Category: New releases


Holly Forgotten has gone live and is now available for sale at your retailer of choice, holly_text_by_wesley_souza-dcnm0cmhurrah!

First reviews are coming in and it’s looking promising….which is nice.

Starting editing on the fourth book in the series, Holly Awakened, now – the lovely Wes Sousa is working on the cover as we speak, and having seen the initial versions, it’s going to be splendid. Rah!

Scarred artisan-les_ebook

And a giveaway….

Also, to celebrate the release I am doing a paperback giveaway.

The newly-recovered short story The Scarred Artisan (also available for purchase) came with a print cover so although it’s only forty pages long, I did a paperback copy and it’s the sweetest thing! Super for stocking fillers, I may say, and if you want a signed one, you could win it from the giveaway.

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

and good luck!

More soon:

JAC.

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Hiya peeps;

a bit overdue with a blog again, but that’s because I have been;
a) busy
b) laid out on the sofa because I put my back out again.

Work of course is always mad and unforgiving, but happily right now I am very busy with writing. I am working on book 3 of the Sprig of Holly series, which is due to release next week on 1 December.

I am really pleased with the way this story has gone, and I’m busy lining up ARC reviews for it at the moment so if you would like to review it and can commit to leaving a review on 1 December or within a couple of days of that, bring me a comment below and I will add you to the list!

In addition to that, Holly 4 has gone through its first draft and is going into editing. I say it’s going into editing, but that is a little imprecise as technically at the moment I am in contact with the talented Wes Souza to get the next cover done.

Watch this space for details of the reveal!

Holly 4 is going live to preorder, hopefully in time for the release of Holly 3. The story is getting a little bit more twisty and complicated as things start going wrong in the mountains, so I am hopeful that you will enjoy the ride as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

And then there’s Holly 5… Phew! I can hardly wait to introduce you to the next set of characters! I can hardly wait to see Wes’s cover, come to that, but I can’t say much about it because spoilers… 🙂

In any case, it’s always heartening to have a new release, even if it’s only a short story – and the fact that the rest of the Holly series is already written out in at least initial draft is very pleasing.
Working on a little bit of marketing for the release but not huge amounts just yet as with three short stories in a line it’s not really going to get much traction until we have the whole series up. That’s also nice because it takes the pressure off me a little bit. Sadly it also means I’m writing the series at a bit of a loss, but that’s the way of it. Fingers crossed, when the end of it comes out it might start selling a bit and pay for itself.

In addition I am starting to plan out the two Dragon series. I am thinking of starting with the series – currently a trilogy – which will be known as “A Blaze of Dragons”, a group noun for dragons from a 15th century manuscript. Isn’t it cool? I love that.

In any case, I have three of the covers already lined up due to the small but not inconsiderable glitch in cover buying mentioned in earlier blogs, so I have the skeleton of a plan in place and I’m busily fleshing out the bones of it. This is the second half of my NaNoWriMo project, but in all honesty I am not bothered if I don’t make the 50,000 words this year, as a significant chunk of it was spent finishing off Holly 6 (or maybe 7, depends on how the editing pans out) and so it has done what I needed it to. I am still doing chunk of words every day just because I like adding it to the graph, but if I flag before the 30th, I’m quite chilled with what I’ve achieved already.

Looking at my back posts, it strikes me that I have now been dictating for nearly 6 months. Certainly it got a lot easier when I bought the Dragon software (and a halfway decent headset) but it’s an interestingly different way of writing.

For a start, you really do need to plan things, and I have always been a bit of a discovery writer. At first I found it difficult, but actually as time goes on, I find myself still doing the discovery writing but just in smaller chunks – inside the scene rather than plot stuff.

I think verbalising the plot instead of manually typing it is starting to come a little bit easier, and certainly while my back has been bad I have had quite a productive time because whilst lying on the settee I can simply put the headset on and dictate. It makes me feel like Barbara Cartland, only a Barbara Cartland who detests pink, doesn’t write steamy romance, isn’t 300 years old and uses far less ellipses – or at least has far less left in after the final edit! Oh, and also isn’t a millionaire. So almost exactly not like Barbara Cartland…

But it’s quite comforting because although I’d never realised that writing was quite an intense activity, dictating seems to come far more easily. The planning is dull, but the actual dictation session is getting easier every time, and hopefully the editing will become easier as my brain gets up to speed.

