Thursday, 31 May 2012

International reviews!

Kimberley in Brisbane has written to say she loved Once Removed. Added to all the 5 star reviews in the US and UK, makes it internationally acclaimed ;0)

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Beware of writing’s “X Factor”

Some good advice comes to us today from KB Walker, author of 
Beware of writing’s “X Factor”

If you’ve ever watched X Factor, in the audition stages, you’ll have seen 
how many people have only shared their talent with loved ones wearing 
rose-tinted spectacles and
 seriously modified hearing aids
there are lots 
of cringe-making videos 
YouTube, if you’ve missed out).

You may also have noticed the huge numbers of people who turn up for these 
auditions. Your manuscript will be up against similar numbers, if you want it 
published. Even if you decide to self-publish, your work must be polished to 
perfection or people won’t buy it. It’s vital to get critical feedback. Even
bestselling authors have trusted readers who read drafts before they are submitted 
for publication. Writing a novel takes time and you are too close to it to see it objectively.

To see the rest of the article visit The Writers ABC Checklist 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Brilliant review from a Top 500 Reviewer

4.0 out of 5 stars A novel of depth and sensitivity28 May 2012
Nicola F (Nic) (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Once Removed (Kindle Edition)
*Full disclosure: the author sent me a copy of this novel in the hope that I would review it. All opinions are my own.*

I was excited to read this novel as I instantly realised it would touch on some very topical, sensitive themes and I was curious to see how the author would handle them.

This is the story of newly-qualified teacher Abriella (Abby), a woman with a bit of an emotional background of her own, and who recognises in twelve-year-old pupil Beth, that *something* is also amiss. Abby isn't sure if Beth is being bullied or if she is self-harming, but as she tries to get close to the girl and be her confidant, the repurcussions may have disastrous consequences for both of them...

I enjoyed the way the author tackled this story from various perspectives as it gave the reader a chance to understand more deeply what was happening in the narrative, which flowed very well. I feel that Beth's voice and emotions were depicted realistically and to be honest, my heart broke at what she was going though and at the secrets she was bottling up inside. Though I liked Abby enough, I have to confess that it took me a long time to warm to her, which I think was supposed to be the point as her background was slowly unravelled. Initially I felt her weak and unable to stand up for herself, with both her family and her abhorent boyfriend, though this frustration did eventually pass, and I found myself caring about what would happen to her too.

The settings felt authentic and the development of the main characters was solid, though I have to say that I didn't particularly warm to any of Abby's friends much- aside from Ryan. I also loathed most of her family, and low-self esteem issues aside, I still can't believe she put up with how they treated her! The 'witch hunt' was also well conveyed too- and put me in mind of a few recent British tabloid stories.

Though the story is indeed written well, there were a few lapses in tense towards the end of the story- between first and third person, which I found a bit jarring. I also think that some of the subject matter was a bit glossed over in points- i.e. a particular situation with loss and grieving could have been handled more comprehensively, it felt just a bit rushed within the storyline and certain feelings therein didn't seem to be elaborated on to a great extent.

Generally, this was a well-written, fast-paced novel that sensitively and accurately handled some strong, emotional themes and the author should be commended for that. I would welcome reading more from her again in future and would recommend trying this book if you enjoy novels of depth that aren't afraid to tackle some controversial subject matters that other writers might shy away from. Brilliant review

Monday, 28 May 2012

Michela interviews me on Words in a Jar

Pheeeew! Took ages to fiddle with formatting on Blogspot, but I did it at last. Here's a lovely chat to Kim Walker about her books, her experience with self-publishing, publishing with Crooked Cat, teaching and being an American "enjoying" the British weather :)

Charlotte Bronte

Sunday, I went on a guided tour of Red House and Oakwell House both featured in Shirley, a less well known book by Charlotte Bronte. Fascinating to hear about Charlotte and her friends who lived in these two properties. They were a powerful voice for women in their day. I'm only part-way through reading Shirley. It's not easy going but interesting, as it looks at the Luddites and independent women.

Shirley wasn't well received at the time because it was challenging. A friend on the walk told me she'd read my book, Once Removed. She'd found it "uncomfortable to start with but it quickly became a real page-turner and was quite an accomplishment". Something in common with Charlotte Bronte? Now that would be amazing.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

An interview on Maria Savva's Goodreads blog

I enjoyed reading Kimm's poignant and inspirational memoir A Life Less Lost. I was excited to hear that Kimm has recently published a novel Once Removed. I'm very much looking forward to reading it. Kimm's a very talented writer. When I heard she had a new book out I decided it was about time I introduced her to all of you.

