Thanks for visiting Sophia Tallon's blog! We review books, audio books, screenplays, films, web series, plus much more! We also do interviews, spotlights, and guest posts! Please see our Contact/FAQ's page! Make sure you follow us on Bloglovin' or by email! Posts go live daily at 12 a.m. Central Daylight Time.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

(October) GLOSSYBOX vs. IPSY GLAM BAG vs. Birchbox

So...last month I said I would do a comparison of Glossybox vs. Ipsy and then I ended up getting a Birchbox as well so here goes the massive review!!!!!!

So first I got my Glossybox and if you use Glossybox UK like some of my friends you'll know that you already got this one a couple months ago. This is a complaint I have about Glossy. Why do they send better boxes via the UK site? My friends are always making me jealous telling me about their boxes! For October it was apparently Glossy's birthday so they got five full size products including some really amazing ones! Anyhow, enough ranting, here goes my review...

Remember: I will list the items in order of which I love best to which I liked least, same goes for the boxes.

GLOSSYBOX October: Vive La France Special Edition

First of all, let's acknowledge that gorgeous box!  The artwork was done by Jaime Lee Reardin and it had cute designs on the front, sides, back and even inside! I loved everything in this one which is a first for me!

1) Votre Vu Oh Lighten Up! Intensif Treatment Spot Crème
I have been looking for a really good brightening creme to use because I read that they can really help to fade acne scares which I have a few of unfortunately. I was extremely excited to try this and started using it as soon as I got it. Wow. It really works. Every morning when I wake up make acne scares are lighter and less noticeable. I could see results almost immediately instead of having to wait a long time like with usual brightening cremes. The normal price is $59.00 for  0.51 oz . Would I buy this? The price is high but it works very well and I might if i need it again.
2) Lollipops Red Nail Laquer in Voyage a Paris
I love red nail polish. Have I mentioned this before? No? Ah, well. Nail polish doesn't seem to last long on my nails, maybe because I have a life and I don't just sit around being fanned by two servants. But this surprisingly lasted for over a week with minimal  chipping. I had applied three coats since it actually dried pretty quickly. Overall it looked fab and I have it on my finger and toe nails again. The normal price is $10.00  for 0.4 oz . Would I buy this? Totally!
 3) De Bruyere Paris red Lipgloss
I have way too much lip gloss and lip stick, let me just get them confession out of the way. The reason is that I am addicted to it. So this one is having fun living in hand bag along with all my others. It's not really red to me, it seems more like a pink but oh, well. The normal price is $17.50  for 0.17 oz. Would I buy this? Probably not, since I can something similar for less than that.
4) Sabe Masson Le Soft Perfume
So I got the scent 'Artist' which was sort of woody and definitely not something I would wear. However I really do like the fact that the ingredients are natural etc and everything else about it so I would probably buy it again just in a different scent. The normal price is $25.00  for 0.17 oz . So, would I buy this? Definitely! It really is perfect for your purse!
5) Phyto Phytokeratine Mask
I was really excited to try this mask and after I did my hair was even softer than normal and it looked so lovely! The normal price is $39.00 for 6.2 oz . Would I buy this? Since it's pricey I might get it and use some once a week.
 IPSY October Glam Bag

I didn't think I was going to try Ipsy simply because they never have promo codes or really anything at all so there wasn't an incentive to try it. But, as you can see, I finally did. 

1) theBalm Cosmetics Meet Matt(e) Hughes Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in (Committed)
I LOVE this! It lasts so long and is actually vanilla mint flavoured so it smells minty. It looks like matte lipstick but it's a liquid that dries and lasts forever.
2) IT Cosmetics Hello Lashes Clinically Proven 5-1 Mascara
I'd tried a mascara by Benefit with a very similar wand from Glossybox so I figured this would be exactly the same. I was wrong. I actually liked this mascara better and for some reason this wand works better than the one for Benefit. I think it just has less mascara on it so it doesn't clump your lashes as much.
3) Peter Lamas Exfoliating Facial Scrub
I really liked this facial scrub it worked so well and had this lovely smell. I don't like pumpkin so I didn't think I would like this but I did! Just so you know, it doesn't smell like pumpkin!
4) Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask
First off, how much hair do these sample makers think the average girl has? Two inches? I couldn't really only use this mask since there was barely any in there. It was basically like regular hair conditioner so I wouldn't buy this.
5) Emite Makeup Professional Slant Tweezer
Okay...why did they send me this? Was my first thought. The reason for that is because I specifically said I didn't  want any appliances like this and the reason for that is because I subscribe to these things for the makeup etc not tweezers. I don't use tweezers! I have great eyebrows!
BIRCHBOX October: Power Pose Special Edition 

 So, first off I had gotten a code to get this box along with a regular October box and then there was a mix up and I just got this one, plus it took forever to get it which was part of why it took me awhile to get this post up. Anyhow, here we go!

1) Clinique Chubby Stick in Mega Melon
I loved this actually it's like a lip balm and reminds me of the Revlon Just Bitten type of lip balm stick. I let my mum try it when I did her makeup once and she wanted to steal it she liked it so much! The normal price is $17. Would I buy this? Probably not since Revlon makes a stick pretty similar for less money.
2) Smashbox Cosmetics Photo Finish Foundation Primer
I loved using this primer but the sample was quite small. It was very smooth and soft and kept my makeup looking perfect all day! The normal price is $36. Would I buy this? Maybe but if I did I'd just use it for days when I need my makeup to last all day.

3) Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief
I liked this moisturiser because it was very light and such a nice texture that went on very nicely kept my face nice a soft. The normal price is $39. So, would I buy this?  No. I can get a better product for less.
4) Darphin Stimulskin Plus Multi-Corrective Divine Cream Dry Skin
I tried this but there wasn't enough to really give a great review or anything. Overall I liked it but the normal price is $295. I would NEVER pay that much for a little face creme.
5) Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum Synchronized Complex II
 I didn't try this but my mum is so I will let you know what she thinks!
So....the verdict? Get Glossybox. Ipsy has small samples that aren't worth the price and the same goes for Birchbox. Plus, with Ipsy, why would I want to get a cheap little makeup bag every month? I would only get Ipsy for, say, a young preteen girl as a birthday/Christmas gift subscription or something. Other than that: no way. 
If you want to try Glossybox click here:
If you want to try Ipsy go here: 
If you want to try Birchbox go here:




Friday, 20 November 2015


Today I will be interviewing Jay Plemons! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to be interviewed Contact Me

First of all, tell us a little about yourself!
I have a BS in Music business with emphasis in publishing and copyright law, an English degree that I never intended getting, and a music education degree to which I will forever embrace.

I spent a year studying for the LSAT, then decided to attend culinary school, hoping to become an aspiring chef in a five star restaurant, but didn't care for the fourteen hour days in a kitchen. So what did I do? Met my wife in college, got married, and after hearing the news of our first child, I decided to skip the idea of attending law school. It was the best choice I ever made.

I spent my years in Nashville working in the music industry for companies like RCA, Sony, Zomba, and Dreamworks, all of which gave me a bitter taste in my mouth. Aside from working directly with many famous artists, the industry is a tainted cesspool of filth. From Austin, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee, I worked a small time in the film industry, as a PA, extra in a few films, and a various of other uninspiring, uneventful jobs. I dedicated my carpentry skills for a while creating custom fine furniture, manned a press for a print shop, was a studio musician, played drums for a few famous artists, taught high school band for a year, giving IT support for the Texas Legislature, and now an aspiring author. I have no claim to fame, nor do I want any.

I have been fortunate enough to experience many things in my life, some of which were humbling, others fulfilling, and because of that, I've grown to be patient and content. I'm willing to struggle, fail, sacrifice, and fall before I learn to move on from those experiences. I'm not afraid to die, but willing to live as long as I'm able. Even though I'd like to see my kids grow old, I understand that every day is precious, yet uncertain. I live with the best intentions that everything is going to be okay until it isn't, and when that happens, I'm free to just let go.

What inspired you to become an author?
Simply put: reading. Reading is the quintessential ingredient for writing. I wrote short stories and poetry all the time as a young child until I became glued to film during my teen years—that's when I delved into screen-writing. Most of my writing was for me and my little inner world of fantasy, escapism, and just pure entertainment. I never at any time dreamed I would grow up to become a writer.

What was the main inspiration for your most recent book?
My original inspiration behind this series came from this comic book concept about two unlikely heroes battling the normal mundane trials of teenage experiences in high school. This story has turned into something bigger than what I had planned. After a brief stint negotiating a deal with a well-respected Marvel comic book artist, I finally decided to shelve the idea of the Last Light Falling comic and focus solely on the novel.

But the true inspiration falls back to my very own kids, Gabriel and Mikaela—my two unlikely heroes in this novel. The characters created are solely based on my children's personalities, and it's scary how close they really are.

Who influenced you the most in life?
My grandfather. From ten years old to nineteen, I learned everything about financing to applied business under my grandfather's hand in his paint store. But it was the daily mopping and toilet scrubbing that I embraced with contentment—the start of humility my life needed.

Hard work was a common practice in my young life—toiling the fields, maintaining a lavish edible garden, managing our small orchard, and shearing several acres with a push mower. My work ethic was spawned from the paternal efforts of my grandfather.

Whether it was embracing humility, serving others without accepting anything in return, or giving my time to those needier than me, the one thing he told me that I never forgot: wear as many hats as you can.

What is the kindest thing someone has ever said and or done for you?
There have been many, but one that always stays with me is the time I was on vacation with my family when I was eight years old. I was playing on the playground at a KOA park and this punk kid was bullying me. He pushed me down and wouldn't let me get up. He was probably 11 years old or so. Suddenly out of no where this girl about nine pushed him away and punched him in the stomach. She took my hand and lead me over by the swings and told me not to worry. We held hands the rest of the day. Wish I knew where she was today.

Do you have a favourite author? (Or name a few)
C.S. Lewis and Tolkien without a doubt for their courageous unsolicited effort to go against the pretentious grain of the book publishing world during their time. They both have created timeless characters and stories to which have inspired many to follow in there writing footsteps. Robert Lewis Stevenson and Jack London, two of the greatest authors of our time, for their masterful real-life characters and colorful story telling through prose and poetry.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Never stop writing no matter what people think of it. Write because you love it, not to please people.

Did you always want to be a writer and if not what did was the first thing you wanted to be or do?
Not really. I always wanted to be a late night talk show host, or own my own restaurant.

Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, who are your favourite artists?
Absolutely. I love listening to soundtracks. It really get;s you in the mood for certain scenes. I have a very eclectic music library, so I really couldn't pinpoint a favorite.

What helps you write when you're stuck and or have writer's block?
Ha! Get on Netflix. Not sure that helps though. Writer's block is no more than procrastination.

After a long day of writing etc, do you have a favourite tv show you like to watch?
Doctor Who

What are you working on currently?
I'm delighted to be almost done with book III, Last Light Falling - Kingdoms Of The Ten (working title), but no spoilers here I'm afraid. Your welcome to visit my website to get a sneak peek of the cover this Winter.

