Meet Vanessa Salazar

Today it is my great pleasure to have Vanessa Salazar on my blog. I have asked her to respond to some interview questions so we might learn more about this talented author. Welcome, Vanessa.

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Where do you live and what do you like about living there?

I am a Caribbean girl. Born and bred Trinidadian. My country is a place where people still say good morning to strangers, and it doesn’t matter what is happening in the world; Trinidadians always like to have fun.

What are your favourite hobbies?

I love going to the beach on weekends. During the week I read just about anything and watch TV dramas like Homeland, Scandal, and Games of Thrones.

 How did you get started with writing?

I was actively looking for writers workshops I could attend or groups I could join. I saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a First Time Author Appreciation function. I attended the function and learned that there was a Writers Union of Trinidad and Tobago. The following Saturday I attended a meeting and subsequently joined the organization. There, I began writing short stories and within the first year I started working on Selima and the Merfolk.

What do you like about being a writer?

I like that there are no limits to what you can write. Fiction writing is totally dependent on your imagination, so all the daydreaming I used to do as a child was good practice.

What would you like people to know about you?

Firstly, my prize possession is my family who have always been very supportive of me. Secondly, I am an ordinary person who decided to overcome my fears and ended up fulfilling my dreams.

What kinds of things do you like to write about?

Folklore and fiction which, depending on what you write, can be the same thing.

What is the title of your book?

Selima and the Merfolk.

Can you tell us in  a sentence or two what it’s about?

It’s about a girl who is forced to live with her estranged father in Las Cuevas. There she discovers a mystical river inhabited by merfolk.

Do your characters end up having learned something in the story that has improved them in some way? What values have they learned that will aid in their growth towards adulthood?

My protagonist has a fear of rejection. Falling in love aids her in curbing that fear because you have no choice when you fall in love. You simply cannot help yourself. Incidentally, falling in love helps her repair her relationship with her father. She learns to trust and forgive.

Do you have another book planned? Without giving away the plot, can you tell us what type of book it will be?

Yes, I do. I am working on the sequel to “Selima and the Merfolk.”

SELIMA BOOK COVER

Where can people buy your book?

If you live in Trinidad, copies can be purchased at:

Paper Based Bookshop – Hotel Normandie, 10 Nook Avenue, St. Anns

Deltex Art Shop – 66 Pembroke Street, Port of Spain.

You can also send me a message on my blog’s contact page and I’ll get a copy to you.

Hardcover, paperback and e-book copies can be purchased online at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

Writing a Book

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How did I ever get started writing a book? What made me think I could do it? Now that I’ve done it several times, how do I feel about it?

I honestly don’t know why I wrote a book. I love writing, but mostly my writing involved short stories that evolved from sending emails to friends telling them about  funny things that happened to me on outings like trout fishing or mushroom picking.

I suppose the stories got longer and longer until one day I had to tell the story of a woman who lived in a remote cabin with a man who turned out to be mentally unstable. He was like the little girl with the curl, right in the middle of her forehead — remember that poem?) Like her, “when he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad, he was horrid.”

This woman and her captor had a story to tell, so I thought, Why not? I could tell this story.

That was when my education began, about how to write a novel. It was so much more complicated than just dashing off a magazine article or a blog post. So much  to learn.

I was lucky. I joined the local writers group, found a good friend and author, Darlene Jones, who became my best ever writing buddy and critiquer, and another good writer friend, Kathleen Price, who is a great substantive editor and understands how to prepare a novel for the paperback layout.

With the help of these two good writer-friends, and a supportive husband who has all the commercial fishing background to fill in the gaps in the setting of my coastal story and check it for accuracy, I was able to write The Wind Weeps.

When I got to the end of the book, I had a dilemma. I couldn’t decide which of the eight possible endings to use. Each one left some readers unhappy. No way could I please everyone.

There was only one solution. Write the ending that I liked, and then write a sequel. In a few weeks that  sequel should be available to readers. I’m so glad because it has been a long, hard journey to get it there. Between The Wind Weeps and its sequel, I wrote two other novels (Orion’s Gift and Julia’s Violinist). But get ready, Reckoning Tide is coming your way soon.

You can find my books on amazon.com and on smashwords.com

Please leave a comment and tell us how you got started in writing.

Find and Replace

When I have a long piece of work to edit, enhance, and rewrite, it helps to use the technology available to me. My tech savvy is only moderate, but I’ve learned to make good use of some of the functions available to me.

One of my favourite tools in Word is Find and Replace.

Suppose I am reading over a section of my writing and I’ve just realized that my Constable Andersen mentioned near the end of the book is spelled “sen” and elsewhere in the manuscript I’m sure I had it spelled Anderson with the “son” ending. Now I’m wondering how many more times I’ve spelled it Anderson, and where in my manuscript might those instances be?

Luckily, using Word, I don’t have to read the whole ms to look for “Anderson.” That’s what Find and Replace is for.

I go to the beginning of my ms and click on the Home tab. On the far right, I see a tiny set of binoculars with the word “Find” beside it. I click on “Find” and in the navigation window that drops down, I can type in the word I’m looking for.

I type in “Anderson,” the word with the wrong spelling (for the purposes of my novel). Word will automatically take me to each case of “Anderson” when I click the up or down arrow. At each stop, I have the option of going into the text to change the spelling to “Andersen.”

If I had a change to make that involved more than just a few words, I could use the Replace option to do the work for me. Depending on which version of Word you have, you can either click on Replace (under the binoculars on the right), or, in older versions, click on the Replace tab in the window that opened when you first clicked “Find.”

It’s a fast and easy way to be sure to find all instances of some mistake you may have made.

Watch out for a funny thing that can happen when you are using Replace.

Let’s say you were changing one of your characters from a girl to a boy. Every time you have referred to the girl you’ve said “her.” Now that you are using a boy, you want those words to say “his,” not “her.”

But beware. Find will show you all cases of “her,” even if it is only a part of a longer word. If you changed all cases of “her” to “his,” you might end up with a new spelling nightmare with “mother” changed to “mothis” and “there” changed to “thise.” As I’ve discovered, there are many words with the letters “her” in them.

Definitely use Find, but use Replace more carefully.

Do you judge a book by its cover? Part Two

My guest today is Anita B. Carroll, the wonderful lady who designed the new cover for my novel, The Wind Weeps. Anita will explain what is involved in designing book covers and if you are in the market for a book cover, you can’t go wrong by checking out her qualifications, her portfolio, and her very reasonable prices.

Here’ s Anita:

How important do you think your cover design is? Is it worth it to spend the money on a professional designer? That’s a good question and you would expect me, a designer, to push for hiring a pro.

However, when you look at the facts, the question really is, can you afford not to hire a designer?  I welcome you to read an article I wrote for KOBO Writing Life, where I show the effect the cover designs have on the book sales, in numbers:  http://kobowritinglife.com/2013/11/22/weve-got-you-covered-friday-lets-talk-numbers/

Selling a book is an art form in itself, and there are some important areas to factor in to not only help reach your target readers, but most importantly to increase your book sales.  Selling your book will probably be the biggest challenge you are going to face, and what it really boils down to is the packaging, delivery, and the value — which I talk about in more detail in this blog post:

http://race-point.com/2015/03/03/authorbranding/

Some samples of my work:

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From behind the scenes of a cover designer

I thought it might be interesting to talk about how the cover design process works and what to look for in a cover designer.

The cover design process is probably a lot more in-depth than you might think. Just like writing a manuscript for your story, designing a high quality cover that is a true representation of your story, takes time, research, and patience.

Every cover designer’s process, is different.  I come from a background with website User Interface Design and Development with focus on product development, which is also known as brand identity. So in my world, to design for a product, you have to fully understand it and for me the best way to do just that is to read your story.

After reading it, I will have a set of questions for you which will help ensure we are both on the same page and your vision and expectations are met.

Once we finalize the concept, I begin searching for stock imagery or do a custom photo shoot, which I present to you for  final approval. Once we settle on imagery I begin designing and do send off a cover sample to you for your review to give you a chance to give me any edits/tweaks. Once the revision is complete, so is the cover design.

The whole process can take anything from 24 hours to 2 months. It varies from one cover project to another.

Here are some tips to keep in mind for finding that right cover designer:

  1. View their online portfolio. Make sure the designer’s design style fits your vision. Understanding the difference between an illustrator and a digital manipulation designer is helpful.
  2. Provide your designer with ample time. The more time you give the designer to work on your cover, the better it will be. This gives us time to really think the design through and create a much more involved design.
  3. If you have something specific in mind provide samples. Pictures are always better than descriptions, especially when it comes to colors.
  4. Know that you don’t have to know what you want. We are trained and will help you brainstorm great ideas. The more specific you are, the more restricted we feel and you could stand to lose out on a great concept, since we always will work our hardest giving you what you want. Always.
  5. And lastly, keep in mind the cover design does not have to be literal, but focus more on the emotion the imagery represents.

Best of luck!

About the cover designer:

Anita B. Carroll, at Race-Point.com is a Visual Design provider with over 18 years of creative professional experience, and produces high-end quality cover creations for both print and online mediums including custom photography.

Anita works primarily with self-published authors in addition to freelance for publishing companies.

Learn more about Anita (http://race-point.com/about-2/ )and view her cover works. http://race-point.com/portfolio/

Get a quote:  http://race-point.com/quote/

Do you judge a book by its cover?

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I used to believe and follow that advice. I’ve read some excellent books that came “in a plain brown wrapper.”

Years ago, when most hardcover books came in  plain cloth or hard paper covers, not illlustrated, a discerning reader had to look for a synopsis on the inside of the flap jacket  to decide whether the book might be more interesting than its cover.

When paperbacks came out, covers of the classics and non-fiction books were still plain. Then a new kind of paperback with illustrated covers hit the market. Yes, there were a few good books among these, but many covers were associated with a lesser quality of writing or cheesier topics. Often a cheap photo or drawing attempted to lure a reader into buying.

Times have changed. Now that everyone is a writer, the market is more competitive and since most authors want to realize some sales now rather than 100 years after their death, they resort to a flashy advertising campaign. And it works!

Put a boring plain cover next to a flashy modern one, and it’s no contest. The eye, and hand, are almost always drawn to the flashier cover. Of course, in the end, the real test still lies in the text between the front and back covers of the book.

Anita B. Carroll has helped bring me into the modern age of competitive book covers. With her amazing imagination she has created a new cover for my novel, The Wind Weeps.

After reading the book, she said it had the same suspense as the movie Sleeping With the Enemy starring Julia Roberts. I was so pleased that she found it to be a page turner.

For the novel, The Wind Weeps, I had thought of book cover images with a stormy ocean,  a desperate young woman, perhaps a boat … but none of these images conveyed the terror that is also a part of this love story. Andrea’s husband brings her orchids. Perhaps orchids could feature in the cover? But the cover image can’t be too rosy (sorry for the pun). It is also a dark story – the kind of darkness that makes you want to turn the page, looking for the light.

In the end, I told Anita, “Just forget my ideas and see what you come up with.”

She really came through for me. I was shocked at first because it was so different from what I expected, but she has captured all the elements of the story. The delicate orchid, the tears dripping from it into a desolate ocean; love gone wrong. The red sky symbolizing (for me) pain and fear, and the dark, rough ocean symbolizing Andrea’s remote isolation and desperation.

Here is Anita B. Carroll’s amazing creation for The Wind Weeps. This novel is available at all amazon outlets, and at smashwords.com

WEB_WRAP_2If you are looking for someone to design and create your next book cover, why not give Anita B. Carroll a try?

Anita’s  contact information:

www.race-point.com

The Lovely Blog Hop

I’ve been challenged by Darlene Jones, author of five novels (www.emandyves.com), to join the Lovely Blog Hop to share some of the things that have helped shape my writing and my life. Thank you, Darlene.

The blog rules include telling a bit about myself and my interests. So here I am, Anneli Purchase, sharing my trivia with you.

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First Fond Memory

In the summer, going to the playground was always fun. My mother sat nearby on a bench while my brother and I played on the swings. I haven’t been able to figure out what it means that I was always the one who stood protectively (and in charge) on the swings to pump them ever higher with my brother tucked safely between my feet. Either I love my brother very much, or I’ve been a control freak since the age of five, or both.

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In the winter, my dad was the one who pulled the sled and had mock snowball fights with my brother and me. My mother was usually at home making sure the hot chocolate was ready for us on our return.

Books

I got in trouble for reading at school. Nancy Drew mysteries were such page turners. I had to learn that even though the object was to teach us to read, the teacher needed my attention on her at times, and I had to abandon Nancy for a while. Later when I became a teacher, I used to wish I had students who would rather read than anything else in school.

Libraries

Our small town had very little to offer in the way of library books or guidance for children who needed to be steered towards something more challenging but just as stimulating as Nancy Drew mysteries. A huge gap in reading followed those early elementary school years. I was a young adult before a bookish friend got me on track again. That’s a story for another time and place.

Passion

Anything outdoors was my passion. Learning about the animals, camping, fishing, exploring, gardening, mushroom picking, birdwatching; that was a perfect way to spend my time. But wait, that’s not all. I had indoor passions too. I loved painting, making music, creating artsy things, writing, making up stories and plays, and playing sports — basketball, tennis, badminton, volleyball, even scrub baseball in the vacant lot across the street.

Learning

My first teaching job was in one of the last one-room schoolhouses on Vancouver Island. I had no teacher in a classroom next door to go to for help, so I had to learn fast in order to survive. My big passions while teaching were to make sure every child learned to read (because if all else failed, a person could catch up on knowledge later on if they could read), and to show the students that each one of them had an artist hidden in them. They were often surprised at their results and always proud of their artwork. Just a little guidance, and magical things can happen.

For myself, learning has never stopped. If I don’t know something, it bugs me and bugs me until I find out. I’ve always been like that, and while it drives some of my family crazy, it works for me and I love learning something new every day.

Writing

Writing is an addiction. I’m not happy if I’m not writing. All I need is paper, pen, and some quiet time. A computer is better, but paper and pen still work for me, too. I’ve written three novels and am working on my fourth. I can’t see myself stopping any time soon.

If you want to know more, check out my web page and my other blogsite.

www.anneli-purchase.com

http:wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com

And now I nominate Barbara Beacham.  https://salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com/

Rewriting. What to do and when to stop.

I love rewriting better than writing the first draft of my novels.

  • First I’m much more relaxed because I know the hard work of getting the storyline on “paper” is done.
  • As I rewrite I find mistakes and have a feeling of satisfaction when I fix them.
  • I find little treasures like a paragraph that I can rewrite using dialogue rather than boring narrative, and I’m pleased with myself for figuring that out.
  • I can’t believe I fell for the use of other words as dialogue tags instead of “said” and “asked” and I fix those, reaffirming that I can make the dialogue do the job of expressing the emotion rather than relying on the dialogue tag to provide it. Fancy words like “inquired” and “replied” just slow down the action. “Said” and “asked” are more like punctuation—necessary, but meant to be glossed over. This is also the place where I look for “ing” words and get rid of them if possible. (For example: “I’ll be right there,” she said, putting down the phone.) If she was putting down the phone when she was speaking into it, I wonder if the other party even heard her.
  • I look for repeated words and try to avoid using the same words or expressions in one paragraph. Repetition becomes obvious immediately when reading your work out loud.
  • Speaking of repetition, character names are often overused, especially in dialogue. Have you ever noticed that when you’re talking to someone, you rarely speak their name? The other person knows you’re talking to them and you and that person both know his or her name. Why would you keep on saying it? So for natural conversation, use the other person’s name sparingly. I often have to take out names in dialogue, and in narrative sections I replace them when possible with he or she.
  • In dialogue, the sentences should be fairly short. I need to check for long sentences that give a lot of information. People just don’t talk that way. Often they use only one or two words or phrases. Besides, short, snappy dialogue heightens the tension and that is what every author is striving for.
  • In the rewrite, I can also add little tidbits of description of people or places, but I try to be careful to do it in small doses. Long descriptions have a huge “yawn” factor.
  • When someone speaks, they may have some physical or emotional reaction that should be added, usually before the quotation. This is a good time to add that information.
  • As I reread my first draft, it’s important that I remember which point of view I’m in. I’ve made some awful POV mistakes that my critiquing buddy or I have found. For example, if I’m telling the scene in Andrea’s POV, I can’t write a thought that is happening in Jim’s head. Andrea has no way of knowing what he is thinking. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to fix POV problems before publication and save myself some embarrassment.
  • Now that I’ve mentioned my critiquing buddy, I have to say that my writing efforts are made so much easier because of her. I try to do the same for her and it makes us a great team. If you don’t have a writing buddy to exchange files with and help each other out, it’s very much worth your while to try to find someone who is willing to work with you. I find my buddy’s help invaluable! Oops! She’ll say not to use exclamation marks unless it’s for a one- or two-word expression, but in this case, I do want to stress that her help is invaluable!

 Most authors are perfectionists and they tend to rewrite over and over. I’ve heard it said that an author can tell that they’re finished rewriting when they end up with what they originally wrote in the first rewrite. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but sometimes you wonder ….