Friday, 19 September 2014

Battle of the Block 2

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold (

I’ve been struggling with writing for the last few months. Stuck as stuck can be. A Maiden’s Legacy is out and it’s time for the final book in the trilogy: The Seventh Daughter. But somehow this particular book simply refused to be written. Now as I’m back on my feet, or more back at the keyboard, I can see clearly why that was. There were just too many possibilities and I worried about letting my readers down with an ending that they might not have liked. Most of all, I was worried about letting myself down in the hype to make everyone else happy.

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”—Cyril Connolly

I never agreed with this quote as I used to think that we write to publish and therefore need to conform a little. But since I started hitting a brick wall, I tried writing again for myself and it all worked out. Writing exercises are a Godsend! I’m majorly into Jojo Moyes books right now and am dissecting them for all their worth. Here is what I found:

a.       Her stories are about everyday things that happen and with which people are familiar (so nothing new or exciting)

b.      She has extremely strong characters who you believe exist and can clearly visualize because they have already existed somewhere else before

c.       The flow of her words is what sets her books apart as best sellers!

So while pondering these qualities, I decided to start doing a short writing exercise everyday with a well known story, in my own words. It doesn’t have to be long and knowing the full plot helps you concentrate on your style. Here’s one of mine, written for myself and no one else. But I’m sharing it with you because I hope this helps you on your journey in battling the block!

Writing Practise One:
Little Red Riding Hood
                So this girl decides that she likes walking around the forest a bright red outfit which will not blend in with anything let alone a dark green forest. Right. Her mother sends her only child on an errand to bring her sick grandma a basket of food and she merrily goes hopping off into the unknown. Of course, her mum warns her of the dangers lurking around every bend but can you ever really be prepared?
                She traipses along the forest paths, straying off the beaten path because some flowers and birds look much more alluring than retaining the sole possession of her limbs. Wolves, the poor creatures are wrongly portrayed as evil everywhere, in all fairytales, all over the world. So this hungry wolf stalks the little unsuspecting girl in her red riding hood and sees that she’s off to her grandma’s. No one knows how he got this piece of information.
                He ends up reaching her grandma’s cottage before she does and stuffing poor old grandma into a cupboard. Locking the door must have been a feat for the fingerless creature but he manages...somehow. He lies in her bed and waits.
                The innocent little girl comes a knocking. He calls her in. She is shocked by his appearance. Yeah, her grandma must have looked really good under normal circumstances. Because of her inability to tell the difference between a big bad wolf and a little old lady, she is eaten. Unfortunately, as ignorance tends to be something that is encouraged in our world, a wood cutter comes along and saves her from the belly of the wolf. He swallowed her whole, like a python, not like a wolf would, and so she emerges unscathed.
And gets to kill him back.

The End

Monday, 14 July 2014

Fulfilment and Co.

"Too often, we decide to follow a path that is not really our own, one that others have set for us. We forget that whichever way we go, the price is the same: in both cases, we will pass through both difficult and happy moments. But when we are living our dream, the difficulties we encounter make sense."
- Paulo Coelho
I just found out that most people feel as though they are living someone else’s life. I really thought that only a few of us crazies have the time and wanton imagination to really question where we are in life, but apparently, most people feel this way. We can now stop evil-eyeing those seemingly perfect people who “have their act together”.
It’s pretty daunting to wander aimlessly through life’s train station and wonder which train to jump on; which direction to take without anyone telling you where it’s going to end up. A guarantee that it will go to Hogwarts would be nice, but chances are many are headed straight toward Little Whinging with Uncle Vernon at the door step.
In A Maiden’s Legacy, Anjeli has forgotten what it’s like to do anything with passion. She wants to go back to being a hero but feels as though her path has always been set for her. Anger, dissatisfaction and boredom have become her dreaded companions. She finds it difficult to concentrate on anything; she feels she has lost herself.
“...finding fulfilment comes from four main areas: discovering your values, finding your purpose, connecting to your passions and playing to your natural strengths.”—(

