Because I Like Stream-of-Consciousness

This post has been inspired by Amy Tucker whose blog (Taste Like Crazy) may be even more demented than mine. I say may! Bugsy Queen of Demented-ness.

So, Stream-of-Consciousness*. I mentioned this months ago in my guest blog post for WattPad on Urban Fantasy Protagonists, that The Demon Girl is written in this way. I had to tame it down (a lot) since it was a YA read, and I didn’t want to baffle the young people too much. But I still get readers feeling confused when they leave their review, unable to put their finger on why it was different. Most seem pleasantly windswept and okay about it, but some get all snarly and use it as a negative. One blog review even mentioned a suspicion that I wrote the book in an opium induced haze. I took that as the highest of compliments since most of the greats were out of their ever-loving-minds and on one form of narcotic or other. I made it to That Place naturally. *haughty face*

Anyway, why, oh why, is there not more of this? S-o-C is awesome to write and read. Simply awesome. The last book I stumbled on was I, Witch by Erin Munday, who I wish I could find elsewhere online because I think she would be fascinating to virtually meet. I highly praise and recommend the book.

Yes, S-o-C can come across peculiar and odd because you’re plunging people into someone’s raw, twisted, convoluted psyche with no filters to remove the fractured and fleeting jumps we experience in everyday thought patterns, which bring us to a conclusion (most writers just write the concluding thought). But that’s what makes it so extraordinary. Get on your hands and knees, get dirty, and get in there. Suck your readers in, bash ‘em about, and make them use their own imaginations. Write the journey to the conclusion and leave them hanging. If they’re truly reading your words they will get there. Get those synapses firing. Don’t spoon feed detail and hand hold through every plot twist ... unless you’re the reincarnation of Tolkien or Jordan, of course.

Fantasy, especially YA fantasy, has become formulaic. Oh yes, people moan and blame it on love triangles, clumsy-but-lovable Mary Sue’s, and really, how many times can you read about a vampire sucking someone off before it just gets old? But maybe the reason why we’re all so bored is because the writers have lost their voice. Their individuality. We’re all too busy trying to emulate the next ‘hottest’ monster. Find your voice and stick to it, scream it, and don’t back down. When I read your funky, bubbly blog why do I then have to suffer through 200 pages of you trying to be S. Meyer or L. Kate? Where is ... You? Think about it. 

* Stream-of-Consciousness fast leaps in syntax that follows actual human thought.

The Demon Girl Giveaways, a Couple of Interviews and a Writer Workshop

(Warning! I am about to use a lot of exclamation marks!) I have been a busy, busy, bee. I blogged at the beginning of the year I would hold a few giveaways of the print edition didn't I? *big grin* And so here they are;

(x4 Hardback Copies available to Win)
Navigate to the contest page to watch a video of me rambling on and with details of how to enter. I've also posted the video here because it's funny ... my boyfriend does say I'm fidgety ... and my mum always says I don't look people in the eye when I'm talking ... who knew they'd be right! (That thumbnail is sooo grumpy, lol).

(x1 Hardback Copy available to Win)
Navigate to the Fan Page and write "Hai" on the relevant post to enter.

(x1 Hardback Copy and x1 Amazon Kindle eReader available to Win)
Simply sign up to the newsletter using the nifty box above or clicking on the linked sub title. (Note if you're already subscribed you're already entered).

(x3 Hardback Copies available to Win)
Go to fReado and sign up (unless you already are), to play their slightly addictive games and win points then bid on my book.

I’m also going to attempt to do some more giveaways on book blogs over the next couple of months, but that depends on who’s interested.

To learn a little more about me I've got two interviews that were posted today. One over at David Wisehart's Kindle Authors blog and one over at the WattPad blog.

Lastly, I'm super excited that I'm in the final stages of confirming going to have a chat with those at Writebulb, a community of writers dedicated to developing their writing skills on the 12th of March. You can read a great review of my book by here by the lovely Brigid.

You can buy the paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Or the hardback from Lulu.

Now that was a lot of information to digest, but I get so busy during the week and I don’t have time to post often, so my apologies for that.

Lastly, a huge thanks to all my readers who have left reviews for me!

Author Interview with Keary Taylor

I have another great interview with a fellow Indie Author to share with you. I reviewed this book on Goodreads a while ago, and mentioned that the concept really blew me away. So here is my interview with Keary Taylor author of Branded and Forsaken, books one and two of the Fallen Angels series;

What was the last song you rocked out to?
Not My Time by 3 Doors down.  Watch the music video, it will give you goosebumps.

They say ‘write what you know’. Are any of the traits from your characters based on the people around you, or yourself?
There are little bits of myself in every character.  I love Dr. Pepper, like Jessica.  I love to eat way too much, like Alex.  A lot of the things Alex says my husband would say.  Jessica’s father is based a lot on my own dad.  And I tend to be a name stealer.  At least part of every characters name comes from someone I know.

Could you sum up your writing style in a word then explain to us why you chose it?
I had to think about this for a while but came up with this: Selfish.  I write for me.  Some people don’t like the direction I take things but I write where I know the story is supposed to go.

How are you finding being an Indie Author? Is it mainly a positive experience or do you find yourself head-butting the wall on occasion?
BOTH, lol.  It was a really difficult journey getting to where I am now.  I went the route of trying to get an agent first and while a lot of different ones liked it, they just didn’t love it enough.  So I self-published.  It has been an AMAZING journey and I have met so many wonderful people and received so much support!

From what I’ve seen you have a flair for cover design, and the covers for Branded and Forsaken certainly snag the attention. Can you tell us why you chose these covers?
I do love graphic design, though have never had any real schooling in it.  When I decided to self-publish I always had an image in my head that the cover should show Jessica’s scars, they’re such an important part of the story.  My friend Jenni Merritt, also a writer, did the photo shoot and the scars.  When it came time for Forsaken, I wanted to stick with the back theme and found this amazing image for Cole.  It just felt right and I just had to use it!

Coal is such a sexy character. And naughty. You gave us this smoldering stud, but sneakily managed to make us dislike the overall feel of him. What was your frame of mind when you created him?
The character of Cole was actually developed before Alex even was.  He stemmed from the character of the Phantom in the Phantom of the Opera (where I got the idea for Branded).  He was just this very dark character that had so much history and passion to him.  Yet he did terrible things without a second thought.  I wanted to create a character that you were drawn to but that you knew was bad in all the right ways.

Jessica is quite a complex young lady. You brought across a real sense of lost innocence even though she never did anything wrong. Did her character just come to you, or was there a specific source of inspiration?
Like I said, I got the idea for Branded from watching The Phantom of the Opera and in my mind Jessica has always been Emmy Rossum.  Some of her character traits were drawn from that character but mostly her personality just stemmed from the situation she was in with the nightmares.  She’s been living this nightmare her entire life and yet she’s still clinging to sanity, even I was surprised at how she had managed to hang on to reality.

There were a few not so obvious twists in the book - like how one stopped being put on trial for others. Were these intentional or did they just happen when you were typing?
That was something that just happened as I went along.  I’m not a huge plotter so that situation kind of took me by surprise.  The major twist in the end though was always planned from before I even started typing the first words of Branded.

Forsaken, book two of the Fallen Angels, is out now. Did you find it difficult to live up to people’s expectations on this novel?  
I wouldn’t necessarily say it was living up to expectations, it was just the actual writing of it.  It was a really, really difficult one for me to write.  I started writing it when I was querying Branded to agents and as I kept getting rejection after rejection I got kind of depressed.  But after I self-published and started receiving such great response I knew I had to finish, not only for myself, but for those out there who wanted to find out what happened next.

The story is becoming even more complex ... what overarching themes can we expect?
That love and everything worth living for is a fight.  Never give up.

Alex is the sweetheart of this story. Are we going to see a darker side of him in the second book?
Alex goes through some major struggles in Forsaken and things will get even harder in Vindicated, the third book.  He’s not as perfect as he seems and you’ll learn a lot about his feelings toward Jessica when he found everything out in Branded.  You’ll get to know him really well, since about a third of Forsaken is told from his point of view.

Thanks Keary, and good luck with Branded!

You can read my Goodreads review of Branded here and the book is available to download from the Kindle store (US/UK). You can now pick up Forsaken (US/UK) too! If you have any questions why not contact Keary on her website or her blog, I'm sure she'd love to hear from you.

Random TDG Updates

I'm so happy I could just cry. Finally my stars in Amazon US have gone up. From a 1 star flogging *shudder, retch* to a comfortable 3.5 star hug *cartwheel, yippee*. No doubt now I've said this the star count will plummet. Sigh. Most authors see far greater sales/downloads in the US side of Amazon than in the UK but obviously I was going to be the contradiction to that rule. How large is the difference? UK: 23,600  US: 630 ... I kid you not.

People say they don't take star ratings into account (I don't when I buy books), but I can’t help but think that is not the general public opinion. Though the price of my book fluctuates from free to $2.99 on the US side the main difference has been that UK has a 4 star rating and US had a 1 star rating. Older Kindle readers over the big pond don't seem to get my writing style and have the most to say. Great. *Thin smile* Ah, totally off topic, but I got my first pay check from Amazon yesterday and I ran up to my boyfriend and screamed “In your face!” Then ran away cackling madly and let him chase me around the living room. It was all very fun. It made the whole Indie thing seem more real and plausible – strange as it sounds (the money thing not the inappropriate reaction thing). I might actually be able to make this work as a viable career option rather than an addictive hobby.

Anyhow, in Barnes & Noble I‘ve got over 1300 ratings with an average 4 stars *psycho grin* iBooks is groovy too with over 400 ratings in US and 170 in UK again 4 star average *really disturbing psycho grin*. Nearly all reviews 3 stars plus mention they want to or will read the second book, which bodes well indeed for A Demon Day. Did I mention I'd finished the first draft yet? Well, I have, and I think it may be the best thing damn I've ever written ;) Oh ... and editing sucks.

Reviews still elicit a strong reaction from me. I smile, I wail, I cry, I laugh, I bitch, I dance around ... all depending on what's been said. Wasn't that supposed to go away after a while? The comments about bad editing are also starting to slowly die out. I think a month or so ago I said by April I was hoping I could put that behind me.

Moving on, I passed 60,000 downloads of TDG in four months. I get a lot of readers commenting that the book was recommended to them which is astounding. I only recommend books I really like so I’m beaming about that. I still have no idea what my iBook stats are. Smashwords reporting says 0, but I feel this figure may not be entirely accurate, lol, but I’m giddy enough with what I've got. If all readers of TDG came and sat in The O2 Arena at one time you’d fill it up – three times over - which is a great way to put a number into perspective, lol. Considering I've been so busy with the day job and my promotion has been exactly jack, I dub my first ever book release a success. 

Author Interview with Nicole MacDonald

You guys know me – head always stuck in a story – so my latest resolution to interview fellow Indie Authors shouldn't come as much of a surprise. I stumbled upon a book that really struck a chord with me in the Kindle store. The imagination of the author had me so in awe I drummed up the courage to contact her for my first interview, and imagine my excitement when she said yes! So here's my interview with Nicole MacDonald author of The Arrival.

What was the last thing you found hysterically funny?
Despicable Me – the minions and the little girl, Agnes; 'IT'S SO FLUFFY!'

If you had to choose, read or write, which would it be?
Probably write. It used to be read but the voices in my head won't shut-up till I'm done *sigh* So my 'to be read' list is taking a lot longer than normal.

Can you reveal a bit about how you write? Is it a non-stop three-week extravaganza down in the basement with microwavable snacks and only the blink of your computer screen to keep you company? Or do you sensibly meet a set word count everyday and take healthy breaks away from the desk?
Both those options sound great *grin* and it is a bit of both. I do find it very hard to resist net surfing while I'm typing so most my typing is done on my battered old Toshiba laptop - it has no net access ;p. I often have reruns of Buffy playing in the background as I type.  At the moment I'm aiming to get the first draft for Awakening (working title) done by the end of Feb so I'm working on the 'head down' thing.

Would you consider yourself a plot or character driven writer?
Both but a strong plot is essential to me. The trilogy has some pretty major twists and turns in it and without a good plot in place I'd screw it up. That said the characters often choose their own ways of getting to those plot points.

The cover is lovely - moody and offbeat. Can you tell us a bit about how you went about designing and creating it?
A fellow blogger Keary Taylor (author of the Fallen Angels series) offered to help and we messed around with a few different styles that were great but not quite right. Keary is insanely gifted even though she refers to herself as an amateur. But she created 5-7 concepts in less than a week.  I was in complete awe! Then it occurred to me that I should go for what I love - bush or forest. Here in New Zealand we're surrounded by it so it's very important to me. Also the girls arrive in a forest and the first fight scene is in one. So I wanted an 'enchanted forest' look but dark. Then Keary sent through what is now the cover. And I love it!

Can you give us a summary on what The Arrival, book one of the Birthright Trilogy is about?
Four friends who become frustrated with the dating scene. They decide on a bit of a whim to cast a spell to find their 'soulmates' and what do you know, it works!  Just not in the way they ever envisioned. They wake in a strange forest on a strange world and suddenly have the of fight their lives on their hands. Battling against horrific creatures, discovering gifts they never knew they had and then the appearance of four hunky guys. These girls will never be the same!

So, the story follows four kick ass young women who decide they're done waiting for love to find them and set about seizing it for themselves. How did you come up with the idea?
I met my soulmate a month before I turned 19 and it was a bit of a shock. I'd been rather determined to stay single till I was at least 25 and he really threw a spanner into those plans. So one day I thought I'd have fun and re-write the story the way I wanted it. Then my kinda kooky imagination took hold of it and it zoomed off to a place totally unexpected and I ended up with the rough plot of the BirthRight Trilogy.

The romance in the book is relatable and endearing despite the out-of-this-world situations. Did you base any interactions on personal experience?
Yes. It is very much based on what it felt like as a determinedly independent young woman meeting her soulmate. The struggle between the two leads is based on what it felt like to me.  Not easy, but totally worth it.

Can you give us a feel for the themes we can expect in book two, Awaken?
An even more intense ride than The Arrival, actually it makes book one look easy in comparison. Book two is darker and far more 'adult' as the girls begin to realise their lives have been forever altered. More incredible creatures, more action scenes and an even bigger climax that will lead into the last book of the trilogy.

I hear there will be sex in the next book ... how is that coming along? ;)
Fine…. *blush* I'm working on it.... It does feel rather weird to write intimate scenes about characters that seem like friends (I SO don't want to know what they're doing behind that door!!) but I'll get over it *grin*.

Thank you for sharing Nicole, loving your style.

The Arrival is out now to download from the Kindle Store (US/UK). You can read my review of the book here at Goodreads. If you want to know more you can contact Nicole via her BirthRight Trilogy website or her blog Damsel in a Dirty Dress (loving that name as much as I am?).