Time to talk about books!

I’m so excited that I just had to share! I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Anna J Walner on her YouTube channel ‘The Author Library’. Anna’s channel provides Indie Authors a platform to talk about their books and their love of writing and the processes that go into writing and publishing their own books.

If you want to find out more about my books, and the world building that went into creating them, then check out my interview here or click the image.

Make sure you check out some of the other Indie Author interviews, each offers their own insights into the world of writing and self-publishing.

I enjoyed chatting with Anna, another win to celebrate! Roll on launch day! Sentinals Rising will be available soon, make sure you add it to your Goodreads to be read list along with the first book Sentinals Awaken.

Or if you are Bookbub you can find them here:
Sentinals Awaken
Sentinals Rising

Or better yet order them now via Amazon.

Procrastination? We’re all good at that!

I’m sitting here drinking a glass of prosecco wondering what to write about. I should be editing my next book in the Sentinals series but I have spent the weekend procrastinating. Isn’t it funny how the mind works? How many things you can find to do instead of what you intended.

I have hoovered the house, done the washing – it was a gloriously sunny day here in the UK – eaten a box of biscuits that won’t be any good for my waistline and spent the afternoon scrolling through twitter and Instagram. Been pinned to the sofa whilst Alfie had a kip so I joined him for a snooze as I couldn’t get to the keyboard! And now I’m writing a blog post.

Now I’m feeling guilty that I haven’t made progress with my edits, (and about the box of biscuits!). I’m also quietly excited about the fact that my second novel will release on March 17th

With release day approaching, I should be feeling a sense of accomplishment, but I feel pressured to get book three complete. That is pressure I’m putting on myself for some reason, and then I remember that you have to celebrate the small wins as well as the big wins. If you only celebrate the huge wins, then the expectation you place on yourself is to constantly achieve at that level and you miss the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy your journey. 

  • Just completing a novel is an achievement. Lots of people have ideas, but to write them down, edit and polish it into a finished product, not so many achieve that. Time to Celebrate!
  • Learning how to self-publish, complete the interior formatting, cover design, launch plan. Lots of accomplishments to celebrate.
  • Sending the book out to some of your peers for review. (eek!) Celebrate being brave!

Each step is a win to be enjoyed. Each is an achievement taking me closer to the launch day. And so, I’m drinking a glass of prosecco. I may not have done much editing this weekend, but I let go of my second novel. It’s in the hands of my peers who also write, the hardest audience of all to appease.

Next week I have an interview to record. Another small win; well, it feels like a big win! and then we will be approaching launch day.

Make sure you celebrate the small wins; you’ll enjoy the huge accomplishments even more!

Are you in control?

As we enter the new year, and many of us think about what we want to achieve over the next twelve months, I am reminded of a blog I wrote about six or seven years ago to support International Women’s Day.

At the time I was tussling with many personal problems and trying to figure out what I wanted. What did I want out of life, instead of allowing others to push me around to fit what they wanted. It took a while and many glasses of wine and finally I created a mood board. I expect most people know what mood boards are nowadays, but in a nutshell its a board where you pin all your thoughts, ideas and dreams about a topic. You cut out pictures from magazines that encapsulate what you want to achieve, (and drink a bit more wine). For me, it was what do I want to do with my life?

By physically writing down, or pinning pictures of what you want to achieve makes your goal a reality, something tangible that you want to achieve, and you begin to take conscious steps to move you towards achieving it. You now have a target, and you can start planning how to reach it.

I decided life was too short to waste on things that I didn’t enjoy. I wanted to enjoy my job, and I wanted to write. I wanted to move house to the country, or maybe near the sea, preferably with my mum.

So I started looking for houses with my mum, travelling around the south of England and visiting many villages and seaside towns. I began capturing ideas for a novel, and investigated what job opportunities there were within my company. I didn’t necessarily want to leave, but I didn’t like the direction I was going in. Everything came to a grinding halt when my mum fell ill with breast cancer, underwent a mastectomy and finally passed away. The moving house impetus died with her, and although I still think of moving, I don’t know where to move to! So I haven’t.

I actually put pen to paper and started writing to fill in the extra time I suddenly had and I suppose as an escape, and found that I really enjoyed it. I started researching into how to edit and the authors journey and began to plan how to self publish my first novel. I never really considered going the traditional publishing route as I wasn’t prepared to let go of my story.

I suppose I am not the greatest example of a successful mood board! But plans change, and I think sometimes its as much about resetting goals as circumstances change around you and staying true to what makes you happy.

I am happiest when I am lost in my magical worlds writing about my wonderful characters and putting them though hell. It doesn’t really matter where I live, as I work from home. Which makes it all the more difficult to decide where in the UK to move to. I think it may be time to start searching for that writer’s nest with space for a study and a library! I need to create a mood board for my idyllic home, identify those must haves and who knows, I may even find it.

  • Detached
  • Cottage
  • Quiet (no trains, planes, automobiles)
  • Not too hilly (My knees…)
  • Study
  • Library
  • Internet (Fast!)
  • Cat friendly
  • Near the sea
  • Lovely view

It’s a start! Who knows 2021 may be the year of the move.

Is Writing a Catharsis?

I think maybe it is. Many people write memoirs, blogs, poems, paint or create music as a way of dealing with life, problems, complications. I started writing after my mother passed away after a short battle with cancer.  We had been planning to move to the country, and she was going to move in with me. We had lots of plans that never had a chance to happen.

I thought I started writing because I had time on my hands and an empty house. But I’ve come to realise that I  was grieving and releasing that grief through writing, expressing myself through words, and maybe escaping reality for a moment and entering a world I knew she would love.  I had lost my best friend and I was trying to find a replacement for that gaping hole. I wrote seven books. A bit like Forrest Gump running across America, twice!

That new companion became the world of Remargaren and Jerrol and the Sentinals. A world of myth and legend. Of friendship and betrayal. Of ancient forests and magical trees.

I always credit my mum with instilling in me a love of books and reading. I remember my love for the The Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton; my first foray in the world of fantasy. To escape into a world where down can be up and the sky can be green, and your imagination rules.

I am happiest when I write, when I visit the world of Remargaren and I am surrounded in possibilities, and a lot of challenges for my characters of course.

I thank my mum for sharing her love of reading. I know she’s looking over my shoulder, making suggestions, loving the stories. I hope you are loving them too.

In these crazy times, it’s strange being a debut author. It wasn’t because of Covid that I started writing, I just happened to have been ready to publish.  So I’m a 2020 author, forever connected to the year of Covid, with virtual book launches and no book signings! and yet there is still good to have come out of this year; Sentinals Awaken for one. Even in times of great difficulty there are good deeds and amazing people. People who put themselves before others, whether it be a nurse in the NHS, the dustman collecting the bins, the man stacking the shelves in the supermarket, parents home-schooling or a King’s Ranger trying to solve a mystery and save his country.

As we enter lockdown again here in the UK, I hope Sentinals Awaken provides some relief and entertainment as well as some hope, away from the continuing restrictions imposed on us all. If you want to chat, you can find me on twitter, Instagram or Facebook or here on my website. If you are following the #tweetbookclub on Twitter, you’ll know I’m always happy to chat about my books. Trying not to give away spoilers is the challenge, because I just want to share! And to discuss Jerrol and Birlerion and all the rest.

Thank you for making it to the end of this blog. Hopefully you are enjoying the results of my catharsis!! Book Two will be along soon…as the self-publishing journey continues. Hope you stay for the ride!

Keep safe and well. Speak soon.

The Home Straight

An author experiences a variety of emotions in the long journey to publishing. Having actually written the book in the first place you then have the long slog of revising and editing, trying to polish your novel until the shine is blinding and you can finally let it go takes a lot longer than you would think. My first blog on this topic was back in May and here we are October!

And then its copy editing, interior design and layout, and proof reading, and then the vicious circle of wanting to put a review link in the ebook to make it easier for readers to leave a review, but you have to upload your book to get the link. And to get the link you have to commit to a publishing date – which Amazon then chase you (which is good and bad) and threaten to ban you from using their services for a whole year if you miss it. If that doesn’t stress you out, then nothing will!

If I have learnt anything on this journey, it is that everything takes a darned site longer than you would like. And the amount of days you spend chewing your nails waiting for a file to come back so you can review again is excruciating.

There is much to learn, and I may begin to post some podcasts (If I can find the time as I need to be editing book two!) about the different elements of the journey, because as a first-time author, it truly is eye-opening. And if my learnings can help someone else navigate this road more easily then that is all too the good.

But, as the title of this blog says, this is the home straight. I am now on the final leg rushing towards that winning line. The book is uploaded to Amazon and filtering through all the affiliate sites. It may even be live in paperback in some locations already – as you are advised to upload a week before publishing to let the sites sync, but you can’t set the publishing date, Amazon set that when the book goes live—so do you wait or do you upload?

You upload! So you can get the proof copies and author copies, and oh! The first time you hold your book in your hands. A-maz-ing! I feel so proud and so happy. Such an achievement.

My launch date is October 11th, and I am going to do a virtual book launch via Zoom, because, when it comes down to it, you only ever get to do your first ever book launch once. And I think that is something that should be celebrated. Even if it is just me talking into a screen, I will still raise a glass as Sentinals Awaken sets sail on her ocean voyage around the world.

So I have set up a Zoom call, created my rafflecopter giveaway, sent out the invites and now it’s a case of waiting to see if anyone accepts. This is more nerve wracking than publishing the book.

Come hell or highwater, I will be launching my book on Sunday. If you’d like a chance to win a signed copy, then join me at 7pm UK time to raise a toast.

DM me for the link to the launch at helen.garraway@hotmail.com

To Sentinals Awaken. My first ever novel. Published.

Long may she entertain.