Tuesday, 12 August 2014

It's called Copy & Paste, Doofus.

Once again my epic stupidity shines through.

My blog was finished. It was good, really good. (If I did say so myself.) It was smart, witty, humorous. All those wonderful things that blogs like to be. Heck, it made me laugh.

So when it came time to publish my masterpiece, I hit save then Publish - as you do. Nothing happened.

I hit save again. I got no error message, so going against my gut feeling and history telling me to copy it into a word document, I closed Blogger then opened it again.

On opening, I found the whole, 2 pages (Plus cool images) gone... disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again.

(Totally out of context but I wanted to share, I spent way too much time changing the B to a P to waste it.)


I should know better than to not copy a blog into a word document if something doesn't seem right.

Let this be a lesson to all you bloggers out there. Write your blogs in word first.

Just sayin'.






Thursday, 10 July 2014

Inspiration in Pictures


They say pictures speak a thousand words- Truer words have never been spoken. Well, it's the case for me.

When I write I see colour, images, faces. I see in pictures the story unfold before eme. When I look at the expression on a person's face in a picture I can conjure up entire lifetimes from that one look.

****



“Where are we going?” she asked, taking the rug out of my hand and folding it as we walked.

“You’ll see.” I took her hand and led her toward a small rowboat that was moored on the bank of the lake not far from where we were sitting. I tilted my head to study her. Cora’s blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight, drawing a rare smile from me. It was like watching a flame sway and flicker until I had become so entranced that I lost track of where I was going. A sharp spasm exploded through my ankle. I crashed to my knees, my hands disappearing into the soft sand.

****


I felt insignificant among the forest of tall, needle-like trees. Tree roots, covered in a thick green moss, erupted from the ground like long twisted fingers. A fine dewy mist hung low to the ground and rays of sunlight speared through the dense canopy. The path that had brought me to this point had now become nothing but a trail of crushed leaves and forest litter.

****


As the door shut with a muffled thud behind us, it took a second for my eyes to adjust to the dim light. Some old standing lamps lined the spacious room, casting a golden glow. The room was divided into sections by enormous arches that had been covered from floor to ceiling with impressive paintings. I think I had seen something like it in a book from Art class back in Atlanta. Lights were hanging from the ceilings in brass or copper cages. Through the middle of the main library were wooden oval desks that were surrounded by fabric couches, which were also heavily decorated. Everything looked breakable so I shoved my hands deep into my pockets as Cora led us to the end of the room and to a closed door on the right. She paused, looked back at me, then tapped.

****


Fire-engine red hair flowed across her shoulders and drizzled down her back like honey. The cherry-coloured fabric of her dress dripped from her body and flapped languidly in the breeze. The girl was on fire. She reminded me of a piece of music, graceful and beautiful. I had to talk to her, ask her name at the very least.


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

If you listened to a book, did you read it?

As a traditionalist, I like to see a book, feel the smooth pages between my fingers, smell the musty scent of age. I like to re-read passages I've loved and make notes in the margins for future reference. It will be a very sad day when it becomes too expensive to manufacture paperbacks. It saddens me to my core that my children and future grandchildren may find themselves in a world where paperbacks no longer exist.

However, I cannot deny the convenience of the eReader.

That feeling of dread when you come to the last page of a fantastic novel and there is still another 45 minutes left of the bus ride and you may just have to talk to the person sitting next to you- eeeep!

You want to start a new book that very second but to have to wait until you get home or get to the bookstore to buy it. Just the mere thought of spending an entire day without a book to read has you breaking out into a cold sweat and the shakes.

With the creation of the ebook, you can have any book, anywhere and not need a suitcase and bionic strength to lug them around.



 But now there is an even more convenient way of discovering books; the audibook.

 I use all 3 methods to absorb books as fast as is humanly possible, but use each in a different way.

 For books and authors I can't live without, it's paperback all the way. I want to read each and every word, hear the voices (the way I hear them in my head) feel the paper, look at the cover in vivid colour, re-read the blurb as I continue on the journey. I want to sit in bed with a cup of coffee and my book with the bedside lamp on (not bright light, it ruins the mood) and absorb every sentence into my soul.



