Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Hump Day Blog Hop

As Ernest Hemingway said: 'There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.'
...and then after you finish writing the first 'dirty' draft, rewriting several or ten further drafts, editing, proofreading, editing, checking again, editing a bit more, you have to promote your book.

We do have Facebook, Twitter and of course, blogs, which are great for a writer who wants to showcase their book, but it is difficult to find ways to let people know your book is out there without constantly feeling like you're saying, 'buy my book', or showing off in some way. As I said in my previous Hump Day Blog post, writers are incredibly supportive and I've met, both online and physically, many new writers and all of them have been lovely. I'm a member of quite a few writers' groups, especially on Facebook, but being an essentially shy person, albeit a noisy one in real life, I find putting myself out there more difficult than any aspect of writing the actual book.

Someone told me at my first conference about seven years ago that if I wanted to write and for people to notice my book, I needed to move my comfort zone from somewhere within me to being 'out there', and that I had to stop being so shy when talking about my book. I have learnt to do that a bit, but it isn't something that comes naturally to me.

So, can you tell me how do you feel about promoting your book/s and how do you go about it?


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Barnard versus The Bard - two alternative versions of a classic tale

Welcome to author, Sue Barnard, who's my guest on the blog today. Over to you, Sue...

Perhaps that headline is slightly misleading.  Or, at least, the “versus” part of it is.  When I first set about writing The Ghostly Father, it was never my intention to set up in direct competition with the great Mr Shakespeare.  In fact, at the time, it was never even my intention that the book would ever be read by anyone other than myself, and perhaps my nearest and dearest if they were really interested.  I was, in essence, writing the book which I’ve always wanted to read: a version of Romeo & Juliet in which the eponymous star-cross’d lovers don’t die.

Ever since I first saw Franco Zeffirelli’s beautiful 1968 film of Romeo & Juliet, I’ve been haunted by the question: This is the world’s greatest love story – so why does it have to end so badly?  A series of individual and seemingly unrelated events all combine to add up to a catastrophic outcome.  Each of those single events might, in isolation, have been manageable – but the whole was most definitely far, far greater than the sum of its parts.

For years – decades, even – I wondered: what if just one of those contributory events had been different?  How might that have affected what ultimately happened?  This point was made very forcefully in Baz Lurhmann’s 1996 film version of the story – and also, much more recently, in Carlo Carlei’s 2013 film adaptation.  In both cases, the tragedy is given a further ingenious and heartrending twist.  In the suicide scene, Juliet wakes from her trance just as Romeo takes the poison, but she’s too late to prevent him from swallowing it. 
So why, I asked myself, shouldn’t there be another version of the story – one where things work out more succesfully?  And the answer came straight back: Why not indeed?  And if that version of the story doesn’t already exist, then go ahead and write it.
Even then, it took a while for the project to get off the ground.  I’d dabbled with Creative Writing in the past, and had taken a few courses on the subject, but I’d never attempted to write anything longer than poems, or short stories, or the occasional stroppy letter to The Times.  The thought of tackling a full-length novel, even one on a subject about which I felt so strongly, was a daunting prospect.  When I did eventually power up the laptop and start writing, I was writing the book mainly for myself, because it was the outcome which I’d always wanted.  But when I’d finished the first draft (which took about six months), I showed it to a couple of close friends.  One said “I know what I like, and I like this.”  The other said “You really ought to take this further.  It could even be a best-seller.”

Even so, despite this vote of confidence, it was another year or two (during which time the manuscript was revised several times) before I plucked up the courage to submit it to Crooked Cat Publishing, an independent publisher whom I’d found on Facebook, and for whom I’d recently started doing editing work.  I wasn’t very hopeful, so when I received the email from them telling me they wanted to publish it, I had to print it out and re-read it four times before I was able to convince myself that I hadn’t imagined the whole thing.

The book’s title, The Ghostly Father, is based on a quotation from the play (it’s how Romeo addresses the character of Friar Lawrence), and the story (which is a sort of part-prequel, part-sequel to the original tale) is told from the Friar’s point of view.  I’ve often wondered why, in the play, he behaved as he did – and by giving him what I hope is an interesting and thought-provoking backstory, I’ve tried to offer some possible answers.  Plus, of course, I wanted to reduce the overall body-count, and give the lovers themselves a rather less tragic ending.  And, judging by the number of people who have now bought and enjoyed the book (yes, it did become an Amazon best-seller on pre-order figures alone!), it sounds as though I’m not by any means the only person who secretly thinks that, at long last, the star-cross’d lovers deserve a bit of a break.

The Ghostly Father
Romeo & Juliet - was this what really happened? When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome... A favourite classic story with a major new twist.

About the Author:
Sue Barnard was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase "non-working mother" would be banned from the English language.
Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013. She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she'd write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4's fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as "professionally weird." The label has stuck.
Sue joined the editorial team Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine's Day 2014.  Her second novel, a romantic mystery entitled Nice Girls Don’t, is due for release in July 2014.
You can find Sue on Facebook, Twitter (@SusanB2011), or follow her blog here.

Links: Facebook Events page -
Amazon UK
Here's an excerpt:
The friary clock struck the hour of four.
“May it please Heaven to smile upon this happy union.”
“Amen to that, Father!”
Romeo was pacing around my cell in great agitation.
“But just to be able to call her my wife is sufficient.”
I shuddered. Had I been too hasty in agreeing to perform this marriage?
He loves too strongly, and too soon, I thought. Could he fall out of love just as swiftly and as violently? Heaven forfend…
“Son, even the sweetest things can lose their appeal if taken to excess.”
I gestured towards the half-filled pots of honey on the table.
“So do not wear out your love too quickly. It will last longer, and be stronger, if you love in moderation.”
There came a faint tapping at the door. Romeo froze.
“Come in!” I called.
The door opened and Giulietta entered.
As she bade me good afternoon, Romeo crossed the room in two strides, clasped her tightly in his arms and kissed her passionately – a kiss which she returned with equal fervour. If I had previously harboured any doubts about the strength of their feelings for each other, now I saw them together these doubts were utterly dispelled. Each totally absorbed in the other, it was as though they had already forgotten that I was even there.
I coughed gently to attract their attention, and beckoned them towards the improvised altar. As one they knelt down before it, their faces radiant, their fingers still interlaced.
I opened my breviary:
Ego conjugo vos in matrimonium, in nomine Patris, Filii et Spiritus Sancti…”
Their vows exchanged, and one of Giulietta’s own rings blessed and employed as a wedding ring, the newly-made husband and wife left my cell and reluctantly went their separate ways until they would meet again at nightfall. I watched them go, and murmured a silent prayer for their happiness.
Had I but known what was to befall them ere that very same day was over, I would have said many, many more…


Monday, 14 July 2014

Julie Ryan Pays A Visit

Today, I'm delighted to welcome Julie Ryan to my book blog. Julie's first Greek Island Mystery - Jenna's Journey - was published last year, and now her second mystery - Sophia's Secret - has been launched.

Hi Julie, please can you describe your book in twenty words.
It’s a story of love, hatred, jealousy and revenge told through three generations of a Greek family

This is your second book in the Greek Island Mystery series.  How did the writing process for Sophia’s Secret differ from that of your first book, ‘Jennas’s Journey’?
I learnt a lot about the writing process from my first novel. ‘Jenna’s Journey’ took me ages to write as I must have rewritten it about five times when I discovered problems with the timeline. I approached ‘Sophia’s Secret’ in a more systematic way. I still had to make changes but they weren’t nearly as painful! I still can’t plot out a novel and stick to it but I’m getting better.

I love discovering secrets and the source behind a mystery and so look forward to reading Sophia’s Secret very much, do you have a favourite character from this book, and if so, who would it be? 
I really felt empathy with Sophia from the minute she appeared in my head. I think there’s a lot of my grandmother in her. She is such a strong woman and has suffered so much. I really wanted her to find some happiness and her journey towards it really resonated with me.

I love visiting new places especially through settings in a novel, what is it about Greece that made you want to set your books there?

I think I just have an affinity with Greece- ever since I lived there in the 1980s. I love the landscape and even though I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some fantastic places around the world, my heart keeps coming back to Greece. I’m not sure if it’s the sunshine, the whitewashed houses, the food or the people that draw me back but a little bit of my heart is left behind each time I visit.

What books/authors have influenced your writing?

I’m a very eclectic reader so perhaps that’s why my books are a combination of romance, mystery, suspense and crime.  John Fowles is one of my all-time great writers and ‘The Magus’ is simply a masterpiece. Other writers that have influenced me are Anne Zouroudi, Sara Alexi and Jeffrey Siger who all write about Greece.

Do you believe in writer’s block, and if you’ve ever suffered from it, how did you deal with it?

I can only write when the feeling takes me so I never sit in front of a blank page. If the words don’t come then I go and do something else. Of course, inspiration usually strikes when I least expect it. On a car journey I recently got the urge to start writing the next book in the series and now have about 1500 words on scraps of paper and old envelopes. One trick I have learned is never to totally finish a chapter when I log off. That way, when I come back to it, I’m not starting from scratch.

What do you think is the most important thing you’ve learnt as an indie author that you would pass on to someone considering publishing their own book?
I’ve learned so much in the last year, it’s hard to know where to begin. If you are self-published then I think you have to believe in yourself and never give up, as you don’t have the support of a publisher behind you. You also need to make sure your book is as error-free as possible if you want to gain the respect of readers. Fortunately, I don’t think the dichotomy between Published and Indie is as wide as it used to be. There are some fantastic books out there and hopefully quality will win out regardless of how they’re published. You just need to stick at it and be patient.

Thanks so much for inviting me Georgina. (Julie's first book, 'Jenna's Journey' will be on FREE promo during the tour, from Monday 14th July to Friday 18th incl.)

Author links
Twitter - @julieryan18

Book Links:
Sophia's Secret: Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Jenna's Journey: Amazon.co.uk

 Author Biography:
Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and a dippy cat with half a tail.  She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance!

‘Jenna’s Journey’, her d├ębut novel set in Greece, a country to which she has a strong attachment, was published in 2013. The second novel in the Greek Island Mystery series,‘Sophia’s Secret,’ is due to be published in the summer of 2014.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Perfect Coastal Location For An Exciting Romance

Ces Creatively has popped over to tell me about her new fast-paced paranormal romance, Reach For Your Light.
Soft fine golden sand stretches for miles as the warm turquoise waves lap the shore between Sandbanks and Bournemouth in Dorset.

Jez and Emma live in a stunning apartment that boasts a sandy decked garden with direct access onto the beach. On the other side of the property is Poole Harbour. 

With awe inspiring views at any time of day, Poole Harbour is one of the largest natural harbours in the world. It’s clear shallow water gently clings to the sand creating a gleaming lustre as it’s kissed by the sun.

Dusk is Emma’s favourite time to sit hand in hand with her man, watching the boat masts gently sway as they rock back and forth silhouetted by the glorious red orange orb that lays it’s head behind the magnificent stature of Brownsea Island.

After an evening of drinks and laughter watching the magnificent beach fireworks display in the evening, Jez and Em make out in the moonlight at the side of their favourite beach hut, listening to the rythem of the ocean as they are swept up in passion one hot summer night. 

“As soon as you start reading Reach For Your Light You’ll Be Addicted. It’s a fast paced power house of a book that will stay with you long after you’ve read it. Sexy characters, amazing locations and a story that draws you in. The perfect summer read!”
Emma Williams is searching for a new direction. Leaving behind a dead end career and harrowing relationship in London, she makes a fresh start in Bournemouth bonding immediately with flat mate Denzil and enjoying coastal life. 

Falling in love with delicious Jeremy White she soon discovers that her new life is not as uncomplicated as she’d hoped. It may look like she has the perfect beach apartment and gorgeous man of her dreams but when visions of a mysterious stranger become reality and manipulating exes are out to cause trouble in paradise, Em just wants to find the truth in a world of deceit. 

Reach For Your Light will take you on a fast-paced roller coaster of hot sex, mind games and supernatural visions that will leave you hungry for more.

Ces Creatively is an inspiring mum of three from Poole who loves to spend time at Poole Harbour, Sandbanks Dorset. Juggling being a mum with running graphic design business www.biz-brand-buzz.co.uk, popular website with a book blog www.supportivebusinessmums.co.uk and hand made gifts business www.prettyinspiring.co.uk she miraculously also finds time to write www.the-light-direction.co.uk novel series which she has dedicated to her son in heaven. A tireless champion of small businesses and other authors, Ces has won several awards for supportive innovation and dedicates time every week to promoting others online. In a unique twist, her debut paranormal romance novel The Light Direction - Reach For Your Light features real small businesses and talented creatives.

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