Sunday, 27 July 2014

Laughing my socks off

I'm not letting my husband read The Times again; it gives him ideas. Yesterday started off as normal, when he turned to the culture pages, looked at the Sunday Times best sellers lists, stabbed a finger at the fiction lists and quipped, 'Just checking out the competition.'

But yesterday he got a bit excited. 'Look, look! You could enter this. £30,000 first prize.' I reckon his head has been turned by the idea of all that cash, because what he was referring to was the 2015 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.

That's the equivalent of me entering the Tour de France based on a quick ride round the block on my nephew's chopper - with stabilisers still on.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, though...



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Batteries not required.

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device, or BOOK for short.
BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on.
It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it. Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere, even sitting in an armchair by the fire, yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.
Here's how it works:
BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs.
BOOKs with more information simply use more pages. Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet.
BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.
BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish.
Many BOOKs come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.
An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session, even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOKmarks can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once.
You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with optional programming tools, Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Styli (PENCILS).
Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave.
BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking to invest. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Little boxes

     I don't know how other people feel about being type-cast, but although I don't like it done to me, I often do it to other people.
     I'm talking authors, here. I like my favourite authors to stick to their genre, or rather the genre I am familiar with them writing in. For instance, take Charlaine Harris - I expect her to write paranormal, because the first books of her's I encountered were the Sookie Stackhouse series. I read her Lily Bard series next, and had to admit that I was sorely disappointed in the first book, because I expected a paranormal read. I hasten to add that I really enjoyed the Lily Bard books, once I put my expectations to one side, and read them for what they are - mysteries
     I would also be seriously upset if I bought a Stephen King book, only to find it was a romance. See what I mean? I'm putting my favourite authors in little boxes, and woe betide them if they try to clamber out!
     But that is where I am being a hypocrite. I, too, have a genre (PNR), and I have a couple more stories in my head in this genre that I want to publish after my latest work, The Spirit Guide, has gone live, sometime this summer. But after that...? I have other novels in my head that are not paranormal at all, and maybe not even romance. I would probably call them dramas, or women's fiction.
    What are my readers going to think, and are they, too, going to demand that I get back in my box? Time will tell...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Blurb for The Spirit Guide

After a lot of scribbled notes on bits of paper, and much swearing, I've finally managed to produce a blurb for my new novel, and I'm curious to see what everyone thinks. I know it's not easy to judge when you haven't actually read the book, but does it grab your interest? Would you be inclined to read it based on this?

Seren has an unusual gift – she sees spirits, the shades of the dead.
Terrified of being accused of witchcraft, a very real possibility in twelfth century
Britain, she keeps her secret close, not even confiding in her husband.


But when she gives her heart and soul to a man who guides spirits in the world beyond the living, she risks her life for their love, especially when her father-in-law wants those spirits for himself.

Any opinions will be gratefully received!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Being Welsh

I've a number of readers and non-UK friends who are curious about Wales, and a few who have never heard of the country, so I thought I'd give out a little information.

Wales is bordered by England on the right and the Irish Sea on the left. A green and mountainous land, it is filled with wild places, myths and legends. We claim Arthur Pendragon as our own, and Merlin was undeniably Welsh (no matter what anyone else says!). We have our own language and government, and are proud of our cultural heritage. Wales is know as the land of song and dragons: there is even a dragon on our flag.


We were here long before the Romans invaded, and we survived the Saxons and the Vikings. The Normans were a bit of a problem when William the Conqueror laid claim to England, and set their sights on subduing Wales. His successor, Edward 1 (the Confessor) began building a string of castles along the Wales/English border and subsequently deep into Welsh lands. Needless to say, we weren't happy, and the deep-seated hatred of the Welsh for the English was born - actually we weren't that keen on the Anglo-Saxons before this, but the Normans exacerbated the problem

Eventually Wales came under English rule, and with the onset of the Industrial Revolution (Welsh coal was deemed the best), it seemed that our national identity would be lost forever, especially since the English overlords tried to beat it out of us. My great grandmother told stories of being beaten for speaking Welsh, which was her first language, and having to wear a wooden plaque around her neck as punishment. But our language and sense of Welshness did survive, and we now have our own government, the Senydd, and can make our own laws (to a certain extent).

The country is sparsely populated compared to England, with most people concentrated in the south along the coast, and in the South WalesValleys, where much of the coal mining took place. This is where I was born, in a typical valley town, where the houses cling in long ribbons to the sides of the mountains.



The Welsh have a definite accent, and way of speaking. For instance, ear, year and here are all pronounced the same way  - yer. We have a tendency to say 'Come by yer', meaning 'Come here', or 'Come over here.'
We say 'Now in a minute' as in, 'I'll be there, now in a minute', which means 'I'll be there soon'. Another example is, 'I'll do it, now in a minute.'

Then there is 'As been as,' which could mean 'considering', depending on the context. An example would be, 'As been as you're going up the street, can you fetch us a paper?'. Translated this is 'Considering you are going into town, could you get me a newspaper?' Yeah, I know... we certainly have a unique take on the English language, and I have to be careful not to let the way I speak slip into my work. And let's don't forget the Welsh language itself, which creeps into our English: cwtch (meaning cuddle, snuggle, or cupboard under the stairs!), twp (mad, crazy), ach-a-fi (disgusting, yucky),and there's s many more. For one thing, most people won't have a clue what I'm writing about, and for another, they think it's a mistake, or a typo. Nope - it's just the way us Welsh speak!

And one last point - don't call us English. Ever. There's nothing more likely to get a Welshman's back up (another saying - meaning to annoy, or worse) than to call him English. Our hatred of our neighbour has gone, but what we are left with is a simmering dislike of the English in general, and an absolute loathing of them when it comes to rugby. And we don't support them, at all. Take the World Cup, for instance. England had a team, Wales did not. But did we support England? Nah - we picked any other country we could to support, rather than England. Oh, and we're not that keen on the French either; we haven't forgotten the Norman invasion in 1066.

I think we had the last laugh, though. We put a Welshman on the throne of England in the form of Henry VII - grandson of Owen Tudor, who was most definitely Welsh!



Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Interview with author A.J. Locke

I am delighted to host A.J.  Locke as my featured author. She has kindly agreed to be interviewed and here’s what she has to say…

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I’m originally from Trinidad and Tobago but have been living in NYC for the past sixteen years. I’ve wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. I wrote my first book when I was fourteen and haven’t stopped since (Fun fact, I hand wrote my first four novels!). I’m a creative person at heart and over the years have picked up jewelry making, drawing, painting, sewing, and graphic design. Writing however, has been the one creative outlet I have always been consistent with.



What are reading at the present?
Well, with an almost four month old baby, finding time to read has been hard lately. I am however in the middle of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, and I just started Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton.

What have you written?
Sixteen books, one novella, a few short stories, and quite a bit of poetry.

What is the title of your latest book?
Black Widow Witch



What is it about?
Official description:
Malachi Erami can’t fall in love. After she’s caught with Knave, the witch Queen’s favorite lover, she’s cursed to savagely butcher any man she falls for. Exiled to live among humans, Malachi runs a bar that serves magic-laced drinks, but since her curse labels her high risk, she’s also closely monitored. Julian Vira is her latest babysitter, but he’s also the first man since Knave that she’s been attracted to. Good-looking and nonjudgmental of her horrible curse? Yeah, he’s hard to resist.

But when Malachi finds a body behind her bar, she knows she’s in trouble. If the Witches Control Council gets wind of it, she’ll be accused of murder and sent to her death. And when her friends start getting framed for murder, she realizes she’s not the only target. Malachi and Julian dig into the evidence to clear her name, but the closer they get to answers, the closer the curse comes to taking over. So when Malachi uncovers a plot to kill the witch Queen, she finds herself suddenly recruited into service, with the promise of having her curse lifted and a reunion with Knave as well. But if she fails, Knave will die. And she and Julian might not live long enough to see that happen.


Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?
Malachi is a witch who comes from the realm of witches, the Aeverneath, which is separate from the human world. She specializes in altering drinks with magic, which can have any manner of effect on the person drinking it. But Malachi is also suffering from a terrible cursed placed on her by the witch queen. If she develops romantic feelings for anyone, she will horrendously butcher them.

In what formats is your book available?
Mobi, pdf, and epub

Where can readers buy your books?
My books are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and All Romance Ebooks.

What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am working on the sequel to my first novel, Affairs of the Dead.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Right now I am finding sequel writing to be a challenge! I’ve done sequels before but this one is a toughie. I have so many threads I need to weave in to the story in order to do the first book justice, it’s been a bit hard getting this story out.

Do you see writing as a career?
I definitely do.

Why do you write?
Because I love it of course! My imagination is so active, I always have these ideas swirling around and I love building a story and writing something to completion.

What do you do to get book reviews?
My main route of getting book reviews is through book tours and forums on Goodreads.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Of course bad reviews are never fun to get, but it comes with the territory. I think every writer just has to remember that everyone’s taste is different and for every bad review there will hopefully be more good reviews.

How do you market your books?
I mainly utilize social media, blog tours, and Goodreads to market my books.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing, keep learning, and don’t give up. It may take a long time to achieve your goals, but you will eventually get there.

   
You can buy A.J.'s books by clicking on the links below:



Find out more about A.J.:

Blog:
http://iqurae.blogspot.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/AJ-Locke/522250584507699
Twitter:  @maqueripe

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6883907.A_J_Locke

Monday, 9 June 2014

Less time, more work

I've had a conversation with a colleague about being busy and how if you want something done, give that something to a busy person. This reminded me of an article I read some time ago. The article claimed that you would do more if you had less time.
On the surface this seems contradictory, but when I analysed it I realised just what a clever concept this is.
I applied it to myself, and found that it works. For instance, writing (it always comes back to writing doesn't it?), on weekends I do no writing at all – even though I have considerably more time in which to not do it. Other things get in the way, and the time I do have available is in quite small chunks.
But this applies to the rest of my week too: I do my writing in that small amount of time between waking up and going to work – an hour, maybe an hour and a half. I know I have to be organised in the morning if I want to put anything on paper (laptop really, but you know what I mean). Because time is so limited I set myself a goal of 1000 or so words, and usually manage this.
So why can’t I so the same at other times of the day or on the weekends? I use the excuse that there is not enough time, yet I have spare hours here and there, admittedly perhaps only solitary hours, sandwiched by the rest of what I need to do. I need to use them more wisely.
I can also cite the example of when I have a week off work, which occurs on a fairly regular basis because I work in education. I never do a quarter of what I intend to do! I fritter it away, and jobs take twice as long as they should.

So, the moral of this rather long-winded story is: set yourself less time to do something and you might find you get more done!