Monday, 28 January 2013

"Men think with their cocks."

An excerpt from the third--yet unnamed--book of the Branded series. Every now and again we need a good friend we can turn to, be ourselves and let the friend take care of us. (First draft, please keep in mind.)


I've seen Emily cry many a times but, as I feared, this is way worse than with any other break-ups. The girl standing before me is broken, the cracks running through her heart showing right on her face and in her eyes. She doesn't say a word, but her lips are quivering.
Oh come here!” I grab her hand and pull her close, into a hug. She sniffles and I squeeze a little tighter. The sniffles turn into light sobs and I continue to hold her, gently stroking her back when the sobs become louder and turn into a staccato. It's intense, so much so that I can literally feel her pain. I know there's nothing I can say that makes it better, nothing that will comfort her. All I can do is be there for her. The bag that is dangling from her left arm drops to the floor with a loud thud; a sound of a bottle of wine wrapped in fabric. I have no idea how long we've been standing here like this, in my hall, but the sobs become less and eventually ebb.
I–look like a mess. I'm so sorry.”
Don't be silly, Em. No need to be sorry. And I don't care how you look. I love you anyway. Here, come through. Let's have bottle of wine.”
Tha–hank you,” she stammers, still gasping for air.
What for?” I smile, open a bottle of Chardonnay, pour a glass and place it in front of her. She grasps it with a shaking hand. Yes, it hit her pretty hard.
I really want to wring his neck!” I say.
Me, too. I asked him why and he said he didn't know, said he was pissed and she'd flirted with him anyway.” She snorts and, for a brief moment, her eyes glisten with hatred. “And that's a reason for you to sleep with that fucking bitch?”
Do you know her?”
She nods. “I've seen her once. She's nothing special, you know, no arse, no tits, not particularly pretty. Just normal. That's why I don't understand. If she were hot, I'd perhaps understand, not excuse, but understand. Men think with their cocks and when such a woman dangles an opportunity in front of them, their brains switch off. But that grey mouse? What did she promise him I couldn't give? What?”
To be honest, I never thought Chris would do that to youwith any woman, hot or not. I know he was a flirt before you met each other, but that is really odd. Did you have an argument or something?”
Since her little outburst, Emily has become quiet, staring without focus, rotating the glass's foot between her thumb and index finger. “Let's say we had a disagreement.”
I look up, confused. “I didn't know.”
Well, you were so busy recently. Working a lot, being at Tom's. I called you, but your mobile was turned off, so I didn't bother to leave a message.”
When was that?” I have a faint idea and feel guilty.
Some time last week,” she replies, confirming my thought. It was when I wasn't myself, when I fought my Dark Side. I wish I could tell her about it, but how could I possibly explain that the reason for not being there for her back then was because I was trying to kill my brother? I wasn't the Celia she knows and loves. I might not have recognised her.
I'm sorry.” I squeeze her hand. “I'm the worst friend ever. What happened?”
Emily sighs deeply and wipes away another tear that had escaped her eye. “Chris and I looked at that flat and we couldn't agree on anything. I felt like he didn't really want to move in with me.”
Did he actually say that?”
She shakes her head. “No, he didn't need to. It was obvious. That's when I thought something isn't right, but when I asked him, he said all was fine. And the next day he was all normal, his sweet self. You know, as if nothing happened. Until this morning, when I received the e-mail.”
Bastard!” I shake my head. “Sorry, I shouldn't say that, but I'm really angry with him for hurting you.”
You should have heard all the names I called him this morning.” Her eyes fill with tears again.
Deservedly so!”
Emily blows her nose. “If only it would help.”
Hon, do you see any chance of getting through this with him?”
No. Once a cheater, always a cheater. I wouldn't be able to trust anymore.” She snorts. “I was pissed! What kind of a pathetic excuse is that?”
Reminds me of ... you know who,” I say, the memory of my ex makes me shudder and take a sip of my wine.
Yeah!” She pulls a face, then crunches the tissue into a ball and tosses it across the kitchen into the bin. “Three points!” she says in a thin voice.
I gaze into my glass, not knowing what to say. What can you offer someone who just broke up with her boyfriend? Tell her that time heals all wounds? Hardly helpful, even if true. Besides, Emily is normally not someone who analyses her relationships; she cries, swears, dives head first into work before she starts with rebound sex. At least that's how it was in the past. Since this is—was—her first serious relationship I worry about her. She throws her head back, her shoulder-length bob swinging at the sudden move and lets out a long low scream that probably can be heard two flats below, but I don't care. As long as my friend releases what threatens to drown her, she can scream how long and loud she wants. I pour us another glass, which Emily downs immediately. Right, getting pissed it is, then. But it would probably a good idea to eat something beforehand.
“You eaten anything today?”
She burbs behind her hand, then replies, “No, couldn't.”
“How about I rustle something up?”
“I'm not hungry, really.”
“But I am. I'll cook something and you can either have some or not, okay?”
“Do you have more wine?”
“The bottle you brought is in the fridge.”
“Right.” She stands, slightly wobbly. It pains me to see her like this and I wish I could make it better. Hopefully I can get some food into her; she never denies my cooking.
“I'll just sit and watch you.”
“You better, might even learn something.” Emily's cooking is rather basic. A few dishes like Shepherd's Pie or pancake, maybe a vegetable cream soup or Spaghetti with shop-bought pasta sauce, but that's hardly making her a cook.
“I can't concentrate on anything. It's like one of those cook shows, you know? When you watch them, thinking, I must try that, but never do. You're just like them: you need a bit of this, and a little bit a that, cut this,” she makes a fast chopping movement, “and stir, add this, hey, presto!”
“Are you making fun of me?” I ask, bringing the kettle to the boil.
She pouts. “Moi? Never!” With a big grin, she drains another glass. This will be an early night, and most probably one with a lot of sprints between bed- and bathroom. I cut the streaky bacon in fine strips, then roll the washed chard into a ball and lightly run my knife through it. Emily nurses the next glass and I put the rigatoni into the saucepan.
“You should slow down a bit, Em. Maybe have a water?”
“I don't want any water. I'm all right.”
I chop the garlic and red chilli, then cut the cherry tomatoes in halves. “Your headache, not mine.”
“Your headache, not mine,” she imitates me, pulling a face. Swollen, dull eyes glare at me without focus; the alcohol is beginning to kick in. I bite my lip and say nothing. Instead, I put a glass of water in front of her and kiss her on the cheek. She squints at the glass and dutifully drinks, then slams the empty glass onto the table, that I jump out of my skin, then, with the back of her hand, wipes over her mouth. “Happy?”
“Yes,” I reply putting the freshly roasted pine nuts aside, and throw the bacon into the pan.
“Celia?” Emily slurs.
“What is it?” The scent of tomato puree fills my kitchen and I drain the pasta.
“Why did he do that to me?” she whines.
“I don't know, hon. I don't know.” I scrape the garlic into the pan, then the chard and tomatoes and stir.
Emily sniffs. “Smells good.”
I smile to myself, hearing her scramble from the chair to venture to the fridge. “Can you pass me the Parmesan, please?”
She hands me the cheese and I grate it into the pan before adding the pasta and a tiny bit of cream and salt and give it as good mix.
“Hmm it does look good, though,” she says from behind, resting her chin on my shoulder.
“Two plates, then, my dear.”
She stretches her arm to open the cupboard, holding on to the table for balance. If the reason for her being so drunk weren't Chris, it would be funny, but all I feel is sorry for her. This girl doesn't deserve to be that sad. I take the plates off her before she drops them, serve the food with the roasted pine nuts, and watch with relief that she has developed an appetite.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Pull your socks up: another interview with me

You might not hear as much from me at the moment, but that doesn't mean, I'm lazily sitting on my arse, doing nothing. Far from it. I'm busily writing on the third book in the Branded series so that you, my lovely readers, will be able to join Celia and Tom again, see what they're up to next. And let me tell you one thing: it'll be a blast. Although I'm not yet sure where it all leads to, I'll do my best to make this book sing.

And while I'm furiously typing away, an e-mail reached me. Pageturners, a site for Chick Lit with a difference has asked if I'd be willing to do an interview with them. Of course I was. In fact, it's an honour. A site by readers for readers, what's not to love? And interviews are always fun, particularly when you're asked wonderful questions.

Find the interview here:

Hope you like it.



Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Hot & Cold

One thing I love about winter is that you get to enjoy some snow every now and again. For the past few days we've had snow in London and the white has transformed the nearby park into a beautiful snowy landscape. So I put on my wellies and gloves and went for a walk. It's the sound of snow crunching under my boots, the way it reflects the sun, making the days look much brighter, the laughter of people throwing snow balls at each other or fall over while building a snowman that makes me smile. I'm more of a summer girl, but the magical white makes me happy somehow. It also changes the familiar park, like a scene change in a film and I have new things to detect. A 45 minute walk in the winter sun is like a quick charger for the mind. I can think, listening to music, while moving my feet to the beat.
Snow reminds me of my childhood since I had to go on ski holidays until I was sixteen. I remember the first time I stood on skiers; they just put me on them and pushed me down the hill. Well, okay, it was more a slope than a hill, but it was pretty scary. I never really learned skiing, I was far too scared to break my arms and legs and rather mucked out the cowsheds and looked after the animals. I was already weird back then. Quite interesting considering the fact that I'm ADHD and therefore should have been all up for the risk of bone-breaking, but it seems I was a reasonable little girl. Anyway, back to the walk in the park. As I marched on, I looked at the scenery with interest, dogs were enjoying the cold white, many people too pictures of each other or the park. And as I wanted to have one with myself in the white, I asked a couple if they could take one of me. They asked me if I can take one of them and while we were telling each other a to move a little bit to the left, and a bit back, then to the right and a little more and ... smile, another woman joined our merry photo session as she was also looking for someone to take a few pictures of her. We handed each other our mobiles and cameras and grinned like idiots. It was quite the funny--pardon the pun--picture, I believe, because people giggled when they passed us. And this is the result:

Well, yes, that's me.
Finally back at home, I went straight to the kitchen and cooked a winter favourite of mine: swede stew, which is basically a hearty and sweet bowl of goodness:
1 smoked Gammon Joint
2 swedes (not someone from Sweden)
2 carrots
2 leeks
A few new potatoes
1/4 of a celeriac

Boil the meat for about 30 min in about 3 liters of water before adding the vegetables. Then cook for further 30 minutes until everything is soft. You don't need to add any seasoning as the smoked Gammon Joint has enough salt in it and the vegetables add to the taste. Dice the meat and put it back in. You can add some parsley or chervil to give it a bit more colour. I love it just the way it is. I normally add a special smoked sausage which I cut into rings. This time I bought some from the Polish shop, which did the job. A hearty dish that warms you through after a long walk.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Ten questions I wanted to ask myself

It's a white Sunday in London and somehow I feel mischievous, so I decided to interview myself, asking questions that I felt needed to be asked. Let's see if I can get myself to answer those tricky beasts.

Tea or coffee?
Tea (lots of it) in the morning. It doesn't have an effect on me, but I love the taste. With semi-skimmed milk and brown sugar. I'm a big fan of flavoured coffee, so in the evenings I'll have a big mug of my choice. Either rich hazelnut, vanilla, double chocolate, or whatever else I have in my cupboard. And in between I'll have herb or hibiscus tea.

Writing: mornings or evenings?
That depends on my mood. But I'm not a person who gets up at 5am to write 3k. So I guess it's more evenings. Whenever I feel the muse calling.

Why did you choose to write in English?
I live in England, and even though German is my mother tongue, I consider English being my first language. It's a beautiful language and inspiration to write my first novel was after reading an English series. Since I came here over six years ago, I've read only English books, I only speak English, so it was a given to write in English, too. First it was a challenge, then it was just normal. Besides, the English market is far bigger, plus it's easier to get feedback/beta readers.

Writing or editing?
Honestly? Editing. I love helping people 'to see' and watch them as they grow as writers, or see their manuscript improving. It's very rewarding. I hate writing, but I love the accomplishment of having written a book and hearing from readers who enjoyed it. That said, I love writing for one reason: the challenge. Writing keeps my brain active and I always try to explore new ways. I wouldn't be able to stop doing it, because ideas have begun to flood my head regardless of my love/hate relationship with writing.

Editing: first time writers or experienced ones?
I've learned that it's much easier to work with experienced writers. Of course it depends on the writer. I've worked with great first time writers who took my suggestions and advice on board and I knew they have learned for life, but then you have those who are more in need of a tutor than an editor. It can be rewarding, too, but I always give more than I'm paid for. Working with more experienced writers, who know the basics, enables me to sink my teeth into the plot- and character development; basically enables me to do my job.

What is your preferred genre to write in?
Send me a postcard if you find the answer. No, seriously, I have no idea. I think it must be humour as almost everything I write has some humour in it. I wrote the opening (around 1000 words) for a sci-fiction novel, a proper one with space ships and all that, but I've created a robot with a sense of humour due to a faulty module. Excuse me, where is the exit? is plain humour, and the Branded series is paranormal romance, but with plenty of funny scenes, too; and 5-Minute Tea Break Stories has a few funny tales in it as well. I can write serious things, though. The thriller is not funny and another finished novel leans more towards literary fiction. The next few planned books (apart from the sci-fi) are all more on the serious side.

What are you working on at the moment?
Due to readers' demand, I'm writing the third book in the Branded series. I initially didn't plan a third book and after the sales of No Wings Attached and Candlelight Sinner were more than disappointing, I'd written the books off as 'must try harder' and concentrated on other ideas I had. Somehow, I must have unconsciously wanted a third book as the ending of book two suggests there's room for more, then readers kept sending me messages, asking if there's another one, so I gave in. I'm just at the beginning, but it should be an exciting read when I've finished. There'll be romance, cooking, friendship, hate, fights and tears.

Do you prefer stand alone novels or series?
I haven't read that many series lately. I read them a lot as a kid/teen, but stand alone books as an adult. If I like a series or get hooked, I'm happy to read the lot of them.
In terms of writing, I definitely prefer stand alone novels. Series require a lot of imagination, something I sadly lack. It's hard work to write them, that, I know from own experience. You need to be careful to not bore 'old' readers, but introduce the cast to 'new' ones if they accidentally grab the second or third book. It's requires a lot of brain wracking.

You say you have or only little imagination. How do you go about writing?
When an idea hits me, I let it brew for a while, then run through some options in my head, walking some ways to see where it may lead. I normally won't start before I know the major turning points, the very rough draft, if you will and if the idea becomes like a film before my inner eye, I know it's worth writing the opening scenes. I also often know the ending, but anything in between are blind spots. I guess you can say I fly by the seat of my pants. That's why I find it so incredibly difficult, because I never know what's around the corner, but if creativity hits me, I have to walk the way to the next major turning point in my head and see if it fits. It's not easy to explain. Somehow it seems to work. I'm a careful and slow writer, trying to avoid everything I hate when reading.

Erotica seems to be the new black, anything planned in that genre?
To make it simple: yes. I have an idea and wrote the opening. But no, it's not another Fifty Shades of Grey, it will play far more with the attraction and longing for each other.

Well, now that was interesting. I thank myself for my time. 

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The book is here, the book is here!

Actually, it arrived on Tuesday and since then I've eyed it, stroked it, longed to read it. But I was beta reading someone else's book and therefore couldn't start with it. Tonight's the night and I can't wait to be honest. It's the first time I re-read a book I've read in my teens and I wonder if I'll feel the same as I felt back then.
It'll also be strange because I read it in German, but will now read the original title. Should be quite interesting. I'll report when I'm done.

On the subject of reading: as I mention above I was beta reading for someone and had to give up, because it became a chore almost halfway through. Although the writer had told me I should stop whenever I feel it's getting too much, etc., and I tell my beta readers the same, I still feel awful. Beta reading is about helping, not about judging, right? You know it's not a finished or polished manuscript. It only had very few errors, that was not the reason. It was the story that didn't appeal to me. Even when you read a draft of a story, you should be able to at least enjoy it, I think. No point slogging through something you can't immerse in. At least I wouldn't want anyone to read my books if they don't enjoy it and, thankfully, I never had anyone return a book. Well, okay, my friend who fell asleep at chapter four of one of the manuscripts I'm still tinkering with, and therefore refused to read more, which is fair enough. Since she has some difficulties getting to sleep at the moment, I 'prescribed' her said manuscript, maybe it'll do the job again. haha.

Funnily enough, after I did a big rewrite (another one) of the beginning, she suddenly loved it. Scary, that is. She read all my books and loved them all; even fell in love with the gory thriller, and she doesn't do gory (who can blame her? Not my thing either, but writing it, let me tell you that, is a lot of fun.). At the moment, she's reading the third book in the Branded series, which I'm currently writing. It's a lot of pressure after two fabulous first books and I already know that I have to rework the beginning, but I'm now back with Tom, Celia, Sam, Jimmy and Adam, back in the kitchen, back to deal with the dark force. It'll have the usual romance, humour, cooking and fights with the Dark Side, as well as twists and turns. The last book in the series will hopefully be as entertaining and enjoyable as the other books. I'll try my very best, I promise.

Monday, 14 January 2013

And the WAR of the Indies continues ...

Yes, that's right. Do you remember the tagging WAR I had last year in May, when I was falsely accused of having an author's book tagged with inappropriate tags in German (because it could only have been me, for I'm German. Yeah, right.) I reported about this here.
Well, recently I was told that he's still onto it and I looked at the forum where said author, as expected, was tangled up in a hostile argument, again throwing abusive comments at people.
I quickly popped by to set the record straight, without talking to my 'stalker', but mentioning that he's got a reputation for being rude and abusive in his comments. He was pulled up for spamming the fora, although he knew about the MOA and that plugging is not permitted anywhere else, then said it was an honest mistake, which I don't believe. I mentioned that I have a strong suspicion that he's partaking in download and review exchanges. Looking at his reviews and then the authors who wrote them, one will find that this was a mutual agreement. Something I'm strictly against. This was a few weeks ago.

This person has now gone and left a review for my Rage against the Indie book, but only on the .com site, although he lives in the UK. It reads as if it was just posted in spite and not as if he's read it. In fact, both 1-star reviews do.

Here it is:
This offering was a load of outdated nonsense. i couldn't decide whether the author needed a pram, a nurse or a shrink. A rant maybe for the sake of hearing her own voice over and over again. It spoke of nothing new, it was at least insulting to anyone with an iota of intelligence. Where to place a comma, you will put your full stop here and not there was laughable. i was robbed, or should i say conned. 

How can you be conned if you didn't buy the book? I suspect he didn't put the review up on the UK site, because it would show that it's not a verified purchase. As you know I'm quite cool and laid back about negative reviews so, again, I'm asking you to not do anything about it. I find every person with common sense can see that it was just pay back and nothing else. The review is from a person who once said to me I should go back to Germany, because that's where I belong!
This is Indies for you, Ladies and Gentlemen. I'm not upset, but I'm annoyed and if this doesn't stop, I'll take further action. This is beyond having a normal disagreement, this is sabotage. And that's one reason why authors get their reviews deleted, because people use the system for childish revenge and authors, understandably, are not having any of it.
I don't have a problem with people hating my books, that happens, but if someone tries to deliberately harm me, that's where I draw the line.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Update on the Blogger front

As some of you may know, I gave up my old blog address by changing the URL to stella deleuze rants, and then, realising that my account must have been hacked, deleted the old account entirely and transferred the blog to a new one. The people who hacked into my account were cheeky enough to grab the old address, plus content and named it Stella Deleuze rants, which is quite infuriating. That's the reason why I named this blog Stella Deleuze rants and other topics.

I have reported this copyright infringement to Blogger and they are investigating. They got back to me saying they're onto it and asked me to provide more details. I have given the information they needed and am hoping that the twin blog, which is not mine (anymore), will be deleted.

Interestingly, I thought nobody would be able to do anything with a funny address like Words by Stella Deleuze, but someone grabbed it as soon as it was free (I discovered it the next day), imported the content of  my whole blog, and posted some incoherent stuff about online insurances. That is not my post, and anyone who knows my style, should have noticed. My friend was rather confused, so were probably a lot of followers.

What I've learned from this? Post about an address change to notify followers, keep/reserve the old address, or, if you change to a new account, delete the old one entirely. Saves you a lot of grief.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Are you a review whore?

Something I forgot to mention in Rage against the Indie is the constant moaning of authors to not get any reviews. They will say, I've given my books away for free (just out of interest, what do your normally charge when you give your books away?), and I still don't get any reviews. Whine, whine, whine!
First of all, if you call it promo, then treat it like a promotion; that means you give the books away as a marketing tool.
The aim of a promotion should be to spread the word about your books, to generate interest for your other work, in short: it's an introduction of your name. That's all there is to it.
Authors keep expecting readers to fulfil a contract they didn't sign. I've seen many comments--angry comments--saying that a review is the least authors could expect in return for a free book. Nonsense. It's a present from you to the reader and nothing else.
There's only one occasion when you can expect something in return: that's when you give books to reviewers in exchange for a review. There's an agreement on both sides..
If I'm entirely honest, I'd rather have ten readers tell their friends about my books, so that they go and buy them, too, than ten reviews and no further sale.
And I wish authors would stop saying they want the feedback from readers; it's curling my toes. It's not that I don't like hearing from readers, particularly if they loved my books, for it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. It's nice to know when people like what I've sweated over, but if they hate it and leave negatives reviews, does it make me stop writing? No, it doesn't. When I hit the publish button I'm 100% behind the book and confident that it's a good book, not some kind of drivel.
I'm an author, it's my job to create a story readers can enjoy. I put my heart and soul, and all my knowledge into my books, and if someone comes along who happens to dislike my them, I'm not going to fall apart. Those reviews are not for me anyway; they're for potential buyers who still have to make a decision. Reviews are like buses: you wait for a long time, and then they come in bulk. I'm always grateful to see them arrive, but I don't expect them. If they come, I use them for marketing purposes, but I won't take any notice regarding my writing. Everyone's a critic; and I'm the most critical one when it comes to my own books.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Go on, make your books better

And you can even do that with my little book Rage against the Indie. It's free today and tomorrow and it's aimed at helping people to edit their manuscripts before they rush to publish. Something I've done in the past, and it's not something I'd recommend.

It also contains a rant about authors' behaviour on social media sites. Go on, have a giggle with ol' Stella Deleuze.

Amazon UK
And on all other Amazon sites.

And when I checked the ranking on today (yes I do that), I even found this little gem of a new 1-star review:

Why would anybody think the world needs a book by an indie author ranting and slavering about how indie authors suck?
You can read this stuff all over the web, often done much better.
It's tapering off now that people are starting to get the message that things in publishing have changed and they aren't in charge of putting the toothpaste back in the tube... and now somebody thinks we need a book about it.

Guess what? We don't.

By the way, I have never written a negative review of a book before. There was never a need to until now. I just ignore books that suck. But this one sucks aggressively and harmfully.