Monday, October 31, 2011

I Should Have Seen It Coming! : Victoria Watson


Today I have a special author friend doing a guest post here. Why? Simply because she had an amazing journey to publication through Trestle Press. She shares with us the reemergence of short stories in the form of digital short stories or in other words, ebooks and the role Twitter can play in promoting an author's work!
Welcome Victoria! 


Just over a week ago, my first e-book ‘I Should Have Seen it Coming’ was released thanks to the wonderful folks at Trestle Press. The amazing thing is that a month ago, I had no publisher and a backlog of short stories sitting on my computer with nowhere to go.

Sounds like a quick turnaround, doesn’t it?

After having done a lot of reviewing for the local newspaper (Evening Chronicle) a couple of years ago, I decided earlier this year to set up my own blog, http://elementaryvwatson.wordpress.com. My blog doesn’t concentrate solely on reviews but the majority of the posts are about books I’ve read. Alongside my blog, I started using Twitter. I set up a Twitter account in 2009 but never really got to grips with it but this year, I really got into it. In all honesty, I was initially interested in reading about celebs but my network of friends began to grow.

I met one guy, the talented Darren Sant, who invited me to become a guest blogger on Close to the Bone (www.craigrobertdouglas.com). Through Darren I widened my friends further and started doing reviews for a few Trestle Press writers. It was through Twitter that I found our illustrious leader, Giovanni Gelati who then asked me if I might have some stories for Trestle. Trestle are always on the lookout for new authors, it’s great for new authors to help make their mark.

I cannot emphasise how instrumental Twitter has been in my journey as a writer. It helps me make connections with people – from publishers to agents to other writers. It also is a great tool for promoting things like your blog or your books. Of course, other social networking sites like Google+ and Facebook are equally great in building networks and self-promotion. By building up a group of friends, you not only get to meet some fab people – like Shilpa – but you also get the opportunity to reach a wider audience. Sites like Goodreads are cracking for getting to know book lovers. It is really easy to become a Goodreads author once you’ve had a piece of work published.

So what’s this e-book malarkey all about then?

The e-book is a great idea, particularly for short stories. Sadly, the short story has witnessed a decline over the last few years in paper form but, thanks to the emergence of e-readers like the Kindle, Nook et al, publishers like Trestle Press get to showcase some really great talent at very reasonable prices. Sometimes, they give e-books away for free but even if you’re paying for them, they’re often around the $1.34 mark. It’s win/win! You get a cracking little story without breaking the bank.

Her e-book ‘I Should Have Seen it Coming’ is available for $1.34 (99p in the UK) and is about a woman who, after being made redundant, cynically begins a new career as a medium. What she doesn’t realise, though, are how far-reaching the consequences of her actions will be.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Article About Writing First Draft On "Close To The Bone"


I am so excited to share my published article published on "Close To The Bone"! The article is about giving your best when writing the first draft. It is also about how we need not bother how it all ends. We can always edit later, right? :)

For all NaNoWriMo participants, this is what you need to keep in mind. Hop over to check out the article and do let me know what you think about it!

Thanks all! Happy weekend! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Summer, Fall, Winter: Lessons for Authors

Tomorrow (hopefully!) I am going to experience the first snow in my life. Yeah you read it right. It doesn't snow in India. At least not where I come from and whichever country I have ever visited had snow right after I left! So, I am all excited to welcome the snow (though all my friends are falling in to the pit of gloom complaining!). Funnily it was only yesterday I took this photo capturing the change of season and the approaching winter. And now I am going to face snowfall in October!



The suddenness of the news got me thinking. What can we as authors learn from this? Learn from weather, you say? Yes, my idle brain always comes up with something weird. So, here is what I came up this week.

Fall, the shedding of leaves, the vibrant colors around after a sunny summer is like the after-glow of success. Things that have gone well. But eventually it fades and comes the winter which in many ways is the downslide of whatever we are doing. Like no one is buying your books, words are drying up on paper AND your head, or no one is reading your blog. In short, all the gloomy things that we as writers experience.

Yet look at the brighter side. It is during those chilly winters of an author's life that we work the hardest, write the best. All of this so that we can experience the summers of our life because that is how we reach the beautiful autumns, the after-glow of success. See, its like a cycle!

So, do not ever give up because things are not going well. As some wise sage once said, it is going to pass.

So, take heart and gear up for a fun weekend! Happy weekend to all!

PS: And please don't hate the snow. Let me experience the white, fluffy, snowflakes (at least that is what I read about snow fall.) 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm a girl who loves love : Darian Wilk




Soul mates from the past leave their love unfinished when a tragic accident ends their lives on their wedding day.  Yet they are destined to meet again to fulfill that love in new incarnations, leading vastly different lives.
Emma thought she had chosen the right path, but too late does she realize her mistake as her husband reveals the monster behind his smile-morphing their fairytale image with loveless obligation.  Trapped in a broken marriage to a powerful, abusive husband, she knows this is not the life she was destined to live.  As her hope for love withers, she meets James, her love from a lifetime ago.
Emma cannot deny the love pulling her toward James, but courage to abandon her marriage wavers and unknowingly puts her love on the line.  If Emma has any hope of life and love, she must trust the bond with James and be with the man destiny has spent two lifetimes guiding her toward.  Are they fated to fulfill their love, or will they choose once again, to leave love unfinished?

Available at : Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords .


Today I have the pleasure of welcoming a very dear friend and author of this wonderful book, Darian Wilk. She has written this touching love story which is a must read if you are looking for sweet romance. She shares with us her some tidbits about the book and some valuable information for new authors like me!


