Friday, January 24, 2014

What do you look for in a conference?

I have been invited to be a panelist at UtopYA Con this year. Eeeppp!!!! I'm so excited! It's going to be such a thrill heading to the States and being able to meet writers I speak to online all the time.

I'm also pretty pumped about being able to talk writing for an entire weekend. There's nothing like associating with passionate writers to really get your fired up and inspired. It's also nice to be able to rabbit on about something you love with people who understand just how awesome it is.

I think that's the most beneficial thing about attending a conference - making those connections.

The very first conference I went to was the NZ Romance Writer's Conference in Auckland. As a newbie writer, I got so much out of it, including meeting a person who has become very dear to me...the lovely T. G. Ayer. She has since introduced me to some kiwi treasures who have become my critique partners and trusted friends.

I also met an agent from the States at that conference. I won a breakfast with her and we chatted about books and publishing, she gave me some fantastic pointers and then offered to look over one of my manuscripts.

It was the start of something really huge for me. I learned SO much from that weekend and it was a pivotal experience that set me on the course I'm currently walking.

So in my opinion conferences are definitely worth attending. I am stupidly excited about June this year!! I don't know what I'll come away with, but I'm confident the experience will spark something within me that will carry me further along this road. Whatever it may be, I'm totally psyched!!

Are you going to any conferences this year?
What do you look for when attending a conference?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Linking Worlds

I have a database of story ideas that I keep adding to each time I'm struck with a new idea. I started it about 12 years ago and it has grown to about 90 story ideas now. I probably won't write all of them, but it is fun to read through it every now and then and remember stories I came up with years ago.

These stories re-enter my mind all the time, they come back into the forefront and dance around for a while, sometimes spawning brand new book ideas. The old ideas gets developed during this process and I add more details to my database. My one sentence premise turns into paragraphs of dialogue or descriptions of a few clear scenes in my mind.

I am so glad I started doing this, because as my writing has evolved I've been able to link my stories. Rather than having a database of 90 separate story ideas I'm beginning to see ties....and I'm loving it. You see, I get a little bored writing the same thing all the time. I like variety, so that's why I have so many stand alone stories floating around in my head, but I've quickly concluded that ties can be made between these books and I think that's pretty cool.

Betwixt was originally a one-off story, but people loved Dale and Nicole so much that I decided to include them in my upcoming series - The Masks Series. I'm so glad I made that choice. I love Dale and Nicole too and it's nice not to have to say goodbye to them yet.

As a reader, I love seeing old favorites pop back into stories. One of my favorite series of all time for that is The Chesapeake Bay Series by Nora Roberts. Four novels each following one of the four main characters, in a sense they can stand alone, but reading them together gives you this amazing world and lets you see the characters you loved from the first book grow and change in the background throughout the rest of the series.

I've really taken this concept on board and through this thinking have decided to develop a series of stand alone novels that will all make sense individually, but will also let you see the characters from previous stories having a background role. I've entitled it the Songbird Series. The first book, Fever (due for release in June 2014), I've had planned for a long time now. Originally I was just going to make it a stand alone novel, but then I went back through my book database and I found 9 other stories that all had a musical thread running through them and it sparked an idea. What if I created a series and linked all these stand alone novels together. I could give each book a soundtrack! I jotted down all the stories I thought would fit and easily found links and connections and so a one book novel has now turned into a 10 book series with the possibility of two novellas to go with it. I am so super pumped about this idea and I can't wait to start putting it together. I plan to release 2-3 Songbird books a year, so this is a really long term project, but it's going to be so fun to work on.

As a reader, do you prefer reading series or stand alone novels?
As a writer, do you think it's better to produce series or stand alone novels?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fun Friday: Frozen Reads


Yay! It's FUN FRIDAY. Today all us YA Storytellers are going to share some of our favorite winter reads.

I'm in the middle of winter right now and haven't really had the chance to snuggle up with many books yet. However, over Christmas I did manage to sneak in reading Freak of Nature by Julia Crane. That was awesome. I'm not usually into sci-fi, but this book broke the rules for me and I ended up really loving it.


I've also just started reading My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin, which I'm really enjoying.


