Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Last Day of Chasing Pavements Giveaway

So, today is the last day you can download Chasing Pavements for free from Smashwords.  Still a whole day left, so if you haven't yet used the SSWIN coupon code listed on the book page to download the book, do it by the end of today!

And thanks to everyone who has downloaded it in the last few days - I hope you enjoy it and do let me know what you thought by leaving a review at the bottom of the book page.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Chasing Pavements Giveaway

There are a few things to celebrate this summer (apart from finally getting some sun and heat in London when it seemed for so long that we’d been robbed of summer!).  First, publishing my book Chasing Pavements at the end of June, and over the course of July seeing it get listed in the various e-book retailers.  At the time of writing, the following online e-book stores are selling Chasing Pavements:

The second celebratory event is the two-year anniversary of me first starting Chasing Pavements.  I began writing the book on August 1, 2010 so it’s nice that this coincides with the one-month anniversary of Chasing Pavements first being published.

It’s also my birthday on July 27 (and the Olympics start on this very day too - exciting!) so to celebrate all these occasions, Chasing Pavements will be available to download for free from Smashwords from July 27 until July 31.

Full details are on the book page: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/177590

Thank you all for your support and kind words, and I hope this is a little something I can give back to you to convey my gratitude!

Neha xXx

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Book Review - Chasing Pavements

Today's guest book review was written by a customer of Smashwords.com

Book: Chasing Pavements
Author: Neha Yazmin
Reviewer: Smashwords customer

"It was very stupid but it was also very true. Mukti was in love with him and she didn't even know his name." Introverted singer/songwriter Jamie is suffering from writer's block. Until he meets the mysterious Mukti. Suddenly, his creativity blossoms and he feels torn - he has to see her, but can he bare his tortured soul to her? But Mukti has her own secrets and is just as troubled as he is.

This first novel by Neha Yazmin was also my first ebook, and I'm glad as it made it easier to read wherever I was, since towards the middle of the book until the end I found it unputdownable. Not to say I didn't enjoy the start, especially the opening prologue.

The story is well told, and a relatively simple one of troubled boy meets troubled girl and how they struggle to overcome their respective pasts and dysfunctional families with the support of one another, but also causing them obstacles to really commit to finding one another. Of course it doesn't go so smoothly along the way and there are a few twists along the way! 

It is a story about love, friendship, family, music, life, destiny and soul mates. Two people who need each other to become their true self.

Neha has a way with descriptions that make the scenes really vivid. I loved the London setting, that London itself becomes a key character in the story. It would not have worked in any other setting!

The recurring themes also come full circle through the course of the book, which I found unfolded beautifully.

I also couldn't finish the review without mentioning the songs (the lead character is a singer!). I enjoyed them all, although in parts I did think there were maybe a few too many - but that in itself was central to the storyline, reflecting key insight into and reflection of the characters and their state of mind. A great mechanism to add to the story telling.

Finally my hidden gem was the QandA with the author at the end which was a nice surprise to allow us to share Neha's experience of writing her first novel.

I look forward to reading some of Neha's other work but hope I don't have to wait too long!

Tip for Writers: Marketing Your Book

I know I touched upon the importance of book reviews for indie authors in a previous post, but I would like to revisit this topic again for a special reason. 

After reading a very helpful blog post by contemporary fiction writer Christine Nolfi, author of Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, on how to get your books reviewed, I began my search for potential book reviewers and book bloggers.  I’ve been putting this task off up until now because Chasing Pavements isn’t available at Amazon yet, but Christine’s blog alerted me to the fact that this process isn’t as quick and instant as us authors would prefer.  And that I am already behind in this race!  Oops.

It’s a mammoth task, filtering through the different search results on Google to get to the right websites and directories.  And then, once you’ve spent a half a day compiling a list of suitable reviewers and bloggers whose websites you can scan to determine whether they will indeed read your book, you find that many do not accept e-books, or worse, are not accepting any submissions at all.  Particularly frustrating when you think you’ve located reviewers that form your target audience.  But keep looking, and you will find a handful of reviewers that you can send query letters/e-mails to.  If a couple of them accept your book, it definitely makes this a task worth doing.

The other trend that emerged was that very few reviewers are willing to read works of indie authors, and those that will accept e-books, still have a preference for the paperback and admit that the electronic books sometimes get forgotten. 

I went to sleep thinking that these book reviewers were doing a brilliant job though.  Juggling their work-life and reading loads of books and blogging about it.  They do it out of love for reading and for no monetary gain.  Still, I thought sleepily, if only they were all a bit more e-book-friendly, more supportive of independent authors…  Is there anything I can do?

The next morning I woke up thinking there is something I can do!  So I added a new tab to my blog called ‘About’, where I am inviting authors a chance to promote their book on my blog by writing guest posts, participating in blog swaps with me, and offering another avenue where bookworms and reviewers can post their reviews.  It’s not going to change the world but its one extra webpage where you can promote the book you’ve written or read.  It’s all about increasing your online presence and posting links to your book page on as many sites as possible.  

Visit the ‘About’ tab for more information on how to promote a book you've written or recently reviewed for your blog, and read the post titled 'Book Review - Chasing Pavements' to get an idea of how a one-off book review by a non-blogging bookworm could feature on this blog.

Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, click the image below to learn more about it:

Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 

Book Details

Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.

And the first two books in my urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon USAmazon UK|   iBooks US & UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords

PB1 Book Details

Length: 29,000 words
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Vampire Romance / Paranormal Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Science Fiction & Fantasy

Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things vampires, slayers and witches!

What makes you creative? Part II

We’ve all heard certain people being described as having “the personality of a goldfish.”  I personally never used that phrase, but I frequently find myself thinking that of course person X is an IT-wiz!  Or I knew person Y was a musician!  They just have the personality to go with it!  So, do writers have the personality to go with their profession? 

Psychologists have used the Five Factor Model of personality, which broadly classifies human personality into five dimensions, or factors, to investigate the relationship between personality and creativity.  Each factor comprises a range of behaviours that are plotted on a scale.

‘Openness to experience’ is one of the big five factors, with curious/inventive individuals on one end of this spectrum and consistent/cautious people on the other end.  Then we have ‘Conscientiousness’ (efficient/organised vs. easy-going/careless), ‘Extraversion’ (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved), ‘Agreeableness’ (friendly/compassionate vs. cold/unkind), and finally, ‘Neuroticism’ (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident).

‘Openness to experience’ has a strong positive correlation with creativity.  With increasing appreciation for art, adventure, variety of experiences, emotion, curiosity and unusual ideas, levels of creativity also increases.  This applies to authors.  They draw on their own emotions, experiences and fantasies when writing, and the more interesting activities they participate in, the more content they have to include in their stories.  Scenes they write are richer, for they have first-hand knowledge of how it feels to sky-dive, how the fields below look during a hot air balloon ride.  Just being open to fantasy, daydreaming about the most romantic first encounter with the love of your life, can give your writing that magical feel, even if you actually met your husband in the most mundane of settings.

If you’re lower down the ‘Extraversion’ continuum, you will be high on the ‘Introversion’ scale.  Reserved and more interested in what’s going on inside your head, you will generally prefer solitary activities such as reading, writing and playing computer games.  When I’m writing, I will go to great lengths to close myself off from the world.  I need that solitude, peace and quiet, to be alone with my characters. 

But writers cannot afford to be such introverts.  Once the book is written, we have to busy ourselves with the outside world in order to determine the best routes forward.  Find the right editor to edit it, the most suitable beta readers for their feedback, the literary agent, the publisher. 

If you’re self-publishing, you cannot be shy and rely on readers to come to you, stumble upon your book while you sit at your laptop, staring at the page views chart on your dashboard.  You need to get out there, do everything and anything you can to spread the word about your writing.  Treat it like a problem, find as many solutions as possible and follow through.  Be creative.

Friday, 20 July 2012

What makes you creative? Part I

Some individuals are incredibly creative and artistic.  Some are more logical and practical.  You know both types of people.  At school, you had the nerds and geeks, who knew the answers to all the maths and science questions in class and received A-grades in every subject.  Apart from… art and English, and some of the other humanities subjects perhaps? 

Those who excelled in the arts wowed you with the vividness of their paintings, the accuracy of their drawings, the imaginative stories that they wrote so quickly and effortlessly, generally struggled to scrape C-grades in the maths and sciences.

In the office, you can distinguish between the arty-types and the boffins.  Your imaginative, inventive colleagues will regularly propose interesting and innovative projects to work on, niche areas of the industry to explore.  They can even defend and develop their ideas should you query and question them.  In line with Guildford’s model of creative ability (Guildford, 1950), this individual comes up with several ideas (‘fluency’), of many different types (‘flexibility’), and these are sometimes unusual (‘originality’), but the thinker can develop them (‘elaboration’).

A colleague of mine fits this model perfectly, but when I ask him to implement his ideas, he often fails to deliver the most practical, efficient and organised methods of achieving his goals.  As the casual process model of creativity (Basadur, Runco, & Vega, 2000) points out, creativity isn’t simply about producing ideas.  One has to source good problems, solve them and implement the most appropriate solutions. 

Writers, in my opinion, are able to generate interesting ideas and discover the best methods of making them work.  We think up intriguing characters, epic scenes, even create a whole new world of make-believe, but we still treat our ideas as problems to solve.  Scrutinise them from every angle.  Predict and prevent future complications.  The most talented and successful authors however, take one good idea, find all the problems that are likely to arise from utilising it, resolve these issues and in doing so, they generate a whole new string of ideas to build on, explore, and in turn making that first good idea even better than when it started.

Read the second part of this post here.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Chasing Pavements Reviewed

So, the first review of my book Chasing Pavements is out!  Written and posted six days after the writer of the review, RosieReview, downloaded it from the Apple iBookStore.  That’s good time for a 168,000-word novel!  I would like to thank her for taking the time to read and review it and am delighted that she enjoyed the book so much.

I won’t copy and paste the review here – you can read it on Rosie’s book review blog: http://rosiereview.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/chasing-pavements-neha-yazmin/ – but I will touch upon my favourite parts of her review.

She has rated Chasing Pavements as a ‘must read’, which is wonderful. 

Reviews, word-of-mouth and reader recommendations are vital for new independent authors like me.  A couple of favourable reviews assuring prospective buyers that the book is worth reading can often be the determining factor when a browser is hesitating over taking a chance on a writer who they have never heard of.  The author goes to great lengths to reel in potential readers to their book page but can lose them so easily if there is not one review.

I can go on for a while about the importance of reviews and recommendations, but instead I will quote fellow indie romance novelist Susan Buchanan, author of Sign of the Times.  “Like a book?  Why not tell your friends, and if you really like it, why not leave a wee Amazon review?”

The Characters:
I was thrilled to see that Rosie felt so strongly about the male lead’s mistakes and flaws, making clear that she cared about Mukti, the heroine, who was most affected by his decisions.  This is the most you can hope for from any reader – that they care about your characters. 

I’m so glad that Jamie and Mukti captivated this reader from the first page, the same way Jamie fascinated me from the moment he popped into my head on August 1, 2010.  He was already quite unique when he came to me and I wanted to stay true to that, wanted him to be different from the heroes in most romance books.  Complex and enigmatic, in some ways, he is quite simple and straightforward.  He’s the reluctant hero, almost an anti-hero, and yet he is quite heroic in certain points of the novel.  In his own special way.

Following her review, Rosie went on to say that she was missing Jamie and Mukti after finishing the book.  This gives me an excuse to say that Chasing Pavements is a love story between two unique characters that will stay with you after you have turned the final page.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Script Theory, Part II

Script theory suggests that the life-story we envisage for ourselves during childhood is ultimately the path we will endeavour to follow in adult life. 

If we decide to be like Little Red Riding Hood when we grow up, that’s what we will secretly and unconsciously strive to achieve.  Of course, I don’t mean literally bumping into a wolf whilst on our way to grandma’s house with soup for she is poorly, but in a metaphorical sense.  Let’s break down that metaphor: 

Little Red Riding Hood is on a journey.  Life is a journey. 

She is taking soup for her ill grandmother.  This relates to wanting to do good deeds, be a good person, please others. 

She meets a wolf along the way.  Posing as her grandmother, the wolf tricks her and then eats her.  You can take your pick as to who the wolf represents.  A bad boy tricking you into thinking he’s the perfect guy.  A husband who cheats on you.  An evil boss who promises you your dream job but it’s actually a complete nightmare, not at all what it said in the job spec.

Then she gets rescued by the woodsmen.  We’re always looking for our knight in shining armour, our saviour.  That’s when we get our happy ending.

Wait.  What if there is no rescuer?  What if there was no one to be rescued from?  What if we aren’t walking on the path we envisioned we would?

Those who end up living the daydream they conjured up in their youth are labelled by script theory as winners.  If we stray from the route our six-year-old selves mapped out for us, then we are losers

Writing always made me happy.  When I wasn’t writing, and for a long period of my life I wasn’t writing anything, I was unhappy.  Having published my first novel, a contemporary romance set in London called Chasing Pavements, and therefore edging closer to the destiny that I chose as a child, I do feel like I’m in a much better place.  Despite the hectic full-time job and family issues that pop-up on a regular, sometimes hourly, basis. 

Luckily, there is always a way for the losers to become winners, always a way back to your rightful path.  You just have to look for it, or be ready to let others show you.  I touched upon this concept in Chasing Pavements, which is essentially about two lost souls coming together and losing themselves all over again - in each other.

If you would like to read more about script theory, refer to the works of Eric Berne.  I recommend the two books that I have read, 'Games People Play - The Psychology of Human Relationships', and 'What Do You Say After You Say Hello? The Psychology of Human Destiny'.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Script Theory, Part I

According to script theory, we decide our destiny by the age of six.

At the age of six, I knew I wanted to be a writer.  Perhaps not in the same way I knew at the age of 16 or 26, but I knew I loved books, loved the feel and smell of them, loved the way they fit into my hands, whatever shape or size they were. 

Loved the way they made me feel.  Like I was special and could, one day, be the hero of my own little fantasy. 

Books were where all my friends were.  Characters I related more to than my own peers.  I was a shy, introverted child you see.  I’m still quite shy now, but in a healthier, I-can-still-act-normal-around-strangers-I-feel-shy-towards way.

Growing up, I was constantly laying down all the stories that bubbled up in my brain.  Illustrating them with the school’s chunky, shiny wax crayons.  Asking the teacher to staple them together into a booklet. 

Becoming an author seemed like a dream that would never come true.  Fun to entertain myself with, but not to pin any hopes on.  Some days, I would be a lot more positive and tell myself that I could be whatever I wanted to be if I put my mind to it.  Still, it felt like something I would do when I grew up.

Now I have grown up, and I have been lucky enough to live in such a time that has allowed me to self-publish my book Chasing Pavements, a contemporary romance novel set in London, as an e-book.  My six-year-old self would have said, “I told you so.”  The teenaged (and also adult) version would say, “OMG I can’t believe it!”

But believe I must, because a long, tough, rollercoaster of a journey awaits me.  Book marketing is not a task that can be taken lightly.  Believe me.

Read the second part of this post here.