#Weekendwanderings – Bushy Park, Surrey #photos #britishwildlife

Over the summer we visited Bushy Park in Surrey and had the pleasure of meeting a couple of very friendly squirrels and their jackdaw pals. One cheeky squirrel actually took food from my hand and almost climbed onto my daughter’s lap.

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Over the years we’ve visited Bushy Park dozens of times, in all seasons. I have wonderful memories of family picnics and stalking wildlife with my camera. Today is more of a wander through my photo archive. I could fill this post with hundreds of pics of landscapes and flora and fauna, but instead I’ve picked a couple of my favourite wildlife shots (even if the quality is not perfect).

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And lastly, when I was certain the kids would join me in my love of photography…

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my wildlife photos. Look out for more pictures in the future, where I hope to focus more on the seasons at Bushy Park.

Next week I may return to another favourite pastime of mine, visiting old castles. Ludlow Castle here we come…

 

 

#Bookreview The Apothecary’s Daughter by Charlotte Betts #historical #romance

A brief review of The Apothecary’s Daughter by Charlotte Betts – Historical Romance

Blurb

1665. Susannah Leyton has grown up behind the counter of her father’s apothecary shop in bustling Fleet Street. A skilled student – the resinous scents of lavender, rosemary, liquorice and turpentine run in her blood – her father has granted her the freedom to pursue her considerable talents. But Susannah is dealt a shocking blow when her widowed father marries again, and her new step-mother seems determined to remove her from the apothecary shop for good.

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My review

I bought this book on a whim because I like everything to do with herbs, plants and apothecary. I also have a character in a future book who will be opening her own Apothecary shop, so I was intrigued to find out about The Apothecary’s Daughter and how herb lore was dealt with in 1665 London.

The story is centred around plague ridden London and makes good use of events like the Great Fire of London. There are slavery issues, the great divide between men and women at that time, childbirth complications and so many wonderful little details that helped bring the past to life.

The book was well researched and interesting to read; the historical details were integral to the story and never felt like info dumps. The story flowed along beautifully and I was fully immersed in Susannah’s life. Although I would have enjoyed more focus on apothecary, the details that were included were fascinating.

I will definitely be reading more of Charlotte Betts work and highly recommend this to fans of historical fiction. The romance element is also important, so if you like romance this could also be a story for you.

4.5 stars

#Weekendwanderings Portsmouth Historic Dockyard #ships #history #photos

During the summer we paid a visit to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. It proved to be a fun way to spend a few hours, though it did feel a little strange seeing armed police patrolling what is in effect a museum. I suppose that is just the way things are now.

Anyway, not to dwell on the state of society, the first attraction is HMS Warrior. It’s a beast of a ship and I had no chance of fitting it into one photo.

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I loved exploring the many levels inside HMS Warrior and imagining life on board.

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My favourite was the Captain’s cabin (and I think navigator’s cabin) because I could just imagine Commander Farrell from my Silent Sea Chronicles sitting in his cabin plotting his next mission to capture pirates.

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There is a boathouse where you can watch boats being built and repaired. But my favourite was this floating sail boat.

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The Mary Rose Museum houses the remains of the 16th century Tudor ship lost to the sea in 1545. The ship is stored in a temperature controlled environment, and it’s quite something to wander the levels seeing both the ship and the artefacts recovered from it.

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We managed to time our visit while the HMS Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier was there. This was the closest we managed to get, but the size of it is still very impressive.

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Finally there’s HMS Victory. We didn’t get to go inside this time, so this is the first stop on our next visit.

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It was very busy so we didn’t get to experience everything. The great thing is, your ticket allows for a second visit free of charge. So we will definitely be returning soon and hopefully I’ll get to share some more pictures.

If you get the chance, I would highly recommend a visit to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – but get there early as the parking can be an issue.

Next week, I hope to share a wander around Bushy Park, Surrey and show off it’s friendly squirrels a.

#Tuesdaybookblog A Year and a Day – Isabelle Broom #Bookreview #Romance

This is my first book review for a long time. I’m a bit out of practice, but here goes…

I won a paperback copy of A Year and a Day in a Rafflecopter giveaway run by Brizzlelass. I was instantly drawn to the idea of a book set in Prague as it’s a bucket list destination for me. After reading this, Prague has moved even higher up on my list!

But before I get to what I think, let’s start with the beautiful book cover and the blurb…

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Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she’s determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything – and she won’t let that happen again . . .

For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it’s all her fault . . .

For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can’t stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .

Three different women.

Three intertwining love stories.

One unforgettable, timeless city.


My Review

This is an addictive read. The way each chapter alternates between the three viewpoint characters – Megan, Hope and Sophie, draws you in completely. I spent a few late nights unable to put it down.

The characters are all likeable and each story thread is compelling and believable. It’s great how each character has their own chapter, but are often with or bumping into the others characters once they all meet in Prague. Megan is the main character of the three, and Ollie (her friend / potential love interest) is definitely my favourite character. I connected with Megan the most perhaps because she is obsessed with photography (I also love taking photos), although I found her reasoning a little nuts and infuriating at times.

There are plenty of heart-warming moments in A Year and a Day, and plenty of times when it reduced me to tears.

Prague really comes alive; you can almost feel as if you are there in the freezing, magical city.

I did guess where much of the plot was going, but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of the story, rather it’s good to be proved right.

In all, A Year and a Day is a brilliantly entertaining novel that I recommend to anyone who enjoys romantic fiction. I will be looking out for more books by Isabelle Broom and look forward to escaping into other parts of the world in her stories.

I rate it 4.5 stars (5 on amazon / goodreads).

 

#Weekendwanderings Llama Park – East Sussex #Llama #photos

For my first weekend wander in a long time, I’d like to show off a few photos from our family visit to The Llama Park in East Sussex. It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours in some very beautiful English countryside.

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This Llama is very tame and friendly, and wanders loose around the grounds. There are lots of Llamas and you can even take part in a Llama walk.

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I love the cheeky little Alpacas.

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But my highlight of the day was seeing this peacock admiring his reflection, or perhaps sussing out a rival.

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Feeding time was my daughter’s highlight.

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If you are looking for a few hours of fun with some very friendly animals, check out the Llama Park.

Next week I hope to share some pictures of the historic ships at Portsmouth’s Dockyard.

The Lost Sentinel 99p / 99c #KDP #kindle countdown deal and blog update http://mybook.to/LostSentinel

Hello everyone.

I can’t believe I’ve been away from blogging for the whole summer holidays. The time has flown by while I’ve been busy working on book 2 in the Silent Sea Chronicles and attempting to entice the kids away from their XBox’s with days out and holidays. Now they’re both back at school, it’s time for me to get serious about finishing The Sentinel’s Reign ready for publication in 2018. I also plan to take part in NaNoWriMo this year and beat the 50K word count.

I’m hoping to make a slow return to blogging over the next few weeks with book reviews, photo posts and a guest post from Colleen Story about research and how she approaches it for fiction and non-fiction. I will also be reviewing her new book ‘Overwhelmed Writer Rescue’. It’s a brilliant self-help book and I can’t wait to share my review with you.

In the meantime, I’m really pleased to announce the new kindle countdown deal for The Lost Sentinel has just gone live this morning. You can pick it up at the bargain price of 99p / 99c for the next week Amazon universal link.

I’m hoping to achieve the same success as the previous countdown deal for Visions of Zarua. See my results post from July. This time I’m trying out a few new ad companies. If it goes well (or maybe if it doesn’t) I’ll share the results with you next week. I’m keeping my fingers crossed as The Lost Sentinel is feeling a bit like a neglected child at the moment while I’ve been so busy working on the sequel.

Please pick up a copy in the countdown deal, or read it via kindle unlimited. And as ever, if you would consider leaving a review you’ll make this indie author…

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…this happy!

Enjoy your day.

out now! image kindle and pb

The KDP Countdown deal Results are in! #indie #indieauthor

Well, I’m astounded by what a little advertising can do. These aren’t the massive results others have achieved, but it is the BEST I have ever done, and the best Visions of Zarua has ever done. I’m ecstatic, and my self publishing verve has been restored!

So how did Visions of Zarua do during the 99p / 99c countdown deal?

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The deal ran 20th to 27th July 2017

Day 1 – My efforts consisted of Tweeting, blogging, Facebook, Instagram – the usual suspects.

COST = MY TIME. SALES = 0

Day 2 – BKnights

COST = $11. SALES = 3

Day 3 – My Facebook Ad: Aimed at 15-30 age group male/female in UK and US with interests in reading, fantasy etc. Total of 9 interests.

COST = £6. SALES = 0

Note – I picked this age group as they had shown the most interest in previous ads. There were 1,169 people reached – 16 likes and 1 link click (to Amazon book page). 12 photo quote clicks were recorded – obviously having the photo quote took away from the amazon link click. (A few days later I invited these people to Like my facebook page.)

Day 4 – Bargain Booksy Ad

COST $40. SALES = 24!

Finally making progress, although I haven’t covered my costs. There were 21 sales in the US and 3 in the UK. 

Day 5 – Facebook Ads attempt 2

This time I ran two ads, 1 US and 1 UK. I upped the age range 16-65+ male/female. I reduced interests to 4.

I also used the Amazon book page as the direct link for the Ad, rather than have the universal link in the wording of the ad as before.

US 14 likes, only 2 link clicks (234 people reached)

UK 2 likes, 21 link clicks. (470 people reached) No idea if these resulted in sales.

COST = £8. SALES = 10 (5 UK / 5 US) – Maybe a result of Bargain Booksy and / or facebook ad?

Day 6 – Booksends

COST $35. SALES = 28

Very happy with these figures!

DAY 7 – Bookrunes.

COST = $25. SALES 9.

I was interested to give Bookrunes a shot as they advertise to UK, US, Australia and India. Even though the deal doesn’t run in all those countries, it’s still very much needed exposure.

And guess what,

Day 8 = 3 sales in Australia!

Extra: Amazon Marketing Services

I also ran an AMS ad throughout the whole KDP countdown deal. The results take a few days to finalise, but so far it looks as though it received 1847 impressions, 1 click and 1 sale. That sale cost so far $0.07. I have a profit WOOHOO! However, that’s the worst an AMS ad has ever performed for me. It was a sponsored product ad with 48 keywords, but they would not let me mention anything to do with the sale or price in the ad so that doesn’t help matters. I also still have an ad running for Visions of Zarua all the time, so the two ads will have been very similar.

The deal has ended, but I have my fingers crossed that more sales will trickle in over the next few days / weeks.

Final Thoughts

Over 8 days Visions of Zarua sold 77 copies. 17 UK 57 US and 3 AU.

I may be out of pocket but it doesn’t matter because 77 new people own my book and countless others have seen it! Even though I haven’t hit any bestseller lists, I’m still happy with the results.

In the past I’ve sold in Canada, Germany and been read in India – so I really can say that Visions of Zarua has been read Worldwide. If I hadn’t had the guts to self publish back in 2015, no one would have seen my work, and no doubt I’d be out in the real world right now trying to find a job that fits in with school hours and term times – boring!

Instead, I’m fully pumped and ready to get on with book 2 in the Silent Sea Chronicles so I can start this crazy business all over again.

P.S – Thanks to my blogging friends who gave me words of advice and encouragement when I had a wobble a few weeks back.

P.P.S – I’m still desperate to get some reviews for The Lost Sentinel (and Visions of Zarua). I want to try a repeat experiment with countdown deals for The Lost Sentinel soon, but it only has 4/5 reviews on Amazon and some ad sites require 10+ reviews. Can you help?

If you’ve read either books, please consider reviewing them on Amazon. If you would like a reviewers copy, please get in touch.

Now I’m planning a whole week without the internet – well almost. I’ll still be checking my emails, wordpress comments etc, so please add your thoughts and comments. I love to interact, that’s what makes this whole thing worth the effort.

Thanks for reading!

Visions of Zarua Amazon link

The Lost Sentinel Amazon link

#KDP Countdown deal Visions of Zarua is 99p http://mybook.to/VOZ #fantasy #epicfantasy

Good morning everyone!

Today I wanted to let you know that Visions of Zarua is just 99p during its Kindle Countdown Deal 20th – 27th July. Here’s the link if you’re interested in learning more – Amazon UK / US.

Visions of Zarua is a dual timeline fantasy following the story of two wizards who live 350 years apart.

Paddren is the reluctant hero of present day Paltria, while Jago is a junior wizard who lived 350 years ago when the problems first beset the magical city of Zarua.

Steeped in mystery, with plenty of magic and murder along the way, this is a fast-paced action adventure on an epic scale.

Visions of Zarua is a standalone fantasy with 18 reviews and an average rating of 4.5 on Amazon UK. On Goodreads it has 26 ratings with an average of 4.27.

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I’m excited about the countdown deal this time around as this will be the first time I’ve used any paid Ad services apart from AMS to promote it.

For those Indie authors out there interested in using Ad sites, I’ll blog about the results in the near future. I don’t have high expectations of  making my money back, I’m just hoping for a few downloads and some more exposure of both Visions and The Lost Sentinel.

LEARNT SO FAR: You can’t just set up this kind of advertising on a whim, which of course is exactly what I tried to do. Some sites need you to book a date weeks or even months in advance, and many require a certain number of reviews as well. That’s a great form of quality control, but doesn’t help when you want to promote a newly published book. My advice – get organised in advance!

I have my fingers crossed this next week of promos sees a few sales. I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes about Visions of Zarua from Amazon.

5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and dark fantasy novel that really keeps you gripped from beginning to end!, 27 Jan. 2016       MPB

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend for fantasy, magic and mystery fans!, 27 May 2016       Sarah

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 3-dimensional characters in an epic fantasy, 12 July 2016       Barb Taub

4.0 out of 5 stars A Thoroughly Enjoyable Sword and Sorcery Based Epic Fantasy, 28 Dec. 2016       BrizzleLass

Thanks for reading.