A gift

Deep down in my secret self I wanted my books, or someone else at least, to sell

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One of the “classrooms” at Arte Umbria

themselves. Like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, I love to sink, undisturbed, into the depths of my work in progress. I do not like to talk about or sell myself or my books.

 

My first book, A Life Less Lost, came out in paperback. I was just beginning to give successful talks without having to lie in a darkened room for hours afterwards, when my second book, Once Removed, came out as an ebook. Being slow to grasp a whole new set of promotional skills, impacted on sales and self-confidence. Several false starts on the next book left me paralysed by doubt in my ability to write. And why would I want to, if it meant I had to face the marketing challenges that came with completion?

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Mealtimes on the terrace

I tried to fill the void with other things but the ache wouldn’t stop howling. Then as a very special birthday present (for one of those with a zero in it) I was given the chance of a writing holiday in Italy! WOW, I know, I couldn’t believe it.

Arte Umbria, about half an hour from Perugia, up in the hills provided an exquisite venue, Sue Moorcroft provided the tuition and the other members of the course gave endless encouragement and fun. The result? I’m writing again! Full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm. Watch this space…

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Thank you everyone!

Paranormal anyone?

I asked Shani Struthers, fellow Crooked Cat author, what drew her to her favourite genre and this is what she said ~

Shani PicFor as long as I can remember the paranormal has fascinated me. Even as a child I preferred darker stories and devoured Ruth Manning-Saunders’ twisted fairytales. I also had a strong stomach for horror films and loved nothing more than cosying up with my family to watch a scary movie on the TV – it was seen as something fun in our house! Although I kick-started my writing career in the romance genre, I quickly switched to paranormal as it’s where my heart truly lies. I’ve also had a lot of knowledge passed down to me from my mother who has a life-long intellectual interest in the Occult, so in a way I’ve grown up with the paranormal all around me. It simply makes sense to me that there’s a spiritual world as well as a material one. Regarding fellow paranormal authors, I’m inspired by Shirley Jackson, Susan Hill, Stephen King and Dean Koontz – all writers I aspire to rank alongside one day!

Shani’s latest book, Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street, comes out on Friday, 27th May.YES2-2

“We all have to face our demons at some point.”

Psychic Surveys – specialists in domestic spiritual clearance – have never been busier. Although exhausted, Ruby is pleased. Her track record as well as her down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach inspires faith in the haunted, who willingly call on her high street consultancy when the supernatural takes hold.

But that’s all about to change.

Two cases prove trying: 44 Gilmore Street, home to a particularly violent spirit, and the reincarnation case of Elisha Grey. When Gilmore Street attracts press attention, matters quickly deteriorate. Dubbed the ‘New Enfield’, the ‘Ghost of Gilmore Street’ inflames public imagination, but as Ruby and the team fail repeatedly to evict the entity, faith in them wavers.

Dealing with negative press, the strangeness surrounding Elisha, and a spirit that’s becoming increasingly territorial, Ruby’s at breaking point. So much is pushing her towards the abyss, not least her own past. It seems some demons just won’t let go…

Gilmore multi

Bio

I write ghost stories – vampires, werewolves and shape shifters need not apply! Influences include the great Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’m also a mum of three children, and live in the funky city of Brighton with them, my husband and four mad cats. I’ve always loved reading and writing but occasionally I venture outdoors on sunny days and walk in the stunning green downs that surround us. Other pastimes include hanging out with friends and just having fun – life’s too short not to.

Buy Links

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

UK http://tinyurl.com/jobnwoo

US http://tinyurl.com/j6jvev5

Social Media Links

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: http://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

Website: http://www.shanistruthers.com

 

 

 

Revolution Inspiration

I’m delighted to welcome my friend, TE Taylor, author of two brilliant books, Zeus of Ithome and T E TaylorRevolution Day.

Hi Kimm, it’s a great pleasure to visit your blog today. I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about what inspired me to write my latest novel, Revolution Day.

I’d had in my head for some time a vague idea of writing a novel about an old man who has had great power but is starting to lose his grip. Originally I envisaged him as a king, with flowing robes and long white hair, but the idea never really got any further and I thought that, like most ideas, it would never come to anything.

Muammar_al-Gaddafi_at_the_AU_summitThen, in 2011 and 2012 a string of autocratic leaders fell one after the other during the ‘Arab Spring’, beginning with Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and including such notorious figures as Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi, who had once seemed unassailable. It occurred to me that my old man losing his grip on power could be a dictator instead of a king, giving my vague idea a context and making it relevant to the present day.

Augusto_Pinochet  Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional.

Augusto_Pinochet Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional.

One idea quickly led to another, and another. I was interested not so much in the specific context of the Arab Spring, but in the timeless issues it raises about the effects of power and its ultimate fragility. Other dictators, such as Pinochet and Ceaucescu, also came to mind. My dictator would not be based upon any particular individual. I would avoid the stereotypes: he would not be a monster or brutal strongman but an ordinary person, initially idealistic and genuinely wanting to do good, but forced by circumstances to compromise on his ideals and gradually desensitised to repression as he clings on to power in the delusion that he alone can be trusted to wield it.

As the ideas started to coalesce, I realised I needed a way to give the long view of my dictator’s rise to power and his descent into autocracy as well as telling a real-time story in the present day. I decided that his estranged wife would be writing a memoir, which could be interleaved with the main narrative. Perhaps she could be a former colleague too, with an insider’s understanding of the regime? That suggested Latin America (with its long history of dictators) rather than the middle east. And I needed an antagonist – someone with a more straightforward desire for power unencumbered by idealism. Another colleague, who resents the dictator’s pre-eminence and is eager to exploit his weakness. Not strong enough simply to seize power by force, he will have to pursue it by more devious means, manipulating the perceptions of the dictator and those around him to undermine his position. Thus my central characters, Carlos, Juanita and Manuel, were born.
Revolution DayOne day, during a writing exercise at Holmfirth Writers Group, I wrote what would become the opening scene of Revolution Day, and simply carried on from there. The rest is – well, not history, exactly, but undoubtedly inspired by it, however indirectly.

Revolution Day can be purchased from Amazon by following this link : Revolution Day 

Or from Smashwords via this link: Revolution Day smash words

Contemporary Freedom

ccnancyjardineToday my friend and fellow Crooked Cat author Nancy Jardine talks about genre in relation to her writing. I’m not entirely sure I agree with everything she’s said so look forward to your comments.

Hello Kim, thank you for inviting me to return to your blog. It’s lovely to pop back to see you.

Some authors quickly find their writing niche and stick with it. It may be that they feel more comfortable with writing political thrillers and that’s the only genre they keep writing in. Or, they only write gritty police procedural novels. Or, maybe they only write historical romances. Many of them are highly successful and their readers are content because they know what to expect from those authors—readers who only want the predictable.

It’s a sad fact of life that other authors who want to challenge readers, or who want to encourage them to appreciate something different in genre or across genres, find their work doesn’t sell well.

The truly mercenary author, I think, finds what genre or ‘fad’ is selling and rides along the crest of that wave—whether or not they enjoy what they’re creating.

I’m still a bit ambivalent regarding my genre comfort zone and I can’t bring myself to be one of those ‘one eye on the profits only’ mercenary type of author.

I love writing my historically based adventures but I’ve also found that writing my contemporary mysteries has given me a sense of freedom. The freedom is directly related to the fact that I don’t need to do so much research since I’m more familiar with the contemporary life my characters might have, or if their lifestyle is quite fanciful, I can find examples of sufficient similar celebrity lifestyles on the internet to make the scenario believable.

When I started to write Take Me Now, my latest Crooked Cat published contemporary mystery novel, I decided to make my TMNx1000main male character Nairn Malcolm an unusual Scottish highland hero. My Nairn was going to be just as charismatic and sword wielding as many of the current highland heroes that can be found in romance novels set in Scotland, but instead of making him a Jacobite, or a medieval hero, I chose to create a contemporary Nairn. I also purposely chose not to create a time shift character, there being plenty of that type of novel available on the market.

Since the story is a romance mystery, I made Nairn a bit more larger than life, yet not the typical hero image at the outset. Though he’s normally the quintessential alpha male, my main female character Aela Cameron finds he’s not at his best when she first meets him. The swooning over my gorgeous highland hero is temporarily delayed since poor Nairn has been the subject of a rather nasty and mysterious motorbike accident. And so begins the fun of the book but also the mystery begins because although I wanted to write an almost ‘tongue in cheek’ version of a highland hero, I also wanted and needed to create a sound mystery plot.

The contemporary freedom for me was also creating amusing dialogue between those main protagonists. Some of the best fun during the writing was during scenes when my strong secondary character Ruaridh Malcolm, Nairn’s father, stirred up some mischief.

If I were asked if Take Me Now is similar to my other writing, I’d have to say no it isn’t because as an author I really tried something different.

Take Me Now is available in ebook formats from Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1QbhUwn ; US http://amzn.to/1MdeuCU ; Smashwords; B&N; and other ebook stores.

Nancy Jardine writes: historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time -Travel Series –Book 1 The Taexali Game).

Find Nancy at the following places-

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com Website: http://nancyjardineauthor.com Facebook LinkedIN   About Me   Goodreads Twitter @nansjar  Google+ (Nancy Jardine)   YouTube book trailer videos   Amazon UK author page   Rubidium Time Travel Series on Facebook http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG

You Learn Something New Every Day…

Today, I learned what an “infographic” is ~ ta-da ->

writing_skills_matter

I’m not surprised by the information it contains, however. What I do find curious is the number of times I’ve been asked to read a manuscript for someone who hasn’t bothered to correct spelling, grammar or punctuation. I can only hope they don’t try to submit their precious work to a publisher or agent in that state.

We authors know that it’s the creativity that really counts. A piece of writing that is technically perfect but dull won’t be published either.

However, a brilliant masterpiece full of glaring errors is unprofessional and shows a lack of consideration for the people ploughing through thousands of manuscripts looking for the next bestseller. They simply won’t read it, if you don’t make it as accurate as possible.

It won’t be enough to rely on computer spell checkers either, sadly. I asked 8 people to read and give feedback on my memoir, A Life Less Lost. They were all well educated, teachers, published authors and a doctor, but I still sent it off to a professional proofreader. It came back with an A4 list of corrections to be made.

If you’re planning to self-publish, this is almost even more important because you won’t have a publisher’s editor going through your final draft. You risk your book looking like some of those cringe-worthy folk who appear totally unprepared on XFactor.

When you’ve spent all that time and  energy on your creation, you owe it to yourself to send it out into the world looking its best.

This is not an endorsement of Grammarly. A chap called Nikolas Baron emailed and asked if I’d post this. For more information, their link is grammarly.com/grammarcheck

On Emigration from Britain

IMG_0569-20%Author Miriam Drori offers this post for us today ~

This is where I get to argue, with tongue only partly in cheek, that we Brits have a harder time than others when having to acclimatise to a new country. Me – Brit? Well yes, once a Brit always a Brit. That’s what I say. And that’s what non-Brits say to me. I’m seen as more of a Brit when away from my country of birth then I ever was in it.

Not that they call me “Britit” you understand. “Anglia – English” is what they say. I’ve given up trying to explain that there’s more to Britain than England. The whole concept of several countries in one is apparently too hard for them to internalise. I wonder if the Scots are about to make that easier for them.

This place isn’t mentioned in the novel, but it’s a place Mark will have visited. The Ministry of Absorption helps new immigrants to become absorbed into Israeli society, although we never stop being labelled as British, American, Russian, Ethiopian, French….

This place isn’t mentioned in the novel, but it’s a place Mark will have visited. The Ministry of Absorption helps new immigrants to become absorbed into Israeli society, although we never stop being labelled as British, American, Russian, Ethiopian, French….

Some of the problems get harder with time, not easier. Foods you miss. Like Marmite, gooseberries and salt ’n’ vinegar crisps. OK, we can buy Marmite, but it’s so expensive it’s not worth it. There are lots of delicious fruits here, but not gooseberries. As for salt ’n’ vinegar crisps, any self-respecting native-born Israeli would turn up their nose at that. Except for my children. Brought them up proper, we ’ave.

Then there’s the weather. Instead of complaining about constant rain, here we complain about the heat. Still, complaint is complaint, so it’s not so hard to get used to this change.

Learning a new language is particularly hard for us Brits. We’ve never understood why not everyone talks our own rich but thoroughly illogical tongue. After all, it’s the only natural one. Every other language has to be learned.

The hardest thing for me has been getting them to realise that Brits come in all shapes, sizes and types. Because I fit their view of the British, I’ve found it hard to persuade them that some of us are loud or rude or noticeably outgoing. “You’re so British,” they tell me.

NeitherHereNorThereCoverFunnily enough, or perhaps not, Mark, hero of my romance Neither Here Nor There, shares this last problem. His French roommate in particular teases him for his Britishness:

“Oh you British.” Claude had wrung his hands in mock despair. “You are so… so… réservé.”

Mark doesn’t think that’s a true representation at all, but he has no way of shaking it off, being a bit reserved himself.

As the story progresses, Mark will need to become strong. He has to contend with much more than his own immigration. He is falling in love with Esty, who is going through a much bigger life change.

Bio

Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London, and now lives in Jerusalem where her daughter has left her to hold the female fort against three males.

Following careers as a computer programmer and a technical writer, Miriam has been writing creatively for the past ten years and has had short stories published online and in anthologies. Neither Here Nor There, published on 17 June 2014, is her first published novel.

Miriam began writing in order to raise awareness of social anxiety. Since then the scope of her writing has widened, but she hasn’t lost sight of her original goal.

Links

Miriam’s website: http://miriamdrori.com/

Neither Here Nor There is available from:

Crooked Cat Books

Amazon

Smashwords

Risk and Sacrifice

I “met” author Elaine Violette through a Yahoo group. Today she discusses the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERArisks that come with sacrifice in A Kiss of Promise, her new novel.

51bAZNxhCAL._AA160_In A Kiss of Promise, a Blush historical romance, the heroine sacrifices all for love. What would you sacrifice for someone you love?  I believe that most of us would sacrifice our lives to save our loved ones. Are we willing to sacrifice our reputations, the very essence of who we have created ourselves to be in the eyes of our world? Would we let it all go and risk total ruin to save a loved one?

In Alaina’s world in A Kiss of Promise, a ruined reputation makes her an outcast in her society, scorned by her peers, and tossed aside as a prospective bride.  Yet, she chooses ruin to save her brother.  Fear for his life pushes her to take risks and accomplish what she never thought possible. Many of us have experienced tragedies in our lives that have pushed us to do things beyond what we thought we were capable of doing.

Perhaps, because I have found this true in my own life, I have created characters that must overcome their deepest fears to accomplish what means most to them. Alaina’s determination to save her brother forces her to forfeit her greatest personal desire: to be with the man she loves.

This second book in the Blackstone brother’s saga promises ultimate sacrifice and intrigue. Can love survive when it appears everything else is lost? In our own lives, we give and receive every day, but how much are we willing to sacrifice for love?

I hope readers will be captivated by Alaina’s journey in A Kiss of Promise.

Book back blurb:

Adventurer Martin Blackstone escapes the stuffy rituals of England to seek his destiny in America. He leaves Alaina Craymore behind, believing she is better off without him. Suffering under the scandalous circumstances surrounding her father’s death, only Alaina’s love for Martin and the memory of their one stolen kiss have kept Alaina steady. But she hasn’t heard from Martin in far too long and cannot wait forever in the hopes that he will return from America. Just as Alaina begins to recover, one of her father’s associates emerges from the shadows with a choice—she must pose as his fiancée in America or he’ll send her brother to prison on charges of forgery. Willing to endure ruin and an uncertain future, Alaina agrees—she can do no less for the brother who’s spent his entire life protecting her. Only the man who spurned her can save her from the black mailing scoundrel and a ruined reputation.

Martin hasn’t forgotten Alaina or the kiss they shared. When word of her sacrifice reaches him, he’ll move heaven and earth to find her and make her his, no matter the cost.

Will the strong-minded, independent Alaina chose ruin over the fear that a marriage proposal has been offered out of duty rather than love?

 A Kiss of Promise continues the story of the Blackstone brothers, introduced in Elaine’s debut Regency, Regal Reward. It will be released on April 3rd, 2014 by Ellora’s Cave Publishing under their Blush imprint and is presently available for pre-order on Amazon and most other sites.

A Kiss of Promise available at Ellora’s Cave  http://www.ellorascave.com/a-kiss-of-promise.html

For your Kindle http://amzn.com/B00HQH99V6

For your Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/A-Kiss-of-Promise-Elaine-Violette

On her website www.elaineviolette.com

Visitors can follow Elaine on Facebook at www.facebook.com/elaineviolette/author

and Twitter https://twitter.com/elaine_violette

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