Thursday, September 30, 2010

Farewell to Nova Scotia

The time has finally come to say goodbye to Nova Scotia and wing my way back to London! This time tomorrow, I'll be back in my adopted homeland with memories of an amazing vacation behind me. It's been absolutely fantastic being home again. My stomach's still bulging from all the seafood, my heart's full of time spent with friends, family and assorted moose, and my liver, well... let's just say it needs some recovery time!

So... farewell to Nova Scotia!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Island Capers

It's been years since I've been to Cape Breton Island, just off the coast of mainland Nova Scotia. Voted most scenic island in the world by Conde Nast magazine, I was certainly reminded why!

Stunning vistas, delicious lobsters and mussels, super friendly locals and moose, and some fantastic fiddle music made the whole trip unforgettable.

PS: Thank you for all the comments on my posts while I've been gone! I miss you all!
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Friday, September 24, 2010

What a Character!

I'm still gallivanting around the wilds of Nova Scotia, but I wanted to take part in Elana Johnson's Great Blogging Experiment on Compelling Characters. It'll take me awhile to get around to everyone but I will, I promise!

So. How to create compelling characters? First of all, I can only hope, pray and bribe you with wine to make you think the characters I create are compelling. I've tried loads of different methods: interviewing them, writing their backstories, tracking down photos... but only one thing works for me. I have to write the damn story.

It's only when I start writing that they reveal themselves to me -- some characters even pop up from nowhere! Once I'm finished the first draft, then I can ask myself what these characters want, why they can't get it, and why they're acting the way they do. Armed with that information, I go back and nudge the story so it falls around them.

Happy blog hopping, everyone!

PS - If you're new here, welcome! Feel free to check out my September contest and my Blogsplash! Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Anne Land

Growing up with relatives in Prince Edward Island, I was lucky enough to make frequent visits to the land of my childhood hero, Anne of Green Gables. It's a special place and this visit really brought that home to me.

I'm now in Cape Breton and off to a ceilidh tonight!
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bluenoser's Paradise

Bluenose: A person from Nova Scotia.

I'm writing this from my phone, plus I'm stuffed full of fish and wine, so I'll just leave you with a few photos of the idyllic last few days here.

Off tomorrow to Prince Edward Island!
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Off to Halifax!

Tomorrow, after more than two years away, I'll jet across the ocean and back to where I grew up: just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. A lot has happened in those two years: I've got engaged, got married, got British and got two books published with more on the way!

It's the first time my husband will have been to my homeland without freezing his butt off in the winter deep-freeze, and we're planning to hit Price Edward Island and make a sojourn to Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island. I did my Master's thesis -- a radio doc -- on the evolution of Celtic music there and I can't wait to go back!

I'll try to drop in from time to time, but the truth is that I really just want to relax with friends and family for the next two weeks -- and gear up for all the exciting stuff that's ahead! I'll miss everyone, I know!

I'll be back to blogging regularly on October 1. Until then, I've got my September contest running and my Blogsplash -- thanks to TJ Carson and Sally Clements, who've just signed up!

I'll have some dark rum, sing some songs and breathe some fresh sea air. I'm already practising my favourite sea-song: Barrett's Privateers. I'll be at the Lower Deck this Saturday night if anyone wants to join me!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thank You for the Books!

It's Tuesday and two more days until I take off to the homeland! So -- because my brain has already gone on holiday -- I've decided to skip today's Ten for Tuesday. I'm such a renegade, I know.

Last weekend, the wonderful reviewer Rhiana Reads featured me on her blog, talking about how my sleeplessness made me the reader and writer I am today.

So I ask you: who or what influenced you to read or write the books you do?

Big thanks to everyone who has written about my upcoming Blogsplash and to the most recent Blogsplashers: Jamie Burch, Gemma Noon and Alexandra Redisch!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are

The Tube makes me nervous.

It's not the hurtling-through-rat-infested tracks that causes my anxiety, though: it's sitting straight across from another row of people and trying desperately hard not to look at them. Because on the London Underground, locking eyes is a definite no-no.

Forget people watching. On the Tube, you're lucky if you can engage in a spot of sneaker watching! The best thing to do is to gaze into the darkness outside the window, keeping your face carefully neutral despite whatever carnage might be going on around you.

