Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Time Stopper & The Thought Readers by Dima Zales



THE STORY:

I can stop time, but I can’t change anything.
I can access memories, but not far enough.
My name is Mira, and my life is about finding the Russian mobster who killed my family. 


MY THOUGHTS:


I really enjoyed Mira as a POV character. I felt she was strong but was able to show vulnerability at the same time and it was a credit to Zales for being able to condense such a full impact story line into so few words. Mira is so different to the heroines that usually crop up in YA or NA books and I'm so glad for it. She's tough and crude and sexually free and I love that about her. I’m a huge fan of the mind reading genre and the concept of the thought dimension was a new one that I hadn’t come across before. Zales’ writing was engaging and very easy to read and I enjoyed the inclusion of Russian phrases and words to give the novella a more authentic feel.  

THE RATING:

5/5





THE STORY:

Everyone thinks I’m a genius. 

Everyone is wrong. 


Sure, I finished Harvard at eighteen and now make crazy money at a hedge fund. But that’s not because I’m unusually smart or hard-working. 


It’s because I cheat. 


You see, I have a unique ability. I can go outside time into my own personal version of reality—the place I call “the Quiet”—where I can explore my surroundings while the rest of the world stands still.

I thought I was the only one who could do this—until I met her.

My name is Darren, and this is how I became entangled with all the Russians and learned that I’m a Reader.


MY THOUGHTS:

After reading the prequel novella, The Time Stopper, I was looking forward to continuing the journey in The Thought Readers. The Thought Readers is told in the POV of Darren rather than Mira and starts off in the middle of the poker game in much the same fashion as the novella.
                This series has a unique concept in the mind reading genre that was executed very well. I enjoyed the initial insights into the thoughts of the secondary characters, though towards the end I felt there could have been less random mind reading and more concentration on building character relationships. As Darren mentions throughout the novel, it would have been nice to not be effectively told through mind reading what a character was thinking all the time. The idea behind the mind dimension was well crafted and I took it on face value. There was enough world building to make the concept plausible without spending too much time dragging down the plot.
Despite both The Time Stopper and The Thought Readers  being told in first person, Darren had his own distinct voice which I thought was well done because in a lot of books I’ve read with dual POVs, they all  tend to sound the same. I didn’t mind Darren as a POV character, mostly because of the great writing, but  as a human being I’m not sure we could be friends. Because of his abilities everything in life seemed to come so easily for him and I found myself at times feeling like he was a bit clinical in his reactions to some of the events in the plot. I’m hoping this is a deliberate move on the part of the author and that Darren’s perspective changes as the series goes on.
If I had one issue with The Thought Readers it was the insta-lust/love. I’m not a fan of this trope in any context and was a little disappointed when I came across it, especially given that I liked Mira a lot less in this novel than in her POV novella. Overall though, I really enjoyed the first installment in this series and will look forward to reading the rest and seeing how everything develops.

THE RATING:

4/5

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Review: Transparent by Natalie Whipple


THE STORY:

High school is hard when you're invisible.

Fiona McClean hates her family, has had to move to a new school and seems to be completely invisible to the boy she likes. So far so normal, right? But Fiona really is invisible. She doesn't even know what colour her own hair is.

Born into a world where Cold War anti-radiation pills have caused genetic mutations, Fiona is forced to work for her mind-controlling mobster father as the world's most effective thief. When her father announces she must become a murdering assassin, Fiona and her telekinetic mother make a break for freedom. Running to a small Arizonian town, Fiona finds that playing at 'normal life' with a mother on the edge, a brother she can't trust, and a boy who drives her crazy is as impossible as escaping her father.


MY THOUGHTS:

This book has been described as X-Men crossed with the Godfather and though it didn’t really live up to either of those comparisons, the plot and voice were enough to keep me entertained.
        Transparent follows Fiona O’Connell, the invisible girl, as she attempts to escape from her father’s crime syndicate.  In Fiona’s world, everyone is born with some kind of mutation as a result of radiation suppressant medication tested during the second World War. Most people have small mutations that might change the pigment of their skin or their hair colour but Fiona and her mother, a telekinetic, are rare. Fiona’s father has the ability to charm everyone around him using his pheromones and his empire has been built around a power enhancing drug called Radiasure. When Fiona’s father asks her to use her invisibility to become an assassin her mother decides they need to get out.
         What follows is your typical teen high school drama with super powers involved. I have to admit, I did hope for a bit more involvement from the syndicate but they were mostly an off page threat. That wasn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the teen drama. It wasn’t full of mean girls and popularity contests which was nice and a few unique superpowers were introduced. I thought the pacing was great and the events that led to the resolution were clever. Transparent delved into the nuances of what it would be like to live completely invisible all the time and I felt it did this really well through Fiona.
        Character wise, Fiona is the kind of heroine I wish I could write even though I thought she was a bit weak willed at times. That’s the point really. Fiona starts off as a sheltered girl trying to survive on her own and towards the end she evolves into a character with agency. I would have liked her to have a bit more spunk but that’s more my personal preference than a comment on the character development. Though I do have to say that the way she was treated by her older brother Graham seemed to be treated as no big deal which I found very strange. I wished Fiona would grow a spine and just knock him out. I found the secondary characters to be okay but not necessarily memorable. They were all very “greeting card” nice and so quick to trust and accept Fiona that I was skeptical the whole way through. The romance was a bit predictable but I’m not a big sucker for romance anyway so it was fine with me.
       Overall I really enjoyed Transparent. It’s definitely a book I would recommend to those who like super powers. Just remember that it’s mutant-lite and not full on comic book superheroes.


THE RATING:

4/5

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares


THE STORY:

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.


MY THOUGHTS:

I’ve been meaning to read this book for years now ever since  I found out it’s set over the Christmas and New Year period. I finally got around to it this year and I have to say that although I enjoyed it, it wasn’t the whimsical story I had hoped it was going to be.
                The idea of falling in love through letters shared in a notebook left at a book store during Christmas is completely brilliant. I loved the inception of the notebook and how it wasn’t even Lily who started it but her brother trying to get her out of the way during the holiday season. The dual perspective of the narrative was great because we got an insight into the mindset of both characters and it was fun to see how they would interpret each other’s messages.
                What really let the story down for me were the characters themselves. Neither Dash nor Lily really grabbed me and to be honest, I didn’t feel any connection with them. I’m not sure if I just expect young adults to act a certain way but I just couldn’t get on board with the notion that a teenage boy would ever refer to himself as “persnickety.” I’m sure the authors were just trying to illustrate how intelligent and sensitive Dash was but I found him to be a little condescending and quite frankly a bit boring. I love books too but there was no need for his disinterest in just about everything to prove that he preferred his own company to that of others.
                I started off liking Lily well enough until the incident that caused her and Dash to first meet in real life and then it dawned on me that she was essentially a caricature of what a sheltered, spoiled child really is. Everyone around her protects and loves her and she’s never faced any real adversity in her life. The day after the incident she’s sorry but doesn’t take any action to make amends and she certainly doesn’t face any consequences.
                In fact, everything about this story felt easy. Even Dash’s encounters with his ex-girlfriend barely caused any friction. The characters decipher their respective clues so quickly and all the little ripples in their relationship were barely obstacles to overcome. Things were resolved rather conveniently with said characters relying on the good graces of their friends or relatives who just so happened to be celebrities or employees at all the right places.
                I didn’t go into this book with many expectations and if I just try and take it at face value it’s a good, light read. It didn’t blow me away but I didn’t hate it at the same time and if nothing else it’s put me in a Christmassy mood.

THE RATING:

3/5


Saturday, 5 December 2015

Review: Floating Upstream by Jo Vraca



THE STORY:

Julia Marconi has a simple dream—to get out of Goldburne, the stinking hot town in rural Australia, where she’s followed the rules her whole life. She dreams of adventures far away from her violent father whose only goal is to maintain his old world values in changing times. Julia longs for true love rather than the match “made” for her years ago.
Super spunk Robbie Ventura and the arrival of the Carnival add unseen complications to her life, just as she’s ready to settle in and stay out of trouble. It’s all so tantalising. Just a taste here and there won’t hurt. After all, she’s an excellent liar. So with her brother’s motto, “Don’t get caught,” stuck in her head, Julia tries to survive her senior year of high school. All she has to do is spend the last year of the 70s with her head afloat, despite the currents dragging her away from her goals.
But the town of Goldburne and her father have eyes and ears everywhere, and her parents’ plans for Julia don’t involve starting the new decade and new life in the city. A secret that spans three generations and a war could mean Julia ends up like Maria Gervase —knocked up and married by 18.


MY THOUGHTS:


I’m finding it really difficult to put into words all of the things this story made me feel. And there were so many mixed feelings that Floating Upstream managed to evoke from the whole emotional spectrum. I thought the writing was quite serene and tied in really well with the title and theme of the river and the water being the place where Julia took refuge. The plot is quite slow but I feel like this was almost a reflection of the small country town lifestyle. Vraca paints an incredibly vivid picture of the monotony but also the tranquillity of Goldburne and as the story progresses the town itself almost becomes a character of its own.
                The characters in Floating Upstream were well fleshed out and very imperfect which I found frustrating but also understood to be true to life. The story dealt with a number of social issues like violence and sexual freedom and as it was set in the 1970s, I had to keep reminding myself that the reaction I had to the behaviour of some of the characters was unreasonable for the social context of the book. I enjoyed Julia as the POV character and really felt for her trying to break free from her parent’s traditional values. In another time Julia could really have been a wild child but the expectations of her family and also the people of the town really weighed heavily on her. I liked that Julia made a lot of mistakes and she paid the dearly for some of them which doesn’t often happen in other contemporary novels. My only issue with Julia was that the only times I really felt as though she had agency was when she was going to meet Robbie for a late night encounter. Most of the rest of the time she would often think and say things but when it came down to it she didn’t really push the boundaries. This was most evident when she tried to ignore the arranged marriage her parents had set up for her and during those times when her father was violent and it almost seemed like she was having an out of body experience throughout when I would have liked for her to stick up for herself. Again though, this is probably my own perception being clouded by today’s standards.
           Most of the other characters are well fleshed out and I enjoyed reading about them, although I wasn’t a huge fan of Robbie as the love interest and couldn’t really understand his appeal. Even if he was attractive, I just couldn’t get on board with the fact that they had literally no contact for months on end and he didn’t even have the decency to write to Julia even though she practically begged him to. Even if I discount the many double standards in their relationship, they just didn’t seem to have much in common and it felt to me like Julia was just someone Robbie was using to pass the time.
                Overall, Floating Upstream was a really engaging read for me. I was invested in Julia’s struggle and loved the great description of the town and the slow paced lifestyle. If you’re looking for a great Australian read, why not give this a try?


THE RATING:

5/5

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Coming down from the NaNoWriMo High

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
       I participated in NaNoWriMo last month and was writing book 3 in my Wind Dancer series. I managed to win on day 11. One of the good things about having written the first book in a series is that you’ve already established the rules of your world and the subsequent installments can just get on with the story. I think this is what helped me write so much so quickly…until it all fell apart at approximately day 17.
       I’m a plotter and I thought I had it all worked out before I started writing but it turns out the story completely ran away with me and much of it will have to be scrapped. Which would be fine except that I am one of those writers who hates editing. I could write another 50,000 word story no problems but any kind of editing makes me want to curl up into a ball in the corner. But it has to be done and I don’t want this book to take another four years to write like the last one did.  I have so many loose ends to tie up and my biggest fear is ending it all without a satisfactory resolution.So this month and the next, despite it being the festive season, I will be doing the thing I hate most and kind of loving the process anyway. If you participated in NaNoWrimo what are your plans for your novel? How is everyone else's writing going?
 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: The Art of Trying to Avoid Reviews

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
        I published my debut novel Poison in September and I’ve been really lucky (and dropped a bunch of money!!) and have received a good number of reviews. In the beginning, I was religiously watching as the reviews came in and depending on whether the review was good or bad my mood for the day would change accordingly. Am pretty sure this is the reason why the doctor suspects I’ve got a stomach ulcer. So a few weeks ago I decided that I would just ignore the fact that I have published a book altogether. If one of my goals before I turned 32 wasn’t to publish a book I would have waited until I had more ready go as per all the advice blogs I’ve read. I’ve stopped refreshing sales pages and Googling my book. For the most part it’s super easy to avoid all contact except on Goodreads.
         I love Goodreads. It’s a great site for readers and authors and the features are awesome…except if you’re trying to avoid looking at reviews of your books. As a Goodreads author, every time I sign on using a PC (the app is terrible IMO) and click on the home page in the top right hand corner is a summary of my book stats including how many rating and reviews I’ve gotten. From there it’s a simple click to see what my overall star rating is and how many people are currently reading my book. I can’t seem to find a way to not see these things and as a result I’ve pretty much avoided Goodreads altogether for the past few weeks. Even going on there to post a review myself is fraught with tension. Stupid, I know but one of the tiny ways I’m trying to do to manage my craziness.  So if you've tried to contact me on there, I'm sorry I haven't responded, it's not that I don't like you! What about you guys? How do you manage to stay away from having an author meltdown?

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015!!!!

It’s that time of year again! I can’t believe how quickly November comes around these days. In a way I’m thankful because NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWrimo seem to be the only times of year that I actually get much writing done.
       This time around I have had some foresight and have asked for  time off work in order to concentrate on my writing. In previous years I’ve worked throughout the month and have almost killed myself trying to make the word count. I’ve gotten sick every year without fail and that has meant I always end up making a really mad dash for the finish line which is just not fun at all. Having, said that, I am a bit of a loon and given that I’ve got time off I’ve decided that instead of just shooting for the 50k word count I’m going to try and write most of the novel in November so I’ll aim for 75k instead. I don’t like my chances because I tend to get a bit bored of my worlds after a big stint of writing so I’m going to have to be very well prepared so as not to lose steam.  
       To all those who are thinking of participating in NaNoWriMo this year: GOOD LUCK! Hit me up on the website if you’d like some encouragement. My username is write_obsession. I have some blog posts prepared to go live during the month so that I don’t get too stressed about keeping up with social media. Besides that I shall see you all on the flip side. Hopefully with a full novel under my belt! Oh and in case anyone is wondering, I am writing book 3 in my Wind Dancer series!
 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Review: Beginner's Luck by Anna Lunde





THE PLOT:

Falling in love should never be this easy.

Mat Taylor is untouchable. An Australian country girl, she doesn’t date, she doesn’t fall in love and, oh yeah... she doesn’t dance after the love of her life left her standing alone on the dance floor at their Pro-Am Dance Championship debut.

Now in her last year of pre-med, Mat can’t seem to hold her life together. Her professor is on her back about her grades, her best friend can’t shake off his one night stand, and at the Cloudland ballroom, where Mat waits tables, a mysterious taxi dancer keeps ignoring her no matter how much she stalks him around the dance floor.

Her world may be falling apart, but Mat has a plan. It might be risky, crazy, and a little cheeky, but that has never stopped her before. She’s got the spunk to pull it off, if only she can let go of the one who has her heart. 

MY THOUGHTS:

For a novella, Beginner's Luck really does pack a punch. It drops you into the middle of a situation and you're left wondering where all those hours of the day went. It's been a long time since a book held my interest for so long and I'm so glad I came across Anna Lunde's books and decided to give them a chance. 
      Beginner's Luck tangles you up in Matilda (Mat) Taylor's messy life. Mat is a tomboy to a fault. In fact I would say she's a step beyond being a tomboy and she's got so much to prove to everyone that she can come across as pretty abrasive. Lunde doesn't really delve into Mat's past with any great details so you're left trying to piece together the events that led Mat to be the person she is with the convictions that she has. There are hints of a betrayal that ended her love affair with dance but no big backstory, possibly due to the intended length of the novella. It's quite obvious that Lunde has a background in dance because the intricate descriptions of the dance moves and the emotions entangled in Mat's love/hate relationship with her former passion is quite visceral. 
      As a substitute for her lost passion, Mat now attends a pre-med university course, battles a growing crush on her room-mate Bradley and tries her hardest to overcome what she feels are the drawbacks of being a girl. She no longer wears make-up, dresses or heels. She covers her hair with hats and tries to blend into the crowd as much as possible. This is made harder because for all intents and purposes, Mat is conventionally gorgeous and to all the other characters, her attempts somehow make her all the more desirable. 
      Normally, I would be tearing my hair out at such Mary-Sue behaviour but I was able to keep reading because of Lunde's snappy writing style. There are no long lengthy descriptions of mundane objects in Beginner's Luck. The dialogue and prose is short and sharp and it moves with rapid speed. There's a lot of Australian jargon in this one so be warned because even as an Aussie I had a bit of a hard time keeping up! 
     The secondary characters were well fleshed out despite the length of the novella, though it helped that part of the story was told in separate POVs. There are four in total and they are all quite distinct which is no mean feat, though there was a point when I kind of felt as though the other POVs were there to reinforce how amazing and irresistible Mat was. I enjoyed reading from the perspective of the secondary characters and getting a look into their motivations. At first I wasn't a big fan of Bradley as he was being described from Mat's POV and I couldn't understand the "heat" between then because Brad seemed like your typical meat head. But when I read his perspective he really grew on me and it became a lot clearer why he behaved the way he did. I also enjoyed Fiona's POV because as the "other woman" the reader is pretty much conditioned to dislike her from the outset but it turns out I liked her more than a little. I actually kind of liked her more than Mat.
      This brings me to the only part of the novella that I found that I was unable to connect with and this was Mat herself. The fact that I kept reading regardless is a testament to Lunde's fantastic writing. I'm a self professed lover of snarky, sarcastic, kick-butt heroines but for some reason Mat rubbed me up the wrong way. I think it was the fact that she was beautiful, she knew she was beautiful and despite all her protests that she didn't want to be treated as merely a girl, in my opinion she had an air of arrogance about her that made it hard for me to connect and feel much sympathy for her. For example, there is a moment where she is deliberately being obstructive and makes other people move around her and then she thinks it's funny. She displays all the syndromes of a "don't want him but don't want anyone else to have him" sickness when it comes to Brad and pretty much strings him along and then wonders why her love life is so complicated. The worst part for me is her treatment of Fiona. I don't enjoy girl on girl hate over a man in any situation so it was hard for me to be empathetic towards Mat when Fiona came into the picture. I just couldn't understand how Mat could have issues with being treated differently because she was a girl and then turn around and call Fiona some of the names that she did and make some of the assumptions that she did. As this is the first in the series, I'm hoping that Mat's character growth is evolving and that she'll mature as the series goes on. I didn't hate her or anything, it was just frustrating to read, but again the quality of the writing more than made up for it.
      Overall I really enjoyed reading Beginner's Luck. It's an unconventional romance with a very distinct voice that will surprise you with it's depth. I urge you to give it a go. You won't be sorry. 

MY RATING:

5/5
    

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Beta Woes

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   
         I’ve been very lucky in the past to have been able to build relationships with liked minded writers/readers who I’ve been able to rely on as my critique partners/beta readers. It’s been great to know that we enjoy similar books and this carries over to the kind of genre specific feedback I’m able to receive from them. I trust them to be honest with me and that their criticisms will be constructive.
         Sadly, my turbo charged publishing plans for the next year means that I’m going to try and publish more quickly. As a result, I’m going to spread the beta love rather than expecting my current critique partners  to give up their lives to my cause. I just dread the thought of putting myself out there again and receiving feedback that doesn’t fit with the novel I’m trying to write. As a highly impressionable and insecure writer sometimes I’ll just accept really outlandish suggestions thinking that one person’s opinion is the status quo and  I have to be careful not to get hung up on criticisms.
        Over the next month or so I’m going to be putting out feelers amongst a few groups on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook etc to see what I come up with. Fingers crossed that there are a few like minded people out there!
 

Monday, 7 September 2015

Book Blitz for Poison!


You know an author is unorganised when her book blitz is scheduled for a week after the release of her book! But it's here and it's happening! The lovely ladies at YA Bound Blog Tours are hosting my book blitz from 7 - 11 September 2015. During that period Poison will also be discounted to 0.99c so it's a great time to pick up a copy at Amazon or Smashwords.
       As an additional incentive there's also a giveaway in progress where two winners will received a $30 and $20 Amazon gift card! Enter to win below. Good luck and happy reading!! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Writing Vs. Life 2.0

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!     
      I published my debut young adult novel yesterday! Check it out HERE! While I am so super psyched and have been waiting for this moment for almost four years, I can say without a doubt that it's come at a very inconvenient time in my life. Let me insert the necessary disclaimer here and clarify that I'm not complaining (much). I've made a choice to be a writer and know full well the kind of commitments, both time-wise and lack of social life-wise, that are involved.  I'm merely observing that of all the months for everything to snowball why did it have to be now?
        You see, a week ago I was told that a job opening for a higher paid position at my work would be advertised. Applications for jobs where I work involve answering a number of selection criteria so that essentially you're writing a 1,500 word essay about your skills. The closing date for applications is tomorrow, or in my mental timeline, two days after the release of my book. Interviews will probably be held a few weeks later, otherwise known as right in the middle of my book blitz dates and the outcome will take a number of months. Probably coinciding with the edits for book two in the series.
       If by some miracle I got the job it would mean a salary increase and less financial stress. On the other hand it would mean more stress at work because my sole job would be in management and dealing with real life people is not my ideal. It would also mean much less time spent on writing due to potential mental exhaustion every day.
     So I ended up making the choice not to apply for the job. I spoke at length with my husband and we agreed that if I really want to strive to make my writing a success I should put all of my energy into building a writing career as opposed to fitting it between real life commitments. I've given myself a year to see how well it goes and then after that I will reassess. My decision will mean that in the short term we will be living lean like we have been for the past few years. But making this decision means I'm going to be focused solely on publishing more books and hopefully, in a year's time I will be able to look back without regret that I made the wrong decision not to apply for a real life job instead of chasing a dream one.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

I Finally Did It! Poison Release Day Post

It's been an extremely long time coming but Poison was finally released today! I am equal measures proud and petrified but looking forward to the journey ahead. 

Poison Synopsis:

Since the night her mother was murdered, sixteen-year-old Rory Gray has known one truth: There are no good Seeders.

In post-apocalyptic Australia, the scientists known as Seeders have built a Citadel surrounded by food-producing regions and populated with refugees from the wars and famine. To maintain their control, the Seeders poisoned the land and outlawed the saving of seeds.

It’s been six years since Rory graced the Seeders’ circus stage as the Wind Dancer and still the scars on her body haven’t healed. Even worse are the scars on her heart, left by a Seeder boy who promised to protect her.

Now the Seeders are withholding supplies from Rory’s region for perceived disobedience. Utilising the Wanderer knowledge she received from her mother, Rory must journey to the Citadel through uninhabitable terrain to plead for mercy.

However, the Citadel isn’t as Rory remembered. The chief plant geneticist is dying and rumours fly that the store of viable seed is dwindling. The Seeders are desperate to find a seed bank they believe Rory can locate, and they will stop at nothing to get it.

To defy the Seeders means death. But Rory has been close to death before--this time she’s learned the value of poison.

Recommended for fans of The Hunger Games, strong protagonists, circuses and nature!


*Pick up your copy at Smashwords / Amazon US / Amazon AU / Amazon UK / Kobo 

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Hire My Designers & Editors

This post is a shout out to the amazing people who took my words and turned them into a product that I am infinitely proud of. Below are links to the companies and individuals I used to put together my books. I did extensive research to find these gems and cannot thank them enough for all that they've done for me.


Formatter



Cover Designer



Editor


Monday, 10 August 2015

That Post Asking For Reviews!

After four years of all kinds of procrastination I am finally ready to publish what my good friend Cathy has described as my magnum opus. It’s just like me to be getting on to the dystopia bandwagon just as the wheels are falling off but I am still super excited and also super nervous.
       I’ve read many author accounts about how the writing of a novel is only half the battle and that marketing is a major hurdle. This has never been more apparent for me until now. The market is saturated with self-published novels vying for the attention of readers. Book bloggers are inundated with review requests and Amazon seems to be hyper vigilant about deleting reviews written by anyone remotely related to an author.
        Despite all these hurdles, I will push on ahead because I’ve worked too hard to give up now. To that end, I am putting out a call to all of my followers and friends to ask *cough* or beg *cough* if anyone would be interested in reading and reviewing my novel which is due to be released on Amazon and all major book retailers on 1 September 2015.
        If you’re interested please drop me a line at lc.novel@gmail.com and let me know what format your e-reader takes. At this stage I can only offer ebooks but there may be scope for print books later on. Poison's synopsis is below:

Since the night her mother was murdered, sixteen-year-old Rory Gray has known one truth: There are no good Seeders.
       In post-apocalyptic Australia, the scientists known as Seeders have built a Citadel surrounded by food-producing regions and populated with refugees from the wars and famine. To maintain their control, the Seeders poisoned the land and outlawed the saving of seeds.
       It’s been six years since Rory graced the Seeders’ circus stage as the Wind Dancer and still the scars on her body haven’t healed. Even worse are the scars on her heart, left by a Seeder boy who promised to protect her.
      Now the Seeders are withholding supplies from Rory’s region for perceived disobedience. Utilising the Wanderer knowledge she received from her mother, Rory must journey to the Citadel through uninhabitable terrain to plead for mercy.
      However, the Citadel isn’t as Rory remembered. The chief plant geneticist is dying and rumours fly that the store of viable seed is dwindling. The Seeders are desperate to find a seed bank they believe Rory can locate, and they will stop at nothing to get it.
     To defy the Seeders means death. But Rory has been close to death before--this time she’s learned the value of poison.

Recommended for fans of The Hunger Games, strong protagonists, circuses and nature!
 



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I've organised for a book blitz to take place from September 7th to September 11th so please check back and enter the giveaway!

Eternally grateful,

Lan

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Publishing Woes

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
         I’ve been busily working away the last couple of months on the final touches for my YA dystopian novel. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind time of final edits, choosing my cover and having the formatting done. Although it’s been an exciting ride I can’t help but feel the anxiety starting to build as I get closer and closer towards publication. The procrastinator and perfectionist in me really wants to delay the inevitable but in my heart I know I’ve done as much as I can or am willing to do for this novel and it’s time to release it into the world. The insecure writer in me wants to keep it as close to my chest for as long as possible so that I don’t have to deal with marketing, the publication process and the inevitable unflattering reviews. In a way I think I might have even been sabotaging myself by being super picky about the cover even though the third version of it was perfect yet I asked for so many tweaks the poor designers had to send me through multiple additional drafts.(kudos to the team at Deranged Doctor Design for putting up with me!)
                I think this is in itself a sign that I’m ready and that I’m just creating ways to stop myself from publishing. So, considering this is something I’ve been working towards for the last four years, I have decided that I need to be brave and just publish. Though it’s super scary and I’m very insecure about the novel’s reception I have decided that I am going to just close my eyes and hit publish. Oh and if anyone is interested here is the cover:




Thursday, 2 July 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: What are you writing for?

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
       I've been writing for a little over 4 years now and in the entire time I don't think I've ever sat down and written a list of the reasons why I want to write. Since I am a connoisseur of lists I thought I'd feature it this month. So here goes:

1. I write because I have imaginary friends in my head that demand to be let out once in a while

2. I write because I have stories I want to tell and hope that others will want to read.

3. I write to tell the stories that I want to read.

4. I write because the process is soothing and I can direct my energy into a positive medium

5. I write so that I have some sense of control over the lives of my characters in this turbulent world we live in.

6. I write because I can't do the things I want to people I don't like in the real world so I do it in my books.

7. Lastly, and very capitalistically, I write because some day I want to be able to say that somewhere out there someone has decided that out of all the books in the world they want to use their hard earned money to buy mine.

How about you? Why do you write?

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Science Gets In The Way of Everything



Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        Last month I didn't post because I was busy failing at NaNoWriMo (I actually won but it was such a mess of a manuscript that I don't consider it a success). This month I haven't touched my writing but have been "researching" the superhero genre by watching the first season of The Flash and any other superhero show I can get my hands on. It's strange but for some reason my favourite of  has been Daredevil which is the least sci-fi one of the bunch. That got me thinking and I've since figured out that it's because Daredevil has the least scientific mumbo jumbo in it. Unlike The Flash which tries to explain all the super powers in a scientific way and then has someone spontaneously replicate themselves hundreds of times in a matter of seconds. Even I know that's not possible no matter what freak storm you've been subjected to.
        Daredevil is blind with heightened senses but that's not the centre of the story. There are all sorts of other plot lines happening that have nothing to do with his powers. It got me thinking about the number of writers and creative consultants it takes to make a TV show. Even then they have to bring in technical experts and still there are massive scientific plot holes. What hope then do I as a lone writer with no scientific background have of keeping my facts straight? Zip! Sure I can do the research but sometimes even the stuff I read on Wikipedia makes no sense to me. Why does science have to use so many words with the letters y and z in them? 
       Thankfully, I have since come to the conclusion that I'm going to take a leaf out of Daredevil and Batman's book. My characters will still have super powers bases on scientific facts but their stories will be about their growth as characters, their interactions with others and maybe once in a while the cool things they can do. Hopefully with all of the action happening even if y readers cotton on that the science makes no sense they might care less!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Camp NaNoWriMo and Life

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
         This month’s entry is going to be a bit of a ramble because I’ve got so much going on in my head that it’s impossible to separate it all. I’ve signed up once again to participate in camp NaNoWriMo this month and I’ve never been so unprepared. I haven’t written very much since November when I did actual NaNo and even plotting the novella I want to write has been like pulling teeth.
      I would love to blame it on my busy personal and social life but I don’t think that’s going to fly. There have been many days and weekends when I could have been writing but instead I chose to garden or watch reruns of Breaking Bad and X-Files.  I’m afraid that in the months between the last NaNo session I’ve lost the ability to simply write without editing every single word or sentence or worry about whether I’ve hinted enough at the underlying plot or themes.
     I would love to blame it on my work because that area has been quite stressful these past few months but again everything I do is of my own making and there have been days when it’s been really slow and I chose to take long lunches and talk to friends rather than work on my writing.
      Meanwhile I keep getting notifications from Amazon about new books published by other indie authors. It’s as though the universe is attempting to motivate me but I’m just not getting the message. To make matters worse April 1st clocks over in Australia a day earlier than my US counterparts so I’m going to be writing solo for the better part of a day (thankfully that may now be solved through finding Aussie camp cabin mates!).
      The upside of all of the above is that I often feel like this before NaNo and then when the days begin my obsessiveness tends to take over and forces me to write regardless of everything else. Fingers crossed that it'll do that again this time.  


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Self Sabotage

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      I started writing my current WIP in 2010. In all that time I've been dreaming about the day that I would publish my first novel. Though it's been a long road that day is drawing closer and my WIP is getting more polished. It's been through countless beta reads, two professional editors and I've made many enquiries about cover art and formatting. My goal of publishing has never been more achievable and if I'm honest I could probably publish any day now and yet I find myself procrastinating.
      My final edits from my proof reader were returned to me in early November. At the time I was in the throes of NaNoWriMo so I put editing aside in order to win NaNo. Then December came and I got busy with the holiday season. I had a break from work for most of January and I convinced myself that before I could publish my WIP I needed to have the second book in the series fully drafted. So that's what I've been working on. Very slowly I might add. I finally dawned on me last night that I was unconsciously putting off taking steps to publish my novel and I'm beginning to see that I've sabotaging myself on purpose.
     Though there are many reasons for this and I'm sure others do it too, I think my reluctance comes from a place of high expectation that I'm afraid I won't be able to meet. I know my chances of selling millions of books is almost nil and that very few authors are incredibly successful. I've had these things drilled into me by many a self publishing blog and my logical brain has accepted this. Sadly, there is still a tiny part of me that is holding out hope for a fantastic debut and this little part is too scared to publish in case it is disappointed. I think when the time comes I will have someone else push the button.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group: The Age of Insecurities

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        Even though I keep telling myself that I won't trawl through Goodreads and read one star reviews of young adult books that I love and some that I loathe, I still find myself doing it a lot. I have to feed my insecurities so I can continue to be part of this group right??
        Aside from the usual contentious tropes like insta-love and love triangles that always causes heated debate, one of the most common complaints I've read is that the reader couldn't connect with the hero/heroine. Often the heroines in question are the self-confident ones who know they are pretty and don't have complete social anxiety issues. From my own research (otherwise known as Goodreads/Amazon stalking) it feels like most readers in the young adult bracket don't really care for the self assured  heroine. They prefer the mousy, shy girls with a myriad of insecurities who is gorgeous but can't know that she's gorgeous except by way of every boy in the book throwing himself at her. Even if both types of heroine were to act the same way in a story the less confident girl seems to garner more sympathy.
        This speaks to a whole other topic of debate about portrayal of women in books and film that I don't have time to touch on but it worries me because my heroines don't fit into the demure package.  Partly because the softly spoken and written girl wouldn't logically survive in the dystopian societies I make up in my head. They wouldn't even survive in some of my urban fantasies unless they did so on the pity of others. Mostly though, I just don't like writing those kinds of girls. It's not that I don't have insecurities of my own (clearly!), it's just that I find them so bland and author inserty. I can only hope that there are lots of other readers out there who feel the same way.
       
Intro to me: This month IWSG have asked us to introduce ourselves so here goes. My name is Lan and I'm a writer from all the way down in Melbourne, Australia. I mostly try and stick to the YA dystopian and urban fantasy genre and hope to publish something this year!

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