Welcome hunters of reading treasure and possessors of treasures. Issue 5 is proud to welcome aboard Laura Brown and JinniS (blogger) as our two newest Hidden Reads contributors. We welcome LJ Clarkson to out article listings and look forward to many great reads in the coming issues. We have two full book reviews of “The 6th of November” by Pablo Solares Acebal and “Paradise Fallen” by Simon Jaysek.
This issue also marks our first exclusive interview! This issue, read our interview with Black Beacon Books, an independent publisher in Australia that likes the weird and unusual. Their founder, Cameron Trost, was kind enough to offer our readers some wise advice and honest words. Read the interview below. Please ENJOY!
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HIDDEN READS HAPPENINGS
* New page added on the Hidden Reads website: Burning Questions.
Here you can leave your “burning question” for publishers (like Black Beacon Books), authors, editors, agents, etc. We will endeavor to conduct regular interviews with professionals to answer your “burning questions”. If you know a professional who may wish to share their words of wisdom with our readers,or indeed are one yourself, please let me know.
Lila’s Choice by Laura Brown
Chick Lit / Romance, 315 pages
- Self-Published through CreateSpace, KDP, Nook
- ISBN: 978-0615925714
- RRP: $13.99 Paperback, $3.99 eBook
- Release date: 10th February, 2014
Never let your friends get involved in your personal life.
Lila and Nate learn this the hard way. They are the star-crossed lovers of Glendale High. For three years the students have waited for the two to get together. They begged Nate to put his past relationship behind him, and cringed when Lila started dating Bryce. Just your typical teenage romance, except they’re the teachers.
Lila, a guidance counselor with a sweet demeanor, has an answer for every problem, every problem but her own. A visit from childhood friend Bryce thrusts her calm world into turmoil, as emotions buried deep inside are dragged to the surface. He soon realizes what only a friend can notice and a lover regret, that Lila, unbeknownst to herself, is in love with Nate.
Nate has seen better days. He is a history teacher stuck living in the past. Depression has kept his love for Lila unspoken, his ego frail after being cheated on.
Now Lila and Nate’s coworkers must unleash a scheme and uncover Lila’s true feelings. In a school this nosey what better way to get fast results than to involve the student population? The students are all too eager to get involved.
If everything goes as planned Lila will have to choose between two men. If her friends fail they might destroy these three and ruin their friendship. No wonder the scheme is called Project Torture.
Have a sneak peak with Amazon Look Inside! CLICK HERE
Read Reviews here:
By Indicated (LJ Clarkson)
– “Acknowledge Your Achievements”
– “Acknowledge Your Achievements”
Wikinut article writer profiles. Follow them all here:
Indicated (LJ Clarkson)
JinniS is an Australian artist who specialises in acrylic, watercolour, and oil paintings. Her subjects are primarily animals and she is available for commissioned work. The site is currently in construction so follow her now to keep updated as her page grows. Her blog will contain a collection of her artworks including (where possible) the photos from which her work was based. You will be amazed at her attention to detail and the lifelike reproductions.
“JinniS has an exquisite eye for detail. She can capture the realism and emotion like no other artist I have seen.” – Porle Joen
Follow her here:
Sinister Reads is a project managed by the Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) used to promote the work of its members. Horror writers take their craft seriously and professionally – people get a thrill out of being scared, not necessarily being grossed out, but frightened by things they know cannot harm them in reality. Horror can but doesn’t have to be violent or bloody or disgusting; what it needs to do is to create fear in the reader.
Black Beacon Books
From http://blackbeaconbooks.blogspot.com.au: “Black Beacon Books is an independent publisher founded in Brisbane, Australia, in 2013. We publish imaginative and thought-provoking fiction that falls into the genres of mystery, suspense, psychological horror, adventure, black humour and the just plain weird. We aim to provide our readers with tales that entertain and, at the same time, have something to say about society and the human condition. Our potential customers and contributors should be aware that unlike many independent, and indeed major, publishing houses, Black Beacon Books only releases titles that are of the highest quality in terms of content, editing and design.”
We asked Black Beacon Book’s founder, Cameron Trost to tell us a little more…
Why did you choose the name Black Beacon Books?
There are many tropes and symbols used in fiction of a dark and mysterious nature. Amongst them, we have keys, mirrors, telescopes, treasure chests, secret passages, graveyards, skulls, churches, castles, caves, telescopes, clocks, the moon, oil lamps and candles and, of course, beacons and lighthouses. The beacon or lighthouse conjures a setting of darkness, for in daylight they are rendered almost useless. In this darkness, they have a role to play, a crucial role, and that is to either warn away or beckon nearer. That is also the role of Black Beacon Books, to thrust the reader into mystery and darkness whilst providing a distant and guiding light, one that can be seen atop cliffs rising up from a troubled sea or on the peaks of wild mountains. We want stories that both warn you of impending danger and draw you into the worlds they create.
Can you give us a little bit of background about how you got involved in Black Beacon Books and why?
I decided to set Black Beacon Books up because I found that there were too few quality publishers releasing anthologies and short story collections in the mystery genre, especially in Australia. Although we do not only publish this genre (we also publish horror, urban adventure, dystopian, and strange fiction that defies categorisation), the lack of markets for short mystery writers is our main raison d’être. I run Black Beacon Books independently, using my skills and experience as a writer and English teacher, but I collaborate with digital artists and illustrators for each publication.
Why is Black Beacon Books different to other publishers?
Primarily, our difference is in our willingness to push the boundaries by publishing stories whose plot, style, and subject matter are not formulaic and commercially viable enough to suit the requirements of major publishing houses. We cater for the reader who wants to read clever, original, and quirky tales that will really make them think and leave them stunned. Our stories distinguish themselves from the flat field of mass-market fiction designed for the ovine hordes.
Where can people find more information about Black Beacon Books?
From our website at www.blackbeaconbooks.blogspot.com. You can order books there. We also have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BlackBeaconBooks.
How can people contact you?
Through the contact page on our website or on our Facebook page.
How does black Beacon Books publish authors’ works – hardcopy, electronically, etc?
We publish in both print and ebook formats. However, we always seek to give our print books a little something extra such as interior illustrations or photographs. When we publish short stories or novellas separately, we usually only publish them as ebooks since there is no point in publishing a print book of only thirty of fifty pages.
Could you give us a brief step by step of the process from submission to potential publication? How long does it take?
Our current submission window for Subtropical Suspense, an anthology of mystery and suspense tales set in Brisbane, closes at the end of March. At the moment, it’s only taking about a week to get back to potential contributors – that’s VERY fast. The process is simple. If I read a submission and think that it’s a great story AND it meets the submissions guidelines, then I’ll probably accept it. Then, if the spelling and grammar is spot on, there’s even less of a chance that it will be rejected.
What are the top 3 things that someone should know in order to have their work considered by Black Beacon Books?
Number 1: know how to write a gripping tale that keeps me entertained and keeps me thinking even once I’ve finished it. Also, I don’t mind a clever twist either when appropriate. Number 2: Write a story that matters to you, the story you want to tell, don’t try to copy the latest craze or write to a formula. That’s not our thing. Number 3: Know that we’re just a small press publisher and don’t expect us to make you “the next big thing”.
What is Black Beacon Books’ input into the work? Do you offer any author services? Do you market the works and how?
We’re too poor to do advertising. Time and effort and marketing online, we can do. We don’t offer any “author services” but when you have a story published with us, you can rest assured that I will go through it with the fine-toothed comb of a nit-picking English teacher.
What are some of the common problems that people experience in attempting to get published?
Finding a market that suits your work. That’s why writers need to read submission guidelines carefully and query if unsure. You can have a great story (I hope you do, that’s step number one) but it won’t get published if you send it to an unsuitable market.
What is your one piece of advice for authors considering publication for the first time?
Don’t submit your work until you’ve done several drafts.
Can a self-published author still submit their work for publication?
Of course, but just make sure you read the guidelines. Most markets won’t accept reprints.
What’s excites you (as a writer)?
A great story idea. Especially when I’m pretty sure nobody has written anything like it before. I’ve had quite a few of those and am working on one in particular at the moment.
What is your pet peeve in works you have received (or in general)?
Poor punctuation, spelling and grammar annoy me. However, I won’t automatically reject a great story written by somebody who isn’t a master of our fine language. Do us both a favour though and do your best, please.
REVIEWS – by Porle Joen
The 6th of November by Pablo Solares Acebal
The story of The 6th of November begins with a personal introduction from the fictional narrator, Don Paco. He is a man of the church and he is our link to reality as the journey of the people of Requejado unravels and reveals terrifying truths and questionable existences.
The introduction by Don Paco starts: “I, the town priest and representative of God on earth, devoted to Him in body and soul, write my memoirs to share them with future generations.” He goes on to say of Requejado that, “Its inhabitants lived on the verge between good and evil; withdrawn into their devastated lives, trapped by a universe that reduced them to ashes… Welcome to Requejado.”
Pablo Solares Acebal has brilliantly used the written words of Don Paco’s thoughts to tell the audience that: “…some parts of this story contain opinions and conjectures.” It is a fantastic ways to remind a reader that while the novel contains historical data, the work is one of fiction.
It was not until I read the last chapter and returned to revisit the introduction that the full implications and understanding of the words mentioned above took hold and weaved a final thread of knowledge that linked the story together for me. Before delving into the word of The 6th of November, the narrative introduction gives you but a taste of what is to come.
Don Paco has a purpose in sharing his memoirs, though to speak more of it here would be to give too much away, so it will suffice to say that Don Paco tells a story through his eyes and ears. As stated in the introduction from Don Paco, he did not witness all events but has pieced together conversations and unintentional admissions.
The flow of the work is regal for want of a better description. Set in the 1930’s, it reads as though written within this era as opposed to being completely modernized as some works tend to be. Pablo Solares Acebal is a profound thinker. His deep understanding of the human condition and provocative thought are delivered in lines such as: “Who was the one who commanded this dew to gather in such an organized and beautiful manner? Only our destiny and the circumstances are able to do so”, “True people never need to say goodbye several times before they finally leave”, and, “Be careful with time. It is worthy but untrustworthy and dangerous”.
Categorized as Horror/Historical Fiction, I feel I should clarify this classification for potential readers. This is not your typical horror story of slow building fear and anticipation through setting and descriptive dread, nor is it one of gore or cover to cover blood-lust. Never have I read a story that I would find so difficult to categorize as it crosses over so many genres. Within the horror genre, I would describe it as psychological/paranormal horror, though even this does not truly do justice to Pablo Solares Acebal’s creation. The horror is in the history, events, and final revelations. It is a story that can not easily been shaken once the last page is turned.
The central characters are Gloria and Maria. We learn of the young love between Gloria and Rulfo (Maria’s son), seemingly doomed to be together only in the shadows when Gloria’s father rejects their courtship. We meet the repressed Maria Dolores in a loveless marriage to Anselmo. The change in these two characters as the story progresses is both subtle and extreme. Good versus evil becomes a playground as the reader is constantly questioning who is the antagonist and who is the protagonist?
The narrator introduces the other characters through a retelling of personal and inferred events. Several less focused characters are peppered throughout, though none is small or insignificant. Each character, no matter how briefly presented, has a solid impact on the story-line and the other characters.
The 6th of November is unexpected, thought provoking, mysterious, and highly intriguing. Though lost in the story and the welcomed confusion, I was intrigued not only by the characters and the the progress of the story, but also in the historical significance and reflections. I found myself researching the histories of the different towns mentioned, the Spanish Civil War, and the date itself.
I would recommend The of 6th of November to those who like to be taken on a journey where the path is not clear and your own conclusions and assumptions are crucial to the impact of the words. This is not average “story-telling”, this is literary poetics that invites the reader to consider their own mortality and morality.
Review available HERE
Paradise Fallen by Simon Jaysek
Paradise Falls seems to be the perfect place for Greg and his young children to settle. The property is serene in its beauty and somewhat isolated from the townsfolk. Greg harbors dark secrets and when a gung-ho officer sets her sights on him, his well constructed lies begin to unravel. Add to the mix a frustrating neighbor with a son who is out of control, plus a cast of characters who take gossip as fact, and Greg begins to wonder if Paradise Falls is the paradise he initially envisaged or just another difficult chapter in his hidden life to be battled with and forgotten.
Paradise Falls has its own secrets. In a community where everyone knows everyone else’s business, the discovery of a pedophile in their ranks throws the town into accusations and assumptions.
The style of writing is very direct and similar to other script writers who have turned to novel writing like that of Laurent Boulanger. The imagery is clear and the action is written in a way that you can easily visualize on the big screen.
There are no story chapters to break it up and this was intentional. In an interview with Smashwords, Simon Jaysek says: “I’ve deliberately not included numbered chapters so as to keep the story flowing like a movie.” When I began reading Paradise Fallen, I expected this to be an issue for me as I like to finish a chapter before taking a break so that I can easily return to the story, but I found it was not a problem at all. It was easy to follow and I never lost my place or the story flow.
The character of Greg is somewhat mysterious and he has his secrets. Simon Jaysek does a commendable job of building that intrigue throughout the novel and of protecting the secrets that Greg harbours. As a reader, I was given a good insight to Greg as the main character and he was well developed. I felt for him and as the primary protagonist, I followed his story with a desire to see him discover himself and finally achieve some peace.
Overall, the characters are explored at a level expected of a movie. Written from a third person, omniscient point of view, they could potential have been explored deeper; however, for the level of dialogue and action, and the author’s clear intention to entertain, the level of characterisation was appropriate. The author left enough unsaid that the reader can explore greater depths of character in their own mind.
Paradise Fallen is an easy read that will appeal to a cross section of the adult and young adult communities. It will appeal to those who like to escape into a world that is shown and directed with various characters of true human qualities and sometimes animalistic needs. Simon Jaysek has been a screenwriter for twenty years and this experience has translated to his novella with quick action and clean dialogue.
There are erotic situations though they are relatively short-lived and are not required to carry the story. Paradise Fallen delves into the controversial area of paedophilia and readers with particular sensitivities should be warned of this. The events are not deeply descriptive but may still be highly disturbing for some readers.
There is recurring punctuation usage that I found distracting. Having said this, it is consistently used so once the action took hold with the primary conflict, I somewhat forgot about this. One good read through by an editor with strong grammatical skills would weed out this slight issue very quickly.
I found Paradise Fallen to be easy to follow, easy to visualise, easy to read, and with a story-line that clearly developed throughout the pages. Twists and turns come to their conclusions and everything is answered. The ending is somewhat unexpected but is very believable and appropriate. I read the last word with a sense of completion.
Review available HERE
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