/> Witchblood: July 2012

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Reviews and Competitons...

For starters I thought I'd announce my Witchcraft Cover competition winner. Aishah Waheed, Rafflecopter picked you as my random winner! Congratulations!! I'll contact you shortly and the PR company will post out your tickets. Which one do you fancy visiting? London, York, Blackpool or Edinburgh??
Secondly, I just wanted to highlight the importance of reviews for all authors, but especially indie authors like me! So I'd like to say a huge big thank you to the 35 or so readers who have left me positive reviews on Amazon UK, US, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads for either Witchblood, Witchcraft or both!

Here is my most recent review, http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/379911547 So thank you to Sara!

Unfortunately even though over 10,000 people have downloaded my books, I only have 15-25 reviews on each site, so this is a plea... please please, if you have enjoyed reading either of my books it would really help me if you could post a short review on either Amazon, Goodreads or B&N.

Friday, 27 July 2012

An Olympic Diversion...

I tried for all of about five minutes to find a way of mixing vampires, witches and the Olympics... but I just couldn't do it! So this evening, as I write, the Opening Ceremony is on the television in front of me... and seriously impressing me by the way!

I had to do a post because apart from my blog being a website for all my friends, family and lovely Witchblood fans out there, this is a kind of diary for me too and the London Olympics is after all a pretty momentous event in my life. My four year old son is already obsessed and is planning on watching it all day tomorrow, pretty much every sport LOL!... Wow! Those glowing rings are amazing... I remember the industrial revolution in history at school, but this brings it to life in such a vibrant way!

Anyway... ahhhh... this is So good! Bond meets the Queen!!! I am SO loving this! :D Talking of the Queen, I love this recent photo of her. She is a truly amazing woman.

Now, I really need to get back on track, so to speak, so I thought I'd just show you who I'm going to be watching and rooting for over the next few days, in no particular order:

Rebecca Adlington: From Mansfield, only an hour or so from where I live, Rebecca won Gold in Beijing for 400m Freestyle (Swimming)

Tom Daley: Our amazing young diver, with rather lovely abs! Divers always amaze me so I'm looking forward to watching this.

 Victoria Pendleton: She's a world and an Olympic champion, she fell in love and proved everybody wrong. She's a role model. Simple.

Zara Phillips: I first watched her one memorable day picnicing at the Chatsworth Horse Trials in 2004. She won Eventing World Champion in 2006 and is still one of the best.

Hannah Whelen: She was the youngest member of the team in Beijing at only 16 and is now ranked No1 in the Britain. Oh yeah... and she's from Stockport, my local (big) town!

Now those are the sports I'll be watching, but I know my hubbie and little boy will be supporting Team GB Football so as I can't find a decent pic of the whole team, heres one of Becks! :)

He's part of the reason we're all here - he fought damn hard on the Olympic bid and frankly I'm shocked he's not on the team :(

So all that's left to say is "Good Luck..."

Thursday, 26 July 2012

New Designs for Blogger...

So, I thought it was about time I did something about my Witchblood site. When I started in December 2011 I was a complete newbie to blogging, never mind designing your own, so I used a Blogger template and stuck with it!

Since then I have taught myself how to use GIMP (the free software that's very similar to Photoshop)... well I still could do with doing a course or something but I'm getting there! There are actually loads of really good tutorials on the web. So I've mainly been learning about layers and blending images. What I've learnt is it is VERY time consuming (at least it is to a amateur!) but ultimately rather rewarding!

Last month I made my own book trailer for WitchCraft, using Microsoft Movie Maker and GIMP to edit the images. You can see it here:

And this week I decided it was time to tackle the blog design! First I again found tutorials for making blog Headers and backgrounds which gave me the dimensions I needed. I made the header first bu blending a couple of images linked to my books together and altering the colours. Overall I decided to move away from the blood red colours and use blues and purples instead. I was rather pleased with my banner but when I uploaded it found it to be too short, so beware, the tutorials out there are wrong on width dimensions. I then went to blogger design page and found the page width which I then used to set the width. You can see my banner above easily so I won't post it again!

But this is the background I created:

Again I kept with the blue theme and added the black tulips which represent the tulips Luke leaves on Jess's grave. There are also hearts made from metal shavings and the moon.

Another note for other newbies to blog design: Blogger tells you to use a image 1600x1400 wide or bigger yet when you try to upload it tells you file is too large and after I kept making the file size smaller I lost the quality completely. So unsure what to do I ended up uploading a image size 1350x1200. It's still not perfect. I would have preferred the image to be zoomed out a little so the tulips etc weren't as large and more visible... but currently I don't know how to do that! So this will have to do! Anyway, it's much better than the original boring blogger background. What do you think? Have you designed your own?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Exclusive Pre-view WitchLove Cover

To finish off my Laura Zalenga week I'm posting an exclusive cover pre-view of next years third and final instalment of the Witchblood series,'WitchLove'. As with the other two covers, it's the same girl as in all of them, and I hope I've caught the feeling of the book. Personally I love the way the colour scheme has evolved from dark, vampy reds in Witchblood, through enchanting greens in Witchcraft to delicate pinks in WitchLove. What do you think?

I hope you've enjoyed seeing Laura's work, I know I've enjoyed hosting her and her amazing images. To celebrate I've got another competition to run. 

Witches: Burned AliveKeeping with the gothic theme I'm taking the prize winner back in time to the UK's scariest dungeons. Open to all UK residents. I have a family ticket (for 2 adults & 2 children / or 4 adults) valid until the 31st Dec 2012 for a one-day entry into any of these UK dungeons... whichever is closest to you:

Edinburgh Dungeon - See Mary Kings Ghost, Burke & Hare and the Cave of Cannibals.
Blackpool Tower Dungeon - Ride the Drop Ride to Doom & experience the Pendle Witches.
York Dungeon - Experience the terrifying Witch hunts, the ghosts of York & Dick Turpin.
London Dungeon - Ride the Vengeance 5D Laser ride, Jack the Ripper & Sweeny Todd.
Pendle Witches Show at Blackpool Dungeons

 So if you enjoy being terrified and have a fascination in all things grotesque and gruesome just click on the rafflecopter boxes below!

For my US fans, I haven't forgotton you. I hope to come up with an international competition soon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 20 July 2012

Laura Zalenga Week: Nature

My last themed post for Laura is going to be 'Nature' because she uses the natural world so beautifully in so many of her images and it is also so obviously important to her. When I asked her whether she preferred taking pictures in the city or the countryside, this was her reply:

"Definitely countryside/nature, because one of the things I love the most on this planet are forests. These places are so calm and peaceful and still tell their own story. I adore the light breaking through the high green roof when you're standing on soft moss. In contrary to the loud, hectic life in the city, forests are places to recover and to listen to your own thoughts."

She's so right! Here are my favourite 'nature' photos:

I love the dreamy quality in this picture. Laura has captured her sister beautifully here, and again the colours work so perfectly together, with the pale, creamy skin and the vibrant greens and bright white and yellow of the daisys. Perfect!

When I asked Laura about her favourite images, this was one of the ones she picked saying:

"I can't even really tell why, maybe because I adore red, I adore forests and calmness and reflections and dancing and weird poses!"

This is a stunning photo and again the beautiful red coat contrasting with the forest colours and dappled light is perfect. But what I want to know if how on earth did she set a timer on her camera and manage to climb a tree?! Magical!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Laura Zalenga Week: Soul

Laura uses herself in the majority of her images... most of them are self portraits of one kind or another. As she says in the intro on her website, look to her images to see inside her soul. I asked her why...

I enjoy using myself in the images because it means I can start straight away, when an idea comes to mind. I know 100% what I want from the shoot... and because it's a kind of therapy.

Here I have chosen two of my favourite 'self portrait' images:

This image is called 'Ariel in Me' because of the red hair which is created when she was overworking the image and something went wrong with the colours, and she instantly loved it. I instantly loved it too, the eye is stunning, so clear and bright. The tiny camera is cute and perfect for Laura and what is in her soul. The colours and contrasts are to die for.

On Flickr Laura says:

This is the pool in our house. We've lived here for five years now. The pool is still not finished. Always empty. Empty and cold. I was all alone standing on the little footbridge over it, and there was this picture growing in me. ...I needed a little bit of water in it and waited for the sun to almost go down. 

I had an old, big, grey shirt and took my first steps into this new created room. and suddenly I walked into another world. running, standing, dancing, laying in the water. It was my kingdom. my heart was filled with joy.
In the end I was so calm and still. I was just sitting there enjoying the silent mood. Thats why I take self portraits. It's such a great way to understand yourself. To calm yourself. To make yourself feel better. To make yourself feel,and the only person who had this picture in its mind was me. I did it and it felt so good. After all that I love this picture. I'm always able to recapture these feelings.

Wow! Beautiful... I think she said it all.

Laura's links:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Laura Zalenga Week: Fairytale

For Day 2 of my cover artist appreciation week I have chosen the theme of 'fairytale' because I love anything fairy related and also these two images are two of my absolute favourites and I couldn't wait to share!

But in order to get to know Laura a bit better I have pasted the intro from her website here for you. This is what she says about herself and her photography... in her words.
My name is Laura Zalenga. I was born in February 1990. I live in the South of Germany. I've been taking photos since 2007 and photography is my life. That is all you need to know. My photos will tell you more than words could.

I'm in love with this photo... in fact I want to be standing on that bridge, in that forest. It is so beautiful. I am also coveting the red coat! I love the way the splash of red contrasts with the ethereal dark forest colours. Laura has put on Flickr that it looks like she's playing 'Titanic' and it does remind me of that and gives a fun playful air to the otherwise cold image. Fab!

This second image is quite simple, but must have taken Laura hours to set up! It reminds me of one of my favourite Studio Ghibli films, My Neighbour Totoro'... the soot sprites in particular. It is magical and I fully intend to take the kids and replicate this down in the woods one sunny day... if we ever get a sunny day again!
Here is another look at the finished result:

What do you think? Which is your favourite?
Laura's links:

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Laura Zalenga Week: Movement

I have decided there is no possible way I can choose only one photo a day... So, I've decided to do a different theme each day and pick my favourite two photos for each theme. But first here are the first two interview questions for Laura so we can get to know her a little better:

1. When did you first start taking photos?
My first photo-steps were in 2008.

2. You do a lot of digital manipulation with some of your photos. Which do you prefer, the taking of the photos or the overworking afterwards?
Sometimes I like the overworking even more, but it wouldn't be the same without also being the one who takes the photo. So I will never give up  either one of them.

Today is 'movement' and Laura is great at encapsulating movement in her pictures. Recently she has shot a set of pictures called 'Levitation' which are brilliant. How on earth does she do it?

On Flickr Laura says this was a last minute shoot and that she had 'no time'... I wish I could produce a picture like this with so little time! I love the colours in this picture, the dappled sunlight through the trees and the way all the colours go so beautifully together... especially the green dress and the yellow building. Oh why can't the view from my house be this one?

My second choice to encapsulate 'movement' from Laura's collection is:

Laura has many dance pictures in her collection as she, like me, loves dancing. This picture reminds me of my ballet days. It perfectly depicts the emotion I felt when I gave everything to the music. When you forget everything and everyone around you and feel nothing but the music pounding through your soul.

These two photos are so different from each other and yet I love them equally as they both move me in different ways. One is full of ecstasy and joy, the other full of soul. Which do you prefer?

Laura's links:

Monday, 16 July 2012

Laura Zalenga Week... & Witchblood Has a New Cover!

I've been looking forward to this week for ages... well as soon as knew I was changing the Witchblood cover and Laura agreed to a promo week.

I decided to have a week on my blog featuring Laura for a couple of reasons, one to say thanks for the fantastic images she has produced for my book covers, and secondly just because I love her images so much I thought you guys might too, especially as I've had several queries from other indie authors as to who my cover artist is!

Well, here she is, my cover artist is the very talented 22yr old Laura Zalenga from Germany. You can find her on Flickr, Facebook & her own webpage.

Each day this week I'm going to post another of her photos and say why I picked it and what I love about it... actually this will be really hard because so far I have favourited about 20 of her images in Flickr and need to narrow down to 5 ahhh! I've also asked her some interview questions so I'll post a new factoid each day along with the image.

But to start the week off, here is the Witchblood cover:

And look out for an extra special reveal of the cover for the third instalment, WitchLove, near the end of the week!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Witchcraft Book Trailer

Phew! Well, it's taken me all day... yes literally about 8hrs of trying to work out how to use Microsoft Movie Maker, mess about with images in GIMP and find good free music... but it's done! Here is my first attempt at creating my own book trailer, it's maybe not at good as Silvia at Darkest Sins professional one I had done for Witchblood, but I think it conveys the story.

By the way if anyone can tell me how to get rid of this image (which is from the middle of the trailer) and use the initial image in the trailer for the YouTube cover please let me know because I haven't got the energy left to faff around with it any longer!!

So what do you think?

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Highlighting Indie Authors

A friend and fellow indie author, Megan Duncan has recently released the sequel in her new 'Agents of Evil' series. Due to my own writing, Meningitis and a Kindle full to the brim of books I haven't got round to reading these yet... but they are ready and waiting! Book 1 is called 'Released' and this is what the synopsis says:

After a demon apocalypse kills their parents and everyone they know, 17-year old Abby Phillips, her brother, Carter, and friend, Max flee their home to travel through what has become the wastelands of America. When radio transmissions of a resistance offering shelter and safety cease, Abby is tempted to give up. Struggling to overcome life-threatening obstacles in their dangerous journey, Abby and her companions quickly discover there are much worse things lurking in the dark than they could have ever imagined.

Book 2 is called 'Chaos' and the synopsis is as follows:

Is any shot at living, worth dying for?

They thought they’d be safe, but a world ruled by chaos doesn’t die easily.

When Max turned on the radio transmissions assuring safety, they came. But, it wasn’t just survivors of the demon apocalypse that crawled their way into the abandoned military base. A myriad of beastly demons unlike any they’ve ever seen, came as well. Abby, and her companions, struggle to survive as the evil around them grows. Desperate to endure, and to defend their fellow survivors, Abby and a squad of fierce fighters, take on a dangerous mission that has deadly consequences.
Don't they sound great?

Here are the UK Kindle links:

Also the Chaos blog tour is currently underway and pop over and visit her blog for some really fab giveaways.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Witchblood, Witchcraft and More Exciting News!

Cover for 'Witchblood'
Firstly I'd like to apologise for not updating this blog as much as usual. My Meningitis recovery is taking longer than expected and boring the pants off me! But enough of that...

Have you noticed... Witchblood is currently FREE! Whats more, it is free on Amazon UK which is a first! So now if you haven't yet read Witchblood you can grab it for your Kindle in the US or UK free and if you have an ipad, Nook or other reader you can download it free from B&N or Smashwords. All I ask in return is if you like it, recommend me to your friends and leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Here are the links:




Now for some more exciting news... After much thought and deliberation I have decided to change the Witchblood cover, and thanks to my lovely cover artist I have the perfect image. I can't wait to share it with you! And to co-oincide with the new cover reveal I have another fantastic giveaway, and this time it's UK-wide with locations in London, Scotland, York & Blackpool. So keep an eye on my page over the next few weeks and watch out for the new cover!

For my lovely state-side fans, I'm still trying to come up with something for you...but you live in such a huge country ;-) If anyone would like to offer any suggestions I'm open to ideas... I know other indie authors do booksmarks, postcards & t-shirts... would you like these?