Just Finished…On a Foreign Field

This my first historical YA book in about a year, and this was a nice refresher.

Hazel writes about war and brotherhood really well, letting the dialogue and actions of her characters show the camaraderie and affection that exists between them. Reeve is interesting in his development, from being somewhat naive and idealistic as an English knight, to being more idealistic and honourable as a Scottish rebel, but more realistically so.

I liked the presentation of true brothers and loyalty between soldiers in this book – it felt quite realistic, and I do believe that people fighting for a cause they believe in, over and above a paycheck or lofty ideal, will be the stronger of the two. This definitely came through in this novel.

Wallace was an interesting character – I often found myself lost in the ‘domestic’ level of the story, watching the men going about their daily lives, that I forgot that some of the characters were significant historical figures. They were accessible and admirable at the most basic human level; they supported one another and valued brotherhood and security for their families above all else.

The historic backdrop is well presented: from the battles and lengthy breaks between them, to the villages and people they encounter. Hazel is very descriptive in her writing and I felt she built a strong world around her characters that I could visualise and relate to.

Overall rating: 4* This was an interesting read, with strong characters and for me, was a new take on seeing Wallace from an Englishman’s perspective. The historical notes and ‘add in’ scenes at the end of the novel are interesting for readers and writers alike, for understanding how historical research and facts became fiction.

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Join us on Thursday for an interview with author of On a Foreign Field, Hazel B West, to find out more about this book and her other writing!

Guest Post…My Journey by Tony Talbot

 Blog regular Tony Talbot’s latest book was released last week! It looks fantastic and you can check out the book and teaser beneath today’s special guest post from Tony himself, talking about his writing journey, from first sentence to Eight Mile Island, his fourth novel. Speaking of the new book: you can enter to win your very own copy in our giveaway! **CLICK HERE**

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“Even a journey of a hundred miles begins with one.” – Chinese proverb

In case you missed it, I’ve just finished writing my fourth book in four years. I know, sometimes I can’t believe it either. Four books is four times as many as some people many in a lifetime; on the other hand, to some people, it’s nothing but the start of their career.

It seemed like a good time to take a look back and see if I’ve learned anything. How is Eight Mile Island (2011-2012) different from Over the Mountain (2008-2009)? What have I learned from it all?

One of the biggest differences for me is this, what I’m typing right now. My self-promotion for OtM was non-existent. I posted about it a few times on the Amazon boards (The awful ghetto of the meet-the-author forum was still a nascent nightmare back then). I didn’t have a webpage or a Facebook account. Didn’t tweet, didn’t know about Goodreads (Did it even exist?).

I’d finished OtM and sent it off to a few agents with no real results before I read an article about self-publishing. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I commissioned a woman I work with to design me a book-cover and I started to self promote. So there were all the twists and turns of uploading to get to grips with…

Initially I started SP’ing without much enthusiasm or sales, but I’m a persistent guy and I stuck with it while I started on my second book, Taken.

I’d finished that and number three – American Girl – when I stumbled across Goodreads at the start of this year.

And that’s when things started to happen. I offered some of my books up for review, and I’m getting some good feedback now – 4 and 5 star reviews, I’m delighted to say, and a growing group of people have me on TBR lists. I affiliated with this blog, and I started my own. I have a Facebook account for myself and all of my books, a website and a Twitter account.

And all that’s happened in the last seven months! It feels like I’d been feeling around in a dark room and suddenly found the light switch.

Self promotion is as least as important now as writing the book. And tied up with that is the book itself, how it looks and reads.

Something new for EMI…I decided to commission a graphic design company to do the cover for me. It was the first thing I did after I finished the first draft, and when the cover came back, it made me realise that something that looked this professional should be professional. Having a cover so good, it felt like I should step up a gear and do something more professional as well, but what?

I looked around on Goodreads, and quite a few people were talking about editors – my wife does a first edit for me, but she can’t catch everything.

OtM wasn’t read or edited by anyone but myself before it went live on Amazon, and I realise now how much of a mistake that was. A good edit would have caught some of the typos, and polished the parts I didn’t even realise are dull. A good editor can make a difference with just a few commas and a handful of comments.

So for EMI, for the first time, I hired a professional YA editor (jennifermoorman.com), and it made a world of difference. Literally, in my case, changing one word changed the whole of the book. Editing is something I have definitely improved. Buying a Kindle has helped in that regard. Funny how the loopholes and the typos jump out when it’s a different format!

And even when Jennifer and I were batting edits back and forward, there are still things we both missed. Editing never really stops…I’m a lot easier on typos in books now I know how hard it is to pin them down. EMI went through six edits compared to OtM, as a comparison.

