Read Adrienne’s fabulous blog post about her trip to the BIG APPLE last year to cover this event for Romance Matters – the RNA in-house magazine.
This is me with the bag she bought me because she thinks I’m an old hippie. (she could be right). She also put a ‘cent’ inside it, for good luck.
For the record, (no pun intended) I don’t only listen to Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, I have Simon and Garfunkel vinyl LPs, too.
I couldn’t resist posing for her !!
One day It’ll be our turn to step up onto that stage and get an award.
With three novels under my belt we headed to Bonnie Scotland in July to research number four. No rest for the wicked, eh? Having just watched the Outlander Series (based on the novels by Diane Gabaldon), I was interested to visit some of the locations where filming had taken place.
Then it was on to Ballachulish and a tour of Castle Stalker by the owner. The castle in my next novel, Castle Tèarmannair, is loosely based on Castle Stalker (see below). Check out the fabulous tour buses designed by Gary Walker.
In September Bongo Man was 65 and we celebrated in style.
We are real nerds and the highlight of that summer was having a pair of Jays take up residence in our garden. They disappeared from September until November but have now returned to delight us every morning with their antics and are becoming much tamer.
In October managed a week away in the Cotswolds and I was able to give a copy of Scotch on the Rocks to Maggie. We’ve been friends since 1978 when we met at an Open University summer school and the book is dedicated to her. Her only complaint about my writing is that there aren’t enough murders in my books. No wonder the Kelpie is laughing.
In October I became a member of Carole Matthew’s Chocolate Lovers’ Club team and hosted an evening with my girlfriends to celebrate the launch of her latest book – the Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas. I received free copies which I distributed to my book club, a tiara, chocs and an advent calendar. I also received an advance copy of The Chocolate Lover’s Wedding – Carole knows how to do things in style. #myguru
Tall Dark and Kilted received its 100th review in December and I felt that was worthy of celebration. And, out of the blue, I had a wonderful shout out in the Scottish Daily Record – the icing on the cake this year. I’ll be writing a blog post about that in 2016.
Looking back over the second half of the year I realise that I’ve been promoting more than I’ve been writing and I’ll have to rectify that. But it hasn’t all been about books and writing . . . I’ve also spent time with my family, have welcomed a great nephew – Leonidas Daniel Alexander – into the world and had a wonderful Christmas with Bongo Man and Jasper.
In between doing all of the above I have managed to find time to create a newsletter! Do subscribe to it while you’re on this page . . . I hope to host giveaways, sneak previews of my new novel – including cover reveals – and the odd chapter or two. I’d love you to be part of it.
So, what does 2016 hold for me?
I’ve been asked to give a talk on self-publishing to third year creative writing students at De Montfort University and I’m very thrilled about that.
I’m also co-hosting two charity events with Adrienne Vaughan: one in February and another in June And, of course, I have a novel to write – I’m currently on 12k words; only another 90k to go. Simples.
Do let me know how 2015 panned out for you and what 2016 holds in store. Be Healthy and Happy and – as they say in Scotland – LANG MAY YER LUM REEK.
Friday 25th December to Friday 31st December my novels will be on Kindle Countdown promotion at 99p/99c
After that, they will revert back to full price
HERE ARE THE BLURBS
Fliss Bagshawe longs for a passport out of Pimlico where she works as a holistic therapist. After attending a party in Notting Hill she loses her job and with it the dream of being her own boss. She’s offered the chance to take over a failing therapy centre, but there’s a catch. The centre lies five hundred miles north in Wester Ross, Scotland. Fliss’s romantic view of the highlands populated by Men in Kilts is shattered when she has an upclose and personal encounter with the Laird of Kinloch Mara, Ruairi Urquhart. He’s determined to pull the plug on the business, bring his eccentric family to heel and eject undesirables from his estate – starting with Fliss. Facing the dole queue once more Fliss resolves to make sexy, infuriating Ruairi revise his unflattering opinion of her, turn the therapy centre around and sort out his dysfunctional family. Can Fliss tame the Monarch of the Glen and find the happiness she deserves?
