Rachel McAdams: Who Do You Love?

rachel-mcadams-gets-new-boyfriend (2)In such a PC world as this, do people still have ‘pin-up girls’? Can one even still use the word ‘pin-up girl’? I don’t know, and truthfully, I don’t care! I do, but I don’t. I think most people can relate to that, right?

I don’t actually know what a ‘pin-up girl’ really is! To me, a pin-up girl is someone that you admire, perhaps adore, look up to, aspire to be, or see something in them that you’d like to be like, have, or want.

We’ve been so confined, constricted, and constipated by being seen to ‘do and say the right thing’, but what is right and what is wrong?  Where are the true role models that can lead the way?

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is looking.”

John Wooden

My confession, if you hadn’t already guessed, my ‘pin-up girl’ is Rachel McAdams (did the photo give it away?) I don’t know that much about her, but from what I’ve seen, and what I feel, is that she’s a very grounded, normal, smart, attractive, and committed person. All traits I aspire to have! I think and dream of meeting her – and I’m certain I will – I don’t know how, but that’s not up to me! But I know when we meet it will be such a normal meeting, like old friends that knew each other years ago, but we mis-recognised each other!

For me, Rachel McAdams is the essence of who I feel I am meant to be with. I can’t make her love me, and I can’t love her without feeling her energy, but I’d like to. How on Earth are celebrities allowed to date? Isn’t our talent enough! We are not gods! Leave us alone! But we don’t want to be alone!!!

Golly! That was a big confession…

A-hem!

So, back on track… Who do YOU love? Have you started with loving yourself? Aren’t you good enough? You are. Give yourself a hug, or better still, give someone close to you a hug – now! Didn’t work? Perhaps your dream or ‘pin-up’ is as extreme as mine. Maybe you have to ask yourself, “What kind of a person do you have to become to attract them to you?”

Don’t Put People On Pedestals

There is only ONE person you should compare yourself to: The Person You Were Yesterday. The wonderful thing about this world is that everyone is equal: we were all born, we will all die, we all have choice… Ah! Here’s where the ‘rub’ comes…! In a year that SHOULD be celebrating equality, it should be celebrating WORLD PEACE.

IMAGINE if all the people in the world, just for one minute, (one second!) stopped thinking what they were thinking, stopped doing what they were doing, and actually contemplated WORLD PEACE, thought about happiness, thought about YOU being happy, thought about, “How do I want to feel LOVE?”

What would the world look like? Brandson knows… Elon knows… Warren knows… Gates knows… Facebook-bloke knows… Amazon-bloke knows…

Anthony and Rachel’s World

In OUR world, we live in abundance… and we share it!

I have enough, and you can have food…

I have more than enough, and you can have a proper education…

I have water, and you can have clean water…

I have love, and I am the world.

 

INTERVIEW: Vanessa Champion – Documentary Photographer

vanessa-champion-photographer-press-image-2b
Photographer, Vanessa Champion

A slight break with convention from my Writers’ Interviews here… But keeping with the same creative vein, a photographer: Vanessa Champion.

I was fortunate enough to meet Vanessa (‘Ness’) back in mid-February for a headshot shoot for my acting portfolio (more images here) and was immediately taken by her charm, her easy-to-work-with professionalism, and her aura. It was like I had met a long lost soul and was catching up on old news. It seemed obvious that I should do an interview. Ness is a fascinating lady, a talented lady – with oodles of modesty thrown in for good measure (which is why I haven’t edited ANYTHING out!) – and I’m honoured that she is now one of my close friends.

Without further ado… Vanessa Champion, in her own words…

Technology has changed over the years, do you have a preference over digital or ‘old school’, and why? 

I started life working with film cameras. My early sales were just with a little Olympus, and one could argue it’s the photographer not the camera which makes the image, but maybe I won’t bang on about that here (I can waffle and write for England!). I can’t stress enough the importance and value of having worked with a medium that MAKES you THINK before you press the shutter. With film, you have to think, frame, think, focus, think, expose, as every time you press the button, it costs money. When I started earning money as a “jobbing” photographer, I used to buy a 36 exposure film, shoot 24 for the client and keep the rest for me to shoot. I did a Roliflexdeal with my supplier and printer, so my client paid for 24 and wasn’t out of pocket I hasten to add (I didn’t shaft them!). I learnt in subsequent years, that Cartier-Bresson did just that, he would be commissioned by Life Magazine and shoot most of the rolls for them and keep some frames for himself to shoot. When I did make the move to digital, I still shot with that slow and considered way, and still do. I find myself firing off more during portrait sessions, but that’s more to put subject at ease than lack of framing. Am converting from slapper flapper Nikon (the loud “clack you hear when photographers press the shutter) to the silent Fuji mirrorless system, which is perfect for the theatre, opera and TV still work I do. Actually Fujifilm gave me a load of singleuse cameras (you know those throwaway ones you often get at weddings) to teach former street kids in Uganda how to document their lives. Was really interesting to see how they started thinking and framing, they REALLY understood the value of each photo. Am producing a book of their work to help raise money for much needed beds for the kids out there. Tough lives.

