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Welcome to my ongoing series Writers’ Favourite Writing Quotes and this week I have a fabulous contribution from Adult Fantasy author S.Daniels whose first novel, Magic Hour, I won in an Instagram competition and featured in one of my poetry posts too! It’s full of beautiful mermaid mystery and romance! So thank you for joining us and hope you find some inspiration here to spur you on your own writing or creative journey.

My favourite quote and how it inspired me:

I have several writing quotes that I like, but one of my favorites is by Steven King.

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

You can have the struggles in your mind, like can I or can’t I write a book? Who am I to write a book? You might assume people will tell you that you can’t do it, or nobody will like it, because people have a way of being negative. But, like this quote says, with bravery you can do it.

How the quote got me into writing, helped develop my writing style or attitude

This quote changed my attitude about why I was writing.  When I wrote  my first book I had no plans of publishing.  I wrote the book to give to my husband as a gift.  I don’t know if I was unsure of the book or myself, but with encouragement from my family, I decided to self-publish.  I was anxious about what people would say about the book, but bravery won out and now I am having my second book professionally edited and I can’t wait to release it to the world.  So in closing, don’t doubt, be brave and do what makes your heart happy.

What I am writing at the moment/working on

I am currently editing a dark fantasy novel about warrior mermaid clans on another planet, Mermaid Games.  I also have the sequel to Magic Hour a Mermaid’s Tale written and waiting to be edited.

If you would like to connect with S.Daniels, here are her Social Media Links:

https://www.sdanielsbooks.com/

https://twitter.com/author_sdaniels

https://www.instagram.com/author_sdaniels/

When I first joined Twitter one of my first ever followers was Amy; I was attracted to her warm, friendly personality and as time went on we seemed to click on a level more than that relating to our writing, so to say we have been on this writer’s path together from the start is true. I have loved the way Amy’s passion for writing and her story Life Happens on the Stairs has exploded into the publishing world with her fabulous Breakthrough Novel Award 2018…truly deserved and I’m so proud to give this A Cup of Conversation interview with her. I’m sure you’ll love her just as much as I do!

 

1. When did you start writing creatively?

I wrote a lot in high school, short stories and some poetry. When I went to college, English 101 was a creative writing class and I loved it. My professor was quite taken with my work, but then I set down my pen for many years. I’ve always journaled, but in 2009 I read a popular YA series, and the spark flickered inside of me again. It wasn’t until 2013 that I sat down with the determination to get a full novel written. That’s when Life Happens on the Stairs was born.

2. How has your love of painting and art author influenced your writing and writing style?

Ah, the arts, dear to my heart. I was determined to prove to myself I could draw/paint. I worked on the craft for many years as I stayed at home with my kids. I guess that determination spilled over into writing, my first love. Art History made a huge impact on me and I love to find the “drama” behind the scenes of artwork and creators. I definitely found ways to incorporate that into my writing. This is a fun fact about LHOTS… There’s a scene where Elsie and Tyler are talking about their love of art and history. Elsie’s a fine artist and Tyler’s a history buff. He talks about seeing a painting when he was a kid by Peter Rothermel. It’s a historical rendition of Patrick Henry’s speech, Give me liberty or give me death. I used this because my brother’s name is Patrick Henry Rothermel. I stumbled across this during research and found it fascinating that not only a Rothermel painted it, but the names made up my brother’s name! So much fun!!

3. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

The last book I read was Being Indie by Eeva Lancaster. I wish I’d read it sooner. She has invaluable advice for writers concerning the publishing business. I highly recommend it to all writers looking to publish. She breaks down the industry, dos and don’ts, and puts out the warning to writers about the publishing sharks, preying on peoples work.

4. tell us a little about your debut release Life happens On The Stairs.

LHOTS is a story of a young lady all jumbled up with fear and worry. She’s devastated that her dad is terminally ill, as she tries to help her mom make ends meet, cleaning houses for the wealthy. Elsie has to find her inner strength to endure all the pain she’s facing. Then, she meets Tyler. The love story balances the emotional rollercoaster of the heartache the family is enduring. Even though this is a young adult novel, many of my readers are moms who relate to the family aspect. LHOTS truly is a story about family when you get to the heart of it.

5. Are any of the characters in your debut novel based on yourself?

I suppose on some levels, they all do. Elsie has aspects of me, especially her emotions—I’m a very emotional lady! To be honest, I asked myself when I started writing Tyler, if I was a guy, what kind of guy would I want to be? So, Tyler even has pieces of me, such as his empathy and compassion.

6. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

This is a tough one, I love them all! Even my antagonists. I guess if I had to choose, it’s Tyler. I love Tyler! He’s a true gentleman. I want his example to show young ladies that the way he treats Elsie is the way they deserve to be treated and to accept nothing less. He’s not perfect, of course, no one is, but our daughters need examples of what a true gentleman looks like.

7. How did you come about entering the competition you won recently and how has it helped you as an author?

The Breakthrough Novel Awards changed everything for me. I have a strong network of writer friends on Twitter, and someone along the way retweeted the contest information. It was a minimal fee, so I took a chance. Around the same time, I’d signed with an independent publisher. It wasn’t a bad deal, but as time moved on, I knew they weren’t invested in the story, just sales. In June, I received an email I’d won the BNA! From there, I chose to back out of the contract and let my publicist take the lead in self-publishing LHOTS. Eeva Lancaster and The Book Khaleesi have made my dreams come true! From helping me create a beautiful website, promotions that make the book shine, and the gorgeous cover. And most of all, Eeva edited the book. That was vital to me, something I wasn’t going to get from the small publisher. I wanted someone to work with that was invested in the story as much as I am, and winning the award gave me that opportunity.

8. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy? Why?

The query process. It’s frustrating to get rejected over and over. I’m stronger than I used to be as far as the rejections, but it seems impossible to get past the slush pile.

9. What is your process for ensuring your books are ready for release?

Edit the edits, reread, and edit those edits! It can feel like it will never end. After going through the release, I understand the process better, but I didn’t really have a plan to begin with. This is my debut, so I’ve learned a lot!

10. What three pieces of advice would you give a new writer?

Don’t give up. This is a journey, certainly not a race. Don’t rush into a contract. There are many vanity publishers out there and all they want is your hard earned money. I’m so grateful for the BNA contest, it really saved me a lot of heartache. When you’re an unknown author, you don’t have readers and your story will get lost in the sea of novels. Be patient and keep trying. If you self-publish, be sure you look professional. Know your limitations and hire a professional to help you. It pays off in the end.

       11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

I’m a pantser! I like to get a rough idea of the storyline in my mind, maybe outline a little, but what I love most about writing is not knowing what the characters are going to do. I will always be fascinated by the process. As the character develops, I find they do things I never would’ve expected. Sounds crazy, but as I’m writing, I’ll try to make them do something and it’s like they’re screaming, “No! I refused to go there! I’m going this direction!” I love it when surprises like that happen.

     12. What’s on your current to-do-list?

I have another book that needs significant work, and several more story ideas that I need to get written. I’m promoting Life Happens on the Stairs as much as I can, as well.

Thank you Amy for sharing your writer’s life and I wish you all the success in all the world with your new book! Thank you too, readers for reading! I’ve included Amy’s social media links below so you can continue to follow her amazingly inspiring journey.

Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ajmarkstahler

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ajmarkstahler_author/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ajmarkstahler/

Website: http://www.amyjmarkstahler.com/

Blog: https://frontporchobservations.com/

Amazon link to books:

http://getbook.at/LHOTS

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1720226148/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/Amy-J.-Markstahler/e/B07F5MBYQJ/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

 

 

 

Welcome to this week’s blogpost and I hope you’re having a great week. I’ll be honest with you my planned schedule changed and I was a bit stumped on what to post this week and then realised that I haven’t really shared my poetry with you for a while…so here it goes…I’ve chosen three poems from my collection Sunshine after Rain for you…enjoy!

COLD HANDS, WARM HEART

Cold was the wind that carried through the air

Hands tight, deep in layers to find

Warm as the jagged bruising weight of his

Heart cherished her sweet purple lips

Cold was the imagery of the shuddering hills

Hands grasping across in mockery of his

Warm but eroded, wounded love as a

Heart once smiled now twisted echoic

Cold was the glimmer of sweet bay and laurel

Hands pearly white, pearlier and pearliest

Warm but perplexed as inertia shrouds his

Heart with ecliptic night, indigo memories

Cold was the un-knowing slavish squint as

Hands pulled and groped and lingered

Warm on teared eyes with rivulets as her

Heart traced his frown, an avalanche of agape

Cold was the hope soaked crimson

Hands reaching out to assure, to herald

Warm the lame, heretofore perish not

Heart lengthened, impressed strong as she

 

WHAT WILL BE WILL BE

Tears running salty down my face

Worrying about tomorrow

I don’t think I can cope

Faltering, walking a tight rope

I look down into an abyss

A mass of crashing waves and rocks

Nothingness strangles my wavering control

Suffocates my breathing, my soul

When all I see is more stress and sorrow

There’s no point in hiding

Who do I turn to? Where do I run?

My life is no longer fun

I close my tired eyes, I feel an angel

She strokes my face and wipes my tears

And I know as her serenity envelopes me

That what will be will be.

So I wipe my tears and paint a smile

I’m here right now with a happy heart

I cannot change a thing it’s taken a while to see

But now I choose my here and now, to be free.

 

EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING

Every time she looked at the sky

She wondered where the fluffy puffs came from

Did her mother tell her a lie?

Cloud after cloud appeared, shapeless shapes

Grey and white and all the shades in between

Swags and tails of flowing drapes

Has the sun disappeared for good?

Will it find its way over or under or through?

She hoped and dreamed it would

A shift in the coolest lightest breeze

She looks up, drifting cirrus high and cumulus low

A family moving in unison she sees

Silver she spies at the periphery of each

A shining edge, a lace hem, a gilded throne

A glow of orange, of lemon, of peach

Lining the blue as if true to her pining

She realises her mother was right

Every cloud has a silver lining

 

My collection of poetry is currently available in a Kindle downloadable format exclusively from Amazon. Here is the link to Sunshine after Rain. I hope you’ll enjoy the collection which is available for free on KindleUnlimited or for 0.99 on Kindle.

And thank you for reading! Big hug and much love, Soulla x 

I am absolutely thrilled to be sharing Cassie Faber’s A Cup of Conversation interview as she is one day away from releasing her debut novel Frozen Memories on Amazon on 7th September 2018. Cassie is bold and bright and exciting (juts look at that gorgeous pink hair!) but she admits to being an introvert and she struggles with the 9 to 5 routine of work and hopes to be able to write full time one day. Her seed of inspiration for her new novel has evolved from an idea two years ago to the first in what she plans will be a series of books in the Angelbay Harbor series. So come and find out more about this fabulously warm and friendly author as she chats with me in this week’s A Cup of Conversation.

1. When did you start writing creatively?

Oh golly, I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I have not been putting words or images on paper to give outing to the stories in my head. When I was a kid, I used to draw ‘stories’ and when I could write, I’d add dialogue, much like the old comic books back in the day. Writing has always been an escape for the stories my wild imagination conjures up at any given moment. I have never experienced writers block! I have the opposite, I can’t keep up with all the ideas pouring from my mind then flooding the pages into stories I hope I live long enough to write and publish!

2. How has music influenced your writing and writing style?

It’s been a big influence in my life! Growing up my grandma would listen to the oldies on vinyl, Mouskouri, Sinatra, Prima and Patsy Cline while cooking. On Saturday evenings we would huddle by the radio to listen to the radio drama’s and I would close my eyes and imagine the story play off in my head like a movie. Music brings back fond memories of my childhood, but it also sets the tone and evoke the right mood for writing the perfect scene. I have a variety of playlists for writing, editing, and for specific books. My husband thinks I’m crazy when I play a song on repeat as I work through a specific scene, but that’s how I work.

3. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

You are a badass by Jen Sincero. It’s one of those books that makes you sit up and snap out of the rut you are in and get on with business!

4. Are any of the characters in your current series and WIP based on yourself?

The main protagonist Claire Forester’s love for baking, flowers and everything small town is very much me. Her sister Amanda’s instinct to keep her family safe and happy and get on with business or ‘mom mode’ as Claire refers to it is something that comes naturally to most parents I think, and certainly one of my stronger traits.

5. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

Wow that’s a difficult question!

If I must pick then it will have to go to Claire and Boh, the main protagonists in books one and two. Claire’s a gentle spirit tormented by the tragic accident in which she lost both her mother and her memories. Her dramatic development from a fragile survivor to a tenacious business owner who fights for what she what she wants is remarkable and inspiring. Boh is strong-willed, broody and devilishly charming and comes with baggage he just can’t shake. His biggest fear is to be vulnerable and that’s exactly what happens when he falls for Claire. The more he feels the more he pushes her away and this makes for an explosive combination.

6. Congratulations on your latest release Frozen Memories. Tell us a little about it.

A couple of years ago I got this idea of a girl lying on a snowy bank. She was in a car crash; her face was all bloody as she lay there barely holding on to life. I knew she lost her memories, and that opened a floodgate of ideas. Characters started showing up and soon I had a full cast. I knew fairly early on that it would be series. I just had too much to tell for it to be one book.

7. Why would readers enjoy your book? 

All the characters in this book grow and change, for better or worse in some way and at times this was hard to write, but it was necessary for their development. I don’t shy away from writing the darker things and my characters get their fair share of it. This book, and the rest in the series are emotional rollercoaster reads!

8. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy and why?

Having a full-time job. I have known from a young age that a 9-5 office job is not for me, but the reality was that I had to work, raise a family, pay a mortgage and bills, all the boring grown up stuff.

9. What is your process for ensuring your books are ready for release? 

I must stick to a tight writing schedule as I’m not a full-time writer. Sometimes life just throws you a curveball and things don’t work out the way you have planned. I try and manage it the best I can and give myself adequate time to write but even more time for editing which can take from a few weeks to a few months! I have three beta readers who get the first draft off for an early readthrough to get a feel for their feedback on the story, characters etc.

       10. As an introvert, how do you deal with face-to-face book events?

I have not been to any face to face events yet but are very excited for my first whenever that will be!

11. What two aspects of the writer’s life frustrate you the most and why?

I think just not having enough time for everything but I’m hoping that will change once I can write full time. I have so many stories to tell and there’s just not enough hours in the day to do everything I have on my list!

12. What three pieces of advice would you give a new writer?

Don’t wait to start writing, if it’s your dream to be an author, start now, today, where you are with what you have. You are never going to feel ready so just take the leap and jump. You will grow your wings on the way down! Also, get your work edited and don’t try and have a good cover.

13. Are you a planner or a pantser?

Hands down a planner through and through! My mom tells me when I was a kid I used to make ‘to do’ lists, and as a grown-up I can’t function without it! I plan everything from my menu to which podcasts I listen to on my commute to work every morning and off course my writing and publishing schedule for the month to keep my 5 year plan on track!

14. What’s on your current to-do list?

Oh, my goodness, book one has been uploaded onto all platforms so at this stage I am working with bloggers for promotion, social media takes up heaps of time, but I enjoy hanging out with my fellow authors and friends! I am more than halfway through writing book #2 and have plotted the outline for a surprise novella! I also design my own covers so that takes up a lot of my time. I guess staying one book ahead of the release schedule is my goal, and that means sticking to my daily word count of 1250 words and playing catch up if I don’t make it!

     A little note from Cassie…Thanks so much for the interview Soulla! You are one of the loveliest people I have met on Instagram and in life and I am so honoured and blessed to know you! I hope that we will continue to work together for a very long time to come! Huggles xoxo

If you’d like to connect with Cassie you can do so here:  https://linktr.ee/authorcassiefaber

     It’s fabulous to be able to support such a lovely author as she launches her debut novel! Wishing her lots of success and I too am looking forward to a life long friendship and sharing a joyous writing journey together Cassie!

Thank you so much to all of you for joining me this week.

Until next time, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You. 

Soulla xxx

Welcome to this week’s A Cup of Conversation with one of the first authors I connected with on Twitter and who, although is on the other side of the world, still          I remember reading first drafts of his first book and sending back little notes to him and now here we are celebrating the release of his book          . It’s truly wonderful to be able to share this with him and to have you here.

1. When did you start writing creatively?

That must have been somewhere around late 2011 or early 2012. I had been raving to my loved one about a little book called ‘the name of the wind’ by Patrick Rothfuss when she politely asked, “You’re okay with English and your creativity steals you away so often. Couldn’t you do that?”

I answered, “Of course not, he…” I stopped. Why couldn’t I? Not on the same level, surely, but something clicked then. I could invent a story. The problem was simply writing it down. How do I gain that skill? What story would I want to write?

2. Which author has most influenced your own writing style?

Surprisingly, I think my two companions (Meredith and Michael from AMM) take that cake. It’s not so much me saying that they’re better than a Pullman or a Tolkein, but rather that they’re so different in the way they approach writing. Michael has an air of precise mischief, and Meredith places the emotions of readers above all else. These things have begun to seep into my writing, simply because I read so much of theirs. Before this, I’d never read so much by the same author save for Rowling.

3. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

A Stephen King novel, one of the Dark Tower books. It’s the one that mentions Charlie the train. I have never seen emotion twisted in that way. That book is the very definition of an eerie clown. It takes the things you believe are nonsensical and makes them into the most horrid things. It’s even more powerful because it lends a sense of truth. Maybe the important things in my life came from dumb coincidence. The sheer audacity in taking a song like Velcro Fly and turning it into a tribal drumbeat, far in the future, for people to murder one another with… I cannot imagine that.

4. Are any of the characters in your novel/s based on yourself?

I don’t rightly know. I’m not entirely sure what I’m like. Thinking back on it, I’ve largely avoided creating characters as simple as I feel myself to be. I’m a little worried about what that might end up saying about them…or about me. At this point, I remain a little far from going in that direction. They say that chefs always avoid their native cooking and then eventually come back home. I’m sure I will too.

5. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

Ah, this is actually an answer you seem uniquely qualified to understand. Azrael Windslayer is my favourite so far. I simply adore the inherent goodness and stubbornness he has in following his core belief.

Azrael Windslayer, dear readers, is a necromancer who believes that people shouldn’t die. Mischievous and at times cruel, he remains to this one faith because he thinks that as long as people could remain alive, they could become better people and then improve beyond our wildest belief. He would not wish the pain of death on anyone

6. Tell us a little about Adventus, your new release out on 1st September.

Adventus is the first of my novels set in Grimea, which is essentially made of Europe+ Middle East, East Asia, Central Africa, and Russia, but in a fantasy setting. In the year 1100 PK, three portals open, one in each of the continents other than Baku. In response, the world’s governments attempt to maintain diplomacy by sending a joint party of all these nations out to kill a specific creature. The point, it seems, is to prove that different races should live in peace. However, each government has something nefarious in mind…

7. Sum up Adventus in 6 words for us.

Governments are enemies. People are friends.

8. Where do you like to write and do you have a writing routine?

Currently, at my desk. I suppose there is a routine of sorts. I drink a great deal of coffee and do nonsensical things for a few minutes, then put away all people, toys, and electronics and begin to write.

9. What’s your favourite go-to snack when writing?

I don’t really snack. The closest I’ve come are slow meals or some vegetables. Perhaps some celery or carrots. There is something insidious about fruit, or so I am told. It might be the sugar. I don’t quite understand these things.

10. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you most enjoy and why?

I love a few things about writing, not least of which is the feeling of when I write and come up with interesting phrases. I also quite enjoy finding out where a story goes. Thinking about it, I spoke to a friend yesterday about the joy I feel when I begin writing and the story takes charge. You’ll find me pacing in the kitchen, telling people about how unexpected I found the most recent twist.

       11. Where do you find inspiration for your fantasy books?

Adventus was borne from my personal shame at the way some countries handled the Syrian refugee crisis. I wanted to reflect that shame in a fantasy setting.

Most often I begin with the world, I suppose. Many a teenager has sat with a friend and asked something to the effect of, “Dude, what if, like, some people had wings, but they’re really way deep down inside and couldn’t come out unless we were in danger? Wouldn’t, like, most superheroes in that world be suicidal people who just found out they had wings?”

I do something similar to that, and then I expand it. Sometimes, I begin by imagining a certain human being.

       12. What aspect of the writer’s life frustrates you the most and why?

Goodness, I hate proofreading my work. It’s simply the most boring part, since I already know what I wrote and thus, know my own story. What is the point of reading my book seven more times, just to polish some sentences and plot points?

However, I’m warming up to even that part. Polishing my work has begun to feel like polishing a stone or a blade. It can do something better because of my continued efforts.

       13. What three pieces of advice would you give a new writer?

Write fast: Done is better than perfect.

Wonder about people: Realistic people can make interesting decisions.

Read: For god’s sake, please do this, even if you’re like Michael in that you only read half of a book before moving on. Your style will never evolve properly if it isn’t motivated by the tricks that you absorb.

       14. Are you a planner or a pantser?

Pantser all the way. Writing Adventus, I was aware of only a few facts: I knew that Yuuto was the great-grandson of an old character. I knew Adventus would happen and that there would be a global summit. And I had known about the terrible tale of Ur Istahla and Ayyur, which Ur recalls to Yuuto in chapter…31, I think it was. Other than that, it all appeared on the page as I typed.

       15. What’s on your current to-do list?

Why, making Adventus a best-selling book, of course! We are currently on preorder, getting reviews, and we have every intention of making our week-long blog tour a smashing success.

Huge thanks Andrew for this wonderful interview and I wish you all the best with Adventus. And thank you my readers for joining us and Andrew’s links are below for keeping up-to-date with his books and writing life.

Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andrew_mowere

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/associationofmerrymakerz/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Association-of-Merry-Makers-186550418737100/

Blog: http://associationofmerrymakers.wordpress.com

Amazon link to book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FPWXRP2

 

Mark O’Neill is one of the first male writers to contact me about being featured in this series and I must say I’m truly delighted that he did. His interview is not only inspiring but he is open about his thoughts of the publishing industry and admits one of his book character’s sarcasm comes from him as he too can be a little sarcastic! He is a huge ambassador of Indie authors, so he already has a big tick next to his name from me! He’s a night owl and writes best between the hours of midnight and 3am and reveals how two of his books were inspired by real stories in the German news. You won’t be disappointed so welcome to this week’s A Cup of Conversation!

1. When did you start writing creatively?

When I was 10 years old. I remember writing about a deadly ninja that would go around beating up the bad guys. But this deadly ninja had feelings and would go home after a day’s hard work doing ninja’ing and talk to his dog about how he felt. It was really bad writing and I would cringe in embarrassment if I read it now. Remember I was only 10 and I am now 43!

But looking back, I realise it was the first time I started writing fiction where I was really rooting for the underdog. Justice and fairness has always been a constant theme in my writing.

2. Which author or authors has/have most influenced your own writing style?

The author I have always idolised is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and every year I re-read the Sherlock Holmes books religiously. When I was a boy, I read the Hardy Boys books and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven books. I love detective books, spies and codes.

Now that I am older, my thriller/spy writing is influenced by people like John Connolly, Daniel Silva, Tom Rob Smith, Sam Eastland, Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum, and Mark Dawson.

3. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

My reading has fallen by the wayside recently, as I try to write more of my own stuff. Today I started the new Daniel Silva book, “The Other Woman”, featuring the Israeli assassin Gabriel Allon. What message does it give me? That I have no chance in hell of ever bettering Daniel Silva! He is the spy thriller master.

4. Are any of the characters in your nine published novels based on yourself?

Not directly, but I do try to put tiny little bits of me in each character, maybe just a small trait or two that only people who know me well would recognise. For example, the main character, Major Sophie Decker is a sarcastic person, always ready with a smart-ass reply to someone’s stupid question. That is definitely me.

Her deputy Wolfgang Schmitz reads Asterix books and is always cracking jokes, looking as if he can be easily trampled on. People underestimate him but he can turn on you in an instant if pushed into a corner. Again, me.

Then there is Sergeant Max Amsel, a black guy who experiences racism in Germany because he’s black. I experienced racism in the past because I was a foreigner in Germany and I was attacked in 1999 by skinheads down in southern Bavaria after defending a black friend who was also being attacked. So I put all of my racism experiences in Amsel.

Finally, Department 89’s resident tech expert, Sergeant Katja Liebermann, has all of my tech and geek knowledge. She’s only happy if she is behind a computer screen.

5. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

A lot of people have asked me this and I honestly can’t decide between Decker and Schmitz. Both of them are my favourites and I can’t choose only one. Females will like Decker for her kick-ass uncompromising tough attitude in a job which is traditionally a macho man’s world (Military Intelligence). Men will like Schmitz for his smart Italian suits, his humour, his loyalty and toughness.

6. Tell us a little about your new series Department 89?

Department 89 is a covert German military intelligence unit which officially does not exist. The rest of German Intelligence is unaware that it exists and it answers only to the German chancellor and to her chief of staff. D89 deals with the security problems that the rest of German Intelligence and the German police cannot deal with, perhaps because there is no evidence to make an arrest, or because conventional law enforcement obviously cannot take the law into their own hands.

D89 on the other hand can do what they want. They do not have to follow the law and can make a spontaneous judgment call as to whether someone lives or dies. They are privately nicknamed “the chancellor’s private hit squad”. It’s hard to keep the department accountable to laws when officially they do not exist. So in a way, they are a nice convenient solution for the chancellor when she has a situation that normally cannot be dealt with. She can call in her black-ops people and tell them to quietly dispose of the problem.

7. Where do you like to write and do you have a writing routine?

Due to crippling back pain, I must lie down when writing, either on the bed or on the sofa. So my laptop is my most valuable possession. My writing routine is to do the books late at night between midnight and three in the morning. Any other time of the day, I have terrible writers block.

8. Why would readers enjoy your books?

Because they have action, adventure, fun, excitement, and escapism. Think of James Bond or Jason Bourne and multiply by 50. Plus female readers will enjoy seeing a strong female lead character for a change, instead of the woman traditionally being the sex symbol who looks lustfully at the male spy. Now the woman is in charge and the men are the second fiddles.

9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy and why? 

Editing. And having to deal with horrible people who seem to delight in sending nasty emails about how bad the books are in their opinion. I find it sad they have nothing else in their lives worth doing if all they can do is email me to complain about something in my books.

       10. Where do you find inspiration for your espionage books?

Other books and movies, as well as the news. I am always scouring German newspapers, websites, and history books to find possible new angles. When they found unexploded World War II bombs outside Berlin last year, I changed the bombs to poison gas and it became “The Beethoven Syndrome.” When the Neo-Nazi APD party got into the German parliament last year, it inspired “The Reichsbank Gold.”

       11. What is your process for ensuring your books are ready for release?

Setting a release date on day one and publicly announcing it. That way, I can’t back down from it. That forces me to keep working and stop procrastinating, knowing the clock is ticking down. Plus not sleeping too much.

       12. What two aspects of the writer’s life frustrate you the most and why?

Well as I said before, I get so much hate mail from pitiful hateful people and I am always told by my friends and family not to reply to it. That replying just keeps it going because attention is what they are looking for. But like Sophie Decker, I don’t turn the other cheek when getting insulted. So I am my own worst enemy.

The other aspect is the arrogance and rudeness towards indie authors, by the “traditional” publishing industry, by the media, translators, book conventions, etc. When they find out you’re an indie author, they look at you as if you are a contagious disease. I always say to them “I make 70% royalty on each book. How much do you make? 10% if you’re lucky?”.

That doesn’t improve the atmosphere but they know I’m right.

       13. What three pieces of advice would you give a new writer?

Never give up writing. Always edit your work. Always read other books.

       14. Are you a planner or a pantser?

A pantser. Planning is torturous for me. Planning takes all the fun out of writing. Just start typing and see where your mind takes you. To paraphrase a popular British TV comedy programme, “we’re now entering his mind. Expect filth!”

Stephen King said something along the lines of “if you don’t ever read, you don’t have any business being a writer.” He’s right.

       15. What’s on your current to-do list?

Writing the next Department 89 book (due out in September). Writing book one of a spin-off series, due out in the middle of August. Getting ALL of the Department 89 book covers re-designed by a lovely talented friend of mine in the US. The German and Spanish translations of my first book will also be out in August.

Links:

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/markoneill

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/markoneill_author

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/markoneillonline

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markoneillonline/

Website: https://www.markoneill.org

Blog: https://www.markoneill.org/books

Amazon link to books: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B074LCQN1D

They say time flies when you’re having fun! It’s a year exactly since the debut release of Broken Pieces of Tomorrow in its ebook format and I can say that this year has been phenomenally exciting…the path of being a published author has not failed to exhilerate, and at times exasperate, but most of all I have been truly amazed at the generosity, kindness and wonderful support of my family, friends and virtual friends too.

As a way of celebrating I thought I’d share an excerpt of the story and some of those e-moments with you. So THANK YOU to each and every one of you for making the first year of the book’s publication so successful!

Mya Glenister, a young student, now in her second year of GCSEs, designed the front cover of the book for me after responding to my shout out across Instagram for book cover ideas. She has been truly inspirational and worked tirelessly to meet my deadlines! As a former teacher of Business Studies and Head of PSHE I am a huge advocate of supporting young people to push themselves to do whatever it takes to develop themselves, build transferable skills and become the best possible version of themselves that they can. 

You can read about her experience of designing the cover here.

Seeing the cover of my book LIVE for the first time was truly amazing and it was such a special moment for me. If I remember rightly, I danced around the house screaming my head off and anyone who knows me will be able to say that’s typical of me when I get excited about something! I began writing the story in January 2015, using my writing classes as an escape from a particularly difficult and upsetting time in my life, and so to finally see my finished story, after countless of edits and re-writes, as an e-book on Amazon was incredibly rewarding. 

This was one of the very first reviews I remember really celebrating. The reader, who I have since connected with on Instagram, really understood Georgia’s “Coming of Age” journey and I remember crying with joy as I read her 5 star goodreads review which you can read in full here.

With over 35 reviews across Amazon and goodreads, the book is certainly liked by readers! EVERY review that comes in is always a whoop moment for me. I value everyone’s review and for those who cannot leave a review, a message on my social media is just as welcome. So if you’ve read it PLEASE leave a review for me, or message me your thoughts, and if you haven’t read it yet…here’s a little taster for you…enjoy!

“Nicolas strolled in a few minutes before six o’clock and went straight up for a shower. Georgia waited in the kitchen shifting from one foot to the other until he eventually came back downstairs.

‘Of course I’ve got her number. Why wouldn’t I? She works for me doesn’t she?’ said Nicolas.

‘What do you need to call her for?’

‘If she’s running late, if she’s not well enough to come in, if she’s missed the bus to work…loads of reasons. What’s with all the questions?’

‘I’ll tell you why! Because her number is all over the Vodafone bills like a rash! Her number is there every fucking day!  You made call after call after call to her.  Sometimes five, six times a fucking night.  In the mornings.  On Sundays.  On.  Sundays. When you should be watching your son play football you’re on the fucking phone to her for an hour, for two hours!’

‘Oh come on. How do you know that?’

‘Because, darling, I have seen the bills.’

‘Look I can explain. There’s nothing going on. She’s been doing extra shifts what with those workmen coming in at the end of the day. I couldn’t cope on my own. And she’s having a hard time with her boyfriend. He’s possessive. She just needs someone to talk to. I’ve done nothing wrong. I promise. I’ve promised your mum and dad. I’ve promised my mum too. On the boys’ lives I haven’t done anything with her.’

‘Don’t you dare swear on the boys’ lives!’

‘I promise!’

‘And my mum and dad aren’t stupid! They don’t believe you and neither do I.’

‘I promise, Georgia please…’

‘I don’t believe you. You just said it’s because she’s late or ill. Now you’re saying something different. And if nothing’s happened, you want it to. She wants it to. The fucking cow! She knows you’re married. She’s met me. She’s met the boys!’

‘Look I care for her. She works for me. She’s on her own. She’s here without permission. Imagine what that’s like for her.’

‘What it’s like for her? You are joking, right? Why do I want to imagine what it’s like for her? I’ve been out of my mind with worry. I’ve been thinking the worst; you were ill, you might be in debt, having a break down or something. And you want me to imagine what it’s been like for her? You imagine what it’s been like for me. Just for one fucking minute!’

‘You’re such a drama queen. It’s not about you or me. It’s about helping her out. She’s in trouble here. She’s without her family. She has no-one. We have each other and the boys and our families. You’ve got me. I’m working my arse off to give you the life you want. To give us the life we both want.’ He ran his hand through his hair, nervous.

‘Liar!’ Georgia wanted to bash his big fat head on the kitchen wall behind him, but instead she turned and stomped out. He didn’t follow her.”

Thank you for reading my “One Year Anniversary” post and if you’d like to connect with me then here are my social media links…see you soon!

Twitter      Facebook      Instagram     Pinterest

Until next time, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy you! Soulla xxx

In this Writers’ Favourite Writing Quotes post I have two wonderfully creative people from the world of writing and the world of music. Both are making waves and I am SO delighted to have crossed paths with them…they are phenomenally ambitious, driven and yet humble. Both deserve the success and happiness their creativity has brought them and I hope you enjoy their inspirational quotes as well as continue to share their wonderfully inspiring journeys through their social media channels.

Welcome Sweta Srivastava Vikram…Sweta inspires me daily with her energy, enthusiasm and the way she connects with her readers…her journey is a truly authentic one and I remember the first conversation on IG that I had with her was this message from her: ‘Hi Soulla! Love what you do. Let me know if I can be of any help as a fellow author.’ I knew from that moment that I had connected with someone very special indeed.

My favourite writing quote and how it inspired me: 

“If there’s a book that you want to read,

but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Toni Morrison

I couldn’t find books and stories about my generation or South Asian women like myself or my friends and family, so I wrote “Louisiana Catch” and created the protagonist Ahana. I was tired of others defining what Indian women look like, behave, do, or feel. You can say, breaking stereotypes surrounding South Asian stories was central to writing of this book and Toni Morrison’s wise words.

How the quote got me into writing, helped develop my writing style or attitude: The quote is plain and simple. And it reiterated my desire to write “Louisiana Catch.” It taught me about authenticity and both the power and pain of untold stories.

What I’m writing at the moment/working on: Starting September, I will start writing a monthly column for India Currents, a leading South Asian publication in the US. There are conversations around turning my 1st Indian novel, Perfectly Untraditional,” into a movie. That’s been quite exciting. Plus, I am not done with the book tour for “Louisiana Catch,” my latest novel 🙂 The tour resumes in the fall. Right now, planning and prepping for creative writing and wellness workshops that I will be offering by end of summer and early fall.

Social Media Links: 

Website

Facebook

Email

Twitter

LinkedIn

Instagram

Welcome Nathalie Miranda…Nathalie is doing what I would have loved to do had I not been a writer and I do actually have a couple of songs written in a notebook from a few years ago. She’s young and vibrant, she writes and sings and is always out there pushing herself and doing local gigs and events. I’m delighted to have crossed paths with such a hugely talented creative and I’m hoping to organise a local event with her in the Autumn so watch out for it!

 

 

 

 

My favourite quote and how it inspired me:

“Gotta find me a future, move out of my way”

by Queen from “I Want It All”

How the quote got me into song writing / helped develop my style or attitude. I’ve been writing songs since I was 10 years old. Melodies ad lyrics come very easily to me.

I’m inspired by my own personal experiences, things I see around me, things I’d like to happen…so much.

Freddie Mercury is my biggest inspiration as an artist. His lyrics and delivery drew my attention from a young age. Whenever I need inspiration, I watch one of his videos or put a Queen song on, and I’m immediately in a better place.

Unwittingly, he has been a huge part in my performance style. I like to get the audience involved, and I’m a totally different person on stage. It’s like I’m a more confident version of myself on stage, when in reality, I’m an introvert, and a private kind of person. His attitude and the way he commands a stage has definitely been a huge inspiration to me.

So, in summary, this quote is motivational; it’s focused, and gave me the drive to go out and follow my dreams and to achieve my goals.

What I’m currently working on: At the moment, I’m working on new material, writing with other artists, doing more and more gigs with just myself and the piano, which is very different for me, as I’m used to being accompanied by a guitarist. But it’s a whole different side of my performing that I’m enjoying very much. It’s much more organic and intimate.

My video for my song ‘Red Light’ came out on Friday 3rd August, which was exciting as it’s my very first!

I’m always looking to learn and grow as an artist, and be the best artist that I can be.

Social Media Links:

https://www.nathaliemiranda.com

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Youtube

Huge thanks to Sweta and Nathalie, and to you,

my readers for joining me this week.

Until next time, keep smiling, keep creating!

Soulla xxx

Hello!

I recently entered a competition on Instagram to win a book titled Magic Hour A Mermaid’s Tale written by S. Daniels. I won a beautifully signed copy of the story and its title reminded me of a poem I wrote back in February 2017 and so I’m sharing here…I hope you enjoy it.

Behind her, angles, the fabric of life
The solid architecture of man’s design
She wades into the warm ocean
Cracked soles sinking into the soft sand

***

Around her feet, a sensation, a tingling
Ripples, circles of magical magnetism
A fragile mass of body and soul
The water silk, caressing her blistered skin

***

Bruises fade, then disappear
Cuts once bleeding, now heal
Bare breasts revealed under the dazzling sun
The spray gently kissing her long limbs

***

The spray of the surf unrelenting
Below, the azure waters beckon her
Above heaven’s skies, jagged crack open
Her dark wavy locks soaked heavy

***

Eyelids shining, a shimmering gold
She lowers her dark brown eyes
Long eyelashes close over them
Breathing in the sharp, salt air
She tastes the sting of wet drops on her lips
And then her heart uplifting, floating,
As the spray washes over her, all of her
Joy unrelenting, crashes up through her belly

***

Undulating, rolling waves swallow her
Lightless, airy, an angel of the briny deep
Her legs ache with absolute bliss
Her tail emerges, turquoise scales

***

Ultra-marine, cobalt, sparkling hues
She dips and twists, crystal rocks
Seaweed, fish and creatures of the sea
Inviting her to the depths of the ocean
She breathes in and out, bubbles escaping her lips
She opens her eyes, safe as can be
Here in the magic, is where she belongs
This is her fantasy, her mermaid’s dream.

 

For more of my poetry you can download Sunshine after Rain from Amazon here. It is free on Kindle Unlimited and only 99p to download.

And if you love mermaids as much as I do you can buy S. Daniel’s book here as well as connect with her on Instagram @author_sdaniels and here is a little overview of her wonderful book for you:

“It is the tail end of dusk, and David McAllister, an adventurous seaman traveling the world on his yacht, is gazing at the stars and wondering what his next exciting experience will be. As he scans the dark Costa Rican waters where he is anchored, he sees the silhouette of a woman, only to watch her disappear beneath the waves. Intrigued, the next day he begins asking questions of the locals and hears tales of a fish woman. Meanwhile, a mermaid who knows herself only as Gem has been captivated by the sight of David. Although she’s fled humans for as long as she can remember, she finds herself unable to forget him. Their meeting marks the start of an amazing adventure for both of them, taking them to uncharted destinations and beyond. In this fantasy tale, a sailor and a mermaid are drawn to each other in the midst of magical events that will change both their lives forever.” 

It promises to be an absolutely magical tale!

Enjoy your summer reading, until next time, Soulla x

Welcome to this week’s post which is about that all important Book Launch or Book Signing Event. You’ve done all the hard work, your book is ready for release and so you want the event you deliver to be WOW! It’s time to celebrate and to enjoy the next part of your writing journey. I planned my first ever book signing event for The Summer Will Come. It was a fabulous event with over 70 attendees and one of the highlights of my writing career so far. I enjoyed every minute of it and felt totally delighted with the support I had. I really felt the LOVE! So here are my considerations for ensuring your event is a success too…in 10 simple steps.

  1. The first thing I did was set a realistic date for the launch and release of the book. I thought carefully about how long I would need to do any beta reader corrections, get the book formatted and ready for release. I chose the 25th March as it is the start of British Summer time and the timing fits in with the title of my book because the summer is on its way and so The Summer Will Come is perfect in so many ways!
  2. Once I had set the date I had to choose the venue to hold the launch. I wanted to choose a venue that was local, easy and free parking, was not too big and which would meet my requirements for offering food and drink. I chose a lovely little coffee shop, Cafe Buzz, which is run by a local Greek Cypriot woman.
  3. I confirmed the venue and timings with her. I confirmed what she was able to provide and support me with and how many people the coffee shop- would hold comfortably – combination of sitting and standing. I confirmed what food items I could provide myself and what would be available for those who wished to purchase any food or drink on the day.
  4. List of guests – I began putting a guest list together and started with my nearest and dearest and worked my way out – family, friends, work colleagues, authors I knew, other writers, local press. I added names to the list as they come to me, so the list was organic and growing.
  5. The invitation and spreading the word – I designed the invitation using a blank book cover and Canva to keep with the theme of the book. I included all the basic information but added that only cash sales would be made. I asked for an RSVP so that I could judge how many guests to expect on the day – this informed my food requirements and number of books needed on the day for sales. I sent this out the invitation across a number of different platforms including social media, SMS, What’s App, etc. I sent out details 8 weeks before the event, 4 weeks before the event, two weeks before the event, one week and then the day before, across all social media platforms and via WhatsApp.
  6. Plan for the day – If people are going to make the effort to come to your book launch then you need to make it interesting and fun for them. I organised a book reading (two extracts by two people – a male voice and a female voice for two main characters Christaki and Elena), a time for book signing, a Q&A which gave my guests the opportunity to ask me something about my writing and the book. I prepared some questions in advance and one of my A Team handed these out – nothing worse than no questions, eh? I indulged in some Greek Cypriot hospitality by offering complimentary food and refreshments. I ordered a jigsaw puzzle of my front cover with an idea for a game as guests arrived!
  7. My A team – You will need help! I realised that trying to organise every aspect of the party would be too much for me. So I rallied a number of people to help me with advance planning and of course help on the day. My sister baked a cake and topped it with a cake topper of my book cover which I ordered in advance, my mum is baked some Greek Cypriot savouries, an aunt is made some cookies, my mum is sewed bunting in colours to co-ordinate with the book cover… I organised someone to take photographs, someone to do the books sales (and organised a float for them), my cousin who is a florist is making floral table arrangements for me.
  8. Props and timings – Think of ways to personalise the space and make it yours. I had posters of my book cover printed, bunting, cake with book cover cake topper, flowers, mini framed book covers to have around the coffee shop and Greek finger nibbles and refreshments and Greek music! I also collated items mentioned in the book and created a “live display” which linked to my story; my grandma’s ticking clock, the red eggs, my Grandma’s little Bible, the Lefkaritika (lace) and the tsestos (flat woven basket) to make a table display. It’s about making it ‘real’ for the guests and creating a little bit of The Summer Will Come at the party. This will also help to start up conversation and questions about the story and ignite interest in the book.
  9. Plan my engagement with my guests – I welcomed them all personally as they arrive, I chose my extracts in advance,  drew up a list of who to thank on the day, printed the poem from which I chose the title of my book so I could read it out (I did this in Greek).
  10. Book supply and gifts – Giveaways and a prize draw is always a good idea! I organised some giveaways (guests registered with their email address and I used this to build my email list and follow-up after the book event). The prizes linked to scenes and characters in the book and I ensured a sufficient supply of paperback copies based on RSVPs received for signing and a few extra!

I hope you have found this useful! All that’s left to be had now is to have some fun! Enjoy the day and celebrate with my friends and family around me and of course, thank you too for your wonderful support. I wish all of you, too, lots of luck in what you are doing. Love Soulla x 

 

 

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