Unrest: A film about chronic illness by Jennifer Brea

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Jennifer Brea is an active Harvard PhD student about to marry the love of her life when suddenly her body starts failing her. Hoping to shed light on her strange symptoms, Jennifer grabs a camera and films the darkest moments unfolding before her eyes as she is derailed by M.E. (commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), a mysterious illness some still believe is “all in your head.”

In this story of love and loss, newlyweds Jennifer and Omar search for answers as they face unexpected obstacles with great heart. Often confined by her illness to the private space of her bed, Jen is moved to connect with others around the globe. Utilizing Skype and social media, she unlocks a forgotten community with intimate portraits of four other families suffering similarly. Jennifer Brea’s wonderfully honest portrayal asks us to rethink the stigma around an illness that affects millions of people. Unrest is a vulnerable and eloquent personal documentary that is sure to hit closer to home than many could imagine.

  • “Astonishing”– BBC
  • “Brilliant” – The Daily Telegraph
  • “Riveting…equal parts medical mystery, science lesson, political advocacy primer and even a love story.” — San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Remarkably intimate, deeply edifying and a stirring call to action…an existential exploration of the meaning of life.” — LA Times
  • ★★★★★ “A sensitive, powerful documentary” that’s “compulsive viewing.” — BritFlicks
  • “An intimate essay” that even feels like “a suspenseful thriller” and “packs a significant emotional punch.” — The Spectator

You can watch the trailer here. For information on how to watch the film, visit the website, or find a screening near you.

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Jessica Bayliss jumps on The Bandwagon to talk about improving your writing

bayliss-new-3-5_1Jessica Bayliss is a fiction author with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology who loves all things reading and writing. Her work crosses genres including romance, urban fantasy, and horror. Although it’s typically advisable to focus on one audience, Jessica just can’t seem to settle down; she writes Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult and (eh hem) regular adult fiction. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Because one cannot live on writing alone, Jessica also spends a great deal of time with friends and family. She is a lover of all animals especially one very special Havanese and one extremely ornery cockatiel. She also loves to cook, eat, and exercise (it’s all about balance, right?) and is a firm believer that coffee makes the world a better place.

Jessica is available for Skype Visits, Workshops, and talks about her books, writing, and related to her PsychWRITE workshops and webinars.

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Today I want to talk about the fluidity of books and stories. This notion has been on my mind a lot for a few different reasons. Number one, I’ve been working on revisions of my own books, and I’m a Pitch Wars mentor, so revision is on my mind in general. But I’ve also been doing reading for critique partners, and it’s not uncommon to find little inconsistencies in books that are undergoing revision, which are often holdovers from previous drafts. So, a CP may say something like, “Oh, in the last draft, the character named Bessie was actually the MC’s best friend, but my editor said I needed a little more tension so we turned Bessie into a robot shark.” Okay, maybe I’ve never heard that exact line, but you get the point.

When I think about some of my books, and some I’ve read for friends, and then think about the way these books used to be, I’m often blown away by how different the finished product is from the original.

We can also flip this around. Next time you start a new book, try asking yourself: What was this book like in its first draft? And think about all the things that might have been different. Unless the book was written by a friend (or unless the author discloses details of their revision process), we will never know. But one thing I am certain of is that every book we purchase—whether from our local indie bookstore or downloaded to our e-reader—was very different in its earliest iteration.

I use that word deliberately: iteration. Because plotting and character development are iterative processes. I think about my own revisions on my debut novel, TEN AFTER CLOSING, or the one I just sent off to my editor—a book that I revised quite a bit on my own, then re-revised for my agent. If my editor decides she wants it, I’m sure I’ll do even more revision. Both of these books have had huge changes; it’s actually hard to wrap my brain around that, especially because I (naturally) thought they were both perfect before the changes (LOL!).

If you’ve read any of my blog posts, particularly my It’s a Writer Thing blog series, you know that I believe practice is the single most important thing we can do to be successful.

