Archive for the ‘Self Published Sunday’ Category

Self Published Sunday: Interview with Sarah Honeysett

Please give a warm Big Book Little Book welcome to Sarah Honeysett.

severe-discomfortMarried for over thirty years, Lyn and Terry Walker bicker their way through an enforced early retirement in the house where they raised their two sons, resentfully supporting and depending on each other. Injured in a road traffic accident some years previously, Lyn takes comfort in her role of ‘Nana’ while husband Terry, unfit for work after two heart attacks, bitterly resents his loss of status as a skilled working man. But an anonymous letter triggers an investigation into their disability benefit entitlement by the Department for Work and Pensions, and the Walkers’ income is cut in half as a consequence. Worse, they are told they must repay over of fifty thousand pounds.
They seek help from the ‘Solent Welfare Rights Project’, where Terry’s case is allocated to awkward young trainee Sally Archer and office comedian, Toby Novak, while Lyn’s caseworkers are political activist Martin Connolly and veteran adviser, Hilary Carrington. The team will need all of their experience and ingenuity if they are to win the Walkers’ cases – but can they possibly succeed?
Topical and controversial, Severe Discomfort presents a sympathetic, claimant’s-eye view of the complex Social Security system and the tea-fuelled world of a cash-strapped independent advice project, with its eclectic workforce, peeling paintwork, second-hand furniture and eternal optimism.
Read the opening chapters and order the book at: http://www.completelynovel.com/books/severe-discomfort–1

What or who inspired you to become a writer?
I wanted to give a voice to some of the people I’d seen in crisis during my work as a benefits adviser: I’d written a lot of serious reports about the Social Security system, but nothing to capture the imagination of someone not already involved with that line of work. Of course, I can’t write about real clients or their cases, but ‘Lyn’ and ‘Terry’ can be found in the waiting rooms of Citizens Advice Bureaux and Law Centres the length and breadth of the country every day of the working week.

What is your writing process?
‘Severe Discomfort’ started as odd episodes written during my husband’s weekly evening at the pub with his chums! These were stitched together, reviewed, distilled and rewritten, during the damp days of last summer until I had the finished story. I wrote something most days, and often spent all day writing! I’m currently redrafting a story with more ‘cases’ from the Solent Welfare Rights Centre, which I started immediately on finishing ‘Severe Discomfort’ and its sequel. That’s been happening spasmodically, but I’ll be more systematic about that when the nights draw in and the weather stops me gardening again.

What prompted you to self publish?
Impatience! The benefits at issue in ‘Severe Discomfort’ are being phased out over the next few year; the argument over whether this is right or wrong is happening right now and I want my book to play a part in that debate.

Tell us a bit about your self-publishing journey – just how did you do it?
Impulsively! I didn’t really want to use Amazon – they were getting panned for their tax affairs at the time and so hardly seemed a suitable vehicle for this project – and I couldn’t afford to squander hundreds of pounds on a glitzy ‘vanity publishing’ package. Trawling the Internet, I stumbled on CompletelyNovel’s website and really liked the friendly, co-operative feel of it, the eco-friendly ‘print-on-demand’ scheme for producing proper paperback books, and the quick, helpful responses I received to my queries.

Can you tell us about the challenges and the achievements you have experienced in your writing and self-publishing journey?
My biggest challenge is that I’m quite shy and not comfortable self-promoting, so I tend to apologise when asking people to read or review my books: it’s a lot easier now I’ve decided to donate any profits to Stoke-on-Trent CAB and I’m lobbying for a good cause. I’m genuinely proud of finishing ‘Severe Discomfort’ and its sequel, as I’m not great at completing projects. I’m also chuffed to have done quite a decent job of the cover and typesetting, thanks to CompletelyNovel’s online toolkit.

We hear a lot about collaboration in self-publishing – do you work with other people (editors, marketers, publicists etc) when publishing your works?
I’m sure I should, but apart from involving a trusted friend as proofreader, it’s been largely a solo project so far.

How do you get feedback on your work? How valuable is it to read the comments and reviews of others?
I tried the first draft out on close friends and family, and had some really helpful suggestions for edits from them. When I promoted the paperback through a campaigning organisation for disabled people, I got a couple of super reviews on Amazon and a request to make the book available as an ebook for better accessibility.
Best of all, I’ve had praise for my writing from people I really respect and who I can trust not to flatter me. One friend even declared that reading the book had made him ‘a better person’, which was extremely touching.

Have you considered traditional publishing?
I did try to interest several literary agents in ‘Severe Discomfort’ in the autumn of 2012 but as it didn’t fit neatly into any genre, and was quite open about its political nature, I wasn’t especially surprised to be rejected.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? Would you recommend self-publishing?
Definitely, but don’t be haphazard and nervous about marketing and promotion as I’ve been. It’s no good being shy; if you’re proud of your work, tell everyone you know and don’t apologise for doing so!

Just for Fun:
If your book was made in to a film which actor(s), past or present, do you envision in the lead role(s)?

It would suit the book to cast ‘unknowns’ in all the roles, although there are a few jokes about a certain character bearing a passing resemblance to George Clooney, so…?

If your book had a soundtrack which artists would feature on it?
It would have to include Uprising by Muse for Sally Archer and some Abba for Lyn, plus a few chords from Puccini’s Tosca at key moments in Hilary’s story.

Tea or Coffee?
Tea. Gallons of it!

Write at home or outside?
At home, on my own or in the evening. Especially J’s pub nights!

Pen or PC?
PC at home and work; pen for proofreading and notes on the narrowboat.

Email or letter/postcard?
I use email a lot, but when time permits I love writing, and receiving, letters.

And the all-controversial: print book or ebook?
I’m a Luddite at heart – it’s because I wanted to produce ‘real’ books that I opted for the CompletelyNovel publishing package

DSCN3517About Sarah: After working in Welfare Rights and Housing for twenty-five years in Hampshire and then Staffordshire, I took voluntary redundancy from Stoke-on-Trent Citizens’ Advice Bureau in the spring of 2011 to set up as a self-employed gardener. And there I was, fork, trowel and spade at the ready, when the ‘summer’ of 2012 came along… ‘Plan A’ was effectively rained off.
Missing my colleagues, clients and the world of welfare rights advice, I started to write about it. A few months later I had the first draft of Severe Discomfort and when the final version remained utterly resistible to several literary agents, I found CompletelyNovel online and through them self-published this first book and its sequel, Continual Supervision.
I rejoined Stoke-on-Trent CAB at the beginning of August 2013 in a training role, and I’m now donating any profits from sales of Severe Discomfort and Continual Supervision to this organisation, as right now we need all the help we can get.
I also write a light-hearted gardening blog with an occasional splash of social commentary at sarahhoneysettsgarden.blogspot.co.uk and comment seriously on Social Security policy at raggedskirt.blogspot.co.uk

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Self Published Sunday: A Completely Novel Experience

We are delighted to welcome Richard Sterry, author of Stay Away from the Buttercups, to discuss the experience of writing and publishing his novel.

Cover-Stay Away from the ButtercupsIf you are a cyclist, the appeal of the South Downs Way in the South of England is one of the Must Do mountain biker’s rides. To complete the full 100 mile length is one thing but to achieve it 3 times in succession is in a league of its own. The book describes the journey of the Triple ride, which dips into several technical areas that may help you achieve your next cycling quest.
For those who have a dream or a crazy goal, the book takes you on the journey how my crazy goal was conceived, established, planned and conquered. Even when my body was giving up on me for the second time, the deep rooted focus and determination gave me the strength to see it through to the finish.
Along the way many other people joined in with the journey by being part of the support crew, riding with me along the route and following my progress on-line. It is the contribution by all the onlookers and supporters that has made the journey so memorable and worthwhile. I want to thank everyone for volunteering to play their part and helping me to make a piece of history.

Completely Novice

37 hours on the bike with no sleep had physically and mentally broken me. My mind was full of the amazing 300 mile ride yet I was swamped by the emptiness of what to do next.

Writing about my experience provided a soothing release. Describing the journey calmed my mixed emotions and settled my thoughts. Recounting every detail, I pieced together my version of the ride. It looked good to me, but on discussing it with my friend Louise Poynton (a freelance sports journalist) she encouraged me to reshape it and add some colour. Incorporating the chatter from a cycling forum about my ride and the tweets during the event brought my words to life. Adding other people’s account of my crazy challenge gave another perspective.

With my family checking the words for spelling and grammar, I researched how to publish a book. Swamped by the number of choices for fonts, page sizes, margins, page numbers, headings and titles, I did my homework. Obtaining permission from the variety of sources and checking for copyright information added to the complications. I felt certain that a self-publish approach was the way forward for me with the attractive low cost print on demand feature. I had no idea on how well the book would sell.

Struggling to enter the unfamiliar world of book publishing was a challenge. Louise put me in touch with Andrew Sykes who had recently published his book “Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie”. Andrew’s simple and effective message was to start with an ebook on Amazon, then go to the helpful people at Completely Novel to produce the paperback version.

Releasing the ebook after a couple of weeks was an amazing feeling.

Formatting and typesetting the paperback version took a few weeks. I couldn’t create the cover until I had uploaded the manuscript, as the width of the spine was calculated according to the number of pages. How do you design a cover with the most basic of Microsoft software and no artistic talent?

The FAQs at Completely Novel were really informative and my further questions were quickly answered by Anna Lewis, she even helped me get the barcode on the back cover.

Touching and feeling in my hands the first paperback book was incredible. The sharpness of the pages and the recognition of the contents gave me a deep warm smile inside.

Regular tweets gained steady sales of the ebook, achieving 5 Star reviews, whilst my blog received an increasing number of hits. Many of the 200 people mentioned in the book were at the Brighton Big Dog race in August. Launching the paperback version at the race, each rider received a promotional card in their goody bag and flyers were posted around the arena and on the course.

Andrew’s advice was really helpful; I wish I had sought more advice earlier.

My journey into the publishing world was challenging and exciting. Hopefully my book will inspire you to chase and conquer your own crazy dream.

RichardSterrySDWAbout the Author – Richard Sterry
Reading was boring at school and writing was equally dull. I also hated sport and anything involving too much effort, such as homework.
30 years later I became fitter than some elite athletes, I rode a bike non-stop for 37 hours covering 300 miles of the South Downs, then I wrote a book about it.
The transformation is tremendous and I describe in the book my amazing journey and the mental strategies required for succeeding and achieving your crazy goal.
Living in Reigate, I married Fiona in 1989 and our 18 year old twins have just completed their A Levels. In addition to the South Downs, I am often riding around Box Hill and the Surrey Hills enjoying the beauty of the South East of England.
More information about richard and his work cam be found by visiting Richards blog (here) or by conversing with Richard on Twitter (here).

Stay Away from the Buttercups is available to buy from CompletelyNovel (here) and from amazon.co.uk (here).

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Book Excerpt: Breaking The Reins

Today we are delighted to share an excerpt from Juliana Haygert‘s Breaking The Reins.

breaking the reinsHorses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.
After a fire takes her grandma’s life and kills her horse, Hannah’s immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can’t turn away even though she’s not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.
Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.
But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.
**New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel**

I stepped toward the big French doors when I heard a shout and stopped. I looked around, trying to find the source, but didn’t see anyone. Letting my curiosity win, I descended the porch steps and followed the short stone path around a tall wall. Perhaps I shouldn’t spy, but I was concerned it could be someone who’d been riding and fell or something.

What I didn’t expect was to find Leo arguing with his father. In Portuguese.

I should have left. I should have retreated, pretended I never saw anything, and went back inside the main house and back to my mother and her friends.

But I caught a few words and sentences whispered in fast, harsh tones. Disappointment. Make me proud. Grow up. Work hard and stop playing.

My curiosity piqued, making me stay glued to my spot in the corner.

“Me deixa em paz, tche!” Leo shouted, turning his back to his father and stalking away.

I stepped back and hid behind the wall, hoping for all that was holy that he hadn’t seen me. My hopes went down the drain when he stepped around the corner three seconds later, his hard eyes on mine.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I didn’t mean to.”

His jaw tightened, and he crossed his arms over his blue T-shirt. The color emphasized his bright eyes, and the fabric clung to him, especially over his stomach, where a dark blotch of sweat showed off his hard abs. His goddamn white practice pants and the sweat-damp hair didn’t help either.

“How much did you hear?” he asked.

I swallowed, forcing my mind to push back images of his god-like body. “Not much. But I only understood a couple of words here and there.” I shifted my weight, uncomfortable under his gaze, not only because I’d seen and heard something I wasn’t supposed to. Keep your mouth shut, Hannah. Keep your damned mouth sh… “Want to talk about it?”

The shine in his eyes changed, and the tension in his neck seemed to lessen. He shook his head. “Don’t worry. It’s just the usual banter.”

Usual? I didn’t like the sound of that. His family seemed so perfect, so warm, so close, so happy. His sister had said he rarely smiled, which seemed odd since I had seen him smiling before. I was dying to know why he and his father usually argued.
Instead, I started a new subject. “I heard you’re staying.”

He nodded. “It was the plan all along.”

“Really?”

“Sim. Polo in Brazil isn’t that strong. Here, though, is another story.”

“I see.” I looked from side to side. “Do you and your brothers plan on staying for … long?” I pressed my lips together, chiding myself for almost saying forever.

“We don’t know. Perhaps, if all goes well.” He took a step closer, his eyes still on mine, making me slightly breathless. His body loomed closer, the difference in our heights and widths almost hilarious, if it wasn’t for the fact it turned me on.

Crap.

“I hope we do.”

A shiver rolled down my spine.

juliana haygertAbout the Author:
New Adult author and contributor at NA Alley blog (visit here)
While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.
To learn more about Juliana and her work visit her at her website (here),her blog (here), Facebook page (here) and Goodread’s authors page (here). Alternatively you can converse with her on twitter (here).

Breaking the Reins was published on the 19th of August and is available to buy from Amazon.com (here), Amazon.co.uk (here) and Kobo Books (here).

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Self published Sunday: Interview With Emma Louise

We are delighted to welcome Emma Louise Dagnall to Self Published Sunday. The Mistake is Emma’s debut novel and was self published through CreateSpace on Thursday 13th June 2013.

the mistake A romance novel set in West Didsbury, Manchester where a bride and a groom celebrate their love on their wedding day. However, cracks begin to show. Will their happy day turn out the way they expected it? It just goes to show that brides should never keep secrets… This is part one of two. The sequel which is called The Regret will be available in October 2013.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I read a lot, mainly romance novels such as Nicholas Sparks, Paige Toon, anything that catches my eye really. I enjoy watching films as I’ve done a Film degree. I also enjoy blogging on www.emmaiswriting.wordpress.com

What inspired you to become a writer?
It all happened back in the good old days of 1997 when I was about to turn seven years old. A book was published and that book changed my life. It sounds silly, I know, but I wouldn’t be a writer if it hadn’t been published. Then came six other books and I feel madly in love with the characters, the magic and Daniel Radcliffe. I am of course talking about Harry Potter. I’m known to everyone as “The Harry Potter Girl” because I’m that obsessed. It helped me through the bullying during high school and J.K Rowling allowed me to believe that dreams do come true. I love Hogwarts and I’m honoured to have read the books and watched the films. It was after that when I began to write. My Nanny D always gave me pens and paper whenever I went to her house, she’s the best. She’s a huge inspiration to me.

What was your inspiration for The Mistake?
The inspiration for both The Mistake (my debut novel) and The Regret (the sequel) came from a Fiction seminar during my second year at Edge Hill University here in the North West of England. My tutor, at the time, asked us to write for five minutes about flowers. I instantly thought of a bouquet that a bride was holding but she wasn’t just your average bride. She had a dark past, one that I was about to reveal to all…

Tell us about your book?
The Mistake is a romance novel with a large helping of drama – I love it! It is a love triangle between Daniel, Nina and Thomas. There are a lot of home truths to be told and it is left on a huge cliff hanger. I have so many people hating on me on Twitter because I left it that way *laughs* but the sequel, The Regret reveals all and it’s kind of another cliff hanger. I’m mean, sorry!

What research did you do for this book?
Most writers tend to visit places, either abroad or where they’re from but I did no research for these two books in terms of visiting places. My research would have to be books. You can learn a lot from a single paragraph and you don’t even realise it. Nicholas Sparks is the reason I write romance so I’d have to say that he is my research. I love that man.

Are any elements of your book based on real life experiences/people?
Yes! Lucy and Christopher who are the parents of Thomas and Daniel are based on my best friend Lucy and her boyfriend of six years Christopher who you may have spotted on CBBC as a presenter. They’re two of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I love them both to pieces. They’re the definition of love and I’m honoured to have included them in my first two novels.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on The Regret. It is with my editor at the moment, but whilst it’s there, I’m writing something new. It’s called Business Love and I have no idea whether I’ll publish it or not. For now, it’s a bit of fun and I’m inside the head of the witty main character called Laura who is a bit of bossy bitch!

What is your writing process?
I don’t really have a routine, I just write whenever I want. I’m always reading because I write a lot of book reviews for my blog. I stick to my laptop for writing. On the odd occasion, I’ll use my owl notepad to jot something down.

Do you use anything to sustain you during the writing process? Coffee? Chocolate? Music?
Music distracts me too much! But I have often listened to The Script whilst I’m writing. They’re a band from Ireland and they’re just beautiful. You may have seen the lead singer Danny on The Voice UK. I hate coffee so I stick to tea. I’m a big tea lover. My friend got me PG tips one Christmas, says it all really.

What prompted you to self publish The Mistake?
Sending your manuscript to an agent or publisher takes time off your hands. They say that you can’t send to more than one agent/publisher at a time because what happens if two accept you? How do you choose? It looks unprofessional on you then. I decided to self-published because I wanted to be in control of everything when it came to my debut novel and I’m only twenty-two. Self-publishing means you have to have a lot of balls (sorry!) and a strong back-bone. You’re doing it alone. You have no team to support you. It’s you, and your book going at it alone. I’m grateful to have people on Twitter and through my University who have been very supportive but you’re always going to receive some haters. I’ve got them now on Amazon and their petty reviews are quite upsetting but they’ve not got the balls to do what I’ve done. If only people knew how hard I’ve worked, they may understand.

Can you tell us about the challenges in writing and publishing your first novel?
The main challenge was writing a unique piece. I’ve never read about a wedding before, so I decided to go with that. Publishers want something brand new, something fresh that’ll make people want to read more and more. When it came to self-publishing, I struggled to get people on board but once I grew a readership, it just flowed afterwards.

Do you ever experience writers block? How do you overcome it?
Oh, all the time! I overcome it by going to see my nephew. He’s currently three months old and he’s smiling all the time. He’s very beautiful and because he needs attention, it takes my mind away from my writing. Last week, I told him I had to go back to work and he started crying. He’s too cute, right?

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I’m going to say the same thing that Nicholas Sparks tells his readers… READ! Read a lot of the genre you wish to write in. Read. Read. Read until your bank balance has dried up.

Why did you choose to write your particular genre?
I would say that The Mistake is romance/drama but it is also young adult. I’m a young adult so it’s easy to reach across to people my own age. My book isn’t aimed at a certain age. My Nan is 82 and she’s read it!

How did you choose the genre you write in? What inspired you to write it?
I’ve always read romance novels, so that helped me to write in the romance genre. I was inspired through Nicholas Sparks and the way he takes a simple love story between two people and makes it completely fresh like it’s never been done before.

What books have inspired you?
Overall, it has to be Harry Potter. That started my writing career off. My favourite book from the series is *thinks for ten minutes* The Order Of The Phoenix. That’s when the readers begin to learn about the connection between Harry and the bad ass Voldemort. Also, I love Gary Oldman so I couldn’t wait to see him in the film!

What was your favourite book as a child/teenager?
I read a lot of Roald Dahl, yet sadly on the year that I was born, he passed away. His books are beautiful. I love The Twits!

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Pastures New by my wonderful friend Julia Williams.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?
I’m always texting my friend Hannah from High School about books to read. The last one I told her about was Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon.

What/Who inspired you as a reader?
J.K Rowling and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Just for Fun:

If The Mistake was made in to a film which actor(s), past or present, do you envision in the lead role(s)
A reader of mine sent me a collage of the actors who I’d love to be in the film. I have no idea how she knew because I have kept it to myself.
Daniel – Neil Patrick Harris (Barney from How I Met Your Mother)
Thomas – Ben Affleck
Nina – Courtney Cox

If your book had a soundtrack which artists would feature on it?
Jessie J and The Script

Paper, Audio or eBook?
Paperback! I won’t even both explaining how much I dislike Kindles…

Tea or Coffee?
Tea please with milk, one and a half sugars

Slippers or barefoot?
Slippers in winter and barefoot for summer

Shower or Bath?
Shower

Marmite: Love it? Hate it?
Never tried it

Email or postcard?
Both – email for important things and postcards because they’re fun!

emmaiswritingI am Emma Louise and I currently twenty-two years old. I have a Bachelor Honours Degree in Joint Creative Writing & Film Studies, and I also have a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. When I’m not writing, you can find me reading, watching films/reality TV or blogging. I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and I collect key rings. I can be found on Twitter @EmmaIsWriting and also at my blog: www.emmaiswriting.wordpress.com

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Self Published Sunday: Renhala Extract

We are delighted to welcome Amy Joy Lutchen as she shares an extract from her debut novel,Renhala. The first book in her urban fantasy series.

Renhala Final Cover ArtKailey Rooke, timid accountant, dedicated to philanthropic work, finds herself spiraling into a deep depression after she suffers a horrifyingly odd and humiliating assault, to only discover more of these freakish assaults occurring across the globe.
A chance discovery leads Kailey to a meeting with elderly Gunthreon, actual master of persuasion. Gunthreon, who seems to know too much of Kailey’s history for her liking, opens Kailey’s eyes to a coexisting realm she never knew existed: Renhala, while entrusting her with the knowledge of her newfound power as karmelean, serving as a beacon to the Higher Ones. Kailey slowly starts revealing new talents, and Gunthreon is fascinated with what she starts achieving.
She soon discovers that Renhala is in danger, and this danger has been leaking into her own realm. As she uncovers secrets within herself, and attempts to toughen up, she fuses with an unlikely band of fellow travelers (including a dragon, woodsprite, six-hundred-pound greble, her faithful female canine companion, and a “giver”), falls into an unexpected love triangle, deals with her sexy and flirtatious best friend’s “issues,” and finds the courage to master a new deadly weapon.
On her mission to save Renhala, Kailey will find herself running from life-threatening disasters, such as greble Tartarin, who likes to remind Kailey that when he catches her, he plans on eating her brains with ice cream; she’ll run from the deadly meeples: small cute bunnies with talons and an undeniable thirst for imposing self-destruction on others. Kailey will also run into the possibility that a centuries-old Renhalan rumor is true, that advanced technology existing in Kailey’s realm shortens all life spans.
As blood is shed and puzzles near completion, Kailey pulls from deep within herself, conjuring up mystical qualities that enable her to astonish as once predicted at her birth, but despite the newfound strength, Kailey will discover that monsters not only come in ugly packages, but can be easily disguised as those she has come to love and trust.

As an unexpected warmth flows into the room, running over my feet first, I freeze. It slowly crawls up my body, touching my hands and forcing them to reach forward. As the heat envelopes my head, I suddenly yearn to possess this deadly treasure, so I touch it, and the pole comes off the wall with one pull. I embrace it, suddenly feeling I will never be disconnected from my new lover, because it is me and I am it. I swing, and it is light in my hands. The metal whistles as it slices air, singing its song of perfection—perfect balance.

Suddenly, I am torn from my find by a peculiar noise accompanied by the faint smell of rotten eggs. I know the smell, and I run to the door, not wanting to be cornered in this room. That’s when I see it standing in the road, and it’s huge—at least eight feet tall and five feet wide, with dark brown skin and fur. I recognize the feet—all three of them, situated like a tripod, with the center leg slightly forward. Its full hideousness is far worse than its feet alone. The huge eyes that take up at least 50 percent of its head stare at me while its mouth, which seems to take up the other 50, quivers, drooling some dark liquid. I can’t be sure, but it looks like it’s hungry. It stares at me as though I’m a huge medium rare rib-eye steak. There are sprouts of fur here and there around its body, and its arms dangle below its waist. It wears a large loincloth and short pants, both shredded on the edges. There is also a band around its waist, somewhat resembling an extra, extra, extra large fanny pack. I stand, frozen with fear at the realization that I’ve been visited by yet another hideous creature. It was not a dream. The delicious meal I just ate starts creeping up my throat, but I swallow, keeping it at bay.

A noise escapes from behind the creature. Its ears quiver, and its head turns all the way around like an owl’s, then swivels back toward me. I’m amazed by its flexibility. Its skin seems to be in constant movement, and it begins moving toward me quickly. It’s so fast. And so big.

I grab the pole and stabilize myself, knowing I cannot outrun this abomination, and it’s time to prove I can take care of myself. Seconds before it reaches to grab me with its monkey-length arms, I duck and swing the pole out, but the creature jumps over me swiftly.

It lunges again quicker than expected, and I manage to somehow cut my leg with my own weapon. The flow of blood freezes me, vulnerability creeping up on me like a dark shadow. The creature makes the jump toward me. I fall directly down, sticking my pole spade straight up in its direction with my eyes closed. My movement is unexpected—by both of us—so the creature comes down slightly crooked as my blade nicks the inside of its leg.

Black ooze runs down its leg, dripping onto the dirt. Black ooze. Before I lose myself to the visions, I notice the tears in its eyes. This big, ugly creature—surely sent by Satan himself—is crying, and reeks of regret?

“Ow! You hurt Bu! How could you? Bu was only going to help you.” Its voice is undeniably male and youthful as it wipes the dark ooze from its mouth on the back of his hand, then proceeds to lick some off.

“Oh, gross,” I say, totally disgusted. I hold the pole weapon out in front of me.

The tears are as big as his eyes as they roll down his cheeks, and I find myself feeling bad I hurt him, even if he was going to rip my throat out. I get closer to him, just out of arm’s length, and say, “You were going to eat me! Is this a trick? You feign pain, I come close, and then you eat me?”

He then does something unexpected—giggles. It’s then that I feel it—purity. Purity of heart and soul is spewing from him, like rays from a sun, warm and soft as cashmere.

“Wait,” I say as I sniff the air. “You smell like chocolate.”

Amy Luchen author photoBorn in Chicago, Illinois, a few days prior to watching her first movie, at a drive-in theater. Yes, drive-in theater. And yes, her mother believed she was possessed by the devil after said first movie.
Grew up in the Chicagoland area and graduated from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where she simply became a number, but decided it was a good number.
Loves cooking (mostly candy-cooking), gardening (putting holes in the ground for perennials, DONE!), designing and constructing jewelry (everything from silversmithing to lampworking), and living with her wonderful husband, two children, black Labrador, and frog—and maybe even the chipmunk family that likes to destroy her aforementioned perennials.
Also hopes that you enjoy her writings, and won’t criticize her for her aversion of eating things in multiples of three.

To learn more about Amy and her work you can visit her Facebook page (here), her Website (here) or her Goodreads Authors page (here). Alternatively follow and converse with her onTwitter (here).
Renhala is avaliable to buy now from
Amazon.com (here)and Smashwords(here).

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Self Published Sunday: Interview With Lynne North

This week we welcome indy authorLynne North who’s Children’s book, Caution: Witch in Progress’ was published by Ghostly Publishing in 2013 and launched at Earl’s Court Book Fair in London on April 15th.

Lynne Northing author photoLynne North lives in the north west of England and works as a data analyst for one of the local Health Authorities. She has been a prolific reader all her life, and for many years has spent the majority of her free time writing. As well as being educated up to degree level, she has completed courses and received diplomas from ‘The Writing School Ltd’ and ‘The Academy of Children’s Writers’.
Lynne’s aim in life has always been to write, and she has had a sideline of freelance writing for more years than she likes to admit to having lived. This has mainly involved published articles in such magazines as ‘Prediction’. She has also completed two children’s novels, ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ and ‘Zac’s Destiny’.
Lynne is currently working on a very different children’s humorous fantasy, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’, and a fantasy novel for young adults titled ‘Dimensions’.

What do you do when you are not writing?
Unfortunately I still work full time as a Data Analyst for one of my local Health Authorities. I am also currently spending a lot of time promoting my recently released children’s humorous fantasy. I visited Earl’s Court Book Fair in London this year to promote the official release of my book, ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’. I enjoy holidays, walking in the countryside, console gaming when I have the time, listening to music, and reading, to name but a few of my interests. Somewhere in between all that, I sometimes find time to eat and sleep.

What inspired you to become a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. From first learning how to write I knew I wanted to be creative. During school years I enjoyed my English classes (yes, I was the one), and even liked being set essays to write. In my teens I began writing articles for magazines, and making money from my hobby. Once writing became such an interest, to me it was a natural progression to want to write a book. The thought can seem quite daunting, and I find that I never sit back to wonder how much I will have to write to complete a book or it could seem an arduous task. Writing should be a pleasure. If the author does not enjoy writing it, then the public will certainly not enjoy reading it. Writing a book to me is a series of stages, never looking ahead to the next until I have completed the present one. When I finally look back over how much I have written, it can be quite a pleasant surprise. To answer your question, therefore, my inspiration for writing has been set by a series of moments throughout my life, that all culminated in the wonderful one of seeing my first book in print.
Current work.

What was your inspiration for Caution: Witch in Progress?
I have always loved to read fantasy. It is escapism into worlds we can only imagine, full of colour and fascination. Terry Pratchett introduced me to humorous fantasy, and I have never looked back since. What a writer. I like to think that he has been my inspiration for my humorous writing, and my witches of course! As to witches in general, I feel they have had a hard time of it over the years. There may be some bad ones (though mine are not!) but throughout history alleged witches just seem to have borne the brunt of other people’s misfortunes. If someone’s crops failed, they blamed the little old lady with the hunched back who lived down the road for walking past. If their cattle died, the cross-eyed woman stared at them funny. Tell me, how else could she stare at them? I thought it was time to follow in the footsteps of my hero, Terry, and try to raise an appreciation for witches for a change. Many of the persecuted ones in our dim and distant past were probably little more than healers and herbalists. ‘Caution’ is mainly just a story that was inside me. I love to write humorous fantasy, and even if I’m not trying to be humorous, my writing has a habit of turning that way unless I keep a very tight rein on it. I began the story and it developed quickly. Before long the characters took over, and kept me going until they had reached their last page.

Tell us about your book?
Caution: Witch in Progress is aimed at the eight years of age to young teen market.
Gertie Grimthorpe comes from a long line of witches. Unfortunately, she hasn’t really got the hang of it. Being blonde-haired, blue-eyed and free of warts isn’t much of an advantage.
Try as she might, Gertie’s spells fall flat. She manages to give her bat-headed umbrella the ability to talk, but then wishes she hadn’t when all he does is complain and insult people. Even finding an owl to be her Familiar doesn’t help. Then again, he is extremely shortsighted…
Gertie is sent to The Academy to improve her spell casting skills. She soon has a best friend in the form of Bertha Bobbit, a big girl, with a matching appetite.
Add to that a Moat Monster with a flatulence problem, the weirdest array of witch’s Familiars possible, and a warlock determined to ruin Gertie’s chances of success, and the story unfolds.
Not to mention the demon…

What research did you do for this book?
Most of my writing is straight from my mind, and involves no research whatsoever. That’s the beauty of fantasy. Anything goes! No one can say you are not right about a fantasy you create yourself. Where research is necessary (and of course it sometimes is) then I will spend as long as it takes to get it right. I did research the uses of various herbs and plants when writing about Gertie, for reasons that will be revealed in the book!

Are any elements of your book based on real life experiences/people?
I doubt if there are any writers out there who do not rely on at least some of their life’s experiences in their writing. Characters with Lancashire accents have a habit of creeping into my novels, especially when writing humour. I believe I have that off to a fine art…Then of course there’s the animated umbrella in ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ inspired by a true incident that happened to my Mother with her wooden-headed umbrella, but that’s another story…

What are you currently working on?
I have just completed the first draft of another children’s humorous fantasy titled ‘Be Careful What You Wish For.’ Here is a brief synopsis:
‘Finn is a bored young leprechaun. He wants something exciting to happen, but never having been blessed by the Good Luck Fairy, he soon gets far more than he bargained for. This is no fairy tale…’
I am also working on a YA fantasy titled ‘Dimensions’
‘When Leah first sees the old necklace in the window of an antique shop, little does she know what life has in store for her. Increasingly drawn to the pentacle on a silver chain, Leah finally buys it and soon finds herself having strange dreams about Stonehenge. Trying to put the dreams to rest, she visits the ancient site; only to be transported into another dimension.
Leah arrives in a besieged land of wizardry, magic and demon might. The land needs the help of an Outlander, and to Leah’s disbelief and shock, she has been called.’

What is your writing process?
I find that I have to write in long hand scribbles on a pad of A4 lined paper. I throw the ideas down as they come to me without pause to worry about spelling or punctuation. My own version of shorthand (because I never learned the real thing) sometimes even leaves me wondering what on earth I wrote! If inspiration begins to wane, I then move to my computer where I begin to type up what I have written, paying far more attention to the correct format. At this point a lot of what I scribbled might get changed, but at least my ideas flowed without interruptions caused by things that I find easier to edit later. I tend to follow this process all the time. It works for me!

Do you use anything to sustain you during the writing process? Coffee? Chocolate? Music?
Sometimes music, but more times than not I just like to sit comfortably and quietly to let the thoughts flow free. I don’t write for very long periods of time at one go, because if I start to think I’m forcing ideas, it doesn’t work. If the flow stops, I go away, do something else, then head back later.

What prompted you to self publish?
Actually, I was lucky enough not to have to self publish. I was published a few years ago by YouWriteOn, a group I found online who are sponsored by the Art’s Council to help new writer’s. I then recently discovered Ghostly Publishing and approached them with my work. They decided to give me a great chance by taking me on as one of their authors. For that, I will be eternally grateful!

Can you tell us about the challenges in writing and publishing your first novel?
I have never felt challenged by writing, because it is the only thing I have ever really wanted to do. Publishing, yes, that is the major challenge. It is very hard to keep positive about your writing when it is so difficult to get an agent or a publisher to even take a look at your work. My book went through many rejections, and many rewrites. The only thing you can do to give yourself more chances at those elusive publishers is to ensure your work is the best it can be, and written and edited within all the rules and formats expected by the publishing industry. If it is at least set out correctly, then your book has far more chance of being considered. Give it your best, it deserves it, doesn’t it?

Do you ever experience writers block? How do you overcome it?
Luckily, not in any serious way. I try not to put too much pressure on myself. If I knew I had to write x number of words, no matter what, then I could well feel daunted and wonder what comes next. I work in a casual way, writing what comes easily. If my train of thought falters then I go off to do something else to let my mind sort out the next part in the background. Some of my best ideas have sprung to mind in the shower!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. You are very unlikely to have your life’s work snatched up by the first publisher or agent you send it to. Be prepared for the long haul, but believe in yourself, and don’t lose hope. There could be someone out there just waiting for your book to drop on their desk. The hard part is finding them…

Why did you choose to write children’s books?
I write children’s books and YA mainly because these are the genres I feel comfortable writing, and associate most with. I could be said to be in my second (or third) childhood, but personally I don’t think I ever left my first. Life is too short to take it all too seriously…

How did you choose the genre you write in? What inspired you to write it?
I think fantasy chose me, rather than the other way round. Once I discovered ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ in my teens the stage was set for all my future reading habits. I think that the books we read will determine the genre of book we will choose to write. Fantasy is by far my favourite genre, so carrying that avid interest along into my love of writing and my need to be an author seemed to be the only natural progression.

How did you become interested in Fantasy
As I mentioned above it began with JRR Tolkien. I soon discovered Terry Pratchett, what a master of humorous fantasy. Terry is one of a kind and my favourite author. ‘The Sword of Shannara’ began my love of Terry Brook’s novels, followed by a long line of fantasy authors I love to read such as Terry Goodkind, Piers Anthony and Tad Williams, to name but a few!
Reader

What books have inspired you?
Probably all the books I read inspire me in one way or another. My main inspiration for humour is anything written by Terry Pratchett. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings also have to have pride of place in this section.

What was your favourite book as a child/teenager?
It’s hard to choose one book, but the first one that comes to mind from childhood is ‘The Secret Island’ by Enid Blyton. The teenage novel must be ‘The Hobbit’.

What are you currently reading?
I enjoy reading children’s books, both to see what is doing well out there and what children like to read, and also for my own pleasure. I love Joseph Delaney’s books, and I am currently reading ‘The Spook’s Nightmare’.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?
I think that too was Joseph Delaney’s Spook’s series. Children’s books are not necessarily just for children!

What/Who inspired you as a reader?
From a child, Enid Blyton, adventure stories, through science fiction, then in my teens onto fantasy where I have fixated ever since. The writer’s to inspire me have been all the ones mentioned in previous answers.

Just For Fun!

If ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ was made into a film which actor, past or present, do you envision in the lead role?
Uhm, that’s a hard one. The only young actress who springs to mind for Gertie, because she is the right age, blonde, and a good actress, is Emilia Jones. Wonder if she can do a good northern accent?

If your book had a soundtrack which artists would feature on it?
I would like to give the opportunity to my cousin, Peter Nelson, who features on my book trailer. He is a talented musician with a lovely voice, and if I was doing well enough to need a soundtrack I would like him to participate in the success too.

Paper, Audio or eBook?
All, but as a first choice I would always choose to hold a ‘real’ book in my hands. There is nothing like the look, feel and smell of a new book.

Tea or Coffee?
Tea

Slippers or barefoot?
Barefoot

Shower or Bath?
Shower

Marmite: Love it? Hate it?
Hate it

Email or postcard?
Email

Caution: Witch In Progress cover artCaution: Witch In progress is a children’s humorous fantasy novel aimed at the eight years of age to young teen market.
Gertie Grimthorpe comes from a long line of witches. Unfortunately, she hasn’t really got the hang of it. Being blonde haired, blue eyed and free of warts isn’t much of an advantage.
Try as she might, Gertie’s spells fall flat. She manages to give her bat-headed umbrella the ability to talk, but then wishes she hadn’t when all he does is complain and insult people. Even finding an owl to be her Familiar doesn’t help. Then again, he is extremely shortsighted…
Gertie is sent to The Academy to improve her spell casting skills. She soon has a best friend in the form of Bertha Bobbit, a big girl, with a matching appetite.
Add to that a Moat Monster with a flatulence problem, the weirdest array of witch’s Familiars possible, and a warlock determined to ruin Gertie’s chances of success, and the story unfolds.
Not to mention the demon…

Caution: Witch In Progress is available to buy now in Paperback(click here) and on Kindle (click here).

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Cover Reveal: Strong Enough

I am really looking forward to this debut from self published author Alexis Alexander.

strong enoughWe don’t meet people in life on accident, they are meant to cross our path for a reason; Reece Miller is beginning to understand what that really means.
At the tender age of 17, Reece experienced a trauma that finally left her broken and guarded. Her memories of that night are limited except for the feel and smell of the savior that crossed her path. With no name or even a mental picture of who he was, she has spent the last six years thinking of nothing but him and wondering.
Hardened by life, Reece has built a wall around herself. Unable to understand the feeling of love, let alone what it means to be needed or wanted, she pushes through life hiding; three people cross her path and slowly chip at the vacant shell that is, Reece Miller, one of them being her savior from that awful night.
Will Reece figure out who he is or his reason for being in her life before it’s too late? Or will she lose the one person meant to make her whole again?
A heartfelt tale of learning to trust, believe and love

Strong Enough is scheduled to be published in May.
To learn more about Alexis and her work visit her Facebook page(here).

Posted by Caroline

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Self Published Sunday: Interview with Erica Dakin

This week we welcome Erica Dakin.

Erica ProfileI was born in the Netherlands and lived there until age 25, when I moved to England to live with my then boyfriend, who has been my husband since 2006. I have always been a linguist at heart, and while I only speak two languages fluently (Dutch and English), I know a little about a lot of other languages and will always be passionate about language in general and how to use it.
My sister taught me how to read at age four because I showed interest, and since then reading has been one of my main hobbies. I love curling up with a good book, and always feel a sense of loss when it finishes and I have to resurface from the world that I have been so absorbed in until then.
To pay the bills I work in the Human Resources department of a Government agency, but I dream of being a bestselling author someday. My home life is spent with my husband and four cats (which might possibly put me in the crazy cat lady category, but the simple truth is that I cannot look at two kittens and only choose one).
There have been many writers who have given me many hours of enjoyment through their imagination, and I can think of no greater compliment than other people telling me that I did the same for them.

What do you do when you are not writing?

At the moment that doesn’t seem to happen very often, but I enjoy playing strategy-based computer games, going to the cinema, embroidery and tabletop roleplay. I also occasionally play the piano and I am, of course, an avid reader.

What inspired you to become a writer?

I don’t think I had a particular epiphany that made me start writing, it’s just something that happened. I learned to read when I was four and in my childhood I did very little else but read, so to then start writing was simply a natural extension of that. As to when I began to write, I have recently been trying to figure that out, and the earliest thing I can remember writing was around twenty years ago. I’m not saying I didn’t write anything before then, but if I did I cannot remember what it was.

What was your inspiration for The Ritual?

In its very first incarnation it started as a story to accompany a tabletop roleplaying campaign I had just started, but the campaign never really got off the ground for various reasons, and as such the story was shelved as well. I dug it out again when a friend drew my attention to a competition to get a novel published, and the novel I was working on at the time was unpublishable due to copyright issues.

Tell us more about your book.

It tells the story of identical twin sisters, half human and half elf, trying to make their way in a world where their half-breed race is considered little more than vermin. Most half-elves are slaves, and those that aren’t live on the edge of society. They meet two half-elf men, also identical twins, and are drawn into their dangerous scheme until they’re in so deep that there is no way of backing out again. Added to that there is an almost irresistible mutual attraction coupled with very solid reasons for not being able to trust each other, even though the four of them have no choice but to rely on each other. The book is an equal blend of Fantasy, Romance and Adventure with some saucy bits thrown in for added spice.

What research did you do for this book?

If I’m honest, very little. The beauty of a Fantasy setting is that it gives you a lot of freedom to make things up on the spot without needing too much hard science to back it up. I have on the whole relied on my vast reading experience, my own innate desire to eliminate any possible plot holes and on my editor and beta readers for pointing out anything that didn’t sound plausible.

Are any elements of your book based on real life experiences/people?

Not consciously, although a friend has said that he recognised a lot of my own characteristics in Chiarin, the main character in The Ritual. Whether this is true I’m not sure, especially since he is the only one to have said so, but I guess it’s unavoidable to put a little bit of yourself in your main character.

What are you currently working on?

The Ritual is the first book in a trilogy. Each book will stand as a story on its own, but the books are interlinked. The second part of this trilogy, The Conspiracy, is currently in the beta-reading stage. Once I have the feedback from my beta readers I will need to make some final adjustments, but I hope to have it ready for publishing in April or at the very last May 2013. The feedback has so far been very positive, so the adjustments probably won’t need to be extensive. In the meantime I have just started the first draft of the third book, tentatively titled The Coup. This book is little more than a very basic plot in my head at this stage, so I doubt I will have it ready before 2014, but it should keep me busy for a while to come! Apart from that I am very close to finalising the files to make The Ritual available as a print-on-demand book, which will hopefully expand my potential reader pool again.

What is your writing process?

I mostly write on my computer, and depending on how strong the urge is, it could be something I do from the moment I come home from the day job until I go to bed, with nothing but a break for dinner. I have also been known to write on a netbook or even in a paper notebook while on holiday. The beauty of pen and paper is that it will never run out of battery power, and it means that when it comes to typing it up later, you can make amendments and adjustments as you type.

Do you use anything to sustain you during the writing process?

Nothing I couldn’t live without. I will always have music playing in the background while at my computer, but if I’m out on holiday with my pen and paper I don’t miss it. Similarly I will gladly accept a cup of tea if my husband offers to make one, but it isn’t essential to the writing process.

What prompted you to self publish The Ritual?

Impatience more than anything else. The book was ready, as far as I was concerned, and although I approached an agent to try and go through the traditional publishing route, it would have taken months to approach all the ones that looked to cover the right kind of genre, and I was fully expecting to get nothing but rejections, since everyone agrees that it is fiendishly difficult to get published if you’re a beginning writer. By self-publishing I hope that in or three years time I can approach an agent with sales figures, decent reviews and other proof that my book has merit and deserves attention.

Can you tell us about the challenges in writing and publishing your first novel?

In all honesty, I haven’t faced that many challenges. Writing the book happened all by itself, and although it needed severe editing, I am lucky enough to have a good friend who is also a very good editor to take care of that side of it. Apart from that the self-publishing process is pretty easy, since the various sites I’ve used take you through the process step by step. I’ve made a few beginner’s errors, such as forgetting to list myself as the author of the book (I foolishly assumed that since I was logged on as me, it would do that automatically), but apart from that the process has been pleasantly smooth.

Do you ever experience writers block? How do you overcome it?

I have not yet experienced it, other than in the sense that I have written about characters and reached a point where there was nothing left to tell. Once I got to that stage I knew that it was time to move on to something else, so I did. At the very most I can get stuck on individual sentences, where I need half an hour to find the right words to describe something, but I wouldn’t consider that writers block.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Get yourself a good editor. No matter how many times you read through something yourself, there will always be something that you missed, be it spelling mistakes, gaping plot holes or simply bad writing. It is also very important that your editor isn’t afraid to tell it like it is – if something needs major work then they need to be able to tell you so, and you need to be able to accept that criticism. I had what I considered to be a publishable book until my editor told me that it needed so much work that I would be better off doing a complete side-by-side rewrite, and in hindsight it was the best advice she ever gave me. Sure, it was a bit of a shock when she first said it, but the book has turned out much better in the end.

How did you choose the genre you write in? What inspired you to write in it?

Simply said, the books I have read throughout my life. I have always loved Fantasy as a genre, and had dreams of writing the next big epic Fantasy novel. The problem was that my second great love is all things Romance, and whatever I wrote always ended up having a very heavy romantic side to it. Eventually I accepted that I was clearly incapable of writing anything without it being a Romance, and embraced it instead.

How did you get interested in Fantasy and Romance?

For the Fantasy side it must have been the books I read as a child. My favourite author until about age 15 was a Dutch writer called Paul Biegel, whose books were Fantasy for children. I then progressed onto The Lord of the Rings, and from there the path was pretty much set. As for the Romance side, my mother and aunts always had a number of Mills & Boons scattered around, and I have always found them to be wonderful if you’re after some light reading that doesn’t require much thought.

What books have inspired you?

Oh, so many… The Lord of the Rings, the Assassin trilogy by Robin Hobb, the Sunrunner books by Melanie Rawn, to name but a few. Apart from that there are writers whose work I greatly admire for various reasons, and their work will inevitably have left a mark on my own writing. Tanith Lee, Jack Vance for his rich vocabulary, Terry Pratchett for his sense of humour, Nora Roberts, George RR Martin; the list goes on.

What was your favourite book as a child/teenager?

I read too many books at the time to have just one favourite, but if I absolutely had to pick one I suppose it’ll have to be The Lord of the Rings, even if these days I admire it more for its story than for the writing.

What are you currently reading?

I usually have at least two books on the go, one for in bed and one for reading on the bus as I go to work. The book on the bus is Terry Pratchett’s Snuff and the book in bed is Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?

The Assassin trilogy by Robin Hobb.

Just For Fun!
If The Ritual was made into a film, which actors do you envision in the lead role?

I believe The Ritual would actually make a good film, but I’m not fussed about actors provided they’re good. Complete unknowns don’t bring in the baggage of previous films, so they might even work better – the Lord of the Rings films have proven that you don’t need a cast of A-list actors to make a brilliant film. That said, in looks Zashter is pretty much based on Michael Praed from the 1985 TV series Robin of Sherwood.

If your book had a soundtrack, which artists would feature on it?

My musical taste veers into the obscure, so I doubt many people will have heard of them, but I would say Värttinä, VNV Nation, Rotersand, Assemblage 23 and Hedningarna.

Paper, Audio or eBook?

Paper, although I love my e-reader and couldn’t do without it anymore.

Tea or coffee?

Depends on the time of day. First thing in the morning I need my cup of tea though, or I’ll bite people’s heads off.

Slippers or barefoot?

Slippers in winter, barefoot in summer.

Shower or bath?

Shower, without a doubt.

Marmite: love it or hate it?

Hate it.

E-mail or postcard?

Probably e-mail, though I still try to send postcards when on holiday.

To learn more about Erica and her work visit her Goodreads author’s page (here), her Amazon author’s page (here) or her blog(here).

Theft and Sorcery 1 - The Ritual V2Chiarin is a stubborn, hot-blooded young half-elf whose only goal is to keep herself and her twin sister alive in a land that considers her disposable because of her race. Yet when she meets fellow thief Zashter, she finds herself drawn into his dangerous undertaking, and into an adventure she could not have anticipated.
Attracted to him despite his brooding nature, and determined to learn from him despite knowing she cannot trust him, she soon realises that there is no going back, and she must help Zashter fulfil the wish of his sinister employer, even if dragons, elves and magic stand in their way.
As their fiery love-affair intensifies, Chiarin faces a choice: run and leave Zashter to his own devices, or stay and sacrifice everything? After all, her sister’s life hinges on this as well…

Ritual is available to by for your ereader on Amazon (click here) and and Smashwords.It is also available on such sites as Kobobooks, Barnes & Noble and the Apple store. Erica hopes to have a printed version available through Amazon within the next couple of weeks.

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Self Published Sunday: New Adult Romance

It gives us great pleasure to introduce Michelle Valentine, the author of the Black Falcon Series and recently published, Demon At My Door (reviewed here by Caroline).

ROCKtheHEART-1For the last four years, good girl Lane has regretted breaking up with Noel Falcon. She thought she was sensible when she told him his dreams of being a rock star would get him nowhere, but now that he’s a rock god and her career is stagnant, she realizes just how wrong she was. When Noel hires the marketing company where Lane is an intern, she’s forced to see him again. If she wants to land her dream job as executive within the company, she has to win him over and secure his account. Too bad Noel is still pissed at her for breaking his heart.
When Lane’s company flies her to a Black Falcon concert to gain Noel’s attention, emotions run high the moment she sees him and realizes she’s far from over him. But Noel’s countless trysts with groupies and his cocky attitude make Lane believe he isn’t the same guy she once loved—now he seems to only want her body. Then after Lane discloses she needs him to procure a job, Noel proves he’s a changed man by forcing her to go on the road with him in order to get it.
After Lane reluctantly takes Noel up on his offer, she becomes willing to do whatever it takes to keep him satisfied, even if it means succumbing to his seductive ways. Lane soon finds deception is a dangerous game and she’s not the only one playing.

A few years back, when I strictly focused on writing Young Adult novels, I remember some of the agents and publishers in that genre writing up posts about stories written with college aged characters that was being dubbed New Adult. Of course, those people were totally downplaying the NA genre and I specifically remember one influential agent making the statement that the genre was just a passing fad and that it would never take off. Look at how much she knew, right.

New Adult is the latest hot, most sought after genres in the writing world thanks to indie authors who were brave enough to buck the traditional publishing world and make their own ways. When indie books in the NA genre started taking off, the publishers started to finally notice that there was a demand for those kinds of novels and started snatching up indie books with high sales. Most of those books would have gotten instant rejection at the agent level but thanks to the new wave of self publishing, people like me can get their stories into the hands of readers without the traditional publishing houses.

Personally I think the genre is a big hit because it follows through on what most YA books focus on, but never follow through with—first love. NA is like taking YA books and mashing them together with a steamy romance novel. You really get the best of both worlds. It’s still a girl trying to figure out her way in the world while falling in love and possibly having sex for the first time, only in NA we get detailed naughty scenes with all of the angst.

Since YA is still one of my favorite genres to write, NA was an easy transition to me. I love the freedom the characters have at the college age level and I think the readers do too. With that being said, I look for this genre to continue to explode much like YA did and eventually get its own section in the bookstores. We are at the brink of a new publishing world and the traditional models of publishing a novel have been thrown out the window. I’m excited to see where this goes and what the future holds for authors like me.
<3 Michelle A. Valentine

New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author Michelle A. Valentine is a Central Ohio nurse turned author of erotic romance and New Adult novels. Her love of hard-rock music, tattoos and sexy musicians inspired her BLACK FALCON series.

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Lucifer Blog Tour: To Publish Is To Bleed

Yesterday we got to know awesome debut author Annabell Cadiz ( read the interview here). Today we ask that you sit back and relax with a cup of tea while Annabell shares the wisdom she gained during her journey to self publication.

luciferHave you ever wondered what could be hiding in the shadows?
Well, for eighteen-year-old Zahara Faraday, she doesn’t have to wonder. You see she comes from a lineage of Light Witches, those who have chosen to help protect and serve between the supernatural world and the human world. The only problem is Zahara, like her father Solomon, is as human as a human being can be whereas her mother, Mia, and her Aunt Catalina, were born as Light Witches. As a family they hunt down rogue supernaturals—creatures who harm humans or who have committed an act against their kingdom.
Zahara’s hunting skills are usually kept dormant since her parents would prefer she live life as a normal human girl without knowledge of the supernatural world. She plans on doing just that—except when she finds a couple being attacked by fairies, she has no choice but to step in. Before she can return to pretending to be blissfully ignorant, Zahara encounters a problem she isn’t the least equip to handle: Bryan Hamilton, the good looking new co-worker she has to help train. In a heartbeat, her best friend, Becca King, has set her up on a double date with herself and her new crush, Rekesh Saint-Louis, who happens to be the most powerful leader of the biggest Imago Coven in South Florida –supernatural creatures with the ability to control water . . . and suck out human souls.
Zahara has no time to focus on how she’s going to explain her double date with her best friend and the enemy they have a tentative truce with to her parents because soon one of the members of Mia and Catalina’s coven is found murdered with a strange tattoo of a snake with wings carved into his arm.
Zahara is then thrown into a whirlwind battle with an angel determined to have revenge against God, an Imago coven she doesn’t think they should trust, and slew of dream-eating fairies and powerful Nephilims, hybrid children of angels and humans, more than happy to rip her to shreds.
Normal just got a deadlier definition.

To Publish is To Bleed!
Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” while that is true for writing, the same could be said for publishing. Or well, it FEELS like sitting down and bleeding all your sanity out!
My journey to self-publishing was, thankfully, less like bleeding out my sanity and more like beating my head against a wall. I knew the basics about self-publishing but I had never ACTUALLY applied them since I had yet to publish a book, so the journey was filled with both HIALRIOUS and stupid mistakes, and was a DEFINITE learning experience.

My journey to publishing began when I was sixteen years old. I decided to write a book and in my naive mind, I thought that was all it would take. Write a book. Find someone who likes it enough to publish. Done.

Yeah, not so much.

Not only did I discover I needed an editor ASAP but I needed an entirely different book. I didn’t really focus on writing till years later when the FALLEN ANGELS SERIES kicked in, then SONS OF OLD TRILGY was born.
Through those years I learned how to be a better writer and how to create an ACTUAL plot with DEPTH, and I learned how to understand the ins and outs of publishing.

So here are some tips to up and coming authors to save you from making the same ridiculous (and comical) mistakes.
Enjoy!

Tips to Self-Publishing

Editor Is Your Best Friend (Even When He/She Sounds Like the Enemy): Every great author needs a support team and one of the main players on your team is your editor. Your editor is a third set of EXPERIENCED eyes and will not only become your confidant, but a trusted friend. Do the research. Make sure the person you choose to work with has done work either as a freelance editor or established editor in the past. Ask for references, history, and pricing. Find someone you vibe with well. You can use sites like The Association of Authors’ Representative, Preditors & Editors, and Writer Beware to help you.

The Curse of the Ugly Cover: Now, we all know the first element that will attract a reader to your book is the cover. As much as we’d love the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” to be true, in the publication world, it just doesn’t work, and frankly, an ugly cover can be an extreme turn off. Once that book is published, you’re going to have to live with that cover, so make sure it’s one you REALLY love. AND make sure to look over every detail of the cover before officially announcing it to the world. When my cover was officially done and I did a Cover Reveal Tour, none of the reviewers, my best friends, myself or even my cover designer, Kim (from Hot Damn Designs) realized that the word TRILOGY was spelled TRIOLOGY! Thankfully, it was an easy mistake to fix and it was caught before the book was published *Whew* Some designers you may want to check out Hot Damn Designs, Dara England and Carol Green, WordSuger Designs, and Graphic Fantastic.

Converting From Hell: Formatting a book is HARD work, at least for those of us who do not speak computer beyond the basics. I was blessed that my best friend’s husband knows how to format Word Doc into the various ebook formats. But I know it won’t be so easy for everyone, so I suggest learning exactly what formats you want to convert your book into and what formats work for which site (i.e. Epub for Barnes and Noble, Epub for Amazon). Also, DO NOT PUBLISH YOUR WORD DOC DIRECTLY! Amazon and BN will tell you that you can just upload your book as Word Doc and they’ll convert it for you, which they will, BUT the conversion won’t come out so nice looking. Spaces will be off. Formatting will look weird. Paragraphs may not be indented probably. You don’t want to wind up with crappy formatted conversion because readers will get annoyed and will only be able to focus on the formatting instead of the story. Some great sites that can help you with conversion: Kinde Expert and Write Into Print.

Publish Here, Publish There, Publish Everywhere!: In case you were like me and didn’t know where the hex on Amazon and Barnes and Noble you’re supposed to go in order to publish your book, let me make it easier for you 😉

Amazon: No, you do not just go on your regular Amazon account to publish your book. Travel over to Kindle Direct Publishing. The steps will be explained for you and they are really simple. (Also, make sure in the section where it says “Contributors” that you put in YOUR NAME then click on the scroll bar and select AUTHOR or when you submit your book for publication on Amazon, it won’t go live. Yeah, I made that mistake. TWICE. *slaps forehead*) Amazon takes up to 12 hrs to publish your book in English and 48 hrs to publish your book in various other languages, so make sure to submit your book the day before your desired publication date! A great video that helps to explain Kindle Direct Publishing well is How to Upload Your Book on Amazon’s DTP (Kindle Marketplace). Also, once you finish publishing your book, head on over to Author Central and set up an author page for yourself 😉

Barnes and Noble: Again, you don’t head to your regular Barnes and Noble page that you use to buy books. Head on over to Pub It where the steps are explained to you the same way they are on Amazon. And again, remember in the Contributor section to do the same as with Amazon!! Barnes and Noble will give you a phone number you’ll need to call so they can check that your name and social security number are correct before they can send your book to be published live on their site. Barnes and Noble can take between 24 to 72 hrs to publish your book live so make sure to submit your book earlier than your desired publication date.
Other sites you may want to publish on: Smashwords (If you use Smashwords though, they will convert your book for you into various ebook versions). Kobo (in order to publish with them you will need to first attain an ISBN number).

Cover Tour, Launch Tour, Blog Tour? Speak English, Will You?!: There are a variety of ways an author can promote his or her book both before publication and after. It’s always great to set up interest for your book as early as possible and here are some ways you can do that.

Cover Reveal Tour: Before your book comes out, you can start getting word out there by setting up a virtual tour, otherwise known as a blog tour, that will reveal the cover of your book. The cover reveal will include not only the image of the cover, but also the synopsis of the book, mini bio about the author and links as to where the author can be located. It’s a fun and simple way to get people interested in your up and coming book. You will have to research out reviewers and request if they would like to sign up to participate in your cover reveal tour. This tour can go from one to two weeks long.

Launch Day Tour: This would be a blog tour that takes place on the day of publication for your book. You will have to set this up a few weeks in advance so every reviewer that chooses to participate can have all the info on time and so you can get a good amount of participating reviewers. Every post would include the cover of your book, the synopsis, author bio and links, and you may also want to include an excerpt (can be a scene from your book or half a chapter or a full on chapter) from your book. Or character profiles or a character interview. Something fun to go along with the promo of your book and give people an inside glimpse into what your book is either about or the characters.

Launch Tour: This would be like the Launch Day Tour but instead of just one day, this would last from one week to two weeks long.

Blog Tour: A blog tour is a lot more work and a lot of fun. It’s like setting up a book tour in the outside world except instead of stopping by bookstores for signings, you stop by reviewers blogs. This tour would include book reviews, interviews, guest posts and giveaways. This tour can last from two weeks to a month, so you will to set this tour up at least a month before the time period you want it to run. Usually between ten to twenty-five reviewers participate in the tour and they get to decide how they participate (i.e. review your book or conduct an interview with you or a character interview with a character from your book or give you a topic to write a post about to be featured on the reviewer’s site) With every type of post the cover image, the synopsis, the author bio and links will also be included.

Who the Author Are You??: A reader will become interested in not just your book but the author who created that book. You’re taken more seriously the better you establish yourself for your readership. Create a website or a blog or both (Weebly and WordPress are both FREE sites that allow you to set up a website for yourself). Write about your books, your writing journey, tips you may have, your everyday life. Let readers get to know you a bit so they can feel a connection with you. Create an account on a social media site like Twitter or Facebook. Twitter is a great place to network with fellow authors, editors, and publishers. Facebook lets you create an author page. Pinterest is a fun site to post images of stuff that can represent you and your book. Set up a Goodreads account. Goodreads is one of the biggest sites for readers and reviewers. It’s a great place to get know your readership and connect with them. They also have an Author’s Program you can sign up for. Having an online presence is a NECESSITY when you are publishing period, but even more so, when you’re self-publishing in your own work.

I hope these tips help you in along your publishing journey! =) You can also stop by TeamNerd Reviews to request having a blog tour set up for you *wink*

AnnabelleAnnabell Cadiz was born in the sweltering heat of South Florida. She was raised surrounded by Puerto Rican chefs and band of siblings that weren’t all related to her. A self-proclaimed nerd and book-a-holic (her room does hold much evidence to prove her claims are justifiable), she created TeamNerd Reviews to showcase her EXTREME love for novels where, along with her best friend, Bridget Strahin, she hosts book reviews, interviews, giveaways, Indie Shoutouts and much more. She also blog tour services for authors. She also had the pleasure of being published in three separate issue of Suspense Magazine. She also adores Cinnamon Teddy Grahams, has an addiction to Minute Maid Orange juice, and is a proud Jesus Freak. Lucifer is Annabell’s debut novel and the first book in the Sons of Old Trilogy.

You can find out more about Annabell and her work by visiting her website, Goodreads author page, Pinterest account, Facebook page,and her fabulous book blog. Alternatively, you can converse with her on twitter.

Lucifer, the first book in Annabell’s Son’s Of Old Trilogy, is available to buy now from Barnes and Noble, amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

lucifer swag packENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN THE FABTASTIC SWAG PACK!
In honor of the two main female leads in LUCIFER, Zahara and Becca, Annabell created a fun swag pack for ONE very lucky winner!
Win a specially made makeup kit by E.L.F along with one DVD copy of the movie Sixteen Candles, a fuschia metallic manicure set, a Girl Power Superwoman wristband, a LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD silver necklace, a silver bracelet with handcuff & key charms, Honey Sweetheart lotion (that smells INCREDIBLE!), two toned lip bloom (that is SUPER cute!), and gray colored cheetah printed socks that are SOOOO adorables and an ecopy of LUCIFER!
ANNNND if that wasn’t enough,FIVE other lucky winners will win a FREE ecopy of LUCIFER!
TWICE a week on MONDAYS & FRIDAYS a new clue from LUCIFER will be posted up. Enter the new clue inside the Rafflecopter every time a new one is posted and get more chances to win!
Stop by the BLOG TOUR page(here) to enter!

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