Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Interview with Marie Flynn

This week I'm delighted to introduce Stephanie Flynn, who writes urban fantasy under the name Marie Flynn. Her latest book, Demon Curse is out right now, and I was able to grab an interview with her about it.

Tell me more about your book?

At the heart, it’s about a man from a spiteful home trying his best to impress his family, and in his desperation, he makes a mistake that destroys everything he loves. The rest of the series is him learning from his past mistakes and rectifying them the best he can with very limited resources.

What prompted you to write it?

I had images in my head of a woman bickering with a stray cat, and the cat complaining about being a cat. The story filled in from there, with the woman being the protag. But after editing the blurb over and over, I realized the cat was the most interesting character. So the cat, iKat, became the star.

What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book after this one?

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Plastic free updates

For a while now, I've been trying to reduce the amount of plastic I buy. Sometimes this is easy; sometimes it feels impossible. I will not buy new clothes that have any non-biodegradable fibres in them, and I'm cutting out as much other plastic as I can.

Let me give you my latest updates...

Hair conditioner:

In my last update in May, I was about to try a solid hair conditioner and promised to report back to you all.

Well, I can tell you that it's not bad! It leaves a bit of a waxy feel when it's wet (though this goes when it dries) and adds thickness (something my hair really doesn't need, but I'm happy to put up with). There's plenty of shine and it smells fresh and clean. I would recommend it.

I'm using the Gruum nourishing shampoo and the shine enhancing conditioner (though I may try out others and see what the difference is). I've used other shampoo bars in the past and they've left my hair feeling like straw, so I'm delighted to have found this range which is actually working!

Toothbrush/toothpaste:

This is still largely a failure, though I saw in a supermarket that Colgate have brought out a wooden toothbrush, so change appears to be afoot! My two main issues are that the wooden toothbrush head is too big (research done/product tested on men rather than both sexes?) and this makes it hard to get to my back teeth. The toothpaste tablets... I seem to need to use two to feel as if they're actually cleaning my teeth, which does make the whole system a lot more pricey. I will persevere. If anyone has any recommendations, hit me up!

Still winning with...

Toilet paper! (and tissues and kitchen roll)

We get ours from Who Gives a Crap. If you use that link, you can get £5 off your first order. We use them not just because the paper is great, but because 50% of their profits go to charities that help build toilets and improve sanitation around the world.

Soap:

We tend to buy from Friendly Soap, because their soaps are competitively priced and smell wonderful. They also partner with charities working on hygiene, and tree/hedge restoration projects.

Deodorant:

This has had to work hard over the last few days! It's a deodorant not an antiperspirant, so there's still some sweat, but I don't stink! I use Cosy Cottage's solid deodorant in a tin. There are two fragrances and I have both of them. I think I prefer the geranium and lavender version, but the other (sandalwood and tea tree) is also very lovely. There's still free delivery on all orders and if you sign up for their newsletter you can get 10% off. In the hot weather, I keep mine in the fridge, otherwise it can be too soft, bordering on liquid!

What other plastic-free wins would people recommend?



Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Slow progress...

I'm hypermobile. As in many of my joints bend the wrong way. When I was a kid, this was fun and I used to revel in being able to gross people out with it.

Fast forward a few decades and I have major issues as a result of unstable joints. In order to maintain even a modicum of stability, I have muscle issues around many joints (shoulders, hips, knees, ankles). In my hands, it hasn't been possible to maintain joint stability and so I now have very bad arthritis in my thumb joints.

How does this link to progress (or lack of it)? Well, although typing is unaffected by my thumbs screaming at me, holding a pen is. And we all know how much I need to write by hand when I'm planning/writing a book.

Currently, I can manage about 1 side of A4 before my right thumb is too sore for me to hold a pen/pencil. Luckily, I can write left-handed πŸ˜ƒ (and indeed wrote exclusively left-handed during my PhD due to my right wrist having a prolonged unstable/painful few years).

The problem is, although I can write left-handed, I can't write left-handed as fast as I can (on pain-free days) write right-handed. And I'm still needing to plan both Realm #5 and Shiny New Thing. Which means a lot of writing. What would normally be taking me about an hour to write, is currently taking me a morning.

"So, just type then, if typing is unaffected."

Hm. I wish my brain worked like that, but it never seems to work to type my planning notes (though I am trying to do that more, to save my thumb).

Ah well. I'll keep on plodding on.


Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Updates on all the books...


My brain has been having the opposite of Writer's Block recently. SO MANY BOOK IDEAS! And yet, only one brain and a busy life. I know that I've been talking about a variety of ideas over the past few months, so what stage is everything at?

Book #10

This is the time-travel romance that I was writing at the end of 2020 (and for some of 2021). It's currently on the back-burner, partly because there are some major plot issues that I need to resolve but mostly because a new book set in The Realm was screaming at me.

Realm book #5

This follows on immediately from "Invasion". I'm currently ~30% into the first draft. I know the plot; it's largely finding the time to write it that's the issue. It's hard to tell you any more about it without giving away spoilers for "Invasion".

Two more books set in The Realm

Again, hard to tell you much about these without ruining "Invasion" and Realm #5. At the moment I have good plot notes for #6; less so for #7. I might wrap up The Guardians of The Realm series with book #5. It's more likely I will finish on book #6. These are on hold, though I am adding notes to their outlines as and when they come to me.

Shiny New Thing

In my "Notes and Ideas book" I have this, dated 14th May this year:

No concrete ideas. Warrior, body inked with tattooed symbols/runes. Has magic. On a journey. Wears leather armour also bearing the same symbols, but it's actually the tattoos that protect him/give him his magic.

Most of the rest of the plot came to me while I was on holiday. See this blog post for a bit more on that. I now have pretty good plot notes for this (though not 100%) and some of it written (those scenes that I could see as clear as day). I've been trying to work on it in an afternoon, and Realm #5 in a morning, but it's ended up more one day on one book, another day on another.

Essentially, I know the main character (and some aspects of others). He is being taken across country as a prisoner. He is magical, though his powers have been curtailed. A war that had been over for a generation is now brewing again, and I know his role in it. The setting is solid; some of the characters are sorted and perhaps ~75% of the plot is in my head (and I'm trying to get it down on paper, too). I suspect this will end up a new series. 😊

Random Other Book #1

I have good ideas about this, though I haven't actually started a new notebook yet (it starts getting really serious when I do). It involves Scottish mythology, a missing relative, and magical beings. This was what I'd been stewing over two years ago!

Random Other Book #2

Again, I can see some bits of this quite clearly, though the full plot eludes me for the moment. It involves an ancient artefact that isn't what the archaeologists think it is. I know more than that about what happens, but I'm keeping it to myself for now!

Random Other Book #3

This may actually get folded into Random Other Book #1 as it's still a bit woolly. There are links to the elements, a trapped spirit, and a woman who is key to the trapped spirit. Beyond that... Yeah. Woolly.

Given that it takes me at least 6 months to write a first draft of a book, I can see I'm going to be busy for some time! My current focus is to get Realm #5 and Shiny New Thing to first draft stage. The rest will just have to wait.



Tuesday, 22 June 2021

First 5* book of the year...


I haven't been posting many reviews over the last however long, because a lot of books I've read have been a bit 'meh' and I don't like leaving bad reviews; I'd rather share things I've loved.

The first book I've genuinely felt like awarding 5* to is Justin Lee Anderson's novel The Lost War. In fact, I loved the book so much, I approached Justin and asked if I could interview him and he agreed - see last week's post!

The Lost War
The war is over, but something is rotten in the state of Eidyn.
With a ragged peace in place, demons burn farmlands, violent Reivers roam the wilds and plague has spread beyond the Black Meadows. The country is on its knees.
In a society that fears and shuns him, Aranok is the first magically-skilled draoidh to be named King's Envoy.
Now, charged with restoring an exiled foreign queen to her throne, he leads a group of strangers across the ravaged country. But at every step, a new mystery complicates their mission.
As bodies drop around them, new threats emerge and lies are revealed, can Aranok bring his companions together and uncover the conspiracy that threatens the kingdom?

To be honest, I wouldn't normally have read this kind of book, but I'd entered the SPFBO6 competition last year (see the review I got here for Aegyir Rises as part of the competition), and Justin's book was the overall winner, so I wanted to see what it was like.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Author Interview with Justin Lee Anderson

I am absolutely delighted to be interviewing Justin Lee Anderson on the blog this week. Justin has just been awarded the SPFBO prize for 2020-2021, for his book The Lost War. If you've not yet checked it out, do so. It's fabulous! Having read it and loved it, I contacted Justin and asked if I could interview him, and to my delight, he said yes!

First of all, congratulations on winning SPFBO6! You must be delighted. The winning book, The Lost War, is the first in your Eidyn series. Tell me more about it?
Thank you! I like the description of Lost War as a ‘twisted fantasy road trip’. It’s essentially a mystery set in a traditional fantasy world, with murder, conspiracy and monsters. I suppose it’s a bit like what would happen if Stieg Larsson played D&D. Fantasy and mystery are my two favourite genres so I sort of mashed them together.

What prompted you to write it?
Three things: I wanted to write a book about RPG characters that friends and I had played for years; I wanted to write a story set in a world based on Edinburgh’s history and mythology; and I wanted to write a political allegory. It was when I realised they were all one book that it came together.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Someone new has come into my life...

First of all, he gave me a pebble that looked like the night sky, and told me to protect it with my life.

Then he gave me a shell with a small hole in it.

The following day, he told me his name.

Finally, he told me his story.



Yes... I went away for a short break in the Hebrides and, lo and behold, a new book has sprung forth. This always happens, and sometimes the new ideas aren't really a whole new book; they just get melted into whatever is the current work in progress. But, dear readers... I have started a new notebook! 

The cognoscenti among you will know that that means business. Only big ideas that have the legs to make it into a book (or series!) get a new notebook all to themselves. So, now I am attempting to write Realm #5 in a morning and Shiny New Thing in an afternoon. I swear this way madness lies, but if I don't write at least some of his story, I will be driven insane by him chittering away in my head.

When I had scenery like this, it's no great surprise that my imagination was on fire...



Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Author interview with Angela Nurse

I am absolutely delighted to be interviewing Angela this week. I first met Angela a couple of years back (when we could still meet in coffee shops, before covid struck) to talk about using Scrivener for writing, and also just to have a natter. Her first book Jack In A Box is just out, so I took the time to grill her about it, and about life in general.

Tell me more about your book?
Jack In A Box is book 1 in the Rowan McFarlane Mysteries. Rowan is a single mother to a teenager daughter and this is her first case as Private Detective. She was supposed to be joining her Uncle Jack’s agency when he gets murdered and this ends up being her first case.

What prompted you to write it?
I wanted to write a crime/mystery series with a female lead but not a police procedural because I wanted the main character to have more scope in their investigations and actions. I like books with characters you become invested in and I wanted to create a cast of characters around Rowan that readers would also be interested in.

What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book after this one?

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Plastic Free updates

I've not posted about this for a while, but I've been trying to reduce how much plastic I use/buy wherever possible. I thought it was perhaps time to update you on how I'm getting on.

Wins:

We try to buy our fruit and vegetables loose (or in paper bags). This is usually a win, but sometimes either the loose fruit/veg is awful or just not available.

We use loose tea, though since we started that, a couple of companies have stopped using plastic in their teabags. I'm not sure we'll rush back to teabags though. We're quite used to the loose tea now.

We use Who Gives A Crap toilet paper and have been hugely impressed so far. You can get £5 off your first order if you use this link. As well as being plastic-free, the company donates 50% of its profits to water-sanitation projects around the world, which is amazing.

Solid shampoo. This was a complete fail the first time around. My hair felt like straw. But I switched to a new product, by grΓΌum, and my hair feels amazing! It's the only solid shampoo that has actually worked well for me. Again, if you fancy £5 off your first order with them, use this link. They do a range of shampoos and conditioners, as well as a number of other products (not all of the other products are plastic-free). I got a trial bar back in January and I would say it will last me another three months or so, so they really are worth it. I've ordered a conditioner bar and will report back on how well that works.

Mixed:

Wooden toothbrush. It's fine, except (like so many things in life) it's designed for a man not a woman. I find the brush-head too big in my mouth and consequently don't feel as if it's getting to my back teeth well enough. Next time around, I think I will order the child's size and see if that's any better.

Plastic-free toothpaste tablets. These are okay, but I feel as if I need two of them to get a decent clean, rather than just one (which makes them twice as expensive). I may try another brand and see if they're any better.

Trying soon:

I'm going to try Ocean Saver cleaning product tablets soon and re-use the plastic spray bottles I already have. I'll let you know how I get on.

We're replacing plastic pan-cleaners with these knitted hemp ones. Not sure how well they'll work, but I'm prepared to give it a whirl (and knit my own if they work well).

Fails:

There's still too much of our food that's pre-packed in plastic and I don't know how to reduce some of it. The best I can manage at the moment is to check if the plastic is recyclable, though that isn't necessarily actually happening, even if you put it all in the correct recycling bins.

PPE. My Dad is in a care-home and in order to visit him, I have to take a lateral flow test (LOTS of single-use plastic), wear gloves (non-recyclable), a mask (ditto) and an utterly pointless apron (even the care-home staff think these are pointless as only parts of you are covered. Again, it's single-use and not recyclable). I'm hopeful that eventually I will be able to visit Dad without needing to do all of this, but until then, I take the test and wear the PPE and feel sick to my stomach about all the waste.



Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Back in The Realm...

Genuinely what my head feels like!
Nope. No one will be surprised at this news.

"Book #10" - the book I'd almost finished the first draft of just before New Year - is on the back-burner. I started going back through it after "Invasion" was launched and had to check a couple of things with an historian. The things I was checking were okay, but in the course of the conversation, I realised something else in the book (a major plot point...) wouldn't work. It was around the brother of the main character being in the army and stationed at Fort George. Except, he wouldn't have been stationed there, according to the historian (who knows about these things). That, coupled with a) another minor niggle with the plot and b) an overwhelming desire to be back with Aeron and Faran and... well. As I said. No one will be surprised to know I'm currently drafting a 5th book in the Guardians of The Realm series. 😁

I know... I know!! About a year ago I said I wouldn't be writing any more Realm books. But they just won't let me go. The characters keep chattering in my ear when I'm trying to concentrate on something else. They're like Siren Songs, calling me to the rocks so that I can dash my brains out.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Keeping track of characters

In discussions with other writers, we've talked about how to keep track of characters. There are actually two main aspects for me: the names I've used, and what those characters are like. There's a brilliant cartoon by Tom Gauld: The Indecisive Novelist, where the characters from a book are discussing their name changes:

Taken from: https://myjetpack.tumblr.com/post/64666677399/my-book-of-cartoons-youre-all-just-jealous-of-my
No copyright infringement intended

That cartoon can touch a nerve with many of us! So how do we keep track of the myriad of characters that appear in our books?

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

The census rabbit hole!

A few weeks ago I had disappeared down a map-rabbit-hole. This weekend past, I disappeared down the census rabbit-hole. Find My Past had free online access to the census data up to 1911 census over the bank holiday weekend. You needed to register (free) but then could start building a family tree. Clicking on various 'hints' took you to more census data that you could then add to your tree.

In the past, someone had done my father's family tree, going back a few generations. After burrowing around in the census data over the weekend, it became quite clear that the information at the very top of the tree was wrong!

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Busy brains and morning mindfulness

Whenever I have a lot going on, my brain switches into "too busy to focus" mode. I know I have a gazillion things to do and that time is tight, so I need to be focused, and yet somehow I get nothing done.

Even while drafting this, I have broken off to tweak something on the description for Aegyir Rises, answer a message on Facebook, fiddle with something else, and check my royalties (someone is currently inhaling Aegyir Rises on Kindle, if my sudden spike in Kindle Unlimited Pages Read tally is anything to go by... thank you, whoever you are! Hope you enjoy it enough to read the rest of the series.)

Busy brain.

Alongside all that, last week I was helping my mum sort out some things and we found a load of old photos taken by my great uncle, which led to us chatting about him, and now my brain is also interested in doing more research on him. And other members of my family.

Busy brain.

I've been doing a 5-day Ad Challenge (now ended) which means I've been setting up lots of Amazon Ads. Something else to keep looking at (even though I know I won't be doing anything with them for a while and certainly not right this second).

Busy brain...

And I haven't even mentioned book #10 or writing. Or all of the other books I have swirling around my head, demanding to be written.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Writing and mental health

I'm know I'm not alone in having my mental health shredded by lock down, but in many ways it's surprised me. I'm not known for being a party animal. In fact, my "lock down life" is incredibly similar to my "pre-lock down life". The only differences are not being able to see my Dad in his care home, and missing my knitting group. I maybe had one coffee-date with a friend a month, pre-lock down. You'd think I would be able to take this pandemic in my stride.

Turns out that although I'm still as antisocial as I've always been, something about lock down is currently taking my generally more-buoyant-than-drowning disposition and demolishing it. I'm struggling to write (which is really not like me. Normally I have more ideas and desire to write than I have hours in the day). The smallest thing is liable to make me cry. My joie de vivre is gone, leaving nary a trace.

And yet all the signs are good. Vaccination in the UK is going well. I've had my first jab. By the end of the week, both of my parents and my husband will have had their second jabs. The country is slowly emerging from lock down. More people are allowed to meet up, albeit outdoors (at least in Scotland). The weather is sunny.

None of that seems to be filtering through to my emotions.

I'm trying to write my way out of it. Not my books... they currently lie outside my grasp and trying to write them is more frustrating than healing. No, I'm trying to journal, or write to process my thoughts and feelings.

I keep a daily diary where I record how my day has gone. That can often be quite dry and factual, in all truth. But I also have a separate notebook where I just write. It started out as "Morning Pages" and on occasion I still do morning pages. In fact, I should probably go back to doing them regularly. However, these are more "any time I'm feeling low pages" which could be any time of the day.

It's essentially a process to clear my head. I can't change anything that is currently dragging me down. I need to learn to accept that. Just the act of putting it all down on paper seems to help though.

The requirements are simple - a notebook, a writing implement (more often than not a pencil) and some time. Sometimes I write for a few minutes. Other times I'm still in full flow half an hour later. Generally I feel more sanguine afterwards.

How are you coping? What solutions do you turn to? Drop me a note in the comments?



Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Maps and rabbit holes

I love maps and I especially love old maps. Right now I am studying some hand-drawn maps from 1770 showing how land was allocated around Ardersier.

These old maps are amazing, not least for firing up the imagination and creating life-stories and adventures from little more than a list of old names. Naturally, I have no idea what their characters were like - that is pure invention on my part - but there is coding on the map that indicates what kind of ground it is (it's on another part of the map that stretches towards Nairn).

Of course, the real way to get the imagination going is to combine looking at maps like this with gravestones!

A while ago, I was up in Ardersier and my hubby and I spent an afternoon looking at old gravestones. It's a little eerie to find the headstones of the people listed on the map. From the dates, you can work out how old they were when this map was drawn and how old their neighbours were. It's only a few more steps to start imaging their lives.

I found one gravestone very interesting. It had clearly been made for the death of a child, but the intention was obviously for the mother and father to be buried in the same grave eventually. The space left for the father's details remain blank. The details for the mother are more extensive than had been planned for and are crammed in. My brain is immediately going, "Why isn't the father buried here? What happened to him? Who had the mother's details added? The husband? Why did they go for so much when the space was so small? Did they have more children and if so, where are they buried?"

This is the stone:


It reads (as far as I can tell):

In memory of

Alexr McDonald

in Canty who


and Isobell

Dunbar his spouse

who departed this life

August [illegible] aged [illegible]

and their children

James McDonald

who died the [illegible]

Feb 1789 aged [illegible]

months                           


The large space at the top was presumably for Alexander McDonald's death date, and the fact it says 'children' rather than 'child' makes me assume they planned to have more. But there are no more listed, even though the wife was ultimately buried there. So many questions rattle through my brain when I find stones like this! And naturally, I've been scouring the 1770 maps to see if I can find either McDonalds and/or Dunbars. πŸ˜€



Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Spanners... and thinking hats

Spanners

Okay, so here's the thing... I was writing "book #10" before Christmas and had got probably, ooh, 80% of the first draft done before I shifted to editing "Invasion".

"Invasion" is now launched and sailing off into the big, bad world, so I went back to "book #10" to finish off the first draft and start on the edits. 

"Book #10" is a new departure for me. It's a time-travel book, with some of it set in 1762. Before I started the edits, I wanted to check a couple of things with historians. I was checking two fairly general things - one about the construction of an outbuilding; the other about whether a soldier barracked at Fort George would be able to spend much time with his brother in Ardersier. In the grand scheme of things, these seemed insignificant and innocuous and I was checking them because I wanted to ensure the 1762 bit was authentic.

Hmm.

They genuinely were pretty minor things, and the historians were full of lots of fabulous information that helped enormously both with them and with various other things. However... it turned out that the brother wouldn't have been stationed at Fort George if he was in the army. That information, plus some general chat about something else entirely has blown two enormous holes in the plot! 

Thinking hats

So now I have my thinking hat on (how marvellous it would be to have a hat like the one in the picture!) to work out what to do to fix the holes. I have some ideas and I'm pretty sure I can get it all to work. But I need to rewrite about half of the book. So far, I have managed to do an awful lot of things except make a start on that rewrite! Even some housework!

Ah well. Just goes to show that it's always good to talk to experts (even if they do end up demolishing your plot before your eyes).




Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Interview with Michelle Ermens

This week I am delighted to be featuring Michelle Ermens, whose new book The Essence of Magic is launched today! Get your copy now! It's on a special introductory price until 6th April, so don't miss out.

Tell me more about your book? 

In The Essence of Magic, we follow Thera, who has always known that she’s different from her loving, human family. But if she isn’t human, that would make her a special, and they haven’t been seen in human territory for hundreds of years.

After a visit from a masked stranger who warns her of danger and an attack on her village, Thera is forced to flee with her mother and two younger siblings. They end up with no other choice than to enter special territory, a dangerous place filled with strange creatures and magic. Thera’s only chance to protect her family might be to get some magic of her own.

Often, in young adult books, the family of the main character is either absent or not very loving, but I wanted to go in the opposite direction. Thera’s mom and younger brother and sister play a big role in the book. She loves them more than anything and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to protect them.

What prompted you to write it?

It actually all started because I had a good idea for a character, the masked stranger, and the more I thought about him, the more an entire story evolved in my head. Even though this character didn’t end up being the protagonist.

My books often start like that, with one good character, or sometimes just one good line, and then something big grows from that.

What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book after this one?

I just finished writing all six books in the Magic’s Source series, so at the moment I’m going through them, rewriting and refining them. I hope to publish the entire series this year.

I also started a new series in the same universe. I can’t give away anything about it yet, but the story doesn’t completely end with the last book in the Magic’s Source series.

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?

I started writing when I was a little kid. I loved reading more than anything else, it was my way to escape from the real world, and the more I read, the more I realized that I had a lot of stories and a lot of incredible places and characters inside me too, so I started writing them down. First just pen to paper, often in between my homework, and later, thankfully, on a computer. But I still have all those notebooks with short scenes and old ideas and sometimes I love to look through them so they can give me new ideas.

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)

The first full-length novel I wrote was called Souls of the Air. I wrote it when I was fourteen and I still love it to this day. It was never published, of course, but I do plan to rewrite it one day and make an entire series out of it. It was filled with dragons, which I love, so I can’t just forget about it.

Which is your favourite secondary character in your book, and why is it your favourite?

My favourite secondary character is probably Corean. He is a young boy part of a monstrous clan of specials, so he looks rather monstrous himself, but he longs to be different. He loves to read and learn, he’s incredibly sweet, can never stop talking, and is awkward around other people, which I think is adorable.

Where is your ideal writing space?

Rather than one ideal writing space, I would love to travel the world while writing my books. I hope that dream comes true one day, but until then, I usually just write behind my desk or outside in the garden when it’s sunny.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? (not necessarily writing-related!)

If there’s something you really want to do, then you should do it. Even if it fails, that’s still better than not trying at all. Ten or fifty years from now, you’ll definitely regret the things you didn’t do more than the things that didn’t work out.

And now for some more random questions... 

What’s your radio tuned to most often?

Pop music, probably. When I’m not listening to the radio, it’s often musical numbers, Disney songs, or older songs that I know by heart and that I can sing along with.

You’re stranded on an island. You can choose one of the following three things. Which do you choose and why?
1. Limitless supply of paper and pens.
2. A computer which will never run out of battery and which can access the internet, but you can’t post anything/get help via it, only read what others have put up.
3. An endless supply of loo roll. 

Number 1! My two favourite things to do are writing and drawing, so with endless paper and pens, I’ll never get bored when I’m alone on an island.

You can only wear one of the following colours for the rest of your life. Which colour do you choose?
Yellow. Orange. Green. White. Pink. Green. 

I usually only wear black or blue, so green comes closest to that.

Cats or dogs?

Cats all the way! We have the most adorable calico cat at home called Jasmine.

City or country?

I’ve lived in both and I have to say that for now, I’d prefer the city because it has more going on and everything is close by. But later in life I do see myself living in the country because it has a lot more room and green.

Real book or e-book?

Nothing beats the feel and scent of a real book in my opinion, but I do have an e-reader because it’s too heavy to bring real books with me everywhere I go. (I did a five hour hike once with an 800 page book in my backpack and I do not recommend it!)

Fountain pen or biro?

Biro. It’s a lot more convenient and I write a lot faster with it. Plus, I love clicking or twisting the end of the pen while I’m thinking about what to write.

Thanks very much for letting me bombard you with questions!

You can catch up with Michelle at all the following places:

Website: http://mestoriesanddesign.com/writing.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michelle.ermens/
IG: https://www.instagram.com/m.e.books/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Michell76615792
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/michelle-ermens
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20945791.Michelle_Ermens 

Get The Essence of Magic here (US) or here (UK)

And don't forget to check out Michelle's book Lucky.

US readers click here
UK readers click here


Tuesday, 23 March 2021

What next?


"Invasion" launched on Saturday. Phew! With that out in the wild, what's next?

Next up, I'm finishing "A Promise Through Time" - a.k.a. "book #10" in a less imaginative name. This is a new departure for me, though I can see parallels with other things that I've written. It's a time-travel romance, set in the current-day and 1762 in the Highlands - an interesting post-Jacobite time, when life for the Highlanders was difficult. The first draft is ~85% done; maybe a little more. It's 67K long at the moment. I'm aiming for a final length of ~75K but I tend to underwrite in the first draft.

After that?

Hmm.

A while back, I swore off publishing more books set in The Realm. I even said it publicly on here. Part of me is still umming and ah-ing over this, for exactly the reasons given in that post. But three - three - more books are writing themselves in my head, all set in The Realm. Plus another book, not set there. Right now, I'm trying to figure out Amazon Ads. If I ever manage to get a decent return on investment and sales pick up, my decision not to publish more Realm books might change. Or I may decide to do things differently, and share things with subscribers, rather than sell them via Amazon. Either which way, I will probably write them. If you've enjoyed the books, please tell everyone you know, and then more of them may make it out of my laptop and into a book/ebook you can read, rather than it stay as a book only I read!

