New Horizons!

SAM_4591Okay, yesterday was my birthday and I’ve never been fond of birthdays, but the last few days have been glorious. All in all 2014 is shaping up to be an amazing year, despite having one hell of a bumpy start. As we pass into out of summer, with its sunshine drenched buzz of activity, and into the darker evenings of Autumn, it is a time of excitement for what is to come and a time to reflect for what has gone.

The beginning of the year couldn’t have been worse. After having spent most of 2013 very ill, I had no choice but to leave my teaching job of the last 12 years. I have always worked, even through college I worked (actually it was a pretty cool job working in a video shop, surrounded by great films all day!), so the prospect of suddenly being unemployed through no fault of my own, was very daunting and pretty scary.

Martin-Hobb-1024x457[1]We haven’t worked out all the kinks yet and things are still tighter than I’d like, certainly the prospect of spending £45 to go and see Robin Hobb and George RR Martin in London on the 19th August, plus travel and hotel expenses, was simply out of my price range.

However, worries over jobs, money and financial matters paled into insignificance when my good friend and fellow fantasy writer, Lindsey J Parsons suddenly died on the 5th January 2014, only days after I had spoken to her to wish her a Happy New Year and talk excitedly about what 2014 would bring. Lindsey had so many plans for this coming year. She was going to write and release her third book, Shegal, the final book in her wonderful Return of the Effra trilogy. She and I were planning to go off to Las Vegas together, to a writing convention there. That’s where I would have been this summer if things had turned out differently.

Lindsey’s passing was a dreadful shock to all who knew and loved her, and the sadness of her passing has haunted all of us this year. I have always been an insomniac and so, in the wee small hours of the night when I used to chat to Lindsey til 2 or 3am, I miss her the most.

But her tragic death also did something else. It was a tannoy (loud speaker to my US friends) to the rest of us, that none of us know how long we have on this planet, none of us know which breath will be out last, and so the imperative is upon us to STOP WASTING TIME!!!!

It was then, that I decided to get on with the rest of my life. Put my dreadful experiences of 2013 behind me, not just my illness and having to leave my job, but also some thoroughly rotten experiences with my ex-publishers (who shall remain nameless), but who almost put me off writing anything ever again. Once bitten by a shark, you are very wary to dip your toes in the water again! I won’t spend anymore time or energy on them, as quite frankly they’re not worth it.

I also decided to be more proactive. There has been one really huge accomplishment in my life that I have wanted, really since I turned 30, some ten years ago now, and I am eventually doing something about it. This time next year, I hope to share a very different life story with you.

Another part of being pro-active, was deciding not to be ruled over by fear. I had been paralysed by fear pretty much all of last year. Fear that I would never recover and get better, fear that my goals were simply not achievable, fear of losing my job, of losing my way. One of my fears was that I would never be able to write again.

I’m not talking about the commonal garden variety ‘writer’s block’ which plagues many authors, I’m talking about total physical and mental incapacity! Part of my vestibular illness, apart from the migraines, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and head pain, was short term memory problems and a complete inability to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time. My brain simply couldn’t cope with it. It took me days to write a simple letter, because I couldn’t concentrate for longer than 3 or 4 minutes, and the mental exertion and sheer exhaustion it caused, would flare up my symptoms again.

I’d try reading or writing and I’d be staring at a page of text like a zombie for 40mins, my mind simply ‘zoned’ out. Apparently this was very common with severe vestibular conditions, where the concentration needed to read and write was tantamount to asking a person on crutches to climb a mountain! So the whole of last year, I was crippled by thoughts that I’d never be able to climb back on that horse again and write. That my first novel would be my last!

But, after Lindsey, I decided to stop letting that fear rule me. I WOULD write again, and now, I AM!

69190_4684701805703_297748057_n[1]A HUGE part of that, has been the incredible support I have received from family and friends. A massive shout out to all my Alliance of Worldbuilders (AWB) brothers and sisters – without you guys, I’d be a sad little shadow of myself and certainly wouldn’t be sat here writing this. smiling-cat[1]

Another incredible turn of fate and good fortune, was finding the most amazing new publishers who were willing to take a chance on me and wanted to publish my first novel, despite it having been published (badly) before.

Again, because of dear Lindsey, I was pro-active and approached this very cool publishing house. To be honest, I felt it was a long-shot and didn’t hold much hope, but hell it was worth a go! I loved the books they produced, how friendly, approachable, honest and professional they were and how they put authors first (the total opposite of the experiences I had had before!).

grimbold-182x300[1]To my utter delight, I signed with them in June! I cannot tell you just what that has meant to me – to have my cherished work taken on and see new life breathed into it (and new life breathed into me!), by unbelievably passionate people who love books and prize quality above everything…wow! I owe Sammy HK Smith and Zoe Harris of Grimbold Books and Kristell Ink, more than I’ll ever be able to express in words…thank you, thank you, thank you! 1782001_779354595426279_1544248234_n[1]

 

2014 is turning out to be utterly AWESOME year after all! White Mountain – Book 1 of the Darkling Chronicles will be published this Autumn with a brilliant new cover and short stories, and I am eventually writing again!!!!

 

ea1ab-10582915_874217609273310_7073274247011447578_o5b15dSo, this week I celebrate not only my birthday, but a year full of promise and opportunities. At the beginning of August it was also the 5th Anniversary of getting my beautiful boys. 5 years ago, two gorgeous white wolves came into my life and it has never been the same since! Happy times and clear skies ahead! 😀 xxxx

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The Grimbold Books Kickstarter – What It Means and Why it Matters

A FANTASTIC post by Joanne Hall, check this out guys and PLEASE support Grimbold Books Kickstarter, every £1 helps! 😀 xxxx

Joanne Hall

356fohThe deployment of Professor Farnsworth is to celebrate the fact that the Grimbold Kickstarter is over 50% funded with 32 days to go – thank you to everyone who has generously made pledges so far, you’re all awesome. If you haven’t been able to support us yet, well that’s fine too, but if you can find it in your heart to spare a quid or two that would be lovely. Every pound brings us closer to the total and it really does make a difference.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/505305158/grimbold-books-from-dream-to-team

Why it matters.

Aside from the fact that if you pledge you get fabulous rewards, you mean? And you do – pledging as little as a fiver will get you TWO free ebooks from the Grimbold back catalogue, many of which have been reviewed on this here blog, so I can testify to their goodness. The goodies only get better as you scroll down…

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Summer Reads Blog Tour – Sophie Tallis

Summer Reads Blog Tour – Week Eleven
Sophie Tallis

I’m beginning to wonder where all the time has gone, I mean eleven weeks have already slipped by in this Summer Reads Blog Tour. Where has the summer gone?

I sure hope you’ve been enjoying the Summer Reads Blog as much as I have with meeting all these new faces and new reads. We’ve just got two more weeks left and I’ve saved the best for last. Let’s welcome Sophie Tallis and her books along with her recommended reads.

A Bristol born gal, I grew up in a sleepy village, dreaming of dragons and wild adventures. I haven’t grown up much and sincerely hope I never do. I live in the Cotswolds with my family, two enormous white wolves, two even bigger Alaskan Malamutes and a load of wild ducks who basically run the place! I was a full-time teacher, dulling young minds…ahem…I mean inspiring young children for the past 16 years and am now a librarian, a dream job being surrounded by books all day!

Although I primarily write epic fantasy, I enjoy most genres and love science-fiction, classics and contemporary literary fiction. Basically I’m a sucker for any good story.

I’m a painter, artist and illustrator and have a BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art, photography and sculpture and a Post-Grad in Education. But, my first passion has always been for writing stories and poetry, which I’ve done since I was a child.

Apart from writing, reading, drawing and painting, I am an avid film buff, love stargazing, playing chess and traveling (when I get the chance) and am passionate about nature and conservation. I’d describe myself as a lover of wild places and the written word.

I have a passion for ancient history, anthropology, African and Asian mythology, natural history, archaeology, astronomy, geology, world geography, Paleolithic civilization, art history, photography and of course fantasy and science-fiction! Did I mention that I’m a huge nerd?

White Mountain – Book 1 of the Darkling Chronicles
Amongst our modern world lies another, an archaic and hidden world of tradition, sorcery and magic. As dark demons awaken from our past, the last remaining wizards are being hunted and murdered by a changeling of terrifying strength. Attacked and drained of most of his powers, a dying sorcerer must race against time to save himself and the fate of all, from an enemy intent on cleansing the plant and destroying humanity…
















Links:

Facebook Book Page: http://facebook.com/FantasyEpic


Publisher’s Websites: http://kristell-ink.com/ and http://www.grimboldbooks.com/

Sophie’s Goodread list in no particular order:

1) Behind the Hood by Marita Hensen – Having spent 4 glorious months in beautiful New Zealand, this broody and compelling book by fellow Authonomy writer, Marita Hensen, really hooked me in. It centers around a group of disillusioned Maori youths and you realize the power of broken dreams.

2) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – I loved this book to my core. It reminded me of the wonderful melancholic sci-fi books of my youth like when I read Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ and tones of Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Mesmeric and stays with you for weeks after.

3) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – A gut-wrenching story, beautiful, scary and tragic. You really feel every dangerous step the young protagonist finds herself on. MUCH better than the film!

4) The Last Mask by Stephen Winterflood – Wickedly and unreservedly dark. This puts the bitter in bitter chocolate! A truly unique book that twists its readers with every turn of its decadent theatrical blade!

5) In Search of Gods and Heroes by Sammy HK Smith – although I’ve not finished reading this yet, I just HAD to include this (lol, and not because she is my publisher – it’s just very VERY good!).

6) Vortex by Lindsey J Parsons – I LOVED this book and I’m not a big reader of the paranormal genre, but this was a delight from beginning to end. I found myself wishing I was Sam, the main protagonist as she begins to uncover another world within our own and her own part in it, and finds love in the most unexpected place.



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