Launch Pad Round Up

Launch Pad Logo

Over the past half year I’ve enjoyed hosting the Launch Pad spot for some lovely guests. Now we’re approaching the end of the year, I thought it would be good to catch up with them and find out what they are working on now.

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First on the spot, back in May, was internationally bestselling author, Lizzie Chantree, who had just released her latest romance, Shh… It’s our secret. Checking in on Lizzie’s social media, she already has another book out, The Woman Who Felt Invisible. Now that’s impressive! Click on the cover to view on Amazon.

Working as a stationery supervisor and a sitter to a pair of internet famous, delinquent dogs, wasn’t how former cyber-specialist, Olivia, imagined her life turning out. Working in a tiny cubicle with a decrepit computer and being overlooked had suited her for a while, but now she’s fed up, lonely and determined to make the world ‘see’ her again. Old school friend, Darius, wants to fill Olivia’s days with romance, but their love of technology has taken them on very different paths. Gorgeous undercover policeman Gabe is steadfast in finding out if Olivia was part of an online scam, but something doesn’t feel right and he suspects someone else was manipulating her life. Can love blossom from the most deceptive of starts? And can someone who feels lost, find a way to flourish against all odds?

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Next on the Launch Pad was Jude Itakali, who joined us in June to promote his wonderful new poetry collection, Crossroads (Winds of Love). I had an inter-continental chat with Jude the other day, via the wonder of Whatsapp, and this is what he had to say about his current writing project:

Ahhh, what can I say? Writing my first novel has been a rollercoaster ride, weaving through hopes, fears and even moments of bliss. It has probably been the greatest challenge I’ve ever undertaken, but still a most enjoyable one.

The original inspiration for writing my upcoming novel was actually from a poetic story I wrote over a year ago on my blog. I remember many of the comments saying it would make an outstanding novel. Once I was done publishing my debut poetry book, I knew that it was possible to get a book out into the world, so I started working on the novel. My core drive comes from a deepest realization that writing is what truly feeds my soul; what makes me happiest. I have always had a dream to write and be read, and I’m living half that dream for now, but that’s plenty too.  

The initial promo campaign for my debut novel (coming in Spring 2022) starts January, so I can’t reveal much until we’ve decided on some marketing details with the publisher. Here’s a little teaser verse I wrote about a few of the themes you’ll find in the book:

“Be it born to darkness and sacrifice,
Or be it raised amidst love and hope,
Those who dwell under light and freedom,
Or those shackled to ways preordained –
The cruelest curses stem from our greatest blessings
And yet some are cursed, so that others may be blessed.”


I hope that soon you will all walk, love, run and creep, along the thin line between blessing and curse, in my upcoming YA fantasy saga.

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In July, I had the pleasure of hosting Paul English, my writing buddy from up the road. Paul is another highly prolific author and back in July, the first book in his sci-fi trilogy, Scorched Earth: Arrival, had not long been published. We regularly get together for a ‘writerly chat’ over coffee and cake, so I’m well up on what Paul’s been up to. Here’s his comment between mouthfuls of carrot cake:

“Thanks for inviting me back on your blog. Since the last time I was over there, I’ve completed the second book of the Scorched Earth trilogy, Scorched Earth: Takeover. In a nutshell, the book takes up the story again about a month after the alien Drahux Empire arrived on Earth in Scorched Earth: Arrival. The tension rises as aliens are slowly taking over the planet, while our broken heroes are struggling to pick themselves up in order to fend off the alien threat before its too late.”

Not one to rest on his laurels, Paul is already busy with the final part of the trilogy. You can follow his progress over on his blog, Backroom Bulletin.

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Prehistoric fiction author, Jacqui Murray, joined us on the Launch Pad in August, where she shared her insights into how she found her writer’s voice and how this enabled her to follow her passion for writing the books she truly wanted to share with the world. At the time, her second book in her Dawn of Humanity Trilogy, Laws of Nature, had recently been released.

I caught up with Jacqui via email and this is what she said about her progress with the third book in the trilogy:

“After several months of stodgy progress, Natural Selection is finally moving forward.  Which is good because when it comes to writing, I have no Plan B. It either works or I’m f****. Yes, I understand all novels come with the warning, ‘some assembly required’. My fear is that when I’m done, there will be pieces leftover. None so far! Check back with me in January.”

Jacqui sent me the cover pic in the meantime. Doesn’t that whet your appetite?

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In September, I was delighted to host Michelle Navajas, international best selling poet, on the Launch Pad, where she shared her writing journey with us, setting out what has inspired her to write her ever-growing series of poetry books. This was her reply when I emailed her to find out what she’s working on at the moment.

“I am currently working on my 6th book which is the second edition of ‘After Rain Skies’ – a collection of true and inspiring stories of abuse and violence. The second edition will highlight other forms of abuse which I’d refused to write about in the first edition due to their highly sensitive nature. Now, I finally have got the courage to write about them.”

Here’s Michelle pictured with some of the awards she has earned in recognition of her unique, meaningful and highly accessible style of poetry.

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Next up on the Launch Pad was novelist and poet, Liz Gauffreau, whose deeply moving collection of syllabic poetry, Grief Songs, was published in October. A brief flurry of emails revealed some very exciting developments in Liz’s literary life.

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Here’s what Liz told me:

“Recently, I’ve had a short story, “New England Gothic,” published in The Chamber Magazine, a horror magazine, and another of my short stories, “A Formal Feeling Comes,” was published in Remington Review. Each publication is a bit out of the ordinary for me, as I’ve never written a horror story before and didn’t intend to with “New England Gothic.” “A Formal Feeling Comes” is a reprint. The first journal that published it changed the ending in a way that contradicted everything that came before it. (I won’t agree to that again!)

I’ve also just had a story, “Bonnie and Clyde Rob the Enosburg Falls National Bank,” accepted as part of a new venture that creates a video reading of the story as the means of publication. We’ll have to wait and see whether anything comes of it!

I have a collection of short stories planned for release in 2023. The stories all take place in my home town of Enosburg Falls, Vermont. “Bonnie and Clyde Rob the Enosburg Falls National Bank” is one of them.

Currently, I’m working on a new novel set at the Sheldon Poor Farm in Sheldon Springs, Vermont. It was the last poor farm in Vermont. The state shut it down in 1968, which is the year the novel takes place. I have a great deal of research ahead of me, so I’m more in the inspiration stage right now.”

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My final guest this year was Tom Burton, who joined us last month, having recently released his second collection of short stories, Pocketful of Time. Tom also shared some interesting insights into writing craft with his ‘Three Top Guidelines’, garnered from his own experience as a storyteller.

When I caught up with Tom earlier this week, I discovered that he’d had one of those writer’s eish! moments and accidentally lost quite a large chunk of the newest draft of his forthcoming historical short story collection. What with that and all the activity associated with the forthcoming festive season, Tom has had to postpone its release until next year.

If Pocketful of Time is anything to go by, be sure to look out for Tom’s new book in 2022!

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I’d like to thank all the authors who took time out to spend time with us on the Launch Pad spot last year, and who’ve just updated us about their latest progress and projects. If you’re reading this and would like a spot on the Launch Pad to talk about your new releases and literary adventures in 2022, please let me know.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to share news of my own new release next year.

46 thoughts on “Launch Pad Round Up

  1. All these fine folk with multiple books being published… good for them and it kind of gives me a push. I wonder, Chris, if you’ll have a space for me on your Launch Pad next year? There’s only me holding myself back, so we’ll see. You have a good showcase here! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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