GUEST POST: A Cunning Plan by Andrew J. Harvey

As usual, I can’t hear that phrase without thinking of Baldrick and Blackadder…which, actually, is kind of fitting given where Andrew J. Harvey goes with his. I enjoyed this, hope you do to:

A Cunning Plan

It was during the process of developing the trailer for my Alternate History novel, Nightfall, the first book in my Clemhorn Trilogy, that I was shocked to discover how badly I had underestimated the general public’s knowledge of history.

I have always been interested in history, even taking one unit at University when I was studying there, and had perhaps foolishly believed that like myself, people were interested in the past. Particularly given George Santayana’s warning that: “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Given the myriad mistakes and failings that humans are so susceptible too, the blindness to history’s lessons seems particularly dangerous to me.

I was realistic enough to understand that it was unlikely that most people would have, as I did, entire bookshelves filled with history books, and the occasional alternate history novel, but I did at least expect that one or two history books would be displayed somewhere. As I said, I was quickly disabused of this while testing the book trailer for Nightfall, with the following teaser:

In 1884 the world stood on the verge of war. Once again the Russian and British Empires faced each other across the Mississippi.

And discovered that the person I was speaking to had no idea that in our own history the Russian and British Empires had never, ever faced each other in America, let alone across the Mississippi.

This resulted in the following rewrite:

In 1884, in a history very different from our own, the world stood on the verge of war …

As an aficionado and writer of Alternate History this was particularly disappointing given that Alternate History is a genre of fiction where stories are set in worlds in which one or more historical events unfold differently from how it did in our world. It is better appreciated with at least some modicum of how the historical event the author is writing about actually unfolded in our own reality.

But I now have a cunning plan, and hope that anyone reading Nightfall will be interested enough to investigate how some of the alternate histories I portray in the novel actually played out in our history (hint in Nightfall the Mainline split from our own when in 1451 the Serbian Emperor Uros III captures Constantinople, triggering a Serbian rather than Italian renaissance). And of course if they continue to read the series, they continue to meet other alternates, and with fifty-four lines making up the Cross-Temporal Empire there’s more than enough to keep a reader delving into all sorts of histories for quite some time.

Along these lines I leave you with a paraphrasing of George Santayana’s words, that is: “those who cannot remember the past may be brought to appreciate it by the ‘what ifs’ posed by alternate history.”

Read the novel that’s part of this cunning plan, Nightfall by Andrew J.Harvey.

My thanks to iREAD Book Tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

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GUEST POST: About THE RUSSIAN LIEUTENANT by Peter Marshall by Peter Marshall

The Russian Lieutenant
This is a story about Marina Peters, whose grandparents, Vlad and Marina Petrov, emigrated to England from Russia in the 1930s. She is a likeable and quietly ambitious single young woman working in the Communications Department of the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth Base.

Nikolai Aldanov is a handsome 35-year old widower and a Lieutenant in the Russian Navy who has been corresponding with Marina through an online dating site. The pair have been sharing details of their lives, common interests and histories. But when his ship visits Portsmouth and Marina arranges to meet her Russian Lieutenant in person, she has no inkling of the unexpected consequences of her date, as she is introduced into the ruthless world of international espionage

This is a first novel by a former journalist and broadcaster, Peter Marshall. Since his retirement in 2002, he has written or edited a dozen books on subjects including satellite communications, space flight, international travel plus two biographies. But he explains that after a career in the world of news and information he often thought about trying his hand at fiction!

Peter said: “It was the Salisbury novichok incident which focused my mind on a story bringing together Russian spies and my past experiences in both journalism and the Royal Navy – I also served as an RNVR officer in the 1960’s. Once I started writing, I found it was a really compulsive activity to create my own narrative. One chapter quickly led to another and before long I had 50,000-plus words – without knowing quite how it would end! Then after completing it with a dramatic finish, and finding a publisher, I have now embarked on writing a sequel involving some of the same characters.

“I suppose words have always been my fascination from my early days as a reporter with local and national newspapers, and then ten years with BBC News. I moved into international TV news with a subsidiary of the BBC and Reuters and became involved in developing the use of satellite communications for global news coverage and distribution. This took me to the United States, where I was involved in satellite broadcasting until my retirement when I moved back to the UK and my native West of England.”

Peter was elected as Chairman of the Royal Television Society in 1986; and during his years in America he became President of the Society of Satellite Professionals.

“The Russian Lieutenant” is available from http://www.amazon.co.uk as a paperback or e-book.

GUEST POST: 16 Bedtime Stories to Inspire Young Girls

I’m very happy to have this guest post today — I don’t talk about kids’ books nearly as often as I could, but I do know some of these titles — most of them look pretty good. It’s good content and a spiffy looking picture, what more could you ask for?

16 Bedtime Stories to Inspire Young GirlsFor parents who struggle to get their kids to sleep at night, there isn’t anything quite like a good bedtime story. That relaxing time together is a great way to transition into sleep, while instilling in your child a lifelong love of reading. Many bedtimes stories teach great lessons and values, as well. Kindness, bravery, and perseverance are all often on display in children’s books. However for many little girls, there are a few important lessons missing from the classics. While the modern woman knows that women don’t have to be princesses, and the damsel can save herself, the lessons in children’s literature are still catching up.

That’s why Sleep Advisor created this visual round-up of children’s books to inspire the young girl in your life. With lessons from real life female heroes, to fairytales with a modern kick, each one of their selections is designed to empower young girls.

For the princess-lover, there’s stories of princesses taking their own destiny in their hands. To instill positive self-esteem and acceptance for others, there are children’s tales that help them learn to love and appreciate their own and others’ differences.

Pick one up today, or check a few out from your local library to empower your daughter or niece to live up to her fullest potential!

GUEST POST: My Writing Day by Patricia Dixon

I feel very lucky to be a full-time writer. My day is my own and I have unlimited access to the telly, the internet and the fridge but nevertheless I stick to a routine which doesn’t allow for lazy lie-ins.

It would be so easy to meander through the day in my slippers and dressing gown but I still have a house and business to run, and a dodgy ticker that I’m determined won’t pack in just yet. This is why I am up at 7.30am and during two cups of coffee (nothing happens before that) I check emails and messages before heading downstairs to the gym. Depending on how enthusiastic I’m feeling, I exercise for at least thirty minutes while watching Sky News – I like to know what’s going on in the world.

Once this task is completed I embark on another – my housework. It has become something of a ritual because I truly cannot function in an untidy house or room. After that I usually prepare dinner (or defrost something) as this way I can write straight through and my husband doesn’t starve because I often lose track of time. Before you ask no, he doesn’t cook, he’s terrible at it and makes a big mess!

I try to be at my desk by 10am and here, I have another self-imposed rule – abstinence, which is applied to social media. Facebook is a curse and it only takes one peep to lure me in and then I’m hooked, chatting and commenting.

Once I’ve clocked off for the evening which is usually around 7pm I catch up on the day’s events and chat with my booky friends.

Over the years I’ve been quite nomadic in my choice of writing-space. I began up in the attic and although it was peaceful, I felt rather isolated. It’s a very long way from the kettle and human life. My next choice was the kitchen but here, despite being within arm’s reach of the biscuit tin I was disturbed by visitors who had the same effect as Facebook, coercing me into chatting and drinking cups of tea. After extracting myself from the room of many temptations I tried the lounge but the comfy chair and the open fire made me nod off so now, I’m firmly ensconced in the dining room.

My husband also works from home and my desk looks onto his workshop so I can keep an eye on him. I’m his secretary and bookkeeper, bringer of brews and biscuits and the harridan who bangs on the window and tells him to come inside for food, put a jumper on or take the bins out.

Occasionally I’m on school-run duty and I look forward to a break in routine and a few hours with Harry, our grandson. At some point during the latter end of the week I escape to the supermarket where I take absolutely ages – it’s like my big day out. I’ve been going to the same one for thirty years and know most of the lovely staff so have a good natter.

I rarely write on Saturdays because our grandson is here for the day. I sometimes take Sunday off, unless I am editing or on a roll. The only downside to this writing lark is sitting still, especially in winter because we live in a rambling Victorian house that can be very cold and I frequently get cramp and frostbite (a slight exaggeration) so I’ve been known to write wearing a bobble hat, woolly socks and UGG boots, and two jumpers.

Now you know what goes on in the unglamorous world of Trish the Writer and although it’s not exactly rock and roll, for me it’s the best job in the world ♥

Read the novel that was produced by these days, Rosy and Ruby by Patricia Dixon.

My thanks to Bloodhound Books for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

GUEST POST: Highlighting Shakespearen Women

I’m very happy to have this guest post today — I just wish I’d set the schedule correctly. I love a nicely designed (and informative) infographic, and this definitely fits that. When I was asked if I’d be interested in posting this, I jumped on it. It’s a great way to commemorate the Bard’s birth.

Shakespearean Ladies' NamesApril not only marks the start of warmer temperatures and a new pile of spring reads, it is also the month of the birth of legendary playwright, William Shakespeare. The writer was born on April 23, 1564, and to celebrate, we’re highlighting some of his most strong-willed female heroines. Invaluable created a neat visual [N.B.: the image is much nicer if you follow the link than it does on the left there] that showcases a handful of Shakespeare’s most influential female characters, and explains just how each of them was given their memorable names. From Ophelia to Juliet herself, browse through these wonderful female characters and relive some of the most electrifying plays written by the celebrated, William Shakespeare in honor of his birth.

GUEST POST: My Favorite Space Operas (TV shows and Movies) by Russ Colchamiro

Since my novel CROSSLINE falls under the category of ‘space opera,’ the Irresponsible Reader has asked me to rank my top 10 favorite space opera TV shows and movies (I went to 15 – hey! My list!).

Before I dive in, I recognize that some of my entries may not be entirely space ‘opera,’ but, again, it’s my list, and this is how I’m doing it. Second, as expected, there’s a bunch of Star Wars and Star Trek on here.

And finally, my list is about the movies and TV shows I enjoyed the most, regardless of whether they were the technically the ‘best.’

Anyway… here goes*:

THE HOLY GRAILS
For me, the conversation begins and ends with these two movies, which to my space opera-loving eyes, hold up great after all these years. In fact, last summer I got to see Wrath of Kahn on the big screen (my first time seeing it this way since it first came out!), followed by a live Q&A with Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. Absolutely awesome.

  • Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn
  • The Empire Strikes Back

CINEMATIC DELIGHTS
Where I’d rank any of these solely depends on how I’m feeling at the moment, and the mood I’m in (and there are other good movies out there, too), but if I had to pick, these are the ones I go back to time and again. Including the re-releases, I think I saw Star Wars on the big screen at least a dozen times. And Aliens? Whoa. I haven’t seen it in a while, but it’ll forever go down as one of my favorite blow-me-away movies ever.

  • Star Wars
  • Rogue One
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • Aliens

TV TALES
As far as TV space opera goes, the BSG remake and The Expanse have a lot in common, in that both have a hardcore military slant. They’re both great, with one my caveat that the final eps of BSG fell far short of its otherwise brilliant run. And The Expanse is still going, so only time will tell if the quality keeps up. The three Star Treks I have here are all great to me, in slightly different ways, accept that the original took a little bit to find its footing, and Next Gen was a semi disaster the first two seasons. And then, of course, Deep Space Nine is basically a carbon copy of Babylon 5 with more seasons and a bigger budget. Still, give me any of these shows, and I’m happy as a clam. And I’m proud to say that my 8-year twins—my ninjas—are starting to watch them, too!

  • Battlestar Galactica (remake)
  • The Expanse
  • Babylon 5
  • Star Trek: Next Generation
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

PURE FUN
These three movies to me all belong in the same general sub-category. They’re all fun (and sometimes darn cheesy!), but ultimately leave me with a smile on my face. Get the popcorn out and let’s have a blast!

  • Flash Gordon
  • Galaxy Quest
  • The Last Starfighter

*Note: I did not include Doctor Who on my list because I haven’t seen enough of it to form an opinion, nor did I include Firefly, only because it didn’t last long enough. And while I recognize that Guardians of the Galaxy is a quality movie, it just isn’t one of my favorites.

Read the novel that was inspired (in part) by this list, Crossline by Russ Colchamiro.

My thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided.

Lola's Blog Tours

GUEST POST – The Books That Made the Largest Impact in the World

Back in December, I had a guest post about Literary Road Trips, featuring a brilliant infographic (you should read it if you haven’t). The designer (creator? author? maker? I really should’ve run this by her), Keilah Keiser is back with another very cool post. Read her intro and then be sure to click the link at the end of the post. I might quibble a bit with some of the reasoning behind the picks — but there are some great books featured in this project. Great design work, too. I’m babbling — read what Keiser had to say instead.

Books give writers the freedom to express their unique world views so they may share them with the rest of the world. Since before 1000 C.E. up until the modern age of the early 2000s, a select few titles continue to be read worldwide.

Their ideas have a lasting impact because they challenge political thought, scientific research, faith, and philosophical themes. These writers continued to pen their thoughts in their work even if it meant that they crossed the line for what was considered socially acceptable throughout history. At times, their books put their own lives in danger, because they were that special and unheard of by others.

John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” cemented the foundation of new liberalism, Upton Sinclair exposed the meatpacking industry working conditions, and Malcolm X commemorated his legacy to civil rights.

To celebrate these authors and their iconic works, Largest put together this list of books that have made the largest impact around the world. And if you haven’t already, be sure to put them on the top of your reading list. Prepare yourself to explore each of these writers’ groundbreaking ideas. Discover why they’re each unique in their own way, and why they’ll continue to be read in the future. Crack open the pages and get reading.