Author Interview: Amelia Keldan

Today I’m introducing the author of the Evergreen series:

Who are you?! Where are you from?

I am indie author Amelia Keldan from Adelaide, South Australia.

What book(s) have you written?

I am the author of the Evergreen Series:

Evergreen Avenue – Book One 1970s

Evergreen Park – Book Two 1980s

Evergreen Shade – Book Three 1990s

Evergreen House – Book Four 2000s

All four novels are now available as a boxset:

Evergreen Years – The Complete Series

What is the title of your most recent book and how did it come to be named?

Evergreen Years is my latest release and the title is a nod to the beautiful trees that populate the Adelaide Hills.

What does the cover look like? 

Describe the book in 5 words. 

Familial, Nostalgic, Angst-Ridden, Dramatic, Mystical

What genre(s) do you think it fits into or breaks?

Women’s Fiction with a slight supernatural element.

What’s the synopsis for the book?

Tildy McVee, at only six-years-old, has an extraordinary talent for reading people.

The heavy burden of this ‘gift’ comes to a head one Summer, as her family struggle to try find their way through the free-wheeling decade of the 1970s.

Secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested and no one is prepared for the eventual fallout.

As Tildy gets older, the aftershocks of these events continue to ricochet through the tumultuous 80s, the self-conscious 90s and the beginning of a new millennium.

Everyone has their part to play in each other’s lives – even those who have since crossed over to the other side.

Where can we buy the book?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078B9597K https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/768857 
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/evergreen-years-the-complete-series/id1327028346?mt=11&l=fr&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

What three other books would you use to describe your book?

Everything I never Told You by Celeste Ng

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan

Why is indie publishing important to you and why do you think it is important to our culture?

The freedom that writers now have, to share their stories without the need of a middle man, is incredibly liberating. The traditional method of sending in a manuscript to a publisher and hoping it gets noticed is no longer our only option. When deciding upon which route to take with my own works, I opted to make it a fun experience. Writing is my passion…and whilst I’d love for it to be the only thing I need to focus on, the truth is, I already have a day job. Being an indie author means I can make my own rules, oversee the whole production and make my own decisions when necessary – adhering to my own self-created deadlines and nobody else’s. The rise of the eBook phenomenon and the incredible strides in technology have allowed writers to follow their own path and I find it an incredibly exciting time to be an author.

What indie authors have influenced you and how?

Darcy Conroy – Author of ‘As Long As She Lives’. Darcy is an Australian author who by sheer will and determination has achieved great success with her debut novel.

Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit was rejected by every Publisher she submitted it to. She eventually self-published her work and it remains a best seller even today.

What are some ways you think gatekeepers in publishing (literary agents, librarians, book bloggers) can help indie authors gain discoverability?

Reviews, reviews, reviews…as a book buyer myself, I admit that I am swayed by a good review.

Your literary character hero?

Ramona Quimby – the pint-sized heroine from Beverly Cleary’s Ramona novels. I love her for her fierce determination to always be her imperfect self despite what society expects and the love and loyalty she shows to her family.

What is the book you wish you had written?

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – don’t let the hype fool you into feeling sceptical. She deserves all the praise. I watched her success unfold and she most certainly deserves every bit of it.

Your literary crush?

J.K Rowling. She was a single Mum on welfare who turned it all around. I also get a kick out of her social media skills; a middle-aged woman conquering Twitter with incredible wit and biting sarcasm…I just love her.

What is your favorite online resource as an author?

Goodreads – such a wonderful place for both authors and readers. I have discovered so many wonderful books via this website and it is a constant source of inspiration.

How do you feel about authors giving their work away for free?

I feel if it helps in regards to gaining reviews or being discovered, then it’s fine. As long as it is always the author’s decision.

What are you reading now?

After I’m Gone by Linda Green

What was your favorite book as a child?

I have two: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume and Ramona and her Mother by Beverly Clearly

What was the Illicit book you had to sneak growing up?

Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette – an honest and raw novel about being a teenage girl in 1970s Australia.

What are the books you’ve read more than once?

