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…!

Amazon UK

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

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‘The Next Big Thing’ – I’ve been tagged!

Still chasing my tail here, but a few weeks ago I was very kindly tagged in “The Next Big Thing” – a blog hop where you answer a series of questions about your work in progress or your NEXT BIG THING, before nominating others for the same award. http://youngbyname.me/2012/11/14/my-next-big-thing/

I was tagged by fellow indie author, Debbie Young, who had her first book, ‘Sell Your Books!’ published only two weeks after my own.

Product DetailsDebbie Young also works for Readathon UK http://www.readathon.org an amazing national organisation that promotes children’s reading in schools and libraries across the country. I was utterly thrilled when Debbie and Readathon UK approached me to do an interview, especially considering the literary giants such as Michael Morpurgo, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Rosen and Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) who support them. Great company to be in! http://www.readathon.org/blog/2012/11/author-teacher-joins-forces-with-readathon/

Anyway, back to ‘The Next Big Thing’!

Ummm, right, my next project/work in progress…well, I have many (head stuffed with ideas thankfully), but I am currently writing the second book of my epic fantasy trilogy!

1) What is the working title of your next book?

The sequel to White Mountain and Book 2 of The Darkling Chronicles? Well to be honest that is a tricky question to answer. I had always envisioned and planned for the book to be called ‘Darkling Rise’, a title I love and an appropriate one for the story, as it revolves around the rise of a ‘darkling’ – a growing dark power. However, this may not be the final title…

2) Where did the idea come from for your book?

032Years ago, when I first had the genus for White Mountain, I knew the general direction the story was heading in. I actually have the ending for Book 3 in my head, though the journey to get there isn’t worked out yet! A lot of The Darkling Chronicles story was inspired by my four-month odyssey around New Zealand back in 1997, an astounding country of epic scenery and breathtaking views. This was truly an inspiring and life-changing experience and one I have written about in my series of travelogues on this blog. The other ideas for the story simply came from my own personal life and experiences, many of which have been rather traumatic and verging on the melodramatic to say the least. I am very pleased to say that those times are behind me and life is now a myriad of happy days…or should I say…a happy daze! 😀

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Chapter Twenty-One - Into The LightEpic fantasy! Sometimes referred to as ‘classic’ or ‘high’ fantasy. Having said that, it is also a contemporary fantasy as the story is set now within our modern world. It is also an adventure story, a mystery, a romance, an adrenaline fuelled action thriller, a children’s book, a Young Adult (YA) novel and a poetic saga!

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

To be honest, I do have a rough screenplay of White Mountain. It would make an AMAZING film as it is so epic and cinematic in scope, so who knows? Maybe one day…

But I do LOVE this game! Christopher Plummer or Patrick Stewart would be my first choice for Mr Marval Agyk due to his natural gravitas, similar appearance and receding hairline not to mention that wondrous voice! Besides the wonderful Sir Ian McKellen has portrayed Gandalf so well, that any other wizard part would draw too many comparisons. Rufus Sewell would be stunning for the voice of Gralen, that lovely blend of age and sulkiness. Either Henry Cavill, James Purefoy or Tom Hardy as brooding Korrun and new British actress, Felicity Jones or Gemma Arterton or even Anne Hathaway as Wendya. Peter O’Toole would be simply perfect as eccentric and frail King Dorrol and maybe even Gary Oldman as King Baillum? As for my arch-villain, Morreck, I always saw the character as a mixture of Brad Pitt and Pol Pot! A character electrifying, charismatic and handsome, described as ‘perilously fair’, a person you would be instantly attracted and drawn to, but a figure who despite his beauty, is rotten to the core. I’m sure Brad Pitt is a lovely person, but as he is a great actor and is, let’s face it, gorgeous to look at – he would be PERFECT to play Morreck The Corruptor! 😀

If I had my pick of directors…it would have to be Christopher Nolan or Ridley Scott, two real visionaries!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

For White Mountain – Book 1 of The Darkling Chronicles:

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 planet and destroying humanity…

For ‘Darkling Rise’ – Book 2 of The Darkling Chronicles:

Darkness spreads as prophetic warnings come to pass and a series of disturbing murders and disappearances multiply across the globe – the hunt is on and the war to end all wars is upon us…!

6) When will your book be published?

Book 2 will be published in September/October 2013, with Book 3 due for publication in 2014.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Ahem…I’m still writing it! My first book had a gestation of over 10 years, yes, 10 years! – creating the back story, the world and universe that the story takes place in, not to mention my exhaustive research. My time frame for writing Book 2 is considerably shorter! 😀

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Wow! That’s hard. Certainly readers of Book 1 have compared it to J.R.R. Tolkien, David Gemmell, Terry Goodkind, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, C.S. Lewis, Rick Riordan even G.R.R.Martin in it’s epic scope. I would place my work somewhere in there, hopefully between the poetic nature of Tolkien and the dark gift for character of Pullman and George Martin.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Again, personal life experiences good and bad. Places I’ve been to, natural landscapes hold a real magic for me and of course, I had an epic story I wanted to tell. Book 1 is the beginning of that story and is an inspiration in itself, but now the story has a life of its own and it wants to come out!

Humanity beware – you’re in for a nasty awakening!

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The fact that it is an epic fantasy in the classic sense but with a contemporary twist and that it is set within our modern world. Humans and millenia old magic are about to clash…head on! Can our technology save us from an ancient force determined to cleanse the planet of the plague of humanity?

*****

Now to highlight and ‘tag’ some other writers for “The Next Big Thing”! In no order…

Product DetailsAndrea Baker – A great writer of paranormal fantasy, Worlds Apart’ – Leah, from deepest darkest Warwickshire! Check out her wonderful debut novel…

Leah knows that her mother died in a car accident when Leah was small and that her father, who used to be the gentlest dad in the world, has become increasingly controlling and occasionally violent. She also knows that her recurring dreams are telling her something more about how and why her mother died, and why her dad turned nasty, but they are becoming progressively more disturbing and confusing. When Leah meets Ben, she is excited to have a friend she can confide in and have fun with, but is he what he seems? The voice of Leah’s mother repeatedly tells her to rely on her instincts, but when Leah is run over in a freak accident and Ben’s family take over her welfare, are they protecting her or using her? And why would anyone, good or evil, bother with an ordinary girl just about to go to university? http://www.andreabakerauthor.com/
*****
Image of Lindsey J Parsons

Lindsey Parsons – A fantastic fantasy writer with a huge imagination! Check out her debut novel…

Product DetailsVortex is a fantasy romance novel aimed at the upper teen/young adult market. It is the first book in a trilogy called The Return of The Effra. Back cover description: On a night when prophecies stir, an outraged dragon vents his anger, Damian is ripped from everything he knows and Sam’s nightmares become real… Sam isn’t enjoying university life, she’s disillusioned with her course and having second thoughts about her future. It doesn’t help that she keeps having a scary, recurring nightmare and when she thinks things couldn’t get worse a creepy man follows her back to her room. Damian is unique, he has silver eyes, horns and wings, he is also being visited by a ghost girl. She looks so sad and frightened he feels compelled to help her, but the night he reaches out to save her from a dragon’s fiery breath he gets ripped from his life, his world, from everything he knows. Now it’s Damian who’s lost in an unfamiliar world that’s devoid of magic and full of strange monsters. His only connection with home is Sam who he recognises as the ghost girl. Sam has to put aside her fear and disbelief in Damian’s explanations about himself to try and help him find his way home. But in a world without magic is this possible? http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/

*****

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsWill Macmillan Jones – A prolific razor-sharp wit and laugh a minute purveyor of comic fantasy. He makes Sir Terry Pratchett seem only mildly funny! Check out his latest novel, the third in his wildly hilarious and anarchic, The Banned Underground series…! http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/

The Vampire Mechanic, the third book in the Banned Underground series, is a unique mix of fantasy and Terry Pratchett-style humor for the rock generation and their kids. Different from other comedic fantasies, it parodies the touring music scene, bureaucracy, taxation and with its tongue-in-cheek slapstick humor, witty puns and word games.

*****

Katrina Jack – An excellent writer of gritty urban fantasy. Land of Midnight Days (The Silver Flute Trilogy) available in Kindle Edition and soon to be released as a hardback! Check out her first novel…Product Details

What would you do if your life was filled with fear: hide, run away – or would you fight back?

In a city at war with itself, Jeremiah Tully already knows how to survive, now he must learn how to live. Mute from birth, of mixed race heritage and his only possession a charmed flute, Jeremiah tries to
discover where his remarkable talent as a musician will take him. http://kateannejack.wordpress.com

*****

Many thanks again to the lovely Debbie Young for tagging me! It’s been great fun and a real honour.

Please check out her websites: http://youngbyname.me/ & http://offtheshelfbookpromotions.wordpress.com/newsblog/

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

Readathon UK – My seventh interview in the company of giants!

Nobody tells you, when you embark on this journey, how mesmeric it can be.

Exhausting, yes, hard work, always, painful with little or no obvious gain, sometimes, but also truly magical and inspiring and…well…life-changing! 😀

I often find that at profound moments in my life I am quite incapable of forming words, let alone coherent sentences. Emotions take over.  That guttural chord within us that lets us know in unequivocal terms, that we are in the middle of something special, a moment to cherish, to define our lives in a certain time and place.

Isn’t that what life is, after all? A series of connected and interconnected moments, and out of that messy melee, one or two fleeting moments suddenly catch fire and flare like stars against the grey. So in moments like these, I find myself through garbled speech and stuttering syllables, uttering inferences like “awesome” “cool” “wow” “amazing” like I’m an awestruck teenager!

Well, another one of those moments happened only a few weeks ago when I was approached by the lovely Debbie Young (http://youngbyname.wordpress.com/) of Readathon UK. In simple terms, Readathon UK is a national charity and reading scheme that gets children to read for pleasure, sparking a passion that can last a lifetime, whilst helping seriously ill children in hospital. What could be a better or more noble endeavour? – books, reading, inspiring young minds and helping sick children?

I admit, to my shame, that I had never heard of Readathon UK before, a fact I find astounding not only due to the close proximity of Readathon’s UK headquarters (only a mile from the school I have taught in for the last eleven years and close to where I used to live!) but due to the long glittering line of literary giants associated with it!

Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Rosen, Julia Donaldson, Anthony Horowitz etc etc…then…ahem…ME?!!!! How bizarre and wonderful?

Check out my interview on Readathon UK’s wonderful website http://www.readathon.org/blog/2012/11/author-teacher-joins-forces-with-readathon/

“When we discovered via our local high street bookseller,The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, that a teacher at one of the schools closest to our office had just published her first book, we had to meet her!

And so it was that Sophie E Tallis, author of fantasy novel White Mountain, came to visit us during the half term break, fitting us in between a whirlwind tour of local bookshops, where she is in demand for book-signing events.

Sophie is delighted to be associated with Readathon, being an avid reader who has just installed the twelfth bookcase in her home!”

*****

“It’s great if you can read but the question is: do you read? If you do the world is yours. This is what Readathon is all about.” Michael Rosen, Children’s Laureate 2007-2009

Authors, poets and illustrators love Readathon because it encourages children to enjoy reading for pleasure which brings them many joys and advantages that last a lifetime.

Readathon’s first ever Honorary Chairman was the legendary Roald Dahl, which is one the reasons we now raise money for the charity founded in his memory: Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.

After the sad death of Roald Dahl in 1990, this role was taken up by his long-time collaborator Quentin Blake, who the following year was named Children’s Laureate.

The current Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson is also an ardent supporter. She says “Inspiring children to read is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. I’d recommend Readathon to any school or group.”

“Apart from developing the creative powers of the imagination, reading as a teenager helps you to come to a sense of who you are, to define your own identity.” Sir Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate 1999-2009 & Chair of Selection Panel for Children’s Laureate 2009-11

“Books open up the windows of the mind while habitual television can brick them up. The more books children read the better. Reading is like jogging for the brain. Get your feet up, kids, and get reading! Good luck to Readathon.” Spike Milligan

“I didn’t discover the joys of reading until late in life because I am dyslexic. I feel I missed so much because of this, so I’m naturally whole-heartedly behind Readathon. It is a wonderful way of encouraging children to read.” Susan Hampshire

“I wish somebody had sponsored me for the hours I spent reading when I as a lad… It is such a good idea to sponsor children reading… The point about Readathon is that it is both an enjoyable and beneficial sponsorship for those taking part – no hardship, no sore feet, no wet clothes, just lots of lovely books, knowledge gained painlessly and unconsciously and enjoyment all the way.” Frank Delaney

“At the heart of every child, new-born, is a unique genius and personality. What we should be doing is to allow the spark of that genius to catch fire, burn brightly and shine.” Michael Morpurgo, children’s author, Children’s Laureate 2003-5

Readathon proudly supports both CLIC Sargent and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.

CLIC Sargent: Every day 10 children and young people in the UK are told they have cancer.  CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, providing care and support for them and their families from diagnosis, during treatment and beyond. We think they’re amazing. You can find out more here.

Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity: This charity was set up by Roald Dahl’s widow in 1990. It specialises in helping children with serious neurological or blood conditions, providing children’s nurses, equipment, carers and toys, working with hospitals and care organisations or directly with patients. This charity is as marvellous as the children it helps. You can find out more here.

Please do check out Readathon Uk’s website and perhaps even get involved yourself! :  http://www.readathon.org/

A HUGE thank you to Debbie Young and Readathon UK for showing such interest in a local author and inviting me to part of the magic! 😀 xxx

UPDATE!!!

A wonderful post about the interview on Debbie Young’s other website: http://offtheshelfbookpromotions.wordpress.com/

The rollercoaster continues…another newspaper article!

Okay, so all good things come to an end, right?

I’m expecting the same to happen here too, and the anvil to drop on my head at any moment…that’s the pessimist in me trying to be optimist by the way!

My debut novel was published exactly three weeks ago and in that time I have had three wildly successful author signing events, several interviews and have been in three newspapers and even mentioned in the Cotswold Life magazine.

Now, I really am not expecting this momentum to continue, but I do intend to hang on to the rollercoaster ride for as long as I can, or at least until someone pops the brakes on and I go splat! 😀

So, on Tuesday I have another interview, this time with the lovely Debbie Young of Readathon UK – a wonderful charity that promotes reading for pleasure in schools and libraries across the country and raises money for sick children. What’s not to love, eh? Readathon UK has also had some huge literary names supporting it, such as honorary chairman Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake, current Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson, Frank Delaney and Micheal Rosen to name but a few. Little old me will be somewhat overwhelmed in such company, but I’m looking forward to the interview.

As for now, I’m thrilled to share with you guys, that The Stroud News & Journal newspaper has featured my book in their ‘Books Special’ (Wednesday 17th October 2012, p26) and in their Arts & Entertainment section on their website!

Check it out guys! :

http://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/leisure/9990207.Beaudesert_teacher_pens_fantasy_novel/

Many thanks to the Stroud News & Journal for their support. Thank you guys! 😀 xx