Wednesday, 28 September 2016

September Progress Roundup and Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

Tara Tyler - Pop Travel

5 Stars

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

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads

Cortney Pearson - Phobic

4 Stars

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

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads

Crystal Collier - Moonless

5 Stars

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

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads

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

4 Stars

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

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads

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

Monday, 19 September 2016

Seasonal Writing

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 12 September 2016

Timeless Cover Reveal

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

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


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

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

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

IWSG September 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Between Two Fires blog tour

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

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

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

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

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

Social Media Links 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

IWSG August 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go here to check out more IWSG posts!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

IWSG June 2016 - Moving Forward

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

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

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

Check out the other IWSG participants here!