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.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Book Review: Mission at Nuremberg by Tim Townsend

                                                         

A different type of book for you today Bookaholics. I will let the review speak for itself.

Mission at Nuremberg covers an aspect of war which is rarely discussed or even considered. The spiritual needs of War Criminals. It tells the story of Henry Gerecke an incredible man of faith who was called to do a job no one would envy. This was ministering to the the Nazi War Criminals who were waiting for execution. Henry could have turned the post down but he wanted to be obedient to the calling of f God. Many may query how he could do this job, but he did what God asked of him and reached out to these men. These men were men who were close to Hitler, including Hermann Goering.

This is not an easy read. There are a lot of facts and Christianity is discussed extensively. I found this to be a necessary part of the narrative, as the book would not be complete without it. To understand how Gerecke could do such a job, one first needs to understand his faith. Townsend does a good job of discussing this in a way which supports the book and yet allows for questioning.

This is a book which I feel all Christians would want to read. In fact many non-Christians may want to read it. It is difficult to say enjoy, but they would certainly find they would engage with it on a number of levels. Tim Townsend has certainly done Gerecke and his task justice. The book is eminently readable and one can follow the narrative and the discussions easily. It is a book which I would highly recommend.

As I say, a different book today bookaholics. However, I always promised you an eclectic reading experience. You can buy the book by clicking on the links below. 

     

I was given a copy of this book from the publishers for review purposes. I was not, at any point, asked to provide a positive review. My review is based on my reading of the book. 

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Life and New Beginnings


Good morning my Bookaholic friends, and a beautiful morning it is too. The sun is shining in Bonnie Dundee and I am going to spend the day reading. I want to start by apologising for the lack of blogs recently. Life has been frantically busy. I hope you will forgive me when you find out why.

Firstly I have been doing the final edits to KIller's Cut. I am excited about this book and I absolutely love the cover. I am sure you will agree that Cathy Helms of Avalon graphics has done a cracking job. As with all my books the bottom picture is of Dundee where the books are set. The top picture is indicative of the theme of the book. This will be released on 18th April at 6.30 pm in Waterstones, Dundee. Dundee in Scotland that is. If you are nearby then you are more than welcome to come along and help the book to get off to an explosive and fun filled start. 

I have also been all over the country giving talks, attending conferences and even a few days holiday. During this holiday I even managed to spend time in a Jail. Before everyone thinks I am some sort of criminal mastermind, it was a tourist attraction. Inveraray Jail. So I am sure you can see that I haven't had a second to think about blogging. 

So on to those new beginnings. As a crime writer I am usually thinking about endings - ending someones life. But April is a month of new beginnings for me. It's spring and that always makes me think about new life. My first new beginning is this blog. I will be back to bringing it out more regularly. That;s my promise to you. Another new beginning is the next book in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. I have already started this and am enjoying spending more time with Shona and her disparate team. I love these books and it is truly a pleasure to write them. The final new beginning is that I have signed a publishing contract to write a series of mystery books for Young Adults. These will be called the Fergus and Flora Mysteries, and they will also be set in Dundee. I am thrilled to be writing these and look forward to writing Young Adult books. 

So, as you can see it has been an exciting few months for this author and Bookaholic. What new beginnings have you had in your life recently? I am sure there are many. It would be great if you could share some of these in the comments below. 

Now, I am off to do some reading. I will be finishing off a cracking mystery and starting a biography. I certainly have eclectic tastes in reading. That's it for now Bookaholics. See you all back here soon. 



Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Your Guide to Selling More Books



It has been an exciting time in this authors life recently. On Saturday, I gave a talk at the ACW Writers Day in Bath. This was on Book Marketing. I had a blast and it was lovely to meet and support so many new writers. 

I had the idea to write a book to accompany the talk and Power Packed Book Marketing: Sell More Books, was born and launched into the world.  I learned a lot about marketing whilst researching for the book and it has helped me to move my marketing forward. It is jam packed full with hints and tips on how to develop your own marketing strategies. You can use the ideas in the book as they are, or use them as a springboard for your own ideas. Either way it will help you to get started with, or move forward the marketing of your book. I have used most of the strategies in the book and I can guarantee that they have worked for me. My books are selling well in several countries and are growing every month. As I say, exciting times for a writer.

You can grab the book right now from Amazon by clicking on the link on the side of the blog. This is the time for you to develop your own Power Packed Marketing plan and sell more books.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Book Review: A Parallel Trust by James Stoddah



Firstly please accept my apologies for the lack of blog posts this year. I have been head down writing and editing, so perhaps you will forgive me. I am back in the drivers seat now and ready to catch up. Today I bring you a review of a brilliant book by new author, to me, James Stoddah.

The book starts of with the story of 17 year old Aril who is sent a geocaching puzzle to solve. He sets off on his new motorbike to solve the puzzle. Each time he solves it he is given another clue. This part of the book itself is thrilling but about a third of the way through, a shocking twist takes the game off in a more deadly direction. The tension is ramped up and the action never stops. The book is well written with a tight plot and believable characters. I love the way the characters interact and are realistic in the way they are portrayed. I do not read YA books but the plot of this one appealed to me.

Stoddah is an excellent writer and he uses words to brilliant effect. The surprises never stop coming, almost up to the last page. I was genuinely sad when the book finished as I wanted to keep reading.


This is the first book I have read by this author. I am now off to download his other one. This is a book, and and author I can highly recommend.


    


That's it for another day. This is a book I recommend you download now as it is so good. The links above will take you to Amazon UK and Amazon USA. I will earn a small affiliate fee if you use these links.

See you all back here soon my Bookaholic friends with a review of another great book. Until then keep reading or writing

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

So You Want to Host a Podcast: Part 2 - The Nuts and Bolts


Today on Bookaholics we continue with the second part of the excellent article on podcasting by Andrew Chamberlain. I listen to Andrew's podcast on writing - The Creative Writers Toolbelt. I can assure you he knows what he is talking about. The link to the podcast is at the bottom of the page. If you didn't read the first part of the article here is the link



So how do you launch a podcast? In this blog I want to take you through the technical aspects of setting up a podcast, from planning to recording and releasing you work.

1.     Preparing to host a podcast
Once you have thought about why you want to create a podcast and what you want to say, you can move on to the issue of how you are going to make your podcast a reality. Here are some questions to think about:
-       Where are you going to record your podcast, and what equipment will you need? You’ll need to find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted and you can speak.  Then you’ll need a computer (PC or Mac), some recording software, and a microphone.  For recording software I’d recommend Audacity (www.audacityteam.org). Also, get the best microphone you can because sound quality really does matter with podcasts. For interviews I recommend using Skype, and Free Skype Call recorder software (www.voipcallrecording.com )
-       How will start and end your podcast?  Do you want to use a jingle? If you want to use some music you’ll need to create some or buy the rights to some. At the start of each podcast you should introduce yourself, and say what the podcast is about.

2.     Recording, editing, and saving a podcast


-       Plug your microphone into your PC/Mac and turn it on, ensuring your machine ‘recognises’ the microphone.
-       Open your recording software
-       Make sure the input and output devices are set to whatever you are choosing to use,
-       Press the record button and start speaking! Just a few words to start with.
-       Experiment with your microphone, where it’s placed, how you speak, and sound levels.
-       When you’re all done, record your podcast and then save a copy
-       With that copy you can now start the process of editing, clipping out all of the “ums” and “ahs” as well as any gaps or external noises. In my experience you should allow three to five minutes for each minute of finished podcast material.
-       Once you have your recording polished and as good as you can get it, save it as an MP3 file.

3.     Releasing a podcast

-       Once your podcast is recorded, choose a podcast host. Their main function is to ‘host’ episodes of your podcast on their servers. They will also provide an interface on the internet for people to download and listen to your podcast. I use a company called Podomatic, but there’s also others: Libsyn, Archive.org, Ourmedia.org, and Podbean. They will charge you for this service.
-       You will also need to create some artwork for an image to accompany your podcast. This is a square, 1400 x 1400 pixel image, representing your podcast.
-       Your podcast host will give you a web address for your podcast, and an RSS feed. This is the link that you have to give to a podcast client or pod catcher.  Their primary function is to promote your podcast and allow people to download it. The best example of this is iTunes, but there are others, their service is free and you can link to more than one.
-       Once your podcast is hosted, and the RSS feed is linked to one or more podcast clients, your podcast host should be able to provide you with stats for the number of interactions with your podcast, these could be plays, likes, or downloads.
And there you have it, your podcast is launched and out there!
The most important piece of advice is: podcasting is a marathon not a sprint. Before you start, think carefully about what a sustainable plan looks like for you, both in terms of content and consistency of production.
Good luck!


Andrew Chamberlain (www.andrewjchamberlain.com) is a writer and creative writing tutor. He is the host of “The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt”, a podcast that gives practical, accessible advice as well as occasional interviews with writers, editors, and other artists. You can reach the podcast on iTunes here.

Friday, 25 December 2015

The First Year as a Published Author


It's Christmas day and 2015 is fast coming to an end. This is a time when thoughts turn to the year past and what the new year will bring. Today's blog will be given over to introspection, a review of what has been, and a taste of what is yet to come. 

I cannot believe that a year has gone by since Killer's Countdown was published. Only one year since I put my first book out into the world and waited to see what would happen. Would anyone like the book? Would I find readers? I am told all authors feel like this, not only with the first book, but with subsequent books. I am pleased to report that Killer's Countdown was more than warmly received and is selling well. 

Since the first book came out I have published a further two in the series, Killer's Craft and Killer's Cross. Readers have taken DI Shona McKenzie to their heart and the books are flying off the shelves, in both the physical and digital sense. It has been a whirlwind year of book launches, signings and talks. I consider it a privilege to meet readers and to talk to them about both my books and writing. I have appeared in many guises and there has been a lot of fun and laughter along the way. Signings have taken place in cafes, restaurants, shopping centres, craft shops, fairs, Waterstones bookshops and CLC bookshops. I've given talks in libraries from Dundee to London, at conferences and in village halls. Also at the three book launches in Waterstones Dundee. Again I consider all this to be a privilege and I feel blessed. All three books have been bestsellers on Amazon and in bookstores. As an author I cannot describe the giddy feeling that this brings. I certainly didn't imagine that at the beginning of the year.

So what of 2016. I am looking forward to what the new year will bring. I will be ushering it in with a free book which will be available on my website - http://www.wendyhjones.com and on this blog. For those of you who are fans of Shona you will understand why it is called DI Shona McKenzie's Guide to Killing Your Boss. For those of you who haven't yet met her this is your chance. This will be the only book in the series which will be free, so it is well worth downloading. As a little taste here is the first reveal of the cover.


It seems fitting as a writer to start a new year with a new book. However, the fourth book in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries is well on it's way. I am hoping it will be released in April. You will find out more on this blog in due course. I am also working on a book on Marketing and Promotion which will be released in March. It's a busy time, and I couldn't be happier. Knowing that I am writing books that others enjoy is a heady feeling. Being a writer is a blast.

I hope you my Bookaholic friends have had a fabulous Christmas and that your stockings were stuffed with lots of lovely books. May your new year bring you joy, peace and happiness. If you are a writer I wish you all the very best with your writing and your books. Thank you all for spending the last year with me and supporting me every step of the way. I look forward to spending the next year with you on a myriad of adventures.