Category Archives: Current projects

Post-Halloween foot-shuffling

Riiiiight. So I just had a pretty long break from blogging right after announcing a giveaway, didn’t I? Well, fortunately that gave Goodreaders plenty of time to add my books, of which there’ve been a pleasant few, so thank you!

I seriously can’t wait to get them out there, and I’m keeping my promise. Those who add my (e)books will get a free copy. When one has no budget for wonderful websites like Netgalley, one’s only choice is to distribute old-fashioned freebies.

Anyway, on to the excuses. RIGHT out of the blue, I found myself flat-hunting and preparing for jury service (all right, the jury part was known for a while, but not coinciding with an entire flat move!) in the run up to Christmas. Seriously, those two very stressful things collided and I almost can’t believe it’s all over. As if moving wasn’t horrible enough, I.E ‘Eurgh! So  much dust!’ and ‘WHY DO I KEEP SO MUCH CRAP?!’ and ‘I’M NEVER LIVING IN AN UPSTAIRS FLAT AGAIN!’, it had to happen on the weekend smack-bang before I started my “civic duty”.

So basically, in between tearing handfuls of my hair out and fretting over my expenses forms to make up for the lack of transcribing I’d be doing for 2 weeks, I was forced to put all bookish thoughts out of my mind. My own books, that is; of course I had time to read for pleasure during those annoying, lengthy waits in the juror’s room.

So there we have it. Before Christmas arrives I plan to get some day-job work done, finish squeezing my bank balance and get cracking on the ebooks. I never expected such a massive delay to occur, but I’m not Wonder Woman and so I was forced to just take a breather and stop expecting myself to build Rome in a day, as they say.

Now, onwards and upwards!

Double Cover Reveal!

W00p!

So it’s about time I got a shift-on with my books, and the place to start in terms of marketing, what with the books themselves being written and semi-edited – some written years ago, in fact – is with the covers.

Now, I have gone on quite a journey in terms of covers.

For a while I convinced myself that, seeing as my grand plan was to just get the book out there and get some reviews, I didn’t want to “over do it” by dressing them up as…you know, books.

Stupid, isn’t it?

I actually now realise that was my lack of self-confidence talking. Somewhere inside me was that evil voice saying, ‘What’s the point in dressing it up? It’s still crap. You can’t polish a turd, love.’

We’ve all got the Evil Voice inside us. Some are better at ignoring it than others, and I’m afraid I’ve always been particularly weak to it, even though I do truly believe in my work. It’s probably why it’s taken me so long to consider self-publishing to be an option for my hard-to-place works. Before, it just seemed like failure. I now see that a book being difficult to sell doesn’t make it bad.

Anyway, so there I was, convinced I had no right to pretty-up my work and spend money on it, so for some ridiculous reason, that converted to making some “simple” covers. Long story short, that was not working out. I’d made many attempts at making my own covers in Gimp,and they just looked like cut-and-paste collages, so I abandoned anything complicated. But even when I copied some “minimalist” covers that I loved, the best I could produce was some MS paint lookalikes that didn’t transfer well to the story at all. At all.

Problem was, I knew I needed good covers. I just had no budget at all, and the only “affordable” cover artists I’d found were, let’s say, uh…a bit shit. I wouldn’t ever name names – I can’t remember them anyway, because they were just Google results – and I know everybody has to start somewhere, but most of the pre-mades and even custom covers were overpriced for what wasn’t a very professional job. In fact most of them were down-right shoddy. Perhaps I wasn’t searching in the right places; perhaps I didn’t ask the right people. How these awful examples transferred to making my own awful covers, I’ll never know. Remember: Evil Voice.

So I was pretty down in the dumps about it all, until I stumbled upon Humble Nations. I was in love with the quality and style exhibited throughout this guy’s portfolio, and though he doesn’t appear to specifically make products for YA books, he does absolutely everything in between. His designs are such that you can think outside the box. There’s no “YA” tab, sure, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great YA covers. The pre-made designs – of which there are hundreds – are very much symbolic, in that they aren’t all completely “literal” covers, although for some genres that require that, there are covers to suit.

He was my wish-list cover artist before I realised he did pre-mades, and after that, I was stoked. Seriously, go check out the prices on pre-mades. Amazing, right? Considering what the shoddy people charge, you can get a pro on a budget. If, however, you do have a budget for custom covers, it’s still the best place to go, in my opinion. Judging by the details on his website, the custom process is quite intimate between him and the author, so you work together to build the perfect cover, with concepts and several mock-ups to choose from.

Well, it was the best place for me, anyway, and each to their own.

So, after adding my crappy “minimalist” covers to Goodreads, I waited. Turns out not a lot of people like to add books with crappy covers to their “to-read” lists, and in truth, I wouldn’t add mine with covers like that either. A friend of mine said it’s vital because, even if they’re “okay” covers and not necessarily bad, it just doesn’t ignite much faith into the author and their book if there’s no effort in the window dressing. She was so right. I’d convinced myself that it was okay to skip probably the most important aspect purely because I was afraid of making that step. Oh, and the budget, of course. Mustn’t forget that.

When people did start adding my books, however, I picked the two most popular – which, unsurprisingly, was the darker, grittier two books of the four I’ve listed; Honest and All Girls Cry – and chose them to get covers first. When I find covers that match my other two books on my perusing, then I’ll go ahead and update those. There’s no rush, though. They won’t be available for a while, but I’m working on it.

I’m actually toying with the idea of getting Honest ready to come out around Halloween, what with it being a dark story, but we’ll see.

Anyway, I am just so stoked about the covers. I love them. For the first time, I actually managed to find covers that I felt expressed not just the story but the tones  of the stories; the atmosphere. That was really, really important to me. I didn’t want them to look like typical YA novels and I’m certain they look every bit as awesome and unique and above all, professional, as I’d hoped they’d be.

So without further ado – here they are! 😀

All Girl Crys - High ResolutionHonest - High Resolution

For me, I loved how the artist could take seemingly non-cover-pictures and make them work with the right font and the right style of genre/title in the pre-mades. For example, there’s a cover of a cheesy-looking guy with glowing white teeth and folded arms. You’d think that’d make a silly romance cover, or something – but the artist made it work by giving it the title “The Smug Shit”. Now it looks like a hilarious, anecdotal memoir or maybe a quirky business management book, or something like that. He just seems to have this insight into what photographs actually should convey, rather than what you’d initially expect them to convey.

The point is, for me, this graphic artist – and any great cover artist, I’d imagine – just communicated to me. I think that’s what I’d been missing before; that aspect of an artist’s work speaking to me. I guess to enjoy your own work, you need to be open to persuasion and allow yourself to be “spoken” to, or to receive that “Calling” to a particular graphic designer.

Oh, and it’s also important to remember that the Evil Voice is an idiot, and unhelpful, and that they can just go shove a sock in it.

Editing. Urgh.

I finished my first run-through of editing and re-reading my latest novel, Beyond (previously “Prom Spirit” was the working title, just ’cause). It finished up at 80,800 words -ish.

It wasn’t nearly as horrible as I thought it was going to be, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good, either. During the writing process, when you’re all obsessed with the new story and it basically consumed your daily life, it’s easy to just think “This is the best thing I’ve ever written.” I did this. I convinced myself this was the  book to end all books. I do this with EVERY book I write.

At its heart, Beyond is just a simple story of two lost souls figuring out how to let go of their past lives.

In essence, I still love it. But once I’ve finished writing and I’m left twiddling my thumbs, that’s when the doubt sets in. I start telling myself it’s frankly terrible and I’ve just wasted time on this thing – just like ALL  my other novels. Honestly? I think it’s just part of finishing a novel. You fall in love, you doubt it, you despise it, you fall in love again. Swings and roundabouts.

So now it’ll go off to my fiancé, who actually works as a technical editor, so he has a great eye for detail. He’ll (hopefully) pick out any clumsy phases and grammar/spelling mistakes that went under my radar, of which there will be loads. Loads and loads. Too many.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t really read YA. That makes me nervous, because although he’s always very encouraging about my work, it does make me wonder if he really gets it or even likes it for what it is. Naturally, he *loves* everything I write and thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread. But if somebody doesn’t normally read YA, they won’t know what I’m up against. He also could just be saying he loves it when really, he thinks it’s a pile of cringe-worthy crap.

Those are my fears, anyway. He vehemently denies it. We’ll see.

__________________________________________________________

 

I finished reading Under The Never Sky and absolutely ADORED it. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads and a nice little review. Currently I’m reading Hush, Hush by Rebecca Fitzpatrick, which is a novel I’ve always been curious about seeing as it has, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and dramatic covers I’ve eve come across. I’ve also never read a fallen angels novel, and they seem to have been flavour of the month for, well, a lot of months…

Anyway, after that, I plan on reading the next book, Through The Ever Night on my camping trip, which is in a week’s time. Yippeee! Let’s hope the weather keeps up. How much do you bet I get stung  by a horrible, horrible, horrible wasp?

New WIP completed!!

YAY!

 

Yesterday, I finished my romantic ghost story at 78,000 words. I’m hoping by the time I’ve gone through the first draft and started my first go of edits, it’ll end up at a round 80k – just because. If the story doesn’t demand it, then I won’t worry about it so much.

My working title was originally “Prom Spirit”, because it’s about a girl who dies on prom night and ends up in limbo, where she meets Zachary, a boy who died on his prom night in the 80s. So, those two words just kinda made sense.

I’m now working with the title “Beyond”, because that’s what these guys are searching for – the path to whatever is beyond limbo, the bleak, grey world between life and death.

 

So here’s loosely what it’s about. I’ve only just completed the first draft, so forgive me if this seems a bit rusty (and it will!):

About our characters:

Our main gal, 16 year old Jamie, is battling with the loss of her own life, and dealing with the betrayal of her best friend, all from beyond the grave. When she glimpses her loved ones’ future, she is terrified that her death will set them all on the wrong paths; will her sister give up ballet and become a shrinking violet? Will her best friend end up in an unhappy relationship with Jamie’s ex, Ted? Will her parents ruin their marriage? Jamie decides she can’t let that happen – not if she has the power to set things right. Jamie must tread the fine line between ‘just visiting’…and haunting.

Zachary, a moody yet sentimental dancer, is hiding a dark secret about his death and the circumstances surrounding it. With nobody to confide in and all his resentment bottled up inside, he has lived alone in limbo for 29 years, refusing to make peace with his past and all the memories that haunt him. Zachary doesn’t do haunting; he lives in the now, and that’s how he likes it. Until Jamie comes along, that is, and turns all his stubborn ways and everything he’d grown to understand on its head.

Jamie knows they need to work together, because – duh! – she’s see the film Ghost and knows how these afterlife deals work. It’s Zachary that’s the problem – all he wants is somebody to dance with, and she wants to crack on with the haunting. They can’t faff around with flying mopeds and dancing ghosts; joy amongst death is impossible. Besides, Zachary is keeping something from her, and falling for somebody you can’t trust is dangerous…even if he’s the last ghost on earth.

 

About their world:

Limbo, the world Jamie and Zachary inhabit as ghosts, is their own town – but it’s cold, isolated and deserted. The sun shines, but there is no warmth; the flowers bloom, but their petals hold no colour. Their world is a cool shade of grey, surrounded by an eerie, mysterious green aura. If they ever hope to see the world in all its beauty again, they must make peace with their life on earth.

That is, if they can dodge the lightning. With every visit made to a loved one, a storm brews. If Jamie can’t keep herself from the land of the living, then she might just get stuck there; separating her from Zachary and whatever lies beyond for good.

It’s a fine line they’re treading. On one hand they’ve got a whole world to themselves; a world where their imaginations rule and almost anything is possible. On the other, they have a duty to discover what their unfinished business is to earn their passage to the afterlife – if there even is one!

Jamie discovers that it isn’t so easy to let go and forget, and while she’s doing unimaginable things in Limbo, her loved ones in The Living are falling apart.

——————————————

So that’s the premise, in a nut shell. I always find it incredibly difficult to condense the story into some kind of blurb or teaser that people just read and instantly understand. I tend to over-think things, start rambling, and lose sight of the key facts. /sigh

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to start editing soon, get this thing beta read, and then work towards getting the manuscript as polished as I can. Not bad for my  seventh completed book! That’s right, seven – of which only about three or four are any good for publishing, in my opinion. Actually, probably everybody’s opinion. D:

So if you’re reading this and you’d like to be a beta reader for my contemporary/spooky tale, please contact me! I need you! 🙂

 

I’m currently working on…

…A new YA!

 

Howdy folks,

 

I just thought I’d do a little blog about the current YA novel I’m working on. This one got put aside for a while after one rejection too many sent me into a total slump. You know that feeling, when you just ask yourself if all the fretting and frantic writing is worth it? Well, it is. You just have to make it worthwhile for you and not for anybody else. Not an agent, not a publisher, but you.

This whole writing gig began from a deep passion of mine to write stories, right? So what’s changed?

 

So the working title for this ghostly romance is Prom Spirit. It’s about a 16 year old girl called Jamie, who dies on prom night after a fight with her best friend and boyfriend, only to discover herself alone in limbo, where the world is grey and isolated, and her only companion is…a boy who died on his prom night in the 80s.

Jamie must re-visit the past, present and future alongside 80s boy Zachary, to discover how her death affected the lives of those who loved her – especially her little sister Leah, who must now grow up without her – and to find out how she’ll ever move on to the afterlife  – if there even is one.

But what about mysterious Zachary? Zachary has enjoyed solitude far too long. In limbo, he can forget his past and focus on his love of dancing without the critical eyes of an entire high school to judge him. Shady about his death, Zachary wants to live in the now and forget about the world – both of the living, and of the dead.

Now, he wants Jamie to do the same. But is it easy to just forget everything when your life has been cut short? And what secret is Zachary hiding about his death?

These prom spirits (SEE WHAT I DID THERE!) don’t know why they’ve been lumped together in limbo, but Jamie intends to find out. Ghosts always have unfinished business, right? So it’s their job, together, to discover what that unfinished business is.

Sounds easy…until love gets in the way.

 

This story incluuuuudes (but is not limited to!):

 

A small town turned creepy limbo other-world:

 

smalltown

 

A dog called Peanut with a sixth sense:

dog

 

A gaze at the stars from a quiet, unlit city rooftop all alone:

city

A  beautiful black prom dress with a green sash:

dress

A couple of small-town friends who are torn apart:

ghostworld

A magical flying moped:

moped

An adorable ghost-boy with all the personality of Duckie from Pretty in Pink (if not that sense of humour – ain’t nobody got his sense of humour!)

and a very fetching 80s prom outfit not too dissimilar to young Duckworth’s:

duckie

But with Steff’s hair.

Because we’ve all secretly got a crush on Steff even though he is horrible. No? Just me then:

steph

 

So there we have it. Just a little teaser about what I’m currently working on, and I hope you think it’s as cool as I do. Though be fair, nobody ever really thinks ANYTHING is as cool as I do, because…well, who says I’m cool?!

Now someone needs to sign me ASAP.

 

Toodles!

 

 

T