February 8th, 2016
Frederick lee brooke presents(3)

Interview with Author Samreen Ahsan

How did you get started as an author?

It was more like an inspiration when I started writing. If I go five years back, I could never imagine myself as a published author. I never thought I’d write something that could win so many accolades.

I had story in my mind for quite a long time and I believe each one of us has a story but very few people give their thoughts a voice—and that’s how a writer comes into existence. For my first work, A Prayer Series, the inspiration has been taken from Holy Quran where the concept of paranormal creatures is beautifully described.

With all the things you do besides writing, how do you manage your time?

It all depends on your priorities and managing them skillfully. I have a full day job, two young children who need my help in their school work everyday and of course a husband and in this busy schedule, writing actually comes after all these activities. When the whole house is sleeping, I get my me time to read and write. Friday nights are usually the perfect hours of writing.

What was the inspiration of your latest book, Once Upon A [Stolen] Time?

I had a magical dream a few months ago, which gave me the whole idea of the story. I know it sounds quite whimsical but that’s the truth. There are also some elements of Disney fairytales in this book for those who still like to read fantasy stories.

What can you tell us about your plans for the Stolen Series?

It’s a tough question. A lot of my readers have asked about how many books this series would have and honestly I have no answer. I’m just writing it. The second book of the series is almost complete and nowhere the story seems to end. I guess it may go up to three or four books or maybe more. It all depends on my characters, wherever they take me, I’d go with them.

Tell me a funny story about getting started as an Independent author / publishing your books.

I have two daughters, Rania and Myra, age 9 and 6. My first series has two books, A Silent Prayer and A Prayer Heeded in which the female character’s name is Rania. My elder one got very excited when she came to know that mommy took her name in both the books. After the first series was published (two years ago), she told the entire school that her name was used in the book, which left the younger sister complaining. Every time she looked at the book, she used to find her name like her elder sister. So when I started writing Stolen Series, I told my younger daughter, who is only six now that her name Myra has been used as a female lead character.

Now, I have been warned by elder daughter Rania that this series should not extend more than two books because she doesn’t want her baby sister to win. And if I ever wrote more than two in Stolen Series then I would have to write equally for A Prayer Series. I find it quite funny because they still think they are the ones in the story and not their names. I’m sure when they’d grow up, they’d find it funny too.

What is the hardest part about finishing a book for you?

Saying goodbye to your characters is the hardest part. I’m one of those people who fall in love easily with the fictional characters, especially if I have created them myself. You live in their world for such a long time, talking to them, feeling their emotions, playing with their emotions—they become part of your everyday life. You feel empty when you have to let them go.

What is the uniqueness about your new book?

Once Upon A [Stolen] Time is set in both Medieval and Contemporary England. The reader will have the time travel experience from 2015 to 1415, back to back.

Are there other stories in your mind?

Yes, many. I just need to find time and write them.

How do you react on negative reviews?

I have learned that you cannot make everyone happy. It is not necessary whatever you write should be loved by everyone. For negative reviews: everyone has his/her opinion. Just ignore them and celebrate your other good reviews.

You have multiple awards on your first series. What was the best part about winning them?

When I took my children in Readers’ Favorite Awards in Miami in 2014, they met real authors for the very first time and were gifted lots of children’s book, personally signed by those award-winning authors. My children still show those books to their friends and the moment I was called on stage, the spark and pride they had in their eyes—it was all worth the effort. It is a very exhilarating feeling when your own children are proud of your achievements.

Any advice you’d like to give to aspiring authors?

Read, read and read. You cannot be a good writer if you’re not a good reader. Never give up. Keep writing. There are still many stories to be told.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

History, art and literature are my passions. I love digging out information about prophecies, divine miracles and paranormal events that are mentioned in history and holy books, that don’t sound possible in today’s modern world.

Since childhood, I have been into reading and writing—and yes, it can’t happen without imagination, which luckily has no boundaries. Dance and music are also pastimes I enjoy, as well as reading romance fiction. I love to travel and explore historical cities.

Judge of 2015 World’s Best Story

A Prayer Series” is my first story about paranormal events based on Islamic concepts.

Website: http://www.samreenahsan.com

Twitter: @samauthorcanada

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aprayerseries

Once Upon A [Stolen] Time is available on Amazon.

ABOUT ONCE UPON A [STOLEN] TIME

2015…

All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.

1415…

Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

 

February 3rd, 2016
Frederick lee brooke presents

Book Review: Drone Command, by Mike Maden

by Rachel Borene

Drone Command, by Mike Maden, is the third book in the Troy Pearce series, a fast moving science fiction political thriller. Featuring edge-of-your-seat action and realistic drone technologies, the novel follows protagonist Troy Pearce as he heads to Tokyo to dissolve a dangerous dispute which has risen between Japan and China over the claiming of the East China Sea. Peace must use his cunning to expose hidden agendas and stop an already precarious situation from turning into World War III, all while coming to terms with his own burdened past.

Set in the year 2017, the book starts out with a bang, introducing us to Admiral Ji, who is unwavering in his brutal persistence for violence when he spots a drone spying on him as he rallies his men for war.

