Archive for September, 2014

Meet My Character Blog Hop

My friend and fellow author, Willow C. Winsham, has nominated me for another challenge, the Meet My Character Blog Hop. The gauntlet has been thrown down and I will beat her to the next challenge and nominate her for a change!

Willow is writing her début series, The Virginia Dewhurst Trilogy and is as guilty as me of living inside her characters’ world far too often. We bonded over our equally wild children and a love of Les Misérables. On one occasion when I was in dire straights, she appeared on my doorstep with large quantities of chocolate and warm hugs, for which I will be forever indebted.

You can connect with Willow via her blog, linked above, or on Twitter.

This challenge is simple, answer a few probing questions abut a character that you have written or are writing so that readers, and potential readers, can get to know a bit more about them. So, here goes.

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or historical?

I suppose it goes without saying that I am going to write about my central protagonist from my series, Echoes of the Past. I was tempted to throw a curve ball and pick somebody else, but decided that I would stick with the glue that holds the series together. Ariana Yates, aka Stalker-of-Night’s-Shadow is a fictional character, though I have lived inside her head for so many years that sometimes she seems like an extension of me.

When and where is the story set?

Echoes is set in the fictional city of Caerton, in contemporary Britain. It is a city with a rich history, full of invasion, battles, growth, industry, hardship and most crucially, a hidden society of shape-shifters. There are also other realms, hidden from humanity that our animalistic heroes (and villains) can travel to. Their own secret realm, Hepethia, exists in parallel to the human world and its raw beauty can be shaped to meet the needs of the shifters who travel there.

What should we know about your character?

StalkerAriana had a troubled upbringing and left home very young to strike out on her own. She was a misfit but in Caerton she was beginning to find her young feet when her life suddenly and irreversibly altered course. She is direct, determined and very defensive. She is also fiercely loyal and passionate. Soon after she changes, she discovers that she still doesn’t fit in, she is different from other shifters, just as she was different from humans. She’s a very competent fighter, having trained for years in various martial arts and her new abilities make her a fearsome opponent. One of my inspirational images for the character is this gorgeous piece, unfortunately I don’t know who to credit it to. If anyone knows, please leave a comment. For more images that inspire my writing, please follow my Pinterest board here.

What is their main conflict? What messes up her/his life?

This is a hard one to answer without spoilers. Ariana/Stalker can be very impulsive, she also has a short temper, so these traits often lead her into dangerous situations. She is also caught in between the two aspects of her nature; determined to cling to her humanity and protect her loved ones but also, at times, a slave to the inner beast. She is in constant conflict with herself, battling inner demons as well as external ones and having to face up to the very worst elements in humanity and shifter-kind alike. The main thrust of the series is this struggle. She sees what becomes of her people and must decide if she will allow it to happen to her or if she can stand against the tide and prevent herself from becoming the monster she fears.

What is the personal goal of your character?

I suppose her primary goal is to survive in an incredibly hostile world. But on a deeper level she is drawn to self-discovery, to learn who and what she is and why she has been dealt the cards she has. This journey will eventually take her even beyond Hepethia, as she seeks out the very gods who conduct the orchestras in which she and her companions play.

Is there a working title for this novel? Where can we read more about it?

The series is Echoes of the Past, the first book, Seeds of Autumn is already available to buy on Kindle. The second book, Ghosts of Winter, is coming soon. Books three and four have titles too, but I won’t be revealing them just yet. You can find out more here on my blog, check out the rest of my site too and follow me on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.

All that remains is for me to nominate some other authors to complete the challenge.

Fred Hopkins, blogger and fantasy author found at:

And anyone else who fancies a crack! Just tag me so I can stalk follow you.

Also, if you’d like me to do a similar profile like this for any of my other characters, do please leave suggestions in the comments below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Work-In-Progress Blog Challenge

I’ve been nominated by the ever-lovely Willow C. Winsham to complete the WIP Blog Challenge. Willow is a friend of mine from (shock horror) real life, who is currently writing her debut series of novels, entitled The Virginia Dewhurst Trilogy. I gather it is a hard sci-fi series set in the post-apocalyptic near-future and features alien robots who take over the earth…. no wait, that’s not right… Run over to Willow’s blog and check out her fantastic writing and historical research into witchcraft and other such fascinating topics:

Work-in-Progress Blog ChallengeHere are the rules:
Provide the link back to the post by the person who nominated you (see above).
Write a little about your work-in-progress.
Give the first sentences of the first three chapters of your current WIP.
Nominate four other writers for the challenge.

My WIP is the urban fantasy series Echoes of the Past. Book one, Seeds of Autumn, is available now on Kindle and in print from FeedARead (links on right). The series follows Ariana, a feisty young woman with special shape-shifting abilities as she battles dangerous demons, deceitful shifters and her own inner-beast. The series is set in the fictional city of Caerton, which is almost as real to me now after working on this project for so many years, as some of the places I have called home.

The second book, Ghosts of Winter, is very close to completion, having been through several sets of revisions already and cover art about to be undertaken but still technically a WIP (I can’t seem to stop tinkering!). But for extra fun and games, I’ve decided to do this challenge twice, because the third book is well under way (nearly 50,000 words!) and has almost all of my excitement at present.

Let’s start with Ghosts.

Chapter One (technically a prologue):

Eyes strode into the shop.

Chapter Two:

Stalker looked around at her pack mates, three savage-looking shifters in their Agrius forms, seven feet tall and covered in thick fur of varying hues.

Chapter Three:

Eyes checked every room in the little house, there wasn’t much to see.

Wohoo! So, there you have it. Could there be some point of view shifting in this book? I’ll leave that thought with you.

A quick note for the glossary: Agrius refers to the beast-like form that my shifters can take. It is their most savage form, fantastic for combat, not so hot at light conversation. The name comes from the Greek myth of Agrius and Oreius, in which a woman is cursed by Aphrodite to mate with a bear. The result is the twins Agrius and Oreius who are half man and half bear. In the myth, Artemis despises the woman and her offspring, finding them offensive and the twins shun the gods. In the end, Ares and Hermes turn the twins into a vulture and an eagle owl. What that may imply for Caerton’s shifters, who believe they were created by Artemis, I will leave to you to ponder.

Okay, so for the bonus round, here are the opening sentences from the first three chapters of book three, which has a title but I’m not revealing it yet. I might give out a prize for the closest guess.

Chapter One (also a prologue):

She pulled her long, blond hair back and tied it in a sloppy pony tail.

Chapter Two:

Stalker watched him sleeping.

Chapter Three:

‘Welcome to the Danegeld.’

I debated what to put for the last quote as the first sentence of chapter three is currently a bit of a spoiler. So this little morsel of dialogue is actually the last sentence of chapter two, but hey, it’s a WIP, so it’s subject to change anyway.

So, I know that the prologue is pretty much DEAD these days, but I like them. They are a fun way for me to sneak an alternative viewpoint into my books, to give the reader additional information and lay breadcrumbs for the big overall story arc of the series. The prologue for book three came to me while working in a coffee shop one, rare, child-free morning and it was an absolute epiphany. I had been struggling with how to start the book, when I went into my notes about what the core plot of the series and that book in particular was it suddenly became clear to me how it must start. I am thoroughly anticipating the shock when people read it for the first time, I can’t wait!

So that’s it for now. All that remains is for me to nominate four more writers for the challenge.

Janna Kaixer at an exciting up and coming writer whose work I cannot wait to read.

D. M. Cain at author of the Light and Shadow Chronicles.

Carol Phipps at lovely fantasy author and Tweeter-extraordinaire.

Paul Cude at author of the Bentwhistle the Dragon series.

One Lovely Blog

I am really grateful to have been nominated to participate in One Lovely Blog by the ever-insightful Willow at


The rules are as follows. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you, share 7 facts about yourself, and nominate up to 15 blogs that you particularly like, or fewer if you can’t think of 15. If I’ve nominated your blog, please don’t feel obliged to take part if you don’t want to, but if you do, thank you!

Okay, so 7 fun facts about me so that my readers can get to know me a little better.

1. I spend time contemplating how I would survive the zombie apocalypse. Yep, I’m one of those nerds. I have my secure location picked out, should my home fall. It’s a nearby store with no windows, a single set of automatic doors out front and an outdoor area surrounded by a very high fence. Provided it doesn’t get damaged during the looting phase, it will make a great base for quite a few people, we could even grow food in the outdoor space. I have a bat’leth to use as a weapon, it has sharp points for piercing zombie skulls and blades for decapitation. It’s the perfect weapon 😉 I just need a stockpile of tinned goods and I’m ready.

Hulk2. I used to love rollercoasters and thrill rides, but no longer enjoy the more extreme ones that much. I don’t know if it’s old age (ha!) or becoming a mother, but the fear overwhelms the thrill for me these days. I still enjoy rollercoasters that I know and love, like Nemesis at Alton Towers, but am reluctant to try newer, more intense ones. I sat out The Hulk at Universal Islands of Adventure two years ago and watching it, frankly, made me feel ill.

3. I’m an introverted Highly Sensitive Person. This makes it difficult for me to make friends and get close to people. It also means I have quite a volatile temper at times, when I react strongly to things that upset me. I’ve learned how to protect and nurture myself over the years and do try hard to step away from situations that are causing me stress, so I have a lengthy “blocked” list on Facebook 😉

4. Due to number 3 above, I am also a terrible salesperson! So perhaps entering the world of self-publishing was not the most obvious choice. I can natter on social media, but am terrible at approaching strangers to pitch my work, so this route actually made more sense than trying to sell myself to an agent or publisher. Before becoming a mother and then a writer, I had a string of awful jobs in service and sales. It took me a while, including several months as a charity fundraiser, to accept that it really wasn’t my “thing”. Never again!

5. I’m a passionate advocate of rights in childbirth. After a traumatic first birth, during which I was bullied and my consent violated, I became a campaigner for better maternity services. It was a heck of a journey, I learned a lot about different aspects of birth and found myself volunteering on a helpdesk and facilitating support groups. I still keep a finger in that world, but my focus has shifted onto my own career after a healing second birth.

6. I pick up song lyrics ridiculously easily! I generally only need to hear a song a few times to have most of the lyrics memorised and once they’re in there I tend to remember them indefinitely. So far. Except under stress. Don’t put me on the spot and ask me to sing for other people, not on my own. I love being in a choir, but solo singing gives me terrible stage fright.

big read7. This is a terrible admission for a writer, but I’m not actually a big reader! I did used to be, when I was a child and teenager I would devour books constantly and had a large library of beloved books. But I have so little free time now, with two small, home educated kids and a series of books to write, that I tend to choose to zone out in front of the TV during my downtime, rather than tax my brain with a book. But if I get into a book I will grab every instant to read until I finish. I recently read the Hunger Games trilogy (I know, late to the party, see above!) back to back in just over a week, which is fast for me. Next is the rather ambitious project of completing the BBC Big Read 100 most popular books list. I’ve only read about 20 of the titles on the list at some point in my life, so it’s a big project!

So that’s it for me. Now I am supposed to nominate some fellow bloggers…..

Kristen Lamb at We Are Not Alone: I always read Kristen’s blogs with interest and am a fan of her book, Rise of the Machines – Human Authors in a Digital World. 

Sarah Watkins at And Then I Read a Book: Sarah’s reviews are always thoughtful and insightful.

Marcey Kennedy, writer and editor whose writing tips I always eagerly lap up!

Sarah at Pyjama School: lovely home education blog, packed with ideas and inspiration.