Writer’s Retreats

I was bought a writer’s retreat for Christmas, last year. Well, not actually bought one. I was given the chance to go on one, all I had to do was choose which one I wanted.  I fancied one not too far from home but, still, far enough away that I would feel like it was worth the effort. I didn’t want tuition, I just wanted to go somewhere that was geared up for writers where I’d be looked after, no jobs, no cooking, just pure writing time. Given I live in the North of England, I found it hard to find one that fit the bill.  As it’s been a busy year, personally, with one thing or another, and we’re now in the countdown toward Christmas, I’ve decided to put it off until next year.

So, where will I go?  Well, I’m loving the look of the Writer’s Retreat UK – I can go and do just what I want to do and that is write.  They’ll feed me, give me somewhere to work and I’ll get a glass of wine or two with my dinner, too! April is the first one and I plan to be there. That’s where book 2 in the Planet Fran series will take real shape.  Why not join me there?

Can I be a self-published success? Yes you can!

This is the first in a series of blogs in which I’ll share with you the ideas I’ve used to help get my book out there.  I’m not saying my way is THE way, but it’s working for me, so it could work for you, too.
I’m one of goodness-knows how many self-published authors that exist to write and entertain, each trying to get their head (or their book title) just that little bit more visible than all the rest out there, so readers will buy!

There are a few different approaches I’ve personally taken to help to get my book out there to its target audience. What I have done (and continue to do) is not necessarily unique, at all, but there are areas where I’ve had to be just a little creative to get my book noticed.  In this first blog, I’ll talk a little about my target audience.
Who was my target audience?
Seems like an obvious question but actually, I needed to break it down. My debut novel is a comedy that focuses on a wanna-be millionaire who has a great business idea but no money.  She’s offered the money, by an eccentric rich horse rider, but it comes at a price – she has to learn to ride, jump and then win a set competition to show she has the staying power to make the business work.  I wrote the story in such a way that it takes the reader through the journey of learning about horses and riding, with the main character.  This meant that the novel was great for both horsey and non horsey people, alike. BUT, to market a new novel from and unknown writer with a limited budget to a mass market was a very big ask and the danger was that I’d drown under the weight of great books already out there.
To narrow the focus and give me a clear way forward for who, exactly, to target, I homed in on the riding side of the story and used that to spread the word amongst the equestrian community.
Engaging my narrower target audience
With a more focussed target audience, I had a hope of seeking engagement in a more structured way than simply spray and hope.  I sought out groups on Facebook that horse riders and, in particular, eventers (the specific sport in my novel) would frequent. I started to post on those pages – not pushy posts to buy my book but joining in with discussion, expressing views and becoming known as a contributor.  I was then able to offer give-aways to those pages to promote my book.  The winners of the giveaway would email me with their details and I’d post their signed copy out to them.  I’d send an email reply back to each winner and ask that they help me promote the book, too, by spreading the word on their social media accounts.
I don’t intend to ignore my wider audience, but it makes sense for me to target subsets as I build my sales.
In the next blog, I’ll talk about sponsorship and how that has helped me drive more sales of my book.

Planet Fran – The Movie

Did you say, ‘The Movie?’

Indeed, I did.  The plan is to crowdfund the movie as a low-budget English film and have lots of fun doing it.  Given the comedy nature of the book, it will lend itself well to the visuals of a film.  The book is currently with an independent producer to review and we’re hoping she will be keen to work with us.

Anyone who would like to donate and be involved can do so by PayPal at Every single penny donated through PayPal or the Crowdfunding site (when it’s launched a little later this year) will be used for the film production and will be accounted for publicly.  Come and be a part of this exciting project!

An Excerpt – Planet Fran

When my day working in Sheffield was done, I was running about half an hour late and that meant that the traffic was likely to be horridly busy. I could see out of the window that it was raining heavily as I was packing up ready to leave the training site to head back to my car. Always without one, Paul had bought me a compact umbrella as a stocking filler for Christmas last year. I put it in my car boot for emergencies. And there it remains, neither use nor ornament in this heavy rain. I wrapped up well in my coat and scarf. As an afterthought, I took my glasses off their usual pew on top of my head and tucked them safely in my coat pocket. When I say the rain was heavy, I mean horizontal, sheet rain of the sort that makes you feel like you just stepped out of a shower. So, it’s not rocket science to guess that I got wet. So wet was I, I stripped off my coat and scarf and threw them along with my laptop and handbag into the boot of my car before quickly jumping in the driver’s seat, thankful to be out of the rain.

