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Review: EVO Ghost by K. J. Chapman (EVO Nation Series #3) (ARC)

Book review: EVO Ghost by K. J. Chapman

“Her name is both feared and revered.
Her name is that of a ghost.
Her name is Teddie Leason, and she’s back from the dead.

Teddie never agreed with Woodman’s hare-brained declaration of war that cost the lives of those dear to her, but now, she is the main participant in forwarding what he started. There is no turning back, the war has to play out, and she must end the oppression of her kind. EVO are at the mercy of a man with outdated ideas and the power to wield them. Britain will be reshaped forever unless enemies become allies and sacrifices are made.

Becoming the ‘Face of the Rebellion’ is bitter sweet, with the potential for justice, but also a weight she struggles to shoulder. The fight has never been more important, and EVO have never been more at risk. They will follow where she leads. Does Teddie have the strength to bear that responsibility?”

Book review: EVO Ghost by K. J. Chapman

What I thought:

I’ve been following this author from Book 1 and was ecstatic when my ARC arrived in my inbox! Book 2, EVO Shift, ended with a bang (literally!), and I couldn’t wait to find out how things continued from there.

Things start in a terrible place. Teddie is alive, but her friends–including Adam–think she’s dead, and Teds is in no position to tell them that she’s fine. It was easy to sympathise, both with Teddie and her friends, even though we don’t get their POVs. Imagine the emotional strain!

“[…] This is no longer the beginning of the end, Cub. This is the final chapter. I can sense it.”

I loved the main guys in charge, Rafe (who we already knew) and Fernan (a new addition later in the book). They’re tough, they look out for their groups, and they’re hell-bent on winning this war no matter the cost–which may sound harsh, but remember there’s a war going on. Teddie disagrees with many of their decisions–

which, I’ve got to admit, annoyed me more than a little. I don’t mind the main character disagreeing or even making decisions I wouldn’t, but Teddie lost sight of the bigger picture a lot. I get that she was frustrated with being told to sit and wait while the war was fought in her name, but I don’t think that’s an excuse to insist they risk everyone they’re supposed to protect just so Teddie can join the fight more actively. Sometimes the right decisions are the hardest but necessary all the same; Rafe and Fernan understood that. Teddie didn’t. She acted a bit like a spoiled child at times when the leaders wouldn’t fall over themselves to do what Teddie wanted because they have people to protect.

Don’t take this as negative criticism on the writing, though. As all writers will know, our characters have their own minds, and I know Chapman struggled with some of Teddie’s decisions herself. That she went through with them anyway is a credit to Chapman, not a negative comment. It’s Teddie I had a problem with, not the writing.

It was great to see just how far everyone’s come, ESPECIALLY MY GIRL YANA. Yana kicks butt! :3 The link between Adam and Teddie developed further, too; it was exciting to see them take it to new heights (again, literally!).

No one pays their leaders any heed. The chaos is nothing but an excuse for hundreds of people to relieve their stress by punching and kicking the crap out of each other.

And speaking of characters… There was a really lovely reunion, which could have gone either way but Teddie put her big-girl pants on and did the mature thing. No spoilers, though 😉

It was a bit slow and repetitive in places, but I couldn’t really put my finger on the former until I was about 73% through. Everything went just a little too smoothly for me. I wanted more to go wrong. I know Chapman as an author who throws all of the plot twists at you, but most of this book went in the good guys’ favour.

And I hope I don’t sound too evil when I say I expected more people to die! 😛

This was a great finale to the series. The last ten percent really had a kick to them, and once again one of Chapman’s books ended in a surprising way. There’s a brief glimpse into Teddie’s close future, too, and I think it’s fair to say that all’s well that ends well <3

EVO Ghost is out March 1st, but you can already pre-order it now!

Buy it on Amazon | Add it on Goodreads


Have you read EVO Nation, or are you tempted? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

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Review: Zombie Playlist by K. J. Chapman

Book Review: Zombie Playlist by K. J. Chapman

“Dagger has survived the zombie apocalypse with nothing save a metal bat, blades, and assholery. With the company of an IPOD she attained courtesy of Dead-Dude, and King, the Bunker-Boy straggler she somehow acquired on her journey, she travels to the coast, putting down zombies, blowing up high-grade assholes, and teaching King how to ditch his pre-apocalypse conscience and keep his yellow ass alive.”

Book Review: Zombie Playlist by K. J. Chapman

What I thought:

*Thank you to the author for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Zombie Playlist was exactly what I needed when I needed it. I read it shortly after Equal Rites and was still in a bit of a reading slump after two disappointing reads before that, but Dagger’s snarkiness got me out of the slump again!

Dagger has taken to the zombie apocalypse like a little duckling takes to water, and has done incredibly well at staying alive thanks to her general mistrust of other people. While others seek strength in numbers, Dagger knows that she’s best off on her own – until she has a moment and rescues King, who won’t leave her alone afterwards. Kinda like a lost puppy following the only person who’s scratched its ears recently.

This is perfect. Not only am I going to kill him, he’s going to die looking like a twat in a poncho.

Dagger isn’t cold and unfeeling, exactly, but she has survived thanks to basic assholery – glorious uncensored sarcasm abounds, friends. King, on the other hand, has waited it out inside a bunker for most of the apocalypse until he was forced to leave that, and knows nothing about surviving on his own. Dagger is the strength, and King is the kindness. Dagger brings out King’s survival instincts, and he brings out her softer side. They complement each other extremely well, and I loved watching their relationship as well as their individual characters grow.

What has this world come to? If he was my friend, or even just some dude I had travelled with, I would have at least run over his skull; popped his zombie ass like a zit. That’s what I would want if it were me. But, nope, some people are just bloody animals.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced zombie apocalypse novella with great characters which holds nothing back where gruesome detail is concerned, then this is a must-read for you! Its release date is in only a few days on the 4th September, so either mark that in your calendars or pre-order it now 😉

Buy it on Amazon | Add it on Goodreads


Have you read Zombie Playlist? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

Please note: All reviews contain affiliate links. I do not review books on this blog that I didn’t enjoy or believe in–all reviews are recommendations.

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WWW Wednesday 9th August 2017

This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Why not join in? Just answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

WWW Wednesday

This meme will be categorised together with my book reviews. All links will get you to the book’s Goodreads listing, as always 🙂

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What I’m currently reading

A Torch Against the Night

This is everything I needed from a fantasy book <3 I’m almost done with it now and am hoping to finish it either tomorrow or Thursday morning. I’m a little behind on my reviews, though, so it may not be this week.

Blurb:

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

The Plot Thickens

I haven’t made any progress on this but will try to fit it in somewhere this week. Last week was a little busy and all over the place, but now that things have calmed down I should have time for it.

Blurb:

As a literary agent, Noah Lukeman hears thousands of book pitches a year. Often the stories sound great in concept, but never live up to their potential on the page. Lukeman shows beginning and advanced writers how to implement the fundamentals of successful plot development, such as character building and heightened suspense and conflict. Writers will find it impossible to walk away from this invaluable guide—a veritable fiction-writing workshop—without boundless new ideas.

***

What I recently finished reading

The Sword of Shannara Trilogy

I gave up on it :/ I hate giving up on books but I just couldn’t get into this. With shorter books I tend to finish them regardless of how much I’m enjoying them, but this one has 1,191 and the tiniest font I’ve ever seen in a novel. There’s just too much of it for me to soldier on, especially considering the many other books waiting to be read!

Blurb:

THE SWORD OF SHANNARA: Long ago, the world of Shea Ohmsford was torn apart by war. But the half-human, half-elfin, Shea now lives in peace – until the forbidding figure of Allanon appears, to reveal that the long dead Warlock Lord lives again

THE ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA: Ancient evil threatens the Elves and the Races of Man. For the Ellcrys, the tree of long-lost Elven magic, is dying – loosing the spell of Forbidding that locks the hordes of Demons away from Earth. Only one source has the power to stop it: the Elfstones of Shannara. 

THE WISHSONG OF SHANNARA: Evil stalks the Four Lands as the Ildatch, immemorial book of evil spells, has stirred to eldritch life. Once again Allanon, ancient Druid Protector of the Races, must seek the help of a descendant of Jerle Shannara.

