Monday 30 April 2018

Guest Post: Attention by Elliott Baker...

I’m fascinated by quantum theory. Wait, don’t run. Won’t be any formulas. I write fiction, after all. So we live in a huge soup of informed energy. What? Matter is energy that has decided to act in one particular way. Who decided? Stay with me here. Remember I’m not a scientist, just someone who thinks the universe is a fascinating place. A place worth thought. So these keys that I’m pounding on aren’t really solid. They look solid to me. Well, from what I read, if you look closely, they end up being energy moving along defined tracks with a ton of space between the tracks. Kind of like looking out into space. Why doesn’t the Enterprise run into stuff if it’s traveling many times the speed of light? Because space wasn’t named space for nothing. (Just re-read this last sentence. I crack myself up.)

So in my macro world, the world of keyboards, I’m looking at the letters and numbers on the keyboard, and I can’t see any space between the electrons. But I can imagine it. Evidently in the world of quantum physics, energy can choose to be either a particle or a wave, matter or energy, or both at the same time. I find this interesting, but way more interesting to me is if we are energy beings, and the energy is invisible, what do we do with it? How do we get it? Do we take it from each other?

When you are hungry, you feel a certain discontent. When you are really hungry, it grows to a demand. The vehicle each of us rides in requires fuel which is turned into a form of energy that can be used by our cells, creating all kinds of power, motive, thought, emotion, etc. Plants take energy directly from the sun. Is it possible that we also take energy directly from the sun. We’ve evolved or maybe devolved so that we get our energy second or third hand. From the sun to plants, to animals, to us. Before the advent of science and its sensory enlarging tools, the best man could do was reason from effects to causes. For the writer of fiction, it’s still a pleasant trip. Plants thrive in sunlight or die if left in darkness, therefore, sunlight is crucial to the plant’s survival. What about humans. Is McDonald’s the only way we get energy? A better question might be: Is McDonald’s the only way we can get energy?

If you’ve ever watched a live comedian on stage really killing the room, the person almost seems to glow. They’re on an emotional high. What is happening? It’s a small comedic venue, only thirty or forty people in the audience, but these people are hyper-focused on the comedian. Anyone who has been on stage knows the high I speak of. You feel good, excited, full of energy. Are the people in the audience sending energy to those on stage? It’s temporary, but while the attention of an audience is on you, it’s glorious.

If energy is exchanged in a situation like that of performer/audience, what about two people having coffee? Do we exchange energy with each other all the time? James Redfield thinks so. The Celestine Prophesy came out twenty years ago. According to Mr. Redfield, not only do we exchange energy with each other, we forcibly take it. Who could imagine that? We’re such sweet little monkeys. We would never take something from anyone else. Redfield speaks of control dramas which we learn as children to defend ourselves from the energy vampires which surround us. Vampires. Now you’re talking. Ever wondered why the vampire is such an icon in our literature. Where could we have possible have gotten that idea?

In most martial arts, focus and concentration are key elements along with specific movements. The greater the focus and concentration, the greater the power behind the movement. Most of us live fragmented lives jumping from one thought to another. I don’t mean that in a negative way, just that we’re not trained Kung Fu masters able to meditate for a day on one blossom of a flower. The benefits of meditation are patently obvious, but not so easy to attain. In Aldous Huxley’s book Island a cynical journalist is shipwrecked on an island where trained Mynah birds continually say the word “Attention.” We don’t. Don’t pay attention. Not really. And that is the crux of the matter. If we exchange energy, and I think we do, we do it through the medium of attention. We (And I include myself. Oh, look a bird.) seem to wander around at the whim of our senses, switching our attention to the thought or impression of the moment. Flashlights instead of lasers. Like Redfield, I believe energy can be obtained from many different agencies, not just other people. And in unlimited amount.

