Saturday, 18 August 2012

toptobottomreviews INTERVIEW with Anna Marie May

I recently gave an interview (wow, now I sound so special!) and you can find it on the toptobottomreviews website (HERE) or below. And please excuse the typos etc. I was at the UK Kiscon when I wrote this and I was in a bit of a hurry! SORRY!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I have been writing since I was able to spell. Granted, back then I tended to ‘rewrite’ episodes of my favourite TV show because I figured they’d done it wrong. I attempted to write my first novel when I was 18 on a typewriter. It is done but before it can see the light of day, it would have to be substantially re-written.
I blame my grandmother for this since she always told me these excellent goodnight stories which she made up on the spot.

What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
My first published book was Green Lake. And it took one attempt. I am quite proud of that. Now, I love the book and the story line but I think I’d like to one day go back and re-write it. First attempts will probably always have a special place in everyone’s heart but I think we can all agree that subsequent work, hopefully, should show an improvement.
 
When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most? 
I started writing m/m romance about 6 years ago. Up until then I’d like to think I lived under a rock because I didn’t even know this existed. And, like so many others, I started out with fanfiction. And with Supernatural.

How long did it take you to get published? How many books have you written thus far?
I’ve been thinking about getting published for a very long time. I think anyone who writes dreams about it. I’ve got about five long fantasy novels sitting on my desktop which I wrote years and years ago. I’d like to have a proper holiday one where I can devote all my spare time to writing and editing. I’d like to submit those works for publishing. They are my babies since they were my first. Now, one morning I simply woke up and decided to take the plunge. I picked one of my stories at random and submitted it. I figured, I’ve been thinking about it for so long that if I didn’t get the ball rolling, it would never happen. And someone must’ve seen potential in Green Lake because it got accepted at the first try. That was about 2 years ago. 

Since then I’ve published Love for Hire (with the same publisher as Green Lake), then Betting On Love, Being Human, Over the Rainbow, Over the Moon and two more books which are coming up shortly. One is called Out of the (Werewolf) Closet which is also set in the same world as OTR and OTM (Watchtower Series) and the other one is called Darkest Hour.

I go through phases. You can see that starting from Being Human, which is a fantasy/supernatural kind of story, I entered the supernatural/fantasy phase because the Watchtower Series followed. With Darkest Hour I am starting my ‘reality’ phase again.
 
Do you write full time?
In my heart – yes, in reality – no. I got to pay rent and sadly, I cannot make it with writing. One day…a girl can dream, right?
 
Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?
It chose me. It never occurred to me to call myself a writer. It is simply something I’ve done since I was able to write. And before then, I always took existing stories, twisted them or turned real life events into my own fairy tales. You could say I’ve always lived in the clouds. It is nice up there but sometimes I have to admit it also makes life a bit hard.

On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
I don’t have a typical writing day. Strangely, I write most of my stories during my lunch break. I can type really fast. Sure, I need to devote time to edit afterwards and a good beta is irreplaceable but I can write 20 000 words in a week if I want to. My time gets ‘lost’ in editing. My biggest problem is that once I am in the thrall of a story, I need to get it out. Hence the quick writing. But then I am done. And getting in the mood to edit the already done story is what slows me down. I’ve got so many completed stories sitting on my desktop that are awaiting editing it is scary. It is something I need to work on. Otherwise nothing else will ever see the light of day! And I’d like to think that this would be a shame…
 
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
I write through. I got an idea in my head and I need to get it out. It physically hurts if someone gets in between me and my time to get it out.

When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
It depends. Most stories get started with one scene, with a scent, with a certain why the lights falls onto someone or something. The rest, just kind of happens. Once the story becomes clearer, I got an idea of the major points I want to hit but I don’t sit down and plot. To me, plotting a story destroys it. When I write, I live it. If I know in advance what happens, I get bored.

Or I wake up one morning and the whole plot is there. Over the Rainbow was such a book. I had one starting point, went to sleep and the whole universe was there. And it just keeps on giving…
So far, I have signed the contracts up until Iceland, which is book 4. Siren Song is book 5 and in theory, the conclusion to the Watchtower Story Arc. I am still editing it so that I can submit and hopefully, it will be deemed worthy as well. But in addition to those, I got two more stories set in this world and I am kind of afraid, it won’t stop there. I hope readers will also get this interested! Sometimes the voices in my head just won’t just up (yes, I hear voices…please don’t hold it against me!).

What kind of research do you do before and during a new book? 
Depends. I find fantasy, scifi extremely easy since I can make everything up. I love scifi because I can draw from my higher maths diplomas and my love of physics. I love magical settings because I can go completely wild. I use google a lot to figure out ancient lore. I love that.

I tend to avoid stories which require a lot of in depth research. The reason is that my head is always stuck up in the cloud and even though I live in our world, I am sometimes really stupid when it comes to the day to day things. I love reading books set in the military, in the police forms, any man in uniform, but I could never write them because I feel I am too stupid to actually do it right. Maybe one day this will change but right now, I have to stick to what I know. I like research when it comes to lore and creatures…not much else.
 
How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters? How do you approach development of your characters? Where do you draw the line?
There is always a bit of myself in every character. I need to feel the story. Doesn’t necessary mean that if my character is interested in sport that I am too but when I write him, I need to feel that love. I need to be in the moment, in the character’s head.
 
How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read? Do you write straight through, or do you revise as you go along?
I can complete a book in a week (20 000 words). But that doesn’t mean it is ready for anyone to read it. Editing can take forever, depending on my mood. And most of the times I write straight through. The few times I didn’t, I have found it very hard to get back int the story.
 
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
Never experienced it. Sure, some days writing flows better than others but if I can’t write, I still have ideas. Then I just read a lot or watch TV. Then, I write again. Ideas are never the problem. Time to write them is.
 
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?
I hope they have a good time. I don’t want to change the world…I just want people to come away from reading one of my books with a smile on their faces.
 
Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
I cannot spell or use punctuation…I am still desperately looking for a beta I am in harmony with (and I need one…I really do)…I need to find the patience to edit my own work.

I think I could’ve avoided a lot of rejections, if I had taken more time with the edits and if I had a good beta to actually bounce things off. Right now, I’ve got some help but I haven’t found the one person (or persons) that really spot the things I need spotted – if you know what I mean.

I can always see these things in other people’s work but I am too close to my own so I cannot do the work. It is frustrating.

Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence?
It depends. And it depends on what inspires me. Sometimes the titles comes first and the plot just magically springs up. Sometimes I got no title at all until the story is done. Every book has a life of its own.

How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
I think my sense of humour could be described as sarcastic and to some, not as obvious. I don’t mean to be funny. As a matter of fact, if you look at Green Lake or Betting On Love, I don’t think there is much humour in those books at all. However, the Watchtower Series has a lot more funny elements in it. So does Being Human.

Then again, humour is subjective. I definitely don’t think I will ever write anything which is just funny. I always need a healthy does of hurt/comfort and angst to go along with it. But if I have to put a word to it, I would call it sarcastic.
 
What is the most frequently asked Anna Marie question?
No, actually…haven’t come across any one of those…

What are you working on now?
Right now I am working on cleaning up my mess. This means editing Siren Song, which is book 5 of the Watchtower Series, and two other projects. The other two projects are both done. One requires a prequel, so I am writing the prequel now after having written the second book because, yes, this makes a lot of sense! I can’t see about this booking getting published if no one knows about the prequel! And the other book is a standalone but it is rather huge and needs some more character development. Since I’ve gone through my ‘real’ phase and my ‘magical/supernatural’ phase already, both of those books are pure scifi.
 
What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work?
Keep going. The more you write, the better you will get. And keep reading, reading and more reading.
 
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
I am still struggling with figuring out how to promote myself online. Sadly, I also don’t have the time to really get into it because I study part time and I am working. I wish I could do more. Right now, I am mostly relying on facebook, my blog and networking.

Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?
I don’t need to keep anything alive. Just looking out the window gives me ideas. As a matter of fact, sometimes I need to work very hard to shut my brain down so that I can focus on one thing alone!
 
What kind of books do you like to read?
I write what I would like to read. It is sort of the same thing. Not sure if this is a good thing or not but there you have it.

If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
Crazy. I launder many of my own issues in my writing. Some stuff I’ve written can never see the light of day because it is quite disturbed or too violent but it helps me deal with my own issues. If I didn’t have this outlet, I don’t know where I would be.
 
Where did you get the idea for the stories you write?
From everywhere. From looking out the window, from a comment, from a scent…from dreams…they are everwhere.
 
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
I love all my covers so far. I think I’ve been really lucky!

Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
Err…reading? Going to the movies? Finding a really good TV series that has a already got a few seasons aired so I can dig in?

Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
Well, the next release is Out of the (Werewolf) Close, Watchtower Series book 3. If you’re familiar with the series, then you would know that Over the Rainbow and Over the Moon deals with Aidan and James. In Over the Moon we get to meet Rick from Lantea and, in passing, he mentions and old rival. This old rival is actually Tom, who his king of nearly everything. Out of the (Werewolf) Clost will spin the world in the Watchtower Series further by taking it to a new continent. It will be the story of Tom and Rick.

In Iceland, which is book 4, we are back to Aidan and James but then, with Siren Song, which is the last book, we actually go away from the ‘main couple’ for a second time to focus on two other characters.

Out of the (Werewolf) Close is scheduled for a release in early August. (Changed her since the released date is now early September!)


Otherwise there is Darkest Hour where Leif, our ‘hero’, returns home on the requestof a good friend. She’s got plenty of problems to deal with which cause nothing but grief for Lief. The love interest, Mark, is also someone Leif has known for a long time and has a less than pleasant history with. I wouldn’t call this story a dark story but it does have a nice does of angst to go with it. Lost of buried family secrets which are unraveling, and aren’t those the best kind?

New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Just keep going…

What future projects do you have in the works?
Two scifi novels (well 3 if you count the prequel). One accidental detective novel, one totally scif/fantasy novel, the second story to Being Human, err…and a few more ideas…
Now, where do I find the time?

Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?

Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from one of more of your stories with us?
Those excerpts are a bit short but I kind of like them, so here it goes:

Being Human

 “If I’m to lead Heaven into the upcoming war, assuming they aren’t going to kill me on sight and actually decide to follow a banished archangel, then who do you think is going to do the same thing for Hell?”

“What?”

“This is threefold war, doofus,” Lucifer pointed out. “If I am leading Heaven and your dear friend, Alexander the Great, is going to lead the earthly forces, who’s left to lead Hell?”

“Uhm…”

“You didn’t think that far ahead, did you?”

“I’m still right,” Kai insisted. “You’re to lead Heaven.”
“Good luck convincing Michael to step down.”

“He already said he wouldn’t mind…”

“What?”

Truthfully, Michael hadn’t quite phrased it like that but that was what Kai had taken away from their conversation.

Buy link HERE.


Over the Rainbow

“Hello,” the sleek black cat mewed, vivid green eyes blinking at Aidan. Then she lifted her paw and started licking, nose slightly scrunched up in the eternal I am a cat and I can’t be bothered with humans, so let’s get this over with… feed me expression of cats.

“Uhm… hello?” Aidan offered weakly.

“Why are you still here?” she asked while she continued licking at her paw, occasionally biting softly to make sure her claws were clean as well.

“Where else should I be?”

The cat shrugged−shrugged!−before she sat back on her hind legs.

“In there… ” The cat’s tiny head made a gesture as if she were pointing towards the small tavern next to the road. A huge, ancient tree was looming right next to it, shrouding most of the wooden construct in shadows, but instead of looking alarming or frightening, the old tavern only managed to look more inviting with every newly rustling leaf.

“I’m not working today,” Aidan objected.

He actually liked serving tables and chatting with travellers. The conversations usually brightened his otherwise dull existence, but even he didn’t enjoy his work enough to show up willingly on his one free day. Besides, the sun was shining, only very few clouds were in the sky, and the nippy spring temperatures were actually quite tolerable. No, he honestly couldn’t imagine a good enough reason to head back to work today.

“You should,” the cat insisted, a stubborn tilt evident on her cute little feline face.

“And why is that?” Aidan couldn’t hide the curiosity and disbelief in his voice. He was after all talking to a cat. 

Granted, maybe he shouldn’t have overindulged in his ale last night, but then again, maybe he was finally living up to his namesake who had gone mad and gotten burnt at the stake. 

“Because you need to get laid; and if you’re standing out here you’ll miss your chance,” the cat continued, green eyes once more focusing on him as if she wanted to penetrate his soul.

“Laid?” Aidan’s tone held a quiver of fear because if even cats were aware he was still a virgin, then there was really no hope for him.

The cat in question gave him a long-suffering look before she got up and crossed the distance, furry head bumping his leg.

“Go,” she insisted. “You need some release. You’re way too tense…”

Aidan, the poor guy, was too stunned to do anything but obey the feline’s command.

Buy link HERE

Over The Rainbow, 4 kisses - REVIEWED

My story Over the Rainbow (book 1 in the Watchtower Series) was recently reviewed by Michele at top2bottomreviews (link to review on their website is HERE).

My story got 4 kisses and a really good review. It made me smile. Am very happy. So here it is:

Blurb:
Missing: Prophesized warlock to the King. Has anyone seen him? Please contact your nearest guard station if you do find him.

Aidan never knew he could do magic until a cat dared him to have sex. His life truly must be tragic if even felines knew he was too pathetic to find someone to share his bed with. Unfortunately for him, the cat turned out to be his familiar, leading him not only to his First Time but also to King James, who in turn refuses to let Aidan slip through his fingers again.

For there is a prophecy: James can only truly unit the lands and bring prosperity to all if he has his trusted warlock by his side. Roping Aidan into coming home with him wasn’t the happily ever after everyone had expected. Instead, it set in motion a chain of events which would lead both Aidan and James further away from home than they could have ever imagined.

Review:

I’ve never read a story by this author before, and when it was given to us for review by the publishing company and I noticed it was labeled as ‘fantasy’ I was a bit hesitant to take it on. Though I am not a fantasy fan, I found that I quite enjoyed Aidan and his sense of humor, along with the world the author created. At the start Aidan finds himself speaking to a cat, now I’m guessing this is telekinetic by the cat and Aidan actually verbalizes his answers or questions to the cat. Whichever, very creative. I have to say I liked how Aidan gives the reader bits to giggle over, such as his mother and the name she gave him, and why she gave him that name. He hates it. Here’s some of what I’m talking about with his inner thoughts. 

“Why did you have to name me after the most powerful sorcerer to ever live? The one who died?”
“Your name was whispered to me.”
Aidan could barely resist rolling his eyes because, contrary to how his mother had raised him, he still had manners, and he wasn’t going to start disrespecting the woman who had birthed him. Even if she deserved it.
“Of course,” he said sarcastically. “Was this during emptying the bottle or after smoking the weed?”

You can tell by just that bit he has one hell of a personality; he’s somewhat sarcastic, funny, and up till the beginning of his story, very sheltered. He works in a tavern, he loves his job, but when that cat, whose name is Belze tells him not to go into work one night, go get laid, he shrugs and says why not. 

Now that cat, Belze, she’s a hoot. The author gave her a personality that I can see a cat having if they voices to talk with? They’d all be like her. Turns out Belze, is more than just a cat, she’s so much more and so is his lover, James, who he finds that one night he took off work. 

Then he finds out something about himself he never thought possible, and this is where the journey of Aidan, James, and Belze begins. I don’t want to give the fun away of this story, there is so much more to it than three travelers on their way to set things to right for their country. James and Aidan are two characters who turn out to be so much more than mere people. A whole lot more. 

I do recommend this story to anyone who loves fantasy. The author has a wonderful gift of storytelling and completely brings you into her world with her characters, their true to life personalities, the setting description, all of it. I promise you’ll enjoy the ride. 

Reviewed By: Michele

Saturday, 11 August 2012

How To Get Started?

This is a blog entry for RJ Scott's anniversary blog hop! 

Congrats to RJ! 



My first book was released with dreamspinnerpress in 2010. But, how to get started? How do you cross that line from writing to submitting and then actually getting published?

First of all, I am not sure I should actually be giving any kind of advise because I mostly still feel as if I've got no clue as to what I am going. But I am not against sharing my thoughts, maybe those will actually be of use to someone else!

Before pressing the terrifying submit button, I've been thinking about submitting a MS for years. I think, you can't get into writing and not at some stage consider actually getting published. When I did, I lived in fear for about two months until I got my acceptance letter.

From what I've been told, this is rather atypical. My first book was accepted at my frist attempt and I am really, really proud of myself for that! Of course, I've encountered rejections since then but hey, who knows if I would've been able to actually get back up if I had been rejected straight away.

The thing you need to keep in mind is that writing is subjective. Think about the books you read for fun. You obviously love them, otherwise you wouldn't be reading them. But does your neighbour read them too and think the same? Your mother? Your sister or brother? Everyone likes different things and this is why it is so important to find a publisher that actually likes to publish the books you write.

A rejection also doesn't mean your book is bad. It just means it might not be a perfect fit for the publisher you have selected. This happened to me. The woman at the other end was kind enough to suggest a best selling fantasy author they publish so I could get to understand what they liked to published. This was really nice of her and I realized rather quickly why we wouldn't get along (publishing-wise). Their best selling books weren't books I actually enjoyed, so we were on a totally different plane.

Getting feedback of any kind, as long as it is constructive, helps along the learning curve. I am still a far cry away from where I hope one day to be but I can already tell that I learned a lot since 2010 (both when it comes to my own writing and how publishing works).

Now, I've got  bit sidetracked...how to get started in regards to writing? For me, it is an idea. Take my latest releases, my Watchtower Series. The series features Belze, a talking cat, who dares our hero to have sex which leads to all kinds of adventures.

It all started when I was back home with a little, black cat coming over for a visit. Here, take a look:



Isn't she cheeky? Can't you just totally see her doing something like daring a perfect stranger to have sex? Maybe I've got a naughty imagination but that's the first impression the cat gave me. The rest kind of snowballed from there and wouldn't stop (meaning 2 books in the series published, 2 more to come later this year and another one in the works).

Now, for you to get started, it doesn't have to be a cat. It could be anything. Isn't that great? The important thing is to go with the flow and not let common sense tell you differently. Your muse is your muse, even if it is a cat, a frog, your handsome neighbour or just a beautiful landscape.

And then...just write...don't stop, just let it all flow. When you're done, avoid editing to death. Sure, you need to check it to make sure it is the best it can be, but don't sit on it until it is 'perfect' because it will never reach that stage. This is you being afraid. Take some courage and then hit the famous, evil submit button. LOL.

Anyway, this is some insight into how I got started and how my mind works. How does your mind work? Feel free to share if you like...

I hope some of you dear readers will find this post helpful. Don't forget, this is a blog hop.

Since my html skills are non-existent, I'm providing you with a link to where you can find the other author links. HERE. So go hop! 

And don't forget to visist the author resource page on facebook, HERE.

And on a personal note, I am writing my dissertation and I need as many people as possible to vote in a survey on ebooks and reading habits. The survey is totally annonymous so you don't have to worry about being named or anything like that. I just need to collect enough statistical data as I can. You would do me a huge favour if you would be so kind to take a minute or two and participate. HERE.

 Now, some inspiring pic of my own:



Blog Hop

Monday, 6 August 2012

Reading Habits - survey

PLEASE (with virtual cookies) fill in my survey about reading habits. It is for my dissertation and kind of vital to me getting my degree.

It is anonymous so you don't need to worry about your name showing up anywhere. I will not know who voted at any given time. But I do need the statistics so that I can write my dissertation.

PLEASE vote!

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZQQLJK6

Later in the year, I will hold a contest as a thank you where you can win one of my books. Since this survey is anonymous, I cannot run the contest as a thank you from there, since it would defeat the purposse. I do want to thank you guys later though.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZQQLJK6