‘Billy Christ’ Lovereading Review

‘Billy Christ’ by Michael Cameron has just received a glowing review on Lovereading, one of the largest book review sites in the UK.

“For those who like dark, adult mystery thrillers with great twists and turns, Billy Christ is a must-read. It’s a unique, fast-paced coming-of-age page-turner, set in the turbulent 1970s and written as a fictional memoir, detailing the life of a smart boy named Billy, who believes he’s been chosen by God to be the next Christ.”

To read the full review click here

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Get Billy Christ in the UK and US.

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Party of Nine

‘Party of Nine’ by Joel Blumenau is out today!

Ming, a tormented teenager does battle with his own demons while shouldering the heavy burdens of taking care of his mother and their failing restaurant. It has been a struggle to survive ever since Ming’s father deserted the family. Despite a ray of hope that materializes in the form of a big reservation one night, their lives climax in an unforeseen torrent of pain, violence and tragic consequences.

A gripping story from the pen of one of Cracked Eye’s favorite authors.

99c (US): http://bit.ly/PartyofNineUS

99p (UK): http://bit.ly/PartyofNineUK

 

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STORY OF THE WEEK – ‘Each Little Bird’ by Robert Rigby

STORY OF THE WEEK: ‘Each Little Bird’ by Robert Rigby

A classic case of haunting and ghosts in the night, in this short story from the Cracked Eye collection:
An English country town in the 1970s: a young reporter desperate to make his mark on the local newspaper and impress his acerbic editor, a mysterious woman with psychic gifts and a forgotten tragedy from the past…

These classic elements make for a rich and seductive tale in the tradition of the timeless English ghost story. Robert Rigby’s ‘Each Little Bird’ will entice and enchant you, but you may well feel a slight chill in the air on an English summer evening… a chill that runs down your spine.

99p UK: http://bit.ly/EachLittleBirdUK

99c US: http://bit.ly/EachLittleBirdUS

Short Stories You Must Read: 4. ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’ by Flannery O’Connor (1953)

A Good Man Is Hard To Find - Book Cover

What to expect: A dark and unsettling story about a family’s confrontation with death and violence in the South while travelling from Georgia to Florida. Themes of redemption, grace, comedy and tragedy culminate in a story that is once read and never forgotten.

Best known for: Its unnerving and controversial ending, which throws the morals of the main character into dispute (but we wont spoil it).

Interesting Fact: The story was adapted into a folk song by Sujfan Stevens telling the story from the antagonist’s perspective.

Best Quote: “She would have been a good woman,” said The Misfit, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

Final Words: This is a classic, and Flannery O’Connor’s best known – read it if you want to see how a short story can really pack a punch in so few words.

Short Stories You Must Read: 1. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (1950)

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What to expect: A collection of nine science fiction short stories interwoven through the character Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist, which chronicles the development of robots from basic beginnings to complex beings with the potential to render humanity obsolete.

Expect robots that glitch, make jokes, read minds, and secretly control the world.

 

Best known for: Redefining our perception of robots by creating the fictional laws that govern them, The Three Laws of Robotics:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot may not injure its own kind and defend its own kind unless it is interfering with the first or second rule.

 

Interesting Fact: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Isaac Asimov coined the word robotics, in his short story, Liar (1941).

 

Best Quote: “It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”

– Isaac Asimov, I, Robot

 

Final Words: If you love robots – read it. If self-aware robots freak the bejesus out of you– definitely read it.

Laid Off by Seth Augenstein

Today’s post is from Seth Augenstein whose short story, Laid Off, is published today on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

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In 2008 – as the chickens came home to roost, the seeds once sown were reaped, and just desserts were being served – I wrote the story “Laid Off,” now published by Cracked Eye.

The Great Recession continues to drag on, and friends continue to lose jobs, houses, savings accounts – and their natural hair color.

But as one character in the story says, it’s all part of a natural process of selection. Or is it?

The story’s genesis was interesting, at least to its author. It was written after a tumultuous trip back to Boston, where I’d gone to college. The excursion was distinctly different than the one portrayed in the story. In reality, the city was encased in ice – there was no snow, just a frozen slippery sheet over houses, sidewalks and streets. Walking up and down the slopes in Beacon Hill made for some Olympic-style slaloming, and some psychedelic contusions on every limb. My friend Mark – not Fred – and I lay prostrate in the back of a fishtailing pickup truck drinking beer and singing about Plastic Jesuses because, at the time, it seemed to make sense.

I forget the name of the driver of that truck. He was a bald person, and solemn – but kind, and he had good reflexes.

In the Real Trip, two vagabonds did indeed crash a party in a secret wing of a blue-blood old hotel through a decoy exit door, but there was no Aaron Burr. There was an aspiring novelist, sure – but he was a bigger jerk than was portrayed herein.

Back to history… At that point in 2008, America had made its bed and was just about to lay in it, as we’ve said. After a decade of paying for all sorts of nifty exploding gadgets abroad, and thousands of McMansions springing up across the land, all paid for on the credit card, the tab had come due. Suddenly big entities with anthropomorphic names like Freddie and Fannie were cashing in all our collective chips, and panic hummed in the air. And then there were talks – even in the mass media – about Historical Patterns and Cycles of Civilization and all sorts of other high-minded Pop concepts.

I believed them, and I still believe it now. But I’m also a student of History, and because of that, I’ve read Ecclesiastes:

“Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.”

In trying to make sense of our lean times by boiling it down into abstraction through a fictive medium, I drew inspiration from the greats, too. For one, I was a tour guide at the James Joyce Centre in Dublin one rainy autumn about a decade ago. And this story certainly owes a debt to the author of “Two Gallants.” So if you remember a mumbling American walking you through the steps of scheming Corley and lascivious Lenehan in the fall of 2003, it might have been me. Or it might have been some hopeful Yank, spry of foot and mind, who actually thought poor suckers had a shot in this world.

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Buy now on Amazon UK or Amazon US.

How Do They Do It? Writing Rituals Of Famous Authors

Once upon a time typed on an old antique typewriter

People love process. As consumers we love to hear how our favourite whiskey is matured in American white oak casks for over ten years; or how salt-marsh lamb is flavoured by the marshes and coastal pastures that are tided by the sea. It’s a very powerful marketing tool, and it’s why brands try to romance the wallet out of your pants with how something is crafted.

This love for the how extends to a fascination with the daily practices of the people we most revere: writers, artists, musicians, technological innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists – just how do they do it?

It’s the relatively hermit-like and mysterious reputation of writers that perhaps makes us want to know more about their procedural secrets. I’m not talking so much about their aptitude, or how they see the world, but simply how they get up in the morning and write.

We’ve picked some of the best to share; and as we’re prone to do at Cracked Eye we’ve featured those with a short story or two to their name…

Capote:

“I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don’t use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand.”

John Cheever:

“To publish a definitive collection of short stories in one’s late 60s seems to me, as an American writer, a traditional and a dignified occasion, eclipsed in no way by the fact that a great many of the stories in my current collection were written in my underwear.”

Faulkner:

When Faulkner was working for a bootlegger in Louisiana he met Sherwood Anderson, a short story writer and novelist himself; he recalled:

“We’d meet in the evenings, and we’d go to a drinking place and we’d sit around till one or two o’clock drinking, and still me listening and him talking. Then in the morning he would be in seclusion working, and the next time I’d see him, the same thing, we would spend the afternoon and evening together, the next morning he’d be working. And I thought then, if that was the life it took to be a writer, that was the life for me.”

Flannery O’Connor:

“I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.”

O’Connor suffered from Lupus.

Vladimir Nobokov:

“My schedule is flexible, but I am rather particular about my instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.”

Stephen King:

“There are certain things I do if I sit down to write. I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning. I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.

It’s not any different than a bedtime routine. Do you go to bed a different way every night? Is there a certain side you sleep on? I mean I brush my teeth, I wash my hands. Why would anybody wash their hands before they go to bed? I don’t know. And the pillows are supposed to be pointed a certain way. The open side of the pillowcase is supposed to be pointed in toward the other side of the bed. I don’t know why.”

Will Self:

“First drafts as early in the morning as possible, then second, then third (retyping, I work on a manual). Once the first draft is 80% completed I start on the second, so that there’s a conveyor belt of drafts in progress: this helps me to grasp the totality of the book. I accelerate towards the end, usually because I’m on or past my deadline.”

“Rituals. Smoking–pipes, cigars, special brands, accessories, the whole bollocks. Coffee, tea, strange infusions–I have a stove on my desk. Fetishising typewriters, pens, etc. Overall, though, I have a healthy appetite for solitude. If you don’t, you have no business being a writer.”

Nathan Englander:

“Turn off your cell phone. Honestly, if you want to get work done, you’ve got to learn to unplug. No texting, no email, no Facebook, no Instagram. Whatever it is you’re doing, it needs to stop while you write. A lot of the time (and this is fully goofy to admit), I’ll write with earplugs in — even if it’s dead silent at home.”

Adam Merek:

“I write in my attic. It’s not a dusty spider-hole of an attic, but a cosy cabin high above the street. From my skylight window, I can see fields in which there are horses and crows. Greenfinches annoy me in the spring, rasping outside the window.”

Alice Munro:

“When the kids were little, my time [to write] was as soon as they left for school. So I worked very hard in those years. My husband and I owned a bookstore, and even when I was working there, I stayed at home until noon. I was supposed to be doing housework, and I would also do my writing then. Later on, when I wasn’t working everyday in the store, I would write until everybody came home for lunch and then after they went back, probably till about two-thirty, and then I would have a quick cup of coffee and start doing the housework, trying to get it all done before late afternoon.”

 

Sources:

http://www.brainpickings.org/

http://jamesclear.com/

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews

http://www.adammarek.co.uk/

http://flavorwire.com/category/books

See http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/12/16/writers-wakeup-times-literary-productivity-visualization/ for an incredible visualisation of writers’ sleeping habits vs literary productivity.