The Byronic Hero: My Kind of Character

Scene from The Count of Monte Cristo.

Scene from The Count of Monte Cristo.

Currently, I am in the throes of reading Alexander Dumas ‘ masterpiece The Count of Monte Cristo.  Normally, I make a point to read as many books as possible despite my sluggish reading pace.  But this novel has been different.  It’s taken me weeks to get through these 1000+ pages because, 50 pages into this story I started slowing down, savoring each and every sentence.  I haven’t been so spellbound to a story since I finished Wuthering Heights last winter, and I think I know why.

People who read a lot might find they can identify with this concept; the idea that we readers have character types we are attracted to, characters who enchant, delight, and mesmerize us more than the others in a particular novel.   For me, I subconsciously categorize  books in this way — based on character types.  I’ve noticed a trend in some of my favorite works of English literature:  the brooding, Byronic, sometimes satanical hero.

Typically this protagonist was one that emerged in 19th-century romantic literature and has roots in the poetry of Lord Byron.  The Byronic hero has transcended time and emerged in modern literature as well, though is depicted more as an anti-hero in these more recent works ( an example of this might be the Phantom from Phantom of  the Opera).  But in 19th-century romantic literature, the Byronic protagonist was the hero, not the anti-hero.  The archetype was usually male and embodied these character traits:

  • arrogant
  • cunning
  • cynical
  • intelligent
  • perceptive
  • domineering
  • tormented by their past
  • vengeful
  • mysterious
  • charismatic
  • emotionally conflicted

The British historian and essayist Lord Macaulay summarized the Byronic hero perfectly:

“… man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection”.  — Critical & Historical Essays Volume 2 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester in a recent film depiction of Jane Eyre.

Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester in a recent film depiction of Jane Eyre.

I am drawn to the Byronic hero because of these multifarious character description.  For those who have read the Count of Monte Cristo, the Byronic hero is in the title.   The more I read, the more I come to realize how he is a character of infinite dimensions.  Just when he shows a friend the ultimate hospitality and generosity, he secretly reveals a vengeful, convoluted plan that will eventually disgrace and ruin them.  Just when his mannerisms seem too gentle to hurt a fly, he declares he will duel one of his compatriots to the death.  Just when I believe he is too intelligent to possess any weaknesses, he succumbs to a woman’s maternal pleas.   He is both terrible and terrific at once, and he is what makes this story so compelling and formidable.

The Count of Monte Cristo isn’t the only example of a Byronic hero I’ve come across.  Wuthering Heights, another favorite novel of mine, has its own Byronic hero — Heathcliff.   Cruel to his subordinates and obstinate to most other characters, he loved Catherine enough to let her marry another, while he let himself deteriorate with the agony of not being by her side.  From Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester is another perfect example of the Byronic hero.   Though in love with Jane, he is too tormented by his past sins and dishonesty to be with her.  Only after the fire at his estate are his sins eradicated and he is able to atone for them to be happy.

Not everyone might be attracted to the intense personality of the Byronic hero.   Though it’s the character I remember the most, the one I carry away with me when the story is over.  Perhaps the Byronic hero is a reason why I believe there’s nothing more absorbing or worthwhile than writing.

 

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

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I wish to make an ANNOUNCEMENT. He spoke this last word so loudly and suddenly that everyone sat up who still could. I regret to announce that — though, as I said, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to spend among you — this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

My preparations to leave the country have prompted me to think about departures in general.  Saying goodbye, whether it be to life or loved ones or friends, is a crucial moment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Heck, even to material items.  As part of my preparations I sold my car today, my beloved 1995 Honda Civic.  I didn’t realize how attached I was to that hunk of scrap metal until it was driving away without me.   For a moment, I was resentful of the fact I had to sell it; I didn’t want to make the sacrifice.  I was consumed by that emotional, angry brooding people experience when life seems ‘unfair.’

Sacrifice at times is a necessary evil.  Human beings don’t like giving up the people or physical items which make us comfortable.  Perhaps the best example of this is when an elderly man or woman loses their spouse, their partner in everything, the person who has been at their side for years and who made life seem possible to endure.  Death is the most harrowing goodbye humans have to deal with, whether if it is a parent, spouse, child, or friend.  We don’t want to deal with it and sometimes we avoid it, a decision that can lead to regret and remorse later on.

Before I get too dismal, the purpose of this post was to discuss how goodbyes can be carried out in such a way that doesn’t make parting so distressing.  Goodbyes can be tactful, eloquent, and even memorable.  A great example to follow (in our everyday lives and for us writers) is in literature.   Here are some of my favorite closing lines from authors who knew how to said ‘adieu’ in ways that were maudlin  without being cheesy, and definitive to the point of lacking any precariousness.

Best Literary Endings

“Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

“For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next. But he would think of something.” — Arthur C. Clark, 2001: A Space Odyssey

“He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.”  –Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the benign indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself—so like a brother, really—I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.  –Albert Camus, The Stranger

“The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky- seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.  – Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

“I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.”  – Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

If I don’t want to post to go on forever, I’m going to stop here.  If you have a favorite literary farewell, I’d love to hear it.

