6 months of magic and mayhem…with more to follow!

Today’s post is a rather reflective one, so apologies for getting a little misty-eyed and overawed!

Six months ago on the 1st December 2014 my debut novel, White Mountain, the first of my Darkling Chronicles trilogy, was gloriously published by Grimbold Books & their imprint Kristell Ink Publishing. I knew at the time that the merry-go-round of madness was about to begin, but boy what a rollercoaster ride it’s been!

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White Mountain, as most of my friends, family and supporters know, was a complete labour of love that took over ten years to write, research and worldbuild (yes, I am a VERY slow writer! I promise that Book 2 WILL be finished and ready next year, so no decade to wait!). All my interests in ancient history, world mythology, geography, geology, natural history, ecology, anthropology etc., etc., dripped into the history and worldbuilding behind the story of White Mountain; and my personal experiences and complicated relationships seeped into the characters and their lives.

No matter what genre you write in, no matter how fantastical or other-worldly it may be, use your life in what you write.

For me it was a wonderful cathartic experience of writing about dysfunctional relationships I knew, about friendships, inner turmoil, feelings of atonement, guilt, rage, loneliness and yes, it was liberating to write my villain, a thoroughly nasty, manipulative, violent and cruel character who I have openly admitted is based on my father. Do I have baggage to write about? Hell, yes…don’t we all?

Anyway, White Mountain was born into the world with its awesome new cover and that’s when all the fun began!

My signing at Books On The Hill

The last six months has been a manic ride. I attended my very first fantasy/sci-fi convention, BristolCon, (huge thanks to the multi-talented and fellow fantasy writer, Joanne Hall who founded & runs it brilliantly). I went to my first book fair and did my first public reading (terrifying but brilliant!). I then embarked on a hectic book-signing tour around Wales and the West Country, signing in some truly gorgeous and prestigious bookshops and meeting some terrifically awesome people along the way. Best of all though, has to be that sense of tingling excitement when someone buys your book! I don’t think I’ll ever feel blasé about that, it’s a truly humbling experience chatting to customers, signing and dedicating books to them and loved ones. Simply put, it’s just one of the most magical experiences and completely eclipses the awkwardness and embarrassment of sitting in a bookshop feeling like a lemon waiting to be squeezed! SAM_6855 (2)

Chepstow BookshopAmongst the book-signing tour and newspaper articles I went to my first literary festival as an author, to do a poetry and fiction reading. The tiny but potent, Hawkesbury Upton (HULit) Literary Festival, founded by local indie author, Debbie Young, who is a one-woman self-publishing whizz and who managed to not only organise the whole event but to even attract big name authors such as Katie Fforde – who opened the event, read from her book and graciously took a photo op with little old me!

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White Mountain, continued to pick up momentum and great reviews, including gaining a 5 star review and shiny medal from Reader’s Favorite and from very popular websites, Girl Who Reads and Brainfluff among others. Of course we authors are always desperate for more reviews as we know that getting reviews is absolutely crucial to whether a book succeeds or fails. So if you read a book you love, help that book and author and post a review! Reader's Favorite review

Then, amongst the book signings and readings, I was asked to participate in the Cirencester Literary Festival in July, as an author and illustrator and run my own illustration workshop for children in Bingham Gallery!

Cirencester event on Octavia's

Octavia's Cirencester eventWow!

With more bookshop signings and book fairs on the horizon in addition to BristolCon 2015 and FantasyCon coming up in the Autumn, it has been a gloriously nutty few months!

Then…to top it all off, White Mountain, has been shortlisted in The People’s Book Prize! The People’s Book Prize is the only major literary award voted by the people, as a way of finding new books and new talent which may have been overlooked by mainstream markets. Founded by Dame Beryl Bainbridge and with Frederick Forsythe as it’s current Patron, it is wonderful to be nominated.

People's Book Prize page

Do I have a chance of winning?

I’d certainly LOVE to win as it’s a fantastic way of raising your book’s profile, with the awards ceremony even being televised on SKY News, but honestly I don’t hold out much hope. White Mountain is in the Children’s category and the competition is very stiff with the most likely winner being a larger mainstream author who sells in Waterstones, has a larger fanbase and has won it before. BUT, you never know…could David defeat Goliath?

People's Book Prize capture

So here’s my shameless plugging bit…can I ask EVERYONE reading this to PLEASE lend your support and give the underdog a chance by voting for White Mountain? It only takes a few moments of your time, is totally FREE and really would make all the difference to a little indie author like me. Voting continues until August, but every single vote counts! Just pop on the website, register by giving your name and email, they will then send you a password. Then click back onto my book, put in your name, password, VOTE and leave a short comment. http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1295

A MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone who has already voted, especially those who have left comments too, and to those who are going to vote. It really is hugely appreciated, so thank you guys, you are the best! Lol, I won’t hold my breath, but I’ll quietly keep my fingers, toes and dragon wings crossed! 😉

So, there you go…as my little blog passes 39,000 visitors (a truly humbling number for such a tiny online diary about writing), I can only wonder what the next six months will bring… 😀

A HUGE thank you to all of you who keep the fires burning in this quiet cloister of the internet! You are all amazing and uber-cool dudes and dudettes! THANK YOU!!!!!! 😀 xxxx

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A big thank you, welcome and New Year’s resolutions

Lol, well I’m starting the New Year with a re-blog, but what a great blog to show everyone. If you haven’t already come across Morgen Bailey, then what are you waiting for? Huge thanks to Morgen herself for very kindly name checking me, thank you sweetie…all that’s left to say is check out her blog and her essential writing advice. Happy New Year everyone!!! 😀 xxx

Morgen 'with an E' Bailey

Hello everyone. It’s not often that I put a general post up but this is the perfect time to say a big “THANK YOU” to those of you who have visited, whether occasionally and regularly. I’d especially like to thank (in alphabetical order) Chris F, Chong, Della B, Deb B, Euphonos, Graham S, Jane R, Joy S, Marcoujor, Mark K, Maxima, Nanny C, Sal B, Sophie T, and Yvonne H, to name just a few. There are many, many others who have supported me since I created this blog on 31st March 2011 and are to thank for the 281,183 hits and 1,074 subscribers to-date. Thank you. 🙂

Morgen Oct 2014A very warm welcome to those who have visited recently (or now) for the first time. Hopefully this blog is easy enough to navigate but if not, do let me know how it could be improved. The general idea is that there is new…

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A month of dreams, dizzyness…and passing 13,000!

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While those who know me best, know that I tend to roll my sleeves up and just ‘get on with it’. I must admit to having found myself incapacitated recently, a feeling I am NOT used to. No matter how rotten I may be feeling with colds, flu’s, even toothache, I tend to put a brave (often smiling) face on it and just dig deep and carry on – it’s that whole daft ‘stiff upper lip’ mentally we British feel obliged to follow.

“Keep calm, carry on!”

I am if nothing else, a hard worker and a pragmatist who likes to make progress and achieve my goals, even if it’s against the odds. So, imagine my frustration when something comes along that really stops me in my tracks…I speak of the curse of labyrinthitis.

Vestibular SystemSuddenly the simplest tasks that you take for granted become impossible, looking at the television, a mobile, or a computer screen, all incurs dizziness. All you can do is just lie or sit still and hope that it passes. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

But as with all things in life…it’s relative. Just as I was feeling particularly poorly and sorry for myself, I got a sharp reminder that as conditions go, there are FAR worse so I shouldn’t complain. I’ve had dear friends touched by the insidious hand of cancer, who have struggled against that disease with such stern determination and grace, and others fighting type 1 diabetes who take each obstacle in their stride.

wild daffodilsSo, no moans and groans…I shall be thankful for the sunshine, the signs of spring bursting eagerly from beneath leaf mounds and mud, the streaks of blue sky between the cloud, the wild ducks that fly in and argue loudly on the lawn and the fact that my lonely moorhen has found himself a new wife after the cruelty of a harsh winter and hunting mink. SAM_2277

Forget sickness, forget feeling rather low and tearful, life is a wondrous marvel and even if I can’t do very much at the moment, I shall breathe deep and drink in every moment of it and be thankful for small miracles.

Here are just three marvellous moments that have happened in the last few weeks.

file000267804564 (2)Firstly and for no apparent reason at all, other than the strange whimsical nature of the web, my lovely little blog had an amazing few days! From attracting nearly 900 visitors on one day, it then attracted 2,386 the next!!!! Pushing my little blog past 13,000 visitors!

Wow, wow and wow!!!

Then my short story, ‘The Wishing Tree’ was selected by ReadWave http://www.readwave.com/ to be part of their Staff Picks, for tnew photos 236 (2)he very  best stories.

Check it out guys, oh and please ‘LIKE’!  http://www.readwave.com/the-wishing-tree-_s2532

I’ve also been featured twice by fellow author, the wonderful Lisa Scullard for her new Hard Ink Cafe blog http://hardinkcafe.wordpress.com/ as ‘Author of the Day’ http://hardinkcafe.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/author-of-the-day-sophie-e-tallis/ and again http://hardinkcafe.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/author-essentials-keep-only-the-best-company/

Oh…and it’s featured in The Bedlam Media Daily too in the leisure section! http://paper.li/bedlam_media/1315567686#!leisure

So before my dizziness returns, I just want to say a heartfelt and massive THANK YOU to you all!!!!! You really are the BEST!!!

Here’s a little something to make you all smile…The Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’…rock it boys!!!!

http://youtu.be/Cqh54rSzheg

😀 xxxx

Barren Island Books – My Eighth Interview!

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For those of you familiar with that lovely long-standing stalwart of BBC Radio 4, Desert Island Discs, let me introduce to you an idea of pure majesty…

Talented fantasy writer, blogger, interviewer, mathematical genius, vegetarian, mystery, enigma wrapped in a rather lovely riddle, new mum, piano playing, fellow member of The Alliance of Worldbuilders, multi-talented book lover – the wonderful A.F.E. Smith has created somewhat of a stir. http://www.afesmith.com/

Forget Desert Island Discs, we’re talking about books not music here…so let me introduce you all to her wonderful, magical ‘Barren Island Books’! What a stroke of genius! SUCH a clever idea! 😀 http://www.afesmith.com/1/category/barren%20island%20books/1.html

Anyway, I have been very honoured and rather humbled to be invited and interviewed by A.F.E Smith, my eighth interview and the first of 2013.

If YOU were consigned to a barren island, albeit a rocky sanctuary or a green haven in a sun-kissed and bejewelled ocean, what 5 books would YOU bring for company and to keep the hounds of tedium at bay?

Please check out my new interview and A.F.E. Smith’s wonderful blog! : http://www.afesmith.com/1/post/2013/01/barren-island-books-sophie-e-tallis.html

😀 xx

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Passing 8,000 and looking to the future…what will 2013 bring you?

This is none of your business, get a life!

Well, 2013 is here, all shiny and new and wanting our attention like a hyperactive puppy.

But before looking to the future, take a moment to reflect on the past 12 months. What kind of a year was 2012 for you?

For me, it was a mad year, a one-off never to be forgotten year. Full of incredible hard work, a lot of stresses, but some truly amazing highs.

The year started in a chaotic fashion. I’d literally moved house two days before Christmas. Having bought the last scrawny looking tree for £8 in B&Q, I was putting it up Christmas Eve amidst a sea of boxes! Although moving house is always exciting, the Christmas of 2011 was a difficult one. Everything that could go wrong with the house did. We lost our electricity, had no central heating, the oven imploded, the plumbing leaked if it worked at all…basically we were cold and hungry, oh, and we had no phones until the second week of January. It’s weird, but you never know how much you rely on phones and the internet until you have none, especially at Christmas time!349

But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Things get fixed, better than they were before. Our money pit of a house turned into a dream home and my gorgeous white wolves have never been happier!

But 2012 really kicked off with my childhood dream of becoming a published writer coming true…!

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And of course, I started this little unassuming blog on January 26th, as a way of charting my life and experiences to date, my journey towards publication, sharing writing tips and ideas, poems and stories, little life lessons learnt etc. Writing, fantasy, epic storytelling, life, creativity and everything in between!

THAT was my motto and still is.

Well, in less than a year that ‘little unassuming blog’ has enjoyed tremendous success with over 8,500 views, far beyond anything I could have envisioned!

2012 rolled on…and with each passing month came a new milestone.

My first book, my first interview, then my second and third and fourth and so on. Long before my debut novel, White Mountain, was even published the pre-orders started pouring in. A HUGE thank you to all those wonderful early supporters, my Dragon Friends, thank you thank you thank you! Chapter Eighteen - Turn Of The Blade

Then came blog awards, newspaper articles and feature interviews. The momentum had taken on a life of its own.

Then, a few weeks after my birthday came the day I’d been waiting for since I was a 5 yr old kid. My first novel, White Mountain – Book 1 of The Darkling Chronicles, was published 30th September 2012. A date indelibly imprinted on my brain and SUCH a good time to publish, part of that magical infamous Autumn push!

A week later and I had my book launch at Octavia’s Bookshop in Cirencester, a very prestigious independent bookshop which was voted runner-up in the Best Small Shops in Britain Awards by The Telegraph and was then shortlisted for Best Children’s Independent Bookshop in The Bookseller Industry Awards. It’s owner, Octavia Karavla, is a real mover and shaker in the book business and was shortlisted for Young Bookseller of the Year and has just been named one of The Bookseller’s ‘Rising Stars’. http://www.octaviasbookshop.co.uk Octavia's Bookshop signing 2012

Well, despite my nerves at my very first book signing event, the book launch was an enormous success and we SOLD OUT in just under two hours!!!! Not a single copy left! I just couldn’t believe it. Customers had to have their orders taken by Octavia and make do with a chat from me and a look at my illustrations!

thumbs_sophie-e-tallis[1]What a bizarre dream. The book had clearly found its feet and the buzz about was growing.

More interviews, more newspaper articles, a listing in The Cotswold Life Magazine, then I was approached by Readathon UK, a national reading charity supported by the likes of Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Rosen, Anthony Horowitz, Julia Donaldson etc. THEY were interested in talking to me? Really? http://www.readathon.org/blog/2012/11/author-teacher-joins-forces-with-readathon/

I was dreaming…

The first reviews started coming in, no family members or sock puppets, no, genuine reviews and they were all loving the book. At one point and to my utter delight, White Mountain even found itself at no.9 of Amazon’s epic fantasy books!!!!

A hugely successful Waterstones book signing tour followed with high sales, a growing following and a real buzz about the book…my wildest dreams had come true!

That was my 2012…wow! I’m still waiting to catch my breath. 😀

Now to the New Year.

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions…do we ever really keep them? But amongst the chaos, I’m busily writing Book 2 of The Darkling Chronicles due out this Autumn, then the whole crazy game starts over again! 😀

Another goal for the year I’m intent on keeping, is to keep blogging.

So what will 2013 bring to YOU?

😀 xx

Celebration! My 100th post and zooming past 7000 hits!

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Celebrations come in all sizes…small and intimate to the grandiose, and in all colours – from little hints of pastel, hues to match your mood, to the vibrancy of fireworks or the acid splashes of billowing streamers and balloons.

Well, this is a little celebration for a little achievement but a very special one to me.

At the end of January 2012 I started this blog. I had no grand intentions at the time, no aspirations beyond wanting to share my passions and thoughts in a random sort of way. Having never been able to adhere to the regimented nature needed to write a daily diary entry, this blog has been as close as I can get to it. A way of making some semblance of sense from my chaotic life, of organising my thoughts and perhaps a forum for discussing creativity, the language of imagination.

Blogs are as individual as their creators. Some become mere extensions of the people behind them, streams of consciousness drifting over the internet. For me, it is that, but is also a place to tell stories, share poetry, life events, illuminate my journey to becoming a published writer and all the strange oddities that happen to you along the way.

A little nook n’ cranny amidst the ebbing flow of the web. An ocean of information and dead-ends, a place to get lost in or be swallowed whole…

This is a little modest blog, unassuming, not showy, a welcoming and cosy snug with an over-sized hearth and a shabby rug which reeks of candle smoke and coal but a place which promises warmth and comfort, good advice and honesty. A home of creative thinking (hopefully) and somewhere simply to be.

To ponder…isn’t that what every writer does? To ponder, to think, to imagine, to dream…ahhhh…per chance to dream!

So, on this my 100th post, I say a genuine heartfelt thank you to every passing visitor, every friend and acquaintance, every fly-by one stop blogger, every lingerer, lurker or frequent returner…

THANK YOU!         THANK YOU!         THANK YOU!

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60 days – Catching the whirlwind!

Two months ago today a seismic shift in my life occurred, when I went from being an unpublished author to crossing that magical benchmark into being a published author. A quietly strange and profound experience…

The birth of my debut novel, White Mountain – Book 1 of The Darkling Chronicles, the first of my epic fantasy trilogy, was born on 30th September 2012, amidst a rush of frenzied excitement and anxiety.

As with all new authors, and perhaps the grand stalwarts of our chosen genres, a thousand and one questions whizz through your head. Will it be well received? Will it sink without a trace? Will people like it…hell, will they love it? Am I up for the challenge? There is so much to learn, where do I start? Will the book sell? Will I be able to get publicity for it? How do I get the book noticed? Where and how do I get reviews? What happens if the book takes off? What happens if it doesn’t? etc.

So…what has happened in the intervening 60 days?

A whirlwind to be sure…

After the publication of my book, to date, I have had seven interviews including by the highly prestigious national organisation & charity, Readathon UK, supported by literary giants such as Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Rosen, Anthony Horowitz, Julia Donaldson etc. http://www.readathon.org/blog/2012/11/author-teacher-joins-forces-with-readathon/ Great company to in, eh?   I’ve been in five local papers including photo feature pieces and a listing in The Cotswold Life Magazine no less, and have had an amazingly successful book launch event which completely sold out!   Then I have been on a whirlwind and very successful Waterstones book signing tour, selling my novel in high numbers, and am even booked up for author signing events at libraries and schools. In short, every weekend has been booked from September up to Christmas! And now…my first reviews have begun to filter in, and what amazing reviews they are! I couldn’t have hoped for better!

All in all…60 days of madness, mayhem and a monumental time indeed. Wow!

Yes, even an unknown indie author from a small independent publishing house CAN make an impact in the gargantuan world of books and publishing. If I can do it, juggling an extremely busy full-time job, working long hours which severely curb the amount of time I can spend on promotion etc, then YOU can do it too!

Be brave, be cheeky, ask questions, be proactive, do your homework…remember if you don’t ask you don’t get, the worst you can be told is ‘NO’, so what have you got to lose? 😀

Good luck to you all!!!  xxx