Launch Party Success!

Happy Monday, everyone! I don’t know why, but I’m always extra positive on Mondays. My optimism today might be the result of the book launch party we had on Friday. It was amazing! We had a great turnout and sold a lot of books. It was my first time signing books, so that was weird, but I think I’ve finally mastered my signature.

Here’s how it all went down…

My friend and I scouted bookstores in town to see who would want to host a launch party. Whether you’re an indie author or a traditionally published author, bookstores LOVE hosting signings and launches. It gets people into their store to buy books! So remember that when you feel hesitant to ask a bookseller if they’ll host you.

Anyway, after scouting bookstores my friend, Libby, and I decided that a private invite-only event would better fit our needs. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about people arriving on time and we could serve alcohol…which I definitely needed! Plus, it’s a lot easier to entice people with free drinks (wink wink).  Libby has a gorgeous…I mean GORGEOUS house, and when she suggested having it there I said, YES! My friends did an amazing job at putting things together. Just look at this spread!

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And we had a little set-up where I would sign books

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Then the party was underway. People drank, ate some food….

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And once everyone was good an liquored up, they took a seat so we could talk about my book. I wish I had better pictures of that, but my husband was the photographer and he should never be given a camera…EVER. Anyway, I decided not to do a reading because I felt like my Canadian accent wouldn’t do my British characters justice. So instead I talked about the book, how I wrote it, what’s next in the series and did a Q&A. I think the Q&A was my favorite part because it gave me a good idea of what really interests people.

Then we got to signing. Some even bought 2-3 books. Others wanted me to write dirty messages in their books, which I totally did!

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The end result was a very laid back evening that didn’t stress me out too much. I find attention to be very unnerving, but this intimate type of setting was perfect for me. We sold out of books and a few of the attendees said they would bring my book to their book clubs. I’d love to do a book club talk.

After the books were signed and most of the crowd left, we spent the rest of the night just hanging out. It was a lot of fun and a great experience. I still don’t love attention. I really struggled with an entire party being about me, but when I saw how excited and supportive everyone was, even those I’d never met, my anxiety quickly went away.

Thank you to every who came out and to my friends who put it all together. I love you all.

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Writers write because they love writing. Writers publish for the money.

We always hear the saying: “Don’t write for the money. Write because you love it.”

While that’s a nice little saying, most of the time it’s not very practical. If writers could pay their bills and fill their bellies with the scraps of torn up love letters, we would, trust me.

Since the very secret (wink wink) soft launch of my book last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “money thing” and what it means to me. I promise you that I didn’t write The Darkness of Light for money. I wrote it because it was in me and it needed to come out. Writers write because they love writing. Writers  publish for the money. So I guess you could say that’s why I published my book, after all, it certainly isn’t listed as a free book. But do I really care about the money?

This week has been a bit crazy for me. Without any real promo and no blog tour, I’ve actually sold quite a few books! More than I expected when I announced it was available. I even ranked well on Amazon for most of last week. It was probably the most exciting point in my writing career so far. I loved knowing that people were reading my book. I loved getting messages saying how much they like it and pictures of people reading it. I’m so grateful to everyone who took the time to contact me and let me know they had The Darkness of Light in their dirty little hands.

Because I had such a great week with sales, that also means that I’ve earned royalties. But here’s the thing…I don’t even care about the royalties! A check in the bank is great, and I certainly can’t feed myself with scraps of paper, but the royalty doesn’t bring the happiness. The readers do! That’s what I care about. I care that I’ve written something that someone wants to read.

So the lesson, my friends, is that writers live off the joy of being a writer, and survive off the money that (hopefully) comes with it.

The moment every author dreams of…the day your books arrive!!!

They came! My box of books arrived at my doorstep!

It’s pretty surreal to see a box full of books that you wrote. Really, it’s so strange. Sure I’ve seen proofs before, but they weren’t the final copy. They weren’t the books that people will buy.

These are!

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For those who “don’t usually read fantasy” – Yes you do!

“I don’t usually read fantasy.” I’ve head this a lot lately, especially from the people who’ve had a chance to read my upcoming novel, The Darkness of Light.

To be truthful, when I sat down to write it, I hadn’t intended to write a fantasy novel at all- it just happened. Before I wrote it, I probably would have said that I don’t read fantasy either. And if we’re talking about sword-wielding  dragon slayers, that’s definitely not my first choice. I’m more of a paranormal, horror, historical kind of reader. If anything falls within those definitions, I’m on it!

So how did I end up writing a fantasy novel and why do my “non-fantasy” readers like it so much?

Well, while my novel is certainly labeled fantasy, it was constructed in such a way that it reads like the novels I love to read. I wrote the book I wanted to read. If I changed my characters to let’s say…vampires, then my book might be called a historical paranormal novel. But because I used mythology instead of folklore (there is a difference  between the two), my book is automatically considered fantasy.

There are many sub-genres within the fantasy genre. When we think of the sword-wielding dragon slayers or completely made up worlds, we are talking about Epic Fantasy. In epic fantasy there’s usually some kind of major threat to the world and the protagonist must overcome the villain in order to save their race…usually.

My novel is more of a Low Fantasy, in that the storyline revolves more around the characters struggles and development. The threat centers on the characters and not the entire race of beings, and the setting is mostly real world.

Then we have to consider the labels. If you say you don’t read fantasy, but you love Twilight, Werewolves are your new obsession, or Anne Rice is your favorite author (like she is mine), then guess what? You DO read fantasy! If you like any kind of paranormal anything, you DO read fantasy! BOOM! You’ve just been mind blown.

That’s right. While the industry has attached the label of “Paranormal” to these kinds of books, they are actually fantasy. Anne Rice has been labeled many things: Gothic horror writer, Paranormal writer, Dark Fantasy writer….Wait!, What? It’s true, Anne Rice writes dark fantasy, as in, it involves dark, supernatural characters that live in our world. The Twilight series is also a Paranormal Fantasy…any kind of paranormal, supernatural, ghosts, witches, werewolves, bagpipe people…(you get the point)…is fantasy.

Now that we’ve settled that, I would also like to point out that millions of readers world-wide have read the Harry Potter series and Lord of the Rings. What do you think those are? Kitten tales…NOPE! That’s fantasy as well.

So you see folks, while you think you might not read fantasy, you really do, you just didn’t know it. And as far as my book goes, I wrote it because it was a book I wanted to read, but it didn’t exist. You won’t find dragons in my book, or any other kind of strange creature. But you will find a sword wielding hottie, and supernatural characters in a real historical setting… hence the label: Historical Fantasy

The Darkness of Light – 1st page teaser

CHAPTER ONE

 

The two-room hut was wrapped in darkness. Mara peered through a crack in the wooden board covering the window just as two armed guards marched by. She held her breath, watching when they paused on the road to scan the row of hovels. 

       Would they notice the boarded-up window of Helen’s cottage among the rest? Mara gripped the fire iron in her hand, ready if they came charging in. She almost expected them to. They dragged her mother away just days before, but they wouldn’t take Mara without a fight. If she had to, she would use more than the fire iron to fight them off. It was a definite risk. It could put her mother in even greater danger, and if Mara failed, the consequences would be fatal for them both.

     No. She couldn’t do it. She never had to fight before, and even her unnatural gift might be no match against men with swords. Besides, if they were looking for her, exposing herself would put Helen in danger as well. The poor widow was only trying to help by hiding Mara after they came for her mother. But the magistrate wouldn’t see it that way. Helen would get thrown in chains just as fast as the others. Mara couldn’t let that happen to Helen. She was their only friend.

     Even though there were almost 200 people living within the walls of Moorthrop, Mara and her mother were outsiders. They were poor, lived on the very outskirts of the village, and unlike the rest of the peasants, they had no kin that stretched back to the village’s inception. Mara’s mother had arrived in Moorthrop 19 years earlier, when Mara was only an infant. Most villagers claimed heritage to the time of the Romans. And after the fall of the empire, their ancestors were the ones who built the village, shielding themselves from the war and invasions that ravaged so much of the realm. The once great Roman Empire was still in ruins, but being just a two-day journey from the western sea, and under the protection of King Gerren in the east, Moorthrop managed to survive.

     Every new moon Moorthrop opened its gates to western merchants trading in spices, linens, and pottery. The newly-appointed magistrate and his sheriff kept order in Moorthrop, and their soldiers, when not drunk, or fighting amongst themselves, manned the walls. In a world of chaos and war, this should have been a blessed thing. But the magistrate was austere, and his Christian laws cast a dark shadow on a village with no God. Now it wasn’t what lie outside the walls of Moorthrop that threatened the people, but what they had let in.

The Darkness of Light teaser

Mara stared at Valenia. The veiled dwelling in the rock fascinated her now just as much as it had when she arrived months earlier. The true exterior, hidden from human eyes, was magnificent. It wasn’t simply a cavern, but rather a grand fortress molded from an imposing mass of rock.

     The summer months were moving quickly as Mara settled into her new home and became acquainted with the Dia living there. Mara spent much of her time with little Isa, wandering the golden beach and exploring the flat, wooded acres that bordered Valenia. She hadn’t gone any farther than that since they found the murdered family in the forest. The image of the young family, mangled and bloodied, still troubled her, along with the haunting memories of her mother’s own tragic end. Her nights had become a struggle to ignore the visions while her days were spent hoping they wouldn’t return with the darkness. But in spite of these tormenting dreams, Mara felt safe at Valenia, because at least there, she was never alone.

January 28th, 2014

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Spotlight: Lillian Holmes and The Leaping Man by Ciar Cullen

Being an unmarried woman in the 1890’s is hard. Becoming a female detective is even harder. But for Lillian Holmes, that’s what she dreams about. The only problem is, in her search for the truth, her own buried secrets might tear her apart.

Defying the conventions of her time, Lillian is determined to become a detective like her favorite fictional character. But when she witnesses a man fleeing the scene of the most recent crime, she soon discovers that the murderer is something more than just a man – he’s something unnatural. And she will stop at nothing to prove it.

What starts as a game of cat and mouse, quickly turns into a deadly dance between Lillian and the suspect, George. But there’s a fine line between love and hate, and soon Lillian finds herself caught amid the storm of her own lies and George’s truth. And while she becomes obsessed with catching him, he might be the only one who can set her free.

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If you haven’t had a chance to check out Lillian Holmes and The Leaping Man yet, I highly recommend it. The historical detail is fascinating and the story is filled with mystery and intrigue. The antihero, George, is a villain you want to hate, but can’t. Like Lillian, he has his own crosses to bear, but despite his malevolence, even he can’t fight the shred of humanity that still lives inside of him.

CHECK IT OUT!

http://www.amazon.com/Lillian-Holmes-Leaping-Ciar-Cullen-ebook/dp/B00E8AGZTI

Follow the author on twitter: @Ciar_Cullen

And follow me too! @TamzWrite

It Takes a Village to Raise a Book

The process of getting The Darkness of Light ready for publication has made  me realize that it really does take a village to raise a book.

When I started writing it, I had no idea how many people would be involved in developing it and perfecting it. So far, I’ve needed the aid of 6 beta-readers, 2 critique partners, 1 professional critique, and a copy-editor. Then there is the cover designer, and a second editor that will do a final read through just before publication.

That makes 12 people who have had a hand in the creation of my book.

Whether you’re publishing traditionally, or going the self-publishing route, it’s pretty amazing to look back at that moment you sat down at your computer and wrote the words “Chapter One,” and now you have a completed novel, and a team of people trying to help you push your book to the surface.

No matter which way you choose to move forward, publishing a book is certainly not a one man/woman show.

 

Follow me on twitter @tamzwrite

Anne Rice –If you had never written…

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am a huge fan of Anne Rice. I have been since I was 12 years old when my mom gave me a copy of Blood and Gold for Christmas (not necessarily age appropriate, I know, but my mom didn’t, thank goodness). Had it not been for that gift, I may have never had the inclination to write, or pursue writing professionally. This is the impact one author can have on a person. How incredible is that?

The first time I read Blood and Gold I was mesmerized by it. I instantly fell in love with the way the book was written, the worlds it transported me to, and the characters it brought to life. Marius was and always will be my favorite character, and I still read this book at least once a year. I felt a connection to the characters that no other book had given me before, and a fascination with history that persists to this day. While I may have been interested in history and the craft of writing before this book entered my life, it was only after I read it that my fate was sealed.

What amazes me, however, is that not everyone has felt the same. A quick look at Anne Rice’s Wikipedia will tell you that even talented authors like Mrs. Rice have faced self-doubt and opposition. I still find this hard to believe. How can anyone pick up any of Mrs. Rice’s books and not instantly fall in love? How can anyone bemoan the style of her prose or the construction of her stories? Are they blind?

According to Wikipedia, “following its debut in 1976, Interview with the Vampire received many negative reviews from critics, causing Rice to retreat temporarily from the supernatural genre.”

Whether this statement is true or not, it’s hard to imagine that such a remarkable novel could receive such polarizing reviews. Thank goodness she didn’t listen to her critics; otherwise we would have never known Lestat, or Armand, or Pandora, or Marius, or David, or Vittorio, or any of the other characters that she has brought to life.

On numerous occasions I’ve seen Mrs.Rice post on her facebook page words of encouragement to aspiring authors. She tells them not to give up, to ignore critics, and to do what they love. Once I was fortunate enough to receive an email response from Mrs.Rice regarding my own journey with writing. It read:

      “I wish you every conceivable blessing with your writing.  You know, I’m sure that this life is worth the courage and the nerve it takes, the sheer nerve it takes to be a writer.  I hope all goes well with you.  We have to forgive those who try to discourage us.  They are mostly talking about themselves and their own fears and limitations when they tell us we can’t do what we want to do.  Take care, and thank you again, Anne Rice”.   

I read and reread that email every time I feel down and insecure about my writing. If an amazing, talented writer like Anne Rice must face criticism and opposition, then so must we all. There is no way around it. It’s part of being a writer. Sometimes I need to take a moment and remember that in order to keep pushing forward.

If Anne Rice had never written her novels, or had given up writing after Interview with the Vampire, I’m not so certain I would be as inspired and determined to write as I am today. Maybe I would have given up when someone told me writing was a waste of time, or that I have no talent. It’s amazing how influential authors can truly be to those that wish to follow in their footsteps. I think that’s something all writers need to remember when they feel like giving up. You might be the one to inspire another.

After all, where would I be if Anne Rice had never written…

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