Sunday, 30 August 2015

Meet Charles Cross #RPBP

Meet debut author Charles Cross, who has just released his book of poems entitled, If I Settle Down.

Charles Cross lives alone in East Tennessee where he is buried alive underneath the dogged pursuit of credit card companies and unpaid student loans.

I recently interviewed Charles for my Rukia Publishing blog take a look here. This is a talented author who we will be seeing a lot more of....Watch this space and remember who told you first!

Get your copy of this new release at:
Amazon ebooks
Amazon paperback

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Part 2 in my 'Behind the scenes' series - today featuring The Black Rose #RPBP

Welcome to the behind the scenes series from the Rukia featured authors. Today we welcome back The Black Rose for part two of the making of The Yugoslavian.
If you missed part one you can find it here

We would love to get your feedback so please leave a comment.

The Making of The Yugoslavian – Part Two

In Search of the Perfect Cover Photo

Here we go, this was a challenge. I started laying out book covers back in 1995. I tried images that looked like postcards, searched the Internet for images to purchase, created a plain cover…nothing quite fit the story. In 2012, when I gave myself a deadline to publish the story, I again started searching for the perfect cover photo. It had to be a photograph that captured the mood of the novel. Unlike my other series, The Killing Game Series, which is more of a dark drama, this story always gave me a sense of the color gray or blue.

Again, I searched online. The years made a difference on what could be purchased from stock photo companies. I searched, but nothing was right. Being a photographer, I almost always have some form of a camera in my possession. In the morning when I’m out in the yard with my pup, I’m usually photographing her. (Last count was about 8 years ago and I had a little over 17,000 photographs of her. I can only imagine how many I’ve taken since.) The view from the yard is spectacular, especially in winter. I had spent a good deal of time photographing the woods and I was intrigued by the trees across the lake approximately half a mile away. I spent several days the winter of 2013 capturing images. I transferred the photographs to my computer, not actually examining them because I could take 100 or so in any one session.

Spring came and I thought perhaps a cemetery would give me the atmosphere I sought. I wrote to two of the larger historic cemeteries just outside of Manhattan, gained permission to photograph there and found several worthy statues. Even with the fabulous shots I took, the cover wasn’t coming from that session.

Typically the way I photograph is shooting a series of the very same subject, changing lighting, angle, etc. Most of the time I will do what I call a sweep, using the motor drive at high speed to reduce blur when not using a tripod. That sometimes provides hundreds of photographs to examine and look through. That is time-consuming, but a valuable practice because each millisecond the light changes and the captured essence in one shot may not have been in the shot before or just after.

I went back and began reviewing all the winter shots I had and there were three photographs, taken in succession, of three different locations of the trees across the lake all on February 11, 2013. The first was taken at 1:00 pm, the second at 1:02 pm, and the third at 1:03 pm.

Nothing was taken in between. The time lapse was me moving from one location to the next. Three individual scenes, all beautiful and secretive. My goal was to see the trees across the lake while simultaneously creating a mystery as if someone is looking through binoculars or perhaps a rifle scope. Someone who is hiding, someone who doesn’t want to be seen. The winner was obvious. After manipulating the color to bring out the blue emotion, the end result was:

After changing the hue, finding the right lightness and adding the text, the front cover was perfect for the story. This is the final product.

Quite often I get scolded for obscuring my name. But the story is about the characters, even if my heart and soul are behind each and every word. Writing is an art. Once you have committed your story to paper, finding the perfect image to reflect what your heart has transcribed is sometimes the hardest part of the entire writing process. It is said,“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” They’re right. Just as you can’t judge a book by its title (another thing I hear about from people). Yet it is true. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And even if everyone doesn’t see the wintery mystery of someone spying through the trees in this cover, my heart is content in knowing no other image could take its place.