Hello Darian, welcome to my blog! Why don't you tell us something about your book!
It's a story of soul mates who die a tragic death on their wedding day, yet are fated to meet again in new incarnations, leading vastly different lives.  She has already married, and he has vowed to never love again.

Love! *Sigh* I am a big fan of romance novels. What got you a romance story idea? Why not anything else?
I'm a very curious person by nature, I see people and can't help but wonder something about them, which in turn leads to story ideas.  But in the end, I'm a girl who loves love.  I love that rush of falling in love, heart fluttering, the flush that creeps up your neck when you see him...I think its the natural combination of the two, my curiosity and (mild) addiction to love that gives me ideas for romance novels.

Does this story have any resemblance to people you know? The main characters, as I noted in my review here, looked very real to me! 
It's funny, but no.  Although there is one character, a very minor part, who is based solely on my mom and grandma, both who I lost to cancer.  The woman Carol (the bride) meets after she dies was created from my memory of those two women in my life.  From the characters movements, scent, how she looked to calling Carol "Pumpkin".  She is a true reflection of the two women who meant everything to me.

Getting a novel out there to read is a brave decision. What were the common obstacles and how did you face them?
There are numerous obstacles any writer faces, Indie or traditionally published, some being editing and critiques or reviews.  I once read that writing is the easy part, and editing is re-writing.  This could not be more true.  No matter how challenging the first draft might seem, it's nothing compared to the second draft, the third, etc.  I faced editing by, as James Scott Bell says, editing cool, by taking time off between drafts so that I could come back to it with fresh eyes.  I push the writer in me aside and slip on my editors cap, because an editor doesn't care how pretty a scene is; if it adds nothing to the story he's going to cut it.  The writer, would cry and complain that he spent an entire day perfecting that worthless scene. For some reason, I often found myself thinking of a quote from The Godfather as I sat down to trim and polish, "It's not personal, it's just business."  I think for successful editing, you have to view it as that, business.

Critiques and reviews, well that is a hard and easy one for me to face.  Of course a writer only wants to hear glowing words about their work, but that's not always the case.  So what I do is take a day off to feel bad for myself.  I eat that carton of Ben & Jerry's, use a few choice words for the person, and then the next day I get back to work.  I seek anything constructive in what they said, look for opportunities to better myself as a writer.  I analyze what they said for truth and remind myself that truth often hurts, but in the end they've done me a favor, because now the book is better.

Who are your favorite authors?
Oh gosh, where to start!  Oddly, growing up I was a mystery buff like you would not believe.  I think at one point I had every single novel Ed McBain ever wrote, and I still continue to read him today.  I like the roughness in his writing, the flawed characters, it caters to my tomboy side I think!

I also have two other authors I will buy any book they write, without having a clue what it's about.  The first is Anne Tyler, she's more of a women's fiction writer than romance writer.  But I love the talent she has to create such real characters, to the point they almost seem like real people.  

The other is Anya Seton, a writer from 'back in the day' who wrote historical fiction.  I love tales told in the Victorian era, the flamboyant outfits, how elegant the speech was, and of course every novel of hers was riddle with passionate love and drama.  You just can't go wrong with one of her books!

One single advice to aspiring authors. 
Stop to see how far you've come, then keep going.  Once passed the rush of the first few chapters, a lot of times people realize writing is actually a lot of work.  But remember that each step you have taken is one more than someone else did, and with every step you've just passed another person.

Any more lovely romance stories out there for us?
There's a whole section at the library!  But from me, I'll be releasing my second novel, Reinventing Claire in late spring or early summer of 2012.  It's a tale of divorce, the dating dunce, and do-overs.

Thank you so much for the time Darian! It was fun interviewing you just like our endless emails! Haha..

Know The Author:Darian Wilk is an avid blogger and has a wealth of information on writing and publishing that you should check out - Crazy Lady With A Pen. She would also love to hear from you on twitter. You can follow her  @DarianWilk . 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meet Roberta Goodman, author of thriller novel "Snow Escape"


Today I have a special guest for a guest blog. Roberta Goodman is the author of the mystery novel, Snow Escape. She shares with us her journey to publication and beyond. I, for one, felt the chills after reading it!

Welcome Roberta!


How I ended up with "Snow Escape":

First, I want to take this opportunity to thank Shilpa for having me participate on her wonderful blog.

The story behind my murder mystery/thriller/suspense is one that I love to tell, because I was compelled to write it by an overwhelming inspiration that I couldn’t fight. Back in the winter of 2009/2010 three massive snowstorms hit my area of the country. One occurred in December and two back-to-back storms occurred in less than a week in February.

A week after the storms in February hit, another storm was passing by. No measurable amount of snow was predicted this time. I was sitting at my computer sending out queries for a previous manuscript and I looked out the window and watched as more snow fell. I remember thinking, "Thank God this storm is going to pass by fairly quickly and head up north to New York. Let them get dumped on, because I'm sick of snow."

Enter light bulb moment. What if you have a woman in Brooklyn, NY, a teacher, and she's stuck in her apartment building, because it just keeps snowing? What if said woman uses an online dating site to meet men and one of these men uses this snow event to contact and terrorize her? What if she discovers that he's been stalking her for weeks; claims he lives in her apartment building; and intends on harming her? From the beginning, I knew I wanted to write it so the reader would question if these things were happening. Is there really a maniac running loose in her apartment building, or is Allegra imagining it? I wrote the first chapter in an hour and the whole story was completed in five months.

I started the process of querying to agents. I had high hopes that someone would feel as passionate about this work as I was. I sent out over a hundred queries and waited patiently for the responses. Rejections started to pour in from about half of those queried. After several months of this, I ended up shelving Snow Escape. It sat in my computer for almost a year.

In that time, my family endured a health crisis and I ended up writing another manuscript in addition to working as a freelancer. Back in July, something compelled me to revise Snow Escape and within a week, through fate, I had the number of a small e-Publisher. I called her up and told her about my project. She was extremely interested, because and I quote “mysteries tend to sell well.” I sent her a query and a synopsis. Within a half hour, she emailed me back saying she wanted me to resend the synopsis and the first three chapters.  I was to be reviewed by a panel of five people and if the majority liked my work, I would be offered an e-Book contract. A little over a week later, I received an email stating that my work was going to be published.

My debut novel, Snow Escape, was released on October 1st. My e-Publisher doesn’t have a budget for promoting, so it’s been up to me to spread the work. I’ve chosen to write about my novel on several social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter being the two most important ones. I utilize Goodreads, which is an amazing online book club where authors and readers come together. I also use my blog to let my followers know updates about the novel and where it can be purchased. Wonderful bloggers, like Shilpa, have also offered to let me tell my story.


To My Readers:

I’m living proof that if you work hard and are willing to put the time in that’s needed to showcase your work then it’s possible to reach your intended audience. Through utilizing an independent e-Publisher my route wasn’t the traditional one, but it is one that has worked for me.

Thank you again Shilpa for giving me a forum to express why I was inspired to write Snow Escape. I hope by explaining how I went about getting my debut novel published, I can inspire other authors to reach their goal of getting published.


Thank you Roberta for sharing your wonderful journey with us here on my blog! Its a pleasure having you here! Wish you all the best with the book and beyond!

The story of "Snow Escape" might just be the perfect thriller for Halloween! Roberta says you can treat yourself a thrilling Halloween by buying it at Amazon, Fictionwise, Write Words Inc. and Mobipockets!

Roberta would also love to have you on her blog http://ro-alwaysinspired.blogspot.com/  
                                                                                                              You can also follow her on Twitter by clicking here: @RobertaGoodman

Monday, October 24, 2011

Editing Woes: First ever snippet of "Always You"

My weekend was spent editing. So much of editing and all that I could do was worry. Worry if anyone would like my book. Worry if it is worth putting out there for readers. Worry if I have given my best.

It also brought with it a hope that it will be better.

As I worked through the chapters, there was one particular part that got me all teary. I wanted to share with you all a snippet of my upcoming novel - Memories Rustle. It might not be the next bestseller, but it is special to me. I hope you enjoy this. And later, when the time comes, I hope you would also join Lyla's journey down the memory lane.



He stood in front of her resigned, taking in the lovely face he had hurt deeply. He watched as another big tear rolled down her cheek, leaving a trail of gleam on her smooth skin. He instinctively caught the tear midway with his thumb and first finger. Lyla shivered lightly with shock under his touch. She did not stop him when he came closer, feeling his body touching hers. She ached to put her head on his chest and cry, begging him to undo everything and take her back to the lovely nights of their past. Alex put his hands lightly on her neck, touching the soft skin. By all means, Lyla should have walked away, jilted by his touch. Yet she stood there riveted watching the intensity of love in his eyes. He bent over her face and Lyla's lips parted in accord but his lips touched the tears on her cheek, kissing them, hoping to take away her pain with him. He continued kissing all her tears away, moving along her jaw line, to her ears, up her cheekbones and finally resting on her tired, closed eyes. Her tears rolled faster and small sobs shook the small body of Lyla, hurting within for Alex, for her inability to accept the man who she now knows she is irrevocably in love with. 
Update: Memories Rustle is renamed to Always You. You can find more details of the book at this blog post.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

BlogFest Contest Entry

This is my entry for Blogfest Contest hosted at Brenda Drake's blog : http://brenleedrake.blogspot.com/
Genre: Romance

“Help me”, screamed the voice.

Alex, covered with mud and sweat looked around the bare rocky edge he was standing at. He could hear the voice from all around him. His face crunched as he tried remembering the face behind the voice.

“Who is it? Where are you?”, Alex called out.

He was panting, jogging along the treacherous end of the mountain searching for the voice below. The cry of help was urgent and fear tugged his heart.

“Help me before it is too late”

Fear laced the voice too. Alex stopped to hear the source and he rushed back to where he hoped the man is. He fell on his knees, and put his palms on the brown ground trying to peek below. Ground gave away beyond the point and he staggered back scared. The edge was slanting towards the abyss and he feared he would slip down.

“Alex, where are you? Please don’t leave me here. I will die”

“I am here buddy. I am here. Can you raise your hand for me?”, said Alex faking confidence. 


He stretched on the ground on his stomach, taking a peek down below again and saw a hand waving.

“There you are!” A flutter of hope lodged at his throat and he inched closer to the edge with his hand drawn.

“Here, can you see my hand? Can you hold it?” asked Alex burshing away the thought of slipping because of the man's weight from below. It blinded him with fear.

Even as he finished, he felt a hand clutch his tightly and Alex held on to the shrub next to him tightly, praying it holds on. He pulled with all his strength and saw the black of the man’s hair on his head. Tiny relief nudged his heart, encouraging him to keep pulling him. A rustle of relieved sounds came from the man down below and it was only a matter of time he would be on the ground.

“Come on buddy. I got your back”, said Alex confidence returning to him in waves now.

“Alex. Promise me you would never leave my hand”, said the voice.

“Of course. Why would I?”, replied Alex confused. 


Doesn’t he trust me that I would save him.

“I want to live Alex. Live so that I can return to Lyla. To marry her. Hey...hold tight Alex. I am slipping”.


