Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Blogiversary Giveaway Winners

My five-year blogiversary giveaway has been running for the last couple of weeks and it is time to announce the winners. Thanks to everyone who took part and left such heartwarming comments on my post!

And the winners are...

Alex J. CavanaughMark Noce and Sherry Ellis!

Congrats! I'll be in touch to discuss arrangements for your prizes.

In other news, I'm in the final stages of editing and polishing the two short stories I am submitting for competitions this month. I should have those finished up this week and will then get back to my WIP.

What's going on with you?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

5 Year Blogiversary!

Yep, today I'm having a bit of a celebration on the blog because it's now been five years since I started on this initially daunting, but ultimately highly rewarding, journey! Half a decade is a good chunk of time, and I'm proud to have been part of some fantastic opportunities and adventures. The last Writers' Platform-Building Campaign; three A-Z Challenges; Write1Sub1; the publication of my anthology for Andrew's college fund with over a hundred fantastic participants; numerous other fun bloghops; three NaNoWriMos, an event I discovered through blogging; the launch of my own editing service; and last but definitely not least, the group therapy session that is the Insecure Writer's Support Group. I've met fantastic CPs and beta readers and made friends for life. I'm thankful for each and every one of my followers, and you're all welcome to come in and pour yourselves a drink!

It's fair to say that, like all social media, blogging is in a state of flux and I've seen many others come and go since I started. I've branched out to Twitter (and still working on Facebook), but blogging still remains my favourite medium, for the sense of personal space it offers and the freedom to expand on any topic that happens to be on my mind. It's also great to initiate a sensible discussion with intelligent people and keep up with others' happenings, achievements and troubles - the sense of community is palpable. I feel like we've got each others' backs and I'm pleased to say that I haven't seen a whiff of trouble or bad feeling over the time I've spent here. I'm definitely looking forward to the next five years and beyond!

No blogiversary would be complete without a giveaway and to that end it's a pleasure to announce that I'm offering free editing samples, of either an opening chapter or short story, up to 2000 words. There's no time limit, so don't worry if you don't have anything to edit right now! I'm keeping this giveaway simple, all you have to do is leave a comment to enter. Good luck! 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

IWSG October 2016

It's the first Wednesday of October, which means it's time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Helmed by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to allow writers to share their doubts and insecurities without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Lately, we have been assigned questions to help inspire our posts. This month's co-hosts are Beverley Stowe McClureMegan MorganViola FuryMadeline Mora-SummonteAngela Wooldridge and Susan Gourley.

Today's question is: When do you know your story is ready?

Well, this does play into an ongoing insecurity of mine - getting things finished! I don't think there are many writers who could look back on a finished book or story (even one that's been published) and not think there are certain things they would like to change. For me, knowing when something is ready is hard to do independently - that's what great CPs and beta readers are for. They can look at things with an objective eye and point out what might need work when we, as the author, are too close to it. That's what works for me. Of course, that usually leads to more and more rounds of edits! Another approach is, when you don't know what else you can possibly do to your story, leaving it alone for about four weeks and then pulling it out again - for me, I then tend to see all sorts of other possibilities.

So, yeah. This is definitely a hard one to pin down. Sometimes, it's when I read through a draft and everything is flowing and connecting together in a way I hadn't noticed before. It has that magic spark. Intangible, but you know when it's there!

Check out other IWSG posters here.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

September Progress Roundup and Reviews

Hello! In keeping with my blog goals to keep tabs on my monthly progress on here, this post will be the first of my roundups. I'm a little busy later this week, so I'm posting a couple of days before the end of the month and combining my writing progress with a few recent reviews.

Trilogy Book 3 - Made good progress on this, and now up to 30,000 words, with about 7,000 added this month. Still working on writing every weekday, but the story is coming together and an end is in sight. In other news, I came up with working titles for every book in my series - something that's usually the last thing I think of! Currently, this one is going by the name of Reckoning.

Other writing - I've taken a break from my WIP for roughly the last week to work on my entry for the 2017 IWSG anthology. It's a lot of fun, as this is my first attempt at fantasy, and I'm putting a lot of detail in there. Maybe too much - at first, the 5-6000 wordcount looked large, but as I'm up to 4,500 with a lot of story still to go, I might need to do a fair bit of trimming in order to fit the requirements!

Looking at next month, I'm planning to finish and edit the anthology entry, as well as hopefully working on another contest submission with the same deadline (Nov 1), before getting back to my WIP.

And now, four reviews of books I've recently read. You can probably tell I'm making an effort to chip away at my TBR list, as they might not be new to many of you, but I'm always glad to give some exposure to great authors!

Tara Tyler - Pop Travel

5 Stars

I really enjoyed this novel about the futuristic phenomenon of pop travel, a teleporting technology. This was probably because it's a character-driven story rather than being too heavy on the scientific elements (the latter were still there though and I enjoyed the explanations of Ms Tyler's invention). The main character, Cooper, is a grief-stricken private detective who it seems has nothing to lose and so ends up going after the big boys of the pop travel industry when it turns out that some unfortunate accidents are taking place. The investigation seems to give him a fresh lease of life and he shows himself to be both resourceful and highly likeable. The love interest who is supposed to be tailing him was a nice addition, and I ended up feeling sorry for the "boy wonder" creator of the technology, whose invention has become corrupted by human greed. A fun aspect to this novel was its blend of futuristic elements and an old-style "film noir" atmosphere - it took me by surprise that a novel about such a high-tech mode of transport would include a fair few thrilling chase sequences. Looking forward to reading the next in the series!

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads

Cortney Pearson - Phobic

4 Stars

This is a great horror story that's in the YA category but would be enjoyed by readers any age. Although there is a mild amount of grisly gore, it's largely about the atmospherics, like the best horror should be. I really enjoyed the fact that the house is not only a character in this novel, it's a very strong one with quite a moody personality. I liked Piper, who was resourceful and strong despite a troubled upbringing (to put it mildly). I felt really drawn in to the claustrophobia of her situation. Just stopped short of giving this book five stars because I found some of the human characters just a little bit worn (the flawlessly beautiful bullying girl with a crew of cronies, the boy-next-door childhood friend who just might become something more), but this was made up for by the creativity and invention of the central storyline. Recommended!

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads

Crystal Collier - Moonless

5 Stars

Crystal Collier's first book in the Maiden of Time series is a captivating read that takes place in 18th century England. It looks normal on the surface, but underneath are the legions of the Soulless and Passionate, who are locked in a battle through time. Collier draws us into this world through the eyes of her MC, Alexia, who finds out that she is Passionate, which means that we find things out throughout the book right alongside her. There's also an overarching love story tying things together, some good battle sequences, and a good lead-in to the next books in the series, which I will surely be reading. An excellent book if you enjoy the paranormal.

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads

M Pax - Stopover at the Backworlds' Edge (The Backworlds #2)

4 Stars

I've been meaning to work my way through this series after reading the excellent first installment a while ago, and better late than never! For me, this is where the characters really bed in and we get to know more about this intriguing bunch. All the good guys are likeable, even Pauder, who comes across as a curmudgeon who still manages to be endearing. Craze is the star of the show though - even if a reluctant one. An anti-hero in a way, all he really wants is a quiet life in his very own bar and to show his pa that he can make something of himself after being ejected in humiliating fashion from his home world. When it comes to it, though, he proves to be resourceful in plotting to defeat his enemies. What I liked about this book is that, even though it's set on a distant moon in some far-flung future where Earth is but a whispered-about myth, the characters are relateable and it's a bit like watching an old-school buddy movie. It moves at a good pace (after a slightly slow start), and there's plenty of action, but the author leaves room for good character development and some quite touching scenes when Craze discovers that someone close to him has been hiding some alarming secrets, and must decide whether to forgive. I'm looking forward to finding out more in the rest of the series.

