Monday, November 28, 2016

Wishes Do Come True

My latest news speaks for itself. Excuse the unseemly author squeal but HOW COOL IS THIS!!!!!
Sharon x

PRESS RELEASE 25/11/2016

Candy Jar Books is pleased to announce its latest brand new free story!
The Wishing Bazaar by Sharon Bidwell will be sent out to all subscription customers, and those who pre-order the forthcoming novel, Blood of Atlantis by Simon A Forward.

Sharon Bidwell was born in London on New Year’s Eve. She has been writing professionally for many years, with her first short story receiving praise for being “strong on characterisation, and quite literary, in terms of style”. Her work has appeared steadily in both print and electronic publications, such as Midnight StreetAoife’s KissNight To Dawn, and Radgepacket. She has written several romance novels under the name Sharon Maria Bidwell, including Snow Angel and A Not So Hollow Heart, as well as dark fiction under the name Sharon Kernow. She was propelled into the universe of Steampunk as one of the writers for Space: 1899 & Beyond, winning the approval of series creator and award-winning game designer, Frank Chadwick. She wrote three books in the series, one of which was co-authored with editor (and writer) Andy Frankham-Allen.The Wishing Bazaar is her first piece of Doctor Who related fiction.

Range Editor Andy Frankham-Allen says: “I first met Sharon via the wonderful world of social media back in, I think, 2009. I was very impressed with her work, and soon enlisted her for my Space: 1889 & Beyond series. Her work ethic was proven to me when a novella fell through at the last minute and she agreed to co-author a replacement with me – which we did, in only two weeks! Sharon’s first drafts are often better than a lot of published works out there, and from the off I told her that I would get her writing for the Lethbridge-Stewart series. She resisted for all of five minutes.”

Sharon says: “I've written for and with Andy before with great success, so I was not entirely surprised when he got in contact about his latest project. For one thing, he'd been 'hinting' for some time that he wanted to rope me in and Andy isn't someone who understands no as an answer.Whenever I hear from Andy, I never know whether to cheer or groan. All those who write novels for well-known television shows now have my utmost respect. Some find it easy; for others the experience feels difficult and involves a lot of angst. I'm one of those worriers. Despite the responsibility, Andy has dragged me into incredible worlds and stories that are part of history and there's no way not to be grateful for that.Invariably the experience of writing for Lethbridge-Stewart was, for me, daunting, exciting, fun, and adventurous…a bit like the character himself.”

Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, says: “Sharon was an unknown quantity for me, but I knew that Andy had worked with her before, so I was more than happy to see what she’d come up with. Having read her short story, and looked up her other work, I now believe she’s going to be a wonderful addition to our stable of authors on this series.”

This story is set between Times Squared and Blood of Atlantis.

Blurb: Back from New York, Lethbridge-Stewart is investigating one of the strangest cases that has come across his desk yet. Wishes are coming true, and if there’s one thing Lethbridge-Stewart still doesn’t believe in it’s magic. But what if he’s wrong?

The cover of The Wishing Bazaar is by regular cover artist, Richard Young. Richard says:“I adore working with Candy Jar, and their cover briefs are always so specific, but this one was rather ambiguous as there were several elements that I could have used on the cover. I decided to concentrate on the alien of the piece.One passage of the story mentioned its burning eyes. Using a combination of traditional drawing and then colourisation in Photoshop (to really get the blazing eyes right), this is what I came up with.And I'm pleased to say everyone loved it.”

The Wishing Bazaar will be sent out to every person who pre-orders Blood of Atlantis (as a single book, or as part of our bundle/subscription offers).

Blood of Atlantis can be pre-ordered individually, or as part of the Series 3 Bundle (both UK and overseas), which includes the previous novel, Times Squared by Rick Cross, and the forthcoming novel,Mind of Stone by Iain McLaughlin, or the subscription deal for those wishing to get six books for the price of five.

Candy Jar is pleased to announce that the subscription offer is now being extended to international customers. Please see for more details.

Candy Jar is also offering a special promotion for its online customers. Buy Blood of Atlantis for £8.99 and get Times Squared for £5. This promotion also applies to six other Candy Jar titles. Please see for more details.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with the editor, authors, cover artist and/or license holder, please contact Shawn Russell at or 02921 15720

Lethbridge-Stewart series 1
The Forgotten Son by Andy Frankham-Allen
The Schizoid Earth by David A McIntee
Beast of Fang Rock by Andy Frankham-Allen
Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters
Lethbridge-Stewart series 2:
Moon Blink by Sadie Miller
The Showstoppers by Jonathan Cooper
The Grandfather Infestation by John Peel
Lethbridge-Stewart series 3:
Times Squared by Rick Cross
Blood of Atlantis by Simon A Forward
Mind of Stone by Iain McLaughlin

Monday, November 14, 2016

Being Busy, the art of Tinkering, and Screaming

I came across this post from 2012 and repeat it here now almost word for word as I wrote it then. This year is different. I am writing. I have been doing lots of editing and I've more of both ahead of me. I've not done anywhere near enough promotion and those 'life' annoyances are different but still very prevalent, maybe more so. Part of me wants to sum up the entire post into a single sentence: I'm a writer and I'm forever busy:
A friend sent me a text last night: "I hope the writing is going well." I had to reply that I'm not writing. I haven't been for...well, I'm not sure. Several days, maybe three or four weeks, and it's starting to annoy me. I've found a moment here and there to 'tinker' but not to write, although that's not entirely true either.

I've 'tinkered' with a bit of story, but not had time to sit down and truly write so in that sense I've hardly written a word. On the other hand, I've written plenty. I've had edits. I've written long-overdue emails. I've three works out in December so have written blurbs and promo, and typed my book details everywhere I can think of, and written blog posts for places I'm hoping to show up at to pontificate about my books or the writing process that created them for anyone who has asked me, or cares to read them. And sometimes just to say hi -- to connect with other writers and readers and thank them for their support, understanding, and lovely words and messages.

This is another side of 'writing' and I've had lots of that to be going on with, but I've also spent some time out to attend to daily 'life'. Much as I'd like to claim otherwise, we all have them, these daily lives, and maybe that's a good thing -- keeps a person grounded. I've a relative in the hospital, the extension roof sprung a leak, and I've done some shopping, some of which I can't avoid as we head towards Christmas. I will have a Christmas run of presents to attend to, and I have parcels to pack up, post off or deliver. I have cards to write, and a yearly letter to put together for those I have and haven't neglected equally -- either way it will be a chance for them to catch up on what is happening at 'our house'.

I'm...deep breath...busy, but in that, I can't say this time is all that different to any other time. I'm always busy, because when I've ticked off all the things on my current to-do list, there will be another one to attend to, and another one, and another after that. It doesn't stop. It's part of writing, living this double life, and sure, sometimes it's part of any normal life, too, but having all this going on occasionally means I procrastinate and tinker a bit with something trivial because it stops me from screaming aloud, which will only earn me strange looks and speculative whispers. And if there ever should be a time when I'm not busy... As if that's going to happen. I'll still be occupied because what writers do when they're not busy is get busy writing. See how that works?

Still, I'm getting antsy and I'm longing for the moment -- and it will arrive this week -- when I sit down and begin work on something. It may be something that needs editing -- it may be old or new, may require a complete re-write, or may be ticking over quietly in a dormant brain cell for now, but I've reached a point where if I don't write 'story' it's quite possible you'll hear me screaming.

Monday, November 07, 2016

The Seeker

To start with a summation, I’ll say this book (by Andy Frankham-Allen) is absorbing and satisfying. Initially, I didn’t feel that this was going to be the case. At the risk of the author’s wrath, I confess it took me more than a few pages to get into this story. That isn’t to say my attention wandered; I simply didn’t find it gripping, but I quickly accepted I probably opened the pages with more than a little bias, and the fault lies with me, not the writer. Knowing the author’s style my already active imagination worked overtime with anticipation, for I’ve been waiting for this book for more than a little while. The pace at the start was steady but a little slower than I was expecting. However, that’s my one and only negative and it’s a small one. I found the book increasingly absorbing.

I should say I’m going to be sharing a publisher with the author and our paths have crossed in writing circles enough to call each other friends. After reading The Seeker we eventually went on to write a book together for the series Space 1889. It says a lot of Andy's tenacity that he talked me into co-authoring. However, if a writing acquaintance pens a book that I dislike, I simply never review it. Neither do I review all the books I do like, but I keep my evaluations generally for books that speak to me on some deeper level of enjoyment that makes the book a keepsake. The Seeker, book one of four in The Garden series, is such a book.

Absorbing and satisfying is the only description that fits the gradual expansion that made every distraction in my life irritating. By the time I reached halfway I’d find myself suddenly thinking of Willem and wonder what was happening to him as if his life hadn’t ‘paused’ while the book lay shut, but continued between the closed pages. That felt unacceptable; I wanted to be reading.

Willem is both a businessman and loving uncle, with much in his life to be thankful for including a long-standing friendship with his best mate, Jake. That’s not to say that Will’s life is without stresses and seeing Jake at long last appears to be getting serious with his latest girlfriend, Will decides to take a chance and follow what began as an internet romance to its logical conclusion, to meet up with the person he’s only known online. From here what happens after Will disappears leads the reader into a clever reworking of mythology extending back to ancient Egypt. As I immersed deeper into this supernatural world that exists in the undercurrents of our own, that initial steady pace began to make sense. One needs to fully know and understand Will to make what happens to him all the more involving.

It’s been a while since I read a book where I loved almost all the characters, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ached equally for them. There is much manipulation and secretive agendas that make the line between antagonist and victim blur, as do the lines of sexuality. Although Will is gay, this is not a homosexual novel, and it would be a tremendous pity if anyone dismissed the reading of it as anything less than it is -- an engrossing narrative bringing new life to the vampire mythos that could equally interest vampire aficionados as well as those with no particular liking for the subject.

This is and isn’t a vampire book, just as it is and isn’t so many other things, but rather a satisfying blend, a commingling of old and new, the future and the past, complexities of relationships, love and hate. One is left feeling that these characters are all being moved like pawns in some great game where some fundamental rule or ‘truth’ is missing. Those who believe they are following a line of destiny are as helpless as a newly rebirthed upyr of the story. I hurt for Frederick in an almost equal way as I did Willem. In this expert way, the author humanises the villains of the piece, making the reader care even when a twinge of betrayal or guilt accompanies the feelings, for Willem remains the central pivot that wreaks havoc with the emotions, both with the other characters in the story and in turn with the person turning the pages.

Unusually for a book in a series, I have to agree with another reviewer who commented on the truly great ending, calling it both subtle and powerful. I’d like to add another word to that: perfect. It’s the perfect end at the perfect moment. I feel content enough to leave the story for now, and let the events I’ve learned so far percolate...with anticipation.

You can check out Andy's Amazon page where you will see The Seeker has two covers but this is the latest: