New Year, New Book! Launch Day for Under Stone

What better way to start the new year than with a brand new book? Under Stone, the fourth instalment of my Ambeth Chronicles, is now live on Amazon! Get your copy here.

‘Help will come to you, Alma, you will not be alone.’

Accepting her new powers hasn’t been easy for Alma. Nor has finding out the truth about her father. And she’s still not sure about the prophecy, or about going back to Ambeth. But the Dark are gathering, Denoris on her trail. Deryck hasn’t forgotten about her either… Events past and present converge on a small Welsh town as Alma, and the Dark, choose their path. Who will reach the Cup first?

I’m thrilled to be starting the year with a new title and, for those of you who are new to Ambeth, Oak and Mist, the first book in the series, is 99p/99c to download in the Kindle store, but only until the end of January.

So what are you waiting for? New year, new series – take a journey to Ambeth.

 

Guest Author Marjorie Mallon – The Curse Of Time

Today I have a visitor to the blog. Marjorie Mallon, author of the newly-released YA novel, The Curse of Time, is here to discuss her book and the inspiration behind it. I met Marjorie two years ago at the inaugural Bloggers Bash, where we were among the first to arrive. We’ve always caught up at subsequent Bashes, and I always enjoy our conversations. I’m thrilled that she’s realised her publishing dream and wish her much success!

Welcome to the blog. You’ve recently published your first novel, The Curse of Time. How does it feel to be a published author?

Amazing, but surreal like I’m dreaming, I’m still getting used to the idea!

What was the inspiration behind the story?

There are so many inspirations behind the story but the main ones are:

Light – represented by the beautiful crystal grotto at Juniper Artland in Scotland – The Light That Pours Out of Me by Anya Gallaccio

Time – Dr John C Taylor’s striking Chronopage clock on King’s Parade in Cambridge.

I had the honour of meeting Dr Taylor on the 11th of September. It’s the first time I have ever met an inventor; it was such an amazing experience. Dr Taylor is a rare individual with an extraordinary mind, creativity and vision to create such a stunning clock. I am in awe. Here is my photo of Dr Taylor and I by the clock.

My other sources of inspiration are:

 Art and painting – at the time of writing the first drafts of The Curse of Time my daughter was studying GCSE Art and her enthusiasm for art gave me the idea of art coming alive, forming characters and visual puzzles for the reader to wonder about.

Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray – preserving beauty at all costs.

Photography and Shadows – My interest in blogging meant that I’d taken lots of photographs. For some odd reason I’d photographed shadows and that became my next focus.  With this in mind I created a mysterious, shadowy male central character, Ryder.

Myths, Narcissism, mirrors, and deception!

The book is set in Cambridge. What is it about the city that appeals to you as a writer?

Cambridge is a University City with many beautiful buildings and settings to explore and discover. My favourite locales mentioned in the novel are: Kings Parade (home of the wondrous Chronopage,) the Round Church, and a couple of places that have either burnt down under mysterious circumstances – The Chinese restaurant at Caxton Gibbett, or sadly closed down – Clowns coffee shop. Oh, I forgot to mention that the main character Amelina goes on crazy detours to the crystal encrusted cottage and a ‘spirit walking’ escapade to Arthurs Seat in Edinburgh!

The Chronopage, featured on the front cover, is a real instrument. Tell us more about it, and how you got permission to use the image?

The Chronopage is homage to a functional form of modern art created by the esteemed inventor Dr John C. Taylor OBE. Dr Taylor had a remarkable vision to create a clock that worked in a new, extraordinary way. It had to be durable, sculpted in gold and stainless steel but above all else it had to capture the viewer’s attention to pause, stare and discuss. Each time I pass the Chronopage I am drawn to the motion of the Grasshopper escapement, enthralled by its greedy desire to eat time! You can find out more about the wondrous Chronopage on his website.

I approached Dr John C. Taylor’s publicity department regarding the possibility of using the image of the Chronopage on my front cover. The founder Tina Fotherby asked to read my manuscript. I was thrilled when permission was granted for me to use Dr Taylor’s photographs in my publicity and on the front cover of the book.

And what about the mysterious black cat? I hear he has his own Twitter account now.

The mysterious black cat exists in real life, even though I have not seen him for a long time. He arrived in our garden one day and like the Grasshopper he demanded my attention. I have never seen such a cat – a mini panther with the sleekest black fur, superhuman strength, a desire to be petted and admired but only on his own terms. He refused to sit on my lap but loved attention. I could swear to this day he belonged to a witch. He crept into our garden via the country park woods. I would observe him fascinated by his strange antics. On three separate instances I saw him doing extraordinary things I couldn’t explain. On one occasion, he disappeared from my sight without a trace, another time he appeared on our second storey balcony whining for someone to rescue him. I was astonished how he had managed to climb so high. The one time I picked him up he struggled against me and I was astonished by the strength in his feline body. I swear someone had cast a spell on a young fit man and turned him into a cat!

