Monday, 17 June 2013

Thoughts on the Eve of Release Day!

So technically I should have written this last night but the uploading process to Amazon took less time than expected so hey, here it is! Besides, Yeezus leaked early so I had to keep up with the competition.

In case you couldn’t tell from my constant tweeting, “The Art of Love” is officially a real thing out in the wild on Amazon and Smashwords (I’m working on uploading it to Nook, Kobo and a few other places right now so please be patient). It’s so weird to know that I actually wrote a book that people can buy, read and talk about! A few months ago, if you had told me I would be self-publishing a 75000 word new adult novel I would have had a few questions for you.

One, what the hell is a new adult novel?

Two, I have never written 75000 words in my whole life.

Three, who are you and why do you know so much about my future?

I knew self-publishing would be hard work. All good things are. It takes a village of kind, generous and extremely patient people to put up with me on the best of days, so having the amazing group of bloggers, tweeters and Goodreads users who offered support, advice and a helping blog tour hand have my infinite gratitude. I literally couldn’t have done it without them.

Special thanks must go to my darling Megan, a truly amazing friend. She basically kept me sane and moving forwards throughout this entire process. Most of the good ideas for promo were her ideas. Okay, pretty much all of them were her idea! I owe you a big one, Megan, and I know you won’t let me forget it! I promise you so many cakes!

Thank you to every reviewer who tolerated terribly formatted ARCs (I have no idea what happened there, honestly. Epub ate up all the dashes. I promise that’s fixed in the final book and I even removed the dreaded line about Marina letting out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding in!). Whether you loved the book or wanted it to melt under the fire of your hatred, I’m so happy you took the time to read it. I’ve had 5, 4, 3 and 2 star reviews (not had 1 star yet – part of me is relieved, the other part wants to complete the set!) and I love them all. I promise to never bug or interfere with reviewers for as long as I’m writing.

Thanks to all my inspirations, from Marina Abramovic to Tammara Webber to Gail Simone to RuPaul! I can’t even list all of the people and things that have inspired me from birth. They’re all present in this book somewhere and they’ve shaped me as a person. That’s good, I swear, although I know some who would disagree!

Thanks to everyone who has bought the book already and did so legally. I found out that someone bought the book, put it up on Mobilism, and then got a refund on their purchase. So far, 300 or so people have illegally downloaded my book. Quick work, right? It’s nice to know that you want to read my work, just not enough to pay $3 for it. I honestly thought that was quite reasonable. I’ve sent DMCA notifications to the sites in question to take down my book. To the 300 people who have already illegally downloaded it, I’m sorry that my book and your opinion of authors is worth so little to you.

And to you, the reader who loves the written word, who takes risks on weird little indie authors and books with covers that may or may not show a dead guy’s feet on a bed (a lot of people like the cover for that reason. Note to self: write book with some death in it), and who get so excited by a great new read that they must tell the world. Thank you. Even if you don’t read “The Art of Love”, thank you for just doing what you do.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

"The Art of Love" blog tour!

Judgement day is upon us!

By that I mean release day is upon us. June 18th to be exact. So to celebrate the fact that I actually managed to write a book and survive the self-publishing process with the vestiges of my sanity intact, the blog tour for "The Art of Love" is happening!

My fabulous friend Megan from Book Brats, who has basically held my hand throughout this process and organised almost everything for me, has put together the blog tour and I cannot thank her enough. I've promised her some cakes as payment.

June 10th.        On the Nightstand - Review.

June 11th.  Into The Night - Excerpt, review and give-away.
                 If The Book Fits - Give-away and review.

June 12th.  Bookish Babe - Review and give-away.
                     What Dani Did Next

June 13th.  Bookmarks, Spoilers and Happily Ever After - "The Art of Love" playlist.

June 14th.  Tiger Lily Reviews - Guest post.
                 Nikki Brandyberry
                  My Fiction Nook - Excerpt
                LiteraryEtc - Review.

June 15th.  Stephanie Parents - Review.
                Ginger Read Reviews - Author Top 10.

June 16th.  The Aeropapers - Review/give-away.
                 Literary Meanderings - Interview.
                  Devoured Words - Review.

June 17th.  My Pathway to Books

June 18th - Release Day!

                Book Brats
                   Literati Lit. Lovers - Interview.
                 Book Blogger Paradise - Review/excerpt.
                  SMI Book Club - Review.
                 Tiffany Talks Books - Excerpt.

June 19th.  The Life of Fiction - Review.
                 The Book Barbies

June 20th.  KT Grant
                  Waves of Fiction - Review.

June 21st.  Tar Heel Bibliobabe - Review/interview.

I'll update this post with links to each stop on the blog tour as they happen. I'd like to extend my sincerest and most grateful thanks to every single blogger taking part in this. You've all been so generous and accommodating and I can't thank you enough. Bloggers really are the footsoldiers of the madcap adventure that is indie publishing.

Are you excited? I'm excited!

Monday, 27 May 2013

What is "Normal" Love?

“The Art of Love” is a romance. Well, obviously, with a title like that. Then again, it kind of isn’t at the same time. Sure, it’s got boy meets girl, boy and girl like each other and then some sweet and sexy times, but the course of true love definitely isn’t smooth for Fitz and Marina. That’s the fun part! What they have definitely isn’t a typical romance and it’s not what either of them expected.

While I was going through the ever joyful process of editing the book (imagine me saying that in the most sarcastic way possible), I realized that Marina talks a lot about wanting a “normal” relationship. The only thing is she has no idea what a normal relationship is supposed to be like. Without spoiling the story (I’d like you to read it, after all), Marina’s had a tough life pretty much void of love and affection, not to mention completely lacking her own identity. When she’s suddenly shoved in front of this gorgeous guy who everyone desires and who’s for some reason interested in her, she can’t process it properly. How do you react when you have no idea what you’re doing or who you even are? It doesn’t help that she’s going down this rabbit hole with a guy who’s hiding as many secrets as she is. Relationships are hard enough when you know what you’re doing!

Anyway, I ended up doing romance research while I was writing my book. Well, I say research but it was more like hardcore procrastination with movies, books and some embarrassing music choices. There are as many different kinds of love as there are lovers in the world, and they’re all “normal” and “weird” at the same time. One girl’s perfect romance is another’s must avoid. I must admit that the all-consuming obsessive romances where the couple’s love is the center of their existences are really not my thing. I know a lot of people who adore them, and that’s their choice. I think there are many problematic elements to these sorts of romances but I respect those who have these kinds of stories as their fantasies. Personally, I’m a sucker for the Beatrice & Benedick/Tracey & Hepburn style romances, with snappy retorts and biting wit. Julie James writes great contemporary romances that follow this sort of pattern. I can’t get enough of those (and bring on Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” movie) but I have a friend who finds them all too smug for her liking. We’ve had a lot of fun arguments over this but at the end of the day I’ll probably never change her mind, and that’s fine. I still intend on dragging her to see “Much Ado…”, of course.

The thing about saying that a relationship, or anything in life, is “normal” is that you immediately create a contrast. Anything that isn’t like that “normal” thing is “abnormal” or “weird”. Let’s be honest; love in itself is pretty darn weird. It screws with your mind, makes you giddy and confused and prone to ridiculous fantasies. Sometimes you end up listening to some truly terrible music because it seems like a good idea at the time! Sometimes you change your entire life for love. If that isn’t a bit odd then I don’t know what is. So what kind of love is and isn’t “normal” love?

(Actually, I have an answer for that. Abuse is not love and it’s not normal. If you or someone you know is in an emotionally, sexually and/or physically abusive relationship then you need to take steps to get out of that. There is support for you and there will always be people who truly care for you.)

Whatever love you have in your life, or whatever love you want in your fiction, I hope it brings you joy. In “The Art of Love”, Marina notes that she’ll never fit the definition of “normal” but she’s fine with that. If we all wanted the same things from romance then we’d have an assembly line pumping it out to the masses. That would make things a lot easier, but far less fun! 

It seems only fitting to end this post with some good old Beatrice and Benedick. How excited are you for this movie!?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Reviewers – Why I Won’t Bother You.

First, good news everyone!

I announced it on Twitter already but the cover reveal for “The Art of Love” will be happening on May 3rd so prepare for the excitement! Admit it, you 25 people who have clicked on this blog are dying to see the cover. I have some super fab bloggers helping me out with the reveal so stay tuned for more details! 

Second, I think it’s time for me to talk about reviews.

I’m not a book blogger, although I read a lot of review sites as well as Goodreads reviews. I’m also friends with a few book bloggers so I’ve been made aware of how difficult things have been lately regarding author-reviewer relations. I think it’s safe to say that things haven’t been too good for the past year and a half or so. There have been fights, backstabbing, bitching, a whole lot of overreacting and misunderstanding and even some extremely dangerous threats made by some despicable people I won’t bother to mention. A lot of people have been hurt in the process, and it’s just ridiculous.

So here’s my review policy.

If you want to review my book, you can write whatever the hell you want.

I will not interfere with the reviews or bloggers opinions in any way. Reviews are not for the authors. One of the reasons I really love Goodreads is because it provides a forum for varied opinions by the readers and for the readers. Readers want to know if something’s worth shelling out their hard earned cash for and they need opinions they can trust. Sometimes it’s just fun to read reviews as well. There are some reviews I can read over and over again because they’re beautifully written or just so damn entertaining.

You are not a ‘hater’ if you dislike my book. You’re not even a hater if you despise it with the red hot passion of a thousand suns.

A small side note here but does anyone else think the ‘hater culture’ is really stupid? I swear that slinging around the term ‘hater’ has just become a cheap way to get out of taking legitimate criticism.

Criticism isn’t a bad thing and book reviews aren’t written by people who hate books. Why would anyone bother to put so much time and energy into something they utterly despise? Roger Ebert didn’t hate films. Ben Brantley doesn’t hate theater. Michiko Kakutani doesn’t hate books, although I do think she may be from a different planet sometimes (if you want to review my book in character as the dog from ‘Family Guy’ like she did then I would also welcome that).

The argument over snarky reviews has been a long and varied one that’s caused some controversy. Some see it as unnecessarily mean or not properly reviewing the book. As for me, I’m all for it. Get those gifs out if that’s how you want to review my work! Special points for anyone who uses gifs from ‘Firefly’, ‘Fringe’ and ‘Doctor Who’.

I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong way to review a book, or to review anything. I would prefer it if you didn’t make things personal or directly insulting towards me as a person. Insult me as an author all you want, but please don’t use sexist slurs or crack jokes about things like personal appearance or question my mental state. I’m sure you’re all lovely people and enjoy doing what you do and are smart enough to do it without lowering the tone in such a way.

Okay, I said you could write whatever you want then made requests of things you shouldn’t write, but I do think those were important things to say.

Otherwise, you’re good to go. Don’t let anyone dictate how you should or shouldn’t review something. Reviews are entirely subjective, as are people’s reactions to them. Don’t ever feel afraid to voice your true opinion, even if it goes against the grain. It can be a little daunting sometimes to be the one person in the group who hates something that seems universally loved and vice versa, but your opinion isn’t worth less as a result.

That’s not to say I won’t read the reviews of “The Art of Love” because I probably will. I’m always on the lookout for honest feedback. I just won’t comment on your reviews or try and force my way into your space to ‘correct’ you. The idea of waltzing into a reviewer’s safe space and intimidating them just makes me want to puke. Besides, I’ve seen what happens when authors do that and I have no desire to replicate it (honestly, I don’t blame any of you for adding books or authors to your shit-lists when they do stuff like that because it annoys me too. Who the hell ever thinks it’s a good idea?)

So there’s my policy. Your reviews, your rules. Just please don’t get personal about it. Otherwise, run free and be you.

It only feels appropriate to end things with a gif!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

First Draft finished!

That's right! Tonight I finished the first draft of my book, "The Art of Love".

It is a real thing with a beginning and an end and everything!

Honestly, I'm really proud of myself but I also know that the hard work has only just begun. I've got so much stuff to do before the book can be unleashed on the world.

Speaking of unleashing, I have some other announcements.

First of all, the book has a release date - 18th June 2013!

Second, I will be unveiling the cover sometime in the next week so stay tuned for further details. I'll also be announcing details on a blog tour and how you can get an ARC of the book if you're interested. If you're a blogger with an interest in contemporary romance/drama and New Adult then please get in touch with me here or on Twitter.

And finally, "The Art of Love" has a Goodreads page with a synopsis of "The Art of Love", which I'll post here!

Marina Phillips has spent her entire life as her father’s victim. But enough is enough. All it took was one moment of realization to send her fleeing across the country into the unknown of New York City with no plans and no money. A new life without the constant torture is all she wants, but what she finds waiting is something she never expected.

Fitz is New York’s premiere playboy artist. Sexy, tattooed, and coveted by women and men alike, his performances are heralded as the coming of a new god of modern art. But when Marina wanders into his show, she becomes the inadvertent piece he’s always waited for – a girl to sculpt, to change, and to craft in his own image.

She never expects to fall head over heels into the world of parties, drag queens, agents, and artists craving for her and her benefactor. She didn’t even expect to begin falling in love with someone like Fitz, the sexy, pretentious man of her nightmares.

Above all, Marina never expects her father to stage a cross-country mission to paint her as a kidnapped girl taken by a psychopath.

With her life on the line, Marina has no choice but to accept Fitz’s proposal – change everything she is, inside and out, for the chance to start anew. But Marina has plans of her own. Plans that will rock her world forever.

I hope that grabs your interest!

So now I'm going to take a brief break to celebrate finishing the first draft (which means curling up with my dog to watch Fringe or Firefly) and then I'll dive into editing, redrafting, blogging and all that fun stuff. I seriously can't wait to share "The Art of Love" with you all!

Monday, 1 April 2013

"The Artist is Present" - My Obsessions and Inspirations.

It's hardly the secret of the century that I'm something of an art geek, and when I finally decided to sit down and write my book (coming June 2013 *shameless plug*), I knew I couldn't leave my biggest love out of it. "The Art of Love" is packed full of little references to my favorite artists and pieces, which will hopefully be a fun little game for you to play if you're as nerdy as I am. If I could, I would talk about art all the time. I'm lucky that I can get away with calling it research right now! So to give you a taster of the beautiful and vaguely pretentious things to come with my book, here are a few of my favorite artists, pieces and the things that have truly inspired me.

All pictures and videos belong to their respective owners. I own nothing.

WARNING! This post will be really pretentious. 

Marina Abramovic.

The self-styled grandmother of performance art is present throughout my book in many ways, some obvious and some not so much. Her work is very focused on the body and themes of endurance, and has included such acts as cutting and whipping herself, lying on blocks of ice, lying naked whilst draped in a skeleton, and sitting quietly every day for 3 months at the Museum of Modern Art whilst people were invited to sit opposite her. It all sounds ridiculous, and it kind of is, but very few things in the world have the same level of emotional impact on me as her work does. She can be both epic and deeply personal, and emphasises the divide between acting and performance. Her series of performances with her former partner Ulay are particularly beautiful to me. It's not quite the love story for the ages (he cheated on her) but the work they created together is priceless. If you're interested in her work, check out the documentary "Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present". It's a bit of a hagiography but it works as a great introduction to performance art.

Frida Kahlo.

Art is all about the personal, often inviting the audience to gawk at one's most private moments in an almost voyeuristic manner. Frida Kahlo and her many self-portraits did this in a beautiful manner, combining beauty with the surreal and grotesque while including her uncompromising feminist and social ideals as well as her Mexican heritage. I love how colorful her work is, and I love that she doesn't try to hide her flaws, such as her famous unibrow. I have a soft spot for the work of her husband Diego Rivera as well, but Kahlo's in a league of her own. Check out Julie Taymor's movie "Frida" for a gorgeously shot biopic of her life.

Yayoi Kusama.

You may think that Damien Hirst is the most famous user of polka dots. You'd be wrong. Imagine painting a pattern over a surface and then looking up to see that pattern everywhere - on the walls, on your skin, in the skies, everywhere. That's what happened to the Japanese artist Kusama, who lives voluntarily in a hospital for the mentally ill. Her work, which includes paintings, films, light instillations, and some very disturbing sculptures (click with caution, and yes, that boat is covered in what you think it's covered in). It's all consuming and I love it for that. She's also begun to get the audience involved in her work, something I highly approve of, and have included in my book (although the scene in my book involves more nudity!) Check out this cool video from London's Tate Modern and tell me you wouldn't love to get involved with that! Yoko Ono counts her as an inspiration. Make of that what you will.

Grayson Perry.

Grayson Perry is a Turner Prize winning transvestite potter and maker of tapestries.

Admit it, you love him already!

I love his combination of using very traditional craft styles to tell decidedly modern British stories, although this Yank admits that some of the references fly over her head. Like the other artists on this list, his work can often be very personal but it's also reflective of that odd foreign body known as the British class system, something that fascinates me in a weird way. I really don't think pictures do his work justice (which is a shame for me since I've never actually seen any of his work in person, oh what a tragic life I lead!) because it's so detailed and intricate, but give him a Google and see what you think. He's also very funny.

Rachel Whiteread.

Whiteread is most well known for creating casts of every day objects. That sounds weird, and I know many people, critics and novices alike, who despise her work. The year she won the Turner Prize for a concrete cast of an old Victorian house, she also won a prize for the worst British artist. Hey, great art inspires debate! Her work is very focused on space and the space that everything around us fills.

Cindy Sherman.

One of the biggest themes in "The Art of Love" is transformation, and how much you can change yourself before you become someone completely different. A lot of that was inspired by Cindy Sherman, who is simultaneously a photographer, artist, performer, scholar and feminist critic. Her pictures, where she is almost always the model in various costumes and make-up, focus heavily on the role of women in art and the stereotypes portrayed within. Sex features heavily as well, of course! Sometimes it's hard to believe that this woman is the same as this one. She's such a chameleon and her skills allow her to take on almost any personality she pleases. A picture really can say a thousand words, often far more with Sherman's work.

So that's just a small portion of the hundreds of artists I love. Honestly, I think almost anything can be art, from video games to poetry to furniture. You just have to be willing to look at things a little differently.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Introduction time!

Greetings to you, whoever you may be!

I have finally decided to join the rest of the world on the internet. This could either be the best decision I have ever made or the worst. Only time will tell.

My name is Anne and I'm a writer. My debut novel "The Art of Love" will be released sometime this Summer (stay tuned for a release date!). It's a contemporary romantic drama of the New Adult mould, but with a few twists. Yes, there will be love, passion and emotional turmoil, but there will also be modern art, drag queens, nude performances, a confused young woman trying to escape her past and make it in the big city, dramatic makeovers, family secrets, club kids, tattooed charmers, and the ultimate masterpiece.

Outside of writing, I love science-fiction, my dog, food, fashion, cheesy celebrity gossip, and art (of course! This blog may end up as one big dedication to the artists I practically worship so be warned).

If you're interested in learning more about "The Art of Love" then feel free to get in touch with me over e-mail:

Or on Twitter: @AnneWhitney_

I'm afraid I don't know how to end this post so to compensate, here is the latest addition to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and one big reason you should love performance art as much as I do - Tilda Swinton. In a box.

Picture taken from Celebuzz.