Thursday, 19 December 2013

Wanna see me dancing with my dog? Sure ... no worries. (Merry Christmas!)

Just signing off for the year ... I will be back on Monday January 6. I hope you all have an fabulous Christmas and New Year! I'm sure you'll see me around Facebook and Twitter, so I won't have totally disappeared.

If you've dropped by for some leisurely reading, why not browse this year's The Artist Unleashed posts from various writers and artists who chose to unleash parts of their lives as artists on this blog.

Or maybe you'd like to revisit a few of the most popular posts of the last seven days, here, here, and here.

And because I'm not afraid of making a fool of myself, I'll sign off with a video of me doing some crazy (horrible) dancing in my dressing gown with my dog, Holly, recorded especially for youa reminder to embrace the spirit of Christmas! (Because Joan Jett is the epitome of Christmas, don't you think? ;-) And by spirit, I don't mean the intangible kind.)

video

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Artist Unleashed: COMPELLED TO SELF-PUBLISH FOR CHRISTMAS, by Debbie Young

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday, 16 December 2013

New York and ... stuff.

As most of you know I've been away. Hence my absence from this blog. But now I'm back!

I spent 10 days in New York on my own, took a day trip to New Haven, Connecticut, for a TV interview on CT Style (click here to watch!), and on my way home I headed to Atlanta for a night to meet a few blogging buddies. There is SO much to tell you and show you, I really don't know if I should bore you with the details, but maybe ... maybe I can squeeze in a few visual highlights:

Note: Some of the photos aren't that great, because when you're on your own, and have to ask passers by to take shots of you, you can't really get fussy now, can you? Haha. I loved travelling on my own, but this photo issue was definitely a problem.

View from the Empire State Building




Times Square
Um ... do I really need to tell you what this is?
Central Park
Outside the Natural History Museum I saw them filming the new TV series, Power, created by 50 Cent. That's Omari Hardwick, and Lela Loren in the photo. I also got a photo of the back of 50 Cent's head. Haha! :-)
Brooklyn Bridge
Um ... sorry, didn't you know? Johnny is made of wax. :-)
Ice-skating at the Rockefeller Center
Yup. This is SO COOL.
Meet up with New York literary agent, Katharine Sands, who is teaching with me at the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek isle of Ithaca next year.
I finally met the fabulous Matthew MacNish and Nicole Ducleroir!

... and Zoe C. Courtman!


... and JM Diaz and Schwa Michaels (right)!
... and Jadie Jones! Stupid me forgot to get a photo ... :-(

Without further ado, I shall leave you with a poem I wrote while I was away.
Have a great week, all!

Statue of Liberty

A couple stand at the railing.
She says: hey, it's pretty neat.
He says: Yeah. Let's go back. I need coffee.
A seagull squawks.
A helicopter propels
me to look up
at her grand stature.
A zero degree breeze
chills a tear
as it slides from the corner
of my eye to my temple.
Who needs coffee
in the presence
of so much freedom?
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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Artist Unleashed: RECOGNIZING AND SURVIVING THE VALLEY OF DESPAIR AS A WRITER, by Sarah Madison

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Artist Unleashed: FROM STUDENT TO TEACHER: THE ETERNAL PROCESS OF LEARNING, by Christine Frost

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Artist Unleashed: POETRY FOR CHRISTMAS, by Orna Ross

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Artist Unleashed: WRITE WHAT YOU REALLY, REALLY WANT, by Alison Morton

When I started exploring the novel writing world, I was given three pieces of advice: write what you want; write what you know; write what sells. 

I’d already drafted INCEPTIO, the first of my Roma Nova stories – I’d written what I wanted to write. Bubbling away in my head for fifteen to twenty years, the characters, their world, and their challenges, begged me to tell their story. The genre? Not a clue. I didn’t realize stories had to fit into genres. To investigate these sacred categories I shared my work, I read in writing groups, I asked for professional advice.

My books are set in a world where the time line changed; the actions of a group of dissenting pagan Romans in AD 395 caused history to follow a different path. Alternative (or alternate) history hovers between speculative fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction; stories can be brimming with description of every tiny difference and the causes of difference, follow historical logic without boring the pants off the reader, be speculative in the extreme, or even, frankly, completely bonkers. 

So, how to classify INCEPTIO? Perhaps it was science fiction, sub-genre alternate worlds. But the imaginary country, Roma Nova, was founded by ancient Romans who adapted their values and systems over sixteen centuries. That made it historical. The story centred on a killer pursuing the heroine for an unknown reason. Oh, so it was a thriller? The heroine and hero were attracted to, and driven crazy by, each other. Ah, a romance! And the heroine overcame loss, crossed cultures and discovered her core integrity - her true self - so possibly a “Bildungsroman”? Or perhaps the feminist theme nudged it towards the literary genre?

In the end, I settled on “alternate history thriller”; if pushed, I shorten to “thriller” which is said to be a saleable genre. One London agent who admired my writing said he would take me on like a shot if I wrote straight thrillers. Flattered, I explained that my world of Roma Nova was my passion as well as my platform.

Write what you know was not so difficult. I’m a deep-steeped ‘Roman nut’; I started at eleven, stroking the beautiful mosaic floors at Ampurias in northern Spain, I’ve found tear glasses at a dig near Caerleon as a teenage volunteer, I’ve traipsed all over Roman Europe for decades. And the cross-cultural side? I’m a linguist by trade and have lived, studied and worked in several different countries. The military chapters weren’t hard to write either; six years in uniform gifted me this background.

Write what sells. Ah, the hardest piece of advice to follow. I’m a commercial creature; entrepreneurial genes have descended through my family with frightening ease. I’ve run businesses, led PR campaigns, fundraised and administered a charity. Not for me shrinking from promoting and marketing my work. But the hard-headedness doesn’t extend to cynical churning out of formulaic crowd-pleasers. Readers are the people we let into our imaginary world; for me they are the ultimate judges. So far, they’ve been kind with their reviews and stars, and once having found Roma Nova, they seem to devour it.

“Alternate history thriller” presents numerous problems; for the die-hard alternate historians, there might not be enough deep detail; for fans of thrillers, the alternate bit might be a distraction; for romance readers, the relationship may not have enough frisson and emotional tension. But like any engaging story, the Roma Nova books are essentially about the people in that world, their concerns and their attempts to make their way through the challenges facing them.

I firmly believe you should write what you want to write, what inspires you and what is buzzing around in your head, even if it's difficult to sell. If I wasn’t passionate about what I write and didn’t want to find out myself what happens and how, I’m positive it would show in the writing. Of course, I want to sell my books. I want to share my stories with people to entertain them, possibly provoke them, but mostly to show them that you can escape for a few hours to an alternative (or should that be alternate?) place.
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Alison Morton writes Roman themed alternate history thrillers. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women…
 
INCEPTIO was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM in September 2013.

The next in the series, PERFIDITAS, was published October 2013.  Alison is working on the third book SUCCESSIO.

Connect with Alison: FacebookTwitter
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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Journey Beyond the Book Release, by Alex J. Cavanaugh #Indiestructible

Alex J. Cavanaugh
The publishing journey can be a lonely endeavor, full of challenges we never expected. For those of us with a small press or self-published, we face even more uncertainty. What’s going to happen? How will we cope? Can we do it on our own?

Most writers are focused on the ultimate goal—publication—and what it's going to take to get there. But you know what? The journey doesn’t stop there. Surprise! It only changes and grows—quickly. And you have to be prepared.

Wait! Don’t panic. That’s where Indiestructible can help.

My contribution to the book focused on the power of an online presence, but it also covers the journey after the release. So do many of the stories in Indiestructible. And those of you who haven’t reached that point can learn a lot. (And even if you’re past that milestone, you’ll learn a lot.)

Do we have all the answers? Of course not. But each one of us represents a unique experience and different choices. You might not relate to my story. Actually, you’ll probably think my time commitment is a little insane. (Disclaimer—I really don’t have a cloning machine.) But you’ll probably identify with other authors in the book. You’ll find someone you can relate to who is on a similar path and say to yourself, ‘I can do that.’

And you know what? That’s the real answer. When you can tell yourself ‘I can do that,’ then you know you’re not alone.

You’ll be all right!
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Just $0.99 on Amazon
100% of proceeds will be donated to BUILDON.org, a movement which breaks the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.


Contributing authors:
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About Alex: Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and website. The author of the Amazon bestsellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
Connect with Alex:
Website | Twitter | Goodreads
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Monday, 18 November 2013

I'm heading to New York City and I need your advice ...

On November 29, I head to New York for ten days.

On my own.

It's a little scary, and daunting, especially since I have a TV interview lined up on December 4, to talk about Bitter Like Orange Peel on CT STYLE in New Haven, CT. (I have to jump on a train from New York to New Haven at 6AM to make my 9AM appointment.)

But I'm also excited. I've bought myself a New York Pass and intend to see as many of the 'must-sees,' and do as many of the 'must-dos' as possible: Broadway here I come!

And to get an even bigger bang for my buck, I've decided to make this a "research trip." I'm going to write an entire poetry book called TEN (working title) about my observations in New York City. This means I'd also like to check out some places that aren't the typical touristic fare.

Are there places where local artistic types frequent that wouldn't be listed in any guidebook? Or places of interest that aren't advertised as such? Please tell me your recommendations! But remember, I'm alone, so please don't send me anywhere you wouldn't walk through without company, because I'm paranoid like that. :-)

Please tell me in the comments, or email me. I'd REALLY love to know!
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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Artist Unleashed: AN AUTHOR COLLECTIVE–WHAT’S THE STORY? by JJ Marsh of Triskele Books

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The Many Flavors of the Indie Experience, by Susan Kaye Quinn #Indiestructible

Susan Kaye Quinn
Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle is a great representation of what it means to be an indie author—there’s no single viewpoint, no absolutes, just a collection of stories that together show the many flavors of the indie experience.

You’ll find successes that inspire you, thoughts that challenge you, and comfort that you’re not alone. I’m proud to have an essay in this collection, 100% of the proceeds of which will be donated to BuildOn.org, “a movement which breaks the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.”

A fitting match for a book that represents the best of the indie author culture of sharing and support.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a sample of the inspiring and truthful words you’ll find in Indiestructible:

“Indie publishing is not for the impatient … it’s for authors who want their fate to rest in their own hands.” —Jessica Bell, editor of Indiestructible

“The time factor is a logical fear. But once I finally made the decision to do this on my own, I realized that it wasn’t as daunting as it seemed.” —Jessica Bell, editor of Indiestructible  (quoted twice because she’s just that awesome)

“It’s when we let go of the safety net that we truly learn to fly.” —Susan Kaye Quinn

“Listen. A lot. Read. A lot. And stay flexible. Hold onto your little boat, and if you fall over, just keep swimming.” —Leigh Talbert Moore

“Nobody, it seems, is in the same boat as I am, but perhaps every author feels that way. We’re all kind of floating out in the middle of nowhere, doing our own thing.” —Michelle D. Argyle
(I just love the parallelism with the boat analogies!)

“Just because we love what we do doesn’t mean it’s always easy. In fact, there are times when writing is downright difficult, even painful.” —Kristie Cook

“Being an author means I write. It’s not that I get a big contract. It’s not that I find a legion of fans. It’s not the fame. It’s not the glory. It’s the writing.” —D. Robert Pease

“I’ve said once on my blog that the worst crime in history, in my opinion, is the destruction of the Library of Alexandria …when you deny the world your voice, it’s a similar but smaller crime in caparison, yet a calamity nonetheless.” —Michael Offutt

“Some days we’re hiking on a mountaintop in Switzerland with the bright sun on our face and a crisp wind rippling through our hair. Other days, we’re slogging through the mud pits, just hoping to miss the sinking sand.” —Laura Pauling

“The only thing that happens overnight in publishing is writer’s block.” —Rick Daley


That last quote is a great example of Rick’s ability to capture serious reality in humor, something I love about his writing as well. And it speaks to the patience that indie authors have to work hard at cultivating—success doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye, but in the daily work, the constant striving for improvement, the continual swimming forward. Indiestructible is a companion to take on the journey, and will help keep you moving in the right direction.
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Just $0.99 on Amazon
100% of proceeds will be donated to BUILDON.org, a movement which breaks the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.


Contributing authors:
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About Susan Kaye Quinn:

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling young adult SF Mindjack Trilogy. The just-released Debt Collector series is her more grown-up SF, meant for ages 17+.
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Monday, 11 November 2013

Bits 'n' Bobs and Bits 'n' Bobs

I've drawn a bit of a blank on what to write about today, so I'm just going to fill you in on bits and pieces of news:

1. After much effort by Libby Hathorn to promote the Australian poetry anthology, Women's Work, far and wide, it was taken up by Australia's ABC Radio National’s much admired poetry program, Poetica.

It aired on Saturday 9th November at 3 pm, and will again this Thursday night at 9 pm (Aussie time).

Twenty poems were read by actors with original music composed and performed by Melbourne pianist Andrea Keller.

One of the poems being read is mine, entitled, Sugar, and I'm extremely honoured to have been selected. If you'd like to hear it, but don't have time to listen to the whole 36 minutes (it really is a wonderful program, though), you can find my poem at 31:35 mins.

2. I've finished the 2nd draft of my fourth novel, White Lady, a literary crime thriller. Whoop! It's currently with beta readers.

3. The Xpresso Blog Tour for my latest release, Bitter Like Orange Peel, starts today. You can find the itinerary here.

4. Crystal Collier's debut, Moonless, is being released on November 13! Congratulations Crystal! She also has as blog tour starting today. You can find the details here.



Hope you all have a great week! What's your news?

PS: If you like Dalmatians, and want a bit of a giggle, you can watch my dog, Holly, treat my hand like a foreign object by clicking HERE.

PPS: If you missed them, you might like to read my two latest most popular posts, Why People Hating My Book Can Be A Good Thing and
Why Literary Journals Should Accept Reprints & Simultaneous Submissions

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Friday, 8 November 2013

Blogfest: Oh, How I Miss You!

About a year ago I said I wouldn't get involved in blog fests anymore, that I was just going to focus on delivering great content. But, it was hard to resist this one. It's simple, easy, and a really great way to make another blogger smile.

Just like last year, based on Andrew Leon's excellent idea, Alex, Andrew, and Matt are hosting the ...

Oh, How I Miss You! Blogfest

Here's the scoop (if you're familiar with it you can just skip the italics):

The bloggers we miss… and the ones we would miss!

Do you have a couple blogger buddies who aren’t posting as often? Those who’ve pulled back and seem absent from the blogging world? Do you have blogger buddies you are grateful they are still around and would miss if they vanished? Now is your chance to show your appreciation and spotlight them!

List one to three bloggers you really miss and one to three bloggers you would miss if they stopped blogging. Then go leave a comment on those blogs.


Without further ado, the blogger I miss is:

Nicole Ducleroir @ A Significant Moment at a Time 

~Nicole still posts, but very very rarely and I hardly see her around much unless she's talking about her running and/or scuba diving. Kudos to her for following her dreams, but I sure do miss having her around as a 'writer'!

And the blogger I would miss is:

Roz Morris @ Memories of a Future Life

~Once a week Roz hosts a writer who uses music as part of their creative environment – perhaps to connect with a character, populate a mysterious place, or hold a moment still to explore its depths.

NOTE: There are so many of you that I've come to know over the past few years and if we never talked again, I'd sure as hell miss you, much more than you know, but thanks to email and Facebook, I doubt that would ever happen. So, this choice is based purely on blog content, not the relationship I have with the blogger.

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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Artist Unleashed: FEISTY? A REFLECTION ON ADJECTIVES AND GENDER—AND HOW WE RESPOND, by Sarah Dale

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Why People Hating My Book Can Be A Good Thing

So ... I’m writing this blog post as a kind of ... therapy. To convince myself that what it says in the title is actually true.

If you’re reading it, I was game enough to publish it. And believe me, posting something like this is hard. I feel vulnerable. Misunderstood. Disliked. My heart is an open wound right now. I’m a little depressed. But hopeful—I think—too.

Let me start at the beginning.

I wrote a book. A book about horrible people. Risky, I know. But I believed in it. I believed that exposing the ugly truth about the characters in this book was the right thing to do. I let the story “be.” I couldn’t help but let it “be.” Because what it is, is organic. It’s real. And the ending. The ending—it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. But that, too, had to just “be.” It was the right thing to do.

Ultimately, this book is about not knowing the truth, and how not knowing eats away at a person’s heart and soul. So, how could I possibly reveal all the answers at the end? I wanted my readers to feel what my characters felt. I wanted them to feel the hole, and how frustrating it is to be left with it open and raw.

Clever. I thought. Brilliant, even. Yup, I’m not ashamed to say that I thought it was fucking brilliant.

But it backfired.

So many people hate my book. The amount of 1 and 2 star reviews about this book is growing at a rapid pace.

I’m not ashamed to say that now a hole is growing in my heart.

I’ve been crying. I’ve been feeling like it’s only a matter of time before the cops find out I’ve done something horribly wrong and will arrest me.

Just handcuff me now. I’m guilty of writing a book that, though melodramatic at times, is real. My work will never—EVER—be traditionally written or wrapped up with a pretty pink bow.

I’m sorry. That’s just how I write. Take it. Or leave it.

Okay, I’m rambling. Let me get back to the point I’m trying to make: why people hating my book can be a good thing ...

These people felt so strongly about the book that they had to explain why. They didn’t get half way through, and give up on it out of boredom. They read till the very end. They had to see how it concluded. They hated the language I used because it was offensive. They hated the characters so much that they wanted to slap them. Then they had to write about it. They had to write about it. They HAD to write about how they felt about my book.

This is a good thing.

Though they haven’t expressed the way they feel in a nice way, they still ended up feeling how I intended them to feel. And instead of recognizing it as a job well done, they see it as a betrayal of their time and commitment to the book. But I made them feel something as strong as hate. I made them feel frustrated. Which was the point. It was the point of the book. Life never gives us all the answers. And sometimes, it’s better just not to know.

So maybe ... these 1 and 2 star reviews mean success. I should feel proud of these 1 and 2 star reviews. Maybe, every time I see a bad review from now on, I should break out the bubbly and celebrate, because my book did exactly what it was meant to do.

I’m going to admit, that I do not completely believe this yet. But I am trying to. Because if I don’t try and see this as a good thing, I might just keep crying. And it’s not good for me to cry. I get headaches when I cry. And I don’t sleep well.

It’s been a headache and insomnia ridden ride this past week. But I think—I think—I can turn my mindset around. I have to. For my own health. Because this book is like my flesh. I can’t live without it. And when it gets beaten, it gets bruised. And my limbs ache.

So I’m making a shield.
A shield made of hope and self-belief.
Because it’s the only way I will survive the attack.


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