Book News! Visions of Zarua is being published in Czech #fantasy #epicfantasy

Those who follow my blog may remember a while ago I mentioned I’d been contacted by a publisher about a Czech translation of my debut novel, Visions of Zarua.

Well last week I received the signed contract so I can finally announce the deal is official!

I do not have a publication date as yet but I’m so happy to share this news and to say I will soon be a traditionally published author! That is a dream come true, even if it has come about in a totally unexpected way.

Visions of Zarua Book Cover

I am so proud of this book and can’t wait to see what it looks like in Czech!

For those of you unfamiliar with the book here’s the 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?
Goodreads book link

 

Why not see what others have been saying on Amazon via universal book link.

I am currently approaching agents with this book and would really love to get some more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, or to be featured on your book blogs. If you are willing to post an honest review in exchange for a free copy, please get in touch using my contact form. Alternatively, Visions of Zarua is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited where members can read it for free.

I hope to have more news to share soon, but for now thanks for reading.

#Tuesdaybookblog Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford #bookreview

My Mini Review

Time Travelling with a Hamster is just as good as the title suggests. It’s fun, action packed and comes highly recommended by my 11-year-old daughter!

Time travel is something I’ve always struggled to get my head around – the flaws in any possible method and the repercussions of what you change in the past altering the future. This book deals with all aspects of time travel perfectly. Despite being aimed at the middle-grade audience, anyone can enjoy the book and I recommend it with almost as much enthusiasm as my daughter.

Al is a great protagonist, one I’m sure all children will be able to relate to. He does act rash, speak without thinking and get himself in difficult situations, but he learns from his mistakes and becomes a better person for them. Another standout character in the book is Al’s Grandfather, Byron.

The book deals with serious issues like loss and the difficulties encountered with a new step family. These issues are well handled, but I did not like the idea of a twelve-year-old sneaking out the house at midnight and stealing a moped etc. Still, if taken in fun, this is a true adventure story and I’m sure every child will enjoy it.

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I love the teaser line ‘My dad died twice. But only the second time was my fault.’ Who could resist reading on to find out more.

I rated this book 4.5 stars.

My daughter gave it a whole-hearted 5 stars. She asked me what could have been done differently to warrant 5 stars from me. I’m not really sure, I suppose it’s the little niggles as a parent that have held me back. Maybe you should read the book and let me know what you think.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads

“My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine and again four years later when he was twelve. The first time had nothing to do with me. The second time definitely did, but I would never even have been there if it hadn’t been for his ‘time machine’…”

When Al Chaudhury discovers his late dad’s time machine, he finds that going back to the 1980s requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, burglary, and setting his school on fire. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer…

Goodreads book link

#Mondayblogs My thoughts – Getting Published Day workshop #indieauthor

Last month I went to a Getting Published seminar. It was right at the time of the bad snow hitting the UK, but thankfully it went ahead and the trains were running. Not everyone made it through the snow, but the room still seemed packed with writers eager to learn the secrets of submitting to agents. Would this be the big breakthrough I’d been hoping for?

I went to the event with the knowledge that my two self published books were being well received, in some cases loved, by book bloggers and reviewers (although sales haven’t been good whilst I focused on writing rather than marketing). I also had the added bonus that my first book, Visions of Zarua, was being considered by Czech publishers as a Czech translation. (Cover issues have held up the contract signing, but I’m hopeful it can go ahead very soon.)

The Getting Published day didn’t go exactly as I’d hoped, but I did learn a lot and it reinforced the knowledge I’ve gained over the years from workshops, magazines and articles online. Let’s start with the positives of the day.

 

How to submit to an agent – Some top tips

Be professional

Focus on one book in your letter

Get the agents name right

Intrigue them with a great pitch

Try and get a connection with the agent to mention in the letter.

Focus only on agents in your genre.

 

What I learnt about Agents

Agents are just people

Agents want the same as writers – to get great books published

Of the 450 agents in the UK, not many specialise in fantasy.

They are busy professionals and they appreciate a professional approach.

They give up there free time reading through the slush pile

It can be good to go with a new agent who is building their list, rather than experienced agents who have full lists and only take on new authors occasionally.

 

Other interesting facts you might want to know

Agents and publishers don’t care about your social media presence unless you have masses of followers or it is relevant to the book you are submitting.

Agents don’t care about your self published books unless they have sold 100k copies.

If you submit a self published book, agents don’t know what to do with them. They want new material.

 

Finally, what I learnt about me

I’m crap at mingling and talking to new people, though I’m ok if it is one to one i.e. chatting with the person sitting next to me.

I want to succeed enough to ask questions in front of a room full of people, even though it makes me feel sick.

I want this enough to keep going to these workshops.

There are lots of nice people out there, sometimes you have to be brave enough to make the first contact.

 

Conclusion

These events are worth the money and the time, even if you are shy like me. If you are willing to make the effort you can make connections with other writers in the same position as you. If you are really lucky, you might just be able to chat with an agent who represents your genre.

I can’t help but feel writing fantasy and being a self published author puts me at a double disadvantage in the publishing world. But it’s what I love and I won’t change my dreams to try to write to the market. Instead, I will keep plugging away and enjoy the freedom of self publishing, whilst I wait to find the right agent who believes in my writing as much as I do.

Have you any experience of writing or publishing workshops? Have you any advice or tips to share? I’d love to hear from you.

Spring Update #amwriting #amreading

With Spring here at last, I thought it would be the perfect time for another writing and reading update.

March has been an interesting month for weather in my part of the UK. I’ve tried not to let it interfere with my writing schedule and luckily the kids only had one snow day off school. I’ve been busy polishing The Sentinel’s Reign book 2 in the Silent Sea Chronicles after beta reader feedback, and have booked an April slot with my editor for a proof read / edit. The book is currently with my second wave of beta readers who hopefully won’t find too much wrong (fingers crossed).

I can’t wait to do a cover reveal for The Sentinel’s Reign and announce the pre-order date, but I’m wary of doing this until my editor has cast her professional eye over the manuscript. So for now all I can say is watch this space…

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At the beginning of March I attended a Getting Published Workshop, which was informative but didn’t quite go the way I’d hoped. I will share my thoughts about the day and what I gained from it later in the week.

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As I revealed a couple of weeks ago, I’m still in talks with a publisher regarding the Czech translation of Visions of Zarua. I’ll be sure to spread the word and break out the champagne when the contracts are signed.

I’ve decided to re-read Visions of Zarua. This seems like a mad thing to do because the publishers were obviously happy with the story and I’m bound to want to change minor details that don’t really impact on the reading experience. It’s just the editor in me screaming to be heard. The question is do I give in to the nagging voice, or try to read the book for pleasure as I would any other book. Is that even possible?

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I have been contacting book reviewers in the hopes of building some interest in The Lost Sentinel, which has suffered with lack of marketing whilst I worked on book 2. I really want to start showing the book some love and attention. If you would like to read and review The Lost Sentinel, please contact me.  As always, here’s the universal book link to see what you think on Amazon, or check the dedicated page above.

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Plans for the weeks ahead;

I’m looking forward to continuing work on The Sentinel’s Alliance (Bk 3), which I started during Nanowrimo last year. Skim reading through the draft has filled me with excitement and I can’t wait to lose myself in the story and see what happens next!

I will be submitting Visions of Zarua to agents on my short list, using the knowledge I learnt from the Getting Published day (again I’ll share my views with you in a day or so). I would love to get some more reviews for Visions as well, any takers?

Now, on to what I’ve read…

book cover 111 tips book review

See my review here

Time Travelling with a Hamster – review to follow. It was a fun read, and even though a children’s book, the time travel concept held up perfectly. This was originally recommended to me by my daughter, who devoured the story in a few days.

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(I’ve also read The Lost Sentinel and The Sentinel’s Reign though obviously won’t be reviewing my own books.)

What I am reading.

As mentioned I’m re-reading Visions of Zarua.

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I’m also reading

 

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This is the last book in the trilogy and is filled with action that’s keeping me up far too late at night.

I’ve agreed to read very soon…

The Sand Scuttler by Rosalyn Kelly (Early ARC so no cover to share as yet) and Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree.

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And I have another two trilogies I am desperate to finish The Crown of Stones – Magic-borne by C.L.Schneider and Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan.

That should keep me going for a while.

Have you any writing or reading goals for the spring?

Until next time…

#Bookreview 111 Tips to get FREE Book Reviews by Doris-Maria Heilmann

My review of 111 Tips to get FREE book reviews

book cover 111 tips book review

The Blurb

111 Tips to Get FREE Book Reviews provides authors with more than 1,200 direct links to book bloggers and reviewers – clickable links to each website! This valuable guide book by Doris-Maria Heilmann provides authors on almost 200 pages with all aspects of finding, following, and networking with reviewers and influential bloggers. Many important steps, such as researching 111 Tips to Get FREE Book Reviews provides authors with more than 1,200 direct links to book bloggers and reviewers – clickable links to each website! This valuable guide book by Doris-Maria Heilmann provides authors on almost 200 pages with all aspects of finding, following, and networking with reviewers and influential bloggers. Many important steps, such as researching which genre book reviewers prefer and how to connect with them, or how to get media reviews will help you successfully market your books. How to prepare professional ARC’s (advance review copies) in order to get reviews before your book’s launch, is described in detail. Dozens of other valuable insider information, such as how to get endorsements for a nonfiction book, how to leverage your reviews, how to deal with negative book reviews, why join reader communities and plan book blog tours – including tips from bestselling authors and the publishing industry will help you to get lots of free book reviews. Goodreads book link

My Review

Today I would like to share my review of a very helpful book by Doris-Maria Heilmann. First of all I would like to warn you that this book is big and time-consuming – in a good way!

It has well over 1000 clickable links to book reviewer websites and it is strangely addictive clicking through to find reviewers that might be interested in your book / genre. As this was published in 2016 not all the sites are active, and some are closed to new review requests. But still it is a brilliant resource if you have the time to wade through every link.

There are also links to audiobook reviewers and non-fiction reviewers.

Scattered through the pages of links are plenty of informative articles. This format works very well. Here is a list of a few of the helpful subjects covered; Importance of the last pages, virtual blog tours, planning your pitch to bloggers, ARC’s, paid reviews, editorial reviews, and many more.

One criticism – The book could do with updating to get rid of some of the reviewers who are no longer active, but I understand this is something that is constantly changing and you can never be on top of every active link.

I recommend this book to people starting out on their author journey as you can learn a lot. And others, like me, who have been published a couple of years can still benefit from the knowledge in this book.

Note – I was sent a free copy of this book during a Christmas 2017 deal. I purchased a book in the series and was able to request 2 further books from the author for free.  So look out for more reviews in the future.

#IndieMarch Day 4: Share your favourite Indie book cover #indieauthor

It’s day 4 of Rebecca Howie’s #Indiemarch tag. Today the prompt is share your favourite Indie author book cover. For me this is an easy one. I’ve loved the Crown of Stone’s books by C. L. Schneider ever since I spotted this cover. It is brilliant.

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The book is excellent. So is book 2 for cover and content!

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I can’t wait to read book 3 this year and finish the trilogy.

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Don’t forget to join Rebecca Howie‘s #IndieMarch tag. See the prompts below. You can take part on your blog or Instagram.

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#indiemarch Day 3: Share some #indie reads #indieauthor

Well I made it back from a full-on day of talks in London. Now I have just enough time to share some indie authors on my TBR list before I settle down with a glass of wine and catch up on The Voice.

These next books are by indie authors that I have had the pleasure of reading.

Reviews of the above books can be found on my blog (apart from Fantasy Map Making which I have yet to write a review for).

Please check out these great indie authors. And don’t forget to follow the #indiemarch tag with Rebecca Howie.

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#Indiemarch Day 2: My 1st published novel #indieauthor #fantasy

‘Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past?’

After a lot of indecision, I finally published my first novel, Visions of Zarua, in Nov 2015. It’s a standalone, epic fantasy that has gained 30 ratings on Goodreads, 19 reviews on Amazon UK and 12 on Amazon US.

Visions of Zarua Book Cover

Self publishing was the realisation of a dream for me. Holding my novel in paperback gave me such a sense of achievement. I’ve been overwhelmed with the wonderful reviews and the support of the blogging community over these last two and a bit years. So much so that I jumped in and did it all again in June 2017 and have plans to publish my third book in 2018.

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I have some amazing news that I’ve been desperate to share with everyone about Visions of Zarua. Nothing has been finalised yet, but I decided as it’s #indiemarch and the prompt is to talk about your first book, that it was the perfect time to reveal what’s been going on. A few months ago I was approached by a Czech publisher who wants to publish the Czech translation of Visions of Zarua.

Once some cover issues have been sorted out, I hope to sign the contract and then maybe work can start on the translation. When I know more, I will be sure to share it. For now I’ll leave you with the blurb and a brief excerpt.

Blurb

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 are interested in finding out more about Visions of Zarua, here’s the universal amazon link.

Thanks to Rebecca Howie for creating the #indiemarch tag. Check out her site here.

If you want to join in, here’s the list of daily prompts.

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(I hope to join in tomorrow, but I’ll be braving the snow and heading into London for a Getting Published Day. I will catch up on Sunday if I miss out.)

 

#Indiemarch Day 1: Photo of your book babies #indieauthor #indie

Thanks to Rebecca, on Rebeccahowiebooks  for coming up with this #indiemarch tag idea for the month of march.

Here’s my offering for day 1

 

 

You can join in on your blog or on Instagram. Here’s the list of the daily prompts.

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Copy your link onto Rebecca’s post here.

Come on, let’s ignore the snow and support our fellow indie authors.

10 Tips for re-reading your novel after publication #indieauthor #amediting

A few weeks ago I re-read The Lost Sentinel (Book One in the Silent Sea Chronicles). I loved the experience of reading my own book in paperback, and I had the brilliant idea to use post-it notes to highlight things as I went along. These may have been facts I wanted to check in book 2, reminders for planning book 3 and the prequel, spelling or grammar niggles, places where the Astral Plane was mentioned etc.

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I loved the blue post-its matching the cover, but I soon discovered the disadvantages of this method. I didn’t write on every note exactly what I was supposed to be checking. Going through it afterwards, not all the highlights made sense and I couldn’t find any problems with the text. Having suffered this problem, I thought it would be a good idea to share my top tips…

10 TIPS FOR RE-READING YOUR WORK AFTER PUBLICATION

  1. First decide why you are re-reading and what you want to get out of the experience.
  2. Don’t be scared! If, like me, your book has been read and reviewed you have those reviews to fall back on. Perhaps they have flagged up issues you need to address, or maybe you can just read them as a confidence boost.
  3. You have to let go when you re-read. So you’re suddenly not happy with the placement of a comma, or you think a sentence could be rewritten a little better. Ask yourself is it really that big a deal? I’m never satisfied with my writing, so I decided that I had to overlook some of the little niggles or I’d end up rewriting the whole thing! I did make a couple of changes, but this wasn’t an exercise in making The Lost Sentinel better, I wanted to read the sequel straight after to ensure the books worked as a series. (Thankfully they do.)
  4. Have a notebook handy to jot down any facts that need to be checked, or issues to work through.
  5. Post-it notes are great as they allow you to mark a section you have an issue with and let you get on with reading without breaking the flow. BUT make a note of the point you’re highlighting! It saves time later on.
  6. Colour coding the post-its is a quick and easy shortcut. I went back and did this afterwards. I used different colours to represent book 2, 3 and the prequel. A different colour for the scenes that featured the Astral Plane, and finally any changes that needed working through were transcribed into my notebook to work through later.
  7. Be prepared to love and hate your own writing. I had ups and downs re-reading The Lost Sentinel. When I was feeling down, I looked back over those reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s always good to be reminded that others have enjoyed the book and loved your characters.
  8. Don’t forget to celebrate your achievement. Publishing a book is amazing. Enjoy holding it, reading it and savour the whole experience.
  9. Once the re-read is done you have to decide what changes are really necessary. Then you’ll need to update the e-book and paperback files before re-submitting them to your chosen platforms, in my case Amazon and Createspace.
  10. Finally, double-check everything you’ve changed is correct once it has been published. It’s worth taking your time and making sure the book is the best you can make it. Then hopefully future re-reads won’t result in more changes.

 

I will probably go through the above process when I’ve finished writing book 3, and for any future books in the Silent Sea Chronicles. Hopefully next time around it will go more smoothly. And I hope you can take something helpful from this as well.

Have you any tips to share when re-reading your published work?

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Silent Sea Chronicles is a heroic fantasy series set on the magical island of Kalaya.

Book 1 – The Lost Sentinel is available now at Amazon.

Book 2 – The Sentinel’s Reign will soon be sent off to my second wave of Beta readers. And then after a final edit and proof read, I will hopefully be ready to publish by May. Closer to the date I will have a cover reveal – I can’t wait to share the amazing cover with you.

Thanks for reading. I hope you will continue you follow my journey as an indie author.