Thank you to everyone who entered my MerMay Giveaway for a chance to win a book token.
Entry was free and open to all. My newsletter subscribers got an extra entry.
I decided to use Miniwebtool.com random name picker, to choose from the entries from both Instagram and webform (link was in the newsletter ).
The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified.
The Book Token wasn’t the only thing I gave away during May!
To celebrate Ocean Heart now being available on Google Play, I made it free to all for the first week of May. In addition, to thank my followers on Ko-Fi, I provided them a link that enabled them to get Ocean Heart for free for the entire month of May.
Thank you to everyone that took advantage of my MerMay book deal and treated themselves to a free copy of Ocean Heart. Happy reading and if you have time, please write a review. Reviews are super important to authors as it helps our books get discovered. 💛
In April, I tried out the shop feature on Ko-Fi by offering a free digital Book Tracker. I made this product free and it’s still Free! Go download it now.
You can also buy Ocean Heart from my Ko-Fi shop and there’s an option to purchase a signed copy.
For MerMay I did an ocean themed spread on Instagram. It made me want to do something to support a cause that helps the sea and/or marine life.
Choosing a charity to donate to was harder than I thought. There are so many amazing charities out there.
People often talk about why writing reviews are so important to authors but what about for you the reader. Here we go:
Your Reading History
If you read a lot, you can forget what you’ve read. You don’t want to waste time reading a book you didn’t enjoy, twice.
But on the flip side, wouldn’t it be awesome to rediscover the books you did love. You don’t want to forget those gems.
If you enjoy a challenge, set yourself a reading goal. Celebrate your wins doing something you love.
If you discover your not getting time to read, it could help you identify that your life is too hectic and you don’t get to relax. Or maybe your energy is focussed elsewhere, which is fine. You can reduce your goal.
It helps you not forget the name of that author whose voice you loved. Now, you can discover more of their books.
You can follow authors you like on sites like Goodreads, Book Bub and Amazon. This will help keep you notified of new releases.
Over time your tastes may change but seeing what you enjoyed helps identify what you love. In turn, this will help you discover more fabulous books.
If you post your review to sites like Good Reads or Amazon, then algorithms will learn what you want and recommend what to buy/read next. This can save you time in finding your next great read.
Others will read your reviews, see what you like and be able to make intelligent recommendations.
You may connect with people with similar tastes, get reading buddies, and/or develop a book club. Reading can become a social activity, and thanks to the internet, you can buddy a reader anywhere in the world.
By talking about the books you read, you become someone people trust for recommendations. Imagine being an influencer for the books you love, someone others take notice of? If you’re good at reviews, this could be you.
Self Development – Reading
There’s more to reading than getting from page 1 to the end. When you write a review you reflect on what you read.
What was it about? How did it make you feel? Did you learn from the story?
Reflecting on what you read is a skill you are taught at school to deepen your reading but is often lost when you no longer have a teacher invested in your reading.
Self Development – Writing
When you write a review, you’ll think about what was done well and how you can use those techniques in your own work. Being a reader helps you deliver more of what readers want.
You will also be exposed to new words or phrases, expanding your vocabulary. You will visit places, meet new people, and explore plots that will inspire new ideas.
Free Books For Honest Reviews
Authors look for people that read their genre. If they are giving their book away for free, they want it to be to someone that will appreciate and love their book. If you apply to be a reviewer, your history as a reviewer could be checked.
The reason is, if you love their genre, their book is off to a good start already in your hands. If you have a following that enjoy your reviews on this genre, then you’ll be helping the right eager readers discover it.
When authors can see what you like, it helps them know if their book is right for you. Someone that enjoys gritty serious crime novels is unlikely to enjoy a sweet high school romance.
We’re all beautifully unique. It’s okay if YA Contemporary Fantasy isn’t for you, but I’m hoping those that do will love and review OCEAN HEART.
Have you preordered Ocean Heart?
If you buy a copy of Ocean Heart between 1 Oct and 1 Dec, you can enter my preorder giveaway. Visit my Giveaway Page for more details.
Where can you find my reviews?
Let me know the positives you’ve experienced from writing book reviews, and check out my reviews.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I am getting so excited about my upcoming date with YALC! I can’t wait to be surrounded by all those wonderful books, authors and influential people in the industry.
But London is expensive and a long day out for me so I’ve thought about what to take and wear.
What I’ll wear
I want to be comfortable so I will be wearing flat shoes. Not only will this trip involve a lot of travelling for me but also book festivals involve a lot of walking around visiting the stands. I couldn’t believe me luck when I discovered this cute T-Shirt in a sale at NewLook with the slogan “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”
I’ll also want my makeup to last all day so I’ll be wearing Pacifica waterproof mascara and Ere Perez lip stain in Joy. I’ll take my rose facial spritz in case it is sticky hot and sun lotion in case I am out in the sun.
I haven’t decided what bag to take yet but I plan to pack a notepad, and a reusable shopping bag for all the books I buy.
I will also pack my water bottle, snacks and, if I’m organised enough, a pack lunch.
My last bit of prep will be to check my travel details and time with my friend. We’ll likely drive part of the way and the train/underground the rest. I’ll also double check I’ve got my tickets.
Also, someone I connected with on Instagram is going too. We are hoping to meet up. I’m super excited as I’ve never met an online friend before.
I don’t travel to London very often. What tips do you have for me to ensure my trip is a success? Are you going to YALC?
This book came highly recommended on Instagram and when Bethany Atazadeh and Brittany Wang did their #STCExperiement – YouTube videos of them using the book to outline a novel – I decided I had to get it so I could join in.
The book is based on books by Blake Snyder who writes guides for scriptwriters. Jessica identified that the best novels use the same structure. In this guide to writing she adapts the ‘Save the Cat’ beats for novel writing. She also gives plenty of examples form best sellers – even if you haven’t read them you will know their names.
How it works?
This guide splits the novel into four Acts. Each act is broken down into beats. The Beats have names and descriptions to prompt you what needs to be happening in your novel.
Once you read the book you will start noticing the beats in films you watch. It is a real eye opener.
How I used it?
Editing (Jewel of the Sea)
When the book arrived I had just decided that Jewel of the Sea needed yet another edit! I wanted to re-write the ending, however, that’s not as easy as just jumping to the end and writing it. There are little details that need to be woven in throughout the novel.
After reading STC, I created a spreadsheet based on my word count and used the percentages to see where certain beats should be happening. It turned out I had a lot of the beats but in some places my pacing was off. I then used STC to help with that.
Plotting Act 1 (Scarlet Dresses)
For Camp NaNo April, I used STC to draft out the first Act for a new novel called Scarlet Dresses. During the challenge I made a really good start on this novel.
My only hold up was that I felt my characters were a bit flat as I had not spent long enough developing them. I feel the story had got potential so I plan to return to this project and complete it… one day.
Plotting and editing (Diamond in the Sky)
This month, I decided to do Camp NaNo July. Jewel of the Sea is out with Beta Readers and I need to start thinking about writing the next novel in my shifter series. Now, Diamond in the Sky has been started but never finished. Now I am more familiar with STC, I decided to use it for both editing and plotting.
To start with I need to edit what I already have. I have used STC to plot the first Act and created my spreadsheet to check the pacing is right. There are a few instances where it is slightly off and I have noted this on my spreadsheet to check later. First, I want to get the novel written.
The next step will be to use STC to plot the rest of the novel – the unwritten chapters. I will use STC to check that when I create the different beats that I am getting the pacing right.
This book has changed the way I write. I have always been a pantser and found editing incredibly hard. Writing without a plan often can take you off on wayward paths that are not necessary or haven’t been preempted to create the right impact. This results in a lot of editing – something I hate.
With STC, I feel have a guide keeping me on track and I can check my pacing is working. Previously, my outline was incredibly brief and left a lot of gaps for me to fill but having a plot keeps me on track and I don’t get stuck.
If you need help plotting and with pacing, then I highly recommend this book. Now, it is always close to hand and I wouldn’t write a novel without it. I love it.
Do you have any writer resources that you swear by?
This is the first book in the series that I have read and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The funny thing is I first heard about this book at YALC 2017 when they were promoting it with #RedQueenForADay but it had taken me almost two years to pick it up to read.
Please excuse the silly picture, I was not feeling very photogenic after the long train ride to London.
What is the book about?
The book is set in a world with two species of humans. There are those with red blood who are treated as a low class species and those with silver blood who are treated as nobles and have super power type abilities.
How it starts?
The MC, Mare, is a red blood. She lives in a family that are struggling to get by and she hasn’t got a job to be able to contribute to supporting her family. Mare is a thief. Eventually, when she comes of age she will be sent to war, to fight for the silvers on the front lines with a high risk of being killed.
Mare’s best friend is due to be sent away very soon and Mare decides to help them escape but first she needs to get enough money to pay for their travel. The risks are high so those that could help them escape have set a high fee.
Mare’s sister has a good job where she makes fine clothes for the Silvers. Mare tags along with her to get into the city. Whilst there a terrorist attack takes place causing bedlam. Mare panics and tries to pick a pocket but gets caught. Her sister takes the blame to save her and has her hands broken, resulting in losing her trade. The girls return home with very bleak prospects.
An unexpected request comes for Mare to come and work at the palace. This will save her from war and give her family money to survive but she will have to leave them behind.
Early on, Mare discovers she is different from other Red Servants when she accidentally manipulates lightening. She earns the nickname Little Lightning Girl and the attention of the Queen.
The Queen fears that news that a red could have powers will encourage the rebels so she marries Mare to her son and concocts a story about how Mare is a silver that was raised as a red.
Mare is watched by the Queen’s guards and the cameras in the palace. She has to keep up the ruse but despite falling for the princes (both of them), her heart is still red and wants revenge for her kinds spilt blood. Under the watchful eyes she seeks to join the rebels and take down the silvers from the inside.
How it ends
I don’t want to spoil it for you but there is a big battle where the odds are not in Mares favour.
She is placed in an arena for her execution where, for entertainment, selected silvers will use their powers to torture her before her end. Mare will have to battle them all if she is to live.
I wish I had read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard sooner. If you like powers, submersible world building and a touch of romance then give this YA Fantasy is worth a read.
Can you guess my next read? There’s a sneak peak in the photo.