Mastodon The Writing Desk: June 2014

30 June 2014

Book Launch Guest Post ~ Unelmoija: The Spiritshifter by Elle Boca

Loi, an amplifier able to help young superhuman Weeia develop their abilities, is found dead of mysterious causes. Amy, like Loi, may be an amplifier. If she gets involved she might be next. Should she risk her life to help Weeia youth unlock their abilities? 

New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

The story and the series began with Amy. All along she has led me with her in her adventures and that of Unelmoija and the Weeia. I in turn share her story in the Weeia books in the hope that they entertain others. The idea was born of my interest in and enjoyment of urban fantasy books. I wanted to write a story with a strong woman lead in a contemporary real world (versus a fantasy world) environment. I also want to share a bit about the beautiful area where I live in the book. As far as I know this is the first urban fantasy set in Miami. While the city is famous around the world it remains in many ways undiscovered.

Over the course of the story, Amy becomes special, but all along she's the girl next door trusting and somewhat naive yet armed with great sympathy, generosity and courage. We ride along close up and personal thanks to her first person account from the day she discovers she's superhuman, meets her father for the firsts time, meets Duncan, the man who is her polar opposite yet is irresistibly attracted to her, and watch her falter, suffer and grow through some challenging and unexpected experiences while at the same time she discovers Miami, her new home.

From a bigger picture perspective, I like the idea of superhumans representing a possible next step in our evolution. Who are the Weeia? The Weeia (pronounced way-yah) are similar to you or me in most ways, except that they have superhuman abilities and live long lives. Fearing humans, they live hidden among us. Your neighbor, banker, boss or doctor, even a person you’ve known all your life could be Weeia. Their super abilities vary by type and strength. They fall into four main categories: Emotional, Material, Mental, and Temporal.

 Elle Boca

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About the Author

Elle Boca is the author of the Weeia urban fantasy series set in Miami, Florida in the United States. When not writing and creating fantastical beings she likes photographing nature and wildlife, eating baked goods, watching movies, and dreaming of going on safari. Find out more at her website and find her on Twitter: @elleboca and Goodreads

29 June 2014

Guest Post ~ What drove me to writing, by Carla Michelle Hamilton

The old soul's coven search for their leader Melinda
but in her place find a librarian called Emily Harris.
Will Emily's shady past and hidden secrets reveal
she was the one they were looking for or  will
their hunt for Melinda lead to a whole lot more? 

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

I've always loved writing since I was a child, of course then, I was the main character in all of my stories and repeatedly saved the world. But now I love to build from my crazy imagination and see where it leads me. In 2010 I suffered a miscarriage, and as you can imagine I was heartbroken, but I choose to see the world as ‘Everything happens for a reason’.

For me, it was discovering my love for books. I’d never properly, let a book take me in, but when I cracked the spine of Stephanie Mayer’s Twilight, something just clicked inside of me (team Edward). I couldn’t get enough, at one point I’d read four of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books in four days, it was crazy (team Eric).

Then, after eight months nonstop reading of other people’s books, I decided I’d like to contribute. My life would be so boring if it wasn’t for the amazing Authors who chose to tell their stories to the world, it’s only fair that I give something back.

So naturally I chose to follow the same genre of the Authors who captured my mind, fiction, but I focused mainly on the fights and dramas that come with a group of supernatural people banded together because of what they are.

There is nothing better than picking up a book and realizing, this would never happen in real life. There’s nothing a bunch of witches and vampires are going through, that could make you think “that’s exactly what I’m going through” (unless you are a witch or a vampire, in that case, get in contact with me I’d love to chat).

Even though I’ve stressed on how much I love fictional characters, after I’ve finished writing the third book in my The Old Soul’s Coven series, I’m going to start on a new two-part-series. It’s also going to be very drama based, just less of the supernatural people. This story has been swirling around in my mind, about as long as Emily’s Haven has, but Emily’s story became too juicy and I had to write it first. I’m very excited to get started on the new series, but I have to often remind myself of my half-finished book.

Carla Michelle Hamilton

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About the Author

Carla Michelle Hamilton was raised by her single Mother, alongside her three younger siblings. Carla grew up in Middlesbrough up until joining the British Army at the age of sixteen. She left shortly after giving birth to her first child. Carla now lives in Northern Ireland with her husband and their son. Carla says ' I got an E in my GCSE English and can’t spell to save my life - but that is why the world created editors and I am thankful for that!'  You can find Carla on Twitter @carlahamilton and on Goodreads, as well as her Amazon author page.

28 June 2014

Book Review: A Place for Us (Part 1) by Harriet Evans #APlaceForUs

Available to pre-order on Amazon US annd Amazon UK 

"The day Martha Winter decided to tear apart her family began like any other day.”   Isn’t that a great opening line?  A Place for Us, the new novel by Sunday Times bestselling author Harriet Evans, is one of those books that grabs you and won’t let you stop until you learn what happens.

Following the life of each member of the family in turn, you are drawn deep into the complex relationships between them. I was impressed at how Harriet Evans pulls of the neat trick of making you really care about her flawed characters – any one of whom would be more than capable of carrying the novel on their own.

In a clever move, publishers Headline are releasing A Place For Us as four exclusive part-serialisations. Martha Winter's family is going to be one a to follow, a modern classic in the making  - and are they all finally coming home?

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About the Author

Harriet Evans was born in London and went to Bristol University, where she did Classical Studies. After working on The Lady magazine, she went into publishing, first at Penguin, then at Headline. Harriet started writing in the mornings before work, and in 2003, sent the first few pages of her book to an agent under a pseudonym. This led to a publishing deal with HarperCollins, who have now published all five of her novels and she left her job to write full time. She says ‘I love getting involved with the world I’ve created and the people within it. Hopefully that means the reader loses themselves in something for a few hours too, something that makes them smile, keeps them gripped and is complete escapism. - See more at her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @HarrietEvans

26 June 2014

Guest Post by Rosie Amber ~ author of Talk of The Playground

When the police have been seen at school on the second day of term, fighting breaks out amongst parents and gossip about individuals threatens to spiral out of control. Is this an idyllic English school? Sophie Grey lands a job where she must hunt out the inside story.

Available on and

Learning from Blogging

Blogging opened up a whole new world to me and I have met some lovely people. I try to publish a blog post every single day because my blog is still quite new and I need to keep readers interested. I began my blog primarily to help promote my own book, but it has become a much bigger part of my life. I’m now able to use my love of reading and my blog to help promote other people books too. My most recent addition to the blog is a page I’m building on resources for writers. It features people who offer editing services, marketing, promotion, book covers, book reviewers etc and I shall be adding more.

My first published book is Talk of the Playground, a fun tale of the ins and outs of an English village school. I call it my work of love rather than my work of art because it meant so much to me at the time. I learnt a lot about writing and self-publishing and have learnt even more from blogging and reading other writers work.

Reading and Blogging Challenges

I love reading. In the Goodreads 2013 challenge I read 154 books, this year I expect to increase that number. Nearly every book I read gets a review on Goodreads, Amazon and my blog, with links to my Facebook author page, Google+ and Twitter. I also do Guest Author Interviews and take part in book related tours.

In 2013 I was lucky enough to be invited to write a monthly book review page for a local magazine called “Fleet Life”. 5000 copies go out locally and the magazine has an online version too, I usually review 5 books of my choice per month for the magazine. In 2014 I also picked up its sister magazine Elvetham Heath Directory which has 2000 copies and an online version, I do a different set of reviews in each magazine.

I love keeping my blog fresh; in April 2013 I took part in my first April A to Z Challenge and I blogged my way through the alphabet matching book titles to the letters of the alphabet. This year I took part for a second year and again promoted books using all the letters of the alphabet, it is a great way to meet lots of new bloggers from all over the world.

Never one to stand still for long I recently completed a year-long challenge that I set myself on the day I began reading a book called AYear of Doing Good by Judith O’Reilly. Judith challenged herself to do Good Deeds for a whole year and wrote a truly inspirational book about what happened. Judith undertook giant acts of good, my own challenge was to do just 1 Good Deed a day for a year. Every Sunday I update my readers with my latest deeds. On April 16th 2014 I celebrated completing my challenge and am now carrying on for a second year. Do come and check it out at My Year of Good Deeds.

Book review Challenge Series

I’ve just launched a Book review challenge as I’m very keen to get more people to write reviews for the books they read. How often do you write and post a review of a book you've read? Ever wondered if your review would be of any use to anyone? Don't know how to write a review? We will be hearing from several book reviewers on how they go about writing a review and from authors about the importance of reviews. 

It began on Wednesday 25th June - Book reviewing by Rosie Amber + Guest piece from Melissa Newman of Martin Sisters Publishing + easy to follow tips for writing your own review.

* Thursday 26th June - Book reviewing by Bodicia from A Woman's Wisdom + How to download a PDF file of a book to your kindle + Non-fiction book reviews

* Friday 27th June - The Importance of book reviews by author Terry Tyler + a look at Goodreads + A bad or negative review, should you write it?

* Saturday 28th June - Book Reviewing by Diane Coto from Fictionzeal + Shelfari + Going in deep, talking reviews

* Sunday 29th June - Book reviewing by Ionia Martin from Readfulthings + Author Adrienne Vaughan’s views on book reviews + Reviewing to Amazon + Gearing up to write that review

* Monday 30th June - The Importance of book reviews by Lizzie Lamb + Authors should walk to the book reviewer’s side of the fence

Come and find out more and sign up for the challenge to read a book for FREE and write a book review at my blog Rosie Amber.

Rosie Amber

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 About the Author

Rosie Amber is an author, book reviewer and blogger, living in the county of Hampshire in the UK.  She is married with two children and juggles part-time work with full-time motherhood.  Rosie says, 'I was inspired to combine a love of writing with a desire to embrace social technology. Thus my first book was born from the experiences of being a playground parent.' Find out more on Rosie's blog Rosie Amber and find her on Twitter @rosieamber1 and on Facebook.

25 June 2014

New Book Review ~ The Second Time I Saw You by Pippa Croft

Available from Amazon US and Amazon UK

Quite a diversion from my usual reading, The Second Time I Saw You is an intimate ‘insider’s view’ of life at the fictional Wyckham College, Oxford. Complete with dodgy Dons and athletic rowers,  this second book in Pippa Croft's Oxford Blue romance series is everything you would expect.

The most interesting character is the enigmatic ex public school aristocrat Alexander Hunt, who manages to show he does, after all, have a sensitive side. Pippa’s storytelling skill made it a fast read – and I didn’t spot the surprise ending!  Now I’ll have to read the next novel in the series, Third Time Lucky, which is available to pre-order from Penguin.

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About the Author

Pippa Croft is the pen name of an author who read English Language and Literature at Oxford, then worked in advertising, journalism and PR until she decided to write her first piece of fan fiction, inspired by a TV drama called North and South. She says ‘I love writing passionate steamy stories about dark brooding alpha heroes and feisty women and I’ve been dying to write a book set at Oxford. This is my dream project!’  You can find her on Twitter @PippaCroftBooks. Pippa Croft also writes as Phillipa Ashley – find out more at her website:

24 June 2014

New books: Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner @CABodensteiner

 “Gently compelling and highly believable” – Midwest Book Review

Available now on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Liddie Treadway grew up on a family farm where options for her future were marriage or teaching. Encouraged by suffragette rhetoric and her maiden aunt, Liddie is determined to avoid both and pursue a career. Her goal is within her grasp when her older sister's abrupt departure threatens to keep her on the farm forever.

Once she is able to experience the world she dreamed of, Liddie is enthralled with her independence, a new-found passion for photography, and the man who teaches her. Yet, the family, friends, and life of her youth tug at her heart, and she must face the reality that life is not as simple, or the choices as clear-cut, as she once imagined.

Set in World War One-era Iowa, Go Away Home is a captivating coming of age novel that explores the enduring themes of family, friendship, and love, as well as death and grief. GO AWAY HOME will resonate with anyone who’s confronted the conflict between dreams and reality and come to recognize that getting what you want can be a two-edged sword.

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About the Author

Carol Bodensteiner was born in the United States Midwest and raised on her family's farm in eastern Iowa. Carol's first book, Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl, a memoir about her childhood, was published in 2008. In 2012, she added her voice to the voices of women worldwide in a collection of writings that is inspired by the seasons of the year. Winter: Women's Stories, Poems and Inspiration for the Season of Rest and Renewal, was released in April. Writing inspired by the other seasons of the year will follow. Find out mor3 at Carol's website and find her on Twitter @CABodensteiner

23 June 2014

Book Review: SPARTACUS by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

The classic tale of a true hero.

The slaves of Rome are launching a revolt against their cruel Roman masters and there is only one man capable of
leading them into battle.

The Spartacus legend has been re-told many times by everyone from Stanley Kubrick (in 1960, with Kirk Douglas as the unlikely Thracian hero) to more recent accounts by Ben Kane (2012) and the strangely compelling ‘Starz’ cable TV version (with Australian actor Liam McIntyre, on 'location' in New Zealand). It is refreshing, therefore, to return to the original 1933 novel by Scottish author James Leslie Mitchell under his pen name of Lewis Grassic Gibbon.

Fast-paced, the original Spartacus novel recreates a real sense of how Roman decadence was almost overthrown by an army of over 90,000 former slaves, led by what must have been an exceptional man. Mitchell pulls no punches in the brutal fighting scenes and a surprisingly modern recognition of the role and influence of women on the slave army shows he was ahead of his time. I can imagine this book must have raised a few eyebrows in 1933, as it tackles topics that are often avoided even today. 

The charismatic central character of Spartacus remains mysterious, rarely speaking and seen mostly through the eyes of those around him. It is no spoiler to note that Spartacus does not have a happy ending - and the final scenes on the Appian Way (the main road into Rome) are more harrowing than anything Hollywood has so far represented. Nevertheless, Mitchell is a great storyteller and I highly recommend this original tale of courage and loyalty, love and death in one of the all-time great historical fiction novels. 

Tony Riches
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About the Author

Lewis Grassic Gibbon was born James Leslie Mitchell in 1901 in Aberdeenshire. Spending most of his childhood in Arbuthnott, a farming community south of Aberdeen in Scotland. Mitchell left school early after arguments with the school authorities to work as a journalist in Aberdeen and Glasgow. He joined the army, which enabled him to travel to the Middle East and Egypt, which fuelled his interest in ancient civilisations and inspired his first short stories. From 1930 to 1934, Mitchell wrote eleven novels, two books of short stories and three anthropological books before his untimely death in 1935. 

21 June 2014

Book Launch: The Rose Master by Valentina Cano @valca85

Available now on Amazon US and Amazon UK

The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that's hardly the most upsetting news. She's being dismissed from the home she's served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she's never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:

There's something wrong with Rosewood Manor.

Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.

As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them--some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on h arming her.

When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn't prepared for. The creature is very real, and she's the only one who can help him stop it. 

Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she's grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.

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About the Author

Valentina Cano was born in Uruguay, South America, and now lives in Miami. She is a classical singer who enjoys reading and writing about impossible Gothic romances. Her poetry has been featured in literary magazines and her debut novel, THE ROSE MASTER, is published in 2014 by REUTS Publishing.

Find out more at her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @valca85

20 June 2014

Guest Post ~ Mining for Gold: Putting Reviews to Good Use By Jo Sparkes

“Don’t you just love it when you take on a novel …
and find a hidden gem!”
The Birr Elixir: Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

There’s a free tool available to authors brave enough – or smart enough – to use it. It’s those reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

True, many of us prefer counting the five star ratings and ignoring all else. After all, if the reviewer didn’t recognize our talent, what use is the opinion? And some tend to despair over a bad review to a point where they can’t bear to look at them.

Yet these thoughts from a reader’s perspective are valuable mirrors of our craft. They can be turned to good account. All it takes is realizing that every writer, even a New York Times bestseller, gets criticized. The difference in professionals and amateurs is not the criticism received – it’s the way they handle it.

Let me repeat. The difference in professionals and amateurs is not the criticism received – it’s the way they handle it.

Here’s how to get the most out of a review.

First, look for logical points that could be addressed. If someone writes, “the main character was inconsistent”, you may or may not agree, but it is fixable. On the other hand, a review saying “it sucked, sucked, sucked!” says nothing. There’s no meaningful information to do something about, or even prove the reviewer read the book.

It’s useless. Toss it aside and move on.

Notice common threads. When multiple reviews hint at the same thought, you’ve got smoke from the proverbial fire. Perhaps one review talks of the book ‘dragging in the middle’, and a second mentions ‘hooked me right on page one, almost lost me when they got to the castle, but then the ending really caught me in the twists and excitement.’ The second review feels much better – but don’t they both hint at shoring up the middle of the story? When different people identify the same idea, chances are there’s something to it.

Once you’ve identified these logical points, consider them. They don’t mean you must change the book – in fact they may not even be valid. But take the time to really think about each point before dismissing it. Often the points that feel a little painful have some core of truth.

Don’t despair – address them. Read a book on characters, take a good class that catches your eye. Read a book by someone considered great at this point, and see what they do. Use what you learn in your next book.

The last step is the most important. Once you’ve mined any logical points, once you’ve weighed them and chosen what to do, you’re finished. Move on.

There’s a tendency to cling to bad reviews. We want to punish ourselves, especially if we perceive we ‘made a mistake.’ Having learned from it, however, it’s time to let it go. Start looking for your next opportunity to grow.

Because ultimately, there is no better way to improve your reviews than to improve your writing. 

Jo Sparkes

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About the Author

A well-known Century City Producer once said that Jo Sparkes “…writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read.”  Her  body of work includes scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, commercial work for corporate clients. She won the 2012 Kay Snow award for her screenplay, Frank Retrieval.
She’s written numerous articles for internet sites. As a member of the Pro Football Writer’s Association, she was a contributing writer for the Arizona Sports Fans Network, where she was known for her humorous articles, player interviews and game coverage. Jo was unofficially the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he arrived in Arizona to play for the Cardinals. 
She served as an adjunct teacher at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College, and wrote “Feedback  How to Give It  How to Get It” for writers, actors, and other artists. Find out more at Jo's website and you can find her on Twitter @Sparkes777

19 June 2014

Special Guest Post ~ Why Write A Trilogy? by Patricia Bracewell

A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen

Set in England when Vikings are on the brink of invasion,
this is an epic tale of seduction, war, and unrequited love
from an outstanding new voice in historical fiction

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Trilogies. Some people love them, devouring them voraciously and then looking around eagerly for more. Others find them annoying, perhaps considering them an irritating trend or maybe a tactic by an author to pad a perfectly adequate book with enough filler that it can be released in three separate volumes, thereby earning piles of money (hah!) for its avaricious author.

Frankly, when I decided to write a trilogy about Emma of Normandy, I had no ulterior motives. I was simply trying to figure out the best way to tell what I hoped would be a gripping tale.

Emma lived well into her sixties, perhaps even into her seventies (we’re not certain of her birth year). Either way, she lived a very long life. I decided at the outset that I had no wish to write a novel that would cover her entire lifespan, mostly because I didn’t know how to do it without diluting the drama inherent in her story. I knew from my research that there were two distinct periods of Emma’s life that were fraught with conflict: Sixteen or so years in the first quarter of the 11th century when she first arrived in England as the adolescent bride of King Æthelred, and another nine-year span much later in her life when she was probably about fifty years old. All of these years were marked by massive unrest and political upheaval in England, but it was the earlier period that really intrigued me. I wanted to explore the difficulties that Emma would face as a young, foreign queen; I wanted to imagine the turmoil of that time – not from the point of view of a king or a warrior, but from the point of view of a woman.

Because the women obviously were there, although their experiences have gone largely unrecorded.  I hoped to explore what Emma must have lived through and to stay very close to her, writing a story that would reflect the turbulent history that she witnessed and the emotions she must have experienced. It seemed to me that I could only do that if I whittled those sixteen years down into more manageable chunks.

So I divided them into three. The first book, Shadow on the Crown, spans only three years, but the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entries of that time are chock full of dire events that needed explaining, dramatizing, and re-imagining, not just through Emma’s eyes but also from the viewpoints of a few select characters who I included to broaden the story. Once written, the book was no easy sell.  A debut author isn’t likely to find a publishing house willing to take on a book that goes beyond a certain word count – that’s just a fact of publishing life. And so that first manuscript – infinitely shorter than if I had written a tome covering sixty years instead of three  – had to be cut even more.

Now that the second book, The Price of Blood, is completed and in the pipeline toward publication, I can reveal that it begins about a year after the final events in Shadow on the Crown, and that it covers a further seven years of Emma’s story. Frankly, this sequel doesn’t end where I originally intended. A certain character tried very hard to wrest control of the plot line and make it all about her. I had to fight her every step of the way, and I ended up adding scenes just to get her to behave. That’s called revision and it, too, is a fact of publishing life.

As for the third book, I’ll be getting started on that very soon. It will take Emma’s story about six years further into her future. And after that? Well, I have to get a little further into my own future before I can answer that.

 Patricia Bracewell

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About the Author

Patricia Bracewell was born and raised in Los Angeles and majored in English Literature.A Masters Degree was followed by a California teacher’s credential and she taught high school English. Eventually moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, she  met and married a Canadian and now has two sons.

Her passion for writing began with short stories before she fulfilled a long ambition when she discovered an English queen whose name was unfamiliar. Intrigued, Patricia began research, including journeys to England and France  - and wrote  the novel that became Shadow on the Crown. The first book in a trilogy, Patricia has now completed the second, The Price of Blood. She will be the Writer-In-Residence at Gladstone's Library in Hawarden, Wales this year from 27 October to 10 November, participating in Gladstone's weekend Hearth Festival as well as conducting a day-long Fiction Writing Workshop. Find out more at and find her on Twitter

17 June 2014

Increase your readership with oAuthor

After the initial excitement of your launch comes the challenge of helping new readers ‘discover’ your book. A great review can boost sales and there is what has been called the ‘Amazon Effect’ where books can soar up the rankings - but do you wonder about all the potential readers who prefer other e-readers than Kindle? In this new series of posts, I’ll be looking at some of the new sites offering authors a page where they can promote their work and make it easier for readers to buy their books.

Based in Ireland, oAuthor (see aims to put indie authors back in control of the book selling process and already has over 380 authors and 1,100 books represented in 2014. It is free to use and only charges a small transaction fee for every book the author sells directly, to cover the cost of using the services and any credit card transaction.  

The site was created by Nuala Moran, author of 27Secrets, who told me, “Once I actively marketed my book I began to see sales and my dream of making a living from writing blossomed. Out of habit, I defaulted to directing all my readers to the Amazon store.”  This is when her OMG moment happened. By a single link to one book selling page, she could offer readers a simple choice of bookstores and downloads.

Some authors sell ebooks in different formats directly from their personal websites – but the new oAuthor site takes care of that for you. I recently created oAuthor pages for each of my novels. You can see the page for my latest novel WARWICK here:  It takes about five minutes to create the page (if you have all the files and info to hand) and everything is under your complete control. You can upload as many different formats of your book as you wish, for direct download by readers. You can also add links to your where book is available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc. The oAuthor Selling Page also has ‘geo-targeting’, which directs your readers to the correct Amazon store for their country.

I find the oAuthor page universal hyperlink is a useful way to raise awareness of your books on social media. It was also good to see that the site includes helpful stats about when and where in the world potential readers are viewing your books - and 'clicking through' to your other sites. To get started, simply visit and follow the on screen instructions. You can find Nuala Moran on Twitter @NualaEMoran and Facebook

15 June 2014

Book Review ~ In My Wildest Dreams by Leslie Thomas

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

The death of Welsh author Leslie Thomas recently prompted me to re-read his autobiography In My Wildest Dreams. My copy has an updated introduction written in 2006 where Leslie Thomas recalls how he met one of his childhood friends who said, 'I'm retiring next year and I'm going to finish my book then.'  'You're writing a book?' Leslie asked. 'No,' his friend replied, 'I'm reading one.'

Leslie's great sense of humour makes this a very readable book, even though I'm sure he makes light of his very challenging early life and years spent in children's homes. I was particularly interested in how his first novel (followed by twenty-nine more) became such a worldwide best seller. It seems he had several lucky breaks, starting with the title. Based on his far eastern national service in the Army Pay Corps, it was originally going to be called The Little Soldiers  then someone suggested it should be changed to The Virgin Soldiers just before the books went to print.  A nervous BBC review editor added 'Don't leave it around where children can pick it up.' An intrigued public rushed to buy it - and the rest is history.

Leslie modestly says of The Virgin Soldiers, 'It was a beginner's book, written from the heart.' The fact is he spent years learning his craft the hard way, writing for magazines and later as a reporter on the London Evening News. He also spotted an important niche when he realised no one had previously written a novel based on national service experiences.

I really enjoyed re-reading this life-affirming story of a resourceful but penniless orphan who, through his writing, became a much-loved celebrity, (dining with Princess Diana) and am sure I will return to it sometime. I should really leave the last word to Leslie: "I overheard two old ladies talking. 'This Leslie Thomas,' one said, 'They say he can write and he's funny and charming. I can't see it myself." Her friend replied: 'Nor can I.' "    

14 June 2014

Free on Kindle this weekend: Potholes on Memory Lane (Or So It Seems) by Robb Lightfoot

Available on Amazon Kindle

Humor is watching a sailboat sinking... when it belongs to Robb Lightfoot. Here's a collection of short, family-friendly humor about living in the country, having brain fade, rebooting a road trip, and trying to make your kids do their homework.

    About the Author

Robb Lightfoot is a humorist who teaches, writes and performs in Northern California. His work can be sampled on his website at or read weekly in his trademarked column, "Or So It Seems." He's married to Karin, his partner for more than 31 years. Follow Robb on Twitter @robblightfoot 

13 June 2014

HIGHFALL by Ani Alexander

Dramatic and Emotional – a true life love story.

What if early on your life changed drastically several times? What if you were betrayed more than once? Would you have the courage to fall in love again? How do you choose if you love two men at the same time? Will you be able to leave the past behind?

These are the questions Annika asks herself in the novel Highfall. Annika falls down many times but never gives up and always gets back on her feet. Her life is one long roller-coaster with the unexpected at every turn. As a result she turns from unassuming teenager into a strong woman.

Highfall is available on Amazon US  and Amazon UK

Ani says:

Writing fiction is what I am truly passionate about. I love creating words, which evoke emotions, provoke thoughts and touch the readers’ soul. This book is very special to me for several reasons. It’s my first novel - and before that I never wrote anything longer than a 3-4 page short story. Then of course the fact that the book is based on a true story makes it more personal. Many think that it is my life story, but fortunately or unfortunately it is not. Highfall sort of came to me itself. My lost friend found me on Facebook after about 15 years and we re-connected. When she told me about her life I immediately thought that it should become either a book or a movie.

So that is how the idea of writing Highfall came to me and chased me until I actually sat and started writing. Of course the book is fiction based on a true story and not a biography, so everything did not happen exactly that way in real life. Nevertheless bigger part of the book is very true. Highfall has a very fast pace and many events immediately following each other. Maybe that is why most of the people, who have read it up to now have finished the book in a day or two.

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About the Author

Ani lives in Armenia and balances being a wife and mother with writing. Her first book of short stories, Emotional Moments became an Amazon bestseller in 2012.She also finds time to run a self-development blog Life Probabilities at which aims to help readers live fulfilled, happy and successful lives. Visit her author website and find her on Twitter and Facebook

Incantation Paradox Blog Tour with Author Annamaria Bazzi @AMBazzi

Tour Banner  
Novel: Incantation Paradox
Author: annamaria bazzi
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Cover Designer: Natasha Brown
Available NOW

  Magic is an illusion. It doesn’t really exist. Or does it? A horrible car accident destroys Dolores Reynard’s life. But instead of waking up in a hospital bed, she awakens in a teenager’s body. Soon, she discovers she is at the heart of the murderous mystery surrounding the death of Mona, the young girl whose body she occupies. Caught between an evil greater than she ever imagined and a wizard who heals her tattered heart, she is forced to play a dangerous game of intrigue in the hopes of finding a way to return to her previous life. Will magic be her ally, or will it lead to her demise once and for all?

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Enjoy the first chapter of the novel. If you follow the tour you'll be able to read two additional chapters. I hope you enjoy the chapter:  

Chapter One

Dolores Reynard’s high heels clacked on the cold cement of the dark parking structure. At seven thirty, all her coworkers had gone home for the day, and her car sat alone, a testament to the misfortune of working for a taskmaster. Hitting the unlock button, she opened the driver’s door of her brand new Chevy Cruze and slipped inside. A few calming breaths prepared her for the rest of her evening, but at the same time she pulled out onto the street, a car cut her off. She slammed on the brakes so as not to rear-end it. Cursing under her breath, she switched on the radio to settle her nerves and headed toward the Godwin High School auditorium.
   Sirens blared in the distance while she drove down Cox Road toward Three Chopt Road, her mind drifting to the office. Yet again, her boss had kept her late. Tonight of all nights. The tension in her body bunched her muscles, and her shoulders rose to her ears. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony sank into the background, its usual calming effect gone. Glancing up at the dashboard, she checked the clock. 8:15 p.m. Missing another recital would fill her with too much guilt.
   She sighed. If only Ethan would get a better job, I could cut my hours to spend more time with the girls. But it didn’t matter anymore. Ethan had served her with divorce papers. For years, he’d complained she had no time for him, yet he’d refused to help her out. He’d always encouraged her to climb the corporate ladder. Only recently, she realized his support was so he could indulge in luxury. She’d grown weary of his slack ass always settling for part-time jobs, but coming from a broken home, she’d refused to ask for a divorce and put her daughters through the same ordeal she suffered as a child. Why hadn’t she recognized his laziness before she married him or before she had any kids?
   Love is blind. She eased her foot off the gas pedal after noticing she was a few miles over the speed limit. In the distance, the sirens persisted, seeming closer. Would Ethan be at the recital, or would he be gallivanting, who knew where, with the slutty waitress from the bar he habitually visited? When at last she accused him of having an affair, he’d never denied it. Damn, him! She banged her palms on the steering wheel. Was the affair his midlife crisis?
   After the affair came to light, he’d moved out of the house, but continued to leech off her, demanding money from her to pay all his bills, coming to the house to eat her food, and taking anything he thought would be useful in his new apartment. He served her with divorce papers, but it had taken her months before she came to terms with the permanent separation and signed them. No need to prolong the ordeal. After all, Ella and Chloe liked the situation better than hearing them argue all the time. Yet she still felt guilty about signing them.
   The wailing sirens blared somewhere outside her car. She jerked her head around. Where? Bright blue lights rushed down a side street straight toward her. She moved to the side of the road to let the oncoming police car pass, but a beam of blinding white light flashed through her window. She squinted, trying to see where it came from, and realized another vehicle was headed right at her. She jammed her foot on the gas pedal.
   The sound of crunching metal filled her ears. Her body jerked while a force she couldn’t control pulled at her. Oh God! Her car did a loop-de-loop. Shattering glass ricocheted around her, fusing with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony flowing from the radio. Her temple smashed against the window, sending more pellets flying all around. The nauseating rolling stopped, leaving her hanging upside down, the seatbelt still holding her in place, her neck angled to the side by the pressure of the crushed roof. God, please make it stop. Oh, God. Please keep me alive for my girls.
   Warm, thick liquid streamed down her face from her neck, dripping into her eyes. The stench of her own blood filled her senses. Searing pain radiated from the back of her head, shooting down her spine, enveloping her entire body. Her vision narrowed, gathering into a single dot of light.
  Ella...Chloe...Mommy loves you.
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About the Author

annamaria bazziAlthough born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country. Upon returning to the states, she promised herself she would speak without an accent. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish. Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing. 
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