Friday, 29 January 2010

New Moon and some goodbyes…

As I mentioned in an earlier blog my husband gave me 'Eclipse' for a Xmas present and I didn't feel I could start reading it until I had read 'New Moon'. So, armed with my trusty credit card, I ordered New Moon and had it sent over to Spain and it has finally arrived - hurrah! I am now about a third of the way through and I am surprised that I am enjoying it. I am a bit disappointed that Edward seems to have disappeared (though still seems to be controlling Bella through some weird psychic talking), and, like Twilight, nothing much has really happened, but it is quite nice to be able to lose myself in something easy to read right now. I did get a little annoyed at Bella's moping around (pull yourself together girl!), but I am hoping that her random motorbike riding might be the start of a new, tougher, Bella. -new-moon-stephenie-meyer

Anyway, I will be sure to let you know what I think when I have finished it.

It was a sad day today as I had to say goodbye to a couple of good friends who unfortunately can't use facebook or email to stay in touch - our dogs. Admittedly one was a little stray who we have been trying to find a home for for sometime now, so the good bye to him should be a happy one as he has been taken in by a foster family before he goes to his new home.

One thing I hate about Spain is how they treat their animals. Of course I am not talking for everyone and there are always exceptions to the rule, but many of the Spanish don't believe in neutering their animals which leads to packs of stray dogs wandering the streets.

Our little stray turned up on our street during the summer and the summer people next door to us started feeding him. This was all well and good, but when they went home two weeks later they left the little dog wondering where his meals had gone. Our only options were to be either continue feeding him or drive him to another part of town and throw him out. We are far too soft to do the second option so naturally we continued to feed him and he quickly made friends with our dog.

Now we are heading back and one of the very small animal charities here has found him a home. These people survive only on donations; doing car boot sales with other people's 'junk' and then using the money to get the dogs chipped, vaccinated, and neutered and then placed in a new home. They are wonderful people and I am so grateful that there are people like this in the world who will give so much of their time to helping these poor animals.

Our own dog has gone into kennels while we wait for her pet passport to come through. One piece of advice I would give anyone living abroad who also has pets is make sure your pet passports are up-to-date. You never know what is going to happen and if you have to go back to the UK unexpectedly then it is a long old process to get them renewed. The whole process takes seven months from start to finish. We were not prepared so our dog is now in kennels until her passport comes through and then she will join us in the UK. In the meantime my poor husband is painting the kennels she will be in as payment for her food and board. He keeps joking that it is one thing working to keep a roof over his wife and child's head, but he can't believe he is working for his dog! It's not even though you can hold it over her when she gets older.

On a work front I am getting into some serious editing for my novel which is due out in May. I find it really interesting to work with a different editor and to get her points of view on my writing. Though it is always hard to have your bad habits pointed out, I am sure the whole process will make for a much better book and hopefully I will learn and become a better writer for it.

Mx

Monday, 25 January 2010

A new (if only temporary) home.

 

beinghumans2b On Friday the removal truck turned up at our house and has taken everything back to the UK – sob.  We don’t even have a house back in England yet, so all our stuff is going into storage until we find somewhere.

Happily we are now staying with my parents so I am making the most of having my mum make cups of tea, doing my washing, and generally being a child again.  It’s true, I never imagined I would be thirty, pregnant, with husband and daughter, and living back at my parents house again (and I’m sure neither did my parents!), but I am reminding myself that this is only a temporary blip and life will move forward again very soon.

But wow is the television good at the moment.  There are literally too many good shows on and not enough time to watch them (especially as I can barely make it past ten pm these days…)  We have 24, Brothers and Sisters, Grey’s Anatomy, and also new series of Being Human and The Vampire Diaries.

Now I have not watched the first series of Being Human (my husband draws the line with my taste in television shows here), but I have heard good things about it. And my lovely mother has put it on series link – another bonus to be living here!  For those who don’t know anything about the show it is about a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost all sharing a flat together and, well, trying to be human!  Sounds good to me!

I also had another review out on Alone this weekend at http://sweetvernalzephyr.blogspot.com/2010/01/review-alone.html. I was so pleased that she did not see it as a run-of-the-mill vampire romance, though I hope she did not find it too dark.  Something I touched upon in an earlier blog was about genres and how trying to fit a novel into a certain genre can be misleading.  Though I have always thought of Alone as a vampire-romance, it is not fluffy stuff and I think sweet may have been a little shocked at the books content!

M. x

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Buried…

I’m a bit stuck for time at the moment, so I apologise for the brief blogs and I am afraid there may be some gaps in the next few weeks or so as the move back to England progresses.

I am swinging between moments of guilt and sheer panic about the move.  Guilt because of my daughter and taking her away from everything she knows, and panic because there just seems so much to do I cannot yet see how the next few weeks are going to come together.

The one thing that is keeping me sane is my ability to lose myself in my work.  At least I can escape for a few hours each evening in a world that doesn’t involve boxes, removal men, or small children crying wanting to know where all their toys have gone…

So I thought I would leave you with a little teaser of ‘Buried’, the sequel to Alone.’’  I don’t normally let anyone read any of my work until it is completed, but my world is far from normal at the moment, so what the hell!

I hope you enjoy it!

Prologue

It woke to the feeling of drowning; of lungs being so full it was unable to take another breath. It woke to the feeling of claustrophobia, of being compressed on every side. It woke to the feelings of fear and panic.

Though its eyes were wide open it could see nothing. Its natural instinct was to take a breath, to feel its chest rise and fall, but despite its struggle, nothing was happening.

Yet it was still conscious; it was still awake.

Its mind was a blur – a mess of darkness and pain and anger. It had no idea who it was or what had happened. Only negative emotions filled it; fury, fear, and a desire for something so great it could not control it.

Something was very wrong.

It opened its mouth to roar its frustration and fear, only to find its mouth filling with dirt. The grainy taste of earth filled its mouth and it could feel the particles crunching between its teeth, clogging its throat.

Panic took hold and it fought against its confines, its tomb. It clawed and scratched, and pushed and fought until it felt something above give way.

With increased vigour it burst from its earthen tomb. Dirt flew upwards as though there had been an explosion beneath the ground, spattering all around in clods.

It sat up, the last of the earth falling from its body, and it blinked its eyes against the sudden light. For a few moments it just sat there, waiting for the burst of fire in front of its eyeballs to subside, waiting to adjust.

M. x

Monday, 18 January 2010

Another review and all about me!

 

  Fellow Vamplit author James Garcia did a review of Alone this I5C6OCCA0V6SLECANHOJ72CA649ILSCAV24D12CAV1WJ9FCAXB4JN5CAHPHM0PCANGEENCCALKR3KUCAU0KV9XCAXQD71SCARFZ548CAZWQ50NCA5OZRKHCA2EZSUQCADPVZPHCA0H0OYHCA358ZQ3CAWJCFLFweekend and I am very happy to say that he liked it – hurrah!

Here is a bit of what he said:

‘If you're interested in a not-so strong female lead character who, over the course of gut-wrenching and terrifying circumstances, finds inner as well as outer strength, this is it. It has action, it has vampires and it has romance.’

James has his first novel ‘Dance on Fire’, out very soon and it sounds great. You can check out his official authors page on Facebook for a teaser and I will be posting a bit more info about it very soon.

http://www.facebook.com/#/pages/The-Official-James-Garcia-Jr-Authors-Page/203211881591?ref=nf

In the meantime things here are kind of hectic. I have boxes everywhere and I don’t really know where to start.  With only four days until our removal van shows up I know I have to start packing very soon and stop procrastinating!

Rather than packing I thought I would do a quick bit so everyone could get to know me a bit better, so here are five things you probably didn’t know about me -

1.) Other than being a writer, I wanted to be a vet, and even worked in a veterinary clinic until I was twenty.

2.) I have a total phobia of daddy-long-legs (crane-flies for you non-Brits).

3.) I lived in Sydney for nearly a year.

4.) I love Siamese cats.

5.) I have four tattoos (though I will keep what and where they are a secret!).

And on that note that is enough about me…

….So what do you think about me…? LOL

M.X

Friday, 15 January 2010

Genres...Would a book by any other name...?

Earlier this week the ladies over at Vampchix did a very interesting blog about the vampire-romance genre. They wanted to (and successfully did) start a discussion about what fitted into the genre 'vampire-romance' and what was just 'urban-fantasy'.

This blog got me thinking for two reasons; Firstly, until I had actually written and had my novel Alone published, I didn't even know there was a genre called vampire-romance, and secondly - what the hell is 'urban fantasy'?

Apparently a vampire-romance cannot be called a vampire-romance unless it has a happy-ever-after ending. Now this throws me into all sorts of quandaries. Can you not have a romance unless the two lead characters walk off hand-in-hand into the sunset together? Is this ultimately the deciding factor of what makes up a romance?

All of the novels I have written (with the exception of one) has some romance in them, though I would certainly never describe them as being romances (and I think if anyone picked them up thinking this was what they were they would get a shock!). I like a novel to have a bit of everything.  Our personal relationships are the thing that makes us human, and for the most part are the most important things in our lives - I find it difficult to see how someone could write a story without involving some personal relationships.

Why does everything have to be lumped into a category anyway? Can't a story just be a story without it having to be given such a specific genre? Also, if a book is labelled incorrectly it can either put off a huge audience or else people who have picked it up thinking it is one thing will be disappointed that it wasn't the genre they thought it was.

Surely it wasn’t so long ago that the only genres we had were romance, horror, sci-fi, mystery, and western (apologies if I have missed out your favourite.)  People were just happy to dive into a story without having to know every detail of what they were getting before they started reading it.

Personally I'm in favour of scrapping the whole relying on the genre thing and actually picking up a book and reading the blurb. Surely that would give everyone involved a better idea of what the story is about and if it is for them?

As it is I am still left wondering what genre my novel is supposed to fit in... maybe I should just make up one of my own...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

An Ode to Kiefer..and the movie: Mirrors

 images2Oh Kiefer...How do I love thee...let me count the ways...

I think I have blogged before about my love of Kiefer Sutherland; from my first view of him in The Lost Boys (though I re-watched Lost Boys for the millionth time the other day and saw how bad his 'vampire' feet were which did put me off - I hate feet!), to Flatliners, to his current role as Jack Bauer in 24.

If anyone hasn't seen Flatliners it really is a great watch. There are some seriously creepy moments in it involving a dog (what is it with animals and children in scary movies - they just totally freak me out?)and has some great actors in it, including Julia Roberts. It is also an original storyline where a group of young doctors flat-line themselves in order to find out what death is like and bring back 'something' with them. Brilliant.

As for 24, well I have now officially lost seven whole days of my life images1 watching Jack (not that I mind, of course) and we were even considering Jack as a name for our baby - should it have been a boy. Of course my husband thought we would have been naming him Jack after his grandfather, but I’ll just let him think that…

Anyway, back to the movie, Mirrors.  In this movie Kiefer plays Ben, a burnt out cop-turned security guard who is put in charge of a huge burnt out department store.  Soon after starting the job (working night-shift only of course) he quickly starts seeing things in the mirrors.  With the statues and mannequins, and obligatory sudden pigeon fluttering out of the darkness, there is plenty of atmosphere and there are lots of jumpy moments in the movie. However, it is when the thing in the mirrors gets out of the department store and starts hunting down his family that the movie really gets scary.

There are some particularly gruesome moments in the movie and some really creepy moments as well, which I loved.  There is also a great twist at the end which really leaves you thinking.

This movie is much better than I thought it would be and I certainly won’t be spending too much time looking in the bathroom mirror tonight.

I just hope Kiefer hasn’t been too type-cast in his latest roles, as it is really difficult to believe in him as anyone other than Jack Bauer.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Alone's first review

Alone-2-copy-100x150 Just a quickie today to let everyone know that Alone has had its first review over at http://taliesinttlg.blogspot.com/2010/01/alone-review.html

Here is a quick preview of what Taliesin has said about Alone, but check out the site for the full review:

'Alone has a brutal edge, but not in the way one would expect. What Marissa Farrar does is to draw the brutality of domestic abuse around us – a violence, brutality and evil more pernicious, for being real, than any fictional vampires.' 'Serenity' 'lives with domestic abuse, and her plight, her loneliness maybe, draws Sebastian – a vampire. He cannot really help her, however, the book is about her own empowerment about her finding her own strengths.'

Taliesin then says ...'I started the book with an expectation of struggling, not because of any perception of the author’s skill and Marissa Farrar does prove herself as a solid prose writer, but because of the sub-genre I understood the book to be part of. I found myself enjoying the book and discovered a hard edge within the novel that I never expected.'

