The Crux of the Word — by Nera Hart


The power of words. Our pen- our sword.

What life to breathe into an empty space, and what love to feel through the magic of black symbols spread over the white sheets. Our power. The glorious, beautiful, infinite power of words…

Light in a darkened room and the air to breathe.

I’ve been in the dark. I’ve seen it in the eyes of The World; poverty, misery, illnesses amongst other things. We live right in the middle of all of this.

As a writer, I will use this darkness. I’ll exploit its’ ugliness to bring out my shine. I’ll explore its’ hollow emptiness to fill it with stories, but I’ll always believe in that magic, in that persistent human endeavour to make anything beautiful, to build from the ashes…

This is what I am tirelessly looking for when I write.

Whether I choose to write from a dark place, or…

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Homelessness Happens — by Christine Larsen


Homeless. What a desperately sad and empty word. Homeless. Hopeless. Sadly, I’m learning those two words are constant bedfellows. Never thought that’s the address I’d be filling in on those endless bloody welfare forms. Thought that was ‘owned’ by the crims and the druggies and other no-hopers. Didn’t give a thought to those who are left financially and mentally crippled by divorce and losing the family, the home and the job. Didn’t know how easy it was to lose the lot. Or how low that could bring a fellow.  Hmm… interesting words – ‘fell’ and ‘low’. Didn’t know just how low that was until I lost the respect of all I loved; how much I needed them; how ‘nothing’ I felt without them.

Would’ve thought one look at me would be proof enough. I try to keep up a semblance of cleanliness, decency and the like. But it’s damn difficult…

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One Million Project Fiction Anthology


The recent publication of the three-volume short story anthologies from the One Million Project was the culmination of over a year and a half of work and coordination of over one hundred writers, editors and publishing professionals. Each week, I will highlight each of the anthologies to give readers a taste of how fabulous these books are. PhotoFunia-1517878513(1)

This anthology contains a variety of fictional works, poetry and even a few non-fictional stories. Step back in time to 1746 with author Sheena Macleod’s Ghosts of Culloden a haunting tale of the last battle fought on Scottish soil. If you have ever considered your dog to be a member of the family, you will cry your heart out when you read Fluffy by Tyke Evenese. I love the poetry of James Cleveland Turner, a former CIA officer whose short story in rhymed verse is similar in style to the rhyming verses of Doctor…

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AuthorBitz.Com – A Meeting Place For Readers & Authors – Why I’m Excited

Timothy Bateson (ramblings of an author)

AuthorBitz.Com - A Meeting Place For Readers & Authors - Why I'm Excited

I know you’ve probably been hearing a lot about Author Bitz lately, especially if you follow my Facebook or Twitter feeds. But there’s some really great reasons for all the attention I’ve been giving it.

What’s All The Fuss About?

I leave the explanation of the plans for the site it’s creator, Lucinda Moebius.

Imagine a social media site designed for authors.

It will be a foundation for authors to showcase their work.

In addition, there will be a place for readers and author supporters.

How Can You Help?

Here’s how the setup costs break down…

First year budget:

Software license $500

Network Fees: $1000

Equipment costs: $500

All donations to the GoFundMe campaign go directly into covering the costs of setting up and developing the site.

Get A Lifetime Level 3 Membership

If you donate $20 (or more), BEFORE MARCH 15th, you get:

Level 3 Membership FOR LIFE

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Reign of the Marionettes Book Review. A Moment of Time by Jilaine Tarisa


A  thought-provoking debut novel by Jilaine Tarisa.

An inspiring work of literature, exploring the quest for meaning, purpose and fulfilment in life, told through the gripping story of one woman’s struggle to heal herself following a major accident.

Caitlin’s journey takes her beyond mere physical recovery, as the people she meets along the way offer a means to rebuild herself not just physically but spiritually and psychologically as well. Tarisa achieves this through a skilful weaving of the plot, as Caitlin starts to accept that her inner self is just as damaged as her outer body. After a period of denial and resistance, filled with anger and despair, Caitlin’s paradigm shift begins.

I read this book twice. The first time following Catlin’s personal journey and the second time wondering about my own life journey. This book tackles the ‘big issue’ of living and existing in a fast-paced world that rarely allows time for true reflection. Tarisa explores how the conflict raised when denying our own dreams and core values, in order to follow the dreams and expectations of others, can leave us feeling isolated, anxious, incomplete and consumed by other people’s problems.
Filled with engaging and fascinatingly flawed characters, A Moment of Time explores changing relationships and friendships as Caitlin starts to realise what and who is important to her.
Tarisa never loses the grip on the story, drawing readers in and enabling them to share Caitlin’s journey of recovery. The people Caitlin meets on her way each leave an impression on her and provide her with a new resource to help rebuild herself.
The journey Caitlin travels to find herself again addresses fundamental existential questions about the meaning, purpose and reason for living, prompting readers to question their own assumptions and core values. At times, particularly in relation to Kimo, a lot of theoretical detail is given but this does not detract from the overall experience, which impacted me on an emotional as well as intellectual level. As a result, Caitlin’s story remained with me long after I turned the final page.

An imaginative page-turner that has me waiting for the next instalment.

Amazon links:


Reign of The Marionettes Book Review – Porter’s Fortune by Wyborn Senna.

Genre– Suspense, mystery thriller

Porter's Fortune


An entertaining and well-told story.

I found it hard to put this book down. With a large cast of characters, the story moves back and forth between the east and west coasts of America. The plot focuses on the rivalry between two brothers, who share a number of dark secrets that they need to keep hidden.

I really enjoyed this book and became intrigued by the first brother, George Patrick Porter, or Porter as he is known throughout. Porter is bi-sexual and a complex character who has multiple problems, including bulimia and a tendency to sleepwalk his way into trouble.  The other brother, Sam, is more attractive, dominant, successful and self-centred than Porter.

The brothers have remained close and kept their secrets even closer. Sam is determined to keep it that way. So, when Porter is given a lead role in a new television production and moves to Los Angeles, Sam grows increasingly concerned and resentful and starts to unravel.

Full of twists and turns, Porter’s Fortune kept me guessing as events between the two brothers unfolded. Filled with interesting characters and a suspenseful and at times chilling story, I found myself eagerly turning the pages to find out what happens next.

About the Author

A recognized writer who works in the entertainment industry in Burbank, California, Wyborn Senna has a B.A. in journalism from St. Bonaventure University in New York and a Masters in Professional Writing degree from USC and has worked in the closed captioning industry since 1987, taking a break from that to live in San Luis Obispo from 1991-2000. Before choosing the pen name Wyborn Senna, the author published Barbie magazine articles, price guides, and ID guides, did radio interviews, and conducted vintage Barbie appraisals at the May Company’s debut for the Barbie Fossil Watch, publicized in the L.A. Times. Senna also had the privilege of selling the Virginia Stewart Barbie Collection on eBay for $77,500 in 1998, during which time Senna received several threatening emails “strongly” suggesting that the collection be broken up into affordable lots, thus providing sufficient inspiration for Bury Me With Barbie, which got the attention of Literary Agent Elizabeth Trupin-Pulli. Other books by Senna that are handled regarding reprint, TV and movie rights by Trupin-Pulli include Porter’s Fortune and The New Elvis.



Subzero Temps Bring A Harsh Reality to Homeless Plight at Sleep in the Park Event


Emma Short and Emma Park joined 9,000 other participants on December 9th for Sleep in the Park, the world’s largest ever sleep-out event.   Organized by Edinburgh Homelessness Charity, Social Bite, they slept in the sub-zero 25317224_10214322188265571_180551377_otemperatures under the stars in Edinburgh’s city centre with the aim of raising £4m to eradicate homelessness in Scotland.

Emma Short and Emma Park were excited to take part by sleeping out in the cold overnight along with the other participants to gain some insight into what type of conditions homeless people experience every day. They planned on taking two sleeping bags and two camping chairs.  Emma Short thought she and Emma Park would drink hundreds of cups of tea between them in the effort to keep warm.

Sheena Macleod, an author and One Million Project Administrator, interviewed Emma Short about the event and their experiences.  Emma’s story about the night follows:

“The event was…

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New Release: The Ghostwriter’s Legacy by Douglas Debelak.

It all began, as it should, with the words, “In the beginning…” and now the epic tale continues on through The Story of Creation.


The Ghostwriter’s Legacy, the third book in The Ghostwriter’s Series, continues an epic tale, which purports to be the autobiography of God, or, as He insists, not God, but the Creator of our universe, a universe which is only one of many. It continues the Creator’s journey through forever, finding Himself potentially immortal, but alone, reeling from the greatest loss, fighting to have the strength to honor the greatest of gifts, or is it the greatest of curses, giving truth to the words, oft repeated through the series, “Forever is a very long time.”

The Ghostwriter’s Series is a narrative fabric woven from a thousand questions, but, at its heart, it grew from the author, Douglas Debelak’s, effort to get his mind around a song which had resonated through his thoughts for over twenty years; since he heard Joan Osborne’s ‘One of us’ on his car radio.

“What if God was one of us?”

A flood of other questions followed:

“If we looked back 500 years, what would those people living then think of us? If we could look 500 years into the future, what would be our own perceptions?”

“If mankind doesn’t destroy themselves, what are the limits of where our species could ultimately evolve?”

“What if it became possible to live forever? What would it be like to live a thousand years, a million, a billion? But, forever is very long time. What would be the source of motivation or sense of accomplishment, when there was forever? Or would most give up somewhere along the line?

The Involuntary Ghostwriter, the first book in The Ghostwriter Series, begins with the words, “In the beginning… I was born.” It tells the tale of the Creator’s early life, which, as He tells us, was much like our own. It tells of his early childhood, through his adolescence, his struggles with sex and guilt, much like us, meeting and falling in love with a woman who he felt was out of his league, but became his wife.

Then came thoughts and questions from another direction. The writers of the holy books. Weren’t they ghostwriters for God? Was the choice their own, or were they compelled to write the words they did? What if a new holy book were to appear today? Who would write those words? And, would they be any more voluntary than those of the past. Enter the newest of the involuntary ghostwriters, Jonathon Fry.

Thanks to a financial boon, Jonathon seeks to fulfill a lifelong dream to write a novel, but what begins as a fictionalized memoir of his early life takes on a life of its own, as his thoughts are filled with memories that are not his own. He wakes from erotic dreams of a woman he has never met. Jonathon battles for ownership of his own thoughts, while marital problems bring he and his wife to the brink of divorce.

The Ghostwriter’s Wife, the second of the series, continues the Creator’s tale, with the pursuit of wealth and immortality. He creates a virtual world, Facebook on steroids, or LSD, purely with the intent of funding the research of his wife for people to live forever, or, if not that promise, at least to end the guarantee of old age and death. In addition to wealth, “Virtuality” also becomes the greatest tool for collaborative research and technological innovation in the history of His world

The Ghostwriter’s Wife also introduces Jonathon’s wife Annie Fry and her perspective on the past few years of their lives and the words her husband wrote, when she discovers his blog. Then she finds herself waking from erotic dreams of her own.

As with the first two books, The Ghostwriter’s Legacy introduces the hero of the next alternate narrative thread, Jonathon Fry’s great-grandson, Sammy; who was given a copy of his great-grandfather’s book The Word of God when he was six years old and refused to believe it was just fiction. He believed the words within were Magick.


About the author

Douglas Debelak began asking questions when he first learned to talk and has never stopped.

As a young man, his questions led to him to study theology, with the intent of becoming a Presbyterian minister. When his questions led him to doubt much of what he’d been taught and believed, he turned to philosophy, in which he has a degree from Youngstown State University.  Determining that he did not want a career in academia, writing was the next logical choice to continue asking questions.

He put his literary aspirations on hold when his family responsibilities required a job with an income. He taught himself to write software instead and has had a successful career as a software engineer. But, he always promised himself he’d return to his dream of writing a novel

Mr. Debelak now lives with his wife in a beautiful old house, in a wonderful historic neighborhood, where he loves sitting on the front porch with a bottle of wine, inciting parties and asking questions, especially his favorites, the ubiquitous “Why?”, and, of course, “What if…?”

The Involuntary Ghostwriter, his debut novel, was published in December 2016 by Dark Ink Press. The Ghostwriter’s Wife, the second book in the Ghostwriter Series, came in May of 2017. The Ghostwriter’s Legacy is the third book in the series.




New Book Release – Soul Tracing: Taboo! by Ifraah Samatar and Irsha Akbar

A dark romance filled with twists, turns, and tears



SOUL TRACING: Taboo is a fictional adult novel set in present-day East London. It is definitely not a book for the faint hearted or romcom devotees with a penchant for a fairy-tale love story. It is a controversial book filled with a plethora of underlying cultural and social issues, as well as religious taboos that affect many men and women around the world. From uncomfortable dark secrets inside the Catholic Church to misuse of Shariah law in the Pakistani culture, this story will absolutely tug at your heart strings and make you question the ideals and values of society.

The story starts with the POV of Dean Thynne-Edwards Walker. An angry young man with a hatred for religion due to his past; he was abandoned at a Catholic orphanage as an infant and has seen unspeakable abuse whilst growing up. Consequently, Dean blames the church for the horrors of his childhood.

His path crosses with Yasmin Khan, a devout Muslim from a strict Pakistani family and a polar opposite to Dean in faith but another individual who, like him, is lost and battling loneliness within her life. Yasmin’s character is one that will make you wonder who the woman behind the veil really is. She demonstrates how depression can clash with culture, and how being torn between two cultures can affect people who have parents from different countries.

Soul Tracing brings a light to the dark side of forbidden love and racism. It shows how women need to have the right to take ownership of their body, their sexuality, and their identity in a relatable and engaging way that encompasses themes of both romance and faith. We also incorporate other topics such as depression, loneliness, and cultural oppression. All of these are vital components of what make this book such a great read.

Soul Tracing is a story that needs to be told, and even if certain communities don’t want to hear it, it brings awareness to topics that won’t go away. The great thing about the story is that it doesn’t pull any punches. It is in your face with its views and thoughts, and it leaves you with no choice but to listen and come up with your own conclusion. Soul Tracing is more than a Muslim girl falling in love with a non-Muslim man; it is a voice for so many people of different ethnicities, and it brings us together with topics that affect everyone, beyond the barriers of skin colour and religion.

We highly recommend you have lots of tissues at the ready before you dive in! You are going to need them on the rollercoaster that is Dean and Yasmin’s story.

This book is a powerful campaign statement that we are extremely proud of.

We want all the Yasmins of the world to know that they are not alone and that they do have a voice. We hope that our book will encourage these young women to seek help and have the courage to escape their situation before it is too late.


Q & A with the authors. 

Tell us a little about yourself.

We are Irsha Akbar and Ifraah Samatar. High school sweethearts (even though Irsha claims to have a fiancé). We hail from London. Irsha is a chocoholic (despite her skin saying it doesn’t agree), and Ifraah is in a committed, long-term relationship with pizza. We are joyful and cheesy humans who love world peace. Irsha is of Pakistani descent and has seen firsthand some of the injustices women face when false Islamic teachings are mixed with cultural obligations. Ifraah is a community activist, campaigner, and a teacher of tiny, epic humans.

What else can we tell you? Game of Thrones is our religion after Islam, and Harry Potter is our bible. J.K Rowling is our Lord and saviour. Music is our drug, Spotify is our dealer. #Nuffsaid

Who are our primary readers?

Our primary target reader is an average, open-minded adult human who is able to comprehend all the dark material in our story and come out alive.

How long did it take you to finish the book?

We’ve been telling the world it took us just over two years to write Soul Tracing, but three days ago, Facebook sent us a throwback in which we were talking about the early stages of the book in 2014! This is book one of a seven part series, so to all of our readers, expect book two in 2030!

How did you come up with the title? 

Yasmin explains this beautifully in a court scene, but the title was the easy part. Soul Tracing refers to the art of looking beyond your initial judgement of someone’s character and identity based on their exterior. We see a person walking down the street covered in tattoos and piercings, and we assume we know what kind of person they are. We see a girl with large breasts, a short dress, and dyed hair, and we make an assumption that she must be a slag or tart. You see a man dressed sharply in a suit and assume he is clever and wealthy, but he could be a rapist on his way to court. You see a Muslim woman with a dark material covering her face and with her body hidden under mountain of layers…You make an assumption. But if we trace the image deeper and further beyond what we assume, and look closely at the soul behind the exterior by taking the time to get to know others on a human level, we learn a great deal more about their struggles and stories and connect with them based on truth, not assumption.

The taboo in the title refers to topics our human society will never talk openly about, such as the Muslim community when it comes to sex education and female sexuality. The darkness of the Catholic Church will also remain frowned upon and discussed only behind closed doors. But now that politicians and presidents are also being exposed, who is really the predator?

Which woman is oppressed? The obedient one being told to cover every inch of her body, or the one being told that true beauty is revealing her perfect, pouty lips, having the perfect breast lift, and paying huge amounts of money for perfect hair? She’s chasing perfection, but she is also being cat called and ridiculed by the very same society that told her she was free.
What was the hardest part of writing the book? 

The hardest part about writing a book like Soul Tracing is the emotion of it all. We went to a dark place when writing about Dean’s past, and it broke us. Just as we started to heal, we wrote about Yasmin’s present, and the pain started all over again. Then we wrote about the double standards of sex, and we got so deep into our feminist warzone we actually screamed about how unfair life is.

Why did you choose the cover? 

The cover of our book is beyond perfect. It was a collaborative effort by our wonderful designer, Robin, and us. The model hidden by the veil represents two women. Yasmin, the Muslim veiled character, and a symbol of all the other female characters that are also hidden in darkness, sometimes not by choice.

Did you do research? 

The research stages where painful but insightful. Finding out the statistics for the number of girls who are killed in the name of saving the family honour was disturbing. The high level of abuse cases in orphanages was gut wrenching, as was speaking to the real-life survivors and victims of the themes in our book. It was emotional but pivotal in achieving a powerful story.

What was the editing process like? 

In one word? Hell. We re-read and proofread everything a thousand times, but nothing was ever right. We understood the meaning of ‘it takes a village’. Two of us wrote this book, but it was only when our beta readers and our incredible editor joined us that things started to make sense. Our editor, Cat, was able to take the most rambling parts of the book and turn them into something readable! We have this inside joke about ‘ten minutes’, which explains just how insane our proof reading was… something that was supposed to take ten minutes to double check actually took us several hours. So yeah, the editing stage sucks, but not so much when you have a fairy editing mother who can bibbity bob your errors away.

Did you learn anything while writing it? 

Throughout our journey of writing this novel, we have gained a deeper insight into the horrors of honour killings in Islam and abuse within the Catholic Church. We feel obligated to share this story, as we believe it will resonate with people of all faiths who may be going through the same issues as our protagonists, Yasmin and Dean.

Did you face any setbacks or hurdles throughout the process of writing and after? 

It’s not really much of a hurdle, but we learnt that a large portion of the Muslim community is afraid of sex. We built a lot of hype around the launch of the book, and so many people where excited for its publication. What we didn’t expect was people assuming we had written a ‘Muslim book’, and assumptions were made by members of our community that thought, because we are Muslim, our book would be ‘halal’. So the idea that two girls who dress and look like us went on to write a book that opens with an explicit love scene was too much for a lot of people to handle.

What message do you want to say to readers?

The biggest message we want to share with our readers is… We hope you love Dean and Yasmin as much as we do. We hope you see real humans behind the descriptions of these fictional characters. We hope Dean encourages you to look from another angle at people who seem ‘angry’ and ‘cold’. You never know the pain that person is hiding.

Next time you see a Yasmin on the street or in the stores, we hope you look beyond the burkha or the face veil. That woman could be in a dark, lonely place, and if you reach out, you might just be the saviour that pulls her out before it’s too late.

Where can readers get a copy?

On Amazon, we have three versions available:

CLEAN version with toned down love scenes for our conservative readers:

The glorious full explicit version for the brave reader:

and the paperback which contains glossary of terms that translates some of the languages spoken in the book.


How do readers reach you? 

We are on social media! Facebook: irshiffywritings17 Twitter: @Irshaandifraah

Or old fashioned email:

Alternative-Read : The Official Writing Warriors United Books and Tours Blog!

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Timothy Bateson (ramblings of an author)

Thoughts and experiences of a writer!


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