Monthly Archives: May 2013

Author Interview: DS Williams

NEMEMIAH-KnowledgeQuickening-FRONT jpegI recently interviewed the talented DS Williams, author of the paranormal romance series ‘The Nememiah Chronicles’ and asked her some questions about her writing and her inspiration. The Nememiah Chronicles – Knowledge Quickening, the second book in the The Nememiah Chronicles Series has recently been released. The first two books in the series are available at Amazon and Smashreads (links below).

How did you come to be a writer? Was it always something you were interested in? Or did it just ‘happen’?

I have written since I was five years old.  My mum says when I was a kid, friends would come to the door, asking me to come out and play and I would announce I couldn’t, because I was ‘writing’.  I think it was something I was always going to do, but it took a lot of years before I was brave enough to share what I was doing with other people.

Do you do much research for your novels, or do you just leave it up to your imagination?

I do LOTS of research, usually because I’ve got a plan of where I’m going and need to know more about the subject I’m writing.  Google is my best friend!  I tend to set a lot of my work overseas, so a lot of time is spent studying photos, travel and tourism websites to pad out my knowledge.  And quite often, I’ll have a medical drama in my WIP and need to learn more about the appropriate treatments.  It’s a great way of learning new things, too!

Why did you choose the self-publishing route? What’s the good and the bad about it?

I think self-publishing was always going to be the best choice in my case.  I love writing, adore spending time creating new characters and putting them into situations where they grow and evolve.  But like a lot of writers, my confidence is a very fragile shell.  I was certain the rejection that comes from mainstream publishing would dampen down my creativity completely and set me on a path of self-doubt, perhaps stopping me from doing the one thing I love most in the world.  Consequently, as self-publishing has become more and more popular, I decided it was the best choice for me.  I like the control I have over my work, and knowing it’s being published the way ‘I’ want it to be, not the way some Editor tells me it ‘has’ to be.  It’s been a rewarding journey so far, but it is extremely hard work.  The hardest part of all – the constant work to publicize my books and ensure readers know about them.  The great thing about self-publishing is the wonderful friends I’ve made amongst the other Indie authors.  They are all very supportive and we all try and help one another.

Tell us a little more about Nememiah. Where did the idea come from?

Hmmm, that’s a hard one.  Quite often my ideas come from just a ‘snippet’ of a thought.  I’ve always had a fascination with the Picts and their painted emblems on their bodies, and I love ghosts and the idea that they really exist.  Where do we go when we die?  Is that the end, or is there something else?

Add those two interests to my love of all things paranormal, and The Nememiah Chronicles were born.  I don’t plan out a whole book, I tend to write ‘by the seat of my pants’, so the story has evolved and grown as I’ve written – new ideas of where to go in the series pop into my head randomly (usually in the middle of the night!).

Which ‘creations’ have been your favourite to write (eg vampires, werewolves etc)?

I love putting my own slant on vampires.  They have appeared in so many, many books and it’s hard not to be compared to other people’s versions.  My favorite thing to do was trying to work out how my male vampires could be sexually active when they weren’t actually alive and didn’t have a blood flow – it presented quite a conundrum for a while there!  You’ll have to read the books to discover how I figured it out…

Who are some of your favourite authors?

There are so many – at the moment, my very favorite is Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series.  The Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris are also a firm favorite and I’ve read them over and over again.  My reading choices are eclectic and wide-ranging – Louisa M. Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, J.K. Rowling and I read lots and lots of indie author work on my Kindle.  I also love non-fiction, particularly true-life murders and serial killers.

What are you currently reading?

My friend Rachel Brune just self-published her first book, ‘Soft Target’, which is proving to be a great thriller.  I just wish I had more time to devote to reading!

What are you working on now?

Editing, Editing, Editing!  The third book of ‘The Nememiah Chronicle’ series is due to be released in July, so I’m busy working on that.  And keeping copious notes on the new ideas which keep popping into my head for my next books 

The first two books in the Nememiah Chronicles are available now at Amazon and Smashwords

The Nememiah Chronicles1

You can WIN a copy of The Nememiah Chronicles – Knowledge Revealed, the first book in the Nememiah Chronicles Series by entering the Rafflecopter giveaway on the blog home page!

