Saturday, 11 August 2012

I'm A Work In Progress

This post is part of RJ Scott's anniversary blog hop. Congrats on 2 years and counting!!

As a new author, it has already been quite a learning process - from planning to writing and from submission to release day.

So, where do I start? For quite some time, I had been encouraged by others to try writing professionally and submit something for publishing. In the first instance, I thought sure I can do this, but there was always that lingering doubt. What if they reject my story? A story I worked really hard on. It'd be like they were rejecting me. But I'd never know if I didn't try, and that's half the battle - having the courage to try. And if things don't work out, take any advice or figure out where you went wrong and try again.

While I worked on my first story, I was fortunate enough to have a friend who had already made that transition to published author, RJ Scott. Through her I was able to get a taste of how the process worked by co-authoring a novel, The Art Of Words. It wasn't as scary as I thought and it was incredibly rewarding to see our hard work lead to something. Okay, an ebook isn't something you can hold as such, but the publisher she worked with, Silver Publishing have fantastic artists. I had a beautiful book cover with my name on it - that was something to be incredibly proud of.

The editing process was pretty straightforward. I know it will depend on the state of your story in the first place. Plot holes, grammatical errors, awkward sentences, repetition of phrases and words, redundant words like 'that', and for me, those nasty Britishisms as I write in American English. I have been through the editing process a total of four times now and each time I learnt something new that I never thought about before. It's been great that the three times for my solo stories I've worked with the same editor, I don't know if that's a common thing elsewhere, but it's helped and I like consistancy. I do find the more people who look at a piece of writing, they have slightly different views on structure, grammar, and word use - nothing major, just those little things that seem right either way.

Something else from editing... I am of the opinion that the publishing staff are there to help me and to shape my story into something that is saleable. Obviously, this is to both our benefits :D So any suggestions and comments I have fully embraced, and tried my best to make the changes. I remember putting in a joke in a story and the person who read it didn't get what I meant, and after looking at it, I could see why maybe they didn't. Just because I know what I mean when I write something, doesn't mean anyone else does :)

Release day - today is actually the release day of my first full novel, Dead Things, which follows The Art Of Words with RJ Scott and then a short story for a summer submission at Silver, Sex and Cocktails. As a new author, I get really excited and also nervous on release day. It's exciting because it seems such a long time since submission and editing, and then there it is, live on Silver and Amazon for the world to see. Maybe one day the novelty will wear off, but certainly at the moment I really look forward to it. The nervous part also kicks in here as, as much as you want to hear what people think, you really don't want to hear what people think. What you have to remember is that reviews are subjective - they may like a certain type, style, be in a certain mood when they happen to read. One thing to always remember, never get defensive and reply to these reviews. It could quickly spiral out of control and there are plenty of examples of this on various books on Goodreads and Amazon. Behave like a professional, take anything constructive from them, and move on to your next story.

This is my experience so far in publishing. Other things I've had to consider are the writing itself. Things like: having a plan (even of it's just key points), making notes about your characters to help continuity, if you get stuck try 'sprinting' (set yourself a short time limit and off you go - you can write several hundred words maybe more when focused for a simple 30 minutes), POV and tenses - make sure you stick to them (you can only be in one characters head at a time thinking and feeling stuff!) and US vs UK English. Another thing I was gently prompted to do is promotion. Get on facebook, get a blog, do your best to post stuff and be active and get involved (or bullied *sticks tongue out at RJ*). And most of all have fun.

As it is release day, I'd like to offer readers a chance to win a copy of Dead Things. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment with your email addy and a winner will be selected tomorrow at midnight (GMT). Competition closed. Congratulations, Terri!

Also RJ Scott is having a competition, along with links to the other posts in this blog hop here...
And find the resource facebook page for new and existing authors inspiring the blog hop here...

Dead Things

A deadly virus rages indiscriminately across the United States and then beyond. The survivors face a new terror—the undead creatures created in the wake of the infection.

Devin Reid is part of a group surviving out of a high-security penitentiary near Kansas City. Resources are limited and it's down to a handful of people like Devin to meet the demands on food and supplies. The newly-made monsters are hungry, and the survivors risk their lives scavenging the cities and highways.

On one fateful venture, Devin finds something, someone, with the potential to change a dark future, destined for blood and heartbreak, into one of hope and second chances. He finds Noah Weber.

Available from Silver Publishing: Here
Add to Goodreads: Here

Friday, 10 August 2012

Zombies #10

The tenth and final zombie post in the countdown to the release of Dead Things, available from N/A.

Thanks if you stuck with me for this long and if I ever think of trying to post 10 days in a row again, remind me how hard it actually is to keep it up :)
So, to start off, one more excerpt from the book and this time there be zombies :)

Dead Things
Excerpt from Chapter 3

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Zombies #9

My second place favourite zombie movie is...

