Saturday, 13 December 2014

SECOND CHANCES ARE TIED IN PINK. DEDICATIONS FOR A BREAST CANCER ANTHOLOGY

Recently a very close friend of mine underwent some serious breast cancer surgery. One minute she was healthy, holidaying with her family and enjoying what her life and future had to offer, then the next minute, after a routine scan, she heard those words: "I'm sorry, but you have cancer." A few short weeks later, she was in hospital having life saving surgery, and Boxing Day saw her start months of chemo and radiation treatment. But not once did she complain and ask "why me?" She is one tough chick! Even when 'the red devil' was burning it's way through her veins, killing all the cancer cells in it's wake, she didn't complain. It was merely a means to the end. And then there were the days after chemo, when she couldn't lift her head off the pillow. But still she didn't complain. Not to mention when she couldn't eat because of mouth and stomach ulcers from the treatment, or the hot flushes she was experiencing because of the hormone therapy. And in her true spirit and nature, it was only when coffee started to taste different, that she cursed cancer, and was concerned that she would never be able to enjoy coffee again. Not the fact that she was now wearing scarves because she was bald, or all her eyebrows and eyelashes had fallen out and chemo was leaking from her eyes, but that coffee no longer tasted good! (fear not, we experimented and found that week two after chemo was the best time for coffee and burgers. And didn't we take advantage of it!)

Through the whole ordeal, she stayed strong. It was only part way through her chemo that I saw a glimpse of her true suffering. And even then, all she said to me was: "I'm sick of having to be strong." I couldn't even go to her and see her that day, as I was sick with a head cold. Not that I was being pitiful, 'wah wah I'm sick', but, I had to stay away. The risk of her catching my cold was too great.

To her very credit and strength, the next day, she picked herself up and dusted herself off, and said, "Let's get on with it." And that she did. She came out the otherside. Her hair has returned, and thankfully, her tastebuds have too! She is back into coffee and chocolate with avengence. She is also back running and swimming, but in someone that has only truely been in her place can understand, life looks all that bit different. Trivial things that would have once been a priority, now take a back burner.

She has been given a second chance, and that is why I wrote my short story 'Second Chance' for 'Tied In Pink' a breast cancer anthology. My story was written for you Shaz. Now is your time, to do what YOU want to do but never had the courage.

I implore everyone to go buy 'Tied In Pink', because every time someone buys it, funds are donated, and it gives someone else with breast cancer the opportunity to have their second chance.

'Tied In Pink' is available for purchase on Amazon.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

BEST SELLER AND BAD REVIEWS

So, I had my first one star review this week. Probably couldn't have come at a worse time. I'm really hormonal today! I've actually written and rewritten this blog about ten times, not wanting to come across as too soft or too thin skinned. Take a deep breath Jo, it's not personal. After all she said she wanted to like your book, she just couldn't, because well...she thought it sucked! I thought I was prepared for this, I really did, but obviously I'm not. Or maybe it is just my raging female hormones.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and certainly free to speak their own minds. I mean, we are all different, and if we all liked the same thing wouldn't life be boring? Illuminated Darkness might not be for everyone, and I'm certainly not going to judge you if you don't like my style of writing, my characters or can't read it because you think it has no value. Hell, my own family (except my mother) haven't even read it. So don't read it if you don't like YA Paranormal Romance. I've never marketed it as anything else other than romance fiction.

But I have to thank my blogger friend. After me bitching and whining to anyone that will listen to me today, (thank you friends and family and online support groups for thin skinned authors) I have more drive to succeed and more determination than before. My blogger friend compared Illuminated Darkness to Twilight. WOW! I could only hope to be as half as successful as Stephenie Meyer. What a comparison! If you know me, then you will know how much I loved these books (pre movie, lets always remember that I was on board BEFORE the hype).

So, instead of focusing on one bad review, I will focus on the fact that I have sold enough copies of Illuminated Darkness for it to be a best seller on AmazonAU Childrens & Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. I will focus on at least twenty other people I know, asking when the sequel will be finished (soon, it's my next project. Promise). I will focus on that fact I actually wrote a book! I accomplished something that I had been wanting to do for 20 years.

I love to write, and I will continue to write, because I love to write for me!


