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text 2018-08-15 11:30
Facts About Me: John Wayne Quotes

I love  movies, and classic westerns. I grew up watching them, because my dad was a big fan, and I learned a lot from them.

I thought I'd share a few of my favourite moments/quotes with you:

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Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.

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I would like to be remembered, well ... the Mexicans have a phrase, "Feo fuerte y formal". Which means he was ugly, strong and had dignity.

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Becky! Come here. Somethin' I ought to tell you. Guess now's as good a time as any. You're going to have every young buck west of the Missouri around here tryin' to marry you - mostly because you're a handsome filly, but partly because I own everything in this country from here to there. They'll think you're going to inherit it. Well, you're not. I'm going to leave most of it to, well, to the nation really, for a park where no lumbermen'll cut down all the trees for houses with leaky roofs. Nobody'll kill all the beaver for hats for dudes nor murder the buffalo for robes. What I'm going to give you is a 500 cow spread on the Upper Green River. Now that may not seem like much, but it's more than we had, your mother and I. Some folks are gonna say I'm doin' all this so I can sit up in the hereafter and look down on a park named after me, or that I was disappointed in you - didn't want you to get all that money. But the real reason, Becky, is because I love you, and I want you and some young man to have what I had, because all the gold in the United States Treasury and all the harp music in heaven can't equal what happens between a man and a woman with all that growin' together. I can't explain it any better than that.

 

 

 

 

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text 2018-08-08 11:30
Facts About Me: The 90s

I'm a total child of the 90's. I was born in 1986, so the 90's were everything to me. Hanson made me bop to Mmmbop, then stole my heart with “With You in Your Dreams.” I shouted “Roger!” along with Sister, Sister; I sang “Shake You Whammy Fanny, Funky Song, Funky Song” along with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. And I STILL do those things, now that I'm 30-ish. And I will ALWAYS do those things when the mood takes me. Because those were important times, my pivotal growing years, and those stay with you longer than any other era of your life.

I still think that “I Got Soul” is one of the best charity songs of the 90's, and the Spice Girls rule forever! I still think Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the best vampire TV show on the planet. Sweet Valley High were the first teen-fiction books I ever read, and I wish I'd bought them instead of loaning them from the library, because I would kill to re-read them (but they're either very expensive or impossible to get your hands on, these days) I still know all the words to All Saint's “Never Ever”. I still know the names of every member of A1, Boyzone, Westlife, 5ive, N'Sync, Backstreet Boys, and all the big boy bands of the day. In fact, I was one of the only people at a Boyzone concern to know who the opening act of Next of Kin were. True story! And, I knew (then) and know (now) all the words to their only hit.

 

(Oh, and you're welcome for the constant run of “Shake You Whammy Fanny, Funky Song, Funky Song” that is now stuck in your head. And mine.)

 

P.S. If you want to check out some of my favourite 90's tunes, including some cheese-tastic hits from Mandy Moore, The Moffats, Amy Studt, Billie Piper, and Robson & Jerome, check out my soundtrack for The Bright Side Brigade. It is 90's pop ALL over!

 

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text 2018-08-01 11:30
Facts About Me: Best Movie Ending

So, there's a debate on Twitter about #bestmovieending

For me? West Side Story. I've loved that movie for most of my life, and that final scene has always killed me, every single time I watch it.

Everything about the lead up to those last ten minutes is gut-wrenching, with Maria holding Tony as the two gangs stand there, realising what they've done. But then Maria says:

"You all killed him and my brother and Riff. Not with guns or bullets, but with hate. Well, I can kill too, because I have hate."

It has to be one of the most profound and relevant moments in movie history.

That movie taught me so much about life, about the world, and about how good people with nothing better to do could get caught up in something they don't understand. How one act can change the course of a life forever.

Natalie Wood was stunning, nailing the acting and the emotion of the role. And the movie still holds up today, challenging the same issues that we're still dealing with in the world. The best thing about it is that it challenged this concept of Romeo and Juliet, that she couldn't live without him. And though Maria talked about how there might be one bullet left for her, she didn't do it. She knew Tony didn't want that. That she had a family and friends and a life to live. She went on, so that he would never be forgotten and so that she could help change the hate that had taken over her streets. That is a true inspiration.

P.S. On the soundtrack, there is actually one track that is the whole last scene. With gentle music, then Marie shouting for Tony, and Tony getting shot. Right there, on the track. I used to cry just listening to that one track, never mind watching the movie.

 

 

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text 2018-07-25 11:00
Facts About Me: Writing Plans for 2018

I have a whole lot of goals for 2018, most of which is completing lists that I've already started, such as my huge Netgalley TBR, and finishing books that have been started but not completed.

This post will keep me accountable...it's my list of books that have been started and that I want to finish writing in 2018.

 

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Angelicae is a follow-up series that moves on from the events of Cacodemon, but by focusing on the children: Wesley, Dwain, Shiloh and Samael. I wrote Victims of the Night, which introduces a new character who will be really important, but although I started the official Book 1: The Failing, I have yet to get even halfway through it.

 

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Creatures of the Night is the one series that is almost complete. It is so nearly finished! I have books 1-4 written, edited, and ready to go. But Book 5 hasn't even been started, despite having a definite plot for both 5 and 6. I just need time to work through 1-4, refresh my memory of what's happened so far, and get my butt sat down to write 5 and 6.

 

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By Appointment Only is my first BDSM series and I think that's the problem. I love how Book 1 turned out, but after writing Book 2 I began to have doubts about whether it fitted, whether it went the way I hoped it would, and whether it was any good. I had a total crisis of confidence that stopped me starting Book 3. However, I have a set plot for all the books, so I just need to pick up my big girl pants and get it done.

 

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This series is a little darker than my usual writing. It's still contemporary, but it's a little less romantic and more "I need you, I want you". Plus, the MC's are all "bad guys" in the sense that they all have a history of being in a gang, which ties them together, and they're unapologetic about the things they're willing to do to get what they want. I have Book 1 halfway finished, with strict plans for Books 2 and 3. I just need the time to sit down and write it.

 

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This is my first fantasy series and I'm really eager to get it done. I loved how Book 1 turned out, with a faint twist on the Maleficent/Sleeping Beauty concept of two kingdoms at war and a child being the key to their feud. I just tweaked the rest of it so that it was wholly original. Books 2 and 3 are set in the same world, but each book is set at least a few hundred years apart.

 

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Finally, my first sci-fi series. I have book 1 written, book 2 started and definite plans for all the novels. However, I ended up incorporating other books/series into this one, which is why it looks like so many books. It's going to be a series of Volumes, four volumes in total. Each volume will have a trilogy spanning one plot, but all the volumes will take place in the same world and reference the characters of previous/future books. It really is as intricate and complicated as it reads, which is why I haven't gotten very far with it. The first three books were always planned, the second trilogy an addition when I fell in love with secondary characters, and the final two trilogies were only added after I incorporated an 11 book series into this one. So, there is a lot of work to be done.

 

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text 2018-07-18 11:00
Facts About Me: Always Learning

As an author, you have to be prepared to learn every single day of your career. Nothing ever stays the same and nor should it. It's a world of revolving rules, etiquette and creativity.

I'm not someone who writes to the latest crazy genre, but I do like to keep my writing as varied and as up to date as I can make it. That's why I brand myself a 'romantic at heart', because I will always write romance novels, but sometimes those romance novels will be in the guise of a contemporary or historical setting, or a science fiction alternative world, or be full of supernatural/paranormal creatures. Either way, romance will always be at the heart of my stories and that's why I can write such a variety of sub-genres, because they all fit into what I discovered as my niche: romance. I've tried and failed to write other genres without a romantic setting and I learned why it failed and how I could fix those stories to be used at a later date. It all revolved around learning who I was as an author.

But, just because I write a particular genre doesn't mean that I can't learn or adapt to write a new one. I used to only write paranormal/supernatural stories. Then I drifted into Contemporary and, because of my passion for reading them, attempted my first ever fantasy novel. It didn't work, but I kept the story and waited, then I eventually figured out why. In the time I'd been away from that story - nearly two years - my writing had evolved, my storytelling ability had evolved and I had learned how to better focus my words on what was important. I had learned enough to give it a second shot and it turned out brilliantly, if I do say so myself. I did the same with science fiction, eventually finding that I had a real freedom of creativity within those worlds.

With my writing ability, my creativity grew. Not just for the writing itself, but also in how I wanted to market and brand and portray those stories. I found a 'voice' I never knew I had for visually effective marketing and branding. But even that is constantly evolving. Over time, I realised that a look I loved a year or two ago is no longer who I am as an 'artist' (though I would never deign to use that label on myself, it's the only appropriate word for this explanation.)

I learned so much about effective branding and marketing from my publishing house, CHBB Publishing, and the wonderful people there. They have a handful of experts who can look at my posters and help me hone in on what I'm trying to say or show an dhow I can go about doing it. This post, really, is to celebrate that evolution, where they helped me grow from naive little me into someone confident enough to rebrand every book I've ever written, just because I know myself and the books better now. In a few years, when I've grown even more, I may look back on this new progression and think 'oh how naive I was, even then', but that's the whole fun of being an author. Everything is in constant flux.

In the end, these posters I'm going to share with you are a representation of me and my work, as well as the book's themes/brand. I want to portray them the best I can, to show what the books are about, what they mean and what the 'tone' might be. It took me a long time to find my "brand" for each series/solo novel, but I'm happy with what I have now. I've chosen something that, for each theme/brand, has a lot of scope but is instantly recognisable at a glance. So people see chess or invitational elegance and they think The Royal Series. If they see colourful, bright and playful, they think The Trade. Broody and dark with a specific model is The One That Got Away; art deco is The Cellist; and Forged in Fire is all about personal, intimate portraits of life. You can see all of that here. And, in reality, that is what their brands have always been; I've just found a better way of showing them off to their full potential.

In reality, I have scrapped over 100 posters for multiple books in the last two years, as I swapped from my old iffy branding to what I have now. I don't regret it for a second, because it works. But it took trial and error, seeing what my readers thought of the posters and how they reacted, e.g. comments and sales. I had to learn that if sales weren't happening or if I felt I needed to change my brand, I shouldn't be afraid to do it. As long as I'm not changing it every other week, but sticking to something that will last for years, then I'm still growing, still changing and adapting to my 'author' life. Look at JK Rowling, George R.R. Martin etc; they changed the branding and book covers of their books until they found the ones that fit. And, even after that, they still know that offering their readers alternatives and variety is key to good branding.

So, here's a look at my evolution. From the first poster ever made for a book to the eventual 2017 edition:

(Top Row: R-L: New, Old

Bottom Rows: R-L Top: Old, Bottom: New)

(Left: Old. Right: New)

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And it's not just posters. I've reinvented the way I make mock-covers, too. I use these for myself or Wattpad only, not for the final product, so it allows me to re-make them as often as I want, to really play around with effects and looks until I find whatever works best. For me, I use the covers to inspire me to write the story and keep writing until it's done. I even attach it to the finished story, convert it into a mobi file using Calibre and put it onto my Kindle to read, as a reader, so that I can edit it. It's also a great way for me to 'test' a potential image for publication. If I hate it after only seeing it a few times, it's not going to be the published book cover, so I know to look for something else and test that until I find one I'm happy with.

       

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(From Top to Bottom: New to Old)

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And just for kicks, here are a few mock-covers (the first) of novels that were later published. Obviously, there is NO comparison. :P

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Not only are the new versions more visually appealing, but the text, font use and image choice is clearer, to the point and epitomises the story so much better. And I'm sure that, after seeing the mess of my old work, you can see the benefit of my growth, right? Without it, I'd still be just slapping stuff together and hoping that it worked, instead of properly checking, rechecking, considering image, colour, composition and so much more.

I've learned a lot since I was first thrust into this author world and I hope I never stop learning.

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