Friday, 22 August 2014

A Summer of Books #amreading

Today I am basking in the joy of reading! I mean, I do that most days, but I admit during recent months even my reading capability seemed to deteriorate in the face of domestic challenges and dramas. Anyway, all that has changed now with the experience of one fantastic book. And I am so happy and feel more enriched for the pleasure of reading it.

The book in question is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I hadn't heard of it before this summer. It was assigned by my local book club to be our big summer read. And what a big book it is! The paperback that I borrowed from my library has 933 pages, and very long chapters. Personally I prefer short chapters because it makes the book easier to read around children, but I persevered, and am so glad I did. I was hooked right from the first chapter, but a full review will follow when I've had time to digest the story.

That is part of the joy I rediscovered. It isn't just about reading a good story. The book was substantial, well written, and very detailed. I savoured the choice of words, the education given by the author, and simply the feel of a good, solid book in my hands. My reading friends will understand! It is something that cannot be put into words, but I suppose a close analogy is that of the devoted football fan. Where a fan will follow his or her team all around the world to experience the joy and drama of a match, so a reader will give up everything in order to finish a very good book. It will stay with them. It will draw them in to a whole new world, and for days after finishing, the reader stumbles around in a state of almost-reality, still living the life of the protagonist and the world of the story.

I am in this place right now. I can't think straight, because I am thinking about the book. The characters are my people, my friends, and I feel a part of that world, even though it talks about a place that I have never physically visited. That is the result of a true story teller. And I hope that people who read my novels feel a similar connection, and follow a similar journey as they connect with my Redcliffe characters. Oh, and this week you can see me over on the blog of fellow author Diana Rubino. Check me out!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

My #amwriting Journey: Taking Time for Inspiration

My writing has slacked off again recently. I am not too concerned about this, however. We are, after all, in the middle of the national school summer holidays, and I have been focusing time on being sociable with friends and family. I have also been distracted by my children, as always. But I actually feel better for not putting pressure on myself to write every day. I mean, yes, when it works for me, I quite happily get up earlier in the morning or stay up later at night to type a few more pages on my work in progress. But when I am not physically writing, I am gathering inspiration.

Sitting on a bus a few days' ago, I looked at my fellow passengers, and I watched the world go by from the window, and I began to process and store little snippets of prose for later use. I didn't even write any of it in my notebook. I was soaking up the atmosphere and energy, rather than forming specific sentences and structures. I believe this is just as important for a writer as the actual process of creating a manuscript. If you don't feel the work, you will not give it your full attention, and the finished piece will never be quite substantial enough. Take some time to feel the energy of your writing, and the structure will be far more solid in the end.

Have a fabulous week my writing friends!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

#BlogHop - Meet My Main Character

I have been nominated by Alex Sumner to join the ‘Meet My Main Character’ blog hop. Thank you, Alex! I accept your invitation. Today I will introduce you to Marcus Scott, formerly a minor character in the Redcliffe novels, and now lead character in The Darkness of Love. He turned out to be a rather strong personality, and he would not leave me alone until I wrote his story!

Here he is, Marcus Scott, vampire:

1. Tell us a little more about this character. Is he fictional or a historic person?

Marcus Scott is a fictional character. He is suave, intelligent, slightly cheeky, and it seems he was born to be a vampire. He took to the role very well indeed!  He is tall, with light blond hair and ice blue eyes, and his skin is pale. He is English. Marcus is a wealthy businessman in contemporary Redcliffe, Cornwall, but his story begins many years ago…

2. When and where is the story set?

The Darkness of Love is set in Victorian England, roughly around 1860. Marcus Scott is a stable boy on the lavish Hampshire country estate of his employer, Lord Gregory Stockton.

3. What should we know about him?

Marcus is an intelligent boy, and he has ambitions to better himself as he grows older. At the time this story is set he is 23 years old. He was born and raised on the estate,  he is an only child, and his parents work as cook and gardener for Lord Stockton. The family are deeply devoted to their lord and master, who paid for Marcus and other local children to attend school when they were young.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

Marcus falls into a classic romantic trap. He falls in love with the beautiful Lady Sarah Stockton. She is a young woman, a similar age to Marcus, and he develops an infatuation with her. She appears to be very frail and delicate, a proper lady of the times, always obedient to her powerful husband. Marcus convinces himself that she cannot be happy in her gilded cage, and he decides to try and rescue her. Little does he know that his master has other plans for the young man who will become the vampire’s heir. Jealousy, love and passion run amok in The Darkness of Love.

5. What is his personal goal?

In this novel, Marcus simply wants to run away with Sarah, rescue her from her domineering husband, and set up his own business somewhere else in the country. He craves adventure and excitement in his life, and he yearns to experience city life, and to learn about the new industry that is growing at a rapid rate in the British Empire.

6. What are the titles of your novels, and where can we find them?

The Darkness of Love is a standalone historical paranormal romance. Published by Chances Press, it is widely available in both paperback and eBook formats.

Christmas With The Vampires is a Kindle short story featuring Marcus Scott in an Edwardian romantic adventure. It is published by Chances Press.

Love Hurts (A Redcliffe Novel) is book 1 in my contemporary adult paranormal romance series.

Love Kills (A Redcliffe Novel) is book 2.

Love Redeems (A Redcliffe Novel) is book 3 and concludes the trilogy, although the series is open to development.

All three Redcliffe novels are published by Mirador and are widely available in both paperback and eBook formats.

I have short stories published in Young Adult anthologies Devils, Demons and Werewolves (The Teen Game by Catherine Hargreaves), and The Mirador Fantasmagoria (My New Master by Catherine Green).

7. When can we expect your next book to be published?

I am not sure. My next novel is called The Vampire of Blackpool, but I have pitched it to agents and awaiting a response. I am currently writing a teenage zombie romance novel, a vampire hunter novel featuring angels and demons, and I have started writing book 4 in the Redcliffe series, as yet untitled. There are also a few short stories in progress, all featuring my favourite vampire and werewolf characters, with a few witches and other were animals thrown in for good measure…

If you would like to keep updated on my work you are welcome to sign up for blog updates, or find me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

And now, nominations. I am going to throw this out there and nominate the following authors to share their characters with us.

Debz Hobbs-Wyatt
Alex Laybourne
Flossie Benton Rogers
Lorraine Reguly

I know you are all busy, so feel free to join in or not as your work schedules allow. Happy hopping!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Not Quite a #CampNaNoWriMo Winner

Well, I didn't win Camp NaNoWriMo this year! I am not upset about it, however. In fact, I feel quite proud that I finally did some writing, even if it was only 8068 words towards my original target of 25,000. I have been on such a depressing emotional roller-coaster lately, as I try desperately to write and market my books single-handedly while raising two young children by myself. The only relief is that I have a husband to earn the family income. If I had that responsibility as well, I think I would just give up altogether, at least for a while.

Anyway, back to the subject. Ah, the joys of being a writer. We always seem to sidetrack, our minds whirl away into another time and place, and we take far longer to reach our original destination because of all the distractions. So I didn't win Camp NaNoWriMo this year. No matter. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the challenge, and in the future I look forward to having more time to devote to actually exploring the forums and interacting with my cabin mates. And, ultimately, I have another WIP to add to my collection, and I will continue to work on it when my children allow, so that I can build my portfolio over time.

As for the marketing, well, that is always ongoing. It will improve when I learn more, when I understand more about where to spend my time and effort, and ultimately, when I sell more books. At least when I have a regular income I can outsource some of my work... ah, that will  be a joy and relief!

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Role of the 21st Century Author

To be an author today is not enough to earn a living wage. It is almost impossible in fact. It is not totally unattainable, but to really earn enough money just from the books you sell, you have to spend time, be patient, and work hard in the background to get yourself seen, heard, and, more importantly, read by the people that matter. That is, your audience. Your fan base. The people who enjoy your stories, who want to know more about your characters, where they come from, what they do, how you met them. The readers want to know about you, the author. You are a brand.

It has taken me a few years to learn this. Back when I finally started to write my novel, got some short stories published, and decided that actually, I am quite good at this, I thought I was made. I could have my first novel published and I would be up there with all the greats, earning my millions and churning out more books for my adoring fans. It didn't quite happen like that. I'm still waiting for it. I am still seeking those adoring fans. I know they are out there (maybe you are one of them, please say hello, it would really make my day!)

The truth is that the role of the 21st century author is not just to write stories. That is only the beginning process of our job. Most of us publish our stories because they simply have to be told. My fellow writers will understand that nagging urge, that commanding voice as the characters take physical form and force themselves through your hand and onto the page. You have to write. It is as essential as eating. We feed the force within that requires nourishment, or we face the prospect of withering away to a mere empty shell of a human. Yes, being a writer is that important to me.

So we write. We publish. It is easier to do that these days, what with modern technology and eBooks and all the rest of it. But therein lies the problem. Our books are published, and they are subsequently submerged in a sea of other books, other stories, other authors. Some of these authors give all of their time to social networking in order to sell their books, and it works for them. Some prefer to pay others for the service of marketing and promotion. I would choose this option if I had the finances in place, and maybe I will in the future. For now I have to establish how to use what little spare time I have to the most effective outcome.

It is a tough learning curve. I am finally beginning to make sense of all those wonderful platforms available to us. I currently favour Twitter, Facebook and Google+, but I don't spend anywhere near enough time on them doing anything really productive in terms of book marketing. I am still learning. I am studying. If you are in the same situation, please share your experiences, advice, and anything else you can contribute to the conundrum of our generation. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Guest Author Linda Hamonou - Harajuku Kiss #amreading

Today I welcome Linda Hamonou to my blog, with details about her new novel Harajuku Kiss.

About Harajuku Kiss

At times, life can be so depressing. She is walking her usual recovery tour in Harajuku, finishing with a crepe, trying to forget that her boyfriend dumped her once again for the week-end... When the unthinkable happens... A boy stops in front of her in the street and kisses her, in the middle of the street, before running away.
Trying to discover more about him, she is dragged into a dangerous game of mystery. A biologist has been murdered and a deadly virus is on the loose. First suspect: the mysterious Harajuku's stranger.

Author bio:

Born in November 1983 in Brittany, France, Linda Hamonou spent a lot of time lost in Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novels. She entered university to study physics and obtained her PHd at Queen's University Belfast in 2009. Here studies allowed her to travel to Europe and America. She then moved to Japan and after three years doing research in Tokyo, she is currently doing a new postdoc in Sendai, Japan.


There was a foreigner at the gym tonight,” she said, breathing heavily as if she had been trying not to cry. “A bit fat, she didn’t seem really fit. The kind to see a gym only when dragged there.”
I got up and walk a bit further toward them before turning in a very narrow street. That way, I could see and hear without being seen. I was a bit mad. How dared she pretend that I was fat and unfit? I knew that I was not able to run or sustain efforts for too long, but I still looked really good.
Then it’s not the one we are looking for, mine was able to walk really fast, I had problems to follow her,” he answered.

I was proud of me. Someone finally recognized my true sporty potential. I wanted to laugh at me for the thought. I knew that the old man was totally unable to figure out anything about anyone’s true colors, but I still pride myself in his words. I wanted to be so positive that it was actually becoming ridiculous. Kaji's wife was getting closer to her car and opened the door. As the side mirror turned, I noticed a strange shape. Someone was waiting in the street below also looking at them. The detective took his hat off again and the shape in the mirror withdrew. It took me one second to realize. I didn’t care about the detective or Kaji’s wife or even my fear of running anymore. I hold tightly my backpack’s strap to make sure that the bag wasn’t going to move and ran toward the shadow. I had no doubt about it. It was Seiji.

Website Links


Monday, 21 July 2014

Book Review: Mystical Circles by S.C. Skillman

Here is my review of Mystical Circles by S.C. Skillman:

I had been looking forward to reading this book for a while, since I follow the author’s blog and feel she is something of a kindred spirit. The story was interesting and a little bit different, but I have to say the book was not as good as I had anticipated. I found it fairly dull in places, and I really struggled to connect with the protagonist, Juliet. I suppose this was intentional, because the story follows Juliet as she tries to ‘rescue’ her younger sister from a perceived threat after she falls in with a crowd of people that might be part of a cult, and at the very least are of the New Age persuasion in spiritual terms. I personally follow this kind of spirituality, so perhaps I was instinctively feeling protective towards my own kind. Not surprising then that I preferred the leading male character, Craig, because he is the leader of this group, the Wheel of Love. Ultimately I thought there were some interesting social and cultural themes in the story, and it was something that is all too familiar to me, an English woman from a very traditional British working family. It is worth reading if you are more interested in thoughts and feelings, but don’t expect much physical action.