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If you don't speak up… (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Mikhael Sublett

As the rumbles die down the damage is assessed. Bloody Interplantary squabbles. Every day another disagreement between leaders and we cope the brunt of the fall out. I can’t see a building, road or airbridge that has not been affected by spaceship bound weaponry. You didn’t want to get caught out in the open during an airstrike. Well, I mean, if you did, I guess you wouldn’t know about it. Instant evaporation.

I crumple the underground town meeting pamphlet in my hand. Something must be done. Tonight, plans would be made.

I refuse to accept this anymore.

The fight begins.

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

You can read more FF responses here

Word Count: 100

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Author Interview: Elizabeth Foster

Manly book launch

It’s the sound of water that reminds me where I am. There are bridges and skinny little pathways of cobbled stones over them everywhere I look. Water everywhere. Rushing here, trickling there. The smell of it too. And happiness. People gathered chatting animatedly. Tourists and locals mingling together. Laughing… eyes fixed on the water and the gondola’s sweeping past.

I head over the the little table and order a cafe latte. I can hear singing. What a magical place this is. High up, in the air above my head, I see a dark shape twist and turn, dive and… Holy heck… Is that a dragon? I hear my name and spin around… and see Elizabeth walking toward me.

Today I have the pleasure of chatting with the amazing Elizabeth Foster author of the Esme’s Wish and newly released Esme’s Gift. Hi Elisabeth… it’s so lovely to finally sit down and have a chat with you. I really enjoyed reading Esme’s Wish. So first up, tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi Laurie,
I wish I could say I was born somewhere exotic but I remember my childhood as rather dull. I grew up in Brisbane and now live in Sydney. I have three children of my own now.  In my free time I read as much as possible, and also get out and about in Sydney – I love being near the water.

Now, tell me about your writing… What age were you when you started?

Latish – in my forties. After reading Harry Potter with my children I realised how much I missed being lost in other worlds and decided to create my own. I had no idea how much work it would be!

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I always knew I wanted to do something creative but didn’t know what. There were no writers in my family and most of the books I read as a child were by male authors. So writing a novel was something I never ever considered. Because of this, I have really encouraged my own children to explore their own creativity. One of my sons, Chris, is now writing an epic fantasy series of his own. We edit each other’s work and it is fantastic to have a fellow creative so close by.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I adored stepping through the enchanted doors into an icy snowscape so unlike Australia. I still remember the thrill of it.

Oh I loved that one as a kid too! So, favorite book as an adult and why?

Too hard to choose. I recently entranced by The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and The Changeover by Margaret Mahy. I have a soft spot for Jane Austen’s works too.

Oh, The Graveyard Book is on my giant pile of books to read. I just finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Okay, so tell me a bit about Esme’s Wish. Where did you get the idea?

Artist Kahlil Gibran said that ‘in one drop of water are found all the secrets of the ocean.’ I took it from there!

Tell me about Esme? Is she modeled off anyone?

No one in particular, although I think there is a lot of me in her. There is a little bit of me in all my characters, even the antagonists.

What about Daniel? and Lillian? or Ariane?

Again, not really. Daniel embodies all the features of a traditional hero – masculine, daring, adventurous – except he is the sidekick rather than the protagonist. Lillian is the sister Esme never had. When it came to Ariane, there are a few artists in my family – I’ve dabbled in painting myself – so it felt natural to have an artist in the story.

I love the worldbuilding in this story. Tell me about Aeolia… where did you get your inspiration?

I visited Venice both before and during the writing of the first book. It is such a dreamy, inspiring, magical place. It’s also on a precarious perch, constantly on the verge of sinking into the lagoon, rather like Esperance in book one. When I imagine Esperance, I think of Venice with Ancient Greek touches – and dragons!

Oh Venice is a lovely city. I’ve been there too and I know what you mean. What are you hoping your readers take away from this story?

Hope, determination, and the will to never give up on things that are important to them.

What is your writing process?

The first book took countless drafts. I focused on a different aspect of the writing craft – character, dialogue, pace, etc. – in each draft, learning as I went along. I was full of insecurities and doubts all the way through. It was only when I was actually writing that the doubts went away – so I kept going!  Now, as I write, everything – character, setting, plot – happens at once, which makes the process quicker, but does my head in. 🙂 I do much more plotting now, but when I write it still feels like someone else takes over and moves all the levers – it is both mysterious and wondrous. I feel the weight of the book all the way through, though, a psychic load that doesn’t lift until I send the story off to the publishers.

How long did it take you to write Esme’s Wish? 

Around seven years. It took me a long time to find a publisher and I kept polishing and polishing even after I found one.

How are you going with book two? What can you tell us about it? 🙂

Book two is finished! Esme’s Gift is the middle book in the series. I’m often disappointed with the second in a series, so I tried to make this sequel equally as satisfying as the first instalment. Esme, Daniel and Lillian spend time at school together in Esperance, but also head off on adventures around different parts of Aeolia. It was fun to write but also exhausting, as I was on a bit of a deadline (which I went way past!)

Finally, what advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book?

