Blogfest 2012 ~ Join the party

A Journey of Books have organised a massive blogfest with 158 participating blogs! How many can you visit? What might you win???

For the chance to win an eBook version of gritty, contemporary fiction, Once Removed  

 inspirational memoir A Life Less Lost





or Cathie Dunn’s brilliant historical romance, Dark Deceit, please leave a comment with your email address so I can contact the winner. All email addresses will be put into a hat and drawn by my disinterested other half on Monday 1st Oct.

To continue the fun pop into these five blogs and take it from there: for a chance to win a copy of Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know For a chance to win a Vampirerotique swag pack For a review of Amarok Offers the chance to win two cozy mysteries: Bruja Brouhaha and Corpse in the Crystal Ball L.M. is having a contest!  RaffleCopter Grand Prize: Tshirt, $20 Amazon Gift Card, 1 Ink Pen, The Pack Series (Book 1 & 2 in print), Flutter Of Luv ebook copy


A kitten on speed?

Crooked Cat Publishing is a mere kitten beside the older, bigger and more established publishing houses. But through the tireless work of Steph and Laurence they have now expanded into paperbacks to compliment their ever-growing eBook list.

The “lions” in the industry have much on their side. Size does matter. For example:

  • They print books at a fraction of the cost
  • They can thus afford distribution and retail costs (and these are substantial)
  • They have marketing and promotion teams and strategies
  • They have access to larger media outlets, major TV, radio and print producers for promoting their books and authors
  • They are very selective and have the big names

I’m a reader as well as a writer so I appreciate competitive prices and easy access to my favourite authors. But I think there is a case for supporting the independents.

The problem large companies have is risk aversion. They want safe story lines and saleable names. This means we get lots of books by celebrities and psuedo-celebs and stories with proven marketability, ones that fit neatly into tidy boxes.

There was a time in the 60s and 70s, when cinemas were shutting everywhere and I suspect risk aversion was part of the problem. People tire of same old, same old.

Hollywood was renewed and reborn with the earlier collapse of the studio system, and the works of many new and experimental film-makers (Tim Dirks, AMC Filmsite)

The same thing happened in children’s literature. The first Harry Potter book was rejected by a dozen of publishers before it was taken on and brought reading alive for millions of children around the world.

So I urge readers to take a chance on the independent publishers. Their paperbacks may cost a little more but often their eBooks are cheaper.  Amazon may have its faults but they’ve opened the door for these companies, as well as self-publishers. And if you like one of these indie books, do please tell your friends. Look what word of mouth did for self-published novel, The Shack.

My book, Once Removed, is now available in paperback.

In the USA:

And in the UK:

How important is the cover?

 These are two very different covers for the same book. Which would you choose?

The first is from a photo my son took for me. I persuaded my publishers to use it because I thought the round hole in the oblong, the hard stone amongst the soft greens showed the sense of not fitting in that both my main characters felt. But I now believe my thinking was too airy-fairy and didn’t give the reader any idea of genre or content. Clearly, a book that is essentially about relationships should at least show people on the cover.

Once Removed is due to be released as a paperback on the 21st September and happily my publisher, Crooked Cat, agreed that this offered the perfect opportunity to make a change. Having failed myself, I was delighted and relieved when Steph came up with this wonderful alternative.

But was the problem just the cover art or was the blurb also a factor in slow sales of the ebook? My son tried to warn me that the original blurb gave too much away so I took this opportunity to tweak that, too. And because Once Removed has been out as an ebook since May, we were also able to add a few phrases from some of the many great reviews.

On a few of the excellent reviews, people had commented that they’d been wary of choosing this book (see examples below) but all went on to give 5 stars.

 I thought that I’d maybe find the subject of self-harming in this novel a bit depressing, but on the contrary, KB Walker managed to deal with it very sensitively and also keep me gripped right to the end.

I must admit that I was kind of skeptical going into this 133 page book that it would be as good as the reviews that it was receiving on Goodreads. Reviewers were dead on. In this short book, the author was able to write a gut-wrenching story, which got into my heart!

 Read it on a recommendation from a friend and although the book is a little different to what I normally read I couldn’t put it down.

I have never read a book tackling the sensitive issues surrounding Self Harm particularly within a novel. KB Walker’s debut novel was well written and though one could be forgiven for expecting it to be either depressing or distressing for a reader I found quite the opposite.

For a relatively unknown author, tackling a difficult subject, I’m hoping a new cover and blurb will tempt a few more readers to give Once Removed a try.

What do you think? What affect does the cover, blurb or reviews have on your choice of reading material?

Celtic visions…

A fascinating post today from Scottish author, Nancy Jardine. I’m looking forward to reading your answers to her question. Now over to Nancy:

I’m very pleased to visit you, Kimm, on my mini-launch tour for my historical adventure novel, The Beltane Choice, published by Crooked Cat Publishing. I thought I’d explain what spurred me to write an adventure novel about Celtic tribes being attacked by the Roman Army.

Strange though it may seem, the soil in my garden had quite a lot to do with it since my plot is approximately 500 yards from a site of Roman occupation. If I lived in southern England someone might be quite justified in saying…what of it? The Romans left plenty of evidence there. The fact I live in rural Aberdeenshire, Scotland, means I’m very fortunate to have had Romans right on my doorstep. The Romans invaded the north, though didn’t colonise as in southern areas. In Aberdeenshire, I know of no Roman hypocausts or villas having been uncovered. What Aberdeenshire has plenty of are standing stones, Neolithic tools, and…evidence of Roman marching camps. The camps were used for varying periods of time – some of them for only a night or two, and others for longer durations.

My husband isn’t interested in history. He couldn’t understand me imagining eight thousand leather-clad feet marching over the soil of my garden, fleeing Celts running over towards the river and up to the higher ground where evidence has been found of Celtic roundhouse occupation. Thousands of Roman soldiers tramping across my grass was an awe inspiring image. I’ve got deep loamy soil, in some areas the bedrock being ten feet and more below surface level. Over the years I’ve dug up many different items. Canine jaw bones, sheep bones…and other bones I’m too scared to look into in too much detail. Lots of rusty nails, and bits of iron, which I had originally thought to be Victorian. Since 2002 I’m now not so sure. The bits of metal could be much older. I might even have something left by the Roman Army. That idea was so exciting, since I love all things historical! My imagination took flight – though it took a bit longer for me to put pencil to paper.

Why 2002? A bit of explanation should clarify. My house was built in the 1820s on what had been open ground owned by the Earl of Kintore. The house was inhabited by a succession of village doctors, and remained the only building at my end of the village for decades. Lots of things could lie buried under my garden soil. (Maybe fodder for another novel here.)

In 1875, a granite school building was constructed opposite my house, again on what had been the Earl of Kintore’s land. The philanthropic Earl of the time sold the land for the school but gifted an adjacent plot, Deer’s Den, for public use- a recreation area for the villagers. The site of a Roman marching camp had been noted at Deer’s Den nearly a century before, and evidence of earlier civilisations had also been uncovered. That knowledge didn’t stop the creation of a couple of turf pitches somewhere around 1890.

Aerial surveys in the 1970s corroborated a Roman marching camp had been on the site, but it remained a recreational facility till 2002 when the council decided to build a brand new school. Construction work was unable to commence till a thorough archaeological dig was done.

The results were incredible. The Romans had occupied the site more than once. Probably during the Agricolan surges around AD 83, but it was also likely to have been used during the Severan campaign of AD 210.  More than 250 Roman bread ovens had been uncovered, meaning many more soldiers had been encamped than originally estimated. The outside boundaries indicated the area had housed maybe even ten thousand soldiers. Ten thousand was an unbelievable number. Right across from my garden!

I taught across at the school. We viewed the excavations. The curriculum was altered to suit the current situation, and enthusiasm over the dig was high. My class learned about the Celtic people who had lived on the land, and about the marauding Roman Army who most likely scared them off. My class wrote fabulous stories. Their work inspired me to write more than my tiny introduction to the creative writing lessons.

I envisaged Roman scouts surveying the land in advance of the main cohort. Imagined them deciding their first spade would be dug just a little way away from my garden soil, perhaps because the burn near my house was just too close. A source of fresh water was always sought before a camp was made but maybe the water always needed to be a short distance from the perimeter of the camp? I could, and still can, imagine all sorts of scenarios.

I wrote the first draft of a time-travel adventure novel for 9-12year old kids, set in my home village in Aberdeenshire, where a trio of kids go back to a Celtic/ Roman occupation of the same geographical area. That has eventually become my novel for kids, called Dabbling With Time.

I enjoyed writing about the Celtic era so much I used the basic Celt/ Roman conflict to create an historical adventure, which eventually became The Beltane Choice. I set my adult story in the border areas between Scotland and England, and used an earlier time of AD 71. I enjoyed writing that so much, too, that the sequel to The Beltane Choice has already been started.  Though that story is already moving geographically north, it hasn’t got to Aberdeenshire…yet.

Kimm, I wonder where your readers think I should mainly base the sequel to The Beltane Choice? Should I stop at what we now term the central belt of Scotland, or should I take the action further north…to Angus, or even Aberdeenshire? Drop me a comment in the box to let me know, I’d love to read your ideas.

Thank you for hosting me today!

Blurb:  Can the Celtic Tribes repel the Roman army?

Banished from the nemeton, becoming a priestess is no longer the future for Nara, a princess of the Selgovae tribe. Now charged with choosing a suitable mate before Beltane, her plan is thwarted by Lorcan, an enemy Brigante prince, who captures her and takes her to his hill fort. Despite their tribes fighting each other, Nara feels drawn to her captor, but time runs out for her secret quest.

As armies of the Roman Empire march relentlessly northwards, Lorcan intends to use Nara as a marriage bargain, knowing all Celtic tribes must unite to be strong enough to repel imminent Roman attack. Nara’s father, Callan, agrees to a marriage alliance between Selgovae and Brigante, but has impossible stipulations. Lorcan is torn between loyalty to his tribe and growing love for Nara.

When danger and death arrive in the form of the mighty Roman forces, will Nara be able to choose her Beltane lover?

Buy links for The Beltane Choice:

Book Trailer for the Beltane Choice:

Tags: historical, romantic, Celtic, adventure

Other books by Nancy Jardine:

Monogamy Twist  amazon Monogamy Twist Book Trailer:

Take Me Now (TWRP) Book Trailer:

Author bio:

A former Primary teacher, Nancy Jardine lives in the picturesque castle country of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband who feeds her well or she’d starve! Ancestry research is one of her hobbies, as is participating in exciting events with her family which drag her away from the keyboard. In her large garden she now grows spectacular weeds, which she’s becoming very fond of! She cherishes the couple of days a week when she child-minds her gorgeous granddaughter.

Author Links:    Twitter @nansjar


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