Monday, 26 January 2015

Guest Author Interview - Mel Ostrov

In this week's Guest Author Interview I am joined by Mel Ostrov, author of 'Mud Castles':

Click on image to buy from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I was born in the U.S.A. during the Great Depression. My parents were poor immigrants from England – my father from the east side slums of London, my mother from Manchester. Both parents had only an elementary school education; both had to work to support their new family. Fortunately, the New York City schools, including Brooklyn College, were free. I proved to be a good student, serving on the math team and earning a science medal. After college I attended medical school, followed by a hospital internship, then residency in Internal Medicine followed by another year specializing in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, going on to become a Fellow of the Academy (FAAAAI). During the Vietnam War I served in the U.S. Army for two years as a physician in an Army Hospital. By then I had a lovely wife and two wonderful children. After I was discharged at the rank of Major I joined a practice specializing in Allergies and Asthma. Now that I’m retired I have found time to write my first novel, Mud Castles.

What first inspired you to start writing?
In school, writing compositions and reports seemed to be merely a chore because I had to do it. However, when I became a contributor to medical journals and wrote articles for newspapers I found it to be quite enjoyable. From there it wasn’t much of a leap jumping to books.

Where did the idea for Mud Castles come from?
Believe it or not, the entire concept of Mud Castles did not present as an idea; it evolved. From early childhood I always empathized with other children in distress; I couldn’t bear to see them cry. That trait always persisted, but a physician adapts by mentally distancing himself in situations such as mental or physical suffering. After I retired from practice, I had the time to illustrate in writing how I thought an afflicted child may feel and react to his situation. After I created a boy with a birth defect it seemed only natural to have him acquire psychological problems. Then, it had to evolve into a situation where the parents would desperately attempt to help him. As I was writing, I realized that the concept of God and religion played an important part, not only in physical and mental anguish, but also in life and death. And so, the metaphor of Mud Castles came into play as the protagonists philosophized on the beach. I just made it all up as the story unfolded.

Which book has had the greatest impact on you and why?
“Arrowsmith” by Sinclair Lewis definitely had the greatest impact on me. My mother was an avid reader. She cherished and raved about her 1925 edition of the book (which I still own), enticing me to read it when I was about 12 years old. I attribute that story to my career in medicine, for after that I read every medical novel I could find in the public library (I couldn’t afford to buy a book).

Where do you like to write?
In the public library; it’s isolated, quiet and comfortable.

What makes your writing stand out?
They tell me that my style is “simplistic”, whatever that means; I guess it must be easy to read. The text of the book deals with important, controversial issues, some of which are depressing, but there are also dabs of humor and hope. Some readers regard it as a historical novel describing an interesting locale during a time gone by. Others appreciate the controversial messages buried in the story. A few people may even recognize and understand an occasional epithet like “Ofays” or the meaning of a dog’s foreign name.

What is your favourite song lyric?
It shouldn’t be surprising to see that an empathetic person’s favorite song lyrics are those that reflect hope in the face of sadness, suffering, anguish, or rejection. My favorite lyric is from “The Little White Cloud that Cried,” written and sung by Johnnie Ray:

…When all at once I saw in the sky
The little white cloud that cried
He told me he was very lonesome
And no one cared if he lived or died
And said sometimes the thunder and lightning
Make all little clouds hide
He said Have faith in all kinds of weather
For the sun will always shine
Do your best and always remember
The dark clouds pass with time

It’s reminiscent of Longfellow’s poem, Rainy Day:

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

What are you working on at the moment?
I‘m still involved with Mud Castles, looking into producing an audiobook and perhaps even a movie version, while thinking about a plot for a follow up book.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
So far, Mud Castles is my only release. It’s a Coming-of-Age story of a boy as he learns about life and death. He was born with a permanent disfigurement on his face with no hope for correction. It proved to be a defining factor in his life. Raised in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York, he had to endure taunts, mockery and bullying leading to pathological shyness and self-imposed social isolation. Over the years a family tragedy adds to his tribulations leading to religious conflict, followed by even more devastating consequences during adolescence when a mysterious girl enters the scene.

Click here to buy Mud Castles from Amazon

Sunday, 25 January 2015

February Short Fiction Contest

"Hanoi Water Puppets - Fairy Dance (3695189852)" by Greg Willis from Denver, CO, usa

Welcome to February's Short Fiction Contest here on The Cult of Me blog. This month's image found me almost instantly while browsing Wikimedia Commons. There's great art to the dolls as well as something a little creepy to them. I'm sure it will inspire some incredible stories!

As always the stories can be of any genre. They just have to be inspired by this month's image and no more than 500 words.

Entry to the contest remains free and there are prizes for the three winners. I will also feature any of the stories that don't win but I believe are worth showcasing on this blog.
  • First prize is a £50 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
  • Second prize is a £20 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
  • Third prize is a £10 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
The money for the prizes come out of my own pocket, although I do make a little from advertising on this blog. So if you see something of interest then feel free to click on the links and purchase away! If you haven't tried my books yet then check them out at the top of the page, as well as buying a good read you'll be helping this contest.

Please make sure to check your story for typos before submitting. I don't mind a few errors, but my enjoyment of a story is diminished if I have to wade through too many.

I'll post the winning entries by March 1st 2015.

As with everything in life there are a few rules:
  • Only one entry per person.
  • The story must not be longer than 500 words.
  • Closing date for submissions is February 22nd 2015.
  • By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to post the story on this blog. I do ask that I post it here first.
  • You also grant me a one time non-exclusive license to include the story in an e-book release.
  • The judge's decision is final.

Use the form below to enter your submission. After you've submitted please leave a comment on this page stating that you have submitted. And please help spread the word. Great stories deserve great readers!

As well as comments section below you can chat about this competition in any of the threads I've listed below. If you don't know the sites then entering the competition is a good way to introduce yourself. Note that these sites are not affiliated with the competition in any way!

If you've started your own thread or discussion somewhere about this month's competition then let me know and I'll add the link to this page.

Shout Out for Jotters United

Jotters United started when are a group of writers met on-line through various sites and pages. Some of us are published, some not. We are united in our quest to get our work out there, published in various forms: books, magazines, web-sites, whatever. And are united in trying to improve our art and swapping best practice and information.

We started our magazine a year ago What we hope to do with our E-zine is to publish some cool writing from established and new writers. If we like it, it gets in! We try to publish one Issue a month.

We also now have a facebook page where we share anything to do with writing, stuff like links to books, competitions, submission calls, opinions and so on.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Tales of the Imp - Missing in Action

After a long hiatus the Imp returns (well not quite!) in the latest Tales of the Imp drabble featured in today's Indie Book Bargains newsletter. You can read the previous drabbles in the series here:

Missing in Action

It’s been months since I last saw the Imp and my life’s become a mess.

I don’t know where he’s gone, only that he’s not here and I don’t know what to do. Considering all of the crap he’s put me through, my feelings come as a surprise.

I’m sat in front of the computer trying to write and the words just won’t come. He claimed to be my muse and maybe that was truer than I realised.

All I know is that he understood me in a way no person ever could and now I’m alone.

Where is he?

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Last True Demon Available for Pre-Order

I'm very pleased to announce that the epic conclusion to The Third Path trilogy 'The Last True Demon' is now available for pre-order on Kindle and will be released on Sunday February 1st.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

The Last True Demon is the concluding book in The Third Path trilogy.

Stealing Lazarus’ miracle granted me immortality. Unfortunately, as I discovered upon a cold slab of stone, it didn’t make me indestructible. According to a dark prophecy I should have been the one who could stop the Antichrist bringing his Father to the Earth.

I learned the hard way as he ripped the miracle from my flesh. Now I’ve passed over and I’m in the ruins of the Garden of Eden with the Friar, Hammond, and Venet, a wounded angel. There’s a slim chance we can save humanity. All we have to do is find God and convince him to intervene and save us all.

The only problem?

He doesn’t believe that we exist…

Available to pre-order now: 

My Books on Goodreads