Sunday, July 31, 2011

When you discover genius you need to share it!

In life, every now and then you stumble upon somebody exceptional, blessed with a gift, a talent, that needs to be shouted out to the world. I am lucky to have crossed paths with such a person, a genius, magician, someone who can take the mere smidgen of an idea that you haven't even properly formulated yourself, and turn it into cover art that is amazing. 
That person, ladies and gentlemen, is Cris Advincula. A true artist who can read your mind and create an image that is just perfect.
Cris has now designed four of my book covers. If you want to procure his services, you can contact him via message on Facebook.
And this is the amazing thing about the world today and how far technology has come. As you know I live in the wop-wops in Tanzania. My editor, Rob Stark, lives in Enfield near London in the UK. Cris, my cover designer, lives in the Philippines. My books are published in the USA. And we can achieve all of this through the internet. Mind-blowing stuff which sadly we are beginning to take for granted.
Cris, you are amazing, talented, gifted. I just wanted to shout that out to the world.

(This is the sneak preview of the cover of the new book I'm working on!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is Africa

It didn’t seem possible. There were just so many hurdles we had to jump. But tonight, as I relax in our new house, I know that all things are possible.
Our last few days in Cape Town flew by in a rush, frantic last minute goodbyes, creative packing. In the end we ran out of time and couldn’t see friends and family just one more time. We tried to avoid shopping as much as we usually do; experience has taught us that trying to stuff our purchased treasures in our limited luggage causes more stress than the treasures are actually worth. However, Siobhan still managed to go crazy in the clothing stores. This holiday will be remembered for the time spent with old friends and relatives not seen for a few years, babysitting the nephews, researching the family history, seeing some good movies, eating out a lot at great restaurants but most of all - spending time with Tony before he started his last 10 week prac block at a 5 star hotel near where he stays. It’s the same with Kerri now. You have to make the most of the time they spend with you as they pursue their own lives. I guess that’s what happens when your kids leave home. At least I still have two more years with Siobhan before she leaves the nest.

Our flight home wouldn’t have been normal if we didn’t have some drama. We arrived at the airport in time for our 6.15am flight last Wednesday, only to find out that the travel agent had cocked up Siobhan’s flight yet again. On the way here he’d accidentally booked Siobhan’s Joburg to Cape Town flight ten days later than mine. Going back, he had her on an earlier flight than mine which had already closed! The last time we had to buy her a new ticket on my flight; this time they said my flight was full. They could either get her on a business class flight in an hour’s time (which I’d have to pay for) or another flight in an hour and a half-s time. Obviously I’d have to pay for that as well. Siobhan, always a great actress, managed to look tearful and the supervisor at the check-in instructed the attendant there to just issue Siobhan with a boarding pass. We managed to get her on the full flight without paying in, and all the drama made them rush our luggage through and not notice that we were actually 20kg overweight! The rest of the flight was uneventful. They didn’t even manage to lose our luggage which was quite a miracle for us. Unfortunately, the driver didn’t turn up to fetch us from the airport. We heard the next day he arrived an hour later and by then we’d already left by taxi. The excuse given was the very stale, “This is Africa.” It really makes me mad when people say that. This isn’t Africa. I’ve lived in five different African countries. This is Tanzania. TIT. Of course, there was no power when we arrived back at night. It came back 26 hours later!

They had 5 weeks to paint the new house, but were still busy so we couldn’t start our move. It seemed like we’d never get to start the move across. Thursday they told us they’d finish Friday; Friday they said it would be Saturday; and this carried on until they eventually finished Monday night. Over the weekend we started to move in anyway, living between the two houses in utter chaos. It didn’t seem like we’d ever be able to complete the move before the new teachers arrive at the end of the week. But we have, we did; and just a few more trips from the other house and we’re done.
We’ve been promised that Tanzania’s power woes are set to get worse until 2013. Charming. So I decided to buy a generator that works this time. The last one still sits unused in the garage of the old house. Manufacturing fault, it never worked, and the fundi who tried to fix it removed the safety shield so that when Siobhan and I tried to pull the whipcord - I got whipped in the face and Siobhan got whipped across her back. Not very pretty. We found one in town that starts with a key and I bought it today. No more pulling of whipcords. But Murphy’s Law, we’ve had power all day and all night so far. It only went out between 6-7pm and we didn’t bother to start the new generator. When the power woes resume, we are ready.

With all that’s been going on there’s been no time to write. Not just no time, but too many distractions to stop me from getting into my special writing zone. Hopefully, the end of this week will be the end of the distractions. I can’t wait to start writing again. I’m working on two projects at the moment. Redesigning Yourself for the Multi-tasking Generation with Jeremy Sherr and Meet U @ 8, a novel inspired by my eldest daughter, Kerri.
My book sales this month have gone from strength to strength - mind-blowingly so. How to Say No to Sex and other Survival Tips for the Suddenly Single is now available on Kindle, iPad, Nook and Sony with the paperback edition available soon. If you know someone who is struggling to cope after a break-up, then this book will make an ideal gift for them. I received a great comment from a book club. “Cindy Vine is a phenomenal author with the ability to pull you right into her stories. She is destined to go far in the literary field!” — Greatmindsthinkaloud Bookclub on Jul 23, 2011
The news of late us been dominated by two awful events. The attacks in Norway, and the death of Amy Winehouse. I’d like to offer my condolences to all who lost loved ones in Norway. It’s so sad when someone’s political beliefs warp their sense of what is right and wrong. Amy Winehouse’s death is tragic. We all saw it coming but couldn’t stop it. Like bystanders on a platform at the station watching a train power headlong into a girl standing transfixed on the tracks. So young, only 27, the same age as some other famous musicians who died at that age. I can only imagine how devastated her family and close friends must be feeling. So talented, so full of love, such a waste. RIP Amy Winehouse.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Enter to win

Bookbuzzr has a great cover-match game you can play and stand a chance to win a book or even a kindle as a prize. I'm offering 5 copies of How to Say No to Sex and other Survival Tips for the Suddenly Single as a prize on Bookbuzzr. Click on the box to play the game and start earning points to win great prizes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Great Children's Book

  An interview with Jaime Rubio

"Sea Shells and Fish Tales! Is a project that was started with published writer/author J’aime Rubio and her two sons, Daniel & Carlos. She wanted to create a book where all three of them could incorporate art and poetry together. Illustrations were made by all three authors and writings within were a collaboration of all writers working together to create a book of poetry for children. The idea of coloring pages was a new one, thus making this book of children’s poetry stand alone as being quite unique."
                                                 Jaime Rubio on her books
When my children and I decided to write this book, it was an idea that we had talked about for a long time. In fact, the first poem “The Sea” was actually written with my youngest son Carlos when he was about five years old. It was a bedtime story that we created, imagining characters in the sea and making the words rhyme.
I loved it so much that I wrote it down and saved it. When the idea came back around about writing a book with my kids, that was the first poem I wanted to publish. My older son Daniel had written a poem and a short story about my niece Adelina, so I decided to add those to the book and also add my poem that I wrote for Charles Campbell, a dear friend and fellow writer when he was in a bad time in his life.
Once we had the writings then all we needed was illustrations. We worked diligently on the artwork together until we came up with the finished product, and the book was then made. This was a wonderful project that brought me even closer to my children, and showed me how talented and creative they are. I will cherish this book and the memories of making it for the rest of my life.
Other Books:
Dreaming Casually: Poetry of Love, Life and Loss
This was my first book. It contains a lot of poetry I have written over the past 15 years. Many of the poems are about love and heartache. After living, loving and losing in my life the poetry within this book really reflects on the journey’s I have made to this point.
Dreaming Casually II: Barrio Reflections
My second book contains poetry about growing up in the ghetto and the elements surrounding that type of life. It starts off showing the harsh realities of the ghetto, the hopes and dreams that even people in that element may have. Finally at the end of the book the poems are positive and uplifting showing that anyone can change the path they are on, and that there is no obstacle they cannot climb over. I really felt a sense of accomplishment writing this book and being able to close that chapter of my life with a feeling of completeness.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Am Interview with Martin Sharlow

Good day!
I'd like to welcome Martin Sharlow to my blog.  Martin is the author of 'Shades of Blood.'  Martin has kindly agreed to answer some very taxing questions about his book and writing in general.

"Melissa, Michael and Debbie's evening of celebration and victory ends with a chilling realization: something out there is still taking people off of the quiet streets of Hazel Dell.

While searching for answers, Melissa's other friend, Sarah, is dragged into the mess with them. and soon Melissa must divide her time between solving the mystery of the disappearances, figuring out what it means to have a vampire boyfriend, and finding a way to protect both of her friends from the new and unknown dangers of Portland's nightlife. But even if Melissa can muster the strength and resolve to try, can she really protect the people she cares about from vampires and the monsters that still lurk in Hazel Dell Park, when even Michael is keeping dangerous secrets from her?

What do Melissa's dreams mean? Who are the robed men that slink through the shadows of Hazel Dell? And just what isn't Michael telling her about vampire blood?

Melissa must discover the answers to all of these questions herself, or even her vampire protector might not be able to save her and her friends from the dangers that stalk through the shadows of Hazel Dell.

Shades of Blood is book two of Shades of Twilight. "

An Interview with Martin Sharlow
What inspired you to write this book?
The readers of the first book. I kind of left the first one semi open at the ending. My original thoughts were that this would be a multi-book series with an emphasis on developing the main character's--Melissa's--personality as each book progressed. I had originally thought about having this girl fully developed, but the idea of watching her develop and mature into a woman seemed more interesting to me than just having her pre-developed at the beginning the story.

Have you always been interested in vampires or are you just following
a current trend?
Interesting question. As to being interested in vampires, yes I have always had an interest in them. When I was five and six, my friends and I would play monster games where we would become a monster of our choice. I always chose the vampire for my monster. He just seemed so much cooler with all his different magical powers than say someone like the Frankenstein monster which was just super strong. As to my writing paranormal romances, I had no idea that the genre even existed before Twilight came out. To be honest, the first paranormal romance I ever read was written by Amanda Hocking.

What do you believe is the best thing about your book?
Do these questions actually get easier sometime soon, I hope? This is a hard one. When I started to write this series, the first thing I wanted to do with it before I even made the main character and decided how she would be, was to put it in the real world. I mean, I know a lot of books put their characters in a parallel universe that seems like a real one. It just never seemed like it was to me. So my goal was to give them the awareness that someone like you and me would have in our daily lives. For us there is no such thing as vampires. At least not beyond fantasy and fiction. I wanted that for Melissa as well. But I wanted her to be a fan of paranormal romances as well, so she would have some niche knowledge to help her along and hopefully connect with readers as well.

How did you get started as a writer?
I have a creative side to me that just needs to create a times. I've done that over the years in different ways. Right now, I'm putting all of that need into writing. I wrote a couple of short stories in the past, just for fun. Nothing serious. But a couple of summers ago, I actually started to write to make me feel better. I was in a dark point in my life, and writing seemed to give me escape and self-worth that I needed at the time. Writing helped me to get my life back on track.

Do you self-publish? What are your views on self-publishing?
Yes, I self publish. I've never been one of those people that just do everything normal. Usually I almost always had off on my own path. I'm kind of contrary. When I was younger, I learned the martial arts not by going the traditional route such as signing up for a club or class. I learned my art from people I had met over my life, as well as developing my own style. I've done that pretty much in everything I do in my life. As to self-publishing views, I think self-publishing is the wave the future. Traditional publishing is going to find it hard to compete with self-publishing in the future. More and more big names are going to realize how much more money and control they can have over their work if they just self publish. I don't see how the big publishers can compete with that. Unless of course they cheat and find a way to shut the independents down.

What advice would you give newbie writers just starting out?
Well, I think all the standard advice works here for newbie writers. The biggest thing you have to do, is believe in yourself and not listen to all the bad advice out there that's telling you to go the traditional route. Thing of it this way. Publishers want proven track records. If your work is good, you're going to sell books. Publishers are in this business to make money by selling books. Having several books do well without money backing of traditional publishers, tells those publishers that your a good investment. If your books won't do well in self-publishing these days, there won't do any better traditionally published. Self-publishing is no longer the kiss of death that it was years ago. It's faster and more reliable than querying agents and publishers, and at the same time you're making fans as well as cash on the side. It's great way to start.

When you write a book, do you start with a structured plan or just let
the words flow and let the story lead you? Basically, describe your
writing process.
I've tried structure plans as well as well as just letting the story flow. For me, I like to let it flow where it will. It's part of my creative side. When I was younger, I used to play role-playing games. Pen and paper types, I mean. I always had some story line we would be following. It was well structured and everything. But what set my adventures apart from everyone else's, was that I ad-libbed a lot into the story. I was constantly coming up with things on the spur of the moment to add to the adventure as it played out. I find that happening with my writing these days as well. Usually, I have an idea, and I build a story around it. Also just a skeleton, the people, the idea, and how should end. The rest I write on the spur the moment as I write it all down.

What marketing advice would you give new authors?
The first thing I would do is get on Amazons Kindle. Amazon has the largest market share in the world for self-publishing. You need to be on that, that should be your main goal. Amazon all by itself can support you. The other ones are good too, but unless you get lucky and find a niche audience there, your best chance is Amazon.
After that, I would say make sure your cover is eye-catching and awesome. It has to be directed at your audience. Writing paranormal romance novels, you don't want to say make a cover that would appeal to the readers of 007. You need something that catches the eyes of paranormal romance readers.
The next thing you need is an awesome blurb that grabs the reader's interest after your cover did its job. After that you need to have written an interesting book. You could've written the best book in the whole world, but that isn't going to do you any good if no one ever stops to look at it. That's the job of your cover. It catches their attention, while you're blurb hooks them into actually opening your book. Your writing in the end is what finishes the deal. Beyond that a lot of the rest of it is just luck. John Locke said that he spent tens of thousands of dollars advertising his books and failing miserably at first. So throwing money at the situation isn't the answer. Appearing on blogs help, though, and in fact I want to thank you for allowing me to visit here on your blog. I appreciate it, and I hope your readers enjoy my few comments here.

Thanks so much Martin, for taking the time to stop by and share your secrets with us!  Best of luck with 'Shades of Blood."