In my book The Sun God’s Heir: Return Book One, which is currently FREE on Amazon the protagonist and antagonist were once brother disciples of the Pharoah Akhenaten. In that incarnation three thousand years ago they learned not only to control the energy that made up their physical envelopes, but to see and manipulate energy on different levels than the one customarily seen by humans. In The Sun God’s Heir trilogy, energy crosses time in the form of karma and if there is one universal law, it must be that of balance.

If there is discomfort in the universe it must in the form of imbalance. Since according to quantum physics, time appears to be merely a construct, the universal demand for balance does not seem to find our limited perception of time to be an obstruction. At least in my imagination it doesn’t.

The two ancient brothers, return to 17th century France, one in the normal way, birth, childhood, adulthood, and the other… Well the other has taken a darker route borrowing the body of a downstream incarnation. One remembers the powers taught at the feet of the pharaoh Akhenaten, the other must remember in order to survive and protect those he loves.

The Sun God’s Heir: Return should be shelved under Historical Fantasy for the time being. For a moment, imagine yourself in 1672 sitting and tasting the newest beverage, hot chocolate. Someone at the table speculates that there may be invisible waves that can carry sound and pictures. Just sayin’.

Award winning, international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy.

A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott's Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.

Monday 23 April 2018

What Authors Can Learn from the Demise of Sears…

Last year, I was shocked to find out that Sears Canada, a company that has been in business for over 60 years, was filing for creditor protection in June. They closed a total of 59 stores with the Sears brand name, resulting in 2900 employee layoffs. Then, the domino effect happened. In October, Sears decided to close all their stores permanently in Canada, and went into the liquidation process until January 2018, laying off the remaining 11,240 employees. Their pensions, like the company they had worked so hard for over the years, dissolved before their eyes. I’m still shaking my head. Growing up, Sears was an institution, a shopping mecca, and a place you could find quality products at a fair price. So, where did Sears go wrong?

Author friend and colleague, Anne Montgomery has a theory about that, and you can read her blog post HERE. But I suspect there’s more to it than sloppy service or guilt-ridden customers. This goes much deeper. Sears Canada began its operations as Simpson-Sears Limited in 1952 as a catalogue and mid-market suburban retailer. This was their target market. The store introduced ‘We Service What We Sell’ as their slogan, backed up by a highly-trained nationwide corps of service technicians. Smart move. They brought in their own brand names (Kenmore, Craftsman), got into malls, expanded their products, and at the end we’re even planning to sell groceries (think Walmart). Sears parted ways from Simpson (purchased by the Hudson Bay Company in 1978) continued to rebrand, changing their logo a number of times, and trying new store formats before deciding to throw in the towel. In the end, there just wasn’t enough cash flow to meet the company’s financial obligations over the next year. Case closed. Doors shut.

So, what do AUTHORS need to learn from the demise of this department store dinosaur?

Sears didn’t evolve. They stopped filling a need. Their target market changed and they didn’t grow with them. Sears didn’t look at the big picture. Blame the Millennials if you wish, but their shopping habits are not the same as their parent’s. Brick and mortar stores and malls were a meeting place when I was younger. Now, not so much. Monster on-line businesses like Amazon are taking over, and authors have a place to easily publish their reading wares with a push of a few buttons. Walmart is surviving by offering low prices and great service. They fill a need, and market it well. My guess is that Sears simply ran its course. Smart businesses compete by innovating with more products and service.

Authors should be smart too. Build a brand that fills a need for your target market. Choose a price point, experiment with ways of reaching more readers, and always keep adding more products (books) to your author store (website). Keep your overhead low, and always continue to invest in your business. Offer quality service (great editing and an eye-catching book cover) and most importantly write an awesome story that will keep your customers (readers) visiting your website and buying your books for years to come.      

There are so many lesson authors can learn from a company when they go belly-up. The trick is to make sure you stay afloat long enough to watch your ships come in. That is my hope for all you writers out there. Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday 16 April 2018

Book Blog Tour: Ghosts and Exiles by Sandra Unerman...

