Maria_David

Maria_David
As his face changes, her fate unfolds. The Mirrors of Fate: Out of the Past (Book 1 to The Mirrors of Fate Trilogy). Click on the pic for e-outlets.

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Wedding the World Watched


Congratulations to Kate Middleton and Prince William! I tried to stay up until 3 am my time to watch the wedding, but fell asleeeeeep! Aaaaargh! But I woke up just in time for the rush to Buckingham Palace and the two kisses on the balcony. Not mega swoon-worthy kisses, but the second one was much better. The first kiss was just a bashful warm up ;-). Who wouldn't be a bit bashful in front of hundreds of thousands of people at your wedding? Adorable couple. *Sigh* I think when I was a wee lass I imagined marrying Prince William one day! lol  ;-). Ah well, as a CNN anchor just said, "Prince Harry is still available!" Haha ha!


Now I go back to watching the wedding rebroadcast. I wish these two all the best! In case any of you are trying to find some of the best links on the wedding and video, I've gathered some of them for you. Be sure to comb through 'em.

 For a Rebroadcast of the wedding and proceedings. The Royal Family's official Youtube channel
 
Royal Wedding Highlights (courtesy of the Telegraph)


Kate Middleton's Wedding Dress in Pictures

The second BETTER kiss video

A throwback to the Charles and Diana. (video kiss and procession)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Small Tips that Help in a Big Way


I always pass on good advice.  It's the only thing to do with it.  It is never any use to oneself.  ~Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband, 1895

 


The writing process can be arduous and frustrating, but it can also be fun and relaxing if you allow it to be. Here are some small helpful tips that might help in a big way once you pick up your pen or start typing your next novel on that keyboard. They're reminders that help me out in a big way. Here are some quick do's and dont's.


- DON'T get bogged down by the speed at which others write. You've heard writers boast they've written Lord of the Rings length novels in 6 weeks. You've heard others say the only way to write an effective novel is by going slow, perhaps taking months or years.  

-DO figure out what speed works for you. Everyone is different and every book and every story has different needs. Just because someone got through writing a chapter in one day doesn't mean your 1000 words or 500 words a day isn't significant. When you're inspired to write, then write. The more time you spend worrying about someone else's progress is the less time you'll have to make your own. And remember, some of you out there are mommies or fathers or have other time-consuming professions. You have to determine what works for your individual situation, even if someone else seems to making "better progress".

- If you're a fast writer, DON'T make any apologies for it. Some people just have a natural ability to get their thoughts out quicker and require less editing. But DO take time out though to ensure that you're still fast but effective, not zipping through your outline or sacrificing the quality of your work to just "get that book on the market as fast as possible". Yes, you want to see your name coming up several times on Amazon, Smashwords and the like. But rushing writing a book is like rushing baking a pie. It's still edible, but do you really want to dig in once you slice that sucker open and see the inside? Probably not.

 -Feel like your novel pace is too slow? Too haphazardly fast? If you're concerned about the pace of your novel, DON'T get discouraged and throw in the towel. I've seen people do that and have even been tempted myself a few times. DO visit this link entitled "Pacing Your Story" which offers some good helpful advice about how to manipulate the pace of your novel. http://www.fiction-writers-mentor.com/pacing.html

-As a writer, you might know what it's like to get repetitive sometimes. But that might not be your problem. You may not even realize you've used the word "tall" four times in the last six pages. But how do you catch this quickly without having to spend endless hours combing through your manuscript for repetition? DO get yourself a handy copy of Microsoft Word, like Microsoft Professional 2010 that brightly highlights for you in a nifty navigation box to the left of your screen how many times you used in your manuscript whichever search word you specify. Just a quick hit of "Find" and putting in your word will do the trick and open up the navigation box to search through the results. Unlike some other versions of Word, you can then individually click on each instance of the repeated word used and then determine from there how you want to change that sucker and make it more original.


Hope those tips helped guys! But I know there are more nifty small tips I've missed that you writers use all the time. Let me know by dropping a comment below! :-)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Scream 4 Movie Review

Time for a '30% everything else' blog post. During one of my recent writing breaks, the few I unfortunately take when I get started on a piece of work, I caught Scream 4 at the movies. So I decided to take time out and write a review. SPOILER ALERT.