Pearce must stop Admiral Ji before an international crisis occurs, and as the action moves from sea to land and back again, carefully researched drone technologies mix with smartly imagined science fiction, pushing readers to the edge of their comfort zones as they discover along with Perace what the future could hold when technology falls into the wrong hands.

Working alongside Pearce is Margaret Myers, former President of the United States. Myers, a strong willed woman who seeks no pity, must use her military prowess and endless valor to help stop the impending destruction, even while battling her own life threatening illness.

Combat enthused readers will be thrilled as Pearce and Myers take on their adversaries through both mental and physical brawn, using drone technology, firearms, and hand to hand combat. Myers uses her innovation and persistence to keep herself alive, rigging up what technology she has to keep herself alive during the most crucial moments. The lush tapestries of Japan and China act as backgrounds to the action, painting an image both beautiful and terrifying as the characters explore the potential for both good and evil that lies in every human being. Succinct and gripping chapters keep the plot moving at breakneck speed, while a peppering of flashback chapters fill the reader in on Pearce’s past. The cast of characters, well rounded and from a variety of backgrounds, gives the book a real world feel with heroes that readers will want to root for.

Though this is the third book in the the Troy Pearce series, the author has provided a character list and a page of technological abbreviations in the front of the book, making the novel accessible new readers.

Fans of political and techno thrillers are sure to find Drone Command to be a down-to-earth science fiction treat.

Check out Fred’s interview with Mike Maden!

January 18th, 2016
Frederick lee brooke presents(3)

Love a Book that Keeps You on the Edge? So does Simon Jenner…

Today on the blog, we’ve got the expert author Simon Jenner, author of the Ethan Justice and Evolved series. Thanks, Simon, for agreeing to join us!

1. What inspired you to write the Evolved series?

I asked myself what might happen if the world continued on its current destructive path (considering wars, terrorism, immigration, consumerism etc.…) and how that would predominantly affect the UK. Then I added a genetically superior band of humans, particularly Max, the most gifted of them all, to give the world a chance to survive. I let my imagination do the rest. I hope it ends well for us.

2. How does a typical day of writing look for you?

My ideal days, more rare than I’d like, are sitting at my desk by 8:00 am and working through till 10:00 am when my wife, Julia, and I, weather permitting, attempt to squeeze in a short walk. Then it’s back to work until 2:00 pm when I grab lunch for fifteen or so minutes. After lunch I work through until my son returns from school at around 4:00 pm. After half an hour of us all catching up on his day, I get back to work until 6:00 pm when Julia and I cook our evening meal together. Depending on her workload, we either take the rest of the day off or both burn the candles until 9:00 pm when we stop to take in a short TV show and then head off to bed.

The above might happen once a week I’d guess, but it’s what I strive for in my own crazy idea of how an ideal writer’s world should be.

3. How do you manage to write alongside of your day job and other commitments?

I don’t have a day job, which is kind of wonderful, but then at the same time we don’t have the money we used to have when I ground my days out as a faceless accountant for a blood-sucking corporation – hope I don’t need a reference ever!

While there’s no monthly paycheck for bean-counting any longer, I still have plenty of jobs left to get our house finished. When we arrived here there were only four rooms with electricity, not to mention no doors and windows. Since then – almost 9 years ago – I have plaster-boarded (dry-walled, I guess you good folks across the pond call it) the whole place, put in electricity (had an electrician initially but he turned out to be a moron so I had to sack him and learn to do it myself), installed a pool (supposed to be temporary but a writer’s wages have proven to be meager compared to an accountant’s so it may well be permanent if the bestseller never comes), put doors and windows in (internal and external), plumbed in three new bathrooms etc.… It’s still a way off completion but I’ll get there before I die – I hope.

4. You’re an expat author – how do you find living in a different country to where your books are set?

It’s not always easy but I have a pretty good memory and the Internet is a wonderful thing. Between these two, and regular visits back to the UK for a million and one different reasons, I just about manage. The third book in the Ethan Justice series, Incendiary, is actually based in Spain, which made life a whole lot easier.

5. With your Evolved series you’ve made a departure from your Ethan Justice books. What are the challenges of jumping from one genre to another?

I think the biggest challenge for me was changing from mostly third person point-of-view to only first person. Suddenly having to have my protagonist weave his way through a whole book without having another point of view caused me no end of head-scratching and swearing. But I needed a break from the Ethan Justice books to make sure I kept the story lines fresh, and I think, if I want to improve as an author – and I so badly do – that it’s important to experiment with new genres/ideas/POVs.

6. Which of your books are you personally most satisfied with? Why?

That is such a tough question. I’m my own worst critic and I’m never completely happy with anything I write. Every project has been a new journey and I’m always amazed when I press send and the book pops up on Amazon for sale the next day. I have untold admiration for anyone who finishes a book. Those who have never written one have no idea of the struggles and frustrations that go along with the process. Those authors that knock out bestsellers one after the other at a rate of knots are either paying others to help or are visitors from an advanced alien planet. Not a hint of jealousy there!

Okay, I just read that last paragraph back and I’m clearly avoiding the question in typical accountant fashion. I would have to say Ethan Justice: Guilty is the book I’m most satisfied with to date. The reason is purely that it is my last completed piece of work, and I think so far – perhaps only fractionally – I have written each book a little better than the last.

7. What can we expect to see in the near future from Simon Jenner?

I’m hoping to get The Evolved 2 – much better title to follow – out early 2016. It is proving quite a challenge, to say the least. This time Max’s returning memory reveals a truly horrific world beneath a rapidly failing veneer. I believe that it is a world not so far removed from the one we will inhabit if we don’t get our acts together and look to long-term solutions to our problems. It’s not all gloom and doom, mind you, as Max and co are on hand to provide light relief and hope during their second great adventure.

After that it’s the next installment of Ethan Justice and after that most likely the 3rd and final installment of The Evolved. Don’t hold me to that: I’m persistently unreliable.

Simon Jenner - Author PhotoAbout Simon Jenner

I am a man whose goal in life is to find my goal in life. I live with my wife and son who excel at keeping my crazy ideas in check – for which I am eternally grateful. As an accountant turned author, I am no stranger to excitement – yes, I have a sense of humour too – and I hope to continue entertaining readers for some time to come.

I write the ‘Ethan Justice’ series of action thrillers, which I hope will make you laugh, cringe, cry & cheer.

If you’d like to learn a bit more about me, check out some of my ‘Personal Crap’ blog posts, such as ‘The 10 Most Interesting Things About Me’, ‘Selling Myself In 10 Words Or Less’ and ‘The Story of My Life in 250 Words’.

You can also see what I like to read by checking out my ‘Killer Thrillers’ page. This features other indie thrillers that I have read and personally recommend.

To see what I’m muttering about elsewhere online, why not follow me on Twitter, ‘Like’ me on Facebook, or compare books with me on Goodreads. Alternatively leave me a comment on any of my blog posts or contact me directly. I’d love to hear from you.

December 1st, 2015

Could Drones Revolutionize Small Business?

Bottega del pane by decar66, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  image by decar66[text added] 

 

by Rachel Borene

Picture this:

You’re at home, preparing for a large dinner party when suddenly you remember that some of your guests have a dietary restriction you forgot to prepare for. These guests can’t eat gluten, and you prepared a chocolate cake for dessert. You know of a great bakery in town that makes gluten free cupcakes, but uh oh, guests are starting to arrive at your door and there’s no way you’ll be able to drive to the bakery now.

Luckily for you, the bakery happens to be one of the small businesses that utilize delivery drones. You pull out your smartphone and place an order for a dozen delicious gluten free cupcakes. Thirty minutes later, just as your guests are sitting down for dinner, you get a text alert that your cupcakes have arrived. You open your front door and, viola!, a drone has landed with a box that contains your dessert. You take the box, the drone flies away, and you’ve successfully shopped at a great local business without ever having to leave your home.

This delivery method isn’t as far-fetched as it may sound. In fact, back in June, the very first commercial delivery by drone was made (1). The drone was made by Australian start-up company Flirtey, who wants to revolutionize drone delivery. Their goal is to make drone delivery so common that a drone could deliver everything from medicine to pizza.

With our daily lives being so hectic, companies like Flirtey want to help people save time or expand their own customer base. Picture the positive that delivery drones could have for your friends or relatives who own a small business.

November 24th, 2015

From Fear to Maker Faire: Two Years of Normalizing the Drone

Drone and Joan 50171 by tedeytan, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License image by  image by tedeytan  [text added]

by Rachael Borene

On December 1st, 2013, the public was shocked when Amazon.com announced an upcoming shipment method: delivery by drone. Customers who lived within a ten-mile radius of an Amazon shipment center would eventually have the option of having small packages delivered to them in less than thirty minutes, straight to their doorstep, thanks to GPS-guided drones.

The announcement sparked a public outcry which led to many unanswered questions about drones. Amazon tried to answer as many question as possible, but people still feared the thought of drones zipping through the sky above their heads, carrying unmarked packages. Our society, which looks in awe at the technologically advanced worlds in science fiction, is still living in a time where we’d rather picture these technologies as fantasy instead of dealing with them as a reality.

So how does the concept of the drone become normalized in society?

The answer is easy: begin with younger generations of people. In the past, drones were thought of as war machines and tools of terror. Adults may feel like drones are making us lose control of our world, rather than making it a smaller and more accessible place for humanity to live. Children, however, have yet to make up their minds about drones.

This year, Barnes and Noble hosted a nationwide Makers Faire, complete with demonstrations of a working drone. The drone was little more than a novelty; it only stayed operational for eight minutes before it had to be charged for another fifty minutes, it couldn’t carry anything, and the demonstrator flew it only ten inches off the ground. But the innocent, fun personality of that little drone attracted curious children, and likewise reminded adults that the daydreams of their youth were coming true.

Young children today won’t remember a time when drones didn’t exist. Their first experiences with them will likely be as a toy, not a war machine. In only two years, the drone has gone from feared technology to a popular childrens’ toy. Only time will tell how society will come to use the drone, but the new generations are sure to approach it with an attitude of ingenuity and inspiration.