BOOT CAMP BRIDE
Take an up-for-anything rookie reporter. Add a world-weary photo-journalist. Put them together . . . light the blue touch paper and stand well back! Posing as a bride-to-be, Charlee Montague goes undercover at a bootcamp for brides in Norfolk to photograph supermodel Anastasia Markova looking less than perfect. At Charlee’s side and posing as her fiancé, is Rafael Ffinch award winning photographer and survivor of a kidnap attempt in Colombia. He’s in no mood to cut inexperienced Charlee any slack and has made it plain that once the investigation is over, their partnership – and fake engagement – will be terminated, too. Soon Charlee has more questions than answers. What’s the real reason behind Ffinch’s interest in the boot camp? How is it connected to his kidnap in Colombia? In setting out to uncover the truth, Charlee puts herself in danger … As the investigation draws to a close, she wonders if she’ll be able to hand back the engagement ring and walk away from Rafa without a backward glance.
SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS
Where the men are men and the women are glad of it!
ISHABEL STUART is at the crossroads of her life. Her wealthy industrialist father has died unexpectedly, leaving her a half-share in a ruined whisky distillery and the task of scattering his ashes on a Munro. After discovering her fiancé playing away from home, she cancels their lavish Christmas wedding at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and heads for the only place she feels safe – Eilean na Sgairbh, a windswept island on Scotland’s west coast -where the cormorants outnumber the inhabitants, ten to one.
When she arrives at her family home – now a bed and breakfast managed by her left-wing, firebrand Aunt Esme, she finds a guest in situ – BRODIE. Issy longs for peace and the chance to lick her wounds, but gorgeous, sexy American, Brodie, turns her world upside down. In spite of her vow to steer clear of men, she grows to rely on Brodie. However, she suspects him of having an ulterior motive for staying at her aunt’s B&B on remote Cormorant Island. Having been let down twice by the men in her life, will it be third time lucky for Issy? Is it wise to trust a man she knows nothing about – a man who presents her with more questions than answers?
As for Aunt Esme, she has secrets of her own . viewBook.at/scotchontherocks
IT ONLY REMAINS FOR ME TO WISH YOU A HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A HEALTHY 2016
Here’s the blurb for Boot Camp Bride . . .
Take an up-for-anything rookie reporter. Add a world-weary photo-journalist. Put them together . . . light the blue touch paper and stand well back! Posing as a bride-to-be, Charlee Montague goes undercover at a boot camp for brides in Norfolk to photograph supermodel Anastasia Markova looking less than perfect. At Charlee’s side and posing as her fiancé, is Rafael Ffinch award winning photographer and survivor of a kidnap attempt in Colombia. He’s in no mood to cut inexperienced Charlee any slack and has made it plain that once the investigation is over, their partnership – and fake engagement – will be terminated, too. Soon Charlee has more questions than answers. What’s the real reason behind Ffinch’s interest in the boot camp? How is it connected to his kidnap in Colombia? In setting out to uncover the truth, Charlee puts herself in danger … As the investigation draws to a close, she wonders if she’ll be able to hand back the engagement ring and walk away from Rafa without a backward glance.
Some of the locations featured in BOOT CAMP BRIDE
Thanks to amazon.com for giving my three books a shout out today
And to Adrienne Vaughan of New Romantics Press for the headsup.
If you would like to read the blurb or “LOOK INSIDE” one of my books, go over to my Amazon page
You can read Tall Dark and Kilted and Boot Camp Bride *FREE* on#KindleUnlimited.
Yay. The day I’ve been dreaming of this since I started writing Scotch on the Rocks just over a year ago. Not quite publication day, but close.
I’ve loved writing this book and I owe a big debt to my writer and non-writer friends who have read it, commented and made suggestions along the way. Writing this novel has involved at least two research trips to Scotland (it’s a dirty job – what can I say?!) and hours spent pouring over catalogues of men in kilts. I have to thank Dr Nick Fiddes of http://www.scotweb.co.uk who so generously allowed me to use one of the images from his website. Sorry I had to decapitate the poor laddie.
Scotland, is a dreamy, mystical place and the further north one travels the more one feels it. It’s as if its situated smack in the middle of the biggest ley line on earth. Even though we were blasted by wind and rain in May during my research trip, I’m keen to go back again. If you’re wondering why I feel so drawn to this land and the people who live in it, read my upcoming blog – FIFTY SHADES OF PLAID. Who needs grey when they can have tartan? Ok, down to the business in hand.
Here’s the blurb for Scotch on the Rocks . . .
SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS – Where the men are men and the women are glad of it!
ISHABEL STUART is at the crossroads of her life.
Her wealthy industrialist father has died unexpectedly, leaving her a half-share in a ruined whisky distillery and the task of scattering his ashes on a Munroe. After discovering her fiancé playing away from home, she cancels their lavish Christmas wedding at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and heads for the only place she feels safe – Eilean na Sgairbh, a windswept island on Scotland’s west coast -where the cormorants outnumber the inhabitants, ten to one.
