My favourite fictional heroines: Guest post by YA author, Louise Nicks

My favourite fictional heroines: Guest post by YA author, Louise Nicks

Welcome Louise Nicks, YA author of Soren: The Angel & The Prize Fighter. Thank you for being here.

My Favourite Fictional Heroines

The way JK Rowling wrote females cemented my love of the Harry Potter series. In all of their guises, from wallflower to know-it-all to mother hen to loveable oddball to grade-a villain, each female shared the same characteristic: strength. Whether that was a quiet, unassuming strength or a power that could raise the roof, snap wands, and thwart killing curses, the females in Harry Potter held their own. Strength is a quality I hanker for in all fictional heroines, and it’s the backbone of each featured below. From girls who fight a silent battle to save their loved ones, to those who slay dragons because they know it’s their destiny to do so even when everyone else says “No”, these heroines are strong enough to never give up on their dreams. That’s a worthy lesson because if we did give up, what magic would be left?

Aerin ‘Dragon Killer’

The quiet rebel, Aerin from The Hero and The Crown (Robin McKinley) will always have a special place in my heart. Demonstrating remarkable levels of self-belief, courage and endurance, Aerin manifested her destiny in an extraordinary way to become a dragon slayer. Finally becoming what she could always feel burning bright inside, even when her family and those at court (her dad is the king) didn’t believe in her, was such a powerful book moment. Aerin taught me that it doesn’t matter how big your dream, or how unattainable your destiny seems, we each have the power to get what we want – to become the person we are meant to be – if only we believe.

 Lyra ‘Silvertongue’ Belacqua

Unruly, stubborn, deceitful and reckless, Lyra isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but admiration is due for the perilous journey she undertakes to fulfil her destiny in His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman). Lyra is a superb example of how a character grows throughout a series yet still holds on to those fiery sparks that were her calling cards to begin with. For all of her more prickly traits, she is also resourceful, quick-witted and fearless. Her scowl is legend and I love how she kept pushing herself to the max throughout her journey, making difficult choices to reach that bittersweet ending.

 Jo March

Many of the female characters in Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) were strong in their own ways, especially gentle, selfless Beth. Jo stood out the most for me because of how she flew in the face of what women were supposed to act, think and dress like at the time. Intelligent and talented, though incredibly hot-headed, Jo was a breath of fresh air amongst all the flouncy dresses and white glove fanning. A writer who took the gargantuan step of moving out of her beloved family home to pursue a career in New York City, Jo was gutsy and learned from her mistakes to build the future she wanted.

 Cammie Morgan

The main character in Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series, Cammie ‘the chameleon’ is another heroine was makes mistakes then recognises the lessons learned. Attending a prestigious spy school run by her accomplished mother, Cammie has a lot to deal with: living up to her mother’s respected spy reputation, juggling intense studies with friends and a secret boyfriend, and figuring out who she is independent of all that. In the beginning Cammie practises the art of blending in to become almost invisible (figuratively speaking). Her character develops over time so that not only is Cammie unafraid to be seen, she also has the understanding to attain her dreams and make herself proud.

Beau Tolson

The great thing about writing my own book is that I can create female characters who I would love to read about. My favourite from Soren is Beau. A tough teen who has encountered much heartbreak in her life, she turns to illegal prize fighting to raise money to buy the only drug that can keep her terminally ill mother alive. Beau is hot-headed, like Jo March, and is also learning how to control her anger. Courageous and compassionate yet often vulnerable and confused, it’s joyful to write a character who has issues coupled with bags of inner strength and an innate drive to overcome.

Louise Nicks is the author of Soren: The Angel & The Prize Fighter, to be released as an ebook on June 16, 2014, via Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo and other platforms.

Where to buy Soren: The Angel & The Prize Fighter:Soren
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Author bio

Louise NicksLouise Nicks is a UK based debut author writing paranormal fantasy romance with a strong adventure twist. Her debut novel, Soren: The Angel & The Prize Fighter (to be released June 16, 2014), is book one in a planned series. Louise is also a short story writer and is currently working on a collection of teen paranormal stories called The Crypt (a tie-in with Soren), which will be released this autumn. When not writing YA fiction, Louise works (under a different name) as a freelance music journalist, features writer and online editor. Since starting her own music fanzine in her teens, she has been lucky enough to interview artists such as Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Slash, Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), Newton Faulkner, Biffy Clyro and many more. Aside from hopefully one day being able to make a living full time from books, Louise’s dream is to interview her favourite band AC/DC. An ardent charity supporter, Louise has taken part in many petitions and campaigns for human rights, animal welfare, and the preservation of the natural world, and continues to do so.

Links to Louise Nicks

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Soren: The Angel & The Prize Fighter synopsis

‘The world has never been an easy place for impoverished teen Beau Tolson, but from the moment her sick mother is given months to live, Beau’s life takes an extraordinary turn. In order to buy the only drug that can now keep her beloved mother alive, 16 year old martial arts champion Beau resorts to illegal prize fighting at East London’s most notorious underworld lair. But that’s only the beginning of her troubles. When some of her closest friends start acting weird, and a mystifying new boy turns up outside the school gates, Beau is told a life-changing secret…That not only are some of her friends angels, but that she is going to become an angel too. It isn’t long before she finds herself torn between the divine and this world; between her responsibilities and the colossal destiny that awaits. Little do any of them know that a sect of ex-angels have also come to Earth, planning on kidnapping Beau for the very same reasons the angels want her: to fulfill a prophecy that involves this world and theirs, and who will rule it all until the end of time.’

We moved to Egypt! Guest post by Kimberly Loth, author of ‘Kissed’

We moved to Egypt! Guest post by Kimberly Loth, author of ‘Kissed’

Introducing author Kimberly Loth (see my review on her book here). Thank you so much for writing a guest post on my blog!

Sue, thank you for having me today. The last few weeks have been crazy busy with the launch of my first book, Kissed, and I’m so pleased with the way things are going. There are a lot of different things that I could talk about today, but I thought I’d let you in a secret. One that even my mother doesn’t believe.

I live in Egypt (nope, not the secret, everyone already knows that.) I moved here last August. If you follow the news at all you know that in August the military got sick of protesters camping out in the street, warned them a dozen times to get out, and they didn’t listen. They forcibly removed them. Over five hundred people died. A curfew was instated. No one was allowed of the house after 7 pm. This all happened two days before my flight was scheduled to leave for Egypt.

I called my mother from the plane.

“You’re really going?” she asked.

“Yep, you want to talk to the kids?”

She did talk to the kids and I kept my conversation short with her. I didn’t want to hear “You’re crazy” again. Off I went on a two-year adventure with my husband and two middle schoolers. I’m a teacher and decided to try my hat at teaching in an American school in a different country. Was it hard when I arrived? Absolutely.  But I’ve loved every single crazy minute of it. And in spite of what my family thought would befall me when I arrived, everyone is still alive.

You want to know the secret?  In spite of everything you might’ve have heard on the media, Egypt is safe. Never once have I felt threatened. (Okay so every time I get into a cab I think the driver is going to kill me with his driving, but I’ve grown used to that.)

Kimberly Loth and her family

Kimberly Loth and her family

The curfew passed, the streets calmed, and life is normal. We’ve seen the pyramids, cave churches, and swam in the Red Sea. These are experiences of a lifetime for my family. If you’ve ever thought of visiting Egypt, now is the time. There are no tourists. You get whole pyramids and beaches to yourself.

Living in a foreign country has been an amazing experience. True, I have to go to four different grocery stores to find everything I need for dinner, but I can walk to all of them. My commute is 45 minutes in stop and go traffic everyday, but I use that time to write. One thing I didn’t expect in Egypt was all the green. I thought I was coming to a desert. But I look off my balcony window and all I see is green and a multitude of floral colors. Every month a different tree is blooming a different color. Right now it’s bright red. Last month it was purple.

When my two years are up here, I’m not going back to the states. I’m heading to another new and exciting country. We asked the kids last night during dinner if we could extend our contract if they wanted to stay. At first they said “yes,” but as dinner wore on I could tell they were both faltering. Finally, my daughter said, “But that means we won’t get to go someplace new.” Then they both shook their heads. We wont’ be staying more than two years. I highly recommend overseas living. The experience is worth it.

About Kimberly Loth:

Kimberly Loth can’t decide where she wants to settle down. She’s lived in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, California, Oregon, and South Carolina. She finally decided to make the leap and leave the U.S. behind for a few years. Currently, she lives in Cairo, Egypt with her husband and two kids.

She is a high school math teacher by day (please don’t hold that against her) and YA author by night. She loves romantic movies, chocolate, roses, and crazy adventures. Kissed is her first novel.

Twitter: @kimberlyloth

 About Kissed:

Trapped in a dark cult, sixteen-year-old Naomi Aren has lived a quiet, albeit unhappy, life nestled deep in the hills of the Ozarks. With uncut hair, denim skirts, and only roses for friends, Naomi seldom questions why her life is different from other kids at school. Until the day her abusive father, who is also the cult’s leader, announces her wedding. Naomi must marry Dwayne Yerdin, a bully who reeks of sweat and manure and is the only one person who scares her worse than her father.

Then she meets Kai, the mysterious boy who brings her exotic new roses and stolen midnight kisses. Kisses that bring her a supernatural strength she never knew she had. As the big day approaches, Naomi unearths more secrets of about her father’s cult. She learns she has power of her own and while Kai may have awakened that power, Naomi must find a way to use it to escape Dwayne and her father—without destroying herself.

Buy the book here:


The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

The Elephant Whisperer crop

The Elephant Whisperer is a book close to my heart. Although I did not have the privilege of meeting Lawrence Anthony, whose courage and respect for nature is legendary, his game reserve is just a couple of hours drive away from my home.

The elephants, the heroes of this story, show remarkable intelligence, resilience and loyalty. They prove, yet again, that man is arrogant to believe he is superior to animals. Respect.

The Elephant Whisperer is one of those books that will remain in your heart forever.5 Star

The Elephant Whisperer
Lawrence Anthony
Co-Author: Graham Spence
Publication Date: 7 May 2010The Elephant Whisperer
First Published:  1 January 2009
Publisher: Pan Publishing
Source: Purchased

Buy this book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Book Depository

Add to your shelf:


When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of ‘rogue’ elephants on his reserve at Thula Thula, his commonsense told him to refuse. But he was the herd’s last chance of survival – notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn’t take them. He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarch and her baby were shot. The remaining elephants were traumatised and very angry. As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape…

As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the elephants and save them from execution, he came to realise that they had a lot to teach him about love, loyalty and freedom.
— Extract from


This article (link below), published this week in our local paper, tells of the elephants annual pilgrimage to Lawrence Anthony’s home to pay their respects on the anniversary of his untimely death two years ago.

Read article here:  Elephants commemorate late conservation hero


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Being an Indie Author in South Africa by Rachel Morgan

Being an Indie Author in South Africa by Rachel Morgan

Introducing  author Rachel Morgan (see my review on her book here). Thank you so much for agreeing to write a guest post on my blog!

Creepy Hollow

Being an Indie Author in South Africa

Self-publishing has taken off in a BIG way overseas, due mostly to the ebook revolution. If you have any interest in the publishing world, you’ll have heard of names like Amanda HockingJ.A. Konrath, and Hugh Howey (and there are loads more!). But what about here in South Africa? What does it mean to choose the self-publishing route?

As a South African author who’s chosen to go independent, let me share a little of my experience …

Amazon is great but FAR away!

Amazon is the biggest player on the board, so after deciding to self-publish my books, it was only natural that I’d upload my works to Amazon before looking anywhere else. When it comes to ebooks, it doesn’t matter how far away Amazon is. Having internet means that no matter where you are in the world, purchasing an ebook is little more than one click away. When it comes to print books, however, Amazon isn’t quite as convenient for the South African author. Yes, using Amazon’s print-on-demand service, CreateSpace, is easy and inexpensive (free, if you take care of the cover and formatting yourself). Printing a single copy of my first book, The Faerie Guardian, currently costs $4,42. That’s cheap! To get a unit price that low from my local printer, I’d have to order at least 200 copies, possibly more! So that’s a plus for Amazon. BUT the problem comes in when I want to have that book (or several books) sent to South Africa. To deliver one book to South Africa, the shipping cost is $11. And the book will only arrive on 15th APRIL if I order today! APRIL, for goodness’ sake! The earliest I can get the book delivered here is 7th March, but then I have to pay $46! Now let’s just say I want to order, say, 30 copies to do a book launch and signing. Can you imagine the cost?!

Bottom line: Amazon’s CreateSpace is awesome if you’re an author based in the US (and I do use them to get my print book listed on Amazon so that international customers can easily purchase it). Otherwise, I recommend Mega Digital if you’re a South African author looking for a good local printer.

Getting paid by cheque

Amazon won’t pay into South African bank accounts. Full stop. They also do not use PayPal. This means that South African indie authors are stuck waiting for Amazon to send cheques. Cheques are made out in a foreign currency, which means when we cash them, we have to pay sizeable foreign exchange fees. Sure, if the cheque is enormous, it’s not a big deal (I can keep dreaming, right?!), but for the very first cheque I cashed, the fee worked out to be more than 10% of the value of the cheque!

The mission of getting an ITIN

Amazon automatically deducts 30% of an author’s royalties for tax. If you don’t want this to happen (because you’re technically supposed to pay tax in the country where the work was produced, and because the US has a tax treaty with South Africa), you need to apply for an ITIN number. This was a mission that involved me driving into scary parts of the center of town to find the US embassy so that I could get a US notary to notarise a copy of my passport. I then had to send that off with forms to the IRS and wait a number of weeks for my ITIN number to be sent to me. And then there were more forms to send to Amazon and Smashwords and CreateSpace …

Bottom line: MISSION! (But worth it.)

 Print distribution is tough

You can’t simply walk into Exclusive Books and say, “Will you please put a few copies of my book on your shelf?” They work with approved distributors, which means I’d have to approach those distributors. The distributor wants to make money, Exclusive Books wants to make money, and it would be nice if I could also get paid a bit for the books I spent many months slaving over! And that all results in a book that is just too expensive for the average browser to think about buying.

Bottom line: I’m still investigating options for print distribution in South Africa…

It can be a little “lonely”

There are other South African indie authors out there. I know there are. But they’re difficult to come across because there aren’t nearly as many of them here as there are overseas. I see all the many, many authors I interact with online meeting up with each other, going to conferences, attending and hosting workshops … and it feels a little lonely to be on this side of the world. (But that will be changing soon, thanks to the efforts of the lovely Carlyle Labuschagne and the upcoming SA Indies Rock Book Festival!)

Readers love a good book, no matter how it’s published

I’ve visited a number of schools, and I’ve chatted to many teen readers, and it doesn’t matter to them who published my books. They don’t care if it went through a Big Five publisher, a small publisher, or whether I produced the interior format myself (which is exactly what happened). All they care about is whether they like it or not and where they can get copies for themselves.

Bottom line: WRITE A REALLY GOOD BOOK! That’s the most important thing!

Thank you so much, Sue, for hosting me today and allowing me to share my indie author experience with your readers 🙂

A little bit about Rachel …

Rachel MorganRachel Morgan was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. After completing a degree in genetics, she decided science wasn’t for her—after all, they didn’t approve of made-up facts. These days she spends much of her time immersed in fantasy land once more, writing fiction for young adults. She is the author of the Amazon bestselling YA fantasy series, Creepy Hollow.
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