My Favourite Book of 2016

At the time of writing this post, Goodreads informs me I’ve read 87 books (so far) this year. I’ve decided that the final post of 2016 should celebrate the book which I’ve enjoyed the most. I’ve read lots of excellent novels this year, but there has been one which really stands out, by an outstanding author… Continue reading

This Week in the Blogs (5th-11th December 2016)

Today I’d like to highlight some of the useful, and informative blog posts I’ve read over the past week.

sabotaging-writing-dreamsThe Writer’s Enemy List: Are These People Sabotaging Your Writing Dreams?
Mystery author and top blogger, Anne R Allen discusses the different types of people who can have a negative impact not only on your writing progress, but also your mental and physical well-being. In the post she says:

‘It’s hard enough to live with the constant rejection we have to deal with in this industry.  So when you’re attacked in your personal life, it can feel like a double-whammy.

You need to erect strong boundaries and be fierce in defending them. But if you’re serious about your work, the people who really care about you will learn to treat your time and work with respect.’
Reading this article will help you identify the kind of people in your life your writing could probably do without!

 

 

12-9-16-how-writers-can-improve-their-seo-without-pricey-expertsHow Writers Can Improve their SEO without Pricey Experts.
Frances Caballo discusses all the changes Google et al make to their algorithms and how it can affect all types of blogs and websites, including those run by authors. She suggests a WordPress plug-in called Yoast SEO Primer which can help you check your blog posts readability and SEO. It’s free to download and at first glance looks as if it could be useful – and easy to use. As Frances says ‘I don’t think there’s been a better time for authors to improve their SEO ranking. You, perhaps more than any other blogger on the internet, already know what constitutes good writing and what’s readable and what’s not. You’re in a prime position to do what you know best: write for your readers.’  Continue reading

Interview with Tracy Fenton, Founder of THE Book Club – Part Two.

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Today I’d like to welcome Tracy Fenton back to the blog. Due to overwhelming popularity, I thought it only right to invite Tracy back for a second interview. If you haven’t already read the first interview, then you might like to read it here. Thank you, Tracy, for taking the time to answer my questions. Let’s begin.

 

Since your first interview here THE Book Club has grown to now having over 6000 members. How do you keep everyone in line?
I’d love to say with a taser gun and through threats of violence, but the truth is that the group pretty much regulates itself now, as we have such a strong group of dedicated members who are very quick to report “inappropriate” posts or even in the past calm down controversial posts just by being the kind and supportive people they are. We also have a very strong admin team who are online 24/7 watching and lurking and ready to delete when necessary. Shout out to Helen Boyce, Helen Claire, Sharon Bairden, Loo Elton, Teresa Nikolic, Carol Ellis and Sumaira Wilson and obviously Charlie Fenton.

tracy-with-tess-gertsonThere was a lot of excitement about (and photos of) the recent Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate. What was your personal highlight of the event?
I had a fantastic time in Harrogate this year and quite a few stand out moments. I was invited to a private lunch with Linwood Barclay which was pretty cool. Listening to Tess Gerritsen (with Tracy, left) speak for an hour on her panel was jaw-droppingly awesome and so inspirational and then getting a signed book and photo with her. Meeting up with several TBC members who I hadn’t actually met in real life before and being able to give them a hug. Sitting next to Linwood Barclay at a private lunch. Meeting up with 4 of the TBC admin team for the first time despite chatting with them 10 times a day for the past year. tracy-with-linwood-barclayTaking a selfie with Linwood Barclay at a private lunch (as seen on the left.) Being invited to a special panel to discuss Mark Edward’s new book The Devil’s Work and finally did I mention I met Linwood Barclay?

 

 

 

How important is knowing authors on social media to your book buying choices? Are you more likely to choose a book by an author you know, rather than one you don’t?
Honestly? Not important at all. I read what I want to read when I want to read it. At the moment I have decided to only read TBC author members during the month of September and only read authors I haven’t read before #cherrypop which I am thoroughly enjoying as I am reading genres I probably would never read before… and some I will never read again. Knowing authors on social media can sometimes be a double-edged sword because I might LOVE them on Twitter and Facebook but I know that I wouldn’t read their book because it just isn’t my type of book, but because there is a social link there is a slight element of pressure to read their book.  Continue reading

Interview with Booklover Catlady, Maxine Groves.

Maxine Photo 1Today I’m delighted to welcome Amazon and Goodreads top book reviewer, Maxine Groves, to the blog. Possibly better known by her reviewing name, Booklover Catlady, Maxine devours vast quantities of books whilst also offering publicity and reviewing services to authors. She’s also taking the first steps towards writing her first book. Without further ado, lets begin the interview.

 

 

After working for so long in recruitment and advertising, what made you decide to focus on books?
After a successful career in advertising, copywriting then recruitment, and human resources at senior management level, I injured my lower back very badly in the workplace. Despite extensive treatments and physiotherapy unfortunately my condition cannot be rectified nor is surgery an option. I tried working part time for a year with my back injury as a Job Coach to young adults with disabilities, which I loved, however it got too much for me as other serious health conditions impacted me and I had to resign from the job. I was facing never working again.

During an extended period of bedrest after the first of five surgeries I have had in the last 2.5 years, I started reading avidly to help get me through. This led to reviewing after discovering Goodreads and then on to Amazon reviews. To my surprise, I quickly started to rank highly as a Top Reviewer and Most Popular Reviewer on Goodreads, then Amazon and authors and publishers were contacting me with books to read and review. This was like a dream come true for a bookworm like myself.

A successful horror author contacted me (after another horror author recommended that I review his book) stating that he felt I would be really good at book publicity and could I do some for him? I took this on and it was really successful, at this point I realised that all the work experience and business knowledge I had plus my copywriting and advertising skills meant I could do this for other authors also. I saw a gap in the market for a quality book review service which is what I kicked off with. I am passionate about helping authors achieve their goals.

 

What has been your biggest:
(a) life achievement
(b) book/reviewing achievement?
Oh wow! That is a hard one. I think my greatest life achievement has been consistently rising from the ashes after a lot of very difficult situations in my life and somehow turning difficult times into opportunity. Having physical disabilities, then being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 42 plus chronic pain, was not going to stop me from doing something meaningful with my life. I think of myself as a tenacious survivor.

I am also super proud of my 16 year old son who has Aspergers and ADHD and how far he has come and the self-belief he has instilled in himself. He also believes nothing is a barrier to doing what you love. I run groups on Facebook for adult women with Aspergers and want to leave a legacy of making a difference in the lives of these women as well as all the other Autistic people out there who think they have nothing to offer. They do!

My greatest book related achievement has to be making it into the Top Ten Top Reviewers and Most Popular Reviewers in the UK on a regular basis as well as having some of my reviews featured in the Top 50 most popular reviews on Goodreads. Recently I hit number 94 in the Top 100 globally on Goodreads which just blew me away! I am also extremely proud of being a Top Ranked Reviewer on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk especially as my first book reviews usually read something like “I really loved this book! Highly recommended!”  Continue reading

Book Review of Bloodwalker by L. X. Cain

 

bloodwalkerBook Description:
Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…

When Zorka Circus performs, its big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, there are fewer children in the European towns it leaves behind.

Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the international performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. Nevertheless, he’s determined to find the culprit and stop them before anyone else dies and the only place he can call home is ripped apart by the murders.

Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravediggers and ghoulish bloodwalkers. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict rules, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.

When more bodies turn up, the killer’s trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable.

 

Book Extract:
On nearby streets, people left their offices and entered parked cars or waited at the bus stop. If any glance up at the peculiar form crouched on the church parapet, they’d betray no curiosity. That would be impolite – a violation of the keep-to-yourself code that held the country of radically diverse ancestries and cultures together. He’d be written off as trick of the light of maybe an extra gargoyle. The stone monsters sat atop the old facades in Budapest any way. Being mistaken for a monster was nothing new. Rurik was used to it.

The police presence and general alarm would be greater if they knew it was actually four children missing, not just one.

A little girl taken from a park in Northern Italy. A boy taken from a playground in Slovenia. A girl taken from an abandoned Slovenian train station a week later. And now a girl from Budapest. Continue reading