I think I need a day off.
image credit: imdb.com
This will mean everything to you folks of my generation. It will mean nothing to those who didn't see the original.
I think I need a day off.
Here is a recap of things on my mind!
Love YA books? Don't forget to enter the Young Adult Giveaway Hop that runs Jan. 27th- 31st. Find it in my last post!
photo credit: Ben Ellis, shared Creative Commons on Flickr
For your listening pleasure, I've inserted a music clip from my favorite band, Kings of Leon. They are covering a song originally recorded by The Pixies. If you recognize it, it might be because this Pixies song was on the Fight Club soundtrack.
UPDATE: Kathryn H is the winner of Abandon. Thanks for entering!
Judge a Book by Its Cover Contest
I would love to see The Waiting Booth win! The Houston Bay Area chapter of RWA is hosting its very first Reader's Choice open rating contest! Reader judging will start January 23, 2012 and end on February 1, 2012. The Waiting Booth is in the Young Adult category. There are 18 entries. If you click through and rate them, it only takes a minute to vote. The first place prize is a print ad in a national magazine, RWR.
Photo used under Creative Commons, Flicker.com, kalyan02
Dodging the Time Suck Bullet
We’re talking about time management today. I have two confessions to make. The first is that I “borrowed’ that title from a phrase used by the witty Gloria Richard. Here’s my second confession: Juggling social media is just plain hard. Sometimes, it gets me down. Then I decide to suck it up and either do it or NOT. Whiners don’t make it far. CLICK HERE to read more of my guest post at Gloria Richard's blog.
On Monday, February 13th, you should post your own origin story. Tell us all where your writing dreams began. It could be anything from how you started making up stories as a child, or writing for the school newspaper, or even what prompted you to start a blog. How about stories about the first time somebody took an interest in your writing, or the teacher/mentor that helped nudge you along and mold your passion, or maybe the singular moment when you first started calling yourself a writer. It all started somewhere and we want you to tell us your own, unique, beginnings.
I'm so excited to welcome a gifted author to my blog today. Steve Emmett published his horror novel Diavolino with Etopia Press and I rushed to download it. I wasn't disappointed in the chills I got while reading his debut novel. I asked if he'd like to visit with me where I could find out more about his writing.
Steve, you've had some exciting reviews and events with the release of Diavolino. Can you tell us about your experience with your debut novel?
Steve: I’d had my share of rejections and had almost become immune to them. I had really bad influenza in October 2010 and had to take to bed – a rare event for me – but one morning I dragged myself to my study and checked my emails. There was one from Etopia Press. I read how much they liked my writing, the story and so on, and it was only when I got to the end I realised I hadn’t come across the words ‘unfortunately’ or ‘however’. I read it again and saw that I’d completely missed their offer! I can honestly say that my life changed that day. I’d longed to be a published writer and deep down felt it would happen, but you still doubt as time goes by.
I had a great editor in Patricia La Barbera and my first experience of working with a professional editor was genuinely a lot of fun. I learned a lot, too. Then there was the cover art; Annie Melton (the big cheese at Etopia) sent me two versions and they were both stunning. We disagreed about which one to use. Annie won. She was right! After all of that, there were more edits to make sure nothing had slipped through, then the release as an e-book in February 2011.
I knew nothing about e-publishing, frankly, and was surprised to find that I had to do a lot of hands on promo work myself in places like Twitter and FaceBook, but Annie was great, always there to advise and point me in the right direction. I was a bit taken aback when I got a mention on ClassicFM, which is one of the biggest nationwide radio stations in the UK, on release day. The scariest thing of all was getting reviews from total strangers. It seems I needn’t have worried. Aside from a couple of people, everyone has been full of praise. On Amazon.co.uk there are currently 31 reviews of which 28 are 5* and 2 are 4*.
Recently, I’ve had to proof the galleys for the paperbacks. That was strange reading Diavolino again after all this time and having worked on other projects since. Just as well I still liked it! Having the paperbacks is important to me as, especially here in the UK, not everyone is yet into e-books.
You also have a horror short story called Kid that sounds just as frightening as Diavolino. How did the idea for this story come to you?
Steve: To be perfectly honest, Kid was written for a British horror magazine but at the last minute they ran out of space (or so they said). It seemed a shame to let it languish on the hard drive of my computer so I decided to make it a bit longer and see if I could do something with it. The actual story idea had been in my head for months, but until I had the request from the magazine I had never written what I call ‘gore fest’ material. Kid leaves us unsure what to think, how to feel; I like to play with ambiguity.