When you're not writing, or working, what do you like to do?
Play my drums, be outdoors, anywhere. Make movies with my kids.

What are some of your most favourite books of all time?
To Kill A Mocking Bird, Return of The King, The Hobbit, Friday Night Lights, and just about any Stephen King novel.

Which of your characters do you love the most and why?
No doubt, Arena. It was so easy to create and develop her character because I mirrored her traits and personality from my own daughter. But the mundane trials she grows up with and faces in the story are based on my own personal experiences. I just thought it would give the novel better appeal if I vicariously lived them through this 15 year old girl.

Which of your books are you most proud of?
Last Light Falling: Into The Darkness, Book II. I spent over a year on this book.

What is the title of the last book you read/was it good or bad?
Over The River and Through The Woods by Kylie Jude. Loved it.

Is there anything specific you'd like to try writing about in the future?
I love physiological thrillers. I have so many ideas waiting for me.

What is an interesting or hidden talent you have?
I'm a professional drummer, certified chef, classically trained carpenter, and a certified English/Literature teacher 5th grade - 12th grade.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why would you choose it?
That's easy. My two favorite characters are The Flash and Wolverine. I would definitely have super speed like the Flash because you can go so fast that you can teleport, run on water and fly on the clouds. Also, I could run to Italy, pick up an authentic Italian pizza and come home to watch my favorite show in less than an hour. I could also out run bullets. Travel back in time like the Flash too. Come on, how is that no awesome?

Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know?
If you're looking for suspense, adventure, and a large dose of gratuitous violence, the Last Light Falling series will be sure to supply it for you. I'd like to think this isn't your typical run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter apocalyptic novel. It brings with it a bit of controversy about the human existence and the plight to which it extends after death. Whether or not you believe in a deity over our being, this story will entertain. It's graphic, raw, and real, and it will leave you wondering if our current state of being will evolve into something as horrific as it does in the novel. It's scary to think how brooding our political state is in to the possible future it may become. This book will give you a glimpse into a conceivable future that is both disturbing and evil. It will leave you with more questions than answers, but it will surely make you think what our political leaders in this world are capable of creating. This first person character driven story isn't aimed to preach or convert. It's merely an interpretation of the book of Revelation that is aimed at entertaining and nothing else. What you get out of it as a reader will come from your own imagination and convictions. This isn't about the end of the world as much as it's about the characters trying to survive in it.

Where can we find you on social media?
Twitter: @lastlightfallin

Facebook Fan Page:

Instagram: texmexexpress


Remember to check back later next year as I will be reviewing Jay's book's Last Light Falling The Covenant and Last Light Falling Into The Darkness!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Alterre Holiday Launch Giveaway!

Hey, guys! Today I'm going to tell you about some adorable shoes and at the bottom of the page there will be a link to enter a giveaway to win some!
Ever carry multiple pairs of shoes to work? Or struggle with picking only a couple shoes to take on your next trip that would match everything? Alterre shoes were created with you in mind.
With our patent pending technology, you can mix and match your look and lift to fit your lifestyle. With over 65 combinations, it is easy to transform your look from day to night and pack light for your next vacation. Customizable and comfortable, they are the perfect pair for any occasion. These shoes are as versatile as you are!
All of our shoes are designed in our New York Studio and made according to fair labor laws in Brazil. We donate 5% of the proceeds to the women's abuse shelter Restore NYC, so you get to do good while you look good.
What you can win:
- black heel starter kit (VALUE $180)
includes: a pair of black suede mules, mist grey Jackies, and evening sky Marilyns with a handy travel bag for the looks.
- for more info see product details:

Here's a How-to-Video:
How it Works Graphic:
Let the games begin!

Below is a link to the giveaway:

And here's a link to their website!

Monday, 16 November 2015


Today I will be interviewing Ruth Finnegan! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to be interviewed Contact Me!
 First of all, tell us a little about yourself!
I am now an Emeritus Professor of the Open University and (high honours both, I am so fortunate) a Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College Oxford.

I started however (well, everyone has to start somewhere) by being born in the beautiful Columba-founded island city of Derry and reared in Ulster and Donegal, then, to transcend the horrible Protestant-Catholic divides of my birthplace, wisely sent by my parents to a Quaker school in York. This, a magical setting, was filled with biblical texts and music, both deeply embedded in my Black Inked Pearl novel. First-class Oxford degrees in classics and philosophy (this little Ulster girl even beat the public school boys normally the top of the class – not that I in any way had expected or aimed to do so!) were followed by African fieldwork in northern Sierra Leone, totally inspiring for my life and work. After an Oxford doctorate in social anthropology supervised by the renowned E. E. Evans-Pritchard, followed by university teaching and further research in Africa and (later) in Fiji, I joined the wonderfully pioneering Open University in the U.K. with my husband David Murray, proud now to think that we were founder members of the academic staff there.

I have three amazing daughters and five grandchildren, and live – and dream - with my husband of, now, 52 years, and two cairn terriers, in Old Bletchley, just round the corner from ‘Bletchley Park’ the celebrated site of the secret wartime code-breakers and computer pioneers of the 1940s.

What inspired you to become an author?
Well I had to! For an academic career what else?

But as well it was a matter of just falling into it. Starting with my doctorate on the performance and texts of Limba story-telling, which it was just assumed I would publish, I went on to publish on African oral literature more generally, helped by the fact that this appeared in a series of which my supervisor and other colleagues were general editors – that book, inspired by a desire to make people realise that African oral literature was indeed a real, and already-studied, subject has turned out, against expectation at the time, to be my most read publication due to the open-access-on-the-web form provided (in addition to hard copy versions) by Open Book Publishers in Cambridge; thus the second edition (2012) of Oral Literature in Africa has apparently been read, at least in substantive portion, by nearly 90,000 people, mainly in Africa ( – delighting me since the first (1970) edition was largely inaccessible to the very people most interested.

And so I went on from there. In a way I seemed to have no choice, no need for special ‘inspiration’ – as with many others, my path seemed already laid out for me (not that I really anticipated what was to come, it was step by step).

I found that I enjoyed writing – hard work, but becoming easier over the years, and much aided by the support of an understanding husband and children. My books seemed to be received well in the scholarly world (some sold, but really not that many: typical academic, I wrote more because I somehow had to than because it brought in any serious money).

I also found I got fired up by a series of topics, sometimes stimulated by some new approach in the many conferences I attended, but mostly ones which I felt were largely ‘invisible’ in conventional wisdom or wrongly defined out of existence – the gently leftwing and democratizing instincts inherited from my Ulster family made me want to gain more recognition for such topics (this was one reason, incidentally, for both my husband and myself joining the Open University at its inception: its ethic and aims were ours).

So, fired by both this motivation (moral duty almost) and by the intellectual appeal of such topics, I embarked on a series of publications. ‘Oral’ literature and poetry were the first (something I loved, inspiring itself), but this then extended to oral forms and so-called ‘orality ’ more generally; to amateur musicians (central to our culture but so often ‘hidden); the amazingly resilient storied lives (inspiring again) of people living in what is sometimes regarded as a ‘sink estate’ of my home town; the multi-sensory dimensions of communicating (it is not all cognitive and linguistic or dictated solely by technology and the mass media).

What was the main inspiration for your most recent book?
Oh oh! – my life I suppose (both the happy and the grievous). Specially my Irish background, my love of Homer and his similes, and my experience of African story-telling.

Also, see below, Mark Malatesta’s advice which enabled my novel to get written.

But actually I didn’t have an ‘inspiration’ in the sense of being inspired by something and then deciding to write about it. In a way this recent book is not ‘mine’, it somehow came/comes from outside me.maybe (speculating wildly ... ) it is something that was composed (but never written or perhaps never disseminated) a millennium or more ago? Did I perhaps have access to that because of my early steeping in the resonant literatures of the ancient world?

More directly, it was not so much inspired (that’s why I can’t really answer this question directly, sorry) as created, It came – sort-of downloaded itself into my mind irrespective of any conscious intention on my part - in my dreams (visions they’d have called them in the old days). ‘My’ dreams I say, but perhaps they were also, or originally, someone else’s? all this is so strange to me (yes I know about Coleridge’s dreamed Kublai Khan, but that was a one-off, shorter, event, different from my strange continuing process).

To elaborate (since I am often asked about this), what happened was that over the early summer of 2014 a chapter a night came to me through dreams: first what I earlier described (the conventional way of conceptualising them in our culture) as visual, but really essentially non-sensual: deeply felt knots of emotion which then somehow (I keep saying 'somehow’ because this process, though so real in my known experience, is still so mysterious to me) somehow grew into words. Then words seemed to gradually gather round the edges of my mind as I lay nightly in that liminal state between dreaming and waking (or perhaps both at once), or were somehow drawn down like stars from the arched globe of the skies which in turn was/is my mind (arches, globes, spirals – these are so seminal). Then, next day, these words became written, as if transcribed (as I had often done in my studies of taped African stories) without essential change beyond the odd bit of formatting onto my computer.

Once written (if I had to miss a day, luckier than Coleridge, I still remembered) I then, amazingly, forgot all but the broad outline. Even now each time I read the book the words come new to me. Remarkable, something I still don’t understand.

Who influenced you the most in life?
Hm – so many. I learned huge amounts from those I was supposedly ‘studying’ in my fieldwork (in Sierra Leone, Fiji, Milton Keynes); from my husband and daughters (there’s nothing like being faced with bringing up babies and children for educating you); all my teachers and colleagues and, equally, pupils; having to write course material in the new situation of communicating with distance students; passers-by; people I meet on the bus.

But most most of all, my parents: my wise and brave pacifist father Tom Finnegan; and that teller-of-tall-tales and participant, like Einstein, in the magical ‘spookiness’ of the universe, my mother Agnes Finnegan whom I feel I am following, maybe led by, in my novel-writing.

What is the kindest thing someone has ever said and or done for you?
When I once (quite recently) did something absolutely STUPID (it really was), I felt – knew – an awareness that someone specially loved me just for being so stupid, precisely for not being perfect. A miraculous and totally unforeseen experience which will live with me forever.

Do you have a favourite author? (Or name a few)
William Blake
Paulo Coelho

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
First, when as a recent graduate I wrote my first, pre-doctoral, dissertation, from my mother (always tactful): ‘I didn’t really warm to that academic style: in places it felt a bit pompous to me … ‘. I’ve tried to heed that advice ever since, and it is always lovely when my academic books are – as not infrequently –praised for their accessible style.

Second, last year, from Mark Malatesta, an American literary coach: ‘Behind every novella is a novel’ (I wouldn’t have allowed myself the dreams which led to my Black inked pearl without that – thanks again Mark),

Did you always want to be a writer and if not what did was the first thing you wanted to be or do?
Though of course my schooling and to some extent my leisure involved lots of writing (good thing too), as a child and student it never entered my head that I would be ‘a writer’, it just grew. I suppose I first saw myself becoming a school teacher, like so many of my family, the more so that I loved school and learning.

Even when I got (well, I did so why conceal it) one of the best firsts in my discipline in Oxford in the days when that really counted (1950s) and my tutors encouraged me to ‘stay on’ I certainly didn’t see myself as a ‘researcher’ (a self-regarding snobby thing in my mind) and hence 'writer'.

This only grew when I realised that after my anthropology studies at Oxford I was expected to go and do fieldwork’ – oh yes! I then tumbled to it, this was ‘research’ so, oh, I must 'write it up' as a 'researcher! (but more useful, pertinent, ‘research’ , it seemed to me, than I could have managed if I had followed on with my earlier ivory-tower (?) classical studies, much though I valued, and still value, this wonderful heritage: the ancient world still has so much – topical too – to teach us).

Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, who are your favourite artists?
Sometimes, but, for my academic writing, no longer.

I love classical music, especially baroque (Bach, the master) and piano slow movements (think Andras Schiff, Lang Lang), Mozart’s above all. For me there’s also something specially ethereal, heard in any situation but mostly in my mind as I walk, about the second movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony: I think (know) that that is what I will hear as I walk slowly for the first time through heaven with the sea below me on the right. I also love some of the beautiful tuneful compositions of contemporary composers such as John Rutter, especially under his own conducting and when with the magical harpist Catryn Finch.

Cross-rhythm drumming, something I heard and learned to love in Africa.

During the period, more recently, when I was, willy-nilly, dreaming my novel I often had earphones (still do) to hear, even when sleeping, the lovely all-night radio programme classicfm. I feel in a way that that music was the womb for my novel.

What helps you write when you're stuck and or have writer's block?
Nowadays I’m not – the problem is to find time to write it all down, the ideas and words crowd in.

Earlier it did sometimes happen. Useful strategies (besides reading Howard Becker’s excellent advice) for both myself at that stage, and others; just keep writing, bad or good (you can always cross it out or revise later, extra easy now with word-processing); start in the middle, even just a single phrase (in this way you can fool your inhibitions – we all have them - by pretending you’re not really doing it, just doodling); copy something you’ve written before, then change it, perhaps totally – that means you’re not faced with that horrible white page; and most of all unmissable DEADLINES, if not imposed by others, then by yourself (otherwise you’ll go on trying to perfect things, the best always being, as they rightly say, the enemy of the good: instead follow my mantra for when I’ve got too much to do: ‘if a thing’s worth doing it’s worth doing badly’ – and then, actually, it usually turns out not so bad after all).

After a long day of writing etc, do you have a favourite tv show you like to watch?
Seldom watch TV. I used to enjoy classic-based dramas when the children were young and the news: nowadays that just sends me to sleep.

What are you working on currently?
Oh so much, if only I had more time (no, actually am very content with life as it is, I will do them eventually if, as I fully intend, I live another 20 years). It includes books (some partly written) on: music and radio in Fiji; lessons to be learned from Africa; the amazing lives and experiences of taxi drivers (new project); and, closest to my heart and arising from my (totally unplanned) experiences with my novel (see above) dreams, telepathy and new views of consciousness, including (again very close to my heart – my soul) the heightened consciousness of music experience.

In quite a different direction (they say learning new skills helps to ward off dementia- but really it’s just because I enjoy it)) I am greatly relishing working on what are to me new genres, thus very different ways of writing:
Libretto for a new oratorio – my bit is complete (won’t tell you the title till it’s public), the composer is currently working to complete the music which takes much longer than the words, but hopefully for public performance in 2016 or 2017
Working with a wonderful illustrator on a series of newly-told (sort-of upside down) fairytales for early readers
(most different of all, a lot of unlearning needed, fortunately I have help) A number of film scripts, specially one, nearly finished, of a crusades romance about a girl betrothed to a middle-aged knight who has to go off to fight in the Holy Land for three years, leaving her in the care of his nephew and – well you’ve guessed … (any interested potential producers out there?)

When you're not writing, or working, what do you like to do?
Sleep (sometimes dream), often in the afternoons as well as nights
Sing with others when I can (I used to do this regularly but nowadays droop too early in the evening)
Spend time, any old way, with my husband
Visit our daughters in England, and, especially, several weeks each year with the daughter and granddaughter in beautiful New Zealand (a liminal place for inspiration: home but not home; over and under; old/new)
Going on the occasional cruise (Saga of course) with my husband

What are some of your most favourite books of all time?
Walter Scott, The Betrothed; Stanley Weyman Count Hannibal (both ones I’d love to transform into film scripts)
Hug! and The Dandelion’s Tale (lovely young children’s books)
Jemima Puddleduck (survives hundreds of readings) and (ditto) Little Black Sambo (all right, not politically correct nowadays but, for me, brought up in the 1930s, still enchanting – and I still love pancakes)
The Alchemist (and anything else by Paulo Coelho: I hadn’t encountered them until, by some miracle, I lit on the Alchemist a couple of months ago and found to my astonishment that it somehow had something in common with my Black inked pearl. I know I will love them for ever)
Above all Shakespeare’s sonnets, which I have only quite recently rediscovered, above all 18, the most beautiful love poem of all.

Which of your characters do you love the most and why?
I suppose whichever one I’m writing or thinking about – just now the little dog and the beetle in Black Inked Pearl (who was the beetle really? aha …. ). They're so touching, and so crucial for the story (both of course arrived in dreams and insisted on being included)

Which of your books are you most proud of?

I think The hidden musicians - not so much because, apart from (in a different way) Oral Literature in Africa, it has been the most influential of my books but because 1) I felt I really was revealing something hidden, and honouring its executants, something that, though it was obviously there, somehow had not really been seen before (it’s great to have so many now following that insight) and 2), maybe most of all, that it was drawn not from my own reading (though I needed lots of that) but from the very people who were directly involved: it was essentially from them that the book came.

What is the title of the last book you read/was it good or bad?

Eleven Minutes (Coelho): wonderful.

Is there anything specific you'd like to try writing about in the future?
See on current projects above: I’d better not undertake any more (I admit I’m trying (hard work) to fight off a second novel as I must complete some of my academic books first – I enjoy them too of course)

What is an interesting or hidden talent you have?
Maybe to connect warmly with people wherever we/they are, something from my mother I think – home, overseas, academic, everyday; and to sing together with them, both, when this is possible, literally and, always, in spirit.

I’m pretty useless at people’s names and faces – but what you might call people’s ‘souls’, yes.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why would you choose it?

To live forever with those I love, and, even there, relishing all the heaven-given senses of earth too – no need to 'choose', I know it will happen whatever.

Oh, and to bring peace in the world - not so sure that that will happen soon. Someday.

(Rereading this it seems strange that I should put myself first, and the needs of the world second. But, on reflection, that is the lesson, for me the discovery, of my novel: our first duty is to be responsible for ourselves – why else were we born?)

Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know?
No - this too long already.

Oh sorry, but yes, do take account of your dreams and the heightened consciousness of experiencing music, of feeling the vibes of sacred places, of knowing you are part of a wider, conscious, cosmos (that sounds so new-age – but, an academic and scientist, I have come, at 80, to know that all this is indeed part of our human life, too often ignored in people’s misplaced (I think) over-confidence in old-fashioned science: the innovative scientists working on new understandings of consciousness would agree with me)

Where can we find you on social media?
Facebook, Linkedin, and, just started, Instagram (all under my name Ruth Finnegan’)

Check back later next year as I will be reviewing Ruth's book Black Inked Pearl!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

(AUTHOR INTERVIEW) Michael J. Bowler

Today I will be interviewing Michael J. Bowler! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to be interviewed Contact Me

First of all, tell us a little about yourself!
I have been an advocate for kids my whole life and learned as a teenager that kids copy what they see in adults and in older kids, so I

What inspired you to become an author?
I grew up with a love of reading and storytelling. As a child and teen, I was a voracious reader. Many of those books and the characters therein affected me deeply on an intellectual and emotional level, and often shaped my outlook on life. I knew early on that at some point I wanted to try my hand at crafting stories that might have the same impact on kids that those books had on me. Of course, I love telling stories and the craft of writing, so those passions fueled my decision to author books.

What was the main inspiration for your most recent book?
In school as a teacher, and all over the Internet, I see this approach to pollution and climate change – doom and gloom and the sky is falling and there’s no hope and, oh, yeah, donate money to me and my group and we’ll fight climate change for you. Our ongoing use of the planet as a garbage dump has to stop or the effects on the next generation and the one after that could be devastating. I wrote this book for middle through high school kids about the environment and pollution and climate change to give them empowerment and hope, not to scare them or paralyze them or try to get them to donate money to some group or other. I crafted what I hope is an engaging storyline, with lots of action and likeable characters, that teaches kids how they can be the change they want to see in the world right now in their homes, schools, communities, and cities. They don’t have to wait until they are adults to take real action – they can mobilize now and generate tangible results that will benefit their entire generation down the line.

Who influenced you the most in life?
I’d have to say my parents, first, and then some teachers along the way. These people, for the most part, modeled what has become my core philosophy and a key theme in all my books – that life works best when we strive to do what’s right, rather than what’s easy.

What is the kindest thing someone has ever said and or done for you?
This might not be the kindest thing someone has done for me, but it ranks pretty high on the “amazing” scale. In early 2014 I made the virtual acquaintance (via Facebook) of a bestselling author with whom I shared the same publisher on my first Knight Cycle book, Children of the Knight. Her name is Mia Kerick and she was very excited that my book had won an award in the UK. She read Children and liked it. We struck up a virtual friendship and, knowing my book had almost no sales since being published the previous June, she took it upon herself to organize a “Fireside Book Chat” via Facebook and convinced many of her Facebook friends to read the book and participate in the chat. I know it took a lot of work and even personal expense on her part to make this event happen, and she did it for a total stranger. Remember, I had never met this lady in person! I’m still astonished and grateful that she did this to help bring more attention to my book, and to the sequels (the first of which was previewed during the chat.) I now consider this lady a dear and irreplaceable friend and remain beyond thankful that she “friended” me.

Do you have a favourite author? (Or name a few)
In no particular order, some authors whose books I love are: Stephen King, Mark Twain, Thomas Tryon, Alexandre Dumas, Cornelia Funke, Glendon Swarthout, Michael Crichton, Lloyd Alexander, Rose Christo, Oscar Wilde, Sherman Alexie, Lois Lowry, and Mary Shelley. I’m all over the map.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Write what you would like to read, not what you think is currently popular. One of my professors in college told me that and I have followed his advice. Of course, because I think outside the box and my books are outside the box, they aren’t popular. But they are what I like to read. LOL

Did you always want to be a writer and if not what did was the first thing you wanted to be or do?
As a little boy watching Apollo astronauts walk on the moon, that was my goal for the longest – to be an astronaut and travel into space. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that my congenital hearing impairment meant that career could never come to fruition. I learned this in high school and was devastated.

Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, who are your favourite artists?
I always listen to music when I write, and even when I create scenes in my head at the gym, in the car, or wherever. My favorite artists are James Horner, John Williams, and Jerry Goldsmith, to name a few. Never heard of them? Not surprising if you haven’t because they are film score composers. From childhood, film scores were my choice of music. Yes, I was considered a weird kid. Ha! Maybe it was because my hearing impairment made discerning lyrics very difficult, but I always gravitated to film music. The variety of moods and emotionality within the music makes it the perfect backdrop for writing. If I’m working on an action scene, I choose action music. If the scene is sad or emotional, James Horner has tons of scores that fit perfectly. I tend to picture scenes before I write them, like watching a movie, so film music sets the right tone and helps me bring the scene and accompanying emotion to life on the page. That’s my goal, anyway.

What helps you write when you're stuck and or have writer's block?
I never get writer’s block. The reason might be because I always know the ending of a book before I start. Knowing the outcome for the plot and characters makes the journey less filled with bumps and potholes or even roadblocks. The plotting becomes easier to focus on since I know how all the threads conclude.

After a long day of writing etc, do you have a favourite tv show you like to watch?

I try to avoid getting caught up in the addictive nature of television. I only watch two shows regularly – The Walking Dead and Gotham. I did add the six-episode arc of Fear The Walking Dead into my mix this summer and will likely watch season two next year.

What are you working on currently?
I’m adapting a screenplay that I wrote into a novel. I previously did this with my teen horror/mystery Spinner, and that book has been well received by reviewers. This new one involves two Filipino brothers, one in grad school and the other just starting high school, who create a costumed “super” hero (embodied in the older brother) to inspire the apathetic people of Los Angeles to step up and contribute toward making their city better, rather than waiting around for someone else to do it for them.

When you're not writing, or working, what do you like to do?
I continue my active volunteer work with kids and teens. I do some tutoring. I enjoy working out and exercising daily. I see movies from time to time. I read when I can, but I sadly spend more time trying to bring attention to my books than I’d like. Promotion is not fun when no one knows who you are. LOL

What are some of your favourite books of all time?
As an 8th grader, Thomas Tryon’s The Other blew me away and really cemented my desire to be a writer. I was so stunned by the ending that I immediately read the book through a second rime to figure out how the author had so cleverly tricked me. It was a masterpiece of writing and a very moving story in its own right. Other books I love are Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Count of Monte Cristo, Salem’s Lot, King of Shadows, Bless the Beasts and Children, The Once and Future King, The Thief Lord, The Neverending Story, Frankenstein.

Which of your characters do you love the most and why?
Lance from my Knight Cycle books and Alex from Spinner are most like me, so I guess I gravitate to them. Both are deep thinkers and have emotional depth. Both are very empathetic towards others, both have a melancholy side like I do, and both refuse to accept the world as it is – they want to make it better.

 Which of your books are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my Knight Cycle books, of which Warrior Kids is an installment, and of Spinner. I choose these books because they feature, as main characters, the kinds of kids most Americans would prefer to think don’t exist, kids we as a country kick to the curb and marginalize. I’m talking about kids of color, poor kids, gang members, gay kids, kids with disabilities. These are the amazing young people I’ve spent my life working with, and most of them are better human beings, with more depth of character, than your average college graduate. I shine light on many social ills perpetrated against these kids and show the reader how empowering such youth with good examples and real avenues for positive change can spark a revolution that will benefit all kids in America.

What is the title of the last book you read/was it good or bad?
In The Tall Grass. It was more of a long short story, really, and it was okay. Not enough explanation for what was going on to satisfy me, but at least it wasn’t three hundred pages and then left everything unexplained like other books I’ve read.

Is there anything specific you'd like to try writing about in the future?
On opposite ends of the spectrum, I’d like to write an offbeat humorous book for middle or high school kids about two nerds and a self-assured girl who team up to solve off-the-wall crimes, and I’d also like to explore the mind of a teen who seemingly at random shoots up his school. I’m not sure I will ever embark on either of these ideas, or the two continuations of Spinner, or further adventures of Lance and New Camelot due to overall lack of interest from readers in my work. The books receive generally positive reviews, but I guess my stories don’t sound engaging enough for people to give them a chance. Without readers, it doesn’t make sense to write, right? LOL Time will tell.

What is an interesting or hidden talent you have? 
made a choice to model the best possible behavior at all times. I taught and coached at two high schools for twenty-five years; I have volunteered with the Office of Restorative Justice for over thirty years (with incarcerated kids); I’ve been a volunteer Big Brother through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for over thirty years (my current, and eighth Little Brother is ten years old), and I’ve mentored kids at various YMCAs all my life. And I love to write, obviously. LOL
I seem to have the innate ability to put people at ease, especially kids, such that they share with me very personal information that I would never even consider asking about. I could be stuck in an elevator with a stranger and likely be told his or her entire life story, including secrets they never told anyone else. It’s odd, yes, but I never take advantage of people and share with others what they tell me.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why would you choose it? 
I’d love to fly because, well, who wouldn’t? LOL Seriously, to be able to get from place to place without a car or plane would be amazing. In addition, I think a bird’s eye view of the world makes us appreciate it more.

Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know?
I’m offering the eBook of Warrior Kids free to any teacher who requests it so he/she can share with students and use it in class. As a teacher, I always looked for supplemental materials for use in my classroom, but everything always costs so much. I figured I’d create a story about an important, timely topic, complete with extension activities at the end, and teachers would be thrilled. Oddly enough, not a single teacher has asked me for a copy, despite my contacting numerous school districts, schools, and education websites. Go figure, huh?

Where can we find you on social media?

FB: michaeljbowlerauthor

Twitter: BradleyWallaceM






Check back next year as I will be reviewing Michael's book Warrior Kids!

Monday, 9 November 2015


Today I will be interviewing Joel Ohman! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to be interviewed Contact Me
Other than an author, who are you Joel Ohman?
My name is Joel Ohman. I am 33 years old, married to my best friend, Angela, and have 3 kids, ages 5, almost 3, and 1. My writing companion is my 130lb Bull Mastiff, Caesar (who's asleep on the job most of the time, to be honest). I am a Christian who likes to talk about the good news of Jesus Christ. I do volunteer work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and also with my church in Tampa. I am a serial entrepreneur, having founded a number of different startups in the web space. I am currently the President & CEO of 360 Quote LLC and Real Time Health Quotes LLC, and we own a lot of different web properties, one of the most popular ones being our workout website/iOS App/Android App for You can learn more about me at

What books and authors, past or present, have inspired you to write?
I read a LOT, so there are many different things that have shaped my writing over the years, but I wouldn't say there was any particular book, or books, that I was consciously looking to for inspiration while writing Meritropolis and Meritorium. For the craft of storytelling, I have learned a lot from John Truby and his book, The Anatomy of Story. I can also see different threads of influence in almost everything I have read over the years that contribute toward making the Meritropolis series what it is—the strong protagonist of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, the philosophical bent of C.S. Lewis’ fiction, the dystopian setting of Hugh Howey’s WOOL series, and many more.

What are you currently reading, or what was the last thing you read other than your work?

I am constantly in the middle of about 15-20 different books. I read for an hour or two every day, and I try to read a wide variety of genres and authors, both fiction and non-fiction. You can check out what I am currently reading and follow me on GoodReads here!

Do you listen to music while you write, and if so what kinds of music and which artists do you enjoy?
I almost always listen to music while I write. Usually it’s a playlist of the same song or group of songs over and over again, because it allows me to kind of zone in on what I am doing. Here is a link to the Spotify playlist of music that specifically inspired the Meritropolis series (each of these songs were among the songs I would listen to on repeat while writing):

In the Meritropolis series how were the animal combinations decided upon? For example, I know you chose to write about a bion (bull-lion), as well as many other freaks of nature. So what I want to know is how did you decided which animals to meld together and why. I have a big list of animal combinations that I came up with before I began writing the book, and I tried to work in as many as I could. Sometimes the only criteria was that I liked the way the name sounded. There are over fifteen new animal combinations introduced in Meritorium as well as a couple of big reveals toward the end that many readers might not see coming…

Who or what was your inspiration to write about post-apocalyptic, dystopian, sci-fi?

I've read a lot in this genre, so I would say it’s a mix of a lot of different things. I really just wanted to explore this question of, "What gives a person worth?" Is it their usefulness to society? Is it because someone loves them? Is it because of how they look? Is it because of their health or ability? As a Christian, I believe that all people have worth, because they are made in the image of God. I wanted to explore some different takes on this question. I think that the post-apocalyptic/dystopian/sci-fi genre was the best vehicle to tackle some of those deep philosophical questions in a fun and interesting way.

What projects are you currently working on—both in your writing and otherwise?
The next writing project is book #3 for the Meritropolis series. Other than that, I own a number of different businesses, so we always have new and interesting projects in various stages of development. One fun project is our workout website/iOS App/Android App

Why the title Meritorium?

I wanted a short one word title that was a clever—or at least semi-clever—play on two different words and that was similar to Meritropolis. I like "Meritropolis" because it combines "Merit" and "Metropolis," two words that are great for describing a city where each resident's worth is measured by a score given to them and I like Meritorium because it continues this idea of “Merit” with “Colosseum” / “Auditorium”, words that are perfectly suited for describing a city where gladiatorial games of life or death combat are waged between High Scores and Low Scores, man and beast.

Can you tells us about your characters and who/what inspired them?
I am a big believer in John Truby’s approach to building a “character web”, because this deepens the relationships between characters and helps to make each of the characters more complex. Absent building a good character web, it can be all too easy to fall into the not-very-true-to-real-life good-person/bad-person false dichotomy where your protagonist devolves into this I-can-do-no-wrong character and your antagonist is just pure evil. I was very much aiming to show the imperfections and brokenness in each of the characters. My thinking as a Christian influences this to some degree, given that the Bible teaches that we are all essentially the same; we are all sinners—only God is perfect.

What was the easiest part about writing Meritorium? The hardest?
This was my second book, so I would say that the entire process was much easier than it was for the first book. I have great editors who were able to offer constructive criticism, point me in the right direction, and really speed things up.

Check back next year as I will be reviewing Joel's book Meritorium!

Thank you so much for allowing me to share a little about myself and my book, Meritorium. Here is a brief synopsis of the book:
Charley has escaped from Meritropolis… but in his quest to take down the System that has taken his brother from him, he must go through Meritorium, a city where gladiatorial games of life or death combat are waged between High Scores and Low Scores, man and beast. Charley and Sandy must face man-eating plants, religious zealots, slave traders, and the ever present mutant animal combinations that roam a dystopian Coliseum presided over by Emperor Titus, the one man standing between Charley and the answers he seeks. Man is not an animal, but if they are to make it through Meritorium, will they even be able to tell the difference? The lines between man and beast, friend and foe, will blur in Meritorium, the riveting sequel to the bestselling Meritropolis.

Here is the link to book #1 in the series: