Archive for August, 2013

Ursa_Major_IAU.svgI’m pleased to announce that my short story ‘The Great Bear’ has been accepted for publication in the FourW twenty-four anthology from the Booranga Writers’ Centre, Charles Sturt University, Australia. “FourW” is one of Australia’s longest running (& best…) annual anthologies of new poetry and prose.

To find out more about the Booranga Writer’s Centre, please visit this link: http://www.csu.edu.au/faculty/arts/humss/booranga

Booranga_colour

My short fiction has now been published in anthologies, magazines and journals which hail from places as farflung as Canada (my first ever publication), Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, USA, and of course the UK.

Take a look at my roll-call of published short fictions here: http://www.andykirbythewriter.20m.com/custom_1.html

 

I’m guest blogging on the Leeds Big Bookend blog today, following my shortlisting as one of the 20 best Leeds writers under 40 at the Big Bookend festival earlier this summer. Read my post here: http://theleedsbigbookend.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/the-numbers-game/ But also have a bit of a mooch around the site as there’s some good stuff on it to wrap your reading gear around.

Leeds Big Bookend Screenprint

My article on Manchester United’s luck in the draw for domestic cup competitions has been published today on the Republik of Mancunia website. You can read the full article here: http://therepublikofmancunia.com/ballbags-manchester-uniteds-luck-of-the-draw-in-domestic-cup-competitions/

Republik of Manc Luck of Draw screenprint

And here’s a quick excerpt: “When David Moyes hit out at the Premier League a couple of weeks ago, suggesting a “conspiracy against United” in terms of our opening run of fixtures in the new campaign (I think we all know that run now: Swansea, Chelsea, Liverpool, Palace, City), he may have been continuing a fine tradition of controlled paranoia which Fergie used to use as a tool for constructing that famous Old Trafford siege mentality. But Moyes might have been better served keeping his powder dry for a complaint about our draws in the domestic cup competitions.

On the league fixtures, Moyesy contended that the Premier League might have wanted to make it a little harder for United this year, following the ease by which we won the competition last term. He said: “I find it hard to believe that’s the way the balls came out of the bag, that’s for sure.”

It’s even more difficult to believe our “luck of the draw” in the cups though, and prior to the draw for the League Cup being made last night it was absolutely predictable that the Reds would pull one of the Big Five (or is it Big Six now?) Weight of history told us we’d get Chelsea, or city. Statistics, pure mathematics decreed that we’d get Arsenal, or Spurs. Or Liverpool, as it turned out.

No right-thinking United supporter was surprised. Yet the neutral fan and for the ABU, there is a willful blind-spot as far as United’s rotten run of luck in terms of domestic cup draws is concerned. They still spout the myth of United and our easy draws, which has, to be fair, been in evidence in some of our European draws. But at home? No way. Those ballbags have been far from kind to us, and have surely helped contribute to the fact that this year marks a decade since we won the FA Cup (in the decade before that we won it four times).”

kirb_Andy_Murray_CoolhairHi y’all, just thought I’d link you up to a recent interview with a chap called Andy Murray, who kindly took time out from competing in the US Open – where he is defending his championship crown – to talk to me about all things raquetball. Please note any resemblance of Andy Murray to Andy Murray is purely coincidental…

Four years on from their last encounter, Sports Reporter Grant Mortar conducts a follow up interview with Wimbledon Champ and Greatest Living Brit, Andy Murray.

Here’s an excerpt: “Thankfully, Murray’s turnaround since then has been nothing short of incredible. The kind of “learning about yourself” process rarely seen outside reality TV formats like the Apprentice, in which business knowhow is secondary to character arc. You see, Andy has discovered how to make his inner beast work for him. All that rage, all that antipathy, all that pent-up angst now grunges out of him on the tennis courts of Wimbledon, for example, where this year he became the first British player, complete with cock, to win the All England Club’s championship in 77 long years. The last time I met Andy Pandy, 89, the Scottish ne’er do well chuntered on for hours about getting “pleasure from other people’s leisure” as though it were an interview for the position of Sports Hall attendant. Now, of course, the monotone-fingernails-on-a-blackboard-voiced Murray is no longer a chump. He’s a bona fide British champ.”

Read More from HDUK – which this issue celebrates its 10th anniversary – by following these links:

Well, who’d have thought it – a full decade of everyone’s favourite Paranoia and Lifestyle webzine? Along the way there has been laughs and fear, peaks and ditches, joy and gas; so what better way of celebrating than with a bumper summer update, all for your reading pleasure?

Our lead story this time concerns increased sightings of Big Cats around Britain, that’s a Special Report.

Back on board to mark the ten-year landmark, Guest Columnist Bashar Assad presents What I Did On My Summer Holidays.

Meanwhile, the controversial fracking debate finds a proponent in our erstwhile London Mayor. Read about it in Local News.

Our News Round Up covers the Nigerian Space Programme, teachers back at school, means-testing the Winter Fuel allowance and a Brazil Spring!

The Rev. Harry Figgis investigates the strange morality of Lush Cosmetics in ‘How I Spend My Days’.

The Classic Album this time out is from San Francisco’s brilliantly understated Swell.

While International News reports on events that recently befell political fixer and scourge of immigrants everywhere, Lynton Crosby.

And finally, direct from the Parliamentary Recess, Political Celebrity Quentin Workshy-Fopp reveals the Tory policies to come.

SignificantOthers_w7948_750 (2)LargeSignificant Others: Finding New Love at an Old Age

Is it possible to find new love at an old age? That question is answered in Marilyn Baron’s new humorous women’s fiction Significant Others, published by The Wild Rose Press.

Here’s the blurb:

For Honey Palladino, the holidays have lost their magic. She is sure her husband is cheating on her. Her daughter plans to spend the time with a friend. Her widowed mother sees the image of Jesus in a live oak tree. As if that’s not enough, her mother is also talking about going on a Christmas cruise with some old geezer, without benefit of marriage. That would be right after she signs away the family business—the real estate agency Honey’s father built into a company worth millions, the job to which Honey has devoted her life.

At her mother’s condo in Boca Raton, Florida, many have recently lost a spouse and are now with “significant others,” and Honey is intrigued by the promise of new love even at an old age but doubts she’ll ever find another significant other after her inevitable divorce. When her mother reunites with a lost love from years before, Honey is completely undone, but the “Jesus tree” puts into motion a series of holiday miracles. Discovering what’s important in life brings a message of hope for lovers of all ages.

Here’s my review of the book:

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE – A REVIEW OF ‘SIGNIFICANT OTHERS’ BY MARILYN BARON

In Significant Others, once the reader has negotiated his or her way through Marilyn Baron’s labyrinthine and carefully managed plot twists, once the characters have considered their lives, their worklife, their family, where they live, we are left to declare that the solution to the equation is simple: love is the answer.

Marilyn Baron’s compelling new novel is a grandstanding celebration of love in all its forms. Here, there is enough love for everyone, no matter how old they are, no matter how much they’ve given up on discovering love, a special one, for themselves. The plotting is intricate, the characters are engaging, the dialogue sparkling and witty. Indeed, after completing the novel, my first impression was that the book had something of the Shakespearean romance about it. Here we have an old love lost and found; we have miraculous twists of fate; we have sinister forces trying to stop love – the Seniors Against Sin. We have confusion and mixed motivations – those carefully managed plot twists I mentioned above – but, as in the best Shakespearean romances, all is resolved at the end.

In essence, this is a love story saga which spans three generations of the same family. We meet the matriarch, Dee Dee Palladino, who, on the anniversary of her husband’s death discovers a ‘Jesus Tree’ (in the manner that some people see Moses in a slice of toast) in the bark of a tree in her retirement village in Florida. Honey, her “workaholic” daughter (though she won’t admit it) hears of Dee Dee’s discovery and travels out from Atlanta, worried her mom might be ‘losing it’. Honey’s marriage is on the rocks: she suspects her husband Marc of conducting a sordid affair with his temp, and indeed, discovers what she believes to be the photographic proof. Then, finally, there is Honey’s daughter, Hannah. Hannah is a 21-year-old student. She is in a relationship with a Mormon boy (though his Facebook relationship status doesn’t confirm this) with commitment issues.

The main players are ably supported by a colourful supporting cast including Dee Dee’s sister Helene; Dee Dee’s son (and Honey’s half-brother) Donny, a baseball star, and Daniel, a mysterious, tall, dark and handsome stranger whose presence snags with something in Dee Dee’s memory. Has she, perhaps, met Daniel before? Is he, maybe, some blast from the past who can help restore order to her life?

There are plenty of family problems to overcome within the narrative, not least of which is the fact that the family business – real estate – has been lined up to be sold. They are on a deadline. But Honey loves working for the real estate company. It is her life. Dee Dee, by contrast, wants to sell the company because she wants a life.

This is a subtly magnificent read. It is poignant at times – witness the war letters; funny – Honey’s sardonic wit allows the reader a unique perspective on events – I particularly enjoyed her discussions with her best friend Vicky, she of the nightmare boss who has her de-seeding grapes for her; discursive – it positions itself well to discuss issues such as work-life balance, for example; even postmodern at times – the story offers a twist on the fairy tale – at one point Honey rescues a frog from a swimming pool, and thinks about kissing it to awaken her handsome prince.

But the main idea it posits is the fact there is a significant other for all of us, no matter how old we are. As long as we give love a chance. As long as we don’t drown it – muffle it out with all the bleeps and ringtones of modern life (Baron is excellent on Honey’s addiction to her BlackBerry). As long as we are prepared to put ourselves on the line for it.

I asked Marilyn some questions about her latest book.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of the book?                                                                                           

A: One day my mother, who lives in a retirement community in South Florida much like the fictional “MillenniumGardens,” called me up and said she saw the image of Jesus in a live oak tree on the golf course behind her house in the aftermath of a hurricane. That’s what sparked the idea for the book. I interviewed a number of seniors in her building to find out what really goes on in those retirement communities and why so many seniors are living with their significant others without the benefit of marriage and finding happiness at this stage in their lives.

Q: Why did you decide to write about seniors?      

A:  The population of is aging; I’m aging and I believe there should be books written about and for that demographic. Significant Others is humorous, yet poignant and it spans three generations of women, including the youngest, a 21-year-old girl who’s about to go into the family business but isn’t sure she wants to follow her workaholic mother’s footsteps. It explores the concept of finding love and happiness at any age.

Q: Did you pull any material from your own life experience?                                                                        

 A: I think all writers write what they know. I did use excerpts of my father’s bombing missions when he was a top turret gunner on a B-17 while he was stationed in England during WW II. I always found his war experience fascinating so I borrowed from that and some of the stories he told me about his childhood to fashion the character of Daniel, Dee Dee Palladino’s lost love.

SixthSense_7946_750 (2)Q:   When is your next book coming out?                                                                                                                                                                                          

A: Sixth Sense, my romantic suspense with paranormal elements, is released on Amazon today – http://www.amazon.com/Sixth-Psychic-Crystal-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00ES5XUIM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1377510651&sr=1-1&keywords=Sixth+Sense+marilyn+Baron – and will be out in paperback format December 20. This will be the first in a series called The Psychic Crystal Mysteries. The second in the series, Homecoming Homicides, was just contracted for by The Wild Rose Press.  I’m currently working on the third book in the series.

Here’s an excerpt from Significant Others:

Chapter One: The Jesus Tree

One Week Before Christmas

Atlanta, Georgia

When my brother Donny called to tell me our mother had seen the image of Jesus in a live oak tree on the golf course behind her retirement condo in Boca Raton, I knew I had to make a pilgrimage to MillenniumGardens to answer her cry for help.

It’s not that I’m particularly religious, but there were two major problems with this sighting. One, my mother is Jewish, so she had no business seeing Jesus in a live oak tree or any other place. Two, it was the first anniversary of my father’s death and she probably wasn’t thinking straight.

For the past year, my mother had managed to avoid making some important decisions about the disposition of Palladino Properties, our family’s residential real estate firm in Atlanta. In her grief, Dee Dee Palladino, the other half of our award-winning mother-daughter real estate team, had all but deserted me.

IMG_2001 copyDad (2)Dad’s death not only left a hollow place in my heart, it left a gap in the business that was threatening to become a sinkhole. And my mother’s extended absence was aggravating the situation. I’d done my best since the funeral to keep an eye on her. But with my busy schedule, and the fact that I worked and lived in Atlanta and she had taken up residence in Florida, my best didn’t even come close to being good enough.

Significant Others, is available on Amazon U.S.  http://www.amazon.com/Significant-Others-ebook/dp/B00E6EI9MC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377359090&sr=8-1&keywords=Significant+Others+Marilyn+Baron and Amazon UK  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Significant-Others-ebook/dp/B00E6EI9MC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377359193&sr=8-1&keywords=Significant+Others+Marilyn+Baron and will be released from The Wild Rose Press in paperback format November 29.

To find out more about Marilyn’s books and stories, visit her Web site at www.marilynbaron.com.

 

Caption: A drawing, by Marilyn’s niece Annika Goldman, of Marilyn’s father, George Meyers, a top turret gunner on a B-17 when he was stationed in England during WW II. He served as the model for the character Daniel in her latest book, Significant Others.

My second book of the month for August is Significant Others by Marilyn Baron (who will be appearing on this blog in a guest-writer capacity soon). Below is my review of her fantastic new romance offering. Should the review prove persuasive, you can purchase a copy from here: http://www.amazon.com/Significant-Others-ebook/dp/B00E6EI9MC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377269914&sr=8-1&keywords=Significant+Others+Marilyn+Baron

Significant Others CoverSignificant Others, by Marilyn Baron

Marilyn Baron’s compelling new novel is a grandstanding celebration of love in all its forms. Here, there is enough love for everyone, no matter how old they are, no matter how much they’ve given up on discovering love, a special one, for themselves. The plotting is intricate, the characters are engaging, the dialogue sparkling and witty. Indeed, after completing the novel, my first impression was that the book had something of the Shakespearean romance about it. Here we have an old love lost and found; we have miraculous twists of fate; we have sinister forces trying to stop love – the Seniors Against Sin. We have confusion and mixed motivations – those carefully managed plot twists I mentioned above – but, as in the best Shakespearean romances, all is resolved at the end.

In essence, this is a love story saga which spans three generations of the same family. We meet the matriarch, Dee Dee Palladino, who, on the anniversary of her husband’s death discovers a ‘Jesus Tree’ (in the manner that some people see Moses in a slice of toast) in the bark of a tree in her retirement village in Florida. Honey, her “workaholic” daughter (though she won’t admit it) hears of Dee Dee’s discovery and travels out from Atlanta, worried her mom might be ‘losing it’. Honey’s marriage is on the rocks: she suspects her husband Marc of conducting a sordid affair with his temp, and indeed, discovers what she believes to be the photographic proof. Then, finally, there is Honey’s daughter, Hannah. Hannah is a 21-year-old student. She is in a relationship with a Mormon boy (though his Facebook relationship status doesn’t confirm this) with commitment issues.

The main players are ably supported by a colourful supporting cast including Dee Dee’s sister Helene; Dee Dee’s son (and Honey’s half-brother) Donny, a baseball star, and Daniel, a mysterious, tall, dark and handsome stranger whose presence snags with something in Dee Dee’s memory. Has she, perhaps, met Daniel before? Is he, maybe, some blast from the past who can help restore order to her life?

There are plenty of family problems to overcome within the narrative, not least of which is the fact that the family business – real estate – has been lined up to be sold. They are on a deadline. But Honey loves working for the real estate company. It is her life. Dee Dee, by contrast, wants to sell the company because she wants a life.

This is a subtly magnificent read. It is poignant at times – witness the war letters; funny – Honey’s sardonic wit allows the reader a unique perspective on events – I particularly enjoyed her discussions with her best friend Vicky, she of the nightmare boss who has her de-seeding grapes for her; discursive – it positions itself well to discuss issues such as work-life balance, for example; even postmodern at times – the story offers a twist on the fairy tale – at one point Honey rescues a frog from a swimming pool, and thinks about kissing it to awaken her handsome prince.

But the main idea it posits is the fact there is a significant other for all of us, no matter how old we are. As long as we give love a chance. As long as we don’t drown it – muffle it out with all the bleeps and ringtones of modern life (Baron is excellent on Honey’s addiction to her BlackBerry). As long as we are prepared to put ourselves on the line for it.

41be95TRVeL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-69,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_Shouting into an Empty Cave is free for the whole of this Bank Holiday weekend from Amazon.

If you’re a UK reader, you can download a copy for free from here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shouting-into-Empty-Cave-ebook/dp/B00CK0G0KW

And if you’re a US reader, you can download your free copy from here: http://www.amazon.com/Shouting-into-Empty-Cave-ebook/dp/B00CK0G0KW

Shouting into an Empty Cave

Our heroine is a call-vetter on a local radio talk show. It is her job to weed out the ‘loonies’ in order that the Davie Kutch show is fit for air. Only, one day, she receives a call which shatters all of her illusions about her life, her family and her identity. ‘Shouting into an Empty Cave’ is a story of communication gone awry. It’s a story which considers how secrets and lies within a family can have such wide-reaching effects.