Friday, 30 September 2016

THIS BOOK MATTERS.... It needs to get into the hands of those who can help make a change.

Today sees the launch of my friend, and fellow Little Bird Author, Jill Turner's debut novel, 'The Children of Albion'. 

Now, I have an honestly policy when it comes to dealing with books and authors in our community; if I don't like something, I'll not say anything (Not all books are for all people) but if I do like it, then I think it's only fair to share the awesome - and I also feel it fair to disclose to you that I did edit and illustrate this book. Don't roll your eyes at me LOL - this isn't about self-promotion, well it might be a little bit... ;) BUT SERIOUSLY, 

I am passionate about spreading the word of this book because this book matters. 

Jill's book 'The Children of Albion' is what I call 'MindFood' - it makes you think in a way that good literature should. It's gritty, and real, and heartbreaking, and bleak, and it roars unashamedly with a socio-political agenda - an agenda that wants to see a group of people, so often forgotten by the authorities and wider society, put at the forefront of our minds. 

Before I became a full time book person, I was a secondary school teacher of English in a London Comprehensive School. Over the years I worked at that school (almost 15 years) I had many roles, but the one I loved the most was being a Head of Key Stage, which meant I had the responsibility of the pastoral and academic welfare of two year groups (nearly 350 students) 
Jill Tuner worked for many years on
Fleet Street. She wrote and
edited for some of the widest circulating National
newspaper in the UK.
Her passion for journalism and social justice
fuelled this, her debut novel. 
Those students came from very diverse backgrounds; that's a quirk of London living, there were children of high powered and celebrity media types, learning alongside illegal refugees who had arrived in the country having lost their parents, learning alongside children who came from terrible homes - and by terrible I mean, go to the furthest shadows of your imagination, and then some; poverty, sexual and physical abuse, drugs, crime, addiction, mental health issues etc. 
My position allowed me a doorway into a world that I, despite being educated, 'worldly' (or so I thought) had no real idea existed. I could not imagine - not really - that people would bear children inconsequentially and not have a care about their well-being, their growth, their emotions, their aspirations.... I didn't understand how that could possibly happen, and it's not with a sense of righteous indignation - I learned there are so many reasons why this happens, and it's not without blame on the individuals who fail as parents for these children - they are accountable for their own actions, their own place in life to a degree - BUT it is not without blame on society as a whole, too. 
When you are trapped - and I use that word very purposefully, TRAPPED in a cycle of poverty, poor education, low aspiration, media messages reinforcing your lack of value, when the world tells you constantly that you are a failure and tells you constantly that you can break the cycle and become the next Richard Branson, but does nothing to really facilitate you doing that - there is a sense of hopelessness that, unless you are a freaking saint or superhero, makes it impossible to fight your way out of that bag.
And even if you do try to fight your way out - remember you're being kicked from all sides whilst you're doing it. Kicked and kicked, and kicked. 
With a passion for the Pre-Raphaelites,
Jill wanted the illustrations to reflect
that time period with a contemporary
twist. There is a strong sense of allegory
in the novel, and Jill plays with notions
of Arthurian legend.
Jill's book means so much to me, affected me so deeply, because she has told the story of these children - children who look out into the world and dare to believe that maybe - just maybe there is hope for them, too.... only hope isn't always enough. 
It's important this book, and this story, the story of 'The Children of Albion' gets into the very hands of those in society who can make positive, effective change - those who have the power to reach out a hand to those children and feed that flame of hope - empowering those children to make the change for themselves that they need to make to break free. 
So please, if you're looking for a change in your reading, looking to feed your mind, looking for a story told in the very bones of reality, or know someone who is, support Jill's release of this book. 
This is what some very incredible people are saying about it: 
The illustrations, which were done by
me (a fellow Beardsley enthusiast)
are meant to reflect some of the
deeply poignant elements of
the novel. A juxtaposition of high-art
and the gritty reality of living on a
British 'sink' estate. 
“Jill has a very perceptive way of telling a story and a wonderful ear for dialogue. Her writing combines humour, warmth and a strong understanding of character.” 
(John Boyne: Author of 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas')


“The juvenile underclass is one of the big issues on the political and public agenda. This is an thoughtful, insightful and intelligent overview by someone who knows what they are talking about.”
(Simon Walters, Political Editor Mail on Sunday)


“Jill has written a sharp, dark novel of survival and belonging that brings to mind the social conscience of Dickens and the gritty ambivalence of urban life. It carries gratifyingly complex themes of nationality, individuality, civilisation, patriotism and friendship.”
(Kevin MacNeil, novelist and poet;)


You can get your copy on kindle here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01L0I9QA0
It will also be available in paperback on Amazon worldwide from this weekend and on iBOOKS.

BLURB:

In post-millennial England, the next generation are falling through the gaps of a very broken society. In the wasteland of a English sink-estate, where the adults are lost to drink, drugs, poverty and destructive relationships, the next generation run feral, surviving day to day by any means possible. 


Starved of food, love and affection, the children face a bleak future following in the crime-riddled footsteps of their parents, and their parents’ parents before them. 

However, when the middle-class dreamer, drop-out, and revolutionary teen, Albion makes camp in one of the derelict houses, an unlikely friendship is struck between him and Robbie, a boy born of the estate who desperately longs for things to be different.

With dreams of establishing a modern-day Camelot, and refuge for those children let down by society, Albie and Robbie attempt to create a new and better world, but they soon discover the weight of a crown is a very heavy burden to bear, and the legacy of the last generation is a terrifying and consuming beast. 













Thursday, 29 September 2016

Authors on Location


This is a blogpost that explores the power of getting out from behind the computer screen and going off on wild adventures to the places our characters live.

This September, I had an incredible adventure, I went to Paris with the #NCWR (Next Chapters Writing Retreat) run by Janet Wallace. It was incredible for many reasons, but one of the primary reasons was that it took place in Paris.

I love Paris - and when I say I 'love' Paris, I don't mean that in that typical 'Oh, I just simply love my holiday destination' way, I mean that when I'm there, my soul sings. Everything about Paris; the cafes, the food, the architecture, the vibrancy, the art, the people makes me tick. When I'm there, I feel the power of creativity in everything.

My love affair with Paris started nearly fifteen years ago when I went for the first time. I'd never really had a compulsion to go, assuming that the whole place would be some nightmare tourist destination, overly romanticised in in a gazillion films and books. I ended up going because of work, and the magic was instant. Paris really is as beautiful as the imagination.


Each time I have been, and I've been fortunate enough to go many times over the year, I have always vowed that one day, I would add to that long legacy of using Paris as a backdrop to a novel or series. And indeed, when I began penning out the second series of my serial 'Beautiful Freaks' it was a natural backdrop of the next stage in the story.

I had grown up studying the design of the Art Nouveau period, of reading French Aesthetic literature (sadly, not in French, but one day) and of the history of French art. (I was that kind of child LOL) The history of Paris is fascinating - it's raw and bloody, and full of flesh and vice, and nobility and adventure. It's a city that has indulged every pleasure and sense, and which has suffered every tragedy.

When I walk around Paris, I am haunted by a million ghosts.

So, to Beautiful Freaks. I discovered an online article about the avant garde cafes which swept Paris at the Fin de siecle. They were places that celebrated the transgressive, the dark creative mind, the limitless boundaries of spiritual and sensual experimentation. They were imbued with esoteric occultism; places of ideas and rituals. They had names like 'The Mouth of Hell' and 'The Devil's Playground' and catered for a tastes that have a long lineage in Paris. I knew immediately that this was where this story was going, that it was a natural home for my protagonist.

In Paris, there is a sense of intrinsic beauty in darkness; of ultimate life in death. The libertine pursuit for the the most pleasure that can be endured; the petit morte. The architecture reflects this, creating the sense of the sublime in the metropolis, verdant stone flora and fauna decorates almost every house, every gate and piece of iron work is excessive, and rich and full of sensuality - even the graveyards in Paris are a manifestation of this French notion that at the line between life and death, there is the ultimate beauty, the most exquisite creativity. That a rose is at its most exquisite and full of life the very moment before it begins to die.

So as part of our retreat, we spent some time visiting Monmarte Cemetery - a place of absolute inspiration and contemplation. They call Monmarte a Necropolis (A city of the dead) and you navigate it via quaint Victorian signposts, the kind you'd expect to see in any living city. The monuments are beyond a stone angel here and there, they are charnel houses, temples, and homes for the dead. They are pieces of craftsmanship and art - because there is beauty in death as much as in life.

And it's this fascination that sums up the idea of the Gothic in literature; that we are most alive when we are in fear of our own death - and it is perhaps why the character of the vampire, the werewolf, the quiet deadly danger refuses to fade from popularity; they are all creatures who hold the power of life and death in their hands - and that power is intoxicating.

And so to location - being there in Monmarte, walking the footsteps that I know my character has walked, seeing the things that I know my character has witnessed, touching the space and immersing myself in their world is invaluable - and it has put my creativity into overload - and by getting to know my characters' world in such an intimate way, it's helped me reflect on who I am as an author - as a creative identity. I guess, that as much as the adage, you are what you eat stands true, so does, 'You are What You Write.'

Beautiful Freaks Season 2 is DUE OUT SPRING 2017

BEAUTIFUL FREAKS SEASON 1 was nominated for a UTOPiA 2016 Award for Best Serial Series 2016

99¢ / 99p DOWNLOAD FOR OCTOBER

In order to celebrate the month dedicated to all things Gothic and darkling, Volume 1 (which contains episodes 1-6) has been placed on $0.99 Kindle Download. (Paperback editions are also available from Amazon worldwide, or if you want a signed edition, head over to my FB page and message me.

AMAZON USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GE2PHM8
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GE2PHM8

BLURB:

A dark and twisted saga that winds its way through the Victorian streets of London like a luxurious and lethal ribbon. 
When a series of terrifying and seemingly paranormal murders occur at a rapid rate, panic and fear grip the city. Still haunted by the ghost of the Whitechapel Ripper case, Inspector Steptree is forced to admit the murderer he now pursues maybe even more wicked and brutal. As the case closes down on the mysterious No.7 club, owned by the enigmatic Evangeline Valentine, Steptree discovers that evil is far from a fantasy. 
It is against this backdrop that Kaspian Blackthorne turns eighteen and begins his apprenticeship under the scientific maverick, Doctor Greyson, a pioneer in brain surgery, and human transplantation. Whilst Kaspian is introduced to the horrors and wonders of man’s scientific progress, he also begins an epic adventure of self-discovery and infatuation. Guided into the decadent and luxuriant world of the London West End night scene by his new friend Hugh Denvers, Kaspian tastes the sweet temptation of a life less ordinary, but such a privilege comes at a terrible price. 
A cast of timeless characters and dark, grown-up fairy tales interweave to create a rich and haunting tale of fear and desire.








Monday, 26 September 2016

Want to steer my series?

So I thought it might be fun to let you guys take the ropes for a while in my series. Now I may come to regret this crazy idea, but I doubt it; I trust you.

For those of you who have read 'The Meadowsweet Chronicles' you will know that the series is a beautiful mash-up of all that esoteric folklore, urban legend and mythology I love in film, T.V, books, art and poetry. 

We have already seen; Witches, Demons, Witch Hunters, Ghosts, Clairvoyants, Poltergeists, Ritual Sacrifice, Curse, The Ghostly Highway Man, The Ghost Hunt -- and the title of Book 4 is a pretty big hint as to what is also coming LOL

But what creature / character would you like to see feature in Book 4 (Maybe even the series)? 

Head over to the official Katie M. John Facebook Page (to the pinned post) and drop your idea into the comment box attached to this >>>>>>> image / post. 

MY FACEBOOK PAGE IS HERE https://www.facebook.com/KatieMJohn/ 

At least one winner will be chosen from those who have commented. The winning idea will be announced on October 14th as part of the celebration / release events for Book 3 of the series, 'Devilry', which is coming out on that day and as part of the October Fright's Blog Hop Celebration. 

You will not only see your idea in print, but also receive a personalised signed copy in which your name will also feature in the acknowledgements. Cool hey? 

And in the meantime, if you haven't read any of The Meadowsweet Chronicles, Book One is on FREE download (and also available in paperback for £7.99) on Amazon worldwide. It is also on FREE DOWNLOAD On all other eBOOK platforms. 







Wednesday, 21 September 2016

October Frights Blog Hop



It's that time of year, folks - it's the October Frights Blog Hop, and here is me getting ready for the pre-halloween epicness that is going to follow between the 10th and 15th of October. Get ready, and be sure to follow the mayhem, as it's also the release week of Book 3 of The Meadowsweet Chronicles. 'Devilry'. 

Things are going to get spook-aaaay!


Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Renaissance of The Knight Trilogy

I am delighted to share with you the new look for The Knight Trilogy. The first series that I wrote, The Knight Trilogy remains incredibly dear to my heart. It is this series which I have to thank for launching my author career and for introducing to me to a community of readers who have remained loyal and supportive throughout the years.

So here it is, and I hope you agree that it is really beautiful, and at last I feel that the outside reflects some of the poetry, beauty and romance that lurk within the pages of 'The Knight Trilogy'



So for those of you who aren't familiar with The Knight Trilogy, here are the blurbs.


THE FOREST OF ADVENTURES

Seventeen-year-old Mina Singer doesn't believe in love at first sight or any of that other nonsense written about in books, Then the mysterious Blake Beldevier arrives with the snow and Mina is catapulted  into a world she thought only existed in fairytales - only all fairytales have a  wicked witch, and Morgan Le Fay is the wickedest witch of them all. 

IMMORTAL BELOVED

As events take a dark and tragic turn, Blake Beldevier is forced to face his demons and atone for his terrible crime in the Egyptian Underworld. 
With Morgan resurrecting dark and bloody rites,  it is up to the damsel to rescue her knight in a race against time, gods and monsters. 
And with Morgan Le Fay's designs on Blake's heart, there isn't a minute to lose.



STAR FIRE


Egypt changed them all, and now the Knights Templar are aware of Blake and Mina's transgressions, they will stop at nothing to ensure the protection of the ancient secret. 
As blood rites, murder and crimes sweep the realm.  Blake and Sam are forced to undertake the ultimate quest, the acquisition of The Holy Grail - and if they fail it's a matter of life and death. 


Book One is currently on Free eBook download and you can find out more and pick up the links at www.katiemjohn.com

THE NEW PAPERBACK COVERS WILL BE AVAILABLE from OCTOBER 1st

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Hate the phrase 'Author Branding'? Forget the words, get visual...

For those that have visited this blog before, or are regular visitors, you'll have noticed some significant changes, which kind of act as a bit of a spoiler to this post...

In my last post, I told you about the 4 day retreat I had been on in Paris with NCWR headed by Janet Wallace of Social Deviants and UTOPiA Con. It wasn't a retreat to write, but to explore the idea of visibility; a definite concern in a time where there is literally a tsunami of authors out there shouting to be heard.

One of the early images from
the original Knight Trilogy website.
circa 2008.
The message was clear (if not
beautifully executed) 
There was so much that I learned, evaluated, reflected on as a result of that retreat, that there was too much to put into a single blog post - so here as promised is a post that continues on from the last - and it's about the idea of 'Author Brand' - god, how I hate that phrase. I don't know about you, but as a creative, I have an abject horror of 'defining' myself, of being limited by a single, cohesive definition of myself.

I've always fought viciously against labels, and types, and 'brands' - I am a passionate autocrat of my own identity, and yet... growing older (hopefully wiser) I have come to understand that pinning your colours (quite literally in this case) to the post isn't always a bad thing.

So, as an author of several series, and a writer of multiple genres, always putting the story before the market, I had resisted the urge to create a 'brand'.

When I first started, nearly 10 years ago, it was easy. I just had the Knight Trilogy, a contemporary Arthurian romance - the website design was easy; it was high gothic romance, deep purples, red roses, knights, and white horses. The fashion was for high paranormal, and so I threw myself into the rich and OTT design. It worked. The Knight Trilogy was a bestseller; there was a clear communication between me as author and the reader. When
a reader clicked onto the page, they knew exactly what they were getting.

BUT THEN... I finished the Knight Trilogy series and wrote something that didn't have knights and white horses and red roses; I became increasingly aware of marketing, and design and social media, and so I began to neutralise my site - something fresh, white, slick, minimal, classy, sophisticated ----- STERILE. Yes, that's what it was... STERILE, but I thought it was great. It was on point for current trends, it fulfilled everything I had been told about looking 'professional', but it wasn't working, and in that process, the communication between me and author began to fade.

It's funny how things come full circle in life - and it's also funny how we don't realise that things are actually coming full circle until it smacks you in the face.

The previous author logo. designed to convey the fierce
feminine, the shadowy figure, mystery. The use of Henny Penny
font, a youthful, playful outlook - and yet it communicates
nothing of the sense of poetry and strong links to the past. 
Things come full-circle. The colours and whimsy
of the new Knight Trilogy banner hark back
to those early amateur days
At the retreat, we were asked to really reflect on who we were as authors. What message did we want to convey to the universe, and was that message clear? Were we being true to ourselves or being clipped by perceptions (often warped) as to what we thought we should be, or how we 'should' be presenting ourselves. OMG, my head was spinning. I still didn't understand how I was meant to marry up Arthurian legends, Witchcraft Paranormal, Victorian Dreadpunk, and hard-hitting contemporary YA...

A snapshot behind the scenes shot
from the photoshoot in Monmarte, Paris taken
on the NCWR retreat. 
Interestingly, it wasn't words that forced me to really encapsulate my author brand, but the process of having my official author photographs done. One click of the camera. One visual image that had to define my 'author self'. When I wordestormed my preferences for fashion, it was interesting; rich, luxuriant, sensory, lace, velvets, precious metals, precious stones, blues, teals blacks, greys, dark greens, deep reds, victoriana, embellishment, orname
ntation.

When asked who my fashion icons were, I gave Helena Bonham Carter, Dior, Kate Winslet, and Nicole Kidman.

And okay, so most days I wear jeans and a t-shirt on the school run, because it's practical, but that butterfly inside the caterpillar....

When I had my photographs done (the final versions will be with me in a month or so) the jarring realisation came that they were totally, utterly incongruous with my current website; there was no relationship at all.

Cat Espinoza (our fashion / image consultant) talked about the process of mood boarding (which she still does old-school) with an actual board and printed out images. It was something I used to do a lot when I wrote the Knight Trilogy, and yet it, like many things to my detriment was something I 'grew out of'.

Inspired, one of the first things I did when I got home was pull together a printers board and then make a moodboard of all the images. I printed it off. I needed to see it in front of me - and then in a 48 hour intense, crazy, creative blitz, I applied the S*%T out of that moodpboard across all my social media platforms, website... even the books themselves. Nothing has escaped that moodpboard.

Using Pinterest, I gathered together images that sang to my soul; wings,
champagne, sisterhood, nature, flowers, adventure, romance, whimsy
sexuality, sensuality, infinite possibility.
And when I surfaced for air, wine and to hug the kids (No judgements please about that order) I sat back and looked back through it and realised....... I had come full circle. The visuals are the grown up version of those early sites. I have embraced the heart of me and my writing, and I have ignored everything the hipster millennial social media guru generation have been telling me.

THE MOST POWERFUL THING YOU CAN DO TO REALIGN YOURSELF WITH YOUR AUTHOR SELF IS TO MOOD-BOARD EVERYTHING THAT SINGS TO YOUR CREATIVE SOUL. 

The very first
The Forest of Adventures
cover. The cover that led
(unbelievably) to it becoming
a bestseller in 2010


The new cover for The Forest
of Adventures - harking back to the
core elements of the original. 
When you've got this mood board, and try not to overthink the gathering of those images, just select images that really appeal to you or that you connect with your storytelling voice. Try and gather at least 30-40 images to really create a sense of atmosphere - and then create. Let the same richness of imagination you apply to your stories, fill up those social media spaces.

Come over and visit the new look website and see the 'brand' in action. www.katiemjohn.com






Tuesday, 13 September 2016

What's the point of author retreats? My reflections on a 4 day retreat to Paris.

The idea of visual icons
is powerful. What is yours?
I've just got back from 4 nights in Paris on an author retreat with NCWR run by Janet Wallace (Founder of UTOPiA Con in Nashville. TN. USA) Now this wasn't a creative writing retreat, or a get your book written kind of retreat, this was business. The business of how as an author, I can make myself more visible, more confident and rock the branding of both me as author of multiple genres, and of my book series.

The days of 'Don't judge a book by its cover' are well and truly gone. Visuals have always been key to selling things. Visuals communicate not just a million words, but hopes, dreams and aspirations. Visuals stimulate the idea of need and need is the primary step in selling anything. (Even if that need is abstract, like I need to be cooler, perceived differently, individual etc)

Taking time out to reflect, create
and inspire without distractions of
our daily, normal domestic life is
imperative for growth
During the retreat we had a wide variety of activities, from seminars on Visual Branding run by the incredibly talented Regina Wamba, to Making Yourself Visible from Janet Wallace, to Styling run by Cat Espinosa (Formerly of design house Calvin Klein).  A large part of the weekend was about reflecting on how we can communicate who we as authors are, what our books convey and which readers we want to connect with.

As well as taking part in seminars, we spent a lot of time gallivanting around Paris on photoshoots - ensuring that we could come home with a bank of photos designed to kick start our professional branding revamp or creation. The photoshops were run by Regina Wamba, the artist behind many book covers on the USA TODAY bestsellers list. Her beautiful, kind and fun nature made it a really fun exercise - and we were terrified.

Although I had one very dear friend and several acquaintances I knew before from attending UTOPiA, the retreat was an incredibly social time, and deep friendships were forged in those four days. There's something about travelling together that creates a special and deep bond. Experiencing new things makes us see ourselves in a new light. It was also incredibly powerful having no other responsibility for 4 days other than me, myself and I. I've never had such a period of prolonged self indulgence since becoming a mother 8 years ago. It made me realise that somehow, I have to carve out more opportunities to just be me, as an I, with me and my thoughts, my dreams, my aspirations and my hopes.
Loving the job that we do and
looking after ourselves. Happy
people who can create their own
moments of happiness are more
likely to succeed. 

One of the biggest lessons learned from the retreat was that in oder to be successful, you have to invest in yourself - and sometimes that does mean you have to put your money where your dreams are in order for them to manifest. That doesn't mean that you have to be rich to become a bestselling author in the indie, small press world, but it does mean that you have to prioritise where you spend your money - and in order to do that, you need to have a plan; a clear direction of where you are and where you want to be. It means making choices about what matters to you.

Living the dream and
making it happen.
Doing a micro-signing
in Paris
The retreat also offered us a chance to do a signing in Paris and to collect lots of images and experiences to use on our social media platforms. If you want to interest people, you have to do interesting things. It's as simple (and complex) as that LOL.

I returned yesterday and my head is literally buzzing from the amount of information and tasks I need to implement; it's going to take several weeks to actuate, and several months to actual enact. I could try and stuff this post full of everything I learned, experienced and did, but it would be like the mother of all tidal waves. So I'm going to break down things as I blog about my actuation of them. I look forward to you following me on this growth journey, and I hope you feel inspired to undertake your own investments of both time and money.

If you want things to happen, you have to make them happen; it's not luck. The universe isn't a lottery, but a garden, and it needs nurture, care and time. I am so excited to begin this next season of my growth - and it's thanks to the incredible people I've had the opportunity to share this time with.

Make sure you sign up to the blog to follow this magic happen! Ask me anything you like about the experience, retreats and investing in yourself in the comment box. I'll try and answer all of them

Kate x

Monday, 5 September 2016

Opening Chapters: When Sorrows Come.

Today I am sharing with you the first three chapters of 'When Sorrows Come', a stand alone novel that was nominated for a 2016 UTOPiA book award for Contemporary Fiction, and which has gathered the most heartfelt, praising reviews.

The  writing of 'When Sorrows Come' was a very challenging experience; it tackles some seriously big issues head on, many of which I have personal experience of.

When I was thirteen-years-old, my father developed very serious mental health issues and I, like many teens, was thrust into a role I didn't ask for, that of being a Young Carer. My teenage years was littered with 999 calls and visits to the psychiatric unit at our very backward thinking rural hospital. It meant my childhood ended abruptly and without mercy.

However, it was a fire that forged a passionate, determined spirit - one that wouldn't let the often harrowing experiences of her teenage years define her future. That's not always been easy, and of course, like all human beings it's been a recovery period, with some serious emotion tentacles that have been harder to cast off than others.

'When Sorrows Come' was part of this slaying. I had wanted to write a book about the impact of parental mental health issues in a YA book for a long time, but it was both a personal and social challenge - like any highly emotive subject.

When I read Hamlet as a teenager, it fast became one of the most influential books I ever read; there was so much within the pages that resonated even if the parallels were not obvious. Sitting down to write through my experiences as a teenager, Hamlet  felt the perfect companion - a way for me to work through the complex emotions of first love, awakening desire, parental disappointment, being an outsider, secret burdens - and that all consuming quiet rage that gets tangled in a hard and deep first love affair.

'When Sorrows Come' was difficult to share, and I sat on it for three years before finally plucking up the courage to put it out there - when I did, it received a reception that I could only have hope for. Readers messaged me on Facebook, email and via reviews to tell me how deeply they had been affected by the book - how it had made them cry, and how the book had haunted them for weeks after reading.

It is sad, it is beautiful, it is dark, it is full of passion - but most importantly, it is full of hope. 

It was nominated this year for a UTOPiA award for Contemporary Fiction and I really could have cried myself, I was so moved that fellow authors who I have fan-girled and admired for years put it forward for an award.




CHAPTER 1
{MALACHI}

Malachi tips the glass of bourbon to unsettle the caramel-glass surface. He sees his father’s face reflected back at him. Younger of course - but they are unmistakably his father’s eyes. They are the colour of dark chocolate. Malachi’s younger sister, Maud, has the same colour eyes as their mother; ice-blue. Their father had been a great man, not just in the eyes of his son, but in the eyes of the world. As one of the leading scholars of Shakespeare, he had attained the status of an international geek superstar. It is a hard legacy for his seventeen-year-old son to carry. Malachi downs the rest of the liquor, stands and straightens his black mourning tie and smooths his hands over his dark grey suit.

Today is the day of his mother’s wedding. It is also the seven month anniversary of his father’s death. Malachi’s jaw is clenched so hard his teeth hurt. The pain feels reassuring.

“Malachi!” his mother calls up the stairs to him. “The cars are waiting.”

He looks at the bottle of bourbon on the desk. His father had opened it the night before he died. There are just a couple of shots left. Malachi has eked it out. Ridiculous as it sounds, it has made him feel less of a loss, as if each glass has been shared together. When it is gone, those moments will also be gone.

“Malachi!” His mother’s voice is urgent. She is keen to be a bride. The thought of it makes him feel sick. He picks up the bottle, uncorks the stopper with his teeth and pours the rest of the burning spirit down his throat; an action he knows he will regret in the coming quiet hours of grief. The intensity of it all brings tears to his eyes. He fights them back. He knows it will not be the only time today he will have to fight this battle.

He is hiding out in his father’s study. Graham, his father’s brother, soon to be husband to his brother’s wife, (yes, incest is complicated) has promised Malachi that the office will remain his. His father’s things will not be moved. Malachi is not holding this promise dear. After all, what worth is the word of a man who jumps into bed with the widow of his brother even before his brother has rotted in the ground? Not for the first time, the image of his father’s corpse comes back to haunt him. 
The bourbon makes Malachi cough. He has not heard Maud enter the study and he startles when he feels her hand on his shoulder.

“Kai,” she speaks with the voice of a lullaby, “everybody is waiting for you.”

“Let them wait!”

“Ssh!” she soothes and strokes the dark ringlets of his hair. “Don’t do this today, Kai. Mama knows how you feel; the whole family know how you feel, and you’re not alone.”

Malachi balls his fist. The urge to destroy something is almost overwhelming.

Maud holds out a pale blue silk tie and implores him with her eyes to change. Malachi bats her hand away. It should be enough that he is going to the blasted wedding. He runs his hand along the waist line of his trousers, tucking his shirt tightly in before doing up his jacket button.