So now comes the final part of Anjeli’s journey—the last book of The Scarlet Omen trilogy. She has to start taking things into her own hands and fight for what she believes in despite the stupid prophecy that has changed her life completely.
20+ Ways to Live a More Positive, Fulfilling and Happy Life
October 17, 2012 by Roger Lawson II 
1.      Be the hero of your own story
2.      Fail often; fail better
3.      Empty your mind
4.      Build momentum
5.      Death, defeat and life domination
6.      Find inspiration daily
7.      Learn from the past and then let it go
8.      Do the simplest things everyday
9.      Stop hiding
10. Be grateful
11. Be positive and believe in yourself
12. Be kind
13. Tell safety to suck it
14. Be present
15. Quit the internet
16. Stomp out comparison
17. Hug it out and forgive quickly
18. Be yourself
19. Rise
20. Be the hero of someone else’s story
21. Explore
22. Grow
23. Treat money like a tool
The problem with life is that you can’t always just psych yourself up to be happy and fulfilled because someone or something will always step up and say, “Hell to the no!” So what do we do? How do we stay ourselves and be who we want to be with all the outside influences striving to put us down at every turn?

I seriously don’t know and am trying to find out as well. Maybe Anjeli will figure it out for me and save me the trouble! I’ll let you know.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Back to the Future

I was quite surprised to hear that there were rumours going around about the undertones of the movie Frozen, which I loved more than any other Disney movie ever made. Finally: a book about a girl saving herself instead of waiting around for Prince Charming to do all the work! I’m thrilled. Unfortunately, it isn’t unanimous. I really don’t know how people can take something as beautiful as sisterly love and as powerful as believing in yourself and twist it into something else. And even if it were all about coming out (which would be a good thing), what they said about bestiality is just silly. Okay, it is a free world and everyone is allowed an opinion but I sometimes think given the chance people would find something wrong with things as innocent as puppies.

“...Greydanus argues that the Oscar-winning song “Let It Go” shows lead character Elsa “celebrating her acceptance of her true identity” and essential “coming out”, while her lack of interest in male suitors implies lesbianism...
...As for the so-called bestiality, Greydanus points to a line in the film’s “Fixer Upper Song” about hunter Kristoff's relationship with Sven the reindeer: “His thing with the reindeer/That’s a little outside of nature’s laws!”...”

Stupidity at its peak it seems!

I was also recently informed that my female characters are much too bold to be Asian girls. Apparently, I’ve not been setting a very good example by introducing young, female characters who go off and save the world. Their boisterous opinions and sometimes not very ladylike language have come under scrutiny. And all I can say is, Yay! Girls can do anything a guy high heels at that!

Why is it that our society thinks that once girls start thinking in a certain way, they stop being feminine? When I was growing up, it was all about empowering women and strutting about in pants suits. Now pants suits are aggressive and female characters get lesbianism thrown in their faces if they so much as step out of Prince Charming’s shadow. A woman can be strong and feminine at the same time. Just like a man can be strong and sensitive too.

So what happened? Are we moving backwards? Back to the ages where women were supposed to sit around in towers with their hair growing out long enough to climb up (nursing a major headache in the process!)?

“Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity.” – Gandhi

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” -- Eleanor Roosevelt

"The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world." -- Charles Malik

Book two of The Scarlet Omen trilogy is coming out in a few days...filled with kick ass women! Let’s see what people have to say about my female pirate captain, junkie fairy, hormonal teenager, a witch set on revenge and a girl who tries to do the right thing...despite everyone telling her to cut it out. I can’t wait.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Should've, Could've, Would've

Happy New Year! I know it’s a little late...sorry, but I’ve been busy preparing for the release of my second novel. Anjeli’s journey continues in April and I’m really excited about her progress—the closer she gets to fulfilling her destiny, the more mature she gets and its thrilling to be able watch her grow through the eyes of my readers.

So what are your plans for the New Year? Someone asked me something the other day that got me thinking: If I could travel back in time, what would I say to my younger self?

“No man is rich enough to buy back his past.”—Oscar Wilde

I thought I’d jump at the chance, zoom back in my awesome time machine (no it’s NOT going to look like a Londoner phone booth) and catch myself at the brink of puberty. I’d say, “Stop believing everything society has told you to believe. Make up your own mind. Find a goal and stick with it. Do everything in your power to achieve your dreams. Study hard, respect your elders and YES alcohol is bad for you.” I know, I know... my younger self will probably faint from shock or some space-time continuum side effect half way through my monologue but still...

And then I got to thinking: wait just a dog gone second! What if someone asked me the very same question in thirty years? What would I want my older self to come back and tell me? (Okay, besides bringing back a list of the winning lottery numbers of the past 30 years...I’m a writer not a saint!) My older self would probably say the exact same things: Don’t waste your youth on what if’s, work hard to achieve what you want for your future self. Live life in a way that you will have no regrets in 30 years!

“The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”—Albert Einstein

We spend our lives living in the past or the future; not realizing that today will be the past tomorrow. So what have I achieved today to make my tomorrow better? Have I done everything I can to make this past worthy of future stories?

And so, and so, and so, I know what I’m planning to do this year. I’m going to live in the present and to live a life that when asked, my future self (dressed in Armani, hopefully with keys to a yacht in hand and dozens of grandkids) will only come back to say, “Well played, Girl. Well played.”

“Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”—Buddha

Friday, 24 January 2014

Bookworm Galore with Kimshme

1. Please tell us about yourself and your blog.

My name is Kimshme, I was born and raised on the beautiful island of St. Thomas Virgin Islands. I am a mother of three amazing children who inspire me to always strive to be my best self. I created my blog The Reading Beauty because of my appreciation for the written word. I wanted to keep track and record my feelings about what I have read, and also to study the different writing styles of my favorite authors.

2. What inspired you to start book blogging? What are the challenges that you faced?

I felt inspired to start book blogging when I read my friends blog, it seemed like a good way to gain some writing practice and also to connect with people who has the same interest as myself. Right now I feel the only challenge I have with blogging is being consistent. 

3. What are your favourite book blogs? 

A few of my favorite book blogs are:

4. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

If I could change one thing about the world it would the way some children are treated. I strongly believe that children are the most precious gifts that are given to us, we do not have to give birth to a child to be an influence in their lives. In some parts of the world, even in our own backyards our beautiful souls are abused physically mentally and sexually, yes if I could change one thing, this would definitely be it

5. As a reader, what do you look for in a book? What should a writer do to be able to catch your attention and keep it?

I look forward to being transported into another world. I want to run with or from vampires and werewolves, fly with the angels and fairies, kick demon and zombie butt. Being transported within a book is the best way for a writer to hook me. As a reader I look for the connection between the reader and the character.

6. How do think that books like Twilight and Harry Potter become famous?

I think Twilight and Harry Potter were able to become famous because the authors took a common story and made it their own, they were able to take age old tales and weave them into something that felt fresh and new. 

7. Do you have any recommendations for authors or readers who are thinking about starting their own blogs?

Just do it. You won’t regret it, blogging opens you up to a whole different world, a world you wouldn't others wise be connected to. It connects you others of like minds. It helps you to grow as a writer and be little more fearless. 

Thanks Kimshme! Readers, please go  to the links below if you're interested in reading more about yet another awesome book blogger! Inkblots is my thoughts on writing 

http://kshivaunaworkinprogress.wordpr... This blog is my personal feelings on life in general

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Watcha Doin' with Tiana Laveen

Tiana, what inspired you to take up writing?

I have been writing since I was a young girl and learned how to write. I was drawing and writing, making up stories in my head with colorful characters and ‘inappropriate’ love scenes for someone my age, lol. My mother had an old typewriter from when she was in college in the early 80’s, and she’d let me use it to type out my stories. I had folders and folders of poems and stories squirreled away in my bedroom.

What do you love most about being a Storyteller?

I love the ability to literally create worlds and people. I thought initially, I’d be ‘making them’ do what I want, like playing with dolls, but quickly learned that is not how it was going to work. More times than not, my characters tell ME what they are going to do. I simply ‘set them up’ and they do the rest. I also love entertaining people as well as giving information they may be able to use, simultaneously. I enjoy interacting with readers about what I’ve written. It’s just a joy to disappear inside of myself, live with ‘people’ I created and then present them to others. I never get tired of it.

What did you do before you became a writer?

