Category Archives: Writing

Leila Adams talks Offering

This is a post I’ve really been looking forward to writing. I met Leila Adams through Wattpad and since then she has become an amazing friend and supportive cheerleader, so I’m incredibly excited that she is finally beginning her true writing journey with the release of her debut novel, Offering.

Tell us what Offering is about.

Olivia’s long-distance boyfriend is on a plane to San Francisco, and she can barely contain her excitement as she plans their passion-filled weekend.  This could be the turning point in their relationship. Having spent a lifetime avoiding emotional entanglements, she is torn between her heart and her common sense. Lust she can handle; love is dangerous for someone who has secrets to keep.

On a cursed night long ago an ancient vampire made a terrifying promise to Olivia, and then abandoned her in a world that was not her own. Forced to find a new way to survive, she has finally found peace in her life and hopes the pledge is forgotten. When a bouquet of black calla lilies appears outside her door, she knows her time is up, and the vampire intends to keep his promise.

Unforeseeable complications from the blood star ceremony take Olivia in a new direction. She finds herself and those she holds most dear under attack. As her dark secrets are revealed, the threads that bind her carefully constructed world begin to unravel.  She must face the heartbreaking truth when the unthinkable happens. The choice she makes now will determine not only her fate but the fate of those she loves.

What the hardest part about writing this book?

The hardest part about writing Offering was finding the time. I started the story in 2008 when I was still teaching. It took me five years to complete the book. On the positive side, I learned what kind of writer I am. I am definitely more of a percolator than plotter or pantser. Taking my time gave me the opportunity to figure out where and how to foreshadow elements of the second and third book in the first one, and possibly avoided some rewrites.

What do you consider the hardest part about writing in general?

I think all writers face the same problem: balancing writing with demands of work and family.

You first published Offering on Wattpad – how much has the final version changed?

The published edition of Offering didn’t change at its heart. I thinned it out, removed excessive description, as well as story-lines and backstory that didn’t move the plot forward. The Wattpad version exceeded 150K words and I shortened it to 119K. By all standards it is still quite lengthy. I also clarified questions readers brought up in Wattpad comments.

Did you find it easy to edit or did you have to force yourself to be ruthless?

Editing is murderous. I have no difficulty cutting excess story, but I find the process incredibly tedious and slow. There were, however, a few parts of the book I hated to delete. They were gems that shined for me. Eventually I will post them on my website as ‘extras’.

Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write this novel?

I hate to admit it but Twilight inspired me to write Offering. When I walked out of the theater after watching the movie, I told my husband the story was written wrong. It should have been (Offering story-line). He said, “You should write that.” I doubt he thought I would, but I did. What I realized in the process was that I wanted the adult version of a similar story, one that included the vampire aspect, but also mystery, romance, and a modern day crime element.

What does your typical writing day look like?

When I’m actively writing, I tend to write in the mornings and late at night. I will squeeze in every available moment. If I didn’t have other demands on me, I could sit at my computer for hours on end and never grow tired. I do take breaks between books to revitalize. That’s important, not only for the mind but the body also.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Upon reflection, I would say that when I’m not writing, I’m creating. It might be in 2D form, like writing a story, or working on a graphic image, or a 3D project, like tiling a floor, building a fireplace mantle, or plastering a wall. I also love to have families and friends over for dinner parties. I can spend hours creating the perfect red velvet cupcake. I have frosting tips and a nail gun, and I’m not afraid to use them.

What made you decide to go down the indie publishing route?

Offering is a book about vampires. I pitched the story to several agents in 2013 and 2014, at the San Francisco Writers Conference and heard the same refrain from all of them. They couldn’t sell vampire novels to publishers. They wanted new and fresh stories the public had never heard before. Interestingly, at the conference, I also learned about Wattpad, the reading/writing site. I uploaded my story as a test to see if people liked it. While I respect the gatekeepers of the publishing industry, they are not always right, and there have been breakout indie authors who have done well. For me, self-publishing made the most sense.

What challenges have you faced?

There are several huge challenges to publishing on one’s own. Had I chosen to publish using Smashwords, Bookbaby, or a similar company, they would have edited the book and designed a cover for a fee. Because I had already purchased my cover, I decided to do the editing on my own, with the aid of several programs and a few proofreaders. But, I think the biggest challenge in self-publishing is visibility. And marketing drives visibility. Even if you have written the next bestseller, unless readers know it’s out there, they can’t buy it. The marketing aspect is one I have only just begun to explore.

What do your family/friends think of your writing?

My family and friends are excited for me. My author friends are perhaps a bit more enthusiastic, though.

Have you encountered any negative reactions to either your writing or your chosen publishing route? If so, how have you dealt with it?

My first answer to the question is: No, I have not. My friends, family, and Wattpad readers have all been very positive and encouraging. After years of careful consideration, I decided self-publishing was the best choice for me. Perhaps there are bigger questions here. Will I encounter negative comments and reactions, and why would that happen? No doubt, I’ll run into derogatory remarks one day. We have all seen articles that want to delegitimize self-published books. Some people think if it doesn’t have a big publisher’s name on the cover, it can’t be worthy. Unfortunately, publishers are seldom willing to take chances on unknown authors like me. But, demonstrating sales growth, an expanding reader base, and future sales potential could influence a publisher when considering my work in the future. As the market evolves, and and it certainly has over the last five years, writers can take advantage of the changes, too. I feel this is a win-win situation for everyone. I establish myself, hopefully creating a path forward in my career, and I give the public more choices, letting them decide what they want to read.

What are your writing plans for the future?

I have begun writing the third book in the Blood Star Vampire Series, Redemption, and hope to finish it by the end of the year. The second book, Sacrifice, should be released on Amazon this summer, and Redemption early in 2018. Originally I planned to write three books in the series; but a fourth is likely.

I have two other stories in progress at this time. Opia, a YA psychic thriller, and The Edge of Time, a futuristic dystopian novel. I’m excited about these books and looking forward to writing in the different genres.

Thank you for interviewing me, Bella. It’s been a pleasure talking with you.

Offering is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Want to win a free ebook? Just enter the giveaway. There are three copies of Offering available, so don’t miss this chance to get your hands on one.

OfferingConnect with the author at Wattpad, Twitter, Facebook, or on her website.

Imagines Project

So after a long hiatus due to technical difficulties, we’re finally up and running again, and just in time for some fantastic news.

Simon & Schuster is releasing the world’s first officially published anthology of celebrity imagine stories…and I’m a part of it.

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(For those of you who might not know, an imagine is a very specific type of fanfiction, in which the use of second person narrative literally puts the reader into the protagonist’s shoes.)

I’ll be honest with everyone – before I was contacted about this project, I had never heard of celebrity imagines. It was a brand new concept to me. But when an opportunity like this comes knocking at your door, you learn quickly.

Imagines have taken the internet by storm in recent years, but this is the first time that they will actually be on bookshelves. This is the first time that fans of Norman Reedus, Rebel Wilson, Jennifer Lawrence, Tom Hiddleston and the like can actually walk into a shop and pick up an anthology of officially published stories about their favourite celebrities.

Due to aforementioned technical difficulties, I haven’t been able to blog about this book up until now, but this is the perfect time for the website to be running again, as today is *DRUM ROLL* the release date!!

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That’s right! Today is the day these shiny beauties officially hit the shelves, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll just leave these links as a subtle hint…

Simon & Schuster: http://bit.ly/ImaginesBook

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1SpiXIo

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/232YUBk

Dear Authors: Don’t Listen to Book Snobs

Every once in a while you stumble upon an article that really gets your hackles up. Dear Self-Published Author: Do NOT Write Four Books a Year written by Lorraine Devon Wilke is one such article. Yes, Ramblers, my hackles are well and truly up. I’m bristling like an angry little hedgehog. I realise that it’s been a while since this article was published, but I’m responding to it anyway.

Everyone take a few minutes to read the article.

 

Okay, you done? Good.

So why has this article got all my spikes out? Because of the blatant book snobbery. I cannot stand book snobbery.

Let’s start from the beginning.

‘No matter what experts tell you, no matter what trends, conventional wisdom, social media chatter or your friends in the Facebook writers group insist upon, do NOT write four books a year. I mean it. Don’t.

Unless they’re four gorgeously written, painstakingly molded, amazingly rendered and undeniably memorable books.’

I’m only six lines into this thing, and already that slow burn of anger is gathering in my chest. Last year I read 283 novels. Many of them were very good. Many of them were memorable. Yet I have a feeling that none of them are what Lorraine Devon Wilke would describe as ‘gorgeously written’ or ‘amazingly rendered.’

Don’t get me wrong, Wilke is wholly entitled to her opinion. But the way she has written her article is that her opinion is fact, and should be held in higher regard than the ‘experts’ she dismissed in her opening line.

Six lines into her article and the author has, essentially, dismissed all genre fiction. And that’s where I stand up in righteous anger.

I am honestly so tired of this ugly attitude regarding books. I am so tired of genre fiction being sneered at by so-called literary critics who refuse to understand that, actually, not all books have to be rich in subtext and meaning. Sometimes people just want to read about wizards going to magical schools, or stormy love affairs, or crazy dystopian visions of the future. Sometimes people just want to be entertained. And what is so wrong with that?

In a matter of lines, Wilke has announced that, even if you can turn out four decent books a year – four decent genre books, I might add – then you shouldn’t be writing that many.

Wilke goes on to deride ‘hacks’ and asks, ‘isn’t the whole point of this exercise to write good books?’

Yes, Ms Wilke, it is, but what you can’t seem to understand is that different people have different ideas on what is ‘good’. I think Vampire Academy is a good book. Is it a literary masterpiece? Heck no. Is it damn good ride? Absolutely! I picked the book up because I wanted a fun escape into a world of warring vampires and forbidden love. And that’s exactly what I got. I didn’t pick up Vampire Academy expecting to see a richly textured literary triumph, resplendent with meaning and subtext. I wanted vampires, damnit.

But in Wilke’s view, books like that are no good because they’re not literary.

She goes on to laud Pulitzer Prize winner, Donna Tartt, proclaiming that it took Tartt 11 years to deliver her masterpiece. Now I am in no way deriding the length of time it took Tartt to write The Goldfinch as I am a firm believer in everyone working at their own pace, but if every author took 11 years to write one book then there’d be a lot fewer books in the world. And I for one see that as a very bad thing.

And what of all the authors who don’t want to be Pulitzer Prize winners? Don’t worry, Wilke hasn’t forgotten about us. She goes on to ask what, if we don’t wish to win Pulitzers and be hailed as literary geniuses, is the point of us writing?

The point is that we have stories we want to tell. We have worlds and characters that we wish to share with the world. Not everyone cares about the prizes.

But Wilke doesn’t stop there, oh no. She asks if we just wish to ‘achieve fame and fortune, quality be damned?’

Again, the point she seems to be missing here is that quality comes in many different forms. In terms of what it offers – vampires! Secret romance! Kick-ass heroine! – Vampire Academy is a quality book. I would bet money that Lorraine Devon Wilke doesn’t see it that way.

I will put my hands up and say that I will never be what is considered a ‘literary’ writer. I am well aware of what I can write and what I can’t. I can turn out entertaining genre fiction about ghosts and monsters and witches. I can turn out science fiction about lethal viruses and zombies. I can turn out romances with happily-ever-after endings. I will never be able to write something like Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.

But that’s never been what I want to write. I’ve always wanted to write genre fiction because it’s what I’m passionate about. And yes, I will take offence when some literary snob dismisses a huge percentage of books simply because they are not ‘literary’ and therefore don’t meet some standard that she presents as fact.

What is the point of me writing, Ms Wilke? Because I have stories that I want to share with the world. I don’t give a rat’s ass that my books will never meet your view of ‘quality.’ I write them because they’re fun to write and fun to read, not because I want to win a Pulitzer Prize. If an author’s only reason for writing is to win aforementioned Pulitzer Prize, then what makes them any less of a hack than a genre writer?

Wilke goes on to mock the advice given to authors about producing four books a year, and claims that ‘I’ll bet good money Donna Tartt, Anthony Doerr, and other quality writers aren’t getting that same message from their publishers. First tier, baby.’

At this point, dear Ramblers, I had to fight the urge to reach through the computer screen and hit Lorraine Devon Wilke on the head with a copy of Vampire Academy or Harry Potter or any other great work of genre fiction.

Let me just break down the problem I have with what Wilke has said.

1. She’s essentially saying that if you’re not Donna Tartt or Anthony Doerr then you’re probably not a quality writer.
2. She’s ignoring the fact that some authors do actually write full-time, and rely on the money they make to actually put food on the table, and clothe their kids. These authors wouldn’t survive if they only released one book a year. No doubt these are the ‘hacks’ that Wilke dismissed earlier in her article, but why should they curb their output simply because it doesn’t meet her standards?
3. The whole stuck-up attitude of this piece just makes me clench my fists. Once again battle lines are being unnecessarily drawn in the sand between literary and genre books, and it really makes me sick. Why can literary snobs not just respect the fact that a lot of people are more interested in genre fiction than literary fiction?

Wilke labours under the impression that every book in existence should be a literary masterpiece, one that takes years to complete, one that takes the reader’s breath away with every gorgeously rendered paragraph.

I read a couple of hundred novels each year. If every one of them took my breath away then I’d be dead!

Frankly Wilke’s whole article reeks of literary snobbery. It dismisses genre fiction and genre authors, ignoring the fact that the recent boom in genre fiction has been massively beneficial to the publishing industry, and ignoring the fact that many people – including myself – read and write these sorts of books because they’re entertaining. It doesn’t mean we deserve any less respect or consideration than our literary counterparts.

Know Your Genre

I recently encountered a young author who was in a state of great excitement over her Fantastic Idea. It was fresh and original and no one else had done it yet. If I’m honest I’m usually a tad sceptical of these sorts of claims as just about everything has been done before, but I thought I’d give the author the benefit of the doubt and ask what her Fantastic Idea was.

She told me she was going to write a book…about a mermaid. Yep. The conversation went something like this.

Me: A mermaid?

Her: Yes. It’s completely different to anything that anyone else is doing at the moment.

Me: Really?

Her: Everyone else is writing about vampires and werewolves. No one’s writing about mermaids.

Me: *facepalm*

The young author in question genuinely believed that a mermaid book was a Fantastic Idea that had never, ever been done before.

Riiiiiiight. I kept waiting for her to tell me that no one had yet written books about angels or faeries.

This girl was completely unaware that there are already a lot of mermaid books out there – I can probably name ten just off the top of my head. Basically, she hadn’t done her research. Research isn’t just finding out technical details for your novel – how fencing works or how to fix a car, that sort of thing – it’s reading other books in your genre.The best way to find out what’s been done before is to read.

Read, read, read, and then read some more.

If you think that writing a mermaid book is a completely original idea then you’ll probably end up writing something that’s been done a million times before. When you’re tackling a concept that’s been done so many times, you might want to think outside the box. And one of the best ways to do that is to see what’s already been done. Know your market. Read widely in your chosen genre.

And this isn’t even the first time I’ve encountered something like this. Spending time on the Y!A forums means I’ve come across multiple young authors claiming they are writing a paranormal novel and wanting to know which supernatural creature is more popular – vampire, werewolf, angel, or faerie.

Again, the best way to find these things out is to read books. It’s so simple and yet so many seem to be unaware of it. Seriously guys, read. I can’t stress this enough. You might come up with your Fantastic Idea about angels and demons then read some books in this genre and realise your idea really isn’t that original. In fact, it’s downright derivative.

Don’t panic – it just means you might have to look at your story from a fresh angle.

You can’t do this if you’re not aware of which angel/mermaid/werewolf/insert supernatural creature here books have gone before you. The books in your chosen genres are trailblazers. You don’t have to follow the path they’ve left but you should at least be aware of it.