Back in April I introduced you to the up and coming author, Alison Aldridge. Well, the time has come for her debut novel, Ocean Heart, to be released on December 1st. Last year I was lucky enough to read an early copy of Ocean Heart as a beta reader, and I can’t wait for you all to read it, and to pick up a paperback for myself.
High school teen Mariah’s life is anything but simple. Between a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, her powers awaken early. When Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic, she causes more harm than good. The soul reapers are coming and there’s a werewolf hungry for merblood. All secrets wash ashore sooner or later, and Mariah’s about to discover hers. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble. Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake? A gripping story about a mermaid, self acceptance, and romance that literally sparks.
Here’s what Ally had to say about the writing of Ocean Heart.
What inspired you to write Ocean Heart? My current project has been inspired by my personal experiences; my hometown, an image, other stories, and music.
I married my best friend, but getting together wasn’t easy. The complications of a best friend romance is one of the challenges my MC faces.
I was very inspired by Rachel Vincent’s werecat series. I loved how she integrated fantasy into real life. I wanted to do something similar, but in the UK, with teens and create my own secret world.
Ellie Goulding’s song, Starry Eyed, was playing on the radio and it inspired my main character, Mariah; A teen, first love and a no control over her lightening powers.
I’m a huge fan of The Little Mermaid. As a child, I got teased for my red hair. Luckily, my best friend Jo loved my hair. We were about age 7 when we went to the cinema for my birthday to watch the movie and she said, “Ariel is beautiful, like you”. Those words meant so much to me and comforted me when others were mean. I think a lot of teens experience changes that cause them to question where they belong. I wanted Mariah to be a misfit that learns to accept her uniqueness. It made sense for her to be a mermaid with red hair.
Early in the process I found an image online that inspired a scene in my book. It was a pair of tangled legs underwater. The girl is wearing a red silk dress and the boy is wearing denim jeans. When I saw the image, it inspired a key scene in the novel.
Fancy an excerpt? I thought you might!
Keen to know more? Head to allyaldridge.com for all the details hot off the press. You can check out my full interview here but, I did have one final question that I think you’ll want the answer to.
Is there going to be a follow up to Ocean Heart? Yes. The next book is Sky Heart and follows Kiely.
Kiely is the nemesis in book 1, but I always believe there are two sides to every story. Kiely is rebuilding herself after hitting rock bottom.
I’ve almost finished the first draft. I know what must happen but I struggle with endings. As Ocean Heart is my primary project, Sky Heart is on hold. Hopefully when I get back to Sky Heart, I’ll get those last chapters finished.
My plan is for the series to follow different shifter/spiriter types. There will be an optimum order but can be read as a stand-alone. There may be spin off novellas too. I have endless ideas, it’s always time I’m short of.
Ocean Heart will be out on December 1st and is available for preorder now! Stay up date with Ally over on Instagram.
Well that escalated quickly. We find ourselves about to enter another lockdown at midnight, though schools remain open this time (for now), and we are all sitting with baited breath at the outcome of the US election. I’m not into politics, and I have almost zero knowledge of the US voting system, but it’s like watching a horror movie that you can’t tear your eyes from.
Anyway, taking a look back at October, we really enjoyed our little holiday to Center Parcs. There were a lot of things that we didn’t get to do that we normally would, but at no point did we feel any concern for the procedures in place to maintain distancing. It meant I didn’t get in as much writing time as I’d hoped but we made some good family memories.
I spent a lot of my spare time, during the rest of the month, prepping for National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. We now have a large map of Blackpool, circa 1895, with black and white photos of popular landmarks that may appear in my project, decorating the wall of my office.
So, on to November and, at the moment, I am staying on track to meet the 50,000 word target. I’m writing a novella, which will be a prequel to Sorceress of Truth, and focuses on the life of Kylan and how he first met Mary. I’m finding the writing style a lot easier than I anticipated, mixing a more formal ‘voice’ of the Victorian era with a modern twist.
I would say that the genre is a historical paranormal romance and would be more for an adult audience. The great thing is I intend for it to be free! Once it is written and formatted, etc, the project I am calling ‘Welcome to the Circus’ for now, will be available as a free download to everyone who has signed up to my newsletter.
I’ve not started sending them out just yet but you can sign up below to be one of the first to receive news, updates and exclusive content.
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Before I head off, I wanted to let you know about a brand new release that I know you will love. By Elexis Bell, an author that I interviewed earlier in the year (You can see it here), A Heart Of Salt And Silver sounds immense! Demi-demon’s, vampires, werewolves and a location known as the Forest of Immortals, what more could you ask for?
Right, I can hear the circus calling so I’d better get going! Until next time…
This month’s Author Q&A is with indie author and cosplayer, Xander Cross. Check out Xander’s Instagram,Facebook or Twitter and see for yourself the amazing images peppering the pages. Better yet, you can dm or message him for signed copies of his books!
Xander Cross mostly lives a boring life with his spouse and cat. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History, which he uses to write his paranormal fiction. A lifelong enthusiast of Japanese culture and folklore, Xander cosplays as a kitsune yōkai on occasion, and photographic evidence can be found on Instagram and Pinterest under @ayakashi_fox. He’s also published a short novella series as an adjunct to “The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica,” entitled “Come by Night” on Wattpad.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author? My main motivation for going indie with “The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica” is due to the controversial nature of its content. I need the creative control for the main character to say and do things that I can’t imagine a mainstream publishing house being comfortable with. And I also love the control over the book’s appearance.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? I’m always busy. If I’m not writing, editing, and publishing TADA, I’m working on a major side project, like “Come by Night” novelettes. In my spare time, I beta and review read for my fellow indie authors, make digital art, and anything else that pops up. I work from waking to sleeping.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? I adore the second edit. I adore reading the book I essentially wrote for myself, and my OCD loves tweaking it. But the best of all is publishing, holding my book in my hands, and getting my beloved characters out there. When someone tells me that they connected with what I put out there? Over the moon.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process? It’s difficult to explain how I create what I do. I usually see an image that sparks a desperate yearning within me. It fills my heart to almost bursting, you know? So I play with it and daydream adventures/dialogue. Eventually, I write down the scenes I love most, I suppose to make them tangible. Then I start writing the rest in chronological order, more or less. I am renowned for jumping ahead as the inspiration strikes or if I get stuck. I write the first draft, give it a few weeks, edit to second draft, give it to my editor, edit again, beta test, edit again, then I read it into a microphone and give the manuscript its final polish. Then I do all the steps required to publish.
How do you get inspired to write? I just sit down and make myself do it. But if you are referring to the act of creating? It is an amalgamation of images that I see with music. Sometimes the music creates the scenes, sometimes it enhances ones I have. A lot of my work is stitched perfectly to music.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers? I would say: don’t try to get it perfect on the first draft. You’re going to have to edit it anyway, so be prepared to read your manuscript quite a lot. If you want to be a writer, write, even if it is three sentences a day. It adds up, and over time the daily word count will increase. Your endurance will improve. Never give up and keep at it — but take it seriously. Set aside time each day and make yourself do it. You are the only one who can tell your story your way, and it deserves to be told.
What are your five favorite books, and why? I never do well at “favorites” questions because I like lots of things for a variety of different reasons. However, these five authors were the most influential to me as a writer:
Robert Greene, — “The 48 Laws of Power,” “The 33 Strategies of War,” and “The Art of Seduction” (and more!) I read these books as research for my current WIP, but I will be applying all this to my trunked series this spring. Not only is this great for characterizations and layering your plots and making incredible villains, but they are life-transforming on their own merit. I plan to read more titles by this author in the near future.
Chris Voss (former FBI Hostage Negotiator) — “Never Split the Difference” I just started this one as research for TADA Book 3, and it is already a favorite. Profoundly life changing.
George R.R. Martin — “A Song of Ice & Fire” The storytelling style of the first three books of “A Song of Ice & Fire” were influential when I wrote my trunked trilogy, because that is a multi-POV WIP involving political intrigue and war in a medieval setting. I think the third installment of Mr. Martin’s series is the best. The energy, arcs, the wind up… it was captivating. I learned a lot about putting a book together just by listening to the first three as audio books read by Roy Dotrice repeatedly during the summer of 2006.
Jim Butcher — “The Dresden Files” I have to admit Butcher is my literary influence for putting together a fun and thrilling action-adventure in first person. I adore “The Dresden Files.” The 14th book in this series is my favorite.
Sharon K. Penman — “Here Be Dragons” When it comes to historical fiction done brilliant, I have to go with this author. She makes the past engaging, knows political intrigue, and really gets into the psychology of her characters, which happen to be historical figures.
How do you discover the books you read? These days, I find everything via word of mouth, usually written by my indie friends. My TBR is a mile long.
What books are on your reading list this year? Right now I’m reading “Omega Rising” by Douglas Pierce. On the list: “Aspiring” by Astrid V.J., “Divided and Enhanced” by M.J. Unger, “The Burn’s Fire” by N.M. Thorn. “The Hunted Maiden” and “The Seedling’s Song” also by Douglas Pierce. And that’s just the tip of iceberg.
The Dragon Game: Book Two of The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica Book
It is spring 2121, and the Council of Dragons is gathering in New Tokyo for their twelve-year conference. There’s just one problem: the ancient rulers of the Far East believe Youta is a filthy usurper. They seek to destroy the younger dragon for disrupting the old order — and his defiled shrine fox with him. As chief of security for Youta Clan, Hayate cannot afford for anything to go wrong…
Except, a saboteur is on the loose and she has a vengeful spirit on her side. To discover the culprit, Hayate must ally with Konan, a cybernetic human mercenary, and hunt down the diabolical sorceress in a hotel full of enemy dragons and demons before she unleashes her legion of ghosts to destroy them all!
A Supernatural/Cyberpunk Fantasy – rated AD+ for mature content.
What inspired you to write The Dragon Game? “The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica” series was inspired by several things. The first was a post-apocalyptic nightmare and the dream that followed it back around 2004, inspired by Charles de Lint’s “Svaha.” The nightmare featured a plague that is in my series, while the dream was about a male kitsune in that same future world. I never wrote it, and I scrapped the idea because I have a red fox kin character in my trunked trilogy. But in 2016, I saw an image that led me to an anime called “Kamisama Kiss,” which has a white male kitsune leading character. I fell in love with the concept to the point that I realized I kinda wished I could be that thing. I asked myself what an immortal life would be like in the world that we are creating, and TADA was the answer.
Is there going to be a follow up to The Dragon Game? TADA is a twenty book series, mostly planned out already with a little room for inspiration on the fly [confirmed plantser]. The plan is to release each book every autumn. Last year it was “The Origin of the White Wind,” which introduces Hayate and his terrifying world. “The Dragon Game,” coming out on October 16th, takes place a little over a year after Book One ends.
The Dragon Game: Book Two of The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica Series is available from Amazon now!
Well that was an interesting September. On one hand I don’t think I reached a single one of my goals, but on the other I managed to fit in so many other things – my days were never boring! In fact, I managed to create a new trailer for Sorceress of Truth. What do you think?
My creativity really suffered during the month and I know it was because everything at home was in such a mess. I can’t work in a messy environment. My head just won’t settle into the task at hand and instead will create a gazillion to do lists and will have an attention span worse than when I try to follow The Witcher storyline and focus on Geralt’s leather trousers instead. Easily done, my friend, easily done.
Anyway, I think we are getting somewhere. After completing a spot of decorating, planning some more home improvements for the coming month or two and setting some de-cluttering tasks, I can rest easier. And, boy do I have some plans. First up though is a short family break to one of our favourite holiday spots, Center Parcs.
We were quite mixed about going, what with the dreaded ‘rona but we were quite happy with the procedures put in place around the park. Plus, there comes a point when the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, such as the time spent as a family in the outdoors. With our Wales trip having been cancelled I really need to get out under the trees and recharge.
The remainder of October is going to be spent prepping the project that I’m going to be working on during National Novel Writing Month in November. I’ve already decided it will be a short story or novella that is a prequel to Sorceress of Truth and will be available as a free download as part of my newsletter. I don’t think it will be a big enough project to require 50,000 words so I will likely focus on the first draft of Sorceress of Flame too.
Will you be doing NaNoWriMo? I’d love to hear about your projects. Why not head over to my Instagram page for my daily updates and to share your journey?
There are a few other things in the pipe-line, such as hosting a webinar for World Indie Warriors about story bibles and how they can help you with your writing, and editing the short story that I’ve been meaning to upload to Wattpad for the last year.
Before I go, once again I ask for you to sign up to my newsletter. I’m not sure when it will start yet but, please sign up below and you will receive all of my news straight to your inbox.
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Anyway, I hope you have a great October, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily updates of what is happening in the life of me!
Our September Author Q&A features indie author, Grace Herbst. Check out her Instagram page and see for yourself her love of Disney, The Babysitter’s Club books and the escapades of her bestie, Molly.
Growing up in a small town in Illinois didn’t hinder Grace Herbst’s creativity or her passion for storytelling. Instead, she was even more inspired to write about the close-knit community of a small town. Since 2010, she has used her creativity to dive in to fanfiction and turned the worlds of television shows One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy upside down.
Overcoming obstacles and seeing a light at the end of the tunnel has always been a prominent theme in her stories. When she’s not causing chaos in the fanfiction world or her original stories, she’s fighting off her weakness of chocolate. She currently resides outside of Detroit, Michigan with her Wonder Dog, Molly.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author? I researched the pros and cons of both being traditionally published and self-published. For me, the pros of being self-published outweighed the pros for traditionally published. I wanted to have complete creative control. I wanted to write the story I wanted to write without following a certain trend. Yes, it was going to be challenging but I was prepared for the journey.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? When I’m not writing, I am losing myself in a great book, or playing with my lovely writing companion: my dog Molly. I also have a part-time job that takes me away from writing, but I’m learning to balance my time to be productive.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? Using my creativity to come up with stories that people enjoy reading.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process? I’m a proud pantser. For my first draft, I just write whatever comes out of my head. When it comes to my second draft, that’s when I really read my story and figure out what scenes go where. My third draft is when I include descriptions and actions. Then I send it to my editor before I write the fourth draft.
How do you get inspired to write? I’ve always had a passion for writing. Ever since my childhood, I have been writing little stories. I have thought about pursuing my dream, but I didn’t know how to take that first step forward. It wasn’t until I began researching about the different options of publishing that I really pushed myself.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers? I’ve learned this from another author: the first thing to do before you start this journey is to define your definition of success. Do you want to see your book on a bookshelf? Is your goal from this is to make lots of sales? Or do you (like me) want to focus on improving your craft and building a loyal fanbase? Answering the question will help you determine which path you want to go on.
What are your five favorite books, and why? I don’t know if I can just choose five books. The Harry Potter series is up high on the list because I just fell in love with that world. The characters. Magic spells. The plot. I don’t think I could write a better plot than what the author did.
One of the more recent books I read that easily became one of my favorite books was The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan. I knew Hilarie as an actress, but I never knew her as a person. Her book really gave me a new perspective of her and it made me respect her even more.
The Shadow Demons saga is also on the list. It’s an urban fantasy series by Sarra Cannon, a self-published author. I have never been so addicted to reading a series before. I love fantasy so this was right up my alley. It has witches and demons. Twists and turns. They are page turners. I highly recommend the series if anyone loves urban fantasy.
How do you discover the books you read? I always had gone to the library and look through books there. After I began self-publishing, I started to look at other self-published authors to see if I was interested in reading their books. The search also included social media once I joined bookstagram.
What books are on your reading list this year? I love Allison Brennan. Her next book is coming out soon: Cold as Ice (Lucy Kincaid #17). I’m looking forward to Jenn McKinlay’s next book in the Library Lover’s Mystery series: One for the Books. I am also interested in reading the Twisted Tales series that tells the “What if” Disney stories.
Behind Closed Doors Book 1: Brave New Girl
Skipping school. Drinking. Partying with a fake ID. Taking the school’s driver’s education car for a joyride. It was all fun and games until a car accident changed everything.
Now Ashley Meyer was determined to forget her wild sophomore year and start anew. No more hanging out with Roxanne Spencer. No more rebelling against her father and new stepmother. No more counseling. In a new town with new friends, Ashley hopes to leave her troubled past behind and move on to a more promising future.
But not everyone is welcoming to the new girl, and Ashley begins to wonder if moving to a new town really is the key to a better life…or whether things would be better if she went back to the city after all.
Take a look at where the series began with Brave New Girl.
What inspired you to write Confident New Chloe? Without giving away the plot, I wanted to write a story about how one person’s actions had consequences that affected the whole family. And, I wanted to try and get everyone’s perspective on this event.
Is there going to be a follow up to Confident New Chloe? Confident New Chloe is my third book in my YA book series dealing with social issues. There are plans for a fourth book that I’m planning to publish in spring 2021.
Behind Closed Doors Book 3: Confident New Chloe will be available from Amazon very soon!