Bubbling over with excitment – #WeekendCoffeeShare

Organised by Diana (Part Time Monster).
Organised by Diana (Part Time Monster).

If we were having coffee I would be bubbling over with excitement because this weekend I’m having a tour for my new release, Heart of Fire, and I’m feeling the buzz. It might be caffeine too, this is my third cup of coffee this morning.

I would stop gesticulating long enough for you to tell me your news, and you would barely even notice the signing anyway, because you accept it’s part of who I am. And, let’s face it, there are more annoying things 😉 We would share the stories of your week, and chatter (hands and all) about new developments.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I’m looking forward to the big A to Z reveal on Monday, but admit I’m a little behind with my scheduling. At which point, you’d shake your head because you reminded me, several times, that I need to be caught up by April the first. I would remind you of…well, my personality, and you would laugh and concede the point. I’d quickly reassure you that your influence has paid off, and I’m more organised that I’ve ever been!

As my mind has turned to blogging, I would tell you I have a new contributor on Writing Room 101. This would lead to a discussion about cooperative working, as I enjoy it so much and you do too. I’d slip in the subject of Arrow because, what can I say, I take every opportunity to talk about the show and I love contributing at Sourcerer. As I also like a great segue, I would mention that I’m going to be contributing over at Comparative Geeks, which is a great site and I’m thrilled about the new adventure.

If we were having coffee you would give me a gentle nudge, because I have a busy weekend with the tour and I want to keep on top of that. We would then part ways, as we do have other friends to catch up with and a dozen other things to do. Still, we enjoy our weekly coffee time and say as much 🙂

Until next time.

Mel

Click here to join your other weekend coffee friends.

Introducing Ellen Hawley

Writing Room 101 has a new contributor, so I’d like to introduce you to Ellen Hawley and let you get better acquainted.

Ellen HawleyEllen Hawley is the author of three novels, The Divorce Diet (2014), Open Line  (2008), and Trip Sheets  (1998). She has taught fiction writing and has worked as an editor, a cab driver, a radio talk show host, and several other improbable things. Her blog, Notes from the UK, is about the oddities of living as an American in Britain. Stop by and see what she’s up to.

Ellen will be posting her first piece on Monday, so please stop by and show her some love. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her advice about using dialogue.

the divorce diet

Exciting new development for 2015

Arrow -- "The Climb" -- Image AR309a_0397b -- Pictured: Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “The Climb” — Image AR309a_0397b — Pictured: Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen — Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

I can’t believe I kept this in for so long, I’m usually terrible at keeping secrets. But *drum roll* from January 2015 I will be regularly contributing over at Sorcerer run by the talented and hardworking Gene’O. Primarily I will provide a weekly review of the show Arrow, but there are other treats in store and I’ll tell you more about those in the new year.

It’s something I’m particularly excited about. I enjoy reviewing, adore the show, and am really looking forward to a new challenge. Plus I get to contribute on a pretty awesome blog, so it’s a win win 🙂

Happy Holidays everyone and, to steal a line from Keith Lemon…if I don’t see you through the week, I’ll see you through the window!

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

A show of appreciation

2014-03-10 11.02.05-4

The main reason for this post is to express my gratitude to Vik Tory Arch for the award nomination. She deservedly earned the Liebster recently and her blog is definitely worth checking out.

I’m unsure of the etiquette, but since I already have the award, I should probably accept the kind and generous nomination and be thankful for it. That part is easy…done, and done! But I wanted to acknowledge Vik in some other way, so I’m going to answer the questions she posed as part of the nomination. As an additional gift I’m going to keep the answers short and sweet!

  1. What do you say when you see yourself in the mirror for the first time in the morning? It’s usually a grunt – that’s all I’m really capable of in the morning.
  2. Your favorite color? Yellow
  3. Three random facts about you. I’ve jumped out of a plane (luckily I was strapped to a ski-diving instructor!).  I was held up at knife point when I was eighteen. I went to Drama College.
  4. What inspires you the most? Love and friendship.
  5. Do you have a writer’s block or have too much information and afraid that you might miss some? (for the writers) I often suffer from mental blocks because of the amount of information in my head and my blatant disregard for good planning!
  6. One word describing you? Eccentric
  7. What have you reach this year? A loyal and understanding support network.
  8. Your major goals for your blog? To meet more wonderful people.
  9. Cats, dogs, or books? Books.
  10. The latest shocking news for you? My youngest daughter will be thirteen in October – which means two teenagers in the house. Lord, help me!
  11. What’s your golden lining? My daughters’

In summary, I’d like to thank Vik for her support and encouragement. I appreciate all my blogging friends. It might sound corny (and perhaps a touch dramatic), but you give me something to look forward to in my darkest moments and are part of the light, which invariably sees me through.

Mel

The Shadow Stalker Blog Blitz: Part 2

Marketing KitWelcome back for the second stop at WR101. If you haven’t managed to catch Renee’s author interview, you will find it below. Renee is happy to answer any of your questions, so if there’s anything you’d like to know, either leave your questions in the comments or visit Renee’s blog. This evening, in the final stop, I will be sharing the character interviews provided as part of the tour, so don’t miss out on those.

Renee Scattergood

Author Interview

By: Kathryn Jenkins

 

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember the exact moment you made the decision and why?

A: In 1995 I was going to college for film and video production, and one of the required courses was an English course that required us to do some creative writing. My instructor was so impressed with my work that he had me read it in front of the class on a couple of occasions (which I have to admit was quite horrifying for me). One day he called me up after class was over and asked me if I had ever considered getting any of my work published. I had always loved making up stories, but I never considered writing them down, and I certainly never considered I could be good enough to have something published. He got me thinking about it, though, and I started writing for fun after that. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to consider writing more seriously.

Q: The hardest obstacle every author faces is trying to find the time to write. How do you manage your time with being a mother and a wife?

A: It’s really not easy. My daughter is autistic and has ADHD as well, so she requires a lot of my attention. I tend to write in bits and pieces throughout the day when I can find time. I volunteer in her school’s library, so I tend to do most of my writing then, or when she is occupied with something at home. Keeping a regular writing schedule is not something I can do, though, so I have to just take advantage of every opportunity.

 Q: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories/books?

A: A lot of it comes from my personal experiences and interesting people that I meet. I also read a lot of fantasy novels, and that tends to get my creative juices flowing.

Q: Your first novel is in a serialized format. Can you tell us why you chose this direction with publishing your work?

A: I was originally planning to write it as a series of novels, but I decided I wanted to try something different since so many authors are doing them these days. I had read about how some authors will publish their novels one chapter at a time and charge $1 a chapter. I thought this was a bit excessive since most novels are close to about 30 chapters. That’s a lot of money to charge for a novel in digital format and most ebook distributors won’t charge less than $0.99. So I came up with the idea of writing episodes, based on the concept of a TV series, but in the form of a short novella.

 

I thought it would be a great way to get my story out there and see if there and see if there was an interest before investing several months of work in writing a complete novel. Plus, it will be fun to be able to give my readers something new to read every month.

Q: With having a serialized novel in the process. Do you have chapters written already for the next episode or are you writing as you go?

A: Episodes 2 and 3 are nearly ready for editing and I’ve just started writing Episode 4. Readers can track my progress from my website where I post word count widgets in the side bar. I like to keep at least a few episodes ahead because quite often I will get ideas that will need to be introduced in an earlier episode. This gives me the latitude to make changes before publishing.

Q: While you are in the process of your serialized novel are you working on other projects? Can you tell us about them? 

A: I am working on a novel called The Four. It will be a standalone novel with the potential for a sequel. The only thing I can say about it right now is that it’s about shape shifters with the ability to control people’s minds. It will be a sort of fantasy thriller.

Q: What background do you have that shows up frequently in your writing?

A: I have been into shamanism for many years, and my stories tend to have a very shamanic theme, although very loosely based in reality. I also prefer to write fantasy that takes place in a modern or futuristic world compared to ours.

Q: What are your goals as a writer? Where do you see yourself in five years after starting your journey with, Shadow Stalker: The Hidden Truth?

A: I’m not really big on the idea of fame and popularity. I just want to be successful at what I do and make a good living at it. If in five years I can travel with my family anywhere we want to go, be able to live in a nice house and own a nice car, and do things we want to do without worrying about our finances, I will consider myself successful. Then I might consider some new goals, although, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t be tickled if one of my novels were to be made into a movie that was produced by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. To work with those two men would be a dream come true for me.

 Q: What challenges do you face with writing your serialized novel that other writers don’t?