“Let’s go.” He walks out, leaving Maud’s hand still suspended in the air. She is also unhappy about her mother’s hasty marriage to her Uncle Graham. He is a strange man - she has never liked him. Fourteen-year-old Maud is a born again Christian. She has the youthful sureness of right and wrong; the pastor has told her that her mother’s marriage to her late husband’s brother is a cardinal sin - they are both condemned to Hell. Malachi hopes the pastor is right, and they get there sooner rather than later.

Their mother is waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs. She is dressed up like a pea-hen, all white satin and a festoon of feathers. Her cheeks are over-rouged. She has lipstick on her teeth. Malachi doesn’t tell her - he takes a quiet satisfaction in her social faux-pas (as if the wedding wasn’t bad taste enough). She looks at him hard, notes his black tie and goes to say something before thinking better of it. She knows he is an unexploded bomb. The boy needs to stop being so gloomy. Death is just a part of life. Life is short. “Out, out brief candle, life is nothing but a walking shadow that struts and frets its hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.” She smiles sadly at herself. She can quote Shakespeare as easily as the names of her own children, but it means very little to her. In all the years she was married to the esteemed Professor Stone, she had never read or watched one of Shakespeare’s plays in its entirety. Her knowledge of the bard was as fragmented as the knowledge she really had of her husband.

His brother Graham had always loved her. He had told her this on the day she wed his brother. He had tried to kiss her before she left for the church and she had slapped him. Not because of his uninvited attempt, but because he had left it too late. The ‘professor brother’ had already staked an eternal claim - she was pregnant with Malachi. For eighteen years Graham had stood in the shadows watching on as his golden-haloed brother lived the perfect life - except it wasn’t.  The silent, heavy moment between Malachi and his mother passes. She wishes he could read her mind and know just how much she loves him, even if she doesn’t particularly like him at present. She is blocking the stairway and Malachi catches her shoulder roughly as he passes by. It is a cold moment but she lets it pass and smiles weakly at her daughter, looking for sympathy. Maud replies with a steely glare and a shrug of the shoulders.

Malachi arrives at the Registry Office earlier than the wedding party and takes a seat on the back row. The guests have not noticed him arrive and he can hear their whispers. They are there because in their small community, his family count as aristocracy - no matter what, the aristos stick together - and also because they like nothing more than to be a front row spectator at a road-crash. His mother had asked if he would give her away but he had refused. There had been a terrible row. Horrible, irrecoverable things had been said. Malachi had stayed out all night. When Maud had asked him where he had been, he had refused to tell her, but she knew … he had been with Ophelia.

Soon after he arrives, Lucy, Malachi’s girlfriend arrives and takes a seat next to him. She reaches out and takes his hand in hers. It is limp and uncommitted. She is wearing a pink silk dress suit and matching hat and shoes. Malachi glances at her and thinks she looks like a younger version of his mother. He returns her smile out of habit. He stays with Lucy as a form of self-discipline (possibly self-punishment). Staying with her is an exercise in self-control, proving he can conquer the weakness that is human emotion; that he is not a slave to love. He is a free man. An evolved man. A superior being beyond the baseness of human frailty. She leans in and whispers to him, “Are you okay?”

It is a stupid question and one that Ophelia would never ask - but Lucy, well she’s a different type of girl entirely.  Malachi nods. His jaw is still tightly clenched.

“Your sister gave me this.” Lucy hands out the wretched, blue-silk tie and smiles her sweetest smile as if she understands but maybe knows better than him.

“That was nice of Maud but I’m really not sure it goes with your lovely outfit, sweetheart,” he replies.
She laughs. (God how that laugh annoys him.) He counts to three with deep breaths in between.
“It would be a nice gesture to wear it …” she makes a small drama of scanning the room and then leans in conspiratorially “… and maybe it will stop some of the whispering.”

Malachi stares straight ahead and twists the top of his black tie. “Quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a fuck what other people are saying!”

The word “fuck” has been said loud enough to cause a small ripple of surprise from some of the elderly ladies in the row in front, and Lucy is doing her best to smile and be charming - apologising on his behalf for his outrageous behaviour. Malachi does not feel sorry. Lucy is squirming in her seat. Malachi allows himself a wry smile - she will accommodate his every instruction later in order to appease her angry god. He knows his cruelty does not make him good.  The music strikes up and his mother walks down the aisle. She looks slightly flustered and he is happy that maybe he has cast a cloud over her day. The legal process is thankfully swift. (Even she is not audacious enough to pretend God or any other ‘spirit’ would approve of a sentimental exchange between them.) Before he knows it, the wedding party are standing on the steps of the Town Hall, confetti raining down around them and the photographer barking orders for them to smile. When the photos are returned Malachi has refused. 


You can continue reading for just 99¢/ 99p on KINDLE
(It's on SALE until September 15th) or get it in paperback for just £5.99 on AMAZON worldwide. 

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Sorrows-Come-Katie-John/dp/1523216476 
USA: https://www.amazon.com/When-Sorrows-Come-Katie-John/dp/1523216476
ALL OTHER E-BOOK PLATFORMS https://books2read.com/u/bpLXJb 

Friday, 2 September 2016

Witches, Poltergeists, Demons, and Angels...

It is with great excitement that I can announce Book 3 of The Meadowsweet Chronicles is now live on pre-order. Titled 'Devilry' it comes out officially on October 15th of this year (although kindle readers will get a special pre-view on the 14th)

It will be available in paperback and ebook, and paperback bundle editions will be available for the Christmas gift season.

So if you've been following the Meadowsweet Sisters, here's a little look into Book 3.


DEVILRY. BOOK 3 OF THE MEADOWSWEET CHRONICLES.

Darkness is falling and now is the time for everyone to choose whether they are on the side of the demons or the angels. 

