to learn more about me. I’m on Facebook and stuff as As For Class. I’m always down to chat.

As far as advice or any other special type of message. If you have a dream, figure out how to make it happen and make it happen.

Readers can check out Ashley’s site and connect with him via the following social media:

https://twitter.com/AsForClass

asforclass.tumblr.com/
If any of you have come across his books or read them, please feel free to drop a comment or just generally let us know what you think of this interview.