Writers: Masters in the Art of Selfishness

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The solo traveller, the happy traveller.

Oh, I am a bad, bad blogger.  Yes, I’ll admit I’ve been neglecting my blog.  But there is a reason for it.  As I alluded to in my post ‘Finding Time To Read & Write,’ big changes are about to take place — are already taking place in my life.   As many of you may know, momentous life changes tend to disrupt one’s weekly routine.

In approximately 6 weeks, I will be moving to a town in England — specifically the southwest region — called Exeter.  Here I will begin studying towards a Master’s degree in British literature and creative writing.  Though I had been accepted to the program back in November of last year, I only decided not too long ago to enroll at the University of Exeter for my postgraduate degree.   But ever since my mind was made up, there has been much paperwork to complete, accommodation to secure, etc.  Only yesterday I finally sent out my visa application to the British Consulate after weeks of acquiring the proper documentation.  At last, this move — this major life change — feels real.  So why did it take me so long to decide?

Looking back, It’s hard to believe I brooded over this decision for eight months.  I can’t really pinpoint why it took so long; I only recall the elation I experienced on days I was leaning towards going, and the despair on days I had convinced myself this venture was too risky, to expensive…too reckless.   Today, I only wish I had decided sooner — if I had, I probably wouldn’t be scrambling around like mad trying to meet the requirements for a Tier 4 Student Visa.

But now that I definitely am going, this decision feels so right.  I have yearned for a change for quite some time.  A change in environment, lifestyle — the type of all-encompassing change that one can only get from immersion into a new country and culture.  For some people, I understand this urge to make  a drastic life change is lacking ; the thought never arises.  Perhaps it is instead viewed as a ‘disruption’ to one’s ineradicable daily routine.  For me, I know I will not be content with a linear life path — go to college, get married, move to suburbs, have kids, etc.  When I consider these generic life ‘goals’ most people share, I envision a future of such mediocrity that is terrifying enough to disrupt my sleep.

I strongly believe there is no reward without risk, nor is there success without suffering or failure.  These rules hold true for any type of profession, venture, or dream.  I am prepared for this.  And I also have to say that as a writer, one has to be selfish in some regards — one being the demand to experience the delights of the world through one’s own eyes — meaning, alone.  Writing is a solitary practice that must be devoid of disruptions.  Writers are self-involved in this way.  More than once, I have heard remarks from family, friends, and colleagues about my decision to move abroad, things like, “How could you move away from your family?” and “How are you going to survive there?”  I laugh inwardly at these questions mostly because they’re so worried while I, the one going, am not at all.

There was a recent article in the New York Times Magazine entitled “Yes Please, Party of One.”  The author Andrew O’Hagan discusses the bliss of traveling solo as a writer.  He says:

“I believe that traveling alone is the last great test of who you are in a world where everyone aches to be the same.”

Yes, I am going to England to get my Master’s degree, which will probably lead to a PhD, so that I can one day teach British literature at a university in the states.  I am going because I believe a degree in British Literature from a British university as opposed to an American university will hold more weight.  I am going because it is time to do something responsible and get the wheels moving on a career.  I am going because as I mentioned before, risks must be taken to escape the monotony of life.  But above all, I am going  for the reason Mr. O’Hagan has stated above.  In my own words, I am going for self-discovery.

SPOTLIGHT & INTERVIEW: Ava of the Gaia by Grace Nosek

Ava Fae saves the life and steals the affection of the beautiful new boy at her high school, knowing full well that saving his life may mean losing her own.
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Synopsis:

When Ava dances in the rain, nature dances with her—fallen leaves and shimmering petals swirl around her in a tornado of color, as if the Earth is lending out its crown jewels to adorn a favorite princess. Ava belongs to the ancient Order of Gaia—a secret group created by those with superhuman abilities to safeguard the vitality of the natural world. Now, another secret group, the Order of Ares, is methodically hunting down and killing the Gaia.

Isolated from the conflict and lulled by the halcyon setting of her rural Massachusetts town, Ava is content to use her powers to frolic with the local fauna and compel her teachers to recycle, until a new boy wearing the tattoo of the Ares arrives at her high school. With a pair of wickedly slanting cheekbones, a silent hurt in his blue eyes, and the Ares’ ability to control his own and others’ pheromones, Lucas is a one man siren song, pulling Ava inexorably towards him. No hapless schoolgirl to be so easily ensnared, Ava responds to the beautiful boy’s attention with un-tempered ferocity, especially after he appears to casually crush a spider in front of her. But Ava catches Lucas carefully releasing the spider outdoors. Then, after rescuing Lucas from a late night bar fight, she glances up from tending to his wounds to find a look of such trust in his eyes that it leaves her struggling to breathe. Ava must decide: are these moments of intimacy artfully contrived steps in a plan to lure her into betraying her people or can she actually work with Lucas to bring about a rapprochement between the warring orders?

About the Author:

grace-nosek-is-a-published-novelist-and-an-environmental-advocate

Dismayed at literature’s lack of strong female role models, Grace Nosek decided to create her own. Nosek wrote and published the young adult novel Ava of the Gaia, featuring “a strong female lead and an environmental twist.” Her passion for the natural world began at a young age when she would rescue worms and snails from certain death on the sidewalk.

