A-R International: Marcello Di Cintio

Another author for your consideration…

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

Marcello Di Cintio
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Monique de St. Croix

I was born in Calgary and studied Microbiology and English at the University of Calgary. I was also a member of the university wrestling team. I graduated in 1997 with a pair of degrees (a BA and BSc).

Later that year, I traveled to West Africa with a volunteer organization and taught biology in a Ghanaian village for three months. When my volunteer placement was complete, I wandered through western and northern Africa for nine months. My stories from Africa resulted in my first book, Harmattan: Wind Across West Africa. This won the Henry Kriesel Award for Best First Book.

In December 1999, hot with millennium-fever, I traveled to Jerusalem to watch the clock turn on 2000. I wandered throughout Israel and Egypt before returning to Calgary to begin a career as a freelance writer. Since then…

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A-R International: Mary Smith

Another indie author worth checking out…

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

Mary Smith
Authors-Readers International

I was born on Islay. My family moved to the mainland when I was seven and I grew up in Castle Douglas in south west Scotland.

I worked for ten years with Oxfam in Lancashire, fundraising and campaigning on development issues. The next ten years were spent first in Pakistan, then Afghanistan, where I worked for a small health organisation primarily concerned with leprosy and mother and childcare. My experiences living in those countries inform much of my writing.

I returned to Castle Douglas when my son was five years old so he could have somewhere to put down his own roots.

I have always written. As a child I wrote adventure stories in my own books made from wallpaper off-cuts and as a teenager I wrote very bad love poetry. For most of my life I’ve kept a journal. While still working in Afghanistan I…

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Another Sad Chapter in the Story of Mankind

Did you know that Charles Manson co-wrote a book containing his “true confessions”? It’s true – it’s available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He also recorded an album. Actually he is credited with many records – the last of which (The Lost Vacaville Tapes) was released in 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you also know that the Unabomber’s Manifesto is available on Amazon for $9.95?

There are also books written by John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz and quite a few other notorious killers.

 

I’m sure the list of books written by the worst members of society is surprisingly long, which is a little disconcerting. Not exactly the finest in American Literature, but when it comes to art, whether the written word, recorded music or any other medium, one man’s art is another man’s trash – and vice-versa.

Would it be fair to lump Manson, Gacy and Berkowitz in the same category as Mark Twain, Harper Lee and J. D. Salinger (each of whom has had attempts made to ban their books from school curriculums).

Who is to say which books are good or which ones are bad?

Nobody.

That’s who.

Which brings me to the inspiration behind today’s rant.

This story;

 

https://pen.org/press-release/proposed-book-banning-bill-in-missouri-could-imprison-librarians/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=social-pug&fbclid=IwAR0uEnZHDx67lBmsXxVZhe72LxW8T1-d6Apdap80JwZwXiarwOPV8PDAoC8

 

This is the third time I’ve blogged about censorship in one form or another – once here and once here –  and it really pisses me off.

Is it just me, or does the concept of banning books from a public library bring with it a bit of deja-vu?

Trying to legislate morality is like trying to prevent your car from breaking down by only driving it on “the good roads.”

It just doesn’t work that way.

I am not an expert in sociology, but it seems to me that banning books only creates a “forbidden fruit” mentality.

This whole affair reminds of the song Harper Valley PTA (Jeannie C. Riley 1968) – where a select group of hypocrites makes it their mission in life to preach about character, morals and integrity.

Does anybody, beside me, see the inherent problem there?

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Time for Another Free Book!

 It’s been a while since I gave away a book – and because a reader left a very nice review of Eyewitness Blues on Amazon today let’s give that one away!

First things first…here is the review:

 

As any author (independent or otherwise) will tell you – getting a nice review is (in my best Rhode Island vernacular) wicked awesome! It’s arguably why we write…it’s at least one of the top reasons. I wish I could personally thank each and every person who leaves a review, but Amazon keeps the reviewer’s identity private. So this is my way of saying thank you!

About Eyewitness Blues…I remember the moment I came up with the “what if” for the story;

The owner of a local pizza parlor had been arrested for assault after attacking a customer who tried to return a calzone. Come to find out – said pizza parlor owner was living here as part of the witness protection program (from New Jersey I believe). Here is a local news story from the incident.

Oddly enough – after the incident made the news he disappeared.

There was lots of speculation around the water cooler about where he had “disappeared to” – maybe the feds had relocated him, or maybe his “friends” from Jersey had paid him a visit.

I never found out, but while talking about it to a co-worker one day I thought; What if there was a guy who was convinced that the only way to escape his crappy life was the witness protection program. The only problem being…he hasn’t witnessed anything.

That was all it took!

Please download your FREE copy of Eyewitness Blues. If you’ve already read it please pass this along to somebody who might enjoy it. You are my best marketing representative!

The giveaway begins at midnight Tuesday, January 14 and runs until midnight Sunday, January 19.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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A-R International: Susan M. Toy

Here is the woman who routinely helps other authors…

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

This promotion post is dedicated to the memory of my sister, Betty Bridgman, a avid reader all her life, an enthusiastic supporter of my writing and publishing career, and one of my biggest fans.

Susan M. Toy
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Monique de St-Croix

I have been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and a promoter of fellow authors and their books through my company, Alberta Books Canada. I am also an author and publisher, under my imprints, IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts. Through Alberta Books Canada, I represented authors directly, helping them find promotion for themselves and their books, seeking out new readers, and assisting them in making wise career decisions.

I championed Alberta authors in particular, singing their praises throughout the province and online to the rest of the world, and displayed books for authors and publishers at Alberta library conferences. I continue…

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A-R International: Tim Baker

Author Susan Toy constantly goes above and beyond in her promotion of indie authors. Visit her blog and check some of the other fine authors she has featured.

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

Tim Baker
Authors-Readers International


Let me begin by saying I hate writing bios about myself. I’ve had to do it a few times since I became an author, and it doesn’t get any easier.

It would be nice if I had somebody else to write it for me, but sadly I can’t afford such luxuries yet. I suppose I could have written it in the third person, talking about myself as if I were not me…but I am me so I just couldn’t do it.

Anyway, I was born and raised in Warwick, Rhode Island. I’m old enough to remember Get Smart, The Flintstones and Hogan’s Heroes when they were on in prime-time. I moved to Palm Coast, Florida in 2006 and I love it here. Before I moved, my older brother suggested I visit Florida in August to make sure I could handle the heat. I told him…

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2019 Year in Review

 

…and just like that we are welcoming another new year.

The list of my writing accomplishments in 2019 is a very short one – consisting of four or five blog posts and a couple of thousand words on my work-in-progress. For the non-writers in the audience a couple-thousand words is usually considered a moderately productive weekend – not a year.

2019 now stands as only the second calendar year since Living the Dream was released in 2009 in which I did not release a new book. The last time was 2017 – but I made up for it by releasing two books in 2018 (24 Minutes and Doomed to Repeat) – a feat which I am going to try to match in 2020.

So despite not releasing a book – 2019 was still a very good (nearly flawless) year for me.

The one downer of the year came in late March when I had to say goodbye to my longtime buddy Philbert.

I rescued Phil when he was only 8 or 9 weeks old and he was with me for 16 ½ years before succumbing to liver failure.

Other than that brief blip of sadness – 2019 was the year when, after thirteen years in Florida, I finally purchased a home of my own! It’s a modest place, but it’s in a beautiful area and it suits my needs perfectly. It is indeed my home.

My previous living arrangements ended in January, followed by a few weeks of homelessness where I stayed with a friend before moving into the new place in mid-February.

I had begun work on my next novel (tentatively called Rising Tide) in August of 2018. Progress was moving nicely until the whole moving thing got in the way – bringing production to a halt for a few months while I got settled.

Once I resumed writing in May I still hadn’t developed a routine so the word count wasn’t exactly soaring and Rising Tide hovered at the point of being about two-thirds complete until last weekend (I know…SLACKER!).

Last weekend I finally gave myself the kick in the butt I usually use on procrastinating writer friends who shall remain nameless.

In two days I matched the total word count of the previous four months!

I still have a long way to go – as I said the book is only about two-thirds complete – but I’m finally back in the groove!

The best part is that even though I didn’t do a lot of writing in 2019, I did come up with two really good (at least I think they’re really good) story ideas. Thus my biggest challenge of 2020 will be deciding which one to work on first!

I hope your 2019 was more productive than mine and I hope your 2020 is the best year ever!

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Time for Another FREE Book!

Do you like a good action/suspense story?

Do you like a little historical fiction?

Do you like humor?

Do you like FREE stuff?

Do you like Ike?

Do you like pie?

If you answered yes to any of these questions I have good news for you…

From August 15 – 19 my most recent novel Doomed to Repeat is FREE!!

 

…actually – the last question has nothing to do with anything, but who doesn’t like pie?

 

 

Doomed to Repeat, my 11th novel, was released in November of 2018 and has been highly praised!

The story begins in a top-secret Nazi bunker during World War II, but soon lands in modern day Flagler Beach where three men wash ashore – two with amnesia, one dead.  Ike (our hero) tries to help the survivors, but when the dead body is discovered, a routine autopsy results in an international incident. Now Ike has to figure out why the FBI, the KGB and a racist politician are all after his new friends.

It’s a fast and fascinating read, the ending of which may leave you with more questions than answers…

Get Doomed to Repeat FREE from August 15th thru the 19th!

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Sharks – Less Dangerous Than Your Bathtub

Not since the summer of 1975 have I seen shark-hysteria so high.

As you may recall, that was the summer Jaws was released, and, practically overnight, beaches all over the country were a lot less crowded.

It was certainly understandable. After all – prior to seeing a thirty foot Great White on the big screen, devouring everything in its path, most people were blissfully unaware of the presence of sharks, let alone the (suddenly perceived) threat they posed.

Then, like any good social phenomenon, the legend grew like a weed (sea weed if you will).

The sequels, copy-cats and rip-offs followed in droves – and people’s fear of the ocean’s apex predator grew proportionally.

Forty-four years later – you’d think the frenzy would be gone, or at least down to a realistic level.

But no.

Any decline in shark-o-phobia has been quickly reversed by social media.

Scroll through your facebook feed on any given day and you’re bound to come across a few stories about sharks “terrorizing” a coastal community, forcing the closing of a local beach or “attacking” a swimmer. Of course, twenty, thirty or forty years ago the technology to track and monitor sharks in real time didn’t exist. Now that it does, people are under the misconception that their favorite beach is all of a sudden overrun with sharks – and, of course, these sharks have only one thing in mind…the tasty flesh of humans.

The truth of the matter is – the sharks have always been there – we just didn’t know it.

Nevertheless, the aforementioned stories fuel the fire and, at a minimum, make people more frightened of the ocean…at worst, lead to the indiscriminate killing of sharks.

Estimates of the number of sharks killed worldwide by humans per year (either directly or indirectly) range from 100 million to 273 million.

Let’s go with the low end – 100 million.

Think about how many 100 million is…it comes down to 11,417 per hour.

It doesn’t even sound possible, but every source I checked corroborated it.

Now let’s look at the number of humans killed by sharks per year, again – worldwide.

Ten.

Not ten million…not even ten thousand…

Ten.

Per year.

Worldwide.

For you math nerds that equates to .001 per hour.

And these people are not eaten as the myths would have you believe. Most die from loss of blood after being bitten. Contrary to popular belief, sharks do not see humans as a delicacy…when a shark bites a human it is done as an investigation. Once they realize we are too low in calories to be worth the effort, they move on.

You are ten times more likely to die taking a bath than from a shark bite. Seriously…an average of 113 people die each year while relaxing in the tub.

Yet because of their completely erroneous reputation, sharks are targeted, caught and killed in the name of “who-cares-it’s-only-a-shark.”

The problem is…it’s not “only a shark” – it’s an extremely important link in the food chain whose existence has broad reaching effects.

In North Carolina a drop in the number of Great White sharks led to an increase in rays – the growing ray population, in turn, ate more bay scallops forcing some local fisheries to close. Once the scallops were no longer plentiful, the rays moved on to clams and quahogs forcing many restaurants to remove clam chowder from their menus. Moral of the story…sharks are good for the economy.

Sharks help maintain coral reefs by feeding on large predatory fish, such as Groupers. When these fish are not kept in check they feed on herbivores leading to more microalgae which leads to the deterioration of coral. Also, sharks feed on weak and sick species helping to maintain a healthy ocean. Ipso-facto sharks are good for the environment. In short – without sharks, our oceans would die – and if our oceans die…we die.

Despite mountains of scientific evidence extolling them, sharks are probably the most misunderstood animal on the planet. People seemingly prefer to get their “knowledge” of sharks from Hollywood or facebook memes rather than the scientific community.

My fascination with sharks began at the age of 15 when, quite ironically, my mother took me to see Jaws the night it opened at our local cinema. I had already read the book, so it was the next logical step. Unlike many others it didn’t stop me from swimming. I grew up a stone’s throw from the water and it was one of my favorite summer activities.

Did I sometimes wonder if there was something lurking beneath me?

Sure…but I had also seen the movie Friday the 13th – which didn’t stop me from going to summer camp.

In fact, two years after seeing Jaws I became a certified SCUBA diver in hopes that I would get to see one of these magnificent creatures in person.

I never did…still haven’t, but maybe someday.

Point of interest…Peter Benchley – the author of Jaws – spent his post-Jaws life as one of the world’s biggest shark advocates, at least in part due to the international panic Jaws had created.

Each summer, after shark week, I usually find myself in debates trying to get people to understand that sharks are good…but my voice has little power over a propaganda machine that chums the waters of paranoia with crap like Sharknado.

That’s why I decided to write this post…at least I won’t have to repeat myself as much – I can just give people a link and hope they read with an open mind.

Hopefully it will ease the fears of a few dozen people.

I’d love to stop the wanton killing of sharks, but for that I’d need a bigger audience.

 

As always – thank you for reading

And here are ten more things more likely to kill you than a shark… 

Fin

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There’s Something About Yesterday…

For a writer the most important element in any story is, what I call, the What if moment.

Without a great what if, it doesn’t matter how well you write, how compelling your characters are or how snappy your dialogue is – your story’s potential is handicapped.

For example:

What if an astronaut became stranded on Mars?

What if a post-civil war cavalry officer learns that all of the stereotypes about native Americans he had assumed were true were, in fact, patently false?

What if a great white shark staked a claim off the coast of a small New England island and terrorized swimmers during the Fourth-of-July weekend?

Obviously, these stories all did fairly well as books and as major motion pictures – largely in part to their incredible what ifs.

In fact, a truly captivating what if can transform a standard boy-meets-girl-boy-gets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-back love story into a story that will completely distract you from a plot you’ve seen a million times.

Such is the case with the movie Yesterday.

As a writer I will tell you, this movie has a huge what if…but as a music lover I say it’s got the mother of all what ifs!

What if The Beatles had never existed?

Think about it for a minute…

What if John had never met Paul?

What if those countless gigs at The Cavern had never happened?

What if Brian Epstein had never found them?

What if the greatest rock band EVER – never were.

The longer you think about it, the more difficult it is to fathom, but that’s the premise of this movie.

Jack Malik is a struggling musician who wakes, after a near death experience, to a world that has never known The Beatles.

No spoilers here – but it isn’t a bad dream.

The planet goes through some unexplained phenomenon at the precise moment Jack is struck by a bus – and as a result of said phenomenon…the Fabs never existed.

But Jack remembers them, and all of their songs.

When he plays Yesterday for his friends, they are rightly impressed with his song writing ability. His efforts to explain that the song was written by Paul McCartney are met with blank stares which get even more blank when he mentions The Beatles.

Immediately the viewer, at least this viewer, begins to contemplate the possibilities of a Beatle-less world.

It’s almost inconceivable, but in the movie, it is the new reality.

Needless to say, the world is duly impressed (again) with the catalog of material Jack comes up with, seemingly overnight, which leads to fame, potential fortune, etc., etc.

So how does Jack deal with his new found, albeit unearned, superstar status.

Well…he gets some very sage advice from a most unlikely source.

Naturally, the movie is not without its faults, but let’s face it…the concept of a “no Beatles” world could be turned into a NetFlix series and go on for twelve seasons…so it would be impossible to address every single after-effect.

For example – in one scene Jack plays a Beatles’ song for some friends…one of them remarks “Well, it’s not Coldplay…”

This is the first potentially major flaw with the story, because had The Beatles never existed the entire musical landscape we now know (including Coldplay) simply would not exist.

This may be my opinion, but I’m pretty sure there are people, much smarter than I, who would support the theory.

But the suspension of disbelief is powerful stuff – and the story manages to clear this seemingly impossible hurdle nicely.

Once again…no spoilers, but I will lay these truths on you:

You do not – repeat DO NOT – have to be a Beatles’ fan to enjoy this movie, but if you’re one of those misguided souls who believe the Fabs were over-rated (and the moon landing was staged) you probably won’t enjoy it very much.

The story is not as predictable as you might think.

There are a few moments when you’ll have to fight back the tears.

Finally – when you leave the cinema you will have yet another reminder of how four kids from Liverpool literally changed the world.

There you have it…my review of Yesterday.

It might not be the movie that changes your life…

…but what if it is?

 

As always – thank you for reading

 

 

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