Far away, on the lush island of Haiti, the Ravenheart sisters are seeking the answer to the darkest of all the dark arts – the resurrection of the dead. Desperately wanting to restore their trinity, Lilith and Thalia will stop at nothing to exact their vengeance on the Witch Hunter, Jeremiah Chase, and reclaim their sister, Nigella, from The Palace. 

With betrayal, murder and bloody power-games in play across The Southern Territories, the race is on to usurp the Meadowsweet sisters from their thrones as Guardians of ‘The Ancient Ones’, and to eradicate their bloodline once and for all. 

Reports of rampaging poltergeists, murderous ghostly huntsmen, and even the sight of an angel, in Heargton village, cause ancient suspicions to emerge, and for the Meadowsweet sisters to come under increasing suspicion of reigniting the ancient curse of the Heargton Witches. 

From England, to Mexico, to Salem, to Haiti, the whole world is suffering the aftershocks of the Ravenheart’s terrible play for power. However, for Fox Meadowsweet, the most violent of the conflicts is closer to home – in the chambers of her own heart, where the increasing power of the blood-bond with Jeremiah is fighting the true love she feels for William Harrington; the boy who holds the promise of salvation. 

Storm clouds are gathering from all corners of the globe, and the Church in Rome has issued orders to put an end to the supernatural elements in Heargton once and for all. 

It’s time to prepare for battle. 

Please Note: This series is Upper YA - suitable for readers 15+ years as it contains some references to age appropriate sexual activity (non-explicit) and some more adult language.

And if you haven't yet read BOOK 1 of the series, 'Witchcraft' - it is on free eBook download on all eBook platforms. 

AMAZON US amazon.com/dp/B00NG5CLTE
AMAZON UK amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NG5CLTE
iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id950645919

Introducing you to Ash Krafton...

I am blessed to be a part of a really fabulous author community, who have done such a lot to support me over the years, and who have become friends. One of these wonderful authors is Ash Krafton, whom I've known on line for about 5 or 6 years after we met through our mutual love of horror writing. This month sees the release of her latest book, 'Charm City' and I'm really delighted to share it with you, and encourage you to check her out, if you haven't already.
Charm City banner for Wattpad photo CC banner wattpad_zpstdvjfamy.jpg

There are demons all around us, legions of the dark that break loose from Hell's restraints to prowl the mortal plane. Most people can't see them and will never suffer their torments. They are the lucky ones. Guess that makes Simon Alliant the unluckiest man alive. He's learned that the only luck a man has is the luck he makes for himself. Call him exorcist. Call him master of the dark arts. Call him dime-store magician. Most names don't matter, not when Hell knows yours. Armed with his spells and his amulets and his desperate drive toward redemption, he fights the rising darkness and sends those demons screaming back into Hell, one minion at a time. But not all demons can be exorcised. Some dwell too deep inside a man's bones to be so easily banished. Simon is smart--or, at least, cynical--enough to know which battles are worth fighting. It takes more than a fistful of charms to stay alive in his line of work. And staying alive is the only way to avoid giving the Devil his due...

Welcome to the world of The Demon Whisperer.
It kicks off today with the Kindle release of
the first book in the series: CHARM CITY.

 photo Charm City new_zps5lgoxnqg.jpg
The darkness is rising and one man stands against it: the exorcist mage Simon Alliant. But in Baltimore, he finally meets his match...a part-mortal divinity with the power to whisper away demons.

Simon Alliant is an exorcist who battles demons, whether he wants to or not. Sometimes it's not so bad...he gets to play with magic, after all. But for Simon, magic represents a demon of another kind. He's addicted to magic and it takes more than a handful of charms to keep that particular demon at bay. Chiara is part Light, part Dark, and stubbornly mortal. The woman has a way with words: she literally talks demons into abandoning their human hosts. Simon thinks that's not the only trick she has up her sleeve-and that's pretty high praise coming from a mage like him.

As intriguing as that may be, Simon has too many reasons to distrust her...one of them being his more-or-less partner, an angelic Watcher. Amidst all the celestial warnings of the rising dark comes a new prophesy that makes him wonder: is Chiara a threat to him and all of mankind?
Or will she be his salvation?

Join the legions and pick your side: Light or Dark. Just know this...decisions like this are never easy, because there's no black and white when it comes to good and evil.
Grab your lucky charm. You might need it.

Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. She's the author of urban fantasy (such as the trilogy The Books of the Demimonde) as well as paranormal romance (WORDS THAT BIND). She also writes for YA and NA audiences under the pen name AJ Krafton (THE HEARTBEAT THIEF, her Victorian dark fantasy inspired by Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”). Currently, she's working on a new urban fantasy series, The Demon Whisperer. The first book, CHARM CITY, is now available on Kindle.

Friday, 26 August 2016

FREE BOOKS! Why I put Books 1 of my series on free.

Who doesn't love a good freebie. Did you know that you can get both Book 1 of 'The Meadowsweet Chronicles', and Book 1 of 'The Knight Trilogy' free on all ebook platforms? Well you can.

I made the decision to put Books 1 of both my series on perma-free after much thought. I'm not a household name, and despite having had some fabulous sales, several best-selling rankings, and beautiful star gradings on all of the various (and sometimes scary) review platforms, I am not a USA Today bestseller or any of that other astronomically awesome stuff, but I do write books that most people who make a punt on, enjoy - and there are many (according to star ratings) who enjoy them very much indeed.
Book 1. 'Witchcraft' is free on all eBook platforms.
Go to www.katiemjohn.com to pick up the links

But there are just so many authors out there shouting to be heard - many authors who are amazing, and who tell the most bewitching and talented stories, but who get lost in the bun-fight. Way before I was an author, I became a reader - and I know how it is... it takes a lot to invest in a book, especially when you have a fearsome reading habit and a purse that doesn't match it. And it isn't just money - there's this silent communication of trust that runs between a reader and an author when you pick up a book - it's a don't let me down kind of thing; I've trusted you, I've invested in you - please don't be crap LOL

Well, my view as an author is, I want to share stories more than I want to make money (although it would be nice to be able to pay for luxuries like food, light, school shoes for the kids, notebooks and wine... most importantly wine)

My thought is, if I give you book one of my series, (both of which took over a year to write and over a thousand pounds to produce - not accounting for my actual time because authors often like to deny the idea of actually having a salary, but let's say we do take that into account - at least 20 thousand pounds if I was running my own sweat shop, which I am...) then if you like it, you move onto the next book priced at a fair (and some would argue, still too cheaply priced) $2.99-$3.99 / £2.99-£3.99

I know there have been some readers who have found this policy annoying. They think that if Book One is free then all other books from that author should be free - well, yeah, you guys are smart enough to see why that a) isn't sustainable and b) just isn't fair.

Book 1 'The Forest of Adventures' is free on all
ebook platforms. Head to www.katiemjohn.com to
pick up the links. 
The other thing we (as reader and author) are doing, is sticking up to Amazon just a little - not that I don't love love them (I really do love you Amazon, honest) You see, what most readers don't realise is that Amazon (I love you) have this really (some might say 'evil') policy that if you are an author and you price your book under $2.99 then you can only reap a 30% royalty from them. Yep, that's right, folks, every single $0.99 book you ever buy, the author gets just $0.33!

However, as soon as a book is priced over $2.99 then the royalty goes up to a whopping 70%. Now you know how the market has been swamped with $0.99 deals, and how that has forced the market into thinking that is a new norm - well it isn't, and quite frankly, it's a little sickening to sell your book for a 1/3 of the price of a coffee, knowing that you are going to get just $0.33 (£0.20p) from each sale.

Personally, I would rather give you the book and we set up this whole reader, author relationship of trust, whereby I provide you stories you like, and you support my writing by future purchases at a fair price that plays the Amazon game sweetly - and if you feel so inclined, to leave a review as well that would be amazingly awesome - because weirdly, the more reviews you have (whatever star rating) it pushes you up the rankings and makes you more visible on searches etc.

So there we are - that's why I give away my books - not because they're crap but because I love you.

They're free on all platforms - and if you head over to www.katiemjohn.com - right there on the landing page is the links to Amazon and iBooks - you can't miss them. And whilst you're there, feel free to take a little tour around at my other 7 books ;)




Introducing the founder of Little Bird Publishing....



That will be me.

Many of you don't realise that as well as being a 'full time' (that's a bit of an inside joke) writer, I am also the founder of Little Bird Publishing House.

Originally, I set Little Bird Publishing House up as my own unique press. It was designed to be the business front of my indie publishing career, and it worked really well. This was way back in 2010 when the idea of owning your own publishing house was still quite a novelty in the whole indie book world.

However, with the boom in indie books and authors, I began to see a LOT of dream paddlers; people offering to take your book, charge you a couple of thousand pounds and turn it into a bestseller - yeah, right!

It wasn't right - and it wasn't fair, and by late 2013, I had learned SOOO much on my steep learning curve, it felt time to help some other folks out. I began branching the idea of a publishing house with the establishment of two anthology projects. Dark Heart & Night Shade. It was an amazing way of testing the ground to see if I was ready to actually become not only an indie author, but a publisher, too. The Dark Heart & Night Shade projects led to some fabulous author friendships, and two of the authors are now fully-fledged Little Bird authors.

Fast forward to 2016 and we are a publishing family of ten; Hazel Robinson, Toya Richardson, Helen Whapshott, Alison Clarke, Martin Ferguson, Jo Richardson, Jill Turner, Katie M. John (me) and in 2017 Brandon Robb and L. Keane will be joining us. And when I use the term family, I don't use it lightly. As a collective of authors, we support each other, encourage, build, lend a hand, and generally hang out on social media.

My mission with Little Bird is and always has been that we are stronger together. That when we begin to work as a community of artists, amazing things happen - and they do.

I treat every single one of the books that run through Little Bird as dearly as my own, from the first initial edits, to the art work, to the marketing, to the love of the story - all Little Bird books are my beautiful nieces and nephews. Every author I work with is respected for their own unique and beautiful voice - that's what Little Bird is about; not crushing authors and creatives into a marketing book, but giving unique voices a chance to shine.

Every single Little Bird Book is worked until it is of a quality ready for readership - and the reviews, awards and fan-bases prove that.

I don't worry about markets and sales trends when it comes to selecting the stories we are going to publish, I focus on the story, on the author behind the story - and it doesn't matter if it sells 10,000 copies, or 10, every single story is important. Every single author's voice is important.

The thing about writing and defining oneself as an author is that it's freaking scary as hell. You're terrified that someone is going to 'out' you as a fraud, that someone is going to knock you down so hard that your'e never going to quite get up - and although it isn't always the nicest of worlds, by creating a community of authors who have genuine friendships grown through shared experiences and belonging to something a little bigger than being all by themselves, it makes the whole thing a lot less scary, and a hell of a lot more exciting.

In 2017 we see the next big step for us as a publishing house. We are the primary sponsors of Chapter.Con London and many of the Little Bird Family will be attending and manning our Little Bird super table, and we are also going to have a full publishing table at Leeds in 2018 with Hourglass Events. We are always growing and despite sometimes feeling like I have a million hats to wear, editor, designer, publisher, marketer, author, business woman, it's an amazingly fulfilling way to live.

If you want to find out more about Little Bird Publishing, or if you are an indie author who thinks that they might like to try a different kind of indie publishing, then you can see our public website www.thelittlebirdbookstore.com, which also has a link for authors to our publisher's website www.littlebirdpublishinghouse.com 



You can also come over and give us a LIKE at our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter at @LittlebirdPub - which amusingly is not a place you can procure beer from, but keep up to date with what we are all doing.