Monday, 24 September 2018

4 Successful Ways to Promote your Novel…

It’s not all about book reviews when promoting your novel these days. Yes, book reviews are valuable and securing them should be on any author’s book promotion to-do list. However, your book deserves more widespread, long-term, and on-going exposure than it can garner through reviews alone. And every writer knows that getting your novel to be talked about month after month is no easy feat. So what can authors do to get their books into the hands of their readers?

You need to generate the ongoing chatter your book deserves by seeing the publicity and promotion value in your fiction. There’s no question that promoting fiction is harder than promoting nonfiction—but because of that, it’s also more rewarding. Here are four ways to help you promote and manifest sales:

Nottingham Castle Caves
Find the nonfiction gems in your novel to use in creating newsworthy material for relevant media outlets. For example, in The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, I set the novel in Medieval Nottingham around the time Robin Hood was suspected to have lived. I found interesting tidbits that could be used for an opportunity to be featured on travel blogs. If you’re writing your novel now, make sure you work in some nonfiction gems you can capitalize on later.

Use your content to identify promotion allies. In Lost and Found, Book One of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, I wrote about the local animal shelter in the fictional town of Fairy Falls, and the tough task of continual fundraising to keep the shelter from closing. I contacted shelters and rescues in my area with the hopes of working with them, and bringing awareness to the ongoing struggle of lost and abandoned pets. Don’t just send them a note that says, “I’ve written a book your members will love.” Meet with them, or send a copy of the book with a letter outlining promotional possibilities and what’s in it for them.

Local Animal Rescue Promotion
Engage first. Focus on one or two social media networking sites. My two preferences are Facebook and Twitter, but there’s a whole slew out there to choose from these days. Make sure you master the most effective and appropriate ways to use social media to promote your book before spreading yourself too thin on several sites. Sometimes less is more.

Make the connection. Help readers connect with you by blogging (you do have a blog, right?) about your writing process and experiences. Get excerpts up on your website (you definitely should invest in your own cyber real estate) and read portions from your books via podcasts or YouTube videos so potential readers can get a feel for your writing and decide if the story is worth their investment. Give readers enough online (website, blog, YouTube videos, podcasts, free downloads) to convince them they’d like your book enough to hit the buy button.

Authors—how do you keep readers buzzing about your books? Can you add anything else to this list? Readers—what makes you want to invest your time and money in a certain book or author? Would love to read your input and comments. Cheers, and thank you for spending time with me by reading my blog! 

Monday, 17 September 2018

Guest Post: The Modern Book Tour by Nate Friedman...


