Monday, 26 September 2016

Don't Read My Books If...

Don't read my books if...

You're looking for something with a Fifty Shades of Grey feel.

You get uncomfortable if the story has twists-and-turns.

You don't like it if authors surprise you with events that you don't predict.

You won't like it if the characters act in a way that you yourself might not in the same situation (that's not to say the characters act out of character for the 'shock value').

You don't enjoy it if the characters react to certain events differently to characters in books by other authors that deal with similar issues.

You prefer the characters to annoy you by making silly decisions that don't make sense.

You'd rather not get attached to the characters and care for them.

You don't like vivid scenes (happy, sad or disturbing ones) and characters that feel real.

Otherwise, you can download my books from your favourite e-book stores now: 

Contemporary romance series, the Soulmates Saga. 

Start with Book 1, Chasing Pavements, available at Amazon US, Amazon UK, iBooks and B&N Nook

~ ~ ~

Paranormal/urban fantasy series, the Poison Blood series.

The first two books are free to download and the last two are releasing this Halloween (available to pre-order now!). Order each book for only $0.99 now, as the cost will return to the normal price of $1.49 after release.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Spoiler-Free Q&A on Someone Like You (Soulmates Saga, Book 3)

In the last couple of weeks, I've been posting spoiler-free interviews on my Soulmates Saga. The third book in the series, Someone Like You, was released in July and below is a Q&A on it. Again, I've kept it as spoiler-free as possible, so as not to ruin it for those who have yet to get into this romance series about troubled soulmates Mukti and Jamie.

Q: What was the inspiration behind Someone Like You? 

A: Funnily enough, it was the song Someone Like You by Adele. Everything that has happened in the last two books, as well as the characters and a few songs, all inspired me to begin this third book.

Q: What was your favourite part about writing Someone Like You? 

A: Finishing it! Because, for a long time, it didn't seem like it was going to be finished. I started it in 2012 and finished the first draft towards the end of 2015. It took me longer to finish this book than the first two combined, and that was because of everything that was happening in my personal life. When I wrote the last line, it felt like such a relief.

Q: Do you have a favourite scene or chapter in the book? 

A: There are loads of scenes that I like and whenever I read them, I go "aww!" The Epilogue though, is really special to me. I don't know if one reader on Goodreads was referring to this when she said the book had a "great ending", or perhaps it was how the story was wrapped up overall, but the very last sentence in the book is one of my absolute favourites!

Q: This book is the last book in the series, right? 

A: Will I be writing another book, or books, to see what happens next? Who knows? Do these characters have more stories to tell? Again, who knows? Life doesn't end at 30. In terms of a fourth book in this series, nothing concrete is in the pipeline at the moment. The thought of spending more time with Mukti and co. however, is very tempting, but I won't do anything unless I have a great story to tell, one which will be a good novel in its own right. 

If I do write a fourth book, I think I'd like to try something different. Like I said, the main characters are in their 30's now, so I wouldn't want to write a book that spans 2-3 years or more, like the last three books, and shove them into middle age so fast.

I like the idea of challenging myself to squeeze in all the drama, romance and twist-and-turns into a book that stretches across a mere few weeks, maximum three months. Once again, the plot would need to be really amazing for me to start writing a fourth book. At the moment, it's nice to think that my favourite characters finally have some peace in their lives. I do have a few ideas about where I'd like to go with this series... more details in due course. 

Someone Like You is available to download from Amazon US, Amazon UK, iBooks, Kobo and B&N Nook 

Read an excerpt at the Amazon Kindle Store here, or download the first 20% of Someone Like You for free from Smashwords here.

~ What Others Have Said About Someone Like You ~ 

"Full of drama, romance and twists and turns. I couldn't predict what would happen in the next chapter but wasn't disappointed with what did happen. I really liked how the story ended. Loved this story!" *****


 “Great ending." ****

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Spoiler-Free Q&A on Make You Feel My Love (Soulmates Saga, Book 2)

Last week, we had the spoiler-free Q&A on my debut novel Chasing Pavements. Now, it's time for its sequel, Make You Feel My Love (The Soulmates Saga, Book 2).

Q:  Chasing Pavements had the perfect ending.  Why did you decide to write a sequel to it? 

A:  I didn’t actually decide to write a sequel. Chasing Pavements didn’t start off as a first in a series of books about troubled soulmates Mukti and Jamie. I had no idea what would happen to the manuscript – whether it would get published, and if it did, whether it would be successful. And even if it was, even if fans demanded one, would that be enough to warrant a follow-on book? Did these characters have another tale to tell?

Whether it be films or books, I don’t believe in releasing sequels for the sake of it. Just to find out what the characters do next. The second instalment should be a project in its own right, and it must include all the elements of a standalone novel. This includes character development. Yes, even if your protagonist underwent a great deal of growth and development in the first novel, it shouldn’t stop there. Whatever happens in part 2 should inevitably change the characters in some way, otherwise the events in the sequel are probably not worth documenting.

The sequel has to meet the standards expected by the audience, whether they have read the first book or not. You shouldn’t rely on the notion that fans of the first book will read the second one. If you're lucky, then the majority of these fans will probably buy the next book, but if it isn’t up to scratch, they will feel cheated. It might even affect how they feel about the first book. So writing a sequel to a book like Chasing Pavements isn’t a decision to be made lightly.

 Q:  How did it come about then? 

A:  The idea stemmed from a question I asked myself whilst writing Chasing Pavements. What would happen if...? (I can't tell you how that sentence ends because that would give things away; this is supposed to be as spoiler-free as possible). And that question never really left me.

I didn’t start writing MYFML until April 2011, when I listened to one of my favourite bands Travis for the first time in years. Their music gave this potential story a… background if you like, and I knew the look of the book, the colours of the setting...  ‘Love Will Come Through represented the beginning of Mukti's journey in this book and I wanted the song ‘Flowers in the Window’ to represent her when she gets close to the end.

Other artists, particularly Florence + The Machine, Coldplay and Bat For Lashes, helped take the story forward and I just had to write it all down. Even after I wrote it though, I still didn’t think of it as a sequel. The first book hadn’t been published yet, so there was no way I was going to talk about part 2! It was only when I let my friend read it that I thought seriously about publishing it. This was a few months after Chasing Pavements was published and I realised that Make You Feel My Love was a sequel worth releasing. I hope the readers agree.

Q:  Do you have a favourite scene or chapter in the book? 

A:  Yes, it’s the chapter called ‘Orbit’. Even though there’s no dialogue or hardly any movement, so much goes on inside the characters' heads. The whole book has been leading up to this chapter, and it’s the beginning of the segment of the story that I’d been building up to. 

Check out the cover and blurb for Make You Feel My Love below:

After a tumultuous year, star-crossed lovers Mukti and Jamie have finally resolved their personal issues and are starting a new life together in New York City. Mukti has found her calling in life and Jamie’s music career is taking off.

But as all this brings new obligations and responsibilities, their love is once again put to the test.  The sequel to Chasing Pavements unravels even more secrets and lies which threaten to split them apart forever.

Make You Feel My Love is available to download from Amazon US, Amazon UK, iBooks and B&N Nook
Read an excerpt at the Amazon Kindle Store here, or download the first 20% of Make You Feel My Love for free from Smashwords here.

~ What Others Have Said About Make You Feel My Love ~ 

“The plot of Make You Feel My Love is a refreshing change to the typical narratives of romantic fiction.  I enjoyed the various plot twists and the way the narrative flits between the points of view of the different characters involved.  But most of all, I loved the characters themselves.  Neha has a unique way of writing where you really empathise with the characters.  You might not always agree with the choices they make (!), but you are able to understand their points of view and you care about them all the same. 

At times, I found myself laughing out loud at their humorous conversations.  At other times, I found myself crying over their heart-wrenching sadness (yes I admit it, it made me cry!).  This story really does take you through a whole rollercoaster of emotions.

All in all, I would thoroughly recommend this book!" *****


"Wow! I can't wait for the next book!" ***** 
"Amazing book!
Exciting book that I had to keep turning the page until I finished it." ***** 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Spoiler-Free Q&A on Chasing Pavements (Soulmates Saga, Book 1)

Just over four years ago, I'd started my indie author journey and published my debut novel Chasing Pavements in summer 2012.

Today, I have five books published via Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords (which distributes my ebooks to retailers such as Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook Store, Kobo and many more).

At the end of next month, my next two books will be released (Poison Blood, Books 3 and 4) and they will mark the end of the Poison Blood series. The first series of mine to come to a conclusion. This has got me feeling a little nostalgic and so I thought I'd go back to where it all began for me.

Below is the cover, blurb and a spoiler-free Q&A on Chasing Pavements.

To introverted and socially withdrawn singer and songwriter Jamie York, life has no meaning unless childhood love Sarah returns to him. Roaming through life without living it, shutting the world out, he has long since given up on a potential career in music.

It is only when he meets the unexpectedly inspirational Mukti that Jamie is lured out of the black hole he has banished himself to for years.  Suddenly, his creativity knows no bounds and he feels torn - he has to see her, but what will she make of his tortured soul?

Little does he know that Mukti has her own secrets and is just as troubled a soul as he is.  Her name translates as ‘freedom’ in her native tongue Bengali, but she is anything but free...

Torn between his unconditional love for Sarah, and his undeniable need for Mukti, Jamie’s life is in far more chaos than ever before. And when his estranged mother Tanya becomes intent on sabotaging his relationship with Mukti, Jamie stands to lose the two women he cannot live without.

Set in contemporary London, Chasing Pavements is a unique love story between two unique characters who will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

Q: What was the main inspiration behind Chasing Pavements?

A: Usually, it takes a combination of different factors and experiences to inspire a whole novel.  I take inspiration from good books, films, music, and of course anything interesting I know.  I also draw on my knowledge of Psychology.

You do need one or two triggers to start writing though.  For Chasing Pavements, it was this bizarre vision I woke up with on the morning of August 1, 2010.  I opened my eyes with Jamie in my head.  I could see him so clearly - his hair, his eyes, his demeanour.  As though he was a very good friend, I just knew him - his pain, his apathy, his past, his present.  What I didn’t know was his future.

But I wanted to find out.

I spent the rest of the day thinking about him, his life, his family, and music.

Music had a critical part to play in it too.  That summer, I had been obsessed with Muse’s single Neutron Star Collision and I knew that song represented Jamie (and Mukti) when he first came into my life.  A fading star, losing his way.

The other song that had grabbed me was Marcus Foster’s I Was Broken (the lyrics speak of no longer being broken).  That was the song I wanted to represent Jamie (and Mukti) at the end of the book.  All year, I had been fascinated by the idea of two fading stars, coming together and then emerging brighter as one, and somehow this concept inspired the storyline.

Q: How did you start your novel?

A: The first scene I envisioned was Jamie spending Christmas 2009 with his little family. It played in my head like a film - I didn’t dictate much of the action, it just rolled like a movie in my mind.  Astonishingly, I didn’t write that scene until the very end!

What I started with was the first encounter between Jamie and Mukti.  I had become very interested in the needle sculpture near London Bridge after seeing it for the first time that year and I wanted them to meet there.  As I wrote that scene, ideas for their next meeting came to me and I wrote that.  And then the next meeting, then the next…

Once I filled in the gaps between those scenes, I went back and wrote the beginning.

Q: Do you have a writing routine?

A: When I was writing this book, I had a full-time job and g0t home at 7pm. I had very little time to write and had to fit it around my other responsibilities.  I was still living with my family and things at home were pretty hectic.  Hardly any peace or quiet or privacy or time.  But I just couldn’t not write these awkward scenes between two intriguing characters.

I didn’t have my own desk or a comfortable chair.  I put my laptop on my bed, knelt on the floor and typed.  Not great for the knees!  But that’s something Jamie had to do too - put his keyboard on his bed, get down on his knees and play.  It was a bonding experience for us!

