OMG! Where has the time gone??

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last posted on here! Major apologies and much grovelling to my followers for my absence.

There have been some great books released that I’ve read and I know of at least two more that are due out soon. I intend to write some reviews and also post details of the two new releases as they happen.

My work has been rolling along nicely. Lorelian, the first book in my new epic fantasy series, The Seven Doors, is now in editing and is shaping up really well. There’s a good chance it may be released before the end of the year, depending on certain pots I have bubbling away at the moment.

The second book, Kankanoor, is work in progress. I’ve written about 40,000 words so far and can’t wait to get to the next part as it’s going to be full of action. I’m going to use NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month to the uninitiated) to push this as close to the point of completion as possible.

I’ve already completed the world building for book three and have written plenty of plot notes, so as soon as Kankanoor is finished and revised, I can start on it immediately. I’ve had visions in my head of some of the other worlds too so I’ve got a special note book in which to write it all down.

For me, it’s the best way to work, as I’ve discovered over the years. Having all my notes in one book instead of spread around like I’ve done in the past is a much more efficient way of working and saves me so much time in the long run. I know this is a no-brainer, but when you’re a new writer starting out on your first series, as soon as you get an idea you tend to write it down on the first piece of paper available; you’re scared you’ll forget it, especially if it’s an important plot point.

This might seem a silly thing, but it’s all part of the steep learning curve you have as a new writer of novels. Over time, you find the best and most efficient way of working, the optimum time of day to write, and little routines you tend to adopt before you start writing. You learn better ways of phrasing and constructing sentences, how to remove extraneous words, character development, and world building, to name but a few.

I know I’ve still got much to learn; in fact, seasoned writers have said you never stop learning to hone your craft. But as time goes by, I hope you’ll continue to enjoy my books and see improvements.

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Change of Direction

When I finished writing Heart Search, I had an idea in my head for a fantasy novel. I knew it was going to be different from writing Paranormal Romance, but I’m not sure I was prepared for how different it was.

First I had to start with world building and this is far from simple. As well as deciding what type of structures people inhabit, you’ve also got to take into account the laws of the land, money, terrain, how people make a living, how their food is grown, if there are various social classes and how each related to the other. You have to decide what type of era to set it in, for example, do the people live in mud huts or buildings made from wood, stone, bricks etc. This will also help determine what clothing is worn and how people speak. In short, you need to know almost as much about your new world as you do your current one.

The next important step was the magic system people would be using and who would have access to magic. I wanted to try and come up with something unique, something no one else had used before. This was pretty hard considering how many fantasy books are out there and eventually I came up with an idea I thought might be unique.

I also decided to create creatures which were different to the normal ones seen in fantasy. This part was quite fun and I enjoyed it immensely.

Once all this preparation had been carried out and carefully documented, I was then able to begin writing. There were many times I had to refer back to my notes so I was glad I’d got them available.

As much as I enjoyed writing it, I must admit to being a tad nervous as to whether the novel came across as believable and sent it off to my editor, Connie J Jasperson, who also writes fantasy (check out Tower of Bones, Forbidden Road, and Huw the Bard). She loved the story and the main criticism was that I’d invented my own system for time and measurement which she felt the readers would get frustrated with, so I had to abandon it. However, the fact she liked the story made me feel really good about it and it’s given me the confidence to attempt another fantasy novel, which I’ve already started the background work on, like the world building.

So what’s this new novel? It’s called Of Ice & Air and here’s the blurb:

On her 21st birthday, Princess Kailani’s father tells her that when she was a baby, her mother was abducted. She also learns she has family in another world.

Defying her father, she travels from her Cloud Castle home to the ice kingdom of Idenvarlis where Kailani’s instincts drive her to find the mother she doesn’t remember.

Gifted with the magic of two worlds, and skilled in the use of weapons, she journeys into unknown and dangerous territory. Despite her determination to rescue her mother, she’s forced to overcome new fears and find a way to cope with all she encounters.

However, a person of authority will stop at nothing to prevent either of them returning.

Kailani faces isolation, wild beasts, rogue soldiers, and more as she battles to return to the Ice Palace. With the stakes so high, can she make it back alive?

And here is the cover:

OIAA cover

So, what do you think of it?

I’m hoping to release the book before the end of this month so keep your eyes peeled on here for the details and an exclusive excerpt.

Penny Dreadful

I’ve just returned from a family reunion in Belfast and Dublin and everywhere I went there were reminders of how many great authors and poets have come from the green isles. You could be walking down a street and find a quote from work by Yeats or Oscar Wilde, to name but two, and I found it extremely inspirational.

Some of the places I visited gave me loads of ideas for my next series of books and it goes to show that you can get inspiration from almost anywhere, if only you take the time to look.

Dublin Castle was one such place. I didn’t go inside, it was the events unfolding in the courtyard that caught my attention. There were roped-off areas with old fashioned market stalls; some were the type that were on wheeled carts and others were static. As I looked around at the ‘wares’ it felt like I’d stepped back in time and it was a strange sensation. Suddenly I was in Victorian London and all around me were people dressed from that era. As I stared, drinking in the sights, I could picture certain scenes for my Seven Doors series and I couldn’t wait to write it down.

But what was happening there? Was it an exhibition the castle had staged? No. The reason certain areas were roped off was because an episode of the TV series, Penny Dreadful, was being filmed (although I didn’t realise that until I saw actress Billie Piper dressed in Victorian finery and boom mikes and camera equipment being wheeled or carried into the courtyard).

Rehearsal before filming

Rehearsal before filming

Actresses on the Swing Boats

Actresses on the Swing Boats

Billie Piper waiting for rehearsals to start

Billie Piper waiting for rehearsals to start

Part of the market scenery which sparked my imagination

Part of the market scenery which sparked my imagination

One of the cars used to ferry people to the set had this on their dashboard. This might seem like a stupid photo to take but it's all part of the memory.

One of the cars used to ferry people to the set had this on their dashboard.
This might seem like a stupid photo to take but it’s all part of the memory.

I took a few photos (as you do) and on the bus back to the hotel I took out my little pad and scribbled notes about the objects and scenes which had most inspired me. I know at least some of it will appear in one of the books in my upcoming Seven Doors series, but it certainly won’t be in the first one.

It certainly proves the point about inspiration. You never know what’s around to ignite that spark which sends your imagination into overdrive. So open your eyes, take the time to look around you, and make sure you have a pad and pen handy!

I’m back!!

Hi Everyone!

It was a crazy 2014 for me and I got so caught up in my work, I just couldn’t find the time to write regularly on my blog as well – I’m really sorry for deserting you. I’m planning on changing that for 2015.

Last year, I became a principal editor with Eagle Eye Editors and the workload was heavy from day one. I also finished writing the final book in the Heart Search trilogy and I’m planning to launch it early this year. The book has been through a couple of rounds of editing and will shortly go to my beta reader for checking. Once that’s done, there will be one final edit and then the launch. A great deal of planning has already gone into the launch and there will be some spectacular giveaways. Keep checking in for details and if anyone is interested in hosting a spot on the blog tour, please let me know.

In January last year, I had this crazy idea for my writing group, Writebulb, to write and publish not one, but two anthologies. As I run the group and am one of only two professional editors in the group, it created even more work. However, we managed to do it. Magic, Mystery & Mayhem (for adults) was launched late summer and ‘Catching Santa and other festive tales’ (for children aged 7-11) came out in October. Both book signing events were a sell-out and we made quite a bit of money for our chosen charity – Farleigh Hospice in Chelmsford.

Unfortunately, my health suffered a setback and I’m now officially disabled. Because of this and the fact I had a stalker, who amongst other things vandalised my car on at least two separate occasions, the second of which could have caused a serious accident, I had to move house. I’m now happily settled in my new home which is in the process of being adapted for some of my needs. I’m much more comfortable and at ease now. The good side to this is that I have even more time to write and edit, review books, and write blog posts.

I ‘won’ NaNoWriMo in November for the 4th year running, which is something I’m quite proud of. It really gave me a kick-start for my new novel, which is a standalone fantasy. I’ve written over 75,000 words on the first draft so I’m two-thirds of the way through. This is a really rough draft and I’ll have some serious work to do on it before it can go through editing, but as it’s so different from Heart Search, I’m quite excited about it. I’ll tell you more about it in the months that follow.

I guess that’s about it for now. It just leaves me to wish you all a happy, healthy, and successful 2015.

Impatience

I wonder how many other authors go through what I’m feeling right now.

IMPATIENT!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the editing process (does that make me weird?); working with my wonderful editor, Maria V A Johnson, is a joy. She has fantastic insight and helps me shape my raw manuscript into something worth publishing. But now I’m so close to bringing out my second novel – I’m three chapters of tweaks away before final formatting and uploading to Amazon – I just can’t wait to get it done.

impatience

I know these last minute edits are so necessary, but I can’t help it – I’m excited! The knowledge that there are people who are clamouring for Heart Search: Found is a wonderful feeling and I really don’t want to deprive them any longer than necessary.

So I have to swallow my impatience, do what I need to and give my readers the very best book I can.

The cover reveal will be in the next couple of days so keep checking in – I might even give you a sneak preview! If any of you want to get involved with the cover reveal/book trailer reveal (apart from the lovely ladies who have already committed – Donna L Sadd, Deborah Jay, Maria V A Johnson and Joy Keeney), please leave me a message below, but be quick or you’ll miss out.

Affirmation

It’s strange how our minds’ work. It has this strange habit of sowing doubts, making us question things we were once confident about. Let me explain . . .

After finally publishing Heart Search, book one: Lost, I was euphoric. My dream of seeing something I’d written on the pages of Amazon had come true and I was riding a wave of triumph; I’d achieved my goal!

I knew early on in the writing of Heart Search: Lost that the story wouldn’t fit into just one book and made the decision to spread it over three. It didn’t faze me in the slightest, at the time, and I looked forward to getting the next section drafted. Once the blog tour was underway, I began making my plans to push forward with it during NaNoWriMo. It would give me the discipline and momentum I needed to get it written quickly, I told myself, and was eager to start.

affirm1

November 1st came and I sat down to write, full of ideas and inspiration, confidence running high, and then my mind decided to throw a spanner in the works.

Despite the fact the story was flowing quite well and I’d written over ten thousand words by the end of day three, I began to doubt my abilities. I suffered a crisis of confidence. Just because I’d successfully written one book, did that automatically mean I would be able to complete another one? Did I have another novel in me? Would I find enough of a story to finish it? Was I a good enough author to write a second book?

doubt

All these questions and more spun around in my head like a Tasmanian devil on crack, and it was a horrible feeling. On one level I truly believed I could achieve this second goal, but those niggling doubts had taken root and the tendrils were spreading. I kept my own counsel during this worrying time, dug my heels in and gave myself a strongly-worded lecture. And I carried on writing.

As the word count grew, and one chapter led to another and another, my confidence began to come back a little at a time. The fears didn’t go away, but instead of letting them overpower me, I took back control. I was determined to prove to myself that I wasn’t a ‘one-trick pony’!

I finished the first draft of Heart Search, book two, on 11th January – just eleven days ago – and have now begun the revisions and edits. I can honestly say I experienced the same sense of achievement and joy as when I finished writing book one; I’d overcome my misgivings, my confidence crisis and affirmed that yes, I did have it in me to produce another novel.

affirm2

I have no idea where the doubts came from or why my mind decided to throw me a major curve ball. What I do know is, I can fight it and win!

Reflections

First off – Happy New Year to you all. I wish you health, happiness and success in all your endeavours.

looking back

 

In the first few days of a new year, most people are making resolutions and setting goals, and whilst I do that, I also take some time to reflect on the year just passed and ask myself some questions:

 

What was my biggest trial during 2012?

This would have to be the major problem with my spine. The first signs appeared mid-February, but by the third week in April, it had deteriorated to the extent I could no longer work, drive my car, dance, sit for longer than half an hour, stand for more than fifteen minutes, bend, and needed a stick to help me walk. Suddenly I was taking medication by the handful (or that’s how it seemed); muscle relaxants, pain killers, anti-inflamatories and nerve blockers were thrown down my neck in the vain hope they would take the pain away. Yeah, they took the edge off, but that was about it. The doctor could have given me stronger tablets, but I really didn’t want to become a barely-functioning zombie.

There were two things which helped me through this nightmare (until I had surgery at the end of September) – my daughter and my writing. It was because of both I refused the more powerful drugs. My writing and editing work kept me sane; in my writing I was able to immerse myself in the world I was creating, and in between I had the honour of editing fantastic novels by Connie J Jasperson, Johanna Garth, Alison DeLuca and Nicole Antonia Carson; Johanna’s (Losing Hope), Alison’s (Crown Phoenix: Lamplighter’s Special) and Nicole’s (Yum) are already available, and Connie’s (Forbidden Road) is due to be published within the next couple of months. In the rare times I wasn’t writing or editing, my lovely daughter kept my spirits up.

What was my biggest achievement?

Without a doubt, the publication of Heart Search: Lost through Myrrdin Publishing Group. The joy I felt seeing it up on Amazon for the very first time was indescribable; I still get a buzz from it three months after the launch! When the paperback arrived, I turned it over and over in my hands, scarcely able to believe my dream of publishing a book had come true, especially after the difficult time I had trying to get it written in the first place.

What was my greatest challenge?

I think this would have to be organising and running the blog tour to celebrate the launch of Heart Search: Lost. I’d never done one before so was feeling my way with it a bit, but I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve. I also wanted to combine the tour with a giveaway, so had to choose and design the items too. I wanted each participating blog to have original guest posts and excerpts – if people were kind enough to support my launch, the very least I could do was ensure they had exclusive pieces to share with their followers.

I had some wonderful people supporting me on the tour, a number of which have become dear friends as a result. The fact that the tour began just ten days after the surgery on my spine, when I could only sit for 10-15 minutes at a time, increased the challenge. I had 17 guest posts to write, 14 interviews, and to pick out 20 suitable excerpts. Add this to the actual administration of the tour, the launch itself and all the requisite publicity, it would be fair to say it was a challenge I wondered if I could rise to. I managed it, somehow, mainly by ignoring doctor’s orders and sitting for longer than I should have done!

What was unexpected?

Finding myself holding the reins of a writers group! I had only been a member of Writebulb for about four months when the leader and last remaining founder had to bow out. It had taken me quite a while to find a group I was happy in and I didn’t want to see it close. I volunteered to take over and have been running Writebulb ever since.

I’m proud of the achievements of the group since I took over. Apart from myself, others have published their work for the first time and collectively we published a charity anthology, The Other Way Is Essex, to raise money for our local hospice.

What surprised me the most?

People! To be more specific, how wonderfully supportive my fellow authors, bloggers, followers and readers were. Every member of Myrrdin Publishing were incredible and I’ve found some wonderful new friends as well as very talented authors. The Heart Search Blog Tour crew were all fantastic, most going out of their way to help publicise all the activities/posts/reviews etc as well as their own and offering me loads of encouragement. My fellow writers at Writebulb have been responsive and supportive of my leadership and ideas. Last, but by no means least, my wonderful readers who have given me such fabulous feedback on my debut novel.

What have I learned?

Loads! I’ve learned to stare adversity in the face and find a coping mechanism to deal with pain (admitedly doing something I love and would have done anyway, but still . . .). I’ve been honing my craft, trying to improve my writing, so as to give my readers better quality stories to enjoy. I’ve learned how wonderfully supportive other authors and my blog and social media followers are. Finally, although I’ve been writing since I was a child, I’ve come to realise it’s a much bigger part of my life than I ever expected and I can never stop doing what I love so much!