Two Books for The New Year

The Siege of Mr Kahn’s Curry Shop – by Charlie Robinson

“How do you live a life when you don’t have a past? I need to know – for me.”

I was already familiar with Charlie Robinson’s storytelling, thoroughly enjoying his sense of humour and witty writing style on his blog. I already knew he was working on his first novel – two decades in the making, as he put it. Then, once I saw the cover, the title and the synopsis, I instantly wanted to read The Siege of Mr Kahn’s Curry Shop as I had a feeling it wouldn’t disappoint.

“This is life – sometimes we make a success of things and sometimes we don’t. More often than not, we don’t, but we carry on and we need to carry on without bearing a grudge.”

Well, I was right. I may have mentioned this before, I don’t particularly enjoy writing reviews. But I will occasionally share about fellow authors from our little WP community, writers whose work I appreciate.

“He felt afraid for the first time in his life and he guessed what it could be. He was afraid that now he had her, he could lose her.”

There is a sense of honesty and realism to Charlie Robinson’s writing which, together with all the twists and turns of the plot, makes you not want to put down the book. A person can be the hero and the villain at the same time, depending on the chosen perspective, young Billy Lynch will learn to accept. Complex characters gradually reveal layers to their personality and the circumstances behind their actions and development. Whether their image changes for the better or for the worse, none of them is one-dimensional or boring.

“She hadn’t experienced this before: the fights, the never-ending confrontations between Lard and himself, the racist and homophobic violence in town on Saturday nights. He hadn’t allowed her to see his struggle, trying to bring some decency to it all. He was expecting her to have the same philosophy as he had.”

In many ways, this is a coming of age story, and many readers (such as myself) might find it relatable, even if they reached their maturity in a different decade and/or place. It’s also a good reminder that many aspects of our society – which we now take for granted – were very-very different until not that long ago.

“Billy Lynch was responsible for every bad thing that had ever happened to him.”

As I don’t want to give away any interesting plot details of Billy Lynch’s adventure, I will only add that it’s worth giving this book a chance and I’ll leave you with the author’s synopsis.

Thank you for an interesting, entertaining read, Charlie. Keep on writing! One question, though… will there be a sequel? (Hoping for a positive answer… 🙂 )

 “We can let the past rule us, or we can look to the future.”

Author’s Synopsis

Bradford in 1974.
Billy Lynch wants a better life. He also wants the truth.
Why did his father leave fourteen years ago?
Where did he go?
Why is the local drug dealer supporting a National Front march?
Does the stunning Auntie Riya really have the answers, can Billy trust her?
Billy’s love for Mr Khan’s daughter, Alina is discovered by the local skinhead leader, Lard.
This sparks a chain of disastrous events and Billy is drawn back into a past he was trying to escape. The consequences of one kiss, mean nothing will ever be the same again.

 

Just Before Sunrise – by Carol Balawyder

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again – every book by Carol Balawyder that I’ve read was a treat. Just Before Sunrise, her most recent crime novel, was no exception. The fact that it took me so long to share about it reflects poorly on my time management skills, not on the book’s merits.

“When the person you love the most in the world dies, your heart breaks from loneliness. Nothing can take away that kind of lonely.”

Regardless of the genre she chooses, Carol Balawyder is a fine observer and analyst of human nature, creating deep, complex characters struggling with life’s adversities and difficult choices. Just Before Sunrise is no exception, the compelling flow of the novel enthralling the reader.

“What it often comes down to is that these women are afraid of having to face their loneliness. They prefer to put up with the hurt and betrayal than have to live alone.”

It’s not easy to write a gripping crime story when revealing early on “who dunnit”, but Carol manages it beautifully. It’s not only about murder. It’s about everyone involved directly and indirectly – a colourful, unexpected mix of characters – about what makes them who they are, their history, traumas, hopes and feelings. So if you enjoy a good crime story, Just Before Sunrise is a captivating novel worth considering.

Author’s Synopsis

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.

But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.

She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next door, who has a seriously dark side. She is drawn into his murderous schemes, doing anything he asks her to, risking her own safety for the promise of a future with him. When she finds herself party to murder, and she realises he is more concerned with his older female accomplice than with her, she must learn to trust her instincts and use all of her courage to get out of their trap alive.

As a subplot there is the rocky romantic relationship between an older woman and a younger man who become involved in investigating the murder for which young Maya is accused of committing.

Just Before Sunrise is a story about loss and survival. About loneliness, betrayals and deadly desires.

December Gifts

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A blogging anniversary notification from WP, that’s yet another sign that Christmas and the end of the year are near. Thank you for sharing sharing yet another year with me, for letting me be a part of your lives and for teaching me so much about appreciation and kindness, simply by opening up and telling your stories.

