Supporting my local Library

Being able to support my local library by donating a couple of copies of Here Lies Love was a great honour. The press came along and took some pictures, and you know what, I quite liked the photo they published. I’m not very photogenic you see, but for some reason, the picture didn’t make me feel embarrassed. What do you think?

HLL Donate

Not too long ago, I was asked by author Jack Croxall to take part in his What do libraries mean to you? debate. You can head on over there to see what my local library did for me. It was really important for me to take part in both the discussion as well as donating to my library as over here in the UK (for all you guys who aren’t aware) the government is cutting grants and funds that are needed by the library. In my county alone, a good chunk of local libraries are under threat to shut their doors for good.

SaveLincsLibraries is a campaign over on twitter. Please follow them and give your support. The next generation could miss out on the cultural and social input libraries offer. It would mean a lot. Thank you.

Now, back to my writing. I’m currently writing the sequel to The Black Petal.

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Guest Post: Just One Reason You Will Love Scrivener by Rebecca Bradley

Before we get to today’s fantastic guest post by emerging crime writer Rebecca Bradley, I just wanted to ask my fabulous readers if they’d go over to Goodreads and vote for my upcoming YA Fantasy novel The Black Petal on a list called UKYA in 2015. It showcases some of the most anticipated young adult and teenage novels being released in 2015. The higher up we can get The Black Petal, the more reach it will have. You have my eternal thanks in exchange :)

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Just One Reason You Will Love Scrivener by Rebecca Bradley

 

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In 2013 I did a post on why I was starting to use Scrivener.

I attempted to use it last year. I downloaded the trial. Had a couple of sessions with it and gave up. I liked the idea of what it could do, but, practically, working in it, I just couldn’t do it. It didn’t feel right. I was used to having a full blank page in front of me. This however was a full open piece of software.

I’ve since changed my mind.

It is a complex, or should I say, fully functional piece of software for a writer, having anything you could possibly need, right at your fingertips. I have seen multiple posts on why people love Scrivener and why you should try it, so I thought I would let you know why I use it and the freedom it has recently given me in my writing life.

Just one reason I love it and will stick with it from now on.

You know how if you’re working on a word document, you work in a straight line? Sometimes you could write the ending earlier than you get to it if you know what it’s going to be, but you save it somewhere else maybe, but other than that, you’d be left with folders all over if you tried to do anything other than write in a straight line.

Well, that’s just what I’m loving about Scrivener. The internal folder system that lets you drag and drop them around at will and then compile them in a straight line when you’re ready. I found that at times I would get stuck in a place and I’d sit there staring at the screen with no word output, but because of this wonderful ability of the folder system, and the fact that I have a full synopsis so know what is happening, I can move on to a scene/chapter that my mind at that point in time feels it wants to work on. So this way, I am always writing. I’m currently working on all the chapters for one of the threads of the story because my heart is there right now. I can move them all into the right places as the rest of the story progresses. I’m not confined. I’m free to write what I want, when I want to. It’s liberating, my word count steadily rises and my story progresses because of this. I think I’d find it extremely difficult to write a first draft in a word document now.

If you’re not using Scrivener, you can get it on a free trial. It’s worth taking a look. Anything to keep those words and that story moving forward.

Rebecca Bradley has an engaging and insightful blog that you must check out.

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Fuzzy Hedgehog Press Accepting Submissions

A small update to kick things off today, which is that 600 people have now added Here Lies Love to their Goodreads shelf. This is the most I’ve ever had before, and I really hope it means people will remember the book and buy it sometime down the line. If you haven’t added it yet, you can do so here. There is also an upcoming Review Blog Tour coming up soon and if you haven’t bought the book yet, you will be able to read the reviews and see what others think. Across different sites (and not counting the same reviews) Here Lies Love has 8 FIVE STAR REVIEWS ***** which is absolutely amazing. I can’t thank people enough for their support and kindness.

You guys rock!

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Fuzzy Hedgehog Press Accepting Submissions

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I know that many of my readers are also writers, novice writers and wannabeAKA The Summer writers. I feel that it is my duty in bringing certain information to you that can better help your move forward in the industry. Which brings me on to, well, exactly what the title suggests. Fuzzy Hedgehog Press is currently accepting submissions for novellas and full-length novels. I have read quite a few Fuzzy Hedgehog Press books now, including A. Ka’s Isaac the Fortunate series, as well as Zachary Bonelli’s Voyage: Embarkation and Alterra. And let me tell you, their finish and quality is superb. Even though you could say it is a small independent publisher, it is the perfect opportunity for someone to get involved and get their début out there! FHP publish both ebooks and paperbacks of their novels across many mulitple forms and retailers’ websites, which include Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, Nook, Kobo and The Book Depository. They also distribute their books through local bookstores, getting involved in the local community and presenting Q & As too. As someone who reads a lot of their books, you may never know, I could be reading yours in the near future.

Before I give you the link, I want to provide you with the submission details, guidelines and information (which I have silently and stealthily stolen borrowed from their website).

What FHP Accept

Fuzzy Hedgehog Press is a publisher of weird speculative fiction for all orientations. If your story could be classified as fantasy or science fiction, we are interested. If the terms “new weird” or “slipstream” apply, even better.

We are open to stories that feature LGBT characters as well as those that do not. We are, however, wary of heteronormative societies and gay characters who function solely as a sidekick or best friend. We respect our LGBT characters’ whole lives.

We do not publish works that are strictly romance (though we remain open to cross-genre submissions). We do not publish any form of erotica.

Speculative Fiction Novella or Novel

AlterraFrontCover_600x914What do you notice about the world? A great speculative fiction novel is about seeing our real world in a way that most people don’t, and then using the strange and weird to help others see what you see. Show us your vision for what the world really is. Let us in on what you think is orderly or chaotic or real or unreal or ethical or immoral or right or wrong, with everything and anything in between.

Interested? Here are some of the submission guidelines:

  • If submitting a novella, word count should be between 17,500 words and 39,999 words in length.
  • If submitting a novel, word count should be between 40,000 words and 100,000 words in length.

You will find the full guidelines over on their submissions page, which you should read and follow very thoroughly. When I speak to agents and publishers, one of their pet-hates is when applicants do not follow the simple guidelines. I’m not sure when submissions close again so best get your writing boots and polish everything up now. And besides, you can’t say no to the hedgehog, can you?

Click here to visit the Submissions page on FHP!

Good Luck!

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Introducing a New Talent in the Children’s Genre

My small news update is that I get a small feature in the upcoming issue of Writing Magazine, where I talk about Here Lies Love, my inspiration behind the book, as well as my recent signing to Ghostly Publishing with The Black PetalIt would make a great souvenir!

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Introducing a New Talent in the Children’s Genre

Tony gilbert GPWriting for younger children is hard; it certainly isn’t something I could do, let me tell you. No my audience is a little older. I don’t think I have the ability to hold a young person’s mind. But let me tell you someone who does have that rare ability! Tony Gilbert. I am constantly amazed by his writing process and his skill at creating stories that make children laugh and be creative. I buy all his books for my daughter Autumn, and she just loves them. They are catchy, rhythmical and utterly memorable, which is a must for children’s books. The author’s mind must be a humongous cloud of all things creative, because his books are always so imaginative and clever.

His latest book, Doodeedoo has just been released by Visionary Press. Tony worked in cahoots with his lovely wife on this project, who provided the unique and raw illustrations for the book. It really is quite unique, as it strips all the clever computer graphics and photoshop nonsense and returns to the basic hand-drawn colourings of someone who brings to life Doodeedoo, the puppet who is made of socks and superglue.

When it came in the post, I couldn’t wait to give it to Autumn, as she is quite independent now in practising  her phonics. I let her read the book to me first, before I reread it back to her. The books is ingenious – full of rhythm and rhyme in  equal measure, playfully skipping from one page to another. When read aloud, the book turns into a playful episode, which had my daughter in fits of laughter. It is easy to see the moral and links in the story of never judging a book by its cover, or more rather never judging another before you get to know them, but despite its obviousness to us adults, I think it rather hidden for its child audience, which is great as it will linger in their heads and hopefully, gently, coerce them into making the rights choices themselves.

 

This is the tale of Doodeedoo Doodeedoo artwork
Who was made of socks and superglue 
By a little mouse with tiny paws, 
Red painted lips, and well-trimmed claws. 

She’d read a book called Frankenstein 
But never passed page 109, 
And as she said, “I’ll have a go!” 
The mouse picked up some thread to sew… 

And so the tale goes, A fun story for children, written in rhyme and a lesson in not judging a book by its cover.

 

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If your child has difficulty reading, or loves hearing based reading, then this fantastic book is also available in audiobook too! Imagine having the paperback book in hand as well as the audio playing at the same time to really liven up the room. Trust me, this will be a sure fire fav for children of 4,5 and up. The Audiobook is narrated by Chris Barnes and is available from Amazon or Audible. You’ll be able to listen to an audio sample there too!

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My August Reading List

Since my last post, I’ve received two new reviews of Here Lies Love I wish to share with you. The first is from Faye from Bookshelf Butterfly, which you can read here. She writes:

“It’s serious and at times a little bleak, but there is meaning and hope if you hold out for it. If you do like dystopian fiction and have a leaning towards the darker side of storytelling, then Here Lies Love is the book for you.”

I also received a three star review from Compelling Reads, which you can read here. They write:

“Overall though the story has a great arc and a few twists to keep the reader engaged on Abbey’s journey.  A warning though the story does deal with some dark concepts so it’s not one for the young or sensitive reader.”

It doesn’t matter if I receive a three star review, a five star review or a two star review, somebody taking the time to read my work and reviewing it is important in getting my book heard. OK, I may not like a two star review, but I can face facts that some people won’t find something in my books.

On a plus point, over 500 people have added Here Lies Love to their Goodreads To-Read shelf. Why not give me an early birthday present and join them by adding the book to your Goodreads To-Read list or Amazon Wishlist?

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My August Reading List

One of the most important things an author can do, apart from writing that is, is reading. I know some people who tell me, in no uncertain terms, quit readin’ and get writin’! But let me tell you, reading keeps the mind nimble, promotes imagination as well as stopping that notorious of enemies at bay: Writer’s Block. You aren’t stealing ideas by reading, but it does help your mind along, to help connect the dots if you are particularly struggling with an aspect about your next writing project.

And besides, I enjoy reading. And what perfect excuse is there, but to get a book out and enjoy yourself?

There has been a many new books released this past month, but the great thing about books is that they are timeless. It doesn’t matter when they were released, whether it be ten years ago, ten months ago or even ten days ago. If you haven’t read a book before, they are still new to you.

Here are the books recently added to my To Read List:

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

The Book of life coverFall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in the stunning climax to their epic tale, following A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES and SHADOW OF NIGHT.

A world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.

After travelling through time in SHADOW OF NIGHT, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchant­ing series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home in France they reunite with their families – with one heart-breaking exception. But the real threat to their future is yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on a terrifying urgency. Using ancient knowl­edge and modern science, from the palaces of Venice and beyond, Diana and Matthew will finally learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

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Painting Death by Tim Parks

Morris Duckworth has a dark past. Having married and murdered his way Painting death coverinto a wealthy Italian family he has long left aside the paperweight and the pillow to become a respected member of Veronese business life. But it’s not enough.

Never satisfied with being anything short of the best, he comes up with a plan to put on the most exciting art exhibition of the decade, based on a subject close to his heart: killing. All the great slaughters of scripture and classical times will be on show, from Cain and Abel, to Brutus and Caesar. But as Morris meet stiff resistance from the Neapolitan director of Verona’s Castelvecchio museum, everything starts to unravel around him. His children are rebelling, his mistress is asking for more than he wants to give, his wife is increasingly attached to her ageing confessor, and worst of all it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the ghosts that swirl around him, and the skeletons rattling in every cupboard. The shame of it is that Morris Arthur Duckworth really did not want to have to kill again.

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Realm of Blood and Fire by Dionne Lister

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The final exciting book in The Circle of Talia series. While the realmists watch, powerless to intervene, the gormons lay waste to Talia, city by city, moving closer to Vellonia each day. As the final battle nears, The Circle can’t meet the conditions of the prophecy, and hope is dwindling. But even if they can unite Talia, the prophecy demands that someone will be sacrificed. Can Bronwyn and Blayke do what they must — destroy those they love to save their world?

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Driftwood From the Specific by AP Gilbertdriftwood from the specific cover

 

Direct from the mind of A. P. Gilbert, ‘Driftwood from the Specific’ is a fantastically diverse collection of short stories and poems. Serial killers, through mysterious illnesses and all the way to ‘The Wall’, this collection is sure to grip, amuse and entertain. From a simple ditty to a short tale, it will soon become a favourite accompaniment to your moments of idle.

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Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A Thompson

take me tomorrow coverTwo years after the massacre, the State enforces stricter rules and harsher punishments on anyone rumored to support tomo – the clairvoyant drug that caused a regional uprising. 

But sixteen-year-old Sophia Gray has other problems. Between her father’s illegal forgery and her friend’s troubling history, the last thing Sophia needs is an unexpected encounter with a boy. 

He’s wild, determined, and one step ahead of her. But when his involvement with tomo threatens her friends and family, Sophia has to make a decision: fight for a future she cannot see or sacrifice her loved ones to the world of tomorrow.

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So, tell me. What books are on your reading list?

That’s all for now, folks. I’ll leave you with a problem I’ve been having lately …

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Do Men Read Romance and Chick Lit?

Before I begin today’s post, I’d like to share with you all that I recently talked to Infinite House of Books about Here Lies Love. You can read the interview here – go on, you know you’d like to. I talk about my writing ideas and what advice I would give to wannabe writers looking to get involved in the industry.

I’ve also had a press photo taken to promote my latest release and donating books to my local library. And, in fact, there are two copies now available in my local library. If you visit your own library often, you can request the book by simply talking to the librarian.

HHL library pic

 

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Do Men Read Romance and Chick Lit?

 

I guess the first instinctive answer from probably 99% of male readers would be no. Is that because they actually don’t read these female-heavy genres, or simply to avoid the embarrassment of admitting to reading these female-heavy genres? Put yourself in a man’s head for a moment – don’t go rooting through there too much, you won’t find anything too interesting, trust me. In today’s metrosexual (yes, I did just use the word ‘metrosexual’) culture. Men do take care of themselves, do their hair, have skin regimes to look more youthful and attractive, and yet, despite these often seemingly feminine behaviours, would it not be too far to admitting about reading romance novels? Would we not be ridiculed? Mocked?

I think it would be fair and true to say that male friends would most certainly mock and criticise their buddy for reading this. Would women too find it a little odd, and put them off too? Men should be MEN, no matter how long they take to do their hair nowadays, shouldn’t they? MEN should be reading John Grisham novels, Jack Reacher heroes to be a manly figure to look up to, as well as Andy McNab soldier stories. Action, thriller, suspense, guns, testosterone! *Flexs muscles and roars*

In a recent interview with UK author Jaimie Admans (Author of chick lit novels) I asked her the question: Books shouldn’t be gender orientated, but it can’t be denied that in reality, they are. Do you think that romantic comedies can appeal to the male reader, and if so, how?

Jaimie admitted that she would be surprised if a male reader wanted to or enjoyed one of novels as they are aimed the female reader. She suggested that a strong male protagonist may be needed to appeal to male readers.

I can’t think of any off the top of my head. Perhaps you may have some to name?

Devil wears prada coverI have read a chick lit book myself. A good while ago, after being persuaded to, I read The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. I wanted to know if it had something for men to enjoy. I was left utterly underwhelmed. It didn’t grip me, I thought the storyline was unsubstantial at best, and the so called ‘romance element’ was undeniably unrealistic and with not enough chemistry. I’m not talking about sex here, which I know some readers may assume that that is all men think about. Andrea Sachs was a ridiculous protagonist; what I’d call ‘wet’ and I even found it hard to see why women would enjoy this book, never mind men. And yet, there was something to enjoy inside the book. The antagonist for me, although slightly stereotyped, was entertaining. I awarded the book two stars **

Not straight after, but I did venture into the realms of chick lit once more. Twilight CoverAlthough, you could argue it isn’t exactly ‘chick lit’. With the hype of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series taking the world by storm, I did read the first novel. I wish I hadn’t though. Fantasy romance isn’t necessarily chick lit granted, but it is aimed more for female readers. I absolutely hated this book – and yes, I know hate is a strong word. I honestly think that this book could put off readers who are just beginning to widen their reading choices. The first person narrative was awful – a young American tween who is suddenly compelled to fall in love with a vampire – I hated the point of view and I often found myself wanting to throw the book at the wall.

It is not all doom and gloom though. As a self-confessed fantasy lover, I fell in love with Deborah Harkness’s first novel A Discovery of Witches and later devoured the second book in the trilogy Shadow of Night. Described by some critics as ‘Twilight for adults‘ let me tell you that it certainly isn’t. Deborah Harkness commands her readers with brilliant and captivating historical storylines and mixes them up with the fantasy elements of witches and vampire and daemons. The pace is perfect, the characters aren’t wooden and the development of everything is spot on. And yet, this series is romance orientated – a witch falling in love with a vampire. I am a male reader and I love these books.

I guess you could say then, yes! Men do read romance novels, with elements of chick lit thrown in to boot. Admittingly I don’t go out to buy the next Marian Keyes book, or Danielle Steel or Sophie Kinsella for that matter. I guess men need more substance than just a book about two people falling love.

One last danceSo, here’s a challenge for you – especially pointing at any male readers – although I strongly advise all my female readers to do this too. My good friend Sharon Atkinson has just released a short romance novel called One Last Dance. She’s so nice that she is giving away two copies over on Goodreads. All you have to do is enter. Go on, you may win and surprise yourself.

 

Another of my good friends, Holly Martin‘s latest offering is One Hundred Proposals, published by Carina UK and is having a sale on Kindle! Just 99p in the UK. For laughs, romance and wooing, grab yourself a copy before it goes back up to full price.

100 proposals

 

Happy reading everybody, and I’m going to leave you with the enlightening picture to inspire you all. Until next time *

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The Famous Five to hit the Silver Screen!

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Never mind reading this as a child, I’m loving it now! How exciting to read that Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series is getting a new makeover and being turned into a film franchise! Just wow! I can’t believe it. The UK film production company Working Title have bought the rights from Hodder – the publisher who now own the twenty book strong licence.

As some of my readers know, I am a huge Famous Five fan. I grew up reading all the books and used to sneak a torch to bed with me so I can snuggle underneath the covers and live through wild adventures of fighting smugglers, overthrowing henchmen, uncovering secret trails and trekking through old, abandoned train tunnels – all on a full stomach thanks to Aunt Fanny’s feast-like dinners and lots of strawberries and cream, all washed down with gallons of ginger beer!

I’ve read many reports of how the series as a whole is outdated and doesn’t Enid Blytonappeal to today’s generation of children, which is such a shame. Thankfully, it seems these reports have been proven wrong as Enid Blyton is still one of the best selling authors for children today, despite passing away in 1968. Enid Blyton has sold more than 100 million books worldwide, with Famous Five books selling hundreds of thousands of copies each year. A sure fire favourite to me!

I honestly believe that these adventure stories are timeless. They are all about the youthful innocence of four children enjoying their childhood by overthrowing the criminal adults. There’s a sense of danger and seriousness to the books, but you always know that a line is never crossed. I used to go adventuring myself as a 10 year old, hoping to find my own derelict island where treasure was buried by crooks. And unlike some of the books published today, the Famous Five has appeal to both young boys as well as young girls. Again, as some people may know, I have a fetish love for hardback books, and over the last year or so, I’ve been building my collection of Famous Five books – turning them from my well-used paperbacks to lovely hardbacks. I have about eight more books to go until I’ve completed the transition. And yet I know that they will be well loved to come as I know I will read them to my own daughter when she gets a little older.

Famous Five TV 1990sOf course, this isn’t the first time that the characters of Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy the dog have seen a live action transformation. Apparently in the 1970’s a TV series was produced, but I grew up with the 1990’s version. I loved the atmosphere to them and thrilling danger you know that lurks only moments away. They may seem a little cheesy now, but I bought the recent DVD of the 1990’s adaptation of the first book, Five on a Treasure Island.

It will be interesting to see how the film turns out. What book would they adapt for the silver screen? Would they keep the names the same? Would CGI be used to spice the adventure up? Of course, I understand the necessity to modernise the series to appeal to the children audience it is obviously going to aim for, but I hope things aren’t messed around with too much. It still needs to be set in the same time period, as this is one of the charms I loved so much.

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Recent: I’ve recently had a press photo taken to promote Here Lies Love as well as my local library. When the piece is written, I will of course let you see it. I hope it isn’t too embarrassing  I’m not very photogenic.

I would like to thank everyone who has so far purchased Here Lies Love. I’ve had more exposure and purchases than my previous adult novel The Caseworker’s Memoirs and the book has only been released for a month and a half. Unfortunately, it hasn’t made any of the Amazon charts, but that’s OK. If you haven’t purchased it yet, well why not!? A new second edition paperback will be released in the coming months, so if you cherish first editions, you may want to think about purchasing a copy soon.

AKA The Summer

I recently read A. Ka’s The Summer, which is book three in the Isaac The Fortunate series. You can read my review over on goodreads.

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