Blog Archives

My best week ever . . .

For those of you who read my previous blog post about being shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists” Association Indie Champion of the Year I have some follow-on news to share.

I learned via Melanie Griffiths (PA to the RNA Committee) that BBC Radio Leicester would like to interview me about my path to publication and my thoughts on being shortlisted for the award.

Many moons ago, when Adrienne Vaughan, June Kearns and Mags Cullingford and I formed New Romantics Press, Radio Leicester – thanks to Adrienne’s PR contacts – sent two reporters to find out what indie publishing was all about. We met in The Bell, Burton Overy and had a fabulous morning talking about books and hopes for the future. A four legged friend even came along to boost our confidence – not that we stopped talking all morning.

But last week’s interview was different. I now have six books under my belt and the RNA kindly arranged everything. Sadly, because of the pandemic I was unable to go into Radio Leicester’s studios and the interview had to be conducted over the phone. As a former teacher, I’m used to public speaking and over the years have held workshops and given talks in libraries and to other writers’ groups without blinking. But this was different. It was the first time I’d been interviewed without any of New Romantic Press being present. Luckily, the journalist who interviewed me, Summaya Mughal, was professional and a really lovely person and soon put me at my ease.

You can listen to the whole interview here. I hope you find time to listen to my interview as it will disappear off the Radio Leicester website by Friday 5th November..

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p09xcd8c

Summaya asked me:

  • how did I get into writing
  • where my love of romantic fiction stems from
  • how ‘Scottish-themed’ romance differs from other romantic genres
  • what attracts readers to romantic fiction
  • how Leicestershire and Rutland Chapter of the RNA came into being
  • how did it feel to be nominated for the award
  • what is novel #7 about

Summaya said: “I haven’t really read any romantic novels”. Naturally, I had to rectify that. I headed for the Radio Leicester studios two days later to drop off a copy of Harper’s Highland Fling along with a thank you letter. However, due to Covid, the premises were locked and barred so left the package in the mail box. On my way back to the car park I called into newly opened indie bookshop FOX BOOKS. It’s such a rarity to find an independent bookshop which looks favourably on indie authors and is willing to stock their novels. Look out for future blog posts about Fox Books and me.

And, finally . . . I learned that I’d had a press release in the Leicester Mercury, too, so my week was complete.

For now, though, it’s back to the keyboard, getting on with #7 – working title: DARK HIGHLAND SKIES – and biting my fingernails until the award ceremony of October 28th. It would be nice to win, of course it would, but I’ll carry on writing, flying the indie flag and supporting the RNA whatever the outcome

.

My WIP stands at 42k but I need to get motoring if I want to have it ready to send to my formatter before spring 2022. My ancient computer is about to give up the ghost but I don’t want to buy a new one and have to learn its idiosyncrasies before I finish the novel. Luckily I store everything on ‘DROPBOX’ in case of system failure and email copies to myself every night before I switch off. Maybe in my next blog post I’ll give you a hint what the novel is about.

Have a great weekend

BREAKING NEWS – RNA INDIE CHAMPION OF THE YEAR AWARD

I’m super thrilled to announce that I’ve been shortlisted for the inaugural ‘INDIE CHAMPION OF THE YEAR AWARD 2021′ by the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

I’ve been blogging for quite some time but some of my newer followers might not know the story behind my writing journey. So I thought it might be a good idea to bring you all up to date. If you’d like to learn more about the award, here’s a link to the article in The Bookseller.

This link takes you to the RNA blog and more information.

Being shortlisted for such a prestigious award has given me a chance to reflect on what – to date – has been a wonderful career as an author. I am grateful for the fabulous friendships I have made throughout this journey, hopefully helping and inspiring others to achieve their publishing dream too.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer of romantic fiction. Being an indie author works for me as it gives me the opportunity to work at a pace which suits me. Going it alone, without the backing of a publisher/agent has been challenging at times and I wouldn’t have come this far without the expertise and generous support of the Romantic Novelists’ Association at local and national level. I was one of the first full members of the ‘Independent’ arm of the RNA and, with a little help from my friends, have gone on from strength to strength, learning all the time.

This support has spurred me to write and publish six novels with the seventh currently underway. Here are some photos I thought I would share with you.

I’ve never been a ‘lonely in a garret’ type and embraced the notion of networking with and learning from other writers early on. I joined the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and formed the Leicestershire & Rutland Chapter – the Belmont Belles and Beaux – with June Kearns almost fifteen years ago. From a standing start we now have 63 members and as part of our ethos of being inclusive and sharing our experiences, we have organised and hosted a range of events including talks from:

  • Bestselling authors: Carole Matthews, Cathy Bramley, Sue Moorcroft and Louise Jensen
  • Workshops & writing groups
  • Plus ‘sharing-knowledge’ events featuring invited book bloggers/agents & publishers and other publishing technicians.
RNA writers meeting in my garden at the end of a workshop which I organised.
The writer on the back row in the kingfisher blue cardigan is Sarah Houldcroft of Goldcrest Books who formats my books and uploads them on to Amazon.
Highly recommended.

Nearly ten years ago along with June, Adrienne and Mags I co-founded an indie publishing group – New Romantics Press. To date we have published a total of 15 books between us – many of which have won awards for romantic fiction. 

I’ve written and published six novels, with no 7 well underway. Of those, Scotch on the Rocks and Girl in the Castle have been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize with Harper’s Highland Fling and Bootcamp Bride and Take Me, I’m Yours becoming #1 in their genre on  the Amazon charts. I am very proud of my achievements and still think back to the heady days when I published Tall, Dark and Kilted and reflect how much publishing has changed since then.

I was a primary school teacher for 34 years and am happy that I’ve been given the chance to help others achieve their publishing dream. Once a teacher, always a teacher – right?

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

So, to conclude this blog pots, I’ve booked the train, bought the ticket and reserved a room for October 28th – the night of the ceremony. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see how I get on. In the meantime I’ve got a new novel to write, currently standing at 40:110k words. Is it set in Scotland / does it feature a new hot hero in a kilt? You bet it does.

Have a great weekend and enjoy reading my blog. Please leave a comment if you have time. It’s always refreshing and inspiring to hear from my followers. All the best –

Bloggy McBlogface #2 – Rosslyn Chapel and the Royal Yacht Britannia

This post is part #2 of our tour of Scotland this summer, from Edinburgh to Balnakeil in the north west corner of Scotland and back to Glasgow.

I’d always wanted to visit Rosslyn Chapel – and the Royal Yacht Britannia, and that’s exactly what we did.

I was intrigued to compare the actual chapel to the scenes from the movie – but was disappointed to discovered they only filmed the scene in the crypt there. So no cabalistic signs, Knights Templar or hidden symbols connecting the chapel to the Virgin Mary, but lots to see, otherwise.  The chapel is full of the most  amazing  carvings, including a frieze of maize or Indian Corn surrounding a window. This was constructed fifty years before Columbus discovered America in 1492 – so, go figure, as they say.

(sadly, no internal photos so you’ll have to go to the website for those.) Here are my photos . . . click on each one for a description.

If you arrive before 11am you can join the FREE guided tour, which is well worth it. The guide said that the chapel was falling down around their ears and they prayed for a miracle. God sent them one in the shape of Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code. Now the chapel is being preserved for posterity. Great cafe, too, in case you wondered.

The Royal Yacht Britannia – well worth the money

We spent a very happy three hours looking round the RY Britannia. With our headsets we explored the yacht at our own pace and you really do have ‘access to all areas’, including HM’s bedroom.  Parking is free and the tour cost £13.50. Amazingly, the yacht is moored at the end of the Britannia Shopping Mall, Leith and, if at the end of your time you still have energy, there’s a great shopping centre there, too.  Here are the pics . . . click on each one for a description. Of course, being us, the tour started in the restaurant where we had tea and scones (not silly prices, either).

