Saturday, 28 April 2012

Publishing my vampire chick lit.

So, here I am, having taken my first step toward publication by creating an account with Amazon. But, instead of signing up with their interior layout team I thought I'd try my hand at formatting my manuscript myself. After all, I'm pretty computer savvy. How hard can it be?

I was about to find out.

Following the instructions, I converted my Word file into pdf, adjusted my margins to fit their trim size and uploaded it. Then I sat back and waited for the result to appear on screen. Would it come back looking publication perfect, just like in all the books?
Of course not!

I spent the next two days reformatting my manuscript, staying up well past midnight - it's amazing the type of commercials that come on at that time! - readjusting my margins and even playing around with another font. All to no avail as I tried uploading it once again, crossing my fingers, toes and everything else that could be crossed without doing myself damage.
Did it fit?
Only in my dreams!

That's when I decided I'd had enough and emailed the interior layout team at Amazon to do it all for me. It may cost me around three hundred dollars, but they'll do a professional job and I'll get a good night's sleep.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

So, Who Wants a Traditional Publisher for my Vampire book?

It seems publishers are looking for the ' next big thing.' Whatever that is. I don't think they themselves know. But, they're certainly not interested in acquiring submissions of the fanged variety. 
At the moment, the rage is for post-apocalyptic teenage Survivor-style stories, in which the last kid left standing wins the prize. 
As if teenagers need another excuse to commit murder. They're already doing a great job of that with their kamikaze driving habits, drug abuse or beating the crap out of each other in violent gangs.

I'll choose a vampire story every time, because I know it's not real. It can't happen. And yes, I'm aware there are nutters out there who pay willing dentists enormous fees to have their incisors sharpened, but let them just try drinking some real blood and they'll find themselves spending the night heaving over a toilet and lucky if they don't contract an ISD!

There's something eerily seductive about ageless, seemingly immortal creatures who suck the blood of the living to survive. Especially, if they happen to be mind-numbingly gorgeous and in possession of a conscience which won't permit them to kill their victims.

Well, in the books I read they are. And that's how they appear in mine.

So, after much research, soul searching, talking to my mum and praying, as my title suggests, I've decided to eschew the traditional path to publication and my entire manuscript is being sent to Amazon to be released as an e-book. I'd rather the general public make up their own minds what they enjoy reading, rather the so-called 'gate keepers' who think they have the monopoly on public opinion.

I wonder if the editors in all those publishing houses who rejected JK Rowling's, Harry Potter series, or, Matthew Reilly's first manuscript, or Amanda Hocking's urban fantasies, still have their jobs? 
Mmmmm..... did they get it wrong!






Monday, 16 April 2012

OMG Another Vampire Blog!

When I created this blog, it was originally intended to introduce myself to the world and give the wider reading public a glimpse of my soon-to-be-released-book - a contemporary vampire story set in Sydney.
But, as I thought about it, I realised it's more than that. It's actually my journey as a new author, from a completed manuscript to that holy grail of accomplishments - a published paperback, with my name on it, in my hot little hands (or freezing cold ones if the time taken to produce a book is anything to go by).
When I first completed the manuscript on Bloodgifted, a year ago, I entered it into a nationwide literary competition held by a publisher in Brisbane. I didn't win, but I was shortlisted and eventually came runner up. Unfortunately, only the winner was published.
Yes, I was disappointed, although to be realistic, I knew my chances were slim. To get even that far was amazing, especially as it was my first attempt at novel writing.

Yet, it gave me the confidence boost I needed to continue writing, regardless whether any publisher wanted it or not. Although, truth be told, which writer doesn't want to be published?

So, I attended the obligatory writers festivals, listened intently to what the experts were saying on how to avoid the dreaded slush pile, wrote and rewrote my pitch, and like a feverish gold prospector, went in hunt of a publisher who'd think my manuscript was the next best thing to JK Rowling and/or Stephanie Meyer!

Needless to say, there's nothing sadder than a delusional writer. 
And believe me, there's a lot more fantasizing going on in the heads of hopeful authors than you'll find between the pages of any book!
And here in Australia, with it's relatively small population and limited choice of publishing houses, the chances of getting into print is even greater. Then, from among those, only a few accept unsolicited manuscripts. You can actually count them on the fingers of one hand. The rest can only be approached via a literary agent, and they're about as interested in acquiring new authors as developing a brain tumour!

It's a sobering world.
Yet, there's light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Stay tuned. 
My journey begins.








Monday, 9 April 2012

New Vampire Book Teaser

Well, here it is, the Prologue and Chapters 1-3 of 'Bloodgifted.'

Happy reading and please give me some feedback.




Copyright 2012
All rights reserved. Printed in Australia. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written permission of the author. To receive permission email fatimamarialacoba@gmail.com



Chapter 1

   My Birthday

LAURA

The Present
Friday, December 11th 12.30pm

Thou shalt not fear birthdays, has been my motto for the past few years. And I saw no reason to change it, regardless that this year I was turning that much-dreaded big Five-O.
For anyone else that may have been daunting enough, but for me, it’s even more so, since my family’s pedigree is unique, even weird. It appears there’s something in our genetic makeup that decreases the rate of ageing up to forty percent. With me, it’s more like fifty. Lately, it’s become even harder to convince people my unnatural youthful looks have nothing to do with any nip and tuck or a fabulous moisturising crème. And, it’s interesting the way women in particular, scrutinise me with almost X-Ray vision trying to spot any evidence of cosmetic surgery. Good luck to them!. For one thing, I’m an absolute chicken when it comes to sharp and pointy objects and needles of any kind slip into that category.
But I can understand. Who wouldn’t mind looking twenty-something in their fifties?
I keep a photo from my twenty-fifth birthday in the top drawer of my dressing table, and when I turned thirty I took it out and compared the face in the photo to the one staring out at me from the mirror. They were the same. I felt chuffed. Who wouldn’t?
I put that photo away till my fortieth, when I again did my little facial self-examination, and then this morning, on my fiftieth. There was no change. But just to be absolutely sure, and prove to myself I wasn’t on some delusional trip, I took my picture on my mobile phone and sent it, together with my twenty-fifth birthday photo, to my aunt Judy, my father’s sister. She and I share the same genetic anomaly and like me, her biological age lags far behind her chronological. Although approaching her centenary, my aunt appears to be no more that her mid fifties, still slim, little grey, few lines and the picture of health.
It didn’t take long for her to ring me. ‘Happy Birthday Laura, dear. Will I see you at your parents’ tonight?
‘For sure. As if I‘d miss my own birthday bash! Now, I assume you received my text. Tell me I’m not delusional and the photos are the same.’
She laughed lightly. ‘They are the same, so there’s no need to question your state of mind.’
‘That’s a relief. So, how long am I going to look like this? I know we’ve got unusual DNA, but this is really getting strange and just a little… you know, scary.’
I actually gave up travelling overseas as I could no longer handle the suspicious looks I received from hypersensitive customs officials, not to mention the interrogations and strip searches in little back rooms, all because my passport photo doesn’t match my chronological age. After the last experience I decided it was best to holiday at home, or resort to finding a disreputable solicitor who could provide me with a false birth certificate.
‘That’s exactly what I’d like to talk to you about,’ my aunt replied.
‘That sounds ominous.’
‘No, no not at all. Everything’s fine dear, and we’ll talk tonight. Now I have to go. Enjoy your day.’ She rang off. Her voice had sounded cheery enough, yet beneath, I sensed a certain undercurrent.
The last time we had ‘a little talk’ revolved around my delayed maturity. In high school everyone else had hit puberty but me. I was the odd kid out, too self-conscious to tell even my closest friends I still hadn’t gotten my periods. I was in Year Twelve. My mum had prepared me when I was younger, but neither of us expected it to be this late. She had no idea, but Aunt Judy did. She explained a bit about our biological inheritance being caused by an unusual gene we possess which also gives us our very rare blood type. So rare in fact, it’s unclassified. She advised me then it would not be a good idea to donate blood.
After that wonderful revelation, I went on a research spree trawling through every medical journal and science book I could get my hands on, looking for anything regarding strange blood types, delayed aging even aliens. Yes, I actually began seriously considering whether my family were descended from aliens!
My aunt assured me we weren’t.
Apart from fishing villages in northern Japan and remote mountain settlements in the Caucasus famous for their centenarians, there was nothing. For, even though those people were long lived, they hadn’t stopped ageing.
It looked like I was on my own.
Thinking about my family, one member in each generation lived well beyond their centenary. Grandad Owen lived to be one hundred and thirty-two and his father died aged one hundred and forty-seven. They didn’t appear young though. Grandad looked to be, at least in his eighties when he died. And he was the only one who had ever travelled overseas, courtesy of the AIF, who sent him straight to the trenches in France during the First World War.
Did that mean my physical appearance would eventually catch up? Surely I wasn’t going to look this young a decade or so from now? I would just have to wait and see.
Admittedly, until a few years ago, I appreciated this advantage as it meant I could date much younger men. Problem is, it got messy when they asked my age. And it’s surprising how many men do. Must be an ego thing, I concluded long ago. It freaked them out when they coaxed it out of me. On one particular date, the guy excused himself to go to the loo and never came back. Just as well we hadn’t ordered yet, otherwise I would have been stuck with the bill.
After that embarrassing episode, I accepted the fact that lying was my only option. The problem is that, I don’t lie well, and avoiding the subject doesn’t always work. So, I gave up dating altogether. Oddly enough, it wasn’t a hard decision to make. As the years roll on, the discrepancy between my physical appearance and my chronological age – if things don’t change – will only increase. Who’s to say I won’t end up as a guinea pig in a secret research lab hidden somewhere in the desert. To an ambitious scientist, I’m a walking Nobel Prize.
Just as I began to wonder if I should be celebrating this birthday at all, my best friend, Jenny, messaged me. ‘Happy b/day u genetic freak u. C u @ lunch.’
Yep, that’s my best friend. She always knows how to make me smile when I need it.
Jenny’s eleven years my junior. But strangers seeing us together would assume the reverse. So far, it hasn’t affected our friendship and I sincerely hope it never will.
Her dark hair is still bright and glossy, and the occasional grey that dares to appear is ripped out with gusto. There are the beginnings of fine lines around her
eyes, but they only accentuate their sparkle whenever she laughs. And Jenny loves to laugh. Her good humour shows even in the most trying circumstances. She’s one of those rare people who have come through life’s difficulties battered, but still able to see the sunshine. It’s a special quality to possess, one I sometimes envy.
I hurried out of my unit to meet her.
The cicadas were humming, the scent of frangipanis filled the air and the sky blazed a sultry azure blue. It’s what I’ve always called a South Pacific day. And in summer, there’s no more glorious place on earth than Sydney with the world’s most beautiful beaches just a twenty-minute drive from my inner-city unit.
Jenny had booked a table at the Bar Oceania at the south end of Coogee. It was a popular spot, so I was lucky to find somewhere to park.
As I got out, I saw that she’d managed to grab one of the sidewalk tables with the nifty umbrella on top. There she sat, sipping an iced tea, looking cool and relaxed in a floaty, pale lilac dress, a smile on her face as she watched kids and adults jostle each other at the nearby gelato bar.
            ‘They’re doing a roaring trade today,’ I said as I joined her.
            ‘Reckon. We might get one later on,’ she replied as she rose from her seat to plant a kiss on my cheek. ‘Anyway, Happy Birthday, you. I’ve ordered us some peach flavoured iced tea.’
‘Thanks. When did you arrive?’
‘Ten minutes ago. I wanted to get an outside table. Too nice a day to be indoors,’ she said, pointing to the interior of the café which looked deceptively dark compared to the sharp brightness of our outdoor seating.
The waitress delivered our drinks just as Jenny slid a small pastel-coloured envelope in my direction.
‘Go on, open it.’ Her eyes shone.
‘It’s pointless to say you shouldn’t have, right?’
‘What do you think!’
I smiled and tore open the envelope. Inside was a ticket to the Sydney performance of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. I may not have a drop of Scottish blood in me, but I shiver with excitement at the sound of bagpipes and a massed pipe band reduces me to jelly.
I jumped out of my seat and gave her a big hug. ‘Jen!’ I exclaimed. ‘I’ve been “uumming” and “aaahing” for the last couple of weeks, trying to make up my mind whether or not to go to this. It’s so expensive’. I love my job as a teacher, but I certainly didn’t go into the profession to get rich. The last I heard, the local garbage collector earned more.
‘Yeah,’ she said, ‘but I know how much you love bagpipes and the whole
military thing. And, guess what?’
Before I could, she produced another ticket from her bag. ‘I’m coming with you,’ she said and waved it in my face.
‘Since when are you a fan?’
‘Since I saw the ad on telly. How could I possibly pass up seeing all those gorgeous men in skirts?’
I rolled my eyes. ‘Kilts!’
‘Whatever you say. And who knows, it could be a really windy night and we’ll both find out what’s beneath those things!’ She wriggled her eyebrows at me.
I laughed. ‘You’re incredible and the best friend ever.’
She gave me a huge grin. ‘And don’t you forget it! So, I can safely assume Matt hasn’t got you these.’
‘Fat chance! He hates bagpipes. Don’t know what he has against them.’
I discreetly hid my Highland Christmas CD when he joined my family for Christmas Eve dinner last year, after hearing him mention to my Dad that they reminded him of copulating cats!
Detective Inspector Matthew Sommers is the man in my life. He brought me out of my self-imposed dating exile and yes, he knows all about my unusual bloodline. It doesn’t really bother him since I look much younger and that suits him just fine. We’ve been seeing each other for nearly two years now. He stands just around one-eighty centimetres. When he smiles a cute dimple forms in his left cheek.
The day we met, he was accompanying a uniformed female constable who came to instruct Grades Five and Six on Traffic Safety. It was part of the Primary school curriculum and that year Matt got the short straw. Usually it’s the uniformed police who do these little school trips, but unfortunately (or fortunately for me) due to staff shortages, long service leaves and illness, one of the detectives had to fill the role.
We started chatting over coffee in the staff lunchroom afterwards and then he asked me out to dinner. I had no difficulty accepting. My Grade Six girls said he was, and I quote, ”hot”!
‘Jen, there’s no way I’d drag him to this. He’d come only because he loves me and sit there with cotton wool stuffed in his ears.’ I shook my head as I tried to picture the scene.
‘You know, it would be almost worth it just to see him.’
We both laughed.
‘Ooh, I almost forgot,’ I said to her. ‘You know my Aunt Judy, Dad’s sister?’
             ‘The one with the fabulous jewellery? Massive gold bangles and chokers?
            ‘Yep.’
‘            ‘What about her?’
‘I spoke to her this morning. She asked if I’ll be at Mum and Dad’s tonight. Seems there’s something important she needs to tell me.’
‘Any idea why?’ Jen asked as she sipped on her iced tea.
I nodded. ‘My… little anomaly.’
‘Ah! That could be interesting. Doesn’t she carry the same anti-ageing thing as you?’
 ‘Yeah. And it’s not anti-ageing, just slower that everyone else, that’s all. You know something, now that I think of it, she suddenly stopped taking part in any family events after her fiftieth, except for my birthday. She’s never missed one of those.’
‘Obviously you’re her favourite, Laura.’
‘I suppose. She doesn’t have any children of her own so it’s nice to think she’s kind of adopted me.’
‘So, she’s what – ninety now?’
‘Late nineties, I think.’ I tried to remember her exact age. Jenny was twirling the ice at the bottom of glass with her straw, having just drained the last of her drink.
‘Hundred,’ I said.
‘What?’
‘She’s going to be a hundred. Dad’s planning a huge celebration.’
‘How does she look?’ Jenny asked curiously..
‘Easily forty years younger,’ I replied. ‘And still really attractive.’
Jenny looked at me in amazement. ‘Huh! Why can’t I be cursed like that!’ she groaned.
I was beginning to hate this growing difference between us. ‘Jen, you’re only thirty-nine and beautiful. Guys give themselves whiplash checking you out.’ It didn’t work. I took a deep breath. ‘Well, I know you can see the physical advantages, but…’ and just as I was about to launch into my litany of disadvantages, Jenny put both index fingers into her ears and began to hum.
I sat back in my seat, folded my arms and waited for her to finish. ‘I hate it when you do that!’
‘I know,’ she replied smugly. Then inching slightly forward to get closer to me, she quietly asked, ‘But, if you had a choice, would you get rid of it?’
She jiggled the ice in the bottom of her glass and waited for my answer.
I couldn’t give her one.
‘Thought so,’ she sighed, and leaned back in her chair.
It wasn’t the first time this difference had cropped up between us and I had a sense it was only going to grow as the years advanced. How would Jenny feel a decade from now if I still appeared no older than twenty-something and she’d be pushing fifty? I really didn’t want to think about it.
‘Jen, I don’t want this to wreck our friendship. I’ve got it, I’m stuck with it and I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t enjoy it.’
‘I’m sure.’ She could see my face drop and realized she’d hit the mark. I thought, given the choice, what woman on this planet wouldn’t give up her soul to have age-retarding DNA. So I made the lamest excuse possible. ‘Hey, I’m only human!’
Jenny smiled. The momentary tension evaporated. ‘Can I have some of your blood, then? It’s the least you can do for your best friend!’ she asked in mock seriousness.
I rolled my eyes. ‘Honestly Jen! Since when did you become a vampire?’
I was glad when the waitress came to take our lunch order.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Bloodgifted - Book 1 of the Dantonville Legacy

What if it were possible for someone - say a woman - to possess an extremely rare gene that drastically reduced her rate of ageing? That having reached her 50th year, she looked no older than a 24 year old?
Isn't that the stuff of fantasy! Imagine the scramble among cosmetic companies and biochemists to try and obtain even a spit's worth of that person's DNA to create a lotion every woman in the world would kill to possess. No more botox, no more laser treatments, no more pins and tucks, just smear it on and enjoy extended youthful looks for decades.
But, what if it came with a catch? An extremely frightening and unbelievable one? As they say, everything comes with a price.
Just what if this woman's rare genetic makeup was the direct result of an ancient curse from a vampire ancestor? And it's all true.
Well, at least in fiction. It certainly couldn't exist in real life. Or could it?
Here is the story of just how such a woman learnt her family's terrible secret and the price she must pay for possessing such a rare genetic mutation.

'Bloodgifted' is due for release in December on Amazon - just in time for Christmas.

The first three chapters have been posted on this blog, as a teaser.
Read and enjoy.