I worked as a Marketing Director in corporate America. I got sick of the rat race. I was tired of meetings, etc. My creativity was being stifled, but, I had to pay the bills. Then I got an opportunity to work from home for another company. I did that for awhile and while I was taking care of my then infant son, for stress relief, I began writing late at night. I never stopped writing, I just wrote less but I found myself needing an outlet. So, I spent the nights painting, drawing and writing and the writing took over more and more of my nightly routine until I looked down and saw I had literally written two books without knowing it. I cut and pasted and excerpt one late night online, a friend of mine saw it--he was already a published author (I didn’t know it though – he and I had fallen out of contact.) and he had me call him immediately to talk to me about my writing and the rest was history.

What do you enjoy doing besides writing?

Well, as alluded to, painting and sketching. I also enjoy cooking and spending time with my family and friends.

If you could change one thing about the world what would it be? Why?

I would have people automatically have to treat people kindly until their behavior warranted otherwise. We live in a very self-absorbed, cruel world and people sometimes don’t seem to care how their words and actions negatively affect others and sometimes, they in fact know, and because they are so powerless in their own lives, they thrive off of hurting others in other to feel important and get attention. I would have that sort of behavior stop and I am certain it would stop or at least greatly minimize larger social issues and problems - such as unnecessary wars, intolerance, etc.

My biggest challenge in writing The Scarlet Omen and the rest of the trilogy was keeping all the characters in my head alive and present throughout all three books. Please tell us a little about your latest release and the challenges you faced writing it.

My latest release, “Saved and SAINTified”, is the from a series in which the main character/Hero is a sex-therapist, author and ‘in your face’ advocate of interracial relationships, particularly those involving black women and Rainbeau/non-black men. The first two books in the series, “The Naughty Sins of a Saint” and “When Saint Goes Marching In”, delve into who he is, how he met his Goddess/wife, ‘Xenia’ and the trials and tribulations they’ve had to overcome vocationally as well as their relationship. This third release focuses more on Saint’s past, and how he came to be the man he is today as well as a new problem with a wayward relative across the globe who wishes nothing short of his and his new child’s death.
One of the challenges I had while writing this, is knowing that I had to go deeper into the paranormal of Saint’s life. I have some readers/fans who do not enjoy paranormal – but it came down to an artistic choice in which I had no choice. The main character needed to address this further, and after all, he is psychic with special abilities. I would have done himself and his ‘world’ a great disservice by not addressing it. I knew I was taking a chance, but at the end of the day, I have to be true to the characters.

Another challenge was one of the scenes involving a man that he grew up with. It was very gritty, heart-wrenching scene, and it was painful to write because I was fully aware that people like ‘Bomb’, really do exist and it was emotional for me, as a writer, to paint a picture of this side character’s world. He was an intelligent, Puerto-Rican gang member from a world that was lost – yet his mind was still ‘there’ – back in a time where heroine, fighting and basic survival were a way of life in the urban scene of the south Bronx, circa 1979-1982. This was such an important part of how Saint became the man he is today, it too, had to be addressed. Even though this is essentially a romance story and about family, Saint needed to tell his story much deeper – to go inside of himself and expose to the readers the how and why of his basic being.

Finally, the other challenge was the length of the story. I did not realize I had written over 700 pages. Please do not ask me how I didn’t know, lol, I truly didn’t until I received the manuscript back from my editor. I had two choices – split the story in half and sell it as a part I and part II, or deliver it whole, causing some people either annoyance or gratitude. I went with the latter, because the story was meant to be read as a whole, so that is what I decided to move forward with.

What are the three most important things an author should possess? Why?

1. Time -  You have to make time to write. Even if you are not on a schedule, if you are not writing, even in your ‘spare’ time, you won’t be able to develop your craft better. This is one of those things where you truly have to do it a lot to get better in your chosen genre(s).

2. A willingness to grow and learn throughout their writing career – The book(s) you write right now, won’t be the same as the ones you write ten years from now. That is how it should be. This is not to say those first two-three books won’t be good, but if you have readers and fans, they will see you getting better. They may not like everything you write, matter of fact, I am sure of this – but they won’t be able to see that you have severely declined, as far as your skills, if you are open to learning and getting better.

3. Drive -  Talent, willingness and time is not enough. You have to be driven to do it. You have to think about writing when you are not currently sitting at your keyboard or gripping your notebook. The things that you love and completely enjoy, you think about a lot. It needs to be your boy or girlfriend – that you are madly in love with. If you don’t feel that way about writing, then it means you may need to reevaluate what you truly want to do career wise. It can’t be a hobby. It can start as a hobby, but it can never stay that way – it must be a full-time relationship. The drive is what will get the writer over that hump regarding the pitfalls, delays etc. and it will allow the ‘wake-up’ call to transpire, the growth to transform them so they can reach it from the start of the manuscript, until they can see it in print and hold a hard-bound copy in their hands. (or kindle/nook) etc.