Do you have a book? Then you can have a book tour! It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. Some will tell you it’s a waste of time. While it is true that most things are done online nowadays, I believe it’s more important than ever to be out there in person, sharing your book with the world. How else will people know you and your mission personally? The amazing conversations you have with readers, fellow writers and the smiles are all icing on the cake. Writing can be a lonely endeavor at times and being out there allows you put all of your hard work into perspective. And the cherry on top: free market research! Ask someone working at a bookstore what the hottest new books are, or watch your target reader and see how they navigate the shelves. That is all information you did not have before. It’s not about becoming an overnight success, it’s each successful day along the way. The challenge: selling as many books as you can at each stop. You might never feel like you are selling enough, however, what you get is information and learning, more than you ever could sitting at home or online. The most important part is progress - momentum. Remember this in all your creative endeavours: people want to get onto a moving train. Let me now outline some of the steps that will help you in getting your train started. I hope it helps you take that next step!
The Vision
The first thing you need to do is imagine your book tour and what you want it to be. Listen to your gut instinct and don’t rule anything out. Factor in time for yourself and make it just long enough to leave you wanting more. For some, this could mean taking a full year to peddle their book across the country. For others, this could be one event a week over a period of 6 months. For others still, maybe 10 bookstores in 10 days. Once your vision is created, that is what will help you sell the idea. People will feel you getting excited and will want to be on board. You’ll be the biggest party in town! Go to places that excite you, to places you’ve never been before, and even places you don’t want to go. Sometimes this resistance is exactly what you need to push through, to reach to the next level.
The Call
I am not talking about the call of the wild, but an actual phone call. Don’t think about it, just do it. We live in a time where we readily have access to copious amounts of information. Look up the phone number of bookstores near and far and call them (it’s free!). Don’t take any of these things for granted. The store managers you are calling want to say yes. They love you. They are probably as excited as you are, about having a new author at their store. Get a few no’s!? Good! That means you are heading in the right direction. You’ll feel even better when the next store you call is interested. If you’re the script sort here it is:
(smile: it comes through over the phone) “Hi I’m {name} author of {book name}. I was wondering who I would speak to about doing a book signing event. *gets person* “Hello there {say their name}. I’m {name} and I’m excited to be organizing a book tour! We’re looking to book {# of events} in {location} for the {insert tour name- makes it sound official}. We’ve already booked {insert stores booked already- remember moving train} and we’d love to have you on board. *wait, listen, really focus on the person you are talking to*
Final note: give them a date and time. If your vision is clear, you’ll know where they fit into your schedule. You’re not doing anyone favours by giving them an open calendar (it screams unprepared!) Also, have a backup date and time available, and if it doesn’t work out you still have a contact person for future tours. I always ask myself “How can I make this call fun?” before it’s made. Maybe you want to get an iced tea and sit on the patio with your legs up, GREAT! Life is about enjoying. Don’t just exist, THRIVE…. Oh, and at the end of the calls you’ll have a book tour.
The Preparation
This is where you use your writing and creativity skills to think of unique ways to advertise your events. I’m a bit old school when it comes to this: we put up these posters around where my events were taking place. There’s a multitude of ways to spread the word: internet advertising boards, local newspapers, your own website *hint-hint, nudge-nudge*, word of mouth, social media blitz including ‘what’s going on in {insert city}’ facebook group, book tour trailer. Anything and everything you think of, it will get people’s attention. We did t-shirts and colouring pages because it felt fun. Again, you have a style and a way you like to do things. That’s what makes you who you are, and the reason your book will sell a bazillion copies on your tour! Don’t forget to use your contacts: do you know anyone who is a news reporter? A school teacher or principal? Someone who advertises for their job/company? Ask for all the help you can!
There is also the question of whether to do paid advertising. You have to believe that anything you put in, you will get out. Sometimes these dividends take time to materialize. Decide on a budget. Be true to where you are at in your career and what you can realistically afford. My challenge here for you is to take what I call a “50-year approach”. Look at your career long-term and see how everything you do will help your career. Without a doubt, you know you will get where you need to go. It also allows the small mistakes and mishaps to be learning experiences, instead of career altering events. At the end, you only get one shot at each tour stop. Imagine yourself, sitting in that author chair on the day of the event, with less people than you wanted walking around. Think to yourself, “What more could have I done to advertise this event better?” Give, give, give, it all comes back in time.
The Event and Beyond
This is where the fun begins! Notice the excitement, the fear, the worry, the butterflies! These are all positive feelings. They mean growth in your career and increasing book sales. Don’t feel anything? I challenge you to build bigger- build something that scares you! Do the craziest thing you can think of!  Here you are, in a new bookstore and/or city. You’ve already won! You’re a working, traveling author, you are a professional. Your only job now is to be present, be yourself. People want to see your book succeed. They’ll even give you feedback directly, listen and weigh it. Try talking to as many people as you can. When you go home at the end of the tour, I guarantee you it won’t be the number of books you sold you think about. It will be the small moments and smiles along the way. It will be conversation that gave you your next great idea, the motivation you got from someone else, these are the things that will remind you why you write in the first place. And the book recommendations 😊! Ultimately, we’re all readers. It’s only being in the arena where you can learn and make adjustments. It does take a lot to put yourself out there, I don’t discount that, but it’s real. Take note of people’s names, make as many contacts as you can. Look at who publishes your favourite books in that genre and send them an email. Motivate people on their journey, tell people why you think your book is the coolest and why they should buy it! (Prepare a quick elevator pitch if you haven’t already and begin with your mission)
Also, take personal notes: what could we have done to improve in this location? What could we have brought? What worked? What didn’t work? Failing is not a tragedy, but failing to learn from it is. Take note on a deeper level, is this your thing? What part of the tour were you most excited by? Do you want to do more of these? How many should you do? Do you prefer reading and school visits? Be TRUE to yourself. This is all information you have now because you took the initiative and made that phone call. When the book tour is over, be sure to Thank everyone who was involved. They let you into their store and worked hard to make it possible, you have nothing to be but grateful. These heroes allow you to be an author.
At the end of the tour, and most importantly, DON’T STOP. Ride the wave. Sit down and plan the next one. You are one step closer to the Bestseller List (and if you’re already there, that’s one more person you shared your work with).
In closing, you are 100% responsible for how your book performs. 100%. Other people can help you along your journey but you alone are responsible. A book tour is a great way to spread your book to a larger audience and share your gift with the world. I once read that Tom Cruise, at one time the biggest movie star in the world, has a hand in every single movie he has ever been a part of. And you’re no Tom Cruise….yet (but those sunglasses you have look cool). The best way to approach your book tour, and your career in general, is that you are making it happen. Anything done by others is simply gravy. It is a lot of work. Seek the advice of professionals when it seems natural to do so, they want to help. The whole endeavour is rewarding. However, at the end of the day, you will be surprised by what you are capable of.
Let me be the first to congratulate you on YOUR book tour. Have any questions? E-mail me. I mean it, let me know about anything I can do to help you on your journey. Let me leave you with the best moment of my recent book tour. I’m teary eyed writing about it! So here goes: A young boy, of about five years, comes to the table to do some colouring pages I’ve left out. I’m thinking he’ll just draw some scribbles and be on his way. But instead, he focuses in and really gets into colouring. I joke with the parents that he’s really enjoying it. The mom says “Oh, he’ll do the whole thing” and she goes to sit down. As he is colouring we start talking about why he thinks he’s so good at colouring and what he wants to do when he grows up (he wanted to be an author, guys!). After doing a great job colouring, I decide I’m going to give this kid a book. I got to inscribe it saying “keep following your dreams - hope to work with you one day.” And then we took a picture together as he smiled. My heart melted. The fact I get to have moments like this that affect people’s lives is everything. I have been afforded the chance to follow my mission, which you’ll see in all my books: “I want to change the world one smile at a time.” What’s your mission? I guarantee a book tour will help.
THANK YOU FOR READING











Nate Friedman is the Author of “The Coffee Monster” and “The Last Hockey Fight.” He loves to travel and craves adventure in his free time. Along with making people smile and laugh, he is constantly pursuing his dream of being a writer on Saturday Night Live. You can find out more about his work at www.natetfriedman.com or www.facebook.com/natefriedmanauthor. Thanks again.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Book Tour and Recipe: Traveler's Zone, The Revelation Chronicles, Book 2 by Chris Pavesic...


Chris Pavesic continues the amazing story of Cami Malifux with Book 2 of the Revelation Chronicles.

Escape from a world of darkness into a magical realm of limitless adventure.


About the Book:

In Starter Zone, Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure. Indeed, magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world. 

Time to play the game.

Genre:
LitRPG YA Fantasy 

Cantaloupe and Chia Soup with Mint

This vegetarian soup is a refreshing summer treat perfect for either lunch or dinner.


Cantaloupe and Chia Soup with Mint

Ingredients:
  • 1 large cantaloupe (about 3 lbs.)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus small sprigs for garnish
Materials:
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large spoon
  • Large bowl
  • Blender
Directions:

1.  Halve melon, scoop out seeds and remove rind.  Cut flesh into large chunks. (About 6 cups)

2.  Working in batches if necessary, combine cantaloupe, honey, and orange juice in a blender.  Pulse or blend until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Stir in chia seeds.  Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.

2.  Just before serving, briskly whisk soup and stir in mint.  Serve very cold, garnished with sprigs of mint if desired.

Read an Excerpt:

I was born into a world where silicone still ruled. Where the products of the earth outshone those of the sea. Integrated circuits ran all electronic equipment and scientists strove to make the conducting lines smaller and smaller. Silicon Valley tried, and failed, to make chips fast enough to upload human consciousness.

The Revelation came a few years later from the hydrologists. They designed a system that did not use silicone, but instead worked with water molecules. The hydrologists managed to imprint the consciousness of a human mind on a single drop of water.

The water was to be kept in self-contained, sealed aquariums—pure, undiluted, eternal—where virtual realities were constructed to meet every need and desire. All of human knowledge encoded and stored in literal pools of data and integrated with the drops of human consciousness. It was, the hydrologists claimed, utopia achieved.

The obscenely rich were the hydrologist's first clients, many taken near the end of their lives. The procedure did not always work, but there were enough successes to spur people's interest. People suffering from terminal illnesses volunteered to be inscribed, and the hydrologists worked and refined their process. Private companies formed and competition forced price wars. Hundreds of customers grew to thousands, and then to millions. There were landmark court cases arguing whether or not health insurance should cover the cost of the inscription--whether or not this was a medical procedure designed to save lives or a form of physician assisted suicide. The law struggled to decide if life ended when the body was drained to a dry, leathery husk, or if life continued inside those glowing, sealed aquariums.

I was thirteen when the governments seized control of the laboratories, first in the Eastern European countries. Then the labs of Europe and the Middle East were swallowed up. Terrorist attacks soon followed and destroyed most of the civilized world over the next three years. The United States, Canada, and Greece, those bastions of democracy, did not fall until the very end. Of course, by then no one cared whether or not the government or the private companies ran the uploading programs. Many of the aquariums ruptured in the strife and the droplets, imbued with human consciousness, re-entered the water cycle of the planet.

The destruction of the aquariums led to a moment of serendipity. Once the hydrologists learned that the human minds survived outside of the aquariums, they designed a world-wide system of interlocking realms to host the inscribed human minds. Right now the realms exist in Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the Earth's seabed hydrosphere, but the hydrologists have plans to expand their reach into the rest of the world. Soon, the only life left on the planet will exist in the virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Purchase Links:

Smashwords

Watch the Book Trailer:


Praise for the Revelation Chronicles:

"She entered the game and I was hooked. I don't even play that kind of computer game, but the story was as addicting as I imagine a real MMORPG to be. Each level up, each new character, each new threat drew me in. I wish I could read the next book already!" --Kata, NetGalley Reviewer

"I love the dystopian genre, and a lot of the problem I run into is a lot of them are boring and follow the same storyline. This one is so different it's amazing. I cannot recommend this enough. It's sci-fi, it's dystopian, and it fresh. A definite must read that I plan on reading again!" --Liliyana S., NetGalley Reviewer

“Both sisters are strong female characters who are good role models for young girls.  This story is filled with suspense and adventure with a taste of the gaming world.  It is the first LITRPG book that I have read and I really enjoyed it." --Teresa O, Educator

"This book was amazing! The story line, along with the development of the characters was phenomenal. This book is very well paced, and easy to follow. Seeing the story play out for the characters, along with the lessons you gain from reading this book, makes it one of my new favorites. For, this book is more than just another dystopia novel. It's basis is on family love, and what you'd do to keep them safe. It's a young adult novel, yet is appropriate for anyone above the age of 10. I would highly suggest reading this book ASAP. You won't regret it!"--Almaz D, Reviewer

Book 1:

Starter Zone



Amazon

Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Check out chrispavesic.com for updates on this and her other series.

Meet the Author:


Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2NlNJXB




Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 10 September 2018

Book Tour: Mixter Twizzle's Breakfast by Regan W.H. Macaulay and Illustrated by Wei Lu...


Mirror World Publishing presents a 1-week book tour for Mixter Twizzle's Breakfast by Written by Regan W.H. Macaulay and Illustrated by Wei Lu!

Follow the book tour here:


About Mixter Twizzle's Breakfast:

Mixter Twizzle is an odd, red, round-shaped, mischievous creature. He lives in a hovel, beneath a rustic barn, underneath the chicken coop at Riverdale Farm. He’s a snoozing sneezer and a snoring barker---a peculiar sort that both annoys and pleases. At first, Mixter Twizzle is thrilled by his egg-gorging fests, delighting in his own wickedness, but he soon realizes he is lonely. He longs for companionship, but the hens will have nothing to do with him. Can this fiendish creature learn to make friends at the farm?

Genre: Children's Picture Book; Fantasy; Friendship

Publish Date: September 3, 2018

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing

Publisher Website: https://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/

Exclusive Excerpt:

But after he finishes his first breakfast, Mixter feels a twinge in his heart, “Mixter Twizzle, I’m bored being alone.”
            “Aloneness is goodness and more eggs to eat!” exclaims Mixter Twizzle to his heart’s whisper.  Confused by his feelings, Mixter tries watching the chickens, but the hens will have none of him.  They have no reason to trust thieving egg-eaters.
Purchase Links:

Amazon

Mirror World Publishing


Meet the Author:



Regan W. H. Macaulay writes novels, short stories, children’s literature, and scripts. Writing is her passion, but she’s also a producer and director of theatre, film, and television. She is an animal-enthusiast as well, which led her to become a Certified Canine (and Feline) Massage Therapist. Other award-winning picture storybooks by Regan W. H. Macaulay include Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese, Sloth the Lazy Dragon, and Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far. She is also the author of The Trilogy of Horrifically Half-baked Ham which includes Space Zombies! (based on her film, Space Zombies: 13 Months of Brain-Spinning Mayhem!—available on iTunes and on DVD), They Suck, and Horror at Terror Creek.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReganWHMacaulay

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReganWHMacaulay

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/regan-%20%20macaulay-18989a34

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2LxzSNt

Meet the Illustrator:



Wei Lu is an illustrator and graphic designer residing in Toronto. She grew up in China before studying at Nova Scotia’s College of Art and Design. She loves animals and make-believe characters of any kind and can bring them to life with a pencil and paper.


Monday, 3 September 2018

Building the Nostalgic, Tourist Town of Fairy Falls...

When I ‘built’ the mythical town of Fairy Falls over ten years ago, I drew from all of my childhood and adult experiences from vacationing and living in cottage country. When you think of a small, northern tourist town, what emotional cord does it strike? Vacationing with the family when you were young? Visiting your grandparents at their cottage? Camping in the backwoods with your friends? Whatever vision you conjure, I’m sure you have plenty of happy memories of that special place. That’s the basis of creating the town of Fairy Falls. I wanted to give my teen psychic mystery book series a nostalgic feeling coupled with a sense of adventure and…wait for it…the supernatural. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expected the unexpected.

Fairy Falls has always been a magical place, but for some reason it seems to be a haven for those with psychic abilities. In Lost and Found, the animals at the Fairy Falls Animal Shelter need a champion to save their shelter, and find one in rebellious Meagan Walsh, who’s a bona fide telepathic animal communicator. There are others with different psychic powers who have been (or will be) drawn to Fairy Falls, not to hide, but feel that they have been forced here by circumstances beyond their control. Or could it be a matter of serendipity that has brought them to this small, tourist town?

Fairy Falls is like any small town with a mayor, deputy mayor, and a selection of town counsellors. At the moment, Mike MacGregor is at the helm as this town’s mayor. Unfortunately, Mayor MacGregor is in mourning with the loss of his wife, Joy, who sat on as one of the counsellors for Fairy Falls. She was viciously attacked and murdered, and her killer is still at large. These characters are featured in the next installment of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, Blackflies and Blueberries.

There are four long weekends during the summer months, and Fairy Falls relies on these holidays to boost their economy enough to keep the town running all year round. The first long weekend is in May where firework celebrations dominate the skies. The second is at the beginning of July which includes more fireworks, street parties, and begins the farmers’ market season. The long weekend in August falls on the first Monday of the month, and is one of the busiest times of the year for Fairy Falls. Festivals are usually held during this long weekend, with the bathtub races in the Vista River as the highlight. The fourth is usually on the first weekend of September (Labor Day Weekend), when Fairy Falls hosts their famous fall fair which includes concerts, carnival rides, and a smash-up car derby. A word of caution: make sure you book a hotel/motel room or campsite early if you plan to come during these long weekends!

Lacrosse is very popular in Fairy Falls. Even the local high school has a winning team that’s hard to beat. Summer swells in population with the tourists and cottagers, so fishing, boating, water skiing, and tubing are favorite sports and past times. In the long winter months, hockey is the staple along with curling, as well as snowmobiling across the network of frozen lakes and trails. And believe me, you’d better have a sport or hobby to keep you busy during a Fairy Falls winter, because sometimes the ice doesn’t come off the lakes until May. Brrrr!

So what would I recommend tourists see or do in Fairy Falls? When we used to live in cottage country, we’d visit the local bakery in the tiny town five minutes south of us. The smell of fresh baking does something to a body. Sometimes it takes you back to when life was simpler. The downtown core of Fairy Falls hosts such a bakery, and is situated so you can sit at one of the ample tables beside the Vista River and enjoy your sweet treat, while watching the boats slowly putt by. Or better yet, book a boat tour to go on a three-hour cruise that takes you through a lock system, and into Blueberry Lake. Don’t forget to wave at Gertie Ellis if you catch a glimpse of her on the shoreline while she’s inspecting her blueberry bushes.

Other draws to this tourist haven include The Court Jester, the local bar and grill, serving up down-home, mouth-watering food that you can’t get anywhere else. I suggest you try their Jester Burger, topped with a slice of Canadian back bacon and pepper jack cheese, piled high with onions, garlic, and mushrooms, all fresh from the Fairy Falls Farmers’ Market. Add a pint of locally brewed Blackfly beer, and this meal will bring tears of joy to your eyes! Sit on the patio and enjoy the view of the Vista River where it may transport you to back to those good old days, and happy childhood memories. Oh, and make sure you don’t forget to stop by the Fairy Falls Farmers’ Market on Saturdays to score a deal from one of the crafters, produce, or food stands.

Tell them Sharon sent you…

Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking... 

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

BUY LINKS

Monday, 27 August 2018

Recipe and Read of the Month by Susan Lodge...

The last long weekend is almost here, so I've invited author friend and Regency maven, Susan Lodge to share a dish that can be cooked ahead of time, and whisked away to your cottage, camper, or family gathering. This recipe makes two generous portions, so double or triple up if your planning on serving extra bodies. It’s nice served with a green salad and some crusty bread. A little red wine is a bonus. Enjoy!

Easy Tomato & Bacon Pasta Bake


Photo by Serge Bertasius Photography
4 rashers (slices) thick bacon, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
300gm (10oz) dried pasta shapes. Penne works well.
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
400gm (14oz) tin of plum tomatoes, roughly chopped 125 ml (4oz) red wine
Small bunch of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped Salt and pepper to taste
110 gm (4oz) Parmesan cheese, grated, or mozzarella, sliced 

PREHEAT oven to 180C or 350°F.

FRY bacon in a little oil and put aside.

COOK the pasta in boiling water for the prescribed time on the packet.

IN a large pan gently fry the onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until soft and transparent. 

ADD tomatoes, wine, cooked bacon pieces, and most of the chopped basil (retaining a little for garnish). Season well with salt and pepper.

SIMMER gently for five to ten minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.

COMBINED the drained pasta and tomato mixture and turn in to an ovenproof dish.

SPRINKLE with cheese and scatter the remaining basil on the top. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

POUR yourself a glass of wine, relax, and enjoy a peek at my latest Historical Romance while dinner is baking.

Esmie Elstone is thrown into panic when she hears of Captain Rockford's return. But she is determined that the days of him interfering with her life are over. Destroying her chances of a happy future on his last visit, had resulted in her being foisted on her Aunt for a third pointless season in London.

To alleviate the boredom of society life, Esmie helps run a discreet betting enterprise under the guise of a sewing club. But there are some things you just shouldn't wager on, and Esmie's integrity is soon put to a dangerous test.

Richard Rockford had known Esmie almost all her life. As neighbours, Admiral Elstone had depended on Richard to keep an eye on his daughter when he was away at sea. The responsibility he had always taken on willingly. But her cruel and thoughtless actions, from the day he had left four years ago, had shaken him. Now he was back and wanting answers.

But when Esmie tumbles into a treacherous conspiracy, can he really turn his back on her?


Susan Lodge’s first publishing success was a story purchased by a major UK magazine followed by a drawer full of rejections. Finally a breakthrough gave her the confidence to seek and secure a publisher for her historical romance novels Only a Hero Will Do and Rebellious Cargo.

After working in several cities including London and Bristol, she and her husband moved down to the Hampshire coast to raise their family.

Learn more about Susan and her books on her website and blog. Stay connected on  Facebook, Twitter and her Amazon Author Page.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Book Tour: Unreachable Skies by Karen McCreedy...

Welcome to the virtual book tour for
Unreachable Skies by Karen McCreedy.


In a world where it is normal to fly, what happens when you can’t?

About Unreachable Skies:

When a plague kills half the Drax population, and leaves the hatchlings of the survivors with a terrible deformity – no wings – suspicion and prejudice follow. Continuously harassed by raids from their traditional enemies, the Koth, the Drax are looking for someone, or something, to blame.

Zarda, an apprentice Fate-seer, is new to her role and unsure of her own abilities; but the death of her teacher sees her summoned by the Drax Prime, Kalis, when his heir, Dru, emerges from his shell without wings.

A vision that Dru will one day defeat the Koth is enough to keep him and the other wingless hatchlings alive – for a time. Half-trained, clumsy, and full of self-doubt, Zarda must train Dru to one day fulfil the destiny she has foreseen for him, even if it is quickly becoming clear that the Prime’s favourite adviser, Fazak, is not only plotting against the wingless, but is gaining more of Kalis’ trust by the day.

Efforts to fight prejudice and superstition are certain to lead to death for some and exile for others; while Zarda’s own journey to understanding her role in events may lead her to abandon all tradition in order to protect her peoples’ future.

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Book Information:

Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Adventure - This book is targeted toward a general audience.

Page Count: 242 pages

Publish Date: August 17, 2018

Exclusive Excerpt:

“If Vizan is not well enough to come, then you must. Kalis is frantic,” he said. He rubbed a paw over the brown fur on his snout and I noticed that the skin beneath bore a pattern of red marks.
Vizan coughed and I set the beaker down, wiping his mouth with a cloth. Once I’d tended to him, I raised a paw to point at Morel’s sore nose. “Kalis bit you?”
“It’s just a nip.” Morel gave the marks another rub, then put his paws behind his back as though to keep them as far from his injury as possible. “My own fault. Kalis ordered me to fetch the Fate-seer right away, and I was foolish enough to say that Vizan wasn’t well.” His claws made a regular ‘pitter-pit’ sound against the uneven stones of the floor as he wiggled his toes, and I smelled impatience mingled with anxiety. Clearly he had no wish to incur more of the Prime’s displeasure by returning without a Fate-seer.
Neither did I. But…
“Kalis won’t want me praying over his egg. Vizan was his sire’s Fate-seer and his grandsire’s. I’m just an apprentice.”
“No!” Vizan’s voice was little more than a thread, but there was surprising strength in his wrinkled paw as he clutched my arm. “You must go, Zarda. You have the Sight. You are the Fate-seer now. Go! Go with Morel…”
“Vizan…” I hesitated, too afraid to voice the questions that had been gnawing at my thoughts since the Prime’s egg was laid: What if the hatchling is like the others? What might happen if he, too, is crippled?
It wasn’t a question I could have imagined asking a couple of moons ago. The sun shone by day, the Spiral watched over us by night, the moon waxed and waned every fifty-four days, and every drax could fly. Even after the Sickness had taken so many in the growing season, there had been no reason to imagine that the survivors would face the horror of hatching deformed offspring from their late batch of eggs.
Vizan seemed to sense what I couldn’t put into words and his grip on my arm tightened. “We Saw him, Zarda,” he croaked, “in the Dream-smoke.” He coughed, and his next words came in ones and twos, forced out between snatched breaths that rattled in his chest: “The Visions…are never wrong…never.”
I could see he was trying to set his ears upright to indicate his sincerity, though he was now so feeble they did little more than twitch. “This hatchling…will lead…victory…over the…Koth.”
I glanced up at Morel and saw my own doubt reflected in the set of his ears. The mountaindwelling Koth had raided and pillaged our farms since the Spiral first shone in the sky. It was true that I’d shared Vizan’s astonishing Vision, but still I had trouble accepting it as fact.
Vizan must have sensed my doubt. “You Saw it too…we both Saw.” He began to cough, and I reached again for the beaker, but he waved a paw toward the door and I read anger in his one open eye. “Put on the badge. Go!” 

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing 

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Review Quotes: 

"In the tradition of Ursula K. LeGuin and Anne McCaffery, with Unreachable Skies Karen McCreedy has created a nuanced alien culture populated by compelling characters." ~ James Swallow, bestselling author

Meet the Author:


Brought up in Staffordshire, England, Karen McCreedy now lives in West Sussex where she recently retired from the University of Chichester. She has written articles on films and British history for a number of British magazines including ‘Yours’, ‘Classic Television’, and ‘Best of British’. 

Karen has had a number of short stories published in various anthologies. She also won second prize in Writers’ News magazine’s ‘Comeuppance’ competition in 2014 with her short story ‘Hero’. 

‘Unreachable Skies’ is her first novel.