An Announcement Regarding Winter Smith: The Secrets of France 

Last April, I published my debut novel. That debut novel was ‘Winter Smith: London’s Burning’, and was the first in the zombie apocalypse series and world of Winter Smith…

Since April, and before April, I’ve been working away on the second instalment, and just over a year later the final draft is completed and editing is underway. 

I’ve had a cover designed, which was part of the delay, and I’ve had the proof copy sent to me ready to complete final edits and finally get my second novel published. 

All good to go, right? 

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. 

I’ve announced recently that ‘The Secrets of France’ is to be released July 18th. Cross this from your diaries. (If you added it!) 

I’m here to announce that unfortunately I have to push back the release date of this second novel. I will now be releasing ‘Winter Smith: The Secrets of France’ on August 17th 2017. 

Why? Well, life. That’s why. 

Being self published, I have to do a lot myself. I need to write, I need to edit, I need to get the cover designed out of a depleted budget. And then of course I need to market this myself, out of the budget that is barely existing. I have to book conventions to sell my novel. I have to make business cards and flyers. I have to invest in a website and work on social media presence in the lead up to my book release. Suddenly, July 18th is around the corner, and I haven’t done any build up to the release. 

I’m still only halfway through doing the final edits of The Secrets of France, and because life gets in the way – a job, two businesses and fatigue – I can only do so much. 

I want the second book to be as good as it can be. I want people to read it and love it and want more. 

So, August 17th Join me and buy yourself a copy of ‘The Secrets of France’ either in paperback or Ebook format. Pre-order on Amazon now! 

Follow the link here: Winter Smith: The Secrets of France (Winter Smith Book 2) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071998Z42/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_SlauzbW5VM36C 

Unconventional: Book Review

After reading Maggie Harcourt’s debut novel, I was keen to read more by her. The first novel, about friendship, was really relatable and heartwarming, and Maggie’s talent at writing friendships and writing fun fiction is prominent in her debut, and is still here in Unconventional. On no reflection of Maggie is my rating for Unconventional. It’s my own fault that I didn’t realise it was a romance novel until I started reading it. Personally, I’m not big on romance, so this would never be a favourite of mine.

What I did like about this book was the conventions. Being an independent author, and an all round self-confessed geek, I love conventions. I love trading at them, I love visiting them, and I love the atmosphere. I love seeing people dressed up, people enjoying life, and people joining together to enjoy what they enjoy and be themselves. Maggie captures this perfectly, and it’s great to see a team of hard working people running these conventions across the UK. And, as mentioned previously, the friendships are great and fun, and you can truly imagine those friendships are actually very real. Many people would relate to this.

Maggie’s writing is also very good. A few times I laughed, other times I smiled. It is relevant and current, and it really works.

But like I say, I didn’t particularly enjoy the romance. I never do enjoy novels that rely on romance all the way through. I find them boring – quick to say that this novel never left me feeling bored – so I don’t tend to actively read romance novels, and in this case, I found that Lexi and Aidan barely knew each other. But Lexi is convinced he knows her. Maybe it’s because she’s so young, so she gets carried away. However, saying all of this, the novel wasn’t all lovey dovey, and the parts I mostly enjoyed were the convention scenes and the stories around it, and ones that didn’t rely so heavily on Lexi and Aidan.

I think the biggest theme of this novel is fun. And I’m glad Maggie Harcourt has kept that theme running throughout. If you like fun, romance novels, then this is probably for you. Not quite for me, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Cover Reveal: Winter Smith: The Secrets of France

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I can finally reveal the cover and the title AND the release date of my second novel!

‘Winter Smith: The Secrets of France’ is a sequel to ‘Winter Smith: London’s Burning’. It follows Winter and her friends as they try to navigate the promised safety of Paris. However, they soon learn that Paris is not safe!

Here is the blurb for the second instalment, so you know what to expect:

A new world order, a city under control, and a new breed of zombie known as The Martyrs living alongside humans. France isn’t safe. It never has been.

After fleeing from London, seventeen-year-old Winter Smith and her surviving friends learn that to survive in Paris means trusting those they don’t know. An anti-government, known as The Union, are forming to take on V, a woman who has gained control of the world and has created the dead to establish a new world order.

But surviving in Paris is hard, as those who don’t conform to V’s new rules are quickly wiped out.

This not-so-typical zombie novel is the second instalment of the Winter Smith series. An action packed young adult horror that will keep you guessing, and wondering what could possibly happen next.

