Wednesday, April 30, 2014

#Author J.B. McCauley Talks Family & #Writing @MccauleyJay #TBR

Image of J B McCauley

Can you tell us about your main character?
It is based on bits of me and bits if other people. He is what I could have been, might have been if I had made some really stupid choices. Thankfully I never did.

How did you develop your plot and characters? With love and affection and a hell of a lot of re-writing.

Who designed the cover? I did.

Who is your publisher? Mirabal Entertainment Australia

Why did you choose to write this particular book? It was in me.

Tell us a bit about your family. Born in London’s East End. Brought up in Essex in a very loving working class family. They encouraged me to spread my wings and travel the world. I finally came to Australia and am husband to a beautiful wife who allows me to be me and father to two teenage boys. One who is special needs. They are the reason I do what I do.
How do you work through self-doubts and fear? I don’t. I have to be told time and time again that I am good enough. Being an ex-journalist I tend to ponder over every nuance of a word until I realise people just want to read it.
What scares you the most? Not reaching my potential
What makes you happiest? My wife
What’s your greatest character strength? Empathy
What’s your weakest character trait? Empathy
Why do you write? For peace. It’s a cathartic process. It’s a release. Just like exercise keeps the body healthy, writing keeps the mind alert.

King of Sunday Morning
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Genre – Thriller, Action, Suspense, Gangster, Crime, Music
Rating – PG-18
More details about the author
Connect with J.B. McCauley on Facebook & Twitter

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rik Stone (Birth of an Assassin) on Writing @Stone_Rik #Thriller #Crime #AmReading

Image of Rik Stone

Do you plan to publish more books?
Birth of an Assassin is the first in a series. Book 2 & 3 are written, but both require one more redraft.
What else do you do to make money other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time?
I’m very lucky with that one. I took an early retirement at 50 and live on a company pension, so I can give my full time to writing… and I do.
What other jobs have you had in life?
I worked in shipyards before going into the merchant Navy. When I came ashore, I worked in a quarry. Redundancy took me to Ford Motor Co. and that was when my life went through a change: I began studying. Working my way through the lower level stuff, I moved on to study for a bachelor’s degree in mathematics-and-computing and moved into the IT sector of the company.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I love living in England, but I’m sure I’d be as happy to settle anywhere else. I probably am, but I don’t care to believe I’m held down by roots.
How do you write laptop pen and paper in bed at a desk?
All of those things plus iPad and when out walking I might use a Dictaphone.
Where do you get support from do you have friends in the industry?
No, I receive all the support I need from my wife.
How much sleep do you need to be your best?
Probably eight hours, but I manage on about five.
Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge and thank for their support?
Yes, my wife Sue, she holds me up when I’m down and keeps me buoyant when I’m unsure. Other than that she does everything to look after me, having said that her cooking leaves something to be desired.
Every writer has their own idea about a successful career in writing, what does success in writing look like to you?
If every person who reads my book enjoys it then I’ve been successful.
Can you tell me about yourself: where you’re from, where you grew up, and what you have done with your life?
I grew up in the slum-lands of 50’s North East England and left school at 15 years of age without any form of qualification. From school I went to work in the local shipyards on the River Tyne. At 19, I went into the merchant navy, drifted, or bobbed, through life until it became pointless, gave it up in favor of working in a quarry in Essex. When I married, I realized my life was plodding along without horizons; it looked bleak. I started studying. After completing O and A levels, I began a degree course and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and computing. The qualification got me a job in the Ford Motor Co. IT dept where I became a project business analyst. I took an early retirement at 50 and that was when I began writing seriously.
How did the idea of the book come to you?
I have relations who lived in ‘The Pale’ (a barren place where the Jewish population was forced to live – think Fiddler on the Roof). They escaped the czarist pogroms in the late 19th century. Some came to England, others to the US and Canada.
Because of them, I looked into Jewish history in Russia and was shocked to learn of the suffering there. But it gave me an idea for a story. However, 19th century Russia didn’t fit. I trawled through Russian/Soviet history until I came to the post-war period. The setting was perfect for me, but I had to take away the protagonist’s Jewish religion. First, to fit in with his military ambitions and also to demonstrate that it isn’t only about religious belief – prejudice is prejudice.
What made you want to become an author?
Being an avid reader, I’ve always had an aggravating yearning to write something serious, I wanted to replicate, or do better, than what I was reading. Of course, when you start, you don’t do it right, but I’m the type of person that can’t leave a thing alone until I feel I have a handle on it. I’m not sure if I intended to write a full length novel, but the learning process became all consuming and here I am.
Is this the only book you’ve written? Do you have others planned?
Birth of an Assassin is a debut novel and is the first in a series. The second episode is complete, but needs a final sweep to smooth it. I’ve also written the third in the cycle, but that needs at least one more draft. The time period of the second book runs in parallel with Birth of an Assassin; this time the setting is in Turkey. As for the third novel, it pulls the previous two together to create a single unit.
What made you want to write about human trafficking, prostitution and organized corruption in Russia?
It was because of one of the episodes I’d learned about early in my research. A child was reported kidnapped, and later found murdered. The czarist state pointed the finger at the Jewish population. Why? To avert a growing hatred from ordinary workers against the fat cats who exploited them. And the state succeeded; pogroms began, culminating in1903at a place called Kishinev. Later, it came to light that the child’s family had been guilty of the murder, but by then the state had achieved its objective: diffusing the worker’s anger. I moved this story to a place in history that fit, the post-war period, but I needed an analogy for the child’s death. That my protagonist was framed for human trafficking and murder because of corruption within the state seemed the perfect conduit.
You enjoyed writing the book, but were there times you found it difficult or harrowing
Yes, of course. My research travelled from 1900 to 1960 and took in too much of the inhumanity practiced between human beings during that time. To feel it as you read it is distressing, whatever color, creed or religion of the people involved.
How important do you think education was for your writing and is it ever too late to learn
I studied the sciences, but it expanded my mind enough that I could embrace other disciplines, so I can’t emphasize how important education is. I think I’m a good example of how it’s never too late to learn, as I was in my early thirties before beginning my degree. I got a reasonable career out of it and now spend more hours writing than I ever did working in harness – and I love it.  What more can I say?
Is there any special reason you chose a Jewish protagonist
In the main because of the respect I have for my wife’s family.
Can you give any advice to aspiring writers?
Each time you fall, and you will, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. In other words keep on keeping on.
What books did you enjoy growing up with?
Huckleberry Finn, don’t ask why, but in my mind’s eye I always saw myself in his shoes and my best friend as Tom Sawyer; he was Tom because his family had more money than mine.
Who is your favorite author?
Too many to say, but I do get particularly absorbed reading John Connolly.

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.
Buy Now @ AmazonB&NKobo & Waterstones
Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Rik Stone on Facebook & Twitter

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Malpractice! The Novel by William Louis Harvey @sexandlawnovel #Excerpt #Legal #GoodReads

“Now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I will explain medical malpractice in layman’s terms. To begin, there are a number of forms of malpractice, medical and legal being the most common.

Basically, the plaintiff in a medical-malpractice suit is claiming that a medical practitioner damaged him or her by providing treatment that was wrong, inadequate, or delayed and was below a standard of care for that provider.

“Since there is no universally documented standard of care, the opposing attorneys will introduce medical experts to try to establish a standard of care for the defendant or defendants and whether or not the treatment fell below this standard. Finally, the attorneys will use the same or other experts to establish what damage was done to the plaintiff as a result of any treatments (or delay in treatment) that may have fallen below the standard of care.”

As she spoke, Judge Davies watched the jurors shrewdly, moving her gaze from one to the next. (p. 42)

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Steamy Courtroom Drama
Rating – R
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Quickie Author Chat with @RamzArtso #SciFi #YA #ComingofAge

Image of Ramzan Artsikaev

Have you started another book yet?
I have started another three books.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself writing, regardless of whether or not I achieve the readership I desire.

What are your current writing projects now?
My current writing projects are: A book about zombies with a teenage female protagonist, a book about vampires and sorcerers, also with a teenage girl protagonist, and a book entitled Antonia Bells, about dragonborns (magicians) and humanoid elves. The latter two are paranormal romance.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?
Unfortunately, I’m not reading anything right now, no.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?
Some of the best tools available for writers are online dictionaries, the thesaurus, Word and Google.


Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Young-adult, Action and Adventure, Coming of Age, Sci-fi
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author and the book
Connect with  Ramz Artso on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Quickie #Author Chat with J.L. Myers @BloodBoundJLM #Paranormal #Romance #YA

How much of the book is realistic?
I have tried to make the locations in the book as geographically correct as possible, using actual suburbs, towns, mountain ranges etc. and exacting time and travel to make the settings more real. That said all the locations in my book are fictitious, from St Volaras and the lookout, to the club in Anchorage and of course the Armaya. As for characters, I will admit there are aspects to Amelia’s personality that are lent from myself, though she’s much tougher than me. She more like my secret alter ego. The other characters developed from my own personal experiences, becoming who I needed them to be for Amelia and the story.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?
The plot is riddled with my life experiences and the lessons I have learned and am still learning. Past relationships—family, romantic and friend—lend richness to the themes in my book, though there’s no actual person who’s been recreated into a character.

How important do you think villains are in a story?
I think every story needs a compelling villain, not a cookie-cutter token bad-buy, but a flawed person who in their mind has a reason for the heinous acts he or she will commit. With that said, a story villain is not the only conflict your character(s) can have. Characters can want different things to each other, switch sides, cause turmoil when they think they’re helping, and even battle through personal obstacles.

What are your goals as a writer?
My goals as a writer is first to finished the Blood Bound Series and have all books available in eBook and print versions. I hope to create a fan base and connect with new and aspiring writers who want to self-publish. Beyond the series my goal is to write and publish my psychological thriller stand-alone, then continue with Paranormal and Urban Fantasy books with new and intriguing characters and story plots. I also plan to write an Adult Paranormal Romance series at some stage. Honestly, as long as people continue to enjoy reading what I’ve written I’ll keep writing and publishing.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I would love to travel in the future for my books, seeing new amazing places and cultures. Right now though I take from the travel I’ve already experienced…and capture glimpses of new places from the Internet and Google Earth. That said there’s nothing like seeing a country or culture in the flesh with your own eyes.

What Lies Inside
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Genre – YA Paranormal Romance
Rating – PG-13+
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Connect with  Jessica Myers on Facebook & Twitter

David Litwack Shares the Best Tools Available for Writers @davidlitwack #fantasy #writetip

Image of David Litwack

How much of the book is realistic?
Along the Watchtower is about a wounded veteran’s recovery from the trauma of war. About sixty percent takes place in and around the realistic setting of a VA hospital. But much of his recovery takes place in the fantasy, World-of-Warcraft-like dream world of his subconscious. Is that also realistic? I’ll let the reader decide.
Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?
People advise writers to write what you know. I think it’s more like write what you’ve felt. Along the Watchtower is about the recovery of an Iraq war veteran from a tragic family background who has been wounded in an IED attack. I was in the army, but I was never in a war nor was I wounded in combat. But I have lost family members, and struggled with recovery from serious injury. And, like Lt. Freddie Williams, I’ve played video games as an escape.
Fiction should be more intense than reality. But to make the characters come alive, the author needs to have a sense of what they’re going through. This can be accomplished through a combination of personal experiences and research.
How important do you think villains are in a story?
The protagonist needs to have some opposing person or force preventing him from reaching his goal. Otherwise, there’d be no struggle or conflict. But if there is a specific villain, they need to be three dimensional (not Snidely Whiplash). I was always taught that the villain should be the hero of his own story.
Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I somehow missed in my youth. It’s loosely plotted by today’s standards, but the characters are so compelling, I find myself constantly rooting for them.
What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?
There are dozens of good books on writing available today. One of the best is a book called Story by Robert McGee. I like it because he preaches that plot and character are inseparable. Others include Sol Stein’s On Writing and Stephen King’s book by the same name.
As far as online resources, I don’t know how you can write at a computer without having, and Wikipedia open all the time.
Do you have any advice for writers?
Justice Louis Brandeis once said: “There is no great writing, only great rewriting.” The process of producing a novel is a lot more about hard work than inspiration.
If you love it, keep writing and never give up. It won’t be easy, but it will be fulfilling. If you don’t love it, find something easier to do.
Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why?
I recently discovered Neil Gaiman. Though he’s not very new, he’s new to me. I think he’s one of the most original authors writing today. American Gods was brilliant.
Then there’s the wonderful debut novel by Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus, which I loved. It defied genre and was so beautifully written.
WINNER: Readers' Favorite Book 2013 Bronze Award Winner, Drama Category -Fiction
A Tragic Warrior Lost in Two Worlds...
The war in Iraq ended for Lieutenant Freddie Williams when an IED explosion left his mind and body shattered. Once he was a skilled gamer and expert in virtual warfare. Now he's a broken warrior, emerging from a medically induced coma to discover he's inhabiting two separate realities. The first is his waking world of pain, family trials, and remorse--and slow rehabilitation through the tender care of Becky, his physical therapist. The second is a dark fantasy realm of quests, demons, and magic that Freddie enters when he sleeps.
In his dreams he is Frederick, Prince of Stormwind, who must make sense of his horrific visions in order to save his embattled kingdom from the monstrous Horde. His only solace awaits him in the royal gardens, where the gentle words of the beautiful gardener, Rebecca, calm the storms in his soul. While in the conscious world, the severely wounded vet faces a strangely similar and equally perilous mission--a journey along a dark road haunted by demons of guilt and memory--and letting patient, loving Becky into his damaged and shuttered heart may be his only way back from Hell.
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Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy
Rating – PG
More details about the author
Connect with David Litwack on Facebook & Twitter

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

#Author Chat with P.T. Macias @pt_macias #Romance #BookClub

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?
I hope that the people enjoy the romance, action, and suspense in the story. I hope that they enjoy my writing style and voice.
What’s your favorite meal?
My favorite meal are flautas (Mexican roll up tacos stuffed with chicken. With shredded cabbage, sour cream and sala on top).
What color represents your personality the most?
The color red represents my personality.
What movie do you love to watch?
I love to watch Ghost, Fools Rush In, and Pretty Women.
How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?
I do participate in these social media because I feel it’s necessary. I think it helps.
If you could do any job in the world what would you do?
I would love to be an official retired person enjoying my family, traveling, and writing.
What are you most passionate about? What gets you fired up?
My children and grandchildren are my passion.
What makes you angry?
Mean and stupid people make me angry.
What’s your most embarrassing moment of your life?
lol, I can’t tell.
Are you a city slicker or a country lover?
I love both.
How do you think people perceive writers?
I feel that people love them and their talent. Some people tolerate them.
What’s your next project?
My next project is a Mexican Cook Book, finish my two series, and start the third series.
What’s the reason for your life? Have you figured out your reason for being here yet?
Yes, I’m here to write and for my family.
How do you feel about self-publishing?
I’m self-published and love the control.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Buy Now @ Amazon
Buy Now @ Amazon
Redfox, Razer 8 10-13-13
Buy Now @ Coming soon
Genre – Romantic Suspense
Rating – PG 13
More details about the author
Connect with P.T. Macias on Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Invisible Sorority by Ty Johnson-Anderson #Excerpt #AmReading #SexAbuse

I stand here for all survivors of sexual assault to make our struggle evident. I am starting a movement—the “I Am Not Invisible” movement. Why? Because it’s needed. Some estimates state that as many as one in four women will be raped or sexually assaulted sometime during their lives. That makes them members of our not-so-exclusive sorority.

We walk among society faceless, mainly because of our own shame. We fake our bright smiles-behind them are our lifeless eyes. We are lost in the crowd. But not for long. It’s our time-our time to step out of the shadows, and finally make the world take notice of this horrid epidemic.

I too am a survivor. Notice I didn’t say “victim.” I was violated by a boyfriend, although initially I didn’t categorize what had happened to me that way. More on that later.
As in all healthy relationships, we had sex-lots of consensual, teenage, lust-filled sex. But we also had a lot of non-consensual sex. While we were living together, I would often wake up to him having sex with me.

In my heart of hearts, I knew this FELT wrong. But I had never been in any other sexual relationship, so I had no reference- no handbook to tell me what was healthy. As with many parents, my mother never shared her sexual exploits with me or talk to me about my role in a sexual relationship, albeit not her fault, but a societal fault. So, being a naïve teenager, I thought maybe this was normal, this is what girlfriends do.

My thoughts as it was happening were; if you had sex with a person once, you had to continue to give it to them, right? I mean, we were in a relationship. So I shut up and I took it. For a year, I took it! In that year, I lost count of how many times I “engaged” in nonconsensual sex-nights with him rolling off me and me rolling over and crying myself to sleep.

Like many survivors, I suffered in silence. I was jaded . . . conflicted. On one hand, I had a boyfriend who took me out, opened doors, showered me with the kind of affection you’d expect from a lover. On the other hand, I had a secret, a deep, dark secret.

It couldn’t be rape. That’s what I kept thinking. In fact, at that time, I wore a smile every day. The only time I cried was when he was on top of me. But . . . it couldn’t be rape. I didn’t say “no.” You have to do that, right? I didn’t fight him off. You should do that too, right? I thought these things were the truth.

As children we are taught by our parents and the media that rape is something that a stranger does to you in a dark alley. I kept a wary eye out for “those” guys, but my antenna was not tuned to the rapist in my bed. My guy, who by day was a dream, became “that guy,” at night. He wasn’t violent, maybe because I didn’t resist his advances or fight back. So again, it couldn’t be rape, could it?

Let me tell you that any sex that is engaged in without consent is rape. Your lack of fighting back is not giving your consent. Your failure to scream, “No, please don’t do this!” is not giving your consent.

I must have a guardian angel because although they weren’t the best people for me to be in a relationship with, they weren’t pure evil either.

I still have trust issues. I still have intimacy issues. I still have communication issues. My journey is still not over. And I’m sure your journey, whether you’re at the beginning or in the midst of it, is ongoing.


Ty Johnson-Anderson is the creator of The Invisible Sorority, a community of intimate partner sexual assault victims ushering one another into healing and thriving post-assault. Ty launched the movement, I Am Not Invisible, in an effort to humanize the victimless statistics. Once a young adult spiraling out of control, she has managed to emotionally liberate herself from her dark past and move forward to manifest her future. She lives in Edgewood, Maryland with her wonderful husband and beautiful little girl. Visit her at

The Invisible Sorority will show you:

Why forgiveness can be your best healing tool

Several techniques you can use to heal your heart through mastering your mind via hypnosis and guided meditations

How to increase your ability to manifest your ideal future

How to embrace your tears to strenthen your emotional stability

Improve your sex life using several intimacy exercises designed to show you to live in the NOW

The invisible sorority is like a phone conversation with your best friend. It will inspire you to make positive changes in your life while helping you to ease the pain of your past assault.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Non-Fiction, Self Help-Abuse
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Ty Johnson-Anderson on Facebook & Twitter

Caroline Kennedy & What Makes Her Happiest @StephenWardBook #scandal #politics #amreading

I have to confess – I currently write with a laptop where it is supposed to be, i.e. on my lap. I find this is the least stressful way for me to write. Sitting on a sofa is how I can both relax and concentrate at the same time. I have written at a desk before but at the moment I don’t have one large enough to accommodate my laptop, my printer and all my research papers. So I find if I spread all my papers around me on the sofa and on the coffee table in front of me, I can see everything and pick out what I need with ease rather than shuffling a large pile of papers stacked up on a desk.
The origin of the book was way back in 1984 when I was commissioned to research a film about the “Profumo Affair”. After 12 months researching the story I realized I had far too much new material for simply a film. I knew I had the makings of an important book. And I knew I had a story, a very different story from the accepted story of the day. Retired police officers who had worked on the Stephen Ward investigation spoke to me for the first time. So did most of Ward’s surviving friends who had retreated into complete silence following the trial. Retired MI5 and FBI officers also agreed to talk to me, something they had never done before to anyone. From these more than 80 interviews I came to the conclusion that Stephen Ward had been framed - by the government of the day, the police force, the security service and the judiciary. The book that came out of this research was published 25 years ago under the title, “An Affair of State” and it became a number one best seller. This book, “How the English Establishment Framed Stephen Ward” is an updated version of that book, using material that my co-author and I obtained since the original publication in 1987.
Being a born traveller I would probably never be happy in just one place. My choice of places to live would be a combination of Newfoundland, Costa Rica, the Philippines, the UK and Los Angeles. These are the places I love the best. I consider myself fortunate as currently I travel between three of them – Newfoundland, LA and Costa Rica. I have a house on the ocean in Newfoundland (my writing bolthole), a condo in LA (where I spend precious time with one of my daughters and my two grandchildren) and a stunning piece of property with an impressive waterfall in Costa Rica. I am still not entirely sure where I really belong. Maybe one day I will find out.
“Success in writing” to many people looks like J.K. Rowling, without doubt. But that is only if we consider commercial success as being the main factor. However, I believe that critical success and a strong sense of personal achievement are equally valid as pointers of success. Someone who has written a book despite facing huge obstacles – disability, tragedy or threat, to name just three – would represent a far more significant success to me than someone who has authored a commercially successful book.
The book is non-fiction. So I was interviewing real people - potentially hostile, suspicious or fearful people. This is because the majority of the major people I interviewed had refused to speak to any other writer or journalist in the 25 years following the Profumo Scandal and the trial of Stephen Ward. So how did I get them to talk? How did I get them to trust me? How did I get them to feel relaxed enough not only to talk to me but to view me as their friend and ally? I approached them very respectfully. I did not push them. I did not rush them. I did not harass them. I gave them time to consider my request. I talked to them very gently. I came to their homes, always on time, bearing gifts – a cake, some flowers, a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, a packet of expensive coffee, depending on their tastes. Many of those I interviewed remain friends, even today. So the lesson I learnt was to be gentle, considerate, respectful and always grateful.
This piece was written while I was working with refugees with disabilities in the camps of Southern Azerbaijan. I am currently putting all my many articles together in a memoir:
by Caroline Kennedy
Through the heat haze reflecting off the carriage roofs, through the belching smoke from the nearby asphalt factory, through the dustclouds whipped up by the unrelenting winds, you can catch a fleeting sight of them. Like phantoms, blurred, pallid, vague silhouettes, now here, now there, wafting in and out from behind the ancient railway wagons. Nimble, agile, fleet of foot. One moment in sight, a wisp of smoke, a puff of soot, then gone. Unreachable. Untouchable.
But when the air clears, there they are again. Or are they ? Is it my imagination? Are they an illusion, a mirage ? Could the dwindling light, the shadows, the dustclouds be playing games with the wind, perhaps ?
But here they are, approaching me, seemingly hordes of them, though, in reality, probably far fewer. Closer now they come, grubby, barefooted
figures of young children, bare, fleshless arms outstretched towards me. Clothes ragged, hair matted, limbs encrusted by soot. But it’s their eyes that catch my attention. Not the normal eyes of children. These eyes are unresponsive, dulled by hunger, by lack of motivation, by boredom. They are lustreless, unflickering eyes of children, old beyond their years, some born, some growing up, all living on the railway lines of Saatli.
Home to these children are abandoned railway wagons, no more than corroded metal junk heaps, destined decades ago for the scrap merchant’s yard.  Windowless, airless, dank. No ventilation, no light,
not even the winds penetrate these dark hovels. Life inside these improvised dwellings is lived in perpetual darkness. Stifling in summer when the brutal rays of the sun blister everything in their grip. Freezing in winter when the ill-fitting sliding doors offer no protection against the bitter, howling gales and the persistent snowstorms.
The only shade now - not trees, for there are none here - but the back-breaking space beneath the wagons. Here the weak ones sit, day after day, singly and in groups, hunched up, cramped, listless, pitiful. The lack of animation evident in their dispirited expressions, their vacant
stares and their inability to  brush away the invading army of flies which voraciously seek out their eyes, their mouths and any available open sore on their bent and feeble bodies.
Under a white shroud, like a mummified corpse, lies a woman the impoverished medical system in this country has either forgotten, neglected or, deliberately, ignored. Mind confused, right side paralysed by a minor stroke, she lies, day after day, mumbling words only she can understand.  A despairing old man, her husband, puts his ear to the faintly moving lips beneath the veil covering her face, vainly trying to interpret their meaning. He shakes his head, desolate, for he can do nothing for her but watch over her and caress her shrivelled, veined hand. A small disabled boy lies next to her, dribbling, moaning, wretched, his unfocussed eyes infested by the myriad flies.
I watch this scene, moved and saddened, yet somehow transfixed. Reluctant to intrude but, nevertheless, wanting to be a part of it. I move closer. At the same time, voyeur and participant, observer and player, detached yet intimately involved.
And, as I squat down beside them a cast of characters crawl in and out from under this wagon. A heavily pregnant mother, panting furiously, brow sweating, her swelling draped in purple nylon, heaves her weighty body under the train and settles herself gratefully in the shade. An old woman, doubled up by age and defeated by years of arthritis, drags her distorted limbs painfully under the carriage, sinking, with a sigh, onto the temporary coolness of the metal track. A young man, a soldier from the war with Armenia, his left leg blown off by a recent encounter with a landmine, discards his ancient crutches, stumbles forward, then flops inelegantly down onto the ground beside her. Turkeys, geese, hens, ducks, cats and dogs, ever willing to fill their empty, worm-infested bellies, scratch for crumbs of food among the feet of this motley cast.
The children have joined me now. In swarms they come, hurtling up the track, pursuing me with chants of “Arnu Swarznegger,  Bruze Lee, Junclode Vundam!” Simulating karate chops, high kicks and beefcake muscles, they have suddenly come alive. For one brief moment, no different from children anywhere. For foreigners are few here and so arouse immediate curiosity. Those that do come rarely stay. Few have time to sit for a while, to chatter, to play and, above all, to listen. They come with nothing and they leave with nothing, for the railway wagons are inhospitable, uninviting and offer little in the way of comfort to the visitor.
The children, their dead eyes sparkling now, jostle around me, pushing, shoving, touching, eager to get a closer look. One or two grasp my hands, help me to my feet, lead me on. Others, naturally shy, hold back, quietly observing me from a distance.
I spend some time here, with my new friends. But can I really call them my “friends” when I know, in no time at all, I shall be leaving them ? I shall go home and, in all probability, I will forget them. And yet, I know there is this feeling, they will continue to haunt me, these railway children of Saatli, these images of despair, so young, so vulnerable, so needy.
It is evening now. Dusk’s shadows, distorted and kicked in all directions by the unpredictable winds, throw dancing patterns over the broiling, dusty ground, flickering images, like a monochromatic kaleidoscope. The sun, falling in the west, vast, shimmering and aflame, paints the sky cinnamon. Plumes of cinder smoke, gusting from the factory chimney stack, release a delicate network of fluffy ashen threads across its sinking path.
I watch in silence, holding a child’s hand, as the gently fading rays turn to a soft, golden apricot before finally being swallowed up by the welcoming earth. I squeeze that little hand in mine. I must go home now. Night comes swiftly here in Saatli. But no matter how dark it becomes, no matter where I am, wherever I go I will still see those children’s eyes, not normal children’s eyes. Eyes of children, old beyond their years.
Caroline Kennedy is the In-Country Co-ordinator of Leonard Cheshire International in Azerbaijan, working with refugees with disabilities.
I love reading fiction but I definitely prefer writing non-fiction. I think this is because I have always been fascinated by people’s personal stories. Sometimes these stories can truly be stranger than fiction. I believe there is something unique in everyone’s life. And that everyone’s life is worth documenting. It’s incredible to me how often I have heard someone say, “Oh, your life sounds so extraordinary. Mine is very boring and mundane in comparison.” And yet, if I talk to that person long enough I can always find something special and unique that is worth writing down. This, for me, is the thrill of writing non-fiction.
Yes, indeed, I have had writer’s block. Sometimes it can last not just weeks but months. I used to stress about it a lot and try to force myself to write when clearly nothing was going to emerge on the page. I have since learnt the best way to deal with writer’s block is to ignore it, find something else creative to do – in my case making elaborate belts, necklaces and bags - anything just to keep my fingers busy and my mind off the fact that I have temporarily lost the ability or the desire to write. This usually works for me. And, at least, when I finally the words do start flowing again, I have produced something in the interim that is creative and that I can sell or give away as presents.
I love to travel. I love to meet new people, see new places, taste new food and learn about different cultures, religions and customs. Living and working with refugees with disabilities and with indigenous communities gives me so much pleasure. Listening to their stories, learning about their lives and seeing for myself how content they are with what we, in the West, would consider so little. So many of us forget today that simple living can often be the most satisfying life to lead. I would love one day to show my grandchildren how to live simply and how much pleasure there is in scaling down one’s life to the minimum.
Currently my favourite author is Rohan Mistry whose towering novels about India are so vivid, so descriptive and so visual that I can totally immerse myself and believe I am there experiencing everything he is writing about. I end up knowing the characters so well and empathizing with them. I feel their pain, their anguish, their sorrow, their joys and their afflictions. There is so much going on in his books, like a vast kaleidoscope of sounds, smells, colours, life and death. I would love to write such epic novels – fiction, so true in every minute detail, that it seems like non-fiction.
Since I write mostly non-fiction I get my inspiration from life in its many shapes and forms. I observe people. I listen to conversations. I like to blend into the background so people don’t notice me. That way I can be like a video camera, overhearing, watching, recording mental notes in my head and then scribbling them down later. Not, of course, in any sinister way but simply as a fascinated observer. I love the process. I learn so much from watching and listening to others.

How The English Establishment Framed
"How the English Establishment Framed Stephen Ward" is a major expose of a government cover-up that has lasted half a century. It is a powerful story of sexual compulsion, political malice and ultimate betrayal. A number-one bestseller when it came out in 1987 under its original title, "An Affair of State", the book reveals never-before-heard testimony that has been uncovered by the authors in the years since the scandal broke. Using startling new evidence, including Ward’s own unpublished memoirs and hundreds of interviews with many who, conscience-stricken, have now spoken out for the first time, this important account rips through a half-century cover-up in order to show exactly why the government, the police forces, the Judiciary and the security forces decided to frame Stephen Ward. Stephen Ward is now the subject of an upcoming Andrew Lloyd-Weber musical and this book offers a wider perspective on its complex, central character as well as a broader insight into one of the greatest scandals of the past 100 years. As the authors’ research reveals, Ward’s “trial of the century” was caused by an unprecedented corruption of justice and political malice which resulted in an innocent man becoming a scapegoat for those who could not bear to lose power. This is an epic tale of sex, lies, and governmental abuse whose aftermath almost brought down the government and shook the American, British, and Soviet espionage worlds to their core. With its surprising revelations and meticulous research, Ward’s complete story can finally be told.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Politics, Espionage, Scandal
Rating – PG-16
More details about the author
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