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Author Feature: Ahmad Taylor

This post is dedicated to a dear friend, a genuine person, an author who works hard and never gives up. Part of the Virtual Blog Tour for Dark Side of the Moon, I can offer you a review, an interview and a giveaway. Now, you can’t do fairer than that, I think you’ll agree. It’s like a huge chocolate sundae with chocolate wafer fingers and sprinkles on top. Tuck in.

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First, let me introduce you to Ahmad. He is a 36 year old author currently residing and writing in the heat of south Florida (I envy him hugely for that). Originally from Brooklyn, New York, his debut best-selling Sci-fi/Suspense/Thriller, Dark Side of the Moon, incorporates knowledge from his prior law enforcement career, and a vivid imagination for the intense and suspenseful.

After being a semi-finalist for The Kindle Book Review: Best Indie Book of 2012, Ahmad has begun the sequel to Dark Side, which will be released in early 2013. He is also working on a shocking Crime/Thriller which will be out mid-2013.

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Now, just so you know, I call Ahmad 24/7, or simply A. He calls me E. I guess we must have been rushed when we first tripped over each other on social media, as these abbreviated versions of our names stuck and are still in use many months later.

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Ahmad! Hello, my friend! Almost a year on since I’ve last received trustworthy intelligence on your projects, I’m planning to come out of the shadows and ask you exactly what’s new in your life (read ‘check up on you’). If you could find it in yourself to share something really exciting, like…say…any more unwanted possums you had to dispose of, or any great ‘social life’ horror stories, we’re all ears. For those of you who haven’t yet read the story, have a look here.

E! It’s a pleasure to be here with you. I love doing interviews and getting to share with new audiences, but in this case I’m a bit nervous since you know a little bit more about me than most interviewers. We’ll see if I can answer all your questions or if I have to pass any up.

1. Dark Side of the Moon is a great read, and it shows: you were a semi-finalist for The Kindle Book Review: Best Indie Book of 2012. How did that make you feel?

Honestly, I thought it was a joke at first. I was completely unaware that my book was being considered for the award and only found out when I received a congratulatory instant message from a friend. I gave the appropriate, “LOL. =) Funny!” response. They then responded with the link to the announcement of the semi-finalists. I was blown away. It was a tremendous honour. I am humble but extremely proud, as well.

2. Was it enough of a boost to ignite the fire under the sequel? I remember you were swamped in work at some stage.

It provided a slight impetus for me to start writing the sequel, but I have yet to complete the follow-up to DSOM as of yet.

3. I can see you’re working on a prequel series to Dark Side of the Moon. Not that I’m complaining, because I love the characters, but most people write ONE prequel. You’ve gone for a whole series. Care to share the thinking behind this one?

Sure. I had been toiling with the sequel, and taken several “breaks” in writing it. I even started a completely different novel just to clear my head and try and stimulate the creative juices again.

I was then having a conversation with a friend who like everyone else I speak with was asking me when the sequel was due. Since that is now my favourite question to answer, I just explained the fact that I was in the middle of it and it would be done sometime soon (my standard response to a question I don’t have an answer to). This friend then gave me the idea of a lifetime. They suggested that if I was having such a hard time tackling a full length novel why not just aim for something shorter. Now, I do not generally enjoy writing short stories, I find it difficult to limit myself to a few thousand words, but the idea seemed more feasible for me at that moment. I had also been toying with the idea of making DSOM a complete trilogy, giving it a clearer starting point than where we pick up with the characters in the central story. At this point I decided to give the short story approach a chance. I began writing book 1 of the prequel and found that it was less complicated than I had previously imagined it would be. As soon as I was finished, I rushed it off to my usual suspects for their opinions. I received a positive response from this test group and decided to try and do another. Two short stories down, I wanted to keep going, so it was at that point I decided to take the five main characters of the story and write a sort story for each, the premise being the reader would get a deeper background to each one. You will be able to learn what circumstances and experiences have influenced them and helped formed the persons you meet in the central book. For new readers, I think it’s a great lead-in to the world of ARCA, Mickot Shrader, Drug-X and the Thomas family. For old fans, it will be a nice history lesson on their favourite characters and will bring more excitement for the final chapter in the Dark Side saga.

4. Neat idea. I like it. And, for the uninitiated, the last chapter is already brimming over with excitement; I’m curious to see how much more you can pump it up. Now, there were some other projects in the pipeline – you contributed to an anthology for Grim5, organised by Lyn Midnight. Has that been published now?

That project has been on hiatus for a few months, but recently I received word that it has been revived and, with any luck, it will see publication in the very near future. With over 30 individual contributors, there are many who are interested in having the project see the light of day, you as well, E!

5. True, I have contributed to one of the stories, too. And more recently, you wrote Tag Team in Space (TTiS) with J. Naomi Ay – could you explain the concept behind this blog story? Is it something you plan to publish?

TTiS is a project I am very proud of.

The basic concept is a collaborative story between J. Naomi and I that takes place between our two blog sites. I had been interested in collaborating with another author for some time but the specific project had not presented itself yet. I was having a conversation with J. Naomi about marketing for Indie authors and I broached the subject of doing a collaborative project. Up until that point I had been limiting my co-promoting to tweets and hosting author interviews on my blog, but it was my desire to continue creating while working on co-promoting, as well. I discussed the idea of taking a few of our individual characters and mashing them up together in a little story. I wasn’t 100% on how we would do it but just wanted to gauge her interest level. I received my answer 20-minutes later when she sent me a copy of chapter one. I, too, was excited and quickly wrote chapter two in response to her ideas. She messaged me back saying she loved it and TTiS was born.

