New Book Babies

It might sound a bit odd when authors compare their books to babies, but I think it sort of makes sense. You spend years putting the work into a book, moulding it, shaping it, nurturing it and encouraging it to grow and evolve at the right pace. And then at some point, when it’s ready, you let go of it and release it into the world. It’s similar to child-rearing in that way. Plus, authors are so connected to their books and often so in love with their own characters, that it just feels right to call them your babies.

Just lately I’ve been releasing a lot of babies that were cooking for a long time, so it felt right to blog about it. My blog posts for a while now have been taken up by wonderful guest posts. More on that and where it’s heading next another time! But for now, it’s really nice to climb back behind the driving seat of The Glorious Outsiders to update you all on my new babies.

Over a year ago I released the first in a YA trilogy, A Song For Bill Robinson. Here is a post I wrote at that time about where the idea for the book originally came from and how it later grew into a trilogy. https://chantelleatkins.com/2019/11/08/10-fun-facts-about-my-new-book/ After releasing the first book, I continued working on the second and third books, but I was also finishing up The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series – another mammoth amount of babies! And because Emily’s Baby finishes with a cliff-hanger, I decided I would hold back its release until the third book, The Search For Summer was also ready. I planned to release the final two books within a month of each other and that’s exactly what I’ve done.

If you are interested in a dramatic, gritty YA series about an unsolved murder, a neighbourhood feud and a self-destructive teenage singer, then A Song For Bill Robinson and Emily’s Baby are available now in ebook and paperback and on multiple platforms and The Search For Summer is available to pre-order and will be released on Friday 30th April.

It feels really good to have another series completed and released. Obviously writing a series of books is a huge challenge and extremely time-consuming and there is always a massive feeling of relief when the final one is out there!

At the same time, you feel a bit strange and a bit bereft. The characters have been with you for so long by this point that you feel lost without them. The good news is I am already in the middle of another series of books, plus I am co-writing a series with author Sim Sansford. So that is more than enough to keep me busy!

My new book babies are a YA post-apocalyptic series of which I have just finished book two. There will be four books in this series. And the series I am co-writing is a YA supernatural series and there will be three books.

After all of that I will be looking forward to writing a standalone book! And funnily enough, I already have one on the go. I’ve written some chapter outlines, character bios and some very rough chapters for a standalone which is actually a spin-off book from The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series. Two brothers are introduced as secondary characters in the final book of the series and I enjoyed writing them so much, I decided to give them their own book. I can’t wait to share news of that with you in good time.

But for now, it’s back to the massive book babies and getting another two series complete and released!

I hope I did my job the best I could and I hope they do well out there!

Indie Author of the Month – Mick Williams

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all doing well. I have not blogged myself for a while due to all the guest posts I was lucky enough to receive for the pandemic collection. More on that another day! I’ve also neglected to highlight any indie authors lately too, but I’m putting that right today with a special interview. Mick Williams is an author I’ve followed for some time on social media and recently I had the pleasure of reading his latest book, Final Clearance. Mick must be the most versatile author I have come across, with romantic comedies, mysteries, action and adventure and more all under his belt. He is well worth checking out for that reason alone. You are sure to find something that appeals to you. Here he tells us all about his new book, (a dark comedy about a serial killer with a heart) his writing process, proudest moments and what to expect from him next! Enjoy!

1. You seem to be a very versatile author – what genres have you written in so far?

I think I’ve covered most of them! Some of my books seem to be a combination of genres, which makes it difficult to categorise, so it’s probably easier to say that I haven’t tackled historical drama, auto-biography or, as my sister would say, witty-woo stories!! Everything else is probably in at least one of my books. Every one of them has a sprinkle of romance, tons of action and humour and a strong female character.

2. Is there any genre you wouldn’t consider trying and if so, why not?

Yep – witty woo. My Mum reads my books and I’d never dare show my face if she read something overly racy in one of them. I think I’m still her little angel. All of my books have at least a sprinkling of romance in them, and some of my characters might get sexy ideas, but I tend to steer away from being graphic with that stuff and let the readers use their imagination. They probably have a much better time that way, anyway.

3. What comes to you first, the characters or the plot?

This has worked both ways (and a few others, too). For A Reason to Grieve, I had the Doris character in mind from the get-go and wanted to work her into the story. She’s still one of my favourite characters. The Old Farts Club is based on a group of men I saw sitting in a fast-food restaurant one morning: a group of military veterans ranging from men well into their sixties, to a forty-something. They had to have a story (Exodus) and have now become their own series! Location is also something that gives me ideas. The forest in Whatever it Takes is here in Kentucky and loads of the scenes in Exodus came from a trip to Jamaica.