Spellhaven is no more, but its spirits remain.

About the Book:

Tilda Gray hates Spellhaven, the city where her husband was born, even though she has never set foot in the place, and she does not believe in the magic it’s supposed to have held. Now her husband is dead, she would rather avoid any mention of the city. But her sons, Nicholas and James, have befriended Hugo, a young boy threatened by forces none of them understand. When Hugo's uncle and guardian, Stephen Cole, visits the Gray family to ask for help, Tilda agrees against her better judgement. Between them, as they search for ways to banish or at least help Hugo cope with the ghosts that are driving him mad, they seek out the dubious aid of the exiles from Spellhaven. In doing so they must face new dangers and unknown magic, unlike anything Tilda could have believed possible.

Book Details:

Print Length: 300 pages
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Genre(s): Magical Realism, Historical Fantasy

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Read an Exclusive Excerpt:

‘But how?’ Stephen tried not to shout. ‘They say he talks to you. Is that what he told you?’
‘He didn’t need to,’ Nicholas said.

‘It’s the other way round,’ James said. ‘Howler talks to Nick because he already knows about the ghosts.’

The room felt cold suddenly, bleak as the bare trees out in the garden. Stephen wished himself back in Chambers, insulated by the shelves of Law Reports in their leather bindings. ‘And where do you come in?’ he asked James.

‘I’m interested in Howler as a scientific study. He’s in the wrong form, of course, but one doesn’t let that interfere with anything important.’

Nicholas had resumed his silence. Stephen could not read the look on Mrs. Gray’s face but he hurried to speak before she could. ‘Then please will you explain. Has Hugo seen a ghost at the school?’

‘Wherever he goes, not just at school. They won’t leave him alone but nobody else can see them or hear them. They curse at him and make fun of him: that’s what he can’t stand.’

‘Enough!’ Mrs. Gray’s voice was not loud but sharp. ‘James, if you are making up this nonsense, I’m ashamed of you.’

James looked wounded. ‘That’s what people say to Howler whenever he tries to explain.’

‘Some people don’t believe in ghosts,’ Stephen said, ‘especially if they can’t see anything themselves.’

James stared at him. ‘Do you believe in them, sir?’

Stephen did not know how to answer. For years, the War had brought him nightmares which seemed as real and as painful as the encounters with ghosts some of his old comrades described, but he did not want to talk about that now. ‘Isn’t it what Hugo believes that matters?’

‘He’s not making it up,’ James said, ‘Nick can tell.’

The others turned to look at Nicholas, who shrugged. ‘I can sense the ghosts.’

‘Sense them how?’ Stephen asked. ‘What exactly have you seen? Or heard?’

Nicholas shrugged again.

‘I will not have this,’ Mrs. Gray said. She looked at her hands gripped in her lap and spoke more to herself than anyone else. ‘I thought better of the school than to let the boys fall into this kind of hysteria.’

‘Forgive me for asking but does your faith prohibit a belief in ghosts, Mrs. Gray?’ Stephen asked.

‘I lost my faith some years ago, if I ever had any,’ she answered and he was shocked that she should speak so openly in front of the boys, ‘but I know what troubles people inflict on themselves if they let imagination run riot.’

She stood up and Stephen rose with her as she said, ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Cole. Whatever is wrong with your nephew, he is plainly doing Nicholas no good. I think they should be kept apart from one another.’


‘...Spellhaven is an intriguing novel with no easy answers or way out, which means you can keep rereading it and drawing different conclusions every time. Jane is never going to be entirely happy and settled in life – but would she ever have been, even without her magical summons? 
Refreshingly, it does not appear to be part of a series: that ending ambiguity is all you’re getting and it will keep buzzing at the back of your mind for days.’ ~ Ben Jeapes, author of Phoenicia’s Worlds and other SF novels, from the BSFA review

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Meet the Author:

Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in science fiction and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. Her latest stories are in Sword and Sorcery magazine, June 2017, and Fall into Fantasy, an anthology from Cloaked Press. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.

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Monday 9 April 2018

Cover Reveal: Mirror's Deceit by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred...

Mirena Calanais is destined to change the world. 
Her rival has made a desperate flight to the past to stop her.

About the Book:

A gifted student of majik, Mirena is on the verge of graduating from a secret college that will give her a leg up in her political career, when her achievements are overshadowed by the arrival of a mysterious woman with an unknown agenda. Desperate to keep what she sees as her rightful place in the spotlight, Mirena goes to astounding lengths including taking it upon herself to pose as a double agent to investigate a rebel force plotting to destabilize the government. Unfortunately, her actions cost her the trust of those around her, so when she is proclaimed the Dark Avatar of the Destroyer, she finds she has nowhere to turn. 

In a seeming utopia, Mirena is now a pariah with the force of Destroyer behind her and her once bright dreams have darkened, leaving her a threat not only to herself, but to those she cares about. Can she turn her life around, or will someone need to stop her before she goes too far? 

Book Information:

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing; 1 edition
Publication Date: May 17, 2018

Genre(s): Dark Fantasy, Romance, Fantasy
Page count: 240 pages

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Meet the Authors:

Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of eight novels and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally roleplaying with her friends. 

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she'd rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is a new mom living in Windsor, Ontario, ready to embark on a new career as a medical technician. 

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Monday 2 April 2018

Recipe and Read of the Month by Alicia Joseph...

Photo credit: Allons-Eat!
If you’re a peanut butter fan, this is a perfect treat for you or your special someone. And what better way to show you care then to bake something worth sharing! Perfect for serving with tea or coffee during unexpected (or expected) visitor drop-ins, this recipe is guaranteed to make you smile with each bite.



1 ¼ cup chocolate cookie crumbs. (20 cookies)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted

PREHEAT oven 375°F.

COMBINE ingredients in a small bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie plate.

BAKE 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.


1 (8 oz) pkg. softened cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar 1 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

IN a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in whipped cream.

GENTLY spoon into crust. Garnish with grated chocolate, chocolate cookie crumbs, or fresh raspberries.

REFRIGERATE and enjoy!

Another bound-to-be best seller for Alicia Joseph is currently on the stands in e-book and print. This young author's style and voice tear at your soul. Joseph delivers more than a pretty tale. Her words create a web that wraps around the reader and draws them into a compelling story. Here's a sampling of Alicia's newest read...

  “When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else.”

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality. After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.


I was jerked from my sleep while the phone was still buzzing its first high-piercing ring. I glanced at the clock on the nightstand beside my bed. It read 4:17 a.m. I knew something was wrong.

The second ring was abruptly broken up and my mother’s muffled voice carried into my room. I was already sitting upright in my bed when my bedroom door squeaked open. My mother’s slight figure appeared as a shadow near my door.

“Lyssa? You up?” she asked.

“What’s wrong?” My voice was no louder than a whisper.

I watched my mother slowly make her way into the dark room. I couldn’t make out the expression on her face, but the stiff movement of the outline of her body was hesitant.

She turned on the lamp and sat down beside me. Her face was pale. She let out short, shallow breaths. It seemed difficult for her to look me in the eyes.

“What is it?” I asked. “What’s happened?”

Finally, my mother looked at me with pain in her eyes. “Lyssa . . .” She smoothed her hand gently across my arm. “Abbey’s dead.”

I took in her words without an ounce of denial. The reality of what my mother had told me was instant.

My best friend was dead.
Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. Her first novella, Her Name, was published by Musa Publishing in 2014. Her Name is a sweet, romantic story about a woman who believes the beautiful woman she dreams about is the real love of her life.

Loving Again is her second published novella. Alicia is currently working on a new novel called A Penny on the Tracks, a coming of age story about love and friendship. Alicia has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.