Tuesday 21 March 2017

Release day -- Time and Circumstance by Theresa Milstein -- guest post.

Hi all!

This year I've made a commitment to read and review more blogger books and do the occasional host post on bloggers whose books I've read.

Today I'm hosting a blogger I've known for years, fellow teacher Theresa Milstein. She was kind enough to send me a copy of her book, Time & Circumstance for review, which I devoured very quickly, being a huge fan of flash fiction and poetry. And, great news, it's released TODAY!

Here's my very short review, already posted on Goodreads:

Time and Circumstance is especially interesting, as we don't often see a compilation of both flash fiction and poetry. PART ONE - TEMPO ADAGIO is prose, cutting edge slices of life, beautifully written, at times humorous, at times poignant, at times sad. Theresa captured my attention right from the first story - RESOLUTION - told from the POV of an 18 year old college student. The protagonist is torn between the nostalgic TV shows she finds addictive such as Bewitched and her college attendance. I love the lines: 'Who wouldn't perform magic to make their lives better?' Who indeed?

PART TWO - TEMPO ALLEGRO, is the poetry selection. Theresa's love of poetry shines through. I was taken by her (I'm not sure what they're called in the US,) shape poems, especially the PERFECT STATE OF BEING where she writes about Spirit Mind Body. I love the poem and how it appears on the page.

I hope I've given you the tiniest taste of Theresa's excellent book. I hope you'll support her on her blog tour (go HERE for the times/dates/hosts) and be convinced to buy her book.

So, over to you, Theresa!

The ways these stories came about are as varied as the stories themselves. After writing full-length manuscripts for children and teens seriously for five or six years, I finally started writing short stories. I’d heard I would learn to make every word count. Also, I wanted to start being published, and Stephen King started by getting short stories published.

Around the same time I began writing short stories, I wrote some flash fiction based on some blog challenges and I took a poetry workshop series. Then Jessica Bell began Vine Leaves Literary Journal to promote the vignette. Realizing there could be pieces where the main goal wasn’t beginning-middle-end was freeing for me. I enjoyed taking a small space and expanding on mood, setting, character.

The first part of my book, Time and Circumstance, is dedicated to prose. I included “Daisy,” which is the first story I ever submitted and which got published. It was originally in an anthology 100 Stories for Queensland to raise money for flood victims. It was the first piece I’d ever written for adults, and it’s deliciously dark. The original inspiration is from a TV show called L.A. Law. I can’t say which episode, or it will give the ending away! The pieces included in that section were also inspired by picture prompts, blog challenges, and events in my own life.

The second part of the book is dedicated to poetry. There too is the first poem I ever got published, “Dark Days,” which appeared in Vine Leaves Literary Journal. That poem explores a broken family from the perspective of a teen. I often paired the poetry in this section with picture prompts from a now inactive blog called “Magpie Tales.” Sometimes I wrote the poem first, and when a photo or painting posted that seemed to fit, I connected them. Other times the paintings and photos inspired me to write a poem. But many poems are inspired by my own life.

When I began pulling pieces for the collection, written over five years, this theme of the unrelenting passage of time surfaced.  In these last couple of years as my children are growing, it’s been weighing on me what a short gift I had to have this family of four. People we love come into our lives just as easily as they leave it. No matter how much we want to hold onto time, every moment is just a phase. And we are a product of our time, our circumstance. So my favorite quote by James Baldwin became the title to bring these small pieces together.

Theresa Milstein writes middle grade and YA, but poetry is her secret passion. Her vignette collection, TIME and CIRCUMSTANCE, will be published by Vine Leaves Press on March 21, 2017. She lives near Boston Massachusetts with her husband, two children, a dog-like cat, and a cat-like dog. For her day job, she works as a special education teacher in a public school, which gives her ample opportunity to observe teens and tweens in their natural habitat. 


$3.99 AUD (eBook)
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$12.99 AUD (paperback)
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Leave a comment  and you’re eligible to win a prize during my blog tour!

1 $25 Amazon gift card
1 signed paperback copy
1 ebook

Answer the question:
“If you could relive any moment in time, what would it be?”

Extra entries if you share on Facebook or Twitter and link it to me.
@TheresaMilstein on Twitter.
@Theresa Milstein on Facebook
#ReliveMoment or #TimeandCircumstance

Winners will be announced on April 5, 2017

Thanks so much for dropping by and telling us more about yourself, your writing, and your book, Theresa. I wish you happy trails and happy sales! 

I'm especially interested in how many of your stories/poems were the product of participating in blog challenges etc. I can say the same thing happens with me.

