Monday, 31 August 2015

October Frights Blog Hop

I am excited to announce that I will participating in the October Frights Blog Hop, which now gives another reason for October being the most awesome month of the year!

Stay tuned for more info on this fun event.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Utopia 2 months on

This post is a week early, but as I am going on holiday next week, and I am really rubbish at scheduling posts, here goes.

UTOPIA and TRIBE: A POWERHOUSE OF AWESOMENESS.
So the effects of Utopia have calmed a little. Fellow Utopians are busying away with their WIPS and other cons, and all the other craziness of life that is the life of an author. However, what has happened out of that great explosion of socialisation is the cementing of some extraordinary friendships.

I have found a tribe, a sisterhood, and we speak most days and at least a couple of times a week via Facebook messaging, and we're getting brave enough to even attempt a proper video call -  I know, crazy social cats that we are.

This is what ultimately Utopia has given me - the feeling that I am not alone, and for someone who doesn't really mind going it alone, or at least that's what I have convinced myself over the years, the effect of friendship, understanding and shard vision has been quite transformatory. (Yep, making words up again)

BUILDING CHAPTER.CON: THE POWER OF THE TRIBE
It's this sense of tribe that has allowed me to embrace my fears and charge forward with Chapter.Con in a way that has made some crazy dream a few months ago into a serious reality. When I look at website, how full and rich the con promises to be, I am excited -- and I am proud of what I have built. However, it would not have been built without the love, belief, encouragement and spirit of my tribe.

My Tribe is AWESOME! Get used to that phrase because I am going to be using it a lot over the coming year. It was there willingness to reach out a hand and step up that has allowed Chapter.Con to take flight. They have promised to fly half way around the world to stand by my side, to share their knowledge, expertise, creativity and love with a UK book community.

And because of their faith and their willingness to tread this journey by my side, others have joined us. Seriously, you should check out the panel for Chapter.Con - it's mind blowing. And because of the panel, I have managed to entice a truly amazing Key Note speaker, who I can't wait to share with you at a later stage.

There's a Utopian core statement, 'Lift as You Climb' and I can not tell you how engraved this is in my heart. Creating Chapter.Con has been a real chance to payback to some people in the book world who have been there from the early days of my writing career. For example, I am so honoured to have Megan Mc Dade (From Reading Away The Days) to be our Official Chapter.Con Blog Co-ordinator and I know we are both extremely grateful to Jo Michaels who is acting as a Mentor and Guide (as well as one of my soul-sisters). Having Megan on board has allowed me to hand all of that side over to her and for a great blog team to be created. Utopia taught me to do that - to trust, to collaborate, to hand over to others. Something I've never really been very good at.


Then I get a reach out from the lovely Dena Ellis Oneal - a chance meeting at Utopia caused a spark of creativity. She wanted to know about Readers, and whether there was a special place for them at Chapter.Con - hell yeah! Without readers there are no authors (well not ones that eat) so between us we created the Chapter.Con Book Club, 'Reading My Way to Chapter.Con'. This is a brilliant idea on so many levels. You can find out more about it at the official website Book Club page (linked) or by visiting the Unofficial Facebook Page (linked)

Oh, yeah, about that! So because Megan and the blogging team, and Dena are amazing, they are establishing the joint fansite and book club group page for Chapter.Con so that the community can really start building.

So that's Chapter.Con and I guess you can tell from how much of the post it has taken up just how much life time it has taken up too.

However, other great things have been happening too. I have embarked on a currently secret project with two of the most phenomenally inspiring women I have ever met. It's a really exciting project and one which I am going to take immense pride and pleasure in sharing with you in a few months time when details have been secured. All I can really say is I AM EXCITED and INSPIRED!

WRITING LIFE.
Book Three of The Meadowsweet Chronicles is half written; progress has been a little slower than hoped, but I'm still perfectly on schedule according to the XCEL spreadsheet. I love spending time with my WIP - at the moment, with everything else going on, it's a perfect escape. Because it is Book Three, the characters pretty much write themselves; they are living real people who live and love and battle inside my head.

Planning out the next three books in the series has given me the confidence to just sit down and write without worrying - as a result, when I do get an hour or two, the word count jumps up. it is a direct result of listening to the UTOPIA panel on series, and the advice of Rachel Higginson and Bella Roccaforte that inspired me to take that goat by the throat and plot it all out. See, panels aren't just about ideas, they are about action.

However, due to the explosion that has been Chapter.Con, my plans to serialise 'Beautiful Freaks' are a little delayed (only by a week or so, but with my spreadsheet, that could be a problem.) I have a rescue plan in mind though.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Losing The Plot

As you know, I don't often write 'Teaching' posts or 'How To' posts as they are not something that sits easily with me. Yes, although theoretically I am more than qualified, both literally with bits of certificate, and figuratively through experience of being an author and English teacher to teach creative writing, I always such posts difficult to write - and maybe that is because I often find them difficult to read. I don't like being told how to do something; I never have - especially when it comes to expressing my own creativity.

But today, I'm not teaching you about plotting, I'm  sharing with you my experiences of it - and you're entirely free to think it over, and especially free to argue; although do it softly because I'm nice ;)

Over the years I have read literally hundreds of posts, articles, interview responses on the internet, and heard full heated debates on panels, and argued endlessly with students about the concept of planning and plotting versus pantsing (or in my students' case, the notion of divine intervention.)

So here's my standpoint and it's not straight forward. Personally, I believe good storytelling needs structure; good art needs composition - but paradoxically, great literature needs spontaneity, rule-breaking and an organic energy, just as art.

A portrait by Picasso is 'great'. A portrait by Winterhalter is 'good' - and good is... well, it's good. It means it is accomplished and technical and accessible. It is a pleasure to live with, it enriches, it entertains, it allows a fantasy to be realised and a romance of both place and idea to be woven in the viewer's mind - it is satisfying and consumable. And for me as a reader these are the primary functions of a book series regardless of genre nuances.
And it is because of this that when it comes to series, I believe planning is essential. 

I didn't start off with this standpoint. I hated the idea of planning and I was veiled in a romantic notion of creative genius, you know the kind where you sit in a Parisian garret, living of gruel and cheap red wine wringing out your soul onto the page  - but then I finished my first book and realised I wanted to write more.

When I started my first series, 'The Knight Trilogy' with the book 'The Forest of Adventures' I did not plan - not for it to even be a series; I was a creative believer. I believed I was writing something beautiful and true - and I really did, but now when I look back at that first book, it's a beautiful and true mess; yes it reads like a wild-flower meadow, and there is soul and gorgeousness in it, and there is a definite authenticity of voice that is my younger-self, which some might argue is exactly the kind of book they like to read. However, as the writer needing to write two more volumes that followed it, I didn't half leave me a lot of work to craft out a series from it.

I had slapped things in the first volume on the mere indulgence of my characters, or the way I was moved in a single moment - and as a result, I found that to sustain their worlds and relationships authentically, I had to plan the rest of their time with me; it was either that or we were all going to end up losing the plot, quite literally. I would have had characters becoming increasingly erratic in their behaviours to one another and crazy unbelievable events would have to happen to bring them all back together. I was fortunate that with it being a contemporary Arthurian series, there is a strong sense of magic-realism in the series so it was more forgiving than it might have been, but there were regrets; small things which a reader would probably never pick up on. Certain representations of character or actions that I wish they had not done - but I guess in that way, it reflects real life.

Now, I am half way through Book Three of 'The Meadowsweet Chronicles' a book of modern witchcraft, ancient English Folklore and The American Gothic. It's planned to be a seven book series. It started out with that structure in mind. And although book one was written with basic section by section planning as the worlds and characters revealed themselves to me, I am currently sat with a folder by my side, which contains the detailed outlines, chapter by chapter of the next four books. I had intended on planning them all out - but I can't quite let go of the ideas of my characters having their own input and voice. I know that despite the detailed planning, there will be changes - because that's allowed. By the time I reach book five, I am sure that most of that plan will be defunct, but it will mean that I can write on in confidence because everything else is secure and structured. Who knows, book seven might end up being freestyle, because by that point - I can.


The thing is, some people get their knickers in a twist when it comes to the notion of planning because they think that once a plan has been written, then it has to be stuck too, which is quite frankly, absurd. In reality, does a plan ever really go .... well, to plan?

Planning (and planning in detail) allows you to go off piste in confidence because you know, with certainty that you're going to get to the bottom of that mountain in one piece. Planning is thinking. Thinking is GOOD.

So what's your thoughts? Are you a planner or a pantser?

BTW - if you fancy reading my beautiful flower meadow of a book, 'The Forest of Adventures' you can download a free copy using the coupon code in the side bar. I hope you enjoy.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Chapter.Con 2017 London

CHAPTER.CON 2017 is happening and now's your chance to start being a part of it.

As you have read in my previous posts, my trip to the Utopia Author and Reader convention, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA in June of this year has had a profound effect on me. It has also inspired me to be brave and fearless enough to bring the format over to the UK, to create a convention that has a very special vision. That convention is Chapter.Con and it's starting to become real.

Today marks one of the very first steps towards building that community; it is the day that I have officially started fundraising in order to turn this dream into a reality. After speaking with several other convention founders, I have learned that running a convention is an expensive and most likely profitless endeavour -- but that doesn't matter. This isn't about making money, it's about building something significant and special, about creating a 'home' and 'family' for authors of YA and NA fiction in the UK, it's about supporting my local home community and creating a vehicle for change and growth.





Here is the Chapter.con Manifesto


Chapter.Con 2017
 

A UK Author, Blogger and Reader convention designed to celebrate Young Adult and New Adult stories of all genres from the indie publishing, small press  & hybrid community.

CONNECT.   EDUCATE.  INSPIRE

Whether you are a best-selling established author, an aspiring author, a blogger, a reader, a publisher or a book seller, I would like to invite you to the very first Chapter Con; one of the U.K's very first YA and NA book conventions especially designed to connect, educate and inspire women in the book world.

With a series of educational panels of experienced individuals, and inspirational key note speakers, Chapter Con is far more than a traditional literary festival, it's home, family and mentorship.

Chapter Con is open to Indie published, Hybrid published and Traditionally published authors of all ages and stages of their individual journey.

Although primarily a book conference designed for women authors, one of the primary beliefs of Chapter Con is inclusivity;  of celebrating diversity and individuality, meaning male authors of Young Adult and New Adult are welcome to attend.

Chapter.Con  2017 is the first of its kind in the UK. An innovative, celebratory Author, Blogger and Reader con for YA and NA (Please note that Chapter.Con is a no erotica con)

As a residential conference, it offers Authors, Bloggers, Readers and other Book Creatives to foster a strong sense of community and belonging. It's a con that will promote positive messages of collaboration, skill sharing and empowerment.

It is also the chance to have a LOT of fun and make amazing friends.

The proposed plan is:
Thursday p.m - welcome key note and social evening
Friday  a.m - exhibition rooms, school visits and panels.
Friday p.m - exhibition rooms and panels
Saturday - key note. Networking Breakfast. Public book signing event 10-4
Saturday evening - Awards Ceremony & Party
Sundy morning - key note, resolutions and farewells.

WHY THIS IS HAPPENING?
In 2015 I attended UtopYA in Nashville, Tennessee, USA; a conference founded by the incredibly inspirational Janet Wallace and her dedicated team.

Having been in the indie publishing scene for over 5 years as a UK author, I had found that the UK was a very different indie scene to what was happening in the USA. Social media taught me that my fellow USA indies were meeting up regularly, sharing, exhibiting, building community, collaborating and cheer-leading each other.  The one event that kept coming up was UtopYA.

Sick of feeling isolated and left out, I made the bold decision to head out and join them. (A fear of flying and a transatlantic journey would be worth it) What I experienced at UtopYA literally changed my life. I found the most incredible acceptance, friendship, fellowship, knowledge, and belief.

I learned more in those 4 days with the incredible UtopYA family about publishing, marketing, writing, authoring, blogging, reviewing  ... the list is endless, than I had in the  5 years going it alone.

I knew I had to bring this experience home to the UK. I knew I needed to build this kind of supportive, friendly, educational and inspirational community here.

When I spoke to many of my UtopYA American writer friends about this idea, they were totally behind it. Many vowing that if I got this project off the ground, they would come.  And trust me, these guys KNOW what they are talking about. These guys know the mysteries of Amazon algorithm, formatting, marketing, building readership, PR.....

BUT a conference like this costs  - A LOT

For this to work, it needs...
to be at least 2 days and 3 nights long meaning big location, hire expenses, especially as it is London pricing.

It needs a marketing campaign that not only draws in local people but people on a national scale. This kind of event is new to people and they need introducing to the idea.

It needs to subsidise hospitality so that we can attract the very best in the business from a global platform, which means flights and rooms.

It needs social occasions, such as an awards ceremony with hospitality.

It needs inclusivity, meaning we can supply grants to authors to help them attend.

It needs budgets for all the little things that add up, badges, tote bags, print material, events planning, tech teams, breakfasts and tea, cleaning crew.

THE REASON I'M CROWD FUNDING
Having spoken to several people who have gone on to run highly successful conventions, I am under no delusion that this is ever going to ever be a profitable exercise; the money (if any) that is made gets ploughed back into the following years, making it even better.

Authors, especially those in the indie world, really, really appreciate every penny they make on their books - it's a tough world and I don't want to gamble with their money in the early stages of this project. There have been too many events that have taken ticket money and then for many reasons flopped and authors have been left out of pocket.

£20,000 will NOT cover the whole costs of the event but it will allow me to pay the deposits for the hotel conferencing, initial marketing and promotional material. It will also allow me to start approaching Key Note speakers and get the whole ball rolling.


What about corporate sponsorship?
One day, I am hopeful that we will have on board an incredible group of corporate sponsors; we have a list we would like to approach, but we need to give those guys something tangible to invest in.

Although absolutely, with no doubt, I know Chapter.Con is going to be amazing and significant with the right funding, my word is not enough. We need to get Chapter.Con 2017 done and photographed, we need to sew the seeds of an exciting community they want to be part of.

I am working with a branding expert to put together an initial sponsorship pitch and hopefully when they see the energy behind this campaign and this idea becoming a reality, they will take a chance on us.

WHO AM I?
My name is Katie M John and I am the author of the UK Amazon bestselling series, 'The Knight Trilogy' and 'The Meadowsweet Series as well as several stand alone works and published short stories and poetry. You can find out more at www.katiemjohn.com

5 years ago I published my first book. Last year I quit the day job (15 years of English teaching) to concentrate on the writing world.

I am also the fouder of the small boutique indie press, 'Little Bird Publishing House' www.thelittlebirdbookstore.com which works with authors in a non-exploitative way. Little Bird is about building an author family.

I am a mummy, wife, author, blogger, publisher, tutor, and now it would seem, a convention founder.

Help me to build something beautiful.

Than you for your time, your generosity and your support. Every single penny helps.

WHAT YOU GET IN RETURN (This will be added too in the coming months as more authors get on board)
£5 A personalised thank you postcard and free download of 'The Forest of Adventures' by Katie M John

£10 A personalised thank you postcard and free download of 'The Forest of Adventures' and 'Witchcraft'

£20 A personalised thank you postcard and free download of 'The Forest of Adventures' and 'Witchcraft', A Chapter.Con limited edition badge

£50  Friday afternoon tea with a panel of authors, 5 x free eBook downloads (TBC)

£100 Friday Lunch with a panel of authors from the convention, 5 x free eBook downloads (TBC)

£250 Free VIP upgrade to the conference. Friday Lunch, Chapter.Con 2017 t-shirt, sparkly lanyard for convention tag. Signed paperback edition (TBC)

£500 Free VIP upgrade to conference. Friday Lunch, Chapter.Con 2017 t-shirt, sparkly lanyard for convention tag, Signed edition of a series (TBC)

£1000 - Corporate Sponsorship - inclusion of logo on events displays, banners, websites. Ability to distribute products through the conference  gift bags. A free 1/2 size exhibition stand.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Cover Reveal. The Shine by Helen Whapshott

Hi, folks,

Today is the day that I get to share with you the cover for Helen Whapshott's new book, which comes out on August 1st.
TADA! Here is the beautiful cover.
 
 
 

It's the second book in the series and it's a serious emotional roller-coaster. The book called 'The Shine' deals with some more serious issues that affect some children in the real world. Dealt with sensitively and with a great deal of hope, 'The Shine' explores what it's like for school children to deal with the knowledge there friend is being hurt by the very people that should be protecting them from the world's cruelty; their parents.

The characters of Scott, Daisy and Megan are totally charming and before you know it, it's easy to find yourself totally lost in their story. The Glow series is a really beautiful series and a great resource to approach some of the more delicate issues children face in today's modern world.


In order to celebrate the release of Book 2, Little Bird have revamped the look of Book 1 and have put in it on $0.99 / £0.99 eBook download, so be sure to grab your copy before the release of book 2 on August 1st 2015.

Buy copies of Book 1 'The Glow'
US http://amzn.to/1CJt7Op
UK http://amzn.to/1hkb0SQ

PRE-ORDER your copy of Book 2 'The Shine'
US http://amzn.to/1f9TToz
UK http://amzn.to/1HyqOgb

UP FOR GRABS
In order to say thank you for stopping by and taking an interest in Helen and her books, she has given me a paperback edition of 'The Glow' to giveaway to ONE random selecting person from those who comment below. All you've got to do is leave a comment in the box. One lucky winner will be selected within the month and you'll be notified by Twitter or Facebook so please leave your handles.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Get your scares on!

Some of you who check in with this blog regularly will know that as well as doing fairies, I also do scaries. I have always loved the horror genre, ever since those first illicit readings of Point Horror under my duvet as a young teenager.

Horror is my thing - I mean, really my thing, which is strange because I am really rather a sensitive soul and to the outside world, there would never be a suspicion as to the darkness that lies deep within my heart; metaphorical of course.

As part of my writing journey, I have written several short horror stories, which have been published in numerous anthologies.

My horror writing started with a submission to the sadly now defunct Indie Horror e-zine and writer's forum, with a story called The Venus Club. This little story was my first real stab at writing a form I love and revere. (I still argue that it's the hardest genre to write well.) To my surprise, it went on to win their Spring Horror Story competition, and that gave me the inspiration and motivation to write and submit more of my short stories.

The Venus Club was also in a way the very first origins of my Young Adult stand alone novel, 'Beautiful Freaks' and so it maintains a very special place in my heart.


Anthology writing became a bit of a 'thing' for me for a couple of years. It was nice to just write and hand over my stories without having to worry about all the final flight-checks and publishing. At around that time I met Jeff Bennington online and we established an online friendship which I still hold dear. He was writing phenomenal indie published works in the horror genre, and was a key part of a movement towards indie writing being legitimised and pushed to the highest quality. I read several of his books and was blown away. He began a series of anthologies called 'Creepy' and he kindly accepted a couple of my stories for submission. 'The Haunting of Heathmoore House' and 'The Wishing Well Witch'.

Also at around that time, I discovered a great online e-zine called 'Sirens Call' run by the wonderful Nina D'Arcangela and her team. I submitted a couple of stories prompted by their edition of Women's Horror Month. They too have been kind enough to feature me several times over the years.

As part of my growing role at Little Bird Publishing, I took on the project of Dark Heart and Night Shade, an anthology project, which was designed, not to make money (we'd happily give away copies to anybody that wanted them) but to create a collective of authors who would collaborate on a collection of stories. The idea was to showcase and give authors a 'validated' publication which they could reference as part of their publication history.
FREE DOWNLOAD THIS WEEKEND
ON AMAZON WORLDWIDE
LINKS AT END OF POST

I loved working on Dark Heart and Night Shade, and the three books that came out of that project are really special; as well as being of an amazing quality. However, creating an anthology is an incredible drain on your own personal creativity reserves. Although we were getting increasing numbers of submissions (so many that the read-through time alone started to drift into months)  the amount of editing and liaison required to work with ten different authors, all with their own approaches, unique styles and expectations became increasingly unsustainable - especially when nobody was making any money.

However, Dark Heart and Night Shade continues to be a project on hold rather than a project consigned to the trash bin, and I am quite certain that there will be a time in the near future when it is right to resurrect it. You can find out more about it at the Dark Heart & Night Shade blog HERE

In the meantime, Night Shade Volume 1 is on FREE download all this weekend and it's a really great chance to embrace some new writing and get to know some new authors. Here are the links to the Amazon promotion, so please fell free to splash them around all over your social media platforms.

There are stories and poems included from the following authors, by Katie M. John (Author),  Edward Drake (Author),  Red Tash (Author), Axel Howerton (Author), Jayd Green (Author),  Petra Pavlikova (Author),  Laurie Lyons (Author), Katarina Emg√•rd (Author), Sergio Palumbo (Author)                 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

UtopYA 1 MONTH ON

It's almost a month since UtopYA has passed. It's been one of the quickest and slowest months of my life. The first few weeks were really energised; lots of bonding over social media to ensure we made links we could all trace when needed later in the year - when UtopYA is just a distant dream and Utopia (note rename) is an exciting future.

Then came the crash. Oh, boy, I was warned but it has been HARD. I mean really hard. That whole feeling of standing in a crowded room and having nothing to say -  because everybody you really want to talk to and laugh with, and stroke book covers with, is not only hundreds of miles away, but thousands.

I'm missing the hugs. I'm missing the sound of my beautiful author/blogger friends' laughter.

BUT

The ticket for 2016 is booked. The writing schedule has been committed to an Excel spreadsheet - so it's official. I also now have an accountability partner in the lovely form and smiles and slightly amusingly aggressive (I asked her to be) Susan Burdorf. Carlyle Labuschagne and I communicate most days, usually with stickers, and we are looking forward to some exciting times as we keep each other feeling loved and understood.

So in the month that has passed since UtopYA I have;
  1.  Completed and published one of my NA novellas.
  2.  Written detailed, chapter by chapter, plans for the next three books of The Meadowsweet Chronicles. (approx. 50 pages of meticulously copperplate handwritten notes)
  3. Written an 8,000 words short story for an anthology, which I have also supported by being part of the editing and publishing team at Little Bird. (And which, BTW comes out today.)
  4. Created a detailed Excel writing schedule.
  5. Set up the BETA social-media sites for ChapterCon. The author, reader and blogger convention I am planning to host in London in 2017. You can find out more about that at www.chaptercon.weebly.com (and join the Facebook page)
  6. Set about scouting for suitable locations for hosting Chapter Con and listing up sponsors.
So yes, UtopYA has changed the way I see things. It's also shook me up to get all serious about this writing malarkey.

You can get your hands on a copy of 'After The Scars' and my story, 'The Emergence of Julia Gray' for just $2.99 / £1.99 (with all profits going to the women's charity 'Refuge' US link http://amzn.to/1f2ez1G and UK link http://amzn.to/1Smn8Rz

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A Conversation with Author Hazel Robinson

Today on the blog it is my great pleasure to be hosting Hazel Robinson, who has come over to talk about a phenomenally exciting project she has been pulling together, and which I have the great privilege of being involved in.

Tomorrow sees the release of an amazing charity anthology called, 'After The Scars' (A Second Chances Anthology) It will be available on Amazon worldwide for just $2.99

It features a collection of fictional stories on the theme of emergence and healing after periods of emotional and physical abuse. Each story tells the story of a woman growing out of the darkness and moving on to find happiness, love and reconciliation.

What makes this anthology even more special is that Little Bird Publishing House have donated 80% of the production costs and the authors have donated their stories, meaning that after a small amount of costs, all proceeds from the sale of the eBook and paperback are going to the charity, 'Refuge', an organisation that helps women escape from abusive and threatening relationships.

It is an incredibly moving and captivating series of stories and I am proud for my story, 'The Emergence of Julia Gray' to sit alongside such powerful and beautifully told stories.

In order to celebrate the release of the anthology Little Bird has given me 2x paperback editions of Hazel Robinson's romance novel, 'Something Missing' up for grabs. All you've got to do is leave a comment in the box below and two random winners will be picked in a month's time.

A CONVERSATION WITH HAZEL
Where we have chat about the anthology 'After The Scars'.

K: So, Hazel, welcome. We've been Little Bird author buddies for a year now, and I have to say I really love 'Something Missing
H: Thank you, Katie, it has been an amazing year! And I have loves working with everyone.

K: So you've been working really hard getting involved in the romance author community, tell us a little bit about that.
H: Well where do I begin? It’s been a huge adventure. Romance is a massive target to hit at the moment. I mean there are so many different sub-genre of romance. I have joined so many groups and met hundreds of different readers and writers. I have been reading a wide range of romance books too, and one thing I did feel is that a lot of books are very similar at the moment.

K: And because of that, The Second Chances Anthology idea was born?
H: Yes. I had a short story idea but couldn’t find the right anthology competition to enter it in to. And with romance been so huge at the moment, I thought it would be brilliant for my publisher, Little Bird to venture down that road too.

K: You've called this anthology 'After The Scars', why is that?
H: Well that title came further down the line after we started going through the stories we loved. They all have a similar theme to them. Stories from after some sort of hurt or pain, some physical and some mental.

K: What do you hope readers will get from reading the anthology?
H: The main thing is hope. Like I said, all the stories are mainly about picking yourself up and holding your head up high. These stories are written by women for women (although that doesn’t rule men out of our readers) but it’s about giving women the strength to carry on.

K: After The Scars is a charity anthology, what do you mean by that and how does it work?
H: As almost all of the stories and poems engage with the theme of abusive relationships, in all their various guises, it felt fitting to offer the proceeds to a charity that is doing great work in supporting women escape abusive relationships. The charity the authors chose was 'Refuge' and more can be found out about it here http://www.refuge.org.uk/ My publisher, Little Bird Publishing wavered over 80% of the production costs, donating hours of time and skills meaning that after a small amount of costs, all proceeds will be donated to this incredibly important charity.

K: This is your first anthology. What were the challenges of working with so many different authors?
H: To be honest, at the start it was brilliant, it was very easy and the authors where amazing but then when it came down to the final crunch times some did go their separate ways for different reasons. But really they have all been amazing. They knew how new I was to it all and they were very patient with me.
K: LOL, I know what you mean. I’ve done several anthologies now and they are such a lot of work, mostly because there are lots of elements that you are not able to control, which is good in some ways, but a complete headache in others. It’s great when it comes together though.

K: Difficult question, but which piece would you say was your favourite in the anthology?
H: Well, you know how to put a girl on the spot! I kind of have two that stand out to me. The first has to be ‘Sweet Sixteen’ it’s one of the shorter of our stories but its also a sweet story that just give a reminder that sometimes a relationship just needs a little nudge to work things out. And the second (sorry to be a little biased) it has to be Beaten by myself! If I didn’t have the idea for the story then the anthology would never have happened.
K: It was a tough question because they are genuinely all so brilliant in their own way. My favourite has to be ‘When The Storm Breaks’ by Avery Hart. I really like the way she has worked with language in a different way. It’s a bit like the story ‘Rebirth’ by Eden Night; there’s an interesting approach to using language and layout differently; a kind of breaking of rules. Of course I think yours is also fab, Hazel – that’s a given.

K: So would you do it again?
H: Haha well even though it’s been stressful, yes I would! I have learnt loads from doing this project and it’s been fun at times.
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K: It’s amazing what you learn about your own writing from working with others on theirs, isn’t it!

K: And what's your next project?
H: My next project (the little Bird team will be happy to know) is finishing the sequel to Something Missing. I just want to spend the next few months writing. I have a couple of just standalone stories I want to work on too. 

PAPERBACK GIVEAWAY

2 x paperback editions of Hazel Robinson's 'Something Missing' is up for grabs.
All you got to do is to leave a comment below the post. 2 Random names will be pulled from the hat in a month's time. We'll drop you a message (so don't forget to add your twitter handle at the end of your comment)
Open to UK and USA only.


BUY LINKS FOR 'After The Scars' (A Second Chances Anthology)
U.S http://amzn.to/1f2ez1G
U.K http://amzn.to/1Smn8Rz


Thursday, 2 July 2015

You Can Help Build a South African Library

One of the very many amazing things about UtopYA 2015 was meeting some truly inspirational and world-changing individuals.

One of those is Carlyle Labuschagne, who I have the great honour of being able to now call my dear friend. Not only is Carlyle a really kick-ass author with a great book series, called The Broken Destiny, but she is one of life's truly decent and big-hearted people.

Carlyle wants to make a difference - she already has, but she needs some help and that's where you come in.


Carlyle tapped her more than willing author buddies to donate paperback editions of their books to help her build a library in a part of South Africa where books are still considered somewhat of a luxury. What she needs now is the funds to get them shipped - and trust me, if this was a small amount of money then we'd have all covered that too - but getting goods into and out of South Africa is still a VERY expensive process.

If you are a book lover and want to share in the fellowship and sisterhood of reading, then I am reaching out to you to make a donation. Every single $1 and £1 helps towards this beautiful project.

You can read more about her truly inspiring campaign over at her website. http://www.carlylelabuschagne.com/help-us-build-a-library.html



You can DONATE by clicking here. Every single penny and cent donated helps to build something amazing. Thank you.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

UtopYA 2015 Recap



My Book Family
Okay, I'm adding in this paragraph in because I've realised that there is no way I can include everything I want to say about the truly life-changing experience of UtopYA. So I'm going to break it down into several posts over the next week or so, each one with a different focus. Today's post is an introductory post designed to give you a flavour of the build up to and the first impressions of the UtopYA conference. A year ago, on a crazy, impulsive, devil-may-care-whim, I pressed the buy tickets button the UtopYA website. I'd simply had enough of seeing my timeline full of my wonderful author and blogger friends having such a good time. 

Facebook and Twitter has made the world of the author a hell of a lot less lonely and it has allowed me to foster some truly precious and special friendships - but Facebook and Twitter don't give physical hugs, and they don't allow for the sound of true shared laughter. 
 

Meeting Jo Michaels - The grins say it all
After five years of late night chats, shared tweets, cheerleading posts and 'liked' cat and baby photos, I needed to meet these friends in reality  - only a total (very serious) fear of flying, two beautiful Mud-Puddles needing to be looked after, and no idea how my books were going to get there, stood in my way. (BIG THANKS to my mum, 'granny' who looked after the girls and to Susan Burdorf who took in my books and fostered them for me.)

Having purchased the tickets for the hubby, the bro-in-law and the father-in-law (to become known as  'y'all boys' at the con) we set about operation UtopYA - and boy, was it an operation. Our house became littered with half-used glue-sticks, the hoover had to have a daily de-beading, the craft box turned into a craft crate - and amongst all of this creativity, I had a book to finish, edit, publish and print.

But for all these mountains to climb, UtopYA came around and before I knew it, I was on a huge jumbo jet rotating hyperventilation with sips of double strength Bloody Marys. The trip to Nashville was long - all in all it took 21 hours door to door. But when I walked into the lobby of The Millenium Maxwell Hotel and saw Carol and Adam Kunz, every single minute of fear, apprehension and anxiety was worth it. It was an amazing few moments - those very first hugs with Carol felt immediately like arriving home



Signing Day

This hug set the tone for the whole conference - I felt like I'd arrived home. A feeling that was confirmed the following morning when I met Jo Michael's for the first time. I had only connected with her on social media a couple of weeks before the con, but as soon as we hugged I knew I had stumbled across a very rare and precious friendship. It's an amazing thing when you just click with someone. There are so many people that wrapped me up in a blanket of love, respect, acceptance, guidance and fun that it would make a VERY VERY long post to go through each and every one; but what I can tell you is that EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON at UtopYA greeted me like family and I hold each of them dear to my heart too. There is a sisterhood at UtopYA; something incredibly unique and special - and the magician that has woven this spell is Janet Wallace - an incredibly inspiring woman to meet. (Quick shout out to my book-sisters, Patti Larsen  and Carlyle Labuschagne - I love you!)
The Premier of ARV-3  Glamtastic

The very first day of the exhibition room was a nerve-wracking experience and I learned so much in those first few hours walking around the stands of other authors; the quality and presentation of books and brand was phenomenal. It was clear that I wasn't the only one who had spent the last few months buried under a crafting mountain.

I spent quite a lot of time away from my stand because I wanted to attend the panels, which proved to be not only educational but inspiring. There were so many good discussions on elements of YA that had been circulating in my head for years. Not only that, but there were discussions on hard business plans and strategies. (Bella Roccaforte and Rachel Higginson, know you have created a monster LOL)

When we weren't attending panels or manning our stand, we used every opportunity to hang out with each other. On the Thursday night, the lovely K.D Wood gave Carlyle Labuschagne and I a lift to a very funky Sushi restaurant and found mine and Carlyle's somewhat startled response to the valet service very amusing. A great night was had and it was amazing to discover how many parallels there were in all of our lives.
Me and the lovely K.D Wood
Friday Night was Cameo Renae's AV3 premier night and a good excuse to get dressed up and play about on the red carpet. The short film was intense and exciting; it was lovely to see my dear friend's book come to life on film. If this wasn't exciting enough, the evening was topped off by Steam Punk Karaoke.

On Saturday it was the public signing. The room was absolutely buzzing and it was such a high to talk to readers and to sell my books to a brand new audience. Despite the signing being an all day event it felt like it was over in the blink of an eye. But far from disappointment, there was another roil of excitement as dressing and prep for the evening's award ceremony and party took over.

My Book Sister Patti Larsen
Everybody arrived downstairs looking fabulously glamtastic and there was a sprinkling of glitter over the whole evening. Watching my fellow authors and bloggers receive their awards was truly moving. I know the blood, sweat and tears that have been shed on their journeys.

Sunday morning saw the closing key note delivered by Janet Wallace. I can't properly express what a profound effect her words have had - or those of the people who took to the floor to give their personal testimonials about what UtopYA meant to them.
 
THE GIVEAWAY SWAG HAUL

This is the mountain of swag I flew back with for the
giveaway

 




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Thursday, 25 June 2015

DAY 11: UtopYA from your Armchair + Epic-scale UtopYA swag giveaway

 

So this is the last day of bringing you a little taste of the UtopYA Author and Reader con direct to your armchair and today it's time to welcome you to my store. I hope you like it. Along with the other authors in this series, I have thrown a whole selection of swag into the bag.

Don't forget to enter the epic-scale UtopYA Swag giveaway at the end of the post. You can enter everyday of the virtual con and a full list of prizes and details can be found in this post HERE

KATIE M JOHN

 BLURB: The Knight Trilogy

A contemporary YA Arthurian legend series set in Cornwall.

Mina's life is nicely ordered, thank you very much. She has a clear handle or reality and a well plotted life plan. But when she finds herself unwillingly falling for the mysterious new boy at college, she discovers that sometimes destiny has a different design.

With his seductive combination of mystery and handsome good looks, Blake proves an irresistible lure. And although being swept off of her feet by a knight on a white horse was not part of Mina's original plan, she finds herself increasingly enchanted by the world he inhabits.

As terrible, heartbreaking events rock her daily world, Mina finds herself retreating deeper into a world she only thought existed in fairy-tales. But every fairy tale has its wicked witch, and Morgan Le Fay is the wickedest witch of them all; especially as she has designs on Blake's heart. All too soon Mina realises that even in a fantasy world, there is no guarantee of 'a happily ever after'. 

BLURB: The Meadowsweet Chronicles

Ever since its earliest days, the small English village of Heargton has been steeped in the occult. Tales of witchcraft and paranormal activity have been part of the local folklore for generations. Some people blame the lay lines that intersect at the very centre of the village, others blame a terrible curse.

700 years on, Heargton Village still holds dark secrets, and when one of the village girls falls victim to a terrible ritual killing, the old superstitions resurface.

At the heart of these whispers are the Meadowsweet sisters. All beautiful, all charming, all eccentric, but it is the middle daughter, seventeen-year-old Fox, who captures the imagination of American newcomer Jeremiah Chase; a deviant New York playboy sent to live with his Aunt in the Chase ancestral home of Coldstone Hall. A place that has its own grisly history.

But, as Jeremiah discovers the history of the Meadowsweet Sisters, the Chase family history is also unearthed, leading Jeremiah to understand that good and evil are not always on opposing sides.

A tale of witchcraft, demons and ghosts, blending traditional English folklore with the American Gothic.


ABOUT KATIE

Writer of the Amazon Best Selling YA series, The Knight Trilogy, Katie is married to a handsome giant and mummy to a mud-puddle fairy. She likes to write whilst drinking tea and eating jaffa cakes. Most of the time she lives in a fairytale world but other than that she is completely and utterly normal.

Katie's debut YA fairtytale series, 'The Knight Trilogy' has become an international best-seller in several chart categories, Contemporary Fantasy, Myths and Legends, Paranormal Romance. It has also been an Amazon No 1. Best-selling Fairytale.

She has just released Book 2 in her new 7 book series, 'The Meadowsweet Chronicles' a paranormal series that blends together English folklore and the American Gothic in a fast paced, action filled mash-up.

Her work is a blend of rich imagery and fast paced action. Before writing full length novels, Katie wrote poetry, her works being published in several anthology publications.
Find out more at www.katiemjohn.com
Follow on Twitter
Like The FACEBOOK PAGE
Buy Book One of The Knight Trilogy at Amazon.co.uk
Visit Katie's AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE





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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

DAY 10: UtopYA from Your Armchair + Epic-scale UtopYA Swag Giveaway

Day 10 in the Big UtopYA household and the authors are getting a little authory. Here's the 10th day bringing the awesome experience of UtopYA Author and Reader Con right to your armchair. Today it is my great pleasure to share with you the authors, Vanessa Kimball, author of the series, 'Piercing The Fold' and 'The Evan Series' and the author, Nichole Green, author of the series, 'The Mystic Seeker'

Don't forget to enter the epic-scale UtopYA Swag giveaway at the end of the post. You can enter everyday of the virtual con and a full list of prizes and details can be found in this post HERE

VANESSA KIMBALL
 
Blurb: 'Piercing The Fold'
 
“I'm Jesca. I have intense nightmares nightly and hallucinations of dark auras closing in on me daily. Strangers’ faces distort before my eyes and I hear voices in my head. All symptoms of insanity, ‘illusions in reality’, right? Wrong. This is my reality and it has been set askew.”

Jesca Gershon Sera discovers that she is part of a legacy and a fellowship of guardians destined to protect the human race from a galactic event that will invade and evolve our world.

*The Piercing the Fold series is intended for Mature Young Adult and Adult readers due to the the paranormal and unorthodox scientific concepts addressed throughout. This series contains a rich mixture of the paranormal, science fiction, romance, adventure, and suspense.*
 
About Vanessa
 
Venessa Kimball, born October 21, 1975, is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. Her hometown is San Antonio, Texas. She currently resides in Amarillo,Texas with her loving husband and 3 amazing children.
For 3 years, she taught at an Austin, Texas middle school. For 6 years, she was a full-time Texas Realtor in the Austin Metro Area.
In 2010, she revisted her writing roots that were so prominent in her high school years. Piercing the Fold, her debut novel, was born on November 23rd of that year. Venessa is a full-time, independent author.
When Venessa is not writing, she is keeping active with her husband and three children; chauffeuring said children to extracurricular activities, catching a movie with her hubby, and staying up way too late reading.

To find out more about Venessa Kimball and future projects, including the 2nd book in the Piercing the Fold series, visit www.VenessaKimball.net.
 
Find out more at www.venessakimball.net
Follow on Twitter
Buy Piercing The Fold on Amazon.co.uk
 
 
NICHOLE GREEN
 
Blurb: Twisted
 
Growing up isn’t always easy. But for most teenage girls, they can rely on their best friend to help them get through the process. A BFF is something that is truly treasured and completely irreplaceable. You share all of your secrets, and are loyal and honest with each other, even when you’re acting just a little bit crazy. You have each other’s backs no matter what and you form a bond that is virtually unbreakable.

At least that’s what normal teenage girls experience.

Nat and Mel have been bestie’s since childhood and Nat has followed her blindly ever since. But as Nat’s friendship with Mel begins to lead her down the wrong path, she starts to question the sincerity of their relationship. Nat starts to see Mel’s manipulative, deceitful ways become more focused on her. Will Natalie hold on tight to the friendship she’s had her entire life, no matter what it cost her? Or will she let her heart lead her to a relationship that’s not so twisted.

***Attention*** Although this book is a YA book based on the ages of the characters, it is a raw and intense book that contains underage drinking, strong language, drugs, and sex. It's a story that tells that harsher realities of teenage life.
 
About Nichole
 
N.L. Greene, who is 1/2 of the author duo Riana Lucas, has decided to venture outside of the Fantasy world that she and her best friend created with Poppy and The Deadly Flowers Series to write a few books on her own. While she loves working with her best friend, writing solo has allowed her to explore interest that had solely been her own. She spends a lot of time reading her favorite authors which range all over the place and in every genre, but spends just as much time with her husband and two daughters, traveling, shopping, and playing video games. Nichole was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Florida, where she and her high school sweetheart live with their two children
 
Follow on Twitter
Buy Twisted at Amazon.co.uk
Visit Nichole's AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
 
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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

DAY 9: UtopYA from Your Armchair + Epic-scale UtopYA Swag giveaway

Welcome to Day 9 of bringing the UtopYA  Author and Reader Con direct to your armchair. Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to the authors, Brenda Hiatt, author of the 'Starstruck' series and Catherine Stine, author of 'Dorianna'

Don't forget to enter the epic-scale UtopYA Swag giveaway at the end of the post. You can enter everyday of the virtual con and a full list of prizes and details can be found in this post HERE

BRENDA HIATT
***Free eBook Download***
 
Blurb for 'Starstruck'
 
Who would have guessed that tiny, out-of-the-way Jewel, Indiana could hold secrets with the potential to change the course of human history? Certainly not nerdy nobody Marsha Truitt. Who, it turns out, isn’t such a nobody after all.
 
The middle of nowhere just got a lot more interesting!Nerdy astronomy geek Marsha, M to her few friends, has never been anybody special. Orphaned as an infant and reluctantly raised by an overly-strict "aunt," she's not even sure who she is. M's dream of someday escaping tiny Jewel, Indiana and making her mark in the world seems impossibly distant until hot new quarterback Rigel inexplicably befriends her. As Rigel turns his back on fawning cheerleaders to spend time with M, strange things start to happen: her acne clears up, her eyesight improves to the point she can ditch her thick glasses, and when they touch, sparks fly--literally! When M digs for a reason, she discovers deep secrets that will change her formerly mundane life forever . . . and expose her to perils she never dreamed of.

Book 1 of the award-winning Starstruck series, where teen romance blends with science fiction to open a whole new world of action, adventure and discovery.
 
About Brenda
Brenda Hiatt is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels (so far), including traditional Regency romance, time travel romance, historical romance, and humorous mystery. She’s currently having a fabulous time with her award-winning YA sci-fi STARSTRUCK series. In addition to writing, Brenda is passionate about embracing life to the fullest, to include scuba diving (over 60 dives so far), Taekwondo (she’s currently pursuing her 3rd degree black belt), hiking and traveling.
 
Find out more www.brendahiatt.com
Follow on Twitter
DOWNLOAD FREE COPY OF  Book One of Starstruck series on Amzon.co.uk
VISIT Brenda's AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
 
 
CATHERINE STINE
 
Blurb for 'Dorianna'
 
Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good. Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop Dorianna is a dark twist for the Internet generation on A Picture of Dorian Gray. When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander. Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides. Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of the dire consequences. She’s thrust into the spotlight, and an incomprehensible nightmare. Not only is she prettier, she’s gaining harmful powers of manipulation. When her powers grow beyond anything she can control, she’s desperate but clueless as to how to stop it.
 
About Catherine
 
Catherine Stine’s novels span the range from futuristic fantasy to paranormal to contemporary. Her futuristic thriller companion novels Fireseed One and Ruby’s Fire are both indie award winners. Her paranormal-horror YA, Dorianna won Best Horror Book in the Kindle Hub Awards. She also writes new adult fiction as Kitsy Clare. Her new adult Art of Love series includes Model Position and Private Internship. She suspects her love of dark fantasy came from her father reading Edgar Allen Poe to her when she was a child. Presently, she’s at work on a paranormal historical set in 1932 about a witch.
 
Follow on Twitter
Buy 'Dorianna' at Amazon.co.uk
Visit Catherine's AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE HERE
Like the Facebook Page
 
 
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