Grace was recently featured in Business Insider as one of the most impressive students at Harvard Law School. In addition to traditional legal advocacy, Grace has created a stop motion film on food waste in America. Grace also works for MTV’s The Buried Life, a show that follows four guys on a mission to tackle their bucket list and encourage others to follow their dreams.  Check her out!

9 Questions for Grace Nosek:

1) Can you describe your book in 30 words or less?

Ava Fae delights in the appearance of an alluring new boy at her high school, until she sees the dagger tattoo on the inside of his wrist. She knows that tattoo, and it can mean only one thing—either she or the new boy will be dead by the end of the school year.

2) Who is your intended audience and why should they read this book?

It always cracked me up as a kid playing boardgames when the boxes would say something like: “for ages 8 to 99.” What happens when you turn 100? I hope that people of all ages can read the book and enjoy it. But I did write it especially with young women in mind.

3) Tell us about the cover art.  Who designed it?  Why did you go with that particular image?

The cover art was done by Sarah Carolan. She’s an amazing graphic designer based out of New York.  I wanted an image that would be simple but evocative and that’s exactly what Sarah created. I also love how colorful the cover is, because as the novel is in many ways an ode to the natural world, color pervades the book.

4) Who is your favorite character from the book and why?

My favorite character is Ava because I’ve been looking for a strong, intelligent, empathetic female protagonist in my YA novels for a long time.  Having found a dearth of such characters, I felt compelled to create my own.  However, some of the animals featured in Ava steal the spotlight from their human counterparts–if you’re an animal lover you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this book.

5)  Of course I’m asking next…who is your least favorite character?  Why is this person less likable?

Hmmm…if I told you that, it might ruin the ending of the novel.  But suffice it to say my least favorite character has a charming facade that hides malice underneath.

6)  What other books/series would you categorize yours with?  In other words, what other books/series are similar to your own?

For me, it’s more useful to compare my protagonist to others.  I think Ava’s physical prowess is similar to Katniss’ from The Hunger Games series.  She also reminds me of many of the women in Tamora Pierce’s novels.  Ava also shares the quick wit and kind heart of one of my personal favorite characters from literature–Hermione Granger.

7) What can we expect from you in the future?

Currently, I’m working on the sequel to Ava, as well as several other creative projects.

8)  How can readers contact you or find out more about your book?

Readers can reach me at genosekauthor@gmail.com.

9)  Lastly, how about a little excerpt to tantalize us?

Still a little breathless from the night’s adventures, and from the smoldering kiss Lucas had left her with before dashing off into the woods, Ava wasn’t paying her usual careful attention to the environment around her.  Just as she was stepping out into the clearing next to her farmhouse, she felt it.  The total silence of the woods.  Someone was there in the clearing with her.  Someone who must be very powerful indeed to have circumvented all of the supernatural protection surrounding the house.  She stepped quickly back into the protection of the woods, mind churning, and focused on the trees around her.  She could channel the power of the great cats to see in the dark and began to intently scan the expanse of forest around her.  Although the night air was cool, sweat dripped steadily down her back.

And then, suddenly, the slightest noise drew Ava’s attention upwards.  A dark shape was dropping quickly, straight down towards her.  Ava’s body hit the ground with a thud, but as she landed she was already trying to roll over on top of the person or thing that had dived down upon her.  Unfortunately the person, for she had discerned that it was indeed a person, just rolled with her.  Ava’s heart beat wildly, adrenaline and the energy of the soil—enhanced here, in her sacred homestead—coursed through her veins.  Her attacker had grabbed her arms while they were rolling, and they were now locked in a deadly and unmoving embrace.  But Ava had the misfortune of being stuck on her back, helpless against the ground.  Ava cursed herself for leaving her hair down—the only feminine trick she had allowed herself to use to attract Lucas—for it was now massed in front of her face, making it impossible for her to see her attacker.

She couldn’t think why the trees weren’t lashing out at this imposter; maybe they were afraid that they might hit Ava instead.  The pressure on Ava’s arms was increasing, and she had no doubt that if she slackened her grip on her attacker that he or she would soon have a death grip on her neck.  Shrieking with rage, she pushed herself slightly off the ground and rolled, slamming her opponent down into the ground as hard as she could.  As she left the ground to do her deadly combat she reached out to the soil, willing that it become as hard as stone, something that would come as a nasty surprise to the attacker when he landed on it.  The move would have left any normal human unconscious, if not dead, but it seemed only to temporarily stun Ava’s dogged attacker.  But it gave her enough time to shake herself loose from the iron grip of her mysterious hit man and to leap backwards into a fighting crouch.  As she leapt, Ava whipped the rubber band off of her wrist, caught her curly hair up into a mass, and looped it into a bun impossibly quickly, knowing that she would be the laughing stock of every Gaia in the world if they had seen her do this.  If she lived through this, Ava promised that she would never let her vanity get in the way of her survival again.

 

Author Contact Details:

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How Does One Find Time to Read & Write?

