I’d like to thank Nicole over at InkWell Spills for hosting me in an Author Spotlight this week. We covered how I ended up writing The Jack Hansard Series, my turning point in becoming a ‘professional’ author, and a few tips on how to see the value in your work and to make that crucial step towards a professional writing career. You’ll also find a wealth of free writing resources on her website.
Anybody else itching for a good old-fashioned craft market? I am!
If, like me, you delight in discovering new art, love to support independent businesses, and frankly just enjoy the simple fun of browsing unique and hand-made wares, then The Unfamiliar Bazaar is exactly the restorative tonic we’ve been waiting for.
Hosted by Amber Ankh Events, The Unfamiliar Bazaar in an online market taking place over 27th – 28th February. That’s right, doors open tomorrow! This year’s virtual venue is Facebook – you can join the event here or click the button below!
For those who may not have access to Facebook (or would like a sneaky-peak beforehand) I’m throwing a spotlight on a few of the Bazaar’s brilliant alternative traders so you can still be part of the fun. We can expect to see a variety of pagan wares, modern witchcraft necessities, spiritual art, amazing handcrafted gifts… a real plethora of peculiar products!
Here’s just a snapshot of what you’ll see at the Bazaar this weekend.
Colourful leatherwork and intricate designs from this specialist artisan shop. They take commissions for bespoke pieces as well.
“All our products are entirely stitched painstakingly and carefully by hand. Each tiny stitch is carefully crafted to bring you the very best and durable product made to last a lifetime.
For each of our bags over 300 individual holes have been punched and 300 stitches have been made. Each bag is dyed and sealed with a waterproof finish and lined with organic cotton in a beautiful blue and grey tartan fabric.
They are each a pleasure to make and a real labour of love.”Hayley from Phoenix Leather
See more handcrafted leather goods at https://www.facebook.com/PhoenixLeatherUK/
An intuitive artist selling a range of art prints and artistic gifts. Also offers Spiritual Guided Art Sessions delivered online or in-person.
“My art is full of love, imagination and pure healing energies and I share it with you from my soul . I have been creating one way or another since I was young, using all sorts of media. I have been lucky to be able to connect with the universal realms, creating from the Faye World, Angelic Kingdom, Animal Spirits, Ancestors, Nature Energies and so much more.”Nicky from Dizzy Designs
See more of Nicky’s intuitive art at http://www.dizzinessdesigns.com/
Bardware of Frog Lane
A really friendly family atmosphere at this shop selling ‘pagan,witchy and Native American Indian themed goodies’!
“Hello and welcome to our little family-run stall, Bardware of Frog Lane. Consisting of myself, Carly; my dad (Grandad); and my daughter, Jazzy. We have an eclectic mix of everything from handmade wands and drum beaters made by my dad, to aura sprays and little bits made by myself and Jazzy. All created with love and good intentions.”Carly from Bardware of Frog Lane
For the full range of weird and wonderful items, check out their shop here: https://www.bardwareoffroglane.com/
Jacqui de Rose Art
Beautiful designs by a folk-pagan artist. Buy them as originals, prints, cards, and painted on wooden totems!
“I am a Pagan / Nature Based artist from rural Derbyshire. I am inspired by the landscape, mythology and old stories from our beautiful islands. I specialise in Pagan Portraits but also love to paint trees and animal totems.”Jacqui from Jacqui de Rose Art
See more original art, Limited Edition prints, handmade cards, and small decorative wooden items at http://www.jacquiderose.co.uk
Wild Hart Jewellery
Jewellery by witches, for witches. Think crystals, rune stones, and lots of nature imagery.
“Hello, my name is Hayley and I am a Norse/Celtic Witch. I make handmade jewellery and pagan crafts inspired by mother nature and the elements.”Hayley from Wild Hart Jewellery
See more pagan and nature-inspired accessories at https://www.facebook.com/Wildhartjewelleryandcrafts/
In Conversation with Adrienne Green
In addition to amazing artists and cunning craftspeople, The Unfamiliar Bazaar is hosting extra events throughout the weekend! They include a discussion panel on Paganism in Lockdown, an evening guided meditation, and a number of intriguing interviews with interesting individuals – such as the lovely Adrienne Green, The Illuminator, who will be shedding light (pun intended) on her work with the Balance Procedure.
“I am Adrienne Green The Illuminator, Lighting up your true potential. My passion is to bring out the best in people using various skills sets. In particular The Balance Procedure: a groundbreaking new tool using our heart energy and aligning our emotions to our passions. Teaching people how to align to their passions and create the life they dream of.”Adrienne Green
Adrienne is a complementary therapist offering Soul Centred Crystal Healing, Esoteric Healing, Ear Candling, Reflexology, Reiki – and is an advanced practitioner & Trainer in The Balance Procedure.
You can find out more about her at https://www.facebook.com/adriennetheilluminator
And also… ME!
I come bearing freebies and folklore galore.
I’m giving away Episodes 1-3 of The Jack Hansard Series FREE to every attendee of The Unfamiliar Bazaar. Watch out for my posts over the weekend – I’ll be dropping short blasts of folklore knowledge in the group, and each one will contain a link to the free download.
I’ll also have signed copies of the paperback for sale, and some very nice art print postcards to accompany them. Woohoo! This is a mini-milestone for me. Practically my first book fair, right? 😉
Remember, The Unfamiliar Bazaar takes place on 27th – 28th February.
Join the group now to make sure you don’t miss it!
I’m looking forward to having a very peculiar time.
See you there, folks~
Last year (2019, that is) I started tracking my short story submission stats – and now it’s time to compare how I did in 2020. So without any faff, here are my numbers!
Story submissions to magazines, anthologies, and competitions.
Number of Submissions: 14
Submissions Declined: 12
Submissions Accepted: 0
Still under review: 2
Dang. I was hoping to beat my previous score, but unfortunately I made 3 fewer submissions in 2020 than in 2019. But, global pandemic aside, at least I have some good reasons for not being on top of my short story game – and some reasons to celebrate, as well! The biggest one being:
2020 is the year I finally published my book debut, The Jack Hansard Series: Season One. HURRAY!
I also had a short story published in an anthology, set myself up to take on some freelance gigs, and am currently knee-deep in writing my next book. Back in March I released a free lockdown-themed Jack Hansard story (you can read it here); in the summer I launched my email newsletter; and in November I had a lot of fun writing up a Virtual Bookshop Tour to support independent bookshops.
So on a purely personal level, it’s been a good year. My family has remained happy and healthy, and we know how lucky we’ve been throughout everything that’s happened over the last twelve months.
I’m going to try to give my blog a bit more attention in 2021. I’m not a natural blogger, so I tend to only post when I have newsworthy updates or some advice which I think others may find useful. I really enjoyed doing the Virtual Bookshop Tour, so I might aim for more pieces like that in the future.
If you want to receive more regular updates from me, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. I email once a fortnite with a short update about what I’m working on – sometimes with links to free books and recommendations from other indie authors. (Subscribers also receive a copy of Deus Ex Machina, another fun little story set in Hansard’s occult world.)
My goals for 2021? Keep submitting stories; publish Book 2; enjoy more time with my family.
I hope the new year has found you well, and that it brings us all a little more joy than the previous one. Remember to take care of yourself, and the people around you.
Happy New Year, folks.
Yesterday the publishing world was awash with news of the UK launch of uk.bookshop.org, a new book-selling platform geared towards helping independent bookshops in the online marketplace. It first launched in the US back in January and has since then partnered with over 900 indie bookshops and raised over $7.5m in funds to support them.
“Bookshop.org is an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops.”In their own words.
This new platform – simply named Bookshop – provides an online space for physical bookshops, authors, and influencers to band together in order to funnel money towards independent booksellers. Money is earned in two ways: by commission, selling through virtual shopfronts or with affiliate links; and through payments from a central pool of profits which are shared out equally to bookstores. A bookstore can earn the full 30% from sales through their shopfront plus a share of that central pool, while Affiliates can earn a 10% commission on each sale they prompt.
Like many indie authors (not all, I hasten to add) I am a reluctant Amazon-user. I distribute my book through Amazon out of necessity – I would lose too many potential readers if I ignored it. (EVERYBODY uses Amazon, and the Kindle is one of the biggest ereaders out there.) So the arrival of a new indie book platform with the express intent of rivaling Amazon feels like a brilliant step forwards.
It sounds like a win-win-win.
However, there are a few less positive opinions of Bookshop.org bouncing around as well. One view is that the platform doesn’t actually help physical bookstores as much as it claims to. It’s still often slightly more profitable for a bookshop if you buy in-store or from their official website, rather than to buy through their Bookshop.org page. It’s also been suggested that all of the Affiliate pages might drown out the shopfronts of actual indie bookstores. While Bookshop.org is intentionally encouraging the bookloving community to jump in and create lists of books and drive traffic towards them, some indie booksellers feel this might be pulling traffic away from their own storefronts.
The upside of this, to my mind, is that every Affiliate sale also contributes to that central pool of funds which is shared among the indie bookstores. So Affiliates like authors and book reviewers – who often use Affiliate links to other book-selling sites anyway – can still earn a profit from their links while ALSO helping out indie bookshops.
Another advantage is that Bookshop.org takes care of fulfilment – they handle the physical work of packaging and shipping the books to customers. As the next lockdown looms large in the UK, this ability for bookshops to go completely (and hopefully only temporarily) virtual is a literal lifesaver to some businesses.
“It has been an utter lifeline. Sales flooded in as soon as we announced our temporary closure.”Bookshop.org helped this business survive through the initial onslaught of Covid-19
So far, it looks like the majority of opinion from the indie community is overwhelmingly positive. Frankly anything that encourages readers away from Amazon – and nudges them back in the direction of local independents – is an idea to be celebrated.
Below, you can see what my Affiliate Author page currently looks like. (Yes, this is an Affiliate Link.) I’ll use it to list my own books and a couple of relevant collections for those who like to know what I read. Anything you buy from my page will earn me a 10% commission, and it will be matched by another 10% which goes towards supporting indie bookshops. But for a much broader and less eclectic mix of titles, you should definitely use the map tool to find your closest indie bookshop and browse through their page as well.
If you’re an indie bookseller, feel free to drop your bookshop.org link in the comments along with an intro to your store. I’ll share the hell out of it where I can. Look out for more posts about indie bookshops coming soon!
IT’S RELEASE DAY and the book launch party is now in full swing! There’s still time to join in with the event and enter the competition to win a free ebook. Check it out here!
Here’s the event schedule so you can see what’s in store:
10:00 Welcome to the Party!
11:00 Competition Opens. Submit your entry to win a copy of the ebook.
12:00 Join me for a chat and a peak inside the paperback.
13:00 Game time!
14:00 SNEAK-PEAK. Read an excerpt of the brand new ‘Episode 8: Informant’ from Season One.
15:00 Quiz time! Find out which Jack Hansard character you are…
16:00 Author Q&A Session – ask me anything! I’ll be at my computer for the full hour trying to keep up.
18:00 FIRST LOOK at Season 2! Be the first to read the opening to S2 Ep1
19:00 Competition Closes. Entries after this time won’t be included.
20:00 SECOND LOOK at Season 2! Another special snippet from what I’ve been working on
21:00 Competition winners will be announced.
22:00 Time to wind down. Thanks for coming to the Launch Party!
Yes, that is a full 12 hours! I wanted to make sure that our friends across the pond would have chance to join in as well. All timings are GMT+1.
Here are some of the major stores where you can order a copy of The Jack Hansard Series: Season One
Save The Date: 27th September 2020
Put it in your diaries folks, we’re less than two weeks out! The Jack Hansard Series: Season One will be available in ebook and paperback from online retailers – and in fact, the ebook is already available for preorder at a number of stores! Grab it from the links below:
UK price on release:
What is a book launch without a Launch Party? I’m celebrating with a full 12 hour virtual event on Sunday 27th September – and everyone is invited!
Find the Facebook Event page here.
There will be sneak peaks, author Q&A, games, and a competition to win free copies of the ebook and a special cameo spot in Season 2!
Sign up on the Facebook Event to attend. We’ll keep all activity on the event page so it’s easy to find throughout the day. Drop in for just a few minutes or stay to hang out for a couple hours – whatever works for you!
Don’t do Facebook?
In the meantime
Gosh, I’ve spent so long gearing up to this point I almost don’t know what to do with myself any more. Mostly I’m just working hard to get the word out, so I’m approaching other bloggers and reviewers at the moment for more exposure. (Incidentally, if you are one and are interested in receiving an Advance Reader Copy or a guest post, hit me up.)
Otherwise, I’d love if you could share my Facebook Launch Party event with your friends, or share this post to help spread the word!
And don’t forget, if you’re hankering for a Jack Hansard fix in the run-up to launch, there’s an exclusive story up for grabs when you join my newsletter (and another little freebie featuring Edric Mercer will be delivered as well).
If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to get in touch.
Twelve days to go and lots still to do. See you at the Launch Party!
Jack Hansard is the man who can sell you anything.
Luck in a bottle, fame in a box, dreams on a leash: anything is possible when you’re a trader on the occult Black Market.
Jack is used to a life of handling dangerous goods, dodging disgruntled customers, and sometimes running away very fast. But when Ang – two-and-a-half feet of furious Welsh coblyn – buys his help to find her missing kin, Jack suddenly finds the goods are riskier, the customers more treacherous, and escape is anything but guaranteed.
The Jack Hansard Series is an episodic contemporary fantasy with a wide streak of humour and just a dash of horror. Season One contains the first fifteen episodes in the series.
Would you trust this guy?
Lurking at the edge of a mundane fleamarket, a merchant of impossibilities stands next to a trunk full of bizarre and otherwordly goods.
Are Jack Hansard’s uncanny wares for real? Is the magic past its sell-by-date? And what exactly do you DO with a deus ex machina, anyhow?
Gosh, there’s been a lot going on lately. If you’re a regular visitor you may notice that I’ve got a shiny new website and I’ve just launched my newsletter. My latest job has been setting up the download for this exclusive Jack Hansard story, which is now available for free to new subscribers!
If you’re not already familiar with The Jack Hansard Series, you can find the free beta episodes here.
Deus Ex Machina is a standalone short story which features our favourite occult merchant, told from the viewpoint of one of his unwitting customers. I wrote the original version of this for a humour competition way back in 2012 (it came second, which was rather nice) and decided to revamp the whole thing into a longer, better story for you guys to enjoy.
Click the button above to go directly to the download page at StoryOrigin, or get it by signing up to my newsletter here. It’s available in ePUB, Mobi, and PDF formats for all your reading devices. Hope it makes you smile!
Once you’re a subscriber you’ll also receive updates from me along with other exclusive sneak-peeks – including another story snippet called Pandora’s Box which features Jack’s least favourite business rival: the treasure-hunting, god-wrestling, myth-defying and all-round flash bastard Edric Mercer. It’ll arrive a day or two after signing up. Keep an eye on your inbox to make sure you don’t miss it! 😉
Thanks to @EJIkinArt for the awesome cover illustration.
Argh, how is it July already?! It was only March a moment ago.
Suddenly it feels like there’s not enough time to finish everything I have planned for this year. Among the many goals I’m working towards in 2020, one of them is to beat my rather modest (that is, puny) number of short story submissions from last year. Whether it’s to magazines, anthologies, or competitions, they all count towards the total.
So, as we’re already halfway through the year, I’m checking in with my current stats:
Number of Submissions: 9
Submissions Declined: 6
Submissions Accepted: 0
(No response yet received: 3)
Yeah, I know it’s not mind-blowing. Other writers out there be submitting in the hundreds. But these numbers do tell me I’m on track for my personal goal. If I do the same again over the next six months, I’ll definitely beat my 2019 record. And next year will be even better. I also want to add for this year:
Submissions Published: 1
Publishing’s a long process, y’all. My short story for The San Cicaro Experience was accepted in December last year. It underwent a long (and thoroughly interesting) editing process, and was finally published a couple of weeks ago in June. (Hurray!)
If you’re in the same boat as me I urge you not to give up, and definitely don’t feel downhearted if your subbing numbers look low. If you manage to sub even one more story than last year, it’s still a success. And frankly, the fact you’re doing it at all is what actually counts. There will be a ton of rejection involved – but that’s what makes us professionals, right? 😉
As well as subbing stories, I’m also in the middle of getting The Jack Hansard Series ready for print and ebook release this Autumn. Exciting times, but it’s a lot to learn and a lot to do, and it’s all starting to get a bit scary-serious.
If you want to keep up with my progress you can hit the Follow button for my blog (you should find it by scrolling past the bottom of this post). You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I use Facebook more for announcements and writing news, and on Twitter I retweet a lot of folklore and mythology-related content.
Don’t be a stranger. =)
A short post to mark a major personal milestone today.
Today is the launch of The San Cicaro Experience, an anthology of weird and fantastical short stories that take place in the city of San Cicaro, the jewel of the Californian coast. This is the second in the series, following on from the Welcome to San Cicaro anthology published by Thunderbird Studios last year.
It’s also my first ‘official’ traditional publishing credit, as my short story The Hub features alongside seven other strange – and sometimes disturbing – tales written by a team of brilliant authors.
I don’t mean to devalue my self-publishing efforts, but it certainly is nice to get the warm and fuzzies that come with a third party selecting and publishing (and uh, ultimately, paying for) your work.
So, if you enjoy exploring the uncanny – and aren’t afraid of the dark – then consider visiting San Cicaro today.
Click the image to read the free preview!
I feel it would be remiss of me not to write a post about this historic time of global pandemic and national lockdown. It seems like everyone on my social feeds is doing their own live blogs, isolation diaries, and generally reaching out amid the Covid-19 crisis. The snapshots of life across the nation are diverse, yet suddenly intimately familiar as we all, in some manner, undergo the same experience.
The UK’s full-blown lockdown measures were announced on Monday night, just two days ago. For the first time in years I tuned in to watch a live broadcast, with my husband next to me, and my sisters on Messenger, as Boris Johnson effectively told the nation to Stay The Fuck At Home.
There’s not yet a curfew as far as I’m aware, but police can now fine gatherings of more than 2 people (unless you are all from the same household) and a very restrictive list of acceptable reasons for leaving the house has been issued. We’re in this for at least three weeks, with scope for tighter measures and a longer lockdown period ahead.
Despite this, on a personal level, not much feels like it has changed. My daughter is now nine months old, and I’ve been enjoying my maternity leave as a stay-at-home mum for as long as I can. I do now miss my weekly lunch outing to catch up with my sisters, and I WAS just starting to think about visiting my local parent/baby group before all this kicked off… but otherwise, my social life was already a little sparse.
Admittedly, the sudden burst of spring sunshine does have me itching to go out somewhere, and I’m sure others are cursing both the beautiful weather and the lockdown as holidays, celebrations, and all social gatherings are cancelled outright. But we need to remember that this is a time when the actions of individuals really does make a huge difference, and we all have a part to play in protecting our country. (This is probably the most nationalist spirit I have ever felt.)
I saw a meme posted by a friend pointing out that in most Plague Outbreak movies society quickly disintegrates under selfishness, looting, and general chaos. But in the outbreak movie we’re currently living in, though some people are being selfish (hoarders and day-trippers, we’re looking at you), for the most part what people are doing is… consuming art. Creating art. Sharing art.
There’s been an outpouring of musicians, writers, and artists all releasing their content for free; there’s a sudden wealth of free education resources for both children and adults; and communities are banding together (but, you know, at a safe distance) to support their most vulnerable. I see strangers offering up their spare food and nappies, offering their time to deliver shopping to neighbours, offering their talents to keep people entertained.
On that same note, here’s a reminder that Season One of The Jack Hansard Series is completely free to read right here on my website (or over on Wattpad, if you prefer reading on their app). If you like humour and contemporary fantasy it might be the next binge-read you’ve been looking for.
If you’re also a creator offering free content or helpful resources in these trying times, PLEASE do post links below. Spread the love (and not the virus).
With all this sharing and innovation, the internet has never been a more positive platform for social interaction. There are options for staying in touch that I had no idea existed. This week I’m trying out Roll20 to ‘meet up’ with a group of friends to play our regular D&D game on a virtual tabletop. Over the weekend a friend hosted a movie night using Netflix Party. In a couple of weeks it’s my birthday, and I’m wondering whether and how to hold a Skype party.
Another strangely beneficial consequence of lockdown measures is Husband working from home. It’s nice having him in the next room for a conversation throughout the day; for him to enjoy more time with our daughter (he’s done more than one conference call with her on his lap); ultimately, for us all to have more time as a family.
I also know that we’re very lucky. By pure chance we’d done a big shop just before the panic-buying really kicked in, so we’ve not had to worry about scrambling for essentials just yet. We’re not in financial difficulty, though I suppose it wouldn’t take much to push us – or anyone – into dire straits if our jobs suddenly fell through. Just before lockdown I was in the process of arranging with my employer how I was going to return to work; I’m no longer entirely certain that there will be a job for me to come back to.
But that’s a concern for another day. Right here and now there’s a minimum of three weeks of lockdown to get through, and we will get through it together, in spite of being metres and miles apart.
Now, more importantly: How are you?
Let us all know how you’re doing in the comments. What’s life like under lockdown for you? And remember, if you have any art, music, writing, advice, etc. to share, feel free to put those links below as well.
Keep in touch, and stay safe.