Archive for March, 2011

Choosing a book title

As I start my first urban fantasy novel, I am struggling with finding the perfect title.  So many books have been written on werewolves that a) not only do I have to find a unique angle but b) every title I think of has a similar – or exact – one out there!

And that got me thinking about what makes a great book title.  Here are my thoughts:

1.  It needs to encapsulate the book’s concept so that readers know exactly what they are in for.  If my book had been a romance, for example, naming it ‘Dead Tropics’ would not have been a good idea.  For a zombie book, however, its pretty cool!

2.  Check the internet to make sure it is a unique title.  You don’t want to confuse readers by lumping your book in with several other books that have the same or very similar titles.

3.  Brainstorm possible titles.  Let your creative juices flow.  Put it all down on paper and then look at them individually.  Are they unique?  Do they do your book justice?

3.  And lastly, choose a title that thrills you, as the author.  You know your book best and if you love it, really really love it, then go with it.

As for my precious book…hmm, I’m tentatively leaning towards The Moon Unbound.  A young heroine struggling with her new life as a werewolf and mother, werewolf clan wars, rough-hewn hero …its working for me right now.

 

How to get a write-up of your book

As a new author, I felt rather daunted by the task of getting my book noticed but as I was rather successful, I thought I would share my success story.

Last year, I wrote a parenting book which was written up in all the national newspapers.  I was even invited onto a national current affairs tv show!

I did this by:

1) keeping an eye out for news items that related to my book.

2) writing a press release that I hoped would catch the eye of a journalist.  I did this by:

  • using a controversial/sensationalised headline,
  • writing in the style of newspaper articles,  and
  • scouring the internet for journalists who had written on my subject matter.

I sent a press release to these journalists.  One journalist responded the next day, asking for a copy of my book.  She then wrote a four page story that was copied by every other major paper and discussed widely on radio and tv.

When it comes to the actual press release, here are some tips:

a) provide a large newsworthy heading just like you see in the newspapers

b) pretend you are fishing: put out something that will make the media bite – topics that are hot or controversial.  Don’t be afraid to have an opinion that goes against the norm – just have facts to support your case.

c) keep it short

d) sum up the press release in your first paragraph -who, what, when, why, where and how.

e) use the rest of the press release to expand on the info in the first paragraph.

e) provide all the details they might need such as company name, contact person and contact numbers.

Since then, I have converted that media coverage into a deal with a book distributor.  To keep interest alive, I do radio chat shows and write articles for magazine that subtly plug my book.  I have discovered what many writers discover – writing the book was the easy part.  Promotion, however, is never-ending.

Review – Feed by Mira Grant

Feed by Mira Grant poses the question: what would our world be like, twenty or thirty years after a zombie virus had swept the world.  In the world she envisions, people hide within their compounds and use the internet to stay connected to the rest of the world.  Hmm, not so different to now!

The cautious, ambitious heroine, Georgia, is a journalist who is selected to cover the campaign of a presidential hopeful.  But someone does not want the campaign to succeed…

While the plot was interesting, it was the relationship between Georgia and her reckless brother, Shaun, that captivated me.  Adopted young by ambitious, media hungry parents, they have a you and me against the world relationship which is the heart of the story.  The concern and love they have for each other replaces the usual romantic storyline, and does so very effectively.

I also enjoyed the emphasis on the role blogs and the internet play in people’s lives.  It didn’t feel like much of a stretch to imagine a world that is totally dependent on the information they get from the internet.  Lives are already becoming insular; people are already forming large social internet groups with people they have never met.  I could totally imagine a world such as the one Grant has created.

Grant takes your standard zombie-overrun world and creates an intelligent, thoughtful story.

Overall, an enjoyable read.  Not your typical blood and guts zombie novel, however, so it might prove disappointing to those expecting that kind of novel.  Verdict: 7.5 out of 10.

Review – Never Let Me Go

 

A beautifully haunting novel, Never Let Me Go is set in a slightly different version of England in the 1990s, a version in which the world’s health system is based on the use of donors.  Kathy, the heroine, reminisces about her life growing up in the privately run home for donors, Hailsham, and the bonds she formed with the other donors.

The theme of donors seems to be an increasingly popular one at the moment but this one struck a particular chord with me.  I finished it with a strong sense of how fragile our hold on life and our precious relationships is.  We take so much for granted, including our right to our bodies and the right to decide the course of our lives.  The donors, on the other hand, know the purpose of their lives is to serve others through organ donations.  Their path of their lives are preordained.

At the heart of this book is Kathy’s relationships with her fellow donors, Ruth and Tommy. As they mature, their relationships become complicated, fraught with love and tension, so much said and unsaid.  It is this undercurrent of things unsaid throughout the book that gives it its poignancy, I think, as Kathy tries to make sense of the past.

Although my heart ached for the characters, I closed the book with a sense of satisfaction, albeit melancholic satisfaction.  Recommended reading for readers who enjoy the slow development of characters and relationships.  If your preference is for action, action, action, you had best steer clear.  Rating: 8 out of 10

 

Zombie Reads for Women

 

 

There are some great zombie books featuring women and, I suspect, written for women.  One is The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.  Although classified as a YA book, I could not put it down and I believe it will appeal to men and women alike.  The young heroine, Mary, lives in a fenced village surrounded by … you guessed it, zombies.  As far as they know, no one else exists in the world.  However, when the fence is breached, Mary and her friends have to fight through ‘the forest of hands and teeth’ to survive and find if what they have always been told about the outside world is true.

During the first part of the book, the zombies remain largely an ominous but constant presence in the background as we learn about the world Mary lives in, the rules by which they stay alive, her relationships and loves.  When the safe little cocoon they live in collapses, the action heats up with the little group of survivors having to fend off zombies left, right and centre while trying to find another safe haven and sort out their relationships.  Just the sort of things women love to read about!

Ryan’s writing is beautiful; in parts, almost poetical.  Yet throughout the novel is the feeling of foreboding and relentless that one associates with all good zombie stories.  The tension is maintained throughout the novel yet she still finds the space to create romantic moments, build intense relationships and highlight heartbreaking moments.  Highly recommended by this zombie fan.

Another recent addition to women’s zombie fiction is As The World Dies by Rhiannon Frater.  There are 3 books in this trilogy, The First Days, Fighting to Survive and Siege.  The aspects I particularly enjoyed were the feminine perspective, the romance (hey, life still goes on) and the thought that went into how people would rebuild their lives in the aftermath of an apocalypse.  Some of the dialogue felt a bit clunky and unrealistic at times but overall the story moves well, with enough gory zombie battles to entertain all.  I’ve recently read that the trilogy has been optioned to be turned into a television series.  Won’t that be something to look forward to?!  We’ve got vampires galore on tv – it is time for some zombie action!  The trilogy has now been picked up by a publishing house and reworked so I am looking to reading it again.

Dying to Live: Life Sentence by Kim Paffenroth features a young girl coming of age in a compound. An unusual aspect of the book is that the other main character is a zombie slowly developing awareness and thought.  While I don’t usually like intelligent zombies, it is handled well in this book as is the relationship that develops between him and the other characters in the book.  While there is some zombie action in this book, it focuses more on how these survivors strive to retain their humanity and morality in a world where their dead always rise again.  Thought provoking and worth a read.

Another series I would include is the Autumn series by David Moody.  While the zombies provide continual pressure on the main characters, the series focuses on their internal and external struggle to survive and make sense of their new lives.  I found this series absorbing and believable.

Stephen North’s zombie book ‘Dead Tide‘ focuses on the character’s trials and the action without an excessive focus on blood gore.  His characters were flawed and human while the story moved along at a good pace.  It kept me occupied right through the long plane flight to England.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a delightful read.  The zombies bring a delightfully tongue in cheek angle to the actions and comments of the characters.  I think Jane Austen’s tale is actually enhanced by the addition of the zombies!

Boneshaker is a recent tale set in the Gold Rush days of America, in a town that has been cut off from the rest of the world by an infestation of zombies.  It follows a mother determined to rescue her son who has ventured into zombie territory on a foolhardy attempt to clear his father’s name.  The father is held responsible by most people for the zombie plague.

Women like zombie books as much as men but sometimes they want a bit more than constant action and gore; these books will satisfy that need.

New review

I thought this was a fast paced on the edge of your seat zombie book. The author did a credible job of keeping the story moving. I thought some of the things the main character were just a tad bit hard to believe, but then again it’s a book about zombies. :> Overall, I would definitly read another one of her books.

– Amazon reader, niteowl1

New review for Dead Tropics

Could not put this one Down!! Well written,easy Read! Loved It!! A must read for thriller lovers..had my heart pounding the entire Time!

– Melissa Barnett

Sales ranking on the rise!

My ebook has been on Amazon for one day and has risen from 101,000th sales position to 26,000th. Very encouraging!

Free zombie novel download

For the next two weeks, in the lead up to the release of the paperback,  I am offering free downloads of ‘Dead Tropics’!

I only ask that, if you enjoy it, you post a review of it online – Amazon, here, zombie forums, booksites, etc.  Reviews make all the difference to new authors like me.

You can download the story here or at smashwords. Enjoy! (sorry the free download period has expired)