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]

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.

More on Blessed Darkness by Elexis Bell

Did you see my previous post about Elexis Bell’s imminent release?

As a fan of her writing, I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss out on the giveaway ending 24 Feb and I wanted a chance to share more about Blessed Darkness.

Filled with grit and magic, this literary romantic fantasy will take you on a ride. A Blessed Darkness by @elexis_bell is out NOW! Get started on it today ➞ https://amzn.to/3HPvzq9⁣

A Blessed Darkness
Elexis Bell
Publication date: February 22nd 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

A dark connection. A deadly responsibility.

Sparks fly when Elairie, a mixed-blood elf living on the edge of society and serving as a night guard, meets her latest prisoner. Strange auras surround them, and a magical gravity draws her to him, despite what her associates might say about his race. But the connection they share comes with a dark side.

When Beluroan learns that he and his guard are Blessed Ones, hand-crafted by the Gods to stop a madman from recreating the Blood Magic of old, his veins run cold. Threatened with a return to the magical slavery such magic commands, fear grips him, and memories of his childhood Master fill his mind.

But together, their potential power frightens even the Gods. Can they overcome the prejudices marring their land and master their new magic in time to stop the man trying to enslave their country? Or will they succumb to their own power?

Filled with grit and magic, this literary romantic fantasy will take you on a ride.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Author Bio:

I’m a nerd with a lot of hobbies and enough sarcasm and swear words to make a sailor blush, though, you’ll never hear a word of it if I’m not comfortable around you. I’ve been an introvert since birth. When I’m writing, though, words come easily.

At the end of the day, I just want to write stories that make people feel something.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Newsletter


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Meet the main characters:

𝑩𝒆𝒍𝒖𝒓𝒐𝒂𝒏⁠
His life has been… difficult. To say the least.⁠

Born a slave to the Blood Magic, serving an especially brutal Master, he has a lot of scars, both physical and emotional. The worst of those scars come from the night that brought him freedom but stole his parents’ lives… and almost his.

As a Blood Elf (formerly known as Fox Elves), he’s tolerated in small doses in society. Blamed for the Blood Magic and the atrocities it wrought during its reign, mistrusted because maybe there’s still a Master out there controlling them all, he’s often denied the means of earning an honest living.⁠

Even his Earth Magic, useful in construction and farming, only gets him so far. He earns less than Light Elves and often resorts to theft in order to provide for himself, his sister, and her two children.⁠

Meeting someone, let alone having a family of his own, hasn’t really been possible. Scrounging a living, stealing food, and hiding from Guards doesn’t allow much time for dating, and anyway, how could he hope to help provide for them when feeding his nephews is already a struggle?⁠

But when he gets thrown in jail for his thievery, he accidentally meets someone he could never dream of walking away from.⁠

Elairie and Beluroan are inescapably linked, created as one entity then split into two for the mortal realm because their united powers are too much for any one mortal to control.⁠

But the gift of their bond has a cost, a destiny written in blood.⁠

Blood Magic, that is.⁠

𝑬𝒍𝒂𝒊𝒓𝒊𝒆⁠
She’s unusual in her village. Of mixed blood, she has attributes of Light Elves and Fox (aka Blood) Elves.⁠

All thanks to a Blood Elf rapist taking a liking to her Light Elf grandmother during what came to be known as the Blood War. Given all the prejudices that carried over from the war, her mixed blood means she lives on the edge of society.⁠

She’s not completely ostracized. She even has a decent paying job, but it’s one that keeps her on the fringes of society. As the night guard at the local jail, most everything in her village happens while she’s asleep.⁠

Not that she minds. Interacting with other people is often exhausting, also thanks to her mixed blood. From one conversation to another, she has to gauge whether to fade into the background or let herself be seen depending on who’s around, and she’s gotten good at reading a room.⁠

Of course, her Aura Magic helps with that, too.⁠

She lives with her mother, having lost her father to the Blood War and her grandmother to old age. Though she’s not opposed to the idea of finding a partner, especially now that she’s in her early twenties and most everyone else her age has partnered up, no one has ever drawn her in.⁠

Until now.⁠

Until Beluroan.⁠

Until they meet, and sparks fly. Literally. In a strange, shared aura that burns and jolts around them.⁠

But neither of them know the truth of their bond. Or the sacrifices it may require.⁠

Excerpt 2

I spur my feet to action, dragging myself into the room. Again, my heart falters at the sight of him, at the strange familiarity of him. I barely keep my jaw from falling open.

Leaning back, propped up on one elbow, he sits with one foot drawn up to the edge of the cot. Oh so casually, he examines his nails. His vest gapes, falling open to the side, and his shirt clings to him.

Gods…

But realization dawns on me.

He’s messing with me.

His chest rises with a deep breath, and he glances up, rewarding me with a coy smile and confirming my suspicions. I balance the tray in the only horizontal opening in the bars. Without a word, he gets up and slinks toward me with an almost feline grace.

He takes the tray gently and sits back down on his cot.

Settling in at the desk, I take a long drink of the cool water. We eat silently, and I’m thankful for the time it affords me to calm my nerves. But I glance at him too many times as I eat.

And more often than not, his eyes linger on me.

He eats slowly, controlling his pace. But it makes me wonder.

Does he not usually get this much food in one meal?

My heart clenches, though I’m sure he’d bristle at the pity.

Then, it hits me, as if all the stone and earth Luxitore ever created were falling down upon me, as if Jemarie were taking all the wind from my lungs…

Does he have a family?

No necklace of eternal bonds peeks out from the open neckline of his shirt, but given the scar on his chest, it may have broken when the magic hit him. My stomach plummets, and I tell myself it’s only out of concern for his possible family. With him here, they may not have food.

It isn’t because he’s attractive. It’s because his family might be starving.

But I know better. It’s both. The two concerns mix, curdling in my stomach.

I finish my food shortly after Beluroan. Gathering my tray and cup, I move to take his. “Would you like more food or water?”

The simple question surprises him. After a moment’s hesitation, he says, “Just some water, please.”

Has no one ever shown him simple kindness?

The lightning scar glares up at me in answer, making my own upbringing seem privileged. People turned their backs on me all the time, but no one turned their magic on me.

He hands me the tray, then drains the remainder of his water in one long pull. My eyes linger on his neck, but I force myself to look away. Reaching through the bars, he passes me the cup. Our fingers brush, and gentle warmth flows between us. His hand lingers, and my breath hitches. Swallowing, I pull away.

But I still feel his touch.

Heat rushes to my face, and he drops his gaze quickly.

I dart from the room, tripping over myself to get to the relative safety of the cold storage, or even just out of this room. I barely notice when I bump into the desk in the front lobby.

I rush down the stairs and drop everything on the table in the corner. My hands shake, sloshing a few drops of water over the rim of Beluroan’s cup as I refill it.

I need to get myself under control.

What is this?

Blessed Darkness by Elexis Bell

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Book format and buying options…

Buy it!

There are tons of ways to own your very own copy of Ocean Heart. Check out my webpage About Ocean Heart for full details, but here are a few:

Some of these links are affiliate links. Please visit my about Affiliate Links page for more details.

Signed Copy

You can buy a signed copy of Ocean Heart from Ko-Fi, and there are two options:

Personalised & Hand Signed

This is limited to the UK due to postage costs. First, I order the book, sign it, and then send to you. If you’d like a personalised message for you or someone special, I can do this.

This was the method used for the first 20 copies of Ocean Heart bought during my book signing event at Stillwater Books.

Now, you can get a hand signed copy by supporting me on Ko-Fi & visiting my Ko-Fi Shop.

Personalise & Digitally Signed

This is limited to countries with an Ingram printing facility. I will design a personalised page for you, that will be added to the book when printed. Ingram then will send out directly to you (saving on international postage costs/emissions).

Currently there is only one copy of Ocean Heart like this that I gifted to a TikToker.

Now, you can get a digitally signed copy by supporting me on Ko-Fi & visiting my Ko-Fi Shop.

Paperback

Bookshop.org

I recently blogged a ton of reasons to shop with Bookshop.org but the main one is to support your local independent bookshop.

Amazon

Amazon encourages shoppers to leave product reviews, helping consumers to make more informed decisions.

If you are not UK/US, try this universal link to find Ocean Heart at your local Zon: http://getbook.at/OceanHeart

eBook

Smashwords

The great thing about Smashwords is you can buy your eBook and choose the format, enabling you to read on whatever device is your favourite. In addition your eBook is saved to your Smashwords library, so you keep it forever.

Amazon

Kindle is one of the most popular eReaders both as a tablet and app.

If Smashwords and Amazon aren’t your thing, you can get Ocean Heart from many other popular eBook stores. Click this link to discover more eBook buying options: https://books2read.com/OceanHeart

[kofi]

If you have enjoyed this, you’ll like:

About Ocean Heart

A Little Trip to the Library

Ocean Heart was free on Google Play

Happy MerMay 2021

Why you should shop at Bookshop.org

This post will contain affiliate links. You can learn more about these on my Affiliate Disclosure page.

There are tons of good reasons to support bookshop.org which was why I created an affiliate account with them. But, I strongly believe you shouldn’t recommend something you have not tried yourself. So…

What a good excuse to go book shopping!

Joy’s Summer Love Playlist by Piper Bee

I won some book merchandise in an Instagram giveaway from this author. I then felt compelled to buy the matching book. How could I not?

Ordering was super simple. I searched Bookshop.org, found Joy’s Summer Love Playlist, added it to my basket, and checked out like I would any other online store.

The only extra step was choosing which bookshop to support. Bookshop.org gives the sale to independent bookshops. I choose my local bookshop, Stillwater Books, to support my local high street.

My book arrived in a cardboard book mail envelope – exactly like Amazon would.

Red Wolf by Rachel Vincent

Just to be sure that my first buy wasn’t a fluke, I had to buy another book – a great excuse to preorder my all time favourite authors latest release!

@redfae7

#favouriteauthor #newrelease #bookmail #redwolf #yafantasy #yafiction #fairytaleretelling #redridinghood #bookshoporg #bookshop #hardback #unboxing

♬ Wolves #1 – Selena Gomez

Again, my order came packed perfectly. No damage. No issues. And, so incredibly gorgeous.

More reasons to shop with Bookshop.org

Supporting Independent Bookshops

Bookshop.org support local bookstores by creating an easy to use online store to rival Amazon. I’ve nothing against Amazon but I don’t want to see independent bookshops wiped from the high street because they can’t compete with Goliath. Thanks to Bookshop.org the battle field is more even, giving consumers more choice.

Bookstores can earn commission for supporting Bookshop.org. They get 30% if a buyer uses their affiliate link. In addition 10% from sales goes into a kitty that is shared between all bookstores in the program, so they can make money even if they didn’t make a sale!

Bookshop.org will tell customers about upcoming events and book deals at their favourite store, and give the store your email so they can keep in touch to with their newsletter.

Bookshop.org do all the leg work for the sale. Books are distributed by Gardners, and they promise to keep deliveries Carbon Neutral.

Bookshop.org can connect people with their local bookshop. I expect you know where yours is. But, if you’re on holiday in the UK, use their map to find when the nearest independent bookstore is.

They have an awesome affiliate program!

You may have seen my Affiliate links on my site. One of the affiliate programs I’ve joined is Bookshop.org

My own Bookshop

It’s only virtual but to have my own bookshop is a dream come true. Okay, it’s not a real bookshop, it’s an affiliate shop, but I get to pick the books to go on my “shelves” aka lists.

Check out Redfae Bookshop

Book List Recommendations

Not only can you share links to your books, but you can create book lists to recommend a collection of books.

Here’s a Book List I created for my Redfae bookshop.org to showcase indie books. I definitely should be using this feature more!

Anything else…

Bookshop.org accept National Book Tokens. If you got one as a gift, add it to your account and spend it.

Any issues…

Well, the only problems I’ve had are that I can only create affiliate links for the UK Bookshop.org. I’ve applied for a US account too but they’ve not approved me, so, I think it is restricted to my own country.

They also don’t have book reviews or ratings. I like readings reviews as they help me decide if a book is right for me.

I’ve not yet made any money from it but I’m not bothered about that as I see it as a free tool to embed books in my website that is aesthetically pleasing.

These things are very minor and don’t put me off using or recommending Bookshop.org . And, maybe one day in the future they will have those features or it’ll become an income venue for me.

Final thoughts…

You should look at getting a Bookshop.org account if you recommend books for others to read. I love it, the ethics, and how easy it is to use.

If you are thinking of buying a product using an affiliate link, you should because it costs you nothing extra. It just helps out the person making the recommendation, and in this case it also helps independent bookshops.

Also, buy Ocean Heart by Ally Aldridge. 😜

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this you will like:

About Ocean Heart

How to fund your creativity?

My Process – How to publish a book

Different self publishing platforms

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]

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12 Tips for Self Editing

My Process – How to Publish a Book

Different self publishing platforms

Writing Progress – January 2020

Summer Reading Challenge

I really enjoyed the summer reading challenge by World Indie Warriors. And, I loved the review author J.D. Groom posted on Instagram for Ocean Heart.

I had read quite a few of the books in the challenge already so I created Instagram posts to share my review on the platform.

Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne (romantic suspense)

Brave New Girl by Grace Herbst (YA Contemporary)

Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S. Weaver (epic fantasy)

Sorceress of Truth by J.D. Groom (contemporary fantasy)

Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron (fantasy romance)

Duet Rubato by Claerie Kavanaugh (LGBTQ romance)

Red Blood by Kaitlyn Legaspi (YA Fantasy)

I also wanted to read some new books for the challenge and read The Mirror Souls and Blind Date.

The Mirror Souls by Julia Scott

Blind Date by Debbie Ioanna

I finished the month still reading Fate of the Blue Moon by H.B. Lyne and A Choice of Essence by Katelyn Uhrich. Hopefully, I’ll have their reviews in a few weeks.

I’m pleased that I managed to post nine indie book reviews to Instagram for the Challenge.

But, I didn’t stop there. I created blog posts, Vero posts, Instagram Stories, TikToks & YouTube shorts. And, then shared them all to Pinterest.

Below are some affiliate links, you can learn more about these on my Affiliate Disclosure Page.

If you also enjoy supporting indie authors, check out my collection of Must Read Indie Books on bookshop.org:

[kofi]

Book Review: Dear Diary by Kevia Dauphiney

Dear Diary Book Review
Dear Diary Blurb

I met the author on IG and loved her posts. She’s very open and honest about being a writer & a mother. Her posts made me laugh out loud, more than once.

When she announced she was looking for ARC readers for her novel Dear Diary I was on board. It knew it was going to be brilliant and Kevia didn’t disappoint!

Setting

The book is set in today’s world. The MC lives in America with her husband and kids.

Main Character

The main character is an overwhelmed mother of four kids. She’s a strong Christian (or at least tries to be) and she home schools. The diary is her ramblings as she off loads all the drama placed on her shoulders.

Review

This story is an easy read. Many mother’s would be able to relate to the drama that unfolds in the diary entries. It felt like I was reading a real diary. The way it’s told made me laugh out loud.

I gave it 5 stars although I wished some diary entries had been shorter as my little ones interrupts me a lot. But, it’s easy to get into and I’d definitely recommend it.

This should be a staple gift at every baby shower to really prepare new mums of what to expect in an entertaining way.

[kofi]

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Making his YouTube Dream come true!

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How I got my son pedalling first time!

Below are some affiliate links. You can discover more about these on my Affiliate Disclosure page.

Reading Challenge: Blind Date by Debbie

About the challenge

The challenge was set by World Indie Warriors on Instagram. They created three #WIWBingo boards; YA, Romance, and Fantasy.

The aim is to read and review the books on Instagram and tag @worldindiewarriors

The goal is to get three in a line, and help indie books get seen.

I’m doing the challenge. I’ve already read some of the books on the board so I’ll be reposting them this month, and I’m hoping to read some new one too.

The Book Review

Here is my post of my old review for Blind Date by Debbie Ioanna. I shortened it for social media.

[kofi]

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Book Review: The Practice Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin

Book Review: Out of my League by Sarah Sutton

Book Review: Lions Share by Rachel Vincent

World Indie Warriors Brochure

Below are some affiliate links. To learn more about these please visit my Affiliate Disclosure Page.

Reading Challenge: Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

About the challenge

The challenge was set by World Indie Warriors on Instagram. They created three #WIWBingo boards; YA, Romance, and Fantasy.

The aim is to read and review the books on Instagram and tag @worldindiewarriors

The goal is to get three in a line, and help indie books get seen.

I’m doing the challenge. I’ve already read some of the books on the board so I’ll be reposting them this month, and I’m hoping to read some new one too.

The Book Review

Here is my post of my old review for Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron. I shortened it for social media.

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Behind the Book: Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

Behind the Book: Sam’s Story by Nicola Hebron

Behind the Book: Chasing Sunrise by Emily Mah

Book Review: Red Blood – Card Holders by Kaitlyn Legaspi

[kofi]

Below are some affiliate links. To learn more about these, please visit my Affiliate Disclosure page.