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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Enemies of Peace by M.K. Williams

Introducing Enemies of Peace, the thrilling new book by M.K. Williams.

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Enemies of Peace literally starts with a bang: an explosion captured by two teenage girls of a house engulphed in flames. In the summer that lead up to the explosion, the Hydroline Corporation hired Timothy Lawson and his firm to represent them in a class-action lawsuit. While juggling his caseload, he and his wife Cynthia decide to buy their first house. It should have been the happiest summer of their lives. Nevertheless, their date with death was looming. 

Who could have possibly done it? Could it be the corporation that Timothy was defending, did he uncover one secret too many? Could it be the cousin that Cynthia has forbidden Timothy to talk with anymore? Could it be the other man who is in love with Cynthia, his jealous rage driving him to kill? Or, could it be the quiet neighbors next door, the unsuspecting extremists living in American suburban splendor?

Enemies of Peace will be released on November 9th 2017. You can read Williams’ Ask The Author interview here.

img_3695MK Williams is an Indiana-born, Philadelphia-raised, Florida-transplant working and living beneath the sunny, and often rainy, skies of Tampa. Williams’ writing influences include a lifetime of watching suspenseful mysteries and action movies and reading Stephen King, Ian McEwan and J.K. Rowling.

 

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Remember, remember, the 5th of November: Weltanschauung turns 1!

On the 5th of November, Weltanschauung will turn 1. To celebrate, I’m giving away 3 signed copies of my short story collection.

41mh26eZQyL._UY250_The harbinger, the oddball, the remaining twin… Weltanschauung seeks to open your eyes to different stories, set in different worlds and at different times, but with the same theme in mind: to make you question your worldview.

This collection of short stories traverses genres, introduces a variety of characters, and shines a light on some of our deepest fears.

Challenge your perceptions.

You can enter to win a signed copy on Goodreads. Don’t forget to join me on Facebook, and let me know what you think!

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.

Introducing: The Triangle by Nakisanze Segawa

Contributing author of Crossroads, Nakisanze Segawa is a Ugandan writer and performance poet. She is also a contributor to Global Press Journal, and to the Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala. The Triangle is her first novel.

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It is a time of upheaval in the African nation of Buganda. Missionaries are rapidly converting people to Christianity, undermining the authority of their king and sewing discord among his people. Three characters – Nagawa, a young but unhappy bride to the king; Kalinda, a servant in the royal courts; and Reverend Clement, a Scottish priest – are swept up in forces that will change their lives and reshape the future of their nation.

While African history often has been told by Westerners rather than Africans themselves, Ugandan writer Nakisanze Segawa offers an African perspective. Her meticulously researched novel examines a critical moment in Ugandan history, and offers a surprising and fresh perspective on Africa in the days just before colonialism.

For more information, or for bloggers to request a review copy, email nagawakalinda@gmail.com.

The Triangle is available to buy in paperback and as an ebook on Smashwords.

Autumn is coming

Yesterday, I noticed the leaves were starting to fall from the trees outside our house. It might still be August, but the scent of autumn is starting to filter through on the breeze.

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Autumn is my favourite season. Cosy throws, fluffy slippers, hot chocolate. Crunchy leaves, Halloween, darkening evenings. And, of course, curling up with a good book. Autumn is the best time for getting stuck into stories, being frightened by a ghost story or thrilled by a thriller.

Each year, I try to come up with a list of books to read during autumn. A couple of years ago, I got stuck into Stephen King. The year before that, I discovered his son, Joe Hill. This year, I’m lining up a bunch of thrillers. Here are my recommendations for autumn 2017.

Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown

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The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

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Slade House by David Mitchell

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist

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What’s on your autumn reading list? Let me know in the comments below!

The Growing Season by Helen Sedgwick

I review The Growing Season by Helen Sedgwick.

Now anyone can have a baby. With FullLife’s safe and affordable healthcare plan, why risk a natural birth?

Without the pouch, Eva might not have been born. And yet she has sacrificed her career, and maybe even her relationship, campaigning against FullLife’s biotech baby pouches. Despite her efforts, everyone prefers a world where women are liberated from danger and constraint and all can share the joy of childbearing. Perhaps FullLife has helped transform society for the better? But just as Eva decides to accept this, she discovers that something strange is happening at FullLife.

Piotr hasn’t seen Eva in years. Not since their life together dissolved in tragedy. But Piotr’s a journalist who has also uncovered something sinister about FullLife. What drove him and Eva apart may just bring them back together, as they search for the truth behind FullLife’s closed doors, and face a truth of their own.

A beautiful story about family, loss and what our future might hold, The Growing Season is an original and powerful novel by a rising talent.

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The Growing Season is a book that looks at motherhood from every feminist perspective. With the advent of the pouch, a way of growing babies outside of a female body, heterosexual couples can share the load of pregnancy, reaching for true equality. Gay couples and infertile women can also experience pregnancy in a way they never could have before. With your male partner sharing the pregnancy, women are no longer seen as a burden, a risk.

But there’s a darker side to this equality. With the pregnancy occurring outside of the woman’s body, what do they need women for? Eva – and before her, her mother, Avigail – campaigned against the pouch for this very reason. Arguing for choice, for the respect of motherhood not to be taken away from women, Eva and Avigail fight for what they believe to be a woman’s right. They fail to acknowledge, at least for the most part, how the pouch helps those who cannot have children naturally, until later on, when Eva manages to adopt a wider view.

The Growing Season takes multiple viewpoints into account. Women are also encouraged to transfer their unwanted foetuses to the pouch, rather than opt for abortion. This would satisfy the pro-life groups (or anti-woman, as I prefer to call them), but the issue of funding these unwanted children rears its ugly head. Many pro-life groups dedicate so much time to telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies, they fail to address just how the children will be looked after throughout their lives – and who will be responsible.

This is a complicated story, not least because of the subject material. We are getting closer to developing a way for a baby to be grown outside of the female body. While this is a positive step for some groups, it might not be seen as such by others. There will always be clashing perspectives when it comes to something like this, and no one of them is more right – more righteous – than the other.

Sedgwick has taken a common, relevant theme, and turned it into an engaging, dystopian fiction. It’s real enough to be relatable, understandable, but still with that reassuring distance, almost like we’re holding the future at arms length. Read it.

Goodreads