Tag Archive: christmas


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.

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December, you sly dog…

Good grief, how has it got to be December? One minute I’m working on a late summer release, the next we’ve got Christmas looming on the horizon!

So. This year’s been mad, again… good and bad, but another in the line of outrageously busy years careering down the track one after another. I started off reasonably well-organised, got over the usual winter burnout and then March hit us with the unexpected loss of our beloved old lurcher Jack, then a fortnight later the first anniversary of my Dad’s death, then a fortnight later than that the loss of one of the older inlaws, and all the emotional chaos that involved.

After Easter things calmed down a bit, though I was ceaselessly scouring the rescue websites for our next dog. Eventually we found him- he’s an absolute love now but at first he was very hard work, and quite draining to deal with. However, in the quest to work out how best to make a life that would work for him and us, we’ve made some really lovely friends, to the extent that even at half six on a dark and drizzly November night, a walk in the freezing cold isn’t a big imposition because he gets to see his little whippety mate and I get to catch up with my friend too.

So Summer was spent mostly walking the dog, and this was a time of skyhigh productivity; two self-edits and first editor’s edit on the first Wolf book, finishing and first edits on the second Wolf book, another set of edits and chronology fix to Flight, a rejig of the formatting of Song, a tidy up on Sprig and the release of its sequel The Holly & the Ivy, a lot of work on publicity and the mailing list – I was working like a demon! Not that you guys will know as there hasn’t been that much new stuff out, but it was a really productive season.

And then came winter, and with it the traditional burnout. It’s interesting really; it’s taken me this long into what I laughingly call a career to work out just how closely it seems to be related to daylight, but it does seem that as the days get longer I go into hyperdrive and do loads, and then as they grow shorter again the fuel fails. I switch from output to input at some point in November and then it’s low output and general maintenance till spring again. The only exception to this is the annual Christmas Lites anthology, which I have never missed taking part in, though a couple of times it’s been pretty close to the wire!

So once again, here I am, mentally coasting while my subconscious refills with twistiness from reading, talking, watching tv. Trying to catch up on sleep and wishing I could hibernate. Looking at the clock and wondering why 9pm seems late in winter and so much earlier in summer, despite the much-reviled 04:40 alarm call which is constant all year round, worse luck.

On the one hand it can be really frustrating. Some times you feel as if you’re wasting so much time on real life when if you just had a decent run up at writing you could maybe achieve something… But on the other, I have been at this for long enough now to have realised that there’s no point in getting frustrated. Like many things, it is a case of showing up every day, of continuing to put one foot in front of another, even if the steps are so tiny that it doesn’t seem that you are getting anywhere.

You keep showing up. You write it, or edit it, or think about it, or study the industry, or consider the cover art, or schedule the publicity stuff, or just set aside a specific amount of downtime to recharge before the next push; but you always go back to it, and you keep on going. There are no easy wins, and no quick successes and sometimes you wonder why you’re doing it when you’re not even getting anywhere; but the thing is, you are making progress, even when it’s so small that it doesn’t feel like it, and once in a while you get to look back and realise that big things have actually happened.

That happened to me this autumn when I was clearing files and programmes of my beloved old netbook, now too old to be compatible with the software I use. Going through the Uninstall list was like a trip down Memory Lane – the FTP client I installed to put pictures on the website, the MobiCreator software from Amazon with the Spider opensource programme for editing html so I could be sure my TOC.ncx (tabbable table of contents) worked, when the software didn’t put it on automatically… the days that took me, trying to get it right! Thank goodness we don’t have to do that any more! I had forgotten how much everything has changed.

For instance, in 2009 when I started to work on my first book, I had to teach myself hand-encoding and the file was functional but so ugly; now I use Vellum, and I can produce professional-level files (so long as I watch out for spellcheck – never the fantasy writer’s friend!) which are pretty to look at. I love that. In 2009, my typing was much slower and less accurate, so if I had an hour free, I couldn’t use it so well, and my nice little netbook took ten minutes to wake up and another five to log off, which ate into my lunch hour typing slot considerably. And I hadn’t discovered cloud storage, so if your computer died, that was pretty much it – your novel went roaring into the void with anything else on the hard drive.