Equal Rights

This was everything I wanted from a Terry Pratchett book! Writing the review might be hard, though, because my only notes are ‘love Granny Weatherwax <3’ 😀 It’s my current favourite Discworld novel but I suspect Mort will top that!

Blurb:

They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.

The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunately for his colleagues in the chauvinistic (not to say misogynistic) world of magic, he failed to check that the baby in question was a son. Everybody knows that there’s no such thing as a female wizard. But now it’s gone and happened, there’s nothing much anyone can do about it. Let the battle of the sexes begin…

Zombie Playlist

I was so excited to find my ARC waiting in my inbox one morning! After The Sword of Shannara not working for me I needed something that made me laugh, and this made me laugh a lot! I’d already seen teasers of Dagger online but reading the finished novella was so much better. Dagger has a wicked sense of humour, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Zombie Playlist will be published on the 4th September, so go mark it now if you love snarky zombie apocalypse stories!

Blurb:

Dagger has survived the zombie apocalypse with nothing save a metal bat, blades, and assholery. With the company of an IPOD she attained courtesy of Dead-Dude, and King, the Bunker-Boy straggler she somehow acquired on her journey, she travels to the coast, putting down zombies, blowing up high-grade assholes, and teaching King how to ditch his pre-apocalypse conscience and keep his yellow ass alive.

***

What I think I’ll read next

Mort

With A Torch Against the Night begging to be read and the ARC of Zombie Playlist, Mort had to wait – but it’s definitely my next read now and I’m dying (hehe… get it? dying? MORT?) to get to it! It’s already in my locker at work, I just need to finish my current read now 🙂

Blurb:

In this Discworld installment, Death comes to Mort with an offer he can’t refuse — especially since being, well, dead isn’t compulsory. As Death’s apprentice, he’ll have free board and lodging, use of the company horse, and he won’t need time off for family funerals. The position is everything Mort thought he’d ever wanted, until he discovers that this perfect job can be a killer on his love life.

***

Have you read any of these and would like to chat about it? I look forward to hearing from you if you do – just leave a comment below and we can get this book club started!

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Self-Doubt: 14 Authors Share Their Advice

Today is an exciting days, friends. Today is the day we kick self-doubt where it hurts because today, 14 wonderful authors have come together to talk about how to go to war with it!

If you’ve written for any length of time – or if you’ve put it off because of self-doubt, perhaps? – you’ll know exactly what I mean. Self-doubt is the reason you haven’t hit that ‘publish’ button on KDP yet. Self-doubt is the reason you can’t continue writing your draft because you’re scared no one will like what you do, or worse yet – what if everyone who reads it leaves soul-destroying reviews? It may even be the reason you haven’t started Chapter 1 despite wanting to.

I’m hoping we can convince you to keep writing anyway, and glare right back when self-doubt is glaring at you and shove it back into its dark corner.

Crippling self-doubt is a horrible feeling, but you’re far from alone, friends. Every creative in the existence of ever has had to deal with this, and we’re here today to tell you why you can’t let it defeat you, and how to tackle it to the ground and tie it to a tree so it can’t escape.

Are you ready? TO WAR! *battle cry*

I’m not going to lie and tell you that you won’t receive any negative reviews, because you will. Your book won’t work for everyone; the sooner you come to terms with this, the better. You haven’t enjoyed every book you’ve ever read, either, but the ones you didn’t like still have five-star reviews! You might get reviews so angry you’ll wonder why people have to use Goodreads and Amazon as an outlet for their aggression (and I’ve seen these, friends, they absolutely exist and defy logic), but they don’t cancel out your shining reviews! Ten one-star reviews don’t negate your fifty five-star reviews! The people buying your book don’t have any obligation to like what they paid for, they are allowed to be disappointed. So they didn’t like it; at least they tried it. Other people loved it, and it’s those people you write for (on the days when you feel you can’t write for yourself, anyway – always write for yourself first).

Don’t be discouraged when your first draft is rubbish. That’s what first drafts are there for; the magic happens when you rewrite and edit and overdose on tea. Don’t be discouraged when one person tells you your book didn’t work for them. As we’ve just discussed, your book won’t be right for everyone but this doesn’t make your positive reviews less valid. You still earned those.

And above all, don’t let self-doubt convince you that you’re no good and that everyone will hate your book and that it’d be better if you just gave up now. You’re not alone, we’ve all been there, and if you reach out I promise we’ll convince you otherwise (tea and biscuits will be involved if you come to me).

***

Eden Sharp, Author of The Breaks

Every year I tell the fledgling first year undergraduates I teach the same thing. Sometimes it takes three years to sink in but it’s really very simple yet crucial advice. You have to give yourself permission to write rubbish initially. All work begins this way. Writing is rewriting. Unfortunately, many beginning writers become so critical of their work in the early stages they either block themselves from writing or give up entirely. All early work is bad no matter who wrote it. Think of it this way. When other artists create stunning work they have to invest in the materials first. A sculptor needs to first purchase a leaden lump of clay which must then be worked hard in order for the beautiful finished piece to emerge. Our tools as writers are words. We need to mine lots of them to begin with. Quantity before quality. They’ll be misshapen and ugly and that’s okay because the more we work the mud the hidden gems within will start to appear and it is these which we will work on until they shine. So you have to give yourself permission to write rubbish without judgement. Don’t be afraid of mining mud to begin with. You’re just gathering your materials. As Stephen King said about the pain that goes with the first draft, just write the damn thing. Polishing comes later. Have faith. With enough work your words will eventually shine I promise.

You can find Eden on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon, and her website.

Nadia L. King, Author of Jenna’s Truth

The magic of writing is contained on the page—it’s when you forget about who you are and everything becomes about the story. That magic is why most writers write.

Prolific American author, Richard Russo once said that self-consciousness is the enemy of art. Self-consciousness is where self-doubt and fear reside—it’s the voices in your head which threaten to sabotage your stories. I’m not sure if the voices ever fall silent but I do know self-discipline can help quieten them. Showing up, sitting in front of your desk, pounding out the words, crossing your fingers that the magic will turn up—that’s what moves you forward and overthrows the voices.

Every writer it seems suffers from crushing darkness of self-doubt. Charles Bukowski once bemoaned that bad writers seem to have self-confidence while the good ones suffer self-doubt.

Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear talks about the need to be brave. Gilberts says artists need to get to that place in creative life where curiosity becomes larger than fear.

As writing becomes more habitual hopefully ignoring the voices will become second nature and as a writer you will experience excitement about what the muse will provide. Don’t let fear stop you from connecting with the magic of writing.

You can find Nadia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Rhianne Stephanie, Author of The Collective

The scariest thing to do is share your work, but it can be one of the best things to do as a writer who might be a discouraged. Speaking from personal experience, having a writer friend who you can bounce ideas off and share your writing with is worth it’s weight in gold. When I get stuck I share a few lines of what I’ve just written and a bit of background to one or two friends and they will help me bounce ideas on where to go next, and to think in depth about what my characters are going through. They remind me to think about how they would react and feel instead of focusing on the action.

Another piece of advice I would give to writers is to take a break. Work on something else, watch TV and films, read books. Find a way to re ignite your spark for creativity. It doesn’t have to be long, and you don’t even have to work on something else. I found that on breaks where I focused on self-care that ideas and lines of dialogue just came to me when I was in the shower, or watching a movie in bed with my boyfriend.

Take breaks and ask for help. No writer will turn you away, especially when we have all been in the same boat! But don’t expect results instantly, we have our own work to do too. Best to ask in Facebook groups and get people to let you know when they’re free.

You can find Rhianne on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon, and her website.

Michael Chrobak, Author of Brother Thomas and the Guardians of Zion and Where Angels Dwell

As an artist, discouragement can come in a wide range of flavors. We can get discouraged that our books aren’t getting any attention by publishers or agents. We can get discouraged that our books are selling as fast as we hoped they would. Or we can get discouraged that our muse had taken a vacation, leaving us hauntingly unable to write even a simple birthday card greeting. I’ve even found myself getting discouraged after re-reading my work-in-progress and finding it to be very flat – after completing over 40,000 words! (And yes, I deleted almost 90% of that WIP)

Therefore, I believe the first thing to do is to identify what type of discouragement you are having. When you understand what it is that’s bringing you down, you can more easily identify the solution. I find that reminding myself why I chose to be an author in the first place helps me to identify where my frustrations are. For example, since I became an author for the simple fact that I could no longer quiet the urge to write, if I’m feeling discouraged that I haven’t sold a book in a while, I simply remind myself of why I write. To me, I would rather have a handful of readers who love what I do, then thousands of readers who are ambivalent.

Defining your ‘why’ gives you the understanding and strength to endure any ‘how’. It’s when we don’t know why we do what we do that frustration and disappointment come. Trust me, regardless your goal, if you don’t know why you pursue it, it will always be elusive. Define who you are first, and everything else will fall into place.

You can find Michael on his website, FacebookTwitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Ellen Read, Author of The Dragon Sleeps

Whether you’re starting out on your writing career or have several books published you will feel discouraged at least some of the time and plain scared at others. The first time you let other people read your words is terrifying. The moments before then you’ll be certain what you’ve written is rubbish.

The main thing is to believe in yourself and your dream. Think of where you want to go, what you want to do, then understand that in any job we have to take little steps in the beginning. We’ll probably make mistakes but use these to help you grow. Ask for and take advice, talk to other writers, but don’t let criticism cripple you. Remember you don’t have to accept all the advice.

You can find Ellen on her blog, website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, and Amazon

Liz Meldon, Author of the Lovers and Liars series and the Games We Play series

No matter how much you love writing, I think we can all agree that there are a lot of aspects about the publishing world that can get very disheartening. And that’s okay. It’s okay to have a moment of wanting to rip your hair out and quit. What matters is that you take some time to breathe, recover from your moment, and keep on working at it. Remember that we all get discouraged. Even the most successful authors out there feel exactly like you’re feeling right now. I promise.

There are lots of reasons why a writer might get discouraged, but I’d like to focus on one: feeling as though your market is either oversaturated or too obscure. Let’s use romance as an example. You worry there are too many romance novels out there—so why bother writing yours? Or, on the other side of things, you fear your rather niche subgenre won’t garner interest, so let’s throw in the towel and pump out some silly romance books. That’ll solve everything, right?

Wrong. Write what makes you happy and your readers will see it. Write what makes you passionate. Write what thrills you. Readers know when your enthusiasm for a genre matches theirs, and they gravitate toward it. So don’t panic. Write your novel, even if there are literally millions out there already. Write your obscure, niche genre 10-book series. There is a reader for every writer. Never forget that.

Find Liz on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads.

K. J. Chapman, Author of the EVO Nation series and Thrown to the Blue

I doubt there is an author alive who doesn’t get discouraged from time to time, whether it be a bad review, or just that nagging voice in the back of your head saying you’re not good enough. My ultimate advice for tackling this discouragement is to ask yourself, ‘Why do I write?’ I’m guessing the answer is because you love it, you enjoy it, you just have to. That’s all you need to remember. You are doing something that you love, and no, you’re work may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s yours. Keep striving to do what makes you happy. Write what you want to read. That’s what comes across in the writing.

You can find Kayleigh on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, PinterestGoodreads, and Amazon.

Becky Wright, Author of The Manningtree Account and Remember to Love Me

I promise you, it’s never been said, that being a writer is easy. We plunge knives through our hearts and bleed through our fingers. We do it because we are tethered to the written word. However, we can all suffer from doubt, those thoughts of ‘why bother?’

It’s at times like these, you should take a step back, evaluate and come up for air. Immersing yourself in those thoughts will only bring you down further. There’s no end of contributing factors, we lead busy lives, maybe it’s shortage of time or the lack of progress on your current writing. A clear idea, a structure, put to paper can be a real lift to your state of mind, to see tangible progression is a great motivator. Allow yourself the luxury of time, even if it’s an hour a day, or a couple of evenings a week, whichever fits your life. But always give yourself goals – aim, achieve, and plot your growth.

To fall back in love with writing is half the battle. Read, soak in the written word, the more you read the easier you will write, and the more focused you will feel.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt is not to compare. The success of fellow writers, can, if you permit it, hinder your own motivation, it’s never a healthy thought set for your craft. Instead, allow it to drive you forward, aspire, let their success boost you. If in your heart you can’t imagine life without writing, then why stop?

You can find Becky on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Beverley Lee, Author of the Gabriel Davenport Trilogy

Don’t think that everything has to be perfect the first time around. I fell into this trap for the longest time, and kept wondering why everything just felt clogged up and stilted. The most important thing is getting your ideas on the paper/screen in that first draft.  Everything can be edited. There’s a reason that fledgling draft is called the vomit one! Also, don’t compare yourself to other writers. Just because someone writes for seven hours a day in perfect silence, drinking green tea smoothies, doesn’t mean that you have to copy them. Any word count or planning is making progress on your story. It will unfold in its own time. You need to find your own rhythm and what works for *you*. Try mixing things up a little if you feel stalled – writing by hand works for a lot of people, and you have the added advantage that you can do it anywhere.

Write from the heart. Write what moves you and gives you All The Feels. Don’t be afraid to go where your characters lead you, even if it gets ugly. In truth, trust them, and trust your story.

You can find Beverley on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

R. K. Ryde, Author of the Stella series

It’s funny that I’m writing about advice for discouraged writers – and that’s not funny in a ha ha way, it’s funny in an woo-woo way because that’s exactly how I’ve felt the last month or so – discouraged.

So, how did I pull myself up by my bootstraps and carry on? By remembering that everyone gets discouraged with their writing at some point in time. AND by reading articles and listening to podcasts about encouragement for discouraged writers.

Here are a few gems I gleaned from my own readings and recent experience:

  1. Give yourself a break. I’m lucky enough to be self-published, so the only deadline I have breathing down my neck is my very own self-imposed deadline. Sure, you may have readers expecting your next novel (and that in of itself is a huge boost of encouragement) but in all reality, if readers are eagerly awaiting your next masterpiece, take the pressure off yourself and make it the masterpiece they are wanting. An extra month or so won’t deter the most devoted fan.
  2. Remember, it’s only a first draft. Especially coming off the back of finishing a fully polished and highly edited novel, the first draft of your next book can seem very clunky and imperfect.
  3. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Only by putting one word after another will that book be finally written.
  4. Read! I have found by using my break time (see point one) to read for pleasure, I am inspired by my favourite authors and can’t wait to get back to my laptop to get my own words down.

You can find Rhonda on her website, Facebook, and Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Melinda Devine, Author of Gina’s Diaries

What advice do I have for discouraged writers? Make sure you always have a supply of wine, chocolate, coffee and ice cream. Oh, and subscribe to Netflix so you can binge watch series during your ‘I can’t do this’ phase.

I become discouraged for a number of reasons. Self-doubt is a huge one. Another is comparing myself to other writers and their methods. There’s also the crappy writing I can do, and the writing I can’t do when the words refuse to flow. I don’t have a University degree stating I’m a professional writer, so that plays havoc with my mind and don’t forget the dreaded one star review.

To overcome all that and continue on your path as a writer, you need to remember one thing; it’s your journey.

It doesn’t matter what anyone says, negative or positive, bottom line is, it’s all up to you. You’re in control of your actions and emotions. You can sit with pen in hand or in front of your computer and do nothing. Or you can choose to get those words down and finish what you started.

So if writing is what you want to do, sure, entertain those discouraging thoughts for a small amount of time. Drink that wine or eat the tub of ice cream while binge watching a season of The Originals but when it’s finished, get back on your chosen path, believe in yourself and write.

You can find Melinda on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Faith Rivens, Author of Eléonore

I’ll be honest, friends. Ten years into the writing game and I still suffer self-doubt on a daily basis. Some days it’s only a niggling qualm and some days it looms like a supermassive black hole. I fell into a particularly bad rut three years ago and almost walked away from writing for good.

I learned a lot from that experience.

Passion. If you love something deeply enough, it is worth the stumbles and falls. This applies to life in general, not just writing.

One of your greatest allies in this game is realizing that perfection doesn’t exist and so you shouldn’t aim for it. Your focus needs to be writing YOUR best story.

First drafts are supposed to be wonky. Your story will come out in your revisions and edits. Perseverance is key here. Writing YOUR best story requires discipline, but it’s worth it.

Recognize your own strengths. Humility is an important quality to possess, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give yourself credit where credit is due. And never let anyone convince you that your passion is a waste of time. Believe in your abilities. Believe in yourself. Trust yourself too.