For most other books I use my Kindle. It doesn't give you the luxury of smelling the crisp cover or dog-earring the corners, but you can still read every word but with the convenience of one, lightweight device.

 Then, I have on occasion used that other method, the one that I can't bring myself to admit that I use, Audible. Where a narrator reads out a book, and you listen to it.

So, listening to a narrated novel and reading. They are the same thing- or are they?

A poor narrator can destroy a book. The inflection may feel wrong, the dialogue not as I would hear it in my head. The accent might not fit with how I perceive the characters or the setting and again, the book is ruined for me.

Audibooks are very convenient, that point is not in question here. What's not to love about being able to listen to a book while doing other jobs? Housework, driving, eating, etc etc BUT can you truly digest a book, understand it's meaning and depth while rushing around with the vacuum in one hand and a chux in the other.

I have, on occasion, listened to a book in the car. This did not prove to be the most intelligent thing I've ever done. I'm either so engrossed in the book that I forget red means stop, or I'm concentrating on driving I miss half of what has been read out loud and find myself listening to the same 30 seconds over and over.

So, if you listen to a book are you reading?

Or is it cheating???

When someone tells you, they listened to a book, do you instantly feel that they are a traitor and should be banished to some alternate universe? Or do they get just as much out of the book as you would having read each sentence with as much love as a new kitty.

I must confess, being the purist that I am, that I feel like it is.  I know myself I don't get as much out of the book as if I had read the words on a page and only use this method if I need to read something quickly and it's not a book that requires a lot of deep thought.

I love to read but being a busy, working mother of two young girls, my reading time is all but sucked up by nappies, lunches, finding soft toys, retrieving lego from underneath the lounge, ABC 4 Kids, cold cups of Nespresso and housework. So to be able to listen to a book while I get work done should be nothing but awesome.



But can I bring myself to call it 'reading'? Well, clap me in irons and throw me in the stocks, because I say no.




Monday, 12 May 2014

Cover Reveal - Melting Into You - Tracey Alvarez, Book 2 in the Due South Series



I'm so excited to be able to help share the fabulous new cover for the second book in the Due South Series, Melting Into You. 

Melting Into You is Available on June 16 2014

BOOK BLURB

Big, sexy men who don’t relate well to kids need not apply…

Kezia Murphy plays her widow card well. When you don’t trust people not to let you down, it’s easier to not get involved—and getting involved with a man who makes her skin sizzle just by looking at him would be una pazzia—crazy! Four years ago while Kezia’s daughter, Zoe, battled leukaemia, a tragic accident stole her husband’s life. Starting over in the little town of Oban where she’s adopted into the close knit community on Stewart Island, Kezia and her daughter are all the family the other needs. Except Zoe yearns for more.

New Zealand’s worst candidate for instant fatherhood…

Ben doesn’t do gooey emotional stuff. He doesn’t do cosy home and family. And he sure isn’t the big teddy-bear Kezia Murphy, the woman he secretly fantasises about, thinks he is. So when Jade, his surprise eight-year-old daughter arrives on his doorstep, he’s a D-minus student struggling to pass a crash-course in parenting.

They’ll either melt or raze their lives to the ground…

When the sparks of attraction between Kezia and Ben fan into an inferno, Ben doesn’t know how much longer the layers of resistance around his heart can resist melting into the gooey mess he fears. The more he fights it the harder it is to make the choice that will destroy the family he now longs to claim.


EXCERPT

He moved like a much smaller, lighter man. A runner or a gymnast—all coiled power that could switch from casual swagger to lightning-fast action in a heartbeat.

She licked dry lips as he stalked closer, a witty response swallowed by the slow burn kindling low in her body. Both English and Italian deserted her, and she simply drank him in. Too good-looking, too confident—too much of everything that eroded her determination to resist him.

Bracing her spine as he stood alongside her, she waited for the punch line or another double entendre.

But he said nothing.

Just gazed down with a small half smile. Which was another word for a smirk—a baby, you know you’re impressed smirk.

She fanned herself with the edge of the board. Did she need a reminder of why she hated Alpha males? After growing up in a home full of five bull-headed Alpha brothers, no, she did not.

Ben’s arm brushed hers as he moved to let Noah past. Beneath her summery dress, her nipples puckered against her lacy bra cup.

Oh, no! Not again.

Kezia hugged the clipboard to her chest and closed her eyes. Please St. Paula, let the clipboard base be wide enough to cover my boobs.

A soft, rumbling sound next to her—Ben chuckling.

Sweet Mother! Had she spoken aloud? A quick glance confirmed her worst fears unfounded. Ben stared blandly into the crowd, as if he had no idea how much his closeness affected her.

Honestly, she should ask the Patron Saint of Widows for more than boob coverage. She needed strength—brute strength—to resist either the urge to murder the man, or the almost-as-terrifying urge to jump his bones until he begged for mercy.


DUE SOUTH SERIES

Visit the wild and beautiful Stewart Island and the Due South world by reading Book 1 of the Due South series, In Too Deep.


*


IN TOO DEEP IS AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING STORES:


Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
itunes
Kobo

ABOUT TRACEY ALVAREZ

Tracey Alvarez lives in the Coolest Little Capital in the World (a.k.a Wellington, New Zealand) where she’s yet to be buried under her to-be-read book pile by Wellington’s infamous wind—her Kindle’s a lifesaver! Married to a wonderfully supportive IT guy, she has two teens who would love to be surgically linked to their electronic devices.

Fuelled by copious amounts of coffee, she’s the author of contemporary romantic fiction set predominantly in New Zealand. Small-towns, close communities, and families are a big part of the heart-warming stories she writes. Oh, and hot, down-to-earth heroes—Kiwi men, in other words.

When she’s not writing, thinking about writing, or procrastinating about writing, she can be found reading sexy books of all romance genres, nibbling on smuggled chocolate bars, or bribing her kids to take over the housework.

Tracey Alvarez Facebook Page
Tracey Alvarez Website
Melting Into You on Goodreads
Twitter



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 7 April 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

I was tagged by the fun loving, incredible roller derby girl Kate Wigseller. (I'm so jealous, I'd love to do roller derby - reignite my childhood passion for skating!)

Her blogs are always great fun to read yet a very interesting insight into the mind of a writer/author and how us strange group of people think. At least I know I'm not alone in my odd behaviours (however, I choose to call it creativity!)

You can find out all about Kate by checking out and following her Blog here!

Now down to business!

1. What am I working on?

Hmmm... let me think. I'm working on book 2 of the Erlanis Chronicles. It is turning out to be quite a bit harder than the first. Note to the aspiring author - think about future books and how elements of your story will be able to easily follow on.

I'm also working on a series of books based in Japanese Mythology, but a lot of research is required and I'm in the process of applying for grant funding for a trip to Japan! Stay tuned!

And thirdly, I'm working on a little contemporary romance about a secret topic that I'm not saying!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don't overcomplicate my stories, and I don't try and replicate the Twilight or Hunger Games phenomenons. While I do love those series, I think YA/NA readers need something gritty and a little bit dark where sometimes the good guy doesn't always win.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I don't think I every really grew up. I love the innocence and story telling of the young adult genre. When I was younger and even to this day when I want to escape real life for a little bit, I'll dive into a paranormal or fantasy story or movie and I don't give my stresses another thought for that brief period of time.

If my writing can do that for other young people just trying to work out their place in this world then my job is done.

4. How does your writing process work?


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Second Book Block - Fact or Fiction?

I am sitting in front of a box of books, MY books, in awe. I can't believe I did it. I really, really did it.


The feeling is indescribable. Joy, elation, stunned silence, disbelief, immense self achievement.  There is nothing like holding a copy of your own book in your hands.

So that is all well and good. But I don't think I'll be able to retire on the sales of one book alone.  I need to write another one.

I've heard other writers say they struggle with second book block and that subsequent books are much harder to write. I wondered how that could be, I was of the assumption the second book should be easier. Up until now.

Of Fire & Roses came fast. The first draft was done in about 6 weeks. I was full of ideas, plot twists and creativity. But now it comes to writing the second book in the Erlanis Chronicles and I find myself stumped at every turn and have to think outside the square to avoid repeating scenes, predictable plots and duplicated phrases.

It is difficult, really difficult. With your first manuscript you could write whatever you wanted. With the second, you have to make sure it matches up with the first. Throwaway lines that you think nothing of, now have to be justified and in some cases, this can be incredibly difficult.

How do you avoid the dreaded second book block? Here are a few things I wish I had known while writing the first book of a series:

  • When choosing dates or time frames, eras etc do a bit of research to find out if it will be difficult to back up what you've send in the first book. e.g. perhaps rethink creating something such as the witch hunts of 200AD when there is limited reference material to be able to do the story line justice. In hindsight, I would have perhaps picked something a little closer to present day so I didn't have to write 2000 years of ancestry. It takes a long, long time.
  • When writing the first book, think ahead to your subsequent books in the series and perhaps draft up a basic arc so you know where things are going and don't use all the best twists and turns for one book. 
  • Think about your character's motivations. Once you get past the initial hero and heroine's primary motivation of falling in love and hopefully living happily ever after, what do they want next?

The main thing, in my opinion, is to think ahead. Think about how something would work in subsequent books, and how difficult it might be to go in to more detail or find research material.

I myself, have started yet another project, whether it is because of having too many ideas or if I'm just putting off writing the second book!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Spring Fling Blog Hop - Spring has Sprung!


Hello to all the readers, hoppers and writers!

Spring is sprung, the grass is ris, I wonder where the birdies is...

The Spring Fling Blog Hop is kindly brought to you by the generous hosts Jennifer Conner, Danica Winters and Sharon Kleve. 

To celebrate the wonderful season of Spring, they are giving away a new Kindle Paperwhite and a $25 Amazon Gift Card! And I have a little gift as well. I'm giving away a $10 Evernight Teen Gift Card!

Today I'd like to introduce my latest release, the first in the Erlanis Chronicles, Of Fire & Roses. A YA paranormal romance.



Nathaniel West’s mother is dead, his father a lost cause. Anger has become a way of life, until he meets and falls in love with Cora Ewell. Only Cora has a secret, one that could kill them both.

An age old dark magic resurfaces and it becomes a race against time for Cora and Nate to find the long buried secrets to saving everyone they love and each other.

After a near fatal accident leaves Nate in limbo, he must find a way to get through to Cora before time runs out and she is forced into life eternal with the evil wizard, Elias Stafford.



Spring is the season of love, so what better time to get into a new romance novel!

For your chance to win the above prizes, all you need to do is leave a comment on my blog telling me how you celebrate Spring. Don't forget to leave your contact details so I can contact you if you win!

While you are here, please feel free to sign up to my blog to receive all the latest news, read fun blogs and keep up to date on my new series. 

Winners will be announced after March 11th, 2014.  For more chances to win these great prizes and more by all the other great bloggers, go to:




Saturday, 1 March 2014

RELEASE DAY - Lone Wolf's Captive by Sherilee Gray


 I'm so excited announce this fabulous new release from incredibly talented author, Sherilee Gray. 



Published by Escape Publishing

He let her father chase him off once, but this time nothing is getting in his way.
Fletcher Stone was forced out of the pack life, and now he makes his living as a hired thug, living day-to-day without honour or commitments. Shame over his choices and his lifestyle keep him from returning to the pack to claim Delaney — the woman who holds his heart. But when a rival pack hires him to kidnap her, Fletcher takes his chance. Now he must convince her that he never wanted to leave…and reveal a betrayal that will break her heart.
Delaney Jones has spent the last five years convinced the man she loves is dead. Nothing else would keep him from her. So when Fletcher shows up, whole, healthy, and very much alive, she’s devastated — and pissed off. He broke her heart once and he's never going to get close enough to do it again.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Sherilee Gray’s always had a big (some may say warped) imagination, and as a kid scared herself conjuring up tales full of terrifying creatures. All grown up, she still has the big imagination and monsters in her stories… only now they’re chasing their happily ever after. Based in beautiful New Zealand with her extremely supportive husband and their two children, she spends her time writing, hoarding books, and eating copious amounts of chocolate.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 22 February 2014

AUTHOR VS FAMILY - Don't Tell Me I Can't Have Both (I'll bite your ankles!)

Now that the short joke is out of the way, on to the serious stuff.

If I knew then what I know now, I don’t think I would have got past the first paragraph of the first draft for Of Fire & Roses. But perhaps my naivety (and possibly pregnancy hormones) worked in my favour. 

So at 6 months pregnant, with a toddler and an office job an hour away from my rural home I decided to make number 1 on my bucket list a reality. 

Some would call this heroic, others might refer to it as suicidal. “What are you thinking?” Their panicked voices rang out. My answer to that- there are 24 usable hours in every day.

So I embarked on writing the first draft of “Of Fire & Roses”.  I was writing when I got up in the morning, during the day and the last thing I would do at night. On the bus on my way to work I had 45 minutes to scribble notes down on any kind of writing material I could find; the back of old envelopes, business cards, old shopping lists, even the odd napkin. In roughly 6 weeks, I had a full manuscript in my hands.

I received my first round of edits from my publisher the day my second daughter came into the world. Throw in a newborn right before my first novel is published and things turn 500 shades of crazy.


It never occurred to me that I might fail. I have discovered if you want something bad enough, you will find a way.

However! That being said, there is a very fine line of doing everything and neglecting your family to the point of breakdown and this is where the balancing act comes in. It took me standing in the driveway of our beach shack at 1.30am when our 8 week old wouldn’t stop screaming, watching my husband drive off with said baby saying I was putting this book before my family.

I shut the laptop lid without a sound, unhooked the Ethernet cable, and re-evaluated my current goals. My babies were growing up before my eyes and I was missing it, not to mention a husband who was not feeling the love.

So how can you have a family AND a writing career?

First and foremost, your family comes first. You don’t want to miss your baby’s first smiles or other milestones because you have your head buried so far into your laptop your counting words in your sleep and burping adverbs.

There are 3 little words that I have printed in 72 point bold on my fridge for when my 2 year old is wailing at me and digging through the pantry at 3pm because she hasn’t had lunch yet.

It. Can. Wait.

The earth won’t stop spinning if you don’t finish that blog post right then and there.  Not every single reader that is going to buy the book will do so the second it is released so you don’t have to do everything right now.

Utilise time when no one is around.  Get up an hour or two before everyone else. These are golden moments when you can take your time.  Have a plan so you know what you are going to do in those moments you do get to work and don’t waste those precious minutes.

Multi-task. God’s gift to you that allows you to do more than one thing at a time.



Finally,  and probably most importantly, remember you are a writer, not a blogger. Make time to write. Everyday. Be it 5 minutes or 5 hours. Otherwise you can fall in to the trap of spending all your time writing blogs, trawling Facebook and Twitter and checking rankings when you should be penning your next masterpiece.

So I’ve made my peace with the craziness of life, learnt to chill out and not take everything so seriously.  I roll with the punches and with the odd exception, try to take everything in my stride.


So these days, I can usually be found sitting on the lounge, computer resting on my lap, coffee within arms reach, rocking a baby chair with my foot juggling play doh in one hand, sending a text message with the other while using voice dictation on the computer.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 16 February 2014

CAUTION! AWESOME BOOK ALERT! Presenting "FINDING EVAN", by Lisa Swallow

I am so proud and honoured to call this incredible author my friend. Her books are full of diverse characters who you laugh with, cry with and occasionally want to smack around the head.  



18776145

Book title: Finding Evan by Lisa Swallow
Series: Butterfly Days #2
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Release date: January 15, 2014
Hosted by: Forever Me Romance




“She killed a part of me – the part which trusts when someone tells you they love you, and allows you to trust that person with your heart.” 

Ness and Evan return to Leeds from Europe, and begin their new life together. But the past Evan has buried for years resurfaces and threatens their future. 

After fifteen years, Evan doesn’t want any contact with the woman who abandoned him, but is unwillingly pulled into his mother’s life by Lucy. 

Feeling pushed aside by Ness’s focus on her studies and new friends, Evan can’t confide in Ness about what’s happening. This return to his old behavior adds more distance to their relationship. When Ness’s new friend Ollie picks up the pieces because Evan is away, Evan’s insecurities threaten their relationship further. 

Ness becomes aware of Evan’s situation, and she questions whether he will ever be able to break his ties to those dragging him down. If he can’t put himself first, and live the life he wants, she is unable to see how their relationship could work. In return, Evan struggles with Ness’s inability to get close to people, and her distance pushes him further away. 

The decision about the future of the relationship is taken out of their hands - by something that could end things between Ness and Evan forever…


Book 1 - Because of Lucy Excerpt

     I side step the sink and turn. A guy leans against the doorframe, trying to appear nonchalant but his slackened stance indicates he’s attempting to keep himself upright. His brown hair is longer at the front and spills into his face, and unfocused brown eyes appear to be looking in my direction. He’s one of the regulars. I don’t pay a lot of attention, but he’s a good-looking guy and they never go unnoticed. 
     “Yes?” I snap. I’m so not in the mood.
      His eyes sweep my figure. Unbelievable... I straighten my sleeves and look at him with an eyebrow raised.
     “Are you Abby’s housemate?”
     “Who are you?”
     “Evan.” He rubs his nose. “You’re not a student?”
     “Correct, I am the one not lying in a drunken haze on the floor contemplating my navel.”
     Evan takes a step forward, steadying himself with one hand as my witty repartee sails over his head. “Why?”
     “Why am I not on the floor drunk?”
     “Why aren’t you a student?”
     “Because I work instead.”
     “Hmm.” He pauses and grasps onto the sink, searching for a glass. I pass him the spare one. 
     “Did you fail?”
     “Fail what?”
     Evan fills the glass. “Or are you just not smart enough for uni? What is it you do?” He gulps the water in three mouthfuls then wipes his mouth with his hand.
     Arrogant wanker.
     “That’s right, I’m not smart enough. I’m living with Abby until I can find a nice man to marry then I can have 2.4 kids and a house in the suburbs. Because, as I’m not a student, I have no future.”
     Evan leans against the sink. “Fair enough.”
     Oh my god he believes me. How pissed is he exactly? “So, you think anyone who doesn’t go to university is inferior to you?” I demand.
     I’ve seen her friends looking down their noses at me. Inverted snobbery. On top of that, the locals hate students and the students hate locals. I’m neither. I can’t win.
     We’re close now and he stinks of alcohol and pot, a faint hint of deodorant lingering on his clothes. Evan’s T-shirt has come untucked and rides up as he leans against the sink. He’s toned, evidently works out.      I can’t help myself, I check him out. Beneath his curls he has deep brown eyes. Incoherent eyes. I hate to admit, but something about him is seriously sexy. Even if he is a dick. 
     “Well, if you’ll excuse me,” I say. 
     He sniggers. 
     “What’s funny?” 
     “You sound like the Queen.”
     Not this again. I get enough crap at work. I move from Cheltenham to Yorkshire and suddenly I’m ‘stuck up home counties girl’. I don’t dignify his comment with an answer and turn away from him, and walk out of the  kitchen.
     “Want me to get the guy out of your bed?” he calls after me.
     I stop and look round. “You know him?”
     “I could replace him.”
     My mouth drops open at his arrogance. An attempt at a flirtatious smile plays around his lips but the unfocused eyes kill the effect he’s trying to achieve. He’s serious. I imagine he has a ready supply of eager girls. No surprise with a body and looks like his, such a shame he needs a personality transplant. 
     I step towards him. “Evan. I am not pissed. Nor are you getting into my bed. Good night.” Feeling happy with my retort, I saunter towards the stairs. Behind me, Evan impersonates my sentence with an exaggerated posh accent.
     It’s a good thing that I’m sober otherwise I’d go back there and punch him.



Book 1 - Because of Lucy


Book 2 - Finding Evan

B&N






Lisa is an author of new adult romance and writes both paranormal and contemporary, often with a side of snark. In between running a business, looking after her family and writing, Lisa sometimes finds spare time to do other things. This often involves swapping her book worlds for gaming worlds. She even leaves the house occasionally. Lisa loves all things from the Whedonverse and preferred vampires before they sparkled. 
Lisa has four books published: the ‘Butterfly Days’ series, and two in her urban fantasy series Soul Ties. She is currently working on a new contemporary romance series Blue Phoenix and the first book, Summer Sky is due for release in April. Lisa is originally from the UK but moved to Australia in 2001 and now lives in Perth in Western Australia with her husband, three children and dog.



a Rafflecopter giveaway