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Waiting For Daybreak Blog Tour: Author’s Wrap-up!

September 1, 2012 3 comments

Wow. It’s hard to believe my first book release blog tour is over.  Overall, this was a very wonderful experience, and I learned a lot about running a tour, which I will share with other indie authors in future posts.  This post though is about Waiting For Daybreak, my future writing, and the wonderful participating bloggers.

I of course was pleased (and relieved) to see that bloggers mostly enjoyed my first novel.  Getting so much feedback and opinions let me see what quips and qualms were personal and what were things to bare in mind for my future books.

So what things did people disagree on?  The ending was mostly loved, although a few people thought it was a bit abrupt.  The length was deemed just right by some and too short by others.  Some people found the level of information about the zombies and amount of horror content just right. Others wanted more.  These are all choices that are ultimately up to the author, and I’m still pleased with the choices I made (or rather with the direction Frieda dictated the story to go).

The one universal quip, and which I admit I have always known is a fault of mine, was a desire for stronger setting/world building.  Although the world is always 100% clear in my mind, I can sometimes struggle to be sure that it is coming through on the page.  I have come up with a few strategies to improve this in future books and appreciate the honest feedback from all the bloggers.

The fact that everyone was so honest means I can trust that the one thing that everyone loved is truly good.  That is character building.  People loved Frieda, and they loved Snuggles.  They found her three-dimensional and well-rounded.  Flawed, aggravating sometimes even, but ultimately understandable.  A few people even mentioned that they came away with more empathy for people with a mental illness.  You guys, this feedback blew me away.  My whole concept and point was to create a main character in a genre book with a mental illness as a way to fight stigma and ableism.  The fact that this worked on any level at all…. Well. It rocked my world.  I hope seeing people talk about relating to Frieda and feeling for her will be an encouragement to people dealing with mental illnesses.  Plus, on a writer’s level, it’s just good to know that I can create deeply flawed characters who are still someone readers can root for.

I couldn’t’ve asked for much more from a blog tour for a debut book.  It’s strong, solid feedback for a first novel.  I know more clearly what I do well and what to keep a closer eye on in my editing process.

In addition to the feedback, I got to get to know a bunch of book bloggers.  I’ve never interviewed an author on my own blog before, and participating in interviews made me see how much fun they can be!  They gave me the chance to explain where my idea came from, clarify some aspects of who I am and how I write, and just connect on a more personal level with my readers.  It was so much fun!  Also having the blogs host giveaways of my book brought it to a broader audience.  It was so nice for me to see who chose to enter the giveaways and why.  I also greatly appreciated the space for guest posts to talk more about my own perspective of my book.  It was all-in-all a very positive experience for me.

One thing that came up repeatedly during the tour was people wondering precisely what mental illness Frieda has.  I honestly didn’t realize people would be so curious about this!  I’ve added an author’s note explaining her mental illness to the ebook versions (although I couldn’t add a note on to the print version).  I will reproduce it here now so those with review copies, giveaway copies, or the print book can satisfy their curiosity. 🙂

Frieda has Borderline Personality Disorder, commonly known as BPD.  The Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV-TR, which psychiatrists use in diagnosing mental illnesses, requires that a person exhibit at least five of the nine symptoms associated with BPD.  Frieda has all except for number one.

The diagnostic criteria are:

“(1) frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

(2) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation

(3) identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self

(4) impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

(5) recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

(6) affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

(7) chronic feelings of emptiness

(8) inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

(9) transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms”

MICHAEL B. FIRST, M.D., ed. 2000. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 4th Ed. (DSM-IV-TR™, 2000). Washington, DC. American Psychiatric Association. ISBN 0-89042-024-6, ISBN 0-89042-025-4. STAT!Ref Online Electronic Medical Library. http://online.statref.com/document.aspx?fxid=37&docid=314. 8/30/2012 12:18:14 PM CDT (UTC -05:00).

For more information on BPD, please see the DSM-IV-TR cited above.

There were two other things everyone wanted to know.  1) will there be a sequel? and 2) what am I currently working on?

I didn’t write Waiting For Daybreak with the intention of it being the start of a series.  But. A few weeks after finishing it, the germ of an idea jumped into my head.  I believe that Frieda’s story is not complete.  There are still many questions, primarily about her family, but also about what she will do with winter coming on.  I do intend to write a sequel addressing these questions.  However, it will require a bit of a road trip or two for research, so it won’t be coming out for at least two years.  It also has to wait for me to finish my current work in progress.

My current work in progress is a dark fantasy.  It is set in the Lovecraft universe and follows four siblings fifteen years after the Dark Ones have taken over Boston.  It will examine many themes, but the primary ones will be sibling relationships and what makes family family.  Each of the siblings will take turns expressing themselves, and I’m very excited about the opportunity to get into four very different minds.  I’ve had a love for Cthulhu for a long time, so I am truly enjoying getting to bury myself in this world.

I think that’s about it for my wrap-up, except for the all-important huge THANK YOU to every single participating blogger!!! Thank you for being willing to accept indie books in general and mine in particular.  Thank you for your honesty in reviewing and positivity in hosting guest posts, interviews, and giveaways.  Thank you for helping my writing to reach a broader audience.  Thank you for everything you did to help make my first blog tour and novel release a success!  There wouldn’t even have been a blog tour without you all, and I look forward to hopefully working with you all again in the future.

Note: If you would like to see the reviews, interviews, and guest posts, please check out the blog tour and reviews page.  It will remain up and be updated with new reviews as they show up, even though the tour is now over.  If you are interested in more of my writing, please check out my publications page.  Thanks!

Friday Fun! (Relaxation and Final Week of Blog Tour Updates)

August 31, 2012 3 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

I had the best weekend last weekend. It included bicycle rides, farm stands, picnics, and listening to a record player. Super relaxing. 🙂  Which is a good thing because this week was orientation for another school (think of them as like departments) at my university.  Busy busy!  I found ways to relax though.  I of course got in my gym time.  I don’t always manage to do spin classes because of how the timing works with my schedule, but I was able to this week.  I was really pleased to see that my leg strength has drastically improved.  My level ten of difficulty used to be gear twelve. Now it’s gear eighteen. Yay!  I also started playing a new videogame this week.  I picked up Donkey Kong Country Returns for my wii.  It’s super fun!  Very old school side-scroller but still integrates the wii motion controllers in well.  I do die a lot in it, but I’ve never been a great videogamer. I just enjoy it.

This was the final week of the Waiting For Daybreak blog tour!  I’ll be posting my author’s wrap-up with thoughts on the tour as a whole a bit later today, but I didn’t want the last week of blogs to miss their weekly wrap-up spotlight.  So let’s get to it!

Just a Lil’ Lost posted a review where she states, “McNeil brings a fresh voice with this zombie apocalypse-type story. She has written a character that is refreshing and different from others I have read.”

Obsessions of  a Library Gurl (who, full disclosure, is my friend but who was able to use her librarian talents to offer a fair, even-handed review), also posted a review stating, “It was an easy read and one I was able to quickly get into.”

Obsessions of  a LibraryGurl also interviewed me. Check that out to hear what I think about zombies as an analogy for rape.

Reflections of a Book Addict posted a review where he states, “In all, it is an awesome read that really gets you in tune with Frieda’s struggle with the undead.”

Reflections of a Book Addict also interviewed me.  Check that out to find out more about my own pets.  Also, comment on the interview post to be entered in the final giveaway of the tour!

And that’s it!  Hard to believe the final week of the tour is over.  Many thank you’s to everyone who helped make the last week varied and exciting!

Also, happy weekends to my blog followers. 🙂

Friday Fun! (Lovecraft Film Fest and Blog Tour Updates)

August 24, 2012 1 comment

Hello my lovely readers!

You might not all know of my love for the Lovecraft universe, but it is intense. I think it is wonderfully creative horror, I love that Lovecraft encouraged other authors to enter and use his world, and I even have a piece of art of Cthulhu rising from the ocean and rocking out on a guitar.  It will probably come as no shock then since I’ve already written about zombies that my next book will be set in the Lovecraftverse.  So it was wonderful timing that a local indie theater, the Brattle, had a Lovecraft film festival last weekend.  Clearly I had to go!  I wasn’t able to make it to every night, but I went the last night (on Sunday) when they showed In the Mouth of Madness, which just so happens to be a John Carpenter film. (You know, the dude who made Escape from New York?)

The cool thing about the Brattle, besides being an indie theater that shows old and new films, is that they sell beer and wine to drink during the movie. How cool is that?! I know. So cool.

So I had a nice beer of some sort and settled in to watch the movie.  It basically is about the dark ones crossing over into our reality due to an opening made by a horror writer named Sutter Cane (who clearly is supposed to be Stephen King).  It was intensely meta, and I loved it!  Highly recommended.

And now it’s time for the weekly Waiting For Daybreak blog tour updates!  There’s only a week left in the tour. Hard to believe, huh?  This was a busy week!

Offbeat Vagabond posted a review where she states, “I would love to see this made into a movie/TV show. This would look and feel great. Waiting For Daybreak will give you such a unique outlook on the world through Frieda’s eyes. Highly recommended.”

Offbeat Vagabond also interviewed me.  Check that out to find out what authors inspire me.  She also is running a giveaway that ends today, so be sure to enter that right away if you want another chance at a free copy!

Mervi’s Book Reviews posted a review stating, “The story’s strength is definitely Frieda who has to confront her inner demons in addition to the zombies. She also doesn’t go the usual way of becoming somehow cured or getting some powers to survive.”

Blood, Sweat, and Books also posted a review where she states, “Waiting For Daybreak has just enough Action, Romance, and Angst to satisfy even the most jaded Zombie fan.  I look forward to reading more from this Author.”

Blood, Sweat, and Books also interviewed me.  Check that out to find out what my favorite quote is.

Paperless Reading posted a review, where he states, “Even though Waiting for Daybreak is a quick read, it has a fully fleshed out story with a fascinating and different lead character and is very entertaining overall.”

Last but not least, An Eclectic Bookshelf posted a review stating, “This was an entertaining post apocalyptic zombie novel that also makes the reader think about how the normalcy of life is relative. It isn’t always a light and easy novel to read due the characters McNeil has utilised but these characters are what make it unique. I think any fan of post apocalyptic survival horror that is after something a little bit different and thought provoking will enjoy this.”

I was also interviewed at An Eclectic Bookshelf.  Check that out to find out what books have had the greatest influence on me.

That’s it for the tour for this week!  Thanks once again to every participating blog!

And to my blog followers, happy weekends!

Friday Fun! (New Book Blogger/Bookstore Opportunity and Blog Tour Updates)

August 10, 2012 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

This was honestly a very long week for me.  Work has been very busy, and I had a couple of stressful personal situations come up.  No worries though. All is well now. 🙂

*knock on wood*

I’m glad I planned ahead and took a vacation day this week.  I went for a very long walk along the Charles just taking in nature and the sounds of summer around me.  Then I went home and baked muffins. By wisely taking downtime moments like this throughout the week, my stress levels weren’t quite so bad.

In any case, today I just want to let my fellow book bloggers know of a new opportunity.  Little Red Reviewer and her friend Darkcargo have taken it upon themselves to start an awesome project entitled Bookstore Bookblogger Connection.  This is entirely a labor of love in which they are attempting to match up book blogger reviews (currently of just scifi and fantasy) to bookstores to be add to their displays.  It’s good publicity for the book bloggers, and a neat new way for bookstores to find books to recommend.  See Little Red Reviewer’s announcement post here, and the official Bookstore Bookblogger Connection website here.

Finally the weekly update for the Waiting For Daybreak blog tour!  This week was slightly busier.

Ellie Hall graciously hosted a guest post in which I explain how the tagline for the tour, “What is normal?” relates to the book.

Eva’s Sanctuary interviewed me. Among other things, you can hear many more details about my busy medical librarian job.

Eva’s Sanctuary also offered a review, stating, “This is a unique zombie tale, but well worth the read. I think you will be quite surprised.”

Last but not least, today Lily Element posted a review, suggesting it to readers, “if you want something different and enjoy zombie books.”

That’s it for this week. Happy weekends all!

Friday Fun! (Into the Woods, Blog Tour Updates)

August 4, 2012 3 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

No, I have not lost my mind. I know today is Saturday.  Yesterday was just too busy to get a Friday Fun post up!

Right after work, I went to MIT where I was meeting a long-time friend (and her new significant other) for dinner followed by a local production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.  I’d seen the recorded Broadway version, but never seen it live.  I was quite excited.

We had Mexican food for dinner (chips and guac ftw) then settled in for the play.  The local folks did quite a good job, showing lots of enthusiasm.  In particular, the women playing the Baker’s Wife and the Witch had superb singing abilities.  The set design was also creative and highly functional.  Most of the set changes from homes to the woods didn’t take long at all.  I also, as always, enjoyed “Hello Little Girl.”  Yes, I know it’s deliciously creepy, that’s the point, eh?

It was so nice to get out to see a show!  I hadn’t in a long time.  I also hadn’t seen my friend in forever, so it was great to catch up.

This was a quieter week in the Waiting For Daybreak blog tour, but still plenty of fun!

Gizmo’s Book Reviews interviewed me.  Check that out to see what celebrity I’d be most distracted by if s/he walked into a restaurant I was in.

Cynthia Shepp hosted a guest post in which I talked about why I chose Boston as a setting.  She also hosted a giveaway, which is now closed. Congrats to the winner!

That’s it!  As I said, a quieter week, but still containing lots of variety.  Both of these ladies were also an entire pleasure to work with.

In other writing/publishing news, I had a short story accepted this week!  It will be out in September.  Check out my publications page for more details.

Happy weekends!

Friday Fun! (In Which I Take Back Up Counted Cross-Stitching and Blog Tour Updates)

July 27, 2012 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

I’ve been trying to keep things kind of quiet in my non-work life right now, since work is so busy with the beginning of the medical school academic year.  So I don’t have too terribly much to tell you except that I now have something besides cooking and cleaning that I’m doing when listening to audiobooks.  I’ve taken back up counted cross-stitching.

I’ve been searching for a crafty/productive hobby for a bit now.  Knitting could only progress as far as scarves before things started to get thrown across the room.  I couldn’t even learn how to do one stitch in crocheting.  I knew I was capable of counted cross-stitching (and embroidery) because it was forced upon me….er, I learned it as a kid.  However, I had this perception of it as being something steeped in old lady and overtly religious patterns.  And then I saw something on tumblr.

It was a counted cross-stitch that quoted Fight Club saying, “Condoms are the glass slipper of our generation,” and had a glass slipper on the bottom.  I about died laughing.  And then I discovered the world of punk stitching, which is what the non-traditional stitchers call it.  I was immediately excited and intrigued.

So I picked up a cross-stitching kit (before getting into designing my own patterns or buying other homemade patterns) to make sure that I wasn’t misremembering my abilities.  After much hunting I found a wintry wolf scene that I thought would go well in my Native American themed bedroom area in my tiny apartment.  I completed 400 stitches the first time I sat down. And I was remembering correctly. This is something I am good at!  This is something that bafflingly relaxes me!  All the counting and organizing that I so adore, and I wind up with prettiness!  I am beyond excited about this rediscovered hobby, as my new pinterest board of patterns probably demonstrates. 🙂

In Waiting For Daybreak blog tour news, this was quite an exciting week!  It’s the fullest week of the tour we’ve had so far, and the variety of blogs visited was super-fun for me.

From Me To You… had previously reviewed my novella, Ecstatic Evil, and I was so glad she agreed to participate in the tour for my new, decidedly not paranormal romance, book.  She conducted an awesome interview with me that features pictures to enhance various answers plus she was the first to ask me who I would cast in a movie as Frieda and Mike.  On the same entry as the interview, she reviews the book, saying, “This is one high-intensity novel that will hold you until the end.”

The Paperback Pursuer offered up a review stating, “I was blown away by Amanda McNeil’s ability to develop such a unique and troubled character who every reader can relate to on some level.”

Kelsey’s Cluttered Bookshelf has an interview with me up where you can find out things like my future writing goals and advice for other writers.  She is also offering a giveaway!

Bookishly Me also has an interview up in which I talk about the research I conducted for the book, among other things.

Last but certainly not least, Fangs for the Fantasy offers up a review from a social justice perspective stating, “But even better than a realistic and well-presented depiction of mental illness, we also have it become a strength in the zombie apocalypse.”

A big thank you again to all of the participants!  I’m so glad folks have been enjoying the tour so far.

Happy weekends!

Friday Fun! (Six Books/Six Months Meme and Blog Tour Updates)

July 20, 2012 5 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

This week I saw a new meme over on Jessica’s blog, The Bookworm Chronicles, and I immediately knew I’d want to participate.  And what better place than in Friday Fun, eh?  The Book Jotter created it after realizing we’re actually halfway through the year already (already!), so the theme is answers to the questions/categories in sixes.

Six New Authors to Me:

  1. S. A. Archer
  2. Kat Falls
  3. Steve Vernon
  4. David Anthony Durham
  5. Brandon Shire
  6. Susan Mallery

Six Authors I Have Read Before

  1. Brian K. Vaughan
  2. Robert Kirkman
  3. Joseph Robert Lewis
  4. Anne Rice
  5. Margaret Atwood
  6. Ann Brashares

Six Authors I Am Looking Forward To Reading More Of:

  1. Tera W. Hunter
  2. Joann Sfar
  3. Richelle Mead
  4. M. J. Rose
  5. Isaac Marion
  6. Roger Thurow

Six Books I Have Enjoyed the Most:

  1. To ‘Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War by Tera W. Hunter (review)
  2. Dark Life by Kat Falls (review)
  3. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (review)
  4. Acacia by David Anthony Durham (review)
  5. Vegan Vittles by Jo Stepaniak (review)
  6. The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change by Roger Thurow (review)

Six Books I Was Disappointed With:

  1. The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice (review)
  2. Living Cuisine: The Art and Spirit of Raw Foods by Renee Loux Underkoffler (review)
  3. Nano House: Innovations for Small Dwellings by Phyllis Richardson (review)
  4. The Child Who by Simon Lelic (review)
  5. To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron (review)
  6. Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson (review)

Six Series of Books Read or Started:

  1. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
  2. Touched by S. A. Archer
  3. Dark Life by Kat Falls
  4. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
  5. Georgina Kincaid by Richelle Mead
  6. The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose

Phew! That was actually pretty tough to assemble. Super fun though! It’s always interesting to see your reading over a period of time summed up in different types of lists.

Now, it’s time for the Waiting For Daybreak blog tour updates (blog tour page)!  This was the first full week of the tour, and it’s really been quite fun so far.

Earth’s Book Nook hosted a guest post in which I talk about why I made “What is normal?” the theme of the novel and tour.  She is also hosting a giveaway!

The Chronicles of an Enamored Soul posted her review, and she said, “The reason it gets FIVE STARS, is because I simply loved how well-realized, and well-developed author McNeil’s characters were, ESPECIALLY Frieda. Amanda writes about mental illness with sensitivity, and yet never fails to make it interesting.”

Tabula Rasa‘s review said, “The book is, on the one hand packed with thrill and action, and on the other, has a very emotional and thought-provoking side. What I really appreciated was how none of it is overdone; I specially liked the subtlety of the relationship between Mike and Frieda.”

Tabula Rasa also hosted an interview!  Be sure to check that out to find out everything from whether plot or characters come first in my writing to what my next project is.

Nicki J Markus also interviewed me.  Check that out to find out what my favorite zombie book and zombie movie are.

Last but not least, Nicki J Markus is also hosting a giveaway.  Two chances to win this week!

Thanks once again to all the participating blogs!

Finally, happy weekends to all my lovely readers!  What did you think of the meme?  Any surprises or thoughts?