November has been a busy month leading up to my launch. It started with a Book Blitz with almost 100 participants. And, ended with a virtual book tour. Today, I’m on the radio and hosting a live launch party tomorrow evening.
Ocean Heart In the News!
I feel so fortunate that I reached out to two newspapers to see if they’d be interested in doing a press release on Ocean Heart. Both agreed, and have shared their articles so I’ve appeared in four publications (that I know of).
Today, at 2pm (GMT) I will be on my local radio station. We were going to do the interview live in the studio but due to Covid Lockdown, we had to change our plans.
Instead, I met Pete down the seafront for a socially distanced recording. It was a fitting setting for an interview about Ocean Heart, as its where the book is set. During the live show, he’ll play clips from the recording along with some song recommendations.
I’ve agreed to sign all preorders for my local bookshop, Stillwater Books. They also have five extra signed copies, so if you are local to Felixstowe and want to order a signed copy, contact Will (the Shopkeeper), and place an order.
The final character to make an appearance is Gwyn.
Role in Ocean Heart: The Magician. Being Mariah’s main caregiver and having magical abilities means she’s able to support Mariah’s growth as a mermaid or meddle in her life to protect her.
Like many women she lies about her age, but for a very good reason. If she told the truth it’d blow her cover. The lies Gwyn tells are to keep Mariah safe.
Gwyn is doing her job as mother to Mariah. With psychic abilities she’s had a vision of a dangerous probable future. Gwyn interferes using magic in a bid to keep Mariah safe, often causing more problems than those solved.
Gwyn is close to Jace’s mum Denny, and started their Sparkle Bakery Business together. It’s rumoured that every couple that has ordered a wedding cake from them got their happily ever after.
What my editor said…
I loved reading what Avery had to say about Gwyn and felt she summed her up exactly!
Feyre lives in a run down cottage with her dad and two sisters, struggling for food. The novel is set in a world, where human lands border the fae lands.
Feyre promised her mum, before she died, that she’d take care of them. Feeling personally responsible for their welfare, Feyre has taught herself to hunt. But Feyre must take care to avoid the fae, dangerous powerful creatures that will kill.
Whilst hunting Feyre’s path crosses a fey. She shoots her arrow. She kills! This is a catalyst for the rest if the book…
A High Fae named Tamlin arrives at the cottage to kill the one that murdered the fae. Feyre manages to strike a bargain, where she can live. But, she must live with Tamlin and will never see her family again.
Feyre hates fae. All she’s heard growing up is how nasty they are. Feyre also feels guilty for not being there to support her family, who are pretty hopeless without her.
Feyre starts to discover that the fae may not be all she believed. Her “captors” are keeping secrets from her. Feyre sets about to uncover the truth.
In doing so, she attracts the attention of Tamlin during a mating ritual. She uncovers that the courts magic has been weakened by a curse that will force them under Amaranta’s rule. And, word gets back to Amarantha – Evil Fae Queen – who hates all humans that Fayre is on fae lands.
Thinking the curse won’t be broken, Tamlin arranges for Feyre to return to her family and safety. Once home, Feyre no longer belongs. Her home is now with Tamlin, who she loves.
She returns to the Spring Court, only to discover Amarantha has taken Tamlin and all his people. Feyre travels to the Night Court where he is held to rescue him.
He barely acknowledges her when she arrives. Amarantha agrees to free Tamlin if she can solve a riddle or survive her challenges. During her stay, Feyre is beaten, fed awful food, and kept in a dungeon.
To survive her ordeal, Feyre needs to rely on fae willing to help her. She’s desperate when she agrees to a deal with Rysland but without his help she’s most likely doomed.
Rysland helps Feyre with her challenges, and takes care of her. There is a big fight at the end and didn’t see the ending coming. I loved the ending.
I didn’t see the ending coming but loved it. I’m interested in reading more of the series. All the characters were well developed and had a good backstory. I even loved evil Amarantha.
Feyre is a strong character. She’s thoughtful and protective of those she loves, but it’s her caring nature that gets her into trouble every time. She’s a true hero, always wanting to save others.
There were many scenes that were so vivid and clear I could see them like a movie in my head; Feyre pulling back her bow, Feyre running through the tunnels from a giant killer worm, Feyre pressed against the wall by a sexy fae.
I was a bit up and down with the romance, sometimes loving it and other times not feeling it. But, I want to read more and I’m curious to see how the deal with Rysland will work, alongside a relationship with Tamlin.
Hello my fellow Wrimos, how have you been? Are you hitting your word count goals? Are you enjoying your project?
The last question is the most important. Writing shouldn’t feel forced or like a chore. You’ll write best when you are enjoying your project.
This NaNo, I feel like I’m cheating. I’m not working on a brand new novel. You see, now Ocean Heart has been published (more details here), I want to get Book 2 out. And, it needs to be finished. But when I went to work on the ending of Sky Heart, I didn’t like what was already written. During NaNo, I’ve reworked, rewrote and written new parts. But, I’m working with chapters not an outline.
On top of this, I have three other novels I’m adding to when I get stuck on Sky Heart. Two are set in the same world and another is a sparkly brand new idea which I shouldn’t let distract me.
Word Count Progress (15 days)
Here’s a charts showing my progress over that past 15 days:
The red line is the number of words I need to achieve everyday to hit 50k by the end of the month. The yellow line is my personal daily goal. It’s more than the NaNo goal because I have taken into account taking days off for my book launch and birthdays. The blue bars are number of words written. Although, I am behind on my personal goal, I am still really pleased with where I am at.
You can see that I got off to a great start. I was so ready to write. I think it helped that I’d had a week off and enjoyed lots of family time.
Then, I got headache that lasted a few days. All my energy went into work. The anxiety about my book launch caught up with me & I struggled with sleep. It sucked my creativity dry.
World Indie Warriors were doing live sprints on Instagram. Attending one got me motivated again. We did a few sprints and I was back into my project again.
These are the things that have taken me away from my writing and aren’t necessarily bad things, but have all impacted my goals.
This was not planned. But after having a nappy flung at me and my naked child squealing wee wee, it was easy to see she was interested in using a toilet. Often I write on my phone but it’s hard to get in the flow when any second you’re little declares they need to Go! Go! Go!
November is full of birthdays making it a difficult writing month. The first half of the month includes my son’s birthday and mine. Despite lockdown we tried to make the day a little more special. I did get to write for my birthday but Noah’s day was about Noah.
The book I am enjoying at the moment is If The Broom Fits by Sarah Sutton.
I’ve also just discovered Litsy. The app is a little like Instagram but all about books. I’ve spent a bit of time trying to figure out using the site but I’m starting to get the hand of it. I was a bit confused my ‘blurb’ which is just a post about anything, not a book blurb.
I went live on YouTube with author H.B. Lyne. I always get nervous leading up to the event but afterwards I’m energised. So, I headed over to Instagram to hear Elexis Bell do a live reading of her new book A Heart of Salt & Silver. I’ve pre-ordered it but it’s taking ages to come. I want it now! Wah! I then headed over to World Indie Warriors who were hosting a live writing sprint on Instagram.
At the start of the month was the Ocean Heart Book Blitz. I tried to retweet or share posts by everyone that took part. I didn’t have to but I really value those that support my launch. It meant a lot to me that they took an interest in my book.
People often talk about why writing reviews are so important to authors but what about for you the reader. Here we go:
Your Reading History
If you read a lot, you can forget what you’ve read. You don’t want to waste time reading a book you didn’t enjoy, twice.
But on the flip side, wouldn’t it be awesome to rediscover the books you did love. You don’t want to forget those gems.
If you enjoy a challenge, set yourself a reading goal. Celebrate your wins doing something you love.
If you discover your not getting time to read, it could help you identify that your life is too hectic and you don’t get to relax. Or maybe your energy is focussed elsewhere, which is fine. You can reduce your goal.
It helps you not forget the name of that author whose voice you loved. Now, you can discover more of their books.
You can follow authors you like on sites like Goodreads, Book Bub and Amazon. This will help keep you notified of new releases.
Over time your tastes may change but seeing what you enjoyed helps identify what you love. In turn, this will help you discover more fabulous books.
If you post your review to sites like Good Reads or Amazon, then algorithms will learn what you want and recommend what to buy/read next. This can save you time in finding your next great read.
Others will read your reviews, see what you like and be able to make intelligent recommendations.
You may connect with people with similar tastes, get reading buddies, and/or develop a book club. Reading can become a social activity, and thanks to the internet, you can buddy a reader anywhere in the world.
By talking about the books you read, you become someone people trust for recommendations. Imagine being an influencer for the books you love, someone others take notice of? If you’re good at reviews, this could be you.
Self Development – Reading
There’s more to reading than getting from page 1 to the end. When you write a review you reflect on what you read.
What was it about? How did it make you feel? Did you learn from the story?
Reflecting on what you read is a skill you are taught at school to deepen your reading but is often lost when you no longer have a teacher invested in your reading.
Self Development – Writing
When you write a review, you’ll think about what was done well and how you can use those techniques in your own work. Being a reader helps you deliver more of what readers want.
You will also be exposed to new words or phrases, expanding your vocabulary. You will visit places, meet new people, and explore plots that will inspire new ideas.
Free Books For Honest Reviews
Authors look for people that read their genre. If they are giving their book away for free, they want it to be to someone that will appreciate and love their book. If you apply to be a reviewer, your history as a reviewer could be checked.
The reason is, if you love their genre, their book is off to a good start already in your hands. If you have a following that enjoy your reviews on this genre, then you’ll be helping the right eager readers discover it.
When authors can see what you like, it helps them know if their book is right for you. Someone that enjoys gritty serious crime novels is unlikely to enjoy a sweet high school romance.
We’re all beautifully unique. It’s okay if YA Contemporary Fantasy isn’t for you, but I’m hoping those that do will love and review OCEAN HEART.
Have you preordered Ocean Heart?
If you buy a copy of Ocean Heart between 1 Oct and 1 Dec, you can enter my preorder giveaway. Visit my Giveaway Page for more details.
Where can you find my reviews?
Let me know the positives you’ve experienced from writing book reviews, and check out my reviews.
The next character to make an appearance is rival, Kiely. Although, this month I’m working on book 2 of the series and she’s the MC. She would claim Mariah is the rival.
Role in Ocean Heart: Antagonist (Poor Kiely is the enemy simply for being Jace’s girlfriend. Jealousy is an ugly trait.)
Kiely and her friends are gorgeous and it. But, the demands of being popular comes at a price.
Kiely tries hard to be nice, not a stereotypical mean girl. Girls want to hate her, and being nice seems to make them more mad. Her best mate Fallon has always got her back and puts the haters in their place.
Despite being gorgeous and friendly, Kiely has struggled to get a boyfriend. Fallon says it’s because high school boys can’t handle a goddess…
…Until Jace asks her out. She is smitten and gives the relationship her all. She even lets his best friend, Mariah, borrow her clothes. Although, Mariah’s and Jace’s friendship makes her feel insecure, she trusts they are just friends.
Kiely can be a little superficial, her image is important. She worries so much about what others think she’ll tell little white lies. Kiely’s lies will get her into deep trouble, but you’ll have to read SKY HEART to discover more about that. Sky Heart is book 2 in The Soul Hearts series.
What my editor said…
Avery didn’t analyse Kiely’s characters. Although, there were inline comments on my manuscript relating to her.
This is probably because Kiely isn’t a main character in Mariah’s life but she is a main character in THE SOUL HEART SERIES. The next book is all about Kiely and I’m hoping to get that ending written during NaNoWriMo.
Kiely was called Kya which means Diamond in the Sky (book 2s original title). Avery pointed out a lot of characters names ended in an “Ah” sound. As a result, I changed her name to Kiely. This wasn’t her first name change.
This is the first time I’ve taken part in an Xpresso Book Tour but I just loved the look and sound of Oufoxed. The chance to find out more was so tempting, I applied to host a Behind the Book interview.
What inspired your novel Outfoxed?
This is a weird answer, only because… it’s just going to sound weird. Which is weird. So, I often do ‘what if’ speculative questioning about Life, the Universe, and Everything. This time, I wanted to pursue several things: what would happen if I fractured the United States in a ‘hardline’ fashion? In this case, quadrants due to fluctuating magical zones, with distorting boundaries separating the quadrants. This makes traveling between the quadrants difficult.
How would society change if the United States became separated in such a fashion?
The next question I wanted to pursue was “under what circumstances would people willfully sell themselves into slavery?” I also expanded that to “What would happen if parents could sell their children into slavery?”
Side-note: most parents absolutely do NOT sell their children into slavery, but some do because they can in this society. Some pare paid to enroll their child into the system, but most parents who do are upgrading life for their kids. Before you get out the pitchforks, let me explain a little.
Here is the scenario: You have a child. You are from a destitute part of society. You are in a situation where you can’t really provide for your child as you want.
You have some things going for you. The right kind of magic. Good looks. Some desirable trait. More importantly, your child has those qualities as well, thus your child is a desirable for someone in a higher bracket of society.
In the system I’ve created, the person being sold is the one who is paid for the sale, most of them do so voluntarily, and there are strict requirements on how they are treated.
Your child, who had no opportunities, now may become the wife or husband (it’s equal opportunity) of someone in a position of power. They are given money to set up in their new life.
This is the pitch voters were successfully sold in the society, and they, as a nation, voted to have this system put into place.
For another fun side note, this system is founded on historical systems from several different countries, where people absolutely did buy the daughters or sons of one family to join theirs. I just implanted pre-existing systems into the United States and modified it to better fit the evolution of the society thanks to magic.
Note: I do not, in any shape or form, support the creation of this sort of society. I just got curious and wanted to see what would happen if I wrote a society like this, put characters in it, and wrote out how the system worked and how the characters fight to change it.
Novels would be boring if I didn’t give them something to work with or a conflict, after all.
And of course, what can go wrong in the book will go wrong, as Jade discovers for herself.
What did you enjoy most about writing your urban fantasy novel?
Just about everything. This story is so complex, and it’s set in such a rich version of Earth… it wasn’t easy to write, but it was a delight, a challenge, and a passion. It’s a lot of things I love about urban fantasy in one package… with a twist(er) tossed in for good measure.
This is book 1 in The Fox Witch series – Did you know you were writing a series from the start?
Yes. Before I even started writing Outfoxed, I had all three covers of the trilogy purchased, titled, and in my hands. I also started the ground work on its sister quartets and trilogies. At current count, there are something like twenty books across a bunch of trilogies and quartets, each one following a different set of characters. The next set in the world to come out will have connections to Jade and her friends in one way or another. (I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to tell you how they’re connected yet.)
How many books do you anticipate in the series and what can we look forward to in the series?
The Fox Witch books are a trilogy, but there will, as I mentioned above, be a collection of a bunch of trilogies and quartets. There will be a ‘main’ series consisting of ten books, but until I have the cover art for the first book of that set, it isn’t being fully announced. However, I can announce the name of the model for the cover: Mr. Grace Draven, the husband of the wonderfulauthor of the Wraith King series. (I love these books, and I’m extremely biased; I format and proofread for Grace.)
I begged for Mr. Grace Draven to model for me. I begged. He finally agreed, and I screamed happily when it happened.
How long did Outfoxed take to write from the first idea to publishing?
Good question. I think about two years. When I initially started it, it was a pure passion project, and it wasn’t until I started wrapping up a different series I began working on it in earnest.
If you could have any super power what would you choose and why?
Regeneration and brain refreshing. After about six hours of working, I’m so exhausted, but I want to keep writing, but my brain checks out. I’d like to be able to refresh my brain on command. Also, sleep without tossing and turning for hours. I love sleeping… but it doesn’t happen easily or as often as I would like!
Which character in your novel do you relate to most and why?
Hrm. This is a good question. I really don’t know. I try to write myself out of my characters as much as possible, because readers are trying to read adventures about those characters, not about me! I insert food I like into the books. (If you see a character obsessed with a food, it’s probably a food I like. Not always, but often. It’s a controlled self-insertion, and it’s now an ongoing joke. I also do this with cars, although… look for the vehicles I destroy in creative fashions. Chances are I really like that car, SUV, or truck. The more creative I am about the destruction of it, the more I like it.)
In life is stranger than fiction, I bought the truck from one of the books. For my husband. It’s his truck. His dream truck. (It’s also my dream truck, but I would have my dream truck in a different color.) But the lead character in Cheetahs Never Win, following the very creative destruction of his truck… got his dream truck.
Which I now own.
I named my husband’s truck Dipshit. (After the horse in Water Viper.)
My sense of humor is strange.
For the record, my husband calls the truck Warspite. After the battleship.
Can you tease us with a short snippet from Outfoxed?
The rumble escalated, and the lamp swayed on its chain, a warning one of the twisters passed directly overhead. Sandro frowned, his gaze locking on the light. “I wonder how much damage that swarm’s doing.”
People from all over the United States came to the Alley, and I’d joined everyone else in no longer caring where someone came from. He had an accent compared to the locals, but I couldn’t tell if he was deliberately hiding where he came from or if he always sounded like he could have lived anywhere in the world and magically fit in.
His question, however, told me a simple truth: Sandro hadn’t been in the Alley long. Those who’d survived through their first tornado season no longer cared about the damage ratings of a twister or a swarm.
It didn’t matter.
No matter how bad it got, like a weed in the cracks of a sidewalk, Tulsa endured.
When and where can we buy Outfoxed?
Outfoxed is available at all major retailers, and releases on November 3, 2020!
Beyond that, I am rather reclusive, usually because I’m hiding in my cave writing more books.
Thank you so much for hosting!
Outfoxed R.J. Blain (The Fox Witch, #1) Publication date: November 3rd 2020 Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Death is a way of life outside of the safety of Inner Tulsa, and Jade means to keep flipping Mother Nature off until old age claims her. With one eye always on the sky, the last thing she needs is a pack of bounty hunters out for her living head. With no idea of why anyone would want her, her wits might keep her free, assuming she can resist the charming lures of Sandro, one of the men out to claim her as his own.
Left with the choice of being the evening snack of a tornado or taking shelter with the bounty hunter, she does what she does best: she lives on the edge.
Striking a bargain with the handsome bounty hunter buys her another day of life, but it also dumps her into the heart of a sinister plot, one meant to enslave the residents of the storm-tossed city—and the others brave and foolish enough to call the Alley home.
OCEAN HEART is my debut novel, my first ever book launch. I’m trying to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to not know about my awesome novel being released into the world.
I’m fortunate enough to have a place on Pagan Malcolm’s Storyseller Academy self paced course. One of the modules talks about the many ways you can market your book. She’s very motivational, getting people to be brave and push themselves to achieve more. I brainstormed different opportunities open to me and then reached out to people.
Getting these events organised is taking up most of my time at the moment. I’m not getting much reading or writing done. But, as scary as it is saying “Look At My Book,” it’s also incredibly important. And, very exciting!
Book Blitz (2-6 NOV)
Kicking off today is the Ocean Heart Book Blitz by Expresso Tours. Participants will be showing off excerpts from Ocean Heart and details of my preorder giveaway. You may see it popping up on the web and if you do, let me know.
Here are the list of participants. Do you recognise any?
Blog Tour (24-30 NOV)
Yay! Some lovely author friends have offered to write blog posts to spread the word of Ocean Heart in the lead up to my Release.
Indie Fire (28 NOV)
This is a festival that celebrates Indie Publishing. In previous years is has taken place in Bradford but this year it is online due to Covid.
I’m not a guest. I helped out in the background to put their brochure together. As a thank you, I am also featured in the brochure and got a free ticket.
If your a writer, check out the workshops. For £20 it packs in A LOT! And with lifetime access to the content.
A brand new indie writing and publishing conference, focusing on sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.
An entire day of virtual writing and indie publishing workshops and panel discussions. Plus, a special recording of The Unstoppable Authors Podcast!
• Saturday 28th November 2020 • All ONLINE! • Tickets £20 each
To thank all the awesome people that purchased Ocean Heart on eBook or paperback between 1 Oct and 30 Nov, I will be inviting them to enter my preorder giveaway. Winner announced during the live on 1 Dec.
To enter and for full details of this giveaway visit my giveaway page.
Book Signing (non-contact)
I’m ecstatic that I managed to arrange this despite the current situation.
Those local to Felixstowe can preorder Ocean Heart from our local bookstore, Stillwater Books, and they will order it in.
I will visit just to sign the books. Due to Covid, this needs to be a closed event (nobody will be there, but me in a face mask, and the shop keeper).
Local customers can then collect their signed copy from the store or have it delivered to their doorstop.
Rose’s & Dreams Christmas Advent Countdown
Authors Rose English & Maria Gibbs have arranged a Christmas advent to showcase indie authors in the lead up to Christmas. This advent is good for your health and will only feed your bookish curiosity.
Set up like an advent calendar, you visit each day in December to discover a new indie author & book. Ocean Heart will be hiding behind one of the doors and I’m excited to discover the other indie authors/books taking part.
Well… I have not one, not two, but THREE projects for November. And, I still probably won’t make the 50k goal.
That’s not me being a defeatist. I’m not quitting before I start. In fact, despite the odds, I’m still going to try. And, you should too!
November is always a busy month. It’s my son’s & I’s birthdays, and the birthday of lots of other loved ones. On top of that, I’m launching Ocean Heart. There’s a lot going on. Plus, someone always gets ill in November – I’m hoping the social distancing is going to help avoid that this year.
Realistically, November is not the best month for me to write. However, the NaNo challenge encourages me to be more focussed and accountable. Because of this, I write more because I took part. And, I love the community spirit, writing with us.
Project 1 – Sky Heart
This is the main project. Sky Heart is book 2 in The Soul Heart Series. Getting this published will be my 2021 big goal. So, I need to get it written.
Kiely got dumped for Christmas. Heartbroken she makes rash decisions to get over her ex-boyfriend, starting with a blindfold and a mystery kisser.
Kiely’s new wild lifestyle places her in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now she must stay alive, as she’s drawn into an ancient shifter war with werewolves and reapers.
Kiely’s battle to overcome her ex is about to take her to new heights.
Project 2 – Prequel
This will be a short novella. I may give it away as a readers magnet for newsletter signups. It’ll be a Historical Fantasy, but not set a long time ago. It’ll be in the 90s.
Project 3 – Luna
My werewolf villain wants me to tell her story. I’m not sure if it will be written just for me so I know her better or to share her with the world.
Luna’s story is also to be a Historical Fantasy. This will be going back to medieval times. It’s anticipated to be a novella.
What about you?
Are you doing NaNo this year? And, what do you think of my projects?
I usually focus on just one but I’m really feeling all three of these right now and just want my creativity to flow.
I’m planning on attending a few live write ins with World Indie Warriors on Instagram.