In 2009, if you didn’t have Photoshop, you were likely to end up with a really horrendous cover. I was lucky enough to find talented friends, and this is still an element I outsource for most of my files: but some of the shorts that don’t need some overtly fantastical cover, I can put together something reasonably respectable myself, using the font I have chosen by way of branding, with a modicum of mucking about with pictures, and it might not be inspired, but I’m not ashamed to use it until such time as I can fund a professional cover. Which is all to say; the world is making more opportunities, and I am learning more with every new publication. In highly convenient manner, the world has even invented my genre, even if “noblebright” is a daft name!

So though I don’t spend a lot of time looking back, once in a while it is salutary to remind yourself that even the the way ahead doesn’t really look much shorter than it ever did, in actual fact you have come on further than you know. Baby steps they might be, but even baby steps will carry you along eventually, and although it isn’t exciting it is sustainable; that’s important.

They always say that this game isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Certainly walking the line between production and burnout can be a bit on the complex side, especially if real life declines to play along. I have found that the trick is to take it one day at a time. If one day the thing you want to do doesn’t work, try something else and something else. If nothing works, leave it be and come back tomorrow. There’s something a bit freeing about that, somehow, because you only ever have today to work with, and every day is a reset.

To go at it full bore is too involved for me: the highs and lows are draining, whereas when it all gets a bit workaday you’re set for the long run. But again, that’s quite freeing. For instance, I rarely check my sales any more, such as they are, because that is out of my hands and so not within my remit. I don’t need the reinforcement of sales numbers to prove my own worth as a writer to myself now (probably just as well!) not because my books are flying off the shelves, but because that is outside of what I wanted to achieve.

And what did I want to achieve? Well, I wanted to write books that people enjoyed reading, and the majority of feedback suggests that people do enjoy them. I wanted to make books that were as professional-looking as possible, and that will always be a work in progress, but tech is on my side there. I’d like to spend a lot more time writing, and eventually I will but I don’t think it will be any time soon; so I keep taking baby steps until I get there too. Every step is a teeny tiny bit nearer, and I’m pretty much okay with that. I believe that opportunities do come sometimes, but only when you’ve earned them. Slow and steady sounds so much more likely than the bolt of lightning/overnight bestseller approach.

So that’s my mission this year and next; work on the backlist, keep an eye out for opportunities and make sure that when the next one comes, I’m in a place to be able to benefit from it. That’s not a small task, either… but it feels achievable, real life permitting, even enjoyable though it will be hard work.

Well. This has turned out to be a rather more introspective blog than intended, but a busy month beckons, so though it’s a bit early for an actual real end of year summary, I guess that’s what must happened… So how has your year gone? Do you feel you have achieved what you wanted to, or has life got in the way? And back in 2009, when I was cursing because the quotation marks were curly and they needed to be straight ones (or vice versa, it’s been a while!) what were you up to, and did you know it would bring you to where you are now? Let’s hear what the rest of you have been up to then!

I’ll probably pop up again in another week or so to talk about this year’s Christmas Lites anthology, but in the meantime, I hope your December is kind and not too stressful, and that the run up to Christmas fills you with anticipation and pleasure rather than dread!

Take care, all:

JAC.

A Passel of Teeny Reviews Part 1

Ooh, look! A nice review of “The Locket” from CNC Books Blog. NB it’s at the end so you’ll need to click through to the blog.

Thanks to Lelia for taking the time to review it- much appreciated!
JAC

Buried Under Books

Once again, big surprise, I find myself with
an overload of books read but not yet reviewed
so I think it’s time for a roundup or two.