In my years on the Tube, I've dodged nail clippings, vomit, split ends (a woman beside me was pulling them out of her hair and flinging them into the air around her) and, last Saturday, a man who felt the urgent need to relieve himself on the platform in full view of the hundred or so other people around. Just what I need to see on a Saturday afternoon!

As writers, we're told to keep our eyes and ears open for material. I'd like to introduce a caveat, for the sanity of writers near and far: except on the London Underground!

Big thanks to the most recent Blogsplashers: Christina Lee, Pauline Barclay, Cajun Delights, Elizabeth McKenzie and Kathryn Magendie (sorry, Blogger's not letting me add links for some reason!). Up to 155 now!

And you'll be happy to hear that the author speed-dating event was great fun -- thank you for all the questions! No, I did not ask about knickers. Yes, I managed to control myself!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Speed Dating for Authors

Can you think of anything worse? Although I've never had to do speed-dating of any sort, one of my friends ended up having a very awkward ten minutes with an ex-boyfriend when she came face to face with him during one session. Oh, the torture.

This weekend I'll find out if the author version is just as painful. Thanks to a free ticket from a friend (yay EDN!), I'll be attending the Indie Alliance Weekend at the legendary Foyles in Charing Cross. On Sunday morning, I'll be speed dating Max Schaefer (Children of the Sun), Alex Preston (This Bleeding City), Jean Baggott (Girl on the Wall), and Aifric Campbell (The Semantics of Murder).

Small problem. I don't know anything about any of them! So. I'll do a bit of research this afternoon, but maybe you can help me out. (Please? There's a cupcake in it for you!)

What would you ask an indie author, if you had the chance? Anything in particular you'd like to know? What colour wine they drink? If they wear knickers whilst writing?

Happy Friday!

Thank you to: The Misadventures in Candyland; Lindy Lou Mac; The Goddess of Blah; Jolene and Jackee who have just signed up for my Blogsplash! And big thanks to L Diane, Mel and Cassandra who've given me a shout-out on their blogs today! See the full list of Blogsplashers and sign up here.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Help! My Alter Ego's Taking Over!

Most of you know that Talli Roland isn't my real name. I write travel guides under my real name, Marsha Moore. But even though Talli's not what I grew up with, it's rapidly becoming more familiar than my birth-name. The other day, I even found myself signing a cheque with 'Talli'. Yikes!

Many writers have pen-names -- some even more than one. In this age of author branding, I'd love to hear how they manage to devote time to leveraging all their personalities. Because whenever I try to spend time on Marsha, Talli rears her pretty little head (or so she says...) and demands to be heard on Twitter, too. What one wants, the other wants more of. So I find that Talli -- the more insistent of my dual personas -- usually wins out.

This became quite clear to me when I attended a writing conference last July. Although I had both 'Marsha' and 'Talli' on my name-tag, many of my Twitter friends stuck with Talli. Marsha sulked in the corner, scoffing the food and snaffling down wine, as Talli chatted away.

I'd love to hear how other authors juggle their different pen-names. And if you had to have a pen-name, what would it be?

Thank you to Tamara Hart Heiner; Renae Mercado; Talk Muse Banter; Roxy Haynie; Elena Solodow; Cerebral Lunchbox; Crystal Cook; Rashelle Workman; Melissa Wideen; Christine Fonseca; and Dayana Stockdale for signing up to my Blogsplash!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I. Am. Annoyed.

I'll start with the happy stuff: lots of good things happening around the Blogosphere today! Elana and Jen have great contests to win awesome books; the talented Crystal Cook is doing an art giveaway and Melissa is holding Harry Potter Giveaway!

So. Why am I annoyed, when there's so much coolness going on? Let me begin by professing that I hold The Guardian in high esteem. Even before I moved to London, it seemed the very pinnacle of leftist idealism -- all shiny happy socialism and such.

But it has angered me now in its very attempt to be alternative.

You might have heard of a little thing in the literary world called The Man Booker Prize. The Guardian Books Blog launched its own prize cleverly entitled The Not The Man Booker Prizer, encourging readers to vote for its long-list. I was thrilled to see a few books on the long-list that I'd read and enjoyed and promptly scooted over to vote. Only to be told the next day... sorry! My vote didn't count, because authors on the long-list had used social media to encourage people to vote and it wasn't 'fair'. But hey, don't worry, the editors here have chosen their own short-list as well!


Hello Guardian Books BLOG! Did you think authors wouldn't use social media to get votes? We're encouraged time and again to use our social connections to leverage our books. Why should we then be penalised for doing just that? Democracy, in this day and age, is just as much about motivating people to go out and vote as it is about the vote itself -- look at how Obama got voters out in the last election. Why shouldn't authors employ those same tactics?

OK! Rant over.

What do you think? Are prizes like these ones just becoming popularity contests? Should authors use social media to get votes?

(Thanks to the most recent sign-ups to my Blogsplash: Sarah Wedgbrow; Caroline Smailes; Trashionista; Samantha Verant; Gardner West; and Mina Joshi.)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ten for Tuesday: My Favourite Places

I'm leaving for my pilgrimage back home to Canada in just under ten days, and it's got me thinking about my favourite places.

1. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (pictured). It's where I grew up, with all the emotion that has attached to it. But more than that, it's a friendly, warm place with beautiful scenery and plenty of ocean. And some great dark rum.

2. Kensington Church Walk, London. A small walkway off of High Street Kensington where time seems to have stopped.

3. Rynek, Wroclaw, Poland. Beautifully fronted buildings, a City Hall right out of a fairy tale and lots and lots of cafes to people watch.

4. Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Great independent shops, buzzing restaurants and terraces.

5. Lopud, Croatia. A small island where cars aren't allowed and you have to walk over a hill on a small path through pines to get to the island's beach.

6. Rue Montorgueil, Paris, France. Wandering down this street, you won't know where to stop and eat first! Make sure you go on an empty stomach.

7. Old Town, Valencia, Spain. I couldn't find a link that does this one justice. Wandering around the maze of narrow streets and coming across old churches, fountains and courtyards... magical.

8. Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany. Formerly East Berlin, it's now uber-trendy and full of galleries... and yes, cafés (do you see a trend here?).

9. Eger, Hungary. A small, perfectly formed town about an hour from Budapest, Eger's known for its famous wine and has an area of small wine cellars where you can test the wines for hours on end. What's not to like?

10. Mala Fatra Mountains, Slovakia. A 10-hour hike through waterfalls and gorges convinced me that this mountain range is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. It's serious nature eye-candy.

What are your favourite places?

**Almost up to 130 bloggers now for the my Take On Amazon Blog Splash! THANK YOU!**

Monday, September 06, 2010

Me and My Blankie

First off, massive thanks to everyone who signed up to my Take On Amazon Blogsplash. Over 110 bloggers signed up this weekend alone -- see the list here! I think I've managed to email everyone now. And thank you for not laughing when I told you my dream of making it on to the Kindle Bestseller list. Or my goal of 1000 bloggers! Why not think big, right? :) If enough people hear about what I'm trying to do, it might just happen.

In the past two years of my writing life, a constant companion has been by my side. I wish I could say it was a sprightly pup or a crazy kitten... but no, my constant companion is my blanket. In the summer it acts a pillow to cushion my ever-spreading bottom. In the winter, I wrap it around my legs to ward off drafts from our ancient sash windows.

A Primark special puchased for a fiver (or quite possibly less), it's faded, worn and definitely past its sell-by date. But I can't bear to get rid of it or even contemplate a fluffier version. It's been there through thick and thin and even when it's worn down to a scrap, I shan't forsake it.

What's your security blanket? And Happy Labour Day to my Canadian and American friends!

Friday, September 03, 2010

On December 1, Help Me Take on Amazon!

Happy Friday all and welcome to anyone dropping by from Karen's!

So...I need your help, blogging buddies (and apologies to any new bloggers dropping by here from Karen's party! Feel free to check out my September contest!).

