If you have already pre-ordered the book, thank you! If not, order it now - it would be great to see it get into the Amazon charts! :-)
Once a novel is "out there", reviews are what help readers to decide to buy books so, after you have read it, please take a moment to leave a review on Amazon. It doesn't need to be much, just a few words is enough, though longer reviews are much appreciated! You don't actually need to have bought the book from Amazon (the paperback is available to order from all good bookshops), but if you have, your review will be marked as a "verified purchase".
Goodreads is also great for reviews! Most reviewers paste the same review into Amazon and Goodreads.
Over the last year I've interviewed many authors on this blog, and I've done my fair share of blog interviews on other sites. There are many bloggers and reviewers that really help writers, particularly independent ones, publicise their work. One of the best I've found is Layered Pages, which posts great articles, reviews and interviews. Another site that helps independent writers and readers by discovering new and talented self-published authors is indieBRAG. indieBRAG has a team of book lovers, one of whom is Stephanie Moore Hopkins, who also happens to run the the fabulous site, Layered Pages. Stephanie is a real advocate of good books and has helped to promote countless authors, including me. So, in a twist from the usual interviews I host, I thought it would be interesting to turn the tables and have the interviewer become the interviewee. So, without further ado, let me welcome Stephanie to my blog.
So how did you get into book reviewing? Can you give us a description of how you ended up with a successful review blog, Layered Pages, and involvement in indieBRAG?
Back in 2011 a friend of mine and I started a book club in Goodreads called, Ladies & Literature and soon after I started to write reviews of the books I was reading-just for kicks. A few weeks after that I had an author contact me and asked if I would review her book. Things took off from there and then I decided to start a book review blog. Along the way I met Helen Hollick an Andrea Connell-who became my mentors-if you will. They helped me a great deal.
Then I became a significant presence on social media and soon after the Geri Clouston - President of indieBRAG - took noticed and contacted me.
Tell us about indieBRAG. Was it your brain-child?
IndieBRAG is a privately held organization that has brought together of readers from around the world to choose self-publishing books they feel is worthy of readers' time and money.
It is the mission of B.R.A.G. to discover new and talented self-publishing authors the attention and recognition it deserves.
The creator and owner of indieBRAG is Geri Clouston. She approached me with her idea and asked if I would be interested in joining her team. From then on, indieBRAG has really grown and we have expanded the services we offer.
In response to many authors and readers alike, B.R.A.G. is upgrading their operating system. More information is coming soon.
We are also conducting Blog Hops, special on-line events, author blitz and much more. Each event has a tailored format and offers a variety of post ideas.
To clear up any misconceptions people might have, we are not a paid review service.
I’d like to add that it is a great privilege working alongside Geri. I have learned so much from her and we have a wonderful working relationship. She has also become a dear friend of mine and a mentor. She has also given me creative licence on many B.R.AG. projects and that has been a tremendous honour. I love her enthusiastic attitude and hard work in the industry. She goes beyond and above for indie authors-more than many realize.
What do you do when you are not reading and reviewing books?
I work as a part-time preschool teacher and indieBRAG is a big part of my life. Those two occupations and Layered Pages is my main work focus.
For hobbies I am into health & fitness, hiking, crafting and mixed media art.
What is your favourite thing about reviewing books?
Sometimes I feel reviewing books is a daunting task. It is not always easy. For many reasons I won’t go into today. But having said that, I like to look back at my reviews to refresh my thoughts on the book and reviewing is a way to share/express my love of reading.
Do you also write? If so, have you published anything, or are you currently working on a project?
I do write and I am working on several stories. Everyone around me encourages me to publish but I really don’t know if I will. Maybe one day. But publishing is something I'm not sure I want to do right now. It's not high on my priority list at the moment.
My main writing projects are alternate history and time slips. I do also have several plot-lines written down for strictly modern day stories.
What writer or book has had the biggest influence on you?
This is a hard question because several authors have influenced me a great deal over the years. So I think I will stick with what book has had the biggest influence over my writing. That would be, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz. The story is so beautifully written it speaks for itself.
What is the best book you've read in the last twelve months?
To name a few: The Secret Life of Winnie Cox by Sharon Maas, The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great by Stephanie Thornton, The Debt of Tamar by Nicole Dweck, I Captured the Castle by Dodie Smith and The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown.
What is the best experience you’ve had as a result of reviewing or writing?
Meeting so many writers and fellow readers and discussing stories and the art of writing with them in great length. Discovering so many wonderful books I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Have you had any bad experiences working with writers or the literary community?
I’ve had a few bumpy roads. Not everyone is going to appreciate your work or your opinions.
I understand you have an announcement to make about a project you are going to enter into with the Historical Novel Society. Please tell us more!
Battles and intrigue, and the build up to the Battle of Crécy. An action-packed tale of soldiers on campaign in France.
I bought this after I won a copy of the sequel, Blood on the Sand. I always like to read a series in order.
This is the first novel I have read by Michael Jecks. He is well known for his medieval whodunits, but Fields of Glory is a more straightforward tale of the English campaign and the build up to the Battle of Crécy.
There is some intrigue in the earlier parts of the story, with questions being asked of the mysterious background of one young character, Ed. There are also suspicions of witchcraft when things begin to go wrong for the soldiers after they are joined by a puzzling young French woman.
It is the characters and their stories, their interactions and motives and the day-to-day running of the camp where Jecks' writing shines best. The first third of the novel is rich in the detail of new characters being introduced, leaving the reader expectant to discover what exactly is going on and what will happen next. There is a lot of action in this early part of the book, but not on a grand scale, more on a personal level - the girl being attacked on the road, young Ed getting into a scrape with some Welsh archers. This is the best part of the book, with great pacing and strong characterisation.
[Spoiler in the next paragraph, if you know nothing about the Battle of Crécy!]
As the inevitable battle approaches, I found the tension lessened. We know from the history books that Crécy is coming and we know the English will win the day (pretty sure that can't be classed as a spoiler, but you never know!), so when the individual characters' stories are less prominent in the plot, becoming secondary to the fate of the King's host, I became less interested in the outcome of the story.
[End of spoilers, if they really are spoilers!]
Despite the slight lessening of jeopardy and tension towards the end, it was a very enjoyable read and I also learnt something about the politics and circumstances surrounding The Battle of Crécy that I hadn't known beforehand. The characters were well-crafted and interesting and I want to know what will happen to all of them in the next book. The most important question, having finished the book is: do I want to read the sequel Blood on the Sand? Undoubtedly!
It's Jack Reacher. Enough said. There are some moments where you have to suspend your disbelief a little bit more than I was totally comfortable with, but Lee Child is now a master at writing page-turning fiction. I couldn't get enough of it while I was reading it.
Great, escapist, action thriller.
Will Reacher ever get too old for this stuff? Maybe, but at the moment, he still kicks ass!
This time last year I had yet to publish my debut novel, The Serpent Sword. In the end I released it in April and since then, I have been living the hectic life of an independently-published author. This means that I need to promote the book as well as write the next one(s), all while keeping the day job going and the family reasonably happy. It is not easy to balance everything, but it is rewarding.
Since the release of The Serpent Sword, it has sold thousands of copies and garnered over a hundred reviews on Amazon.co.uk and edging towards a hundred on Amazon.com. And with over a hundred ratings on Goodreads, it has been a great nine months. For this, I owe a huge thanks to all the readers who have taken the time to leave a review. It is great to get an email or a message telling me you've enjoyed my book, but it is even better for others to be able to see the comments too. It takes only minutes, but makes a huge difference to the success of books. Readers trust readers.
Whilst doing all the interviews and promotions, I've also managed to prepare the second book, The Cross and the Curse, for release on 22nd January. I worked on the cover myself (as I did for The Serpent Sword) and got help from a friend, Stephen Weatherly, who took the great cover photo, and Matt Bunker, a living history expert in the period from the group Wulfheodenas, who graciously agreed to pose for the image (it is his gear on the cover the The Serpent Sword too).
As well as all of that, I even found time to write the first draft of book three of the Bernicia Chronicles, By Blood and Blade. I hope to have that book ready for release this summer and I will be working on another book soon.
I am sure 2016 will prove to be just as busy, exciting and rewarding as 2015. As well as the plan of releasing two new novels, there are other things in the works that I will announce in time. I hope you will stick with me for the ride.
Once again, thanks for helping make 2015 such a good year for me and the Bernicia Chronicles and here's to an even better 2016!