Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Kate Foster's Winell Road Christmas Blog Tour!

winellroadbanner   Happy Christmas from Kate and Winell Road! When Winell Road: Beneath the Surface was released back in April, Kate didn't embark on a great deal of promotion. Because of a lot of 'things'. So, to make up for that and to kick off the festivities for her favourite time of year - Christmas! - she's taken Winell Road on a little tour, hoping to spread the word and introduce lots of new young readers to, what she believes is, a great big dollop of sci-fi fun and adventure. Here's a little info... Winell Road cover 2Twelve-year old Jack Mills lives at 5 Winell Road and probably has the world's weirdest neighbours. Like freakishly weird. And to top it off, he lives with Mum: nosy, interfering, a hideous cook, and Dad: unsuccessful inventor of the Camera Belt and Self-Closing Window. All in all, it's a boring, embarrassing, dead-end place to live. So when Jack arrives home from school one day, a close shave with a UFO is the last thing he expects. But the fact it doesn't abduct him, and that no one else, not even Mum, sees the gigantic flying saucer hovering over the street, adds a whole new layer of strange. Soon after, an alien encounter threatens Jack’s life and he becomes embroiled in a galaxy-saving mission. With the assistance of his new neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, he discovers Winell Road is hiding secrets—secrets Jack might wish he'd never uncovered.
If you're still not sure, here's a couple of reviews... 'Winell Road: Beneath the Surface is a fast-paced middle-grade adventure story with the feel of Men in Black. Jack is a smart, resourceful boy with more abilities than he’s ever dreamed off, and he finds out that the world is a far stranger place than he imagined. The action is non-stop and will keep readers riveted.' 'This book will work wonderfully read aloud in class. There are enough cliff-hanger chapter endings to keep them begging for more. It will also promote discussion about making snap judgments while providing plenty of scope for related art projects.' Buzz Words Magazine Go to Goodreads to see a few more.
About Kate
rsnow pics 001Kate is an Englishwoman on the Gold Coast in Australia. A middle grade writer, freelance editor, the editorial director at Lakewater Press and all around lover of the written word, she is ruled by her three sons, husband and spoodle pup. Not one to have a quiet day, she spends her free time mentoring new writers in contests like Nest Pitch and Pitch Wars, judging writing contests and helping out at Writers Activation on the Gold Coast. Other than that, she likes laying in bed or by the pool with a book! If you would like to stalk Kate you can follow her on Twitter or visit her blog, where you can also find out about her editorial services.  
It would make a great stocking filler for children. BUT, if you're feeling particularly lucky, she's giving away three signed copies just in time for Christmas! Yippee! Click here to enter!
If you don't win, then the book is available all over the virtual world. Amazon UK Amazon Booktopia Jet Black Publishing Thanks for stopping by. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Girl Gone Global

Amazon ebook: paperback:, B&N paperback, B&N nook book, Nook UK, Smashwords

Lucy Warner feels unappreciated at her job in the US, so when the chance to relocate to England arises, she takes it. When she arrives overseas the culture-shock is doubled by the two men who are suddenly both vying for her attention. They are sportsmen, and Lucy is suddenly thrown into the world of cricket (the game, not the insect). Will either of the two cricketers truly bowl her over?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Thinkerbeat Guest Post

Welcome to the Thinkerbeat Anthology Interview

Q: What inspired you to start publishing?
A: I wrote my first story when I was really young. I used to sit with a typewriter and clunk away at the keys for hours. I’d make a lot of mistakes, but I kept trying. Later, I started sending stories out for publication. I got a lot of rejections, just like everyone does.

In college I studied the music business and learned about managing talent. I also played around with the idea of becoming a computer programmer, but my creative side won out and I spent a number of years working in the music business.

Down the road, I got an offer to write a children’s book for a publisher. I thought, well, 500 words, how hard can that be? It took me months to finish it. You spend more time describing the illustrations on the page than you do putting words on the page. The staff editor was never happy and we disagreed on a lot of things. But I learned from him. I also kept in mind that if I didn’t play along, I’d never get the book published with my name on it.

From there, I started working on writing textbooks for schools for a publisher. Around that time, I was struggling with my own writing, though, writing creative stories, that is. I more or less thought I’d never get anywhere, because the rejections for my stories were still pouring in. That's when the practical side took over and I decided to go back to school and get an MBA degree.
In the master's degree program, we had to write a lot. And it became apparently early on that I was better at writing research reports than the other students in my classes, just because I'd been writing for a long time. At that point, I decided to take what I was learning and start up my first publishing company. We handled mostly textbooks. We also sold internationally, which was challenging, dealing with import/export laws, shipping costs and taxes. It was great experience, though.

After earning my MBA, I landed a full time job at a university teaching both business courses and writing courses. During one semester, I wrote the code for an online business simulation platform. For this, students could log in and form online companies and market fictitious products. Although it was only a simulation, the platform was a great success and from there I started pondering how I could make something similar available for authors world-wide.

Thinkerbeat was born, but under a totally different name at that time. The code has gone through hundreds of revisions before resembling what we see on the website today. For work flow, I really believe in finding consensus among the active members of the site. An example of that is the name of the site. Thinkerbeat is a combination of heartbeat and mindset. Kate Cudahy of Wattpad fame come up with the idea for the name and everyone else endorsed it right away.

Kate was one of our earliest members. She and I were working on a book I was revising at the time. She's a great beta-reader. Getting feedback from her on my book gave me the idea that the site could be utilized for providing feedback for other authors. If you don’t know about Kate, she has amassed over a quarter million readers on Wattpad as the author of Hal and recently she teamed up with Firebrand to sell her books there.

Many people join a reading circle or a writing circle in their neighborhood or city. Our idea is to make that kind of interaction available online. However, some people can't find a circle to join or they don't have time for the weekly meetings. With it all being online at Thinkerbeat, your manuscript is in one central location for everyone to look at. And with it being the Internet, you can form a writing circle with people from anywhere, not just people in your own backyard.

Another big influence on the site is David Grigg, also an early member. He's been really helpful in getting the book cover for the Thinkerbeat Anthology finished, giving constant feedback and support. He runs a professional book cover and book formatting business. He's also a really prolific author. David is a low keyed person, taciturn by his own definition, but by my definition a really solid guy and someone I consider a friend. David's claim to fame was being the chair of the 43rd World Science Fiction Convention. He's also the current editor-in-chief of the Novopulp anthologies, another site I endorse and encourage authors to take a look at.

Q: What bothers you more: spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors?
A: Punctuation. It’s right there in front of you in the books you read. You should know how to do it. Look closely at how it’s done when you read. And you should be reading a lot, especially if you want to be a great writer.

Q: Tell us something that will surprise us.
A: I once road my bicycle across Alaska. I spent two months living alone in the wild there, writing a journal, and that inspired me to try my hand at travel writing.

Q: What do you do for cover art? Do you do it yourself, hire an artist, or purchase pre-made art?
A: It’s different every time. Sometimes the answers come easy and sometimes problems like this take forever to solve. For the Thinkerbeat Anthology, we decided on the title almost overnight. I like to get a consensus and so I shared a short list of ideas with several people. The Art of Losing stood out as the best choice in everyone's mind without much debate. When you know you've got the right one, you breathe easy.

For the cover art, that took weeks. We played with so many ideas that I was getting frustrated with it. We talked to professionals and got a lot of feedback from everyone. I had this stock photo of a set of lost keys that I really liked but I didn’t want to use a stock photo, even if I could have, because there's always the chance it will show up somewhere else. I wanted an original.

One day, I took about half a dozen pictures of my own set of keys, as reference shots, probably spending a whole 5 minutes on it. Then I sent those photos out and asked if any of the professional photographers I knew could make a better one for me. The answer came back that one of the pictures I’d already taken was going to be the final one for the cover. The shot we wanted to use was right there in front of me, in my own camera. I’m still a little surprised by that. I'd taken the winning picture myself.

Q: What is the single most important quality in a story—what must an author do to win you over?
A: Clarity. Make the image in your head clear on paper. As writers, we get a picture in our minds and we draw it with words, but we often don’t realize that other people, our readers, can’t see that picture because it’s not inside their heads like it is in ours. When we read the words, everything makes sense to us, because we can see it clearly. What's hard is making other people see it the same way. Make the picture in your head as real as possible on the page so that your readers will know exactly what you're talking about.

Q: Any advice for aspiring authors?
A: Start with short stories. Avoid writing a full length book for a long time. Focus more on structure of the story and less on individual word choice. Learn the meaning of exposition, conflict and resolution, and the way to write a basic three act story. Don’t get too hung up on the rules, either. Do get totally hooked on developing a unique writer's voice, full of your own nuances and idiosyncrasies. Don't let anyone take that away from you. Only after you've tackled all these things, then try to write a book.

Q: Who are your writing heroes and why?
A: William Faulkner: he created a genre by himself. Cormac McCarthy: he took what Faulkner was doing and brought it to a whole new level.


For more about the world of Thinkerbeat go here.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Author Guest Post: Jill Hand's; The Blue Horse

The Blue Horse
Available Now
I'd like to welcome author Jill Hand to my blog today. She discusses her book The Blue Horse below. Enjoy...


Sometimes the perfect plot for a novel appears from out of nowhere, like a golden gift from the gods of fiction.  That’s what happened with The Blue Horse, now available from Kellan Publications.
            I happened to stumble on the amazing true story of the blue horse while poking around online.  I was reading about the giant black cats that pop up every now and then in places where there shouldn’t be any panther-like beasts prowling around.  They turn up in the UK as well as in the States, startling the people who see them before vanishing as suddenly as they appear.    
            These ebony-furred felines are among the ranks of cryptids, improbable creatures – sometimes seemingly impossible creatures, like the Jersey Devil or Spring-heeled Jack -- that have been seen but never captured.
            The Blue Horse centers on an improbable creature whose existence was firmly documented.  It was discovered in South Africa in 1860, peacefully grazing with a herd of quagga, a subspecies of zebra.  The fact that it was blue in color and completely without hair was utterly bizarre.  To this day, nobody is certain what it was or where it came from.
It was shipped to England, where it ended up in the hands of a fabulously wealthy man named George Harry Booth-Gray, 7th Earl of Stamford.  Sir George was master of the Quorn Hunt and rode his new acquisition to go fox hunting.
Research is one of the most enjoyable things about writing, in my opinion.  In this case, the more I read about Sir George the more I was intrigued by him.  He was the type of delightfully dotty upper-class Englishman who flourished during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.  By all accounts, he preferred playing cricket and betting on the horses to attending his classes at Cambridge University’s Trinity College.  Scholarship disagreed with him to the point that he left after only one year, having shocked everybody by marrying the daughter of his bedder.  (Bedders were servants who took care of the students’ rooms.)
            Sir George again flouted convention when he married a circus bareback rider after his first wife died.  The lady, the former Kitty Cocks, wasn’t the sort of person whom an Earl was supposed to marry.  It was bad enough that she’d been in the circus, but the fact that she had been the mistress of a notorious playboy caused a tremendous scandal.
            Sir George, his blue horse and the scandalous Lady Kitty were such fascinating characters that I decided I had to put them into a book, in this case a factasy – part fact, part fantasy.  In it, the horse of a different color becomes the object of a quest by a trio of unlikely time travelers from the future who’ve been assigned to go to 1863, acquire the horse, and bring it back with them to the future. 
            The time travelers work for a twenty-fourth-century enterprise that’s in the business of time travel tourism.  Its employees have been rescued from various disasters and sticky situations in the past.  Rosina, the narrator, was involved in a railway accident in 1889.  Her fiancĂ©, Ned York, was imprisoned in the Tower of London by his uncle, Richard III.  Their companion, Olga, comes from imperial Russia, having been rescued from circumstances that she prefers not to talk about.  
Like any coworkers, Rosina, Ned and Olga and their colleagues have office romances.  They complain about the job and have petty grievances.  Olga is irascible and has gotten repeated warnings about her bad attitude, all of which she ignores.  Ned is a charming layabout who likes to talk about his encounters with various notable characters throughout history.  Level-headed, practical Rosina tries to keep them both in line, but she doesn’t always succeed.
Research again came in handy in describing two of the places the time travelers visit while throwing a bachelor party for one of their colleagues that takes them to 1893 Paris: the infamous CafĂ© of Hell and the lesser-known but equally weird Cabaret of Nothingness.  Both places are long gone by now, but there are pictures of them online.  They’re well worth a look.
The Blue Horse was tremendous fun to write.  It has all the elements I like to see in a good story: adventure, romance, lots of laughs and a few tears.  It’s available for $3.99 in PDF, EPUB and MOBI format for e-book readers or $19 for paperback from the Kellan Publishing Bookstore website: 

You can find me on Facebook as Jill Hand, where I’ll be holding a contest to give away a signed, paperback copy along with other swag.