Reading Challenge: Duet Rubato by Claerie Kavanaugh

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 Duet Rubato by Claerie Kavanaugh . I shortened it for social media.


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

Reading Challenge: Sorceress of Truth by J.D. Groom

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 Sorceress of Truth by J.D. Groom. I shortened it for social media.


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Below are some affiliate links. Check out my Affiliate Disclosure page for more info.

Sky Heart needs Beta Readers!

Yes! I’m pleased to announce that I have finished my first edit of Sky Heart and now need Beta Readers.

Click here for the Beta Readers Sign Up Form.

NB:  Sky Heart doesn’t have an official cover yet.  The image used is my Work In Progress cover.
Beta Readers Wanted – Sky Heart

What is a Beta Reader?

You get to read the full story before anyone else, and can help shape the future version with your feedback.

Tell me if you like a character or not. You can say if a scene is too slow or too fast. Suggest what to cut or add to the story. Basically share your thoughts to help me improve it.

This version has only been edited by me. It will have mistakes. It won’t be as polished as a final version that has been professionally edited.

What type of story is Sky Heart?

Sky Heart is book 2 in The Soul Heart series but has a new main character, Keily.

You can read Sky Heart (book 2) even if you haven’t read Ocean Heart (book 1). It is a complete story, however, it will have some spoilers for book 1 as it assumes you’ve already read it. In addition, it is part of a series so although the main issue is resolved in the story, there are things that will be unresolved as they are dealt with later in the series.

Sky Heart is a YA Contemporary Fantasy. Here is the blurb:

Beta Books

I want to try out a site called Beta Books.

This site enables me to easily share Sky Heart with my Betas. It will also organises any feedback to make it more manageable for me.

Readers can share their feedback as inline comments, at the end of a chapter, and I can even ask readers questions about specific things.

If you want to help me but prefer not to use Beta Books that’s fine. Please still sign up using my Google Form and I’ll consider another option for you.

Sign up

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I’m so pleased you’re interested. Please fill in my Google Form so I can send you details on how to access Sky Heart.

Google Form: Sky Heart Beta Readers sign up

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The following links are affiliate…

July 2021 – Ocean Heart is free on Smashwords in the Summer/Winter Sale

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 Redfae 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.

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Ocean Heart releases tomorrow

Now you can preorder Ocean Heart


Behind the Book: Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten

I’m so happy Ellie agreed to let me interview her as I loved her debut book. There’s a link to my five star review at the end. It’s really exciting to find out what went into making such an amazing book.

I loved Garden in the Sands. It’s not like any book I’ve read before. What genre would you say it is?

It’s interesting that you say that, as Garden in the Sands actually started as a MG fantasy story. When it came to self-publishing, however, I read lots about YA being an easier market to get into. Therefore I re-wrote it, adding Lira’s POV element. Overall I’d say it’s a YA fantasy re-telling.

Despite being set in the desert, it’s very reminiscent of The Secret Garden. Did you plan for it to be like a fantasy version of the classic?

Yes! A re-telling was exactly my aim. I adored Mary in The Secret Garden when I was a child, as she was stroppy and imperfect. She influenced Quil a lot!

There are two MC’s can you give a brief intro to each?

Quil is a human girl born into wealth and privilege that only serves to constrict her. Desperate to gain a shred of attention from her parents, she spent her childhood misbehaving. This led to being frequently sent away from home to learn to become a ‘lady’, something she has no interest in doing. The only ray of light in her life is her main, Sasha.

When she finds herself sent away from the palace and charged with entertaining the sickly prince, she finds she’s not the only one in the world with problems.

Lira was born into greatness too, but as a demi-god this involved learning to wield a sword to prove herself. She rose to the challenge, and when the story starts she is a great heroine. She feels trapped, however, the link to her long dead human mother setting her apart from the other gods. She can’t help but watch the misery of life below in Miran. When a chance arises to break the curse that’s punishing the humans for their king’s crimes, Lira risks all the help them.

Quil learns to garden in the book – are you green thumbed?

I certainly try to be, but it’s a process of trial and error!

Lira is a demi god and fights mythical beasts – did you do a lot of research on this for your novel?

I studied Classics at university, so I’ve loved the mythology of Ancient Greece and Rome for a long time. I knew many of their stories already, but some of the beasts needed some extra research!

Who is your favourite God/Goddess from mythology?

Definitely Athena. She’s so strong and not cowed by any of the males in Olympus. She’s who Lira is based upon.

What can we look forward to from you next?

My next book is and MG adventure fantasy set in Cornwall, where I live.

Where can we go to discover more about you and your books?

Instagram (@ellie_mitten) is where I like to connect with other writers and reads 🙂

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


We went Live for Indie Author Week UK

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

Joining me live was:

💛 Romantic Suspense author Cassidy Reyne:

💛 Worldbuilding & World Destroying author Angeline Trevena:

💛 Contemporary Fantasy author J D Groom (Jodie):

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

Were there any bloopers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my Instagram pics introducing each of my guests:

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

Indie Author Week UK

To find out more about Indie Author Week UK, please visit their Facebook page:

They have a ton of incredible events going on. If you can’t make a live, look out for the replay.


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It’s Indie Author Week UK 2021

It’s Indie Author Week UK

I’m really excited to be involved in this event, especially as so many incredible indie authors are taking part. This year, I’m one of those authors.

What am I doing?

I am streaming live to my YouTube channel. Join me on Tues, 15 June at 8pm (GMT+1), where I will be joined by these awesome Indie Authors to chat about why we love being Indie.

The line up includes:

💛 Romantic Suspense author Cassidy Reyne:

💛 Worldbuilding & World Destroying author Angeline Trevena:

💛 Contemporary Fantasy author J D Groom (Jodie):

💛 And, of course myself, Ally Aldridge:

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:

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:

They have a ton of incredible events going on. If you can’t make a live, look out for the replay.


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The Story Seller Academy by Pagan Malcolm

Last year I was the lucky winner of a place on Pagan Malcolm’s course, Story Seller Academy.

This course came at the perfect time for me. I’d recently decided I wanted to self publish my book and the course is perfect for that. This course is all about publishing and marketing your book.


The first module is on mindset and although it sounds a bit hippie, this one is vital. I had previously caught some of Pagan’s free taster sessions on Facebook. Those samples had already empowered me, so doing the full module was next level.

Launching my book was new and scary, and self doubt was already caressing me with her familiar fingers. This module helped me get my head back on track, and to catch self doubt in her tracks before she got her nails into me.

The course covers everything you need to do and consider when self publishing a book. It’s like having someone hold your hand through the process.

Not only that, but there are modules to cover what to do after you publish and other income streams to consider.

There are masterclasses with tips and walkthroughs on how to do a wide range of things. Pagan shares her own personal experiences, including mistakes she has made so you don’t have to.


The course content is shared using videos of Pagan delivering presentations. These are timestamped so if you need to jump to a certain section you can.

Pagan also shares resources to support the content like ideas content ideas for your book launch on social media.


This is a self paced course which means you can study when you want and consume as much content as you like. This was ideal for me because when I gained accessed I didn’t have time. When I did have time, it was all there waiting for me to indulge.

Pagan allows forever access so I can log in and revisit content whenever I need a refresher. She also updates content and adds bonus material. It’s like the course that keeps on giving.


This course has been a real benefit to me and I would recommend it. The flexibility is exactly what I needed to work around my other commitments.

Pagan is a great teacher and really approachable. She was genuinely interested in how I got on with her course as she is continuously improving what she does.

I’m confident her courses will only get better and better over time.

Discover more about Pagan Malcolm by visiting her website:

Although I won a place on this course, I was not required to write a review. I was compelled to write this review to help my blog readers discover this awesome course.

Here are some affiliate links to buy her books:


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Different self publishing platforms

Once I decided to self publish one of the first minefields I had to navigate was which platform to use.

Terms used:

  • Print on Demand – The market only buys what they need as they need it.
  • Aggregator – Distributes electronic or physical products to market on your behalf.
  • Format – eBook, paperback, hardback, etc
  • Free ISBN – There is no initial fee for the ISBN, however, but the ‘printer’ becomes your publisher and can set restrictions.
  • Own ISBN – You provide your own ISBN. In the UK you buy these from Neilsen.
  • Wide: This is when the book is made available to many sellers, for example bookshops and libraries.

Here is a little summary on the most popular choices. Research their current terms thoroughly as they may have changed or I may have misunderstood what I found out. 😅

Here are some of the more popular choices in more detail:

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

At first, I didn’t go with KDP as I thought it meant I would be exclusive to Amazon and I wanted to go wide. , Turns out I thinking of their other service Amazon KDP Select. The name is very similar.

KDP allows you to self publish an ebook and/or a paperback (hardback is coming soon).

You can publish KDP wide. Amazon is a giant in the book selling market place, so it makes sense you’d want your book on their site. However, many bookstores won’t stock Amazon books because they are their biggest competitor. If you want to be in bookshops and libraries it’s best to not to go wide with KDP and choose an aggregator like Ingram. You can publish with KDP & not select the wide option.

The links below are affiliate links. You can learn more about these on my affiliate disclosure page.

Amazon KDP Select

Select is when you agree your book is exclusive to Amazon. This does grant you certain benefits. Your book is on kindle unlimited, you get extra promotions, and can offer your book for free.

If you choose this route, you cannot publish your book anywhere else.

Ingram Sparks

This is who I went with. Ingram Sparks are a print on demand service and aggregator. You can do print, ebook, and hardbacks. In fact Ingram has a huge choice of print options.

You publish your book through Ingram and they distribute it to stores like Amazon, high street bookshops, B&N, Kobo, etc. This is often called publishing wide because your book can be sold nearly anywhere. A benefit of Ingram is it can be stocked in libraries like a traditionally published book.

Libraries and bookstores must order your book to stock it. Customers will either request it or you’ll need to approach them to get it stocked. It’s unlikely it will get stocked without any demand. However many online shops will list your book so customers can order it (POD).


They started out as an eBook aggregator for self publishers, but now also do physical print books.

You can use their ISBN for free and they take a cut from your royalties. You cannot use this ISBN on other sites as it belongs to D2D making them the publisher. Or, you can provide your own ISBN and keep all your royalties.

D2D will publish your book wide. A benefit of D2D is you can select or unselect which sellers you want your book to be available to.


They are an eBook Aggregator and store. You can upload your book to Smashwords for them to distribute, but they also enable readers to buy directly from their site too and reward you with 80% royalty. That’s an impressive royalty!

Smashwords allow exclusive deals for eBooks and hold events to promote their authors books like reading challenges.

You can use your own ISBN or they can provide one for free.


They are an eBook & print Aggregator. They have lots of options for paperback, hardback, comics, magazines, etc.

Lulu will distribute your book wide, sell your book from their own shop, and have an app that allows you to sell from your own website. That last option makes me wish I went with Lulu!

You can use your own ISBN or they can provide one for free.

Barnes & Noble

You can publish directly with B&N. I’ve not tried it but I’ve heard authors talk very positively about the quality of their hardback books.

B&N can make your book available in their store and on Kobo. Unlike Amazon Select, they won’t restrict you from publishing your book elsewhere.

Aggregators like Ingram, D2D, and Lulu, can make books available to B&N. I think authors go direct with B&N for their hardback option.

You can use your own ISBN or they can provide one for free.

Apple Books

This is the ebook store for Apple users. Ingram, Smashwords, Lulu and D2D can publish here for you too.

If you have a Mac, you can upload your book directly using their personal book publishing site. They now have a webpage to enable PC users to upload too.

I tried to publish to Apple via Ingram. Unfortunately Apple said my eBook file was too big and rejected my novel.

To fix this, I have attempted to publish directly with them. But, I’m having issues with their webpages. There tech & developer team have been very responsible, it might be just some bugs with the new PC publishing portal – I don’t have a Mac.

A benefit of being on Apple Books is that they are a very popular choice for eBooks by iPhone/iPad readers.

You can use your own ISBN or they can provide one for free.

Google Play

This is the Android store and allows users to buy and download eBooks. Ingram, Smashwords, Lulu and D2D can publish here for you too.

A benefit of Google Play is that most people without an iPhone have an Android phone, making it another popular choice for eBook downloads.

The benefit of being on Google Play is that Google is one of the largest search engines and by having your book listed in their store (even as just a preview), can boost your discoverability.

I have recently added Ocean Heart and the only issue I’ve had is confirming my bank account. They pay a small amount into your bank to check it’s you. You confirm the amount received, except Google is saying they paid a different amount to the amount I got.

Private Printer

You could find a private printer to produce your book for you. You’d likely need to buy a bulk of books to distribute yourself.

Vanity Press

This isn’t self publishing. It often gets confused because the author has paid to publish like an indie author. The difference is the publisher bills the author for the services needed, and the services are provided by the publisher. The author cannot use services by another provider.

The positives is all the services are in one place and your publisher guides you on what service you need and when. Sometimes services are quicker or at a reduced rate as its all in-house.

The cons are that a lot of scammers have used this model to over charge authors or to take money and never deliver on their promises. As you are locked into paying for the services they dictate and the choices the want for your book, you do lose some of your creative freedom.

It’s important to check how long they have been operating and who they have worked with before. See if they are black listed on Writers Beware.

What I did…

I published my ebook & paperback through Ingram. The quality has been good and I like having everything in one place.

Amazon had long delivery dates for my book, telling preorder customers it’d take 6 weeks to deliver. It didn’t but it was off putting. I don’t know if this was to exceed expectations or what. Other authors told me to get my book on KDP, which I finally have done. I was hesitant as I didn’t want to be restricted to only Amazon or use another ISBN, but you can use the ISBN already in use for your paperback.

My books did get listed for a number of ebook sellers but not GPlay or Apple. I’ve had to go to through them direct. I’d say Google has been the easiest to use, except the verification of my bank.

For my next book I think I’ll use Ingram Sparks to publish my paperback wide, KDP to reduce Amazon deliver delays, and someone else to publish my eBook wide. I’ll also take a closer look at LuLu as that app sounds awesome!


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About Ocean Heart

Ocean Heart was free on Google Play…

Did you miss it?

Ocean Heart was free on #GooglePlay during the first week of May. If you missed the deal, there’s still a chance to get it!

For the rest of May, my followers on Ko-Fi can still get Ocean Heart for FREE! It’s Free to follow me Redfae on Ko-Fi and by following me you can make sure you don’t miss out on future freebies that get posted there. 😍

Also, don’t forget to checkout my Giveaway on Instagram. Entry is super easy. Also, FREE to enter!


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