My small “thank you” gift to you is the same as every year since I started this blogging journey – electronic stocking stuffers, my ebooks.

If you want a copy of Parallel LivesGlass Slippers and Stilettos, Albatross or Frames, or  perhaps you’d like to offer them to someone who might enjoy them, use the following links:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1053416

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/822554

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/645454

Feel free to download/offer as many copies as you like!

Happy reading and Happy Holidays!

Self-Publishing Choices and Giveaways

One thing I appreciate as a self-published author is to have complete control over book pricing. This is why I enjoy the freedom provided by smashwords.com – aside from their yearly promotional sales, authors can create coupons, let the readers choose the book price or even give away their books for free for as long they want, including on the affiliates’ sites (like B&N or Kobo).

December 1st marks my latest book’s publishing date on Smashwords.com (and their affiliates). But I’m running a presale until then, so all you have to do is click on the link, use the coupon code and download Frames for free! In case you found the sample fragments interesting, but you didn’t have a chance to purchase the book on Amazon, don’t hesitate to take advantage of this small gift of mine – you can have as many copies as you want and even offer the book as a gift to those you think might enjoy it! Furthermore, the presale makes it available to you immediately, you don’t have to wait until December 1st! Happy reading!

Coupon code: XF37B

 

 

Smashwords – Frames – a book by Ana Linden

What does one do when life comes to a hopeless standstill and the desired fresh start is not what it seems? Four enthralling, emotional short stories capture diverse characters who are stuck, desperately searching either for a new beginning or for an end to their misery. Opportunity presents itself under the unexpected guise of theft, murder and suicide intertwined with love, friendship and generosity. In need of purpose, as well as affection and passion, they are torn between their conflicting desires and moral values, often finding solace and support in unexpected, shocking situations and people. Can an assassin love? Is one’s death someone else’s fortune? Should outcasts dare to dream of a better future and should the past be put behind? These are merely a few of the questions tormenting them, pushing them to honestly acknowledge and assess their needs and their existence.

November Gift

I’ll keep this short and sweet.

If you enjoyed the fragments from my latest book, Frames,  if you think it might be an interesting read for  you or someone you know, visit my Amazon page and purchase as many copy copies as you like. The e-book version is FREE today!

Happy reading!

Frames – A Fulfilling Review

A glowing review is a delight for any author. But receiving such a review from a writer you admire is a priceless treat. Thank you for your beautiful words, Carol!

I’ve always liked Ana Linden’s books. She’s very good at getting inside her characters’ heads.

Frames consists of four short character driven stories. These are not ordinary characters and through their flaws Ana Linden gives us insight into relationships and human nature.

The subjects of her stories range from the damaged educational system, the cruelty of abuse, loneliness, losers and guilt.

[…]

Linden’s writing is not ordinary. She is unafraid to show the rawness of human nature in a unique literary voice. She is an artist using words as her medium. It is reflective writing.  The stories in Frames are the kind that you want to savor and allow the beauty of the writing sink in. There is no sermonizing in these stories and we understand what is not being said. This makes for quite satisfying reading.

(Carol Balawyder)

Visit Carol Balawyder’s site for the full review of Frames and if you have a moment to spare, check out her books as well. She is such a gifted writer!

Warning Signs – A Gripping Psychological Thriller by Carol Balawyder

Warning Signs, Carol Balawyder’s first psychological crime novel will pull you in from the first page. Nowhere near the typical whodunit, it provides a compelling, complex image of the emotional process behind becoming a serial killer, the struggles tormenting such an individual, and their social and amorous interactions.

Thorough psychological research and her background as a criminologist provide the author with a strong foundation on which to build realistic characters and trace the effects of their damaging history and dysfunctional relationships. Brilliant in their own ways, the killer, the woman who loves him and the detective trying to stop him are inevitably drawn to each other in a fashion dictated by their obsession, trauma, guilt, loneliness, loss and despair.

“I’ve worked on so many cases where there’s a history of a violent parent. There always seems to be. Mothers abandoning them. That alone can stir a lot of anger in a kid. If he’s not allowed to express his anger, it’s going to get directed at someone else. I have yet to work on a case where there isn’t some kind of abuse in the family,”
Balawyder, Carol. Warning Signs: A Story About Obsession

Continue reading “Warning Signs – A Gripping Psychological Thriller by Carol Balawyder”

“Frames” – How It Came to Be

I had been looking forward to that getaway for months – a trip I wasn’t sure would materialize – and as I was driving that early morning, it was finally beginning to feel real. It was real. That patch of beautiful wild flowers featured in my title story, Frames… well, it was also real. Everything else is fiction, but the flowers were real, an out of place wonder covering a mound of dirt in an otherwise prosaic field by the freeway.

