Kevin Cooper #Reviews “Atonement in Bloom”

from Teagan’s Books

Teagan's Books

June 26, 2019

#BookReview! My heart is bloomin’ full!  Musician and author, Kevin Cooper shared his review of the second book in my Atonement, Tennessee series, “Atonement in Bloom.” 

Here’s a link to Kev’s review of Atonement in Bloom.  He was away from blogging for awhile, so please click over to visit Kev for the review — and many other lovely posts about books and music.  Please click over to visit Kev’s blog to see what he had to say about…

Atonement in Bloom

Atonement in Bloom by Teagan Riordain Geneviene Atonement in Bloom

Here’s a snippet of what Kev had to say, but please visit his blog. Click here for Kev’s review.

“… I feel strangely drawn to the little town of Atonement Tennessee, it’s people, and the strange goings on there. It all seems so real to me unlike the places of so many other books I’ve read. I cannot help but…

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4 Ways To Grow As A Writer

Solid advice for writers from K.M. Allan.

K.M. Allan

Everyone knows that to become a better writer, you need to write more. Practicing the craft does exactly that; allows you to hone your skills of putting words in the right order, building scenes and shaping characters.

The more you write, the better you get at it. But better writing isn’t the only skill that a writer needs. You also need to grow as a writer, so that each book you do write is an improvement over the last, and here are four ways that you can do that.

Learn To Take Criticism

Unless a reviewer or commenter is attacking you personally (in which case they are the one with the problem), criticism of your writing isn’t personal. It’s an opinion, just like the opinions that you yourself form when you read books by others.

Opinions aren’t something that you have to agree with and can be great teachers if…

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June’s Featured Blogger: Hugh W. Roberts

When WordPress fixed Art by Rob Goldstein and restored the ‘re-blog’ button, I lost a month’s worth of posts.

This is a re-post of June’s feature of blogger and author, Hugh Roberts.

When were you diagnosed with dyslexia, how was it affecting your life?

It was affecting my daily reading and writing and, at the time, was an embarrassment to me. I was (and still am) having terrible problems with reading. From menus to greeting cards, magazines and books, my brain stills jumble up individual letters and words which sometimes make it impossible for me to know what those words mean.

Although I do read, I don’t read as many books as I’d like to. I’ve come across too many books where I find myself totally lost as to what is going on. If there are words, I don’t know the meaning of, then I will soon give up.

It’s not all bad news, though. I occasionally come across a book that I find easy to follow and understand. It may be because of the writing style of the author. I always see it as a great achievement when I come to the page that says, ‘The End’, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the read.

As for writing, before the age of spell check and other software that helps correct grammar and punctuation, I often found myself getting letters or words mixed up. I couldn’t help but wonder about those who would shake their heads when reading what I had written or those who would have laughed at all the mistakes I’d made. However, I no longer concern myself about those people.  

What did you have in mind when you started Hugh’s Views and News?

I saw blogging as the perfect way to get my writing in front of an audience. For far too long, because of dyslexia, I’d hidden all the writing I had done. Nobody, apart from me, had read it. Although my passion for writing stayed with me, I seldom gave in to it. Then I discovered blogging.

My first published post was about lists and how they helped organise my life. Only a few family members read the post, and their encouragement gave me the confidence to write my next post.

The game-changer for me was the chance to participate in an online course that WordPress ran for new bloggers. Back then, the course was run one day a week over three months. You had to attend online to finish the whole class. I made a lot of new blogging friends through that course, some of whom are still blogging. Once I finished the course, blogging became the ‘skies the limit’ for me.

I also started participating in photo and writing challenges, and soon built up a following, all of whom encouraged and supported me and my writing. When I announced on a blog post that I was dyslexic, I was overwhelmed with kindness, offers of help, and a sense of being told to be proud of myself for what I was doing. I’ve always believed the blogging community to be one of the best parts of blogging.

How did you make the decision to publish?

