Category Archives: guest blogger

Sensual Cards by Luna Ballantyne

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INTRODUCTION

Relationships take work… whether you have been together for two months or twenty years, keeping the magic alive requires effort and more than a little bit of imagination! Sexy little surprises can add that extra sparkle and are a wonderful way to keep your partner ‘on their toes’ … and what better time than their Birthday or Christmas?

Introducing Sensual Cards by Luna Ballantyne

A brand new collection of sensually inspired cards that is sure to add that extra bit of spice to a special occasion! Within the range we have also included a naughty Booty Call Card – perfect for making date nights even more memorable and keeping the romance alive.

This brand new collection will be available to order from 4 January 2016 and will include a unique Valentine’s Day card that is sure to have hearts racing!

Contact Ingrid@luv2write.net to claim your free sample.

www.sensualcards.net

CARD IMAGES AND GREETINGS:
CHRISTMAS

xmas101

CARD IMAGES AND GREETINGS
BIRTHDAY

bday

CARD IMAGES AND GREETINGS
BOOTY CALL

booty

ABOUT LUNA BALLANTYNE
Novelist and entrepreneur

Residing in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, Luna is very proud of her Geordie roots. There is always something happening there and with its vibrancy and character it suits her personality perfectly!

A firm believer in female empowerment, Luna sets out to write books and develop products that shine the light on women as strong individuals who know what they want and how to ask for it. This is never truer than when it comes to the subject of sex which is why she has chosen this as her niche!

Inspired by strong female writers who dare to push the boundaries of erotic fiction – women such as Anne Rice and Nancy Friday, Luna is looking to make her own mark; both with her Sensual Liaisons Series and her soon to be launched Sensual Cards collection.

For those who dare to recognize and embrace their sexuality – Luna Ballantyne is very pleased to meet you!

SENSUAL LIAISONS SERIES
Freedom

After spending years trapped in a soul-less marriage, Zara Cockburn is ready for anything … but was she really ready for Max and his “special” request?

Max, the most exciting and dangerous man she has ever set eyes upon. Sinfully good-looking and with a seductive charm that leaves her breathless.

freedom

One things for certain;
her life will never be the same again.

A sensual historical romance like you have never read before, delivered through a series of deliciously addictive novels.

(Contains sexual content of an explicit nature)

Available to purchase at Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OKVZO2O/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

Guest Post from Gia Volterra de Saulnier

Starting Out As a Writer – 5 Things You Should Know
From a Musician’s point of view for Grey Wolf’s Blog post

I never intended on being a writer. Never in a million years would I have thought that I of all people that I know and have met in my lifetime would ever become a writer. It’s not to say that I’m not a good writer. I studied English and English Literature and read fantastic writers of classics and not so classic books (yeah, I like reading a great Romance Novel now and again). I even wrote some poetry back in High School and College and some of it was rather good too. I just never had the confidence of anyone actually reading my work(s) and telling me it was really good.

It wasn’t until I got on LiveJournal http://www.livejournal.com which is a free site to join (but now I’m no longer involved), that I really started to venture into writing short fictional pieces that folks I didn’t know read and gave me grammatical editorial advice.

I was more of a musician. I love to be in front of an audience and just be able to communicate my music if it’s jazz or just performing live in a Renaissance Festival that people come up to me and say, hey, that was really great or that they really enjoyed it. It’s that automatic reaction that I just get a great kick out of.

Writing is very different. Now, I’ve been really lucky to get my picture book (that I never thought I would get published) and here are the 5 things that every writer should know.

1. EDIT: Once you have finished writing your piece, be it a short piece of fiction or a novel; be sure that you EDIT the piece for grammar and spelling. Word is NOT going to double check if you misspell a word that is automatically another word. For instance if I wrote WORLD instead of WORD then Word is NOT going to pick that up. Even after you have EDITED the piece, be sure that someone else you love/respect reads your piece. They will then give you feedback on your piece. Try not to get offended of their opinion. They are there to help you with your writing and your ability to get the work printed/published.

2. RESEARCH: Review Publishing Houses or Magazines that you really want to have your piece in. Does your piece make sense for that said Publishing House or Magazine? I’m pretty sure that Fiction Fantasy is so very different from Science Fiction (for an example). I am not sure they want your poetry on love and kids. Be sure you know who your audience is.

3. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE: Which brings up a great point here – who IS your audience? In my case with my picture book Journey to Jazzland, this is for kids who like music or who want to learn more about jazz. That’s my audience. Also, my audience is parents who enjoy listening to jazz or folks who are jazz musicians.

4. WRITE MORE!!! Yeah, I’ve been learning this lately. So you published a book – so what? You need to get your work out there to other audiences so I’ve been lucky to keep writing articles, blog posts and now my short fiction and get it published in other papers and magazines and guess what? My book is now featured all over the World and in UK!

5. PLUG: Promote, Promote, PROMOTE!!! I can’t stress this enough! Once you have written your work or have it published you need to be the one to promote the piece! I will even help promote you if you are a writer – why? This is because it’s a win- win situation– you help promote me too by doing that – go check out #IndieBooksBeSeen on Twitter or Facebook (http://www.indiebooksbeseen.com). I’ve actually created a fan page called Promoting Picture Books http://www.facebook.com/promotingpicturebooks to help promote other picture book authors and illustrators out. So far, I’ve gotten a great response.

The Highs and Lows of Being an Indie Author

by Ingrid Hall

I have always known that I was meant to be a writer. It was the one thing that I dreamed of doing as a child, and it probably stems in part from the fact that I grew up in a household where my mother went out to work part time as a cleaner and my father who had several physical disabilities stayed home and wrote.

Ingrid Hall author The Tunnel Betwixt by Ingrid Hall

So, you could say that writing is in my genes. From the age of four or five I would watch in fascination as my father paced our tiny house, cursing and muttering to himself as he wrestled with the many ideas that were flitting through his head as well as the many injustices of the world. Before finally settling when I was about nine or ten on a biography about the crusading Victorian journalist, W.T Stead. Because we only had a two bedroomed house, and didn’t have the luxury of a dining room or indeed anywhere really where my father could set up a proper writing space then he would just sit himself down in the nearest comfortable seat and before long balls of scrunched up, discarded notepaper would be bouncing around the room.

Dad worked on that one manuscript for the best part of thirty years. Don’t get me wrong, he also immersed himself in numerous good causes and charities and was an ardent campaigner at grassroots level for the Labour Party, but his passion, his primary goal in life was to be a published author. His sudden death a couple of years ago at the age of sixty-nine put paid to that and made me realise that life really is unpredictable and gave me the focus that I needed to start pursuing my own writing dreams.

I was at that time, however, completely delusional as to the route I would need to take in order to secure a publishing deal. While I had heard of self- publishing, or vanity publishing as it was commonly known, It wasn’t an idea that I was willing to countenance as I was firmly entrenched in the belief that the only way to get published is to find yourself an agent and then leave the job of securing a contract to them. Indeed, while writing Granny Irene’s Guide to the Afterlife Revenge – I did have a lot of contact with one particular agent who it turns out was full of promises but whom it would seem was totally intent on leading me down the garden path. She wanted money for this and money for that, and against my better judgement and the advice of my husband and close friends I paid up. Only to be frustrated when she asked for more…and more!

Word to the wise: don’t EVER pay an agent upfront for their services, regardless of how convincing they seem, or tempting it is to get to the top of the pile. There are thousands of reputable agents out there who will work on a commission only basis with no upfront payments. Yes, it might be incredibly hard to get noticed by one of them, but if you are determined to go down the conventional publishing route then you need to be prepared to take the rejections on the chin and keep going. Your mantra being to submit… submit…submit.

It was during a downhearted heart to heart (over a bottle of wine or three) that Lenora suggested that I consider taking a look at Amazon/Create Space. She explained to me that self-publishing had really started to take off and that there was no harm in at least exploring my options.

I am SO glad that she did! Yes, undoubtedly there are numerous hassles when self- publishing and I will go into these a little further with you shortly but for me the complete freedom and control that publishing my own books gives me far outweighs the stress and the hard work that inevitably comes with being an indie author. I can publish my books globally in a heartbeat and as I am getting more savvy, more confident I am also enjoying discovering the numerous other publishing platforms that are available to indie authors.

So what are the main challenges that we face?

Well, number one for me has been BALANCING MY NEED TO WRITE WITH MY FAMILY’S NEED TO EAT.
This is a major problem for a lot of indie authors and is probably (other than an actual failure to write) the biggest threat to a fledgling author’s career. It is so hard to look your partner in the eye when they are working their balls off to keep a roof over your head and food in your children’s bellies and say “Look; I know I am not actually earning anything from my writing now, but trust me, I will be in a few years from now!” It is hard not to give into the pressure and temptation to start looking for a more conventional job. A proper job: one that actually pays a salary at the end of the month and enables you to buy nice clothes and cars and take foreign holidays each year. It is a problem that I have wrestled with over the past few years with various different outcomes. First I was rigid in my determination to stay true to my writing dreams. Then when my husband’s work dried up I had no choice but to take up a part time job in a call centre, and now, once again I am back to doing what I want to do, however, this time I have a backup plan in place, and I am building my Pay As You Go Manuscript Assessment Service alongside my writing. Ultimately everyone must do what is best for their own family, for their own individual circumstances, but I will say this. If you are determined to make it as a writer: if you want to make it a career rather than just a hobby, then somehow you will find a way to write.

The second biggest problem for me has been INVISIBILITY. I don’t know about anyone else, but I sure as hell had it in my head that once I published my first book then that would be it. People would be downloading it in droves, and physical copies would be flying off the printers. Oddly enough, it didn’t work out like that. With Granny Irene, I initially ran a free promotion on Amazon, and while yes, hundreds of people downloaded their free copy, I don’t think they actually took the time to read it. They downloaded the book PURELY because it was free. A crime I am guilty of doing myself, although, I do try now not to fall into that trap. I tend to only download books on free promotions that I am fairly certain that I will like, or there is a strong chance that I will one day get round to reading. Since then, I have tried just about every marketing trick in the book, and while yes, I do have a much stronger online presence these days and yes, I am selling books, I am not by any stretch of the imagination selling them in the quantities that I want, or perhaps should say need to. If anyone has any useful and genuine tips as to how to boost my sales then, I would love to hear from you!

I have touched briefly upon this, but the third big issue for me is MARKETING – OMG – There are so many options out there. Some of them free, most of them requiring a varying amount of financial investment. Just how is a new author meant to navigate the marketing maze? You just have to feel your way, and do what feels right. Start with the free stuff. The Facebook groups and pages etcetera but make sure you don’t fall into the trap of constantly spamming these pages. I don’t read the bulk of my notifications anymore because I know that nine times out of ten they are filled with authors promoting their books. Get a blog. (Check out my ghost blogging service www.ingridhall.com_) However leaving that blatant plug aside, you can set one up yourself relatively easily at either WordPress or Blogger. Blogging is the perfect way to start reaching your target audience. It is also a great way of connecting with other authors. You also need to be getting your book out to reviewers as reviews both good and bad are vital to sales. (Yes, even the bad ones because they often validate your book and pique people’s curiosity) I would much rather have ten three or four star reviews rather than ten five stars, because readers have become suspicious of glowing, perfect reviews. You don’t want people to think that all of your reviews have been written by family and friends. (Obviously some five star reviews are nice to have and one and two stars, well, not so nice, but so long as you learn from them, perfectly valid!) If you are looking to find reviewers then www.theindieview.com is a great place to start. Bear in mind though that you may send twenty requests and only be picked up by one reviewer. As a reviewer, I get swamped daily, and it is not always possible to review every book or even do it in a timely manner. (It frequently takes six months plus for my reviewing team to get to a particular book)

Being an indie author is tough. It is also incredibly fulfilling and satisfying and until I become the next J.K Rowling or E.L James and start selling millions of copies I will keep on learning and growing…and writing!

You can find me at www.ingridhall.com
http://lunaballantyne.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/indieandproud
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorIngridHall

Guest Post by Ian Douglas author of Star Corpsman

Today on Grey Wolf’s Blog we welcome Ian Douglas, author of the Star Corpsman series of science fiction books.

Star Corpsman by Ian Douglas

Corpsman Front!
by Ian Douglas

The U.S. Navy Hospital Corps–the “docs” who assist doctors and nurses in Navy hospitals, who run the sick bays on board Navy ships, and who train and deploy with the U.S. Marines and serve as their combat medics–has been around for quite a while. The congressional bill establishing the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps was formally signed into law by President William McKinley on 17 June, 1898.

Before that, however, they were the surgeon’s stewards, the baymen and the apothecaries who served on Navy ships during and after the Civil War, and before that they were loblolly boys–a term borrowed from the Royal British Navy during the American Revolution. Drawn randomly from the ship’s company, they prepared the buckets of sand in the operating room to keep the surgeons from slipping in the blood, and heated the irons used to cauterize amputations and severe lacerations. Loblolly referred to the ration of porridge they brought around each day to the sick and wounded.

From 1916 through 1947, petty officers in the Hospital Corps were called pharmacist’s mates, in keeping with the same rate structure that gave the Navy its gunner’s mates, boatswain’s mates, machinist’s mates, and others. After 1947, the Hospital Corps adopted the terminology used today: hospital corpsmen.

Corpsmen have a long and distinguished record of service in every war the United States has fought. Time and time again, corpsmen serving with Marine companies and platoons have put themselves in harm’s way at the call of “corpsman front!” Unarmed and under heavy fire, they’ve reached fallen Marines, rendered emergency field first aid, and kept them alive until they could be evacuated; sometimes, they’ve picked up dropped weapons to protect their patients at point-blank range, or covered them with their own bodies when a grenade landed close by. There’s no way even to guess how many lives they’ve saved.

But in the process, twenty-two corpsmen have won the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action, while 174 were awarded the Navy Cross, 948 the Silver Star, and 1,582 the Bronze Star, making Hospital Corpsman the single most decorated rating in the Navy, and with damned good reason. Since the Civil War, over 2,000 Corpsmen have died in combat. They’ve gone everywhere the Marines have gone. One of the six men photographed raising the U.S. flag on Mt. Suribachi was Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class John Bradley, serving with the 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Regiment during the bloody assault on Iwo Jima.

They also serve both the Navy and the Marines as technical specialists. After going through Corps School training, where they learn first aid, basic nursing skills, and patient care, some go on to more advanced “C” schools, becoming lab technicians, x-ray techs, operating room technicians, cardiopulmonary techs, or other medical specialists. Some go through FMF training–that’s the Fleet Marine Force–and it is they who serve in the field with the Marines as combat medics. A few become independent duty corpsmen, meaning they serve on ships or at duty stations with no doctors or senior medical staff. During World War II, no fewer than three independent-duty corpsmen performed emergency appendectomies while serving on board U.S. submarines, far from any possibility of medical evacuation and with no doctor available.

I joined the U.S. Navy in 1969. My dad had been a Corpsman during the Korean War two decades earlier, and I proudly followed in his footsteps. He’d been an OR tech and FMF; I chose to train as a lab tech instead. Most of my hitch was split between the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and I would not trade the experience for the world. While I was not FMF, I did work a lot with the Marines; corpsmen and Marines share a close-knit bond of history, camaraderie and mutual respect forged in blood from Belleau Wood to Iwo Jima to Fallujah. To my Marine friends, I will always be “Doc,” while for me, my respect for the Marines and what they’ve gone through is summed up in their immortal motto: Semper fi. “Always faithful.”

So what does all of this have to do with Ian Douglas and my stories about the Marines of the future?

It was inevitable, I suppose, that when given the chance I would write about the Marines of the future. It’s a venerable and honorable trope: E.E. Smith’s immortal Lensman series frequently brought in Sergeant van Buskirk and his Valerian space marines… and though they were called “Mobile Infantry,” Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, in their training, their culture, and their esprit, were clearly a future iteration of the U.S. Marine Corps. During the fight for Iwo Jima, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal had just stepped onto the beach below when the flag went up atop Suribachi. “The raising of that flag,” he told General Holland Smith, “means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.” My first three Ian Douglas trilogies–Heritage, Legacy, and Inheritance–followed the future history of the Corps from a war on Mars in 2040 through to a climactic struggle with black-hole aliens at the Galactic Core in 4004… so I actually managed to carry things out a bit beyond the five century mark.

And of course, where the Marines went, even in the future, the Navy Hospital Corps went as well.

It occurred to me at one point, though, that Navy corpsmen might be good for something more in a high-tech future than patching up wounded Marines. Corpsmen are technically trained; not only can they dress a wound or splint a fracture, but some of them operate x-ray machines and sequential multiple analyzers and–nowadays, though they didn’t have them when I was in–MRIs. If the Marines are going to be deployed to alien planets–that “every shore and clime” of the Marine Corps Hymn–they may be too busy fighting off alien beasties to do the necessary technical work: analyzing the local atmosphere and biology and ecology and culture. Know your enemy was one of the foundational principles of warfare laid down by Sun Tzu 2600 years ago, and if your enemy is a life form that doesn’t look like you, doesn’t act like you, doesn’t even think like you, maybe it would be a good idea to have someone along with your Marine unit who can figure out just what makes the bad guys tick.

And the other part of Sun Tzu’s injunction is just as important: Know yourself. The Navy corpsmen of my various futures are responsible for the psychological well-being of their Marines as well as the purely physical. These books, after all, are more about what it means to be human than they are war stories about alien bug-eyed monsters.

And so, in a blinding inspirational flash, a nova against the velvet-black backdrop of space, the Ian Douglas military-SF series Star Corpsman was born.

Star Corpsman is the first-person narrative of HM2 Elliot Carlyle, attached to Second Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion of Deep Recon 7, 1st Marine Division. He serves onboard a Marine interstellar transport, the George Clymer, holding sick call and helping run the ship’s sick bay… and when the Marines deploy to the surface of an alien planet, he’s there to test the atmosphere and study the local biology and, just maybe, figure out how to communicate with the locals on the theory that talking to them is usually more productive than killing them.

Did anything of my experience as a Navy corpsman sneak into my stories?

Well… of course it did. That’s what writing is all about after all–taking your own life experience and presenting it to total strangers for their amusement and entertainment. As it happens, the George Clymer was one of the troop transports my dad served on as an independent-duty corpsman. And my wife suffered a devastating stroke in Maine. And… and… and…

There’s an incident in Star Corpsman: Deep Abyss where a doctor goes off the deep end and puts the hero on report for failing to obey orders. Something very much like that–with somewhat more primitive medical equipment–actually happened in Puerto Rico… not to me, but to a good friend of mine in the lab who had the ER lab/x-ray watch one night. A sailor on board a ship in port had fallen twenty feet and landed on a steel deck squarely on his head. The doctor on duty that night ordered a skull series–meaning x-rays of the guy’s head to see if he’d fractured his skull. The skull series was clear, no fractures, but my friend suggested that he do a c-spine series as well–meaning x-ray the cervical vertebra in the upper back to see if the sailor had managed to break his neck. The doctor was furious that a mere enlisted man would try to second-guess him… and ordered him not to take the extra pictures. My friend chose to disobey those orders… and a damned good thing, too. C1, the top vertebrae right under the skull, was cracked; C2 was completely broken through; C3… well, they couldn’t even find C3, it was so badly fragmented. Comminuted is the medical term.

But the doctor, who had some ego issues, put my friend on report and he had to go up before the captain who ran the hospital. When the chief who ran the lab showed the skipper–also a doctor–the x-rays, though, my friend was off the hook. The doctor on watch that night? He was transferred somewhere else… fast. In fact, the last I heard, he was out of the Navy entirely and practicing pediatrics in California, God help them. I hope none of his civilian patients ever hit their heads.…

So that story ended up, in revised form, in one of the Corpsman books, as did a few others.

But the single most important connection between my personal experiences in the service and those of Elliot Carlyle has less to do with war stories than it does with the Navy and Marine cultures, with the people–with what it means to be in the military, to be a Marine, or to work with them. I have to be damned careful when writing these books because my respect for the Marine Corps comes perilously close to hero worship… and as a writer my job is to show them as human, warts, sucking chest wounds, malfunctioning cerebral implants, and all.

Star Corpsman also lets me indulge in one of my favorite-ever topics: future technology–especially future medical technology–and our relationship to it. I get to talk about Freitas respirocytes and medical nanotechnology, cerebral implants that increase human intelligence and allow direct control of our machines, imaging technologies that let us peer inside the body’s biochemical processes in real-time, and even the CAPTR technology–the acronym stands for Cerebral Access PolyTomographic Reconstruction, by the way–that lets us cheat death. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to work with any of this stuff when I was a corpsman… but I did manage to pick up enough biochemistry and anatomy and physiology along the way to be able to speculate about where medical technology is going.

And most important of all… what will that technology mean for Humankind over the next century or two? Enhanced mental capabilities? Telepathy? Immortality?

Will we even still be human?

Those are the Big Questions… and the reason I write science fiction. I enjoy military-SF battles and fleet actions and weird aliens as much as anybody, but the real reason I do it is my fascination with what it means to be human.

Unfortunately, one part of being human has to do with conflict. Humans have waged war since we shrieked and gibbered and flung shit at one another in the trees of East Africa. Someday, when we mature as a species, when our technology matures, perhaps as we merge with our technology, we might finally break those ancient curses of ignorance and territoriality and fear-hatred of the unknown. I pray so. I’ve seen way too many mangled and broken kids in military hospitals to feel otherwise.

But so long as there is war, tyranny, or threats to our freedom, the U.S. Marines will be there, here, in orbit, or on the worlds other stars. As the famous saying by Marine Captain Ned Dolan so perfectly puts it: “Freedom is never free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share.”

And where the Marines go, yes, Navy corpsmen will be there as well.

William H. Keith
a.k.a. Ian Douglas

——————-

Thank you to Ian Douglas, to Zea Moscone and to Harper Collins

Contact Grey Wolf

Grey Wolf’s Blog runs both Author Interviews and offers Guest Blogging opportunities for other authors and those involved in the book creation and publicity sphere. Just email
enquiries@alternate-history-fiction.com
If you can head your email appropriately, eg “Request for Author Interview” then it will stand out from the crowd in the InBox and garner a swift response.
There are currently 2 or 3 vacancies for December, and then the majority of 2014 dates are free, so if you have a release, a promotion etc coming up, contact me and see if I can help.

Best Regards
Grey Wolf