Sunday, 24 July 2011

“So you’ll be giving up the day job then ...”



Clinging to the notion that I may still be classed as ‘middle-aged’ (although I think the chances of me reaching 114 are, to put it modestly, remote), I have, for most of my years, wanted to be a published author.  In common with so many others who are reading this, I have sweated over a hot keyboard, drafting, re-drafting, editing, tweaking, anguishing and, finally, daring to send my work off to agents and publishers, only to face the disappointment of (yet another) rejection.

Then, one glorious day in April, the email of my dreams arrived telling me that Etopia Press wanted to publish my ghostly short story, ‘In My Lady’s Chamber’, as an e-book. Much leaping up and down, Facebooking, Tweeting, Texting and general celebration followed and, soon afterwards, the editing rounds began. Only those crazy enough to be writers can even begin to guess how much work, time and effort go into the polishing of 6,500 words, let alone 30,000 or 60,000+.

A few weeks later and the incredible happened – my story was published, people are now buying it and are very kind.

Then an even more amazing thing happened. Another publishing contract arrived, for my novella ‘Cold Revenge’, followed almost immediately by two more contracts - this time from Gypsy Shadow – for my short stories, ‘Say A Little Prayer’ and ‘The Dust Storm’.

By now, the celebrations and leaping up and down have reached epic proportions and people I work with and know, are starting to wonder how long I’ll carry on working.

“When are you giving up the job then?”

“Sorry?”

“Well now you’re an author you won’t need to go out to work, will you?”

“Um, well, I do actually.”

Looks of incredulity follow…

I know I don’t need to tell anyone here that, far from adhering to Dr Johnson’s pronouncement that, ‘No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money’, most of us think of the royalties we may one day receive as a welcome bonus.  I will be delighted to earn some money from my stories and thank each and every reader who buys a copy, but I am also realistic. I write because I need and want to, and I don't expect to match my current salary with my earnings from it. 

So, much as I would like to give it up, I’ll keep the day job – for now at least.

Of course, should Spielberg ever want to make a film of ‘In My Lady’s Chamber’, I could have a rethink…

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Cats and Writing...

...generally don't go together.

I should explain.

Being a passionate ailurophile, there is nothing I like more than curling up with a good book and a purring Mimi on my lap. There is nothing I like more than having her around, with her affectionate nature, big green eyes and soft tortoiseshell fur. 99% of the time, she is the loveliest cat you could ever wish to have - except when I'm trying to write.

It is then that she attempts to convince me - by fair means and not-so-fair - that giving her chin a tickle, stroking her and preferably accompanying all this with an afternoon snack, is far more important than finishing that chapter I am desperate to complete.

It all starts innocently enough. Mimi jumps up on the table next to me and purrs with a decible level roughly equivalent to a Harley Davidson. I type on. Next comes the head-butting as she nudges against my left arm, invariably resulting in a major typo and exasperated cry of "Mimi!". She usually answers this with a chirruping miaou somewhat swallowed in the continuing purr. I type on. Then she places a tentative paw on my desk, perilously close to the keyboard. "Mimi", I warn and she may remove it. Momentarily. I type on.

A few minutes pass while I can almost hear the whirring of a thousand furry thoughts as she hatches a plot for final victory. I type on.

Then, without warning, a furry body inserts itself between me and the keyboard. "Mimi!" I cry as the page scrolls up faster than the lift on the Donauturm (and that's pretty fast!). Gibberish spews out over the page.

A serious and determined furry face turns towards me. "Mrrroowww!"  she says.

And wins.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

"Dreaming Not Sleeping" - an interview with Julia Kavan

Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Julia whose Horror/Erotica Short Story, ‘Dreaming, Not Sleeping’ is published by Etopia Press.
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:

‘Her nightmares were simply too good to resist.

A woman is tempted away from the safety of her husband’s arms by a skillful nighttime visitor. But they both find nothing is what it seems…’
 CatherineWelcome Julia and congratulations on a truly original and unnerving story. I loved it!
Julia: I’m glad you enjoyed it, Catherine!

Catherine:  What made you start writing and when did you begin?
Julia: I was very much a daydreamer as a child, and spent a lot of time in my own head. Up until I was a teenager I also enjoyed performing in school plays and village events. Then shyness struck and, rather than stand up in front of others, I preferred to write – and let others read it in front of an audience! That also gave me the opportunity to see how others reacted to what I was writing – and I liked making them laugh. (I haven’t always been this spooky!) I started to experiment with my writing in other ways too – however that was discouraged and I stopped writing completely for a period of time.
I picked it up again around ten years ago – and was asked to teach a local creative writing class. I’ve been doing that for at least one term every year since. At the same time I was writing screenplays and I started writing a novel. As teaching became more paperwork heavy I had less time to write. I started seriously concentrating on writing to be published a couple of years ago. E-publishing has been an exciting development and I hope I continue to have my work published in this way.

Catherine: In addition to ‘Dreaming Not Sleeping’, I read an excerpt of a novel called ‘While Yet A Boy I Sought For Ghosts’ on your website (www.JuliaKavan.com). I found it beautifully written and intriguing. Can you tell us more about it?
Julia: While Yet a Boy is the novel I started and put away - a supernatural mystery set in the fens and forests of East Anglia, in the UK. The main character, Nick, is a forensic artist. His half brother went missing when Nick was a teenager and he feels guilty about his role in his disappearance. His career was a way to assuage that guilt - however it became a kind of torture for him, so he gave it up to teach art. When an old friend and detective calls on him to assist in identifying the remains of a boy – he feels duty bound to help... but his world goes haywire when his long buried gift of clairaudience resurfaces.   

Catherine: That’s very much my kind of story! When you start to write something new, do you begin with a blank sheet of paper and just dive on in there, or are you more of a planner?
Julia: Stories usually churn around in my mind for a while before they make it to paper (or screen). I’m also very likely to start writing the middle of a story if my mood when I sit down to write fits that section better. I should probably be more disciplined and start at the beginning! My stories are constantly in the back of my mind when I’m away from my desk too. I often write with pen and paper rather than straight on to the computer. It helps me get a feel for the story, somehow.

Catherine:  What are you currently working on?
Julia: I am polishing While Yet a Boy and I’m also working on a couple of short stories in a completely different genre, which has been fun – and a bit of a learning experience. I have no idea if they will ever see the light of day!

Catherine: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get their story published?
Julia: Write what you love and don’t try to guess the next ‘big’ thing. Take note of the ‘rules’ – but bend them if required. Don’t give up.

Catherine: If you had your own TV chat show and could interview 3 people (living or dead), who would they be and what would you want to talk about?
Julia: It would probably be the quietest chat show ever! I’d like the chance to talk to Clive Barker because I love The Hellbound Heart. Neither living or dead – Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre. I think he’d be a challenge, and I like a challenge! Actually.... I think I’d let him ask the questions. And... Joss Whedon. I was a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – even though I refused to watch the first episode – why would I want to watch something featuring vampires and a cheerleader? His writing was very clever and the ensemble cast worked brilliantly well – they won me over (and Angel might have had something to do with it!). He also created The Gentlemen – the scariest screen ‘monsters’ I think I’ve seen. Although there is that hideous Chucky doll thing..
.
Catherine:  Sounds like a first-rate show! Thank you very much for joining us today, Julia. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your book? 
Julia: Thanks for having me, Catherine. You can find me rambling on my website, which you’ve already mentioned , and you’ll also find interviews with some of my fellow Etopia Press authors there. I’m also on Twitter  www.twitter.com/seneca24 and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/julia.kavan
Dreaming, Not Sleeping is available from:
Amazon:
Etopia Press:
Smashwords:

Here’s an excerpt to give you just a flavour of ‘Dreaming Not Sleeping’:

Forgive me.

It was a kiss that brought me here. Soft and gentle. It ripped away my breath and tore away my soul. Now I can’t find my way back. I don’t want to find my way back. I hope you understand.

First, there was a single word whispered close to my ear—sweet and warm. Come. I smiled at the nuance and turned towards the voice but, when I opened my eyes, all I saw was the silhouette of my sleeping husband, his back towards me. I closed my eyes again and sank into fitful sleep. Come. Farther away now. Enticing. Promising something else. Something new. I chased the voice through fleeting dreams, trying to see who was speaking—but he stayed just out of reach, out of sight, a teasing phantasm, hiding around corners and whispering from the dark. I awoke frustrated, wanting more.

Daylight and real-life humdrum were enough to break the last tethers of fantasy clinging to my soul. The sound of the voice faded away with the day, drowned out by tedious chatter. But the thrill of the chase stayed with me, a gentle pulse between my legs keeping time with my heartbeat. I wanted to hear his voice again. I wanted to return to the dreamscape and hunt him down. Make him follow through on everything that single word promised. I wanted night to return so I could find him again, in the dark. Ridiculous! It was simply a dream.

Anticipation carried me to bed at night. I tried to grasp a memory from that first dream, to recapture and hold the voice in the hope that I could perhaps summon its owner forward from the recesses of my mind. When my husband reached for me in the dark, I pushed his hand aside. All I wanted to do was close my eyes and listen.

Come with me.

Yes!

“Let me see you,” I said.

Come with me and you will.

I tried to follow, stumbling as I chased the shifting form in front of me. He laughed, but still I followed. It was hopeless. I couldn’t catch him. He vanished. And I crumpled...

Monday, 11 July 2011

Gypsy Shadow is Publishing Two of My Short Stories!

Today could have been a bit of a wash-out as, having suffered raging toothache all weekend (still wrote 6500* words of my new novella!), I had an emergency dental appointment and emerged an hour later minus one very naughty tooth and under strict instructions to go home and take it easy for the rest of the day.

But then, something wonderful happened and it all changed.

Gypsy Shadow wants to publish my paranormal short story 'Say A Little Prayer' and my futuristic short 'The Dust Storm'. 

Thank you Denise and Charlotte and I look forward to working with you!

  http://www.gypsyshadow.com/default.html

( *Can't vouch for the quality of the 6500 words though, as they may well be the product of a Nurofen induced haze!)

Saturday, 9 July 2011

5 Star Reviews on Amazon

I am so delighted that these kind readers have enjoyed 'In My Lady's Chamber' and have given it such lovely reviews. You can read them here: Amazon.com

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Haunted Heart by Carolyn Rosewood - Out Now!

All Rowena Sommers wants is a quiet life away from Hollywood gossip and her vicious Oscar-winning ex-boyfriend Brett Fontaine. Her career and reputation in a shambles, thanks to Brett, Rowena returns home to restore her ancestral home and soak up some familiar, hometown sympathy. But having won a twenty-million-dollar defamation suit against Brett hasn’t endeared her to the hometown fans, and the man she’s hired to restore the old home is none other than the ex-jock who used her cruelly in high school to win a bet. And now a paranormal investigator is telling her the place may be haunted.


Van Whitney is no stranger to gossip. He's been struggling to keep his family's restoration business afloat, and when he agrees to restore Rowena's home, he vows to keep their relationship professional. His childhood friend has become a beautiful, sexy woman, but she attracts gossip like flies to honey. When strange things start happening at the house, Van discovers secrets upon secrets, and a plot that may be other than it seems. But his attraction to Rowena might be more dangerous than anything from the past…


Had to share this with you. It's the latest from Carolyn Rosewood, whose previous work includes 'The Last Soul. Published yesterday, by Etopia Press, here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:


“What are you doing here?” she asked in a quiet voice.


“Is that any way to greet an old friend?” He took another step closer and she actually flinched. A whiff of perfume, musky and warm, floated past his face.


“Old friend?” She crossed her arms. “Van, the last time we had an actual conversation I was fifteen.”


“What are you talking about? We’ve known each other all our lives.” What the hell was wrong with her? Living in California certainly hadn’t done her attitude any favors. Probably thought she was too good for this place now.


Her gaze turned defiant. “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten high school.”


Most of high school was a blur of occasional touchdowns and an endless string of willing cheerleaders. He’d only gone out with Rowena two times, and both dates had been nothing more than a ruse. “Rowena, it was a long time ago.”


She uncrossed her arms and her gaze softened, but only a little. “Not long enough for some of us.”


“What does that mean?”


Van became even more confused when she didn’t answer. What was her problem?


“Didn’t Mike tell you he called me?”


“No. He only told me a contractor would meet me here this morning.”


“That’s me. We’re the only game in town.”


“I can’t hire you, Van. This will never work.”


“Why not? We’ve been friends since childhood. Anyone else will charge you three times what I will.” He hated the begging quality his voice had taken on, but he needed this job. Mike had given him the impression this was a done deal. Just show up and give her a quote. Then again, Mike was an idiot.


“What you charge has nothing to do with it,” she said.


Must be nice to be so blasé about money. She’d turned into a rich bitch out there in California. “Then at least let me take a look inside and see what needs to be done. That way you won’t get ripped off by someone trying to pad the estimate.” And then he’d find Mike and strangle him.


She kicked at a loose pebble with the toe of her sandal, and he tried not to stare at her painted toenails, chocolate brown, to match that tank top. “Van, I’m having trouble picturing your business as stable.”


His palms started to sweat and he took a deep breath to slow his heart rate. The story of his uncle Mark embezzling company funds had made the papers outside of Creek Ridge, but he wasn’t sure how far outside. How much did she know?


“I guess Jake’s been keeping you up to date on things here.” Jake had moved to Chicago to attend college right out of high school and still lived there. But since he’d been closer to Rowena than to any of her other siblings, he imagined they still kept in touch. Then again, Mike could have told her the story of Uncle Mark.


She looked into his eyes, and a wave of guilt washed over him. The look on her face wasn’t Hollywood rich bitch. It was his childhood friend. It was the innocent high school freshman he’d asked out on a date merely to win a bet. He owed her an explanation about the business, at the very least.


He cleared his throat. “Rowena, the papers made a lot of unfounded accusations when all that stuff about my uncle came out. We’re struggling in this economy like everyone else, but the business is sound.”


“You don’t understand,” she said, frowning. “This is Aunt Loony’s house. I don’t want a bunch of your football ex-teammates getting drunk and screwing it up.”


“Why would you think that?” He’d assumed she was talking about the stuff in the papers. Didn’t sound like it.


She held his gaze. “It’s what you did. Hang out with the team, drink a few beers, and occasionally cause some minor vandalism for shits and giggles.”


He hadn’t realized he was holding his breath until a sigh escaped. “That’s all over now, Rowena. No drunkenness on the job, no vandalism, minor or otherwise. My crew works hard.”


“Leopards don’t change their spots.” Her voice sounded bitter, tight. Was she talking about him, or her Hollywood ex-boyfriend? If the tabloids were accurate, he’d trashed her reputation and her career because she’d had it out with him over his cheating. He couldn’t fault her for being hurt. And if the stories were true, Brett Fontaine had it coming to him. But that had nothing to do with this job, or with him.


“I’m a different person now, Rowena.”


“Not sure I can believe that.”


“I’m confused. Are you refusing to hire me because of what my uncle did, or because of the way I acted in high school?”


Her eyes cut to a spot behind his shoulder, and her tan couldn’t hide the sudden flush on her cheeks. He didn’t understand her reaction. She was a celebrity. Way out of his league. She could wallpaper several rooms of Aunt Loony’s house with all the magazine covers she’d graced.


“Jake told me they recovered all the money your uncle stole.”


“That’s right. And my father repaid the customers who were shorted because of it. Rowena, this house means a lot to me too. At least let me give you a quote. I hate the idea of you getting ripped off by a stranger.”


------------------------------------------

Now all you have to do is click on the link below and in a few minutes, 'Haunted Heart' will be yours!

http://www.etopia-press.net/shopping/pgm-more_information.php?id=50&=SID