Monday, December 17, 2012

JD’s Review of ‘Hot Flash’ by Eden Baylee

‘Desire’ is a six-letter word, not a four-letter word.

When deployed as a noun it is a feeling, not an act. Furthermore, desire is multi-faceted; it touches many dimensions of the human experience. And the feeling concerned is not always sexual.

Eden Baylee knows this well. Although in this collection of flash fiction and short poems her writing usually deals with the erotic and occasionally comic aspects of sexuality, there is a feeling of deeper longing that insinuates itself in the words.

As an author of ‘erotic’ writings, Ms Baylee’s work occupies a particular niche in a genre which is not overly-endowed (pardon the pun) with literary aspirations. Her writing is different. It has an elegance and simplicity of expression, and a little of Ana├»s Nin’s style about it. If you’re looking for something with anatomical details and sweaty descriptions of making the beast with two backs, you’ve come to the wrong place.

For sure, there is a susurrus of doffed undergarments, noisy climaxes and the odd expletive, but that is not really what these fragments are about. They are about the heartbeat of emotion: some have a pang of loss, some the thrill of the unexpected encounter. But what the pieces all share to a degree is the experience of being a creature whose wits are permanently immersed in a bath of chemical illogicality.

It is impossible to do a specific review of the contents of flash fiction pieces without straying into spoiler territory, so I will here merely record that I most enjoyed ‘Doing it With the King’ and ‘A Second Chance with Death’; and while I found Ms Baylee’s short-line style in her poems gelled exceedingly well with their subject matter, for me the addition of rhyme in ‘Love Bites’ was a stretch too far.

This is the first time I have explored Eden Baylee’s writing, and I look forward to reading her novella-collections ‘Spring into Summer’ and ‘Fall into Winter’. Moreover I will be interested to see how her compact, polished style adapts to the format of the full length novel when her (as-yet-untitled) book hits the shelves in 2013.

'Hot Flash' is available at and

You can learn more about Eden Baylee by visiting her website or by following her on Twitter @edenbaylee

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Galericulate Get A Head Awards 2012

As 2012 drags its sorry ginger ass towards a messy and well-deserved extinction, it's time to reflect on those pieces of penmanship that caught our eye this year.

This year, with the world economy continuing to show Titanic-like tendencies, we will not be holding the awards at the Albert Hall with free champagne, caviar and sports-car giveaways. Instead, we will be hosting our own little celebration on these homely virtual pages.

Monetary considerations aside, we couldn't let the year go by without recognising some of the best in independent writing. So without more ado, here are our awards for 2012 under our own unique categories.


Galericulate Awards 2012

"The Beginning (Whispering Pines Series Book 1)" by Charles Wells

"Mama's Madness" by Billy Ray Chitwood

"A Life Unpredicted and Other Stories" by Joanne Phillips

"And the Stars Will Sing" by Michelle Browne

"The Nightlife: New York (Book 1 of the Nightlife Series)" by Travis Luedke

"Hot Flash" by Eden Baylee

"The Kommandant's Mistress"  and "Love in the Time of Dinosaurs" by Alexandra Constantinova Szeman

Seumas Gallacher's Blog

"Messages from Henry" by Rebecca Scarberry

"Falcon Point" by Diane Strong

The above links are to (other than Seumas' obviously - that link is to Planet Nutcase) but these books are also available on all other Amazon sites.

Visit their Amazon author pages and connect with them on Twitter. Feel free to Post a Comment below if you need any further information or links. I do this sort of stuff for free. Amazing, isn't it?

Blog Scratchers Corner

Check the hashtag #TBSU on Twitter and grab yourself a handful of fine bloggers.

Friday, December 14, 2012

JD's Review of 'And the Stars Will Sing' by Michelle Browne

I don’t read much science fiction these days. I find a lot of the books in the genre too derivative, sitting on the shoulders of the great science fiction writers of yore. I particularly get frustrated with the lack of attention to basic psychology, and hence to my mind a lot of character motivations and actions have no credibility or depth to them.

Sci-fi novels written in the first person have an additional challenge inasmuch as the technologies and worlds described by the narrator would be familiar to them while being unfamiliar to us. This presents the writer with a technical difficulty of conveying to the reader what is different to them without undermining the narrator’s credibility. Imagine the situation of a current-day narrator describing a journey by train. Exactly HOW fascinated would that person be with how the carriage was laid out or the technology of railway tracks? The answer is not very, particularly if they’d already travelled by train hundreds of times before.

I am pleased to say that Michelle Browne handles these structural issues with apparent ease while engaging her readers in a compelling narrative along the way. The descriptions of the future are handled almost as asides (which is as it should be) without getting in the way of the story.

Ms Browne’s narrator, Crystal Weiss – a copper-haired Martian - is a delightfully snarky creation. “Glass” as she is known to her workmates is difficult, argumentative and with an offbeat sense of humour. By way of a diary, Weiss records her experiences as a mapper on a deep space project to create a wormhole for interstellar travel.

Without getting into spoiler territory, I will say there is plenty going on to engage the reader’s attention. The only nit-pick I had with the storyline was a credibility issue as to why internal transporters would be left operational in a particular circumstance (I’m not going into detail on this, as it would give too much away).

The writing style is sparse and spiky, as befits the storyteller herself.

Well done, Michelle Browne. “And the Stars Will Sing” gets my vote for novella of the year, regardless of genre.

You can learn more about Michelle Browne by visiting her blog or catch her on Twitter @SciFiMagpie

"And the Stars Will Sing" is available at and 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Liebster-ish Award Part III: Attack of the Clones


You know this game, but you may never have played it this way: Tag! You’re the author who’s “It” so you have to play the game by sharing information on your current Work in Progress (WIP) otherwise someone is sent round to your house with an electric cattle prod. Sandy Appleyard and Alexandria Constantinova Szeman (both of whom should know better) have tagged me, which goes to show you can't trust anybody these days. Actually it's not so bad. Makes me nostalgic for my time in reform school.

I'm digressing, as usual. Here are the rules:

Give credit (including the URL/link) to the person or blog that caught you before you could change your name and move to Panama.
Play by the rules – fortunately they're not complicated as writers tend to suffer from an IQ-deficiency – which includes posting the rules.
Answer 9 questions about your current WIP (NOTE: Looks like lying is OK, thank goodness).
List five other authors or bloggers, with their relevant URL/links, so that the ignominy can cling to them wherever they are on the planet.

1. What is the title (or working title) of your WIP book?

"Hungry Ghosts"

2. What genre(s) does your book fall under (or brush up against)?

Psychological thriller/mystery/crime/detective. Tempted to put "chick lit" on this list, as it would get me a wider audience, but I'd get complaints that there wasn't enough in the book about shoes and makeup.

3. Which actors would you choose to play the characters in the film version of your book?

Clive Owen would make a good David Braddock (the central anti-hero) - he has that haggardly-handsome lived-a-bit look to him. Definitely needs to be a Brit: I wouldn't want some guy called Cage with a wig on his head doing the part. Not unless the royalty money is really good of course.

Most of the other main characters are Thai, so any names I mention wouldn't mean much to my readers here. They'd also be very long names.

For some of the smaller parts I'd use tried-and-trusted British actors and actresses, and the hottest Thai girls available.

OK, so Hollywood's not exactly going to jump at these recommendations, but sod 'em. There is such a thing as artistic integrity (unless the royalty money is really good of course).

4. What is the one-sentence pitch for your book?

While searching for a missing girl in the underworld of Bangkok, ethically-dubious private eye David Braddock finds himself hunted.

5. Will your book be Indie published, self-published, or represented by an agency and sold to a traditional publisher?

Self-published in 2013. I've already turned down a offer from a small publisher for the first book in the "Time, Blood and Karma" series ("Everyone Burns"), so this is the route I'm committed to.

I suspect I might be a control freak.

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I'm expecting a year. I'm only part-way through it now.

7. What other books in this genre would you compare yours to? 

I wouldn't. Or can't rather. While each book in "Time, Blood and Karma" will have elements of psychology, mystery and crime in them, the series also traces a family history over a period of seventy years as a 'karmic arc'. The books will also jump backwards and forwards in time. I guess the content of  three of the books (including "Hungry Ghosts") is a bit of a mixture of John Burdett's "Bangkok 8" series with various stuff half-inched from Graham Greene and Albert Camus. OK, that's horribly pretentious, I know. I'm not even sure how the dark humour that informs my stories fits into any of this. Generally speaking I don't read thrillers and mysteries (yep, that's right!) and I'm more usually to be found with my head in a psychology or history book, so I don't even know who my 'compatriots' are.

8. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I've already said, "Hungry Ghosts" is number #2 in a series. Where the overall idea for the series came from - and I have all the books already mapped out - I have no idea. It's probably something to do with the places I've been to, my love of good inter-related plots, psychology and Buddhist philosophy; and an interest in the nature of time and its effects on relationships. How my creative subconscious does stuff I really don't have a clue. I recently re-read "Everyone Burns" and it felt like someone else had written it. Weird.

9. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Exotic locations, twists and turns in the plot and a central character who can't make his mind up about which of the various females in his life is the 'right' one for him (assuming any of them are). The storyline(s) also unfold from the points of view of different characters - unlike in the first book - which I hope might give added interest for the reader by keeping him guessing as to true motives.

Phew! That's me done. Now I'm handing over the baton (or poisoned chalice, according to your point of view). My "tags" are:-

Travis Luedke

Angella Graff

Charles Wells

Tina Traverse

Rebecca Scarberry

If any of you folks don't want to "pollute" your own blog/website with this, you're welcome to "guest" on mine.

For more blogging phuquerie, find out what the members of the Blog Scratchers Union are up to on Twitter by using the hashtag #TBSU

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Talk to the Hat: Billy Ray Chitwood

JD  My guest today in the Dubai Dungeon is Billy Ray Chitwood, author of several books, the most recent of which is ‘What Happens Next? A Life's True Tale’. Welcome!

BR  Where am I? How did I get here?

JD  You’re in Dubai, BR. You’re here through a process that’s known as ‘Rendition’, I believe. It involves the use of secrecy, incapacitating drugs and a private aircraft.

BR   Why am I hung up by chains in a damn Arabic basement?

JD  Technically this is not a basement, it’s a dungeon. Anyway, I’m working on a budget. The electric chair has broken down so this is the best I can do at short notice. Ha! That was a pun. “Short”.

BR  Yeah, yeah, very funny.

JD  Digby, get the cattle prod.

(Sounds of electricity arcing)

BR  Holy crap.

JD  Nice to see something still works in this damn place. OK, BR, I want to talk to you about your life. Particularly as there may not necessarily be much of it left. But first I’m going to read you some of my poems.

BR  Couldn’t I just have the cattle prod instead?

(Sounds of electricity arcing)

BR  Thank you.

JD  According to my secret dossier you’re from the Appalachians, East Tennessee. Which makes you another damn American. What’s that place like? They got indoor toilets and shoes there yet?

BR Well, yeah, now they do! When I was In Oswego Bottom, we had an old unpainted clapboard house, kerosene lamps and an outhouse ... sure hated to make the ‘number two’ trip in the dark of night. The Sears catalog pages were not too functional … Must have had shoes but damned if I can remember them. Went barefoot a lot on the old country roads and cut my toes on discarded fruit jars - the old timers used fruit jars for their moonshine, or ‘white lightning.’

JD  Sounds ghastly. I’ve always thought the difference between Tennessee and yoghurt is that yoghurt is a living culture. But, hey, what do I know? I’m only an educated Englishman after all.

BR  Can I disagree with that last statement?

JD  Of course.

(Sounds of electricity arcing)

JD  I’m interested to know how you started off in life with no shoes and ended up as a writer.

BR  I never said I had no shoes as a kid! Just don’t remember them …

JD  Shut up. I’m trying to make you sound interesting here. Tell Dr John about your life.

BR Lots of mobility, divorced parents who fought a lot, literally. Lived for a time with my paternal grandparents (Oswego Bottom – AKA Wooldridge). Lived for a time in state-run institutions - we were poor and Mom had a rough time keeping my sister and me with her.  Life became somewhat normal for me during junior and senior high school. Mom worked as a boarding house cook for some time but her real love was the Bell Telephone company, where she retired. The Southern Baptist influence was heavy. There was a ton of emotional stuff to get through. At Seventeen, I joined the US Navy to get away from it all. That’s when a misdirected kid came ‘not very well’ of age. The adult world collided with my emotions and I sort of went crazy: married too soon, had kids, divorced, hit the gin mills and met some very pretty ladies. Managed somehow to get a college degree, worked with some major textbook publishers, owned a business, and was even able to do some acting on stage, film, and television … To sum it up for you: I ate some emotional soup in my youth and I’ve spent a lifetime trying to digest it. Shall I sing a chorus from "All The Girls I’ve Loved?"

JD  Not unless you want Digby to use the prod again. OK. Tell me about your Bailey Crane mystery books. And don’t be boring about it.

BR  Five books in the series, three inspired by actually crimes. The first book, “An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery,” is about the brutal murder of a young actress and mother. In real life this lovely lady happened to be a friend of mine, actually got me into acting, was also a secretary to a couple of my attorney friends in Phoenix … Sorry, I’m rambling, trying to get my mind off these infernal chains …

JD  It’s alright. I’m only half-listening anyway.

BR  Anyway, Bailey Crane is a transplanted southern fellow and mirrors a bit of my own life. Bailey tells the stories with his simple plot lines, fuses and muses about his own life experiences. Book 2, “Satan’s Song -ABCM”, deals with a decapitation murder in Phoenix, again inspired by a true crime.  (Put the prod down! I’m getting boring.) Suffice, the five books deal with Bailey Crane’s life as he chases the bad guys. The books can be read independently of each other, but each book does show the natural progression through the years of Bailey Crane. Book 4 in the series, “Murder In Pueblo Del Mar – ABCM”, was inspired by an actual murder of a mother in Mexico while on family holiday. The story involves the husband/father and his relationship with a transsexual lover. The book is a fictional account but with some truth and author embellishment. Books 3 and 5 in the Bailey Crane Series (“The Brutus Gate – ABCM” and “A Soul Defiled – ABCM” respectively) have no basis in true crime, but good reads if I do say so. Sorry to be so boring –

JD  As well you should be. (Yawns, and thinks about electricity)

BR  - but the Bailey Crane books gave me the chance to explore some dimensions of myself. I call my writing therapy for the soul.

JD  I want to talk about "Mama’s Madness", a book of yours I read and reviewed recently. But this is serious talk, so I don’t want you dangling from chains. Digby! Lower Mr Chitwood down and sit him on a crate.

BR  Thank you. You can be a really difficult person to ‘hang around’.

JD  You’re welcome. I feel a little more dignity and decorum is required at this point. Oh, and Digby bring the bucket of maggots for Mr Chitwood’s feet.

BR  Is that necessary?

JD  My lawyers insist.

BR  Ugh. They’re warm. They’re alive!

JD  Of course they are. You think I’d use dead maggots? What sort of a host do you think I am?

BR  A psychotic one, actually. No wonder you liked "Mama’s Madness".

JD  Great book! And a brave one for an Indie writer. Tough and unsentimental. Well, more ‘mental’ than ‘sentimental’. For those who haven’t read it, it’s a tale of southern lowlifes, and a central character Tamatha Preen who is basically a no-holds-barred psychopath that tortures and murders her own children.

BR Your type of woman, I’d guess.

JD  I’m going to let that one go. It’s based on some real-life events which I believe happened in Northern California?

BR  Yes, “Mama’s Madness” deals with an evil mother’s hold on her children. It deals with dark closet punishments, beatings, forced prostitution, unbelievable acts, and three murders. It was a book difficult to write because most of us are unwilling to accept the fact that people like Tamatha Preen (a fictional name), that this kind of evil does indeed exist. Although “Mama’s Madness” has its sordid disbelief it is one of my favorite writing accomplishments.

JD  Tell me, BR, what is your favourite book of all time?

BR That would likely be, “You Can’t Go Home Again” by Thomas Wolfe.

(JD nods at Digby. Sounds of electricity arcing)

BR “The General’s Daughter” by Nelson DeMille.

(JD nods at Digby. Sounds of electricity arcing)

BR OUCH! Okay, okay, my true favorite is, “Everyone Burns” by John Dolan?

JD  Now you’re getting it. Tell me about your latest book. And be quick about it, I’m getting hungry.

BR “What Happens Next? A Life’s True Tale” is non-fiction, about me, about my memories of east Tennessee, about my wanderlust, about a marriage that happened too fast, about the kids I cherish, about some of the loves of my life, about the neon lights and gin mills of California and Arizona, piano bars, pretty ladies, and about my faith. The book is an honest look at my mistakes, about my joys and triumphs, and about the remarkable wife, Julie Anne, with whom I get to spend the rest of my life. This non-fiction book is a ‘brother’ to my first book, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections of an Appalachian Son”, a fictional memoir which is ninety per cent true and covers some of the same ground. I even explore a family murder and a family suicide.

JD  Had enough of the maggots yet?

BR  I sure have.

JD  Good, because I think they’ve had enough of you.


Billy Ray is discounting by 50% copies of his book "An Arizona Tragedy - A Bailey Crane Mystery" exclusively through Galericulate. During the period 6-11 December click HERE  This will take you to where you 'buy' the book. At checkout enter coupon code ZV49H and it's only $1.50! Choose your preferred e-book format, download and get reading.

You can learn more than you'd probably like to know about Billy Ray Chitwood by clicking on the links below:

Latest Book on Amazon "What Happens Next? A Life's True Tale"  USA  UK

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Billy Ray's Website

Twitter                     @brchitwood

BLOG-SCRATCHERS CORNER - Other Blogs You Might Want To Check Out

Jan Berghoef. "The Berghoef Daily" - get your diurnal fix of all that's new in science and much more besides

Eden Baylee. Poetic writer of exotic, erotic stories and cartographer of desire

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Liebster Award Part II: The Empire Strikes Back

My very good friend and former room-mate at the asylum, Seumas Gallacher has finally come up with a sensible idea after several decades of trying.

It's a kind of Bloggers-Supporting-Bloggers sort of thing. Like Live Aid but without music or bands or a stage or any kind of charitable intent whatsoever.

He calls this dubious child of his reptilian brain "Blog Scratching" (Copyright Seumas Gallacher 2012), and it comprises a complex system of listing favourite bloggers on your blog posts to try and whip up interest in this moribund craft the way one might apply a leather strap to an equine creature in its last throes of life.

That's it really.

So here's five of my faves to get this futile concept started (and probably finished):-

Seumas Gallacher (Self-appointed President of the Blog-Scratchers Union). Kilted Scottish Manic's comedic rants and senile burblings on any subject you care to name, excluding the Battle of Culloden [Scotland 0-5 England]. Warning: this blog contains ludicrous underhand marketing of his best-selling thrillers

Pamela Sutherland. Brave and touching real-life diary of what it is like to live with MS.

Soraya Bakhbakhi. Enfant terrible, provocateur, poet and abuser of red lipstick, Soraya's posts are not for the faint-hearted: she says it like it is!

Meredith Lorimar. Sometime phantasmagoric exploration of the human imagination; and a homage in prose to the creative process.

Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. The grande dame (at least to me) of writing and poetry produces wonderful articles - "The Alexandria Papers" - on life, art and the writer's craft. And she is lovely too!