Category Archives: Guest Posts

‘What’s So Fascinating About The 1960s?’ by Sue Clark

Today I hand over Bloomin’ Brilliant Books to Sue Clark to talk about her debut novel Note To Boy and how the 1960s feature in it. Note To Boy is due to be published by Unbound and is currently going through crowdfunding. Sue explains more about that in her post.

What’s So Fascinating About The 1960s?

Why did I choose to focus on the 1960s in my comic fiction, Note to Boy? How could I not? The exuberance and colour of those times have passed into modern mythology – and I actually experienced them at first-hand.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, I was a young innocent living in London near Oxford Circus, working for a US film company, sharing an office with David Niven Jr’s PA, shopping in Carnaby Street, and going to parties where it was possible to bump into the latest James Bond actor. It wasn’t quite as glamorous as it might sound but, nevertheless, what writer could pass up such a rich source of material?

It was a time of great hope. Our generation, we naively told ourselves, was going to be different from the ones that had gone before. We weren’t boring and ‘square’. We were free-thinking, free-loving individuals. Peace and love were the order of the day. We’d wear our tie-dyed T-shirts, stick flowers in our hair and wait for the revolution. It didn’t come, of course. Instead we got the 1980s, and shoulder pads, legwarmers and awful perms.

Note to Boy looks at Swinging London through the eyes of Eloise Slaughter, a woman now in her seventies, who reminisces about her time as an outrageous fashion guru. Now, elderly and broke, she bitterly misses her time in the spotlight and vows revenge on those who conspired to cheat her out of it. She wants her celebrity life back.

Fate brings her Bradley McCreedy, a downtrodden teenager from the wrong part of town. Bullied by his brother, ignored by his mother, unknown to his father, he just wants a life.

The two couldn’t be more different but, after a rocky start, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Discovering they might have a common purpose, Bradley hatches a plan to help her escape her past, and build himself a future.

The genesis of the book lay in a short story I wrote about celebrity. What happens to people who achieve it? How do they cope if it suddenly vanishes? This morphed into the present full-length novel. And Eloise and Bradley were born.

Both characters epitomise people who are often overlooked and underestimated. Eloise is bad-tempered and friendless, but was once a sexy and successful ‘it girl’. Bradley is uneducated and inarticulate but possesses a cunning that could be made use of, if only people would see beyond the obvious.

Who are they based on? Eloise is a demanding, arrogant monster. So, of course she’s not based on anyone I know, although I have worked in radio, television and newspapers enough to know there are some monstrous egos out there. No, I’m not going to name names!

Likewise, as I’ve never been a browbeaten teenage boy, Bradley is pure invention, although I’m sure we can all empathise with the feeling of being young, frustrated and already written off.

When will you see Note to Boy in bookshops? That could depend on you. The book, you see, is being published by Unbound. Unbound books come about in a rather different way to most others, being crowdfunded directly by their readers.

As I write this, Note to Boy is 58% of the way to being fully funded. Readers can pledge for – that is, pre-order – e-books, special edition paperbacks, or go for one of the other rewards options. It’s all explained on the Unbound website.

Please feel free to browse Unbound’s many diverse and often unique titles. And if your mouse should land on the ‘pledge’ button of Note to Boy, I – and Eloise and Bradley – would be eternally grateful. Thank you.

NOTE TO BOY by Unbound author, Sue Clark, is crowdfunding now.

Get involved at https://unbound.com/books/note-to-boy/

Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8n8MnjqkK34&feature=youtu.be

Follow at https://twitter.com/SueClarkAuthor

Thank you so much for the great guest post, Sue. I wish you luck with the funding of Note To Boy and look forward to seeing it in the shops soon.

About Sue Clark

In a varied career Sue Clark has been a scriptwriter, journalist and PR copywriter. She’s worked for BBC radio and TV, local newspapers, and no end of corporates. Her TV and radio credits include: Alas Smith and Jones, Weekending, and The News Huddlines.

She’s interviewed John Humphreys and Ronnie Corbett and penned funny lines for Lenny Henry, June Whitfield, Tracy Ullman, Roy Hudd and David Jason, among others.

Although the comic fiction Note to Boy is billed as her debut novel, there are others lurking in desk drawers that may one day see the light. And there will be more to come!

She lives in an Oxfordshire market town much like the fictional setting of Midsomer Murders with her long-suffering husband. She has three children and one adorable grandchild. 

Guest Post by Hawaa Ayoub – ‘The Personal in Fiction Writing’

I am delighted to be joined by Hawaa Ayoub today who has a moving guest post on The Personal in Fiction Writing. Hawaa’s novel When a Bulbul Sings is about forced child marriages and Hawaa hope to raise awareness of this issue. So, I wil hand you over to Hawaa.

The Personal in Fictional Writing by Hawaa Ayoub, author of When a Bulbul Sings

A while back, in 2007 while still living in Sana’a the capital of Yemen, I was approached numerous times by friends and colleagues whom suggested I should write a book about my experience of child marriage. Although they were well intentioned, for I was a strong character by then, my visceral feeling was that of embarrassment of not wanting my personal life known so publicly although everybody whom knew me already knew (would find out) how old I was when I married, especially when they couldn’t believe my children were not my siblings (safe to say that mistake won’t be made nowadays!). I wasn’t ashamed of my life, it wasn’t my fault being forced as a child to marry a man so why should I be ashamed? They said many British Asian and British African girls in the UK, some as young as twelve, would disappear from schools, probably taken to their country of ethnicity and married, they believed I should write a story about my experience as a child bride so as to make the world aware this happens.

Truth be told, at people’s shocked reaction at my reply of being fourteen, embarrassed I would be. I couldn’t control it, but it’s how I felt; for how do you and why should you explain how you were forced as a child when some memories are harsh, when all you want to do is leave the past behind and concentrate on the now? Yemenis and expatriates alike expressed the same surprise, outrage and empathy towards learning I had married so young and forced at that.

Forced and child marriage is not a clear-cut issue, there are many reasons why it still exists today which would need a number of posts to explain and delve into properly, but raising awareness about the issue of child marriage is important as is understanding why and how it happens, and its consequences and effects upon girls and women.

There are many other reasons why I write. To begin with, I enjoy writing. If I don’t put the words onto paper or screen, the ideas and thoughts crowd my head and occupy my mind until I’ve written them. Characters’ conversations and actions keep running on a loop and developing and nag me when I’m nowhere near pen and paper.

I write because I have stories to tell. Like many writers, there are autobiographical elements in my stories which can make writing about things too close to personal experience embarrassing, that I might be tempted not to include it; this can be tough.

I have a message to convey from an experience I had, to share through writing fiction. It’s about a personal issue which not only affected me but continues to affect millions of girls and women, worldwide. Telling stories about topics which affect us or affects people in other parts of the world can help towards raising awareness thus contribute in a little way towards ending matters such as child marriage, FGM and other forms of gender inequality. Especially if done with the aim of spreading knowledge, unbiased information; if it can be done in an entertaining read – even better!

Which is why I write about child marriage and gender inequality.

A huge thank you, Hawaa, for taking the time to write this guest post and for raising this important issue.

Hawaa’s debut novel When a Bulbul Sings is out now. Here is what it’s about:

Eve, a highly intelligent fourteen-year-old British girl, is lured to a mountainous Yemeni village remote from civilisation where she is forced to marry an adult. Her desire to return home and enter university fuels her escape attempts, but Uncle Suleiman’s addiction to qat and greed for money give him an equally matched desire to stop her from leaving. When Eve is taken by her parents to a remote mountainous Yemeni village, where life has remained the same since ancient times, she is forced to marry Adam and her life becomes a dystopian novel caught in a real-life limbo. Her constant attempts to escape the mountains are not only hindered by the treacherous terrain, but her Uncle Suleiman, who planned for her marriage since first setting eyes on her, keeps her captive to ensure his son sends him a monthly allowance. Eve’s captors want to subdue her strong personality, and individuality; Eve is put under pressure to be like all the girls, to be a woman not a girl. She struggles with the way of life, but also the mentality and culture. She fights for her freedom, but her captors’ constant criticism, chip at her spirit. Eve is set on returning to Britain to resume her education before she misses her chance at university, before her genius is wasted, but Uncle Suleiman’s addiction and greed give him an equally strong determination to prevent her from leaving. She witnesses forced marriages and child marriages as well as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She lives amongst a beautiful people in an intriguing ancient culture, but the beauty of her surroundings jar with the ugliness of captivity where her freedom has been confiscated and she becomes Uncle Suleiman’s hostage. This is the story of Eve and her fight for freedom. It is a story about the inequality, injustice and violations of human rights millions of girls around the world face due to their gender when forced or entered into underage marriage as child brides.

When a Bulbul Sings can be purchased HERE.

Author Guest Post – Needle in the Haystack by Steve Dressing

Please give a huge warm welcome to debut author Steve Dressing. Steve joins me today with a great guest post, which I’m sure you will enjoy reading. Steve’s book Game Keepers was published on 14th May 2018, however, I will tell you more about that later. So, I now hand you over to Steve.

Needle in the Haystack

I’m a new, self-published author with a book I think will be enjoyed by many if they can just find it. Game Keepers is the first of what I hope will be several books I publish over the next few years through my own publishing company, Number 6 Publishing. Turning from my career as an environmental scientist to a publisher and author of books for kids is quite a change. It has been a lot of fun, but there have been many new things to learn, most of which come with an unpleasant price tag. The world isn’t particularly kind to authors in my situation, but we’re a group that doesn’t give up easily.

Getting to the point of selling the book was probably the easiest part of the journey for me. Marketing has been a huge challenge, particularly after purchases by friends and family dried up. I know that the faithful have told others about the book but even with my large family that only takes you so far. It feels like my book is simply a needle in a huge haystack competing against the thousands of books neatly displayed in huge bookstores and featured on major websites. How do I get people to even bother to check the haystack to see if there is something worthwhile inside?

Multiple outlets are being used to advertise the book, including social media, libraries, and book stores. That alone doesn’t set you apart, however, because this business is very competitive with an ever-growing group of talented new writers. Of all the possible outlets, I want most to be able to share my book with the local community. Game Keepers has a baseball theme, and I am currently a coach and an umpire in the neighborhood Little League. I find it unethical, however, to use my platform in the Little League to advertise. That has caused me to seek other outlets to reach this same community, outlets such as the local hardware store. One day I would like to do a book reading at the store with both new and old faces from my community.

I haven’t yet dreamed of being lost in one of Van Gogh’s beautiful piles of hay in his “Haystack in Provence”, but sometimes I feel that way. Sometimes I feel as if my story is covered by layers of inescapable hay. My hope is that people will come by, pick up a fork, and tear apart the haystack. Quickly the needle lost in the haystack becomes treasure.

Thank you so much, Steve, for the guest post. Writing and completing your book is hard, but I always think that the marketing side is even harder! I (and I’m sure the readers of my blog) wish you every success with Game Keepers.

Game Keepers by Steve Dressing

Baseball is no longer fun for the kids in the Waterfalls youth league after the playoff game ends in an ugly argument among parents and coaches. The players leave the ballpark in shame, but big George Starr kicks at the ground and everything changes.

An amazing adventure begins as they discover a magical world underground, Down Home, and encounter strange and magical beings who help them play better and have fun. Trouble begins, however, when several players break the rules of this new world.

An intruder presents them with a far greater challenge. Can they stop this trespasser and save Down Home without breaking even more rules and risking permanent banishment?

Purchase links: Amazon UK, Amazon US

About Steve Dressing

Writing has always been a passion for Steve Dressing. Throughout high school and continuing through graduate school, Steve turned to writing in the forms of poetry, creative writing, and story building.

When Steve and his wife decided that one of them should remain home to help raise the kids, Steve agreed that he should be the one. At this point, the children were beginning to write in school. Steve’s oldest daughter, Courtney, would frequently come home with a different story she had written. This and his experiences helping out at school and coaching caused Steve to rediscover his own passion for writing.

Steve found the stories that deserved to be written from his observations of the world around him, stories that empowered children, allowed kids to find their own meanings to life, and argued that children should be wide open to the many opportunities of their youth.

Author Guest post – The Battle of the Bucket List Author by Urcelia Teixeira

I am delighted to welcome author of the Relic Chaser Adventures Urcelia Teixeira to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today. She has a great guest post for you to read and after I will tell you a little about her books. So, I will now hand you over to Urcelia.

The Battle of the Bucket List Author 

When I recently escaped my demanding brood and fled to the nearest coffee shop to finish my latest book, I soon found a complete stranger –all corporately dressed – pull up a chair at my invitation only table.

He had been sitting behind me and noticed that I was writing a book. I have no idea how long he’d been eyeballing my screen, but what followed was forty-five minutes of him sharing his dream to write and publish a book.

If you log onto Amazon or any of the massive online publishing portals, you’ll notice it’s flooded with – as I call them – ‘bucket list’ authors.
The stay-at-home moms, corporate dads, retirees or bookbloggers who have always had the desire to author a book are forced to succumb to the self-publishing monster to fulfill their dream. (Because let’s face it. You’d have to be JK Rowling or EL James to instantly get signed by a traditional publisher!)

And herein my confession… I am a proud bucket list author!

Yup, I am one of those who had the fulfilling corporate career, did my dues by raising three children (to where they are finally able to feed themselves!) and realized I only have about 20 years left before I am supposed to retire. (Yes! I’m 46!)

So, if not now, then when, right? And then came the self-doubt. That little voice in the back of your head that tells you the whole world will be laughing at you, so why bother?

Well, I did bother and have zero regrets! Yes! Even when my husband and kids had to resort to making their own two-minute noodles three nights in a row so I could finish another couple of chapters. I did it! I self-published not one, but two Archaeological Thrillers that will have Indiana Jones and Lara Croft cringing with jealousy! (Or so my reviewers keep telling me #grin). I have fans! Ones who actually want an autographed book and liken me to the Ernest Dempsey’s and Nick Thacker’s of the world!

But do you, the bookblogger, the avid reader, and dare I say publisher really know what goes on in the mind of a self-published author?

While I certainly can’t speak for the other bucket list authors out there, I most definitely can share what this bucket-list author endures on a daily basis.

Let’s start with the fact that I have to pop a pill every night just to switch my mind off from plotting a book good enough to sit next to my mentors, mentioned above, on the bestselling list. It never stops. Grocery stores, while driving my car, next to the soccer field even in church (Don’t judge me! Blame Alex Hunt!)

Point is; my mind is continually conjuring up exciting characters, ancient relic mysteries and evil criminals that will keep my readers coming back for more. I have become the catatonic zombie wife and mom, entirely self-absorbed and removed from my household because my mind is busy hunting down a relic in an underground tunnel in the middle of Cambodia somewhere. (Hint! Check out my latest book in the Alex Hunt series.)

Then, at some point, you heed to the advice of the professionals out there and fork out a small treasure to hire beta readers, editors, and proofreaders to turn your masterpiece into a scarlet canvas. Enter the devil on your shoulder that says you should stick to carpooling and take this dream off the bucket list! But you bounce back and keep going, tougher and stronger than before.

Then comes the copious amounts of self-marketing that tests your sales skills like never before! Years across multiple corporate sales industries left me totally unprepared for tackling this beast! The (I believe) sole reason so many authors chase after the coveted publishing contract. After all, they know all the shortcuts to beating Amazon’s algorithms and shoot you straight to #1 on the Amazon Bestseller lists; have the world’s best editors and book cover designers at hand and have a thousand book marketers fighting to get a copy of your book. What’s not to covet?

Which brings me to the much-needed book reviewers whom, as a new self-published author you simply cannot do without. But nothing grows a thicker skin than seeing that dreaded 1-star with the giant axe that chops you and your book to pieces and dooms you into slamming your laptop shut for two weeks while you lick your wounds. And we all get them. It’s an essential part of ‘growing up’; so don’t sweat the small stuff. Let the sarcasm and malicious word porn roll off your back and CARRY ON! It’s ok. It shapes you, humbles you, pushes you to do better and helps you learn from your mistakes.

So what’s left? Oh yes… the budget! Book marketing costs money; lots of it! Listing your book on large promo sites like Bookbub and Netgalley costs a small fortune (or a thirteen times bigger one if you live in South Africa and have to convert Rands!) Can you market your book for free? Absolutely, but it might take several books and years to get anywhere near any bestseller spot worthy of being discovered by hungry, adventurous readers.

