Monday 26 September 2011

If, at first, you don’t succeed…by Claire Robyns

Today's guest blogger is Carina Press author Claire Robyns, who will tell what to do if, at first, you don't succeed... 

Rewrite, rewrite and rewrite again.

There’s one publishing mantra that gets drummed into authors from the beginning of their quest for publication, “Put that one away and start something new.”

Sound familiar?

And, actually, that’s not bad advice. I’ve done it a few times more than I’d have liked. But what if there’s one story that won’t go quietly? Slightly troublesome, ever so brazen and utterly stubborn!

 Well, you don’t give up.

Buy the eBook
 from Carina Press
Can She Outwit Fate? 

Gemma is on a collision course with heartbreak. At least, according to the fortune-teller her best friend drags her to see. 

Gemma doesn't believe a word of it, but when other predictions start to come true, she begins to suspect that gorgeous, gray-eyed Nick is the man foretold to break her heart before she can find her soul mate. Too bad she's never met a man she's wanted more, because now she has to get him to dump her before she falls too hard.

Nick has plans of his own. 

He's ready to settle down with Ms. Right, and everything points to the beautiful Gemma. He's determined to prove to her that he's the perfect boyfriend—even if she does seem to be trying her best to scare him off…

The first version of Second-Guessing Fate was written almost entirely on a plane as I travelled extensively between Cape Town and Johannesburg for work during that period. At that time, I was determined to be published in category style romance, even though I kept getting told I had too much external plot and too many important secondary characters. Stubborn as I am, I wrote the book I wanted, subbed to the publisher I wanted, and got rejected. Not totally unexpected and not the first time I’d fallen down this hole.

Obviously something had to change and it wasn’t going to be the type of stories I loved writing. So it would have to be the publisher I was subbing to.

I rewrote the story, changing the point of view (POV) from 3rd person to 1st, jazzed it up to my heart’s delight now I didn’t have those category restrictions, and shopped it out to agents in the UK. Over here, it’s practically impossible to get published without an agent. And it’s practically impossible to get an agent, but that’s another story for another time :)

A few nibbles.

No bites.

Obviously something had to change and it wasn’t going to be the UK publishing business.

I changed the  (POV) back to 3rd person and relocated from London to Manhattan. I practically rewrote the book, but kept the main characters, the theme and plot thread.

And it wasn’t long before my wonderful publisher, Carina Press, said they loved Second-Guessing Fate and went to contract.

If you’re in the mood for a couple of laughs, you can read the first two chapters of Second-Guessing Fate here

Thanks for having me here, Judy! :)
Claire, it was my pleasure. After all that hard work re-writing this novel, we wish you top ratings and mega-sales for your new release.
My review of Claire's fun, flirty and fabulous contemporary romance Second-Guessing Fate is up on Goodreads and Library Thing
You can buy you own copy of Second-Guessing Fate from Carina Press, Barnes and Noble Nook and Amazon.

Friday 23 September 2011

I'm Versatile (or maybe just unfocused!)

Thanks to Carina Press author Claire Robyns for nominating me for "The Versatile Blogger" award! That sounds much better than being an "unfocused" blogger - my blog reflects my eclectic tastes and therefore, so I've read, breaks all the good blogging rules.

To claim my award I must share 7 things about myself you may not know:

1. I've wanted to be a writer from about age 12, but never had the confidence, so I only started writing in my 40's!

2. I'm always on diet but never seem to lose weight (maybe all those chocolates have something to do with it?)

3. I prefer a mild temperature - one of the reasons my parents left Zimbabwe was because I was always getting sick from the heat in the hot months.

4. No matter how many extra language lessons I take, I can still only speak English. In a country where there are 11 official languages, and most people speak three or four of those official languages, I feel embarrassed at my complete inability to learn another language.

5. I'm a terrible procrastinator. I put things off as much as I can, especially starting new things (like a new novel or a new diet)

6. I'm cat mad (maybe this should be number 1?) I was 6 months old when I got my first cat and have had cats ever since. Husband had to choose between a dog or me and my cats! He said it was a hard decision, but luckily me & my cats pipped the canines at the post!

7. I'm addicted to blogging and social media. It's very sad really, but what can I do?

I also have to pass this award on to new blogs I've recently discovered:

Positive Letters...Inspirational Stories: Hilary talks through a variety of topics, and always in such a positive, happy way I leave her blog smiling!

Frances Garrod: Author Frances Garrod has a way with words. Her blog posts are short, sweet and often hilarious (and sometimes serious)  

Tabouleh: Lana's blog is full of wisdom and culture from an unusual part of the world. 

40 and Loving it (well, mostly): Follow Canadian Barbara on her heart wrenching journey of grief

Simon Hay Soul Healer: Magical. That's all I can say. Magical.

Meandering in a Field of Words: Jennas's blog meanders through a variety of topics on how life can be an inspiration for writing

Cold as Heaven: For keeping me reading about everything from trips to Moscow to tales of Winterland.

One Stoned Crow: His blog makes me appreciate how lucky I am to live on this beautiful amazing continent, Africa.

And there we go. Have fun browsing. And, if you get chance remember to visit Claire's blog - she's launching her new novel "Second Guessing Fate" on 26 September and will be having an orgy of launch prizes - the pre-launch party giveaways have already started!

Monday 19 September 2011

The Key to an Author's Heart

Giovanni Gelati
Today my guest is the versatile and charismatic Giovanni Gelati, writer of the Fiction Book Blog "Gelati's Scoop"; host of the Blogtalk Radio Show The G-ZONE; Marketing and Social Media Consultant; Graphic Design Artist; Owner and Operator of G-ZONE Media; and published author with Trestle Press. 

Giovanni is going to give us The Key to an Author's Heart

Question: How many novels, books, ebooks (digital short stories, novellas, full length work) have you purchased over time? Tens, Hundreds, Thousands? 

Now ask and answer yourself truthfully how many ratings have you left? One, Two, maybe Five? A bit disproportionate don’t you think? Why is that? Why would you purchase something to read and then not voice your opinion on it? Do you feel that your voice is too small? Maybe you think that what you think or have to say doesn’t matter? 

I can attest to the fact that if you are thinking like that you are way off base and wrong, way wrong. I have yet to interact with an author that has not thanked me for my thoughts and opinion. They are what they work for. 

If you haven’t noticed, the keys to the executive gatekeeper suites have been handed to out to everybody that reads and wants to express themselves in one form or another. 

I personally love that I get to hold one now. It is shiny, fits very well on my key ring and I exercise that right every day I can. The authors that really are in this for the right reasons do this for only one reason: to satisfy us as readers

You did not hear that first here, I can guarantee you that, but it is true and needs to be reinforced.

Has word of mouth advertising died? No, it is stronger than ever! 

Than why not do the things that can really elevate your opinion, throw your stone into the pond and make a ripple? Have YOUR voice heard! Have YOUR desires met as a customer, leave that rating on Amazon, Goodreads, Library Thing and your various social networks. 

The authors that work so hard to get noticed, that want that love, that desire the feedback, that need to know what YOU think of their hard work, their solitary labor now out there in the world for all to see, anxiously wait next to their laptops, waiting to see how many ratings they have and what they are. Did they think I suck? If so why? What can I do as a writer better to satisfy those that wish to read my work?

Do you want your key? 

It is and has been waiting for you. Turn it and open up a new world to yourself, one that should be a happy place, one that should offer you power, validation, sense of community, pride, and belonging. The INNER CIRCLE awaits those that chose to enter, no invitation is necessary now, which has been handed out a while ago, to everyone, no exclusions, and all are invited to attend.

What is your choice? How do you want your voice to be heard? 

I say make it loud, do your thing, but do it with respect and reverence as a holder of power should. 

A wise old man once said: “With great power comes great responsibility.” It is all too true. Heed those words and enter the door of your power: the authors are waiting to hear from you!

As you can see from my blogpost "The Prerogative of the Harlot" I agree with your last points, Giovanni! As writers and readers we have great power and great responsibility. Authors have the power to influence people with the words. Readers have the power to make or break an author's career. Authors have the responsibility to publish only the very best work they can. And readers have the responsibility to treat the author's hard work with respect, irrespective of whether they like the story or not. 

What do you think the key to an author's heart is?
 You can find Giovanni on Twitter as @gelatiscoop and on Facebook as Giovanni Gelati
If you purchase a Trestle Press title, and want to reach out to the author on a one-on-one basis, and for whatever reason cannot find them, please email Giovanni directly and he will make sure you connect to the author. Trestle Press authors want to talk to you; they want to know what your opinions are, and what you think could make them better to deliver the type of content that satisfies you as a reader. Here is Giovanni's email address:  

Monday 12 September 2011

Can you sever Love from Charity?

I love quotes. Why try and say something succinct when someone far more famous than I'll ever be has already said it perfectly?

In “Dancing in the Shadows of Love” I wanted to use quotes as a road map for my readers. Each chapter has a quote from Shakespeare as a sub-heading. All of these quotes, except for the last chapter’s quote, come from Shakespeare’s tragedies. 

I also needed a quote to place the novel in a general context.

Years ago, before I started this novel, there was one quote that, to me, encapsulated the main theme of the story: what is love? 

My first choice of an opening quote for "Dancing in the Shadows of Love" was the famous definition of love found in the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 13:13 which, in the traditional King James Bible, reads:  

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three;
but the greatest of these is charity. 

 But take a look at this same verse from the New American Standard Bible (NASB):

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

Isn’t it interesting that modern versions of the Bible have substituted the word “love” for the word “charity”?  

Foreign translations are also ambivalent in which word to use. The Louis Segond French translation is:

Maintenant donc ces trois choses demeurent: la foi, l'espérance, la charité; 
mais la plus grande de ces choses, c'est la charité

But La Bible du Semeur  (as well as Italian and Spanish versions) specifically uses the word "love":

En somme, trois choses demeurent: la foi, l'espérance et l'amour,
mais la plus grande d'entre elles, c'est l'amour.

Aah! How romantic that word l'amour sounds!

Left: I was brought up on the King James Bible, which uses the word "charity" in 1 Corinthians 13:13. Our family bible, which has the date 1st  June, 1895 inscribed on the inside front cover, is the King James Bible. This was read to me with my mother's milk: my Dad is of the old school, he still reads his Bible out loud morning and evening, as did his dad, and his dad.

Why have modern translations (from 19th century on, particularly late 19th century) started using the word “love” in 1 Corinthians 13:13?

From what I can gather this was to move away from the concept of charity as "almsgiving.” I’m not a theologian and, unable to read either Hebrew or Ancient Greek (which is on my bucket list!), I can’t go into the scholarly debate on the veracity of the KJV text and the source transcripts used (the original translators ignored the Latin Vulgate in use and went to Greek and Hebrew texts as their sources). 

But the way I understand Paul's true meaning in this verse is based on the archaic meaning of the word “charity.” Not as “almsgiving,” but as agape: compassion, a kindly and lenient attitude towards people or love of one’s fellow men.  In other words, Divine Love.

In “Dancing in the Shadows of Love,” Lulu, Jamila and Zahra constantly search for love. They explore various forms of love: eros (erotic or romantic love), storge (family affection), phileo (friendship) and, finally, they each reach a point where they can, if they so choose, explore the highest form of love: charity, or agape.  

Do the three women choose to embrace the Divine Love offered to them at their moment of truth or do they reject the ultimate form of love that exists? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

And, despite its profound influence on the story, when you do read “Dancing in the Shadows of Love,” you won’t find 1 Corinthians 13:13 quoted anywhere in the book (although you may find it tattooed somewhere!) As the characters grew and the story took shape into a more universal view of love, I found a more appropriate opening quote to contextualize the story:

There is only one language, the language of the Heart.
There is only one religion, the religion of Love.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Mystic, 1926-2011)

In this multi-cultural world where good people, compassionate people, are defined more by what’s in their hearts than by the organised religion they subscribe too, the idea of agape – Divine Love – as a spiritual, rather than a religious, concept appeals to me. After all, isn’t that what Paul was saying when he said that charity, or love, is greater even than faith or hope?

In the final chapters of “Dancing in the Shadows of Love,” Lulu, Jamila and Zahra have to choose between faith, hope and charity knowing that making choices can sometimes lead to tragic consequences: the risks and challenges these three women must face in their search for love are veiled in the quotes from Shakespeare’s tragedies which begin each chapter…except for the quote from one of Shakespeare comedies, which introduces the final chapter:

“Charity itself fulfils the law,
And who can sever love from charity?”
Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act IV, Sc iii, Line 363

Yes, indeed. In a world where wars are fought in the name of religions, perhaps the answer lies in reminding ourselves that love and charity are synonymous with Divine Love, irrespective of the shape or form the Divine Being we may choose to worship assumes.    

