Monday, 30 December 2013

Goodbye 2013...

Seaton, Cornwall
... I'm really going to miss you.

Occasionally you get one of those years that's just perfect, don't you? And 2013 was one of those years for me!

There was a lot of sea. music and alcohol, and I published my second book. I did a reading in April and a signing in December. I sold some books and several people told me that a couple of my stories made them cry.
Erm, not sure where this is
Marazion, overlooking
St Michael's Mount























I did quite a lot of writing, quite a lot of procrastinating, quite a lot of beta reading. And watches several of my blogger, Facebook and Twitter friends have some fantastic success with their books.

And the sun shone... a lot. It was the best British summer in a very long time. I even managed to develop a tan... well, a very vague tan that I needed to point out to people, but the lines were very obvious to me!

And most of all, I had fun... so much fun!


Saltash waterside, Cornwall
Me, and my hat, and some cider!



Hayle, Cornwall




















So, the only thing left to do is look forward to 2014 (unofficially entitled My Nemesis Year).



I wish you lots of happiness, success and love throughout 2014.
Happy New Year xxx

Friday, 20 December 2013

Merry Christmas



There's a possibility I won't get round to posting anything else before Christmas, so I'm good to sign off now.

Fighting against my hermit tendencies, I have accepted five offers to be sociable over the next week. Which is a lot for me!

No fear though, I fully hope to be able to lock myself away to work on my two books-in-progress! The words flow better when you've got a chocolate Santa to hand.

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

My new book is on its way!

Yesterday, I received the first set of edits from my editor for my next book, Our Beautiful Child. Yay!!

You may or may not know that my publisher, Vagabondage Press, are American. So, the hardest part of the whole process is changing all my beautiful British spellings into American. In Cat and The Dreamer, the first book they published, my spellings were preserved which I was surprised - and happy - about, but policy has obviously changed.

I love British spellings, but after a while I started to accept the changes that involved 'u's, and the replacement of draught with draft. But then I hit the word omelette which doesn't have the te in the American spelling. After publishing my short story Omelette in That Sadie Thing I'm rather attached to the spelling, and currently I've overlooked it. It's very possible I will change it to chicken pie or better still pasty just to avoid dealing with it!

The other thing I hadn't fully appreciated before is how many commas American's use. They are everywhere - the British style (or maybe just my style, I'm not entirely sure) seems to have simplified the use of commas. But my editor would have put one after the but at the beginning of this sentence. In the end I've just gone with it, otherwise I would have ended up unediting all the editing she'd done... Not a good way to conduct a professional relationship!

On the plus side, she has added a couple of semi-colons, and by now you should all be aware of my addiction to them!

UPDATE: I thought I'd email my editor, just to double-double check, and I can keep my British spellings. D'oh. If I'd emailed her before this post, I wouldn't have had to write it! Now I'm going through the ms again.

What do you think about American v British spellings?
Do you have an opinion?
How are you today?


Thursday, 12 December 2013

My ten minutes of fame in my own town

I warned you there would be a post about my book signing - and here it is!

When I arrived, I had a small table to set up on - I think I did pretty well. In fact, before I even arrived, a lady who was having a coffee had already bought one, so I was greeted by the sight of someone reading my book - pretty cool!

Books, badges and chocolates were set up - and no, I didn't eat all of the chocolates, there are still some left - and I waited.

There was an initial flurry of customers (friends) who'd promised they'd come...

... and then it settled down. The bookshop owner had asked her journalist friend to pop in and interview me - it was my first ever face-to-face interview, but I didn't have time to get nervous because he jumped straight in. I think it would have been a different matter if I'd been warned - far too much time to worry and panic!

Outside, we had a couple of musicians playing...







A few more friends came in and bought the book, and even a couple of strangers. I got quite good at making random conversation with people sitting at tables and trying to enjoy their coffee and cake in peace. I tried to tweet but I was in a Twitter black spot so it didn't work - I had to randomly walk outside and wave my phone around.

All in all, it was a really fun morning. But exhausting. Trying to be nice to people while they're trying their best to ignore you in case you force them to buy a book is hard.

The owner introduced me to a customer. The customer said: "We've got an author in our village, [insert random name here]."
"Oh," said I, having never heard of the author, and having no idea which village this woman was talking about!

The only problem I have now is that all these people who know me as their jolly, upbeat gym instructor will have a whole different opinion of me...

And finally, I saw this as I was leaving... (the shelf is labelled such, not just my book).



Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Ghosts of Aquinnah

Please give a warm welcome to Christopher Casey, one of the characters in Julie Flanders's new novel, The Ghosts of Aquinnah. After hearing about this book for so long, I am desperate to get my hands on it!

Aquinnah, Massachusetts

The Ghosts of Aquinnah Character Interview 

What is your name?
Christopher Casey

What do you look like?
I have dark curly brown hair and brown eyes, I always seem to have the beginnings of a scruffy beard on my face. I’m athletic and wiry and because I’m Irish I’m cursed with pale skin. 

When were you born? Where do you live?
I was born in 1863 and at the moment I’m bouncing between homes. I was born in Galway, Ireland and lived there until recently. Then I moved to Boston, Massachusetts and have recently lived with the Winslows in the town of Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard. That didn’t work out too well, so now I’m temporarily living in the fishing village of Menemsha on the Vineyard. 

What has been the most important event in your life?
I left Boston on January 17, 1884 to sail to Savannah, Georgia on The City of Columbus. I’ve always wanted to live where it’s warm. I didn’t get very far, as the ship sank off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. My life has been a bit strange since I ended up on this island. I’m fortunate I survived the wreck though, as more than 100 people didn’t.

Have you ever been in love?
I am now, actually. Crazily so.

Do you hold grudges?
No, not really. Life is too short for that, isn’t it? 

Who is the person you respect the most? Despise the most?
I respected my mother. She raised me on her own because my father died before I was born. She’s dead now though. I can’t say I really despise anyone, but I’m not particularly fond of Josiah Winslow. 

What goal do you most want to accomplish in your lifetime?
I want to marry Stella Winslow.







Blurb:

A brilliant flash of light transcends through time.

Another freezes a cloaked figure within a frame of salty mist as waves crash against a rocky shore. Her harrowing expression shadows the beacon to a pinprick.

By the next blaze, she is gone. Only the lighthouse remains.

Hannah’s eyes blink in step with each heartbeat. Images of her deceased parents and Martha’s Vineyard explode like firecrackers inside her mind.

She shakes her head.

For weeks this eerie woman dressed in nineteenth century garb has been haunting my webcam, but tonight she stared into my soul.

Why? ...

Who is she? ...


Casting aside months of research on historic lighthouses, Hannah drives to the coast and boards a ferry.

What is the strange connection she has to this mysterious woman suspended in time?

Hannah finds out.

But, it’s not at all what she expects...

Hannah unravels a century old murder.

Buy The Ghosts of Aquinnah:




Author Bio: Julie Flanders is a novelist and freelance writer in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a life-long love affair with the ocean and has spent more summer vacations than she can count on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. When not writing, Julie can be found playing with her pets, reading, cheering on her favorite sports teams, and watching too much television. The Ghosts of Aquinnah is Julie’s second novel. Her debut novel Polar Night was released in February, 2013 by Ink Smith Publishing.




Find Julie at:
 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Return to Canterbury

It's my huge pleasure to help Melissa Ann Goodwin with the cover reveal of her new novel Return to Canterbury, the sequel to The Christmas Village which I'm reading at the moment with my son.


About Return to Canterbury:
Things have settled down for thirteen-year-old Jamie Reynolds since last Christmas. That’s when he time-traveled to 1932 and wound up in the town of Canterbury, Vermont. There he met Kelly and Christopher Pennysworth, who quickly became his best friends. Back in his own time again, he misses them every day.

But, as the July 4th, 2008 holiday approaches, the biggest black cloud hovering over Jamie’s life is the mystery of what happened to his dad, who has been missing for almost a year.Little does Jamie know that he will soon reunite with Kelly and Christopher for an adventure even bigger than their last. Together they’ll uncover a secret plot that threatens to destroy Canterbury. But will they be able to stop it before it’s too late? And will Jamie finally solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance? Return to Canterbury with us and find out!

If you're in the US you can enter a giveaway for Return to Canterbury right here.







Find Melissa on her blog here

Put Return to Canterbury on your Goodreads TBR list here

Buy The Christmas Village here


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

IWSG: I'm being haunted by my character

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for December's IWSG post. To find out more about this amazing group, and to sign up, check our the website here.

Here's the truth: I get haunted by some of the characters I write about - they creep into my head and won't leave, even after I've stopped writing about them.

Dark characters, emotionally-wrought characters. I get weighed down with their problems and their thoughts until it's hard for me to remember they are not real. I dream about them, indeed I dream as though I am them. When I'm writing an upsetting scene I can find myself dragged down even when I'm on my way to work. 

It's not altogether a bad thing, it means I can really empathise, which is a good thing for a writer, right?

In my soon-to-be-edited-again novel, I have a character who disappears into the walls (literally/figuratively - that's the reader's call), and I actually found myself trying to do the exact same thing - in awkward situations I'd find myself creeping closer and closer to the wall, pretending I wasn't there!

Sometimes, I find it hard to come back to being just me.

Of course, this wouldn't be a problem if I wrote about happy, playful, beautiful, confident people... I'll have to try that one day!

Do you ever find yourself being taken over by your characters?
Is this a good thing, a bad thing or a distraction?


Sunday, 1 December 2013

19 weeks

Those of you who've followed my blog for more than a year will know that I tend to shun the normal New Year's Resolutions. I prefer to make mine at random times - my birthday, the start of the school year, Tuesday...

Today is a Resolution Day because in exactly 19 weeks time I will be forty...

I've been counting down to this day for a long time, the number kind of lingers once you reach one of the other ages. It'll be a different age for all of you, but then - suddenly - it will be there, lurking.

Not that I'm worried about the age (despite the very small letters above lol), I don't feel that old at all. It helps that my 20s were a wasted decade. Okay, I got married, had children, bought a house - but I was a passive bystander. It wasn't until my 30s that I started to take an interest in my life.

So, therefore, I'm actually [age]-10, always.

Here are my resolutions to be completed by my birthday (and yes, I might have mentioned some of these before, I don't always succeed):

  • To figure out the business side of writing AND to not look at any stats, at all
  • To have my next novel ready to query
  • To start a new story with the title 19 Weeks, because the more I look at it, the more I love it
  • To complete two pull-ups and ten press ups (injury means both of these need a lot of work)
  • To gather the courage to update my author pic
  • To have a lot of fun, not just the normal amount, but loads more!

So that's mine, what would you like to achieve by my birthday??
(Or your own, if you prefer...)






Friday, 29 November 2013

Do you enter writing competitions?

You don't? What puts you off?
  • Paying to have your story read?
  • The fear of being scammed?
  • The many thousands of entrants in the most prestigious competitions?
They are all good points. After all, if you've done any kind of research about writing and publishing, you'll have come up against the advice to never part with your money. Scams are definitely out there - blogs like Writer Beware: The Blog often share the shadier side of the publishing industry. And yes, if you only enter the large competitions that have prizes in the £/$1000s then more people will enter those.

