Showing posts with label john hennessy author of dark winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label john hennessy author of dark winter. Show all posts

Thursday, 1 January 2015

How to Overcome Your Writing and Self Publishing Worries in 2015 (and beyond)

First of all, happy new year!I hope 2015 delivers all you want from it.

Many of us have the same worries about different aspects of our lives, but for writers (and for the purpose of this blog post I am focussing on the independent and self-published amongst us), what drives us to commit countless hours in front of a white screen, filling it will words that hopefully make up a coherent story.

It's far from easy, and surely, better things to do with our lives.

My main profession is that of a martial arts teacher. It started out very difficult. I knew I was a good teacher, and I knew I was a good martial artist, and I believe I am better in both aspects today.

It's what keeps a roof over my head, so you bet I pay attention to it.

In 2007, I had begun making extensive notes for what emerged as my first book in 2011, The Essence of Martial Arts.

What had started as a extended notation exercise quickly turned into something else. I found I actually enjoyed the creative writing process. This was a life-changing thing for me, because as soon as I finished, work began on a new story; albeit a fiction one.

I never knew what a huge undertaking that was going to be. My first non-fiction book was 170 pages long, but I put my heart, soul and twenty years martial arts experience into it.

I was interviewed on radio; I started to get a trickle of reviews on Amazon. I had not even heard of GoodReads back then. I was disinterested in yet another social media site. But I was happy to be wrong - GoodReads is anything but that, and I have made many friends and heard from terrific reviewers during my time there.

Then something happened to me. I started to wonder if I could make it as a writer. Against a lot of odds, I had made it as a martial arts teacher. Considering I was a very poor fighter at school, I went through a savage fire in order to beat my fears and confound worries to the trash can forever.

Having established myself in my given area of expertise, why was writing distracting me? Surely only the canniest and most cunning of people made it as a living. I wouldn't go as far as JK Rowling or Stephen King because they are in a different league to most of us mortals. I'm more mortal than most.

I know my limits too. But that didn't stop me penning Stormling, my first fiction novel. My other half read the draft, expecting it to be of a Tolkien level. I knew that my writing might never be that good, but it would be my own style of writing, and it would be raw, and real. That says to me, that I was writing for the right reasons.Not money, not fame.

But that is not a business plan. It is not good marketing. It's a terrible propect for the future, if one is to make a living off writing, which I aim to do.

Worrying that You Can't Make It as a Writer

Yes, we all have those worries, and I wouldn't believe someone if they said they never worried about it. My motivation is to one day replace the income from martial arts, with a solid writing income. Without troubling the number one spot in the Kindle lists too often, I have seen a sure and steady income this year from writing.

This is not Year One. We are into Year Five of this project. It's hard. There are down days. But there are more up days than not. Inbetween, I don't worry. I have to write, keep writing, keep working on the craft.

At the time my editor said that, I thought it was too obvious. But I needed to hear it. I needed to keep working on the craft. One book wasn't going to do it for me. And readers deserve better than that. They need to know you have put your everything into writing what they are reading. Make it easy for them to like you, root for you, and look forward to your future releases. Treat your readers like gold - because they really are and should be treasured as such.

Worrying about stuff you cannot change is plain stupid. Worry about the stuff you can change, then, when you have done all you can, move on.

Aspiring to write the book is not the same as writing the book. You may aspire to get out of bed ten minutes earlier in the morning, but unless you actually do it, it remains aspirational. It won't help you make it as a writer.

Whatever you have to do to get that book written, do it. You may even have to  be a bit selfish to get it done. Your other half may get upset that you spend more time in front of the computer than with them.

Sorry to say, it's not likely to happen unless you knuckle down.

Once it is done, revel in your success as a published author. Amazon has levelled the field. Just make sure when you plant your flowers, they are blooming red roses, and not the kind of weeds everyone tramples over.

You probably won't be revisiting this book again. You will have to move onto other projects.

Write it the best you can. Edit the best you can. Get a professional cover (Photoshop may be great, but poor Photoshop skills will rat you out). Have a killer synopsis.

Tell your friends. Build a Twitter and Facebook following.

And repeat.

To summarise - worrying paralyses you. I know you know this, and for sure, I've done it too.

I've survived two serious health scares since the turn of the century, and I can tell you, I am done with worrying.

I write because it makes me happy, and yes, I'm making some income.

I'm not under any pressure at all >>>>

Not much, anyway.

Here's my link if you want to check out what I do when I'm not teaching!

My Amazon Books List

You can do it too. Quit the worrying and hit those keys.

Good luck!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Weekend Writing Workshop #2: My Tips for Writing and Getting That Book Written - Part Two

If you missed the first of my Weekend Writing Workshop tips, then check out this link:- Tips #1

This week, I continue my tips. Whichever ones work for you, build them into your routine, and you will achieve great success! This is what I am wishing for you, and for all of us.

6. Lack of self-belief is your biggest enemy.

There you are, with a great sounding idea in your head. You start writing. Maybe you've already done the synopsis, or you haven't. Maybe you have the story in your head, and just want to get going without fully thinking it through.

But you must start somewhere. There are countless websites and books that will say 'oh you should do this - I did and I sold xxx amount of books'  and others will say 'oh you should do this' completely contradicting the other website.

Ignore them, because whilst you view the pros and cons, you are not writing.

But I digress. Procrastination is a killer of most things, but you need to believe in yourself if you are to get the book written (even if it is a book about self-belief!!).

Family may or may not support you in this venture. Same goes for friends - on and off line.

Writing is a lonely process. But if you have something to say, and you think it could be better served outside of blogging, then get the book done. Believe in yourself. Let no-one say to you 'you can't' when you can. Let no-one affect your goal. Otherwise you, who believes you have a book in you, will never get it done.

It's the fear of the thing, not the actual thing, that is scary - am I right?

Yes. I fear that terrible review. I fear the sales hitting the floor. Or worse - I fear not being able to write something good - something that I can believe in.

You may be thinking - 'but who would really want to read my story?' Well, let me say this - Hollywood pumps billions into making, producing and distributing low brain - high octane action movies (yes, Jason Statham, I am talking about you!) and it's has an audience. Not every movie has to be The Piano or Schlinder's List. I enjoy action movies. I love the stupidity of some of them. But they make money - because the studio believes it will.

The point is, even the worst ones make money. You can make money from your writing enterprise but you know - or may not know, the full extent of the amount of work you are going to have to put in.

But you can perhaps only put out trash once. Reviewers can be very unforgiving, and friends may get bored of you if you have 'yet another book' coming out. Not always the case, but you must push on nonetheless.

Why? Because you are a writer. You have a story to tell. Believe in it and yourself, and there is nothing you cannot achieve.

7. Give yourself a structure.

I like structure. I like process. Affect me in any way, and it could upset what I need to achieve that hour / day / week / month.

For some, it is writing for one hour in the morning before you go to work. For others, it is writing late into the small hours. But do give yourself a structure. Commit to finishing that chapter, or that word milestone, or simply getting particular scene as best as you can.

Don't let it become a chore, though. Actually, even when I knew my writing was substandard, I would still type away. It's like a pianist (also a hobby of mine) trying to find the right note or chord. Keep going. Give yourself a structure. Never stop until you have achieved your goal for that day, and if you do under hit or under achieve, resolve to fix it the very next day.

8. Pick a genre you like, not the hottest thing around.

The beauty of books is that they can be picked up at any time, and can contain absolutely anything within its pages. Imagine this - you read The Hunger Games, loved it, and thought 'hey, I can write a dystopian novel and it will be a hit because it is all the rage now.'

What happens? Many authors try it - Keira Cass, Veronica Roth, and so on. And your interest wanes because it is getting rather samey.

So if you are really set on writing the hottest thing right now, I think you can still write it, but it may get swallowed up by the Suzanne Collins and Co machine!

Quality is quality though - if you can write a quality book, then it will be found.

9. Allow yourself down time and down days.

There are days you simply won't want to write, nor be able to write. So allow yourself these moments of down time. Don't punish yourself. It happens. You have so much going on in your life that you can't focus. But the next day, it's better. And you can focus. Then you write, and you actually write better than you would have if you had forced it.

I'm trying to give myself the weekend off from writing, so that my body can heal from the teaching I do, and my brain can heal from the writing I do. Whatever works for you, do it by NOT doing it!

Go to the cinema, grab an ice cream, go shopping, see the football game, hammer the playstation.

But live.

10. Write the synopsis.

This is a very hard thing to do unless you have a real handle on your story and characters. Who do you mention? Who do you leave out? What significant event can be mentioned without giving the story away? What hook can you include that will make people want to read?

For my first fiction book, Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle, I managed to include two things that I wanted.

i) The short story hook the reason why the book is engaging and should be read
ii) A diary style entry that would get you into the character's head.

The Short Story Hook:-

Romilly Winter is no ordinary heroine, just an ordinary one. 

She has a gift. She can see the future. But can she see far enough? The world in which she lives is under attack - the dead are rising, and evil follows her at every turn.

Will she be able to save herself - and the world?

The synopsis cannot make you care about Romilly at this point, but it does give you an idea of the difficulty in which she finds herself. The cover gives you some idea, but raises more questions than answers. Can she save the world, indeed. If the story is total fantasy, you will have trouble caring about that. But this paranormal tale is told with elements that you have to believe are real, and could happen. That's why the short story hook works.

Again, if you missed the first of my Weekend Writing Workshop tips, then check out this link:- Tips #1

Happy reading and writing!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Book Review #26: The Modern Man by Cristiane Serruya


I do love a well written philosophical book, and one of those that affected me the most over many years is Bruce Lee's Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

I am an experienced martial arts teacher, but when that book was written, it was ahead of its time. Bruce Lee was ahead of his time. Arguably now, only some of his concepts are being truly understood. I continue to wrestle with them myself.

The next thing to say is that I am a fan of Cristiane Serruya's works, without necessarily being a fan of 'hot romances'.

But her TRUST trilogy was, and is, a revelation.

So where does The Modern Man stack up? Written by the author when aged just 18, it shows a great maturity and, in relation to Bruce Lee - someone else who was ahead of her time.

At times, the book seems dream-like, almost stuck between the haze of half-sleep whilst dealing with the brutality of life. Some may even view this as a pro-feminist text. It may well be, but that's not how I took it.

It is a complex narrative, but beautifully written, and every single line engages you. It is a book worthy of many, many re-reads. In The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, many sentences deserve multiple re-reads.

I have read other philosophy books, but few as good as the one I mentioned. Now we can add this one to the list.

One of the most striking parts of the book, for me, was this:-

'The man has forgotten what is hot or cold.

He forgot what is wind or rain.

The man forgot the elements of Nature.'

I believe this is one of the most damning judgements on our lives today. We are controlled by our electronic devices, that makes me actually shudder at former Sun Microsystems supremo, Scott McNealy, who said 'we want everyone to be connected, everywhere.'

I thought that was a fine ideal at the time. Since then, Sun has gone the way of the technological dodo, and Mark Zuckerburg wants us checking Facebook even when we are outdoors!

No. Let's reclaim our place in the universe - with Nature at our centre.

I'd like to think this is the message the author wishes to convey in those few sentences, but I expect it runs much deeper, much more meaningful than that.

I would like to think Miss Serruya is working on a new non-fiction text. One wonders what she would treat us with.

If you want a book that will make you THINK - get this book. It's wonderful, but not in the literal sense of the word. It is not an easy read, despite its brevity. But then, it doesn't need to be long.

The best authors know when they have arrived at the final page.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Weekend Writing Workshop #1: My Tips for Writing and Getting That Book Written - Part One

I remember an interview on Michael Parkinson's long running chat show where he interviewed Sir Anthony Hopkins.

MP: So how did you get into acting?
AH: By accident, really.

What did he mean by that? Surely someone as good an actor as Anthony Hopkins, who I first saw in The Elephant Man, later, The Silence of the Lambs, and understated but beautiful films like The Remains of the Day, would not have fallen into acting by accident? Yet, that is what he said on the show.

It's true that I've always enjoyed reading and writing. But my start - the actual beginning of getting something down that would end up in a book, was slightly accidental.

As a martial arts teacher, I often scribble down notes outside of the syllabus I am actually teaching. The notes would run and run. It grew legs, you might say. And the first book was created some two years after I finished my scribbles.

So maybe I started by accident, but the basics were always there. I liked reading and exploring new worlds. That's what a book is - an unchartered world and especially so if it is a new author.

So here are some of my tips for writing and getting the book done. I cannot stress the latter part enough, because if it remains as a file on your computer, that's what it will remain. At some point, let it go.

1. Tell the story you want to tell, not the story others may expect of you.

You can write. You have a story, an idea, and you want to flesh it out, and get feedback. I would recommend that if you do have a story to tell, be it fiction or non-fiction, perhaps you should tell it to yourself first.

You will have your influences, but do not write in their voice, no matter how tempting it is. Find your own writing voice. You have to be the next big thing, not the new 'whoever it is.'

If you constantly seek out advice from others, authors or not, you will be stuck in an ever-depressing circle of 'if only I change this, it will be better.' Only you can know that for sure. Be the authority on writing that you want to be - not in an arrogant way, but as a writer confident of knowing their subject and doing it better than anyone else (hopefully) !

2. Fight for privacy in a very open world.

Writing is a private thing, but in today's fast moving and demanding social environment, you are expected to share, share and keep on sharing. No bad thing in itself, but in a bid to be heard we've sometimes given in to
Amazon free downloads and the campaigns they entail. Do they work? Only if they give you long lasting exposure and a real climb up the rankings. Otherwise you fall off the radar very quickly.

When you write, get your writing space as you want it. I have heard from family that 'a writer can write whenever and wherever'. Spoken like true non-writers. For me, I need peace and quiet. That means house empty or those in it keeping the noise down, and the cats....they must be fed.

Otherwise you will find these time-eaters destroying your project. It's not that you shouldn't care about these things, but those in your life must support you too.

Shut the door, unplug the phone, cut the internet connection. And start writing.

3. Goals - Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly

What are your writing goals? To 'write a book' is a fine, and yes, realistic goal. It won't be done without hard work, and without a plan.

People, life and other things will mess up the plan. Don't let your writing be the be all and end all (unlike the very funny scene in Blackadder with Dr Samuel Johnson!!!) -

you've got to be alive and living in those around you. So what should your goals be, when there are so many Time-Eaters around?

Every day, write something / plan something / note something / read something.

Because you may not be able to write every day, not even a hundred words. Am I joking? No - life gets in the way. The people in your life are a priority, but no matter what you do, life will play out the way it is going to play out. In the end, the book lives and dies with you. If you don't get it done, you will be in a continual spiral of hate and self loathing - at least I feel like that sometimes!

It's no-one's fault but your own, if that book doesn't happen.

So....Every day, write something / plan something / note something / read something.

You will reach your goal.

For some, it's writing 250 words of absolute clarity that somehow, they know will make it into the book. These words won't be deleted. 

For me, it's anything between 200 and 5000 words a day. And I will probably end up deleting a lot of it and re-writing it (more about drafts in a future post, but if you want some motivation about getting to that first draft and editorial critique, read my thoughts on it here).

Some make a plan at the start of the week to state that 'by the end of this week, I will have written 10,000 words / completed four chapters' and so on..

But - It is not just about a word count. Whatever you write, it must be quality. I don't speak as an expert, but I am probably my own worst critic, so any abuse I received in real life or on-line no longer hurts. Get something quality written, and how it looks to you - that is the most important thing.

Then, under your critical glare, if you believe you have written something of quality, find an agent, get a publisher, or go independent. But if you have done all you can, let the book go with your good wishes.

Then work on the next one.

In the end, your writing goals can be summarised into one goal - get the book done. Nothing else is relevant.

4. Handle your time better.

You cannot save time, but you can manage it better. Ask yourself truly what your on-line presence actually adds to your daily life. If it impacts your writing, take a break from it. Your true fans and on-line friends, as well as real life friends, will understand, wait, be supportive, and will be there for you when you return.

Don't simply dump or ignore them though. They've invested in the friendships and you do need to maintain them. If they remove themselves from your life, as people do sometimes, let them go. Their loss.

Do prioritise. Your writing is a personal project, that at some point, you can involve everyone in. Not to beta read, not to critique as you are learning your craft - there are professional editors who you can and should pay for proper, brutal critique. Others, who may handle you with kid gloves (but made from real kids) are perhaps not the best ones to assist you.

Maybe you are a morning person. If so, get up even half an hour earlier, and start typing. You'll be amazed that you can get 500 words down in half an hour or less!

Whatever works for you, handle your time better. Phones are a necessary evil, but that doesn't mean you have to answer every time it answers. Turn it on silent. I do!

5. Show interest in others, and LISTEN.

Whilst you are writing that first mega blockbuster, as much as it is exciting to talk about the project, it can't always be about you. Show interest in others, ask them about their day, don't just ping them on facebook - write an email, phone them, chat on-line or in real life. But take interest in others. One of the most valuable things I have learned is to listen to others. Not whilst playing with your phone or iPad. Put it down, and listen.

Why? Will it get you more sales? Who knows, who cares? But the people you interact with will recall you as someone who is interested in them.

This may seem to go against the whole 'get your book done and written' principles above, but once in a while, you have to take a break, look up, and see the world around you. Maybe your fantasy world is a great escape, and that's fine. But if you deal with the real world, and do it properly, you can spend more time in your writing world.

More tips next week on WWW - The Weekend Writing Workshop.

See also: Editorial critique and how it helped me

Happy reading and writing!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Book Review #24: Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass by Rick Smith

In the minefield of books, it is difficult, if not near-impossible to select a book you will be happy with. Sure, you can go by the reviews, but ultimately, you go with your gut (unless you have bags of time and money) and with Amazon's Look Inside feature, or the sample you can send to your Kindle, you can get a good feel for a book without actually buying it.

If you are an author, at whatever stage you find yourself, at best, this book will certainly help you sell more books and at the very worst,  you will have learned something about the dark arts. I'm not talking about witchcraft - I am talking about Marketing.

This book is the perfect guide to assist authors who want to publish on Createspace. It's amazing what assumptions people make - the typographer for one of my books said 'Oh all you have to do is send me your Createspace template'...I had no idea what she was on about. That was more than two years ago now (scary) and I can say I do know more about Createspace and what it does.

There are no assumptions that I could find in this book, just clear, concise facts and it is a truly excellent step by step guide to help with publishing on Amazon, which is the easy part. The dark art of Marketing, however, is covered extremely well here and even though I majored in the discipline, that was years ago before the age of social media. The basics of marketing and sales have not changed since the dawn of time. There is a market and there are sellers that operate within that market.

All one has to do, is provide supply for the demand. What demand though? How can you create demand for your book? My other half has a way of putting it, whenever I go into overdrive about one of my favourite books:-

"Whichever book you have, you will still want a new one, a new story, a new adventure. People always want something new."

That's true, and I feel she is right on this. I may love Lord of the Rings, but people will always want the new Lord of the Rings, the new Hunger Games, the new Harry Potter. Dare I say....the new Dark Winter book?

This book helps someone like me....who admits to not being very good at promoting or marketing himself. That's not because I lack confidence - it's more about that I don't want to be a nag, and I believe that if people want to read my books, then they will. I just needed a push to say 'hey, read my book' once in a while, whilst hopefully being supportive to others.

Rick Smith has organised the thoughts we often have, turning them into meaningful actions, and you'll find yourself doing it.

I am trialling a few things from this book:-
  • Doing the Createspace edition first, not the Kindle version
  • Joining relevant groups without being a PITB (pain in the butt)
  • Taking myself seriously as a writer and involving people I know in the process

The last point is very relevant for me. My first non-fiction book came out in 2011, and it was a full two years before I had a meaningful non-fiction book to push out. Two years! Now I do believe in quality over quantity, but we can write more faster than we do. It's shameful when you think about the time we waste.

I have the Kindle version of this book, but I am inclined to purchase the paperback as there is information that may get by you on the e-book. The print edition would force to write your little darlings. Yes, the words nag at you, but unless you park yourself in that chair and disconnect the internet - the words will not get done. Once they are done, you will need a constant reminder to push the book out.

Things I loved:-

"People frequently fail at new things they attempt simply because they do not have a system to follow."
True. Give yourself a system, and follow it, follow it. Follow. IT. (That's enough of the CAPS fury!)

"99c/99p is the new free." 
Yep. 'Free books' don't have a value attached and I am not certain they create run-on sales. My first non-fiction book sold just fine without a free book promotion. That doesn't mean I haven't done one; I have, just in my view they do not work. Rick is right - 99c does at least give you a bump up in the early weeks when you are trying to get traction.

"Even in the lower reaches of the top 10k, you'll be moving anything up to 500 units a month."
Doesn't that motivate you to get there too?

Finally, I have to say thanks to my good friend and fellow author Elizabeth for recommending this book. You see, friends, recommendations are so important. We need them. So get reading, get reviewing, and get productive making the best book you can. Give the readers a professional, awesome book that they will happily recommend too!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Book Review #23: Embers & Ice (Rouge #2) by Isabella Modra

    "Everyone is wrong about hell."

Rouge#1 was a throughly entertaining ride which introduced us to high-kicking heroine Hunter.

Rouge#2, which is a continuation of the story, is even better. Titled Embers & Ice, and complete with yet another stunning cover, one wonders if it could match the first story, or hopefully - better it?

I bought the paperback version of this book, and it is truly awesome to have on my shelf.

From the very first line:-

"Everyone is wrong about hell."

you, dear reader, will be hooked.

Embers & Ice raises the intensity of the first and then some. I relate it to being thrown into a cement mixer at high speed and ejected at said speed. That's what this book is like. I may have mentioned in my review of Rouge#1 that you could definitely see this on the big screen.

The author, Isabella Modra, is in clear command of her universe and you can tell she had great fun pulling us along with the story.

There are no filler chapters in the book and even though it ends with a 'what the hell happens now' scenario, you will want to know what does happen. Middle books of series are so hard to write - they are not the first nor usually the last in a series. Thankfully this is a fantastic middle book, and sets up the finale which I am sure will be awesome when it finally lands.

In addition, the paperback version is beautifully presented. The typeface is gorgeous and totally relevant for this kind of tale.

My favourite scene in the whole book was between Hunter and Will. Not to give the game away, but Hunter uses her incredible fire power (literally) to turn the tables on Dr Wolfe (a cool bad guy, but you'll hate him anyway).

Why I loved this book:-

Fantastic story.
Great characters that are not limited to only the main protagonist.
Hunter is a fantastic, believeable heroine. She is not needy, is tough as nails (but not in a plastic, predictable uber-heroine kind of way) and just keeps on going. Why wouldn't you root for her?
Romance is there, but thankfully kept to a minimum. This book is all action.
The bad guys are cool. You hate them but you cannot ignore them.

And here is perhaps the best praise I can give for this book:-
Katniss Everdeen has a new competitor for my heart and mind!
I'd like to see Saoirse Ronan play her in the movie.

I cannot stress enough how important reviews are. This book, and its counterpart, deserves to be read by many people. It's perfect for YA, but anyone with a pulse will enjoy the stories.

Bring on Book Three. We are waiting!

In summary: My favourite YA book of 2014 by a country mile.

Author Website:

Amazon Page for Embers and Ice 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Paranormal Haunts#1 - A Visit to Snowshill Manor

Snowshill Manor House

Set right in the heart of the Cotswolds, Snowshill Manor is a fascinating retreat, that, as ever with these places, is pretty hard to find, even without the map. I visited the place yesterday. It's about 50 miles from where I live.

I've wanted to go for ages, having heard about the ghost in the greeen dress in Ann's Room, or the duel that two men had in the most uppermost room. One died, of course, and still haunts the place today.

Scare rating 3.5 out of 5 :-

I'm undecided about this one.The house certain has 'something,' - I wasn't scared there but it just has a feeling of claustrophobia about it. But that is the case for many of these old houses. But there was plenty here which with to help my writing. Sometimes you simply have to get away from typing and get out in the big world.

This is from the National Trust website:-


Snowshill Manor is a Cotswold manor house packed with extraordinary treasures collected over a life time by Charles Wade

Inside these rooms you can discover this eclectic collection that he restored and displayed. We have maintained the atmospheric settings he created with low lighting and few labels. From tiny toys to Samurai armour, musical instruments to fine clocks, thousands of objects are laid out for you to see just as Mr Wade intended.
The garden is the perfect place to unwind and explore hidden vistas, quiet corners and unexpected delights including Charles Wade’s uncomplicated home, the Priest’s House.
“Let nothing perish” was his motto, and his life was dedicated to doing just that. From the everyday to the extraordinary, you can discover his passion for craftsmanship, colour and design."

Beautiful views of the Cotswolds surround you.

These quotes are dotted all round the place, from the house's most recent owner, Charles Paget Wade.

Look at the strange trees!

More wisdom from Mr Wade

Sheep enjoying themselves. I wish it would stay that way for them!

When writing a book, you need details. Even something as subtle as brickwork, and how you describe, can make it feel so real to the reader. The reader then becomes more involved, so that merely reading the book becomes replaced by a much more enriched experience.

Another view of the Manor.

There were apples, plums and tomatoes for sale. The honesty box for those who would pay (we did!)

Stunning views of the Shires. I think we are very lucky in England to have such views available to us.

One the many curiousities kept by Mr Wade, who was collecting since he was seven years old.On the first floor there is a rather stunning but scary collection of life size Samurai warriors which lay in the dimly lit Green Room. Charles Wade acquired them once the Second World War had ended. 

The site was full when we arrived. So many people visit these places!

Says it all.

I love the detail of this wooden door which adorned the priest's house.

You can enjoy more pictures down below, or find out more about Snowshill Manor here:-

Friday, 15 August 2014

UPDATED!!! Cover Concept Reveal: Murderous Little Darlings

This is the cover concept (1) for my forthcoming series of vampire novellas, the first book is called Murderous Little Darlings. Let me know what you think!

Here is cover concept (2) and I think the text is clearer here. Thoughts?

Here is cover concept (3) and I think the title SHOUTS so you can't miss it! Thoughts?

Synopsis (from GoodReads) :-

Three siblings. An endless list of victims. A whole lot of time to kill.

* * *

With two specimens of the undead on either side of her, Juliana knew there was no escape. Kill the one they had selected for her, or be killed, and become one of them. What had the neighbours in the road called them, back when their childhood pranks were just that? 

Oh yes, she remembered now. Murderous Little Darlings. They had the faces of angels, but possessed the very soul of the Devil. 

Marcus had fully embraced his vampire side from the moment he was born. Rocco was the second eldest, and had fought the temptation all of his life. Then Marcus finally broke him.

That just left Juliana. Will she resist them, or join in the hunt?

A black comedy from the author of Stormling and Dark Winter

Monday, 11 August 2014

How This Successful Author Just Keeps on Writing - A Profile of Barbara Taylor Bradford

Barbara Taylor Bradford has sold 85 million books worldwide and is the best selling author of A Woman of Substance.

Her story is rather interesting because she doesn't allow allow anyone - not her husband, not her editor, no-one in fact, to read her manuscript until it is completed.

In my dealings with GoodReads, I find it interesting that giving out advanced copies is almost becomig the norm. I expect Miss Bradford would recoil in horror at giving her books out ahead of publication.

Still, her process in writing is interesting.

She gets up at 5am on most mornings. Mine is close to 6:30. If she has a chapter of a new book to read, she will read it whilst making tea. I do that too. I don't grab my iPod's always a book.

Miss Bradford and her husband have just celebrated their 50th anniversary, and for the last 18 years they have lived in New York on 52nd Street. She has a housekeeper who cleans every day, because she finds it impossible to write novels and scrub the floors.

If only I could do that. Of course, I could say that my writing is too important to start what I will do is keep the house as clean and clutter-free as I can. I hate an untidy home. But I have no cleaner or housekeeper, so when I am asked how I find time to write a novel, I simply say 'because I must find that time, no matter what.'

This author writes by hand. She will then type it up, edit where needed, fax to a typist, who puts it on a disc, sends the edit back, so that BTB can type it up again.

On starting a new novel, she says, " I already have the story in my head, including the ending, so I begin with an outline, and write consecutively - page one is always page one."

I totally agree with this. Even if you know the ending, don't rush to write it. Ease it out, and it will come. When you're finished, you will know it. I don't think that is something they teach in creative writing class.

I hasten to add that I haven't read any of the author's books. But I was interested in her writing process. I think the main point I wish to convey is to say that authors simply have to write. If it is not happening for you, take a break, go for a walk, whatever it is. The ideas will come.

If you are an author, I wish you luck in your writing and happy reading to the rest of you!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Cover Reveal Day! Dark Winter: Crescent Moon

Cover reveal time!

Well everyone, here it is. The second story in the Dark Winter trilogy is subtitled 'Crescent Moon' and you'll notice that significant things happen throughout the story, but especially when a crescent moon turns up. You need to remember these points as they link to the final part of the story (due 2015)

For those of you who haven't read Book One: The Wicca Circle...get stuck in - I think it's on silly-O-price on Amazon at the moment.

If you like witches, demons, ghosts, serial killers, straight-up horror shocks as well as psychological horror, this is the book you simply have to get. I'm not going to say it's scary, I will let readers be the judge of that. If it scares you in the day as well as the night, I consider my job done! Funnybones are easy to find, but what about your scarebone? It's there in your body...I promise you that!

Continuation, not sequel

The book follows the events of Book One very closely, though the time period of the majority of the book is eighteen months after The Wicca Circle ended. If your favourite character or characters survived Book One, what do you expect from Book Two? Anyway, I hope you'll like it and give an indie your support :)

Please add to your GoodReads pile. I know, I know. You have so many to-read already. But I wouldn't ask unless I thought this was worth your time!

Recommended for...

YA, but don't expect it to be too light. Don't let the pretty girl on the cover fool you. It's paranormal, but not overdone on the romance. There's a story to tell, we need to advance the tale, not hold it back. It's quite adult in parts too. So if one website rates The Wicca Circle as 15 rated, this is certainly 15 and up. Might be even an 18 in some parts. I think it's for everyone except the very youngest of readers.


Final edits for the proof are in the mix now, so expect an announcement for a giveaway soon.

Happy reading!!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Knowing Your Audience - Is Your Book More 'Adult' Than You Think?

Dark Winter #1: 15 and up? really?

Do you ever pick up a book, and...(if it's not in the horror or erotica section, where you expect it to have adult content)...are you surprised / shocked / repulsed at certain content that seems to go against the grain of what you previously read?

My first paranormal horror was aimed squarely at Young Adult / New Adult readers, but I felt that almost anyone could read it, though certain scenes could be thought through by parents to see if it was suitable for their children.

 I don't necessarily set out to offend, and at its core, Dark Winter is a tale about survival against overwhelming odds, good versus evil, finding oneself is actually stronger than originally thought possible. These traits and theme are all positive ones, in my view.

So whilst I put a disclaimer that the book is not for the very youngest of readers, I was surprised to see the book rated as 15+ on some websites.

I do recall an issue of Fangoria that said that for horror film makers, anything less than an 18 rating would result in a smaller audience, not a larger one. But I don't know about that. The BBFC rated The Blair Witch Project only for people of fifteen years is one of, if not the highest grossing horror film ever. Made for a paltry $35,000 dollars, I believe it has taken over $600,000 at the box office. Small sum today, but back in 1998, very significant.

With the second Dark Winter book on its way, I'm of course hoping that those of you who read The Wicca Circle will want to read the next book in the trilogy, Crescent Moon. However, I would be the first to concede that this book does have 15+ rated content, and certain scenes could be considered even 18 rated.

However, I can promise you that it will be a good horror yarn, and that you will want to know how the series ends.

My question then - do you find certain ratings prohibitive, or would you be inclined to buy a book / see a film BECAUSE it had the higher, more adult rating?

If I were to answer this, I would say that as a teenager, I wanted to see the 18 rated films well before I was 18. Now, it kind of doesn't matter. But 12 and 15 rated films are certainly more violent now than when I was younger. Times are ever-a-changing.

Thank you for reading :)

Sunday, 30 March 2014

How Can We Protect Our Precious Books?


Before the dawn of the Kindle and other e-book readers, there were paper books. Thankfully, there still are paper books, and whilst my old Kindle packed up a while ago, I am getting myself a replacement.

I'm terribly proctective of my books. Often they will come back in a very different state to the one in which they were lent. Which begs the question - why would I lend my books out?

Well, as many of you will know, it's about sharing. You've read the book, so you want another's opinion on it.

The two latest victims of my lending out are Emma by Jane Austen, and The Hunger Games (1) by Suzanne Collins. Even my first edition copy of Carrie by Stephen King was mysteriously borrowed, even though my lady claims to not like horror, citing that my little story gave her 'two nightmares' (result!!).

Given that Carrie is much more scary and gory than my own paranormal horror, I was wondering why she borrowed it :D

The Emma cover is a bit of a special edition again, I hope that comes back okay.

However, I have to go back to 1981 to tell you a real horror story. Back then, we didn't have central heating in our home, and water pipes would often freeze. My 'older folks' solution? A rather bizarre attempt to keep the pipes from unfreezing by placing a lit candle in the bath.

Now before you say 'well why didn't you say something' it was because I was very young, and being the youngest of my family meant I definetely would not be listened to.

Well. The room caught fire, and my bedroom, which was situated above the bathroom, got the brunt of the fire and smoke as well.

No-one was hurt, so that's all good....but my very early editions of the three Lord of the Rings books had been under my bed at the time. If I had put them in my bookshelf they might have survived. Alas, they were ruined.


How can we protect our books?

1. Buy our loved ones a Kindle (could do, but expensive)
2. Never lend them out to anyone ever again (that would work but you can have book conversations except with yourself then)
3. Announce that you have 'given up reading' (I don't believe anyone will believe that in my family)
4. Announce that book lending to family members has been outlawed by the government (I can see that working on some members, not others)
5. Lock them away safely. And don't ever put candles in baths. (yes and yes).

Before I go, what's happened to Emma, Carrie, and The Hunger Games?


  • Carrie has been returned, albeit with the cover slightly curved (grrr)
  • Emma is **somewhere** (I'm sure the urban dictionary - or the police -  can explain this)
  • The Hunger Games is lost....because my mum won't 'fess up, claiming it was returned to me because (gulp) 'It's too heavy a read, I couldn't get into it.' I will have to buy a new copy.

"You didn't lose my book? Oke.Ay."

I avoided getting into 'well I'm not talking to you Mum, because you don't care about Katniss. You think you have problems? What about the poor folks in District 12?'

I avoided it for two reasons.

1. Mum is heavily biased....she's read my Dark Winter book twice now, and thinks it's brilliant (thanks Mum but you really are biased)

2. It's Mother's Day here in the UK.

So happy Mother's Day, to all mothers out there.

I'll be keeping my other books under lock and key for now.

Happy reading!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Book Review #11: Trust - A New Beginning by Cristiane Serruya

Trust: A New Beginning (Trust, #1)

Isn't it great when you just come across a book and it really peaks your interest and it happens to be completely out of the blue? For me, Trust - A New Beginning by Cristiane Serruya, was just like that.

I love thrillers, and this is a smart, savvy, sexy and brutal story that really is quite gripping from the off. Now I have no problem with stories that start slow so long as they build into something meaningful. 

With this story, there's no need to worry. And whilst time is taken to describe things accurately and with almost painstaking detail, it doesn't detract from the story, or slows things up.

If anything, you need this kind of literary diversion, so that you can catch your breath. Yes, the scenes are not just hot, they're boiling, and engaging to read. 

The other scenes that are quite intense refer to the Trust of the many ways this book is about broken trust, and the aftermath of it, which leaves everyone shattered. As I approached the end of the book, I already knew there were additional books in the series.

That's great because I want a bit more back story on the main characters. Sophia is a great character whereas some of the male characters switch from protagonist to antagonist in a flash...though on further re-reads I understood why this is so.

As always, writing full reviews can spoil things. Suffice to say, Trust is one of the best thrillers I have read in a long time. Cristiane Serruya is an intelligent, exciting writer, and no doubt I will be reading more from her, and I suggest you do too.

Rating: On GoodReads I gave this five stars. Every single one was deserved!

Book Description

They are beautiful and rich. They are strong willed and successful. They have everything, but love.
Sophia is a 25-year-old Brazilian and a widow. After a tragic incident, she flees from her own country. Despite her beauty and charm, she hides from everyone and everything and remains alone, torn between the love for a dead man, the torment of living without part of her memory and the fear of moving on.
Ethan is one of the most important tycoons in the steel industry. Traumatized by an awful event in his adolescence, he searches for an elusive woman whom he could love - and who would love him - as he never has in all his 35 years... Until he finds Sophia.
Alistair is a 34-year-old powerful banker, searching only for one–night stands. Devilish and ravishing, and also guilt-ridden and angry, he has no trouble finding women who will indulge him in his desire to physically punish them to abate his own tortured soul.
In Europe, in the months after October 2009, their paths will cross and clash. Who will win the prize of love?

About the Author

Image of Cristiane Serruya

Cristiane Serruya lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with her husband and two teenage daughters. She majored in Fine Arts and Law, and has a Masters in Business Law. She is also specialized in cases of sexual abuse and violence against children and women. She has been working as a lawyer since 1991. She is widely traveled, having lived and studied in Brazil, England, France, Italy and Switzerland. After twenty-two years of practicing law, Cristiane decided to give writing a go. And - amazingly - it was just the piece that was missing in her life. Cristiane Serruya can be found online via her website ‘’.

Biography (by Cristiane Serruya)

I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with my husband and two daughters. I'm a lawyer, with a Masters in Business Law and I have great interest in cases of abuse and violation of human rights of children and women, having two thesis on the subject. I also have a BA in Fine Arts. I've always loved to read, write and listen to music. I lived and studied in England, France, Italy, Switzerland and, of course, Brazil.
After twenty-two years of practicing law, I decided to give writing a go. And - amazingly - it was just the piece that was missing in my life.
You can get in touch with me on my website:
Or like my Facebook author's page:
Or follow me on Twitter: @CrisSerruya
All my three books already published have been awarded Gold and bronze medals. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Early Spring Update and New Book Announcement!

Hello all. It's been a hectic and challenging few weeks both on a personal and professional level, but I believe very strongly in setting goals in front of us. I believe it's one of the most powerful things a person can do. If you set a goal, you consciously move towards it. Even with all the on-line tools available to us, I still use a traditional diary, and in it, I'll be quite obsessive about what I list down. Because if I ink it, it has to happen. They have to be achievable goals and ones that are within your remit. For example 'I want to win the lottery' is great until you realise it really is out of your hands. For that reason alone, I have a go on the lottery every month, sometimes every two or three months. I have to stay practical.

 Writing wise, it has been going well. I haven't been blogging or reading as much, and that is the sacrifice you have to make if you want to get some serious writing down. So, where am I at? The Kindle version of The Essence of Martial Arts: Special Edition, is on Amazon now, with a print edition to follow. This is the version I really wanted to do, as the original publisher made me clip a lot of what is in here, from the original.

Dark Winter, the first fiction novel I published, passed 1100 copies sold this week. I think sales are picking up again after I got the title removed from some high profile Torrent sites. Remember that Chrome has a 'flag' tool for illegal content, so it's worth flagging these torrent sites as and when you see them appear.

 The print edition is also out now, but you could win a copy by entering the Goodreads Giveaway here:- Over 700 people have entered so far. If you are one of them, good luck!

 I actually WON two books in a giveaway, Tom Reinhart's Saint Monolith amongst the books that are winging their way to me :) And in April, there will be the release of DUN DUN DUuuuuuuunNNN, a new story!

 It's called Stormling, and is a fantasy novel that has been in development for nearly three years. I am hoping I will do the genre justice. It's a far more complex story than Dark Winter, but lighter in tone, so I hope it will win more fans. I plan to release the e-book and print version closer together, if that will offset the piracy crew. We can but hope. The cover is being worked on right now, and the initial reveal will be given by Chanzie@MWYA! The edits on Stormling are what takes up most of my time at the moment, but heavy writing continues apace on Dark Winter (Book Two) and I'm 55,000 words in on what will probably bust another 90,000 words when it is done. So that's me. I will try and post more often. So what's been happening with you all? See you again soon.