Focus Friday: Full Circle

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A preview teaser from the upcoming new novel

By D.G. Torrens

The door slamming startled Dena. She spun around when Christian burst into the kitchen in one of his moods, “What’s for dinner,” he demanded.

Dena brushed a stray hair back off her face and inhaled a deep breath. “Pasta,” she answered in a low whisper.

Christian exited the kitchen and made his way into the living room, slumped down on the couch, and waited for his dinner. Dena dished up a plate for Christian and took it to him.

Christian looked up from his mobile phone, glanced at Dena and rolled his eyes, “Is there any salt in this?

“Of course,” she replied.

Christian took a mouthful, ignoring Dena.

“So, how is it?” she asked.

Yeh, it’s okay,” he grunted.

Dena shrugged her shoulders and left the room. I don’t know why I bother. He is so ungrateful and rude, she thought.

Mia ran down the stairs, “Daddy, daddy, guess what?”

Christian’s eyes lit up, “I have no idea. Why don’t you tell me?”

Mia jumped on his lap, excitedly, “I got a head teacher’s award today,” blurted Mia.

Christian kissed Mia on the forehead, “Well done, sweetheart. I am proud of you.”

Dena entered the room and took the plate from Christian. She glanced at the half-eaten pasta, “What was wrong with it?”

“It wasn’t your best dish,” he said, turning away.

Mia ran over to Dena, “Can I sleep with you tonight, Mummy. I had a bad dream last night?”

Dena nodded, “Of course, sweetheart. Now come on, let’s get you bathed and ready for bed.”

Christian studied Dena as she left the living room with Mia, his face flashed with anger.

Dena ran a bath for Mia and waited for her to get in then left her to play for a while. She went into the bedroom and sat down on the king-sized bed with a heavy heart. This was not how marriage was supposed to be. What the hell happened to us? I never signed up for this. Christian is colder than Antarctica. I am so lonely.

Full Circle

We hope you enjoyed this sample from the upcoming new novel by bestseller D.G. Torrens, in the vein of bestsellers like ike Finding You, Broken Wings and Forbidden.

Look for it in January 2021.

D.G. Torrens

is the author of 14 books, including the bestselling trilogy, Amelia’s Story #1, Amelia’s Destiny #2 and Amelia The Mother #3. This is an emotion-charged true story that the author wrote for her daughter.

D.G is a mother/writer/blogger who has a dream to inspire as many people as possible through her story. To show those with little hope that dreams can come true.

Born in England, passionate about writing, D.G. Torrens is married with a daughter. Her first book, Amelia’s Story, has inspired people all over the world. Amelia’s Destiny, book #2 is the sequel and is followed by Amelia The Mother book #3 in this awe-inspiring trilogy. A memoir that remains with D.G.’s readers long after they have put the book down …

D.G is a prolific writer and in 2013, her works were recognized by BBC Radio WM, where she has given several live interviews in the BBC studios in Birmingham, UK. Thereafter, D.G. became a regular Headline Reviewer for the radio show for the next 12 months.

Visit her on:

And follow her on Twitter @torrenstp.

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Why do audiences prefer fiction to fact?

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Monday musing on the difference between accuracy and believability

By Scott Bury

I recently saw a post by an author questioning the difference between historical accuracy, historical authenticity and believability. It’s an interesting question to me, because I write historical fiction and biography.

Accuracy and authenticity are not the same. In fact, they are in many ways opposed. Authenticity is more closely related to believability, and hinges on good story-telling. It has to “feel” right to the audience. Accuracy, unfortunately, is not always as exciting or captivating as a good, fictional story.

Hollywood to the … what’s the opposite of rescue?

An egregious example of this crucial difference is Ben Affleck’s 2012 movie, Argo. It purports to tell the true story of American diplomats taken hostage during the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Except … it’s not all that true.

From the reaction, and the Academy Award nominations, the film really struck a chord with audiences, particularly Americans. For Canadians, though, not so much.

The film as shown downplayed the role of the Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, who took huge risks to get American citizens false identity papers and passports as Canadians, so they could get out of Iran.

The film played fast and loose with other facts, too — such as scenes showing how Americans were turned away from other embassies, and exaggerated the danger the American diplomats faced.

But it was a thrilling movie that won awards for writing, acting, editing and directing. Why? Because, forty years after the events, it echoed the audience’s impressions of the events.

Score one for authenticity over accuracy.

(Almost) stole my idea

Enemy at the Gates was one of the most powerful, moving films I had ever watched. With Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Joseph Fiennes and Ed Harris, it portrays the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942 and 1943. Supposedly based on the book of the same name by William Craig, it has very little to do with the history of the events.

Yes, there was a Russian sharpshooter named Vasily Zaytsev (played by Jude Law) at Stalingrad, and a German sharpshooter brought from Berlin especially to eliminate him(Harris). And yes, there were female fighter in the Soviet ranks, including another sharpshooter or sniper named Tania Chernova (Weisz), and she and Zaytsev had a relationship.

But the details are all fictional. Red Army soldiers did not charge at the invading enemy without rifles, and the sniper’s duel between Zaytsev and Major Konings, not Konig, took only a few pages of the book.

The book is a meticulously researched, accurate account of the lead-up, battle and aftermath of Stalingrad. It was very useful as I wrote my biographical trilogy about a Canadian-born Red Army soldier, Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

The movie was a hit. Its depiction of the darkness and brutality of war, the squalid living conditions of the soldiers and the people of Stalingrad, the horrifyingly blasé attitude toward killing other people are what made it seem real to audiences. And we are willing to accept the horrors as real. Somehow, we can accept the idea of Soviet officers sending hundreds of unarmed men to charge into machine-gun fire, even if it never happened.

Sticking to the facts

It’s very important to me to get the details right in my fiction. I spent years researching the Eastern Front Trilogy (mentioned above). I spoke with the subject of the book, my father-in-law, Maurice Bury at length about the details that he witnessed. And I lost count of the number of books and websites I read and consulted for the larger sweep of the story, for the statistics and dates that key events happened on. Even for the military units that took part in various battles.

Getting the weapons right was also important. One of the details that Maurice told me about, that really stuck with me, was his description of the immense Soviet “Stalin” tanks that were so heavy, they sank into the mud.

Or the numbers of horses that both sides used to haul men and machines across the landscape.

And the noise — the thing that he remembered the most.

Even when writing historical fiction, I find myself spending hours researching history. For example, I am working on a fantasy set in the Eastern Roman Empire of the early 6th century CE (most people know this as the Byzantine Empire). It’s a fantasy, so the facts really aren’t that important, but I can spend hours looking up how long it would take to travel by horse from Constantinople to Nicomedia, or the types of clothes Romans wore in 602 CE, or the cost of a night in an inn or a jug of ale.

It’s my effort to bring authenticity closer to accuracy.

Fortunately, I have been able to find most of the answers I need, such as the cost of a horse or the denominations of Byzantine coins; the types of weapons and armour used by Byzantine soldiers and cavalry; they kinds of ships used. Roman historians were thorough.

Why is it important?

Why indeed? Depending on the genre, readers tend to be very finicky about details.

With thrillers and mysteries, readers will let the author know about errors when it comes to guns and ammunition. With historical fiction and non-fiction, readers tend to already know a lot about their favourite eras.

It seems that while audiences are willing to excuse departures from fiction on the big things, they’re not so forgiving when it comes to the tiny details.

It’s perplexing. Why do you think that is?

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, a pesky cat and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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Why I write—and why I write what I write

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Monday musings from bestselling author

David C. Cassidy

I’m a visual person. A creative person. As a photographer, I’m trained to “see” images before I make them. I’m trained to “create” them.

For me, writing is equally visual. I see words in my head; entire scenes play out like a movie. Some would call me a scatterbrain, and they’d be right. My head is in a state of constant flux. Words and images bombard me all the time, at the same time. Think of it this way. If the human mind was a bowl of Smarties, mine is a bowl that’s been dropped to the floor, those sugar-coated yummies rolling away in every direction. It’s brain bedlam.

So why do I write? It’s the only way I can bring order to chaos. In photography, the chaos comes from standing in front a subject and considering the different ways I can make that killer shot. What lens? How much depth of field? What light will work best? Colour? Black and white? So much chaos. It sounds melodramatic, but you get the idea—making “the shot” brings order. A kind of inner peace, if you will.

When I’m writing, the chaos is all those details that make up a book. Characters. Relationships. Plot. Setting. Conflict. Resolution. Sorting these all out and weaving them into a compelling story brings order for me. It ends the chaos, and, like making that great photo, brings calm. Brings peace.

So why do I write what I write?

I’m known as a horror writer. But it’s not what I write. I write people.

You read that right.

Not, about people. People. Period.

My favorite films and books are all character-based stories. Sure, I love a good shoot-em-up or an episode of Star Trek as well as the next person. But only if it’s got great characters. What happens to them is secondary. If I don’t care for them, can’t relate to them, why shed a tear when little Billy gets his limbs torn off by the Swamp Monster? The reason Titanic works so well is not the special effects or the tragedy, it’s our heartfelt connection to Jack and Rose.

It comes down to this: I write people, because people are what you and I are. It’s not the bad shit that happens to them that we care about, that’s just the glue for a good yarn. It’s their story—their struggle. What it’s like for them, as an individual, to be human. To know sadness and joy. To live and to love. To fear and to die.

And for me, that brings calm … brings peace.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek inside my messed-up mind. To see what really makes me tick—and a wacky little video of what I do—visit www.davidccassidy.com/about.

Happy reading!

David C. Cassidy

David C. Cassidy

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several chilling books of horror and suspense. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating tales of terror where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.

David lives and plays in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and workouts, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

Website   |     Facebook     |     Google+     |     LinkedIn     |     Twitter     |     Instagram

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Why Hallowe’en? Because we love to see fear in the mirror

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By Scott Bury

mage courtesy Things Gunjan Draws http://thingsgunjandraws.blogspot.com

Ebola. Totalitarianism. Pandemic. Mass migration. Climate change. Terrorism.

Judging from hyperbole in social media, we are out-and-out terrified of these things. Even to the extent of people getting angry at climate activists for “spreading fear.”

We’re afraid of fear, like Franklin Roosevelt said.

And yet, at this time of year, we choose to scare ourselves by going to movies like the latest iteration of the Joker.

What does that say about the creators of things scary?

The job we have chosen as writers of fantasy and speculative fiction is to reflect our audience’s fears back to them in symbolic way. Perhaps this is a way to help deal with them, but mostly, it’s because through fantasy, we can take some joy from our fears as well as, well, fear. It’s like riding a roller-coaster: it’s fun because it scares us, but we’re really safe.

A long, grisly, nasty yet honourable tradition

This is what fantasy writers have always done: writing stories about mythical, legendary and magical symbols and themes, stories that give us another way to look at what’s really bothering us. It has a long history in a technological era:

  • Godzilla, the monster awakened by atomic radiation and that could breathe out “atomic fire,” reflected our fears of nuclear war and radiation.
  • Zombies, like those in World War Z, Night of the Living Dead or The Walking Dead reflect our fear of incurable, virulent and especially contagious pandemics, made even more horrifying and destructive by their ability to instantly render their victims as vessels of further transmission.
  • US, Misomar, Saw and other recent horror films and books play on our current fears, sublimating everything from surveillance, to loss of home, and of course, the old standby, the Other—people not of our tribe, and therefore a threat.
  • Dracula, the Un-Dead, the progenitor of nearly all the vampire books since, plays on several fears. First is the fear of contagion—Bram Stoker’s heroes thought Lucy’s affliction was a blood disease, after all – but also the fear of being infected with something that will change your nature (becoming a vampire). There is also the fear of the Other, the foreigner, the intruder who by his very nature is dangerous. But mostly, Dracula was a sublimation of the greatest fear of the Victorian era: sex.

Yes, I am saying that sucking up blood was the only way that a Victorian era writer would portray sexual lust without getting banned or arrested. Don’t believe me? The vampire was ultimately defeated by a woman’s sexual attractiveness. Oh, sure, Dracula said he was only interested in her blood. But he was lured to his doom by a beautiful young woman, who invited the vampire into her bedroom and made him stay all night long. Now tell me Stoker was not writing about sex.

Still holding onto that argument? Watch Francis Ford Coppola’s film based on the book and try to sustain it.

Today, writing about fear of pandemic is just too easy. Vampires or zombies with ebola-like symptoms is obvious.

But what about climate change? What sorts of fantasy tropes symbolize that without being overly literal? Now there’s a challenge for this capable gang to take on.

The biggest fear, though, that I can see is the fear of change. Any new idea still evokes howls from predictable corners. How would fantasy writers deal with that? What about fantasy readers? What suggestions or challenges do you have for your favourite writers?

Leave your suggestions in the Comments.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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Memory and dialog

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Monday musing

By Scott Bury

Photo by Max Goncharov on Unsplash

How does memory factor into my writing? Thinking about this brought me to one of my earliest memories: July 31, 1965. 

On that warm, sunny Winnipeg summer day, I was standing on the front steps of my parents’ home. My father was sitting on the top step in front of me, and around me were some other kids from the neighbourhood.

I cannot remember what the conversation was about, but I can remember that at one point, I said, “today is the first day of August.” I remember feeling that I was kind of going out on a limb; I remember not being sure that what I said was true.

“Not quite,” my father said. “Tomorrow is August first.”

And I can remember, strangely enough, feeling pretty good about that—about being close to knowing the date, because I was sure that none of the other four- and five-year olds there had any clue what the date was. I can remember at least one of them being surprised that I was as close as I was. After all, even a grown-up could err on the date by one day, right?

I was four at the time (now you know my age). There were no cell phones to check the date and time on. Phones then were heavy, clunky black things tethered to the wall by stout wires, or screwed to it in the kitchen. Actually, every family I knew had only one phone.

We also all had black-and-white television sets—huge wooden crates with a screen maybe a foot across. I remember how my parents and I used to fiddle with the rabbit-ear antennas on top, or the fine-tuning dial around the channel-changing dial beside the screen to try to clear up the image on the screen.

I remember the white stucco house with the blue wooden trim that we lived in. The front yard seemed as wide as a park, and I remember the oak tree as immense, with a canopy that gave enough shade for family picnics.

I don’t know whether this memory directly informs my writing. But I have always loved blue-and-white houses, and I was immediately taken with Cycladean architecture when I saw pictures of it during high school. 

Unsplash

But there is one lesson I think we can draw from this. Think of your own favourite memories. They’re probably not about big, dramatic events. They’re probably of quieter moments with your families, when you’re not doing anything in particular. No one says anything life-changing.

If there is something about this memory that has any effect in my writing, it’s that. People don’t usually speak in full sentences, and what they say does not seem memorable, at first. And yet, that’s what we do remember. At least, I do. 

This is where I find a lot of fiction writers go wrong. They try to pack so much into dialogue that it sounds false. Listen to some of the everyday conversations around you. People almost never speak in full sentences, they make mistakes all the time, they start sentences, change their mind part-way through, backtrack part way and substitute words. And if you ever tried to re-create the funniest, most enjoyable, laughter-filled conversation you ever had on paper, it probably came out as gibberish. This is why most politicians sound false: they’ve prepared what they say.