Saturday, 22 March 2014

BLOGGER WRITERS BLOCK AND THE ART OF SELF PROMOTION

I have a confession. It's been over a month since my last blog. I didn't mean for it to be so long in between blogs, but it kinda just happened. I swore to myself that when I started this page it wouldn't be just a couple of blogs and then left to waste with no updates. But this, sadly is what has happened to me. It's not that I haven't wanted to blog, I have, I just wanted to make sure what I wrote was worthwhile and meaningful. After all, as an author, I need to ensure that what I write is always engaging and entertaining. Anything less than that I would be doing a disservice to myself and my readers. In order to create an entertaining blog, I need an entertaining topic. One that I think will engage readers and promote awareness of myself and my book. Finding a topic is harder than it sounds. It's not like when I write fiction. As a dreamer, pictures and words are always flowing through my mind. In fact I currently have four manuscripts on the go, all partially written, ranging from 16,000 words to 1600 words, and at least three other story ideas written down. Each and every single story line is different, ranging from Contemporary Adult, New Adult, Young Adult Contemporary and even a couple of Middle School ideas. So story ideas aren't the problem (finishing them is, but I might leave that one until the next blog. That way I have a new topic).
I subscribe to a number of different author pages, and to be honest they love to self promote and will blog so much that it kinda gets monotonous. Blog tours, blog hosting, guest blogger etc etc. Is there such a thing as too much?  I've even unsubscribed from some pages because of their over sharing. Would worthwhile sporadic blogs and updates be more effective than posting blogs every week and Facebook updates three to four times a day about word count or who they have been signed to this week? I know it's important to self promote, but where is the happy medium? Is market saturation a good thing? I've read so many articles in pro blogging and just as many anti. Is blogging even necessary when we have other forms of media such as Facebook or Twitter? So many questions, that I'm sure through time I will learn.
Promotion for a newly self published author is a full time gig, especially when said author (me) has another job, a family and a time consuming past time. I forget how many times I've stumbled onto a new author and fell in love with their work and then went to their webpage, or blog page to find out more about them and their work, but then was greatly disappointed when their page hadn't been updated for one to two months, or on the flip side, they have blogged so much I haven't wanted to read past the first couple of entries. But every person is different in what they want and expect from their online experience. So I guess for now, I'll continue on my road of self promotion, which means I'll see you in another month when hopefully I have something important and engaging to discuss.
In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback on blogging and posting.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

BUTTERFLIES AND FIRST LOVE



Do you believe in love at first sight? I do. Maybe that’s because I’m a true romantic at heart. Those that know me might scoff at that statement, but it’s true. I love the thought of a Happy Ever After. With Valentines Day this week, I know there will be millions of girls or guys dreaming of a rose or a valentine from their true love. Who hasn’t at one time in their life dreamt of being swept off their feet by their Mr or Miss Right? Let me be presumptuous and answer that: None. Numerous movies and love songs can attest to my statement.  Love makes the world go around or to quote the Beatles: 'All we need is love'.
There is something so sweet about falling in love for the first time. It’s said you will always remember your first love.  As I’m writing this now, memories are flooding back to me. Immense happiness, crushing sadness and lots of good stuff in between. Not everyone is destined to be with his or her first love forever, but you will always have those sweet memories. 
I guess that why I love to read and write Young Adult Romance. It’s innocent, uncomplicated and sweet. It’s all about falling in love for the first time, meeting your ‘soul mate’ and having that HEA. I remember being a teenager, everything was heightened; feelings are so intense that when you meet ‘The One’, you fall and you fall hard. I’m not talking about crushes or infatuation, I’m talking about that person, that when you meet, everything and everyone else ceases to exist except you and ‘The One’. 
More often than not, first love is an instant attraction. Love at first sight. Your eyes lock and you just know that person is the one for you. Butterflies flicker in your stomach and that person becomes the centre of your universe. Clich├ęd, sure, but that’s how it happens, in fiction and reality. I think it has been scientifically proven that love at first sight happens, but that’s unromantic. I prefer to think of it as destiny. One soul destined to meet another, written and determined before those souls had been born on earth. I guess it easy to see why I write young adult romance. Throw in some paranormal characters, and you have my perfect novel.
As we grow up and mature, love can be hard and complicated. It’s not as straightforward as young love, and there isn’t always that HEA ending that we dream of. On those days, I pull out my iPad and write or grab one of my favourite YA books, and immerse myself in that innocence and first love butterflies. I hope this Valentines Day you are with someone special, and its as sweet as the first time you fell in love. And there are butterflies, lots of butterflies.

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Sunday, 26 January 2014

INSPIRATIONS AND DISTRACTIONS. SQUIRREL.


Perhaps I should sub title this post: distractions, distractions and more distractions. It’s officially just over two weeks since my last blog (why does this sound like an AA meeting?). I started this particular post two weeks ago, but it has taken until today to finish it. I have many excuses to myself for being late: It was my birthday; We went away; I started back at work; I have to train; It was my sons birthday; I did a 10km running race; It was Australia Day; I was tired. In case you haven’t noticed the theme: I am easily distracted (or the Queen of procrastination).
There's a famous movie line from the family animated movie 'Up' by Pixar, in which Dug the Dog is having a moment with the old man, and bam, he is distracted, squirrel. Most days I am like that. I'll be having a book moment; I'll have come up with a new story line or character development on a book I'm writing, and bam, squirrel. I might be on my iPhone researching something in particular, say for example, a town the character lives in, and next thing I know, I've gone completely off topic and I'm looking up holiday destinations! Or I'll be writing, a scene has just popped in my head. I frantically type, however, I need to make sure my facts are correct and look it up on line, squirrel, I'd better check my Facebook.
That would have to be one my biggest distractions by far, Facebook! I say that like an expletive. I've often contemplated deleting my account, but in our society that relies so heavily on social media to promote and sell, right now I can't afford to. My scenario goes like this: I'm inspired for a new story or a character idea has popped into my head. I open Safari and google, next thing I know, I get a Facebook notification. I open the Facebook app up on my phone, read the notifications, scroll through my news feed, read some 'interesting' articles, close it, put down the phone. Minutes later, pick up my phone again, open Facebook, do some stalking, read some comments, and close it again. This could go on for about 2 hours, oh doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun! This doesn't just happen when I'm writing either. Most times, I do this when I really don't want to do something, say for example, housework, or balance the accounts for end of month, or even write a two-week late book blog.
Have I just had a squirrel moment? Back to topic. Inspiration often comes to me late at night, when I’m in bed, getting ready to go to sleep. I have no idea why my mind is most creative at that time of night, but it’s almost always around 10.30pm. I’ll have turned off the light, and an idea will hit me. I write everything on my iPad, so I keep it beside my bed in case of emergency inspiration. It’s most inconvenient to write at that time of night, not because I’m distracting anyone, but because I’ll be writing and trying to keep my eyes open. My brain wants to keep writing, but my body has other ideas. Hence why there are always words missing from my text!
Inspiration might also come to me in dream. Like most people, I have some weird and wonderful dreams. In fact a major scene in Illuminated Darkness was pretty much a dream scene that I have written near word-to-word of what happened. Another example is an unfinished manuscript that I’ve been working on for the past few months is actually based on a dream I had. It was so real that I when I woke I was actually sad that I couldn’t continue it on (in fact I think I had stayed in bed that little bit extra that morning to replay the dream) then later that evening I started to write it on my iPad. But you know how it goes: idea, research, squirrel. Needless to say, it is only a quarter of the way done.
I’m so good at distractions that this blog in itself is a distraction for what I need to do. I have work in my home office that needs to be done and I have a two-month deadline for a new YA novel that I’ve been working on (not sure how I’m going to get that done). At least I’m not on Facebook! Hang on, I have to log on to post this blog. Hmmm, did anyone say squirrel?


Saturday, 11 January 2014

WRITING IS THE EASY PART


            All my friends keep telling me, 'Great job, what an accomplishment!' They would all ask, 'How did you do it?' and then say to me, 'I've always wanted to write a book, but it seems too hard.' When they say these things, I have to stop and think to myself, 'Yes, how did I do it?' To be honest, some days were harder than others to put my mind on task and get the writing done (hence, the long time it took me to complete it), but now it's written and out there, I'm starting to think, writing is the easy part! Let me explain.
            I've written the next best seller (in my mind anyway), and it's only taken me the best part of over three years of on and off writing and rewriting. If I could describe to you the feeling of satisfaction I had when I typed the last words of the final sentence, I would say it was similar to graduating University, but better. The hard work was over, now it was time to publish my book and enjoy the results of my labour. Time to plan the book launch: cocktails and champagne overlooking the beach on a full moon (my latest daydream. See my previous post to understand my daydream tendencies). My book was to be released in a couple of weeks, or so I thought. Now I realize, looking back, how delusional I really was.
            Before I continue, allow me to ask this. Who hasn't finished a book by their favorite author, knowing a sequel was on the way, only to be told you had to wait a year? A whole year! Why didn't the author simply get their act together and write the thing and give it to us fans? Because now I understand, it's not that simple. Once I sent my manuscript away to my chosen publisher, I felt a void inside of me. This book had been a part of me for so long, to not have to write it anymore or put my head in the story, I felt lost. Never to get inside these characters heads again. But then the publisher contacted me. Time to revise. The copy editor had made changes. Errors had been corrected and suggestions made. Time to rewrite. Back to the editor, and then again, and again, the process repeated. After three lots of rewrites it was time to print, and the mock ups sent.
            Excited, with my book in hand, I open it up and begin to read, thoughts of my awesome book launch now back in the picture. But wait! What's this? Errors on the cover and more inside (not to mention the major stuff up by the publisher, but I won't go there!). Back to the rewrites. Ugh! Two more times this happens, and now, after seven long months since my initial contact with my publisher, and numerous back and forths between us both, my book is finally available online, and thats with me pushing it to get published. I've never been an overly patient person! 
           Now it's time to get promoting and marketing, of which I have no idea how this industry works, so I've been spending a lot of time researching. Needless to say, I'm getting frustrated. I have more stories I want to write, new characters that are needing to be heard. So next time I hear someone say to me, 'I've always wanted to write a book,' I will now say to them, 'Writing is the easy part, its the publishing that is hard.'
            Finally, let me just say here, that it was 100% my choice to self publish, and this is my experience as a result. I wanted full control over the publishing aspect. Just simply discussing my thoughts on the writing and publishing process. Next time, I may choose a different avenue to publish. With the popularity of ebooks, there are many self publishing platforms available to independent authors. My one tip I will be sure to follow for myself next time is to pay for an independent editor so these multiple changes by myself can be avoided!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

NOT ANOTHER VAMPIRE NOVEL


            I'm a bit of a daydreamer. Always have been, always will be. My elementary and high school reports would always have comments from teachers that would say 'Joanne is very capable of achieving better marks, if only she would stop daydreaming in class,' or something along those lines anyway. I remember sitting in class one hot summer day, after a particularly active lunch break, (and if any of you have ever experienced summer in Queensland then you would know how hot and sticky it can get) laying my head on my desk and watching the giant gum trees rustle in the wind outside my classroom window. I didn't go to sleep, but instead I let my mind wander and daydream. I can't remember what I was daydreaming about, but knowing me back then, it was mostly about being a famous basketball player. I was eleven at the time and lived and breathed basketball.
            I didn't have to just be at school to daydream. I would always make up stories of what I would do when I was rich and famous (in fact it's something I still do now). As I grew older, my passions changed, and so did my daydreams. The books I read, and I used to read ALOT, also changed from Archie comics, fairytales and kids mystery books to high school love stories. Not content with reading about the female character that always got the guy in the end, I would find myself daydreaming that I was that girl who got the guy. But my dreams were never enough, so I started writing short stories that would involve me and my current crush. Shortly there after, I started receiving requests from school friends to write them a story. Sometimes, these requests would even include the same guy I was crushing on! (This was the start of my dream to write stories for a living) Sometimes I think about those stories and wonder if any of the guys I wrote about back then knew. My inner 15 year old cringes at the thought!
            It was around this time that I also discovered vampires!!! I instantly fell in love with them. To me, there was always that attraction to the bad guy, that was struggling to be good. My favorites at the time were The Lost Boys and Bram Stokers Dracula. Classic movies of that era. In fact I think I watched the former movie over 100 times, bought the soundtrack and had numerous Jason Patrick posters on my wall. I even made my parents buy me a pair of Rayban sunglasses that he wore. Obsessed much? I used to climb on the roof at night and daydream about a vampire coming for me. This was only the start of my obsession. Next came the mid 90's and the next resurgence of vampire movies and books. It was around this time I read everything that Anne Rice wrote, and watched the book to movie adaptations, and fell in love with Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (tv series). I'm even ashamed to admit that as a 20 something year old, I would still have those daydreams about vampires.
            The 2000's saw another reinvention of vampire stories.  I, along with thousands of others, fell in love with Edward and Twilight. By this time, I was married and already had two children, and too busy to read, so I was late to the series, picking it up when the final book was released (pre movie release, lets make that one clear lol). My husband would frequently complain every time I picked up a book that no one could communicate with me until I finished it. But when I read a review on the book and series in general, I just knew I had to read it. And that I did. I read all the books, cover to cover, about three times in a row. Then came the movies and other vampire books, and my obsession with all things vampire reignited.
            So, I hear you say, 'Illuminated Darkness, not another vampire novel!' Most would assume I've just jumped on the bandwagon of the current trends and of vampires and witches all things supernatural. But for me, as you've just read, vampires have been in my blood (pun intended) for 25 years! Wren is MY vampire, and is how I've always pictured him, since I was a 15 year old high school girl waiting for him at night on my roof. It's just taken me this long to finally share him with everyone else. And even though Ash isn't me, she shares some of my traits, so I guess, in a way, this is my vampire that has finally come for me. So, maybe to you this is a just another vampire novel, but to me, it's my daydream finally coming true.