"And above all watch with glittering eyes the world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." - Roald Dahl

27 March 2014

Blogs, Blogging and What-Not


For those of you who have been keeping track, you may have noticed that my blog appearance has changed a few times. I had a blue squiggly background, which my husband said made the blogposts illegible. Then I changed it to a beige background with a few birds flying around. That was okay. I kept that for a few months but the beige just became too boring and I felt a desperate need for colour! So I changed it to something with a bright orange background with minimal squiggles. I liked that for about a day and then changed it to the current one - which I love! And I think I will for a long time to come.

As soon as I picked this one, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction at the accomplishment and let out a sigh of relief - as if I'd just ended a gigantic marathon. Isn't that weird, though, that I would feel like that about my blog? In a way, I suppose it's like a little baby that needs to be nurtured. I read one of Jeff Goins blogs which said that his current very successful blog was about his ninth attempt at this craziness. Obviously he got it right this time round, so I don't feel too bad that this is my third.

The thing is, though, that there is an unseen pressure on writers (Indie in particular, I think) to get your name 'out there' in the big wide world. Now I don't know about you, but I certainly didn't learn about blogging at school. I didn't learn it at University either, seeing as I studied Occupational Therapy! Heck, when I was in late high school, we had a PC at home which had Windows 3.0 accompanied by a dot matrix printer. I only learned about the internet when I was in about my second year at University.

But I digress. The point I'm trying to make is that, all-in-all, this is a fairly newish platform for me. In all honesty, I struggle to know exactly what the right thing is to blog about, if there is such a thing. At the moment, I'm doing it by trial and error, hit and miss. Jeff Goins says that we need to find our voice. I'm still trying to find mine. Hopefully one day I'll find that niche and feel the same way about my blog content as I did about the designing of it.

What are your views on blogging? Are you fairly new as well? Do you struggle with finding things to blog about? Please comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

Carmen
x

24 March 2014

STORM Promoters Needed



The Pretoria Writers' Group is requesting hosts for a blog tour of the STORM anthology.
It is an anthology to be published in two volumes (I for fantasy/scifi/dystopia and II for contemporary stories) intended for an adult audience (no erotica).
The tour will be from 11 to 24 May 2014.
If you are interested please email your preference for hosting to
blog.tour.info@gmail.com

Notes:
1. This is NOT my personal email and only messages with STORM HOST in the subject line will be attended to.
2. Please indicate which Volume of STORM you would like to host (or both)
3. Please indicate if you would like to review (either or both) of the Volumes (a limited number of ARCs in PDF will be provided before the tour commences)
4. Please indicate if you would like to interview any of the authors on your blog (please provide the name(s) of the author and your questions in the email)
5. The authors are: Linzé Brandon, Vanessa von Mollendorf, Natalie Myburgh, Carmen Botman, Charmain Lines and Richard Wheeler.
6. The covers, buy links to both volumes, short excerpts of the stories in the relevant anthology (I = 6, II = 4) and the Smashwords author profile links for all the authors will be provided by 7 May 2014.

If you have any questions please include them in the email - thank you.

20 March 2014

When Mental Exhaustion Hits...

This is what I feel like doing right now. It's not yet 9pm, it's a Wednesday, I've only written about 800 words for this week and there are deadlines looming...but this is all I want to do.
 


Sometimes I think I forget that I'm just an ordinary human being. I try to convince myself that I can do everything and all at once. Society has created this expectation, especially for women, that we can have it all. Yes, we probably can, but it does come at a price. In my blog article Writing a Novel While Working Full Time, I described how I managed to do just this; write a novel. It is completely do-able. But sometimes you just need a break. It's true.

Yes, yes. I hear you people tut-tutting out there - what about the ABC? (Apply Bum to Chair, for those of your may be unfamiliar); what about making yourself write something each day?; what about the 500 words a day challenge set by
Jeff Goins? I know, I know.

But I've actually done quite a bit for the year so far, actually, and it's still only March. In fact, I've probably done more in 2014 so far than I did for the whole of 2013. But I'm feeling it - I admit. I am not super human.

I know myself. If I don't write and have a creative outlet, I get cranky and moody. The very same applies when I've pushed myself too far, too hard for just a tad too long. This isn't writer's block - it's just me in a state of mental exhaustion.

Before I reach the point of no return, I think I need to take a break from writing for a two or three days. It always does me a world of good.

So with that, I bid you goodnight, until my next blog. This bit of time 'off' might just help me catch up on some reading.

Carmen

x
 
 

13 March 2014

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Cerece Rennie Murphy


ORDER OF THE SEERS TRILOGY by CERECE RENNIE MURPHY
 


BOOK 1: ORDER OF THE SEERS
 
Order of the Seers
Author: Cerece Rennie Murphy
Publisher: LionSky Publishing
Genre: NA Paranormal
Audio Book Release date: February 5, 2014
Buy Link
: Amazon
Audiobook Sample
eBook Release date: August 30, 2012
Buy Link:
Amazon, B&N
Paperback Release date: September 4, 2012
Buy Link:
Amazon, B&N
 
What would you do if you held infinite power in the palm of your hand?

Order of the Seers poses this question within a story that fuses action, mystery, romance, and adventure in a science fiction novel that keeps you at the edge of your seat.

Order of the Seers begins with the journey of Liam and Lilith Knight, a brother and sister who are hunted by The Guild, a ruthless world organization that seeks to capture and exploit Lilith’s unique ability as a Seer to envision the future.  Soon after they are forced to leave their home, Lilith and Liam discover that she is not alone.  Other Seers like Lilith are routinely kidnapped and enslaved by the Guild for the purpose of consolidating wealth and power around the world.

But from within the organization, Marcus Akida, a captured Seer with powerful visioning capabilities, quietly plots his daring escape with the help of a beautiful and tortured Seer named Alessandra.  When the escaped Seers are drawn to the same remote commune in Iowa as Liam and Lilith, they each find a place where they can rebuild their lives and rediscover their passion for life and love.  As the Guild’s efforts to find them intensifies, the Seers ban together with outlaws from the commune to fight back against the organization that threatens their lives – setting off a chain of events that will unleash the full power of the Seers and change everything we know about the true potential that lies dormant in each of us.

See the Power Within
 
Sample of Chapter 1:
Chapter 1: The End        
           
            Sunday, June 22, 2008 
           
         Liam was losing his patience. “Aw, come on! Are you serious? You can’t want to ride this thing again!”
         Instead of  answering her older brother, Lilli remained in her seat as the Ferris wheel conductor looked on expectantly, hand outstretched and waiting for another two tokens.
         The way Lilli’s skinny arms hugged her book bag while she stared blankly at the pressed metal floor of their “Fairy Land Caboose” made it hard for Liam to stay angry. The sight of her looking so dejected softened him enough to give the conductor his fifth set of tokens in less than 45 minutes. Liam settled back into his seat just as the lap bar clamped down uncomfortably against his thighs.    
        “Lilli, say something. Why’d you drag me out here if you were just gonna sulk? I hate the carnival, you know that.”
        “I know something… okay? Just… trust me. We have to stay here.” Her voice was so low he could barely hear her over the wind-up music that was blaring from the overhead speakers.
        “Did Mom say something to you?”
         Lilli responded to his question with silence and a barely discernable shake of her head back and forth. He tried again.
        “Lilli! Did Mom…?”
        “Yes,” she snapped.
         They both fell silent again as Liam took in the latest weird thing of the day. Lilith Knight, or Lilli as she preferred to be called, had always been strange. Even when she was five, she could beat Liam at chess lazily, without even thinking about it. She would find things and give them to you before you asked for them. Before you, or even she, knew why. Up until recently, he thought she was just a freak. No biggie. All little sisters are like that, he told himself.
          It was only in the past few months that his perception of her began to shift, after her prediction that he would catch his new girlfriend, Krista, kissing his teammate Lance in the locker room after their championship game. At the time, he’d brushed off her premonition as meddling. Krista wasn’t even his girlfriend and his team was 1-1 with the whole basketball season ahead of them.
          He’d forgotten her warning completely until two months later when he ran back into the locker room after winning the championship to get the jacket he’d left behind and immediately smelled Krista’s perfume. When he found them, two thoughts overshadowed the scene unfolding in front of him. The first was that what they were doing wasn’t really “kissing,” though he could see how a sheltered thirteen-year-old would describe it that way. His second thought was that Lilli was right; she was exactly right. He was so stunned by Lilli’s accuracy that he didn’t even bother to disturb them, leaving his new ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend to their business. From that moment, Liam understood that Lilli wasn’t just a freak, or more accurately, that she wasn’t a freak at all. She was special…gifted.
           The sound of Lilli’s sniffling followed by the trembling of her body as she began to cry uncontrollably broke the long silence that had fallen between them. What the…, Liam half-mumbled as his mind swung from irritation to absolute bewilderment. Slowly and deliberately, Liam moved his palms down the front of his face as he fought the urge to shake the truth right out of her and end whatever this was. But he couldn’t. She’s so brittle already, he thought, without any idea as to why. So instead, he reached out to envelop his sister in his arms, trying to soothe her and comfort her from some unknown force.
           “Lilli, it’s all right. I’m sorry, okay? Don’t cry. Just… tell me what’s going on. Why are we here?”
            He tried to wait patiently, to rein in the confusion and frustration that had been piercing through the calm day he had planned for himself when he woke up that morning, as cool and carefree as any sixteen-year-old boy. It was Lilli who had dragged him out of the house before he could even wolf down his second bowl of Honeycombs. “Mom said you have to take me to the carnival. NOW!” She had demanded.
            He had started to head upstairs to launch his appeal when his eye caught his mother’s note on the refrigerator door. “Take Lilli to the fair. NOW.— Love, Mom,” it read. He knew that meant his mother had left the house early; there was no appeal to be made. Begrudgingly, he slipped on his sneakers and grabbed the car keys, all the while wondering if Lilli was still too young to be left at the fair by herself.
            His earlier thoughts of abandonment brought him back to his sister’s form beside him. Not knowing what else to do, Liam simply held her tight as her convulsing turned to trembling, and finally, back to stillness. At the top of the Ferris wheel, she finally spoke. “It’s over now, we can go home,” she whispered.
 

 
BOOK 2: THE RED ORDER
 

Author: Cerece Rennie Murphy
Publisher: LionSky Publishing
Genre: NA Paranormal
Buy Link:
Amazon, B&N















The Quest to Control the Power of the Seers Continues…

After successfully destroying the Guild’s Purification Center in Chicago, The Lost Seers, led by Joel Akida and Lilli Knight, embark upon a world-wide mission to save their kind from the tyranny of the Guild and unveil their greatest weapon – The Restoration Project.  Developed in secret, The Restoration Project has the potential to awaken the supernatural ability within every man, woman, and child on earth and bring down the very foundation of the Guild’s power and authority.

But the Guild has other plans.  Driven by the necessity for control, Crane Le Dieu creates The Red Order, a new league of clairvoyants whose sole purpose is to hunt down and annihilate the Lost Seers.  Without the Guild’s mind-controlling drugs, The Red Order is able to develop its gifts far beyond the capacity to see the future, honing their skills to become the ultimate threat against the Lost Seers.  But the question remains – will the power of The Red Order be enough to defeat them?


The Red Order continues the epic battle for freedom which began in Order of the Seers, revealing the secret motives behind an organization that exists to exploit and a renegade movement that seeks to usher in the next phase in human evolution.

What are you capable of?


Sample of Chapter 1:
 Chapter 1: The Defeated
     
            The fact that Crane Le Dieu had barely escaped with his life less than ten hours ago did nothing to humble his demeanor as he stormed out of the steel-glass elevator, as bold and arrogant as always.  
            “You!” he shouted, pointing his short index finger at the middle-aged Asian woman who sat at the far end of a sea of cluttered work stations that made up the office level of the Guild’s lead Research Facility in Geneva. 
            “Did you hear what happened?  How could you let this happen?” Crane continued as he cut across the open floor plan toward the target of his anger – the woman he was now leveling his deadly gaze upon. 
            But Ming Jhu was all but oblivious to Crane’s approach as she took another long draw from her cigarette and stared at the open email message on her laptop.  As head of Research and Development for the Guild, it was bad form for her to just be sitting there, so indifferent to her superior, as the other scientists around her froze in terror at Crane’s presence.  But she’d been like this for at least the last hour.  Even with the Guild’s lockdown protocol which had them sequestered in their offices at 11 o’clock at night, Crane bursting into their facility yelling demands at her was nothing new.  What felt refreshing was that, for the first time, she didn’t give a damn.  
            It would have been nice, she thought, to have had this objectivity twenty years ago, before she had bartered her life away while most of her other colleagues were being killed.  In the early days of the International Science Team’s research on Seers, Eli Tanner, Gerard Morrow, Willem Knight, Neeva Patel, Hasaam Al Attar, and the other lead scientists had been such good mentors to her that she had considered them family, or so she thought before she watched herself choose self-preservation and advancement over them.  By the time the Guild had asked for her allegiance, she knew Willem Knight and Gerard Morrow colleagues were dead because of their refusal to cooperate with the Guild’s new agenda to catalog and harness new Seers against their will.  At the time, she was just another eager, twenty-nine year old junior researcher, but she had shown tremendous promise and the Guild made their interest in her known as soon as it was clear that most of the Seer Project’s lead scientists would need to be replaced.  With the gift of hindsight and twenty-three years of experience behind her, Ming could almost laugh now at the fact that she had been naïve enough to be more flattered than frightened when Crane came to her apartment to recruit her as part of the new team for R&D.  It was only later that she learned how much blind ambition and stupidity had in common.  
            But Ming’s hubris wasn’t the only thing that kept her with the Guild.  Back then, she had just met Thea Case, was just learning what it meant to find the one person you would do anything for.  In the years that followed, Thea had made most of the despicable things Ming had done bearable, if not quite worth it. The irony of what Ming now knew made the rims of her weary eyes burn with the need to cry, but she refused to do that here.  Instead, she squinted at her computer screen while flicking the ash from her unfiltered Dunhill on the floor, before taking another long deep drag.  And it’s all for nothing now. It’s all for nothing, she thought as she exhaled the smoke from her cigarette and read the email in front of her for the 47th time. 
            M – Got your message and saw the news about the lockdown.  Wish I could have told you this in person, but since I don’t know when you’ll be home I think it’s better to get this out now.  Just came from Dr. William’s office.  I’ve gone into stage four of my cancer.  There’s nothing left to do.  I think it’s time to start letting go.
            Love,
            Thea
            “Do you hear me talking to you?  Are you suddenly deaf?  I know you’ve heard what happened in Chicago.  Andreas and I were lucky to escape with our lives!”  Though Crane was now standing directly behind Ming, his voice had not descended one octave from when he began screaming at her from across the room.  
            “Pity,” he heard Ming say softly.


AUTHOR BIO:
Cerece Rennie Murphy fell in love with science fiction at the age of seven, watching “Empire Strikes Back” at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C., with her sister and mom. It’s a love affair that has grown ever since. As an ardent fan of John Donne, Alice Walker, Kurt Vonnegut and Alexander Pope from an early age, Cerece began exploring her own creative writing through poetry. She earned her master’s degrees in social work and international relations at Boston College and Johns Hopkins School for Advance International Studies, respectively, and built a rewarding 15-year career in program development, management and fundraising in the community and international development arenas – all while appreciating the stories of human connection told in science fiction through works like Octavia Butler’s “Wild Seed,” Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and “The X-Files.” In 2011, Cerece experienced her own supernatural event - a vision of her first science fiction story. Shortly after, she began developing and writing what would become the “Order of the Seers” trilogy.
Cerece lives just outside of her hometown of Washington, D.C., with her husband, two children and the family dog, Yoda.

 

6 March 2014

Accepting Critique




© Kaarsten | Dreamstime.com
When I was a student at University during my first year studying Occupational Therapy, we had individual projects to work on. While I can’t remember the exact details of what it was we had to make, it being some time ago, I do remember, quite vividly, the feedback our lecturer gave to one of the girls in my class, which was as follows: This is the worst piece of crap I’ve ever seen in my life! Needless to say, my classmate left the room in a ball of tears and it took much courage for her to return and face this said lecturer again.

I’m sure you’d agree that this sort of blunt, in your face feedback is harsh and certainly difficult to accept. It is often difficult to draw the line between recognising when your work is being criticised or when you are being criticised as a person. Of course, there is a difference between giving constructive criticism and just being plain mean. Some people just have to work a bit harder at finding it. I myself am partial to being gently critiqued, as I’m sure we all are, however, we are not always necessarily in control of this.

I’ve sent my manuscript to a number of traditional publishers and whenever I see the response email in my inbox, I have to set the scene before I actually open it up to read it. I need to be in a quiet area, alone (just in case it’s a ‘no’ and I have a bit of a meltdown) and in full concentration mode. I tell myself that whatever it says, positive or negative, I just have to be a big girl about it and deal with it. It’s easier said than done, of course. No matter how hard I try to brace myself for the worst, the fact that someone doesn’t like something that I’ve written, something that I’ve poured hours into, my heart and soul into, can be quite a blow to one’s ego. But I’ve learnt that the initial defence technique of Bah, what do they know? is probably a necessary stepping stone towards Step 2, which is actually going back to that same email a day or two later and reading it with fresh eyes. Very often you’ll find that, if you take a step backwards from your work, you’ll agree with the feedback. Pushing the pride and brooding aside, you’ll realise that if you really want to improve your writing, the best thing to do is accept the critique openly and decide what you’d like to do with it.

Now while I’ve had some very good practice at dealing with negative feedback, while I was writing my STORM stories (The Icarus Curse & Dahlias and Daisies) I received good feedback, which threw me slightly, I’ll admit. People actually liked my work, which was brilliant! But a strange thing happened – I’ve now become slightly paranoid – mainly about being able to produce more stories that people will like. I thought I wanted good feedback, but now I have a growing fear that what if it never happens again?!

I suppose the moral of this story is to learn to be ready for and to be receptive to all kinds of critiques we receive, be it good or bad. Once we have books out in the big wide world for people to purchase and read, remember, they’ll be able to leave reviews about your work as well, so I suggest that we all make use of the time while we’re still trying to get our work out there, to also get used to the feedback. We writers are a strange bunch. We moan when we get bad feedback; we even moan when we get good feedback. Hard creatures to please, aren’t we?

 

1 March 2014

A STORM is Coming!

STORM Volumes I & II - get it at a discounted price until 30 April 2014 only!!
Hurry, hurry, hurry!
 
Multi-author, multi-genre anthology - a project of the Pretoria Writers' Group.
 
I will have a story featured in each of the Volumes: The Icarus Curse (dystopian) in Volume I and Dahlias and Daisies (drama) in Volume II.
 
So to all of you who said you'd like to read some of my work one day - well, here's your chance! Message me, leave a comment after this post, contact me on Facebook, etc.

Remember, this special offer is for SA residents only. For those of you who are non-SA residents, both volumes will also be available in e-book format.
 
THERE ARE ONLY 60 DAYS LEFT - DON'T BE LEFT DISAPPOINTED!
 
Thank you for supporting Indie Writers