Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

VL 4 Traditonal detectives

As you’re probably aware by now, Book 2 in my Jake Talbot Investigates series, Saving Anna, is due for release REALLY soon. I’m so excited by the approaching launch of my new book that I thought it would be great to offer book 1 for free between 9th – 13th November. Grab your copy!

This is a terrific opportunity to meet British Detective Jake Talbot and join him in unravelling the mystery of a romance that crosses the boundaries of time. Why doesn’t anyone want young Frankie Hayward to visit an old woman named Lilly? Why is the Ministry of Defence interested in Frankie? Can Jake manage to set aside the unhappy memories of Christmas past, and keep working through the festive season: or will he crack under the strain?

Find out in Visiting Lilly


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I’ve recently joined Wattpad and posted the first chapter of my Chick Lit novel After He Left.


After He LeftThis is a work in progress, so follow me on my journey and discover what happens to Megan O’Leary after her boyfriend suddenly announces he’s taking a ‘relationship break’ on New Year’s Eve.

Left to run their business all on her own, Megan crumples. Staying with friends at their country pub could be an ideal situation while she sorts her life out, but her best friend’s brother, Jezza, has always loved her, and Reno, an attractive Italian, presses his advances. The mysterious Hugh Chalfont saves Megan from disaster, but village gossip warns her to keep well away. Still reeling from abandonment, she doesn’t need romantic complications. Megan has always been the strong one, doing what others expect of her. Can she now take what she wants for herself, without getting hurt again?

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I have now signed my contract with Booktrope to publish my novel Visiting Lilly.

The next phase in publishing via Booktrope is to build my team, which will include a Book Manager, editor, copy-editor and cover designer.

Being new to the Booktrope publishing process I stared at theVisiting Lilly Cover Image inner sanctum of their website and felt completely overwhelmed. I was advised to make friends and build contacts, which I promptly did. Then to my absolute delight I was approached by someone offering to become my Book Manager and help pull my team together.

I am thrilled to let you all know that I shall be working alongside the very dynamic and professional Mindy Halleck. Out of several books Mindy Halleck was sent to review she opted for Visiting Lilly and is truly passionate about my work.

Rather than daunting the process has now become exciting.





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I have a contract to publish my novel Visiting Lilly!

I am so thrilled to share the exciting news that Booktrope have offered me a contract to publish my novel Visiting Lilly.

Booktrope is an online publisher that has formulated a collaborative process to bring their books to market. Once I have signed my contract I will be invited to build a team, which will include, amongst others, an editor, a cover artist and a marketing manager. Each individual is paid a percentage of sales revenue after costs.

Visiting Lilly Cover ImageThis is a mock up cover I generated for Visiting Lilly. With my Booktrope team I will get a cover designer, so I doubt this is the image we’ll run with. If you love this cover and think it has to stay, let me know.

I first pitched Visiting Lilly to Booktrope about 18 months ago. Yes, these things take a long time! As I recall I saw an article about them in a writing newsletter and followed through to their website. At the time they were actively seeking submissions, but all they wanted was a brief synopsis. I posted my 386 word synopsis in the appropriate box on their website…and… the site timed out, so I rewrote the synopsis…not having drafted it to start with, of course…and then pressed send. The irony of this is that I usually stress about writing a synopsis, but the space they gave me to write into was so limited I was forced to cut the story down to its bare bones. The fact that after an hour their website got fed up with me loitering, and the fact that I hadn’t saved what I’d typed, made me cut it down even more. There’s a lesson to be learnt here.

I often wondered what happened to my synopsis and whether anyone had read it, but shortly before Christmas 2013 Booktrope emailed and asked if I’d still be interested in submitting Visiting Lilly to their review panel for consideration. Having pitched Visiting Lilly to several agents and received rejections I said yes to their offer. I never expected them to give any feedback, but what did go through my mind is, ‘Here is someone, or more than one person, who will read my entire manuscript, not just the first three chapters. They will judge the story as a whole.’ On that basis it had to be worth a go.

Booktrope’s review panel were impressed enough to offer me a contract to publish with them, so now the process of preparing my novel for publication begins.

Visiting Lilly is a mystery thriller and love story…with a twist.

Twenty Seven year old Frankie wants to visit an old woman, Lilly, who lives in an old people’s home. No crime in that, now is there? Only Lilly’s relatives are more than a little against the idea, so D.I. Jake Talbot decides to poke his nose in and investigate what their problem is. A nice easy case leading up to Christmas…which ends up threatening his job, his integrity and his sanity.

A couple of years ago I entered the first chapter of Visiting Lilly into the Winchester Writers’ Conference competition for the beginning of murder mystery novel. I received Highly Commended and this is what the judge had to say. (In case you’re wondering all entrants  had to use a pseudonym)

Lilly WinchesterNow everyone will be able to read the entire story of Visiting Lilly; but meanwhile follow a different story as I keep you posted on how the process goes from acceptance to publication.

Toni Allen Logo

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Quill imageOut of the blue I’ve just heard from a new online publisher I pitched my novel Visiting Lilly to many months ago. They’ve requested the entire manuscript which will go before a review board, and hopefully on to full submission.

I’m absolutely chuffed.

Visiting Lilly crosses several genres and that has been one of the biggest issues in securing an agent or publisher. I believe it’s a romance, but it also has a police detective/mystery and elements of weird science. See my problem? It doesn’t fit into a nice neat category box.

Hence I’m thrilled that someone has invited me to send the entire manuscript and is willing to read it through.

I’m sure I won’t hear any news for a while, I know these things take time. So wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Toni Allen Logo

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As part of the All Authors Blog Blitz I worked alongside the delightful Kevin Hardman who interviewed me on his blog. One of the genres that Kevin writes is “superhero” and this piqued my interest in his work because as a child I always had my nose stuck in comic books. My favourite superheroes were Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Batman. When reading Batman I was always so excited by the cool words like Kapow and Wham springing from fists in jagged outlines when our hero was having a fight.This, no doubt, helped expand my vocabulary!

With my love of Superheroes I invited Kevin Hardman for an interview to find out more about the man behind a new superhero.

Kevin Hardman book covers

Tell us a little about your background Kevin.

Well, on a personal level I come from a large family.  I’m one of seven kids, which was great because I enjoyed having a lot of brothers and sisters. It made growing up a lot of fun.

From a professional standpoint, I work in an office environment. I have several degrees, which once resulted in a friend jokingly commenting that I had more letters after my name than actually in it. At the moment I enjoy what I do, but I wouldn’t be adverse to writing full-time.

What led you to become an author?

Like a lot of authors, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of reading.  In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t able to read.  Regardless, it was my love affair with books that eventually turned my thoughts to writing one of my own. In fact, I wrote my first story – a contemporary short – around the age of nine.

After that, I didn’t really do much writing again until college. I wrote a few short stories during that time, but didn’t seriously turn my hand to it until after I graduated.  At that juncture, I tried to get some of my work published but received the usual round of rejections that most authors are familiar with.

Some time around then, I began writing movie screenplays. I’ve always been a big fan of movies and – like most other moviegoers – I’d seen one-too-many terrible films that left me thinking, “I can do better than that!”  Eventually, I was able to get an agent, and some of my scripts supposedly found their way into the hands of some recognizable people.  Unfortunately, I never sold anything, and eventually my agent and I parted ways.

I really didn’t attempt to write anything for a long time after that (mostly because I went back to school for another degree and then started working), but eventually the urge became too strong to ignore so here we are.

What subjects do you write about?

Historically, my favorite genre has always been fantasy/sci-fi, but by today’s standards I would expand that to include related subjects like the paranormal and supernatural.  That said, I write about anything and everything.  Basically, nothing’s off the table; I write fantasies, romances, mysteries…any genre you name, I’ve probably got a story in mind that suits it.

For instance, I currently have two books out:  Sensation: A Superhero Novel (which I suppose you could describe as fantasy/sci-fi) and Warden (Book 1: Wendigo Fever), a paranormal/horror story.  I had planned to follow these up with a romance I’ve had in mind for a few years and then a mystery.  However, I decided to go ahead and do sequels to the existing books before moving on to other genres. Sensation seemed to be resonating with readers, and It didn’t seem fair to keep any fans waiting an excessively long time. (As I write this, Sensation is actually ranked #1 in three categories on Amazon.)