2016-06-18 11.47.48

tea and scones, anyone?

We spent a lot of time practising saying: The Leith Police dismisseth us, in order to prove we were sober, so we felt we’d earned our tea break.

We’ve spent many summer on the Isle of Wight and the ferry took us past the Royal Yacht moored off Cowes in the Solent. It was sad to see this grand old lady moored next to a shopping centre, IMHO, but at least we had a chance to look round which otherwise would have been denied to us. Of course, we were interested to see the bedroom and sitting rooms and they were all of show, along with boiler rooms etc.

Everything is very simple and pared back. Apparently, Her Maj rejected for the first set of plans for being ‘too grand’, she wanted a ‘country house interior’, and that’s what she got. As I was peering into Charles and Diana’s bedroom – the only one with a double bed, which Charles ordered specially for their honeymoon – the ladies behind me were quite vocal on their opinion of ‘how he done her wrong,’ even after all this time.

The yacht had to be functional as well as ceremonial and it had its own laundry, dentist’s surgery, operating theatre and sick bay. You can see why everything has to be ‘shipshape and Bristol fashion,’ can’t you?

The lone figure at the end of the pier is an Antony Gormley sculpture (creator of the Angel of the North et al) and was is life-like that, apparently,  people keep ringing the police thinking someone’s about to throw himself into  the Firth of Forth.2016-06-18 12.16.25

I hope you’ve enjoyed my second blog post and that you may be tempted to visit Edinburgh and East Lothian for yourself. Scotland is a fascinating, beautiful, mystical country and has something for everyone. Next time, we’ll travel across the Forth Road Bridge and head for Inverness, Culloden and the Black Isle. I hope you’ll travel with me. In the meantime, do check out my novels on Amazon and feel free to sign up for my newsletter.

 

 

I can’t leave Edinburgh without sharing the last four photographs taken by author Helen Barrell who took Tall, Dark and Kilted back to its roots in Scotland. Thanks Helen!

HOW TO WRITE A REVIEW AND HELP YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHORS

Authors know how difficult it is to build a following of loyal readers and to gently persuade those  readers to review their book once they’ve read it. To help redress that, August 2016 has been decreed Write An Amazon Review Month! By @TerryTyler4 #AugustReviews and we’re going to do our bit to help.

On Monday 25th July, book blogger Rosie Amber wrote this post encouraging readers and writers alike to post a short review on Amazon for any book they’ve read and enjoyed ~ following this up, Terry Tyler is starting this initiative along with other writer-bloggers including Rosie, Cathy from Between The Lines, Barb Taub, Shelley Wilson and Alison WilliamsThe idea is that, from August 1st, everyone who reads this uses their Amazon account to post just one review on one book that they’ve read (but feel free to carry on if you get in the swing!).  You don’t even have to have read it recently, it can be any book you’ve read, any time.  The book does not have to have been purchased from Amazon, though if it is you get the ‘Verified Purchase’ tag on it; however, if you download all your books via Kindle Unlimited, as many do these days, they don’t show the VP tag, anyway.

Remember, this isn’t the Times Literary Supplement, it’s Amazon, where ordinary people go to choose their next £1.99 Kindle book

No one expects you to write a thousand word, in-depth critique; I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to read one short paragraph or a couple of lines saying what an average reader thought of a book, than a long-winded essay about the pros and cons of the various literary techniques used.  Yes, those are welcome too (!), but no more so than a few words saying “I loved this book, I was up reading it until 3am”, or “I loved Jim and Vivien and the dialogue was so realistic”, or whatever!

Why should you write a review?

  • They help book buyers make decisions.  Don’t you read the reviews on Trip Advisor before deciding on a hotel, or any site from which you might buy an item for practical use?  Book reviews are no different
  • If the book is by a self-published author, or published by an independent press, the writers have to do all their promotion and marketing themselves ~ reviews from the reading public is their one free helping hand
  • The amount of reviews on Amazon helps a book’s visibility (allegedly).  If you love a writer’s work and want others to do so, too, this is the best possible way of making this happen
  • It’s your good deed for the day, and will only take five minutes

2015-09-11 07.41.30Internet hug

Off we go, then!  A few more pointers:

  1. If you need any help with writing your review, do click on Rosie’s post, above.
  2. A review can be as short as one word.  The shortest one I have is just two 🙂
  3. You don’t have to put your name to the review, as your Amazon ‘handle’ can be anything you like.
  4. No writer expects all their reviews to be 5* and say the book is the best thing ever written; there is a star rating guide on Rosie’s post.

Would you like to tell the Twittersphere about your review?  If so, tweet the link to it with the hashtag #AugustReviews ~ and thank you!  2015-08-14 08.14.06

 One last thing . . .  if you haven’t read any of my books but like well-written romantic comedies with lots of sassy humour, great characters, fabulous locations and heroes to swoon over – give one of them a try. And don’t forget that review (!)

1-Latest Gary poster

 

 

Bloggy McBlogface #1 – Edinburgh

2016-06-16 10.55.52-1

My books had been working so hard to sell and promote themselves that I felt they needed a holiday. Where to go? Why – Bonnie Scotland – where else? After upgrading our caravan to one with a fixed bed, we set off for in June to tour Scotland, writing and finding inspiration for my next novel(s). Here are some interior shots of caravan #3 – no more making and unmaking the bed every morning before we could have breakfast.

 

Did I mention that the parrot came, too? Here he is, surveying his wide domain (thru the rain) and telling anyone who walked past us that they SHOULDN’T COME TOO CLOSE – this is Jasper’s house.

2016-06-25 08.33.35

First stop – Auld Reekie – Edinburgh

We camped at Davidson’s Mains just outside Edinburgh and took the shuttle bus into Auld Reekie. I wanted to take a literary /historical tour of the city and notable writers and characters associated with it – Walter Scott, Ian Rankin, JK Rowling, Grey Friar’s Bobby . Sadly, the Elephant House was too busy and we couldn’t get in or add to the graffiti in the toilets (permitted) – next time maybe.

2016-06-21 15.21.53-1An Edinburgh ‘Close’ just off the Royal Mile – couldn’t you just imagine Inspector Rebus looking for clues to a murder in its narrow confines?

We spent quite some time exploring Greyfriars churchyard and stood on the spot where the Covenant was signed in 1638 as a protest against the rule of bishops. It’s a part of history which has largely been forgotten, however, you could easily spend half a morning looking round the church and the exhibition and absorbing the incredible atmosphere.

2016-06-21 11.30.42

As you can see, the history of this incredible churchyard stretches back into the 16th century

2016-06-21 11.37.05

Memorial to the original Covenanters and those who lost their lives fighting for their beliefs

 

Next, we walked the Royal Mile to a Clarinda’s Tearooms, (bit of a theme developing here!) a cafe recommended by Facebook friends/readers. Clarinda is buried in the nearby Canon Gate cemetery and is alleged to be the lover referred to in Burns’ Aye Fond Kiss.2016-06-21 13.24.03

One of the next sites we visited (oh, our aching feet) was the Mercat Cross on the Royal Mile. It is said that while the artillery was being prepared before the Battle of Flodden (1513), a demon called Plotcock read out the names of those who would be killed. Edinburgh is such an ancient city, it’s hard NOT to believe such stories when you’re there.

 

2016-06-21 15.23.39

A view looking down the Royal Mile towards the Firth of Forth and Leith

2016-06-21 14.16.25

My ‘snap’ of the St Giles Mercat Cross didn’t show up very well, but this one is close by

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally – what of my books? Well, lovely author friend Helen Barrell (check out her debut novel via this link) went to Edinburgh earlier this year and took a copy of Tall, Dark and Kilted with her. Here are some of HER pics. If you’ve enjoyed following my adventures (with novels and parrot) watch out for Bloggy McBlogface #2 when I tell you all about touring the Royal Yacht Britannia and our visit to Rosslyn Chapel (the Da Vinci Code).

 

The Best Five Pounds I’ve Ever Spent!

One of the great things about living in Leicester – apart from The Foxes winning the Championship League, and finding The King in the Carpark (Richard III), is being on the main line to London.Adrienne in garden. (landscape)

 Yesterday, fellow New Romantic – Adrienne Vaughan – travelled with me to London for the best event of the summer, so far. For a mere £5 we bought a ticket to Romance in the Court, a fabulous event organised by David Headley’s Goldsboro Books. 

The event was held in historic Cecil Court on a beautiful summer’s evening.

There, amidst a fabulous gathering of romance writers, readers and supporters, I met old friends, made new ones and got down to the all important business of networking. As a writer, I’m never sure if the time I spend away from the WIP is really productive, so it was reassuring to meet new readers who said they knew me from a variety of social media: Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. And, as a result of ‘getting my name out there’, one reader had downloaded all my books. RESULT!

However, before I upload more photos, let me digress and share our bit of good fortune with you. En route to the event, I popped into Aspinalls in St Pancras (as a girl does) to buy the Swarovski ‘bag hook’ I’d been promising myself as a reward for working hard on #4. In a scene reminiscent from Love Actually , the manager  wrapped my present in an four different types of gift wrapping. He also put four boiled sweets in the bag. I know, I know it should have been a cinnamon stick, but I’m not complaining for the best was yet to come!

He asked us what we were doing in London. Quick as a flash we handed him our business cards. Mightily impressed, he asked if we would come down to his store in the autumn to an author event which he would organise: prosecco, nibbles, book signing etc. He also mentioned that he liked to’ take care of his girls’, which made Adrienne think (optimistically) that she would be getting a set of matching Aspinall luggage.  A girl can dream, can’t she? So, before we get ahead of ourselves,here are the rest of the photos. 

And there’s more. Click on each photo to see who’s who !

And, finally, a great photo of David Headley with Carole Matthews (courtesy of Carole and Kev). Many thanks to them for allowing me to use one of Kev’s photos at the top of this blog. 2016-05-27 10.14.36

 As you can see, a fabulous time was had by all. The best five pounds I’ve ever spent. I’m hoping that David will host a similar event next summer . . . no pressure, obvs.

 PhotoFunia-1461314437

And, just before I sign off, keep your eyes peeled for an exciting announcement coming from New Romantics Press this summer. But, hush, hush, it’s top secret  . . . for now! 

How to self-publish your novel – a workshop is announced

promo (chopped) (2).png

As some of you may know, I was a teacher for thirty four years before I became a writer. Now that I have co-founded an indie collaborative, published three novels, (one of which became a bestseller in its genre), reached the final of the prestigious Exeter Novel Prize, and written 52,000 words of my fourth novel – it seemed a natural progression that I should share what I’ve learned with other writers.

2006-07-14 13.53.08

my last day as a deputy headteacher

Over the last year and a half I have given talks  to writers’ groups, Ladies’ Luncheon  Clubs, RNA chapters,  third year Arts students at De Montfort University, Leicester and organised self-publishing workshops. I am very excited about my latest venture – outlined above – a four hour talk on how to self publish one’s novel.  It wasn’t until I started planning my talk that I realised how far I’d come and how much I’d learned since publishing Tall, Dark and Kilted in November 2012.

SELF PUBLISHING IS NOT FOR SISSIES

So what will I cover during my talk?

here’s a brief outline –

  • what to do now you’ve finished your novel
  • where to have your manuscript critiqued, edited, proofread, formatted for kindle
  • where to buy stock images/ have front cover images professionally designed
  • Amazon ISBN vs Nielsen ISBN – which is best for an indie author?
  • point attendees towards two  ‘how to’ self-help books available in the kindle library
  • explain the difference between formatting a ms for Kindle and Paperback
  • how to negotiate your way round CreateSpace and create your ‘free’ paperback
  • Tax witholding for non-US publishers
  • explain how KDP Select/ KNRP/Kindle Unlimited works for indie publishers
  • to preorder or not?
  • how Scotch on the Rocks became a best seller within two weeks of publication
  • how to form an indie collaborative

1-Latest Gary poster

Many thanks to Alison Knight, fellow member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association for inviting me to give this talk. Here’s Alison’s latest novel – Rosie Goes to War..

Alison Knight

 

 

 

If you are interested in attending this workshop, book a place by contacting the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre on: 01249 705500

 

 

  • I also present workshops on how to sell books through social media
  • readers – where to find them and how to keep them!
  • how to write contemporary romance
  • I am available for Weddings, Christenings and Bar Mitzvahs (just kidding)

2016-03-18 13.32.26

A recent workshop held in Leicester

Exeter Novel Prize – here comes Lizzie

 

Just leaving for Devon where the Exeter Novel Prize ceremony will take place on Saturday 12th March – the day after my birthday. I’m a finalist for the award and have beaten hundreds of other writers to get here. I’m the only indie author to have made the final. Even better, the short list has been drawn up by fabulous agent Broo Doherty. Woo hoo. Go me! The novel which has been short listed is my #1 best seller – Scotch on the Rocks. If you want to find out more about  that novel, read this blog. I’ll report back next week, hopefully clutching one of the prizes.

1-PhotoFunia-1453642738

Lovely blogger and huge supporter of indie authors – Rose Amber – reads her review of SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS

 

If you’d like to read about the locations I use in my novels – then check out this fabulous blog post by Barb Taub

2015-03-07 17.44.31.jpg

 

And finally . . . a heart warming review by Sharon Booth

My favourite bit? This . . .

“Romance? The best kind. It starts off with mistrust and doubt, sparks fly, passion ignites and then…Well, some romances are forever. There’s nothing so romantic as a hero who vows never to hurt the heroine, never to leave her, and to love her forever. Especially when you just know he’s speaking the truth.”

 

img_3130

Tuesday Book Blog

Many thanks to Luccia Gray for interviewing me on her fabulous blog and for reviewing Scotch on the Rocks. Since then, Scotch on the Rocks has been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize The first novel by an indie author to reach the final six . . .

Exeter Novel Prize

Here is a link to Luccia’post . . .

 

I am really getting stuck in with my new novel – working title, This Highland Magic and love meeting my new characters and writing about them. Here’s the blurb. Doubtless it will change through the course of the novel being finished! Those characters have a way of ‘taking over’. Here’s my up-to-date word count, too . . .

1-PhotoFunia-1456995759

Dr Henriette Bruar travels to Wester Ross to catalogue the library  of an ancient castle set in the middle of a remote Highland loch. The laird, Sir Malcolm MacKenzie, of that Ilk, is pressed for cash and is selling off the estate’s assets, including the library to subsidise his extravagant life style. This doesn’t please his son, Keir, who fears there will be nothing of the estate left to inherit. To all outward appearances, Henriette seems like any run of the mill academic, unremarkable even. However, in her heart of hearts, she sees herself as a cross between Indiana Jones and the Relic Hunter and dreams of someday finding a precious manuscript, a hidden treasure or unlocking family secrets. At Castle Treamannair, she sets out to do just that. By the end of the novel, Henri learns that treasure comes in many guises and, sometimes, family secrets are best left undisturbed.

My spring newsletter will be coming out in March and I’ll be giving away a paperback copy of Tall, Dark and Kilted and other prizes. If you haven’t already subscribed, sign up here – and join in the fun . . .

Bye for now,

Lizzie x

 

Adrienne’s Trip to the Romance Writers’ of America’s Award Ceremony

http://newromanticspress.com/2016/01/23/fairy-tale-of-new-york/

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.

 

2015-08-08 11.03.00.jpg

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.

2015-08-05 09.51.39

I couldn’t resist posing for her !!

One day It’ll be our turn to step up onto that stage and get an award.

%d bloggers like this: