My Birthday Book Haul

My birthday was back in November and my online writer friends clubbed together and got me an Amazon voucher. I didn’t spend it right away. I wasn’t sure if I might get books for Christmas. Plus my book Wishlist is insane so I took my time narrowing down my choices.

This post includes affiliate links. Check out my Affiliate Disclosure page for more info.

Here’s what I got:

Fiction

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

The Weavers by Ania Whiteley

World for the Broken by Elexis Bell

And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando

PREORDER: When Our Worlds Collided by Danielle Jawando

Non-Fiction

Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes

The Rural Setting Theasarus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

The Urban Setting Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

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[kofi]

Catch up with a cuppa Ko-Fi (Jan 2022)

As I post more on Ko-Fi, I don’t want you to miss out so here’s a brief summary of what I posted over on Ko-Fi in January.

My 2021 Reads

https://ko-fi.com/post/My-2021-Reads-M4M77UIM1

This post had a link to my YouTube video that show cased the books I read last year and included a link to the template I created in Canva for you to use.

My 2022 Goals

I really struggled to set my annual goals. We had a lot of germs in January which demotivated me. I kind of surprised that I’ve already completed 66% of my goals for the first quarter.

Want to see my goals? Visit here: https://ko-fi.com/post/2022-Goals-X8X47WTD9

Editing Sky Heart

I had to give an update on how book two is progressing. Publishing Sky Heart is my big goal for this year. If you want to find out how it’s going, visit here: https://ko-fi.com/post/Editing-Sky-Heart-G2G27Z8K9

All The Twos

https://ko-fi.com/post/All-The-Twos-H2H17WTJI

I invite you to join in on my all the twos challenge. Read the second book in a series, or a second book by an author you’ve only read once. I thought this would be a fun way to celebrate Sky Heart (hopefully) releasing this year!

However, currently all my reads are first books.

Website Evaluation

I know my website needs updating. I evaluated how it currently looks, compared it to other popular authors sites, and made a plan to improve it. Check it out here: https://ko-fi.com/post/Author-Website-Evaluation-C0C085ZXN

Follow me on Ko-Fi

It’s free to follow me on Ko-Fi and be sure you don’t miss out on my latest news, or any freebies. You can buy me a virtual cuppa or merchandise from my shop, including a signed copy of my book.

[Ko-Fi]

Happy Indie Bookshop Week!

From Saturday, 19 June to Saturday, 26 June, it’s Indie Bookshop Week.

This event has been running since 2006 by Books Are My Bag. They also run other bookish events to support Indie Bookshops like the BAMB Awards and Indie Bookshop Day in October.

Shoutout to my local Indie Bookshop

Stillwater Books is my local bookshop in Felixstowe.

It’s been a tough year for high street shops due to the pandemic. Many spent months closed as they weren’t deemed essential. I know, who said books aren’t essential?

Ocean Heart released on 1 Dec and the country was in lockdown. The book signing event I’d always dreamed of was looking bleak. Boris said no!

I reached out to Stillwater Books with my proposed idea, a work around solution for a book signing during lockdown. I literally happy danced when they said yes.

I promptly got to work on promoting the event. The manager was patient with me as I figured out details, how to order books, write an invoice, and all the other brand new tasks I was doing for the first time.

I signed the ordered books and brought them into the shop. I made a little video for YouTube. Customers who had preordered, then either collected from the store or arranged for local delivery.

I certainly hadn’t imagined a non-contact book signing before, but Stillwater Books worked with me to make it happen. I will always be thankful to them for helping make my dream come true.

Shop Local

It’s really important to shop at your local independent bookshop. In doing so, you are supporting your high street, local jobs, a small business, and treating yourself to a new read.

That’s why I love being an affiliate with Bookshop.org. Redfae Bookshop.org is my affiliate store giving recommendations on books you should buy. It connects you with a local independent bookshop for your purchase. In return you support them with your custom and I get a small commission.

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

My Affiliate Disclosure page

What’s a UBL & why your book needs one

Ocean Heart releases tomorrow

Now you can preorder Ocean Heart

[kofi]

We went Live for Indie Author Week UK

I love going live with fellow indie authors, and Indie Author Week UK was the perfect excuse.

Joining me live was:

💛 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/

We discussed what the week is all about and those involved. We talked about how we became indie, our experience, and tips for those considering it, and to help those already with books out.

Were there any bloopers?

Going live is terrifying as there’s a fear something will go wrong. But, it builds skills in handling these. Here is what happened:

Kids: I had a few issues getting the kids to bed, so I was cutting it fine when I logged on. I used Stream Yard several times last year for my book launch without issues so I wasn’t too worried as I know it’s super simple. But…

Camera & Mic undetected: I logged on and Stream Yard couldn’t detect my camera or microphone- WTF! This is not what you want when you are about to host a live event. I switched browsers and it still wasn’t happening. It must be my laptop, because when I tried my mobile, it worked!

Unprepared: I wasn’t prepared to go live using my mobile. I had my event notes on my phone – eek! I also didn’t have a stand ready. Although my hubby snuck one over to me a few minutes in when he realised I was struggling to keep it steady. I think I did a good job of keeping the questions going without my notes.

No Link/On screen text: Next up, one of my guests hadn’t got the link to attend. It was in our group chat but for some reason was hidden from her. I accidentally added her cry for help to the screen for everyone to see. I didn’t realise until way into the stream, so you can see it for most of the live.

Lagging & Crashing: Cassidy’s iPad kept lagging making it hard for her to keep up with the chat, and we were rabbiting on. It also kept dropping her. She switched to her laptop and then it was much better.

Here are my Instagram pics introducing each of my guests:

Author Cassidy Reyne
Author Angeline Trevena
Author J.D. Groom

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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Behind the Book: The Sentinels (series) by Cassidy Reyne

Camp NaNo April – Mid Month Check In

It’s Indie Author Week UK 2021

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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YouTube: I’m her biggest fan

Making his YouTube dream come true

Writers & YouTube playlists

💕 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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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]

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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]

My debut novel releases tomorrow!

November has been a busy month leading up to my launch. It started with a Book Blitz with almost 100 participants. And, ended with a virtual book tour. Today, I’m on the radio and hosting a live launch party tomorrow evening.

Ocean Heart In the News!

I feel so fortunate that I reached out to two newspapers to see if they’d be interested in doing a press release on Ocean Heart. Both agreed, and have shared their articles so I’ve appeared in four publications (that I know of).

Nub News

Enjoy Felixstowe More

Ipswich Star

East Anglian Daily Times

On The Radio

Today, at 2pm (GMT) I will be on my local radio station. We were going to do the interview live in the studio but due to Covid Lockdown, we had to change our plans.

Instead, I met Pete down the seafront for a socially distanced recording. It was a fitting setting for an interview about Ocean Heart, as its where the book is set. During the live show, he’ll play clips from the recording along with some song recommendations.

You can listen online by tuning in at Felixstowe Radio.

Going Live

Tomorrow evening is my Live Launch Party to celebrate the release of Ocean Heart. I would love for you to join me, on 1 December at 8pm (GMT).

Click the Going Live button to get my blog post with all the links to the Live Author Chats and the link to watch the live Launch Party.

About Ocean Heart

Ocean Heart Blurb with Reviews

How to get a signed copy!

I’ve agreed to sign all preorders for my local bookshop, Stillwater Books. They also have five extra signed copies, so if you are local to Felixstowe and want to order a signed copy, contact Will (the Shopkeeper), and place an order.

Buy Paperback/eBook

I published wide which means you can purchase a copy of Ocean Heart from all the best retailers.

Borrow from the library

Ocean Heart stocked by Suffolk County Libraries

How exciting! I got confirmation that Felixstowe library have ordered a copy of Ocean Heart for Suffolk County Libraries. This is great news if you are a borrower.

If Ocean Heart isn’t at your local library, you can order a copy. All you need is the author name, title, and ISBN.

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The Author & Me Show

What happened in Nov

Coming Soon: Ocean Heart Launch Party!

Ocean Heart