Monday, December 31, 2012

Amazon bans authors reviewing other authors on its site

In the past couple of years there have been several instances of authors posting glowing reviews of their own books on Amazon under fake names to promote themselves. This has been dubbed "sock puppeting" and after several complaints from other authors and the public Amazon has decided to crack down on it by banning authors from reviewing other authors who write the same genre as they do. Authors can still review books as long as they are not in the same genre they write in and - this is what really makes me mad - are positive and fit Amazon's guidelines.

So even if you hate a book if you want to review it you will have to put more stars then you think it deserves. How is this fair and honest? How is this a good thing? Amazon is treating all the authors of the world like they are children. "Now now," said Amazon. "Can we play nice, please, children? Anyone who says something nasty will have to go to their room!"

It seems that the humble review has become a bit of a weapon. Now anything below five stars is viewed as "trolling" and the reviewer can be targeted to an online hate campaign for attacking an author and trying to damage their career all with a simple honest review. Amazon thinks if an author reviews another author who writes in their genre that should be considered a "conflict of interest" and that they cannot be impartial about their views.

Oh please. Can NO ONE handle honest criticism anymore? Do we all have to hold hands as authors and constantly pat each other on the back and say "Good job!" and pretend to be friends? Is it so wrong to be honest and to point out each others flaws? Do we really want to live in a world where negative reviews are not allowed? Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Shouldn't we be able to say "I didn't like that book and here are the reasons why..." without being thrown off a site or bullied on facebook and youtube?

On the other side of the coin is authors who really are using reviews as weapons. I'm talking about people who have not read a book but target other authors because they might see them as competition or they might have posted a negative review of their ow work and want revenge. This is childish behavior and should be stopped. But forcing all authors to post "only positive" reviews is not that answer. Do not stifle the free speech of everyone because a couple of big babies don't know how to act like mature adults on the internet.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Death of Capitals

As a writer I am a bit of a grammar Nazi. My spelling and grammar is not always perfect. I make mistakes like anyone else. But if there is one I always do it is start my frigging sentences with capitals, people! I've been noticing a trend of people forgetting or choosing not to use capitals and it really, really bugs me.

It's not just people forgetting to use capitals. When people write in textspeak (which I've ranted about in the past) and combine it with bad grammar they might as well be speaking in another language because I cannot understand them. It's like young/stupid people have their own version of the English now. Is this what getting old feels like? Eventually I'll probably need someone to translate young people speak for me.

When I see people write without capitals I really do want to start waving my arms around and ranting and raving. It's just so lazy. I especially hate it when celebrities do it because I think it sets a horrible example. It also makes the person come off in my opinion as dumb and uneducated. In reality I know they are just lazy.

Is it so hard to write you instead of u or to press the caps key when you start a sentence? If I wasn't a writer this probably would not bother me so much...

In other news it has been a real slow year for me writing wise. I suffered from a lot of writers block and a lot of real life drama got in the way and my muse packed her bags and went on vacation. I'm experimenting with short stories at the moment and taking it easy and waiting for inspiration to strike for my next big project. I do have one short story being subbed around so fingers crossed I find a happy home for it!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Big babies on the internet: Why can't authors handle bad critiques anymore?

There sees to be an increasing numbers of authors chuckling tantrums on the internet over bad critiques. No one can handle honest criticism anymore. I read one story about a fellow author who reviewed another book. She gave it two and a half stars and kindly listed its bad and good points. An honest, good review.

The author of the book she reviewed complained to Amazon, got her review pulled down, and did a "revenge" review of her book in an attempt to tarnish her sales.

How fucking childish is that? I've heard of authors complaining to reviewers that they did not "read their book right" after receiving a less than stellar review. What the hell? How can you read a book wrong? If they misunderstand anything then it's your fault Mr-knickers-in-a-twist. Why don't you stop whinging and listen to what they have to say? You might learn something and improve as a writer.

I've struggled to accept bad reviews in the past. I've had some harsh ones. It is natural to want to defend your book. I've done it in the past. I'm not proud of it. I've never done it to a reviewer though. I've done it to people who have been kind enough to critique me. But I've learned from those lessons. I've been childish in the past. Easily hurt. Offended. I try to be more mature now. Now when people critique me on line I address all their points, good and bad, and attempt to see things through their eyes. And you know what? By swallowing my pride and listening to others I really feel like I have improved a lot as a writer.

Every writer must learn how to accept criticism. A bad review is not an attack on you or your writing. Do yourself a favor and stop reading reviews of your books all together if the temptation to respond to them is too strong for you. Be professional.

Should teenagers read "adult" romances?

God, I really hate Fifty Shades of Grey. Morning chat shows waffle on about it as if it invented the erotica genre. They talk about the author and her rise to success and how "You TOO could achieve her success!" by doing these ten simple steps. This morning they spoke about a book being labelled "Fifty Shades of Grey for teenagers" and asked the question...gasp...should our precious children be reading that sort of filth?

What annoys me is they seem to think that every romance book out there at the moment is identical to Fifty Shades of Grey and contains nothing but sex, sex, sex. Wrong. Yes, there are a lot of FSOFG clones out at the moment, but do not think for one second that every romance author out there right now is desperate to jump onto the erotica band wagon.

The book they mentioned was about a 16 year old girl who has to chose between two young boys who are both battling to win her affections. They made no mention whatsoever that it contained sex scenes similar to those featured in Fifty Shades of Grey. The title Irresistible, the front cover of a man unbuttoning his shirt, and the premise of a 16 year old girl having sex was apparently enough to throw this book into the "porn" category for them.

The reason, apparently, why the book is being marketed as an age appropriate alternative to Fifty Shades of Grey is because some bunch of old, disconnected adults somewhere think the teenagers would relate to the book better because the characters are teenagers like them. They then went on to say how it would better for them to read books like Irresistible, erotica novels tailored for their age group, than adult novels.

Um...why? I started reading romance novels (bodice rippers) when I was 14. My mother gave them to me. I did not want to read about teenagers and their boring, stupid lives. I wanted to read about cowboys, Indians, sexy space men, sexy vampires! I wanted to read fantasies! The books I read could not have been more adult. They had big strapping men on the front hugging women to their chest while on the deck of a boat. I still remember trying to hide the front cover with my hands while I tried to read one of my bodice rippers on the bus.

Listening to some stupid old man this morning on the tv say "Do we really want children as young as ten reading fifty shades of grey?" really made me mad because he is comparing all romance books to one badly written, fucked up trilogy that showcases sexual violence.

I really hate how we live in a society that wants to shield young children, and even teenagers, from sex as if it is some shameful, terrible secret. It makes me mad. I would not recommend Fifty Shades of Grey to my future children, because I think it's crap, but if they want to read it I will not stop them. I would let them make their own decision. Once their done I would recommend a dozen betters books though.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Good or bad writing? Discussing the Paranormal Activity Films

I am a big fan of the Paranormal Activity films. I know a lot of people think they are boring and they hate waiting for something to happen. Not me. The long periods where nothing happens are some of the most frightening parts of the film for me because you sit there all tense. When something does happen and it is usually something simple like a door slamming shut it really startles me!

One of the things I love most about these films is how simple they are. They do not have big expensive sets or waste a lot of money on make up. They rely on things like music, lighting, sound, good acting and a clever script to build up tension.

I hate horror films that are nothing but blood baths or ones that use too much computer animation or bad rubber masks. One of the things I found the most scary about the first paranormal activity film was their clever use of thumping footsteps coming up and down the stairs. So simple, so bloody scary!

There's been four paranormal activity films now. I still enjoy them...despite their flaws. They've written themselves into a hole and they know it. Every film is the same as the last one: some weird stuff starts happening in a house, the occupants freak out and start filming it, the activity gets worse...eventually resulting in the death of one or more of the people in the house.

The people behind these films sure do know how to keep people coming back for more. They are experts at dragging out the plot. It's very frustrating. Each film always reveals something new...and leaves more questions begging to be answered. These films are a lot like the tv show "LOST" : lots of good ideas get thrown around, crash into each other, fall over...and nothing really gets answered.

And yet I still like them. I know the writing is not the best (and at the same time is still clever), but I don't care. These films are like popcorn. Good, silly fun. I hope they stay good and don't turn dumb like the Scream films did.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Does writing with an outline kill the creative process?

I spend a lot of time planning a project before I begin the writing process. It starts with me going online to find inspiration. Once I have the seeds of an idea I will write a paragraph or two of raw thoughts. From there I'll write a list of characters. Next step is a detailed page long biography for each character. I sometimes skip that step. One thing I don't skip though is writing the outline.

The outline acts as the skeleton of the book. It is the path I will take. A lot of the time I will stray from that path because as I write the book the characters come alive and might go in a different direction or the plot might evolve and go in an exciting (or sometimes wrong) place than I intended.

An outline can be both a good thing to have and something that can kill the creative process in me. I've written without outlines in the past and have gone galloping off in random, strange directions and ended up with an end project over 1,000 pages long.

And I've written with incredibly detailed outlines colour coded for each different plot line and character.

I don't think plotting is one of my strengths. Even with an outline I still hit plot troubles with Deep Embrace. Every writer needs to do some planning (or world building as it is also called) before starting a project to a certain degree. You need to know what direction you want to go in. But sometimes I overdo it. I become so obsessed with replicating what I see in my head into words that I quite often will spend hours or even days slaving over the same sentence or paragraph.

And it drives me nuts and sucks the fun out of writing. Knowing what you want to write...seeing it in your one thing. Getting it down onto paper in actual words that make sense in sentences is another.

I did something unusual for me today. I started writing without an outline. I came up with an idea "A story from Hera's point of view!" and I left Hera appear in the location that she wanted and from there a whole story appeared before me. It didn't take me hours of planning. I just put my fingers to the keyboard and let Hera appear and start talking.

And god it was like someone took a massive weight off me. Since I didn't know what I wanted to write the words flowed from my fingertips and onto the screen because there was nothing standing in their way shouting "No! No! This is not the way I pictured this scene!"

Sometimes you just have to write. Forget about being perfect. Forget about getting that scene just right. Just let it happen. Let the story unfold like a beautiful flower and take shape on its own. You don't have to be in control of everything. Take a deep breath. Let go. And write. You might be surprised what you create.

My new short story is called When I Look Into Your Eyes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Show Don't Tell! You should know this rule JK Rowling!

I tried to start JK Rowling's new book the other day. I'm up to chapter three and I honestly do not know if I will be able to read much more. The first chapter was terrible. The opening line was boring and did not hook me at all. And that is unacceptable, JK Rowling. You're the author of the frigging Harry Potter books! You should know how to write a good opening hook! Telling me that "So and so did not want to go out to dinner" is not good enough.

The entire first chapter was written in past tense and in what is called "Telling". One of the biggest rules of writing is to SHOW DON'T TELL which means do not tell me that Barry does not want to go out to dinner, Ms Rowling. Paint me a picture with words of him slouched in a chair, holding his keys, and looking reluctant to get up and leave with his wife. He has a headache? Don't TELL me. Show me wiping sweat off his brow. Show me him groaning. Show me him rubbing his forehead. Make me feel like I am there.

The first chapter was boring and so badly written I almost found it hard to believe that JK Rowling, my idol for over ten years, wrote it. What happened? Where did that spark go? If I posted that first chapter for critique on the internet I would be told to rewrite the whole thing from scratch. It irritated me so much I almost felt like rewriting it myself simply because I wanted to read a better version of it!

Why is it so bad? Obviously, it's not my cuppa tea. But I'm wondering if it's JK Rowling's, either. I think she's writing out of her genre. Her talent lies in fantasy and I think she needs to go back to what she does best. Why not write an adult fantasy novel? I can understand her desire to do something so radically different after being hand cuffed to HP for so many stressful long years. I really can. But this book is bad. There was nothing to hook me in the first opening 50 pages. It's boring and I quickly lost track of who the characters were.

Go back to writing fantasy, JK Rowling. Let your imagination sour. And write a better opening hook next time!

And then they lived happily ever after

A month ago I finished reading John Marsdens' "Tomorrow" series of young adult books. The series has 7 books in it and is about Ellie Linton, an Australian teenager, who is forced into becoming a freedom fighter with her friends when Australia is invaded and occupied by an enemy army.

As an Australian I was fascinated and horrified by this series of books and forced to ask myself the question "What if this really happened?" The idea of someone invading my home country is alien and shocking and frightening to me. It made me question a lot of things and realize just how sheltered and naive I am to think that it could never happen.

In the last book Ellie is separated from her friends and is told by the enemy that they were all killed in combat. Ellie is forced to ride out the rest of the war alone and find her parents herself. I was horrified when I got to this point in the books. "How could the rest of them be dead?!" I began searching the internet for spoilers to find out if it was true or not. I found out it wasn't.

Sure enough, the last book ends happily, Ellie is told her friends are alive and were just imprisoned. She is reunited with them and the whole book ends on a high note.

And it was a terrible ending. Yeah, sure, it was what I wanted. But it wasn't realistic and it was a cop out. It was giving the reader what they wanted. And that is not always the best thing for a writer to do. It would have been more realistic for her friends to remain dead and for Ellie to have to find the strength to go on by herself in life.

The "Tomorrow" series was a dark, gritty, fast-paced read. It was shocking, gripping, and was an honest reflection of the horrors of war. John Marsden did not hold back. I liked that. Which makes the ending all the more odd. It didn't fit with the style of the rest of the series. It was too...perfect. Too fitting. Unrealistic. Too nice.

Do we always need a happily ever after ending? Can readers handle a "And then they picked up the shattered pieces of their lives and tried to move on" ending?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My muse has gone to a happy place

When I was in school I was bullied a lot and didn't know how to make friends. I distrusted everyone around me and those who were nice I always wondered "Why are they talking to me?" and assumed that it was a trick or a dare of some sort. I withdrew into myself and became more and more comfortable with my own company. I stopped wanting to make friends and started writing.

I started telling stories out of loneliness. I made my own make believe friends who would later become the characters in my first novel. I am so glad that I woke up one day and decided "I'm going to be a writer!" because I honestly think if I hadn't had made that decision I might have gotten really depressed as a child. High school and primary school were difficult for me. Escaping into writing saved me. It gave me something to focus on, something to think about, a goal. I would go to the library at lunch and read or pull out a notebook and hand write my latest novel.

I needed to write like I need air. For a long time growing up it was my dream to one day become as popular as JK Rowling. I was so determined to be a writer I couldn't think of anyone else I wanted to do. Nothing motivated me as much as writing did. It was my passion.

In my 20's I continued to write as much as I could. I would take notepads with me to work and do work during my breaks and on the ride home on the bus. I no longer dreamed of becoming the next JK Rowling though. I was older, wiser, and knew that it must be terribly stressful to be her and decided that I didn't want success and popularity to suck the fun out of writing. Writing slowly became less of a career choice and more of a simple hobby.

It was still an escape for me. I was still desperately lonely and without a lot of friends. Things are so different for me now. I am married, living out of home, and finally have a stable job! It's just a little office position, but it pays well, the people are lovely, and I'm happy.

Over the past year I have noticed I have been writing less and less. This has worried me and got me asking "Do I still want to do this anymore?" The answer is, of course, yes - but things ARE different for me now.

Writing used to occupy my whole world because there was only ME in it. Now I have my wonderful, loving, fun husband to share my world with. I've found that I am writing less and less these days because if I have a choice between trying to write, which is difficult, or curling up on the couch with my husband I will pick my husband.

I guess I am entering a different phase of my life as a writer. My muse is still there - the passion still there - it has just gone to a happy place. I no longer write out of loneliness or a desire to have friends. In the rare moments I decide to devote time to writing (usually on the weekends when the hubby is working!) I do it because something inside me is whispering "Write! write! write!"

I need that voice to talk to me. I can force myself to write, of course, but without that URGE to want to do it, that desire, it is not fun. It is hard, hard work. Like getting blood out of a stone.

I don't want to escape from the world anymore isn't that nice? At 28 I am finally happy, truly happy, in all aspects of my life. I write now for fun. It is a hobby. I don't expect to ever make any real money from it. I don't care anymore. I don't do it for that. I do it because when my characters sing to me it is the best feeling in the world. My blood tingles.

How much writing will I do in the future? I don't know. Between studying at university, working, and planning to get pregnant next year it might be that I will start to do less and less of it. But I don't think I will ever stop being a writer. I'm just in a phase of my life at the moment when it is not the most important thing for me. I need some inspiration. But I'm not going to go chasing it. Because I believe it is best to sit back and let it come to me. I have every faith in the world that it will too. Why? Because I am a writer. It doesn't matter if I write a dozen pages a day or a dozen words a week. As long as I have a love for the written word no one will be able to tell me I am not a writer.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

J,K Rowling's new book ruffles feathers

J.K Rowling's new book came out this past week to mixed reviews. I've bought it on ebook and will get round to it once I finish reading the Ellie Chronicles by John Marsden. I'm looking forward to it. I know it's not Harry Potter and I know it's going to be very, very different. I've heard that it's full of porn and sex and swearing and I'm not bothered by that at all. I'm a big girl. I can handle a little bit of swearing and sex. Other people though...

There's been a lot of pearl clutching over this book. A lot of people have been massively turned off by the "unlikable" characters and all of the sex and porn and swear words in it. Depsite JK stating again and again that this was NOT a children's book in any shape or form people are still so in love with her Harry Potter books a lot hoped that her new book would contain a little bit of that same magic.

Perhaps it might have been better for JK to write under a pen name? Or at least change her name to her married name? The name JK Rowling will forever be associated with the Harry Potter books. Now that those books are over perhaps it was a bad marketing move to publish under that name? A lot of people would have seen her new book and gasped and bought it without a second's notice thinking "Oh goodie! more magic!"

I read one "review" (and I use that word loosely) on Amazon the other day that said they hadn't read the whole book just half the sample chapter. They were turned off by the word fag being used to describe a cigarette (British slang) and that the book was written in British English rather than American.

I do find it curious that JK's new book was not "translated" into American English like the HP books were. I've been told in publishing not write in Australian English. I've been told that my sales will increase if I write in American.

Mum...Mom...Colour...Color...Sidewalk...Footpath.... God, it's all so much for me to understand. All those little's like a different language...

I didn't like it when my publisher said to me they wanted to change my book into American English. I didn't put up a fuss though. Privately, I was annoyed, because I don't see why such a massive change has to be done. Are American readers so sheltered that they cannot handle reading a book that has Mum instead of Mom in it?

Back to JK Rowling...I know I've said in the past that I was confident that she would be able to find success outside of Harry Potter. Now I'm not so sure. I think Harry Potter is going to haunt her until the end of her days. The press and the public are not going to be happy until she either does another HP novel or HP universe novel or some other type of children's book.

People don't like this new "darker, edgier" JK Rowling. They want Harry Potter back or something close to it. It's not that JK Rowling is not talented. She is. The problem is she channeled lightning in a bottle with Harry Potter. Will she ever be able to top it? It's looks like...not. But would she want to go through all that madness and stress again? If she's anything like me probably not. It must have been so refreshing to be able to write her new book without her publishers poking her in the back telling her "Hurry up! children all around the world are waiting!" JK Rowling has already had so much success she doesn't need anymore. I actually hope that she continues to write what she wants from this point on and doesn't give in to pressure (from the public and her publishers) to release a little bit of that old magic again.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Writing about hot topics

Should some subjects be taboo in writing? I don’t think so. Writers should have the freedom to write about whatever (and whoever) they want as long as they are factually correct, don’t plagiarise, or commit libel. How should writers handle writing about sensitive subjects? With the greatest of care. Topics like sex, religion, and race should always be treated like they’re fragile, dirt encrusted recently dug up World War Two bombs that might go off if mishandled.

I’ve always said to people that you can never please everyone in writing. Regardless of how lightly you tread there will always be someone who will find what you write offensive, bitch about it to their friends, or maybe even take it one step further and write a bad review about it on the internet. That doesn’t mean you should avoid sensitive topics like the plague. If you have an idea that revolves around something people might be sensitive about take the time to stop and think: How will people react to my story? Will they understand what I’m trying to say? Or will they misinterpret my message? Is this project worth going ahead with? There’s an old saying: any publicity is good publicity and it’s true.

What do you need to be a best selling author? Well, talent, of course. Patience, yes. A good cover would be nice. And you know what can be helpful? Public outrage. How much of a difference is there between outrage and fascination? Not much. Look at the Harry Potter books. They tip toed around a sensitive subject: religion. Despite the fact that Wicca was not featured at all in the books, calling the characters “witches” and “wizards” caused a lot of outrage among some religious groups, which gained the books attention, which gave it more media coverage, in the end helping the books to become more successful.

Outrage leads to people talking which leads to more people looking you and your books up online and maybe, if you’re lucky, an increase in sales. What do all writers want? Attention. We want to be noticed. But we have to be smart. Do you research. Don’t make an ass out of yourself. Don’t write something so racist, so stupid, so thoughtless that the publishers will run screaming from you.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

British charity group wants to do a book burning of "Fifty Shades of Grey"

A British charity, Wearside Women in Need, is planning a book burning of erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" on November the fifth. The group, which is against domestic violence, is disgusted by the book which they claim is trying to make domestic violence sexy.

I've read Fifty Shades of Grey and in my opinion it was disturbing. I know alot of people are calling it a romance and claim that all the sex in it is censensual. I didn't think it was a romance. Ana is pressured into the BDSM lifestyle and struggles to enjoy it. In several scenes she is brought to tears and she even asks Christian at one point not to beat her. He finds beating her pleasurable. He is confused and hurt that she doesn't enjoy it too. He doesn't understand her fear.

Ana participates in the lifestyle out of a fear of losing him. She is manipulated and controlled by him. He takes over her life and she just lets him do it. This is not what I would call "consenusal" sex. It is domestic violence.

I don't think this book should be banned, censored, or burned though. I don't believe in censorship. Just because I did not like "Fifty Shades of Grey" doesn't give me the right to try and stop others from reading it and possibly liking it.

Book burnings should remain a thing of the past.

Is it okay to bad mouth books online?

I've read a lot of books I haven't liked. Some I've closed in disgust at the end and regretted the time and money I spent on it. Others I've painfully forced myself to finish for some reason or another. Then there's the ones I get bored half way through, drift away, and never come back to finish them.

I almost never post reviews online. I don't think I've ever posted one on Amazon. I hear stories all the time of authors getting into fights with people on Amazon over bad reviews.

One of the biggest problems authors suffer from is arrogance. We spend hundreds of hours crafting our babies, pour our heart and soul into them, and then when we're done we bravely let go of their tiny little hand and watch them wander into traffic.

It's understandable that some of us would go all Dumbo Mum on anyone who might dare critcise our little darlings after all the work we put into giving them life.

Writing is hard. But responding to negative reviews and challening people on their opinions is wrong. It's unprofessional. Risky. Part of being an author or any kind of artist is learning how to accept critcism. Not everyone is going to like your master piece. Not everyone is going to see it through the same rose tinted glasses you have on.

Writing a bad review online is one thing...being a troll is another. If you read a book and don't like it you are entitled to write a bad review. Be fair and honest. Tell the author what you liked and what you didn't like. Don't take it one step further and start harrassing the author on social networking sites. Don't flood their inbox with hate mail. What are you trying to achieve?

Is it okay to bad mouth books online? Yes, to a degree. But when you start attacking the author, stalking them, or making their life miserable then you have over stepped the line. Pick your battles. Move on. There are bigger and better fights to pick in this world than launching crusades against authors.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Marisa Quinn Fiction Author: The YouTube channel!

I have changed what was my personal YouTube channel into the official one for myself as an author. You can find it here. The book trailer for Echoes in the Wind has been uploaded and all future book trailers will also be put on there.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New social media page

I've added a new social media page to my blog. On it you can find my facebook page link and my Goodreads page. I'll add my Twitter and (if I can figure out) a link to my Amazon page onto it tonight. You'll notice that my Goodreads page is advertising Whispers in the Dark which is out of print now. I tried to remove it and can't. Echoes in the Wind will be coming into my Goodreads page later today. I put a note on Whispers in the Dark's Goodread page informing people that it is (mostly) out of print now and the book to buy is Echoes!

Echoes in the Wind book trailer!

I present to you the Echoes in the Wind book trailer! Link is on the right hand side of the page. I finally figured out how to embed the YouTube clip on here. I'm not the sharpest pencil in the box sometimes.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Twilight fan fiction author gets 7 figure deal for erotic novel...and no it's not E.L James

Author Sylvain Reynard has signed a seven figure publishing deal with Penguin Publishing for his erotic novels Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture. The books began as Twilight fan fiction and will have a print run of 500,000 trade paper back copies. More twilight fan fiction getting published....

I shouldn't be surprised. This sort of thing happens all the time. An author will strike gold with a plot or a theme and for the next few months to a couple of years publishers will do their best to copy that author's popularity with clones.

It happened with Harry Potter. It happened when the Lord of the Rings movies came out. It happened with Anne Rice and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the "Bodice ripper" romances of the 80s and it's happening with now with erotica thanks to the success of Fifty Shades of Grey.

It's not just new authors hoping to jump onto the erotica band wagon. Publishers have started reprinting erotica novels that have been out of print for years and putting them back onto the shelves in a "Here's hoping!" moment that people will pick them up as well.

And it's not stopping there. Plans are in place to rewrite old favorites like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice into erotica.

How thin is the line between inspiration and plagiarism? Is it wrong to write a piece of fan fiction and then try to get it published?

Yes and no. You cannot copyright an idea. The plot, theme, and characters in Twilight can be seen in tens of thousands of other books. Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey are too very different and at the same time very similar books. Edward and Christian are in my opinion completely different characters. Ana and Bella are very close but do have their differences. The relationship between Ana and Christian is radically different and at the same time similar between Edward and Bella. Both are intoxicating, intense and frightening.

Do we really need another clone of them though? I was watching the Hunger Games the other night and I said to my husband "You know what's good about this? It's not Twilight fan fiction. It's completely original." And he agreed.

You cannot copy right a character or a plot or a theme. But after a while things became stale and flooding the market with clones of Fifty Shades of Grey is eventually going to turn the public against erotica again.

We don't need more Twilight fan fiction being sold in bookstores. What we need is more original, thought provoking books like the Hunger Games that are so original, so fresh, that when you finish you go "Wow!" because you've been on a real adventure.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The myth of the rich author

I was watching a repeat of a show called "The Project" this morning and they had a segment about romance books so obviously it focused on "Fifty Shades of Grey" and then switched to the only other romance books anyone reads: mills and boon.

Ah, mills and boon. Does anyone here actually read them? I never see them in the shops. You know what I see? paranormal romance. I hate mills and boon. The books look like they were published in the 1980s and they are boring and corny looking.

What I hate more is the idea that writing mills and boon is a money maker and if I had any sense I would drop everything to write them because if I listen to the Project WELL THEN! I could be making thousands of dollars a year off them and develop a readership of millions.

Oh, and this is my favorite bit...anyone can do it. You heard me! anyone! No skill or devotion or knowledge of the publishing industry required! All you need to do is sit down at your computer for hundreds of hours, write a manuscript of publishable quality, and then somehow get noticed out of a sea of millions of other unpublished writers and get published, and here's the easy part: sell enough copies to be successful.

Sound easy? Of course it is. Anyone can do it. You don't need skill or even writing ability or a fondness for romance books. Writing should never be about the love of writing it should be about making money! money! money!

Okay, I'm being serious now...the advice the project gave was the worst ever. What Mills and Boon actually said was that they accept manuscripts for submission from writers who do not have agents. That does not mean that anyone can send them their scribblings and expect to be accepted.

I know writing might seem like an easy task but trust me it is not. I have barely written anything at all this year because my muse has been on holiday. I have had two stories published and I am not rolling in the dough yet.

The reality is that the odds of getting published are insanely high and then the chances of actually making a buck (and enough bucks to live on) are even higher. Making "thousands a year" might sound like a lot but it is not enough to live on. Do not go into writing thinking that it is easy and that is a quick ticket to making a quick buck. Saying that anyone can go into writing is insulting because it says that there is no skill in what we do.

The last thing publishers need is more manuscripts landing on their desks. They already have enough they do not need manuscripts coming from writers who don't know a thing about publishing and probably didn't even take the time to edit their book because, well, they were told anyone can write a book. Surely it's not their job to edit it too, right? Isn't that the publisher's job?

Another thing that bugs me is the delusion that the only romance books available to make a buck in are mills and boon and that if you wanna make it big that is where to aim. There are hundreds of different romance genres. Hundreds of different romance publishers. Don't listen to the Project. Writing is not easy and publishing is not easy to break into. You could make more money looking for gold in a river bank.

So I finally read Fifty Shades of Grey. Here is my review.

Meh. That about sums it up. I've posted a lot about this book in the past few months. I argued that erotica (or just one or two sex scenes) in a book does not make it porn. I've questioned the author's writing skill and if her publishers decision to publish a book that began as fan fiction was wise or not.

Was the book badly written? No, but it was rough. E.L James is not a bad writer. She has bad habits that could have been fixed with a good editor.

The first page was probably the worst page in the whole book. Never EVER start a book with a character staring in a mirror brushing her hair. Why? It's boring. And it's a poor way to describe their appearance. It's called telling not showing. The book is written in first person. Ana is telling the story. Ask yourself this: how often do you focus on your own appearance in your head and think to yourself "Oh, my shoulder length brown hair is being uncontrollable!" You don't. This is something I've learnt in writing. Yes, describe your character's physical appearance. But ask yourself this: one is it really important to the story and two how can you do it in a way that doesn't come across as boring and cliched?

James repeats a lot of words and phrases throughout the book. This is an easy thing to slip into when you're writing. Writing is hard and despite what some stupid TV programs might say not everyone can "do it" like there's no skilled involved. When you write a 300 page novel you will repeat certain phrases and sentences. You will probably not even be aware that you are doing it. A good writer will go back in edits and notice these mistakes and delete them. James did not and all of those "Holy craps!" and "Inner goddess" moments got really, really tiresome.

The plot. I don't think I've ever read a book with a thinner plot before and I read Mary Janice Davidson's "Undead" series. The "plot" of the book is Christian Grey tries to convince Ana to sign a contract allowing him to engage in rough sex. That's it. In between the pages and pages of fucking he slowly takes over her life and this is what i found most disturbing: started to frighten her.

Yes, that's right, Grey is so controlling, his temper so thin, that in several scenes Ana is actually afraid to be around him and is brought to tears a couple of times. He doesn't just like rough sex he wants to control her entire life and beat her when she displeases him not for sexual pleasure but to make him feel good as a control freak.

This was the biggest problem I had with the book. People are calling this a romance. Fear should not be in a romance novel. You should not FEAR the man in your life. You should not have to ask him NOT TO BEAT YOU.

This book has outsold all 7 of the Harry Potter novels. On one hand I want to go "Hooray! People are reading! This is good for erotica!" but mostly I just want to sigh, shake my head, and delete my copy of the book off my e-reader.

This book is not worthy of the height of fame it has achieved. It is not terribly written but it is not great either. JK Rowling's books were a master piece and deserved every penny they earned. E.L James has been lucky. Her book still reads like a piece of fan fiction. A good piece of fan fiction...yes...but still fan fiction. It is popular for one reason only: that it began as Twilight fan fiction.

It is a freak show. People are buying this book not because it is well written but because it has become so popular and they want to see what it is all about. In twenty years time what books do you think I'll still have in my bookcase? Harry Potter or...this?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sex scenes = porn?

I realized I came off as a bit of a hypocrite in my last post. I write romance stories about "soul mates" searching for their other half destined to "complete them" so they can be happy. I'm full of shit, aren't I? Complaining about people wanting characters to get married and have kids when I'm guilty doing that to my own characters? Basically, what I was trying to say in my last post was it's perfectly okay to write about characters that want a hubby and kids. There should be stories about characters who DON'T want those things too. Why is it in fiction (and real life) if someone stands up and says they DON'T want to get married or they DON'T want kids people inch backward, wrinkle their noses, and an awkward silence descends? It's considered weird and sad because they are doing something different. It's expected for people to want to get married and have children. If you don't want those things there has to be something wrong with you, amiright? *looks around room*

So then! Porn! I've had many an interesting debate about good old porn with my husband in the past week. He's been reading up about Fifty Shades of Grey online and read an article that basically called it (and all erotica and romance books) ladies porn.

Why is it okay, the article argued, for people to be able to buy Fifty Shades (and other laddddiess porno books) in bookstores that children frequent (SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!)

Why is it okay for people to be able to read Fifty Shades of Grey in public but men have to place their bum and titty mags in paper bags and shuffle back to their cars casting nervous looks over their shoulders?

Why are men who like porn considered perverts and women who read erotica are not?

Are erotica books (and all other types of romance)porn because of the sex scenes in them? Does one sex scene = porn? How much sex does a book/film/etc need before it should be slapped into a paper bag and sold behind the counter in a shop?

And while we're on the subject it really irritates me that you can have topless men on the front cover of men's health magazines or girly mags like the Who but topless shots of women are considered too "pornographic" and slapped behind a paper bag? Why is it okay for children to be exposed to a man's naked chest but god forbid they see a pair of boobs?

It is weird that erotica books are generally more accepted by society than pornographic magazines and videos. You don't really hear about people whining for them to be removed from shops, don't you?

Weeeell...until Fifty Shades of Grey that is. It HAS been labelled porn by some groups and banned from some libraries in America.

Is it porn? Not in my opinion. But then again I have not read it...maybe I should do an update to this post after I read it?

You can't label erotica porn. Just because something has sex in it does not make it a porno. If erotica were re-classed as porn it would mean it would not be able to be sold in regular shops. It would be paper bagged and sold only in petrol stations and porno shops.

And that would shatter the careers of a lot of erotica writers.

I said to my husband it was insulting to call an erotica writer a pornographer.

Why, he asked? You're making sex and porn sound shameful and bad.

He has a point. As a society we're still veeerry conservative when it comes to sex. I went to a Lady Gaga concert the other week and saw a 10 year old dressed as a hooker and even I gasped and clutched at my pearls in shock. I always thought I was pretty cool and breezy about that sort of thing.

The problem with porn is there is too much variety in it. It ranges from sweet and sensual to illegal and disturbing and gross and wrong.

That is why you should not toss erotica into it. You're calling it dirty and wrong when it is harmless and tame and doesn't hurt anyone.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What is a happy ending?

I have started a new romance book by an author I've read A LOT OF over the past ten or so years. She has three series of paranormal romances out and they're all pretty much the same minis a few differences: a violent, powerful man with no emotions and a long history of killing or destroying monsters/or vampires/or spies/or enemy soldiers falls in love with a woman who is usually very small, with large eyes, a tiny waist and has some sort of psychic power. The woman is either feisty and tomboyish or she's delicate and fragile and likes to bake. Either way she'll drive the man nuts and teach him how to loooove again and how to connect with emotions. The man will be possessive and even slightly abusive towards her (all for her own sake) and totally dominate the relationship.

I used to love these sort of stories but lately I've been growing tired of the emotionless violent man falling for the woman who teaches him how to stroke kitties without crushing their heads in his massive gorilla paws.

Why do some many women want to read stories about men who are so unlikable? So violent? So possessive? Is that the fantasy? to be ruled by someone bigger, larger, stronger?

Another thing I've been growing tired of is the "Happily Ever After" that always happens in these books...they get married and have children. Oh it doesn't matter if the woman doesn't want to do those things sometimes. The man will just put his foot down and IT WILL HAPPEN GOD DAMN IT. HE DEMANDS IT.

Sailor Moon is being rebooted in Japan in 2013 as a new anime. I am so excited about this. Sailor Moon continues to be an obsession of mine. I was reading about this new anime on a message board and someone brought up Sailor Mars and Venus's decision in the manga to pledge off men forever and to devote themselves 100% to protecting Usagi. They said they hoped the anime would not honor that manga plot and give Venus a boyfriend.

Cause, you know, then she would be happy right? Cause having a man in your life and eventually getting married and having children is the dream of every girl everywhere, right?

I actually really love that Sailor Moon does not obsessively push that point home for all of the characters. Yes Usagi does fall in love with Tuxedo Mask. That is a major plot point. Their romance is a big story point of the whole show. I actually really like that Venus and Mars chose not to follow in Usagi's footsteps. They make the very mature decision to devote their lives 100% towards being senshi and protecting Usagi and that really is the best decision they could make.

How could they be in a relationship with someone else and keep their identity a secret from them? How could they keep them safe? How could they raise a child while at the same time being expected to save Sailor Moon all the time?

Is it so wrong that two female characters might chose not to get married and have children? Is that so hard for some people to wrap their heads around? That maybe you do not need those things in life to be happy?

I wish there were more characters like Venus and Mars who are happy enough being single and devoted to something in their lives that they do not need a man to make them happy. Cause frankly the ideal "Happy ending" of getting married and having babies is bull shit. You do not need a man in your life, or a ring on your finger, or a child to be happy in this life.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Is super authordom a good thing?

JK Rowling. Suzanne Collins. E.L James. Stephanie Meyer. Dan Brown. They're all authors who have risen to dizzying heights of super success. People will probably continue to read their books long after they die. They have crossed that thin line into artistic immortality. People will always know who these people are and what they wrote. Long after they are gone a little bit of their souls will remain in their books. A little bit of them.

They certainly have their fans, yes...but is super stardom always a good thing? Popularity seems to be a double edged sword. For every person that calls themselves a fan there are two more people laughing at you. Look at Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer. These authors have had incredible success with their books and yet among certain circles of people they are laughed at and labeled terrible and untalented. Obviously, you can't please everyone. There seems to be an opinion among some that most of the world's successful authors have not achieved their success through talent but sheer dumb luck. People love to take swipes at Dan Brown's research or Stephanie Meyer's plotting and characters.

And that's all fair game. They're in the public eye. People are allowed to critcise them. Are these people bitter? jealous? Probably, on some level. Good luck trying to get them to admit it. None of the authors I listed up above are geniuses. I loved the Hunger Games books (the first one was brilliant!) but they were not without their flaws. I enjoyed the Twilight books but have since grown out of them. I continue to adore the Harry Potter books.

I sometimes imagine what it would be like to achieve success in gain loads of fans...and also become an object of hate and jealously. Look at E.L James the author of the Fifty Shades series. James started her series as fan fiction and after it achieved success on line she rewrote it and published it under her own name. Risky, yes. Frankly, I'm surprised that her publisher took such a huge, huge, risk like that. Now James is going to have to live with the stigma of being a fan fiction author for the rest of her life. In the eyes of many she is a lazy fraud who could not be bothered to invent her own characters or story. She just plucked them out of another, redressed them, gave them new names and there you have it...the world's current best selling erotic trilogy!

Anything she writes in the future will be judged for any signs of plagiarism. James has herself to blame for that. She could have written an original erotic novel. But instead she made the foolish and risky decision to publish fan fiction. Now she is sitting on top of the world and many believe she does not deserve to be there.

Is success worth it if it means becoming a laughingstock?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Feeling the excitement again!

I am really, really getting into my new short story "Carry Me Away" to the point where thinking about it gets me excited. It has made me realise how dead I was on the inside before I started writing this. I had lost all my love for writing. It had become a horrible chore. No, not a chore. Chores I can do. The idea of working on Deep Embrace had become like torture. Like ripping off my nails. Who wants to do that? All I can think about is Zeus. He's in my new story. His character fascinates me. I've written about him quite a few times. In my first story with him (Atlantis Reborn, trunk novel) he was a tortured, mentally ill bastard. In Forever in Your Arms (short story, trunked) he was nicer, because it was set hundreds of years before he goes nuts, so I got to write about him in a hero's role. In "Carry Me Away" he has a love affair with a mortal Leda to make his wife Hera mad. He is selfish and doesn't think about what effect his brief fling will have on Leda. Leda is a mortal who is miserable because she is about to marry someone against her will. Her parents are forcing her into it. Zeus feels a connection with her because he feels trapped in his marriage to Hera. So he seduces her, makes her pregnant, and then leaves and never sees her again. All this on the night before her wedding. He does not make her pregnant by accident. Oh no. He does it on purpose. He knows what he's doing. Why does he do it? Two reasons. To make Hera mad and he thinks he is giving women like Leda a "gift" of having his child. Zeus is miserable and has affairs to make Hera mad and because he is searching for his true soul mate. He wants the fantasy! A loving wife and child! He selfishly tries to live out that fantasy again and again with dozens of mortal lovers. He really thinks that he is "gifting" them with his children. One on level he is. The children will be half god and will inherit powers that they can use to protect their mortal mothers. At the same time...having his children will also make his lovers lives very difficult and even dangerous. They will have to spend the rest of their lives ever wary of Hera finding them and punishing them. And in most cases they will be chased out of their families and villages in shame for having a child out of wedlock. Most of these mortal mothers usually try to keep it secret that their child is a demi-god and who their father is you can understand! Is Zeus a bad person? No, he is fascinating though. He is selfish and arrogant but can also be caring and kind and generous. He is super fun to write about. I've wanted to write about Leda and the swan for so, so, long!

Carry Me Away!

I've been suffering from some terrible writers block for the past few months. I WAS trying to rewrite my novel Deep Embrace. I got about half way through and hit a wall that I had seen coming toward me for a while. Deep Embrace suffers from some major plotting problems. I've known it for a while. It was really hard to finish the rough draft sometimes because all my inner editor would do was scream "THIS IS NOT WORKING!" and I would have to go "LALALALA!" and try to keep going because I am a firm believer in finishing something. The problem with Deep Embrace is the plot is too thin and half way through it completely derails. I honestly don't know if I will ever go back and finish it. I'm leaning towards no...which doesn't completely upset me. Some projects fizzle. They're called trunk novels. It's okay to admit sometimes that not everything I write is going to be publishable. Frankly, I'll rather be honest with myself and say "This isn't working!" rather than get it published simply for the joy of being published. I want only my best work to be published. Deep Embrace failed as a short story and it has failed as a novel. I told myself for the longest time that I was not working on it because I was focusing on my university work. And that was true. But I could have found the time. The truth is I started putting it off because I did not want to do the work I knew was needed to fix it. I am taking a break from it for the moment and I'm working on a short story! Chances are high that Deep Embrace will remain unfinished. It is very important for me as a writer to enjoy the act of writing. When it becomes a chore and you start to dread it and deliberately put it off...maybe...just've run out of steam and it's time to stat on something new. So that is what I am doing. I am writing a short based on the story of Leda and the swan. So far it's going great. I'm really enjoying myself. I can see the whole thing maybe clocking in under 2k which is incredibly short for me! Highest it could be is maybe 5k? That would be a stretch. I actually found myself looking up short story markets today and feeling excited about publishing again. It feels real good. Like coming into the sun after being in the dark for a long time. I actually worried that I was drifting away from being a writer at one point. But that's not true! I just needed a new story to Carry Me Away again!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ashamed of Erotica? Not me!

Have you heard of the book "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L James? It's probably the most popular book in the world at the moment and strangely --- it's erotica. I'm not sure of any other erotica book has ever risen to such dizzying levels of fame before. I's erotica! The closest thing to porn you can get in fiction. My husband will disagree with that though. He calls all romance books porn. He teases me about it all the time. I always tell him not all romance books are porn! Porn is 98% sex and 1% plot. Romance books have much more plot. Yeah, there's sex. But one or two sex scenes in a book does not make it porn. "Fifty Shades of Grey" though...from what I've read it has about 300 pages of sex. I have the book on my ereader waiting to be read. I am hesitant about reading it now. I'm not sure if I'm going to think it's okay, love it to death, or hate it. I've heard that's great and also complete garbage. People are calling it "Mommy Porn" which is an interesting label. I'm sure mothers read erotica before this book came out. People are claiming that most are buying the book on ebook because they're too embarrassed to be seen reading the hard back in public. Seriously? The front cover of Fifty Shades has a picture of a tie on it. A tie. I've seen erotica book covers and ven just plain old romances that have enough naked flesh on it to make you gasp! I bought Fifty Shades on ebook because I am trying to cut back on the number of paper books I purchase because I do not have space for them in my bookcases anymore. I am certainly not "embarrassed" to be seen reading it. I'm not a prude. When I was younger (and hornier) I read romances purely for the sex bits but now I'm bored with sex scenes in books. I've read it all. I even read a love scene that took place on the back of a horse once. THE BACK OF A HORSE. I skip a lot of sex scenes in books now. I am very curious about Fifty Shades and how much I will enjoy it. How hot is really? Some people claim its disgusting. Fifty Shades is not meant to be taken too seriously, I think. It began as Twilight fan fiction. Frankly, I'm surprised it ended up getting published at all considering how it started. What publisher would want to risk getting sued? Fifty Shades is written in an "alternative" universe to Twilight that has all of the characters in different roles and there are no vampires. They went through and changed all the names, apparently, but from what I've read on line there are still a lot of similarities in the characters and some scenes. It got me thinking I would not want to be E.L James. Imagine writing a trilogy of books that become insanely successful that were based off a fan fic? People are judging her for not inventing her own plot or characters. That would be a tough burden to carry on your shoulders. I wouldn't feel like a real published author. And imagine the pressure she must be under to write something original which you just know people will study up and down to see if she plucked it from somewhere else!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First Echoes in the Wind review!

The people over at "You Gotta Read Reviews!" have been nice enough to review Echoes in the Wind! It's the first review that I've seen so far and I think it's pretty good! Check it out!

Echoes in the Wind Interview!

I've been interviewed for Echoes in the Wind at Fallen Angel Reviews! You can check it out by clicking here!

Romance Characters with "morals" -- does it spoil the fantasy?

I tried to read Colleen Houck's "Tiger Curse" series earlier this year after blogging about it here. I barely got through the first book. I kept bouncing back and forth between liking it, loving it, and hating it. Colleen has flashes of real talent. But she also makes massive rookie mistakes. She has long, boring, pointless scenes that do nothing other than drag the book out and make it longer. She has "Info dump" scenes which is when a character will either explain to the reader or another character an important part of the plot. She had those a lot. And the main character in her series Kelsey acts like a real bitch toward the end of the first book and makes you want to reach into the book and either shake her silly or strangle her to death. In the "Tiger" series Kelsey develops a relationship with cursed Indian Prince Ren who turns into a tiger every few hours throughout the day. In the first book when Kelsey realises she has feelings for Ren she panics and decides since Ren looks like a fashion model, is a prince and very rich, that it was only a matter of time before he cheated on her or broke up with her and broke her heart so to protect herself from harm becomes a rotten bitch and treats him like shit for the second half of book one before breaking up with him (even though they'd never reached the point of being in a relationship) at the end of the book and then runs back home to her America. Sound like a weird plot for a romance? Yeah, you bet. Firstly, what sort of heroine treats the hero like shit? And why would he just stand around and take it and still like her at the end of the day? In the second book I struggled through 177 pages of boring, pointless fluff before one moment made me put the book down and not pick it up again. It was when Kelsey said that she wanted to wait until marriage before doing it with Ren. Oh and I should mention that before she dropped that bombshell she acted jealous if Ren spoke to other women and still wondered if Ren was making a mistake being with her and wondered, again, if she should dump him "for his own sake" as if he is not capable of making up his own mind and understanding the consequences of some things. It wasn't until I got to the part about sex that I decided I could not read any further. When I read romances I want to be swept away on a ridiculous fantasy train ride of fun. I don't want to read about up tight, bitchy, "moral" heroines who want to save themselves for marriage. There's a market for that. It's called Christian Romance. And if that's what floats your boat, more power to you! But it's not me. I don't read romance just to read the sex scenes. Actually, I find the sex scenes rather boring and have started skipping them. It's the lead up to the sex that gets me in now. The flirting, the build up, that's what gets me. I have to like the characters and their relationship. And frankly I don't know how anyone could like Ren and Kelsey's relationship. I thought Kelsey was a believable, flawed character, she just was not likable. I liked Bella in Twilight more! And that's saying something considering she's as detailed and deep a a bit of card board! I almost felt a bit cheated with Colleen Houck's series. I don't know if it should have been labelled romance. Maybe it would have fitted better in Christian fiction? It certainly is tame and conservative enough. Kelsey not just runs from any sign of attraction or affection from Ren - she swings a wooden club at it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Man believes he is Hitler's grandson

I stumbled across a fascinating article this morning. Philippe Loret was told 40 years ago by his father that his grandfather was Hitler. And man...check out his photo. All I've got to say is...FUCK. The man looks a lot like him. It's all in his eyes and in his nose. He has the same dark, piercing, slightly insane stare. Even his ears look similar. I wonder if this guy has ever seen Star Wars? If he has he must have really sympathized with Luke when he found out Vader was his father! It's totally the same situation! Being the grandson of Hitler is like being the grandson of Vader. I wonder if Philippe went ''s not true!" When he found out. I probably would have. All jokes aside, I can't decide if having Hitler as a family member would be something I would share with others or not. It would be scary and weird knowing that a family member of mine (and one not that far removed!) did so many horrible, horrible things. I would not be proud of it and would not bring it up for conversation. I certainly would not hang pictures of him in my house. Philippe says that he has pictures of Hitler up because he is a family member and he has accepted it. I think it's a little tasteless. The man was pure evil. If I was his granddaughter I would probably keep the knowledge to myself and just a few other close people. I don't believe in silly things like "evil" running in families. I wouldn't think that just because Hitler was a mad man that I would be destined to try and rule the world as well. Nah. I would accept he was family...and leave it at that. I'll say one thing for Philippe. His family line (while disturbing) is fascinating. It would make a great movie one day!

Monday, April 9, 2012

What makes a good romance book cover?

When I was in high school I started reading romance books around the time I was 14-15. My Mum got me into them. I used to LOVE THEM but I hated the front covers. I was so embarrassed by them. They were the cliche tacky ones with a bare chested man wearing tight leather pants fondling some woman with hair down to her ass and large, heaving boobs bursting against a tight bodice that looks about to burst. I used to try to hide the covers behind my hand when I read the books in school. I didn't mind the covers. I thought they were hilarious and corny looking, sure, very 1980's. What worried me was being teased by others for reading romance books. I was a shy, timid little thing in school. I got teased pretty bad in high school. Thankfully, no one ever noticed I was reading romance books. If they had I would've been teased for reading "porn" probably! Romance books are not porn but some people think they are. Eye roll!

With the invention of eBook readers people don't have to worry so much about being embarrassed by raunchy book covers because people can't see them! Ah, what a wonderful little invention! Women can now read their smut in peace. There is a God. If only there had been eBooks when I was in high school ten years ago!

What makes a good romance book cover? I was browsing Amazon when I came across this little gem!

There are so many things wrong with that cover I do not know where to begin. How about, firstly, the title? "An American Bull dog"? Really? The title is bad. It's almost as bad as "The Greek Seaman" Why, exactly? Because it conjures up all the wrong mental images. Just take a look at the front cover. Why is a bull dog center stage in the front cover? Why is there a half naked man with unbuttoned pants looking down at it lovingly? And why, why, is the woman in the book in the far right corner looking off to the side like that? Who exactly is the main character of this book? The dog? Or the woman? Who is the relationship about? The man and the dog? Or the man and the woman? Because the man looks more happy to see the dog. He is not paying any attention at all to the woman. The woman is the least important thing in the whole cover. Why, why, is the dog bigger than her? Shouldn't the dog be...I don't the far right? Not center stage? And shouldn't the man look more happy to see the WOMAN instead of a dog?

The book is actually doing really well on Amazon despite it's horrible cover. It's probably an okay book...but I can't get past it's god awful cover.

On the other side of the coin is this cover! "Plucking the Pearl" has probably the raunchiest most pornographic book cover I have ever seen! It's a great cover though. It's high quality, a lot of effort has gone into it, and most importantly it looks PROFESSIONAL and makes sense which "An American Bull Dog" was lacking!

At the same time, though..."Plucking the Pearl" is hilarious to look at. It goes a little too far in raunchiness. If it was my book after I got done laughing hysterically from sheer embarrassment, I would be proud of it...but also afraid, a little bit, to show it to anyone I know. Like my Mum for example. I've never seen a romance book with so much nudity on the cover! I am not a prude (far from it) but this one does make me blush! The good thing about this cover is that it attracts a lot of attention (both good and bad) to it. I don't know if I would like one of my covers to ever been that rude looking though! There's always the chance that Facebook (or another website) would not let me post it because they might think it's much too sexxxxy.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Idiots Upset About Black Characters in 'The Hunger Games' Movie

The movie adaption of Suzanne Collins best selling book 'The Hunger Games' was released recently in cinemas and some of the reactions from fans has been...well...just disgusting. It was reported here that some fans were surprised that a young African American actress was cast in the role of 12-year-old District 11 contestant Rue.

Despite being described in the book as having 'dark brown skin' and 'black hair' these idiotic fans thought that Rue was a little white girl. I am reading these books at the moment and the author makes it pretty clear that Rue and Thresh (The boy contestant from District 11) are black.

The comments made by these "fans" were just disgusting. One person said that it ruined the film. Another said that it made Rue's death not as sad because she was not a little white girl (WHAT.THE.FUCK) and one person said that they had originally pictured her as a little blonde girl. the books again and this time pay attention.

Maybe I've lived a sheltered life...but what does her race matter? Why is Rue's skin color so important? How does her being black make her death less sad? When I read that comment it actually made me feel a little sick. How could someone value the life of a little white girl more than the life of a little black girl? All because of their skin color? WHY? What makes white more desirable? What is wrong with these people?

I saw the Hunger Games movie before I read the book. The first thing I thought when I saw the actress who played Rue was "She is so small and beautiful!" and I immediately feared for her life. I was surprised that she lasted as long as she did in the film and her death was very sad and gorgeously filmed and Amanda Sternberg, the actress who played Rue, was perfect in the role!

The Hunger Games is a fascinating read about a future world where teens battle each other to death in an arena while the rest of the world takes bets on who will croak first. The book is about so many things - violence, oppression, freedom, and injustice. The one thing that is not in the book is race. Why, then, are these "fans" focusing on skin color when they should be asking "What sort of government could throw a bunch of kids into an arena and force them to kill each other?"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just a quick little update

I've updated the photo gallery to show more pictures from the book trailer my sister Katie made for me. There's more pictures of my cousin Wendy (Echo), pictures of my sister Kelly helping with make up, and pictures of the actors who played Pan and Narcissus Alex Jenkins and Tamatoa Rima! Thanks for letting me use your pictures on my blog, guys! :)

I've also added a page with links to places Echoes in the Wind can be purchased. I'll be up dating that list as more sites pick up the book. I'll also be adding a page for reviews once they start coming in. And I'll be posting the actual book trailer onto the blog once I get my own copy of it.

In the mean time it is available for viewing on my sister Katie's YouTube page.

I'll like to post a link to another video Katie made that I like. She made it for a university assignment. Wendy is in it. They filmed it on the same day they filmed the trailer. Wendy is not being Echo in the film. She looked like Echo though. So, naturally, it made me think of my character. It could almost be a second trailer! The short film is very well done in my opinion.

Check it out!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Ode to Forest Wind - The Origins of Echo

When I was in high school I did not have a lot of friends and was bullied a lot so I buried myself into writing. Each day I would go into the library at lunch time and pull out a cheap little notebook from my bag and a pen and sit down at one of the tables to furiously scribble down my stories. I would also sneakily write in class. I got away with it, too! The teacher usually assumed I was writing notes or something. It was harder to try and read romance novels under my desk or the latest Star Wars book though. That took some craftiness.

It was around that time that I also discovered how much the internet could help me with my writing. I discovered my first writing message board - Inkspot! Ah, Inkspot. How I loved it. It was like an internet tree house for me. I found friends on there and mentors and learned so much about writing and publishing.

One of my first novels was called The Secret World. I didn't realize it at the time but I was writing about myself. When I think back on SW now I find it hilarious and at the same time incredibly sad the symbolism in it. It was about a brown haired, shy, bookish young girl who was unpopular at school but against all odds catches the eye of the popular, but down to earth, handsome guy!

The girl, Claudia, is a writer of course and had bedroom is covered in posters (like someone else I knew) and was writing a book! She had no friends so would write at lunch time at school. Her book comes alive and she and Michael, the boy, get sucked inside and become her characters. They get stuck in a medieval world full of characters that know they are fictional and that their very existence depends on Claudia continuing to write about them so they try to keep her there!

When I look between the lines I see a story about me. Claudia is lonely, artistic and lacking in friends. She is a writer like me. She does what I never did and finds a boyfriend at school and through her writing becomes special and needed and important and the center of attention.

There was one character in the Secret World that I loved to death and that was Forest Wind. She was the original Echo. She was beautiful, strong, and tall with black skin and long, bright green hair and matching green eyes. I was entranced with the idea of a black woman with green hair. I thought it sounded beautiful and exotic. Forest Wind was called that because she could run as fast as the wind. Her feet would pound against the ground so lightly, so swiftly, you could not hear her footsteps. Her hair would whip in the air around her head and shoulders like a lick of green flame and her body would be a blurred streak she was so fast when she ran!

Forest Wind was apart of a tribe of beautiful female warriors who lived in the very creatively titled "Golden Forest" that was a walled forest of tall, wide trees with gold leaves and thick, entangled branches that made up a network that Forest Wind's people built their houses on and jumped and ran across to get around.

Echo is the new Forest Wind. The two characters are very similar. They are both beautiful black women with green hair and eyes who climb and jump from trees. There is a lot of Forest Wind in Echo. She is beauty to me. She is strength. She is mystery. I love it that she is on the front cover of Echoes in the Wind. In a way it has brought Forest Wind alive as well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Mysterious Muse

I haven't written much in the past month. Some of it was on purpose. I went on my honeymoon last month and stopped writing about a week or so before after finishing chapter four. There were other things happening in my life as well. Sometimes life is like a washing machine. It is clogged up and full and churning and rumbling and sometimes you just can't fit anything more in there. You have to wait until the cycle stops, you can unload some things, and then maybe you can fit some more stuff onto your plate. That's been me. I have been home from my honeymoon for a month and have been forgetting to write. The few times I have remembered to write I have either not been motivated at all, feeling lazy, or guilty and wondering why I did not want to write.

I was waiting for the urge to come back. The longing. The craving. The lust. My muse is a mysterious, flighty thing. It visits me at the most irritating times sometimes. I could be on a bus, a train, in the pool, in the cinema or at work. Usually, far away from my writing, and unable to do anything but wait until I get home.

In this situations when I get hit by that precious, wonderful lightning bolt of inspiration, not having access to a computer or a pen or the time to write something down is the most irritating, painful sensation. It's like being hit with an urge to take a powerful drug. You crave it. You want it. And you'll burst through a wall, incredible Hulk style, and anything else in your path to try and get it.

Why does my muse come at the most irritating times? I am sitting here, at a quarter to nine at night, and I know I should be in bed because my husband will be getting up at a quarter to four in the morning to go to work. But I am sitting here riding the wave of my muse because this is the first time in a month that it has come to visit.

Most days I force myself to write. It's a chore. Riding the muse is like a theme park ride. It makes it fun again. It gives me a rush.

Also, it reminds me something important. I am a writer. Even if I take a month long break and sometimes forget to write. I need to listen to myself. Maybe I forget because I need to relax and just read a book. When my body and mind is ready to write again it tells me. Because it becomes all I can think about.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

JK Rowling to release adult book

Author JK Rowling is set to release a new adult book through her new publisher Little, Brown. See link:

This has got many people asking if JK Rowling can "pull off" an adult book which has me scratching my head. Why are people doubting this woman? She is the author behind the most successful book series of all time. She never let fame or fortune go to her head and somehow shouldered the pressure to not only finish the HP series (a massive feat in itself) but she also wrote damn good books.

I read once that when she was writing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that she got so blocked with one chapter she almost thought about breaking her arm to get out of writing the rest of it.

What does that say about the amount of pressure the poor woman was under? She had millions of fans on her back, a publisher and agent to please, and at that point a growing movie franchise depending on her finishing the books as well. There is even a Harry Potter theme park in America.

Somehow this woman did the impossible and finished her remarkable books. She managed to please her fans, her publishers, and help bring an end to one of the most successful movie franchises ever.

And now people are wondering if she can, I say in sarcastic quote marks, "pull off an adult book?"

She wrote the Harry Potter series! One of the remarkable things about her books, aside from her wonderful writing and imagination, was how she was able to draw in readers of all ages. I am still a rabid fan of the HP universe and would give anything to be able to visit the Harry Potter Theme Park in America!

This woman has sold millions of books to people aged from 5 to 90. Why are people asking if she can pull off an adult book? She has proven that she can write under extreme stress and attract a large fan base of all ages. I have no doubt that her new book will be full of the same killer sharp writing, great characters, hilarious wit, and an addictive plot.

Echoes in the Wind is available for purchase!

Echoes in the Wind is now available for purchase! You can find it firstly at the Champagne Books website:

It got published on the 5th of March so it is slowly popping up all over the internet. I have spotted it for sale on two more sites:

I will update this blog with more as I find them. In addition I have figured out how to add pages to this blog! You can see the links on the right hand side.

It is great to see Echoes in the Wind for sale. I hope lots and lots of people enjoy it!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Echoes in the Wind book trailer photos!

Echoes in the Wind comes out this month!! How exciting!! My talented sister Katie has been making a book trailer for me to help promote the book. My cousin Wendy is playing Echo, my sister Kelly helped out with make up, my husband is doing the music and a whole bunch of other young talented people helped out as well! Throughout this whole thing I've been so impressed with Katie writing a script, finding places to shoot, getting permission from her university to borrow equipment, and convincing people to give up their free time to chip in and help.

Here are some first photos of my cousin Wendy as Echo. I love the hair and the clothes and Wendy is a real good model and actress! I just know that the final film is going to be great.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Author disgraces themselves over inappropriate use of the word rape

I visit a message board for writers. I came across a thread that had been locked yesterday. Locked threads always arouse my interest because it means that someone has lost their temper and embarrassed themselves about something. It always makes for interesting reading and as a reminder to myself to always be professional on the internet.

The thread had started off about book covers. The original poster use the word rape inappropriately to describe their dislike for characters that appear on book covers. "It rapes my imagination of the characters," they said.

One person complained and said they found their choice of words offensive. Soon more and more people chimed in and politely requested that the poster be more mindful of their words in the future because there were rape survivors on the board and it is very distasteful to make fun of the word rape.

The OP responded and completely lost their mind and whatever professionalism they might have had. They said it was just a word, they didn't mean it that way, and that people should not be so offended. They refused to apologize.

Well things just snow balled from there. People tried to get the OP to understand and reminded them that one of the rules of the board was to respect your fellow writer. A couple of members who were rape survivors joined the conversation and tried to explain how using the word rape had upset them.

This was when the OP went from distasteful to disgusting. The OP began attacking the rape survivors and telling them, all in caps, that they were not going to get an apology out of them, called them pathetic, and a failure at life.

Who does that? I mean, really? Who talks like that to a rape survivor? As anyone who has read my blog knows, I dislike people who are up tight about swearing. I've been in situations where people have politely asked me not to swear after I've dropped the f-bomb without thinking about it. While their attitude does irritate me, I always nod and try not to do it again, because that is showing respect.

How is this author going to react if they find a publisher and their editor dares to criticize their work? Are they going to demand their rights to use whatever word they want then? And damn all who might be offended? Censorship is bad, I agree. But there is a difference between censorship in a book and censorship when talking to someone.

If someone does not like a book they can choose to put it down. When you socialize with a group of people, either online or in person, you must always be respectful of other people and their opinions. Otherwise you'll come across as rude, insensitive and unprofessional, like this person has done.

Another thing to remember when posting on the internet is you never know how many people are going to read your words and once it is out there its like engraving it in stone. That web board is one of the biggest for writing and publishing on the internet. It has around 30,000 members across the world I think. A lot of those are published authors and editors and agents and publishers.

Who can all now read this author's horrible, insensitive remarks about rape.

Another career down the toilet.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Over using description

I'm in the middle of editing/rewriting Deep Embrace at the moment. I hate reading original drafts. You see it with new eyes. Suddenly all of the flaws that you did not seen months ago are dancing in front of you naked. One thing that has jumped out to me about the first draft of Deep Embrace is how much I can overuse description and my characters showing over the top and unreaslitc emotions. It's really quite embarrassing. I have characters shoving fists into their mouths, sobbing all the time and "slashing" their gaze across someone else. It feels really good to rewrite these chapters and tone them down alot. I am always telling other writers that description is a good tool to be used. And it is. I like to read "visual" stories that show character's expressions, their body language, etc. I think it helps to bring them and the book alive. But too much description can ruin it.

Half the time I'm not even aware that I'm over using description. I find writing first drafts real hard. I'm creating everything from scratch. So sometimes I just let myself go. I'll write down whatever comes to me. If I spend too much time agonising over each sentence I know that I'll never finish. So that means sometimes writing pure crap. Which means when I read back over it during rewrites I end up cringing and wondering if I have any talent at all.

What is clear to me is that I am continuing to grow and develop as a writer. My style is changing. I'm trying to avoid doing things like head hopping. I made an effort right from the beginning to always be inside Perse's head in Deep Embrace. And in the rewrites I've made an effort to avoid describing body parts as if they are acting on their own (Her eyes moved around the room) and I've also been making an effort to not spend too much time describing character's phsyical appearances and to always stay in present tense.

I would like to cut down on description too. Do I really need to say something like "Her eyes cut across his face" when I could put it in a much more simpler way like "She threw him an angry look." While the above sentence is okay once in a while the problem with my original draft is I have used that sort of writing too much.

It feels really good to finally be fixing those problems.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Evil shall with...wait, what? That doesn't make sense

I saw the US remake of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Thursday night and I loved it. It was one of the most faithful Hollywood adaptions of any book I have seen. I loved the two main actors in the role. Rooney was in my mind a better Lisbeth then the original was. She was scary and awesome. And her accent was actually good! I hate actors who don't even bother to do accents in films that need them (looking at you Tom Cruise in Valkyrie). I thought Rooney was much more beautiful than the Swedish actress who played Lisbeth. I really hope Rooney gets nominated for an award.

And Daniel Craig (despite not doing an accent) was an adorable Mikel. He fit the role perfectly and looked like how I imagined the character did. The only thing I did not like about the movie was the stupid tagline on the posters!

Evil shall with evil be expelled? Who the hell wrote that? It doesn't make sense as a proper sentence. It should be evil shall be expelled with evil. Who made that stupid mistake? Did they not try to read it out loud before agreeing it should be on the poster? Also what are they trying to say? Are they calling Lisbeth evil? Lisbeth is not evil. She is not a traditional hero. She is flawed (very much so) and violent and does not care for the rules. But that does not make her evil. It makes her realistic and believable.

The old fashioned heroes of fiction who are honorable, brave, and never make a mistake are not realistic. There is darkness and light in everyone. Lisbeth does horrible things to some people, that's true, but it does not make her evil. It make her an anti-hero. She does good and bad things. She is neither black or white. She is grey. She is intriguing as hell because she is so unpredictable the reader never knows what she is going to do less. Is she going to break the law for her own benefit....or is she going to stop a murder?

I read that the director doesn't think that Lisbeth is a hero and doesn't like people calling her one which is probably why that tagline ended up on the poster. Lisbeth is not a traditional hero, that's true, but does that mean we have to jump straight to calling her evil? She's not that either. She's a victim of sexual and physical violence who learnt at a young age that the only one she can depend on is herself. She lives by her own rules and will not hesitate to defend herself and to dish out her own special form of revenge on people.

Her actions are morally wrong and questionable...but understandable.