Thursday, 16 August 2018

Flunked your A-Levels? A message from 'a failure'.

A-Levels.


My A-level day wasn't great. I'd been a high achiever all my life, aced my GCSE and had a conditional offer from Cambrige University, which coming from a Northern comprehensive school and from a disadvantaged background was quite something.

The two years of my A-Level studies were hard. I was studying 5 A-LEVELS and my father was in and out of a psychiatric unit because his bi-polar and medication made him frequently suicidal and when he was home, life was incredibly difficult.

My mother was working 3-4 different jobs at a time just to keep the roof over our head and to feed us. I will always respect her for that.
Me in Paris for a book signing Sept 2017

I was working part time as well as studying because it was the only way I would have any money, and because Friday and Saturday nights were party night--a chance to completely forget all the shit going on at home. I had a very unhealthy gin and red wine habit, but it was the 1990s and most of us from the age of 16 had unhealthy alcohol habits.

I was also in a really messed up relationship (or maybe a couple of messed up relationships) in that first year of studies.

And amongst all that, I had taken it upon myself to apply for Cambridge, get an interview that no one prepped me for and get a conditional offer.

The day of my English Lit A-Level was the day after my father had a serious psychotic episode that resulted in hospital admission. I'd been up until past midnight as the services were dealing with him and I was a mess.

Me in New York for a book signing
Sept 2017
It wasn't a time that schools really got that whole student well-being stuff, and it certainly wasn't a time that people knew how to handle discussions about mental health. I was ignored by the staff because they didn't know what to say. There were no allowances, no care, no special circumstances.

When the results came, I got a B. I'd been predicted a top grade in English, just like 3 of the other A-Levels. It didn't matter in the end, apart from pride, because all my other grades were Bs and Cs too.

I wasn't going to Cambridge.
I wasn't even going to a 'top university'.

To be honest. It felt like the world had stopped spinning for a day or two.

I took my fourth choice of St. Mary's University in Twickenham, and convinced myself that it was going to be fabulous to be so near to London... and it was.

St. Mary's was exactly what I needed in my life at that moment. It was small, caring, faith based (not my own but nevertheless) I was a big fish in a small pond. I aced my first term assignments, I became head of the literature society, I built great relationships with my tutors, who restored my esteem and faith in myself, I roomed on the small campus with a room mate and it was a village where I could start to rebuild and discover myself.

I will be eternally grateful for not getting the grades to Cambridge, which I honestly believe would have further destroyed me.

Today, I travel the world as an author and small publisher, I go on the most incredible adventures, I hang with the most amazing people.

I'm married to the guy I got together with in the second year of A-LEVELS and who stood by all the crazy. I have two beautiful daughters and live close by the university, where I now hold a residential conference for writers every two years.

What this tells you is that things happen for a reason. If you didn't get the grades you needed, or wanted, then maybe there's a bigger picture for you.

Life isn't all about grades, but it is about doing the very most you can with the resources that you have, about not settling in the same place, to always believe you can do better, attain your dreams, even if it's not in the way you've been raised to believe.

I was a secondary school English teacher, in charge of GCSE English for many years. In the end, I left partly because I couldn't reconcile my soul and ethics to the exam and grade culture we are enforcing on our students. It's destructive and it isn't true.

IT ISN'T TRUE. I promise you that your grades are merely an advantage, not the answer. They don't guarantee you anything in life. They make getting through some doors a little easier, but once inside that room, they're like ether.

It's your personality, your values, your work ethic, your confidence, your belief, your integrity, being well-read, being well-travelled, culturally aware, business savvy, good with money, knowing when to risk it all and when to protect it all that will make you a success.

It's your ability to truly love and accept yourself that will allow others to love you and for you to build up relationships that make you happy.

And honestly, happiness is the ultimate goal, and no one needs top grades for that.
Be strong. Good luck and always reach for your dreams   

Thursday, 9 August 2018

A Fresh Brand New YA Vampire Series To Sink Your Teeth Into...



HE'S A NEWLY EMERGED VAMPIRE. SHE'S THE DESCENDANT OF THE MOST PREDATORY VAMPIRESS IN HISTORY...

We are delighted to announce the official launch of Katie M. John's brand new vampire series, 'Bathory Academy'. 

"It's like Hogwarts grew up and got vamped! Can't wait for Book 2 - 5 STARS" (ARC REVIEW) 


When an eighteenth birthday party ends in bloodshed, Alexander Augustine’s secret is revealed. After his vampire identity goes viral on social media, there's no choice but to run, and there's only one place to go…

Cover and brand credit to Regina Wamba at Mae I Designs
Bathory Academy, home to the next generation some of the world's most notorious vampire families, is a college like no other. It offers Alexander both sanctuary and a very different kind of education; a place where he can truly be.

As Alexander begins to slowly accept his supernatural life, and all the needs that go with it, he’s drawn towards the beautiful, but potentially deadly, Scarlett Bathory, soon discovering their history is as tightly knotted as their present.

With revolution, bloodlust, and desire for vampire world domination taking hold, Alexander starts to fear he’s nothing but a pawn in a very dangerous game.


To accompany the Bathory Academy series, there will also be a series of companion novellas, which can be read as a series in their own right or for a truly immersive reading exprience, alternated with the reading of Bathory Academy. 

The launch schedule for Bathory Academy is: Sept, Nov, Jan, March, April and the companion novellas will be released in the alternate months. 

THE COMPANION SERIES: 'THE WOLF PRINCESS'

ASTRID NORDSKOV: VIKING. VAMPIRESS. WOLF-PRINCESS. WARRIOR.
When there are so many elements to your identity, it’s hard to know who you really are, especially when everybody has a very clear idea of who they think you should be.

After being left for dead on the boundary of our settlement, having been attacked by Jeorge, the only boy I have ever loved, my father sent me, and my protective pack of wolfboys, to Scotland, to the safety of Bathory Academy, school for vampires.

I’m meant to learn what it is to be a warrior, a leader, a chief of my clan. I’m meant to learn never to repeat the same foolish mistake of falling in love with an unsuitable boy again…

But the gods have another path for me and so I’m ever connected to the land of ice and granite, to the forests and the sea.

*
In this companion novella series to Bathory Academy, Astrid Nordskov is forced to face the brutal reality behind her attack and comes to understand that the old gods have a very new vision for the princess of the last Viking clan.

With northern magic, Norse folklore, Vikings, shifters and vampires, The Wolf Princess series can be read as a series in its own right or alternated with the books of Bathory Academy for a fully immersive experience.
*
Readers’ Note: These are 20-25k thousand word novellas (Half-novels) and there is some more mature Young Adult content.

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF 'VAMPIRE HEARTS' BOOK 1 of Bathory Academy HERE:

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF 'THE WOLF PRINCESS' Novella 1 of Bathory Academy World companion novellas HERE: 

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Enter a magical world written by over 50 Award Winning and USA TODAY / NYT bestselling Authors

The cover reveal for 'Emeline' is officially here, and isn't it gorgeous. Another beauty from designer Regina Wamba.

'Emeline' is part of the shared world project of Havenwood Falls, for which over 50 award winning and USA TODAY and NY TIMES bestselling authors write stories set in one supernatural town called Havenwood Falls. There are several audience strands to the project. Havenwood Falls High, Havenwood Falls, Havenwood Falls Legends, Havenwood Falls Sin & Silk.

With shared locations, events and characters, Havenwood Falls is a completely immersive reading experience, offering you a whole world to explore and discover.

In April of this year, my Havenwood Falls High (YA) came out and told the story of Harry Lewis, a new boy to Havenwood Falls, who soon came to realise that Havenwood Falls was a little bit special. When tragedy strikes, Harry befriends the ghost of Emeline Fairchild, the beautiful Fae who haunts the Fairchild Mansion his family have moved into.

This October sees the release of 'Emeline' (General / Wide Audience) as part of the Havenwood Falls Legends series. 'Emeline' is set between the years 1850s-1913 and tells the love story of Emeline Fairchild and Drayan Bishop. It explores the founding of the town and the early days of the founding families.

As Emeline approaches her wedding day, terrible revelations shock her world as she discovers the terrible price that has been paid to break her family curse and save her from an eternal sleep.

When the handsome art master arrives, brining light and good into her darkening world, terrible jealousies surface and soon everything takes a tragic turn.

It is now on pre-order
Emeline
By Katie M. John
Series: Legends of Havenwood Falls
Genre: Historical Paranormal
Release Date: Oct. 5, 2018
Cover Design: Regina Wamba, MaeIDesign.com


iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/emeline/id1414487464
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FPWDHLZ
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FPWDHLZ




FOREVER EMELINE
By Katie M. John
Series: Havenwood Falls High
Genre: Young Adult Supernatural Suspense
Release Date: April 6, 2018
Cover Design: Regina Wamba, MaeIDesign.com

Preorder on

Coming soon to Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Welcome to Havenwood Falls, a small town in the majestic mountains of Colorado. A town where legacies began centuries ago, bloodlines run deep, and dark secrets abound. A town where nobody is what you think, where truths pose as lies, and where myths blend with reality. A place where everyone has a story. Including the high schoolers. This is only but one…

At barely eighteen, London-born Harry has already been making a name for himself in the New York and London art circles with his otherworldly and haunting fairy-tale paintings.
When he relocates to New York to be with his mother and his new stepdad, the world-renowned Dr. Lewis, his life takes an extraordinary turn of events that brings the family to the derelict Fairchild mansion in the strange little town of Havenwood Falls.

Harry soon discovers the history of Havenwood Falls doesn’t always remain in the past. When the ghost of the fae-blooded Emeline Fairchild makes her presence known, Harry begins to fear he’s losing his mind. He’s heard stories of the greats going mad with their creativity and believes he might be following in their footsteps.

The truth is even more tragic. Not even out of high school, Harry is set to blaze a trail of light with his precocious talent, but fate has another terrible future in store. One that even the supernaturally talented Dr. Lewis can’t fix.

As Harry finds love in the present, he has to look toward a future where the past is his only hope.

This is a Young Adult paranormal tale in the Havenwood Falls High series of Young Adult fantasy stories featuring a variety of supernatural creatures. The series is a collaborative effort by multiple authors. Each book is generally a stand-alone, so you can read them in any order, although some authors will be writing sequels to their own stories. Please be aware when you choose your next read.


GIVEAWAY



Happy weekend. I'm running a really lovely giveaway over on Facebook and I wanted to share it here with you so you also have a chance to win it, and also to introduce you to the Havenwood Falls Bookclub, where you can discover more about the incredibly rich and paranormal world of Havenwood Falls.

TO ENTER THIS COMPETITION, HEAD TO https://www.facebook.com/groups/HavenwoodFallsBookClub/permalink/864997963686730/


Yesterday evening saw the official reveal of 'Emeline' from the Havenwood Falls Legends Series. 
To celebrate, I'm giving away this pretty Victorian style cameo brooch. When I saw it, I thought it was just the kind of thing that Emeline Fairchild would have in her jewel box. 
To enter and be in with a chance of winning it, either
a) post a screenshot of your copy of 'Forever Emeline' which came out in April as part of the 'Havenwood Falls High series.
b) post a screenshot of your pre-order copy of 'Emeline' which is coming out in October as part of the Havenwood Falls Legends Series. 
c) Share the official cover reveal post, which is linked here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/HavenwoodFallsBookClub/permalink/864254173761109/
*********
IMPORTANT NOTES: If you are seeing this post as a share then please note you must head to the original post over at The HAvenwood Falls Bookclub. https://www.facebook.com/groups/HavenwoodFallsBookClub
Giveaway not in association with FB.
One random winner from comments will be selected in 1 week.
Giveaway is international

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Author Mummy: How do you balance Home, Family and Author Life?

This post comes from a regularly occurring post in one of the forums I am on and after writing a reply, I realised how much I had to say on this - because after 10 years of authoring, I've had to either adapt or self-destruct. 
When I started writing I had a very demanding full time job, a new baby and a home to run because my husband commutes and was also doing the last stages of night school. It was tough. I can't remember how I did it, but somehow I did, and I wrote and published at least 5 novels over a 6 year period. 

Three years ago, I quit the day job to concentrate on the writing and to be more present for our children. I foolishly thought this would mean that I would, being a full time writer, be on my fiftieth novel by now. Oh, how I laugh!

Part of the reason was because despite being at home all day whilst the children were at school, somehow the house becoming a ridiculously demanding mistress, and because I was home there was an expectation (90% self imposed) that the house had to be perfect and that like a good 1950's housewife, everybody nurtured cared and catered for. 

Well suddenly between being begged by the kids to come and help at school, laundry, cooking, shopping, caring for my mum, organising tradesmen etc etc etc, time disappeared. Poof! Gone! 

I tried scheduling. It didn't work. It stressed me out. 
I tried communicating with my family. They tried. It didn't work. It stressed me out.
I tried running away to coffee shops. It sort of worked. It cost a lot. I wasted money. 

SO, I needed to take direct action. 

I wasn't prepared to compromise my home and family ideals. I wasn't prepared to make my family compromise for my writing by hiding away in an office, by making them eat off paper plates, by leaving them to fend for themselves. 

This is what I did, and it works - mostly. Family life is mercurial and chaotic by its very nature. Kids get sick, the dishwasher breaks, building work needs to be done, your pre-teen has a melt down every 5 minutes, family visit... but honestly, this has worked for us and we are happier, healthier, more connected, more content. 

A lot of the tensions have gone.

It's taken a good 4-6 month period establish the following, and that has been frustrating in itself but I had to remember I was playing a long game not a short fix that fades in a week or two, like schedules and conversations.

I had to change the behaviour patterns of my family and myself. Here's what I and WE did. 

1) MAJOR HOUSE DECLUTTER. 
This has been the gruelling bit, but stuff equals clutter, equals disorganisation, equals more hours of cleaning and tidying. We started at the top with our eldest's bedroom and worked down. 

We labelled the childrens' clothes draws and invested in storage boxes. We got rid of lots of stuff and rearranged the furniture for streamline hoovering and dusting - also making it easier for her to take more responsibility. 

The idea was that by eliminating unnecessary stuff, firstly it looked tidier and cleaner already without doing anything and secondly, it meant that everything had space to have a place and that meant if it had a place, it could be tidied by anyone and quickly. 

2) MAJOR WARDROBE DECLUTTER &  LAUNDRY STREAMLINE.
I reduced everyone (still a process in motion) to capsule wardrobes. How many t-shirts, jumpers and jeans do they actually need? How many 'smart' outfits. This saved money and washing time. The eldest has her own laundry basket and a weekend chore to bring it down. 

With her drawers labelled this enabled her to put away her own clothes without anxiety

3) BATCH COOK
Careful planning and doubling up means you can batch cook on a Sunday afternoon for a good part of the week. By doubling the quantities and freezing down you save huge amounts of time and mental energy. Good dishes for this are lasagna, casseroles, fish pies, stews, pies, chilli con carne, spaghetti Bolognese, curries etc. 

4) ONLINE FOOD SHOP
This ties to the previous point. Menu planning and shopping lists enable really efficient online food shops which are not only much more efficient but they're a really good way of controlling your budget and your health. 

5) SCHOOL / WORK STATION
By the front door, hang hooks and place a basket. You may be lucky enough for a cloakroom. Each person has a hook to hang their coat, scarf, hat, and school tie! A basket for work and school shoes. They have a further peg for their work / school bag and kit bags, and music art bags etc (packed on the Sunday ready for the week) Water bottles filled the night before and in the fridge. 

6) MONEY TALKS CHORE CHARTS
Our kids are very reluctant chore doers. However, the sight of money is motivating. I've made them chore charts with clear plastic wallets underneath that physically contain the money. When they've done the chore they get to put the money into the moneybox on the shelf next to the chart. Rosie is 10. Her chores are Recycling 1 Sunday (50p) Recycling 2 Wednesday (50p) Room tidy on Wednesday (£1) Make mum and dad a cup of tea in bed at weekend (50p each morning) and bring her washing down, sort into white and dark piles. Place in machine (£1) 

Betty is 5. She has make her bed every morning (10p a day) Hang her coat, shoes, bags etc on hook every day (10p a day)

These really help with teaching them responsibility. 

7) THE 10 MIN PRE-BED BLITZ 
Ten minutes - and we put it on the clock timer like big kids and that's how we approach it. A race against the clock. In that 10 minutes we straighten the front room, load the dishwasher, take dry laundry upstairs, feed the cats and do a quick mess sweep. When the clock stops, so do we. 

This means we're already massively up on the day when we wake up. This means there is rarely more than 30 mins  of tidying and cleaning which done after the school run, means I'm totally clear from 9.30am-3.30pm 

I also need to be in a tidy space to work and it stops procrastination. Ready for the day and ready for work. 

8) SCHOOL BASED AFTERSCHOOL CLUBS
One night a week the girls stay at school until 4.30pm doing Creative Writing and Cookery. This makes a huge difference on a Wednesday. I know I have 7 hours of uninterrupted writing and business time. 

9) EARLY WEEKEND DOORS
I'm rubbish at getting up in the morning but on occasions, I have been known to sneak down at 5.30am and do a couple of hours quiet writing on a weekend before sneaking back up to bed for 8.30 before everyone else wakes and then having a little lie in after that. (Occasionally the youngest sneaks down too, but as she doesn't venture much further than the television on a Saturday morning, she's often not even known I'm up) 

So here are my very real and very doable tips for finding more time to write and to keep the home fires burning bright and warm. I'd be really interested to know what works for you other than the dreaded scheduling answer that I always seem bandied around.  



 


Monday, 26 February 2018

Will You Be Bewitched by The Meadowsweet Sisters?

Join the Meadowsweet Sisters as they take on supernatural and diabolical forces, and evade the deadly kiss of The Witch Hunter. 

I'm so happy to be releasing Book 4 of The Meadowsweet Chronicles this March. 'Angelicus' is out soon. I love working on this series so much, it's a complete passion project full of all the things that I love reading. 

If you've not had a chance to catch up with the series yet, then there is a special offer box set of Book 1 and 2 for just £0.99 / $0.99 throughout the launch of Book 4 or you can download Book 1 for Free on Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Kobo and Smashwords. Links in the comments.



SPECIAL OFFER BOX SET of BOOK 1&2

Special offer Box Set of The Meadowsweet Chronicles Book 1 and 2 for just £0.99 / $0.99 is here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079Z9Y3B5

There’s no light without the dark. 

Fox Meadowsweet is a Witch. Jeremiah Chase is a Witch Hunter. 

The Meadowsweet bloodline has lived in the sleepy English village of Heargton for thousands of years. Jeremiah Chase is a New York boy in exile. 

Neither of them asked for their past but now it’s the only thing that can save their future as dark and ancient paranormal forces threaten to obliterate the world. 


When a local college girl is discovered ritually murdered and covered in strange symbols, old suspicions rise, ancient fears manifest, and centuries-spanning blood feuds reignite between ancient households of the village.


With their ancestral reputation of magic and witchcraft, eyes turn towards the three beautiful Meadowsweets sisters… including the eyes of Jeremiah Chase, who finds himself inexplicably drawn to the quirky wild-beauty of the middle sister, Fox.  


But as Jeremiah learns the history of her bloodline, he also unearths the dark and tangled story of his own family, giving him knowledge of a terrible and diabolical legacy. 

or FREE BOOK DOWNLOAD OF BOOK 1

Book 1 of The Meadowsweet Chronicles is on FREE Kindle download https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NG5CLTE and on iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id950645919

Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Meadowsweet Chronicles. Boxed and on celebratory Sale.

On March 22nd, Book 4 of Katie M. John's 'The Meadowsweet Chronicles', 'ANGELICUS' comes out. To celebrate the launch of book four of this planned seven book series, we have bundled Book 1 and 2 of The Meadowsweet Chronicles into one simple one click box set of the first two books for just £0.99 / $0.99

You can grab your discount eBook copy here:

https://www.amazon.com/Meadowsweet-Chronicles-Book-Box-Set-ebook/dp/B079Z9Y3B5

BLURB:

There’s no light without the dark. 


Fox Meadowsweet is a Witch. Jeremiah Chase is a Witch Hunter. 

The Meadowsweet bloodline has lived in the sleepy English village of Heargton for thousands of years. Jeremiah Chase is a New York boy in exile. 

Neither of them asked for their past but now it’s the only thing that can save their future as dark and ancient paranormal forces threaten to obliterate the world. 


When a local college girl is discovered ritually murdered and covered in strange symbols, old suspicions rise, ancient fears manifest, and centuries-spanning blood feuds reignite between ancient households of the village.


With their ancestral reputation of magic and witchcraft, eyes turn towards the three beautiful Meadowsweets sisters… including the eyes of Jeremiah Chase, who finds himself inexplicably drawn to the quirky wild-beauty of the middle sister, Fox.  


But as Jeremiah learns the history of her bloodline, he also unearths the dark and tangled story of his own family, giving him knowledge of a terrible and diabolical legacy. 


This box set contains books 1 & 2 of The Meadowsweet Chronicles. 


https://www.amazon.com/Meadowsweet-Chronicles-Book-Box-Set-ebook/dp/B079Z9Y3B5