My Interview with Making Mountains.

My Interview with Making Mountains.

My interview with Making Mountains

(Originally published on Making Mountains Blog – http://www.makingmountains.co.za)

Meet Melissa Delport

July 24, 2014by Writing •   Tags: , , •                 2 Comments

Photo - Melissa Delport LR-1As you know (because I go on and on about it ALL THE TIME), I used to work in book publishing. I spent nearly ten happy years there because I’ve always been fascinated by authors, books and the writing process in general. This interest hasn’t waned, even though I no longer work in the industry, so I’m chuffed to bring you an interview with author Melissa Delport today, who I’ve just discovered recently.

Melissa is one of those over achievers, who juggles being a mother and running her own business and even finding time to write the odd book or two.  At the tender age of 24 she started a logistics company (Transmax) from the spare room of her flat and built it up to two fully operational depots in Durban and Joburg. Besides running a successful business (which she has since sold), and being a mom to THREE children, she still found time to write books. Let’s find out how she does it:

Where did your love of books, reading and writing stem from?

I always loved to read and write, and from a young age my nose was stuck in a book. I won all the bookworm awards at school! There is nothing better for me than the pure escapist fantasy that comes with discovering a new world to get lost in. I read very quickly, though, so sadly I am all too soon on the prowl for a new book discovery. As to my own writing, the same is true. I loved to write from a very early age – my cupboards are crammed full of poetry from my angry teens, a stack of unfinished handwritten manuscripts from my early twenties, and of course, the print-bound works that mark the final success of my thirties.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I always wanted to write, but I also wanted to be financially secure and sadly the two don’t always go hand in hand! I put writing on hold for a long time after university but I am so glad that I came back to it and am now fortunate enough to make a career out of my passion.

Tell us a bit about your family.Melissa and Children

Oh, I have a beautiful, beautiful family. I married my childhood sweetheart, who is the love of my life, and we have been blessed with three gorgeous children, aged 7, 4 and my baby is about to turn 3.

What’s your secret to owning a business, writing books and being a mom to three kids?! How do you do it all? 

It didn’t come without a price initially and I sacrificed a lot of “me” time. I spent most days looking frazzled, with hair scraped back and food on my clothes (situation normal for any mother of small children!). But I am the type of person who thrives under pressure. If you give me one thing to do, it will take me a week to get around to it, but bombard me with tasks and I’ll have everything done before lunch. I struggle to ‘shut down’ though and my mind is always operating on hyper-drive – planning, plotting, making lists. I’m a big list-maker, I can’t survive without my ‘to do’ list (sounds like me and Melissa are kindred souls in the list-making regard;).

Tell us a bit a bit about your new book The Legacy.

The Legacy is book 1 in The Legacy Trilogy, which is a dystopian action-adventure series set in the U.S after World War 3. The book follows the life of Rebecca Davis, who becomes the ultimate weapon for the Resistance, who are plotting to bring down the tyrannical rule of the New United States of America. The story centres around the struggle for freedom from oppression, as well as fighting for survival in the bleakest of circumstances. It is fast-paced and action-packed. Book 1 (The Legacy) and Book 2 (The Legion) were released in July 2014, with book 3 (The Legend) coming early 2015.Cover - The Legacy

Any tips to aspiring writers who want to get published?

Keep writing. Honestly, you have to be practical – the chances of a main stream publisher offering you a publishing contract are slim, but not impossible. It may not be your first book that lands you that publishing deal – it may be the fourth, or the tenth – but the only guarantee of failure is giving up. I had independently published four books before my first was picked up by a traditional publisher. You have to keep writing, keep growing, and believing in yourself. If you don’t, who will? (hear hear!)

Thanks to Melissa for the interview and best of luck in your exciting career as an author (me, envious? Never!). The Legacy it is available in print  and as an e-book (for only R61 – bit of a bargain!).

Library is a dirty word…

Library is a dirty word…

Being a voracious reader, I simply cannot get enough of books. Literally…cannot-get-enough.

LibraryYou would think then, that a library crammed with books of all sizes, sorts and shapes would fulfil my every fantasy – be the Mecca to my pilgrim – but sadly this is not the case. In fact, just the opposite is true. I avoid going into the library at all costs. Not least because the sheer sensory overload of such an abundance of books might cause me to faint, right there on the old carpet tiles, but mostly because (lowers voice to a whisper) I do not like to share.

Now that it’s out, burning a hole through the book-whore confessional, I feel the need to explain myself. Books are my indulgence, my escape from the world, my home away from home. And I’ve always fancied myself more of a “home-owner” than a “tenant” kind of girl. I am territorial and possessive over my fictional friends and I shudder at the thought that so many others have laid claim to the library’s offerings. Filthy fingers touching the pages, eyes devouring the sanctity of the script…these books have been violated…tainted even. “Communal contamination” I call it. A vulgar prostitution of the things I hold most dear.

Book ShopI cannot bear it. Instead, my Mecca is the book store. The hushed, hallowed aisles of reverent shelves filled with brand spanking new books that have known no touch before mine. Where the pages emit the spine-tingling creak that can only be heard when a book is opened for the very first time. The heady smell of all that new paper and the whispers of fellow book whores, wandering the aisles in search of their next meaningful relationship.

Of course, this obsession comes with a price. In order to keep up with my bookish whim, a credit card (or two) must be sacrificed. Perhaps my wardrobe is a little barer than most and regular trips to the hairdresser must be forsaken. I’m prepared to go ‘Ombre’ naturally, one week at a time, if it means new books. My children, too, have been caught up in my web of self-gratification. They own more books than they can count, and they cannot even read yet.

And then there are those who want to “borrow” my books (shudders involuntarily). Borrow my books? As in, take them away and put your filthy paws all over them? Erm…I don’t think so. You can borrow my husband instead, or better yet, go to the library – they’re all about sharing over there.

First published on It’s a Book Thing (23.07.2014).

10 Things you DIDN’T know about The Legacy

10 Things you DIDN’T know about The Legacy

Here are ten fun facts about book 1 of The Legacy Trilogy: THE LEGACY

1. The book was intended to be a stand alone novel, not a trilogy. The war was to end with the fall of Eric Dane. As the story progressed, I realised that I wasn’t done yet, and so The Legion and The Legend were born.

2. Kwan’s wife, Nina, was initially named Elizabeth. I changed her name to suit her character when she went from being simply ‘dead ex-wife’ to ‘super-bitch’.

3. Morgan Kelly was originally older and intended to be Kwan’s love interest.

4. Aidan Moore did not exist in the initial story plot. *gasp* About a month after I started writing the book, I went back and wrote him in.

5. I used my daughter’s name in the book – but only once. I have done this with all 3 of my children’s names – they are mentioned only once in: The Legacy, Rainfall and The Legion.

6. The character of Jonathan is based on my own stepfather who has the same name.

7. Rebecca’s friend Jenna Larsen looks just like my own friend Jenna, but her surname was taken from a woman I used to do business with.

8. Kwan Lee is the only character I struggle to visualise in my head

9. At the advice of a friend, I seriously considered removing the scene where Reed and Rebecca discuss the stars, but in the end I opted to keep it in.

10. Initially the 3 Gifts were to be: Speed, Strength and Intelligence. Healing worked better for the story, so Intelligence was scrapped and instead, I introduced characters who were naturally exceptional smart to fill this gap.

Stay tuned for 10 Things you didn’t know about The Legion…coming soon.

 

Book Tours…ready, steady, go…

Book Tours…ready, steady, go…

As I am sure many of you know, I am about to embark on a very exciting series of virtual book tours, across a few of my titles. A few people have asked me exactly what a virtual tour is, so I thought I would blog about it, as there is far too much involved to cover it all in a FB post.

A virtual book tour is very basically a tour of your book on the internet. You don’t physically travel, but you are hosted by well-known bloggers, who are primarily readers.

A tour can last anything from a week to three months, usually with 1-2 stops a day. Each stop is hosted by a different blogger, and depending on the host, a number of different posts could feature, such as:

* Book review
* Author Interview
* Character Interview (this one is quite fun, actually!)
* Book Trailer
* Guest Blog (The author writes a guest blog for the host’s website)
* Book Excerpt
* Character Outlines
* Dream Movie Cast
* Music Playlist

The list is endless, but it is all good fun, and requires a lot of hard work to put together.

My tour dates are:

The Traveler 19th May-16th June 2014

Rainfall 16th June-27th June 2014

The Traveler 23rd June – 23rd July 2014

AND The Legacy Blog Tour: a two month whirlwind tour from 21st July – 19th September. To follow this tour, please go to: The Legacy Blog Tour Schedule and Updates.

My first tour is for The Traveler and it runs from the 19th May – 16th June. The schedule for this tour is as follows, so if you want to follow the tour, simply visit the tour stops on the specified day 🙂

Schedule The Traveller by Melissa Delport

May 19: Spotlight

Mila Ramos

www.jademystique.blogspot.com

May 20: Spotlight

Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/

May 21: Spotlight

3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!

http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com

May 22: Author Interview

Roxanne’s Realm

www.roxannerhoads.com

May 23: Guest blog

Fang-tastic Books

www.fang-tasticbooks.blogsopt.com

May 26: Spotlight

Jacqueline Paige

http://jacqpaige.blogspot.ca/

May 27: Spotlight

More Romance Please

moreromanceplease.blogspot.com

May 28: Spotlight

Captivated Reading

http://www.captivatedreadingreviews.com

May 29: Author Interview

Pembroke Sinclair

www.pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com

May 30: Spotlight

Lisa’s World of Books

www.lisasworldofbooks.net

June 2: Author Interview

The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

www.creativelygreen.blogspot.com

June 3: Spotlight

Melissa MacKinnon

www.melissamackinnon.wordpress.com

June 4: Guest blog

Ebook Escapes

http://ebookescapes.com

June 5: Author Interview

Eclipse Reviews

http://totaleclipsereviews.blogspot.com/

June 6: Spotlight

Share My Destiny

http://sharemydestiny.blogspot.com

June 9: Character Interview

Author Karen Swart

http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/

June 10: Spotlight

Houston Havens

http://houstonhavens.wordpress.com

June 10: Author Interview

JeanzBookReadNReview

http://jeanzbookreadnreview.blogspot.co.uk/

June 11: Author Interview

Butterfly-o-Meter Books

http://butterfly-o-meter.com/

June 12: Guest blog and review

Penny Dreadful Books and Reviews

www.pennydreadfulbooks.me

June 13: Guest blog

Paranormal Romance Fans for Life

www.paranormalromancefanforlife.blogspot.com

June 13: Spotlight and review

Paranormal Romance and Authors That rock

www.pratr.wordpress.com

June 16: Guest blog

Urban Fantasy Investigations

http://urbanfantasyinvestigations.blogspot.com/

June 16: Book Review

Booklover Sue

http://bookloversue.blogspot.com

I hope to see you there!

Much Love
Melissa
xoxox

 

 

 

You’ve got Spam…..

You’ve got Spam…..

Having your own website is awesome. It makes you feel legit, even if you only have 2 subscribers, which essentially means you are paying approximately a hundred bucks per person, per month, to read your blog. Like I said… awesome!!!!

But, along with the uber-cool “it” factor, having a website also means you have to deal with spam. Ditto for email, Twitter, Facebook – the internet is full of shit.

Being a busy person, I hardly have time to reply to each and every piece of spam I receive but I did want to address a few particularly colourful posts that deserve a mention.

 1. My self-proclaimed soulmate, Mr King Whala. Thank you for your very public post on my official FB author page. While your turban did not deter me in the least and I quite fancy being a queen, as an author I simply could not overlook your atrocious spelling and grammar. I cannot thank you enough for supplying no less than 7 email addresses and 6 international phone numbers, but as to your suggestion of a “fec-to-fec” meeting, I must respectfully decline. My husband has a shotgun and an alibi.

 2. To the delightful Russians who hacked my website and proceeded to use it to sell Viagra: I’ll take ten boxes. I am willing to come to a compromise. Writing is a tough game, and should it not work out for me, I am quite willing to allow this sales trade to continue, so long as I get a cut. In the meantime I have (sadly) changed my password. I do so hope that women across the globe are not too disappointed should their deliveries not arrive.

3. My Chinese friends:
In answer to your delightful post:
グッチ アウトレット 公式,オロビアンコ バッグ メンズ,オロビアンコ 財布 ラウンド,オロビアンコ バッグ 新作,オロビアンコ バッグ リュック,オロビアンコ 財布,オロビアンコ 新作\オロビアンコ アウトレット,プラダ バッグ アウトレット,プラダ 財布 メンズ,プラダ バッグ
I reply simply:
ケース,ヴィヴィアンウエストウッド 財布 新作\ヴィヴィアンウエストウッド バッグ セール,ヴィヴィアンウエストウッド メンズ,ヴィヴィアンウエストウッド ネックレス,ヴィヴィアンウエストウッド

4. Nobephype: Seriously, if I wanted knock-off Louis Vuitton Handbags, I would simply take a trip to China Mall. I speak fluent Chinese (see post above)

 5. Dearest Cerys Matthews: While others may have been baffled by your post, which read only:
???: ?? ?????? ?? ??????????? ???? ? ??????????? ???? ????? ???????????? ?? ?????, ????????? ? ?????-?????. ????? ??? ??????? ??? ???
My answer is simple: Yes…no… to get to the other side…1.77245….
(Note: Anyone who gets this is officially in my inner circle :))

6. Lissohancialm: With regards to your offer for a revolutionary weight loss wonder product. Firstly, how dare you presume I have a fat ass….. Oh, who am I kidding, I’ve paid full postage and packaging.

 7. Hi Paulo K! You mention it’s hard to find my website on Google and that it only rates in the 22nd spot. What were you searching for exactly? If it was lesser- known authors, I’m well-chuffed I made it so high. If you were searching for Russian Viagra suppliers there is a problem with placing. I should be number 1.

 8. My new bestie, Miss Gugu: I am delighted to have won the UK lottery, despite never having purchased a ticket. Ever. In my whole life. Be that as it may, I have purchased the R180 airtime and sent it along…I can’t wait to receive your call!!!

 9. And then later…..Dear  Thomuuux Worldpill. Your opening statement reads: One pill may turn your bedroom into the heaven of sex and pleasure! Been there, done that, have three kids to prove it. But if you have any products that turn your bedroom into a room in which to sleep for hours on end uninterrupted, send me R180 worth of airtime and I’ll give you a call.

 10. To the naked fireman who sent me a friend request on Facebook. I’m sure you look just like your profile pic, which incidentally is the splitting image of my favourite celeb, sadly, your hose didn’t impress me enough to accept your invitation. Also, as I mentioned to your predecessor, Mr King Whala – my husband has a shotgun. And an alibi.

Happy Tuesday everyone!
Melissa
xoxox

 

Dear Bad Reviewers…

Dear Bad Reviewers…

As writers, we have to accept that bad reviews are inevitable. No one book can appeal to everyone. Bad reviews are an occupational hazard.

As writers, we are also not entirely unintelligent, and we understand that reviews are for readers, not for authors. Therefore, authors need to accept that whether good or bad, reviews are a valuable tool for other readers to discern whether a particular book is worthwhile or rubbish. In fact, we like the odd bad review, because statistics show that these validate the good ones that have been submitted. As a result, we appreciate every review – constructive criticism included. A negative review can influence an author’s future projects, and help them to grow and develop as a writer, producing work of a finer quality as they learn from their mistakes.

For example: A constructive criticism pointing out that using British English for a novel set in America is distracting, is something a writer can learn from. Similarly, if a reader feels that a story “felt rushed” toward the final chapters, an author can address this and make an informed decision with regards to improving this shortcoming. Character development and plot lagging are very real concerns and bringing these to an author’s attention will not only NOT offend the writer, but will be taken to heart and appreciated.

While I wholeheartedly agree with an honest review policy, there are a few key points I think reviewers should keep in mind before tearing a book to shreds. Writer’s work hard, make no mistake about that. And when we receive a review that is just plain MEAN, it grinds us. One liners such as: “Worst book ever” or “That’s four days of my life I’ll never get back” are kind of pointless. WHY? Explain yourself, so that we and other readers can UNDERSTAND.

Do you not suppose, given that this is what we DO, that we couldn’t best you in a war of words? Really? Of course we could. But we don’t. Because it is inadvisable to do so and because, to quote George Carlin: “Never argue with an idiot – they will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” As George is, amongst other things, a writer, I can only assume that he was referring to stupid critics that spend more time trying to insult an author than in writing an honest review.

And so, writers simply shrug off these harsh, utterly pointless reviews and proceed with what they love to do: write. But let me let you in on a little secret. A writer ALWAYS has something to say. Not replying in print takes every ounce of our self-control, but you can bet your ass that in our heads, we have a whole lot to say in return.

This blog post is pretty much what we would say, if we could:

*******

Dearest (Bad) Reviewer,

Firstly, I must congratulate you on your extraordinary ability to remain sour for extended periods of time. I am sure that this must take some effort on your part, maintaining the delicate balance between perpetual bitterness and scathing sarcasm, and for this, you must be duly applauded.

There are a few points I feel I must mention in order that you “up your game” and grow as a reviewer. (YES, dimwit, I AM reviewing your reviews…stings a little, doesn’t it?)

Spelling: If you, as a reviewer, cannot spell for shit, then perhaps you should not comment. It makes you look like an idiot. Authors use spell check – if you want to compete on an even playing field, perhaps you should do the same.

Criticising other reviewers: Starting your review with: “I can’t believe how many 5 stars this book received because it is so dreadful” is hypocrisy. If you feel that your review is honest and your opinion matters, then it goes without saying that this rule applies to your positive counterparts. Do not judge them, and we will not judge you.

Abbreviations: Peppering your bad review with OMG’s and WTF’s does not make you clever or funny. It makes you stupid. If we can type out 100,000 words, surely you can manage three or four.

Freebies: If you are too cheap to pay for books and insist on only EVER downloading freebies, then you should never leave a crappy review, because while the book may have been bad, you are cheap. And cheap trumps bad, every time.

Using the word Hate: Hate is a very strong word. It should not be applied to an object. If you order a steak and it is not to your liking, you simply “don’t like” it. You don’t HATE it. This is dramatic and far too emotive for something as simple as an innocent book. Save your hatred for rhino poachers and serial killers. They deserve it far more than any book.

Do your research: Read the blurb before the book. Possibly a few other reviews, seeing as you are so quick to post your own. This will tell you whether a book is sad, funny, suspenseful, etc. If forty seven reviewers have claimed that a particular book reduced them to snotty, blubbering mess, then the chances are this book won’t have a happily ever after.

Sex: I’m terribly sorry that sex scenes bore you. Sadly, EL James’s “anal-fisting” is a hard act to follow. After 50 Shades of Grey, sex will seem boring. While I am sure when you were hanging from the chandeliers last night while your husband burnt himself with cigarettes and did unmentionable things to you that us mere mortals can only dream about – sadly, writing about sex is harder than doing it. As an exercise… have sex. Then write about it in intimate detail and let ten of your friends read it. I bet they won’t have the same earth-shattering orgasm you did.

And finally, I am truly devastated that you will not be purchasing another of my books in future. I did so look forward to another review from you that would make me want to slit my wrists.

Regards

Author

*****

Now, obviously this letter will never be published and will be forever only in my head. But seriously – the next time you write a review, try and be objective – and bear in mind that for every crappy, scathing, utterly unhelpful review that is written, there is an author out there, taking the moral high ground.

Now that that’s out, I have to say that in researching this blog I read a whole bunch of 1 star reviews on Amazon & Goodreads and I am impressed with the effort that some of these reviewers put in! I haven’t laughed so much since that time my kid got stuck in the toilet. To give you an idea, here’s a link to a creative 1 star review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/340740106?book_show_action=true&page=1

Happy Thursday everyone!

Melissa

xoxox

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Why you should never watch the Oscar Trial when working on a novel…

Why you should never watch the Oscar Trial when working on a novel…

As a writer, you are heavily influenced by what is happening in your life at the time of writing your story. Other fiction novels, television shows, stories you hear from friends… they can all become adapted and integrated into your plot, sometimes without you even realising it.

Case in point: The day I watched the Oscar Trial Channel while working on The Legend.

I really have not followed the trial closely up until this point, but I was very intrigued to watch Oscar himself take the stand, so I had the trial playing softly on the TV in the background. Obviously I must have been more engrossed than I originally gave myself credit for. Here’s what happened:

*Excerpt from The Legend written on 10th April 2014*  –  Note: Deleted same day

“You kissed Aidan, didn’t you?” Reed demands. I have never seen him so angry and I choose my words carefully.
“What if I put it to you that Aidan kissed me?” This brings him up short.
“Did he?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Did you kiss him?” he echoes his earlier question.
“No I did not.”
“So he kissed you?” he removes his spectacles and eyes me questioningly, trying to intimidate a confession from my lips.
“No,” I speak slowly, “I was cold and he was trying to keep me warm.”
“But you had a blanket.”
“Yes, but someone threw it on the floor!” I dissolve into silent sobs.
“Rebecca,” he probes more gently, “you’re not making any sense.”
“I won’t admit to something that isn’t true!” My sobs increase in volume.
“Aren’t you even going to apologise?” he asks, sounding disappointed, but I shake my head resolutely.
“Not until everybody else gets here. It will have more impact and induce public sympathy.” I collapse onto a nearby chair and settle down to wait.
“So that’s it then? Surely you must have something to say?” I give this a moment’s consideration.
“This is all Kwan’s fault!” I blurt out.
“Kwan?: he shakes his head, incredulous, “Rebecca, Kwan is your oldest friend.”
“I thought so too! But then I spoke to Barry Roux and now I’m not so sure.”
“Just tell me the truth,” his startling green eyes are very close to mine, almost hypnotic. “Did you or did you not kiss Aidan.”
“I didn’t!” I wrack my shoulders and give a few dry heaves to emphasise my distress.
“Morgan says you did.”
“She’s lying!”
“Michael also says you did,” he points out.
“He’s lying!”
“So you’re saying they’re both lying?”
“I’m not saying that! I’m just saying that I didn’t do it.” When will he cease his endless questioning?
“But you admit you were with him in the pool house?”
“I don’t remember. I’m just so tired. I hardly got any sleep last night.”
“You were snoring like a freight train last night,” he counters. “You know what I think Rebecca, I think you are adapting your story. You’re adapting and editing the truth.”
“Reed, I swear you better back off. I’ll shoot you in the arse if you don’t just back off!” A pregnant pause follows this outburst and then he narrows his eyes.
“There are no guns in the Rebeldom, Rebecca.”

As you can imagine, this text does not really move my narrative forward at all, so I deleted it, switched off the TV and got down to work. Some sacrifices have to be made.

So, that’s me done. No more typing while watching Channel 199…it’s hazardous to my storyline 😉

In other news….the Trial of the Century continues without me. I’m sure I’ll hear the verdict, regardless.

Happy Monday everyone!

xoxox

Love Thy Neighbour…..& ALWAYS attend the party!

Love Thy Neighbour…..& ALWAYS attend the party!

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To quote a cheesy theme song: “Everybody needs good neighbours.” The song ends: “Neighbours… should be there for one another….thats when good neighbours become good friends.” I beg to differ….. When the wine gets flowing, THAT is when good neighbours become the BEST of friends.

I have always liked my neighbours – all four sets (its a long story that has to do with a few pan handles). We have tea, our kids have play dates, and we try not to annoy each other in so far as possible. We borrow eggs, stock cubes, and the occasional bottle of wine, and all in all, we live in a mutually beneficial, peaceful suburbia. Until just recently… when one little party took us from Stepford to Wisteria Lane, faster than you could fall over a fence. Fortunately, photographic evidence emerged that enabled us all to piece together the fragments of what we could remember.

To give you a little idea of how this party evolved, here is a brief, step-by-step reconstruction:

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Exhibit A: 8 pm.

  Cute, isn’t it. That’s me and my beloved, sharing a sweet moment in the Photo Booth. Notice how our heads are inclined toward one another in the last image – this body language shows that we are made for one another, and considerate of each others feelings. Neither one of us plays a dominant role, but rather we are a mutually exclusive, happy couple who operate on a basis of equality and acceptance.

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Exhibit B: 9,30 pm

This is me and my neighbour, having fun with the camera. It was cute and playful, and cemented a burgeoning friendship. Like a small sapling, with enough love and a liberal sprinkling of water (that’s a metaphor for working hard at the friendship and appreciating all our special times!) this would likely become a life-long camaraderie.

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Exhibit C: Some ungodly hour

That is NOT my husband.

What the hell is on my head?

<—- WTF????

 

 

So, at around this time, the wheels fell off.

I have to say, that this Photo Booth was the highlight of the evening. No wait, that would be a lie. It may have been the Jukebox. Either way, I cancelled my ENT check up for the following week, due to the flaring up of “the nodules” (I have blogged about these before, in case you missed it) I couldn’t face him, I just couldn’t.

The evening culminated in most of us jumping into the swimming pool fully clothed. I think I performed the most spectacular pirouette over the swimming pool net, but that may have been wishful thinking. (This little adventure also cost one x iphone and one x Samsung S4, neither mine, thank goodness)

The point, I am making, however is that THAT party, changed everything. My neighbours ROCK. The evening started out a bit stilted, naturally. One tends to always put one’s best foot forward in these situations. Early conversations were along the lines of:

“I love what you’ve done with the wallpaper in the entrance hall.”

“Oh thank you, I’m not sure about the colour, though.”

and:

“When are you sending your little one to school?”

“I’m not sure that she’s ready, possibly in a few months.”

And then, later:

“How many scones in the airconditioning?”

“Purple.”

“I eat feathers.”

“Snakes and peanut butter.”

“Every nose!”

“In my left shoe.”

And it all made perfect sense, you know….

Just to be clear, we are all perfectly normal, fully-functional, mature adults. We’re good parents, we have respectable jobs, and contrary to what you may be thinking, there is not an alcoholic amongst us. But when neighbours are good, good times are sure to go bad!

Here is a montage of a few choice moments:

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Happy Monday, everyone!

xxx

 

Self publishing Diaries: A Cover Story

Self publishing Diaries: A Cover Story

I am currently working on the cover design for The Legend, which is an exciting part of the publishing process. Luckily, I now have the most awesome publisher to guide me, and of course, my uber-talented, graphic-designer bestie, Wendy, but working on this latest cover took me back to my first, disastrous attempt.

Way back when I started my writing career (I say this as though decades have passed, but in fact it was only 2 years ago this month,) I had no idea how everything worked. I was overwhelmed and terrified that my ‘masterpiece’ would be snatched up by someone who might steal my idea, and pass it off as their own. (Note: I have since learned that in fact getting someone to even READ your manuscript is a feat, let alone getting them to like it enough to consider stealing it.)

In desperation, not wanting to fumble my way through the process, I instead paid someone to fumble through it for me. I now advocate other writers to never, EVER pay someone to assist you in the self-publication process. There are many reasons I say this, which will come out in dribs and drabs, but for now, I will address the issue of: COVER DESIGN.

I approached my vanity publisher with great enthusiasm. In fact, I had an inkling that once they read my manuscript, they would love it so very much they would make the transition into full-blown traditional publishing simply so that they could distribute my book. It was going to be THAT big…. I soon began to doubt that any member of their organisation had even read my book, as you will see for yourself.

I describe The Legacy as an edgy, action-packed, adrenalin inducing thrill ride. Dystopian, with a slight element of science fiction. Rebecca is the strong and feisty leader of The Legion – an army of super-soldiers, intent on defeating the most powerful leader since WW3.

I was asked if I could supply a brief – a simple idea of what I wanted or didn’t want. This was what I supplied:

“My story is slightly futuristic and the genre is dystopian – common novels in this genre are the Hunger Games, The Host, etc.  Think ‘I am number four.’  My lead character is a soldier (not in the traditional sense with soldier garb, but she is rising against the President and can kill people with her bare hands).  If I had to compare her to anyone I would say Sarah Connor from The Terminator, without the guns.  She is beautiful but she is also very strong and “kick ass” There are a few elements to the story that could be used in the cover, but obviously not all of them as it would be very busy. They are:

  • The famous Chicago city skyline (I know this is DONE, but possibly just as a pattern on the back cover above the text, or something, just the outline so not obvious)
  • A boundary fence
  • Atomic bomb/nuclear symbol
  • A woman (main character is a strong female lead) but I don’t want a preconceived notion of what she would look like, so maybe the back of a beautiful woman walking down a road or something
  • Wealthy city (all the wealth has been fenced in)

Here is the first cover I received (Note: I actually had to take a few calming breaths before opening this document because I could not deal with the thrill of seeing my story in picture form) You might want to do the same…..

COVER #1

THE LEGACY - COVER OPTIONS 1 (4)

At this point I experienced what could only be described as a cross between the anti-climax of the century, and an irrational urge to laugh until I peed my pants. I love a good sense of humour and this had to be someone’s idea of a joke, right? Because, surely… SURELY no-one in their right mind could expect me to take this seriously. Turns out… they did. Now perhaps being a new writer, and somewhat “green”, people assume you are an idiot. I owned a successful business and have a degree or two, so I’m not entirely stupid. A horrible, sinking suspicion began to gnaw at the back of my mind. Did they not even read my book?

In my head I wrote the following reply:

“Hi. Did you perhaps read my book? The cover doesn’t really seem to fit the story. (***understatement of the century***) While I truly appreciate the (100% PAID FOR) time and effort you have taken with my cover, I must point out that red is not really my favourite colour. Could we perhaps try a more modern & clean cut font? I also feel that Rebecca, being a soldier who could quite literally rip your throat out with her bare hands, might want to rethink that wardrobe. The year is 2044, after all. Also, while I like the serenity, and reading is most certainly my favourite pastime, I am quite sure that no novel is gripping enough that you would remain so utterly engrossed in the story that you would fail to notice the END OF THE FUCKING WORLD nuclear explosion going off in the background. The park bench is lovely and quaint, but perhaps best suited to a period saga.”

Cover #2

THE LEGACY - COVER OPTIONS 2 (3)

“Hi again. Wow, well this is different! I’m not sure if you have found the time yet to actually read my book (for the big fat fee I am paying, you should have made a big blockbuster movie out of it by now) Um, if I’m being utterly honest, the blue is really not what I had in mind. Also, the picture itself is a little too steamy for the genre of my book. (I mean, WTF is she looking out of the window for?? “Honey, come to bed,” – “Just give me a second, love, I want to watch this atomic bomb first.”) This seems more suitable for Mills & Boon, or an exotic romance – perhaps 50 Shades of Orange.”

Cover #3

THE LEGACY - COVER OPTIONS 3 (3)

“Are you freaking retarded?? And don’t even TRY and tell me you read one page of my book! In case you are not familiar with any other profession but shitty graphic design, here are a few others:

Soldier: a person who serves in an army

Lawyer: the person in this crappy latest cover design

Oh, and another thing: Did you know there is an entire spectrum of colour out there… even my three-year-old has progressed beyond red, yellow & blue. Stop, just stop! This is becoming physically painful. I will provide my own cover, give me a day or two. Oh, and by the way… the eighties called – they want their pictures back.”

Thankfully, I have a BFF who is a gifted graphic designer. I had not called upon her initially because I was paying good money for a service an I wanted my pound of flesh. Instead, for free, I got the most marvellous cover, which was everything I had wanted and more.

Needless to say, I never went back for my subsequent books, and I put it down to another publishing lesson learned – have more faith in your book, and don’t pay someone to do something you are more than capable of doing yourself.

Happy Monday everyone!

Melissa

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Fame, Fortune & Filthy Fingers!

Fame, Fortune & Filthy Fingers!

There is nothing quite like one’s own family to keep you grounded. I started my writing career with big dreams about radio and TV interviews galore, glossy double page spreads showcasing my beautiful home and me, in a gorgeous linen trouser suit, with adoring husband at my side and 3 exquisite children at my knee. People would stop me in the shops, asking me for advice, inspiration, and of course, my autograph.  

Let me start by saying that none of this has actually happened. I am not sure when I realised that writing is not as glorified as I expected, but possibly it all started way back when I wrote my very first book. I printed out sections of my manuscript as I went along, beautiful pages of New Times Roman, printed on the best quality print paper and ready for my initial read through. Later, I went around the house searching for self-same pages, painstakingly straightening out crumpled up bits, trying to read through a rainbow riot of felt-tipped scribbles and of course, unfolding about fifty paper aeroplanes.

 “This is mommy’s work!” I yelled, tears pricking at my eyes. “My hard work! Do you know how important this is to mommy!” To which of course, the answer from my six-year-old was, “Mom, Presley’s pooped in the bath.” And my three-year-olds subsequent: “Eeeeuw, dissss-gusting!” I looked to my husband, beseeching him with watery eyes and he looked vaguely alarmed, before leaping to his feet and pointing a finger half-heartedly in their general direction. “You know you shouldn’t touch mommy’s things,” he scolded. His supposed support would probably have been far more effective if, in vacating his seat, he hadn’t revealed a wad of manuscript pages, on which he had been playing hangman with my eldest.

 Things went from bad to worse. Short of wet wipes, manuscript pages were used to clean up unmentionable things. Realising my two-year old had taken to doodling on the tiles, the kitchen cupboards and the walls, in absence of her favourite drawing material – I gave her as many pages as her little heart desired.

 Eventually I conceded defeat. I stopped printing and worked digitally. Everything was done on my laptop, which all three of my children know to never, ever touch. When my editor sent me a memo asking if “She dived aside, the cargsjgadsyrdyardgbshnbdkajdbmasssssssssbj missing her by inches” was a deliberate sentence, I realised that the sanctity of my laptop had been violated. “This is Mommy’s computer!” I roared. “It’s very expensive and you are not allowed to touch it!” Unfortunately, in my desperation to prove a point I was holding it out to show them. My two year old promptly stuck out a chubby finger and smeared Nutella across my screen.

 And then there was the fame that I had dreamed of. My first ever newspaper interview came to fruition. I spent about three hours meticulously straightening my hair, and applying impeccable war paint. Of course the inevitable scuffle broke out in the lounge and I padded down the passage to resolve it. Then I started making notes, just in case, and asked my neighbour to please watch my kids for an hour. Reluctantly, she agreed. Half an hour later, I graciously greeted the journalist assigned to my interview, laying out a beautiful platter of snacks and a pot of tea in teapot I borrowed from my mother in law. All went well, apart from a few curious glances at my face, which I put down to reverent curiosity. Halfway through the sounds of screaming emanating from next door had become impossible to ignore. I rolled my eyes and whispered conspiratorially, “My neighbours kids.”

 Waving her away a short while later, I chest bumped myself in the mirror. I had done it! I was on my way! Only three hours later did I realise I had only made up one eye.

 Determined to act as cool as a cucumber, I refrained from calling to find out when my “piece” would appear in the paper. Then, one day I got a text message form my friend saying “Hi Michelle!” with a smiley face. To my horror, my article was out. They.called.me.Michelle. The whole way through. My family thought it was hilarious. My husband tried to call me Michelle in the bedroom. I almost punched him in the mouth.

 I actually have been stopped in the shops, my hair scraped back in a frazzled bun, wearing dirty, scruffy jeans and a toddler hanging on each hip.

“Excuse me,” a timid, breathless voice asked. I straightened up, beaming. This was it! I had been recognised! It was inevitable really – by this stage I had appeared in no less than four obscure community papers. I quickly dropped the kids.

“Yes,” I turned, beaming. Thank goodness I had been perfecting my smile in the mirror for weeks. Slightly taken aback, the pretty brunette stepped away from me.

“Um… it’s just that I think your child dropped this.” She held up an empty BarOne wrapper. My six-year-old disappeared faster than a Hogwarts house-elf disapparating.

“Oh no,” I replied smoothly, “that’s definitely not mine. My children don’t eat chocolate.” Her gaze slid from me to the two toddlers I had just released, their entire faces covered in brown slobber. “Look, I’m very busy, is there anything else you wanted to ask?” I waited smugly for a request that was never forthcoming. I keep a pen in my bag, just in case. I think it’s dried up.

 All in all, being an author is far from glamorous. Being a mother to three young children, even less so. But doing both? I’m living my dream, six-page spread aside.

 *****Note: I did try to buy the “suit” that was to be my own brand of classy chic. I couldn’t squeeze my arse into the linen trousers.