The second novel is released July 18th 2017. You can now pre-order the ebook! It’s available worldwide, and on the 18th it will also be available in paperback!

Make sure you get a copy, and if you haven’t read the first one, read it here.

The Launch of Strange Clothing Line

Ever since I was in college, maybe even in secondary school, I always dreamt of running my own clothing line. I wanted to sell clothing to people and have them wear my designs. For a while, I wanted to be a fully fledged fashion designer. That thought is still there.

So on May 8th, 2017, I finally realised a dream of mine and launched Strange Apparel, a clothing line for the twenty-something man – though women can usually find something stylish, too!

The launch yesterday went better than I expected. We earned a good revenue off sales, and people are genuinely interested in wearing the clothes I have up for sale.

I worked on Strange Apparel with my boyfriend, James. He’s the business numeric side of things, and I’m the creative side – though I do make some great business decisions, and he makes some great creative decisions, too!

Strange Apparel Logo

The clothing can now be found on the website, Strange Apparel. We sell t-shirts, hoodies, hats, bags and sunglasses! There will eventually be more stock added!

Make sure you get yourself a little something. Treat yourself!

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May’s Book Haul

If you’re like me and love reading, you’ll always be thinking of your next read. No doubt somewhere in your habitat you have a corner of books piling up just waiting to be read. 

I get anxious when I don’t have another book to read. Recently, reading Anne Frank’s diary properly – and not because primary school told me to – I realised halfway through I had nothing to read after this one. 

I briefly told myself I could wait, that I could take a short break from reading. Then anxiety set in and I knew I needed to order a whole load of books. 

Hence the picture above! 8 brand new books just waiting to be read by me! 

After reading Anne Frank’s diary, I decided to start with Caitlyn Jenner’s auto-biography. Controversial? Maybe. But I’m enjoying it. Plus, it’s the most recent to be published, so I thought I’d start there! 

Waiting to be read, however, is the book 13 Reasons Why. I’m afraid I had never heard of the book or author before Netflix, but I enjoyed the TV show I’m very much looking forward to reading the book, too, and seeing what’s different! 

Big Little Lies is another TV show I’ve seen people talking about. I’ve watched two episodes, and I’m beginning to hope the book is better. 

Out in the Army is a book I’m looking forward to reading. I bought it partly for research for a novel I’m planning to write, but also because I think I’d enjoy reading about someone’s experiences with their homosexuality in a career that needs men to be ‘men’. 

The other books included in my current read list are ones I’ve been eying up for a while, or ones I’ve seen raved about on my Twitter feed. I’ll keep you updated on my progress of these books! No doubt I’ll be anxious again soon when I realise I only have one or two left to read! 

Think Children’s Books Aren’t Serious? Think Again

There’s always been a certain stigma around writing children’s fiction. For many, it’s seen as an ‘easy’ way of writing, and even though many children’s books become best sellers, and many are published, there are people who don’t give those books a chance, and write them off as anything but literary. 

Despite Harry Potter becoming a world wide best seller, and breaking records that had never been broken, I am still astounded when people say it is just ‘a child’s book’.

But it seems fiction for children has a lot to be thanked for: mainly keeping the book industry earning a high revenue.

The Publishers Association has revealed that children’s books helped the UK break the record of book sales in one year. The money spent? £3.5 billion. 

And whilst many are still so certain eBooks are the future, statistics are showing otherwise. Kindle eBooks saw a fall of 3%, proving that many people prefer a paperback.

So, what are you waiting for? If you’re an author, start writing a children’s book! And if you’re a reader, take a chance on a genre you may not have given a chance.

Caitlyn Jenner’s New Book is Out. Will you be reading it?

On April 27th, Caitlyn Jenner releases her ‘tell all’ book about her life as Bruce, knowing she wanted to be Caitlyn. Like any tell all auto-biography, the content in the book is sure to get people talking, and fixate people’s thirst for gossip from someone in the Kardashian klan.

When Caitlyn first transitioned, many people questioned her authenticity. For a while, many believed it was yet another publicity stunt, organised by the momager Kris, to get ratings for their TV series and get their names in the headlines. No doubt it helped them boost their profiles, and whilst dealing with their own problems and issues with their dad of so many years Bruce becoming a woman, you knew the Kardashian’s probably knew how well this news was doing for them, career wise.

I was one of the people who believed her. And rightly so, as Caitlyn seems a lot happier these days. Changing your gender, becoming who you truly are, is a huge step. Something like this would not be a publicity stunt. For a while, there was speculation, after Bruce split from Kris and probably realised it was now or never.

But Caitlyn has met a lot of backlash, particularly in the LGBT community. Comments made by Caitlyn as she transitioned, such as ‘I don’t want to look like a man in a dress’, angered those who aren’t in possession of her wealth. For many, becoming a woman after years of being a man isn’t only difficult because of rejection, but also because of the way they look. Caitlyn debuted her look on the cover of Vanity Fair, with only hints of her former self as Bruce coming through. Her hair was long and glorious, her figure was slim and curvy, and the clothes she was wearing cost more than people’s yearly salary. I’m sure Caitlyn has had problems of her own, but she has definitely had it somewhat easier.

It also did not help that throughout the presidential election, and her TV series I Am Cait, she supported President Trump, despite his views on transgender rights and their use of public bathrooms.

Despite Caitlyn trying to get people on her side, the damage was done, and a lot of people are still not keen on embracing her into the community.

In her tell all auto-biography, which I will be buying a copy of and will soon be reviewing, Caitlyn talks about her Olympic win as Bruce, growing up and realising who she truly was, and her relationship with Kris Jenner and her children.

Even before release, it is a number one best seller on Amazon in the gay and lesbian biography books. The book, which isn’t written by Caitlyn herself, but is instead written with the help of journalist Buzz Bissinger, is causing controversy in the Kardashian klan, with Kris saying she is portrayed badly, and she is unhappy with Caitlyn’s tale of her relationship with children such as Rob Kardashian. Of course, this is an opportunity for the Kardashian klan to get their name out there once more, and to be a part of a brand new release, something they are attached to.

Like it or not, Caitlyn’s book is certainly going to be read by many. Will you be getting a copy?

Spoof Books Prove Popular at WHSmith

The popularity of spoof books have seen WHSmith’s profits rise, alongside their continuous opening of travel stores.

Whilst people begin to realise that the paperback still outsells the e-book format, one of the best selling books around are those that are published to make people smile.

Books such as ‘The Ladybird Book of the Hipster’ and Enid Blyton parody ‘Five on Brexit Island’ have seen WHSmith’s half year profits raised by 4pc.

Last year, WHSmith saw sales increase on their paperbacks when the trend for adult colouring books really took off. Many adults wanted to take part in the craze, which saw people colouring images of their favourite books and TV programmes, such as Harry Potter.

The adult versions of the ‘Ladybird book of…’ includes stories such as ‘The Hangover’, ‘The Mid-Life Crisis’ and ‘Five Give up the Booze’.

 

Girl Unknown: A Review

I love a good thriller. If there’s a premise of secrecy, lies and drama then I want to read it. So when I came across Girl Unknown by Karen Perry, I was drawn to it. 

‘I think you might be my father…’ 

That’s the line that’s meant to grip you. First year student Zoë Barry tells professor David Connolly that she’s the daughter he didn’t know he had, from a past relationship with Linda, a woman he’s never quite got over. 

When Zoë shows up, the relationship with David and Caroline is tested. Zoë soon becomes part of their lives, moving in with the family and taking centre stage, much to the annoyance of their daughter Holly. Yet Robbie, their son, takes to Zoë well. 

Set in Scotland, the family adjust to living with the new girl. But Zoë’s kindness in front of David is just a front, and when he’s not there she becomes cruel, manipulative and arrogant. 

The story goes from the view points of Caroline and David. We learn that Caroline doesn’t trust Zoë, and wants her gone, but David is glad she’s there. With a daughter from a past relationship back in his life, David begins to reflect on Linda once more. 

Unfortunately, the style of writing kept knocking me off balance. There was too much telling, and no showing. Backgrounds were explained, which is fine, but it seemed as though everything was told to us, instead of us learning it along the way. 

The writing itself, though, was good, and I liked how Perry used so many descriptive words and synonyms that impressed me. I particularly liked the part where Caroline’s anger was described as leaking alkaline. 

The characters were a little one dimensional, and the plot twist near the end was very predictable, and I had guessed it half way through. 

The novel itself isn’t really much of a thriller. It’s slow Burning and takes its time to come to a climax, but it works. 

Jack’s Chapter: My Writing


Hey there! When I started this blog, I wanted to share both reviews on books, interviews with writers and authors, and anything else involving the craft of storytelling. Another thing I wanted to share was updates on my own writing. 

April 2016, I self published my first novel! I only have one novel to my name, and it’s called ‘Winter Smith: London’s Burning’. It’s a zombie apocalypse novel based in London, and is the first in a YA thriller series of zombies and kick-ass teenagers! 

Since that release, I’ve been writing the second instalment of Wintee Smith, and I have some news on it! 

The fifth draft of the second instalment has now been sent to my proof reading friends and favourite twins, CL Raven. 


CL Raven are writers themselves, and they have a whole load more of experience than me, so I know the manuscript is in trusted hands. They also edited my first novel, and that went well enough, didn’t it?! 

Now that they have begun the edit, I get ever closer to revealing the cover – still in development – and the name! I plan to reveal the name with the cover, along with a release date, but who knows what’s going to be planned in the world of unorganised self publishing?! 

Thanks for reading guys. Keep sexy, 

J.S. Strange 

Knots & Crosses: A Review

It’s strange to think that Knots & Crosses was a novel by Ian Rankin that sort of became a mistake…

After publishing his first book, The Flood, published to little reaction, Ian began what was intended to be a reworking of Doctor Jekyl and Mr Hyde. The idea was to modernise Edinburgh, and write a story that could be understood by the readers in the 80s. What Ian was creating was a character that earned him his name, and is still going strong thirty years later. 

I decided to read Ian’s work after my own writing was compared to his. Of course, his writing is a lot better – but I take it as a compliment! 


Knots & Crosses is a dark tale of abduction and murder. Behind the picturesque history of Edinburgh, away from the lenses of the tourists, a mad man is taking girls and killing them. Whilst he is doing this, Inspector Rebus is receiving letters from an anonymous source, with knots and crosses inside. 

Rebus doesn’t give them much thought. He’s not a stereotypical investigator. He knows the abducter needs to be found, but his mind is on other things: particularly his daughter Samantha, who is living with his ex-wife. 

Rebus then meets Gill Templer, who becomes a love interest for him. And a reporter is following him the whole time, convinced he is selling drugs with a brother he barely knows. 


As you read Knots & Crosses, you can tell that Rebus was not intended to be a long standing character. Whilst he is developed, the situation seems one off-ish, and the characters don’t have much purpose, other than for the reasons of the plot. A bit of backstory is explored with Rebus and how he got his job, and also his relationship with his deceased father, but that’s about it. 

The descriptions of Edinburgh make you want to visit the sites that aren’t in the travel books. It’s nice to read a book that dates before the age of social media. 

The plot comes together when a lecturer discovers a pattern Rebus missed: the first letters of the abductees spell out a name of someone very dear to Rebus. It’s fairly obvious how the plot will develop, but it works. 

Ian Rankin’s work is something that every reader should discover at some point. I’m just glad I’ve discovered it now! I have a lot of catching up to do. 

Finding Ian Rankin

I first became aware of Ian Rankin when I released my own debut novel. ‘Winter Smith: London’s Burning’ was four years of writing, and finally, April 2016 I independently released her to the world. 

Since April, only a hand full of people have read London’s Burning. Those people are the best people on earth, obviously. The zombie apocalypse novel I put everything into is hardly tearing up the charts, though it did get to number 2 in the best LGBT fiction category on Amazon! But amongst the reviews for Winter came a comment that got me interested: ‘Your writing reminded me of earlier Ian Rankin works.’ 

Now, I cringe whenever I see an author compare themselves to someone else. I don’t do it for a few reasons, one of which being my own self doubt in what others would call my talent. And also, I think comparing yourself to someone else is a bad move. Every writer is individual. Aspire to be, yes, but do not copy. 

But out of curiosity, I wanted to see if I could see any of my own writing in Ian’s work. I wanted to see if this one person out of the hand full was simply flattering me, or telling the truth. 

So I introduced myself to the world of Rebus, who apparently is quite a big deal?! I’ve missed out on years of this Edinburgh detective, and I’ve got to ask myself why. After reading the first novel, Knots & Crosses, I’ve decided my work is nothing like Ian’s. He’s so much better! (I know, I should be selling you my indie novel, shouldn’t I?) 

Ian’s writing is intriguing, interesting and informative. There’s some personality in this early book. Ian himself was quite young when writing it. 

The copy of the book I have included information on Ian himself, and I found him very endearing. For an aspiring author like myself, a young lad wanting to write and get out of this small Welsh town, he becomes an inspiration. 

I will soon be posting a review of Knots & Crosses, but I thought I’d marvel a little bit on a great writer I’m only now discovering! 

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