What’s the moral of the story, you might ask?

Stay true to yourself as a bucket-list Author, don’t get discouraged and keep doing what you love! WRITE!

If I’ve missed anything or you wish to add more, do comment below or shoot me an email at books@urcelia.com

To sign up for my VIP reader’s list, please click HERE.

Massive thanks, Urcelia, for writing this great guest post. I really enjoyed reading it.

Urecelia has two books in the Relic Chaser Adventure series. Here is what they are about:

Alex Hunt and the Chase for Rhapta

I am Alex Hunt, daughter of the famous Archaeological Hunt Team. Head Researcher and… Relic Chaser!

When Alex Hunt’s mother tragically dies during her lifelong quest to find Africa’s ancient Lost City of Rhapta, Alex develops Agoraphobia (an unnatural fear of specific places and situations) and vows never to chase again.
So when her father, Professor Charles Hunt, Head of Archaeology at a prestigious British University mysteriously disappears several years later, it leaves her with no choice and forces her out of hiding to find him.

With nothing to lose, battling her worse fears and with the mighty University behind her, she travels to Tanzania, Africa in search of her missing father.

The chivalrous and charismatic Sam Quinn, the University’s illusive top Archaeology student accompanies her, and she finds herself in unfamiliar territory with a man who manages to chip away her self-built walls.

Her action-packed adventure through the treacherous African Jungle brings forth an abundance of danger, fear, and heartache as she rediscovers her love for life, science and ancient relics, beyond her cocooning existence and disease.

Will she find her father and the Lost City of Rhapta or will she die under the curse and the native-fearing Rhapter-bird said to guard the vanished city?

Alex Hunt and The Golden Urn

ALEX HUNT and SAM QUINN are back for another Action-packed Archaeological Adventure! This time, in the Cambodian jungle!
Finding The Golden Urn was supposed to be easy. Nothing the skilled Alex Hunt and Sam Quinn haven’t done before. But little did they know they would become the center of an international conspiracy. A conspiracy, so entangled in a web of secrets and crime that it could cost them their lives.

Faced with danger and underground syndicates, they soon realized they couldn’t trust anyone. Nothing was as it seemed.

After their return from The Lost City of Rhapta (Alex Hunt Adventures Book 1), Professor Charles Hunt retired and handed the reins to his daughter, Alex.

So, when the sacred Golden Urn believed to have contained Buddha’s remains, mysteriously disappeared from a mountain shrine in Cambodia, the Cambodian government hired the highly acclaimed pair for their assistance in finding the holy ancient relic and returning it to its rightful position in the Royal temple in Phnom Penh.

Alex and Sam were on the next plane to Cambodia in their quest to find the sacred Golden Urn. But what they encountered was far more than what they expected.

Would their pursuit for The Golden Urn put them through the ultimate test, or would it lead to the discovery of a relic no one even knew existed?

You can buy Urcelia’s books here:

Amazon UK and Amazon US

About Urcelia

An emerging author in Mystery Adventure Fiction, Urcelia’s inspiration for her novels emanate from her keen interest in all things mysterious. From vanished civilizations, ancient relics, and lost treasures to UFO’s, conspiracy theories and even Ghosts.

As a mother of three sons, she stands little to no chance not to be swept up in classics like Indiana Jones, National Treasure and The Mummy and often binge-watches Netflix mystery series like Stranger Things, with her husband.

Her novels are generally based on true-life historical legends, which she turns upside down into page-turning Action & Adventure Mystery fiction, and occasionally Romance Mystery Fiction; suited to readers from 15+.

She loves travel and solving mysteries and can’t resist sharing her adventures with her readers.

Connect with Urcelia:

www.urcelia.com

Facebook: @urceliabooks

Twitter: @UrceliaTeixeira

Instagram: urceliateixeira

 

Guest Post with Melvyn Small -‘Write It And They Will Come?’

I am delighted to welcome Melvyn Small to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today with a great guest post. Melvyn is the author of The Darlington Substitute and the founder of Indiepenned.

Write It And They Will Come?

Over the years I have had numerous ideas for novels. I thought the only things that stood in my way were my ability to eke seventy or eighty thousand words from those ideas and having no experience whatsoever as writer of fiction. If I could circumnavigate those minor hurdles, then I would have a bestseller on my hands. Following that, the likelihood was that scores of Hollywood producers would be ringing my phone off the hook. Easy!

A few years ago, yet another idea struck. As I lay slumped on my settee with the familiar companion of a glass of Hardy’s Crest (other Australian red wines are available) I had a thought. My televisual delectation that particular evening was the CBS show Elementary starring Jonny Lee Millar as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Doctor Joan Watson. I liked it. At least, I liked the idea of it. They’d taken the original work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and moved it somewhere else. My overriding thought was that they could have gone further with it.

As it transpired, this idea for a literary masterpiece was different from all those that proceeded it. It was peculiar in that I actually got on with it and wrote the book. Actually, two books. Given I was uncertain if I could turn an idea into seventy thousand words, there is a little irony in that I managed to find one hundred and sixty thousand across the two volumes. In the interests of full disclosure, I should point that I cheated a little by writing a series of short stories. That said, I’m told the books read very much like a novel, as there is a story arc running across the piece. One reviewer described the books as an “episodic novel”. Which, in hindsight, makes sense.

If I park the reserve of my Englishness for a moment, I can tell you that these books are actually bloody good. I’m not aware of anyone who has read it and said differently. Apart from my brother who read the first page and objected to my prose. Hey-ho.

The tale that tells the story from red wine-lipped idea to paperback is a little longer than that. The story of conversations in pubs and bizarre synchronicity is well documented elsewhere, and I will therefore spare you. Suffice to say, I hooked up with an independent publishing company who helped me turn my manuscripts into very professional-looking ebooks and paperbacks.

The independently published route was very good. It got a paperback with my name on into my hand pretty rapidly. It also gave me complete freedom with respect to what I did with my books. I had a copy of the ebook to send to reviewers and a box full of paperbacks to tout around the local bookshops and send off to movers and shakers in the world of film and television. The success of the latter is still a bit of a TBC. What this freedom and independence also means is you are on your own. It means you don’t have the backing of a marketing department and the advantages of the connections of a large publishing company. The world is awash with books, some good, some not so. Therefore, it is very difficult to get the word out about a new book. It would be nice to think that if a book was good enough then the rest would be easy. I’m pretty sure that isn’t the case.

The question therefore is: Should I have explored a more traditional route to publishing? The answer is: I don’t think so. I’m quite confident that I would have spent a lot of time sending out manuscripts and received a disproportionately small number of rejection letters. The Holmes books are a cult thing. People really like them. Whether the marketing machine of a large publishing company could scale that popularity is debateable. Although the books have received good feedback from around the world, the popularity they have achieved does tend to focus around the North East of England. This is from where I originate and is where the stories are set.

Personally, my honest assessment is that they could gain popularity across a wider audience. I’ve seen the reviews… several times. Whether I could convince a London-based publishing company that, I will probably never know. I somehow imagine a working-class Sherlock Holmes from Middlesbrough might not be their thing.

Let’s be realistic. A publishing company isn’t going to publish a book that they don’t think will sell in large numbers. Why would they? They are a business and in they are in the business of selling books. The problem is what they think might sell is largely down to their experience of what they have already sold. They work within the world as the perceive it. You can’t blame them. We all have bills to pay. No one wants to hang their hat on a flop. However, literature is an art and art is about taking chances and stressing the boundaries of what’s gone before.

The traditional publishing route is harder than that for someone with an original idea. Many publishing companies, large and small, have stopped taking submissions from new authors. Consequently, to get your masterpiece onto the desk of a publishing company you must first convince a literary agent, with bills to pay, to see outside the established norm. This shift in how things work has resulted in literary agents facing a deluge of manuscripts to wade through. As a result of this, the agents have found a new way of working and are now looking for new authors from within the ranks of those enrolled on creative writing courses. The point here is that there are a few hurdles to cross and those involved in this process don’t appear to have an interest in expanding the art form.

This may all seem very anti the traditional publishing route. It’s not meant to be. They fulfil a need. There’s as much a place for fast food as there is gourmet restaurants. Things can happily coexist. I’ll leave it to you to decide which part of that analogy is working with the big five and which is independent publishing. If somebody starts their writing career as an indie author before getting snapped up by one of the big boys, then good on them. Let’s just hope they don’t forget us indie renegades when they do. Personally, I’d be more than happy to kick around the idea of a six-figure advance. I’m also not too adverse to moving a few things around to talk about a TV or film deal.

Failing that, I think there is a massive opportunity for both indie authors and book lovers to band together and extol the virtues of some of the great literature being created outside the mainstream. To that ends, I created Indipenned, a corner of the internet exclusive to independent literature. At the core of this is that thought the most effective form of promotion is word of mouth. If we can get enough authors, poets, small presses, book reviewers and independent bookshops to start extolling the virtues of independently-written literature, we can give indie authors a real chance. The plan is to make books more about merit and less about marketing budgets. We want to lend a hand to those working outside the world of the big corporations.

Indipenned is still in its first year. This initial period has been all about getting some of the great indie authors that are out there to join us. We’re really happy with how this has gone. Although we are still looking for authors, the focus has now shifted to letting book lovers to know about us. One of the ways in which we are doing this is by publishing a brand-new Holmes novella in the short stories section of the Indipenned website. This story has just completed a blog tour, which included some of the web’s leading book reviewers. The reviews have been brilliant.

“An interesting and enjoyable take on one of my favourite classics.”
“I giggled from start to finish with the dry humour that rolled off of each page.”
“The best novella I have ever read.”

The Darlington Substitution by Melvyn Small is published by Indipenned. It can be read for free now on the Indipenned website or via the Indipenned Facebook page.

A huge thank you Mel for this insightful and interesting guest post. I really enjoyed reading it.

Isolation Junction by Jennifer Gilmour *Guest Post*

I’m delighted to be helping Jennifer Gilmour with the promotion of her book, Isolation Junction, today. The fictional account of Rose, a young woman trapped in an abusive relationship, Jennifer has drawn on her personal experiences to write this book. She hopes that it will help others to recognise if they are in an unhealthy relationship and to enable them to see that they can break free from it.

Domestic abuse is a subject close to my heart and I am always pleased to support Jennifer in the work she does to raise awareness. For a limited time Jennifer has made Isolation Junction free on Kindle. Today is the last day it is up for grabs so grab it while you can. 

I will now hand over to Jennifer to explain why she has decided to give Isolation Junction away for free.

My name is Jennifer Gilmour and I am a survivor of domestic abuse, I have pub-lished two books both with a focus on raising awareness about domestic abuse at their core. Whilst both aim to raise this awareness one is written as a work of fiction whilst the other is a compilation of survivor stories and therefore non-fiction. Both work in different ways to educate and raise awareness of this insidious and unac-ceptable behaviour.

Over Christmas, incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police rise. Assault and domestic murders increase 25% during the festive period with a third of them been on Christmas Day itself. Bombarded with images of the perfect nuclear family gathered around the gold baubles of a Christmas tree, it can be easy to forget that Christmas is a time of coercion, punishment and violence for many women* and men.

Now I know it isn’t Christmas anymore but January can be just as bad because all those credit card bills come in alongside your usual direct debits. There is even a day in January called Blue Monday and this year it’s on the 15th. The date is generally reported as falling on the third Monday in January, but also on the second or fourth Monday, or the Monday of the last full week of January.
The formula uses many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.
Can you imagine this formula and applying it to an abusive relationship?

For 5 days my debut novel Isolation Junction is going to be FREE on Amazon Kindle, this is the first time ever to happen. It’s the week before Blue Monday, I wonder if those reading will be inspired to take action?

I ask you all to share the link and break the silence surrounding domestic abuse.

UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LX4HLT0
US link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX4HLT0

* https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2015/12/it-s-hardest-time-year-why-domestic-violence-spikes-over-christmas

A huge thank you to Jennifer for doing everything she can to raise awareness about this issue. 

 

Synopsis

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

You can read my review HERE.

About the author:

Born in the north-east, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children. In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write her first novel Isolation Junction. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.

Since the publication of her debut novel, Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed. Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recovery programme for those who have been in abusive relationships.

Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice. Jennifer hopes that Clipped Wings give’s a voice to survivor’s experiences and raise’s awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse.

Blog Takeover/Promo – Patient Zero by Terry Tyler

I’m delighted to hand Bloomin’ Brilliant Books over to the fabulous author, blogger and reviewer Terry Tyler today to tell you about her latest book Patient Zero and a special promo. 

A big thank you to Abbie for inviting me onto her most excellent blog to tell you about my brand new short story collection, Patient Zero, which will be *FREE* on release across all Amazon sites until midnight on Sunday 19th November (GMT). You can grab your copy HERE.

 

Patient Zero comprises nine stories from my post-apocalyptic world of 2024—a deadly virus is sweeping the UK, and normal life is breaking down. The stories are all completely ‘stand alone’ but run alongside my two novels, Tipping Point and its sequel, Lindisfarne. When I was writing these books, I would find myself creating minor characters for the purpose of the main plot, then developing their own stories in my head. I started to make notes; soon, I realised that a collection of shorts was the best way of telling their tales.

Some of the characters in this collection are mentioned just once in the main story, such as Aaron in #NewWorldProblems, who makes a two line appearance in Tipping Point. Others, like Flora in Princess Snowflake, play a larger part; she arrives in the second half of Lindisfarne. Princess Snowflake is her backstory.

I hope you will download Patient Zero while it is free, and please tell your friends!

The Blurb

The year is 2024.

A mysterious virus rages around the UK.

Within days, ‘bat fever’ is out of control.

1. Jared: The Spare Vial
Jared has two vaccinations against the deadly virus: one for him, one for a friend…

2. Flora: Princess Snowflake
The girl with the perfect life, who believes in her father, the government, Christian charity and happy endings.

3. Jeff: The Prepper
What does a doomsday ‘prepper’ do when there is nothing left to prepare for?

4. Karen: Atonement
She ruined her sister’s last day on earth, and for this she must do penance.

5. Aaron: #NewWorldProblems
Aaron can’t believe his luck; he appears to be immune. But his problems are far from over.

6. Ruby: Money To Burn
Eager to escape from her drug dealer boyfriend’s lifestyle, Ruby sets off with a bag filled with cash.

7. Meg: The Prison Guard’s Wife
Meg waits for her husband to arrive home from work. And waits…

8. Evie: Patient Zero
Boyfriend Nick neglects her. This Sunday will be the last time she puts up with it. The very last time.

9. Martin: This Life
Life after life has taught the sixty year old journalist to see the bigger picture.

Tipping Point and Lindisfarne are the first two full length novels in the Project Renova series. A third will be available around late spring/early summer 2018.

A huge thank you Terry for taking the time to tell us about your latest book. It sounds great, I particularly like the sound of Aaron’s story. What are you waiting for, folks? Get downloading HERE for free while you can!

Publication Day Guest Post With J.D Dixon ‘What I Write About When I’m Writing’

I am delighted to be joined by J.D Dixon today with a fab guest post. James’s debut novel The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle is out today. Happy publication day! And now I will hand you over to the man himself.

What I Write About When I’m Writing

I get asked from time to time: ‘why do you write?’

I struggle to answer, as I’m sure many writers do. There is no particular choice to become a writer. There is no eureka moment when you know it is what you have to do, no sudden yearning to see your words in print- just a quiet pull that was there before you noticed it, and which will be there long after you have taken it for granted. This is how I would describe my desire to be a writer- or rather, my desire to write (there is a difference).

I know this might sound ambiguous, ineffable. Nearly meaningless. And I don’t like it because generally I favour clarity of thought over any such muddled talk of feelings and yens. But for many writers it is nonetheless the truth. Or at least the closest rationale we have for deciding to tell stories for a living.

And so: I am asked why I write, and all I can offer is a slight shrug, and all that slight shrug has to offer is ambiguity. But, take it or leave it, this is my truth. It is the why of my writing.

But I am also often asked: ‘what inspires you? what do you want your writing to achieve?’ And to questions like these I have concrete truths. And these truths help me to explain the why: when there are so many things to say, I might ask, how can you expect me to stay quiet? And in these truths I am able to find more of a driving force behind my work than my original slight shrug.

I hope, I hope.

There is a great deal of anger- undirected or misdirected, now appropriated for the purpose of storytelling. There is the shared feeling that we are oppressed every day by everything around us, unable to let go. There is depression. There is hilarity, both heartfelt and sometimes quite manic. And there is an overwhelming reverence for the world, undercut only by a similarly large amount of scorn for everything in that world. This is what drives my creative process and this is what I write about when I’m writing, and I doubt that I’m alone- many writers, and indeed readers, use literature to get to the bottom of such issues.

Because, really, this is where fiction is at its most powerful. And to pull it off there are a few tricks to bear in mind. As I said, I dislike ambiguity. When I sit down to plan a novel I cannot have any ambiguity of purpose. When I am fleshing it out day by day I need a strong guiding element. I tried going without- writing by the seat of my pants, as one interviewer recently called it- and the resulting manuscripts were duds. They were not worth printing. They meandered, they struggled to find focus, they made no statement. Worse: they were lazy.

Put ambiguity out of your mind. Take two things in its place. First, clarity and a sense of purpose. Second, a mission statement- an overarching goal and a well mapped path to follow.

Before I even begin the first paragraph of a piece of prose I need to know the ending. In detail. I draft the full thing, scene by scene, over probably a dozen pages. Naturally, the details will change over time. Scenes will be moved or deleted and new scenes will take their place. I might have an idea for a new bit-part character, and I’ll slot them in. But I’ll slot them into my existing plan, and everything else will stay on track. This way I don’t have to worry about anything: is the story holding a reader’s attention; is there a point to it all; do characters’ reactions line up, and do they all act accordingly with the narrative? But mostly: have I managed to harness the depression, the hilarity, the reverence and irreverence that I want my writing to be about? If there is any doubt to these, I will usually have caught and changed it by the time I start writing. And so when I do begin that first chapter I can just enjoy writing in the freedom of knowledge that everything is according to plan.

I try never to be too precious about writing as art. I think of it more as a craft, and there is often a lot of graft involved. Bear this in mind, put aside a couple of hours every single day, hold those little and large emotions front and centre, and hack away at the plan. Hit your wordcount, cross scenes off your list, and watch it come together. There is a lot of joy to be had in this process.

I did all of these things with The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle. I wrote the first draft very quickly, but it had a solid backbone. I had several pages of notes on the various issues raised in the narrative- the desperation of homelessness, the depression of living without hope, the rage of being cast out of society without care or reason- and I had the synopsis written in advance. So as I sat down to write I didn’t have to think too much about anything. I could just refer back to my original aims, my original character plan, my original driving motives, and the rest just flowed.

So, writers: if anybody ever asks you ‘why do you write?’ you wave your plan in their face and tell them: I don’t know, nobody really does, but it’s all coming together. And readers: you will know they are telling the truth.

Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful guest post James!

So, what is The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle about? Here is the blurb…

In a Scotland beset with depression, Willem is one victim among many. He loses his job, his mother dies and he is forced out of the flat they shared. Seeing no other option, he takes to the streets of Edinburgh, where he soon learns the cruelty felt outside the confines of his comfortable life. Stories from his past are interwoven with his current strife as he tries to figure out the nature of this new world and the indignities it brings. Determined to live freely, he leaves Edinburgh, hiking into the Scottish Highlands to seek solitude, peace and an unhampered, pure vision of life at nature’s breast.

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle is at once a lyrical, haunting novel and a set piece in the rage of an oppressed, forgotten community. J. D. Dixon’s sparse, brutal language captures the energy and isolation of desperation, uniting despondency and untrammelled anger in the person of his protagonist.

Sounds good, right? You can purchase your copy HERE.

Connect with J.D Dixon on Twitter at @James_D_Dixon

 

 

 

Blog Blitz – A Time To Change by Callie Langridge *Author Guest Post*

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog blitz for Callie Langridge’s A Time to Change today and sharing a great guest post on inspiration by the lady herself. But first here’s the all important book blurb:

A Time to Change Blurb

“I would rather love passionately for an hour than benignly for a lifetime.”

In a house full of history and secrets, the past will not stay where it belongs…

Lou has always loved Hill House, the derelict manor on the abandoned land near her home. As a child, the tragic history of its owners, the Mandevilles, inspired her dream to become a history teacher. But in her late twenties, and working in a shop to pay off student debts, life is passing her by.

That changes when a family disaster sends Lou’s life into a downward spiral and she seeks comfort in the ruined corridors of Hill House. The house transforms around her and Lou is transported back to Christmas 1913. Convinced she has been in an accident and is in a coma, Lou immerses herself in her Edwardian dream. With the Mandevilles oblivious to her true identity, Lou becomes their houseguest and befriends the eldest son, Captain Thomas Mandeville, a man she knows is destined to die in the First World War.

Lou feels more at home in the past than the present and when she realises the experience is real she sets out to do everything in her power to save her new friends.

Lou passes between 1913 and 2013, unearthing plots of murder and blackmail, which she must stop no matter the cost.

On her quest to save the Mandevilles by saving Thomas, Lou will face the hardest decision of her life. She will learn that love cannot be separated by a century.

A Flash of Inspiration by Callie Langridge

I don’t know about you, but when I read a book, I’m fascinated by where writers get their ideas. If you’re lucky and have an interesting life – maybe you’re a polar explorer, an historian with a wealth of knowledge on an era, or a world-leading expert on a particular subject – then you have a great background on which to frame your fiction. But if you’re like me, you are none of these. What interests me is being human. I’m fascinated by our feelings and emotions and intrigued by what lurks inside all of us that makes us who we are: what shared experiences join us and what has happened to each of us to distinguish us from the person who sits beside us on the bus, with their bag of shopping on their knee or flicking through the newspaper.

If you write about feelings and emotions, you run the risk of having a book full long passages of internal monologue. That might work for some great writers, but for most of us, we need a good story with characters and layers to wind our stories around and within.

At school I spent a lot of time gazing out of the classroom window, creating stories of a world infinitely more interesting than the lesson I was supposed to be participating in. I was, am, and will always be an unashamed daydreamer. I’m also an observer. Like a sponge, I soak up life that’s going on around me. I watch people, I eavesdrop on conversations, I cherry pick aspects of life to turn into stories, scenes and dialogue. I allow myself to be inspired by TV, films, books, the news, anything and everything. And then there are my amazing dreams. I’m lucky to have the most vivid dreams like scenes from movies. The idea for A TIME TO CHANGE came in a dream. I dreamt of a splendid party in a beautiful manor house with chandeliers and champagne. It was on the eve of the First World War. I knew that there was a conflict about a man. I saw the party through the eyes of an outsider who ran from the party, stumbled through the snow and then – I don’t want to give too much away here! – but something amazing happened and it was clear that the person through whose eyes I was seeing this was not of that time. I woke up and wrote it down. But that was it. Until I thought about it. The story germinated. Shoots came off. Who was this person? What was this manor house? Why was she there? Bit by bit a story began to take shape.

And those are the two most important tools in my writing box. I get my ideas by listening to my imagination – being open to the stories it finds for me – and then asking ‘What If’. What if this happened, what if that happened. What if she said this? What if he did that?

I find a springboard and then go off on a journey of discovery.

A huge thank you Callie for the wonderful guest post. I’m always curious about where authors get their ideas from and really enjoyed reading this.

Author Bio

Callie was born and brought up in Berkshire. After a brief teenage spell in the depths of Lancashire, she moved back to London.

Having left school at 16, she studied drama before embarking on a career in marketing. This saw her work in music marketing in the heady days of Britpop in the nineties. She unleashed her creativity in the design of window displays and marketing campaigns for the leading music retailer. More recently she has followed her passion for social history and currently works in marketing for a national historical institution, promoting projects and running events.

On hitting her thirtieth birthday, she decided finally to take her A levels and gained A’s in English Literature and Language, and Film Studies – not bad when working full time! – and this spurred her on to take the first of many creative writing course. A few years later and she has had a number of short stories published and plays performed at theatres and venues across London.

Callie lives in London with her long-term partner and an ever-growing collection of antique curiosities.

Twitter: @CLangridgeWrite
Facebook: Callie Langridge https://www.facebook.com/people/Callie-Langridge/100017408860162

A huge thank you to Sarah Hardy at Bombshell Books for inviting me to take part in the Blog Blitz and to Callie Langridge for taking the time to write a great guest post. A time to change is published on 24th September 2017.

 

A Wedding in Cornwall Series by Laura Briggs – One Year Anniversary Celebration

Laura Briggs’s gorgeous Wedding in Cornwall series celebrates its first anniversary this month and I’m delighted to welcome Laura to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today to tell you more about her books.

Thanks so much to Abbie for letting me share about my Cornish-themed romance series with the lovely readers at Bloomin’ Brilliant Books!

It’s hard to believe that my short romance read, A Wedding in Cornwall, celebrated its one year anniversary this month. When I first penned the story of American event planner Julianne and her exciting new job at a Cornish estate, I never dreamed it would become part of a best-selling series. But readers have been more than kind, their enthusiasm making the first book a Top 100 seller, even. They have warmly welcomed its sequel stories, and I’m so glad they continue to enjoy the world of Julianne, her co-workers at Cliffs House, and the charming Poldark-esque gardener, Matt. Because of such avid readers, these characters have experienced many unexpected adventures, everything from planning a Christmas Eve Ball, to helping with a baking contest, and even a royal wedding (at a Cornish castle, no less!).

The next installment in the series, A Romance in Cornwall, brings more excitement to the quiet Cornish village in the form of a famous romance novelist searching for their next story. To celebrate its release, along with the first book’s anniversary, readers can download Book 1, A Wedding in Cornwall, for free via Amazon and other major eBook retailers for a limited time beginning August 23rd. I’m also thrilled to announce that readers will now be able to purchase the first six novellas in one volume—paperback and digital formats available this month!

I’m thrilled with the success you have had with the Wedding in Cornwall series Laura and I am sure it will continue to delight readers.

If you haven’t read any of the books in the series be sure to download A Wedding in Cornwall for free while you can!

You can read my review of A Wedding in Cornwall  HERE, A Christmas in Cornwall HERE and an excerpt of A Manor in Cornwall HERE.

Author Bio

Laura Briggs is the author of several chick lit and romance stories. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and admires novelty scarf designs as well. Her favourite Jane Austen novel is Sense and Sensibility, and she enjoys reading everything from women’s fiction to modern day mystery novels. She loves spending time with family, caring for her pets, going to movies and plays, trying new restaurants, and dreams of traveling around the UK and Europe someday.

Twitter Account: http://bit.ly/1ME9ivJ
Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/1JjeMoI
Author Website: http://paperdollwrites.blogspot.com/