Don’t Get Mad, Get Even
Colin Goodwin
2QT Limited, July 2015
ISBN 978-1-910077-60-3
Trade Paperback

This book had me chuckling quite a bit with its premise—blackmailing an English village’s cricket club to either win  a trophy or lose its playing ground. Along with this audacious crime, we have village ladies who truly appreciate the hired ringer’s skills and a shady real estate development plan. It’s all great fun even with sabotage and perhaps a little murder.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cat in an Alphabet Endgame
The Midnight Louie Mysteries #28
Carole Nelson Douglas
Wishlist Publishing, August 2016
ISBN 978-1-943175-05-5
Trade Paperback

I confess, I put off reading this as long as I possibly could, so long I’m really embarrassed but…

View original post 620 more words

Hello everyone,

I trust you’re all getting into the festive spirit and happily ploughing your way through ladles of eggnog and oodles of books.  Just wanted to introduce myself as the newest member of the Weasel Green Press team.  I’ll be helping JA with sundry admin-y type things, a little bit of proofreading and sprucing up our online presence during the early part of 2017 so that she can concentrate on what she does best, doting on hubby and lurcher writing stories that entertain, whisk us off to imaginary lands and generally keep us on the edges of our seats.

This Christmas season we’ve been working on her short story, The Locket, which is available for pre-order with an arrival date of Christmas Eve. So far we have not done a cover reveal so here it is:

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I hope a few of you at least find it in your virtual stockings come Christmas morning.  In the new year it will be all systems go with Sprig of Holly sequel, The Holly & the Ivy which we hope to release early in January so do look out for those.

A little bit about me – my reading habits tend towards the classics, modern American literature, anything that rips the old heart out and the giants of fantasy and sci-fi such as Tolkien and Asimov.  I’m also oddly well read in WWII novels on account of stealing most of my reading matter from my big brother who is a bit of a WWII boffin.  But enough about me.

I hope you all receive the books you’re pining for this Christmas and get enough down time to breathe a sigh of relief at the close of this rather singular year whilst indulging in a new work or returning to an old favourite.

Have a good one folks and I wish you all an enlightening and peaceful new year.

Mary

(the funniest and indeed funnest member of the WGP team)

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Morning peeps!

And here is a particularly splendid post for you all to enjoy. As you know, I have a short story named “A Sprig of Holly”. It was written for the first Christmas Lites charity anthology back in 2012, a sweet little adventure / romance written in the style of a Scandinavian folk tale (way, way before Frozen made it trendy. Afterwards I released it as a freebie with the hopes of spreading the word about the anthology a bit – all four of the current Christmas Lites anthologies are written in support of the NCADV, the American National Coalition against Domestic Violence.

Now as it was only an ebook, I bodged a cover until such time as I could get a decent one done, and that bodged cover was this:

(you may laugh, now I’ve got a better one). Sprig of holly bodge cover

 

But despite this non-splendidness, this little story has grown and grown in popularity until it has become the most frequently-downloaded text I’ve uploaded.

Now for a while I have been playing with the idea of doing a couple of  illuminated copies of some of the more fairytale of my stories, and I’ve been looking for a decent artist who might be able to do the illustrations. Someone suggested I should go and look on deviantart and I have to say, there are a lot of talented people on there. One of these is Wesley Souza, and he agreed to do an ebook cover for Sprig. Now, the development of this cover has been really interesting and I totally love the end result, so come with me on a journey through time and space (or at least through the last week or so) and let me show you just how talented an artist I have accidentally found.

So this is what we started with. I described Greta, a girl who lives with her grandfather in a cabin in the mountains, and the snowmaiden, a  figure that Greta carves from snow. We looked at a few varied possibilities for Greta, but this was the best and the most striking visually. The blue lady behind had the right kind of remoteness for the snowmaiden.

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This settled, Wesley began to work his magic. First he put them on the right kind of background, a snowy mountain landscape.

IMG_1119Then he put in a sunrise behind the mountain…

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After that he did some work on Greta’s hair….

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Followed by the snowmaid’s hair, and Greta’s sprig of holly…..
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After that, look at the details of the trees in front of the snowmaid’s skirt…

IMG_1123And then the snowmaid’s body, as of course she is made of snow (and I love the details of  the frost-patterns on her arms and face).
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Finally we discussed font; placement, choice of styles, and colour. We played about a bit until it was right, and he added the sparkles, just to make it more magical. So are you ready? Because here is my gorgeous new cover, for your delectation:

 

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For anyone who’d like to read more, it’s free at Smashwords and should be at Amazon here: http://getBook.at/Sprig .

Also, go check out the rest of Wesley’s stuff at Deviantart here: http://wesley-souza.deviantart.com/  as it’s pretty exceptional!

So what do you think, peeps? Better than my homegrown effort, no?

hehehehe.

JAC.

People!

Image courtesy of Angela Yuriko Smith

It’s that time of year again! the snow is falling on my blog, the Christmas tree pics are all over Facebook, and this year’s edition of our fabulous charity anthology, Christmas Lites 3, is now available on Amazon!

Some links are:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

and the paperback is currently available from Createspace

More sites are going live as we speak so if you prefer others, please do search in case it’s live and we just haven’t had confirmation of it yet!

Having had a sneak peek myself, I can tell you there are some absolutely stunning stories in there – and for those who knew the lovely and much-missed author C.S Splitter, there is a page of tributes to the man who was first to suggest that we should put together an anthology, and suggested that the charity we donate the proceeds to should be one that dealt with domestic violence.

Once again, all funds from the three Christmas Lites anthologies go straight into the bank accounts of the NCADV, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which acts as an umbrella organisation providing training and funding to all the smaller DV-related charities in the US.

I know I’ve told you this before, but when we were setting up the first Christmas Lites anthology, Splitter told us a story of how, one year, he was nominated Santa for his office party. He hired the costume, bought a bag of candy canes and headed off for the place where the party was; but he got a bit lost along the way, and ended up at an odd little building. He walked in, and there was a fair amount of fuss. How he’d got in he didn’t know, because there is normally a lot of security around a safe-house, but he apologised profusely.

During the course of the discussion he found out that all these women had fled violence in the days preceding, and were living in terror of being found by the people who should most care for them in the world. They had fled, in some cases with nothing other than their children and the clothes on their backs. For them, Christmas would not be a magical time of loving togetherness, of snuggling on the sofa watching TV in that fairly terrible sweater Auntie Ethel knitted, or of laughing over a criminally large turkey dinner. For them, Christmas was huddling together in a strange house, too numb to even wonder how to put the pieces of their lives back together.

It was very quiet. The building was full of children, but children who had learned the wisdom of being as quiet as possible. All of them knew – KNEW – that Santa was not coming down the chimney that year – and yet, Splitter realised that even though all he had in his sack was candy canes and sweets, at least  there was one thing that he could do for them.

And so they took him into the main lounge where everyone was sitting, and he boomed “Ho ho ho! A Merry Christmas to one and all!” and was besieged by delighted kids who all got a candy cane. It wasn’t much, but to them that solitary piece of stripy peppermint was a little bit of Christmas, and it meant a lot to them.

All of them wanted to talk to Santa, and he ended up stopping for a couple of hours, rather than the twenty minutes he had imagined. By the time he got to the office party, it was pretty much over. Drinks had been drunk, the mistletoe had been thoroughly invoked, and there wasn’t much of the evening left; but the boss had noticed his absence and was sober enough to enquire. He told her the story, and she went quiet, very quiet.

The following day was Christmas Eve, and Splitter was somewhat unimpressed to get a call from his boss asking him to come into work, but  she was a Jewish lady and didn’t celebrate Christmas so there was no particular reason for her to take time off either. Besides, he had been thinking he might be in trouble for being late to the party, so he didn’t quibble. He arrived at work to find the boss waiting in the carpark with the boot of her car full of toys. She apologised for interrupting his Christmas, but explained that she needed him to show her where the shelter was so that she could make her delivery. Splitter went with her back to the shelter, and helped her to unload sack after sack after sack of toys. They asked the pair to come in and help distribute them to the children, and from the way he told the story, the way those kids’ eyes lit up stayed with him for a long, long time afterwards.

So this is why we put together our anthology every year. For everyone who has ever been the victim of violence, or the survivor of it: this is for you. For every mother who has had to grasp the remnants of her shattered courage in two hands, and walk out of the door into the great unknown because it was the only way she could protect her children: this is for you. For every child who has lain awake listening for heavy footsteps and raised voices and the terrible slap of fist on flesh: this is not how it should be, and this is for you.

This is our attempt to make something which will help all of you, by helping to keep the shelters open so that there is a place you can run to, by helping to train the people so that they know how to help you, by helping to fund the organisations so that they can provide you with another set of clothes, a travel ticket to another place, whatever.

For us – or certainly for me – Christmas is a time of joy and laughter, of relaxing with loved ones, and enjoying the togetherness of cooking and eating, and of watching really old films or falling asleep on the sofa, of giving silly presents and useful presents and clever presents and apt presents, and of using this time to really appreciate the wonderful people with whom I am surrounded, and my incredible good luck in the places and circumstances in which I live.

This being the case, I wish just such a fun, goodnatured Christmas to all of you.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better get back to ODS.  But I might have a little re-read of a couple of the stories in the anthology first.. just one, or maybe two. Well, maybe three…

Catch you later peeps!

JAC

Dear all:

I know you’re waiting impatiently for Book 3, and regular readers will know that THAT journey has proved… sticky. (Currently about to hit 80 thousand words though, so it’s progressing nicely. A while more before it’s finished though – well you did request something lengthier!)

However, in the meantime, while I’m writing Book 3 and editing Song (for the Parallels series) here is a little snippet of gossip to be going on with – this year’s Christmas Lites anthology is on its way, and due to be released in the next few days! RAH!

The cover many of you will have seen already, but I’m going to post both cover and title illustration because I can! And below is a little more detail about the book itself – twenty-one short stories from twenty great authors (and me!) and I cannot WAIT to get my copy for the Smugshelf (home of my own paperbacks).

So if you’re looking for a Christmas present for a loved one, a great read, or simply the opportunity to do a bit of good at Christmas, watch this space, because Christmas Lites III is coming, and this time it’s personal!!

= = = = = = = = = = =

The Christmas season is upon us yet again. Yes, my friends, it is a time of giving, loving, and sharing.

Within these pages is a way you can help many people desperately in need of love, support, and goodness: the victims of domestic crime. By purchasing any of the “Christmas Lites” anthologies, you are sending every last dime made off this book to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The NCADV is an amazing charity that saves these people and lets them know there is still hope, still goodness, and still a reason to carry on.

This is our third year, and twenty-one authors have joined in Christmas Lites III, giving their time and their stories to these people – and to you. We all hope you enjoy our holiday tales captured in bite-size pieces. Whether you read this on the bus, before bed, or snuggled by the fire, please, do read – and share.

Authors in this anthology:

Addison Moore
A.F. Stewart
Amy Eye
Angela Yuriko Smith
Ben Warden
Cassie McCown
Elizabeth Evans
J.A. Clement
JG Faherty
Jonathan Tidball
M.L. Sherwood
Monica La Porta
Ottilie Weber
Patrick Freivald
Phil Cantrill
Robert Gray
Ron C. Neito
S. Patrick Pothier
Tricia Kristufek
Vered Ehsani
*Brandon Eye bonus story

Editor/compiler: Amy Eye of The Eyes for Editing www.theeyesforediting.com

Cover Design Kyra Smith
Title page Design Crystal Bozeman Clifton
Link to the charity: www.ncadv.org

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Hey all!

Sorry for the long silence – I’ve been busy writing, editing and writing some more!

Book 2 will now bw called “The Other Nereia” and “The Mother” will be book 3 (just as you all requested!). Editing is ongoing – hopefully book 2 will be online before Christmas and the paperback version of 1&2 is due out in Spring 2012.

In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for my short story “A Sprig of Holly” in the charity anthology “Christmas Lites” – this is an anthology of short stories written, edited and generally put together by authors, editors, and other members of the Creative Reviews group on Goodreads and is due out in time for Christmas, with all proceeds to go to NCADV, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

More details to follow…watch this space!

Also:

later in the year, an interview with Cambria Hebert, author of the imminent release Masquerade.

This should be a good one, so I’m really looking forward to finding out what she has to tell us about her writing, her radio show and where on earth she first came across toilet snakes….

More later!

JAC