A Year in the Life of an Author

I started my first novel in November of 2008.  As most of you know by now, I’d always been a writer.  I still have friends tell me they used my stories to turn in for grades in school.  That thought scares me, because most of what I wrote back then was a little frightening!!

In April of 2011, I was going through a bit depression.  I can remember the day that I got my first contract from Astraea Press vividly.  I’d been at home suffering from a migraine and feeling sorry for myself.  When I opened the email and saw the contract attached tears of joy rolled down my cheeks.  Someone out there wanted to hear my stories!

The Keepers was published in June of 2011.  I can’t even begin to tell you what it feels like to see your work on Amazon or to hold your novel in your hand for the first time.  For me, the biggest thrill was putting that book in my Dad’s hands and saying here, this if for you and me and all we have been through together.  Also, this was a very personal book for me.  One about a main character whose mother had died of breast cancer and the damaged angel that came along to save her.  This tale was so close to home that I was extremely nervous about sharing it, but tickled that I had the chance.

Everything wasn’t perfect.  No, my first novel was quite the roller coaster ride.  Somehow, the edition that was originally uploaded was not the one that the publishing company and I had spent hours pouring over during edits.  I got a lot of great reviews, but then the die-hard readers started to mention editing errors and after much thought and support from Astraea, I pulled the book and it went back to editing.  We literally had to start over!!!

During this time, Astraea put out a call for short stories which would be published with all monies going to the Japanese Tsunami Relief.  This is when the Mulligan Man was born.  I’d had a dream one night that I was standing in my front yard screaming, “I want a Mulligan!”.  My son, Colton, and I jotted down ideas and characters and this fun YA Folk tale came to life.  It is different from anything I’ve ever written, but one of my pride and joys because my son played an integral part of developing it.

The contract for Jamais Vu with Astraea soon followed and it was published in October 2011.  Whirlwind right?  Yes!  And so much fun.  I can’t talk about Jamais Vu without either crying or beaming.  As though the cosmos was trying to make up for all that had gone wrong with The Keepers, everything with Jamais Vu was easy.  There are over 25 5 star reviews on Amazon for this book and several four star reviews.  Knock on wood, not one person has ever slammed it!

This book also had deeply personal meaning to me.  My mother was playing with a gun she thought was unloaded when I was a toddler.  She was shot and spent years recovering.  My main character, Darby, also suffers this fate in Jamais Vu.  I wanted to pay tribute to my mom’s story but give it a huge paranormal twist and I think this book did the job.

In February 2012, the follow-up to Jamais Vu, Deja Vu was also published by Astraea Press.  Blessings! Blessings! Blessings!  By this point not only did I have four book in the marketplace, but I also had developed wonderful friendships with readers, bloggers, reviewers, cover artists, editors and publishers.

It is such a rush.  There are people out there who want to read my books!  Before I ever considered getting published, the one thing I said was, “If I could just have a few fans who enjoy my work, I’ll be happy.”  I’ve far exceeded that goal, and to each and ever one of you, I am eternally grateful and humbled by your love and support.

So that brings us to the middle of 2012, back to the time where I started last year.  On July 9th, Becoming Jolie, my first Adult Paranormal novel will be published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing.  Also in July, The Watchers, the sequel to The Keepers will be published by Astraea!

So what else is coming?  I’ve written the first novel in a new series called Magia Rising.  I’m considering self-publishing that one in October.  Next year, I know for sure this book will have a follow-up as will the Jamais Vu series.  I’m also hoping to self publish a novel that I’m currently offering chapters of on my blog, The Awakening.

I’ve had some hard moments in the last year. Sometimes, I’ve been frustrated and overwhelmed, but mostly I’ve been filled with joy and love.  There is nothing like meeting one of your biggest fans for the first time, getting emails from people dying to read your next work, hearing from young authors who just want someone to talk shop.

I hope that I can continue to offer you all stories that capture your hearts and imaginations! Today, I just want to say thanks!  Every time you mention my book to a friend, share my Facebook posts or Tweets you are pumping new life into my crazy brain.

As long as you will all have me, I’ll be around!

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

Website:             www.moniqueoconnorjames.com
Facebook:          https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511255176
Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/moniqueoconnorjamesauthor
Twitter:  mjames13

Author of The Keepers – http://www.amazon.com/The-Keepers-ebook/dp/B0054LO9E8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1331129226&sr=8-6

Jamais Vu – http://www.amazon.com/Jamais-Vu-ebook/dp/B005SG02FE/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Deja Vu – http://www.amazon.com/Deja-Vu-ebook/dp/B006X3133G/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

The Mulligan Man – http://www.amazon.com/The-Mulligan-Man-ebook/dp/B005ES06M0/ref=pd_sim_kstore_3?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Coming July 2012 – Becoming Jolie from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing & The Watchers from Astraea Press!!!!

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Free Read! The Awakening – Chapters 3 & 4

I promised you chapters 3 & 4 today, so here you go!  Hope you enjoy!

Chapters 3 & 4

 

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu & The Mulligan Man from Astraea Press

Coming May 2012 – Becoming Jolie from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Free Read! The Awakening Chapters 1 And 2

Okay so honestly my hope for my blog is to give something to my readers.  I want there to be a reason that you stop by to hear me talk about my crazy cat or the kids or some ghost story I want you to hear.

I wanted to create a gift for the people who read my stories and love them. So here’s the dealio – I have several works in progress!  I need to work on all of them eventually and this is a great way to get going on this one while I work on some of my other ones, so I’m trying something new!

One of the manuscripts that is sitting on my laptop waiting to be worked over is  a stand-alone, paranormal fiction novel called The Awakening.  I’d like to post FREE chapters once a week and let you follow along as I do the first of many edits on it!

Here are my requests (You knew there was catch right?)

1.  Don’t be too critical it has not been truly edited.

2.  Don’t hate me if I change the name and feel free to make suggestions as we get further into the story.

3.  Share my blog with your friends so they can read along and comment too!

4.  Follow me so you know when I post new chapters!

That’s it!   That’s all I’m asking!  At the end of this little experiment, I will edit the heck out of it and publish it on Amazon and Create Space.  In between chapter posts I plan to entertain you with my nonsense!

Hear are Chapters 1 & 2:  Chapters 1 and 2

I really hope you enjoy!

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu, The Mulligan Man published by Astraea Press

Coming May 2012 – Becoming Jolie – from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Writers Corner – Book Reviewers

If you’re like me you are always hunting for book reviewers that will respond and that post honest and fair reviews.  Well here is my latest list!  Enjoy and I hope it helps.

1.  Ressa – www.ressaempbra.wordpress.com

2.  Thamy – www.franticreader.weebly.com

3.  Kristina – http://kristinasbooksandmore.blogspot.com

4. Mandy – http://twimom101bookblog.blogspot.com

5. Katrina – http://www.pageflipperz.blogspot.com

6.  Leanne – www.booksnmakeup.com

7. Tanya – http://speedyreader-allthingsbooks.blogspot.com

8. Dawn – http://dawn_hagen.blogspot.com

9. Jenn – www.romancing_the_book.com

10. Stacey – http://staceyeatonauthor.blogspot.com

11. Stacey – http://sassybooklovers.blogspot.com

12. Realteen Reviews – http://realteenreviews.blogspot.com

13. The Book Boost – http://thebookboost.blogspot.com

14. Sue – www.thewmreviewconnection.com

15. Cheryl – http://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com

16. Renee – www.deepintheheartorromance.com

17.  http://clusallnightpreview.blogspot.com

18. Kim – www.living-fictiously.blogspot.com

19. Tazzie – http://tazziebookreviews.blogspot.com

20.  Lindsey – http://unitedbybooks.blogspot.com

21. Yoly – http://moonlightbeautybooks.blogspot.com

22. Shelly – www.shellygoodmanwright.com

23.  Wendy – http://.www.lovetiggibookreviews.wordpress.com

24. Susie – http://satinsbookishcorner.blogspot.com

25. Belinda – http://thebookishsnob.blogspot.com

26. Mindy – http://forbiddenreviews.com

27. Andrea – http://thesecretsanctuarybooks.blogspot.com

28. Brea – breaessex.wordpress.com

29. Cheeky Reads – http://cheekyreads.blogspot.com

30. Sheila – http://sheiladeeth.blogspot.com

31. Kristine – www.spartanheartbyauthorkristinecheney.blogspot.com

32. Kyan – http://blog.liloqui.com

33. Devyn – http://devyn-dawson.blogspot.com

34. V Saewood Tice – http://saewood.webs.com/apps/blog

35. Mindy – www.bookscompleteme.com

36. Alaiel – http://www.libraianmouse.com

37. Amber/Sapphyria – http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com

38. Mera – http://merasyabooklist.blogspot.com

39. Chynna – http://www.the-gift-blog.com

40. Kati- http://klearsreviews.blogspot.com

41.  Laurie – http://www.bona-fide-reflections.com/

42.  http://scribblesonthebackofjanuary.wordpress.com

43.  http://cleanromancereviews.blogspot.com

44. http://reviewsrmine.wordpress.com

45. www.greatmindsthinkaloud.proboards.com

46. www.whispersfromabook.blogspot.com

47. www.novelreaction.com

48. www.affairedecoure.com

49. www.bookwormnation.blogspot.com

50. www.coffeetimeromance.com

51. www.fallenangelreviews.com

52. http://journeywithbooks.blogspot.com

53. www.romancing-the-book.com

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu & The Mulligan Man published by Astraea Press.com

Coming Summer 2012 – Becoming Jolie from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Writers Corner – What Do You Mean I Have to Blog?

So, the publicist and marketing personnel at your publisher have suggested, or insisted that you start a blog.  Not just start one, but create interesting and informative posts on a regular basis, and do it with a smile! After you finish screaming and you have pulled out the last clump of your hair, take a deep breath.  Everything is going to be okay.  I promise.

There are a gazillion blogs on the internet, and every topic known to man has been covered over and over again.  This begs the questions, does anyone really care what I have to say? What am I going to blog about?

The short answer is, Yes! Your readers are interested in what goes on in your life and how your crazy mind works.  And as for what you going to blog about – well there are some easy ways to generate ideas, so again, breathe.

1.  Create Tags.  The most helpful advise I’ve gotten about blogging ideas was this:  Make a list of fifty to a hundred tags related to your books.  Yes, you can do it! It’s not as hard as it sounds.  Make sure you consider every character and subplot in your book when you compile the list.  Once you are finished, you will have a plethora of words that can help spark ideas for blog topics.  Try it!  It works!

2.  Read lots of blogs posted by your fellow authors Sometimes in their blogs they will pose a question or make a statement that you don’t agree with.  Use this opportunity to respond with your own thoughts.  Make sure you link to the original post, especially if you use direct quotes from it.

3. People love lists.  Lists are easy to scan and provide a wealth of information in a short amount of time.  List the best comments you’ve received, your favorite Facebook statuses, the best books you’ve read, the options are endless.

4.  Give away your secrets.  People appreciate help and like to know that there are others in the same boat.  List your resources and provide links when you share information so they can access the sites easily.  Include blogs and web pages that you can’t live without, and then sit back and wait for the kudos to fill up your comment box. 

5.  Share other author’s reviews, excerpts, interviews, etc.  If you’re tired of seeing these types of posts, create a list of ten of the most intriguing book trailers, or your favorite back cover blurbs.

There are many ways to grab your audience’s attention.  Don’t sweat it! If I can do it, I know you can!  Now that you have a few ideas get to work and have fun!

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu, The Mulligan Man published by Astraea Press

Coming Summer 2012 – Becoming Jolie published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Ghost Stories Part II – LaLaurie House – Royal Street New Orleans

The Lalaurie House is located in the French Quarter on Royal Street.  This story is pretty gruesome and not for the faint of heart, for sure!

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Delphine LaLaurie and her husband took up residence in the house in the 1830″s.  As soon as they moved into the house, they became darlings of the New Orleans social scene for whom they hosted lavish events at the home.  The lady of the house, Madame LaLaurie, was described as sweet, gracious and easy to get along with, and her husband was a highly respected business man.

Even though Delphine was well liked, when the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, started doing her hair, they became fast friends.  It is believed that Marie was instructing Madame on the ways of Voodoo during their time together. 

Delphine LaLaurie kept a sizable group of slaves to help her run the house.  At first, nothing seemed awry, but then gossip began to spread about the Madame’s abuse of her indentured servants.  The people of society ignored these claims, until they saw Delphine chasing a young slave girl through the house, a chase which culminated with the girls death on the cobblestone three stories below.

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The death was deemed by law enforcement to be an accident, but the incident set off a chain of events that later exposed the woman’s dark side.  An old slave woman angered over the death of the young girl set fire to the house.  It is said that when firemen came to put the blaze out, the old maid ran out to them begging them to “set the poor souls in the attic free”. 

That day upon inspection of the attic a horrific scene was found.  Dead and half-dead slaves, men, women and children were chain to the walls having suffered various forms of torture.  Some of the slaves were forced to stand for days or weeks with their heads and arms in the stocks.  Their eyes were gouged out, tongues removed, mouth and eyes sewn shut, and ears and noses cut off. Soon after the fire a violent mob grew calling for Madame LaLaurie’s blood, but she escaped from the city in a horse-drawn carriage before they could find her.  The home was renovated many times over, but no one ever thrived there for any length of time.  In the Twentieth century, it was converted to apartments, but not long ago it was under renovations again. 

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There are documented incidents of people both seeing and hearing the ghosts of the tormented slaves.  People also see the servants who were still working on the day of the house fire, and they go on about their daily chores as though they are still alive.  Running along the corridors, slamming doors and shouts are heard often, throughout the house. 

As people pass down Royal Street they have seen the ghostly spirits peering from the attic windows and heard their tortures moans.  Next time you are in the French Quarter on Royal Street, check out the old house and let us know what you see.

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu, and The Mulligan Man published by Astraea Press.

Coming 2012 – Becoming Jolie – from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing.

 

 

 

Demons and Fiction

In The Keepers, the villain is a fallen angel turned demon. He actually had human qualities and although he was evil, there was something about him that made readers pity him. Despite the fact the he was clearly on the wrong side, he wasn’t hard to look at and for a moment Jess was pulled in by his appearance and charm. In a lot of movies, the demons are monstrous creatures with no human qualities what so ever.  Even the demons I later wrote about in Jamais Vu, were horrible creatures made up of  decomposing mounds of flesh and bone.

So what exactly are they, and why do we find them so intriguing?

Demons have been defined as everything from fallen angels to evil spirits capable of possessing their human counterparts.  We even use the word to describe those with a great passion for something, such as speed demons.  Some people even believe that demons are just the manifestation of the evil nature that bubbles just beneath the surface of every human and that, that is why we find them so fascinating.

The original greek word “Daimon” didn’t even carry a negative connotation.  It simply meant a spiritual being.  It wasn’t until the Hebrew Bible that the word became something more malevolent.

Throughout history there have been many definitions of the word demon.  Here is a peek:

1.  Mesopotamia – There were 7 evil entities knows as storm demons.  They appeared as winged bulls and were considered to be God’s divine wrath.

2.  Ancient Arabs – The jinn were lower divinities with human attributes.  They liked humans and were peaceable by nature.

3.  Judaism – Demons were believed to do the bidding of the Angel of Death.

4.  Christianity – Christians have had a wide variety of definitions for the word demon.  They can be spirits that inhabit a person or place, fallen angels, unclean spirits or the followers of Satan.

5.  Isalm – Jinn coexist with humans and are not evil.

Demons can be painted in many ways and have throughout the ages, but one thing is for sure.  They always make great fictional fodder.

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, The Mulligan Man, Deja Vu published by Astraea Press

Coming Summer 2012 – Becoming Jolie published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

A Day In the Life…Pass it on.

I stole this idea from the blog of Kimberly Kinrade.  I enjoyed hers so much I thought yeah, we should all do that!  The question that I get asked most as a writer is…”How do you have time?”.  If you read Kim’s blog you will see she doe  A LOT.  I don’t have nearly the projects she has going, but I do work full-time! 

The whole point behind this is that if you WANT to do something you can find time to do it.  I think that 99% of moms are  super moms.  You may not be writing books, but how many things did you volunteer to do at the school this year?  How many friend’s weddings/birthdays/christenings/retirement parties, did you help plan? 

So here it is, a day in my life!  I’d love to read yours:

6:00 AM – alarm goes off – Keith is long gone by now so I roll out of bed and stumbled towards the kids room where I flip on the light and rip the covers off of them.  Baby girl will inevitable swear she didn’t sleep and a twenty-minute argument ensues.  If I give up and leave the room they will get dressed, so I do.  Back to my bathroom to dress, then feed the animals, pick up all the trash the kids left all over the house and scoot them out the door.

7:00 AM –  Kids have been dropped off and I start my hour commute to work.  This is usually when I catch up with my best friend or call my Dad.  Sometimes I have literal conversations with said BFF and others we are talking about characters in my latest work in progress.

8:00 – AM  Sign in at JOB – I go through all my outstanding work, check renewal dates, scream, cuss and cry.  This goes on until Noon when I finally get from behind my desk.  (Now we all know that in here somewhere you get a call from the bill collector, the kid at school that forgot their project, and your husband who wants you to keep a mental list of things to pick up at the store – go Blackberry!)

