Tuesday, 24 March 2015

New Season, New Books :) (soon...)

Hi folks :)

Well, it's spring at last in old Blighty, and it couldn't come soon enough.Winter is not my friend....

It has been a fair few months since my last post, during which I have been hard at work under my pile of blankets like the busy little, erm, polar bear (?), I am. (Can't think polar bears without thinking Fortitude...ick, ick, ick!)

The sequel to The Healer's Door is well underway, and my unaffiliated novel, The Buried and The Lost, is due to hit Kindle this summer! So keep your eyes peeled...not literally of course, that would be disgusting....

In addition to this, I have been busy doing a little life-rearranging. Feng Shui-ing my entire house (no mean feat for a place I have lived in for six years and, ahem, NEVER spring cleaned), sorting out various car issues, house issues, health issues and life issues in general, and now, the world of 'traditional' employment beckons....as if those changes to Spiral/The Healer's Door weren't nail-biting enough. After four years of working for myself (which I am still doing alongside) and being a mother, that is a slightly scary prospect. 

But, hey...there is no growth without change. But if, in six months, I start scuttling around in six inch heels with a brief-case and a harassed look like SJP in I Don't Know How She Does It, someone please shoot me. No, better yet, shoot the manufacturer of said heels. And whoever intimated it was normal for women to shoulder all the responsibility for chores and childcare without question.

So, enjoy your spring, people, and I'll keep you posted on coming books to feed your Historical Fiction fetish :) Enjoy your Easter Eggs!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

CHANGES! *chews nails*

I hope everyone had a good Holiday Season and New Year :) It’s been a while since readers will have heard from me. A fair while...

Over the last six weeks or so, I have been busy making CHANGES.

Sounds ominous, you say? Well, in a way it has been. Stressful, maddening and slow to boot. But it’s all for the good in the long run.

What I have been making these aforementioned CHANGES to, is Spiral; The Finding.

Get this: it isn’t called Spiral; The Finding any more!

Back in early December, Spiral received a review on Amazon from a fellow Indie author on the other side of the pond (the Western side, obvs.)

This very helpful, and much appreciated, review highlighted a couple of things about the book that have never sat well with me. While it was was glowing with regard to the story and writing style, it was less so on the subject of the title and cover art.

Now, the cover art was designed by a graphic designer, so I hold up my hands in a gesture of auto-exculpation on that one. But the title has never really felt right, so I had to agree with the reviewer on that point. However, it was something I had mulled over for three years and never really found anything better. So as the publication date loomed, *grits teeth and cringes slightly* I went with it. I rather wish I hadn't.

Any-hoo, it’s all in the interests of a learning curve, this writing game. A poor book cover and title is not high on the list of most embarrassing gaffes I've made over the course of my life; walking out of the ladies’ loo with my skirt stuck in my knickers, and fake-drowning in front of a hot French life-guard, to name a couple. (Not at the same time, I might add.)

So, I have spent the last six weeks, in amongst work commitments, childcare, Christmas and various household fiddle-dee-dee, closeted away with my Think Tank (ahem, me and my husband), as we mulled over a new title, and new cover art.

Spiral; The Finding is now re-titled The Healer’s Door, which is the first part in the Spiral trilogy. It is still exactly the same book, but is now listed on Amazon with the new title and cover art, HERE.

There may still be some people out there who dislike the new title and cover for reasons best known to themselves; these things are subjective after all. But the new look sits much better with me, which is the important thing at this stage. My gut tells me I've done right on this one.

Watch the updated trailer HERE.. Hope you all like it. And; not so subtle hint; I always need reviews, every one helps. Thanks everyone J

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Reverse Reform?

Aahh...my home. The lovely place I retreat to at the end of a hard day, where I can curl up in front of the telly watching some lame box set or other, with a cup of herbal tea, snuggled up under a blanket, and hibernate. It's something that pretty much everybody takes for granted. That that warm, safe haven will be there at the end of the day. 

As somebody who has, at different times in my life, known the shame of eviction, the fear of potential homelessness, the pain of hunger, and also the dread of going home every day to a place that is far from warm, comfortable, or welcoming, I was shocked and disturbed to read the recent news about an American company, Westbrook Partners, buying up Hoxton's New Era estate (all right, I'm a little slow to catch up, but there you go.)

The people living on that estate are just that; people. They have a basic human right to air, food, water, and a warm home where they feel safe. I was under the impression that we live in a country where human life is valued and those things are an accepted norm? Seems not. 

Of course those services shouldn't be entirely free, so the people who work in those sectors can stay fed and clothed themselves. But to allow a foreign investor to come in a take over such a historically rooted area of London and turn the basic human right having a warm, safe home into chargeable commodity that prices that vast majority of the population out of the market, is just morally wrong. 

Where are these people going to go? Outside of London? Leaving them to commute to their jobs and schools every day. thereby tipping the already delicate balance of the financial situation in the average household, stressing the already overworked TfL systems, and adding carbon footprint to the environment? 

Let's face it; we live in a society still reeling from recession. Unlike previous generations, very few of us who didn't manage to get on the property ladder before the recession hit in 2007, are now finding it next to impossible. That leaves renting as the only option, and companies like Westbrook are capitalising on the basic human right to a home. It's sick. Especially when you look at the size of the £4m mansion owned by Mark Donner, the company's London manager......

Not that people shouldn't have big houses, if they have been lucky enough to get to a state in life where they can afford one. Why not? But to my mind, there is no need to take away from people who have less, just because Westbrook are greedy for more than they already have, far more than they can possibly need. 

In a Tory government, are we even surprised? After all, can you imagine Westbrook buying up some fashionable patch in Chelsea and turning out all the residents to run around the street with their Jimmy Choos in their hands? I think not. And David Cameron has been suspiciously silent on the whole thing.....

I am a renter myself, and the scion of a line of East Enders. The East End has been the beating heart of London for centuries. If things carry on the way they are, there won't be any flavour, any grit left in the capital at all. Just affluent suburbia from West to East. And how boring would that be?

Whatever your feeling or opinions may be on the state of the government, rising house prices, benefit claimants, immigration, or a swathe of other topics besides, you still get to come home to your cave, your nest, your castle, every day. Imagine how you would feel if that were about to be taken away from you, and just before Christmas to boot? It's happening. Right here. What makes you think it can't happen to you?

Please show your support by signing the petition to keep the New Era Estate rents down to an affordable level HERE.. They may have delivered the petition to Downing Street already, but the more signatures they get, the more clout they'll have down the line.

No one should ever have to know the terrifying, limbo-like state of not knowing where your children will end up sleeping...at your Mum's? On a friend's sofa? Or on the street? Things like this should have gone out the window back when Dickens was writing A Christmas Carol, and banging on about charity beginning at home and keeping Christmas all year round. Because if nothing has changed, then what have nearly 200 years of social reform all been for, when the very bricks that shelter you can be snatched away through no fault of your own? Is this a return to the Dickensian London of old?

I hope not. I'm not sure corsets and cholera would agree with me...

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Finally!!! Spiral; The Finding is up on Createspace!

Hey everyone,

As the title of this post suggests....finally, finally, FINALLY!!!

Ahem. For those of you who don't know (and there's probably a few, as I haven't written since September), I have been undergoing the process of formatting Spiral; The Finding for publication on Amazon's Createspace. Which is why I haven't written; I've been waiting to actually have something to write. 

So...after much fiddling and faffing, and with a lot of greatly appreciated assistance (ok, autonomy) from my long suffering husband.....

It. Is. UP!!!!!

Spiral; The Finding is now in print! I received the first copy through the post last night, and I cannot tell you how good it felt to be holding it in my hands! Three and a half years of work have gone into this moment, and I'm telling you, that first copy is going to be enshrined somewhere marauding cats and four-year-olds can't get their hands on it.

So, for those of you who don't have a Kindle, Spiral;The Finding is now up and available to order here. 

Happy reading, everyone....whether it's my book or not ;)

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Hot off the press! Trailer for Spiral; The Finding!

Now live on Youtube...give it a look :)

It's been three months in the making (!), but I am really proud of it...and I did have help from a certain obliging husband of mine....(read, a LOT!)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

There is always one.....

Hi all :)

Well, the book talk went well, in the sense that I didn't trip over my own shoes or stumble my words, and and even my APPALLING Scottish accent didn't draw any laughs! However, there were a few, shall we say, random questions asked. For example;

"Does your blog have any readers, or is it just you talking to yourself?" (??????)

"Did you get any complaints about the swearing in your book? Couldn't you replace it with something else?" (I then started to defend the ONE use of a swear word as being integral to the plot, and the questioner then completely changed tack: "If there was no swearing in young adult novels, there would be no grit!" (So why ask?!)

"Did none of the agents you approached ever question you writing a book set in a place you had never been to?" (A derisive look followed.) "I think you need to go there."

All the above. among other such questions, were asked by the same individual. Their crossed arms and staring fixedly at the floor throughout the talk made it very clear they didn't want to be there, and they seemed to have it in for me at question time, despite not even having read the book! It begs the question, why come at all? But there's none so queer as folk, I suppose....

Anyhow, the last question in particular has raised a debate in my mind. Plenty of writers set books in places they have heavily researched, but not been to; I know for a fact I'm not the only one. So is it an appropriate thing to do? 

In my opinion it depends on the circumstances of the book; whether you are writing about an urban or rural landscape, whether the book is rooted in a particular town that really exists, or a fictional town within a general region. I think that, in the latter two examples, you can get away with it, but I'd be interested to hear other's takes on this. 

Please do comment on this post with any ideas/opinions etc, or jot something on Facebook.

Ta :)

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The unmitigated joys of writing a book talk...

Hi everyone,

Long time no write...well, not on The Ink Splat at least, which is good in a way, because it means I've been getting lots of writing done elsewhere, which after all is my raison d'etre.

I have now completed six and a bit chapters of the sequel to Spiral;The Finding. It's going like the clappers, after a hiatus of almost two years between this book and the first, while I worked on another unaffiliated book (watch this space!), but it feels really good to get involved with the MacBain sisters again. To hear them speaking to me as they once did. It seems a strange thing to say, but it feels as if I know them. Whenever I sit down to write, I silently tap into them, and say "Take me where ever you want." And they do. They speak to me so clearly, that in fact, me being of a spiritual bent, sometimes on a dark night, I wonder if their voices didn't come from me....

Slight creepiness aside, however, I am giving a book talk at my local library about the first Spiral novel on 5th September. I have prepared what I want to say about the book, decided on an extract to read, prepared for a few potential questions that might be asked, and rehearsed it a few times of times....but I'm still absolutely terrified. For three reasons;

1.) It's public speaking. 'Nuff said. 
2.) It's the first time I've ever given a talk about a book of mine. To anyone. I know it's only a book group at a local library, but it's still laying yourself bare to comment and criticism, which is always scary.
3.)What if I get some self-important nutter ("I've read all the Richard and Judy book club books, therefore I am ever so erudite", you know the type...) who asks me some waffly question I can't answer?! It never looks good, not being able to answer a question about your own book....

Oh well, I suppose I've done everything I can do...I can't prepare for every possible question on the planet when I don't know what's going to be asked. I have found, however, through the writing of the talk, that it is actually harder to describe the book's message in speech, than it is to show it in your creative prose. That old adage "show, don't tell", which every writer worth their salt tries to follow, has never actually been a problem for me. I can paint a picture with written words really well. (Toot, toot.) However, ask me to talk about said picture, and I'll go and hide under my duvet.

It's a hurdle that has to be jumped though. As a self-published author, we all know we're supposed to be able to talk about our own books, etc etc.....I only hope it's something that gets easier with practice!

In other news: I am gearing up for autumn and the sending of me lovely wee man to school (trying not to dance a jig here, it's only afternoons...) and looking forward to the leaves turning. I love autumn, it's my absolute favourite season! My birthday, little man's birthday, Hallowe'en, Bonfire Night, and all the anticipation of Christmas to come. No other time of year makes me want to huddle up at my computer, start-of-the-new-school-year style, with all my new stationary and a pumpkin spice latte, in a preppy jumper, and get cracking. 

I know, I am regressing to my university days. It's quite sad. 

By the way, I actually wore thigh-socks, like the ones in Clueless.....

That's all for now, folks...stay tuned :)