Wednesday, 29 June 2011

'Junction: An Amaris Suspense Short Story' - for all the times when reality bites!

Life can be messy and threatening and uncertain... especially when it comes to those difficult, bizarre little moments that bring out the very worst facets human nature holds within it - all those hidden bits of our being that most of us would have preferred never to have discovered at all.

Because, after all, to confront our innermost selves might force us to choose between what we want and what's right.

And no one really wants to be faced with such a choice.

Especially when you're stuck at the perilous... 'Junction: An Amaris Suspense Short Story':
Would you betray your most sacred ideals to protect what's yours? A yuppie racing to work in her dented little second-hand car discovers the answer to this question when she is faced with an unusual sight, at the Junction ...

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Thursday, 23 June 2011

Re-Learning Beauty: of book covers, and styling, and life, oh my!

The decision to self-publish my poetry ebooks came with a rush of exhilaration, excitement... until I realised the books would have to have excellent covers to capture the attention of my readers.

Now, one would think a creative author would have no problem designing creative covers, right? So wrong...

Once I got my BookCoverPro software in the oven, I began the process of baking book covers, one after the other. Now, I thought I'd be able to do them really well. I was pretty proud of the first cover I produced anyway.

But when my sis passed me by as I sat staring triumphantly at the computer screen, she expressed her thoughts with something akin to "Yuck!"...

And thus did my bubble burst. It really was a sickly green I'd thought off for that first cover, I admitted.

Down plopped my sis on the seat next to me, and pointed out the lack of imagination and charm in my beautiful baby (er, cover).

"I'm trying to make it modern, make poetry appeal to a new generation!" I protested.

"Nah," was my sister's frank response. "That cover's old. And dull. And boring."

At this point, it is essential that you understand something. My sister and I are both writers, but she has always had that extra something creative when it comes to beautiful things. She spots 'em, she hoards 'em, she wears 'em, and darn it, she can design them as well apparently. And for this reason, I wisely ignored the desire to slap her silly and invited her to brainstorm cover ideas with me.

Courtesy of her helpful input (and *ahem* a lot of my own ideas as well:DD), the cover began to resemble something pink and flowery. Pretty in pink EVERYWHERE.

That was way too feminine for me. And so, (we're getting warmer), I insisted on some green, like this:

It was clear we both liked this cover- but something wasn't quite right, and we had to play around for a bit, tweaking and experimenting until, finally - some agonising minutes later- we hit paydirt!

The entire process took a little over two hours. And I was blown away enough to release all my poetry ebooks with the same cover in different colours:) Here's 'In the Madness of Meeting' in purple, and 'Just Imagine' in blue:

After this windfall of gorgeous book covers, something hit me... We're all really like books, aren't we? Only our personal styling forms our 'book covers', translating our inner person to the outside, and attracting others to us along the way.

Which is why, in the same way a book cover advertises the content of a book, it's probably smart to style ourselves with the vision of who we really are inside.

Now, why this only occured to me now, I have no idea. I just didn't go through the typical girlie age that so many of my contemporaries (including my sis, who seems to have never left that age:D) went through. She, for one, truly appreciates beautiful things in all their forms, including clothes and accessories. Styling an outfit is something she's always enjoyed doing, and she truly has an eye for unique, beautiful objects to decorate a room. Or herself:)

Me, I liked beautiful things, but only in passing. They never held a pivotal role in the way I lived life.

But now, I see that though inner beauty is the most important, integral element in building a personality, internal beauty should be translated into outer beauty to give those looking in from the outside a chance to see what getting to know you might be like.

As shallow as it sounds, everyone judges a book by its cover, even if they deny it.

Well, maybe if they're marooned somewhere with a really awful book cover-ed publication, they'd pick it up and fall in love with it, regardless of its outside shell. But let's face it... how many of us get marooned on some island with only a single book to read (metaphorically, I mean)? In reality, we're always in the company of others, whether it's at work, with family or with friends. And it helps those who're passing by the great human bookshelf if our cover somewhat matches what's inside.

To do this, of course, it would be good if we could figure out our own selves enough to reflect the right cover - as my sis put it, the reason she disliked my initial book cover ideas were because they didn't match the imaginative vision and charm of my actual poems, something which the final covers convey pretty accurately.

There's a time for everything though. Like the layers of a book cover, it's only right to spend lots of time building the foundation for who you are before reaching a point where you can effectively learn to adorn your outer self to match what's within, re-learn beauty in a way that makes it relevant and accessible to who you are as a person.

I've always been obsessive by nature, learning as much as I can about one thing before moving on to the next. Yes, like a layered book cover, indeed. Or an onion:) But now that I feel my inner self's foundation is well-established, it's only natural to move on to the aesthetics of external beauty. As my book covers were carefully built from the inside out, it's time to re-learn my own beauty so that I can style myself with the appropriate effort and taste.

I just hope I succeed in approaching the beauty of my final book cover though, instead of staying mired in the dullness of the first.

One really never knows when it comes to something as ephemeral and hard-to-pin-down as beauty:)

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Monday, 20 June 2011

A Compliment For Poetry? Who'd Have Thunk It?:D

I've been a reader for as long as I can remember. I'm betting I learned to read before I could even walk, tho my mum might dispute that:) But I've definitely been reading since forever...

I can even recall vividly the moment I completed an entire book in one sitting: in case you're wondering, the book was Enid Blyton's The Enchanted Wood.

I stayed cosy and warm on my living room couch, unmoving and absorbed in those black words on white paper, for close to half a day. And wow, it was amazing to get drawn into an absolutely different - weird and magical - world from the one I knew I lived in.

That sense of wonder and awe at the power of the written word to compel a reader to travel all over the Earth and beyond has stayed with me since childhood. I'm always surrounded by books at home. And somehow, as messy as it sounds, I find a way to surround myself with books of some sort or another when I'm at work.

I love reading. I simply adore reading. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't read another book. And I really can't fathom how some people go their whole lives without reading books. Everyone's different, of course. But to not read out of choice... That form of existence is anathema to me, and would no doubt depress me out of my wits.

Now that I've got across my love affair with reading, perhaps you'll be able to understand why writing became my more obsessive love. Maybe I'm trying to reproduce the magic I experienced reading the works of others. Maybe I simply feel an urgent need to contribute to the library of fascinating, everlasting stories that the human community has been compiling since the dawn of all things dreamt and spoken. Maybe I'm a dreamer who enjoys escaping reality sometimes:) Whatever the reason, I write every day, even if it's just a few words on my blogs, and I never fail to enjoy the experience of dancing with language and thought each time I write.

I think that ever since I read The Enchanted Wood though, I've been hoping also that some reader out there might just find my writing as wonderful and enchanting as I found Blyton's so long ago.

This hope was more like a dream, you know - ie, I never really thought this would happen in reality. I've since been proven wrong, and gradually developed what I thought was a healthy relationship with writing and being a writer.

But - somehow, there's always a 'but', isn't there? - when I started putting my writing up as ebooks on Smashwords and Amazon's Kindle Store, all the old doubts crept back in.

I'd spend days wondering which works would get the most attention from readers, which would be the most attractive and enjoyable to others. What if no one liked anything? What if every single piece of my writing sucked big time?? (yes, I became a bit nutty at one point:D)

Whenever these thoughts plagued my writerly mind, I girded my loins (hmm, never thought I'd ever use that phrase in my writing) and reminded myself of the power of self-promotion:D Frankly, I thought my short stories would do far better than my poetry, and was prepared to market 'em for all I was worth.

But the funny thing is, out of all the works I've written so far, it's my poetry that's given me my first (four star) Amazon review:)

Given the wonderful compliments in that review - especially a comparison to Emily Dickinson that made me go numb with shock (and awe lol) for some seconds *still jumping with glee inside as I write this* - I've become more convinced than ever that this is the path my life must take, but I've also realised how insecure a writer I can be.

I didn't think I'd need validation from others, but that's obviously untrue, especially since it was after that review that I began to feel really good about the effort I'd put into arranging all those messy words into perfect, neat, remarkable little sentences. All those late nights and frustrated thoughts of never making it as a successful author finally seemed worth something tangible, real... something Blyton-ish in power:)

Hmmm it seems that, for this writer, validation from readers is akin to sweet, soft balm for the writerly soul:)

Whatever happens from now on, at least I'll always know that someone out there has read and liked my work. What a gorgeous piece of knowledge for any author to have at the back of their mind as they sit down to create beloved, intimate tales for others to read:)

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Sunday, 19 June 2011

'Dreamer: An Amaris Suspense Short Story' - for fans of suspense, magical realism and fat little therapists:)

If you've read my Amaris Short, 'The Shoplifter Never After: An Amaris Suspense Short Story', you might have hoped for more of that odd, round little therapist and his one to one conversations with eccentric characters; at least, I hope you wanted more:)

If so *drumroll*, here it is -  'Dreamer: An Amaris Suspense Short Story', a sequel to the infamous Shoplifter Never After is now up for sale on and Amazon's Kindle Store:

When the world refuses to accept who you are, but the universe you dream up to replace it becomes more real to you than it should be, what do you do? Perhaps only a certain, rotund therapist can find an answer to that burning question...

With elements of magical realism, suspense and just a hint of romance, this is one Amaris Short you won't want to miss!

Sample/purchase at Amazon's Kindle Store
Sample/purchase at Smashwords
Find me on Smashwords

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