Super Speed Sam – Just in time for Xmas

As a children’s author myself, I’ve been fortunate to meet many other authors within the same genre, which allows me the opportunity to appreciate the imagination and talent that goes into writing for a younger audience. Monty J McClaine is no exception. His series, ‘Super Speed Sam’, is about a special basset hound named Sam who lives with the McClaine family.

As I’ve followed this series, I’ve been incredibly impressed by the author’s imagination, as well as the way he interweaves a lovely message for families into every story.004_CFWM_Kindle_US_UK5Star_

Come Fly With Me, is the fourth book in the Super Speed Sam series and author’s imagination really comes through in this fun, adventure fantasy where Molly (the young girl in the family) and Sam are both transformed into flies. As they both buzz around the house, trying to avoid being ‘swatted’, I can see parents and children both laughing and becoming quite excited by the story line in this story.

I also had the opportunity to read an early copy of Santa’s Rescue Dog which will be released shortly. Children will love this Christmas special about Super Speed Sam, especially as it tells of how Super Speed Sam came to get his special powers in the first place. The story is full of fun and fantastical drama, which will keep children wanting to read more. Parents and children alike will enjoy this adventure, as they seek to find out if Santa can get out of his ‘jam’, if the Reindeer will fall peril to a big grizzly bear, and what will happen to Christmas if Santa cannot deliver his presents…005_SRD_Kindle_US_UK_5Star

The Super Speed Sam series is a great bedtime read with children, or ideally placed towards middle school readers. Monty J McClaine has struck a winner with this fun, family themed series about a pet dog with superpowers!

Check out the other books in the Super Speed Sam series on Amazon.

The Many Hats of an Author…

I’ll admit that after submitting my first book for publication I was naïve. I thought you just had to be a good writer to be a successful author. Wrong!

Being an author is not just putting clever words to paper and then waiting for those royalties to start flooding in. No not at all. There is so much more to this world than many can even fathom to understand.

An author needs to be Internet savvy.

Get yourself a website, a blog, and establish your online presence through different social dfrow-blog-how-to-wear-a-hat-for-your-face-shape-oval-660x400media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. What I’ve found is that readers want to know you – the person behind the book. A book just doesn’t sell on its own, so as an author you need to build your profile, and not in a ‘buy my book’ way. There is a delicate balance between promoting your book, and interacting with others, blogging, commenting and networking. ‘Buy my book’ gets boring, as I have quickly learned, so we need to mix it up with clever ways to build out the author profile, grow followers and establish a strong network that will help cross promote.

Find your audience and market yourself.

Now, I’m certainly not a trained marketer, and neither are many of my author connections. Nonetheless, we have had to learn quickly the tips and techniques to different marketing strategies for our books. Depending on your book’s genre, its about targeting your audience, finding out where they buy your type of book, and getting in there. Sounds easy right? Well it’s much harder than you’d expect. It takes time, dedication and determination.

Some of my learnings so far:

  • Get the right reviews, and promote what people are saying about your book.
  • Read and review other books in your genre (and blog them)
  • Cross-promote with other authors – there are enough readers in the world for all of us, and we should support not compete against each other.
  • Enter awards, promotion deals and get your book on as many sites as possible
  • Be wary of quick and cheap promotion sites – they may not deliver or will do so with tactics that may not be in your book’s best interests
  • Seek advice, counsel and support from other authors. Look at their successes and learn from them.
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – book signings, magazine interviews, guest blogs and anything where possible if you are offered.

With the world of self-publishing becoming much more accessible to individual writers, it is important to ensure your voice is heard above the noise. Sometimes it is just one thing, and your book hits a trigger that sparks an influx of interest and sales. I say, take that spark and keep it alight. Most of all, have fun, enjoy the journey and don’t lose hope. Every day offers a new opportunity and a new reader to inspire.

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Places and Times, by Arthur Turfa

Arthur Turfa has published a wonderful and inspiring collection of poetry in Places and Times.

As I read through the myriad of poems he has created for this anthology, I could almost imagine him bringing words to life in his head as he travelled the world, and took in the wonders of new places and surroundings. The author’s way with words is just beautiful as he describes streets, surroundings, people and different ways of life.51YWe+tZRCL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

As someone who loves to travel to new and different places, Arthur Turfa captures the essence felt as you explore and discover new places, take in the atmosphere of different cultures and customs and feel the essence and magic of a different side of life. Some of the poems I found quite emotive, and in particular I was truly moved by Franconia; dedicated to a loved one who has passed tragically from Cancer, but at the same it is an uplifting piece that focuses on the wondrous memories and experiences shared.

This is a perfect traveller’s companion, or even for those who dare to dream. It is a collection you can pick up, read, and read again. I can imagine some of these poems being shared in letters and cards, and Arthur Turfa’s work being spread far and wide, and I look forward to more pieces in future collections.

You can purchase this collection on Paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

Taking the Plunge to Publish

As an author or writer, taking that first step to getting yourself published is certainly a big decision. I remember writing many pieces of work, but shelving them away, or thinking that if they weren’t accepted by the ‘big name’ publishers that I should just bin them.

The reality is that if you are not represented by an agent, or mostly if you fall into the thousands of other manuscripts submitted to big publishers, you’ll be waiting forever to get your first publishing contract. Nowadays, self-publishing is a great avenue for aspiring authors but having now ventured down that avenue it’s not one to jump into without doing your proper research. Critiques can be cruel and positioning your book correctly from the very beginning is the key to starting off your success as a published author!writewritewrite


What do you want from being published?

I wish I could tell you otherwise, but writing will not get you rich quick. For me it was about having my work recognised and enjoyed by readers, and my books are growing steadily, but not without a continued personal effort. Think about why you want your book published, who your ideal audience would be and how committed you are to your book’s continued promotion and success.

Proof reading and editing your work

It is so easy to think that reading and editing your own work would be suffice, but my strong advice is to get a third party to edit it. Personally I pay for editing, however it is an outlay that many would prefer to avoid, so if you can get someone you trust who can be objective, and has a good grasp of grammar, spelling etc. It’s the small mistakes that distract readers from your story, and can lead to poor reviews.

Getting the right cover and promotion material

You want your book to stand out and be noticed. You want potential readers to want to buy your book on the first view. So make sure you spend time getting the cover right (colours, graphics, style) as well as an enticing blurb and other promotional material. Do a cover reveal, get a book trailer and post to your social media channels. Get the word out there that your book is coming and get people excited about it before they’ve even read the first line!

Getting it right on Kindle or eBook formats

With e-Readers offering much more convenience than paperback and reachability all over the world, why wouldn’t you publish your book electronically? However, be warned, the formatting is tricky, and can sometimes lead to compatibility issues for readers, again distracting them from the true essence of your story. My advice is do your research, spend the time getting it right, and if you’re not sure, ask someone who can help. There are many authors out there who have tried, tested and learned from their own mistakes, and will be very willing to support and help you succeed.

Connecting and marketing your work

I met an author recently who told me he hates social media and refuses to engage with it. Big mistake! The World Wide Web is your key connection to the world, and whilst it takes a lot of effort, it will help you connect and network with other authors, and spread the word about your book. So don’t be afraid, set up a Facebook page for your profile, try out Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Whilst they aren’t the only channels they certainly help and I’ve made most of my sales through these channels with people I’ve never met in person.

Marketing is the key to your book’s success; you need to be prepared to find opportunities and avenues to reach new audiences.

Enjoy this journey, be passionate about your writing, and use it as a connection point with other authors and readers. This is a brilliant community to be a part of!


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Eye of the Storm – Best Self Published Books 2016 (Shortlisted)

As a new author it’s an amazing feeling to know that your book can reach anyone in the world. What is even more wonderful is being recognised for your writing and the quality of your books.

I wrote Eye of the Storm during an incredibly difficult time in my life, and when I decided to publish this short memoir, I was concerned if it was too raw and open to send out to the public. The thing about writing a memoir is that you put all of your heart and soul on the line, you are opening yourself up widely, and readers get to know more about you than sometimes your closest friends. Well that’s how I write my stories.Eye of the Storm

I found out this week, this short novella memoir has been shortlisted as one of five books in the Best Self Published Books 2016 with the winners announced this Saturday evening.

I’m joined by some great authors, including my good friend, Grant Leishman and his new thriller, The Photograph. I’m truly chuffed to be included in this group, and regardless of whether I take home the final prize, to be recognised as one of the shortlisted five is an achievement alone.

Eye of the Storm is available on paperback and kindle at AMAZON or for Australia/NZ readers in paperback on Wordery (with free delivery).

Destination Freedom, the Lily Amis story.

I met Lily Amis via my author networks, and found a wonderful and passionate author who is keen to share her personal story as a war-refugee.

Destination Freedom, is volume one in a two part memoir (soon to be a trilogy) which this talented and passionate author self-published.

Lily Amis shares her pain, frustration, set-backs and determination in this dramatically honest memoir which is full of heart and soul.

The story takes you from Lily’s childhood in ASIAcity where she lives with her mother and ‘daddy’. The betrayal of her ‘daddy’, and her quest to leave a war-torn city to find the ultimate freedom in Europe. However, their dreams are short-lived, as they are quickly branded as refugees and face the bureaucracy and red tape in a new country. Mother and daughter show strength and resilience through much adversity, desperately trying to fit in with normal lives and earning an honest living. As a reader you can feel Lily’s frustration as child through to an adult as the small family face barrier after barrier, let down by a system that has too many rules (and then rules for rules), as well as a handful of people who also take advantage of a mother and her daughter who are just trying to live a ‘normal life’.

A great memoir! One I would highly recommend as this is a relevant and topical subject even now today.

Paperback on Amazon or purchase the eBook on Smashwords

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Top 50 Self Published Novels


This week I received the amazing news that two of my books have been shortlisted from thousands of entries into the The 50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading (2016)

Now the voting is on.. as these 100 great books are whittled down to the final 50.

Firstly, MUD ON YOUR FACE – a children’s fantasy novel aimed at middle school readers, filled with great illustrations and a story that brings home family values.

Secondly, TORTURED MINDS – a psychological thriller written in compilation with Grant Leishman and Colin Griffiths and a new release!




The Healer, by Christoph Fischer

The Healer by Christoph Fischer, is a book that may hit home for many readers. What if there truly was someone out there who could cure terminal cancer?  More importantly, how would that impact our large scale pharmaceutical companies and their ‘scientific’ efforts to find ways to fight the disease?

This was a dramatic book, with great characters, and a well disguised twist. The story itself is also something that will resonate with many. Personally having had experience with cancer impacting my close family; the plot pulled at my heartstrings, making it much more plausible to read.Healer

Erica is dying, in her final stages of cancer. She has no cure, and despite chemotherapy and drugs, she is now just waiting out the end of her life. However, she decides to take a chance by visiting a renowned but retired ‘healer’ who has been reputed to have cured cancer completely. After finally convincing the recluse, Arpan, to come out of retirement, she is taken through a healing journey; one that is quite strenuous and emotional at times.

What Erica wasn’t prepared for was the backlash from a large scale pharmaceutical company, mixed with the secrets that Arpan is hiding and an overarching question… can he really heal Cancer for good? That’s where this story takes a real twist, all leading to a strong, dramatic ending.

This is another great Christoph Fischer novel, and one I’d highly recommend reading. What’s even better, is that Healer 2 is in its final stages!


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What Are You Waiting For?

It is strange to believe that just twelve months ago my first book was published. Now I have several to my name, available to readers all over the world.

Naturally, people ask me, where do I get my ideas from, and how have I been able to get so many books on the market.

The honest truth is that many of those stories were already written, from years of aspiring to become a published writer. All I really needed was a push – that first step, putting myself out there, and letting the public have their say. That I believe is the most frightening concept for a new author – the public. Sometimes reviews and consumer opinion can be harsh and critical. Yet, I have learned however to rise above the critiques, looking for ways to grow and develop my style from the feedback I receive and finding new ways to explore my writing further.artimagination-11

Now that I have published several books, I am inspired to write more. At night sometimes I lay awake, thinking up stories, and then hoping they stay fresh in my mind for the next day, when I can quickly jot down those thoughts, and hopefully build them into something readable. I have so many stories I want to write, I just don’t have the time to do it. But really, there is no rush!

I asked a few other independent authors where they found their inspiration from, and how they developed their stories into published works.

Dianne Wolfendon, author of Behind Blue Eyes, says that she finds her inspiration from real life and events, adapting them drastically so that they won’t be recognised.

Michael H Kelly, author of Mother Earth, has a notebook full of ‘what ifs’ and phrases, and he waits to see which ones gain momentum.

Colin Griffiths, author of Never Say Goodbye, will often see a picture, visioning that into a cover and then a story.

So what does this say? Really we are all different and we all have a story in us somewhere. It’s just finding your own way of opening up that inspiration, and then letting it free into the big wide world.

What are you waiting for?


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Bring Out Your Inner Child – Starry Starry Night

As a child I remember collecting colouring books, and finding new ways to bring those pages to life with my pencils, crayons and coloured markers. Perhaps it was just child’s play, but it also inspired the creative side of me, gave me some time out to just focus on the page in front of me, and allowed me to bring to life the black and white outlined pictures on each page.

I have recently discovered colouring books for adults, and at first I wondered whether this would really take; but it has! Many are positioned as a wonderful way for adults to step away from the chaos of their daily lives, a safe way to unleash creativity, thought and perspective, and perhaps releasing our inner child a little.61AUh5ldRIL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_

Starry Starry Night by Diane Burns is a wonderful collection of black and white pictures of stars waiting to be filled with colour and unique imagination. What I love about this concept is that anyone can get something out of it. Bringing this notion of colouring-in back into our adult lives allows us to re-enter a world of colour that perhaps as children we took for granted.

Diane Burns offers a variety of different objects all with intricate patterns that will ensure hours of entertainment. Whether it is a project you start and stop, or time spent until a page is completely coloured and complete, there is no pretence required, the outcome is individual, and there are no right or wrongs; it’s just about having a little bit of fun. The author makes a statement at the start ‘de-stress your life one amazing star at a time’ giving her audience permission to set themselves free. The addition of small quotes throughout is a gentle reminder of life, imagination and the beauty of appreciating things we may take for granted.  A highly recommended book for any adult to keep on their shelf for when they most need it; whether it is something used frequently or on rare occasions, I am positive this collection will be a useful resource for many.

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