A: The biggest challenge, I would say, is meeting a monthly deadline to write, edit, publish and promote each episode. Also, once an episode is published, it’s cannon. I have to be very careful that I don’t do anything in future episodes that will contradict something that had been previously written. 

 Q: Since, this is your first time being published. Can you tell us about your experiences? What advice would you give to another author just starting out also?

A: Most of my experience over the years has been overcoming my fears. First, I had to get over the fear of having people read my work. I really didn’t believe I was very good until I had strangers emailing me to praise my writing skills. That was a big confidence booster for me and prompted me to start writing more seriously. I’m a perfectionist, though, and I will not publish something if I can’t read it over and over and still love it. I spend the last ten years working on my writing skills and learning about the industry and marketing because I knew I wanted to self-publish. Making the decision to finally write and publish Shadow Stalker is a big step for me because I’m facing my biggest fear of all…fear of the unknown.

 

If I was to give any advice at all, it would be to know your craft and your industry. Don’t just jump into things blind. You should have a plan, and you should know exactly how you will put that plan into action. Then when you have done all that, get to work! Don’t let your fears stop you from achieving your dreams.

  ***

Thanks for visiting.

Mel

The Shadow Stalker Blog Blitz: Part 1

Marketing KitWriting Room 101 is providing three stops on today’s Blitz, starting with a review of The Shadow Stalker: The Hidden Truth (Episode 1).

Shadow Stalker – The Hidden Truth: Episode 1

Review by Melissa Barker-Simpson

 

This is the first time I’ve read a serial and I didn’t know what to expect. I was pulled into the story right away. The pacing was cleverly crafted so that while the action had the pages turning, there was enough back story to keep you rooted in the plot. I liked the way it unfolded, how the author allowed us to see through Auren’s eyes – a young girl testing the limits placed on her by her step-father and guardian, Kato. Their relationship is an intriguing one, full of secrets and shared respect, despite the duty they are both bound to.

Although Auren’s emotions are those of a typical teenage girl, her circumstances are not. She struggles to find her place, craving the freedom to stretch her wings, all while understanding the depth of her responsibilities. It is a compelling battle  and as a reader I was easily able to identify with this internal struggle.

Auren’s world is an unfamiliar one, but with the help of some lovely descriptions I found it to be an exciting journey, one I am looking forward to continuing in episode 2.

**

Thanks for visiting.

Mel

The Collaboration Station gets a new feature

PosterI’m excited to announce a new feature within the Collaboration Station. Writing Room 101 is to become a stopping point for Blog Tours. The first is a kind of blitz and will be hosted on the 30 August 2014. The tour is organised by Dragon Knight Chronicles as part of a new sister site – Readers Corner.

I had the chance to read Shadow Stalker – The Hidden Truth, by Renee Scattergood. It is the first episode of the series and I look forward to picking up where I left off in episode two.

I will be providing a review on Saturday the 30th – a blitz day in which Renee will be stopping at a variety of blogs. As soon as I have the schedule I’ll update you on what’s in store.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

The Author Collaborative Network – A game of tag

For the past few weeks I’ve been involved in a new group on Goodreads – The Author Collaborative Network. You know how much I like to collaborate and I’ve had fun sharing ideas and planning different projects (yes, I do know how to plan).

The latest project is a tagged blog roll system and the lovely H. M. Clarke started us off.

Hayley posed the following question about my new release:

Why did you choose to write mystery, and which authors influenced that choice?

I love the mystery and thriller genre. Like many writers, I have hundreds of volumes on my book shelf and a good percentage of them are mystery, crime, or thriller. I absolutely adore the Jack Reacher novels, there’s something about Jack that pulls me right in. He’s like a kick-ass version of Bruce Banner (before he turns green). When I was a kid it used to break my heart to see him wander from town to town every week, never really fitting in. It reminds me of Littlest Hobo too, but I’m not sure how the Hulk would feel about the comparison or Jack Reacher for that matter!

I like crime novels because they add a new layer to the intrigue and when you incorporate romance, in the case of authors like Karen Rose, it can be fast-paced and exhilarating. Nora Roberts, as J. D. Robb, excels at writing crime thrillers – in my opinion. Eve Dallas is tough and disciplined and she doesn’t stop until she gets justice!