One thing Taliesin mentioned was an idea I came up with linking in Vampires and Werewolves and he said that he wished it could be explored further. This was a great comment 'cause it really got the brain cogs going. Alone's sequel 'Buried' is already well on its way, but maybe this route could make a promising third novel...Hmmm...We will have to see.

Overall, I am really happy with the review, but I wonder if the score is supposed to just be the starting point for negotiations...

Friday, 8 January 2010

The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Living in a Foreign Country...



I have been living in Spain for about eighteen months now and sadly the time has come for us to say goodbye... well, I say 'sadly', but to be honest the move back to the UK brings with it mixed feelings.


When we moved out here it was with the dream many Brits have - year round sunshine, a slower pace of life, more family time - but things just haven't worked out that way. We thought we were moving out more prepared than most; my parents have lived out here for several years now and we have been out on holiday so many times that we knew the area and knew other ex-pats to help get us started on our new life.



Unfortunately, being on holiday in a place and actually living here are two very different things. The 'slow pace of life' we had looked forward to quickly became frustrating (it literally takes forever to get anything done here and there are so many bank holidays it's a wonder anyone actually does any work!). We have also really missed being able to communicate with people. While my Spanish has come on leaps and bounds since we got here - frankly it is embarrassing to think how little I knew when we first moved - I still can't have a 'normal' conversation. Being able to gossip with other mums while picking your child up from nursery is one of the pleasures of motherhood, but when you can only comment on the weather and then you don't understand what the hell they've said back to you, it can make gossipping slightly difficult.



Of course here have been other things I have missed - shopping, English supermarkets, books and movies, bars and clubs - just things that make up a normal life. Even so, there are things I am going to miss dearly when we go back and the main thing is my parents. They have been with us every step of the way (probably a bit too closely for my husbands liking!) and it has been wonderful watching them get to know their granddaughter and I am very sad that we won't be around for baby number two. I will also miss Bella's nursery, who have been wonderful, and hearing my daughter come out with Spanish phrases that I then have to look up in the dictionary.



Still, we must look forward and I am excited about starting again, especially being so close to London again, where we spent several crazy years in our twenties, and being near our best friends and their baby-boy.



Advice I can give to people thinking about escape the terrible British weather... do it! Despite everything I am glad we had the balls to give it a go and we didn't just sit around bitching about how life could be so much better. We actually tried to do something about it. Okay, so it didn't work out, but we are returning to the UK with a different perspective on our lives there and what we actually need to make us happy.



Mx

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Stephen King: On Writing – a review

Now I know this book has been out for a while now, but I wanted to give a quick review about it mainly because it ties together two great loves – writing and Stephen King!

hardcover_prop_embed I have been a huge fan of Stephen King’s for a long time now, and though I know he has his critics he is also the King of Horror, and one of the biggest bestsellers of all time, so he must be doing something right.   As soon as this book came out back in 2000 I snapped it up and I think it took me about two days to read.  I have re-read it numerous times since and often pick it up just to remind myself of parts.

What I really loved about this book is that you got to learn so much about the man himself and it isn’t all just about him telling you how to write (though he does do that as well of course).  He talks about his childhood, meeting his wife and having his family, and getting published.  One of my favourite parts of the book is when he describes how he and his wife were living in a crappy four room apartment and were seriously broke with a young family and he gets the call to say he has sold the paperback rights to Carrie for four hundred thousand dollars.  When his wife came home and he told her the news, she started to cry.

That always chokes me up and gives me the motivation to keep going.  Even Stephen King was broke once upon a time!

In the book he also talks frankly about his alcohol and cocaine addiction.  He says he cannot even remember writing some of his books he was so high (sadly they were some of his best). It was also something he very nearly lost his family over.

The ‘On Writing’ part of the book also has some helpful hints.

Two of the best pieces of advice I came across were to commit yourself to 1000 words a day, and to ‘omit needless words’.  The thousand words a day I generally manage (even if it isn’t all on the current piece of work); omitting needless words is something I am still striving towards.

The one part that did have me gulping and thinking ‘yikes’ is where he suggests that a ‘goodish length of a book’ is 180,000 words!  Now most of my stuff ends up around the 90 – 100,000 word mark (though Alone was only just over 80,000, by far my shortest novel).  I know when Twilight first came out everyone was amazed it had been published as a first novel as it is 120,000 words.  The general consensus seems to be that if a first novel is too long then a publisher won’t touch it; too much risk for the publisher as far as the cost to get it out goes.

Overall though, this book is great.  Its a good read; not just a ‘how-to’ manual. People who hate Stephen King would probably want to avoid it, as it has a lot of him in it, but if you are an aspiring writer, or you just want to know a bit more about his life, I would definitely recommend it.

Mx

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Horror movies for 2010

2009 was a pretty good year for the horror/paranormal genre – what with the Twilight saga going from strength to strength, creating a resurgence in the popularity of vampires that we haven’t seen since Lost Boys/Interview with the Vampire days.  The year ended with the movie Paranormal Activity which was quoted as being ‘the scariest horror movie ever’ (which I still haven’t seen – gutted!).

HopefullyMV5BMTU4MTM1NjcyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTM5MjgwMw@@__V1__CR0,0,333,333_SS100_ 2010 is going to be another good one for horror, etc.  We are  starting the year with a movie called Daybreakers, which is out this month.  It is a vampire movie set in the future where most of the population are vampires and humans are the minority.  It has a good cast; Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe, Ethan Hawke, among them.

In February we see the release of Shutter Island which has the great combination of Leonardo DeCaprio and Martin Scorsese. It is the story of two US Marshall who go to a remote island to investigate the disappearance of an inmate from the islands

hospital for the criminally insane.  All sounds good to me; I will definitely be looking forward to this movie.

Also this month is The Wolfman.  It has another great cast of Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.  It looks like the effects are amazing – def one to see!

Nightmare on Elm Street is due to be released in April, and all I can say about this one is if something’s not broke, don’t fix it.  I really can’t see how they can improve on the original!

12210 In June we have Eclipse, the third of the Twilight movies.  Now I know this will be eagerly awaited by millions of people, but it just doesn’t do it for me.  While I read Twilight and enjoyed the novel, the movie had me yawning and reaching for my laptop.  Still, I will probably end up seeing, even if it is just to confirm my suspicions that it will be as dull as the first…

 

In August we have another vampire movie, Priest.  It doesn’t sound like a particularly original storyline – essentially a group of priests track down a group of renegade vampires – but it does have Getimthumbrard Butler and Paul Bettany in it, so it may be worth a look.

The end of the year brings us a ‘Single-White Female’, type movie with The Roommate. I’ve read mixed reviews, essentially all people seem to be noticing is how hot the girls are in it, but hopefully it will be the ‘psychological thriller’ it promises and not just girls running around screaming in their underwear!

I’m looking forward to being able to head to the cinema when we get back to the UK, especially as I can now insist that leaving my hubby holding the babies while I head off to watch movies is really me ‘working’! (Anyone else think I may struggle to get away with that one..?) Anyhow, I will be sure to give my honest opinion on these movies and I can’t wait to watch some proper ‘hide beneath your seat’ horror!

Friday, 1 January 2010

2010...


Happy New Year everyone! My God, I can't believe it is 2010. It feels like only a few years ago I was in Edinburgh celebrating the year 2000. The years just go by so fast these days.


This past year has been a bit of a strange one for me. Being in Spain we've had our ups and downs, but I do believe in not looking back and that everything happens for a reason. After all, if we hadn't moved out here then Alone would never have been written and I would never have met all the lovely people at Vamplit.


Goals for this year are all based around writing (no surprise there then!). I hope to have another two novels published this year - The Dark Road, which should be out May 1st, and then hopefully Buried will be out a little while after. Career-wise things have certainly moved on in the last year and hopefully this is just the start of bigger things to come. I also hope to start on a new novel which has been forming in my head for the past few months, though that won't be until Buried is done and dusted.



I've also got big plans for my blog. If we end up back in the UK then I will have access to English books and movies (Thank God! I have missed you old friends...) and so plan to start doing reviews, competitions, etc. There is also another blogging project in the pipeline...


Phew! When its all written down it does seem a little ambitious. Of course, I also have to fit having another baby in there somewhere as well.


All in all I think 2010 will be a good one - if nothing else it just has a good ring to it! I imagine years ago sci-fi writers used this year to imagine we were all living on some foreign planet, or the end of the world had happened. Obviously neither are true, but even so I have a feeling it will be an eventful year.


Mx