What were your greatest influences? 

That’s tough.  I’d say that my parents buying me lots and lots of books as a kid probably influenced me to a large extent.  If you read enough books you’ll often get the itch to write one yourself.

In terms of writers, I would say that Jack Vance was a strong influence on me.  I simply love his prose, as well as his ability to create fantastical worlds and singularly unique societies.  In addition, he wrote in multiple genres. Not only did he win every major award in fantasy and science fiction (Hugo, Nebula, etc.), but he also won an Edgar Award for mystery.  Finally, he was simply a prolific writer, as his huge body of work will attest to.  (Vance was admittedly into writing solely for the money, which might explain why he cranked out so much.) I was deeply saddened by his recent passing, as there just aren’t many people I’d place in the same class with him.

What can you tell us about your latest book?

As I mentioned, I actually have two out at the moment that were published around the same time. Rather than talk about them, it’s probably easier if I simply share the descriptions, starting with my superhero novel Sensation:

Sensation Tiny ebook Cover Like millions of other kids, Jim grew up wanting to be a superhero. Unlike most of his contemporaries, however, Jim actually had the goods: a plethora of super powers that would have been the envy of any meta on the planet. But when his tryout with the Alpha League – the world’s premiere group of supers – goes disastrously wrong, Jim basically becomes an outcast. 

Two years later, Jim is still bitter about what happened to him. However, he soon finds himself the centerpiece in an odd turn of events that gives him a second chance at his dream. But nothing is as easy as it sounds, as Jim soon discovers. Among other things, he’s made an enemy of a prospective super teammate, he’s being stalked by an unknown pursuer, and a shadowy cabal bent on world domination has identified him as the only obstacle to their plans.

It’s a lot for one super to handle, even with a smorgasbord of abilities. But if saving the world were easy, everyone would do it…

 And here is the description for Warden:

Warden_Tiny_Cover_for_KindlePart lawman, part tracker and part magician, the Wardens are monster-hunters – tasked with protecting the people from the various, nightmarish creatures that have invaded the world of men. However, despite being descended from a long line of Wardens, 16-year-old Errol Magnus believes it to be the absolute worst job on the planet: How could a single occupation simultaneously be the most boring, abominably stupid and extraordinarily dangerous profession imaginable? 

But when his older brother Tom – the current Warden for their region – goes missing, Errol has no choice but to enter the Badlands, where monsters abide in mind-boggling numbers, to find him. During his search, Errol crosses paths with – and finds himself stalked by – the legendary Wendigo, a monster with preternatural strength and speed, as well as enhanced senses of sight, smell and hearing…and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.

 Now Errol must do the impossible and not only escape from the monster (something no one has ever done before), but also avoid the unearthly legacy it leaves on all its victims – a terrifying curse known as Wendigo Fever.

I think that both books can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, although they will probably have greatest appeal for the teen/young adult demographic.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us?

Sure, here’s the excerpt from the inside cover of Sensation:

I shot an angry look at Paramount as I braced myself and started to rise from the floor. He put a hand up to his mouth, as if to hide his snickering after having knocked me down. I can’t explain what happened next, but fury such as I had never felt – all-encompassing and all-controlling – exploded inside me.

I switched into super speed, moving so fast that later, even on film slowed down as much as possible, my movements were a blur. I grabbed the chair I had been sitting in, and in one smooth motion folded it up, spun around and hit Paramount with it squarely on the chin in uppercut fashion.

I mentioned before that I don’t actually have super strength, but when moving at top speed I can mimic it pretty well. Paramount’s head snapped back and he went sailing bodily up into the air. He hit the back wall with an audible smack that shattered plaster, then slid down to the floor.

I stood frozen, still gripping the chair. I seriously doubted that I had hurt him; at only 16, Paramount was already practically invulnerable, like his father. The lick I’d just laid on him was probably akin to an adult getting poked in the eye by a baby. It catches you a little off-guard, but it’s more irritating than painful, with no lasting effect.

Sadly, I was right.  Paramount started to get up…

What inspired you to write a superhero novel?

I’ve always been a fan of comics and superheroes.  It probably stems from the fact that one of my older brothers read a lot of comics and loaned me quite a number of his when we were growing up. 

As to what made me write a superhero novel first – out of all the stories I wanted to tell – all I can say is that it was the story making the most noise in my head and clamoring the most to get out.  Oddly enough, though, the story that ended up being published is nothing like the one I had planned to write.  Basically, as so often happens, the story tells itself, and in this case I ended up with something far different that what I initially intended. 

What’s the most difficult thing you’ve encountered in your journey as an author?

That’s hard to say, because at various junctures different things would arise as the most difficult barrier to overcome.  For instance, when I started writing right after college, the major roadblock was simply getting published.  After the advent of self-publishing, one of the biggest challenges for me was simply trying to be a one-man band and do everything myself: the writing, editing, marketing, etc.

These days, I share the load by having a cover artist and an editor.  The major obstacle I currently encounter is walking that tightrope between maintaining my day job, finding time to write, and taking care of marketing/promotion (which I still do myself).  It’s quite a balancing act, and you often feel like you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul when you have to push something to the side for a little while you sort some other issues out.

What words of encouragement would you give to any potential authors out there?

First of all, if you’re serious about it, you have to treat writing like a job.  That means writing every day, no matter what. Beyond that, simply have faith in yourself.  For most of us success is not going to happen overnight – whether in writing or any other aspect of life.  You wouldn’t expect to be made CEO after two weeks on the job (and you wouldn’t quit after two weeks because they didn’t make you Chief Executive). Likewise, don’t quit writing just because you don’t hit a home run your first time at bat.  Just keep honing your craft, getting better, and eventually the world will find you.

And on a side note, don’t discount the power of prayer.  I pray about my books on a daily basis and am blessed in that they have been performing well.

Where can readers find your books?

Sensation is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.  Likewise, Warden is also available on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Interested readers can also find out more at my blog The Hardman Writing Stylus

Whatever else you do today don’t forget to look up Kevin on Amazon or his blog and find out more about the man behind the new superhero.Toni Allen Logo

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AABB2As part of the All Authors Blog Blitz taking place today, I am proud to introduce

bad girls clubThe Bad Girls’ Club: it’s about sex, it’s about dares but most of all, it’s about friendship.

When Imogen, Juliette and Beth are seated together at a wedding, they have nothing in common but their resentment of the bride, Poppy. A risque prank draws them together and they decide to form the Bad Girls Club – a last ditch effort to free them from the shackles of keeping themselves nice.

The club rules are simple.  Each girl must complete a dare pushing them way out of their comfort zones.

Imogen puts the club in danger with her first dare. It seems nothing she does works out quite right until she is approached by the one man she thinks she can never have, the one man she should never have – Poppy’s husband, Daniel.

When Juliette is transformed by a bad girl makeover, suddenly she’s the girl everyone wants. Why would she be satisfied with one man when two are even better? But Juliette’s evolution doesn’t end there!

Beth is happy to be a bad girl – so long as no one else finds out, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the rest of her life and so long as she is in control. It’s just a pity Juliette is developing a mind of her while Imogen’s breasts are testing her ideas of appropriate desire.

Are the girls ready to finally take the final leap that will have them branded as bad girls for real? To save the club, and each other, they each have to publicly acknowledge their darkest secrets.

Join the bad girls in this steamy yet snort-laughingly funny chick lit adventure.

This is what Kathryn O’Halloran has to say about her career to date.

The Bad Girls’ Club is my debut novel although I have written a number of short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies.  I wanted to write a book that showed women taking control of their sexuality and the issues that surround that.  I liked the idea of a group of women with very different personalities who are thrown together and the way that friendship evolves.

I’ve been asked if some of the situations in The Bad Girls’ Club are drawn from my own experiences.  I will say that some are but I’m not telling which ones.

Outside of writing, I work in information technology but have explored a number of jobs including working as a phone pyschic, teaching English in Japan, making and selling crazy fake fur handbags and producing a TV show for community television

You can find out more about Kathryn on her blog at http://kathrynohalloran.blogspot.com

The Bad Girls’ Club already has some terrific reviews, so why not check it out for your summer reading.



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