Writing update 2018 & New Year Plans #amwriting #amediting

Last year (that sounds so weird) ended on a high for me. The Lost Sentinel was on Brizzlelass’ 10 top reads of 2017 and I also received a lovely email from a reader who said she really enjoyed the book.

That sent me smiling into 2018…

But 2017 has been a year of ups and downs on the writing and blogging front. I published my second book, The Lost Sentinel – Silent Sea Chronicles bk 1, I finished the draft of book 2, which I’m editing and preparing to send to beta readers asap, and I started the draft of book 3 during Nanowrimo. But I’m far behind on the publishing schedule I set myself and I’ve let my blogging slip to near non-existent.

So with this in mind I’ve done some thinking about what I want to achieve in 2018.

Writing

  1. Publish book 2 – The Sentinel’s Reign
  2. Finish the first draft of book 3 – The Sentinel’s Alliance
  3. Look at another WIP that has been waiting for an end for several years and decide if this is the book that I want to submit to agents.

Writing in general

  1. Attend some writing events / workshops
  2. Contact book reviewers
  3. Learn more about marketing and get my books in front of more readers

Blogging

  1. Tidy up the blog and create a new banner and a landing page.
  2. Blog more often with more focus on books and writing.
  3. Have more guest posts and get involved in more blog tours.

Lifestyle

  1. I plan to have a healthier diet and start walking more.
  2. Get more sleep
  3. Be more positive.

Reading

  1. I want to read more fantasy. See the list of books on my 2018 TBR list
  2. I want to post more book reviews
  3. I want to read at least 35 books in 2018

So I know I’m still asking a lot of myself in 2018, but with a more positive attitude and focus on what I want to achieve, I’m hopeful that I can do this.

Wish me luck…

Books on my TBR shelf for 2018 #amreading #readingchallenge

At the start of 2017 I wrote a list of the books I planned to read. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to reach my goal because I spent most of my time editing rather than reading. Looking back at the books I did read in 2017 I noticed I haven’t read as much fantasy as I would like. So in 2018 I hope to immerse myself in the genre.

I decided to record a few of the books I plan to read and hopefully by telling you all, it will inspire me to keep on track. Here goes…

Ash and Quill (The Great Library book 3) – Rachel Caine

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(Book 1 and 2 were my Christmas reads over the last few years and I loved them. I’m 100 pages into book 3 and loving it just as much.)

A Gathering of Shadows (Book 2) A Conjuring of Light (Book 3) – V E Schwab

(I loved book one and chose it as a standout fantasy read for me in 2017. Here’s the post.)

Queen of Fire – Book 3 – Anthony Ryan

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(When I read book 1 – Bloodsong a few years ago I knew I had discovered my new David Gemmell in this author. I enjoyed book 2 almost as much, but for some reason haven’t got around to reading the last book.)

Magic-Born – Crown of Stones book 3 – C L Schneider

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(Crown of Stones is another great series that I can’t wait to finish reading.)

Magisterium books 2, 3 and 4. Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

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(A brilliant children’s series that my son and I adore. Hopefully the last book will be published in 2018?)

Rhyming Rings – David Gemmell

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(David Gemmell is my all time favourite fantasy author! When I heard this unpublished book was being released in 2017, I snapped up a copy. I’m waiting for the right moment to sit and read this book without any distractions.)

Keepers – Sacha Black

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(I’ve followed Sacha’s blog for quite a while now and have been eager to read her new book, which I won in a blog competition. I’m hoping it’s one I can recommend to my son as well.)

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

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(Some of the reviewers I follow have loved this book and it’s on the strength of their reviews that I bought this. I’m looking forward to checking it out.)

I also have trilogies by Joe Abercrombie and Brandon Sanderson to complete, and it’s about time I started Throne of Glass by Sarah J Mass to see what all the fuss is about. I also hope to read some writing guides early in 2018 including;

111 tips to create your book trailer

111 tips to get book reviews

111 tips to market your book for free (all by Doris-Maria Heilmann)

13 steps to evil by Sacha Black

Fantasy Writing Prompts by Rayne Hall.

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Currently I have 283 book on my To Read shelf on Goodreads, bookshelves full of unread paperbacks, plus the kids have lots of books they’ve been recommending, and I have more books on my kindle and audiobooks to listen to. So once I’ve tackled the above list, I have plenty more books to choose from. Have you got any books that you think I should read in 2018?

What are your reading goals and what’s on your must read list?

Here’s to another year of great books. Happy reading!

My Top 10 reads of 2017 #greatreads #booklove #amreading

I’m surprised to say I beat my reading challenge target on Goodreads. I read 34 books throughout 2017, my target was 30. I read 33 in 2016, so I think I’ve found a good reading level for me, but I might aim a little higher in 2018. I plan to be more organised in my reading next year, finishing a few trilogies I’ve started etc. But I’ll post about that later. Right now, I’d like to share my Top 10 Reads of 2017…

My kids have recommended a few books this year, which have been really addictive. It’s hard to choose between them, so I’ve selected two…

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver.

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I love wolves, have done since I read Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. This book has emotion, excitement, adventure and friendship. It has been enjoyed by three generations of my family, so don’t let the fact its a children’s book put you off. I haven’t reviewed this book on my blog yet, but it is a 5 star read.

The Iron Trial By Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

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Again I haven’t reviewed this book yet, but it’s an amazing read and my first try of both these authors. I highly recommend this unputdownable 5 star book.

I tried a couple of historical fiction novels this year and I was so impressed with IREX by Carl Rackman, which I read when I was a reviewer on Rosie Amber’s book review team.

IREX by Carl Rackman

This book really draws you into the Victorian era and the mystery elements keeps you intrigued right to the end. I was sad this book had to end at all. Here’s my review.

I also tried Urban Fantasy for the first time and loved…

Eleonore by Faith Rivens

This was another 5 star read, here’s my review. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed changing my usual fantasy genre. I highly recommend this demon hunting, kick-ass heroine’s story.

Two of my stand out fantasy reads in 2017 were…

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This was my book club choice and I loved it. Here’s the link to my original review. I loved this magical book and I’m jealous of Naomi Novik’s story telling skills.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab

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I was taken by surprise by this novel. I loved the characters and can’t wait to read the rest of this series in 2018. I plan to share my review of the series then. It was another 5 star read.

I have listened to a few audiobooks in 2017 and two that really stand out are;

Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek

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The premise of this book really drew me in and I couldn’t stop listening. I may not have been over the moon with the ending, but it was still a great book and a 5 star read. Here’s my review.

The Breakdown by B A Paris

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This book was another addictive listen, with plenty of twists and shocks. You feel as unsure of whom to trust as the main character, Cass, and I loved the ending. A must read, and I hope to share my review of it early in 2018.

I have read a few writing guides this year. Again it was hard to choose between them, but I’ve selected two favourites…

The Writer’s Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann

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This book is a great editing companion. I found it really helpful in helping me focus on over used and redundant words, with plenty of helpful word alternatives. Here’s my review.

Overwhelmed Writer’s Rescue by Colleen M Story

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A great book to help you re-evaluate your life and focus on what matters. There is so much in this book to help you find more time to write. Here’s my review.

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So looking back at my reading in 2017 I’m impressed that I managed to read so many books considering I’ve published my second novel, The Lost Sentinel, edited a third and wrote 40k of another during NaNoWriMo.

I don’t know what 2018 will hold, but I’m looking forward to immersing myself in more fantasy books and following more review blogs to build up my TBR shelf even more.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin @HollyMAuthor #bookreview #romance #Christmas #greatreads

During the week before Christmas I wanted to share one of my favourite Christmas reads this year. Christmas at Lilac Cottage has everything; love laughter and tears. Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb…

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Snow is falling on White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air . . .

Penny Meadows loves her cosy cottage with its stunning views over the snow-topped town of White Cliff Bay, but not even the roaring log fire can keep her personal life from feeling frozen.

That is until dashing Henry and his daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage for the festive season. And between decking the halls and baking delicious mince pies, Penny realises there is more to Henry than meets the eye.

With sleigh bells ringing and fairy lights twinkling, the ice-sculpting competition and Christmas Eve ball are in full swing. Will Penny be able to melt the ice and allow love into her heart? And will she finally have the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

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My Review

Summary

I won a copy of this book in a blog competition (thanks Brizzlelass) and have been saving my review to post near to Christmas. I have to say this is the perfect Christmassy read to get you in the mood for the big day. It has everything you could ask for in a story; troubled romance, interfering family and friends, and emotional back story. There are also plenty of laugh out loud moments that had my husband looking at me strangely! I’m smiling to myself right now as I remember some of these scenes. The ending is heart warming and I shed a few tears in places.

Characters

I really liked Penny the main character, and Henry was a proper hero and gentleman. I loved the chemistry between them, though their stubbornness could be annoying at times. One thing I really liked were the characters unusual professions, Penny is an ice-carver and Henry is a carpenter. This added another dimension to the characters and added plenty to the plot.

Setting

White Cliff Bay comes off the page and seems so real. It’s the kind of place I’d love to visit. I love the fact that others stories have been set in the same town, so I know I can visit there again.

Likes

The writing flows so smoothly, that I found myself sucked straight into the characters lives. I immediately liked everyone in the story and wanted them to have their happy ever after.

Dislikes

I did struggle to get into this book at first, not for the writing which is excellent, but just something about it didn’t ring true. I think it was the fact Daisy didn’t act like a typical 16 year old, she was way too thoughtful and kind! I persevered through this minor annoyance and was soon swept away with the story.

Rating

It is hard to pick a rating for this story as by the end it was a 5 star, stay up all night read. But as I did struggle at the beginning, I’m going down the middle and saying it’s a 4.5 star read.

Check it out for yourself on Goodreads, and Amazon UK.

Blog Tour: A Woman Scorned Guest Post by Rebecca Howie @RebeccaH2016 #Mystery #YA

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here and I’m really pleased to break back into blogging with a guest post from Rebecca Howie during her pre release blog tour. Her second novel, A Woman Scorned is book 2 in The Sam Beckett Mysteries and will be released on 10th December. It’s already available for pre-order, I’ve included a link further below in the post.

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When I agreed to join Rebecca’s blog tour, the first thing that sprung to mind was why did she choose to write YA mystery. I love detectives and mystery thrillers, but it isn’t something I’m familiar with in the YA genre. I was fascinated by Rebecca’s response, so here is her guest post on the subject…

Why I chose YA

After a very long year of writer’s block, false-starts and dead-ends, I finally managed to finish my second novel in October, and with the last words written, I’ve been taking a well-earned break. But that didn’t last long, because when Suzanne generously offered to be a stop on my blog tour and I got started planning my guest post, it got me thinking about my decision to write The Game Begins, and the reasons I made it a YA mystery instead of just a regular mystery with a regular ex-alcoholic grump of a detective.

And the truth is, there wasn’t really a conscious decision to start writing a YA mystery novel. I’d been out of school for almost six months, and I was writing because I suddenly found myself with loads of free time on my hands and didn’t have anything else to do, and I was almost halfway through a first draft before I decided I wanted to keep going with it and see where it ended up.

It wasn’t a surprise that The Game Begins ended up as a YA Mystery, because I loved YA novels before I knew they were called YA novels and I have too many mysteries on my bookshelves to even attempt to count them, but I can remember why I started that first draft, the reason I logged out of my Archive of our Own account and opened a new Word document, and that was a question I started asking myself a few months after I’d left school and was spending most of my time writing fanfiction.

Writing was a coping mechanism for me I didn’t know I needed until I’d finished the first draft of The Game Begins and looked back over it and realised that if someone gave me a decade’s worth of therapy vouchers, they’d be well received, and with the emotional upheaval of ending what was basically a thirteen-year prison sentence (or, as some people know it, school), I was writing a lot.

But after a few months of this, I started to find myself getting annoyed, because I’d realised that regardless of who was writing their own version of their favourite detective, they never wrote about the ‘tragic backstory’ until the action was winding down and the main characters needed something to talk about.

And that was where I got the idea for The Game Begins: I couldn’t understand why detective stories always started in the middle, and never started from the beginning.

Was there some kind of rule which said that every fictional detective or PI needed to be middle-aged? And divorced with a daughter who used to worship the ground they walked on but now hated their guts?

Why couldn’t they be detectives in their teenage years? Why did we have to read about the traumatic childhood events when they were in their forties, instead of when those traumatic events were actually taking place?

It seemed like a simple question at the time, but after writing two books in an attempt to answer it, I think I understand why everyone prefers to use flashbacks or the occasional therapy session. Although that being said, I am only two books in, and Sam has plenty of stories left to tell.

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Thanks very much Rebecca, I really enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the Sam Beckett Mysteries series.

Book 2 – A Woman Scorned is available now for preorder.

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Blurb

Returning home days after leaving town wasn’t a decision Sam Beckett made lightly, and the newspaper articles detailing her shooting aren’t making her choice any easier to accept.

When a therapist is found dead in her office, Sam decides to work with CID and Detective Marshall on the case, hoping that the dead woman’s troubles will be enough to help her forget her own. but with Dr Weiss’ perfect image slowly crumbling as the investigation progresses, Sam finds that she isn’t the only person hiding behind a lie, and that uncovering someone else’s could have been what led Dr Weiss to her death.

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I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of A Woman Scorned and look forward to sharing my review in the new year.

If you haven’t read book one – The Game Begins, I recently reviewed this on my blog (review). And here’s the Amazon link of you want to check it out.

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I wish Rebecca every success with her new novel and look forward to reading more of Sam’s adventures in the future. And I hope you will be inspired by this young author and pre-order her book now.

Would you like to win a copy of Visions of Zarua #fantasy #tuesdaybookblog

Last week, my debut fantasy Visions of Zarua turned 2 and I announced the Goodreads birthday giveaway, and also a giveaway on my blog.

All you have to do is comment on this post (or the birthday post here) and I’ll be in touch with the winner over the weekend. Or enter the Goodread Giveaway here.

Visions of Zarua is a dual timeline fantasy following the story of two wizards 350 years apart. Paddren is the reluctant hero of the present day in Paltria, while Jago is the hero 350 year ago when the problems first beset the magical city of Zarua. Steeped in mystery, with plenty of magic, murder and mayhem along the way, this is a fast-paced action adventure on an epic scale.

Visions of Zarua has an average rating of 4.34 on Goodreads and 4.5 on Amazon.

Visions of Zarua Book Cover

A few readers have said;

‘Told through four unique perspectives, Visions of Zarua is an epic fantasy that follows three friends as they struggle to fight demons of the past threatening their homeland of Paltria. Moving between the past and present, the narrative unfolds at a brisk speed, never losing momentum, introducing an intricate world full of magic, intrigue and danger.’ Faith – 4 stars

‘This is a dark fantasy novel, that I loved from the very first page. It has to be said that fantasy novels are not my usual genre, but I was surprised by just how much this book spoke to me. Even though it is set in the mythical world of Paltria, and the ancient and abandoned city of Zarua, the book echoed the emotions of everyday, normal life. This is why I connected so much with this book and the characters within it.’ Jo – 5 stars

‘This may very well be the best fantasy genre book I have ever read. A brilliant debut novel!’ Jennifer – 5 stars

‘Brilliantly written fantasy, finished it and wanted more.’ Anita – 5 stars

*****

Blurb

Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past?
An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?

Excerpt
As Paddren stepped through the unmanned gates of the Redstone Manor estate, a presence shrouded by darkness brushed against his mind. Sharp pain ripped through his skull and white light flashed across his vision. He staggered to a halt and dropped his pack of supplies on the cobbles as a thunderclap exploded in his head. He gripped his skull between his hands, the pain so excruciating he had to clench his teeth to stop from screaming. His mental shield began to buckle, but then the unfamiliar presence retreated as suddenly as it had arrived.
He sucked in a shaky breath and tasted the tang of blood in his mouth. A tremor quaked through his body and his hand shook as he stooped to snatch up his discarded bag.
‘Are you all right, Paddren?’ one of the baron’s stewards asked, detaching himself from the small crowd that had gathered to watch.
‘I’m fine,’ Paddren said, forcing a smile.
The onlookers began to shuffle away. Ignoring them, Paddren tried to envisage the dark presence – certain it had been searching for someone or something. Whatever its purpose, he knew he had to tell his master.

*****

If you want to check out some reviews or download a sample, please follow the universal amazon link here.

Thanks for you time.

#tuesdaybookblog The Game Begins by Rebecca Howie @RebeccaH2016 #ya #mystery #bookreview

Today I’m reviewing a mystery book with a difference, it’s a YA featuring a budding young P.I. Sam Beckett.

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Blurb

It’s been four years since the car crash took away her father and Sam Beckett’s nightmares are back with a vengeance.

When her friend suggests she take a PI course to distract herself, Sam agrees, but she soon realises it won’t be as simple as she expected when her first case leads to a woman being killed, her husband accused of her murder, and a series of threatening text messages sent to her phone which lead Sam to believe that her father’s crash might not be the accident everyone thought it was.

My Review

I’ve always loved mysteries, even going back to my childhood when I couldn’t get enough of Scooby Doo. I’ve read countless novels and watched all the shows with their alcoholic, divorced or generally messed up detectives and P.I’s. For a long time I’ve been wanting something different. The Game Begins delivers an altogether different protagonist.

Sam is young (17 and still in school), and haunted by the accident that killed her dad. She suffered memory loss after the accident but she believes there is more to it than anyone else will admit. So she takes a P.I course, deciding to find out the answers for herself.

Her first case is something so mundane that you wonder if its worth her time. Then things start to spiral out of control.

Detective Marshall turns up on the scene and I really want Sam to trust him, but she soon feels she doesn’t know who she can trust.

Shocking events lead up to even more shocking revelations and towards the end you are rooting for Sam to get to the truth and get her life back together.

I really like Sam and Marshall, and I will certainly be reading the next book, A Woman Scorned, which is due to be released in December 2017.

My rating – I have been wavering between a 4 and 4.5 stars as I really feel this is a promising start to a new P.I. series.

There were a few typos and a couple of points in the story that I thought could have been more developed, but otherwise it was an entertaining read from a young, up and coming author.

FYI – Next month Rebecca Howie joins me for a guest post during book 2’s release.

You can check out her website for details.

The Game Begins is on Amazon UK and Amazon US and Goodreads.

Book Review: The Lost Sentinel

Today I’m sharing a well thought review of my book The Lost Sentinel by Kim on her blog The Writing Process. I’m really chuffed that she loves my visual descriptions, all those hours of editing have paid off!
Please take a look and let her know what you think.

The Writing Process

The Lost Sentinel
Silent Sea Chronicles – Book 1
Suzanne Rogerson
High Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

I received this book for free to assist with either a beta read or ARC review of book 2.
It was also on my WordPress TBR list.

 

Synopsis
Set on Kalaya, an island fuelled by a dying magic, the mystics of the mountains struggle through hardships as they search for their saviour: the lost sentinel.  Outside the mountains, magic is feared and despised, forcing people into exile.  Magic is blamed for their troubles and the ruling council of Kalaya, the Assembly, are all too eager to pass laws against it.

Follow Tei and her companions as they face multiple challenges in an attempt to overcome a dark evil and save the island magic, all while being hunted by those who wish them harm.

 

Characters
I felt like I had a good connection with…

View original post 531 more words

Happy 2nd Birthday to Visions of Zarua my debut #standalone #epicfantasy – It’s #giveaway time!

It has been two years since I published my first book, Visions of Zarua. This time two years ago I was buzzing with fear and excitement, and still in shock that I had actually released my baby into the world.

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Now, with two books published and a third planned for next year, I feel more confidant as a self published author.

On the anniversary of Visions of Zarua’s Ebook publication, I’ve enjoyed reading through the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to appreciate how well received it has been by the public. I thought I’d share the latest stats with you, before announcing my two giveaways…

Goodreads: Visions of Zarua has an average rating of 4.32 stars with 28 ratings and 16 reviews. It’s currently on the bookshelves of over 1520 people.

Amazon UK has 19 reviews and an average of 4.5 star rating.

Amazon US is a bit behind with 12 reviews and a 4.3 star ratings.

And now here’s the link to enter my Goodreads giveaway. It’s open worldwide, so why not have a go.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson

Visions of Zarua

by Suzanne Rogerson

Giveaway ends November 24, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

 

I’m also giving away an Ebook on my blog! All you have to do is comment on this post and I’ll pick a random winner on 24th November, the same day the paperback giveaway ends. If you’ve already read it, you can still comment and nominate a friend to receive an early Christmas present!

I’d love you to retweet and share this post with as many people as possible too, but it’s not a requirement for entry.

You can find out more about Visions of Zarua – A standalone epic fantasy, by following the links below (don’t forget it’s also available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited);

Amazon UK  and  Amazon US.

And if you have read Visions and would like to leave a review, I would love to read your thoughts. I’m still hoping to break the 20 review barrier by Christmas, so it would be great if you could help me out.

I’ll end with my favourite photo quote from the blog tour last year…

cathy - pyre picture quote