Work in Progress

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve written an update here. Life has been crazy over the last few months, I’ve had so much to tell you but no time to do it! I did my very first author book reading to a live audience. The nerves nearly got to me but I managed to get through it – just. Tell you what, I’ll put that in a separate post so you can read all of the juicy details. My books are now featured on the Book Dragon website as well as in their shop, which is great. But I guess the big thing, and probably your biggest question is, how long will be before we see the concluding part of the Tome of Báirseach trilogy? Well, it’s underway, I’ve written 60,000 words and the story is starting to build towards the grand finale. I really hope you love reading it as much as I’ve loved writing it, it’s been such an amazing journey.

Over the weeks ahead, I’ll drop a few snippets and quotes to whet your appetite and once I have the artwork ready, there’ll be a cover reveal. Before then, I need to get the final chapters drafted, polished and then sent off to my wonderful editor.

So, what can we expect from the final chapter in the story? Well, first of all, is it the final chapter? That depends on you. If you want to see more from Cal and her world, then who knows? But I can say, this last book in the current trilogy will take us to a host of new locations, introduce some new characters and as ever, it’s going to be a bumpy, exciting, fast-paced ride. Okay, do your job, AJ, get the thing written!


It’s a big day for me, I’ve just received my very first quarterly royalty statement from The Book Dragon and, wait for it… I’ve sold some books!

Now, I know what you’re thinking: you’re an author, you’re meant to sell books. Yeah, I know, I know. Thing is, when you’re sitting up in bed (as I am right now), and you’re typing away or scribbling in your notebook, you have no idea who, if anyone, will ever read those words. Doubts are never far away – is this any good? Will anyone find it interesting apart from me? What if no one like it?

Authors have to battle a small but persistent army of demons and that’s why (nice) reviews are so important to us. It may mean little to someone who’s read a book to jot down a few lines on Goodreads or Amazon but authors check that stuff out and you might, with a few kind words, just tip the balance and encourage them to write the next page, the next chapter or even just the next paragraph.

Anyway, back to the Royalty Statement, it’s a small amount of money but it means the world to me. Here’s why… now that I’ve earned money from writing, in my own head, I can class this as officially one of my part-time jobs, not just a hobby, and it makes me feel just a little bit more like a proper author. A proper, book selling, real author. And that feels nice, it feels good. So if you’re one of the lovely people who has popped into the Book Dragon and picked up a copy of The Key of Ornoss or The Rod of Xerus, or bought a copy online from Amazon then THANK YOU! I really mean it, thank you.

Prime spot!

Some very exciting news to share. Back in 2020 when I first wrote the Key of Ornoss a little dream popped into my head. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a book shop one day and see my book on a book shelf? Now, as dreams go it might not seem the biggest or grandest but for a self-published author, it still felt out of reach.

Well, dreams come true! (Caveat: the dreams we’re prepared to work at.) A brand new book shop has opened in North East England, Stockton-on-Tees, called The Book Dragon. What makes this shop so special is that it only stocks indie and self-published books. Needless to say, as soon as I heard about it I dropped everything and went to have a look.

The owner, Kirsty, couldn’t have been nicer and as a self-published author herself, we had plenty to talk about. When I got back home we exchanged emails, I did the paperwork (there’s always paperwork) and low and behold, I’m in a book shop! At this point I would normally insert lots of happy, smiley emojis, but it’s wordpress so you’ll just have to imagine those.

In follow-up news, The Book Dragon took a stall at the book and craft fair at Saltburn-by-the-Sea last weekend and I went along to support. What a great team and what an amazing chance to catch up with some fellow indie authors. I learned a lot from chatting to them and it just gives you so much encouragement to know there are people out there, just like you, typing away, trying to get their stories out while paying the bills and keeping a million plates spinning.

So if you’re reading this, and you write your own stories the message today is, keep going because you never know where it might lead. You will get there and your journey will be amazing.

So many new readers

If this is the first blog post you’ve read of mine, hello! Now I think about it (and see below for my frank confessions on this) I should have done a lot more to point people to this site but hey, ho, you found me anyway so we’re all good.

If you were one of the 800+ people who took the time to download a free copy of The Key of Ornoss this week, thank you, I really hope you enjoy it. If you’ve ordered a paid for copy or bought the sequel, The Rod of Xerus, then I’m thrilled about that, your support means a lot to me.

So let’s get down to it, what did you think? If you have thoughts you’d like to share, do let me know. Better yet head on over to Amazon and share your thoughts there, I’d really appreciate that and it helps my books get noticed.

You might not want to know this but maybe you do. I wrote this book for my seventeen year old self. It would have meant a lot to me back then to read about the exploits of a hero with gender dysphoria. I mean, yeah, Cal gets up to some crazy stuff, especially in the second book but through all of her adventures, she’s trying to find out who she is. Aren’t we all doing that? I know I am.

Anyway, it’s a bit of fun and if nothing else I hope it helped you pass your journey or enjoy your leisure time a bit more. And don’t underestimate what you mean to me. Writing is all about the readers, you are important and I do care what you think. Just sayin’.

We’re #1!

Some weeks are good weeks and some weeks are great weeks. This is a great week and I’m just going to take a moment to enjoy that. I didn’t get into writing with the idea I was going to make money from it. Sure, I’ve had my little fantasies from time to time, I guess all authors have but realistically my goals were more grounded. First and foremost it was about getting my story in the hands of people who would get something out of reading it. Second to that, I had this vain little desire that one day I might walk into a book shop and see my book on a shelf. Who knew that in one week both dreams would come true.

As I’ve said before, I know very little about book promotion, my approach could at best be called scatter gun. I’m not against trying new things however, and when I read a fellow author had great success with a free promotion using Freebooksy, I thought why not give it a go. Well, I only went and reached #1 in the Amazon Kindle free e-book chart for Teen and YA LGBTQ+ didn’t I! Over 700 downloads in a single day and counting. I am, in equal parts, stunned and grateful.

But it doesn’t end there. I was scrolling my FB, as you do and what should I find? A brand new book shop dedicated to indie authors. Wow! I clicked on the link and guess what, it was just down the road from me a few miles away. I hopped in the car and headed on over to chat with the owner, the lovely Kirsty McKay, and she’s agreed to stock both of my books. I’m going to be in a book shop!

So yes, this has been a very good week. If you want your free e-book copy of the Key of Ornoss, head over to Amazon but be quick the sale ends Friday 8th July. And if you want to check out the book shop I mentioned it’s called The Book Dragon, it’s in Stockton-on-Tees in the UK and it’s fab!