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I do like vampires, honest.

The following blog post was originally written as a guest spot over at Fangtastic Books as part of my Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! book tour in September last year.

Please go check it out, and all the other wonderful articles, blog posts and author interviews on Fangtastic Books. I have to say, it was one of my favourite sites on the tour and a place I keep visiting even now for updates on things.

Yes, still in holiday mode so still mostly rehashing my work. My Hordes go back to school at the end of January and so you can expect new posts from me then. Still, this is a great post… even if I do say so myself. 😉

I do like vampires, honest.

In my latest book Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! I have portrayed vampires in a less than pleasant light. I’ve taken them right back to the beginning when they were pure evil and just out for their own pleasure from other people’s pain. I even took a little artistic license by stating they were created as an after effect of people killing a demon. As that demon died, its own coiled Darkness and evilness was released and tainted the blood of its vanquishers, turning them into the vile vampires my protagonist is out to kill.

Some people have told me this shows I don’t like vampires nor appreciate their finer points. This isn’t true, there are some vampires I really do like. See Queen Betsy from MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead and… series. I love her. Yes she gets on my nerves at times, but she’s still a great vampire and a Queen of them too. She is vain, blonde, obsessed with shoes and a randy little minx… but still a gorgeous character and proof you can be a vampire and still be nice, mostly.

Then there are the vampires in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series. Another perfect example of a well-rounded species. Either born with the vampire virus and therefore a living vampire, infected with enough of the virus to become a lesser, turned vampire. Then there are the top of the food chain – someone who was born a living vampire who has died and spent a lot of time being undead. Some are relatively good – despite their need to follow their vampiric urges – and some are not so good. They are a well thought out species and done in such a way they are truly believable. Plus sultry, sexy and elegant without needing to sparkle.

Heck, movie wise, I’d even give the thumbs up to the Lost Boys vamps. I watched it as a teen, wasn’t obsessed with it like some I know, but found them an acceptable portrayal. What me, fussy?

Are there vampires I don’t like? Well, yes. There are the ones that seem to be trying to take over the world one virgin at a time. The teen heart-throb types that sparkle and would look more at home in Disneyland than Transylvania. Don’t get me wrong, these vampires obviously work as they do have their fans… but they are just not for me. The origin and soul of a vampire is in pure evil and darkness, and this doesn’t just mean smouldering good looks and a bad boy leather jacket. They can’t be changed and made better and I’m pretty sure they can’t be cured. Maybe I missed that memo?

But please, don’t take my judgement as the law. Vampires come in all shapes and sizes and you need to find the one you prefer. Hey, if the fang fits and all that!

Would I write about vampires again? Probably, but I would again push the boundaries and go against the current vampiric norm. In fact I already have written about a different type of vampire, a psychic one. Actually I started writing this story some decades ago and have since lost it. Isn’t that always the way when you move out of home, get a job, a life, have kids, etc? Still, one day I would like to find it… or simply start writing it all over again.

So what is a psychic vampire? I can’t say all psychic vampires are like mine, but here’s what I did. A young woman (early twenties) was raped outside a nightclub and was left mentally and physically traumatised. She then moves back to her home town to be with her parents and slowly rebuilds herself and her faith in mankind, seeing her rapist was never found. Slowly she finds the moods of a crowd around her affected her in ways it never used to. She was almost able to feed off of it and soon found actual food no longer necessary. And despite her now dislike of crowds, due to her trauma, she finds herself drawn to them nightly to ‘feed’.

As the story progresses she starts to have physical flashbacks. As in, finds herself in parts of the past and how her home town used to look. Long story short she discovers she’s pregnant from the rape and the child conceived through evil is causing these changes in her. To give birth to it, what will it be and what will happen to her? And, yeah, that’s all I pretty much had figured out and had started writing. I do feel it would be a little different to write these days as I was eighteen when I started it. That’s *cough* twenty years ago now.

How would you create a vampire? Twinkly and new style or go old style and the spawn of hell? Will they feed off blood, emotions, virgins, strawberry smoothies? Do they need to be surrounded by gore and humping, writhing over-sexed bodies to be a good read? And are they the protagonist or the villain? This is why a vampire can be a fun thing to read or write as, quite frankly, there are just so many different types to choose from.

Until next time,

Janis Hill. XXOO

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Writing

 

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Why Urban Fantasy?

This post originally appeared as a Guest blog at Mythical Books as part of my Bewitching Book Tours.

I’m doing it as a re-post here today as I’m ‘on holidays’ but still wanted to give my readers something to look at. I hope you like, and don’t forget to check out all the great things over at Mythical Books and Bewitching Book Tours.

Why Urban Fantasy?

 This is a question I’m asked a lot. Not just as a writer, but as a reader. And I can honestly tell you that people don’t like it when you simply answer “Why not?”

Then again, I’m often asked to explain what exactly Urban Fantasy is as sometimes the lines blur between it and other genres such as speculative fiction.

Well, to me, Urban Fantasy is a story set in our world (or a world almost identical to our own) where fantastical things can happen. Vampires and ghosts are proven to be real and will come around and give you a hard time if you keep saying they’re not. Urban Fantasy doesn’t have to be set in the here and now, it can be historical and it can even be set slightly into the future. In some cases it’s set in a time like our own, but with a slightly different history to our own. See Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series and beware the tomatoes. 😉

I think the reason I enjoy reading (and writing) Urban Fantasy is it’s close to real life, but the way we wish it could be rather than the hum drum it really is. That whole ‘What if…’ scenario of escapism through fiction. Where ‘everyday meets the unexplained’, except Urban Fantasy lets you explain it without having to stick to anything as dull as actual reality and proven facts.

When I write Urban Fantasy, I set it in times and places similar to the here and now as I write in the first person narrative and I want my readers to believe the characters more by being able to relate to them. I do obscure technology, times, dates, etc a little to allow some time to pass in the hopes my stories won’t become dated too quickly. But it will happen and, who knows, someone in one hundred years may look back on what I did with mobile phones in Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics and guffaw at the thought of such technology. Having that fantasy element there hopefully gives me just enough credibility to still allow the story to be believable.

Urban Fantasy isn’t the only genre I enjoy to read and write, but it seems to be the one I’m most comfortable in. I do enjoy a good historical crime fiction story too, ones that were actually written in the times they are set, or ones that are created from researching the era. I don’t mind, as long as it’s a good read and the killer isn’t too easy to suss. And even in some of those there’s a bit of fantasy seeping out, as the unexplained has been with us a long time now. Some stories then go on to explain it in reasonable tones using logic and pointing out the strings and wires used to get the effect, while others happily throw such things as logic in the bin and point out it was a ghost or demon after all. And why not? Demons and ghosts got up to so many fun things in our history, why not let them have their five minutes of fame too?

Why Urban Fantasy? Well, maybe because my imagination has allowed me to never truly grow up and I still enjoy a good fairy tale. Not a happily ever after, not always, but one where the bad guys are truly bad and do gruesome things and there is a good guy there to sort it all out. That play of Darkness and Light I use in my The Other World series. Just because we’re now adults doesn’t mean we don’t like stories about regular people, like ourselves, getting up to all sorts of fantastical things before heading back to work on the Monday. A perfect example of this is Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Perfect piece of Urban Fantasy and one I really enjoyed as the ‘What if…’ opened up so many awesome ideas within my own imagination. In a similar vein see Roofworld by Christopher Fowler. I read this story before Neverwhere and so that seed of ‘What if…’ had already been planted. However, Neverwhere sprouted a totally new series of ideas and situations for me to consider. Still, that whole society within our own scenario is one of my favourite ‘What if…’ and probably where my Other World came from.

Is Urban Fantasy just another type of Young Adult or New Adult? Um, no. Not to me anyway. Although Urban Fantasy can be a sub-genre of both Young Adult and New Adult, it can just as easily fit into the ‘Adult’ section of books too. A lot of Urban Fantasy has adult themes, and not simply because it has overly raunchy sex scenes or drips with blood and gore after a misunderstanding between a vampire and a werewolf. Some Urban Fantasy simply has adult themes as it’s about life as an adult. The trials and tribulations of marrying, having a family, losing the family, etc. Youth don’t want to read about all that. That’s still to come for them and so they can’t always relate. They’d much rather the adventure of a young person like themselves doing daring things, getting the cute guy (or girl) and possibly living happily ever after, but with no true commitments in case someone else comes along in the next book. Well, that’s really just a quick cookie cutter approach to some Young Adult and New Adult Urban Fantasy, but you get the idea, right?

What Urban Fantasy books would I recommend? Well, besides the ones I’ve already mentioned, I enjoy something that has a bit of humour and sarcasm in it as well. But that’s mainly because that’s what I’m like. I often have people ask if I was being sarcastic as I use it so often that it does sometimes get a little hard to tell if I’m being serious or not. Some may see this as a bad thing, but meh. 😉

Really, I just say go to a library and check out what they have. If you like a bit of paranormal in your Urban Fantasy, then authors like Kim Harrison, Katie MacAlister and MaryJanice Davidson are highly recommended. For a bit of Young Adult Urban Fantasy, check out Robert Westall or even some of Terry Pratchett’s work. I have to say one of my favourite Robert Westall Young Adult books is Urn Burial though do feel that one is heading more towards Science Fiction than Urban Fantasy. All the same, a good place to start.