When I write, I lose track of time and space and don’t feel hungry or thirsty.  I don’t feel the need to do anything other than sit with my laptop and write. Now, my writing (and/or editing routine) is a lot more structured. I wake up, make some tea or coffee (depending how much caffeine I need) and sit down with my laptop. Every day. Apart from when my husband has time off from work or I have errands to run, or if we're having family over, of if we've been invited to a gathering. All in all, I make sure I work on my books when I have the time. No day, no week, is ever the same as the other. Okay, so not that structured but it's better than before.

Q: What was your favourite thing about writing this novel?

A: Reading fiction for me (and the majority of people) is a form of escapism. It’s the same with writing, only you get to escape to a world you’ve created, spend time with characters you’ve brought to life, experience all the pain and pleasure and excitement that you envision.  That was great.

The best part though was getting to know Jamie and Mukti.  They have become a very big part of my life and I don’t think they will cease to feel like good friends to me for the rest of my life.

Q: Are the songs in the book original?

A: Yes.  All original.  All written by me.

A couple of the songs were written before Jamie/the book even existed (e.g. the first song in the novel, Square 1, was written almost exactly a year earlier); a few came after the first draft was complete.  I wrote a number of them while writing the sections the songs appeared in (such as One Half, which came to me at the same time as it came to Jamie), a few were composed especially for scenes I had already written, and the rest came during the time I was writing the story.

Q: If your book was made into a film, who would you cast in the main roles?

A: I keep going back to reading but when I read books, they play like films in my head. When I write, I’m actually writing about the movie rolling in my mind (they even have their own soundtracks). Its often celebrities/actors that play the roles of my characters.

It’s like directing these actors in my own film and apart from Mukti, the female lead of the book, the appearance of all the main characters are actually based on actors I like or those that look like how I want my characters to look

But that doesn’t mean I actually dare to dream that my book would be made into a film, or that it would have my ideal cast if it was adapted for the big screen.  That would be so crazy!

Chasing Pavements is available to download from Amazon US, Amazon UK, iBooks, Kobo, and B&N Nook

Read an excerpt at the Amazon Kindle Store here, or download the first 25% of Chasing Pavements for free from Smashwords here.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Tip for Writers: Tackling Word Count

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post detailing the tricks and tips I’ve picked up during my writing journey, and I’ve been meaning to write one on word count for a while now. Finally, I’ve got around to doing just that.

When it comes to the length of the novel you’re writing, my advice is: don’t worry about word count, how long your manuscript is becoming. Just get everything on the page. You’re going to clean it up when you’re editing it.

Then, when you’re doing the re-writing, my advice is: don’t worry about word count. On a book-level. Meaning: let the novel be as long as it needs to be to tell your story.

I know there are guideline figures floating around about how many words should be in a romance novel, in a YA fantasy, and so on, but I wouldn’t take these too seriously. Keep them in mind – after all, knowledge is power – but don’t think that you have to adhere to those rules. If your story is a good one and you write it well, readers will enjoy it and won’t care how long it is. Unless it’s too short. You don’t want to rush a good thing. It shouldn’t feel like you didn’t spend enough time on your creation.

In saying that, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t worry about word count on a chapter-by-chapter level. My personal opinion is – and I’ve seen this in more and more recent bestsellers – every chapter in your novel doesn’t have to be of the same length. If they’re roughly similar in length and each chapter does what it’s supposed to, great. Otherwise, tackle word count on a chapter-level.

The length of each chapter in your book should, more or less, correlate with the events depicted. It might seem obvious, but when you’re writing some of your favourite scenes, you don’t want to finish them. You want to add more description, explain more of the emotions your characters are feeling. You’ll enjoy it, but your readers might think you overdid it.

For example, say you’re writing a romance novel and one of your chapters sees your female lead waiting for the new guy she’s met to call her, but he doesn’t. The whole weekend goes by, but still no phone-call or text. This is a chapter where nothing, literally, happens. So the chapter should be quite a short one. If it’s pushing towards the 2,000-words mark, you need to cut that chapter down, quite considerably.

When I was writing Someone Like You (The Soulmates Saga, Book 3), I started keeping a log of word count per chapter in a spreadsheet, next to a column with the events that take place in the chapter. Whether you’re in the process of writing your novel, or editing a finished manuscript, I would strongly recommend you do this.

In a spreadsheet, you need one column with the chapter number, the column next to it can be titled ‘Summary’ and the third and final column will record the number of words in the chapter. The ‘Summary’ column should be a very concise account of what happens in the chapter. You don’t need to go into details, include any quotes, just the basic events that occur. Very quickly, you’ll be able to see, from the size of each cell in the ‘Summary’ column which chapters have very little action and which have a lot happening.

You might consider splitting some of the action-packed chapters into two, or not, but in terms of word count, you’ll have an idea of which chapters need cutting down just by comparing the size of each ‘Summary’ cell in your spreadsheet with the number of words noted in the column next to it. A small, two-sentence ‘Summary’ cell next to the number 1,700? Highlight it for trimming.

Don’t just do this by eye though. When you’re editing, go down each row of your spreadsheet, each chapter of your book, and ask yourself, “Do I really need 1,700 words for a chapter where Joan is waiting for John to call?”

I do this for all my books now, and it serves another purpose: When you look down the ‘Summary’ column and the first several cells show that nothing interesting is happening yet, or there’s are a few cells in the middle of the column where there’s nothing exciting, you’ll realise you need to tighten up the beginning of your novel or add some drama to the middle of it.

You can find my others posts on writing tips under the 'Posts on Writing' section of my blog (if you're looking at the desktop version).

Monday, 22 August 2016

Pre-Order Poison Blood, Books 3 & 4 Now!

Yes, as the title of this post suggests, I have some new books coming out. I have been a very busy bee these last few months, haven't I? Hot on the heels of the launch of Someone Like You (Soulmates Saga, Book 3), I'm delighted to reveal that books 3 and 4 of my paranormal/urban fantasy series, the Poison Blood series, will be released this Halloween:

Poison Blood, Book 3: Prophecy
Poison Blood, Books 4: Apocalypse

They're both available for pre-order NOW! At a low introductory price of $0.99 each! And if you don't already know, you will only get charged the $0.99 on the day the book is released, not on the day you place the pre-order.

PB3: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks US | iBooks UK | B&N Nook | Kobo

PB4: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks US | iBooks UK | B&N Nook | Kobo

So order your copy now, as the cost will return to its normal price of $1.49 each after its released on October 31, 2016.

Books 1 and 2 are still free to download, so if you haven't gotten into this series yet, this is the time to take the plunge. Click on the name of the book and you'll be directed to the book page on this blog, where you'll find information on where you can download your copy today.

I don't know what it is about this series of books about teen vampire Ellie Dalton, but whenever I come to publishing them, I'm always busy with other projects (as well as with life) that I don't have enough time to throw a proper launch party for them. When I released the series opener, Poison Blood, Book 1: Revelation, and the second book, Poison Blood, Book 2: Absolution, I was writing other novels and had a lot going on in my personal life, so I sort of rushed the launch process. 

I've made no secret that I regret publishing the first two books before I'd finished writing the whole series, and because of that, I've decided to release the the last two books on the same day and make them available for pre-order from the same date. I've suffered enough setbacks in life and kept my readers waiting for too long, that I just want to publish these books now that they're ready. Just in case something pops up and I can't publish the fourth book at the planned date.

If you're one of those readers that enjoy a title reveal, cover reveal, then a blurb reveal and a whole host of other launch ceromonies, I'm really sorry that I can't deliver on this occasion. I've finally overcome my writer's block and I just want to prioritise the creating and the writing. Who knows what future holds? There's no guarantee that I'll have plenty of time (or the right circumstances) to write my other books if I take a little time away from them now to market the novels that I've already written.

Hopefully with my next releases, I'll be able to launch them with a lot more finesse :)

Monday, 15 August 2016

Book Recommendations – Do People Actually Do It?

I don't think the majority of readers do.

Not when it comes to independently published books written by unknown authors. It’s not necessarily because readers don’t want to spread the word about a book they really enjoyed reading, loved even, but rather the lack of opportunity to do so.

Avid readers aren’t always surrounded by others like them. Though they might ‘hang out’ online with other readers on Goodreads, in their day-to-day lives, the typical bookworm can be found amongst the uninitiated. How many times have we heard someone say, “I love books, but none of my friends, family or colleagues are into reading”? With technological advances and SmartPhones in every pair of hands you see, reading as a valued past-time is becoming more and more uncommon. Lives are busy. Schedules hectic. Time to entertain ourselves is limited. As a result, people are more likely to invest what little free time they have in less time-consuming activities that will (supposedly) entertain them in the same way as books will, maybe even more so.
The other point to make about recommending lesser known authors and their books is that people are wary as to what their peers will think of their suggestions. It’s easier to say you’ve read the latest John Grisham thriller or the current chart-topper and highly recommend them, than it is to broach the subject of a novel that only exists in digital format or doesn’t have the logo of a publishing house printed on its spine. They might worry that their social circle will think it’s odd that they’re reading books written by authors that haven’t made it. And you can’t blame them, not really, because you know you’ve posted on Facebook many times about watching the latest must-see movie that everyone’s raving about, but have you ever boasted about how much you enjoyed the short film your friend made in his or her media studies course?

What happens when a reader does recommend a book to their friends and family? The book gains an extra reader/download more often than not. One of the book bloggers that agreed to review my book Chasing Pavements said that she loved it so much that she phoned her mother “and told her to buy her own copy”, and sure enough, her mum downloaded my book from Amazon that same day. 
I convinced two of my friends – one a frequent reader, the other not so much – into reading the Twilight Saga when they weren’t at all keen, sceptical in fact. I really loved those books and told them they ought to give them a go. Both of them ended up enjoying the books and also the films. 
I downloaded the Fifty Shades of Grey series only because one of my closest friends – the occasional reader I mentioned above – highly recommended it. Until she’d read the trilogy and urged me to read it because she’d really enjoyed it, I had no intentions of reading a series of books that I would never read in a million years. I struggled through the first book but couldn’t finish the second – I’d been right all along; these books weren’t for me. However, I’d purchased them because I trusted my friend’s opinion. It’s not her fault that I didn’t like Fifty Shades – I’ve enjoyed other books she’s lent me – but the point I’m making is, we’ll try books outside of our comfort zone and outside our favourite genres if someone close to us shows passion for them. 
One of my friends recently said that though she doesn’t feel comfortable recommending books to her peers, she will read a book that’s recommended by someone she knows. Especially if it’s a new or indie author. 
Word-of-mouth recommendations really go a long way in getting indie authors a readership. We value the opinions of our peers and trust their judgement. Friends and family can ‘bully’ us (lovingly, of course) into reading different books, in a way that an author or their publisher’s marketing department can’t. 
Now, I’m not going to make the usual plea to readers to make a song-and-dance about all the indie books they’ve enjoyed, or at least about my books. They don’t have to. They don’t know me – hardly anyone knows me! – and after paying for my book with their hard-earned cash and getting what they wanted out of it, there really isn’t much more they owe me. And if they don’t feel particularly comfortable about telling people what they’re reading, they don’t have to. Not for me, a stranger. 
BUT. But if you want to help an indie author’s work become better known, if it doesn’t matter what your peers will think about what you’re reading, if you talk with your friends/family/colleagues about what you’re doing in your spare time, mention the latest book or a good indie book you’ve read and encourage them to read it. You’ll be surprised how much value your friends will give your opinion.

PS. Some tips if you plan to do some word-of-mouth promotions:

Be as positive as possible. Mention what you liked (good plot, relatable/interesting/unique characters, good writing etc.), how it made you feel, if you’re glad you read it, and so on.

Avoid things like:

“It’s probably not your thing, but you should give it a go and see…”

“It might be too romantic for you, but…”

“It might be too dark for you, but…”