Friday, 28 October 2011

NaNoWriMo and all that Work

Oh my goodness is it really #NaNoWriMo next week? I have totally lost this last month in a flurry of work. I have been busy trying to finish my current WIP The Darkness of Love. It is almost complete by the way. It will be in the editing stages by December and hopefully published early 2012, publisher depending.

For NaNoWriMo I will  be working on a novel called Love Kills, the second in my Redcliffe series. It means I already have a plot in mind, and my characters are already clear, as are my locations. I won't get too smug however, because you can guarantee that my vampires, witches and werewolves will never behave themselves. They have already surprised me with random activities simply in my head!

So, my poor family will be neglected next month. I have made provisions. There will be a freezer full of prepared meals, and when they run out I will resort to the slow cooker and a variety of casseroles. My daughter will still get her weekly schedule of play groups and activities, but at home she will simply have to amuse herself while I disappear to Redcliffe!

The house will just have to collect dust for a month, and our clothes will be washed when absolutely necessary. I still have to walk the dog, but he will provide a welcome distraction and chance for a  break every day. We do need fresh air and exercise, I appreciate that. I have forewarned my close friends and family that they will not hear from me, except for a couple of pre-arranged social events. They understand.

My husband barely sees me at the moment anyway, but then he has his own activities. The only thing is, it is his birthday in November. And not just any birthday. He hits the big 30, so we must celebrate (or commiserate) somehow. We will make up our lack of time together over Christmas. This year has been a hectic and chaotic one anyway, so we really do need to catch our breath at some point. In  the meantime, let the ferocious writing commence. NaNoWriMo, bring it on. I am ready for you!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Writing a Victorian Vampire Novel

This is just a brief update on my work in progress this week. I have done quite well and have almost finished writing my first draft of The Darkness of Love. I started out on this particular project about 14 months ago. There was a lull in my writing while I had a baby, but now I am back in full swing. I enjoy writing, but I must admit I am anxious to leave this manuscript, and move on to writing my sequel to Love Hurts. But I am determined to see this through to the end, because the story needs to be told.

The Darkness of Love is set in Victorian England. It tells the story of the vampire Marcus Scott, and how he came to be the man we see in Redcliffe (Love Hurts) today. Marcus was originally supposed to be one of my 'bad guy' characters, but he has actually proved to be more complex than I first thought, which is why he gets his own novel. It won't be a massive tome, but I am sure people will be pleasantly surprised with it. There is intrigue, passion, beautiful English scenery, and a fit, strong, impulsive young man. What more could a girl want?

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Open Mike at Coffee Time Romance

Today I will be co-hosting a live webchat on Coffee Time Romance with fellow independent author  Borislava Borissova. We will chat about our new books, our experiences as authors, our love of romance (no pun intended!) and whatever else our audience requests.

Join us at 4:00pm BST / 11:00am EST

This is a great place for fellow authors, readers and reviewers of romance to interact. It covers all aspects of the genre, not just the 'soft stuff.' We enjoy discussions about paranormal romance,  historical, fantasy, even some of the erotic persuasion.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Thinking in #Hashtags (and the horror of no Blackberry services)

I have been driven insane by the current technical problems experienced by RIM for Blackberry. Tuesday night is my TV night. I watch a whole schedule of programmes, and tweet my reactions as we go along. This week I watched Gok’s Clothes Roadshow on Channel 4, followed by a new series of Vampire Diaries on ITV 2, followed by Mary, Queen of Frocks (on Channel 4 +1), and finally, the latest series of True Blood on Channel 4 real time.

Usually during the adverts (or commercial breaks) I grab my Blackberry and get tweet happy. I usually update my Facebook status while I’m at it. Sometimes I tweet and post every half hour or so. But this week my phone was not playing. I would pick it up in the vain hope that the magic Blackberry fairies had fixed it, only to be disappointed. I wanted to surf eBay and I couldn’t. Facebook and Twitter were stuck 12 hours behind. I was fed up of reading the same posts. My emails were coming through on a 5 or 6-hour delay. Shock! Horror!

It comes to something when I spend my days thinking in hash-tags. I do something, visit somewhere, see something, and feel a desperate need to broadcast it to the world. “Just had #breakfast nice and early for once.” “My #baby clapped her hands!” “Now arriving at the #shops.” These are some hypothetical nonsensical tweets I may have posted, had my Blackberry actually been working during the last 3 days. Of course, I do have a tendency to forget my inspirational tweets, or get distracted by chores, baby or dog. It’s probably just as well.

Two years ago I barely knew what Twitter was. Now it is the first thing I see in the morning, and the last thing I check at night. I check, and tweet at regular intervals: while feeding my baby, walking the dog, even whilst walking from room to room and up and down the stairs at home. My hand feels naked without the Blackberry glued to it. I am starting to worry about my sanity.

And today, once again, I have no Twitter. No Facebook. No apps at all. My Blackberry has remained silent for most of the day, tucked into my pocket so I could check it frequently, just in case the problem had been fixed. While I was out with a friend it randomly came to life, bleeping a serious of quick alerts to inform me that my emails were arriving. They were only about 10 hours behind schedule. I think we can safely say I missed the web chats that I was interested in joining to network my recent novel and experiences as a writer.

How shocking, a mobile phone that only actions telephone calls and text messages. What has the world come to? No Twitter, no Facebook, no eBay, no emails. Since I was away from home I couldn’t even fire up our home computer or jump on the laptop. However did we manage in the good old days before social networks went mobile?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Modern Paranormal Romance

When people hear the words paranormal romance today they will most probably associate it with the popular Twilight franchise, and maybe even the HBO television series True Blood. It is strange to think that the original horror novel Dracula was actually a romance of sorts, although it was grotesque and evil to reflect Victorian values.
It is no longer acceptable to have a truly evil vampire who preys on innocent humans. We have evolved in our society to a point where we realise our arrogance in the face of such stereotypical views. In contemporary paranormal romance novels, vampires, shape shifters, and other non-human creatures are often treated as another race, a group of people that should not be discriminated against, but that are reviled for their supernatural abilities and nature.

I have recently finished reading Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris. It is the latest of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, and I really enjoyed it. There was a clever mix of supernatural activity, and everyday ‘normal human life. The heroine, Sookie, spends her evenings fighting manipulative and unpleasant vampires and shape shifters, and her day time hours are filled with household chores and paid employment. She struggles to fit in her human friends, and their baby showers and weddings, and all of the standard rites of passage that humans live by, and that are safe, happy events.

My novel Love Hurts follows this pattern, or at least that is what I intended. My heroine is a human (or so she believes), who runs a small business with her close friend. She is dating a vampire, and once she discovers his hidden secret (because in my Britain, supernatural creatures still remain hidden from society), she then struggles to merge her human life with her supernatural one.

This is where I am drawn in with the genre. I love the idea that mundane life can be livened up with a different cultural perspective, especially an apparently violent and volatile one. It makes life interesting. We need an escape from our daily household routine, and our regular pattern of work and play. That is what paranormal romance offers, and I love discovering new and exciting authors who weave their own perspective and experiences into their tales.

I hope that other people will read Love Hurts and will feel the same excitement and enjoyment that I did when I wrote it. And that those same people will follow my heroine Jessica Stone, as she stumbles through a relationship with a vampire and his identical twin werewolf brother, while supporting her human best friend with a new baby. Oh, and she has a gay best friend who is a werewolf too, just because I can!

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Indie Author Book Signing Event

Last weekend I attended my second book signing event to promote my paranormal romance novel Love Hurts. The event took place at Waterstones Bookseller in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, UK. This was my home town so I was very excited. I have spent many years wandering around this book shop, dreaming about the day when I might see my own work on the shelves. And now that day has come!

The lovely staff welcomed me to their store, gave me a mug of coffee, and showed me to my special table in the centre of the ground floor retail space. I was facing the main entrance, in a nice open place, with the tills adjacent. The perfect location to see all the customers and for them to see me.

I had actually been sat for a few minutes before I even saw the large display stand full of my books next to the table! My heart gave a little leap of excitement, and I peered round to have a better look. Yes, there they were. A whole collection of books, above which hung a large banner announcing that local author Catherine Green was in store to sign copies of her new book.

The staff had printed some leaflets and had distributed them amongst customers for a few weeks before my event. I found this very touching, and a lovely gesture, since I hadn’t actually been able to get some leaflets produced myself. I am still learning the ropes, so to speak. I had gotten some mentions in local newspapers and magazines, so I was hoping this would help. And of course, I had plastered my event all over the social networks for weeks in advance, and told people as I went along.

As it was, the shop was almost empty all day long. On this day, the 1st October 2011, the sun shone on the UK. We had some of the hottest temperatures on record, and people were not in the mood to shop. I was most annoyed. Where is the rain when you need it? We should be wearing jeans and jumpers now, not shorts and t-shirts!

There was nothing else for it. I had to pluck up some courage, approach people, and coerce them into buying my book. The Paranormal Romance and Dark Fantasy sections were located near the main entrance, so I practically wore a path in the carpet every time somebody walked in and paused there. I would hurry over to them, trying not to look like a bird of prey swooping in for the kill. Fortunately most people were very polite, and agreed to take a look at my book.

By the end of my four-hour attendance, I had sold seven books. Not an impressive number, but very satisfactory under the circumstances. Aside from this I had spoken to a book reviewer for the local influential newspaper, and he said he will feature my book shortly. This just goes to show that you never know what contacts you might make if you creep out of your dark writer’s space, and mingle in the wider world, even for a short time.

Now, who shall I visit next? I shall consult the list given to me by the manager of the Hanley store. Watch this space for more events…