Cover Reveal Tour: On Borrowed Time by Graeme Hall

I love Graeme Hall’s writing for his vivid characters and his subtle motifs. The worlds he weaves are immersive and transport a reader into escapism. Therefore, I was excited to hear about his latest release, which will be his debut novel, ‘On Borrowed Time’.

On Borrowed Time is set in Hong Kong and Shanghai over the period 1996/1997 – including the handover of Hong Kong to China. The novel explores the choices that people have to make; in particular between doing what is easy and what is right. Pre-orders for January 11th 2021 can be found here for Kindle. Today we are revealing the gorgeous front cover and giving you a preview of what it is inside!

More About The Book:

In Hong Kong, Emma Janssen discovers the truth behind the death of her brother four years earlier. Meanwhile, in Shanghai, a PhD student meets a woman with an unusual degree of interest in his research. These storylines converge at the time of the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and Emma finds that she has to choose between revenge or the future happiness and safety of both herself and those close to her.

While being a work of fiction, On Borrowed Time is rooted in the author’s own experiences of living and working in Hong Kong from 1993 to 2010, in particular the final years of British rule and the transfer of sovereignty back to China.

About the author

Graeme lived in Hong Kong from 1993 to 2010 and still keeps a close connection to the city. His first novel was set in Hong Kong and Shanghai over the period 1996/97 and most of his writing comes from his love of that part of the world. Graeme first visited Macau in 1993 and he quickly became fascinated by the oldest European settlement in Asia. His short story collection, ‘The Goddess of Macau’ was published in August 2020 by Fly on the Wall Press.

He has won the short story competitions of the Macau Literary Festival and the Ilkley Literature Festival, and his writing has been published in anthologies by Black Pear Press and the Macau Literary Festival.He is an active member of the Leeds Writers Circle whose members have been a constant source of advice, support and encouragement. Graeme lives in Calderdale, West Yorkshire with his wife and a wooden dog.

Excerpt:

CHAPTER 6

‘How are you finding it here? In China?’ Susan asked a few days after Christmas. They were sitting on a bench by the athletics track, taking a break after a morning run; a common interest, they’d discovered. Kwok-wah and Susan were spending an increasing amount of time together. Kwok-wah wasn’t sure what the definition of a date was, and whether they had been on a date or not, but they had explored some of the bars and cheaper restaurants they could afford on their monthly allowances.

The day was cool, if not as cold as it recently had been; overcast and the air damp and heavy. Susan took a swig from the water bottle she was carrying and offered it to Kwok-wah.

‘Is it what you expected?’ she continued. ‘Compared with Hong Kong.’

‘I don’t know. I don’t know that I’d given it any thought. I don’t know what I expected. What do you make of the place? I mean it must be even stranger for you than it is for me. You know … coming from the States.’

Susan laughed. ‘Oh my God, you’ve no idea how weird China is to an American – even when you’re Chinese. It freaks me out sometimes. I mean, I’ve done a bit of travelling around Southeast Asia but China is still something else.’

‘What do you miss most about home?’

‘Pretty much everything! The food for a start. I’d kill for a plate of pancakes with maple syrup. Or just hanging round the mall with my friends. Driving along the Pacific Highway in a convertible with the top down. The weather. Especially the weather … or, to be more precise, the air. I mean’ – Susan was getting into her stride – ‘when did we last see the sun? It’s just day after day of this horrible grey smog. Except when it’s raining, of course. Then it’s just wet.’

‘And yet you’re here?’

‘And yet I’m here.’ Susan smiled. ‘Well it’s not all bad, of course, and like I said it’s got to be good experience for my career. But we weren’t talking about me. What about you? What would you be doing now if you were in Hong Kong?’

‘Much the same as here mostly. I’d play basketball. Chat with friends. Go see movies. Mostly though I’d be doing something on the computer. Playing games, writing programs. That sort of thing. Go to the Golden Shopping Arcade.’

‘I didn’t have you down as a shopping addict.’

‘It’s not a regular mall. It’s a place devoted to computers and so on, there are loads of little shops selling all the latest stuff.’

‘Ah … I see. You’re passionate about your subject, aren’t you? I like that. I don’t think I am. For me it’s just a way to a job, but I really like the way you’re so into it. I really do. It’s cool.’

‘Cool? People normally call me a geek, but I just want to do my research.’

‘And is it going well?’

