21 Mar 2016

Take one talented author from the Ukraine and an off the wall nut case

Hello my little chickadees

So then, enough about me for the minute as I am now going to introduce you to the multi talented Maria Kuroshchepova. If I had to take a stab at pronouncing her surname it would probably come out something like Ker - osh - chee - po - va. Right then, moving on. Maria is going to introduce herself and tell you all about her multi talented life style. How she has time to write books I have no idea.

Anyway, here she is. Quite mysterious me thinks..


So over to you Maria.

 Q. Tell me a bit about yourself:

A. I am originally from Zaporozhye, Ukraine. Came to the United States as an exchange student to study Mechanical Engineering. Somehow managed to acquire a few more career paths between then and now: in addition to being an engineer by education and a data analyst by trade, I also became a writer, translator, illustrator, beta reader, photographer, and amateur model.

Q. Where do you live: 

A. I live in a no-man’s land in the West North Carolina Mountains above Hendersonville, NC.

Q. Family/pets etc: 

A. My husband and I have six four-legged children – two cats and four dogs.

Q. What inspired you to start writing? 

A. It’s hard to tell – a combination of things, really. Growing up in Ukraine, storytelling and reading were essential parts of life. So, it was only natural for me, once I learned how to write at the age of seven, to start writing things down.

Also, my favorite aunt was married to a career officer, and they always lived somewhere far away. As soon as I knew how, I started exchanging letters with my cousins, and that was great fun.

At school, we had three sets of language classes – a language and a literature class for each of the three languages we were studying: Russian, Ukrainian, and English. There were lots of writing assignments – composition, interpretation, translation. So, all this sort of came very naturally as part of my upbringing and education. I tried writing science fiction and quit when I was fourteen because I realized my work at the time was poor imitation of my favorite authors. I picked it up again five or six years later, and it worked out much better this time around.

Q. Favourite authors and why. 

A. Too many to name. Asimov and Clarke because the science part of their sci fi was always so well-researched and intelligent. Heinlein – for his irreverence and humor. Alexander Kuprin and Alexander Grin – for their unabashedly romantic outlook on life. Ivan Yefremov for his optimism and faith in humanity. My favorite book of all times is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It’s just…. Insane… I love it.

Q. Books you’ve written. 

A. My first full-size book published in the US was Stories for Anastasia, which was actually a translation of a series of letters I’ve written to my niece Anastasia. She was very sickly as a child and spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals. I used to write her these long letters to entertain her.

My two other non-fiction publications are A Child in Translation – a set of autobiographical essays about growing up in Soviet Ukraine – and Paris Diaries – sort of a fun and irreverent look at one of my favorite places in the world.

I also have a series of short stories and novellas out there, some of them gathered in an anthology called Elemental Tales and Other Unusual Adventures. For Christmas 2015 I published a little stocking-stuffer format book – a futuristic fantasy Madam Enigma – my homage to my favorite operetta of all times, The Circus Princess by Emmericht Kahlmann.

Q. Work in progress.

A. Three translations: Faces of Hardship – an anthology by a Ukrainian writer Ivan Franko, Terra Phantasticum – an anthology by Alexander Grin, and The Air Merchant – a science fiction novel by Alexander Belyaev. A short story of my own A Mermaid’s Song. And a story/cookbook The Binge.

Q. What makes you giggle? 

A. Lots of things. Cute animals. Z Frank’s True Facts videos. Damn Your AutoCorrect posts. I am very fond of English humor. When I was a kid, my dad introduced me to Three Men in a Boat, and we used to read it together and laugh our heads off.

Q. Favourite TV program? 

A. We don’t have cable where we live, so we are not really “up” with what’s the latest on TV. I love a good mystery – we own the full 13-part DVD set of Agatha Christie’s Poirot with David Suchet (of course!) and Ms. Marple with Joan Hickson. My husband has been slowly introducing me to old American shows, so we’ve been watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents a lot. I LOVE Dr. Who.

Q. Any film that made you cry. 

A. It’s a long list. I am a very easy crier – both with books and with movies. I cried at least a bucket when I watched the last episode of Poirot with David Suchet. Neverending Story (yes, the Swamps of Sadness scene) – two buckets. The scene in Return of the King, where Pippin sings for the Steward of Gondor.

Q. Where do you write you books? 

A. In my head more often than not. I often carry the idea in my brain for months and then just sit down and get it out there. I have a little desk area at home, where I have my laptop set up, and that’s where the rest of the process happens – the writing, the typesetting, the cover design, etc.

Q. Do you prefer the quiet or do you have music when you write? 

A. It really depends on the mood and on what I’m writing. I wrote my Master Thesis listening to Beethoven’s symphonies and Bach’s piano concerti. When I was writing Madam Enigma, I had Emmericht Kahlmann’s music playing non-stop, because that was the inspiration for the story. Sometimes, if I go deep into science in the middle of the story, I turn everything off.

Q. Any tips on book promotion which work for you? 

A. Hootsuite. I love Hootsuite. I’ve been using it for five years now. It’s free up to five channels. I have an ad tracker I set up for myself, where I record what promo spots I have scheduled, where, and when. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter whether I promote my own work or the work of other writers and artists (which accounts for almost half of all my promos) – the more promos go out, the more I sell.

Q. You can choose an animal from any time frame to live with you what would you prefer? 

A. He-Man’s battle cat.

Q. You have the opportunity to be cast away on an island. Which part of the world would you choose and why? 

A. I am SO going to cheat here – Ile de la Cite in the middle of the Seine in the middle of Paris. Do I really need to explain why? ;-)

Q. You have an opportunity to open a FB publishing house. What would you call it and whom from your FB friends would you allocate jobs to? 

A. Tree Castle Publishing, because we call our house the Tree Castle. It’s like a giant tree house, and when you are there, all you can see out the windows are trees. I would appoint writer and PubRight Manuscript Services owner Diane Nelson Editor-in-Chief and librarian and editor Virginia Woods Roberts the Operations Manager. I’d be the Chief Accountant and Pickle Supplier.

Links to Maria's work:

Link to FB page:  

Book Covers:

So there you have it my little chickadees. I did say Maria was a very busy woman. Pop over to her FB page and say hello. The link is above. 

Oh go on then it's here as well -  https://www.facebook.com/maria.kuroshchepova   

Laters Potaters

20 Mar 2016

I'm a rebel

Hello my little chickadees. It's all about me today.

As I await my next victim for my blog (rubs hands together) I'll tell you about my short story.

Sleeping With The Gods at just under 13,000 words, was first published by Thorstruck Press as part of an anthology called Castle Drakon. Sadly they closed and this story has been in limbo since then. 
Being a rebel I'm having a crack at publishing this one myself. Once I've learnt all the tricks of the trade and purloined a bit of help here and there from a friend I'll put it out there.

The delightful book cover was made for me by graphic book cover designer Charlene Raddon. Here is her blog site: 

The covers are stunning and well worth a look. This to put it simply, is why I chose her to design my cover.

Now here's a small taster of the story.
                              SLEEPING WITH THE GODS

                        As above so is below …

 Maia stood at the entrance to the castle crypt convinced something was still alive in there. She surveyed the surroundings which in some ways reminded her of a temple. Her gaze took in the walls in a comforting shade of blue to the gold filigree of the pillars. The burial tombs were laid out in a side aisle. As Maia gazed up to the dome she noticed the huge black star edged with gold leaf, and could just make out the outline of a dragon. She began to relax and laughed at herself as she took a step inside.

Her vivid imagination began a journey as she watched the dragon stretched out across the star. Fluffy clouds came into view and Maia could almost feel the warmth from bright sunshine. She thought about golden goblets filled with warming liquid and platters of food from the Gods.
She had been brought up with her parent’s passion for Greek mythology, but for her the spirit world called and she read everything she could on the subject.

Maia’s family was accustomed to an opulent life by virtue of inherited money. Technically, this castle was no different to other homes they had around the world. However, on this occasion, her father had won it in a roulette game on the French Riviera.

The owner couldn’t really afford to lose it, but he’d placed a bet he couldn’t cover and the castle was his only option. He was matter of fact about it when her father won and, to save his pride, implied he was glad to be shot of it and its chequered history.

Her parents decided to move in at the end of the summer. If all went well, they would spend Christmas here. The castle possessed all the usual opulence of the exorbitantly wealthy, and her parent’s loved it instantly. Maia was indifferent and accustomed to their whims. After all, she and her elder sister Alcyone were named after the daughters of Atlas. She was thankful hers was Maia and not Electra, Taygete, Merope, Celaeno, or Sterope. Just imagine living with those monikers!

Maia was suddenly aware of the almost silent footsteps behind her. It was her sister, who took a childlike pleasure in trying to frighten her. Well, she would not react and without turning said, 

“Hi, Alcy, I didn’t expect you to join me. I thought you’d be up to your eyes sorting out all your things.”

“I hate it! Whatever possessed our folks to spend time in this cold hellhole? Bavaria of all places, and we were having such a wonderful time on the French Riviera. I just loved Monte-Carlo. All those gorgeous studs to pick from.” She sighed dramatically.

Maia looked at her sister for the millionth time. She was only a year older, but they were chalk and cheese. Whilst Alcy busily searched for the next male conquest wealth bought easily, Maia looked for her next food fix. Her sister was the stereotypical English rose size twelve, whilst Maia was nearly fourteen stone. Overhearing her parents discussing their ‘mistake’ in having two children hadn’t helped.

“Oh, I love it here Alcy. Yes, it’s a bit chilly with the stone walls, but we have roaring fires for warmth and the atmosphere is awesome.”

“Everything is awesome to you fats, even the bad plumbing. How many times have we wanted a hot bath in the last couple of days only to find the water lukewarm? I’ll just die do you hear me? I’ll just die.”

“Stop being a drama queen sis, it’s not that bad. We’ve only been here a few days. Even this crypt has its own sort of charm. Look at the colouring around you and just soak up the atmosphere.”

“You’re macabre, fats. How can you call this … this … mausoleum of a place, atmospheric? Yuk” She finished with a wave of her hand indicating everything in sight.

“I find it quite comforting now I've got used to it,” Maia said quietly.

“You wouldn’t want to spend the night here though, would you?” Alcy had a challenge to her tone

“It can’t be that bad.” Maia considered the possibilities of it.

“Right then, I challenge you to spend the night here on Halloween which is coming up at the end of the week. If you spend a full night here, I will give you £5000 from my savings. If you chicken out at any time during the night, then you will owe me £5000 from yours. Is that agreed?”

“Er …”

“Clucking already? You would spook anything here, ugly bug.” Alcy grinned.

“Not at all, sis. I was thinking of making it £10 000, if you agree.”

“Really? Wow, okay then, it’s a deal.”

They turned to leave, but before she did so, Maia paid her respects to all who resided, both living  and dead. For a moment the hairs raised on her arms; excitement or fear she wasn't sure but All Hallows Eve was definitely going to be a night to remember.
 © TKGeering 20/03/16

So there you have it my little chickadees. I shall be smothering FaceBook with it as soon as it's published. Begging, annoying, hustling, for shares because I have no shame :-)

Laters Potaters

15 Mar 2016

My little Welsh stud muffin

Hello my little chickadees

Soon we will be putting the clock forward to one of favourite times of the year. I can't wait to feel that warm sun on my face again. We've waited so long.

Talking of favourite things, today on my blog I have that little Welsh stud muffin C Reg Jones. We have been treading the boards together since I got him in a head lock and persuaded him to follow me to what was then my current publisher. We've been almost like tram lines at times, but when the tram lines started to meet we'd have a quick catch up and then carry on our way.

It didn't take much doing getting him in a headlock this time to be interviewed thank goodness. So this was the catch up we had recently.


Reggie babes I reckon we must know everything there is to know about each other but I bet there’s a few tales tucked away that even I’m not privy too.

So here we go…

Q.  Tell my blog fans all about C Reg Jones – and yes you can say that.

A.  C Reg Jones, also known as Richard Rhys Jones, hails from the sunny shores of Colwyn Bay, north Wales, is hanging in on the right side of fifty, married with two children, and is owned by a cat. A passionate lover of ales and beers, hard music and even harder curries and chili, he spends his middle ages trying and failing to recapture his laughably rash and nearly forgotten youth.

Q.  Hobbies – No sneaking in outrageous videos here but you can mention that time when you… ??? J

A. Being the tragic victim of the male menopause that I am, I play the drums in a Metal band, (Thrash and Hardcore orientated for anyone in the know). I've been playing the drums now since May '93, and went from Rock, to Metal, to Blues and then back to Metal. The Blues band was cool, but it didn't really challenge me. I won't say Blues drumming is easy, but I used to get whammed while playing on stage quite a lot. I liked the music, I liked the guys, but it was just missing something besides controlling my insobriety on stage.
Not very professional, I hear you mutter? We weren't professionals, so it was all good. So after giving the drums a miss for about a year, I fell in with a Metal band and that's where I am right now: the drummer for Due Vengeance. Unfortunately, with Metal I can't even drink while we practice as I have to concentrate so much, but we take the cards we're dealt and play our best hand, right?
I've been very lucky with the groups I've been involved with. All have been manned by great guys who shared my quirky sense of humor; and that is worth its weight in gold… though I'm not actually sure how much a sense of humor weighs, if I'm honest.

Tee: < Grins > Your sense of humour I'd guesstimate at about 50 kilo 

Q.  Favourite drinking house in Germany and Wales

A.  Aaaaah… pubs!
I have a few faves over here.
In Salzgitter, it's the "Jever-Klause", in Wolfenbüttel, "Zur Mühle", and in Paderborn it's "Limericks", (The Irish bar from Hell). The Jever-Klause is a real traditional pub, very friendly service, damn fine German pils, (Jever, one of the best) and a good bunch of regulars.
Zum Mühle is the pub where I first learned to drink German beer, though in those days of yore, to us young squaddies it was simply called, "The Bierhaus". I've been going there on and off since 1987, and the chap who runs it now is a good friend. They also sell Guinness…
Limericks in Paderborn… well, I have no words. My mate Gareth runs it, and I think it holds the title as being my most fave watering hole in the world. Another pub that serves Guinness, I can't count how many times I've gone there for, "just the one or two", and it's all gone horribly wrong, or right depending on what day it was. They celebrated their 20th year in business last year, which speaks volumes for its popularity.
Wales, however, is another thing entirely. Being normally only a visitor, I tend to drift to the bars my family frequent. I miss my home town, but I'd be telling porkies if I said I had a favourite watering hole there.

Q.  The village you live in.

A.  Drütter has a population of about 450, (that includes wild cats and chickens). It's small but perfectly situated between the three larger towns around it. We don't have a pub, (!!!) but we do have a village hall where we all party and meet up. I love it here. It's so quiet, the people are friendly and the night life a bus ride away.
Of course the downside is that we're in the country, so incest, bestiality and witch trials are de rigueur, but otherwise it's pretty cool.

Tee:  Incest, bestiality and witch trials? All sounds good to me sunshine.

Q.  Is it possible to compare Germany to Wales – Good bits/bad bits of both countries?

A.  A lot of my Brit mates might not want to read this, and a lot of my German mates too, but we really are very similar. The German sense of humour is just as sick and twisted as the British idea of a laugh.
If I have a beef about Germany it's the lack of Rugby on the telly.
That really does gall me.

Q.  How many books have you written? Backgrounds/synopsis’s

A.  I have four novels and a novellette out there with my name on. "The Division of the Damned" is about vampires working for the Third Reich.
"The House in Wales" is a ghost story with satanic edges to it, set in north Wales.
"Sisterhood of the Serpent" is … well, if you can imagine a cross between The Towering Inferno, The Shining and Hellraiser, you'll be in the right zone.
I also have my name to an anthology of short stories called, "The Chronicles of Supernatural Warfare", which puts a paranormal twist to what would normally be war stories. I made it with my mate Paul Rudd, and it's released through Ravenous Roadkill publications. "Chronicles" is the product of a certain individual's idea of collecting my shorts into one book, can't remember who it was though…  Paul loved the idea and now it's actually out there!
Ah yes, Tee, I do believe it was you who planted the seed of the idea. So how do you feel about that?
The novelette, (stupid word) is the, "Fiddler's Soul". It's also set in north Wales, and revolves around a group of psychics who want to save the soul of a fiddler who was last seen entering The Devil's Cave… (cue scary music).

Q.  Are you Reggie-mented in your writing habits or is it just when the muse takes you?

A.  I'm a shift working father; I have no time to write so I just do it when I can. I really do wish I had the free time to just write when the mood takes me.
That's an awful pun by the way, Tee.

Tee: I do try honey.

Q.  Self Publishing v Publishers. What are the highs/lows/advantages of both?

A.  I think I prefer a publisher to work my books for me. I really am rushed off my feet and find it hard to just do the writing. That said, Ravenous Roadkill, the publishing project Chronicles and Sisterhood are released on, is just myself and Paul at the moment. We sort of check each other's work out, run through ideas with each other and squabble horribly over royalties and book rights, (just joshing there).
Seriously though, it's a good set up with a bloke I know I can trust and rely on.
Truth be told, whether it's self publishing or with a publisher, I'm just glad my stuff is out there being read.

Q.  Is there a work in progress at the moment?

A.  "The Division of the Damned part Two: Gulag" is my work in progress. Basically it's set just after WW2 and the SS heroes, (yes, that's right, the heroes in the first book were SS, all be it disillusioned anti-heroes) are now in a Russian POW camp. I don't want to go too much into the story, so I'll just say werewolves and leave it at that.

Q.  Favourite place to holiday J

A.  Holiday… and that is, exactly?
I always go home to see my family. I'd like to go to Egypt and see the Pyramids some day, and Rome and Greece interest me too. I'd also love to see the ruins of Troy. However, until my kids can pay their way and my house is paid up, then it's good old, Old Colwyn for me, (the town just outside of the sprawling metropolis that is Colwyn Bay), which suits me fine.

Tee: Greece is awesome. I can recommend it.

Q.  You are given the opportunity to travel to any country world wide, with all expenses paid. Where would you go and what’s the attraction.

A.  Oh, it seems I've just answered this one!

Tell you what, I'll throw in the Yucatan area for the ruins there. The Maya, Toltec, Olmec, Aztec and Inca have always fascinated me.

Can I take my wife, the kids can stay with granny…?

Tee: < sighs > Yes of course the kids can stay with the granny. Ok... the wife can go as well. 

Q.  What makes you laugh out loud?

A.  Most things, to be fair.

I'm not really a lover of slapstick, Mr. Bean is funny for about three minutes, then I'm bored. However, I laugh easily and prefer smiling to a scowl.
If you want to peg me down, I'd say series like The Office and Extras had me in tears. The scene with David Bowie in Extras is a lesson in comedy in itself.

Q.  If you could have any animal from time immemorial as a pet for long freezing days and nights, what would you choose and why?

A.  A cat.
Sorry if that's boring, but I love cats. They're so shamelessly self interested, nothing else in the world matters but their comfort, I can't fault them.
However, if I'm meant to be interesting here, (Yes Reg, you are) then I'd go for a dolphin. Yes, I know they're meant to be gay sharks, but they're meant to have human intelligence so with a bit of training, I might make it my proof reader.

Tee: I would choose a cat every time and we don't seem to be alone.

Q.  Do you prefer heat OR cold?

A.  Cold.
No, scrap that, heat.
Yes, defo heat.
Naaaah, cold.

Tee: LOL and I get called indesisive at times

Q.  Tell me about your publishers. Do they leave you alone to promote or do they hassle. Do they give you support?

A. Wild Wolf hold the rights to two of my books, and I must say that I love working with them. They're so relaxed and real, it works for me! I think they know that Division and House have both shot their bolt and are just treading water, so they don't stress me and I don't stress them.

Q.  Favourite meal (hot and cold)?

A.  Curry, (which is about as general a moniker as saying coupe for favourite car) or chili.
I love Indian food… actually I love most food. Not really into vegetarian stuff, and I prefer my meat to come from creatures with less than four legs, but if it's spicy and cooked, I'll try it, (within reason).

Q.  Favourite drink (hot and cold)?

A.  Real Ale. Room temperature, with no froth, and a slightly nutty taste is alcoholic perfection. There's a lot of rubbish being sold as Real Ale nowadays, it seems any old Tom, Dick or Harry can set up a brewery in their garage and churn out gloop for their local, so I generally stick with what I know. I'm 49, I'm done with experimenting, I know what I like and that'll do me.

Q.  How hard do you find book promotion?

A.  Very. I simply don't have the time anymore. However, I do share every review I have, and I have been known to make the odd promo now and then to sell my wares.

Q.  Any tips or hints you’ve found that were successful for you in promotion?

A.  Nope. When all you have is social media, then your coverage is going to be small. However, if you can persuade people to write reviews, Amazon will take notice and they'll then help promote your work as well. This is why I'd prefer to give books away in exchange for reviews than hoard my work and demand payment for every syllable.

Q.  Favourite genres to read and write?

A.  Horror, historical and warfare, but not necessarily in that order.
The first two stories in The Chronicles of Supernatural Warfare are "The 300 Vampires" and "The Wooden Wolf of Troy", and I absolutely LOVED writing them.
300 Vampires is a take on the battle of Thermopylae with King Leonidas and his men all being vampires. Yes it is very stylized, and yes the geography of the battle area is different to where it actually played out. However, I stayed close to that authentic time line of what happened,( or as far as we know it today), and used the genuine names of the characters that were in charge. The same went for "The Wooden Wolf of Troy", though I changed the story a little to keep an edge of surprise. Actual history with a horror twist, using the names and dates that we recognize is what I'd like to do more of. I have an idea for Spartacus, which I've already 10.000 words down for, and another about Vikings discovering America, although that has an angle to it that I guarantee nobody will ever work out.

Q.  You’ve set up your own fantasy publishing house using FB writer friends to help run it. What would you name it? Who would you choose to run the different departments? As the owner, how would you ensure the FB staff achieved success for you? (Have fun with this)

A.  Colwyn Pub Carnage Publications

El Presidente: Moi.

Vice president: Paul Rudd, in charge of hiring and firing. Paul's such a top bloke, he'd hire everyone we know. .. which is fine by me. The Christmas party would be a smash!

Chief Wiccan: Tee. You're duties would involve cursing the competition and basically being our own Harry Potter… or Hermione.

Tee: I've never read HP but I understand he's out of the top drawer of the filing cabinet. 

Speller in Chiefs: Poppet and Kris Stone. We need two editors, because let's face it, we're carp at spelling. (See what I did there?)

Tee: Yes... < more sighs >

Directors of Comedic Content: Mike Church and Patrick Barrett. Again, the need for more than one boss is imperative as I find it's all too easy to lose that smile at the work place, (especially with such an ego driven President like you guys will have!)

Controllers of Financial Fair Play: John Holt and Jeff Blackmer. With these two on board, we'll all be guaranteed a fair share of our astronomical profits, (well, that obviously doesn't include El Presidente, who takes the lion's share).

Instigators of Tomfoolery and Other Questionable Shenanigans: Chuck Lovatt and Johannah Pontes Frappier would have joint control over any japery we might find ourselves up to. It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye, which is why we have to be sure we've enough spare eyeballs. This is where these two guardians of all things ocular come into play, dishing out corneas, pupils and irises as needed… I'm being silly now, aren't I?
I'll stop.

Office Cuties: Jill, Hannah, Jo, Soooz, Elaina, Paula B, Bev, Moni, Kelli, Catherine and Gerry, because they've all a place in my heart and they'll need a job… and I'm a sucker for a good woman.

Thanks for having me, Tee, I hope your readers enjoyed this interview.

Tee: Thank you for popping by my lovely piece of Welsh lamb...

Reggie babes links:

Book Covers:

So there you have it my little chickadees. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Reggie babes.

Laters Potaters