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Category Archives: Beyond the Book

A Bite of History on Spain Vacation

(Guest Blog by Ryan King)

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Cartegena Spain’s Roman Theater

Long before Hispania became a Roman province, it was an overseas possession of Carthage. It was rich in silver and Iberian Celt mercenaries. This was where Hannibal prepared for his war on Rome and where the second climatic conflict, The Second Punic War began.

I’ve been interested in history for as long as I can remember. I still recall when I was twelve years old and I somehow ended up with a book called ‘War Through the Ages’ by the historian Lynn Montross. In those pages for the first time, I heard about the titanic wars between Rome and Carthage that lasted over a century. I learned of the brilliant genius, Hannibal, his crossing of the Alps with elephants, and his incredible battlefield victories. I also learned of a civilization that was the mightiest in the Mediterranean for several hundred years but was subsequently wiped from the face of the earth.

This time and this story have fascinated me since then. This was one reason, when I obtained my master’s degree in history, I focused on the Punic Wars period. It is also why I’ve taken every opportunity while living in Europe to visit those relevant historical locations and see them for myself. This was also, at least partially, why my family and I traveled to Spain on vacation.

Elevator to the palace/fortress, Cartegena, Spain

Elevator to the palace/fortress, Cartegena, Spain

The capital of Carthaginian Spain was Cartegena or ‘New Carthage.’ The location of this ancient city was how my wife narrowed down her hunt for a flat to accommodate the six of us. Even after Kristin broke her foot and had to be left behind, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take my fours sons to this place with so much history.

I’ve learned to moderate my expectations when visiting historical sites. It has been over two thousand years after all, yet Cartegena surprised me. First of all, the harbor itself was magnificent and is recognized as the finest natural harbor in the Mediterranean. The Carthaginians were, before everything else, seafaring Phoenicians originally from Tyre who understood trade.

The city boasts a Punic Museum with an original section of the Punic wall that encircled the city as well as a crypt with dozens of sealed remains inside. The large Roman theater is still spectacular, and you don’t want to miss the Roman baths or reconstructed Roman villa. IMG_9943

The highlight for me, however, was the magnificent palace/fortress on the giant hill overlooking the harbor and the city. This magnificent structure has stood through the centuries seeing the occupation of Romans, Celts, Vandals, Byzantines, Moors, and Spaniards, yet it was originally constructed by Hasdrubal the Fair who was Hannibal’s brother-in-law. Hasdrubal was credited with making Cartegena a great city after he assumed command of Spain at the death of his father-in-law, Hannibal’s father, Hamiclar.

The fortress is well situated on a giant sheer rock, and we had to take an elevator ride to the top. As my sons and I walked along the walls it was a surreal moment knowing that Hannibal and Hasdrubal had lived in this place and walked along the same paths several millennium before. The visit was reminiscent to one over a decade ago when my wife and I visited Carthage, Tunisia. I was mesmerized.

IMG_0042How could I not contemplate my writing? How I wanted to revisit the scenes I’ve already written of my historic fictional trilogy about the Punic Wars, the rise and fall of Carthage, and the conflicts  that forced Rome to greatness.

Yet, my sons were tired and hungry and wanted to go back to the pool at our condo. So we said farewell to Cartegena, that ancient city of numerous hills with a superb harbor continuously filled with ships. We went back to the Spanish resort for Spaniards, La Manga, and said farewell to history…at least for now.

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Ryan King is the author of numerous post-apocalyptic books. He writes nonfiction under Charles R. King and enjoys teaching history to his four sons as the family treks about the world. Ryan’s first novel, Glimmer of Hope, is free for a limited time on Amazon.

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This is a post with no pictures… #lol

Do you have kids? Ever babysit? Have grandkids? Honestly, you simply must read this book to them. As funny as it is from the author, the children you know will enjoy it so much more coming from you!

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Beyond the Book

 

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Wanted: Honest Reviews (Book Deals)

SLB kindle faceAsk any early career indie author or small press publisher “You want me to review that book on Amazon?” and they will jump up and down for joy (at least on the inside). Most of us are looking for HONEST reviews. ‘Cause here’s the real deal, readers want honest reviews. And we want to give readers what they want (within our creative vision, of course).

One voracious reader told me that when he sees a book with all 5 star reviews he is immediately suspect. He is less likely to take a chance on a new author whose “friends and family” were more concerned about feelings than trying to be objective. As a small press, I actually have a problem right now with our newest release (about songwriting) because all 23 reviews are 5 stars. We need more balance.

Personally, I pick up a lot of indie books from the Top 100 Free list and then read some of the reviews before deciding whether or not to purchase the next book in a promising series. Which reviews do I read? Those listed “Most Helpful” AND the one stars. Sometimes the “issues” someone else had with the book seal the deal for me to buy it.

As a publisher, I am working hard to get Irene Kucholick’s “Survive Little Buddy” (WWII to 1953 Iron Curtain escape memoir) onto one of the most high profile and successful book discount email lists. We’ll pay for the privilege and even mark the book down to 99c for that promotion, but we have to have more reviews to qualify. I thought I was at the end of my rope, until I found ReadingDeals.com.

As a reader, I signed up for the email of discounted books. However, they also have a feature where I can get ebooks for FREE if I agree to leave a book review within the next 2 weeks. Excellent. Love it. The only caveat is that the review I leave has to state up front that “I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.” Perfect.

As a mom & pop publisher, I can get Irene’s book listed (for a reasonable fee) on ReadingDeals.com’s  free-to-reviewers list and finally get the reviews we need. Honest reviews from people with no reason stretch the stars.

What if you do have a reason to stretch the stars? Then be honest about that as well. The most popular review of my first novel is the one left by my best friend–who says up front she’s my best friend, has known me for 30+ years–and then she wrote a really thoughtful review that has made hers the one voted as “Most Helpful” to people considering buying my book. Here’s how she ended her review:

I’ve given the book 5 stars because I was so pleasantly surprised, and I really did love it, devouring it from cover to cover. However, if I’m honest, if this weren’t MY KRISTIN, I’d probably have given it four stars. Only for this simple reason: her neat and tidy additional plot points. I’m still uncertain how I feel about the thread that she alludes to in this short poem:

A woman goes missing,
And then is found dead.
Another will follow,
In a town full of dread.

Honestly, I’m happy that that particular part of the book didn’t go any further than it did, but I was still fascinated at watching it unfold, and found her descriptions of the source of the dread to be spartan, but extremely powerful. (Complete review here.)

“MY KRISTIN” she says which makes me feel loved every time I read it (sigh – virtual hugs). She walks the line and finds the balance perfectly, IMO. If the genre isn’t one you usually read, say so. Know the author? Saw them speak? Only read it as a favor? We can admit those things. And if worse comes to worse, sign in anonymously to save the feelings. Just review.

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Kristin King is living as an expat in Holland and blogs about travel, writing, culture and food.

© Kristin King 2015

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2015 in Beyond the Book

 

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Another One of Those Movies !?! (The Box Office)

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 4.38.49 PMOften I am shocked by movie franchises that resemble a pink bunny banging on a drum in unending circles. Fast and Furious is a prime example. When I saw the Expendables 3 movie poster online, my head was shaking but my mouth was wide. Daggone, it’s just fun to look at the people Stallone threw together for that thing.

And they’re making another one? IMBD is my go-to site for info on actors, movies and TV shows. The Box Office box half way down the page noted that Ex 3 cost $ 90 million, made almost $16 mil the first weekend and went on to earn close to $40 mil domestically. That’s not the kind of math that screams “Make another one!”

What gives?

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 4.40.30 PMMovies are big business, like Denali big, and you don’t continue a franchise that goes in the red. What I discovered from a site called the-numbers.com was that the worldwide box office for this 3rd Expendables was over $209 million. It’s not quite Harry Potter (8 movies -so far- costing $1.2 billion and making $7.7 billion), but it’s pretty darn respectable.

Any franchise you want to check out is listed on the site with simple graphs. I have to share a few tidbits.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has 18 movies that cost $2 billion to make and pulled in almost $9 billion so far. Listed by movie we see that The Avengers and The Avengers Age of Ultron did the best with each one costing about $2.5 million to make and bringing in over $1.3 billion each. Wow. Sure wish they’d throw a 1% of that at my nonprofit.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 4.56.53 PMAnother great discovery on the-numbers is the listing of upcoming additions to the franchise including among others Captain American: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther. Now I’m too distracted to write more.

Wonder what the next couple X-Men movies will be?

Wait, there are 5 Underworld movies? When did I miss one?

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Kristin King is an author, publisher, president of a nonprofit, and American expat living in Holland. She enjoys action movies and wishes she wrote better fight scenes. Her first book series, Begotten Bloods (BB), is paranormal romance/suspense. Twilight Series cost half a billion to make and grossed over $3 billion.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2015 in Beyond the Book

 

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How Many 2015 Academy Award Movies Began as Books?

Visit www.oscar.go.com for red carpet highlights.

Visit http://www.oscar.go.com for red carpet highlights.

Best Picture nominees based on or adapted from books include: American Sniper, The Immitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and Selma. According to The Paris Review, “The Grand Budapest Hotel, is based not just on one novel but on an entire oeuvre—that of Stefan Zweig, an Austrian writer whose work [Wes] Anderson has helped revive.”

A stroll through the other movies this year providing nominated performances and associated work becomes a walk through an orchard to fill a bushel basket of books. The Foxcatcher, Gone Girl, Wild, Still Alice, How to Train Your Dragon, The Boxtrolls, Unbroken.

Two Days One Night is one-off having been inspired by an academic case study, and Into the Woods traces it’s roots through the musical fantasy to the book inspired by classic fairytale stories woven together. Fairytales have strong showings Maleficent Ancient myths passed down to today get fair play as well as evidenced by The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (a folk tale) and Song of the Sea.

Now I wonder how many movies have subsequently turned into books? Into graphic novels? There’s a very long list as well.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and new US expat living in the Netherlands. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and “Cain’s Coven,” and her latest novel in the Begotten Bloods Series is Death Taint.

 

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in Beyond the Book

 

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Awards for the Most Spiritually Uplifting Movies and TV Shows

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.25.04 PM When I ran across these different sort of award nominees, I decided to include them this week as eyes turn toward the Academy Awards. No gold statues for this prize, instead the award is $100,000. The only overlap with the Oscars is that Reese Witherspoon stars in “The Good Lie” and “Unbroken” makes this list for movie rather than for Cinematography, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.

 

Movie Nominees:Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.58.16 PM

  • The Giver
  • God’s Not Dead
  • The Good Lie
  • Heaven Is For Real
  • Little Hope Was Arson
  • Son of God
  • Unbroken

TV Show Nominees:

  • The Gabby Douglas Story
  • Duck Dynasty:Home for the Holidays
  • The Last Ship:Phase 6
  • When Calls the Heart
  • Paper Angels
  • Love Finds You in Sugarcreek
  • Louis Zamperini:Captured By Grace

Catch these awards on REELZChannel Saturday, Feb. 21, and Monday, Feb. 23. For more information on past winners, how prize money is divided and funded visit TheMovieGuide.org.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and US expat living in the Netherlands. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and the first novel in the  Begotten Bloods Series is “Cain’s Coven.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Beyond the Book, In The News

 

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Most Nominated Actors in 2015 Academy Awards

Photo credit Sipa Press/Rex via The Guardian.

Photo credit Sipa Press/Rex via The Guardian.

When I heard that Meryl Streep received another oscar nomination, I immediately wondered how many of those she’s had. So I looked it up–19! She’s won three times (so far) for “Kramer vs. Kramer” (based on a book) “Sophie’s Choice” (based on a book) and “The Iron Lady” (screen play based on Margaret Thatcher’s biography).

Who else has multiple nominations? Robert Duvall has the next most with 7 nominations and 1 win (so far) for “Tender Mercies.” As an octogenarian, Duvall also has the distinction of being the oldest supporting actor every nominated by the Academy.

Julianne Moore received her 5th nomination this year, and Bradley Cooper and Ethan Hawke each received their 4th nomination (according to Wikipedia which was updated with this year’s information). Cooper is on a run and notable because he’s been nominated 3 years in a row now.

Edward Norton garnered his 3rd nomination this year, but Marion Cotillard’s 3rd nomination is more noteworthy because it highlights the fact that she was the first and only actor (so far) to win an Academy Award for a performance in the French language.

Meanwhile Reese Witherspoon is 1-for-1 with her first nomination and win for “Walk the Line,” and I find myself hoping she’ll make it 2-for-2 with her portrayal of Cheryl Stayed who penned the real life survival story entitled “Wild” that my husband and I are currently reading.

Other return nominees include:

Laura Dern 2nd Nomination

Keira Knightley 2nd Nomination

Benedict_Cumberbatch 2nd Nomination

Mark Ruffalo 2nd Nomination

This is the first of a short series of posts this week leading up to the Academy Award’s Ceremony on ABC this Sunday, February 22nd at 7pm EST. For more information visit the Academy Awards 2015 homepage. Next up is the first time nominees.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and US expat living in the Netherlands. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and the first novel in the  Begotten Bloods Series is “Cain’s Coven.

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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Beyond the Book

 

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