Indie Author Summer Fayre

Indie Author Summer Fayre 2021

I’m excited to be one of the authors taking part in the Indie Author Summer Fayre 2021.

It’s a great opportunity to discover new books by UK Indie authors. Here is the summer fayre line up!

This event is happening over two days on Facebook. Join using the link below 🤩

Also, these seems like a good time to remind you that Ocean Heart is currently free on Smashwords for July 2021.

[kofi]

I had a great time at Felixstowe Book Festival…

I love Felixstowe Book Festival. It’s in my hometown making it convenient for me to attend. It’s reasonably priced so it doesn’t break the bank. And, it gets bigger ever year.

This year, I only bought tickets for the writing workshops delivered by Orwell Writers League. It consisted of three sessions, each cost leas than £5, and if you bought all three it was only £9.99!

With the pandemic I was a little worried it could be cancelled. Last year all events went virtual. The only disruption was a location change from Orwell Hotel (the usual venue) to Harvest House (a new venue).

I’ve lived in Felixstowe almost all my life and never been inside Harvest House. Usually it’s not open to the public. They are looking to diversify their income and now offering it up for hire for Weddings. And, Book Festivals 😍.

The Workshops

Language & Voice

This workshop had us exploring the 5 senses and developing a word bank for the theme “Shoreline.”

We were given a postcard and challenged to write a short story about the setting using the five senses. Half the room was asked to focus on “natural” senses. The other half focused on “man made” senses.

I wrote this piece, focusing on man made senses:

Body language

This workshop had us thinking about how actions can speak as loudly as words. We thought about facial expressions, and then worked our way through the body listing different actions and gestures.

We then imagined a couple on an open top bus and had to come up with three scenes they see – I think that’s what we were meant to do as I did something different. I did not do what I was supposed to 🤦‍♀️.

We were then challenged to write some dialogue between at least two people, and encouraged to use senses and actions to give the scene more meaning.

I wrote this scene based on the setting, “stuck in a hot car looking for a parking space”.

Free writing

The afternoon session was an opportunity to do some free writing. They recapped on all the things we’d covered in the morning.

I decided to use this opportunity to work on an untiled prequel to Ocean Heart (my debut novel). I decided not to read this out allowed:

Reflection

I didn’t learn anything new from the workshop but I didn’t expect to. I find workshops like this valuable as they remind us about the basics needed to write effective fiction. Think of it as refresher training.

Whilst creating my word bank, I realised it would be a useful tool to combat Writers Block and will be adding it to my arsenal. I also find writing settings challenging, the word bank was a great way to create a personal thesaurus of descriptions to use.

I love Felixstowe Book Festival and would go again. I also enjoyed networking with other writers and met two other upcoming authors. It was great to see my favourite local bookshop there with a stall, and to have a good chat with the manager of Stillwater Books.

I wish I’d taken a copy of Ocean Heart with me so I could have taken selfies with my book at such a beautiful location. I did get to hand out my new bookish business card to interested people, and ran out! I learnt from a marketing perspective to be more prepared and utilise every opportunity.

If you liked this, you will like:

Felixstowe Book Festival- How to connect with local writers

Independent Bookshop Week

We went live for Indie Author Week UK

Felixstowe Book Festival (previous years)

[kofi]

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]

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 a Bookish Surprise

YouTube: I’m her biggest fan

Making his YouTube dream come true

Writers & YouTube playlists

Next Month is Felixstowe Book Festival

Coming Soon: Felixstowe Book Festival

I love that Felixstowe Book Festival is on my doorstep. They offer a range of events, talks, and workshops. It’s also very affordable. For example, this year, you can attend a full day writing workshop for only £9.99!

To find out more about the various events and to buy tickets head over to the Felixstowe Book Festival website.

You may have already guessed or seen on Instagram, I’ve bought tickets for this years full day writing workshop for the bargain price of £9.99! It is being help in a stunning historic building, the sort that can inspire stories.

I haven’t attended every year, or blogged about every event I have attended. Below are links to my posts about some of the talks or workshops I did attend.

2019 FBF and My White Knight

2019 FBF and How to connect with local writers

2019 FBF and The Publishing Industry

2019 FBF and Containment

2019 FBF and Children’s Events

2018 FBF and Arts & Crafts with Arty Mouse

2018 FBF and Who Runs the World (YA author lunch)

2018 FBF and Learning Through Art

2017 FBF and Alwyn Hamilton – Rebel of the Sands

2017 FBF and All About Picture Book Publishing

[kofi]

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

I picked this book up from YALC 2019 and heard great things about it. It didn’t disappoint.

Here is my full review :

Skip to my final thoughts to avoid any spoilers.

Beginning

Feyre lives in a run down cottage with her dad and two sisters, struggling for food. The novel is set in a world, where human lands border the fae lands.

Feyre promised her mum, before she died, that she’d take care of them. Feeling personally responsible for their welfare, Feyre has taught herself to hunt. But Feyre must take care to avoid the fae, dangerous powerful creatures that will kill.

Whilst hunting Feyre’s path crosses a fey. She shoots her arrow. She kills! This is a catalyst for the rest if the book…

Middle

A High Fae named Tamlin arrives at the cottage to kill the one that murdered the fae. Feyre manages to strike a bargain, where she can live. But, she must live with Tamlin and will never see her family again.

Feyre hates fae. All she’s heard growing up is how nasty they are. Feyre also feels guilty for not being there to support her family, who are pretty hopeless without her.

Feyre starts to discover that the fae may not be all she believed. Her “captors” are keeping secrets from her. Feyre sets about to uncover the truth.

In doing so, she attracts the attention of Tamlin during a mating ritual. She uncovers that the courts magic has been weakened by a curse that will force them under Amaranta’s rule. And, word gets back to Amarantha – Evil Fae Queen – who hates all humans that Fayre is on fae lands.

End

Thinking the curse won’t be broken, Tamlin arranges for Feyre to return to her family and safety. Once home, Feyre no longer belongs. Her home is now with Tamlin, who she loves.

She returns to the Spring Court, only to discover Amarantha has taken Tamlin and all his people. Feyre travels to the Night Court where he is held to rescue him.

He barely acknowledges her when she arrives. Amarantha agrees to free Tamlin if she can solve a riddle or survive her challenges. During her stay, Feyre is beaten, fed awful food, and kept in a dungeon.

To survive her ordeal, Feyre needs to rely on fae willing to help her. She’s desperate when she agrees to a deal with Rysland but without his help she’s most likely doomed.

Rysland helps Feyre with her challenges, and takes care of her. There is a big fight at the end and didn’t see the ending coming. I loved the ending.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t see the ending coming but loved it. I’m interested in reading more of the series. All the characters were well developed and had a good backstory. I even loved evil Amarantha.

Feyre is a strong character. She’s thoughtful and protective of those she loves, but it’s her caring nature that gets her into trouble every time. She’s a true hero, always wanting to save others.

There were many scenes that were so vivid and clear I could see them like a movie in my head; Feyre pulling back her bow, Feyre running through the tunnels from a giant killer worm, Feyre pressed against the wall by a sexy fae.

I was a bit up and down with the romance, sometimes loving it and other times not feeling it. But, I want to read more and I’m curious to see how the deal with Rysland will work, alongside a relationship with Tamlin.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you’ll love:

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

Behind the Book: Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S Weaver

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

Book Review: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

I picked up this novel from YALC 2019. I love mermaids and I love a well developed villain.

Blurb

The fairy tale you thought you knew…

The story of the Sea Witch, the villainess from Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale The Little Mermaid, told from the viewpoint of the Sea Witch when she was a twelve-year-old girl…

Evie has been wracked with guilt ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned. So when a girl appears on shore with an uncanny resemblance to Anna, Evie befriends her in an effort to make amends. And as the two girls catch the eyes – and hearts – of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at happy ever after. But is Evie’s new friend really who she says she is?

A gripping story of friendship, betrayal and the power of hope…

Beginning

The story starts by introducing the three friends Evie, Anna, and Nik (aka the Crown Prince). The childhood friends are running along the beach and playing in a cove until there’s an accident. Evie risks her life to save Nik. Evie cracks her head on a rock. Her friends rush her home to her family that know magic and her mother gives her life to save Evie.

We then jump to Nik’s sixteenth birthday taking place on a ship. It reminded me of the scene from the start of Disney’s little mermaid. Anna isn’t here as she died in a tragic accident. This did confuse me a little as I thought I’d missed something because the only tragic accident I knew about was the one above, and Anna was fine.

A storm comes and Nik is washed overboard. Evie and his playboy cousin Iker search the tide for him, hoping he’s been washed ashore. Evie spots Nik first, he’s with a girl, but in a flash she is gone.

Middle

Evie is a witch but hides her magic because it’s punishable by death. The story covers lots of celebrations including one where wicker dolls to symbolize witches are thrown into the fire.

Evie meets a mysterious girl that is a dead ringer for her friend Ana who tragically died, taken by the sea, during a swimming challenge gone wrong. The new girl claims to be Annemette.

Annemette reveals to Evie she too has magic, and confesses to being a mermaid. It was her that saved Nik when he almost drowned and she fell in love and had to come to land for true love. She has limited time to get true loves kiss or return to the sea as foam.

Annemette is in luck because, as Nik’s BFF, she’s the one girl with access to him. But, Evie is poor and shunned away by the elite as unsuitable, so she’s not usually invited into the palace. Evie lies, and says Annemette is from a well off family, and Annemette uses her magic to create herself (and Evie), fine dresses. As a result, they are invited to stay at the palace.

Evie encourages Nik to date Annemette. She reminds her so much of her lost friend, she’ll do anything for her. Evie starts dating Iker. Nik isn’t too pleased about this, due to Iker’s reputation and there is a hint of jealous. Evie knows her and Nik can only ever be friends due to her heritage.

While Iker keeps kissing Evie, Nik holds back with Annemette. As the days pass, Nik starts expressing his suspicions more and more causing friction.

Evie searches for another way to break the curse. She starts practising her magic more, becoming stronger.

During all of this, there are flashbacks. These sometimes reveal Evie’s pasts, and sometimes the Little Mermaids and her life bebeathe the waves.

End

Time is running out! In Evie’s desperation she tells Nik, Annemette is a mermaid. Annemette is not impressed, so, she reveals Evie is a which! Iker over heals and demands the guards arrest her.

The girls run. Evie is still determined to save Annemette and believes she’s figured out the spell. It turns out Annemette has her own ideas to stay human & it has nothing to do with kissing Nik.

It’s during these final pages, Nik confesses he never had eyes for Annemette, he has always loved Evie. Annemette takes Nik’s life, making her human. But, as a human she’s vulnerable. Evie is shot with arrows and pulls Annemette down into the water. She holds her down until her last breath. Her friend, dead again.

Evie doesn’t die. With all the magic swirling in the water, she merges with an octopus and becomes the Sea Witch.

Final Thoughts

I loved the story telling. Sarah Henning set the novel in Denmark where it was from originally. She brought to life the Danish coast, and a fishing village rich in customs. There were moments that were so vivid, and I loved the fresh take on a classic fairy tale.

There wasn’t a happily ever after. I really wanted to see her with the crown prince & show those snobs that their love is more powerful. But, I guess I should have expected it. I kept looking at the cover and wondering where the famous sea witch was, and she was Evie.

The sea witch is usually the villain but in her own story she wasn’t. I liked Evie and I felt sorry for her fate. I’ll have to read book 2, Sea Witch Rising, to see if things improve for her.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you like this, you’ll enjoy:

Book Review: Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

Book Review: Forgotten Scars by Natalie J Reddy

Book Review: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

Why I Love YALC!

Book Review: Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

I picked this book up at YALC and had no idea what I was getting myself in for. I was attracted by the cover, the blurb and the offer of a free tote bag.

This book is set in a fantasy world where people live on Island and are plagued by dangerous spirits.

There are people with the ability to control the spirits but they hide their power. If you are found out you are given a choice – join the queens guards and lose your identity or go to a deadly island where if you manage to survive you become an heir to the throne.

Beginning

The story starts with the MC getting married but her wedding goes horribly wrong when the celebrations are over run by spirits killing her guests. It’s so bad that the MC can’t run and hide, she stands up to the spirits and fights, revealing her hidden power.

She knows the guards will come and take her but her fiancé convinces her to runaway with him. He doesn’t want her taken like her sister a few years before. If they get caught, he persuades her to choose to be a guard as he can’t bear to think of her being hunted and killed on the island.

Middle

The lovers are tracked and caught and the MC is forced to make her choice. In that moment, hating the guards for attacking her injured fiancé, she chooses the Island. She can’t stand the thought of being one of them.

After a brief training session, where she makes two friends, they are taken to the Island for the test. The last cohort all died casting fear and doubt in the women’s minds. As the first women reach the shore, the spirits instantly start killing them off.

The MC manages to escape and hide by swimming underwater (a special skill she has). Whilst surviving, she runs into one of her friends and they team up against the spirits. This isn’t encouraged as it will make them a greater target to the spirits.

Together they uncover a secret about the island that sheds light on why everyone died during the previous test. They decide they must escape the island to inform the Queen.

The Ending

I’ll try not to spoil it. All I’ll say is there were plot twists I didn’t see coming. I was really impressed with the ending and all the lose ends were tied up brilliantly.

Finally Thoughts…

I loved this book so much that it is my favourite book for 2019! It has set the bar high.

I had no idea it is part of a series as it is a complete story but now I know, I want to read the other titles.

The book is described as a Fantasy version of Hunger Games and that’s a pretty good summary.

I highly recommend this book. If you’ve not read it yet, you really are missing out. Go order it now!


If you like this post, you will enjoy:

Book Review: Red Queen

Book Review:  Blind Tiger by Rachel Vincent

Book Review: Who runs the world by Virginia Bergolt

Book Review: The Gender Game


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Felixstowe Book Festival and My White Knight

Sometimes in life people surprise you and this is a true story about a stranger paying it forward.

Ferry Car Park

I arrived at the Ferry Car Park for Phoebe Morgan’s talk on The Publishing Industry. I made sure I had change on me to pay for my car park ticket. But, the machine was more expensive than I anticipated. I was short by a pound.

I searched the car for any stray coins but came up empty. I tried following the instructions to pay by phone but the automated message kept asking me for a code from a fine letter. I started to contemplate whether I should risk buying a ticket knowing it would run out before the talk is over or if I should leave and return late to the talk but have a fully paid ticket.

A stranger noticed my distress and asked what what was going on? I explained my dilemma and he kindly offered me the money I was short by without expecting anything in return. He was gone before I could ask his name or how to pay him back.

Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club

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Quite like these #oldboats #boat #closeup #ferry

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Due to the car park drama, I was one of the last to take a seat in the Sailing Club conference room. As luck would have it, I found myself sitting next to my white knight. We didn’t get much opportunity to talk but I found out he is an author and he was going to The Scribblers & OWL event in the afternoon. The same event I was booked on to.

The Orwell Hotel

In the afternoon, I arrived at the Orwell Hotel for the event being hosted by the local writers group Felixstowe Scriblers and Orwell League Writers. Once again, I found myself sitting next to my hero.

This time, we got the opportunity to talk and I learned that his name is David F Burrows and he has two books published. We chatted about his books and I was entertained by the Jack the Flasher book (book 2). I was taking note of the titles as I wanted to support him as he was such a wonderful man. Then, David offered to sign them for me.

I have read the first chapter of Fish Bone Alley (book 1) and flew through it. I easily could have carried on but stopped myself as I am midway through another novel at the moment. These books will hold a special place in my heart due to the kindness of the man that wrote them.

If you enjoy dark comedy go check these novels out (click here). Not only will they make you laugh (or smirk) but you will also be supporting a writer with a heart of gold. In addition, visit his website and follow his blog here.

Don’t you love it when you meet an author that is easy to talk to and a truly lovely person? Tell me about an amazing author you have met?

If you like this, you would enjoy:

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Reflecting on Camp NaNo July 2019

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Ally plus text

Reflecting on Camp NaNo July 2019

July has been a challenging month for my writing goals. For Camp NaNo I decided to make a start on book 2, Diamond in the Sky but it has been full of distractions! I’m hoping August will be more productive for my writing.

Distraction 1: Course Work

I needed to finish my coursework for the Working Together Community Course. I must admit I had been putting off the assignments to work on my writing and as the deadline to submit approached I had to prioritise it and get it done. I have really enjoyed volunteering and everyone at the school has been lovely. On my last day, I got a card from the teachers and signed by all the children and chocolates.

Distraction 2: Blog

I didn’t make any progress on my Camp NaNo project until day 7 and I quickly realised that I needed to do some more planning. Not only that but my blog was also in need of some attention. I need to write up about all the fun I had at Felixstowe Book Festival. I then spent the next few evenings prepping some posts.

After a little plotting and scheduling, I was ready to write and decided to sign up to Mandi Lynn’s #10kWritingChallenge. I knew there was no chance I could write 10k in one day with my other commitments but I knew if I aimed high, I would achieve something great. I wrote 2,792 new words for Diamond in the Sky. I was back on track for my Camp NaNo goal.

Turns out Mandi Lynn didn’t make 10k either. She vlogged about her struggles and celebrated the words she did achieve. She encourages people to sign up to next months 10k challenge and win a pin.

Distraction 3: Important dates

The end of July and start of August have some important dates for me.

Husband distractions: It is my husband’s birthday month. I needed to sort out his gift and I wanted to take him out somewhere child free. I arranged for his sister to babysit. I also got Aria to print her feet in his card and Noah to write a personal message.

Valerie Patisserie

Also, last month, my hubby got a little neglected as the end of Jewel of the Sea got closer, so I promised to watch Stranger Things with him – which was awesome.

Noah distractions: My son was finishing his first year of school (Reception class).

I think it is nice for kids to make their teacher a card or gift so I had to come up with an idea and organise the craft.

We got to go to Noah’s first sports day. I also decided to arrange a night out with the playground mums and get the ball rolling on some summer play dates.

Aria’s distractions: Aria’s first birthday is at the start of August. I have been busy arranging her cake smash and splash and worked with the photographer to create a very personal experience (more coming soon).

I’ve also been planning her parties. Yes! That was ‘party’ as a plural. She is a very lucky girl.

Distraction 4: Pitching

SFFpip was this month. It was my first time taking part in this Twitter pitch event and I got a like by a publisher! Naturally, I have then had to research them to decided if the feeling is mutual.

If writing up about Felixstowe Book Festival was my distraction at the start of the month, then YALC was my distraction at the end. The closer the date got, the more excited I became. I went to bed early the night before and barely slept a wink. I can’t believe it, I pitched to two agents – one of them I have stalked on Twitter for years – and they both asked me to send them Jewel of the Sea – Aghhh!

Now, my distraction is trying to write the perfect query letter. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I’m pretty sure my letter stinks and is why I get rejected. I feel like an excited puppy chasing my own tail and equally terrified that when I bite, I am going to get hurt. I need to conquer my fear and be brave.

Conclusion

I was in two minds whether or not to do Camp NaNo as I knew I had a lot on already this month.

With a grand total of 9,886 words, I think it is pretty impressive what I achieved despite all the distractions. If I hadn’t given it a go, I may not have written anything this month.

I also feel the challenge has kept me in touch with my novel so when things calm down in a few weeks, I can dive straight back in.

How did your July writing goals go? Did you do Camp Nano?

If you liked this post, you may enjoy:

My plans for the third quarter

Felixstowe Book Festival – The Publishing Industry

#PitMad June 2019 Summary

YALC Prep

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Ally plus text