Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Book Review: An Unknown Woman by Jane Davis

Good afternoon Bookaholics. I am ill today so have been doing some reading. An Unknown Woman has been on my TBR file for some time. This is not the sort of novel I usually read, but I am glad I picked it up and decided to give it a go.

I enjoyed this novel so much it is difficult for me to know where to start reviewing it. The book starts with a house burning down, and is about the occupants lives after the fire. This is mainly seen through the eyes of Anita, the main character. The reader is taken through all the gamut of emotion as Anita comes to terms with what has happened. In the process she discovers that much of her life was not as it seemed. Anita is a real character and beautifully drawn. I could almost feel her pain at times. The remainder of the characters are also well written and each has his or her own voice.

Davis is an exceptional writer with a unique voice and this comes through in every word. One can see why she has won awards for her work. A book which is both engrossing and enjoyable and I would highly recommend it.

So once again a reminder that I need to expand the range of the books I read. It may take me out of my comfort zone but it helps me to explore the world of reading and writing with new eyes. Why don't you downoad this book and open a whole new world of reading. I think you will be glad you did.

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

See you all back here soon my Bookaholic friends. Until then, keep reading.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

30 Day Book Marketing Challenge and 10 ideas to get you started

Good morning bookaholics, another cracking post for the writers amongst us today. As authors we are always looking for ways to be the word out about our books. Many authors feel like they are going nowhere with sales and others would like to increase their sales. Let's face it. Getting our books into readers hands can be challenging.

So today I am suggesting we all undertake a 30 day marketing challenge. We will all do one thing every day for 30 days to get the word out about our own books. I have given  you 10 ideas to get started and then we will use the power of the crowd to generate more ideas.u

1. Ask bloggers if you can do a guest post. To get you started, the first 10 people who contact me through my website wendyhjones.com will get a guest post on this blog. 

2. Send out a series of tweets about your book. These do not have to be buy my book but can be something interesting about it, or relates to it.

3. Use a different social media platform to get the word out about your book. How about vine? A six second video to tell the world about your books.

4. Do things differently. Download an app called Wordeo. Make a short video about your book, your character, interesting places in your books, anything related, with the cover of your books clearly in view. Share it widely. It's been proven that videos get way more engagement on social media than just words.

5. Get some postcards or bookmarks for your books. When they arrive (or if you already have them) leave them in different places - Drs Surgery, Dentist, hairdressers, art centers, libraries. I've even left some on the table in a car showroom. People sit there and drink coffee while waiting for a service. Plenty time to read about books they might like.

6. Explore Twitter advertising. Make this low cost e.g. £1 a day for as many days as you would like to do this for. You will need 3 tweets and 3 images. You can make images like the one above using a free app called Typorama. The words on the image cannot be more than 20% of the image

7. Look for local Fares and book a stall. This is summer so Britain is heaving with Fares. I am sure it is the same in other countries.

8. Collaborate with other authors to promote each other's books. I have joined with 2 other Scottish Crime Writers to form The Dangerous Dames

9. Contact your local library and ask if they would like you to give an author talk.

10. Do posters of your books and put them up in prominent places.

So a few ideas to get you started. This is where the power of the crowd comes in. Let's help each other out by putting more ideas in the comments below. If you need more ideas then my book Power Packed Book Marketing is crammed with them. 

That's it for now my Bookaholic friends. Let's get this party started and sell more books. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Writing a Short Story

Short stories have a long history starting with the oral traditions of our ancestors. This was taken up by cave painters, and so it continued to the short stories we read today. There are many excellent examples of short stories throughout history. One notable example is the bible and in particular the parables. 

Length is something which is often much debated. It is generally accepted that 1000 - 7500 words can be considered  a short story. If you are submitting to competitions often there is an upper cap at the lower end of the scale. There is a six word short story attributed to Ernest Hemmingway but this may be an urban legend. It is "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn."

Whatever the length, short stories need to have a beginning, a middle and an end. The same as any other piece of writing. Every word in the story counts and must serve to drive the plot/action/story forward. There is no room for extraneous words or rambling thoughts. Unless your story is about someone with Alzheimers perhaps. Even then the rambling thoughts must be tightly crafted. Editing is crucial to remove anything which does not support the story. 

Characters are also important in a short story. Some say that short stories are mainly character driven. The number of characters is crucial. Keep the cast small. This allows for the characters to be properly developed and for the reader to get to know them. Characterization needs to be tight as does the description of the character. Rather than saying she had short pink hair and a strange taste in clothes, how about - She crammed a fedora on to tame her pink hair. 

So why am I discussing short stories on my Bookaholic blog today? The reasons are twofold. Firstly, I have recently published a short story in an anthology - Another Flash in the Pen. I am delighted to be included with many highly talented authors. The stories are eclectic and cover the gamut of genres. If you would like to know more copies are available from Amazon 

The second reason is to provide news of a short story competition which is currently being run by the Association of Christian Writers. Write 1000 words about putting Christian ethos into practical action for 'Today's Good Samaritans' Comp. £3 per entry (£2 for subsequent entries). £40 first prize. Deadline 31 July. Visit ACW Competitons To enter.

If you've never written a short story why not have a go today. The Competiton would be a good place to start. Think about the Good Samaritans you meet every day and craft a story with one person as the hero, one as the victim, and one the protagonist. Or you could really pare it down and use one character only. Whatever you decide. Now is your chance.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Setting Your Book in Time

Good morning Bookaholics. I bring you this post from a sunny Scotland. I'm thinking about writing and reality this morning. This before I've even had my morning cornflakes.

As I write this blog the UK has been to the polls. This was a momentous vote the results of which will have a huge impact on our country, not only now but for many years. Now, before you get worried this is not a political post. Far from it in fact. This is a post about writing.

As writers we always strive for accuracy and to make our books as realistic as possible. We take great care to set the books in context and to give readers a sense of place and time. It is time which I am thinking of and debating in my head today. Do we pin our colours fully to the mast, ensuring accuracy, or do we use some other means to get our point across?

My post so far has been unambiguous. I have not referred to any particular poll. Anyone reading this post today will know exactly what I am talking about. Anyone in the future will get a general sense that something big has happened but it will not be dated. For the purposes of clarity I am talking about the EU Referendum. Now that I have said this I have now given a firm date stamp to my writing. This is necessary for this particular piece.

But, as writers, what do we do in our books? We often write, Johnny was playing with his Xbox, or Susan was watching such and such a movie. This gives a sense of realism and is what gives our book human touches. It also immediately sets the book in a particular time. Obviously, in a historical novel, this is a good thing. There is a difference between historical and dated.

So how do we, as writers, handle this? One way is to use ambiguous writing as I did at the start of this piece. The reader will immediately fill in the blanks and use whatever poll has happened most recently. Another is to use real life examples which are not going to change any time soon. For example using an Apple computer, or Famous Grouse Whiskey. This may be a bit more difficult when talking about technology, especially which youngsters use.

It is an interesting concept. I would be interested in your views on this. All advice will be gratefully received in the comments below.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Book Marketing: Opportunities and Fun

One of the biggest challenges that writers face is what happens once the book comes out. Most creatives have little, or even no, understanding of marketing. However, I have found that opportunities abound if you are willing to look for, and grab, them. Guesting on blogs is once such opportunity. I read a lot of blogs and listen to a lot of podcasts. When bloggers are looking for guests I put myself forward. This involves giving a few topics which are suitable for the blog's approach.  Recently I heard that the Book Marketing Tools blog had opportunities for guest posts. I applied and was successful. I was talking about marketing being fun. You can read the post on the link below

The Book Marketing Tools blog is a superb blog for writers and it is well worth subscribing. 

I have been interviewed or a guest on a number of blogs. I also interview and host others on this blog. This is a good example of collaboration. When writers work together the sum is greater than all the parts. Everyone wins. Another example of collaboration is joint book signings or events. These can go with a bang especially if you also make them fun. This is exactly what another couple of crime writers and I plan to do at an event later in they year. Watch this space for details. 

I bid you adieu my Bookaholic friends. Enjoy life, see you soon.  Until then, keep reading and writing 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

What's up World

My fellow Bookaholics, given my lack of posts recently you may be wondering why I'm starting the blog with hooray. There are several awesome hoorays in the post.

Firstly, Hooray, I've actually managed to carve out some time to write a blog and to do admin. Life has been crazy recently with writing my books taking priority. I have also been on holiday and a couple of writing conferences. Add all that in and blogging feel by the wayside. Not much of an excuse I know. I did plan on writing my blog whilst I was on holiday. However, add the WiFi from hell into the mix and the blog went nowhere. Still, I can rejoice that I am now back on track.

The next Hooray is a huge one. As I said in my previous blog, I have signed a contract for a series of Young Adult Mysteries, The Fergus and Flora Mysteries. The first of these, Dagger's Curse, is with the editor and will be released on September 2016. The cover is currently being designed and I am excited to see it when it arrives. I have enjoyed getting to know Fergus and Flora as they have told me more about themselves. They're cracking characters who live life to the max. No sitting around saying "I'm bored," for them.  When I attempted to create them one way, they firmly refused to comply. Okay then, I'm only the writer, I'll do what I'm told. Writing for young adults is a new experience for me. It has been a challenge but also lots of fun. I have joined SCWBI (pronounced Scoobie) and I am learning a great deal from others. Exciting times for this writer.

The final Hooray is that DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries book 5 is coming along nicely. Shona is once more in the midst of a puzzling case with very few clues as to the identity of the killer. I love these books and enjoy writing them. Even I do not know what Shona will get up to next. Go Shona, don't you let anyone change who you are. 

So life is full on, and I have so much to celebrate. I exhort you to enjoy your life. Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly and make the most of it. What have you been up to recently, either with reading or writing?

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Launch of my first fiction book by Heather Flack

Today on the blog we welcome author Heather Flack whose first novel is launched today under her pen name of Fen Flack. It is an honour to have her join us and tell us a bit more about herself and her book. Heather over to you. 

The early 11th century is perhaps an obscure period of history, so why set a novel then? In 1982 I bought a cottage at Ribbesford on the outskirts of Bewdley, Worcestershire. In researching its history I discovered it had been “seized by the Danes” before the Norman Conquest. Intrigued, I began to read about the trouble times of late Anglo-Saxon England and discovered Edmund Ironside. At school I’d learned about Aethelred the Unready and Cnut (in those days Canute) but not the king in between these two. His story was inspiring and the circumstances of his marriage the stuff of novels. However, back in the ’80s and ’90s I was writing other things and Edmund went “into the freezer”.
I was inspired to write a set of novels set in Ribbesford itself beginning with its seizure by the Danes and ending with Harthacnut’s attack on Worcester in 1041. The themes were getting to know God, racial prejudice, healing and forgiveness. But I couldn’t find a publisher.
After 2000 I became more interested in factual local history. I was living in Kings Norton, Birmingham, at the time its buildings won BBC2’s Restoration 2004 and I wrote the guide books and history of the buildings. I still had a house in Bewdley and was contributing to the history of that town too.

I retired in 2007 and did an M.A. in English Local History. Part of my degree was a project on the early history of Bewdley and I succeeded in pushing back its origins some two hundred years. The paper had all the makings of a book, so I bought some ISBNs and got a local printer to produce it. I had the opportunity of speaking to the Bewdley Civic Society on the subject and sold 70 copies on that occasion. I was a published author!
Through some writing classes I built up a portfolio of stories about my local area. I published these as “Pieces of Wyre”, because all the writing concerned places in the Wyre Forest area (north Worcestershire). I found outlets for sales in the local libraries, tourist information centre and also the new Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster.
A more exciting opportunity emerged in 2012 when I was helping in the local secondary school with a project on medieval Bewdley. I worked with the English teacher to help pupils write fictional letters and wills about our town in that period. I wove their material together with mine to make “Bewdley under the White Rose”, which told the story of our town from 1448 to 1485. 

Late in 2014 I was on a writing course and to my surprise, Edmund Ironside’s story came back into my mind and would not go away. I found I could not rest until I had done more reading and worked out a time line. Some books demand to be written and this was one of those. The text was complete in five months. The timing is perfect, as 1016 is a thousand years since Edmund was King.

You can find out more about Heather and her books on her website and on Amazon

Thank you for joining us Heather. Your book sounds fascinating and I am sure readers will be keen to buy.