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Monday, February 27, 2012

Guest Blog Post By Sibel Hodge

Here is another inspiring story from another indie chick. Ms. Hodge is absolutely fascinating and inspirational so without further ado, I welcome this week's guest.

This is a woman I definitely want to emulate!

From 200 rejections to Amazon top 200!
Sibel Hodge

Ever since I was old enough to scrawl my first word, which was Halibaaaaa, I knew I wanted to write books. OK, so the word didn’t actually make sense, and it might take a little longer for me to actually string a whole sentence together, but that didn’t put me off. I was going to write books and no one would stop me…

From when I was really young, my mum encouraged me to read. “If you can read books, you’ll never be bored,” I remember her telling me. I secretly think it was a ploy to keep me out of her hair and quiet for a while. I was always a loud kid with lots of energy, and always getting into some sort of trouble with the boys down our street. (Yep, even then I was a sucker for boys!). After discovering the wonderful world of books, I thought I’d have a go myself, and remember scribbling down stories whenever I had a spare moment. Shame I was only six, and there was no way anyone would publish a book with I Want Big Girls’ Knickers in the title.

When I was in secondary school my favourite subject was English language. I’d lose myself for hours. And even though I hadn’t thought about my forthcoming career before I left (apart from being Wonder Woman or an astronaut), I knew, even then, I had a love of creating. I also loved to make people laugh from an early age. In the beginning, it wasn’t intentional. I was always saying ridiculous things that I thought were quite serious. Like the time I went to the butchers shop with my nan, and the lady behind the counter asked where I was from. “South America,” I said. (I know, where the hell did that come from? I must’ve had an overactive imagination from the start.) So when people started laughing at me, I thought, hey, this is pretty fun! We live in such a hectic world and laughter is a perfect way to de-stress. Because my personality is quirky, fun-loving, and slightly nuts, it was probably a given that I would eventually write chick lit, although I have recently delved into the dark side of my brain (which is a pretty scary place to be sometimes!) and written a psychological thriller.

But when I left school no one mentioned writing as a career. It was all boring things like secretarial jobs, travel agents, office work. I didn’t even know about creative writing courses until about ten years ago! I think they considered that writing wasn’t a “proper career.” No one suggested journalism or further education in writing. So what was a girl to do? Although my mum wanted me to go to University and study to be something like a doctor or lawyer (eeek!), I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do for a career, so I flitted from one job to the next, trying to find something that interested me, and eventually ended up working for the police for ten years. So there I was, too busy paying the mortgage, working shifts, and living in the rat race of life to have the proper time or opportunity to write a novel. It didn’t stop me trying, though.

It was drastic things like splitting up with a boyfriend that made me start my first novel when I was about seventeen. I never got further than the first three chapters, though, because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, other than using a typewriter! Then I started another one (I got dumped again – can you see a pattern here?) when I was about twenty-three, and ditto (I’d hate for those to ever see the light of day). I just knew that I loved writing and therefore it stood to reason that one day I’d do it, didn’t it? And although I look back now and think I wish I’d started writing earlier, actually, I have to say, that it would’ve been bad timing. Back then I wouldn’t have had anything to really write about. A lot of the things that go into my books now are based on my experience of life. People I’ve met, places I’ve been, books I’ve read, things I’ve done, struggles I’ve achieved. At twenty-three, what did I really know about any of that?

And then five years ago, hubby and I had had enough of the UK. We got fed up with the constant grey weather, bills that seemed to increase as you looked at them, working constantly to pay them, and never having quality time for ourselves or our family. Right, it was time to make my childhood dream come true and move somewhere exotic, where the cost of living was lower, and we would actually have time to enjoy each other and life again. Then I would finally have the time and opportunity to dedicate to writing. Yes, we’d have to sacrifice a lot of things to achieve it, but it would be worth it in the end. So we moved to North Cyprus, and it was like my brain suddenly said, Hallellujah! Now we divide our time between Cyprus and the UK.

I didn’t actively think about what I was going to write, but a year after we’d moved there I had an exciting idea for a story, using my unique Turkish Cypriot/British cultural heritage, and my debut romantic comedy Fourteen Days Later was born. Then I actually became the guinea pig for the sequel, My Perfect Wedding! But it was all very well completing my dream of writing a book, but until it was published, no one would get to read it.

So I started querying hundreds of agents and publishers. I got too many rejections to even count! OK, small white lie, a while ago I did count them out of morbid curiosity, and it was a whopping two hundred!

I did come close a couple of times to being traditionally published, but it never quite worked out. It was either, “one group of editors liked it but another didn’t”, or “the chick lit market is saturated”, or “we love it but…”

When I first looked into publishing independently, platforms like Amazon Kindle didn’t support international authors. So the way I saw it, I had two choices. Either I could write another book, hone my writing skills and learn all I could about my craft, and wait for an opportunity to come up, or I could let all the rejection letters get me down, think my writing career was over before it had begun, and stick my head in the oven! Since heat tends to turn my curls into a ball of frizz, it was no contest, really. I wrote my next novel, a chick lit mystery called The Fashion Police, and waited. Because I knew, I just knew, that I COULD do this. I could write novels that people wanted to read. If only I could get the chance.

In the meantime, I also entered several writing competitions. And while I was still getting the dreaded rejections, Fourteen Days Later was shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2008 and received a Highly Commended by The Yeovil Literary Prize 2009. And The Fashion Police was a runner up in the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition 2010 (and later nominated for the Best Novel with Romantic Elements 2010 by The Romance Reviews). Surely I was doing something right, wasn’t I? But I STILL couldn’t get a publisher!

Then last year, when Amazon opened up their doors to non-US authors, I uploaded Fourteen Days Later and The Fashion Police onto their Kindle store. I couldn’t believe it when I finally saw my books on sale. It was scary, rewarding, exciting, amazing – so many experiences rolled into one.

But what if no one liked my novels? What if I had all bad reviews? What if all the two hundred rejections were right? What if, what if…?

Time for a deep breath, Sibel. If you want to be an author, you have to repeat this mantra everyday… “I can do this. I can do this. I CAN do this.”

So I did.

And boy am I glad I did! The first month with Fourteen Days Later and The Fashion Police, I sold 44 books (another eeek!). Then I released my third novel, a romantic comedy called My Perfect Wedding, and later released my second chick lit mystery Be Careful What You Wish For. In the last 6 months alone I’ve sold over 40,000 ebooks, and all my novels are consistently in the Amazon top 100 genre categories for humor, contemporary romance, comedy, and romantic suspense. My highest overall sales ranking to date is 136, just missing out on the Amazon top 100 bestseller charts. Considering there are over 900,000 Kindle books on Amazon, that’s not bad!

And this is one lesson I’ve learned in the last couple of years…You can do anything you want to in life. It may mean you have to go a different route than you originally planned, but if you’re determined enough and believe in yourself, you can overcome any obstacles.

So I’m toasting all you women out there with my glass of wine. Cheers to dreams and making them come true! Looks like I got my big girls’ knickers after all!

You can find Sibel’s books in paperback and all ebook formats. For more info, please check out her website

 This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon  and Barnes & Noble . To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.

For reviews and purchases of my latest novels: http://www.sibelhodge.com/
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sibelhodge

Post Script by Yours Truly: Sibel is uber talented and not only has she ventured beyond chick flick, if you think she's all fluff, try this novella on for size. I love Sibel and she is very talented but this is by far one of the best works she has ever written. I have extensively researched human trafficking and this is by far one of the most realistic works of fiction I have read on the subject. 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Trafficked-Diary-Sex-Slave-ebook/dp/B005GAC5VQ

Monday, February 20, 2012

Guest Blog Post by Christine DeMaio-Rice

First of all, this isn't the first time I have had this wonderful author and cover design artist on my blog. She is not only a fellow indie chick but my dear friend. She designed most of the covers on my books which weren't designed by Jack Wallen, including my covers for The Vamp Saga (Death Wish and Better Off Dead) plus the cover for Beginnings: Book I (The Plague). The DeGeneration cover for Love Voodoo was also designed by her. She will be designing many more so you will see a lot of her work here on my blog but this is her time to shine as an author and this is her story. Without further ado, here is Mrs. DeMaio-Rice!

Doesn't she look so damn serious? But seriously, this woman has a heart of gold!

(for the better)

An orange peel grapple is a big machine. Excavator on the bottom. Long arm in the middle. And a metal grapple on the end that looks like a horror movie claw. The base spins. The arm moves up and down. The grapple grabs stuff like SUVs and big piles of metal.

You may come across one while driving, and if you have a little boy in the car, you may have to pull over to watch the thing move cars into a tractor trailer. Otherwise, nothing about this machine will rock your world.

But an orange peel grapple changed my life.

My life was a complete disaster at the time. Though I had a beautiful baby boy and a good husband, I had a job in an industry I swore I would never return to, at a company that wanted nothing more than to suck the blood directly from my heart with a curly straw. This, after I had already sold all the blood in my heart to the film industry, which after a few meetings and screenwriting awards, looked like it might want to take a sip from that straw.

A sip, because as good as things were looking, I saw a long road in front of me. My work was not “commercial enough,” and my manager had made it clear that years would pass before I would be able to convince anyone that this lack of commerciality was a quality that was, well, commercial.

But no. My husband lost his job, and I found work in the fashion industry soon after. What I rapidly discovered was that, though out-of-towners could schedule meetings back-to-back all over town, Angelenos were expected to take a meeting at the last minute, or blithely accept a rescheduling. My boss, on the other hand, had no interest in moving around my personal days, and my sick days dwindled in my first three months on the job. It took only a few months for the meetings to dry up and for me to start writing a Santa Claus script out of desperation.

So, the blood-sucking fashion job with the inflexible hours was right next to a scrap yard, which apparently opened at the crack of dawn because when I got there at seven thirty every morning, the orange peel grapple was already grabbing away. If I had a minute, I watched it go up and down as I clutched my coffee, and I thought, one day I should get a video camera and film this because my son would love it. Really love it.

My son was about eighteen months old and just learning to talk. I missed him while I was at work, adored him when he was awake and with me, and the rest of the time, I found room to resent him for taking me away from writing. He was then, and has remained, a fireball of energy. His teacher alternated between calling him a Jack Russell terrier and a buzz saw. He is also obsessive. Right now, he has a room full of Legos. Before that, it was Thomas the Tank Engine, and before that, it was trucks. Big yellow trucks. He wouldn’t fall asleep unless he gripped a toy truck in each fist. When he received a Tonka loader for Christmas, it was love at first sight. He called it “lolo.”

One morning, with the vision of that big ‘lolo’ that I would later know as an orange peel grapple dancing in my head, I dialed a friend’s number. I’d known this man from Brooklyn, and he’d come to Los Angeles a few years earlier to attend the American Film Institute. Most importantly, he had a camera. When I got his answering machine, instead of asking him for the camera, I said something else entirely, something like, “Hey, wanna produce a kid’s video together? Here’s the pitch. Trucks. Okay, bye.”

That moment may not seem pivotal, but most turning points don’t when they happen. That moment, I took control of my creative life. My friend called me back the minute he got up, and we began the journey toward becoming business owners. We did not pitch the idea around town, and we did not ask permission to bring the work to the public. We put the DVDs on Createspace, and eventually had to hold inventory to meet the demand.

Lolo Productions and the Totally Trucks series have had ups and downs, but the process taught me two things. One, my concepts need to be simple. If I can’t pitch it in five words, it’s not a concept I should develop. My second lesson is that I can be in control of my product and my creative life. If I think something is worthwhile, I can bring it to my customers. Becoming the producer and publisher of my work means I understand now what agents and studio executives meant when they said “commercial.”

Without my son, I never would have taken the life-sucking job. And without that job, there would have been no orange peel grapple. And without that scrapyard, there would have been no Totally Trucks. No eye for the commercial and no control of self-publishing. Who knows what I would have made without all the things that pissed me off for interrupting my work.
Just 99 cents!
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Missing-Blahnik-Fashion-Avenue-ebook/dp/B00785QLNU
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Fashion-Avenue-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B005MEG38C
This one is FREE!
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Valley-World-Fantasy-Elementals-ebook/dp/B004QWZBMK
PostScript by Moi: Christine's contact info can be found under Hire My Cover Artist to the left top of the page. There, you will be lead right to her cover artist website. She also has a Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/christine.demaiorice.author and she also has a terrific blog about fashion too: http://www.fashionismurder.com/. Buy some of her books and enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feel the (zombie) love!

Well, it isn't often I get to talk about doing promotion extravaganzas but I had two very cool shoutouts by two amazing authors this week on their blog and I thought I would share it with you all.

If you have never explored Lizzy Ford's Guerrilla Wordfare blog then perhaps now is the time to do it. I did a guest post for her on February 15th talking about how women need a little zombie love too. Check it out here:  http://www.guerrillawordfare.com/2012/02/guest-post-can-women-enjoy-zombies-too-by-danielle-blanchard/.

Then, if that wasn't awesome enough, my friend, Shea MacLeod, mentioned my book on her Fantastical Friday post along with Betty White and PJ Jones's Driving me Nuts. That post can be found here: http://sheamacleod.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/fantastical-friday-betty-white-garth-vader-and-still-more-zombies/.

I don't brag too often but that was actually quite awesome as it happened all in one week. Plus, those who are looking for great author blogs ought to really sign up and join these blogs (if you don't belong to them already) because they are awesome.

Thanks again and happy Friday! Remember what my motto is: life is too short to spend your time reading bad books! ;-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Guest Blog Post by Cheryl Bradshaw

Up this week is one of my favorite indie writers and also the founder of the public Facebook for indie writers the world over titled IWU, or Indie Writers Unite. She is such a warm and caring person and she always has tons of irons in the fire. I sometimes wonder how she does it all. She makes me dizzy with everything she has going on at a given time.

Now if this isn't the gorgeous face of a determined author, I don't know what is!

Just Me and James Dean… by Cheryl Bradshaw

When I was a little girl I used to make up stories at bedtime for my younger sister, Michelle. The most vivid centered on a boy and a girl who received a piece of gum for Halloween in their trick-or-treat bag, and when they chewed it, they were transported to a magical land where they were granted unlimited wishes. Even at such a young age, the process of concocting stories was effortless. My mind revolved like the reel of a movie spinning inside my head.
I spent many hours daydreaming as a child. Back then everything was as beautiful and white as a freshly painted fence. I fantasized about the day I would get married, the children I would have, the house I would own, and the life I would live when I was all grown up.
When I was a teenager, my mind still swirled with girlish hopes and dreams. I remember lying on my bed in my room staring at a poster on my wall of James Dean. He was hunkered down on the seat of a motorcycle, and Marilyn Monroe was perched behind him with her arms wrapped around his waist, and her head resting on his shoulder. I wanted to jump into the poster like the girl in A-Ha’s Take on Me video and ride off into life’s highway, just me and James. Together, forever.
When I became an adult and moved out on my own to attend college at the tender age of eighteen, I thought I had my whole world figured out. I’d developed a slight obsession with Agatha Christie and knew mysteries and thrillers were the perfect genre for me as a writer. All kinds of ideas flowed for the first novel, and I thought I was on my way. There was just one problem: I never started writing.
I wasn’t prepared for the events that were about to take place in my life or how they would affect my journey. Life didn’t turn out to be the dream I thought it would be, and I struggled—a lot, and faced challenges and trials that at times seemed more than I could bear. My relationships didn’t always work out, and all the babies I hoped to have didn’t come like I’d planned. There were times when I felt like my life was like a shattered mirror, and I was on my hands and knees desperately searching for all the pieces of myself so I could glue them back together and feel whole again. During those times I wondered how many other women out there in the world felt the same exact way.
Time went on and I struggled, but eventually I picked myself back up and I healed. With a new lease on life and a positive attitude about what I’d overcome, I thought about writing again. In 2009 I wrote Black Diamond Death, the first novel in my Sloane Monroe series. Sinnerman followed six months later and now I’m hard at work on the third, I Have a Secret.
As I sit here and write this, I’m shocked that I am being so candid. Normally, I safeguard my feelings. To say I’m a private person is an understatement, but I feel compelled to get this out. My message in all of this is to never lose sight of your hopes and dreams. Never forget who you are, where you came from, and what you are capable of accomplishing in your life. And if you have a passion, foster it with everything you have inside you. Let it shine. Let it breathe. Let it be.
When I pondered about the dedication I would use for Sinnerman, my direction was clear and I wrote the following:
This book is dedicated to anyone who’s ever had a dream. We have but one life, and one opportunity to live it. Make it last, make it count, and make it the best it can be. Live your dreams, I know I am.
Today, I’m no longer waiting for James Dean to ride up on his shiny black motorcycle. I’ve fallen for a different kind of boy now, one who dreams of wide open spaces and a simple life. One who wants to be a cowboy when he grows up. Now the poster I see in my visions is one of man hoisting me up on the back of his trusty steed while we ride away together into the Wyoming sunset.
If you asked me ten years ago if this was the life I thought I wanted, my answer might have been no, but if you asked me today I would say I’m right where I’m supposed to be. My life isn’t perfect, the challenges are still there, and I still have a lot to learn about myself. But no matter what the future holds for me, I know one thing for sure: I’ll never stop writing.  

This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.
Cheryl’s book’s on Amazon:

To learn more about Cheryl, visit her here:

Post Script from yours truly: Cheryl has an excellent mystery and murder series along with her newest novella so do the woman a favor and grab a copy if you don't have them already. I have all three!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

To Be or Not To Be... a schizophrenic writer that is...

The past seems to have caught up with me and not in a good way.

I have had so many plans for this year but there has been one huge monkey wrench thrown into everything I have wanted to do.

If anyone has bothered to look at the novel chronologies in the back of my books, they look pretty schizo so this post is to try to make everything as simple as possible. The list of books I plan to release this year are as follows:

1) The Catalyst: Book One (The Pop Stars) - Released January, 2012
2) Beginnings: Book I (The Plague) - Released February, 2012
3) Re-Release of The Beautiful People: Part One & The Beautiful People: Part Two [all serial versions of the novel will be discontinued and each part will be sold for $5.49 due to length, which are well over 130k or 500+ pages each] - To Be Released Spring, 2012
4) Love Voodoo: Book I (DeGeneration) - Spring, 2012
5) Better Off Dead: Book II (The Vamp Saga) - April, 2012
6) Apocalypse 2012: Book II (The Plague) - Summer, 2012
7) Queen of the Undead: Book III (The Vamp Saga) - Autumn, 2012
8) The Making of a Star: Book Two (The Pop Stars) - late Autumn/Winter, 2012

So, as you can see, I plan to release at least six original works this year beside the re-releases. I would like to get both The Beautiful People series' books out on the first year anniversary of when I released The Proposal: Book One of The Beautiful People but I can't promise this for sure.

What happens to Summerlin and its prequel you ask? Well, they will probably be released next year some time along with the second and final book of the DeGeneration series, the fourth book in The Vamp Saga and the "supposedly" final book of The Plague series. I say supposedly because I really like the characters and I am not sure I want it to remain a trilogy but it just might.

Beginnings: Book I (The Plague) has already sold twelve copies in three days and although I won't be pushing J.A. Konrath out of the way any time soon, this is amazing, especially when I quietly uploaded it to Amazon and Smashwords Superbowl Sunday without telling a soul. On the first day it was available on Amazon, it sold six copies! So, I am extremely excited about the possibilities and I just hope everyone who has bought a copy enjoys it and continues to do so.

So, there you have it: that's my list and I am sticking to it because it's where my muses are at the moment. They want to continue writing The Vamp Saga and The Plague series. I can't get myself away from these two series' if I tried so I am going to stay with them and ride them out.

If you were really looking forward to my romance novel(s), I apologize for any disappointment caused, but my head is so not in a romantic place at the moment and I am having too much fun with vampires, Day Walkers, zombies and super soldiers. Sorry!

All the best and happy reading, everyone! ;-)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Guest Blog Post by Dani Amore!

Dani Amore is not only multi-talented but she can do various genres without breaking a sweat. It gives me great pleasure to welcome this wonderful, talented and beautiful woman to my website.

Dani’s Books on Amazon:

To learn more about Dani, visit her at http://www.daniamore.com

PostScript by yours truly: Dani is not only a talented writer but I have all her novels on my Kindle. She is extremely talented and not only is she one of the best independent writers out there, she is one of the best writers out there, period.