What is your current writing project?
Steve: I hesitate to answer because I have two on the go. I suppose the ‘A’ project is a horror novel set in Rome. It’s about ancient Roman emperor gods, vampires, guilt and sin. I’d like to have the first draft ready by mid-March if I can. Project ‘B’ is a darkly depressing psychological contemporary thriller. Can I say that?
Do you have a story idea that you'd like to write in a genre besides horror?
Steve: Oh yes! I’ve already written two chapters. It’s a humorous story about a hapless British real estate agent selling houses in Italy, and the incredible wacky characters and crooks he has to deal with. Yep – it’s quite autobiographical; you would not believe the people I met when I was in that business!
You are also a writing coach. How does that work and what's the most difficult thing for a new writer to improve in their writing?
Steve: When I decided to write I was aware that I had no idea how to write fiction. I’m a firm believer in the old saying ‘if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ so I decided to take a course. It was my ex-tutor who said to me a few months ago, ‘Time you started tutoring, Steve.’ I thought about it, realised how much I enjoyed helping other writers, how much they said I’d helped them, and decided to give it a go. I set up http://thewritingcouch.com/ where people can get information on what I do, and I work entirely by email so my ‘students’ can be anywhere in the world. I’m a one man band, so I can’t handle lots of people at the same time but, on the other hand, students get personal attention.
New writers invariably stumble over pacing and fall into the trap of giving too much detail. I’m always saying, ‘Do we need to know this? If not, get rid of it and get the story moving.’
Not only are you an accomplished author, you've also spent time as an actor. Do you feel that your acting background has made you a better writer and if yes, how so?
Steve: I’m not sure which is the egg and which the chicken. To act you have to get right inside the character you’re playing, become that person. A good writer has to do the same thing with the characters he or she is writing about. The two roles help each other, of that I have no doubt whatsoever, but it’s worth noting that not all actors can write, and not all writers can act. The important thing for a writer is to be creative and to do things that stimulate your creativity. Acting does that for me.
Now, here are a couple of fun questions about you personally and not so much about your writing. You're in a plane that crashes on a deserted island. You have to spend the rest of your days with 5 people who were also on the plane. Who would you like to spend it with? You can choose people you know or famous people.
Steve: Five? That’s an awful lot! Well, look, I have to have my partner because I can’t live a day without him, not even after fourteen years. And I’ll not sleep tonight if I miss off my son who is the other man in my life (though I do feel guilty inflicting the situation on them). Which leaves me with three, right? Jeesh. *drums table with fingers* Oh, I guess Robinson Crusoe would already know much of what we’d have to do in order to survive! And Oscar Wilde would entertain us and provide stimulating conversation. I’m thinking of protecting ourselves, hunting, forest survival I guess…hmm… Robin Hood!
I've never traveled to England, and I'm fascinated by your country. If I were to visit England, what is the most interesting thing you would take me to visit and why?
Steve: London is the greatest city in the world. Yes, I can hear the protests, but let me tell you I know many cities and I love them, but London does pip the lot. It has a rich history with ancient sites, ghosts, traditions – plus some of the most spectacular modern architecture in the world. If I could have you for just a short time, I’d take you on a boat trip down the Thames from which you’d get the most spectacular sights. You’d be chomping at the bit to get your map out and investigate further. Come on, Brinda! Get over here, I want to show you! Let me take you by the hand and lead you…oh, no, that’s another guest, isn’t it. *blushes*
Blogging buddies are the best, and I feel lucky to be hanging out at Alex Cavanaugh's blog today. Alex is a generous blogger who promotes friendship and support with the Insecure Writer's Support Group. He's also the author of a cool sci-fi series. CassaStar is in the reading queue on my iPad and CassaFire is coming soon. CLICK HERE TO VISIT me at Alex's where I talk about movies that influenced my teen interest in sci-fi.
I recently talked with my friend Alana about steampunk. Alana is an avid reader, and I always enjoy getting her recommendations and discussing our current reads. If you were here yesterday, you know I'm listening to the audiobook for Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Alana remarked that she knew about steampunk fashion but not about the fiction genre. I recommended that she read Soulless by Gail Carriger. I enjoyed Carriger's witty dialogue and her turn of a phrase. Although my friend Alana is not a fan of vampire and werewolf books, I felt that the paranormal aspect was all very secondary to the interaction between the characters in a steampunk Victorian England. I've inserted a trailer at the bottom that is fan-made. I've read that Carriger liked it and placed it on her website. She has a lot on her website, so I could not verify that.
So, what is steampunk? It's an attitude mixed with lots of adventure and steam technology. That is MY definition. And it really doesn't encompass all that steampunk can be. I took a class on writing steampunk where I could prepare myself for the YA steampunk novel I have in my head. The class was taught by Suzanne Lazear and was very lively. My classmates already knew a lot about steampunk. Here is an old blog post by Suzanne on the definition of steampunk: http://www.castlesandguns.com/2010/11/guest-blogger-suzanne-lazear.html
If you want to know more about steampunk, I highly recommend that you visit one of these blogs: http://ageofsteam.wordpress.com/writing-steampunk/ or http://steampunk-links.blogspot.com/ . Also, don't forget to watch the very short but entertaining trailer for Soulless.
My TBR (to-be-read) list on Goodreads.com continues to grow. My username on this site is http://www.goodreads.com/brin145. I also have an author page with The Waiting Booth listed. Look me up if you'd like to friend me or add my book to your list. Here are the books I am currently reading:
I'm listening to this audiobook during the daily commute...
BLURB from Goodreads.com:
Cherie Priest's much-anticipated steampunk debut has finally arrived in the form of a paperback original. Its plot features the sort of calibrated suspense that readers of her Four and Twenty Blackbirds would expect.Boneshaker derives its title from the Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, a device designed to give Russian prospectors a leg up in the race for Klondike gold. Unfortunately, there was one hitch: On its trial run, the Boneshaker went haywire and, long story short, turned much of Seattle into a city of the dead. Now, 16 years later, a teenage boy decides to find out what is behind that mysterious wall. Can his mother save him in time? Zombie lit of the first order.
I'm reading this on the iPad while walking on the treadmill...
BLURB from Goodreads.com:
A man from another time...
Faelan is from an ancient clan of Scottish Highland warriors, charged with shielding humanity from demonic forces. Betrayed and locked in a time vault, he has been sleeping for nearly two centuries when spunky historian Bree Kirkland inadvertently wakes him. She's more fearsome than the demon trying to kill him, and if he's not careful, she'll uncover the secrets his clan has bled and died to protect...
Could be the treasure she's been seeking all her life...
When Bree inherits an old treasure map, she discovers a warrior buried in her backyard. But the warrior isn't dead. Bree shocks Faelan with her modern dress and her boldness, and he infuriates Bree every time he tries to protect her.
With demons suddenly on the move, Bree discovers that Faelan's duty as protector is in his blood, and that her part in this fight was destined before she was born. But nothing is ever what it seems...
This weekend, I purchased CassaStar by Alex Cavanaugh for my next "treadmill" book on my iPad. I purchased four audiobooks today since Audible.com is having a sale for members: My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley, Area 51 by Annie Jacobsen, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.
What are you reading these days?
There is a service that I've used for a while that will shorten your long web addresses and allow you to track access. The website called Bitly.com is one you can use without creating an account. There is an advantage to having your own account. If you are logged in, you can see all the shortened URLs you have created. You can also click on any one of those and analyze the access. I recently blogged about kinetic typography and inserted a link shortened from Bitly.com for the sole purpose of tracking clicks on that link. I can tell you that 15 readers clicked on the link within my post.
This is the home screen. You paste the URL in the blue box to shorten it.
On Bitly.com, you can also bundle several links together in a package. Let's say I wanted to recommend books from different authors. I could bundle those website pages into a single link. Here is an example of a bundled link: BOOKS TO READ IN 2012. All clicks on each link in the bundle would then be tracked. The beauty is that I can add to this bundled list at any time. I can post it to Facebook or tweet it as this: bitly.com/zI852e. Then each link can be tracked for clicks.
I've blogged on QR codes in the past as a marketing tool. CLICK HERE to see all past posts on QR codes. I know you think I'm obsessed with these things. Really, I'm not. I think people need to know what they are and how easy it is to create them. The Bitly.com site will also automatically create your QR code and track how many clicks and the source of the visitor. This QR code leads to the Amazon page for Alex Cavanaugh's debut novel, CassaStar. You can test it with your Smartphone or iPad QR code reader. If you don't have one, I linked the image at the left to the URL where you can just click on it to see what would happen with the reader.
Bitly is one more free tool out there that may the solution to your marketing or blogging dilemmas. In the past, I didn't log in when using the service because I didn't care about the tracking. I would use it to shorten a URL that seemed to stretch on for miles. Now that I have a book on the market, I'm more interested in what leads to a "click" and what doesn't.