Wednesday 29 March 2017

Book ephemera

Only three days to go until the A-Z Challenge 2017 kicks off! I'm busy finalising my posts and as part of this process, I've been going back through all the files for my books. Not just the drafts themselves, but lots of other little things surrounding them. So I thought it would be fun to have a closer look at some of these...
  • Out-takes
Erm, yeah, I've got a lot of these. I was surprised to discover I had 17,789 words of deleted stuff for Book 1. Most of this amounts to over-explanation of certain things and telling instead of showing. In contrast, I've only taken one 250-word scene out of Book 2. But I'm yet to get into serious edits for that. I'm sure it'll grow exponentially.
  • Timeline
I find these indispensable, as I always tend to lose track of what day it is. So far I've only got one for Book 1, which only takes place over a couple of weeks, but it's a busy couple of weeks. It's important to know what happens when.
  • CP Notes
It's essential to keep all these in one folder so I can compare and contrast what different people thought of each thing. That helps me weigh up what changes to make.
  • Book 2 Notes
Not CP notes, but a list of various things to be checked and verified, often in relation to Book 1. It's surprisingly easy to have things that contradict each other in a series so I need to make sure everything adds up seamlessly.
  • Book 3 Plan
I don't normally do a lot of planning, but for the final book in the trilogy it seemed a pretty good idea, so I wouldn't veer off down an irrelevant track. In a lot of ways this is the most important book as it has to tie everything together. Everything's still open to change as the story develops, though.
  • Book 1 Marketing Plan
I started this a while back, as I originally planned to release Book 1 earlier, but decided to have the rest of the series written first. It's a handy thing to keep a hold of, adding or amending certain items as trends change.

I'm sure lots of you have similar things for your books and probably much more - Pinterest boards, character profiles, storyboards, wall charts. (If I had my own office, the walls would be covered with WIP-related stuff!) I'd be interested to hear all about it.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

Still Me... After All These Years blog tour

It’s a pleasure to be participating in the Blog Tour for STILL ME … AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: 24 Authors Reflect on Aging by Karen Helene Walker through MC Book Tours.

This is a charming, funny, and enlightening collection of essays about aging. In addition, Karen is offering a tour-wide giveaway featuring two (2) print copies (U.S. entries only) of STILL ME and two (2) eBook copies of STILL ME (International entries). See how you can enter to win below.

STILL ME…AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: 24 Authors Reflect on Aging
◊ By Karen Helene Walker
◊ Kindle: 2000 KB, 102 pages
◊ Genre: Biographies, Memoirs, Nonfiction
◊ Publication Date: April 4, 2017
◊ Language: English

Poignant...Humorous...Brutally Honest!

A collection of personal reflections guaranteed to keep you inspired and entertained on that journey we all travel together: The Journey of Aging.
With a blend of grace, dignity, warmth and humor, women and men from 60 to 90 and from all walks of life candidly share the blessings and pitfalls of aging – from keeping dreams alive and keeping sex lives active to dealing with retirement, loss of independence and a growing sense of mortality.


STILL ME is available at the following sites: Amazon (print and Kindle), Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes. Be sure to add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

I asked contributing author E.V. Legters why she decided to take part in the book and here's what she had to say...

"Karen Walker happened to post her call for submissions at precisely the moment I had made a major decision. During the months just prior, I had formally retired, published my first novel with the second due out in May, and was casting about for an entirely new arena from which to write my third. No longer bound by family -- my sons now out in the world -- or jobs, I would do what I had longed to: live in Europe. Giddy with the possibility, research revealed Portugal as viable.  I had never been there, but I have solved that. I am on a reconnaissance mission as I write this. Viable may become likely.

And so, when Karen's request for forward-facing, optimistic pieces on the up-side to being this age came in, I couldn't resist sharing my enthusiasm."

Here's the full list of contributors:

Rev. Clara Alexander is an ordained New Thought minister who creates and performs sacred ceremonies, including unique weddings, funerals, memorial services, baby blessings and house blessings. She is also a popular speaker, inspiring groups with her talks on how we cling to our grudges, how we overuse the phrase “I’m sorry” and how we can live the life we love.
Wendy Brown recently retired from a career in wildlife biology, where she studied sandhill cranes and whooping cranes as they migrated from Idaho to New Mexico. Wendy eventually found a permanent home in Albuquerque, where she and her husband enjoy the sounds of sandhill cranes from their deck. Since retiring from state government in 2014. 

Valerie Capps has bypassed the porch rocking chair to pursue her life-long passion for writing, thereby proving that in today’s world, life can begin again at 65! Valerie lives in Nashville with her husband and their spoiled-rotten Welsh Corgi.
Mary W. Clark retired from her law practice in 2007 and transferred her observation and composition skills to travel writing. She is currently working on a book about her father’s World War II experience flying “the Hump” from India to China over the Himalayas. Mary lives in Paris, Texas.
Fran Fischer: “I was born at a very young age and that happened 82 years ago, so I don’t remember much about it. I’ve crammed as much living into my life as possible, and I’m not through yet. I’ve traveled extensively and I even flew in the same zero-gravity plane that the astronauts trained in. I live in California with my first (and only) husband, and we celebrated our 62nd anniversary this year.”
Pat Garcia (Patricia Anne Pierce-Garcia Schaack) is an American expatriate living in Europe. An accomplished musician as well as a writer, she has been writing (and reading) since childhood.
Mark David Gerson is the author of more than a dozen books, including critically acclaimed titles for writers, award-winning fiction, and compelling memoirs. Known as “The Birthing Your Book Guru,” Mark David works with an international roster of clients as coach and consultant, helping them get their stories onto the page and into the world with ease.
Holly Deuel Gilster plays “make believe” for a living. In other words, she is a professional actress and musician. Holly also loves painting with words as an accomplished poet, an award-winning short-story writer and a book reviewer for The Or Echo.
Aaron Gordon is a retired social sciences community college professor. He and his wife, Ellie, have been married for 65 years and have three children and grandchildren.
Ellie Gordon is a retired public school teacher who spent the best 20 years of her life in the classroom. A Chicago native, she now lives in New Mexico.
Karla “Rosie” Harper recently retired from teaching elementary school, freeing her to return to her early love of dancing. Today, when not helping out with her grandchildren, Rosie is taking dance lessons, spinning on a dance floor or performing in senior centers and retirement communities with Albuquerque’s Sugartime, as a singer as well as a dancer.
Linda Hoye is the author of Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude, available through major online retailers. A native of Saskatchewan, Linda currently lives in British Columbia (by way of Washington State) with her husband and doted-upon Yorkshire Terrier.
E.V. Legters hasn’t so much retired as she has exchanged one life for another — from rewarding years with career and children (while pursuing the arts on the fly) to a life with the arts at its center. She is the author of Vanishing Point and Connected Underneath and is currently hard at work on her third novel.
LD Masterson lived on both coasts before becoming landlocked in Ohio. After twenty years managing computers for the American Red Cross, she now divides her time between writing, volunteer work and enjoying her grandchildren. Her short stories have been published in several magazines and anthologies, and she is currently working on a new novel.
Kathleen Messmer not only runs a film production company with offices in the UK and the US, she is an avid photographer and wildlife advocate. In the unlikely event that she ever retires, Kathleen plans to live on a ranch with draft horses and pygmy goats and vineyards and fruit orchards, somewhere near the water. Oh, and a cowboy...maybe.
Karen Norstad has worked as cashier/gift wrapper, secretary, boutique seamstress, administrative assistant, manager of employee stock options, executive assistant, and budget analyst. Now retired, Karen’s life revolves around lounging about, wearing PJs until four in the afternoon, obsessing over the news, reading, fusing and slumping glass, practicing piano, keeping a small balcony garden and cooking.
Matt Nyman’s nonlinear career path has included working in the geological sciences, teaching high school, stay-at-home parenting and, currently, training tomorrow’s teachers. Poetry equently resides near the surface of his existence, occasionally erupting onto paper.
Jill Plaman was born and began aging in Milwaukee, but she has lived and worked in Albuquerque since 1977. She holds a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MSW from the University of Minnesota. Her special interests are travel, international folk dancing, reading, hiking and spending time with family and friends.
Maureen Polikoff is a clinical social worker/ therapist who has always pursued many other creative endeavors, including painting, playing music and, now, writing. A Connecticut native, she lives in New Mexico with her husband, Michael.
MaryFrank Sanborn left Boston 33 years ago, to apprentice with photographer Walter Chappell in Santa Fe. Still in love with the beauty of the Southwest, MaryFrank photographs, writes, hikes, travels, teaches yoga and meditation, makes soups on Sundays, and dreams of the ocean and whales.
Patricia Stoltey is the author of four mystery novels. The most recent is Wishing Caswell Dead. She lives in Northern Colorado with Sassy Dog, Katie Cat and her husband, Bill.
Susan Swiderski grew up in Dundalk, Maryland, where everybody calls everybody hon and eating steamed crabs is a sacrament. Although she’s happy in her adopted Georgia, part of her heart still lingers on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, explaining the setting for her novel, Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade. Susan is currently working on a trilogy, proof that this old gal is still a pathological optimist.
Jan Castle Walker is a retired teacher and an active artist. She lives in Davis, California with her husband, Mack.
Karen Helene Walker is a novelist, memoirist and essayist and the author of The Wishing Steps and Following the Whispers. When not writing, Karen is tap dancing, folk dancing or performing with the musical group Sugartime at retirement communities. Karen is currently working on her second memoir. 

You can follow Karen and the other authors along on their tour by checking out the schedule HERE.

This tour-wide giveaway is for two (2) print copies (U.S. entries only) and two (2) eBook copies of STILL ME … AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: 24 Authors Reflect on Aging. The giveaway will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, April 4.

To enter, click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient.

Thanks for stopping by today. Be sure to check out this charming book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday 20 March 2017

A-Z Challenge Theme Reveal

I'm pleased to announce my participation in this year's April A-Z Challenge! Today's the day for the big reveal and I'm excited to post mine and hop around to see what everyone else will be getting up to. So, without further ado...

My theme will be "Black & White Snippets"!

While putting the finishing touches to my upcoming YA dystopian trilogy, Black & White, I thought it would be fun to introduce you to some of the characters, places and concepts that populate the world I've created. There won't be loads of details or spoilers - just short scenes and vignettes that hopefully build some intrigue. A fun bit of advance marketing, if you like. And they will be short - not more than 200 words per snippet, because I know there will be a whole host of other A-Z themes to check out.

I'm currently busy getting all my posts written and scheduled, and hopefully I'll be good to go for the 1st. Can't wait!

What do you think of my theme? Are you taking part in the Challenge this year?

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Where Words Fail, Music Speaks cover reveal

Today, I'm excited to help reveal the cover for the Where Words Fail, Music Speaks Anthology, which is scheduled for release April 21, 2017.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Where Words Fail, Music Speaks is a collection of short stories and poetry by writers from all walks of life.

Each story is based on the titles of 90s Britpop songs, including Come Back To What You Know, Bittersweet Symphony, Animal Nitrate, Disco 2000, and more.

Our list of authors is: Kyra Lennon, Clare Dugmore, Annalisa Crawford, Wesley Copeland, Robb Turburville, D H Sidebottom, Audrina Lane, M.B. Feeney, Karen Frances, S.J Warner, Scout Dawson, Kimberly Morgan, Maddie Wade, Rebeccalou Heronpontin, Andrea Coventry

All proceeds from the sales of this anthology will go to Clusterbusters.

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I have to say I can't wait to read this, it's for an excellent cause, and I'm all over the idea of using Britpop song titles - that was the era when I first got into music!

Monday 6 March 2017

February round-up, goals for March, my wife's blog launch and Dark Winds Rising cover reveal

Wow! We're already nearly a week into March and it's high time I put down some goals for the month.

First, let's look back at February. I was pleased to have got quite a lot done and I hope that continues for this month:
  • Added 10,000 words to my WIP. Reasonably happy with how this is going and can finally see an end in sight.
  • Wrote and submitted a short story for an anthology.
  • Got caught up on writing book reviews. This is big for me - it's something I need to get much better at.
For the rest of March, I will be taking a short break from my WIP and, with the A-Z Challenge waiting just around the corner, doing my best to get as many posts prepped as I can. Having sat out last year, I'm really hyped for this. And I say I'll be "taking a break" from my book, but without giving away too much before the theme reveal, these posts will really help me reconnect with the series as a whole and should end up being very useful.

Next, my lovely wife, Heather, has just launched her very own blog where she will be talking all about her business, our family and dogs, animal rescue, and whatever is going on with us. Please click on over here and show her some support! 

And finally, a good friend of mine, Mark Noce, recently unveiled the cover for the second in his excellent historical series set in medieval Wales. I highly recommend you check out the first installment, Between Two Fires. You can check out my review here.

Dark Winds Rising is the sequel to Mark's debut novel Between Two Fires, and comes out with St. Martin’s Press December 5th 2017.

Dark Winds Rising (synopsis)
Queen Branwen finds her world once again turned upside down as Pictish raiders harry the shores of her kingdom. Rallying her people once more, she must face her most dangerous foe yet, the Queen of the Picts. Ruthless and cunning, the Pictish Queen turns the Welsh against each other in a bloody civil war, and Branwen must attempt to stop her before her country threatens to tear itself apart. All the while Branwen is heavy with child, and finds her young son’s footsteps dogged by a mysterious assassin. Branwen must somehow defeat the Picts and save her people before the Pictish Queen and a
mysterious assassin threaten to destroy their lives from the inside out.

About the Author

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. When not reading or writing, he’s probably listening to U2, sailing his dad’s boat, or gardening with his family.

Dark Winds Rising is his second novel in a historical series published by St. Martin’s Press. His debut novel, Between Two Fires, (also published via St. Martin's Press) is available wherever books are sold. Learn more at or connect via his newsletter or blog.

Between Two Fires: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Macmillan

Wednesday 1 March 2017

IWSG March 2017

Time once again for the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, where we can share our doubts and fears over all things writing, now including a regular talking point. Hosted as ever by Alex J. Cavanaugh, today's co-hosts are Tamara NarayanPatsy CollinsM.J. Fifield and Nicohle Christopherson. Give them a visit!

Today's question is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

My current insecurity was pretty much covered in my last post, where I worried whether I should be writing every day, as is so often recommended; I have to say, I felt reassured by many of your comments along the lines of making forward progress is the thing that matters, and I definitely feel like that's happening. Thanks!

So, let's have a look at this month's question...

I have to say, I can't think of any particular time when I've done this. I'm always looking for the next thing, the shiny new idea, and I don't want to take a step back. Sure, I might have a look at older stories, smile at how I've changed since writing them and then put them back in their box (or computer folder). But this question has given me pause for thought, particularly as regards those stories from my pre-blogging days. With the plethora of tips and wisdom I've picked up since being part of the community, there are probably things I could do with these stories that I would never have thought of at the time. If I do decide to embark on such an adventure, the results would doubtless be interesting, and I'd be sure to let you know how it all went!

Check out the other IWSG participants here.