In the end, the perfect cover photograph was right in my backyard…

If you would like to connect with The Black Rose or see more of her photography or get a copy of The Yugoslavian here are the links you need: (Amazon) (Barnes & Noble)
Amazon look inside feature
The Yugoslavian page from
The soundtrack to The Yugoslavian
Book Trailer The Wanted Man
Tess Travel Journal YouTube

Friday, 14 August 2015

How fiction authors develop an idea into a captivating novel #RPBP

Welcome to my guest blogger today The Black Rose. Ever since my first read of The Yugoslavian, I have been a huge fan of her work. It always interests me, as non-fiction author, how fiction authors develop an idea into a captivating novel and what other elements need to be considered  to maintain authenticity. I hand you over to The Black Rose for part one of this insightful guest blog.

Hello Sarah Jane, thanks for inviting me to talk about how I work and what goes on behind the scenes. I have divided this feature into two parts. The first part includes talking about writing The Yugoslavian without actually being in Sarajevo. What motivated me and the decisions for the story line along with why the book is more pro-Serb than anti-Serb. In the second part, I talk about my decades-long search for the perfect cover photo. I stressed over it—it had to be perfect. Tried a few things that didn’t do it for me and eventually found the perfect cover in my own back yard…literally. 

The Making of The Yugoslavian – Part One

Writing it without having been there 
I’m not certain how it happened, but it did. I was in the throws of writing The Killing Game and one day I looked at a photograph of a man and directly into his eyes, a man from the former Yugoslavia. In my head, I heard a man’s voice, “Write a story about my country.” I heard that voice in my head so clearly as if whoever he was right there with me. Whose voice was it I heard? God’s? My favorite, Archangel Michael’s? Or someone else’s? It was difficult to know, but it was an idea I could not let go of. I tried not to think about it, but again, within about fifteen minutes to half an hour, I was busily typing the opening sequence on my computer.At that point, I had written the story from beginning to end inside my head and it was now clamoring to get out. This was during the Christmas holiday of 1994 when the siege for Sarajevo was hot and heavy. I had read and listened to the news about the war, but I did not quite understand it. The press painted the reason behind the war as “ethnic cleansing due to religious differences” but that sounded so bogus. So I started to dig. I started asking questions and found that most of the facts were cloaked in the propaganda of the war’s side effects. I started searching for people from the former Yugoslavia and I found them. I asked questions and received many different points of view--it was a bit mind boggling.

From all the information I gleaned, there was more confusion than sense to be made of it all. That, in essence, was the crux of the war and would be the backdrop of my story. Misconceptions, lies, deceptions, loss and, lost causes gave me only a few choices for conjuring a story about a place I had neither traveled to nor seen the war up close. Actually, I’ve never seen war up close. I have seen a lot of things in life but not war. So how do I write about it?

First, I had to decide what the story would be about. That took a whole of two seconds. I write about interpersonal relationships (let’s call it IR for this segment).And what sort of IR would this story be about? Naturally a man and woman, but not the typical man/woman relationship. War would cause issues, would it not? Are they both from Yugoslavia or from somewhere else? If they were from the same country, they might be clawing to get out of there. If from different countries, how would they get in? Or better, why?

At the time, there were several movies in the works about this situation but my story had to be different. Nothing yet told the everyday stories of those who fought to stay alive in this war. I wanted my story to be about that. No one spoke about the everyday heroes that stove to help others who could not help themselves. The news made it sound as if the civilian populace were rabid dogs,fighting with anyone and everyone to get what they could. And that was only when they cared to report on civilians other than the major atrocities. But the press has always been about sensationalism because that sells newspapers. I wanted something different. Something that would speak to the heart and soul of the people.

The answer was obvious. A man from Yugoslavia and a woman from America. But what would bring her out of her comfortable existence in the US to a war-torncountry? It did not take long to formulate the answer, which was a concern since I first heard about the war—the children who had lost their parents? Yes, an orphan would be something motivating to bring the heroine from her safe environment. It would be enough to make me want to find her. So the story would be about a man from Yugoslavia, a woman from America, and an orphan.

I had written a sketch before I found sites documenting the atrocities of this war.My sketches consist of cohesive thoughts laid out in the order they will occur, usually needing the details filled in later. So I wrote this sketch before I read about the prison camps held by all three warring sides: Muslims, Croatians, and Serbians. Mind you, when I use these ethnic titles, I am speaking about the military sides of the war, not the civilian population. However, nationalist ideologies do bleed out into the civilian population. But my story is about one man, with only the ideology of what is right by God’s laws. It was my goal to tell the story of a man who, though not of Serbian descent, was raised by a Serbian family. In this situation, alesser man might have been swayed by his nationalist ancestry and turned on the very people that gave him a beautiful life. In the heroes own words:

“Sergej told me that you won’t turn your back on a friend. A friend is a friend until that friend proves otherwise,” she said.

“If I do not keep my word, what sort of a man am I?” he asked, briefly reflecting on private thoughts. “Even if no one else mattered, how could I turn my back on the one person that took me in when I had no home? How could I turn against the one person that gave me everything when I had nothing, even after I stole from her? How could I ever turn my back on Mrs. Tomić?”

For now, I am not going to go into details about what caused the war. Read the book and you will get enough information to understand its cause without belaboring the war itself. Read the book and you will be pulled into an adventure, less about war and more about love and honor. Through those emotions, your heart will feel the story. It will feel the plight of those souls stuck in the middle of warring factions, fighting for all they felt was right. And when it comes to the end you will either relate to the characters and say to yourself, that’s exactly what I would have done. Or you will slam the book shut and say getting involved was stupid. Regardless, you will have felt something and that, in the end, is what writing is about. Love, hate, sorrow, joy—whatever the emotion, the point is that you felt it while you were in the story.

Don't miss part 2 of this feature here very soon!

The Yugoslavian available at:
Check out the look inside feature: 

Visit The Yugoslavian page from the author website theblackrosenyc.com 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Monday update from Sarah Jane in the world of memoirs! #RPBP

I must be getting old because time seems to be going so fast of late, or is it that my life is just so busy!
August is turning into a busy month in my world of memoirs. The month got underway with the wonderful news that Our Frugal Summer in Charente was voted by readers to be one of the top 50 self-published books of 2015 worth reading. This culinary memoir continues to receive glowing 5-star reviews from readers interested in cooking, frugal living, gardening, France and the continuing story of our family travel adventures. 
Meanwhile I have been working on The Nomadic Nurse Series and I am preparing for the release of the first book in this new series of memoirs based on almost three decades in the nursing profession. Ooh Matron! is on pre-order now at all distributors! Release date 14th September - watch for news of the launch day party!

Sarah Jane has no career aspirations, all she wants is to leave school, work as a cashier at Woolworths and get married. Then everything changes and she finds herself wearing a fluorescent pink uniform and studying to get into Nursing School. What inspired this surprising change of direction? What happens when she leaves home to live in a garrison town with a housemate who is a party animal? The big question being, is she really cut out to be a nurse? 
Let's start at the beginning with Sarah Jane as a sixteen-year-old country girl, a bit old fashioned but who has a mischievous sense of humour and who suddenly decides she wants to be a nurse! 

"This funny, yet poignant nursing memoir has Sarah Jane's trademark honest writing style which shines through in every story she tells. From starting her student nurse training in Essex to coping with patients in happy, sad and heart-breaking situations. It gives you a young woman's view into the realities of entering the world of nursing in the 1980’s. A highly entertaining and informative memoir which was able to take me from laughing out loud to having welled tears of empathy." S. Brewster (Amazon)

All of this book promotion work is in addition to my other newish role as a grandmother (or nanny) to the gorgeous Shane now 10 months old and getting cuter and more mobile by the day.

So without further ado I bid you farewell as I get back to work.

Be sure to pass on my new release news!
Take care and have a great week.
Sarah Jane