My #SPFBO book buys during November 2018 promo #fantasy #tbr #amreading

I thought I would do a quick post on the books I bought during November’s SPFBO promo. I’m excited to add these to my Goodreads TBR, but I won’t state when I’ll read them as I still haven’t read the books I purchased during the previous sale. My TBR pile keeps growing and has reached 410. That is one of the reasons I only bought 8 books this time around, the other is I’ve spent all my money on ads. Anyway here they are…

Between the Shade and the Shadow – Coleman Alexander

Phoenix Descending – Dorothy Dreyer

The Dragon Song Saga – J C Lang

Sorcerous Rivalry – Kayleigh Nichol

A Keeper’s Tale – J A Andrews

Song – Jesse Teller

The Fire Eye Refugee – Samuel Gateley

Balam Springs – Travis M Riddle

I’m really excited by this collection. I tried to be guided by the blurbs and the covers rather than be influenced by reviews or what I’ve heard through the SPFBO pages. A couple of these I’ve had my eye on for a while so I was really pleased to find them in the sale and be able to support my fellow indie authors.

I can’t promise when I’ll read them, but I will review them on my blog, Amazon and Goodreads eventually.

I think I may have sold a couple of copies of my own 2016 SPFBO entry – Visions of Zarua but with the birthday blitz and a couple of ads running at the same time, its hard to know what sparked the purchases.

What did you pick up during the sale?

Did you pick up any of the books above? Or have you already read them?

Last reminder to pick up 99p bargain #fantasy books by #SPFBO #indieauthors #IARTG

Reminder

Today is the last day of the sale for 100 (ish) fantasy books from authors who have taken part in Mark Lawrence’s brilliant Self Published Fantasy Blog off competition.

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Travis Riddle has kindly set up a page with book covers, blurbs and to buy links of all the books taking part. Please take a look here and see what you fancy. My book, Visions of Zarua is on the list too!

I’ve been picking up a few bargain books myself and will share those buys and why I chose them tomorrow. For now, take advantage of the sale and help support us indie authors. Thanks very much.

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Happy Birthday! Visions of Zarua is 3 today! #epicfantasy #fantasy

I can’t believe I’ve been a published author for 3 years!

Today is a big day for Visions of Zarua too and I’m celebrating in style with a massive book birthday blitz. I must say a big thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising it all.

VOZ blitz

Today there will be reviews, guest posts, Q&A’s, extracts, promos and a giveaway to win 3 signed paperback copies. There is a special page of links here for all the blogs taking part. I will be visiting these blogs and sharing their posts throughout the day, so keep a look out and share where ever you can.

Visions of Zarua is also on sale for 99p worldwide universal link.

And you can try you luck with the Rafflecopter Giveaway here.

I will run a follow up post with links to all the posts tomorrow, but for now I would like to thank everyone involved.

From 15th – 19th many #SPFBO fantasy authors are reducing their books to 99p

Who is up for some bargain books?

spfbo sale banner nov 2018

Check out the Promo page with links to all the books in the 99p sale. The fantasy books on offer span all areas of the genre including dark and urban. The authors taking part have been entrants in Mark Lawrence’s ‘Self Published Fantasy Blog Off’ competition which is now in its 4th year.

A big thank you to Travis M Riddle for organising the giveaway and hosting the promo page.

You will find my debut epic fantasy Visions of Zarua among the books on sale. It was a SPFBO entrant in 2016 and is celebrating its 3rd birthday tomorrow! I will be back then for a special birthday blitz. But while you’re waiting, why not check out all the brilliant books that are on sale today.

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Please share and spread the word about this epic sale!

 

My reading plan for 2018 #amreading #fantasy #ya #thriller

This year has been busy in various ways and I have not read as much as I would’ve liked. My Goodreads challenge was 35 books and so far I have only read 29. I thought making a list for the rest of the year would help me get back on track.

So here goes.

Currently reading – Magic Study by Maria V Snyder. As with the first book I find the writing totally addictive and if I read nothing else but these books this year I would be happy.

magic study

ARC – Not Like Everyone Else by Jennifer Leigh. This is a YA thriller I’ve been interested in since following Jenn’s blog and I am going to read this before 2018 ends.

 

not like everyone else

Self Published Fantasy Blog Off books – I bought lots of SPFBO books in the last SPFBO sale which I have yet to read. Here’s my post about the bargains I picked up. Now there is another sale 15th to 19th November so I will be getting even more books to add to my TBR list which already has 400 books! I really hope to read at least another one off this list and perhaps I may even share a surprise review from my husband who is currently reading one of SPFBO books – surprise because he has no idea I’ve mentioned this!

My Xmas Read – For the last three years I have read the latest Great Library book by Rachel Caine. This year I will be reading Smoke and Iron – book 4. My son started the series a few weeks ago and has already started the 4th book. I had planned to give it to myself as a Christmas present, but he begged to read it first!

smoke and iron

Audio book – Still listening to Gilded Cage by Vic James which has been enjoyable so far. I like the voice of the narrator and she has brought the story to life for me. It does seem a bit slow, but I’m happy to stick at it.

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Book Group Read – Sweet Dreams by Tricia Sullivan

This one sounds intriguing!

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Books I’ve Won – I have been lucky enough to win two books recently and I can’t wait to read them.  City of Lies by Sam Hawke and Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce. I would love to read and review these before the end of 2018.

So these books will take me to my Goodreads target of 35 books, but life and writing does have a habit of getting in the way. Fingers crossed I find some uninterrupted reading time!

 

Review of Gollancz Writers’ Day and tips to enjoy a writing conference #SFF #fantasy #writerstips

I had a wonderful time at the Gollancz Writers’ Day last week. There were 32 aspiring authors attending, all of us writers of fantasy, sci-fi and horror. I chatted to some lovely people and swapped details with a couple of them. I’d like to have done more mingling, but I’m still very shy and find it hard to put myself out there. Now that I’ve done this though, I’m hoping to go to more events tailored to my genre and will try harder to make connections with other writers.

A brief overview of the day

We met the editors and learnt about the life of a book, from the moment an editor loves your book (and they have to love it to take it on), through the acquisition meetings and all the editing stages involved. A few other areas they discussed were titles, book covers, royalties and rights, and audio books.

I was really surprised to learn Gollancz try to have a book ready a year before its publication date. I was also surprised how much time an editor will invest in the book before the copy editor and then the proofreader get their hands on it. It sounds like an exhausting process, but all with the aim of making the book come alive to the reader.

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We then met the sales, marketing and publicity team and learnt a great deal about their processes including how they reach readers and gain reviews. This was really interesting for me as a self-published author to compare with my own attempts at marketing.

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After lunch we met two lovely Gollancz authors, Pat Cadigan and Adam Roberts. Their talks from an author’s perspective were both informative and entertaining. I was also able to chat to them during the coffee break and at the pitching event at the end of the day. Both were friendly and had some great stories and knowledge to share.

Note – Right at the end of the day, our small group were with Pat Cadigan. She talked about making it as a writer and sticking at it. She said something that will stay with me, ‘…I don’t know of any author who hasn’t made it in the end…’ That gives me hope!

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Finally, top agent Juliet Mushens gave a presentation on submitting to agents and then held a Q&A session. I made plenty of notes to refer to later and it was very insightful to learn how she deals with submissions from that first contact to negotiating the deal with the publishing house. It was also daunting to hear she receives around 500 submissions per month.

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After a short break, we split into small groups. Each group had 15 minutes with either Juliet Mushens, one of the Gollancz team or the writers mentioned, to take turns practicing our pitches. There was also an unexpected appearance from Ben Aaronovitch – author of Rivers of London who gave our group some personal tips on the life of an author on tour.

After 15 minutes, each group moved along to the next professional to pitch to. Imagine speed dating and you’ll get how it went.

This pitch session was my most anticipated part of the whole day and I jumped at the opportunity to pitch to Juliet Mushens who has been an agent on my ‘wish’ list since 2013 when I first looked into the possibility of finding an agent. I also managed to pitch to Marcus Gipps the Editorial Director of Gollancz. Both seemed impressed by my pitch for Visions of Zarua and gave me some great pointers to improve it. That kind of experience is priceless and I hope to put what I’ve learnt into practice very soon.

 

Conclusion

The people at Gollancz were warm and friendly. The writers’ day has demystify the agent and publishing industry, and I can now appreciate how incredibly hard it is for a debut author to get published. I won’t give up on the dream though, because it’s got to happen to someone.

I highly recommend all writers take the opportunity to attend a day like this, especially if it’s specific to your genre. Although I was nervous leading up to it, I would jump at the chance to do it again!

One other thing I wanted to mention – I may have been the only one to have self-published in this group of aspiring authors, I don’t know as no one I talked to mentioned it, but I wasn’t made to feel inferior as I have done at other conferences. The people were all supportive of each other, no matter what stage anyone was at in their writing careers. I’m proud to have self-published and to have realised my dream on my own terms, and I would recommend it to other authors if you have the time and money to invest in your book, but there’s no denying it’s hard work. I can see the many benefits of having the backing of an agent and a publisher behind you, and how if you were an author for Gollancz you might feel like you were joining an extended family.

Having the Czech publishing deal for Visions of Zarua and attending the Gollancz Writers’ Day has inspired me to start subbing again.

It was also really interesting listening to the panel talk about the acquisition meetings and how many stages a book must go through before it’s accepted by a publisher. It gave me a warm glow to realise that Visions of Zarua has gone through that process at Fragment / Albatros Media. Just yesterday I saw the cover proof for the hardback edition and it is amazing – very close to the image I had in mind before I found my own cover back in 2015 – I still love my version too!

 

My tips for a successful day at a writing conference

Arrive early – It take away the stress of bursting in late when you’re hot and sweaty and panting like you’ve run a marathon. It gives you a chance to settle your nerves and meet the others who also managed to get there early. Plus it’s so much less daunting than being the last to arrive and everyone else already appears to have made friends.

Sit at the front – Don’t be shy. It’s good to make eye contact with the speakers and you can hear everything being said. Plus it feels easier to ask questions when you don’t have to shout to the other end of the room.

Come prepared with a list of questions – You may or may not ask them, but it’s better to be prepared with something. And though you may be filled with nerves, it gets easier each time you force your hand up and step outside your comfort zone.

Make notes – You’ll never remember everything that’s said, and it’s great to go back over the day and remember those little nuggets of info you’ve scribbled down.

Mingle and make connections with the attendees – Some great advice we received was to remember that the SFF crowd is a small community and that we may well keep bumping into the same people at these events. They suggested making friends now and growing together, supporting each other. That’s such an important part of developing as an author and I feel more confident about doing this now.

Speak to the speakers – From the audience you may see the speakers as confident professionals and feel awed by them, thinking you could never be in that position. But if you get the chance to speak with them during a break or at the end, it can really help you see them as normal people and help your own confidence levels. I loved the opportunity to speak with published authors, to know that maybe none of us are really that different.

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I hope I’ve inspired you to try out a writing or publishing event and if you were at the Gollancz Writers’ day please contact me and say hello.

If you know of any SFF events in the UK please share them in the comments. I’d love to get a list together and try to attend some.

I’ll start with this;

The British Fantasy Society have just announced their BFS London Social on 7th December at Central Station Pub. Here’s a link to the BFS website.

And

Gollancz have promised to bring back Gollancz Fest in 2019 (something I’ve heard of but never attended). I am making a promise to myself and to you that I will attend in 2019. Who knows, maybe I will meet you there.

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#Tuesdaybookblog #bookreview The Game Bird by Aidan R Walsh #fantasy

I found The Game Bird during SPFBO 2018 promo sale. The cover initially attracted my attention.

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The blurb from Amazon;

An evil is growing. The Realm is under attack. A leviathan has risen from the depths and is destroying the fleets that feed Stormhaven.

Stuck ashore and drowning in debt, Captain James Faulkner resolves to hunt the sea monster and claim the enormous bounty on the beast.

Sophia Blake’s life looks effortless. But she carries a secret, an occult curse that is capable of destroying both her and her nation. Sophia knows her time is running out.

The Tallowman is a slowly decaying melding of demon and man. This monstrous assassin is desperate to capture Sophia and will let nothing stand between it and its prey.

Since his wife died, the sober lawyer Uriah Blake has wanted nothing more than to live a quiet life and enjoy what time he has left with his daughter, Sophia. When he learns that the Tallowman is pursuing her, he is forced to cast aside his books and his ink and join a shadowy war against a terrible foe.

As these hunts build to their shattering conclusion, Faulkner, Sophia and Uriah will be thrown together and forced to confront malevolent forces beyond their imagining.

The Game Bird is a swashbuckling black powder fantasy, wrapped around a spine of darkness.
Goodreads link

My Review

The story starts with immediate action and thrusts you straight into Captain Faulker’s life as he attempts to escape bailiffs. Stormhaven comes alive as a place I wouldn’t particularly like to live and I enjoyed the adventure right from the first page. The scenes on the ships are especially well written.

The ‘swashbuckling black powder fantasy’ was quite a new and unique reading experience. I got swept along with the tale and liked all the characters especially James Faulkner and Sophia. The mention of their childhood lives together and hints of a possible romance were a big plus for me. There are also creatures of legend – a leviathan and pegasus to add plenty of excitement.

I have to mention the Tallowman who is evil and gruesome, everything you want from an antagonist. I admit that I love an assassin story, but the Tallowman is genuinely terrifying.

I’m really pleased the self published fantasy blog off led me to this story, and I hope it goes far in the competition.

I rate The Game Bird 4 stars and urge you to read it.

Visions of Zarua – #Audiobook in the pipeline – #narrators wanted #fantasy

I have toyed with the idea of an audiobook for a few years now, but I was always put off by the length of my book and the cost that would mean for the customer. But now I see many of my fellow indie authors going for it I’ve finally decided to try it out for myself.

I’ve registered Visions of Zarua with ACX and it’s ready for narrators to audition. Now comes the difficult part – getting in touch with narrators. I’ve spent a few fun hours listening to voice samples and I have found a couple I really like. I plan to approach them soon, but it is impossible to know what kind of voice will work for a novel with three male viewpoints and one female.

I suppose I will know the voice when I hear it, the same as I knew this cover was the one the moment I saw it.

Visions of Zarua book cover

If you are interested in auditioning here’s the ACX link to see Visions of Zarua’s audition request page. I’d love to hear from you and see how you plan to bring the book to life.

Advice wanted – If you have produced an audiobook, or are an author whose book has been narrated, maybe you could share some of your knowledge and tips?

I will do a follow up post in the future on my experience with audiobooks.

For now I shall leave you with the blurb and Amazon / Goodreads links of you want to find out more about Visions of Zarua.

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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 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 and save the Paltrian people before the dark menace of Zarua’s past is unleashed?

Amazon

Goodreads

WEBSITE BANNER

Silent Sea Chronicles worldwide #Booksale ends 15th October #fantasy #epicfantasy #99p #99c

Happy weekend everyone. I would just like to let you know that my book sale is coming to an end. But if you’re quick you can pick up both books in this heroic fantasy series for just 99p each. The sale is worldwide so everyone can grab a bargain book.

The Lost Sentinel – Book 1.

The Sentinel’s Reign – Book 2.

two book covers

‘If you’re a loving fantasy fan seeking a tale filled with adventure and magic then you should really give this series a try’ – Pooled Ink Reviews

The Lost Sentinel – ‘Overall this is an amazing and gripping fantasy read. It’s a long book but filled with a lot of great action and a perfect fantasy setting ( there are no fantasy type creatures just humans). The world of Kalaya is rich and dark and I’m amazed at how sucked into the action I was reading this, and how unpredictable and dark the storyline is. The ending is a satisfying one but the story is far from over, it’s only beginning and sets up questions for the next book in the series and I can’t wait to read it!’ – Strawberry

The Lost Sentinel ‘…this story bowled me over, it was an absolutely outstanding epic fantasy and the kind of writing fantasy authors should be aspiring to. The only negative I have is that I’m dreading the wait for book two.’BrizzleLass

The Sentinel’s Reign ‘A super paced story, plenty going off and an ending that makes me hungry for the last instalment. This is a cracking epic saga.’ Susan Hampson Books from Dusk Till Dawn.

‘There is a 3rd book planned for this series so don’t despair if you get to the end and want more. Even if you don’t like fantasy books usually you will like this series, so don’t delay, get your copy today!’ – Alinefromabook

Why don’t you give the series a go and make this authors day. See further reviews on Goodreads.

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#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview Poison Study by Maria V Snyder #YAFantasy

Poison Study is a brilliant, compelling read. Here’s the blurb…

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

poison study

My Review

This was my book groups choice and I am so, so happy they chose it!

It is such a compelling book. I took it on holiday and I just couldn’t stop reading it. The beauty of reading an old paperback copy is that you can take it everywhere with you and sneak in a few pages when no one is looking! I had some very late nights with this book as well, and it’s one of those that if you had the next book handy, there’s no way you could resist picking it up and diving straight into the next adventure. I have now brought the next two books – Magic Study and Fire Study and I’m itching to find the time to read them. I have another holiday coming up so I might have to sneak them in the suitcase.

Why I loved this YA Fantasy.

In one word – Yelena. She is a brilliant character to follow and I liked her instantly. The first person viewpoint helps you build a bond with her and her story. At the start she is in prison for a murder that she never denies committing, but you have no idea of the details surrounding it. That’s just a small part of the intrigue that keeps you reading. On the day of her planned execution she is given the chance to escape death by becoming the Commander’s food taster. Of course she accepts but quickly realises this isn’t to be an easy life. Her master, Valek, turns out to be a harsh and sometime cruel master – but he really grows on you. Both Valek and Yelena are my favourite characters and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 2.

I loved the little details in this book, in particular the lessons on poison tasting. I’m informed this is all well researched and that really comes across. I would have liked more focus on this aspect in the plot, just because I love herbs, potions and assassins, but it was still a highly addictive read. Every chapter forced you to read the next. It is a masterclass for authors on how to craft a pager-turner.

There are some darker elements to the story that as adults you will pick up on, but I hope younger YA readers just take what’s on the page and not think too deeply about what’s happened. I am looking forward to my (nearly) 14-year-old son reading these books and I think in a couple of years my daughter will love them too. It is certainly a book I wish I had discovered in my teens, and I don’t say that about many books.

Highly recommended – 5 very big fat stars from me!

Have you read it?

Here’s the Goodreads link if my review has enticed you to find out more. With almost 120K ratings, 10k reviews and an overall star rating of 4.15, you can see this books has been loved by many people!