Wednesday, 7 December 2016

IWSG December 2016

It's here - the final IWSG posting of December 2016. This year has gone quick! As ever, this is the day when we can gather to share our writing fears and insecurities and offer a helping hand to others. Ably commanded by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, the co-hosts for today are Jennifer HawesJen ChandlerNick Wilford (erm, that's me), Juneta KeyJ H MoncrieffDiane Burton and M J Fifield!


I recently posted about my insecurities, namely my slow writing progress. I'm working on upping my pace and doing a bit more each day, and this month I hope to be back in a steady rhythm. One thing's for sure - I can't see a time in the future when I'm not writing, and that leads me on to this month's IWSG question - "In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?"

The first thing is to have my first trilogy and accompanying prequel all out in the world, which I plan to roll out over the next couple of years. After that, I've got several other ideas for books that might be standalones or develop into series. What will these books be about? Well, with what I've been writing recently I've realised that I really enjoy the speculative side of things - and whether that be sci-fi, dystopian, paranormal, or multiple other avenues, this question really got me thinking about the idea of having a much more defined author brand or image. I used to think I would not tie myself down to any particular genre, and I'm still open to pursuing any ideas that reveal themselves to me - but "speculative" isn't really a genre, it's a way of looking at the world, pushing the "what-ifs", scrutinising things that may already be amongst us and exploring what would happen if they were developed to their logical conclusion. This is what writing is all about for me, and hopefully in five years I'll have reached more like-minded souls who'll enjoy the journey with me. And who knows what the social media and marketing world will look like by then? That sort of speculation could spark off all sorts of ideas by itself.

In terms of my publication plans, I definitely plan on doing more self-publishing as the sense of control is awesome, but it's also on my bucket list to have something traditionally published. It's not that I think one is more valid than the other, it's just another thing to be experienced. I also think there's something in the idea that some stories are suited more to one route than the other, and hopefully I'll be able to tell which is which!

How would you answer this question? Did you take part in IWSG this month? If you're not a member, thinking about signing up for 2017? Check out the list of other participants here.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

November Progress Roundup

Wow! I can't believe we're into the last month of 2016 and Christmas is around the corner. Our tree is up, and lights are sparkling merrily in our windows as well as on the trees outside. This is a time of year when we pull closer together - of course, it was three years ago in November when we lost our superstar, and no one loved Christmas more than him. It feels right to get it underway earlier.

In terms of writing progress, things have been a bit slower in the last month. I added 3,000 words to my WIP, now standing at around 33,000 words. Yeah, not the largest chunk of material, but I'm looking at it as progress that's been made - and it's more than I've managed at other times this year. This is definitely the hardest book I've ever written, but nothing that comes easily is going to be truly rewarding, right? I just need to stop dancing around it, get a grip and get the rest of the story done. There are things that are hard here - hard for my characters, but I know they have it in them to deal with it and I just have to keep them on the right path. I at least have a tentative plan for how things will play out and when I'm done, I think I'm going to really enjoy editing this trilogy and pulling it all together. That's something to look forward to!

In other news, I did finish and submit both short story competition entries I was working on in October, so time to set them aside for now. Just over a month until the IWSG anthology winners are announced - did you enter the contest?

Well, that's about it for now. I'll be back next week for the final IWSG instalment of 2016. What have you been up to in the last month? Any NaNoers out there - how did it go?

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

An appeal on behalf of Princess Animal Rescue

Some of you might remember our summer holiday this year when we went to visit our dog rescue friends in Spain, Steve and Pauline Wright, to pick up our newest rescue pup Benji. Pauline runs a small non-profit animal rescue near Zafra in Spain, Princess Animal Rescue, where she single-handedly saves dogs from certain death and looks after them until a forever home can be found. We witnessed at first hand how hard Pauline works, the time and effort she puts in, and the financial strain it causes. Heather, my wife, is part of Princess Animal Rescue's admin group and this small band of ladies fundraise continuously, look for homes for the rescue dogs and offer moral support to Pauline. Our plan is to go over again next summer for three weeks and help Pauline practically, then in 2018, go over for a whole year. Being able to visit the rescue and spend time with Pauline has really inspired Heather and since coming home, she's put a lot of work into continuing to raise funds and find homes.

Now I want to tell you a little bit about the Minky pups. When we visited in July, these pups were eight weeks old and had literally been thrown out with the rubbish, so Pauline took them in and gave them love, warmth and a place to run around and play. Two of Heather's friends have adopted Spot and Dewy, while Summer was adopted within Spain. Pauline and the rest of the ladies are desperate for the rest of the pups to find their forever home as soon as possible. Finding these homes doesn't just mean a happy ever after for Champ, Torro and June - it means more space for Pauline to bring in other dogs that urgently require help. The situation in Spain really is unbelievably dire. There is such a high kill rate with young dogs thrown out, and animal welfare in general is awful.

I want to ask people to do a couple of things if  they can which would really make such a difference. 

  • Go on to this page and click the like button - share it within your own social media and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
  • Share these pictures of Champ, June and Torro and ask others to share with everyone they know. All three pups are very cuddly, get on with children and would be okay with a dog-savvy cat. You might not want to rescue a dog, but someone you know might want to. 
Champ
June 
Torro
  • If you have any questions, please contact Heather on her Facebook page. She'll be more than happy to speak to you or any of your friends about the process of adoption, fundraising or offering donations.
We're looking for homes in the UK and Europe, but even if you're outside those areas, every bit of awareness raised helps. Let's get these adorable puppies some homes. Thanks a million!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Piper Morgan to the Rescue book blast

Hello! Today I'm pleased to help out the lovely Stephanie Faris with the book blast for the latest instalment in her Piper Morgan series. I'm sure you'll agree it looks delightful.

Piper Morgan to the Rescue
By Stephanie Faris





Blurb:

Piper helps some four-legged friends find the perfect home in the third book of the brand-new Piper Morgan series.

Piper is super excited to help out at Bark Street, a local animal shelter in town. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by adorable puppies and dogs all day? And when Piper sees Taffy, the cutest dog she has ever seen, Piper is determined to find a way to bring Taffy home. But it won’t be easy—especially when she finds out someone else wants to make Taffy a part of their family, too!




Bio:

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, as well as the PiperMorgan series. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.

Links:
Instagram

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PS: Sorry I have been quite slow at returning comments over the past week. I've had an issue with WordPress blogs where my comments have been disappearing, but hopefully this is sorted now - can I just trouble you, if you're on WordPress, to check your spam queue, as I might have a comment on a recent post that has got stuck there? Thanks!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Timeless Blog Tour



Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and answer some key questions!


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?

BUY: Amazon | B&N

Author Interview



1.
How did you come up with the idea for the Maiden of Time series?


When
you say “idea,” it sounds so singular! This book was a series of layers, but
they came to me. That’s it.

The
first book was a quick novella, one I hadn’t planned. I frequently have story
dreams and write a first scene, but this one wouldn’t let go. It was a love
affair with words.

When
I finished, I had no intention of doing anything with it—other than enjoying
the words on the page. It was just for me. But then a character from another
series stuck his hand in my face and informed me that this was his book too. A
character with a LONG arc and deep roots. Placing him at the heart of the story meant weaving two worlds together—a conventional historical setting, and
a fantasy-based world. Details unfolded organically with each new draft
(over 10 years), and by the time MOONLESS saw the light of day, there was a
decade of history supporting it. Not only that, I had the beginning of the next
two books written, and an outline for the series.


Wow. With such a long backstory to the series, it sounds like a real labour of love!

2.
Which of the special powers possessed by the Passionate would you most like to
have, and why?

I’d
like to have a little of all of them, truthfully. But if I had to pick one, it
would be time manipulation. As we get older, it seems like time becomes
exponential. I don’t want to stop it or go back and change things, I just want
to be able to slow it. To freeze the moment. To hold onto the sensations.


That sounds nice. Time definitely becomes fleeting with ageing!

3.
Could you pick a favourite cheese? Or would that be like picking a favourite
child?

You
called that! I have too many favorites to count, but without exception I will
take these ANY DAY: Muenster, cheddar, Jarlsberg, Provolone, Romano, Feta, smoked
Gouda, Colby jack, Fontina, or squeaky cheese. (Cheddar cheese curds.)


I've always had a soft spot for Edam...


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.







(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)



Thanks for being here today, Crystal! I encourage everyone to check out this excellent series, and for an extra push, here's my review of Timeless:

With this final instalment in the Maiden of Time trilogy, events for Alexia come full circle in a way that, without wanting to give too much away, feels very satisfying. I love time travel stories, and the way this wraps up was very nicely done, although at no point does it feel like anything is guaranteed. I definitely feel this was the strongest book of the series, with a sense of urgency that hardly lets up throughout, fuelled by several motivating factors: Alexia's mission to prevent the birth of the Soulless; her need to ensure the safe birth of her own daughter without dying in the process; and her fight against bonding with Kiren, her husband in her own timeline but who has never met her in this earlier time (because this would mean his own demise when she dies). Yes, most of the book takes place 500 years before the action of the first two, something that I feel really breathes fresh life into proceedings. We get to see several characters before they have undergone key changes and learn how those changes transpired (Kiren's scar, Mae's blindness, Amos becoming Soulless). I love medieval history and rewriting the Crusades to include a war against the Passionate, and having them as pawns in a political game, felt very convincing. I felt there was a different tone to this book as well. While the first two instalments were fantasy/historical, I would classify this more as sci-fi/historical, with the time-based elements being much more heavily explored and a portal to another world playing a key part in the plot. In both cases, the historical stuff serves as a backdrop to the main action, but there's enough detail to make the settings seem real.

Of course, at the heart of all this is a love story that spans centuries. Things are certainly awkward for the most part, as you know these two belong together, but they both have reasons to keep their distance - Alexia for the reasons mentioned above, Kiren because he believes she is already bonded to someone else - and I really felt the despair of both. This made the ending very uplifting, and it wasn't something that I saw coming.

Having said all that, I had a few quibbles with the book, but they might not matter to anyone else. I sometimes had trouble following what was going on at every moment. That just shows the level of complexity and invention in the story, though. There were a lot of minor characters among the Passionate and some are only mentioned in passing, as if we already know them. It was slightly confusing and I would have appreciated just a bit more detail on these people.

None of this took away from my enjoyment of this book, though. It was definitely the fastest-paced of the series, and the most intense. Collier really made me root for things to work out for the two main characters. I thoroughly recommend this series and I can't wait to see what the author does next!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

IWSG November 2016

Time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! This awesome monthly bloghop allows us free rein to share our doubts and fears. Created by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, the co-hosts for today are Joylene Nowell ButlerJen ChandlerMary AalgaardLisa Buie CollardTamara NarayanTyrean Martinson and Christine Rains!


The question prompt for this month's posting is: What is your favourite aspect of being a writer?

Well, this is quite a nice question as it deflects from my ongoing insecurity - trying to nail down the final part of my trilogy - and spins off into something else. While finishing a story is definitely one of my favourite aspects, I feel I'm still quite a way from finishing in this case. No, it's exploring those shiny new ideas that excites me the most - that exhilarating rush of carving out a story that's never been told before. New characters to dig into, possibly whole new worlds to map - it's all out there to be discovered!

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Check out the other IWSG participants here!

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



TIME IS THE ENEMY

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.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Between Two Fires blog tour

Hope everyone's having a great weekend! I don't think I've posted on a Sunday before, but there's a first time for everything, and I'm happy to do so to help out a great friend of mine, Mark Noce, with the release of his debut novel. Here's everything you need to know.



Praise from Bestselling Authors for Between Two Fires
“A spirited ride through a turbulent slice of Welsh history!” – Paula Brackston, NYT Bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter
“A fast-paced read that has a wonderfully visual style and some memorable characters. Mark Noce combines Welsh history with a touch of folkloric magic in this promising debut novel. Lady Branwen is a strong and engaging narrator and the turbulent setting of early medieval Wales makes a fine backdrop for an action-packed story.” – Juliet Marillier, Bestselling author of Daughter of the Forest and Wolfskin

Synopsis of Between Two Fires
Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King.
But this fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen herself becomes the target of assassinations and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan her world threatens to tear itself apart. Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.

Places to Order Between Two Fires
Release Date: August 23, 2016



Bio
Mark Noce writes historical fiction with a passion, and eagerly reads everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. He earned his BA and MA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also met his beautiful wife. By day, he works as a Technical Writer, having spent much of his career at places like Google and Facebook. In addition to writing novels, he also writes short fiction online. When not reading or writing, he’s probably listening to U2, sailing his dad’s boat, or gardening with his family.
His debut novel, Between Two Fires, is being published by Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin's Press and Macmillan). It is the first in a series of historical fiction novels set in medieval Wales.

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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

IWSG August 2016


Hosted by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, today's group posting of the IWSG - a safe haven for us writers to share our doubts and insecurities - is co-hosted by Tamara NarayanTonja DreckerEllen @ The Cynical SailorLauren @ PensuasionStephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders.

Well, it's August and it's also my first post here in two months. Last time I said I was hoping to shake things up - well, this time last month we were just heading off on a two-week road trip through Scotland, England, France and Spain on a mission to rescue a puppy. It was fun, the weather and scenery were fantastic, we got some time to relax and we were shown great hospitality by our dog rescue friends in Spain. Our new baby Benji is a big boy for four months old, but so sweet. In the couple of weeks since we got back we've been acclimatising and bedding him in with the other dogs and I think he's going to do great.


Hard to see what he's cuddling, but it's a toy dolphin we got for him on the ferry from Spain to England that he has to go to bed with every night. Such a baby!

So June was more of the month for writing. I did spend more time planning than writing, but I had a go at those mind maps and I think I've got a clearer idea of where things are going. I'm looking forward to getting stuck back in this month.

I don't want to have an insecurity about my writing, I just want to keep my attention focused, but I do have one about keeping up on the social media side. I've hardly been around and I'm also late on a couple of reviews I had promised. I hate this, as I feel like I've let people down. The plan is to rectify this and then stay on more of an even keel - with only a couple of weeks until school goes back here too, I'll hopefully feel in more of a routine. Looking forward to seeing what you've all been up to!

Also, having just been to the IWSG site, I thought I'd jump in on the interactive side and answer the group question that has been posed. This month we are asked: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

I guess 1997 was when I first thought about pursuing some sort of writing career. I was 16, just finishing secondary school and going to sixth form (where I joined a journalism group). I wrote a story while I was finishing school that was my first conscious effort at writing a proper, polished short story - it was typed, rather than being a piece of handwritten scrawl. Set in the not-too-distant future, it concerned a worker on an extension of the Channel Tunnel that was being dug throughout France encountering the ghost of a soldier from the World War I trenches. I remember being quite satisfied with it, but I didn't do anything with it, and that computer has since bitten the dust, so it only exists in the ether and in my memory. Still, I guess it means next year marks my 20th anniversary as an aspiring writer. Gulp!

Go here to check out more IWSG posts!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

IWSG June 2016 - Moving Forward

The first day of summer and time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. The group represents a safe harbour for writers to share their doubts and insecurities. Today's co-hosts are Murees DupeAlexia ChamberlynnChemist Ken and Heather Gardner.


I'm going to make this a short post today. I know this is the venue to air our insecurities, but the last thing I want to do is have another moan about how I can't move forward with my work. I feel like I'm in some kind of time warp this year in terms of progress, but next month I hope to have some other kind of insecurity to bring you, so I'm going to spend June shaking things up and trying things I haven't done before, like writing out of order or maybe sketching some mind maps. What I need now is to make a step forward. I still might not be posting much, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how you're all doing and I'm hoping to soak up some inspiration and enjoy the fantastic weather Scotland is offering right now.

So that's it from me. Back with a progress report next month!

Check out the other IWSG participants here!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

IWSG May 2016

Time for another posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the monthly safe haven where writers can talk about anything that is ailing them. Founded by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, the May posting is co-hosted by Stephen TrempFundy BlueMJ FifieldLoni TownsendBish DenhamSusan Gourley and Stephanie Faris. Check 'em out!


Can we be into May already? Star Wars Day too, so I'm hoping the force will be with me as I try to reboot this year. Writing has become a daily struggle over the last month or two - more so than usual. I'm not sure, but I might only have scraped out 1000 words in this time. The inspiration isn't there. Seriously, even writing this is hard. I'm not sure what's wrong with me?

As you may recall, I was attacked near the start of the year, but I can't use that as an excuse for killing my confidence. A CP pointed out an issue with my book that was causing her trouble and I still can't work out if I agree. It's not like it's something that's never been covered, even within YA. I don't know if it's the approach that's the problem - I haven't brought myself to go over the offending sections yet, but as it hinges on what I'm writing now, it's kind of brought everything to a standstill. But I wouldn't lay the blame at my CP's door. I value her feedback, but sometimes I find it hard to listen to others' advice and instead forge ahead with what I think is right. The idea of rebuilding a large portion of my series is daunting, but that's my job, isn't it? This wasn't meant to be easy.

So that's where I'm at. I haven't talked about this with anyone yet, but maybe now I have I can take some steps to fixing the problem. Have you ever had to drastically rethink your work? How important is your CPs' advice to you? Hope all enjoyed the A-Z Challenge who took part. I sat this one out but I'm hoping to be back in force next year!

Check out the other IWSG participants here.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

IWSG March 2016

Yes, it's that time once again - 2016's third posting for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. This excellent group was founded by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh to provide a safe haven for writers to share doubts and insecurities without fear of appearing foolish. This month's co-hosts arLauren Hennessy, Lisa Buie-Collard, Lidy, Christine Rains, and Mary Aalgaard.


First, thanks for all your supportive comments on last month's post. I really appreciate it and reading through them made me feel a lot better. (Go here if you don't know what I'm talking about). It's true that I haven't been around the blogs too much since then - I literally just finished returning the comments from that post! I've been getting a lot of headaches, so I've been reserving my energy for my editing work and trying to make some headway on my WIP. Haven't managed to write every day, but on those when I did I've been averaging about 500 words. However, on that last bonus leap day I managed 1000 and that's the goal I want to aim for going forward. So, in terms of my monthly goal round-up, I'm up to 10,000 words with 4,000 added in the last month. Doesn't sound like much, but at least there's quite a lot going on in those words. Things are happening.

I'm still speaking with the police and they've been taking my attackers in for questioning. I really hope they can do something because these people shouldn't be at large to pose a threat to someone else.

Apart from that, I just keep drinking lots of water and trying to write the next word. Keeping things quite simple at the moment. I didn't meet my marketing goal, but I definitely want to try some new things this month.

Go here to check out lots more IWSG participants.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

IWSG - February 2016

Time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which takes place on the first Wednesday of each month. Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh started this group so writers of all stripes could share their doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged.


Well.

It's not been the best start to the month.

You don't go out for a peaceful Sunday afternoon stroll with your dogs in a sleepy semi-rural area and expect to become the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack.

Yet that's what happened to me three days ago.

The day started out well. It was my stepdaughter's 19th birthday. She'd had ten friends staying over in the living room in sleeping bags. As chaotic as this sounds, and given that a fair bit of alcohol was involved, responsible Hannah ensured that no one got too incapacitated by also providing copious amounts of pizza. We heard more noise coming from our seven-year-old's DVD in the next room. Everyone left or was picked up by 10.30am and Hannah tidied up. Great. 

Then just after 2pm I took two of our four dogs out. One of our pups had had his operation to get his boys' bits removed and so I left another of the pack behind to keep him company.

This is a nice walk along a road past fields and a few houses. After about 45 minutes it reaches a junction with a slightly more major road. I usually turn either left or right, walk up a little bit and then head back. This day I headed right. There's a row of eight houses here, only on one side of the road. I walked up the right hand side past open land (so I would be facing oncoming traffic), then crossed and headed back down past the houses.

As I walked past one property I noticed a man staring out of the window at me. He didn't look particularly happy but I thought nothing of it and carried on.

I walked past a piece of dog waste on the pavement and the next thing I knew I heard shouting from behind me. I turned to see it was the man who had been looking out the window, pointing out the poo and shouting at me to pick it up. From the outset, he was highly aggressive. In spite of this, I walked back towards the spot and tried to explain that neither of my dogs had left it. Of course they hadn't. I'm a responsible dog owner and an upstanding citizen. I told him that I always picked up poos and pulled poop bags out of my pocket to show him.

He didn't listen to a single bit of this and just kept screaming at me to pick it up, using some choice language. He also raised his fist in a threatening gesture.

At this point, a second, younger and heavier man ran out of the house and after a few seconds, punched me in the face. He was acting even more aggressive than the first man, but this still came as a shock. I then picked up the waste for fear of what else would happen to me.

The older man then told me that if I'd just picked it up, that wouldn't have happened to me. He then rolled up his trouser leg to show that one of my dogs had bitten him, as if he was the victim in the situation. I didn't notice, I was too busy getting assaulted. And what exactly do you expect?

I don't have a phone (it needs a new charger) so I walked almost an hour home with my nose dripping blood the whole way. My wife phoned the police as soon as I walked in and after speaking to them and going to point out the offenders' house we went to the local A&E. I knew I had a black eye, but it turned out I'd been punched hard enough to fracture my eye socket and break my nose. I've got appointments at two separate clinics for these.

I won't go into the ins and outs of the police investigation but we hope there can be a decent result despite the fact the culprits, who we suspect are related, have concocted a story to protect the assailant.

In terms of feeling insecure about it, well, I definitely am. My face feels sore and tight, I get recurring headaches and tire easily, and I haven't felt like working since the incident. Forgive me if I'm not online so much over the next little while, but I'll try my best to return all comments.

In the long run, though, I'm not going to let it affect how I live my life. Why should it? No, I won't walk the dogs on my own again, and no, I won't walk that way again. But I'm not going to be put off stepping out of my front door by the fact that people like this exist in the world, and two of them live in the same small town as myself. If I become afraid, then they'll truly have won. I'm hoping to get back to writing shortly. I don't want my schedule to be interrupted for too long.

Has anything like this happened to you? How did you deal with it?

Don't forget to visit other IWSG participants here!