Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Vampires Rule!

Only a couple of days ago I posted a funny little story on here about some of the less-than-responsible behaviour of P-platers on our roads - with apologies to all the responsible teenage drivers out there. And originally I planned to post a blog once a week, so this one is a bit premature.
Let me explain.

Recently I attended a writers festival, here in Sydney, and like many other hopefuls I thought to enter the bloody arena - the 'Pitching Session' - where trembling and fearful new authors face the cold-hearted, stony-faced rulers of the literary world - the Publishers!

There they sat on an upraised dais, overlooking the rest of us, like the Roman emperors of old, ready to cast us to the lions of obscurity if they didn't like your nervously delivered pitch, or, woe betide! you actually dared to glance down at the piece of paper in your hand that contained your carefully written speech. Obviously, you're meant to memorise your three hundred word pitch and deliver it seamlessly, not just to them, but to an audience of other hopefuls expectantly watching to see how you'll survive before they decide to attempt the same.

Anyway, something one of the publishers said, angered me.
'Please present all your pitches, whatever the subject, but if it's about vampires, don't bother! We're after the next best thing.'

It was impossible to miss the collective gasps and horrified moans around me; hear the scrunching of paper as some threw their written pitches away. One person actually got up and walked out.

Such was the effect of one publishing deity's words!
And it shouldn't be like that!

Now, to me that pronouncement was like waving the proverbial red flag in front of the bull and I was about to take it by the horns - so to speak.

When my turn came, I strode forward, head held high, smiled at the 'dais of death' and bravely proclaimed that my manuscript was about - vampires! Being a mature adult, I resisted the urge to poke my tongue out at them, at one in particular. But, I did defend my position; told them I've been a vampire fan since first reading Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' when I was seventeen. Over the years my appetite for anything vampire has only increased.

Most of my friends are avid fans of vampire lit and at present, this genre is at the height of it's popularity. Just check out the ratings of TV shows like, 'Vampire Diaries,' 'Trueblood,' 'Moonlight,' and the excellent Canadian production of 'Blood Ties.' Then there's the resurgence of older series such as 'Vampire Knight' and the old seventies classic 'Dark Shadows.' 

If anyone cares to check some of the best-seller lists, who's up there but fabulous writers like Maggie Shayne with her 'Wings In the Night' vampire series. Together with Tanya Huff, Nalini Singh and Mary Janice Davidson, they rule the bookshelves. Even crime fiction divas like Tara Moss have embraced the genre. Her 'Pandora English' series is a page turner. I can't wait for 'The Skeleton Key' to come out.

There's a ready market hungry for more such literature, not just because of its current trend but also for its cult following. And I believe it's one of those genres that will always have a reader base. Like its namesakes, vampire genre will never die!

Having said that, I sat back down with the applause from the audience ringing in my ears. 

Needless to say, not one publisher approached me after that, BUT, a few days later, one of them emailed me and asked for some sample chapters. I'd made an impression!

So, we'll see what comes of it, although at this stage I still prefer CreateSpace. 
Now, that I've got that off my chest (metaphorically speaking) I shall return to my normal blog content. That is, anything I find comical, but be prepared to have more vampires in the form of book reviews, popular discussions and of course, the progress of my own contribution to this entertaining genre - 'Bloodgifted.'
Have a coffee on me!

Descended from  a cursed Roman soldier, Laura Dantonville has inherited the ability to delay aging, but much of her past is unknown to her. That includes knowledge of her true parentage and the fact her unique blood is coveted by the secret community of vampires who reside in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.

She later learns that it's her blood alone that provides these creatures with the ability to tolerate daylight. As such, she is the epicentre of a power struggle between two rival vampire groups who want to claim her.

The oldest and most powerful of these factions is led by Alec Munro, whose position as leader, or Princeps, gives him sole claim to Laura.

Has she any other choice but to accept her destiny?

Release date: August 2012
You can read the Prologue and first three chapters on a previous post, entitled 'New Vampire Book Teaser.'

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Beware of Other Drivers!

Why is everyone on the road an idiot except for me?

Now, I may not be prefect, but I try to stick to the road rules. After all, they're there for the safety of everyone, right? Well, it seems that for some, that's open to interpretation.
Take the young P-plater, for instance. Just got his license having passed both his practical and written test and no longer needs mum or dad sitting beside him, teaching him how to negotiate the tricky business of driving a vehicle on our already crowded roads. Suddenly he's free to take the car out on his own - no parents (aka translate, no moderating influence). Instead he's joined by three to five of his mates - all P-platers themselves. The car is now filled to capacity with adolescent raging hormones!

The only advance warning you get of the teen aged-laden car headed in your direction is the disappearance of the local bird life. They go into hiding. Then everything around you begins to vibrate as the first shock wave hits. You clutch the steering wheel, but it's not an earthquake. It's the steady, pulsing rhythm of loud drumbeats. You glance around and there they are, pulled up alongside, four to five hooded heads bobbing in unison, to whatever it is blaring from their loudspeakers.

And the car itself is a teenage boys fantasy - sleek, shiny and black with wings attached; to make it go faster, presumably, although how much faster you can go in a sixty zone is beyond me. And oh yes, it has double-exhaust pipes the size of the cross-city tunnel! This baby doesn't just hum, it growls.

The hooded kid at the wheel looks over at me and revs the engine. He's got to be kidding! Now, I drive a little red Toyota Yaris. A lawn mower has a bigger engine. I guess he thinks he can't lose. I smile. It's not everyday a woman like myself gets challenged by a hormone.
If the kid hadn't been so excited by the prospect of his beating me to the next red light -a whole hundred meters away - he would've noticed the stern face of the cop sitting in the police car right behind him.

Ah! The little unexpected pleasures in life.

The light just turns green and they thunder off, both exhaust pipes smoking. The police siren starts up and they're pulled over barely fifty meters ahead. I drive past and resist the urge to wave. I get enough pleasure envisioning the scene when their parents have to bail them out of jail.

Thankfully, not all teens are like that. Many are excellent drivers who put to shame some older, more experienced ones.

But, that's another story. I'll keep it for the next blog.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

My name is Tima Maria Lacoba and I'm the author of the soon-to-be-released urban fantasy cum vampire book called, "Bloodgifted.' In my previous incarnation, I was an archaeologist and ancient historian turned high school teacher. Now, I write fantasy fiction and keep a blog - just for fun! Actually, I only started writing a blog recently, charting my experience as an indie author as well as making a light-hearted commentary on some of life's experiences. If you like a good giggle, every now and then, go to my blog. 'Bloodgifted' comes out in August. You can read the prologue and first three chapters I've placed there as a teaser. Enjoy.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Social media and the writer

      A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the trials and tribulations of self-publishing. In other words, how-to-do-it-yourself-with-the-help-of-Amazon.

      So now my manuscript is ready to roll. It's been thoroughly assessed and edited, and with the click of a button, off it goes to the Design Layout team who will format it into book form. In five days, I should receive the first draft of my very own novel, which I will then peruse online for any copying errors or last minute editorial changes. Barring any major corrections, I should then be able to email the book cover my own graphic designer created and hey presto, theoretically, the two shall be joined and never rent asunder! Well, at least that's the general idea.

      In the meanwhile, I work on creating my online profile. For, according to those far more experienced than I, this is the way to let the world know of your presence in preparation for the birth of your personal literary baby. 'You must join Tweeter,' they say. 'Start a blog and get yourself an author Facebook page.'

      Ah, what wonderful additions to the English language. Tweet, blog and facebook. The first two sound like some sort of speech impediment, while the third conjures up an image of a person with an open book slapped to their face! But, since this is modern social media and the new way of connecting with people and potential future customers, I put aside my reticence and signed up.

      Within a couple of days I posted my first tweet (pronounce that any way you like!). And like so many others out there in tweeterworld, I got hooked.

      Every inane comment and imbecilic utterance, from the memorable witticism to the downright undecipherable text, appeared on my screen and I just had to post my own, hopefully more intelligent comment. I neglected work on my next manuscript as my brain feverishly thought up new tweets to add to the increasingly crowded world already out there.

      Thankfully, it didn't last long. The initial excitement wore off, and now, I'm down to only two tweets a day.

      Sanity prevailed.

     As for the blog? Well, you're reading it. And yes, I do have an author facebook page as well. Somehow I managed to set that up between tweets and you're most welcome to visit. I've posted the cover of Bloodgifted there.

     It's been an adventure and now that my tweeting is under control, I may just post two blogs a week instead of one and work on my second manuscript also.

    After all, aren't women meant to be multitaskers?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Online Dating Disaster

You have an RSVP response!

Five little words which excite the heart of the tragically hopeful online dater. And, sad to say, I once was one of them.
Perhaps I should have heeded the wise words of my fridge magnet - Men are like a box of chocolates. Wait too long and only the weird and nutty ones are left! (with apologies to Forest Gump) - before embarking on this pathetic venture. For that has precisely been my experience.

I know, I know. I can already hear the tsk, tsking, and see the shaking of a multitude of heads, at yet another sucker trying to find a suitable partner through an online dating agency. Courting disaster? (Excuse the pun.) Possibly. But the longing for a so-called soul-mate can often lead to desperation.
Everywhere you look, there are couples - picking through the greens at the market, taking turns carrying a sleeping baby, or just enjoying a coffee together at the local Gloria Jeans. You can't miss them. You want someone of your own.

So, you take the plunge and sign up with a well-known dating agency. What have I got to lose, I ask myself? (Desperation rarely listens to the voice of sense.)

I fill in my character profile with what I consider is a relatively accurate summation of my likes and dislikes, my ideal man (this is where fantasy really takes over) and my favourite type of coffee, so he'll know what to order when we finally get to meet. Lastly, I include the most flattering photo I can find, resisting the urge to airbrush away any perceived imperfections until not even my mother would recognise it's me, and paste it on there. Then, with fingers crossed, I wait for the responses to appear.

And they come.

Firstly, there's the guy who's fallen in love with your picture and wants your email straight away, so he can send you more intimate messages.
Yeah, right! Delete.

Secondly, there's the one whose likes are so similar you just have to find out more. You send a greeting and he writes an essay back, informing you what he wants in a woman. Lord, no wonder he's on here. No human could fulfill those expectations. I answer back, good luck, buddy and press the delete button.

Thirdly, there's the guy who sends the flowery flattering messages. He seems okay, till he asks what type of sex you like! I'm no prude, but honestly, on the second email?!
Delete. Memo to self - change email address.

Lastly, there's the guy with the great smile, looks like fun; picture shows him holding two jugs of beer and a flower behind one ear. He sends the first greeting, you answer back. He writes funny emails; makes you laugh. You meet for coffee and that's when reality kicks in. He asks you back to his place - to see his etchings presumably? He leans forward and whispers, 'I like dominance in a relationship.' Now, being the innocent that I am, I thought he was referring to decision making. Uh huh! After further questioning, it seems this guy's so into DBSM that it leaves the twisted characters in '50 Shades of Grey' looking like kindergarten initiates!

Run, don't walk to the nearest exit.

I have since deactivated my profile and after promising myself no further ventures into the realm of online dating, I've decided to get myself a dog and perhaps a budgy.
The first will look at me adoringly without asking for something weird in return, and the second will tell the weirdos where to go when they come to the door - with a few choice, well-trained words from me.

Suddenly, I feel a sense of contentment as I slot in my favourite DVD,  put on my daggy pyjamas and tuck into that bowl of popcorn I was saving for a special occasion.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Their Economy or Ours?

Well, now I know why writers choose the traditional route to publishing - it's less work.
I've just spent the last couple of days filling out tax forms for the United States IRS to prove I'm not an American citizen. Otherwise I'd get taxed a higher rate. Last thing I want is to contribute any more than I have to toward the US economy  - the Australian Taxation Office gets enough out of me already.

So, as long as nobody has stolen my identity, proving I'm an Aussie shouldn't be a problem - driver's license, passport, birth certificate... that sort of thing. Then I have to sit back and wait six to eight weeks for them to prove something I already know. And, hopefully I'll then be provided with a Social Security Number I can use to get paid royalties - into either an American or British bank account.

Once again, I end up contributing to another nation's economy.

Meanwhile, the graphic artist I hired to create my cover page is doing a great job. She's just as excited to be working on my book as I am, and the initial draft copies she's sent over for my perusal are fantastic. I doubt Amazon could have done a better job and besides, this way at least I'm contributing something to the local economy.

What next? The Kindle conversion.
Try that one of my own? No way, especially as it only costs $US69  for them to do it for you.

Ah well, they are our allies, after all.