Next up, I'm going to take some time to read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers which is a fantastic book I've read numerous times. I want to do a little refresher before launching into my first big round of edits for I Know Lucy.


Not sure what's up after that. My kindle is stuffed full of goodies, so there is plenty of reading for me to still do.

How about you?
Do you have any favorite winter reads?

To find out what the other YA Storytellers recommend, check out the FUN FRIDAY posts on the YA Storytellers website.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

True Colors Cover Reveal

I know I've posted this on my YAlicious blog already today, but I just have to post it here as well. This cover is too beautiful not to be splashed all over the internet.

I want to thank Kate Strawbridge of Dwell Design and Press for giving this book such a stunning cover. Your hard work and patience did not go unnoticed and I love you for all the energy and enthusiasm you gave to this project. You are a talent, lady.


Blurb:

Caitlyn Davis always cruised through life, not being the type to ruffle feathers or involve herself in high school drama…until a chance encounter with a strange, homeless man changes everything.

Suddenly, Caitlyn has the ability to see behind people’s masks. She discovers that her life isn’t as simple as she imagined and her high school is filled with secrets…some very sinister ones.

Unable to ignore her new gift, Caitlyn embarks on a mission to learn why one of her friends now appears terrified, but masks her fear behind a bright, smiling veneer. Will Caitlyn’s new ability lead her into hot water? Or is her new found vision a blessing that will expose her friends’ true colors?

Her quest will lead Caitlyn to lose friends, stand up for those in need, and even find love.

At Palisades High School every face tells a story…

Book Link:

Goodreads



And don't forget about the True Colors Masquerade Ball.


The True Colors Masquerade Ball is happening on February 16th to celebrate the release of True Colors. All party-goers will be entitled to purchase a copy of True Colors for only 99c. There will also be competitions, giveaways and guest appearances from other authors who will be unveiling their own secrets. So come and join in the fun and help us welcome True Colors into the world with style.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

True Colors Teaser

The True Colors Cover Reveal is THIS THURSDAY!! Eeepp - I can't wait to show you guys. The cover is simply stunning.

As a precursor to this fun event, I thought I might share a little teaser with you.

What's a good story without a heart-throbbing crush, right?
Well, Caitlyn's crush is Eric...

I heard a car coming down the road. I craned my neck to see if it was Stella’s VW Beetle, but no, it was the car that always took my breath away. Not because I’m a car chick or anything, but because the guy who drove it...my next door neighbor, Eric...was like the most beautiful human being ever created.

I’m not just making that up. I mean he was hot and then some. Like movie star hot. When he moved in six months ago, I swear I couldn’t speak for like a day. I’d never seen anyone like him.

Eric swerved into his driveway and quickly cut the engine. I tried not to look, but couldn’t help stealing a few furtive glimpses as he got out of his black Jeep shirtless and reached for the surfboard attached to the roll bars. His straight hair was wet, droplets hanging from the long ends before dripping onto his shoulders. I watched one droplet glide over his hard chest and perfect abs.

Yeah, I know I sound like a total perv. I mean I had a boyfriend! But Eric. Le sigh. He would be my secret crush forever.


You can add True Colors to your reading list on Goodreads and don't forget to check back in on Thursday so you can see the cover of the 1st book in The Masks Series.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Indie Life - It's All About Taking A Chance

I'm very excited to be part of The Indelibles Indie Life series. These posts run on the second Wednesday of every month and include ideas and articles from a wide variety of indie authors. Check out the links below to learn more about INDIE LIFE.

If you'd like to look up my prior posts, just look for Indie Life - It's All About...

*****

I've decided that this is going to be a great year for me.

I know we can't guarantee anything. Life is brilliant at throwing curve balls, some that are really hard to recover from, but... in spite of those unpredictable risks, I've decided to go for it this year and take every chance and opportunity that comes my way.

I know I've been published for over two years now, but I still consider this the early stage of my career. Because of this, I have been really careful with how I spend my money. It makes sense not to overextend myself, but the one disadvantage to that is I haven't always gotten the same exposure and opportunities that I wanted. So at the end of last year, I stretched my budget a little and have found that I've actually benefitted greatly.

One thing I did was hire a PA, who has been worth her weight in gold. She's amazing and I love working with her. She's so helpful and eager and I can't speak highly enough of her work. She's been away for the last month and I can't WAIT for her to get back. I didn't realize just how much she was doing for me!

Another thing I did was shelling out for a couple of Bookbub ads and they have paid back hugely!

This year, I'm doing a couple things that I never would have tried before.

One  - I'm heading to UtopYA Con in Nashville (June 2014). This is huge for me. A massive expense that I think will be worth every penny. I've been invited to speak on a panel and my first reaction was hesitation, but then I thought, "No. I have to take this opportunity." So I am leaving my babies with Daddy for just over a week and I'm flying from Shanghai to Nashville. After the conference I'm taking a few extra days to stop off in Vegas and LA for a little research and the chance to meet my publisher. Financially it's massive, but it's such a huge chance. Even just the opportunity to meet my PA face to face, not to mention some of the other authors I'm in constant contact with online. Who knows what else might surface from this experience? Who knows what connections I might make?

As I said, there are no guarantees. I might make no new connections. I might not sell one extra book, but it's a chance...a really good one and I'm so excited to take it.

Two - I've decided to ask one of my favorite cover designers if she'll work with me. I've been watching her stuff surface all over the place and I really love her covers. She's always been out of my price range, but I've decided once again to take a risk. I have a new series that I'm writing, it's branching away from YA. It's my little dabble in NA Contemporary Romance (although it will still be clean enough for YAs to enjoy). Because I don't want to create a pen name, I've decided to go for a fresh, new look for The Song Bird Series and I've asked Mae I Design if they'll work with me on this. I'm so excited. Once again, it's a risk. I might spend all this money on a book that doesn't sell (doubtful, because Mae I Design covers are amazing!)...but still, it's a risk and a chance - I'm taking it.

The thing with chances is they involve an element of faith. I've just got to believe that I'm doing what I'm meant to be doing with my life and all these risk will pay off.

So be bold this year...take a chance and see where if leads you.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I'm Back and Raring to Go!

The last two weeks has shown me the importance of taking a break. Feeling weary at the end of 2013, I enjoyed a relaxing Christmas and New Year with my family and am now launching into 2014 with fresh energy. I am so excited and wanted to share with you my writing plans for this year. I actually have a bunch of other plans this year too, but for this particular post, I'll just let you know about the books I have planned. I'll tell you about the other stuff in tomorrow's Indie Life Post - "Taking Every Opportunity."

So - as far as writing goes, I have six books planned, four of which will be published by Evatopia Press.

True Colors, The Masks Series #1 is coming out on February 16th and we're kicking it off with a big party.


There are going to giveaways, competitions, author appearances...a whole bunch of fun. Plus, all party-goers will be able to purchase a copy of True Colors for only 99c!
I'd love for you to join me. Here's the event link: TRUE COLORS MASQUERADE BALL.

My second and third books, that I'm hoping to release in the first half of this year, are the I Know Lucy Series. I have had so much fun working on this series. I Know Lucy is already written and I just started the 1st draft of Set Me Free yesterday. I always say that I fall for my characters as I write and I really do, but this bunch have nestled into my heart and I can't wait for you to meet them.

My summer release this year is going to be the start of a Contemporary Romance Series - The Songbird Series. They will all be stand alone novels. I am branching away from YA for these particular books. I guess you could label them NA, but they are going to be clean enough for YA readers to still enjoy. Although it will be written about older characters in their early-mid twenties, I still hope my YA readers will be able to enjoy these stories. At this stage I'm planning on writing one Songbird book a year, but I may up that to two next year - I'll see what else I'm squeezing in :)

For the rest of 2014, I want to work my way through books 2 - 4 of The Masks Series, I don't like to leave readers waiting too long. This will probably end up taking me through until January 2015. And then for Valentine's Day, 2015 - I'm hoping to release a very sweet, poignant story that has been close to my heart for years. I don't know why I've been sitting on it for so long, but I need to get it out. I was going to write it earlier on, but I thought a Valentine's Day release would be perfect for this particular tale.

So that's what I'm up to this year. How about you?
How many books are you hoping to get through this year - either reading or writing?
If you're a writer, what have you got coming out next?
I'd love to hear your news :)