I have re-read so many of Harlan Coben’s novels. I so love his style of writing and the sarcastic wit of his protagonists.

What music do you write to or find inspiration in?

I’ve always found inspiration in cinematic and atmospheric music such as Portishead and Bjork.

Whilst writing my stories set in different decades I also enjoyed listening to the music of the era. I uploaded many different artists onto my iPhone but to name just a few there was The Eagles for the 1970s novel, 1980s The Cure, 1990s The Cranberries and a lot of Dido for the 2000s instalment.

What roadblocks did you encounter when publishing your work?

Finding the time to write is a constant challenge and the struggle to attain some visibility within a hugely competitive and saturated industry is incredibly difficult. Gaining reviews to attain some credibility is also tricky as many readers may enjoy a writer’s work but not bother leaving a review.

What TV show are you watching now?

This is Us is wonderfully enjoyable. I have a soft-spot for multi-generational dramas that play around with differing time periods (as is made pretty obvious when you look at my own work )

Cat or dog or both person?

I love that cats are independent and secure in their own awesomeness but I adore that dogs are so in love with us!

Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz – and why?

Alice in Wonderland. I often roll a phrase or two inside my mind when struggling with insecurity or feelings of anxiousness.

“Have I gone mad?”

“I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers…but I’ll tell you a secret…all the best people are.”

Coffee or tea or both person?

Tea. Coffee has gotten me through many moments of extreme tiredness but the inevitable crash isn’t pleasant.

Print book or eBook or both person?

Both. Print books for the aesthetics of a well-designed book jacket, the smell of its pages and the pleasure I get from holding it in my hands. I’ve fully embraced eBooks however due to the extreme convenience they offer and the ability to buy a book at 2am. Discovering a new author at any time of the day or night is still such a novelty.

How do you see book culture changing, other than the ways it already has, because of eBooks?

I would hope that the swift convenience and availability of choice will encourage more people to read.

What is your biggest grammatical struggle to overcome in your writing, or what is your most common typo?

Running sentences often happen when I’m on a roll and edit checks have revealed that I sometimes leave out a repeated letter. For example: ocur, admitedly, unatainable. Maybe I’m in too much of a hurry for that extra letter? Thank goodness for spellcheck.

Where can we stalk you? (What are the links to your social media platforms and blog?)

https://www.ameliakeldan.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ameliakeldan/

https://twitter.com/amelia_keldan

https://www.instagram.com/ameliakeldan/

Thank you for sharing about your work and your delightful insights on indie publishing! 

 

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Book Review: Animal Liberation by Peter Singer

I read this book because it was mentioned in Sunaura Taylor’s Beasts of BurdenApparently this is classic animal liberation stuff that I had never heard of — it came out before The Sexual Politics of Meat (1990) and I could see, perhaps, the influence this book had on that one — the mentioning of Mary Wollstonecraft and Victorian veg writers and and and. Perhaps Singer was even mentioned in Politics but I just wasn’t in the right place of mind to notice it and care to dig in. This book was first published in 1975, apparently.  All the same, I think Politics took these observations to a different level that I liked better. This book came off as very dry at times. What I did find interesting is that the term “speciesist” or “speciesism” has been around for a while. I thought it was a more contemporary term for some reason. Not sure if Singer perhaps invented the term?

As Taylor warned in Beasts, Singer does sound very ableist at times in his arguments.  Example: “After all, most of us would agree that it would be wrong to bring a child into the world if we knew, before the child was conceived, that it would have a genetic defect that would make its life brief and miserable.” Many lives are brief and miserable without genetic defects, so to pinpoint a specific group of people, when all people could be lumped in as equally at risk of meeting such criteria, is a poor, ableist argument. And this is coming from an antinatalist.

Granted, this had to be pointed out to me by Sunaura Taylor, as I would not have noticed it on my own. I’m still unlearning and relearning.

What I noticed on my own, however, is that Singer starts out playing Devil’s advocate a few times — saying things like “We will pretend that meat eaters are right in this area X so I can make an argument with what’s left.” What I mean by that is he tries to be very clinical and very neutral but you can tell he’s just pretending. And I can see why he would approach it that way, based on the time period he was writing this in. But then it slowly unravels into emotion — spouting off platitudes like animals suffer and this is just plain wrong or humans are horrible at moments that I think would seem odd to a carnist reader. Not that he says those exact things, but that is how it feels.

Perhaps he thinks by that point, he has swayed the reader into agreement? What it actually feels like, though, is him no longer catering to the carnists and instead addressing us, the veg readers. Which is fine, but I’m still trying to figure out the target audience for this. I’m sure it’s changed over editions.

He does get very philosophical here and there, which I liked. I feel like I can argue the case for veganism better now. However, when he would sprinkle in facts about factory farms or vivisection, it did feel like some of it might be dated (though I know not much has changed) and I felt like the two approaches he was taking (philosophical and factsfactsfacts) didn’t mesh well together. Rather, he didn’t mesh them well together, as I’ve seen it done very well in the past. I much prefer the other two books I’ve mentioned here, simply because their focus is different — and, quite frankly, they’re more focused in general. This one does tackle a big topic, I guess. I did like it and got a lot of good quotes from it. But I feel like this is a book that is easier to be quoted from than read. So, vegan readers, don’t feel like you need to rush out and read this one. Maybe I started off with the wrong Singer book?

Some quotes I want to pin here:

“[Animal vivisectionists] cannot deny the animals’ suffering, because they need to stress the similarities between humans and other animals in order to claim their experiments may have some relevance for human purposes.”

“It is at this point that the consequences of speciesism intrude directly into our lives, and we are forced to attest personally to the sincerity of our concern for nonhuman animals. Here we have an opportunity to do something, instead of merely talking and wishing the politicians would do something. It is easy to take a stand about a remote issue, but speciesist, like racists, reveal their true nature when the issue comes nearer home. To protest about bullfighting in Spain, the eating of dogs in South Korea, or the slaughter o f baby seals in Canada while continuing to eat eggs from hens…or veal from calves…is like denouncing apartheid in South Africa while asking your neighbors not to sell their houses to blacks.”

“American television broadcasts programs on animals in the wild (or supposedly in the wild — sometimes the animals have been captured and released in a more limited space to make filiming easier) almost every night of the week; but film of intensive farms is limited to the briefest of glimpses as part of infrequent ‘specials’ on agriculture or food production. The average viewer must know more about the lives of cheetahs and sharks than he or she knows about the lives of chickens or veal calves. The result is that most of the ‘information’ about farm animals to be gained from watching television is in the form of paid advertising, which ranges from ridiculous cartoons of pigs who want to be made into sausages and tuna trying to get themselves canned, to straightforward lies about the conditions in which broiler chickens are reared. The newspapers do little better. Their coverage of nonhuman animals is dominated by ‘human interest’ events like the birth of a baby gorilla at the zoo, or by threats to endangered species…”

“Nature may often ‘know best,’ but we must use or own judgement in deciding when to follow nature. For all I know, war is ‘natural’ to human beings — it certainly seems to have been a preoccupation for many societies, in very different circumstances, over a long period of history — but I have no intention of going to war to make sure that I act in accordance with nature. We have the capacity to reason about what it is best to do. We should use this capacity (and if you are really keen on appeals to ‘nature,’ you can say that it is natural for us to do so).”

“The point of altering one’s buying habits is not to keep oneself untouched by evil, but to reduce the economic support for the exploitation of animals, and to persuade others to do the same. So it is not a sin to continue to wear leather shoes you bought before you began to think about Animal Liberation. When your leather shoes wear out, but nonleather ones; but you will not reduce the profitability of killing animals by throwing out your present ones. With diet, too, it is more important to remember the major aims than to worry about such details as whether the cake you are offered at a party was made with a factory farm egg.”

“Whatever the theoretical possibilities of rearing animals may be, the fact is that the meat available from butchers and supermarkets comes from animals who were not treated with any real consideration at all while being reared. so we must ask ourselves, not: Is is ever right to eat meat? but: Is it right to eat this meat? Here I think that those who are opposed to the needless killing of animals and those who oppose only the infliction of suffering must join together and give the same, negative answer.”

“Would we be prepared to let thousands of humans die if they could be saved by a single experiment on a single animal?…This question is, of course, purely hypothetical. There has never been and never could be a single experiment that saved thousands of lives. The way to reply to this hypothetical question is to pose another: Would the experimenters be prepared to carry out their experiment on a human orphan under six months old if that were the only way to save thousands of lives?”

Valentine’s Day Special: Free Author Interviews for #IndieAuthors!

To celebrate this Valentine’s Day, I’d like to spice up our book love life by offering a platform for readers to “date” an indie author. From now until Feb. 14th (Valentine’s Day!), submit your author interview questions to me and I’ll post them for free. Access the questions here and learn how to submit. 

Do note: I will post them as I get to them. So, this might be on or after V-day. As long as they are submitted by Feb 14th 2018, posting will be free.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Book Review: Almost Dark by Letitia Trent

I chose to read this book because it’s about a librarian. And, the author is from Oklahoma. I am both. However, this book was not meant for me. I found myself skimming to the end and I’m glad I did. I don’t doubt this would appeal to someone else. But, the reasons it did not appeal to me was because it took over 100 pages to get to the main character’s “meet-cute.” I could feel that it was going to get there, but it. Just. Took. So. Long.

Also, there is a lack of horror or ghosts and more so only the thought of ghosts. It’s not at all scary or chilling or frightening (as the cover might have you believe). It is, however, sad and depressing and…atmospheric. Atmospheric in the sense that “Geez, I could have just looked a picture to have gotten this same effect and lack of context, so why is this in print form?”

Her twin brother dies. A divorce happens (the most interesting and well-handled part of the novel). The history of the town and the characters is what is supposed to be haunting. I found it boring and lacking and inconsistent when action did finally happen.  In my opinion, it shouldn’t take a whole book to do what it did. And it didn’t really go anywhere — not anywhere I wanted to actually go, anyways.

I always thought ChiZine Publications produced weird fiction or horror. I’m not even sure what this is. Drama? I was kind of disappointed with my first book from this publisher.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Ready my review policy above in the navigation tabs.

Book Review: How to be Married by Jo Piazza

I chose to review this book for a number of reasons. My boyfriend and I have been tossing the idea around as a convenience, weighing  the pros and cons. The fact that we aren’t married yet should clue you in to us not having a good enough reason to.  The author mentions that marriage isn’t like it used to be —  that marriage is in some ways a new concept because it is ever-evolving to fit the times. Part of this “new version of marriage” still has old roots, though — engagement announcements still get you more likes on Facebook than many of a woman/girl’s other accomplishments. It still has a role in society’s structure.

This book, even if you don’t read it to learn about marriage, is a great way to learn about other cultures and parts of the world. The lens you’re looking through is marriage and advice on being married. It’s an interesting perspective, because it’s something all cultures share, yet it is treated differently based on person and context.

Another lens of the book is the author’s perspective. She’s someone who is an outsider to marriage yet is married. She’s using this book as an exploration of her own feelings towards marriage, so we’re on this journey with her.

The book is sprinkled with quotes from other authors that I found amusing.  Over all, the book is interesting and a quick read despite 250+ pages. At times, it did feel a little bit touristy (read: Elizabeth Gilbert-y).

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. Read my review policy above.

Archived: Blood Feud post from WIRED / How the Dawes Rolls are flawed for proving Native American ancestry / How Tribal Membership is Colonialized

The task of enrolling the Indians was assigned to white clerks dispatched from Washington. They set up vast tent villages in Oklahoma towns and sent word through tribal officials that anyone interested in claiming their land had to register. Once the news spread, the tents were deluged with applicants, including scores of Caucasians claiming to have a sliver of Indian blood. More surprising for the clerks were the thousands of African-Americans who showed up. The 1890 census counted 18,636 people “of Negro descent in the Five Tribes.” With no ability to speak any Native American language, the clerks often relied on the eyeball test. Those who fit the stereotype – ruddy skin, straight hair, high cheekbones – were placed on the “blood roll.” The roll noted each person’s “blood quantum,” the fraction of their parentage that was ostensibly Native American. That number was sometimes based on documentation, but often, given the lack of accurate records and the language barrier, it was nothing more than crude guesswork.

Those with obvious African roots were sent to a different set of tents. There, they were added to the Freedmen Roll, which had no listing of blood quantum. Contemporary Freedmen believe the segregation was part of a government conspiracy to steal Indian land. Freedmen, unlike their peers on the blood roll, were permitted to sell their land without clearing the transaction through the Indian Bureau. That made the poorly educated Freedmen easy marks for white settlers migrating from the Deep South. Stories abound of Freedmen, unable to read the contracts they were signing, selling their 160-acre plots for as little as $15.

Even when a man had an Indian grandparent and should have been assigned a blood quantum of one-fourth, he might well have been placed on the Freedmen Roll. The eyeball test sometimes assigned siblings to separate rolls simply because one was born with less melanin. Full-blooded women married to black males suddenly became Freedmen with no blood quantum. It was a wholly arbitrary process, but it didn’t matter much. Freedmen and Indians continued to live in relative harmony – until money and politics entered the picture.

DNA tests works fine for amateur genealogists, but they’re hardly foolproof. Two of the three on the market – Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA – are limited in scope. The Y chromosome test looks for variations on just 1.5 percent of a male’s genes. The mtDNA test reads a mere 0.005 percent of the subject’s genome. While these tests have shown an ability to identify Native American gene lines, false negatives are a big problem.

But even the best tests have large margins of error. “If you show a positive result of 4 or 5 or 6 percentage points, there’s a possibility that it isn’t indicating Native American ancestry,” Frudakis says. People with these levels of Indian blood may simply have genetic roots in places like Greece or Turkey, whose natives can convey Indian-ness in their DNA. Pakistanis, meanwhile, typically show 30 percent Native American heritage, for reasons that are not yet totally clear to scientists.

The more tests that DNA companies conduct, the more data they’ll have for comparison, which should lead to more accurate results. As the DNA databases grow, it may be possible to identify ancestry by region – say, a Southwestern Navajo or a New England Pequot. Kittles’ database can already name the African tribes an African-American customer descends from. Still, linking Freedmen to particular tribes remains tricky because of all the intermarrying that has occurred over the years.

Even if the testing companies could narrow a person’s origins to a specific tribe, would it matter? The science might be improving, but the Indian tribes show no inclination to accept it – or even consider it. “Our citizenship laws require you to have a Cherokee ancestor who was on the Dawes Roll. Can a DNA sample prove that?” says Cherokee spokesperson Mike Miller. “If I did a DNA test, it might show that I have some German DNA. That doesn’t mean I could go back to Germany and say, I have German ancestry and I would like to be a German citizen.”

It’s a crude analogy. Germany’s citizenship laws don’t require applicants to prove that a relative was listed on a flawed census of people with purported Teutonic blood. And if Miller so desired, he could become a naturalized German citizen someday. The Freedmen have no such chance.

Other tribes are just as closed-minded. When I ask Jerry Haney, the Seminole chief who expelled the tribe’s black members in 2000, whether he might reconsider his stance based on DNA tests, he huffs. “They can claim all the Indian they want,” he says, “but they cannot become a member of the Seminole Nation by blood. They’re down there [on the roll] as Freedmen. They’re separate.”

Cornsilk’s son, David, has taken up his father’s cause. While working in the tribe’s enrollment office in the 1980s, he found that about a third of the Freedmen applications had some documented Native American ancestry. When higher-ups told him that these people could not be enrolled, he became an advocate for the Freedmen from the inside, helping black plaintiffs prepare to file suit in tribal courts. “I came to realize that this was a deep-rooted problem, that racism in my tribe was profound,” he says. “They were perpetrating a genocide, a paper genocide.”

 

See also this post on Native American DNA and tribal membership. 

LIKE AN EGYPTIAN

We cringe at the Pharaohs

When their cats sleep beside them dead

Forced into the afterlife

Yet our own culture kills without purpose

“Survived by” family members

Surrender the sacred pets upon our deaths

In false hopes someone else will care

You’re no longer there to stop them

To tell them

The shelter kills without mummification

That their fate is usually

As sealed as a sarcophagus

And they will not rest beside you

TBR: Almost Dark by Letitia Trent

Claire, a private and outwardly content librarian, carries a secret: she is wracked with guilt over her twin brother Sam’s accidental death fifteen years earlier. Claire’s quiet life is threatened when Justin, an aggressive business developer, announces the renovation of Farmington’s oldest textile factory, which is the scene of Sam’s death along with many other mysterious accidents throughout its long history. Claire not only feels a personal connection to the factory, but she also begins to receive “visitations” from her brother, which cause her to question her sanity. As Justin moves forward with his plans to renew the factory, Claire, and the town as a whole, discover that in Farmington, there is no clear line between the past and the present.

Letitia Trent grew up in Vermont and Oklahoma, and studied at Ohio State University. Her first novel, Echo Lake, is available from Dark House Press/Curbside Splendor. Trent’s work has appeared in the Denver Quarterly, the Black Warrior Review, Fence, diode, Sou’Wester, Folio, the Journal, Mipoesias, Ootoliths, Blazevox, and many others. Her first full-length poetry collection, One Perfect Bird, is available from Sundress Publications. Her chapbooks include You aren’t in this movie (dancing girl press), Splice (Blue Hour Press) and The Medical Diaries (Scantily Clad Press). She was the 2010 winner of the Alumni Flash Writing Award from the Ohio State University’s the Journal and has been awarded fellowships from The Vermont Studio Center and the MacDowell Colony. Her chapbook, The Women In Charge, will be out from dancing girl press in 2015. Trent lives in Colorado with her husband, son, and three cats.

 

I’m a librarian. I already approve of this book.

Buy on Amazon. 

Book Review: When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner,‎ David Catrow

When God Made You was a delightful children’s book. The pages are of really sleek paper, so this is not for babies, as they will rip. But I’m sure a baby would love to be read this.

The rhyming of the story had an almost Dr. Seuss feel to it — like “There is no one alive who is youer than you.”  The religious affiliation in the book is not apparent and God is never gendered. Thus, it could cross religions and denominations, which I really liked.

The pictures don’t have a lot to do with the words on the pages. The story is more so this: A little girl rides her bike and find a street artist (who draws with chalk) crying over a crushed flower (he is stereotypically French, with a beret, full of emotion). The little girl (seen on the cover) is uninhibited and takes his chalk and starts to draw and cheers him up. Using the talents God gave her (a theme in the book) she draws a magical bird that comes to life and she and the artist fly to outer space on its back. The story is framed by the little girl reading to her little sibling before and after. While the artwork doesn’t have much to do with the poetics, it compliments it. The words stand on their own and so do the pictures. Together the message is clear: do what God meant for you to do and you will go places. I can’t wait to give my copy to a kid that I know.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. Read my review policy in the tab above.

2017 movies that mattered to me:

  • Get Out – horror is real life sometimes.
  • I, Tonya – made me dislike the Olympics more. Also, wtf was her life even?
  • The Disaster Artist – it was just fun to watch – pure enjoyment.
  • Blade Runner 2049 – made me question life, the future, and what constitutes as “technology.”
  • Colossal – this movie is not what you think it is.
  • A Ghost Story – this one is probably my favorite film of 2017.
  • Spider-man: Homecoming – made me care about Spiderman again.
  • Thor: Ragnarok – made me like the Thor franchise for the first time. I’m ignoring all others.
  • Wonder Woman – finally?
  • Okja – this one barely made the list because it beats you over the head with its weirdness. But it is an achievement on an international scale and a vegan scale.

There’s many more that came out in 2017 that I just haven’t watched yet.

See my other mini movie reviews here on Twitter.