It’s Indie Author Week UK

I’m really excited to be involved in this event, especially as so many incredible indie authors are taking part. This year, I’m one of those authors.

What am I doing?

I am streaming live to my YouTube channel. Join me on Tues, 15 June at 8pm (GMT+1), where I will be joined by these awesome Indie Authors to chat about why we love being Indie.

The line up includes:

💛 Romantic Suspense author Cassidy Reyne: https://www.cassidyreyne.com/

💛 Worldbuilding & World Destroying author Angeline Trevena: https://angelinetrevena.co.uk/

💛 Contemporary Fantasy author J D Groom (Jodie): https://jodiegroom.wordpress.com/

💛 And, of course myself, Ally Aldridge: http://allyaldridge.com/

It’s live, so you can join in by asking questions or sharing your thoughts. We can’t wait to see you there.

How to make sure you don’t miss out!

Here’s the link. Make sure you hit that notification bell so you know when we go live: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TG1203XOADs

You may also want to add the FB event to your calendar so your don’t forget: fb://event/?id=1401390906894506

Indie Author Week UK

To find out more about Indie Author Week UK, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IndieAuthorWeekUK/

They have a ton of incredible events going on. If you can’t make a live, look out for the replay.

[kofi]

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MerMay Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my MerMay Giveaway for a chance to win a book token.

Entry was free and open to all. My newsletter subscribers got an extra entry.

I decided to use Miniwebtool.com random name picker, to choose from the entries from both Instagram and webform (link was in the newsletter ).

The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified.

The Book Token wasn’t the only thing I gave away during May!

Free eBook

To celebrate Ocean Heart now being available on Google Play, I made it free to all for the first week of May. In addition, to thank my followers on Ko-Fi, I provided them a link that enabled them to get Ocean Heart for free for the entire month of May.

Thank you to everyone that took advantage of my MerMay book deal and treated themselves to a free copy of Ocean Heart. Happy reading and if you have time, please write a review. Reviews are super important to authors as it helps our books get discovered. 💛

More Freebies

In April, I tried out the shop feature on Ko-Fi by offering a free digital Book Tracker. I made this product free and it’s still Free! Go download it now.

You can also buy Ocean Heart from my Ko-Fi shop and there’s an option to purchase a signed copy.

Charity donations

For MerMay I did an ocean themed spread on Instagram. It made me want to do something to support a cause that helps the sea and/or marine life.

Choosing a charity to donate to was harder than I thought. There are so many amazing charities out there.

I decided to use Miniwebtool.com random name picker again. This time I used it to select a charity from my shortlist. It picked Blue Marine Foundation

By working together, we can turn the tide on overfishing and the destruction of biodiversity. By supporting BLUE, you can help to create marine reserves around the world.

Blue Marine Foundation

Don’t miss out…

The best way to make sure you don’t miss out on any future freebies or Giveaways is by:

💛 Subscribe to my newsletter

💛 Follow me on Instagram

💛 Follow me on Kofi

[kofi]

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💕 Why I love Tom MacDonald 💖

Who is Tom MacDonald

Tom MacDonald is an indie artist creating rap music. He has no record label, no publicist, he’s not signed with anyone.

He does most of it on his own, with help from his girlfriend rapper, song writer, video editor, Nova Rockafella. She mainly shoots & edits his videos. Sometimes they enlist the help of of their best friends.

Behind every great man, is an even greater woman! 😘

Unknown

How I discovered Tom MacDonald

I discovered Tom MacDonald in 2020. I follow Gothix on YouTube and she posted a reaction video to his song No Lives Matter. In the heat of the BLM movement made me think, “Woah, that’s risky!

Gothix often speaks out on identity politics and being a black woman. I find her conversations to be intelligent and she supports her points with facts and resources. She gets hate for being controversial, but she’s not, if you listen actually listen to what she’s saying. Here’s the video:

How I became a fan

This lead me to check out more of Tom MacDonald’s videos. I’ve not listened to rap or Hip Hop since the 90s, but I found myself really enjoying his stuff. I subscribed to his channel.

A short while later he dropped Best Rapper Ever. This record needs to be the theme tune of ever indie artist.

As a fellow indie I am well aware of the amount of work that goes into creating and launching your product. Tom is an artist! But like all artists he battles self doubt.

The video tells a story of his inner demon taunting him, and Tom rising above it and becoming The Best Rapper. Believing in oneself is a story many indies can relate to and have struggled with.

Supporting fellow indies

I couldn’t believe this guy had no record label! His small team is his girlfriend (Nova), and two best friends that help out. He writes his lyrics, raps, creates the set, records, edits, formats, publishes, and markets it! He is hitting number one in the charts consistently, and all his profit, is his. Nobody owns him.

I started buying Tom’s tracks from iTunes. As a genuine fan, I want to see him at number one. As a fellow indie, I find him empowering. He encourages me to not give up, to chase my dream, and be a successful indie!

Does Tom diss Eminem?

Whenever someone does well there are those that feel threatened. It’s sad really – Haters gonna hate. Like thinking that fans of Tom’s can’t be fans of anyone else.

Tom is a big fan of Eminem. He’s spoken openly about how he inspired him to get into rap, and is complimentary to his legend. More on this later.

No. He doesn’t diss Eminem but he does have a rap battle with MacLethal. Mac is an Irish rapper famous for his record Look At Me Now, whilst flipping pancakes, and can say 400 words in a minute 😅.

Flawdzilla does a great YouTube video reacting to the battle. It’s quite clear that Tom won with his trademark truths, where as Mac resorted to childish taunts that make you cringe. Tom even makes patter cake look cool.

Recently Eminem auctioned the beats of his famous track, Dear Stan. Tom MacDonald placed a bid, and some Eminem fans freaked out. They got scared that Tom was going to use the track to diss Eminem. They created a Go Fund Me to out bid Tom, but Tom won. He used it to create, Dear Slim.

This video really does showcase Tom & Nova’s combined creative talents. They’ve created a set inspired by Eminem’s original video. I think they did it in a matter of weeks too!

The video isn’t dissing Eminem, it’s Tom declaring himself as Eminem’s biggest fan. So big, he has become Eminem.

I enjoyed NoLifeShaq’s reaction video, with guest Tom MacDonald. Seeing Tom react to his own video was next level. He got to share about making it with Shaq, and its just incredible to hear the effort that goes into producing his music.

Another great interview was by Unique Access Ent. and starts off about buying an NFT (how he came to own Eminem’s beat). He also talks about his writing process, generating ideas, inspiration, and everything that goes into making a music video.

My final thoughts…

Tom is not owned by mainstream, and retains his creative freedom. He makes it look easy but so much work goes into producing his results. He has earned every penny, doing it himself, his way. Together with Nova, the pair are unstoppable.

I don’t know how they’re doing it. It feels like they have a new release every other week, but the quantity is not impacting the quality. I hope they don’t burn out which is common with indies. The line between work and play blurs, and we have a habit of forgetting to switch off.

Love or hate Tom, you can’t deny he has talent. He is an example of what working hard for your passions can achieve.

Don’t sit around waiting to be signed. Go make you dreams a reality today. Make it happen!

[kofi]

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Camp NaNo April 2021 – Midway Check In

Here’s my Camp NaNo writers diary for the first half of Camp NaNo.

This post contains a few bookshop.org affiliate links.

Weds, 31 March

Camp NaNo Eve I attended the first of World Indie Warriors IG Lives. J D Groom & Cassidy Reyne are the hosts and introduced their own Camp NaNo projects.

WIW are also doing snippet challenge on IG to give people an excuse to share her the projects they are writing.

Each week there is a prompt, and you post a snippet from your WIP on that theme. I’m a rebel and posting on different days. But, I’m determined to do them all within April.

Thurs, 1 April

I caught a Writing Sprint on Facebook hosted by @unstoppableauthors . It helped me make a good start on my goals, achieving 1k words. I’m going to look out for this sprint next week.

The sprint was hosted by Urban Fantasy author H B Lyne and dystopian author Angeline Trevena. Both also have published writing resource books.

Friday, 2 April

Busy day today. I took my son to play in the garden of a friends house. It was really cold and we couldn’t go inside due to the pandemic rules.

My husband found my long lost Kindle. It needs charging but I’m so happy to have it back.

I managed to write 500 words today. I am so close to the end now but took a break as I’m struggling to picture the big fight scene.

I finished reading A Heart of Salt & Silver. Look out for my full review next week. A short version is already on Goodreads, Litsy, and Amazon.

Saturday, 3 April

Spent the evening going through the list of people I follow but don’t follow me back to decide if I want to unfollow them.

#WIWSaturdaySnippet

Sunday, 4 April

I went to Homebase to get paint for some redecorating we’ve been talking about for ages.

Didn’t feel well so I went to bed early. Good news was my Kindle is charged, so I watched The Wilds on Prime.

Monday, 5 April

I cleared out my son’s bedroom and did masking tape. His room was the first we decorated when we moved in. At age 5, he peeled off the animal stickers as he said they were to babyish, and we promoted to redecorate… 2y later, we are doing it.

My son is a bit nervous about not sleeping in his room. He doesn’t like change. But, he’s excited to see his new grown up room tomorrow.

Still not feeling great, so had another early night. I didn’t write but I did a lot of research and practicing a new skill, that I’m hoping to sell one day. I was creative, but not with Sky Heart.

Tuesday, 6 April

Noah loves his new room. #Win

I had work all day today but managed to write 500 words for Sky Heart. I have roughly three major scenes to go but these are big ones and pretty tough. I’ll admit I feel intimidated.

I’ve done some brain storming for the big battle but still can’t see it clear in my head. I can however see the ending, so I may jump ahead to that.

Wednesday, 7 April

I worked more on my secret project. I also worked on prepping images for my IG feed.

This evening I watched the WIW Live with guest author Kara S Weaver. They chatted about editing, the different types, and why it’s important.

Thursday, 8 April

Today has been pretty chilled out other than my phone screen cracking.

I won a free call with Pagan Malcolm, who coaches authors to take their careers to the next level. I’m booked in next week, early Friday morning (although for her, I think it’s late). I’m not sure what to expect – should I get her to help with my battle, public speaking, or my secret project. Whatever we get up to, I’ll probably blog my experience.

I watched the replay of a masterclass I recently attended on how to write a 5 star ending. Then I watched a live author chat from the fantasy writers festival, QuaranCon2021.

Once the kids were in bed, I used an app to animate my characters created in Art Breeder, to sing. Author procrastination at its finest.

Mariah from Ocean Heart on Wombai.ai

Then, I attended a writing chat and Sprint by Unstoppable Authors hosted by H B Lyne and Angelina Trevena, and wrote 478 words.

Friday, 9 April

This was a bad day. First, my 2 year old threw my mobile phone and the screen cracked. I use my mobile for everything but can’t afford to fix it, so I’ll have to carry on and hope it doesn’t get worse.

Then, I received news that my daughter isn’t getting a place at our chosen nursery. She was on a waiting list for morning sessions which fit around my work & childcare availability but they only have afternoon sessions. To accommodate that, I’d have to cut my working hours in half and not only is my employer unlikely to agree to that as it’d make travelling to my appointments within the time very challenging, but I also can’t afford to reduce my hours. I now need to find another nursery or quit my job. There aren’t many nursery’s nearby as most closed permanently during the pandemic for various reasons.

When I’m stressing about a problem I can’t write. I opened my manuscript and stared at the blank page before closing it and trying something creative. I worked on my secret project.

Saturday, 10 April

We decided that I’m no stressed enough, so we painted part if the front room. Every chance my 2y old got, she was “help painting”. It was exhausting keeping her away all day, and the house was freezing as we kept the windows open.

I did not write. My head is not in the right place.

#WIWSnippetSaturday

Sunday, 11 April

So, my 2y old didn’t sleep. She was up at 3am. By 5am I gave up and she attempted to “Help painting.” I’m pretty sure I’m running on empty.

I did make progress on some blog posts and have drafted two Behind the Book posts that I now just need to proofread and schedule. I probably won’t get to this until next weekend.

I also helped my 7y old son to create a cute Woodland scene for school. We borrowed my mum’s Cricut Maker and he created his die cuts in Canva, and I helped him add them to Cricut. I then helped with sticking them down where he told me, while he painted. We spent over two hours on it.

I’m so frustrated. I want to write the fight scene for Sky Heart but it’s not coming to me. I didn’t want to waste my time, so I worked on my secret project.

Monday, 12 April

I’ve found two nurseries that might be able to take Aria. Fingers crossed I can sort this out so I can feel more settled.

I spent most my day playing with Aria, and tidying up. I also completed most of the application form for one of the nurseries.

I accidentally forgot to charge my laptop so it was taking ages to come on even with the charger in. I decided to watch some TV with my hubby.

Tuesday, 13 April

I worked all day today.

Then, in the evening I wrote 192 words. It doesn’t sound like much but I finally had a breakthrough with the difficult scene and can see it now!

Wednesday, 14 April

I worked today, and by the time the kids were in bed, it was already 9pm. I attended the World Indie Warriors IG Live. Today the guest speaker was Michelle Raab, chatting marketing, writing dystopia, and psychology.

Keily from Sky Heart on Wombo.ai

[kofi]

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Goodreads 2020 Reads

Something I love about Goodreads is how easy it is to track my progress towards my reading goals. At the end of the year, Goodreads gives stats on my reads.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link. NB: This post contains these affiliate links.

2020 Reading Goals

My goal was set at 12 books, thinking I could easily read one a month but I hadn’t taken into account how busy I’d be certain months launching my own book, Ocean Heart. It turned out just 12 books was harder than I thought.

The year has include some books I absolutely loved, and one I hated. I’m pretty good at choosing books I know I will love that I wasn’t surprised that my average rating was high. I just don’t have time to read books I won’t like. 😂

Wiccan Romances: Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

This was my first read of 2020. It was a book I’d been eager to buy, but was lucky enough to win a copy from the author on Twitter! Whoop! Whoop! I love fantasy set in the real world so it was a good start to my year.

My last two reads of 2020 were Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten and… I rather unusual choice for me… The Substantial Meal by Florence Green. I’ve rated them both on Goodreads but still need to write the review.

Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten

I think I preordered this book, but I’m such a slow reader, by the time I got to it, it’d been out a little while. I’m going to write a review very soon but as you can see from my 5 star rating, I LOVED THIS BOOK!

The Substantial Sandwich by Florence Green

I can’t remember how Florence & I got talking, but I was a bit glum I wasn’t going to make my pathetic reading goal of just 12 books. I was beating myself up. Then Florence cheered my up by sending me his recent release, an erotic satire using innuendos and puns about the Covid restrictions. It was a quick short read and succeeded at cheering me up. Review coming soon.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas is the most popular book I read. I’m not surprised as I saw it all over Instagram. I actually bought my copy in summer 2019 at YALC.

Another YALC buy was Sea Witch by Sarah Henning. It’s a historical fantasy/fairytale retelling of The Little Mermaid. I really loved the book, and hope to read book 2 in the series this year.

A book that should be more popular is Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom. It’s contemporary fantasy and has everything I love in a book. The MC was relatable, but all the side characters were well developed. With a modern day sorceress, fairies and vampires, what’s not to love?

2021 Reading Goal

To alleviate pressure, I’ve lowered my reading goal to 10 fiction books. I know, some people can read that amount in a month. But, I read for pleasure. And, I have to be in the right mood. If I’m too tired or engrossed in my own writing, I just can’t get into the book.

I also have a few resource books I need to read and review. I didn’t review any last year despite reading some. So, you can look forward to that. These are separate from my reading goal.

[kofi]

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How was your 2020?

I think we can all agree that this year has been unexpected. I started the year with concerns over a new flu virus threatening to sweep the world and feeling a bit silly for being so worried about it. But, by the end of February, the rest of the country had caught up with my fears, and we were on lockdown.

Conspiracy Theories

As a result, it has made me more open to conspiracy theories. The things I saw at the start of the year that caused my concerns were of people being chained in their homes to prevent the spread, Wuhan the hospitals being overwhelmed, and people dropping dead in the streets. Thankfully, we’ve not had it that severe here. In fact, I suspect those early videos weren’t real. Luckily we don’t know anyone personally that has had Covid. I’m over being worried.

I’m following a few Court Cases: Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard, Ghislaine Maxwell (and Epstein) vs the trafficked girls (and boys, if any come forward), and Trump vs Election Fraud.

Adapting to the new normal

My husband and I are now predominantly working from home. We even had a short spell of home schooling our son – which was quite challenging but we did it. My little girl has adapted to having us both home. It has brought us closer together as we get to spend more time together as a family.

All this staying home has been great for the environment. I hope when we come out of this, people do think more about whether they need to travel.

What we’ve missed

Play groups is something I feel I’ve missed the most. Aria was enjoying playing with other kids and using different toys, and I appreciated meeting up with other mums. Noah has just hit that age where he wants to play at his friend’s homes, and found not having a party for his birthday tough. My hubby has missed the freedom of going out, like having the option to just visit someone.

We missed days out. Even when the lockdown relaxed we didn’t go out like we used to. For example, this summer, the local beach was heaving with people so we avoided it. We also didn’t go to the local farms. We did manage to go to the zoo and had a lovely day out.

What I’m thankful for

Mostly, I’ve been in the minority that has enjoyed lockdown. I like not having the commute to work, there’s no wear and tear on my car, or cost of car parking, and petrol. I enjoy not having any social pressures to go out, meet up, dress nice, or attend any special occasions.

I liked my stay at home birthday, minimum fuss, and collection dinner from the Dooley (local pub). I’m looking forward to a quiet cosy Christmas with just my husband and kids. It feels like life has slowed down so we can enjoy moments and value what is important.

Something we’ve all come to value is out health and wellbeing. We will continue to take care of ourselves and each other.

Achievements

I am so chuffed I hit my goal of publishing Ocean Heart. Originally I wanted to publish it in May but it was a lot more work than I anticipated and I ended up putting the date back to 1 Dec.

The launch was another big achievement. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and did things I would never have done before. I started a YouTube channel, and did a few live streams, including my launch party. I did two press release interviews, and I did a radio interview that was played live twice. And, I managed to arrange a book signing in a pandemic!

What a way to end the year! I must admit, I do feel exhausted, but I am eager to get writing that next book.

Happy Christmas

Thank you for be part of my 2020. I have been blown away by the support of so many this year which has been a real highlight. I want to wish you a Happy Christmas – however, you chose to celebrate the holidays.

I hope you are able to find things to be thankful for, and are surrounded by loved ones. I hope you have a good book to help you escape the madness this year has been.

Wishing you all the best for 2021

My next post won’t be until 2021 as I am spending the rest of this year setting my goals and developing a plan to achieve them.

On that note, I wish you a happy new year too, and I hope 2021 is full of joy.

[kofi]

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9 Years Married

Yesterday was Father’s Day in the UK and I looked back at photographs of my dad and I, and Photos of my husband with our kids. I feel so blessed to have had both their influences in my life.

A collage of pics showing me with my dad, and my husband with our kids.

We got together in 2000, and earlier this year we celebrated being together 20y. It doesn’t feel that long as time’s flown by. We’ve been through a lot together, ups and downs, and it’s made us so strong.

We don’t make a big fuss of our anniversaries but next year we might do something as it’ll be 10 years, and that’s a big deal. We were thinking of going away but little Aria doesn’t like travelling, but I’m hoping by next year she’ll be better. And, hopefully the virus will be old news too.

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Wedding Memories

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Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea

There are simple pleasures we all miss during lockdown, things we took for granted. I enjoyed taking my kids out and meeting up with friends for play dates. Sometimes, I go to a cafe and treat myself to tea and cake. And, the best tea and cake is afternoon tea.

Afternoon Tea

“Traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches (including of course thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches), scones served with clotted cream and preserves. Cakes and pastries are also served. Tea grown in India or Ceylon is poured from silver tea pots into delicate bone china cups.” Historic-UK.com

Traditionally it’s eaten between lunch and dinner (between 4pm and 8pm), and it’s not to replace a meal… but, in my hometown, it’s quite acceptable to eat it for lunch.

Alice in Wonderland Themed

I’m a sucker for Alice in Wonderland. I haven’t even read the book (sorry), I just love the quirkinesses and the quotes. With the Mad Hatter tea party, it’s the perfect theme for afternoon tea…

So, when my friend sent me a link to a local cafe doing home delivered afternoon tea, Alice in Wonderland themed…

How could I resist?

And, it’s supporting a local business, one that sells cake and tea.

At £25 per person, it was a good price for afternoon tea which is a rather indulgent experience. But, I hesitated… How big would the portions be?

Delivered Afternoon Tea

I needn’t have worried! I’d bought two, one each for my husband and I, and to share ours with the kids. The generous helpings meant we were eating cakes for days.

But, that wasn’t all…

Check out this picture of all the beautiful touches the cafe did to make this afternoon tea so special.

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My To Be Read Pile

When I tell people I would love to read their book but unsure when I can because my reading pile grows faster than I can keep up with, this is what I am talking about…. I’m really not joking!

Here is my current reading pile… okay, so this isn’t even half of it, but these are at the top.

Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

The Sentinels (series) by Cassidy Reyne

Sea Witch Rising (series) by Sarah Henning

Number Eight Crispy Chicken by Sarah Neofield

A Court of Thorns & Roses (series) by Sarah J Maas

The Mirror Souls by Julia Scott

[More of] The Red Queen (series) by Victoria Aveyard

Join or Die by J Adrian Rut

The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Nobel

Dying Ember by River K Scott

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

As you can see this is a rather long list considering I’m lucky if I manage to read one a month. Have you read any if the above? Are any of these in your pile?

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