It was my readers that persuaded me to publish my short stories. When I started to write and publish them on my blog, the stories began to receive a lot of attention and comments. It was probably the unexpected twists I gave most of the stories, but readers asked me to put all the stories into a book and publish it. Shortly after, one of my stories went viral, and I saw it as a sign to go ahead and publish. ‘Glimpses’ was released in December 2016 and it was not long before readers started asking me if there would be a follow-up.

What kind of fiction did you read as a boy? 

The only fiction I read was Enid Blyton’s ‘Secret Seven.’ The books were about a group of children who would solve mysteries and crimes. I found the books easy to read, and the plots were of no trouble to me. I tried reading other books by Enid Blyton but had difficulty in reading them. I also read comics like ‘The Beano’, but even found some of them difficult to read.



How long have you been with your partner John, and how did you meet?

This September, we will be celebrating our 26th anniversary. When we first met, I was working and living in London, and John lived in Brighton on the south coast of the UK.

I’d been going through a tough time in both my work and love life, so a friend suggested we go to Brighton for the weekend. I wasn’t really interested in going but was persuaded to go. On the afternoon of the second day, I went and had my fortune told on Brighton Pier.

Amongst other stuff, the fortune-teller said to me that I was on the cusp of a life-changing event connected to the past.

That evening, while having a few drinks, John walked into the bar. We got chatting and, by the end of the evening, we discovered that as children, we had lived in the same town. However, that was not the end of the connection. Several months later, when I introduced John to my mother, she informed us that she used to shop at the butcher’s shop John’s father owned and worked in. She told us that she used to take me in the pram to the shop and that the shop’s owner young son used to look into the pram at me. That was during the first three months of my life before my family moved away because of a new job my father had got.

What do you consider the UK’s ‘Stonewall Moment?’

There are several, but the one that stands out for me is when a piece of legislation called Section 28 was passed by our then Government in 1989. It effectively banned conversations about same-sex relationships in school, forcing LGBT teachers into the closet or out of a job and scarring a generation of young LGBT people.

Stonewall was created to fight this discrimination, and I remember going on many peaceful marches to try and get the already outdated law overturned. Section 28 made me think about the times I was terrified to tell anyone that I was gay because of the discrimination or threats of violence we were hearing gay people were facing every day. I didn’t want anyone going through what I had gone through because of who I was and the way I lived my life.

It took 14 years to get the law revoked, much of which because of the involvement of the Stonewall Movement in the UK.    

When I read your memoir of the 1980’s I get a sense of chaos and excitement, with the politics as a subtext. What are your thoughts on the challenges the gay community took on and survived after the onset of the AIDS epidemic?

As a gay man in the1980s, I saw London as the place to go to live and work. The city acted as some kind of a protective blanket for gay people. However, we weren’t always safe in the city with homophobia never far away. I remember bricks being thrown through the windows of gay bars, police taking the details of the number plates on cars parked outside gay bars and nightclubs, and the constant threat of being arrested for being who we were.

Back then, AIDS was known as the ‘gay disease’, and many people thought all gay men carried the virus. Some people wouldn’t even shake hands with me for fear of catching it. All aspects of life could be very challenging, but because I was living in a city with a large gay population, we helped and supported each other with the events that AIDS bought with it.

I did lose a few friends, both male and female, to the virus, and shed many tears to their departure from our world. However, life went on, and I continued to face the challenges of being a gay man bought with it.

Hugh writes: “I’m attaching a photo of me taken during the 1980s. At the time, I had a job as a part-time barman in a Gay bar that became very popular for many years. It was always fun working there. And the best thing about being a barman was that you became everyone’s best friend. The photo was taken during the age of the ‘clone’, where just about all gay men of the time, living in London, had a moustache.”

 

 

Were you aware of the 1984 Miner’s Strike and the support provided by  Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners? What are your memories of the strike?