What advice would I give to someone who wants to write Urban Fantasy? Read it first. I give this advice to someone who wants to write in any specific genre. Don’t just think you can do it as you’ve heard about a couple of books and seen a few things on the TV, read the genre. I once thought I could write a romance novel. What I ended up writing was quite a good Young Adult story that was an introduction to Romance… but it did not even scrape the sides as to truly being part of that genre. Why did I fail? It’s because I’m not such a great fan of Romance novels and just felt I could write one as I knew how to write without having to read any first. This won’t cut it. You have to research the theme, learn the flow of the story and the tones to use. And you have to have an open mind and a willingness to learn the theme too and not just dismiss it as beneath you. The same goes for Urban Fantasy.

If I wasn’t such an avid reader and prolific collector of Urban Fantasy, the supernatural and the paranormal, I seriously don’t think I could pull it off. Some people already don’t like my idea of the supernatural as I am avoiding the twinkly ‘Disneyfied’ version so common today and going back to the roots of it all. I liked the old stories, the old ways and the old creatures. And so one of my aims with my Urban Fantasy is to bring them back and let the loose in a new generation’s imagination. The origins of demons, the types of soul collectors and reapers, the difference between a ghost and a wraith. This sort of research is how I spend my writing days. And boy am I going to have fun sharing it! 🙂

Until next time,

Janis Hill. XXOO

 

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2014 in Writing

 

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My dealings with Independent Publishers.

Please note, this blog post is not about any specific independent publisher, merely based on my personal experience with them as a whole. The good, the bad and the ugly. Though I do mention a good publisher. 😉

In the past I’ve mentioned my adoration for the small, independent publishers simply because it was one of them who gave me my first chance to become published. And it was two indie publishers that offered me a contract for my next manuscript. Something the larger publishing houses didn’t do as they didn’t see a market for my style of writing, my Australian voice and so on.

I still stand by my comments that independent publishers can be great places and all Writers and Authors should take them in to consideration when seeking to have their work published. Whether you’re an unpublished writer, a self-published author wanting to work with someone else or a seasoned pro seeking a new publisher – check out the small, independent ones. There are some really good, professional and well run independent publishers out there willing to work with you and help you get published.

Saying all that, I’ve also had some bad experiences with an independent publisher that came across as anything but professional or well run. I won’t name them simply because one of their final emails to me threatened to sue me for defamation if I wrote anything bad about them.

So I’m not writing about them but instead using a negative experience I’ve recently had with a small independent publisher as inspiration to write this post. The blog will be theories, hypotheticals, ifs, maybes and possibilities. There will be a hypothetical situation given, but who’s to say it’s real or just me showing my skill at fiction?

Now, I can’t confirm I’ve been at the end of a rather unprofessional dummy spit after poor planning on someone else’s behalf caused a stuff up and work to be published without permission… It may just be my perception this has happened. See, having three children I seem to see tantrums in everything these days so my view may be rather biased. People stating they are professional writers surely wouldn’t act in such a manner, would they? It’s merely my perception of things and I could indeed be wrong. 🙂

So, now that we have all that covered, let’s get on with my post.

Congratulations on writing something you would like to get published! It doesn’t matter if it is a piece of flash fiction, some non-fiction prose or a full length manuscript. It’s your work and best of luck with getting it out there to be read. Unless you want to go the competition variant with your new work (something I will cover in another blog post at some point) you’re going to be looking for a publisher. Good luck with that!

The best advice I can give, and have given before is – Aim high and go for the major publishing houses, but don’t discount the smaller, independent publishers. A foot in the door is a foot in the door. However… well, some doors really should be avoided. Don’t stick your foot in there; you have no idea what it might get coated in.

What I mean is – research all publishers before submitting any level of work to them. Don’t just read their blurb on how awesome they think they are, put them into your favourite search engine (Google if you must) and see what results you get. Does this publisher get good reviews from Authors and Writers? Are there any blog sites warning against them? What does your local Writing Association or even Society of Authors have to say about them? Some of these organisations have a ‘black list’ of publishers… or at least a list of publishers with a paragraph of feedback as to what they’ve heard about them.

Just because someone has hung out a shingle saying they are a profession publisher, that honestly doesn’t mean a damned thing. As we Writers outnumber the publishing world thousands to one, there are always going to be those who jump on the publishing bandwagon to make money out of our work, but not actually be that professional about how they do it.

For example, and this is a hypothetical scenario only, a small, independent publisher may advertise to do a book of short stories and ask for submissions. They may then take an overly long time to respond to said submissions, are rather obscure about payment details, schedules, layout and so on. Then demand a response ASAP to get on with it. Writers eager to see their work published may jump at the chance to be part of this and so tentatively agree to proceed in the publication. However, when it comes to contract time and the amount of money actually being offered for the Writer’s work is finally given, along with what rights the publisher then wants over the piece of work, things might not look so rosy. The Writer may decline the offer and ask to be removed from the project. So far so good. However, if the small, independent publisher then accidentally includes the piece in their now published project and, while supposedly apologising about it to the Writer, becomes threatening and insulting and uncooperative…

Well, that Writer might then feel confused, insulted and hurt by these actions. Especially if that small publisher then refuses to pay compensation or give royalties from editions that include the Writer’s work already sold. It may even have that Writer seeking legal advice over copyright and how to protect themselves against the further abuse and threats from the so called professional publisher.