Writing might be a personal thing, but it doesn’t have to be a solitary one. Engaging on social media platforms led me to discover a supportive writing community. We encourage each other on our journeys. It’s a good reminder that the struggles we face are not unique to us. We all suffer self-doubt. We all suffer fear. We don’t have to be overwhelmed by it.

Life’s too short to hide away in fear.

You can find Faith on Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon, and her blog.

Anna B. Madrise, Author of The Hatter’s Wife

The best advice I have to give to discouraged writers is to remember this one point: “this career choice is a marathon not a sprint.” The decision to go from being a writer to being an author is one that should showcase your passion for the written word through your stories. This is not a way to “get rich quick” but rather a way to see your art come alive and touch others. I have a full-time job on top of writing as much “full-time” as I can. Yes, my goal is to live off of the income that my books bring in but my driving force behind what I do is because I get excited about the worlds I create and the characters I bring to live for my readers. Write because it is your passion and eventually the rest will all fall into place.

You can find Anna on her website, InstagramTwitterFacebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

James Fahy, Author of the Phoebe Harkness series and The Changeling series

As writers, we are all SUCH control freaks, and SUCH perfectionists, that no matter how many times you draft and redraft, revise, cut and edit, rearrange and review, you are NEVER (no…really…NEVER) going to reach a point where you genuinely, with your whole heart can say to yourself: ‘There. It’s done. It’s perfect. There is no way I could possibly improve this. It can go out to Agents now. Now, finally, I am happy to send it to the publisher.’ We’re good at procrastinating.

Have faith in your work. It should be good enough that you are super-proud of it…of course…but it will NEVER be so good you think it’s perfect. Holding on to that fear and obsessive doubt that either you or your writing is not quite top-grade is one of the first main obstacles to taking the publishing plunge.

The worry ‘everyone won’t love your book’, is also a crippling doubt. The fact is, not everyone will. Some people will love it, some people will cast it aside with a ‘meh’, and others, no matter how much you wish it wasn’t the case, will hate it.

Deal with it.

You cannot write to please everyone, and the important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t TRY to. If you try to, it’s obvious, and it shows, and it stinks of phoney.

I don’t write for other people. I don’t write with a target audience in mind that I’m hoping to ensnare (If you’re writing in any genre, that happens naturally and organically as you pen the story) but even the most loved books in the world will have fanatic fans and sneering detractors in equal measure.

If only a handful of people love your work, that’s NOT a bad thing… that handful of people LOVE YOUR WORK. That’s an amazing compliment. To achieve that kind of connection of minds and ideas through a shared story. That, to me, is the magic of writing, and why we need to confront, rather than ignore, our ‘doubts’.

Doubt shouldn’t ever stop you believing you can make that connection, and you can make it on your own terms, and for all the right reasons.

So stop worrying your writing isn’t perfect. It isn’t. no-ones is. Still write anyway. Singing off key is still music. And stop trying to ‘maximise’ the number of people you can reach and please. You only need to reach one, and your job is done. Any more than that, is just icing on the author cake.

Find James on Twitter, Instagram, FacebookGoodreads, Amazon, and his blog.

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How do you tackle self-doubt? If you need more words of encouragement, you can either grab some cookies and a tea and leave a comment below, or you can check out the two previous posts on self-doubt I published here this month. Author Dana Fraedrich talks about it here, and I talk about self-doubt as well as writer’s block on Nadia’s blogsite here.

Or you can do both 🙂


Sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books and recommendations to help you grow as a writer:

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How do You Market Your Book Once It’s Published? 11 Authors Share Their Secrets!

Just the word ‘marketing’ sends nervous shivers down the backs of many authors. It’s something you know you need to do – something really quite vital to your book’s success – but chances are you’re putting it off. You might be procrastinating because you have no idea where to start, because you don’t think of yourself as a marketing strategist but a creative, because it seems intimidating, or because any number of different reasons, but either way – it’s not getting done, is it?

Don’t worry, we don’t blame you. When you’re new to this writing thing you have so much to think about – How do you publish your book? Do you need an editor? What are beta readers and why does everyone say you need them? – that marketing likely takes a step back. Marketing happens after your book is out, right? Why worry about it before you approve your book on Amazon when there is everything else to do?

I know. I, and every author below (or ever), have been in the same place at one point. But the truth is that marketing happens at just about every stage of your bookish career – certainly after you’ve published your book (*high five!*), but also before you get to that stage.

So what can you do? Where do you start? The eleven authors below are here to help you with just that! Marketing is daunting, and chances are it always will be, but hopefully after reading this post you’ll feel a little more confident, and maybe even see the fun side! (I promise you, it exists if you know where to look.)

My personal recommendation is social media. Create a blog, sign up for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – whichever works best for you – before your book is out, and start mentioning here and there that you’re a writer with a book in the works. I can’t stress how wonderful the writing community is. I know signing up and declaring you’re a writer can be pretty scary, but I promise you we’ll catch you and welcome you with cookies and kittens (and tea/coffee, naturally). You’ll be glad you’ve joined, trust me. The sooner you can do this, the better. Your release day may seem like a long way off when you’ve only just finished your first draft, but that’s precisely why that’s the ideal time to start promoting. Think of it this way – if you wait until your book is out, no one will know it exists on release day. But if you create a blog, post regularly, and have at least a small but intrigued social media following by release day, then those are people who do know about your book! There may not be many if it’s your first book, but a few are better than none.

There’s only one thing you need to be on social media, and that’s yourself. Make sure your posts are genuine, avoid posting nothing but “My book is awesome! You have to read it NOW!”, and you’ll find your people (sometimes refered to as your tribe) in no time!

If you want to catch up with me on social media, glance over to the left-hand side – you’ve got all my links right there 😉

But let’s hear from the other eleven authors, shall we? (My thanks to all of you again for stopping by and sharing your insights <3 )

Nadia L. King, Author of Jenna’s Truth

A surprise that came with becoming a writer is the need for public speaking. When my debut book was published last year, I was most surprised by how much public speaking I needed to undertake. As writers, we often prefer to stay in the worlds we create in our heads. This isn’t always possible. We have to become adept at public speaking. No matter how shy you are, you will have public speaking engagements. The greater the public’s exposure to your book and to you, the more likely readers will ‘buy-in’ to your book. So get ready for radio and TV interviews, library talks, and school visits. You can have the fanciest, most sophisticated author website on the planet, but nothing beats the human touch. If we are truly to connect with our readers, we will need to speak to them and more often than not, this will require us to speak publicly.

Speaking engagements in Australia are paid and minimum rates are set by the Australian Society of Authors. Let schools and public libraries know you are available for talks by personally contacting them and providing details of what you cover in your talks and the audience you target. Remember, exposure is a powerful tool so use it when opportunities arise. So dear friends, get ready, feel the fear and do it anyway. Your book asks it of you.

 You can find Nadia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Anna B. Madrise, Author of The Hatter’s Wife

Book marketing in today’s day and age, has become a business in and of itself. There are whole websites, presentations, and companies, slated towards the “how-to’s” an author should follow to market their book. What they don’t tell you, is whether you are self-pub, tradish, or hybrid, you – the author – are going to be doing a good deal amount of your own marketing, on your own.

My first tip? Start with one social media site and get really good at using it. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (yes there are authors who are doing fabulous on Pinterest!) pick one, and learn EVERYTHING you can about how to use that social media site as a place to market your books.

My second tip? Schedule time each week that you set aside to actually “do” the marketing of your book. Don’t try to pile it on top of writing days or research days, it will only overwhelm and frustrate you. It needs to be treated with the same importance as when you sit down to work on your manuscripts. In some cases, after your book is published, it starts to become more important because finding your audience, that will read your work, is the foundation to your author business.

Finally, enjoy the process. You became a writer/author for a reason. Don’t be afraid to showcase all your hard work to the world. Go in with a positive attitude and you will be rewarded much the same, in return.

You can find Anna on her website, InstagramTwitterFacebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Michael Chrobak, Author of Brother Thomas and the Guardians of Zion and Where Angels Dwell

Marketing starts before a book is released. It doesn’t matter how much you are going to spend advertising, if your potential readers aren’t attracted to it, they aren’t going to buy. Period. So, what do you need? First, a well-designed cover. Unless you’re a talented artist, don’t create your own cover. It will look self-published, and in this business, that’s bad. If your budget is limited, spend most of it on a good cover. Also – edit, edit, edit. Spelling, grammar mistakes, or timeline discrepancies give the reader the impression you don’t care. They might buy your first book, but they most likely won’t get the next.

Once it’s released, social media will be your best friend. It’s free, so use it. Try to build your follower base to at least 500 to 1000 before you release. And please, don’t make every post or tweet about your book. Let them see your personality. The more they think you’re someone they could hang out with, the more willing they are to not only read your books, but give you reviews as well. Reviews are what sell your books to the rest of the world. So treat your followers with respect, and be personal. I only post about my book when I have something to share. Updates on new releases, promotions or sales, new cover reveals, etc. I also recommend having a blog and writing about anything but your books. It gives your fans something to read while they wait for the sequel.

You can find Michael on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Becky Wright, Author of The Manningtree Account and Remember to Love Me

Cultivating self-belief is one of the most daunting tasks as an Independent Author, but, inevitably, one of the first to master. Your story, your words, your thoughts are of course personal; therefore marketing your book is also promoting you.

The obvious place to start is with your loyal friends and family, but regards to onward marketing, think local. It’s important in the early stages to establish a readership, a following, a core group of readers who will eagerly ‘read & rave’ about your work. Once your book is in the hands of a reader, it becomes theirs; it now, no longer belongs solely to you. This is your greatest connection and tool.

Create an eye-catching Press Release, you will find numerous templates online. Think punchy and to the point – ‘who, what, when and why’. This is your press tool. Check out your local newspapers & magazines for spotlight features, book reviews and entertainment features. These are invaluable, some may jump at the chance of a local interest editorial, some may ask for an advertorial – you pay for a small advert and they give you a read up, creating a win-win situation.

All forms of media whether traditional print, or online social are a truly valuable source. Once mastered, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram will be your best buddies. But be caution, your time is precious, you are a writer, so make sure you dedicate time for writing.

You can find Becky on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

RK Ride, Author of the Stella series

To be honest, the least favourite part of my publishing journey has to be marketing! But, I quickly realised that if I wanted people to enjoy the story I’d created, I had to get my head around the fact that I needed to let readers know my book was out there.  And one way I discovered to accomplish that, was not through ‘selling’ but through ‘connecting’.  Connecting with not only potential readers, but with fellow authors too. As authors, we are not in competition with each other. When you consider how many books a voracious reader can devour in a year, compared to how many books one author can write, it makes a whole lot of sense to collaborate with and support other authors.

A common medium to connect with others is through Social Media, and while it is a fabulous medium, it can also be a huge time suck. Early on in my marketing journey, I spent a lot of time on social media, but I found that my time spent was often grossly disproportionate to the amount of sales made. Now I focus my time and attention on growing my email list so that I can connect with my followers on a much more personal, one to one basis via a monthly newsletter, while still support my colleagues by having an Author Interview section in my mail out.

You can find Rhonda on her website, Facebook, and Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

K.J. Chapman, author of the EVO Nation series and Thrown to the Blue

Indie authors are self-reliant on every publishing detail no matter how big or small. One aspect, and one of the most important, is marketing. Getting your book seen and reviewed will take up just as much time as the writing did in the first place.

I was a total newbie to anything self-publishing when I released my first book. I started marketing after publication and have since learnt that I made my life hard. Networking and building up your social media presence is vital, especially before publication. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and a website/blog are just some of the key marketing platforms to build up a target audience, open avenues for beta and ARC readers, and to garner a solid group of fans who will support your work, read and review, share, repost, host you on their own blogs etc.

One part of successful marketing are visuals to use on these various social media platforms. You can hire professionals to create your promos, Facebook banners etc. Or you can create your own as and when you need them. Here are some links to websites that allow you to create free promos and/or edit images for this purpose:

www.canva.com (this website has a fantastic array of free tools to make book covers, Instagram posts, Twitter banners, and much more.)

www.picmonkey.com (this website allows you to edit images, add text, change eye colour, hair colour etc. Useful for editing free-stock pictures.)

www.pixabay.com (this website offers numerous images released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.

I hope this has helped writers looking at going down the indie publishing route. It can be a long, tiring slog, but it gets your work out there and under your terms.

You can find Kayleigh on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Beverley Lee, Author of the Gabriel Davenport Trilogy

Marketing is an unruly beast as there isn’t an established rule book. But what does work may surprise you. It doesn’t involve spending money, just time. Support other writers. Cheer on all of their successes and be there on the bad days. The writing community is tight knit, they will do the same for you, and their readers may become your readers, which, in turn, will open up another new line of readership for you. It’s only by supporting others that we grow stronger as a whole.

If you do decide that advertising in a book promotion newsletter is for you, do your research on which are the best fit for your genre. Find out how many subscribers they have and what their newsletter actually looks like. Is it professional? (Some aren’t!) You will need to schedule well in advance though if you want to tie in your promotion with any others you are running. Some do book up months in advance so you need a marketing plan. Run a few campaigns and log your sales, rebook with the ones that give you the best return. You probably won’t even break even with the cost, but what it will do is to boost your book further up the rankings so that more people will see it. Keeping your book visible is one of the most important things that you can do.

You can find Beverley on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Ellen Read, Author of The Dragon Sleeps

After so many months writing a book, editing and publishing it, I then had to sell it. This is the most difficult of all.  I have worked in publicity/marketing in the performing arts, and although I think this was of some help, books are so very different. I researched and read everything I could find on how to go about selling my books. To start with, I had a website built. Then I started building an online presence. I started a writer’s page on Facebook and I joined Instagram and Goodreads. Instagram, in particular, was a revelation. I did not expect to find a book/writer/reader community there. Goodreads is also a great way to communicate with other authors and readers. A blog followed, although at first I wasn’t certain what I wanted to say. If you are selling your books on Amazon, as most Indie authors are, Amazon gives you an author page in US, UK, France and Germany, but not Australia and being Australian, I wish they did. However, there will always be some negatives. The thing is to work with are the positives. Author signings are a good way to get your book out there too. Sometimes I wonder how to fit in writing but it’s necessary to build followers.

You can find Ellen on her blog, website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, and Amazon.

G. R. Thomas, Author of The A’vean Chronicles

Visibility. This is the key word to demonstrate best practice book marketing. This is achievable three ways.

Social media. Used regularly, it is an effective platform to promote your book whether it be the cover, reviews or quotes, release dates and special promos.

Interaction. Be available to engage with readers and other authors to build relationships and trust. This promotes interest in your work as well as a sense of feeling like there’s a connection between the author and reader. We all know how exciting it is if we get a like from our favourite authors.

Book signings. There’s nothing like face to face interaction for you to draw a reader in and become memorable to them. Face to face signings have been the single most successful means for me in terms of sales, return customers and increase in social media following.

You can find Grace on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

A. Morgan, Author of The Siblings

As an independent author, it is key to market the story right. Some pay for companies to do this for them, or like me, prefer the cheap and easy route by doing it myself.

For those looking to do it themselves, here is a few things to consider:

– Blog it. If you have a blog, get your story familiar with your followers by posting key information, excerpts, teasers, novel aesthetics or anything else you can think of by shouting loudest.

– Tweet it. Twitter along with its hashtags help many indie authors get their work out in the big bad world. Be it via #BookBoost, #indieauthors or the simple #amwriting, many people get the chance to see it. But be careful, filling up your timeline with nothing but self promotion, it can put a lot off followers off.

– I do not use it myself currently but Instagram seems to be a popular place to leave teasers.

Also, remember what type of readers you are looking to attract. If you’re trying to sell romance to a site popular with hardcore horror readers, you may not get the reaction you desire. The internet is a beautiful place and I know next time around, I will strive to do much more in advance. Leaving things to the last minute is not ideal. Scout hashtag games, bloggers willing to read advance copies and don’t be afraid to give away some for free.

Good luck with your journey and be prepared.

You can find Alan on his blog, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Melinda Devine, Author of Gina’s Diaries

Marketing. If I had to label this word, a sticker reading ‘A necessary evil’ would be slapped upon it.

When I began writing my debut novel Gina’s Diaries, I had no idea about marketing, let alone having to market my own book and myself as an author. I mean, really? Isn’t being an author just sitting and writing and releasing book after book? The answer: no. Especially for an Indie author.

To sell my book and myself, I needed to let everyone know we existed and to do that, I had to accept marketing was just as important as the book itself.

I have found two platforms which I’m comfortable with: Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook has worked for me in letting my friends and family know about my books, where they can purchase them, giving updates on my WIP and if I’m doing any book events or anything locally.

Instagram has been fabulous in reaching a far wider audience but in also allowing me to connect with authors and readers alike. I’ve held a couple of giveaways, placed my book on sale, attempted a few teasers and learnt an abundance of marketing ideas from the ever supportive author/bookstagram community.

I may see marketing as a necessary evil at the moment but that’s only because I’m still learning how to do it. One day it will just be a necessity and then, when I’ve successfully mastered it, marketing will be a breeze!

You can find Melinda on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

How do YOU market your books? What works best for you? Grab a cookie, make a tea/coffee, and let’s chat!


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My Favourite Reads of 2016 – Indie Edition!

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A couple of weeks ago I gave a shout-out to my favourite reads this year – and today I’m doing exactly the same thing, but for the incredible indie authors I’ve discovered this year!

I know we indie authors don’t always have a good reputation, due to the ease of self-publishing. That’s why I’m hoping that you’re going to take away some great recommendations from today’s post! A lot of us really do put our backs and souls into our books, and all of the novels below are great examples of indie authors who’ve done just that.

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EVO Shift was my second read by K. J. Chapman, and the sequel to her debut novel EVO Nation. They’re fast paced, the characters are beautifully developed (especially Yana) and there are plot twists and cliff hangers everywhere!

The Siblings

The Siblings is A. Morgan’s exciting, fast-paced, action-packed debut novel. As the title suggests, it’s about a brother and a sister in a dystopian future, where intense sun radiation has destroyed much of civilisation. They get separated, and discover terrible truths about the survival of humanity.

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I couldn’t believe this was self-published, it’s that good. If a dark urban fantasy with demons, shadows and sexy vampires (the traditional, awesome, dangerous kind, not the sparkly fairy kind) sounds like your thing I beg you to give this one a go. You won’t regret it.

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I devoured all three of these. Infernal Ties is the prequel novella, so it won’t take you long at all to decide if this series is for you! I’m looking forward to reading the final book next year, too. It features beautifully vivid mentions of Prague, and the character development is superb!

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I found so many amazing indie books this year simply because I know the authors on my various social media hangouts, and Awaken was one of them. I loved the plot immensely, and am really glad I decided to pick it up. While it has some religious sub tones they are very slight and background info more than anything, and didn’t in any way effect my enjoyment of the book (being not religious myself at all). The writing had a strange familiar feel to it, and I flew through it!

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I hadn’t read urban gothic before (although, The Making of Gabriel Davenport can probably also fall into that category) so I had no expectations going in, but I loved every moment of it. It was dark, it had funny moments, and – best of all – the MC Phoebe’s sarcasm matched my own! I’ve got the sequel Crescent Moon waiting for me now, and am really excited to get to it.

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Having read Chapman’s EVO Nation series I was looking forward to seeing how she handled high fantasy. This is her first novel in the genre, and with magic and prophecy playing such a huge part in it she’s handled it rather well! If you love destined lovers, prophecy and a villain you’ll love to hate, then this is for you!

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This was two kinds of firsts for me. I’ve never read erotic novels and I hadn’t read anything by Meldon before, either, so I went in with no expectations. Since this is a novella, and fast-paced, I could easily have read it in one day if my day job wasn’t a thing *shakes fist* It features both a lot of steamy action and an intriguing plot, which has Aphrodite and Loki solving murder mysteries. You also get a small insight into old religions, which made for interesting side info!www-07122016-3

Eléonore is Faith Riven’s debut novel, but it doesn’t read like one. It’s confident, action-packed and emotional, and I’d have read the whole thing in one sitting if it wasn’t for responsibilities and the day job *shakes fist some more* My review for it went up last week, so do check it out! 🙂

What are your favourite indie reads this year? Which ones would you recommend? Get a tea and some cookies, and let’s chat! 🙂

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For all my book reviews, please take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, click me!

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Eight Writerly Routines

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What’s better than one writer’s routine? You guessed it – eight of them! 😀 As writers we’re naturally curious and, yes, nosy, so today I’m bringing you the routines of eight writers from all stages in their careers. Some of the amazing people below are at the very beginning of their game, while others have published several books already. All of them have published at least one book – which makes this post a great source of information!

For a lot of new writers the routines they’re meant to have elude them. Truth is, there’s no right or wrong way of putting the words to paper/screen, and the eight authors below show just how different a routine can be. I hope this puts your mind at rest if you’re a new writer starting out, and if you’ve already released a book baby into the scary world I hope you get something from this post regardless 🙂

Holly Evans Profile PicHolly Evans, Author of the Infernal Ties series

I was honoured when Sarina approached me to talk a little bit about my writing routine! Then I realised, with a little awkwardness, that I don’t have much of a routine. I’m one of those writers who only write when they’re inspired. I absolutely refuse to sit down and write unless I’m in the right headspace. Fortunately I write pretty quickly, so I can pull this off. This means that I don’t set aside any set time to write. What I do instead is finish up pretty much everything I have to do in that day, my freelance work, niggly paperwork, errands etc, then I relax and run the story through my head. That means that I rarely sit down and waste time going ‘ssooo… what am I writing next?’ When I sit down, it’s already straight in my head and I get those chapters written as quickly as possible.  If I can write, I do so until I can’t any more. If I can’t, I read or watch a movie.

This does get a little bit difficult when I look at my deadlines, because they’re pretty tight. I have a strict publishing schedule that means I have around about 10 weeks to produce one book, from start to finish. About 6 of those weeks, (sometimes more) is then devoted to editing so I do have to write at a reasonable clip. To do this, I do a good amount of character development and world-building, with loose outlines for the plot. I freaked myself out when I tried a truly in depth outline, I need the freedom to play and explore, otherwise I shut down and can’t do it. Knowing my world and characters gives me the space to play in, without taking away that freedom. Oh and I absolutely must have music when I write, Spotify is a godsend! All in all, it’s a bit chaotic, but it works for me.

Find Holly on Twitter, her blog, and Goodreads

kathryn-evansKathryn Evans, Author of More of Me

I’m a really busy person– I work full time on our family farm, have two kids and do a lot of volunteering plus I have a couple of time consuming hobbies. I’ve learned to jam my writing in wherever and whenever I can – It’s getting trickier now, with all the book promotion stuff, but it’s the same rules really. I’m lucky that I can work in short, intense bursts of time – give me 40 focussed minutes and I can usually turn around quite a lot!  If I can get to writing first thing in the morning, it’s usually the best time, but that’s quite often not possible. Am often writing on trains, in the hairdressers or while waiting to pick up a child from somewhere!

I’m a sort of Plonter or a Plattser…I need to know where I’m going and what the highs and lows of my story are, but then I just write. It does mean a lot of going back and forth but we all have to edit, right? I wish I could plot properly, I think it would save a lot of time – but maybe it wouldn’t, maybe all the time I spend correcting stuff I would have spent plotting!

Find Kathryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, her blog, and Goodreads

liz-meldonLiz Meldon, Author of the Lovers and Liars series and the Games We Play series

My goal is to write daily. Whether it’s just a few hundred words or two thousand, I aim to get a little done each day. Now, I write both as a freelancer and as an indie author, and I split my week up accordingly. At the moment, three days a week are dedicated to freelance work, with a set weekly word count decided in advance that I split equally between the three days. Personal work gets three days too, and Sundays are usually my day off.

Both freelance and personal writing days tend to go the same. Before sitting down to write, I go through all my social media, emails, or any other internet distractions so I don’t feel the need to check during my writing stints. Twitter distractions are my biggest struggle!

Once I’ve sorted out my online distractions, I occasionally disconnect the WIFI on my laptop so I won’t be tempted to go clicking around while writing. I then set up my timer (I write in 15 minute stints, then take a break), open my word count app, and confirm what scene I’ll be working on or what word count I need to hit.

Stretching out my wrists is incredibly important—and it should be for you too! Find a little routine that works for you to maintain wrist health. You need those hands to write, after all.

From there, I just go. I write until my timer goes off, maybe a little over, record my word count (yeay accomplishments!) then take my break to avoid burnout. Rinse and repeat this routine until my word count is hit or my designated scene for the day is complete!

Find Liz on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads

kjchapmanK. J. Chapman, author of the EVO Nation series, and Thrown to the Blue

When it comes to a writing routine, I’m stretched to pull one together. I’m a pantser and a slap dash drafter; take an idea and run with it. Every draft is a journey of discovery for me. That being said, I do keep notes and snippets of dialogue that may or may not make it into the final cut, but my most important notes are the ones I write specifically for when I get to the editing stage- aspects that need more research, or chapters to add to make the ending plausible etc. Due to family life, I have to write when and where I can. On bad days, I don’t write at all. On good days, I can manage up to 3k words or more. The triumph is getting that first draft under my belt, no matter how I do it.

Editing is where routine features more highly on my agenda. I always redraft using my notes, and more often than not, I redraft my redraft. Being a pantser, I have to sift through the ramblings a fair bit. Once the redraft is complete, I comb through the manuscript for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. A rough deadline helps me to get through the edits in time to send the manuscript to my proof reader. I’m not an editing fan, so deadlines help me to slog through it.

My best advice is to do what suits your goals, lifestyle, and your sanity. Right and wrong is subjective when it comes to creativity. Do whatever it is that helps you get that first draft written.

Find K. J. Chapman on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads

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James Fahy, author of the Phoebe Harkness series and The Changeling series

I know there are writers out there who plan every last line and detail of their books. Flowcharts, post-it notes pinned to the wall and joined to one another with a web of cotton like some serial killer’s crime scene investigation, but that’s not for me. I think too much micro-management can lead to dull writing. Your characters need room to breathe and express themselves. (within SOME kind of framework of course)

I like to initially split a novel into three ‘Acts’, as though it were a movie or a play. The Setup, the ‘Meat’ and the Conclusion. I have to know exactly what needs to happen in each of these three chunks to move the story forward and control pacing well. Once I’ve rolled the tale around in my head for a few weeks, and I’m sure of the shape of it, I’ll then usually break each of these three acts down into working chapter titles (even if these don’t make it into the final book)

It’s at this point you have to trust your characters to get you from A to Z. You’ve drawn the map as best you can, now it’s time to hand over the wheel to them and trust them to drive it forward. Hopefully, if your characters are strong and well realised, you can trust them to do all the work. It’s always surprising to me what back lanes, unexpected turn offs and occasional dead ends they take you down along the way, but it’s the absolute joy of writing just to fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

Find James on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, his blog, and Goodreads

beverley-leeBeverley Lee, author of The Making of Gabriel Davenport

I don’t have what I deem a ‘normal’ routine, as in sitting down at a certain time of day to write, but it tends to be the afternoon most recently. I like to get the real life things out of the way first as I find I can concentrate more. When I am in writing mode (as opposed to editing mode, which seems to be my default right now!) I usually have a word count for the day that I like to complete. There’s something so satisfying about seeing that number creep up daily. I rarely plan what I want to write in any session, I always just listen to what my characters tell me and where they want to go.

With all my drafts I write from beginning to end, even if I know what certain scenes will be further along. I find it helps keep me focussed more than jumping about. As far as rituals are concerned I write in silence and I have to have tea on my desk and be comfortable. Writing in lounging wear somehow makes the words flow much sweeter 😉

Find Beverley on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog, and Goodreads

alan-morganA. Morgan, author of The Siblings

My writing can be varied. I can write pretty much anywhere, but mostly use my phone (as I have done for this) using the Werdsmith app. My favourite place to write is in bed. Nice and chilled. When I was writing my first novel The Siblings, I was writing a minimum of a thousand words a day, everyday. After a few months I had a draft but it was brutal. It can be hard to keep up a schedule like that with full time work commitments, a busy home life with visiting new places and other things I like to dabble in.

I have now changed it up and write to a less strict word count. I am a pantser at heart but have been  known to make notes and outlines where necessary, to ensure that certain stories do not get out of hand. I have so many ideas rattling around right now in my mind that it’s hard to stick to one. But my main focus soon will be The Siblings Two in the new year.

Find A. Morgan on Twitterhis blog, and Goodreads

gr-thomasG. R. Thomas, author of The Avean Chronicles

Initially I had zero routine when I began writing. I was quite literally free-range. Many a post-it-note was plastered to my walls; yellow, pink and blue ones with scrawled ideas. My plotting to this day still relies heavily on voice memos and those little coloured squares.  Often though I still just write off the cuff and let the story take me where it wants to go. Characters in particular, seem to develop themselves, despite what I may actually want for them.  

I developed an effective daily routine for the writing of my second book as my life is chaotic. Three kids and a farm to run, I needed a dedicated writing time.  I began visiting my local coffee shop after dropping the kids to school. I now dedicate at least 2 hours to solid writing. Whether that is plotting, editing or putting down new words.

So, what did I discover when I treated my writing as a job? It worked! Surrounded by the smell of coffee wafting through the air, punctuated with the white noise of the chatter-chatter in the back ground, I actually zone out and achieve more than I did previously. I would often look up and the hours had melted away as the cups and saucers piled up.

This is what works for me and I love every second of it.

Find G. R. Thomas on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads

How do you fit writing (photography, sculpting, painting, marketing, etc.) into your daily routine? Get a cookie and a tea – believe me, you’ve earned the break! – and let me know in the comments!


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Review: Thrown to the Blue by K. J. Chapman

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“Foretellings have no place for goodness, only greatness. Princess Ezrahli is far from good, but she is a great woman in a conventional Kingdom, followed by whispers and scorn. However, across the waters is un-convention, magic, and fable. Her existence has been foretold in the battle against dark magic, and destiny shall weave itself into her life because darkness cannot be fought with goodness, only greatness.

Smuggling and sorcery leads to adventure, and adventure leads to destiny. Reed is a prince of the streets, but what he lacks in title, he makes up for in skill; a skill that sets him on a path already written in fate. Can he be more than what is expected? Can he enable greatness in another and survive the process?

Vengeance is a motivator, but it can never be your friend. In the end, it will ask for sacrifice, and only the great will pay the fare.”

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What I thought:

I received an ARC of Thrown to the Blue in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been following the progress of this novel on Chapman’s blog ever since she started writing it, and so was really thrilled to receive an ARC of it!

There is about five litres of blood in the average human body and that amount covers good ground. The pool of claret stretches across the marble floor, over my bare feet, and runs down the stairs. Father was an obese man, I am unsure if fat men hold more blood than most, but I am utterly mesmerised.

That is a killer opening line, people! (no pun intended…) I was intrigued immediately, and I liked Ezrahli right away. I do love a good anti hero!

Chapman does what she does best in Thrown to the Blue, and that is plot twists. You think you have the characters figured out when she reveals something new, and it kept me on my toes. Don’t trust anyone! Also, don’t get too attached to anyone – but I’ll get to that in a minute 😉

The dynamic between Ezra and Reed was instantly intriguing. You could tell there was something there from the moment they first met – and that’s exactly what this book is about! Their connection, and the fate destiny seems to have in store for them both.

But the highlight for me was the villain, Lyerdith. A truly evil witch who stops at nothing to get what she wants, including the murder of unborn children. She’s an antagonist I loved to hate long before she made her first appearance!

Now, about what I said above about not getting attached to anyone – Chapman has proven before that she doesn’t shy away from hurting and killing her characters, and she’s proven it again now. Many of the characters don’t make it – that’s all I’ll say on this subject 🙂

There were only two things that bugged me a little, and that was how quickly the relationship between two of the characters developed. I’m not a big fan of insta-love, and to see them get engaged and married within weeks of having met was a little too fast for me. I feel like their relationship didn’t have the time to develop, and so when they rushed into getting married it felt more like infatuation than true love to me. The other thing was the lack of a map. Chapman has created a fascinating world, and I would have loved to be able to see where the countries are in relation to another – especially the Coven since it played such an important part in the story.

So, to summarise: Thrown to the Blue was a gripping book with strong characters which I definitely recommend! If you enjoy stories about fate, destined lovers and some very dark magic, then you’ll enjoy this one! Its release day is tomorrow, the 11th November, so add it to your tbr lists if you haven’t already! Clicking the book’s cover above will take you straight to the Goodreads listing 😉

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Have you already added Thrown to the Blue to your tbr list, or are you tempted? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

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WWW Wednesday 9th November 2016

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This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Why not join in? Just answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

WWW WednesdayThis meme will be categorised together with my book reviews. All links will get you to the book’s Goodreads listing, as always 🙂

Prepare yourselves, it looks like I’ve speed-read my way through the last two weeks! In reality I didn’t finish one because it didn’t feel like a finished book to me, and another was really short. So it’s not as impressive as it looks 🙂

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What I’m currently reading

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Isle of Winds

I’d been meaning to read this for a while since I loved Hell’s Teeth, but it turns out Isle of Winds is nothing like it! It’s a completely different genre, and it’s every bit as magical as you might expect, say, a Neil Gaiman novel to be. I fell in love with the effortless writing style and the ease with which magic flows into our world immediately. I’ll likely finish this today, so watch out for my review on Goodreads later this week, or early next week!

Blurb:

Isle of Winds is the first instalment in a Middle-Grade age fantasy series

Robin Fellows lives with his grandmother and lives what appears to be a rather ordinary life for a normal twelve year old boy.

But when Robin’s Gran dies, quite suddenly and a bit mysteriously, his world is turned upside down. A long lost relative comes out of the woodwork and whisks him away to a mysterious new home, Erlking Hall, a quiet estate in the solitary countryside of Lancashire.

Suddenly Robin must adjust to his new reality. But reality is no longer what he thought it was…

Erlking has many secrets – as do his newly found Great-Aunt Irene and her servants. After a strange encounter on the train and meeting a cold, eerie man on the platform, Robin begins to notice odd happenings at Erlking.

There is more than meets the eye to this old, rambling mansion.
Little does he know that there is more than meets the eye to himself.

Robin is the world’s last Changeling. He is descended from a mystic race of Fae-people, whose homeland, the Netherworlde, is caught in the throes of a terrible civil war.

Not only this, but in this new world there is a magical force that has infiltrated the human realm.

Before he can wrench power from the malevolent hands of the Netherworlde’s fearsome tyrant leader, Lady Eris, he must first search for the truth about himself and the ethereal Towers of Arcania.

The first instalment of The Changeling Series, Isle of Winds is an engrossing tale written in the traditions of high fantasy story-telling while carving out a magical new realm. It is perfect for fans of The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series.

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What I recently finished reading

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Thrown to the Blue

Exciting stuff, guys!! Thrown to the Blue is out in two days!! (*ahem* I enjoyed it a lot, if you couldn’t tell by my excited shouting)

I was really happy to receive an ARC of Thrown to the Blue, and devoured it! My full review will be out tomorrow, one day before its release, so keep an eye out! 🙂 Alternatively, my review is live on Goodreads already!

Blurb:

Foretellings have no place for goodness, only greatness. Princess Ezrahli is far from good, but she is a great woman in a conventional Kingdom, followed by whispers and scorn. However, across the waters is un-convention, magic, and fable. Her existence has been foretold in the battle against dark magic, and destiny shall weave itself into her life because darkness cannot be fought with goodness, only greatness.

Smuggling and sorcery leads to adventure, and adventure leads to destiny. Reed is a prince of the streets, but what he lacks in title, he makes up for in skill; a skill that sets him on a path already written in fate. Can he be more than what is expected? Can he enable greatness in another and survive the process?

Vengeance is a motivator, but it can never be your friend. In the end, it will ask for sacrifice, and only the great will pay the fare.

and…

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The Last Day of Captain Lincoln

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

I have mixed feelings about this. I did like it, and I love that it made me think about our mortality, but to me it felt more like a creative essay on mortality than a novel. It was definitely interesting, but the blurb tells you everything you need to know: It’s one man’s last day alive, going through his routine – no plot twists, no surprises. It’s just not that kind of book.

My full review is live on Goodreads and Amazon already, and will be published here in a few weeks, too 🙂

Blurb:

Captain Lincoln’s last day is the hardest day of his life.

An old, onetime Captain of the interstellar spaceship USNAS Hope Eternal, Lincoln always knew that this day would come. For just as birthdays are carefully planned, so are deaths. And although he must reckon with his fate, this is not a somber story. It is a tale of love and sacrifice, told in the context of the most advanced civilization ever to exist—a society that has taken to the stars in an effort to save all that is best in humanity.

Follow Lincoln through his internal struggles, his joy in having lived, and his journey to peace.

The End is just the beginning.

and…

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The Finite

I received a copy of The Finite in exchange for an honest review – so, hard as it is, that’s what I’m going to do here. I hate writing reviews for books that didn’t work for me. The blurb is what got me hooked on this one, and the idea was great, but it was let down by the execution and lack of editing. This had no editor and no beta readers that I can tell, and because of that it read a lot like a first draft for me. There was so much potential there but it wasn’t ready to be published.

I’m going to leave it at that. In my opinion this wasn’t finished, and because of that I’m not going to review it properly. If the author ever comes back to it and gives it the edit it deserves I’d be more than happy to give it another go.

Blurb:

Claudia lives in the hoop, a space city that orbits around earth. She follows the rules her society built for everyone. Just like everyone in her society, perfection is essential to maintain a peaceful society. Without war, or destruction. Claudia discovers that people gone missing. There were wicked plans for the abducted people. She meets Ricky Maxwell from earth, and starts an alliance with people she met from earth. She and her friends sit to find the missing families, and try to stop wars between planets.

and… (nearly there, I promise)

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Manhatten (Lovers and Liars #1)

This really wasn’t my usual kind of read, but I felt like something different and the author is so lovely and sweet on social media that I decided to give it a go. I’m really glad I did because it’s really well written and the story ties in perfectly with the smutty bits 😉 I loved the concept of ancient gods who’ve lost most of their power because people no longer believe in them or have forgotten about them but still live amongst us (Aphrodite works as a columnist), and will definitely come back for Book 2!

Blurb:

The glory days of Ancient Greece are long gone, and the gods of the Old World are scattered across the globe. As their popularity dwindles, as their worshipers forget, their power fades. Luckily for Aphrodite, she’s a household name. After all, how could anyone ever forget the Greek goddess of Love?

Unfortunately, no one seems to know or care about her divinity. In a world of skeptics and technology-crazed mortals, loneliness and boredom have taken hold. Her life consists of romance advice columns, martini bars, and flings with empty-headed men—until she meets Loki.

She’s intrigued: it’s been decades—centuries even—since she laid eyes on another god, particularly one outside her pantheon. In their short time together, she realizes just how much she needs the companionship of one of her own. Loki, however, seems more interested in catching a murderous maenad than swapping stories about the old days.

Can she convince Loki to stay and make her life a little less lonely, or will he persuade her to join him on his quest for more worshipers? His questionable tactics make her uneasy, but how can she turn down the opportunity to live as she once did: freely, powerfully, and lustfully as Aphrodite of Olympus.

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What I think I’ll read next

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Fay Storms

This is the last of my review copies, so once I’ve read this I can get back to my tbr tower! I’m really looking forward to this and will make sure that my kindle is charged by (hmm… what seems realistic…) tomorrow?

After Fay Storms it’s time for a longer book, I think. I’m quite far ahead in my reviews since my last few reads have been quick, and since I only post one a week, losing one to author interviews every month, I’m pretty far ahead by now. I don’t have many really long books on my shelf, so the decision should be simple 🙂

Blurb:

Thief by trade. Half-breed by blood. Fifer is part-Fay and all pluck.

When her partner goes missing and she is abducted by demanding clients, Fifer finds herself trapped in a plot she wants no part of. By fulfilling her contract with the Aestus, the brotherhood of powerful and secretive warriors, she will discover that she’s not what she thinks.

The Aestus need her—even though Arkadius, Master in training, can’t see it. In order to stop the Aestus clans from warring among themselves, Arkadius must rely on Fifer to steal a powerful magical artifact. But how can a woman save the mighty Aestus? When he discovers the answer, the fate of the Empire will rest on the edge of his sword.

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Have you read any of these and would like to chat about it? I look forward to hearing from you if you do – just leave a comment below and we can get this book club started!

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