Friday, 30 March 2012

Blogging Break

I've decided to take another break from blogging. With all the changes going on in my life, I just can't give the time I would like to it at the moment. I'm conscious of the fact I'm not responding to comments and emails, or visiting my friends blogs. More than that, what I need now is some time free from pressure. I need to concentrate on me and where I'm heading in the short-term. I also want to get back to reading and writing for the pure enjoyment of it, and to concentrate on my novel. I hope that makes sense.

I'm not disappearing altogether, though. I will still be on Facebook, and posting updates. If you've not friend requested me, please click on the link to your right. I'd like to stay in touch. I will also be checking my email every week.

For everyone who is about to embark on the A to Z Challenge, have fun. To you all - the best of luck with your writing dreams and take care.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

It's a book Jim but not as we know it . . .

My friends I have sad news. The Tribute to the Stars anthology I posted to James T. Kirk . . .I mean William Shatner has come back unclaimed. Where it's been since August 2011 I don't know - perhaps on an eight-month voyage into the unknown to seek out new readers and new film deals. Perhaps in a dark damp corner of some sorting office.

All this time I was excitedly awaiting a thank you letter from Mr. Shatner (well, his publicist at least) and he hadn't even received the anthology or read the story I'd written as a tribute to him. So, what now? Re-send to the same address? Send him a twitter message asking him for the correct address? Given he has 994,995 followers, the odds are high he won't even read it.

All I can say at this moment is:

Monday, 26 March 2012

Work-In-Progress Teaser

The gorgeous and talented Madeleine Maddocks over at Scribble and Edit tagged me last week. Here are the rules for The Lucky 7 Meme:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 sentences or paragraphs, and post them as they are written.
4. Tag 7 other authors.

Here is the seven-paragraph excerpt from my YA dystopian WIP, Next Life:

I barely have time to think before Christie starts running back towards the food centre. There is no point in trying to stop her; I may be a faster runner but what if I did catch up with her? What could I do to keep her quiet? What would I do to prevent her speaking the truth?

Jeremiah is already locked in my father's office or worse, evicted. Jack is here but how safe is he with me? How long will it take for my father to talk the town into terminating Jack because they were already most of the way there from what I'd seen and heard at first meal?

My head hurts. Questions without answers are clawing their way around my brain in search of a plan. A solution. Then it hits me; a thought so terrible it nearly winds me.

I turn to Devon, who is watching Christie disappear into the distance, and realise I must do the one thing I swore I never would - I must betray our friendship.

"You have to take Jack into the woods and hide," I say, hoping just asking will be enough to make him do it.

Devon turns towards me, his face reddened with anger, and then points in Jack's direction. "You want me to take him . . .it and hide? A Fac?"

"Yes," I say. But I already know Devon will never do it unless I make him. I can see it in his eyes. "If you don't hide him I will tell my father that it was you who caused my boundary infraction and we both know he's been looking for an excuse to evict your family from Hometown."

*
Now for the seven authors I must tag:

Jarmara Falconer
Colene Murphy
RaShelle Workman
Martin T. Ingham
Mark Murata
Michael Di Gesu
Densie Covey

As always, let me know what you think. But please remember it's only the first draft.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Jeffrey Beelser's Spell of Entrapment Blog Tour

Today I'd like to welcome self-publishing author Jeffrey Beesler onto my blog, as part of his Spell of Entrapment Blog Tour. Over to you, Jeffrey:


Thanks for hosting me today, Ellie! This has been a wonderful blog tour, and it’s great to have the support I’ve gotten over the past few days in promoting my debut fantasy novel, Spell of Entrapment. When I set out writing the novel, I spent countless hours alone at my keyboard, trying to get the right words down on the screen. To the casual observer, it seemed like a lonesome activity.

I will not contest that the act of writing is one-sided. To apply words to the page, you have only yourself involved in the act, at least when it comes to the rough draft. As you go along with revisions and final drafts, you’ll certainly seek out others to help you out. An editor or a beta reader can go a long way to helping you out, even in the self-publishing journey.

But writers are not the only ones who take a seemingly lonely journey. Our characters also go through such plights. Take for example the protagonist in Spell of Entrapment, Embekah Mare. She’s spent twenty years in exile, her social life completely obliterated, just to avoid capture for a crime no greater than affiliating herself with a thieves’ guild that’s now defunct. The only companion she has at the novel’s onset is her pet toad, Halscrad. 

Yet Embekah doesn’t let her lack of friends keep her from living her life as near close to fulfilling as it can get under the circumstances. And sometimes the business of the day forces her to go to town, too. At least, until a certain spell is cast…

Bio: Jeffrey Beesler was born on May 2nd, 1978. In addition to self-publishing his debut novel, Spell of Entrapment, he has had a short fantasy story published in Abandoned Towers #4, The Broken Pipes of Drei City.  He is a graduate of the LongRidge Writers Group correspondence course, Breaking into Print. His book can be purchased here:




Blurb:
When a knight, Sir Patrew of Trava, infiltrates sorceress Embekah Mare’s home, a magical backlash renders her unconscious. She awakens to discover a spell of entrapment binding them both inside the manor’s walls. Now forced to live with him after twenty years of solitude and exile, she must navigate her way through alternating feelings of distrust and attraction.

As the weeks pass with no end in sight of the hex, a shape-shifting spirit arrives inside the magical barrier’s walls to target Embekah specifically. When she seeks out Patrew’s help against this new threat, she uncovers a secret in his past that could very well destroy her future. With the help of her trusty toad Halscrad, Embekah must see through the deceit and find something long lost to her.

But not everything is as it seems. With lies all around her, Embekah finds the truth to be more elusive than the freedom right outside her manor. Can she survive long enough to figure out what’s real and what isn’t?


Thank you Jeffrey. That was a fascinating insight into your writing journey and self-publication. Don't forget to check out the rest of his blog tour.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Dear Agent . . .

I thought I'd go for something a little light-hearted today. Have fun.


Dear Agent,

Thank you for reading my manuscript, which you eloquently described as __________________________. No-one else, not even my critique partner and beta-readers, warmed to it. Why couldn't they understand ____________________________? One of them described it as '__________________________'! But you got it, dear agent, and that is why __________________.

Whilst I am emailing, I wanted to let you know my idea for the cover. I think it should have ______________________ and ___________________, and possibly ___________________. Let me know what you think.

Well, that is it for the moment. Please, please reply to this email, and include __________________ if possible.

Love as always,
____________


Just fill in the blanks.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Are You A Blogger Or A Writer?


In last Thursday's post, Dead Tired Writer, I talked about being overwhelmed by everything happening in my life right now, and how I felt like I was constantly behind. It seemed as if I had only enough time to blog or write, not both.

As if by some prophetic coincidence, the latest copy of Mslexia (Issue 53) arrived in the post that day, containing an article that really made me stop and think. In Blogaholic (pages 16/17), Kona Macphee asks, 'Is it possible to be a poet and a blogger at the same time?'.

Macphee details her blogging journey from posting daily about her thoughts from December 2010 to April 2011, to almost nothing by July 2011. In her words, she explains how she over-blogged, having started with a 'ridiculous expectation of how much content I could/should be able to produce whilst still maintaining my core creative life as a poet.' What really hit home for me was how as a perfectionist her blog eventually became a 'punitive regime' rather than a simple outlet for her thoughts. How blogging got in the way of doing all the things which inspired her creativity - reading, enjoying music, visiting inspriational places.

How many of us started our blogs with unrealistic blogging expectations? I certainly did. Back in May 2010 I believed I could blog three or four times a week, and I did. What I quickly learnt was that along with blog posts came followers and their comments, which is a good thing - after all, we all want a core base of followers to read and help promote our books once they are published. We also find friendship and support in sharing our followers journeys. But keeping up blogging etiquette (responding to comments and visiting followers blogs) takes time. Lots of it. And if you are a perfectionist like me, you constantly worry about what you haven't done.

So, what is the answer?

Macphee goes on to make an important point. If you are a career blogger - your blog is a valuable source of income - regular posts and increasing/maintaining your following is important. But if you are a writer, and your blog is secondary to that writing, maintaining your blog really doesn't matter.  What matters is your writing, first and foremost.

I'm not sure I agree with her one hundred per cent - if you are a published writer, then your blog is a shop window to your books and you, so it does matter. However, if you're like me, still chasing that elusive publication dream, it's about prioritising. At this moment in time what is more important - maintaining your blog or your writing? I know which mine should be. What it has to be if I'm ever going to finish my book.

How about you?

