Tuesday, January 31, 2012

So many things to tell you!!

I'm excited!!
You want to know why?
Because in NZ, it is February 1st and that means Pure Blood is coming out THIS MONTH!!!
Super happy! The trilogy will be complete. I can't wait for you guys to read it :)
Keep an eye out for the blurb and cover reveal soon. I'll also be running a giveaway leading up to the book's release. I hope you can spread the word and join me.

I'm also excited because I was given another blog award today.
I will be passing on the two awards over the next week or so. Look out for my first one tomorrow. Can't wait to hand it out :)

I also wanted to let you know I will be guest appearing on the Novel D'Tales blog tomorrow. It is a very cool blog run by HilyBee (Twitter name) and I am honoured to be featuring on her Authors Not-So-Anonymous spot.

Another exciting thing to happen recently, is that Golden Blood and Black Blood made it onto the Goodreads Very Best Time Travel Romance. They are currently sitting at #50 and #52. Thank you to everyone who has already voted. If you haven't, and would like to help me reach Top 40, I would LOVE your support :)

Another piece of news... I told you there were many things!!

100 Followers Giveaway!

Megan Curd is running a cool competition with some excellent giveaways. It's worth checking out her blog.

And last, but not least...
As some of you already know... my friend, Brenda Howson, and I have co-authored a book. Forbidden Territory which will be released later this year and we will be featuring interviews from the characters, excerpts from the book and a few giveaways on our YAlicious blog as the release draws near.
We are hoping to turn this into a series of one off books about Mica and Lexy - two kiwi teenagers who live in a gorgeous town in the South Island of New Zealand. They are best friends and experts at getting themselves in trouble.
Keep an eye out for their Facebook page... coming soon.

Well - thank you for indulging me in this update. I just felt like I had to get it all out.
I will see you again tomorrow when I give out my first blog award!

In the meantime, I hope you are all having a fabulous week.
Would love to hear what you've been up to. Your comments, as always, are most welcome :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

YA Indie Carnival - Villains

YA writers and bloggers unite each week to share their thoughts, hopes and dreams about what it's like going indie in today's publishing world.

Today is all about the villain

What is it about villains that make them so unlikeable, so despicable, so abhorrent, yet we need them. Why? Because a story would just not be the same without them. You have to have good villains to make a good story. 

So - who make good villains?

Let me think about a few from both books and movies that I have found particularly loathsome and also quite brilliant.

The first villain I remember truly despising was Archibald Cunningham (played by Tim Roth) from Rob Roy. He was so evil and arrogant his death was a truly triumphant moment. It also made me cheer a million times harder for Rob Roy. I wanted to see justice served SO badly in this film. Tim Roth played the role so well, I actually didn't like him as an actor until I started watching Lie To Me :) 

Another villain who has been portrayed beautifully in film, and wonderfully on the page, is Hilly Holbrook from The Help. Again, it is her arrogance that makes her SO unlikeable and therefore so compelling. You want to keep reading. You want to see her go down in burning flames for the way she has treated people. 

The last villain I must mention is the Sheriff of Nottingham (played by Alan Rickman) from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Now he is also a very self-centered and evil character, but the way Alan Rickman played him, made him likable as well. Now this, to me, is excellent script writing... and acting. You want the hero to win, but the villain provides a very entertaining ride along the way.

Now, I know I have missed PLENTY of excellent villains - there are the quiet, calculated ones, the monster types, the punchy shouters and the ones who can actually send a spike of fear through your soul.  But they all have certain things in common - a healthy dose of arrogance, a huge lack of regard for human life and they all possess qualities that you hope you never exhibit in your own life. On top of all that, a good villain (a well written villain) must have a sliver of humanity that we can relate to, maybe a touch of history that makes us realize why they behave the way they do. That last aspect certainly makes writing a fantastic villain SO much harder, but definitely worth the effort.

Which villains have stayed with you after a book or movie? What qualities did they possess that made them so memorable?

I look forward to seeing which other villains the carni's have chosen. You can check out their links below...

Don't forget to check out the latest news on the YA Indie Carnival site.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

One Last Getaway

Hey everyone :)

Well - our official vacation time is coming to an end, so I am toddling off for one last week away before kindy drop offs, school lunches and actually needing to know the date starts again.

I will not be blogging this week, although I will write a YA Indie Carnival blog, but post it a few days late.

Next week I have some fun posts lined up, including a blog award that I need to pass on. Fun!!

I hope everyone has a fantastic week and I'll catch you all next Monday.

Take care :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

YA Indie Carnival - What Reading Teaches Me

YA writers and bloggers unite each week to share their thoughts, hopes and dreams about what it's like going indie in today's publishing world.

Today's post is all about what reading teaches me as a writer.
The easy answer is: SO MUCH!
But let me flesh it out for you a little more.

Reading is a fantastic teacher. You always here that a good writer is a good reader and there are many reasons why. Now that I've started to take writing seriously and am attempting to make a career out of it, I take my reading very seriously too. I can't sit down and read a novel without picking it apart and analyzing what I do and don't like about it. 

Here are a few of lessons I've learned so far...

LESSON ONE - The beginning
I used to always finish a book whether I was enjoying it or not. I would turn each page with the hope that it would eventually pick up and satisfy. Now, I simply don't have time. I will always give an author at least three or four chapters to grab me. I feel like that's fair. 
It makes me realize how vitally important those first four chapters are. There is no time to waffle or slowly work your way into a story anymore, no time for massive chunks of description or backstory. Those elements need to be threaded into the action. The mystery or hook has to be presented early on. 

LESSON TWO - The voice
Voice is vital. The way a story is written will either help you turn each page or turn you off each page. You have to like the author's voice. It needs to be unique and touch a place inside you that you can connect with. I like stories with a quirky voice that has some humour, but also a fair whack of emotional depth.
I always struggle with getting the voice right in my stories, but it is easy to pick the books I like, so I try to emulate what I've read.

At the end of a book, I always ask if the story took me where I wanted it to go. Did I feel tense? Did I feel emotional? Did I find myself cheering for certain characters or worried about what might happen to them? Did the flow of the story steer me through to the end, so that I found the book hard to put down?
If the book was successful and did all these things, I like to look back and see what elements they used to entice me and make my reading experience fast and exciting.

LESSON FOUR - Satisfaction
As a writer I always want my audience to finish one of my books with a smile and say, "That was awesome. I'll definitely read that again sometime." So when I read a book that makes me feel that way, I like to figure out what it was about that book that ticked all the boxes. Usually it's because I was able to connect with the characters, I felt emotional about what might happen to them, the story was well paced with a mixture of action/tension and slower emotional patches, and I found myself thinking constantly about the characters throughout the day, desperate to know what was going to happen to them.

Those are only a few lessons that I have learned along the way. I am bound to learn plenty more as I keep breaking apart these novels and adding all the elements I love into stories of my own.

If you're a writer or reviewer, what do you look for in a good book? What lessons have you learned along the way?

Don't forget to check out the latest news on the YA Indie Carnival site.

Also, check out what the other carni's have to say...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Where Do You Begin?

My friend and I are co-authoring a book that we FINALLY have a name for - yay!!

Okay, so we are co-authoring a YA action/thriller/romance entitled Forbidden Territory.

It is a great story about two best friends who are caught in the rugged New Zealand bush with their two major crushes, Eli & Tom. What was supposed to be a fun geo-caching trip goes bad and the four are soon lost and on the run from some pretty pissed off drug dealers.

I can't wait to get it out there later this year.

We are working on the final edits of the story next weekend and then we'll send it out to a new lot of beta readers for round two.

One thing we have found really difficult though, is the beginning... and it made me wonder if other authors have this same issue.

Starting a story can be really hard! You want something that is going to entice the reader to keep going, give the reader an instant connection with the main characters and also provide enough description and backstory that the reader is not totally lost. You also want tension.

Finding a balance of all these elements is a challenge that we have battled with for months. I think we are up to our tenth re-write of the beginning! We keep on scratching what we have and starting again. Now - I guess you could argue, that if you're struggling that much, you should just drop the beginning and start in from where the story works, but that's not always the best decision.

As a reader, I sometimes like to be eased into a story. I like to get to know the main characters before having them thrust into some terrible predicament. Other times, I want the tension right off the bat. It's fun to be thrown into an action scene then have to work your way out of it, finding out tid-bits along the way.

So which is better?
It all depends on the type of story, and the mood and tone you want to convey. One style can not work for every story. Like parenting, there is simply no formula and that makes things difficult.

I guess the reason we stress and struggle over this so much is because Chapter One can make or break you. The first PAGE can make or break you! If people don't like what they've read after a few paragraphs, they might never give the book a shot.

It makes you realize how vitally important the beginning of a story is.

While I have been wrestling with this, I've stumbled upon a couple of helpful sites.
One is examples of opening lines that have worked well: 12 Ways to Start a Novel.
The other is from Writers Digest with ten great tips on how to make the beginning of a story work: Start Your Story Better.

I hope these are helpful to anyone else out there that struggles like I do. Feel free to add any other sites or helpful books you've discovered in the comments section :)

But let's end with a few questions (because I just love blog posts that do!)...

How important do you think the beginning of a story is?
If you're a writer, do you have any solid methods to get your beginnings right?
If you're a reader, what types of beginnings grab you?

Friday, January 13, 2012

YA Indie Carnival - Books I'm Grateful For and Why

YA writers and bloggers unite each week to share their thoughts, hopes and dreams about what it's like going indie in today's publishing world.

Today we are talking about books we are grateful for and why. Man - I have SO many, but I'll try to restrain myself.

Thinking back over my reading years, I'd like to briefly touch on a few books that have inspired and then a few books that have shaped me as a writer.

As a teen the Sweet Valley High Series were the first books that got me into reading. I used to hate it. My parents had to force me to read each night at bedtime. But then a friend loaned me one of the Sweet Valley High books and I was hooked. I read a book a day during the summer holidays and that's saying a lot for a slow poke like me.

The next series that I totally devoured and got me hooked onto a brilliant author, who has inspired me with some of her great works, was the Mark of the Lion trilogy. Those books are outstanding. I read them every two years and still am not sick of them. Francine Rivers opened the doors to a whole bunch of authors I never would have noticed, another being Dee Henderson. I own most of her books and read them every two or three years as well.

Jumping ahead, I have to say that Twilight was a huge inspiration in my writing journey. Upon seeing the first Twilight movie and reading the series, I was totally inspired to write a trilogy of my own that included some of the magic and romance that Twilight encapsulated. I will always be grateful to Stephanie Meyer for starting me down this path.

Writing wise, three books that I will be eternally grateful for are: Story by Robert McKee, The Writer's Journey by Chris Vogler, and Fiction Writing Demystified by Thomas B. Sawyer. These books are solid gold when it comes to plotting and shaping good stories. If you're a writer and haven't read them yet, I highly recommend you take the time. 

There are plenty of books I've missed, but the few I've mentioned have been highlights. 

How about you? What books are you grateful for?

Find out what has inspired the other carnival goers by checking out their links below... and don't forget to check out the latest news on the YA Indie Carnival site.

1.Laura A. H. Elliott author of Winnemucca & 13 on Halloween, Book 1 in the Teen Halloween Series
2.Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3.Heather Self
4.T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series
5.Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
6.Cheri Schmidt, author of the Fateful Trilogy
7.Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog
8.K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
9.Patti Larsen, The Hunted series and The Hayle Coven series
10.Amy Maurer Jones, Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy
11.Dani Snell’s Refracted Light Reviews
12.Fisher Amelie, author of The Understorey
13.M. Leighton, Blood Like Poison Series, Madly, The Reaping
14.Kimberly Kinrade, Bits of You & Pieces of Me, Forbidden Mind
15.Madeline Smoot, Missing, Summer Shorts, and The Girls
16.Cidney Swanson, author of Rippler
17.Gwenn Wright, author of Filter
18.TG Ayer
19.Melissa Pearl, Author of The Time Spirit Trilogy
20.Heather M. White, author of The Destiny Saga
21.Roots in Myth, PJ Hoover
22.Courtney Cole Writes

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Things To Look Out For

As the new year dawns we all do the inevitable and set ourselves some goals for 2012.

How many of us will keep them?
How many will set aside old goals for better ones as the year progresses?
How many of us will stick to our guns and achieve all we set out to do?

I'd love to be in the third category, but I cannot promise this. All I can promise is that I will put my energy into making as many goals as possible come to pass.

So - here are the things you can look out for from me this year...

- The third book in the Time Spirit Trilogy (Pure Blood) - check it out in February 2012!

- A new book trailer for Pure Blood

- New cover art for the paperback versions of the trilogy

- Paperback versions of the trilogy - in March, April & May

- A blog tour at the end of March - will share details closer to the time

- A new member joining me on my YAlicious blog - excitement!! Can't wait for you to meet her!

- Book & movie reviews, plus a bunch of cool blog posts celebrating YA fiction on YAlicious.blogspot.com

- Author interviews, guest posts and of course - giveaways!! on both this blog and YAlicious

- Hopefully very intelligent, insightful posts on this blog discussing all manner of things to do with writing and fiction

- I also have a super fantastic blog award to hand out - something I will be working on over the coming weeks

- And if the year goes according to plan - the first book in a brand new series will be coming out later in the year

So much to look forward to!

What goals have you set for yourself this year?
How many are a total MUST to achieve?

Can't wait to watch everyone's progress!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Debutante Ball Winners

The party is over. I have danced until my feet hurt, I have twirled until I've felt dizzy and I have loved every second of it.

It has been a total blast. Following each blogger, reading up about their awesome books and spreading the word - it's been so much fun!

And now I get to end this awesome party by announcing the three winners.

It is my absolute pleasure to congratulate....

1st place - Heidi L. Murphy

2nd place - Cindy M. Hogan

3rd place - J. C. Martin

I will be in touch to find out which format you would like your ebooks in.

I hope everyone has enjoyed the Debutante Ball. It was a fantastic way to end 2011.
Good luck for 2012 everybody, I hope it brings you all a ton of awesomeness!!

YA Indie Carnival - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

YA writers and bloggers unite each week to share their thoughts, hopes and dreams about what it's like going indie in today's publishing world.


Okay - so I'm a little late, sorry about that. I've only just got back from the beach. I suppose you all expect me to have a luscious tan, but no no, I live in New Zealand and we were blessed with day after day of rain. I'm not going to complain though, I still got to spend time with my awesome family, play cards and board games, sit around chatting, lie on the couch reading, and watch my boys interact with aunt and uncle, and grandparents. It warms the heart :)

It was a great way to round off a very challenging, but exciting year.
So - what great things did 2011 bring?

- A gorgeous baby boy, and little brother, for my first son

- The completion of a trilogy I had been working on for three years

- The publishing of the first two books of the trilogy

- Some great reviews

- A ton of lessons learned about self-publishing

- A bunch of new twitter and blog followers and some FANTASTIC connections made within the writing world

And what great things await me in 2012?

- The final book of the Time Spirit Trilogy, Pure Blood, will be released (February 2012)

- The paper back copies of each book will be released (March, April & May)

- The final edits and release of my first co-authored book - title still to be decided on (we have a list and we just can't choose!!!)

- The completion of my first stand alone novel, Betwixt (hopefully published by the end of the year, but am not promising anything, because I refuse to put a book online until it is as close to perfect as I can get it!)

- As well as all that awesomeness there is a very strong possibility that I will be moving overseas! My husband is applying for jobs at international schools. We are attending a Job Fair in Sydney over the next three days. Who knows where we will end up. A very exciting and scary prospect!! Just as long as we're somewhere in the world where I can get on line, I'll be okay :)

What does 2012 hold for you?

Find out what the other Carnival goers are up to here...