On December 1, The Hating Game will be released as an e-book, ahead of its UK hard-copy launch in early 2011. I can't wait! I'm excited because anyone, anywhere in the world can buy a copy of the e-book version on Amazon. You don't even need to have a Kindle to read it -- you can download the Kindle software to your computer and read it that way. Plus, it will be very reasonably priced (likely well under a fiver in the US and the UK).

Here's where you come in. It's amazing how few copies it takes to rocket your sales rank on Amazon. Wouldn't it be incredible if people bought copies of The Hating Game ebook -- all on Dec 1 --- and brought it up the charts? If for one brief moment in time (or maybe more), The Hating Game was an Amazon Kindle bestseller?

So on December 1, I'm hoping you can all join me in a Blogsplash to help spread the word. If you sign up, all I ask is that on Dec 1 you post a short paragraph about what I'm trying to accomplish and The Hating Game blurb. I'll send you all the content so you just have to cut and paste! I am aiming to have one thousand bloggers take part (I know, I know -- but it might happen! I'm thinking big!) so anything you can do to spread the word would be FANTASTIC. Please leave a comment with your email or just email me at: to take part.

UPDATE: AS OF 13/09, I'M NOW UP TO 155 BLOGGERS! See the full list here.

And... of course if you could purchase a copy of the book on December 1, that would be fab as well. The closer together in time the sales are, the higher the book climbs in the ranking. I understand not everyone may be able to so no worries if not! There will be prizes for those who take part in the Blogsplash, there will be more prizes for those who buy, and there will be even more prizes for anyone who writes a review! I should clarify this is just for the ebook launch; the hard-copy launch will be coming in the New Year (you'll be sick of me, I'm sure).

Thank you all for reading this and for all the wonderful help and support you've given me so far! You rock!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

If I Stay

First of all, what the heck is with the difference in covers between the US and the UK? I really don't get it (I've blogged about this before, but I'm too lazy to track down the link).

Anyway. This is the second book on my Transworld Summer Reading Challenge. Having finished this more than a month ago, I must admit I'm much better at reading than reviewing.

Amazon blurb:

'Just listen,' Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel. I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen. 'Stay,' he says. Everybody has to make choices. Some might break you. For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend decisions might seem tough, but they're all about a future full of music and love, a future that's brimming with hope. But life can change in an instant. A cold February morning ...a snowy road ...and suddenly all of Mia's choices are gone. Except one. As alone as she'll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all. Gripping, heartrending and ultimately life-affirming, "If I Stay" will make you appreciate all that you have, all that you've lost - and all that might be.

I admit to bawling like an idiot when I finished this book. I tore through it one Saturday morning, unable to stop reading. It's a beautifully written book about heartbreak and the pull towards survival, no matter the circumstances. I don't read much YA but I think this is a good read for anyone, really. And I'm finding writing this review very difficult without giving too much away!

Come back tomorrow when I'll be announcing my exciting (for me, anyway) plans for the ebook launch of The Hating Game! Whoop! And thanks to everyone who's 'liked' me on Facebook. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

September Scariness

Can you believe it's September? Can you believe I say that every September? I'm so original, I know. It's just that September reminds me of everything I haven't done; of all those looming deadlines.

There's exciting -- if scary -- stuff around the corner. The Hating Game launch next year is getting ever-closer and we're also planning to release an e-book version in time for Christmas! I have some ideas up my sleeve for that one, but I'll stay mum for now.

And I've surpassed 400 followers! Thank you so much to everyone who reads, comments and supports me. You're all brilliant. To celebrate, I'll be holding a draw at the end of September.

Five people will win their choice of one of the following:

1. A query critique. I'm no professional but I've written loads of blurbs and I can usually create pretty good hooks. Plus, I used to work as an editor at a magazine publisher so I'm pretty good at picking up any errors.

2. An line edit of 30 pages of your manuscript. Pick any 30 pages!

3. A copy of 24 Hours Paris, my Paris tour guide.

4. A copy of 24 Hours London, my London tour guide.

5. Lucky dip! Take your chances with this one!

So there you have it! If your name is drawn, just pick which one you'd like to go with. All you have to do to be in the draw is to be a follower on 30th September. That's it! I'm all for making life easy. Plus, I just want to say thanks!

And in other news, I've now created a Facebook page. Yay!