Commit to your project with your whole heart. Write lots but also read plenty of good quality literature – what you read will echo in your own prose. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but at the same time recognise that if you want to get published the bar is high. Writing can be lonely – surround yourself with people who support you, even if it is only online. If you do manage to finish, be proud. Writing a novel is really hard work and I admire anyone who puts in the time and effort to get to ‘the end.’

Thanks for listening to my ramblings!

Thank YOU Elizabeth! Thanks for your time today. It has been fun to chat.

I watch her walk away with a wave and then wander to the bridge to stare down into the clear water. The tip of a gondola comes into view and I wave at the gondolier. His giant smile lights up his entire tanned face. I shoot a glance upward… where did the dragon go?

You can read my review of Esme’s Wish here and you can find Elizabeth at any of the following links

Website: http://elizabethfoster.com.au/

Facebook: @elizabethfosterauthor

Twitter: @e_foster3

Instagram: @elizabethfoster_

And you can find buy Esme’s Wish at the following

Amazon US   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0826KL5MG

Amazon AU  https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0826KL5MG/

Book Two – Esme’s Gift is OUT NOW!

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0826JWZP4/

Amazon.com.au  https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0826JWZP4/

All aboard (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

Tourists were the same universe over. Loud, rude, obnoxious… One and the same really. Inappropriate behaviour, too much alcohol and parties long into the night.

On this one planet, the locals had had enough.

The automatic hoverbus took the diversion as signposted and was not seen again.

As did the next.

And the next.

Not many travelled to New Shangri-la anymore.

Hardly surprising.

Lot of divorced singles. Well… they didn’t know they would shortly be divorced… or missing…

That was the thing about New Shangri-la. You didn’t know you were going there… until you were not there anymore.

Holiday anyone?

This is Friday Fictioneers Prompt

You can read more of the FF prompt responses here

Word Count: 100

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© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: A Forgiven Friend by by Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape

About the book

Friendship will always come first.

There’s only one way out from rock bottom and that’s up, and Teri Meyer is finally crawling out from the worst time of her life – no thanks to her best friend Lee. But no matter, she’s finally found love – real love with a real man, a successful man, a man who accepts all her flaws. Teri’s never felt like this before, and yet it’s changing her in ways she doesn’t understand.

And there’s only one person who can help, one person who truly understands Teri.

It seems that no matter how hard Lee Harper tries, there’s a battle awaiting her at every turn these days, and she’s tired. And as if she needs the extra stress, Teri continues to create constant and unnecessary drama. But Lee’s the only one who really knows what’s going on under Teri’s hard, convoluted exterior, and that’s why she’s always been there for her.

But the question is: will Teri be there when Lee needs her most?

My Thoughts

Noooooooo, it’s the final book in the series! Ah, but what an enjoyable one. Honestly, Teri and Lee drive me mad but it is thoroughly entertaining to find out what incredible shenanigans they have gotten up to now. This is a terrific end to a series. (But I still want to know what happens to them next – the sign of excellent storytelling).

I simply love the way moments are told from differing points of view – and I never know who is actually telling the truth of a story – as from their own points of view – they are perfectly correct. It’s fabulous insight into how two people who know each other extremely well… don’t really know each other at all. It’s a brilliant insight into friendship and the trials and suffering that comes from them, and it shows how the memory and recall of an incident – any incident – is really subjective depending on the point of view.

It certainly makes me wonder what my friends really think of me!

The pacing of the story rockets along as more and more hi-jinks occur. Honestly, I cannot believe the trouble they get themselves into. The love lives and working lives of these two women and their emotional journey, shows ultimately, the real meaning of friendship. A terrific read.

Clever writing and a clever story. I’m a bit heartbroken that it is now at an end.

You can read my review of Book One and Book Two here.

Review: You're Never the Same by Bill Bateman

About the book

Dr Vince Hanrahan is still in exile down on Victoria’s southwest coast, serving out his time before returning to his wife and family and reclaiming his status as a big shot metro OBY/GYN. Well, that’s the plan. If he keeps out of trouble.

But trouble has a way of finding Vince. When his only brother commits suicide on the family farm, it looks like drought and isolation have claimed another victim. Or was there another reason? Then there is a local murder and Vince wonders if the two deaths are connected. Driven by guilt about neglecting his brother, he decides he must find out. The quest leads him to the gates of his alma mater, St Bernard’s College in Ballarat.

Meanwhile, back in the labour ward, Vince encounters another near catastrophe and saves the day with a risky delivery—a high wire act with no safety net—and his career is threatened. Again.

Personally and professionally, he’s facing oblivion. Maybe DC Elena Genovesi can help on both fronts.

My thoughts

This is a book two but it stands alone and at no point did I feel lost to the story, and it must be one of the most Aussie books I have ever read. I don’t really read contemporary stories a lot but I thoroughly enjoyed the language, the voice and the setting of this story. It hooked me very quickly and as a local Melbournite I enjoyed all of the story’s settings and locations, from the dried out, drought affected, farm land to the city scenes and small town personalities. (I felt like I really knew every location).

From the language to the land this was an enjoyable read. A real feel of an Aussie whodunit – a murder mystery full of medical experience that felt incredibly real, and as the author is a doctor, it has an authenticity that is hard to find elsewhere.

It’s also a book with a heavy subject matter. It is written in an easy to digest way where the topic is focused on the modern murder mystery while recapping the horrors of the past and everyone in the story has a plausible motive. I didn’t pick the killer. The people in this story are believable and grittily real, from their emotional reactions in their day-to-day lives to their family relationships, to working relationships, mateship and how they deal with stress and unexpected pressure. And while I didn’t particularly like Vince as a main character… I had to know where the story was heading and the pace of the story made it an enjoyable read. (And honestly, the fact that I didn’t really like Vince made the character far more realistic and genuine in my mind!) The author has done an excellent job. I’ll have to grab myself a copy of book one.

Around we go (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E. Ayr

Some days it’s as though this mad roundabout of life is one you cannot get off from. The daily grind of public transport, driving, school, coffee, food, kids, pets, sports, work, elderly parents and so on. It just goes on and on. And yet… in our imaginations, our lives can be endless and exciting. We just need to find the time to let our minds soar.

Do you?

Kids do it… as easy as breathing.

Reality is a harsh lover.

Find a good book, or a movie, or music. Let your mind take flight. Let go of gravity.

Create.

Live.

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

You can read more FF responses here

Word Count: 100

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© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

About the book

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all. 

My Thoughts:

What a lovely story. This is a clever, heartfelt, fun fantasy for 9-14yr olds (or adults… like me.) I loved it. It makes a great family story that you can read with your kids or even have them read to you. Author Elizabeth Foster has created an imaginative world that is detailed, consistent and visually stunning. Characters have depth, layers and emotional drivers, and I really want to visit Aeolia! Such imaginative worldbuilding!

Poor Esme. Her mother disappeared several years ago and everyone appears to be moving on with their lives. Esme can’t. She can’t let go. There are also strange things happening around her. Things that confuse her. Until she follows a mysterious bird that seems to somehow know her. When she discovers the hidden world of Aeolia things begin to make sense. Now she’s on a mission… to find out what happened to her mother, and she has friends at last. Friends who want to help her.

There are monsters, dragons, and creepy scientists, magic water and mysterious earthquakes. Aeolia is a magical place. But Aeolia has its secrets too… Secrets it’s not going to give up willingly.

Esme is terrific lead character. Daniel and Lillian are fabulous secondary characters. And I love a good action sequence and this has some fantastic ones.

This is the first book of the series and I am very much looking forward to reading book two.

Memories fade, reputation lasts (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

It’s been so long since I got back from my interplanetary travels, I hardly remember it. Every ten years I return to the storage shed to check on… well… my things I guess you could call them. It doesn’t help the memories, most of the time I’m not really sure what I’m looking at. They’re important. I know that. And that I can’t get rid of them.

“Hello Rennie.”

I don’t recognize the face. The gun he holds says he knows me.

“Where’s the belt?”

My weapon appears. I’m not as fast as I used to be.

They found me.

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

You can read more FF responses here

Word count: 100

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© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

About the Book:

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

My thoughts:

Fairytale or horror story? One and the same, right? Neil Gaiman knows how to tell a story. This is a tale of creep, scare, shadows, death and a childhood lost. Of the monsters in the shadows and the monsters in the people around us. And of lost and found memories. What makes us what we are? What makes the magic in the people around us? And what happens when we do not do as we are told. When the monsters escape the world of nightmares and follow you home and use your family to get to you… Simply because they don’t want to go back. Of monsters who only want to give people what they want.

Told as a memory, this story is a journey through a moment in time, a man’s childhood once forgotten now remembered. Of the moment he stopped being a child. And of the moment the world stopped being safe. Of a little boy dealing with death and along the way also dealing with the horror of monsters who want his life, his family and his friendship destroyed. It’s also a story about loss. Of friendship. Of trust. Of fear. And of the tiny mistakes that escalate into huge problems and the amazingly magical friendships that can save you.

It’s a story of nightmares. And of an extraordinary girl, and her mother and grandmother who live at the bottom of the lane, and of their magical ocean.

One little step can lead to another and another and you can end up in a place you never imagined. Where you must rely on someone to save you. Who wants to save you. Especially when you are a seven year old boy confronted with nightmares made real. This is a tale that takes you from a sense of reality to a terrible fantasy as easily as breathing. Or of taking one step after another.

I think everyone should read it.

Meanwhile, at the sanctum…

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

After the battle for the sanctum all was quiet. Given so many of the fighters had super-strength the door was easily sealed with a heavy board. It wouldn’t stop the mechanical monsters if they returned, still, the looky-loos would be kept at bay. (the ones wanting selfies and autographs were the worst… and the hardest to eject). It also stopped the journalists sniffing for a story.

Once again, half the city had been destroyed. It seemed every evil henchman and insane assistant was trying to make a name for themselves these days.

They had time to rest.

For now anyway.

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

You can read more FF prompt responses at the link here

Word Count: 100

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© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

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