Vanessa ChampionYou have been described as a ‘documentary photographer’, can you expand on what this means to you?

I story-tell. When I shoot, I see stories. That might seem obvious when I’m shooting an opera or a theatrical piece, but I see the same when I’m shooting a corporate event, I watch interaction, reaction, timing, personality and try and capture the energy and rhythm of the moment. I shoot for NGOs in Africa and Asia, the same thing, I look and see the stories and time my capture with the heartbeat of the story unfolding infront of me. Sometimes I do feel like a sniper!

Do you have a ‘wish list’ of subjects you’d still like to shoot, and why?

Adam Ant, the former President of Uruguay…  – the reason? Character, I love character. Also a road trip up South America, to document the music, food, people, artisans, workers. I’m working on some personal projects, WWI Ulysses (an installation piece of a soldier in a WWI trench, with music and soundscape), plus a series of sportspeople and well, there’s quite a bit in the pipeline I’m building!

photoaidYou wear many hats, as you’re not just a photographer, you are editor of a newspaper, and do a lot of charity work. How did this all come about and how to you juggle so many things?

Not sure how it’s all happened. Have been very lucky, have put in some long hours (hate to think sometimes just how many!) and have been blessed with some terrific clients who have given me opportunities. Being an academic first, I think, makes you a solution finder, a researcher. I love solving problems and helping fix things. And really, that’s all business is about, having a “problem, product, idea” and needing a solution to “fix, sell, make happen”. I just utilise the years of research experience and deliver. I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, am working on it though… Photography has always been there, it’s the creative thread that holds my world together.

If you were not able to do the things you do, what would do instead?

I love music, so I’d love to be Ray Charles with the voice of Aretha Franklin (fix it for me, Ant!).

MumbaiDo you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

Photograph, photograph, photograph. And then shoot some more. Find your genre, create your style and most importantly LOVE what you shoot.

I know you’ve recently returned from Mumbai, what else is on the horizon for the rest of 2015?

I was documenting the work of one of the NGOs I work with, “Born to be Beautiful” in Mumbai, which teaches impoverished women beauty skills they can then use to earn money and slowly gain value within their community and therefore try to stop the endless cycle of violence and fear.  I am founder of PhotoAid Global, and we are running a course in extreme PhotoJournalism this year (theory and practical), plus sponsoring a photojournalism award with the Art Gemini Prize, with an exhibition at the Menier Gallery, London. To enter click here… Plus I’m writing three books, one of which is an entry level “how to photograph your crafts”, a book on British Heritage Artisans (coffee table photography book), plus a book on Cuthbert Orde who drew the pilots of Fighter Command in 1940. Am putting together another couple for the NGOs I work with, but that’s alongside the day job. Hoping to head into France, and maybe off to Ethiopia with the lovely NGO I work closely with, PENHA  (Pastoralist and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa), it’s the 25th Anniversary this year, so watch out for an exhibition of the images I shot with the pastoralist nomads in Uganda as part of their Silver anniversary (some of the images have already been in Venice as part of the Biennale).

Anything else you’d care to add…?

Some recent work on www.vanessachampion.co.uk love to hear from anyone who reads this. Much love and thanks, Ant.

Unfortunately this article isn’t long enough to give Ness the words to say ALL she’d really like to say, but she’s very approachable, and doesn’t bite (hard!) so check out more of her wonderful work: Vanessa Champion Website.

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The Shepherd Cover ArtANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD  is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance. Most recently you can see him back on the sets of films and in front of the modelling camera again.

Birthday Reflections

Happy Birthday Cake 004AS MY BIRTHDAY rapidly approaches, it is my habit to reflect upon the past 12 months and give thanks, make adjustments where necessary, make amends where due, and dream up new and exciting plans for the next 12 months.

TRAVEL

I am continually thankful for the fantastic opportunities that I experience in this life. Last year involved a lot of travel – some planned, some not. I was fortunate enough to spend a few months in Costa Rica and meet many, many wonderful people from around the world. Hopefully one day I shall return and see some of my great, new friends once more. It was in Costa Rica where I was finally able to release a lot of emotional baggage and ties to the past, and reconnect to the free spirit and lonely child in the depths of my soul.

