I used to do a feature on my blog called Indie Book of The Month. Like a lot of things it started with good intentions and then fell by the wayside. Basically, I used to interview an indie author if I had read and enjoyed their book and I’d post the interview plus the author’s links on here. I’d like to do more to support fellow indie authors, as I know so many and they are often very talented yet under-rated or unknown authors. It’s a constant struggle for indie authors to get their books seen so anything we can do to help each other is a bonus. With that in mind, I’ve changed the feature to Indie Author Of The Month. These will still mostly be authors I have read myself, but not exclusively. They will certainly all be authors I follow and whose content I enjoy. So, please may I introduce you to the lovely K.M. Allan who I have been following for a while now. Her debut YA novel Blackbirch: The Beginning came out last month and I enjoyed it very much.
1) Tell us about your latest release. What is it about and who is it aimed at?
It’s called Blackbirch: The Beginning and it’s the first book in a four-book Fantasy YA series. It centers around 17-year-old Josh Taylor, who has suffered a family tragedy and been forced to move back to the town he was born in, but can no longer remember. It’s not the only thing he’s forgotten, and when he starts having weird dreams about monsters and magic, long-buried secrets and danger wreck havoc with his life. It’s for 14 year-olds and above.
2) Tell us about your publishing journey so far.
It’s been a long one. I’ve been writing this series on and off since 2001, and started querying it back in 2015. After 22 rejections, it was signed with a small press in 2019, but it wasn’t a good fit and we parted ways. I then decided to self-publish, about a month before release, and that was a real learning curve. I have enjoyed it, though, and now the first book is finally out in the world.
3) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember wanting to be anything else. I’ve always been a big reader and wanting to write stories was just a natural progression.
4) What is your typical writing day like?
Since June 2019 I’ve been writing at 6am with the #6amAusWriters on Twitter, so my day always starts by checking in with them and doing something writing-related for at least an hour. After that, it all depends on what’s happening during the rest of the day. I basically try to write whenever I can sit down at my keyboard. Some days that’s only for ten minutes, other days I’m lucky enough to write for hours.
5) What is your writing process? (how do you plot a book, come up with characters, find motivation etc)
I’m a total pantser, so I rarely plot, especially a first draft. I’ll start with an idea for a scene or a piece of dialogue and write until I come up with something I can work with. I get a lot of ideas taking walks, or just doing something boring like cleaning and letting my mind wander. Motivation is probably something I struggle with the most, but I find having a routine and writing schedule (i.e blogging on Tuesdays, editing Wednesdays, writing one chapter a day) helps.
6) What has been the most positive thing about your publishing journey so far?
The support. I’ve been part of the writing community through social media for 5 years, and my writing blog for the last 3, and the support I got from these communities when my book was released really blew me away.
7) What has been the most negative thing about your publishing journey so far?
Definitely the technical process of publishing a book. There’s a lot of things to learn, and some of it is not immediately clear. It can be very time consuming and frustrating.
8) What can we expect from you next?
I am planning to release each book in the series 6 months apart, so what’s next is book 2. I plan to get that out in July, and it’s with an editor now. In the meantime, I’m working on writing/editing books 3 and 4.
9) Tell us three fun facts about you
I am an identical twin. I believe there is a Simpsons reference for every situation in life. I can’t not finish a book or a movie, even if they’re bad.
10) What is the best advice you could give to aspiring writers?
Everyone has their own writing journey, find yours and don’t compare it to others. Work out how you write best, stick to it, and remember that you can always learn more.
Thank you so much to K.M. Allan for allowing us a glimpse into her writing life. If you would like to find out more about her and her writing, please follow the links below. Blackbirch: The Beginning is available in ebook and paperback and I can guarantee it is a great read and a fantastic start to a series!
K.M. Allan is an identical twin, but not the evil one. When she’s not writing, she likes to read, binge-watch too much TV, and take more photos than she will ever humanly need. Visit her blog at www.kmallan.com to discover the secrets of the universe, or at the very least, some good writing tips.
Release day is fast approaching! I am just putting the final touches to everything and double checking everything is okay before I set up the Amazon pre-order link. I hope to have that done in the next few days.
But to keep you entertained, I hope you enjoy this sample chapter from the novel!
Bill was lying to both Pete and
Summer when he said he knew what he was going to sing on Saturday. He didn’t
know, and it was driving him insane. It wasn’t as easy as people imagined. He
couldn’t just get up there and sing what he wanted to sing. There was so much
more to it than that. There was the audience for one thing. They came expecting
entertainment. They didn’t want to be subjected to anything too new, too
obscure or too noisy. More than anything, he knew they wanted something to sing
He spent the rest of the week trying
to figure it out. He didn’t want to get on the stage and sing karaoke songs
like all the others. He wanted to sing. He wanted to perform.
Last time he had been showing off.
He’d picked a song from the machine a week in advance, probably the hardest one
on there. It was never about emulating the original version. He just listened
to the lyrics and thought about what they meant to him. He’d spent hours like
that, lying on his bed with the music in his ears and his eyes closed.
He’d mouthed it in silence to
begin with, getting to grips with the feel of the words in his mouth. Bill
smiled about it now, as he paced his room, picking up records and putting them
down again, running through his playlists again and again, thumbing through
Spotify and YouTube. What did he want to sing? What did he want to say?
Dog Days Are Over, by Florence and
The Machine. He’d picked it because it was shouty and loud. Because he could
lose himself in it. Because he liked the words and he thought about Summer when
he sang it, and he didn’t even know why, except you had to think about
But now? What now?
That had been before. Dog Days Are Over. He’d felt like that…like
he could forget about his mother and the horrible aching betrayal of it all,
and he could sing anyway. He didn’t sound like her. He didn’t sing or move like
her either. He could just be himself and still blow their minds. He could walk
around this cesspit with his head held high.
This was after. Now he had to pick a song knowing that the entire
estate knew a gang of masked youths had kicked the shit out of him. He had to
pick a song after that? And sing it in front of all of them? Including
McDonnal? No, it wasn’t easy.
Bill thought about drink warming
his belly, fingers of comfort snaking through his veins, bringing him up tall,
and what would he sing when he felt like that? Something old and warm and
comfortable. He could sing one of his mum’s favourite songs. His voice smooth
and silky yet strong and growling when he needed it to be. Something by The
Foundations or The Four Tops. The audience would like that. Everyone knew those
old soul songs.
He could sing something new he was
getting into, but he didn’t know how that would go down. He was into some dark
stuff lately which wouldn’t suit the community centre atmosphere. People went
there for a good time, or for some company, some support. They went there for
hope. He couldn’t take that away from them for the sake of showing off.
Then there was his bloody dad.
They’d always clashed, Bill thought,
as he opened the window and felt the cold night air on his cheeks. People said
they were too similar; short tempered and impatient, but Bill didn’t buy that.
They were nothing alike. He liked to be left alone, whereas Andy craved
company. Bill liked to keep his thoughts to himself, but his father liked the
sound of his own voice too much. Like now. Bill could hear him downstairs, his
voice rising and falling, laughter, punctuated by angry exclamations. He could
have been arguing with someone or shouting at the TV or just talking to
himself. He could never be still or silent.
His dad was one of those short,
angry men, he mused, gazing out of the half open window. He had a chip on his
shoulder and a point to prove. He was so annoying most of the time, so over the
top, especially lately with all the overprotective crap. He was embarrassing.
But those bastards had made him
Bill didn’t think he would ever
forget it. His father leaning over him, touching his hair with tears on his
cheeks. It was the first time he had considered what his dad had been through.
Until that moment Bill had only viewed the attack through his own eyes. He had
not stopped to think about how his father must have felt that night.
And it pissed him off.
Maybe blood was thicker than water
after all. Maybe he owed him a good night. He leaned out of the window, pushing
it further open. A stroll in the dark was what he needed. A chance to think
about it. Something would come to him then. The Clash, maybe. The Buzzcocks.
His dad loved all that stuff. A grin pulled at his lips as he pictured himself
getting up on the stage to sing something by The Sex Pistols. Then there was
Tom Waits. Andy had always been a fan.
Something pulled at his mind then.
Guitar intro. Low and dark and thrumming, giving the suggestion that something
was about to happen. The drums building up with the guitars. And then when it
kicked in it was gentler and sadder than expected. He could have jumped up and
down in excitement when it finally came to him. He recalled the first verse,
something about flirting with death and not caring about it. And it all fell
into place, the rest of the words, and the music that spiralled between the two short
choruses. It would be blinding. It was exactly what he wanted to say.
He decided to sneak out anyway. He
could find it on his phone and wander around having a quiet sing. Bill turned
at the exact second the brick came flying towards his head. He felt it spin
past his cheekbone and ducked away instinctively covering his head with his
arms. It rolled across the bedroom floor and sat there ominously. He rushed to
the window, leaned out and looked around.
‘That all you got?’ he roared
without thinking. ‘Come on then!’
He regretted his outburst when his
father came pounding up the stairs and into his room. Perhaps Bill could have
made up an excuse, if Andy had not stubbed his toe on the brick lying in the
middle of the carpet.
‘What the bleeding-hell?’
Bill pulled the window shut and
whipped the curtains together. He faced his father and watched him pick up the
brick and turn it over in his hands. He held it out to Bill, his eyes bright
‘This just come through the
window?’ Bill paused, and his father reddened. ‘Eh? Did it?’
‘Looks like it, doesn’t it?’ he
responded sulkily, pushing past him.
Andy rushed to the window where he
yanked back the curtains and stared out. ‘Just like that?’
‘Right, that’s it then,’ Andy
stormed from the room, taking the brick with him. ‘I’m calling Collins over.’
Bill followed him from the room.
‘Oh, for God’s sake, what’s the point? I didn’t see anyone!’
Andy stopped and faced him on the
stairs. ‘That’s all I ever bloody hear from you! I didn’t see anything, I
didn’t see anyone! What are you, bloody blind?’
Andy trotted down the rest of the
stairs and picked up the phone. He pointed the brick at his son. ‘I’m not
sitting here and taking that!’ he told him. ‘This is our home!’
Bill made a noise of disgust and
walked through to the kitchen. ‘Go on then!’ he yelled back over his shoulder.
‘You’re wasting your time!’
Bill stalked around the kitchen,
shaking his head and feeling penned in. Minutes later his father stormed into
the kitchen and stood in the doorway, hands on hips, legs spread.
‘He’s coming over. You’re gonna sit
in here and talk to him.’
Bill threw up his hands. ‘About
‘About everything!’ Andy growled
in return. ‘Now, I’m not bloody stupid, Billy-boy. I wasn’t born yesterday! I know
there’s something you’re not telling me about all of this. Why is someone
Bill slumped into a chair, folded
his arms and shook his head. ‘How do you even know the same person threw the
brick? Probably just kids mucking about. You’re gonna look a right dick when Collins
‘You’re gonna look like a dick when
whatever you’re hiding catches up with you!’
‘I’m not stupid,’ Andy warned him
again, his breathing finally slowing down. ‘You’re seriously expecting me to
believe you was just minding your own business one night, and a whole gang
decided to target you? No. There’s more, and I know it. Sit there! And don’t even think
about moving a muscle until Collins gets here!’
Andy spun around and marched back
into the lounge, where Bill heard him collapse onto the sofa and swear at the
dog. Bill rested his elbows on the table and dropped his head into his hands.
Suddenly Saturday night seemed a very long way off. He exhaled frustration
through his fingers, then dropped his hands and sat back in the chair. A brief
glance at the door, considering escape, but Andy must have been a mind reader
‘Don’t even think about it,
Billy-boy,’ his voice came from the other room. ‘I’m a lot faster than you
PC Collins knocked on the door
twenty minutes later. He came through to the kitchen, his hat in his hands and
his cheeks flushed red from the cold night air.
‘Thanks Andy,’ Bill heard him
saying, before he glanced at Bill, and then gestured to a chair. ‘Mind if I sit
Bill sighed, slumping forward
again. ‘Look, he’s totally wasting your time. It was just a stupid brick! Could
have been anyone!’
Collins flipped open his notebook
and started writing. ‘Well,’ he said, sounding weary. ‘The thing is, you might
be right, but we have to consider what’s already gone on, don’t we? Now
obviously in the eyes of the law, a brick is not much to go on and no damage
was done, but we can’t help connect the dots to other things, eh?’
Bill breathed out and in again,
willing his frustration to lay low. ‘Connecting dots is just useless though,’
he tried to point out. ‘That won’t stand up in a court of law, will it?’
‘No, course not, but that’s not
the point right now.’
‘What is then?’
‘The point is keeping an eye on
the situation,’ Collins explained calmly. ‘Making sure things don’t escalate.
Your father did the right thing calling me, and he also did the right thing
when he called us about the video. Sometimes lots of small parts add up to the
whole, you see?’
Bill shook his head and glowered.
Collins laughed softly. ‘Well, you
will. Okay, so you were in your room? At the window? The window was open?’
‘Yes,’ he growled. ‘Then I turned
away and the brick came through. And no, I didn’t see or hear anything or
‘Okay,’ sighed Collins. ‘And
you’ve not had any altercations with anyone in the last few days?’
Bill thought briefly about
punching Logan in the community centre. ‘No.’
‘Look, can I ask you something?’
Collins lowered his notebook. ‘Of
Bill scratched his head, then
pushed his hair back from his face and bit his lip. ‘Just saying…I mean, if I
thought I knew who attacked me, but I couldn’t prove it? That still
wouldn’t help me, would it?’
Collins closed the notebook,
folded his hands on the table top and looked at Bill very seriously. ‘If you
have any idea who attacked you, Bill, you need to tell me now.’
‘But what I’m saying is, it won’t help,
will it? I can’t prove anything.’
‘Well, let’s say you thought you
had an idea, it would depend on why.
So, let’s say, hypothetically speaking that you did have an idea? Why that person?’
Bill shrugged. ‘Instinct.’
Collins nodded. ‘Nothing else? No
recognition? Of shape or form or voice? Stature?’
Bill shook his head. ‘Nothing
obvious. Nothing that can be proven in court. That’s what I’m getting at. You
need actual proof, don’t you?’
Collins nodded slowly. ‘Yes, you
do. But imagine if I had a name? Then depending on who that might be, and what
their reputation and record showed up, I might be able to get a warrant to
search their home. You see? I might be able to question them, and you know,
sometimes that’s all you need, because they don’t have an alibi for that night,
or they’ve got some incriminating evidence in their home.’
Bill smiled softly. ‘No one would
be that stupid.’
‘You’d be surprised, Bill.’
Bill shook his head. If there had
been any evidence, it would have been destroyed that night. And the gang would
provide alibis for each other.
‘There were four of them, you
say,’ Collins said to him then. Bill nodded. ‘A chain is only as strong as its
‘What does that mean?’
‘It means not all of those four
will be as strong as the others. Someone will crack.’
‘They might,’ Bill
corrected him. ‘That’s what I’m saying. Might and maybe are no good for me, are
they? You can’t promise me anything.’
‘I can protect you.’
Bill laughed out loud. ‘No, you
can’t. No one can do that for anyone. Can I ask you something else?’
Collins slipped his notebook into
the breast pocket of his uniform. ‘Go for it.’
‘Has there been any progress on
the Lewis Matthews murder?’
‘Well, I’m not obviously meant to
discuss that case with anyone.’
‘I’m not just anyone. It might
affect me. Have they got any idea who it was? Or why?’
‘Why is the biggest
problem,’ Collins sighed, getting up from the chair. ‘Lewis was a nice kid.
Worked hard at school and kept himself to himself.’
‘So, why’d someone stab him then?’
Collins shrugged. ‘The only angle
we’ve got to go on is his father’s colourful background, but that’s about all I
can say about it to you right now, okay?’
Bill nodded, knowing the officer
had already said more than he was supposed to. It was enough anyway, he
reasoned. Enough for Summer.
Wow, time goes fast! Too fast! Although I have been working on YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson for three years, it’s release date is suddenly almost upon me and I do not feel ready! Life has been very busy lately and I feel unprepared for this book release and I’m ever so slightly panicking. I did consider delaying the release until after Christmas but I’m not going to. The good thing is this time around I have paid for a blog tour, so this is really going to help with the promotion and take some of the pressure off me. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while and if it has good results I will definitely save up my pennies and arrange another one for one of my older books. Anyway, my new book will be released on 7th December and the next few blog posts will be related to it, so if you are curious about the novel, stay tuned and learn more!
I first wrote this book when I was 16. An early version of this story was written when I was 16. Most of the characters have remained the same in this new version, although a few have been added and some have had their names changed. Some of the storylines are the same and some are new. The character who remains most unchanged from my early teenager version is the protagonist, Bill Robinson.
I forgot about it until I found it in a suitcase. I had totally forgotten about the book I wrote aged 16 but never managed to finish, until I found it in an old suitcase under my bed. The suitcase was full of my old diaries and stories and things I had written for school. Amongst all that was a huge lever arch file with the unnamed manuscript in it. What an exciting find! I sat there on the floor and flicked through it. It was handwritten on shabby A4 paper and I’d kept a separate notebook for character bios and plot developments, much like I do now! There is even a handy map! I was actually very impressed with my 16 year old self and decided I had to rewrite and finish this novel!
I wrote two short stories first. As I was already working on another novel, I couldn’t just start rewriting A Song For Bill Robinson right away. I was also putting a short story collection together so I decided to pen two short stories related to the novel, in a bid to keep the rest of it at bay. Bird People and Night Prowler can be found in my collection; Bird People and Other Stories. Bird People is really a character snapshot of Bill Robinson and I really enjoyed getting to know him again. Night Prowler serves as a prequel to the novel, explaining what happened first.
The original book was inspired by The Commitments. Yes, when I was 16 I watched the film The Commitments and it inspired me to write a story about a grumpy working class boy who wanted to be a singer. The book has very different storylines but the singing part was definitely inspired by that film!
It has evolved into a trilogy. My characters do this to me all the time! One book is just never enough for them. So, while I was already developing The Boy With The Thorn In His Side into a six book series, A Song For Bill Robinson ended on a cliffhanger that just had to be addressed in a follow-up. I wrote that book and will release it next year but the same thing happened at the end of that one! I am now working on the first draft of that third book.
It has an amazing soundtrack. If you’ve read any of my other books, particularly The Boy With The Thorn In His Side books, you will know that I am a huge music fan and will write songs into my books if I can. Of course, with this book being about a singer, I was able to have a lot of fun choosing songs! From The Clash, to Jamie T, to The Four Tops and David Bowie…this book rocks! You can listen to the playlist via this Pinterest storyboard…
The characters gave me an extra storyline. Yes, they are so naughty like this. I already had a plot and some sub-plots. The attack on Bill starts the novel. Who attacked him and why, and is it connected to the unsolved murder of a local boy? These revelations come throughout the book as does the ongoing feud between Bill and local thug Charlie McDonnal, who Bill suspects of the murder. There is also the community centre under threat and the singing contest held to try to save it. Bill, of course, is a contender in the contest, but can he keep Charlie and his own inner, drink-related demons at bay long enough to win it? And in the middle of all this, my characters suggested a love triangle between the three main characters and best friends, Bill, Summer and Adam. This is a storyline that runs on into the next books.
My daughter helped me edit it. My oldest daughter finished her GCSE’s and had a long summer ahead of her. Her main priority was reading lots of books! She offered to read the paperback proof of A Song For Bill Robinson for me and was an invaluable help. It’s aimed at her age group so I was curious about her reaction to it. She sped through it and loved the characters and she also sat with a pen as she read it, correcting typos and reordering words for me. She was brilliant! Of course it has had further edits and revisions before and after that as well as beta reader feedback, but her being the age it’s aimed at, really was a massive help.
I wrote some songs for it. Well, sort of! You see, in the book, Bill ends up joining a band and playing covers with them. They want to write their own music though, so he starts trying to come up with some lyrics, something he does not think he can do to start with. So this meant I had to come up with some lyrics! And that’s mostly what there is in this book, disjointed lyrics for unnamed songs. But in the next two books those songs develop and become actual songs the band start singing at gigs.
It’s set in a fictionalised version of the estate I grew up on. Just like Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature, A Song For Bill Robinson is set on a council estate called Holds End. This is a fictionalised version of where I grew up. The books link slightly as Elliot mentions the Robinson family in his book and Elliot’s mother Laura, appears briefly in the next book in the Holds End trilogy. As for the location, I’ve kept most of it the same, changed a few roads names and added the community centre.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these random facts about my next book. In next week’s blog I should have news about the release date and a pre-order link for you!
Launching a book is scary! So scary in fact that I’ve been putting this one off for months, maybe even years. As is the usual with me, I tend to write a first draft in about 3 months and then go into subsequent drafts and rewrites and edits that last for years…I then procrastinate about how ready the book really is, worry endlessly about whether it’s had enough beta readers and generally do everything I can to put off actually releasing it.
Why? I think because in writing a book, you put your heart and soul into it. You immerse yourself in it, become obsessed by it, fall in love with it and in releasing it, you hope to have some kind of recognition of that, in sales and reviews, and as most indie authors will know, this is by no means easy. If you have money to spare, it helps. Money will buy you an editor, a decent front cover and an advertising campaign. High sales and plentiful reviews are still not guaranteed but you’ve got a better chance. For writers who don’t have a single spare penny? It’s a much harder and more frustrating process which at times barely seems worth it.
Anyway, I digress. There are many reasons I delay book releases and fear of failure is the biggest one. I don’t have massively high hopes but I do hope and dream of decent sales and positive reviews. And if I put off the release? Well, I delay the fear and can sleep better for longer.
But! The time has come. I am currently nearing the end of The Boy With The Thorn In His Side Part 6, and when that’s done, I will have five unpublished books waiting for release dates. Five!! That’s insane. I think that says a lot about my relationship with writing! Endless ideas, addictive/compulsive tendencies and then utter fear and denial. It also explains why I’ve written my whole life but only starting publishing in my mid-30’s.
So, with that in mind, one of those five books will be released in December! I decided on December as it’s a good time to release a book, when people are thinking about Christmas presents and it’s dark and miserable outside and people want a book to curl up with. That gives me almost three months to plan the launch. I’m already daunted, although I have done this before. I am tired just thinking about it.
Having already ruled out a physical launch (as an indie author I am too afraid no one will come and very good at self-sabotaging myself) I do need to make a plan and stick to it.
So, this post is my book launch plan for YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson, potential release date Friday 6th December. I will probably add to and revise this plan as time goes on and as always, please feel free to comment! If I have missed anything, let me know! Any good ideas? I’d love to hear them!
Decide on release date
speak to cover designer again to prompt first sketch of ideas
go through book again for final typos etc
decide on a good tag line for promo etc
make a list of ARC reviewers and ask in Street Team and Facebook page
contact possible ARC reviewers
send book to agreed ARC reviewers
organise a blog tour
revisit Pinterest board and add to/revise/work on
start making release day and release countdown graphics on Canva
organise advertising, free or paid, decide!
contact similar genre authors to organise giveaways and/or blog spots/interviews
start making quote graphics on Canva and start sharing to Instagram etc
contact YA booktubers!
contact YA book reviewers!
put print copy together to release on same day as ebook
organise Amazon or Goodreads giveaway?
create a Facebook launch day event and a separate Instagram one?
invite other authors to event to share posts/books etc
create graphics for online launch events
create launch day competitions for Facebook and Instagram
Put together a series of blog posts to release up to launch day about the book
set ebook at 99p for one week only
invite people to Facebook event and hope they come!
submit the book to competitions/awards!
drink lots of wine and remember that at least I tried!!!