Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Making a book cover II

Another great video from Orbit:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Covorting with some Covers (IV): USA vs. UK/IRE

It's been a while but after recent wanderings around the blogosphere and amazon, I decided to do another comparison on book covers!

Let me know what your preferences are: US or UK/IE?

First up is Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series. Although I'm not a big fan of half nakedness (when the character isn't really like that in the book), the US cover is much more unique than the UK cover. The UK cover could be the cover for any Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series whereas the US cover is no doubt a Mercy Thompson book. I absolutely love the detail and drawing in this cover (and in further US covers, where it closely reflects the content of the novel). The artist for the US covers for both Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series is Daniel Dos Santos (and has done some fabulous pics of Firefly - FANGIRL SQUEAL)

US versus UK cover for latest Mercy Thompson book - Night Broken.

Alpha and Omega: Cry wolf - I think the UK version is much better than previous Mercy Thompson UK covers but it doesn't exactly relate to the book's content. Again, I'm blown away by how beautiful the US cover's artwork.

I think it goes without saying that the US (Daniel Dos Santos illustrated) book covers are absolutely super, especially compared to the bland (and dare I say sort of whitewashed) UK covers.

Do you agree? Which are your favourites?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Killing your darlings. . .

“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” - William Faulkner

As writers we all have those "perfect lines" that we absolutely adore - however as we start editing and rewriting - often these well-loved darlings can distract and disrupt the flow of your story.

Being able to Kill your darlings is often an essential part of being a writer.

Recently, I've come across this myself as I've been rewriting/editing my WIP Darkshines and (after a good deal of sighing) had to cut some of my most-loved darlings!

But even after cutting these lines from my text, I couldn't let them go - so I now have a "darling" file where I copy and paste these loved lines to a new home, that is, rather than killing them - I'm sending them to "a farm".

I wonder if you, lovely readers, have come across this too? Were you able to kill your darlings? Or did you, like me, send them to "the farm"?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Write what you READ, not what you know!

How often, as aspiring authors/writers, have we been told "write what you know", as if this simple piece of advice is the be all and end all of all writing knowledge. Many disagree with this statement (surprise, surprise - that would be moi) - honestly, where would we be if Stephen King followed this piece of advice and instead of writing about a young troubled pyrokinetic girl in highschool, he wrote about a struggling teacher who wished to be a writer!

So I really don't think much of this piece of advice in the literal sense, and I imagine many SF/PR writers would agree with me. Now that being said, I don't deny there is a nugget of truth in it, that is, as writers we often draw on our own experiences and of those around us in order to properly develop our characters and strengthen our writing. This is an essential part of being a writer, however I think my issue with this advice is how it can be interpreted as a "rule" and often newbies can fall into this "I must write what I know only" trap.

Connected to this, is also the common advice given to aspiring writers/authors that we should write short stories too in order to bulk up our CV for publication. As a person who bought into this line - hook line and sinker - I think the below quote struck a cord with me.

Roddy Doyle, in an interview with the Guardian, had this brilliant piece of advice:

If I want to be a writer, like you, should I start by writing short stories? Are they easier or harder?!I find short stories harder to write than novels. But that's just me. When I started writing, I wrote novels – because I loved reading novels. If you want to be a footballer, do you pick up a tennis racket? Probably not. You should start writing what you really want to write, not what you think will be easier. It's the desire to write that will keep you going, not the easier choice.

From this I believe the more accurate piece of advice for any writer is NOT "Write what you know", but
rather "write what you READ". Write the stories you want to read, in the form you love to read. So for me, I tried to write short stories so I could get some publications under my hat, but it was often such a struggle. I kept thinking, this should be easier as it's shorter than a novel and I can go back and rewrite it until it's "perfect" (I think you can see why I don't get published if I'm waiting for perfection!). So, partly due to my perfectionist-procrastinating ways, with a dash of low writing self-efficacy, I kept thinking as I wrote my short stories. . . this could be a novel. And I should have listened to myself!! *headdesk*

So I have come up with a few telltale questions that should reveal whether you should write short or not or whether you're in short story denial (as I was):

(a) Look at your book case - do you have more than two short story collections (short stories bought when in school don't count!)

(b) Have you actually read them?

(c) i. When you buy on Kindle, do you go first to the books or to the singles section?

(c) ii. When you go into a bookshop, do you go straight to the short story collections (to see if your favourite writer has released a new volumne or to pick up the latest Short magazine) or do you go straight to the fiction section? (or even better, you didn't even realise that there was a short story section!!)

(d) If asked who your favourite short story writer is - (after a five minute panic pause) you remember Raymond Carver wrote some short stories (which you have never read) and also Stephen King did too didn't he?? (ahem, although, you've only read his novels).

These are the questions to ask before you go into writing short story, because trust me, there are some  amazingly talented short story writers out there - who read, write, and truly love short stories! Like any truly talented artists, reading their work is effortless, and so we can be fooled that this form should be effortless to write - it is not - so don't think this is an "easy route".

So whether it's short story or novel, or whether you're a Science Fiction or Romance nut (or both!!), write what you read!!

For those interested in great examples of the form - check out these great magazines!


The Bohemyth

Number Eleven Magazine

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Emperor's Edge

Emperor's edge tells the story of Amaranthe Lokdon, a female enforcer in the city of stumps who (in no fault of her own) ends up on the wrong side of the law. Trying to redeem her place in history, she gathers together an unlikely team of "heroes" called the emperor's edge in order to protect the young emperor from danger and hopefully in doing so, get back on the right side of the history books.

Blah - that was a pretty dry summary for such a fun book!

EE is the first of 7 books which tells the story of how Amaranthe Lokdon and her team (of misfits and Sicarius, cause he's no misfit) try to redeem themselves and save the empire. In my opinion this book (and series) are just such fun to read (and re-read - always a good sign). Although set with a serious setting (i.e. political instability etc.), and with certain themes like morality and leadership running through the series, it manages to be a light and adventurous read which captured me from beginning to end (and then made me go and read all available books in the series in 3 days).

I believe Lindsay Buroker's great talent (which is reflected in all her books) is her character development and dialogue. The characters in her books come alive, with us rooting for them from beginning to the end. I think any other writer would be very much in danger of making Amaranthe unlikable or a Mary-Sue, but Lindsay instead makes both a strong and talented character which is also very likable that (like in the books) draws you in and wants you to be on her side. Similarly, the character of Sicarius the taciturn assassin could easily have been a paper-cut out/assassin stereotype or Gary-Stu, but through out the series (and with various eyebrow twitches) we slowly see a much richer character. In seeing these characters grow during the series, and seeing them grow closer - it adds both romance and a believably element that these two characters know each other and belong together (rather than typical UF/PR romance of insta-love which can often be too prevalent). Beyond the great characters, dialogue and funny moments, it was Sicarius and Amaranthe's growth and their relationship which made me come back again and again to these books to get that lovely warm feeling of reading a very enjoyable book!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone if you enjoy a fun light adventure series with great characters and lots of laugh-out-loud dialogue!!

It is now FREE on all major e-book websites so go on read it!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: Wounded by Lindsay Buroker

Two small disclaimers before I review "Wounded"

1. I received Wounded as a review copy but I promise this is an honest (if not a bit gushy) review.

2. I do NOT read contemporary romance. . . or well contemporary anything for that matter. When I read a book, I want someone to either be in a corset, wearing a sword, howling at the moon, flashing fangs or flying in a steam-punk dirigible.

So when I say I could not put this book down - I want you to realise how much I enjoyed this book.

"Wounded" is a contemporary romance with a dash of mystery/thriller which Lindsay Buroker does so well. Wounded tells the story of Tara, a feisty blogging expert, who ends up living in an eco village for the summer. Low and behold, the very night Tara arrives she finds a chicken's head on her doorstep. Enter Mr. Grouchy but hunky Malcolm Ashcroft who has a feud running with the leader of the eco village and is the prime suspect for poultry decapitation. Tara being an investigative or rather nosy soul lands herself in the middle of the mystery and is looking for answers.

I'm a huge fan of Lindsay Buroker's fantasy series "Emperor's Edge" (if you have not read this - SHAME on you!). I think fans of her EE series are going to find a lot in this book to like as this book also has great characters and witty dialogue that is similar to EE-universe books.

I think the sign of a great author is having a "voice" and Lindsay's "voice" which is alive in the EE series - remains here in Wounded. The witty remarks, the lovable and sarcastic characters, the great relationships that stay with you long after you're finished - it's all here.

I also think people new to Lindsay and more contemporary readers (really, you don't like assassins or vampires - what?!) will really enjoy this book as it is light and fun with great characters. I especially liked the side characters of Jasmine and Mandy - and would of liked to have seen more of them in this book. Also although it might of darkened the mood of the book - it would have been nice to delve more into Malcolm's background - but then again - the character is quite taciturn and the book is written from Tara pov. (Lindsay does great job of changing POV in EE, so I think I kind of missed this a little here).

Anyhoo - like I said previously, I'm not a contemporary reader - but this was such a fun read with loveable characters and a hunky fireman - so what was not to love! So in sum, I really enjoyed this book :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My conversion is complete. . .

In the beginning, I was like. . .

Then as a PhD student, I was like. . .

Then I discovered indie e-books that were FREE . . .

Or really cheap (Yes to Indies!!).

And I was like. . .

And that Ladies and Gents is how I am now an e-book convert!!

Although I do still read book Books now and then because . . .

Yes I am one of those people!

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