For my question, I’d like to tag my new friend, Gina Briganti, author of The Dreaming:

What do you think paranormal romance novels like ‘The Dreaming’ and ‘Desert Sunrise’ contribute to the world?

Gina, it’s over to you, or should I say… tag!

Thanks for reading.

Mel

 

get the InLinkz code

Collaboration Station – Foresight: Part 3

As his fingers curled around the object he was blasted with a memory, one strong enough to obliterate the walls of his prison. You can read the previous instalments by clicking on the appropriate link: Part 1Part 2.

An instant later the world dropped away and he was lying in a hospital bed, body broken and twisted; a shadow of its former self.

“Dad?” he croaked, staring into the familiar face.

“Welcome back, son. It’s good to see you.”

He swallowed, his throat so dry it burned. “What happened?”

“There’s time for all that. I’m glad you made it back to us.” His dad’s voice was clouded with unexpected emotion.

Theo would have pressed for details if they weren’t already circling his brain, like a movie on fast forward. The moment he closed his eyes the accident flashed into view, like it had been waiting to surprise him behind darkened lids.

He saw himself at the Academy, among a group of his peers. They were all gifted, unlike him, and yet he felt a familiar sense of peace.

A large globe sat in the centre of the room, and Johnson, one of the founders, was demonstrating his ability to the group. He had a handful of clay figures in his hand, and he used them as part of the show, flaunting his gift. Theo had never liked him. He remembered that well enough.

Hannah bounced up from her seat, challenging Johnson before he could. She was the new girl. He didn’t know her very well, but she had the gift of sight and…

Theo’s eyes snapped open; the scenes from his vision intruding on the small hospital room. “Oh, god,” he muttered, reeling from his discovery.

“What is it?” his father asked, voice rising in panic.

“I know what the drones represent.”

“What?” His father’s face creased in confusion, before settling back to concern. “You were in an accident, buddy. You were heading home from the Academy and your car hit a bus.  Thank God you’re alive.” He pressed a button on the wall above Theo. “You’ve been in a coma for over a week.”

Theo’s mouth dropped open when the doctor walked in. It was him, the old man from the dream. The one who’d called himself his grandfather.

“Great. You made it,” he said, the words echoing back to the room at the top of an endless staircase. “Let’s check you over.”

“I’ll wait outside,” his father said, throwing the doctor an odd look.

“How’re you feeling, Theo?” he asked when they were alone.

“I know what the drones represent,” Theo answered, impatient now.

“Tell me.”

“I was fighting against the machines, wasn’t I? I can control electricity.”

To demonstrate his new discovery he sent the heart monitor into overdrive, stealing a laugh from the old man.

“Finally,” he said, moving forward to turn off the monitor. “But do you remember who I am?”

Theo squinted his eyes, trying to pluck the memory from his brain. “You can’t be my grandfather,” he said, and then remembered the conversation from his dream. They’d been speaking of his biological father. He could see that now.

“For a long time you didn’t remember your real father. After the incident at the factory, your brain shut down so tightly, not even your gift could break free,” he explained. “But with a little help from Johnson, we were able to gain access to your dreams.”

“But something went wrong?” Theo guessed.

“It was too much, too soon, and you got stuck in the dream. You associated your emerging gift with a threat, hence the drones. Your body was actually fighting the very thing that was trying to help you.”

Theo turned when he heard voices in the hall and knew they didn’t have much time.

“You’re gift will serve us all when the time comes. Until then, you must go on as normal and continue to attend the Academy. Johnson will teach you.”

“Not him. Please, anyone but him,” Theo begged.

“I don’t make the rules. I enforce them.” The old man, his grandfather, he was beginning to realise, jabbed the switch on the monitor. “When it’s safe I’ll tell you all about our work, and the truth about your father.”

“Wait,” Theo croaked, as he began to walk out of the room. “Are you really a doctor?”

The responding grin made him look positively youthful. “I have talents of my own,” he said, and slipped from the room.

Theo’s mind was reeling, but he didn’t have time to digest the information before the door opened again.

“I have a friend of yours,” his father said. “She’s been here every day.”

Hannah stepped around him with an armful of books. “Just call me his guardian angel,” she said, and winked.

On a weary sigh Theo relaxed back against the pillows. “It’s better than stalker anyway,” he said and she laughed.

***

I hope you enjoyed it. Rachel and I had great fun working together.

Thanks for reading.

Mel