Being self-published and doing my own marketing on a tiny budget means my sales are not huge, but December was my best month for sales ever, largely generated by paperback sales (via a company that will remain nameless, but ever quick and convenient to buy from). I have a strong impression a lot of this was from gift-giving by existing readers so a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported me and shared my stories with others.
I wanted to give those who have bought paperbacks on that site the chance to get something extra so I am in bookplate and bookmark design mode at the moment – but I’d like your ideas.

Is there a line you particularly like from any of the books or stories? (I’m including the short story prequel Melor’s Tale here, available for free download still from my website, or via the RedCards app, available on Android and Apple phones.)

Use the comments field below. Winners of the three best quote ideas will get a copy of the bookplates, so don’t forget to include an email address to contact you!

Audio books are a big thing on smart phones these days (and are 100% reading, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!) I have e-reader apps on mine which is great but the format is a bit clunky on a phone screen, whichever e-reader app I use.

So I was excited to hear of a new app to make reading on a phone not just look good but feel good – indeed, it is designed to make reading much easier for those who struggle to read a novel-sized book. It does this by letting you read as if going through a deck of cards, at your own pace and with manageable amounts of text at a time. Helpful if you find yourself so distracted by current events it’s hard to keep your focus/place on a full page of text.

It’s called RedCards and the Ilmaen Quartet will be featuring on it, as will many other great books, both classics and recently published. You can see the App demo here

And the designers would love to get user feedback on it, so are letting authors share the Beta link with a select few people – such as yourselves!

Shadowless and the short story prequel, Melor’s Tale, are available on RedCards. All you have to do is download and install the Beta app using the relevant link below:

iOS: https://www.redcards.com/beta/ios

Android: https://www.redcards.com/beta/android

If you have feedback, use the in-app tools to show your appreciation or contact them at RedCards.com with thoughts and suggestions.

Hope you enjoy it!

I’ve been working on a scene set in the Tor-Milanese Ambassador’s house in Lestar, for book 4 (An Empty Fade). I have got one of my characters into a bind and I know he’s going to get out of it, but I’ve been having a lot of trouble working out how. It’s starting to dawn on me now but it needs a bit longer to mature.

So rather than focus on it, I’m going to write a blog entry instead.

(Cue cries of: ‘What are you doing? Get on with writing the book! Haven’t we waited long enough?’)

Bear with me while Professor Adam Grant helps me explain – check out the YouTube link here and then pop back.

So, if I think of procrastination as ‘waiting while it incubates’ rather than ‘being lazy’, what’s to stop me waiting forever (and you never get the book)?

Andrew Kirby (also to be found on YouTube) has a different definition that he feels should be used for procrastination: not using your time wisely. On that basis, I’m not procrastinating at all.

I know from past experience that if I try to sit at the computer right now and knock out the solution that’s just occurred to me, I’ll either be staring at a blank screen for most of the day, produce boring unoriginal writing that I end up deleting or I’ll give up and go do something else that feels more urgent or easier. The last would be fine, I guess; but none of this is getting the scene written.

However, if I type up this blog whilst the idea putters about in my brain generating thoughts on why this would or wouldn’t work in the bigger story, I’m going to pull little strands together that weave something more solid. I’ll remember someone else this will affect; an unexpected impact enters the story and pow! – you, dear reader, end up with a far more satisfying read.

If there’s one thing I don’t want to do it’s short change you with An Empty Fade, especially after you’ve been kind enough to stick with me for three books already. But if the worst comes to the worst, there’s a good chance George RR Martin will finally have The Winds of Winter out to keep you occupied.

I hope that helped explain, thanks for your patience, and if you have a technique that works for your creativity, do let me know and I’ll share it!

Helen


With such a diversity of routes to publishing (and during the last year, so many would-be writers with time to draft a manuscript) there has never been a better time to be a reader.

But how do you as a reader find your way through all this to your kind of story?

This article has a couple of suggestions to short-cut to the books you’ve been looking for.

There were reportedly more than 48 million books available on Amazon (more than 6 million were e-books even back in 2018 according to Wikipedia) so the 2021 figures are going to be even higher. That’s a dauntingly large number of books, and it’s understandable that a lot of people prefer to rely on traditional publishers they trust and the bestseller lists to help them find their next reads. But publishers are businesses, they have to go with the authors who will make money for them. What if you’re a very niche reader?

Diversity is happening in traditional publishing but maybe not as fast as many of us would like. Meanwhile lots of people are publishing less for profit than for the joy of seeing their work out there. They can be a mixed bag, but there’s some exceptional quality writing to be found if you’re prepared to look. Here’s some ideas for ways to find your good stuff among it all.

Follow the right bookbloggers.

This will cut down some of the searching as they will curate books that fit their ethos. Use search to find and follow a few on social media, keep following the ones that appeal and you can save time and money tracking down your kind of read. If you’re after niche stories, the right blogger can save a lot of time and effort. You can find bookbloggers that focus on genres, languages, age groups, non-fiction subjects – pretty much anything.

Here’s one that specialises in less well-known authors and has a very visual site (and has Pinterest and Instagram accounts, if you prefer those Apps to FaceBook and Twitter)
https://www.whisperingstories.com/

Where a selling site uses sophisticated algorithms to feed you suggestions, it never hurts to check them out.

You’ll find suggestions on many book sites (or the stickers on bookshop shelves) along the lines of ‘Customers who viewed this item…’, ‘Inspired by…’ and genre ‘bestsellers’ links relating to the book you’re currently looking at. While some are paid adverts many are not, and checking out likely looking books can lead to yet more suggestions. With bestseller lists though, remember to scroll down a bit. The best books for you aren’t always the ones popular with everyone else!

You like a variety of books but you’re on a tight budget?

Then step away from the book retail sites and check out the ideas in this article, courtesy of How-to Geek:

https://www.howtogeek.com/58500/how-to-find-thousands-of-free-ebooks-online/


I don’t think of myself as a party animal, but writing is a sedentary job and I do need to get out of the chair for something other than a cuppa or a meal. I try to do some kind of exercise 3 times a week plus there’s walking the dogs but of those, only my online MS fitness class gives me a real workout.

Unless I’m some place where 70’s and 80’s soul and funk music is playing. It’s the equivalent of the doctor whacking me on the knee with a little rubber hammer – I just can’t keep still.

Cue a regular Friday night activity I’ve taken up during lockdown – an online disco. The one I attend is run by Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet, a wonderful team of lunatics in London with partygoers from – well, pretty much anywhere in the world!

They feature various partygoers on their blog and this week, it’s me!

I encourage you to go take a look at their blog and find out some new stuff about me – and maybe get into the party mood with these guys yourselves. If you do, tell them who sent you!

Maybe see you in Nikki’s spotlight at a future Friday Night Boogie?

Helen x


It’s been a horrible year but things are starting to get a bit saner (for the rest of the world at least – for the UK I’m reserving judgement!)

I have revised Melor’s Tale so it’s not a spoiler (much) any more, and am making it permafree for download from my website. (Obviously I’m hoping you love it so much you’ll rush to buy my books, but it’s a sweet little stand-alone wintry story so just enjoy it guilt-free.)

Featuring:
* An ex-pirate
* A dying woman
* Soon-to-be-orphaned kids
* A good dog
* A man in black with a ledger

Melors Tale A Prequel Short Story 2nd Edition Nov2020

I’m happy for you to pass the link on to others, it doesn’t save any email addresses so none of you will get spammed.

Book 4 is making slow but steady progress but no publication date yet – sign up for updates and we can let you know.

Happy Reading and Stay Safe xxx


My game plan, as a writer, was to get the first three novels out in the first two years (done!), and have book 4 ready to go this year with books 5 and 6 not far behind (one’s a prequel, and the other is one of my sci-fi stories but still in the same universe.) By year 10 I’d have a MASSIVE following and 4 more books out, wouldn’t I?

What we’ve got is book 4 still in first draft, The ending of book 5 has only just come to me, book 6 is novella length and needs a darn good look at the science, while books 7 to 10 are sketchy at best.

The good news is I did get a prequel short story done last year. I’m still pleased to have got as far as I have, given I was also diagnosed with MS last year. (I feel that makes an excellent excuse for the syrupy brain and the general desire to flob, so expect me to use it.) The equally good news is the MS is holding steady at the moment, and since I’ve volunteered with the MS Society for more than 15 years I have a good support network around me, so fingers crossed that it keeps behaving.

With the Covid-19 lockdown on it’s hard to know whether this grand plan will pan out. Apart from the timeline moving out a bit for books 4-6, for now the direction of travel still looks much the same. I’ve no time, no places to go and no budget for marketing at the moment, just a burning urge to catch up on book 4 and a good opportunity to do so.

While you’re waiting for me to get my act together, you can get lots of free PDF taster chapters from the blogs or the book tabs on this website, or if you have coughed up to Amazon for Kindle Unlimited, don’t forget you can (re)read the lot there for free.

By Restoring the Light, Vel and Jez have been solidly thrown together and while they both complain about everything, you know they both kind of enjoy it.
When you picture these two huddled damply together on a bit of tarpaulin getting wetter and crosser with each other, you know this relationship is inevitable. Since Renia was busy pining for Kerin (oops, not a spoiler I hope?) and four of them had set off to Ilmaen, these two were always going to have to keep each other company. You knew there were sparks. You just weren’t sure if they were lighting a steady, warming log fire or the towering inferno. But then, neither were they.

The link below is to a short extract that’s typical of their relationship.

Extract from Restoring The Light Chapter 1 Enough was enough

Other highlights to watch out for:
Getting Jesral on the boat (Shadowless Chapter 12)
That awkward first kiss (Restoring the Light Chapter 9) and
First it’s off, then it’s most definitely on again (Restoring the Light Chapter 11).

If you enjoyed this extract, why not try another Vel and Jesral moment, this time from Shadowless.
Or check out the short story prequel to Shadowless, Melor’s Tale

Catch you later!

Melor had given the inn boy a coin to stop his sheep getting out.
He’d said nothing about stopping anything getting in…

The tale of the day a sheep farmer found a dying woman, and made a life-changing decision.
Download the PDF below:
Melors Tale A Prequel Short Story
Photo by Andreas Weiland on Unsplash

Jez running in fear of Renia’s ability is a response Renia’s used to. While it may seem extreme and close-minded to us, these people are living in a future plagued by memories of The Catastrophe – and it is truly a memory, not just a piece of history.
About half of humanity have been born remembering The Catastrophe, able to sense the billions of lives snuffed out in one incident four hundred and fifty years before. Like a nightmare where the feeling doesn’t wear off on waking, they cannot shake off the horror.
The reason they can remember is because they have some of the ability that’s blamed for causing The Catastrophe. So perhaps what they fear now is being blamed themselves, and they are looking for someone else to carry the blame.
Jez is not the kind of person to walk away from what makes her scared, but everyone has their limits…

Extract from Shadowless Ch10 Normal people don’t do that