Behind the Book: A Heart of Salt & Silver by Elexis Bell

Elexis Bell is about to release another amazing book, and you can preorder it now. Discover how she created A HEART OF SALT & SILVER, and more on what it’s about.

I have to add how much I love the cover. It has all these gorgeous autumn colours that would look stunning in an outdoors bookstagram pic.

What genre is A Heart of Salt & Silver and can you name any similar books?

It’s a gritty paranormal high fantasy romance. I haven’t seen a lot of paranormal books set in other worlds or fantasy books with demons and werewolves, so comparable books have eluded me.

I’ve recently learned about the Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout which blends fantasy and paranormal with some romance, but since I haven’t read it yet, I don’t know if it gets quite as dark as mine.

What inspired your novel A Heart of Salt & Silver?

Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I imagine a character or two and see what happens. It helps me to center my mind so I can go to sleep. If I like the characters, I come back to them the next night, and the next, and the next. That’s how I got Ness.

I pictured the opening scene and just had to come back to it. So I wrote it. Then, I just kept going, letting the novel unfold as it needed to.

This book has werewolves & vampires, which would you rather be?

There was a time when I might have said vampire. But I’ve been drawn more and more to the woods lately, so I’d have to say werewolf.

Especially if they’re like the ones in A Heart of Salt & Silver. The vampires in my book are especially ruthless and cruel, whereas the werewolves are very loyal and honor driven.

This is your fifth published book, what’s your method?

As far as writing is concerned, I just write. I’m definitely a pantser. If I know too much about where a book is going, I lose interest. So I don’t plan. I just write. If I need to stop and change anything, I stop writing to make adjustments, as that will likely affect the way the rest of novel goes. For instance, I stopped writing A Heart of Salt & Silver at 40,000 words in and did a complete rewrite. Some chapters were removed entirely and replaced with new ones. Every chapter that remained, had to be completely redone because of a very serious perception shift for one character that affected how that particular individual viewed (and acted toward) every other character.

Usually, it takes me about 4 to 6 months to write the first draft. Even with the 40k rewrite, I still came in at 4 months for this novel.

Then, I edit while writing something else.

Are there any genres you can’t see yourself writing?

Contemporary romance. I don’t like writing in the real world. Not unless there are really high stakes for the individual, like in a thriller.

What are you working on next?

Well, I’m editing two dark high fantasy romances and a thriller novella. I’m also writing a sci-fi series that just keeps expanding.

Please share a short snippet or teaser from A Heart of Salt & Silver?

Behind me, the wounded man waits.

Turning to face him, I take in his appearance. A bit of scruff decorates his jaw. Dark eyebrows and tan skin frame shining green eyes. Simple clothes stretch tight over a well-honed physique.

Not that his muscles did much good to ward off a dagger.

No words cross his lips. He stares up at me, part fear and part awe. It’s a strange mixture, but not one I’ve never seen before.

Again, I twirl my finger in the air, releasing his Nether binding, and he slumps against the tree.

Several deep breaths quell the desire to finish him off. Still more chase away the vastly different images of him beneath me, positioned between my legs to drive Nolan from my mind, just for a while.

I blink once more and conceal my true form so that nearby animals may feel at ease. For all the world, I appear to be a normal human woman.

Jaw dropping, he presses a hand to his side and leans his head back against the tree.

“Can you walk?” I ask.

“I’ll manage,” he answers, deep voice coarse with pain.

“And your name?”

“Elias.” His voice comes out strained.

A small part of me wants to heal him. Whether it’s my half-human heart, the morals instilled in me by the Knight who raised me, or the years I’ve spent working at self-control, I can’t be sure. Perhaps it’s my stupid, overly emotional, half-demon heart sympathizing with him. Regardless of the cause, I want to take away his pain.

And yet, another, darker part of me wonders what the ground beneath him would look like dyed red with his blood.

“I’m Ness,” I say, concealing my dilemma carefully. “How about some tea?”

Where can we find out more and buy your books?

All my books are available at the link below:

www.amazon.com/author/elexis_bell

If you’re looking specifically to pre-order A Heart of Salt & Silver, you can do so here:

mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

And if you want to stay up to date on all my upcoming book releases, giveaways, and blog posts, you can subscribe to my newsletter on my website.

www.elexisbell.com

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

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There’s more than one way to query…

Querying literary agents and publishers requires thick skin and believing your novel is good enough. But, for a long time, I believed self publishing was even more scary.

I’m not querying anymore, I am bravely going indie, and super excited about it. But over the years I tried various methods of querying and I want to share these with you because you might find it useful…

Query Letter (or email/form)

This is the most well known method. Traditionally, you’d identify identify a Literary Agent or Publisher you feel will be interested in your novel and send them a letter with your manuscript. Today, many allow you to submit online using a form or by email. It’s important to follow their submission guidelines which are often available on their website.

Many publishers don’t accept “unsolicited” manuscripts. This means you need a Literary Agent. Literary Agents used to insist on exclusive queries meaning you send to one agency at a time. Thankfully this is not the norm anymore as it made the process more time consuming.

You can find details about publishers and agencies by searching online or buy The Artists & Writers Yearbook. It’s a directory of contacts and full of useful article’s- it’s updated annually.

Query Service

It can be hard work to find who to query, manage the various submission requirements and keep track. As a result various companies have set up services to support you in this.

When WeBook was about, I loved their query service. They identified who was interested in my manuscript type, adapted my attachments for each agent, and kept track of my emails. It worked and I did get a few requests.

Sadly, WeBook is no more but other companies offer a similar service, like Tracker Query. There was Agent Query Connect but the page won’t load – maybe they’ve gone.

Here’s a video review of Agent Hunter from 2 years ago. I think they rebranded as Agent Match by Jerchio Writers.

Writing Platforms

Another thing my beloved WeBook did was a competition where readers voted on the first page of a book. Then the first chapter. Then the first three chapters. If you made it to the finals it would be read by agents & publishers. Readers got virtual badges if they were good at spotting a winner!

Wattpad has the Wattys. This is an annual competition for users of their platform. The story must have been posted on the site during a set period of time. If you win, you get offered a publishing contract.

TechUntold have a good list of writing platforms in this article: 7 of the best sites like Wattpad

Swoon Reads

This is similar to the social media platforms above except it is owned by a publisher. You must post the whole complete final novel, exclusive to them for 6 months.

Readers vote on their favourites and can offer feedback. The publisher chooses their favourites from the site to offer publishing. I recently blogger about my experience which you can read here.

It sounds like Sweek offer a similar idea but with more social engagement. But, I’ve never tried Sweek – let me know if you have.

Write Mentor

This is a supportive platform full of advice and information, mainly for people interested in children’s fiction through to YA fiction.

They have exclusive opportunities for paid members but also have events for all. For the public they host an annual book festival (with opportunities to pitch & meet agents) and competitions.

Publisher Competitions

Check out publishers that publish books like yours. Although they probably don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, they may run a competition.

I entered Chicken House Publisher’s children’s fiction competition. Although I didn’t win, it was another option.

Bath Novel Awards

Look out for competitions like The Bath Novel Awards. This competition is judged by Literary Agents and readers. The winners gets a lump sum and offered representation.

Having this kind of accolade as you publish is going to be great for marketing your book. That’s why winning any competition is valuable to an author.

Mentor

If you can find a mentor, they can support you in getting published. There are plenty of competitions to find a mentor. This is another service offered by Write Mentor

The Arts Council England have different programs around the country to support writers. For example, in Norwich the National Writing Centre has mentors, and you can enter their Escalator competition to win one.

Book Festival Pitch Events

Look out of opportunities to pitch direct to an agent. Think of it like speed dating. You only have a few minutes to sell your book face-to-face. It helps to go prepared.

I took part in one at YALC and both agents I pitches to requested my manuscript.

Twitter Pitch Events

PitMad is probably the biggest query Twitter event but there are many more and some are genre sprcific.

You need to pitch your novel in a Tweet. Interested agents & publishers will like the tweet as a request. You follow their submission guidelines if you are interested back. Remember, you don’t have to send it if you’re not interested.

Manuscript Wishlist

If you’re on Twitter search for the hashtag #MSWL (Manuscript Wishlist) plus other keywords. For example, I searched for #MSWL #Mermaid to discover who wanted a mermaid story.

Even then, my MS wasn’t suitable for all. Some wanted a LGBTQIA+ mermaid story which Ocean Heart was not. Another wanted a mermaid story that represented BAME or other minority groups. Another was looking for a fantasy erotic novel.

It’s not worth wasting your time sending your MS to someone if they are looking for something specific and your MS doesn’t match.

Go Global

I kept most of my queries to the UK as I liked the idea that I could meet my agent/publisher in person. However, technology is changing all the time and making it accessible to meet people all over the world from your armchair.

During a Write Mentor festival, I got a one-on-one with a Literary Agent miles away. Whilst editing Ocean Heart, I had a meeting with my editor who was in another country.

Don’t restrict yourself by location.

I hope these 12 ideas help you in expanding your query options.

If you’re interested in indie publishing, stay tuned. I got sick of waiting for someone to say yes, so I gave myself permission to publish. I’ll be sharing my journey to help others interested in self publishing.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

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Now you can PreOrder Ocean Heart!

Behind the Character: Jace

This post is part of my series to introduce the main characters of Ocean Heart to you and what my editor said.

The next character to make an appearance is neighbour, best friend, and love interest, Jace Walker.

Ocean Heart: Jace Walker

Role in Ocean Heart: Confidant/Love Interest (As Mariah’s long time BFF she can tell him anything … well, almost anything .)

Jace Walker

Jace is really close to his mum. It’s been just the two of them, his dad left before he was born.

He’s dreaming of heading off to uni, and wants his mum to have someone before he goes.

He loves seeing her with her fiancé but when they decide to move he knows his neighbour Mariah will find this hard. Jace also knows he needs to encourage Mariah to not be so dependent on her.

What my editor said…

My editor pointed out how Jace and Mariah have a friendship through convenience. With no interests to hold them together, Jace doesn’t try that hard to stay in touch.

My editor suggested adding in some shared interests but this is a fundamental problem with their relationship. Their more like brother & sister, until hormones complicate things.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

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Behind the Character: Mariah

My Books

The Author & Me Show

I got an invitation from Instagrammer @inspire.withkhadija to be a guest on her show Author & Me.

About Khadija Masreef

Khadija Maaref is author of the book Muslim Women in Western Society. Her book is full of motivational and inspirational speeches, from a well travelled woman that has experienced many cultures.

Discover more about her and her book at https://www.khadijamaaref.com/

Author & Me

Khadija continues her inspirational messages through her show Author & Me. During this show she hosts a live interview with a guest author.

She asked me various questions about when I started writing and why, and encouraged me to share tips that would help others.

I’m going to check out the other episodes. This a free resource for everyone & bound to be full of gems of wisdom from a variety of experiences and backgrounds. You can watch it here.

My Live

Do you want to see the whole interview… then, click here.

[kofi]

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How NOT to start a novel!

Please don’t worry about these when you are writing your first drafts. Your first draft will be messy and ugly and full of cringe-worthy writing.

When writing your first draft just get the words out but when polishing it up look out for these cliches and cut them out. I hope this list is useful for you.

1. Waking up

Nobody wants to hear about your characters morning routine. We don’t want to know what they do in the bathroom, how they make & eat their breakfast, or what they pick out to wear and how they get dressed.

If you start with your character waking up, something epic needs to happen and not their usual boring morning routine.

If they wake up to an alien invasion, I’m pretty they won’t be worrying about what to wear but the reader will be right there with then running down the street screaming in their pyjamas.

2. False starts

So, you throw your reader into a beautiful dream or terrifying nightmare. The reader has no idea this isn’t real. Then, they wake up and the reader feels cheated.

You may have drawn them in but only to disappoint them. This is only acceptable if it has a purpose, like if Freddy Kruger is the antagonist.

Don’t trick your reader into spending time reading your story only to reveal they wasted their time. They won’t thank you for it and might even quit reading more.

3. Characters

At the start of the book you want readers to connect with the MC quickly. If they’re confused who the MC is, that isn’t going to happen.

Make sure it’s clear who the main character is. This is the person that will take the reader through the story. Don’t hide the MC as a surprise later.

While on the topic of characters, please don’t give them multiple names – it’s confusing. Don’t have you character Elizabeth also called Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Eliza, Babe, Buttercup, etc. I did read a story on Wattpad where someone did this and I lost count of the MC’s various names by the end of chapter 1.

Don’t waste the readers time aquainting them in depth with a character that doesn’t contribute to the overall story. If they are not important, don’t include it.

You can introduce characters during the story but don’t dump them all in chapter one. Don’t overwhelm your reader with a massive cast so there head is spinning with all the names.

4. Point of view

Be consistent. Readers will get comfortable reading in a certain POV and when it changes it takes them out. This is why writing dual or multiple character viewpoints is tricky as you don’t want to lose the reader but also need to keep their voice authentic.

Keeping your characters voice authentic is important and true to what they know or understand. Think about unreliable narrators. You may find another character is better suited as your MC or the story is told better via another POV.

5. World building

Creating realistic and vivid worlds will suck your reader in but don’t drown them in the details. Bogging them down with lengthy descriptions or explanations about the dynamics is going to kill it.

You need to show them the world, let them see, feel, taste and smell it. Put the reader in the world so they live it. Weave it into what’s happening.

If you want to write beautiful prose about nature, stick to poetry.

6. Over-explaining

Give your reader some credit, they’re not stupid. Trust them to fill in the gaps. Show the character living in the story and your reader will figure how things are based on the interactions.

Don’t use dialogue as an info dump. It really doesn’t work. Conversation aren’t showing, if you’re using it as a vice for telling the reader.

7. Fancy language

Okay, so we just covered how smart your readers are, however, they aren’t going to stick around if reading your novel is a vocabulary workout.

Too many complex words will kill the flow of your story. If the reader has to keep stopping, to figure out what they’ve read, you’ll lose them. You don’t want your readers to groan at the thought of reading your story.

In addition, be cautious about using made up words. You may have created new creatures, profession and even a new language, but if your reader needs a translator to make sense of your story, it’s too much hard work.

8. Too comfortable

Any scene that is too cosy isn’t going to compell the reader to keep going. Something needs to happen, something has to grab their interest.

Preferably a terrible conflict that makes your reader get behind your MC and follow them to the end of the story. You need to start with action.

9. Start in the present

The problem with prologues is they take place before your story starts. Many people skip reading them.

Also, using backstory or flash forwards are not great starts because your reader hasn’t developed a relationship with your character so they don’t care about their past or future.

These can have the same impact as a false start if they’re not necessary.

10. Rules are made to be broken

All the above have been associated with losing the reader but there are occasions when it does work.

If you feel strongly that your story needs multiple view points or it’s crucial the MC wakes from a dream, then do it. After all, it is your story.

I made a fun infographic:

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Where To Find The Best Indie Books

If you’re an indie, you need to know about this!

When I joined WIW I didn’t think self-publishing was for me. I only joined to connect with other writers.

Hearing their inspiring stories changed my mind. Self-publishing was no longer scary and they happily shared their experiences which I was able to learn from.

And, I achieved my initial goal of making incredible writer friends.

You can learn more by following them on:

Facebook: World Indie Warriors Members

Instagram: @WorldIndieWarriors

WordPress: World Indie Warriors

WIW eZine

This is a project that I manage for World Indie Warriors. I have been learning as I go and think each edition is better than the last!

It contains:

  • ENTERTAIN/LEARN: Articles for readers, writers and other creatives
  • BUY: Listings for indie books, products and services
  • CONNECT: A directory of featured members and how to find them on Social Media

This month there have been three blog posts on the WIW Blog about the upcoming brochure and how to get involved. This have been:

Submissions Open

This blog posts details all the content you need to submit to get featured in the brochure.

You can get featured if you are:

  • An indie author
  • Creator of indie products
  • Provider of an indie service

And you don’t need to be an indie. You can be a supporter of indies. We also feature members that are book bloggers too!

  • A book blogger or reviewer of any product or service in the brochure

New Releases

We have rebranded the brochure as an eZine. Another new feature will be to promote books coming soon.

If you are an indie author publishing in Oct, Nov, or Dec, you can get your new release featured.

All Indie Books

This is for bookstagrammers! Check out the post for full details but all you have to do is take a photo of an indie book or collection of indie books, use the hashtag #AllIndieBooks and we’ll feature our favourite with credit to your instagram account.

If the photo is of a book in the brochure we may also include you on the page it is featured.

What are you waiting for?

If you haven’t checked out WIW yet, go do it now! Check out the brochure and get involved.

The new brochure will launch at the end of September.

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Book Review: Forgotten Scars by Natalie J Reddy

I awas lucky enough to win this book. I’m so glad I did as it was a brilliant fast paced read.

Beginning

The story starts with a prologue giving an insight into the MCs background. She grew up with no idea where she came from and adopted by a loving couple (two dads). She has good memories of her adopted life but just before starting university, they died. No she is on her own.

The story starts with a seemingly ordinary day, walking onto campus to meet up with her boyfriend. But, when she arrives at the art room studio, he’s making out with his ex-girlfriend.

She runs to the library and meets her ‘library friend’. They have a heart to heart but when they separate Wren is knocked out and abducted.

Middle

When Wren comes around she is in a huge house and tries to escape. She falls down the stairs and injures her leg and is now a prisoner in one of the bedrooms.

Her abductors are not ordinary people they have powers like being able to read her thoughts. The leader of the group is Darshan. They claim they are the good guys and say her ‘library friend’ is dangerous. Wren doesn’t trust them and as soon as her legs is healed she attempts to escape again.

Once free she goes to the library to look for her friend, but she’s not there. She doesn’t feel safe and decides to go to her ex’s flat. She tells him what happened, he apologises for cheating and lets her stay. They order pizza but when he opens the door a group of attackers enter and kill him like they are vampires.

The attackers can also read her mind. They tell her that her library friend sent them to protect her from the abductors. She is to go with them. She is reluctant but goes. When she gets to their van she tries to escape. Luckily, the abductors arrive. She sees the two groups face off using their powers and is rescued. Her ribs are injured by she refuses their healing help as she doesn’t trust them.

Back at the house she was being held at, she is now curious to know more. She learns their powers could help bring down the wall in her mind and recover her lost memories. She stays because to discover who she is, is something she’s longer for.

During are stay she gets to know her captors better. She is not treated like a prisoner. On one occasion, Darshan takes her on a day out. The chemistry builds between them. He leaves her for a moment to get a drink and a psi attacks by controlling her mind and causing her to put her life in danger. Darshan saves her and they kiss.

Ending

Wes is the experienced psi trying to bring down the wall in her mind, he out ranks Darshan. She’s relaxing at the house and exhausted after one of their sessions where the wall came partially down. Now memories are returning… but, she is abducted again.

She’s taken down secret tunnels to meet with another group where all the jigsaw pieces come together.

Thoughts

This is a fast paced book and I was quickly sucked in. Wren is likeable, shes not had an easy life and is a strong character.

Natalie’s psi/vampires are unique and I wanted to know more about this underground world and how they operate. Readers discover them along with Wren, and the information is revealed in a way that feels natural.

There is a little romance and the chemistry was great but it’s not the focal point of the story. This is more of an action paced novel with a mystery to resolve.

The book has a good conclusion. It is the first in a series and I can see the scope for more stories in this world and I would want to read more.

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Book Review: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

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Reflecting on NaPoWriMo

[kofi]

Behind the Book: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

What inspired you to write Sorceress of Truth?

From being around 12 years old I’ve had a love for books, which evolved to fantasy. From as far as I can remember, my dream has been to see my very own book on the shelves of Waterstones and WHSmiths, etc.

Way back in 2006/7 my now husband and I went to visit Cheddar Gorge in Somerset. The huge cliff faces of the gorge cutting through the earth and the story of the Wookey Hole Witch are what sparked the beginnings of Sorceress of Truth.

How long did it take to write and publish from the first idea?

From my initial idea, I spent a year or so on a fact finding mission. I really wanted to lay down the foundations of my characters back stories and origins of the races, though there have still been a number of surprises along the way.

Up until November 2015 I’d written no more than 20,000 words. I had a lot of other things happening in my life, so writing became something that I picked up every now and again. That is until I discovered NaNoWriMo.

It gave me the boost I needed to write ‘The End’ and I finally published in November 2019.

What genre is Sorceress of Truth and can you name any similar books?

I class Sorceress of Truth as a YA urban fantasy with a hint of paranormal romance.

I’m massively inspired by Richelle Mead, Cassandra Clare, and P.C. and Kristin Cast. Collectively their works fill the majority of my bookshelves. I guess you could say that Sorceress of Truth deals with a similar discovery journey as the House of Night series. At the same time, the different races are a lot more integrated into normal society, like the Vampire Academy books.

Where is the novel set and do you have a personal connection to the location?

The novel is set in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and the surrounding area. The small town of Springs is loosely based around somewhere I lived whilst completing my own Alevel’s, with a few artistic differences.

Why did you choose to self publish?

I would say self publishing chose me!

Initially I wanted to go with traditional publishing, although I wasn’t keen of having an agent. That massively reduced the already short list of publishing houses who would accept my submission.

I did everything right. I read the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, wrote a synopsis and short bio, batched everything up as per the publishers requirements, hit send, and waited. And waited.

Eventually I had a few replies, ‘Thank you, but no thank you.’, and I found myself at a crossroads.Should I continue pursuing the golden ticket, or should I re-evaluate what I wanted out of my writing?

There were many factors when it came to my decision, one of those being reaching the top 250 out of 3112 entries in the UK Novel Writing Competition with an early, poorly edited, version.

Self publishing won.

That’s not to say it’s been the easier option. From my experience, and from stories I’ve heard, self publishing can often be a much harder and braver option. Though, in some ways, the rewards are so much sweeter.

Please share a snippet or teaser from the book?

“So, I’m going to wake up in two months time and be able to shoot bolts of lightning from my fingers? Or, is this your way of telling me I’m being shipped off to some school for magic?” I glared at Ky with my fists by my side, the nails digging into my fleshy palms. It was the only way I could think of to make me feel something, to make sure this wasn’t all some twisted dream.

“Your family seems to have eluded The Guard for many years.”

“The Guard?” That piqued my interest, and not in a good way. I still didn’t know much about them, and an uneasy feeling churned within my stomach.

“The Guard was formed hundreds of years ago. There’s a prophecy that, one day, a powerful sorceress will cast a demon, Belial, into the mouth of hell.”

Belial? Hell? Was everyone here crazy?

I pushed myself from the tree and began striding back towards the house. There was no way I was going to get caught up in all of this. Next, they’re going to tell me that there are unicorns roaming the woods and mermaids living in the lake.

There are two love interests in your novel, which is most like your man?

This is really hard because all of my characters are an amalgamation of friends, family, acquaintances, even characters from books I’ve read and films I’ve seen.
My husband is a great dad, and very supportive of me and my many crazy ideas, so he definitely has a lot of Kylan in him. On the other hand, as a gamer and anime watcher, he does tend to have a soft spot for the darker and more troubled characters.

Tell me about a typical day in the life of author Jodie Groom.

To be honest, in my eyes, my day is pretty boring to anybody looking in.

I start my day with my phone alarm going off several times before I eventually crawl out of bed and wake my daughter for school. Once the school run is out the way I try and do half an hour or so of exercise in the living room followed by breakfast and coffee.

Begrudgingly I try to fit in an hour or two of housework, or related tasks, then turn to the computer to deal with email and social media posts. If I’m feeling creative I will try to write, but it’s rare.

After lunch, I’ll do more housework and jobs that have built up, before picking my daughter up from school again. Sometimes she has clubs etc so I act as taxi, and once home, we cook and eat dinner.

This normally brings me to about 7pm when my husband takes over and does the whole bedtime routine, allowing me to get on with whatever I need to be doing on the computer. Sometimes that’s writing, sometimes it’s creating video’s and trailers, and sometimes it’s updating my website.

Time seems to fly pretty quickly then. I’m at my most creative at night and, if I’m having a really good writing session, I have been known to stay up past 3am. Which is another reason why I loathe my alarm clock and the morning school run.

Some day’s I spend a lot of time up at school helping with the PTA activities, and other day’s I can be quite involved with tasks for World Indie Warriors. Every day is different and comes with its own challenges. For now, I may be a stay at home mom, but I definitely don’t see myself fitting into any of the regular stereotypes.

What project are you currently working on?

I always have many pies on the go, I can’t help it. I learned very early on that I get fed up easily so have to be able to switch to something else. It’s not just in my writing, it seems to be in most things.

I’ve recently turned my focus back to Sorceress of Flame, the second instalment of the Divine Prophecy Series. We continue Tory’s journey but this time it will be NA rather than YA. It wasn’t intentional but Tory is growing up, maturing, and so it felt fitting that he story followed the same path.

In the background I’m also writing a 3 book series, whose working title is The Don of Avery, which I can’t wait to unleash. It’s a dark mafia romance set in Leeds that definitely isn’t YA.

Where can we find out more and buy Sorceress of Truth?

Sorceress of Truth is available in print and ebook from all good book shops, such as Warterstones, Barnes & Nobel, Apple etc. Or you can purchase direct from Amazon.

I try to post regularly on my website, www.jdgroom.com , where there is information about upcoming events that I’m attending. Alternatively, Instagram is where I mostly hang out.


If you enjoy this, you should check out: 

Behind the Book: Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S Weaver

Behind the Book: Gem of Meruna by Elexis Bell

Behind the Book: Number Eight Crispy Chicken by Sarah Neofield

World Indie Warriors Brochure (1st edition)

To discover more ways to connect, click my link tree.

 

Creating a Catchy Novel Title

Recently, on Instagram we have been discussion how to create a catchy novel title.  It appears to be a very personal decision.  Some people can’t name their novel until they have finished whereas I can’t start my novel until I have a name for it.  Although, as you will see,my ‘working’ titles are not set in stone. 

Catchy Novel Title Infographic

 

Here is a collection of some of the covers I have created for my debut novel over the years (there are more).  I am now going with Ocean Heart.  

Originally my book was called Drift.  You will also notice one called Wipeout.  At one point my novel was two books but during a brutal edit, I cut loads and they became one.  

In 2019, I tore my novel apart (again), deleted loads and added new content.  It changed so much since the first draft, I renamed it Jewel of the sea.  

jewel of the sea cover 2019

My novel is now set for a new venture as I enter the world of Self Publishing.  Now, I am paying for editors and working with other professionals to take my novel to print.  As a result I have renamed my novel again.  The new title is Ocean Heart.  

I have no idea what the new cover will look like.  Once I finish my current edit and know the final word count, I will instruct a professional cover designer.  But for now… edits. 

If you enjoyed this you may like:

Alwyn Hamilton at Felixstowe Book Festival (shares how her publishers named her novel) 

My Plans for 2020

A decade of writing

Why I have chosen to self publish


Click my link tree to discover more ways to connect.

@Redfae

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Ally plus text

A decade of writing

I can’t believe it has been 10 years since I first wrote my novel. I’ve written countless other novels but this one I felt had potential. This one, I decided to take seriously.

2009 and 2010

It was Christmas 2009 and I was off work for the holidays when the idea for a novel, about a redhead teen with no idea she is a mermaid discovers she has powers, hit me. I wanted it to be like a modern Little Mermaid.

Once I sat at my PC and started to write I was unable to stop. Without an outline, it was like I was possessed, I struggled to sleep, to eat… I felt anxious if I wasn’t writing Drift. 

My fiancé got worried. He saw the sudden change in me and urged me to take a break, to visit family.

But, I couldn’t not write. So I lied to appease him. Pretended to go out, then sneaked back once he had gone to see his own family. It was like having a secret wiring affair. But after an intense week, the first 60k words were written.

I share my novel with anyone willing to read it.  My novel was on WeBook where I developed a supportive group of fans.  They were a huge confidence boost and we had our own little group to chat about my stories!  

It is laughable now but I edited my novel in 2010 and started querying. Surprisingly, I did get some requests.  It is surprisingly because now I look back at that early version and see how it wasn’t finished.  At the time, I thought it was ready.  

My fan had some valuable feedback for me, “You can’t end the story like that!”  At first, I saw that as excitement for the next book in the series and began writing Wipeout, but slowly it dawned on me that they were right. 

Promise and Deliver

I learnt an important lesson. Readers will develop certain expectations of your story and you must deliver on those.

Version 1 ended with Jace winking at Fern and there being the ‘suggestion’ they were about to get together. But, fans had read for 60k words. They wanted to see Fern achieve her happily ever after and a ‘wink’ was not the grande finale they had invested their time for.

2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Early 2011, I was distracted by wedding preparations as my June wedding date got nearer. Then, I desperately wanted a baby. We were also trying to move house and the recession meant the value of my home was dropping every month, loosing the equity needed to move.

But 2013, we sold our house, bought a lovely family home and I had my son. With everything falling into place I would like to say I returned to my novel… but my baby boy was the biggest distraction of all.

Stupidly I thought being off work with a baby would free me up to write more but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Noah was not a chilled out baby. I spent his first year keeping up with his hunger, entertaining him and sleeping whenever I could.

Have realistic expectations

Sadly WeBook was no longer the thriving community it once was.  All my fans had moved on, possibly grown up, and I had lost them through inactivity.  I had to find a new source of feedback. I joined Movella, Figment and Wattpad.

Wattpad became my new favourite.  I began editing Drift and Wipeout and shared other novels and created some poetry collections.  

For Drift, I changed the ending so Lily (formerly Fern) is asked out by Jace (formerly Sam).  I removed the parts by Denny (Jace’s mum) – she gave an outsider perspective of Lily’s unusual upbringing.  

Th sequel Wipeout was also told from Lily’s viewpoint and had a few part’s told by Kiara – she was able to show what was going on with Murray.  The sequel wasn’t coming to me as easy as Drift had and I was falling in love with Kiara… 

2017 and 2018

2017 started with my employer going into administration. I had worked for the company for over 10 years. It scared me, not knowing where my next pay cheque would come from. With bills to pay, I had to find work fast and job hunting became my new priority. 

Once I found a job, I felt a little disappointed in myself.  I felt I had wasted an opportunity to spend time with my son as I now worked more hours. I realised how I wasn’t prioritising my dream.  My profession is a job, not my passion.  

Make it a priority

Whilst job hunting, I thought HR and PR work looked appealing but didn’t have the knowledge employers wanted. So in September 2017, I told my employer I was interested in doing the CIPD HR qualification and to my surprise they were willing to support me. I learnt, if you don’t ask the answer will never be yes.  

In November 2017, I found out I was pregnant. I was over the moon and in a much better place.

Passing my course, doing well in my job and having a baby were all super important. But, I no longer wanted to treat writing as a hobby. I knew how busy my life would be once Aria was here so I became determined to edit and query before her arrival.  My goal was to be signed by an agent by August 2018 (Aria’s due date).  

I learnt knew ways to query. I developed my pitch and took part in Twitter events, I found out about Agent 1-2-1s and worked on improving my synopsis.  Despite getting requests, I never got offered representation.

In 2018, I edited Drift by removing the parts told by Gwyn (Lily’s mum) – she did some foretelling using her crystal ball. I also decided to scrap Wipeout.  I took parts from the sequel and put it into Drift, Glide or cut it out completely.  

2019

My goal was to finish editing Drift and Glide. I began by restructure my novel using Save The Cat Writes a Novel. It started off a a way to check my plot and pacing but it soon became apparent that I needed to pull the whole novel a part. It was very intimidating but by the end I had a better novel and a brand new ending.  Now there was the highs and lows, romance and I had delivered on the promise of an epic battle.  This novel was so different from my original idea of a modern Little Mermaid and I needed a new title, Jewel of the Sea.  I also renamed Glide as Diamond in the Sky.

I tried new ways of querying my novel.  I pitched on Twitter and in person and got requests but sadly never heard more. Although, I still love the idea of traditional publishing, I have spent the year learning about indie publishing.

I discovered the writing community on Instagram and joined groups like Hustling Writers, Fellow Creative Minds and World Indie Warriors. I also connected with talented authors like Pagan Malcolm and Bethany Atazadeh who share their journey and advice.

Connecting with indie authors gave me insight into their world and processes. No longer did their world scare me, but intrigued me.  With their support and encouragement I decided not to spend another decade waiting for someone else to give me permission to publish.  

Say yes to yourself!

The problem with querying is you are waiting for someone else to say you can publish. They can say no for countless reasons and rarely have time to explain why. The truth is you don’t need their validation because you can give it to yourself.

You no longer have to traditionally publish. If you are willing to work hard, you can choose your own team and publish yourself.  With so many crooks masquerading in the traditional publishing world, it is a mine field to navigate now (I’m sure I had requests from at least three dodgy publishers, I didn’t submit to in 2019 alone).  

After ten years writing and querying Jewel of the Sea (formerly Drift), I have decided to Self Publish.

2020

This year is the start of a new era. This year, I am going to publish. It won’t be easy and I have lots still to learn but I’m ready.

Jewel of the Sea is due back this month from a developmental editor. This is my the first step in my big publishing plan.

Celebrate your milestones

To celebrate this new venture, I feel Jewel of the Sea, aka Drift, needs a new name.

I have set myself some strict deadline to keep myself on track but I I won’t rush to publish.  I have waited so long for this, I want to be certain my novel is a quality product when I put it out there.  I want my readers to love it.

I will blog about my publishing journey, so if you are interested in the process, stay tuned. I would love to hear your thoughts on the new title Ocean Heart.

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

My Books

Same dream, six years on…

Writers beware! Know who you are querying.

Creating a Catchy Novel Title


Click my link tree to discover more ways to connect:

@Redfae