When she arrives at her family home – now a bed and breakfast managed by her left-wing, firebrand Aunt Esme, she finds a guest in situ – BRODIE. Issy longs for peace and the chance to lick her wounds, but gorgeous, sexy American, Brodie, turns her world upside down instead.
In spite of her vow to steer clear of men, she grows to rely on Brodie. However, she suspects him of having an ulterior motive for staying at her aunt’s B&B on remote Cormorant Island. Having been let down by the men in her life, will it be third time lucky for Issy? Is she wise to trust a man she knows nothing about – a man who presents her with more questions than answers?
As for Aunt Esme, she has secrets of her own . . .
If you are new to my novels, please check out my amazon page.
If you would like a chance to win a signed, paperback copy of Scotch on the Rocks, please go over to my Facebook author page and ‘share’ the link there. All participants will be entered into the draw and a winner selected and notified. Thank you. If you’d rather have a PDF/Mobi copy, I can do that, too.
If you are a blogger and would like me to write a post for your site, please get in touch. All my links are featured below. I’ll be organising a Facebook event on Monday 6th July 7pm – 9pm – please keep a look out and join in the fun.
http://www.newromanticspress.com twitter: @newromantics4
Lizzy, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog. I hope there will be cake and coffee shortly. And an appearance by Jasper the parrot!
You asked me to describe a typical writing day. I’d answer that it depends on where I am in the writing process. If I’m actually writing a novel, I try to put in a good four hours of solid work – afternoons are my best time. But there are other times, like now, when a book is being planned, when I might just read, download articles form the internet, and do some preliminary sketching. And I frequently take the plot for a long walk, just to straighten out bits when I’m not sure where it’s going to go.
Most writers when planning a book start at the beginning of the story and work their way through a sequential narrative until they reach the end. Crime writers do it backwards. We start with the crime, and who perpetrated the crime and then work out how and why it happened. This is why for all my books: the four Spy Girl books, the ebook Jigsaw Pieces and my latest novel Diamonds&Dust, I write the last page first. Then the ‘’hook’’ at the beginning. Then the rest of the story.
I like this sort of methodology, though I can understand that for the careful plotter it might drive them mad. Sometimes I haven’t a clue what is going to happen next as my teenage or adult protagonists study the facts and decide on their next move. I like my writing to challenge me as well as the reader – I could never be one of those writers who has to make 50 pages of notes before placing fingers upon keyboard. I’d get bored. Very bored. I like to walk away from every writing session thinking: OK, how the heck am I going to get my people out of this?
Of course, around and beyond every book, there has to be the marketing! I love social media, and use different forums for different approaches. Facebook is great for posting news, family pics and seeing what everyone else is up to. Twitter is wonderful for meeting people other than writers and engaging in witty (!) banter. And I have a weekly blog, where I can invite writers – you sat on The Pink Sofa recently- to showcase their work. I also use the blog to publish short funny pieces about the lunacy that is my life.
I really try not to ‘’sell’’ my stuff too pushily on any site I use. Some writers do and it turns people off. You sell more by being a fun person and interacting with others, I think. Then they get to know and like you, want to read your stuff, and end up doing the ‘selling’ for you!
If I were starting out writing now, I think the best advice I could give to myself is to keep going and believe in what I was writing. It seems daunting with so many new books coming out every week, and so many ways of publication. And yet, there’s always room for one more lovely book …. so place backside on chair, place fingers on keyboard…..and go for it!
Currently, I’m working on the third book in the Diamonds&Dust series. The first book, published by Crooked Cat Books and available in print and ebook, is set in 1860 London. It tells the story of two women, Josephine King, an orphan and heiress, and Lilith Marks, a jewish prostitute. Their lives cross when Josephine’s uncle and Lilith’s lover Herbert King is brutally murdered one night. Set against the backdrop of the great gas-lit city, the two women are drawn together in their quest to discover just wo killed the man they both loved.
The second book, which features the same pair of detectives: Leo Stride & Jack Cully, is set in 1861. The third will be set in 1862. Diamonds&Dust has been very well received, given that it is not the traditional run of the mill historical crime fiction. The biggest buzz has been the number of Twitter readers who’ve let me know how much they’ve enjoyed it. My publisher has been inundated by Tweets asking when the next one is coming out. Such a lovely and totally unlooked for compliment! (The answer may be Nov/Dec this year).
