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My 10 point guide on how to be a (successful) indie author – part #1

This blog post is the result of #UKROMCHAT inviting me onto their fab site. I thought the notes were too good to be hidden away in one of my box files. I hope you find the post interesting.  Do share/comment/ask questions, that’s what this post is all about.

 1.Please tell us about your latest book Take Me, I’m Yours

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India Buchanan plans to set up an English-Style bed and breakfast establishment in her great-aunt’s home, MacFarlane’s Landing, Wisconsin. But she’s reckoned without opposition from Logan MacFarlane whose family once owned her aunt’s house and now want it back. MacFarlane is in no mood to be denied. His grandfather’s living on borrowed time and Logan has vowed to ensure the old man sees out his days in their former home. India’s great-aunt has other ideas and has threatened to burn the house to the ground before a MacFarlane sets foot in it. There’s a story here. One the family elders aren’t prepared to share. When India finds herself in Logan’s debt, her feelings towards him change. However, the past casts a long shadow and events conspire to deny them the love and happiness they. Can India and Logan’s love overcome all odds? Or is history about to repeat itself? You can read an extract.

2.This is your first book set outside of the UK. What drew you to Wisconsin. 

Back in the day I trained a teaching student from Oshkosh University for two terms. We became great friends and I had a standing invitation to go over to stay with her in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. I did just that for five weeks one summer and when I flew back from Chicago I promised I would write a romance set in Wisconsin. Last year I learned she has Parkinson’s Disease and that galvanised me into action – this book is for her.

3.OK, we need to know about Sexy Scottish Lairds and Hunky Marine Biologists…

#3cWell, if you insist. I am a dyed-in-the-wool romantic. For some women, it’s Regency Rakes, Cowboys or Navy Seals, but for me it’s a man-in-a-kilt. If he’s a highland laird or the heir to a highland estate so much the better. Not because of wealth or  belonging to an aristocratic family but because I love a hero who isn’t afraid to shoulder responsibility, care for his tenants and who has a strong connection with the land. Those attributes, allied with a sharp mind, a sense of humour and a willingness to care for the heroine wins me over. As for marine biologists: who could resist Daniel Craig or Sean Connery emerging from the surf in a wetsuit – budgie smugglers, not so much! Urgh.

4 and 5.Please tell us about your writing journey prior to New Romantics Press being founded

I had bagged an agent (the late Dot Lumley) and HM&B were showing interest in my writing.  In 1990 I reached a crossroads, continue with my writing or accept a deputy headship of a large primary school. Because of the demanding nature of teaching, I knew I couldn’t do both and chose the latter. In 2006 I took early retirement from teaching joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted and submitted it for a critique. I was told it was ‘almost ready’ to start sending out to agents but needed more polishing. etc. In the meantime, I co-founded NRP with other members of the RNA/NWS. Then, over lunch in my garden, author Amanda Grange advised us to consider self-publishing on amazon. The algorithms were changing and . . . well, you can read more about it here –  That was in 2012 and we’ve never looked back. I only wish I’d had the chutzpah to self-publish a year earlier because terms were more favourable on Amazon at that point.

New Romantics Press is keen to find new readers and share our work with them. Over the last six years we have published fifteen books between us and are currently working on new titles. Our motto is: Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves and you can read more about us on in this blog

6.What are the benefits of collaborating with other authors?

Well, for one thing, you are never more than a phone call away from a good mate who will listen to your writing woes, meet you for coffee and offer sound advice. Between us, we have a wealth of knowledge about indie publishing, social media, PR – and what one of us doesn’t know, the others will find out! I couldn’t imagine being without my NRP support system.

Your events sound like fun . . . #5bMost readers and bloggers mention how much fun we have promoting our books. Writing can be a lonely occupation. As authors, we spend most of the time hidden away in our studies/offices tapping at the keyboard. When we do get out, we like to let our hair down. Warning: our events involve laughter and prosecco, so only like-minded writers and readers need apply.

In 2019, Adrienne Vaughan and I will be running a series of workshops for novice and intermediate writers, sharing our knowledge and giving them the confidence to finish their WIP. On a more personal note, before the end of 2018, I have a library talk, a lecture on indie publishing to deliver at De Montfort University, I’m hosting a workshop featuring Kim Nash of Bookouture – and organising a Christmas Party for the Belmont Belles (the Leicester Chapter of the RNA) with guest speaker Carole Matthews. Oh, and I have another novel to write – no pressure, obvs.img_3267

Here endeth the first part of my talk. Do join me next time when I will be covering the following aspects of writing:

  • the difference between self-publishing and indie publishing
  • advice for writers considering self-publishing/indie publishing
  • my thoughts about taking a hybrid approach
  • plotters vs pantsers
  • top tips for finishing a novel 
  • choosing and researching the location of my novels
  • why do I write happily ever after novels 

Laters,

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– BREAKING NEWS –  TMIY hits #1 spot

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My week in retrospect – blogging, writing, Goodreads Giveaway, fabulous presents – and surviving the dreaded lurgy.

Many thanks to blogger Linda Hill for inviting me on her blog to talk about Girl in the Castle. Linda is the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Media/blog star award of 2017.

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You can read the blog post here https://wp.me/p5IN3z-cRi

I’ve also been learning how to make animations on ripl.com What do you think?

If you’d like to share my tweet here’s the link

I spent quite a chunk of the week monitoring my ‘paid for’ Goodreads promotion. Here are the results. The promo was limited to the US and the winner chosen at random. I was able to mail the book direct to her via my Createspace account. Simples.

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Would I do it again? If I see a spike in downloads, yes; if not, no. I’ll be blogging about it in more detail in the near future. Tune in for more details in a couple of weeks.

I spent some of the week composing guest blog posts and sending them off to bloggers/writing blogs to go out in March.

The highlight of the last ten days or so was being long listed for the Exeter Novel Prize. Fingers crossed I make the short list.

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I have also been cracking on with my work in progress which I hope to publish late spring. I have two fabulous editors working on this with me and when it’s ready I’ll be zooming it over to my proofreaders. I have also recruited a new member to my team to check accuracy of location etc.  I think I’ve got all the bases covered. Cover reveal sometime after Easter – hopefully.

While all this activity was going on, my husband (code name Bongo Man), and I have been smitten by the dreaded lurgy –  equivalent of the American term, cooties – and had to cancel our proposed caravan trip to the Cotswolds. We hope to try again in March.IMG_7299 (Edited).JPG

In the meantime . . . a fabulous present arrived from the Diva from Dumbarton2018-02-17 09.10.48 (2)We can’t wait to find a space for the gifts next to the hand-crocheted blanket and cushion our mate Carole Matthews made especially for the new van. I have Carole’s new novel – A Million Love Songs on pre-order, something else to look forward to.

Well, I guess that about wraps it up. Must dash. Bongo Man, still laid up with the dreaded lurgy, has requested a slice of Battenberg cake to accompany his mid morning cuppa. Better head for our local co-op and hope they have some on their shelves. Laters.

Have a great week. Keep on reading, writing, blogging and reviewing.

A Heads Up and Some Good News

Hi everyone – I’m delighted to share my news with you.

GIRL IN THE CASTLE  has been long listed for the Exeter Novel Prize.

Click on the arrow to watch this promo.

I’ve got my fingers and everything else crossed that I make the short list.

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💕Perhaps you’d like to read Girl in the Castle or buy a paperback copy for someone for Valentine’s Day? 💕 Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite –

Her academic career in tatters, Dr Henriette Bruar needs somewhere to lay low, plan her comeback and restore her tarnished reputation. Fate takes her to a remote Scottish castle to auction the contents of an ancient library to pay the laird’s mounting debts. The family are in deep mourning over a tragedy which happened years before, resulting in a toxic relationship between the laird and his son, Keir MacKenzie. Cue a phantom piper, a lost Jacobite treasure, and a cast of characters who – with Henri’s help, encourage the MacKenzies to confront the past and move on. However – will the Girl in the Castle be able to return to university once her task is completed, and leave gorgeous, sexy Keir MacKenzie behind?If you want to read an extract from Girl in the Castle, you can do so here.

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I’m also offering a #GIVEAWAY of a paperback copy of Girl in the Castle on Goodreads (US only, sorry). You have until February 15th to enter.

Two years ago I was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize with Scotch on the Rocks. If you would like to read about that occasion, here’s the link

Finally . . . yesterday, New Romantics Press travelled to London for the launch of  Adrienne Vaughan’s new novel – That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel. We had a fabulous time. If you’d like to see the photos and read the blog post, here it is . . . Have a great weekend and keep on writing, reading and reviewing.

Guest Post – Welcome Sharon Booth –

It is my pleasure to welcome Sharon Booth to my blog. Sharon and I ‘found’ each other via Facebook and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Sharon is a hardworking and inspired novelist and a generous supporter of other writers.

We met ‘in the flesh’ for the first time last year at the RNA Afternoon Tea in York. Sharon is every bit as warm and friendly as I’d imagined. Take it away, Sharon . . .

author picI write contemporary romance, with a generous sprinkling of humour thrown in for good measure. For many years, I tried to write big, dramatic, historical sagas, as I’d grown up reading Catherine Cookson novels, and thought that was the sort of thing I should be writing. It took me quite some time to realise that, as wonderful as those books are, they’re not the sort of books I need to write. I started to create contemporary stories, filled with heroines I would happily hang out with, and heroes I fell in love with. Now, I have nine books published! Two of those books started life as People’s Friend pocket novels, which was a dream come true, as it meant my work was actually on the shelves in supermarkets and WH Smith.

I have also sold the large-print rights for the pocket novels, to Ulverscroft, and the first one was published last April, as part of its Linford Romance Library, with the second one coming out in March. This means I also have books in libraries.

I live in East Yorkshire with my husband and German Shepherd dog. I have five grown-up children and seven grandchildren.  I’m one tenth of the blogging group, The Write Romantics. I’m shamefully prone to developing huge crushes on fictional heroes, and I never lose hope that, one day, I will hear the sound of those Tardis engines …

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A Q and A session with Sharon. I’m sure you’ll find her answers and inspirational.

advice for fledgling authors

  • If you really want to write, do it. Don’t wait until you “have the time” or until inspiration strikes. Pick up a pen, or sit at that computer, and start. I’ve been told, many times, by various people, that they would love to write a book “if they had the time”. The fact is, you have to make the time. I have a family and a day job. If you want to write, you will push everything else aside and do it.
  • Seek out other writers. It’s a very lonely business if you don’t make contact, and the writing community is so supportive. Join a writing group, or make online connections. Maybe join the Romantic Novelists’ Association if your genre is romance.
  • Read the genre you write in. Read how-to-write books. If you can afford it, take writing courses.
  • Be prepared for rejection and develop a skin like a rhinoceros hide – or, at least, pretend to.
  • Don’t expect to get rich. Keep writing. Don’t give up. If you want this, you must make it happen.
  • Be kind to other writers. It’s a tough world out there, so share their news, encourage, support and congratulate. Learn to promote your own stuff, but don’t be afraid to promote other people’s. There’s room for everyone.
  • Most of all, don’t forget to enjoy it. Writing is a job, and it’s undoubtedly hard work. You started writing because you love it, never lose sight of that.

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Who or what has inspired you the most to become a writer?