I know that stumbling speech with little import makes for bad reading. But still, I remember those quiet times and those gentle conversations, and to me, they’re the most real memories I have.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

Since then, he has published mysteries, thrillers and a three-volume biography, the Eastern Front triology: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War, the true story of a Canadian-born man drafted into the Soviet Red Army in World War II.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

Learn more about Scott from his:

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Thursday teaser: Meant for Her

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This week’s excerpt is from the New Adult romance

By Raine Thomas

“There’s something invigorating about autumn in Atlanta,” she said. “It represents promise.”

“Promise for what?”

She shrugged. “Endless possibilities.”

He frowned. What the hell did that mean?

Once again, she took his hand. “You looked lost in there, Evan Dorsey. I thought maybe I could do something to help guide you on your way.”

Pulling his hand from hers, he said, “You don’t know anything about me.”

“I don’t need to.” She tilted her head to the side and looked at him with her compelling eyes. “Have you been sick?”

The question made him glance away. He supposed she hadn’t done her research before making this approach. Still, she was closer to the truth than made him comfortable.

Her voice was quiet when she continued, “I ask because your suit looks tailored, but it’s loose on you right now, as though you’ve lost weight. There are dark circles under your eyes, making me think you aren’t sleeping well and probably haven’t been eating right. And your hair is short, like it’s just growing back. Since your scalp is pale, I assume you don’t normally wear your hair that way.”

Jesus, she was observant. Shaking his head, he turned to walk back into the reception.

“I see,” she said. Her tone made him hesitate. “I’m so sorry for your loss, Evan.”

When her slender arms went around him from behind, he didn’t know what to do. No one had ever offered him such a pure gesture of comfort. Everyone who attended the funeral had been too emotionally involved to do so, not that it would have been welcome.

But this hug from a stranger was about to undo him.

He stood frozen in place as she walked around him to face him again. His gaze moved down to her bare feet and noted that her nails were the same shade of purple as the streaks in her hair. Belatedly, he considered how cold she must be.

“I can see that you’re in a dark place,” she said, touching the side of his face. It was just the whisper of a caress, but it made his throat tighten. “It’s good that you honor the memory of this person you loved. But don’t be afraid to live now. What you’ve gone through, it will bring you where you need to be. Even the stars can’t shine without darkness.”

Mesmerized, he didn’t resist when she pulled him down. He closed his eyes when her lips touched his. She kissed him, an expression of comfort more than passion. The taste of sweet champagne lingered when they parted. She smiled again, her dimples teasing him, then turned and walked back inside.

After a moment, he followed her. This woman whose name he didn’t even know had given him more to think about in their few minutes together than anyone had in a long time. For someone who appeared no older than her early twenties, she had incredible insight.

She’d given him a glimpse of light that he hadn’t even known he craved. He supposed the least he could do was thank her.

Returning to the reception, he went looking for her. He figured she’d return to the dance floor, so he started there. After twenty minutes, he had to give up.

She was gone.

About Meant for Her

Photographer Sierra Stratton views the world through a lens all her own. She has an uncanny sense about people, something that often causes her trouble. When she meets the sexy and brooding Evan Dorsey, her intuition tells her he’s suffering, and she wants to be the one to help him.

Evan isn’t open to help from anyone, however. His focus is on his Major League career and making himself as marketable as possible for his upcoming free agency. He plans to ride out the season in Atlanta and then sign with another team, away from the painful memories that haunt him.

Someone’s eager to send him on his way, too. Between anonymous threats and equipment sabotage, it’s clear he’s earned himself an enemy along the way. To him, it’s one more sign that he’s right to move on.

But Sierra threatens his conviction. Her contagious smile proves hard to resist, as does her kiss. She tempts him in ways he never anticipated, making him question his plans for the first time. If he’s not careful, she might just convince him that he’s meant for her.

Where to get it

Raine Thomas

is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream.

When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Connect with Raine at her

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