Behind the Book: 2020 Collection

Thank you so much to all the authors that took the time to answer questions on making of their books. I learnt so much through your different journeys, the struggles you overcame, your best tips, and discovering more about you and your book.

The book that started this all off was Number Eight Crispy Chicken by Sarah Neofield. I was part of her Street Team for the books launch and interviewed her as my stop on the book’s blog tour.

I learnt so much from Sarah Neofield and it helped me in my decision to self publishing. The “Behind the Book” blog post turned into a series.

By the end of 2020, I had conducted a total of 18 interviews! I have put them all here in this post for your enjoyment. So, make yourself comfortable and get reading!

Sarah Neofield – Number Eight Crispy Chicken

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 Elexis Bell – Gem of Meruna

NB: This title now has a new cover

btb the gem of meruna

Kara S. Weaver – Crown of Conspiracy

copy of btb the gem of meruna

 J.D. Groom – Sorceress of Truth

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Annabelle by Elexis Bell

NB: This title now has a new cover

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Soul Bearer by Elexis Bell

NB: This title now has a new cover

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Stuck on Vacation with Ryan Rupert by P S Malcolm

World for the Broken by Elexis Bell

Lanterns in the Sky by P S Malcolm

Mystical Greenwood by Andrew McDowell

Wiccan Romances: Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

What are friends for? By Sarah Sutton

Wiccan Romances Sam’s Story by Nicola Hebron

Out of my league by Sarah Sutton

Petrified by Ben Meeks

Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

A heart of salt & silver by Elexis Bell

Out Foxed by RJ Blaine

The last Behind the Book interview for 2020 was part of R. J. Blaine’s Blog Tour for her book’s release. It was organised by Xpresso Tours and they created the blog banner.

If you enjoyed this, look out for more Behind the Book interviews in 2021, and my review for some of these books.

Book Review: Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

Book Review: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

Book Review: Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S Weaver

2020 Book Reviews

Behind the Book: Swimming Sideways by C. L. Waters

Your book has been on my radar for a while but it wasn’t until recently that I realised what a journey you have been on and how similar our journeys are to each other.

What can readers look forward to in the series?

Swimming Sideways, the first book in The Cantos Chronicles, is the catalyst for the other two books, The Ugly Truth and The Bones of Who We Are. A YA Contemporary, it follows Abby Kaiāulu as she begins at a new school where she gets caught unwittingly between two young men—former best friends Seth and Gabe—who need to face their own struggles to find healing. Abby’s story is about her personal journey to understand herself as a young Hawaiian woman, but it also  inspires change for all of the characters. While each story is in and of itself its own narrative around  each of the characters, the series explores the series of events through their different perspectives. It’s a love triangle in some ways, but the love triangle isn’t the focus.

Are there similar series to yours?

Swimming Sideways has a Hawaiian cultural element that is very unique which I’m not sure comps very well, but I think Randy Ribay’s Patron Saints of Nothing has a gorgeous cultural element and Call it What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer is a lovely title that looks at how love can inspire individual growth. I had a reviewer compare my writing style to John Green and Brigid Kemmerer, so that’s awesome.

Tell me about the main character Abby?

Abby has moved with her family from Hawaii to Oregon; it’s a last ditch effort to save the family from what looks to be a divorce. Abby, though, is leaving behind a secret in Hawaii and is glad to be starting over and leaving that part of her life behind her. Oregon provides an awesome opportunity. She’s trying hard to redefine herself in this new place trying to be a good big sister to her twin brothers and a good daughter to her parents. She thinks that if she can just do things “right” then she will be able to control the outcome of this move. But secrets never stay hidden and Abby is going to choose whether the mistake controls her or if she’s ready to forgive herself?

The books in the Cantos Chronicles came to you out of order and you published book 2, The Ugly Truth, first. What was it like when you realised your first book in the series wasn’t book 1?

So frustrating and one of those forehead slap moments. But I also think that had I not written Seth’s story, The Ugly Truth, first, I wouldn’t have come to understand the other two stories. So while I made the rookie mistake, that mistake brought understanding and growth and helped me eventually finish the series.

Originally you published exclusively to Amazon but then moved to publish wide with Ingram Sparks. What motivated this change of direction?

After I finished The Bones of Who We Are (the third book in The Cantos Chronicles), I wanted to get them into local bookstores. After lots of phone tag, I finally got to talk to someone who in a very direct (but helpful) way said, “Why do we want to carry our competition?” (meaning Amazon). The question was eye-opening for me and made me reexamine my goals as a writer. What did I want? What was important to me and my author journey? Who did I want to be as a creative for the long haul? The answers to those questions helped me refine my ideas about my career as a writer and “authorpreneur.” That was the impetus behind the shift.

Tell me about a typical day in the life of author Cami (C. L. Waters)?

Up early (usually around 5am give or take thirty minutes in either direction). I spend time journalling and reflecting on my faith walk. Then it’s getting the family moving for the day. When they are gone, I’m working on the business side of writing: blogs, newsletter, beta-reads, editing, catching up on email, planning and implementing marketing strategies, whatever needs attention. In the afternoon I’m working on creative writing and wherever I am in my process. Currently, I’m rewriting my 6th novel. I wrote a blog describing this. Here’s a link: https://www.clwalters.net/blog/2020/11/4/indie-author-life-a-day-in-the-life-of-

Can you share a snippet of the book?

Sure! How much do you want?

Here’s a moment when Abby “meets” Gabe for the first time:

I slink out of the room, head down, and run right into somebody walking through the hallway. Ass on the floor and Good Abby can’t contain the bad one any longer: “What the hell!” I snap. “Watch where you’re going!” I look up at the culprit. The anger catches in my throat. I’ve bumped into a boy the size of a wall.

“I could say the same thing about you,” he replies. His voice has the lure of the ocean surf in the distance, a gentle and relaxing rumble. His bright blue eyes are the Hawaiʻi Pacific Ocean, intensely bright set in the golden glow of his bronze skin. His black hair is longish, curly, hanging over his sharp features though his lips are soft and full. He holds out a hand, the sinew of his muscles hinted in the exposure of the brown skin at his wrist.

He helps me up.

Someone in the hall passes and jostles him with a shoulder. The Wall loses his balance and knocks against me as I stand, but I don’t fall a second time. His arm wraps around me and keeps me from falling to the floor again. We’re so close that I smell the clean scent of him like soap and a hint of something spicy. My hand still in his, an arm around his solid and unforgiving shoulders, electricity winds up my arm straight to my heart and flutters with the current.

“Freak,” a passing voice in the hallway says.

I pull away regretting the loss of the connection but unwilling to go back to the social dump. Been there. Done that. This is me starting over.

Good Abby rule: Selectively choose your friends.

The Wall looks at me. His eyes have narrowed, the color now flinty, and the energy I thought I felt retreats somewhere safe. I notice the knowing look on his face, and it’s a knife in my gut. His jaw tightens. He recognizes this current version of me all too well. I identify his awareness because I was him, after all, the one they called names. It may have not been freak, but slut or whore did the same kind of damage. I knew a version of this new me too, and it makes me feel ashamed.

“Sorry,” he mutters and pulls his black hood over his head as he walks away.

Good Abby coaxes the bad one not to look back, not to watch him walk away. Bad Abby wants more than anything to turn around, say she’s sorry and let him know she’s been there. But she listens to Good Abby and goes to her next class. I walk away wondering which one is good Abby and which one is bad?

Excerpt from Swimming Sideways (2020) by CL Walters

Where can we go to discover more about you and your books?

My website is probably the best place to find out everything you need to know. www.clwalters.net

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this post, you will enjoy other behind the book posts. Check out:

Behind the Book: 2020 Collection

Behind the Book: Agent: Undone by Cassidy Reyne

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

Book Review: And the Stars Were Burning Brightly

2021 Goals!

This year, I’ve really struggled with creating my goals. The problem is there’s so much I want to do but where to start?

I know if I have too many plates spinning, they’ll all crash. As I’m writing this it’s January 1st and I’m finally choosing my goals after agonizing over them for two weeks. And… I may still tweak them before this post goes live.

Personal

Skincare routine: Over the years, I’ve tried loads countless products and I’m constantly changing my routine. During 2021, I plan to finalise my skincare products which I think will benefit my skin.

I hate waste so I need to use up products I already have, and it also depends on money too. I’ve already decided on the products and look forward to sharing these with you as I buy them.

Visit Hollowtree Farm: Fear of the virus and lockdowns reduced the number of places we visited. We even had a gift voucher for a fun day at the farm and never got to go. They’ve said it doesn’t expire so this is a priority for 2021!

Self care: I never have time to indulge in things like doing my nails or a face mask. So, I’m planning to reward myself with products to support this when I hit my other goals.

Writing

Sky Heart: This is the BIG one. I want to finish book 2 in the Soul Heart series. But… there are many steps to a published book so this will likely take me all year.

Publishing a Novel To Do List

For accountability, I’m going to tweet my progress every Sunday.

Novella 1: I’m working on two novella’s but I want to finish “Denny’s story” first. I’m thinking of using it as a readers magnet.

Novella 2: This project will be on standby and only worked on if I’m waiting on stuff for the other writing projects. This is ”Luna’s story”. I’m still working on the titles of my novellas.

Ocean Heart: I have ideas to do something special in Mer-May. But, I can’t say more until I’ve figured out the details.

Reading

10 Books: Yes, it sounds low but when I’m busy on a writing project I only read a chapter or two a night making my progress very slow. 2020 I only just hit my goal of 12 books. 😂

I do only record fiction books but I also read a few non-fiction books on writing. I’m hoping to review these on my YouTube channel this year, as well as other bookish content.

I will keep posting my reviews to my blog, Goodreads, Amazon, Book Bub, Litsy, if able to. I will track my reading goal on Goodreads.

Goodreads/Litsy/Book Bub/Book Sniffer: I’ve used Goodreads for a few years but never been very active. I hope to improve that and get better at using the other reading social apps. Which brings me on nicely to my next goal…

Social Media

Website update: I’m going to quarterly review my website content to check it is up to date. And, update during that month.

Shop: Okay, it’s not social media but it is connected to my website. I’m trying to create a shop on my website but struggling. I will master it! I mastered moving my website during my book launch.

Trial Canva Pro: I love Canva and been tempted to pay for the pro version. But now there’s a scheduled too. It would be incredible to have everything in one place.

I bought Planoly during my book launch so I could schedule videos and carousels on IG. There’s been a few occasions it hasn’t posted, so I’m tempted to try other schedulers.

Consistently Post: This went really well this year for my blog and Instagram. I want to continue it and add YouTube and Twitter to my goals.

  • Blog: Mon, & Thurs
  • IG: Mon, Weds, & Fri
  • YT: Tue (fortnightly)
  • Twitter: Sun
  • Newsletter: end of month (was every other month)

Followers/Reviews: I’ve seen people track their followers growth. I’ve never done this but it’s a good idea. I will aim for a 20% increase over all platforms.

2021 Followers Count

I’d love to reach 10k on Instagram as it opens up certain features but it feels still too far out of reach. Until I worked out what 20% was, I was thinking of aiming for 5k by June. I think 4687 is more realistic and although social media helps with marketing my passion is writing.

My Facebook page has been around longer than my group. The Soul Heart Readers group was created in October to help with Ocean Heart’s release. I’m hoping members will stick around for Sky Heart – I’ll need BETA and ARC readers later this year.

I use Parler the same way I use Twitter, and really like the platform. My numbers grew fast when I first joined but has now slowed down. It’ll be interesting to see which of the two platforms has more growth in 2021.

My YouTube channel is very new, I’m not sure how fast it will grow. I’ll also be posting to Odysee to try out the new platform – I’ve not used it yet. Over the Christmas break, I created a new Intro & Outro which I’m looking forward to using.

Reviews: I have a page on my website where I’ve collected my favourite reviews of Ocean Heart, and directed readers to where the original can be found.

Reviews are really important for a books visibility, so I will be tracking how many I have and – eek – remind my readers to leave reviews.

January Goals

Listing my goals for only this month looks like a lot. Eek 😬

Personal

  • Record unboxing of Naturismo box (then start using products)

Writing

  • Sky Heart: Write 5k per week – track progress on Google sheet. Share progress on Twitter/Parler for accountability

Reading

  • Set annual reading goal on Goodreads
  • Finish reading Cinderella is Dead (paperback) – track progress on Goodreads
  • Finish reading Winter Trials (eBook) – track progress on Goodreads

Social Media

  • Update website content
  • Add shop to website
  • Blog & IG: Create January content & make a start on February content (aim to always be two weeks ahead)
  • Record, edit, schedule two YouTube/Odysee videos
  • Try out Canva pro – if scheduler is good, cancel Planoly
  • Weekly Twitter/Parler accountability post

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this you will like:

About Ocean Heart

My 2020 Book Reviews

Looking back at 2020

My Links Page

It’s another IG LIVE!

I had the most fabulous live chat with author Lyndell Williams (on Instagram as @laylawriteslove).

Meeting Author Lyndell Williams

She recently had some mobile woes and took the plunge to get a new phone. It wasn’t as straight forward as just popping to the shops to get it and she had to wait F O R E V E R for her new handset to come in. She this on Instagram and I offered a few words of support. We got messaging and she asked if I’d help her test out her new mobile with an IG live.

As you know, I am trying to get braver in front of the camera My inner introvert was screaming “Say no!” but to get more experience on camera, I said Yes. And, I am so glad I did. Layla was so lovely to speak to.

Going Live on Instagram with @laylawriteslove

We agreed a date & time for the Instagram Live, and both connected without any issues. Yay!

We mostly discussed writing and reading romance. I discovered her novels are steamy, and her series features around diverse characters. Her readers demanded more stories about her side characters, so she wrote some novellas. You can discover more about her book here.

She also shared tips with me on plotting. And, we covered writing in different point of views and making believable characters. She is a developmental editor and we both discussed how valuable they are. She has five novels and uses a developmental editor too. You can find out more about her services here.

Check Out Our Live

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Author & Me Show

Check out my Live Stream Team

Technical Difficulties

Book Review: Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

Check out my Live Stream Team

I hope you were able to watch my recent series of Live Streams. The last one was earlier this week for my Ocean Heart launch party.

My Stream Team have been amazing, and we’ve had lots of fun learning Stream Yard together and getting to know each other better. But, I want to give you a chance to discover more about them too.

Stream Team

J D Groom

Jodie is an author with two series out and working on another. She has done Behind the Book interviews for Envy and Sorceress of Truth.

https://youtu.be/4kPjHHYy42g

Elexis Bell

Elexis has written a number of dark fantasy stand alones. Elexis has done Behind the Book interviews about Annabelle, Soul Bearer, Gem of Meruna, A World For The Broken, and A Heart of Salt & Silver. She enjoys digital design and creating her own character art.

https://youtu.be/AcZnNVtyWiY

H.B. Lyne

Holly is the Urban Fantasy author of the Shifters of Caerton series. You can buy the full set or individually. She’s also author of the Goal Setting For Writers book, runs a popular podcast called Unstoppable authors, and was behind Indie Fire.

https://youtu.be/SezLe9VSvrY

Nicola Hebron

Nicola Hebron is author of the YA Fantasy Romance series the Wiccan Romances. The first two books (Amelia’s Story and Sam’s Story) are already out, and the other two can be expected in 2021.

https://youtu.be/vpQ4SH8MgvU

Launch Party

I was so happy to share my launch party with these fabulous authors, that are part of the incredible supportive indie community.

https://youtu.be/Ho6J-PQTvvI

Congratulations to Aimee (UK) and Nora (International) for winning the Giveaway. Both have been notified and I am looking forward to dispatching their prizes this weekend.

Discover more about my fabulous team by visiting their websites.

For J D Groom visit: https://jdgroom.com/

For Elexis Bell visit: http://www.elexisbell.com/

For H.B. Lyne visit: https://hblyne.com/

For Nicola Hebron visit: https://nicolahebronauthor.com/

Ocean Heart is currently entered in the All Author December 2020 Cover Contest. If you like the Cover of Ocean Heart please vote for it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho6J-PQTvvI&feature=youtu.be
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho6J-PQTvvI&feature=youtu.be

[kofi]

Coming Soon: Ocean Heart Launch Party!

Live Author Chat!

During October & November, I have been doing fortnightly Live author chats with my launch party team, on writing and books. It’s been a lot of fun and is leading up to the big event -My Launch Party!

To make sure you don’t miss the lives, be sure to follow me on YouTube and hit the notification bell.

Catch up / Replay

Don‘t worry if you missed the lives, you can watch the replays on my channel.


TUE 20 OCT @ 8PM ( London)

Catch the replay here.

TUE 3 NOV @ 8PM ( London)

Catch the replay here.

TUE 17 NOV @ 8PM (London)

Catch the replay here.

Launch Party

TUE 1 DEC @ 8PM (London)

This is my awesome launch party to celebrate the official release of Ocean Heart. Celebrate live with us here.

We will be talking all things Ocean Heart but I’ll be careful not to spill any spoilers. Come along and ask questions. I’ll also be announcing the Preorder Giveaway winner.

If you enjoyed this, you will love:

YouTube: A Bookish Surprise

YouTube: I’m Her Biggest Fan

Ocean Heart

The Making Of The Blurb for Ocean Heart

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]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Art Breeder for Character Development

Behind the Book: World for the Broken by Elexis Bell

Behind the Book: Petrified by Ben Meeks

Book Review: Blind Tiger by Rachel Vincent

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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The Author & Me Show

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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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Behind the Book: Agent: Undone by Cassidy Reyne

What genre is Agent Undone and can you name any similar books?

Agent: Undone is a dark romance/romantic suspense novel with very adult themes. Books similar to this one would be the McIntyre Security Bodyguard Series by April Wilson, The Salvation Series by Corinne Michaels and The Broken Trilogy by J. L. Drake. They all have protective, slightly growly men and strong, independent women as their main characters.

The novel has two main characters, Carter & Maddison. Can you briefly introduce them?

Carter Hollis is a DEA Agent who has been forced to take medical leave after being shot in the leg during a mission. After his girlfriend and colleague died in his arms during an op, he couldn’t face being in a relationship again, so he became a ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ kind of guy. He’s always upfront about his intentions with every woman he meets and tries to not leave a string of broken hearts in his wake. He needs to focus on his work and doesn’t need a woman in his life for anything more than a bit of fun between the sheets whenever he’s off duty.


Madison Wells is living a quiet life in Florida, working from her little rented beach cottage and not allowing anyone close enough to see the deep cracks in her soul. She carries her secrets underneath a new identity and hides her fears of her past catching up with her behind an enigmatic smile and a well constructed armour. She doesn’t have friends, only people she says hello to in the tiny village nearby. Her days are spent on early morning runs on the beach, working on her writing and jumping at shadows.

Maddison has an ex from hell that she’s lucky to be free from. Not many people talk about trafficking and domestic abuse. Was it challenging writing about a such a difficult topic?

Trafficking and abuse are some of the worst crimes in our society, and they need to be brought out and examined in the cold light of day. In so many abusive situations, the victim is made to feel they are to blame for what is happening to them. They are stripped of their confidence, isolated from any outside support and made to depend on their abuser for everything. It’s incredibly hard for them to break free and escape their situation, and once they do the support available is often short term and run on shoestring budgets. I did a lot of research into domestic abuse and I was horrified when reading the women’s (and a couple of men) stories as they described their journey from being outgoing, confident, and in love, to an unrecognisable shell of their former selves. It’s a long, slow transformation that happens so gradually they don’t realise it before it’s too late. As much as I wanted to bring the subject into the book, I was also very wary of either trivialising or sensationalising it as it would be insulting to anyone who has ever suffered from abuse. The sex trafficking part was also emotionally hard to research and very complex, which is why I didn’t go into too many details and kept it to a more general description. We all know it happens and we all want it to stop, but as long as there are people who think others are there to be used as a commodity, and people who want to buy that commodity, it will always be an incredibly difficult trade to put a stop to. My heart breaks for anyone who has been put through it and for the families who lose a loved one in such a way. Many victims are never found which leaves parents, siblings and friends without closure and always wondering if they are still out there somewhere.

Carter has lost Mira and now uses women for a good time rather than to develop a meaningful connection. How did you rap into those complex emotions when developing his character?

Carter was both fun and interesting to create. I tried to visualise how a person would react if they didn’t deal with their grief properly after losing someone the way Carter lost Mira, and instead protected themselves from the risk of having to go through it again by pretending they didn’t want or need a deeper connection with a partner. I think we would all want to shield ourselves from heartache if the one we loved passed away. Some of us would go through all the classical stages of grief and eventually come out the other side, battered and bruised, but still open to finding someone new if the opportunity arose. Others would finish the grieving process but not feel the need for that kind of relationship again, and some would yearn for the love but be too afraid to have their heart broken again. The process of grief and loss is very individual and everyone tries to cope the best way they know how. Carter wants to fall in love and have that special someone in his life, but has convinced himself he’s not capable of it and only needs sexual gratification whenever his body demands it. I wanted him to come across as the stereotypical male who only wants one thing from women, while at the same time give glimpses into the fear and longing inside his heart. I promise, he’s not as bad as you might think when you first meet him.

You seem to have a style of writing novels with a dual perspective, one male, one female? Can we look forward to more of this?

I like writing from a dual perspective as I feel the reader gets a more three-dimensional insight into the characters. It allows me to develop the story from different levels and emotional angles, and the reader gets to know things about the characters they don’t know yet themselves. It lets the reader in on the secrets and builds a connection between them and the characters. It’s something I personally enjoy in the books I read and it’s a little like getting two stories woven into one whole.

The setting sounds beautiful. Have you been there or did you do a lot of research?

The story is set in the Florida panhandle and in Seattle, but I haven’t been to either of them so a lot of research was necessary. I’m on very friendly terms with Google Earth, Maps and Streetview. They are an absolute godsend for seeing how places look from lots of different angles. It’s also great fun to find new and interesting places to learn about and try to visualise as if you’ve actually been there. Quite often, I draw from memories of my own travels to try to create a picture of the sights, sounds and smells of the place I want to describe. After all, a sunny beach in Australia or Mexico is not going to be too different from one in Florida. Seattle was slightly more difficult, but as I didn’t need the characters to move around much, it wasn’t too hard to just get a feel for the city using the internet. The weather is also not too dissimilar to that here in the UK or even in Sweden where I grew up, so adding a lot of rain and grey skies was easy.

Please share a short snippet or teaser from Agent Undone?

“Before I forget, I might not make it for our run tomorrow morning.” Carter said with an embarrassed wince.
“Oh?” The tiny sound popped free from her mouth. “Are you going somewhere?”
“No, I’m not. My friend, Nathan, the guy who owns the beach house, is coming down today, and we’re going for a couple of drinks tonight at the bar.”
“And you might be too hungover tomorrow to go running? I get it. I suppose there might be a girl or two involved in that scenario as well?” Madison teased him, but he noticed a strained undertone in her words. It warmed his belly and made his chest feel light.
“Nope, no girls. Not for me, anyway. As soon as my leg has healed up, I’ll be on my way back to Virginia and my job. I don’t want to get tangled up with a woman that I must extricate myself from. Too many complications.” Damn, he was so lying to her — and himself. He just didn’t want her to think he was hooking up with other women while he was seeing her. Wait. Hold up. He was not seeing Madison. They were running buddies. Friends. Acquaintances. That’s all.
Carter tried to silence the annoying little voice in his head that was whispering the word liar very loudly.
“Well, if you need a hangover cure in the morning, give me a call and I’ll whip one up for you. I’ll even make one for your friend.” She snickered.
“If you have a hangover cure that actually works, Nate will worship you forever. He will also badger you for the recipe until you relent and give him what he wants. He’ll probably offer marriage and babies in return. You’ve been warned.” A deep laugh rumbled in Carter’s chest.
“No way, I’m not giving anyone that recipe, and for your information it does work. Or, at least it did on—“ Madison stopped abruptly and her lips pressed into a thin line. Carter knew that look.

Where can we find out more and buy your books?

There’s more information on Agent: Undone, including a video trailer made by the amazing J. D. Groom, and my other two books, on my website: cassidyreyne.comYou can purchase the books from Amazon and they are also available in Kindle Unlimited.

[kofi]

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