I was certainly aware of the Miner’s Strike, but until I watched the movie ‘Pride’, I had no idea about the support the Gay community had given to the miners. It’s a beautiful movie that I’d recommend everyone watch. For me, the movie highlighted how communities’ poles apart can be bought together regardless of the misunderstandings of each other. It clearly demonstrates the kindness and love that humans have of each other, much of which we often fail to reveal.

 


What advice do you have for bloggers with dyslexia?

Don’t allow it to stand in your way of writing and publishing your work, and never be afraid to tell your readers that you are dyslexic.

Since I started blogging and revealed that I’m dyslexic, I’ve had some beautiful emails and comments from people who have told me that they have gone on to fulfill their writing dreams because of what I have done. It seems I was their inspiration. That not only makes me proud of what I have done, but proud of who I am.

 

Tell us about the pending bloggers bash: what events do you have planned? Are there any new awards categories?

 

The Bloggers Bash was the brainchild of author, writer and blogger, Sacha Black. Sacha formed a small committee of four bloggers (including me) who organised a get together in London for bloggers. We saw it as a place where you could meet people with the same interest in writing and blogging and meet them in person.

Over the five years, the event has been running, we have grown a lot. This year we have two guest speakers. First, Gemma Todd, a traditionally-published author of Defender and Hunted, represented by the Darley Anderson Literary Agency. Gemma will be talking about becoming an author and her journey to publication.

Our second speaker is the award-winning blogger Laura Creaven, who will be discussing her blogging journey and how she built up a huge following.

We also have a Photography Booth, where talented photographer Duncan Walker will be setting up a mobile studio where you can practice your best Blue Steel, strike a pose or simply have your photo taken which can be used on author bios, books, your social media accounts, and on your blog.

We will also be running a class to learn the art of the flatlay, where attendees will learn how to use items, they have at home to create beautiful flatlay images, perfect for creating interest on your blog and social media.

We changed some of the categories for this year’s ‘Annual Bloggers Bash Awards’ which now include categories such as best Personal Development blog, best Food blog, best Photography blog, best Travel blog, best Writing/Blogging blog, etc.

Unfortunately, voting has closed for this year’s awards. We’ll be announcing all the winners on June 15th, 2019.


Will you share an excerpt from ‘More Glimpses’?

I’d be delighted to.

This is an extract from the story ‘When The Tide Turns’, a story about three young men who discover a beautiful, deserted beach and who decide to explore it, regardless of the warnings not to venture onto the sand.

“Did you see that?”

“See what?” asked Alan, looking over his shoulder. “Something over there; moving in the sand.”

“Get out of here, dude, you’re just trying to scare us,” laughed Alan, as Ben joined them.

“Seriously, something is moving in the sand,” said Carl, pointing to the area just in front of where they had undressed and left their clothes.

Looking back over his shoulder, Alan couldn’t see anything. “You’re playing games, dude.”

“No, seriously, take a look,” said Carl, as Ben flicked water droplets at him.

“Look at what?” asked Ben.

“Over there. Something is moving in the sand,” replied Carl as he pointed towards the piles of clothes.

“I don’t see anything, apart from sand and three piles of clothes,” laughed Ben. “Stop messing with us, dude. I didn’t see anything as I came out of the sea. Why’re you letting that weirdo of an old man get to you? Come on, I’ll race you both. Last one back to the clothes has to date and bed the Swanson twins.”

Before they knew it, Alan and Carl watched as Ben started to run towards the three piles of clothes, which were halfway up the beach.

“NO! COME BACK, THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE SAND,” screamed out Carl. However, Ben continued to run towards the piles of clothes, laughing, while calling the other two boys by rude names.

A sudden scream from Ben filled the air when he finally reached the clothes. Alan and Carl watched in horror as Ben was pulled into the sand.

“HELP ME, GUYS, SOMETHING’S GOT MY LEGS!’ screamed Ben, before quickly disappearing.

 

Contact Hugh W. Roberts

Blog: Hugh’s Views and News

Twitter: @HughRoberts05

Flipboard

Mix.com

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Universal Link for buying Glimpses

Universal Link for buying More Glimpses

 

(c) Rob Goldstein and Hugh W. Roberts 2019

Featured Blogger, April: John Howell

This month’s Featured Blogger is John Howell.

From John’s profile pageJohn writes thriller fiction novels and short stories. His story Cold Night Out won an honorable mention in Writers Digest Popular Fiction contest this year. He also won first place in the Kurt Vonnegut Kilgore Trout novel contest, celebrating Kurt Vonnegut as an author. His short story Never Give Inn was selected to be published in the Miracle E-zine fifth issue published in April of 2014.

John lives on Mustang Island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife Molly and their spoiled rescue pets.”

Why did you take up writing?

Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed doing homework assignments that involved a story. “What I did on my summer vacation “ type assignments were my cup of tea. I was the kid who always volunteered to write the script for the class play or Thanksgiving pageant. When in High school I worked on the school newspaper and the yearbook. I always enjoyed being closely associated with the written word. In college, I took some creative courses, and for whatever reason, I drifted into organized commerce and was held prisoner until I escaped in 2012. It was then I decided to go back to my original love and take up writing. I have been writing ever since.

What kind of writing did you read as a child?

I read most everything. I like the picture books but then got into novels when I was in the fourth grade. I remember doing a report on a book titled “The Raft.” It was about some airmen who were forced to live in a tiny life raft during World War II. I got the report back, and the teacher made a note that the book was way too adult for my age. She also suggested I didn’t understand some of the words used. We had a conference, and I walked out with an A and a note for my mother. As long as I can remember I read books about bigger than life situations with bigger than life heroes. The Red Badge of Courage was one of the first

What kind of work did you do before writing?

Before I started writing I lead three work lives. The first was the head of a fortune 500 company where I had worked my way from sales representative to President. The second work life was as a marketing consultant. The final was as a director of contracting working for a huge telecommunications company.

You mention Kurt Vonnegut in your profile statement. Is he one of your influences?

He more than any writer had a profound impact on my decision to write. His stories were, by and large, pulled from daily life with significant historical significance as a backdrop. They were well written and carried an element of humor that made them seem so easy to pen. Of course, once starting I discovered Kurt was a genius in using a few words to say the most profound things.

How does your personal history influence your writing?

I have drawn from the experiences I had as a child and an adult. I think the influence on my writing centers on using characters in my books as ways to explore some of the feelings these experiences caused me to have. I remember some fun times and some tragic, but in each, there is energy that can be tapped to tell a story. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead the kind of life that provided enough life moments to be utilized in such a positive way.

What drew you to writing thrillers?

I have always enjoyed reading mysteries and Thrillers. It has been fascinating to discover along the way a thriller differs from a mystery. A mystery has an occurrence like a dead body. The story then goes on to offer clues and in the end to find out who killed whom. A thriller, on the other hand, has the murder take place right before the reader’s eyes and by a perpetrator who is readily identified. The idea of the thriller is to see if the guilty party is brought to justice. If found that it is more fun to go ahead and build a story around the guilty party than to try and to find out who did the deed.

When did you start your blog?

I started blogging in April of 2012. I had just retired from organized commerce and was ready to take on writing as a full-time occupation. I thought it would be a good thing to help build a voice for my writing efforts. Secondarily I thought it would be good practice.

6. How did you come up with the idea of using dialogue to bring the reader into the story?

Dialog has always been the weakest part of my writing. Before I published my first book, I wrote short stories and comments always came back about the dialog. Most of the criticism was in two areas.

1. The conversations seemed stilted since I used a few contractions.

2. My tags were atrocious.

To work out of these two problems I decided to construct stories with only dialog and without tags. The key here was to give the reader a story with just conversation and to identify each speaker by the content of the words and not “He/she said” or any other tag.

I have been doing these stories for about four years, and I think I might be getting close to working out the weakness

How do you come up with story ideas?

I am a raving pantster. I usually have no idea what I’m going to write when I first sit down to do a story or book. When I do prompts I typically have a visual to get me started, but a novel requires some thinking about the story and where the story is going to go. I spend about three or so weeks working on the last three lines of a book. Once these are done, I know how the story is going to end and then can go back to the beginning and start working. The last three lines don’t usually survive, but the idea is there.

What excites you most about blogging?

I get a charge out of folks commenting on what I have done. My blog is not one of those writer “how to” type of blogs. I post, and my objective is to keep the post under 500 words and to elicit a smile from everyone who takes the time to visit. I have three stories a week. Two of them are prompt driven, and the third is a serial that I make up. The other four days are devoted to happy things around the neighborhood, a Top Ten list of things not to do, a pictorial of my dog’s adventures, and musing about life. The biggest criticism I received about my content was I don’t write about writing. It is a valid criticism. I write about life.



What makes your day a good and happy one?

An excellent and happy day to me is one filled with the following.

1. A thousand words on my WIP.

2. Visits to my blog by the regulars

3. A romp with my dogs.

4. Dinner with my wife.

What advice do you have for new writers and bloggers?

It was once said that you have not mastered the writing craft until you write one million words. New writers and bloggers ought to think about that and feel good about trying their best to become a master. Notice I didn’t say trying their best to become published or to have their first thousand followers. I honestly believe that too many new writers and bloggers do not exercise enough patience to become a master at what they do. To illustrate what I’m thinking here think of learning to skydive. Sure you want to jump out of a plane more sooner than later, but imagine if the instructor handed you a parachute and told you to jump. None of us would do that I’m sure. When we start writing it is as if we are hell-bent for publication or to find a short cut to more followers. Take the time to build quality and publication and followers will come. Trust me.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Obsessed, dedicated, loyal

 

Book cover for our Justice
Our Justice

Please share an excerpt from your newest or most recent novel.

This is an excerpt from Circumstances of Childhood.

Chapter One

 

So, with nothing better to do, I figure I’ll stop at Jerry’s place and grab a couple a drinks and a burger. Usually, I don’t go there on Saturday night since there’s a crapload of amateurs taking up what would be considered prime space. I figure since this is a Friday, and close to Saturday, it may be packed but not as crazy as Saturday. It’s the kind of place where everyone minds their business. Today’s events will, probably, not register with the people in the bar. They’re there for a good time and will likely not notice me. Even so, I go through the door, stop, and have a look around, trying not to make eye contact. I hope that the ball cap and large coat will keep me from getting noticed. The bar holds a weekday crowd, all right, hanging on each other like they never had a date before. I tighten my eyelids against the smoke and make out four guys near the pool table and what looks like a couple of girls fetching drinks. I search for a seat beyond the table in the back, but it seems like they’re all taken.

A guy bumps into me as I stand here. I say excuse me, and he looks me in the face. “Hey, don’t I know you?” he says.

“I don’t think so.” I make to turn away.

“Yeah, you’re the sports hero who lost all his money. I saw you on TV.”

“Naw, people always say stuff like that. I’m not him, buddy; trust me.”

He gives me a puzzled look but doesn’t want to push it in case he has it wrong. I turn away and continue to look for a seat.

Straight ahead lies the bar, and it has a place right in the middle. I move in the direction of the empty place and look over to the other side of the room. The tables look full of happy drunks. Buckets of empties line the bar top, and the barmaid’s trying to sell more. She doesn’t have much luck since most of these people just spent their last five bucks on this outing. Upon making it to the stool, I hoist myself up and lean on the bar.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. “Whadda you have?”

“Evening, Jerry. I’ll have a gin on the rocks with a water back.”

“Comin’ up.”

I like Jerry’s no-nonsense way of handling things. He doesn’t like small talk and gets right to business. My eyes smart from the smoke, and I wonder how Jerry gets away with letting people kill themselves when, clearly, it’s not supposed to be allowed in this kind of establishment.

“Here you go. Want me to run a tab?”

“Yeah, I would appreciate that. I intend to have another drink and then a burger.”

The guy who thinks he knows me grabs my shoulder from behind. I almost fall off the stool.

“You’re Greg Petros, the big fund manager. I knew I saw you on TV. You took a beautiful career in football and ran it into the ground.”

Jerry leans over the bar and lays his hand on the guy’s shoulder. “Move on, my friend. You made a mistake. This guy is nobody. Go sit down and let me buy you a drink.”

“You sure? You called him Greg.”

“Yeah, I’m sure. Go get a table, and I’ll send someone over.”

The guy looks at me one more time but does as Jerry suggests. He believes Jerry’s wrong, but the idea of a free drink lets him get away without losing face.

“Thanks. I didn’t mean for you to have to jump in.”

“No problem. Gimme the high sign when you’re ready for another drink.”

“Will do. Thanks.”

“For you buddy, anything.”

I should mention that Jerry and I go back aways. When I fell on hard times, he became the only one that seemed to give a shit. I take a sip of my drink and wait for the burn in my throat, which signals the good stuff. Here it comes. I take a swig of the water and almost believe life is good. The gin needs to get to the brain before making any honest judgment.

While I wait for the warmth to go from my stomach to my head, I check out the folk seated on either side of me. They both have their backs turned to me and sit engrossed in some discussion with their neighbor. I figure it’s just as well since I don’t want to go through that old “don’t I know you?” bullshit again. Also, I don’t figure on staying the night, so no use in getting into any long discussions about life.

I look down at my drink and wonder what will happen tomorrow. My daughter Constance wants to come and visit. She lives in New York, and before all hell broke loose, we didn’t see each other often. I missed her so much, and it seemed as if I had to beg her even to talk on the phone. Now, it’s like she wants to be here every weekend. It’s only an hour’s flight by the shuttle or three by train, so she can come when she wants. I just can’t figure out why she got so clingy. I have my troubles, but it doesn’t have anything to do with her. No use in asking her husband either. Though a nice enough guy, I always wonder if he has someplace important to go when I visit. He never sits still and stays busy on the phone or at the computer. He makes a good living, but it seems a person could take an hour to sit and talk. I’d looked forward to some kind of relationship when he and Constance got married. It’ll never happen with him.

When I take another pull at my drink, I notice the burn feels less. It happens every time. First sip initiation, I call it. It’s like the first puff of a cigarette, hits hard then, after, nothing. I decide to let Constance pretty much have the agenda tomorrow. She and I have not had a chance to talk about anything deep for a while. It could just be that she blames me for her mother running off with that guy with the house on the Hudson. He has a title, and the old gal couldn’t resist, but I think the daughter always felt I should have done something. Her mother’s sleeping with another guy and what the hell can I do about that?

I’ll just go with the flow. If she wants to go out, we will. If she wants to stay in, we can do that too. I better think about getting some food in the house. Of course, we can always order take out. I need to move on to my drink and let this go. Tomorrow will be what it is. I remember the day she was born. I looked down at her in my arms and promised I would do anything for her. I love her more than life itself, and I hope we can somehow get to the root of whatever’s wrong. She sounded strange on the phone this morning, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. I hope she opens up when she gets here.

For some reason, I feel tired. Perhaps I’ll go ahead and finish my drink. Maybe I’ll just go home and forget the burger. First, though, I’ll just shut my eyes for a minute. My hands feel good when I put my head down.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. I barely hear him. “What’s the matter? You taking a nap? Greg?” I can feel him shake me, but I have no interest in waking up. His voice gets further away, and I think he says, “Oh, my God, Sophie, call 911, quick.” Now the room goes silent.

 

 

Thank you, John.

Contact information

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Authors db –http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Google +https://plus.google.com/+JohnHowellAuthor/

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

 

Rob Goldstein 2019

Images owned by John Howell, all rights reserved.