The panicked voice caught Alex's attention again. How does he know his Lyla? Why would he marry her!

“Who are you?” asked Alex. 


He gritted his teeth, forcing him to not forget that a man's life was in danger. The man seemed to be almost there. A small tilt and Alex could finally see his face. Right then, the man looked up at him.

“I am Andrew. Your friend who you let die”, said the man with piercing blue eyes. 

Dread gripped his heart and Alex left his hand in shock. Alex looked horrified at the momentary slip and screamed his name even as Andrew fell back in to the abyss. The last he saw was Andrew's accusing eyes and the scream to be helped.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: Love Unfinished by Darian Wilk


I enjoy romance novels and that doesn’t mean only the Mills & Boons style. I love urban romance, sweet, mature love equally. So, when I read the synopsis of “Love Unfinished”, I warmed up to it immediately. And just look at the cover page. Isn't it just so...romantic? I knew that was a good start!


“Love Unfinished” as the name suggests is the story of a married woman, Emma and a divorced man, James. Now I know what you are thinking - extra-marital relationships and blah. But hold your horses. You might be missing out on a very interesting twist to it by assuming! At least I was about to and thank God for that!

See, the twist is Emma and James were supposed to be together. Always. And that started few births back! Yes, eternal love! Only they haven’t been able to be together. And in this birth, they have a chance. A real chance to be together and fulfill their destiny. But here's where comes another twist. They, that is Emma and James do not know that they are made for each other! Ha! And just when you thought things are getting interesting, throw in an abusive husband who actually plans to do more than just abuse when it comes to Emma. So, where does it leave our hero and heroine? In deep trouble along with some super sweet romance between!

So, let’s get down to the balance sheet now!

What Works For The Book?
The sweet sweet romance! I really have to give it to Darian for the way she described the attraction to each other. The need to be together, near to each other, the pull is just fantastically described. It was swoony all over and come to think of it, she did not describe James as a hot guy either! Now that is definitely a big plus for me who is too visual when it comes to heroes in books! LOL!

The pace of the story is good too. The story moves all the time and each event added to the tension of the ending. Which reminds me of the amount of tension the story builds up by the time you reach the end of the story. Very good job there and I, for one, chew a lot of my finger nails trying to not skip ahead!

Lastly, the characters. They are very real, with real problems. I loved them. Their simplicity. Their niceties.

What Doesn’t Work?
It’s definitely the ending. No, it wasn’t bad. It was good. But after all the build up to the ending, you feel let down by a rather cool one. I expected some good action, hero saves heroine kind of scene but none of that happened. It might also be argued that it was in tune with Emma’s character but then I am a hopeless romantic!

There was also an instance of plot abandonment, for the lack of a better term to explain. There was no explanation to what happened to that piece. Perhaps that is a loose end that needed to be tied down.

Verdict:
If you are in to eternal love, sweet romance, and want to get in to a good mood with a not-so-heavy read, then this is the book! It is definitely worth reading. In fact, I think this would be a very good choice for the holidays!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Tend To Paint What I Am Writing : Angelique LaFontaine

An interview of the author of Sandstone & Mirrors, Angelique LaFontaine.


Carli, a young woman in her mid twenties finds herself unsatisfied with her life and yearning to discover her own greatness. Through a series of extraordinary events, she finds herself hurled into the middle of a long lasting battle between good and evil where she eagerly accepts responsibility for what it is she was destined to do. Unaware of where reality truly stops and her own dreams and desires begins, Carli not only takes her place in this battle but she discovers her own strengths and capabilities in ways she never thought possible. She discovers the importance of personal sacrifice and the what it means to truly give of ones self in form of love and loyalty.


Welcome Angelique to my blog! 
Tell us about your newest release "Sandstones and Mirrors"!

Sandstone and Mirrors: The Crossover is the first of a 4 book series.  It's a mixture of fantasy and adventure.  The main character, Carli is the heroine in the story and story is basically a story about self discovery...with a lot cool creatures and evil villians to add to the flavor.

What is your motivation behind writing? How did you end up writing "Sandstone and Mirrors"?

Well, I started writing when I was really young and I honestly don't remember what it was that intrigued me at the time but I'm guessing that it's the same thing that keeps me motivated now.  I love stories, I love fiction.  I get a story in my head and I actually get excited when writing the stories.  I guess even though I'm the one creating it, it's still almost a surprise to me at the end of each story.  Mostly because I know what the story is that I'm telling, but a lot of times I have no clue how the story will end until I get to that point.

Haha...I also noticed that in this competitive publishing world, not only did you get published, you also have forayed in to "Digital Short Stories" which are selling hot these days. Shed some light on your journey here!

I was actually a little apprehensive about the ebook, short story concept.  But now that I've done quite a few, I find them to be an outstanding tool both for the reader and the writer.  The reader is able to enjoy the works of his/her favorite writer and not have to commit a lot of time to reading a full length book.  But at the same time, the writer is given the oppurtunity to publish their works in a relatively quick fashion, helps them establish a presence easier.


Angelique, it's been a long time since I have met a versatile individual like you. You are not only a writer, but an artist and a full time mechanical engineer! How do you manage?

I don't sleep!  A lot of times my painting and writing go hand in hand.  I tend to paint about what I'm writing or write about what I'm painting.  And the fact is that, at least for me, it's 90% emotion and 10% talent.  And I think that everyone would agree that emotion is without logic and reason.  Engineering keeps me grounded.  It gives me the logic and reason that writing and art don't.  When I go to work, I can shut that part of my brain off and only focus on stuff that is based off of numbers.  But when I paint and write, I can let myself go, I set the stage, I determine how things are going to look.  I love to paint, I've been doing it for years. I don't paint photographs, meaning that my pieces are how I view the world, how I interperet and express my emotions.  I don't have to prove or explain anything.  And if it doesn't make sense to others, so what, it doesn't have to.  It's an emotional extension of me.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I am, for the most part a panster.  I tend to let my full length books write themselves...I just type it out.  I don't really like to have an outline, for me, that's the fastest way to find yourself with writer's block.  The harder that you try to follow an outline, the more inclined you are to lose the "feel" of the story.  I allowed my book to guide me.  I had no idea how it was going to end.  Which is probably why I'm releasing it as a series...I still don't know what's going to happen.

How many drafts you wrote before submitting it for publication?

I am the worst speller! I did the best I could to edit and reedit before submitting anything.  I think I had about 5 or 6 drafts before I actually sent it to publication.

Writer's block? Ever had it? What did you do?

When I write, I go through spurts where I'll just sit down and hammer out a huge section of the story.  When I was writing Sandstone and Mirrors, I could write maybe 15 pages a day for a few weeks straight, then I would hit a wall and would have to step away for a few weeks.  I never tried to force the story.  So when I was at a loss for what I wanted to write, I would just sit back and wait for it to come to me.  That took a lot of patience because at times, I would be concerned on whether or not the story would get finished.  But it always came to me.  I would just get an idea one day and BAM! I knew where the story would go.

Thank you so much Angelique for sharing your experience of the book with us. I wish you all the best with it!

Angelique LaFontaine is the author of the Sandstone & Mirrors Series. The first is the series is Sandstone & Mirrors: The CrossOver. She is an author, an artist and a mechanical engineer. She is a passionate painter since last 15 years. Find more about her at http://www.angeliqueartwork.com






60 feet looking down, (story) idea came to me! - Cecilia Robert


Today, I am very excited to introduce a very dear friend of mine who graciously accepted to guest blog here! I am doubly happy because this is the first guest blog post too!

Cecilia Robert is the author of the exciting fantasy short story series "The Grim Reaper's Novice"! Imagine fantasy story coming to you in installments! She recently shared the first in the series and trust me, its awesome! I am going post the review soon. :)   Without further ado, I introduce you author Cecilia Robert who shares the fascinating journey of discovery behind this book. Here you go!




First of all, I want to thank Shilpa for hosting me in her awesome blog.  *sip* mmh the tea is just right temperature.   An amazing host who serves the right kind of beverage during this cold time of year ! Incomparable! *sip again*

After moving to Vienna seven years ago, I became fascinated by its beauty and the historical architecture (obsessed is the word). From time to time, I found myself entranced by those baroque -design buildings with all manner of decorations and statues in-built on their facades. One day I took a walk in the 11th Century St. Stephen’s Cathedral (one of Vienna’s breathtaking sights), climbed the 343 stairs to the Watchman Chamber, and 60 feet looking down the idea came to me!  An avalanche of ‘what if’s’ whirled through my head. I dug inside my bag and pulled out my notebook are scribbled impatiently before the idea’s vanished as they have a tendency to  do if not given the desired attention.

What if, mixed in all that beauty is a hidden world where creatures prowl and slither lounging around on statues, playing mischief on humans, imitating humans by changing their forms so they can easily fit and work  in restaurants, bars, banks…?  What if those 18th century houses have their own story to tell?

As  a not- so-choosy avid book reader, I’ve always had a wild imagination(and unfinished stories in my computer). So, I wanted to write this story with passion and needed to finish it. I had created my world, and now, I only needed a character who could take on that world. That was how Ana Maria Tei was born. A seventeen year old girl leading a normal life (well almost), with two siblings but her parents were about to divorce.  Unfortunately, in the process of trying to keep her family from splitting, her family perishes in her accident. She is heartbroken and is determined to get them back.

So there has to be someone who reaps soul, as Souls cannot be allowed to just wander aimlessly. And who else could do a good job than the Grim Reaper himself!  This is where she meets Grim…er… Ernest as he likes calling himself, and she begs him for soul trading. He adds a bonus on that offer; A lifetime working as a Soul Collector. And there the Soul Collector was born.

Ana Maria sounds normal enough , and the story needed a simple girl who was working as a part-time supermarket checkout girl and loves her family completely in a destroy- my- family = cut my heart out sort of way. She has friends, and has her own dreams, until they are cut short by giving up her life (and soul)to become Soul Collector.  The location (Vienna) with its architectural benefits helped me create the world as I saw it in my mind. This book was not possible without Vienna!

As this is my debut novel installment series, I am very excited about the book  published and released through Trestle Press  on 10/07/11, and I’m happy to share Ana Maria’s story with you. Grim Reaper’s Novice is at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

*Huge noisy sip* Can I get another cup of tea?




Sure Cece! :D I wish you all the best with the book and with such a wonderful theme and characters, I am sure this is going to be a great book! So, what's the story behind your story??

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New York Skyline - What Authors Can Learn From It


By Andre Gunther at http://www.aguntherphotography.com

Every evening while I return from work, I deliberately take the seat on the right side of the bus. Because that means I can see the unobstructed view of the glittering New York skyline. If you have ever seen it at night in its glorious sparkling costume, you would know what it looks like. Photographer Andre Gunther captured it in the image above but trust me, seeing it with naked eyes is much more magical.

Seeing the sparkling, tall and proud skyline means a lot to me. Its beautiful and inspiring. Everything that a writer would want his book to be. I look at it and think of the success that is possible.

It signifies the fundamental rule of nature. Think, innovate, persevere and collaborate - and you have your masterpiece. As a writer, that is essential. It can get you closer to your masterpiece. Remember it need not be a masterpiece for everyone. It needs to be your masterpiece. Your skyline.

That is what the inspiring skyline does to me. Yet we ought to remember that the skyline did not come up on us overnight. It took years to build it. One building at a time.

As an author, your success, however you define it, would come one word at a time. One book at a time. Do not expect it overnight. Not with so many talented people around you. But it would come if you continue to innovate, write better, persevere and help others in the journey. There is no success worth the salt if you have no one else to celebrate it with. Just like the skyline. A single building on the horizon would not have made the heads turn. It is the whole group of it that makes it magical.

That's lesson for me from the New York Skyline, the symbol of success in the world. What is yours?

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Breaking Dawn" Movie Release Fever

OK. I have to admit I am neither pro- or against Twilight. The first time I read the book, I finished the series in flat 4 days along with the first two movies. (Yeah, I forgot I needed to sleep as well. I literally adapted our beloved vampire lifestyle! LOL). I enjoyed the books thoroughly and loved Edward. Jacob was mostly irritating to me butting in to their cute love story. But that doesn't mean I liked all the books.

"Breaking Dawn" for one was a disappointment for me. I kept feeling it was written because it "had" to be written. For most part, especially Bella's pregnancy (did I mention how difficult it was for me to go through the cruel pregnancy stage?) was a stretch. The only thing which saved the book for me was Jacob's narration in the first part. It was funny to say the least with noteworthy chapter titles! I am sure I would have not completed it if it was Bella narrating it. It would be too much of self-pity! 

But I liked the movies. Partly because I could get to see Robert Pattinson and I really liked the last movie "Eclipse". I think it had some good action. My husband actually watched the movie breaking away from his dozing routine for these movies! I was looking forward to "Breaking Dawn" to see what other good things they did with it. 

But two movies for one essentially "no-story" book? I mean to think of it, there is hardly any story! Bella-Edward get married. She gets pregnant (:O). She won't abort. She struggles. She gives birth and turns in to a vampire. Then all happy. Till the baby is reported to Volturi. Then the marketing to gain to support for Renessme. And then the fight! There are other tid-bits too but two two-hour long movies??! What are they going to show us?? 

I for one isn't too excited and my husband gave a relieved sigh when I told him I am not going to watch the first day first show (which I do for every HP and Twlight movie!).  AMC is already doing a month's advanced booking for the movie! I mean, really? Are the fans that excited? What do you think about it?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review: Someone Like You by Barbara Bretton


It was a simple novel. I would have not looked at it the second time if my dear friend wouldn't have lent it to me. She said a remarkable thing to me which I would try to remember for long - "no book is bad. You just have to read it and take your own lessons from it". It was, somehow, quite touching and for a moment I was ashamed of my partiality to only well-known fiction books. I took the book humbled and started reading "Someone Like You" by Barbara Brentton, America's romantic author and to my surprise, quite a famous one at that.
Someone Like You is typical American happy endings book that would reinforce your faith in humanity and guarantee a peaceful sleep in the night. It did for me at least! This is a story about two grown up sisters at two corners of the world trying to come in terms with their crazy mother's accident and the surprising events thereafter that explains (not negate) much of the heartburn that they went through during their difficult childhood. Most of the content of the story is about the inability of their parents to raise their children though their love for each other was "magical". The two daughters suffered as a result and finally grew apart frm each other trying to fight their own battles.

What Works For The Book?

The story unfolds at a good pace and gives you some good emotional moments that stir a tear or two if you are sentimental like me. It has a decent amount of sarcasm as well that keeps the american humor alive. Also, if not for the almost alive characters, I would have given the book a rest for few weeks.

What Does Not Work?

The story came across as common and the ending quite predictable. In fact, I could almost visualise it as a major hollywood romantic flick with Kate Winslet and Drew Barrymore playing the lead sisters Catherine Doyle and Joely Doyle. (Why Drew Barrymore? I just like her! :))

There are few things that are worth mentioning here regarding the book. If there is one thing that stuck with me throughout the whole book then that is the characters. Her characters were so well fleshed out, I felt they are real. How did she do this?! I went back to check if she had mentioned anything about their facial features, their clothing, etc and I drew a blank. Not once did Barbara cared about giving those details. So, what did she do?

Simple - She wrote about their pain so well that you almost lap it up and start sympathizing with the characters. She managed to write their feelings, reactions to situations, their fears, their innermost insecurities in a language that you often use when you are battling with yourself. That is what, according to me, made them so real. This was a very important learning for me and core of any book anyone writes. Keep it real enough so that your readers can relate to it.

Verdict:

It was a well spent time and I adored it. Worth a try!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

If You Can Have Three Powers From Your Fav Books!

Yesterday I was frantically searching for an important document that I swear I stored it "safely" but failed to find it. Don't ask me how many times I caught myself wishing I cast the spell - "Accio!" (Please don't tell me you don't recognize this spell from Harry Potter! :D) LOL! Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have such convenient powers with us to deal with such crisis? I think so and would love to have some.

So that got me thinking. If I can have three super powers from all the fantasy novels that I have read, what would it be?

1. Accio! (Courtesy Harry Potter Series by J.K.Rowling)

Yes, I lose a lot of things. I misplace them ALL the time because I always store them too "safely"!! So, finding those safely stored things without breaking in to a sweat would be such a huge relief! Oh, and I also not have to walk to my TV to get the remote. :P

2. Vampiric food habits (Courtesy Vampire Diaries, Twilight, Insatiable, etc)

 Oh don't get me wrong. I do not like to eat or kill humans. I am a vegetarian! I do not eat meat at all. But though I like eating tasty food, I eat because I have to. It is a chore for me. Has always been. Especially when I am reading a book. The few moments that I have to spend away from a book because I have to cook or eat food frustrates me to no extent! Those are the moments I wish I could have ready-made, easy to eat food. Just like vampire food. All they have to do is sink in their teeth and suck abundantly available food! WOW! No effort too because their food is always willing to be eaten - uncooked. Sounds grossBut look at the advantages!

3. Puck's ability to turn sticks in to duplicates (Courtesy: Iron Fey Series By Julie Kagawa)

I love that and I need that! I so want to be at multiple places at the same time. Why? Because there are multiple things I want to do at the same time. For example, being at work (which I love) while writing my heart out while reading fabulous books?! Puck could do that! and its so cool! :D

What do you wish for? Which superpower you would love to have??

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's In A Name?

I have both good news and bad news today. Good news is I am finally done with my romance novella that I had been working on since last month! So, that means I have nothing to do but turn it over to my publisher and pray that I don't have to edit too much.

Now the bad news. After all the writing I did, I still haven't figured out a name! Isn't that incredible? I have tried hard but nothing really seems to fit it. And if it does fit, its been taken up. I have been crossing off quite a number of names off my list and now, I wonder if it really matters. What's in a name, eh?

A good book title is like a magnet to the reader. That piques their interest. The visual hook if I might say. They give an indication to what might be inside. They give meaning to the story that is about to come. But with so many books releasing every week, how are we ever going to get a unique name for our books?

I want to ask, how important is the name for you to buy a book? Would you buy a book if it had a weird name? A bad name doesn't mean the book is bad right? Would your favorite book suddenly become a bad book if it was called by any other name? As the famous saying goes, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Yeah, a lot of excuses for not finding the right name!

Which are some of your best book titles? Titles based on which you bought the book? My personal favorites are : Atlas Shrugged and If You Could See Me Now. I picked up these two books without second thoughts! How about you?

Monday, October 10, 2011

What We Learn From The Movie "Moneyball"

"Moneyball" stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the man who successfully led the a super-bad baseball team on a budget by employing a computer geek who provided computer-based analysis on players. I watched this movie last week and had been planning to write this post sooner. A remarkable movie with many lessons that we as writers in particular can do good to learn.



1. Accept The Challenge: There are times when things won't go your way. Like no agent or publisher would seem to like your book. Or even before that - people did not believe that you can write a decent sentence, let alone a whole book. If you are passionate about your book, accept the challenge. Just like Billy Beane did. He did not quit because he was on an impossible budget. He accepted the challenge and did everything to make it happen!

2. When On A Budget, Be Innovative: Yes. Especially if you are going self-pub. Unfortunately, we writers do no have deep pockets, but we have amazing creative brains! Be innovative and make the best of what is at hand to get your book to your readers. Billy Beane did that by thinking different. You can too.

3. Take Risks: That moment is inevitable. Sooner or later it will come and your stare would linger at the soft, comfortable safety net. But that, my friend, would not fulfill your dreams. Take risks. What do you have to lose? At the worst, your book would bomb. But you can write another! Billy Beane could have lost his whole club and left with no money. Not even to finance his daughter's education. Yet he took the risk and it paid off. It will for you too. 

Finally, the most important lession: HAVE THE COURAGE TO MOVE ON. There cannot be a clearer message in the movie. Billy Beane's team lost the world cup in spite of all his innovative efforts. Things did not go the way he planned it. It happens in life, right? If everything would happen the way you planned, what is the fun in living? Have the guts to move on. Move on to better goals, other opportunities. Life doesn't end with one failure or one book. Life is not just one 100000 words novel. It is so much more than that. Write more. Read more. Dream again. And fight again. Do not give up like Billy Beane. Do not turn down opportunities, especially when they are making the loudest noise possible on your door. 

Have you watched this movie? What did you learn from it?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Review: Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Genre: Urban Fantasy

I have never read Meg Cabot's books. I have always wanted to though. Especially after such lush praise for her previous YA books especially Princess Diaries. The movie is one of my favorite feel-good movies and I really wanted to read some work of this popular author.

I picked up Insatiable because - it is Meg Cabot and it is about vampires. Also the fact that it is not a YA was helpful. I mean we non-YAs also have equal rights over vampires, isn't it? :)

So, here's what I thought about this book which has a great cover page, BTW.

What Works For The Book?

A unique story. It is still about vampires but the story line is fresh with never heard before twists to what a vampire is capable of (It's a spoiler and would be an absolute give-away to the readers who are looking forward to reading it). Also, the vampires in this story are from original Dracul and that some how got me interested.

It is not about teens. Our heroine is a strong character in her 20s who has a job, is smart and always saves people (because of her gift to predict death)  and that is a good change. Most of us, non-teenagers that is, can relate to this woman and her daily routine.  Also, she does not have a compulsive obsessive disorder (COD) of placing herself in danger irrationally. She uses her brain to save people in a more intelligent way. At least most of the time. And, our heroine hates vampires. She doesn't believe in them and thinks the obsession with vampires is spoiling the creative industry. I like that. :)

Finally, the book has a vampire slayer too. A cute one at that. I like that too! :)

What Doesn't Work For The Book?

The conflict was not very convincing. The story started out with bodies of dead European girls being discovered in NY. And finally when you get to know why, you wonder why they could not have got it done with any American girl. Why the hassle of getting them from all over from Europe?? Also, vampires taking over entertainment industry??

The build-up to mystery was not enough. I, for one could guess who was the culprit from the moment he was introduced in the book (May be I am too smart! :P). It wasn't hard to guess given the circumstances.

The characters.  Apart from the heroine and the vampire, I had a hard time warming up to others. Usually in a series like this, the reader should be cheering for one of the two heroes and who should the heroine end up with. Unfortunately that didn't happen. For an author who gave us memorable books like Princess Diaries, this was the least I expected.

Verdict

I would assume this is not the greatest of Meg Cabot's book. There are many things that I was not very happy with. Nevertheless, the major highlight is a unique vampire story that is NOT YA. And then,  a combination of an extremely powerful vampire, a death-predicting human and a super-handsome vampire slayer definitely makes it worth a try!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Author Thursdays - Cecelia Ahern


Author Quote

"I'm not famous; it's the book. The book is what's going to be sitting on the shelf, and that's what I want people to see." - Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern is one of my favorite authors. Her books are laced with magic that is quite different from regular fantasy. They are more like fairy tales. One would agree if you see her collection of books. It includes:

PS I Love You
If You Could See Me Now
A Place Called Here
Where Rainbows End
The Gift
The Book Of Tomorrow
Thanks For The Memories

She wrote her first book, PS I Love You which is also a major motion picture at the age of 21. It is said that she finished writing the book in just three months. This book has also been shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Decade award. She is Irish and all her books are based out of Ireland which is a treat in itself for she introduces to the beautiful country in her own unique way.

She is also the co-creator and producer of the comedy television show "Samantha Who". She also contributes short stories to various anthologies. The inspiring part of it is all her royalties from her short stories go to charities.

She has a degree in Journalism and Media Communication and is currently living in Dublin with her athelete-turned-actor boyfriend David Keoghan.  Know more about her from her website: http://www.ceceliaahern.ie

Did You Know?

PS I Love You was on the best seller list of Germany for over a whopping 52 weeks.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

When You Can't Write - Read

It can happen to anyone. Even the best selling authors. But that doesn't make it right. I still cannot write. I feel as if words froze on my finger tips and the keyboard is not warm enough to melt it down to them. You know how it feels, right?

Then what do I do? Sleep it off? I would probably wake up feeling even more zombie-like than what I am feeling now. 

Do I take a break? What if I lose all the steam and forget all my brilliant ideas for the book?

Do I force myself to write? Well, I would probably kill my hero in this mood. 

So, after a looong time spent at thinking of a solution (with a pack of crispy wafers and coke), I decided to go back to the reason which inspired me to write - books.




For most of us, reading inspires writing. It is the same for me. A fine book pushes me to write better. A good book inspires me to pen my own stories. Reading teaches me to write. 

So, friends, if an offensive blank page stares back at you, go back to reading. There is no better way to shoo away the writer block.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Who Writes Your Novel? -- You Or Your Character?

If you are writing a novel, you would know exactly what I am talking about. Writing is a solitary job with the only companions being our lovely characters. They are good, bad, and ugly but they are still lovely to us because we created them. Yet, as we fill up pages after pages of deep felt words turning it in to a story, there comes a time when you no more write it.

Some say the story flows on its own. Others say it is the character who writes it.



For me, its been a mix of both. I write on impulse with only a very broad outline as my guide. I know the ending, so it helps. But I am not in control all the time. As my characters grow, my story changes. There are times when I just cannot continue following a line of thought because my character is cross with me. He says it just isn't like him. And when that happens, I agree with him. Because my readers care about my characters. Not me.


What do you do? Are your characters as nosy as mine? :)



Monday, October 3, 2011

Warming up to e-Books


Most of you are aware of my tryst with my first e-book and how intriguing it was for me. It was indeed an experience that got me exploring the industry further and before I knew, I had downloaded all kinds of e-readers on to my iPhone (not sure why I downloaded so many!) and also the complementary e-books with them.

I spent my whole last week reading them and felt strangely empowered. You know the feeling of having a book in your hand and the time in the world to finish it without even having to bother about food? I felt that last week. May be the books that I read were so good that it left me with this wonderful feeling. Either way, I spent a lot of time researching about e-books. What e-books can do for us readers and authors in particular?

The internet seemed ripe with lots of news especially with Amazon releasing Kindle Fire (looks amazing BTW). Here are few things that I feel are worthy of notice:

1. e-Books or Digital Books Are Cool: Yes, I finally agree to this. I still don't think it can match the feel of my good, old hard cover of my favorite novels, but it is definitely cool. Why? Because it is convenient. It is easy to access and most of all, lets me read whenever and wherever I want without worrying about a heavy backpack. Oh and it is also cool.

2. Print Books Have A Long Way To Go: Yes, they do. No, they are not going to disappear. Not so soon anyway. Not when e-book sales cover only about 10-15% of the total sales. Not every one reads on PC or tablets. They are many who love to read printed books. The list not only includes just the ones who like to read printed books. There are many who do not have a choice. e-Readers and e-books are popular only around technologically developed regions like America. But what about the ones that aren't? They still read printed books, right?

3. e-Books Are Great For Authors: This goes for both published and unpublished authors. For both traditional and indie authors. Especially to an indie author as it is lighter on pocket. With e-books, it is easier than ever before for a writer to reach his/her readers. Click and send. That easy. e-Books have also opened up incredible avenues to get published. With their rising popularity, an aspiring author(or other wise) who is not hung up on $$$ and really wants to go out there with his/her book to build a base have a great opportunity to do so with an e-book.

The whole research on e-books gave me a lot to think. About books and publishing in general. But what really dominated all through out is the unlimited potential in this digital revolution in the world of publishing. And also the fact that, no matter what package it comes in, a good book would always sell. Amen! :)