20 November 2017 - THE SCARIEST HOUSE IN BELARUS


THE SCARIEST 
HOUSE IN BELARUS

G'day folks,

Have you got some weird neighbours? Well, check out this scary house in Belarus.

In the town of Ratomka, five kilometers from the Belorussian capital of Minsk, there is a house so spooky that some people try to avoid walking past it at all costs, especially at night. With skeletal hands coming out of the stone fence, devils decorating the roof and dozens of black skulls covering a domed structure on the property, the scariest house in Belarus is definitely a sight to behold.




Photos of the spooky house in Ratomka recently went viral in Belarus, with most people praising the owner for the bold artistic design. However, the only reason that the house even became famous in the first place was because people living in its vicinity had been complaining that it is too spooky. Some of them even filed complaints to the local authorities about it, claiming that the devils and skulls were scaring children and even adults walking by after dark, but they haven’t done anything about it yet.




 “I photographed the house with my phone, to show it to colleagues at work, and then I deleted the photos because I didn’t want such devils in my phone’s memory,” Ratomka resident Maria Nikolaevna said. “From the distance, the house looked pretty, my granddaughter even compared it to a fairytale castle. But when we got closer and saw the hands coming out of the fence, and the devils on the roof, I was shocked. Now I don’t walk my granddaughter by that house anymore. At night, it’s scary even for adults, as the light reflects off those little metal devils and they look even creepier.”



One of the next-door neighbors of the house also complained that the view was horrible, with all those devils dotting the roofs, and the spooky black skulls covering the domed roof of a smaller structure resembling a crypt. He even noticed that one of the devil sculptures seems to be aiming a bow directly at his window, which makes him uneasy.




Neighbors say that the owner of the house is actually just an ordinary businessman. He started building the house a decade ago, but then went away for eight years and only cam back 2 years ago and resumed work on it. Now it’s almost finished, and people are scared he might add even more spooky elements to it before he’s done.




Like it or not, you have to agree that the decor may actually prove to be an excellent deterrent against thieves, especially if they’re the superstitious type. I would definitely think twice before going into a place like that at night.









Clancy's comment: Mm ... Not my cup of tea. What about you?

I'm ...






 

19 November 2017 - MOVING PICTURES


MOVING PICTURES


G'day folks,

Welcome to some more of those moving pictures. 

















































Clancy's comment: I love the lightning and storms.

I'm ...

















18 November 2017 - PATRICK PARKER - GUEST AUTHOR





PATRICK PARKER 
- GUEST AUTHOR -

G'day folks,

Today I interview a charming author from Texas.

Welcome, Patrick ...


1.           TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF.

I grew up in a small town, near Tulsa, Oklahoma. I earned a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in international relations. I had a successful career in the US Army and spent six years in Europe—five years in Italy and one year in Germany. After retiring from the military, I worked an additional fifteen years in the defense industry. Now retired again, I am writing fulltime. I enjoy scuba diving, sailing, going to the beach and gun range. I currently live in Texas.

My three books to date are, Six Minutes Early, War Merchant, and Treasures of the Fourth Reich. Currently, I’m working on my fourth book and hope to have it finished soon. All of my books are available on Amazon.com.  

2.           HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?

It was because of a challenge. I was traveling a lot and I would usually pick up a book to read on the plane. After two books in a row, I complained to my wife how poorly the books were written with various errors. They were published by big name, traditional publishing houses. When I said I could write a better book, she said, “Well do it.” I wrote Treasures of the Fourth Reich. I had fun writing it and achieved my goal.

With the success of my first book, I decided to write War Merchant. It turned out great and next I wrote Six Minutes Early. All three have received four and five star reviews.

3.           WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?

The first thing is the idea. If it is something I’m interested in enough to work on for the time it takes to write a book, usually a year or so, I will go on to the next step. I proceed to explore it and then come up with an ending. With the idea (situation) and ending, I then work backwards to get a rough idea of how to get to the end. What must happen, what type of characters are needed to get to the ending. Everything along the way must be believable. Usually, I take something from history, something that really happened and go from there. For example, in Treasures of the Fourth Reich, that story was based on the true Nazi looting of Europe and what could have happened forty-five to fifty years later. The book I’m writing now is about what could have happened during the 2016 presidential election and the attempted coup d’état in Turkey.

I don’t really plan everything out but capture the points that will get to the end. Usually, the characters take control and write the story. I just get out of the way.
I have tried to plan everything out but it just doesn’t work for me, or the characters. Many times when I’m out on my morning walk, a character will grab on to me and tell me what is going to happen.

I do research before and while I’m writing. It could be about a character, place, or event. I try to write so that the reader is constantly asking, “What is real and what is fiction?”

4.   WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

When someone says, “Wow! That was good. I couldn’t put it down.”
When someone buys a book, they are committed to spending time with the author. I want their time well spent. They expect suspense, realism, and to be entertained. When they tell me I gave them what they wanted, that is it. I’m satisfied!

5.           WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

I think it is not getting distracted and having confidence in yourself. Some people will want to shoot you down for any number of reasons. If you believe in yourself and don’t give up, you will succeed. One other thing, you must get out of the way of the characters!

6.           WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?

As I mentioned in the first question, I was a career US Army officer and then worked in the defense industry. I travelled around the world and met many interesting people. I draw on those experiences for my writing to come up with great characters in intriguing locations, and suspenseful stories.

7.           WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?

I would have to say that it is getting three very good books published. The greatest is yet to come. I do, however, think that each successive book is better than the one before it. That’s the way it should be.



8.   WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT? WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?

I write fast-paced suspense thrillers. They’re fun and exciting.

I’m working on a suspense book that has actually turned out to be a sequel to Six Minutes Early. I didn’t originally plan it that way, the characters did it. At the height of the 2016 presidential election, an attempted coup d’état happened in Turkey. Chaos and turmoil was the norm in the US. The election was full of corruption, dirty tricks and shenanigans. Internationally the US and lame duck president were not respected. So, I took the situation and came up with the idea.

The story is full of suspense, corrupt politicians, murder, treason, terrorists, and all the other makings of a great story. Keep watching for it.   

9.           WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

A lot of things. People, events, and history. Usually, something happens and that has a relationship to something else. I take a “what if” approach. That gets me going.

10.       DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?

Yes, keep writing and learn from your mistakes. Join a good writers group—one that takes writing seriously and will give honest and specific feedback. Don’t give up.

11.       DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?

Not really. If I’m stuck, I go for a walk. My head clears and ideas flow in. I just open the door and the characters join me. I generally walk about 3.5 miles each morning. I do it for health and to keep my mind clear.

12.       DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?

I prefer to write in the morning. Usually, I write five days a week. My mind is fresh and I’m ready to go. I can’t really write at the end of the day or when I’m tired.

13.       DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?

Yes, I have my desk in the front of the house by a big window. I can turn on the music and escape into my writing world. 

14.       WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?

I guess knowing that I have produced a quality product. I get lots of feedback on how much readers enjoy my books. I keep them on the edge of their seat and trying to guess what is going to happen next. They enjoy the ride.

I work diligently in trying to get the details right and making it as believable as possible. My writers group keeps telling me that they will miss me when I am carted off and placed in the Witness Protection Program. Some of the story lines are that real.



15.       WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?

I was inspired by several authors. Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum, John le Carré, and of course, Tom Clancy. The most favourite is a difficult decision. They are all great suspense storytellers. I like their style and their topics.

16.       WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?

When someone tells me, they couldn’t put it down and stayed up late at night on the edge of their seat. I get a lot of great compliments from my readers. When they are happy, I’m happy. The readers are the ones that count.

17.       WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?

I think it was by one reader that read, Treasures of the Fourth Reich. She commented that she felt it would have been better if it were just about one piece of art. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking. The title is Treasures—plural. In the description it says, … the hunt for Europe's lost art falls to a husband and wife team who become entangled in this web of stolen treasures. Dix and Maria Connor face down a secret and deadly network trafficking in Titians, Bruegels and remnants of Peter the Great's magnificent Amber Room. Plural.

So, I don’t know what she expected.

18.       WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?

Yes. I draw from my military and corporate experience. I know most about those things. I am also fascinated by current events—political and international. An author just can’t make up some of these things.

19.       OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?

My family, of course. Having fun, travel, the beach, and those things I mentioned previously. Best described as life.

20.       DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?

Yes. That’s part of the process. I will write a chapter, then my wife will read it and make suggestions. I re-write it and then take it to my writers group. They read it and critique it with suggestions. I make the corrections and when the entire manuscript is finished, I send it to a beta reader I trust. He makes his suggestions and then I work on those. After all of this is completed, several sharp and critical eyes have seen it. Then I’m ready to send it to an editor. The editor gets a very good manuscript, which usually goes through two rounds of editing.

21.       DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY

My idea of a “perfect day” is going for a walk, then having coffee while doing some marketing, then breakfast, and a shower. I write uninterrupted until lunch. After lunch, back to uninterrupted writing until about five or six in the evening. However, I’m still striving for this “perfect day.” Something always happens during the day that keeps me from it. There are phone calls, unexpected events, haircuts, mowing the grass, running an errand, and etcetera. I am a normal person with a normal life. I don’t think there is a perfect day. Some days tend to be better than others. At least I have my vision of a perfect day. 

22.       IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?

Well, most guys, I think, would probably say someone like Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, or Cate Blanchett. However, that could have different problems. I, on the other hand, would want to be stranded with someone like Dydre Rowyn, my protagonist in War Merchant or even Max Kenworth, the protagonist in Six Minutes Early. Both are resourceful, smart, cunning, and deadly. These skills would be a necessity for survival, if one were stuck on a desert island. Especially, if faced with marauding natives or bad guys. It might be nice to have the company of an attractive female companion, so Dydre would be a good choice. However, my wife might get jealous or Dydre might begin to think of me as a loose end, and get rid of me. That leaves Max. However, Dydre is a woman and better looking. That is a very tough question. A lot of things to consider. How long would I be on the island? Does it have internet? Perhaps I shouldn’t be stuck on a desert island.



23.       WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?

How much time do I have for an answer? Stop the corruption, petty bickering, and quest for dominance. We all live on earth and we all came into this world the same way. No one person is any better than the next. Everyone wants to live in peace. Accept the fact that there are cultural and religious differences. No culture or religion is any better or worse than the other.

24.       WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

Finish the book I’m working on and publish it. Start a new book. Probably should squeeze in a vacation or two in there.

25.        WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?

I haven’t decided yet. If someone is looking to buy a book and isn’t familiar with the author or the book, they may not take the time to watch the trailer. I think the reviews by other readers are more important. If the cover of the book, description, and review are good, the buyer may not bother with a trailer. Then if they do watch the trailer and it’s not good, you could lose a sale. I think most buyers look at the description, the reviews, and possibly the cover (of an unknown book or author) then make a decision.

26.       DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?

Yes, I think most authors do that. Maybe not the entire character but portions, traits, habits, or features. I think that’s common.

27.       DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?

Yes, somewhat. However, I do think it is improving. Amazon has caused a lot of changes for the better. Self-publishing has come into prominence. In the past, it was very difficult to get published, through a traditional publisher, as a new author. The process was very lengthy, usually taking a couple of years, or more, to get a book published. It was frustrating with a lot of ups and downs along the way.

Although Amazon has streamlined the process and made it easier to be published, they still have standards. They will de-list a title if it is full of errors and continuously gets bad reviews. That’s a good thing. I like how the readers’ reviews are published on the book pages for a buyer to see what others thought of a book.

I am not familiar with the other self-publishing sites but hope they are following Amazon’s lead in providing services and maintaining quality standards. Many good authors are switching to self-publishing which is having an impact on the traditional publishers. A lot of great books are self-published.

My biggest frustration with a self-published title is that the big chain stores are very reluctant to stock a self-published book. It boils down to economics. If a title doesn’t sell, they can’t return the books. However, they will list them on their webpage.

28.       DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?

No, I’m not a quitter. When I decide to write a book, I finish it. It is a lot of work and takes time. It makes it all worthwhile when my readers tell me they liked one of my books.

29.       WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?

Hmmm. Good question. That’s like asking a parent which child he or she likes the best. Each child is different and you love them. Manuscripts are the same—they are different and you love them all. Each of my books tell a different story.

War Merchant was a lot of fun to write and it had a few challenges. It has a female, kick-ass protagonist. I wrote it with a woman’s perspective. A lot of women have read it and loved it.

Six Minutes Early is a story that could happen.

Treasures of the Fourth Reich, although fiction, is based on true events that happened at the end of WWII.

30.        HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER?

Consistently writing well-written books. If a reader says, “That’s a good author. He/she writes a very good book.” The reader is the one that counts.



31.       WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?

They should feel satisfied that their time was well spent. I want a reader to ask, “What was real and what was fiction?” My goal is to entertain them. I want the reader to walk away knowing that I write a good book and that I have worked hard to eliminate errors. The next time they buy one of my books, they know it will be a great ride!

32.       WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?

Yes, I would like to have my books made into movies. That would be fun. I hope I could be part of the process in making the book come to life on the screen.

No, I have not written a screenplay.

33.       HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?

A lot. I want the cover to capture the essence of the story, look good, and be eye-catching. I want the designer to come up with the idea from the story. I want them to design what the story said to them. I discuss the different samples with the designer—pros and cons. I make the final decision. I do get input from my writers group and others. It is always a tough decision and I agonized over it for a number of days.

I take into consideration things such as, how well it shows up as a thumbnail on the web, the font, title placement, eye-catching, colors, author’s name placement, readability of the title, cover finish, and things like that.

There are many things to consider and it takes time.

34.       WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?

Have all the books I write made into movies.

35.         WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?

It is a never-ending process and something you must do. Even if you are traditionally published, you still must do it. It is up to you. You must do it daily and through various means. I do suggest that authors be careful in spending their time and money wisely. Beware of those that tell you they can make you rich and famous. Or that their process is unique, the latest thing out. They are just out to get you signed up. You can go broke in a hurry. I think you should take the long-term approach. There is no such thing as get rich and famous quick.

The common thing I have read from well-known and very successful authors is to write good books, and keep writing. If a reader likes your book, they will want to read another and another. Focus long term.

36.        ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?

Yes. My first book was traditionally published. As soon as the publisher recouped his money from the advance, he seemed to lose interest. I was doing the work and he was making the money. Many of the things he promised never happened. When my contract was up I self-published that book. I self-published my other two and will probably do the same with the one I’m writing now. I’m doing the work and making the money.

I think this is a common theme with publishers. There are exceptions.

37.       DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.

Tenacious, detail-orientated, caring, considerate, dedicated.


38.       WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?

A person that is, incompetent, arrogant, condescending, or just won’t try.

39.       WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John le Carré. Yes, it was a good one.

40.        WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?

The end.




41.        WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?

Hmmm. Good one. Can we go back to the desert island?

I’m a pretty happy and content person. I’ve been around the world, lived in Europe, and done a lot of neat things. I would like to go to Australia and possibly the Congo and South Africa. I don’t think it would make me any happier but it would be interesting to see those places.

I’ll just keep writing and hope for a movie. Perhaps one day I will get invited to Australia.

42.        ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?

I can’t think of anything else to add. This has been thorough.

Thank you for interviewing me. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. I would love to hear from your readers and get their comments about my books.








Clancy's comment: Thanks, Patrick. Hey, a very good answer to question 23. Mm ... Your answer to question 22 includes two Aussie women. Like your style. Love ya work!

I'm ...