Friday, 26 August 2016

Mia Culpa!

 It's my fault I haven't blogged in yonks. If you scroll back far enough on this blog, you will see from my social media in a nutshell post that you must blog little and often.... clearly I don't practice what I preach. But let's not dwell on the past. This is about today, the present and what I'm doing.
 
Being lazy that is what I have been doing. I have plodded on with my new thriller - Splinter, up to 30,000 and I am happier about the shape that it currently is in. I am glad I persevered with the project but it still needs work. I have also just finished the final edit of the Body in the Bath - the next Chupplejeep instalment. Hurrah!!!! So it should be out by the end of the year. Just one more read through and then it's off to the editor. Then another final read through and boom. It's done. I still love the front cover and can't recommend JD&J enough for their book cover designs.
 
 
And what of my published books? Well I am still toying with taking down the print book for Goa Traffic. It's not selling as well as before and the mistake in the print book cant be rectified. I think by the end of the year I will pull it down and leave the ebook up for now. The Bittersweet Vine - well that appears not to be available as an ebook anymore which I have taken up with the publishers. Not happy about it but my hands are tied really. Hopefully it will be available soon. Bittersweet, although my second, is a good book I feel and it's a shame it didn't get the same following GT and my other self published books have got. Which brings me on nicely to Under the Coconut Tree which  is doing well, very well and I think that is partly down to my competition - they have given the genre (cosy crime in India) a bit of a following, ensuring that my sales are consistently high. I'm even selling paperbacks which is good.
 
Then there is Poison in the Water. I won't lie I had high hopes for this title, but someone the reviews are not coming in thick and fast like I expected and the reviews are mixed as well. I think it may be because it has been marketed as a Romantic Suspense and although it is - it's not standard. It has some dark scenes in it, some weird psychological nuances and I'm not sure if this is everyone's cup of tea - well not those that read pure romance at least. I know this because I read romance books and quite frankly I don't like them.  They are just not my thing. I want something a little dark and twisted in the tale.  So if you have read the book pretty please write a review, or if  you are looking for a summer (late summer) read, give it a go. You can buy a copy here and it's super cheap at the moment!
 
 
 
 


Monday, 6 June 2016

I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something...

I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. Erica Jung




I was looking for a quote for today's blog post and I came across this beauty. It's not really relevant to my post but I love it and I am sure it will resonate with writers out there.




So what is new? Poison in the Water is out and the paperback is beautiful. There is something hugely satisfying in putting your hands on a copy of your latest book - how are the sales going? I'm not quite sure. I could ask my lovely publishers at So Vain, but it has not even been a week yet, so perhaps I will give it some time. In my experience with books I have published they seem to be slow burners. Under the Coconut Tree is now selling brilliantly - oh  a good 8 months after publication.




With So Vain working with me though I would like to think that sales for Poison will be sooner rather than later although reviews to date have been slow. But I suppose you need to give people the time to read the thing! One thing that has got me wondering is this genre of Romantic suspense - in all honesty I think GT was a romantic suspense but I just put it down as a suspense book, not knowing much about the genre of Romantic Suspense and from a review on Poison someone said they didn't like the ending because it was not a happy one (trust me it is happier than it was before my publishers saw it). My books rarely have happy endings unless they are the Chupplejeep ones - because I don't really like happy endings. I don't think that life is all about happy endings and I always like a little bit of a twist at the end - a final quirk to get you thinking. But I get that people may want their fiction to have a happy ending the same way you kind of want to movie to go...But even though it was just one review I cant help but thinking whether the Romantic Suspense reader just generally wants something a little more than I am willing to give (Happiness?!)


It reminds me that to sell books successfully you need to know your reader. Yes, the review could be a one off - but it is something I need to investigate if I am to go down this Romantic Suspense route. Am I?


Marketing, publishing and promoting... we writers never stop.




I will of course be doing a Goodreads book giveaway in June so watch this space. As well as that I will be at a stall at a writer's festival in the not to distant future selling my books. It's a new experience so I'm looking forward to it.




And what of the new MS I was working with? Well I am still working on Splinter. I broke through the - is this working, or not? phase and I am ploughing on. It may fail, but at least I have tried.

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 www.marissadeluna.com

 

 

 

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!