Missed the books when they launched at half price? Don't worry. The boxset of books 1-3 is still on sale at £2.99/$3.99 - a big saving over buying them individually! But the sale won't last for much longer, and I won't be reducing the price this low again for months, if ever.

Invasion is still on offer too (99p/99c) but this too won't be for much longer. 

Right now, you can get all four books for less than £4/$5. Don't miss out!

Want to know what really happened to Aeron before the series started? Sign up below for my newsletter and I'll send you a free novella "Aeron's Fall".



Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Box-set and Invasion both on sale!


"Invasion" is available for pre-order for just 99p/99c and the box-set of books 1-3 is at a significant price-drop of £2.99/$3.99. You can get all four books right now for less than the cost of a coffee and a cake and they will last a lot longer.

Don't miss out. I won't be reducing the price of either of these again for a while.




Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Author Interview with Erin Mcdermott

I am so pleased this week to introduce Erin Mcdermott to you. Her latest book Hades' Cult was just released.

Tell me more about your new book?

On March 3rd, my newest book, Hades’ Cult (The Athana Chronicles Book Two) released! I’m so excited for this release. The first book in the series, Hades’ Deception, follows the story of Claire Wild, a girl who is swept away from her simple life into a world of immortals. She is an ordinary girl who needs to learn how to be extraordinary, and she needs to learn fast in order to stay alive. Cue Jason – the sexy descendant of the ancient Greek hero Achilles. He can train her to become more than she ever was before, but can she handle his intense training methods?

What prompted you to write it?

I majored in history in college with a focus on Ancient Greece. I absolutely fell in love with that time period. Reading the stories that people of that time created was absolutely fascinating. Their religion resembled a soap opera – how could you not love it? So, I love delving into the minds of the religious world the Ancient Greeks created while adding my own modern twist to it.

What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book after this one?

I’m currently working on the next book in The Athana Chronicles. As of now it has no name, but I plan to release it by June, 2021.

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?

I have been writing since I was in third grade. I remember watching my brother’s Little League Baseball games and being bored out of my mind! I didn’t have a computer so to entertain myself so I wrote with a pen on blank paper while watching him play. I was a huge fan of The Little House on the Prairie books, so my writing was influenced by that. My first book, though definitely not published, was finished in third grade. It was a series of stories about my life, following the format of The Little House on the Prairie. I still have those pages today and I LOVE looking back at them.

Which is your favourite secondary character in your book, and why is it your favourite?

My favourite secondary character in the Athana Chronicles isn’t introduced until the second book. Her name is Candace, and I love her because she puts up a hard front, but there’s so much more to her. It’s just difficult to break her shell.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? (not necessarily writing-related!)

Oh, this is an easy one. Before publishing my first book, Captive Rebel, I found it difficult to actually finish a book. It wasn’t until someone told me to write my first draft with the screen black so I wouldn’t feel compelled to edit that I finally completed my novel. I had to accept that my first draft would be crap, but I couldn't edit a blank page. The advice I received was, word for word, “Pretend your book is a sandbox. Draft one is filling the box with sand. Draft two is building the sand castle.”

And now for some more random questions...
What’s your radio tuned to most often? 

Lord of The Rings soundtrack on Pandora. Soundtracks of movies like Avatar, Star Wars, and Indian Jones are all on this station. It really gets me into the adventurous vibe my books take on.

You can only wear one of the following colours for the rest of your life. Which colour do you choose?
Yellow. Orange. Green. White. Pink.

Pink!

Cats or dogs?

Both πŸ˜ƒ

Thanks very much for letting me bombard you with questions!

Catch up with Erin at all of the following places:

Website: Erin McDermott
Facebook: www.facebook.com/erinmcdermottauthor/
IG: www.instagram.com/erin_writes
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Erin-McDermott/e/B073Q4Z3JH/

Book links:

Hades’ Deception (UK)
Hades' Deception (US)

Hades' Cult (UK)
Hades' Cult (US)


Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Cover Reveal & First Chapter

It's getting closer! Advanced copies of "Invasion" are away to my street-team (and I'm nervously awaiting their verdicts!). Time to reveal the cover and share with all of you the first chapter...

Invasion

Five years have passed since Aeron and Faran helped to defeat the rogue Guides, and the Guardians and the people of The Realm have reached a new, albeit tetchy, equilibrium. The threat of civil war bubbles constantly, but so far, the Guardians have kept control. It won’t take much for that to change.

People have started to go missing from one of the villages, returning days later, emaciated, exhausted, and claiming to have been forced to work on a building in a strange world. Where are they being taken? And who is taking them there?

The foe threatening The Realm is far more sinister than the rogue Guides. They could destroy everything the Guardians rely on. Far from being the protectors of The Realm, the Guardians could be its destroyers.

Can Aeron and Faran find a way to save The Realm without sacrificing everything they hold dear? Or will The Realm finally fall?

Read the first chapter here.
Pre-order "Invasion" here

If you pre-order, it will be delivered to your Kindle on March 20th and you are guaranteed the pre-order price.


Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Author Interview With Katie Zaber

This week, I'm delighted to introduce Katie Zaber to you all. Katie's latest book, "Below Dark Waters" (her second book in the Dalya series) has just been released. The first in the series is "Ashes and Blood".

Tell me more about the first book in your series?

Ashes and Blood is about a young woman named Megan who goes on a hike with her friends when the forest suddenly morphs around them. They find themselves in the woods nearby a frontier style town without electricity or water and clueless of how to return to Earth.

I wanted to write a story about a woman who isn’t a heroine. A woman who makes countless mistakes driven by her own desires and has good intentions, but good intentions can become deadly in ignorant hands.

What prompted you to write it?

Boredom. Pure Boredom while stuck at home recovering from surgery. Ashes and Blood evolved over six drafts and started with an insane king singing a sinister version of Lord of the Dance. In his twisted version of the religious song, he is the lord, dancing around his kingdom, subjecting his people to his will and killing them for entertainment. From there, the story grew and grew and changed perspective until I was happy.

What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book in the series?

Right now I’m finishing up DNA—Angels & Demons, a book about a woman named Evie who mysteriously gets pregnant. After a DNA test proves that her husband is not the father, her life becomes complicated.

People become possessed around Evie, telling her to kill the baby or protect it at all costs as she tries to rebuild her life after a heart-breaking divorce. Throughout the book, she realizes that her child might be a celestial being, but isn’t sure if it’s angelic or demonic.

When her perfect child is born, she sees the symbol and knows that her child is in fact the antichrist, leaving her with a decision. It’s almost done, and I hope to have it on sale by summer. 

I’m also working on the third book in the Dalya series, title undecided. It’s roughly 20,000 words, and I hope to have it out this fall.

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?

My first attempt at writing a book was after I had read Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. I must have been ten years old and wanted a sequel. So I got a pen and stack of paper and wrote around 50-60 pages before I started a different project. I still have it.

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)

Ashes and Blood is my first novel.

Which is your favourite secondary character in your book, and why is it your favourite?

I love Kilyn. She is a preteen Fae slave who was sold by her parents because she has bad blood and was born without any magical gifts. She’s spunky and fearless, using her wits and resources to survive.

Where is your ideal writing space?

At my desk when it’s nice and quiet.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? (not necessarily writing-related!)

My piano teacher told me when I was a kid that his friend had auditioned for Prince. Prince gave him sheet music and told him to play it. The guy nailed the song. Prince then said to play it backwards. The man looked at Prince confused. Prince said you should be able to read it forward and backward. That every band member he performed with was that fluid.

Now, I don’t know how much of that story is true, but the thing that always stuck with me was the ability to think in different directions and not just read left to right. It’s important to be flexible and learn how to bend in different ways in every situation.

And now for some more random questions...

What’s your radio tuned to most often?

I usually listen to my iPod that has a crazy selection of random musicians and genres. About half would be rock alternative, but my all time favourite singer/songwriter is Ani DiFranco, who is a folk/rock singer.

You’re stranded on an island. You can choose one of the following three things. Which do you choose, and why?
1. Limitless supply of paper and pens.
2. A computer which will never run out of battery and which can access the internet, but you can’t post anything/get help via it, only read what others have put up.
3. An endless supply of loo roll.

Computer. It would at least entertain me and keep me semi sane, though I would worry about sand getting into it. πŸ˜‰ 

You can only wear one of the following colours for the rest of your life. Which colour do you choose?
Yellow. Orange. Green. White. Pink.

Green. At this moment, 75% of my clothes are already a shade of olive or forest green. The rest are brown, grey, and black.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs

City or country?

Depends on where the city is located. I’m not a fan of New York City, but I love Rome. I’m not a fan of country either, I like to order takeout way too often and live close to shopping.

Real book or e-book?

I used to love real books until I hurt my neck and shoulder. My e-book is much lighter when I want to read for hours.

Fountain pen or biro?

Neither. Mechanical pencil. 

Thanks very much for letting me bombard you with questions!

Links to Katie's Dalya series:

Ashes and Blood (US)

Ashes and Blood (UK)

Below Dark Waters (US)

Below Dark Waters (UK)

You can keep up to date with Katie at all of the following places:

Website: http://zaberbooks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dalyaseries
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Zaberbooks
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/katie-zaber
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20290665.Katie_Zaber
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Katie-Zaber/e/B087YXPDF2/