Noon:  Grab a bite to eat and walk around with a notebook jotting down ideas for blogs, my WIP, or books that I’m helping my friends critique.  Sometimes I get to sit down and write and at this point I do it long-hand, in a notebook, as people walk by and say,  “What ya doin?”

1-4:30 – More Insurance work.  Every now and then I get to slip in a blog or read a chapter for a friend and do a quick critique.  In the mean time, I’m jumping on and off Facebook because you have to keep up with the readers, bloggers, reviewers, and fans.  I try to share something, say hello, and make sure my reviews/blogs/etc, posted.  Facebook will suck you in and so will Twitter!

5:00 PM Home – Hour and half commute home if there is no wreck on the Interstate! Thank you Lord, Keith cooks!  Homework check and a quick episode of Wizards of Waverly Place, unless of course Keith gets the remote then we are watching Two and Half Men reruns. 

6:00 PM – The kids have generally lost interest in me by now and are on computers and cell phones.  I get to write for about an hour!

7:00 PM – Facebook sucks me in for 30 minutes until I peel myself away and go make sure everyone is bathed and hang out with Keith for a bit.

8:00  PM  Write blogs for the following week, send review request off to bloggers, try to check my publisher’s websites and do some critiquing.

9:00 PM Must hang out with Keith.  Kids are usually in bed (ours or theirs).  We watch some show about hillbillies with no teeth that make moonshine in the mountains.  Keith is snoring by 9:45.

10:00 PM – Until  – I get to write again!  I usually write between 10 PM and whenever.  I try to get in bed by midnight, but if I walk in the kitchen and the dishes need to be done or there is a pile of laundry that needs to be folded it may be later.  This is the worse time to get sucked into Facebook so I try to stay away!

Finally! Bath and sleep only to hear the alarm go off again before I’m really sleeping.  As Kim said in her blog, this doesn’t account for sick kids, laundry day, family night, time with friends, and the unexpected things that happen every week. 

The truth is, if I’m not doing something 24/7, I’ll go insane…so I was thinking about going back to school….Hmmm.  🙂

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, The Mulligan Man & Deja Vu – published by Astraea Press

Coming Summer 2012 – Becoming Jolie – published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Paranormal Addiction

What is it that keeps us buying paranormal books and staying up all night as we stand in line for tickets to paranormal movies? Is it because they are created around characters that aren’t quite human?  I’ve thought about the reasons I’m sucked into a well planned and plotted storyline and how these things fuel my addiction to the genre.  Read over them and add your own.  I’d love to hear from you.

1.  The Characters – There is a whole brood of paranormal personalities to fall in love with from Demons, Vampires, and Angels like the ones in The Keepers, to characters who possess some psychic or mystical power like Darby Lambert, in Jamais Vu.

They all give our imaginations room to wander and grow.  If you are like me, you love nothing more than a character who you didn’t expect, one who isn’t average.  Because we are curious about things we don’t quite understand, we are drawn to the stories of these people and creatures and the way they live, love, and overcome obstacles in their lives.

The Settings – Paranormal worlds usually take place in a setting that has a  personality all its own.  The Keepers is set in The French Quarter, in New Orleans, where the architecture and night life seem to jump off the page.  Jamais Vu takes place in St. Francisville, Louisiana, amongst creepy sugar cane fields and aging plantation homes.  Both of these locations reel you in through well described scenery and the effect the places have on the characters. We like locals that provide us with the ability to become a part of them.  As readers we expect to be sucked into our characters worlds and feel exactly what they do.

3.  Plot Twists – The paranormal genre isn’t ruled by the limitations of humans.  We can expect surprising turns allowed by the characters’ supernatural gifts. I think we have become spoiled by this as we expect more than the average boy meets girl story.

What are the aspects of the paranormal genre that keeps you coming back for more?  Do you watch paranormal movies and TV shows?

There are many great indie and small press authors out there waiting to thrill you with their tales.  Who are some of your favorites?

Enjoy your addiction.  I know I do!

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu & The Mulligan Man available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Coming Early 2012:  Deja Vu;  Coming Summer 2012:  Becoming Jolie

The Keepers Blog Tour Final Stop 9/11/11

Final Stop!!! The Keepers Blog Tour 9/1/11-9/11/11 Thanks so much for participating in my first blog tour! Please add my facebook author fan page (listed below) and comment on this blog.  Once you’ve done those two things you will be … Continue reading