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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Thursday, 9 July 2015

FIRST DATE *~New Cover*~

I have made a new cover for FIRST DATE, which is currently *~FREE~* to download via Amazon!

What do you all think? Enjoy :)


Lose yourself in a collection reminiscing on first love, regret, and passion.

In FIRST DATE, when Alice gets invited to a ball, on Christmas Day, she is bowled over. No-one had ever asked her out on a date before, let alone invited her to a ball. However, the bubble bursts too soon. It turns out she is filling in for an ex-girlfriend. Even so, she puts on a brave face and heads for the ball. She can have a good time even if it does not lead to love. A ball is still a ball after...

In CARELESS CUPID, a mission becomes harder than expected... you are not supposed to fall in love with the person you are trying to help.

In THE ENGAGEMENT PARTY, Rachel might get a lot more than she expected on her big day. A stranger from the past flushes out feelings she had put aside. A lost love is hard to forget...

FIVE STAR REVIEWS:

“...a lovely little bite size treat easily devoured in a single sitting.”

“It is young love so fresh & new with all the trappings of heartache & embarrassment that can go with it.”

“This is Chick-Lit with a twist, and a squeeze of class. The style is comfortable, fluid and at ease with itself.”


“…delightful shorts, each approaching love from a different angle. The first reminds us all of how tumultuous young love or “infatuation” can be, never knowing how your heart truly feels until it's forced to decide. The second was my favorite because it threw a bit of otherworldly interest into the mix. I loved the idea of a cupid sent from above to help us out. And the final short reminds us that what once was can never be again. This book was a great way to spend some down time without having to get embroiled in complicated subplots and character analysis. Easy beach or before bed read!”

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

When other books get you down...

I had an amazing discussion online with a group on Facebook about the latest installment by E.L. James, GREY. Well, it seems the books are like marmite - love them or hate them.

Either way, I came across this article today in the BBC and it made me a bit sad.

Fifty Shades rewrite Grey breaks record in first week

So, basically if we all cut & paste, we could make new versions of our books and sell millions, right? Wrong...

I don't understand why this book has created an obsessive following, and don't see why so many should be desperate to read it.

I downloaded a sample and there was nothing there that pulled me in. He sounds like an obsessive creep and she comes across as pretty pathetic.

So yeah, I wish I could have these sales, I wish readers would download my free book in the same way they are willing to pay for this, but alas it's not to be.

Apparently, I share the same reason for writing as E.L. James. We both wanted escapism and got it.

BUT, her twisted trilogy became a bestseller and mine did not. Depressing to think about... moving on!

I know many writers out there, agents, and publishers must be pulling their hair out over this one too. I hope I'm not alone!

Well done, Mr Grey, you have controlled the masses via a book!

Hope you're all keeping well otherwise.

All the best,

Vanessa :)

Friday, 12 June 2015

When life takes over

I have not been blogging much or spending much time online recently since life is taking over. Since my eye operation last year I also find that I can't spend hours watching the screen! There had to be a downside to having lazer surgery...

Anyway, I wanted to share my recent online experience. I took part in the recent #PitchWars (an opportunity on Twitter to pitch directly to agents/ publishers) and was asked for a sample by a publisher. After sending a chapter, with a brief intro (took me 5 mins to write!) I expected not to hear from them ever again. But, a few days later they asked for the full manuscript. Trust me, this was shocking BUT... it made me suspicious.

In my opinion, any publisher worth anything should take some time to reply. The fact it was that fast made me wary. When I checked them online, they have only been in business since 2013 and have a limited track record at the moment.

For a new author, with no idea how to arrange eBooks, paperback themselves, etc, this is great. No upfront costs, editing advice, and they'd publish your eBook and get ready a print to demand paperback.

BUT, I effectively am just like them. I can do all of this myself. I guess I'm a publisher!

So, I sent them an email thanking them for the interest and basically said, 'thanks, but no thanks.'

To which they replied the next day, 'we have decided not to proceed with your submission'... erm, I rejected them!

So, it was the right decision.

New authors have to be careful. I would always recommend that you try to get an agent first, unless your book is for a specialist market. Also, if your book fits a niche, but will not be the next big read then this type of publisher might be ideal.

But, I have a dream... my book deserved to be in hardback form.

If I can't get an agent and mainstream publisher, then I'll do it myself after all.

The good thing is that I have finished the first book in my new historical fiction saga. Now, the editing begins!

I have decided that it can't be one book after all. It's way too long.

I'll update as it goes, but watch this space... and be careful authors. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

All the best & have a great weekend,

Vanessa :)

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

You have to love ANNIE!

I went to see the film Annie with my youngest daughter last week and loved it! We went back again a few days ago at her request.

You have to love the kids showings via CINEWORLD, great value for money at only £1.75 per person! The popcorn box, which includes a drink & snack is also only £2 for these showings! I think we're going to see the Shaun the Sheep movie on Friday!

Today, I saw the DVD for Annie and bought it. For £5 you can't go wrong!

So, what's great about ANNIE? Where do I start?

I watched the original when it came out on cinema and I remember crying. It was so sad. Yet, the songs were fantastic.

Here's the original 1982 version of "It's a hard knock life" via YouTube


And a link to the 1999 version via YouTube


The songs in the original are hard to beat... and yet, this new modern version does an incredible job! I am so going to buy the soundtrack. I loved them all and the new ones are now fixed on the brain! Yep, even more annoying than Frozen!

I loved the voice of Jamie Foxx in particular, and was amazed Cameron Diaz pulled this off. Both are incredibly talented.

However, the stand-out casting in this movie was the little girl... Quvenzhané Wallis

I find it hard to believe that this girl, who is younger than my 12 year-old-son, can pull off such a massive role. Truly incredible. And what a voice! I would not be surprised to see here turn into a singer later on in life. Perhaps, she can be the next J-Lo?


Check out Wikipedia for the overview of the cast. It worked! Interesting to see the review via Rotten Tomatoes. I guess not everyone liked it. But, I thought it was great and it made my daughter and I laugh and sing! You can't complain to that...

Today, I went to see Avengers Assemble, Age of Ultron with my older kids and I got bored! Same old, same old. This got much better reviews, but personally I don't get a kick out of fighting, destruction & death! Oh well... apparently humans are all evil, apart from those that are "super". I guess I had that coming, having written a trilogy which also explores the theme of evolution!


Anyway, both offer great escapism. Hope you enjoy finding out about them and get some time to check them out.

Enjoy the rest of your week,
Vanessa :)

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Talking to Susan Ward

I met Susan Ward via Goodreads. She recommended her book on my Group and I decided to give it a go. After reading it and enjoying it a lot, I have the pleasure of welcoming her to my blog.

“The Girl on the Half Shell” is a fantastic book with a lot of layers. I thought it was an incredibly addictive read. Enjoy my review…

Stunning cover too! 
WOW... I am emotionally drained. This book has it all. What an incredible story.

Chrissie Parker is the daughter of famous rock star, Jack Parker. She is a very confused and traumatised 18-year-old girl, who carries a burden from years earlier. She believes that she had something to do with the death of her brother, Sam, and has self-harmed numerous times to help deal with the guilt that she feels. This is so sad and is portrayed brilliantly in the writing.

She is about to audition at Julliard to become a cellist, like her mother, and heads to New York with her crazy best friend. However, before she does she meets Alan Manzone, a rock star on the brink of disaster, who has been helped back to the road of recovery by Jack for the last few months. The attraction is instant and fate decides to give them a helping hand by cancelling her flight the next day. Alan comes to her rescue and gives her a lift on her private jet to NYC.

Chrissie is out of control and Alan is frankly too old for her (10 years older) but the chemistry that develops between them is unstoppable. I was totally hooked and loved how their story develops.

There are a few scenes that annoyed me a bit. She has a lot of baths, he washes her a lot, and the sex develops too fast and becomes too extreme considering her limited experience. I would have thought that if Alan truly loved her he would have realised she was really just out of being a school girl. These issues could have been avoided if she’d been in her early twenties, but I understand why it worked better to catch her when most vulnerable. Even so, at times I honestly thought he had pushed the boundaries in the relationship too far.

Saying this, Chrissie acts irrationally a lot. She is not a stereotypical girl. She does not do what you’d expect. I love this about her. We can all act a bit insane at times.

The ending is fantastic. I will not give a spoiler, but it is not what you would usually expect. Chrissie grows up and makes the right decision. Alan has helped her on many levels and it’s wonderful to see so many issues potentially resolved.

Overall, I found the author on Goodreads and asked to review her book! I am SO glad she let me do this and am so lucky to have come across this book. Definitely recommended, but not for those who can’t stand references to ‘Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll!’

*~Rated: 5 stars~*

Now, let's start with my questions. 

First off, I have to ask this… How does this story relate to your ‘real’ life? What inspired you to write it?

It is based in my hometown, in the world I grew up in, in the era I grew up in, and Chrissie is a composite of girls from my clique in high school and parts of her are me, but I won’t tell you which parts.

(I promise I wasn’t going to ask…)

Jack is based on a real person I knew all through my childhood. Chrissie’s house is modelled after a real house. The neighbourhood, Hope Ranch, is my childhood stomping grounds. Everything in the book is based on something real or really lived, either personally, or through a friend.

(I loved Jack as a character, I can understand why you made him so real now)

Your female MC, Chrissie is a very confused character. She has no idea what she wants from life. Was it hard to decide how old to make her? 18 is very young and can be considered to be when young people are most vulnerable.

We have five children. I’ve been raising girls for over 30 years. That’s definitely the way I was, growing up in a very sheltered environment before the world of technology. You have to remember this is before the internet age. For better or for worse, most of us, what we knew of the world, was direct experience.

(I must have led a sheltered life then… or at least, I know I kept away from many situations that could have gone bad!)

Us Santa Barbara girls were not sheltered and naïve about the world. As for girls, they haven’t changed. Eighteen is a very confused, volatile state for a girl, in my opinion having raised so many.

(I have two sisters and no brothers and we all kept away from trouble. But, I know friends who made mistakes along the way. I also have two daughter myself. If any of my daughters got together with an older man at 18 I’m pretty sure I would flip! Ha ha)

Your male MC, Alan Manzone, has such a harsh take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Yet, his honest approach made him more believable. As much as I wanted to slap him at times, I also feel head over heels for him. Funnily enough, his commitment to Chrissie was never in doubt.

Your reference to drugs and its use is harrowing and realistic throughout. Alan is one of the victims. Do you think drugs can be the ultimate escape for those looking for meaning in their life?

Drugs are never an escape or assist in finding the meaning of life. They are the trap that prevents both. However, having known addicts, it’s usually in recovery when they make their greatest personal growth.

(True, but I have seen many get into drugs for escapism or due to peer pressure. I said no, but many of my friends didn’t. In the end, it can destroy people, as I saw in the recent River Phoenix documentary! So sad…)

Many background characters add depth to this novel. Do you think Chrissie, like many at times, purposefully surrounded herself with ‘needy’ people? She comes across as very innocent, even though frustratingly stupid on occasion.

Most fragile people surrounded themselves with needy people. Those who need rescued personally often grab on to be people who need rescued. I’m old. This is a theme of human behaviour that hasn’t changed in my lifetime. Beneath every person I’ve ever known trying to rescue someone, is a personal crisis they need rescuing from.

