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

Here is the low down on what I posted on Ko-Fi last month, so you don’t miss out!

Sky Heart – Briefed my cover designer

Taking those next steps towards publishing book two is very exciting. It’s still a way off, but I’ve reached out to my cover designer to discuss ideas and book in.

Content Creation

An update on what I was doing in July. Originally I’d toyed with the idea of doing a project for Camp NaNo.

Instead, I was busy planning my husband’s secret party, and attending all the end of school/nursery events for my kids.

In the end, I was working on remaining present on social media by developing content. This included opportunities to feature in Felixstowe Magazine and interviews with other bloggers.

Smashwords Summer Sale (July)

I posted at the start and end of July to make people aware that Ocean Heart was in the Smashwords sale at 50% off. This needed some prompting and content to spread the word.

Coming Soon – Author Diaries

I’ve also been busy working on this collaborative project, and developing content to start promoting.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel and stay tuned for more info coming soon.

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.

[Kofi]

More About Sky Heart

What I did for World Book Day!

I delivered my first ever face-to-face author event for World Book Day. It was extra special because I got to attend the high school where my book Ocean Heart is set.

The Setting

Ocean Heart is set in Felixstowe. When I started writing the novel there were two high schools in the town. Deben High School and Orwell High School, both named after local rivers. The two schools had some rivalry and I didn’t want my book about that so I merged the schools together and made Felixstowe High School.

Little did I know that the council were going to do this. The old schools were knocked down and a new modern building erected.

I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the high school so it was really fun to see if it was anything like I imagined. The school was lovely, and very modern, and a lot bigger. I was very impressed.

The students

I met up with groups of five to six students from Key Stage 3. The plan was to introduce myself, and my book, and discuss what had inspired my writing.

I’m not great at public speaking, so I took a notebook with some conversation bullet points to boost my confidence and feel more prepared. I’m not sure what I’m scared will happen, other than making a fool of myself.

The students were very sweet and polite. Once I flipped the attention off myself and onto them, I was able to relax and the conversation flowed better.

We discussed my writing, debut novel, and reading. The students came up with some great questions for me, some that madrWhen we discussed their interests they even had some book recommendations for me.

The book recommendations

My notebook came in handy to write down the books the students recommended I read.

Reflection

I’m so thankful to Felixstowe High School for having me. I appreciated that Deputy Head, Darren M arranged for me to chat with a small groups rather than in-front of a large audience.

Darren also got me thinking about delivering some leisure learning courses for Creative Writing. I’ve been going over old books, notes from courses I’ve done, to explore the idea. Ifurther

I think the more I do, the easier it will get. As a natural introvert, I have to push myself outside my comfort zone but this is good for my professional development. Plus, afterwards I was buzzing that I did it.

Discover Ocean Heart

You can pick up Ocean Heart from all good book shops and online retailers, and borrow through your library or Overdrive.

NaNoWriMo Project

My NaNoWriMo Project

New Moon (working title)

This project is set in the same low fantasy world of The Soul Heart Series. In fact, for readers of Ocean Heart they may recognise the main character, Denny.

This story is a prequel. It’s set in the 90s, back when Denny was a teen herself. It will cover how she became friends with Gwyn, started her Sparkle Cake business, and the highs and lows as a new mum.

Preparation

I feel more prepared now I have created a title, cover, and blurb. Of course these are all just a work in progress, so could change but it helps me feel more focused.

I’ve started writing an outline. I intended for this to be a novella but I already have a sneaky suspicion this could become a full length novel.

I’ve also made a spreadsheet to help me track my word count. If this works successfully, I will look at making a version available to my followers on Ko-Fi.

The Goal

I’m going to aim for the big Five-O (50,000 words). If I don’t make it, I will still have made progress, but if I do, it’d make me so happy.

I’ve been struggling with motivation because Sky Heart is on hold until I can afford the professional services I need to move it forward. I’ve also been bummed out with all the germs (sick kids) ruining September, and fracturing my ankle ruining October.

I really want to get back into the habit of writing again. My ultimate goal for November is this: To write!

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What’s your project, goal, and how do you prepare?

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

About Ocean Heart

About Sky Heart

About Work In Progress

About Ko-Fi

Collaborating on a New Exciting Project

Elzevera of Willowtree Editing needed some extra help in managing her Mighty Network: Under the Willow

I joined the Mighty Network back in 2019 and Elzevera helped me with self editing, Ocean Heart.

It inspired me to want to create my own Mighty Network and I set this as a goal at the start of 2020.

I have been exploring creating a Mighty Network. It is a social site for creatives. I’m currently a member of a Mighty Network by Willow Editing. I have been Beta Testing a self-editing course by Elzevera of Willow Editing.

I am considering the network as a potential way to share extra bits with my readers. I am also exploring it as a space to share writing resources as many of my followers are fellow writers.

http://allyaldridge.com/writing-progress-january 2020/

But, I’d also decided to self publish Ocean Heart, and this was my priority and keeping me very busy. I didn’t have time to build my own Mighty Network. I ended up abandoning the goal to focus on my debut novel.

Early this year, I stepped back from my volunteer role with World Indie Warriors. I created their indie books brochure and eZine. Collecting all the info and publishing four times a year was taking over too much of my free time. When I started a new job, I didn’t have the energy to continue with both. It was hard to let go but I’m still very close with the members and support them however I can.

Now I’ve settled into my new role, I have more energy again. When I saw Elzevera call for help on Instagram, it sounded like a perfect new fresh challenge for me.

I applied to help, and we had a little chat about what she’d need me to do. From October, I shall be Elzevera’s new co-host. I’m excited to take on this new role.

Under the Willow is inline with my original Mighty Network goal. Elzevera’s created her network to empower writers to have the tools they need to self edit their work, and improve their writing craft in a supportive community.

If you want to join a supportive group of writers and improve your craft, please do come join us on Mighty Networks in Under the Willow

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this you will like:.

12 Tips for Self Editing

My Process – How to Publish a Book

Different self publishing platforms

Writing Progress – January 2020

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]

Don’t put off writing your novel!

Have you seen that advert of a mum working from home? She is lying on the floor cooing at her baby and typing on her laptop. I bet you know the one I mean.

Well, I’m embarrassed to admit I believed this could be my life. My dream has always been to be a Novelist and I also longed to be a mother, so this image was singing to my heart, ”you can have it all!”

If I’d waited for my ideal writers life, I’d still be waiting.

Ally Aldridge

I’ve been writing stories ever since I could put a sentence together but for many reasons I put off seriously trying to get published until the prospect of children was on the horizon.

As soon as I got engaged in September 2009, I came off the contraceptive pill. I wanted it out of my system so I could get pregnant as fast as possible once married. We married in June 2011 but different factors got in the way of motherhood.

Our Wedding in Mauritius

During that time I wrote Hunted, Instinct and Drift (now published as Ocean Heart). I edited Drift, queried it, got some requests… but never an offer.

Late 2013, I had my son. He took over my life in the most glorious way, but it was obvious how unrealistic that image in my head was. My working hours were reduced but it didn’t enable any extra time for writing. If anything, I had less time. I was juggling a job and my parental responsibilities. Most evenings I was too shattered to do anything.

Once my son turned three, we decided we were ready to grow our family. Fortunately, I didn’t fall pregnant quickly because a few months later the company I was employed at went into administration. Expanding our family was put on hold until we got financial stabile again.

To my relief, almost a year later, we decided to try again and I fell pregnant straight away. My daughter joined us in the summer of 2018.

During this time I’d continued to edit and query Drift. I realised that I have to just make my situation work if I wanted my dream. That meant, I often wrote in the evenings when my kids slept. Sometimes they have worn me out in the day and I have to be okay with letting myself take a break.

I focus on celebrating what I have achieved and that I’m still making progress, instead of being frustrated I can’t do it as fast as others. I blog and schedule content on my mobile whilst my kids play. I make my social media posts on my phone often using Canva. In the smallest pocket of time, I can still work towards my goals.

Due to my new can do attitude, I’m now a published author. That’s right, in December 2021, I said yes to myself, and published Ocean Heart, book 1 in The Soul Heart series. If I’d waited for my ideal writers life, I’d still be waiting.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

During lockdown, I’ve lost my childcare for my youngest . And, whenever the schools close, I’m homeschooling for my oldest. My employer has been pretty supportive and when I’ve been most impacted by the pandemic, I have been placed on Furlough.

These days I have even less time to write! But, I’m writing. Maybe not everyday, but I am getting there.

My message to you is, do what you can now because every little bit will add up. There’s nothing to lose. Worst case scenario, you have a fabulous novel all to yourself.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

The Process of Publishing a Novel – 1 of 3

12 Tips for Self Editing

Notebooks of Story Ideas

How to Beat Writers Block

The Process of Publishing a Novel – 1 of 3

Check out the collection for all parts.

The first step to publishing a novel is often to write the first draft. This is the same whether you wish to traditionally or self publish. There are some exceptions to this rule.

If you’ve have an interesting story to tell from your real life or an expert in your field, a publisher or agent might reach out and request you write a book if there is a market in demand.

Some people prefer to hire a ghost writer to write for them. In this case you’re not the one physically writing your book and this post is not for you because today I’m covering writing the draft version.

Step 1 – Draft a Novel

Here is a handy info graphic of what I’m going to cover in this post.

You can save this to your Pinterest board.

Plan

If you’re writing a full length novel it’s useful to start with a plan. I don’t consider myself a plotter but I still write an outline. It helps me get from A to B, and a few check points along the way.

Some writers want a more detailed plan. They might want to design their characters, do some Worldbuilding and draw maps, or even need to research information.

Write

This is obviously the most important part. If you don’t write the book there won’t be a book. However, don’t get hung up on making it perfect. You will not publish your first draft – in fact nobody has to see that monstrosity if you don’t want them to.

Writing a novel is a big task. It can help to break it down into smaller more manageable tasks. Many writers find it useful to set word count goals. Writing sprints can be useful to focus time on writing in quick bursts.

Here’s a handy post on beating writers block.

Self Edit

Some writers edit as they write – this does slow the process down but afterwards your manuscript is in a better shape. Other writers spew the words onto the page and tidy up the mess afterwards.

It doesn’t matter how you do it but you’ll want to give it an edit before letting anyone else read it. It’s easy to make mistakes whilst you are in the moment.

You don’t need to limit the number of self edits. Edit it as many times as you need to. Some people break the task into different focusses. For example, you might do a read through and look for inconsistencies, or focus on SPAG, or receptiveness, or pacing.

Here is a post with some tips on how to self edit.

Alpha Reader

Not everybody uses an Alpha. They are often someone you are close to and you show them an early draft to get feedback. Sometimes Alphas are used before a book is finished to assess whether the story has any merit before investing a load of time in it.

Self Edit

Whenever you get feedback on your book you should reflect on it. Did your Alpha share some ideas to help you improve your book?

Don’t worry if they didn’t. Many Alphas are already your personal cheerleaders (like your spouse, mum, best friend, etc). They might not have the skills to critique but when you’re battling self doubt, they are the ones picking you up and cheering you on.

They may also have raised issues or ideas you hadn’t thought about. Often when trying to get someone to understand your idea, you discover the plot holes or where things aren’t clear enough.

Beta Readers

These people read a draft you’ve worked on improving. You can even find paid Betas who have skills to highlight where you can improve your novel further.

Here is a post that compares Beta and ARC readers (and touches on Alpha readers).

Self Edit

Yes! You will get feedback from your Betas on how to improve your book. It’s best to have a few Betas and they may even have conflicting views. Allow yourself time to reflect on their advice.

Remember it is your novel at the end of the day and if their ideas are changing the vision you had, you don’t have to apply them. However, if several readers pointed out the same thing, they most likely have a point you should pay attention to.

You may even want to ask your Betas questions. For example, is this sex scene too much for teen readers? Um… yes, I’m working on a story where my Betas will be asked this. 😂

Get a Professional Edit…

The next post in my series is about getting your manuscript professionally edited…

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this post, you will like:

Check out my Live Stream Team

5 Tips for Character Names

Creating a Catchy Novel Title

How NOT To Start A Novel

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.

If you enjoyed this, you’ll like:

The Author & Me Show

What happened in Nov

Coming Soon: Ocean Heart Launch Party!

Ocean Heart

NaNoWriMo Mid Point Check in – Nov 2020

Hello my fellow Wrimos, how have you been? Are you hitting your word count goals? Are you enjoying your project?

The last question is the most important. Writing shouldn’t feel forced or like a chore. You’ll write best when you are enjoying your project.

This NaNo, I feel like I’m cheating. I’m not working on a brand new novel. You see, now Ocean Heart has been published (more details here), I want to get Book 2 out. And, it needs to be finished. But when I went to work on the ending of Sky Heart, I didn’t like what was already written. During NaNo, I’ve reworked, rewrote and written new parts. But, I’m working with chapters not an outline.

On top of this, I have three other novels I’m adding to when I get stuck on Sky Heart. Two are set in the same world and another is a sparkly brand new idea which I shouldn’t let distract me.

Word Count Progress (15 days)

Here’s a charts showing my progress over that past 15 days:

The red line is the number of words I need to achieve everyday to hit 50k by the end of the month. The yellow line is my personal daily goal. It’s more than the NaNo goal because I have taken into account taking days off for my book launch and birthdays. The blue bars are number of words written. Although, I am behind on my personal goal, I am still really pleased with where I am at.

You can see that I got off to a great start. I was so ready to write. I think it helped that I’d had a week off and enjoyed lots of family time.

Then, I got headache that lasted a few days. All my energy went into work. The anxiety about my book launch caught up with me & I struggled with sleep. It sucked my creativity dry.

World Indie Warriors were doing live sprints on Instagram. Attending one got me motivated again. We did a few sprints and I was back into my project again.

Distractions

These are the things that have taken me away from my writing and aren’t necessarily bad things, but have all impacted my goals.

Potty Training

This was not planned. But after having a nappy flung at me and my naked child squealing wee wee, it was easy to see she was interested in using a toilet. Often I write on my phone but it’s hard to get in the flow when any second you’re little declares they need to Go! Go! Go!

Birthdays

November is full of birthdays making it a difficult writing month. The first half of the month includes my son’s birthday and mine. Despite lockdown we tried to make the day a little more special. I did get to write for my birthday but Noah’s day was about Noah.

Reading

The book I am enjoying at the moment is If The Broom Fits by Sarah Sutton.

I’ve also just discovered Litsy. The app is a little like Instagram but all about books. I’ve spent a bit of time trying to figure out using the site but I’m starting to get the hand of it. I was a bit confused my ‘blurb’ which is just a post about anything, not a book blurb.

YouTube

I went live on YouTube with author H.B. Lyne. I always get nervous leading up to the event but afterwards I’m energised. So, I headed over to Instagram to hear Elexis Bell do a live reading of her new book A Heart of Salt & Silver. I’ve pre-ordered it but it’s taking ages to come. I want it now! Wah! I then headed over to World Indie Warriors who were hosting a live writing sprint on Instagram.

Book Blitz

At the start of the month was the Ocean Heart Book Blitz. I tried to retweet or share posts by everyone that took part. I didn’t have to but I really value those that support my launch. It meant a lot to me that they took an interest in my book.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

If you liked this, you’ll enjoy:

My NaNoWriMo Project

How to beat writers block

What’s happening this month!

Camp NaNo Progress (mid July 2020)

My NaNoWriMo Project

Well… I have not one, not two, but THREE projects for November. And, I still probably won’t make the 50k goal.

That’s not me being a defeatist. I’m not quitting before I start. In fact, despite the odds, I’m still going to try. And, you should too!

November is always a busy month. It’s my son’s & I’s birthdays, and the birthday of lots of other loved ones. On top of that, I’m launching Ocean Heart. There’s a lot going on. Plus, someone always gets ill in November – I’m hoping the social distancing is going to help avoid that this year.

Realistically, November is not the best month for me to write. However, the NaNo challenge encourages me to be more focussed and accountable. Because of this, I write more because I took part. And, I love the community spirit, writing with us.

Project 1 – Sky Heart

This is the main project. Sky Heart is book 2 in The Soul Heart Series. Getting this published will be my 2021 big goal. So, I need to get it written.

Kiely got dumped for Christmas. Heartbroken she makes rash decisions to get over her ex-boyfriend, starting with a blindfold and a mystery kisser.

Kiely’s new wild lifestyle places her in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now she must stay alive, as she’s drawn into an ancient shifter war with werewolves and reapers.

Kiely’s battle to overcome her ex is about to take her to new heights.

Project 2 – Prequel

This will be a short novella. I may give it away as a readers magnet for newsletter signups. It’ll be a Historical Fantasy, but not set a long time ago. It’ll be in the 90s.

Project 3 – Luna

My werewolf villain wants me to tell her story. I’m not sure if it will be written just for me so I know her better or to share her with the world.

Luna’s story is also to be a Historical Fantasy. This will be going back to medieval times. It’s anticipated to be a novella.

What about you?

Are you doing NaNo this year? And, what do you think of my projects?

I usually focus on just one but I’m really feeling all three of these right now and just want my creativity to flow.

I’m planning on attending a few live write ins with World Indie Warriors on Instagram.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this you will like:

Camp NaNo July 2020

NaNoWriMo 2017 — Ally Aldridge

Now you can PreOrder Ocean Heart!

Behind the Character: Kiely