Thursday, 29 December 2016

Fairy Loot: Unboxing A Book Box Subscription

For my last blog post of 2016, I'd like to share one of my favourite Christmas presents with you -  a book box subscription.

Earlier in the year, I posted about book box subscriptions and how I couldn't find any that appealed to me based in the UK. Postal and import duties costs meant using an American or Canadian provider was a no-no, so you can imagine my joy when I discovered there are now a handful of UK based services. For a really good roundup of these services, visit Strupag.com.

I decided to get my first book box from Fairy Loot, my choice heavily influenced by December's theme - Sci-Fi Adventure. I would like to try a box from Illumicrate, My Bookish Crate, and Nerdy Bookworm Box, but at the moment Fairy Loot ticks all the right boxes for me (excuse the pun). I'd like to share my unboxing pictures with you, so you can get an idea of the kinds of things included in a subscription service and why they're such a great gift for readers.


December's box was delivered as below. I was impressed
by the obvious thought that had gone into the packaging.


The inside of the box has writing on it and a fairy 
tale quote on the front.


On the opposite side of the art print seen above is a brief 
description of the contents. The list has a spoiler alert 
at the top, so I chose to read it after unpacking the contents.

 

The first item I saw was a Pop! Funko Yoda. Very impressed!


The next two items are exclusive to this box and Fairy Loot 
- kryptonite fairy dust from Geeky Clean and galaxy socks.


The Luncar Chronicles art print and Red Rising buttons 
below are also exclusive items.


The Way Down Dark sampler and The Long Way To A 
Small, Angry art print are bonus items. The beautiful 
watercolour bookmark from Amie Kaufman is another 
exclusive item. 


The book itself came in a Fairy Loot book bag, 
which I love.


Unpacking the book bag was the most exciting part, because
I had no idea what book I'd receive. A quick read of the blurb
and I knew this was a one I'd have chosen myself. The book
bag also contained a signed bookplate, letter, and bookmark
from the author. Lastly, an author interview by Fairy Loot.


The boxes impressive contents.



Final thoughts: A book box subscription is a fantastic gift for readers, but at between £28 to £32 it isn't cheap. Having said that, the contents of the box easily add up to what you pay and many of them are exclusive. The price also includes postage. If you can afford to give it a try, do. You won't be disappointed.

That's it for 2016. Have a Happy New Year!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Happy Holidays!


It's time for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Whatever your holiday plans, may they be filled with love, laughter, and peace!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

CassaDawn by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Christmas has come early, my friends. Alex J. Cavanaugh has released a prequel to his superb CassaStar series!



A pilot in training... 

Fighting the odds, Byron is determined to complete Cosbolt training. Poised at the top of his class, only one situation holds him back–his inability to work with anyone in the cockpit. Byron’s excellent piloting skills won’t be enough without a good navigator…




iTunes / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / 
Kobo / Amazon UK / Goodreads


One to add to your eBook reader!

Friday, 9 December 2016

IWSG: Better Late Than Never


My apologies for posting two days late. I actually thought I'd never find the time to write December's Insecure Writer's Support Group post. I was not defeated, though! 

This month's IWSG post is the last of 2016. Hard to believe we've nearly taken another trip around the Sun. Talking of trips, I spent a few days in the Lincolnshire countryside last month. Miles from anywhere, soaking up the stunning sunrises and sunsets, I had plenty of time to reflect on the last few months. One thing I realised was I hadn't talked about my writing insecurities in October's and November's IWSG posts, which is actually the point of the group. Mea culpa. I won't forget today.

As this year ends, and another peeks around the corner at me, I'm left feeling both elated and frustrated. 2016 has been a game changer for me. I started the year living alone and single, and I'm ending it living with my new partner. I couldn't be happier. It's been an amazing year, full of many happy memories, and I'm looking forward to what 2017 will bring.

What's the catch, I hear you say? While I did find some time to blog, write a few thousand words, and read a handful of books, it was a fraction of the time I'd normally spend on those activities. My writing really has been put on hold. As much as I've loved the last few months, the desire to write is still burning within me. I know I need to approach 2017 with a whole new attitude. Of course, I'm full of the usual doubts and insecurities about how I'm going to make it happen. How will I find the time when I sometimes blink and a week has passed without me even turning on my laptop? When I love spending time with my other half? Make time! I hear you say. You're right. My other half has spent enough time telling me the same thing. 

