I don’t know about you but August seemed to pass by in the blink of an eye. Gone are the days of 10am wake ups and 3am bedtimes, and with a bump we are back to breakfast arguments and the school run.
While our daily lives have been turned upside down —trust me, I was really apprehensive about sending Amberley back to school— it did bring with it a strange sense of comfort. Like pulling on your favourite hoody, the thought of getting back into some kind of routine brings with it a wave of calmness.
That’s how it felt to me, anyway. Ever the planner and organiser, I like to know what my days will entail. I tend to be one of those strange people who show up on holiday with a homemade itinerary, wanting to make the most of every single minute. It’s why places like Center Parcs are like heaven to me. The ability to book everything, to plan everything to the letter, before we’ve even stepped foot out of the house is part of the fun. It’s for this very reason that I was so good at creating revision tables when I was at school, it’s just a shame I wasn’t as dedicated to the revision.
But, something feels different this time, and I don’t just mean the new procedures and social distancing aspect.
I was hoping that with the start of a fresh school year I would bound straight into days at the computer, that my creativity would suddenly bloom and words would fly out of me like streamers from a party popper. Unfortunately, no such luck, and I find myself eight days into September writing a blog post that should have gone out on the 1st having written no more than 390 words towards my novel.
Granted I’ve had a few other things on, like my husband’s 40th birthday and having some kind of 24 hour sickness bug, but I’m feeling thoroughly unmotivated. Perhaps I’d gotten so used to the Covid routine that it was the norm, and I’m now just in a period of readjustment.
I often tell people to be kind to themselves, to take it easy and maybe today/these days/this week are meant for recovery. So, I’m going to follow my own advice.
I’m not going to get too hung up with my goals this month. If I feel like writing I will, and if not I know my hubby has several new board games that he wants to try out.
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Anyway, I hope you all enjoy your September, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily updates of what is happening in the life of me!
Welcome to my August Author Q&A, and I’m excited to introduce you to N.M. Thorn. After meeting through Instagram, we quickly became friends in the writing community, a place you really need to explore if you are a budding writer. I’m currently five chapters into The Burns Fire, the first book in Thorn’s Fire Salamander Chronicles, and I can definitely say that it’s a gripping read. Being the creative genius behind my book cover for Sorceress of Truth, I think we can all agree that N.M. Thorn is a very talented lady!
N.M. Thorn is an author of the Fire Salamander Chronicles, Urban Fantasy action-adventure series. Currently, she lives in South Florida with her husband and son. Owner of a digital marketing agency by day and a writer by night, she loves spending her time creating new worlds, paranormal planes of existence and anything that could be described as supernatural.
When she is not busy working with everything digital or exploring fantasy worlds, she spends time with her family, reading, painting or practicing martial arts.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author? What if I told you I have no answer to this question? Looking back, I don’t know why I started to write, and what motivated me to open a Word document and type in the first word. It was some internal drive that cannot be explained. A burning need to do it, no matter what. It took me a while to publish my first novel. My husband and my friend, who’s a successful indie author, convinced me to publish my first book. Since I’ve never considered the traditional route, indie publishing was the only choice for me.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? My husband and my son are my biggest supporters, and I enjoy spending time with them. I love art and anything creative. Digital art or hand illustration is something I do for a living and as a hobby. Besides that, I practice a few different styles of martial arts, but I hold a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. The best decision I’ve ever made was to share my love for Martial Arts with my son.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? It is the response from my readers and the communications with them. Answering emails and messages on social media is the favorite part of my day. Knowing that people read my stories and enjoy them makes me incredibly happy. I hope that in the current situation, my books provide at least some escape from reality, allowing my readers to take a break and relax.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process? I always start with the research. Every book of the Fire Salamander Chronicles starts with either a real historical event or a legend, and until I complete my research, I don’t move forward with the writing. I don’t do a detailed outline. However, before I start writing, I make sure I know where my story is going and how it will end.
My editing never ends, and it begins with the first word I put on the paper. I know it is not recommended to edit while writing the 1st draft, but that is exactly what I do, and it works for me. Once I complete a chapter, I read it over. Once I complete an act of my story, I go back and revisit everything I’ve written so far. Not so much to catch the typos, but to make sure I didn’t leave or introduced any holes and that everything, including the dialog, makes sense. I do catch typos and correct them, too. After the first draft is complete, I put my work through three-four more rounds of editing before I finally format the manuscript.
How do you get inspired to write? I don’t wait for inspiration, I just sit down and write. Every day. No matter how I feel about it. In most cases, the inspiration comes while I’m writing.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers? Believe in yourself. Give yourself some credit. Trust that you can do anything you put your mind to and don’t let people’s negativity stop you from doing what you love. Read, learn the craft, write, and then keep writing. This is the only way to improve.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Storm Front by Jim Butcher. Actually, any book of The Dresden File series. These books are what made me fall in love with the Urban Fantasy genre in the first place.
The Witch World by Andre Norton. This was the book that introduced me to the Historical Fantasy Genre. The writing style is absolutely beautiful, and the story keeps you at the edge of your seat all the way to the last page.
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. I would read anything written by this amazing writer, but the The Earthsea Cycle Series is my favorite.
The Iron King by Maurice Druon. My love for historical fiction started with the Accursed Kings series. It is still one of my favorite series in this genre.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. Historical fiction action-adventure. Please don’t watch the movie. Read the book. Even in translation, it is an amazing masterpiece.
How do you discover the books you read? At the moment, I read mostly books written by Indie Authors. Most of them I discover through Instagram, but I do read books recommended by family and friends.
The Fire Salamander Chronicles
When you’re a supernatural weapon of mass destruction, it can be hard to walk in the world of humans, especially when you work for the FBI…
Zane Burns–a.k.a. Gunz–is a Fire Salamander who works for a secret paranormal division of the FBI. After receiving a late-night call from his boss, Zane gets involved into a multiple homicide investigation. Little does he know, he is headed right into a storm of supernatural mayhem powered by dark magical forces.
Chased by supernatural thugs and blackmailed by the Russian mob, soon he becomes entangled in a web of lies and intrigue, making it impossible to tell who is friend and who is foe. Time is running out. The stakes are growing. And if he is to survive, he must push himself and his abilities further than he ever has before.
The Burns Fire – The Fire Salamander Chronicles Book One
What inspired you to write The Fire Salamander Chronicles? The idea of the Fire Salamander was born while I was working on the character of Kal, the Fire Elemental. I was researching all possible magical beings who could represent the magnificent Fire Elemental and came across Salamanders in medieval lore. That’s how the idea of the Fire Salamander came to life. The character of Gunz (Zane Burns) was introduced in a trilogy that hasn’t been published yet, but the Fire Salamander Chronicles is the spin-off from the trilogy.
Is there going to be a follow up to The Burns Enigma? Yes. If everything goes as planned, I am planning to release the sixth book of the Fire Salamander Chronicles in September.
The Fire Salamander Chronicles are available from Amazon, and free on Kindle Unlimited. Sign up to N.M. Thorn’s newsletter for a free novella prequel to The Fire Salamander Chronicles, The Burns Path.
Okay, so I don’t quite mean swords and shields, and blood and gore. That’s a little too… energetic for my liking, unless there’s a roaring fire, fluffy slippers and a mug of hot chocolate waiting for me.
“What the heck?” I hear you cry, but bear with me.
World Indie Warriors began its life as a collective group of creatives who got on really well and all had something in common, they were independent, meaning they had no multi million pound establishments backing their work. Everything they did, they did themselves —writing, editing, formatting, cover design, publishing, marketing— or they scrimped and saved their hard earned cash to pay another company to do some of the work for them.
I won’t go into the how’s and why’s, I’m sure many of you have already had experiences of your own, but the industry isn’t kind to indie creatives. As I mentioned in a recent Heart-to-Heart with The Magic Book Corner, there is a lot of information out there about self publishing, and most of it contradictory, but I can’t help feel that it is a tactic on behalf of the big business to dissuade us. In a world that is dominated by five or six big named publishers (Many of the small publishers being owned by these bigger companies also.), they certainly wouldn’t want the masses to eat into their profit margins, it just isn’t good business.
And thus lies the problem.
To these big publishers, an author or a poet (e.g.), are just numbers on a page. And, even if you do manage to make it onto their books, as soon as the numbers don’t make sense it’s “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye!”, if you’re lucky. They could, depending on the contract you signed, retain all the rights to your hard work, your sweat and tears and late nights downing red wine (Is that just me?).
“But it’s my dream to be published!” I can imagine you shouting at the screen of whatever device you’re reading on and, guess what, it was my dream too. But, having looked into this more and more, and seeing the number of writers with publishing deals backing away and doing it themselves, I can say that traditional publishing is not the rosy pipe dream you may be chasing.
So, to cut a very long story short, World Indie Warriors was born. A safe haven for these intrepid trailblazers to commune, discuss, and share their expertise and wisdom. To stop a creative industry being about numbers and breathe fresh life into it. But, they didn’t want to keep all of this to themselves like Gollum and The One Ring. Something this powerful was destined for bigger things. The doors were flung open and others were welcomed in, not just writers but poets, artists, photographers, voice actors, book bloggers, cover designers and any other industry you can think of where you are an indie creative, or you provide a service or offer support to indie creatives.
If you’re an indie, you belong. If you’re thinking about being an indie, you belong. If you like the indie community, you belong. If you’re flirting with the idea of maybe checking out indie creatives, you belong. You belong!
– World Indie Warriors
Now, with a growing following, there is a Facebook Page, Instagram Page, a members Facebook Group and a website. We also have a regular brochure, which is about to become an eZine where, as a member, you can advertise your books and services. In the coming months, exclusively for our members, we will be holding a host of workshops. These will be on everything from grammar to psychology and marketing to planning.
Want to get involved? Just take a look at the links I’ve dropped above and, before you ask, there is no catch. There is NO membership fee and there is NO charge to be on the eZine. We don’t have expectations to give back, but we do have lots of opportunities ranging from writing a blog to being a mentor, to being on a team. The group wasn’t created with money in mind, we are all volunteers doing it for the love of ours, and others, craft.
This group to help expand the stage for diverse voices. Your voice. My voice. Our voices. Voices that have been muffled or silenced. We are here to support those voices and expand the stage for ALL of our voices.
World Indie Warriors
This is what World Indie Warriors is all about, and this why you should get involved. I can’t wait to see you in our members group.
So it’s August… anyone else feeling completely deflated?
This time of year I’ve normally just been to spend a few days with family, had a night or two away just my daughter and I, had several fun and interesting days out, and would be in the middle of packing for our annual camping trip to Wales.
Instead, I find myself locked at home in another local tightening of rules that prevents me from seeing any family. While the campsite that we stay on is open, we don’t feel comfortable going there and using the shared facilities, and the same goes for attractions. Many shops and museums, etc, are open around us but, unless it’s an outdoor activity, we aren’t willing to risk it.
It’s made me feel really horrible as a mom. My daughter’s summer holiday is passing by at the speed of light, and she’s not been able to enjoy any of it. I know I’m not alone in my thinking, and there are plenty of people in a much worse situation than us, but it doesn’t ease my sadness and, if I’m honest, anger that by the time this is over she can pretty much wipe a year from her life. Our life.
We’ve been robbed and cheated. It’s not to say that this year would have been super amazing. For all we know things could have conspired against us and we would have had to cancel plans anyway, but that would have been on us.
I don’t want to be one of those people going on about missed education. Yeah it’s important, and yes homeschooling was a nightmare, but it goes beyond not knowing their times tables and the difference between to, two and too. It’s all the other things that go along with it, like school trips, building relationships and, in our case, my daughters first overnight residential.
I hope that if you are experiencing something similar, by speaking up I’ve somehow helped and, that you know you aren’t alone. If you do need someone to talk to, I’m always around (Mostly on Instagram.).
With all of that being said, it will come as no surprise that I didn’t push myself too hard during Camp NaNoWriMo. I set myself a goal of 7,000 words towards my mafia series and somehow managed to smash that with a total of 14,108 words.
As I concentrated on my writing, unfortunately I wasn’t able to keep up with reading. In fact, I didn’t even pick up a book during July! But, as I searched for activities to entertain the little one, I did dip my paintbrushes into some watercolours, something I haven’t done in a very long time. Perhaps I might bring them out again, when I have that golden egg called time.
I had intended for this post to come out right at the start of the month but, just like everything else at the moment, it seemed to pass me by. It wouldn’t be a monthly catch-up without my goals, so here they are:
In August I aim to write 1,000 words per day on Sorceress of Flame. I’m hoping that will bring me much closer to ‘the end’ and I’ll finally have that elusive first draft. To date I have managed around 10,000 words, so I’m not too far off achieving that.
My second and final goal is to have fun. I want to try and enjoy what time we do have left as a family before school restarts, even if it is just going for a few walks and eating garden picnics.
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Right! Time for me to do some housework and stop the living room from looking like a bomb has hit it.
July’s Author Q&A is with Megan Jones. We first met through Instagram and a Facebook group for writers, and it was there we both discovered that we are in the same part of the World.
Megan’s new release is in my basket on Amazon, waiting for the day I can add to my TBR pile. Take a look below at what it’s all about, and where the inspiration came from.
I’m Megan Jones. I started writing when I was around 12/13, and all the ideas I had continued to linger in my head for a long time. Then I did something about it. A Drug called Freedom was started when I was thirteen. It travelled with me through my life. Since then I have graduated University, got married, and have spent eight years working in childcare. But Emma and Jake kept returning to me. After I finished my degree, I returned to the Apex Division and the ideas would not stop flowing. So much so that I am now writing the 9th book. A book I never knew existed.
I am from Yorkshire; England and I love it here. It truly is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I’m now coming up to my 27th birthday and achieving things I never thought were possible.
Welcome to the Apex Division everyone.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author? A Friend who was an indie author. She was real and reachable as an author and it really inspired me because I want people who love my work, or who have been touched by my work, to be able to contact me and reach out. And for me to be able to reach back.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? I love spending time with friends and family. I walk my dogs a lot, I’m so fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the North Yorkshire countryside, and York is only a short drive away. I like cinema and films, me and my husband watch a lot. We really enjoy the cinematic experience.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? The freedom of being able to put anything on a page. Between me and my laptop, there is no judgement or limitation and a lot of my writing gets changed but it’s the freedom for ideas to come to life.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process? Sit down and write. I don’t plan, nothing has a structure until I write it. Everything happens in my head and then flows onto the page.
How do you get inspired to write? When I was younger, it would be anything that caught my eye or my ears. A part of a film, music, or photos. But now, it is more what my own characters have become, and wanting to tell each of their stories.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers? There isn’t a wrong way to write or create. You will find your audience. You will find your own way of doing things. And, it might take time, but find your own little world and bask in it.
What are your five favorite books, and why? I have books I love because they first got me into reading, they were the first books I was hooked on as a child and a teenager. First was Harry Potter, my favourite one being Prisoner of Azkaban. I remember getting Order of the Phoenix through my door, at 6 in the morning and I was 10 years old! I ended up reading as much as I could before school.
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, and all the book by Louise Rennison. They really set the tone for my teenage reading and the tone of first person for me. How a book can be from someone’s point of view, but you still feel really involved.
More recently, I really loved The High Druid’s Blade by Terry Brooks. I liked his other stuff and have read it, but for some reason, I liked Paxon much more than his other lead males.
Gods of Asphalt by H.E.Ellis, because she is the writer I was talking about above and it really opened my eyes to indie authors.
We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman. It’s a book I will never forget because it was so thought provoking and touching, it’s something I would never usually read but was so glad I picked up. I don’t think I’ll ever read another book like it and that’s maybe why I loved it so much.
How do you discover the books you read? At the moment, I’m trying to read indie only. I’m reading a lot of books from Story Origin, to help authors out with reviews, and I’m trying to read books from Indie’s who have inspired and helped me on Instagram too.
What books are on your reading list this year? My list is huge at the moment, and like I said, full of indie authors. Top of my list is to finish Kara. S Weaver’sCrown of Conspiracy. Then I want to move onto her second book. I have all three of J. M. Bucklers books on my list. I have Envy downloaded onto my kindle app and ready to go!
A Drug Called Freedom
★Have you ever read a story where the main character gets pushed down and continuously gets back up again? Sure, you have. But I assure you. I’m different.★
I’m the most powerful person on the planet. I simply don’t know it yet. To get to the point of knowing it, I must be pushed to the edge of death and back. I must learn to trust again. And I must become part of the Apex Division. My story is full of death and destruction. It’s also full of hot romance and huge life lessons. The question is – can you grit your teeth during the hard parts to see if I make it? To see if I become powerful enough to get revenge on the people who hurt me. To see if I grow up enough to trust the people around me. To see if I truly am immortal.
★Come test your limits with me – Emma Cooper. And Welcome to the Apex Division. ★
What inspired you to write Apex Division: A Drug Called Freedom? Well it all started with my first series which was called Realm Keepers, an epic fantasy version of Apex Division, which is urban and set in a not too distant future. I started it when I was twelve, as I was writing it, my characters became great, but the storyline became something I had read over and over again in epic fantasy. So, I switched it up and took the characters with me. I had over a million words in that series, it was really hard to let it go but what the characters and the story became by moving it into an urban setting was much more exciting, and I’ve gained more than I have lost.
Is there going to be a follow up to A Drug Called Freedom? Many many more. At the moment, there is 12 more that I’ve planned to write, but I really don’t know where the Apex Division will end for me. The next book, which I’m hoping to be out soon, is An Addiction Called Loyalty. Followed by The Hangover that is Honesty, The Withdrawal that Comes with the Past, and then to end that series, The Hope that Comes in Redemption. We then move onto the next Apex Division series, which combines epic fantasy and urban fantasy in The Definition of Mercy.