Tag Archive: guest blogs


Dear all –

Happy New Year! And slightly belatedly, here is the long-promised Guestpost kindly written by Barbara Silkstone, writer of the Fractured Fairy Tales series. A bit of preamble:

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Name: Barbara Silkstone

Author of:

Books in the Fractured Fairy Tales by Silkstone series:
The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters


Wendy and the Lost Boys


London Broil


Snow White
– coming in 2012

 

Genre: Comedy Mysteries

Available for Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook (Amazon links at bottom of post)

My books are criminally funny fables frequently taking place between Miami and London – Snarky and Pythonesque.  I blog about eBooks and famous authors I’ve  met under silly circumstances: PD James, Stephen King, and Robert B.Parker, etc.

 Links:

http://barbswire-ebooksandmore.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/Barbara-Silkstone/e/B0047L8A8W

http://www.facebook.com/people/Barbara-Silkstone/100000778601230

http://twitter.com/#!/barbsilkstone

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I get up at 4 am every morning to write. I think most writers know the time of day when their creativity peaks and when it slides into the valley. I’m strong at 4 am and 4 pm. I’m not worth a fig – creatively – in the evening. That’s when I pull out my Kindle. I don’t own a television. I gave mine away a few years ago and haven’t really missed it since I have my eReader.

Fairy Tales are my launching point. I’ve had so many strange things happen in my life and each episode can be easily related to a fairy tale or fable.  Often I know where the story is going to end up. It’s the journey that amazes me. I draw on some of the wackier events in my life.  I was born under the Sign of Silly and seem to get into the craziest scrapes. I love comedy.

The art of writing comedy is tricky. Drama is pretty clear cut. Something bad happens; there is loss, or betrayal. Comedy requires timing and execution, plus a talent for reaching universal humor. That’s the challenge. What’s funny to a fifty-year-old woman in New York may not touch the funny bone of a young mom in Texas. Our sense of humor is defined by the experiences we’ve endured. No two people “get” the same silly joke the same way.  How do I create that intimate feeling of sharing a chuckle with a friend? I assume my readers are my friends. If they don’t get it then they aren’t my ideal readers. And that’s okay. My Alice in Wonderland book has 40 / five star reviews in US. So most readers get my play on British-American humor.

I usually don’t write character notes. I seem to know the most intimate details of my lunatic bad guys. My women sleuths are all extensions of me. My characters are like old friends or nasty bullies whose stories I heard once and never forgot. So, are my quirky folks in my books based on real characters? Yup. They are blended and shaken, not stirred. Frequently my characters run away with the plot, but when I draw from my own life I shock the knickers off them.

Wendy and the Lost Boys required quite a bit of research. It takes place aboard Charlie Hook’s yacht, one of the larger private vessels in the world. I had to learn about luxury ships. Not first-hand but by reading and asking advice from yacht experts. The Predator is a yacht chock-full of high tech gadgets both real and imaginary including a cloaking device that makes the super-yacht invisible.

Wendy had to learn to fly a helicopter to rescue her friends. I needed a chopper pilot to guide me especially  since Wendy is afraid to fly. Then there were the geographic challenges. Wendy is kidnapped in the Caribbean, and is forced to trek by truck to a goat farm in north Georgia in pursuit of treasure. I put that character through hoops!   *Cackle, cackle.*

London Broil was a delight to write. It was just published in early December and is the sequel to Wendy and the Lost Boys.  Wendy and her archaeologist love-interest race to recover a rare antiquity stolen from the British Museum. I had great fun playing with some of my favorite places in London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and of course, the British Museum. I’m a bug on Egyptology and loved doing that research and creating rare antiquities.

Algy Green reappears in London Broil after making his appearance in The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland. He’s a bad guy who super-glues his sugar-bowl ears to his head. They pop loose at the strangest times. He’s based on someone I knew who glued his ears to his noggin. Strange dude.

It sounds horrible to admit, but I’ve never had writer’s block. I’ve waited so long for the luxury of time to write that I’m like a bottle of champagne, shaken and then uncorked. I bubble over with ideas. I just hope I live to be 125 so I can get them all on paper.

I adore eBooks and love the state of eBook publishing right now. I sold over 2000 Wendy books in November. That could never have happened in the old horse and buggy traditional publishing days. I now have fans around the globe which would have been impossible two years ago. As an Indie you can be all you want and more. It takes 12-16 hours a day of hard work writing and marketing, but it is so worth it. I have two professional editors, a covey of beta-readers, and a wonderful book cover designer, and the best fans in the world.

About 75% of my friends own eReaders. Face Book  and Twitter are great for reaching your ideal readers. Word of mouth is super. The sites that are subscription based for eReader owners are the best way to get word out about your eBooks.

Following are just a few of the many sites my books have been reviewed on:

Red Adept Reviews, ChicklitClub.com,  Bock on Broadway, Tiffany’s Bookshelf, GirlsWhoLovetoRead.com, and  Mark Williams International.

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters has received 40/ five star reviews. My newest book, London Broil received a five star review from best-selling British author, Sibel Hodge.  Wendy and the Lost Boys has an average 4.8 out of 5 stars.

 

eBooks that I won’t forget:

The Ex-Boyfriend’s Hand Book  by Matt Dunn

Sweet Ophelia by Kenneth Rosenberg

Both are romantic comedies written by men.

I adored A Thousand Glass Flowers written by Australian Author, Prue Batten. There are too many wonderful indie books to mention in one post.

 

 At the end 0f Dec 2011, what progress have you made this year?  

I published two more novels :Wendy and the Lost Boys and London Broil.

Both Wendy and the Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland were in the top ten best-selling comedies. At one time they were both in the top twenty at the exact same time. Wendy became a #3 best-seller ranking over major comedy writers in the US.

I was honored to take part in an anthology, the proceeds of which go to benefit breast cancer research. The Indie Chick Anthology introduced me to twenty-five inspiring women who share their stories on overcoming incredible obstacles. I highly recommend it.

Where will you be with your writing in Dec 2012?

Two more novels and two more anthologies.  Snow White will be a continuation of my Fractured Fairy Tale series, and the other will be another adventure with Wendy and her archaeologist lover, Roger Jolley. They will be recovering more stolen Egyptian artifacts.

What are your predictions for the year?

It’s impossible to predict. Each day brings new changes in the industry. Not sure what will happen I just know we are not going backwards.

 

Regarding your deeply personal questions:

 

Liquorice can never be evil. It is one of the best flavors.

Cats or dogs?  Cats rule! Love their independence and haughtiness.

Favourite recipe? Kentucky Fried Chicken – extra crispy.

Favourite gadget?  Dental floss

Favourite wine / beverage / coffee?  I only drink fine champagne, water, and coffee.

Unusual phobias or talents?  Phobia… I hate holes in fabrics. I’ve had this phobia since I was an infant. I’ve never met anyone else who shares my freak-out from holes in cloth. When I go to the hairdresser or nail salon, they know to hide any towels that might have the slightest inkling of a hole. If I’m shopping and I see a selection of ladies jeans with holes in them… I leave the store. I get the shudders just thinking about holes in fabrics.  Let’s leave this topic. Yuck!

Onto the New Year ~

Wishing all a glorious 2012… full of surprises… never boring… always challenging.  May the wind be at your back… because it hurts when it blows in your eyes.

Love,

Barbara Silkstone

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So there you have it, folks! Now, while you’re all raring to investigate these witty rewrites of old favourites, here are the links for you! So do check out the following, and  if you have any questions or comments for Barbara, hit the button and have your say!!

Thanks to Barbara for answering all these questions for us. More next week but I haven’t planned what yet (Christmas mayhem, don’t ask!) but here for your delectation are the Fractured Fairytale links – download the sample and take a look?

Catch you later guys:

JAC

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Barbara’s books and where to buy them:

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wendy and the Lost Boys

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

London Broil

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventures of a Love Investigator, 527 Naked Men and One Woman

Amazon.com    Amazon.co.uk

 

Barb’s Wire – eBooks & More

 

A Moose Walked into a Bar –  (group blog)

 

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Morning all! And have we got a treat for you!

Today’s guest post is courtesy of the lovely MT McGuire (and the Ely Marrow). Author of humorous fantasy Few Are Chosen (which I’ve read and did enjoy) she has come on the blog to show off her shiny new cover – look further down the page and admire the Dangermouse-ness thereof!

Writer, mother of a 2-yr-old, driver of a shiny Lotus and inventor of the flying snurd, she has shared with us the following wisdoms for your delectation…

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 Name: M T McGuire

 One-sentence biog: M T McGuire is 43 years old but still checks inside unfamiliar wardrobes for a gateway to Narnia.

Blog  Facebook Twitter: @MTMcGuireAuthor

Author of: Few Are Chosen, K’Barthan Trilogy 1

Genre/s: Humorous fantasy, if you have to pin me down but don’t ask me to tell you an age group or I may have to kill you. It’s aimed at a type of person and a mind set.

Available from:

E Book: Amazon UK:    Amazon US:   Smashwords:    Barnes & Noble:

Paperback:  Amazon UK   Amazon US   Barnes & Noble   The Book Depository or get a signed copy from www.hamgee.co.uk

One-sentence summary:
OK, I can’t do the book but I can do the trilogy, which goes like this: A cowards falls in love and thinking with his trousers sets out to win the girl, if he wants her he’ll have to save the world… but can he?

When you write, do you have a routine or habit?
No, I have an addiction. Writing, for me, is like a bad crack habit. If I don’t manage to write a certain amount each week I go a teeny bit mental. More than a teeny bit as McOther and McMini will probably attest.

What kicks off the book – a character, a situation, a plot-point?
Usually music. I will be listening to a song when I’ll see something in my head and think, ‘ooo that looks interesting’ and take it from there.

How much do you know in advance?
The beginning, a couple of emotional flashpoints or moments of extreme violence, a bit of conversation and the end.

Do you write character notes or background information?
Nah it’s bad enough having it all banging around in my head without trying to write it all down. If I had time to do more than the bare minimum pukkha writing I might.

Do you do research and how?
I try to establish parameters and rules which the plot, the science and the world I’ve created must stick to.

Do your characters do as you intend or do they tend to run away with the plot?
Oh they run away. Completely. The Pan of Hamgee, the male lead in the K’Barthan Trilogy was a bit character originally. Someone for another character to have an amusing conversation with in gaol. The minute I typed his name, he took over. I don’t think I’m the only writer this happens to.

Do you have clear visuals of places or characters?
Very but it’s not always easy to describe. The pictures on my website of my characters are exactly how they are in my head (only badly drawn).

When you have writer’s block, what do you do?
Draw the characters, market my previous book, or write something else, even if it’s just long tracts about how I can’t write.

Are you indie or trad-pubbed?
Indie.

What made you go that route and why?
To be trad pubbed it needs to be immediately obvious how my work could be marketed and what box it fits into. It’s clearly commercial but it doesn’t obviously fit in a box. Also I need to find an agent. I did try for a year after finishing Few Are Chosen during which time I managed to get polite ‘no’s’ from 5 of them. I do appreciate they’re busy and I can imagine the pressure they are under but I’m 43 now and I decided that I would quite like to see my work in print before I die. So I published it myself.

How long since you published your first book?
A year and a bit. K’Barthan 2 is due out next spring. Thank you everyone for waiting patiently. Writing and looking after a toddler does not make for a quick sequel.

Is there anything you wish you had known before you started?
The above. Oh and make your first book stand alone. Only start with a series if you are a complete nutter.

If you were starting from scratch today, is there anything you would do differently?
Pretty much everything although I’m happy enough with the way it’s turned out.

What is the most important thing for you about having your book published?
That when I have bludgeoned people into it – usually at gunpoint – nearly everyone who has read it likes it. I find this slightly amazing and I am waiting until the moment when the bubble bursts and I get covered in soap!

What are your views on self-publishing?

I think it’s brilliant.

From where I sit, it looks as if the publishing industry has trouble investing in new talent. Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I worked in an industry which comprised many small companies, much the way publishing used to be. However, the many small companies were gradually bought up by five or six big ones, much the way publishing has been. Having experienced working in that model, I can imagine what goes on. In my field a product which was considered a money spinner for a small company suddenly became a loss maker when we were part of a group. As a big group, we had higher overheads and costs so our products had to make a consistent 30% of operating profit to break even. Some of our products made 5% or 10% and they were binned or the rights sold off. I can’t help wondering if this has happened in publishing. I’m guessing that if it is, it might explain why nothing seems to be countenanced in publishing unless it’s a sure fire monster bank.

On the upside. I guess that means something has to come out of the woodwork which can and will make those lower margin, niche-but-profitable books pay. Enter indie and self publishing. No-one in the industry is ever going to take a punt on my book but maybe, if I can build up a readership and a following, they will. And, if, after that, I am not the next J K Rowling, at least my books will be out there. Money is lovely (mwah ha ha haargh) but this is, essentially, about reaching people who will enjoy my books. If they do I don’t mind if there aren’t that many of them.

What are your views on e-books?
I think they’re excellent. They have no shelf life and they allow people like me, who have written a slightly weird book, to reach people who might enjoy reading it directly. And those people are there, just not in big enough quantities to appeal to a publisher.

Also let me just say how much I love e-ink. Please god let them make it in colour, so it’s like a computer screen only not. It’s saving me a fortune in paper and electricity charging stupid batteries because unlike reading on screen, it gives me that sense of removal required for editing.

E ink. Colour. Soon. With touch screen. Go on lovely techies. Kissy kissy. Please…

Do you have/are you considering getting an e-reader? which?
Yes I do. I have a Kindle, because I’m a sheep.
No-no, I’m not a sheep, honest. Actually, I didn’t think I would possibly find a use for a kindle but McOther wanted to buy me something for my birthday and he offered.. Round about that time, it occurred to me that if I write e-books it might be smart if I had a vague idea how they looked on an e-reader.

Now I have it I am delighted with it. Not only do I read more but I have access to lots of books I have absolutely loved which I’d never have been able to read without it. Indeed, I read one book in 2010 (I’m a stay at home parent with a toddler so time and head space can be thin on the ground). I bought an e-book reader in June 2011 and I’ve read about 15 books since. Not much, I agree but a hell of a lot more than I was reading before.

Did you have your cover made/work edited/proofed by someone else?

Yes, yes and yes.
Seriously, get your work proof read by a professional and don’t get it done on paper because if you do you’ll put a whole new raft of mistakes in when you do the alts. Get it done by someone who will correct the document. Blindingly obvious that but publishing gold and yes, despite a 12 year career producing print, it’s a nugget I missed entirely.

If you know a decent designer, get them to do the cover and think hard about what you want first. It took me about a year to realise what I wanted. Once I did, I discussed it with the designer and get something that was close but would also work commercially. They did a fantastic job. A Trouble Halved in Stratford-upon-Avon if you are interested.

What do you do to market your book?
Not nearly enough! Mwah ha ha haargh. Actually, I think it’s a good idea to have something out there free, more than a sample, a story. In my case I have some very bad shorts which I don’t know what to do with and a prequel to the K’Barthan Trilogy called Unlucky Dip. Don’t be daunted by conversion rates though. I reckon freebies work like a mailshot so about one in every hundred will buy something. That said, there are lots and lots of freebie sites so, in theory, you can get that hundred readers several times over.

Are you on any social media? Which do you prefer?
I’m on Facebook  and Twitter ( @mtmcguireauthor ). I also visit forums; kindleboards, mobilereads, amazon.co.uk, goodreads and the like.

What has proved your most successful marketing method so far?
Interviews, reviews and posts like this.

Have you read and enjoyed any other indie authors?
Mmm hmm.

Who? JA Clement, naturally, (JAC: clearly a woman of taste!) Danny Gillan, Lexi Revellian, Ali Cooper, Melanie Dark, Joyce De Bacco and I have a whole truck load in my to be read folder which I haven’t yet done.

Have you any tips for other authors?
If you’re self publishing, think about the basic stuff. Trust me, in my real world job I produced reams of print in a year and I assumed I would not be at home to Mr Cock-up. Unfortunately, when I produced my book, Mr Cock-up, his family and most of his relations took over my guest room for some weeks. There is a lot of really, really obvious stuff that I missed. Here’s a purler; when Few Are Chosen came out I didn’t actually say anywhere on the cover that it was part one of a trilogy. How stupid was that? Naturally, a few people complained about the end being a bit abrupt.

(JAC: Yes, well easy mistake to make, sure lots of people have done that. Er…well at least one person in the vicinity has done that!)

Are there any resources you have found really useful?
Yeh, Simon Royle’s indieview site.

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So there you have it, peeps!

MTM’s book is worth the reading, and you should all go have a look at it – and of course there is the short story Unlucky Dip if you just want to start with a small snippet.

So, in the run-up to Christmas what else can we expect? Next week we have a guest blog from Lexi Revellian, author of Remix, Replica and a new fantasy series starting with Torbrek and the Dragon Variation.

In Christmas week I’ll be writing my own Christmas post – and if you have any requests for that, leave a comment or message me on Goodreads!

And in January I will be bringing you assorted posts from other authors along with (I hope) a new release or so of my own.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to the mailing list (if you’re looking at this on https://jaclement.wordpress.com you’ll see the nice shiny “Get the gossip” button over to the right) then please do so, as apart from anything else I’ll be mailing out a discount code for Book 2 to anyone on the mailing list – and there may be advance review copies going, you never know….

In the interim though, have a good weekend, and if you have any questions for MTM or myself, please comment below!

See you next week:

JAC

Morning all –

and look what we have here! How will you recover from the excitement of not ONE but TWO new releases in ten days?! So, hopefully you all read Cambria’s story and left a review, right? (She wants to know what you think, you know). Well, just as you’re starting to look around and wonder what literary wonders you should segue onto, here for your delectation is a guest-blog by none other than CS Splitter, author of the Crayder Chronicles.

As regulars will know, Splitter is one of the more fnar-prone members of Creative Reviews and is a contributor to (not to mention the main instigator of) the Christmas Lites Anthology due out next week, so do comment, heckle, or if you feel really inspired, Tweet the link to his new book, out 21st November! I can’t comment just yet as my copy is still on the Kindle which is locked firmly in a drawer till I’ve got ODS2 out for you, but the goss down in Creative Reviews is that the Crayder Chronicles rock…. and that’s just the more critical reviews!

I have been warned by two or three persons of good judgement that Tom Crayder as a character is going to infuriate me until I accidentally end up liking him! So I for one am really looking forward to having a read, and judging by the first chapter which I have seen, you should BY NO MEANS believe Splitter when he says he sucks. Methinks the writer doth protest too much….

So read his blog, admire the covers, Tweet the link and do go check out the samples on Amazon. I mean, you could always throw underwear but there’s a bit of a cross-wind at the moment so it’d probably hit Bill Oddie or someone. Me, I’d go for the Tweet but then perhaps Bill Oddie would appreciate the attention, who knows? I’ll leave it to your good selves….

And so without further ado, let me hand you over to the lovely C.S Splitter!

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splitter crayder chronicles

C S Splitter, author of The Crayder Chronicles

Name: C.S. Splitter

Author of: The Reluctant and The Willing

Genre/s: Action/Adventure, Thriller, Mystery, Humor, Crime

P- or e-book: Both books are available as eBooks right now (The Willing to be released November 21st)  and will be available in print early in 2012.

Available from:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Reluctant-Crayder-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B004VS751O/

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52864

Journal Stone:  http://journal-store.com/bookstore/the-reluctant/

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/c-s-splitter

ibooks:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-reluctant/id449636851?mt=11

and other internet resellers.  Books are also available through other internet retailers and on Amazon’s international sites (UK, Germany, etc..)

One-sentence summary:

The justice system failed but Tom Crayder will not.

One-sentence biog:

C.S. Splitter is a business man, author, and stand-up philosopher living in rural Maryland with his beautiful wife, small dog, and astonishingly large cat.

Your links:

Blog – http://splittersworld.blogspot.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002241805910

Twitter:  @SplitterCS


Book cover Reluctant Crayder Chronicles SplitterCS Splitter Crayder Chronicles 2 The Willing

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Indie Mistakes and Lessons

Since I will never be able to convince you, the reader, that I am an expert in the field of self publishing, let me take the easy route and convince you that I am stupid.  I see that look on your face – you are already believing me.  Good!  Here we go:

One of my earliest memories as a child was sitting on someone’s hip in the kitchen, either my grandmother or my mother (they were both there), and being told not to touch the hot stove.  I do not remember the pain, but I remember the angry red circles on my palm and the commotion that ensued among the adults.  They were right; the stove was hot.

Apparently, I need to figure out things for myself.  I am dense like that and have a whole file full of stories from my life to prove it.  You do not have to be so dense and you will not be if you read on.

In 2010, ideas for a character and then for a story hit me.  Hard.  I had to write it.

That lightning bolt from the heavens came a decade too late.  I had spent more than ten years trying to come up with an idea for a fantasy book, my favorite genre to read.  I would get an idea, begin to outline it or write it, and then realize that it had been done before and probably in a better way than I could ever hope to duplicate.  I gave up writing fiction.

It did not matter that, when I finally got a good and original idea, it was in a totally different genre without swords, or castles, or princesses to rescue.  I had to write it.  It was that powerful.  The will to write fiction was back in a big way.

I began enthusiastically tapping away on my laptop and the first few chapters flew by.  I bogged down in the middle of the book and had to abandon my original outline for an even better idea.  I struggled through that period and, as Paul Harvey would have said, “the rest of the story” just flowed until the end.

I did it!  I wrote a book.  I did a little dance, consumed some alcohol, and dreamt of the fame and fortune that would be coming my way.  I had no idea whether or not the work was any good, but the dreaming was fun.  For a while.

Reality set in when I re-read my book.  The story…well, in all modesty…I think it was good.  The writing seemed fine, too.  After all, I had read hundreds of books in my life and knew how to spell and punctuate and not end a sentence in a preposition.  At least, I thought I did.

I had to make hundreds of corrections on my subsequent readings.  After about six re-reads and self-edits, it was ready to release.  I hated my own book by that point because I could almost recite it verbatim.  People read it and liked it—and sent me emails showing me where mistakes still lurked.  I fixed them and put out ten or more revised versions.  Everything had to be fixed by then, right?  Right?

Not by a long shot.  By the time the book had ten reviews, all four and five stars, there were still problems.  My readers, as thorough as they were, did not catch all of the book’s flaws.  But, the story and the characters were good enough to make them like the book.

By the time I figured this out, I was mostly done with the first draft of the second book in the series (The Crayder Chronicles).  I didn’t need to beg (as much) for alpha and beta readers for the second book because I had the contact information for some readers who liked the first book.  My alpha/beta readers are the BEST!  They tore into the second book and sent me lists of little errors that needed correcting.

Every time I made corrections on the second book, I sent out a revised file to the beta readers.  Right down to the last one, they kept finding little errors.  I was well on my way to having to publish the second book, The Willing, and do many revisions just like I had done with the first book.

Did I really want to repeat those mistakes?  Did I really want early readers getting less than my best effort?  Did I really want to keep finding little typos and having to correct them by updating the files on sites like Amazon and Smashwords?

No, I did not.  I am not really bright, but I do try to learn as I go and, as a side note, I have never laid my hand flat on a red hot stove burner again (at least, not on purpose).  I got an editor, Tricia Kristufek.  I call her the “Comma Queen.”  She started with my second book and worked her way back through the first book.

It was apparent that after all of the “cloud editing” that my alpha and beta readers did for me and even after readers pointed out typos as they praised the characters and story, I still sucked as a writer.

“Sucked” is a harsh word.  I guess I didn’t suck compared to some of the bad indie work I have seen out there, but I wasn’t “clean” either.  I did not want to be one of “those” indie authors who put out junk, so I got an editor.  A real editor who could give the books a little polish.  My editor showed me why “sucked” was really not too strong a term for me.

I say all of that to say this: learn from my mistakes.  That is lesson one.  Do not touch hot stoves and do not needlessly cause yourself heartache and embarrassment.  I have already done that for you!

It is terribly embarrassing, in retrospect, to know that the there were still too many mistakes in the first book, even with the last revision, before I had it edited.  How many potential readers downloaded those first couple chapters and noticed something that turned them off?  How many publishers?

See—I have bad habits as a writer.  I can say that freely because if you are a writer, you probably have some too.  I even see bad habits FREQUENTLY on display from well known authors from Big Six publishing houses.

So here is lesson two: You are making mistakes in your writing that you do not even realize and you need someone looking over your shoulder from a totally new perspective that will point them out to you.  Get an editor.  Somehow, some way, get an editor.  See lesson one for a refresher on “why.”

Because I am doomed to analyze positively everything, I thought back and tried to figure out why I had made the mistake of putting out that first book too quickly and with too many errors.  I thought back to how I felt when I was writing that book and how wonderful it felt when I “finished” it.  That was it!  I rushed the book out to be published because I was excited and because I did not know any better.

Lesson three: There is no hurry.  Wait.  Refine.  Think about it.  Do some research.  If you have read this far, you no longer have an excuse for not knowing better…I took care of that for you by making those mistakes already.  See lesson one!

Am I sorry I made so many mistakes with the first book?  Not really.  It turned out just fine in the end.  The characters and the story were always good, or so I have been told.  The writing was where I was mostly falling short and that was fixable.

Plus, I found some wonderful alpha and beta readers that will, hopefully, be available to me as I put out future books in the series.  I made friends that included other authors and bunches of readers and reviewers.

I have one more lesson for you today, take it for what it is worth: your cover is probably bad and is costing you sales.  Did I mention how bad my original covers probably were?  I say “probably” because, as someone who lacks any hint of artistic ability, I made them.  So, when I decided to finally start marketing the series, I started working with Dafeenah from IndieDesignz.  I basically just said, “Here is what my story is about, here are the themes I want to follow, please make me a good cover.”  She delivered in a HUGE way for the cover of The Reluctant.

Here is where the writer of this article should double back and convince you, once again, that he/she is such an expert that you should be following his/her advice.  I will tell you truthfully; I am no expert.  I am just an indie writer fighting his way through this new aspect of the publishing industry.  All I can really tell you is that I am, or have been, where you are or were.  That’s not far yet, but maybe someday…

Splitter

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So once again, many thanks to Splitter for coming to play today! His new book The Willing is out on 21st, so do check out The Reluctant if you haven’t already looked.

Next week, we have a Q&A with Shane Porteous who will tell us a little about his  new book – one for the werewolf fans among you, he tells me! And further down the line we will have blogs from MTMaguire and Lexi Revellian and if all goes to plan, quite possibly On Dark Shores 2: The Other Nereia though that will be further into December.

So as always, add your comments below and tell us if you’ve already read The Reluctant, what you know of The Willing,and indeed whether your undies hit Bill Oddie after all…

Have a great weekend, peeps!

JAC

Hey peeps –
ain’t we the lucky ones today?! For why you ask (or at least those of you who didn’t read the title do)??
.
Because today we have a special guest post with the lovely Cambria Hebert, published paranormal author, fellow member of the Creative Reviews group on Goodreads (click the button over there on the right if you haven’t visited there yet) and general lovely nutter. This is her, look:
Hot chick with thiing for werewolves

Hot chick with thing for werewolves

Now boys, calm down (girls, she is just as lovely as she looks). She has kindly agreed to answer some questions for this blog to celebrate the release of short story Before, which will be released for your enjoymen and delectation on 18th November, no less and is a taster forher main novel Masquerade, due to hit the shelves on 16th December. Her blog is full of amusing and entertaining stuff, and her book trailers are WAY cool! Especially the one for the short story White-out which is frankly the best book trailer I’ve seen in some time. She is also one of the main culprits responsible for the Creative Reviews Charity Anthology, Christmas Lites, due out on Nov 26th,  so keep an eye out for all of these literary amuse-bouches.
So – let’s hear from the lady herself….

Name: Cambria Hebert

Title: Before

(more details  and frankly fabulous cover are at end of post)

Format: Ebook (no links yet)

One sentence summary:  What if your life was charmed and everything in it was perfect… Before.

One sentence author bio: Cambria is an author, blogger, latte sipper who loves werewolves and just knows a toilet snake is waiting to get her.

Links:

Website: http://www.cambriahebert.com

Blog: http://www.theunlockeddiary.blogspot.com

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cambria-Hebert/128278117253138

Twitter: @cambriahebert

1.  When writing Before what element did you start with and how did it develop?

Before is the prequel to my debut novel, Masquerade, so I used the novel as a jumping off point. Masquerade is based on Heven, a teenage girl who had the perfect life before there was an accident and she was left horribly disfigured on the left side of her face. She is then treated with caution and considered a freak. Heven can’t remember the accident or how she got her scars. Before is about Heven about her life before her accident and the trouble that is lurking in the background that she doesn’t see….

 2.  What was most difficult about writing Before?

The most difficult thing is that it is a short story and shorts are hard!!! Trying to pack some interest and action into such a short amount of writing. Also, I felt a lot of pressure to make it be enticing so people will want to read Masquerade.

 3. Do your characters do as you intend or do they run away with the plot?

They run away with the plot – always!! That’s why it’s so fun to write! Once I researched a character’s name for an hour, picked one out and then wrote the scene where the character came into the book. When he was asked his name he said something else!!! I was like all that time researching wasted! I couldn’t force his name because he never would have been quiet in my head. I would have insomnia!

 4. Why toilet snakes?

Imagine this: its one o’clock in the morning, you wake up and crawl out of bed, trudge through the dark and into the bathroom. You sit down on the toilet, half sleeping… and then a snake bites you! On your butt! Ack!!!  Always look before you sit. It’s a rule!!! Never get caught with a snake on your bum. It could happen. But it won’t happen to me, because I look before I sit. Yes, even in the middle of the night.

 5. Werewolves. How often do you have to groom them?

That’s the beauty of a werewolf. Sometimes they are hairy and other times they are hot men. Wait – not just hot – Hawt. Yup, gotta exaggerate that hawwt. Uh –huh. Anyway, when they get shaggy looking you can just either make them morph into their human selves or send them to the groomer. Or perhaps they can just run off into the woods and scratch themselves against a tree. Either way they are great for cold winter nights….

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 JAC: <bafflement. Fleas?>

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6. Brussel sprouts – why?

As in why would anyone eat them?? I don’t like them. I’ve tried to cook them, bake them, season them. They are gross. They taste like mini cabbages (which isn’t that what they are?) and cabbage is gross too. Sorry to all you cabbage lovers out there!

JAC:
Thanks to Cambria for answering those questions,even if the whole werewolf / fleaing thing is a bit of a worry….. So here are those links again in case you missed them!

Cambria Hebert
Didn’t get enough? Check me out on Tuesday nights at 9pm (EST)
 BEFORE – by Cambria Hebert
 Details:
Cover of short story by Cambria Hebert

What if your life was charmed and everything in it was perfect…

Before.

This is the story of my past. Of what things were like for me when everything was normal. Of what every teenager’s life is like. Clothes. Parties. Boys and summer vacation. What’s so wrong with that? I liked it. I was happy.

Until things changed. I changed.

I didn’t know that lies and secrets were about to take over my existence. I didn’t know there was someone out there, someone meant just for me. I didn’t know that I was about to go on a journey, a journey that would lead me to the girl I am today.

This is the beginning of the worst year of my life. Would I go back and change things? Erase everything that has happened to go back into these moments?

Not a chance.

This is a story of before.

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So once again thanks to Cambria for her fab interview, and best of luck with the exciting multiple releases over Christmas! And remember, kids, when she’s at the top of the NYT Bestsellers list – you saw her here first!
In the weeks to come – a guest-blog from CS Splitter, author of The Reluctant with hopefully some details about his new release The Willing, due out 21st November…. and a couple of other treats queued up between now and Christmas, so keep an eye on this space! And you never know, it’s just possible that I might have a new release in the On Dark Shores series for you before the end of the year….here’s hoping!
Upon which note I shall get back to my edits and leave you lovely lot to go look at Cambria’s websites (go on! I didn’t put all those links in for nothing!) Have a great week, peeps – and  when you’ve read Before, and indeed all the rest, don’t forget to leave a review!
Catch you later;
JAC

http://www.indolentreader.com/2011/08/on-dark-shores-lady-by-ja-clement.html

And what a lovely one!  Check it out, peeps!

Interview here:

http://www.forbiddenpassionsinterviews.blogspot.com/

Do go and leave some of that comment-type love for Catie!

JAC

Hi all – just a quickie in case any of you missed Barbara Silkstone’s guest-blog on the differences between marketing in the UK and the US, with reference to various indie authors including Ali Cooper, Sibel Hodge and myself, among others…

Check it out at http://markwilliamsinternational.com/2011/07/10/swimming-the-atlantic-naked-barbara-silkstone-investigates/

and do leave a comment if you have a view!

JAC

 

Hey all:

I am pleased to say that Jenn of “Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger” has asked me to do an author interview and giveaway on her site

Amongst other things, we discuss the Mother of the Shantar and her daughter Eliset, and I explain a little about the aftermath of the war between the Shantari and the Mardonese and why you hear so little about it for most of the first book, though it will feature heavily in the second.

If you’re interested (or if you want to enter for the chance of a free copy of  “On Dark Shores: The Lady” ) you can read more at

Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger

 NB: as an added bonus, if you’re quick you might have a last chance to enter her previous giveaway for a SIGNED copy of “The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa. You’ll have to be quick though – that giveaway finishes in the next day or so (the competition for “On Dark Shores” is open till 24th, so you have  a bit more time for that.

Hope you all enjoy the read:

JAC

Morning all!

And hope you’re all having a decent weekend….

I’m quite glad the week is over – everything is really busy at the moment, I’m doing edits on Book 2 in all my spare time, and got caught up in the train uproar on Thursday night, so my (usually 1hr) journey home actually took best part of 6 hours, leaving me getting in so late I had 3h sleep before having to get up again and start my Friday commute! Yuck!

However, in better news,’ On Dark Shores: The Lady‘ is just this minute up to #7839 in the whole of the Kindle Store – get me! I’m really pleased, even though that will probably last all of ten minutes…. but to be in the top 10k is quite cool, so though I guess I’ll be back down again by tomorrow, I thought I’d record the moment! The editing of book 2 is going apace (in part thanks to said train journey) and I’ll be unveiling the new and improved blurb once all the votes are in.

But that’s quite enough from me – let’s get on to what you’ve really come here for!

This week we are lucky enough to have a guest blog from none other than Lisa Hinsley! The challenge I set Lisa was to write a fairy story as it would have happened if she herself was the heroine. With her tendencies towards the horror genre, it was never going to be light and fluffy, but I think that you’ll enjoy the following – Snow White it ain’t!!

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About the author:

Lisa C Hinsley was born in Portsmouth in 1971, and grew up in England, Scotland, and America.  Recently, her novel What Alice Sees placed as runner-up in the 2010 UKA Opening Pages Competition. Her novel Coombe’s Wood finished in the semi-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2009 and was awarded runner up in the all-genre Book of the Year Awards 2008 on Arts Council website YouWriteOn. Now listed on Amazon Kindle, Coombe’s Wood has sold over 2000 copies. 
Check out her website at http://lisahinsley.weebly.com for her blog, links, and all the latest on her various works.

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GUEST-BLOG CHALLENGE: The Fairytale…

Lisa rolled over in her bed and wished her mother dead. She couldn’t believe she’d had the nerve to try and make her eat the kidney in the pie. Yuck! Who eats such horrible stuff? Oh yes, her mum and dad. She let out a huff and pulled her pillow over her face.

How dare she? Mum should eat horrible stuff, like roasted grasshoppers or fried grubs. She saw that on a documentary on the telly. See what she thinks of eating things that make her want to gag. Lisa rubbed at her knuckles where he mother had rapped them with a fork. Persuasion, her father called it. Lisa called it abuse.

A loud bang from downstairs sounded, and Lisa threw the pillow aside and sat up, curious. There was a second bang followed by a short sharp scream – her mother! Lisa jumped out of bed and opened her door and crept to the top of the stairs. A group of small dumpy men with long scraggly beards had her parents surrounded.

“Where’s the girl?” one of them asked, and poked her mother with a short sword.

“Oi, lay off my wife. What do you think you’re doing?” Her father shoved the blade aside.

Three of the dwarfs pressed swords into her father’s side.

“Ow, that actually hurts. Those aren’t toys, you know.” He sounded scared, and Lisa tried to see a little better what was going on. Who were the dwarfs, and where on earth had they come from?

“Where’s the girl? Your daughter?” the one she thought was the leader asked. He had a funny accent.

“What daughter?” her father answered. “We don’t have a daughter.”

“I don’t think I believe you…” the dwarf thought for a moment, then said, “Take them through. They’ll tell us where she is eventually.”

Her parents were shoved towards the coat cupboard. At the last moment, her mother glanced up to the stairs at Lisa. It was enough. Two of the dwarfs came back into the house and closed the cupboard door. There was a gleam in their eyes as they climbed the stairs. Lisa jumped up and ran for her bedroom, but they were faster. Next thing she knew, as she grabbed desperately at the handle, something hit her on the back of the head.

Everything went black.

Lisa opened her eyes to find herself in a large sunny room. All around her were other children, laughing and playing.

“Urgh…” Lisa touched the back of her head where the dwarfs had hit her.

“Oh, hello.” A blonde girl noticed her moving, and came over. “You’re new, aren’t you.” She said it as a statement. “Don’t be scared. You’ve come to… child heaven.” She grinned widely. “But you’re not dead,” she added quickly.

“Where am I, then?” Lisa sat up. She was on some sort of fancy day bed, covered in rich, red velvet.

“You’re in another world,” the girl whispered. “Oh, sorry. I’m Liz. I came here last week. I’m waiting for my family to be assigned, should be very soon now.”

“Family, what are you talking about?” Lisa was more awake now, noticing the bars on the windows, even through the thin curtains.

“None of the adults can have children. So they take children who need a family and bring them here.”

Lisa checked the room for the door. She found it – and one of those warrior dwarfs. “But I have a family,” she muttered.

Liz shrugged. “But I’m guessing they didn’t treat you very well. Are they horrible?”

Lisa didn’t answer.

“Anyway, here you’ll get parents who treat you like a living god.” She smiled. “Hungry? You can order whatever you fancy. But there’s already piles of things to choose from.”

Liz helped Lisa off the daybed, and took her to a table covered in cakes and sweets. Lisa’s tummy grumbled, she’d gone to bed without any dinner. As she munched on a cookie, she wondered about what they’d done to her parents. Would the guard know what happened to them? Maybe they were sent back.

“Um, excuse me?”

The warrior dwarf clicked his heels to attention.

“What’s happened to my mum and dad?”

The dwarf waved a hand as if her question wasn’t important. “Why would you want to know about them?”

“Because they’re my parents?” She was getting angry. Why wouldn’t anyone give her a straight answer? “I want to see them. Now!” she shouted.

The dwarf cleared his throat. “You’ll see them… tomorrow.”

She knew he was making it up. Not to worry. She’d wait. Eventually she’d find out what happened to them.

Days passed. She had a tummy ache from eating too many sweets, and a strong craving for her mother’s homemade soup. She slipped out to use the loo, and as she sat there, allowing a few tears to fall, closed up inside the toilet cubicle, she heard a noise – two of the dwarf guides.

“Oi Bert, another of the parents kicked it last night. Need you to help me drag the body up from the dungeon and toss it out in the lake. The crocodiles will make short work of that one – nothing left but skin and bones.”

Lisa poked her stomach. She’d grown noticeably rounder since she came here. Too many sweets and cakes, and not enough exercise. She missed her bike as well. A sob threatened to escape, and she clapped a hand over her mouth in case the dwarfs heard.

The other one was speaking, “…Fine, Norman, I’ll help. But then you need to help me get the next sacrifice up the mountain.” A sacrifice – what?

“Okay, that’s a deal. Do you know where I can get any more heat protection? Mine’s shot, and it’s blooming hot on top of the volcano. When the chid is squirming, you have to have the protection wrapped all the way around.”

Lisa started, her eyes wide. They were sacrificing them, the children, into a volcano – like she learned in history. She had to do something! The dwarfs left the room, and the moment she judged it to be safe, she leapt off the toilet seat and fled the room.

But back in the main chamber, where all the children lolled around on comfy sofas and beds, surrounded by toys and food, Lisa realised how close their guards stayed. There was no way she’d be able to make a grand announcement to the other kids, so she went to William and whispered in her ear, “We don’t go to new parents. They’re sacrificing us to the volcano.” She nodded her head towards the window. Beyond the bars, a plume of smoke rose from the nearby mountain.

William shook his head. “You’re wrong,” he whispered back.

“I heard two of the dwarfs talking about it, just now in the loos. They didn’t know I was there.”

“I’m not so sure…” No doubt he was thinking about his mystical future parents.

“Then stay. My parents are in the dungeon, just as yours probably are. To be honest, I don’t care what you do. Just pass the message along. Goodbye.”

Lisa didn’t wait for acknowledgement. She made her way to the edge of the room, and waited for her chance to escape. It didn’t take long. Maybe William believed her. Maybe he simply wanted to give her a chance with what she believed. Either way, he’d climbed up on top of a table laden with creamy cakes, and toppled everything over. There was an almighty crash and a yelp from William, and the guard who usually stayed by the door ran over. This was her chance. She opened the door, wished William good luck, and slipped out of the room.

She stood out so badly. No other children were wondering about, so she ducked behind a statue and the tapestry behind that was hung from the wall and tried to figure out what to do. She had to look like one of them. A dwarf would make the most sense, as she was about the same height. Her mind made up, Lisa crept out from behind the tapestry, and searched for a weapon. She didn’t have to go far. The walls were adorned with all manner of weaponry. She grabbed what looked to be an ancient club, ripped it off the frame it was attached to and hid back behind the tapestry. Making sure she had a view of the hall, she waited for a solitary dwarf.

Many came in twos and threes, and she had to stifle a yawn as she waited. But then one rounded the corner. Lisa made sure no others came around the end of the corridor and jumped out, first startling the dwarf, them popped him on the head with the club. He rubbed his head, a curious frown on his face.

“Go down,” she muttered and cracked the club over his head a second time. This was enough, and the dwarf toppled over. Quickly, before anyone else came, she stripped the dwarf and dressed in his clothing. Rubbing her hands on the floor, she wiped the dirt she’d picked up on her chin. It was the closet she’d get to a beard. Hopefully they weren’t born with beards, and she’d be dismissed as a young one. Finally, she pulled his cat on, wrinkling her nose at the stinky smell, and dropped the tapestry over him. Hopefully she’d have enough time before he woke up or was discovered.

Now disguised, Lisa walked around searching for stairs going down. She half ran, half walked, trying every door she found. Some were locked, and she fretted, what if the one she wanted was locked, and she’d already gone past it? But as she took a left into  a new passage, she spotted a rounded door, different to all the others. Her heart quickened. It had to be that one, she knew it!

Lisa ran down the hall and tried the door, it opened to reveal stone stairs descending down into darkness. Bingo! She thought and quietly closed the door behind her.

Oh no. Lisa tried not to start crying. The smell down here was overpowering – poo, pee and death, all mixed up together. The first thing she saw was the prison cells. Gaols, she supposed they’d actually be called. They were small, with iron bars on three walls, a long row of them on each side with a corridor running down the middle. Someone had thrown straw down, and the adults had gathered this up as a makeshift bed. All of the cells were full, and all of the adults were staving. A small noise escaped her, and suddenly dozens of pairs of eyes turned her way. Halfway down, she recognised her parents, but they were different. While she’d been upstairs getting fat on sweets and cakes, they’d been starving to death.

“Mum, dad, it’s me,” she whispered, and stuck her fingers between the bars.

“Lisa?” her father replied, his voice weak. “Is it really you?”

Lisa nodded as she tried to hold back the tears. They both looked so sick. In the cell next to them, where the occupant probably hadn’t moved in a fair few days, a grub crawled slowly over. Her father grabbed it as soon as it was close enough.

“Darling, I have some food for you.”

Her mother obediently opened her mouth, and he put the grub, still wiggling, into her mouth. Lisa tried not to gag as her mother chewed and swallowed. “Thank you dear,” she said, he voice so weak it was almost mute.

“Where’s the key, I’ve got to get you out.”

“They keep it down the end. Be careful, there’s always one of those dwarfs guarding them,” he said, his eye on another grub.

Lisa didn’t want to see her mother eat a second maggot, and took off down the end of the cells. As she rounded the corner, she stopped dead. The key was hung from a hook above a sleeping dwarf. He appeared to be in a deep sleep, muttering and twitching as some dream played out. She thought of her parents, the volcano, and home. Her mind set, she tip toed forwards.

“What do you think you’re doing?” A hand lashed out and grabbed her by the wrist.

She cleared her throat in and in her best deep voice said, “I’m helping Bert get the bodies out to the lake. Need to open the cell.” Her heart beat so hard, she wondered if he’d hear it, if that’s what would give her away.

“Lazy git. Should be doing it himself.” He squinted at her. “You new, haven’t seen you about.”

“Umm…” she thought for a moment, had to come up with something reasonable. She recalled the conversation in the bathroom and said, “I’m Norman’s nephew. New to the job.”

“Ah, fair enough. Well if you’re here, I’m off of a break.”

With that, he released her wrist, stood up and stretched. Before she could say another word, he’d gone.

Lisa reached up a second time, unhooked the key and ran back into the main room. Moments later, her parents were free. The three hugged of a second, but only for a second, they were still in so much danger!

“What do we do now?” Lisa asked. “How do we get home?”

“Well first, we do this.” Her father took the key from her and handed it to the couple in the next cell. “Free yourselves, and hand it along,” he said, then grabbed Lisa and her mother by the hand. “I know where we came in. That’s our best chance of getting home.”

Her dad certainly seemed to know where he was going. He led them out of the dungeon, up a corridor and down another. Finally he stopped in front of an ornately carved wooden door. “I’ve been dreaming of escape, of this door, of going home.” He stoked Lisa’s cheek, and then her mother’s. Come on.”

He opened the door to reveal a cupboard. The three glanced at each other, this was the right place – the portal.

“This has to be right, yeah?” Lisa asked.

“Has to be. Looks right.” Her father scratched at his beard.

“Will it take us home?” her mother asked.

“Could take us anywhere.”

“Dad,” Lisa tugged on her father’s sleeve. “Anywhere is better than here.”

With that, the three of them squeezed into the small space. After a quickly mumbled prayer, her father closed the door.

“Do you think that’s long enough?” her mother asked.

“I’ve no idea.”

“What did they do when they took you over?” Lisa asked.

“Closed it and reopened it, and voila, we were somewhere else. What about you?”

“I don’t know. They knocked me out.”

Her parents exchanged a sad look.

“I got a bump on my head, you two were starved, priorities!” she said, just as her mother usually said.

“Open it,” her mother said.

“Go on, Dad.”

“Here goes nothing.” Her father squeezed his eyes shut and opened the door.

“Oh my God, we’re home!”

“Don’t swear, Lisa,” her mother said, but she had a big grin on her face.

“Go open the cupboards,” her father told Lisa.

“Which ones?” she asked.

“All of them.”

Lisa ran around the bedrooms, opening all the doors, wedging them in place, and found her mum and dad in the kitchen. Everything was open. Even the kitchen cabinets.

Suddenly, Lisa breaks down in tears. “I’m sorry mummy. I wished you dead, and that you had to eat grubs because you made me eat kidney.”

“Oh sweety, it wasn’t your fault,” her mother said and cuddled her close. But not close enough to hide the look she gave her father. An accusatory glance, a glance full of blame.

“How about I make a promise,” her mother said. “I won’t make you eat any more kidney.”

“Okay Mum.” Lisa made her own promise at the same time: that she would never, ever wish her mother dead.

Unless she made her eat something else yucky. Then Lisa might just close a door. Or two…

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So there you have it – don’t cross Lisa unless you have a penchant for crawly foodstuffs…..

Thanks to Lisa for her fairytale, and to you lovely people for dropping by! Next week’s guest blogger is still tbc but in the weeks ahead we can look forward to something from the pen of MTMaguire, author of ‘Few Are Chosen’ and assorted others from the worlds of poetry, prose and theatre. Cool, huh? – hope you’re enjoying these blogs as much as I am!

In the meantime, have a great week – and do drop by next week for our next guest spot!

Take care, peeps!

JAC

Morning all:

For this week’s blog we are lucky enough to have been in touch with the multi-talented Lexi Revellian.  Her books are both residing in my Kindle and having read and enjoyed both I can  heartily recommend them. They are not easy to categorise but appeal to most, with their mixture of humour, action, believeable characters and (in Remix) some really kick-ass rocking horses!! If you’ve read them, you’re probably already looking forward to the rest of this post; if you haven’t read them, you should – you’re in for a treat.

On which note, I shall leave you with the details of Lexi’s books, and hand you over to her for the rest of the post.

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Title: Remix

Genre &  format: Mystery/Romance e-book and paperback

One-sentence blurb: A chance encounter with an attractive stranger, and Caz Tallis is drawn into a search for the truth about a rock star’s murder from three years ago…

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Title:  Replica

cover for Replica by Lexi Revellian

Genre & format: Thriller/Romance in e-book (paperback coming soon)

One-sentence blurb:  Beth Chandler is replicated in a flawed experiment; Beth Two tries to survive on the run, while the original Beth, unaware of what has happened, becomes involved with the spec op hunting her replica.

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Lexi Revellian

One-sentence biog:  Lexi is a jeweller/silversmith in London, and has written four books, two of them available to buy.

Website

Blog

Twitter: @LexiRevellian

Facebook

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Writing Replica

January 2010 my bike slipped on an icy speed cushion, and I hit the kerb and broke my shoulder. That accident changed my life for a while. Unable to cycle or drive, I walked between home and work, brooding. It was bitterly cold, and I wondered what it would be like to walk those dark and icy streets with nowhere to go, particularly if people were chasing you for some reason; how someone would react to suddenly losing her place in the world, how she would survive. I’d often thought, as a single mother running a small business, it would be handy if there were two of me. These ideas merged, and I started notes for Replica; biographies for the characters, snippets of dialogue, scenes, ideas, and photographs of locations. I researched the Royal Marines – later cut from the book – and the Security Service, also known as MI5, on the internet. The internet is a godsend to writers. I’m particularly fond of Google Street View, a way of visiting places without leaving my desk. (On the subject of research, I’m lucky that my daughter is a Jitsu blue belt and can help me with fights, and one of my friends is a doctor.) It’s interesting to look over these notes now, and see how much I didn’t use.

Once I knew the start and the finish and some of the characters, I started writing. Replica’s plot is one that could go many ways. The main male character, Nick Cavanagh, wasn’t in my original plans. The man Beth falls for was to have been much nicer, a disabled Marine, one of the Fubars seconded to the government research institute where she works. But he got elbowed aside by Nick (typical of him, I may say) who began by needling his boss in a briefing, and then got more and more important in the story until he became a main POV character. I also changed the end; I realized the ending I’d been heading towards was too obvious and anticlimactic.

The toughest thing about writing Replica was caused by my decision to write alternating chapters from the point of view of replica Beth in first person, while the other chapters are in third and varying POVs. I did this so the reader would never be in any doubt which Beth he/she was reading about, and it works, but every time I got on a roll I’d have to switch POVs with a crash of gears. It wasn’t an option to write all Beth Two’s chapters in one go, either, because I didn’t know what was going to happen.

My method is to think hard about a scene or chapter (the bath, driving or walking is good for this) then write it. If I get stuck, with no idea what to put next, I find bullet points have a miraculous ability to order my thoughts. I list what could happen, what I want to happen, what frame of mind the characters are in and what they want at this point. I like bullet points.

Replica’s setting is London. I prefer to use real places, so if anyone wants to do a Beth tour of central London, it’s possible. The derelict flat she lives in is real; I trespassed there while walking to work. Slightly unnerving, as it was vandalized and inhabited by a couple of squatters. I heard a cat meowing through a locked door as Beth Two does. The flats have since been bought, finished and sold. In my mind’s eye, I have a very clear image even of places I’ve made up.

About self-publishing

I think we are incredibly lucky that, just as mainstream publishing closes its doors to almost all new writers, we have this incredible opportunity with e-publishing on Amazon for the Kindle. Anyone can offer a book for sale, and discover whether people want to read it. There are no setting up charges. I don’t think it’s a problem that some badly-written books are being published this way, as they will sink out of sight. It’s more of a problem to get readers to notice a good book…

I’ve done all the usual things to promote my books, given that I don’t have a great deal of time to spare. It’s not possible to say which work and which don’t – possibly it’s all cumulative. I have a blog and a website, I tweet and struggle to understand my Facebook page, and I go on sites like KindleBoards, Amazon forums and KUF where each of my books has been chosen as Book of the Month. Word of mouth is the best way to sell a book, no question. I use Google Alerts to try to keep track, but that doesn’t tell you everything. Publishing has so many ups and downs, it’s a mistake to take the whole thing too seriously. If in doubt, write another book.

For both my books, I’ve done everything; editing, proofreading, formatting and designing the covers for e-books and paperback (I’m working on Replica’s paperback now). Most of this I’ve enjoyed, though it’s been a steep learning curve. My covers are getting better as I get to grips with Adobe Photoshop 7.0 – its potential is vast, its instructions incomprehensible, and I love it when it’s not driving me nuts. I’m really quite hot at lettering these days.

I’m fortunate in that I have a background in design, and all jewellers are nitpicky and precise by nature and training. I love being in control of artwork, blurb and pricing, and having access to all the detailed sales information Amazon provides. I would strongly recommend going it alone rather than publishing with a small e-publisher. A small e-publisher may seem the easy option, but you lose the main advantages of self-publishing without reaping any reward in the form of publicity. There is plenty of help and advice on the internet from people who have successfully self-published, and most indies are happy to share.

Since August 2010 I’ve sold 27,000 e-books, something I’d have found unbelievable a year ago. You need luck in any form of publishing, and I’ve been lucky. It’s fantastic to think of so many people buying, reading, and enjoying stories I’ve written. That thought always brings a smile to my face.

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So there you have it, people! Thanks to Lexi for her blogpost and thoughts on publishing – and what about the rest of you. Do you agree or disagree? Are you a firm believer in small presses for epublishing or do you have other experiences to share with us? Please comment below and let us know if you do. If you want to know more about Lexi, her books, her silvercraft (is that a word?) and see the fabulous pictures of her work, do check out her website.

Lastly, if you’re about before 10th June, check the previous post on this blog for a massive multi-book giveaway on Misty’s blog Unwritten; and with that I’ll leave you. Next week’s post is still tbc but rumour has it that author Lisa Hinsley might have something interesting to put our way, so watch this space!

In the interim, have a great weekend – and see you same time next week…

JAC

Hi all:

First things first: I’m delighted to tell you that this week’s guest blogger is none other than Lexi Revellian, silversmith of no small artistry, and author of ‘Remix‘ and ‘Replica‘ which are two of my best indie finds to date.  Come back over the weekend to read what she has to say about writing and ‘Replica’….cool, huh? Watch this space!

Second – if you haven’t read ‘On Dark Shores: The Lady’ and would like to, it’s being featured as part of a giveaway at Misty Baker’s blog ‘Unwritten’ so if you go and comment there, you can claim a copy of this or a  variety of other books free, gratis, and generally for the having! Don’t say I never give you anything….

Lastly: I’ve had another very pleasing review, this time from Craig at CS Fantasy Reviews so do go and have a look (and if you agree or disagree, why not leave him a comment and have the discussion?)

Here’s an excerpt from it (the most flattering bit, obv!):

“Clement’s greatest strength as a writer is her characterization. It is amazing how well she can breathe life into a character, revealing their every nuance in a minimal amount of words. The frequent point of view changes were cleverly used as well to create an even pacing throughout. The world building in this novel was also done well and believable through an almost minimalist approach.”

and he scored it 8/10, which I’m pretty pleased about; so that’s started my Thursday rather nicely. Best be getting on with my editing then…. Hope you lot are all having a good week – and do drop by again over the weekend to see Lexi’s post!

Catch you later;

JAC