Sunday, 30 November 2014

Blog Tour Book Blitz

I’ve been really busy at work recently and while my writing and promoting Inspired is always in the back of my mind, my day job has to come first because it’s the thing that puts food on the table.

I launched a Kickstarter campaign this week for a new venture so I’ve been preoccupied with making my campaign video and writing press releases.

So where has that left Inspired by Night, or my current work in progress?

Well it occurred to me that a big chunk of Inspired takes place at Christmas time. So what better time than now to do a bit of promo?

I love Christmas. There’s something so romantic about it. I’m not the most girly of women, but my word, do I get giddy over tinsel and fairy lights?!

I think that’s why some of the more romantic elements of Inspired take place at Christmas. The decorations, the roaring log fires, there was definitely a little influence from White Christmas in the back of my mind as I was writing.

I’m always dreaming of a white Christmas

Anyway, knowing that I had a lot of stuff going on at work I turned to Lola’s blog tours to help me do some promo.

It was all very easy and straight forward to arrange, I spent a week chipping away at a bunch of interview questions, top ten lists and other stuff and sent it all over with a few choice excerpts.

My blog tour is taking place from the 8th December (which just happens to be my Mum’s birthday).

I’ll be posting links to the blogs as they appear.

I’ve never done anything like this. I don’t know whether blog tours have much impact on sales but over on Goodreads Lola was highly recommended. If you’d like to sign up as a host on my tour click the banner above.

I’ll share my experience afterwards, but so far the preparation towards it has been fairly simple.

Has anyone else done any blog tours? How would you rate them in terms of the impact on sales and did you plan them yourself or use a service?

Let me know below.

Blog Tour Book Blitz

Friday, 28 November 2014

Review: Mr Happy by Charlotte Pingriff

Charlotte, who featured on my wall of awesome last month has increased her awesomeness and published her debut novella.

I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy and I have to say I loved it.


image Click the cover art to buy.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, I know that Charlotte’s business is all about making people feel good about themselves and when I started reading Mr Happy I was expecting it to be some kind of self help,book, which is really not my thing at all. But when I started reading this lovely story, I found myself so intrigued I couldn’t stop reading it until I finished.

(Good job I’m the boss because I didn’t get any work done that morning!)

Jen is unhappy, she’s single, desperate to find love and feeling very sorry for herself. So she answers an advert in the lonely hearts and find herself on a blind date with the absolute worst possible man she could ever imagine.

Yet somehow they become friends. The story is a lesson for us all, there’s a mystery surrounding Mr Happy and the revelation is delightfully charming.

I finished reading this novella and immediately set about doing something nice that made me feel happy.

In a way, it kind of is a self help book, disguised as an enjoyable short story. It certainly made me feel happy anyway.


Review: Mr Happy by Charlotte Pingriff

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Fantasy & Sci-fi rock my world (repost)

This post was originally written as a guest post over on

I watch a lot of TV. I’m a big fan of nerd dramas: Arrow, Agents of Shield, Smallville, etc. I love fantasy worlds, where there’s a universe created for the story. Maybe other stories are part of the universe, sometimes they cross over.

In Agents of Shield there was a direct reference to incidents that occurred in the second Thor movie and I had myself a minor geekgasm.

I’ve been a fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels for many years and I love that characters drop in to each other’s novels all the time, the settings are the same and over the years I’ve managed to conjure up my own mental image of what Ankh Morpork looks like, the state of the Mended Drum and how the Librarian keeps order up at the Unseen University.

Fantasy worlds are great because you have so much freedom to create things that suit your story and no one can argue with it.

I was watching 24: Live Another Day and after living in London for several years I could see the anomalies of distance – there’s no way someone’s getting to Camden in 10 minutes, not in London traffic – but in a fantasy world, there’s no possibility of such criticism because no one can get out a map and check.

I love fantasy because, isn’t that what we want from the arts? The suspension of reality? To lose ourselves in a little bit of fiction?

Of course the downside of made-up worlds is that it can take a little while to get your head around where things are. You can’t possibly contextualise where the castle is in relation to the hero’s little cottage, or where the local pub is in relation to the hospital (in places like Ankh Morpork those two really should be close together).

For me, when I first read Minology, that stood out. Yes The Will is a new world, the Min are a new race. But the human body is as familiar to me as, well, the back of my hand.

The towns have new names but they’re cleverly chosen to be representative of the body parts in which they’re located and it’s easy enough to visualise where the Luglands is in relation to the Heartlands.

It’s a new world that is instantly memorable and recognisable. I look forward to reading more.

Fantasy & Sci-fi rock my world (repost)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Review: JJ Prins

I’ve been entertained by JJ’s ongoing commentary as he’s read my novel over the last couple of months, it’s lovely to finally see what he really though! I think I’m a little bit in love with this statement: “She has a way with words that puts you at ease, brings you your tea, tells you to put your feet up and simply enjoy the story being told.”

Read the full review here.

Review: JJ Prins

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Awesome Lady: Erica Nockalls

Counterfeit Magazine – Neil Chapman

I have to confess to being a little fan-girly excited about this entry to my wall of awesome. Now I suspect that for most people, the last thing they’ll think when they look at Erica Nockalls is ‘nerd’, but if wikipedia is to be believed then:

“Nerds can be described by their hobbies” and “Some interests and activities that are likely to be described as nerdy are: Interest in the fine arts, non-mainstream music such as classical, techno, or folk music.”

So I put it to you that a conservatoire trained violinist and artist falls into the nerd camp and as she’s rocking it in her own band – EN, in her acoustic duo with Miles Hunt, and as a member of The Wonder Stuff, she’s proof, if ever it was needed, that nerds are cool!*

Erica, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions, let’s dive straight in:

You started playing the violin from a young age. How many hours did you put into practicing and what impact did that have on your school life or teenage social life.

The violin is a difficult instrument to learn, there are no two ways about it. Because it isn’t as instantly gratifying as an instrument such as the piano, for example, it is incredibly frustrating for about the first ten years, and it’s something you really have to stick at. I was encouraged to chip away and practise every day when I was younger, even if it was only 15 mins a day. As a beginner, this is essential for developing muscle memory – I believe it’s how often you practise, rather than how long you practise for, that is important.

As a teenager I began playing in my first bands, which is a healthy thing to do. I knew I needed to practise my violin regularly if I wanted to be any good, so I just got on with it, but of course I grumbled about it from time to time! I felt like music was the only thing I was any good at, so it made perfect sense that I should stick at it, and yes, that sometimes meant not getting drunk on a street corner with mates. Being a professional musician in a rock forum often means you have access to free booze frequently, so I kinda made up for missing out over the years.

 Your first album incorporates a variety of musical genres. What is your approach to writing and recording and does it vary depending on the style?

It know it sounds odd, but I don’t really have an approach to writing, other than getting the lyrics written first, then I fit them to music. I stop layering things up and adding new sections when I think the piece has gone as far as the song can go, then I call it a day and move on.

Stylistically I love listening to and playing heavy music, and that might be from anything to a Shostakovich string quartet to doom goth metal, but it has to be at least slightly progressive otherwise I get bored incredibly quickly and lose interest. I have dark tastes in music.

My lyrics and music could be considered rather angular at times, and the lyrics, particularly on EN2 are feisty and uncompromising. I’m certainly not painting by numbers and trying to sound like anybody else here, I never have done that. If you’re not adding anything to the development of music, you’re wasting everyone’s time, not least your own.

How involved are you with the production side of your recordings and videos?

100%. EN2 is entirely self produced, self funded through selling my artwork, and it is also self released, and all through choice as I wanted complete control over this record. It’s my intention to make some music videos for EN2 – it’s next on my to-do list. I enjoy making videos – it’s a relatively recent creative outlet for me. I’m not bad at editing and I actually find it quite relaxing and rewarding!

How do you feel about social media?

I like it. I think people need to put their phones down occasionally so as not to waste their entire lives online, but as a musician you need a platform from which to air your wares, and as such social media is invaluable. I use predominantly Facebook and Twitter to make announcements and post gig details. Generally I try to be as engaging as possible without ramming my music down people’s throats. You have to treat people as you’d like to be treated yourself, which is absolutely the way forward in real life too.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

It’s difficult to say, but I’m not going to measure highlights of my career in audience numbers. I’ve played to hundreds of thousands of people at a gig, I’ve played to 10 people at a gig – the number of people you play to rarely translates into whether it was a good gig or not. I think the highlight of my career so far is being able to say I’ve travelled the world and avoided getting a ‘proper’ job as a result of being good at doing something that I love. It’s been hard in places and I’ve had so many knock backs I’ve lost count. If you believe in yourself and get your head down though, it’s possible to achieve virtually anything.

What’s next for EN?

Make more EN videos, I’m seriously thinking of putting a US version of my band together and decamping over to NYC for a bit in 2015 – the music industry seems sewn up in this country, so I’m going to see if the yanks will have any of what I’m doing…see if they ‘get’ it.

The Wonder Stuff tour acoustically in December 2014 for our Sleigh The Uk Tour.

Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls are gigging acoustically across the UK seemingly constantly!

And I’ll hopefully be painting more in the new year and having more EN art exhibitions.

Where can we buy your new album?

Through choice, EN2 is only available from my website and nowhere else. I’m bypassing all online platforms for streaming and selling until musicians are awarded a fairer deal for their music in an attempt to give value back to music.

That deserves a hi-five! Thank you Erica, it’s been fab. Congratulations on your recent art exhibition and good luck with the new album.

If you haven’t already been to check it out, head over to Erica’s website

You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

* Okay, I’ll admit it, I just really wanted to interview her, nerd or not!

Awesome Lady: Erica Nockalls

Review by Danielle Austen

My fellow Xcite stablemate, Danielle Austen shares her thoughts on Inspired by Night… And on my birthday too! Thankfully it was a great birthday present!

Read it here

Review by Danielle Austen

Saturday, 8 November 2014

L's Birthday Present

imageNovember is probably my favourite month of the year because, apart from all the awesome fireworks, it is also my birthday.

So this year, to celebrate my birthday I’m giving away another Olivia Jones inspired charm bracelet.

The chunky link chain includes a cupcake, slice of pizza, a basque, a teapot and a laptop.

To enter, just leave a message in the comments below, on Sunday 9th November and you’ll be entered in the prize draw.

winner will be drawn at random and announced in Monday 10th November.

L's Birthday Present

Friday, 7 November 2014

No, I don't want to pay you to encourage me to write..!

Ever since I posted about NaNoWriMo I’ve been bombarded with cold-emails from PR agencies and such like, with lengthy details about how they support National Novel Writing Month and how they can help me stay on track towards my target of 50,000 words and give me feedback on my story.

I hate these kinds of targeted spamming. For one thing, the excitement I feel when I get an email to my author account is indescribable and these soulless mass mailouts completely kill my buzz.

But the reason it really winds me up is that I just wasted time reading their lengthy email inviting me to visit their website to read even more information, or to get in touch for further details.

You know, if they spent two minutes on my website they’d see that, not only am I not taking part in NaNoWriMo, I’m not even based in the same country as them so why would I want to use them for any PR I might be tempted to pay for?

I’m only 700 words away from 50,000 anyway… But that puts me just past halfway into my novel. I’ll have much more chance of finishing my novel if my time and patience wasn’t being worn down by irritating spammers.

Trust me, People… With a royalty cheque of £14.90 – I cannot afford your services so stop wasting our time and leave me to enjoy my hobby of writing!

No, I don't want to pay you to encourage me to write..!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Quirky Beauty Brigade

Following on from my recent interview with Charlotte Pingriff of Perfectly Cast, the lovely lady has returned the favour and featured an interview with me in her latest Quirky Beauty Brigade newsletter.

You can read the interview (and sign up for her newsletter) here…

Quirky Beauty Brigade

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

National Novel Writing Month

I’ve been following the countdown to the start of NaNoWriMo with much interest and although I’m not officially taking part in the event, I do feel motivated to try and finish my current novel – working title ‘The Double Life of Molly Flockhart’.

I’ve reached that half way point where the story has taken hold and my desire to write is much stronger now than when I first started. I know my characters now, they feel like old friends and I’m curious about whether any of my characters are going to fall in love with each other or whether the antagonist is who he appears to be.

It’s fun writing these stories organically, I am still capable of being surprised by the plot twists because sometimes I’m not really expecting it. I always think I know exactly what is going to happen, but as I start writing conversations I find secrets being shared and plots being twisted without any prior knowledge of my own. It means that although I’m the author, I still get some of the suspense and mystery that my readers will hopefully experience, should this novel ever see the light of day.

But I couldn’t commit to writing a novel in a month. For one thing, my birthday is in November so at least one of my weekends will be lost to alcohol and celebrations. But also, the moment I give myself a deadline, is the moment I start busying myself with other things.

Despite that, I’m going to try and recognise National Novel Writing Month by completing this latest offering. But if I fail, at least no one will be monitoring my progress – besides which, in the UK it’s not NaNoWriMo, it’s National Vegan Month… I’m not observing that either!

National Novel Writing Month