Kindness Shared

To write a novel you have to be comfortable alone inside your head for long periods of time. However, to promote a novel you have to be socially active for long periods of time and acquire a whole new set of skills. There lies the challenge.

Maria Savva was one of the first people to help me on my way, when my memoir, A Life Less Lost, was ready to publish. I’d never met her before and only know her via social networks but she promoted my book and offered advice and suggestions for other things I could try, like joining Goodreads. She also promoted my second book, Once Removed. Her kindnesses provided encouragement as well as practical help.

a time to tellNow it’s my turn. Maria’s latest book, A Time To Tell, will soon be available to purchase in paperback on Amazon.com, Amazon UK and other online retailers. It’s on Lulu in paperback. The Kindle version is on pre-sale at the moment: release date 14th October.
To see her video trailer click here: A Time to Tell, by Maria Savva
Here are the links:
Paperback:
Kindle:

Covers to be judged by

Creating, choosing or sourcing covers can be a bit of a nightmare but worth the effort, if you hope to attract readers. Maria Savva shares the story behind the cover for her latest book.

SONY DSC

It’s always difficult deciding on a cover for a book. I like my book covers to say a bit about the book contents and admit to being a bit of a control freak about them.

I have a Facebook friend, who is also a photographer, Martin David Porter, of Mart’s Arts Photography. In the past when I’ve commented on his photographs he’s often said that if I want a photo for a book cover I should ask. So I approached Martin when looking for a photo for Delusion and Dreams. He sent me a couple of suggestions, but I had by then decided that I wanted a picture of a daisy.

I thought a daisy might be nice because it links in well with both delusion and dreams. Daisies are often used for the game, ‘he loves me, he loves me not’, where someone picks off the petals of a flower to get an answer to this burning question. To believe the answer could be seen as delusion.

I found a photograph of a daisy on morguefile.com, so was going to use that. Then Martin sent me a picture of a daisy that he had taken, and that was nice, so I was confused.

Then I had the idea of sketching the daisy photo that I had found on morguefile. I like drawing, and thought that it would be nice to have original art on the cover. I used my own art for the cover of The Dream, Pieces of a Rainbow, and Haunted. I did start drawing the daisy, but then realised it was going to take a long time to get it exactly right. While all this was going on, Martin posted a new photo to his Facebook page one day, and as soon as I saw it I knew it would be perfect for Delusion and Dreams. For me, the image of the birds flying represents a wonderful sense of freedom and escape (like a dream). The dark side of the photo is great because there is a dark side to many of the stories in the book. I like the ‘God’s light’ also, which adds an extra dimension.

For the paperback version, I also have another photo on the back cover that Martin sent me, which I think is beautiful. The original daisy photo that I was going to use for the cover, appears in my book trailer.

SONY DSC

I hope my readers love the cover as much as I do.

Please visit Mart’s Arts Photography on Facebook. Martin mainly takes band/gig photos, but also has lots

of great nature photos on his page:

https://www.facebook.com/MartsArtsPhotography

Blurb:

File created with CoreGraphics

Twelve stories of betrayal, greed, revenge, deception, dreams, and courage. We all struggle to find our

way. What you see isn’t necessarily all there is. This collection takes you into the grey area, because the world is never just black and white. Life is all about perspective. One person’s delusion is another person’s dream. Includes five bonus stories.

MariaAuthor Bio:

Maria Savva lives and works in London. She studied Law at Middlesex University and The College of Law. She is a lawyer, although not currently practising law. She writes novels and short stories in different genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga. Many of her books and stories are inspired by her years working as a lawyer, although she has not written a courtroom drama to date. Her most recent novel is Haunted, a crime fiction/psychological thriller.

