Who would you cast?

Hi folks! I’m still around, and working hard on the fourth Inside Evil book which has yet to be titled. Like The Tower of Souls, this fourth instalment is split between Ridgewood and Gathin so I’m having a blast getting back into all these doppelganger minds.

I’ve been having a few conversations on Twitter of late about casting. It seems that all the best books or best-selling series are getting spun into movies or television series, whether to make a quick buck or actually provide us with some real entertainment. Sometimes the casting is spot on, and you watch a show and are enthralled at how close to a character an actor is. At other times it’s way off and you’re left feeling a little disappointed. The most obvious bad casting for me was Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter. I love Imelda and think she’s a fine actress, but she was just too sweet for me. I’d always imagined Dolores as uglier, rotund and altogether unpleasant in looks and manner.

ruth fisherWhen asked about my own casting for novels, I’ve had a hard time. My characters tend to create themselves out of my mind and, as such, are not usually inspired by actors. The only contradiction to this is Valaria Carlody in CRYO: Rise of the Immortals who I always believed would be ideally played by Francis Conroy. Meanwhile, it has crossed my mind that Rebecca Mader, of Lost fame, could be a good possibility for the styled, intellectual and sometimes drug stimulated Evie Zianter.

In regards to Inside Evil, I often find it hard to cast Martha, Roberta, Sam etc because they’re visions in my head who don’t look like anyone else. I’ve had Felicity Montagu mentioned as a possible Martha, and today, another lovely fan said she’d always thought of Susan as Helena Bonham Carter. I know, odd right? But then I looked up a blonde HBC (see below) and guess what? She could easily play Susan Lingly and could create a very interesting take on this lady! This had never crossed my mind before but now I feel enlightened as a result!

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It got me thinking; everyone who reads a book has an interesting take on both the story and characters. I avoid putting obvious characters on my book covers for this exact reason.

So, if you were casting Inside Evil, CRYO or Pacifier Six, which actresses and actors would make your lineup? Which books to movies have you seen where the characters were perfect or far from who you’d imagined?

Inside Evil, Spirits of the Middlelands, is completed

Spirits of the Middlelands 270pxI’m so happy! Yesterday, I wrote the epilogue for Spirits of the Middlelands and finally got that all important final sentence for this third book in the Inside Evil series onto paper – aka – word. I have to admit, it didn’t start off so well. Having taken several months out to complete CRYO and Pacifier 6, getting back to Ridgewood and rediscovering Roberta, Susan and Karl took a while. I had writer’s block, I tried to force the story, and I got absolutely nowhere. But, then things started kicking into place, twists that even I hadn’t foreseen began to occur and my nimble fingers were back on track. I got the great cover art done and released a few teasers and everything started to snowball in the right direction.

Having now finished Spirits of the Middlelands, I’ll need a week or so to re-read the first draft, make improvements, fix some continuity issues and take out a couple of paragraphs that began story threads which didn’t actually transpire into anything. Then, it’s off to my editor. So, with us already heading towards mid-March, I would think this release will due at the end of the month at best, but more likely early April. If you don’t want to miss it, then make sure to sign up to the newsletter.

WHAT’S NEXT?

As much as I want to write the next CRYO book and have ideas formulating for another Pacifier 6 novella, Inside Evil fans will be pleased to know that I’m going to crack straight on with book number four. My mind is filled with Ridgewood right now, with each character’s fate, and I’m keen to capitalise on this. With the middle book now complete, there’s just two more to write – I can’t believe it! If you haven’t had a chance to read Inside Evil yet, grab it – it’s FREE ;P

Now, I must be off to correct typo’s and ensure continuity!

Spirits of the Middlelands (Inside Evil 3) Cover, News and Teasers

Spirits of the Middlelands (1)As many of you know I’m extremely busy getting involved with the Ridgewood gang again. I seem to have left this bunch behind for far too long, and I’ve loved getting back into the thick of it with Roberta, Susan and the other cast members. Today I hit 40,000 words for Book 3 of this five book saga, so I’m just over halfway through and there’s some interesting developments occurring. You may all be wondering about the child at the end of The Tower of Souls….well, she’s a very important piece of the puzzle! There’s also some old faces appearing (Galdur and Vronny), as well as the story of the Ammokra and Gathin progressing nicely.

I’m aiming at an end of March launch for this Spirits of the Middlelands, so if you want to be the first to know when it’s released, then feel free to sign up to the newsletter.

Here’s a couple of dialogue teasers:

“Don’t bring them through here, Barry! Down the hall!”

“Like I would,” Barry replied with a grin, though he cast his hand towards the pristine carpet and watched as Martha’s eyes bulged when the wet trout tails dripped perilously close to her furnishings. 

“I need to know about the Middlelands.”

“It’s 4.30 in the morning,” Galdur groaned, his face still scrunched up, his hands tiredly wiping his eyes.

“I know, I’m sorry, I couldn’t sleep and I just thought you might be up,” Susan apologised as realistically as possible. She’d known quite well that she could be waking him, but Susan was becoming tired of waiting for answers to magically appear out of the air.

“I’m up now,” Galdur groaned again, reaching out of view and pulling a vest over his head. “Are you still guarding the portal?”

“I was a lot of fun in college, I’ll have you know,” Roberta replied as she allowed her guard to slide slightly and enjoyed a sip of wine. “It wasn’t until my little sister ran off with a sailor that I found responsibility.”

“He was incredibly handsome. I just couldn’t say no.”

“Not saying no is the story of your life,” Roberta smiled as she rolled her eyes in Sam’s direction.

I think those few quotes have a few interesting titbits to mull over for you! In more book news, I’m also in the process of making Inside Evil FREE in the lead up to the launch. It’s already listed for FREE on Kobo and I’m waiting for the price match to trickle across to Amazon.

Now, I better go and continue writing!

Pacifier 6 is released!

Pacifier final art 600 pixelsIt’s February 1st, and I met my goal; Pacifier 6 has been published! There was a slight glitch on Amazon, so I spent the night worrying, but when I awoke, there it was, shining out at my from the browser!

If you’d like to pick up a copy of Pacifier 6, it’s just $2.99 and available at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Smashwords (soon to come to iBooks, B&N and Kobo). I had a blast writing the story, so I hope you enjoy it!

If you’d like to read the first chapter to get a taster, then pop over to my website page which has the cover, blurb and entire first chapter excerpt – Sheila’s Escape – to enjoy.

Now it’s back to work for me, I have Inside Evil book three to write! :)

How to create promotional postcards for books

Christmas is coming up and I’m, well, rather under-prepared. It seems like an age ago since I read that interview with Amanda Hocking about self publishing books on Amazon, even though it was only back in February. Since then, life has changed considerably. But this is my first Christmas, and I’ve no idea what sort of promotion I should be doing.

Other than writing the article about creating Christmas book hampers, the only other idea I had was to create some actual physical promotional tools. I went to a family christening back in July, and lots of people asked about the books. I told them, chatted about Inside Evil, said ‘oh, you can find them on Amazon,’ but I had nothing to give. This Christmas I decided to go one step further and create some postcards that I could hand out.

photo (17)If you haven’t got much time for promotion, or have little money for buying adverts, then these postcards are perfect. I’ve created them with a view to giving them to friends, family and acquaintances rather than leaving them in stacks at book fairs, but they could be used in that circumstance too. I created and ordered them from Vista Print very easily and, more importantly, they were very affordable – just £30 for 50 postcards. That price also included an online proof that I won’t have to pay next time I order. Plus, I went for two weeks shipping to get them in time for Christmas, and hey presto, they were here within 10 days.

Why did I go for postcards?

There are a vast variety of options to choose from in customisable merchandise, and I nearly got sucked into creating mouse-mats, pens and even keyrings with the Inside Evil cover on. BEWARE, they do try and lure you into spending – you can’t really blame them.

My main reasoning behind postcards rather than bookmarks is that the Inside Evil is largely in an ebook form. Yes, you can buy paperbacks, but I’m promoting the ebooks more than anything. Someone who uses a bookmark on a regular occurrence may well be more likely to read traditional books than fire up their kindle. And, if they do fire up their Kindle, my bookmark isn’t going to be anywhere in sight to remind them to buy.

Secondly, I like that you can fit more onto a postcard. Rather than reaching out to strangers, I’m reaching out to people I already know are interested in my books. Therefore, I want to provide them with a few more details and incentives to buy.

I’m very happy with the overall look of the cards, and the price. I’ll be giving them out this Christmas, so I’ll let you know whether they help remind people of my work and bump up sales as a result.

Promoting your book on Goodreads with listopia

I’ve not had a huge amount of success on Goodreads. I don’t like the interface, I find the forums troublesome and I really don’t read enough to be actively participating in book discussions. Mostly, I find that you have to use passive promotion on Goodreads; that is, instead of going around saying ‘Here’s my book‘, ‘Read my book‘, ‘Look at my book‘, you have to participate in forums about other subjects and let users find your work by themselves. Of course, a few plugs here and there in the appropriate forum threads never hurt, but overall, Goodreads is a place for readers to discover books, not have them thrust upon them.

A new area of passive promotion which I hadn’t even realised was available until last week is the listopia option. This Goodreads area is a place where people can add their favourite books to current lists, or start their own lists to organise great reads into easily found categories. It also offers an ideal place for you to add your book, utilising lists that you book falls into to spread your novel across as many pages as possible and, therefore, in front of as many eyes as possible.

Listopia is easy to find, and easy to add your book to. One word of warning, it’s probably best not to start adding your books to the ‘Best books Ever written‘ or ‘Best Indie Books‘ categories. In fact, it’s probably best to stay clear of any ‘BEST’ lists because this is for the readers to decide upon, not you. However, you can add your book to any other list that is appropriate. For example, I’ve put Inside Evil into ‘British Fantasy Authors‘, ‘Fantasy Books Set in Two Worlds‘, and ‘Science Fiction & Fantasy Titles for 2012!’ I’m not making assumptions by adding my book to these categories, I’m just telling readers what they can expect to find.

Whether or not this process will help Inside Evil get added to many more shelves I have to find out. But, placing it in as many places as possible surely can’t help gain more exposure.

Get to know the author – Ken Magee

Thanks to the lovely Kate Aaron, we got to find out all about the Lost Realm series last week. Now we turn our attention to Ken Magee, a Northern Ireland resident and software developer who loves nothing more than to indulge in time travelling with his humorous hero!

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Tell us about yourself? Do you write for a living? If not, what’s your day job?

My name is Ken Magee and I’m an… author. I live in Bangor, Co Down. I worked for many years in the computer industry in a wide variety of roles including programming and sales. In the middle of it all, I served in the Navy Reserve for five years… which was hard work, but fun. In 2010, I decided it was time to finish the book I had started many years ago (writing not reading). I would have finished it sooner, but life got in the way. It’s finished now, but I don’t think any of the original book survived the process!

I’d love to make a living out of writing, but it’s so hard to get noticed. I will keep plugging away at it until I crack it. Software development actually pays the bills at the moment.

Favourite food, place, colour and writing zone, please.

Food – Seafood – particularly crabs claws, scallops and mussels.

Place - New Orleans

Colour(s) – Black and white… howay the lads!

Writing zone – A little room at home, surrounded by the knickknacks that I love.

You write in the fantasy genre….who’s been your inspiration? Favourite books? Movies? TV Shows?

I write humorous fantasy and Terry Pratchett has been my main inspiration. I’ve had a lot of reviews which have compared me with him… it doesn’t get better than that as far as I’m concerned.

Favourite books – Mort By Terry Pratchett, Better Than Life by Grant Naylor

Favourite movies – Pulp Fiction, Terminator, Memento.

Favourite TV Shows – Dexter, True Blood (season 1), The Good Wife, Battlestar Gallactica.

Who’s your favourite all time fictional character?

The Stainless Steel Rat – Harry Harrison’s creation is such a wonderful villain/hero. I was going to say Death in the Pratchett novels, but some might argue he’s not fictional!

Who’s your favourite character in your own work?

Tung. He’s the inept thief who time travelled to the 21st century and he’s struggling every day to come to terms with it. He’s a hoot.

Let’s talk superpowers….there’s no denying we’d all love one. What would be your choice, and why?

Invisibility, so I could find out what some people really think about me.

Inspiration’s a funny thing. Where do you find yours?

I find inspiration from conversations, observations of life, the TV… just about everywhere.

Writers have very different approaches to completing our works. Are you a heavy plotter? Jump back and forth between scenes? Sit down, start at the beginning and just write?

I like to have the skeleton mapped out and I always write the last chapter very early on. It helps keep the story on track. After that it’s just write, write, write.

What’s fresh about your books? Quirky and different? Likely to entice readers and keep them coming back for more?

My first two books Dark Tidings and The Black Conspiracy live under the tagline ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’ and that’s a bit different. There’s also an underlying conspiracy which explains why the rich are getting richer while the ordinary man suffers. If readers want a laugh while the world comes to an end… then they should be back for more (I hope).

What are you working on now?

I’m writing the last book in the ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’ trilogy. It’s called A Darker Shade of Black.

How can readers connect with you?

I have a Facebook page and I’m @KenMageeAuthor on Twitter. I’m also happy to answer questions at ken.magee@gametheworld.com. Finally, my author page on Amazon is a good place to find out more about me and it links to the two books and some of their reviews as well.

Get to know the author – Kate Aaron

The race really is on to Christmas now, and if you’re looking for some great fantasy books, then you’re in the right place. Last week I interview Patty Jansen, an Aussie author with a huge back catalogue of gripping fantasy and science fiction novels to devour. This week we’re bringing back to Britain and meeting Kate Aaron - Liverpudlian, parrot owner and fantasy author.

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Tell us about yourself? Do you write for a living? If not, what’s your day job?

It’s about 50-50 at the minute, although I do have a day job: believe it or not, in construction project management. I’m the only woman working at my company, which is great when I write predominantly about men – I’ve got an insider insight into how they interact!

Favourite food, place, colour and writing zone, please.

Oooh, I’m a bit of a foodie, so that’s difficult. I’m horribly addicted to Man vs Food at the minute, which I know is trash TV but I just can’t stop myself. I’m a big fan of sushi, but I’m also pretty awesome at baking (if I say so myself). My pear and almond cake has to be eaten to be believed (slight aside – please can I have some?! Sounds delicious – Geoff). My favourite place is probably a little croft my family owns in the Scottish highlands, it’s the ultimate writer’s retreat and I keep threatening to move up there and become a hermit. My favourite colour is purple and I’ll write anywhere as long as it’s quiet. I’m not one of those pretentious types who takes their laptop to Starbucks!

You write in the fantasy/supernatural genre….who’s been your inspiration? Favourite books? Movies? TV Shows?

I’ve always liked fantasy, from Bram Stoker to Charlaine Harris. Give me vampires and I’m happy! (Just as long as they’re not the glittery kind…).

Who’s your favourite all time fictional character?

Has to be Heathcliff, I just love, love, love him. So dark and brooding and tortured.

Who’s your favourite character in your own work?

That’s a difficult one. I’ve got a soft spot for all of them, but probably in my fantasy my favourite character is Fenton, my tortured asexual vampire who’s desperate to find love on his own terms. He’s such a divisive character, but I adore him. Writing his story breaks my heart.

Let’s talk superpowers….there’s no denying we’d all love one. What would be your choice, and why?

Teleporting would be awesome – no more time wasted travelling! But I think everyone wants the gift of invisibility, it’s the ultimate superpower.

Inspiration’s a funny thing. Where do you find yours? Is there one particular moment that stands out?

Not particularly. I don’t plot or anything, I just sit down and write. It’s like an itch that needs to be scratched, but I’m never sure quite what I’ll produce in advance. I’ve written my whole life, but the first book I published - Blood & Ash - I wrote as a sort of reaction to the books I’d been reading. I love fantasy, and I generally prefer to read books with queer MCs, being gay myself, but I didn’t buy the way m/m romance writers combined the genre with fantasy: the worldbuilding in the books I’d read just fell flat. (I’d like to add that I’ve read some really, really superb m/m fantasy books since then!). Because I couldn’t find the book that I really wanted to read, I wrote it.

Writers have very different approaches to completing our works. Are you a heavy plotter? Jump back and forth between scenes? Sit down, start at the beginning and just write?

I’m definitely a ‘sit down and write’ gal. When I’m on a roll I can barely keep up with myself, but when I’m stuck there’s no getting around it. The entire plot resolves itself somewhere in my subconscious. It’s an interesting process from my perspective; when I wrote Blood & Ash, for instance, I knew it would be the first of a trilogy but I didn’t have a clue how the story arc was going to pan out. I included certain things in that book that I knew were foreshadowing something to come later – but I didn’t know what! When I came to write the second book, Fire & Ice, a lot of things suddenly came together in a way I’d never consciously envisioned, but clearly somewhere deep down I’d already got it all worked out.

What’s fresh about your books? Quirky and different? Likely to entice readers and keep them coming back for more?

I like to think that I write something a bit different to the usual m/m style – in fact, I don’t consider my Lost Realm series to really be m/m anymore, it’s definitely more high fantasy with a strong gay side-story. In my world homosex is punishable by death, which makes a change from the usual m/m trope where it sometimes seems that everyone is gay. I’ve also got a bit of a succession crisis in the fae royal family, and an asexual vampire. So I’d say that my series is pretty unique!

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a number of projects – first the third novel in the Lost Realm series, which is almost finished (eek!); a spin-off to my contemporary romance The Rest of Forever called When Forever Ends, (bit of a weepie, that one); and I’m also working on sweet little tale of forbidden love in Victorian England.

How can readers connect with you? (Facebook/Twitter etc).

I’m usually found haunting facebooktwittergoodreads or my blog. My books are available from AmazonAReB&NiTunesSmashwordsSonyKobo and Diesel.

Get to know the author – Patty Jansen

Can you believe we’re in November already? The race is onto Christmas, and if you’re a writer, then you might even be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Last week I brought you the insights of Drako, an author who fills his world with beautiful dragons. This week we turn to Patty Jansen, a science fiction and fantasy author who has a back-catalogue to keep you going for months!

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Tell us about yourself? Do you write for a living? If not, what’s your day job?

When I’m not writing,  I sell non-fiction books online.

Favourite food, place, colour and writing zone, please.

Coffee & chips in my office and my own chair. If not, out on the back veranda where I can sit in the nuddy (not that I ever do) and no one would see. From up there, the only thing I can see is trees!

You write in the fantasy/supernatural genre….who’s been your inspiration? Favourite books? Movies? TV Shows?

Actually, my inspiration has been my job. I worked as a research scientist and often wondered about taking the science (nonsensical or real) into the realm of the impossible. My favourite writer is C.J. Cherryh, my favourite movie is Independence Day and I don’t watch TV. I’m baaaaad at pop culture.

Who’s your favourite all time fictional character?

I absolutely adore C.J. Cherryh, and my all-time favourite character is Banichi from the Foreigner series. Yes, he’s an alien, but he’s awesome.

Who’s your favourite character in your own work?

I have a favourite character in every book. In my current WIP (Shifting Reality, currently serialised on my blog by way of ARC), my favourite character is Ari Suleiman Rudiyanto. Yes, he’s Indonesian (the name kinda gives it away), and he’s gay, and does dubious things in a space station. He’s also very smart, and because he’s bored, he does the most stupid things, like tinkering with important technology and smuggling stuff.

Let’s talk superpowers….there’s no denying we’d all love one. What would be your choice, and why?

I’d love to be able to live a very long time, like some of my characters.

Inspiration’s a funny thing. Where do you find yours? Is there one particular moment that stands out?

Oh yes. I sold a novel to a small press (Ambassador, coming out in 2013), and this book started in a very strange way. Usually, inspiration for a novel will come as a scene where two characters are talking to each other. I’d always wanted to do something thriller-y and political, and I had this idea of a character going on a major mission (the character is Cory Wilson, who as kid is the main character of my kids novel The Far Horizon). Cory was talking to this important person about a job he was about to do. I made a note of this scene, intending to file it for later. The scene was really boring, full of backstory and setting. These scenes never survive in the final product.

Anyway, the scene was so boring that my brain subconsciously decided to make it more interesting: it threw a bomb into the window of the office where the meeting was taking place. I spent the next four drafts finding out who did it.

Writers have very different approaches to completing our works. Are you a heavy plotter? Jump back and forth between scenes? Sit down, start at the beginning and just write?

Oh no, I am a pantser extra-ordinaire. In fact, I’m a pantser to my own detriment. Plotting bores me to death, although I’ll probably have to do a lot more of it if I want to be more efficient.

What’s fresh about your books? Quirky and different? Likely to entice readers and keep them coming back for more?

I write three distinct genres:

My space-based SF is hard SF. Lookie, see! I’m a woman writing hard SF. I’m trying to prove that science geekery and character development are not mutually exclusive.

My space opera is unique in that it contains aliens, and it contains Earth in a way we can recognise it, in other words, not that far into the future. In my space opera world, alienoid humans came to Earth in 1968, and lived as humans amongst us. They came, not to the US, not the UK, or not South Africa, but to Athens, Greece. It’s kinda funny how I wrote all of my novel Ambassador before the current crisis, and it’s almost as if that book was prophetic. It’s scary.

My fantasy is weird. It’s not medieval, it’s not urban fantasy, there are some science elements. My trilogy is set in a post-apocalyptic world where something that sounds suspiciously like radio-activity doubles as magic. Some people can use it, many die from exposure. I did a fair bit of reading on radiation poisoning for this one. One of the countries has steam power and uses telegraphs and balloons. Not the standard fantasy fair.

What are you working on now?

My hard SF novel Shifting Reality is almost finished.

Tentative blurb:

A few years ago, a military doctor walking the corridors of New Jakarta Station saved Melati’s life. She signed up for the International Space Force to pay back her moral debt to him. But her family thinks she has betrayed her people. It was ISF who forcefully removed their grandmothers and grandfathers from the crowded slums of Jakarta to work in interstellar space stations.

It is Melati’s job to teach six-year old construct soldiers, artificial humans grown in labs and activated with programmed minds. Her latest cohort has one student who claims that he is not a little boy, but a mindbase traveller whose swap partner took off with his body. It soon becomes clear that a lot of people are scouring the station for this man, a scientist with dangerous knowledge.

What would be a better place to hide a fugitive than in the seething mass of traditional and modern cultures and subcultures in New Jakarta’s B-sector? Problem is, Melati’s family, and especially her cousins Rina and Ari, are involved in a scheme to sell the scientist in return for greater political power for the workers so that those who wish can return to Indonesia. Never mind that if the scientist’s knowledge falls into the wrong hands, none of them will live to exercise that right.

After this, I will be writing the sequel to Watcher’s Web, after which I may write a quasi-historical fantasy based on the Dutch VOC, in which the Chinese come to a city that sounds suspiciously like 17th century Amsterdam in steam ships. Watch 17th century Europe & their squabbling royalty fight over steam power and cosying up to the Chinese! Yeah, I love torturing history. MWAHAHAHAHA!

 How can readers connect with you?

I’d love everyone to follow my blog Must Use Bigger Elephants. I also have a website: http://pattyjansen.com, and am on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’d like to find out more about Patty’s extensive range of books, please see her Amazon author page. Enjoy!