How would you define the relationship between love and charity? 

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Can you live in the present?

In today’s busy world, how often do we attempt to juggle the different activities — our jobs, our families, our personal goals — in our lives? 

If your life is anything like mine, I’m constantly manipulating my time. I steal a moment here to tackle that load of dirty washing or a moment there to do some writing, all the while trying to keep a sense of balance and order in my life. 

Often I’m overwhelmed by a feeling of being fractured by all the demands placed on me.

“Stop!” I want to yell (and sometimes do!) “I’m only one person!” the rest of my guest blog post "Moment to Moment" over at blogging friend Lana's blog "Tabouleh". 

I'd love to have you come and join the chat!

Thursday 1 September 2011

Family Fun: Michael Moves On

 Michael, all grown up in July 2011
Today is a very special day. 

Not only is it Spring Day here in the southern hemisphere, yes, it's officially spring down south! - but on this day, way back in 1988 my sister delivered into the world the most gorgeous, the most handsome, the most delightful baby boy, my nephew Michael Benjamin Cockerill! 

Michael's middle name is Benjamin, named after his Da. Many of you know my Dad has recently been very ill. This reinforced for me, once again, how much my family enriches my life. 

Over the next few months I'll be introducing you to the different members of my family through a series of Q and A interviews. 

Here are Michael's answers: 

         1)Tell us about yourself

Michael hard at work during his Mining Engineering course
As of today, I am a 23 yr old male, surprise, surprise, with the name Michael, who has recently finished a BEng Mining Engineering degree at the Camborne School of Mines in the United Kingdom. I'm an avid sports player with Hockey being my predominant sport and have a burning desire to succeed in life. 

2)  Where do you live now?

I am currently between South Africa and United Kingdom with plans to emigrate to Australia in January 2012, where I start my first job at Newlands Colliery, Queensland, about 860km northwest of Brisbane . But before then I'll be spending some time working in England. In September I'll be travelling to Liberia and at the end of October I'll spend a few weeks doing voluntary wildlife rehabilitation work at the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa.

3) What does the future hold for you?

Michael and his Sophie
Good things, hopefully! Being a mining engineer, a large portion of my future will undoubtably involve travel, hopefully this will be accompanied by a companion in whom I will be able to confide. 

4)What do you worry about most?
My biggest worry is that I will not succeed. True story! 
5)  You’re a seasoned traveller. What is your favourite place in the world that you’ve visited? Why?  Please share some photos with us.

Although having travelled through many places in the world, I must say the most incredible experience I have had must be to the Pilansberg Nature Reserve in January 2011, with my girlfriend, Sophie le Butt. The trip was incredible, from the reserve, ivory tree lodge, to the wildlife in the park, so abundant and healthy! See piccys below! All taken with  a Nikon D60, Tamron lens 18-200 on Auto setting. 

Fluffy & curious baby zebra

Sunset in the Pilansberg

Hippo showing off
6) What do you think has changed about yourself in the last five years?

I think in the past 5 years, having had the experience that I have with university away from home after having had a very cushy home life, I think the biggest difference and changes that I have noticed is my maturity, having grown up to be a person with a proper understanding of multicultural views which I believe is of the utmost importance in this ever changing world

There's not only the big five to admire.
Can you see the dung beetle?
These industrious creatures push balls of dung
many times their own weight.

Lunch time for a giraffe

Rhino trying to look mean,
but only succeeding in looking dozy!

Lioness walking with her pride (males below)

Can you see the chompers on the front lion? 
Thankfully social media allows us to keep in touch no matter where in the world Michael is travelling (except, perhaps some of the less inhabited places he visits!) so when he starts his Australian adventure, we'll still be able to keep up with each other's lives.  

There is one thing I want Michael to take with him as he moves on in his life. In his interview, he speaks of his burning desire to succeed in this world. I want to gift him with this poem, which already describes the type of person he is:


by Ralph Waldo Emerson 

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people 
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics 
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others,
To leave the world a bit better, 
whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded. 

We love you, Michael!