So, for me, practicing that process of major revisions, literally re-imagining big chunks of my books, has been an incredible learning experience. It’s taught me to be flexible. It’s taught me that new versions of my manuscript can feel just as right—more right even—than the original version. I’ve learned things about myself too: I know that changing something I love won’t kill me. I know I can get through and come out the other end feeling even better than ever about the MS. And I know it’s like this for other writers because they’re telling me about their own revision whirlwinds all the time.

Until the day the book goes to print, it’s a fluid entity, a shapeshifter without a true face. It can be anything.

So, here’s one weird tip. Take a book you’ve written (or a short story, or even a scene), and now rewrite it in an entirely different way. I know, that sounds crazy. You worked hard on that book and you probably love it; I know I loved mine. But try it. You don’t have to keep the new version. Just try rewriting it and pretending you’re going for an entirely different feel or different genre or just a different emotional dynamic in a particular scene. Put your all into it—pretend it’s for realz—and then see how you feel about the new version.

Perhaps you’ll still love your original more. Even if you do, you might find yourself getting totally wrapped up in this new imagining of your tale. You might discover all sorts of new ideas, exciting ones. Maybe you’ll never use them (or maybe a couple will find their way in the book in the end). Regardless of which draft you prefer, you will definitely see the stories in a new light. Gone will be the false belief that books and stories are static, that there is one way to tell this tale. And, hopefully, one day when you get revisions from your agent or your editor, you’ll know that you can make any changes they ask for and love them. Because you practiced it already.

S.N. Lemoing talks about the problem of finding a book cover

As an indie author, I have to do a lot of things by myself, and finding a good cover is one of our worst nightmares – unless you’re skilled at graphic design. For those of us who aren’t, we have some solutions: pre-made covers which can be affordable, or attempting photomontage.

 As I write about strong female characters, I have been dealing with even more hard choices each time I have to create a cover for my novels. First, I was browsing through a lot of pre-made covers in many genres: fantasy, thriller, drama, chick-lit, etc. There are some very beautiful works, some are as worthy as covers created by huge publishing houses.

However, it’s clear they’re all in need of a feminist helping hand.

The women represented on them are all overly feminine, wearing gowns and high heels. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but not all women are like this, and these different women should be represented too.

Moreover, all the models look fragile, strike unnatural poses like holding their bare shoulder while looking away. They all seem to be in waiting, probably for Prince Charming or a bad boy who will harass them.

And this is when they’re not naked, offering themselves to the male gaze – or simply dead bodies.

It’s striking how male characters are not illustrated the same way, just as in the movies, on TV, or in any media that we know. Have you ever seen a cover or a film poster showing a man holding his shoulder with a sad patient look, longing for the girl of his dreams? We’re still waiting.

The thing is, for my first novel, I was looking for female warriors with realistic and practical outfits, but I only found two women, hypersexualized, wearing the same stuff we can see on The Hawkeye Initiative.

Then, I was looking for a determined Mexican woman who’s also a police officer, but could only find two Latina characters (yes, because there is also a lack of ethnic diversity): one who was sexy and passive, lying on a bed, and another one who was crying.

For another novel, I was looking for a confident plus size girl, but as the models on the pictures are all tall and thin, and mainly white, nothing matched. Or the few bigger women that could be found looked passive and/or hypersexualized too, which wasn’t the subject of my story at all.

Representation matters, and we need more diverse pictures and illustrations. We need women who aren’t scared, women with confident stares, women who can actually wear clothes and look powerful thanks to independent and self-assured positions. And also different body types.

We need different male models too, because as you scroll the pages, all you can see are bodybuilders, flexing muscles, and it shouldn’t be a standard either. There should be no standard.

S.N. Lemoing is the author of Powerful – Tome 1: The Realm of Harcilor. She was born in 1987 near Paris, France. S N Lemoing

She graduated in Cinematography and English, studied philosophy, literature and lately, at University, she had the chance to follow classes about the Image of Women in the Media as well as the Female Gaze: Women directors. She then worked as a PA for films and TV, and also wrote, directed and produced episodes for 3 webseries and short films.

You can read more about Lemoing, and her book, here.

Introducing: Powerful – Tome 1: The Realm of Harcilor by S. N. Lemoing

The Bandwagon introduces indie author S.N. Lemoing, a fresh feminist voice in the fantasy world.

From the author:

“Several years ago, I wrote this novel to bring some subjects to the fore, such as diverse and powerful female characters, ecology, different families (single parents, large families, poor and rich backgrounds), and diversity of body types. The characters are never totally as they seem to be. The reader can feel a lot of emotions; the story is like a roller-coaster.

About the characters, we have ingenious children and teenagers, a biracial rebel princess and a maimed female warrior, among others. Politics, treason, magical powers, epic battle scenes, a little bit of romance – these are the themes you can find in this story.”

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For twelve years, the power has been usurped at the Realm of Harcilor. Cyr, an erudite, and his adopted son, Kaaz, have formed a secret school.

Indeed, in this world, some people were born endowed with magical abilities: the Silarens.

However, it is not that easy to detect your own powers. They will soon be joined by a mysterious young woman who will provide them with valuable information.

When Litar – the most powerful being of the realm – goes away for two months, they finally foresee the opportunity to act.

Can they win their freedom back? Will they make the right choices?

Grab your copy on Amazon now, or find it on Goodreads. You can keep up to date with the latest book news on the Facebook page.

About The Author

S. N. Lemoing was born in 1987 near Paris, France. S N Lemoing

She graduated in Cinematography and English, studied philosophy, literature and lately, at University, she had the chance to follow classes about the Image of Women in the Media as well as the Female Gaze: Women directors. She then worked as a PA for films and TV, and also wrote, directed and produced episodes for 3 webseries and short films.

The will to write without boundaries led her to become an independent author. Her first novel is POWERFUL – T1: The Realm of Harcilor, a fantasy novel acclaimed by more than 85 French literary bloggers.

Her second book is a sassy chick-lit ‘Mes 7 ex’ (My seven exes), and the 3rd one ‘SHEWOLF’, urban fantasy genre, has been read by 1200+ readers and stayed on the Amazon’s Supernatural top 15 for 5 months.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr 

Guest Blog: Book secrets you didn’t know by Taryn Leigh

Author Taryn Leigh jumps on The Bandwagon to reveal secrets you didn’t know about your favourite books.

Taryn Leigh is a South African born citizen, who spent her childhood with her nose buried in books. Her love for reading transpired into her ambition to become a writer. She first tried her hand at blogging, which eventually led to her writing her first novel. She lives in Pretoria, with her husband, son, and two cocker spaniels.

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Secrets of Thirteen Reasons Why

Not every character in the series is in the book.

When the writers brought the 288-page book to life as a 13-hour series, they had to expand the world of the story with new characters.

“I think of the book as this outline of Hannah’s story, and then from that, the writers of the series — with Jay’s blessing — added so many details and plots that allow the viewer to unpack the story to a greater extent,” Hannah said. “The new characters help out flesh out this world.”

Her character Stephanie is among the new additions, which meant Hannah was acting from a clean slate. She’s one of Courtney’s best friends and “a ditzy take on the typical mean girl,” Hannah explained. “When I got the breakdown for this character, it was funny because the script just said, ‘Stephanie (pretty, dumb.)’.”

Read more from the source here.

 

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Secrets of Perfect Imperfections by Taryn Leigh

“Edward’s character in the book is actually inspired by my real life husband. Also the mention of Wuthering Heights in the book is a hint towards my husband, as Wuthering Heights is the very first book he gave me when we had just started dating.

One day we were walking in a flea market, and he picked up a used copy of Wuthering Heights sold by a book merchant, and bought it for me. He then took me to the park, and sat playing with my hair as I read the first few chapters. He won my heart that day!”

 

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Secrets of JK Rowling, Author of Harry Potter

JK Rowling finds ways to bring elements of herself into her books.

She and Harry Potter share a birthday, July 31st. She is reported as saying that Hermione is a bit like her when she was younger, and her favourite animal is an otter—which is, of course, Hermione’s patronus. Plus, both Dumbledore and Rowling like sherbet lemons (Rowling said that the wizard’s “got good taste”).

Read more from the source here.

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Secrets of Karen Swan, Author of Christmas at Tiffany’s

Karen Swans real name is Karen Anne Swan MacLeod.

Much as she loves her very Scottish name, Swan had to drop the MacLeod when she started writing blockbuster fiction since the shorter name suited the flamboyantly embossed covers of her saucy books.

“I’d always written as a journalist as Karen Swan MacLeod. Dad’s family name is actually MacSwan MacLeod, so we’re very Scottish. I think Karen Swan sounds like a made-up name for someone who writes sexy, romantic novels.”

Read more from the source here.

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About Perfect Imperfections

Sarah Lewis desires nothing more than to begin again after a failed marriage and a tragedy so terrifying, it forces her to leave her life in London to stay with her best friend a world apart in South Africa.

Despite immediate success in her business, she struggles to understand who she really is and where she belongs in the world. So begins a journey of discovery as Sarah re-unites with Katy in the land where she was born, where the air is lavender scented, and weekends are spent cycling on the beach.

Until the day when she has to return to London to face the ghosts of her past and confront a situation that has grown more complicated in her absence.

Perfect Imperfections is an intriguing tale which hints at wrongdoings and deceit without giving too much away. The author cleverly weaves a tale around fragile yet strong Sarah as she tries to reconcile her past with her future, engaging the reader to the point where we simply want the best for her and for happiness finally to come her way.

Find Taryn Leigh on social media

Facebook: @PerfectImperfectionsTarynLeigh

Twitter: @tarynleighbook

Instagram: @tarynleighbooks

Website: https://olympiapublishers.com/books/perfect-imperfections

Guest Blog: The Raw and Magical Journey of Writing a Fantasy Fiction Trilogy Series by Patricia Bossano

 

Award-winning author Patricia Bossano jumps on The Bandwagon to share her writing journey.

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Patricia grew up in Ecuador, South America and moved to the United States in the mid 1980’s to pursue a career in International Sales, as well as work as a translator, interpreter and instructor in Spanish.

“Write what you know”, we’re told time and time again. I’m not sure we have the final word on where this quote originated; some say Mark Twain, others Ernest Hemingway. Regardless of the author, everyone seems to have taken issue with its meaning, trying to decide whether it’s good or bad advice.  After all, if we wrote only about things we know, my guess is fiction wouldn’t even exist.

The first time I came across “write what you know” my reaction was that it was a true statement for non-fiction as well as fiction writers. The former are the biographers, chroniclers, historians, and manual writers of the planet, while the latter go on to know their heart and mind and can write volumes based off their imagine. As a result, exciting new realms of literature emerge from dreams, nightmares, visions, and over-active imaginations.

When I set out to write my first novella, my intent wasn’t to produce a full-length novel, much less a trilogy. I merely wanted to entertain people in my family through storytelling. The central idea for the plot was the relationship between two girls and their mothers. Since the target audience was a new generation of girls in my family, I placed the two main characters in a magical realm under circumstances that would test their bond while challenging their strengths and abilities.

I also wanted to write something that was readily believable, so I chose to incorporate family names to make it easier for them to identify other family members. However, I had to rethink that approach as soon as evil witches and bad faeries came into play, so I changed the names to protect the innocent, but I held on to the family’s ancestry (Spanish, Italian, and a little French).

Still determined to write a realistic fantasy, I searched the globe for the right locale and landed with the Western Pyrenees, a range of mountains that form a natural border between Spain and France.  The Pyrenees are known for their remote and nearly inaccessible location, which allowed me to tuck my characters away until circumstances forced them to acknowledge the world beyond (very much like my childhood in Ecuador, comparatively removed from civilization).

I also magnified and fictionalized certain features of the natural world, like the size of the full moon, or what might lurk behind a waterfall, so that I could blend reality with magic. I simply wanted to make my family grin while wondering if my story held any truth. I wanted them to look around and say to themselves, “So and so could be a faery” or “I could be a faery!”

With the publishing process underway for Faery Sight, a story set in the 1800’s, I began jotting down serious notes for another book—one that would involve two girls again (sisters this time) who are confronted with a family secret. But it wasn’t until Faery Sight was published in 2009 that I saw how the second story could work as a sequel. I lightly re-structured the chapters I had already outlined, and in 2013 Cradle Gift emerged as the story of a descendant of the main character in Faery Sight, a couple hundred years into the future.

Nahia, the third installment in the faerie series, hovered in the horizon as early as 2012. The character of Nahia is the common denominator in both chronicles, and through her we learn what happened in the two centuries between one matriarch and the other.

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The bit of magic I experienced in this faerie journey was that at the onset of Faery Sight and post-publication, I had no idea Nahia was on her way. As I set out to develop her story, (with fingers crossed), I discovered that the facts and omissions in Faery Sight, and the applicable references in Cradle Gift mystically aligned. This realization made me think back to what a seer told me a couple of years ago, which was that my family on my mother’s side had been guardians of a forest in ages past. He said my stories were not made up; rather they were “recollections” of my family’s life in another time and dimension. And I wholeheartedly believe that.

I didn’t set out to write a trilogy, but I can now see how it was there all along, and in doing so, the journey from writing Faery Sight to Cradle Gift to Nahia has been nothing short of pure magic.

 

Guest Blog: Cornish author Jill Turner describes how Fowey inspires her writing

Jill Turner is a Fleet Street journalist and novelist and single mum, now based much of the time around Fowey. Like Daphne du Maurier, she visited it as a child and vowed to return there to become a writer. She has taken part in the Fowey Festival and, like Daphne, is inspired by her coastal walk around the Fowey estuary.

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As a child been driven back to Cornwall, the gateway was never the ‘Welcome to ..” sign, or even the crossing of the Tamar Bridge, but the journey across the bleak no-man’s-land of Bodmin Moor.

It was there my imagination was sparked by my mother telling me of Dozmary Pool and its part in Arthurian legend as the home of the Lady of the Lake, and the final resting place of King Arthur’s magical sword. For me, the barrier between fairy tale and reality was broken. Dozmary Pool, Tintagel, Slaughterhouse, Camelford, all have made claims to England’s greatest legend and made me believe that somewhere, behind some invisible curtain, in that magical, mysterious county at the end of the country, King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table still lay sleeping.

So years later, it was to those legends that I returned when I wrote my first novel. On the surface, a tale of feral children described as an ‘urban Lord of the Flies’ and ‘Trainspotting for teens’ seems a long way from the wild landscapes of Cornwall. But a story needs a structure, and the Tales of King Arthur came into my thoughts. Getting young people reading is also one of my passions, so I wanted to try and encourage an interest in some of the classic literature, poetry, and art inspired by the Arthurian legend.

The Children of Albion tells the story of England’s lost children – some physically, some emotionally, but all living on the edges of life. Set in a present day sink estate, which becomes a microcosmic world where the struggles of life are intensified, the children try to create their own community of lost girls and boys inspired by the Arthurian ideal, while battling parental neglect, exploitation, and interference from the authorities. Led by the charismatic Albie and his ‘Artful Dodger’ sidekick Robbie (the 11-year-old narrator), the children of Albion aim for a hopeful, better future. But can the boys’ friendship see them all through?

“They say he is only sleeping,’’ Albie went on. ”Arthur and his knights are still around, in a cave somewhere deep in the country and when England needs him, Arthur will bring his knights back to save us.”

I thought for a bit. “He’d better hurry up, ain’t he?’’ Then I sat back and said,”Cool”. It was kind of what I’d been thinking about before. That’s kind of nice, innit? That there’s someone out there going to look after you. Take over. Sort it out. It’s kind of nice to think it, even if you know it’s all a load of crap.”   

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Amazon UK | Literature Works | @jilltwriter

 

Jill Turner is reading from The Children of Albion at the Great Estates Festival in Scorrier on June 3rd and 4th.

Although Jill was too late for this year’s Cornish Reading Challenge, I’m pleased to announce that she will be joining us for next year! Keep your eyes peeled for information in 2018.