9. Planet Terror

Dr. Felix: Viral infections. They came pouring in. Some are rapidly developing coliform lesions... highly contagious. What do you think?
Dr. William Block: Self preservation comes to mind.

Ever watch a film and just, that is so cool? I love Rodriguez's Planet Terror. Paired with Tarantino's Death Proof under the title Grindhouse (which also featured a then mock-trailer of Machete), Planet Terror oozes a certain style that people either love or hate. Personally, I love anything like this, a movie that is visually just awesome. I love the flickery effect of an old picture house and the movie reel jumping or even burning out. The mood of the movie is dark but a fun romp very much like some of Rodriguez's other films, From Dusk Til Dawn, Sin City and The Faculty. I just love the dialogue and action and overall B-movie feel to it.

Abby: I also want your balls for my collection! It would be easier if you do it yourself. Just drop your pants, chop them off, and give them to me. Then... I might consider letting you live.
Romy: Uh... Abby... I'm really attached to them.
Abby: Oh, sweetheart I was really attached to my specimens. And now, thanks to you and your incompetence, they're out there in the night doing God knows what.

A virus is released and some infected specimens escape, which both head for town. And then the bites, the lesions and the dead bodies start rolling into the hospital. The mixed group of survivors battling it out include Cherry, a go-go dancer, her ex, Wray who has history with the sheriff and guns (and it seems knives - handy though), the sheriff's cook brother, a pair of twin babysitters, and a bisexual doctor that is nifty with syringes :). Throw in some slightly unstable military guys and then it really gets fun. The female characters are sexy and capable. The zombies are pretty gross and some actual brain eating happens \o/ It's a great cast including Josh Brolin, Michael Biehn, Rose McGowan, Bruce Willis and Fergie. There are a few shocking moments in there along with the gore, as well as the dark humour and even a little romance :)

Sheriff Hague: Don't shoot yourself. Don't shoot each other. And especially... don't shoot me.

I just find the movie really cool and I'm a Tarantino and Rodriguez fan, so mixed with zombies, I was having a happy watching this ;D

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Zombies #8

8. Doghouse

Neil: When we get to the country, we are gonna piss up all the trees to mark our teritory, then we are gonna find a pub and get so drunk we can't remember how to speak, and we'll communicate in grunts like neanderthals, before passing out in the woods!

This is one of my favourite films (don't judge me). A group of blokes leave their wives, girlfriends, boyfriends or casual hookups behind for a weekend and head to a small village to help their mate Vince get over his recent divorce only for them to run into a small snag. With a population where women outnumber men 4:1, a virus has turned the females into a bunch of man-hunting cannibals, or zombirds as they're affectionately known :)

Graham: What kind of virus only attacks women?
Neil: Bird flu.

Okay, so not everyone is going to like this British horror/comedy - it is very laddish, rude and plenty of bad behaviour. There's just something about geezer blokes that I find funny. They don't offend me, certainly not in the movies anyway, and unlike a friend of mine, I actually really like Danny Dyer as an actor. I enjoyed him in Severence, another British horror/comedy and also in Straightheads with Gillian Anderson. The movie also stars Noel Clarke and Stephen Graham who also play the role of typical blokey-blokes really well.

Graham: In case you've forgotten, the reason we brought him out here was to try and convince him not all women were out to get him.
Vince: Thanks for that lads. It's all going really fucking well innit.

It just makes me laugh this movie. I love the zombirds. Each one is made up as a different character and therefore has a particular 'weapon' that they had with them - there's the hairdresser and her scissors, the foxhunter and her riding crop, the lollypop lady and her sign. And though they start off lumbering around, they are soon subjected to 'Phase 2' and then they get really nasty :)

Mikey: Now you decide to shoot something, you fucking monkey's arse ring!
Sergeant Gavin Wright: I had one bullet left. I was saving it for when I really needed it.
Mikey: You're still a twat!

Overall, it's funny, rude, gory and my kind of movie.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Zombies! #7

Post 7 in my countdown to my release Dead Things, due out this Saturday. I'm going to start of with a further excerpt from the story.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Zombies! #6

6. Doom

Again, not technically zombies, but certain people die, come back, turn into violent, munching monsters so I'm taking it. Plus it is an awesome excuse to appreciate the awesomeness of one Mr Karl Urban.

The things I like about Doom:

1. Karl Urban. You never saw that one coming did ya?  I love the character in this, John 'Reaper' Grimm. Yes he's a soldier that shoots stuff, but he has history and background stuff that creates angst and misery and conflict, which is all very yummy.

John Grimm: If I turn into one of those demons, shoot me. One in the heart and one in the head, and don't you hesitate.

2. The Rock or Dwayne Johnson because he's a proper actor now, you know. I really, really like his movies. I'm not sure if I should, but I do. And oh lordy that body. Ahem. Anyway, I think he's great in this as Sarge, the guy in charge and I love the slightly psycho edge to his personality :) All very cool.

Sarge: Eliminate the threat.
The Kid: What threat?
Duke: It goes like this see, if it's trying kill ya. It's a threat

3. The brother and sister relationship. Much like I have in Dead Things, there is a great brother and sister relationship in this movie. Strained at times (particularly in the beginning as they reunite after some time apart) but also incredibly supportive and protective, and even though Reaper is the big bad bro soldier, Sam looks out for him just as much as he looks out for her.

Samantha Grimm: So, "Reaper"? As in "Grim"?
John Grimm: They're Marines, Sam, not poets.

4. Those action one liners. You know the ones. Those awesome lines that make you chuckle as the big tough action hero puts down the bad guys.

5. The fact even soldiers stuck on a scary planet with creepy-ass monsters still have needs.

Corporal Dean Portman: I gotta take a dump.
Destroyer: What? Now?
Corporal Dean Portman: Unless you want me shitting my pants right here.

6. It is the ultimate guilty pleasure. I particularly enjoyed the scene that was a shout out to the original game and the feel of that. Sure the plot is flimsy, but who cares. We have monsters, soldiers, action, humour, good and evil, and human emotions and mistakes. I really love this film and have watched it so many times I have lost count. Not quite zombies, but the feel of it, the tension, the scares, people dying and coming back as messed up monsters, it has a lot in common in that sense - plus after a google, it seems it has made it onto a couple of zombie movie lists *nods* And if nothing has Karl Urban, The Rock and, for any British kids of the 80s/early 90s out there, Dexter Fletcher - Press Gang anyone? Or for zombie buffs, he stared in the not-so-great zombie movie, Autumn.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Zombies! #5

4 and 5. 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later

Okay, so there's the whole they aren't really zombies argument. I know they're not in the strictest sense, although I swear the amount of blood some characters lost in attacks, they shouldn't be up and that lively *ponders*. But zombiesque in style, they are super cool movies.

Jim: And then I wake up today in hospital. I wake up, and I'm... I'm hallucinating or I'm...
Mark: What's your name?
Jim: Jim.
Mark: I'm Mark. This is Selena. OK, Jim. I've got some bad news.

The first movie tells the story of Jim and other survivors he comes across, looking for some kind of hope of a cure or somewhere safe. A 'rage' virus has swept through the population of Britain and well, obliterated it. I love the opening scenes of an abandonned London, and Jim all alone as he wanders around the city, completely unaware of what has happened. Of course, it doesn't take long for Jim to come across the infected, rage-filled monsters created from the virus, and so begins a desperate battle of survival. There are some great action sequences and the music in this and the sequel are just superb. In the House/In a Heartbeat, has to be my favourite piece of music ever - to be fair John Murphy does some epic soundtracks.

Jim: No, no. No, see, this is a really shit idea. You know why? Because it's really obviously a shit idea.

Brendan Gleeson pops up in a role of a survivor, playing a father who has his daughter with him. Together with Jim and the main female character, the ass-kicking Selena, they head off in search of other survivors. Christopher Eccleston also stars as a soldier in charge of a group of surviving very laddish soldiers that our main group comes across, and you just know things aren't going to be as easy as these guys banding together and waiting it out.

Private Jones: Mitch, I fucking got one!
Corporal Mitchell: What you want a fucking sweetie? Keep shooting, you c**t!

I really enjoyed this movie. It kind of reignited my lust of horror movies and in particular zombies. There had been nothing significant in quite a while before this movie that dealt with populations becoming infected and turned into wild, crazed monsters (there probably was something that I've forgotten *thinks*). It was a really cool movie that was followed up with an equally cool sequel.

28 Weeks Later is as it says set months after the intitial breakout of the virus. It opens showing us what happened with the character played by Robert Carlyle (I love this guy so much) set to a slightly altered version of In a Heartbeat (Oh yeah!!) It then cuts to 6 months later, the virus has pretty much died out and there's an awesome plan to start repopulating a section of London with the help of the US army. A good'd think. But alas things go tits up and off we go again.

I do just want to say... hello, Jeremy Renner. He caught my eye in an episode of Angel and then he just kept popping up in all sorts. Anyway, he plays one of the army guys and looks very good doing it. He has a big gun *nods*. I'm getting distracted. This movie is every bit as good as the first, but the tone is a lot different. The first was more creepy, fewer people with surprise bursts of violence. This is just a whole bigger thing, a lot more action once it gets going and more people around to get caught up in the ensuing chaos. Zombies or not, these are bloody great films :)

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Zombies! #4

Todays blog is over at RJ Scott's blog where I talk about three of my favourite things: Romance, Zombies, and Strong Female Characters.

Find the post here

Friday, 3 August 2012

Zombies! #3

Post 3 in my countdown to the release of Dead Things on 11th August.
So, I'm going to start by posting an excerpt from the start of the book. Meet Devin Reid...

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Zombies! #2

2. Night of the Living Dead.

Ah, a classic.

Johnny: They're coming to get you, Barbara, there's one of them now!

This must be the oldest zombie movie I've ever seen (or that I at least remember seeing), but it definately wasn't the first. Even today, forty odd years on, it's still a decent movie. Okay, for the Hostel generation it might not be quite enough gore and guts, but there are still some pretty decent scares/tension and death/being eaten scenes.

Field Reporter: Chief, if I were surrounded by eight or ten of these things, would I stand a chance with them?
Sheriff McClelland: Well, there's no problem. If you have a gun, shoot 'em in the head. That's a sure way to kill 'em. If you don't, get yourself a club or a torch. Beat 'em or burn 'em. They go up pretty easy

The zombies are slow - but strong and gradually more and more of them. They are menacing just because they won't go away and linger around looking hungry, and as is the unfortunate case with human beings, the people trying to survive make mistakes. Just happens that make a mistake in this movie and you turn yourself into a snack before you can say 'zombie apoalypse'! I really like how 'real' it's made to feel with the documentary style addition of reports from newscasters and interviews with scientists and the groups going out to try and kill the zombies as our survivors watch the TV and listen on the radio. The group themselves is a crazy mix of men and women, each is a little sterotypical, the hero, the coward, the sick one, the hysterical one, the silly bloody woman that should have stayed inside *shakes fist* but I suppose being stuck in a farmhouse with a bunch of people you don't know and surrounded by a zombie horde might make you a little gaga.

Ben: They know we're in here now.

Ben, the hero, is certainly the standout character for me - he is the one most in control of himself and obviously back in the day, having a black guy playing the lead was an exceptional thing indeed. 
Anyone who cals themselves a zombie or horror fan will have seen or needs to see this movie. It's great stroy telling and first in a fantastic series by Romero. A must for all fans. It's harrowing and has an ending that seriously, in it's own messed up way, is bloody brilliant.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Zombies! #1

My first full length novel is out on the 11th August. Dead Things is a contemporary romance story set in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. I am a fan of the horror genre and I hope to write in either the universe of Dead Things again, or delve into other strands of horror - werewolves and vampires (of the NOT sparkly kind) are two of my faves, along with monster movies like Lake Placid, Piranha, Crocodile etc. And you have to love mutant mountain men. Two of my watch over and over movies are Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes (remake). Coming back to zombies, in the lead up to Dead Things release I wanted to share with you some of my particular favourites from the world of movies. Some are classic zombie flicks, some modern takes on the genre, and some that aren't zombies in the strictest sense, but are certainly stylized on them. So, ten days and ten favourites:-

1. Resident Evil.

Red Queen: You're all going to die down here.

The Resident Evil movies are a mixed bag for me. As a fan of the games, especially the second one, I was really excited about the release of the first movie. And though I know not everyone will think the same, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've loved Milla Jovovich ever since seeing her in The Fifth Element (multipass!) and Alice has been a great character for her. I love a lady that can kick ass and look good doing it. Michelle Rodriguez has also become a favourite of mine, and Rain was also a kick ass character. James Purefoy (be still my heart) and Eric Mabius (not bad) added a little eye candy for me, the soundtrack was heavy and rocking and yet damn creepy at times, and get the zombies up and roaming and moaning and I was squeeing like a little girl with the latest Barbie :P

Rain: All the people that were working here are dead.
Spence: Well, that isn't stopping them from walking around.

There's just something about reanimated corpses that is nicely creepy. Okay so one zombie grunting his way toward you might not be all that scary (depending on the zombie universe he's from - some amble, some are pretty spry for dead guys), but the damn things lurk in dark corners, and get them in a pack and you're kinda screwed. I love gore - intestines being pulled from stomachs. I love jumps and scares and atmospheric scenes. Resident Evil was a nice update on the genre and something a bit different to the many B-movies that continue to come out. It was a great start to the series of movies - action, a zombie virus and an explanation of its origin, strong and capable lead characters, zombie dogs, mutated zombie beasties, and the movie pulled in some of the elements of the games that made them so awesome.

J.D.: I shot her five times. How was she still standing?
Rain: Bitch isn't standing now.

I really love this film. The character of Alice in her original form was perhaps my favourite version of her throughout the movies. I have enjoyed the sequels to the film, mostly - 2 fell a little short, 3 got better, and 4 built on that (maybe it was Wentworth Miller that helped, oh and the 3D lol, or more likely the return of Alice as I wished she'd been all the way through *whispers* normal) I think in the end, when it comes down to it, I just bloody love zombies. I think they are perhaps a guilty pleasure as I have seen some downright terrible movies over the years (I have the Horror Channel on Sky lol) but I just can't help but watch LOL.