Certainly the dictating is getting faster which I put down to a joint effort between my brain getting used to it, and the dictation program software learning more about my accent and the way I use words. It still comes up with nonsense sometimes, and makes me laugh, but usually if it doesn’t get the right word first time, it’s on the list of suggestions.

It’s pretty impressive stuff, and I find myself wondering if in 20 years time we’ll look back on keyboards like we do now on typewriters and faxes – the sort of things where, if somebody’s still using them, it’s a bit of a surprise.

I’m starting to feel as if my writing process is becoming a bit more streamlined. My first book took 10 years to write, and subsequent books have been two or three years in the processing. This is partly because I keep writing other books but then having to cut bits out that turning to other books which is frankly a silly idea, so pinning them down and planning them out seems to keep that process under control a little bit. We shall see.

In any case, as I progress through the Dragon books I hope to ultimately end up back at On Dark Shores in such a way that I can edit it into a sensible order and reissue it along with book 3 and indeed book -1. Because I did so well in the order of writing those books…

I’m also working on editing Song down so that I can change it to its new title sooner rather than later, though the new cover won’t be ready till well into the New Year. (this one is being done by a new designer, and one I haven’t worked with before, so it’s all a bit of an unknown quantity).

So it’s all progress, albeit in tiny steps.

And as part of the Holly 3 release I will probably do some kind of giveaway with paperbacks of Scarred Artisan, if only because they are so cute and will make great stocking fillers so the timing is good to give some away!

There isn’t really much more to add today, so will stop blathering and get on with my next chunk of dictating. Just wanted to check back in and give you the latest goss!

In the meantime, have a great weekend, and Happy Thanksgiving (and indeed Joyous Wolfenoot!) for those who celebrate.
All the best;
JAC.

The Origin Tale of Ghosts of the Sea Moon

Normally I don’t write these “how the book came to be” posts, mostly because when people ask me where I get my ideas I never know what to say. Replying, “um, they pop in my head and I write them down”, doesn’t sound very glamorous or interesting, even if it’s true.

But this particular novel is different, it actually has a story behind the book (and hopefully not a boring one).

It started a couple of years ago with a writing contest. The contest was to write a flash fiction story (fiction under 1000 words) based on a beautiful photo of a ship against a large moon background (you can see the photo here on my Pinterest board).

Being from Nova Scotia, Canada, I’ve always loved the sea and had an interest in ghost stories, and that’s exactly what came to mind when I saw the photo. A ghost story, more specifically a ghost ship story. Tales of ghost ships like the Flying Dutchman fascinate me, so I thought, write a dark tale of a ghost ship. Then the stray idea crept in, “why not make it a ship that ferries ghosts instead”, similar to the Greek myth of Charon and his carrying souls across the river Styx. And so I ran with it, throwing in a bit of “mystical moon magic” as well.

Alas, the story didn’t win the contest, but it did stay with me.

Stayed with me enough that I wanted to expand the story, especially the character of the ship’s captain (that’s why I changed the protagonist in the novel from a sailor to my roguish captain). I sat down at my keyboard and began to write a short story based on the flash fiction piece. Soon I had all these gods and sailors, sea monsters and ghosts yapping in my ear, giving me plot lines and character arcs, and the word count began to creep up. Okay, (I said to myself), so it’s a novella now instead of a short story.

Nope.

The story grew and grew into a full novel. It went from a, just under 400 words, piece to a novel of sea adventure, monsters, and very dysfunctional gods. And didn’t stop there. The narrative now spans across three books, in a series I call the Saga of the Outer Islands. I also have at least two prequel books, two short stories, and a secondary series either planned or in the WIP stage (this is why I nicknamed Ghosts of the Sea Moon the story that wouldn’t die).

I hope you enjoyed the strange and slightly meandering tale of how Ghosts of the Sea Moon came to be written.

Book Info:

Title:Ghosts of the Sea Moon (Saga of the Outer Islands Book 1)

Author: A. F. Stewart

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Publication Date: January 13th, 2018

Paperback Price: $12.99

Digital Price: Pre-order and Release Price $0.99. Will go up to $2.99 on February 14th

Book Page:https://afallonblog.wordpress.com/saga-of-the-outer-islands/

Pinterest Book Series Board:https://www.pinterest.ca/scribe77/saga-of-the-outer-islands/

Book Trailer:https://youtu.be/8cr7tSCeI0A

Ghosts of the Sea Moon Blurb

In the Outer Islands, gods and magic rule the ocean.

Under the command of Captain Rafe Morrow, the crew of the Celestial Jewel ferry souls to the After World and defend the seas from monsters. Rafe has dedicated his life to protecting the lost, but the tides have shifted and times have changed.

His sister, the Goddess of the Moon, is on a rampage and her creatures are terrorizing the islands. The survival of the living and dead hinge on the courage and cunning of a beleaguered captain and his motley crew of men and ghosts.

What he doesn’t know is that her threat is part of a larger game. That an ancient, black-winged malevolence is using them all as pawns…

Come set sail with ghosts, gods and sea monsters.

Buy Links:

Books2Read link (all non-Amazon retailers): https://www.books2read.com/u/ml5GvM

Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078MS397S

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37648721-ghosts-of-the-sea-moon

Author Links:

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/afstewartauthor/

Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/348788975590362/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/scribe77

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/afstewartauthor/

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/1175681.A_F_Stewart

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/a-f-stewart

Website: https://afallonblog.wordpress.com/

Newsletter Signup: http://eepurl.com/OGrTT

Author Bio:

A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author she’s published novels, novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

The Captain

Captain Rafe Morrow paced the quarterdeck of his ship, Celestial Jewel, the signs of an oncoming squall setting him on edge. Blustering wind rattled the sails and the crew’s nerves, their usual jaunty hubbub reduced to grumbling and snipes. Trouble travelled on that wind. Rafe could smell it woven in the air, and his blood prickled with a sense of worry. The ship trembled as if with warning. He glared at the sky and its darkening clouds painted amber and crimson from the setting sun. A storm sky coming ahead of a full moon meant dark magic and sea monsters would prowl the waves this night.

The Moon Goddess will hold sway tonight.

A trickle of blue energy raced across the back of his hand at the thought.

Damn her…and her beasts.

On the breath of a sigh, he whirled to face his crew. “Storm’s coming, boys. Doesn’t bode well, not with the moonrise tonight.”

“How long, Captain? Will we be in the thick of the weather or just what comes after?” A rough-edged sailor, Pinky Jasper, spoke up, but all ears of the deck crew listened for an answer.

“It’s coming within an hour or two, out from Raven Rock, by my reckoning. After nightfall by certain. We’re heading in, boys, but we’ll likely hit the edge of it.” He heaved a breath, exhaling. “It’ll be a bad one even for this crew so expect trouble.”

A shiver of tension settled over the deck. Some of the crew cast worried glances at the sea and each other. Others shivered, and a few more whispered prayers. Storms brought bad memories and nervous anticipation to the sailors of this ship.

“Which port then, Captain?” The mariner at the ship’s wheel chimed in. “Might make Abersythe if we head north.”

“We might, Anders. But we head east. We’ll race the edge of the tempest, but it’s closer and the ship will find better shelter anchored at Crickwell Island.”

“Aye, sir. Laying in course to Crickwell Island.” One-Eyed Anders turned the wheel and the ship’s bones groaned. Others of the crew adjusted the sails, and the Celestial Jewel leaned into her new bearing headed east.

Instafreebie preview (download the first four chapters): https://www.instafreebie.com/free/cu9nx

Firstly-

it’s alright, Christmas can commence – this year’s Christmas Lites anthology has gone live! Here is the rather splendid cover for your delectation:

Regulars will know that every year , with a mixed group of authors I contribute to this anthology in support of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, or NCADV. I love having this opportunity to do something worthwhile with my writing, and hopefully to help people out there who are in dreadful need of support. It has become such an institution that it doesn’t really feel like Christmas till the Lites go up! There are stories of all genres, including some by children, and all the work that has gone into it has been donated free of charge so apart from the charges to cover the cost of production, all proceeds go directly into the NCADV’s bank account. If you’re looking for a varied sampler of some really interesting authors, please consider trying this anthology.