Before going to see this, I had already watched all 3 installments of the 'Scream' franchise. The first two left me impressed. The third, meh. So I didn't go in with a lot of expectations. I pretty much went to see this only because a part of me wanted to 'complete' the franchise. I expected a lot of stabbing, some more stabbing, some close calls, a few jumps, a very loose connection to the character Sydney Prescott, and some laughs. The movie brought a wee bit more to the table than I expected.

When Sidney Prescott, now a successful writer who has chronicled her experiences and built herself back together through her writings, returns to her hometown after ten years, she is once again revisited by the Ghostface Killer. Her cousin, Jill Roberts, played by Emma Roberts, who is that cute little kid who used to be on that Nickoledeon show 'Unfabulous',  finds herself pulled into the whole mess, receiving death threats from the Ghostface Killer.




This being the 4th installment, Scream 4 has no choice but to make fun of itself and the Hollywood obsession, of which it is a part of, with stretching out like laughy taffy considerably impressive standalone movies into long franchises. The first striking thing about the movie was perhaps all of the celebrities that did a cameo in the beginning for the fake movie franchise 'Stab' within the real 'Scream' movie franchise, based off of Sydney Prescott's horror story with the Ghostface Killer. We had Anna Paquin from 'True Blood', and a lot of celebrities who appeal to a younger audience like Lucy Hale from 'Pretty Little Liars', Shanae Grimes and of course Emma Roberts, so if you hoped your teen at home wasn't going to watch this slasher flick, those names probably helped rope them in. If you'd added Robert Pattinson in this, one can only imagine what the lines at your movie theatre to see this would've looked like.

I can appreciate that Scream 4 doesn't pretend to be something it's not. It's another installment using some of the same trends that made the franchise famous. A slasher flick like this has to poke fun at itself and try its best to jolt you as much as it can in the process. If you're gonna actually use that fried, dried and overused trend of girls at home alone, watching a horror movie, and then they get that mysterious call from a killer, you have to make fun of the trend and put a little spin on it where you can. From the beginning Scream 4 lets you know what it's about but adds a bit more. Sydney's in trouble. The spin is, so is her adorable cousin. We've got the same bumbling police force, complete with Dewie being the sheriff, his bug-eyed 'Betty Crocker' deputy with a thing for him, and this guy (who brings on the funny in any movie he enters):



Perhaps the only real things, besides the humor, that I liked about this movie were the end and the 'whodunit' process of trying to figure out who the killer was. I actually heard a lot of people in the theatre trying some guesswork.This is what it sounds like in a Jamaican theatre:

"No sah, look pon him good! A di boyfriend a di killa. Look how him creepy like Edward from Twilight."

Scream did a nice job of casting suspicion on minor characters. From Jill's mother, to the deputy with a thing for Dewie, the boyfriend, to the two police officers, to even one of Jill's friends. The end was the most surprising where we find out that Jill, Sydney's sweet little cousin trying to avoid the obsessive boyfriend, is the Ghostface Killer, along with a know-it-all horror movie buff and student.




This is where I give credit where credit is absolutely due. Emma Roberts' scenes at the end during her reveal and attempt to finally finish off Sydney were impressive. I never knew this girl had such acting chops. She went from cute and sweet to psycho in a heartbeat like someone smashed her Ipad or something and didn't say sorry. In the end, fame and fortune is revealed to be her motivator, and she tries to eliminate everyone else to become the ultimate heroine. She's tired of being left out of the spotlight in a family that revolves around Sydney. While at first you may not believe fame or even feeling like the Watson to Sydney's Sherlock Homes are convincing motivators for the character Jill, this is pretty much art imitating life. Nowadays, fame is the ultimate goal for people, and as Emma's character points out, you don't need to do much to become famous. If you haven't seen Jersey Shore, you might not know what I'm talking about.


The movie didn't really impress me until the end with Emma Roberts' performance, but I did enjoy the fact that the movie kept me guessing. It was a nice little distraction from writing. If I had to give this a rating, I'd probably give it a C+.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

A Vampire Bit Me...But I'm Still Laughing





Yes. It's true. Since late March I've actually started dabbling in writing vampire fiction, which I've never done before. As much as I love reading about paranormal romances, I never quite had any original idea for romantic vampire fic that I thought was worth pursuing, nor any particular desire to create any. And when I don't feel like my storyline has enough originality in it, I just don't write it. Plain and simple. I get a little scared when someone says, "Hey, your story is EXACTLY LIKE [fill in the blank]." I'm slightly more comfortable with, "If you like [fill in the blank] then you should check out her work too."

I don't think originality in vampire fiction is dead--no pun intended. I think you've just gotta write what you can, respect the myth, but put your own spin or story to it, and see where it takes you. Best-selling author Stephenie Meyer did it and changed the game. So far, a solid story has definitely come together, with some nice twists on the original myths, so I'm pretty pleased with how it's going so far. Five words to describe what I hope will become a series: Romantic, hot, touching, dark but uplifting. It falls into the "YA that adults will enjoy" category. I'll watch the progress and mayhap I might release the first one before the second installment to The Mirrors of Fate. I'm not sure.


A few of my friends gave me the, "CINDI, NO, PLEASE DON'T WRITE VAMPIRE FIC! IT'S PLAYED OUT!" Yes, it might be, but I'm a reader too, and I gobble up a well-written paranormal romance. Christine Feehan could pump out 5100 books in her Dark Series and I'd probably consume every last one of them. But I can sympathize with those who feel irked or humored by the newer young vampire trend of books like Twilight. You really do just have to laugh along and have a sense of humor. And if you don't get at least one giggle from this "Emo Vampire video" you probably are already part of the undead. 7 million views on this ridiculously funny parody and climbing.

Have a laugh and get back to reading your vampire fic if that's where your taste is at ;-)


Friday, 8 April 2011

The 4 Cardinal Sins of Indie Authors

Years ago, if you said you were an indie author or self-published, you usually received this look.


Being an indie author usually meant to most people's ears that you've been rejected by the big business traditional publishing houses and you were like a mere mortal standing outside the building of vampire gods. It meant that whoever you told outside of your family members about your book was probably not going to read it, let alone touch it with a ten-foot pole or they might get "Unsuccessful Author Syndrome." Nowadays, the scene is a lot better. Times have changed and as more and more people talk about the distress the traditional publishing system is undergoing, more and more people are undertaking self-publishing, not just because some of the stigma has disappeared, but because it now seems--if you can pull it off--like an attractive venture with the potential to make you greater financial returns, and give you more control over what you put out and how quickly you put it out. I don't believe the traditional publishing route is dead at all. Hey, I still like it. I'd much prefer to see indie publishing and traditional publishing step out of that boxing ring a little and act like friends, but that's not what we're here to talk about today. If you're going to take on self-publishing, recognize that you've got some specific challenges. Learn from the mistakes of your peers who have taken on that venture. You won't do everything perfectly, but at the very least you can avoid the FOUR CARDINAL INDIE AUTHOR SINS.


1) An Unedited Book



Jack pulled oof his shirt. Marissa's heart melted like a stick of hot, greasy butter under a Tuscani sun. That  smoldering gaze fried her senses. "Jack...I love you." He was different than most men she knowed. So intense, passionate. If she only could say the words her heart were feeling. Jack, take me know.

No.....Just no. A reader shouldn't have to struggle through your grammatical mistakes and poor metaphors. In order for a story to be properly communicated, the brain needs to be able to decode it. But you say, "My God, editors cost so much!" I agree with you. They can cost you over US$300 to do basic edits of a full novel manuscript. It can be pricey, and chances are if you're purely a writer, you're no Donald Trump. You could and you should shop around for an editor that works for YOUR budget. There are plenty of freelance editors out there and editing companies with great, reasonably-priced services. Find one at a good price and arrange to see a sample of their work. But, if that's still too much for you, at the very least you need to have another pair of eyes looking at your work. Preferably a teacher, another author, or what we in the indie world call beta readers who comb through your stuff for errors, mistakes, and things that don't seem quite right. It stands to reason that whoever you get to check over your grammar and syntax actually know the rules of English and the rules of writing. You're editing to make it better, not make it worse.


2) A Lame Cover

                    This isn't how people should feel about your book cover.


You cannot guarantee a book cover that everyone will like. That's like saying you're determined to write a book that everyone on earth will like. It just doesn't happen. Many traditionally published books by some of the bigger names have awful covers, so don't think that indie books are alone in this. But at the very least your cover should be intriguing, eye-catching. You're battling big competition here, folks. Your cover should make me, as I stream through dozens of works on a shelf or in the e-catalogue on smashwords, stop and say, "Hmm. This looks cool." Some indie ebooks don't have covers at all and miss that opportunity to snag a reader by the jugular if even for a second to entice them to read your blurb. Designers can cost you a lot. That's where your friends come in. Remember Paul, your artsy friend who is married to Adobe Photoshop? You need to give him a ring. Remember that camera collecting dust on your counter? You need to start taking original pictures that can be implemented. If you don't know what stock, royalty-free photos are, they're basically free photos offered by websites that you can use for your projects. They also have stock video sites that you can use for your trailers. They won't cost you a penny and the pictures can often times be gorgeous and high quality.


3) Shameless Promoting

 "You want my book. You NEED my book. BUY MY BOOK!!!!"


Your book is your baby. You love it, you nurture it. You want others to read it. But indie authors especially need to be careful of shameless promotion tactics. Let's not confuse "tiger blood" promoting for shameless promoting. To get your name out there it takes hard work. You should use every convenient opportunity to tell others about your book rather than using every opportunity, convenient or otherwise. If you see P.Diddy doing an interview about St. Jude's Children Hospital but then in the midst of it or even at the end he drops an uninvited, "Yeah, my album drops March 12th. Go pick it up in every major outlet," not only are you, a potential buyer turned off, you don't appreciate it. That equates to you as an indie author going onto a Kindleboards forum or Book Blogs forum in a topic where everyone is peaceably talking about the weather and then you drop something inappropriate and self-promoting, "Yeah! My book has weather in it too. On a cold and stormy night, my..." You get the drift. So, what can you do to not come across as a creepy sales person but still have some upfront, aggressive marketing?

DO get reviewed by book blog sites that accept indie books. Request that they put their reviews on the sites that you sell your material. A great place to find a list of reviewers who support indies is here.

DO have a website and also a blog where people can catch up with you. You are also a brand.

DO make use of social media. Have a twitter account, a facebook acount, and interact with people. DO use these methods to promote your work in a friendly, interesting way.

DO make use of twitter hashtags. The best way for people to find your interesting tweet is when it falls into a twitter hashtag category. Got an ebook you're promoting for the kindle that's 99 cents? Then hastags like #99cents, #ebook, #kindle and #amazon will apply to you.

DO make use of topics in forums on book sites like goodreads and book blogs, etc. that allow  you to promote your book. Create your own topics as well and engage others.

DO talk to other authors and spread the word about your book.

DO find blogs that will feature your indie book and do Q&A's.

DO have your indie ebooks available in various formats for readers to get access to. At the very least, DO have your book available on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

And don't worry. You may have at one point done a shameless tactic before. Everyone who has ever had to promote something has made the mistake of pushing a little too far. It's just important to become aware of how best to take advantage of promotion opportunities.


4) Taking Bad Criticism Badly


 "Ho, what do you mean 'she carried her stocky build down the street' ain't a proper sentence?!"


Responding negatively to criticism is actually something anyone can do. But for indie authors especially, often seen as the underdogs, it's extremely important to always display a high amount of professionalism when dealing with criticism. Not everyone's going to like your book. Some people or reviewers may even be unnecessarily nasty about it. Unfortunately, that's the nature of the game. You do have to develop a tough skin. Trust me, it is not easy. But when you do receive negative criticism, it is important to say your thank you's and be on your way.

If a reviewer says they hated your book because it was too boring, you may be thinking: How's a book about 9-11 boring, you unpatriotic, dungeons and dragons playing, attic-living, mama's boy?

What you should be saying is more like: "I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy the book. I do believe that 9-11 is still a very interesting and relevant topic today. Thank you for taking the time out to review my work. Best regards..."

After that, you move on to the next reviewer. Yes, a bad review can hurt your sales. That is too the nature of the game. But the more reviews you seek from those interested in your genre, the higher your chances of gaining notoriety and better reviews. Don't have a meltdown. The last indie author who did is now the poster-child for indie author meltdowns and her book on amazon went from having a good dozen 5 or four stars reviews to having well over 60 1-star reviews. You get the picture. Always be professional because it may hurt your career. You will thank yourself in the end that you brushed yourself off after that scraped knee and kept moving forward.


Now go forth indies everywhere and do your best to produce the most impressive quality of work you can.


If there's anything I missed or you'd like to contribute another tip or cardinal sin, you can drop a comment below.






baby pic courtesy of Mediabistro.com

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

It's April. Who gives a hoot?

Who gives a hoot? I hope you do. You know you like my convenient owl gif ;-). I've got some more feature updates for my debut novel The Mirrors of Fate: Out of the Past and some important articles for all you indies out there. First off, I've gotta say, I love these blogs, sites, and organizations that go above and beyond to support the indie authors globally. A special shout out to the Indie Book Collective. I discovered them on twitter actually. This is a great place with awesome articles and supportive information for indie authors out there. And their tweets are often, for lack of better rephrasing, a swift kick in the butt for when you're slacking off on the writing and promotions level. A very awesome place and I recommend a follow!

So updates!



--> Just got a feature on Spalding's Racket! The blog that "makes a noise about indies on the internet!" If you've read "Life...With No Breaks" by Nick Spalding, then you know who this nice little place belongs to.
 
--> Had some recent features on those constantly-rotating cyber twitter dailies. Had my book trailer featured on Between the Lines daily. Definitely proud of that. ^_^ If you haven't seen the trailer for the ebook, please check it out here. When a trailer is this good, and this well-synched, (tooting my own horn here but I'm def. proud of it) you've just gotta ask how come this was all FREE?

--> Had my "99th page feature" of my book shown on a Fridayreads Daily. Thank you all for checking it out. That little tasty appetizer from the book can be consumed over yonder, although I'm kind of more in love with the more recent appetizer from the book here. VERY intense when "Alan" tries to figure out his consuming emotions for Maria. (And pardon my way of interchanging book and ebook in the same breath. Force of habit. This is a nice afforable ebook right now.)

--> Also got featured on the Self-published author daily. My article "Do you Really Need an Editor?" for all you indie authors out there can be found here. It's an imperative question you have to ask if you're looking at not only putting out a good product, but pumping out your works faster than the competitive traditional houses.

--> EDIT! On April 7th, TODAY I'm featured on this awesome indie-supporting book blog INDIE BOOK BLOGS with Q&A to boot! Read it here.

That's it for now guys. Thanks for tuning in. :-) Back to my work in progress.




(Gif from Gifs.net)

Friday, 1 April 2011

Why Did I Kiss Her?


The last excerpt that I featured from The Mirrors of Fate: Out of the Past was all about high school student Maria. We saw her world slipped from underneath her feet when she heard the words she never wanted to hear from Alan: "I'll be leaving." And at the very end of that tasty 99th page feature, we got a mere flicker of the cruel fire that exists within this volatile, tempered character. (Read it here). But even Alan is not immune to emotions of the heart, and when Maria unsuspectingly breaks down his defenses, he forces himself to return to his plan of revenge.



TEASER from CHAPTER FIVE 

 
No matter how long it took, no matter how many it took, he refused to stop until the thoughts melted away with the burn. But why wasn’t it working?
The first one, to help his mind escape. The hundredth, to force it to. But no matter how many reps he did, there seemed no escaping the shameful memory of what he had allowed to happen between him...him and that damn girl.
The sweat beads drowned his face. Getting carried away was his fault and no one else’s. He had only meant to kiss her, not to become so entrapped in the moment like a damn schoolboy.
To have kissed her. Touched her. Why did he? No. He knew the answer. To continue the game. But what confused and irritated him beyond belief was why he felt as entranced by the moment at her house as she had obviously been. As long as the kiss continued to plague him, he was going to avoid Maria until he set his damn mind right.
Another surge of repulsion with himself urged him to move faster, to block the thoughts by any means necessary. In the darkness of his apartment, his arms pumped his body up and down faster in his pushups, his hatred amplifying his adrenaline. The sweat streaming, the tom-tom heart racing, and the ground shrinking and growing with every dizzied rise and fall to the depleted rhythm of insufficient short grips of breath all blocked rationality, and then guilt.
When he eventually collapsed onto his back to catch his breath, thoughts of her melted away into nothingness, and as he nursed air in beaten lungs, he nursed his determination once again. His task here had to be completed before his short time grew even shorter.




A deadly romance. A deadly vendetta. A fate unfolding...Grab this ebook read, Book 1 of The Mirrors of Fate Trilogy at any of these available OUTLETS