An aside: as of writing this post I have read all the comments to last Thursday's post, just not responded to them yet. Do I feel guilty about that? Of course. Could I have found the time? Maybe. But then I haven't read or written either.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Dead Tired Writer


Do you ever feel like this? Does the myriad of demands on your time sometimes overwhelm you, sucking the energy and inspiration needed to write? Do you feel like you could never lift a pen or type again? Do you feel dead tired? 

I know I do. At least at the moment, anyway. I have so many things going on in my life right now, I constantly feel like I'm a mile behind. It's an exhausting feeling, worrying about what you haven't achieved. But what do we do about it? How do we lesson those demands on our time and re-charge our energy stores? What gives in order for us to have the energy to write? 

For me, I think the answer is blogging. Write my book or blog. There isn't time for both. But I hate that conclusion. Why can't I have both? And in this time of social media and self-promotion, don't I need both? I am beginning to think I should have written my book first and then started my blog. Only then would I have the time to commit to the blogging world and other forms of social media.

What do you think? What would you be prepared to sacrifice in order to achieve your writing dreams? What have you already sacrificed?

Monday, 5 March 2012

There Be Demons In The Old West!



I submitted my first short story in nearly a year and received an acceptance. Last Ranch on the West, a tale of vampires, demons, and settlers in the Old West, will be appearing in Wicked East Press's Dead Rush.

This is a particularly pleasing acceptance not just because it has been my first submission since last April, but also because it was the story I nearly gave up on. I discussed it here, in my post 'Should a writer ever give up on a story?'.





Lots of you offered advice, with the most resounding answer being no! So after leaving it a few days, I decided to give it another chance. After asking a friend to read it and offer constructive criticism, I made a few changes and submitted it. Thank you everyone for your wise comments - they really do make a difference.


Other News

Congratulations to Laura Diamond, who has landed a publishing contract. Her YA Dystopian novel Endure will be published by Kae Wilson Publishing this year. Pop over to her blog and celebrate with her.

Alex J. Cavanaugh has started week two of his CassaFire Publication Party. Don't forget to check in to see how it's going.

The first of Rachel Morgan's The Creepy Hollow novelette series was published today. Guardian is available at amazon.com and smashworlds.com. Here's a little taster:


1. Receive assignment. 
2. Save a life. 
3. Sleep. 
4. Repeat. 

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until one of her assignments—a human boy who shouldn’t even be able to see her—follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion. 

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? But Nate and Vi are about to land themselves in even bigger trouble—and it’ll take all Vi’s training to get them out alive.


Lastly, if you are on facebook or twitter, and are not following me (or vice versa), please send me a friend request or message. I'd love to share your journey.

So, what has been happening in your world over the last seven days?

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Do you NEED books? World Book Day and Zombie Fiction Challenge

First, an apology. If I haven't replied to your comments or emails, and visited your blog recently, I am really sorry. I've been away for a few days and work has been manic. I will be catching up with everybody over the weekend.

With Alex J. Cavanaugh's sequel CassaFire being published on February 28th, and today being World Book Day, it reminded me there are several books coming out in the first half of 2012, which I must read. But it's more than that - I actually need them.

It's hard for me to put into words why I need certain books, just that they'll do more than provide a good read. They'll remind me of what I love about books and the particular author. They'll remind me of the quality of writing to which I aspire, and the publishing success that can be achieved through hard work and determination. Their very existence will be like a comfort blanket I can wrap myself in.

Do you need books in this way?

So what books am I looking forward to in the first half of 2012?


CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh (science fiction at its very best).

OUT NOW







Insurgent by Veronica Roth (second in a trilogy, the first of which, Divergent, is one of the best young adult science fiction books I've read).

Published May 1st






A Million Suns by Beth Revis (sequel to Across the Universe, a stunning example of a generational ship science fiction tale).

Published April 5th






The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (I'm a life-long fan of Pratchett but have never read Baxter. However, I've been told I need to).

Published June 21st






Whilst I'm on the subject of books, I've taken up a more unusual reading challenge - Book Chick City's Zombie Challenge 2012.

To take part you need to devour, I mean read, several zombie fiction books during 2012. Depending on how many you read, you'll achieve a level of success i.e. six books equals One Chomp, 12 books equals Two Chomps and so on. Who can resist?

I've already read Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? and will ordering this one I discovered on facebook yesterday:




Are there any books coming out shortly you think we should be reading?