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Sharon A Crawford reviews Shane Joseph’s In the Shadow of the Conquistador

Shane Joseph head shot for book review posting 243887As promised, here is my review of novelist Shane Joseph’s latest book In the Shadow of the Conquistador. But first a little bit about Shane Joseph in his own words.

Shane Joseph is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers in Toronto, Canada. He began writing as a teenager living in Sri Lanka and has never stopped. Redemption in Paradise, his first novel, was published in 2004 and his first short story collection, Fringe Dwellers, in 2008. His novel, After the Flood, a dystopian epic set in the aftermath of global warming, was released in November 2009, and won the Canadian Christian Writers award for best Futuristic/Fantasy novel in 2010.His latest release is In the Shadow of the Conquistador, a novel set in Peru and Canada. His short stories and articles have appeared in several Canadian anthologies and in literary journals around the world. His blog at www.shanejoseph.com is widely syndicated.

His career stints include: stage and radio actor, pop musician, encyclopaedia salesman, lathe machine operator, airline executive, travel agency manager, vice president of a global financial services company, software services salesperson, publishing editor, project manager and management consultant.

Self-taught, with four degrees under his belt obtained through distance education, Shane is an avid traveller and has visited one country for every year of his life and lived in four of them. He fondly recalls incidents during his travels as real lessons he could never have learned in school: husky riding in Finland with no training, trekking the Inca Trail in Peru through an unending rainstorm, hitch-hiking in Australia without a map, escaping a wild elephant in Zambia, and being stranded without money in Denmark, are some of his memories.

After immigrating (twice), raising a family, building a career, and experiencing life’s many highs and lows, Shane has carved out a niche in Cobourg, Ontario with his wife Sarah, where he continues to work, write, and play in a rock band.

Shane Joseph, believes in the gift of second chances. He feels that he has lived many lives in just a single lifetime, always starting from scratch with only the lessons from the past to draw upon. His novels and stories reflect the redemptive power of acceptance and forgiveness.

Book Review

Shane Joseph’s latest novel, In the Shadow of the Conquistador. deals with people’s expectations when they are young, what they do to attain them, and coming to grips in middle age with the results. Joseph’s two main characters, long-time friends George Walton and Jeremy “Jimmy” Spence meet as school children living in Toronto’s east end. George is aggressive and Jimmy is withdrawn. However, the two become close friends, with Jimmy, like the novel’s title, living in George’s shadow. A third character, Denise Langevin, whom both men love but only one marries, keep the two men connected, sometimes in mind only, with several separations, sometimes due to job locations, sometimes due to their personal conflict. There is also a fourth “character” – the novel Conquistador, written over the years by George, which is inserted as a parallel to the main story. Conquistador is Spanish for conqueror and lady-killer, both of which apply to George’s modus operandi going through life. George’s novel tells the story of the Spanish conquering the Incas in Peru in the 1500s, particularly the Spanish leader, Francisco, who like George, is compelled to conquer – in his case – the Incas.

The novel begins with the two men, now middle-aged, meeting in Lima. Peru, at George’s request, after a 20-year separation. Ostensibly they are there to climb the Andes Mountain to the Machu Picchu, an historic site from the Incan reign before the Spanish conquest. As they hike the treacherous route with their guide Valdez, Jimmy’s and George’s past parades before them, taunting and terrorizing them. In Lima they meet two women, Ali and Bea, 15 years their junior. Ali is a spitting image of Denise and shy Bea has a large facial scar. The inevitable seems to be building up, but just when you are expecting it, Joseph adds a few twists.

Joseph intertwines this past with the present, each driving the novel forward. The reader learns that George is a womanizer, to extremes, and that trait cost him a possible political career, his career in academia and his wife, Denise. Denise turns to Jimmy, but he is a control freak and as neither man let her “do her own thing” she leaves them both and returns to her native Montreal where her mother is dying.

The difficult climb up the mountain, done in spurts over several days acts as a catalyst for George and Jimmy to sort out the consequences of their lives. As they interact with each other and the two women, both learn that you can’t always get what you want in life, but the alternative can be a better road to take, or if you live too hard and selfish, sometimes it is too late to do anything but accept the consequences.

Joseph continues to write a compelling story with real-life characters that readers can relate to. Only one negative – I wish the actual years for the past would have been headlined at the beginning of each pertinent section as I got confused a few times, especially when Denise and Jimmy meet after seven years of not seeing each other and Denise has aged, but the timeline is not as far along as I thought. The only dates are the ones at the top of Denise’s letters to her mother and the odd reference by Jimmy to starting university in 1968. And I never did figure out exactly where in middle age George and Jimmy are when they meet in Peru.

But dates aside, I suggest reading In the Shadow of the Conquistador in one or two sittings to get the most out of it.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point

Shane’s books are available in the usual online places like amazon.com. He is also on Goodreads .

Read Shane’s blog posts  Also included here is a list of Shane’s published books.

Shane’s recent guest blog post on Shannon J. Thompson’s blog

Book Review by Sharon A. Crawford at Indigo Chapters

For more information about Shane’s books and where they are available go to his publisher’s website.

Shane Joseph’s book is one of two being launched by Blue Denim Press Saturday, November 21, 2015. For more details, check the flyer below:

 

 

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Author interviews – learning from both sides of the fence

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press. Click for link to purchase e-copies

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press.

Interviewer. Interviewee. Authors can get to do both. Which do you like best?

Last week I sat on both sides of this author interview fence. I posted my review of Rene Natan’s The Woman in Black on this blog and included a short interview with Rene. She also interviewed me for a posting on her blog page and did a book review of Beyond Blood on Goodreads. This interviewing got me thinking about interviews I have done (many, many – around 30 years’ worth) when I was a journalist.

But I have a somewhat unique perspective from the interviewee’s seat. Granted, answers to interview questions for guest blog posts can be carefully thought out. But what about those where the answer has to be spontaneous – such as for most of the profiles and feature articles I wrote where it was either in person or by phone. (Disclaimer: some were via email and could be thought out). Often I would get “don’t print this” or “this is off the record” but you can’t do that when you are being interviewed in front of an audience or on TV. (although TV interviews can be edited).

The bottom line is I get a rush from being interviewed and interviewing other authors. But I also like public speaking and reading from my book in public. Maybe it’s the drama queen in me or perhaps I’m a frustrated actor, but I get in character when I read and when I speak about something I am passionate about – such as writing, I get carried away. And I hope I carry my audience away with me too.

So being interviewed on TV doesn’t faze me, at least not anymore. I never know what some of the questions will be or what I will come up with for answers. But I always pitch right in with an answer – even when the interviewer goes a bit off track as Hugh Reilly did when he interviewed me about Beyond the Tripping Point in fall 2012. He got into Canadian mystery series and British series so I answered his questions and then got it back to Beyond the Tripping Point.

Ditto for being interviewed by Tom Taylor for his cable TV program Writers & Readers. Instead of one 10-minute interview he sprung it on me that there would be a second one about my editing and writing career.

The one that almost threw me for a loop goes back 25 years or so when another journalist (broadcast and print) who was a former mayor of Aurora and I were on an Aurora Cable TV show. I was supposed to be interviewing him – which I did. Then he ended the first segment with “when we come back I’ll be interviewing Sharon about her writing and community work.” (paraphrased).

I had about 10 minutes to catch my breath and mentally change chairs.

At least I didn’t have to prepare questions for this part.

It went off okay, but I think it helped teach me to be spontaneous. So does doing interviews – because you can prepare questions but the interviewee (or subject as journalists call him or her) may go off on tangents, clam up or as one artist did, look at me with dismay when she saw my recorder.

I told her “this is for accuracy,” and she settled down.

Being as accurate as you can, in the moment, is part of the bottom line when interviewing authors (or anyone) or being interviewed as an author. The other important bottom line part is being yourself.

Oh, and if a TV interview, don’t wear white. It interferes with the lighting.

You can read Rene Natan’s interview of me at http://www.scribd.com/doc/251460632/Interview-with-Sharon-Crawford

Rene Natan’s book review of Beyond Blood is on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23160706-beyond-blood

For something completely different check out when I was interviewed about Beyond Blood and writing on radio station Northumberland 89.7 FM http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/

All my TV interviews are posted on You Tube. Click on “Video” at the top right of this blog

Check out my website www.samcraw.com for more information about Beyond Blood and my writing workshops. I do update it.

The book cover at the top links to my amazon.com author profile and my books.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Final touches on books make a difference

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

Half my life is an act of revision.

  • John Irving

 

Tuesday evening I commiserated with Klaus Jakelski, the other mystery novelist being published in October by Blue Denim Press. His book is a medical mystery – Dead Wrong – and mine is the prequel novel Beyond Blood. For the past couple of months it has been back and forth with the publisher’s editor to fix a few things in our novels. In my case a freelance editor I hired and the author doing the back page review got into the act.

Klaus and I gave a combined sigh of relief (on the phone) that this part is over and we can get down to the business of promoting our books – some of it we will do together.

Despite all the work, sometimes with a day’s turnaround, it is worth it. Speaking for Beyond Blood, the hired freelance editor fixed all my ellipses. One of my characters, Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding stutters. This editor hoped that by the next book in the series, Fielding’s stuttering is decreased. Not too much hope for that as he stutters most when in the presence of one of the fraternal twin PI’s – Dana Bowman because he has a thing for her. Is it mutual? Well, you’ll have to read the books. I’m still deciding how I will play that out in the next book – Beyond Faith – as I continue with that in my spare time.

The author writing the back page review found a couple of things that didn’t make sense – just a slight change in words and one word added to Dana’s activities with her son – to make it more believable for something she does near the end of the book, were a big help.

Meantime while to-ing and fro-ing with the publisher’s editor, we both found a few errors. To my horror I discovered I had spelled Bobby Darin’s name incorrectly and also his big hit Mack the Knife. These are the correct spellings. I also found a couple of errors in the acknowledgements – I had misspelled that editor’s (he of the ellipses issue) last name although it might have been a typo. And one of my previously published books, a novella co-authored with another writer, had the authors’ names mixed up – that was the publisher’s editor. I also found a period after one of the chapter numbers.

But mostly it was commas we fixated on, especially on the back page.

I also had to check the back page for wordage as he had to delete and reword a bit for space. Not a problem with me.

And the cover is awesome. See below at the end of this post for book covers for both Klaus’s Dead Wrong and my Beyond Blood. Right now everything for Klaus’s and my book is off to the printer. And yes, both books will be available in Kindle and e-pub on amazon.com, etc. The publisher already has the ISBN numbers for that and for print.

So, despite all the back and forth, I am glad it was all done that way. The more pairs of eyes the better – although when it gets down to those pesky commas, you won’t get two editors in a room (physically or online) who agree completely with comma usage. To paraphrase my publisher’s editor – it is all subjective.

The main thing is being accurate, consistent and no spelling errors or typos.

Toes crossed (can’t cross fingers and type) that all is now well with both Klaus’s and my books.

And we now are working on the PR.

One thing we are looking for is more book reviews. We have leads and also ways to get some book reviews but are open to suggestions. In particular, I’m looking for ways to get online book reviews that I can post on my social media accounts. I had a chat with another writer who is doing research on the author-reader connection and he said that after the book launch hoopla has worn off an author still needs book reviews and the six to 12-month period after publication dates is crucial.

Meantime I will continue with posting to some of the groups I belong to in Linked In. I’m pretty active on Linked In and want to do the same with my Goodreads account – which I have to update. But I find Goodreads a bit of a pain to manoeuvre around in. Others say the same. It is still a good place to connect with readers. So are libraries (and I do lots of that with readings and teaching workshops).

And posting here. Sometimes a progress report on the PR, sometimes more fiction-writing tips. And as we get closer to the book launch (October 19), I will be bringing back those characters from Beyond the Tripping Point who are also in Beyond Blood – to well, take over as they did before. So, just like the regular TV series (and even the same timeline) returning soon will be Dana Bowman and her fraternal twin Bast Overture, Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding, PC Joseph Oliver, Great Aunt Doris Bowman, Dana’s son David, as well as a few other characters from Beyond Blood.

Stay tuned.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date. And remember that clicking on the book icon at the top gets you to my Amazon profile.

Cover of Dead Wrong by Klaus Jakelski, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Dead Wrong by Klaus Jakelski, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

 

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Some thoughts on marketing your published book

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.
– A.A. Milne

The book cover for my new mystery novel Beyond Blood is about ready for print. Shane the editor at my publisher’s (Blue Denim Press) and I have been to-ing and fro-ing by email to proofread the cover, mainly the back page info. I think we got the last comma squared away. Whew!

And the cover is awesome and reflects the book’s title and content. When Shane emails me the actual cover in a smaller size, I will post it on this blog.

Meantime I continue on the pre-book launch PR. I also have to consider the other mystery novelist (first novel for both of us) being published by Blue Denim Press – Klaus Jakelski, a medical doctor and author of the medical mystery Dead Wrong. Ironically, Klaus is one of my editing clients although except for providing Blue Denim Press’s contact info, I had nothing to do with his book getting accepted by them. But Klaus and I will be doing some of the PR together.

There are many, many ways an author can publicize his or her book. My publisher is doing some PR (Shane sent me a list, including what we authors can do). However, I have learned much from my PR efforts with my debut mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point.

1. You need a marketing plan as I found out when trying to book a gig reading Beyond the Tripping Point (before it came out) at a bookstore in Waterloo, Ontario. The store manager wanted to see my marketing plan first.
2. You need to organize your marketing plan to suit you. I tried doing it by category (i.e. book launch, writing organizations, etc.) first in a Word Table and then a colleague set it up in Excel. Too confusing. For yet another possible marketing venture, I had to list my Marketing plan by the month. That one works best for me. Under each month I list what I will do by – you guessed it – category. The list meshes social media, email and in-person. And it is always in flux and open to additions – some of which my publisher emails me.

What else have I learned from the PR I did for BTTP?
1. A combination of social media, email and in-person appearances/readings,workshops and lots of book reviews is the way to go. Despite this digital age, author appearances reading should not be excluded. People still like to connect in person with authors.
2. E-mail PR can still work and can be segued into social media and result in book sales.
4. Videos of author reading (short) and interviews (shortish) are also draws if posted on You Tube and all your other social media.
5. Blogging, including blog tours, with connections to amazon.com, etc. and other social media works.
6. A book page on the now old-fashioned website. I have one for Beyond the Tripping Point and have started one for Beyond Blood at http://www.samcraw.com. You can list your author gigs, including blog tours and other relevant info. Just keep it short and use links where possible.

 

What new strategies I need to use with Beyond Blood:

Among others – book trailer, using my social media much more, getting more book reviews, visiting more bricks and mortar bookstores for readings (with or without other Crime Writers of Canada authors) and getting more TV interviews and maybe a radio one, and the DVD copies of the interviews to put up on You Tube, etc. (with my son, Martin, the computer expert’s help), and using a tagline for all of this (for Beyond Blood and Klaus’s Dead Wrong it is Blue Murder, a play on words for the publisher’s name. Shane from Blue Denim Press came up with that one.

It’s almost a full-time job, but as I posted a few weeks ago in https://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/2014/07/10/juggling-time-to-publicize-first-novel-and-write-second-novel/

I do other writing, teaching and editing. It boils down to being organized and picking my battles for all the other stuff in my life that goes wrong. Like the bank (i.e. one of their tellers) paying my property tax money into the city utility (water and waste) account by mistake, so I get a big fine for “non-payment” of property taxes. The bank manager is supposed to be fixing that and seemed very interested if I knew which teller was responsible, so I hope they nail her. She should be paying my fine.

And if any of my readers use other PR strategies for their published books (whether Indie or traditional publisher), please comment.

Meantime, back to the PR for Beyond Blood.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date. And remember that clicking on the book icon at the top gets you to my Amazon profile.

 

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