Add to that the Writer may possibly have submitted that work to other publishers under the belief it was indeed unpublished and agreed to legal terms and conditions that stated as much… the legal ramifications that may have ensued from that are worrying. As the new publisher could sue the Writer for lying and for offering work they no longer own the rights to. The original publisher could sue the Writer and new publisher for using the work without their permission. There could be copyright infringement litigations and all sorts. None of which would be the Writer’s fault as they were under the impression the work was still theirs as they had an email from the original publisher confirming their work had been removed from the project.

If they, theoretically, asked the Australian going rate for such work as a form of compensation for such stress and upset, they would be perfectly within their right. For the original, small, publisher to then possibly abuse and threaten them with law suits for doing so or for daring to mention it anywhere… Well, it would almost put a person off writing… if it was true.

Not saying this would happen, wouldn’t it be a nasty world if people treated each other like this? Actually our world can be rather nasty so this possibly does happen.

So just be careful of some publishers, small and independent or otherwise. You never really know what they are like until you look into them a little. If, when doing a search on them, you find nothing… do you really want to risk approaching them? Sometimes it’s worth the risk; see the fantastic relationship I have with Hague Publishing. The reason I couldn’t find a lot on them in my searches is because they were brand spanking new. They also admitted this on their site, which is why I decided to give them a go despite little known about them.

However, if there is a small, independent publisher who say they’ve been around for say five to ten years and you can’t find anything on them in your searches… would you really want to risk working with them? I mean yes, there might not be anything negative said about them… but if, after being around so long there is no positive things said about them either, are they really the best place to contact? Do you simply want to get published? Or are you looking to work with a place that will actually help boost your work to a wider audience and get your name out there more? If there is no positive feedback about them online… are they really that known? Is signing your work to them going to be of any help? Or would it have been better simply sharing your work on your blog? For all you know you might get the same level of attention and sales from doing that.

What I’m trying to say is you know how anyone can be a Writer? Well, anyone can also call themselves a publisher too. Writers beware!

I’m not trying to put a Writer off seeking to be published. That would be like trying to stop the ocean’s tide ebbing or flowing. You’re a Writer, you have that same strong desire we all do to write, have your work read and enjoyed by others, have them talk about it… be published! I’m merely suggesting you try and curb your enthusiasm a little and research the publisher first. I know, I know… trying to stop the tide and all that… 😉

Please realise some ‘Independent Publisher’ – as they will call themselves with capital letters to show their importance – are no better than those old style publishing houses who offer to publish your work for thousands of dollars. They promise you the moon, strut about and claim to be important and wonderful and marvellous… and then turn out to be not much better than a dog turd covered in glitter and just looking to make a quick buck off the unsuspecting.

In some respects, such places really encourage me to try and self-publish as I would much rather do that – and get the unfair stigma that comes with it – than work with them.

I’m so lucky to have found a decent independent publisher like Hague Publishing and I really hope you do too. Just do a little research first so you don’t end up blogging your own hypotheticals.

There has possibly been a suggestion that any Writer who would dare cause a fuss by writing a blog on this subject may be sued for defamation. But as this was possibly suggested by someone who may have also then threatened to share a Writer’s details with others to ruin their reputation… It is possible someone was showing they know how to use irony correctly.

However, this is my post full of maybes, possibilities, theories and hypotheticals. I hope it has helped you out… or at least given you a good read during your coffee break.

Don’t stop writing, don’t stop being a Writer and don’t stop being awesome. See the positives in even the worst situations and turn it into an excuse to write something good rather than do something bad. 🙂

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2014 in Writing

 

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The end of NaNoWriMo, a sinus infection and a delay in blogging about it all.

Okay, so this post is a week late, I know. But I really do think the title sums it up for me. As some of my dedicated readers (AKA my family and close friends) know, I have chronic sinusitis. The specialist I see about it has described it as being like having asthma, but in my sinuses rather than my lungs… if that makes sense?

Basically it is a chronic condition I can’t cure or get rid of, just alleviate the symptoms from time to time. I have gone dairy free as this does actually help. I don’t care if there is new scientific research going on and on about how dairy isn’t linked to extra snotty mucus in your head – dairy free works for me. But gosh I miss cheese.

Anyhow, I have chronic sinusitis. It means I can’t hold down a “proper” job as I get sinus infections from working in air conditioning. I get migraine like headaches from the top of my head, through my face, teeth, jaws and down my neck and into my shoulders any time there is a lot of pollen, dust, smoke or crud in the air. I’m my own personal barometer as my sinuses are excellent at telling me when there is a drop in barometric pressure as my ears clog up and my face feels like it’s being crushed like a tin can.

Aint it just awesome being me?

What has this got to do with the whole NaNoWriMo thing you’ve come here to read about? Well, I got struck down with yet another sinus infection two weeks ago and it basically called a halt to all my writing as I was having a hard enough time getting through the basics of my days (getting out of bed, dressing myself, horde wrangling) let alone trying to create and control an Other World 5,000 words at a time.

I don’t take antibiotics for my sinus infections anymore as it still means I’m as sick as a dog for a week or so, but I’m also adding to the antibiotic resistant bugs team by doing so. Instead I stay sick, try and get through my days as best I can with natural remedies and try and not whinge about it too loudly on social media. Heck, this can be a monthly event and that sort of whinging gets old quickly.

So, my house is a mess, my garden is still a scrappy mess, my kids are still messy little Hordes who won’t clean up and Stephanie is still sitting on that damned ferry trying to get off it and into hell. You’re all caught up with me and my NaNoWriMo! How about you, tell me how you went?

Did you get out of NaNoWriMo what you wanted to? Did you make that magical 50,000 words? Or, if not aiming that high, did you reach the goals you set yourself? Remember, I don’t see NaNoWriMo as a competition and really dislike those that do. I see it as a celebration of being a Writer and all Writers getting together to celebrate the magic of words strung together to make new worlds, new adventures, new loves and so on. It is a time to say “I’m a Writer and I love it!” and not be afraid of ridicule. It doesn’t matter the level of your writing, whether you’re a published author, a weekend blogger or a night time fanzine scribbler. You are a Writer and November was our time to say it loud and proud under the NaNoWriMo banner.

Saying that, no I didn’t get my 5,000 words a day done. Then again I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to, no matter how hard I tried. Life just got in the road. My kids needed me, there were assessments to be undertaken (my son is officially Quirky BTW – if you can’t call it aspergers anymore I’m calling it quirky). Stuff just happened. And I ended it all by getting sick.

Am I disappointed I didn’t finish my story? Or write as much as I wanted to? Yes, very much so. I really, really wanted to get There’s no place like Hell completed. I still hope to by Christmas. But, sadly, right now writing has been put on the backburner in my house as being a mum and Haus Frau has more urgent priorities. It sucks, I hate that I can’t just sit and write and it’s a vicious circle. The less I write, the less I am out there being seen as being a Writer. The less work I get completed to build up a name for myself. However, the more I write, the messier the house gets, the less clean clothes we have, the less food there is ready to eat in the pantry. I can’t be two people and I can’t fit it all in. I want to do it all. And that’s why I got the sinus infection… I tried to do everything. Ah well, it happens.

Add the end of the school year, the coming summer holidays, the weather that won’t make up its mind as to whether it’s stinking hot and dry or cloudy and greasy with humidity. The Solstice, Christmas… all the baking and cleaning and prepping that goes with it and – argh! I just want to be a Writer and ignore it all!

Okay, maybe I should have just left it as “Yes I am disappointed I didn’t finish my story.” 😉

One thing that gets me through the constant turmoil of life is focussing on the positives. My positives from NaNoWriMo are this:

I created two new blogs, so I have three all up. One of these new blogs is actually doing quite well and I’ve discovered that if I fail as a fiction writer I might just be able to cut it as a food blogger.

I registered my own domain and am creating my own website. It’s very rough and I’ve only spent a few hours tinkering on it so far, but it’s there and it’s mine.

I did get some pretty good writing done on There’s no place like Hell. I didn’t finish it, but I learnt so much more about the afterlife in my Other World. I got my protagonist on the ferry and on her way to hell. She packed her hand basket and is almost there.

I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, despite it not being a heck of a lot on the grand scheme of things. Nor is it a heck of a lot when compared to what others achieved under the great glittering lights of NaNoWriMo.

Who cares? I created stuff, achieved things and tried my best. I won!!!! Oops, not a competition… got it.

Yes, it’s a small victory I know, but I’ve found it’s a far healthier thing to focus on what positives you achieve rather than dwell on all the festering, nasty ‘coulda woulda shoulda’ that bitch at you in the darkness. Ignore them, be proud of what you did get done. Ignore the gloaters who are trying to rub it in your face they kicked your arse at NaNoWriMo… they obviously didn’t have as much going on in their life as you did so let them have their little victory…. And then unfollow them if they get too annoying. 😉

So, we’ve made it through another year of NaNoWriMo… very few of us have come through as an amazing new “someone to watch” Author who is going places, making money and getting famous. But well done to those who have – you’re awesome. 🙂

For the rest of us – you’re awesome too, we all are! We took part in NaNoWriMo, we made it through the entire month and we came out the other side still with a desire to write, a love of reading and that deep down constant hunger to do more and more of both. Good job!

And as the calendar year draws to a close (my year ends and begins with the winter Solstice in June – just saying), life is going to get busier for me and I might not get a chance to write, let alone blog. So I will be rehashing guest blog posts from earlier in the year done on other’s sites. I will give them full credit and a gorgeous write up… and then use the blog post I gave them. It means I can appear to be blogging while not having a lot of time to actually do it. A cunning plan, I know.

What will the next calendar year bring writing wise? Well, I hope to get my new website up, so that my blogs will move to there. I hope to get more work done on all my blogs. I plan on entering more writing competitions and submitting my work to more publishing houses – all they can do is ignore me and that only hurts if you let it. I also hope to see There’s no place like Hell finished, accepted and published…

But for now, I just need to get over this sinus infection, get through the end of my Hordes school year, all that festive stuff, the summer and the fire dangers.

And I hope you do too. Pep talk time – you’re awesome. So what if other people are too caught up in their own lives to see it. That doesn’t make it any less true.

Be safe, be happy, be proud of your NaNoWriMo achievements – no matter how big or small they were.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2014 in Writing

 

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How NaNoWriMo has helped me get to hell with my hand basket.

Hi everyone, so that was week 3 of NaNoWriMo, everything running along smoothly for you? Still enjoying it or over it by now and waiting for December first to crack open the advent calendar door and eat the crappy choc inside?

I actually had a good week at NaNoWriMo this week, despite not making it to 5,000 words on any of the days. I managed around 3,600 words last Sunday, and 2,000 words on Thursday… but that’s it. The rest of the week was just bits and pieces, some blogging and a lot more research for There’s no place like Hell. All the same I’m proud of what I achieved as it got me to a point in the story I’ve had stuck in my head for a long time, and it was such a fantastic feeling to finally get it down on paper. Those who follow me on social media may have heard me go on about ‘meeting a headless man, driving a white van, named Karen’. Well, it finally happened! And we’re now on our way to hell! We’ve even made it onto Charon’s (not Karen’s) ferry to pass through the veil to the other side. Yes, penguin high fives all round as that seriously is awesome news. 🙂

The thing I like the most about this week’s writing is how enjoyable it has been. It’s taken me into areas I knew I was going to touch on, but I never realised how in depth I was going to go into the Other World afterlife. There’s no place like Hell had always been about my protagonist Stephanie going to hell to save the soul of someone she didn’t particularly like, but had to help as part of her new role as ‘Protector of souls’. The basic premise was she felt the deal he’d made with a soul collector, Wroth, was null and void as he’d done it when drunk. That took me into an interesting part of research into contract law and exactly where you stand if signing contracts or making deals while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Yeah, don’t do it, in most cases you’re still legally obliged to stay committed to that deal.

I also had fun looking into the different portals or gateways to hell that are reported to being around the world. My favourite one being a giant sinkhole in Japan filled with boiling hot, red mud. What tickles me so much about it is the newly created visitor centre, heath spa and gift shop. What every gateway to hell needs… don’t you think?

When I then started doing more of the actual writing of the story, I loved how it took me off on a tangent I’d not even considered. The whole mix of faiths, beliefs and interpretations of what happens after death intermingling together, wow! The dullahan and Ankou reapers and soul collectors going about their tasks, the journey through the veil in the white van that has seen better days and onto a huge passenger ferry big enough to take vehicles. The interactions with the deities of the dead, how they’ve moved with the times, the population and the global spread. Originally the whole travelling through the afterlife, and the afterlife part of it itself was just this small thing in my mind. I was so focussed on getting to hell and the whole demon interaction I have planned there I’d not even realised this was going to take place. And I love it. I just hope my readers do too.

So this week has been a good NaNoWriMo week for me. I’ve not just enjoyed the discovery through research; I’ve also enjoyed the discovery through my own writing. I know that sounds lame, but I quite honestly don’t often know what is going on in my own stories until it happens… until I’ve written it down. Mr Vontant is a classic example of this. I never planned on him, never expected him to turn into one of my favourites, never thought of having him be what he is… which would be a spoiler so I’m not about to give that away. I’m pretty sure it isn’t explained until at least book four or five. But, see, if it wasn’t for him now there wouldn’t be a book four or five. He is part of my Other World weaving. I knew hell was going to influence my protagonist quite a bit (more spoilers if I mention what I mean) but I’m amazed and simply love how much the Other World’s afterlife has influenced me. I’m very much pro belief. It doesn’t matter what your belief is as it’s personal and should only mean what it does to you. Heck, as long as you intentionally harm none with your beliefs and don’t go around cramming them down other people’s throats, you’re fabulous. Even if that belief is to not believe. Yes, there are no atheists in my afterlife. As my afterlife is very strongly belief driven and if your belief is there is nothing… you won’t be part of it. I think I’ve got a good support system set up for the agnostics too, pamphlets and interviews with the different deities and all. 😉

I hope your NaNoWriMo has been as fruitful and fun. One more week to go before we can all start patting each other on the back for a job well done. Even if you don’t make that glorious 50,000 words the original NaNoWriMo was created for, even if you don’t make your own personal goals… as long as you’ve done some writing, loved and enjoyed that writing – and any interaction with other writers as you do it – then you’ve done well and had a successful time. Being a Writer is awesome, but like anything in this world – don’t compare yourself and your skill to others. You’re you, so just be you. Yes I say my writing is in a similar style as… insert names here. But my writing is still my writing and it’s all me.

To those publishers who don’t want a distinctly Australian voice as it doesn’t sell – I don’t care, don’t sell my work.

To those people who look at commercial fiction and urban fantasy in distain as around here we only accept you into our social circles if you write poetry, literary fiction or historical romance – I don’t care, your loss not mine. I’m an anti-social cow as it is and wouldn’t turn up even if you did invite me. 😉

To those who look down their nose at me as I am ‘merely’ an eBook author while their books are on paper in print – take a look at your royalties. If you’re happy with your 5% of royalties for a paper book compared to my 45%, good on you. Well done.

To those of you who just write for yourselves and for your friends to read. Who only publish on blogs and fanfic sites and the like – bravo! You are Writers with the capital letter and be proud of your work too as you’re writing is just as important.

Not meaning to sound too Yoda like, but write or don’t write. But when you do write, be yourself, write the way you want to, not the way you think you need to to make money, be famous or get published. If you take nothing else away from NaNoWriMo, take this: As in everything we do in life, be yourself. It makes the job a lot more fun and show people just how amazing you are. If they can’t see it their loss, not yours.

Wow! I hadn’t meant to end with a bit of a bitch and then a pep rally, but there you go. I’ve had a stressful few weeks out in reality and so writing has really helped me relax and find myself again. That and the nut milk cacao lattes I’ve been making. 😉 And did you see the chocolate biscuit recipe I created on my Foodie blog? Oops, shameless plug.

Summing it up – write for yourself, enjoy what you write. If you’re lucky enough to find others who like reading it as much as you do, that’s a bonus. But the fact you’ve written it and enjoyed the journey, then you’ve already ‘made it’.

After recent feedback on Bonnie’s Story: A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematic asking if there will be a sequel… I suddenly had a desire to read it again. And despite spotting areas I felt could do with an edit, I really enjoyed reading it as a book. The fact I’d written it meant nothing. I fell in love with Rogan and Bonnie all over again and can’t wait to learn what else they get up to… Once I finish with Stephanie in another four books time. Yes, I may have written about them all, but that honestly doesn’t mean I know what they will do. I love that about writing… I’m merely the tool these people use to appear on paper. 😉

So NaNoWriMo companions – keep writing when December hits, keep enjoying the journey and keep being yourself as you do it. It’s the best person you can be and you’re awesome at it!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2014 in Writing

 

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I’m on tour with Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My!

So it’s been a week since Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! was let loose into the world and so far so good. In the mean time I’ve not been sitting there waiting for the money to roll in as, well, that’s not how it works for an emerging Author and not what I set out to achieve. I write as I enjoy it and I share my stories in the hopes others will enjoy it too. And, so far so good! 🙂

What I have been doing this week is a virtual book tour with Bewitching Book Tours, and I’m loving it! I highly recommend any emerging Author wanting to get their books noticed (whether paper or an eBook) to invest in a virtual book tour. And I highly recommend Roxanne at Bewitching Book Tours if you’re writing in the paranormal or urban fantasy genre.

Yes I know a virtual book tour doesn’t physically take you anywhere and it’s not as glamorous as being able to swan in and out of a book store smiling for pics and signing autographs… but let’s face it fellow emerging Authors – that isn’t going to happen for the majority of us, no matter how good our books are.

Don’t poo poo the virtual book tour as it is a fantastic way to get exposure to your work. Throw in a give-away to entice the readers and you can double your following of fans on social media. Now you have their attention though, it is up to you to keep it. The tour has done its magic and it’s now time to do your own.

A virtual book tour is definitely a worthy investment – if you find the right one that best matches your work – and shows your book off to far more people interested in that genre than an ad on say Facebook ever could. Go the virtual book tour! 🙂

As for me, what am I doing on my tour? Well, below you will find my schedule. I technically should have blogged about this last Monday when it started but my sharing and caring hordes have passed on a couple of different winter bugs to me and so I’m a little behind in my asset shaking. Still, the links to where I’ve already been are still valid so please feel free to go check them out. Not just for my work but for the other awesome Authors out there shaking their assets just as hard.

My tour schedule:

September 1 Guest blog
Mythical Books
http://www.mythicalbooks.blogspot.ro/

September 2 Spotlight
Cassandra M’s Place
http://www.cassandramsplace.com/

September 3 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair.  
http://www.pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/isis-vampires-and-ghosts-oh-my-by-janis.html

September 4 Spotlight
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy,Sissy. Too!  
http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com/

September 5 Spotlight
Deal Sharing Aunt
www.dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com

September 8 Spotlight
Lisa’s World of Books
http://www.lisasworldofbooks.net/

September 9 Spotlight
Jodie Pierce’s Ink Slinger’s Blog
http://www.jodiepierceauthor.blogspot.com/

September 10 Interview
Roxanne’s Realm 
http://www.roxannerhoads.com/

September 11 Guest blog
Fang-tastic Books
http://www.fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com/

September 12 Guest blog
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
http://www.creativelygreen.blogspot.com/

September 15 Interview 
Bewitching Book Tours Magazine
www.issuu.com/bewitchingbooktours

September 16 Top Ten List
Darkest Cravings
www.darkestcravings.blogspot.com

September 17 Spotlight
Deal Sharing Aunt
http://www.dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/

September 18 Spotlight
Soaring Eagle Publicity 
http://www.soaringeaglepublicity.com/

September 19 Interview
Eclipse Reviews
http://www.totaleclipsereviews.blogspot.com/

September 20 Spotlight
Cover Reveals 
http://coverreveals.blogspot.com/

September 22 Character Interview
Author Karen Swart
http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/

September 23 Spotlight
Sapphyria’s Book Reviews 
http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/

September 24 Top Ten Comfort Foods
Review
Cabin Goddess
http://www.cabingoddess.com/

September 25 Spotlight
Share My Destiny
http://sharemydestiny.blogspot.com/

September 25 Review
Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
http://www.pratr.wordpress.com/

September 26 Spotlight
CBY Book Club
http://cbybookclub.blogspot.co.uk/

September 29 Guest blog
VampChix
http://www.vampchix.blogspot.com/

September 30 Interview and review
happy tails and tales 
http://magluvsya03.wordpress.com/

**Please note: I have been having difficulties with WordPress actually REMEMBERING the links in the list. I have added them repeatedly and they work… and then they stop working. It is a WordPress fault. So if a link is not working, please just copy it and paste it into a new browsing window. Sorry about this, but as said – this is a WordPress fault.

There you have it, my virtual book tour. I hope to see you around the sites and there is always the option for you to come and say hi to me on my Author page on Facebook or to tweet me on Twitter.

I’ve really enjoyed the interviews and blog posts I’ve done so far and I send out a big thanks to Roxanne and all the people who opted in to host me on this tour. You are all awesome and emerging Authors appreciate your help… well, this one does anyway. Thank You!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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One month to go – Eeep!

Yes, I’m still alive. I was just following the principle of it being better to remain silent and thought a fool than open my mouth (or write a new post on nothing) and remove all doubt. 😉

So, it’s ONE MONTH until Bonnie’s Story: A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics is released! Yes, I am excited… and hopefully not the only one who is.

To celebrate the release I am having another book launch. This time in my lovely local Adelaide Hills at the Mount Barker Community Library. The event is free to attend, but as they’re putting on refreshments they’d like a rough idea of numbers, so if you can make it please book here.

I hope to see you there. As it’s an eBook I can’t exactly sign it for you, but can sign one of my cards. Plus, once Bonnie’s Story is up on Amazon, I plan on signing up with Authorgraph and so hope to be able to provide a cute little e-signature that way. Watch this space, erm blog, to find out more.

It’s also lovely to see some action with Bonnie’s Story at Goodreads. So far the reviews have been fantastic, keep them coming! Remember, I’m always open to constructive criticism. So if you felt it sucked, explain yourself or be seen as a sour puss sock puppet.

I’ve also made some pre-sales on Bonnie’s Story and yes, you only have one month left to get it at the discounted pre-sale price of $4 AU. So head over to Hague Publishing and buy one now! I am really touched by the pre-sales… even if I feel they came from me asking people to buy a copy on my birthday – and they did! 🙂

What else can I share right now? Well, my latest manuscript Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! has already gathered some interest by two small indie publishers I’ve shown it to (yes, talks of contracts already!) And so, on some sage advice, I am now doing the Literary Agent door knock again. This is going to be a slow process as they get a lot of enquiries and I now must show some patience and wait for their response. In my usual super stellar positive attitude, I am indeed expecting more rejections. Hey, I’m called an emerging author for a reason – I need to push my way through all the rest and emerge at the top waving the hardest and yelling the loudest to be seen. Simple.

But if there is a Literary Agent who accidentally stumbled onto this post and is reading it… send me a note. I really am a published author now and really do have publishers already offering me contracts on my latest work.

Okay, that’s it for now. Really excited about the month to come as I don’t know what’s going to happen. I really don’t expect much, but am still looking forward to see if I flop or fly!

Until next time,

Janis.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Writing

 

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