JGJ Blog

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TIBC Review Policy

Yesterday evening fellow author and book blogger, TJ Fox approached me about a list he is creating of book bloggers currently accepting books by indie authors.

In order to make it clear which books I will accept, I present my Review Policy:

Absolutely will accept: Middle-Grade books (9-12), Chapter books (7-9)

Probably will accept: Picture books

Might accept: Young Adult books (12+)

Currently not accepting: Adult books

Please send me a message either through my contact page or through any of my social media accounts with the details of your book. I will check it and decide whether I am interested in reviewing.

I will aim to turn around a read/review in about 7 days of ACCEPTING your book. If you haven’t heard from me after 7 days, then feel free to nudge me

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Introducing The Indie Book Collective – AKA Book Reviews

As a writer, it is important to read. Through reading, we can experience new styles, explore different genres, learn new things and generally revel in the world of books which we are a part of.

I am a true believer in supporting fellow writers and as my own books will be self-published, I want to support my fellow indie writers…

…hence The Indie Book Collective

I have reached out, in some of my social media groups, to indie writers and offered to read and review their work.

Any indie writer reading this, is welcome to contact me with details of their book.

Please note, I will ONLY accept books suitable for children. My preference is middle grade, as that is the age range of my own writing, but I will happily read chapter books and will consider picture books.

I will also look at Young Adult books, but my reviewing them will be based on the content/appropriateness for my website.

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Announcement: From the Cave Wall available for purchase now!

And so the journey has arrived at its conclusion. Or maybe it’s better said that this section of the journey has. The book is now available at Amazon!

It has been a long labour of love and devotion, and I have loved every minute (mostly!)

I hope you enjoy it. Please leave a review and remember, if you want more then please join my readers’ club: The Source Detectives (aimed at children…whatever age!)

Now comes the hard part!

A much delayed publication!

Two and a half months after completing From the Cave Wall: A Stone Age Story, I have finally completed and uploaded the accompanying non-fiction ebook.

A sneak peek!

This is available when lovely readers sign up to my readers’ club: The Source Detectives!

Receive access to free ebooks which detail research, author thoughts and other interesting tidbits about the books.

Enter competitions and giveaways

Find out about my writing and be the first to hear what comes next…

It feels strange to be completely finished with The Stone Age, but now I can properly move on to looking at The Iron Age.

Soon I can introduce you lovely blog readers to Arlo and we can begin to learn what it was like to live in an Iceni coastal fort…

Back to it…

Schools are back to work…

Husband is back to work…

So I am back to work…

It’s been a lovely few weeks of summer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine, time with family and friends and generally the opportunity to “switch off” temporarily. It has meant that certain ‘work’ has not been done, but I feel relaxed and rested!

And so we have reached September and must focus on what is to come in the next few months. My creative brain is whizzing with ideas and sparking with concepts – I walk around with a my hair on end…ok…not really but I like the image.

Later this week, I will be posting an update on the follow up to From the Cave Wall…

From a Father’s Hands: An Iron Age Story

…Watch this space…

Indie author woes…

That’s not what a £ coin looks like anymore…!
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

One of the hardest things as an indie author is getting people to believe in your book and you as a writer without a publishing house behind you. You know that your book is as valid and well written as many out there for sale in big named bookstores and just because your work hasn’t had the seal of approval from on-high, it is very often considered inferior. I recognise that a lot of this is changing and with a good marketing campaign and 1000s of whatever currency you use, you can sell many, many books. But those 1000s have to come from somewhere. After all, we in Britain know there is “no magic money tree”…ahem.

“You’ve got to spend money to make money” such a brilliant saying in today’s economy! Don’t get me wrong, if I had thousands of pounds free to use on FB ads, IG ads, Twitter ads, Amazon ads, Google ads, tattooing the name of my book to people’s foreheads with a QR code linking directly to my Amazon seller’s page, ads – you bet I would (actually…this one might be an idea)…but I don’t, I really, really don’t!

So what do you do? Putting yourself out there (another loathsome phrase!) is probably the best way to go. Trying to advertise without bankrupting yourself with no guarantee of making it back. I did a run of good old-fashioned print posters to display in places locally, which actually ended up being a lot cheaper to do than I thought. I’ve started out with 25 but will end up doing more if they garner interest.

I’m looking forward to going into schools too. After all that was the initial purpose of writing the book and beginning the series, to bring the Stone Age to life for children. This time next year, I’ll have two books to promote and will be working on my third which will be exciting!

Comment below:

What do fellow indie authors do for low-cost advertising and getting their books out there?

Any tips for promoting my book?

Any other publishing/writing woes that you want to get off your chest?

Author Interview – External link

The author ST Sanchez recently did an author interview with me, which can be found over on her blog.

It was a great opportunity to reflect on my writing and consider my approaches to the process of creating a book. Check it out if you’re interested in the book and my writing!

Just a short post today.

Further information on my WIP in the future…!

Book promo and Author Visit – Limited time offer!

Teachers!

Are you beginning the topic of the Stone Age?

Do you want a great book to accompany your teaching, which is

  • Well written
  • Entertaining
  • Based on research
  • Highly-rated

This is the middle-grade book for you and your class!


Live in Norfolk, United Kingdom?

Click here to book a visit from the author!

Currently offering first 5 schools who book, a 50% discount

Lazy days + annual leave = …v little!

Another quiet week from me. Sorry, I really must get into a regular blogging habit – it’s just hard when there’s so many other things to think about on this writing journey. I intend to do better…we will see how long this lasts. I quite like the idea of using Sundays as an update day, if I have failed to contribute anything during the week…what do you think?

It’s been my husband’s first week of summer annual leave, which I expect has contributed to my rather lazy approach to work! I did manage to almost complete Behind the Cave Wall – the companion ebook to my novel – and have only the final few bits and pieces to do on it, so if you’re a member of readers’ club, look out for it in your inbox next week (hopefully…). See there’s an element of hope in so much of my work atm – I blame the summer.

Speaking of the warm weather, the heatwave from last week thankfully cleared up and we had several quite miserable days (for which the garden rejoiced) followed by more clement and sunny ones. We are making the most of being able to go for walks and enjoying the glorious countryside in Norfolk.

I have so far done very little writing, but I do have my next MC’s name and I am making an about-turn and setting “From the Hammer’s Fall: An Iron Age Story”, at a known Iron Age hillfort in N Norfolk. It will be fun being able to visit and map out the story in situ.

Last night we sat outside until late. The chiminea was blazing away and I found myself staring into the depths of the fire, marvelling at how the discovery of how to control this force of nature, had such an impact on human growth and development right from the beginning. It’s interesting that through charting the societal story I will also be looking at how we have used and adapted technology – taking that fire and learning about its properties of energy to go from simple tool creation right the way through to industrialisation and modern scientific discoveries.

Yes this is the sort of thing that goes through my mind…!

This post has little actual substance but there we go!

How has your week been?

What WIPs are on your mind?

Am I the only one who has these philosophical/historical/societal reflections at odd moments? Maybe I should write them down more often!?

The dilemma of the indie book writer v reviewer…

I realise that I have been a little quiet for the last week or so and for that I apologise. It had been my intention to publish at least one blog post a week and I haven’t been entirely successful in this. For that, I apologise.

So why have I felt unable to post?

The answer lies in my blog addition of book reviews. I am thrilled with the positive response that TIBC has had. Lots of people have been keen for me to review their books and I have been happily reading some excellent ones. My dilemma rises from when the books are not excellent but could have been had they been subjected to rigorous editing and PROOFREADING!

Publishing a book takes time. It takes money too, but if you are on a tight budget paying for a proof-reader can seem an unnecessary expense. I get that. I didn’t pay to have my book proof-read, but I am very lucky to be surrounded by people who I could rely on to read my book and point out where there was a glaring missing full stop or speech mark. Leaving them aside however, I read and reread my book almost 100 times in the last 3 months or so, checking and rechecking the basics to ensure that I wasn’t submitting something with glaring errors.

I adore reading but I cannot read a book which is littered with errors, leaving aside any problems with the plot itself. In addition, as a reviewer of books for children, on a blog which is aimed at parents and children who want to read my books above all else, I am not going to be promoting books which in my view are unfinished. That is certainly not the self-promotion I want.

Self or indie publishing (whichever way you want to phrase it) is incredibly easy to do and monstrously difficult to succeed at. We are seen as the rejects who couldn’t get book deals and the perception is our books are littered with errors and lacking in cohesive plot or believable characters. These are unfair sweeping statements that hinder the indie author before they have even published their book. I’m guilty of it too, before I started this process, I looked down on self-publishing and would avoid purchasing books from indie authors because of my bias towards them. I now know how passionate, talented and dedicated to their craft many indie authors are. I have read some brilliant self published works which any sensible agent/publisher should jump on. Given all this, it is depressing and frustrating to read a book which matches the stereotype and fails to meet my expectations.

My dilemma then has very much been how to address this. I am not going to write a public review but I also recognise that despite my frustration, I cannot leave a fellow author without any kind of feedback. My response was to respond in email with apologies and explanation as to why it wouldn’t be appearing here. I’m not sure what else I could do?

It is the first time but I’m sure won’t be the last.

Please comment down below,

Are you a book blogger? What do you do when faced with this situation? Do you think I did the right thing? How do we tackle this bias against self-publishing?

If this rant got you intrigued, you can find my book…here!

If you want to read a review of an excellently written and proof-read indie book for children, TIBC #1: Trouble with Parsnips, Laurel Decher

TIBC #1: Trouble with Parsnips, Laurel Decher

It is always a good sign when I finish a book in one night. I did it with Harry Potters 4/5/6 & 7 ; Garth Nix’s Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen; Philip Pullman’s novels were regularly devoured into the small hours; Terry Pratchett had me laughing while my eyes were held open with matchsticks* and now I can add this hilarious and hugely entertaining novel, Trouble with Parsnips to the list.

Title: Trouble with Parsnips

Author: Laurel Decher

Genre: fantasy/humour/modern fairytale

Page count: 268

Published: 2018

TIBC Rating: * * * * *

Oh I do like that the first book I review gets the top rating!


Trouble with Parsnips opens at a christening party in the home of our nameless royal heroine. She has the nickname Fifteenth, as she is the fifteenth child of King Oliver and Queen Sibyl. Unfortunately, they have been so busy ruling the kingdom of Cochem (of which the Golden Parsnip is the symbol of state) and educating the older children, that she has been a decade without a name, hence the christening party.

As the story begins, Fifteenth is trying her hardest to ensure that everything goes as planned and she ends the day with a name and a suitable Fairy Godmother’s gift, as is appropriate for royal princesses on their christening day. This is not as simple a task as you may think. From the threat of Croquet Fever and missing guests to the very fact that without a name you are often forgotten, Fifteenth has a lot to handle. Luckily she is well equipped for the task, handy with a wrench and very quick thinking, she gets around most issues…that is until the arrival of the Blackflies and all the trouble they bring…

…her biggest test will come with the dreaded arrival of Croquet Fever, (not as harmless as you may think) when all her plans come tumbling down and the Golden Parsnip is no longer in Cochem hands…


This was an absolute delight to read. From the first chapter to the last, I was entertained by Fifteenth and the other characters. She is a modern-day heroine of the highest order: intelligent, handy, independent, feisty and kind, she leaps off the page as all the best main characters should. The cast around her too, are real while maintaining the ‘fairytale’ feel for the book. I particularly loved Bridget and her father who were genuinely good people. The villain of the piece (I won’t spoil who it is, though you will probably guess early on) is appropriately villainous and I enjoyed the scene where they trailed Fifteenth around the gathered guests as she did odd-jobs for each of them, ensuring they were shown appropriate hospitality.

The story flows wonderfully and there is a strong sense of connection to the main thread of the book throughout. We have all dealt with the feeling of being invisible and being afraid to speak up and I liked how this was explored and the way that it was resolved without being too ‘preachy’ or patronising. That overall is the feeling I take away from this, at no point did I feel to old to be reading it. The story resonated with me as an adult as much as I’m sure it will with children. The humourous nature of the book too, was not excessive: My enjoyment of it was drawn more from the absurdity of the situations than any ‘jokes’, a clever format in the vein of Terry Pratchett or Lemony Snicket, which I particularly enjoy.

If I were to make any criticism, it would be with the front cover, which, in my opinion, doesn’t particularly suit the book. It makes it look far more like a ‘princess story’ than it actually is, despite being full of royalty, kingdoms and tournaments. It is definitely a book that I feel as a story would appeal to both boys and girls, but some boys may be put off by the ‘girly’ front cover and miss out on a fantastic story.

Overall this is a brilliantly entertaining book which both boys and girls of 8/9+ will love. Fifteenth may feel forgotten by her family but her story is definitely one that I will remember and return to read again and again.


Thank you, Laurel for the opportunity to review this brilliant book!

You can find Laurel here: