Humor

A Stitch in Time

A Stitch in Time - Ian Murray-Watson

I had a lot of fun reading this book. 

Isn't that enough of a review? There are very few books that just leave me feeling like I've taken a relaxing and enjoyable vacation from life. I smiled, laughed, and overall just really enjoyed the plot, characters, and Ian Murray-Watson's writing style. 

I think that the best way to read this book, in order to ensure optimal enjoyment, is to just sit back and let the author take you for a ride. Set aside your rational and linear way of thinking and trust the author to see you safely to the conclusion of the book. 

I really can't recommend this book enough, especially if you're feeling overly stressed or have just been taking life too seriously lately. This book will leave you feeling happy and refreshed - at least, that's what it did for me!


Some Bio Information

I’m a retired ancient – not quite as old as Grandfather Time yet but swaying alarmingly in the wind – who gets a lot of fun out of writing silly stories.

I’ve been, variously, a teacher, a researcher (political and otherwise), an amateur jockey, a musician, a software writer and a chocolatier (and probably a few more things I’ve forgotten). I’m far too well educated for my own good, and I get bored easily.

I live in the depths of Herefordshire with wife and dog. I enjoy playing the piano, walking, gardening, eating (when I can remember to take my pills), visits from my sons and grandchildren, and going everywhere and anywhere to hear opera (it’s often cheaper to go to Amsterdam, Paris or Berlin – even Australia - than to go to London) – and, of course, long discussions about the nature of Reality with anybody who can understand what on earth I’m talking about.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book?

Fun, basically. The desire to take some crazy ideas (dream people are real, the physics of the dream world is consistent and quantum-like) and see where they lead.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I need to be in the right mood (silly), which fortunately I am most of the time. Then I just set the characters off and see what happens. I don't write to the plot, which tends to develop in unexpected directions as I scribble (or, in this case, type). I write scenes and sections and then fit them together.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work?

Lunatics? Seriously, ppl do need to have some appreciation of the developments in physics, though only at popular TV program level, and understand that the question of reality and consciousness is a crucial one. Then they may find some interesting, as well as silly, ideas. In practice, and surprisingly, I find that the book appears to appeal most to my generation, perhaps because they are fairly well educated and 'get' the cultural references and jokes. Having said that, I've found people who have none of these attributes enjoy the book simply as a story.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

I think the above says most of it. Fun, a good story, intellectual challenge maybe. Some of the ideas which appear to be very tongue-in-cheek are actually quite serious, but I'm not admitting which ones. (The sequel, or since there's no time in Astralia, maybe the prequel, is even madder)

5) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Goodness knows. I've never thought about it. Maybe Mouse (the family dog in an Elizabeth Goodge trilogy), or Miss Marple? My taste is not terribly highbrow.

6) How would you describe your writing style? 

It can be described?  I might say something like plodding with an occasional shaft of wit, and hope that other people might be kinder.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?

At my age (70), the next breakfast. Realistically, to sell a book and give people a good read

Frank Winston

Frank Winston - Jacob Power

What happens when an author combines a real life news article with a plot that fans of Grumpy Old Men would applaud?

Frank Winston by Jacob Power happens - that's what. 

This entertaining short story is a fun combination of humor and thrills as a couple of older ex-cons try to make some quick cash. 

Complete with plenty of face-palm moments, I found myself feeling quite bad for the two main characters as they have no idea what they're getting themselves into at the start of the day. 

Frank Winston was a great departure from my normal reading list. It was unique, enjoyable, and well written.


Some Bio Information

Jacob Power is a graphic designer, husband, father, and writer, but not necessarily in that order. He grew up in central Louisiana and graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in journalism. To view more samples of his writing, or graphic design work, you can visit his website JPowerDesign.com, or follow him on Twitter @PowerJacobE.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this short story? 

A friend of mine sent me a news story where two older guys were arrested for driving around in what looked like a sniper van. One of the men had some sort of connection with the New Orleans mob, and both men were denying they had any idea of the silenced .22 rifle that was in the van. As soon as I finished reading the article the movie "Grumpy Old Men" came to mind and the idea of the story was born. 

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I have a full time job, wife, three kids, and two dogs. To say I'm busy is an understatement. However, I carve out time here and there where I can. Sometimes I write late at night, sometimes I write on my lunch break. The great thing about this story was that it was extremely fun to write. Plus, I knew it was going to be a short story so that allowed me to let the story be as long or short as it wanted to be. I liked writing these two old guys, and I loved the conversations they had. I was always eager to see what was going to happen next.

Right now, I'm doing the same thing for a novel I'm working on, some writing in the morning (when I can get out of bed early enough), at lunch, and at night once the kids are in bed. I used to never plan ahead when it came to writing, but I've found that having a loose outline to keep any ideas for what could happen in the story rewarding. As I'm writing I'll keep the outline in the back of my mind like it's directions to get from point A to point B, but the ride along the way can take me anywhere.  

3. Who is your favorite character?   

Though I liked Frank, I enjoyed Winston's character more. He seemed more of the realist of the two. He was a reluctant sidekick, but as conservative as he was he wanted to be there when the action happened.                                                                                                                                       

4. How would you describe the perfect writing environment? 

I would love to have my own writing hut/shed/whatever. The idea of having a dedicated space that's not directly connected to the house, like Chuck Wendig's "Mystery Shack," sounds like the perfect place to me. I would wake up, write for a couple of hours, take a break, then work on other material I completed. I did something like this while on a trip, and loved the routine of it. I wish I could incorporate more of that now.  

5. Do you have a favorite author?  

For the longest time I was a fan of Kurt Vonnegut, and I still am to some extent. I loved his writing style and sarcasm. Now, I tend to lean more toward Dennis Lehane, or Elmore Leonard. There are authors I wish had more material out there to read, I'm talking about you Donna Tartt.              

6. How would you describe your writing style?  

I'm not sure how I would describe my writing style. I'm not a minimalist, but I don't try to ramble on for pages about how a room looks either. I realize the reader should have an idea of what certain settings should look like. A friend described my style as "packed with content/meaning in relatively little space." 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?  

I would love to be a full time novelist with at least two to three book releases a year. For the longest time I wanted to be published traditionally. I would still love to be published traditionally, but  I'm continually exploring the self publishing/indie side of getting my work out there.

I currently have a novel I'm having beta read, and hopefully self published in the near future. I also have an outline for a sequel to that book, but I'm working on another project at this time. I know there is plenty of work to be done to get to that point. I've learned there is more to being an author than just writing. It's exciting and a little scary at the same time. Even if I don't become a full time novelist then I'll still want to get my work out there in one way or another.      

Dirt Nap Rhapsody

Dirt Nap Rhapsody - Jules Cassard

I always enjoy it when authors combine genres successfully. You get the best of all your favorite types of books in one. So what do you get when you combine a murder mystery, crime thriller, romance, and humor? You get Dirt Nap Rhapsody. 

This book jumps perspectives and for the first few chapters, it takes some adjustment. But once I was able to get into the flow of how it was written, I didn't have any issues keeping up or following the change in perspectives. 

I found the characters to be amusing and endearing, the plot to be well paced, and the entire work enjoyable. I could definitely see this put into production on the stage. I think it would be quite entertaining and would provide a lot of laughs. Overall a great work -- albeit a little unpredictable. 


Some Bio Information

As a popular radio and television personality in his hometown of New Orleans, Jules Cassard knows how to tell a good story. In fact, he considers that experience as well as his seven years performing theatrically with the National Comedy Company to be at least as important to his writing abilities as his Degree in English Literature from the University of New Orleans. That may be why his satirical style of crime fiction has been described as "a unique blend of the comic and the tragic" and "the best kind of black humor." Jules Cassard is the author of several short stories such as "The Inanimates" and "A Codependent Pistol" as well as the plays "Stuck Together" and "First Impression." He lives in New Orleans with his wife and two children. "Dirt Nap Rhapsody" is his first novel.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

As a playwright I often come up with ideas for scenes, or one-act plays, without intending on expanding them beyond that. Sometimes though, an idea naturally grows bigger than that and becomes a full-length play. This was the first time one of those grew even bigger than that and became a novel.

The initial idea was of a man being led to his execution, but instead of appearing sullen or afraid, looking very content and satisfied and blowing kisses and happily waving to a mysterious figure on the other side of the two-way mirror. I wanted to know who these two people were, and suddenly that moment became an afterthought as their story came alive.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

As I suggested above I try to come up with interesting ideas and just let them exist in their best form. Sometimes the initial form I try isn’t the best one, so I write very freely at first trying to see where it goes. Often it goes nowhere, which just means it’s not finished yet, but when it goes somewhere it becomes an adventure piecing together the best possible version of the story.

For this book, I ended up cutting out the first 40 to 50 pages very deep into the process, but in a way those pages are still the most important, because without them the actual story never would have materialized.

3. Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Tough one, but I’m going with “Virginia”, the mysterious call girl from Elliot Chaze’s “Black Wings Has My Angel.” The dynamic between her and Tim Sunblade is so entertaining, and she’s such a mysterious and complex character. Her past drips out so slowly during the story that you almost feel like you’re in the author's shoes, creating a fully realized character piece by piece in your mind.
    
4. How would you describe your writing style? 

I’ve been criticized at times for not being descriptive enough, not necessarily painting a picture in the reader’s mind, and I know that there is the type of reader who craves that type of writing, but as a reader myself my pet peeve has always been having to wade through paragraphs and paragraphs of details about the colors of the walls and whatnot, and I always wanted to scream at the book “WHO CARES!!!!”

The issue was probably exacerbated by the fact that one of my favorite writers is Raymond Chandler, who can go on for pages at a time describing the scenery. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not my thing. So in the battle of the Raymonds I personally much prefer Chandler, but my writing style is more akin to Carver. Besides, I do a lot of inner monologues, and when’s the last time you thought in detail about the type of fabric on a chair in the room during an inner monologue? Exactly.

5. What’s your favorite scene that you’ve written?

From Dirt Nap Rhapsody it’s definitely the banter in the car between Tag and Lori before, during, and after Tag’s return to the scene of the crime to clean up. For some reason that dialogue just leapt out of my brain and onto the page so naturally that I wrote that entire section in one day. And the scene has stayed largely intact since the first draft. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it happens it feels great.

6. Why did you choose to write from different perspectives throughout the book?

As I mentioned earlier the idea started as a short dramatic piece, and I liked where the story was going but I kept thinking that from Tag’s naïve point of view, many of the supporting characters looked much less complex than they actually were. I knew that the main thrust of the story had to be from his point of view, but I also began to think that just because Tag was missing so much, that didn’t mean the reader had to miss it too. So I decided that I needed to give other characters a voice as well. I was murdering many of them after all, so I felt it was the least that I could do. 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

To create stories that are memorable and enjoyable to read with characters who are relatable to the reader even if some of the situations that they find themselves in are not. Also some money would be nice.