You can find all the various buy-links here: books2read.com/u/3L9Er5, and for anyone would be interested in leaving a review, send me the link to your review and I will happily give you free copies of whichever of my own books you are interested in.

Second point:

To celebrate her latest release, Lindsay Buroker has put together a list of free and cheap books. Sprig of Holly is on the list, and to take a look at the others, drop on over to her website at

http://lindsayburoker.com/free-fiction/free-fantasy-and-science-fiction-novels/

I’ve been a fan of Lindsay’s Emperor’s Edge series for a while now, and am slowly working my way through her prodigious backlist as I have the time, so will be adding this to my TBR.

Her Dragons’ Blood series is now free to download at Amazon or here too, and it’s wide so using the latter link you’ll be redirected wherever you prefer to buy. I just did, and am looking forward to a bit of crafty reading time in the next few days!

She has a new release planned for 26th, of which more later…

For now, though, I wish you a merry and relaxed Christmas.

All the best,

JAC.

Raincheck…

Hey peeps!

So. Phew! Release day over, The Holly & the Ivy launched, A Sprig of Holly at #1 on several different lists in different countries… it’s been fun! A proper run down will follow, but just now I’m doing the last bits of tidy-up and admin.

The giveaway books are being parcelled up and sent across the world in all directions. The bonus material is just going through its last polish before I send it out – and I am pretty pleased with it. It includes: a recipe for Holly’s favourite spiced milk, a behind-the-scenes audio file talking about where the idea for A Sprig of Holly came from and what’s queued up to be written next, and best of all, a short story telling about the run up to the story, told from another character’s point of view. 

I’ve enjoyed putting all that together, but in some ways it’s been a bit of a learning curve – not least as I haven’t done any audio stuff before, so not only did I have to check out what the best equipment and software was for a beginner on a budget, but also I had to work out how to use it and find out whether I could talk unscripted for the right amount of time….! Turns out my early brush with a radio show was not entirely wasted – the problem was actually making the ramble short enough to not crash everyone’s inboxes! 😂

The recipe, as well, was one that I made from scratch, and it took a little time to get the mix of spices just right. I can tell you, I’ll be using that one again though! Mmmmm! Though I say it as shouldn’t….

Of course, with this being exclusive to those who bought before 1st Sept, none of this will be surfacing anywhere else for a while, if ever. Maybe when the Holly series has finished and there’s a box set or something…. so essentially, if you want to read any of this and you bought The Holly and Ivy, get your receipt into me quick! The email address is in the back of the book  but it is jaclement [dot] ondarkshores [at ]gmail.com. Get in quick!

So, apart from that, there will of course be the ongoing round up of deals and giveaways that my stuff is featuring in on the newsletter, which you’re welcome to sign up to if you haven’t already, and once I’ve finished off a couple of outstanding blog posts related to the release, it’ll be time to put together the big overview of what I did, how it went and what next….

…and then onto the next bit of writing of course. But which??

In the meantime, a couple of big deadlines in the dayjob, and the dog has managed to prang himself on a tree at some speed, so is currently sporting one of my tshirts to stop him licking the resultant gouge (far better than a cone, esp given that this is the dog who routinely slides off his own sofa!)

But though life is as frantic as ever, at the moment it feels oddly focused and productive. I feel like someone who’s been trying to carve something with a penknife and someone’s just given me a hammer and chisel… The tools available to us as writers are the moment may well make a huge difference, and I think now is the time to use them – I just need to keep producing the odd short to keep me publishing while I’m working on the longer series. 

Moreover, it turns out I have a genre developing, albeit one with a slightly high-falutin name. You know grimdark, where terrible things happen to everyone and are described in detail and it probably is all going to end with the bad guys winning (my definition!)? Well, it turns out, someone has invented “noblebright”, which sounds a bit po-faced, but as far as I can see, the diff is that whereas bad things can happen, noblebright fiction is characterised by a thread of hopefulness running through it. It’s not as simplistic as good always winning, but sad things can sometimes be the correct outcome too, provided they provide the best outcome. 

There are undoubtedly better definitions than this and unlike Joe Abercrombie who is known as Lord Grimdark, I have no illusions of being dubbed ‘Lady Noblebright’ any time soon (you’d definitely need a robe with stars on in that case, don’t you think?😂) but it’s nice to finally have something to tell people who want to know what I write. Esp as I have written what I wanted to write, and the genre has appeared just in time to fit my stuff! Most obliging!

Anyhow. Also turns out there’s a bit of a market for fairytale retellings and fairytale-like stories, which is the other thing I’ve been playing with with such shorts as The Last Dragon and The Scarred Artisan That’s good as I already had several ideas for more, so these might well be the shorts I work on in between chunks of series stuff.

      

So, it’s been a busy old month but a sharp learning curve, and has left me somewhat cheered. Can’t complain, eh? Anyhow, back to the edits on the bonus material – if you are expecting yours, look for it around the tail end of this week, if not before.

The rest of you, take care. It’s a bit of a grimdark world at the moment, and we fantasy fans need to look out for each other. I sometimes think that when we can’t influence real life, all we as writers can do is to provide an escape for people, and hope that when they set our books down, they have had a little emotional respite from it all, recovered enough of their equilibrium to get through the day, and the next and the next. If that is all we can do for our readers, that’s a pretty powerful gift, not that we will ever know it.

So. Be kind to yourself and others, and stay safe. Whether from fire or flood, or the far off rumble of national hostility, I hope you can all find a safe haven, whether in the real world or fictional ones. 

Take care;

JAC.

Guest post at Barb G Tarn’s blog is here: Barb was one of my early friends on Goodreads, I think from the original Creative Reviews gang.

Release day frivolities will include; 

Giveaway of a rather lovely copy of Jackie Morris’s children’s book The Golden Hare.

Giveaway of paperbacks to the first few people to leave a review for both A Sprig of Holly and The Holly & the Ivy

Details of some outrageously good deals on other books that I have enjoyed

And a solar eclipse we put on, special….

….okay, maybe that wasn’t us, but it’s still going to be cool, okay?

More tomorrow-watch this space!

JAC

Hey people!

So, how’s things? Enjoying the rain? (Hey, I’m in the UK and it’s summer- I’ve just taken my raincoat off!)

Here all is even madder than normal. Apart from that thing that happens sporadically where I end up covering two totally different jobs simultaneously in the dayjob (quick version: if you have a good senior manager I believe you should support them, as there are SO MANY bad senior managers out there) and the sheer non-stop nature of wrangling a large puppy through the day with a minimum of damage, I seem to have suddenly taken it into my head to attempt some marketing and something resembling an actual proper release for Sprig 2 (that’s The Holly & the Ivy, for newbies and random passerby).

So- the date is set for 21st August and all sorts of promotional things are happening in the interim. Watch this space for details of various promos, contact me if you’re up for a review and want an ARC, or if you have any other comments or suggestions for promotional ideas, etc: and if you haven’t signed up to the mailing list, now’s the time to do it as there will be giveaways and bonus material exclusive to the list!


Exciting, huh? Even if I have chosen a cover based around a colour that really clashes with the blog. 😏

Let’s see how it all goes, eh?

Catch you later;

JAC.

Hallo all;

this week we have a treat for you: a guest post by the lovely Vivienne Tuffnell, whose latest book Little Gidding Girl has just released – and last time I looked, all the reviews were 5*….

Having read it myself this very afternoon, I loved it – it’s a very well-written, intriguing story with finely-crafted characters you can really identify with (or really dislike, depending on which one we’re talking about!!). Modern lit is not really my thing but Little Gidding Girl is excellent, and well worth a read.

I asked Vivienne to tell us a bit about her novel for the blog, and here is what she had to say about it.

===========

Coming of age or mid-life crisis? Little Gidding Girl is both and neither.

In trying to place my new novel Little Gidding Girl into those nice neat categories and genres that Amazon offers, I realised that it won’t fit into a convenient box. It has that in common with every other book of mine, too, of course, but I’d had some hopes that with the Holy Grail of having GIRL in the title, it might be a little easier to place. No such luck, eh?

The word GIRL is itself problematic. Many years ago, when I worked for the Nature Conservancy Council (now Wild Britain), I had a colleague who was a very inspiring woman, about fifteen years older than me. She’d served her time at the Greenham Peace Camp and had campaigned on a variety of things to do with conservation, social justice and nuclear disarmament. Indeed, I suspect that I may have been thinking of her when I wrote Cathy (Red Cat), Chloe’s sister, from Square Peg. I remember her frustration and increasing fury when our boss referred to us as GIRLS or worse, LADIES. “We’re women,” she’d declare, and would correct him every single time until he got the message. At 22, I was barely out of girlhood, really, but I was already married, and then pregnant in the second half of my contract, so I agreed and made a mental note that the word GIRL was problematic in so many ways.

But at what point does a GIRL truly become a woman? It’s a tricky question. It’s not got an easy simple answer. In theory, the moment a female enters her majority (in the UK, that’s anywhere between 18 and 21; one can vote at 18 but many other activities are limited to 21 and over), she becomes a woman. In some cultures, it’s at menarche or at first pregnancy, and in some, never in any meaningful legal way.

Verity, the main character of Little Gidding Girl, is 35 when the book starts. She’s married, and mother to a child verging on her teen years, but there’s something extremely youthful about her. Her hair retains the white-blonde colour of youth, and she’s pale to the point of transparency. Her plumpness is more like puppy-fat than middle-age spread and she’s in the process of losing it. She struggles with keeping her daughter in order, and is a bit of a pushover. Her job is one that any recent school-leaver might do, or indeed one that would appeal to a student, and she’s pushed around and bullied by her boss, a woman she was at school with who has become a shrewd and cut-throat business owner. She remains, in essence, a girl, unformed and a strange shadow of what she might have been. She’s frozen in a moment in time that has long gone, yet she herself has not managed to move on with it and become a woman in any of the truly meaningful ways that have nothing to do with voting age or getting into night clubs.

The mid thirties are when the first signs of mid-life can manifest, often as restlessness and dissatisfaction with how life has turned out. The average age for the classic mid-life crisis (in men, characterised by the cliché of buying a sports car or getting a new, younger, trophy-type wife or girlfriend) is 42, coincidentally also the number chosen as the meaning of life (if you’re a fan of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). At thirty-five, Verity is a little young for such a crisis but her world has changed, tilted on its axis by the death of her grandfather. Since he was the constant, rock-like figure in her life, his loss is surely a factor in triggering the change in Verity; she and her little family move into his house, left to her, and that too catapults her unconsciously into reviewing her life so far.

The novel is the story of how a girl might become a woman, when the passage of years has done nothing to bring about this change, because the flow of life that should have heralded that coming-of-age, has been dammed up and time, in a strange sense, has stopped. In the opening lines of Burnt Norton from Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot talks speculatively about the nature of time, postulating that if all time is eternally present, time is itself unredeemable. In effect, Verity’s exploration of her life and how it stalled, is a process of disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose leaves. Yet the echoes created by her searching unconsciously become more and more real and more and more disturbing as the cracks in time start to reveal a life she never lived.

At seventeen, Verity lost the future she’d craved when Nick, her enigmatic and troubled poet boyfriend, drowned at sea. At thirty-five, in a safe, humdrum and uninspired life, she finds that snatches of the life she didn’t have begin to force their way into her real life. This other life, more vivid and demanding than her actual life, begins to gather a terrible momentum as she starts to understand that her un-lived life was not the poetic dream she had imagined it might be. Doubting her own sanity as her other life comes crashing down around her in a series of disasters, Verity is forced to re-examine her past, realign her present and somehow reclaim a future where both her own early creative promise and her family can exist and flourish together. Exploring the nature of time itself, the possibilities of parallel universes and the poetic expressions of both, Verity searches to understand why and how Nick really died and what her own lives, lived and un-lived, might truly mean.

Little Gidding Girl

= = = = =

Many thanks to Viv for coming out to play on the blog today. Little Gidding Girl is available in Kindle and paperback from Amazon, and having read and thoroughly enjoyed it myself, I can heartily recommend that you go buy it now!

Other than that, all progresses this side as ever, which is to say: slowly. Holly & Ivy is due to go out for betaing any minute, with hopefully a view to publishing in the next month or so. Flight is on hold till that is done and Wolf stuff cued up after that.

New Dog is being just as obstructive as he can, though he has a splendid habit of bringing me his favourite watering can at any moment when it is highly inconvenient. I have stopped putting water in it now…! With which image I shall love you and leave you.

Now go and buy Little Gidding Girl, quick – you’ll want the weekend to binge on it!

J.

 

Progress check

Har. Posts overdue, due to my apparent inability to tell the diff between the  Preview button and the actual Publish one…. I might be a bit tired but plus side, it’s a while since I caught myself putting the Fairy Liquid in the fridge so on balance I’m classing it as “weary” rather than gibberingly knackered. And my autocorrect is off on one today so it was surprisingly complicated to actually get that sentence right….!

So. Currently sitting on the sofa watching the dog, who is lying upside down and wagging in his sleep. Being a Lurcher this is a rare sign of approval so I’d like to think he was dreaming about the pack humans coming home, though in all fairness he tends to greet us with mild approval. The Sainsburys delivery man, on the other hand, virtually gets a ticker tape parade ever since the time they substituted chicken flavoured treats for his Dentastix. I was just explaining that Dog is not a big fan of chicken when he slunk up between us, delicately poked his snout into the carrier bag, retrieved the packet of treats and slunk away to his bed where he spent some time fiddling with the packaging. Then he brought it back, dropped it at my feet, nudged me and stared pointedly at it.

The Sainsburys man said “It’s terrible when they’re so fussy,” (chortling to himself). So we agreed that it might perhaps be an acceptable swap on this occasion and Dog has greeted him with glee ever since….

Returning to the point, however!

Progress. It’s about to slow because I’m cutting back on all the late night work I do after OH has gone to bed. This is mostly because I can only manage 4h sleep a night for so long before I start walking into things, and my day job needs a certain level of alertness right now, so trying to keep it low level and ongoing at sustainable levels. Yep, it’s exactly as frustrating as it sounds!

However. Currently moving towards the last part of a fairly substantial edit on Wolf book 1 which seems reasonably settled around 118k words, so will probably end up nearer 110k after the editors get their scalpels on it. I’m currently thinking that as this is the most standalone of the lot, getting this one out separately might not be a bad thing provided I keep writing the others which will need to come out at regular intervals.

Also a few last edits to put in place and I might have Holly & the Ivy coming up to being ready – anyone not already on the ARC list who wants to be, give me a shout.

The cover is now done and with a bit of luck I’ll be able to do you a “process blog” like the one for Sprig. Next time, eh? 

So. Onwards! Dog to walk one last time for the evening and then I’m calling it a day. Have a good evenin, all….

Take care & catch you later;

JAC

Hi all:

Today we have a bit of a treat for you – a guest post and giveaway from Vered Ehsani, original member of the Creative Reviews group and co-participator in the Christmas Lites charity anthologies. Vered writes fascinating, unusual paranormal novels set around African mythology and for a short time only, you can download some for free! Details below….

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What happens when Lara Croft meets Jane Austen in colonial Africa? You get the USA Today bestselling “Society for Paranormals”, a delightful cozy mystery series in which a paranormal investigator refuses to let danger, death and unwanted suitors inconvenience her in the small town of Nairobi. Vered explains why she wrote the series:

Having lived in Kenya since mid-2000, I wanted to write about my home. I noticed a distinct lack of books about African mythology and paranormal creatures (apart from Egyptian ones), so I decided to do something about that. Miss Knight, the main character of the “Society for Paranormals” series, seemed the best person to accompany me on that journey. After all, we share a few likes (tea, archery and exploring) and dislikes (wet dogs, giant bugs and naughty monkeys).

When I began researching for the series, I was impressed at the paranormal diversity in Eastern, Southern and Western Africa. Here are a few of my favorites.

Called a ghost, demon or ogre, the Popobawa attacks people at night while they sleep, instilling terror in whole villages along the East African coastline and islands. The name is derived from the Swahili words for “bat” and “wing”, as its wings have a bat-like appearance. The Popobawa shape-shifts into human form during the day. At night, when it attacks, it changes into a man-sized bat with gigantic wings, talons, pointy ears and one eye in the center of its forehead.

The Tokolosh is a brown, hairy three-foot high dwarf. It speaks with a lisp and is usually naked. There are several stories regarding the origin of the Tokolosh, but they all result in a rather disagreeable beast. Some claim it is a dwarf zombie which can be created by following this simple recipe: 1) remove the eyes and tongue from a full-sized corpse; 2) stick a heated iron rod into the skull in order to shrink the corpse; 3) blow a secret powder into its mouth, giving it life and obedience to its creator.

I’d always thought fireflies were romantic, until I heard of the Adze. A vampire in the legends of the Ewe people of West Africa, it moves about as a firefly. In its human form, the Adze will attack and eat your organs. When in its insect form, the Adze will suck your blood while you sleep, and in doing so spread diseases. Its preferred victims are unfortunately young children. And for those victims who survive, they suffer again by becoming a witch possessed by the Adze’s spirit. Unlike European vampires, the Adze has no fear of the sun.

The first book in the series, Ghosts of Tsavo, is free, as is the prequel and a beginner’s guide to African supernatural beings; pick up your copies from http://veredehsani.co.za/free-books/.


As if that’s not awesome enough, you can pick up 8 books for $2.99! On 29 January, Stones of Nairobi (the seventh book in the series) will be released. Everyone who buys a copy in the first 48 hours of its launch will also get free access to seven more books. For all the details on this time-sensitive deal, go to http://veredehsani.co.za/books/stones-of-nairobi/

Enjoy this excerpt from Stones of Nairobi:

A cool dampness enveloped us as we descended into the tomb but it wasn’t a pleasant relief from the humid heat above. Moist slime soiled the walls. The air clung to my skin with hints of moldering bones and unpleasant secrets. In a few steps, we were entirely swallowed by earth and shadows. The opening above our heads provided us only the dimmest illumination. Still, as the tomb we entered was not so big, it was sufficient for the purpose.

A sarcophagus filled most of the space. Carved out of a single chunk of coral, it had similar engravings on the side as the stone above it. The outline of an unusually tall man protruded out of the lid, the carved features of the face sombre and stern.

“Do we need to launch into poetry again to open this lid?” I inquired. “Or will a song and dance suffice?”

Smirking, Koki replied almost affectionately, “Insolent human.”

Approaching the sarcophagus, she gestured to me to join her. Wordlessly, we both pushed on the lid. Despite its size, it wasn’t as heavy as it appeared. I could only thank the porosity of coral for that one consolation. In preparation for the fumes that would certainly exit around us, I ceased breathing through my nose and, as the lid crashed onto the other side, I held my breath entirely.

Peering down, we came to the same realization at the same instant: Liongo’s body was gone.

“Well, how inconsiderate,” I said as I turned to Koki. “It’s one thing to drag me half way across the country to this desolate, dreary and uncomfortable isle. It’s quite another to do so for no purpose at all.”

Bewilderment was a rare, if impossible, mood for Koki and yet, in that moment, it clouded her countenance thoroughly. “I don’t understand. The body is supposed to be here.”

A glimmer caught my attention. I leaned over the edge of the sarcophagus, its cool stone pressing into my waist, and studied the phenomena through my glasses.

“There’s more writing here,” I said and read the inscription. “Cool water.” Straightening up and removing my glasses, I scoffed, “There’s nothing cool around here.”

“It’s the Maasai name for Nairobi,” Koki said, her smug smile reasserting itself. “Enkare Nairobi. Cool water. His body must have been moved there, to protect him from his enemies.”

Before we could continue discussing the whereabouts of a corpse, a deep, throaty, snarling growl vibrated around me, its volume equivalent to an entire pride of lions growling together. The earth vibrated just as we heard an explosive crashing above our heads. Bits of coral and dust loosened and fell upon our upturned faces. Something large covered the opening to the tomb.

In the resulting darkness, I heard Koki sigh.

“What is that?” I demanded, hefting my walking stick in preparation.

Koki replied in a bored tone, “That, dear Miss Knight, is why the island is deserted.”

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Many thanks for that, Vered, and best of luck for the launch tomorrow! 

Go and find your free copies, peeps! Certainly I am about to do so. Next week we’ll be back to the usual ramblings from me; in the meantime have a lovely weekend, and here’s that link to Vered’s website again, so you don’t need to scroll back up for it:http://veredehsani.co.za/books/stones-of-nairobi/ (See how I spoil you…!)

Happy reading, and if you have questions or comments for Vered, please comment below. 

JAC.