What do you want readers to feel after reading your novels?

I want my readers to have truly been enveloped in the world they read about. I want them to get angry, to laugh, and sometimes cry. I want them to have been entertained and possibly even enlightened. If it is a love story, I want them to be aroused and possibly even want to be the heroine or hero. I want the gamut of human emotions to have run. I don’t always write characters that are lovable at the beginning – because not all human beings are friendly, at ease, strong and aggressive. But I do want my characters to show evolution, and sometimes it is done subtly, sometimes on a much grander scale – but that that to me, is capturing the human divinity in a character that was 2-deminensiola, and is now fleshed out, almost palpable to the touch.

Any words of wisdom:

Stay true to your vision and your craft. Appreciate and acknowledge your readers and fans, and ask them to participate in dialogue but do not write what others want you to write, if that is not what is in your heart. If you do, you no longer have written your story, you’ve written theirs. You are the writer, and not everyone will fawn over your work – but at the end of the day, if you wrote what was in your heart, and did the best you could at that time, so that within itself is golden. Peer pressure is MFer, lol, but do not become her concubine. Don’t be pimped out by public opinion – be true to YOU.

Thanks so much, Tiana. Readers, please go to the links below to see what else Tiana is up to.





Monday, 1 July 2013

Bookworm Galore with Samantha Martin

Tell us about yourself and your blog.

I am 31 years old, married, and have three children. Since I first picked up Green Eggs and Ham I have been an avid and passionate reader. I love reading so much that I got a job working at my local library.

My blog focuses on Young Adult titles. I am not into spoilers, so my posts give you an idea of the plot of the story and the central conflict, without giving anything away.

When and why did you start book Blogging?

I started blogging in October 2011. I got this idea one day to start a blog that focuses on YA books because there were so parents who wanted to know about a book their teen was reading and if the title was appropriate. So a light bulb burst into existence and my blog was born. Now parents can go onto the blog and decide for themselves if the book will be appropriate for their child.

One of the great benefits of the blog is I can share my passion, promote literacy, and get to know new stories and new authors.

Name your favourite book/s and why.

My favourite book....that is a hard one. There are so many books that I absolutely love. If I had to name a favourite book as of right now, I would pick Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout, really the whole Lux series. I can really indentify with the characters in the story.  As I stated in my review on Onyx the second book in the series, “Drop dead gorgeous guys, super powers, books galore, aliens and did I mention scary ‘Men in Black’….oh and blogging, lots of blogging!!!” What’s not to love?

What won’t readers tolerate in a book?

Hmm....I find that what a reader will tolerate and won’t tolerate varies from reader to reader. You have some readers that just can’t stand anthologies, they think of them as teases. Then you have other readers who are sick of the whole “love triangle” scenario.

Personally, I am not a big fan of long drawn out adventures where the hero goes to find something, and still has not found it 300 pages later.

If you could pull an Inkheart, which book would you like to slip into and why?

Oh this is a fun one. I think that I would jump into Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. It would be awesome to be able to attend a school to learn magic. How cool would it be to be able to transform your clothes into beautiful evening gowns, levitate objects, and win the heart of your best frenemy! It is like Hogwarts for delinquents.

What are the things that you love and hate about being a book Blogger?

What I love about being a book blogger is that I can share my love for books with everyone. Being able to connect with people who share my passions is a wonderful feeling.

What I hate about being a book far I have not found anything I dislike about blogging. I wish I could speed read so I could review books faster, but all in all, I am content.

Do you have any recommendations for authors or readers who are thinking about starting their own Blogs?

The main piece of advice I can share about starting your own blog is to have fun! This is an outlet for your creative ideas and opinions. Not everyone will agree with you, they might not like the same books you read or write. This blog will not only help promote authors and books, it will give you a since of purpose, a vocation if you will.

Thanks, Samantha! It was great having you with us. Readers, go check out what else Samantha's up to on the site below...

Teen Blurb Blog: