Fortune’s Well Book 3: Days End released today!!

And look out for a future post titled ‘how not to launch a book’!

Life has other plans, right? Life gets in the way.

Today was meant to be a big day for myself and my co-author Sim Sansford, as we released the final book in our YA trilogy, Fortune’s Well.

To recap, as we were coming out of lockdown, Sim messaged me to see if I’d ever consider writing a book with another author. The answer was no – but Sim and I have similar writing styles and interests and get on really well as business partners and friends, so I said yes, why not?

He had a vague idea that struck a chord with me – the image of an empty jar, a jar full of nothing and two teenage protagonists battling with mental health and family drama. I quite quickly created JJ Carson and Sim created Darcie Duffield. I dived in and wrote the first chapter and from there it just snowballed! We were soon writing a chapter a day each, sending them back and forth via email and discussing our plans for the story via messages on Facebook!

The amazing thing was the lack of planning and plotting. It was all very fast and organic and seemed to just fly! We soon realised we had enough material for a trilogy and today the final book, Days End was released.

A few weeks ago we had grand plans of a launch event, competitions, sneak peeks, Facebook Lives and more! Unfortunately, with family drama/work pressures and every day stresses, neither of us have had the time. Amazon then did a spectacular number on us by deleting our preorder link! Sim dealt with this fiasco and there was no real reason given for it being deleted. Our preorders were lost, refunds issued by Amazon and we’ve been left hoping that those people went back and ordered again.

Not a great way to launch a book but it is always tricky with a series.

Anyway, that aside, we are hugely proud of our co-written trilogy and we have already started planning another book together. More on that another day! Right now I am having a glass of wine to celebrate the final chapter in JJ and Darcie’s intriguing story of superpowers, dark organisations, and family secrets and it would mean the world to us if you would consider purchasing the book. Both book 1 and 3 are currently just 99p for ebook!

Here is the link to Days End:

And the blurb:

All things must come to an end…

With the Organisation hot on their trail and their powers growing stronger by the day; JJ Carson and Darcie Duffield are more determined than ever to save Fortune’s Well from the looming darkness.

But when history threatens to repeat itself, and an unseen foe is watching their every move, who will make the ultimate sacrifice to save them all and bring about the end of days?

Days End is the highly anticipated conclusion to the Fortune’s Well trilogy.

Character Interviews: Andorra Pett

Welcome to a new feature on The Glorious Outsiders where I’ll be interviewing unique characters from other people’s books! Today, I’m chatting to the intrepid intergalactic explorer Andorra Pett – the protagonist from Richard Dee’s unique series.

  1. What is your name?

I’m Andorra Pett, but you can call me Andi.

2. How old are you?

Oh dear, we’re not off to a good start, are we? I would have thought that you’d ask me some easy ones first before we got on to the personal stuff. You should never ask a lady her age. Let’s just say that my biological clock is ticking along nicely and leave it at that.

3. Where do you come from?

I’m a child of the world, my father was a diplomat, hence my name. Apparently, it’s where he was working when I was, well you know. My sister is called Argentia, enough said.

4. Where do you live? Describe it to us

I’m currently living on a space station, orbiting Saturn. That’s when I’m not off on one of my adventures. I came here for a new start after I caught my fella, Trevor with the person who’d been my best friend. Not my best day. I needed a change and together with my business partner, Cy, we left Earth for here. The station mines the rocks in Saturn’s rings for rare earth metals. I do a bit of that, as well as run a café. Life out here is quite fun, in a dangerous sort of way. We grow our own food on a farm, on part of the station, there are cows and crops, my boyfriend Derek runs it.

5. What do you look like?

I’m as tall as Napoleon. Alright, I’m short and curvy. My mother said my best feature would be my Queen Anne legs. I think it’s my hair. It can be a bit uncooperative, but there’s lots of it, it’s very dark brown and it shines. My appearance is not a subject I like to say too much about. On the space station, we don’t go in for showing off, it’s more a working gear place. Suits me, we can’t all be slim and sophisticated, like my sickening sister.

6. Who is your best friend and why?

It was Maisie. We grew up together and shared everything. There was a clue, if ever I saw one. We don’t talk now. You’d better ask the cheating scumbag, Trevor, why that might be. I don’t talk to him any more either. Now it has to be Cy. We’re not attached, he’s got a fella of his own but we’re best buddies. He’s been with me through all my adventures, knows all my secrets and has my back. Between us, we make a good team.

7. Who is your worst enemy and why?

That’s whoever fate seems to have put in my life at any particular moment. When I first arrived here it was Munro, the owner of the other café on the space station. After I found the body and people started to try and kill me, I’m not sure anymore. To be honest, it could be anyone.

8. What are your talents?

I discovered that, as well as being a pretty good clothes designer, I can fly spaceships. It’s nothing to be proud of but I also appear to have a certain knack for attracting trouble. From when I was at school, I excelled at saying the wrong thing, to the wrong person. Now, wherever I go, there seems to be a trail of dubious characters following me.

9. What are your flaws?

I’m accident-prone and can be a little slow on the uptake. On the plus side, I’m pretty good at spotting what others have missed, working things out and doing the right thing, eventually.

10. What do you think people think of you?

That I’m a dumb blonde who’s dyed her hair a few shades darker. I’m not complaining though, being thought of as stupid can have its advantages, especially when it comes to fighting crime, it’s good to be underestimated. Just ask Miss Marple.

11. What do you wish people knew about you?

What I’ve actually achieved. The biggest thing I’ve come up against is that when I’m wrong, nobody forgets and when I’m right, there’s always some reason why I’m not allowed to tell everyone how clever I was.

12. What’s your biggest fear?

I used to be frightened of spiders. I thought there wouldn’t be any on a space station. Wrong! I was cured of that phobia, in the best possible way, by Derek.

13. What’s your biggest hope?

That one day, I’ll wake up and there won’t be someone trying to kill me, or I won’t be in the middle of some ridiculous situation, wondering how I got there.

14. What’s your biggest secret?

I’ve accumulated some money that maybe I shouldn’t have. Not through doing anything naughty myself, it just came my way in the course of things and as nobody can claim it without admitting their own guilt, I decided it was best to keep it for myself. I used some of it to help friends and family who were having a rough time but the rest is my reward for a job well done.

15. What is the worst thing you have done to another person?

I’ve always tried to be a good person, even when people didn’t really deserve it. I might have made a few bitchy comments but that’s about it. Honest.

16. What kind of friend are you?

Probably the best one you could hope for, until you mess me about. You get one chance, upset me and you’re out.

17. Is there anything about your life you would change?

If you had asked me this when I first left Earth, I would have wanted to turn the clock back and try again. When something bad happens, people always wonder if doing something different might have been better. Now I know that it doesn’t matter, you’re where you are and can only ever go forward.

18. Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

If Derek’s reading this, isn’t it about time you put a ring on it?

19. Do you have any regrets?

Not really, like I said before, things happened and whether you think they were for the best or not, you can’t change them. I thought Trevor and I would grow old together, turns out I wasn’t the only one he convinced. I wish I’d listened to my mum more, I miss her advice.

20. How would you like to be remembered?

As a crime-fighting space hound, with killer wit and nerves of steel. Fat chance of that, Ha Ha!!!

21. What are your hobbies/how do you relax?

I’ve been spending time on the farm, with Derek. It’s surreal, farming on a space station but it works and is a great antidote to flying about mining asteroids. It’s fascinating trying to solve all the problems and produce food out here, I’ve even had a hand in inventing a way to produce Lobsters, which I’m really proud of.

22. What is your favourite food?

Anything that is moving slowly enough for me to grab. I’ve never met a calorie I didn’t like. My favourites are cake, chocolate, chocolate cake, you get the idea.

23. What is the worst thing you’ve had to eat?

My own cooking. Cy reckons that I couldn’t do toast without a recipe and a video. When you think about it, opening a café, selling food to hungry miners was the logical thing to do, wasn’t it?

If you want to find out more about Andorra and her adventures, here is the universal link to the first book in the series:

Here is the blurb for Andorra Pett on Mars

Andorra Pett shouldn’t have been on a space station. It was all Trevor’s fault.

But there’s no time to mourn her cheating boyfriend. She has to open her new café. And there’s a big problem, the freezer’s filled with the body of the previous owner. Everyone she meets is a possible suspect, from the customers to her rivals, they all have a motive.

Andorra discovers that the dead man had a book, full of secrets and gossip about everyone’s life on the station. It’s certainly not the quiet backwater she hoped for, out here orbiting Saturn.

The information in the book is a prize worth killing anyone for. And it’s hidden somewhere in the café.

It all means that Andorra’s in danger. Can she stop being out of her depth long enough to turn detective and find it, before anyone else does?

If not, she could be the next one in line for a long, cold sleep.”

And here is my review:

This is a must read for sci-fi fans! Andorra Pett and her friend Cy have just landed on a space station orbiting Saturn. The story starts with them taking over an abandoned cafe and promptly discovering a dead body in the old freezer. This discovery automatically propels them into several mysteries and imminent danger, as a stranger breaks into the cafe to attack Andorra. Who is the dead man? Who killed him and why? And who is now after Andorra?
As well as solving these mysteries, the story takes us on a fascinating journey around the space station, which has its own farm among other things. The world-building is sublime, the characters memorable and the plot fast-paced!

March Writing Challenge: Changes in my writing

At the start of every month I ask my Facebook followers to suggest some writing prompts and challenges and then I post the one I chose at the end of the month. January and February flew by without me remembering to ask for prompts but at the start of March I put out a plea and had some great suggestions. I was tempted by a few that inspired fictional responses, but in the end I was most tempted by this non-fiction challenge by Becky Bekstar Paroz: changes you’ve seen in your writing, the industry and industry trends. I’ve decided to just focus on changes in my own writing for this post.

I published my first book The Mess of Me in 2013 so it’s been a ten year journey now for me. It’s had its ups and downs, which, I have to say, are far more interesting than the flat periods, where not much happens. I’ve learnt a lot and I like to think I have come a long way. When I first self-published through a now defunct ebook platform called Autharium in 2013 I had no clue what I was doing. My first attempts at front covers were terrible, my blurbs needed work, I wrote books that were overly long, and I had no idea how to market them.

My covers have definitely improved! I am really happy with most of them now. There are a few older ones I’d still like to revamp at some point, but it all takes time and money. I think my writing has improved too; partly due to constant practice, time, maturity and experience. It would be pretty awful to be worse at writing after ten years of publishing! But I can also credit other people with helping me get better. My wonderful editor and proofreader, my invaluable and honest beta readers and other authors who have, over the years, offered to read manuscripts in order to give advice and tips. I’ve learnt through my own hard work but also through the guidance, kindness and honesty of others.

My writing has changed in a few ways. I think I’m better at saying things with less words now. I’m generally writing shorter books than I used to, with a few exceptions. I also have a large amount of trust in my own writing, if that makes sense. I don’t overthink it. When it comes to a first draft, for example, I just get on with it once my planning is in place. I just write it. I definitely have more self-belief.

The other way my writing has changed is the fact I’m writing in far more genres these days. In terms of marketing, that can be a headache, but hey, the main reason I write is for the pure and magical joy of it. At the start of my journey I was writing hard-hitting, gritty, realistic dramas. The plot for The Mess Of Me, for example, involves drug-running, eating disorders and self-harm. The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series delves into the murky world of career criminals, domestic and child abuse, murder, drugs and self-harm. It’s a dark ride! This Is Nowhere examines missing people and fragile mental health. Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature involves a boy trying to prove to his agoraphobic mother that the world is not full of bad people.

Things changed when Sim Sansford asked me to consider writing a series with him. He had already published books in the paranormal/supernatural genre and I was intrigued. We ended up writing a YA trilogy together about two kids with amazing superpowers! If you’d told me ten years ago that I’d move from writing about teenage body image issues, to teenagers with dark forces inside them, I wouldn’t have believed you!

My interests have also inspired some change in the genres I try. Like a lot of people I’m worried about climate change and the decimation of nature and wildlife, and my upcoming series, The Day The Earth Turned comes from this fear. I hope to release book one in June. In the series, which I’d describe as horror, a group of children have to navigate a post-apocalyptic world where all the adults have been culled by nature itself. Many died in multiple pandemics, and the rest died in various awful ways as Mother Nature sought to shake herself clean of humanity. The children are given a second chance, but can they stop fighting each other longer enough to figure out how to live in this new world where humans are no longer in charge?

I’ve been a huge fan of The Walking Dead and anything zombie related for a while now, so about two years ago I started writing a diary-style story about a 15 year-old boy left to fend for himself in a zombie apocalypse. I didn’t finish it but at the moment I’m typing it up to Word and having a lot of fun as in the last two years I have planned out everything that happens!

After re-reading Stephen King’s ‘It’ a few years back, I got the idea for a creepy, strange town where a group of misfit kids have to fight evil and I created Black Hare Valley. Nothing else happened for a few years as I’m always working on other things, but I did design a map of the fictional town, created most of the characters and penned a potential opening scene. A year ago, a prolonged power cut meant I couldn’t use the laptop so I started writing Black Hare Valley into a notebook, got entirely addicted and filled up 5 books before I finished it! I haven’t touched it since then because I’m trying to get other projects ready and published before I return to I’ve full attention to this potential horror series. It’s about dark evil, magic and shape shifters! Again, I never would have imagined me writing that kind of thing!

Marketing issues remain the same. I don’t have a lot of money, if any, to throw at advertising my books so my sales and reviews remain dispiritingly low. I am hoping to change this and have some ideas planned, including trying Facebook ads for the first time and so on, but it is still the hard bit. You put so much into creating these worlds and characters, usually two years of editing back and forth before you publish, and then it proves as hard as getting blood from a stone when it comes to selling and getting reviews.

I know I’m not alone though, and I’d say, if anything, it’s got harder in this industry to be seen. I have realised throughout my own journey that the indie authors doing well have been able to pay for regular ads and marketing in order to push those sales and get those reviews. They can keep it going then, as the more reviews you have, the more you get noticed.

The indie collective Sim and I are building is something to feel hopeful about though. Chasing Driftwood Books is in its early stages but we have big plans! More on that another day!

Still Lost In My Own Little World

Me, aged twelve – thinking about my story at school, staring out of the window, barely listening to the teacher, barely aware of the world around me, filling my rough book with ideas and pieces of dialogue because my characters think the school day is a perfectly appropriate time to start talking to me. Rushing home, backpack bouncing against my shoulders, breathlessly running through the door to complete my chores before the rest of the day is mine. Me, in my room, music on first. Guns ‘N’ Roses at that age, thumping out from my hi-fi music system on the floor. My desk, an old coffee table, me on my knees, hunched over reams of scruffy A4 lined notepaper. A whole folder of one boy’s story, one boy’s scary world which would over time morph into an entire universe of my making.

Me, feeling excited to the point of explosion. Fixating entirely and completely on the story growing before my eyes under the frantic movement of my powerful biro. Pouring out the ideas and scenes that have bombarded me all day at school. Not a part of me is wondering what else I might have missed, from teachers, friends or society itself. Because I am removed and detached from all of that. That’s the background, the white noise, the distraction and this – this is real.

There were always other stories too, a constant stream of words and action. Sometimes I would sit at the breakfast bar in the kitchen with an old transistor radio to keep me company. I’d be lost in there, utterly gone. A ghost in this world but the puppet master of my own. I’d come back when I had to, with drowsy reluctance. What was there for me in this world? Terrible school, awful people, tedious chores and pointless homework. My parents rowing, doors slamming, people leaving, accusations flying, money draining away. I didn’t want any of that. I did not, in the words of Tom Waits, wanna grow up.

So, I didn’t. I broke free. I bucked the trend. Broke the rules. Did what all of them told me not to. I became a writer. And not much has changed. I have a foot in each world but most of my thoughts and dreams happen in my own one. As a child people used to say I was in my own little world and I guess they thought that one day I would grow out of it. Nah. I became a writer.

And it’s just the same now, as I hurtle back from the dreaded school run, a day off stretching ahead of me, dogs to walk, ideas to hold onto. I get to the laptop, get to my stories, to my own little world as fast I can. The world is bigger now – it’s a universe! I have sixteen published titles and eleven of those occur in the same universe. The Boy With The Thorn In His Side was my obsession as a child and a teenager. That story, those characters guided me through my youth and gave me a much needed escape route from reality. No wonder they mean so much to me. No wonder I am reluctant to let go. The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, the Holds End trilogy, The Mess of Me, Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature and Bird People and Other Stories have all grown out of my obsessive writing as a twelve year old. I’d love to go back and tell her! And at the moment, the same universe continues to expand with three more books I am working on side by side. Again, I think twelve year old me would be amazed!

At the moment I am working on the fourth draft of At Night We Played In The Road which is a spin-off book from The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series. Two characters are introduced in book five of the series and I loved them so much I decided to give them their own book. A while back I penned a start to a sequel to The Mess Of Me, which was my debut novel in 2013. I finally finished it recently and as both these new books happen in The Boy With The Thorn In His Side universe, writing them inevitably led me to one final story. A crossover story, which I am currently on the second draft of. This book, The Dark Finds You, brings Danny from The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series, Leon from The Mess Of Me, Bill from the Holds End trilogy and Elliot from Elliot Pies Guide To Human Nature together in one story about a missing boy. It happened naturally and inevitably, I feel, because storylines that run through all those books have tangled my characters up together in the same dark criminal world where youngsters are lured into running drugs for older, criminal gangs and all of this comes to a head in the crossover book. It really finishes off Danny’s story too – from the boy I created aged twelve, to the man he is now – this last story ties everything up with no loose ends left hanging. Once these next three books are released, it really will be the end for that universe.

I will be both happy and sad but other worlds are calling! Plus, I don’t want to drag it out forever! This last book really will tie everything up perfectly and it’s been a very satisfying one to write. I think it is the fastest and easiest book I’ve ever written. It took just six weeks to complete the first draft and it just sort of wrote itself!

So, I’d like to pay homage to my obsessive twelve year old self. Thank goodness you didn’t give up. That goodness that drive to write was there every single day, upon opening your eyes! You didn’t know then what it would lead to but you did know you were addicted!

And I’m extremely happy and grateful to still be lost inside that world of my own making. It’s the best place to be.