Sunday, 30 September 2012

I've Been Interviewed!

Sometime ago I gave an interview - as a debut author - on my forthcoming vampire novel, Bloodgifted, the first book in a series I've entitled, The Dantonville Legacy.
I was so excited by the prospect, it took me several days to answer all the questions.
That was a few months ago and, to be honest, I nearly forgot about it. But, here it is on Patrick Satters's blog.
So, if you want to find out more about me and my latest edition to the vampire genre, check out the link:

Enjoy and if you have any questions, just let me know. I love questions.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Three Things, As a Writer, I Can't Do Without Or Keep Calm and Carry On Writing!

If someone had told that one day I'd be living on the Central Coast, in a house with two gardens with a bindii plantation, doing casual teaching while writing a series of paranormal novels, I would have said they were nuts!
Yet, it's funny how things turn out. And, in my case, it's been for the best.
Since beginning this incredible writing journey, I've experienced exhilaration like no other each time I write another scene or dialogue for my characters. 
Only chocolate comes close!
I've also had the privilege of being shortlisted twice in both national and international writing competitions.

So, what have I learnt over these last three years? I could write a thesis on it, but here it is in digestible form:

#1 Never underestimate the value of your writers group. They are there to help you develop as a writer and as a person.
Too often, as writers, we can be blind to faults in our manuscripts. It's a case of, "the forest for the trees" syndrome. We're too close to our "baby"and don't see the typos, missing words, dodgy grammar, creative syntax, plot holes, scatty dialogue and structure. They don't.
In this way, I've also learnt to accept criticism - albeit constructive - which is necessary for any writer.
Yes, I have a thin skin like everyone else, and tend to get defensive about my creation, but it's part of the growing process. I have to accept that, unlike the Ancient Greek goddess Athena who sprang fully formed and perfect from the head of her father Zeus, my manuscript did not! It takes draft after draft to get it right.
Put that into a mathematical formula and it goes something like this: w + cc + h = pm

                writer + constructive criticism + humility = publishable manuscript

#2 Write what you love; what you enjoy reading, NOT what is trendy. Because the chances are, by the time you complete writing that hot topic, everyone else will be on the next best thing!
I love vampire stories. Always have, always will. No apologies.
Since I was a child I drawn to tales of the paranormal - witches, ghosts, vampires (but oddly enough, never zombies. There's something about rotting corpses that turns me off!) - and I devoured them (excuse the pun).
As I grew up, that didn't change. My favourite books are by Anne Rice, Maggie Shayne (I can't get enough of her Wings In The Night vampire series), Charlaine Harris, Tanya Huff and MaryJanice Davidson. They dominate my bookshelves.
Now, I've written my own, which hopefully will be released in December - unless of course I win that Choc Lit competition.

#3 Never give up writing or believing in yourself. Writing is both a passion as well as a craft. Hone it, by writing, writing, writing. If you have full confidence in your manuscript, don't let anyone put you off. Publishers have been known to get it wrong. Think of all those who rejected JK Rowling, Matthew Reilly, Christopher Paolini, Amanda Hocking and those are just ones who immediately spring to mind.

As writers, we live in an exciting age. We don't need to wait for publishers to accept our work. There are so many other options available to us now, especially since the stigma of self-publishing has finally been lifted. There are some brilliant indie writers making a successful living selling their books online. And their works are just as well-written (sometimes better) than those traditionally published.

If you want to write, then write and indulge that passion. And when you're finished, share it with the rest of us.

Finally, to all that, I would add chocolate, coffee and a nice glass of red wine. Those three things I definitely can't live without!

So, what are your experiences as a writer? (Bloggers are writers too!) I'd love to know.


Friday, 21 September 2012

Review : A Discovery of Witches

This week I completed reading A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness, Professor of History at USC. Being a historian myself, I was keen to see how she approached writing a work of fiction, quite a different exercise from academic treatises and research papers. Interestingly enough, some of the world's best-loved books have been written by university professors. For example, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis who gave us The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Both sublime pieces of work.
So, here we have another academic with a taste for the supernatural - witches, daemons and, my favourite, vampires!

The story concerns the discovery of a lost manuscript in the Ashmolean, known as Ashmole 782, by reluctant witch, Diana Bishop. Descended from a infamous magical family, Diana is loath to practise witchcraft, preferring rather to accomplish success in her academic career on her own merits. Like the author, Diana Bishop is a history professor at a well known American university on sabbatical in Oxford. While there she meets yummy Matthew Clairmont, the proverbial tall, dark and delicious - with fangs! - professor of neuroscience who is himself interested in finding the lost manuscript.

He and Diana meet and and the attraction is mutual. Unfortunately, the non-human world of which they are a part, forbid fraternisation between the races - witches, daemons and vampires. Yet, in spite of it, they band together to locate Ashmole 782, a medieval book on alchemy, which supposedly contains information regarding the future survival of their kind. They soon realise other more powerful individuals in their world are also after the same manuscript and they see Diana as the key to obtaining it.
To know what happens, you just have to read it.

The story drew me in straight away. Not only because I liked the characters of Diana and Matthew, their struggle to overcome their own personal demons, while fighting their growing respect and eventual love for each other, but for its magic. The book is full of 'witchy' activities - magical houses that instantly create extra rooms when visitors arrive, walls which crack open revealing hidden secrets, spells and enchanted objects.
It's like Harry Potter for grown ups!

Can't wait to read the next book in the All Souls Trilogy. The only problem is, once I start reading I won't be able to put it down, and there goes my own writing.
Oh well, C'est la vie!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The World's Oldest Profession. And It's Not What You Think!

I love that title, which by the way, is about gardening NOT prostitution. The world's oldest profession is actually gardening. Adam and Eve had to eat before enjoying the pleasures of sex - which is never much fun when you haven't eaten, especially when the growls which emanate from your stomach are louder than the moans of pleasure from your lover!

But, once again, I digress.

Gardening has become my panacea while waiting for the result of an international writers competition I entered and for which my book, Bloodgifted, has been shortlisted. The winner will be announced in December.
Patience is not one of my virtues.
It's one of the reasons I've decided to become an indie writer, as waiting for publishers to respond to my submissions (those rare few who actually do), would probably kill me!
So, I've taken to gardening - when not working on my second book in the series, Bloodpledge.
Truly, there's nothing more therapeutic than taking out my frustrations on the amazing variety of weeds that have made my garden their home.
Next to bubble wrap, it's the cheapest form of therapy!

Since moving out of the city and to my own so-called 'sea change,' I've discovered it's no easy task taking on a previously bush-reclaimed piece of ground and transforming it into the type of garden one sees only in glossy magazines. I'd forgotten how much gardening equipment, potting and seed raising mix, fertiliser, seedlings, weed killer, slug and snail pellets, insect spray, native-bird deterrent, manure and plastic as well as terracotta pots, oh, and lest I forget to mention all the gardening books I've recently acquired, is needed to create the type of garden I've always dreamt about.
The local nursery is thrilled I've moved into the area. After all, I'm probably keeping them in business.

So far, I've only managed to kill a few seedlings. But, I'm learning.
My first crop of Bluebells have come up, as well as the stunning red tulip bulbs I planted as soon as we moved in. The daisies are in glorious full bloom, while the crimson rose bushes are covered in buds and the lavender is attracting bees.
Yes, the garden of my dreams is slowly appearing.

Meanwhile, I'll wait for that UK publisher to announce my manuscript as the winner and offer me a three-book deal.
Fantasising isn't simply restricted to my garden!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Naive twit! Or, Death to Hackers!

The old adage, Live and Learn, has never been more true. At least where I'm concerned.
As a relative newbie to Twitter I was under the rather naive (aka, foolish) impression that people are generally nice, and if you're nice to them the favour will be returned.

Ah, how naive can one be!

Unfortunately, there are people (I use the term loosely) who enjoy creating havoc by sending malicious messages with attached viral links. Those of us who have never been exposed to such nasties before, are often caught like the proverbial fish! That's what happened to me.
I spent the next three days trying to retrieve a hijacked password that, thankfully, was not connected to my bank account - which is what, I'm told, these creatures are after.
But, they hacked into my twitter account, and using my followers, sent a series of malicious, viral-infected messages to them and others. It took me several hours to reach all my followers in order to warn them.
Then, I had to make a two hour trip to the nearest Apple store so the geeks there could give my laptop a thorough once-over to get rid of the embedded nasty. Which they did, bless their little geeky hearts.
But, I was locked out of my own Google account and my precious blog. If I couldn't retrieve my password, or even get it changed, I faced the horror scenario of having to create a new blog and somehow copy and paste everything from the old one into the new!

Happily, it didn't happen. I was able to use another email account to which Google sent the necessary information for me to change my password.
Hence the reason why this week's blog post is late. I have to thank the sick-minded hacker for being responsible!

Because of this creature, I lost three valuable days which could have been spent writing and proof-reading/editing my first book which is due for release this December - depending, of course,  on the results of the international writing competition I entered and for which I have been shortlisted.

So, what have I learnt from all this?
Firstly, NEVER open any link on Twitter, no matter the message.
Secondly, have at least TWO or THREE extra email accounts in case one is compromised.
Thirdly, DON'T TRUST ANYONE (except my mum).

Now, I shall return to my regular blog. Stay tuned.

If anyone has had a similar experience, please feel free to share. How did you handle it?