Friday, 31 January 2014

Running to Help Children With Partial Sight, Mark Honeyman

Today on my Blog, I am steering away from books, authors and all things to do with publishing. What! I hear you cry! Well, there is a very good reason because I want you to meet a man who is determined to make a difference to children who have not been blessed with good or even poor eyesight.

My special guest sitting round my pool is, Mark Honeyman, until now you have probably never heard of him. Mark is an ordinary guy who is going to run the 2014 London Marathon raising funds for Children who are blind or partially sighted. I know what it is like to live with someone who has visual disability; I live with a wonderful person who suffers from very poor sight and has done for over twenty years.  For the marathon we have sponsored Mark, but more importantly I wanted to share what Mark is working to achieve. With his feisty determination and your help, Mark will complete the London Marathon and help partially sighted children. Here's what Mark said when I fired questions at him….

What made you run the London marathon?

A couple of years ago I decided to take my fitness more seriously, and entered a local marathon as a goal to set for myself. I did that and so set another, carried on training, set another and so on...last June I was looking at far flung marathons to enter as a new challenge, and a saw an advert for London, not quite the far flung I had in mind, but it's one of the biggest, most broadcasted and apparently one of the most enjoyable, all in my nation's capital, why not?

Why did you choose to raise funds for V.I.C.T.A.?

We needed a charity to run for, in order to secure a place for London and I wanted to be able to run for a charity that helps blind and partially sighted people. As we were looking my partner suggested helping children, it was then we saw on the list V.I.C.T.A, a charity that helps blind and partially sighted children and young people, perfect!

Can you tell us a little about your chosen charity?

V.I.C.T.A stands for visually impaired children taking action, and they aim to do just that.
They help blind children, young people and their families in a variety of different ways, including social gatherings so children and families can interact with each other on days out and even holidays, of course all of this costs money. Fund raising is important to organisations like V.I.C.T.A.

How are you fund raising?

A number of things and one is answering these questions, Pauline, thanks for asking them! My target is £1,250 and that is a minimum and it's not easy, but in some form or another every moment of my life is geared towards London at the moment. From training to the planning of the trip and fund raising forms the most important part of this marathon. It takes up a large chunk of time and effort. Up to now donations have come in from family, friends, colleagues etc. but I'm only half way, so I need to encourage more people to support me to help V.I.C.T.A In other words I need the donations to keep coming in.  To help with this, I've also organised a raffle with great prizes kindly donated by a number of great companies. I'm hoping this will be a significant contribution to the eventual total. I am very luck, my partner, Sabrina has given me a big hand in the raising money side of it, and that's been a massive help.

And finally tell us about your training programme?

My training programme at the moment has yet to go into intense, I have been training and hard, following a schedule, while I will always push myself, my current level of fitness thanks to my previous challenges has put me in a better position for the London marathon, and so far I'm find it less trying. I'm currently running 3-4 times a week one of those is a long run of about 2hrs 30, as well as 1-2 days conditioning. This programme will increase to 5 days running, 1 day conditioning and the long run of about 3:30 minutes, with only one rest day! All this as we get closer to the big day!

Thank you so much Mark for taking a breather to come and sit round my pool talking about this fantastic challenge. Good luck and we'll be cheering you on every step of the way.
If you feel you can help Mark and V.I.C.T.A. please click on Mark's page at the London Marathon / Virgin Money Giving.

And as always, thank you to you for visiting my Blog, I hope you have enjoyed meeting the determined, Mark Honeyman.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Sitting Round My Pool - IndieBRAG Founder, Geri Dunlap Clouston

Today I have the wonderful Geri Dunlap Clouston sitting round my pool. 'Geri thanks for digging yourself out of the deep snow we all hear you are suffering. Please settle down in the sun because I am dying to learn all about IndieBRAG and why you founded this amazing group.'
I know you as the President of IndieBRAG, what is IndieBRAG?

B.R.A.G. stands for Book Readers Appreciation Group, indie of course tells you we read self-published books.  Our reading team now is approaching 200 in 12 countries (we are always looking for more!)  A unanimous decision by a group reading a specific book earns a book a B.R.A.G.Medallion and we then try to shine a light on this worthy book.

You are the founder, what inspired you to create IndieBRAG?

While attending a self-publishing book event several years ago, I realized that once an author wrote and published a book, he or she had a very hard time rising above the avalanche of other SP books. After doing some research, I discovered that about 90-95% of SP books are considered by publishing industry ‘experts’ not to be worth a reader’s time and money. It was then that I decided to create indieBRAG in order to discover new and talented indie authors and help them promote their work. And with regard to the industry projections, we are finding this to be quite accurate – only about 10% of the books nominated to indieBRAG are awarded our B.R.A.G. Medallion.

Who are involved in the Group?

Our reading group is made up of ordinary people with a passion for reading―not editors, publishers, or literary experts. These are readers who love a good story and enjoy a well-written book, one that will not disappoint them.

Can you tell us about your BRAG Awards

Our process involves an initial screening of all nominated books to ensure that they meet certain minimum standards of quality and content. If a book passes this screen, it is then sent out to readers who have indicated an interest in that particular genre. The readers evaluate the book based on a number of relevant criteria and the final factor they use to judge it is whether they would recommend to their best friend.  If the group unanimously says “yes”, we honour it with our B.R.A.G.Medallion. Our readers do not have any contact with the author, or know who else is reading the book. We feel this is important so that they can make a decision without any influence from the author, other readers, or us at indieBRAG.  We do not make public the titles of books that are rejected or the names of their authors. We also keep the names of our readers confidential to protect them from the “trolls” that often attack reviewers.

How do you get your messages out?

Wow, that is a big job!  We attend as many SP book events as we can and we do a great deal of social media work.  When a book receives our Medallion, we consider that author part of our indieBRAG “family" and we hope they will help promote indieBRAG.  We believe that by telling the world about indieBRAG and the B.R.A.G.Medallion, all our honourees benefit.

Who can be considered for a BRAG Award?

We consider self-published books that are commercially available.  Our focus is on fiction but we will selectively consider non-fiction as well. We do not accept picture books (except children’s books), poetry or technical books. I cannot emphasize enough to potential nominees that the number one reason a book is eliminated is poor editing.  Authors must make sure their book is the very best it can be before nominating the book–they will rarely get a second chance for a good first impression!

Where do you see IndieBRAG in 18 months time?

We are very proud of the fact that the B.R.A.G. Medallion is rapidly becoming recognized in the world of self-publishing as a seal of excellence. Over the next 18 months we expect to continue to build on that track record. As a result, we are being asked to speak at book events and have several lined up for 2014. 
We are certain that anyone looking for a good book can feel confident that one with the B.R.A.G. Medallion will be well worth their time and money. And we sincerely believe that our Medallion books are every bit as good as those that were traditionally published. These books can all be found at:

Now for some quick fire questions so we can get to know you a little more….

Favourite colour?
Right now I would say green- but it seems I pick blue whenever decorating!

Sun bathing or snow boarding?
That’s an easy one for me- I am a winter person, which is a good thing since it has snowed every day since Christmas.  Although I don’t snowboard, I love downhill skiing.  In fact, I married my ski instructor 43 years ago!

Sports car of 4 wheel truck?
I don’t have a truck but I do have a 4 wheel drive SUV.  We live in the country and also have a Malamute – a very big dog, so a sports car just wouldn’t do (even though my husband loves Corvettes.)

If you won the lottery, what would be the 3rd thing you would buy?
The 3rd thing, hmmmmm...1st & 2nd are easy but 3rd?  Well, probably a share in my son’s independent film production company.  I am a movie fan and would love to be a bigger part of his world!

Do you prefer take away or homecooking?
I love to cook! However, most nights it would be take away-

What memory do you have from your twenties?
I have such great memories of those days.  I graduated from nursing school, which I loved.  After that, I went off to Europe with 2 friends and spent most of a year travelling and living in a small motor home.  It was a much different and safer time and it had a very profound effect on the person I am today.

Thanks Geri, for sharing this information I am sure authors and readers will appreciate the true value of the coveted BRAG Medallion Award.

Links for Geri and IndieBRAG

Sunday, 26 January 2014

That Mimsy Feeling!

I admit to feeling mimsy of late and I put it down to the January blues. I'm sure I am not alone feeling like this at this particular time of the year, but I need to snap out of it!      

When I am feeling like this, my brain goes into overdrive seeking a way to get the sparkle back. Eventually it works, my WIP has had plenty of attention and I've also created a few promotional posts. On top of this I have a special feature running throughout February on my Blog - Shades On! Twenty super peeps will be stopping by to soak up the sun rays and reveal a few sunny details about themselves. So please make a note to swing by, I promise it will chase away those winter blues!

Talking of winter blues, last week I had a need to pop into Youtube and whilst there I checked on my trailers. "OMG!" I squealed when I noted that Sometimes It Happens… has had 2,898 hits!  Believe you me it certainly put a smile on my face. And just in case you are not one of the 2,898 and fancy the feel of the sun on your face, here it is….

As always huge thanks for stopping by, have a fabulous week and please call back again soon, you never know who might be sitting in the chair!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Considering Advertising your Book

I probably spend as much time thinking as I do writing and promoting. Thinking about my next chapter, thinking about the situation my characters are in and thinking about how to promote the books I have already published.

Large publishing companies have advertising budgets at their disposal and can, if they choose, make huge splashes in top selling magazines increasing the sales of their author(s) by several factors. Individual authors do not generally have such a resource, but still have the need to widen their audience. Advertising can be prohibited because of the cost, but more and more successful Blog sites, with high hits, are offering advertising for authors at a cost that is reasonable.  The price is usually for 4 weeks or a month, so not locking an author into a long and expensive contract. Many of the Blogs that offer advertising include a link back to the author's web site or Amazon.

I have listed three such sites below, but when checking a Blog site that offers advertising consider:

1. The hits on the site, if not visible ask!
2. Check on what is posted and how often a new post is added
3. Don't be afraid to ask how many hits in a day, a week, a month

There is no guarantee you will sell more books if you advertise on any site, but one thing is certain you will not sell any books if no one knows about your publication.

Here are three Blogs who have started offering cost effective book cover advertising, of course there are many more, but these are three I am happy to recommend. Click on their name to check out what is on offer and good luck!

Monday, 20 January 2014

My Writing Process - Real Friends or Characters?

I've been asked by award winning author, ChrisLongmuir to participate in a little fun called, My Writing Process. Before I launch into the four questions I have been asked to answer about me and my writing, would you please take a moment to visit Chris's blog and find out all about her writing, which includes the Dundee Crime Series, chilling reading and I loved them!

What am I working on?

Now this is a question I keep asking myself! Seriously I am working on, book 5, the working title is, In the Light of Day. I would be fibbing if I said writing this story was a walk in the park. In fact I have deleted more words than are left on my laptop. Why you might ask? The simple fact is I know the start and I know the end, the middle part is testing me, but only because my characters are developing. As they develop they often take me down a road I had not thought about or they say things I had not expected from them. For me it is like getting to know a new friend. The more you see and talk to each other the more you learn about them. Bertie and Kitty Costain are my new friends. The difference between real friends and my new characters is that I am, with their help, going to take them on a journey. It will be a journey that will be filled with emotion and regret because their story is about addiction, not in the sense of drugs or alcohol; there are many other additions that take over people's lives. And like all addictions, eventually lies and secrets will no longer be able to be contained. In The Light of Day (working title) is due out in 2014 - that is if I stop deleting all the words!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Now how difficult is this question? For me very difficult!
I don't write books like Fifty Shades of Gray, nor chic-lit or murder mystery thrillers. I never step into the paranormal or fantasy, so what do I write?

I write books about events that happen, events that change people's lives forever, including those caught up in the maelstrom. I'm emotional and passionate with my writing, I want my characters to sit at your side, steal your attention and sweep you up in their story. Stories that will bring tears to your eyes, have you laughing out loud and sometimes, what they share with you, will stay  in your hearts for a very long time.

Why do I write what I do?

I feel I am being tested with these questions! I guess my answer is that I love to write about life, but more importantly I like to get into the emotional side of my characters. I want to know what makes them who they are. I want to show their darker sides, their softer side I want them to reveal that they feel pain as well as joy. I want to bring out their strengths and their weakness. I want to test them against each other and more importantly I want the reader to feel everything they feel as if they were in that person's shoes.

How does your writing process work?

If you have an answer to this, please tell me! Simply, I don't have a strict writing process, though when I write it is normally the afternoons. By this time of the day I have managed most of my responsibilities and appointments. But even when I am not physically writing, I am constantly running ideas and having conversations with my characters in my head and yes, they do talk back! Normally when I start a new book (WIP) I have a plot. In principle it is the start and end, though by the time I reach writing the end, my original idea for the end has change. I love the initial draft, though it does take me a very long time to write as I am inclined to go back if I change anything as I want to get the thread of the story right. This happens far too often, but for me I need to do this. I save every version and by the time the first draft is written I am well into double figures on the saved versions! I guess my process is simply to enjoy writing my stories. It may not be the correct way. However, for me it is my way and is more often than not filled with enjoyment as I journey with my characters.

That's it I've answered the four questions. Thanks again Chris Longmuir for passing the baton to me, I hope I have grabbed it tight enough. Now for the next victim! The wonderfully talented Janna Gray. Janna's post will appear on her Blog on Monday 27th January, please do pop along and meet here.

"Janna Gray is a storyteller, something to be regarded as a gift, not all that easily found, so when agents or editors come across an author who is a genuine storyteller, their hearts do indeed leap up as does a flying bird."                                                                                     

"Janna Gray’s writing reminds me of Maeve Binchy … I sense something of the same story-telling gift in her work.  
A. Hilary Johnson Author’s Advisory Service"

Twitter: @jannagray9

Kilingiri is on the Honoree list at the B.R.A.G MedallionTM website (

Friday, 17 January 2014

What Readers are saying about Storm Clouds Gathering

Today, I hope you don't mind if I share a few of the comments written in reviews for Storm Clouds Gathering... thank you!

Storm Clouds Gathering

Strong and broken relationships.

Hope and grief.

Love, happiness and despair.

Success and failure.

"It really is a novel that will fill your heart and leave you sad when it ends."

"Set in the sixties (my childhood) it brought many memories back for me of how simple life used to be before mobile phones and computers."

"If you aren't rooting for one (or all) of the characters I'd be very surprised."

"I was crushed when this story was over. I didn't want to close the book on Barclay's cast of characters."

"Wonderful and moving emotional stories."

"Brace yourself for an intensely wonderful storm."

Meet these heart rending characters…

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Sitting Round My Pool - Jan Ruth

I am delighted to have top selling author, Jan Ruth sitting round my pool eating nibbles and drinking bubbly, in between Jan is talking about her fabulous books and what inspires her to write these page turning novels.

Q: Jan you live in North Wales and although this is not where you were brought up, it does play an important part in your writing. Tell us a little about your Wales and does it create ideas for your books?

Seventeen years ago we moved from Cheshire to North Wales. Although Cheshire has its history and pretty rural surroundings aplenty, Wales is far more extreme in both aspects. The castles and the rugged hillsides scattered with stone settlements, druid’s circles and Roman roads bring out the historical muse in me. To think that I am treading the same path as someone who lived in the Iron Age, is both fascinating and humbling. Snowdonia kick-started my stalled obsession with writing in a very positive way. 

All this whimsical talk of the past makes me sound as if I write historical based fiction. Far from it. Much as I admire many other genres I tend to be very much rooted in current times and my work reflects a lot of my own life experiences. But this is where I find the two ideas merge a little because I am most certainly inspired by this Ice Age landscape and the idea that what has gone before, shapes what we see today, but does it shape what we feel, too?

The location re White Horizon is certainly both romantic, and dramatic. Crafnant, is far more accessible than it looks in the pictures. I say accessible, but to be fair the single track road is not built for the modern car, and if someone needs to pass, don’t look down. It’s a popular location for a Sunday stroll, a family walk on mostly level paths and the whole circuit only takes 40-60 minutes depending on your pace. There’s a tea shop selling Welsh ice cream on the left bank and in bad weather the mountain ponies come down to graze, often with young at foot. On one such amble, I said to husband, wouldn’t this make a great location for a hotel? Maybe with a huge decked area jutting over the head of the lake. What a wonderful vista to have a restaurant overlooking the water, imagine the sunsets! Oh, the romance of it all. 

‘Why don’t you use it for a book location? Then you can build a hotel in your head,’ he said. Our imagination ran riot, well, mostly mine, although we soon became bored with just the hotel and began to spice it up, adding a character hell-bent on destruction, manslaughter, domestic violence and eventually, running out of sensible plans, we set it all on fire! What a story… we turned a pleasant picnic area into a scene of death and devastation! (I’ll have to keep my eye on that idea of his though, the one about building things in my imagination. I can see how it might become used and abused beyond its original motive).

Q: Can we expect a new book out soon and are you able to give us a sneak peek into what it will be about and when it will be available?

I’m currently writing three long short stories, or are they short longs, I’m never too sure! These will go out free with a couple of sample chapters from my latest novel, Silver Rain. After that, I will be concentrating on a sequel to WILD WATER.

Q: When you are not writing what can we find you doing?

Reading, hillwalking & horseriding are my top three. 

A few quickies to help us know you more…

Q: What is your favourite drink?
Real coffee & good wine.

Q: Your dream car?
A dirty, indestructible old Land Rover

Q: Do you snuggle down to watch TV or read a book?
Books are always a high priority for snuggling. Some TV.

Q: Beach holidays or activity holidays?
Activity, always. Preferably something involving riding boots or walking boots. Cannot bear lounging on beaches, although your poolside here is very pleasant! 

Q: Cat or dog owner
Dog!!! I adore dogs (and horses)

Q: Favourite colour?

Q: Food you would never eat?
Anything served up on I’m a Celebrity.

Q: Your star sign?
Sagittarius, half horse of course. And I’m very typical of my sign too.

Thanks so much Ruth for taking time out to talk to me, I love your books and look forward to your sequel to Wild Water.

Jan's web site

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A Special Offer for Storm Clouds Gathering

Today whilst browsing through Amazon at my books, I know I shouldn't, but I do! I saw that Amazon co uk has the paperback version of Storm Cloud Gathering on special offer! 
Normally £11.99 as I write it is is £7.93.

Storm clouds are gathering, silently and slowly, too far away to worry about. Or so it seems. But ignoring what is brewing will have dire consequences for the people caught up in the maelstrom.

Shirley Burton is too busy cheating on her husband, having a laugh and looking for fun to alleviate the boredom of her childless marriage. Kathleen Mitchell is too wrapped up in running around after her beautiful family to worry about her health. Anne Simpson has two things on her mind: her forthcoming marriage to Paul Betham, who seems to want to control her, and her career, which she does not want to give up.

Can Shirley really expect to deceive her husband and get away with it? Can Kathleen hold it all together, and is Anne able to have the best of everything?

Storm Clouds Gathering is a story of human emotion, passion and heart-rending grief. Set against the backdrop of the mid-sixties, these three families will be tested to the limit as betrayal, loss and love threaten to change their lives forever.

That link again.....

Thanks a million for stopping by and have a fabulous day and I hope the only storm clouds in sight are those in the above paperback!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

A New Look for my Web Site

This photograph is nothing to do with my post today, I just wanted to share these palm trees decked with festive lights with you!

To start the New Year my web site has had a makeover, but it is not just a change to my 2014 new look, visitors can now browse my site on their mobile phones and tablets with the new compatible formatting.

I admit to being rather pleased with the new layout and colours, but what do you think?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day…. Until next time!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

My Top Reads of 2013

What a great year 2013 turned out to be for amazing reads. My kindle has been working overtime with so many downloads and I wanted to share with you the ones that touched me in many ways. 
Some of these books made my cry, others had me laughing out loud and there are those in this list whose story has never left me.

Drum rolI............and in no particular order my top reads for 2013 are…

Leave of Absence
Tanyja J Peterson

Deadly Shadows
Shirley Wells

Somebody to Love
Sheryl Browne

Missing Believed Dead
Chris Longmuir

Move Over Darling
Christine Stovell

The Class Ceiling
Kerry Fisher

Foxden Acres
Madalyn Morgan

Life After 6 Tequilas
Gina Rossi

Tall Dark & Kilted
Lizzie Lamb

An Englishwoman's Guide to the Cowboy
June Kearns

The Showing
Will Macmillan Jones

Wild Water

Jan Ruth

I hope you will check out some if not all of these reads..... enjoy!

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a great day... until next time!