About D S Williams:

D.S. Williams started writing at the age of five, when life was simpler and her stories really didn’t have to make sense.  When you’re five, happily ever after always ended the story and how you got there didn’t matter so much.

Older and wiser, D.S. Williams has continued to write… and write… and write.  With the support and encouragement of her husband and friends, she has finally come to the conclusion that she can’t keep hiding from the world forever and should try sharing the numerous novels which have been written over the past 40+ years.

D.S. Williams enjoys writing (obviously), reading (voraciously) and making lists (obsessively).  She shares her life with her husband of twenty six years, the gang of four and the current furry residents, Tuppence & Angus

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Why I Enter Pitching and Writing Competitions. A Lot.

A year ago I didn’t know what a pitch (or a query was). I’d written a book and needed to figure out what my next step was. Apart from to write another book and continue to develop my writing skills.

I began to follow a lot of blogs, tweets, Facebook pages etc to see what was happening in the writing world around me. I soon realised I needed to practice writing pitches and queries if I wanted to find a publisher or an agent. I needed to learn the art of pitches, queries, first five pages and more to even put myself on the radar. If I didn’t get past the pitching, I wasn’t going anywhere because no-one would read my work. And that included the indie publishing route – readers need pitches too…

Since entering the social media universe in March, I have written and honed pitches for two of my books. For each I created: Twitter length (140 characters), elevator pitch, two sentence, one paragraph and more! Some I’ve entered into competitions, some I’ve used in standard querying. Writing the pitches and queries well enough to get a request for a partial or a full feels as big a craft as writing the book. Maybe I’m at an advantage because I once worked as an advertising copywriter, and commonly had to reduce things to a few well chosen words and sentences.  I enjoy doing it! (I know most people don’t). But I’m not saying ‘hey, I’m a perfect pitcher’…no way! But something worked, as I had a little success in getting myself noticed.

Stepping way out of my comfort zone, in February this year, I entered the Romance Writers Australia ‘First Kiss’ competition. I submitted the first kiss, from my first ever completed novel (after running by my awesome CPs of course!)

I did it for anonymous, constructive criticism. Three judges score entries with comments on aspects of the entry. By entering I could get an idea of what I needed to work on and if I was doing anything right. It was a very hard thing to do…(Remember this is the person who refused to let anyone read their work until November last year).

Entering the competition feels like an age away now, and the results came out this week. I received my ranking and my score sheets – the top 6 went through and I was number 7. I posted on Facebook that I was teeth-gnashing about it, but in all honesty, I was overjoyed. Especially once I got hold of the score sheets for my first entry to an industry writing competition and saw the positives and the ‘needs work’. When I re-read the entry this week, I saw 100 things (oh, okay, maybe 20) things I’d do differently. Maybe next time I’ll make that top 6!

I think the upshot of my rambling is: By entering competitions, big or small, you get an indication of how you’re faring in an aspect of your writing, judged by people who have no connection to you. Often these competitions include other writers and readers of the genre as preliminary judges, so I think they are as valid for those wanting to indie publish too. They’re not just about discovering what the publishers want. You will fail to win, you might not even get past the first round, but you can often see the results and what the winners did differently. Which helps for next time.

I haven’t won any competitions yet, but what I’ve learnt has been reward enough. No, honestly it has. And I’ll tell you why later this week.

When The Voices Stop

I end up on my blog.

I know it’s bad when even Facebook and Twitter hold no allure.

So I decide to read instead and can’t enjoy the story for one of two reasons:

a. Constant, unintended copyediting caused by my week in the editing cave OR

b. I fall into the ‘this is great therefore my writing sucks’ trap.

Gah.

I think I burnt my brain out this week. Or possibly this could be the reason:

Image

(Click on the picture for a link to the poster – it’s from the merchandise site of the lovely people who run NaNoWriMo )

I’m sure the voices will be back soon. Undoubtedly around 3am in the morning.

Book Review: The Dumped Club

The Dumped Club

Steam-eReads-The-Dumped-Club-217x327

Author: Ally Symmons

Publisher: Steam eReads

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

Where to buy:

Steam e-reads

Amazon

Description:

Mardi Stewart thought she’d found the perfect boyfriend in Paul Baker…until she discovers he is already married.

Reeling with shock from the betrayal, Mardi finds herself in the arms of Rob Fulton, her best friend’s brother. Newly returned from England, Rob is also the victim of a sour relationship and only too keen to commiserate the folly of love with Mardi.

Embarking on a ‘friends with benefits’ affair, Rob and Mardi vow they will never be blinded by love again. But Mardi doesn’t tell Rob that despite her affirmation she still secretly holds a torch for Paul Baker. When Paul returns to her with promises of a new life together will it be Paul or Rob who becomes the next member of The Dumped Club?

Review:

I enjoyed this book, it is well-written and is an entertaining (and sexy!) story. The characters are well-developed and relatable, especially poor, unlucky-in-love Mardi. I enjoyed following her journey and the author has created a character who grows to understand more about herself, and what she wants. So often I get disappointed by books with two-dimensional heroines so this was great! I was worried she might take a step backwards into her old ways towards the end of the book, but she made choices true to her new self.

Rob made a great hero – as well as his very sexy  ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement, he had a caring and supportive side that pulled me in to him! I got really upset when I thought he might join ‘the dumped club’, which shows how well his character shines through in the writing.

The pace of the story is fantastic – I had to read it in two sittings but would’ve loved to read it in one go. The twists and turns keep the reader engrossed and guessing until the end. The minor characters were also engaging and fleshed out the book perfectly. I never felt anything was slow or redundant. The ending was nice – I like to see people get what they deserve…

I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a well-written, fun read, with believable characters. I will definitely be looking out for more of Australia author Ally Symmons books in the future.

Writing Outside My Comfort Zone

I recently started writing a new book in the ‘Soul Ties’ series and I’ve given myself a challenge. I’ve decided to write in first person. And dual POV. And present tense.

All my recent books have been 3rd person, because I’ve never felt comfortable writing 1st person. I’m not sure why, I think I got into the habit and preferred it.

I’ve been reading a lot of new adult genre books written with dual POV. At first, I wasn’t too sure, I thought I’d find it too confusing. But I enjoyed them – being able to see directly into the minds of both the hero and the heroine added something new. Maybe it’s because I like delving into more than one character’s head and here is a different way of doing it.

I’m having a lot of fun writing my hero. Jack’s a completely different age (and sex!) to me, and getting the voice right is a real challenge as a writer. Dahlia is easier, but swapping from head to head means ensuring their voices are different.

I’m not head-hopping every page, they have their own chapters that blend and that is also a challenge – not making it too jarring for the reader. Occasionally, I come across a book using dual POV in a confusing way and I hope to avoid that!

Do you prefer 1st or 3rd person?

Have you read any books in dual POV you’ve enjoyed? Or have you written in that style? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Plotting, Pantsing and Beat Sheets

Plotter or Pantser. Two new words introduced to me when I became a writer. Or told myself I was allowed to call myself a writer.

It seems to be an identifying ‘marker’ of what sort of writer you are. I find it a bit odd.

Basically, Plotter um… plots and Pantser likes to write ‘as it comes’ (I think the wearing of pants is optional.)

I’m a Pantser with a Plotter sitting on my shoulder. I like to discover my characters rather than know what they prefer for breakfast before I start. But I also like to have the major plot points worked out, rather than writing blindly. Although, I sometimes do that too, for fun when I’m toying around with new ideas.

I use the Storyist writing program (it’s equivalent to Scrivener, I’m a Mac girl). This has all kinds of wonderful. I can pin pictures, write plot points and fill them in, add character notes etc. It has huge benefits for those who want a meticulous plan before they start. I can make chapter notes to go back too and jot down physical descriptions for my characters. But as a Pantser, the best feature is the ability to “drag” and “drop” sections of my manuscript around. Or go back and easily fill in gaps by slotting in a new chapter. A lot easier than trying to do it in Word.

One of the greatest resources I’ve found was on Jami Gold’s site. Entitled “Story Planning for Pantsers Romance Beat Sheet”. And it is brilliant. Keeps me on track and lets me check I’m following the ‘3 Act Structure’, hooks, pinch points and that all important black moment. There’s other sheets on Jami Gold’s site for planning or revision. I highly recommend checking them out.

Whichever you are, if you have a finished piece with a beginning, middle and end does it matter how you got there? Because you’re going to have to edit the crap out of it Pantser, Plotter or in-between!