My natural habitat -- I've missed this!

My natural habitat — I’ve missed this!

I’ll admit it; I’ve been slacking.  My last blog post was published two weeks ago today.  When I started this blog a few months ago, I vowed to write weekly and never break that pattern.  That is, unless some dire emergency transpired — which it hasn’t.  So what’s my problem?

As lame as I feel admitting it, life has gotten in the way of my blogging.  Which still isn’t an excuse at all; I expect more of myself.  I do not work full-time, nor do I have children or any other major responsibilities.  But a lot has been happening in the past two weeks.  My sister’s senior prom, awards ceremony, graduation, other graduation parties, bridal showers, etc.  And to my credit, on top of my two part-time virtual jobs I’m now an on-call nanny which has been taking up  a significant amount of my time.  I will also shamefully admit that last Sunday I was glued to the television set for the final round of the U.S. Open at Merion.  Imagine!  I, who never watch television during the day, sitting for hours in front of the television set watching men’s golf.

Aside from these events, there have been larger life decisions looming over my head lately.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve committed to attending graduate school in the fall.  Not only that but the school is outside the US, and there is a LOT of paperwork to deal with in order to meet visa requirements.  On top of everything else, I feel terribly ill today and am about to take another couple spoonfuls of NyQuil.

My worst nightmare -- being stressed and too busy to read or write!

My worst nightmare — being stressed and too busy to read or write!

Typically, I am concurrently reading a book for pleasure and a book for review purposes.   Lately, I am barely getting my freelance writing assignments completed on time.  But at the same time, I am disappointed in myself for a) missing a week of blogging, and b) not working on my book as often as I used to.

So…. the question I will pose to my blog readers is:  when life gets in the way, how do you stay consistent?  How do you manage to blog and write regularly even when obstacles get in the way and time just won’t allow for it?  And lastly how do you manage to make time to read and write without making a drastic life change, like quitting your job (or one of them)?

I would appreciate advice from anyone out there who reads, reviews books, and writes regularly — meaning authors, book reviewers, students, or anyone with words of wisdom.  Getting in the habit of blogging regularly will be a learning process for me, a process I need to get better acquainted with.

Til next week then, I truly hope.

Review: The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

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I picked this book up by accident while browsing the public library shelves, as I often do.  For me, there are a few words that, if I spot in a novel’s title, will cause me to pounce.  Some of these are: Tudor, Queen, Tower, Henry VIII…you get the idea.  This time, the word ‘Boleyn’ caught my attention.  I am a huge fan of historical fiction, especially those books loosely based on the War of the Roses, House Tudor, or Elizabethan England.  Though after skimming the back blurb of the novel, I was apprehensive on two accounts:

1)  This book was written by an American author.  Typically most historical fiction about the English monarchs I read are written by Phillippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Hilary Mantel or other British author.  That’s not to say an author born and bred outside of England cannot write about the history of England.  I just didn’t expect it.

2)  I almost re-shelved the book upon learning it is not quite historical fiction, but ‘what-if’ historical fiction.  I had never come across one of its kind before, and perhaps they are few and far between.  The events that transpire in this novel are entirely based on the false premise that Anne Boleyn never miscarried Henry VIII’s son (William, in this book).  I thought to myself, how ludicrous!  How absurd to suggest an erroneous historical fact.  How can one presume to rewrite history?  But hey, it isn’t history — it’s historical fiction.  So I checked the book out, and I’m glad I did.

This story (though so far from fact that it is nearly all fiction and no history) had me so enraptured I couldn’t put it down.  The characters are engaging, the plot and multiple subplots enticing, and Laura Andersen’s writing flows in a simple style lacking pretentiousness.  Historical fiction benefits from a direct, to-the-point writing style rather than ornate, flowery prose.  Andersen has succeeded in mastering this.

Synopsis

As I mentioned, this books is based on the premise that Anne Boleyn’s son survived.  This event saved her marriage — and her life.  The novel begins 17 years after the birth of William, the crown prince of England, while Anne acts as queen regent.  Good ol’ Henry VIII is long dead and Anne is older now — old actually, for those times.  The story however is note so much about Anne but four younger individuals and close friends:  William, his older sister Elizabeth, William’s friend Dominic Courtenay, and Elizabeth’s ward Minuette.  Minuette does stand out as a more central character, and the plots revolve around her the most.  The third person narration switches between these four characters to allow readers to see their thoughts, motives, and true feelings towards each other.

At the opening, William is a year away from being crowned King of England.  He becomes more and more aware of the burden of the position, including pressure to marry, the threat of war with France, and dealing with the Catholic Mary and her supporters — some of who may be within William’s own council.  Minuette meanwhile has attracted the attention of not just Dominic but his best friend William.  Yet Will is no longer just Dominic’s friend and Minuette’s playmate but the soon to be King of England — and very much in need of a queen.  Can Minuette defy him once he is crowned ruler of England?  Where does her loyalty life?  And what of Elizabeth and her beloved Robert Dudley?  Scandals, romance, and murder ensues.

Conclusion

Hypothetical situation or not, this story kept me interested.  I will be reading the sequel The Boleyn Deceit when it comes out this fall 2013.  If you enjoy historical fiction or if you are obsessed with the scandals of the Tudor Court, I highly suggest checking out this book.

Download it on Amazon today!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: The Chosen by Andrea Buginsky

The Chosen

New Edition!

The Chosen Cover Final

Expanded to include even more action, romance, and adventure!

The Chosen has been revised and expanded to give it a more polished look. You’ll love all of the new additions, including:

  • Two new characters essential to The Chosen
  • A light romance story
  • More action scenes

All of this topped off with a beautiful brand new cover.

About the Book:

Halli is a shy, young dwarf who has no idea of her true calling. When the evil Prince Gastle sets out to detroy the world of Phantasma, Queen Laurali of the Elves comes to tell Halli she’s a Holy Paladin with the power to heal, and will join The Chosen, a group of brave warriors being sent to defeat the evil beast and save Phantasma. Will Halli be accepted by her group, and be able to keep them alive through their adventures? Will the evil Prince Gastle be defeated, freeing Phantasma from his destruction? Only time will tell.

Excerpt:

“Halli, you have a wonderful calling.  You are a Holy Paladin, with powers that can heal the sick, and even raise the dead in certain cases.  Holy Paladins are very rare, and very coveted.  To protect you, we agreed to come to Drumple to live with the other dwarves, so we could blend in, and appear to be no different than them.  We all planned on telling you of your calling when you were done with school, but as Queen Laurali has said, Prince Gastle’s attacks have made the day we tell you come sooner than we anticipated.”

Halli sat staring at her mother as she heard the tale.  She knew all about The Castle of the Elves, it’s subjects, Priestesses and Holy Paladins from her studies and readings.  She grew up hearing stories about them all.  She absorbed everything she could find and read about them.  It was as though somewhere inside her, she knew she was a part of it all.  But hearing what her mother was telling her was surreal.  She started to shake her head.

“This can’t be,” she whispered.  “You can’t be serious.  How can I possibly be what you say I am?  You know me, Mom.  I’m not strong and powerful.  I’m shy, I’m quiet, I like to be alone and not surrounded by a lot of people.  I have problems facing confrontations, and do everything I can to avoid them.”

Queen Laurali smiled at Halli’s description of herself.

“Halli, everything you just said are the classic traits of Holy Paladins, from a certain point of view.  They don’t get involved in conflicts themselves, but rather keep those that are involved alive from a distance.  They don’t get directly involved in confrontations and arguments.  They think things through and come up with solutions that will work for everyone.  In essence, they keep the peace within the groups with which they’re involved.  From a distance, this can make them seem quiet and shy, but anyone who knows them knows it is their quiet ways that keep this peace.”

Halli stared at Queen Laurali as she listened to her, and again began to shake her head.

“I don’t think that’s how I am.  I am shy, I do avoid confrontation.  And even if what you’re saying is true, how can I possibly do anything to help the fight against Prince Gastle?  I’m just a student!”

“Halli, this is your destiny,” Queen Laurali assured her.  “This is what you’re meant to do.  I know it’s a shock to hear all of this, but it’s your birthright.”

The Chosen is available at Amazon and Smashwords

About the Author:

My HeadshotAndrea Buginsky is a freelance writer and author. “The Chosen” was her first book, and was followed by “My Open Heart,” an autobiography about growing up with heart disease. “Nature’s Unbalance” is the second story in THE CHOSEN series. Andrea plans to write more in the series. She’s already done with the first draft of book 3 and has a concept for book 4. You can find Andrea on her website, Andi’s Realm. Her books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Remember to sign up for Andrea’s newsletter to stay up-to-date on all of her exciting events.

 

 

 

BLOG TOUR: Spotlight, Review and Giveaway with Lawrence Fisher

“Kill Me Now!” is a book about Lawrence, a man in his late 40s, dodging bullets deep in the dating battlefield while searching for THE ONE, his soulmate, not Neo from the Matrix.

Kill me now

Synopsis:

Kill Me Now! is about Lawrence, a man in his late 40s dodging bullets deep in the dating battlefield while searching for the ONE. In Kill Me Now! Lawrence tries to decode the signals of his enigmatic opponent, often resulting in his hasty retreat. Why is she resting her head on her hand?

Is she bored? Or is she interested? He finds himself in many humorous situations where he has no idea what he is doing and no idea how to maneuver through the skirmish. Trapped in the epicenter of the courting conflict, the motivating thought that sustains him is his strong belief that somewhere out there, she awaits. Join Lawrence as he painfully stumbles through the mating minefield in search for his SOULMATE while silently wishing that he was elsewhere. Be warned, you will laugh!

Excerpt:

February 2: A Steep Learning Curve

No date again, woe is me! How many of us have sat at home wondering why we don’t have a date? How many of us have gone to a bar to look for a girl, found someone interesting and just froze? What should we say to her? What is a good pick up line? Questions, questions, questions! Help!

Those of us who know how to use the internet instinctively say, “Google it!” In the search tab, you type in, “how to pick up girls” and hope for the best. You then receive a plethora of websites offering you information from the best of the best. THE experts! Or so you assume. One site says there are plenty of people who are good at picking up girls, but cannot explain their art. If they cannot explain, then what good are they to us? Do they describe which girls are they trying to pick up? What kind of girls were these, real or imaginary?

One night, I decided to try a line from one of those websites. Me, myself and I, the holy trio, decided to go to a bar. A stunning brunette caught my attention as she eyed the crowd. Somehow she managed to avoid eye contact with me. I walked up to the lady, took out my iPhone, and hoped it impressed her.

I read off my iPhone, “Baby, I’m no Fred Flintstone but I can make your Bedrock.” OK, I agree with you. That is a lame line.

She leaned toward me seductively and said, “Go Google again!” Was she being rude to me or not? I still have no idea. I think she had learned the true art of diplomacy, which is the ability to tell someone to go to hell so that he actually looks forward to the trip.

It is very important to make a good first impression. The first impression is vital. It is difficult to correct a bad first impression. Oh, the pressure, the pressure. There is only one chance to do it right!

Going up to a girl at a bar saying, “What is a girl like you doing in a place like this?” will probably earn you a smirk. Not only is the line antiquated, but it seems to work only in the movies, and sometimes not even there. The only time I tried that line, the girl said it was her bar and that I should not refer to it as “such a place”.

Oh, what should I do? What should I do?

The internet provides contradicting information. What’s new? When we search for something in our field of expertise, we understand whether it sounds right or not. But if our understanding is close to zero, how can we define what is right and what is not?

Somehow I need to hone my non-existent skills. Somehow I need more practice. Somehow I need experienced friends.

Looking at my friends and hearing their stories, I wonder, does experience really help?

Oh, crap! Kill me now!

Review:   owl-book-hiowl-book-hiowl-book-hiowl-book-hi 

When I started reading this book, I hadn’t read any background about the author.  After a few chapters of laughing over Lawrence’s dating woes, I assumed he was an American.  Hearing similar stories  (if not articulated with the hilarity Fisher possesses) of dating nightmares from friends all living nearby in small town New Jersey, I simply assumed Lawrence must live — well, around the corner.  Because how could dating be as onerous and terrible in other parts of the world?

Well, I was shocked when I checked out Fisher’s website and saw that he lived not in America–not even in Canada, but in Israel!  What?  I couldn’t believe it.  But perhaps that’s my own ignorance, my belief in the erroneous notion that life is better somewhere else.  If anything, Lawrence Fisher has taught me that is not true, and no matter where you live in the world, entering the dating world single and middle-aged is tough, tiring, and shockingly hurtful at times.

But it’s not all terrible.  Fisher has managed to transform his humiliating, arduous experiences into something positive.  A book, that is nothing short of laugh-out-loud moments and overall amusement in which Lawrence takes us through horrifying encounter after encounter with women all over his country ranging from the ugly to the insane to the just plain rude.

It’s hard not to feel Fisher’s pain and suffering through his experiences, but his determination is endearing and should inspire any single middle-aged men in his situation, which I expect is more people than I can imagine.  I found it particularly easy to connect to Fisher after reading his introduction, which explains what events had unfolded in his life to trigger him to suck it up and start searching for his soul mate.  After all, nobody wants to grow old all alone.

In conclusion, I truly believe this book could be picked up and enjoyed by just about anyone.  If you are looking especially for a comedic read, buy a copy of Kill Me Now and laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of Fisher’s dating experiences as I did.  Bravo, Lawrence Fisher, for sharing what other people are too embarrassed to.

About the Author:

LawrenceLawrence has been out on countless dates in search of his soulmate. Like most people he has found himself in many strange situations. However, he found that he could see the humor in each situation. Lawrence is a single guy in his late 40s. He has worked in computers and education for about 25 years and also holds a personal fitness trainer certification. He currently lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. Lawrence Fisher spends his days writing software tutorials and his nights in the endless search for the ONE. Will he find her? Or will there be book two out?

Author Contact Details:

website_buttonhttp://KillMeNow.org

Facebookhttp://facebook.com/KMNow

twitterhttp://twitter.com/lbigfoot

goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15712738-kill-me-now

amazon-buttonhttp://goo.gl/i3clZ

giveaway

Lawrence is giving away two copies of Kill Me Now on his blog tour!  Click on ‘Giveaway’ above to enter!
 
 

4 Literature-Inspired Trips

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about reading, writing, and traveling and how these three passions of mine are linked.

Sometime last year, I decided I wanted to spend a significant amount of time for the rest of my life writing.  This awareness coincided with the understanding that most (if not all) of the destinations I choose to visit while traveling are influenced by something I’ve read.

The fact is, certain books (whether fiction or non) influence me and my cognitive process to a great magnitude.  So great in fact that what I read inadvertently predicts where I travel.  This was not a terrible realization by any means; I’ve visited a great many cities because of my curiosity to see and experience either a) where the author wrote a book and how their surroundings inspired them or  b) a landmark or location where much of the story takes place.

Here are 4 literature-inspired trips I’ve taken so far:

Oxford

Eagle & Child

eagle and child

tolkien

This is the old pub where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis among other literary geniuses called ‘The Inklings’ met and discussed their writing.  A special room called ‘The Rabbit Room’ has a shrine dedicated to Tolkien and Lewis who were among the most famous writers to spend their after-teaching hours drinking a pint in this historical pub.  Heck, if I lived in Oxford I would write here in the hopes of feeding off the creative energy. Inspiration: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings.

Oxford Botanical Gardens

oxford tree

oxford tree2

You’ve probably noticed I am a huge Tolkien nerd.  If not, take a look at this photograph of me sitting underneath Tolkien’s favorite tree in Oxford. He used to grade his student’s papers here, and it’s in this very spot that he thought of the first line of The Hobbit: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

Oxford University

ocford campus 2

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I’m sure an array of books and films have been inspired by Oxford’s ancient and mystifying campus.  The dining halls were certainly used in filming some of the Potter films.

London

Ebenezer Scrooge House
 door knocker

I spent this past Christmas in London; it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.  On Christmas Day along with a staggering amount of European tourists, my mother, sister and I went on the Charles Dickens Christmas Carol walking tour.  I was fascinated as the overly informative tour guide pointed out all of the locations where Dickens grew up and some of his inspirations.  One of these spots was the door knocker which supposedly inspired the scene in A Christmas Carol where Jacob Marley’s head comes to life and frightens the living daylights out of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Peter Pan Statue

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J.M. Barrie’s famous children’s book was one of my favorites growing up.  The same weekend I visited Oxford back in college, I made a point to stop in Hyde Park first to catch a glimpse.  Inspiration: Peter Pan.

Tower of London
exeution

During my Oxford weekend excursion I took the Tube to the Tower of London, only to realize I didn’t have enough time to go inside before my bus departed.  I endured the crowds this past Christmas if only to visit the execution site of Lady Jane Grey and Anne Boleyn, among many others.  Inspiration:  Innocent Traitor by Alison Weird and The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.

Edinburgh

The Elephant House

elephant house

rowlings view 2

Name look familiar?

Name look familiar?

This is the coffee shop where J.K. Rowling wrote much of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  There’s plenty of Harry Poter memorabilia inside, as well as a view of Edinburgh Castle (an inspiration for Hogwarts) and a graveyard.  In Scotland, graveyards are way cooler than in the states.  Rowling must have strolled through this particular graveyard more than once; she borrowed many of the character’s names in Harry Potter from these very gravestones.

Rome

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Two years ago, I spent Thanksgiving in Rome.  It was an enchanting city, and I was only sorry I hadn’t visited back when I was studying abroad in Amsterdam.  I’ve always had an interest in the history of the Roman Empire when Rome was at its most powerful.  After reading Rome by Robert Hughes, I knew I had to go and see the ruins for myself.

A few book-inspired trips I’d like to make in the future:

  • Alexandria, Egypt.  I’m a bit obsessed with Cleopatra and have read several of her biographies.
  • Savannah Georgia.  Ever since I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I’ve wanted to visit the Mercer House.
  • Chatsworth.  This is one of the many stately English castles I want to tour.  It’s also where Mary Queen of Scots was held captive by Bess of Hardwick and the Earl of Shrewsbury.  Fun fact:  Chatsworth is Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley estate in the A&E version of Pride & Prejudice.
  • Brontë Parsonage Museum.  Former of the Brontë sisters in West Yorkshire and where most of their literary masterpieces were written.
  • Jane Austen’s House Museum.  Also known as Chawton Cottage, this is where Jane Austen spent the last 8 years of her life writing Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion.

BLOG TOUR: Spotlight on Author T.G. Ayer

T.G. Ayer is the author of several paranormal novels including the The Valkyrie Series.  Skin Deep is Book One in The Dark World Novels, her new series.

SD23

About The Novel:

Title: SKIN DEEP

Series: The DARKWORLD Series

Volume: 1

Genre: Urban Fantasy – NA

Publication Date: 30th APRIL 2013

Format E-Book : B00CKGOKY4 http://amzn.to/Yi5rg4

Format: Paperback

ISBN-13:  978-1484836705 http://amzn.to/18sBHPs

Publisher: Infinite Ink

Pages: 390

Add on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13604857-skin-deep 

Synopsis:

Panther Shape-shifter Kailin Odel just wants to be normal. Leaving her clan, and her Alpha responsibilities, to live with her grandmother in Chicago had been the best thing for her. Only then did she discover her ability to track and kill the soul sucking undead creatures called Wraiths. Now she protected the humans, and had something to be proud of.

But, when she discovers the body of a murdered shape shifter, Kailin has to come to terms with the reality that her own kind are just as vulnerable as the humans.

The closer Kailin gets to the killer the more she has to face the intricacies of her people. When the time comes can she accept who and what her real purpose is?

Excerpt:

Icy pain sliced through my bones, the muscles of my arms, and the flesh of my back. My spine and thighs rippled, shifted. Changing.

Damn. Too fast.

I spared a rueful glance at my new leather pants. And ran faster.