As a first step on the road to making time in 2017, I've bought myself a Self Journal. If you've not heard of this Kickstarter funded, three month journal, visit the Kickstarter page or their website to learn more. I used a Self Journal in early 2016, and it really did make a massive difference in my productivity. It helped me to clarify larger goals, break them down into achievable steps, and prioritize time to work on my goals every day. The twice-daily journal entries kept me on track. For me, it was worth every penny. So, I'm starting 2017 in the same way.


Pebbles has promised to remind me to fill it in every day


Now for December's IWSG question: 

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what's your plan to get there?

I don't have the answers to either of these questions. However, I will by the end of January. One of my first goals for 2017 is to revisit and update my original writing plan. So, if it's okay with you, I'll be answering this question late January. 

How about you? Do you have a writing career plan? What tools do you use to stay on track and boost producitivity?

Monday, 21 November 2016

Crystal Collier's Timeless Blog Tour


Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and introduce you to YOUR Maiden of Time doppelganger! I took the test and was thrilled to find out Alexia is my doppleganger. Read on to discover yours.


In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?


BUY: Amazon | B&N

GUEST POST


Have you ever met someone who looks and acts like someone else you know?

These doppelgangers exist in life, so it makes sense they would exist in literature. Today, you can meet your alternate ego in the Maiden of Time trilogy. Answer 5 simple questions to find out which character is most like you. (Some villains included.)



Look at that! You're a story book character. What do you think? Didn't like your match? Maybe should have picked something else? Try again. Share your results. Buy the books and learn more. (Did she really just say that? Yes, yes she did.) You can also enter to INSTANTLY win some really cool prizes below.

Who is your ideal book character match? (Inside or outside the Maiden of Time trilogy.)


Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

Find her online HERE.




(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)

Congratulations, Crystal!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

IWSG: Being A Writer & #NaNoWriMo


November is my favourite month of the year. The nights are drawing closer, a riot of leaves are falling, and National Novel Writing Month kicks in (more about that last point later). There's something special about rising early to write, frantically upping my word count, while darkness still shrouds the world outside my door. Talking of November and writing, it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post.

The brainchild of the always supportive Alex J. Cavanaugh, the group's purpose is to share and encourage. A place where writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Now for November's IWSG question: 

What is your favourite aspect of being a writer?

Aspect, as in singular? You mean I can only give one answer? No. No. No. Sorry, guys. I'm going to have to cheat and give two aspects. Firstly, it's when I'm in 'The Writing Zone'. When the words are literally pouring out of me, characters and story sparking into life. When the real world is forgotten and replaced by something that seems utterly real, despite it existing only in my head. It's like a drug, only with positive side effects. Secondly, being part of the most generous, warm, and supportive community I've ever known. There's something truly special about the writing community, and its ability to nurture and guide writers of all levels and all achievements. I can honestly say I've never had a bad experience with, or been given a reason to distrust, the writers I've met during my journey to where I am now. I see no evidence to believe my opinion will be changed.

What about you? What is your favourite aspect or, if you're a rebel like me, two?

On to NaNoWriMo. I'm sad to say I won't be taking part this year. I know in my heart I don't have the time needed to write 50k in the next 30 days. Forty plus extra hours at the day job and only one week off instead of my usual two severely limit my options. Even then, I'm away during that one week. So, rather than exhaust myself, I'm passing on it this year. However, I'll be cheering on my writing friends who are taking part, offering virtual hugs, snacks, and a kick up the butt if you need it.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Christine Rains's Dark Dawning

My long-term blog followers and friends will already know how much I enjoy sharing new book releases, especially those of friends. It's one of my favourite blogging activities. This week I'm thrilled to highlight book one in Christine Rains's suburban fantasy series, Totem. If you haven't heard of her thrilling new series, read on.



It’s a dark day when someone murders one of their own.

Shifters across Alaska are going missing. When up and coming interior designer Ametta Dorn rescues the gorgeous Kodiak shifter Lucky Osberg, she comes into the crosshairs of two relentless hunters. While Lucky sets his sights on wooing her, the killers seek to not only capture her in her powerful polar bear form but to also take her skin.

To prevent her murder and the deaths of other shifters, she must work with Lucky to track down and stop these merciless hunters. After all, their enemy’s plan for shifter skins is something much more terrifying than collecting mere trophies.


Wow. Did book one's blurb have you reaching for your ebook reader? Me too, Here's where to find Dark Dawning:




Congratulations, Christine! That's it for this week. I'll be back on Halloween. Evil cackle.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Book Bingeing & Ghosts of Fire

I love finding new authors. What I love even more is finding they've already published several books, meaning I can binge read their work. It's like discovering an amazing television series after it ends and being able to watch back-to-back episodes whenever you wish. Last year I downloaded a free copy of Legacy Code by Autumn Kalquist. I was so entranced by the characters and the premise, I'd downloaded and read all five books within a month.


There are of course drawbacks to book bingeing, like matching up print editions when they've gone out of print. In 2012, I read Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett's The Long Earth. While I adored the hardback cover, I was disappointed in the book and decided not to read the subsequent releases. The problem was I fell in love with each book cover as it was released. In August this year, I finally caved and decided to read the second book in the series, The Long War. Being somewhat of a completest, I had to get it in hardback even though it was out of print. It took a while, but I found one in a reasonable condition.

The Long War was, in my opinion, a far better than the The Long Earth. So much so, I've decided to read all five books in the series. Getting hold of the matching hardbacks has taken time and much searching. Thankfully, as you can see above, I now have books one to four and five is still in print.

The same thing can't be said of my Pittacus Lore books. I have books two through five in hardback. I cannot find a hardback copy of number one or six. Number seven is still in print. I hate that they don't match. I guess the lesson to be learned from this is to buy books when they're released, not a few years afterwards.

Talking of releases, I have one to share. The third Elements of Untethered Realms anthology, Ghosts of Fire, has been released. If you've read one or more of the first two anthologies or any of the authors featured, you'll know what a thrill this speculative fiction anthology will be to read.


From USA Today, Amazon bestselling, and popular science fiction and fantasy authors comes Ghosts of Fire, a supernatural anthology of ten thrilling tales. Meet paranormal detectives, imprisoned dragons, dark demons, cursed jewels, and handsome prophets. Explore shifting realms trapped in mirrors and a disturbing future where a president aims to rid the world of Otherkind. Ghosts of Fire is the third, long-awaited Elements story collection from the dynamic and inventive Untethered Realms group.

"The Flaming Emerald" by Jeff Chapman: When Orville finds an emerald in a pawnshop, Jimmy suspects there's trouble ahead, which is precisely what they encounter, trouble of a very weird and supernatural kind. Will they rid themselves of the cursed jewel before the flames scorch them? This is another story in Chapman's Huckster Tales series.

"The Cost of Greatness" by Meradeth Houston: The newly elected President swears that he will rid the country of Otherkind, no matter the cost. When violence breaks out, one question must be answered: what is the cost of peace?

"On Day 168" by Cherie Reich: For 168 days, a dragon imprisoned Astryd in his cave, but the chieftain's daughter has escaped to discover the dragon may not be her only enemy. This story takes place several hundred years before Reich's series The Fate Challenges.

"The Vagaries of Eloise Stanton" by M. Pax: Lucy's family disappeared when she was a child, lost in a world of mirror. No one believed her, yet the reflections of her family's faces haunt her, plead with her for rescue. On the verge of at last being reunited, Lucy must battle the cruel woman, who isn't quite human, standing as a barrier between the two realms.

"Mind the Gap" by Gwen Gardner: Carl James wants to impress the lovely Detective Inspector Madison Perry by helping her catch an international art thief. Little does he know how his world will change when he steps through the ancient standing stones and finds himself an unintentional Gap Walker.

"Ryan" by Misha Gerrick: As the oldest griffon in existence, nothing thrills Ryan more than hunting down Aleria, the most powerful phoenix alive. But when the blitz traps both immortals in a struggle for life and death, he discovers she might be more than his prey. She might be his salvation. Ryan and Aleria's stories continue in Endless.

"Rollerskate Boys" by Catherine Stine: An old shoe warehouse seems like the perfect place for artist Lily to set up a studio. But after moving in, she is tormented by startling clatters in the hall and the ghostly trails of boys on roller skates. When a deadly fire erupts, she's no longer sure of what is real and what's a figment of her nightmares.

"The Torchbearer" by Christine Rains: Sent to a dark crossroads by Hekate's command, Desma must listen to the words of a handsome prophet whose ominous message mystifies her as much as he captivates her.

"In Plain Sight" by Angela Brown: Kazel and Amandine are best friends with their own little secrets to hide. When a boring study session at the library comes to a screeching halt, it forces them to put all their cards on the table and into plain sight. Readers of Neverloveand Frailties of the Bond will enjoy the return to the Shadow Jumpers and NEO worlds.

"Demon in the Basement" by River Fairchild: A man returns to his childhood home, determined to destroy the evil residing within it... or die trying.






Do you book binge or prefer to read books with the natural gap in between? Does it annoy you if you can't get matching sets of books? Have you added Ghosts of Fire or one of the other anthologies to your ebook reader?

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

IWSG: When Do You Know Your Story is Ready?


Another month has passed, which means it's time for another IWSG post. 
The brainchild of the always supportive Alex J. Cavanaugh, the group's purpose is to share and encourage. A place where writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Now for October's IWSG question: 

When do you know your story is ready?

I can answer this question with three words: I don't know.

From the first draft to beta-readers, there is never a point when I can say a story is ready. There is only I hope it's ready. At some point I have to let go and trust it will be good enough. I wish I could have answered this month's question with something more insightful or profound, though I suspect I'm not the only one who will answer the question in this way. As always, I'm curious as to how or when you decide a story is ready. 

While I've got your attention focused on IWSG, did you know they've announced their second anthology competition?

This year's chosen genre is fantasy, and the theme Hero Lost. The competition is open to any member of the group, so start sharpening those pencils! Full details can be found here


You can read the 2015 winning entries in Parallels, Felix Was Here.


That's it for this month's IWSG post. Time to visit some fellow members.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Helping Writers One Story At A Time

Writing is a struggle. Not just creatively, but financially. Unless you're lucky enough to have a rich patreon as Harper Lee did, you'll be balancing the cost of writing alongside all the daily expenses of living. There are times when there is nothing left. We writers have to become creative in raising the funds needed to publish and to get our name out there. We have to find ways to pay for editing, cover art, promotion, and so on, while we wait for the book, the one which will sell thousands of copies and fund future releases.

How do we raise the funds needed? Fellow Untethered Realms member Misha Gericke is trying to answer that question by taking two very different routes - fiverr and Patreon. 

I love Fiverr. If you need something done at an affordable rate, it's the place to look. When I purchased new covers for my short story collections, I bought them from a pre-made book cover site. They weren't expensive, and I was not charged extra for a few minor tweaks. When I realised I needed 3D renders, and the same site charged $30 per cover, I knew I had to find an alternative. One quick fiverr search and I found someone who would do all three for $15. It wasn't a tough choice.

Apart from the obvious cost-saving element of fiverr, I've often wondered if it's a viable way to earn money myself. There are of course well established members offering everything from cover design to editing. But like any new starter, they would have started at zero and built their reputation from there. So, Misha joining fiverr has given me the perfect opportunity to learn what it takes to succeed. I will be following her progress with keen interest.

Misha is a talented writer and driven in her desire to succeed. If you use one of her services, from beta reading to mentoring, you'll get the very best she can offer. Drop by her fiverr page and take a look at what she's offering. If you need any of those services and you'd like to help another writer in the process, why not give Misha a chance? 

The second route she's taken is Patreon.



Patreon is radically different to fiverr. Much like Go Fund Me and Kickstarter, it's a crowd-funding site. However, there's a big difference. Rather than trying to raise a fixed amount for one big project, patreons pledge ongoing monthly amounts. Pledges can be as little as $1. Misha does a great job of explaining how it works and why she's joined here. In short, it's not so much about the money, but about getting her name out there. 

Over the years, I've read some scathing attacks on authors using crowd funding sites to raise the money needed to publish. There are those writers who believe it's lazy and bad form to ask for help. Writers should shed blood and tears to raise the money needed to publish! While I appreciate their perspective, there are writers like Misha who are already working a day job, another job offering writing services, as well as trying to find the time to write themselves alongside the milieu of daily life. In the end, they don't have any time left to earn extra money or promote their books. Should these writers give up their dream because they fall just short of what they need? I'm sure you'll have already worked out my answer.

I'm keeping everything crossed for Misha. It's time all her hard work paid off.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

News from the Book Realm

I love sharing book news from my fellow Untethered Realms authors, so today's post was a joy to put together.

Coming this October is the third elements of Untethered Realms anthology, Ghosts of Fire. If you've read the first and second anthologies - Twisted Earths and Mayhem in the Air - you'll know you're in for a treat.


To find out more and read exclusive sneak peeks, blaze your way over to the Untethered Realms website.


Christine Rains has revealed the covers for her upcoming urban fantasy series, Totem. Aren't they stunning? The first book, Dark Dawning, is released on October 17th. All three are now available for pre-order.




Freefall, M Pax's Backworlds Book 7, is on its way! The first draft is completed and the editing has begun. I'm especially thrilled about this piece of news - I love this series. If you like science fiction and space opera, Backworlds is a must-read.


That's it for this month's book news post. Do you have any news you'd like to share?

Thursday, 8 September 2016

It's A TV Show Jim, But As We've Known It

If you're a Trekkie like me, you'll know September 8th 2016 is a significant date for its fans. Fifty years ago today the first episode of Star Trek was aired on NBC, and one of the most iconic and fan-loved series began its journey.



My love affair with Star Trek started during re-runs of the original series in the late 1970s. I was allowed to stay up past my bedtime to see it, and though I watched many more science fiction shows during that time, nothing compared. If I had to put into words what it was I found so fascinating, you'd have to read straight on until morning. So, I'll try to shunt the deuterium from the main cryo-pump to the auxiliary tank and keep it brief.

As I've said many times before, Star Trek was different. And I liked different. I always have and always will do. To me, having a crush on a pointy-eared alien seemed natural. Wishing there were more scary aliens in the next episode was something everyone should want. Dreaming I'd be a science officer on the Enterprise seemed way more appealing than becoming a hairdresser or air stewardess. Why would anyone want to stay on Earth when there was a whole universe out there to explore?

Star Trek was certainly the trigger for my life-long fascination with all forms of science fiction, be it TV, films, or books. It's the reason I started writing. My earliest attempts at writing were poorly written fan fiction. Of course, not all the souls I've encountered have understood my fascination. Like Khan Noonien Singh, they task me! I win them over, eventually. Resistance is futile as my other half now quotes on a regular basis.

Today I shall be celebrating all things Trek. I'll watch some favourite episodes from all the series, perhaps a film, and end up wishing I were young again and about to discover a TV show with strange new worlds. Then I'll smile, because there's a new series coming in 2017.

Live long and prosper, my friends.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

IWSG: Finding Time to Write


It's time for September's IWSG's blog post, which seems to have come around faster than the Enterprise travelling at warp nine. At least it feels that way to me.

What is the group's purpose? To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

September's IWSG question: 

How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

This month's question left me with a dilemma, because I'd already discussed finding time to write last month. To be fair, I talked more about a lack of time rather than the finding of it. However, the group members who read my post did offer some fantastic advice, some of which I'm now implementing. Housework? Not until I've hit the keyboard. Asking for time-out to write and not feeling guilty? Yes, and yes. Saying no to people without having to justify my reasons? I'm working on it.

Today I'd like to talk about a condition that can be a challenge when it comes to making time to write - Clutter Phobia. The slightest thing being out of place or unwanted interloper will have me rearranging my entire writing area. Desk messy? Take everything off, clean, and then rearrange it. Mountains of writing stuff needing to be sorted and refiled for the thousandth time? Do it now, because you sure can't start writing until it's done. 

It's not as bad as it sounds, and I'm sure a large part of it is procrastination. However, I've considered this issue for some time now and decided on two separate strategies to stop the constant need to tidy and rearrange my desk. 
  1. Go through years worth of writing detritus and separate it into 'keep, place in garage for storage, or bin'. Store everything in the garage except for laptop, printer, stationery, relevant writing books, and the files and notebooks for what I'm currently writing. 
  2. Every evening, give my desk and writing area a quick tidy and polish before bed. No major re-arranging allowed. 
I completed step one on Sunday. I went through the usual stages of denial, including telling myself I needed everything and the most random of objects was a much-needed writing totem. After a couple of traumatic hours, with boxes being packed and unpacked and packed again, three boxes of writing stuff went into the garage. What was left went into a trunk I bought a couple of weeks ago, which is to the left of my desk. As you can see, there really is nothing left to rearrange. At least that's the plan.

Clutter phobia be gone!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Wherever I Lay My Laptop That's My Home

Back in May I blogged about my house move and new writing area that overlooked the garden and apple trees. It was an inspiring view. However, the light was making my laptop screen too reflective. Even with the curtains closed and the screen turned up to full brightness, it became a mirror. I could manage during the dark winter months, but the rest of the year it would be just about unusable.

Thankfully, there was a solution - moving into a different room. This was something my other half and I were going to do regardless, we just didn't know if we could fit my writing area into the room as well. After several weeks of redecorating, multiple pencil drawings of possible layouts, we finally got there. Here's my new writing area:


The desk is bigger than it looks, with plenty of room for my writing books on the left and a large draw for all my pens and post-it notes (Like many writers, I'm a post-it note hoarder).

 

The files for my current writing projects are to the right of the desk. We'll be putting in shelving behind the curtain on the left, which will hold all my files and folders. I will still need to close the curtains when I use my laptop, but it's no where near as bright as the other room. It's also much cooler, as there is a patio door I can slide open.


As you can probably tell, I'm still Spock-crazy!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Animated Book Covers

I've started reading the final book in Stephen King's Mercedes Killer trilogy. I love the characters in these books, especially Holly Gibney. I shall be bereaved when I finish the final page.

While searching for a book cover image to add to the 'I'm reading' tab on the left hand side of this blog, I came across an animated cover for End of Watch. My first thought was, wow. The moving fish are perfect for King's latest offering (I won't say more than that for fear of giving away the plot) and the animation grabs your attention. Then, how long have animated covers been around? I'm assuming not long, because this is the first I've seen.


My third thought was, I wonder if anyone on Fiverr does these covers? I couldn't find anyone, but I'm sure it won't be long. Of course, I'm wondering how hard it would be to do it myself. I like a challenge, but I fear this is beyond my limited capabilities.

What do you think about animated book covers? Have you seen any more? Do you know anyone who creates them?

While I'm on the subject of reading, if you look to the left you'll notice my pitiful Goodreads challenges stands at just nine books. I had set myself a target of 75 books this year. Unless I break both legs and spend weeks in traction, there's more chance of me visiting the International Space Station than reaching my target. It's been that kind of year so far. The funny thing is I'd planned to do a monthly post on the books I'd read each month of 2016. Sometimes you have to know when to change plans. Perhaps I should start at the end of this month? Give myself an incentive to make more time to read.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My First Insecure Writer's Support Group Post


It's the first Wednesday of the month and I've finally joined the Insecure Writer's Support Group. I'd planned to sign up back in January, but for a myriad of reasons it never happened. So, today is my first post.

What is the group's purpose? To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Before I answer this month's IWSG question, I'd like to share what's making me insecure at the moment - finding time to write. 

My life has radically changed in the last three months. I've gone from living alone, and with plenty of time to write, to living with three housemates and my new partner. It's always busy. There is always a list of jobs around the house and garden that need completing. I still have family commitments. I still need to make time for friends. All of those things need to be fitted around work. 

I get frustrated when people with an abundance of free time fail to understand how little I have, and then angry if they try to guilt me into doing things. Of course, I'm always too polite to say anything. You see I've never been good at saying no. I feel guilty when I'm unable to make time for friends or family. When something needs sorting or cleaning in the house, I feel like it's my responsibility. Yet I know that saying no occasionally and expecting others to take on tasks is what I must do to make time for my writing. Will I still feel guilty? Yes. Will I let that stop me? I have to answer no, because the other option is unacceptable.

Do you struggle with balancing writing with all the other parts of your life? Do you have trouble saying no?


August's IWSG question:

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?


The first piece of writing I was serious about has to be a science fiction novel I started in the mid to late 1990s. I can't remember the year. It was written on a rented computer and each chapter saved to a floppy disc. It was called All Systems Go. It was terrible. So, I threw the discs away. You can imagine how much I've regretted that decision. Even though I'm sure it would be cringeworthy at best, I'd still like to read my earliest novel-writing effort.

The lesson to be learned here is never throw away your writing. It doesn't matter that you think it's crap or hate it. It was part of your writing journey. You puts words to paper. You created something. And think how exciting it will be to re-read those efforts years from now.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Star Trek Beyond & U.S.S. Discovery

If you're a Trekkie like me, you'll have more than one reason to be excited this week - Star Trek Beyond finally beamed into cinemas and we had our first peek at the new Trek series coming in January 2017.


I won't be watching Beyond until Wednesday, but from what I've read so far it's returned to the episodic format of the original series. I'm sure this was a relief for both myself and countless Trekkies. I enjoyed Into Darkness, but I also thought re-hashing The Wrath of Khan plot line for a modern generation was lazy. There was no emotional punch when Kirk died, because the relationship between Chris Pine's Kirk and Zachary Quinto's Spock had not had sufficient on-screen time to make me care. Perhaps I'll view it differently after this and subsequent films? Either way, I'm just excited to get more Trek.

We now know the name of the latest series in the Trek franchise - Star Trek Discovery. We've even been treated to a sneak peek of the U.S.S. Discovery and it's a mean-looking ship. Let me know what you think.


All that's left to say is live long and prosper, my friends!

Monday, 18 July 2016

You Know You're a Star Wars Geek When . . .

Your brother gives you tickets to watch an open-air screening of Star Wars The Force Awakens. What an amazing experience. It was the first time I'd been to a 'pop-up' cinema, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It was also the first time my other half watched a Star Wars film.

Yes. You read it correctly.

Despite the lack of Star Wars knowledge, he loved it. Of course, I pointed out his having never seen the films to a group of devoted fans sat near to us. They thought it hilarious. Then they started eating their Star Wars cake. It was that type of evening.


My advice to anyone attending this type of event is to wrap up warm or take a blanket. We did feel the cold towards the end of the night.

While I'm on the subject of films, the newest Star Trek film is released this week. My reaction to both trailers has been tepid at best, but it's Star Trek. Any Trek is better than none, right?

Thursday, 30 June 2016

I love You, 2016

I'm writing this post on my birthday, after a wonderful day celebrating with family. There are more celebrations planned for tomorrow and the coming weekend. Throughout the last week and today, I've been painfully aware it's been nearly two months since my last blog post. It was never my intention to take a hiatus, let alone one that long. The truth is 2016 threw me a curve ball and I had to take it.

Back in early May, in A Move in the Right Direction, I blogged about moving home. What I didn't expect when I moved was it would introduce me to a man I can only describe as my soulmate. I've always hated the term soulmate, because I didn't really understand what it meant. I do now. It's early days, but I think I've found The One.

I've spent the last few weeks enjoying and focusing all of my attention on him, us, my new house, and the usual every day stuff that life entails. In all of that, he's regularly reminded me about not losing who I was before we met - the reader and writer. So, I owe it to him to get writing again. I know nothing would make him happier. My first step was writing this post. My second is sharing my favourite photo from today just because I can.


Pebbles approves of the Labyrinth T-Shirt my bestie, 
Rachel Morris, gave me.

P.s. Rachel has a Go Fund Me campaign to help her to do the thing she loves most in the world, walking her dogs. Please drop by and help to spread the word anyway you can.

Monday, 9 May 2016

A Move in the Right Direction

I moved house last week. As with all such moves, it was both exhausting and stressful. However, I'm now 75% unpacked and finally beginning to relax.

I have a garden, and I can't wait to get planting. From my writing desk I have a beautiful view of the garden and apple trees, and I wake up every day to the sound of birdsong. There's even a fox that likes to sunbathe on open land nearby. My idea of heaven!



 My new writing area, albeit a work-in-progress.


Now excuse me while I shut down the Internet and get writing!

Monday, 11 April 2016

Gifts for Readers: Book Subscription Boxes

Have you heard of book subscription boxes? I hadn't until a couple of weeks ago. I'm not talking about book clubs that send you one or two books a month. Book boxes generally contain a book released that month and extra items related to the book. Examples of items included are bookmarks, bookplates, signed letters, posters, book bags, badges, and items of clothing.

Over the last week I've searched the internet for book box subscription services. Here's a list of the ones I liked. 


Ship to USA & Canada only


February's book box © Upper Case



Ship worldwide

February's book box © OwlCrate



Quarterly book box © Book Riot



© Book(ish)


You'll notice there is a distinct lack of UK-based book box providers. I'm not sure if this is because it's not yet taken off in the UK or because I didn't look hard enough. Either way, it means I won't be signing up for a book box subscription service any time soon. While the international shipping cost isn't generally too expensive, if my delivery gets picked up by customs, I'll get stung with a nasty import fine. A real shame for UK readers like myself. Still an awesome service for US-based readers, though!

If you know of any UK-based book boxes, or I've missed any US or Canada-based services, please let me know in the comments.