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Book list for Summer 2015

Posted by Lydhia Marie on May 31, 2015 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)


Books I want to read this summer


 

I always say I don’t have enough time to read all my books, and yet I keep buying more and more, just because I intend to read them at one point in my life. Maybe next month, I’ll be in a mood to re-read the entire Harry Potter series. Or maybe I can finish some of the books I started but never finished. It all depends on what is going to happen at that precise moment—one I cherish—when I’ll have to choose what to read next. Isn’t that the greatest feeling? So many possibilities. Too many choices. Too much awesomeness in this world. Ha!


Anyway, I decided to make a list—much too big—of all the books I’d like to read this summer.


 

1. (Finish) Evensong by Krista Walsh



2. The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare




3. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey



4. The Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow




5. The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas




6. The Dark Touch series by Amy Meredith



7. 1984 by George Orwell



8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee



9. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis




10. AngelFall by Susan Ee

 




There are way too many of them, considering that I also plan on finishing writing the sequel to AMANI: Remember before the end of August. And I got this new job. Still, my “to read” list on Goodreads keeps accepting new members every week. I shouldn’t even be allowed to go on that website for a few weeks. It just isn’t healthy anymore.

 

I guess it’s comforting to know that there’s always a good book waiting for me on my shelf or Kindle. It means I’m never alone.



Let me know in a comment what your reading list looks like for this summer?
Or if you've already read some of these books, I'd be glad to hear your thoughts.

 

Why non-GOT-fans think GOT fans watch GOT vs. The TRUTH (contains spoilers)

Posted by Lydhia Marie on May 31, 2015 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)



How many times have I been looked at like this 



after telling someone I religiously watch Game of Thrones. 


Well, today is the day that you, GOT haters, know the truth about why this show is one of the best in history. No hyperbole here. It really is. Just watch it and you'll see.



Why non-GOT-fans think GOT fans watch GOT


Sex, of course


Yes, it is present. Sex is pretty explicit and often degrades women in the process. If you can't keep in mind that this is fiction or if you're under 14 (depending on your culture), you might want to watch something else.


Blood


And other substances...



It's bloody, that's for sure. They didn't call the episode "Red Wedding" for nothing.


Violence


There is a lot of that, it's a good thing in a way. You can never tell what's going to happen or who's going to die next. No one's safe.



And finally, nudity



If you enjoyed True Blood, aka Vampire Porn, you're already immuned. 



Now, let's talk about the real reasons why GOT is awesome


Strong male and female characters






I dare say that almost anyone will find a character to whom they can relate.



Romance we can't help but root for



Though, well, romance doesn't last long in Game of Thrones.



An awesome dwarf


Yep! :)


Character development, which isn't always easy to find in a TV show





Tired of one-dimensioned personalities? You won't find much of that in GOT.



Characters we truly HATE





And by truly hate, I mean TRULY, F****** HATE. Sorry about that.



Awesome plot twist (spoiler alert!)








There are many more, but it'd take forever to name them all.



Let me know why you love the show in a comment below!



The Meaning behind GOT characters's names

Posted by Lydhia Marie on May 27, 2015 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)




For me, naming my characters right is very important. After struggling to remember all the Game of Thrones very unconventional names, I was curious as to their meaning and origin, even though many of them were invented by our beloved author, George R. R. Martin


Some totally make sense with the personality and behaiors or its character, while others are just weird and funny. I'll let you judge.


Here's what I found out.



 

Women


Daenerys:


Name created by the author George R. R. Martin. Only two years after the show started on HBO, more than 60 parents had named their little girl Daenerys and over 240 babies were called Khaleesi.



Arya:


The origin of this name is Indian and it means “honourable” or “noble” in Sanskrit. Arya fits both genders, and it was ranked one of the fastest-growing names in the United-States.



Sansa:


Also originating from the Sanskrit language, Sansa means “praise,” “invocation,” and “charm.”



Cersei:


It is believed that the queen’s name was created based on a sorceress—a goddess of magic—named Circe from the Greek literature. According to the myth, Circe was the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse and Oceanid.



Margaery:


The name comes from its simplest form, Margery, a variant of the medieval term Margaret, which means “pearl.” Margery also signifies “child of light.”



Cathelyn:


Cathelyn is an Irish baby girl name. It means “pure.” There are several variants to this name. Written Cateline, the name comes from the medieval French Katherine. Katelyn is one of the most modern form and it is still very popular in Ireland.



Ygritte:


Ygritte is a made-up name. It resembles the Teutonic baby name Ingrid, which means “hero’s daughter.”



Shae:


Shae or sometimes spelled “Shay” also has Irish origins. It is, however, normally a baby boy name. Shae means “courteous.”



Brienne:


Brienne or Brianna are both the feminine version of Brian. Its meanings are both “strength” and “she ascends.”



Missandei:


Like Daenerys, the name Missandei was created by R. R. Martin. Some people believe that it was inspired by the English word “misandry”, the hatred of men by women. Is it a hidden spoiler?



Melisandre:


It is a baby girl’s name of Old French and Old Germain origin. Melisandre means “animal strength.”



Gilly:


Gilly is a girl’s name of Old Germain origin. It has many variants, like Gilberte, the feminine of Gilbert, and Gillie. But the meaning of Gilly is “bright promise.”



Olenna:


From its Greek origin, Olenna means “the bright one” or “the shining one.” It can also be translated into “Anna” or “lily.”



Asha:


The name is of Indian origin. In Sanskrit, it means “wish,” “desire,” and “hope.”



Ellaria:


The name was created by Georges R. R. Martin. In Catalan, a Spanish dialect, ellaria means “she.”




 

 

 

Men:


Tyrion:


The baby boy name Tyrion comes from the Celtic language. The name isn’t very popular. Its variant is Tyron, the masculine form of Tyrone.



Jon:


Jon is a baby boy name and often the abbreviation of Jonathan. It is a Hebrew name that means “Gift from God.”



Brandon:


It is an Old English name that is sometimes used as a variant of the name Brendan. Brendan is of Irish origin. It means either “prince” or “brave.” The abbreviation, Bran comes from the Welsh mythology. In Welsh, the name means “raven.” The legend says that Bran the Blessed was the son of a god. He was king of Britain and was killed attacking Ireland.



Jorah:


The name is a Biblical as well as a Hebrew name meaning “early rain.” It is an original alternative to the popular name Jordan.



Davos:


The origin of this name is Greek. Davos is also a mountain resort in Switzerland. It is also a variant of the name Davis, a Scottish name that means “David’s son.”



Jaime:


Jaime has Scottish and Spanish origins. It means “supplant” (to take the place of another, to scheme, or to replace one thing by something else.)



Joffrey:


The origin of the name is Germanic. Derived from the Middle English Geoffrey, and the Old French Geoffroi, the mad king’s name means “a man of peace.” Ha!



Petyr:


Petyr is a variant of the popular name Peter, of Biblical and Greek origins. Peter means "a rock" or "a stone."



Khal:


The name is mostly used for baby boys and it is of American (United States) origin. Some also say that the name originally comes from Germany.



Ramsay:


The name is of Scottish origin and it is a variant of Ramsey. The meaning of Ramsay is “wild garlic from Ram’s island.”



Sandor:


Sandor comes from many origins: Greek, Hungarian, and Slavic. The name means “defender of man.”



Hodor:


The name was created by George R. R. Martin. However, the word hodor in Maltese means “green” in English.



Robb:


The name Robb, the abbreviation for Robert, has many origins: Germain, French, and English. All in all, it means “famed,” “bright,” and “shining.”



Daario:


Daario is a variant of Dario, a Latin name that means “rich” or “royal.” Dario is also used as a Spanish and Greek name.



Eddard:


The name is a variant of Eduard. From its French origin, Eduard means “prosperous guardian.” From its Russian and English origins, it means “rich protector” or “wealthy guardian.”



Bronn:


Bronn is of Australian origin. It can be used for both a male and a female baby. The name is a variant of Bron, which means “son of the brown man.”



Jojen:


Jojen in Finnish means “lines.” Although the name was invented by the GOT author, it could be a variant of Rojen. The origin for Rojen is Kurdish and it means “days.”



Grey:


The name comes from the English origin. It means “gray-haired” and “pleasant.” The name is used in several languages, countries, and cultures for baby boys.



Podrick:


The name was invented by the author of GOT, but it could be a variant of Padraig, an Irish name that means “nobly born.”



Stannis:


The name is a variant of Stanis, a Biblical name from the Latin origin. Stanis means “spike” and “ear of corn.”



Samwell:


Samwell is a baby boy name of Hebrew origin that means “God heard.” The name is also a variant of the more popular version, Samuel, which means “request of God,” “God’s heart,” or “God’s name.”



Theon:


From its French origin, Theon means “untamed,” (lol) whereas from its Greek origin, the name means “Godly.”

 


Interview with author Gunnar Skollingsberg

Posted by Lydhia Marie on May 26, 2015 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)



No need for an introduction, Don't Cry Pappa and its description is the best way to present author Gunnar Skollingsberg.


 

Parents live in perpetual, subconscious fear of losing a child. For Gunnar Skollingsberg, this ultimate nightmare has come true not once, but twice. In his new memoir, Don’t Cry, Pappa, he chronicles his journey from devastating, suicidal depression to tentative, fragile healing. Gunnar was able to work through his darkest periods and recover the drive to live beyond his children’s deaths. He eventually refocused his life’s purpose to bring moments of happiness to other children.

A refreshingly honest and evocative memoir, this book is filled with unimaginable heartbreak as well as pure love and joy. Truly, Don’t Cry, Pappa works just as well as a self-help book as it does a memoir. With universal themes and an innate structure, this is a good read.

This is a poignant and often insightful book that is both heartrending and ultimately bittersweet. The fact that the author is able to be so open about his thoughts and feelings (even those that might be hard to admit), is what makes this a memoir worth consideration.



 

Name:

Gunnar Skollingsberg


Title of most recent book:

The title/subtitle of my book – a memoir – is: Don’t Cry, Pappa: Surviving Persistent Depression and Heartbreaking Tragedies to Find a New Mission in Life


What inspired you to write this book?

My main inspiration in writing this book was to introduce the world to two of my beautiful little children, who died all too soon. My first child was killed in a traffic accident when he was two years old, and – years later – my second daughter drowned when on a camping trip when she was fifteen. After their deaths, I had promised that I would not let the world forget them.

In this book, I combined their stories with the story of my life-long depression, and how these two deaths compounded this condition (and almost destroyed me). Eventually, I worked myself around to the point that I developed a new purpose in life: to bring moments of happiness and joy to other children through laughter. I had a full-time job working in various elementary schools at that time, so I was able to integrate this goal with my daily contact with the students (and I describe my methods in accomplishing this in the book, as well). I believe that my two children would be pleased that I do this for other children.


If any, what challenges did you meet while writing this book?

There were a couple of challenges that I had to deal with. One challenge was that I started with only the title, Don’t Cry, Pappa (this is what I imagined that my two children would want to say, to tell me to stop crying and being sad for them). This title rattled around in my head for a couple of years. Next, I eventually wrote the epilogue, which describes what I wish and hope for in the future (it is unusual to have an epilogue in a memoir, but it works here). After that, I outlined and filled in the rest of the story and events to bring the reader to the epilogue.

The second challenge was to try to accurately convey the breadth and strength of my various emotions and feelings within the book’s pages. I poured out my soul into this project, and there are sections and passages that I cannot read – even now – without becoming emotional myself. According to feedback I’ve received from various readers, it appears that I have been successful in meeting this challenge.


What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

I’ve had a few ‘accomplishments’ in my life (such as attaining different levels of achievement in my profession and earning graduate-level university degrees), but my best accomplishment – and honor – would be becoming a father to beautiful children. I have four surviving children, and I am so very proud of each one of them. They are successful in their professions and are embarked on their own life journeys.


Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

I don’t know if there are any particular subjects that would ‘never write about’ as an author. I recognize that there are certain genres that I am not successful in working in, and I could see that this would limit possible future writing endeavors.


Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I was interested in writing when I was in elementary school, and I wrote some pathetic stories at that time. I’ve been very interested in reading all of my life, and I suppose that this interest has fueled a desire to write.


What book do you wish you could have written? And why?

Every time I see a book at the top of the NYT Best-Sellers List, I secretly wish that I had written that. Seriously, however, I do have an interest in early Western American literature, such as the trailblazers, explorers, mountain men, early contacts with Native Americans, etc. I’d really like to write another Mountain Man.


What are you working on now? What is your next project?

Since Don’t Cry, Pappa covers a large portion of my personal life, I’m now working on a book that taps my professional training and experience. It will give practical information and advice to facilitate the effectiveness of the teaching/learning process for tutors and homeschooling parents.


What do you want to accomplish before you die?

My projected accomplishments at this point (besides finishing my second writing project) is to try to enjoy the time I have left – and my health permits – by travelling and visiting places and people. I also want to see my children, and their children, and I want to do what I can do to help them be happy. I want to do all the things I didn’t have time to accomplish when I was younger.


Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Right now, I’m semi-retired. After growing up, going to school, and working until my retirement in the United States, I built a small home in my birth country: Norway (my family emigrated to the U.S. when I was an infant). I live in Norway for the time being. I also currently work part-time as an English teacher in a Norwegian public school, learning new things and experiencing a new culture (and making children laugh whenever I can).



You can find Gunnar Skollingsberg's memoir on Amazon and Barnes&Noble

Interview with author John Lynch

Posted by Lydhia Marie on May 21, 2015 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Fans of strong protagonists and mysteries, you're at the right place. In this interview, author John Lynch answers eleven questions about his newly published novel, Sharon Wright: Butterfly, and talks about his creative process of writing.


No-one gives Sharon a chance. Except Sharon.

All Sharon wants is a better life—a husband who takes care of her, the kind of food they have in magazines and civilized conversation. Is it her fault that she is in the middle of a plot involving two hitmen? Well, yes, actually. It is.

In Sharon’s deprived childhood, Buggy was Top Cat—the one everyone went in fear of. Buggy ruled the roost and Buggy’s girlfriend could be the Number One female. So she married him. Of all the mistakes she could have made, that is the biggest.


 

Name:

John Lynch


Title of most recent book:

Sharon Wright: Butterfly


What inspired you to write this book?

I had just finished writing Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper, which is the story of a young man born into dreadful circumstances who nevertheless, through his own talents and with the help of others, makes something of his life. I wanted to write a story about a young woman who also had a poor start in life and that led ultimately to Sharon Wright: Butterfly.


Do you have any strange writing habit?

The oddest thing about my writing habits may be the hours I keep. I spent more than forty years as an international salesman criss-crossing the world; I’d fly somewhere that was seven hours ahead of my home and a week later I’d be somewhere else that was eight hours behind. A few years of that will ruin anyone’s body clock and now my normal working day when I’m at home goes something like this: Go to bed sometime between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Get up at 1.00 a.m. and write. At 6.00, go out on my bike and cycle the country lanes where I live for anything between 20 and 45 minutes. Get home, shower, dress and download The Times Crossword, which I do while eating breakfast. (Breakfast for me is the full English, which is why I need to cycle before I eat – if I didn’t I don’t like to think about the shape I’d be). 7.30 a.m., say hello to the person with whom I share a life, who goes to the local hotel to swim and won’t have her breakfast until 10.00 a.m., which for me will be coffee time. 8.00 to 12.00: write, with 15 minutes for coffee. By midday I’m written out until tomorrow.

But I suppose the thing that non-writers will find strange (I think a lot of writers will read this and say, “Oh, me too”; ) is the interaction between me and my characters. They are right here in the room where I write and I wouldn’t get very far without them. When I was writing Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper, Billy, the protagonist, stood over my shoulder and kept up a running commentary. “Don’t forget the anger management.” “Poppy wouldn’t have said that.” “Why haven’t you mentioned what they did to Williams?” You could almost say that Billy wrote the book. And in something I’ve been working on on and off for the last three years, I have Barabbas, Haile Selassie and John Betjeman all in the same scene and they were in the room with me having a flaming row that ended with Barabbas punching Betjeman in the face and knocking his teeth out. All I did was write down what I saw happening in front of me. And, yes, I do realise that that makes me sound as though I’m nuts but this is how I write.


Do you travel a lot to write your books?

Well, I travel a lot because that has been my work for years now. I’ve lived and worked on every continent except Antarctica. Last year I was in Suriname, South Africa, the UAE, Saudi Arabia (several times), Qatar, Kurdistan, Libya, Lebanon and other places I can’t remember offhand. I’ve just come back from Egypt and Saudi Arabia and soon I’ll be in Kurdistan again; next month I go to Malaysia and after that it will be Vietnam. So I don’t go to those places in order to write, but it’s inevitable that the places I see and the people I meet influence what gets into my books. For example, I just wrote a short story that grew out of my second trip this year to Egypt.


What country/city would you like to visit next?

As I’ve said, I’m going soon to Malaysia and Vietnam and I’m looking forward to those trips but they are business. If I were choosing a place just for pleasure, it might well be Kenya. I’ve been there many times but the problem with my kind of business travel is that I don’t get to do much sightseeing. I spent three weeks in Africa and only had one day when I wasn’t either travelling or in meetings. I said to Charles, who always drives me in Nairobi, “I want to see some animals on Thursday” and he said, “I’ll pick you up at six and get you back to the hotel for nine in the evening”. It was a long and exhausting day but we saw almost everything you can see there; the only animal that evaded us was the leopard. The highlight was a pride of lions that had killed and were feeding – even Charles doesn’t see that very often. I got a lot of good photos. So, in a sense, I “know” Kenya but instead of just fitting in a day “for me” I’d like a week of safari and camping in the bush. I’d also like another trip to New Zealand and I’ve never done the rail journey from Pretoria to Cape Town although I’ve been in both cities a number of times – it would be good to do that.


Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My grandfather was a coalminer in Durham and like most miners of the time he placed great value on education and didn’t want his grandson to go down the pit (as he had done when he was only twelve years old). I was showered with books from the time I first learned to read and not just by Grandad; my mother and my aunts and uncles also encouraged me to read. I thought, “I’d like to tell stories like this” and when I was ten years old I stood on the stage of Benton Park primary school in Newcastle and read to the assembled pupils and parents a story I had written. I can still remember it; my style at the time was the style of Dickens. Or, at least, that’s what I thought it was. I drank in the applause and I think my future was set from that moment.


Who designs the covers for your books? And what is the process like for you as an author?

Writers need to know what their strengths are and what they are not good at. When you’re an indie you have to make sure that the books you put out are at least as good as anything produced by the “Big Five”. For me, that means professional editing, professional layout and – above all – professional cover design. Spiffing Covers did a great job for me on Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper and A Just and Upright Man and in each case there was a lot of discussion between me and the Spiffing Covers people. You need that connection if you’re going to have a cover that does justice to the book you’ve written. I handled the cover for Sharon Wright: Butterfly a little differently; when the book was done, I trawled Getty Images till I found a face. There she was! Her! My Shazza. Then Scarlett Rugers McKenzie, an Australian book designer of genius, took the pic and made exactly the cover I wanted.


If any, what challenges did you meet while writing your latest book?

Sharon Wright: Butterfly was a lot harder to write than Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper because I’m a man and therefore find it more difficult to get into a young woman’s head than I did into a young man’s. Also, the skills Sharon has to use to turn her life around were different from the ones that helped Billy. Sharon is a survivor who makes her sure-footed way in a man's world. When she woos Jackie Gough she does it the way a female mantis might, knowing that when she is sated he may have to die. Until then she lets him think they are equal partners and will share the money she sets him up to steal. Poor Jackie. It takes a long time to write a book. By the time I’d finished this one I knew my star character so well we were on snogging terms – except that snogging Sharon would be a risky thing to do. Jackie Gough tries it, and realises too late that the dumb blonde is no more dumb than she is blonde. But, as I’ve said to readers I’ve met at book signings and literary festivals, Sharon is not a nice person – but I love her. Getting that on paper was hard and I hope I’ve achieved it.


What do you want to accomplish before you die?

I’m seventy-two years old. I’ve been to a lot of places, seen a lot of things, met a lot of people. Overall I’ve had a wonderful life and when I look back on that little boy of ten reading his story on the primary school stage I can only give thanks to the God who has dealt so kindly with me. Is there anything left I’d like to achieve? Well, of course there is – there’s always one more goal. For me, I think it’s the recognition that would come from having one or more of my books turned into a film.


Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I have three projects currently on the go. The first is Poor Law, the second in the James Blakiston Series of historical romance/crime books set in the north-east of England in the 1760s (A Just and Upright Man was the first and I’m particularly proud of the fact that it was shortlisted for the 2015 Historical Novel Society’s Indie Award). Poor Law has been through five drafts and is now being edited; when I’ve incorporated whatever changes the editor wants me to make it will go to a copy editor and then into print. The second project is When the Darkness Comes which is where the Barabbas/Haile Selassie/Betjeman incident I talked about earlier comes from. I’ve been working on The Darkness on and off for three years now and I can’t make any promises about when I will regard it as finished. And the third project is a book of short stories set in a Shropshire village to which I have given the name Futch Mucking in a probably vain attempt to prevent residents in two Shropshire villages in which I have lived from identifying themselves. I expect to publish that one before the end of 2015.

 


You may follow John Lynch on Goodreads, where you will find the links to all his book.


Thank you for reading!


Interview with author Jeannie Meekins

Posted by Lydhia Marie on May 18, 2015 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Author of over 65 children's books, Jeannie Meekins let us in her imaginative mind and talks about her inspirations, her writing process, and her future projects!


 

“Don’t you see? That’s why you are here.”

Jack shook his head. “No, I don’t see.”

“Then I’ll prove it... Where’s my Book. Bring The Book!” the King ordered.

 

 

A boy, a crystal and a world out of balance.

Jack finds himself trapped in the fantasy world of Drac; a world of magic, dragons, and evil doings. The world is dying. The Talisman, which stores the elemental virtues of the races and keeps the world in balance, has gone. A prophecy has been set in motion and will be fulfilled, one way or the other.

Jack has been brought there to save the world. While travelling the lands, he begins to realise that good and evil are not so clearly defined, and all the people need to unite to save their world.

 

 

In this first part of the adventure, Jack meets the mysterious Clubs, learns of the prophecy and sets off to find the first element.




Name:

Jeannie Meekins


Title of most recent book:

Into the Land of Clubs

This is actually book one of a longer book, The Virtues of Drac.

What started out as a fantasy adventure for younger kids (8+ years) ended up over 100K words. I got lots of positive feedback from traditional publishers, but no one actually willing to take a chance on it. Late last year, I decided that, as well as the full version, I’d break it into three books.

All four will be out before the end of the year.


 

What inspired you to write this book?

My kids. My son gave me the original idea. He’s given me a few ideas over the years. My daughter kept me going. She was always interested; always wanting to know what Jack was up to in his adventure.


 

What do you like the most/least about writing?

I love the creativity. The ability to sit down with a pen and paper (my computer is for typing) and get on a roll. I write chronologically, so I know how something starts, some major plot points and how it ends. The rest just happens. Quite often my characters run away with the plot and go places I hadn’t planned or thought of. To me, it means that they are alive and not just going through the motions of the plot.

Least? With the non-fiction, it would have to be the research. So much research, and a lot of it the same – sometimes word for word.


 

How important is doing research for writing your books?

That depends entirely on the book. Much of my fiction has no research. With the works that need a proper basis in reality, such as sci/fi, I make sure the facts hold together to give a proper grounding, and then let it fly.

If you get the grounding right, then the suspension of disbelief has a better hold on the reader.

 

Non-fiction must be accurate. There is a vast amount of inaccuracy in the world of non-fiction. If I can’t find at least two different sources that agree on something, I don’t use it. For topics that may have many versions, such as the legend of Saint George and the Dragon, I’ll explain that there are many versions, and use examples. Dates can also be off because many events of history don’t have accurate or any records.

I often use at least twenty different sources - books, magazines, newspapers, websites, etc.

 


What are you reading right now?

When I make new writing friends, I check out their work – and quite often review it, if it’s worthy. I don’t tell the writers this, and I don’t always use my own name. Just because I’m your friend does not mean I will give you a glowing five star review. I will be honest.

It doesn’t matter whether I like the subject matter or not. You don’t have to like something to appreciate the quality of the writing or storytelling.

I’ve made a few new friends over the past months. So I think I’ll keep that to myself for now...


 

What is your next project?

I currently have about 10 projects on the go.

I have some kids non-fiction (and a couple of fiction) for US educational publisher Learning Island. They’ve picked up quite a few series, so I’m always trying to add to them.

The Virtues of Drac – the entire saga.

There’s a Sci/Fi saga aimed at mature readers in the rewrite stage. The aim is to complete the rewrite by the end of June.

Some junior novels are at editing stage and a couple are at illustration stage.

I have a biographical piece currently on display in a World War I exhibition, and the local historical society is looking at picking it up for their upcoming book.

 

I’m sorry, what was the question...?


 

Is there one subject/theme you would never write about as an author and why?

When I started writing, I said I would write stuff that my kids could be proud of. I wouldn’t want them picking up a book in 20 or 50 years time and being offended or embarrassed to admit that their mother wrote it.


 

Can you tell us 5 fun facts about yourself?

I never set out to be a kids’ writer. I tried lots of different types of writing: novels, short stories, etc and lots of genres. I sent stuff out everywhere. The positive responses came from the kids stuff. I had four kids’ novels published by traditional publishers before anything else got picked up. Then Learning Island grabbed my non-fiction, and that’s just taken off.

I often get characters’ names from the phone book, street directory or car licence plates. Some of my characters have names long before they have a story. Others have no proper name even after a story is finished. Usually because I haven’t found anything that actually suits them. If they have a half decent role in the story, then they need a decent name. So... if you have a personalised licence plate, you may find it (or a variation of it) in my next book.

My best ideas seem to come at the most inconvenient times. Yep, I’m a shower-taking/driving/dog-walking/great-ideas-flashing-into-my head kind of person. You know – anywhere where you don’t have a pen and paper handy.

I love to spend time on my sister’s farm with the cows, horses and chickens. You go outside and the kangaroos are feeding and lying down in the paddocks with the cows. It’s just beautiful. I often get in quite animated discussions with the chickens – and usually end up getting told off by them.

One of my friends calls me a “Stress Free Zone”. She said she loves being around me because I don’t stress. Well, I do stress. But I learnt years ago to prioritise and know what’s worth worrying about at any particular time.


 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I can’t see that far ahead.


 

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Okay, well let’s use The Virtues of Drac.

The basic premise is a boy, a crystal and a world out of balance.

Jack finds himself trapped in the fantasy world of Drac; a world of magic, dragons, and evil doings. The world is dying. The Talisman, which stores the elemental virtues of the races and keeps the world in balance, has gone. A prophecy has been set in motion and will be fulfilled, one way or the other.

Jack has been brought there to save the world. While travelling the lands, he begins to realise that good and evil are not so clearly defined, and all the people need to unite to save their world.

That’s the blurb, but I could go on all day about it. During the rewrite, so much more came out of it than I’d ever planned, or even thought was there. Some of the underlying themes of power and ignorance really hit home on how fragile our own world really is.

The book is illustrated with black and white line drawings at the beginning of each chapter. AT Davidson is one of my favourite illustrators, so I was really pleased when he stuck up his hand and said he wanted to do them.

 

 

Meekins' books are available at over 15 ebook retailers and lending libraries including Amazon, Apple iStore, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Smashwords.


You can also follow this author by liking her Facebook page!

INDIE-PUBLISHING PROCESS

Posted by Lydhia Marie on May 14, 2015 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (2)

 My journey into the publishing world

 

How I started writing

Three summers ago, I was working a couple hours a week in a cheese factory and, as I’m the kind of person who neither has a lot of friends nor is good at socializing, I was wondering what I could do to pass the time. Let’s just say that I was waiting for a book in the Bloodlines series to come out and I didn’t feel like starting a new series, which would have taken me away from the amazing world author Richelle Mead has created for us readers. I was outside, sunbathing and looking at a chair when the idea struck me. I took out a pen and a sheet of paper and started… drawing. I drew all summer, from a chair to my sister and her new husband, a present for their wedding day. That day on patio, I discovered a passion.


The next summer, drawing wasn’t enough to keep me busy. There was a part of me begging for a change but I didn’t know what else to do. Taking a dance or a martial arts class was out of question since I had no money. I had just finished reading Beautiful Creatures series and was about to start Divergent when this girl from my imagination started talking to me. Now, don’t call the asylum. I’m still trying to convince my parents that it’s perfectly normal for my characters to speak to me on a daily basis. It is normal. I swear!


Anyway, this girl named Cassandra (now known as Amya) explained to me that she’d been in a coma for a few months and she needed me to figure out what had happened to her. So I just started writing. And I kept writing and developing this idea and this new world for two months. Until I had myself a first draft. Just like the summer before, I discovered a passion because I had nothing else to do. Unlike with drawing, however, I could feel from the beginning that this passion, this obsession of mine, meant much more. The world I had created was carved in my mind and heart. It followed me everywhere. And then new ideas came along with new characters telling me what to write and arguing with each other. After all, writers are only the medium by which characters tell their story.


And that’s when I knew that this path I had walked into was a one way street. And there was no going back.



Why indie-publishing?

After that summer when I wrote my first draft, I spent two semesters barely touching the story. I had contacted agents and they didn’t like the first few pages enough to want to read the entire manuscript. Honestly, thinking back on it, I understand why. It was the first time I’d ever written anything other than a diary or poems—still part of a diary I kept when I was in high school—or an assignment for a class. Shakespeare didn’t write Hamlet in two months. At least, I don’t think so. And if he did, well, he is Shakespeare after all. For my part, I knew I had a lot to improve. I finished my degree in English literature and applied to a creative writing summer program at the University of Oxford. Receiving my acceptance letter was one of the happiest moments of my entire life. I’d always dreamt of going to England, and visiting the school where scenes from Harry Potter were filmed was all the more exciting. But mostly, I was going to spend three weeks focusing entirely on writing and honing new skills. (That’s not entirely true since I met incredible people along the way and ended up procrastinating and spending time socializing. But it was all worth it.)


Not only did I come back to Canada with enough inspiration and will to write my manuscript completely anew, but I also became much more confident about the words I wrote down on my keyboard. I know I’m not the best writer in the world. I don’t write beautiful metaphors and I dislike descriptions, but there is one thing I am absolutely certain: the stories my characters are begging me to share are worth reading. As for the rest, I have a life-long plan to become the best writer I can ever be.


I got carried away here.


Okay, so I finished writing my story for the second time, I had a few people read it and I hired a good copy-editor (KLA Down Editorial Services). I wrote what I thought was a decent query letter and sent it to approximately 40 agents. I was convinced that this time, someone would ask for the whole manuscript.


I waited for two months—or more, I can’t really remember. Until I came across an article on self-publishing—or indie-publishing to be exact. They explained the pros and cons of publishing your book on your own or with a small/indie publishing house. I did a lot of research on indie-authors’ blogs and many websites explaining the difference between the many options an author has. I even asked Reyna Pryde, author of Bound by Sacrifice and Unique: A New Breed, about her process of self-publishing. It is after several articles and real-life stories that I realized how fun it would be to have control over everything regarding my first novel. From front to back cover, marketing, rights, and much more! And that’s when I took the decision to indie-publish. It wasn’t easy, as I’d always pictured myself working with one of the “Big Fives”, but I was convinced that it was the right choice.


And today, only a few days after my first novel was released, I know for sure that it was.

 



Process of indie-publishing

I can’t stress enough how incredibly proud I feel when I look at the final product, when I hold this new born book in my hands. Except for copy-editing—because I suck at editing, especially editing something I’ve been writing for months—I created everything from scratch. It’s like my baby has 98% of my genes! And it’s an incredible feeling.


There are, however, two cons to indie-publishing.


For one, I invested so much time into marketing and reading about indie-publishing to make sure I wasn’t doing the wrong thing that I stopped writing the sequel to AMANI: Remember for a good two-three months.


And I still don’t know if all those efforts/hours will be worth something someday. Only time will tell.


Marketing and getting your book out there is hard when you’re up against the “Big Fives” and every other publishing house. I have no money to invest in a publicist. I wish I had, believe me, because at least they know what they’re doing. I still don’t.


My only hope is that at some point, someone in the business will read my book and get the word out. Otherwise, all my investments will have been for nothing.


So, I might say that indie-publishing leads to a lot of uncertainty.


But hey! If I wanted a 9am-to-5pm kind of job with a sealed check every other week, I’d have chosen another path, wouldn’t I?


Now, I’m going to talk about my process of indie-publishing. Doesn’t mean it’s the right one and it always depends on your budget.


I had read in an article that Amazon offered the best royalties. Using KDP Select, you can earn up to 70% of your sells on Kindle, which is a LOT compared to what you could earn with a publishing house. Plus, your e-book becomes free to all subscribers. At the end, you get a percentage of a big pool of money generated by KDP Select. All you need to promise is that you will make your e-book available on Amazon only for 90 days. Paperback and Harcover aren’t an issue. If you do that, KDP Select rewards you by giving you a chance with two kinds of promotional programs. After your book has been enrolled in KDP Select for 30 days, you are allowed to create a Kindle Countdown Deal, in which you design a discount for up to 7 days, or use the Free Book Promotion, in which you set your e-book for free for a few days only. Those two options help your sells up and hopefully, lead to more reviews.


If you want to sell a paperback version of your novel, I highly recommend Createspace with Amazon.


If, however, you want to make your book available to libraries, schools, and bookstores, you can also go to Blurb.com. It is a free website that allows you to reach more people because bookstores cannot order from Amazon. Although your royalties on Amazon are much higher. On Blurb, you will set your price and chose whether or not you allow people to return your books if they can’t sell it. You have a lot of control on Blurb, but once your book is approved, you cannot upload another version, like on Amazon, so make sure you’re done editing before your upload your PDF.


IngramSpark is another website that makes your book available with other distributors, but this one isn’t free. It costs about $60 US to create your novel in paperback. I didn’t try hardcover yet, simply because I read in an article that paperbacks sell more. And I can’t upload an e-copy yet because I enrolled in KDP Select, but if you want all three versions of your book available to the world, I’m pretty sure the price will be at least $100 US. Again, don’t try to change anything once you’ve paid the fees because they’ll charge you twice, even if you just wanted to change the “one sale” date. Learn from my mistakes.


Now that I used all three websites, not really knowing which would sell best, I noticed that sometimes, Amazon uses the Blurb price, because Blurb sends your book on Amazon, and sometimes they show the price I chose on Createspace. I still don’t know if that is an issue, but I guess if you want to spare some time, you can always choose to publish with Blurb only and maybe IngramSparks if you want to invest a little. But if you do that, you won’t have access to Amazon’s promotions and high royalties.


Difficult choice, isn’t it?

 



Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

The title says it all. If you choose to indie-publish and you can’t afford a publicist, you have to do everything yourself.


That’s where all my time went. Into reading about marking and reading about marketing… AND trying to market my book.


Oh, man. That process is the most difficult and discouraging.


To save you some reading, here’s what I leant.

0) KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE


1) For a first book, you must set your price low. For an e-copy, the lower the better. Even for paperbacks and hardcovers. Paperbacks published with publishing houses are on average $10 US. If, like me, your novel has 370 pages, it’s impossible to set the price that low. I think the lowest I could go was $13.99. That was just the price for printing it. So I chose $14.99 in order to gain a little from my sells. The girl’s got to live after all. If you set your price too high, your book won’t sell. Unless you’re already well known and your fans would buy anything from you. If that’s the case. Good for you!


2) Give lots of e-copies in exchange for reviews. Again, the more the better. Reviews are the key to getting your book out there. Bad ones as well as good ones. Let’s face it, if your book only has 5* reviews, something’s wrong. You can’t please everyone 100%. Readers will look at your reviews before they buy your book, and all 5* means you either paid people to give you that much or you and your family wrote them yourselves.


I can already hear you say: “What if someone gives that PDF version I sent them to other people?”


I’ve been afraid of that for a while, but one of my tutor at Oxford told me that at some point, if you want to move forward, you need to trust some people. How are we sure we trust the right ones? Well, we aren’t, but that applies to life in general, doesn’t it?


3) I also suggest to try and get in contact with radio stations and TV programs, but since I have no experience at all in that subject and since all my efforts haven’t been successful so far in that department, I’m going to let you figure things out on your own. Good luck!


4) GOODREADS! Create your author page on Goodreads, get into reading groups, and mostly, create a Giveaway! Just so you know, you can’t giveaway e-books, only paperbacks or hardcovers, so don’t get too excited on the number of books you sign up. I personally gave away 5 paperback copies of AMANI: Remember. Two in the UK and three in the US. Might cost a whole lot of money to ship them, but I believe it’s worth it.


5) Enter book contests. Now, most of them cost money. And a whole bunch of those cost a LOT of money, so don’t get fooled. Take some time to read about the panel judges and check the list of last year’s winners.


6) Plan a VBT (Virtual Book Tour). Book tours are expensive. Even established publishing houses stalled on investing so much on book signings and public speaking events for authors who are just beginners in the industry. If you don’t already have a big readership, I don’t believe, again according to many articles I read on the Web, that a traditional book tour will be lucrative. VBT, however, are free and, if you choose the blogs you visit carefully, it might even set you on the map! All you need to do is google the kind of book your write and contact the blogs who seem to have the biggest readerships. I just started doing that, and so far, those big blogs are off limits, as they are affiliated with publishing houses and thus, never accept indie-authors. Some simply don’t have time to interview authors. I’ll update with a list once I actually receive positive responses! Don’t forget to choose the number of days you want to be on a book tour and update it on your website, Facebook, and Twitter once you have your full schedule!


7) Promotions on Facebook, Goodreads, and everywhere you can! I didn’t say it before, but if you don’t already have a FB page and a Twitter account, get on it now! The key here is to be active and post things interesting to your readers. If you write YA novels, your Facebook page should represent a teen’s interests. If you write mysteries, you must be mysterious in a way that will pull the readers in and make them want to read your books. It’s as simple as that. And yet quite challenging.


Now, you can “Boost” your Facebook posts or create an ad on Goodreads. With both, you decide of the amount of money you want to invest and how many days the ad will last. You can also boost your FB author page! In my case, that generated about 100 more likes than anything else I’ve tried so far. Choosing your audience is the best feature about this marketing tool. It makes you choose the location, the interests, the age, and the gender of the people being targeted by your ad. If you use it correctly, you can reach new readers and thus expand your book’s success.


8 ) All in all, your goal is to build a brand for yourself as a writer and for your books. Everything from having a catchy phrase to pulling in new readers using Youtube videos or writing a Blog will help. And you can also create a compelling press release to send everywhere!


9) Most of all, you need to have FUN and ENJOY this process. If you’re tired and discouraged, re-read your positive reviews and remind yourself why you’re doing it. Or write on a new project. Indie-publishing is hard and if you’re not ready to put a lot of efforts into it, you’re most likely going to regret it.

 


I’m not a pro of the industry (yet) but I wrote this article to help people like me and save you some time. I don’t even want to count the hours I spent on reading articles and taking notes. If I were to get paid for them, I’d already be rich.



I hope this helps a few people and I’ll update if I think of something else!


 

Thanks for reading! :)

 

Interview with author M. J. A. Watney

Posted by Lydhia Marie on May 6, 2015 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

For those of you who like a good mystery/ thriller read, you are going to love Kybernos by M J A Watney. It was acclaimed a "Great suspensful book," "An intriguing world of alternate takes," and a "Fantastic Thrill Ride!"


The Willderschen, a shadowy alliance of some of the most powerful people on the planet, are dead, killed in an explosion. But why should that matter to Bertram, a lonely middle-aged Physics teacher, to Anita, an overweight schoolgirl escaping her bullies, or to Charles, a toff with more money than sense who thought he was just out on a boozy stag-week with his mates? And who exactly are the Kybernos? And why do they need the help of this motley trio so desperately? Meanwhile, in an apparently unrelated incident, a tiny space capsule, returning from a three-year mission to Mars and back, overshoots its landing ground in the deserts of Kazakhstan, arcs low across the Polish sky and hits crowded Kazimierz market in the Old Jewish quarter of Krakow, unleashing a cataclysm that nobody could have predicted. As two groups of people unknown to each other and a hundred miles apart struggle to bring the growing catastrophe under control, Bertram Anita and Charles finally come to understand the true nature of the Kybernos and, more importantly, the power within all of us to control our destinies, if only we can learn how to harness it. For, truly, there is no such thing as a coincidence. Sparsely written to maintain pace, and told by a sometimes acerbic narrator, this story has no chapters but shifts rapidly from focus to focus as if a movie. Set primarily in and around the Polish cities of Krakow, Lublin and Zakopane, and featuring American, British and Polish protagonists, the book’s themes explore chance, intuition, manipulation, unrequited love and the pleasure to be found in Polish beer.




Eleven Questions


Title of most recent book:

Kybernos

 

What inspired you to write this book?:

I had the fundamental idea in my mind for ten or fifteen years, but I lacked a McGuffin and a setting. The McGuffin came to me when I learnt about a particular space mission that was causing concern to some scientists. I found my setting when I visited Lublin for the first time in 2009 and again in 2010: it’s an exciting vibrant city because it has a very large student population. See here

 

I have always been fond of Poland. I first went there in 1987 in the last years of communism. I was an official guest of the youth organisation ZSMP. My hosts were incredibly generous to me: the situation in Poland then was appalling yet the people were somehow surviving thanks to a spirit of nationalism and quiet rebellion. In 1987 I spent time in Warsaw, Krakow and Zielona Gora.

 

In 2009 and 2010 as well as visiting Lublin I also returned to Krakow which was by then a thriving bustling metropolis. I was very struck by the market in Kazimierz, the Old Jewish Quarter, so I decided to use that as a secondary setting. By my return in 2010, I knew I was going to set Kybernos in this region, so from Krakow I took a day-trip to Zakopane specifically for research. I haven’t had an opportunity yet to get into the Tatra Mountains themselves (looking forward to it greatly) so that part of the book had to be researched on the internet.

 

The great tragedy of our existence is that we spend decades gradually acquiring experience and then, just at the moment that finally we understand life, the universe and everything, we die ... leaving the next generation to struggle forward repeating all the mistakes we made. An author’s most important responsibility is to try to bridge the gap between generations, so that at least some of the things we older types have learned over the years are passed across the divide, before we too shuffle off this mortal coil. So I wrote the book primarily because there were certain cautionary things I wanted to say to young people (for example: beware the acorns). Of course, nobody is going to spend money to be lectured at, so authors camouflage their messages behind entertaining adventures. Look deeper however, and the reader will see that Kybernos does contain some very serious thoughts beneath the sugar-coating of derring-do.

 

One young reviewer has written “The best way to sum up how I felt about this book is mind blown.” That was precisely my intention.

 

 

Why did you choose the path of self-publication?

I didn’t. It chose me.

 

To publish traditionally, you need an agent. I have had two agents in my time. The first ran a two-person agency and she was brilliant; the second headed up a major agency and was useless (I had to sack her).

 

With Kybernos I spent more time looking for an agent than I spent writing the book. Only four were willing to read the manuscript, and in the end none of those wanted to go forward. Exasperated, I decided to self-publish, mainly so as to be able to move on and get back to writing. It is important not to obsess over one particular project but to know when to draw a line under it and start the next.

 

How much of your main characters is biographical?

The three main characters are entirely fictitious but include autobiographical elements. Some secondary characters are broadly based on a mixture of people I have known, and towards the end I give an affectionate shout-out to some friends (but suitably disguised so that only they will recognise themselves). Gonzalez-Watson, long dead now, is the only real person in the book: he was a Chilean fascist my father knew in 1940 and appears in his memoir He Also Served.

 

 

What do you like the most/least about writing?

What I like most is the catharsis. What I like least is the loss of privacy that publication brings.

 

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

I rarely experience writer’s block because I am totally opposed to the regimentation that so many writers these days inflict on themselves: the idea of writing a particular number of words each day is anathema to me. I write when I feel inspired to write, and if I don’t feel inspired to write I simply get on with all the other demanding responsibilities that make up the rest of my life.

 

When I was younger and less self-confident, my solution to writer’s block was simple: I would write two books simultaneously, so when one became stale I could switch to the other. I don’t feel the need to do that any more.

 

What kind of music inspires you the most?

Music doesn’t inspire my writing, but it may complement my writing afterwards. For example Daughter’s Youth seems to sum up exactly the predicament of one of my secondary characters: “Setting fire to our insides for fun, to distract out hearts from ever missing them”. Click here

 

Throughout my life, one particular singer-songwriter has articulated my feelings and beliefs with disarming accuracy. Towards the end of the book you will find a thinly-disguised homage to this person.

 

How important are the names in your book?

Utterly unimportant, except to pander to readers’ prejudices (so wealthy characters tend to have sophisticated names like Benedict).

 

I have given the main Polish character the name of a friend who helped very much with the research, and have told him so. Authors are uniquely privileged to be able to thank people in this way, and it is always appreciated. We should do so more often.

 

I have lost contact with one of my generous hosts in 1987, so I have given two minor characters his surname and that of his boss at ZSMP as a signal to him to get in touch (one he might mistake for a coincidence: two he will not).

 

What kind of books do you read?

Literature. Favourite authors are Virginia Woolf, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Hermann Hesse, J D Salinger, Arthur Koestler, John Fowles, Gogol, Vladimir Nabokov and quite a few more. My favourite living author is Julian Barnes.

 

I am very impressed by Eimear McBride who lived with rejection for nine years before a tiny publisher in Norwich finally dared to take a gamble with A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (she wrote it at age 27: it was published at age 36). Take a bow the Galley Beggar Press, for it went on to win the £30,000 Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction 2014 (previously known as the Orange Prize). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-27695371 . “She didn't compromise and make it like every other book. She kept on with her conviction that her own voice and originality was the way to go - and that paid off.” – Helen Fraser. It’s an incredibly difficult book to read as Eimear McBride ignores all rules of grammar, and it is so unremittingly bleak it makes Jude the Obscure look like a rom-com (so definitely not holiday-reading), but it is still an immensely worthy book.

 

I am presently reading H is for Hawk, the winner of the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction by Helen Macdonald. “You can’t tame grief”.

 

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Of course not. It went through four drafts plus several passes within each draft. Today it goes where I always intended it to go. I wouldn’t have published until it did.

 

Anyway, the wonderful thing about self-publishing is that you can unpublish and then issue a new edition any time you want.

 

 

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

No. I never reveal anything about work-in-progress in case it comes to nothing.

 


You can find out more about Kybernos on Amazon.



Thanks for reading!

Interview with author Laura May

Posted by Lydhia Marie on May 1, 2015 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

In need of a good laugh or simply to get out of your ordinary life? Then I have the perfect remedy for you. Pickles and Ponies: A Fairy-Tale (adult fairy-tale) by Laura May.

 

Thanks to a curse, Prince Vanya was born with a silent heart. Luckily, he has his talking horse (conveniently named 'Horse') to help — and he'll need it. The prince is on a quest to save Melodia, Princess of Rather Fishlike Things, who's been thoroughly brainwashed. On his way he'll encounter friends and foes, most of them with attitude. Meanwhile, Melodia stumbles into ill-advised adventures of her own.

 

Will the prince manage to rescue the princess? Will he break free from his curse? And most importantly, will there be a happily ever after?



Read the following to know more about the author and her inspirations.

 

Name:

Laura May

Title of most recent book:

Pickles and Ponies: A Fairy-Tale (a fairy-tale for grown-ups)

What inspired you to write this book?

My grandmother made me promise to write her a book, so it was really all emotional blackmail. I was living in Russia when the ideas started coming together, which led to a fair bit of Russian folklore sneaking in. Apart from that, inspiration was just from the crazy situations I found myself in, and the amazing people I met while travelling!

Is there a message in your novel that you would like writers to grasp?

There are quite a few in there. I can’t help myself I’m afraid—I’d been teaching from ‘The Little Prince’ immediately before I started writing it, so didn’t hold back with delivering moral messages! Definitely believing in yourself, seeking balance in your life, and understanding that you can’t control others’ feelings are three of the big ones.

What do you like the most/least about writing?

The first thing that comes to mind is that Ernest Hemingway quote, that “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.” Typewriter and vein-opening aside, this is pretty spot-on. Inevitably, I find that a lot of the things you personally struggle with or have personally been through as an author make their way into your writing, whether that’s pain or pleasure. One of the things I like most about writing is how cathartic it is—getting something off your mind, or rewriting things perhaps the way you would have wanted them to be. On the other hand, I think it’s quite difficult to be exposed like that, especially when your book is available to the world! Haha though now that I’ve said that, probably the thing I like least of all is redrafting. And redrafting again. And redrafting some more. But does anybody like that part?!

If you could be any animal or insect, what would you be?

Well obviously a lion. Who wouldn’t choose a lion? Lions are awesome, just look at Simba. Sure he had some teething problems growing up, but he got to kick some serious ass by the end.

Is there one subject/theme you would never write about and why?

I avoid writing about anything really depressing nowadays, as I find it really sucks you in. “Never” is a long time, but for now anything super-dark is off the cards.

What kind of books do you read?

It would be easier to tell you what I don’t read (namely: Westerns and true crime). My favourite genre is magical realism—if that’s not a genre, it should be!—especially by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Ruis Zafon, Lisa See, and newcomer Yangszee Choo. I also love really ridiculous and absurd comedies (think Douglas Adams or Sorin Suciu), plus quite a bit of fantasy (eg Sarah J Maas). Ooh, but then there’s Dianne Wynne Jones and Yasunari Kawabata, and Wilbur Smith as a guilty pleasure.

Do you believe in “Happily Ever Afters?”

In the literary sense I think they’re inevitable—they’re what people want to read, and books and film are escapism after all. Why live another life if it’s never going to go the way you want? We all want the girl to get the guy, the demons to be defeated, the personal growth to occur, happiness to be attainable. In real life though I’m very deeply cynical, and remain unpersuaded. I guess I’ll have to keep you posted (and if I start writing trashy romance, you’ll know why!).

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

I’d like the ability to make people happy. I just really don’t like that people have to be sad sometimes, and I’d like to be able to alleviate that for them. Actually that’s part of the reason I started giving my book away for free (www.explaura.net/book-giveaway) —I figured that if it could bring a smile to some unknown face, then that was pretty awesome.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Yes! I’m currently working with my friend Sorin to put together an anthology in memory of Sir Terry Pratchett, with all funds raised going to Alzheimer’s Research UK. Submissions are open at the moment (until the end of May), and we’ve had some fantastic ones pouring in. It’s a really exciting project, and for a brilliant cause. Any budding writers who are interested in learning more can check out www.explaura.net/call-for-submissions.



 

Interesting right? You can find her book on Kobo, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, and Barnes&Noble

To follow Laura May, visit her websiteGoodreadsFacebookTwitter, and Youtube.


Thanks for reading!

Interview with author Tokie Laotan-Brown

Posted by Lydhia Marie on April 29, 2015 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Tired of the recession? Still unable to manage your income in an efficient way? Tokie Laotan-Brown's book "Recession Buster: 10 Steps to Managing your Household Budget" might be just what you're looking for!


This book will lay down 10 simple steps to a structured way of dealing with the current recession and how to use your actual finances that are incoming to elevate and dictate to bill operators on how you will like to pay your own bills. The reason behind this book is to acknowledge the fact that, there is a recession and majority of the people around the world are being squeezed with numerous outgoings. I understand the squeeze and I have come to understand the math behind household budgeting without the added stress.



Tokie Laotan-Brown is currently undertaking a joint PhD Program in Economics and Techniques for the Conservation of the Architectural and Environmental Heritage at the University of Nova Gorica and Universita Luav Di Venezia, Italy. Aside from being a mother, a wife, a mentor, and an inspiration for many women, Tokie takes on many other projects. 

To know more about Tokie's realizations, visit her website and keep reading.


I was lucky enough to be granted some of Tokie's precious time for an interview for our Eleven Questions category.


 

Name:

Tokie Laotan-Brown

Title of most recent book:

Working on my next book, “Jump Start Your Personal Economy in 7 Steps” out in June 2015

What kind of books do you read?

Thrillers, Mystery and Sci-fi…Like Jodi Picoult, Stephen King and of course Cultural Heritage Books, Finance and Investments

What inspired you to write your novel?

I wanted to put down everything I knew about Money Management as it affected my everyday situations/decisions

You say in the introduction to your book that you understand the “squeeze” people are currently living under the recession, but that you “have come to understand the math behind household budgeting without the added stress.” How does your book differentiate itself from other books about the recession?

My book embodies the struggles and experiences of myself, friends and family, it is about the real life, real time issues we all had to face during the recession and ways I was able to deal with daunting but simple and effective money management tools to keep head above water. With my book as an aid, I have helped women’s groups use these tools to work towards eliminating debt. It also inspired the production of a workbook as an additional tool.

You are currently undergoing a joint PhD program at two Italian Universities; you have written a book in English as well as in Spanish; how many languages do you speak? Which other language would you want to learn next?

Lool, Languages are a passion of mine, I love to interact with people using their language as a tool for active communication. I was born in Germany, German was my first language. English my mother tongue. A bit of Italian to get by, Basic Spanish, having worked in Spain…I understand some Yoruba and Edo dialects, my parents are from Nigeria….hoping to learn Portuguese and Mandarin

You were a Nominee Finalist “Career Woman of the Year” as well as “Inspirational Woman of the Year” in 2014. How would you say you inspire the people around you?

I guess, people marvel at the amount of work or projects I take on as well as raise 3 kids, (twins included), travel to different countries and the work I do with building conservation, African heritage as well as home finance management seminars. I guess, it is a difficult question to answer.

If you were given a million dollars tomorrow, what would you do with it?

I will start a home fund for vulnerable women and kids. I believe every woman should own her own home.

Is there one subject/theme you would never write about and why?

Hmmmm….not sure yet….

What do you want to accomplish before you die?

To leave a legacy for my girls and to promote what I have learned from my Ancestors.

What is the best advice you could give to your readers currently living in recession?

Consistency and Determination are keys to managing your financial goals




Her book, Recession Buster: 10 Steps to Managing your Household Budget is available in English as well as in Spanish on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Barnes & Noble.

 

You can follow Mrs. Laotan-Brown on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Thanks for reading!


Interview with author Antuan Vance

Posted by Lydhia Marie on April 22, 2015 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)

If you wish to find a good Christian, action-packed, sci-fi story to read, I strongly recommend The Catalyst.


When Earth's greatest enemy returns, Lukas Brown must send his daughter and protegé west on a dangerous cross-country mission, and retrieve the key component to the world's survival, The Catalyst.

But the road west is filled with more delays and challenges than expected, and Lukas discovers there's more to their newest threat than meets the eye.



What follows is an interview with the author about his newly published novel as well as his writing habits.

 

Name:

My name is Antuan Vance.

 

Title of most recent book:

The Catalyst

 

What inspired you to write this book?

I honestly can’t remember the specifics. I wish I could. The story came to me in bits and pieces over time, and is part of a much larger story.

 

A year or so before I started this novel, I was working on a different one. It wasn’t moving forward; so I had to retire it. And because I am a writer, and desperately wanted to put something in print, I started something new. Something different. I put my brain to work; and it came to me. I would write a quasi-romantic, action-packed cross-country adventure with Levi and Abigail. As However, after writing the prologue, it became just as much about Lukas (and the door at the end of the hall) as it was about Levi and Abigail.

 

What is your writing style?

I write it as I see it, as if I’m watching a movie or TV show. I write it as a movie in text form. Only, you get to see/hear people’s thoughts. And I experience and play with the conversations as I write them. It makes the dialogue more real.

 

How much of your novel was influenced by your personal life?

A little bit. Levi is kind of an unflattering, alternate universe version of me. He looks like me, but with more muscles (Ha!). His tastes reflect mine. Since Levi runs the radio, I get to compliment my favorite bands. I’m a Star Trek fan. I had to mention how amazing it is.

 

Having worked in the hotel industry, I know what hotel staff are and are not to do and made sure Alexis did everything wrong.

 

What do you like the most/least about writing?

What I like the most about writing is creating, visualizing, and enjoying the story. It exciting having ideas and pouring yourself into a different reality. I like to ponder on the possibilities of a story going in different directions. It’s also very satisfying having the story shift in a way you didn’t initially intend to when you started the story.

 

What do I like the least? Probably the difficulty of having your stuff read. If you’re not connected with the right people, people who have the time, interest, and energy to appreciate your work, it can be a very lonely and frustrating process, even disheartening.

 

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

Yes. I’ve had writer’s block on a number of stories, and briefly on this one. What I learned was that, despite the block, I still had to write something. So, I just pushed through it. I fabricated conversations between my characters. A fun thing to do is to have your characters talk to each other, even if, in the moment, the conversation might not work in the story. You learn something about the characters. You might even get a great conversation that will fit later in the story. Who knows, sometimes that conversation reveals new possibilities for the characters or events that you hadn’t once considered.

 

What subject wouldn’t you feel comfortable writing about?

Myself. Hahaha. I’m a very private person. I can write about any subject that I have a grip on. However, a lot of me is off limits, simply because I like to be known more intimately, person-to-person.

 

What kind of books do you read?

I read a lot of the popular stuff like Twilight, Harry Potter, something written by Stephen King or Dan Brown, but mostly science fiction and fantasy. Occasionally, I read the Nikki Heat series. It’s a crime procedural based off of the ABC TV show, Castle. Gotta love a good mystery.

 

What is your favorite book of all time?

The Holy Bible, of course. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without it. It is the key tool of life and liberty.

 

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

No. I don’t share my work until it’s finished. I have found a closed door goes a long way in the creative process.

 

If you want to know more about this author and his published books, visit his website or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

You can also find his novel on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, and more!



Thanks for reading!

PRESS RELEASE

Posted by Lydhia Marie on March 31, 2015 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

MARCH 30th. The first of Lydhia Marie’s upcoming young adult novels in the AMANI series will publish on May 8th 2015. AMANI: Remember will be available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format, as well as on Ingram in paperback.

About Lydhia Marie

Lydhia Marie was born in a small town in Quebec, Canada. She discovered her passion for writing later in life during her last summer as an English student at Bishop’s University. To be honest, she wasn’t much of a reader before she started her degree, but this hate for words transformed into a passion for reading and then morphed into a need for writing. Strange but nonetheless true.

After finishing her first draft, she attended a three-week creative writing course at the University of Oxford, where she realized that her first manuscript was very badly written. Fortunately, the idea behind the writing was “so unique and different,” according to an early critique of the novel, that she decided to write the entire manuscript anew, from a blank page to the epilogue.

She enjoys books that transports her into a new world and characters that are both original and relatable. But most of all, she loves spending time writing or reading with her dog, Bookie, on her lap, looking adorable with his legs in the air and his belly ready to be rubbed.

About AMANI: Remember

From the first time Amya gains consciousness in a hospital, she tries to remember the train of events that landed her in a coma, as well as the lost memories of more than eleven months of her life. But her struggle does not stop when she wakes up. The world around her is falling apart. Her best friend Samera needs her help and urges her to work for the Protectors of Amani again and her friend Xander is the victim of a Rascal’s bite. A Rascal only needs to touch somebody in order to feed on their humanity: their energy, their youth, their dreams… But when they bite you, there is no going back.

Using her ability to Sojourn—to project her soul into people’s bodies—and Samera’s capacity to Travel between Dimensions, Amya risks her life and integrity to save a loved one. Little does she know that her friend might be lost forever.

 

For two weeks, starting on April 1st, AMANI: Remember will be available for free on Goodreads for a total of 50 readers!

“Each page was captivating. From page one, there’s already suspense and darkness.” -TheBooksBeyond

“This book is nothing like I've ever read. The story was so unique and different than others that I was absolutely amazed.” –TheBooksBeyond

https://www.facebook.com/LydhiaMarieAuthor

http://lydhiam.webs.com/

https://twitter.com/LydhiaMarie

 

Why is writing important?

Posted by Lydhia Marie on March 12, 2015 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

If you hate books, writing, and everything in between, don't go just yet because I'm not talking about writing a novel or a short story.
I'm talking about The importance of writing.
Now, unless you're a super computer unable to feel anythine, you've probably already experienced what we call an emotion. A feeling, a sense that you are changing in some way. 
You get home from school and your parents ask that you have to do all your homework + do the dishes before you can watch your favorite series. You have a big crush on a guy/girl at school and you find out he/she's dating someone else. OR your best friend invites you to a sleepover or to play videogames all night long. 
Different kinds of emotions, but they all have the same effect. They
change who you are. 
At least for a short period of time.
They change the way you think and behave. And most importantly, they change your future.
So what does that have to do with writing?
Writing is known to be a very easy way to get your feelings out and be done with them.
Ever wrote an angry letter to a frienemy or to a sibling you can't stand?
I'm not talking about a letter that you'll send to the person and then get grounded or expelled from school. What I'm talking about here is a way to express everything you're keeping inside. 
Anger. Angst. Fear. Joy. Excitment. Stress. etc.
All of this can be expressed either in words--or sometimes you're too pissed off and you can't even put words on your emotions so you can draw a big and scary circle or lightning bolt. Whatever works for you, really.

Now, how will writing or drawing what you feel
help?
Have you ever felt like you had no one to talk to? Like nobody would understand what you're going through?
Well, that piece of paper won't ever judge you. And the best part is that it'll never tell anyone what you just wrote or drew. 
And believe me, you'll
feel much better after. 

You don't believe me, do you?

Try it! It's 100% free and you'll soon realize that the unwelcome emotions like fear and angst won't last as long as before. It's simply because you express it, which in turn makes you feel better. 

See? You don't need to be a writer to write. You simply need a little courage and the need to feel good about yourself.

**P.S. Writing with music is even better. Change the soundtrack so it matches your emotion. Then, you might need more than one piece of paper!




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AMANI: Remember Quotes

 

Lydhia’s quotes


“Prudence, my dear fellows, prevents from unfortunate compromises." -Jeffrey” —Lydhia Marie

 

 

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Lydhia's bookshelf: read

 

 

City of Lost Souls

 

Fifty Shades of Grey

 

The Hobbit

 

The Golden Compass

 

Twilight

 

Blood Promise

 

The Van Alen Legacy

 

The Hunger Games

 

Beautiful Creatures

 

Spirit Bound

 

Burned

 

City of Bones

 

The Host

 

Life of Pi

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

 

Romeo and Juliet

 

Jane Eyre

 

Divergent

 

Vampire Academy

 

Masquerade

 



Lydhia Marie's favorite books »