Canada was an unplanned experience, but the ‘wanderlust’ had grabbed me. It was a great counterpart to my experiences in America, and I had an interesting time there, but I doubt very much I could ever call Canada ‘home’ –  the people are warm, but the climate is far, far too cold!

PATTERNS & CHANGE

Throughout my life, I notice reoccurring patterns. No matter how hard I try to push in a different direction, my passions (and what I’ve come to believe are my destinies) keep pulling me back to where I am happiest and most content. England was also an unplanned destination… homeward bound after 15 years… a perceived backwards move…?

My country of birth has changed much since I’ve been away, mostly politically, and not for the better! Europe appears to have strong-armed its way into most, if not all of our legislation… I think there is even a European mandate on the correct way to have a ‘stiff upper lip’! It did not feel like the country I left behind before the millennium.

Tara's Folly
Tara’s Folly

It was wonderful to connect with family and old friends from long ago. An early experience, and something I’d always wanted to try, was to thatch a roof for some dear friends of mine who were building a summer house castle in their backyard! In England we call such things ‘follies’.

Although I had no intention of staying, so many of my friends and family lamented the fact that I had given up on my childhood dream of becoming a professional actor. I hadn’t given up on it, merely shelved it for a more suitable time, in fact I had been quite successful before I emigrated to the US, back in the late 90s..

NEW EXPERIENCES

Being open to new things, and relaxing into being led where life wanted me (getting out of my own way!) it’s been a fantastic final sprint to the finish line. Although it took quite a bit of effort to raise the money I needed to get headshots for my new acting career, step one of the professional process started well. I’m currently batting four-for-four: four auditions, four castings! In the past month I have appeared as the lead, or co-lead in three short, student films, which will help with step two of the process: getting my showreel together. And in May, I begin shooting my first indie feature film.

Two new books were published late last year (“The Shepherd” and “49q? The Enigma Continues”), and I have three more in the pipeline. I really does feel like I have landed right back in the happiest times of my life, back when I was last here as a freelance actor and writer! With more life experiences under my belt, and many, many more new talents, especially concerning business ownership, I feel supremely confident in the outcome of the next twelve months.

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

An old friend of mine plans to produce a play I wrote in my early 20s and enter it into the Lewisham Festival in November – naturally, I shall be co-starring.

On the business front, I have partnered with a new actor friend who runs ‘factually inaccurate tours of London’ (www.bullshitlondon.com) Drawing upon my past experience, not only will I be conducting tours later this year, but will be helping expand the business in new and exciting ways, and possibly creating some form of licensing program to develop other cities. Another ‘blast from the past’ friend – a highly successful business coach and self-development guru – offers an opportunity to indulge my love of helping people fulfill their true potential.

There are still many old friends I have yet to hook up with, but that’s all planned for this new year. It has been a really wonderful twelve months, and I have no regrets. As to thoughts, ideas, and plans for the next year…?

Don’t confuse confidence and happiness with arrogance when I say it is my fullest intent to be paid to appear in a feature film later this year. I will have an agent, and I will continue to help all those I come into contact with, as is my nature.

REFLECTIVE WORDS OF GUIDANCE

I’ll try not to sound too preachy here, but I really want others to benefit from the wonderful life experiences I have gained.

Take time to be quiet and calm, and connect with life around you. Do your best to find your true place in the world – don’t strive for something that doesn’t resonate, instead ‘feel’ where you should be and what you should be doing. Have confidence in your ‘true’ self, don’t let other people’s opinions or comments wrongly influence what your heart is telling you is right. Don’t sell your life for the mere attainment of money to attempt to buy back your happiness. Instead, choose to be happy in all things – be selfish (in the true sense of the word) and know that ALL of your real friends want only one thing for you: Happiness. Focus on what makes you fully happy, and the world around you will change for the better!

 

In happiness, joy, and love, I thank each and everyone of you!

 

*** CROWDFUNDING RESEARCH ***

Bullshit London CollageHi folks! Your help is need in a little bit of early research into a crowdfunding project I am hoping to launch in about 30 – 45 days time.

I have the fantastic opportunity to be involved with a brilliant, new actor pal of mine (Reuben) who devised an awesome, alternative London walking tour (www.bullshitlondon.com) back in 2013. I am rigorously learning the script as we speak…!

Together we hope to expand the business opportunity in many new and fun ways to create a wonderful new platform to help other actors earn a ‘dignified’ wage, whilst ‘resting’ and looking for acting work.

We haven’t established a monetary target as yet, but here are a few things you can help us with at this stage:

1. Would you consider donating to our crowdfunding appeal? (a pound or a dollar all adds up!) You don’t have to state how much you’d be prepared to offer at this stage, just a tentative yes or no is fine.

2. What sort of rewards/ incentives would entice you to offer more? Limited edition T-shirts (autographed!) posters, free tours, advertising… a tour dedicated in your honor… that sort of thing.

3. Would you help out with promotion and marketing – retweeting, sharing, commenting, liking the upcoming FB page, blogging, etc. Simple yes or no.

4. If you can’t help in any of the ways above, do you know of any workers/ offices in London that would like to book a private tour? (please add details below, or send them our website)

A HUGE thank you for reading all of this, I know you are all busy people, and we really appreciate any and all input. Please either email me (ant@bullshitlondon.com) and/ or add your comments below.

PLEASE share and tweet this link to your page.

Bullshit London Tours

Bullshit London CollageWhat an exciting weekend that was!

Whether you’re new to London or have lived here for centuries, Bullshit London Tours are sure to entertain and surprise you! I managed to piggy-back off a group of six Australian tourists that had booked an off-peak tour (main season is April – October) with our host, guide, and comic entertainer, Reuben Williams (if that name is to be believed!)

Learn who stole the clock from St Pauls… where God lives… the world’s smallest children’s prison… and much, much more…!

My favorite part had to be the guided tour of the famous Swedish soap opera film set…

As said, if you thought you knew London, think again!!!

For more details and bookings, check out their website: http://www.bullshitlondon.com/

“A tenner! This tour’s worth more than a tenner…”

“Oh, okay, here’s twenty!”

“Twenty! Twenty? Nah, nah, you have to haggle…”

If Monty Python did London tours… this might well be it.

 

SPECIAL TIP: Ask them about their special pub crawl…

 

#AUTHOR INTERVIEWS: Pat McDonald – “The Blue Woods Trilogy”

patmcdonaldWelcome to the next author interview… I have the great pleasure to introduce a very talented author, Pat McDonald. If you like intelligent crime fiction, this trilogy will have you hooked from book one. Imaginative characters and absorbing plot lines. If any of my production company chums are reading this, I think these would make excellent TV drama… But enough high praise, let me allow Pat to tell things in her own words:

 

  1. Your background is law enforcement. At what point in your career did you start thinking about writing a crime novel?

Writing is all I have ever wanted to do from when I wrote poetry and short stories as a teenager, it was my ambition to return to creative writing when I finished my career of which the latter part was spent in law enforcement. After seventeen years immersed in that arena it was inevitable that I should begin there although it wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened. Perhaps it was a need to download much of what my head contained and then leave it behind.

patmcdonaldbookI had a wealth of experience that I have used as a framework in which to allow my imagination to run riot. Inspiration for my books comes from my observations of the real world, which I think is reflected in them. The world is full of inexplicable phenomena and extraordinary people and provides me with sufficient material to allow my imagination to take it and ask ‘what if’ in those circumstances this was to happen. Just a twist can take something ordinary and make you wonder at it. I do think, however, that I have some deep recesses of my mind where lurks a murky pool of things to draw upon!

  1. You’re now on your third novel, do you find it is becoming easier to write or harder, and why?

I only intended to write one crime novel and as a ‘free flow’ writer my stories just pour out, so much so that I find it hard to end something I’m doing. This is why I have begun my crime fiction with a trilogy. I usually find I have more than one ending which leaves me with a cliff-hanger and a carryover plot – it is after all a potential real life series and real life doesn’t neatly fit most of our everyday time lines. I did manage to end the trilogy, although it would lend itself to a series if ever I chose to return to it. I would say that writing has perhaps become easier, although I would prefer ‘better’, sufficiently to try out something else.

  1. patmcdonaldbook2Do you draw on any specific experiences in your law enforcement career? Can you elaborate?

I haven’t taken any of the actual crimes from my experiences, but rather the setting and the process of law enforcement. However, I deliberately set it earlier than present day because some of the things I write about would not be allowed to happen today. My imagination can take a potential view of the ‘ordinary’ and turn it into something else entirely. Although my books are set within an imaginary police force, they also encompass the lives of the officers involved and the villains they have to deal with; sometimes the two become so fused that it is hard to separate them. My books are fiction with a real edge. They present characters and scenarios that I hope reflect reality, but the kind that doesn’t end in happy ever after – well real life doesn’t does it?

  1. If you couldn’t write in the crime genre, what would be your next choice and why?

My current work in progress is a move away from crime to a different genre. My Y.A paranormal thriller Breaking Free is about stalking and is set in the North of Wales, UK. It has a hint of historical W.W 1 drama that is surprisingly haunting! One of the characters in Getting Even escapes from the clutches of the bad Detective Chief Inspector and although he pursues her she drops out of the plot. I wanted to find out what happened to her, so I pick up the story when she returns to a small but close community in North Wales. I wanted to explore how someone could ‘lose’ themselves and to examine further about stalking and its outcome. I have recently found my ending to this story and am working the plot towards that end.

  1. What are the elements of writing you love and dislike the most?

I am a ‘free flow’ writer and as such do not plan my books. I sit with a blank page and allow the stories to develop as I write. I found this method surprising when I began, but love it and believe it works for me as a creative story teller. When I begin to write the next chapter or sub-chapter I have no idea what I am about to write. I love more than anything developing the characters that I create and imagine myself as each one whilst writing their particular chapter or sub-chapter. I love ‘oddball’ characters; describing and developing them gives me great pleasure. P.C Hugo Bott is a particular favourite and the most unlikely police officer who enters at Rogue Seed; he is a legend in his own police force for being in the right place at the right time and despite his communication limitations is a successful crime fighter or is he? I believe that most writers dislike the editing process the most; getting a book polished sufficiently for publication I found the hardest part of being a writer. But then my first book Getting Even is a lengthy one. I did however improve as the trilogy progressed and learnt how to reduce that, which may be why after publishing Boxed Off in December 2014 even that process began to become enjoyable!

  1. patmcdonaldbook3If you could offer one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, or someone considering writing a novel, what would that be?

I think that every writer will be different and I do have my own way of doing things. I would and do advise writers just to write. I tell them to stop trying to conform to a preconceived set of ‘rules for writers’, which I believe stifles creativity. Let it flow as you think it, give reign to your thoughts, ideas and imagination. I do speak out about people who write books and articles on how you should write, what words you shouldn’t use and a whole gamut of advice on the destruction of the adverb, because I believe it frustrates and destroys genuine expression. Think about your story and be true to it; you conceived it because you wanted to tell it, so concentrate on how you imagine it could proceed and end. Your style and way of writing is as valid as anyone else’s. If we all conformed to the one set of rules it would be like writing to a formula – how boring would that be for literature? Ask yourself though, is there more than one ending? There is nothing worse than reading a book and finding yourself disappointed by the ending. But at the end of the day it is YOUR story, so be true to yourself – how would you want it to end with a ‘bang’ or a ‘whimper’?

British Crime Author Pat McDonald lives in a rural part of the Midlands, United Kingdom. She previously worked as a researcher, project manager and programme manager in the NHS and in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. She is now a full time novelist. Her crime trilogy (nicknamed ‘The Blue Woods Trilogy’ because of an over active imagination at disposal of bodies!) consists of Getting Even: Revenge is best served cold, Rogue Seed and newly published Boxed Off.

Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pat-McDonald/e/B00R372WK4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1424778904&sr=1-2-ent

Author Website: http://t.co/ImQ9ZT2ZbZ

Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pat-Mcdonald/502374626484358?ref=bookmarks

Twitter: Pat McDonald @issyblack

 

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The Shepherd Cover ArtANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD  is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance. Most recently you can see him back on the sets of films and in front of the modelling camera again.

#AUTHOR INTERVIEWS: Jason Black “Titan Fleet: Invictus”

WELCOME to another author interview, this time with new writer, Jason Black, author of TITAN FLEET: INVICTUS, a great, new scifi fantasy set in outerpace.

 

AuthorPicHalfYour debut novel, TITAN FLEET: INVICTUS, was inspired by the death of your Mother, could you elaborate on how this was inspirational for you?

I have always written stories and poems, since I was small, as I was always alone as a child and only had my imagination as company, but I never finished anything, and growing up, I would start new projects, and never finish them.  My Mum and Dad would always joke with me about that fact.  I really enjoyed writing the stories, however, I never really had the confidence to share that part of me with anyone else, apart from my Mum, who was also very talented with artistic things.  After my Mum passed away in August 2013, I realised what a huge gap she had left in my life, and I needed to fill that gap.  I had promised her, jokingly, that I would actually finish something one day, but now this promise became extremely important to me, as I believe a promise should always be kept.  When my Dad passed on to me my Mum’s laptop, I found a new lease of life, and began to go back to the places I had once walked before in my imagination.  This time with a goal to actually finish a book, and to share it with others.  My Mum was always giving, and always bringing a smile to someone’s face, which is what I hope to do with my books. I am very much my mother’s son.

Where do you gain the inspiration for your main characters from?

Although my inspiration for sci-fi comes from a lot of years of watching sci-fi programs, Star Trek, Buck Rogers, Star Wars, Blake 7, etc., the inspiration for my main characters is not based on any one person.  For example, my inspiration for Megan is just the fact that I wanted a strong, independent woman to be really, more an inspiration for the reader, than anything else.  I believe women can be strong and beautiful at the same time, be compassionate and also tough.  And the same goes for men, they can be tough, strong, authoratative, rugged, but also at the same time, loving and caring and supportive.  These things are a good basis for any character I believe, and I hope this gives the reader something to connect with, and hope for maybe.  I also liked the mixture of different personalities working together with their differences towards the same goal.

imagecourtesyfrontYour genre is science fiction-fantasy, if you couldn’t write in that genre, what other genre would you write in and why?

I have started a fantasy book for the younger readers, but I also have several outlines for horror books in mind.  I really enjoyed writing the latter chapters in Titan Fleet: The Invictus, without giving anything away, where a different side to my writing came out, and I would like to explore this more in future books. My wife, and several others, have told me that chapter 81 is one of the best chapters in the book, and I’m looking forward to scaring them more in the future.

Can you give us a hint at what to expect in your first novel, please.

Titan Fleet: The Invictus is set in space, and it follows Pace on his first command, along with his first officer, Megan Frost.  Their mission turns into something a lot more than they expected and they are forced, not only to save themselves and their new crew, but also their planets population, from two evils.  It is fast paced, with plenty of action, not too techy, with a little bit of something for everyone.  Some romance, big space battles, aliens, conspiracy, horror.  I’m sure everyone would enjoy it, regardless of what genre they are into.

If you could give any advice to novice and aspiring authors, what would you suggest?

Just Write It!  You think you can’t do it, you think you don’t have the time, but you can and you do.  Just believe in yourself.  You just have to find your voice and your style, everyone is different.  Plan your writing time.  Make an appointment with yourself to set that time apart.  I have something I call my Sparks book, in which I jot down ideas (or bright sparks!).  I write down my plot outline, every single detail of each character, and have drawings of the ships, place names and descriptions, anything that helps you build your story world in your mind.  Then just write it, make no excuses.

Are you reading anything right now, if so, what is it and why?

I am reading Hollowland by Amanda Hocking.  I originally saw Amanda on Youtube talking about getting started and how indie publishing worked for her.  She inspired me to push forward with my book when I had writers block.  I enjoy zombie films and books, so it was a no brainer for me. (Pardon the pun!)

Thank you for participating in this interview, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just that it was very kind of you to ask to interview me, and I am always open to answering questions from readers or potential readers. 🙂

 

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The Shepherd Cover ArtANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD  is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance.

 

 

#AUTHOR INTERVIEWS: Brian Connell “Msomi And Me”

WELCOME to another author interview, this time with an exciting adventure writer, Brian Connell, who was born in Kenya and spent most of his youth with famous wildlife photographers and film makers. He built and ran a game lodge for many years, and is a huge advocate for wildlife protection. His two books, “Msomi & Me” and “Elephants Are People Too” make exciting reading for both adults and children.

Here’s what he has to say:

Author Brian Connell
Author Brian Connell

“Having been brought up in East Africa, in the company of some of the greatest wild-life photographers and film-makers the world has ever seen, it was only natural for me to attach a camera to myself and follow in their illustrious footsteps. I am by no means in their league, but the lessons I learnt from them has, in my humble opinion, led me to make some worthwhile images.

Taking photographic skills and a love of the bush, I started a bush-camp in the middle of nowhere with the intention of running photographic workshops in the wilderness of Africa. For seven years I had an absolute ball, enjoying a lifestyle that few have ever experienced. My mentor, Msomi, and I lived in close proximity to the wildlife; learning, teaching and above all: living!
This collection of anecdotes will give you, the reader, a fair idea of what living in paradise is all about. Interspersed in the text are a number of stories that I have collected during my travels – myths and legends and wonderful stories from Africa. While having little to do with life in a game lodge, they show a side of Africa that few people know about. I hope you enjoy them – I do.”

Acquiring, building, and running a game lodge in Africa must take up a lot of time, however did you manage to find the time to write your books?
Quite correct. Running the lodge was extremely time consuming, but a tremendously fulfilling experience. By no stretch of the imagination could it be called ‘work’. I unwisely formed a partnership with an aquaintance who skipped with all the cash and some of the assets, forcing me to sell up and leave the lodge just to try and stay out of debt. As it was, I ended up owing the banks an absolute fortune. The books were written quite a while after the devasating loss of the lodge, suggested by a good friend as a way of getting over the pain. It worked, to a degree.
There must be lots of adventure in your experiences growing up, how did you decide what to include and what to omit in your stories?

I was brought up in Kenya, in the company of many of the wild-life greats. Armand and Michaela Denis, Alan and Joan Root, Des and Jen Bartlett to name a few. It was their influence that engendered my abiding love of the wilderness. The stories in the books are solely experiences we had while at Nokuthula, my game lodge.

Do you think you missed out on anything important by growing up in East Africa? If so, what in particular, and how do you think you would be different for it?

I probably did miss out on a lot of important stuff, but each individual has his or her own idea about what constitutes ‘important stuff’. I was too busy having fun, adventure and excitement traveling around with my film-maker friends to worry too much about was going on politically, or even socially.  This desire to be in the bush as often as possible resulted in losing out in the girlfriend stakes and becoming a bit of a loner. On the plus side though, it exposed me to people from all religions, colours and social strata, making me tolerant of all and better person for it.

10749918_592661784195430_5264524405469079307_oWhat was your favourite book as a child and why?

I was, and remain, a voracious reader, but if any one book has to be singled out, it is Jock of the Bushveld. It really made me wish I had been born into a much earlier time.

Is there an element of writing you dislike or find challenging? How do you overcome it?

I have a well-known sense of humour and am able to find the funny side of virtually any situation. This trait comes over well in my books, but it is patently obvious, when writing about poaching, for instance, that my emotions are running wild. My writing style tends to change a bit, something my readers have commented on. The only way to overcome that sort of challenge is to write it as if I was speaking aloud, warts and all, and let the emotion flow. Writing about man’s inhumanity to animals is the most challenging and emotional experience for me.

Do you have any tips or advise for new authors and writers?

I write about my personal experiences, so it’s perhaps a bit easier than writing a novel. I tend to day-dream a bit, telling myself stories in my head and let my sub-conscious work away at it for a while. Then write! Let it flow., and it will! Let the words appear, disregarding good grammar or ‘correct’ sentence structure. You can always go back and edit. But above all, don’t be shy to display your emotions if writing about something dear to your heart.

Would you like to add anything?

My books tell stories of Africa, a place of mystery and adventure even today. But Africa’s wildlife is in dire straits with the terrible poaching epidemic currently underway. I would plead with anyone who has a heart and a sense of adventure to read my books, get a feel for the wonders of living in the bush and doing everything they can to help out.

 

Click on any of the pictures above to access Brian’s website, and please share this interview with your friends. Together we can all do our part to help protect the dwindling wildlife around the world that is being cruelly slain illegally. Once the wildlife is gone, there won’t be any more!

 

 

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49q hard coverANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for both children and adults. His elaborate first novel 49Q? THE ENIGMA CONTINUES is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance.

 

 

#Author Interviews: Simon Largo – “The Storm Slayer”

stormslayer-largo-ebookWELCOME to interview three in my author series. Today I have the pleasure of introducing Simon Largo, author of THE STORM SLAYER, a slick, crime thriller released last week:

 

  1. From your bio on your website, it looks like you started by writing screenplays. What made you choose that medium first and not jump straight into writing novels? 

Well I always loved the idea of either producing a film or being a film director. Then I realised that was going to be a tough call, so decided to try my hand at writing screenplays instead. I found the creative aspect fun and it pushed my imagination as I was writing them on spec. The idea of writing a full length novel at the time was too daunting! I was so lucky to have been signed by an agent early on, but thought that was it. When success didn’t follow I almost gave up. 

  1. Did ‘The Storm Slayer’ start off as a movie script idea? If it didn’t, what was your inspiration?

In my mind it was a movie, for sure. But I had been reading so many great thriller novels over the last couple of years, especially Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, I thought why not turn it into a novel as a break through idea as trying to sell a screenplay with no track record is very hard indeed. However maybe I will sell the movie rights for my debut novel or one the follow ups – that would be fantastic. At least if I was asked to assist or even write the screenplay, I know I could do that with my experience.

  1. What made you use New York City as the location for your novel?
Author of The Storm Slayer, Simon Largo
Author of The Storm Slayer, Simon Largo

Well I’ve been there a couple of times over the years and it’s like most movies I watch seem to be set there! It was a natural choice. The place is so alive. The crime thriller genre was made to be immersed into NY culture and its environment in my view.

