Week in Review – 20/11/16

Well, I wasn’t very good last week and I forgot to do my week in review. So today, a day late, I’m determined to write a post!

Last week was anti-bullying week, and as a result, I placed Rise of the Darkwitch up for free. I’m delighted to say I gave away 141 copies of the novel! I hope that at least one person enjoys it!

I’m also doing a final proof of my manuscript before the paperback becomes available. I’m disappointed with the amount of small errors I’ve found (missing letters or small words mostly) but I guess that’s what you get when you don’t pay an editor! It’s annoying, but it’s all a learning curve. On the plus side, the cover looks gorgeous in 5×8 size!

I’m hopeful that my free offer will generate one or two Amazon reviews (preferably positive ones!) and perhaps do something to boost sales in general. I’m not too worried about selling  lots of copies at the moment. I just hope I can sell a few!

In other news, draft one of book two is coming along well. I had a period of about 7 days where I didn’t write anything on the novel (but wrote about 5000 words of other stuff). I’m just shy of 24,000 words in total on book two now. It’s very rough and I know there’s a lot of work to do, but I’m glad to be powering through!

Marketing last week was all based around anti-bullying week. Now, I’m not sure exactly what to focus on! I’ve been tweeting in #OwnVoices and #WeNeedDiverseBooks, although I can’t say it’s opened any avenues of contact.

Hopefully this week will be better!


Solace in Stories: Anti-Bullying Week

The 14th-18th November is anti-bullying week in the UK. Today, I want to talk a little about how bullying is relevant to Rise of the Darkwitch – and also to let you know that it’s available on Kindle this week for free!

Working in schools, I’ve dealt with a lot of bullying issues. Some are simple issues. Some are much more complicated. The important thing, though, is that to the individual, each issue is important.

One of the things I wanted to explore in Rise of the Darkwitch was bullying, prejudice, and how to rise above it.

The character Emmy suffers great discrimination in her life, even from Madame Krodge, her guardian. Emmy looks different, and is treated like a demon. Shunned by everyone, she exists in a life where her only value is her medical knowledge-or so it seems.

Emmy suffers verbal and physical abuse, but her story isn’t all negative. Rise of the Darkwitch is the story of Emmy overcoming the adversity she faces, and coming to terms with who she is-and not needing to change.

That’s a message I think is important to send to young people suffering bullying.

You don’t need to change. The problems are with the bullies. That’s not much comfort when the bullying is ongoing, granted, but it is true.

If you’re experiencing bullying, here’s my advice: tell someone, walk away from the bullies, and while you wait for the problem to be sorted by teachers and other adults whose job it is to sort them, find solace in books.

Read and enjoy, and remember: you don’t need to change. Just like Emmy, you’re perfect just the way you are.



Sunday 6th Nov – Week in Review

It’s seven days since the release of Rise of the Darkwitch. I thought it would be a good idea to record what’s happened so far, and make this a regular Sunday feature.

I have no intention of trying to big myself up and seem more successful than I am. Suffice to say, the novel hasn’t been a runaway success! Not that I was expecting such a thing, of course. Overall sales this week are just under 20, and have trailed off as the week has gone on. Most sales are from friends and family (thanks guys!) and a few others are likely from people who supported my Kindle Scout campaign. I’m not expecting many more sales.

I’ve tried a few marketing things, but I’ve also continued my research into book marketing. The consensus I reached? Don’t bother yet. It’s essentially pouring money down the drain.

I’m okay with that. I’m not labouring under the illusion that I’m going to sell shed-loads of copies. It’s just not going to happen. However, I am satisfied that the product I’ve put out has a place and a purpose, and I’m hoping it’ll end up in the hands of someone who’ll find comfort in it – or at the very least, some entertainment.

This week, I’ve also joined Goodreads and KBoards, so feel free to say hi! I’ve tweeted a fair amount in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag, as my book is very diverse, but I haven’t had much interaction.

I’m hoping that’s because I’m a small fish in a very big pond, not that my book is terrible!

In terms of new writing, I’m 15,000 words into the second Dance of Dark and Light series. Its tentative title is The Glass Empire. There’ll be a cover reveal soon!

My reading for the week has been Ruth White’s Lily of the Valley, which is free today on Amazon! I’ve also downloaded the Warrior trilogy by Don McQuinn.

I’ll be blogging a review of Lily of the Valley when I’m finished.

That’s about it for this week! Apart from slicing three of my fingers while pumpkin carving, and the incident of falling into a hedge and badly bruising both knees. The less said about those events, the better…


On Issues With Formatting

To my abject dismay, when I borrowed my own book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, I realised there were several formatting errors. Most were indentations that were too deep. But one was a little bigger: Chapter 19 was missing from the contents page.

HOW, I do now know. It was in the body of the text, but not the contents. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

Anyway, today’s lesson learned: you can never proof your work enough. Ever.

I solved the issue by uploading a new .mobi file to Kindle Direct Publishing. It seems to have fixed the problem, but I’ll be keeping my eye on it…


‘Doe’ indeed.


Proof Copy Arrival! 5 Reasons Why You Should Order a Print Proof

I got an unexpected delivery today in the form of my proof copy of Rise of the Darkwitch. I wasn’t expecting to receive it for a few days, so it was a nice surprise when I came home!

Seeing my book in print (via CreateSpace) gave me very mixed emotions. Obviously, there was the inevitable: “OH MY GOD! MY WORDS – PRINTED!”

But soon after came the, “Ah. Now I see why proofs are important.” And here’s why.

Five Reasons Why You Should Order a Print Proof

  1. Check the font used: one of the first things I realised was that my first chapter is in a totally different font from the rest of the chapters. It’s Garamond, while the rest are Times New Roman. I have no idea how that happened, but if I hadn’t ordered the print proof, I would likely never have noticed.
  2. Check the cover formatting: I truly wish I was in a position where I didn’t have to do the cover formatting myself, but being realistic, I can’t afford a cover designer. I know, I know, it’s important to invest in your product. But it’s also important to be realistic. I don’t have the £250-£500 to pay someone fairly for the work. So I have to do it myself. Seeing the proof in print made me realise that I need to lighten my cover art, and also re-centre some of the text. ALSO, I managed to get the text on the spine the wrong way around. That I would never have realised unless I got the proof.
  3. Check the page use: I know I noticed this in my digital proof, but I let it slide, because I assumed that this thing I had online wasn’t a real thing. One or two of my chapters end with very little text on a page – between one to five words. When you see it on paper, it seems like such a waste. I can only imagine the reader would be disappointed to turn the page, only to discover the chapter ends after another word. I’m going to have to go back and edit to eliminate those problems.
  4. Check the margins: I’ve got a pretty good eye for detail, and I usually know when something is off. I’m 100% certain the margins on the right side of each folio (essentially the ‘front’ of a page) are off by two millimetres. I’m going to have to change that. It’s annoying and keeps drawing my eye. Talk about being lifted out of the story!
  5. Check the size of the book: I went with 6×9, and now I realise what I really want is 5×8. It’s a paperback in hardback size, and it seems strange. It doesn’t feel like a novel. It definitely needs to be changed.

So there it is! My experiences of having a proof paperback, and all of the things I recommend you check when you order your proof – and I can’t recommend enough that you do just that if you’re considering paperback self-publishing!


My Rise of the Darkwitch proof – so near, and yet so far!


Update on ‘Darkwitch’ – Excellent News!

Hey everyone!

It’s felt strange not posting every day on the blog. I did enjoy my 50 day countdown! I’ll likely post one meaty blog entry a week on writing, and on Thursdays, I’ll probably do a Throwback Thursday thing and reblog one of the 50 days questions.

To get to the main point, though, I wanted to share some exciting news: as of writing this post, Rise of the Darkwitch is #2 in Kindle’s YA ‘Gay and Lesbian’ category, only behind John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Now that’s exciting!


The book is also trending well in its other categories:

I’m absolutely amazed! I know it’s not going to last long, but I wanted to make a record of this moment, so I can say that at one point, I was ranked #2.

Would you like to see what the fuss is about? Purchase a copy and see for yourself!