Friday, 25 July 2014

Book Review: Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon
by J.R. Burnett

Published: 2014 by J.R. Burnett
Format: ebook
ISBN-13: 9781310206313
As head of the midwest division of Occult Animal Control, Alex Ford doesn't know the meaning of a boring day at work. From exposing dragon fighting rings to trapping pesky unicorns...there's never a dull moment.

As a snow storm rolls into Tulsa, Alex discovers the mangled remains of a Shifter--the likes of which hasn't been seen in the city for nearly two years. Racing against the full moon, Alex must try to save the wolves from themselves. Can he put aside all of his prejudices to protect those he has hated and can his fourlegged partner do the same?

Wolf Moon is a novelette of approximately 11,580 words and is part of the Furred, Feathered, and Fanged series.
I normally read romance, but thought that I would give something a little different a try.

I really enjoyed Wolf Moon and liked the concept of animal control for paranormal creatures. Loved the engaging characters and was drawn into the story by the author's 'voice'. I felt like I was there along with Alex and his companions and could feel the tension building as the story progressed.

Even though this is a novelette it didn't feel like the story was rushed or cut short. Can't wait for the next story in the Furred, Feathered and Fanged series to find out what happens next to Alex and his team.

If you want a well written, quick read and are into paranormal or urban fantasy, then I can recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Five more things I learned at the RNA Conference: self-publishing

On the Saturday afternoon of the conference, Ian Skillicorn gave an excellent talk on epublishing. This was one of the most useful sessions of the weekend and I picked up lots of tips.

  • Photographic covers are more popular for contemporary romance.
  • Use keywords in the book's subtitle.
  • This will help your book get found on Amazon. You should also put your metadata into your Word file (click on file > properties) before it's converted.
  • Have a pricing strategy.
  • Make a list of similar books to yours, where they are in the sales rank and check their prices - what happens to their rank when the price changes.
  • If using Microsoft Word, format your ebook using Word's styles function.
  • Use a 'Heading' style for chapter headers - this makes it easier when you come to compose your table of contents.
  • Your marketing strategy needs to be in place before publication, but don't put links up to your book until it is available.
Thank you to Ian Skillicorn of Corazon Books for his talk on publishing and marketing ebooks.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Five things I learned at the RNA Conference: self-publishing

Last weekend, along with 250 fellow writers, I attended the Romantic Novelists' Association's annual conference. It was a brilliant weekend held at Harper Adams University, near Telford. The food was plentiful and the drinks even more so, but believe it or not as well as all the partying and socialising I did actually learn something (no sniggering at the back).

Over the next few blog posts I'll be looking back at my sketchy notes and picking out some of the things I found particularly useful.

The first lecture I attended was by Talli Roland and Nick Spalding about their experiences with self-publishing.

Photo courtesy of Harper Adams University
  • Publish your novel first, THEN have your marketing push. Have your marketing plan in place but don't start promoting your book until readers can click on a link to buy it.
  • Make sure you have the license to your book's cover image and fonts.
  • I knew about the image, but had wrongly assumed it was okay to use free fonts. Check the license of each font you want to use.
  • Write an exciting blurb.
  • So many of the books I see on Amazon, both traditionally published and self-pubbed have no description. How can a reader make a decision to buy it if they don't know what it's about?
  • Design an eye-catching cover that works as a thumbnail and in black and white.
  • Get your book professionally edited!
Thank you Talli Roland and Nick Spalding for the talk on their reasons behind choosing independent publishing.

On Friday I'll be looking at what I learned from Ian Skillicorn's talk on marketing and self-publishing your ebook.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Book Review: Flight to Coorah Creek

Flight to Coorah Creek
by Janet Gover

Published: March 2014 by Choc Lit
Format: Paperback & ebook
ISBN-13: 9781781890974
What happens when you can fly, but you just can’t hide?

Only Jessica Pearson knows the truth when the press portrays her as the woman who betrayed her lover to escape prosecution. But will her new job flying an outback air ambulance help her sleep at night or atone for a lost life?

Doctor Adam Gilmore touches the lives of his patients, but his own scars mean he can never let a woman touch his heart.

Runaway Ellen Parkes wants to build a safe future for her two children. Without a man—not even one as gentle as Jack North.

In Coorah Creek, a town on the edge of nowhere, you're judged by what you do, not what people say about you. But when the harshest judge is the one you see in the mirror, there's nowhere left to hide.
This story was like revisiting my favourite Aussie medical soap. I used to love Flying Doctors and enjoyed this book just as much. Ms Gover's descriptions of the outback landscape and the realities of carving out a living in the harsh surroundings, draw you into the story straight away. Add a mixture of interesting and engaging characters and you have an enjoyable read that will keep you turning the pages.

I warmed to Jess, the heroine, straight away. The story opens with her at Sydney airport, terrified of anyone noticing her - which makes you have to read on to find out why. She is running as far away from her past as she can get and ends up in Coorah Creek working alongside the equally troubled Dr Adam Gilmore.

It made a refreshing change to have a heroine who is self-sufficient and exceptionally good at her job.

In this story, you get not one romance but two. As well as Jess and Adam's growing relationship, there is the 'will they, won't they' question about whether Ellen and Jack, two of the secondary characters, will get together.

All in all, an excellent holiday read. I give this book 5 out of 5.

Thank you Choc Lit for giving me the opportunity to read it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Sunshine and bluebells

Enjoying the bank holiday sunshine with a walk in the beautiful bluebell woods near Ashridge.

I hope your weekend was as enjoyable.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Book Recommendations

When you've finished a book that you really enjoyed and you want to read something similar, it can be hard to find what you're looking for.

If you're in the UK, your library may have access to Who else Writes Like, but if you can't wait to get to your local library and want a recommendation now, my friend and writing buddy Jules Wake, has made this brilliant infographic.

I've found it really useful in finding new authors. Thanks Jules.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

VS Naipaul’s Advice for Writers

I found this useful advice for beginner writers on the India Uncut blog and thought I'd share it here.
VS Naipaul's Rules for Beginners

1.  Do not write long sentences. A sentence should not have more than ten or twelve words.

2.  Each sentence should make a clear statement. It should add to the statement that went before. A good paragraph is a series of clear, linked statements.

3.  Do not use big words. If your computer tells you that your average word is more than five letters long, there is something wrong. The use of small words compels you to think about what you are writing. Even difficult ideas can be broken down into small words.

4.  Never use words whose meaning you are not sure of. If you break this rule you should look for other work.

5.  The beginner should avoid using adjectives, except those of colour, size and number. Use as few adverbs as possible.

6.  Avoid the abstract. Always go for the concrete.

7.  Every day, for six months at least, practice writing in this way. Small words; short, clear, concrete sentences. It may be awkward, but it’s training you in the use of language. It may even be getting rid of the bad language habits you picked up at the university. You may go beyond these rules after you have thoroughly understood and mastered them.
I'll take rule #1 as more of a guideline, but I especially like rules #2 and #4.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year

“For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.” — T.S. Eliot

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