We talk at least once a week and we try and figure out the end-goal of the project, but for now we are just allowing the story to flow naturally and go where it will. It’s our version of Improv.

We have spoken about setting a chapter limit and taking it to publication after that. We are interviewing illustrators currently, and hopefully we will end up with a pretty cool graphic novel at some point.

6. What was it like to ‘tag-write’ a book? Would you do it again?

It’s interesting writing with someone else. You know this from all your work co-authoring books. Individually, you have ideas, and so does the other person. Trying to combine these ideas and styles while creating something cohesive and not disjointed is a challenge.

I actually enjoy the process because it opens me up to new ideas and avenues which I may have not been open to previously.

7. I have to say, Ahmad Darkside Live is a very classy, professional looking site. You must have put a lot of effort into blogging and social media. I can see lots of author interviews.

I admit I have trouble keeping up with my individual sites. I have trouble managing my time period, and because of that some things suffer from time to time. My sites are definitely on that list, but I try and do general upkeep every couple of weeks because both sites are my “store window” to the world. If people are browsing or window-shopping, I’d better have something worth looking at or else they will never come in the store and buy anything.

8. Time management is one of those like skills I’m yet to master, so I understand completely. Now, about this particular author, the brain behind the sci-fi thriller. You have a background in law enforcement. Is that what created the spark of an idea, to start with?

The idea was from a wild dream I had in which my sister and I were government agents on assignment. In the dream, my sister went on a mission and never returned. I then began my own mission to track her down.

When I woke up from the dream I was freaked out a bit. I even gave her a call at 4 am to make sure she was okay. Well, after she cursed me out for waking her up, I realized that I wanted to get this story down on paper. I grabbed a pen and paper and began jotting down notes and eventually formed an outline. Several hours later I decided to power on my laptop and start writing something. One month after that, I had draft one of DSOM.

My background in law enforcement was not the impetus for writing the story, but it certainly aided me in creating the characters and in developing the theme (former government agent out to track down his missing family).

9. Did you always dream of writing thrillers?

I read and watch a lot of action, suspense and thrillers. I like being surprised and getting sucked into a story. I did not always know I wanted to be an author, but once I did, I knew that I wanted to shock people with the way I told my stories.

10. Ok, so you started writing, the words began to add up, and then one day you had a book. What did you do next?

Besides pee my pants?

I stayed awake for days on end waiting for one of my review group to get back to me with some sort of reaction. I was terrified of their reactions but excited at the same time. Once I finally got word that there was something there, I began editing, editing, editing.

Eventually, I decided I wanted it out for public consumption. I was a rookie and hadn’t the slightest clue how to make that happen. I also am notorious for my lack of patience, so I sent out my couple hundred query letters to agents and pub houses, but also decided I would get it out there on Amazon as soon as possible. So I did.

11. Were there any sites, any people or places you found especially relevant or helpful in your journey as a newbie indie author?

Sure!

Jess of “Jess Resides Here” was so amazing with me. She didn’t know me from the next guy, but she was super sweet and helpful. She pointed me in the right direction and has always been around to offer help and a much needed pat on the back.

Rachel Thompson of “RachelintheOC” is also someone I am happy to consider a friend. She is a great writer and marketer, and a tough cookie to crack, but she has always been around to help me out or lend me some advice. Even when she has a criticism, it is useful and beneficial.

J. Naomi Ay has been not only a partner, but a great friend. She has helped me tremendously with progressing as a writer. I also kicked her arse in fantasy football this year, so now we have a friendly rivalry going.

And of course my wonderful, sweet, mother-hen: Ella Medler. E (as I have been allowed to call her) is a darling person to know, and genuinely a friend. Though circumstances have not allowed us to communicate on the everyday basis we had grown accustomed to previously, I know that E is always there for me, as she has been from the first day we spoke.

Out of any of my fellow authors, or anyone else in this industry, I would say E knows me best.

(Aw, now I miss talking to you every day, E!)

12. Ha, ha. You’re funny, A. Tell me, now that you’re so much more experienced, is there anything you’d do differently? Other things you wish you’d tried earlier on?

LOL. Yes: tried everything a lot earlier.

And also just continued creating more regularly. I allowed frustration and other things in life to interfere with creating and that is a huge no-no for a writer. I am back into a somewhat regular groove now, but the time off has certainly not benefited me at all.

13. There’s a stereotypical picture of an author most people have. Now you know, and I know, that picture is far from a true representation. But just to be clear, what’s a normal workday like for you? Describe it for us.

After hitting snooze ten or so times, I crawl out of bed and shower. I run off to work, since I am already late, and suffer through dealing with my daily chores and my neurotic boss.

After work, I drag myself home, all the while believing in my heart of hearts that I will hit the ground running and start writing once I walk through the door. Fat chance!

I plop myself down on the couch and try and wake myself up. An hour or so of my phone beeping incessantly with emails related to writing, I get up and turn my laptop on. That’s when my real work-day begins. I spend the next 7-10 hours attempting to answer emails, read articles that will be beneficial, communicate with other writers about news in our world and maybe, just maybe, write a chapter or so. Somewhere around midnight’ish I take a break to have dinner and a quick cigarette before jumping back on my computer ‘till 2 or 3 am. I then catch an hour of television before passing out, only to hit snooze again when my alarm goes off at 7 am.

A friend of mine gave me a little nickname, and I think it is 100% appropriate: Ahmad 24/7.

14. And how do you recover after a day like that? After a string of days as full as the one you’ve just described? How do you relax?

It may sound sophomoric but weekends are usually pub time for me. I truly enjoy catching up with my friends and de-stressing over a couple (10) beverages.

I also play basketball a few times a week (hanging on to my athletic youth, I guess).

But, as you know, writers work (or should) 7 days a week, so weekends are just a cute term I like to use for days I don’t have to work my day job.

15. Finally, forgive me for borrowing a question from your own directory. Ahmad Taylor, tell us, are you afraid of the dark?

Maybe more than I would like to admit! But don’t tell anyone!

Thank you, E, for allowing me to come on and talk with your audience. I really appreciate all of your love and support this past year. It is a treat for me to talk about… me… so thank you for that.

I wish you much success, my friend, and I look forward to enticing you into some future collaboration of our own! (Great minds can do great things together!)

Yes, they can. Thanks for being a great sport and not shying away from my questions, A.

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dsom semifinalist pic (1)

Dark Side Of The Moon

Blurb: When former government agent, Derrick Thomas, awakens to find his family missing and in danger, he must outwit a clandestine organization intent on keeping him from the truth and his family.

Government agent Derrick Thomas awakes from a disturbing dream to find a message from his father asking for help. As he sets out to lend his assistance he quickly discovers that not only can he not find his father, but that a clandestine government agency is out to derail his search before it can even begin. After discovering details of a global food crisis, an interplanetary mission gone awry, the murders of two of his father’s colleagues, and the further disappearances of his mother and sister, Derrick is thrust into a fight for his own life and a struggle to uncover details of secret government experiments which his family may be involved with.  Will he be able to save them and uncover the truth before he becomes the next victim of an organization bent on keeping him silent?

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/DARK-SIDE-THE-MOON-ebook/dp/B00716M0YU

Amazon USA: http://amazon.com/dp/B00716M0YU

Review:

Not the first novel written by an ex-cop I’ve ever read, but definitely the one which uses the most up-to-date jargon and technology. The writing style is crisp and to the point, without unnecessary flourishes and archaic turns of phrase. This is a modern read based on a modern idea and using sci-fi threads which are spun perfectly to fit right into this realistic world. Another refreshing feature (to me) is to be able to read a thriller where the weapons are not the same as the ones used by Philip Marlowe in the earlier Raymond Chandler books or Roger Moore as he first played British agent James Bond, but a rather more sophisticated, imaginative, slightly wishful-thinking-type new cache.

Twists and turns at every corner make Dark Side of the Moon an unexpected and enjoyable action-packed read. You get to see glimpses of a really talented family and you can’t wait to learn everything about them. By the time the storyline settles into a full-blown thriller, you wish you could be right there, in the middle of it all, shouting encouragement and warning Derrick about imminent danger.

Derrick Thomas is the sort of guy that brings a smile to your lips – from his morning routine to the over-the-top care his mom gives her baby son and the relationships with his older sister Jeanie and strong-willed father Martin, everything draws you in and compels you to be his friend. The more you think you’ve worked out what he is going to do next, however, the more you find yourself pointing down a different avenue. This is where Ahmad Taylor’s police training comes into its own – the action sequences and assault and hostage situations are spot-on.

I didn’t see the ending until the last moment. But knowing what kind of person Derrick is, you know what he is planning to do and you also know he succeeded, but boy – you wish he hadn’t. I can’t wait to read the sequel – I’ll be biting my nails until I get to see that everything turns out ok. Releasing a series of prequels, which deal with each main character in turn, is a stroke of genius. I will certainly read them all.

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Ahmad is offering one lucky reader a chance to meet and appreciate the work of his co-author, J. Naomi Ay. He is giving away a copy of The Boy who Lit up the Sky (The Two Moons of Rehnor).giveaway for adt You can read its description here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007B77U8A

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment under the post with a way for me to contact you, so I can pass the prize on to you.

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If you liked what you read and would like to find out more about Ahmad, or simply stalk a nice guy, you can find him by clicking any of these links:

Twitter: @AhmadDarkside
Darkside Blog
Amazon
Goodreads
Facebook
AhmadTaylor.com

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team of incredibly talented people to help with the project by incorporating their individual skills into making new, fresh and exciting promotional plans that we hope you agree are amazing. If you would like to book a tour with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their tour packages. If you would like to become a tour host with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their Tour Host page. You wont be disappointed!

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Author Interviews

 

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Guest Post: Top 5 Reasons Being a Fiction Writer Beats Being a Real Life Killer, by Ahmad Taylor

Hello, my friends. Here’s another post from the talented Ahmad Taylor. Did I tell you he is a semifinalist in the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012 Contest? He is. And today, he is trying to convince us being a writer has its advantages. Welcome, Ahmad.

 

While reading what terrifying acts humans being s are capable of committing upon each other in the news, I can share a place with you, where the more violent and terrifying, the better…

Top 5 Reasons Being a Fiction Writer Beats Being a Real Life Killer

 

5. Creativity

While most real-world murders are crimes of emotion and poorly thought out, and even more poorly executed, fiction writers who utilize death and murder in their stories have all the time in the world to plan out just the right type of slaying. Writers get to be cold and calculating, without becoming slaves to their emotions. This allows for more creativity and thus a way more interesting end story.

Devising a truly crafty fictional death can be terribly delicious and exhilarating all at once. Simply based upon physics, a fiction writer can do things with a pen (laptop really) that just cannot happen in the natural world, and that is really cool.

4. Praise from critics

While the media and the public demonize (as they should) murderers in the real-world, the best murder mystery writers receive the highest praise from their fans and critics.

From classics like: Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allen Poe, to the more contemporary: Thomas Harris, P.D. James, and Anne Rice, not only are these authors praised for their ingenuity in creating just the right murder scene, and for the intricacy of their plots, but their homicidal characters oft times become cult heroes (see Vampire Lestat and Hannibal Lecter).

“A Son of Sam Law is any American law designed to keep criminals from profiting from the publicity of their crimes, often by selling their stories to publishers.”

Legislators have taken efforts to prevent murderers from being able to profit from their illegal and heinous acts and when talking about real-world criminals, this seems morally accurate, in the fictional world writers strive to profit from the terrible acts their characters commit on the written page.

I mean, while every writer swears that they write for the love of expression and for the benefit of the art, I don’t think there is one of us who would prefer abject poverty versus making a healthy living concocting unhealthy scenarios in our works.

2. No prison sentence or worse

Murder is taken pretty seriously by the criminal justice system, and damn straight. In America you can get a prison term of life in prison, which hopefully keeps the perpetrator in jail for the rest of their life (I won’t get into the minutia of the potential parole process), and in some states capital punishment is the punitive repercussion.

In the world of fiction, the only repercussions that will ensue from even the most gruesome and violent of crimes is more book sales and an offer to publish your next work. Sure beats prison food and having to dress like 2,000 other guys every day of the work.

1. Killing is just wrong…

Unless it’s in a “Can’t put this book down for a second” kind of novel. Go check one out this weekend and enjoy the temporary insanity of some of the most clever and devious minds in the world of fiction from the comfort and safety of your home.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Guest Posts

 

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Guest Post: Top 10 Reasons Why the 2012 Olympics Will Be Completely Awesome, by Ahmad Taylor

Hello, my friends. Please welcome back Ahmad Taylor (Ahmad 24/7, as I’ve nicknamed him – you’ll soon see why), author of Dark Side of the Moon.

Ahmad loves the Olympics and I did, too, back in the times when I could just concentrate on the events and was not force-fed the maddening commercialisation that I can see happening all around me today. Anyway, without further delay, let’s see what Ahmad’s reasons are and if they work on me.

 

Top 10 Reasons Why the 2012 Olympics Will Be Completely Awesome

 

10. Location, Location, Location!

While not in the greatest potential location possible (chanting: “USA! USA!”), London was a brilliant choice to host with all of the city’s culture and history.

– hmm – London is a good choice as location. One I agree with.

9. Beats the “Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer” blues

Summertime is generally a long and boring season for most major sports, and for 2+ weeks multiple television channels broadcast almost continuously a steady stream of excitement.

I mean, what else are you gonna’ watch while waiting for the NFL season to start (American Football).

– not following NFL, sorry, but I suppose the games will bring some excitement. Two.

8. National camaraderie is at an All-time high

While most major global sports have several teams from one country competing against each other, every 4 years we are allowed the treat of rooting for a nation’s own against the rest of the world.

Sport transcends political viewpoints, and just lets people from all walks of life to unite behind a common goal, and chant their countries’ name the loudest for all others to hear in envy.

– agree. Three.

7. People like rooting against the host country

Whether it was the former Soviet Union in 1980, Seoul Korea in 1988, or China in 2008, there is always the desire to root against the host nation for a variety of reasons (usually because they get an unfair advantage from their home judges).

So here in the U.S., we will put our collective minds together to come up with some new and innovative anti-England chants this summer.

Can’t wait!!!

– ha, ha. Agree again. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Four.  

6. It promotes racial equality

While we would like to believe we live in racially homogenized times, the reality is, that is NOT the reality. The horrible crowd treatment of various athletes during soccer matches (chanting racial slurs or throwing bananas on the pitch) is only a slim reminder of that.

However, once every 4 years, even bigots get to cheer for their nation’s representatives, no matter what they may look like.

It brings all races together for 2+ weeks, under one flag and says, “It’s literally ‘us’ against the world”.

– valid point. Five.

5. It starts 3 days after my birthday

While not a specific national holiday, my birthday (July 24) is quite the event amongst my family and friends (mainly because I force it to be so), so the fact that I will still be celebrating birthday #36 the week that the 2012 Olympics begins (July 27) will provide some extra-special excitement in my life.

– and that’s a very good reason, Ahmad 24/7. Keep the excitement going. Six.

4. Female athletes have never been so attractive

Being able to watch the best female athletes in the entire world, running and jumping and splashing around in the pool is truly a treat not to be missed.

Time to create some extra space on the DVR to record.

– not my favourite pass-time, but you go ahead and ogle. Now, if you’d mentioned some male rippling abs and the like… Ok, I’ll let you have it. Seven.

3. You get to root for sports you have never even heard of

From Tug-O-War (1900-1920) to Synchronized Swimming to the Pentathlon (Shooting, Fencing, Riding, Swimming, Running) you get the opportunity to cheer for your country or athletes from any country in random sports that may not be familiar to you.

I mean when else can you watch 2 chicks that look alike, dance upside down in a swimming pool, and then win a gold medal for it. I mean, seriously? Upside down pool dancing… I love it!

– Ahmad, your mind is stuck. Reboot. You like the chicks. Got it. Just for the fun of imagining your face watching them, eight.

2. Provides life long memories for kids

From the failed bomb attempt in Atlanta 1996, to the Dream Team 1992, to the unmatched pageantry of the opening ceremony in Beijing 2008 the Olympics can provide both child and adult with truly wonderful and exciting memories to last them a lifetime.

I have several of my own that will stay with me forever!

– fully agree with this one. I remember watching the Olympics with my family, some of which is no longer with us, and they were highly valued times. Fond memories. Nine.

1. It’s the OLYMPICS! Enough Said!

Whether you are a beer chugging, butt scratching, chest pounding guy, or a quiet, demure, classy woman, you can enjoy 2+ weeks of non-stop sports watching, focused on providing enjoyment to every possible demographic in existence.

And there you have it, I can no longer deny it – my excitement for the Olympics has increased tenfold since reading your post. Thank you, Ahmad 24/7.

If you liked this article, you can read more of Ahmad’s posts on his blog. In fact I have been reliably informed he’s posting a great follow-up interview with an author he took the trouble to learn about once before.

Or you could stalk him on Facebook or Twitter if you prefer.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Guest Posts, Just A Thought

 

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Guest Post – Every time an Opossum dies an angel gains his wings, by Ahmad Taylor

Today I have the pleasure to introduce a good friend and writer who promised to talk to you about the perils of living in south Florida. Please welcome Ahmad Taylor.

Every time an Opossum dies an angel gains his wings

We (my two roommates and I) live in a nice green area of south Florida; nice lawns and backyards, a golf course directly across the street, and palm trees up and down every block. Quite aesthetically pleasing most days and very nice at night when the stars are out and the air is cool and clean. In comparison to growing up in an urban part of Brooklyn, NY (actually all of Brooklyn was urban back then) I consider this type of living a definite treat for my senses. Most nights though, nature and the local wildlife make every fervent attempt to treat themselves to the lushness of my immediate outdoors.

During the spring, when the coconut and mango trees are flourishing and their fruits are in full bloom, you can hear nature encroaching upon our habitat with birds, squirrels and mice foraging around in the trees enjoying the fruits of their labor (yes, mice. Apparently being so close to water they are permanent residents of this area of town). You can often sit out back and watch mangos fall to the ground with bite marks and whole chunks chewed out of them already and hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet running from branch to branch gorging themselves on the abundant free meal. Even during the winter you can see a few trying to crack open old coconuts and partake of random seeds and plants that grow all around (since there is very little winter here something is always growing year round).

Now last year I sent my roommates a picture text of a very frightening, yet less than frightened of me, raccoon that was sniffing around the backyard. I can still see his big, bulging eyes staring intently in my direction trying to determine whether I was one of the idiots in the neighborhood I hear about who will set out food and even try and hand feed these wild beasts in their own yards. I certainly am not “that guy” and immediately took my arse back in the house. Those who have known me for some time will attest to my fear of animals (no matter the size or species), I mean it took me years just to get used to my roommate’s dog, who is a sweetheart, but with long teeth and a menacing bark, she can intimidate even the most avid dog-lover.  In the case of the wild raccoon I think my fears were well warranted. While they may look cute (not really up close) they are the farthest thing from a pet and I don’t need to be reminded of that. The tale of the menacing raccoon stalking our backyard spread very quickly in our local circles and I took my fair share of ribbing for that.

I felt I had to provide you with a preface before jumping my harrowing tale, judge me as you will.

Sunday evening as one roomy was coming in from walking his dog, you could hear him calling out to the dog very loudly to ‘come inside now!’ As they entered and he slammed the door behind him, the first question was; ‘what’s going on buddy?’ He then opens the curtains to the front window to show us the very large, very dirty, very disgusting looking opossum that had parked itself on our front porch. Well after I let out a very loud noise of sorts (maybe a scream or wail or some type of less than manly sound), we all stood at the window trying to determine what the thing’s current state of being was. Was it dead? Was it sleeping? Was it playing opossum (yeah, you knew it was coming, folks)? None of us were about to brave enough to step outside and find out. A few more minutes passed and it stood up and meandered off into the bushes just next to the front door. Over the years, if you were up very early or coming home very late, this same opossum has been known to cross your path. We had determined that this creature had been taking up residence under the front porch for at least the last 2 years, maybe longer (no idea what the life cycle of an opossum is), and once it had moved from the porch to the bushes we all assumed it was finding its way home.

Fast forward to the next evening when roommate #1 comes home to tell me that the beast was still in the bushes just off the walkway, and most likely dead. ‘We have to get it out of there soon’ was the next thing he said to me (and knowing his thought process the proverbial “we” really meant Me!) If I wasn’t clear earlier, Ahmad no likey animals, especially not the nasty, feral, more than likely to be disease-ridden ones that lurk in the darkness of a Florida evening. Well once roomy #2 came home we all made a determination that ‘as a house’ we were going to wake up super early, grab the shovel and drop it off on the golf course across the street (better their problem than ours, right?). That plan sounded great ‘til it came down to execution. No one woke up with any inclination of bringing this plan to fruition, so the carcass stayed put.

Fast forward  3 ½ days later to the rotting corpse of a dead opossum near the front door whose odor was more than palpable, it was nauseating. Roomy #1 comes home with a declaration that “we gotta’ get that thing out of here soon, it stinks in here!” So we decided to try and implement the original plan of shovel to golf course immediately.  So I put on a crappy pair of shoes, grabbed some gloves and basically prepared myself for a biological disaster site (think government issued bio-weapon suits and the movie: Outbreak). So as we approached the now maggot-covered body, the smell itself almost took us both out of commission. Drawing the short straw I was commissioned with shovel duty. I know most readers are asking, what is the big deal? Dead animal, long handle on the shovel, scoop and move, right? Ha! Wait, I say that again, HA!!! You don’t know me that well… homey don’t play ‘dat! Dead or not, I can imagine it turning around to try and spread its vileness all over me (I’m cringing even writing about it).

So it’s me, roomy, flashlight, shovel and our deceased squatter all in the moonlight trying to get this done:

Attempt #1: I walk back and forth several times trying to figure out what was the best angle of approach. Nothing happens for several minutes.

Attempt #2: With strong chiding I am directed to “come from the back, scoop under, lift and walk across the street.” Long story short, didn’t even get the shovel on the ground.

Attempt #3: After several minutes more of just laughing and then being serious, I get the shovel into place. As I am digging into the ground behind the body, I hear, “Dude, you’re still a foot away from it, you’re not even close.”

Attempt #4: I psyche myself up, pound my chest, and admonish myself to nut up and get it done. FYI, nothing happened.

Attempt #5: My roommate, obviously frustrated with the lack of testicular fortitude on my end, finally grabs the shovel from my hands and moves it. He gets in under the body and begins to extract it from the bushes. Problem #1, only half came out. Ugh!!! ONLY HALF! Needless to say, terrified screams could be heard miles away I’m sure (I won’t say who was screaming, but his name rhymes with: Ahmad). At this point, with half a disintegrating carcass we have to figure out what to do. We determine that it would not hold up being transported the 100 or so steps to its final resting place, so we got a garbage bag to dispose of it. Reasonable enough idea, except for one problem though: I had to hold the bag. F’ that is basically what was running through my mind. Way too close to my body. Well again I am chided to man up and get it done. So I close my eyes and allow the half a torso to plop down in the bag (cue more screaming and jumping around).

Attempt #6: The front end, including the ugliest face on anything ever seen, comes out on the shovel and I’m again demanded to hold the bag open. Plop #2. On this one I genuinely jump high in the air and dance around as if I was being attacked by the surplus of insects chewing this thing to pieces. I don’t know what I used to run the 40-yd dash in during my athletic years, but I’m pretty sure I could’ve tied or beat those times this evening, as I streaked around the side of the house and to the trash cans in the back.

I then washed my hands and arms for the next 15 minutes trying to scrub away any remnants of the odor, the sight, the thought of how disgusting that thing was.

Finally though, we were opossum free (hallelujah). My message to readers out there: if you’re outside this evening, and can see the stars in the sky, look very closely. Just out there, in the skies over south Florida, that one bright new star, the one that looks like it has rabies… that’s an angel being born from the death of this vile creature.

You can read more of Ahmad’s articles here. And you could join his circle of friends on Facebook or Twitter. Dark Side of the Moon, Ahmad Taylor’s debut novel is available from Amazon.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Guest Posts, Just A Thought

 

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Author Interview – Ella Medler (host Ahmad Taylor)

Author Interview with Ella Medler (Martin Little, Resurrected)

A hearty welcome to all readers.

Today we welcome the exciting new author of the light-Fantasy novel: Martin Little, Resurrected; Ella Medler.

Thank you for joining Ella.

So, I understand you hail from the land of vampires and Dracula? Tell us about your memories of growing up in Transylvania?

I grew up on the gentle slopes of the West Carpathian Mountains, in a small town at the foothills of a medieval castle. I used to climb the hill to the very top and play amongst the ruined walls – that is one of the best, most treasured memories of my childhood. There was a play area at the bottom of the hill – swings and slides and other play equipment – but I never wanted to spend time there. I remember one day I ran ahead of my granddad and took a longer route up, one that wound in and out of dark caves with water seeping down the mossy walls. I loved these mystery-filled caves; a child’s imagination doesn’t need much more than that to come up with fantastic adventures. Well, that day was a little more exciting than usual. That day a viper crossed the path not fifteen inches in front of me. It slid quickly into a bunch of dead leaves, more scared of me than I was of it, but it did make my heart pump faster as I backed down the path, my eyes locked onto the leaves the snake disappeared into for as long as I could keep them in sight, and then flew back down to my granddad’s side where I stayed for, oh, probably a good ten minutes. My childhood was a fun time, a free time and I absolutely loved it.

Where do you live now, and is this your last stop?

I live in Cornwall, England, surrounded by much more nature than should be logically possible in such a ‘busy’ country. I have to say, it took a while to find somewhere that felt so good, so right, somewhere where I could pretend to be the only person left on Earth, or at least one of the few, if I so wished. I can walk along craggy cliffs overlooking the Atlantic any day I choose or stand on the top of a hill from where I can see both the South and North coasts of Cornwall in about ten minutes. That’s got to be pretty close to heaven. There’s only one other place like this in the UK, and it keeps calling to me – the top West coast of Scotland, almost off the map.

When the kids fly the nest, I dream of downsizing to a small cottage on top of a cliff overlooking the sea, with very little scope for visitors. I’ll have a guest room, of course. Just not a very comfortable bed in it!

You are a mother, a wife, a novelist and playwright. Tell us your favorite parts of each.

Wow. That’s a question and a half! The best part of being a mother is seeing your children grow and blossom and find their own way. The best balm for a mother’s heart is to see that those small persons who needed the bike held steady as they learned to ride are not afraid to grab their own lives by the scruff of the neck and make their own decisions. The best part of being a wife, I think, is the knowledge that with your husband by your side you can weather any storm.

As a novelist, I get to live as many lives as stories in my head. I am blessed with a vivid imagination – when I write, I literally see what’s about to happen in my story next; it’s as if I’m watching a movie. I have to hurry to catch it all and commit it to paper. Well, word document, really.

Writing plays is what I do to relax. The clue is in the name; it’s called ‘play’ for a reason. For me, it’s just a game, a way for my mind to download conversations, jokes and situation comedy. I am lucky to work with a hugely talented bunch of amateur dramatic actors in my spare time. They make my job so much easier – I can just picture one of them on stage and I instantly know what they would say and how they would react. Watching people speak the words I write is tremendously satisfying.
What inspired you to begin writing?

If you mean way back, right at the beginning, it was watching comedy sketches on TV. I was just a kid, but I started work right away and wrote a sequence of comedy sketches to be played out by me and my friends to an audience of parents and other willing adults out in the playground. I used the playground as the backdrop, the trees and shrubs, everything was my stage. I remember being a little disappointed when the flowers that were all out one month disappeared by the next. That’s when I first started taking notice of the passage of time and the changing seasons. I’ve never stopped writing, though life did push it way down the priority list. It took a serious accident and three weeks stuck in hospital staring at the ceiling in the trauma ward to really make me think. I spent a lot of time writing to pass the time and also, I guess, to subconsciously take myself away from the hospital setting. Nothing major changed in the general set-up of my life – I learned to walk again and went back to work, but this time I started carrying my laptop around everywhere I went and just wrote and wrote every spare minute of the day. Writing clawed its way up that priority list higher and higher every week, every day, until it reached the top spot.

Tell us about your premiere novel: Martin Little, Resurrected.

Premiere is such a grand word – you’d probably floor poor Martin Little if you so much as whispered it in his ear! He’s not a very strong man.

Martin Little is a series of full-length novels, and Martin Little, Resurrected is the very first bead on the string. The best way to describe it is to use the words of one of my readers: pure escapism. It’s an adventure story written in first person from a male perspective, but not just that – it’s a journey of discovery in more ways than one. Imagine your life changed direction, 180 degrees, all at once, imagine your emotions assaulted by feelings never experienced before, and add to that a fantastical element that just about wipes off all that you knew and took for granted in your life – all knowledge, all logic, all expectations. I won’t say much more than this: the whole plot is one cliff-hanger after another, it is relentless, quirky, it’s original, and probably not everybody’s cup of tea. Oh, and I make fun of the British lifestyle and societal rules in the background, in particular bureaucracy, the modern CCTV obsession, health and safety rules and the legal system.

What has been the most exciting part of being a published author?

It all happened so fast, I barely had time to take it all in. I remember the day I was sent the cover – oh, that cover says it all! If I had to paint the whole book on one sheet of paper, that would be it. It just couldn’t be improved upon. Yeah, seeing that – the cover, the pdf, market-ready copy was just amazing.
What has been the worst part of being a published author?

Ha, ha. I don’t think you’ll be too surprised to hear this. Marketing and promotion. I had absolutely NO idea what that entailed, not the foggiest clue. I’m only just starting to comprehend the sheer scale of things I must get involved with in order to do this book justice.

What books have influenced your writing?

Way back in my childhood, I read a lot of cowboy stories – the whole ‘hero wins, evil guy loses’ idea appealed to my immature sense of justice. Going through school, we were given lists of books we should read, mostly classics, at the beginning of each school year. We had to read and summarize at least ten novels per school year, and there was no internet to help with research, so I did a lot of reading. My parents made sure my own bookcase was well-stocked. The more I read, the more I wanted to read some more. I loved Isaac Asimov. I used to have to read by the flashlight under the blankets because my mum would spy me through the keyhole and get angry if I didn’t get a good sleep. Unwittingly, she turned my attention to detective stories. I had to become sneaky and ingenious in order to make more time for reading. Even now, mystery seems to seep into each one of my stories. And love – pure, unconditional love, in any guise I may be able to weave it in.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?

Loads, actually. There are quite a few on twitter, I noticed, so maybe I should start with them. But if I were to meet just one, I’d like to shake Roddy Doyle’s hand. ‘The Giggler Treatment’ brought a lot of laughter into my household just about the time the kids started reading. You should try it. It’s a kids’ book, but you will laugh out loud, guaranteed.
If you could talk to your former self, what advice would you give her?

“Don’t take quite so long getting to where you knew you were heading all along, Ella!”

I hear that you used to train and spar in martial arts. Tell us about your matches, your training and whether any of that training comes into play during your daily life now?

Talk about ferreting out all my secrets! That time of my life is a closed chapter. I embraced it, I lived it, I loved it. But all that’s left of it now is the discipline, self-confidence, knowledge and a good grasp of a culture that I wouldn’t have been able to gain by just reading about it in books. And yes, in my upcoming thriller, Blood is Heavier, and possibly in future novels too, I will be drawing on that experience.

You speak over 7 languages, what is your favorite language to speak or hear? What language do you dream in?

I’m essentially a lazy person, so English suits me just fine. I dream in English. I can’t give you precise figures, but I guess I’ve spoken more English in my life than any other language. That said, I have traveled a lot and in most cases I didn’t have the luxury of an interpreter (in fact I can recall a few occasions when I was glad I didn’t need an interpreter’s interpretation). I had to get by on what I knew, and that helped me absorb more of these countries’ cultures as well.

As you would expect, this cultural knowledge reflects in the characters I create. There’s an additional layer I can give them simply by looking back at family relationships, the way they live and work, even the way people perceive themselves when in a foreign country – I’ve seen it first-hand, so it’s effortless.

There’s another aspect to being able to speak several languages, and it’s something I always wanted to ask others about. I love pretending I’m one of the crowd when I’m visiting a country whose language I speak. I can pass for a local in many cases, and that almost feels like I’m a different person. It’s a different identity, one with limited lifespan, but different all the same. I feel different and I don’t shy away from doing or saying things my English self would never do or say. Hmm, there’s an idea for a book, right there…

What are your pet peeves?

Oh, there are a lot of things that grate on me, but most of them I’ve learned to tolerate. I have always had high standards for myself and therefore I expected the same of everyone else around me. Experience has given me a different perspective, though. Now, I find it easier to glide over small irritations – my best strategy is to make fun of them.

Still, there is one clear, definite thing that I cannot forgive, and that is emotional dishonesty. People lie for different reasons and most of them are easy to work out and even understand, like for example when you tell a child Santa won’t bring them presents if they don’t tidy their room at once. But when you lie for the sheer sake of it, or worse, out of malice, when you play with a person’s feelings, that to me is the highest crime.

Are you currently working on any other projects?

I’m currently busy producing a POD version of Martin Little, Resurrected. Createspace is an experience I haven’t had before. Luckily, my publisher has agreed to let me use the same cover as the e-book version of the book, so I’m really happy about that.

At the same time, I am going through the final edit on my thriller, Blood is Heavier. I’m looking for a cover artist, so do tell me if you know a talented one.

I’m about ten percent of the way through a Martin Little sequel and as soon as I finish that I’ll be jumping straight into a conspiracy-theory-type espionage thriller set in the seventies, which led to the crumbling of the Eastern Block.

The most recent idea I’ve had, though, seems to have a really loud voice in my mind right now – it’s a sci-fi thriller with a touch of theory of evolution in it. A perfectly ordinary mutation in the human species becomes undesirable as it threatens to become the longest lived, Arian race of the future. If this idea wins the top spot, the conspiracy theory may have to wait till later in the year.

Oh, and I spend evenings producing a play I wrote for the junior members of a local theatre. The entire cast and most of the production team are under eighteen, so it would be fair to say there are a quite a few challenges here and there.

What is the last thing you read? Did you like it, hate it?

I’ve just finished reading ‘Triple’ by Ken Follett. I realized half way through the book that I’d actually read it before, but I just couldn’t put it down. I had to take it all the way. It’s not a modern book, and some of the details don’t fit anymore, but it is one of those perfect novels that you just can’t fault. It has the perfect voice, the perfect story, perfectly-formed characters… it’s a perfect five star.

Read it if you get the chance, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

What was the last movie you watched? Did you like it, hate it?

Ocean’s Eleven, and I thought it was a cleverly set plot, but nothing was going to come anywhere near the Bourne series, which I’ve watched right before that. Oh, I absolutely love the action. Another movie I love, well, two actually, are the new Sherlock Holmes ones directed by Guy Ritchie. I think Guy Ritchie is a very talented man.

Where can readers find your works and follow you?

The easiest way to find my books would be by using the links on my website http://www.ellamedler.com. My publisher has done a brilliant job with distributing Martin Little, Resurrected electronically – it is available on pretty much every platform you can think of.

If you are interested in my book reviews (I review indie authors for free) and my inane ramblings on publishing and writing in general, you can subscribe to my new blog http://www.ellamedler.wordpress.com (which you can also access via my website).

I also spend quite a bit of my time on twitter: @EllaMedler and facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ella-Medler/204929819588619 and personal page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000042416666

Or you could look for me on Goodreads and the World Literary Café. I’m a friendly person, come and say hello.

We’d like to thank you for sharing a bit of your time and life with us here Ella.
We wish you all the best on your current and future projects and we hope you will stop by again at some point and update on your many successes.
 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Author Interviews

 

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REVIEW: Dark Side of the Moon, by Ahmad Taylor

Not the first novel written by an ex-cop I’ve ever read, but definitely the one which uses the most up-to-date jargon and technology. The writing style is crisp and to the point, without unnecessary flourishes and archaic turns of phrase. This is a modern read based on a modern idea and using sci-fi threads which are spun perfectly to fit right into this realistic world. Another refreshing feature (to me) is to be able to read a thriller where the weapons are not the same as the ones used by Philip Marlowe in the earlier Raymond Chandler books or Roger Moore as he first played British agent James Bond, but a rather more sophisticated, imaginative, slightly wishful-thinking-type new cache.

Twists and turns at every corner make Dark Side of the Moon an unexpected and enjoyable action-packed read. You get to see glimpses of a really talented family and you can’t wait to learn everything about them. By the time the storyline settles into a full-blown thriller, you wish you could be right there, in the middle of it all, shouting encouragement and warning Derrick about imminent danger.

Derrick Thomas is the sort of guy that brings a smile to your lips – from his morning routine to the over-the-top care his mom gives her baby son and the relationships with his older sister Jeanie and strong-willed father Martin, everything draws you in and compels you to be his friend. The more you think you’ve worked out what he is going to do next however, the more you find yourself pointing down a different avenue. This is where Ahmad Taylor’s police training comes into its own – the action sequences and assault and hostage situations are not something just any one of us could get right.

I didn’t see the ending until the last moment. But knowing what kind of person Derrick is, you know what he is planning to do and you also know he succeeded, but boy – you wish he hadn’t. Strong entry by a debut author – I’ll be biting my nails until I get to read the sequel and make sure everything turns out ok.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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