Friday, 14 July 2017

Mystery Blogger Award

Happy Friday! I've been nominated for a couple of blog awards recently and I thought it would make for a fun post to play along and acknowledge them. It's been a while since these awards were flying all over the blogosphere, but they seem to have made a bit of a comeback lately. I wouldn't ever disregard a nomination because it's a pretty special thing that you've made enough of an impression on someone for them to pick you. To avoid this post becoming overlong, I'll focus on the first award I received and come back for the other one.

This is the Mystery Blogger Award, which comes with a raft of rules.

Rule 1. Put the award/logo image on your blog. Done.

Rule 2. List the rules. I'm on it.

Rule 3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

This award was bestowed on me by self-proclaimed word nerd and incurable Anglophile Laurel Garver. Check her out!

Rule 4. Also mention the creator of the award and provide a link.

The award was created by Okoto Enigma. Enigma? Mystery? Get it?

Rule 5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.

1) When I was a kid our household pets included male and female Australian prickly stick insects, named Harold and Madge after the well loved couple from the classic soap Neighbours. Unfortunately Madge was rather keen on eating her life partner, a behaviour that we had to vociferously discourage.

2) When I was 18 I appeared on a French TV discussion show as part of an exchange programme at college. I managed to get away with saying little or nothing throughout.

3) I'm too polite to send food back in a restaurant. I don't like mushrooms but I once ordered mushroom soup in a cafe and ate it (by swallowing the mushrooms whole). It was my fault for not asking what the soup of the day was.

Rule 6. Nominate other bloggers.

John Davis Frain
Toni @ Wandering and Wondering
Cynthia @ Read is the New Black
Anna @ Deeply Shallow
Ritika @ Indian Screw Up

Rule 7. Nominate those people. I'll get right on it.

Rule 8. Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, plus one weird or funny question.

1) What made you decide to start blogging?
2) Do you have any schedule for posting or is it spontaneous?
3) Have you ever been in a situation that seemed bad but ended up leading to something positive?
4) Ever given up on reading a book but then gone back to it later?
5) Name one main goal that you want to achieve in the next year.
Funny/weird question: What would be your current protagonist's go-to song in karaoke? If you're not working on a book at the moment, name a song for your favourite book character.

Here's the questions I was asked:

1) What are three things on your "bucket list"?

- Visit the pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt.
- Have a book traditionally published, perhaps via a small press. I don't think this is any better or worse than self-publishing. It's just an experience I want to have.
- Have a go at script writing - a movie or TV series.

2) Which authors have influenced you in terms of genre, style, or theme?

Well, for my current project I'm immersed in the world of dystopia. I didn't know I would write anything like that at the time, but at a young age I read George Orwell's 1984 and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and they made enough of an impression that they're still with me. I would say my new series is heavily influenced by both.

3) What book's milieu (place, time, culture) would you most like to live in?

Not 1984, for sure! I could see myself settling down and enjoying a very quiet life in Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings). As long as I wasn't dragged off on any dangerous quests.

4) What are your favourite writing resources?

Not anything too specific, unless the dictionary and thesaurus count! I would recommend Stephen King's On Writing to anyone just starting out, and it's always good to dip into for a bit of inspiration. Of course, the IWSG website features a whole host of great resources, including lists of publishers and agents, contests, and conferences (plug, plug!)

5) What's the best book you've read recently?

Mark Noce's Between Two Fires is an excellent and atmospheric read, set in 6th century Wales and featuring a strong and feisty female heroine. I don't read much historical fiction, but this makes me want to read more. And I got to read it in hard copy, which is always nice!

Rule 9. Share a link to my blog's best post.

Lessons from Journalism and the Joy of Non-Fiction

I think I shared some good advice here. I would advise everyone to have a go at some non-fiction at some point. Perhaps it will refresh you if you're struggling on the fiction side. It also contains advice that I still need to remember to follow myself!

Before I go, a couple of things to remind you of:

The first IWSG Twitter Pitch Party is in less than two weeks! Get your 140-character pitch sharpened and honed and don't miss your chance to snag an agent or publisher on July 27. Details here.

And you've got until the end of the month to submit to the next anthology which is all about the secrets of writing for profit. You can share what did or didn't work for you. Details here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

IWSG July 2017

Time for our monthly installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which allows us writers a place to vent our worries and doubts, with the addition of an optional question. Hosted as ever by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, today's co-hosts are Tamara NarayanPat HattPatricia LynneJuneta Key and Doreen McGettigan!


Today's optional question: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Hmm, this kind of plays into what I've been thinking about over the last couple of days, especially after reading this awesome post yesterday by Sarah Allen. I've got the usual insecurities that come along with releasing a book or any piece of writing into the world, and with my launch coming in September and sending copies out to people in the hopes of getting some positive feedback, it's at that stage where it all feels much more "real".

I'm not naturally very forthcoming, so all of this takes a big effort for me. Asking people to take time to read something I've read - there are all sorts of other ways that time could have been used, surely? Why should people be interested in anything I do? I've always felt like I've just "got away with it" - anything that goes down well must have been a fluke. But I need to stop feeling like that. I need to listen to and trust those who are giving an honest opinion, while benefitting from the insightful advice they offer.

Because deep down, what I've learned since I started writing is that I can achieve things if I stick at them long enough, and I should be proud of that. I put off writing a book for long enough because I didn't think I had the discipline. Now that I've done it, I need to back it up by taking ownership. I want to be a lot of good things - good husband, good father, good writer. I work at them all the time. If I can make a difference to how someone else feels, that's a great achievement - something real.

What lessons have you learned from writing?

You can check out other IWSG posts here. Meanwhile, there's lots going on with the group as it goes from strength to strength. Check out the exciting news below and get involved!

Submissions are open for the anthology The IWSG Guide to Writing for Profit. This will be a non-fiction book like our Guide to Publishing and Beyond.
Word limit: 500-1000 words.
Submission eligibility: All members of the IWSG Blog Hop, IWSG Facebook group and/or members of our IWSG Goodreads Book Club. It’s free to join any of these groups and a great benefit to be a part of these communities.
Deadline: July 31, 2017
MORE INFO HERE.


A reminder about the upcoming IWSG TWITTER PITCH PARTY IN 3 WEEKS' TIME!

Hashtag #IWSGPit
DATE: July 27, 2017, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time
All writers and authors are invited to participate in our very first Twitter Pitch. Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On July 27, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favourite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query. MORE INFO HERE.

And finally we received fantastic news recently that the IWSG website placed 19th in the Writer's Digest Annual 101 Best Websites for Writers! This is a clear recognition that the group is making a difference to the lives and careers of writers, which is all down to its many wonderful contributors. 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Goals for July 2017

The start of another month, and time to look back at how I did on my goals from June and look ahead to what's on the agenda for July.

  •  Add 10000 words to WIP by the end of this month.
I was a bit hit-and-miss on this but I did add another 5000 words. On a good note, I hit my stride at the end of the month and I'm hoping to keep up that momentum by adding 20,000 words this month at least.
  • Continue working through CP notes for book 2.
Some. Need to continue this and start coming up with ideas to address significant plot points.
  • Start working on a promotion plan for book 1. This is taking shape, including putting ideas together for a cover, which for the first time I'll be designing myself. I'm hoping this'll be fun!
This went well; I organised a sign-up for my September blog tour and was very pleased by the response. Thanks! I've also contacted book bloggers re sending ARCs and have had some positive responses. This month, I need to start working on guest posts and will be sending ARCs in the next day or so to those who requested them when signing up for the tour. The cover is also nearly finalised and will be revealed on 31st July.

So, I'll be pretty busy. How about you? Any writing or holiday plans? To my American friends, hope you have a great 4th of July tomorrow!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Black & White blog tour signup

Happy Monday everyone! The sun is shining in Scotland and I'm hoping it's going to be a great week for everyone. I spent some of the weekend brainstorming marketing ideas for the release of Black & White, part 1 of my YA dystopian trilogy, and I'm pleased to announce that I've set a release date of 18th September 2017. This will be nearly five years since I started writing this book during NaNoWriMo 2012, so it's been a long haul, but it's finally ready to see the light of day!


As part of my launch celebrations I am planning a two-week blog tour, to end on 30th September, and I would love it if you could help by hosting a post from me (or one of my characters). I've embedded a Google form below to make it easy to respond. As I'm actively seeking readers for ARCs, there's an option to receive one as well as being a tour host, but don't worry if you can't do both. Alternatively, you can let me know in the comments if you can't do the tour but would like an ARC.

In related news, cover design is proceeding apace and I'll be ready to reveal this at some point next month. I'm surprisingly pleased with the results!

Friday, 16 June 2017

The Last God by Jean Davis

Happy Friday everyone! Today I'm helping out blogging friend Jean Davis with the launch of her new book, which releases on Monday. Here's all the details you need to know - it sounds like a really good one.


Blurb:
The General of the Unlata Kai has decreed that the time of her people is over. Jane’s race of god-like beings has caused enough chaos, leaving floundering hybrid races and war-ravaged planets throughout the universe. Kaldara, their home, is about to fulfill her wishes. When the planet goes, it will take her and the last of the Unlata Kai with it.

Logan Klevo sets out with the crew of the Maxim on a mission to warn the leaders of Kaldara of their imminent demise. Their announcement triggers a violent battle between gods. One of them holds knowledge that could restore the Maxim to its full strength. The possibility of a defense against the ruthless army of Matouk that destroyed Logan’s homeworld fills him with something he’s been missing, hope.

Abducting an angry and suicidal god might not be a wise choice, but if the god of war can learn to love they both might discover a future worth living for.

Excerpt:

Logan watched in horror as the king left the side of the queen and erupted into a towering being of light.

And then that’s all there was, heat and light. He shielded his face with his arms. Huddling against the wall, he blinked rapidly and waited for the ringing in his ears to subside while he got his bearings.

Beside him, Colonel Rice swore. “What the hell was that?”

Logan had no answers. He could only attest to witnessing the woman he’d seen when they’d entered the massive chamber cover herself in the same golden suit of armor they’d spoken with. Then she grew taller, brighter, glorious. Though his mind reeled with what he’d seen and he was only half certain this wasn’t another one of his nightmares, he hazarded a glance to where the king and queen had been.

The two beings of light exchanged blows of massive proportions. Bombs of energy exploded against their bodies. He couldn’t fathom how either remained standing.

“I’m pretty sure the queen exploded,” he said, knowing how absurd that sounded but having no other explanation.

Everyone else in the room had gone to their knees when the king had stood. The uniformed men that they had followed back here, now had their arms outstretched and their faces plastered to the floor.

While beings of light danced in his vision and bombs exploded against his eardrums, he achieved a single glimpse of clarity. Everyone who had been near the throne was blackened. Dead. Bile rose in this throat.

A thunderous clamor claimed his attention. He tore his gaze from the bodies to see the being of white light, what had been the king, sprawled among the remains of the thrones. He dimmed and then was nothing more than a battered and bloody man. His crown lay at the bottom of the stairs.

A shimmering sheet flowed from the General to hover over him and Rice. The ground beneath them rocked and the walls shook. The ceiling above began to crumble.

The colonel didn’t move. He found he couldn’t move either. He wasn’t easily scared, but he had no idea what was going on here and safety anywhere on this planet was questionable.

Without taking his eyes off the General, he said, “We’ve overstayed. The planet is going to go with us on it.”

“Maybe.” The colonel also stared at the giant golden glowing figure.

Debris thundered down on the sheet above them. A shield of some sort.

Logan prayed their ship wasn’t being crushed where they’d left it with the rest of their team inside. Then he wondered if he should hope that they’d left. He and Rice might not make it back. The shield didn’t look able to stretch that far. In fact, it didn’t even go as far as the archway.

A giant explosion struck the General. For a moment he was blinded again. Another blast of scorching air blew past them, though it seemed the shield protected them somewhat as the heat wasn’t near as intense as the first time.

“Holy shit,” muttered Rice.

The King was gone. Only a large scorch mark on the floor where his body had been. The General lay sprawled on steps, her feet just below the thrones. Her armor missing the golden glow and blackened. Blood dripped down the steps from the seam at her neck where her head was suspended over the edge of one of the stairs. She lay on her back as if she’d been blown over, unable to catch herself.

She was still moving. Slowly, but twitching enough to indicate she wasn’t as bad off as the rest.

“We’ve got to get out of here.”

“Agreed.” Yet, Rice crept forward instead of back the way they’d come.

Following behind, they checked the bodies of the others as they went. All of them had burnt to death. Pain on his own arms registered. He glanced down to find them blistered. Rice’s face and neck was red. He guessed his was too by the tightness that hit him now that the shock had worn off. His clothes were singed.

“Good thing we weren’t any closer,” Rice said, working his way toward the armored woman.

Logan rushed up the stairs. He knelt beside the General, who seemed to have returned to her original size. She weakly pushed him away but said nothing beyond a faint moan.

“Let me help you.”

She pushed at him again. He tugged on the helmet, trying to free her head so he could better assess the damage.

The voice that came from the blackened metal face was a ghost of the powerful voice that she’d used earlier, barely a whisper. “Leave me.”

He pushed her hand aside and felt up the back of the armor, searching for a lever or latch of any sort. There was nothing there but blood. He wiped his hands on his pants. “How do you get this thing off?”

 “You don’t.” Her voice grew slightly stronger. “Now go, I can’t hold the shield much longer.”

Rice crouched down beside them. “You’re coming with us.”

Pre-order sales links:
Amazon / Nook / Kobo  Also now available in Paperback

Release e-book sale price is .99

Author Bio:
Jean Davis lives in West Michigan. When not ruining lives from the comfort of her writing chair, she can be found playing in her garden, enjoying a glass of wine, or lost a good book. Her novels include The Last GodSahmara, and A Broken Race. Hershort fiction has appeared in Theian JournalBards and Sages Quarterly, Acidic Fiction, Tales of The Talisman, The First Line, Allegory, Isotropic Fiction, Liquid Imagination, Brewed Awakenings II Anthology, and The 3288 Review.
Follow her writing adventures at www.jeanddavis.blogspot.com
Special offer:
In celebration of the release of The Last God, Jean is also offering her fantasy novel, Sahmara for .99 for a limited time.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Goals for June 2017

Time to do a roundup of my goals from May and look at what's coming up for June. I'm trying to get back to posting these nearer the start of the month!


  • Add 5000 words to Book 3 of my series. Accomplished this and hit 50000 words; aiming to add 10000 more by the end of this month.
  • Start working through CP notes for book 2. Check. I'll be continuing this in June.
  • Start working on a promotion plan for book 1. This is taking shape, including putting ideas together for a cover, which for the first time I'll be designing myself. I'm hoping this'll be fun!
That's about it for now. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

IWSG June 2017

It's June already, and time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted as ever by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. The aim of the group is for writers to support and encourage each other over whatever woes they are experiencing, in a safe and supportive environment. Today's co-hosts are J H MoncrieffMadeline Mora-SummonteJen ChandlerMegan Morgan and Heather Gardner.


So, as with every month, we have an optional question to answer and this month it is "Did you ever say 'I quit'? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?"

OK, this might be a corny answer, but without this online community being here I probably wouldn't still be writing. I spent two and a half years writing my first book - something that I poured my heart and soul into but without really having any idea what I was doing. I hadn't yet realised the importance of showing my work to other people and gaining those insights and advice that would lift it into something much greater. A family member arranged for an editor in London to have a look at it and it took a year for the feedback to come back - when it did, it was less than favourable. At this stage, I'd never heard the terms "critique partner" or "beta reader", let alone understand their significance to the overall process. Although I did get a few short stories published in the year before starting my blog, I wasn't sure if I would ever try writing another book - after the monumental amount of time and effort that went into it, it seemed it wasn't up to standard in the eyes of the industry. Of course, with hindsight and the knowledge I've absorbed during my time spent blogging I know there were many problems with that book and I was also incredibly naive to believe I could break through with my first effort after getting no outside eyes to point out the issues with the structure, voice, characterisation, pacing...

So yeah. If this community and its wonderful and knowledgeable inhabitants weren't here, it's doubtful I would still have the same large-scale ambitions or be pursuing them at all. Here's to all of you!

As to insecurities this month - I'm not doing so bad. Due to a range of issues I haven't had as much time as I would have liked over the past few weeks, but things are coming under control and I should get much more done in the remainder of this month. I'll do a recap of my May goals and post those for June in a couple of days. Don't forget to check out the other IWSG participants here!