 Author links:

Website:  HYPERLINK “http://www.mariasavva.comhttp://www.mariasavva.com

blog:  HYPERLINK “http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1418272.Maria_Savva/bloghttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1418272.Maria_Savva/blog

Facebook Page:  HYPERLINK “https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Maria-Savva/171466979781https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Maria-Savva/171466979781

Twitter:  HYPERLINK “http://Twitter.com/Maria_Savvahttp://Twitter.com/Maria_Savva

Buy links for Delusion and Dreams:

Amazon.com:  HYPERLINK “http://www.amazon.com/Delusion-and-Dreams-ebook/dp/B00D0EHJHA/http://www.amazon.com/Delusion-and-Dreams-ebook/dp/B00D0EHJHA/

Amazon UK:  HYPERLINK “http://www.amazon.co.uk/Delusion-and-Dreams-ebook/dp/B00D0EHJHA/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1369585340&sr=8-6&keywords=delusion+and+dreamshttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Delusion-and-Dreams-ebook/dp/B00D0EHJHA/

 

Genres, themes and inspiration

Author Maria Savva talks about the genres, themes and inspirations behind her work. For more information and buy links, just click on her name.

Different Genres

With the launch of my latest novel, Haunted, a crime thriller, many people have commented that I don’t tend to stick to one genre in my writing. For example, my last book, The Dream, was a paranormal, time travel novel, and the one before that was a contemporary romantic drama; I’ve also written a family saga, and a mystery/drama. Within my short stories, you’ll find ghost stories, romance, and even a sci-fi tale, to name but a few story types.

The most common description I hear of me as an author is that I am a ‘multi-genre’ author. This is true. I don’t stick to one genre in my novels or short stories. Even in one short story, I include facets of different genres. I have, however, noticed that there are common themes running through my novels and stories. So although I don’t stick to one genre, I do explore similar themes in my writing. Maybe it’s just a matter of me looking at different themes in different ways with each book I write. To be honest, I don’t set about writing something with the intention of including a particular theme, but as my novels take shape they tend to incorporate many aspects of things that have inspired me in my own life, so it’s not surprising that there are recurring themes running through some of the books.

In this blog, I will explore some of the common themes I’ve noticed in my work. Perhaps this will help give readers an idea of my style, because it’s often hard to categorise my work, so, difficult for a reader to know whether they would enjoy reading it.

Firstly, I would say that I think most of my books and stories could probably be classed as dramas. This is because I tend to have true-to-life characters and situations. Some of my fiction has been described as literary fiction. This may be because I have always read a lot of books and have been inspired by some of the more traditional writers. I do, however, feel that my writing can be classed as contemporary.

The essence of it all is that I love writing and I love exploring different types of writing. I am also a bookworm, and I don’t only read one genre. I like reading all types of books from memoirs to fantasy.

Here are some of the common themes I’ve spotted in my books:

Dreams

In Coincidences and also in The Dream, a dream plays an important role.

In Coincidences, Alice’s dream is what makes her curious about the father she has never met. The dream spurs her on to look for him.

In The Dream, Lynne is told by a strange man in her dream that she should not marry her fiancé, Adam. The man in the dream becomes a significant part of the story.

Why dreams? Well, I’ve always had quite detailed dreams and can usually remember quite a lot about my dreams when I wake up. Often, especially when I was younger, my dreams would contain some kind of prophetic message, that perhaps I didn’t notice until the event happened. This was so intriguing to me that I started keeping a dream diary a few years ago, and was quite surprised at how some of the dreams I was having seemed to almost predict future events. So that’s probably the reason dreams feature in my books and will probably continue to do so.

Divorce or relationship breakdown

I notice this theme cropping up in my work. It’s probably because I worked as a family lawyer for a couple of years and heard lots of stories. My imagination was inspired by all the stories I was told.

In Second Chances, the theme of a relationship breakdown is pivotal to the story. James and Pamela, the protagonists, are on the brink of divorce. James is actually a divorce lawyer as well. So there is the irony that what he deals with at work is also happening to him.

In Haunted, Nigel’s marriage has fallen apart after over 20 years of neglect on his part.

In Coincidences, Alice’s parents divorced when she was just a child.

In The Dream, Lynne’s relationship with Adam is turned upside down after she has a dream warning her about marrying him.

In A Time to Tell, we see another aspect to marriage breakdown. Penny is the victim of domestic violence. Again this is inspired by my time as a family lawyer.

Secrets and lies

I have always been fascinated by the secrets people keep and the lies they tell, so this is reflected in my work. It seems to crop up in all my novels.

In Coincidences, Stephanie, Alice’s mum, has kept a big secret from her for many years. It’s something that almost ends their relationship. When Alice meets her father, there are even more secrets and lies revealed.

In A Time to Tell, Cara has kept a secret for 50 years. When history starts to repeat itself, Cara is facing regret and realising that she may have to reveal all. One regret she has is the lie she tells her husband, who died without knowing the truth.

In The Dream, Lynne is woken up to the truth about her fiancé, Adam, after her dream. His secret is the final nail in the coffin for their relationship.

In Second Chances, Pamela’s secret/lie is one of the things that James has a hard time dealing with.

In Haunted, my latest novel, a long-kept secret eats away at Nigel’s mind.

Ghosts

I have always loved a good ghost story. I also grew up in a haunted house, so it was inevitable that some ghostly goings on would crop up in my fiction.

In The Dream, a paranormal tale, there is a ghost who appears to Lynne.

In Haunted, my intention was to leave the option to the reader to decide whether this is a paranormal story or a psychological thriller. It’s an interactive novel in that sense, the reader decides what they want to believe about the events in the book, and hopefully, I have left it open-ended enough for that to be the case.

I have a few ghost stories in my short story collections. ‘There but for the grace of God’, ‘Visions’, and ‘The Reunion’, in my collection Fusion, feature ghosts, as does ‘The Artist’, in Love and Loyalty (and Other Tales).

Unemployment/being fired/redundancy

Much of my fiction is inspired by events in my own life and I have been out of work quite a few times. I have been fired and made redundant before, so it’s no surprise that this topic makes an appearance in my literature.

In Second Chances, there is a minor character, Pete, who is fired. The circumstances surrounding the way he was fired reflect the way I was unfairly dismissed from a post many years ago. James also loses his job in this novel.

In The Dream, Lynne is made redundant, and I used a lot of the emotions about the way I was feeling about my own redundancy in describing the way Lynne reacts in the novel. Lynne goes through a long and unsuccessful job search, similar to the one I went through.

Love/relationships

This is a subject that is covered in most if not all of my novels, and many of my short stories. I have always been a hopeless romantic even though I am unlucky in love.

I would describe A Time to Tell as a romantic drama. It is also a family saga, but for me, the main theme is that of true love and how love can survive over time and distance.

In Second Chances, at the risk of giving too much away, James and Pamela are a couple who are deeply in love. There are a lot of obstacles and hurdles for them to get over, and the question is whether their love can survive that.

In The Dream, Lynne’s friend Sandra has always believed in soul mates/true love, something that Lynne has never considered in the past. The man in Lynne’s dream tells her she has a soul mate. This causes her to think more about the subject.

Many of my short stories deal with the highs and lows of love and relationships too. Love and Loyalty (and Other Tales), is so titled not only because it contains a story called ‘Love and Loyalty’ but also because the theme that runs through most of the stories, I noticed, is that of love, and loyalty in relationships.

A-C Writing & Self-publishing tips

Maria Savva has kindly supplied today’s brilliant post. She has an impressive list of published works, which I’ve added at the end. Now over to Maria:

Firstly, I would like to thank Kimm for inviting me to write a guest blog for this wonderful site. I’ve decided to write a list of tips for self-published writers. This blog post will be the first of many. I will continue with a series on my own blog in the coming months.

I started writing my first novel in 1997, and before that I wrote lots of short stories. Over the years I like to think that I have learnt a few things about writing and self-publishing that might be of some use to those writers who are starting out, or those who just need a few ideas to help navigate their way in the minefield that is modern day writing and publishing/promoting.

I’m going to list my tips in alphabetical order, to make it easier to use as a reference guide. In this first in the series, I will cover A-C. So here we go:

A

Apostrophes.

These little punctuation marks seem determined to appear in as much fiction — or non-fiction — as possible; they are the literary equivalent of people who try to get into the background when they see someone filming a news item for TV. Apostrophes have a tendency to appear in text where they are not needed, and even the most seasoned writers will admit to accidentally putting apostrophes where they don’t belong. It’s as if there is an apostrophe gremlin who is determined on world domination. It’s important to know when and when not to use these little upside-down commas… perhaps they are just drunk commas; they are often there when they shouldn’t be and missing when they should be there. One thing to note here, though, is that I started this section with the intention of making it clearer as to when apostrophes should be used, but discovered during my research that there are many grey areas, and there are many usages that are acceptable to some but not to others (now I hope you are getting an idea about how stressful the editing process can be for writers!)

In the English language apostrophes are used:

1. To indicate possession e.g. Rebecca’s toy (the toy belongs to Rebecca);

2.  To replace something missing from the text e.g. didn’t — the apostrophe indicates that the o is missing from not; and,

3. Less commonly, they’re used to avoid a word being read as something else. For example, where you are writing a sentence such as ‘there are two i’s in limit’ to avoid i’s being read as is. Although I will explain later why I don’t necessarily agree with some of this type of usage.

Some common mistakes I have noticed:

I most commonly see apostrophes misused in dates. For example, I’ve seen: “Television programmes in the 1980’s”

That in my opinion, is wrong (although there are some that argue it is correct usage. There are many grey areas in regard to use of apostrophes, as I mentioned above). In my opinion, this should just say: 1980s i.e. plural of 1980. The reason I say this is because there is no chance of someone misreading 1980s as something else, so why use an apostrophe?

You do need the apostrophe if you don’t use the full year and condense it to ’80s. This is because the apostrophe is then being used to indicate that there is some number missing at the start. So, if you were abbreviating the word because to cause, you would put the apostrophe in front: ’cause — to indicate missing letters.

I’ve also seen misuse where people think it indicates the plural of something, like: I took some of my CD’s. Again, in my opinion, that is wrong. It should just be CDs.

There is one usage that can be quite confusing and stumps many new writers: It’s and its.

It’s indicates it is or it has

Its is used for possession, so ‘the cat stretched its paws’ (yes, grammar is confusing).

In general, I think you should remember that where you are indicating the plural of something you don’t need the apostrophe.

I’ve just realised I could probably write a book about the misuse of apostrophes and the arguments as to when they should be used… those little blighters would be happy with that, I’m sure.

Another common mistake is where there is more than one person possessing something. In that case the apostrophe goes at the end… for example parents are two people, so if you’re talking about your parents’ house, the apostrophe goes at the end.

Names that end with S can cause confusion e.g. James. The possessive is sometimes seen as James’s or James’

I would argue that the first usage is correct, because of the way the word is pronounced i.e. you pronounce an extra S, so should use one, however, it is not necessarily considered wrong to miss off the extra S.

I could go on for ever here, but I’ll just mention one more common misuse. They’re and their are often mixed up. They’re means they are (apostrophe is used to replace missing letter); their means something belonging to them… and when I say themI mean more than one person. That’s a whole other grammar lesson that I won’t get into here…

So, my advice is to check your usage of apostrophes carefully. There are many online resources you can use if in doubt. Just Google your query and you’ll find some answers on grammar websites or forums.

So, now I have thoroughly confused you about the use of apostrophes, I will go on to the next letter:

B

BestsellerBound.com is an indie writers’ forum. Suspense author, Darcia Helle, created the site in 2010, but before she launched it, she invited mystery author, Stacy Juba, and myself to join her on the site as resident authors. We launched the forum in the late summer of 2010 and it is a very successful forum where indie writers meet to chat and discuss writing projects. We also undertake group projects such as short story anthologies.

I would advise all writers to join a writers’ forum, even if it’s not BestsellerBound. The great thing about being part of a writers’ group is that you can bounce ideas off each other, you can support each other with promotion, and also you can just have somewhere you can go to rant about things like the unavoidable bad reviews.

Blogs:

I think it’s a good idea for a writer to have a blog. A blog helps your readers get to know you a bit better, but at the same time you are in control of what you post on the blog and so can reveal as much or as little about yourself as you feel comfortable with. On my blog, which is on my Goodreads.com Author Page, I interview other authors and host giveaways of their books; I use it to promote my own books and keep readers up to date with my new projects; I also use it as somewhere I can link to interviews I have done, and just as a general place to let people know about my latest news. You can set up your own blog on WordPress or Blogspot, both seem to be quite popular with authors.

Here are links to some of my favourite author blogs that will give you an idea as to what you can use a blog for:

Quiet Fury Books: http://quietfurybooks.com/blog/

The Tale is The Thing: http://thetaleisthething.blogspot.co.uk/

The Farthest Reaches: http://www.thefarthestreaches.com/

Of Cats and Magic: http://michaelradcliffe.wordpress.com/

Goodread’s Blog of author Quentin R. Bufogle: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2662374.Quentin_R_Bufogle/blog

C

Contests/Competitions/Challenges:

For most of my writing life I have entered short story competitions. I have found this a great way to keep my creativity and inspiration flowing. Many years ago I subscribed to a writers’ magazine and began to enter the monthly competitions. I haven’t entered them for a couple of years, but only because of lack of time. What I liked about entering the monthly competitions was that they were always a challenge. There would be either a theme given, a first line, last line, sometimes a photograph, or even a description of a character, and the challenge was to write a story based around this, and to keep to a certain word limit. I believe that by writing these stories regularly, I really developed my skills as a short story writer and these days I find it quite easy to write a short story without thinking too much or planning too much. I think any kind of writing contest is good for developing your writing skills and becoming a better writer. It’s not important to win the contest, but more important that you get something out of entering. I was short listed for many of the contests and I won one of them. Here’s a link to my winning story, The Game of Life, which is free to read on Freado.com: http://www.freado.com/book/9186/the-game-of-life

As well as entering contests as a challenge, you should also challenge yourself in other ways with your writing. For example, I took part in an unplanned writing experiment on Bestsellerbound a couple of years ago, where I wrote an online novella with another author, Jason McIntyre. We wrote the story online, one chapter at a time. He wrote the first one, I wrote the next, etc., and we wrote the story without planning it or consulting each other about how it would progress. That was a fun challenge, and the interesting thing about it was that it gave me a bit of an insight as to how another writer, with quite a different style of writing, would approach a story. If you ever get the opportunity to write with another writer or group of writers, I think that can teach you quite a lot about your own writing. The novella I wrote with Jason McIntyre, Cutting The Fat, is available on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Cutting-The-Fat-ebook/dp/B004KPM27K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342636329&sr=8-1&keywords=cutting+the+fat

Another challenge that other writers recommend is the NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ which takes place each November, when you can challenge yourself to write a novel in a month. I’ve never taken part, but have been told it’s a fun and useful thing to do. Even if you don’t finish a novel in that time, you will have a good start for your next project. It could be used as a way to kick-start your writing if you find yourself in a rut. There is a community feel about the event as many writers take part.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you have, you can follow more of my tips at my Goodreads blog in the coming months: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1418272.Maria_Savva/blog

Thank you, Maria, for your informative post, lots of things to think about. 

Maria’s published works:

Coincidences 2001

A Time to Tell 2006

The Game of Life a short story (Writers’ News magazine) 2008

Pieces of a Rainbow 2009

Love and Loyalty (and Other Tales) 2010

Second Chances 2010

Fusion 2011

Cutting The Fat 2011 (co-author Jason McIntyre)

Flames a short story (The BestsellerBound Short Story Anthology – Volume 1) 2011

The Dream 2011

Isolation a short story (The BestsellerBound Short Story Anthology – Volume 2) 2011

Winter Blues a short story (The BestsellerBound Short Story Anthology – Volume 3) 2011

Coincidences (second edition) 2012

Maria is currently preparing to publish her fifth novel.

She is a resident author at BestsellerBound where readers can meet and chat with indie authors.

Maria also writes book reviews for Bookpleasures.com

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