Monday, 23 May 2016

Writer's Block or just a bad story

I am excited. In less than a week So Vain Books will be releasing my latest novel 'Poison in the Water.' I am thrilled about this book and hope that readers will like it. Watch this space on how sales are going and the tricks I am going to use to promote it. It is helpful that I have built up a bit of a base ( I don't feel famous enough to say Fan Base) of people who will buy the book and get it started so I am pretty grateful for that.

I have also started writing two new books. Jackpot Jetty - The 3rd Chupplejeep instalment and Splinter. The Chupplejeep is going fine, words were flowing freely, but I have put a stop to that. I am still finalising the second book in the series and feel a little Chupplejeeped out. I need to have a clear mind to think of Jackpot Jetty and keep it new and fresh and the only way I can do that is to write something else.

So 12,000 words into Jackpot Jetty I started writing Splinter - A thriller of sorts. I had the idea for this awhile ago and thought I would just start writing. But at 6000 words it has become a bit of an uphill struggle. There is something not right about it - is it the characters? the plot? the location? I'm just not sure. I have never struggled to get words down onto a page but I seem to be struggling here.

I felt a little like this with Poison but with perseverance and a lighbulb moment (using the therapist's office)  whilst driving to London I transformed a book that wasn't quite doing it for me!

But I am not sure what the problem is with Splinter and I'm not sure now whether I have a touch of writer's block or I am just not feeling the story. I want to stay away from JJ for now, so I am not sure what to do next. Persevere or give up?

Anyone else ever feel like this? The perils of being a writer!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Author Interview - Poison in the Water

Take a look at my author interview about my new novel – Poison in the Water


Tell us in a couple of lines what the book is about.

Fashion designer Celeste Renshaw is living her dream amidst Hong Kong’s glitterati. But the sparkle on her glamorous lifestyle soon begins to fade when she stumbles on a dark secret her husband has been keeping.  

An exotic location. Tell us a little more.

There are a couple of key locations in the book. The protagonist Celeste takes a career break to travel and in Thailand where she meets Mr Charismatic – Alex Renshaw.  An unfortunate event pushes them together and they travel on from Koh Phi Phi to Krabi. The story takes you on a journey through the islands encountering the smells, sounds and the tastes of the East. Thailand remains a special place for the couple and they venture back there when their marriage is on the rocks.

Then there is London, which is home and where Cross is based (the name of the fashion house where the protagonist is a designer). The reader is introduced to luxe living and private members clubs and is given a glimpse into what life is like behind those closed doors.

In Hong Kong, where Celeste and Alex eventually settle, you have the atmosphere of street life - hawkers selling century eggs and glazed ducks hanging in windows. Hong Kong is such a busy place, full of culture and the hustle and bustle of street life at every corner. But  Hong Kong has another side as well - a commercial side  which can be quite anonymous. You have these towering skyscrapers and malls with exquisite dining options in each one.  Once you are inside one of these malls you really could be anywhere in the world.

You are a keen traveller. Are any of your travel experiences reflected in the book?

I backpacked around Thailand so I experienced some of what Celeste experiences. There is a scene in the book where Celeste is on a boat (very similar to the one I went on) and a little barefoot boy throws rice into the brilliant turquoise waters near Kho Phi Phi and hundreds of silver fish come to the surface to eat. That memory is so vivid in my mind from my time travelling that I just had to include it. There are a few snippets like that in Poison.

I have also spent time in Hong Kong – as a child we went there as a family on holiday, then again when I was backpacking and I have been there on business as well. My sister had an apartment there too. A few years ago I went over to help her furnish the three floor property and spent a good month in Hong Kong. Looking at fabric swatches during the day and eating at luxe restaurants at night. Each time I visited Hong Kong I experienced a different side to it.   It was just the perfect place to set a novel.

What inspired you to write Poison in the Water?

The lives of the rich can be something of an enigma to us. We are intrigued by socialites and we have certain perceptions of them. Whilst many are pretty ordinary, some are not. You just have to turn the TV on these days and you can see ‘The Real Housewives of….’ Or Millionaire’s Mansions. Programmes that revolve around a lifestyle with money.

I have been lucky enough to get a glimpse into this lifestyle and see what it is really like. The apartment my sister had in Hong Kong was luxury itself, set over three floors. It provided amazing inspiration for a place to set this book. I could just see Celeste and Alex living in an apartment like that with the money to match that lifestyle. I have had the privilege of going to private members clubs in London and going to expensive restaurants. It was this champagne lifestyle that inspired me to write the book. Because the adage of ‘All that glitters is not gold,’ is quite true and I wanted to explore this theme.

So the book revolves around a champagne lifestyle. What other themes are prevalent in Poison in the Water?

Love, of course. It is a romantic suspense and tells a love story. Celeste meets the man of her dreams, but things are not all as they first appear.  Friendships are a big theme in the book as well. Some are tested and some are broken. The protagonist has some close friendships, a man she adores and a meddling busy body assistant. They all help and hinder her to some extent. Knowing who to trust is a big issue for Celeste, especially when she has been let down so badly. But the protagonist is not perfect herself. She has made some mistakes too and finds it difficult to swallow her pride. Saying she is sorry to the right people is important.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Celeste, the protagonist. It has to be. She is a career woman with steely determination and when we meet her she has such a passion for life. I love that about her. She lives for the moment – whereas I am constantly thinking about the future. She reminds me to be more present in the present!  Celeste gets swept up into a world that is all diamonds and Dior, but the sparkle soon begins to fade and she faces some difficulties that no woman should ever have to face. She has some strong people around her, but she has to find an inner strength to truly move on. I suppose, on some level, I admire her and what she goes through in order to get out the other side.

What next?
I am working on the second book in the Chupplejeep mysteries. It’s called The Body in the Bath and is a light-hearted detective story set in rural Goa. I am also working on a thriller called Splinter.

Poison in the Water is on pre-order now and on general release from the 26th May. Marissa de Luna is an author with a passion for travel and adventure. Poison in the Water is her fourth novel. For more information see




Friday, 8 April 2016

A new book and a view on reviews!

It has been a while since I last blogged but I have been busy. Busy critiquing books by other fabulous writers in my writers group and promoting Under the Coconut Tree – which I might add has suddenly started selling well. You see, these things take time so 8 months after release it has taken off. I am hoping more reviews will follow and sales will increase. I had priced it at 99p with a view to increasing the price to £1.44 (the magic price that shot GT to no.1 bestseller on Amazon) on the 1st April – but the 1st came and went and I didn’t change the price. I have decided to change it mid-month. I don’t know why I guess I was on a high from the number of sales I made last month and didn’t want to jeaopardise it.


I have also finalised my front cover for Poison in the Water. Ta da!

What do you think. So Vain Books (my publishers) have been fantastic with everything and I am super excited. The first attempt at the front cover wasn’t great so we switched designers and got the above, I think it captures the mood perfectly and the blurb etc is upon my website now. You can also pre-order a copy (go on you know you want to) on Amazon now. For the bargain and a half price of 99p! Just click through to Amazon here!


My final comment today is about Amazon reviews. A fellow author reposted a blog post from an author and book blogger who has had two years of reviews removed because they think she is manipulating ratings. Although I find this hard to accept – you can’t possibly know all those authors– I also rely on Amazon for my self-pubbed book sales (I have tried smashwords, Kobo and Nook with limited success). So can I really criticise the giant that gave me the ability to get my work out there? I can’t bite the hand that feeds me. So although I agreed with the blogger I found it difficult to like or share the post for the reasons above. I do think that all reviews manipulate the ratings though – isn’t that what they are there for – I mean if you think about this in practical terms I could read a book in a genre I didn’t like and give it a terrible review because quite frankly I don’t like horror books. It could be no reflection on the author or his style, but I may not see that for all the blood and gore. I may criticise the authors writing, just because I hate the actual content (to no fault of the author). You can’t police people writing reviews and the more we advance technologically it will get harder to police. You end up affecting the small time authors (with fewer reviews) and not the big ones.


Also does it matter if you know the author and write a good review? Okay so it is biased, but believe me as an author it’s so hard getting people to review your book – believe me people you know are not going to be able to manipulate ratings.


As for the popularity of reviews, personally I think it’s a downward trend (I think I have blogged about this before). Why? Because these days everyone has an opinion which they want to share. And basically there are too many of us with opinions. Our opinions are determined often by our preconceived perceptions, our upbringing, maybe at our current moon. That 5* hotel you booked may have been faultless, but whilst there if your other half asked you for a divorce you may think differently. I used to trust Trip Advisor 100% about 10 years ago. Now, I don’t. I still love the site and use it… but I don’t really look at the rating… I look at the content of the review and whether a hotel is walkable to restaurants etc. (everyone has different expectations and I think Trip Advisor is the one site where you can really see when someone’s expectations (or their perceptions) don’t meet reality.

Sky Movies and Netflix ratings are another rating system that doesn’t work. Pick a movie my sister said, the other day, ignore the ratings they are not accurate.


It is only time before books go that way. Most readers I know never look at reviews – just the rating – for now, but soon that too will become a thing of the past – we rely on recommendations, word of mouth if someone tells me a book is worth reading I won’t even look at the star rating I just buy it.


Anyway rant over.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Looking for Inspiration?

Looking for inspiration

So I have started reading the Guardian and whilst I was on there the other day, I was struck by how many news stories or ‘opinion’ articles out there that would make great starting points/ideas for short stories or novels. I always find that as I start completing one novel, ideas for new books come at me from nowhere. Especially when I am driving or in the bath – my two inspirational sources. At the moment I have so many ideas for Chupplejeep I think I’ll have material for another five books in the series. I’ve started Jackpot Jetty (book 3) already!

So what inspired me this week on the Guardian website? Firstly there was an article on a group of friends that discovered a decomposing body at the end of a garden when they rented a place in Paris on Air B and B. Now this is a story begging to be written! Chupplejeep would certainly be interested and you may well see an element of this idea in one of my Chupplejeep books!

Then there was a letter from ‘The Other Woman’ and yes this has been done to death trillions of times, but the emotion and observation from the mistresses point of view was really inspirational – to me in any event.

The Kesha story, blind date stories and even the reader question: Which flowers can I plant on a damp grave? In the Ask Alys lifestyle section got my mind thinking.

So if you are looking for some writing inspiration, get onto a news website and get those creative juices flowing!

Monday, 29 February 2016

The Body in the Bath: A Chupplejeep Mystery

So here it is people the front cover for the next book in the Chupplejeep series, The Body in the Bath.

I hope you like it! The blurb is as follows:

As the International Film Festival of India draws to a close and the celebrations of Christmas descend upon Goa, actress, Subrina Basi, is found dead in the bath of her hotel room.

At first sight, Subrina appears to have committed suicide, but closer inspection suggests foul play. Subrina’s best friend - the flamboyant artist, Advani looks like he has something to hide. And her boyfriend, Dattaprasad, has mysteriously disappeared. But it is not only Subrina’s close acquaintances who are suspected. As Chupplejeep and Pankaj delve into the troubled actress’s past, a dark secret is unearthed which casts a shadow of doubt on some of the local villagers.

This is no ordinary case. Chupplejeep is under pressure from Inspector General Gosht to solve this high-profile case fast, whilst Christabel is busy making marriage plans. Plans which Chupplejeep is not entirely comfortable with. Meanwhile, Pankaj has been given his first case to solve - a perilous blackmail case with a fast approaching deadline. Chupplejeep and Pankaj work against the clock, but will they solve the two cases in time?

The book will be released December 2016! Hurrah!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Knowing your FOMO from your MOMO

So I had planned to do a blog post on the new rules of social media. With a new book coming out soon... Yes, Poison in the Water should be released  by the end of April, I thought I would look at my social media tactics and perhaps give them a bit of a refresh because we all know that Social Media is here to stay and we need to raise our profiles and brand awareness as authors (blah blah blah ... yes, we rather be writing). And of course I thought I would share this information with you!, but when I got down to it I realised I wasn't going to be doing anything too different. Just a little more of what I should have been doing. Confused? read on.

So  I joined Crowdfire. Which I had avoided until recently, because I thought it was too impersonal, but now I'm a fan. Twitter is just too big otherwise. So better late to the party than never. If you haven't joined Crowdfire join it now - because sneaky tweeps follow you for a follow back and then un-follow you. Crowdfire is the only way to stay on top of this in this dog-eat-dog world!

How do I feel about Twitter? In all honesty I think 9 out of 10 people on twitter are trying to promote or sell something. If you are an author you follow other writers – you get bombarded with promotions for other books. You try and retweet them to get some retweets yourself – but which consumer is actually going to see this? There are some, of course. Every tweeter has non-promoters following them – be it friends or family and they may read a retweet – after all their newsfeed isn’t clogged with a million authors trying to sell their latest release. So although I don’t think Twitter is the best way to promote your book I think it’s worth sending tweets now and again – but remember with the intense traffic they do suggest that you tweet 7-9 times a day with the best times to tweet being at lunch times, after 930pm and around 7:30am.  My advice- Get the app, do it from your phone and be tweet smart and link your blog (if you have one) to twitter to automatically tweet about your blog post (I covered the linking of social media accounts in my last social media post).
And speaking of social media, did I tell you that I did an interview about social media and my tactics in Mary Cavanagh's new book - Calling All Authors?  It's a great little book if you are after some sound advice on what publishing route to take and of course for the do's and don'ts's of social media.

I have to admit that I am not as good as marketing my books on-line as I used to be.

Why? Because life happens. One minute you are plugging your new book and the other you are completing a quantity surveying course, mastering dishes from Ottolenghi’s new cookbook and watching Netflix. So okay, I got a little tired of talking about my books and followed my desire to do nothing for a while. After all, authors want to write not publicise and promote. You could say that I lost the bug – like the travel bug, the author promotion bug can take you by surprise and push you to do stuff you wouldn’t normally do (Especially when you can see the results in your sales). I feel I am waffling a bit now… But what I mean to say is that I think I have got the social media bug again. Hence the regular blog posts.

So social media is constantly evolving and the young ones and I mean seriously young seem to take to it so easily – I mean they even learn coding at school  - but it is a bit of an effort for the not so technically/showy offy minded. And I recently read an article in the Guardian where celebs are actually avoiding Social Media – having a bit of an outage for certain events etc. Apparently it’s called MOMO – mystery of missing out. So in layman’s terms if everyone is quiet on social media – you are missing you and you don’t even know what it is you are missing out on – that is the mystery!

I had just got to grips with what FOMO was – the fear of missing out!

I realised on my social media quest that I have to use the social media sites I am already connected to, but smarter (a bit like the twitter times as above) and with more frequency. So more Facebook posts, productive tweets and an updated website. Check it out at

So, I am sticking to the traditional channels but I am upping my game – being more active means I should increase followers, page likers etc. You’ve got to start (again) somewhere

Friday, 12 February 2016

Embracing your inner geek!

I have to admit I'm a geek. For a long while (when younger) I tried to hide the fact that I was a geek because, quite frankly, geeks were uncool. Now they are pretty popular and to be fair the older I get the less I care whether something is cool or not. That's the beauty of getting older - you just care less.

To be honest I didn't hide my geekyness as well as I could have because I probably didn't realise I was a geek and living in Goa pretty much everyone is a little geeky. 

Before writing came along I did nerdy things like a degree , a masters, obtained various certificates and I even qualified as a Chartered Surveyor! Now I'm doing some quantity surveying thing too. The fun never stops... The course was to pacify my inner geek because I haven't done a course for a long while. And as I struggle to complete it I realise that our brains get a bit rusty with age.

Despite my desire to learn I hate being called intellectual - I am not! I guess I would say I am more of an academic. But then if I compare myself to a real academic, I can see that I am certainly not one of those. So I wont pigeonhole myself into a category - I just like to learn new things.

Mid-studying I learnt about calligraphy and graphology, colour therapy, touch typing, did a punctuation course (epic fail), learnt about crystals and of course I read loads on forensics and the art of writing. But I have never taken a writing course and as I am a lover of courses I had to ask myself why? Why had I never done a writing course. I needed it when I started out, yet I just rely on learning as I go, a good critique group and reading around the subject to help me out.

The reason being is that for me writing started as a hobby - it still is to a certain extent and I enjoy it. One of my worries is that if I learn the rules (because despite it being a creative process there are some loose rules- the inciting incident, the big question that readers have to read on to find the answer, stuff like that) in such a strict format then my creativity will be boxed in. I may even dislike writing - because generally when I study something, when there are tasks involved and exams to pass then my interest in the subject does wane.

I would benefit from a creative writing course I am sure. My first book was riddled with  point of view changes mid chapter and I know this annoyed readers. Every time I write (even with this blog) I learn, I understand, I develop and hone my writing skills. And there is always more to learn, we are continually adapting and changing our styles in  the way we dress, the way we talk and the way we write.  I cared about what people thought when I was younger, and don't really care anymore and that very notion makes what I write and how I write different.

I recently found myself humming along to a Justin Beiber song - I have to admit his stuff is pretty good of late (don't judge me) but I guess he is changing too!