I called him Shadow and found a black cat model to portray him via a fellow blogging friend Samantha Murdoch.  Samantha’s son Alex Marlowe is a budding photographer and had taken some wonderful photographs of Lily, so Lily became my black cat supermodel! I now have a twitter account @curseof_time dedicated to Shadow the cat and to all things Curse of Time.

The Curse of Time is book one – how many books are you planning to have in the series?

I haven’t quite decided but I have the skeleton of Book two which I have entitled The Curse of Time – Golden Healer. I am hoping to have enough material for three books in the series.

When it comes to writing, are you a planner or a pantser?

I am a total pantser; my planning is minimal, which is problematic as I end up doing a ridiculous amount of editing, moving scenes around and the like.

What does a typical writing day entail?

I always write in the morning. Often I wake up with a flood of ideas and rush off to write them down while they are still fresh in my mind. When I am in the writing zone it is difficult to interrupt me, I tend to be obsessional! I have been known to burn the dinner and ignore people talking to me. I even begrudge a trip to the toilet!

What are you working on now?

At the moment I’m working hard on my promotion of book one  but I hope to have some time soon to work on book two. I’m a member of Cambridge Writers and we get together once a month to critique each other’s work so I hope to take along another chapter for feedback soon.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I’ve entered The Curse Of Time in the WritersDB first line and cover contest. To find out more or if you’d like to vote for me, click here.

Thanks for coming to visit, Marjorie, and for giving us some insight into your creative process and inspiration. The Curse Of Time is now available on Amazon, and you can find out more about Marjorie on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Goodreads.  She also has a separate Twitter account dedicated to her new release, and runs the Author/Blogger Rainbow Support Group on Facebook.

 


More about Marjorie

I am a debut author who has been blogging for three years. My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 reviews.
My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to my proud parents Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald. My parents dragged me away from my exotic childhood and my much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In bonnie Edinburgh I mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.
As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit my abacus-wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters. After such an upbringing my author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.


The Curse Of Time

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.
Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.
Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.
With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?
A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.


 

An Author Event

img_4169I had an author event this past weekend. That sounds rather grand, doesn’t it? Three of Hertfordshire’s busiest libraries are running independent author events over the next six months, and the first one was this past Saturday, at St Albans Library.

When I arrived I was given a table on which to set up my books – there were five other authors as well, and it was interesting to meet them and discuss the different ways we had all approached self-publishing. Three of them had worked with printers to produce their work – the quality of illustration and the type of book they wanted to produce meant that this was the best option for them. The other three, myself included, had gone the Amazon/Createspace route, with varying degrees of success.

We discussed a lot, in fact – they were a great group of people and I was happy to meet all of them. We bought books from each other, talked about different kinds of social media, of how to find our desired audience, exchanged contact details and ideas. It was worth attending for that alone.

img_4172The event was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of sales. I think it’s great that libraries, certainly in my area, are starting to get behind independent authors, and I really appreciate their support. I’ll be doing one of the other events, and I’m looking forward to meeting more people there. However, it seemed there might have been some crossed wires with the promotion, as most of us spent our time talking to people who wanted to publish their own books, rather than purchase ours. I even had a lady sit down, pull out pen and paper, and ask me to take her through the process of publishing! Still, I did make a few sales, and I remembered how it was before I published, and the people who so generously shared their knowledge with me.

I don’t much enjoy public speaking, nor do I like being the centre of attention. However, I really enjoyed being part of this event. It made me realise that I don’t mind putting myself out there when it’s to talk about something I enjoy, and writing is definitely something I enjoy. In some ways, blogging has helped too – letting me put my words out there for an audience, and figuring out that maybe, I might have something to say. I’m planning on doing more events now, going out into the real world to find my reading audience, as well as trying to connect with them online.

So, I think the day might have been a success, after all. 🙂

 

 

Published! A Thousand Rooms

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-09-25-592Yay! I’ve made my way through the tangle of formatting and emerged on the other side ready to hit the big red Publish button. A Thousand Rooms, my fourth novel, is now available to purchase through Amazon.

A stand-alone novel, A Thousand Rooms follows the story of suddenly-dead Katie and is set in Sydney, Australia, where I lived for a couple of years.

You don’t wake up expecting to die…

Katie is thirty-two, single, and used to work in advertising. She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying, trying to find her way to… wherever she’s supposed to be.

And whoever she’s supposed to be with.

Heaven, it seems, has a thousand rooms. What will it take to find hers?

I’m thrilled to finally have A Thousand Rooms out, almost two years to the day I started writing it. I’ve had a lot of help along the way, and really do appreciate all your support. I’ll be visiting a few blogs in upcoming weeks to talk about the book a little more and in the meantime, if you decide to treat yourself to a copy, thank you and I hope you enjoy it!

Cover Reveal! A Thousand Rooms

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-09-25-592Ta da! Here it is, the cover for my latest novel, A Thousand Rooms. I wrote the book about two years ago during NaNoWriMo – since then, I’ve been editing and rewriting to get it ready for publication. I’ve had some wonderful beta readers along the way, including Ali Isaac, Louise Allen and Angelika Offenwanger – thank you so much for all your valuable feedback! Esther Newton lent her editing expertise to give it a final polish, and my brother, Rich Jones at Turning Rebellion, took my photo of red shoes and created a cover which I think perfectly captures the spirit of the story – thank you!

I realise the above paragraph sounds a little bit like one of those award show acceptance speeches, but I do think it’s important to acknowledge how many people it can take to produce a book. I feel very fortunate to have found such a wonderful group of authors and bloggers around the world, and really appreciate your support.

So, what’s the book about?

You don’t wake up expecting to die…

Katie is thirty-two, single, and used to work in advertising. She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying, trying to find her way to… wherever she’s supposed to be.

And whoever she’s supposed to be with.

Heaven, it seems, has a thousand rooms. What will it take to find hers?

I’m just finalising the formatting, with a view to publishing, hopefully, within the week. And, once I have published… you’ll be the first to know!

 

Playing with Prisma

Publishing independently costs money – there’s no getting around it. A professional edit, typesetting, a cover design – while you don’t have to pay for any of these things, they can make a difference to the look and feel of your finished book. However, independent publishing doesn’t, for the most part, make much money – the majority of authors these days, whether traditional or independently published, rely on secondary sources of income to keep going. So, if you can save money here and there, it’s a bonus.

I’ve written before about using photography, including the potential pitfalls of using images without permission, the different types of stock images available and the effects you can create using your own images. I still believe that, as independent authors, using our own photography wherever possible is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to promote our work. So, when I heard about the Prisma app, I knew I had to give it a try.

IMG_2622This is a photograph I took with my phone the other week, of the ruined cathedral in Coventry. Not a bad photo, if I say so myself. However, when I put it into the Prisma app, it changed completely:

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A Friday Update

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Spring is coming! (now that I’ve said that it will snow, right?)

The first week of school holidays is almost over – too bad the gorgeous girl and I have spent much of it housebound, struck down again by the bug that just won’t go away. However, modern medicine and good old-fashioned rest seem to be doing the trick, as we are both feeling better and actually ventured out today, for brunch and a movie with one of her schoolfriends and his mother. (We saw Zootropolis, which was actually really well done.)

I’ve also been writing. Silver and Black is flying along (so far), the story taking an intriguing shape, and I’m toying with the idea of serialising it on my blog once it’s ready to go. There are a couple of reasons for this: one is that the idea came to me via a series of blog challenges, so perhaps this is the right venue in which to share it, and two, I don’t usually write vampire stories, so it will be interesting to see what sort of feedback it gets.

I’m also looking at joining the Authors Lending and Copyright Society, a not-for-profit organisation based in the UK, run for and by writers. The ALCS is, in their own words, ‘dedicated to protecting and promoting authors’ rights’ and one of the ways they do so is by collecting secondary use royalties. These types of royalties can be levied when someone photocopies or digitally reproduces your work, or whenever your books are borrowed from a library. However, I will do a little more research before signing on, and will dedicate a blog post to exploring it more in depth.

Today I read this excellent interview with Hugh Howey via The Story Reading Ape. Hugh is an independent author extraordinaire and, I think I might love him a little. He’s such a passionate advocate for independent publishing, and has so much to say about the current state of the industry – it is well worth a read.

I’ve also been watching the latest Star Wars trailer, for Rogue One. I’ve been a Star Wars fangirl since the very beginning, ever since I was taken to see the first film in the cinema. This newest episode looks fantastic, and I have it down as one of my must-see movies for this year.

Next week the gorgeous girl and I have a few things planned, so hopefully we’ll both be back to full health and ready to go. I’ll still be writing away in Camp NaNo as and when I can, plus looking ahead to marketing and promotional opportunities for Oak and Mist. Hills and Valleys, the third Ambeth book, is now in the final editing stage, so I’m hoping to be able to publish by the end of this month – watch this space for cover reveals and more info.

Wishing you all a good weekend!