As well as agreeing to answer my questions, Kimm is very generously offering to give away a Kindle or pdf version of Once Removed and a paper version or a voucher for a digital copy of A Life Less Lostfrom Smashwords

To be in with a chance to win a copy of one of her books, please leave a comment below, or simply 'like' this blog post. Winners will be picked on 10th June 2012.

Here's my interview with Kimm:

I read your memoir 'A Life Less Lost' in 2009. It's very moving and inspirational. What made you decide to publish a memoir at the time?

It was a story I wanted to tell and in 2004 I finally had the opportunity. The first draft poured out in 4 months but then it took 5 years to polish it. By that time I was doing speaking engagements and people were disappointed there weren’t copies to buy. When I had the opportunity to speak alongside Adrian Plass, I decided I couldn’t wait for the slow wheels of publishing and did it myself.

Your son's battle with cancer is featured prominently in your memoir. Has he read the book, and if so did he give you any feedback on it?

A very interesting question, Maria. James gave me permission to write and sell the book but he hasn’t read it. His father and brother have and were surprised by the different ways in which we each experienced and remembered what happened. James says it’s taken him long enough to come to terms with his own interpretation of events and he doesn’t want to cope with mine.

You self-published A Life Less Lost, but with your new book, a novel, you have decided to use a publisher. What was your reason for not self-publishing this time?

As you know, Maria, self-publishing is extremely hard work. But I was losing confidence in myself as a writer. I needed that seal of approval that someone who didn’t know me thought enough of my book to take a risk on it.

How did you go about looking for a publisher for your novel?

I studied the Writers & Artists Yearbook for people most likely to be interested in my story and then checked out their websites and submission guidelines. I met and spoke to a PR person at an author event and she asked to see a sample and recommended three publishers. But none of that came to anything. Once Removed doesn’t fit easily into any genres so was too risky for the more established houses. A friend suggested a few e-publishers who are trying to build a presence in the market and actively seek out new and unusual work. I studied their websites and went for Crooked {Cat} Publishing, who quickly signed me up.

I'm looking forward to reading your new novel, 'Once Removed'. Can you tell us a bit about it and how long it took to write?

It’s about a young teacher who suspects one of her pupils is self-harming. Abby risks everything to try to help Beth but it all goes horribly wrong. It looks at the impact relationships have on us but also the way in which our own self-image affects those relationships.

I’ve had much to learn about writing (I did science at university!) so have taken courses, worked my way through self-help books and written lots of other things alongside this novel and my memoir. In seven years, Once Removed has been through many transformations. I’m certainly hoping my next book will take less time!

You have said that an experience in high school gave you the idea for Once Removed. Are you able to elaborate on that?

In high school, a girl felt close enough to me to reveal the razor slashes she’d made in her legs. I didn’t know what to do. At fourteen, new to the school and recently bereaved, I basically ran away. But I still wonder about that girl and what’s happened to her. In the '90s, when self-harm was in the media, I did some research and a story was born which explores this complex behaviour through the eyes of these two characters.

I saw on your bio that before you published your memoir, you'd had several poems, short stories and articles published and won a handful of local prizes, as well as being invited to speak at events in the UK and US. Can you tell us a bit more about these?

I’ve won competitions run by Huddersfield Authors’ Circle, been shortlisted in a Huddersfield Literature Festival competition and won second prize in a short story magazine. I learned a great deal about dialogue working collaboratively on two radio plays, even though they weren’t taken up. These were early on, when I was writing widely to get feedback and learn the craft. I’ve had articles published in various places and edit my church magazine. My poems appear in several anthologies but my main passion is for novels. They are what I read and know the best.

The speaking events began out of the blue and grew from there. I did set up a mini ‘book tour’ when I went to the States to visit my family. We went to five states, slept in ten different beds and sold over seventy books. More sales have followed but they’ve been slow. I plan to do more promotion over the Internet, once things settle down with Once Removed.

You have a book trailer for Once Removed. Who produced that?

My youngest son, David, is a filmmaker working for Bluprint. He and a couple of friends made it for me as well as the one for A Life Less Lost.

What's your opinion of book trailers in general? Have you ever decided to buy a book after seeing the trailer?

Personally, I have such a huge pile of books I want to read I haven’t used book trailers but when you are an unknown author you have to try everything to get some attention.

Which do you prefer reading e-books or print, and why?

I resisted getting an e-reader for ages but eventually the shrinking luggage allowances convinced me and I love it! I read walking my dog and don’t need to take my mittens off to turn the page, can read while eating my lunch without the book closing and in bed without my hand getting cold. It’s dangerously easy to buy the next book immediately after finishing the last one, too.

Who are your favourite authors and what is it about their work that you like?

That’s a hard question! I like Jodi Picoult, although her books do get a bit samey. I love the way she explores complex social issues through realistic characters. That’s what I’ve tried to do with Once Removed. But I also love crime writers like Jo Nesbo and historical fiction authors like Bernhard Cornwelland Philippa GregoryC.J. Sansom usefully combines both genres! I like interesting stories like A Thousand Splendid Suns and We Need to Talk About Kevin. I love the Fire and Ice fantasy series (A Game of Thrones ) even though I don’t usually like fantasy. I like anything with good characters and pace, really.

Are you working on any other books at the moment?

At the moment, I’m spending all my writing time trying to promote Once Removed. But next month I plan to get back to my new novel inspired by an agoraphobic woman who vanished.

When you're not writing, what's your favourite pastime?

Reading has been a passion all my life. I also enjoy sports like skiing, swimming, badminton and walking. I’ve a big soft spot for animals and live on a farm, although we’re not farmers. Baking, eating out, cookery programmes and cookbooks fill a big chunk of time. Recently I’ve discovered an interest in growing food, losing hours in the garden.

Thanks for being a fabulous guest, Kimm!


You can find out more about Kimm and her books at her website and on her publisher's website

And don't forget to leave a comment below, or 'like' this blog post for your chance to win a book! Good luck!

Once Removed: Another five star review on Amazon!

Once Removed: Another five star review on Amazon!: 5.0 out of 5 stars   Once removed , By  A. Calder "Helmeboy"  (Yorkshire England)  KB Walker draws us into the dark heart o...

Another five star review on Amazon!

5.0 out of 5 stars Once removed,
A. Calder "Helmeboy" (Yorkshire England) 

KB Walker draws us into the dark heart of the sensitive subject of self-harming, an all too common perplexing aspect of human behaviour. She explores the subject through the eyes of an apparently naïve trainee teacher and one of her history pupils. We watch in horror as the teacher goes way out on a limb beyond the sensible modern limits for teacher/pupil relationships to try to get to the root cause of the pupil's problem. The inevitable happens and the teacher ends up as the accused for a period before the police identify the problem within the family. It is very much a story of family relationships and the undermining effect on individuals when these are destructive. Gradually, we become aware of the reason for the teachers motivation to help and the cathartic effect that the experience has on her. The writing shows considerable insight and sensitivity in handling a difficult topic. I found the book very absorbing and read it in a day. It is strongly recommended for specialist and general readers.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Need a creative recharge?

There's a wonderful post about recharging your creativity on this blog today:

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Once Removed: E-publishing vs self-publishing

Once Removed: E-publishing vs self-publishing: A Seal of Approval A fellow author, fed up of rejection, decided to self-publish (SP). He knew I’d self-published my memoir in 2009 and...

