Guest Post by Gillian Felix

Hey everyone! Today I am excited to introduce author Gillian Felix to my blog. She just released the third book in her Family Portrait series, and it’s quite good.

Without further interruptions by my, here is a quick synopsis of her book, my brief interview with her, and a couple of her thoughts on the book’s background. I will follow up with my review of it.

Synopsis for Bastard’s Brew

When L’Wren’s ex-boyfriend Jeff suddenly disappears, she turns to Kevin to help her find him. With one phone call, Kevin makes sure that Jeff stays hidden and that L’Wren’s heart is broken, leaving the door open for Kevin to pursue her. But Kevin is not as free as L’Wren thinks; she is in the dark about his affair with her stepmother, Savi. Savi constantly reminds Kevin of his devious ways and uses their secret to keep him as her toyfriend.

“You don’t deserve to be loved, and you don’t deserve to be happy. You and I are the same … we’re broken inside. Everything we touch, we destroy. We don’t get happily ever after … we don’t get to ride off into the sunset. You know who gets that? L’Wren … she gets it, she gets the guy, and she deserves a decent guy.”- Savi

Kevin desires to be the man that L’Wren deserves, but before he can assume the role of white knight, he brews one last plan to get rid of Savi for good. Will L’Wren, the innocent victim in their twisted game, become a casualty?

Kevin may have sold his body to the devil in stilettos, but he’d be damned if he let her have his heart.

Interview

Matt Young: Bastard’s Brew is the third book in the Family Portrait series. What are the benefits of writing a series of linked books?

Gillian Felix: It gives the audience time to grow with the characters. If people like the characters it builds up a following and it creates an audience for the other novels in the series.

MY: What are the negatives?

GF: Actually finishing the entire series after the audience and I have fallen in love with the characters. I am soooo not looking forward to that. I know I’d miss the characters in my novels terribly.

MY: Let’s dig a little deeper into the “why” of what you do. Why do you write?

GF: I write because I absolutely LOVE it. If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be doing it.

MY: When did you start?

GF: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I’ve always loved writing. Oh, actually I do remember I had stopped writing for about 3 years. I was working for Disney doing graphic design and script supervising, I was travelling a lot. That was another thing I enjoyed, so I focused my energy on being the best script supervisor I could be, and learning as much as I could about graphics design.

MY: What is it about your characters that has you bringing them back for a third book?

GF: The series was based on a television series I’d written. The first book is actually the pilot I converted to a novel. I have 36 episodes written and as long as readers like the stories, I’ll continue until the end of the series.

MY: Is there a strong emotional connection between you and any of them?

GF: Oh yes! I think with a character/plot driven series like mine I have to be. I hurt with them, I laugh with them, I live with them, I argue with them, sounds crazy but aren’t all authors or artists a bit crazy?

MY: The new book is a complex web of characters and hidden motives, yet it pulls together beautifully. Was this book tougher to write than the others in the series?

GF: In a way it was, because of the situations the characters were in I really had to ‘go there’ emotionally. Every book I write I dig a little deeper and hope to make it better than the previous. I progress the main characters with each book.

MY: Last one! What are you reading right now?

GF: Right now I am reading Ash to Steel by my wonderful friend Karen-Anne Stewart. I’m not much into romance novels but I like Karen-Anne’s work.

Gillian’s Guest Post

Food … the variety of life

I am fascinated by different cultures and their relationship with food. In Iceland for example, one of their delicacies is rotten shark meat called Hákarl. We’re not just talking 2 days past the expiry date here… we’re talking about burying the shark for 6-12 weeks, then letting it dry for another couple of months until it forms a brown crust. Note folks this is not an Hors d’oeuvre for the faint-hearted. Famed international food lover Anthony Bourdain described it as the single worst tasting thing he has ever eaten (and he’s eaten everything). The locals usually wash Hákarl down with a glass of cognac. Who could blame them?

East Indian verses West Indian Cuisine

I was fortunate to grow up in the West Indies where food labeled ‘exotic’ in the US was part of our everyday diet. I took it for granted back then. West Indians are people from the Caribbean and East Indians are people from Pakistan, Asia, etc. So naturally their cooking style is different due to what is available on their continent. The thing we have in common is that we season everything. Seasonings consist of curry, turmeric, different spices, shadow benny, thyme that sort of thing.