The reference to sex in this novel is very raw and animalistic at times, definitely for over 18. How do you feel when you write these scenes? Are you ever embarrassed to talk about it with friends and family? I know, personally, I got a few looks from friends from some of my scenes!

My husband and children have not read my books. They don’t want to run into a sex scene written by mom J However, I’m not at all embarrassed to discuss my view on sex scenes in romance novels. Sex is the expression of who we are and our emotional state and should be consistent with that state. I don’t believe in writing a sex scene just to include a steamy bit. I have a novel that’s over 400 pages that is a bestseller that does not contain a single sex scene even though it’s romance. Not having sex was the physical expression of the state of those characters.
 
However, people in crisis, I’ve often found, become sexually intense. That’s why the scenes in Half Shell are raw and animalistic. Both Chrissie and Alan are dealing with intense, deeply buried emotional conflict. Those issues struggling to come out are expressed in their sexual interaction.

I think Alan expresses this pivotal point in his life with, “The opposite of death is not life, Chrissie. The opposite of death is you. You are my opposite of death.

It is the physical expression of our being, our emotional condition, and I hope, that how I’ve written the scenes. I don’t think anything less raw and animalistic would ring true.

With the advent of Fifty Shades, a book I am still to read, do you think people like to read about situations considered taboo before? Especially from the privacy of their kindle?

I don’t write about things I consider taboo. I try to write and speak to young women about the issues in their, in all our lives, that we don’t talk about. Poor Chrissie, however, is getting a handful of my contemporary women’s issues. She’s struggling a lot, for all of us.

Additionally, I wanted to write a character who self-burns in a way readers could understand her, maybe help someone who has issues. This issue has personally touched my life through someone I love. I’ve received so many emails from people with substance and self-harming issues, whether it be anorexia, burning, cutting that humble me, their kind praise and appreciation for writing this book.

You book is currently on a FREE promotion. How did you go about advertising it? Are you loyal to Amazon’s KDP program? Many authors, including myself, would love to know how you got into the top 100 in the US & UK! The Holy Grail…

The most important thing to me is readers reading my work. Some people chase NYT bestsellers list, US Today. Me I chase something I call shelf space. That’s the number of people who have read my books. Now, being virtually unknown last year, Amazon KDP offered me the best way to distribute my work to readers. Chrissie has been slowly growing in fan base for the past twelve months. This book is alive based on word of mouth. The readers who love it really love.

So, it was a combination of timing and word of mouth.

(AWESOME!)

I help back from ever offering her free until my one year anniversary. I wanted her book birthday to be perfect. I didn’t know any major promotion, Bookbub or Ereader News, I let my reader base know she was going free. I would say word of mouth and regular tweeting is how she got into the top 100.

Which is the character you have created to date and why?

Chrissie is my favourite. She is the narrative in my head, though you would never know it if you met me. Her uncertainty. The way watches the world. Her mess, all internally contained in your least likely women. She’s my favourite because I think she’s like most women.

Have you ever watched that Movie, What Women Want, (I have indeed – love it!) with Mel Gibson and he’s out walking and he hears all the women’s thoughts around him. I loved that because it’s true. We think, we worry, we doubt, we are hardest on ourselves.

The life in our head is often different than the life we live. Just like Helen Hunt’s in What Women Want. It’s so true.

Do you get a kick out of reader feedback? How do you deal with reviews that are critical?

It may surprise you but I thank ever reviewer, positive or critical, and if possible establish a discussion with the critical readers. I will never be able to please every reader with a work, we have five kids I’ve never been able to please all of them on a single day, but I love to listen, hear, get feedback and sometimes learn from the people who did not like my work. It’s the only way to grow in your craft. The productive review can often be the review that is critical of you. It also helps define who is and isn’t my reader market. I’ve learned a lot about the demographic of who my books appeal to and don’t appeal based on critical reviews. And what I learned surprised me.

Do you think social media is important? If so, how do you prioritise your time?

Very important. When I first released I wasn’t on twitter, Instagram, and had only 20 Facebook Friends, my kids & a few intimates. I didn’t know anything about social media. It took me 6 months and the help of a girlfriend who is a blogger for me to get up to speed, but it’s really improved my market exposure. Throughout the day, I periodically touch base. Pretty regularly actually. I try to leave my desk and relax my mind about every two hours. I go sit outside and stare at the ocean. That’s when I touch base with my social media.

What is the most important thing you have learnt, as an author, since you published your first book?

That I didn’t know a darn thing when I started. It’s hard work to sell a book, and it takes a village to do it. I have a tightknit of supporter and author friends, and we work together for each other. It’s made a definite difference in the level of success I have.

(I hear you on this… the road is long!)

Do you think books are timeless, or do you think some fads disappear?

Great books last forever because what they say to people is timeless. Enjoyable books can have longevity. The trite, trendy fad driven creation dies quietly. (This is true in all things. Fashion. Music. Cinema) However, no author knows which kind of book they’ve written until the readers tell them and they face the test of time.

What is the best book you have read and why did you enjoy it?

The best book I've ever read is Through a Glass Darkly. I thought it was an amazing accomplishment. The blend of history, drama and characterization. I just ached for Barbara on every page and got a definite feel for the time she lived in. It kept me flipping pages for 700 pages, and while I didn't want it to end the way it ended, I still love the book.

I thought it was an absolutely amazing read.

What is the best book you have written, and why did you enjoy writing it?

Without a doubt The Girl on the Half Shell. I enjoyed it because if readers what to see what I’m saying to women in that book, there is something to find. So many women have told me that this book has helped them. I get a lot of “how did you know” messages. However, if you just want an intense and raw story, you can have that as well. It’s a book where you can take away something different depending on what you want to take away after reading it.

Where we can find out about you and buy your books?

I’m exclusively on Amazon. Amazon buypage

Our you can visit my website and read my blog www.susanwardbooks.com

Or you can like me on Facebook

And follow me on Twitter @susaninlaguna


Thank you again for letting us find out more about you and for your honest responses!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

~*Book Recommendations*~

I have not been blogging very much due to several reasons. Time is the biggest culprit. I feel guilty if I am blogging when I should be writing. I have also been reading a lot recently and have now hit 50 books this year! My Goodreads target is 100... I think I'll make it!

I have to admit I was a bit blown away by "THE DUFF" - I loved both the film and the book and did not mind the fact they were so different.

Very different takes on the same theme. I admit that I'll never be to old to relive the drama of growing up!


Read on to find out more about the books I recommend. For full reviews visit my Goodreads page.

Click on the Amazon links to download...



Bargain Reads - Under £1/ $2


~*FREE*~ Reads




Bargain Reads - Under £1/ $2


~*FREE*~ Reads




Bargain Reads - Under £1/ $2


Thanks for reading and let me know what books you recommend in the comments. I am happy to review if I enjoy! 

All the best,
Vanessa

p.s. In case you have not read my debut novel yet, please take a look and review if you enjoy. Thanks a lot :)

HYBRID *~FREE eBook~*


Find out more about me, how I wrote The Evolution Trilogy, and more, on my blog... http://www.theevolutiontrilogy.blogspot.co.uk/

I would also love some more likes on FACEBOOK


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Happy Easter

I am heading off to a Center Parks in Belgium for Easter.

Can't believe it was 10 years ago when I last went there!

We used to go to Eperheide a lot when we lived in Rotterdam and it has an amazing ball park which I am sure my youngest will love.

Even though I had to add the cost of the ferry, it still worked out cheaper than booking a UK one! And you get to experience a different culture...

So, I hope the rest of you enjoy the week. I can't imagine I'll be online much - but, I will be reading a lot!


Enjoy your time with family, friends, and CHOCOLATE! If you need some ideas for Easter baking click on the LINK

All the best,
Vanessa