I am amazed that at my time of life (I’m pushing 64 but not speeding) a whole new writing career in historical adult crime fiction has opened up. Hopefully other older writers might look at my writing trajectory and be inspired. I’d be overjoyed if that happened.
Carol Hedges is the successful UK author of 11 books for teenagers and young adults, one ebook and one adult historical novel. Her books have been shortlisted for various prizes and her YA novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery is her first adult novel. It was published in 2013 by Crooked Cat Books, and is available as book and ebook on Smashwords, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com or to order in bookshops.
Find Carol on Twitter:
Read her award winning blog:
Send her a Friend request on Facebook
Visit her Amazon author page:
My name is Rosie Amber, I’m an author, book reviewer and blogger. I live in the county of Hampshire in the UK. Blogging opened up a whole new world to me and I have met some lovely people. I try to publish a blog post every single day because my blog is still quite new and I need to keep readers interested. I began my blog primarily to help promote my own book, but it has become a much bigger part of my life. I’m now able to use my love of reading and my blog to help promote other people books too.
My first published book is called “Talk of the Playground” (Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com)and is a fun tale of the ins and outs of an English village school. I call it my work of love rather than my work of art because it meant so much to me at the time. I learnt a lot about writing and self-publishing and have learnt even more from blogging and reading other writers work. Now I’m working on a big edit of my book because I love evolving as a writer.
I love reading. In the Goodreads 2013 challenge I read 154 books, this year I expect to increase that number. Nearly every book I read gets a review on Goodreads, Amazon and my blog, with links to my Facebook author page, Google+ and Twitter. I also do Guest Author Interviews and take part in book related tours.
In 2013 I was lucky enough to be invited to write a monthly book review page for a local magazine called “Fleet Life”. 5000 copies go out locally and the magazine has an online version too, I usually review 5 books of my choice per month for the magazine. In 2014 I also picked up its sister magazine Elvetham Heath Directory which has 2000 copies and an online version, I do a different set of reviews in each magazine.
I love keeping my blog fresh; in April 2013 I took part in my first April A to Z Challenge and I blogged my way through the alphabet matching book titles to the letters of the alphabet. This year I took part for a second year and again promoted books using all the letters of the alphabet, it is a great way to meet lots of new bloggers from all over the world.
Never one to stand still for long I recently completed a year-long challenge that I set myself on the day I began reading a book called “A Year of Doing Good” by Judith O’Reilly.
Judith challenged herself to do Good Deeds for a whole year and wrote a truly inspirational book about what happened. Judith undertook giant acts of good, my own challenge was to do just 1 Good Deed a day for a year. Every Sunday I updated my readers with my latest deeds. On April 16th 2014 I celebrated completing my challenge and am now carrying on for a second year. Do come and check it out.
My most recent addition to the blog is a page I’m building on resources for writers. It features people who offer editing services, marketing, promotion, book covers, book reviewers etc and I shall be adding more.
Any teacher will tell you that some children get a new concept first time. But for most children a new concept has to be presented in a number of different ways before they gain full understanding. This is referred to as ‘the spiral of learning’ (i.e presenting the same piece of information in as many visual and kinetic forms as possible. This is just as true when we are attempting to bring our novels to the attention of agents, publishers and readers.
Consciously or unconsciously we are applying a method known as The Reticular Activating System.
Pay attention (!) Here’s the science part – The Reticular Activating System acts as a filter for all of the sensory inputs we receive. It decides what is and is not important and what we need to pay attention to. Otherwise, we would suffer from information overload. The ‘filter’ sits between the subconscious and conscious minds, and is programmed by the conscious mind. It is this ability to filter information which makes the Reticular Activating System so important in achieving our goals.
The short version: to make YOUR novel stand out from the ‘crowd’ you need to get your name and book title across in as many different forms as possible so that it ‘sticks’ in people’s conscious minds. I know this works because when I attend conferences, book fairs and writing events (wearing a name badge) I am often approached by other writers who ask: ‘how do I know your name!?’
How do we achieve an on-line presence?
I believe through some of the following . . .
- updating your own blog and/or guesting on other blogs
- following favourite blogs, ticking ‘like’, ‘sharing’ blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Linked In
- by sharing through these media your profile, avatar and/or your novel thumbnail will, hopefully, appear in different versions of internet ‘paper.li(s)’ out there – for example The Famous Five Plus, thus widening your appeal
- through activation of SEO (search engine optimisation); every well-aimed click and share will have an impact on your place on the social network rankings
- ensure that your avatar and your profile on Twitter publicise your novels
- don’t forget to include links to your books on amazon etc (using viewbook/bytly/tinyurl shortened links
- ensure that your tweets are a mixture of things about yourself, your writing, use trending hashtags; don’t forget to promote other writers generously
- promote your novel by quoting a review/ or dialogue from your novel in your tweets
- make the potential reader want to download your work by utilising hashtags such as #Fridayreads. #amwriting, #Mondayblogs and genre specific hashtags to bring more traffic (and potential readers) to your door
- widen your net of social contacts – don’t just befriend writers, befriend readers, too. I’ve made lots of friends on twitter and they have loyally downloaded my novels and left reviews
- don’t forget to thank people for promoting you and ALWAYS return the favour
- have your own page where you engage with potential readers, many of whom will go on to become your friends. I try to include a photo in my status updates as this draws friends to my page.
- minimise your ‘writer news’ on this page otherwise people switch off and unfriend you
- join some of the many sub groups and dip into them once a week or whenever to talk about your writing and establish a friendly Facebook presence
- build up an author page(s) and LIKE others’ pages when asked. Don’t be shy about asking for LIKES to be reciprocated. It takes a long time to build up these kinds of relationships
- I try to post something every day on my author page, not only about me and my writing but about other authors, too. @sharing’ other author’s posts works well in this case, too.
- I find that Facebook friends like to read about your pets. When it was my parrot’s birthday in February he got over seventy ‘happy birthday’ messages (!)
- join in with Facebook ‘events’ you’re invited to, even if it’s only to leave a passing comment. SEO comes into play with every click.
Consider joining Watt Pad, Instagram, Goodreads and Tumbler etc to get the message about you and your books ‘out there’. Build up your social networking presence gradually, mix it up, be creative. You’re in charge, so make it work for you – – – and remember the Reticular Activating System and utilise it. It’s a scientific fact.
I’ll leave you with the million dollar question:
Does social networking help to sell books?
The jury’s still out – but I believe that (as an indie author) having a social networking presence has helped me to bring my novels to readers’ attention. Finally, I would just say to any unpublished authors out there that, while your time is your ‘own’, get your social networking ducks in a row. When publication day arrives, you won’t have time to establish contacts, develop friendships and ask potential readers to buy your book – you’ll be too busy using social networking to get word out about the marvellous book you have just written.
Firstly, a big thank-you to Lizzie for having me on her lovely blog.I think she would agree with me when I say that, for many people, writing is a vocation. It is chosen for you and not by you. Many months or years can pass without you following that dream and it can be interrupted mid flow by unforeseen circumstances but, in your heart, the desire to write will not let go of you, despite whatever life path you may be led down. Some stories are like that too. They hover at your shoulder, waiting for their moment. They provide valuable lessons in patience and perseverance, amongst many other things.
Last Chance Angel was like that. The beginnings of this story go back to when I was living in Oxford and taking my A’levels. I was on my bicycle and involved in a collision with a car. I had a lucky escape and my good fortune was constantly at the back of my mind over the following years. I had no idea that this would be the catalyst for a story which has now been short-listed for five awards including the Romantic Novelists’ Association Award in the young adult category. In some ways I consider it a miracle that this story was completed at all, just as it was a miracle that day that I was not seriously hurt.
Once I actually put pen to paper, (and I do always begin my first drafts in this way) it took many more years before the book was ready for submission. This book was witness to many ups and downs in my life, both personally and professionally. In the middle of it I stopped writing altogether and wondered at times if I would ever find the strength and resilience to once again take up the reins of my writing life. But, little by little I did and it is thanks to this book. This was a story which would not let go of me and for my own self-respect I knew that I could not let go of it.
I had no idea whether anyone would want to publish it but I promised myself that if no-one did, I would publish it myself. I had formed a bond with Jess, my main character; I wanted her voice to be heard and I wanted my hours of work to see the light. I hoped that a few people at least might enjoy reading it. I was incredibly lucky to find a mainstream publisher and not just any publisher, but the right one for this book. Templar have supported me every step of the way. It has been an amazing experience and I cannot thank them enough.
This book will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s the one that got me back into writing. To any writers out there who are sitting at the page and thinking ‘is this really worth it?’ or those of you who say to themselves and others ‘I’d love to write a book but don’t think I could’ I would say this; it is worth it and yes you can. Do not look back in years to come with regrets; follow your dream; dig deep when times get tough and even if you have to step aside for a while, make yourself a promise not to give up.
You can find out more about my writing life at alex-gutteridge.blogspot.co.uk and follow me on Twitter at alexgutteridge1