Had to make it to the Rehab Center a few blocks away. I ran, my speed super-human, my need super-charged, covering ground fast enough to make it to safety before my Panther took over.

I took the corner of the street behind the Center at breakneck speed, and headed for the nearest of the gaping holes pockmarking the rusted fence.

The wind changed before I stepped off the curb. My ears peaked and I skidded to a halt, panting slightly, my backpack thumping against my side. The scream of tires on blacktop echoed on the night air, shattering the silence as it grew ever louder.

Closer.

Followed in tandem by the whining wail of sirens. A battered sedan scorched down the street, suspended on the turn on only two wheels. The angry whip of charred rubber spiked the air. Horizontal again, the car jumped the curb and skidded sideways, avoiding a collision with the fence by mere inches.

I shrank into the shadows at my back, expelling a long, stale breath. My Panther, still confined within my body, bucked and jerked, craving release.

I let her surface.

A little.

For now, super-sight would be welcome. Unlike the ability to run like the wind while still in my Human skin, tapping into my Panther’s sight required a partial transformation—a risk I needed to take as my gut screamed danger.

Adrenalin surged, different again from the calm fervor of my wraith hunts. I blinked. Heat nipped at my corneas as I released my Panther sight—enough to give my eyes feline vision.

Sight, which sliced deep into the black nothing hugging the sidewalk, transformed my eyes into a solid Panther emerald. For the moment, plain old Kailin Odel was back to being Kailin of the Clan Panthera.

My cat sight adjusted, focused. The blackness surrounding the darkened vehicle changed depth and color, became lighter, clearer.

Someone shoved the rear door open, and I cringed as it creaked and complained. The occupants remained shrouded in the shadows of the vehicle’s interior. Something large, long and heavy hit the ground with a dull thunk. Then the sedan revved as unseen sirens drew closer, louder, and it spun around and skidded off the curb.

The battered car roared off, a police cruiser close on its tail with sirens screaming blue murder. It didn’t take a genius to figure out the parcel had to be awfully incriminating, for them to chuck it into the garden in such a flaming hurry.

My nostrils twitched at the stench of exhaust smoke, and my heart thumped as I waited to cross the street. I flicked a furtive glance at the dull red glow of taillights disappearing into the darkness. A breeze skimmed the sidewalk, ruffling my hair, and I hurried across the street as the sounds of sirens faded in the distance. I paused a few meters from the bundle, released my Panther’s nose and sniffed. Whatever I’d expected to scent on the air, it wasn’t the tang of copper drifting toward me—strong, rich and intoxicating.

Blood. Fresh blood. A luscious odor, laced with tendrils of the familiar.

I moved closer, my mind warring with my emotions. This was no bundle of rags, or some stolen junk those thugs had thrown away, but a living being. The blood surely meant the person now lying on the sidewalk needed medical attention.

I stood over the bundle, the cloying odor of the blood filling my nostrils, and hesitated in a moment of doubt and fear.

Now or never.

I took a deep breath and crouched beside the silent form. My hand quivered as I reached out and touched the scratchy, ragged fabric covering the shoulder of the silent figure. At first it resisted my tug, stiff against my touch, but one more gentle urging turned him toward me.

I gasped, my throat closing on the sound. My heel caught as I pulled away, and I staggered backward as hot horror burned through my veins. The face glistened, bloody and mangled. Raw muscles and ligaments lay exposed, bare. A low moan of horror echoed around me. Chills streaked up my spine when I realized the stricken sound had originated from my own throat. The familiar richness of him clouded my mind, clogging my throat and drugging my senses.

A Skinwalker.

My throat spasmed, silencing a shriek as he stared at me. His breath whispered—shallow, irregular, the sound ragged as he labored in his final moments. He gripped with desperation to the disappearing threads which held him to this mortal earth.

His face held my gaze, and somewhere behind ribs of ice my heart clenched, threatening to implode. My own face stared back at me, reflected from within eyes as blue as oceans. Eyes filled with excruciating pain and desperate fear. He didn’t speak, just studied me for a few moments with those glorious eyes.

Recognition. Gratitude. Relief.

Then… release.

Life flickered and sputtered out of his beautiful eyes—eyes unable to close even after his soul departed his mortal body. Eyes stark and ghastly within a face flayed of every inch of its skin.

Mere seconds had passed, although I would have sworn it had been hours. Screeching tires again interrupted my horror, and the sedan skidded beside me before I could do much more than scramble away from the body. The killers had managed to lose the cops, and now they’d returned to retrieve the body.

They hadn’t bargained on having a witness.

The cold-cocking of guns set my body on fire.

It also did something worse. With mortal fear gripping me, my imminent Change refused to take second place anymore. My body churned the fear and my Panther grasped at the visceral power of the adrenalin in my veins.

I ran.

A gunshot echoed around the garden, the sound ping-ponging off the aging brick walls of the surrounding apartment buildings.

I gasped as a blast of searing pain slammed into me, as a bullet buried itself deep within my shoulder.

About The Author:

tee ayer

I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognise that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practise given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each other’s loves – it works wonderfully…

My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain cross-eyed.

Author Contact Details:

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tgayer@xtra.co.nz

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