I'm going to start out by mentioning the really exciting news: The New Empire received another 5-star review, this time from Readers' Favorite Awards. The reviewer really enjoyed it and wrote a completely glowing review that made me blush:
"Author Alison McBain perfectly captures the spirit of the historical novel with such credibility, atmosphere, and detail that I can readily imagine the alternate universe where this history is playing out right now. I was absolutely fascinated by the tribal confederacies and the way that the settlers divided the land and governmental systems. I also especially enjoyed the unique relationship that develops between Jiangxi and Onas, which took turns I wasn’t expecting and played out in a suitably Dickensian fashion for the era, but without glossing over all the gory, difficult details of the reality of the life that starts with slavery. McBain delivers a sensitively portrayed clash of cultures that never relies on stereotypes but is based on the very plausible and dangerous reactions of humans who find themselves in total control of others, and that is what makes the work so believable and thrilling at its core. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend The New Empire to alternative history readers everywhere for its accomplished concept and no-holds-barred storytelling style."
I'm so thrilled - it's wonderful to get such great feedback! I also got a lovely review on Wildwood Reads, and she mentioned: "The premise for The New Empire was so intriguing to me, and it was executed quite well. ... McBain brought her world to life while still respecting the history that was already established."
I haven't been doing much new writing lately except on Vocal.media, which you can check out HERE. I've been equally surprised and thrilled that my poems and essays there have won/been honorable mentions in a couple of the contests Vocal runs, so I'm glad I'm still keeping my writing brain active. Sometimes when I'm doing too much other stuff, such as editing clients' books or building websites or doing book cover design, I wonder if I'm still able to write. While part of my process is "binge writing" - such as writing a whole book in 2-3 months, which turns your brain to mush - and having long stretches in between where I don't write at all, every time I pick up the pen again, I wonder... have I lost the touch?
That might be the imposter syndrome that many writers always talk about - I know I have it in spades, especially after I win an award. I want to look behind me and say, "Who are you giving that thing to... me?" I'm sure if you ask any big name author (not that I'm saying I'm a big name author, since I'm NOT), they'll tell you that they still sometimes stop and think, "Have I got the magic? Can I duplicate that success?"
WELL, Stephen King - what say you? Do YOU ever feel like that?
Anyways, I guess I DO still have what it takes, although I'm getting a bit itchy because I haven't been writing too much recently. I think it might be time for a good ol' fashioned word binge. I have two books I should be working on right now - the sequel to my first novel and a paranormal romance called Giving Up the Ghost. Perhaps I'll have some news about one or the other of them soon.
Until then, wishing everyone a happy February coming up, perhaps filled with groundhogs and sweethearts (although hopefully not both at once).
I'm so excited to announce that my chat on Indie Book Talk podcast is live today - I had a wonderful time talking to the hosts, Emma G. Rose and Shelley Shearer, about my recent experience winning the When Words Count Pitch Week contest, writing my just-released novel The New Empire, and all the many aspects of publishing and editing I've been up to over the years. Also, I have a bit of advice for writers just starting out - so be sure not to miss it!
I think I'm still in a retrospective mood as we dive into January of this new year. It's been such a wild ride since I first dipped my toes into the writing world. It's hard to believe my 3rd book is now out in print, and even harder to believe that I get to do what I love to do every day - work with authors in helping their dreams come true and get published, just like I did.
Do you ever stop and look back at the last few years (I won't say EXACTLY how many it's been, but it's been more than a few) and think, "Wow, I've come so far?" In the day-to-day slog, there will be moments of triumph and failure, but after a while, those moments add up. You won't necessarily remember your first 1,000 rejections, LOL, but you WILL remember your first acceptance.
So keep on truckin' if you want to be a writer - keep writing, keep sending your work out to magazines, agents, publishers, contests, and anywhere that'll take it. Push hard for yourself because YOU know you have great stories to tell. And if you keep on putting yourself out there, others will start to learn that your stories are pretty great too.
I'm so thankful to my many friends and family members who have helped me come this far, and I'm looking forward to the next few (hopefully more than a few) years and books that are still ahead.
Holy moly, I'm so thrilled to end my year with a 5-star book review from Readers' Choice Book Awards! They said it was "Highly Recommended" and noted:
Wow! What a finale to a year that really was jam-packed with a lot of amazing things.
1) Kids went back to in-person school in January after homeschooling for a year during the pandemic.
2) Sold house in Fairfield, Connecticut amidst lots of nail-biting moments and lots of painting.
3) Moved to Alberta by packing up the car and spending 2 weeks driving across Canada to our new home (yes, I must have been insane to cage myself into the tiny space of a minivan with 3 kids for 2 weeks).
4) Got to our new place with... no furniture. Yep, the furniture arrived about a month after us when it was supposed to come the day after we arrived. We lived very Zen for a while.
5) Unpacked, set up house, and, in the midst of this, my new book came out. Flew back to Connecticut for the book release and to do a few events.
6) Drove back to Alberta in my second cross-Canada trip of the year. Got delayed only a little bit by snow, but it was a very "eek" moment. (Those who know me know I HATE driving in snow. Hibernation in winter is the name of the game).
7) Arrived back home only to vow never to leave again... until the next time, that is.
8) Welcomed my girls' grandparents to visit us for the month of December and the holidays.
9) Santa brought my girls the CUTEST KITTEN EVER (see pic). And that brings us to...
...TODAY, and New Year's Eve eve, the day before the last day of the year.
So I hope that everyone out there had an equally enjoyable year - perhaps not as eventful as ours, but good nonetheless. I'm very excited to see what this new year brings, and I wish you all a fun and merry New Year's Eve.
I recently joined the website BookBub, which is a great place for getting book deals from your favorite authors - you follow the authors you like and get notified on the site about when they're running sales on their books.
So if you enjoy my writing and would like to know when I'm next doing a promotion, just follow me on Bookbub for free. I'll be running several promotions over the course of 2023, especially when I have new books coming out.
I also have some fab news - a creative nonfiction piece of mine recently received 2nd place in a contest on the writing site Vocal - you can read my winning story "Life, Death & Football" for free on their website.
Wishing everyone a happy holiday season. See you in the new year!
I feel like I'm saying this every time I write a post, but oh my goodness, there's so much going on right now in writerly news!
I don't know if it's live, but TONIGHT at 7:30pm EST, I will be chatting with the fabulous Emma G. Rose and Shelley Shearer on the Indie Book Talk Podcast. You can catch the show on their website OR if you'd like to see our lovely faces, you can see us on their YouTube channel.
Then, on Friday, December 2nd, you can catch me reading live at FBomb online at 6pm EST, hosted by author extraordinaire Paul Beckman - if you'd like the Zoom link to catch the show with all the readers this Friday, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send it to you.
Speaking of podcasts, you can also catch me on The Authors Show on Tuesday, December 6th, where I'll be talking about my just-released book The New Empire - what it's about, how I researched it, how to get it, and an excerpt from it.
So there's a lot of things going on as we slide into December and the holiday season - should be a great end to the year!
Hope everyone is having a good week in the lead-up to the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA. Happy holidays to those who celebrate, and wishing a happy week for everyone!
If it's November, that means... NaNoWriMo! For those who don't know, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's a worldwide endeavor where writers attempt to write 50,000 words in a month. My latest book was started in NaNo several years ago, and it was published last month - The New Empire. So NaNo can definitely lead to success stories as authors.
Speaking of which, my friend Gabi Coatsworth runs an amazing blog for writers with all kinds of helpful hints and advice, and part of that blog is asking published writers to showcase where they write. She just posted one about... me! Since I just moved to Canada at the end of the summer, I have a brand new writing office of my very own for the first time ever. And I was super excited to show everywhere where I will be writing my next masterpiece... ha, maybe. Here's the post. Hope you enjoy peeking behind the curtain at an author's life! I even have a little Halloween tidbit in there that helps me year-round.
Speaking of Halloween, hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween last night. My kids enjoyed going around the neighborhood with their new friends here in Alberta, and brought home loads of candy and chips and other treats.
I handed out candy as the good ol' standby of a witch (but forgot to take a picture - whoops) and "brewed" a potion to share with parents (a mulled apple cider drink for the grownups, so they could have a "treat" along the way too).
If you'd like to make some mulled cider as the weather turns colder, here's a good recipe:
1 gallon fresh/unfiltered apple juice
3-4 cinnamon sticks
3-4 star anise
1/2 Tablespoon of whole cloves
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
1 sliced orange
1 sliced ginger root (about 1-2 ounces, depending on how much ginger you like)
Throw all of this in a pot (since I was making a big batch to share, I tripled the recipe and used a canning pot) and simmer for 2+ hours. You can serve as-is to kids - or if you'd like the adult version, throw in 1-2 cups spiced rum (depending on how strong you'd like it).
Enjoy - and stay warm this winter!
I was so thrilled to read Anthony Avila's glowing review of my just-released book The New Empire. He called it "a must-read historical fiction novel of 2022" - wow!!!
And if you're a horror fan as well as an alternate history reader, check out Anthony's own list of published books HERE and his other fab book reviews HERE.
Who the heck is Alison McBain?
I am a freelance writer and poet with over two hundred short pieces published in magazines and anthologies. If the Walking Dead isn't on, I draw pictures and do origami meditation in Alberta, where I live with my family. If the Walking Dead is on... shhhh! The Walking Dead is on! For more info, please check out my "About Me" page.
© Alison McBain. All rights reserved