4. Do you imagine what audience would like your book before or after you write it?

Honestly, neither! Writing in different genres is probably holding me back, in that I’m not able to promote myself in one particular area, but all of my books have plenty of action, twists, comedy and a touch of romance. I’d like to think that the people that read my books now come to expect that but, truthfully, I write what comes to mind and hope that people like it.

5. Where did the idea for Final Clearance come from?

I got tired of reading ‘write what you know’ and finally considered what I know! I’ve worked and trained in retail and customer service for decades and thought about that. Then, I saw a video of an obnoxious woman berating and insulting a store worker who, fearing for her job, just stood there and took the abuse. Chances are that the same meeting in a bar or a car park would have resulted in the woman getting a bloody nose! Brody takes it a step further (well, a few steps!) but it served to set him up as a conflicted good guy who can’t stand bad guys and resolves to do something about it. Going back to question three, I bought a sofa in a store like Brody’s, and the location for the end of the book is about a mile from where I live.

6. How did you come up with a complex character like Brody Coulson?

Bit by bit! I didn’t want a stereotypical ‘nice guy turned evil’ kind of character. Brody is just a regular man working a job he doesn’t enjoy, whose patience runs out and he impulsively does something bad. To balance his bad deeds, I needed him to be a caring soul too, which is where Javier and Anita come in. I’d like to think we’re all trying to ‘do our part’ for the people around us, and I thought it would be fun to have a character that would do that – only to extremes. How would he justify murder, and how would he go from killing someone to going home to babysit a ten-year old?

7. What is the hardest part of writing a book for you?

Finding the time – I don’t know how you do it! I still work a full-time job and have a family, so it’s a hard balancing act to accommodate everything. The only way I manage it is to create time and write when I can, which is not conducive to continuity!! There are times I have to re-read what I’ve previously written before I can get going again. I also go back and forth between completely outlining a story and just writing to see what happens, and I spend way too much time procrastinating and trying to decide what to do! I think (or at least hope) that I’ve managed to get my stories told either way with some degree of success.

8. What is the easiest part of writing a book?

The Words. Once I manage to sit and write, the words normally come easily. Some days I can hammer out a couple of chapters and actually have them make sense.

9. What methods do you employ to market your books?

Not enough. Marketing is my downfall. Every time I complete another book, I tell myself that this will be the one I promote properly – blog tours, interviews, signings (at least in the ‘old world’), ad campaigns, emails. Then, I sit down and write the next one instead. Book number eight is with my publisher as I type this, and I’ve just released Final Clearance, and it seems as if I’m releasing them into the ether since, if I don’t let people know they’re there, no one is going to read them. It’s a frustrating vicious circle, and the part of this whole writing malarky that I don’t particularly enjoy. I have an author website (www.mickwilliamsauthor.com) which my much more talented son takes care of. I intend to start a blog on it to give readers something new to look at, and I promise I’ll get to it. After this. Or the next thing! I also have a Facebook page (also Mick Williams author) which I don’t interact with anywhere often as I should, and I also have an Instagram page which has the wrong name on it! I’ve given up with Twitter since, in the few months I had it, it got hacked four times.

10. Where do your ideas usually come from?

Everywhere. I have too many ideas and too little time. As I mentioned earlier, a location can be enough to give me an idea, or an overheard conversation. I read Wired magazine and generally get a few ideas out of every one of those. The most unusual event to give me a solid idea was a dream. I once woke at around three in the morning, fresh from a dream, and jotted down almost the entire plot for Callie’s Eyes – I even had her name and her family. If that could happen once every few months, I’d be able to retire and just write!

11. Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so, how do you tackle it?

Not writer’s block, as such, but I do sometimes reach a point in a scene where I’m not sure where to go next. When this happens, I either save my progress so far and attempt a different scene that I can add later or, if the sun is shining, I’ll go for a walk and mull it over. That’s helped me a few times. And back when I was young and healthy, way back, I’ve gone to the gym and done the same thing. It’s weird how stepping aside to do something else will let my mind wander and get me back to where I need to be.

12. Are you inspired by any particular books, films or TV shows?

To my detriment, yes. I’ve watched plenty of TV where something will happen that triggers an idea that I want to write RIGHT NOW, and I have to fight the urge and just make a note that I may get back to in the future (although it never seems to burn as bright by then). Reading books, to me, is writer homework. I love to read, and it’s another time sapping habit that takes away from the writing time. I’ve read Stephen King’s books since I was a teenager, and love all but one of his stories (I tried and tried to get into Delores Claiborne), but I find that, when I sit to write, his voice is still in my head and I end up writing in his style. I don’t realise it until I read back what I’ve written, and it’s glaringly obvious and I have to go back and rewrite it!

13. What are you working on next?

Two things at the moment, both sequels. My best reviewed book is A Reason to Grieve. It was my first story and I love the characters. I didn’t write it with a view to making it a series, but the characters have never left me so I’m about halfway through A Reason to Breathe, which picks up a few months after the first book ended. One of these days, I’m hoping to add a third, A Reason to Leave, to round out the story and give the characters some closure.

I’m also a few thousand words into the next Old Farts Club story. The first, Exodus, was well received and the second, Dark Target, is with my publisher right now awaiting edits. The third will be another stand-alone story with the same group of characters, and I have a vague outline for number four in that series that I keep dipping into. As I said – not enough time!

14. Do you have a favourite character from your books, if so who and why?

I’ve already mentioned Doris from A Reason to Grieve. As much as I love her, I think all the characters in that book are likeable; probably why I’m going back to them. The banter between them still makes me smile.

The same can be said for the guys in The Old Farts Club. I think that, by the time I reach the end of a book, I get to love all my characters. It’s like they’re my children, but I’m sharing them with the world – if that’s not too weird!

Callie from Callie’s Eyes is a lovely person, and I really enjoyed the chemistry between Cory and Ashley in Whatever it Takes. Hope and Charlie from Hope’s Game are two characters that really intrigue me, and that book was left with an open ending that will be revisited in the future. And Paul and Sabrina from A Guy Walks into a Bar also fascinate me, so much so that I have an idea for A Girl Walks into a Bar which will bring them back against some old adversaries. Again, I just enjoy the chemistry they share, it’s infectious and a lot of fun.

And then there are Brody and Javier from Final Clearance – they’re like my new-borns! They’re only a few months old, so they’re still dear to me. That being said, I THINK their story is told. But, you never know.

15. What’s been your proudest writing moment so far?

I’m fortunate to have a few.

Collaborating with my dear friend, Craig Ostrouchow, on a book (Hope’s Game) and releasing something I’m very proud of that did justice to a vision he created.

Winning the Imadjinn Best Thriller Novel award for Exodus- my first award, that sits by my laptop to remind me that I really can do this!

And every time I open the box of a set of new books. The thrill of seeing months of work formed into an actual book that other people can read never gets old.

If my answers have intrigued you, please stop by on Facebook, or at my website http://www.mickwilliamsauthor.com and say hello! If you mention this interview, I’ll be honoured to send you a free e-book version of either A Reason to Grieve or Callie’s Eyes.

For news and incredibly infrequent and non-rambling emails (see above answer on marketing!) sign up on the contact page, it really would be lovely to hear from you.

And thank you, Chantelle, for giving me this opportunity – it’s been fun!

A huge thank you to Mick Williams for agreeing to the interview! His links are below if you are interested in his books and as he mentioned above, if you contact him and mention reading this interview, he’ll send you a free ebook!

https://mickwilliamsauthor.com/index.php/about/

https://www.facebook.com/mickwilliamsauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/13254873.Mick_Williams

Guest Post #7 Hello Home…

Welcome to another guest post for my ‘Hello Home…’ pandemic themed feature. It would seem all of us have experienced or are still experiencing a lockdown of some sort while the corona virus continues to blight our lives. Although we are all in the same situation, we experience it differently because our homes are all so different. Thinking about this inspired me to write a piece a few weeks ago dedicated to my house and what it has meant to me during these strange and unsettling times. I then decided to reach out to others who might want to talk about what their home has meant to them during the pandemic. Today please welcome writer Adeola Sheehy to the blog!

My house has shrunk.

I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but sometime just past summer the walls began to move.

This house has always been cosy, but I now understand that bungalows have a habit of getting smaller the longer you stay in them, especially when the people inside just keep growing bigger.

I look down at the floor and expect to see a visible path in the carpet. There is a perfect circle to run in, from the hallway, through the kitchen, round through the front room and back again. I know it is perfect because I watch the exhilaration on their faces as they chase each other, and because I laugh at their shrieks as I join in the pursuit.

On a Monday there are so many people in my house I’m reminded of a house-party and my second favourite spot in the hallway, there are no getaway stairs here. Only now all the ‘guests’ are in tiny boxes on screens, with each child in a different class in a different room. There aren’t enough rooms or screens, so I end up here, in the hallway. Except this party is oddly quiet. I wonder if this is what those silent discos feel like? Everyone in their own individual worlds, together.

Our daily lives are now governed by these mini invasions, sudden bursts of people all talking at the same time, scrabbling for a moment of connection.

The nights are a contrast and that silence has a different feel.

Once it’s just the house and I, we both exhale, deep and long, releasing the built up tension and softening the edges which have hardened through the day’s onslaught.

The walls recede there in the dark. They shift back into place, a retreat from the battle lines drawn in the day. It’s those daylight hours, with their noise and movement that take up all the air and physical space. That’s when the walls move in and I start plotting my escape.

I used to love travel, but I loved coming home too. That brief window of time when you step inside the door and see the space as an outsider. It only lasts minutes, like the moment you bump into an old friend or lover on a busy street

and your eyes drink each other in, smiling in recognition, noticing the changes. The instant familiarity and simultaneous curiosity of the new.

Then slowly it all slots into place, the warmth of people fills the air, the sound of chatter pushes the stillness out and it’s all the same once more.

I haven’t left in over a year and familiarity is not helping our relationship. I need to leave so I can miss you. Your walls are like arms encouraging me on my way, pushing me out the door. We will like each other again I’m sure, but right now I can’t imagine how you got so small and I just don’t seem to fit.

Thank you so much to Adeola for writing this piece for the blog. If you would like to find out more about Adeola and her work, her bio and links are below!

Mother, writer, and women circle facilitator, Adeola leads courses in creativity and all aspects of the feminine experience. The written word has been her expression, safe haven, and dearest love for as long as she can remember. Be it fiction, poems, essays, or musings on life, her pen is almost always attached to paper.  

Follow her on Instagram at @adeola_moonsong and at her blog https://www.adeolasheehyaworldinwords.com/ 

Guest Post #1 – Hello Home…

Last week I posted about how it felt to be entering yet another strict lockdown here in the UK due to Covid 19 infections soaring again. It was a post addressed to my home…the place that is sheltering us and keeping us safe. It got me thinking, how are other people coping in their homes? All our homes are so very different – how does it feel for other people to be locked in again? So, I reached out and I’m happy to report I’ve got a wonderful selection of guest posts lined up for the coming weeks on the theme ‘Hello Home…’. For the first post please welcome author R. V Biggs. You can find out more about him and his books at the end of the post!

Home.

‘Home… home again.

I like to be here when I can.

When I come home cold and tired,

I love to warm my bones beside the fire.’

Wonderful song lyrics that I’ve remembered for almost 50 years and taken from the album ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ by Pink Floyd.

But at some point during autumn, maybe into November, a switch usually turns on inside my head while I’m glaring at tail lights during the daily commute home along the M6. The switch activates the memory of these song lyrics and draws me into the warm embrace of what home means, especially when we’re heading for the dark months.

That warm embrace offers up a myriad of recollections all listed under the heading of Nostalgia and not just related to the winter months when, for the most part, we humans migrate indoors.

As the years have passed, I’ve realised that Nostalgia isn’t just a yearning for years gone by. It can invoke memories in the recent past, and I think lockdown has had its effect on this notion as well.

My commute came to a halt in March 2020, much like, I imagine, many others, though I deem myself one of the lucky ones who can work quite effectively from home. So now my house has become my sanctuary, since I’m shielding, a place where I’ve been able to shut out the world to keep safe.

But the way I feel about my home has changed over the last twelve months. It has taken on a more poignant meaning after a three week stay in hospital when the medical experts tried to figure out what was wrong. Mercifully they did and returning home made me realise how I long for and value my home when I’m away.

For almost a year now I’ve worked from home, which suits me for the main reason that I don’t have to commute… the single most exhausting part of the working day. It means I’m here to have breakfast with my wife, and elevenses, lunch and dinner, the latter without being almost too tired to eat. There’s a comfort in knowing I can share more of my day with her and Mags, our Labrador rescue.

As I look around, I see the material things that make up our home. The furniture, the photographs, prints on the wall, the candles, the DVDs, my wife’s knitting basket. Then outside the trees we have planted, the roses, the summer bedding, the hard landscaping, the vegetable garden, the bird feeders. The list goes on.

But each of these things invokes a shared memory. The memory of when and where we bought ‘x’, or planted ‘y’. When this or that photo was taken and what we were doing at the time.

Imagine if you stood in each room of your home in turn, picked out an object and pondered when you bought it, from where, and what you were doing at the time, how far down memory lane could you go? What connections would you make?

Here’s an example. On the bistro table in the photograph above, there are cups and saucers my wife and I purchased from a charity shop in Tywyn, near Aberdovey. At the time we were having a short break in October 2019 for our wedding anniversary. I use one of this set each day for coffee while I’m working, and it reminds me of our rediscovery of the Cardigan Bay coastline of Wales.

During the year we met, we took a short break in Wales and fell in love with the place and each other. For years we holidayed there in the Autumn before discovering the vastness of Scotland after which we only had days out in Wales. But the return was an eye opener, since we’d all but forgotten its beauty. Now when I look at these cups and saucers, I remember that holiday in 2019, I remember the days out over the years, the seafront at Criccieth, Cadwalladers ice cream, the long beach at Harlech, Fish and Chips from Barmouth… catching the sunset before the long drive home. And all this from an object that sits in a cupboard in our kitchen.

Maybe these are the things that really define our homes so that when we return we are surrounded by the memories we’ve made.

I mentioned lockdown above. Well, below is a picture of homemade jam. The fruit was partially foraged locally by my wife during lockdown on daily dog walks, and from Cumbria during an early autumn holiday of this year before the world closed in once more.

Everything around me has a link to a memory somewhere in the near or distant past, and for me each of these memories relates to and brings me back home.

But if I were to be honest, home has two meanings for me. The first is that which we all recognise from the word… the place where we live. But for me, the other meaning is my wife. She is the reason I have a home, the reason I have so many memories, so many objects around me that link to my past. In the words of Roger Waters, (sorry, Pink Floyd once again but more recently than 1973), ‘Everybody’s got someone they call home.’

I think home must mean more to me than I sometimes realise, which is why I chose to weave themes of family and home into my writing. Not a decision I sat and thought about… it just developed that way, as you can see in this extract from Reunion, the second in my short series of psychological mysteries.

Sarah’s need for the sanctuary of family was her greatest strength and her greatest weakness. What was family, she thought, if not a place to belong? Family was everything. It was a warm blanket… an embrace… a safe place to hide when the world threatened. A refuge where the door was always open, and a friendly face welcomed. Her need was deep-rooted, which explained the intensity of her grief after losing both of her parents.

With thoughts of family, she recalled the feeling she’d had when entering the building over half an hour ago. But the feeling of home that touched her back then, was little to do with the carpeted entrance, the heavy curtains and fresh flowers. Instead, it was the presence that called to her… a manifestation which sent forth warm tendrils of love that spread outwards from this quiet room overlooking the sea.

So I guess ever more so during these times of lockdown, home is not only where the heart is, it’s where memories lie, where our spirit settles, where our souls are at peace.

Thank you so much to Rob for this wonderfully personal piece. If you would like to find out more about him and his work his bio and links are below! We will have a new ‘Hello Home…’ piece mid-week!

R V Biggs lives in a small ex-mining village near Wolverhampton, England, with his wife Julie, and Mags the black lab. He has four grown up children and six grandchildren.

Walking with the dog is a favourite pastime and much of the story line for his first novel was developed during these lengthy outings.

Robert worked for 35 years in telecommunications but changed career paths to a managerial supporting role within a local Mental Health National Health Service trust. It was during the period between these roles that the concept for Song of the Robin was born.

Robert is a firm believer that destiny and co-incidence exist hand in hand and this conviction extends to his writing. He has a passion for holistic well-being and after first-hand experience of the potential healing powers of Reiki, a form of energy therapy, took a Reiki level 1 training course to heighten his spiritual awareness. Robert’s experiences in these areas helped conceive the ideas that led to Song of the Robin and its sequel Reunion, novels with central themes of fate, love and the strength of family. His writing is not fantasy but is set in modern times involving real people living real lives.

Amazon :- Tinyurl.com/yavoqlbx
My website:- rvbiggs.com