E-publishing vs self-publishing

A Seal of Approval
A fellow author, fed up of rejection, decided to self-publish (SP). He knew I’d self-published my memoir in 2009 and was surprised that I’d chosen to go with epublishers, Crooked {Cat} with my novel. His question was, ‘Why settle for less than 100% royalties and total control over your book?’
It was precisely because of my experience of self-publishing that I was determined to find a ‘proper’ publisher for my novel. Although, my memoir was relatively successful, as SP books go, 100% control also means 100% of the work. I had to research printers, organise all of the promotion and a million other things that I’d never done before. And I was fortunate in having a publisher, Richard Netherwood, to mentor me through the process, helping me avoid the many traps that await the novice. Most of my sales were through public speaking engagements, which are time consuming and stressful (something else I’d never done before).
My debut novel, Once Removed, doesn’t fit easily into current genres. Coupled with the economic crisis, this made bigger publishers reluctant to take on my book. But there is a growing, thriving epublishing market out there, often eager to take on new authors and those with an unusual “voice”.
But do your research before submitting. Check out their portfolio. Use the “look inside” feature on Amazon to see the quality of their books. Visit the author blogs, perhaps even contact an author or two to see what they thought of the publisher. If a publisher wants money from you, walk away!
Not every SP author realises the vital importance of professional editing. Some have never even sought feedback on their manuscript before going to print and it shows. There’s an enormous amount of amateur dross out there and it taints all SP work. Many reviewers won’t review SP books because of this. Publishers understand that their reputation is fundamental and work hard to protect it.
Members of my writers’ group gave me feedback on early drafts of Once Removed and I’d also had it professionally appraised. Then Crooked {Cat} Publishing did three further rounds of edits to polish it even further, ensuring professionalism.
Publishers understand the market and know which reviewers are best suited to different genres. I was provided with ten free copies to use in promoting my book along with suggestions and encouragement. Crooked {Cat} also approached reviewers on my behalf. A request from a trusted publisher is more likely to be taken up than one by an unknown author.
Crooked {Cat} provide support directly and through three Internet writers’ groups. This enables all their authors to share ideas, review each other’s books and pass recommendations on to their friends. The whole experience is less overwhelming and much more exciting.
Because the sales go through the publisher, filling in tax returns are easier, too. Dealing with US sales has been complicated and I’ve yet to be paid for some of the books I’ve sold over there.
Being published means someone is prepared to risk their time and effort on your work and that is worth a lot to me as an author but also to readers. You still have to put in the time and energy to promote your work but you do it with the confidence of that seal of approval.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Wanted: a body double

Weekend in the Lake district with friends ~ brill. Finally planted broccoli, peas, cabbage, beetroot & cauliflower, phew! Hail didn't kill them all yesterday either, double phew! Finished editing church magazine, large weight off the shoulders. But almost no writing or book promotion done ~ eek. Failing finding a body double, must try harder.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Once Removed on sale this weekend

Crooked {Cat} Publishing are having a sale this weekend. Check it out on Amazon. They have a wonderful selection of books, there's something for everyone.

Five star review on Goodreads!

This is the first review from a total stranger!

's review
May 10, 12

5 of 5 stars false
bookshelves: kindlemodernabusive-relationships
Read from May 07 to 10, 2012

K.B. Walker is a very good storyteller and Once Removed is, I felt, a story close to her heart. When I read the author’s notes after I’d finished the book, I understood why.
The two main characters, Abriella and Beth, have very low self esteem and they have developed similar ways to cope with their self-loathing. However, Abriella Garside is ten years older than Beth, and recognises the emotional pain and signs of self abuse that she sees in the girl. Abriella is desperate to help Beth, but finds that, as her teacher, her efforts are often misconstrued.
I was totally absorbed. This is not the sort of novel that I would normally read, but I was quickly drawn in by the characters and the plot. Having worked in schools for many years until retirement, the setting and dialogue had a real authenticity for me. It was not only a book about abuse, self abuse and how to deal with these terrible problems, but also about making judgements on people without knowing the whole story. We are all guilty of this at some time or other and it does no harm to be reminded of this.
Once Removed is a well-constructed, absorbing novel, which I recommend to anyone who likes real life, gritty stories.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Another 5* review!

5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable debut7 May 2012
Once Removed is a remarkable debut novel from author KB Walker, confronting head-on a challenging issue that many seasoned writers would balk at. Yet far from sacrificing narrative to prove a point, Walker has cleverly used parallel storytelling to illustrate the complex social and emotional issues that can surround cases of self-harm. The story is totally engaging and believable.

The novel explores with great sensitivity the turmoil in the minds of its protagonists, the subtle influences on human behaviour and the imperfections in human character that make us both despicable at times and endearing at others. Furthermore it stimulates a degree of introspection, self-reflection and courage in a wholly unpatronising way.

Like Alison Brook, above, I was hooked by the dramatic and emotional rollercoaster that is Once Removed, and devoured this book within 24h. I would highly recommend it.

Competition winner!

Rebecca Emin is the winner of the competition to win a free copy of Once Removed. Thank you to everyone who entered.

Monday, 7 May 2012

First Five Star review on Amazon!

5.0 out of 5 stars Once Removed - a must read!7 May 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Once Removed (Kindle Edition)
This is an easy-to-read book which is hard to put down; infact, I was still reading it in the early hours as it had me hooked from beginning to end. KB Walker really gets into the head of an abused young teenager with low self esteem. It highlights the difficulties faced by teachers when dealing with youngsters with clear emotional issues/suspected abuse. It is a thoroughly good read.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Top 5000!

Once Removed has made it into the top 5000 on Amazon and it's only day 3!