  • Enid Blyton, whose stories sparked my love for books and reading, which, in turn, made me want to write my own stories.
  • My English teacher, from the age of thirteen until I left school. My English teacher was so encouraging and supportive, really making me believe that this was something I could do. For the first time in my life, I began to think that writing was a gift, and that I should nurture it and be proud of it.
  • A BBC programme, Reader, I Married Him, back in 2008, or thereabouts, ignited that flame of hope again, after years spent raising children, and writing nothing more exciting than shopping lists.
  • Jane Wenham-Jones’s book, Wannabe a Writer? convinced me that, yes, I really, really did, and led me to study creative writing, read numerous how-to books, and eventually join the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.
  • Milly Johnson and Sue Townsend. Reading books by these two wonderful writers, about people I knew and understood, I finally realised that I could write about people like me, and that books could be funny, too.
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If not a writer – then what?

I do have a day job, working for the NHS. If I’m honest, though, that’s not a path I chose, exactly.  I’d already given up on the idea of university, as I’d been assured that it wasn’t for “people like us”. I wanted to be a primary school teacher at one point, in my early thirties, and took a further education course aimed at women keen to return to work after having children. A careers guide visited us, and suggested I should aim lower, and try to be a teaching assistant instead. My already fragile confidence was shattered. I spent a few more years floundering, before finally gathering my courage and signing up for a degree in literature with the Open University,  graduating with honours in my mid-forties. I want people to know that it’s never too late to realise your dreams,  don’t listen to the doubters.

Tell us a little bit about where you set your novels

I set my novels in Yorkshire – which is such a huge and diverse county. My Kearton Bay novels are set on the North Yorkshire coast, in a little village that bears a remarkable resemblance to Robin Hood’s Bay. Bit by bit, I’ve built up a whole world around that village, spreading out into the Yorkshire Moors and creating a network of villages and towns that also feature in my Moorland Heroes and Bramblewick series. The Skimmerdale series, on the other hand, is set over in the stunningly beautiful Yorkshire Dales. I have another series in my mind, which will take place in the Yorkshire Wolds, which is an area on my doorstep – the Wolds Way actually starts in my home town of Hessle, right by the Humber Bridge. It’s an underrated area, often overlooked as people rave about the Moors and Dales. I absolutely love Yorkshire, and like nothing more than heading out for the day to take in the stunning views or ancient buildings. We’ve got plenty of castles and abbeys to choose from, that’s for sure.

My current book is Saving Mr Scrooge, the second in my Moorland Heroes series – the first being Resisting Mr Rochester.

It’s the time of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, but at Carroll’s Confectionary, the meaning of Christmas seems to have been forgotten. New boss, Kit Carroll, is hardly winning friends with his high-handed attitude, his foolhardy approach to production, and his tight-fisted treatment of the factory’s employees.
Marley Jacobs, his self-styled PA, is determined to make him see the error of his ways, and return the festive spirit to Carroll’s Confectionary.

Unfortunately, the little matter of their previous relationship, along with Kit’s callous treatment of her when they were teenage sweethearts, keeps getting in the way of her good intentions. With encouragement from co-worker Don, romantic sister Olivia, and — astonishingly — the usually sceptical Great Uncle Charles, Marley decides to save this modern-day Mr Scrooge from himself, despite having no well-meaning ghosts to help her.

But revisiting the past doesn’t just stir things up for Kit. As Marley struggles to deal with bittersweet memories, present-day events take a surprising turn. Can the future be changed, after all? And is it only Kit who needs saving?

Moorland Heroes series

“Sharon Booth’s writing just gets better and better…” Review of Saving Mr Scrooge: Being Anne Book Blog.

“Everything you want in a Christmassy book”. Review of Christmas at the Country Practice: Writer up the Hill.

“A terrific book from a terrific author”. Review of Resisting Mr Rochester: Antrim Cycle

“There Must Be an Angel is one of those delightful stories that grabs you by the hand on page one”. Review of There Must Be an Angel: Jaffa Reads Too.

“A hugely entertaining jaunt of a novel through the Yorkshire dales”. Review of This Other Eden: Random Badger.

I’m currently working on the second in my Skimmerdale series, the sequel to This Other Eden. I’m very much enjoying revisiting my gorgeous Yorkshire Dales sheep farmer, Eliot! I’m also working on the third Bramblewick novel, which continues the story of the village surgery, and the medical and reception staff who work there.

You can find out more about Sharon and her book here – www.sharonboothwriter.com

**featured image – Whitby, Yorks – https://unsplash.com/@grafiklee

North Coast 500 – part #1- Inverness to Brora

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North Coast 500 is the UK’s answer to Route 66 and I am proud to say that we have covered every mile of it – with one exception. More of which later. If you decide to make this journey, you will find these two books and map invaluable. The books make great armchair reading when you’re planning your route and Charles Tait knows his subject well.

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These boots are made for walking ……

Our adventure started in Jamie’s Italian, Edinburgh where we met up with four friends to celebrate my husband Dave’s 66th birthday. Who could fail to fall in love with Auld Reekie? Although we have visited many times, it never fails to enchant and amaze.

 

 

To get ourselves into the mood, we toured the city via open-top bus and, on a separate day, visited the Jacobite exhibition at the National Museum. IMG_5970 (Edited)There we saw (shudder) the chopping block where Lord Lovat met his end on Tower Hill. That sent us on another quest, to track down the mausoleum where, allegedly, his remains were laid to rest by his family. As luck would have it, Dan Snow, the TV historian was also on Lord Lovat’s trail; here’s a wee snippet of the programme he will eventually produce. In the fictional Outlander series on TV, Lord Lovat is the hero Jamie Fraser’s grandfather.

While in Edinburgh, I met up with Nick Fiddes, owner of Clan.com. Nick, and his co-director Adele, allow me to use photographs from this site for the front cover of my books. IMG_5306[1]My published novels

Leaving Edinburgh we crossed the newly opened Queensferry Crossing and I managed to get a shot of all three bridges. Not easy from a moving camper van!

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Then we were on our way to Inverness with a stopover at Blair Atholl, where a piper IMG_5362.TRIM.MOV[2](video link) greeted us on the steps of the castle, a fitting start to our tour of the highlands.  The Duke lives in South Africa, but Dave  stood in for him on this occasion.

Unable to resist some retail therapy I spend some time at the nearby House of Bruar . The heroine of Girl in the Castle is Dr Henriette Bruar, so a pilgrimage made sense. Well, that’s my excuse, anyhoo.

At Inverness we camped at the Caravan and Motorhome’s site at Culloden. We’d visited the battlefield on two previous occasions and decided to give it a miss this time. If you’ve never visited the site, make a detour and take your tissues with you, it’s an incredibly atmospheric place, haunted by ghosts. If you’re a fan of Outlander, it’s a must. I had my fingers crossed that Outlander #3 was downloading onto Amazon Prime in our absence.

 

 

This time, we satisfied ourselves with a photograph of the Prisoners’ Stone as our objective was Chanonry Point on the Black Isle (photo below with rainbow) to watch  the dolphins chasing salmon up the Moray Firth when the tide turns.  You can just see the dorsal fin of a dolphin in the photo on the right. I don’t know why, but seeing dolphins in the wild – not jumping through hoops as part of a show, affected me almost as much as visiting Culloden.  Anyone would think I was a writer for goodness sake.

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click here to see my Youtube video of dolphins in the Moray Firth

 

Check out this website for when to see the dolphins, They can also be spotted across the firth at Fort George – well worth a visit on its own account, as is Inverness which has great shops, museums and cafes.

We planned to spend all of September touring Scotland and although we were hardly ‘roughing it’, standards had to be maintained at all times (cough cough). I started off trying to dry our clothes in the caravan, then bought a portable washing line. 

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More importantly. I also brought a variety of outdoor wear with us to cope with changes in the weather . . . including boots, gloves, long mac (previously used for playground duty!) and sunglasses – it didn’t rain all of the time.

 

 

Turning our backs on Inverness we headed for Brora and the north east of Scotland.

You can read all about that in #2 of my Coast Road 500.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post, check out my Scottish-themed novels 

Blogger and author Sharon Booth has written a moving and comprehensive review of Girl in the Castle which totally captures the mood of the novel. Thanks, Sharon. 💟

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