The knives spoke

Inanimate objects cannot speak, yet she heard the knives in the kitchen drawer calling for her. She lay in her bed with balled fists, begging for her mind to cling to thoughts of the beauty that lay just beyond the door if she could only reach it.

She shot up and peered out the half open window. The draft carried with it the scent of rain falling on the earth. She clung to the invisible gift of hope and raced past the sharp-edged tools that cried out of her to make use of them.

She reached the outdoors. The exertion pumped life through her veins and she continued to run until she reached the babbling brook. She submerged her hand beneath the cool, rushing water.

That broke the spell.

The Dreams

Norwegian Dream.

She had a dream, too. Of Canada. Now, I long to be close to where she was born. In a way, it will feel like she is still alive. Young and alive in Scandinavia and playing her banjo.

Goodbye, Grandma.

Her Rain

The rain always attracted her, called out to her. Its pattering against the windows awoke her from the monotony of her homework. She left the house and came to the rain, inhaling the fresh aroma no perfume could compare to.

She walked for a while, lost in thought, for the rain was what always fuelled her imagination and dreams. In the rain, she was content. She would never be alone as long as the soft trickling of water guided her.

City of Ice, An Excerpt

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I started a novel, City of Ice, about six years ago. It’s about a 28 year old suicidal princess attempting to survive in a cult ice world. The monarchy is a sham – the city is ruled by the cleric and their dark magic.

I am notorious for working on two projects at once, and my YA fantasy novel is still my main focus, but as a little reprieve, I will come back to this and start editing and adding to it.🙂 Here is how the first chapter begins.

Let me know what you think!

City of Ice, An Excerpt

Sunlight hit two large ice formations just ahead of them, making them glow. The light made Ivea nearly forget about the cold.

“So beautiful,” she breathed.

“We should turn back.”

She ignored Tercun, quickly urging her horse into a gallop over the crisp snow before he could say anything else to spoil the magic she was feeling. His mount caught up to hers and they both slowed down when they came to a large patch of ice.

“What if I can’t bring you back this time, Ivea?” he asked.

Instead of offering her alchemist friend a biting retort, Ivea watched the horizon ahead. She would do what she needed to, and he would follow her as he always did for the last twenty years. They rode ahead and reached a cavern. A human-sized hole only a few feet above ground level marked the mouth.

Ivea’s pulse quickened with that familiar blend of excitement and unease. She dismounted and approached the cavern, digging her treaded fur-trimmed boots into the solid ice. From below, Tercun gave her a gentle lift upward and she reached for the opening.

As she climbed up on the ledge, warm air collided with her face. Her lithe form slid down a sloped, icy wall; she grunted when her bottom slammed onto the cave’s floor. Her eyes adjusted to the strange and stunning surroundings, which made her quickly forget about her discomfort.

Light from a tiny opening in the ceiling hit the hot pools of rippling, steaming blue water and caused the walls to come alive with radiant designs. Ivea was sure that the sight was as magnificent and soothing as any heaven could be.

Her skin tingled as she unbuttoned her coat and let it slide down her shoulders. She could not have chosen a more fitting place to perform her most dangerous experiment. Today, she would find out for certain if there was life after death.

“Ivea, you can’t do this.”

Tercun stood right behind her. She would have jumped from surprise had it not been for his soft, even tone.

“Since when did you become so skilled at sneaking up on me?”

Tercun’s gaze travelled down her long, scarlet gown. Ivea rolled her eyes and went to the pool, admiring her dress in the reflection. She could be imprisoned for over a year if a member if the cleric caught her in such attire. She was Queen Mornia’s daughter, but that would not spare her from the wrath of a fanatic.

“Don’t you tire of always wearing white?” asked Ivea, returning her gaze to Tercun.

“I never bothered to think about it.”

“I shouldn’t be surprised,” she sighed.

Ivea twirled once, watching the bottom of her dress sway like a faraway flower in the breeze. How wonderful it was to break away from white’s monotony. White hair, white garments, white snow, and white skin was everywhere in the city with no reprieve.

“You don’t have to do this just because you want proof that a supreme being does not exist,” said Tercun.

She dipped her bare foot in the warm water.

“Yes, I do.”

“I know very well that you do not.”

Ivea could not be mad at him, even as his stern tone chased away the whimsical mood that surrounded her. She had adored his quiet, calm manner from the first moment they met as children. He was so different from her, from everyone. He was the only person that offered her a listening ear and she adored him for that. She also despised him for being so accepting of the clerics’ doctrine.

Taking in the surrealism of the strange water, her stomach fluttered. It was time.

“Ivea.”

She turned to him in annoyance, but was stunned to see how otherworldly he appeared as the blue reflection danced along his angular face. He could have married countless noble women that would have made his life a lot easier, but he never seemed to be interested in any of them. When he wasn’t busy studying new theories, he was trying to keep up with her self-harm experiments. It was almost as though he secretly enjoyed them.

She swallowed as a dull ache worked its way up from her chest, tightening her throat. She brought her gaze away from his pleading eyes and down to the water.

“Yes?” she whispered.

“I will bring you back. No matter what.”

“I know.”

Ivea cleared her throat and stood at the edge of the small pool, wondering how deep it reached into the earth.

Book Blog Tours

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It is time for me to invest in a book blog tour or two in order to get some more word out there about my ebooks. I’ve done some research on the best blog tours for your buck and so on and thought I’d share it with you in case you’re also interested in blog tours.

1.Blog Tours Are Pricey-ish

I’m an indie author still waiting to get my first cheque from Amazon, so the idea of paying someone $80 to $150 for a week’s worth of blog tours and reviews is steep.

On the other hand, sometimes an up front investment in marketing can be just the thing to boost book sales and move your ranking on Amazon to a better position. I get it.

I am not really a cheapskate, but the angsty artist chick inside of me bristled at the idea of paying so much for a service that claims to help indie writers. That said, it’s not a writer’s world and so it is what it is.

2. Most blog tours focus in YA and romance genres

My two most recent books are neither romance nor young adult, so it’s a little tougher to find a blog tour with a more alternative readership. The ones that specialize in multiple genres require more of an investment.

3. Many blog tours offer more than just blog tours

If you’re really strapped for cash, some blog tour providers offer book cover reveals and book blitzes for a fraction of the cost. I think it’s a smart idea for both parties. Some will even provide you with book reviewers if you can give them free copies to read.

I’ll likely invest in a book reveal blitz for my next publication.🙂

4. Blog tours save you a lot of time

It does induce a sigh of relief at the idea of someone taking care of my book marketing for a week or two. Despite the surprisingly high cost (In my opinion), I can’t deny that I want the opportunity to be interviewed about my book, to have other readers who have never heard of my blog read an excerpt about my book, etc.

Writers want to write first and foremost. The idea of someone taking care of business is attractive.

5. Blog tour operators like Paypal

I don’t use Paypal for my own reasons. I had a blogger reply to me with an affordable book marketing option, and without asking, she said that once she received my payment through Paypal, that would be my consent for her to run my blog tour.

It was tough for me to decline, but I find it unprofessional to not offer direct email money transfer. If someone is willing to pay for a service, they should be given more than one option.

***

That’s my take on the blog tour industry to date. I’ll keep on searching, and take my time. I’m not letting myself become jaded, and at the end of the day, I’ll probably have to splurge on the service that will give me the best results.

I’ll let you all know when my blog tour runs!🙂

***

Writers, what has your experience been with blog tours?  Do you have a blog tour service that you can recommend? Do you know of any blog tours that do not require Paypal payments? 

Cheers! 

(Image Taken From http://www.everystockphoto.com. Titled as “Malecón”)

 

 

 

How to Deal With a Negative Book Review

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So, you’ve recently published your book. After seeing some glowing reviews from satisfied readers, you check back again and notice one nasty little one star review. What do you do?

Do not reply to the review! Even if the review was left by a troll or by a reviewer who prides themselves in trashing writer’s books, do not take the bait. People who look at your reviews might not purchase your book if they see a stream of comments between you and a reviewer debating about why they should have loved your book. Stay professional.

Take a deep breath. You cannot please everyone. This is a fact of life. Many times, bad reviews are very subjective and reveal more about a reader’s tastes than about your writing. Perhaps they wanted more romance from your book, or they did not enjoy the violence. Sometimes, all it takes is one wrong word to agitate a reader enough to stop reading and leave a review. It sucks, yes, but there’s a bright side to this.

Remember all writers get bad reviews. Yes, every best seller gets one star reviews, too. There’s actually a really funny article about literary classics who received one star reviews from readers. It is funny, because it goes to show how taste differs between every individual. People from different backgrounds, education levels, and walks of life will be reading your book.

Think about the legitimacy. It might strike a reader as odd if all of your reviews are glowing five star ratings. As much as nasty reviews suck, just remember how it makes you look more legitimate as a writer. Remember, every famous author gets raked over the coals by certain readers, too. Reputable websites do not tamper with reviews and that makes your work of fiction look reputable in turn.

Use it as constructive criticism. Use that awful little one star as motivation to write your next book with, perhaps, a little more care and detail. Even if there’s nothing wrong with what you wrote, it’s interesting to many authors to discover little quirks and writing habits that don’t resonate well with people. You can even take pride in the fact that your book caters more to a niche market.

Ignore it. That’s right. It’s a little traumatic to read a one star review from a reader that clearly never connected with your book, but it is better for you to ignore it and keep writing. Focus on the good reviews and cherish the readers who connected with your characters and story.

How I Handled It

I got my first one star review a couple of days ago, and it did not bother me that much. Obviously, no one wants a bad review, but when I read that the reader was simply confused by the story, it actually made me feel sort of good. I do aim to write more for a niche market.

Of course, I would love for everyone to enjoy my book, but I know what a lot of people enjoy reading, and I think that my stories are different. My writing is like my mind. It’s quirky, dreamy, and it might be hard to understand unless you happen to be pretty philosophical yourself.

I didn’t get upset. I didn’t reply. Never, ever reply to reviews.

After a little annoyance, I laughed about it and shrugged it off. Then I thought of writing this post!🙂

By the way, out of curiosity, I took a look at other things this reader reviewed other than my book, and I saw that she rated Fast and Furious 5 with five stars. That explained everything.😉

The Suicides: On Amazon Kindle Today!

My historical novella, The Suicides, is now available in the Kindle store on Amazon! It’s set in the late 1800’s and it has a gothic flair.

Get your FREE copy on Amazon Kindle today (Dec. 7) until the end of Wednesday (Dec. 9)!

Excerpt from The Suicides, Chapter One:

“Be careful. People have been talking about your curiosity about the suicides. You must understand that they are not impressed with your book idea.”

“I do, but this is a project that I hope to finish.”

“You will discover things that you wish you hadn’t.”

I cleared my throat. “I am prepared.”

“Are you certain?”

Her expression matched that of my moral philosophy professor before he attempted to trap me during a classroom debate.

“What in the world are you attempting to convey to me?” I asked.

She shrugged and turned away. “Forgive me. Do as you wish.”

“Good evening, then, Ma’am.”

I strode down the busy street shaking my head. Sarah seemed to suggest that some sort of doom would befall everyone should I dig too deep into the lives of the suicides. The last thing that I needed was more discouragement. I had only been in Sunny Harbour for a few days and I was already causing a bit of a stir. I needed to find better ways to glean for information.

What I wanted to find most of all was the place where the suicides’ bodies were tossed. I hated going to bed at night thinking about them never being paid the respect of a proper burial. I sometimes dreamed of them being tossed into the river, sent to drift away only to be eaten away by things that appeared only in nightmares and gruesome tales. It was yet another reminder to me of life’s darkness. It hovered over people whether or not they wished to acknowledge its presence. No matter what humans did to catch a wink of light, the darkness never stayed away for long.

The Suicides Cover copy 2

When Your Characters Lead Your Story

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Character-driven stories are always the best kind of stories.

I don’t talk to my characters (I swear!), but they do control my story more than I might let on. Characters, though fictional, are fully fleshed out people living in your universe of fiction writing if writing is what you live and breathe every day. If you’re serious about your craft, I think that you should be strongly connected with all of your characters. I might take this a step further.

I confess that often, it really is my characters that decide the direction that they will go in a story. I have heard of a few writers admit to this as well. Some writers whose blogs I have read think that this level of thinking is weird/wrong and that they as writers are always fully in control of their stories. The latter type of thinking seems too mechanical for me. I prefer to think of writing as a way to tell the stories of the people who exist in one realm of my fantasy universe.

Of course I am the one writing my story, but as a writer, I am not living this life fully on my own. These characters exist in my rich inner world and they have influence over how I write them. Writing totally is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. Maybe this weirds you out. Perhaps you disagree. That’s okay, too. There are many different types of writers. This is how I work.

My characters do have minds of their own and I have changed the direction of nearly every story I have written because they disagreed with the direction that I was taking them in. Sometimes, I stress out about this disagreement and I hesitate to write their fate in a way that I originally planned not to.

Writing is supposed to be fun. Write what makes you want wake up in the wee hours of the morning just to finish that next chapter. Write what causes you to lay in bed at night thinking about your characters. Write something you’re passionate about.

If that means that you talk to your characters or if that means that you let your characters choose certain paths for themselves, then let it be.

Writers, do you ever feel a character pulling you in the opposite direction of where you want them to go? Do you feel them have a mind of their own? Do you think all of this is simply weirdness? 

(Photo Source: http://www.everystockphoto.com by Shandi-lee)

Write, Little Girl, For Ye Know Not When

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Waiting for me with a steaming tea. Warm eyes, shy smile, dark hair, strong character. Or so he said.

Holding my hand with reassuring words. Numbness melted away to hope. I submitted to trust.

We laughed, we shared, we planned. I awoke to his warmth. He borrowed my story.

He left.

He reappeared in the form of pictures, memories, nightmares. I cannot escape, but I write.

Once I saw him and his eyes flickered blue as he stared at me. I wondered if I would awaken one day to him killing me.

I write. Poison is not always physical.

Write little girl, for ye know not when death’s final grip shall drag you to her cold, final den.