31 October 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: Cover Image

I had some fun playing around with a design for a rough cover image for my NaNoWriMo project this year.

Here it is:

Please note that I do not own the copyright for the original image that I modified, but I have been unable to find any contact information for the photographer. This cover image is only a working design for my personal inspiration. Please contact me should there be any problems.

NaNoWriMo 2013: The Beginning is Very Nigh

November is a sneaky minx of a month. 

Every October for the last four years I have been lulled into the false sense of security that I have a whole 31 days left to hammer out a rough plot; name characters; choose a setting; devise cunning and devious plot twists; and all of the other things that writing a book entails. And every year - without fail - November will come creeping up behind me on assassin-soft feet and find me thoroughly unprepared and flailing about with one week to go before W-Day (write-day). 

2013 has proven to be no different. You think I would have learned by now, but Noooo - I am once again launching myself into the unknown with the fraying thread of a story idea as my only safety net.

I love it!

For those of you who are completely confused about what I am going on about: November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where aspiring writers get together and try to write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in 30 days. 2013 will be my fifth year taking part on NaNo - and hopefully it'll be the year that I finally kick that 50k word count in the gut and dance victoriously over its vanquished corpse.

"National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel."
From the NaNoWriMo website

What to expect on the blog over November?
# Various writing tips, tricks and rants
# Updates on the State of the Book

20 September 2013

Author Interview: Rae Rivers

I'm very excited to introduce you to a new author today. Rae Rivers' debut paranormal romance series The Keepers is being published by Harper Impulse and she's agreed to join me for an interview.

I’m an avid reader and writer with a passion for writing romance novels. I live in Cape Town, South Africa, with my gorgeous husband, two beautiful children and a zoo of house pets.

Besides writing, I love family time, the outdoors, travelling, watching TV series, reading and chocolate.

For more information about my books, or me, please visit www.raerivers.com

Congratulations on The Keepers series being picked up by Harper Collins! What has the experience been like?

Thank you! It's been an incredible experience. I work with a team of amazing editors. I've grown so much in the last four months as an author and it's because of their guidance, enthusiasm and support. It's hard work and I'm trying not to let them down so it's also been as stressful as it's been fun. Harper Collins is a big publishing house but the team at Harper Impulse have so much heart. I'm truly blessed to be an author with them.

I know that we're not supposed to judge books by their covers, but the design team at Harper Impulse have done a wonderful job with the series. How much input did you have in the final designs and do you have any favourites?

I'm probably biased but I think these covers are beautiful! The pentagram has a special meaning to my witch and her Keepers and it's lovely that it was pulled through to all the books. I was asked for my opinion on the first cover but in the end, the cover for The Keepers: Archer was nothing like I envisioned – and I'm so glad that they opted for something bolder. I loved the cover so when the time came for them to make the covers for the rest of the series, I left the entire process to the design team. Mt only request was that they looked similar. The day I received all four covers together was a wow moment for me. My favourite cover would probably be Archer's one as it captures the story so well.

What drew you to romance as a genre? And why the paranormal side of the tracks?

I love romance and happily ever afters, but I do prefer them to be spicy and filled with twists, turns, action, and suspense. As for the paranormal side – I had never thought of venturing into this genre but one day, my witch came to mind and wouldn't relent until I'd told her story. She finally convinced me when I realized her story came with three sexy brothers. 

The Keepers series centres around three warrior brothers and the witch that they must protect. Where did this idea come from?

I had lunch with a friend one afternoon and we were chatting about paranormal books. On the way home, a witch came to mind and my mind started spinning with ideas. It was so exhilarating. My husband was out with the children so I had the entire afternoon to myself (a rarity!) so I sat down without a map or a synopsis and started writing. It wasn't long afterwards that Archer came to mind, along with his two brothers – her Keepers. They were her protectors and allies in defending the good. There's something about a feisty woman but I simply love the idea of her trio of fierce protectors! A few chapters in, I took the time to map out the book, realising it would be a series.

What does your husband think about all of these gorgeous alpha males that are roaming around in your imagination?

Haha, he finds it amusing! He's been incredibly supportive with my writing and has clocked up truck loads of brownie points. Besides, he knows that he's my ultimate alpha male! 

The Keepers is set in Canada. Did you make a conscious decision to set the story outside of South Africa?

Rapid Falls is a fictional town but I opted for Canada as it felt like the right setting for the series. There are so many wonderful places in SA that would make a great setting for a novel so it's definitely something I'd look at for future books.

What's your writing style? Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer or do you prefer to have things a little bit more planned out?

A bit of both. I have the entire series mapped out so I know where I'm headed. I have many high points in each book that I need to reach, but once I start writing, my characters take the lead. Sometimes they steer off course and surprise me, other times, it's annoying and I have to backtrack. But we get there in the end!

What project are you currently working on?

I've recently finished writing Sienna which is out soon and now I'm working on the next book in the series, Declan. After that, it's Ethan's turn!

Any advice to new writers out there?

We're so fortunate to have social media which serves as a wonderful platform to meet new authors, readers, and publishers. Connect with them, make new friends, learn from them, and you'll be surprised where it takes you. There's a lovely writing group in SA ROSA – who have been a huge support to me. Also, don't be discouraged. It's a hard process but keep at it and keep writing. You can't submit what you haven't written. Enjoy the journey!

What books are currently next to your bed?

My Kindle is loaded with some fabulous reads and Harper Impulse has brought out so many wonderful titles this year. I adore reading but sadly, with tight deadlines for this series, my reading time has dwindled. The moment I pick up my Kindle, a voice starts nagging me that I should be writing! At the moment I'm reading Waking Up In Vegas by Romy Sommer – another lovely author from SA who signed with Harper earlier this year.

19 September 2013

Cover Reveal: The Keepers by Rae Rivers

I am thrilled to be taking part in the Cover Reveal for Rae Rivers' new paranormal romance series, The Keepers. I'll be hosting an Author Interview with Rae tomorrow, but without further ado let me show you the pretties:

Step into the world of The Keepers, three warrior brothers destined to defend a powerful witch. They are her fierce protectors, friends, and allies in maintaining the balance of nature. Three brothers, three stories and hot romance!

The Keepers: Sienna is the free Prequel to the series, followed by The Keepers: Archer. These first two books are about Sienna (the witch) and her Keepers and focuses on the blossoming but forbidden love between Sienna and her oldest Keeper, Archer Bennett.

When two evil warlock brothers return to their small town of Rapid Falls, trouble starts to brew. Will their love survive the ultimate war? 

The Keepers: Sienna Release Date: 26 September 2013 
The Keepers: Archer Release Date: 20 June 2013 
The Keepers: Declan To be advised 
The Keepers: Ethan To be advised

06 September 2013

NBW 2013: In Conclusion

Another National Book Week here in South Africa has sped past. Thank you all for stopping by to read the posts and I hope that your love of books and reading continues to grow.

NBW 2013 posts

by Nerine Dorman

by Shelagh Parry (i.e. me)

by Kelly Ansara

I thought it would be fun to end the week with some quotes on reading from people far more eloquent than myself. I hope you enjoy them.

05 September 2013

NBW 2013: Bookshelf Love with Kelly Ansara

Kelly is a 24 year-old blogger, junior publisher, coffee addict and self-confessed book nerd.  She has always dreamt of having "super-fast reading" abilities as a superpower so she could join the ranks of X-Men or the Avengers. She has a talent for stealthy book buying; overfills her bookshelf; never bends a book's spine; and believes there is no such thing as too many books.

The oak shelves cower beneath the weight of tomes and textbooks, whittled between gimmicked postcards, key rings and promotional bookmarks. Stories upon each shelve both novel and novice.

This is my sanctuary. Where the world ceases to exist the moment my fingers run along the spines picking a next read, or packing the new and old reads. It’s my proudest and prudent possession in my room. The one place I seek out during stressful times, where I sit against when in need of more than just a hug, the place I stub my toe; I even weigh myself in front of it.

My bookshelf is my pet. It gets wiped down, packed and repacked, neglected in busy times and fed almost weekly. It sits stoically when I ignore it, and vibrantly when I am about to finish a book and seek out another; holding everything from grammar textbooks, to first readers, to first edition novels.

Brightly coloured shelves run vertically, packed haphazardly – a trait frowned upon by every bookseller, a habit I refuse to admit to having in abundance. I love the mismatched author names, except when I can’t find anything, the forgotten ones hidden behind newer acquisitions and collections of classics in series.

A moment where one can run down the rabbit hole, meet the man of your dreams, chase a murderer, weave prose and poem together, sit in front of a madman, dig up a dead body, find the secret weapon, wave a wand, step through a closet door into Narnia, rhyme with time, sing-a-long, and replace a comma with a semi-colon. It’s a maddening thought, almost manic.

Friend and foe at exactly the right moment I need it to be either or; a fire hazard, a librarian’s worst nightmare, grabby-baby-hands frenzy, health risk and endless rantings all rolled into one. There is no order, even though I wish I had the time; no sense to its contents – the risk of wanting to read everything and anything; and no clinical procedures of tracking – I can tell you the basis of my bookshelf, but I’ll be out by at least 70% of its contents.

So I wanted to share my deepest, darkest, whimsical, notorious, delicious, copious, luscious, daunting, fanatical and dripping bookshelf.

So to all the booklovers, bookshelvers, and bookhoarders – raise your hands if you love your bookshelf?

04 September 2013

NBW 2013: Lessons I've Learned from Books

Sitting down to write a post for National Book Week is a lot of fun, but can also be incredibly challenging. There are just so many topics about books and reading that I could tackle and narrowing my focus down to just one is never easy.

Nerine discussed in her post yesterday how books can be doorways into new and exciting worlds. That got me thinking about what I've discovered on the other side of the particular doorways I've wandered through. Books can be companions and escapes from the pressures of the “real world”, but while I was thinking about this I came to realise that books have also been some of my greatest teachers.

Through books I have been able to share the thoughts of some of the most amazing men and women (both real and fictional) that the world has ever known. I have watched over Marie Curie's shoulder as she discovered and tried to understand radioactivity; I have sat in Russia's Winter Palace and held court with Catherine the Great; I have lived through the horror of the holocaust; I have solved cases with the legendary Sherlock Holmes; and I have crouched by Shakespeare's side as he penned some of his greatest works. These are just some of the gifts that reading has given to me. Moments that I would not have otherwise had the chance to experience.

But more than this gift of experiencing the world, books have taught me some very specific life lessons:

Sometimes the good guys do win

The world can seem to be a very bleak place. With the news constantly bombarding us with stories of violence, yet another crooked politician and war it's tempting to think that things have no way of getting better. But books have taught me that sometimes the good guys do win. No matter the genre, characters frequently overcome impossible odds to make their lives or their little part of the planet a better place. It might be something as simple as a character discovering love for the first time. Or maybe a serial killer is brought to justice through the dedication and intelligence of the police. And possibly the evil sorceress is finally killed and the kingdom is freed.

The good guys do win and it's important to hold on to that belief.

Our actions have consequences

Here in South Africa we are fortunate enough to have one of the world's greatest constitutions. People are always aware of their “rights”. But sometimes it's important to realise that our actions can impact on other people's lives. Countless stories will show how a character's seemingly simple decision can cause a chain of events that have far-reaching effects. The hero's decision to stop for a cup of coffee could place him on a particular stretch of pavement just as a woman is being mugged. A student decides to cheat on an exam and gets caught. The prince refuses to marry the woman his parents have chosen for him. Any of these examples have great potential for a story, but they are ultimately about choice.

Choice is a very powerful thing and should be treated with respect.

Dreams can come true

We all have dreams. We all have at least one thing we'd love to do in our lives. For me it's the desire to become a published writer. For you it might be to travel and see the world. Or even to have your own family. Our dreams, both big and small, shape us. They influence the choices we make and the things we work towards. But so often we let our dreams fall by the wayside as responsibilities and worries press in on us. Books have taught me to hold on to my dreams. To treasure them and to keep them safe. And that they do come true.

Dare to dream.

The people in your life are important

This may seem like a very strange lesson to have learned from books. After all, most of them are populated by completely imaginary people. But think about it. The most interesting books I have read, in any genre, are the ones in which the hero/heroine has someone by their side to help them. Even the relationship with the antagonist adds depth to the story. Humans are, by nature, social beings. I'm not saying we all want to go out and hang around in huge crowds. But we need other people in our lives. It could be your partner, your parents, your high school science teacher or your goofy best friend. Each of those people has helped to shape who you are and they should be treasured.

The people around you have value.

I could probably keep going with these lessons. But I think that you get the general idea. Books are more than just entertainment or a way to pass on facts. They are teachers who will open your eyes to the world.

What lessons have books taught you?

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