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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Another year bites the dust... Goodbye 2013

And now, the end is near...

I find it hard to believe that this is the last day of 2013 - where did that year go? UNBELIEVABLE!

Anyway, to top up the year, my blog has been featured by Jill Edmondson, I have been interviewed online, and I was nominated for an award... pop goes the weasel! HA!

When it rains it falls... but as I have said in my blog post, ON GIBRALTAR BOOKSHELVES, nothing can compare to seeing your book for sale on a real bookstore!


The reviews from readers have also made me smile, and made me think that perhaps I am a reasonable writer after all - thank you...

So, here goes - ENJOY

HAPPY NEW YEAR - I hope 2014 does not whizz by as fast as 2013 did!

Vanessa Wester :) xx

Reflecting on the last year, my thoughts at the end of 2013, is live on THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY blog, and has been featured by Jill Edmondson - LINK HERE

Interviewed by Tony Gilbert, thank you - LINK HERE

Nominated for...
Blog of The Year 2013 Award

This nomination came from Scarlett Flame - a very feisty red-head who is all heart! Thank you

All details on this award can be found HERE

I have received these "awards" over the last year and have to admit that I find them to be a bit like chain letters... you either are into them or you are not. Either way, I am glad someone thought of me and so I will recommend some bloggers who I wish to "award" now. By the way, you can collect up to six stars... ooooooo

So, a very Happy New Year to the following bloggers - please attach this badge of honour to your site if you wish...

Terry Tyler   Susan Buchanan   Val Poore   Carol Hedges   James Smith   Francis Potts

Can I also remind you that HYBRID is now FREE, please tell your friends and download. Thank you :)

= >>>>>> CLICK ON THE LINK FOR AMAZON, SMASHWORDS, NOOK, KOBO, etc...






Saturday, 28 December 2013

20,000 views... WOW

I just realised whilst updating my blogs that I have had over 20,000 views on this blog!

Awesome... Thank you to anyone who has come and had a look at my rambles!


Anyway, I had a fantastic Christmas with my sisters in Tewkesbury... we stayed in a massive converted barn (I did however look forward to my shower when I got home since the shower head was so big it flooded you, so I bathed instead... it was quite nice actually). I hope you all had a great Christmas too...



I am going to try and keep this blog updated with extras (like recipes, etc) in the new year... I know there are a lot of cake fans out there!

Saying this, I ate a lot of food (still am - but I made a soup today... phew) so I am going on a "diet" in January - when the clothes start to get tight, it's time to do something. My diet will mainly consist of exercise, more fruit & veg (tuna salads!) and less chocolate :(

It has to be done... So, here are my New Year resolutions

1) More exercise
2) Less processed food
3) Write again...
4) Major clear up - yes, some books HAVE to go to the charity shop!
5) Read... (this is easy!

What are your top ideas?

Happy New Year to you all
All the best,
Vanessa :) xx



P.s. if you want to read my debut novel, HYBRID, as an eBook for free, then head on over to The Evolution Trilogy for all the links to Amazon, Kobo, Nook, etc - I have had over 1000 downloads in the US already! :)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

BOOK LAUNCH in GIBRALTAR: THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY

I have just got back from Gibraltar... its amazing how much you can pack in in three days! PHEW...


Anyway, it truly is an incredible place - tell me anywhere else where you can call an old school friend (thank you Paula Latin) in the morning and then get mentioned on the radio station, have a TV crew sent to you for an interview that afternoon, and then get interviewed by local newspapers resulting in my first ever one page interview! I know, WOW...

Thank you so much to Alice Mascarenhas from the Gibraltar Chronicle for the feature.
LINK http://www.chronicle.gi/headlines_details.php?id=32150

GBC | Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation

And this is the GBC live TV interview - yes, I exist... for all of my virtual friends - I am not a BOT! :)

Newswatch - 17/12/13


LINK http://www.gbc.gi/television/tv-player.php?programme=475&episode=6328

Anyway, this is me signing books I sold... what a nice feeling!

Please head on over to my Trilogy blog (LINK) for more information... and spread the word about HYBRID being FREE as an eBook...

Thank you so much for you support & encouragement,

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR

Vanessa :) xx

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

HYBRID is now FREE (Ahhhhhh...)

Yesterday, I realised that my debut novel, HYBRID, has been price matched on Amazon and is now FREE.

I have to admit that I have no idea how to feel about it...

On the one hand, I might get loads of readers interested in the Trilogy and in my dream world it'll soar up the charts, and then a movie company will... (cough, cough, cough...) YEP, steady on - like no chance!

So, the downside is that loads of readers will hate it and give me horrible reviews and then I will sob my heart out, hide in a dark corner and never come out! (A bit over dramatic, maybe?)

Anyway, either way, I have to stop being so scared. Truth, I am petrified. This past week I have been wallowing in the doldrums of self-pity...

I have convinced myself that the Trilogy is rubbish and that anyone posting good reviews is just being kind - since I know I can also get bad reviews. Like, for example, in the US where a reader decided to write an essay for a review! Have mercy on me... Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but do you have to give away the entire plot in a review!


I can't help but wonder sometimes if these reviews come from genuine readers, or authors hoping to divulge their pearls of wisdom on other (supposedly) lessor authors... who knows? Truth, it got to me - I am human :(
Anyway, I have to move on from the Trilogy. It is finished - done! Time to write something else, something different.

I am just lacking motivation. Is it because it is so dark & gloomy, or because I have been unwell (anaemic), or just because...

Anyway, I would be really grateful if any of you kind people out there can spread the word about HYBRID being free... if you don't like it, don't read it - simple :)

All the links to Amazon are on THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY blog, but this is the UK, US, one to get you there directly.

All the best,
Vanessa :) xx

p.s.

Now heading off to put up Christmas Tree to cheer myself up... tra, la la la laaaaah, la la la lahhhh

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A Time to READ...

I have just spent the day updating blogs... finally!

I have revamped the blogs for the Charity Anthologies, mainly to celebrate to release of the SIXTH anthology I have published. I know, six... amazing...

Anyway, the latest anthology is called "A TEST OF TIME".


I love this cover - it has to be one of my favourites... thank you "copyright free" pictures via word!

People seem to think covers are hard to do - well, I use PAINT via Microsoft! It was tricky to use at first, but now I have it sussed...

Anyway, this anthology is in aid of FOODBANK, so head on over to the blog to find out more... go on, scoot.

Actually, you might want to finish reading this first, maybe?

As an update, it's been a week since I published RETURN and I have had a steady stream of sales, and two 5 star reviews... YAY :)

I know a lot of authors are much more proactive than me at getting reviews - I barely have enough time to do what I do, let alone find time to get readers who want to review my book. I have managed to give my book away to a few readers & one "reading group" on Goodreads. I am always really worried, and convinced this is when they will tell me to go throw my writing in the bin... (still holding my breath).

Anyway, I am actually going to hold a book launch in Gibraltar this Christmas on Monday 16th December for my Trilogy (I decided to be brave, and luckily my dad is helping me by managing the promotional side of things) - so if anyone from Gibraltar is reading this, you are invited! Details to follow...

Either way, I think there is no point complaining about my lack of sales if I don't actually do much to promote other than tweet, Facebook and blog! I need a TV commercial... (dreaming now...)

So, if you feel like telling people about my writing, and my efforts to raise money for Charities, I would be extremely grateful.

Vanessa :) xx

As a thank you for reading a quick reminder ... (please review if you can - I have had loads of downloads and not a single review from this free promotion so far)

To celebrate the release of RETURN, please spread the word and download HYBRID for FREE.

Via smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/145641 (Use coupon code RJ72J)

ALSO FREE ON KOBO... http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/hybrid-8

Valid until December 8th, 2013

Thursday, 14 November 2013

I did it...


I worked all morning updating my blog for The Evolution Trilogy... on the 14th, whilst waiting for Amazon to process the last book, RETURN. But, I wanted to wait until then since I wanted it to go through on the 14th November - my dad's birthday!

Anyway, both SMASHWORDS and KOBO allowed me to publish for pre-publication (Amazon sort this out) so the final book can now be bought there.

The paperback was released already, since it takes a bit longer, and is available from Amazon. (The ebook is now also available HERE for UK, other countries please visit www.theevolutiontrilogy.blogspot.com )

I will now wait for the feedback (also known as reviews... eek!)

I have worked really hard to take my baby to childhood then adulthood... I hope it can now go out into the world with its head held high.

The Trilogy is suitable for mature readers of about 10ish and above (my daughter is a fan - aged 9!). In addition, my books have been enjoyed by both men and women of all ages, to my huge surprise.

A lot of the Trilogy has been based on some of my experiences when arriving at university in the UK as a foreigner (colonial), from my swimming days as a teen, my experiences as an adult, and my upbringing on the Rock of Gibraltar. BUT, a huge amount has come from my warped imagination...

When I found out I was pregnant again in 2008, on the same week I received my contract to return back to my teaching job after 7 years, I was convinced it would be a nightmare. My first two children were born 18 months apart and I had struggled with weight gain, depression, an underactive thyroid, loneliness, and the rest that comes with becoming a new parent...

My cousin also passed away aged 27 from a brain tumour, and other events happened to close family members that broke my heart. These made me reflect on my own life all the time, and I did not feel I had the right to complain about any hardships I faced. What could be worse than losing your life?

However, we all have the right to "suffer" and obtain sympathy for whatever makes us feel down. The characters in my trilogy encounter many difficulties, and I guess in a fictional setting it is easier to make things happen and talk about things that effect us all. The science fiction idea is complete fantasy, and the use of vampires is all for fun as explained in my blog post...

What I have learnt is that in life things happen for a reason. I have enjoyed every minute of being a parent for the third time. I was so much more relaxed, had fun with my daughter, and balanced three kids with some grace (most of the time... ha ha ha). It was whilst I sat watching my daughter at home that I started to write on a notepad, then progressed to a laptop, then computer... Once I caught the writing bug nothing stopped me and I became obsessed for a while. Every time my daughter slept, I wrote.

I bought a copy of the Writers & Artists handbook and tried to figure out the submissions process. I joined The Word Cloud, read a lot, and learnt to take critique. Then I saw the posts by David Gaughran, who wrote Let's Get Digital on the Cloud... and decided to go for it and self publish. It took me months to figure out the process of ebook publishing, using the advice on smashwords. I quickly realised Amazon was where a lot of readers bought books - the dominance of the kindle! So, off to Amazon I went... Don't even get me started on the paperback formatting!

When I was gifted an iPad by my father in law (thank you) my life changed. Social media became easier to use...

Now, I don't want to bore you... I should write a book about this!

The point is... had I not got pregnant I would never have started writing books. As a child I dreamed of being a writer, but the fact I was scientifically minded made me abandon the dream as the years went by. Yet, the fusion of my interests and dreams has led me to write this Trilogy.

Like I say on my catch line... In the game of life, destiny is the winner

Thank you for reading... and help me spread my story by sharing this post.

Vanessa :) xx

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Back to the beginning...

The Evolution Trilogy will see its conclusion on Thursday 14th November with the release of RETURN...

Steven Thorn and Caitlin Chance are meant to be together. At least, when they first fell in love it seemed inevitable. But love is sometimes not enough. It makes them act irrationally, it tests family loyalties, breaks and makes friendships, and causes physical and mental pain.

Yet, without love, Steven and Caitlin are lost.

As they return to the community and discover the possibilities open to them, all is not what they hoped. Steven has impacted the lives of many since he was discovered, and the choices he made have led to events beyond anyone’s control.

Love brought Steven and Caitlin together and fate is playing with their emotions, constantly undermining their willpower and determination. In the game of love, destiny is always the winner.


Continued from Complications, Vanessa Wester takes you back to the Amazon as Steven and Caitlin return to the community and try to figure out their future. Finally, you will discover the next steps for the community, its inhabitants, and humanity.

To celebrate HYBRID is FREE for a month.

I am not allowed to give it away via Amazon since I publish elsewhere, but have reduced the price on Amazon to under a £1.

Caitlin Chance has never been good at knowing what was best for her. She is conscientious and hardworking, but she has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She hopes it’ll all sort itself out at university, otherwise she’ll resort to chocolate. Convinced she will never meet, let alone fall in love with, anyone she is shocked to the core when fate leads her into the hands of Steven Thorn.
 
Yet Caitlin is soon to discover that there’s something not quite right about Steven.
 
Steven has a secret past destined to reveal itself and he is soon to become a stranger to everyone.
But first love is a powerful thing, and the connection forged between Caitlin and Steven is not easily broken.
 
The impossible is only the beginning…

Vanessa Wester’s debut novel takes you from the University of Southampton to the depths of the Amazon. An imaginary citadel is waiting to be discovered full of interesting characters, traditions and cultures. There are so many twists and details you will not be able to put this book down.

DOWNLOAD THE FIRST BOOK IN THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY FOR FREE NOW FROM SMASHWORDS...

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/145641

USE COUPON CODE - RJ72J

Valid until December 8th, 2013

If you enjoy this book, please leave a review on Goodreads, Smashwords, or Amazon (or all three if you are feeling generous).

I hope those of you who have enjoyed the Trilogy so far enjoy the conclusion. So far, initial feedback has been amazing (fingers crossed).

Thanks for your support, keep reading...

Vanessa :) xx

Saturday, 2 November 2013

GIBRALTAR... I miss you already

Last week I visited my home town of Gibraltar. The last time I went back (Easter 2012) my dad ended up in hospital after a heart attack, so it was a tense and stressful time. Luckily, this time he looked very well (thank goodness for stents!) and I had a wonderful time - so much so, that for the first time in years, I am homesick! After you look at my pictures you will understand why... the grey gloom and cold weather of England just cannot compete...

So, here you go - GIBRALTAR... ENJOY :)

The view from my parents apartment, where I grew up!
The Alameda Play Area - it's fab!

Here we go a marching today... Lord Nelson & Crew... 





A Barbary Ape scouts for food with the locals & tourists - DO NOT FEED THEM! (I actually got attacked by one and he swiped my daughters ice-cream!!)

What are you looking at?
The Cable Car & views ...






Views from the top of the rock


Cars cross the airport landing strip to get from the Spanish frontier to Gibraltar...



Churros for breakfast... yum... not for the diabetic!!! 



The beach opposite Spain - Camp Bay...



 The beach on the other side of the rock...








Birthday celebrations with my family - Happy Birthday, Mum!



 At the Airport... lucky I am heading back in December! YAY
 
When will I see you again, my Rock?

Hope you enjoyed the pictures... for a taste of Britain & Spain on a Rock with a fascinating history, traditions, and troubled relations with its neighbour. Let the beauty of the Rock shine through for all time.

Vanessa :) xx

Saturday, 19 October 2013

To publish or not to publish?

There is beauty all around us...
I attended an interesting talk today, given at The IOW Literary Festival, attended by two well known authors, and two publishers and found the discussion on the future of publishing interesting.

It was not as dire as the one I saw last year at the Festival of Writing in York - they looked ready to throw in the towel then.

The outlook was optimistic, and I really believe ebooks are not seen as a threat to the industry anymore. They have concerns, obviously:

1) Will booksellers cut back on stores? And will this in turn lead to a further fall in readers?

2) Will authors lose out as mainstream agents and publishers squeeze their margins further?

3) Will quality books or little "gems" be harder to find?

Before I answer these questions, as they replied, let me make it clear that there was no representation on the forum for self-publishing. I would have loved to have been on the stage with them! Therefore, I do think the discussion was skewed firmly towards the issues with traditional publishing.

Personally, I imagine they are going with caution and not wanting to upset us authors that choose to go it alone... I think S-P authors are pioneers entering the new land to be honest. Willing to fight for a stake, work hard to improve, and fulfil our destiny - but hey, call me a dreamer...

Even though I acknowledge that an agent/ publisher would make my life easier on many fronts, I don't think that I would ever be as proud of what I have achieved (or understood the process) had I not walked this road on my own - might I add that they all seemed to indicate S-P is EASY - HA! I would love to see them do what a lot of authors do on their own! But, regardless, everyone need to earn a living so I do not hold any grudges. I would protect my job if it was under threat too.

Anyway, enough said...

1) This is a huge possibility and concerns were raised on how readers will be able to check on the best works, ask for advice, etc - they mentioned Waterstones a lot (for the UK).

On this front, I wanted to say that you can download a 10% sample online, you get recommendations based on your reading via booksellers online, and you can look at reviews to get a flavour for the story via places like Goodreads, blogs, etc. When I asked for advice via a "real" store I have been told on numerous occasions - I have not read that one, let me look it up online, read Fifty Shades - it's highly recommended! Sorry, I lost respect for the knowledgeable bookseller at that point!

2) Yes, they will. It'll be harder for authors to get an agent via the big boys, but on the flip side there has been an explosion of smaller independent publishers, and even agents, deciding to go it alone. So, all hope is not lost! :)

3) Possibly. They believe true gems of literary fiction might become harder to find.

My counter to that is (and I apologise here to anyone who disagrees) the average reader does not want to read a piece of literary fiction.

Anyway, as one of the authors said... "whatever happens, it's all about the story."

INDEED

Hope you enjoyed reading my ramblings,

Vanessa :) xx

Monday, 7 October 2013

A year ago... walking on the IOW

The abyss...
A year ago I blogged about a family walk on the Isle of Wight with my family... SMUGGLERS WALK.
Well, I did the same walk on Saturday and it is clear that my level of fitness has, well (have to be honest here) DECREASED... I was huffing up the hill/ steps and thinking "please get to the top soon". Today (2 days later), my back and legs hurt and I feel drained... so time to get fit & healthy again, me thinks.

I have not blogged about this much since I did not really want to talk about it last year, but basically 2 years ago I decided to put my health first for a change again.


At the top... still smiling! :)
I have never been massive, but at 5'1" I easily pile on the pounds if I don't exercise and watch what I eat. When I was a teenager I used to swim competitively so with all the training, etc, I could eat what I wanted and was a size 8/10.

When I left home for university I found comfort in junk food and was amazed at how cheap a portion of chips & pizza slice was compared to healthier options. I also did not exercise as much and so over the course of the 3 years moved to a size 12.

When I started working I starting watching my diet again, walking more and doing aerobics... I went back to a size 10 easily enough.
 

It was when I started teaching that I drove to work, ate snacks, larger lunches, late meals, etc that I moved to a size 14... and when I got pregnant I reached a weight of 95kg (nearly 14 stones)! Yep, I was huge - & I only carried one baby!
I have to go down THERE?
 I remember looking at myself in the mirror after I had my son and thinking "what the hell have you done?" I was now a size 16... now this might not seem much to some of you, but for someone my size it's not healthy. I was obese.

I went on a proper diet and over the course of 7 months lost the weight and resumed my size 10. I then got pregnant again, but this time did not gain the weight (I did have a baby to help me keep active!)

However, as with my previous examples I slipped again and 2 years ago I was a size 14, and resigned to the fact. I was huffing and puffing again, and depressed since I hated food and found it easier to eat crisps, chocolates & cakes than a proper meal. So, I went to see a dietician and changed my diet to a healthier one. It worked and the weight fell off, this time leaving me a size 8 - as you see on the post last year!

Stormy times...
This year, again, I started to lose interest and the weight has started to creep up again - but I am determined to stay this size - shopping gets expensive! But, I find it hard to stay focused...

You see, I think I am addicted to sugar and every time I crave more, and get hungrier. The question is how to keep off it when its all around us? (I do love chocolate)

So, I will remind myself and you (if interested) of the basics...

- use more natural sugars (agave syrup is great)
- eat less bread & dairy products
- eat more fresh fruit & vegetables
- DRINK lots of water
- keep snacks to a minimum

Tell me what you do to keep the weight down, or have you always been the lucky type that can eat whatever they want?

And to finish off have a look at my latest author interview... it is so nice when a near enough stranger says nice things about me! (It's because he has not met me - ha ha ha)

ENJOY :)

Vanessa :) xx

INTERVIEW WITH MASSIMO MARINO

A note from  MASSIMO...

MM-thumbI wrote fantastic stories and science fiction since I was a kid, short stories and novellas, but never had anyone read them. It was a personal thing: My father and my older brother received “Astounding Stories” and other Sci-Fi ‘zines, but I was too little to be allowed to read them, so I looked at the covers…and imagined things for myself.

Then, work and life took their toll and I stopped writing those tales. Slightly over two years ago, in 2011, for various reasons, I started again with some burning inside that needed to come out. On the first weekend I got over 15000 words, then subscribed to critters.org for peer review, lurked a year keeping on writing and getting feedback, and last September my debut novel, "Daimones", saw the light.

It received the 2012 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award in Science Fiction. A debut novel among so many established authors in the competition. This September, "Daimones" won the 2013 Hall of Fame – Best Science Fiction from Quality Reads UK Book Club in collaboration with OrangeBerry Book Tours, shortlisted among thousands of other great candidates.

I’m writing now Vol.3 of the Daimones Trilogy,  published the Vol.2 "Once Humans (Daimones Trilogy)", and a small collection of short horrid stories, "Stranded Love"

So, what about me now… I’m Italian, and because even in Italy that means everything and nothing at all, I should say, I am Sicilian. I was born in Palermo, and as it happened with countless Sicilians, I left it, back in 1986. I lived more years abroad than in my home country, and I have changed in many and different ways than my old friends there. It is always a pleasure to go back, but it is now 6 long years since my last visit. Saudade? Maybe, a little.

I lived in Switzerland, France, and the United States. I am a scientist as a background, and have spent over 17 years in fundamental research. Most of my writing are then academic stuff, and I always wonder at how much Google is able to find about everyone. I am sure one has to Google oneself so not to forget too much…I worked for many years at CERN—an international lab for particle physics research near Geneva, Switzerland—then in the US at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Fantastic moments and memories from those years. In 2005 I moved to the private sector, worked with Apple Inc., and then for the World Economic Forum.