All of this is, of course, expensive. Facebook is free, but my web hosting and blog costs money; my editor wasn’t cheap, and my cover set me back a few pennies. I’ve spent more money on EMI than any of my other books. It’s also, with all the editing and self-promotion, a book that’s taken me longer to write.

But I look at it as an investment. Make your writing look professional and people will respond to it. Have it professionally edited…do it for your readers if not for yourself.

I exist as a writer almost exclusively virtually and digitally, and all people know about me as a writer are the things they read about me on web pages like this and my cover photo. All they have to go on is my book covers and the samples they read. There are a lot of books to read out there, and I have to – and YOU have to, if you want to be a digital writer – make life easy for them. Be good to your readers, and they’ll be good to you in return.

Do I write the books any differently now? The mechanics of writing is easier now with all the writing I’ve done. I know where the commas go and what to do with paragraphs. That’s sublevel stuff now, a foundation I can rely on. I’m still learning it though – that’s another advantage of an editor – but I can concentrate on the story now without having to worry about speech marks.

I plan them out a little more now as well. I have a magnetic board in my office (a spare bedroom…I aspire to a writers shed at the end of the garden!) where I stick up a mind-map rough idea of what I want from the book. I don’t follow it to the letter though; it’s more of a spark for my imagination.

So that’s my journey from book one to book four.  It’s been a blast, and there’s no way I’m done yet! I have a plan for Book Five already…

At this rate, I’ll be back in a few years to talk about Books Six to Ten, the books I haven’t written and the characters I haven’t shared lives with…yet.

See you in five years!

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You can also enter to win your very own copy for Kindle in our giveaway! **CLICK HERE**

Welcome to Eight Mile Island. 

Dylan James is used to boarding schools. He’s been thrown out of so many in the past two years, he’s lost count. So when an elite academy in Oregon offers him a place, he doesn’t think he’ll be there more than a week.
 
But Eight Mile Island isn’t like anywhere Dylan has been before. In the dense forests around the school, there are things that look human but aren’t.
 
Things that are hungry, and waiting.
 
But that’s just the start of the mysteries, mysteries that mean Dylan may never escape. Even if he wants to…
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About the Author: Tony Talbot was born in the 1970s and started writing in 2008 after a dream he had and couldn’t shake. Eight Mile Island is his fourth book. Tony regularly contributes to the Aside from Writing blog and so look out for future features and posts from this great author.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Website: http://www.tony-talbot.co.uk    Twitter: @authortony

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonytalbotwriter

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/tony-talbot

NEW RELEASE! Eight Mile Island by Tony Talbot

 Blog regular Tony Talbot’s latest book is released this week! It looks fantastic and we hope to get a review up very soon…in the meantime, check out the book and teaser we have for you today…

You can also enter to win your very own copy for Kindle in our giveaway! **CLICK HERE**

Welcome to Eight Mile Island. 

Dylan James is used to boarding schools. He’s been thrown out of so many in the past two years, he’s lost count. So when an elite academy in Oregon offers him a place, he doesn’t think he’ll be there more than a week.
 
But Eight Mile Island isn’t like anywhere Dylan has been before. In the dense forests around the school, there are things that look human but aren’t.
 
Things that are hungry, and waiting.
 
But that’s just the start of the mysteries, mysteries that mean Dylan may never escape. Even if he wants to…
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About the Author: Tony Talbot was born in the 1970s and started writing in 2008 after a dream he had and couldn’t shake. Eight Mile Island is his fourth book. Tony regularly contributes to the Aside from Writing blog and so look out for future features and posts from this great author.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Website: http://www.tony-talbot.co.uk

Twitter: @authortony

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonytalbotwriter

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/tony-talbot

Mark of the Princess by B.C. Morin

The feisty and determined faerie Princess Alannah is many things, but she never thought she would be the key to her people’s destruction.

Kidnapped for a power she does not yet possess, Alannah finds herself in the clutches of the most malevolent sorcerer of her time. Maligo. Alannah escapes her prison with help from the handsome and stalwart warrior faerie, Brennus. Now she must cross mountains and forests fraught with rogue faeries, vicious Fae-hating trolls, dangerous shape-shifters, and more to reach the only ones that can help her control her incoming powers. The Elder Faeries.

With Brennus by her side, Alannah is determined to reach the Elder Faeries and save her people. Maligo is just as determined she never makes it that far.

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 Gimme 10 – Mini-Interview

Please answer each question in 10 words or less – that’s what makes it tough but fun!

Where do you find your inspiration? Anywhere and everywhere but I get really inspired with music. 

What is your favourite aspect of Mark of the PrincessIt talks story but doesn’t give it away.

Who is your favourite character from Mark of the Princess and why? Brennus. He is very complicated.

What are you working on now? Book 2 of The Kingdom Chronicles. 

What do you love about most about writing? The smiles it puts on faces when they read it. 

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About the Author: B.C. Morin is a long time avid reader and writer. She began by writing poetry while in middle school and progressed to short stories in High School. Mark of the Princess is her debut novel.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Just Finished…Shadowland

Shadowland is a well-written, action-packed adventure story, set during the period of unrest in Britain that gave rise to the legends of King Arthur. Although I’d not read any fiction from this setting previously, it is happily familiar from film and history lessons; the writing style is very absorbing and you quickly find yourself wrapped up in the story.

At the heart of Shadowland is a buddy/road-trip tale of two young friends, who travel far from their homes and previous lives after their village is attacked and their families massacred. The relationship between them is really nicely drawn: dialogue is modern and accessible enough to read easily, whilst not detracting from the historical setting of the book. Action scenes are exciting, well-written and have some good comedic points for realism. The mystery surrounding the vicious attack on their village draws the story onwards throughout the novel.

Overall Shadowland is an accessible, entertaining and absorbing read, with great character relationships in an interesting setting. It works well as a YA because of the youthful protagonists, but I also think will appeal to a wider audience as well. 4* from Aside from Writing. 

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Book Synopsis: Shadowland is a story of Arthurian legend, however, rather than another story of Arthur and his knights, it tells the story of the years prior to Arthur’s birth.

An old storyteller entertains his listeners with a tale he claims is from his youth, a time when the Romans are leaving Britain and the Saxons are invading.

It is a dark and dangerous time for the tribes of Britain. Two boys, driven from their village join the efforts of their people to unite the tribes and drive the invaders from their shores.

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EVENT EXTRA*** 50% Discount this week for Shadowland at Smashwords: enter the code GN72D 

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Want to buy the book? 

Shadowland by C M Gray

Shadowland is a story of Arthurian legend, however, rather than another story of Arthur and his knights, it tells the story of the years prior to Arthur’s birth.

An old storyteller entertains his listeners with a tale he claims is from his youth, a time when the Romans are leaving Britain and the Saxons are invading.

It is a dark and dangerous time for the tribes of Britain. Two boys, driven from their village join the efforts of their people to unite the tribes and drive the invaders from their shores.

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EVENT EXTRA*** 50% Discount this week for Shadowland at Smashwords: enter the code GN72D 

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 Gimme 10 – Mini-Interview

Please answer each question in 10 words or less – that’s what makes it tough but fun! 🙂

Where do you find your inspiration? Where I’ve lived, Asia, Morocco, India, China, with desert nomads

What is your favourite aspect of Shadowland? The dark (gloomy) ages of Britain! Druids, magic and Excalibur!

Who is your favourite character from Shadowland and why? Cal, he runs with wolves and visits the Shadowland.

What are you working on now? Editing/formatting ‘The Flight of the Griffin’ pure fantasy adventure!

What do you love about most about writing? Writing is like playing a video game with no rules.

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About the Author

I am an Englishman that has been privileged to live in many parts of the world. I now live with my Dutch born wife and two children Dylan and Yasmin in the hills that rise behind the city of Barcelona in Spain.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

American Girl by Tony Talbot

Mary Tanaka is an all American Girl until the attack on Pearl Harbor makes her something terrible: Japanese. And when the US Government decides all the Japanese within a hundred miles of the west coast should be moved inland to prison camps, she has no choice but to go.

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EVENT EXTRA*** Additional Giveaway from Tony Talbot ***EVENT EXTRA

Use the following codes at Smashwords to get a free copy of one of his books!

VF44A Over the Mountain
UB79N American Girl
JG44A Taken
First come – first served 🙂 So be quick!
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 Gimme 10 – Mini-Interview

Please answer each question in 10 words or less – that’s what makes it tough but fun! 🙂

Where do you find your inspiration? My wife and my dreams

What is your favourite aspect of American Girl? The research into Japanese culture was a lot of fun

Who is your favourite character from American Girl and why? Ganaha-san; so dignified and reserved, and so tragic.

What are you working on now? I’m editing my latest book, EIGHT MILE ISLAND

What do you love about most about writing? Creating whole worlds and people from nothing. 

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About the Author: Tony Talbot was born in the 1970s and started writing in 2008 after a dream he had and couldn’t shake. American Girl was his third book, and he’s currently editing his next book and planning the book after, tentatively called, ‘Dome’.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Website: http://www.tony-talbot.co.uk

Twitter: @authortony

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonytalbotwriter

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/tony-talbot