Sunday, 26 August 2012

Chasing Pavements Amazon Kindle Release

It's been one of those weeks where everything, and I mean everything, has been happening.

If you read my update on August 23 on my website, you'll know that this blog has been getting a lot of attention these past couple of weeks, both from myself in promoting it and posting regular updates, and from others, with readers commenting how my writing tips are helpful and insightful.  A couple of readers have gone on to say they were inspired by my journey and that I helped their writing "immensely".  If you follow me on Twitter you would have seen me retweeting and favouriting these lovely tweets.  It means a lot, so thank you, and I'm glad to help in some way!

On August 24, Chasing Pavements finally became available on Kobo, the last of the major retailers (apart from Amazon) that Smashwords was yet to distribute to.

And, today's big news is... drum-roll please...  Chasing Pavements is now at Amazon's Kindle Store.  Hooray!  Very exciting.  For some reason it doesn't feel like you've published an e-book until it's at the Kindle Store!  


This is the link to my Author page on Amazon: amazon.com/author/nehayazmin 

And the book pages are as follows: 

Amazon Kindle (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chasing-Pavements-ebook/dp/B00924JXGW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345966643&sr=8-1

Amazon Kindle (US):http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Pavements-ebook/dp/B00924JXGW/ref=la_B009277U8C_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345966086&

It's also available at Amazon's international sites, so visit the one you use and search the Kindle Store.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tip for Writers: Edit, Edit, Edit


Editing usually takes longer than the time it takes to write the first draft of your story. I started writing my recently published contemporary romance novel Chasing Pavements on August 1, 2010 and completed the first draft at the end of December 2010. After several rounds of editing, I self-published it as an e-book on June 30, 2012 via Smashwords.

At first though, I had no idea how to edit. I didn’t study English at college or university, nor had I taken any writing classes, so I didn’t know where to start. Google didn’t return many helpful sites and in the end, I utilized various techniques that I stumbled upon myself.  

Firstly, I just read through the novel on my laptop, chopping and changing as I went along.  I’d gone through Chasing Pavements at least three times in this manner, before I printed it out because I didn’t feel like I was improving the manuscript, just tidying it up a little. 

To save paper/trees, I reduced the font size to the smallest I could read, single-spaced it (but with a decent margin for notes) cramming as much text on the page as possible. That was how I discovered that with around 7-8 paragraphs on one page, you can:
  • See which sections, paragraphs, or sentences are best grouped together, i.e. by theme, issue, argument.  [Use arrows to denote what should be moved where.]
  • Whether too many paragraphs start in roughly the same way, or worse, with the same few words every time.  [Avoid starting paragraphs with the name of a character, or ‘I’ if first-person POV.  Write brief notes in the margins on how you can mix it up.]
  • Think about varying the way each paragraph approaches the point it’s trying to make.  [Why not start some paragraphs by describing the outcome or the end of an event, before going back and explaining the beginning?  It need not always be in chronological order.]
  • Recognise passages that are best removed completely or condensed as they slow down the pace of the chapter.
  • Highlight which sections need to be extended or elaborated upon.  [Add words where they’re needed, a sentence or two which bring together the whole paragraph or finish one off perfectly.]
  • Make it easier to question what you have written.  [And you should always question what you have written.  Pretend you're a critic - what's the toughest question you'd ask the author?  If you were reading it for the first time, would it all make sense?  Justifying these queries will give you ideas on how to further improve your work.]
I spent around 2 hours a day after work, going through my printout, leaving notes, arrows, strikethroughs, extra sentences etc. with a red pen.  Any more than 2 hours and my concentration would dip, attention drift.  After a whole week of this, regardless of how much of the manuscript I covered, I went back to the start and repeated the process on the same hard copy, this time with a blue pen. 

With all the spelling and grammatical errors pinpointed already, and my brain mulling over the work I’d done in the last week (both consciously and unconsciously), I was able to find yet more changes that needed to be made.  Solutions to problems I couldn’t find the first time around.

At the end of this second week came the part I found boring – transferring those changes onto the digital version.  It was a quick, simple task, but not as fun as what I’d done up until then.  That’s why it was a good idea to do this in batches.  Once I’d gone through the whole manuscript and made the changes to the file on my laptop, I was ready to... print it out again.  Yes, I went over it again in the same way and of course there was still plenty I could do to improve it.  I edited it, on-and-off, up until the point I published it.

In my opinion though, there is such a thing as “over-editing”.  Sometimes, multiple re-workings leads to editing out the initial magic that was there.  You read the words so many times that you even forget what was great, original about a certain chapter in the first place.  The writing can get a little robotic.  Therefore, whilst editing, always bear in mind that you want to improve your work, not lose its best qualities.

Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, click the image below to learn more about it:
 


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 


Book Details

Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon USAmazon UK|   iBooks US & UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords



PB1 Book Details

Length: 29,000 words
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Vampire Romance / Paranormal Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Science Fiction & Fantasy

Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things vampires, slayers and witches!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Tip for Writers: Let Your Characters Dream

One interesting way of adding another dimension to your stories is to include dream sequences.  Let your characters dream, or have nightmares.  Not only is it fun for you as a writer to experiment with different styles and imagery, apply a fantasy element to the story if it's contemporary fiction, but your readers might enjoy the abstract representation of your characters’ unconscious desires or fears.  You can hint at underlying issues, secrets that will be revealed in time, and show-off another side to your writing ability.

Describe one or two dreams/nightmares as you would a normal scene in the book, but don’t be tempted to mirror real-life events – dreams are rarely fluid.  In fact, they're usually very chaotic, what with the rapid and sudden shifts in the backgrounds, the disjointedness of the settings and the lack of cohesion between the diverse stimuli your brain throws in for good measure. 

Through techniques such as association (commonly used by Freud in his dream interpretation), as well as cultural perception of what certain entities symbolize (e.g. many Muslims believe that dreaming about snakes means you have an enemy), we try to decipher the meaning or message behind these strange images that captivate us in our sleep.  Sometimes our analyses make sense, you might even deem them prophetic at a later date, and other times you come up with blanks.

But for the purposes of your book, you can actually decide what message you want the dream to send to the reader and then construct a passage that relays that in a clever, creative and abstract way.  Allow no more than a page to each dream though – you don’t want to lose the reader’s interest or attention by dwelling on these for too long.

Only my readers can tell me whether the dream sequences in Chasing Pavements added to the reading experience, but these were some of my favourite parts of the book.  We learn about Jamie's true feelings through his songs (he's a singer/songwriter), and Mukti’s dreams give us an insight into her unconscious.  It was really fun writing these sections and I hope they weren't too cryptic.  If executed well, and inserted in the right sections of the novel, I think dream sequences can act as a good storytelling mechanism.

Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, click the image below to learn more about it:
 


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 


Book Details

Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon USAmazon UK|   iBooks US & UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords



PB1 Book Details

Length: 29,000 words
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Vampire Romance / Paranormal Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Science Fiction & Fantasy

Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things vampires, slayers and witches!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Book Review - Trylle Trilogy

Today's book review was written by me

Switched (Trylle Trilogy #1)
Book: Trylle Trilogy (Switched, Torn, and Ascend)
Author: Amanda Hocking
Reviewer: Neha Yazmin

Rating: 5 stars
Available via: All major e-book retailers, and also in print

Wendy (17) was always different, but she never thought she was more than human. Thrown into a world unlike any she’s ever imagined, Wendy must uncover her heritage, tap into her powers, and fight those who wish to use her gifts for evil. Enter a world of magic, mystery, and romance in Amanda Hocking’s bestselling series that takes you to Trylle, a world as beautiful as it is deadly. Torn between worlds, Wendy must decide who she really is and what she wants, between love and duty, in a struggle for her very survival.




Normally, I refrain from reading books when I'm writing my own stories, but having finally bought a Kindle (I vowed to buy one as soon as my bookshelf was fully stacked and it was fully stacked in time for my birthday!) I just had to download Amanda Hocking's Trylle Trilogy.  I planned for these to be the first books I buy for my Kindle because they helped the indie e-book market to really take off and it felt like a ritual I had to fulfil. 

I was not disappointed.  The books, Switched, Torn and Ascend, are addictive and difficult to put down.  I finished all three in five days and enjoyed them immensely!  These are the first books in ages that I want to re-read, and if I had the time, I would have happily re-started them as soon as I finished.  I haven't done that sort of thing since The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, and before that The Da Vinci Code (also by Dan Brown) and of course, my beloved Twilight saga.

Amanda Hocking is a great storyteller and the writing is clean and crisp.  The lead character, Wendy, is typical of the YA paranormal romance genre but she grows and develops and is easy to like and care about.  Her two love interests, Finn and Loki, are equally interesting, and though I had a soft spot for Loki from the point he was introduced (the second book, Torn), I don't think I would have been dissatisfied with whichever boy Wendy chose in the end.

Torn (Trylle Trilogy #2) Ascend (Trylle Trilogy #3)

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Tip for Writers: Timeline

If you’re writing a book that spans a significant period of time, or one that packs a lot of action into a few weeks, keeping track of what happens when is very important. Not just while you’re writing, but when you come to editing your manuscript and decide you want to switch things around a little. You don’t want to get your dates muddled up. Continuity is important. Readers pick up on it, so stay on top of this.

Most of my projects end up spanning at least a year. Don’t ask me why. I don’t plan it, but that’s what happens. My debut novel Chasing Pavements is one example. When I started it, I didn’t intend for it to cover a 12-month period, but I kept a record of all the events that took place. I created a Calendar for the novel on Microsoft Excel for the time period covered in the story.

So, for a book that starts in January 2012 and ends in December 2012, create 7 x 5 tables for each calendar month, with Monday-Sunday in the 7 cells across the row. Use the clock on the computer to fill in the dates. Then, highlight the days/dates where all the action takes place.  Add a comment (using the Add Comment/New Comment feature under the Insert/Review section of Excel) to the relevant day/date with information such as:
  • Chapter number/title
  • Event (e.g. main characters first meet)
  • Birthdays/anniversaries/important milestones
Leave notes for events not covered in the story but have taken place during the time (e.g. for back-stories, events referred to only briefly etc.). The aim is to map out the whole novel on the event-level, and you can do this before, during, and after you've written the first draft.  

If you need to chop and change or re-jig the order of events later, you can update the spreadsheet and refer back to it when you’re writing and editing. This way, you don't confuse yourself or the reader.

There might be some clever software out there that create calendars like these, so you can experiment with those if you like, but I’m comfortable with Excel and I’ve never looked back.

Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, click the image below to learn more about it:
 


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 


Book Details

Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon USAmazon UK|   iBooks US & UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords



PB1 Book Details

Length: 29,000 words
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Vampire Romance / Paranormal Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Science Fiction & Fantasy

Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things vampires, slayers and witches!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Book Feature: The Last Note by Zaida Alfaro

The Last Note ~ A Murder Mystery Novel by Zaida Alfaro

The Last Note is a novel which not only engulfs the reader in the life of the young, witty, and lovable main character, Vy, but is also meant to provide its fans with the first of a series of novels based entirely on the murder and music genre. This 70,000+ word novel will appeal not only to those readers who love a good murder mystery coupled with humor, but ones who wish to become familiar with the world of a musical talent trying her best to come up through the ranks of performing in bars to superstardom. In this first novel, Vy introduces the reader to her less-than-glamorous life as a struggling singer at the Steel Horse Bar. The Steel Horse Bar is a representation of the typical local bar where everyone knows each other, including their dirty little secrets. The regular patrons and staff bring to life the scene of a murder shrouded in deceit and mayhem. 


Vy is a young, up and coming lead singer for one of Miami’s top cover bands. On what was supposed to be a typical gig night, the bar’s owner, Ricky Callister, is killed in his office at the Steel Horse Bar. As the evening progresses, she is introduced to the sexy Detective Houston, who along with his sidekick, Detective Gunbar, is in charge of the investigation. That does not explain however, why it is that Detective Gunbar was at the Steel Horse Bar before the murder even transpired. As the novel progresses, Vy and her string of friends, including her sister Alexia, help to solve the mystery and the ensuing murder(s) and at that same time, Vy is trying to unwind what her feelings are for the enticing Detective Houston.  Why would a singer want to solve a murder you ask? The answer lies in the mysterious notes which Vy is receiving, from an unknown person who is anything but a fan, informing her that she better be careful or she will be the next corpse to be investigated.

~ Message from the Author ~
 
The novel’s main backdrop, the amazing city of Miami, Florida, is beloved and well known to me. It is rich in Cuban heritage and I tried to bring that out in the novel by way of threading through the quirkiness of characters firmly based in that ethnicity and language. Miami is also where I received my Bachelor’s in English with an emphasis in Shakespearean literature. Like the novel’s main character, I am the lead singer to a self-proclaimed leading Miami cover band, PUSH.

~ Where To Buy ~

The Last Note can be pre-ordered from the author's website: http://www.zaidamusic.com/
Connect with Zaida online via Twitter @zaidamusic or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pushbandrocks


Please see the About tab if you are interested in featuring your book here, writing a guest post or submitting a book review.

The Story Behind Chasing Pavements

As it’s the two-year anniversary of me first starting my recently published book Chasing Pavements, I feel like sharing the story behind how it came about. This contemporary romance novel sprang to life from a bizarre vision I woke up with on the morning of August 1, 2010.  I opened my eyes with Jamie in my head.  He had just finished performing a gig in a dimly lit, smoky bar and he looked very moody, reluctant.  I could see him so clearly - his hair, his eyes, his demeanour.  As though he was a very good friend, I just knew him - his pain, his apathy, his past, his present. What I didn’t know was his future.  But I wanted to find out.  

I spent the rest of the day thinking about Jamie’s life, his family, and music, formulated a vague plan in my head for the plot and started writing.  I hadn’t written anything for almost a whole year but the narrative flowed so naturally and instinctively from the very beginning. I had no idea whether it was going to be a short story or a novel, all I knew was that I was writing it because I felt like I just had to. Jamie was simply too intriguing to ignore.

The female character Mukti, a young research analyst in London, was supposed to be the opposite of Jamie but she presented herself differently as I started to see the world from her perspective.  She ended up being a bigger mystery than Jamie, revealing her secrets slowly and often changing the direction of the story from where I thought it was heading.  That process was very exciting though. 

Having spent every free evening and weekend writing as much as I could, I completed the first rough draft by the end of the year, and started the laborious process of editing in 2011.  I hadn’t planned for it to be the 168,000-word novel it became, nor had I any plans to try and publish it.  I had only written it because I couldn’t get Jamie and Mukti out of my head, couldn’t stop their story from playing in my mind.  I edited it because I'm a perfectionist and knew that it would only improve if I went over it again.  When I mentioned it to a friend, of course I was persuaded to let her read it.  She said she loved it and encouraged me to try and publish it.

Getting an agent was the first step, so I submitted to six firms in summer 2011. All six rejected it (well, two of them didn’t even reply and another said she couldn't even read the query letter as her list was full!) and I wasn’t expecting anything else.  I knew I hadn’t received enough rejections to make me think that I couldn’t write at all, so instead of submitting to more agents, I decided to further edit and improve the manuscript.  I also started writing something new shortly after I finished Chasing Pavements, so I wanted to focus on that as well. 

During this time, a couple of my friends suggested self-publishing e-books.  This seemed like a great way of testing the market, and if Chasing Pavements was received well, then it would look great when I wrote query letters to agents and publishers.  So at the end of June 2012, I published it via Smashwords and it is now available at the Amazon Kindle Store, Apple iBookStore, Barnes & Noble Nook Store, Diesel eBookStore, and Sony Reader Store.

Submitting to literary agents seems like a long way away now, as I’m busy trying to get the word out about my book.  Juggling a full-time job, my website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, isn’t easy, but it’s a challenge I am enjoying.  I'm also learning so much about marketing and promotions.  If I keep at it, I’m sure I will see the rewards of my labour.

Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, click the image below to learn more about it:
 


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 


Book Details

Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon USAmazon UK|   iBooks US & UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords



PB1 Book Details

Length: 29,000 words
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Vampire Romance / Paranormal Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Science Fiction & Fantasy

Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things vampires, slayers and witches!