Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Meet my featured author for February, Maryann Weston





Introducing Australian author Maryann Weston


About Maryann Weston


M.R. Weston (Maryann Weston) is a professional writer, training initially as a journalist and editor. She grew up on a farm in Australia and learnt early that the best adventures in life are the ones you seek out and follow.

She has made it her mission to follow her dreams, including writing novels, and has combined her love of adventure and new horizons with a vivid imagination and ability to tell a good story.

Maryann has a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) and is also a qualified teacher and counsellor, with a Graduate Diploma in Education and a Diploma of Community Services.

She currently works as a journalist, editor and public relations professional and is a mum to three boys. She lives with her family in rural NSW, Australia

Featured book:



Shadowscape - The Stevie Vegas Chronicles:


Stevie Vegas is just your average 12 year old school kid living in suburban Valley Dale, with a passion for skateboarding. He thinks his life is pretty normal...that's until he discovers he's an Illuminator with extra-ordinary mind powers.
Then the Shadowcasters arrive and he's forced into a battle as ancient as time itself, one that pits Illuminator against Shadowcaster: lightbringers against demons.
Stevie Vegas must find a way to steal the source of the Shadowcasters' power, the cursed stones. Only then will he have the advantage in the fight for his life…
Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles is the first book in a trilogy. The second novel is Dawn of the Shadowcasters and will be published by Lodestone Books on 30 May 2014.
Maryann will be working on the final book in the trilogy, Luminous, in 2014.

Welcome Maryann,

What inspires you to write?

I’ve been writing since I was a young girl – my first ‘novel’ at 9 years of age was an adventure story written on pieces of lined paper, illustrated by my school friend and stapled together for everyone to read. After I left school I studied English Literature and Journalism, and then wrote for newspapers so I could make a professional career in writing. Since then I have edited a newspaper, been a communications manager for government and now edit and write for an online magazine and a print magazine. While I have been writing, editing and communicating for a living, I’ve never given up on my dream of writing novels for a living. I have three novels now either published, about to be published or going into production, so I’m on my way to at least giving that lifelong dream a chance. 

Describe your writing schedule and your writing environment?    
             
I’m a mum to three boys and, with my husband Eric, we have a busy home life. I tend to sit in a quiet corner of the family room and write while they come and go around me. In this way, I don’t isolate myself from the family.
I have a busy day job in editing, public relations and journalism, so I write at night and on weekends. I also write in my holidays.
I also grab any solitary time I can to write – when my family are out playing sports or at work and I’m the only one at home. Bliss. I particularly like writing on a grey, overcast day, sitting by the window with a view. I tend to get lost in the clouds...and my imagination.


How long does it take you to write a book?      

   
About 3-4 months generally. I entered National Novel Writing Month in 2013 and wrote my adult novel ‘Belonging Places’ in one month. It was a real experience to push myself like this, and it opened up my creative side with such intensity that the product, my novel, is quite rich. I’m really happy with it. It’s just been edited, and it’s back now with me for sign off. I’ll, hopefully, have this out in the next few months.
I wrote my first published young adult novel Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles in about 6 months and its sequel Dawn of the Shadowcasters in about 4 months. Dawn of the Shadowcasters will be published by Lodestone Books (a division of John Hunt Publishing) on 30 May 2014.
I’m hoping to write the final book in this series, Luminous, early this year.

What part of writing your books do you enjoy most, and why?

I love developing the characters, but I have to say I enjoy developing the plot. That saying that truth is stranger than fiction is so...well, true. I like to bring my own life experiences and observations to my fiction writing. I like to put the twists and turns into the plot, so that the story is fast paced and an interesting read. Sometimes these twists and turns also take me by surprise, particularly when something totally unexpected happens. The other aspect I enjoy is creating an atmosphere through dialogue: tension, surprise and yes, humour too.

What was the hardest aspect of writing your first book? 

I have two other unpublished manuscripts gathering dust on my shelves. That was before I wrote Shadowscape. I think by the time I wrote Shadowscape I’d experimented and honed my craft. I had learned how to bring characterisation, sense of place, plot and dialogue together so that the story flowed smoothly. When I was writing Shadowscape I deliberately revisited everything I’d learnt about manuscript writing, self editing and critiquing, and applied that. I remember rewriting parts of the manuscript and knowing that it was better off for the edit.
I think the hardest aspect of writing any of my books is the time factor. With a busy day job and a growing family, time to write is limited. But I make the most of the time I have because it’s what I love to do.  

 
How do you overcome the daily obstacles that could stand in the way of your writing schedule? 

I make sure I’m organised. That family responsibilities and chores are taken care of early in the evening, so I can have at least 3 hours writing before bed. It’s the same on the weekend. Organisation is the key, and I have been known to turn down a social engagement to sit in front of the laptop instead!

What do you feel makes a successful writer? 

Definitely being a good storyteller. We are a society that is fascinated by stories, whether they are real or fiction and a good story will get people in. Having the ability to write well is the other side of the equation.
The other success factor is persistence. I have found that if you want to make a career in writing and publishing it takes hard work and persistence. I read a great post by author Dean Wesley Smith http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?page_id=860 on what it takes to be a successful indie publisher. It’s a great article and really inspired me, and the bottom line is persistence and getting the books out there. It is quite simple really: Write, promote, publish, write, promote publish and write some more...
It does take hard work and persistence to be a successful writer, but if that’s your ‘purpose’, to share your stories, then it’s worth it.     

What is the best piece of writing advice you have every received?

Writing creatively will always trump writing intellectually. I agree. I try not to over-analyse when I’m writing and let my intuition, visual thinking and life experience guide me. The creativity is what satisfies me.

What advice would you offer to aspiring writers?

Keep at it. Don’t give up. The publishing world is changing daily and there are a lot of opportunities for writers. If you believe in yourself and your book, don’t sit around waiting for a traditional publisher to tell you you’re good enough. Become a publisher yourself and see your writing come to life, and be the driving force behind that.
But do get a good editor before you publish. It’s important to bring the most professional product you can to the market when it’s time to publish.         
  
What do you feel makes a good book?   

I love a good sense of place, but equally strong characters and the relationships between these characters. Now we are heading into plot. Plot is everything.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just discovered American author Dean Koontz whose novels have been described as suspense thrillers. I’m reading Odd Apocalypse and really enjoying the unusual plot.

What is your favourite book and author, and why?
Existential writer Albert Camus because he has a way of speaking the truth, and showing the reader the sometimes absurd in life. Although he has long since passed away, I get the feeling had I ever met him, we would have been like-minded.

What authors have inspired you in your writing career to date?

Stephen King, Elizabeth Gilbert, Harper Lee, Ernest Hemingway, Emily Rodden, Jean Paul Sartre, Virginia Woolfe, Scott F Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Mark Twain, Jack Kérouac, the Bronte sisters, JK Rowlings, DH Lawrence Рmy tastes and influencers are quite varied but then life is full of variety too.

Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles is an awesome title how did you come up with the title and had you decided to write a trilogy before writing the first book?

Shadowscape - The Stevie Vegas Chronicles was always going to be the first book in a trilogy. I came up with the name with a friend after describing the Shadowcasters (demons). I felt there were 3 parts to any trouble we get into in life – whether that is coming up against an adversary or a challenging life event – we meet our trouble and fight against it, then our trouble might get the better of us, and finally we learn to face it, learn from it and eventually conquer it. That is essentially what Stevie Vegas does in Shadowscape (Book 1), meets and fights against the Shadowcasters; the second novel Dawn of the Shadowcasters is where the Shadowcasters have the upper hand; and finally Luminous (Book 3) where Stevie comes into his own power.

As I said Dawn of the Shadowcasters is out on 30 May 2014 through Lodestone Books and I’ll be working on the final book in the trilogy, Luminous, in 2014.


Can you share with us your three favourite lines from the book?


  “Your fear of the unknown creates the anxiety you currently feel Stevie Vegas, yet there is nothing to fear but fear itself.” 

     He felt himself drawn into the dark pools of the stranger’s eyes, into the blackness of them. At the end of a long, dark tunnel he saw a white shimmering light which glowed so brightly Stevie immediately looked away. “That is your core power Stevie Vegas.”

 Stevie skated up to him his face barely an inch away from Barron’s. “I don’t lay down that easily. One more trick and the winner is decided.”

Are any of your characters based on people you know, or who you have met in the past?

Shadowscape is a fast-paced, adventure fantasy for young adult readers. It was written for my son when he was 12 years of age, and an avid skateboarder then. The main character of Stevie Vegas is very much modelled on him. He is also a very intuitive boy, like Stevie.

Have you ever considered writing in other genres?

Yes. Absolutely. I have written Belonging Places which is an adult women’s literature book, and I have an idea for an adult paranormal/thriller brewing which I hope to write at the end of this year. I’m a teller of stories regardless of the genre.

What can we expect to see from you during 2014?

Writing and plenty of it. The third book in the Stevie Vegas trilogy, and an adult book. Two new novels at least. There are also my unpublished manuscripts that might also get a revisit if I have time.

Where can we find more information about you and your books? 


 Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles is available from:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadowscape

For more about Maryann or to contact her on social media:

Twitter: @MaryannWeston
I would like to thank Maryann for her time and I wish her every success with the trilogy.
Please comment below to show your support.

Sarah Jane

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Author Sarah Jane Butfield: Post your favourite line from a book you have writ...

Author Sarah Jane Butfield: Post your favourite line from a book you have writ...:  As I continue to receive emails from people who have read Glass Half Full: Our Australian adventure, I am constantly surprised at the lin...

Post your favourite line from a book you have written or read.

 As I continue to receive emails from people who have read Glass Half Full: Our Australian adventure, I am constantly surprised at the lines they quote as their favourites. Some are funny, some sad and then there are those that immediately take me back to that particular moment in time.
So I was thinking about my favourite lines, and the one featured in the photograph is one of mine, what's yours?



Pop a comment below with your favourites and the names of the books they are from.

Take care and stay happy.
Sarah Jane

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Tales of Istonnia: Quotes & Wisdom

Tales of Istonnia: Quotes & Wisdom: (Please feel free to post these pics on your Facebook pages or wherever. All the images are public domain, taken from  http://pixabay.com  ...

Friday, 17 January 2014

Sarah 'lives the dream.'



I am so excited, a feature on my book in the Toowoomba Chronicle in Queensland.

http://thechronicle.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx#
Book trailer: http://youtu.be/CHyqRtvpv_E
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/378919
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1493773534
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glass-half-full-sarah-jane-butfield/1117494301
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/glass-half-full/id763955449?mt=11
 

Monday, 13 January 2014

How do you read your ebooks?

I had an interesting chat with a new reader of my book this weekend, about the variety of ereaders available and issues with recommending ebooks to friends and relatives on different devices. As Kindle now shares the market place with ipads, iphones, Nook, and an ever expanding range of devices, my question is:

How do you read your ebooks?

As authors we endeavour to make our books available for all to enjoy, and recommend, and we go through many hoops to achieve this. Have we got our bases covered?
Feel free to pop a comment on with your thoughts.


Have a great week :)

SJ

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Meet my featured author for January, Tom Winton.


Introducing the best selling author Tom Winton










About Tom Winton:  

Said to be a man who writes with his pen dipped in his soul, bestselling author Tom Winton has been listed as one of Amazon's Top 100 "Most Popular Authors" in both Literary Fiction and in Mystery, Thriller and Suspense.
Born in New York City, he has done everything from working on a railroad gang in the Colorado Rockies to driving a taxicab in Manhattan. He's been a mailman, a salesman, an entrepreneur and more. Now living in Florida with his wife Blanche and their ill-tempered but lovable Jack Russell terrier Ginger, Tom is working on his sixth book.
Tom's novels have been likened to such classics as Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and more. His titles are Beyond Nostalgia, The Last American Martyr, Four Days with Hemingway's Ghost, Within a Man's Heart, A Second Chance in Paradise, and a short story collection The Voice of Willie Morgan.

My featured book from Tom Winton is 'A Second Chance in Paradise.'

Book description: 

Long Island salesman Sonny Raines has had it. He’s sick and tired of living in a world where wrong always wins over right. Then, on his thirty-ninth birthday, when he loses his job and comes home to the most devastating shock of his life, that’s it. He’s dropping out. 

With nothing left to lose, and little in his pocket, Sonny chucks it all and drives his aging van fifteen-hundred miles to the lower reaches of the Florida Keys. All he wants is to get over his recent losses and simplify his hectic life, and that’s exactly what he thinks he’s doing when he settles on a paradisaical speck of an island known as Wrecker’s Key. While surrounded by the warm aquamarine waters of two tropical oceans, he not only falls in love with the key but also establishes a close bond with the free-spirited locals who call it home. 

But all isn’t blue skies, swaying palms, and coconut oil on Wrecker’s Key. There’s trouble wafting in the warm breezes that caress the island. Although Sonny certainly isn’t looking for romance, he finds himself falling for his next door neighbor. Ex-model Julie Albright just may be the kindest, most beautiful woman to ever grace his eyes, but there’s a snag. She has a small physical flaw that, no matter how hard he tries, Sonny can’t overlook. And his feelings are no secret to Julie. She can read them, and they weigh as heavy on her heart as they do on his. Then things get even worse. One night, under the cover of darkness, danger drifts up the deep, silent currents from the lower keys—serious danger—life and death danger. And Sonny Raines finds himself right in the middle of it. 
 
Welcome Tom and thank you for taking part in my featured author spot.

How long have you been writing? 

All tolled I’ve been writing for eight years now, Sarah Jane. The first four were from 1994 to 1998, when I wrote two books. But after the second one “Beyond Nostalgia” was looked at and rejected by three agents, I disgustedly threw the manuscript into a closet with my first one and wrote nary a word for eleven years. I got back into writing on December 8th, 2009 and have been at it since. I’d tell you why I remember date but that’s a long story.        

What inspires you to write?  

I punch, kick, scratch and wrestle with words because some unknown force inside me demands it. And for some other unknown reason, I feel I have a deeply-rooted personal responsibility to try and put sentences together the best I can. I’ve never done any harder work in my life, and over the years I have done a lot of different things to earn a living. The upside is that, when I finally finish a novel, I get this immense feeling of accomplishment that no other activity on this crazy planet has ever given me.                 

How many books have you written?

Four full-length novels, a novella, and a collection of short stories.             

What genre/s of books do you write?

I’m what I call a “genre-jumper.” Three of my books are actually categorized as romances, but I like to think they are far, far more than all those run-of-the-mill bodice-rippers out there. I also like to think that just like my favorite read of all time, Pat Conroy’s “The Prince of Tides”, my romances have lots of meat on their bones and a slight literary edge. Two of my other books would have to be categorized as Suspense, but I hate like heck having to label them with just one genre also. 

How long does it take you to write a book?

I’d say six or seven months is the norm for me.
              
What was the title of your first book?

The first book I had published (by a publisher by the way) was “Beyond Nostalgia”. But the other one that BN’s manuscript laid in a closet with those eleven years I actually wrote first. Its title is “A Second Chance in Paradise”. Originally called “The Overseas Highway”, I reworked the book for five months last year before changing the title and publishing it just two months ago.  

What was your first book about?

“Beyond Nostalgia” is about two underclass kids who share a world-class love affair only to be ripped apart after just twelve months. For the next two decades the male MC struggles through life and continually kicks down his spirit for committing the grave misdeed that separated them. They are reunited twenty-three years later, when they are both married—him with two children. Do they get back together after missing each other for so long? Ya gotta read the book to find that out.
              
What do you feel makes a successful writer? 

Sarah Jane, in my eyes I haven’t come close to becoming successful yet. Yes, I’ve had quite a few wonderful things happen as a result of my work. All my novels have been bestsellers on Amazon and some in the Barnes and Noble Top 100. I’ve been listed as one of Amazon’s Top 100 “Most Popular Authors” in Literary Fiction and in Mystery, Suspense and Thrillers. I was asked by Wattpad (The largest reading site in the world) to be a featured author, and I accepted. I put my novella “Within a Man’s Heart” up there and in just three months had more followers than International superstar writers Margaret Atwood and Paulo Cuelho—who’d both been on Wattpad for over a year-and-a-half. They have now eclipsed my 20,000 plus followers, but I did blow by them for a while. I have no idea why so many chose to follow me, but it is hugely flattering.          

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yes, keep writing and try to get as many books “out there” as you can. If you can write a good story, and you get enough of them published, you will eventually sell books. You may not get that six-figure contract from a “big 6” publisher, but you’ll sell and possibly in very nice numbers.

What do you feel makes a good book?

Readers expect books in different genres to do different things. When I write—no matter what genre, I try to arrange the perfect words in just the right way so that instead of just reading those words, they will feel them as well. I believe that if I do anything right when I put pen to paper, it’s touching people’s emotions. Fortunately, most of my readers and reviewers seem to agree.              

Do you base your characters on yourself or people you know?

In all my books there’s a lot of me in the leading men. I also draw from my experiences, people I know or knew, and the ideas that constantly whizz around inside my head.

Have you, or would you, consider having any of your books adapted into screenplays, if so which one and why?

Heck yes, Sarah Jane! I’d love for all of them to be made into flicks. Quite a few folks have used the words “very cinematic” when talking about or reviewing my novels.

Which of your books did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Probably “Beyond Nostalgia”. I was working full time back then and wrote whenever I could. Since I’d never been published at that point, I didn’t have to worry about letting down readers who’d enjoyed my earlier stuff. There was no earlier stuff! And I didn’t have any readers! Now I have a bit of a following and I of course love them all.

What stops you from writing?

Occasionally depression, hard times, and when there’s so much clutter in my head that I can’t concentrate.

Have you ever considered writing in other genres?

The funny thing is, when I begin to write a book, just like the title, genre is the farthest thing from my mind. Another tip to aspiring writers I’d like to add here though is “Don’t try this at home.” If you stick to one genre, whether it’s romance, mysteries, graphic novels or whatever, you have a far better chance of being successful. As for me, though, I have a hard enough time coming up with stories that I think are going to be worthwhile enough to invest seven months in. When I get what I call a platinum idea, I’m running with it.

What is your favourite book and author?

As I said earlier, “The Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy. I also LOVE Steinbeck’s little book “Travels with Charley” and Stephen King’s “On Writing” The latter is a must read for anybody who’s even thinking about becoming an author.

What can we expect to see from you during 2014?

I’ve recently taken all my books off Amazon Select and now have them available in many brick and mortar stores in the US. I’ve also got them on hundreds of retail platforms around the world. I want to really go global. My good friend Mark Williams (who, by the way, probably knows more about the book biz than anybody else on this planet) has been encouraging me for over two years to “go for it”. And I feel it’s time I did.

Tom that was an amazingly honest, and genuine interview and once again I would like to thank you for taking part.

For more from Tom Winton visit his website at:



Or visit Tom’s Author Page with his books on Amazon: 


The featured book 'A Second Chance in Paradise' is available at:


Tom’s books on Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/tom-winton


Connect with Tom Winton at: 














Thursday, 9 January 2014

How self published authors reach the ever expanding audience using a variety of ereaders

Before I published Glass Half full on Amazon I had no real concept of how many types of ereaders there were on the market; which ones were the most popular and which distribution channels linked to them.
It continues to be a huge learning curve for me, but every day I learn something new.

As a new indie author, after publishing with Amazon for Kindle and Createspace for the paperback, I was then introduced to Smashwords which has an aptly named process called the 'meat grinder' that you have to successfully battle before your book can be distributed to companies like Apple, B&N, Kobo, Sony etc.
As I said I am still learning, since publishing in November 2013 I am still not fully available on all channels. I have also now publsihed through Bookbaby to give exposure on eSentral, Copia, Gardners, etc. which again takes approximately four weeks to go live after file delivery.

So as you can see there is still a lot of work to do to raise awareness of my book and its availability. If fellow indie authors would like to share their experiences, tricks or tips feel free to comment below.

These are some of the sites Glass Half Full has made it to so far: