Yes, hello February, indeed! As the title suggests, don’t forget that it is a leap year. So, what will you be doing with your extra day?
Firstly, I would like to take a look back at January and everything we have (or haven’t!) managed to achieve.
As revealed at the start of the year, instead of New Years Resolutions I am just going to be tackling a giant to-do list, and this is what I’ve managed so far.
Sorceress Of Flame * Brought first draft up to 50,000 words. * Arranged m/s review.
Other Tasks * I got half way through a book. * Started to enter DofA into a competition but not sure if I will continue.
Website * Monthly book review. * Monthly Author Q&A. * Post regular blog. * Launched new ‘Works’ page. * Brought all of the pages up to date. * Added an events page.
Social Media * Spent more time interacting with the #writingcommunity on Twitter. * Created new aesthetics for IG. * Got back into having a pretty and organised grid. *Post more SofT snippets etc. * Organised my Pinterest board.
I’m pretty happy that a lot of my ‘admin’ activities are done and out of the way, which should allow for more writing and reading.
During January, Sorceress of Truth also made it into the Top 50 Book Covers in the Allauthor.com Cover Contest. This was mostly down to many of you supporting me and voting, so a massive ‘Thank you‘ to each and every one of you.
My main target for February is to focus on book 2, Sorceress of Flame. I would love to reach at least 60,000 words, ideally 65,000, if I want to stick to my November release schedule. The only stumbling block is the school half term holiday, (And boy do we have a week planned.) I can’t wait! Follow my Instagram Stories to see what we get up to.
I don’t think I have much else to say other than watch this space for another great Author Q&A and Book Review.
For my very first Author Q&A we are meeting Sarah Neofield. This week Sarah is celebrating the release of her new book, Number Eight Crispy Chicken, but first lets introduce her properly with a bio.
Sarah Neofield grew up in regional South Australia before living in Japan for a year. Always fascinated by language, she completed a PhD in applied linguistics in 2010. She has written extensively on the topics of intercultural communication, how we communicate online, and language learning.
At the age of 30, Sarah resigned from her position as a university lecturer to travel, and since has visited over 60 countries. She blogs about the connection between language, money, and social justice at enrichmentality.com, and about reading, writing, and creativity at sarahneofield.com
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author? I wanted to be an author ever since I can remember. When I started school, my class was tasked with creating fabric representations of ourselves in the future for a quilt. I created a rather detailed rendition of myself as an author, painstakingly drawing in all of the individual pages in the stack of books my future self had apparently written. Unfortunately, one of the mums helping the class deemed it ‘too fiddly’ to cut out of cotton, and suggested something easier, like a checkout operator at Target instead.
As things go, I didn’t end up working at Target (which is probably a good thing, considering the only Target in my hometown closed down!). But I did end up writing a book. Several, actually. After completing my PhD in Linguistics, I wrote and edited a number of academic books, book chapters, and journal articles. While I still love research, my heart still lie with fiction, which was why, after a number of years of hard-core saving and investing, when my husband and I finally quit our jobs to travel the world, I returned to my first love, creative writing.
As for why I became an indie author specifically… Like many authors, I began by sending my manuscript out to publishers. I knew I didn’t want to send my work to a large publisher, but I became increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of even a small publisher having control over my work as time went on. While I completely respect the work of those in the publishing industry, I wanted to write something a bit different. It was a feeling I’d experienced before, and I knew that I had to be brave and go down the indie path.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? Since quitting my job teaching and researching linguistics and computer-mediated communication a few years ago, I’ve been traveling the world with my husband, volunteering, sightseeing, and working on various projects. I continue to write non-fiction language-related stuff, and I maintain a blog about language and money at enrichmentality.com.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? The goal of my writing is to influence people. To make them laugh, and then think.
My greatest joy is when someone tells me that my book made them laugh – or cry.
I hope to bring joy to others with my words, but more importantly, I hope to use humour to get readers to engage with the kinds of topics that are hugely important, but which we might otherwise ignore.
Sometimes the world’s problems can seem insurmountable. Like there’s nothing we can do, so why even bother.
That’s why hearing that someone read my book, and changed their mind even a little about, for example, treating our fellow human beings with compassion, brings me great joy.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process? My writing process varies depending on the story I’m writing. Sometimes I begin with an idea in mind, and work out a plot from that. Other times, I’m more intrigued by a character or a place, and have to write the first draft to discover what it’s ‘about’ for myself. But always, I need a message of some description. A touchstone to come back to, and against which every decision I make will be assessed.
Usually, I write on my laptop, but if I’m travelling, I type on my phone (large chunks of Number Eight Crispy Chicken were written while I was actually stranded at the airport that inspired the story!)
All of my fiction is based in part on real-life facts and statistics, so my writing process inevitably includes a large amount of reading and research. I’d estimate that I read or listen to well over 100 books and articles and documentaries and podcasts in the course of writing a novel. The bulk of my ‘writing process’ is probably actually reading!
How do you get inspired to write? Oddly enough, getting stuck in airports seems to be a common thread! I was first inspired to pick up writing again after being stranded in an airport due to a cancelled flight. The resultant book was terrible, but it rekindled my love of writing.
The next time I was stranded in an airport, I started writing about the experience, and wondered what character might best benefit from being in that situation. And that’s when I hit upon the idea of an immigration minister, trapped in an airport.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers? There is no such thing as an aspiring writer. If you write, you are a writer. Don’t aspire. Just do it. You do not need anyone’s permission or endorsement. Write, and you are a writer.
What are your five favorite books, and why? In no particular order… A Confederacy of Dunces. From the first page I was hooked. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. This book opened my eyes to a whole new way of getting a message across. Catch-22. No other book has made me laugh out loud in one line, and then cry actual tears in the next. Slaughterhouse Five. What an illustration of absurdity and fragmentation? The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The first line alone never fails to make me smile.
How do you discover the ebooks you read? Since I started travelling full-time, ebooks have become more important to me than ever. While I still love browsing bricks-and-mortar bookstores, most of the time I do so now, it’s to find books that I later want to download electronically! I’m extremely lucky that my local libraries (I have an obscene number of library cards!) back home let me access their catalogues via Libby, Overdrive and Cloud Library from anywhere in the world, and I’ve discovered lots of new indie-published ebooks through these apps, which has been fantastic. I love the #bookstagram community on Instagram and find lots of wonderful books to read that way. I’m also a big fan of just browsing the pages of sites like Smashwords and other retailers to find out what’s new. Then, of course, I have a select group of friends whose advice on books I trust implicitly, and I’ll buy pretty much whatever they say!
What books are on your reading list this year? I’m going to be focusing on indie authors, and have a great list of books to check out. Envy, Finding Evelyn, Soul Bearer, Sorceress of Truth, The Black Orchids, The Little Red Boat, and Sentient Being are all on my TBR stack. I’m also looking forward to the release of Beacon City Confidential, and I’ve been putting together a new reading challenge – 20 independently published books and stories that include the numbers 1-20 in their titles in 2020.
Number Eight Crispy Chicken
Minister for Asylum Deterrence and Foreign Investment, Peter Ruddick, is en route to the remote Pulcherrima Island, the site of his latest privately-run, fast food chain-inspired detention centre. But chaos ensues when Peter misses his connecting flight and finds himself confined to the visa-free zone of the Turgrael airport, without a business lounge in sight.
Stranded in a foreign territory with nothing but McKing’s Crispy Chicken burgers to eat and nobody but a bleeding heart liberal, his seat-mate Jeremy Bernard for company, Peter’s misunderstandings of Turgistani language and culture result in his arrest on suspicion of terrorism, perversion, and espionage.
Peter has always had the power to get away with just about anything, but how will he sweet talk his way out of this one? What if he winds up – like those in his centres – indefinitely detained?
What inspired you to write Number Eight Crispy Chicken? My books are inspired by my travels: not necessarily specific locations, but the experience of being an outsider, of crossing borders, and of learning new things.
Number Eight Crispy Chicken had two major inspirations.
Firstly, like Peter, I wound up stranded in a foreign airport. Much of what happens to him (minus the arrests!) actually happened to me.
Secondly, when developing a character to inhabit this world, an immigration minister seemed fitting… Frustrated by conversations with friends about immigration and dissatisfied protesting and donating, I wanted to see if I could engage people who usually avoid these topics using humour.
Is there going to be a follow up to Number Eight Crispy Chicken? Yes! Although it won’t be a sequel, Propaganda Wars carries on in the same universe… and brings you even more McKing’s delights!
Number Eight Crispy Chicken is available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Apple.
Back in October I began reading the first book in The Sentinels series, Saving Her, by Cassidy Reyne. Unfortunately, due to NaNoWriMo, our family’s birthday season and then Christmas, I’ve only recently finished and I’m still dealing with the hangover.
Here’s my review, without the spoilers.
We learn pretty quickly that Nikolas is a well liked, hard working, demigod. You know the type, swoon worthy hot, but he’s not showy or vain with it. To him, it’s just the way he was built, it’s in his DNA. He is a Sentinel.
‘What is a Sentinel?’ I hear you cry. Well, for the answer you will have to read the book, but it does give Nik some abilities. We’re not talking Superman here, but they definitely come in handy during the course of the story.
Nik has been unlucky in love in recent years and has thrown himself into his work, that is until Anya slips into the seat next to him on a plane bound for New York. For reasons I won’t go into now, they become close very quickly, and gradually their harrowing pasts come to light. Unfortunately, a happy ever after isn’t on the cards… yet.
Kidnappings, explosions, deadly viruses -it really does have it all.
Cassidy has a great voice across the pages, going straight for the details and the heart strings. I joke in my writing group that I have a steel heart when it comes to books, very few have made me shed a tear, but Cassidy really goes for the feels. You’ll find yourself laughing, crying, and shouting in frustration at the characters and their decisions and reactions.
Cassidy has created an amazing world of extraordinarily talented people. With that being said, this isn’t a fantasy or a sci-fi. No, it’s a gritty romantic suspense that is heavy on the romance.
If you are looking for hearts and flowers, you will get them in bucket loads, but don’t be fooled. With them comes the tale of two individuals who have gone through hell to find each other, but they never got the memo that their troubles were only just beginning.
I would highly recommend giving this a read, you will be entertained from start to finish, and I give you warning that you will struggle to put it down. I can’t wait to read The Sentinels 2: Saving Him. It’s sat in my tbr pile taunting me, but I have another book to read first. For your copy of The Sentinels:Saving Her, head to Amazon.
Here we are in 2020 already —it only feels like a few years ago when we were seeing in the millennium— and we are almost reaching the mid point of January!
I’ve decided not to set resolutions this year. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet or anything but, besides being podgy around the middle and having difficulty saying no at times, I’m fairly happy with who I am at the moment.
How about you? Have you set any resolutions? Do you ever stick to them?
For 2020 I’ve created a list of tasks I want to work through instead, and I thought you might like to have a gander. Plus, in the spirit of accountability, if they’re out there I have to do them, right?
Sorceress Of Flame * Complete the first draft. * First round edits. * Arrange m/s review. * Second round edits. * Beta readers. * Third round edits. * Proof read. * Arrange cover. * Arrange formatting. * Arc readers. * Publish (Hopefully Nov).
Other Tasks * Read 20 books throughout the year. * Finish batching up the murder mystery for testers. * Attend 3 events as an author. * Organise some swag. * Take part in CampNaNo (April). * Take part in NaNoWriMo (November). * Enter DofA into competition (by Feb).
Website * Monthly book review. * Monthly Author Q&A. * Monthly writing tip. * Post regular updates. * Redo my ‘Releases’ page. * Bring all of the pages up to date. * Add an events page.
Social Media * Spend more time interacting with the #writingcommunity on Twitter. * Talk to more reviewers/book bloggers on IG. * Create new aesthetics for IG. * Get back into having a pretty and organised grid. *Post more SofT snippets etc. * Try to organise my Pinterest board. * Add F1 story to Wattpad.
Don’t add any more books to my TBR pile!
On top of all of this, I will also try to make sure I don’t lose my daughter under a mountain of washing, that everyone remains fed and watered, and the walls don’t crumble under the weight of dust and clutter.
I wish you all a successful 2020. Now, what shall I tick off first?
As usual, November turned out to be crazy month for me. If I wasn’t writing birthday cards and attending kids parties, I was hiding in my office, coffee shop, bathroom…, pretty much anywhere I could spend some time writing. Why was that? Well, it was NaNoWriMo of course!
What is NaNoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month takes place in November every year and it’s a special time that drives writers into a strange state of hibernation. Often it ends with them huddled in a corner under a duvet, rocking backwards and forwards, and mumbling to them selves about word counts with their hands stuck in a claw like position (Likely from holding a pen or hovering over a keyboard).
It’s a challenge that we set for ourselves, with no real prize other than the sense of achievement and a partly written novel. The aim of the game is to write 50,000 words (1,667 a day).
It’s not all doom and gloom though, or what would be the point in taking part?
It’s a challenge that has spread worldwide. Across the website and social media platforms, it creates a buzz around an activity that, for most of the time, is seen as solitary. People talk. People encourage. And, more importantly, we support each other through the difficult times. These hints, tips and strategies can be used throughout the year and make the whole process worthwhile.
Want to know how I did?
That’s right, I’m a winner! I managed 50,000 words in a month for the second year in a row but this time, it certainly wasn’t easy. I had to rely massively on my support network to drag me through, but we got there in the end.
Last year, I seemed to breeze through it. I wrote a large chunk of the Don of Avery (Working title), a dark mafia romance that is certainly not suitable for YA ears, and eventually wrote ‘The End’ around April time. It seemed only natural that I would continue with that series and write the second book. I even made a book cover to help, erm, motivate me…
Anyway, I was really struggling. I got around 30,000 words in but every word was like pulling teeth. I just wasn’t feeling inspired at all and achieving the 50,000 word goal was looking even more unlikely.
Then, something strange happened.
I knew how I wanted book 2 to end, and I had an idea for a third book which takes place several years later. They are, mostly, the same characters but the storyline from book 1 and 2 has already been tied up, so it’s a brand new plot.
For a non creative type, it can be hard to understand when writers mention that their characters talk to them. Well, in this case my characters completely lynched me and kept walloping me over the head with random conversations and scenes for book 3. I knew I had to get them written down before they left me completely. Unfortunately, they were more akin to a gazillion glass pieces being glued back together rather than the neat and smooth edges of jigsaw pieces.
Suddenly, I found myself inspired again, which you can clearly see where my daily word count massively increases around day 18.
So, what did I learn this time around?
This time I learned that, no matter how well you prepare, sometimes you just have to go with the flow and not be afraid to change course. I may have spread my 50,000 words over two different projects, but I am still a winner.
From now on it’s going to be a big of a struggle to pick which project to work on. I desperately want to finish Sorceress of Flame, and that’s going to take priority in the new year, but I now have two other novels to work on, plus a murder mystery to finish packaging up.
All I know is, I’m going to take it easy over the next few weeks. If I feel like writing, I’ll write, but I have a huge TBR mountain waiting for me, along with two books I am eager to beta read.
I hope you all have a great Christmas and I will be back as soon as I can!