Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Dusty Pages Review: Whisper My Name

Since she was twelve, Meriel Garland has lived with her grandfather in London, exiled from her beloved India following the death of her mother. Now sixteen, Meriel chafes against the strict regime of tests and study that her grandfather imposes on her. Escaping, she discovers a world outside her narrow existence – one that promises admiration for her acting skills, social success and the dark mysteries of séances. Disbelieving at first, she is drawn in when the young medium Sophie Casson passes on a message apparently from beyond the grave – and Meriel begins to suspect she might not be alone in the world after all. In searching for the truth about her past, Meriel uncovers a sinister scheme – and soon it’s hard to know who she can really trust . . .
This is a well written, delightful if somewhat predictable young adult read. I say young adult though I would be happy to pass this to anyone ages nine or up. Its got a little bit of everything you'd expect in a historical based novel, a forbidden love match, the cold unfeeling father who forbade it, the child of that union, tragedy, school rooms, governesses, strict rules and daring adventures. It won't disappoint if you don't hold your expectations too high.

When I first picked it up, I thought it was a ghost story. However, it couldn't be further from a ghost story if it tried. Yes, there are parts about mediums and seances, but its a bare minimum to drive the plot forward to what is really going on in Meriel's world. I do give the author points for using a name that I hadn't heard of before - darned if I can pronounce it correctly - but its a pleasant name, even if the character is some what petulant and selfish during most of the book.

I can summarise my feeling about the book quite simply as, it's enough to make me read something else by the author but not to keep this book in my permanent collection.

I give it

Monday, 29 January 2018

Measuring Success

How does an Indie author/self published author measure how successful they are? I was recently reading some blog posts from an agent about trying to transition from self publishing into traditional publishing.

One of the main things he highlighted is that you have to prove to whoever you're submitting to, whether it be an agent or a publisher, that you can prove you are successful at marketing your book. He also went on to say that success means different things to different people but never was it mentioned what the industry considers success.

I am left assuming that its a money/sales issue. Even here different people set different goals for themselves and what one person considers success another might consider failure. There are some authors that no matter how much they gross never feel like a success. I remember when Mistakenly Mated grossed over 400 units in a month, it was more than I'd ever expected, and I thought it was success. Nothing since then has ever come close to that.

Recently I've been thinking about taking my book Soul Market and giving traditional publishing another shot. I thought it did well for a first novel (164 in the five years I was able to keep track of sales) and its average rating on Goodreads is 4.16 out of 5. However, due to complications with my (now ex) Indie Publisher, I lost track of royalty reports - sometimes because they never came and I never seemed to see any marketing for my titles that I did not myself produce. I never saw a review for my book that I did not myself solicit. I have done what I can with my budget and working a 40 hours week at a regular job on top of that.

However statements like that scare me. Does what I consider good cut the mustard with traditional publishing? Would they take into consideration effort made as well as result or is result all that matters? I question whether it would be better to keep self publishing where the rewards will be more when sales do roll in though the burdens are also all mine. Still I am left with the question, what are the right steps to becoming a success?

For anyone who considers being an author easy because platforms like Amazon have made it a simpler, easy click process have to understand it is little different than starting your own business. A lot of small business fail because the profits do not match the overhead. I want to keep writing because it is something that I love to do, I don't think I would ever stop but however stopping publishing my work might become a reality. I am woefully out of touch with the Indie side of things as I put all my eggs into one basket with Eternal Press - and now deeply regret it as I don't know what other Indie houses are out there and am scared of facing a repeat experience of what I've just endured.

As always comments, questions and advice are welcome in the comment section below.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Dusty Pages Review: One of Us is Lying

Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.
Sports star Cooper only knows what he's doing in the baseball diamond.
Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.
Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.
And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won't ever talk about any of them again.
He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it's no accident. All of them are suspects.
Everyone has secrets, right?
What really matters is how far you'll go to protect them.
When I picked this up, my first thoughts were it was like the Breakfast Club but with a murder. Although it started off along those lines, it evolved into one of the best teen stories I have read in a long time. We all know the characters, in our school we could have named the Bronwyn, the Cooper, the bad boy Nate and an Addy. We could also tell you which one we were in the quartet of characters who are first witnesses and then suspects in the death of their classmates. The pace of the book was good, the story never lagged or went off on tangents always keeping you right in the action of the story.

Chapters alternate between the four main characters, so you get to experience the whole situation from a variety of views, what each of them are going through as the media close in, the police struggle to get to the bottom of things, and their class mates turn on them as suspicions and their secrets come to light. It drives the four of them closer together as they try to work out who they can trust and what really happened in the classroom that day.

This book also for me holds a scathing comment on teen social circles and the dangers of social media. How heartless people can be with the anonymous nature of the internet. Blogging has never looked more dangerous and the nature of the human fascination with gossip and malicious gossip. I felt for each of the characters as they learned who their real friends were and who would stand by them as the truth came to light. The only downside of the book was that I had worked out what had actually happened by about a third of the way through.

I give it

Monday, 22 January 2018

Meet a Writer Monday Presents...

...Claire Buss

1. Tell me about your book The Rose Thief and where you got your inspiration for it?

The Rose Thief is a humorous fantasy set in a fictional world where magic exists and people live alongside fae creatures. Someone has been stealing the Emperor's roses. The only trouble is that the red rose has been magically imbued with love so if it's removed from the rose garden, love will be lost to everyone. It's up to Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher and his motley crew of catchers to find out who the Rose Thief is and stop them. Things don't go smoothly and they end up on a quest to solve the crime and defeat the bad guy. I have always loved reading fantasy books, especially the Discworld series by the late Sir Terry Pratchett and I was inspired to start writing this book during NaNoWriMo in 2016. I had so much fun writing this book, I can't wait to write more in this world.

2. What are the top three books in your TBR pile?

This is a tough one because I have 4306 books in my TBR pile *blushes* but I am determined to read these 3 this year:

1) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

2) The Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

3) A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

3. What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

I used to write all the time as a child but when I hit my late teens, life took over and I started working full time and stopped writing for a long time. It wasn't until I joined a local writing workshop in 2015 that I really got back into writing. That led me to the Pen to Print competition through which I wrote my debut novel, The Gaia Effect. These days I try to make sure I write every day whether it's a short flash fiction, continuation of a longer piece or time spent editing. If I can get up in the morning and get at least an hour done then I feel like I've managed something.

4. Mountains or the beach?

I am just about to move to the seaside so I guess I'd have to say beach, although I am not a big fan of baking hot weather lol. I do love spending time in nature so as long as I get to visit those mountains from time to time, I reckon I'll be alright.

5. What do you think Victoria’s secret is?

Victoria's secret is how to get a normal shaped bottom into those tiny little scraps of material she calls knickers. Just because I enjoy a cake from time to time...

6. What is your best childhood memory?

My best childhood memory is spending holidays with my grandparents on their farm in the middle of nowhere in Wales. We would have early morning cups of tea & secret biscuits - don't tell Mum! They had an Aga so the kitchen was always warm and inviting and my Nana was a wonderful cook, she made everything from scratch and there was always cake in the tin. My Grandad would read books to me, doing all the voices, and we'd snuggle down in the sofa with the real coal fire, wonderful memories.

7. What motivates you to succeed as a writer?

I enjoy writing. I love being distracted by random ideas and getting excited about where the story could take me. I love talking books with other people and getting away from everything by adventuring in my imagination. I want to give people stories they enjoy reading, encourage people to remember their love of books and most of all I want to keep doing something I love for as long as possible.

8. How would you survive a Zombie apocalypse?

I would definitely rely on my husband. He is a big zombie movie/tv show fan so he's done all the research on how best to survive. He already has a few gadgets like a special fire starter stick and we had a discussion the other day about how much fun (!) it would be to do a wilderness survival trip with Bear Grylls. Having said all that, I am a Mum so I'd like to think I'd fight like a wild cat to keep my kids safe.

9. What makes you cry?

All kinds of things! A soppy movie, a beloved character dying in a book, hearing about the nasty things that happen in the world, stubbing my toe, my husband eating the last chocolate digestive. I'm probably a bit of a wet lettuce to be honest.

10. Do you think the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

I think covers play a huge part in the buying process. I often choose books I've never heard of based on their covers, sometimes even without checking the blurb on the back. If the cover doesn't catch my eye then I'm never going to look at the back so unfortunately I'm afraid I do judge books by their cover, if I'm browsing in a book shop or library that is. If you recommend something to me then I'll take it on faith that you think it's good and that I'll enjoy it.

11. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion of a book, there are plenty of different books available so there should be something for everyone. Constructive reviews are helpful to an author as they highlight negative aspects a reader has come across that the writer may decide to work on in the future. However saying a book is awful and giving no reason why isn't very helpful at all. It's important to have a thick skin when reading reviews because you are bound to get negative ones. You can't please everyone all the time.

12. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? 

My characters are definitely in charge. I have no idea what the story is going to be when I sit down and write. I am just the conduit from sub-conscious to fingertips on the keyboard and often I am surprised at the twists and turns in the story. I don't plan my novels, I prefer to see what happens naturally. Often that means there are big changes in the latter half that have to be explained at the beginning or we end up with lots of plot holes but that's what editing is for.

13. Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my books and write a review telling me what they think. It is lovely to know that I've been able to entertain people and give them an enjoyable book. I hope they stay with me on this exciting writing journey.

14. Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

My day job is a stay-at-home mum and housewife so it can be difficult to juggle quality time to sit down and write, that's why I try to get a good hour in first thing in the morning. The important thing is to do as much as you can each day and not beat yourself up if you don't manage to tick off every single thing on your to-do list. Having a diary to write reminders in and having some sort of routine certainly helps. Cups of tea and biscuits are good too.


Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor's roses. But that's not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It's up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn't exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. What could possibly go wrong?


About Claire

Claire Buss is a science fiction, fantasy & contemporary writer based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 setting her writing career in motion. The Gaia Effect, the winner of the Favourite Fantasy/Sci-Fi book Raven Award, was published in 2016 and Tales from Suburbia in 2017. Her latest fantasy novel, The Rose Thief, was published November 2017.





Friday, 19 January 2018

Guest Posts

Got something to say? Then why not say it here.

Dusty Pages is looking for some writers to do Guest Posts on Fridays. They can be about anything you like, but I'd especially love posts about writing or reading.

Why post here instead of on your own blog? Simple. New viewers. Getting them is extremely hard and it helps to take a spot on another persons in order to reach new audiences.

What other benefits are there? If your a writer with a book coming out the same applies. A spot on my blog will open you up to new readers and in turn, any readers that follow you to my blog will learn about me as well. Its win win.

What's the catch? No catch. It's 100% free. I like helping out other writers and if in turn they wish to help me out further down the line, I won't say no.

Requirements: One ready made Blog post. One 3rd Person one paragraph Bio. An image - be it of you or your favourite avatar. Your social media links - we want readers to be able to track you back to where you live on the net. If you're a writer with a book - you can include a book cover and a teaser blurb.

To apply: Applicants are welcome to use the Contact me form on this blog or email me directly at

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Dusty Pages Review: The Miniaturist

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .
Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

 I picked up this book after watching the BBC adaptation that was televised over the Christmas period hoping that there would be more to the book and the ending would be more satisfying than how the two episode mini series left off. I was sadly disappointed. Though it was nice to see that an adaptation had kept so closely to the original material, I was still left unsatisfied with the ending. So much had happened over the course of the book, you are left wondering what happens to the characters next, how do they survive the tragedy but my questions were left unanswered.

However, despite this, the book is a very enjoyable read. I liked the story a great deal, the characters were engaging and I can see exactly why it ended up on the best sellers list for so long. The setting is wonderfully described and the mystery that the miniaturist presents is intriguing. Poor Nella has so many things to deal with at such a young age that you wonder how she copes. She at times seems more modern a woman than the setting and times in which she lives. I find this a common thing in historically themed novels as we cannot truly know how any person in bygone times would have reacted to the situations the authors imagination presents.

I was left wanting more, which can be viewed as both a good and a bad thing. Good because it shows how well written a book it is but bad because there doesn't seem to be any sign that the story will continue and we will ever know what happens to the remaining cast of characters.

I give it

Monday, 15 January 2018

New Year, New Me BS

Every year you see a slew of these posts on social media and the like. New Year's Resolutions. About being nicer to people. Drinking Less. Losing Weight. Losing people who made last year hell. Promising ourselves this year will be our year and that we will be better.

Bull Shit!

I never make New Year resolutions. Simply because I know myself well enough to know that I will not keep to them. I've stopped tricking myself into believing that at my age I can change the way I do things. I may be stuck in a routine but I'm comfortable there. I like doing things the way I do them and, most of the time, I like who I am.

Around about half the women I know are now saying "Right. Christmas is over. Back on the diet." I watch them, and the absolute misery they put themselves through trying to get to what the media tells them is the desired body shape. I would rather spend a year eating what makes me happy rather than spending a year making myself miserable over not being able to eat anything. By the by, half of them won't last a week without a cookie. lol.

I could set myself writing goals for the year and I sort of do but I leave them very loose and very flexible because I don't want to find myself not achieving them. Life has this inevitable ability to get in the way. I'd hate to say to fans, such and such book will be out in May - giving me four months to write it and then find that come the end of April the book is only half finished or not of the quality I would like and having to put back release.

I know there are projects I am looking to work on this year but now without even a small press publisher behind me, its more of an uphill battle. Its not just getting the writing done but then its editing and formatting the book. Finding money for cover art. Publishing the book. Getting the print book available. Marketing. When you spend time trying to concentrate on getting sales so you have money to produce the next book, you struggle to find the time to write it. Having deadlines just adds more pressure that I don't need, so I don't do it to myself.

I strive yearly to be the best person I can anyway. Not because it was something I promised myself when I was too drunk after the music and fireworks were over.