‘It’s okay, I guess.’ Kwok-wah hesitated before going further. If he was honest with himself, he had been feeling a little dissatisfied with things for a while, but he wasn’t sure he could identify exactly what was wrong. He was making progress with the research, considering it was early days, but he was largely ignored by the rest of the department and felt rather isolated.

‘You sound unsure?’

‘Perhaps I expected too much.’

‘In what way?’

‘I don’t know … I think I expected to spend more time with Professor Ye. After all, he was the reason I came here in the first place.’

‘Isn’t he very helpful?’

‘Oh, he’s great,’ said Kwok-wah, backtracking, anxious not to bad-mouth his professor. ‘I just wish he was around more often. He’s often away or in meetings. He has a lot of visitors, which means his door is often shut all afternoon. It can be hard to pin him down and get him to spend some time with me. But then, like I say, perhaps that’s just me expecting too much from him. After all, I’m just a lowly PhD student, not some general or whatever.’

If you have enjoyed this extract, let us know in the comments! Make a note of Graeme Hall’s January release for ‘On Borrowed Time’…

On ‘The Goddess of Macau’:

“There is a subtlety to Graeme’s writing, which is characterised by a sensitivity to the nuances of character and setting.  His stories unfold in a lyrical, understated style – a literary equivalent of pointillism.”

– Dr Rachel Connor, novelist, dramatist and Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University

Twitter:     #OnBorrowedTime @hongkonggraeme

For A Little Sun This Friday…

For a little bit of sun this Friday, some spoken word from my pamphlet ‘Growing Pains’, transporting us to a little town in Italy.

In ‘Growing Pains’ Isabelle Kenyon navigates the grey space between child and adult. From the playground wars with worms, to the value of a woman’s body as she learns to take up her own space, this collection values kindness in what appears to be an increasingly cruel society.


‘Spartan of both language and spirit, Isabelle Kenyon’s uncompromising ’Growing Pains’ sifts and measures the weight of the human soul. In this unflinching and incisive commute from schoolyard savagery through toxic masculinity and calculating a woman’s worth, to grief and dislocation, Kenyon divines humanity’s salvation in passing acts of kindness.’

Anne Casey, Poet and Writer

(Salmon Poetry, The Times)


‘Growing Pains’ is £6 from Indigo Dreams Publishing

indigodreams.co.uk/isabelle-kenyon/4594877493

Blog Tour – Confess by Juliette van der Molen

Confess by Juliette van der Molen

Twist in Time Press

Released October 9th 2020 It’s been a delight to be immersed in 1692 Salem this week, celebrating the historical poetry collection, Confess: The Untold Story of Dorothy Good.
On my stop on the tour (you can follow the rest of the tour using the twitter handles above), I wanted to share an excerpt from the collection. In the next few weeks on this blog, you will find a review by Ben Cassidy, who writes wonderful reviews, so do keep your eyes out ! In the meantime, let me share with you my micro review of this gorgeous historical collection.

Here is the book information first…


Blurb ‘1692 Salem, Massachusetts – Based on the life of Dorothy Good, the youngest person accused of and imprisoned for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials, Confess tells the story of the trauma surrounding this nearly forgotten child from one of the darkest chapters in early American history. A colony is plunged into turmoil filled with misunderstandings, fear, intolerance, religious fervor, and an egregious abuse of power. Over the course of the year, more than two hundred people are accused of witchcraft and thirty are found guilty. Nineteen will be sentenced to death. Four-year-old Dorothy and her mother, Sarah Good, are arrested for witchcraft.Dorothy will confess.Sarah will hang.This is Dorothy’s story…’

Juliette van der Molen Bio Juliette van der Molen is an ex-pat poet living in Wales. She is an intersectional feminist and member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her work has appeared in The Wellington Street Review, Nightingale & Sparrow, Burning House Press and several other publications. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of The Net. Juliette is also the Poetry Editor for Mookychick Magazine. She is a spoken word performer and has had the honour of appearing in several venues in the United States and the United Kingdom. Her books include: Death Library: The Exquisite Corpse Collection, Mother May I? and Anatomy of A Dress. You can connect with her via Twitter @j_vandermolen and her website http://www.JulietteWrites.com.
Buy the book from Twist It Press here

Excerpt –

Untold

i am untold

i am undone

i am all the ‘un’ things

until i am no one.

ink limbs splashed

in evensong sky

a map of my

inner terrain where

no birds fly.

i might have been

            somebody

i might have been

            anybody

instead of this

            body

                  shamed.

elder hands,

knobby at the joint

lifting threadbare hems—

duty bound,

called to serve

the ever maddening crowd.

i am unloved

i am undone

i am all the ‘un’ things

until i am no one.

my witches mark

blaring red,

and the story mother

told me becomes a means

to her end.

wrinkled brows,

glowering eyes comb skin,

a tight line

of lips

ready to pronounce all sins.

i might have been

            somebody

i might have been

            anybody

instead of this

            nobody

                  now.

in the woods i wander

long after all is forgotten,

my hair tangled in branches,

feet pressed into mud.

my cheek grazes wet moss

of a forest that refuses

to damn me and holds

me like no mother ever has before.

i am unabsolved

i am undone

i am all the ‘un’ things

until i am no one.

My review –

One of the standout poems for me was the heart-breaking poem, “Poppet, Mine”, which serves to highlight how young Dorothy Good really was when taken into custody, and her mother accused of witchcraft. She trusts her doll more than people- cloth and thread has never been unkind.  

Juliette writes that prophecies are simply ‘shaking heads’, that Dorothy will grow up and rebel against a state which abandons her and be proclaimed a witch for her outward behaviour. This is a terrifying self fulfilling prophecy.

Grab your copy from Twist in Time Press here.

Blog Tour: The Love Virus by Eleni Cay

Delighted to be organising a blog tour for this prose poem collection with an important theme!

Book’s synopsis:

When Katie finds out that her increasingly unresponsive legs and extreme fatigue is due to Multiple Sclerosis, she rides an emotional rollercoaster – anger, denial and fear – when faced with a wheelchair-bound existence. She puts her studies at Oxford on hold, and she splits up from her fiancé, Mark, even though she still loves him. While undergoing treatment, Katie is diagnosed with MS2 – a virus that paralyses the mind. In hospital, Katie has to cope with her irritating bedfellows who argue constantly, and where she is treated by Dr Andrews, a handsome psychologist. The closer she gets to him however, the worse her pain becomes. Compounding Katie’s struggle is Mark, who returns to her bedside day after day. Once Katie begins Dr Andrews’ new experimental MS2 treatment, Mark can’t recognise her anymore. He begins to wonder if Katie will ever be cured.

More about the Author:

Eleni Cay is a Slovakian-born poet living in Norway. Her award-winning first collection was published by Parthian Books and her second poetry collection ‘Love Algorithm’ is forthcoming by Eyewear Press. Eleni’s debut novel ‘The Love Virus’ was published in spring 2020.

www.eleni-cay.com

The beauty of this collection is you can actually download it for free on Kindle AND Audiobook here

Excited to share the book trailer with you today and hope you will join us on the rest of the tour with reviews and interviews!

Blog Tour: Death Magazine by Matt Haigh

Delighted to be organising a blog tour for poetry collection, Death Magazine by Matthew Haigh (Salt Publishing) this week. I wanted to share an excerpt from this immersive collection, to give you a taste of what could be your next read!

Category: Poetry Available from publisher: SALT Publishing or from author direct

Price: £9.99 ISBN: 9781784632069

Link to buy DEATH MAGAZINE: Matthew Haigh

SYNOPSIS

Death Magazine is a neutropian vision of our soundbite, snippet-obsessed, digital and print magazine culture. It employs the Dadaist technique of cut-up to produce poems that range from the blackly comic to the surreal, from the nonsensical to the prescient.

Many of the poems confine themselves to the precise aesthetics of magazine columns, doing away with line breaks entirely to find new meaning in their Modernist forms. Added to the mix are a range of free verse poems more traditional in form. This monster hybrid of styles, of fact and fiction, aims to replicate the untrustworthy, hyperbolic stream of media that absorbs our lives every day.

This radical work creates a futuristic landscape of human emotion as product – a pink, shattered diamond refracting our chaotic times.

PRAISE FOR THIS BOOK

‘“But it’s difficult for a 6 year old to articulate how few things / are as satisfying as the click of a tiny drawer in a tiny cabinet.” Barbie, Grace Jones, silicon immortality, The Alien, computer games – some of the subjects around which Matthew Haigh’s poetry coalesces in this sparkling collection. Despite a kaleidoscopic mixture of cultural references, there’s a sense of an uncompromising and focussed vision emerging from a still presence at the heart of the poetry. The book is funny, sharp, touching and completely itself. I wholeheartedly recommend it.’ —Mark Waldron

‘Your luxury fitness lifestyle is undoubtedly lacking in poetry. It is also, like the famous people poetried in this book, mediated by invisible hands. Hands that tool your well-being up and down with the weather. You need armour. You’ll find it in these pages. Full of surrealistic intensity, black humour, linguistic and formal play, all allied with a dark wit that might protect your brain in the depths of night, Matt Haigh’s Death Magazine is a collection of poems that skewers without cruelty, observes with its teeth, and sees what now needs seeing.’ —S. J. Fowler

‘Exquisitely crafted, elegant and dark dark dark. Poems that nudge me to up my game.’ —James Knight

Extract:

Hope you are tempted by this gorgeous poetry collection which you can purchase here and you can follow the rest of the tour reviews and interviews below!

Covidioms: Poetry NI Free book!

I was delighted to write a haiku as part of this project by Poetry NI. All haikus are presented equally, forming one voice, one story.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, we put out the call for people to respond to life under lockdown through poetry. We asked for poems of three lines, telling us about the good and the bad, the hopes and the fears, the dreams and the realities.

With Covid-19 affecting almost every facet of everyone’s daily life, it’s no surprise we got an overwhelming response. We’ve put together 107 of your micropoems to form one unifed sequence as a Panning For Poems special, showcasing a range of voices and experiences, all tied together by the common thread of social distancing and lockdown.

In the spirit of collaboration and community, we wanted people to come together and create something that speaks hopefully to everyone, for individual poems to lie alongside each other, resonate and echo, and form something larger, something whole. Therefore, we decided not to give the poets’ names alongisde their own micropoem, but rather list all the contributors together given at the end. Thank you for responding and for showing us a small but important insight into your locked-down days.

Download free PDF e-booklet

Writing and motivation in a world crisis

I’m hearing a lot of people talking about new skills they are learning or using the time to write that novel that has been years in the making!

For me, and for many freelancers I imagine who work from home, work life is the same minus important social interaction. I still have crippling pain in my hands which makes writing and typing a constant negotiation on a daily basis. I still have work to do every day but unfortunately with next to no salary, as my main freelance contract has been put on hold for the next 4 to 6 months due to the current situation with COVID-19.

I have had excellent things happened during the crisis, such as being published were my dream publisher, Indigo Dreams Publishing, but of course celebrations have not taken place and excitement on my side is certainly low. It does bring joy when those close to me order a copy, but I do worry that myself and other authors published in this time will fall under the radar, in that our work just won’t reach the same number of people as it might have done if all were not worried about current income.

I’ve been taking part in workshops and spoken word events as part of the literary festival Stay at Home Festival which have been enjoyable and a good alternative but I worry that again, engagement with these events is low and is difficult to connect with people on a virtual basis. I like to hope that when this not-yet-in-law lockdown is over, we will support literary events fully, but I am concerned that this will require even more money from the government. Currently, I am entirely reliant on filling out funding bids and unsure whether I will need to go back to full or part-time employment (I have been in full-time self-employment since this March and before March, I have always had a part-time job to subsidise.)

It’s a worrying time for creatives and I can see why motivation is low. Certainly submissions to Fly on the Wall Press are extremely low, the lowest we have had in two years. I hope can stick together and be a supportive community.

Stay safe and sane all xx

Blog Tour: Birds Who Eat French Fries by Michael Maul

Today I am delighted to be sharing an excerpt for poet Michael Maul and his humorous and touching collection, ‘Birds Who Eat French Fries’.

First, let’s find out about the collection…

Birds Who Eat French Fries’ by Michael Maul

Michael Maul’s second collection is packed with humour and charismatic reflections on the puzzling nature of human existence, juxtaposed with the ingenuity of the animal kingdom!  Unafraid to tackle large topics such as hate speech and abusive relationships, Maul takes the reader on a journey which has all the complexities and wonders of modern life.

About the author

Michael Maul resides in Bradenton, Florida, living near Sarasota Bay. His poems have previously appeared in numerous literary publications and anthologies in the U.S. as well as in Ireland, Scotland, and Australia.

He is also a past winner of the Mercantile Library Prize for Fiction, for a short story set in Siesta Key, and his work was selected for inclusion in Intro 4, an anthology of new voices published by The University of Virginia Press.

Maul is a graduate of the Ohio University creative writing program, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He later held faculty and administrative positions at Ohio University (Athens, Ohio,) The Columbus College of Art and Design (Columbus, Ohio,) and Saint Louis University (St. Louis, Missouri.

Reviews:

“I received and am enjoying Birds Who Eat French Fries. Impressive!”

  • Ed Lathy, PhD. Former Dean, Liberal Arts, Columbus College of Art and Design

“I was blown away! I love almost every poem in this book. There are highs and lows, humor and pathos and poems that left me thinking for days. Honestly, this may be my favorite book of poetry ever. I hope to see more from this poet. A lot more. I know that taste in poetry is an individual thing, but I don’t think you will be disappointed if you give this a read.”

  • Tim Gibson on ‘ Dancing Naked In Front of Dogs’


Excerpt:

THINGS THAT CAN BECOME PROJECTILES


In times of emergency,
I have seen many things take flight:
pens and forks, butter knives,
shoes and keys and wedding rings
(one and two.)


What has been thrown my way
is really all the same:
love given back,
now taken other forms.


What I am confused by now,
is how one moves ahead
to rebuild a life
from broken flings,
or remembers
how to discern the useless
from the burn of precious things.

Enjoyed the poem? Make sure to follow the rest of the tour!

You can purchase SIGNED copies of the collection from Michael Maul here

Blog Tour Giveaway: Ghost in the Reflection/Letters to Erin by James F Miller

Today I conclude the Fly on the Wall Poetry Tour for James F Miller with full poetry collection ‘Ghost in the Reflection/Letters to Erin‘! A sneaky preview below and a giveaway below, read on to find out how to enter!

About the collection and author:

This collection, which addresses addiction, recovery and love in its many forms, reflects the poet’s observations about regression in societal morals. Although these are Miller’s personal viewpoints, his political thinking is relevant against the wider backdrop of the USA, whose divisions threaten to tear its citizens down the centre.

Miller was born in 1970s, in a small town in northern Indiana. His early life was spent between Indiana, Florida and the New York area. After his many years in college, he took to the road and travelled the country in a quest to find himself and some meaning or purpose in life. Poetry helped Miller articulate his emotions.

Giveaway: Answer the question: Where was Miller born?

Comment below or comment on the social media post (Twitter) announcing this giveaway with your answer. Winner will be drawn midnight GMT on Feb 17th. UK winner= paperback/international winner=ebook.

Ghost in the Reflection – Letters to Erin

16 | P a g e

The Phantom I Became

I awoke the other night inundated in my perspiration;

I saw her face where memory awakened,

walking away, her back towards the sun setting along the shoreline,

the golden-red tint of sunrays highlighted

her hair’s natural gold; I traced the silhouette of her face,

drunk in a love abandoned, once upon a distant day.

I cannot justify why still I refuse to remember;

I shake away the temptation,

that foolish urge to call out her name,

that taunting urge to scream, to call out for her.

I refuse to swallow the cyanide of decisions

as a sentence served in a prison of remorse.

A shot of bourbon swallowed to numb;

the other to ease the pain;

another shot for courage

and another, another, another…

wherein the darkness hides a ghost

& aches memory of decisions derived:

this life, that road, the many footsteps taken.

If apologies could bandage the scars

I have induced & the wreckage abandoned,

that she wears as a burden so beautifully flawed,

and could erase the scars embedded,

I would. but I cannot muster the courage

to master meaningless words,

words softly spoken sound so selfishly sincere,

words sadly spoken only so my suffering could dissipate,

evaporate like rain in a desert

to justify the decisions of a child: words that would do nothing

to bandage the wounds they helped create.

Even when reason remained dormant; unknown,

my every footstep made was destined,

delivering yesterday to today.

Still, it’s difficult to justify the emotions defied,

nor the costs or sacrifice.

I cannot fathom the means to forgive,

nor the reasons for the scared child I was

or for phantom I became.

2020: The year to focus?

Happy New Year (unless it is already too late to say that?)

I have actually made some resolutions this year to do with writing. It can be easy to wriggle out of working on my own work with currently 4 jobs and general exhaustion! I’m hoping this will help.

This year I am going to:

  • Submit more of my work to journals
  • Write at least once a month (I want my goals to be achievable!) Quality not quantity 🙂
  • Focus on going to more open mic sessions (I’m flat searching this year to move into the city of Manchester, or at least closer, which will definitely help. Currently I have to have the motivation to get a train and a bus or a willing driver!)

I’ve not started too badly out of the blocks – I’ve had 3 poems out with The Pangolin Review already (which I actually wrote 1 and a half years ago, so it is good to find a home for them) and you can read them here.

I’ve also applied for a Pamphlet Editing day with The Poetry Business – wish me luck!

Do you have any writing resolutions and are you sticking to them so far?