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Any recommendations?

Monday, 19 September 2016

Seasonal Writing

A couple of weeks ago, I posted for this month's IWSG and answered the question about finding the time to write in a busy day. I'm an early morning writer (like 5am) and while I really enjoy the quiet that can be found at that time of day, I posted that sometimes tiredness affected my writing flow. Well, I'm pleased to report that since then, things have been on more of an even keel and I've been getting some words down each day, 500 words at a minimum but hoping to exceed 1000. It might be something to do with the time of year. We're firmly embedded in autumn and I love the mellow light patterns, the crisp feel to the air and the leaves that crunch underfoot. All of it sparks my creativity. Especially now that we live in an area where we're surrounded by farms, I feel closer to nature than I did before. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big believer in writing every day and that's something that I always try to do, but those of you with young kids will know that summer can be a trying time! The words definitely flow much easier when I'm inspired by my surroundings, and now that I'm back in a good routine for the first time in a while, I'm hoping to keep it up year round.

I'll also be applying this new-found inspiration to my blogging and being more active on here. Hopefully, I'll have a post every week where I talk about various writing-related matters, and I'm also planning to reinvigorate my monthly goal roundups that I started a while back. As I've been quite lacking in reviewing the books I read, I'm also thinking about a monthly post where I recap what I've read and make recommendations. This should motivate me to do more of both reading and reviewing.

I also want to branch out and embrace other social media, starting with Twitter where I'll be upping my interaction. I'm thinking about tweeting some daily tips or prompts; something to inspire other writers.

Finally, this blog will be turning five in a few weeks from now. This came as a surprise to me when I realised the other day! Watch this space for the upcoming celebrations...

Do you have a season that inspires your writing more than others? Why?

Monday, 12 September 2016

Timeless Cover Reveal

Hope everyone's having a great Monday so far. Today I'm honoured to help out Crystal Collier with the reveal of her fabulous cover for Book 3 of her Maiden of Time trilogy. I've read the first of this series so far and highly recommend it!
TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal

Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016


In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

Want the first chapter free? 

Sign up HERE.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

IWSG September 2016

Autumn is here and with it time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, the group offers a safe haven for writers of all kinds to share their doubts and insecurities and offer helpful advice to others. Today's co-hosts are C. Lee McKenzieRachel PattinsonElizabeth SeckmanStephanie FarisLori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata!

Today, I'm going to go straight to this month's IWSG question, as it ties into my insecurity in a way: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

I do editing as my main job - for fellow authors as well as an ongoing gig for a company where I will apply corrections to things like term papers, reports and resumes. I'm quite lucky in that it's not exactly a full-time job and I can pick and choose my own hours. But generally, the mornings are reserved for editing, while I might clean, walk the dogs, or run some errands in the afternoon. My writing is done from about 5.30am-6.30am, then I will get a head start on my editing before waking my daughter for school at 7.30. I could change this up, of course, as all my work is at home, but I definitely like having that sense of quiet when I can get space to mentally inhabit my fictional world. Now it's September, it's also dark as I'm writing this, which suits me fine, and it starts my day off on the right foot knowing I'm that bit further forward on my work.

The downside - and my insecurity - is that I'm often too tired for the writing to flow easily. This might sound like a bit of a whine, because I've got a comfortable job that I enjoy - it's not like I'm out digging roads for 12 hours a day. Still, though, it can take a while to get going, although once I start I generally keep going until I reach a good 1000 words. I don't know whether this is because I'm reaching the last part of a trilogy that's hugely important to me - I feel a lot of pressure to end well and do the whole thing justice, and I'm not used to having the weight of so much story under me. But then, that's silly, because the pressure is self-imposed and anything can get fixed in editing.

Overall though, I'm pleased with how it's going, especially as this is a book I struggled to get anywhere with for the best part of a year. If the words are going down, then the battle is in full swing.

Look forward to reading your answers to this month's question! Check out the list of IWSG participants here.