Category Archives: literary fiction

ARCs of It Never Was You available now

UPDATE 24th APRIL 2013
ARCs of It Never Was You are no longer available, as the ebook has now launched. 
If you are a reviewer or blogger interested in receiving a copy of William’s books in exchange for an honest and fair review, then please contact me by sending an email to contactus AT acuteanglebooks.co.uk. 


CALLING ALL READERS OF LITERARY FICTION!

It Never Was You will be released in paperback and ebook at the end of April.

In the run up to the launch, I am releasing 50 Electronic Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of It Never Was You to readers in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Fill in the form below to request your copy now!

I will send an ebook (in the correct format for your reading device) to any reader who agrees to post an honest and fair review on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk (wherever you are based) within 4 weeks of the book’s publication date (24th April 2013). Reviews do not have to be positive – just honest – but please read the description below before requesting your copy.

You will gain extra brownie points if you also post your review on your blog, Goodreads, B&N, Waterstones, etc.

Will you enjoy It Never Was You

If you enjoy reading emotional stories with war as the background – but not necessarily “war fiction” (think Pat Barker, Sebastian Faulks, Ian McEwan, Louis de Bernières) you’ll love William’s books.

Part love story, part social history, The Cypress Branches trilogy weaves together the stories of an incredible set of characters whose lives and loves are buffeted by the ever changing attitudes and politics of the post-war era. They are ordinary people caught up in extraordinary times and it makes for exhilarating reading. 

In part 1 of the trilogy, Pegasus Falling, we followed the story of Sammy Parker, a World War II paratrooper who, after attacking a German officer, finds himself incarcerated in a concentration camp. There he discovers not only the horrors of the Nazi’s final solution, but also Naomi, a woman who Sammy comes to depend on to survive. When the camp is liberated, the couple are separated and Sammy battles to find out what happened to the woman he loves.

Part two, titled It Never Was You, follows the heartbreaking story of a quiet, middle class merchant seaman and his unexpected, tragic relationship with a beautiful and exuberant waitress from the Liverpool docks as they struggle to reconcile their feelings for each other with the class boundaries and ever changing attitudes of post-war Britain. It continues the saga started in Pegasus Falling and packs a lot of emotion, drama and history into its pages.

The book is written using UK English conventions and features British regional dialects. 

If you’d like to take part, but haven’t read Pegasus Falling (Part One of the trilogy) yet, don’t worry. It Never Was You can be read and enjoyed without reading Pegasus Falling first. 
However, if you’d prefer to read the trilogy in order, I’d be happy to supply you with an electronic copy of both books, on the proviso that you to post a review of both books on Amazon. As this will double the amount of reading you are committing to, I’ll be happy to wait a little longer for your review of It Never Was You (but not too long, mind – I’ll be dying to find out what you think!)

Ready to receive your ARC?

If you think you’d enjoy It Never Was You, and can commit to reading it before the end of April, please fill in the form below. We’ll email your ARC to you as soon as possible. 

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FIRST LOOK – It Never Was You cover images

Saturday was a very exciting day. It was the photo shoot for the images which will be used to create the cover of book two of the Cypress Branches trilogy – It Never Was You.

The day followed the same format as the previous shoot for Pegasus Falling‘s cover, gathering family and friends on a shoestring budget and having some fun with actors, period costumes and a camera. I am lucky enough to know some very skilled, very generous (and very patient) people who agreed to help me out, and must thank Geraldine Allen and Mark Godfrey for allowing themselves to be transformed into Mary and Harry (the two main characters in the second book) for the day, and once again to Rebecca Potter for her wonderful hair, make-up and 1940s styling prowess and to Dewi Clough for taking these very evocative shots.

There is a very simple theme running through the Cypress Branches covers – strong women. There is a series of strong female characters at the heart of the novels, and I thought it would be appropriate to highlight them on the covers. Lesley is depicted on the first cover, holding Sammy’s red paratrooper’s beret. The vivacious and charismatic Mary will adorn book two. I already know who will appear on book three, but I won’t spill the beans just yet.

It was a fun day and I think we’ve ended up with some very powerful images which we’ll be able to coax into a great cover artwork. Of course, the finished cover will look very different to these images (please ignore the backgrounds – they’ll be painted out). There’s a lot of work to do, but in the mean time, here’s a taster of the shots we managed to get in the can.

MARY

HARRY & MARY EMBRACE

Ignore the backgrounds in these two pictures – they’ll be edited out!

ABSTRACT

What do you think? Is there a powerful book cover in here somewhere? Do you have a favourite? What do you think we should do with the images? There are plenty of ideas that I’m keen to play around with, but any suggestions or comments are always gratefully received…

Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books of 2012 – Meet the Finalists

Just over two weeks ago now (has it really been that long?!), we discovered that William’s debut novel, Pegasus Falling, has been named as a Top 5 Finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012 contest in the Literary Fiction category. In just ten days time, we’ll know the winner.

This really is an enormous honour. The book was up against some very stiff competition – out of hundreds of entries, only five Literary Fiction books are left standing, and I can’t quite believe that Gramps’s book is in amongst them.

Since the announcement, life has been a little bit crazy. I came back from holiday (the day before the announcement!) with the intention of finishing editing It Never Was You – part two of the trilogy. But the success of Pegasus Falling has put the brakes on that one just a little bit. I’m still managing to get work done on it, but at a much slower pace than planned…

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Since the finalists were announced, I have been in touch with the other four authors and it has been fantastic getting to know them.

All five of the finalists look like incredible books, and I wouldn’t like to be the one having to choose the winner out of them. Thankfully, it’s not my decision.

Here are the other finalists in the Literary Fiction category, and links to the interviews which have been held as part of the Best Indie Books blog tour which has taken place over the last week. There are some great interviews here revealing more about the books and their authors. Please consider supporting them by picking up a copy for yourself and spreading the word. I’m certain that you won’t be disappointed by any of them.

A Death On The Wolf – G. M. Frazier

For Nelson Gody, the summer of 1969, the summer he would turn sixteen, began as all his past summers had. Life on his family’s small farm outside Bells Ferry, Mississippi, was safe and routine: chores, taking care of his little sister, working at a local gas station, swimming in the Wolf River with his best friend–his world was familiar and predictable. All that would change as young Nelson experiences his first love, wrestles with the secret his best friend has been hiding, and meets a mysterious stranger who appears one day on an exotic motorcycle called the Black Shadow. Capped by the devastating effects of hurricane Camille, the events of that summer ensured that life as Nelson knew it would never be the same again.

In his first full-length novel since since the critically acclaimed Return to Innocence (1st ed. 1999), G. M. Frazier takes us back to a simpler and more carefree time in American life with an uncompromising coming of age story that deals with hard-hitting issues that are tackled head-on with courage, not only by the writer, but by the characters he has created.  For readers who spent their tween on teen years in the late 60s, A Death on the Wolf will take you back to a familiar time and introduce you to unforgettable characters.  For younger readers, the story will give you a glimpse of teenage life that is no more, and yet shows how courage, morality, and friendship are timeless concepts in the face of life’s trials and tribulations.


Buy A Death On The Wolf at amazon.com
Buy A Death On The Wolf at amazon.co.uk

Read Gary’s interview with JoVan Williams
Read Gary’s interview with Rachelle Ayala

After The Fog – Kathleen Shoop

For every woman who thinks she left her past behind…

It’s 1948 in the steel town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous “killing smog.” Public health nurse, Rose Pavlesic, has risen above her orphaned upbringing and created a life that reflects everything she missed as a child. She’s even managed to keep her painful secrets hidden from her doting husband, loving children, and large extended family. 

When a stagnant weather pattern traps poisonous mill gasses in the valley, neighbors grow sicker and Rose’s nursing obligations thrust her into conflict she never could have fathomed. Consequences from her past collide with her present life, making her once clear decisions as gray as the suffocating smog. As pressure mounts, Rose finds she’s not the only one harboring lies. When the deadly fog finally clears, the loss of trust and faith leaves the Pavlesic family—and the whole town—splintered and shocked. With her new perspective, can Rose finally forgive herself and let her family’s healing begin?


Buy After The Fog at amazon.com
Buy After The Fog at amazon.co.uk

Read Kathie’s interview with Gemma Wilford
Read Kathie’s interview with Denise Stanley

Come Back To Me – Melissa Foster


Tess Johnson has it all: her handsome photographer husband Beau, a thriving business, and a newly discovered pregnancy. When Beau accepts an overseas photography assignment, Tess decides to wait to reveal her secret–only she’s never given the chance. Beau’s helicopter crashes in the desert.

Tess struggles with the news of Beau’s death and tries to put her life back together. Alone and dealing with a pregnancy that only reminds her of what she has lost, Tess is adrift in a world of failed plans and fallen expectations. When a new client appears offering more than just a new project, Tess must confront the circumstances of her life head on.

Meanwhile, two Iraqi women who are fleeing honor killings find Beau barely alive in the middle of the desert, his body ravaged by the crash. Suha, a doctor, and Samira, a widow and mother of three young children, nurse him back to health in a makeshift tent. Beau bonds with the women and children, and together, with the help of an underground organization, they continue their dangerous escape.

What happens next is a test of loyalties, strength, and love.


Buy Come Back To Me at amazon.com

River In The Sea – Tina Boscha

When a German soldier’s dog bolts in front of Leen’s truck, in a fraction of a second, she must make a choice: brake hard, or hit the gas.

She floors it.

What happens next sets off a chain of events that pitches Leen, just 15, and her family against the German forces when they are most desperate – and fierce. Leen tries to hold her family together, but despite her efforts, bit by bit everything falls apart.

And just when Leen experiences a horrific loss, she must make a decision that could forever brand her a traitor, yet finally allow her to live as her heart desires.

A great choice for fans of Stones From the River, The Book Thief, Those Who Save Us, and Sarah’s Key, River in the Sea is a tale of first love, tragedy, intrigue and betrayal.
Not just another war story, it is that rare book that makes your “emotions just pour from the pages as you read and continue to root for the characters” (Valerie Bowen, author of the For the Sake of Amelia series, 5/5 stars).

Inspired by the life of the author’s mother, River in the Sea is a powerfully moving account of one girl reaching adulthood when everything she believes about family, friendship, and loyalty is questioned by war. 


Buy River In The Sea at amazon.com
Buy River In The Sea at amazon.co.uk

Read Tina’s interview with Joyce Strand
Read Tina’s interview with Sylvia Stein


and then, of course, we have…

Pegasus Falling – William E. Thomas


Arnhem, 1944. Captain Stanley Adam Malcolm Parker – Sammy to his friends – and his platoon have fought bravely, but it was always a losing battle. The bridge was unwinnable. After he and his men are forced into cattle trucks and transported across Germany on a three day journey without food or water, Sammy lashes out at an SS officer with brutal and devastating consequences…for him and his German opponent.

Instead of spending the rest of his war as a POW, Sammy is sent to a concentration camp.

Spared an immediate death, Sammy discovers firsthand the full horror of the final solution. Amongst the desperation and destitution of the camp, he encounters Naomi, a Jewish housewife from Dresden. Having seen her family murdered, Naomi has learned to survive by making the most unimaginable of sacrifices. She is the woman who Sammy comes to depend on to survive himself.

But when the camp is finally liberated, the couple are separated and Sammy embarks on a journey across a continent devastated by war and wracked by ongoing tensions to find out what happened to the woman he loves.

Buy Pegasus Falling at amazon.com
Buy Pegasus Falling at amazon.co.uk

Read Mike’s interview with Amanda Socci
Read Mike’s interview with Juliette Hill

Well covered

It’s an obvious point to make really, but an important one. The front cover of a book can make or break it. In the days of old, the cover could mean the difference between picking a particular book up from the shelf and reading it and it languishing on the shelf, unloved, undiscovered and gathering dust.

In today’s world of online retail, it’s probably even more important that the cover stands out. You have to consider how it looks on screen, as well as on the shelf. Not only that, it must look good as a thumbnail as well as full-size.

It doesn’t matter how amazingly brilliant the content is, if the cover doesn’t “speak” to your audience, they won’t take a closer look. And I get the feeling that’s what’s happening with Pegasus Falling. Judging by the reviews, everyone who’s reading it is loving it, but I’ve felt that something is stopping people who are happening upon it by chance from picking it up, and I think it’s the cover.

Although I like the cover of Pegasus Falling, I’ve never felt 100% happy with it. The image, taken last summer by the talented photographer Dewi Clough with the help of a group of family and friends, is powerful and striking. But somehow, I felt that I haven’t been able to do it justice.

Out with the old – the original cover design

I’m no graphic designer – and I’ve never pretended to be. I’m operating on the tightest of budgets and can’t afford to hire one. So, I’ve put the cover together using Photoshop Elements and Publisher. I haven’t just thrown myself in to the project blind, though. At all stages of the design, I consulted book covers – hundreds of them – to see what worked and what didn’t, and have tried to emulate them. 

Oddly, the photo we settled on wasn’t the one we were going for, and was taken right at the end of the day as we were trying other ideas. We took this snap not really knowing what we were aiming for – we felt that we’d already got our shot in the bag and were just playing around, really. But it ended up our best shot, but that lack of planning is what’s lead to the problems with the cover. (A look at some of the other photos we took that day would make a good post – I’ll put one together soon.)

With the release of Pegasus Falling in the US last month, I decided to try and tweak the cover artwork to see if I couldn’t give it that killer “look”. I tried to highlight the text more, and took off a grain effect which was supposed to age the picture, but when printed just looked like it was pixelated.

The new, improved CreateSpace cover…better, but still not quite there

But the more I looked at the proof, the less I liked it. There was still something not quite right about it, and I’ve spent the last two days tinkering further with the design. 

I’ve been looking over other book covers, both mainstream and indie, and noted down what works and what doesn’t, and fixed upon two problems with our cover.

Firstly, the image is too dark. Colours on covers of literary and historical fiction books, I’ve noted, tend to be bleak and washed out wit the occasional splash of a single colour. I wanted to keep the motif of the red beret against the black and white background, but experimented with washing out the colours in photoshop.

Secondly, the text was all wrong. Everything from the font and the colour to the size and its position was all plain wrong. It felt tacky…not the impression I was going for! A problem with this image is that it takes up the entire cover – there aren’t many spaces to fit in the graphics – no dead space to fill with words. If we were taking the photo again, I’d re-frame it to take this in to account, but that’s not an option, so I’ve had to work with what we’ve got.

But the biggest difference has been changing the font. I used Lucida Bright before, a respectable classic typeface, but still too heavy. Now, I’ve gone for Trajan Pro – the graphic designer’s favourite. And there’s a reason for that. It works. Scale down the title and author name, fit both on one line each, place them both within the darker space under the hands at the bottom, remove the gold colour and hey presto, I think we’re on to a winner.

Finally, I think I’m happy with the cover. It may not be a design classic, and a graphic designer undoubtedly could do better, but I like it. It’s more sophisticated, somehow.

In with the new – the sophisticated look

And this time, I’m putting it to bed. It’s time I moved my attention fully over to It Never Was You. You can be sure I’ll have learned a lot of lessons from what I’ve gone through designing this one, and they’ll all be implemented for Part 2. I just hope I can get it right first time, next time. 

Come Monday, the new files will be uploaded to Nielsen, CreateSpace and the ebook retailers and that will be that for Pegasus Falling – no more changes! The paperback will not be available to buy for a day or two while it goes through the review process, so if you want to get hold of a copy with the original artwork, get in there quick (after all, there aren’t too many out there with that artwork, so although its inferior, you may find yourself with a collectable in years to come!)

So, what do you think of the new design? Is it an improvement? Was I right to make the changes? Let me know by leaving your comments below.

Happy reading,
Mike