I got going quickly, as I could see queues already building. Once in the flow of traffic, I felt I could relax a little. All being well, I’d be at the yard to sort Batman by about six-thirty and I might catch Sue for a quick brew, too. As I drew to a standstill at the first traffic lights, I thought I’d just use my Sat Nav to check the best route back to avoid the worst of the traffic. That was where I realised my oversight. My phone, with my maps app, was sitting happily on the passenger seat, next to me. My glasses, however, were tucked into my soaking wet coat in the boot. Given that at close range I can see sweet sod all in any sort of useful detail without my glasses, I was, to put it bluntly, screwed!

Not to worry, I told myself, how many times have I used the keyboard on my iPhone? (That was rhetorical – I knew exactly how many times, well not exactly, what I mean is, I knew I’d used it lots) I decided I could put the postcode in anyway as I could make out the keys. After doing so, I pressed the large green Go button. Big mistake – BIG mistake. DN13 6RG became DN14 6EG. The difference might only be two alpha-numeric characters, but the actual difference sits around the twelve-mile mark. I might have realised my mistake, if I had any remote semblance of a sense of direction but, alas, that’s a department (along with many others) that I am liberally under-blessed in.

Firelighters… For Jan Booth from where the idea came!

He tootled off into the kitchen and I busied myself opening the log burner and sliding one of the firelighters under the little pile of kindling.  I used my long lighter to reach in and set it going, but nothing happened. I lowered my head to see if I could see the firelighter at the same time as trying to light it.  It was a bit of a struggle but, with a bum-shuffle backwards, I was able to position my head so I could see.  I reached in again with the lighter.  It was clearly reaching the little firelighter, the flame tickling its side but, still, nothing happened.  A dud, I decided.  I took one of the others that I’d brought in from the kitchen, out of my pocket, and slid it under the little pile of kindling, carefully positioning it next to the dud, with the end of my long lighter.  Click, the flame again caressed the new firelighter but still no ignition. What the hell?  This box was most definitely going back to the shop and it would be accompanied by some extremely strong words from me.

“You OK down there,” asked Gary, returning with two glasses of white wine.

“Can’t light the bloody fire,” I said. “Sorry, I wanted it to be nice and cozy.”

He put the glasses down on the coffee table and crouched down next to me.

“Here, give me the lighter.”  I passed it over and he did just as I had done, reached in and clicked the flame on.  Still no fire.

“Duds. The firelighters are duds,” I told him, with authority.

“You can’t get dud firelighters. By their very nature, they’re flammable.”

“Well, they’re not working. They’re duds. I’m telling you.”

“You got another one?”

I handed him the last one from my pocket.

He looked at it closely.

“Fran,” he said in a tone that was one I was now quite used to hearing. “Where did you get these firelighters?”

Can you succeed?


A Quick Guide to Channel your inner winner! 

What does it take to succeed? It depends on YOU, The questions you should be asking is “what am I prepared to do to Succeed?” “What do I need to do to achieve that goal I want” you will find people will answer differently and people will take different routes to success.

Fran wanted a business investment, to get this she had to succeed at something totally alien to her. She had to adapt and turn her mind to something totally new in order to get where she wanted to be.

Let’s look at a few ways to help channel your inner winner:

Where do you want to be? What do you want? Do you want to be able to play the guitar? Learn a write an app? A degree? Or get your nosey neighbours evicted? (Don’t actually do that). Take a few moments to think, imagine yourself at the goal you are aiming for, imagine yourself at the top of your game. How does it feel? What would you do when you have achieved your goal? Buy your dream car?

Write down what you want to achieve and how long you want to set yourself to achieve this…and make it realistic, it doesn’t matter how clever they are no-one is going to be able to be heavyweight champion of the world in 2 weeks .

Set some sub goals

Now you have a goal, great! (That’s more than Leeds united ever have ) and a timeline, you should dissect your timeline into a selection of mini goals to use as stepping stones to get to the end goal. Of course, you may hit some hurdles along the way, but that’s when you need to adapt, What do you need to do to overcome any problems and reach that end goal? Work out as many small goals as you need, any problems that may occur and write them down, see the it as a journey or a process! We use processes daily to get an end result, like make a cup of tea!.. here’s a little more relevant practical test your end goal being enjoyment  ….see below :

1. Click on the link in step 2
2. Click this Link
3. Enjoy


In this example the steps to reach the end goal are simple, with minimal effort and minimal sacrifice to your daily routines. Focus on one sub goal at a time without thinking of the end goal as the target as this will encourage you to skip necessary steps to get there.

Be able to Adapt

Things in this world are changing fast especially in our new digital age where change is dynamic and information spreads like wildfire. You will ultimately hit some sort of hurdle in your quest for succession.
Being able to adapt will see you excel in different areas needed to achieve your goal, for example, if your end goal is to compete in a body building competition – you will have to adapt and change the exercises you do to hit different muscles in order to achieve optimum muscle definition! Your sub goals will become daily or weekly workouts and will take considerably longer than the previous example of buying my book!

Remember, the less sacrifice you have to make the easier it will be… if it’s a big end goal, you will need to make sacrifices but do what you need to do to keep in mind ….IT WILL BE WORTH IT!


1. Work out your end goal.
2. Work out what you need to do to get there and write it down.
3. Set a realistic time frame to achieve it.
4. Set some realistic sub goals and checkpoints along the way.
5. Bask in the glory of success when you finally reach your end goal.


I hope this has inspired some of you to go out there and get what you want! Thankyou for reading and see you next time.


Limited Edition Bookmarks

I’ve been lucky enough to have people who have wanted to commit to buying my book ahead of time, so I wanted to try to give something back. But what? After much thought, I came up with a bit of a freebie bundle to include an online greetings card voucher, a pack of 5 free Christmas cards and I created a bookmark, for which I ordered a small batch. No others, with this specific design will ever be printed and they’re only available, free, to those who have supported me with pre-orders. Now, I’m no literary author so the likelihood of me hitting the big time is probably pretty small, but even if I don’t make best-seller lists and widespread fame, if my books gather a bit of a following with people who like a bit of a light-hearted and, at times, quite juvenile comedy read, maybe my limited-edition bookmarks could, one day, be worth more than the book they came with!

My proof-reader is estimating Tuesday, 12th September for completion, after which there will be a couple of days of re-formatting and then it’s finally off to the printers.

To my pre-order readers – thank you! I hope you like the goodie bundles when they arrive.


Spreading the word

With the final edit nearly completed, the new cover designed and the video trailer updated, it’s time to get the word out there about the book and engage as many potential readers as possible. But, how does an author do that in this day and age? You might think that with the proliferation of social media platforms that it should be an easy task but, in fact, it’s far more difficult than you might imagine. The challenge is to stand out from the crowd and offer something really engaging that will draw people in.

It’s early days, yet, but there’s a few approaches I’m adopting:

I’m looking to build a ‘personality’ and a focus for interesting content on my Planet Fran Facebook page. I’m not there yet, still trying out a few directions.

I’ve created a new Youtube channel for Josie King Books – the trailer is on there now. I plan to add lots of videos relating to characters in the book, like Portia the Pug – hopefully funny videos that you’ll all really love.

I’m looking to build relationships with more local (Yorkshire) retail outlets for the book. It would be great to see it on real shelves!

I’ll keep you posted with how progress goes! Thanks for reading and staying in touch.


The Final Cover

Being an IT professional, I know stuff about using different applications so I started off thinking I could produce the cover for Planet Fran, myself. The reactions to those early covers were ok but I think people were really just being kind. Having engaged the services of a professional cover designer, I now have something that clearly will make a good job of enticing people to buy my book (I hope) and that clearly shows just how lacking my own design skills are! I’m learning so many lessons in writing and publishing my own book and I hope that the whole process for the second book in the series (code named, Fran Rides Again) will be a little smoother.

I remain extremely grateful to those who have pre-ordered my book for their support and their patience whilst I get this right. We’re nearly there…

Put the book down…!

I can’t say how many editing rounds I’ve done on my first novel, now. I thought I was finished three months ago, took some critical feedback and set out to update it.  Every time I think I’m done, I think of something that will make the book, in my eyes, better.  As a self-published author, I’ve really been feeling my way in this process. The easy bit is getting the first draft down. The hard bit is refining it and polishing it so it’s ready for the world to see.

I found that people who knew me, who saw early drafts, really ‘got’ the voice it was written in but those who didn’t know me, didn’t.  That worried me a little so I engaged the services of a professional editor and, following a full structural review, I have done a huge edit and it is now in its final review with the editor, so I feel I am, finally, nearly there.   Working with a professional editor has turned out to be a very wise decision – when you read my book, if you think it’s crap, just think how bad it actually would have been!