Monday 13 March 2017

Travelling the Australian Outback and ... The Fourth Industrial Revolution -- what does that mean to us? ... Selling your book on social media.

Hello, social media tragics. 

This is one of those hated long posts which I actually enjoy reading if there's something interesting going on. You choose. You don't have to read it. I start off with some travel bits, (I promised I'd be talking more about Oz), then I move on to the state of the digital world, then have a chat about selling books on social media. If none of that interests you...phew, I've saved you some time. Lots of other blogs a'waiting a visit.

I'm back from my road trip through the Australian Outback. I drove through western Queensland, western New South Wales, outback South Australia to Adelaide. Then on the way back to South-East Queensland where I live, I drove through Victoria, then the western plains of New South Wales, then back through western Queensland. 2,200 kilometres in all. I survived. And I have lots of stories to write for travel mags!

Love old churches. Saw lots of old churches in the bush. This one still had money in the collection plate and showed signs of use!

Architecture from an earlier era. So much better than most modern buildings.

Only in the middle of what we call Woop Woop would you find a coffee shop like this. 

Finally...after 1,200 kilometres I get to the beach -- Glenelg, an historic beach a tram ride from Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.

The times they are a'changing. Never more obvious than when you drive through the bush and see life how it used to be. Of course, the old ways are dying...sadly. What do you do when your country no longer manufactures goods in your little town?  Hello! Some of these little towns had printing presses! Go figure! But you move on. Leave the towns to die...sadly. Some towns are just hanging on...some are all but abandoned. 85% of Aussies live 50 kilometres from the coast. Not many hang out in the Dead Centre.

Sheep are still driven through towns once a year to be shorn at the shearing sheds. Caught this flock which held up the road for half and hour. Made for great video and photos. Thousands of the cute little woolly blighters.
But, we're living in pretty exciting times, depending on your point of view. Some think this world is moving along too fast and would like to go back to a gentler time, a time when people talked face-to-face more than phone-to-phone. When people wrote letters, not emails. When people had time to waste, (er, create), to ponder, to imagine. Sorry, but those days are gone unless you work for Google, where you bounce around on fitballs, throw outrageous ideas at each other until one sticks. Now we're all frantically tapping our phones, our laptops, instead of tapping each other on the shoulder, saying 'hi!' On my travels, half the time I didn't even have a mobile signal! Satellite phones are de rigeuer in the outback!

Don't you shake your head at the craziness of our modern world, a world where Boris Johnson, ex London mayor and now the UK Foreign Minister, gets turned away from the political love fest that was the Munich Security Conference because he forgot his ID? (Well, I guess it was a security conference.) My point is, that is a modern story. Once upon a time, a handshake was good enough.

I digress...how about this Fourth Industrial Revolution I keep reading about?
"We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold...
The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres."              Extract from the World Economic Forum, 2016.

So now, Luddites and others who have bleeding fingernails from clinging on to the 'old ways.' We're moving into the Fourth Industrial Revolution whether we like it or not, this one is all about technology. Already in this world where nothing is private, what we say online has a forever impact. And I'm not just talking the CIA, the NSA, WikiLeaks et al. Once you post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, your blog and so forth, it's un-erasable. You might think if you click 'delete' your words are gone, but no, you just think they are. And, hello, it's been said that Facebook is the biggest spy agency in the world -- move over NSA. 

If you're using social media because you want to sell books, I've read that what you say on social media can have an impact on your success. There are right and wrong ways to go about it...apparently.


Social media changes all the time. It morphs. I love to blog, but my favourite social media is Instagram. It's so undemanding. I love to travel, I love to take photos and I love to see others' photos. That's how Instagram started out. But now, many author/bloggers are discovering Instagram, and it's fast going the way of Facebook, Twitter and the blogs. It's becoming all about 'buy-my-book'.


I know you've got to go where the fish are, but people on Instagram are there to drool over pictures of food, Paris or Istanbul or some monastery on top of some unattainable mountain. Not to buy your book. Okay, if you have a book to sell (and who doesn't?), you have to learn to navigate the waters and throw your line in at the right place if you want to catch a fish.

I saw this on Kristen Lamb's blog:
"Whenever we decide we might one day sell our book, we are making a decision to be a professional. Being a professional comes with certain rules that don't generally apply to regular people."
And about that...we don't really know what the rules are. At least I don't. I suspect many authors with a book to sell are trying this, trying that, hoping something will stick. Who has the answers to book promotion? Most of us have found out what doesn't work. Who can tell us what does?

