Anatomy of A World of Gothic: Ghost in the Rain (Scotland) by Marie Treanor

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Introduction

My participation in the A World of Gothic series was my proudest moment as an author last year. Talented, award-wining authors penning suspenseful stories with a definite Gothic vibe, each set in a different location around the world, all taking place in a remote, awe-inspiring mansion. As a number of amazing titles have been available since the series launched last April, I felt I should bring them to your attention again, from a different angle this time. So, each week, I’ll invite one of the series’ authors here, spotlight her book and focus on the heroine, the hero, and the backbone of any good Gothic story, the house/castle/mansion that tends to hold the key to solving the mysteries piling up.

This week, I’m pleased to present Marie Treanor and the first book in the series, which takes us right to the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Read on for an inspiring anatomy of the Ghost in the Rain by the author herself.

Ghost in the Rain

by Marie Treanor
Genres: Gothic, paranormal, romantic suspense
Publication date: April 24, 2016
Purchase links:

Amazon US – Amazon UK – B&N – Kobo – iBooks

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Description

A haunted Highland house, battered by storms and murder…

Notorious rocker Dan Stewart isn’t anything like Dr. Kate Yorke imagined. Arriving at his remote home in the Scottish Highlands to research some valuable letters – only to discover he’s forgotten their appointment – Kate soaks up the Gothic atmosphere of Invershiel House. But it’s the owner who truly fascinates her.

Reclusive and abrupt, Dan is haunted by the deaths of his fellow band members, especially his one time lover Islay Lamont, whose shade seems to flit around the grounds in the rain. But the ghost is not the only mystery Kate encounters. Light bulbs disappear around her – and only Dan knows she’s scared of the dark. Then she trips over a dead body which inexplicably vanishes.

It becomes a race against time to find the identity of the body and the killer. And to discover if she and Danny have any kind of future together. Or even at all…

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Q & A with Marie Treanor

Hello, Marie, and welcome back to my blog!

Thanks, Maria! Lovely to be back.

What does writing a Gothic story mean to you? What are the core elements such a story should incorporate?

I’ve always loved Gothic tales, from atmospheric romances to downright scary stories, so I suppose it was inevitable I would come to write them! For me, they are a combination of spooky, threatening setting, and a dark, dangerous hero, preferably with a tragic and/or wicked past. There has to be a genuine danger to the heroine, and a paranormal element always helps with atmosphere.

Your main female character, Kate, is a Cambridge researcher—a scholar down to business. Can you give us more clues about her personality? Which are her strengths and weaknesses and what made her a good fit for your story?

Kate is obviously very bright and determined. Though far from the sweet, passive heroine of old who screamed a lot and waited to be rescued, she has her own kind of unworldly innocence, isolated as she is in her academic bubble, surrounded by the past, which is, of course, what takes her to Invershiel. Relationship-wise, she’s vulnerable, having been hurt and let down before – and someone like hard-living rocker Dan is way out of her comfort zone. She’s also basically kind and extremely curious by nature, and not afraid to pursue that curiosity.  And she wants to do the right thing.

Dan Stewart, on the other hand, is a brooding recluse—a character often found in Gothic stories—but this one is a rocker with a wild past. What chemistry were you going for between the two main characters?

The chemistry of opposites! Kate is wary of him for so many reasons, and yet she’s very aware of his physical attractions. He also surprises her constantly. She’s drawn to the hint of wickedness about him, and yet is unexpectedly comfortable in his company. They’re very different people with very different pasts, thrown together by chance.

Which actors did you have in mind when writing those two characters or who would you like seeing portray your characters should the book ever became a film?

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(Image by Wikimedia Commons)

I had a definite picture in my head of how Dan would look, but I never had an actor in mind. I’ve just been looking through LOADS of pictures of Scottish actors (I do feel he should be a Scottish actor!) and I can’t find one who really fits. Dan is one of those big, loose-limbed men, not really good-looking but definitely sexy. Actors like David Tenant, Gerard Butler, James MacAvoy, and Ian Henry Cusick are really too handsome, though I suppose they could be roughed up a little in make-up J.

ETA: Marie and I agreed that Luke Evans would make a great Dan (his Welshness, aside).

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Kate would be easier – maybe Emma Watson or Jessica Brown Findlay, or someone else both beautiful and strong in appearance.

ETA: I chose Jessica Brown Findlay (Images are labelled for reuse)

The story mostly takes place in Invershiel House. Could you give us a brief description of the story’s setting as seen in the book?

It’s an old, stone house, medieval in origin and added to throughout the ages. Obviously, it’s full of ghosts, real and metaphorical! Here’s Kate’s first glimpse of it:

“I could barely see the house for the horizontal rain blasting across my windscreen. What I could make out was dark and bleak and about as welcoming as a leaky roof, but since I was already late for my initial appointment—thanks to appalling single-track roads and foul driving conditions—I took the next turning and bumped my poor old car up the muddy track towards Invershiel House.

“I thought this might once have been a gracious driveway, for in front of the big, turreted house itself, it widened into a large, tarmac area with two four by fours parked near the imposing front door. I parked my poor little car next to the others, grabbed my bag, and made a dash for the entrance. I bolted up the steps to the wide porch, which was flanked by two stone columns, and rang the bell.

“While I waited, I turned and gazed through the rain at the lowering Highland hills, their summits lost in mist and cloud. Even in this foul weather, the scene held a strange, grand beauty that caught at my breath with sheer awe. I felt very small and insignificant.”

Last but not least, the greater setting—Scotland. What are the Scottish elements that played in the story? Give us some examples of the book’s Scottishness.

Well, there’s the rain :). We get a lot of that, especially in the west. And the Highland scenery is spectacular. Then there’s our history, which is long and often bloody! Kate is there for particular historical documents, but the whole house is steeped in a much broader past.  Related to that, we have many ghost sightings, especially in old houses and castles (though obviously this is played up for tourist purposes!)

But of course, Scotland is much more than pretty scenery and Highland lairds! Dan himself is a Lowlander (as, indeed, are the vast majority of Scots!), the product of a rough Glasgow housing scheme where money is short and unemployment high. Like most countries, Scotland is a place of contrasts, not least the down-to-earth versus the esoteric, aggression versus kindness, and it was great fun to play with that in GHOST IN THE RAIN.

Thanks for talking about Ghost in the Rain, Marie. What are you up to writing-wise these days?

My pleasure, Maria! Thanks so much for inviting me. And by the way, I love your HOUSE AT THE EDGE.

Writing-wise, I’ve been a bit quiet over the last few months, having to concentrate on other things – but I have plans to write more in my historical Gothic series, Darke of Night, and my paranormal suspense series, The Gifted. Looking forward to that!

About the Author

about-marieMarie Treanor lives in Scotland, in a chaotic house by the sea, together with her eccentric husband, three much atoo smart children and a small dog who rules them all. Most days, she avoids both housekeeping and evil day jobs by writing stories of paranormal romance and fantasy.

Marie is the award-winning author of over forty sexy paranormal romances – Indie, New York and E-published.

You can find out more about Marie and her books on her website: www.MarieTreanor.com.

Subscribe to her New Release Mailing Listhttp://www.marietreanor.com/marie-treanor-newsletter/

Catch more latest news on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Treanor-Paranormal-Romance/105866982782360.

Follow on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/MarieTreanor

And on Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com/marietreanor/

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Re-covering your books

Coincidentally, the two authors I first connected with when I set out to become an author both revamped the covers of their debut novels recently. I’m also in the process of re-examining my published book’s cover, so I thought it would be useful to discuss the matter further.

How does a writer’s perception on covers evolve?

Science fiction and children’s books author Nicholas Rossis and fantasy and paranoral romance author Effrosyni Moschoudi gave their novels a great boost with new, fresh, awesome covers.

Before I start the Q&A with both Effrosyni and Nicholas, note that they both have amazing offers running right now.

Effrosyni Moschoudi’s The Necklace of Goddess Athena which we will further discuss is FREE from 19-22 November.

Nicholas Rossis’ first book in the Pearseus series is FREE until November 20 and again on November 30.

Have you grabbed your copies? Now let’s talk covers.

profpic 690x884 png 300dpiEffrosyni Moscoudi has received accolades for both her paranormal romance trilogy The Lady of the Pier (an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards quarter-finalist) and her debut time-travelling fantasy The Necklace of Goddess Athena. When the book first came out, Effrosyni had chosen this cover for it:

 

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If you click on the book’s title above, you’ll see this new, amazing cover. Let’s ask Effrosyni about this need to give her debut a fresh look.

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Hi, Fros! The new cover is awesome. Really eye-catching! But I’m sure you loved your first cover when you chose it. What were the elements you intended to bring out back then?

When I started two years ago, I knew no one, and my indie budget was non-existent, thus I didn’t have the luxury of employing a professional who could make me a tailored-made cover. Luckily, my sister-in-law, Deborah Mansfield, worked in London as a high-flying graphic designer at the time and although she did anything but ebook covers at work, I thought I had nothing to lose asking if she could help. She was a sweetheart, getting all excited about the prospect of assisting me at the start of my publishing journey and I am forever grateful to her for that. Deborah made the initial cover for The Necklace of Goddess Athena as well as all three in the Lady of the Pier series (plus a fourth cover for a companion poetry book to the series that I plan to publish in January).

 

I didn’t give much input on the first cover. I just sent to Debs a lovely image of the Parthenon (courtesy of my brother-in-law, Adrian Leach – yes, I involved the whole family in that first cover, LOL). I also said it would be lovely if I could have a little owl and a necklace somewhere on the cover and that was the result. Debs chose the graphics, the fonts, the placement of everything and I trusted her blindly. I got a multitude of compliments for this cover across the social media and it helped me tremendously during the first two years of my indie journey.
How has your perception on covers shifted since then?

Well, as you know, they say you live and learn and, boy, is this the case when you’re an indie author! By the time I felt the need to give the sales on this book a boost via a new cover, I had picked up a thing or two on book covers and what makes them more appealing to the reader. They say, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but it’s a fact that we all do. It’s human nature. So, for the new cover I knew I wanted the wow-factor to be taken under consideration more than anything else. Also, I knew the first cover was static and I needed to have a couple and an action thrown in there for a more dynamic result. I also learned at some point that colors play a very important role and that every genre has its secrets when it comes to the colors its expected to have for the genre to speak for itself. So, for The Necklace of Goddess Athena I imagined dark colors to convey mystery, danger, and to add tension – everything you would expect from a mysterious fantasy story.

And then some. How did the new cover come about?

As I mentioned earlier, I needed a new cover as to give the book a sales boost. This time round I was able to afford a professional designer specializing on e-books and I knew, more or less, what the cover should look like. My graphic designer, the talented Alex Saskalidis of 187designz was, like, in my head! I gave him the blurb and told him I wanted an antique clock and a couple on it, mentioning also the Parthenon and Athena, of course, in case he could find something suitable. Alex worked miracles with that. He came up with this awesome cover that made my jaw drop, and it was his very first proposal. It was exactly what I had in mind. He picked the dark colors without me even talking about this, and picked these incredible graphics too. The glint inside the Acropolis and the clock convey the time travel element perfectly while the couple running hand in hand were straight out of the first chapter. It’s the scene of Daphne and Phevos arriving in modern-day Athens at night. One thing I know for sure –  I’m done looking for graphic designers. Alex was a breeze to work with – polite and easygoing, and that’s equally important to me. Alex was a real treasure to find and I recommend him highly!

No need to use special powers of persuasion. Your cover speaks on its own. I’m already using Alex to work his magic on my own cover.
Readers, if you think the cover is attractive wait till you delve in this book. I did and easily 5-starred it. Here’s my review.

And don’t forget. This awesome book is FREE from tomorrow until November 22! Don’t miss out! Here’s that link again: The Necklace of Goddess Athens.

Rossis_1000pxNicholas Rossis’ rampant fantasy constructs fantastical worlds for grown-ups and imaginative tales for kids. His Pearseus epic fantasy series has reached the No. 1 spot on various Kindle categories, and Runaway Smile, his heart-warming children’s story has earned notable distinctions. You can read Runaway Smile for free on Nicholas blog.

 

Nicholas, let’s talk about your Pearseus series. If I remember correctly, you created the first version of the cover, right?

Yes, and I was insanely proud of it at the time. I used a couple of designs my illustrator friend, Dimitris Fousekis, drew for me—the Pearseus logo and the scales of Themis. I hand-drew a map of Pearseus, scanned it and used it as the background, along with some paragraphs from the book in script font.

I then arranged everything to create the cover, using the best of my artistic abilities.

And why did this enthusiasm wane?

We are such terrible judges of our own work, aren’t we? That’s why we need nice people like editors and beta readers. We fall in love with our work, but can’t be sure just how great—or poor—it is until we verify it with the world.

In my case, I uploaded the covers to  Rate Book Cover—a website that allows visitors to rate your books covers using a simple one-to-five star voting system. To my horror, my covers rated between 3 and 3.5 stars. That’s when I decided to have a professional designer, Alex Saskalidis of 187designz, redesign them.

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I love the texture in the new cover. 

Alex is great with fonts. First, he got rid of the Pearseus logo, which was intricate and impressive, but hard to read. Instead, he used a simple, modern font that hints at science fiction, thereby better conveying the unique mixture of fantasy and sci-fi of my books.

Second, he redesigned the scales of Themis, using photographs. The new scales are much more realistic and eye-catching.

Last, he used photorealistic backgrounds to create a tactile image that suits the books well.

In short, Alex’s approach was more professional than mine. You can tell he does this for a living, can’t you?

The final proof that the redesigned covers work better came when I uploaded them on Rate Book Cover. The new covers got an average score of 4.5 stars. One could argue that a difference of a single star is insignificant, but there are three reasons why I felt it was worth it:

First of all, my book covers now reflect the professional writing and editing of the books.

Second, as Pearseus has been Indie published, it has to compete against professional publishing houses. How can you do that with an amateurish cover?

And last but not least, my professional pride (fine, vanity) has now been fully satisfied. Which is priceless 🙂

Hear, hear! Alex did a great job on Pearseus as well!

Readers, make sure you grab your FREE copy of The Rise of the Prince now! Here’s the link. Yes, I’ve read and reviewed this amazing series. Here’s my review.

And if you want to see more work of the talented Alex Saskalidis, here’s his Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I wrote 28K words in two days – Guest post by Ivy Sinclair

I got you there, didn’t I? I can picture those of you who know me doing a double-take. It famously took me four years to write my first book, but I’ve been hanging out with a crowd that really really pumps out words, and their attitude towards writing has rubbed off on me.

Ivy Sinclair is the author of shifter suspense and paranormal thriller novels. She published this post of how she churned out 28K words in two days in one of the author groups I follow, and I just had to ask for it. Read through and get inspired. Duplicating her feat sounds next to impossible, but her attitude and determination have inspired me into quadrupling my daily output. Ivy, take it from here:

How I Wrote 28,000 Words in Two Days

by Ivy Sinclair

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This post isn’t intended to be a braggery kind of post, but hopefully offer up some helpful tips for any writer who wants to write faster and get a ton of words down on the page. The way I do this isn’t for the faint of heart and isn’t something I just woke up one morning and said “I’m going to be a crazy ass writing fool today.” I write fast- and this just tells you how fast and how much I can write when I’m properly motivated.

Even if you have no desire to ever try any of this kind of lunacy (much like I enjoy running well enough to do a 5K, but I have no desire to run a marathon), you might find a tip or trick here in any case.

Prior to this particular 2-day writing marathon, my personal best for 2 solid days of writing was in the 20-22K word range. I had done that several times, and I honestly thought this marathon was going to be the same. Turns out, because I needed to get to “THE END” no matter what- I needed to go longer than I anticipated. Luckily, I had set myself up to do it and out popped the necessary 6,000 more words.

Let’s dig in.

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The first piece of the puzzle involved the dreaded “D” word: DEADLINE

Whether self-imposed or put on you by someone else (I’m looking at you, Amazon- stupid 10-day pre-order window deadline), having a deadline creates a sensation of what I’ll call positive anxiety. Your deadline should be publically announced somehow- tell your family or friends, tell your fans. Absolutely, write it down. Put a note in your calendar. Make sure it’s visible there in front of you all the time.

In my case, I’d written half of my novel already but had slacked off a bit. When I was 10 days away from the promised publishing date that I’d given my fans, I knew I was quickly approaching the point of no return. It was disappoint my fans or get the manuscript done. That deadline set the fire under my ass.

prepareThe second piece of the puzzle is SCHEDULE.

You have your deadline. You (hopefully) know enough about yourself and your writing process to know how long you realistically need to accomplish your goal, and you know what you have going on in the rest of your life around that time. Strategically pick days/times that work best for you to focus exclusively and wholeheartedly on your story.

That means you might have to have some tough conversations with the people around you to tell them to leave you the heck alone—of course, I’d soften that by sharing with them the importance of what you’re trying to do and how they can best support you. Get their buy-in and make them your cheerleaders. Promise them updates in-person (if you live with them) or via text or social media. Having a cheering squad is kind of fun— and also serves the purpose of keeping them out of your face.

I picked a weekend where I had no commitments on Sat/Sun, and the kids were with my husband’s ex. Quiet house. I encouraged my husband to rev up his Xbox One and have at it for the weekend. Win-win.

outlineThe third piece of the puzzle is PREPARATION.

Now, this is the point in the post where I expect to lose the pantsers, so I’ve got to say something brilliant. How about, I’ll give you some thoughts on how to make a tiny, little, minimal outlining task fun? (I promise—practically painless.)

I was scarred for life by the horrible outlining requirements for school papers back in junior high/high school. If I never have to look at main bullet + 3 required sub-bullets format again in my life, it’ll be too soon. I vehemently opposed doing any kind of plotting ahead of time with my books, and I did okay with that for a long time.

Then I started interviewing other authors earlier this year, and these were people who were seriously killing it in terms of sales and building a rabid fan base. Almost without exception, every one of them plotted their books out in advance. Some of them went far more in-depth than others, and everybody’s process seemed a bit different. That’s when I realized that I could make plotting what I wanted it to be in a way that worked for ME. Suddenly, my opposition to the idea waned.

Here’s what I do. (This is the FUN part.) I put a big whiteboard up on the wall of my office. I separated it into the 3-act story structure. (That’s a whole other post, but that has completely changed the dynamic of my writing.) Then I bought a stack of brightly colored post-it notes. On each one, I wrote one sentence describing a scene in my story. (In black sharpie, so the sentences aren’t that long.) Then I stuck the post-it up on the board where it fit in the story.

When you have that done for every scene (or chapter), you have a lovely visual diagram of your story. You can move bits around if something doesn’t make sense or add something in if you see a gap. This whole process can take me anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on the story length.

Then I open up my pre-formatted Word document and align chapter headings to my storyboard. I type in my one sentence summary for each chapter/scene. I take a break. Later, I come back and flesh out the chapter summaries a bit more- usually 200-250 words per chapter.

That’s it. That’s the extent of my outline, and I made it as painless as possible.

Now, if I’m doing a preorder, that’s what I use for my drat file upload. I know some folks will probably flip about that, but I’ve used this process over half a dozen times, and it works for me. I’ve never missed a deadline, and I don’t plan on it. I put a warning note at the top that if they’re seeing that message to contact Amazon because they got the wrong file (in case Amazon messes up the draft vs. final file for some reason.)

Now we are really for the crucial piece of the puzzle: SPRINTS.

You’ve scheduled your time and cleared your calendar. You’ve committed publically and to yourself you’re going to do this thing. You have your outline (however bony or robust it is) ready and raring to go.

It’s time to strap your butt to your chair and get the job done. I haven’t found a more effective way to do this than Pomodoro sprints. 25-minute writing sessions following by a 5-min break before starting again. After having used sprints for a couple of years, I know that I average 1250 words in a single sprint. I realize that not everyone is going to hit that, but if you know what you’re going to write (see PREPARATION above), and you keep practicing, you will get faster than you are right now.

When you know your average wordcount per sprint, you can divide that by the number of words you need to get in, and that’ll tell you how many sprints you need to do in the time you have allocated. During my massive wordcount days, I usually plan on 10K words per day. That’s 8 sprints of 1250 each.

I break it down like this: 4 sprints in the morning while I’m fresh. 2 sprints in the afternoon because that’s when my energy is low, and my attention span has a tendency to wander. 2 final sprints in the evening before I give myself the reward of having a glass of wine and watching one of my favorite TV shows or movies.

Honestly, when I do it like this I still have time to have proper sitdown meals with my husband, putter a bit on the internet, and go to the gym or run errands. Or sit my lazy butt on the couch and stare off into space. It doesn’t feel that strenuous. The thing is, you can’t let yourself get distracted so much that you don’t come back and do the work. (Very important!!)

I’d recommend changing the scenery up throughout the day too. I usually write those first 4 sprints at my local Starbucks. Then I do the afternoon/evening sprints in different places in my house. I listen to either baroque or early jazz music with headphones during my sprints (also effective for giving my husband a clue that I am busy…) and that is the only time I listen to those genres of music. That’s a productivity brain hack I read years ago to help train my brain to focus on writing. Do whatever you need to do to fight any kind of desire to be distracted.

When I had my 28,000 word weekend, I wrote 10K words on my first day and realized that if I did the same on the 2nd day, I still had too much runaway left on the story to finish it out. My whole goal was to get to the end of the story. So I did more sprints to fill-in during the afternoon and evening. I wrote “THE END” on the manuscript about 11pm that 2nd day, and I had done 15 sprints. (Some were a bit shorter because I got interrupted btw.)

My eyes were blurry. My brain was mush. But it was done.

Don’t miss the final step of the puzzle: CELEBRATE

My favorite way to celebrate completing the first draft of a manuscript is to open a bottle of champagne and have a toast with my husband. Know that if you attempt anything like this, the day after you’re done your body will probably be sore, and your brain pretty fuzzy. What tempers it is the giddy feeling of kicking ass and taking names for a job well done. 🙂

I’d recommend taking the day off work completely and being kind to yourself. Sleep in. Get a massage. Take a long walk. Go shopping. Take a nap. Veg in front of the TV. Whatever strikes your fancy but recognize that it is important to do that if you ever think you’d do it again.

So that’s it. How I wrote 28,000 words in two days and some thoughts on how you could do the same. Happy Writing!

Recommended Resources: 2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron for rapid writing, 5,000 WPH app from Chris Fox for timing sprints and tracking wordcounts

So what do you think about that, folks? Outworldly? Impossible? Doable? Whatever you think, let’s all give Ivy a round of applause because a feat it is. Bravo, Ivy!

About the Author

Ivy Sinclair is the author of the Greyelf Grizzlies bear shifter suspense series as well as the necromancer and demon paranormal thriller serial, Protect Her. She is a firm believer in true love, a happily ever after ending, and the medicinal use of chocolate to cure any ailment of the heart. Ivy’s guilty pleasures include sushi, endless Starbucks lattes, and wine. Connect with Ivy on Twitter @Author_Ivy or on Facebook.

The phenomenal Kim Linwood – Part Two

Last time I invited Kim Linwood over to talk about the spanking success of Rebel, her debut stepbrother romance (no blood-related MCs, big HEA) and her method, I ended up publishing one of the most read and widely shared posts on this blog (here is the interview if you missed it). Her second outing with Bossy in the same sub-genre was equally successful, proving that she’s here to stay. I’m super excited to have Kim back to give us the lowdown on how she repeated her feat of producing a book that topped Kindle categories and shot up the Kindle bestseller list.

Welcome back, Kim! Are you ready for another third degree? Your success is too good not to be shared. Let’s start with your writing process. Bossy was published four months after Rebel but still, having read both books, I felt you have grown as an author. What are the writing areas that you worked on more this time around?

Thank you! I feel like Bossy is a better book, but it’s really difficult to evaluate when you’re so close to the source. By the time you’ve read over the book for the millionth time, you’re convinced it’s terrible, completely unfunny and hopelessly unromantic.

This time I tried to work on character depth and story depth, without losing the humor and plain fun that I try to inject into my stories. Declan and Claire’s relationship builds more naturally in Bossy, I think, and there’s a subplot narrative beyond just “I love/hate you” that helps drive the story and their relationship forwards. Obviously, the readers will determine whether I succeeded or not, but that was at least what I was going for. 🙂

You target a commercial, trendy romance niche: the stepbrother romance. Do you adjust your story to fit a specific mold? Do you follow a specific recipe or do you go by instinct? 

This is a difficult question to answer. By writing to a niche, I suppose the answer is always going to be yes, since I keep the niche in mind while planning the book. On the other hand, it’s a type of book that I really enjoy writing, putting my personal touch to it. I think my books have a definite comedic aspect to them, and I try to make the characters bigger than life with a bunch of over the top antics, all while writing a solid romance with real emotions and a happy ending at the core of it. I think my style works pretty well for the stepbrother/bad boy tropes, so I guess the answer is yes and no. The niche guides my decisions when I plan the book, but they’re usually decisions I might’ve made anyway, so I’m not sure if those count as concessions or not.

You published Rebel in May with great results. What knowledge have you gained since in terms of marketing a book? What did you do differently this time?

To be honest, I’ll be following more or less the same plan. Rebel was #11 in the Amazon Kindle store at its best, and it’s impossible to not be very happy about that. Obviously, I was hoping for a repeat success, but while I was hopeful, it’d be crazy for me to expect it. It could be quite possible that Rebel was a fluke, or just happened to show up at the right place at the right time. It was my first novel, and with a sample size of one, it’s difficult to glean any meaningful data. So for now, I’ll keep going with what I know worked last time, and then in a month or two, I’ll look back at this launch and see if there’s anything I feel needs to change.

Do you see the stepbrother romance trend holding up? Is there another romance niche on the rise?

There are definitely fewer stepbrother novels hitting the top ranks these days, so the trend might be dying down, or there might just be a lull right now. That said, I still see authors doing well with them and I know there are more coming from authors I respect. I have a lot of fun with the trope, so I’ll probably keep at them while readers enjoy them. That said, bad boys and sassy heroines don’t really seem to go out of style, even if the specifics change. Whether they’re werewolves, bikers, stepbrothers, MMA fighters, or something else, I think they’ll be around in some form for a long time to come. Who knows, maybe I’ll even write a few with different tropes just to mix it up. 🙂

As for coming genres, I have hopes for science fiction romance. The new Star Wars movie comes out around Christmas, and authors like Ruby Lionsdrake and Mina Carter have had good luck with them. If they’re going to get to top 10 material, I don’t know, though. I think writing sci-fi would be a ton of fun, but contemporary romance does seem to be the vast majority of the bestsellers, but there was certainly periods for werewolves and vampires in the past, so maybe the fantastical will get another chance. There are many authors who are still doing really well in those categories.

I guess my answer is, I don’t know, but if it’s not stepbrothers, I think it’ll be difficult to go wrong with the bad boys in some format. 😉

I know you sent out over 300 ARCs which got you over 100 reviews on the first day of Bossy’s publication. With only one book out and a budding platform, how did you connect with such a large number of potential readers and got them to give up their email address?

Well, for Rebel, I sent out 113 ARCs, I think it was, so the first thing I did was to ask them to sign up if they wanted to do an ARC again. I do a new signup each time to keep the list fresh. I figure that’ll get rid of those who didn’t care for the previous book and probably aren’t a good match as an ARC reader anyway. Also, my mailing list had about 230 people on it at the time, so I offered all of them to sign up as ARC readers.

At the same time, I try to get to know other authors, especially ones who write in similar genres, and we’ll do newsletter exchanges, so several of my friends sent notes to their mailing lists asking for ARC signups. In addition, I used Facebook, but I do think the majority came from the newsletters and previous ARC reviewers.

Endorsement through newsletters. Awesome! I keep seeing indie authors adding a whole other book at the end of a new release (two even). You’ve also added Rebel in its entirety as a bonus novel in Bossy. Why an entire book when it’s already up on Amazon and not just the one chapter?

With the way Kindle Unlimited has changed to paying authors by the page, there’s really very little reason to not give the reader as much content as you can, with as low of a barrier as possible. If it’s as simple as flipping a page to start reading another of your books, the threshold is virtually zero, at least so long as the reader likes your writing to begin with. You still have to generate quality product, writing good stories well, or they’ll never get there. But so long as they do, it’s a win/win situation for author and reader.

That makes so much sense. So, readers, you see that writing well is just one of the talents a successful author possesses (although it’s the number one talent, and that will never change). But if sales matter to you, then you have to keep abreast of trends, pool resources with others, and keep those books coming out! (Maria, are you listening?)

Kim, thank you so much for allowing me to tap into your insights for the second time. Here’s to you coming over a third with another bestseller, equally jaw-dropping stats and more useful tips.

Thank you so much, and believe you me, I hope so too! 😉

Links used in this article:

Bossy: A Stepbrother Romance (with bonus novel Rebel)Amazon US–   Amazon UK

My review of Bossy

Rebel: A Stepbrother Romance)Amazon US– Amazon UK

My review of Rebel

Kim’s first Q&A on MM Jaye writes

Connect with Kim Linwood

Sitehttp://kimlinwood.com
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/kimlinwood
Facebook: http://facebook.com/kim.linwood

Do you give a LOGLINE when you’re asked for a TAGLINE?

I’ve seen the issue of tagline vs logline raised in forum conversations, so I did some research on it. Apparently, if you pitch a movie script, and you claim that a logline is a tagline, it can be instantly rejected. I hope that when it comes to books this is not set in stone, but knowing what you’re talking about is always a sign of professionalism, and that’s what we’re all striving for.

TAGLINEvsLOGLINE

So what is the difference between a tagline and a logline?

Tagline

It’s a short catchphrase (or two but not more than three) that captures the essence of your story. Think about what you’d put on the cover of your book.

What to consider when creating a tagline

  • Hooking your reader (how? use puns, fresh language, incite feelings)
  • Serving your genre (how? use genre keywords)

Examples:

Tired of seeing him go through women like water, can she convince him to pull her out of the friend-zone? Blue Streak – Jules Barnard

In one sentence, the author “screams” romance and gives us a strong grasp of the premise—girl wants promiscuous boy to see her as more than just a friend. Note how the author hints at the heroine’s timid nature as she needs him to pull her out of the friend-zone.

Love will go on forever seeking another chance. The Lady of the Pier by Effrosyni Moschoudi

This is a romance with a paranormal twist. Note the key phrase that denotes the sub-genre: love will go on forever

An unshared smile is a wasted smile. Runaway Smile — Nicholas C. Rossis (Children’s book)

Tragedy awaits. The Search by C.H. Little (Thriller)

What you mustn’t do

  • Don’t make it too long which would mean applying a smaller font for your cover (not readable in thumbnail size)
  • Don’t try to describe the plot (or you’ll get into “logline” territory)
  • Don’t make it too obscure (i.e. use a gimmick that makes no sense unless you read the book)

Logline

This is the shortest description possible of your plot. It has to be one sentence only of up to 50 words. If you go over, it becomes a synopsis. Less could be a tagline.

Whereas in the tagline you want to hint at what’s there and leave an aura of mystery, here you have to establish your protagonist and antagonist and explain why the reader would want to read your book. I’ve also seen it called “the elevator pitch”. Think about meeting an agent in an elevator, needing to answer the dreaded “what’s your book about” question.

The logline is not suitable for your book cover. You will want to include it in your Media Kit, though, together with the tagline and your official blurb.

What you should consider when creating a logline

  • What drives your MCs (internal drive)
  • What makes your book exciting (the conflict)

Here’s what I plan on using for my upcoming novella Fate Captured (a romance).

A young woman will stop at nothing to make the stubborn Greek man she’s fallen for see the truth about his family even if it means losing him forever.

My heroine’s internal drive is a need to uncover lies (she’s been lied to by her family, and it’s the one thing she cannot tolerate). My hero’s main personality trait is his stubbornness (well, his Greek DNA is not a big help in that area). Showing the premise for their clash and what that entails (her losing him forever, him hanging on to a distorted view of people that matter) is–hopefully–what makes the book an interesting read.

Now, the tagline for the same book would be:

She wants him to see the truth. He wants her out of his life. Even if she gives it meaning.

Here, the romance branding takes front seat. She gives meaning to his life, ergo his life is empty. He needs her, but he’s too stubborn to see it.

See the difference?

I found an interesting article in pdf form presenting various famous film loglines with comments about their effectiveness. It’s an excellent guide to help you create effective loglines.

http://www.norman-hollyn.com/535/handouts/loglines.pdf

If you’d like to bounce tag- or logline ideas off me, just use the comments’ section.

Thanks for reading!

Meet your characters over a glass of wine: Savannah Morgan – WIP Interview

Savannah Morgan, an author of ACR stories, immersed in danger and suspense is today’s guest. If you don’t know what an ACR is, Savannah has a neat explanation for you.

Hello, I’m Savannah Morgan, author of the Sapphire Springs series. The series is labeled as erotic romance, and it is definitely for the 18 and over crowd as nothing is left out, but I dislike that genre label for my books. Don’t get me wrong, I read erotica and erotic romances but they tend to fall short on story adaption and character development and getting the couple to have sex as often and sometimes in as many places as possible seems to be the driving force. A friend of mine told me about a little known genre called Adult Contemporary Romance, or ACR. ACR books are more driven by the characters development and growth and the plot drives the story not the sex, even though there are some very steamy love scenes with no holds barred action and language.

As for Sapphire Springs, it’s a fictional town set in Montana, USA where nothing is as it seems. Lies, secrets and betrayals can be found at every turn, but among those you will find passion, lust, and deep abiding love. The books of Sapphire Springs revolve around the lives and friends of the founding family, the Blackthorns. It is a complicated bloodline but I do my best to unravel those complications and provide a family tree at the beginning of every book to help you keep everyone straight. My goal as a writer is to bring you entertainment. My goal in writing Sapphire Springs is to bring you lifelong friends.

Sapphire Springs Secrets_Master Cover_Long Hair_No  Background

Savannah, thanks for the distinction. In an ever-evolving market, it’s good to be familiar with the terminology. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?

Thank you for having me, Maria. This is quite an honor.  This is probably my most dreaded question of any interview, simply because I lead a relatively quiet and boring life. Lol

I’m a wife of 26 years, this month, to a wonderfully supportive man. We don’t have children, but we do have our two adopted/rescued dogs; Madison – full blood Black Labrador Retriever, who will be 15 this July and Caleb – 1/2 Black Lab, 1/2 Australian Dingo, who will be ten this year. Madison came to us after having been severely abused and has turned out to be the best protector I could ever have. She has literally saved my life 3 times. Caleb came to us as a Katrina puppy. He was a product of his parents being left behind when their owners evacuated the coast of Mississippi before Hurricane Katrina hit.

The stories of my dogs, is important in that two causes most dear to my heart is rescuing abused and abandoned pets and responsible pet ownership. An animal doesn’t ask a thing from humans other than to be loved and taken care of, in return they give us so much; companionship, humor, unconditional love, non-judgment of our choices good or bad, and in many cases, me especially, our lives.  I would like to see more stringent laws that would protect animals and punish those abusing them more accordingly. I’ll stop there, before I get up on the soapbox.

I do not have a college degree but I have college courses behind me. I have been in the process of getting my degree for the last 20 years, but due to family needs I’ve had to stop at times to find employment. Something I’m sure many of your followers and my readers can understand. My motto is: It’s only too late when you’re dead. So never, ever give up on your dreams, big or small.

As for hobbies, I like to read and write, but I guess those aren’t much of a surprise. I also love music and movies, but mostly I like creating. I design and make dreamcatchers, I crochet, I love being creative in the kitchen, and I’m also an amateur graphic designer. I even do my own cover art, promotional banners and photo teasers. Having, listed all of those indoor activities it might interest people to know that I’m also an amateur photographer and love landscape photography. I even love going out for a few days and camping out with just the husband and the dogs.

As for quirks I imagine I have many but I suppose, if I’m going to be honest, I’m a bit of a control freak when I have something specific in my head. Since it’s sometimes a little difficult for me to explain a design or an idea that’s in my head I tend to take on too much and control the situation until I have it exactly how I want it. Another quirk I have is I don’t like a lot of noise, chatter or banging noises, but when I listen to music, usually head-banging rock and roll, I turn the volume up to dangerous levels. That’s a bit quirky isn’t it? LOL

And you call that a boring life?! Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

Irresistible

Sapphire Springs Book 3

Amara Davis is running for her life, powerless to prove her innocence or her sanity. For nearly two years she has led a quiet life in a small Oregon town. The signs are telling her there is change coming, but which path will take her to freedom?

Duncan McKinnon has just been promoted to US Marshal, but he buried a brother and arrested his own mother for that gold star. Now he is on mandatory administrative leave while he awaits the trials he is the star witness in. Warned to stay away from active cases, Duncan heads home to Oregon wanting nothing more than a cold beer and to sleep in his own bed, but thoughts of the fugitive Amara Davis plague him. There is just something about the woman Duncan can’t shake.

Will Duncan find Amara first and make the arrest, or will he destroy his promising career with the US Marshal Service by protecting a fugitive?

Can Amara trust the signs she’s been seeing at nearly every turn and are those signs really pointing at the handsome US Marshal? Can she make Duncan see the truth, or will he betray her for his badge?

Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

Actually, I don’t really have a writing method down. Since I’m a stay at home wife I tend to write when the characters talk to me. That could be at 6:00 AM, Noon, in the evening or waking me up at 3 in the morning. I write when it’s there, so I don’t really have a word count that I strive to hit every day.

Plotter, pantser or both?

I would have to say I’m both. Since I have a huge cast of Characters in both series I am writing, Sapphire Springs and the upcoming first release of Deadly Flowers, I have to be a plotter. I utilize a massive multiply worksheet spreadsheet in Excel to keep everyone straight. Now let me explain the character development process first. My characters come to me fully formed with a story to tell. There is like this room in my head that has two chairs, a small table and a fireplace, and depending on my mood the character and I visit over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine as they tell me all about them. From that point the beginning and the ending come to me….usually days, sometimes weeks apart. Once I start writing though I become a pantser. I sit down and my keyboard and type out the plotted beginning and then once that is down I write as the story unfolds in my mind. The amazing thing is only minor details change in the ending from the time it comes to me and the time it is actually written, months later.

That’s a really interesting process! What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Starting it. Once I make up my mind and actually sit down and write it, so far, seems to flow seamlessly. But the actual sitting down and doing it is my greatest issue. When I have a story bubbling in my head, dying to get out, it seems as if everything hits me at once and I don’t have time to sit down and get it down. That’s why I carry a digital recorder with me everywhere I go, and make certain those batteries are fully charged. I don’t want to miss a thing while I’m dealing with real life demands.

Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

I think every author deals with this. Truthfully, the answer to the question above is the answer to this one too. Real life demands tend to pull my focus and inspiration from writing. The only way I can motivate myself is to work through the real life issue and get it done with. At that point my mind opens up like a floodgate and the story is, thankfully, still there. I pray it is always that way.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

10856169_1585397598370635_1179482092_o

My husband and I have transformed one of the bedrooms of our home into a joint office. Our computers are nearly side by side. LOL I don’t have anything really captivating in front of me, just a blank wall as you can see in the attached picture. It’s not good to distract me with too many things, say like sunshine, because I’ll be grabbing the camera and the dogs and going out for a walk instead of writing. LOL

I’d do the exact same thing. Now your workspace pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board in Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

Yes. I have an extensive home library filled with books on subjects such Celtic Deities, Catholic Saints, weaponry, explosives, Native American culture and beliefs, Myths and legends along with reference material such as a dictionary that has nearly every word in the English Language and its origins and when it became popular. LOL I also utilize experts, such as military members, police, and even my own husband who is a network security engineer. If it or they have knowledge I need I will seek it out as quickly as possible.

Oh my, you’re fully equipped! How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

The funny thing is, is I don’t celebrate writing “The End”. I actually have never typed those words at the end of a book. I think I might be a little superstitious. A small part of my mind tells me if I type those words I may never write another book. LOL Silly I know, but there it is. As for celebrating the completion of a book, I never really thought of that as a celebrating point. I mean, yeah, it’s done, but really it’s just beginning. You have edits, and rewrites and then formatting (which is my least favorite thing to do) cover photos to look through, a cover to create, photo blurbs to make, you know the list is almost endless. LOL I celebrate on release day. I share with my friends and have a nice glass of wine, or a cup of coffee.

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I’ve sort of already answered this, but in a nutshell, I do it all except editing. I let someone else edit for me.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I’m still so new to all of this I’m still learning the marketing ropes, along with everything else. But I’ve fallen in with some wonderful bloggers who have been such a blessing at helping me get the word out, like you and you doing this interview on me.

Promoting Authors, Book and Reviews – Patches Brazillion

Naughty Librarians Playground – Jennifer Zamora

Not Another Damn Blog Blog – Krystal Fahl, and sometimes Jordan Marie the founder turned author comes back and helps out, as she did for my release party this past Tuesday.

Booklover – Chastity Leaphart Gregory

Booklove 4LifeBlog – Amber Smith

Paranormal Romance Trance – Tina Bell

Naughty Books and Bits – Samatha Jones

Tempting Sexy Thoughts – Julianne and Leeann

And the list goes on….LOL

Is adult contemporary romance the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I’m so glad you asked this, because my next release is a straight contemporary suspense/thriller romance, titled ‘Dakota’s Autumn. It is actually the first book in the Deadly Flowers series. I will have another book from Sapphire Springs releasing late this summer, and then I will be releasing my very first PNR title around October, and then I hope to have the 4th title in the Sapphire Springs series out by December. As you can see I have a full year of writing ahead of me.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Chocolate Ice Cream, but it has to be dark chocolate. lol
  • Pizza or sushi? Haha, Pizza.
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? Books? The Hunger Games Movies? Twilight, Oops I think I might have cheated on this one.
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? I’m embarrassed to say I had to look them both up, LOL. Since I don’t know  either of them I can only go on looks, so it would have to be Ryan Gosling, and I think I’ve seen him a couple of movies.
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Ugh, do I have to choose? Both. One after the other. I’d take next day if I could get it. lol
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Ugg boots, because I have this thing, hubby calls it a compulsion but I disagree, for boots, but the stilettos would be equally nice.

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

I’m moving everything over to Amazon.com, but you can still find Dreams on BandN.com and Smashwords.

Here is where you can find me.

Website: http://www.author-savannahmorgan.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00GU0J4WE
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7853656.Savannah_Morgan
Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/praot6y
FB Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/nsxeq9m
Google+: http://tinyurl.com/onagba8
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSavvyM
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/smorganauthor/
TSU: https://www.tsu.co/SavannahMorganAuthor
Are: http://tinyurl.com/pc22uxj
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdEO886VR1Sf_CdhP9QFTEg
Authorgraph: https://www.authorgraph.com/authors/AuthorSavvyM
Ello: https://ello.co/savannahmorgan

Thank you, Savannah, and best of luck with your future projects!

Thank you for having me. And good luck with all of your projects too.

Bye everybody.

Happy Holidays with an inspiring children’s book!

What better way to wish

happy holidays

to all of you wonderful and supportive readers than a recommendation of an inspiring, heartwarming tale for your young ones—or the young at heart!

I’ve just read and reviewed Runaway Smile, wrtten by my author friend Nicholas Rossis whose best-selling epic fantasy series, Pearseus, I’ve enjoyed immensely, and I truly loved it! Nicholas has uploaded the story here where you can read it for free! The fantastic illustrations are the work of Dimitris Fousekis.

Cover_Runaway_Smile_700

 

My Review

I picked this title up as I’m a fan of Nicholas Rossis’ epic fantasy series (Pearseus) and I was curious to see how a fantasy writer tackles the challenge of writing for kids. Smoothly, apparently. This isn’t a happy-go-lucky fairytale. The boy of this story is on a quest. Unlike Alice, this little guy is used to the bizarre world he lives in, and takes milk-surfing ants and complacent monsters in the closet at a stride. What he can’t deal with, though, is the loss of his smile. On his way to school, he comes across colorful characters with huge smiles plastered on their faces, but although they vy for the little one’s attention, they can’t seem to listen to him. They’re grown ups after all; self-serving and self-centered. Each and every one, although full of promises, fails to bring happiness to our little hero. But in the end, he finds what he’s after in the sweetest possible way, and he knows how to keep it forever.

This story is layered with thought-provoking semiotics that will attract parents as well. Fantastic illustrations make our boy’s trek to school come to life, and the summary in verse at the end is a touch of genius and extra proof of the author’s diverse talent. This is one book you won’t regret reading to little ones, but even if there aren’t any around, just go for it. You’ll love it.

Purchase Link: Amazon / Createspace

About the Author

Rossis_1000px

Avid reader. Web developer. Architect by training, holder of a PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh. Now, author.

Nicholas Rossis loves to write. Runaway Smile is his first children’s book, out of a total of six. The next one is currently being illustrated.

Except for his epic fantasy series, Pearseus, he has also published The Power of Six, a collection of short sci-fi stories, and the Greek translation of the Tao Te Ching.

He lives in Athens, Greece, in the middle of a forest, with his wife, dog and two very silly cats, one of whom is always sitting on his lap, so please excuse any typos in his blog posts: typing with one hand can be hard. Mercifully, all his books are professionally edited!

Connect with Nicholas Rossis:

Bloghttp://nicholasrossis.me
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nicholas_Rossis
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NicholasCRossis
Site: http://www.nicholasrossis.com
Pearseus Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Pearseus
LinkedIn: http://gr.linkedin.com/pub/nicholas-rossis/0/b7b/122/
Google+ http://google.com/+NicholasRossis

About the Illustrator
Fousekis_500pxBorn in 1966 in Tripoli, Libya to Greek parents, Dimitris grew up in Rome, Italy and Athens, Greece. He studied Geology at the University of Athens. During his studies, he illustrated various Paleontology-related theses and projects. Between 1992 and 1997 he worked for the Ministry of Culture, illustrating the objects unearthed during the Athens Metro construction.

Since 1997, he has freelanced with various design agencies, advertising companies and publishing houses. He has also illustrated for two musems – one in Papigo, Pilio (WW F) and one in Tinos (Marble Museum).

He is a member of the design group Parachute Font and collaborates regularly with Yalos Branding. His latest projects include the co-creation of Fuzzylon. Since 2003, he has increasingly focused on children’s books illustrations. He has already published a number of children’s books (nine so far, with a number of further titles currently under work).

Since 2010 he has lived permanently on the island of Hydra, where he teaches painting and has had his first exhibition.

You can find more about Dimitris and his work on http://www.dimitrisfousekis.com

_________________

Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad. (3,000 views and counting…)