Books and Reading Wednesday: End of October Indie Review

Hands of Evil by Melissa Barker-Simpson

Goodreads synopsis:
Jonathan Jukes is accustomed to working alongside the police within his role as close protection officer at Morgan and Fairchild. But when Detective Sergeant Charles Macavoy requests the team’s help, JJ finds it’s his toughest case yet.

A serial killer, whose calling card is to remove the hands of his victims, is targeting interpreters. When lines begin to blur and JJ’s past comes back to haunt him, he soon discovers the biggest threat comes from a woman who stands at the centre of it all

Review:

This is the second book I’ve read by Melissa Barker-Simpson and it most certainly will not be the last!

The author’s ability to draw the reader into the story and characters is incredible. Each time I sat down to read I planned on only doing it for an hour, but every time it ended up much longer. I would glance up at the clock and not even realise two hours had flown by.

The characters throughout were brilliantly written, and I loved how Melissa wrote the character of Grace. The interactions between the characters flowed really well and the dialogue was engaging and realistic.

Throughout the book the romance and action is balanced perfectly. The plot is well paced and I never once found myself skipping through sections, in fact, it was almost the opposite as there were some scenes I read over twice because they were so good!

I highly recommend this book. Melissa Barker-Simpson creates a engaging story filled with great moments, along with high quality writing and enjoyable characters.

Links:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Barnes and Noble

Goodreads

It’s time!

I find myself at a point in my book that is both thrilling and slightly nerve-wracking.

As I’ve said, I’ve had this series in my mind for a while, and there is one scene particularly that has always been certain and always the same.

I have come to the point in my book to write that scene; a scene that has been in my head for a couple of years.

It’s a pretty intense scene, emotionally and physically.

Yes, this is just the first draft, and yes, I can sort it out later if it’s not perfect. But for some reason I have this feeling that I have to get it right first time, because it’s the pivotal scene in this first book of the series.

I mean, thinking on it for two years I should be able to knock it out in no time, but when I came to write all I did was just stared at the screen!

But it’s time to just do it, and today is the day!

I am going to write it, it’s going to be awesome, and this scene can finally leave my head and hit the page!

Have you guys ever had a scene you’re hesitant about writing? Have you ever come to write a scene you’ve been thinking of for some time? How do you approach writing such intense scenes?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Switch Up!

I just want to say a BIG thank you to all the lovely encouraging and supportive comments on my last post (I may not have replied to all, but I read them all and was so touched!). It was so nice to hear from other writers who feel the same. This community really is so incredibly supportive! 🙂

Today is the first day of just giving myself over to writing, I am doing this blog post on my lunch break! 😀 It has been nice though, it was lovely to start writing this morning and have no pressure to finish at a certain time so as I could begin social media, I actually think the quality of my writing improved for it!

Anyway, I had a nice plan of action in place for the book I’m working on at the moment.

It was my usual plan- Write the first draft, edit the next month, and then release. So release day would have been the end of November.

But, this book is different then normal as it’s the first book in a series; a series I have been thinking about writing for a good 2 years now.

As I began writing my first draft I knew I was going to need more time with it. More time with these characters I’ve been cultivating for years and more time to delve into the start of this series I’ve loved planning for so long!

So, I’ve had a change of plan. My plan now is to work on the first draft (still finish by the end of this month!) and then give myself two months for editing.

In November I am going to work on a short Christmas novella to release in December, then January and February I am giving over completely to re-writing and doing drafts of the current first book in my series.

I hope that makes sense 😀

I do have to say, this is part of the reason I love self-publishing. I have no set time or specific book I need to work on. If I want or need to change up the order I release books or write books, I can! That is really a huge plus for writing and publishing books on my own!

Have you guys ever changed your writing plans? Have you started one book and then begun another at the same time?

Progress Report:

Status of first manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 2232 (Total word count: 28,368).

Books read: 2/4.

End of October Indie Review: Reading.

Being a Writer= 10% writing and 90% everything else!

When I started this blog my main goal was to be honest, I wanted to record this journey and be truthful about how it was going and how I felt about it. This is one of those posts 😀

So, over the past few days I’ve been in a bit of a weird head space!

I love writing and I’m very lucky to be able to dedicate all of my time to it as my full time career.

But when I thought about it, I’m not dedicating my full time to it. I write for around 1.5-2 hours a day, five days a week and though that’s a lot more than most people get the chance to do, it’s still not enough for me.

Most of my workday is spent doing social media.

Now, I’ve gone on about my inability to make proper use of social media before 😀 I’m also not good at using it for marketing, etc.

I’d say I’ve not done bad in book sales, more than some indie authors, but I also have to say that not seeing a rise in sales throughout the year but just a steady stream, kind of put me in a bit of a funk.

Why was I spending so much time on creating my author platform etc, if it isn’t going to help with sales?

Now, my writing isn’t all about they money 😀 But I do want to make a living off of it and though I understand I am a new author, it can be incredibly disheartening to see indie authors put out one book and they get to number 1 without seeming to do much at all, and my books float in the sea with the rest.

It just got me thinking about if I am using my time wisely. If my hours on social media aren’t gaining me sales or getting my name out any further, should I be spending so long on it?

As you probably have heard me say many times before, I really don’t like marketing! Those who do it well are successful, but I don’t do it well, I barely do it at all. The thought of shoving my work in people’s faces constantly really drains me and social media is a part of that. Trying to get my name out there and my work recognised is emotionally exhausting because I’m just not that type of person.

Now that I have established myself with a blog and things, is it time to allow myself to take a step back and wait for my books to speak for me?

What I’m trying to say is, I miss writing.

I could write all day if I could 😀 And that’s exactly what I’m going to do for a while.

I have made the decision that for the rest of the month, I am going to take a bit of a back seat on the social media thing. I’ll have a few blog posts, but not too many I don’t expect. I will still read others blogs, because I always enjoy your guys posts and find some great tips and information! But I probably won’t comment as much as I normally do.

I think not commenting as much on others blogs is part of my hesitance to cut back on blogging and social media. I have made a great many blogging friends and am so incredibly grateful for their support, I like to show mine by commenting and sharing their posts.

The social media side of things is important, I know, it’s the only way to get my name out there, but I really need to just write for a while, to give my everything to the craft I love so much.

So, if I’m not commenting as much as usual, please don’t think I’m not reading, because I will be! I hope you guys understand 🙂

Have a brilliant weekend everyone, I hope it’s a good one!

The First Draft- It’s a love/hate thing.

One of my major flaws as a writer (and as a person) is my need to get everything perfect first time around.

You see how this could be a problem when it comes to writing? 😀 Considering the amount of drafts we have to do before we get something we’re pleased enough with to publish?

Writing a first draft can, at times, hurt me.

Staring at this horrible screen of text that isn’t perfect, that isn’t lovely, that sometimes doesn’t even make sense; it doesn’t do me any good!

But I have gotten better over this year since writing has become career. The first draft has to be written, no matter how I do it, it is the foundation of my book. If I don’t write, then I’m not doing my job! 😀

The way I like to look at a first draft is that it is the skeleton. It is the bones of my manuscript.

The second draft is the muscles.

The third is the skin.

And from then on extra drafts and changes are the clothing, jewelry, and make up that allow my manuscript to sparkle.

Still, it’s hard. Nowadays I write my first draft without looking back at it. I just write it and keep on going. I use simple, not very active words, such as ‘pushed’, ‘pulled’ ‘looked’, etc, I even have sections where I’ve written, ‘She’s angry- describe’. I just write whatever to get that first draft down, with notes to remind me when I go back to edit.

I can then go back and change those words, make it active. make it flow. I can change the details, add description where I have left it out, etc.

But it is a struggle! When I think my writing is terrible, it puts a damper on my mood (which my poor family and friends have to deal with, sorry to them!), and I go into a fit of, ‘I suck as a writer!’ 😀

But by the end, when all the layers are added, I come out of that mood having produced something I can be really proud of. A story that has been worth all the moods and hard work 🙂

What I’m trying to say is- Just write it. Don’t worry about language, or word use, or adverbs, or anything like that in a first draft. Just do whatever it takes to get that main bulk down.

It’s after the first draft that the real work begins 😉

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 2793 (Total word count: 23,503).

Books read: 2/4.

Mid-October Book Review: We won’t talk about the lack of that…

Normal Service Will Resume Shortly!

Thank you to everyone who commented on my posts over the weekend 🙂

I am trying to add a change to my routine which started today, and has left me completely out of whack! So, I haven’t had time to write a blog post and I haven’t been able to manage commenting on many blogs yet!

So instead, enjoy this awesome vlog review of Prophecy of Stones by Sierra of Permashift!

I always love her vlogs, she’s hilarious and always makes me smile 🙂

The Queen’s Jester also got an awesome review from Teri Lloyd! 🙂

Sorry for the all about my stuff post! Will hopefully get a hang of this new routine soon.

Tomorrow won’t be a Romance Weekly post as (again) still shuffling my work around. I will have a normal post instead tomorrow though! 😀

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 2830 (Total word count: 20,710).

Books read: 2/4.

Mid-October Book Review: Yeah, not going so well!

Something Different

These are some photosets I made for my books to go on Tumblr, but I’d thought I’d post them here too!

MSAll

“Stay,” she whispered.

Mal’s lips curled into a smile that made her request even more urgent and she gripped his shirt to yank him forwards. But he steadied his hands on the bed to remain unmoving. Alex frowned.

“I wish I could,” he replied, moving one hand to her face, his thumb running over her bottom lip. “Honestly, you have no idea how much I wish I could.”

The Magic Spark

What do a successful London businesswoman and a Scottish castle owner have in common?

A rom-com obsessed fairy godmother who won’t stop meddling in their love life!

The Magic Spark is a light, enjoyable read, full of romance, fun, and a dash of magic.

Buy Links:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Barnes and Noble

PAll

“I would not let you lose yourself, Milana,” Riff said, grabbing her arms so as she was forced to face him, yet still she kept her gaze averted. “You see the bond, our love, as a weakness. Why can you not see that it is power? It is what gives me strength. My love for you is what gives me the strength to keep going!” His emotion-filled words echoed around them, heavy enough that they seemed to land on her skin and make her shiver.

Prophecy of Stones

The bond of love can conquer all, but only if it is accepted.

Prophecy states that three champions imbued with the best virtues of the mortal race: heart, strength and soul, will be the ones to save them all from an enemy which threatens to steal the life from their world and those who live upon it.

Buy Links:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Barnes and Noble

Kindle and Smashwords: Formatting Tips

I’ve had a few emails from people asking about when I publish my books on Smashwords if they go through the ‘Meatgrinder’ and how do I do it.

I have to say I’ve never had a problem with Smashwords and all my books have gone through first time with no trouble. So, instead of copying and pasting the answer to reply to the emails, I thought I would do a blog on it.

Please note that these are just some of the things I do to get my books through Smashwords and Kindle, don’t take it as fact! I highly recommend reading both Kindle’s guide and Smashwords style guide in order to better understand the process.

This is a comparison of the same manuscript (my newest release, The Magic Spark) put through Smashwords (on the left) compared to Kindle (on the right).

kvss

Kindle Formatting:

– Justified alignment.
– Max Font Size: 20.
– Font Type: Arial or Times New Roman.
– Spacing between paragraphs/lines: Not above 90pt.
– Copyright: Normal.

Smashwords Formatting:

– Left alignment.
– Max Font Size: 18.
– Font Type: Arial or Times New Roman.
– Spacing Between paragraphs/lines: Not above 98pt.
– Copyright: Must have ‘Smashwords Edition’ included.

– The reason I don’t go over font size 18 for Smashwords is because they don’t accept a font size bigger than 20. So I make sure to keep it less so as I know my document will go through.

– I use Left alignment for Smashwords because I read on a couple of forums that Smashwords have rejected Justified alignment for others. I doubt it matters much to the average reader which alignment it is.

Some people don’t like the large gaps that can occur between words when Justified, and then others don’t like the straggling words at the end of paragraphs when left aligned. You can’t please everyone!

– Smashwords doesn’t like when you have more than two return spaces together. So check your document for them (You can see them when you press the psymbol symbol).

An easy way to do this would be to open up the ‘Find and Replace’ feature in Word, go to the bottom and you will a tab for Special, click on the ‘Paragraph Mark’ three times (or as many times as you have done it each time in document, say to add a page break) in the Find bar. In the Replace bar, click it once or twice as needed, but no more than twice.

paragraph

That should replace all those unnecessary spaces.

(The code for this is ^p – which you can type into the Find and Replace bars as needed eg for 2 returns it would read ^p^p).

Same applies to the spacebar, if you accidentally hit the space bar more than once. Use the ‘Replace and Find’ function for that two, using the spacebar instead of return key to get rid of those spaces.

Make sure to use the Format>Paragraph tool to add line spaces instead of using the return key on your keyboard.

– I always use the Format>Paragraph, Format>Font, and Insert>Break tools in order to add spaces or change font type, as this formatting sticks.

– As for the copyright, Smashwords require that you state ‘Smashwords Edition’, but Kindle (from what I’ve read) don’t like it all if you put ‘Kindle edition’ or ‘Amazon edition’.

– Spelling errors, an obvious one 😀 But I’d thought I’d add it. After all the editing, proofreading, and sending it off to readers to check, it’s still a good idea to run your document through the spellchecker before submitting it.

I take the time to bother with Smashwords as it’s a great portal for sending out your book to so many places once you’re on the Premium catalogue. They are doing the work of changing your document into many different forms, so I think it’s only fair I take the effort to get it just right following their guidelines

I know some people have issues with Smashwords, but personally, I have had no trouble and think it’s a great site.

In the end, it’s about choosing the places that suit you and your books and finding markets that you’re comfortable with 🙂

These are just what I do, because I’ve been asked, please don’t think I’m telling you what to do! Again, it’s all a very personal experience about how we organise and sort our manuscripts ready for publishing, and there are many other great blogs out there with advice on it (probably better explained too!).

Well, that’s about all I do 😀 Formatting can be great fun, as it can let you play about with your manuscript and make it look really professional and high standard. I hope these tips help!

Have a great weekend everyone and I will be back on Monday! ( I do have some scheduled posts as usual, but I won’t be around to answer comments or emails, please don’t think I’m ignoring you! 😀 ).

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 3678 (Total word count: 17,880).

Books read: 2/4.

Mid-October Book Review: Writing review.

False Awakening by Callum McLaughlin is Out Now!

Callum McLaughlin’s new release, False Awakening is out now! I’ve been waiting for this ever since reading Callum’s last book!

False Awakening (ebook, ad version)

Synopsis:

When teenager Abi Watson wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of the incident that put her there, she must begin the long and difficult process of piecing her life back together, but unfortunately, her search for answers will merely give rise to further questions. Frayed relationships and haunting revelations soon come into play, leading Abi to discover that some things are best left forgotten.

With a past that is unwilling to let go, her only option is to delve into the depths of her own mind so that she can uncover the truth and finally awaken from her living nightmare.

Excerpt:

Before either of her friends could speak, two police officers in full uniform filled the doorway.

“What are you two doing in here?” asked one of them. Male, tall and inherently intimidating; his ice-cold eyes moved from Dan to Luke as he swept into the room, bringing with him an atmosphere far cooler than any breeze. “We specifically told you not to speak with the victim until we had questioned her.”

The word victim made Abi’s stomach squirm again.

“We’re sorry,” said Dan, looking more uncomfortable than ever as he sidled towards the door.

“We were worried. We had to make sure she was okay.” Luke did not budge from Abi’s bedside as he looked the officer directly in the eye.

“I’m afraid we’re going to have to ask you both to leave immediately,” said the second officer. A woman who appeared at least a few years younger than her partner, she held a notebook and pen in her hands that Abi suspected were intended to document her version of events; events she still scarcely remembered besides the deeply unsettling image that had invaded her mind a mere moment ago.

That excerpt was awesome and definitely left me wanting to know more! So, why not go buy a copy and read the rest?

Amazon UK

Amazon US

And remember to support the authors by leaving a review! 🙂

Bio:

P1000905 - Copy

Callum McLaughlin was born and raised in the Scottish countryside where he continues to live and work. Aside from his own creative writing endeavours, he operates on a freelance basis, producing content for blogs, websites and magazines.

Beyond literature, he is interested in all things music and nature, taking his biggest inspiration from the world around us.

Find out more about Callum-

Blog: www.callummclaughlin.wordpress.com

Twitter: @callum_m1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7400503.Callum_McLaughlin

Romance Weekly Blog Hop #lovewritechat

RW Banner

It’s that time again, Romance Weekly Blog Hop time!

If you’ve joined me from the lovely Josie Malone’s blog, author of The Hero Spell, then welcome!

Now onto the questions!

Which type of character do you prefer writing about: Sexy, romantic, sweet, quirky, mean, old, young, smart, silly or other?

I’d like to say sexy, but in all honesty it’s probably the snarky characters! 😀 Those ones that always have a comeback for everything and their sarcasm offers no useful input, but it’s fun anyway.

Have you ever killed off (or gotten back at) an ex in your writing? On paper, of course.

No, I haven’t. I do try to stay away from basing my characters off of real people, as I always worry someone will guess!

What hobbies do you have that you incorporate in your writing?

Gardening is probably the biggest one. I do tend to find when characters are in a garden, I have to hold off from going into explicit detail of how the flower would look and how best it should be cared for in the coming season 😀

Some interesting questions answered this week 😀 So head on over to J.J.Devine, author of Into the Darkness, and see what she has to say in response to them!

Also, why not check out the new Romance Writers Weekly Blog?

Or sign up for the newsletter?

There is a monthly giveaway and this month my newest release, The Magic Spark, is one of the prizes! 🙂

So, what about you guys- Have you ever got back at someone through your writing?

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 5283 (Total word count: 12,148).

Books read: 1/4

Mid-October Book Review: Writing review.