Some images stay with you… their impact makes you want to find out the story behind them or at least create one such story. By the time I reached my destination, a rough outline of a nameless story had already taken shape in my mind. But I had recently finished Albatross and needed a bit of a writing break, so I knew it was a story for another time.

A shot would easily take that patch of flowers out of its natural context and create an entirely different reality for the unknowing observer in another context. It could suddenly be a dreamy field of wild flowers instead of some wild flowers on top of dirt by the freeway. Reality reframed or just one frame of a bigger, more complex reality? The answer is a personal subjective choice.

Coincidentally, I took some poppy shots the other day. What an unexpected find, I thought to myself, blooming poppies in the wind, with the beach, a calm sea and a blue sky on the background. Some of you also liked the one I already posted. All sorts of positive words come to mind when thinking of those shots, especially considering the recent lockdown months. But… but what you don’t see in any of those photos, what I carefully avoided to include in any of those frames is the large pile of rubbish only a few steps away from those beautiful flowers. Thinking back, perhaps I should have included it, but I was too taken by the angle excluding it.

My point is, we go about doing this in many, if not all, aspects of our lives. We like to think we see the full picture, we have the full truth, when in fact we only have instances, a few frames on which we choose or are forced to build our judgement, conclusions and decisions. Sometimes we get it right, even by mistake… other times we ignore the background, we find a way to exclude the ugliness from the picture in order not to have to deal with it.

The same happens to my characters. They’re neither picture-perfect, nor horrid, but they might appear to be either one or the other, depending on the moment one interacts with them. But once the angle becomes wider and the background less blurry, does their behaviour become understandable and acceptable? That, too, is a personal, subjective choice…

Frames

Here I am, once more… I mentioned working on a new book, as some of you might recall, but I didn’t dwell on it. Well, in spite of various changes and challenges, I can now relax and enjoy, because I managed to stick with the schedule and it’s finally ready!

In case you noticed that countdown on my site and wondered about it, that’s what it’s about. Frames, my new book, is already available for pre-orders on Amazon and it will be published on May 15th. That’s also when the printed version will become available (click on the image).

Maudlin as it may sound, before I go on and tell you what the book is all about, I’d like to thank you for your support and encouraging words over the years, ever since I’ve started this blog. As many of you know from your own writing experience, this sort of warm, inspiring and supportive blogging community means a lot to an indie author.

I know it’s customary to do a cover reveal first, to create all sorts of buzz about the book, building suspense before the big publishing day. All’s well and good in theory, but promoting the book – relevant as that may be – is the part of self-publishing I loathe. So there I go again, revealing everything at once.

I’ve put together four stories this time, not exactly short ones, but no novellas either. Hopefully the common denominators will become clear as you read them, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. All I can say is, once they took shape in my mind, I couldn’t separate these stories.

What does one do when life comes to a hopeless standstill and the desired fresh start is not what it seems? Four enthralling, emotional short stories capture diverse characters who are stuck, desperately searching either for a new beginning or for an end to their misery. Opportunity presents itself under the unexpected guise of theft, murder and suicide intertwined with love, friendship and generosity. In need of purpose, as well as affection and passion, they are torn between their conflicting desires and moral values, often finding solace and support in unexpected, shocking situations and people. Can an assassin love? Is one’s death someone else’s fortune? Should outcasts dare to dream of a better future and should the past be put behind? These are merely a few of the questions tormenting them, pushing them to honestly acknowledge and assess their needs and their existence.

I’ll stop here, in an attempt to keep it short and sweet. I’ll explain my choice of title and I’ll share excerpts from each story over the following days. Hopefully, you’ll find them enjoyable.

Back In The Game

… the writing game, that is.

I know, I know, ‘tis the season, but I’m not the New Year’s resolutions kind of person, so this endeavour doesn’t fall under that category. As it happens, this January is simply a good time to start focusing on my writing again.

I’ve made plans for it in 2019. I’ve written an outline. I even have a title and a book cover in mind. I’ve already started to work on the project and paused over the holidays. But come January, I would start writing again, I told myself. I set a deadline for myself and I estimated how much and how often I could write, barring unexpected circumstances. Well, we all know we can always count on the unexpected to take place; and I don’t want to force myself into writing more than I feel I can handle or to dedicate all my spare time to it; but it’s good to have a plan, that works for me.

Continue reading “Back In The Game”