Acclaimed Authors, Jenny Twist and Tara Fox Hall, Release New Anthology

This week I am delighted to welcome back again authors Jenny Twist and Tara Fox Hall telling us a little more about their highly successful writing careers. Welcome back to both of you, and thank you, once more, for being my guests.
Guest Blogger Jenny Twist's image on Amelia Curzon's Blog - Curzon

Tara Fox Hall and Jenny Twist launched their anthology of speculative fiction, Bedtime Shadows, on the 24th September. The book has already received high praise from other authors and is said to rival the short stories of  M. R. James, Philip K Dick and even Stephen King.

The two writers became friends when they both contributed to the highly acclaimed anthology, Spellbound 2011, issued by Melange Books in October last year.

“I was so proud to be in that anthology,” says Jenny, whose own anthology, Take One At Bedtime, was chosen as Editor’s Pick when it came out in April of the same year. “I thought every single one of the stories in it was interesting and well-written and the authors were all such fun to work with.”

“I was excited to make the jump from short horror stories to longer works,” added Tara, whose flash fiction and short Guest Blogger Tara Fox Hall's image on Amelia Curzon's blog - Curzonstories have appeared on-line at Deadman’s Tome, Flashes in the Dark, Ghastly Door, The Halloween Alliance, Black Petals, SNM Horror Magazine, Dark Eclipse, Cemetery Moon, The Copperfield Review, and Microhorror. “I’d just published my first paranormal romance e-novella, and was anxious to be in a print book. Spellbound 2011 introduced me to some wonderful authors, some of whom have become very good friends.”

The two writers could not have come from more different backgrounds. Jenny was born in England and worked at many different jobs including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant before returning to full-time education at the age of 28 and doing 2 history degrees at Manchester and Oxford. Eleven years ago she retired to Spain. “I feel like I’m finally getting on with my real life,” she says. “I always wanted to write and now I’m finally doing it!”

Tara was born in the United States, earned her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with a double minor in science at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and is currently an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop. In addition to speculative fiction, Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include non-fiction  action-adventure, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. “I love that my stories resonate with people,” she says. “That they can lose themselves in my stories means I’ve done my job.”

Bedtime Shadows by Jenny Twist and Tara Fox Hall - Book cover“We chose Bedtime Shadows as the title,” Jenny says, “to reflect my anthology, Take One At Bedtime and Tara’s Just Shadows. We are very proud to have an introduction by the illustrious horror writer, T. Fox Dunham (no relation to Tara) and we have been very lucky to have some excellent authors give us advance reviews.”

The book is a mixture of horror, speculative fiction and romance – stories of ghosts and vampires, future dystopias, travel through different dimensions, a holiday romance that changes everything, and a new twist on an ancient myth.

Here is what other authors have to say about it.

“I recommend this collection without any reservations” – Herbert Grosshans.

“Together these two authors will strap you to your chair and lock your attention to the magic they weave.” – Su Halfwerk

They know how to write stories that entertain and involve their readers. Someday I think we may identify them with authors like Shirley Jackson, Stephen King and HP Lovecraft.” – John Mecom

“This literary progeny of authors Jenny Twist and Tara Fox Hall was a joy to read for a couple of reasons. There’s a nice variety of stories ranging from dramatic to speculative to downright gruesome.” – Mysti Parker

Daily-living captured and stylistically rendered with a ‘twist’ of macabre lurking behind each provocative tale…BEDTIME SHADOWS delivers a punch — watch out for the unexpected.”
~ Douglas Wickard 

BOOK BLURB

The Man With No Face Jenny Twist

All her life Deborah has been haunted by the memory of a couple locked in a deadly embrace. She thinks the woman may be the mother that abandoned her but she cannot see the man’s face. Who is he?

All That Remains – Tara Fox Hall

This thrilling sequel to The Origin of Fear (Spellbound 2011) takes us back to Latham’s Landing. Will Tina and Sandra survive their encounter with the ghosts that inhabit the haunted isle?

The Children of Hope Jenny Twist

It is 1963 and Ginny is unmarried and pregnant. Her parents consign her to one of the infamous Mother and Baby Homes which  are little more than prisons and workhouses. Will she be able to escape before they come to take her baby away?

 The Bull-Dancer Jenny Twist

The twelve chosen bull-dancers are sailing out of the harbour under a black sail, bound for Crete and the deadly Minotaur, while a mother looks on in anger.

Take the Chance– Tara Fox Hall

A young girl growing up in post-apocalyptic America is determined that she and her sister will survive – whatever it takes!

A Victorian Dolls’ House Jenny Twist

When Violet sees the dolls’ house in the antique shop she has to have it. But the Delacorte House is no ordinary dolls’ house – and it is definitely not a toy!

Heart’s Bells– Tara Fox Hall

Theo and Casey are in love, but so many things stand in their way. They suffer separation and heartbreak but still remain true – until something happens to Theo that changes everything.

Doppelganger Jenny Twist

When Christine wakes up in a sumptuous white room with silken hangings, she assumes she is in heaven. But she soon finds out she is not in heaven. And before too long she begins to wonder if she is even still Christine.

Voices Jenny Twist

Olivia and Aidan are telepathic twins. Olivia is used to hearing Aidan in her head, but she is terrified when she hears a new and sinister voice.

Return to Me – Tara Fox Hall

Determined to find the source of the nightly creaking she alone can hear, Sam Reading discovers Harrison Benning, a ghost who becomes corporeal for one night of the year; the summer solstice. Their warm friendship soon becomes powerful love that lasts through decades, tragedies, and even beyond death.

Catch Me If You Can Jenny Twist

Willy prowls the streets at night, listening to all the sounds of the old town. But does he have a more sinister purpose?

Shades of Grey– Tara Fox Hall

Throughout history there has always been a Seer making sure that the world follows its proper course, keeping the world in balance. Yet when the old Seer prepares to hand over the burden to his apprentice Tim, he realizes too late that Tim has his own ideas of how things should go.

Other books by Tara and Jenny

Just Shadows by Tara Fox Hall - Book cover

Take One at Bedtime by Jenny Twist - Book cover

To find out more about the authors, go to:

Jenny Twist

Website

Facebook Author Page

Goodreads Blog

Amazon Author Page

Tara Fox Hall

Website                                          

Email

Tara’s Blog

Tara’s Facebook Page   

Twitter

For info on my recently published work, Lash, click here:

For info on my recently published work, Just Shadows, click here:                               

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Guest Post: All in the Mind by Jenny Twist

I am delighted, yet again, to welcome back another of my past guest Bloggers.  This time it is the wonderful author, Jenny Twist, who has returned for a visit with her thought-provoking post about her new book; a novel with a sort of physical Benjamin Button syndrome twist to the plot. Thank you, Jenny, for being my guest again, and welcome back.Guest Blogger Jenny Twist on Amelia Curzon's Blog - Curzon

Years ago I read about an old folks’ home where they did the experiment of making their environment like that of their youth. I can’t remember where I read this or what they were attempting to prove, but I do remember that one surprising result was that the subjects’ hair darkened.

I’ve had the idea lurking at the back of my mind ever since. What if you carried the experiment to its logical conclusion?

Last year I entered Nanowrimo for the first time (a competition to write a novel in a month) and this was the idea that resurfaced when I sat down at my computer. I have never written so fast and furiously in my life before. The story just poured onto the page.

I kept coming across gaps in my knowledge but followed Stephen King’s advice and just wrote it, intending to deal with all that later. When I picked it up again a few weeks later and got down to seriously working on it I found I had to do a lot of research on the Second World War. I knew a fair bit already from reading and television documentaries, as well as the experiences of my own parents, but I needed to know things like what branded goods they used, how the rationing system worked, etc.

I also realised, when one of my characters suddenly got completely out of hand and decided to return to India, that I was woefully ignorant of Indian culture. I knew some from reading, and I had studied a lot of Indian history at university, but I had no idea whether my knowledge would suffice for modern-day India. The problem with something like that is you All in the Mind by Jenny Twist book cover on aecurzon.wordpress.comdon’t know what it is you don’t know. I did not realise, for example, that a Hindu would be unlikely to understand Urdu. So I appealed on Twitter for experts on Hindu culture to read and correct it. I had four responses and checked all their comments with Google. Thank you, you wonderful people. You’ve saved me a lot of embarrassment. And thank God for Google. It’s saved me weeks of work.

My dear friend, Caroline, read the proofs when she was staying with me and suggested the idea for a cover. She painted the beautiful hands. They belong to her mother, Anne Ritson, to whom the book is dedicated. The photograph is of my own mother, May Thornton, who was a nurse at the end of the Second World War.

So, to a large extent, this book is the product of friendship.

Here are some of the things other authors have to say about it:

Jenny Twist is an enormously talented story-weaver who just goes on getting better.  Fans of the wonderful novel, ‘Domingo’s Angel’ will not be disappointed with this latest offering from her.  It’s a sweet and haunting feel-good story which will immerse you totally in its fictional world and leave you feeling deeply satisfied.  Absolutely recommended.  (Lynette Sofras)

All in the Mind will take you on a mind trip, one from which you won’t want to return. As always, Jenny Twist’s fiction is an addictive treat that’s tightly woven to draw the readers in and keep them there.  (Su Halfwerk) 

This book moved me more than any other in recent memory, not because it was sad, although some scenes were very tragic, but because of the depth of emotion I felt for the characters, and the lasting love they share. . I dare anyone to read this book and not be moved to tears of joy.  (Tara Fox Hall)

Biography

Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family.

She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.

She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.

In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat

Her first book, Take One At Bedtime, was published in April 2011 and the second, Domingo’s Angel, was published in July 2011. Her novella, Doppelganger, was published in the anthology Curious Hearts in July 2011, Uncle Vernon, was published in Spellbound, in November 2011, Jamey and the Alien and Uncle Albert’s Christmas were published in Warm Christmas Wishes in December 2011, Mantequero was published in the anthology Winter Wonders in December 2011 and Away With the Fairies, her first self-published story, in September 2012.

Her new anthology, with Tara Fox Hall, Bedtime Shadows, a collection of spooky, speculative and romance stories, was published 24th September 2012.

Her new novel, All in the Mind, about an old woman who mysteriously begins to get younger, will be published 24th October 2012.

A few other places to find Jenny

Website

Facebook

Goodreads Blog

Twitter

Email: casahoya@gmail.com

And a few more books …

Bedtime Shadows by Jenny Twist book cover on aecurzon.wordpress.com

Away with the Fairies by Jenny Twist book cover on aecurzon.wordpress.com

The novel Spellbound book cover on aecurzon.wordpress.com

The novel Domingo's Angel book cover on aecurzon.wordpress.com

The novel Winter Wonders book cover on aecurzon.wordpress.com

We Are the Gatekeepers Now! by Anne Chaconas

My Guest Blogger this week is the irrepressible Anne Chaconas.  Anne is an author, prolific blogger, phenomenal book reviewer and, though how she fits the time in I do not know, full-time mother. This is her thought-provoking take on who holds the reins in the book publishing industry.

Guest Blogger Author Anne Chaconas on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Curzon"

As writers we are highly single-minded—our primary pursuit (as well it should be, I believe) is getting our works completed and out for public consumption. We obsess over main characters, mercilessly dissect plotlines, fret over dialogue tags, nitpick descriptions, panic over typos. And we write. We write, we write, we write. When we’re not writing, we’re thinking about writing. Or worrying about writing. Or feeling guilty about not writing. For a lot of us, that’s just the way the day goes (even when we’re at our day jobs, which many of us can—regretfully—not give up quite yet). And we love it.

We love the pressure, and the self-imposed deadlines. We love creating. We love playing with words.

Certainly, not very many of us slave away at manuscripts with the hope of languishing in obscurity for the rest of our lives. Sure, we may not expect to become the next Stephen King (or Nicholas Sparks, or E.L. James—pick your poison), but we hope to make a decent living from our craft. We want to quit that day job and devote ourselves full-time to what we love to do. We dream about that home office with the wide windows and comfy writing chair, about waking up early in the morning when they air is still new and the birds are only just beginning their chirps, and about knowing that we have the whole day to spin our yarns. No boss except ourselves, no hassles except those we put our characters through.

And, the thing is, our chances of doing that are at an all-time high. A wonderful thing has happened in the last 10 or so years—the true advent of self-publishing. Self-publishing used to be an incredibly costly endeavor, involving thousands of dollars and dealings with potentially (usually) shady publishers. Now, it’s virtually free. With e-readers flying into the hands of readers everywhere, getting your work out into the world is easier than ever. Just upload, save, and­­—blammo!—you’re there, published.

Two closed locks

Photo credit: espressoed (Creative Commons)

We all know it wasn’t always that way—the Big Six held the keys to the kingdom not that long ago, and its minions used their power to bat away authorial hopefuls from the citadel walls. We would finish our novel, our baby, our masterpiece—and then query. And get rejected. And query again. And get rejected again. Wash, rinse, repeat. No longer: Now, we are the gatekeepers. I say again: We are the gatekeepers. Oh, but that does have a nice ring to it. Very Tony Robbins: Take control of your destiny! And we are. In droves. Thousands of e-books are published every year now, in every conceivable genre.

We are the gatekeepers now!

Ah, but there’s a catch (there always is, isn’t there?): We are the gatekeepers. And when you’re the lord of the manor, it’s not all banquets and balls. Allow me to get trite for moment: With great power comes great responsibility. Sure, we don’t have to kowtow to some suit in New York, beg to have our book published, and then smile over paltry royalties—but readers still expect us to put out the same quality work as a major publishing house.

Let’s analyze why.

Readers have never much given a damn who published their favorite book. I have never met a single person who, in describing their current read, said, “Have you read the latest book by such-and-such? It was published by Random House!” (And, truth be told, if I did meet someone like that, I’d be a little frightened.) No, readers haven’t ever really cared who published a book, whether e-book or not. But they do care about the quality of the book. The formatting. The editing. The cover. Read any review on Amazon and chances are good that if there was anything negative to be found about the quality of the book it’ll be mentioned:

“There were frequent typos that distracted me from the story.”

“The formatting was weird and inconsistent on my Kindle.”

“The story line didn’t flow—wasn’t this book edited?”

And then—once they’ve started wondering how this book made it to market in the first place—then they might go and look at the publisher. If it’s not a big-name company that they recognize, they’ll pen those dreaded six words: “it’s just a self-published book.” And that’s how self-published authors—all self-published authors—get set back. It’s just a self-published book; that’s why the quality isn’t so great. It’s just a self-published book; that’s why it wasn’t edited. It’s just a self-published book; that’s why the cover isn’t that professional. Suddenly, being a self-published author is not a sign of entrepreneurship, independence, and self-sufficiency. Instead, it becomes a mark of poor craftsmanship, shoddy editing, and less-than-stellar performance. The focus is taken off the work itself, and is shifted dramatically to its flaws.

Here’s the problem: We, at our core, are artists. Some of us may not think of ourselves that way—I know I typicallydon’t—because we associate artists with paint and brushes, chisels and marble. But we are. Artists are good at creating. We’re not so good at making that creation good for public consumption. That’s what agents and publishing houses are good for. Now, before you all turn against me, let me say this: I’m not advocating that we give up our newfound publishing freedom and beg for the Big Six to take us on. On the contrary—I’m a big advocate of entrepreneurship, independence, and self-sufficiency. Heck, I’m self-publishing, too!

However, I’m also a big advocate of putting the absolute best version of my product out there. Writing does not exist in a vacuum. Well, good writing doesn’t. Good writing has an exceptional foundation, sure—but it also has beta readers, an editor, and a cover artist. It has a talented author at its core, but it also has people with proven expertise who have helped that author take his or her work to a new level. As writers, we need to stop thinking of ourselves as a single, lone entity—we’re not. We’re not just one person, typing away on a keyboard or scribbling away on a sheet of paper. We’re a cooperative of indie talents, all with the same goal: To lift out craft just one step higher, to increase the respect of our field just one tick more.

We don’t have the luxury of blaming errors of a third party: “Oh, I can’t believe my publisher used that cover!” “That is not the final edited copy of my work I approved!” Nope, nuh-uh. There is no third party. When you’re indie, the responsibility of presenting high-level work falls all back on you. And high-level work is what you must always present, lest a blemish start eroding your credibility.

Much in the same way that a series of missteps can bring down an entire career (Lindsay Lohan, anyone? Mel Gibson, perhaps?), a series of errors can bring down a literary work, no matter how good its foundation. Let’s be honest: A review which starts out “This book had so much potential,” is probably not going to end well. And the scary part is, they don’t have to be huge errors. Often, they are small, but cumulative. Consistent typos. An amateurish cover. Poor formatting. Any of these, or a combination of them, can turn your baby—that thing you’ve spent months, maybe even years, working on—into a slush pile of, “Naw, I think I’ll pass.” An accumulation of these errors over multiple works can ruin your budding career as a self-published author. And when multiple indie authors display these errors over and over again, they can tar all other self-published and indie authors with the same gunky brush.

Do we want the errors of a few to taint the hard work of many? Even worse, do we want to be the ones blamed not just for our own, but for the group’s bad rap? I sure don’t. I’m working too hard on my brand to let a few errors bring me down, and I don’t want a poor perception of indie authors as a whole to mess with all my hard work. Beta readers, editors, cover artists—all of these are in my future. I will make the investment in my work because this isn’t a vanity project or a lackadaisical endeavor; this is my life. And it’s the life of many of my author friends, too.

open locks

Photo credit: apropos (Creative Commons)

We are all in this together. We’re making inroads into the unknown. We are taking matters into our own hands. It’s an exciting, nerve-wracking, Brave New World.

But we must remember: With great power comes great responsibility.

We are the gatekeepers now.

Bio: Anne Chaconas was born in Central America, educated in the U.S. Northeast, moved to the Deep South for love, and is currently living on the East Coast (and spends most of her time missing winter). Her awesome husband, adorable daughter, three rambunctious cats, and two very adoring dogs keep her busy. Her debut novel, Salve Regina, will be available this fall. In addition to being a writer of things serious (and, sometimes, not-to-serious), she is also a snarky mommy blogger and a book reviewer extraordinaire. You can find her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and entirely too many other social networking sites.