Monday 17 December 2018

Corruption and Black & White Cover Reveal

Hope everyone's well and enjoying the festive season so far! Today I have not one but two cover reveals - as well as unveiling the cover for Corruption, the second part in my YA dystopian trilogy, the first part, Black & White, has also had a makeover. First up, here's Corruption...

Corruption (Black & White #2)

Release Date: 11th February 2019

Cover design: germancreative

Blurb: Wellesbury Noon and Ezmerelda Dontible have found themselves in a position where they can make their native land somewhere that lives up to its name: Harmonia. However, they’re setting their sights further afield for their number one task: eradicating the disease that has plagued the neighbouring country of Loretania for generations and allowed the privileged Harmonians to live in a sterile environment.

After dispatching a team of scientists to Loretania, armed with cratefuls of an antidote and vaccine and headed up by their friend, Dr George Tindleson, Welles, Ez, and Welles’s brother Mal – who grew up in that benighted nation – start to worry when they hear nothing back, despite what they had agreed. Commandeering a fishing boat to follow the science team over the sea, they soon find that, while the disease may be on the way out, a new kind of infection has set in – the corruption they thought they had stamped out in Harmonia.

Can they get to the root of the problem and eradicate it before even more damage is done to an innocent people?

*** Warning – this book contains themes that some sensitive readers may find upsetting. ***

Pre-order links: Amazon USAmazon UKSmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboiBooks

Add it on Goodreads

And Black & White:

Black & White (Black & White #1)

Cover design: germancreative

Blurb: What is the price paid for the creation of a perfect society?

In Whitopolis, a gleamingly white city of the future where illness has been eradicated, shock waves run through the populace when a bedraggled, dirt-stricken boy materialises in the main street. Led by government propaganda, most citizens shun him as a demon, except for Wellesbury Noon – a high school student the same age as the boy.

Upon befriending the boy, Wellesbury feels a connection that he can’t explain – as well as discovering that his new friend comes from a land that is stricken by disease and only has two weeks to live. Why do he and a girl named Ezmerelda Dontible appear to be the only ones who want to help?

As they dig deeper, everything they know is turned on its head – and a race to save one boy becomes a struggle to redeem humanity.

Add it on Goodreads

If you fancy treating yourself to an early present, Black & White is now permafree!

That's it from me for this year. My first post for 2019 will be IWSG in January. Until then, have a restful time and may your days be merry and bright!

Wednesday 5 December 2018

IWSG December 2018

It's the first Wednesday of the month and that means for the last time in 2018, it's time for the group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted as ever by the erstwhile Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offer a safe space where we can air our fears and insecurities in a mutually supportive environment. Why not consider joining if you haven't already? Today's co-hosts are J.H. MoncrieffTonja DreckerPatsy Collins and Chrys Fey.

Although I've got the usual insecurities associated with the release of a new book - which is coming in just over two months - added to some new ones about this being a sequel (will people who liked the first book like this one? Will they even read it? Will they be shocked/disappointed/upset by the turn things are taking?), I'm trying not to dwell on them and focusing on being festive as we dive (headlong, it seems) into the holiday period and the new year. Of course that's a time for new outlooks and mindsets and I'm going to make this one about positivity. Those insecurities will still be there, but having this space to deal with them is going to be really helpful. Something to be thankful for!

So let's have a look at this month's IWSG question: "What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?"

My writing space is quite sparse because it also happens to be the dining table, so I can't clutter it up with too much stuff - it needs to be cleared every night. However, I'm sure I can rustle up five things that are usually close at hand.

  • Laptop - This might seem an obvious one, but I know not everyone types things up right away. I can't imagine another way of working, however. I know they shouldn't, but things always seem more official when they're captured in electronic form. This brings me on to my next item...
  • Notebook - I've not always been known to keep one of these around, but I'm trying to get better at that. It's great for jotting down random thoughts as they occur and trying to conceptualise how a plotline might play out. I've been making good use of the one I won from Patricia Lynne.
  • Music - This is a funny one because although it's essential for inspiration, I can't actually listen to anything when writing or editing my own stuff. However, it powers me through my day job for which I use the very same space. And as a Luddite who's not exactly embraced the world of streaming and playlists, my music still comes out of physical objects (stereo, radio and, since last Christmas thanks to my lovely wife, record player!)
  • Tea - Something else that keeps me going through the day, I'll regularly have a cup of this near to my keyboard.
  • Dictionary - This is most often used for my day job, ie editing other people's stuff. I'll often come across technical terms with which I'm unfamiliar, and because my internet is often unreliable, it's usually quicker to look them up the old-fashioned way. I've found that very technical ones aren't always there, however.
So nothing too unusual here, but I still like my writing space. If I ever get my own space, it would probably become a lot more cluttered!

In IWSG news, the next Twitter pitch event is just around the corner - January 15 to be precise. Check out the details here and get your pitches in front of top editors and agents!

Signups are open for this month's WEP challenge with the theme of Ribbons and Candles. We're looking forward to seeing what you come up with! Check the link for more details.

* I'm just going to add in a quick request for help here - I still have a few spaces available on the blog tour for my upcoming release, which is slated for February 2019. You can find details and a signup form here. Thank you!

To check out other IWSG posts, click here.

Monday 26 November 2018

Corruption Blog Tour Sign-up

Wow, only a few weeks until Christmas - how did that happen? It seems like the holiday season is in full swing, especially for my American friends. If you celebrated Thanksgiving last week, I hope you enjoyed it and didn't get too wiped out by the sales!

And in this time of goodwill to all, I once again humbly call on your help, this time with the blog tour for part two, entitled Corruption, of my dystopian trilogy. I couldn't imagine not doing a blog tour for one of my releases - although times change and platforms come and go, I think it's the most fun promotional tool for a book launch and the one that allows for the most engagement, allowing readers a sneak peek at what makes those characters tick. It's a little while off, with the release date on February 11th, but I know that calendars can fill up quickly. If you'd like to help, just fill in the handy form down there.

I'm also holding a cover reveal on December 17th, which will be a double header as I've also given the first instalment, Black & White, a makeover. You can choose to host both or just the latest book's, as you wish.

Thank you kindly, and have a great week!

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Starting Afresh

How's everyone going? I thought I'd drop in as part of my effort to get back to more regular blogging. For a while I've only been posting monthly for IWSG, which I really enjoy, and I miss posting more frequently. I've been fairly inactive in terms of writing for a while - editing, that's another story, as I wrangle with the knots and plotholes of my trilogy. Book 2 is finally on the way, with more news on that to follow. But today I'm infused with the joy of starting something new. It's unfamiliar territory for me - first person, female protagonist - but this character's been nagging at me for a while, in a quietly insistent way, wanting her story to be heard. So finally, I capitulated. Only just started, but it's fun. I'm finding that first person allows me to explore that character's inner life and world in much more depth. It's good to push the boat out and try something different. Not counting sequels, this is the first time I've started work on a new full-length story for over four years, and it's refreshing to go back to a completely clean slate.

In other news, inevitably we're starting to gear up for the festive period with all the planning that entails, and we're also putting our house in order so it's nice for Christmas - painting, tiling, decorating. Got a pretty busy time coming up, but it's all good stuff.

Well, that's it for now. What are you up to? Already planning for the festive season? What are your thoughts on writing in first person?

Wednesday 7 November 2018

IWSG November 2018

Time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, headed as ever by the mercurial Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's a safe space where we can share our writing insecurities and fears among like-minded peers. Why not join if you haven't yet?

The co-hosts for the November 2018 meeting are Ellen @ The Cynical SailorAnn V. FriendJQ Rose and Elizabeth Seckman.

I could post about being insecure over putting back my current publication plans to next year, but the truth is, I've long since learned to roll with the punches that life can throw at us. In this case, the incident was my fault, so I can't get cut up anyway, and if you saw my post last month, I'd like to reassure you that my furry friend is back to his old self again, albeit with a truncated tail. So let's turn our attention to the more positive matter of this month's IWSG question, which is a lovely one actually: "How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?"

This is an interesting one because I haven't really taken up any other creative hobbies, although recently, some lines of poetry popped into my head and I felt moved to write them down. Not anything that I intended to do, but it was during a period of inactivity with writing, so maybe there's something in the idea that creativity always wants to work its way out in one form or another. As for the quality, that's another matter; I tend to think anything I do in that area is terrible (I once tried to write songs, which featured some truly shocking lyrics), but who knows, I might try to do more and see where it goes, even if no one else sees them.

In IWSG news, the next Twitter pitch event is in January. Another exciting opportunity to get noticed by editors and agents. Don't miss it!

And for our new partnership with WEP (Write Edit Publish), we're hosting a competition to decide the theme for the February contest. 

Rules: Submit your idea for a WEP February theme by November 12 to admin AT Nothing too U.S. culturally bound. Should have wide appeal.

Prize: Feature in the December newsletter for the winner. And, of course, the winning theme will be the official February WEP theme!

Deadline: November 12. Winner announced in the November newsletter on November 28. 

What do you think of this month's question? Are you taking part in IWSG? Interested in the Twitter pitch or WEP? Find the full list of participants here.

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Bowing out of IWSG for October 2018

This is just a quick note to say that I'll have to unfortunately bow out of this month's IWSG. One of our five dogs unfortunately had an accident where his tail was slammed in a door; he's had to have two operations and now has only a stump of tail left due to the wound not healing. He's actually at the vet now and we're waiting to see whether he'll need a further operation, though it's hard to see what else they can take away. Needless to say he's in a great deal of pain and he needs a lot of reassurance at the best of times, so we're basically providing round-the-clock care - when I'm not actually working at my day job, that's what I'm doing, leaving no time for anything else.

I've disabled comments on this post because, while we're hoping things will improve this week, that's far from certain and I don't like being unable to return comments.

I hope everyone has a great day and, all being well, I'll be back next month!

Wednesday 5 September 2018

IWSG September 2018 and Submissions Open for Next Anthology

It's September - wow, how did that happen? - and as it's the first Wednesday of the month, that naturally means it is time for the group posting of the wonderful Insecure Writer's Support Group. Headed up by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the group meets once a month to offload writerly worries in a safe, non-judgmental space. This month's co-hosts are Toi ThomasT. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield and Tara Tyler.

Before we get to this month's post, a very exciting announcement as submissions are officially open for the next IWSG anthology!

Word count: 3500-6000
Genre: Young Adult Romance
A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.
Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018
How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.
Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced September 5.
Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

This is a fantastic opportunity for all writers to appear in a prestigious publication. Will you be entering?

Now let's turn to this month's IWSG question which is What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

Well, this does tie into my insecurity this month as it will soon be time to self-publish the second book in my series, which does take a somewhat darker turn in some places, and I hope readers will go with me on that. It's something I've been thinking about a lot - I'm considering pursuing some form of traditional publication on my next project, but does that allow one to take the kind of risks that are possible with self-publishing? It comes down to the individual publishing house, I suppose. The traditional route is something I have always wanted to experience, and being a hybrid author does come with own its freedom as you pick and choose what is most suitable for each project. Perhaps I would benefit from greater editorial input and intervention too - it remains to be seen if the freedom afforded by self-publishing means I'll be flying too close to the sun with this next book and will end by crashing and burning.

Ultimately, I would hope to work with a company that offers full support to the author's vision while flagging where something might not seem quite right. Perhaps one of the smaller publishing houses?

What about you? Where are you on your publication path? Will you be seeking publication in the next IWSG anthology?

Friday 31 August 2018

Hear What You Want by Kyra Lennon out now!

One of my oldest author friends released a new book this week, and I was lucky enough to receive an ARC. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book - in the past, Kyra Lennon has been known for sweet romances that I have thoroughly enjoyed, even though that is not my first genre of choice. The key is that her characters are always completely relatable, and that carries on into this new offering which takes a turn into some darker territory, doing so in a way that is skilful and keeps you guessing.

Title: Hear What You Want (Chaos and Consent Book 1)
Author: Kyra Lennon
Blurb: Ambra
Things I wanted:
A great night out, and to meet my favourite band.

Things I didn’t want:
To wake up the next morning with my underwear beside me on the floor and a large chunk missing from my memory.

Guess which one I got.

Things I wanted:
To meet a pretty girl at my band's gig and have some fun.

Things I didn’t want:
To find a photo of me and the pretty girl on social media with people questioning whether or not I raped her.

But here we are. And that one photo?

It changed everything.

**This book contains sensitive topics that some may find upsetting.**

My review:

One of the best novels I've read in a long time. I think its greatest quality is that it deals with very hard-hitting, challenging issues in a style that is very accessible - we get alternating viewpoints from both main characters and I felt a great deal of sympathy for both of them, including Noah, who we have to believe is behind the attack that underpins the plot - now that's no mean feat. The problem is that neither of them are sure whether an attack took place, and while they're trying to piece it together, they're facing a backlash that could threaten both of their futures.

This very timely novel is a sobering warning about the pitfalls of social media - which as well as being a force for good, can all too often become a vehicle for a mob mentality in which people jump on the bandwagon to vilify someone with no worries about the consequences. In the days following the night that changes her life, this has almost as devastating an effect on Ambra's life as the incident itself. I won't give away any spoilers, but let's just say the nature of trust also comes under the microscope here as something that is increasingly fragile in the digital age.

Lennon throws in a good couple of twists towards the end - I hadn't actually realised this was the first in a series, so now I'm eagerly awaiting part 2 to see where she takes us next.

My only quibble with this book - which was very minor, and might not bother someone else - was the Americanisms that pop up throughout (eg "apartment", "asshole", "most everyone"). British people don't speak like that - I even share the same hometown as Ambra, Brighton on England's south coast, so I would have preferred a more authentically British feel. It jarred me out of the story slightly at times, but didn't spoil my overall enjoyment.

That aside, this was an engrossing read that kept me turning pages, and is the best I've read from an author who has consistently produced excellent books. Highly recommended!

Wednesday 1 August 2018

IWSG August 2018 and Next Anthology Contest Announced

Time for another group posting of the IWSG - quite hard to believe it's August already! Our heatwave in Scotland has turned decidedly autumnal. Wherever you are, hope you're safe and not too hot or cold. This is the time every month where we can unload our writing worries and woes among supportive friends - with Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh taking the helm as always, our co-hosts this month are Erika BeebeSandra HooverSusan Gourley and Lee Lowery.

Just the usual insecurities this month about prepping for an upcoming release - I believe I'm very nearly done with edits for book 2 of my trilogy, now it's just finishing touches and making sure its teeth are brushed and hair combed before sending it out to seek its fortune. I'm also reading through the draft of book 3, having been quite shocked to see that it was last saved six months ago. I was stuck on the ending then, but a readthrough is sparking different ideas off and I'm heartened that the writing is not quite as terrible as I had feared. Let's turn to this month's IWSG question.

"What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?"

This is quite an interesting question because I firmly believe that mistakes and stumbles are a vital part of the process - they're how we learn, after all. You just have to do what feels right at the time, but if I was going to give advice, it would be not to put all your eggs in one basket - be open to different routes to publication and if sending out queries to agents or publishers, keep writing in the meantime rather than obsessively checking your inbox. Yes, I was guilty of this one, but I soon learned my lesson. It took me a while to write another book, but I did write the first short stories I was really proud of at this time, which brings me on nicely to a couple of big announcements for the IWSG!

First we have:

The 2018 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest

Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced September 5.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

The good news is this gives you a headstart of over a month before the contest opens! Time to get thinking caps on.

We also have details of another exciting new venture to share. The IWSG has teamed up with the good folks at WEP (Write-Edit-Publish) for a challenge that all our members can take part in, including on Facebook. Sign up today to post August 15. Details as follows:

The August WEP Challenge – A Change of Heart

Who hasn’t had one? This one’s easy, right?
A commitment made when a prospect looked attractive, a decision on a course of action, and then regrets and reluctance to follow through. It could be an engagement, a date, a diet plan, a chore someone said they’d do and didn’t follow through. A strip poker-game. Or maybe a gamble with super-high, panic inducing stakes. A break for independence that once made, gives pause for second thoughts. A bolt for the grass-always-greener pasture and then wanting to vault-n-turn right back. Something offered, then withdrawn. Myriad ways to go.

There's plenty going on! Any thoughts on either of these challenges? Any pitfalls to share for others to avoid? Check out the other great IWSG posters here.