In the Family Portrait series I wanted to give the characters an international flavor, so I made the matriarch of the family Brazilian. Since food is a part of the characters bonding ritual as a family, naturally mama Banovic opened up her kid’s palette to international cuisine at an early age. In Bastard’s Brew, eldest son Kevin uses what his mama thought him in the kitchen to get the girl.

“See, brother, that’s how you impress a woman. You cook them something exotic. The farther the continent, the more impressed she’ll be.” – Kevin

Kevin proceeds to make chicken korma over basmati to impress his love interest. Korma has the flavor of ground coriander, cumin and spices. It can be made with yogurt as a base sauce incorporated with the juice from the meat.

A nice desert to go with this meal would have been gulab jamun. To Kevin’s dismay he points out to his brother that he couldn’t find gulab jamun at Gelson’s. Gulab Jamun is a sweet, amazingly delicious dessert. You can find the recipe here. I can still taste it to this day.

In Bastard’s Brew I sent the Banovic parents to Europe giving the kids more opportunity for mischief and mayhem, and they delivered. Kevin is left in charge of his siblings and his frenemies are surprised that he can cook. The first introduction we have of Kevin’s culinary skills, he is making cassava dumpling stew. My mom made this for my birthday last year and all I can say is
BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER! I loved it so much I did a post on my website about it. Check it out here: http://www.plaintalkbm.com/cassava-dumpling-stew/

A Quick Review by Matt

This isn’t the type of book I usually read, but it looked interesting so I decided to accept Gillian’s invitation and read it. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. It reminded me at first of a soap opera, until I was able to get a feel for the characters. (Not that I’m a huge soap opera viewer, but I have seen them in the past…) This book was very different once I got past that point. The characters were much more realistic, less caricature-like, and very driven by their own background and desires. It was refreshing and made me very aware of the fact that there are many good books out there that I haven’t even considered reading yet.

Like I said, I don’t read things like this often, but after reading this one, I went out and got the others in the series, too.

Here are some links where you can learn more:

Amazon Author Page
Book Information
Facebook Fan Page

Awaken is Live!

Awaken went live this morning. I didn’t expect it to be that quick, so major props to Amazon for that!

This is my fifth published book, but it’s my first full length work of fiction. In some ways, this is WAY bigger than any of the others I’ve had come out, even the ones I had traditionally published.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens with it.

Thanks to my readers: Cheryl Tisa, Corinna Fiorito, and Kurt Gardner. Also, a huge thank you to Lynne Hansen, my cover artist! She’s awesome and does way more than just cover art. Her website is right here: here. She makes movies, writes books, and more! Truly talented and it was awesome to work with her on this.

I’m working on two other novels for release later, hopefully this year. One’s a financial thriller, and the other is a silly private detective novel I’m working on with a mystery co-writer! Stay Tuned!

OH! If you want to buy Awaken, you can find it here.

Side Project

Hey everyone!

I am taking a break from posting about my fiction to let you know about a side project I am working on. I have been working with New Life Family Prayer Center in Oviedo, Florida, to help them raise money for a project they are working on. The goal is to raise enough funds to have a homeless shelter constructed. Seminole County, where the nonprofit organization is located, has a high rate of homelessness, and this awesome group is taking a unique approach to solving the issue. Actually, it’s not really that unique, just unique to this part of the U.S. Utah already has decreased their rate of homelessness by 74 percent with this method being enacted on a statewide level!

Anyway, we are pursuing grants–both private and federal–as well as donations from businesses and individuals in order to make this possible. As one part of this, I’ve started an Indiegogo campaign to help them out a little bit. It’s a big goal, but we are confident we can do it!

If you are feeling generous, or just curious, feel free to visit the link and see what we are working on.

Thanks!!

Guest Post by J.M. Preiss

Before J.M. starts, I wanted to let everyone know that I am very pleased to welcome him here! He’s a great writer and very imaginative, and you can check out a couple of his books for free on Friday (that’s today!!)! Follow the links at the end and get them.

Without further ado, here he is!

All right, so how do I get this thing started? That has always been a hard part for me when it comes to blogposts. Where do you start? I think I have a simple idea on what to do.

I want to start by saying “Thank You” to Matthew for inviting me to do this. It is an awesome opportunity that he has handed to me, and I am thankful of that. I was unsure as to what exactly to talk about; it takes a while for me to get the ball rolling, so I asked him for some ideas.