  1. Where do you gain the inspiration for your main characters from?

The movies where else! For my lead character, Detective Mason Trent, in The Storm Slayer, I was inspired by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry and Steve McQueen in Bullitt. Both absolute classic films. I liked the portrayal of Eastwood and McQueen in character for their nuances, toughness and also their emotional traits. I guess Mason Trent is a hybrid of them both.

  1. If you could give any advice to novice and aspiring authors, what would you suggest?

Don’t give up! I haven’t. I almost think it better to write as a mature writer as you have a lot of life experience which can help in character development and story narrative.

  1. Are you reading anything right now, if so, what is it and why?

The Innocent by Rachel Abbott – not a new book, but only recently discovered her works following something I came across on a blog by NY Times bestselling author, Joanna Penn (www.thecreativepenn.com). The book is a good crime thriller. The murderer in this case is a woman. You know that after the first few pages, so not giving anything away really. Rachel went for the self publishing route and ended up selling 400,000 copies of that first book. Inspiring for any indie author.

  1. Thank you for participating in this interview, is there anything else you’d like to add?

If you are a new writer, or aspiring to be one, do it! Life is too short to always think if only. I wish all my fellow authors the best of luck in 2015.

For more information about the official release date of his debut novel, check out Simon’s website: www.simonlargo.com

 

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49q hard coverANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His first novel 49Q? THE ENIGMA CONTINUES is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance.

 

 

#Author Interviews: Mistral Dawn – “Taken By The Huntsman”

WELCOME to the second in my author interview series. A new, up-and-coming author today, Mistral Dawn – a pen name as intriguing as her romantic fantasies! Her debut novel, Taken by the Huntsman is doing well on Amazon, but first a few words from the pen-mistress herself:

 

  1. “Taken by the Huntsman” is a fantasy romance novel. Have you always written in this genre or did you evolve into this?

Taken By The Huntsman is my first novel.  The book I’m working on now is the second one in the series, so it’s also a fantasy romance novel.  Before Taken By The Huntsman my writing was mostly limited to school papers and letters of complaint. 😉

  1. Where do you gain the inspiration for your main characters from, people you know or your imagination?

TakenbytheHuntsman AmazonWell, The inspiration for Taken By The Huntsman came from a dream I had after a rather spirited debate with an online friend about the nature of consent (and some other political issues I won’t bore you with).  When I woke up I thought about the dream and realized it might make an interesting story (as well as provide me with a soap box 😉 ).  I texted a friend and asked her if she thought the idea had merit.  She said she did and so I wrote the first couple of chapters and emailed them to her asking her to read them and tell me if she was bored yet.  She was kind enough to say that she wasn’t bored and that she’d like to read the rest of the story, so I wrote it.  The ideas for the next few books and short stories came from characters who came to me and told me that they deserved a story too, and it was my job to write them.  So I will! 🙂

  1. What do you find the hardest part of writing a novel is, and how do you overcome it?

The hardest and easiest part of writing was the sex scenes.  OMG! They were so much fun to write! After all, who wouldn’t enjoy letting their wildest fantasies run wild through their head? 😉  But sometimes it’s hard to rein them back in to the realm of the possible.  Also, I’m a woman so I’ve never made love as a man.  What do men think about during sex?  How does it feel to them?  How, exactly, does one make love to a woman?  These are all important questions!  And has anyone ever noticed that many men have difficulty expressing feelings in words?  I need input people! 😉

  1. If you could give any advice to novice and aspiring authors, what would you suggest?

I’m very new to writing, so I don’t know that I’m the best qualified person to give others advice.  Someone told me to read a lot and write what you feel.  Maybe that will help others as well. 🙂

  1. Are you reading anything right now, if so, what is it and why?

At the moment I’m reading Seed by db nielsen. Seed was chosen as the first book being read by the #IndieBookBeSeen GoodReads book club.  Congratulations db! 🙂

  1. Thank you for participating in this interview, is there anything else you’d like to add?

You’re welcome, and thank you for having me Anthony! I’d just like to tell my readers:  Thank you so much for reading my book!!  I appreciate the fact that you’ve given your time and your money to experience my work; it humbles me that you have been willing to do so.  I value all of your feedback, both good and bad, because it can only make me a better writer and help me create a better product for you to enjoy.  So thank you, as far as I’m concerned you’re totally awesome! And please keep those reviews coming! 🙂

 

To keep abreast of Mistral Dawn and her future publications, check out her own blog here:  http://www.mistralkdawn.blogspot.com

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49q hard coverANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His first novel 49Q? THE ENIGMA CONTINUES is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance.