ROSIE’S BOOK REVIEW TEAM #RBRT

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My review of  We Go Again by Michael Cargill

 My rating 3 out 0f 5 stars 

We Go Again

This novel is set in an era, the nineteen forties, that I love to read about. So why didn’t it quite hit the mark for me?

I have mixed feelings about this book and I’m not sure why. It’s obvious the author has done his research and the history of the Second World War is woven well throughout the plot. The story has a promising start; the characters are instantly developed in the first pages and the dialogue, on the whole, is believable. And there are some good ‘flat characters’; those who add to the backdrop, the locale, by their presence. The trouble for me was that I couldn’t decide who the protagonist was. Told from an omniscient narrator’s point of view the reader has access to all the internal thoughts of some of the characters – which is good – but the narrative switches so quickly from one to another that there isn’t time to empathise with any of them.A shame, because they all have such interesting potential.

Another problem, I think, is with the flashbacks. Although well written, there is no change in tense, no spacing; the reader is taken without warning to another time, another place. Although this does add to the back story of the characters, sometimes the flashbacks are so long it’s difficult to pick up the main story again. I found myself flicking back and forth in the narrative to remind myself where the soldiers were and what was taking place. Which was a shame because each section; the main story and the flashbacks are well written with gripping action scenes and descriptions that gave an immediate sense of place whether it is on the beaches of Dunkirk, inside a Lancaster Bomber, living in  the almost deserted village, whose inhabitants determinedly try to carry on with as normal a life as they can, the cold neglected building the soldiers take over or their contacts with the enemy

So why the doubts about We Go Again? I suppose it was that I never quite got lost in the story; I felt I was watching the action, rather that being there with the characters. I’m not sure that makes sense but I like to be absorbed by what I’m reading – to get that sense of ‘coming up for air’ from the fictional world.

 After I wrote this review I looked for the book on Amazon and Goodreads. It has one excellent five star review on Amazon, and more on Goodreads, which goes to show that people can only read a book from their own subjective point of view. So I would just recommend that you give this book a try for yourself.

I will certainly give the other books that Michael Cargill has written a go.

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Interview with Indie Author Tony Riches

Today I’m talking to Tony Riches, author of best-selling historical fiction novels and book blogger, who lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, Wales UK.

 

Tony Riches 2014

Looking at your blog The Writing Desk, I noticed it’s centred towards new writers with insightful and relevant information to help them succeed. What inspired you to do this, to help other authors out with their writing?

One of the great things about the writing community is the enthusiasm for sharing ideas and useful tips. I really appreciated this when I started out as a writer – and it is really rewarding when new writers tell me I have encouraged them.

You get about 12,000 visitors a month to your writing blog. That is a major accomplishment. What do you think you did that launched that? And do you have any tips for other writers out to help them gain numbers in visitors like you do?

There are several things you can do to build visitor numbers. Write uniquely informative posts that have a timeless quality, as these will have the most repeat visits, even years after they are published. Particularly successful examples are my series on the writing habits of famous authors and my visits to their houses. It really helps if you ask your favourite authors to guest post with something readers won’t find anywhere else. One of my most popular recent posts was by historical fiction author Anne O’Brien about how she writes. Finally you need to make it easy to share your posts widely—mine are all shared with over 15,500 followers on twitter (@tonyriches) as well as over 1,430 friends on Goodreads and 2,000 readers on Google+ and automatically shared on Goodreads via RSS.

I noticed a book of yours called The Secret Dairy of Eleanor Cobham. Can you tell us readers briefly what your book is about and where readers might find your book?

 

Beautiful woman in medieval dress on the armchair

My wife was researching her family tree and discovered that Lady Eleanor Cobham was her 20th great-grandmother—and had been imprisoned for witchcraft and treason. Intrigued, I found that Eleanor was the Duchess of Gloucester and hoped to become Queen of England before her interest in astrology leads her enemies to accuse her of a plot against the king. Found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft, King Henry VI orders Eleanor to be imprisoned for life. I visited Beaumaris Castle where she was held on Anglesey in North Wales and imagined what she would have written if she had kept a diary—The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham. My novel is historical fiction but carefully researched and the only full account of Eleanor Cobham’s life. It is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon UK, Amazon US and Barnes & Noble as well as Smashwords. There is a short video trailer on YouTube.

What would you say is your inspiration for writing?

Like many authors, I started writing for magazines and journals, then wrote a number of non-fiction books, including a best-selling book on project management. Since then I have been fortunate to have had some success—although it is feedback from readers that keeps me inspired. Last month a reviewer said about The Secret Diary that, “It’s been years since a book made me cry. The story of Eleanor Cobham is a powerful story that will stay with me for ages.”

What would you say helps you write the way you do?

I am lucky in that I can write full time and am free to travel when and where I want to do the research for my books. I also have the time to read a great deal, and I try to publish book reviews on my writing blog and Goodreads at least once a month. My wife is very supportive and kindly reads every draft before it even goes to my editor.

Can you tell us about some of the other books and novels that you have written? How many novels have you written up to date? And do you have any series?

I have written four novels and five non-fiction books, details of which are on my WordPress site. My first historical fiction novel, Queen Sacrifice, came from the idea of bringing a real chess game to life, with the whole of Wales as the ‘chessboard’ and thirty-two characters, kings and queens, bishops, knights and pawns, each with an interesting back-story. My only contemporary novel, The Shell, was inspired by a dangerously close encounter when on holiday in Kenya. Since then I have become fascinated by the fifteenth century and wrote Warwick: The Man Behind The Wars of the Roses, which is still the only novel about the life of Sir Richard Neville, also known of as the ‘kingmaker’.

What would you say to writers who are trying to make a name for themselves? What advice can you give?

I read once that it usually takes at least three novels before a writer ‘learns the craft’. I think I understand that now, as it does seem a little easier each time. It is worth investing a little time in building your readership, which you can do through your own writing blog and appropriate use of social media. I have a little ebook How to Build Your Online Author Platform: 100 Practical Tips which new authors should find useful.

 

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Also remember that most authors are rejected before they become famous—take a look at this Telegraph article.  Finally, remember that a page a day is a book a year, so keep writing!

I’d like to thank Tony for this interesting and informative interview and for all the very useful tips for all writers.