A simple fact. People buy books from people they know and I guess everyone is trying to get known on the blogs and other social media. Sure, we can easily surf Amazon, but I still love going to bricks and mortar book stores (we still have plenty in Australia--we are backward Down Under, after all) -- and 'surfing the shelves' and supporting hard-working booksellers gives me a buzz I don't get on Amazon. Does my favourite author have a new book out? How did I miss this one? It's in the bag.

However, if you're thinking, darn it, she'll never buy my book, it's only digital on Amazon, my eye is occasionally captured by a book on social media such as Twitter and I'll find out more about it and usually buy it. 

But this is the thing. People probably won't buy a book from someone who's been ranting and raving on Twitter or Facebook, unless they like that particular rant and rave. I read comments on posts on FB. Do you? People are not going to buy books from nasty people who berate anyone with a different opinion, or call them names. No. No. No. Social media is supposed to be social and is governed by the same social rules as any non-digital get-together. Be polite. Be friendly. It's not all about me-me-me or you-you-you.


Don't you hate those posts on FB where people threaten to unfollow you (silly word) if you don't obey what they're telling you to do? (((sniff))) (((sniff))) Go ahead. Unfollow me. I care about the Syrians and Iraqis getting blown to bits and the famines in Somalia and the Sudan, oh, and global warming, but I don't care who unfollows me on FB. If someone annoys me too much, I just unfriend/unfollow/block...whatever...quietly, no fuss, no fanfare. I don't have to tell anyone about it. Not in my space. Each of us has a right to set our own boundaries.

I don't mind political rants especially when I can laugh at them, being a political animal myself, and there's just so much political  nonsense to laugh about at the moment, but I hate when the comments turn nasty. I know. Life is tough. We're so easily offended or outraged these days. Let's reclaim the calm.

Try one of the old, pre-Fourth Industrial Revolution quirky things...

Read the Bible or another spiritual tome.


Do yoga.

Do Tai-Chi

Sit at the beach.

Climb to the top of a mountain.

Travel, immerse yourself in another culture then you'll probably appreciate yours more.

Listen to a beautiful audio book if that's your bag.

Oh, that sounds like I'm a Luddite. Funny that so many people are pushing back, trying to reclaim the calm in this screaming world. 

Being calm is a big ask in our world's very strange, dangerous, unpredictable political climate, especially when plenty of people are using social media to stir up their followers, to incite them to activism, but let's be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Want people to buy your books? Play nice. Buy other author's books. Read them right through. Write reviews. Tell everyone when you finish an excellent book.

Okay, I'm currently reading Forbidden by Judy Feather Stone blogger. A great cross-cultural romance. Bit of the Amazon blurb:

Year 2047, City of Samarra, capital of the Republic of Islamic Provinces & Territories

Fifteen American travelers have vanished.

And what do you know...the CIA is involved!

Catch you next time!

What are you reading? Or just finished? Tell us about it...

Wednesday 1 March 2017

#IWSG post -- March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Here we are again! Another month, another security or insecurity. How this year is flying by!

It's always a good way to mark the beginning of the month by posting/reading for the IWSG. My head is full of other things this month, like heading off on a road trip through outback Australia -- 2.054 kilometres (1.276  miles) each way.

I leave today, March 1st.

Image result for image of australian outback

Thanks to Alex's awesome co-hosts for the March 1 IWSG: Tamara Narayan,Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!

Today I'll go with the question:

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it?

Well, sort of. But the 'really old story' I'm talking about is my vampire novella. 'Under the Tuscan Moon' was my indulgence published in 2015 - written with an ancient slant to the language as it was more likely spoken in the 16th century. Some readers found the language off putting, others thought it was exquisite. Commercial viability has won, and after doing two posts on self-publishing I've used some of the feedback to kick start my sales. Probably the most important advice was to think about my target audience (thanks L Diane Wolfe). So I've done this, and have come up with a new title, new author name, and most importantly, new cover, so there's no doubt what lies inside the pages. Currently, I'm re-writing the whole story, galloping along in modern English at a much faster pace.

Along with my good friend Lynda Young, I attended a Joanna Penn lecture/discussion on self-publishing yesterday (basically, why would you do anything else, she asks?) Joanna is a great proponent of reworking her books -- new covers, fixing anything a reader may have pointed out etc etc. She staggered us by saying she does this monthly! Egad!

So, yes, I believe in reworking stories. I'll let you know how it goes when I re-publish.

Hope you have as much fun as I intend to this month!

And thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit little 'ole me. Looking forward to visiting you as wifi and travel miles allow.