Sunday, 20 May 2012

The scene that shaped the book

All writers I know have different approach on creating a book. Some start with a character, others with an idea of a conflict, others with a social issue. Whatever it is, I think that first seed that grows into an idea and later on into a book is very important and shapes the whole book.
I personally start with a scene. It lodges in my mind and I simply can't get rid of it. I replay it over and over until I know every little detail. That's my seed. All it needs now is some water, sunshine and love to grow.
The scene that grew into Humanless is very strange in a sense that it has three people in a dark London street and in the end it turned into a trilogy based on Greek mythology. Weird doesn't even begin to cover it.
It's my favourite scene in the book because there would be no book without it. So, I'd like to share it with you.

Outside was cold and Ava’s jacket was way too thin for that weather. She shivered and wrapped her arms around her. Typical for central London, the street was busy despite the late hour and she looked around for a cab. Every single one that passed by was busy and Ava was getting more and more cold and desperate to go home. She turned a corner towards a smaller street hoping that cabs there weren’t going to be snatched from under her nose by drunk city boys.
“Hey, you need a ride?” asked a male voice next to her. She turned around and saw a middle-aged guy in an expensive suit leering at her. It looked like he had had too many drinks and it crept her out the way he stared at her with hungry eyes.
“No, thanks,” she said as neutrally as possible and turned away.
“You sure?” he said in her ear and she felt nauseated by his breath.
“Pretty sure,” she said and started walking away. He grabbed her arm and pulled her towards him.
“Get in the car and I’ll take you on the ride of your life,” he said and Ava felt his hot, sticky breath on her neck. She hit him in the stomach with her elbow and turned around to face him. He was holding his stomach in pain, his red face puffing and his eyes predatory. “You bitch!” he said through gritted teeth and moved towards her. Suddenly Ava was overcome by hate and disgust for that man who had probably done this before to God knows how many women. And who would probably do it again. She was aware that if she kicked him with her five-inch heel she’d certainly rapture an internal organ.  Which may lead to his death. Was that so bad? Would she be saving the world from an abusive monster or depriving a child of its father?
Her thoughts took no longer than a second but to her it felt like everything was moving in slow motion. Out of nowhere, the man was pushed and pinned to the wall of a nearby shop. Ava saw Blake holding him by the throat a few inches off the ground, the man’s face getting even redder than it was. He tried to scream but Blake’s grip was too tight and all that came out of his mouth was a choking sound. He tried to kick and push away his hand but Blake didn’t budge.
“Blake, please, let him go!” Ava ran towards them realizing that he was going to kill him any moment now.
“Why?” he asked without taking his eyes off the man’s face. “He was probably going to rape and kill you himself.”
“But he didn’t. I can defend myself.”
“What about all those other women who can’t?” Blake was saying aloud exactly what Ava was thinking. She didn’t feel any pity or concern for the man, but knew in her heart that if he died that night because of her she wouldn’t be able to accept it.
“Let him go!” she screamed and pushed Blake with all the strength she could muster. That seemed to have shaken him out of his rage and he loosened his grip although not completely letting go. The man took a few sharp intakes of breath and his normal colour began to reappear. For the first time Blake looked directly at Ava and she noticed that his eyes had changed to a very pale blue, not his usual dark navy. She noticed that he seemed confused and for a moment he looked at her with a tenderness she had never noticed before.
“He’s not worth it,” she said softly and touched his arm. Blake turned his attention to the man who was watching them with unbearable horror in his eyes. He didn’t look drunk any more.
“If you even think about hurting anybody else ever again remember this moment. Remember that I spared your life. And don’t make me regret it,” said Blake and threw the man to the ground in disgust. He immediately stood up and ran. Blake turned around to face Ava who had wrapped her arms around herself and was shivering uncontrollably, more from shock than cold. He took off his jacket, draped it over her shoulders and, on an impulse, pulled her towards him and hugged her. She rested her head right under his shoulder and willed herself to stop shivering.
“Did I scare you?” he asked.
“No,” she replied. “I knew you were a show-off already.” He felt her smiling against his skin. He smiled too.
“Nothing good ever comes from running away from me,” Blake said, referring to her storming out of the restaurant. Ava smiled again and felt her whole body relax against his. Sensing that, his arms tightened around her and she could hear his heartbeat quicken. “Come on, let’s get you home safely,” he said and she reluctantly separated herself from him.

Friday, 18 May 2012

First free promotion day results

So, the first free promotion of Humanless is over and I want to share my experience with everyone who's thinking of publishing with KDP Select. It's the first free day that I've ever done and I'm more than happy with the results - 648 downloads in just a day! Humanless went from 3486 to 4 in Contemporary Fantasy section! But more importantly, this means that 648 people will read my book (hopefully)! That's been my goal from the start - make my book widely available for people to actually read. I'm not in it solely for the money - I've had my fair share of well-paid jobs which I didn't enjoy. I'm in it for the long run - I want people to read my books, enjoy them and help me grow as a writer.
That was why I decided to go with KDP Select. I don't care if most of my downloads are on the free days, on the contrary. I'm ecstatic that so many people got my book. A lot of people on forums and blogs disapprove of giving away books for free - I even had a comment how those 648 downloads could have been paid and I could have made a lot of money from it. True, if that's your goal. Mine is to entertain people with my writing.
Don't get me wrong here, I'd love it if my books start making money so that I can actually pay a bill or two. But that's not a priority for me at this time.
I'd recommend KDP Select wholeheartedly. Try it, even just for the first 3 months, I'm sure that it would be worth it in the end. After all, what good is a book gathering dust on a virtual bookshelf with nobody to read it even if you make money with every download?
On another note, competition for winning some wonderful prizes is still open - check previous post for details and a photo of some of the prizes.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

HUMANLESS is FREE today only!