Friday, 4 May 2012

I've been interviewed!

Cathie Dunn writes...: Welcome, contemporary author KB Walker: Today, I welcome another fabulous Crooked Cat author to my blog, KB Walker. KB, also known as Kim, has already published a memoir, s...

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Win a copy of Once Removed

To celebrate the release of Once Removed, I'm offering a free electronic copy. All you need to do is write the name of your favourite book reviewer in the comment box below. (Ulterior motive ~ me ~ as if??)

To win a copy, simply comment below, not forgetting your email address

The shriek scraped down my spine. Hugging my black cardigan more tightly around myself, I stopped. The noisy teenagers flowing in the direction of the school cafeteria barely paused.

Scanning the crowd, I fervently wished for someone more senior. But only chattering children, shuffling and laughing, pushed past. A deep sigh deflated me. Clearly, I still had plenty to learn about vanishing during break times. Tempted to pretend I hadn’t heard, the memory shivered along my back and forced me to respond.

Wading through the torrent into a shadowy side corridor in the direction of the scream, the small knot of gawpers melted away. Megan, a tall year seven girl, slumped against the grubby wall squeezing her hand in front of her like a gun. Blood dripped from two fingers pointed at the other girl. Freckles glared from Beth’s pale face cowering beneath bushy ginger hair. The low growl of obscenities pouring from Megan’s white lips stopped as soon as she saw me.

It didn’t make sense. Megan was a pretty girl, confident and always followed by a crowd of hangers-on. She was too polite in class, all angel-eyes standing in the midst of the trouble she’d stirred up. Beth, on the other hand, sat alone in the furthest corner. Watching the river of young people cascade through the corridors, this girl had seemed an island protected by a reef of sadness. Not your classic bully. A craft knife, glittered amongst the spilled contents of a discarded bag on the floor.

“Well?” I asked, pushing my dark rimmed glasses back up my nose and looking from one girl to the other. Brilliant, Abby, just brilliant, you are way out of your depth here. Trust you to land up in the middle of Marfield High School’s first ever knife crime!

“It was an accident, Miss.” Pulling herself upright, Megan flicked back her carefully styled hair. The shiny blonde layers settled over darker roots. “I picked up Beth’s bag by mistake. Isn’t that right, Beth?”

I was surprised Megan’s laser fierce glare hadn’t set Beth’s school uniform on fire. The child looked smaller than ever beside an in-charge Megan. The ginger head dipped in agreement.

“I was scrabbling around for my phone when I caught my fingers on that blade.” Megan pointed with her dripping finger.

“Beth,” my tone was as gentle as I could make it, “why did you have a knife in your bag? You must know it’s against school rules?”

The girl opened her mouth and furrowed her brow a few times before any words came. “Art class... didn’t realise... must have dropped it in my bag without thinking.”

Beth looked as though she’d been caught running naked down Marfield’s High Street and would disintegrate if any more fuss were made. But she was lying. Despite my inexperience as a teacher, I could tell. Scenarios flashed across my mind and none of them were pleasant. I didn’t know what to do. I thumbed my glasses back into place. My university lecturer’s voice sang in my memory. When in doubt, feign confident authority. I took a deep breath.

“Right, Beth, you go on your way to lunch. I’ll make sure this craft knife gets back to the art department.” I swooped down and plucked the blade from the rest of the debris. “Megan, you come with me and we’ll put something on those cuts. Perhaps you’ll be more careful whose bag you pick up in future.”

I stormed off, my heels rattling in the now empty corridor. Megan marched beside me, radiating fury.
My mind spun and fizzed. Megan always had an answer for everything so why wasn’t she kicking off now? I peered at her through the corner of my eye and noticed she had a leather bag slung over her shoulder, quite different from Beth’s canvas one. The bag she claimed to have picked up by accident.
Slamming through the door into the office I stopped. Anger wouldn’t help. I took a deep breath and reached for the first aid kit.

“Show me your hand, please, Megan. Are you allergic to plasters?”

She narrowed her eyes and shook her head. Her jaws were clamped tight.

I cleaned the wounds and applied butterfly plasters, careful to follow school
procedures to the letter.

“Please sign here.” I pointed to my brief entry in the accident book. “Can I go now?” Megan glared at me.

Unable to think of a single sensible question, I nodded. 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Tomorrow's the big day

Once Removed will be launched tomorrow. I have no idea what to expect but can't wait! It'll be available from, & Smashwords.