But... I happen to think that competitions are an important part of the writing process.
  1. Firstly, you learn to cope with rejection. You can't always win, after all!
  2. I used to have a comprehensive list of competitions that I tried to enter. It meant that I always had several stories submitted, and several being returned.
  3. You learn how to work to deadlines, and in some cases to a specific topic.
  4. You might win!
What about those worries you have though? Well...
  • Paying money... I have several criteria in place. 
    • Do I think my story is worth the entry fee? Some of my stories are very short, or not so good as others; some would suit a certain market - say a small writers circle competition - but not an international literary journal.
    • If the limit is 1000 words and the entry fee is £10, I would not enter. But if it was £5 I might consider, if it was £3 I would. You would develop your own limits.
    • Are there any other benefits - a critique included in that fee, an agent reading the short list? 
  • Scams... Isn't that what the internet is designed for? You can research the competition, check out if people have mentioned it elsewhere, good or bad. If uncertain, don't enter. And if the prizes seem good to be true, it's possible they may be. The more you look at competitions, you better judge you will be.
  • Too many entrants... I started quite small - I entered the ones that had a prize of £50 or £100. These days, I may not bother with something so small, but again that limit would be different for you all. Some competitions announce how many entrants they had in previous years, so you can further judge if you want to chance it.
At the end of the day, someone has to win first prize, whether that's £100 or £1000. Why shouldn't that be you??

Some competition listing sites:
Writing Comps (it says UK comps, but there are several US ones thrown in too, and besides most contests these days are international because online entries are so easy.)
Christopher Fielden
Thresholds

These lists will double up, so choosing your favourite interface is probably a better idea than searching through them all. Googling short story competitions will probably provide even more listings that are more US-centric.

Let me know how you get on!


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Thursday, 21 November 2013

I've been writing...

Even though I'm not doing NaNo, I've been writing a lot this month. Until today I hit a bit of a roadblock because my notes - tucked inbetween the pages of my first draft - say 'some more drinking stuff', and although I know it made sense when I wrote it, I can't for the life of me remember what I meant! Today I have mostly been staring into space with my pen poised waiting for the drinking stuff to happen... Maybe I meant I should really be drinking more? Hmm, something to ponder.

And while I do that...


... here's a linked to a post I've written  over on Slashed Reads where I talk about all the Random Things I Search for on the Internet - ooh, that doesn't sound good at all, does it??





What's the most random thing you've searched for recently?


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

What to do when there isn't an ending...

Here's a brief summary:
  • I wrote a depressing novel
  • Everyone thought it was depressing
  • I decided to rewrite it a couple of months ago
  • It's still depressing, but in a totally different way
  • It doesn't have an ending because I completely ripped up at least half of the original book.
Got it? Good. Advice?

Haha... I wouldn't do that to you. But I think I might have written the first endless book.

I'm just a little bit lost at the moment because I usually know the ending before I start writing, even if (as with a couple of stories that will be out soon) I try my hardest to avoid that ending to make a new one. Most of my endings are pretty depressing in their own right, but at least the characters have followed a logical path - and, to be honest, in most cases they are not as depressing as they could have been!

This current story doesn't seem to have a path that won't come across as contrived, pathetic and far too soft. The problem is that without a satisfying ending there's absolutely no point to the story at all - I'll have put my MC through hell for no reason. With the wrong ending, people will never trust another thing I write (a possible exaggeration, but not much) - or it will read like the ending from a different novel has been dumped onto this one.

Tell me about your endings.
Do you always know where you're going?
Have you ever written yourself into no-man's land?




Wednesday, 6 November 2013

IWSG - Right place, wrong place...

Click here to sign up
For the first time since the IWSG started, I am writing this on the morning of the group. Last week was half-term so having the kids at home threw me out a lot, and yesterday I was out and about... and even started the Christmas shopping, which pretty much sent me spiralling into a weird wibbly-wobbly, timey wimey haze.

(And to be honest, I'm so impressed with my previous post with Alison Moore that I wanted it to be seen for as long as possible, which is why I'm linking back to it here... hehehe)

Actually, Alison herself might be the source of my insecurity this week. At her event on Saturday Alison read a couple of her short stories. The friend I was with said, "I can see why you like her, she writes just like you."

Argh! You see? If I write like her, I could have been her. Indeed, our careers started very similarly: we both wrote from a young age, we both had lean years (a job for Alison, kids for me) and we both found time to write more again later on (maternity leave for Alison, a new job for me). But then we veer away from each other slightly. While I was winning a small short story competition for Omelette, Alison was being short-listed for the Manchester Fiction Prize, after already being short-listed in competitions I'd love to get on the long-list for!

One of the judges for that prize was Nicholas Royle who went on to become Alison's editor for her first novel. And that's when Alison stayed on a nice forward trajectory and I started roaming around in circles.

Alison was in the right place at the right time. I've been lucky so far (my publisher Vagabondage picked up a novella I thought was destined for a drawer), but I haven't been stratospherically lucky. So, yes, I'm a little insecure, because no matter how brilliant a writer someone is (and I'm not using that word to describe me!) they need a bit of a push from the universe.

Have you been in the right place at the right time?
Or even the wrong place at the wrong time?
Or the right place at the wrong time...?


Monday, 4 November 2013

Alison Moore came to Plymouth #pibf

Alison Moore
I went to see Alison Moore talking about her latest short story collection The Pre-War House and Other Stories last Saturday, as part of the Plymouth International Book Festival. If I'd been more organised, I'd have taken photos - but it was only as I was leaving that I thought it would be a good topic to blog about, if only to prove I do go out and don't spend all my time writing.

Alison Moore rose to prominence last year when her first novel The Lighthouse was long-listed - and then short-listed - for the Man Booker Prize before it was even published! But she'd been writing short stories and winning competitions long before that. I kind of felt Moore was having the career that I aspire to, so that made me even more curious about her.

As I was writing this I thought Hey! Wouldn't it be great to ask Alison some questions of my own! So I contacted her and asked this:

You were short-listed for the Man Booker Prize with your first novel, does that concern you now that you're working on your second? Are you feeling an extra pressure? (Apologies for putting the thought in your head if you haven't!)
When I wrote The Lighthouse, hardly anyone knew I was writing a novel at all. I don't have the same hidey-hole with the second one but I did keep it all to myself until the first draft was done, and having my collection out this year helped as events have been focused on that, enabling novel #2 to remain in the shadows.

A writer friend of mine wrote a blog post today about people disliking her unsympathetic characters and ambiguous endings, and as a result she's been getting 1 star reviews. You said on Saturday that some people can't relate to your characters either, how do you deal with negative comments/reviews?
I know The Lighthouse won't be everyone's cup of tea - I'm just glad that it's also found plenty of people who have responded to it so enthusiastically. One thing I really like is that some people have found Futh utterly infuriating and yet despite this have found themselves caring very much about what happens to him and rooting for him.

Alison and interviewer Johnny Mains before the event -
with thanks to Johnny for the permission to use this photo
Has the past year lived up to your expectations? Have you found it harder to write with all the extra distractions?
Well it's been like ten years worth of good stuff rolled into one! The success of The Lighthouse has enabled me to write for a living, and I would have found it difficult to fit in writing alongside all the other opportunities except that my son started school this year so I'm writing or doing writing-related work full-time now.

And finally, you've just brought out a short story collection. I love reading and writing short stories myself, but I know how hard it is to convince the reading public. Do you think short stories will ever be given the acclaim they deserve?
I wonder if it's partly about exposure - I don't think many short stories cropped up during my education. My rooting out of contemporary short stories was initially via magazines that I was reading as a writer or would-be writer. I'd like to have got my hands on Salt's Best British Short Stories (edited by Nicholas Royle) and Best British Horror (edited by Johnny Mains, and out next year) a couple of decades ago. Now I've got shelves full of short story treasure - I get very excited about my favourites.

Thank you so much for the interview, Alison!

You can find out all you need to know about Alison Moore from her website.
Alison also appears in The Screaming Book of Horror (edited by Johnny Mains, the host of the event).

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Game On Bloghop



Kyra Lennon's Game On series is centred around the world of football (although, as it's in America, I guess I should call it soccer), and features a pretty fanciable football player called Radleigh McCoy. She wants to know who my sports crush is... Oh dear, here goes...

Actually this was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, because I apparently have an inordinate number of sports crushes. So I decided to go with someone who's probably a little less known than the others - because I like to be unique.


Chris Coleman is my crush - Welsh international player and their current coach. He has a lovely soft lilting voice and his eyes are much twinklier than they look in this photo.

Yes, he does have a chin, but it's really hard to find a photo of a football manager when they're not shouting, frowning or otherwise gesticulating in a very odd manner. This is the most normal photo I could find!




(Other crushes may or may not include Freddie Flintoff, Alan Shearer, Kevin Keegan, Roberto Mancini, and the guy at my gym who can do the most amazing press-ups known to man... ahem!)

Check out Kyra Lennon's blog to check out the other participants
and to join in yourself.
Go on, it's not too late!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Rachel Morgan's The Faerie War




It's party time!!! 
Today is the official online release of Rachel Morgan's third Creepy Hollow novel, The Faerie War. After that cliffhanger at the end of the second book, fans can finally find out what happens to Violet and everyone else in Creepy Hollow. If you'd like to get your copy, you can find it at the following online stores, plus a few others:





There are seven other teaser images displayed on various blogs today. If you'd like to see them, you can visit the following fabulous bloggers:


And there's a major giveaway going on!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 12 October 2013

A boost for the short story?

This week it was announced that Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. And I, for one, was very excited that a woman who is renowned for writing short stories has been honoured in this way.

Short stories are sometimes seen as a poor relation to the novel, even though they are a complex art form in their own right, and can be very hard to do well. Munro has a fantastic style - she can fit the enormity of a novel into several thousand words. Her stories are rich and vibrant and satisfying.

I love this collection, especially.
Trying to sell my own short story collection at the moment, I know how hard it is to convince people to try short stories. Even though people say they have less time to read, they still prefer novels.

Here's my own (possibly controversial) theory: readers are lazy. Why read short stories - with the characters and situations continually changing so you have to start from the beginning again every few pages - when you can read a novel? Indeed, why read a novel - knowing you'll experience that bereft feeling of leaving behind characters you've grown to love - when you can read a series and never have to say goodbye to those characters ever again?

A good short story will draw you in, hit you hard and leave you reeling for hours, or even days. A novel, by contrast, is a slow burner - it can amble and wander, the final punch can seem to be more of a playful slap.

There is surely a huge imbalance between the number of people not reading short stories yet entering short story writing competitions. These competitions are growing and growing. The prizes are growing and growing - the Bridport Prize, one that I've been entering for far too many years, has grown from a £1000 first prize to a £5000 first prize. Well worth entering, but how can people expect to write a brilliant short story if they don't read them?

To return to Munro for a moment, I discovered this article from Open Culture which links to twelve of her short stories, so you can read for yourself.

What was the last short story you read?
Did it hit you hard? Are you still thinking about it?
Do you have a favourite short story writer?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Word splurge

After my many posts of a couple of weeks ago, I've just realised that I haven't blogged for a week.

So, here's a post. 

hahahahaha

Hello, how are you? I'm apparently in a strange mood. Several people have noticed this recently, but it's working for me, because I finally decided which of my three projects I was going to work on next, and actually made a start on it. Although I've already come up against a small problem of not quite knowing what the story is... oops!

I also got very stuck on the first sentence, so moved straight to Part 3. I'm writing it in past tense, but might change it to present. Ideally I'd like to write every paragraph in a different tense, because that's how they're coming into my head... But don't worry, I'm not going to do that - I will figure this out!

I'm slightly annoyed with Createspace and Royal Mail at the moment, because I've been waiting in every day for a delivery of 20 copies of Sadie, and she's currently no where to be seen. I've been trying to track her down, and even had to put in a second order without receiving the first. Today, she is 13 days overdue!

I've been told Createspace can work to their own calendar, so dates don't really mean much to them, but surely it's no way to run a business?

Today, however, I'm going out for lunch and Hubby will be in the attic, so what's the betting they will arrive today? No, I don't put Hubby in the attic when I'm not home, don't worry - he wants to be there. And I'll probably explain why, when there's something to explain...

And finally, it's getting colder in the UK which means my woolly tights, jumpers, skirts and boots will make an appearance!

And finally, finally... thanks to everyone who visited my guests last week, and for all the great comments and support.

How was your week?
Do you ever get confused about which tense to write in?
Have you had any bad experiences with Createspace?
What's your favourite thing about autumn/winter?




Thursday, 3 October 2013

Christine Rains is on a blog tour...

And last but not least on my recent guest post list, Christine Rains has popped in for a very special post as part of her The 13th Floor Complete Collection blog tour.

Take it away, Christine....



NEW AUTHOR PHOTO REVEAL by Christine Rains

The camera hates me. We have an agreement. I take the pictures and never step in front of it. The camera continues to take cute photos of my son.

But it's time for a new author photo. The one I use now is nearly three years old. While it's satisfactory, it doesn't look like the every day me any more. One of the most important jobs of an author photo is to give readers a reference so that if they happen to see you out and about, they'll recognize you. It's also part of marketing your brand. You are as much of a part of your brand as your books. You should update your author photo often.

If you can afford it, get a professional to take your photo. It needs to be clean, simple, and friendly. The background should be neutral. Don't doll yourself up with lots of make-up or wear fancy clothes. Just be yourself. Some people can pull off quirky, but most of us shouldn't go with gimmicks. Think about your favorite books and smile.

I'm more nervous revealing this photo than I was the cover to the 13th Floor Collection. I can't afford to get a professional photo done, but my husband has a keen eye and a steady hand. He borrowed the fancy camera from his work, and we did a photo session. There were several dozen shots. My glasses kept reflecting the flash. My smile was crooked, and there's a freckle on the tip of my nose. Ack!

So here we go. Paranormal romance author Christine Rains.


I can't pull off quirky, but there was one prop that refused to be left out of the photo shoot. This one is for all the Tawa fans!



Have you updated your author photo lately?


The 13th Floor Complete Collection by Christine Rains
Genre: paranormal romance
Release date: October 13th, 2013

Six supernatural tenants
Living in a haunted apartment building
On a floor that doesn't exist.

Six novellas telling their tales.
  • A retired demon acquires a price on his head.
  • A werewolf is hunted by her pack.
  • A modern day dragonslayer misses his target.
  • A harpy challenges Zeus for the soul of the man she loves.
  • A vampire is obsessed with a young woman he can't find.
  • A banshee falls in love with someone who's death she has seen in a vision.
  • And a sweet ghost must battle a primal monster to save them all.
All the stories take place at the same time intertwining their lives together on the 13th Floor.

Author Bio:
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not writing or reading, she having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She has eight novellas and twenty-one short stories published.

Website  //  Blog  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Goodreads 

Buy here:
Amazon  //  B&N  //  Kobo  //  Smashwords 




Wednesday, 2 October 2013

It's Julie!!!! (and a tiny bit of insecurity - mine, not hers)

I'm being insecure at the end of this post - because I forgot about it... oops!

Today I'm welcoming Julie Flanders to my blog to share her new book cover. Looks good, doesn't it? I'm really keen to read the book, after checking out the blurb below!




Blurb:


A brilliant flash of light transcends through time.

Another freezes a cloaked figure within a frame of salty mist as waves crash against a rocky shore. Her harrowing expression shadows the beacon to a pinprick.

By the next blaze, she is gone. Only the lighthouse remains.

Hannah’s eyes blink in step with each heartbeat. Images of her deceased parents and Martha’s Vineyard explode like firecrackers inside her mind.

She shakes her head.

For weeks this eerie woman dressed in nineteenth century garb has been haunting my webcam, but tonight she stared into my soul.

Why? ...

Who is she? ...

Casting aside months of research on historic lighthouses, Hannah drives to the coast and boards a ferry.

What is the strange connection she has to this mysterious woman suspended in time?

Hannah finds out. But, it’s not at all what she expects ...

Hannah unravels a century old murder.



Author Bio:


Julie Flanders is a novelist and freelance writer in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a life-long love affair with the ocean and has spent more summer vacations than she can count on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. When not writing, Julie can be found reading, cheering on her favorite sports teams, and watching too much television. She is an animal lover and shares her home with her dog and cat.

Find Julie at:



The Ghosts of Aquinnah will be released by Ink Smith Publishing on December 5, 2013

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Details here
On the first Wednesday of the month, us writers get together for a mass panic. Today, I completely forgot, so although I have many insecurities this month, I don't have the time to word them eloquently.

So, one question: when you're feeling really down on your writing, what cheers you up?

For me, it's the gym, music and chocolate!





Monday, 30 September 2013

And now for something completely different... Poetry!

Next up on my guest list is Joanne Faries. Joanne is a great blogging friend, who has supported me since Cat and The Dreamer was a mere kitten, so when I noticed she was publishing three collections of poetry with a whisper, I thought I should shout about them for her!!


Amazon US and UK
Amazon US and UK

No memorization required!!!  No hidden meanings.

Amazon US and UK

Follow the links under each title to take you directly to the Amazon page of your choice.



Welcome to my blog, Joanne. I'll admit it straight away, I'm a little out of my depth when it comes to poetry... Tell me a bit about the collections you've just published? 

Thanks, Annalisa, for having me and I'm out of my depth on poetry too. It's the last thing I expected to write. However, I met Sheryl Nelms through Trinity Writers' Workshop.  Her poems were funny and I understood them. I could express myself with poetry, and actually my first publishing successes in on-line journals were poems. Now over five years later, I chose to compile my work and certain themes sorted out - nature/childhood nostalgia/emotion. I decided to keep my Wordsplash title and call these Poetry Puddle. I hope folks splash through the collections and come away thinking, "Huh, I like poetry. Who knew?"

Yes, your blog is called Word Splash and your collection of flash fiction is called Word Splash Flash. I read and loved your flash fiction, so I'm looking forward to reading these collections. Do you prefer writing prose or poetry?

ThanksThe words flow into prose or poetry depending on how the picture takes shape. Some tales need dialogue and become flash. Some teensy thought just needs word brush strokes to become a poem (and they can have a small plot or a character - read Brush Your Teeth in Hazy Memory. It conveys astonishment at my Nana's false teeth)

How do your ideas form themselves into finished poems? I've read thousands of fiction writers' methodologies, is poetry similar? 

I hear a phrase or drive in fog or sit on my patio in Texas having heat stroke - there are a few "hot" poems in Nature.  In Hazy Memory - I reflected on times at the beach or with my grandmother. I had a happy childhood, so these poems are joyful gauzy memories. In Tread Water - I tap some deeper emotions. I have one about communication. It evolved from watching folks dining out and not talking. Everyone was staring at a cellphone.

Have you ever started writing a poem and found it turned itself into a piece of flash fiction? 

Absolutely and vice versa. I'll write a flash and decide I like some phrasing or image, and turn it into a poem. It's funny - I have trouble writing full blown fiction. Maybe it's my business background, but I was great at writing terse memos. Now, the few novels I've attempted - I find them too talkie. I can't seem to expand. I remove extraneous verbiage, and use a thesaurus, etc to choose the absolute right word. I also like the letter "S" - I definitely use a lot of slithery, slippery, skedaddle words.  

Do you float around meadows staring at the clouds like Wordsworth? (Yes, my vision of poets is very romantic!)

In Texas, you float in the pool. Splish, splash.

What question are you dying to be asked that no one has ever asked you?

Which poem has been rejected the most, but you love it anyway? Answer - Hardy Garden and yes it is in the Nature book.
Final thoughts: 
I will say - don't be afraid of poetry. I hope my poems demonstrate that and just make folks happy or nod their heads in agreement at the moment I captured. I haven't studied meter or anything fancy and I don't pretend to think I'm Maya Angelou or Mary Oliver. I try to space the words on the page as needed and sometimes the whitespace adds dimension to the poem story. Sound is important - the words need to clunk, clink, kerplop - they add action and can heighten tension.

I used the word shlop in one of my stories  - I love words like that! Thanks for visiting my blog today, and good luck with your collections.

Joanne Faries