Hey, guys, just wanted to let you know that HUMANLESS is free only TODAY on Amazon. Head over there to get your copy. If you are in the UK, you can download it HERE ; if you are in the USA or anywhere else in the world, download your copy HERE.
Also, I'm giving away some fabulous prizes:

 For a chance to win, all you have to do is download HUMANLESS between today and Sunday (17 May - 20 May) and tweet about it, tagging me @Teodora_Kostova or RT one of my own tweets. I'll announce the winners on Monday on Twitter. Let the odds be in your favour! (Sorry, couldn't resist. Good luck!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Books vs Movies

Quite recently, my husband watched me as I sighed in frustration after watching yet another bad movie, wasting 2 hours of my life. “I’m never watching another movie that wasn’t a book first,” I said. Because recently, most movies based on books have been quite good, even if not following the story of the book exactly. And most other films have been a complete disappointment. Of course, there are exceptions to both statements, but I’ve been finding myself liking films based on books, even if initially I didn’t know they were. And when I find out there’s a book somewhere that inspired the film, something inside my head clicks with big, lit-up letters “Ahhh”.
So I decided to list the book-movies that I enjoyed a lot, and get feedback from others on what they liked/disliked in the film industry recently, and why.


Book: I’m not a fan of Nicholas Sparks. I have read just one of his books, and even though I liked it, I never bought another. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know. I just didn’t. Imagine my surprise when the only book of his I have ever read became a big screen movie-wonder. More on that later. The book was nice. That’s how I’d describe it. Maybe that’s the reason why I didn’t get another – it was simply nice. A good story (although nothing we’ve never read before); likeable characters; strong male lead who’s solely created to make women day-dream; enough love and action scenes to keep us turning the pages. Did I fall in love with this book? No. But it was nice. If it was a man I’d never call him again, though.
Movie: The film stole my heart in a way the book couldn’t. For some reason, besides the obvious, it was visualized better. And do I have to even point out that it was the movie that made Zac Efron officially legal to fancy?
Book vs Movie: Ignore what I’ve just said because what I’m going to say contradicts it entirely. I preferred the book. The story in it was much more complicated, much more captivating and engaging. What was left from it in the film was the title and the characters’ names. And Nicholas Sparks’ name. The movie was stripped down from everything that I liked about the book, and to avoid spoilers I’m not going to say what exactly, but I was kind of disappointed. Not by the film itself, like I said I loved it, but by the fact that it was a completely different story. With Zac Efron in it *sigh*.
Book 1 Movie 1

                                       TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE
Book: The book was amazing! It took me a while to get used to it in a sense that it skips between view points, future, past and present every few pages but once I got the hang of it, it drew me in. I loved it! It was emotional, it was romantic, it kept me awake so many nights and made me miss so many bus stops…
Movie: For some reason I didn’t like the film. It wasn’t the story so much (they kept nearly every bit), it wasn’t the actors (I love Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana a lot), it wasn’t the visualization… I don’t know what went wrong but it couldn’t connect with me the way the book did.
Book vs Movie: Definitely the book. Reading it, you truly transport to another time and place, just like the time-traveling character. With the movie you are stuck in your chair looking at your watch.
Book 1 Movie 0


Book: The whole series is so good, it makes me not want to be a writer anymore because I don’t feel I can ever produce something this good. I don’t remember the last time I was so engaged in a story. Katniss is an incredible character who can easily carry the weight of 3 books on her shoulders. Both of her supporting male characters are strong too, although for me Peeta has more charisma and charm than Gale. Suzanne Collins has truly created an amazing world in her books which I’m sure will stay in the heart of everybody who’s read it forever and in history as an all time young adult classic.
Movie: So far we’ve seen the first part of the trilogy but I think that’s enough to have an opinion on what’s to come. The film was awesome! It followed the book to the letter. I was so afraid the they’d change it, make it more wider-audience-friendly. But they didn’t and I think they made the right choice. Does this have anything to do with the fact that Suzanne Collins executive produced it? I don’t know. The only think that I felt a bit odd about was Peeta. For some reason he didn’t fit with what I’d imagined. I can’t put my finger on it, but the Peeta in my imagination was very different. Let’s hope he’ll evolve in the next installment. You’d say that the characters portrayed on the big screen usually don’t match the ones we’ve imagined while reading, but I’d say that Katniss was exactly as I imagined her. Big applause for the film makers.
Book vs Movie: Honestly, I couldn’t chose. And luckily I don’t have to! Now that we have both and they are fantastic, we can easily enjoy them both while waiting for the second film.
Book 1 Movie 1


Book: I read all 4 books right after the big craze started and after I’d seen the first film which took quite a bit away from me. I already had the characters shaped up for me, at least in appearance. I don’t know if I’d read the books before I’d seen the movie I’d have imagined Edward differently. Probably. But I do know that Robert Pattinson makes a great Edward. Nobody can stare lovingly in Bella’s eyes longer than he does; nobody can have that torn, pained expression on all the time and still look sexy; nobody can wear lipstick and still make girls scream his name. OK, settle down, I’m kidding. I think he does a good job as Edward. Having said that, Edward is not a very strong character. If you take Bella away from him, he wouldn’t be able to stand on his own two feet. He wouldn’t be able to carry the whole series himself. As for Bella, I find her quite annoying. That is not such a bad thing because at least she IS something. So many characters out there don’t have anything going for them – the reader forgets them the moment they close the book. I must admit, I found the books engaging but I still can’t pinpoint what is it exactly that makes them so popular…
Movie: I loved the first movie. It was beautifully shot with every detail in consideration. It was exactly as the book, which I think was the wise thing to do since if it wasn’t, there would have been teen riots and global chaos. The next movies weren’t so good. Let’s face it – they just weren’t! They were following the books to the letter, that’s true, but sometimes that’s not enough. I hated New Moon, tolerated Eclipse and managed to stay awake during Breaking Dawn Part 1 (which is quite an achievement – I’m known for falling asleep at the movies! And at the Formula 1 circuit. But that’s another story). Let’s hope that Breaking Dawn Part 2 will be a good film and finish the series with a full circle.
Book vs Movie: I’ll have to chose the books. Although I loved the first film, the rest of them were not good enough. The books have an atmosphere that wasn’t caught in the last 3 films. The first one caught it perfectly and I think the biggest mistake the producers made was fire Catherine Hardwicke who is a brilliant director and truly understood what the books were about and why so many people loved them.
Book 4 Movie 1


Books: I love all the Shopaholic books! They are so funny and so sweet! I felt very uplifted after I’d read them and have always thought they would make a great movie. Becky is such a lovingly irritating character that I thought she’d be perfect for keeping the action going in a film. How wrong was I…
Movie: It turned out – very! How is this possible? How can you take a wonderful book, an amazing female lead, fully developed over several books, and turn it into such a disaster? I don’t even remember what was so horrible about that film, but I vividly remember cringing on more than one occasion. No wonder nobody ordered a sequel…
Book vs Movie: The books, hands down.
Book 6 Movie 0


Book: Or 12. I started reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels when  season 3 was on TV. Again, I was robbed of imagining what the characters would look like but when you’ve got Alexander Skarsgard and Stephen Moyer in your head all the time, who’s complaining? The books are very good – action packed to the brim. I managed to read all 11 in a week or so, I literally couldn’t put them down.
Movie: True Blood must be one of my all time favourite TV shows. I love everything about it. Even the fact that it doesn’t have anything to do with the books! And I mean nothing. I know a lot of Sookie Stackhouse books fans have been complaining about it, but the way I see it everybody wins. You can read the books and watch the show and still enjoy both without any spoilers! Should I remind you of Skarsgard and Moyer again? Naked? No? Thought so.
Book vs Movie: I can never choose. They are both good in their own right. Seriously, read the books if you like the show and the vice versa. They have very little in common but are equally good.
Book 1 Movie 1

To sum up, the books have definitely won according to the score. But, as much as I like reading and often prefer it to watching TV, I think our lives are enriched by having films as well as books even if they tell the same story, and sometimes because of it. So, which are your favourite books turned into movies?

Monday, 7 May 2012

Launch Party Day!

Hey, everyone, head over to facebook for Humanless Launch Party now! It will be live all day, with lots of music, competitions, prizes and fun! Here's a taste of the prizes - that's just some of them, I couldn't get them all in the picture:

All you have to do for a chance to win a prize is to tweet about the book, including a link to Amazon - - and tag me in it so that I can see it @Teodora_Kostova. The competition will be open for 3 days (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) and I'll announce the winners on Twitter on Friday. Good luck everyone!
I'll really appreciate everybody who takes part and I'll try to send everyone who tweeted a small prize. It's really important to me that people support indie writers and we stick together as a community.
Thank you so much!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Humanless Launch Party

I've got some exciting news to share with you - "Humanless" is all ready to publish! The Launch Party will be on Monday 07/05/2012 on the facebook page. I can promise you a lot of fun and many prizes to be won. Can't wait!
I still can't believe this is happening. After all I've been through, this moment seemed like an unreachable dot in the future. There were times that I thought I'd never see the dot up close; times when I felt I should give up, because everything was against me. But I didn't and the dot is an arm length away.
Although this is only the beginning and there is a lot more to achieve, I feel it's an important milestone. I'm so excited and scared at the same time! It's an amazing feeling.
I hope to see you at the Launch Party and share this incredible moment with you!