It is something that is interesting to reminisce about. How did I get started? Then I asked myself, “How does anybody get started writing?”

The answer to that, at least in my case, is that it just happens. Do not get me wrong, you have to have a drive to do it, but I think that it is something that you just kind of fall into. This can take many forms, the person writing for a newspaper, magazine, or class that wants something more from their writing, or maybe you are somebody that has a vivid imagination, and you started writing as a way to keep track of your dreams.

Something like that happened for me. I loved – and still do – telling stories. My mind is a powerful machine geared towards imagination. That might sound like boasting, but let me tell you, it tends to cause more grief than not. I am a worrier; I can tell you the majority of the ways a situation could go wrong with a few minutes of thinking about it, and boy can they get extravagant. That is unimportant though.

This imagination got me looking into writing for games, not writing stories for video games or your standard pencil and paper role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. No, I was into the games that people came up wi th on forums. The forum I started and stayed at called those Story Debates, a type of play-by-post game. We would come up with back-stories for our character (often a sovereign nation for the ones I played in), and then we would interact with the creator and other players to weave an interesting story. It gave me a lot of practice at writing.

Fast-forward a few (seven or so) years, and I noticed NaNoWriMo. I thought, “Hey, I could do that. I could write a novel in a month.” No, I could not at the time, so I put that on the back burner. In 2011, I picked up the idea again to write for NaNoWriMo. I decided just before Thanksgiving that I was going to do it, and I did not actually accomplish my task; more than half of the month had already passed by, but before school started back up after Thanksgiving, I had written over 20,000 words on Time Jump. I put it on the sidelines to finish out the semester, and January, I picked it up again. I published Time Jump, the first book in the Halcyon Gate series, to Kindle in February 2012.

I started on the second book in the series, Eugenic Reprisal, shortly after, but I had to focus on school. I did not manage to get it finished until December 2013, and it went live New Year’s Eve.
Shortly after releasing Eugenic Reprisal, I finished and released The Sleeping Man, my new sci-fi novelette series that I will be running alongside Halcyon Gate.

Along the way, I graduated with my B.S in Physics, but my passion, my calling, lies with writing; telling that story. This is what I love to do, and I just hope that I do it well enough to keep on doing it and make a living with it.

If y’all want, you can find my works on Amazon, solely for the Kindle and Kindle app.

Time Jump (Halcyon Gate #1)
Eugenic Reprisal (Halcyon Gate #2)
The Sleeping Man (Tales of a Mediator #1)

And y’all can connect with me over at http://jmpreiss.blogspot.com where I am eagerly awaiting Matthew’s corresponding guest post.

– JM

Just Thinking Aloud in Cyberspace…

I have a lot of things I want to do after AWAKEN is finally released to the wild. I want to finish up my financial thriller. I want to co-write a book, tentatively titled SOLVERS, with a pretty cool person. I want to finish my Dante Devotional (book one is written, about 1/3rd typed).

I’m trying to figure out what my “platform” is, too. Remember that? Back before digital publishing, this was kind of important. A publisher wouldn’t pick you up unless you had a unique platform that defined who you were as an author and why only you could fill that position in the literary world. Does this still exist?

I honestly don’t think it’s really important anymore. Sure, there are authors like John Grisham (who I love), that write the same type of story over and over. Legal thrillers are a great genre, and Grisham is one of the best here. Harlan Coben (another author that I adore), writes thrillers with tons of twists and turns that are impossible to predict–another platform that he fills best. There are tons of examples that I could give, and you would probably recognize every name I threw out.

But for set platform, there are a few authors that don’t fit. The biggest name is James Patterson. He made his name writing thrillers, but now he writes young adult, historical fiction, tons of stuff. Neil Gaiman is another big name. Comic books, horror, fantasy, young adult, children’s books. And they’re all good.

Maybe today’s platform is that you can write whatever you want thanks to the increased ease of getting it into your readers’ hands? But do you have to be a big name to pull this off? I don’t see why you would need to. A “nobody” like John Locke can go from obscurity to one of the best selling independent authors ever in a few years. Does it matter what he wrote? What things have turned out differently for him if he wrote a few science fiction novels mixed in with his suspense? It’s impossible to say for sure, but I don’t think so. If anything, his audience would have increased in size.

So, no, I do not have a problem switching gears from Science Fiction to a financial thriller. I know both genres well, and I am going to use it to my advantage. This will be a fun experiment.