I’m often asked about my route to publication. I thought I’d update some of that information and share with you as I head into 2020 and finish my 6th novels. I hope you find the blog post helpful and informative.
My latest novel – Take Me, I’m Yours
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 the first book I’ve set outside of the UK. Here’s why . . .
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. I like writing about sexy, highland lairds. I hope you like reading about them.
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 – every time.
4 and 5 My writing journey prior to New Romantics Press being founded
I 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. 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 The benefits of collaborating with other authors?
I love working collaboratively with others. That means I’m never more than a phone call away from a good mate who will listen to my writing woes, meet for coffee and offer sound advice. As being a member of New Romantics Press and the RNA I can tap into a wealth of knowledge about publishing, social media, PR – and what one of us doesn’t know, the others will find out! I couldn’t imagine being without my support system.
We try to make our events sound fun . . . Most 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 I offered a series of workshops for novice and intermediate writers, sharing my knowledge and giving writers the confidence to finish their WIP. In November of 2019 I attended the Narberth Book Fair where I outlined my 10 point guide, met readers and sold books.
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 I write happily ever after novels
My week in retrospect – blogging, writing, Goodreads Giveaway, fabulous presents – and surviving the dreaded lurgy.
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.
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.
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.
In the meantime . . . a fabulous present arrived from the Diva from DumbartonWe 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.
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.
💕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.
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.
It’s five years since New Romantics Press published their first novels. Earlier this week we mentioned how we’d worked hard to publish twelve novels in five years. Four of those novels are mine and I’m proud to look back over what I’ve achieved. I’m currently working on #5 and am eager to get to the editing/proofreading/cover reveal stage and publish by Easter 2018.
I have achieved #1 bestseller (historical Scottish) and #3 bestseller (Scotland’s/Highlands and Islands) and have rubbed shoulders on the same Amazon page as Diane Gabaldon and Jenny Colgan. I look at my four novels and ask myself: did I really write those? I’m now working hard on a romance set in Wisconsin USA, then its back to Scotland and the Black Isle for #6. My heart really is in the highlands.
My books are currently available to download onto your reading device via Amazon and will cost you just 99p/99c this week. Then the price returns to £2.50 – so don’t delay, download today. As you can see from the photo, my novels are also available as paperbacks and make an ideal present. If you want to know a little bit more about me and my books check out my author page.
If you’re wondering why I’m standing under this sign on the north coast of Scotland, I’ll tell you. My maiden name was Betty Hill. Cool to have a village named after you, no? I’ll be revealing more about that in the second stage of my Coast Road 500 trip in a blog in the New Year.
Can Fliss tame the Monarch of the Glen?
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 her dream of becoming her own boss. When she’s offered the chance to take over a failing therapy centre, she grabs it with both hands. But there’s a catch – the centre lies five hundred miles away – in Wester Ross, Scotland. Fliss’s romantic view of the highlands populated by hunky Men in Kilts is shattered when she has an up close and very 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. Faced with 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 the dysfunctional Urquharts.
and find the happiness she deserves?
Next, I wrote Boot Camp Bride
Take an up-for-anything reporter. Add a world-weary photo-journalist. Put them together . . . light the blue touchpaper and stand well back! Posing as a bride-to-be, Charlee Montague goes undercover at a boot camp for brides in order to photograph supermodel Anastasia Markova. At Charlee’s side and posing as her fiancé, is Rafael Ffinch award winning photographer and survivor of a kidnap attempt in Columbia. 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 Columbia? 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.
I decided to return to Scotland for Scotch on the Rocks and it became a#1 best seller within two weeks of publication.
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 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 . . .
This summer I published my latest – Girl in the Castle – but, this time, I’ll let the video trailer do the talking.
Thank you for reading my latest blog. Do get in touch if you’d like to talk about any of my books, I love feedback from readers.
Have a great weekend and happy reading – Lizzie
On my blog today I’m very pleased to welcome Helen Barrell. They say that the truth is stranger than fiction and Helen’s book Poison Panic, described as ‘A clever mix of family history and true crime’ – Angela Buckley, is a great read if you’re looking for something ‘different‘. But I’ll let Helen do the talking . . .
Tell us something about yourself, Helen
Librarian by day, and author by night; I’m surrounded by books all the time. I’ve always written, but it’s my non-fiction Victorian true crime which has been published, while my fiction lingers on in a drawer. I live in Birmingham, with my partner and two cats, and drink far too much tea. I dress up in historical costume when the mood takes me. And I didn’t intend that to rhyme. Sorry.
Who or what has inspired you the most/ to become a writer?
My grandad, who used to sit me and my brother on his knee, and make up stories as they came to him. My favourite ones were about his time in France and Belgium during WW2 – he used to turn his adventures into ghost stories. Haunted, abandoned chateaux were his speciality, as well as his retelling of the haunting of Borley Rectory. Some people have commented that I write how I speak, and perhaps it’s that storytelling courtesy of my grandad which is behind that. There were always books in our house when I was growing up, and I loved going to our local library. At some point, I made the connection between the stories that people tell with their voices, and the stories people tell by writing them down.
Being a modern author, Helen has used the power of the internet to bring her stories alive for her readers. Click on this link to watch her fabulous book trailer for Poison Panic.
If you’d like to hear Helen reading from Poison Panic, click here.
When you’re not dreaming about poison (!) describe your typical writing day I fit my writing around my job, so I tend to write in the evening, heading up to my desk as soon as I get home from work. I manage to fit in two hours of writing that way. I spend chunks of my weekends writing as well. I’m a bit of a hermit, really! I will sometimes write during my lunch hour or if I get an idea that wakes me up early, I’ll give up trying to get back to sleep and spend some time writing early in the morning. I commute to and from the day job on foot, and I find walking a wonderful way to get lost in my thoughts. So “writing” happens then, too. When deadlines loom, I take holiday from work to write. Recently I took a day’s annual leave in order to work on my book’s index – yes, an index. Such are the woes of the non-fiction author.
Social Networking – a help or a hindrance? I’m never entirely sure how well social media helps to sell books, but I will say that it’s an excellent way to get in touch with other writers. Getting to know other writers is an excellent way to share your pain! Twitter is even worth using purely as a writing tool: that focus required to fit what you need into the character limit is good discipline for saying much with little.
Tell us a little about your new book- Fatal Evidence – A surgeon and chemist at Guy’s Hospital in London, Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor used new techniques to search the human body for evidence that once had been unseen. A toxicologist, he could also identify blood on clothing and weapons, and used hair and fibre analysis to catch killers. He gave Charles Dickens a tour of his laboratory, and Wilkie Collins owned copies of his books. For Dorothy L. Sayers, Taylor’s books on forensic science were ‘the back doors to death’.
Fatal Evidence is available for pre-order here
Tailcoat and waistcoat by Walker Slater of Edinburgh
. . . and finally, Helen – and tips for fledgeling authors? There’s no point sitting about not-writing, telling everyone “I’d really like to be a writer,” or “I can picture myself musing at a typewriter by a picture window.” Just get on with it! Whatever it takes – fire up your laptop, open “notes” on your phone, grab a pen and paper, the back of an envelope, or a clattering old typewriter if you really must, and write. Even if it’s a few lines of conversation, a description, a plot outline. Something.Get some words down. They might not be amazing words, but get them down. And then you’re not not-writing, you’re writing, and you’ve set your foot on the path to being an author.
I hear you, sister ! Thank you for coming onto my blog, it’s been fascinating and, who knows, I might be knocking on your door for advice if I give up writing romance and go over to the ‘dark side’. (Helen kindly took these photos of Tall, Dark and Kilted when she visited Edinburgh recently.)
Some reviews of Helen’s work
Reviews for Poison Panic “A clever mix of family history and true crime.” – Angela Buckley, chair of the Society of Genealogists.” “These scandalous true stories are as compelling as any crime fiction.” –All About History magazine. “Poison Panic is an intriguing read that brings a forgotten history to light and reveals past attitudes to women – and a national fear that gripped Victorian Britain.” – Family Tree magazine
Finally – what are you working on ATM?
With two non-fiction titles under my belt, I’m focussing on fiction for a while. I’ve started work on a 19th-century police procedural series, set in the riverside village I grew up in. I’ve recently started to write collaboratively with Catherine Curzon – we have historical romance and romantic thrillers up our collective sleeves.
Hi, I’m RAPHAEL FONSECA-FFINCH – 38 – campaigning journalist and adrenalin junkie, born of dual Scottish-Brazilian heritage. Hence the name. Despite what is says in my passport I’m a citizen of no country and travel the world alone in search of the next scoop, the next headline-grabbing story. My life is solitary and often dangerous, but that’s my choice. I have a driven personality and that makes me hard to live with. I have no time for emotional entanglements and that, conversely, makes women eager to ‘be the one’ to tame my free spirit.
I’ve staked out a Boot Camp for Brides on the Norfolk marshes which I believe a Columbian cartel is using to smuggle drugs into the UK. I need to gain access to the camp, and for that, I need a ‘fake fiancée’. I’ve found one in the shape of rookie journalist Charlie Montague. However, I’m a lone wolf and concerned that taking on a partner will slow me down. Worse still – that shaking her off at the end of the assignment will prove harder than dodging the cartel’s bullets.
Acquiring a phoney fiancee will enable me to enter and leave the boot camp without arousing suspicion.
On paper, Montague seems ideal – keen to learn, smart enough to accept any terms and anxious to work alongside me. So far, so good; so why do I have the uneasy feeling I’ve caught a tiger by the tail? That, given half a chance she’ll go off-piste and do her own thing? There’s something about her which attracts me. God forbid that she will be the one who succeeds where others have failed. Bringing me to my knees and forcing me to admit that, underneath the hard-bitten exterior I’ve cultivated, I’m as lonely and emotionally vulnerable as the next man.
At the end of the assignment, will I be able to walk away from the Boot Camp Bride?
If you like what you’ve read, please vote for me, Rafael Fonseca-Ffinch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also hop to all the stops on the Book Boyfriend Blog, collect the candidate’s name at each stop, then submit all 30 names to the same address in order to be entered into the GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY. This giveaway includes a Kindle Paperwhite + 30 e-books, one from each of the authors participating in the hop. Entries for the hop will be accepted until Sunday, May 21st at midnight – EDT.
A winner will be chosen on Monday, May 22nd.
I’ll be gifting Boot Camp Bride so you can read how Charlie and Rafa’s love story unfolds.
If you can’t wait that long, Boot Camp Bride is currently on Kindle Countdown at 99p/99c
And the winner of our Grand Prize is Kathy Davis. I have already contacted Kathy and her new Kindle Paperwhite is on the way to her. As soon as she receives the e-reader and sets it up, we can each gift her a copy of the e-book we promised.
Here are all the participating blogs
Tracie Banister http://traciebanister.blogspot.com/
Becky Monson https://www.beckymonson.com/blog
Hilary Grossman http://www.feelingbeachie.com
Glynis Astie http://www.glynisastie.com/blog
Jayne Denker http://jaynedenker.com
Jennie Marts http://www.jenniemarts.com/blog.html
Barbara Valentin https://barbaravalentin.com/blog/
Beth Labonte http://www.secretary4life.com
Victoria Cooke https://victoriacooke10.wordpress.com/
Holly Kerr http://hollykerr.ca/my-blog/
Meredith Schorr http://www.meredithschorr.com
Stacey Wiedower http://www.staceywiedower.com/blog/
Laurie Baxter http://lauriebaxter.com/blog/
Jennifer Farwell http://jenniferfarwell.com/#blog
Natalina Reis https://catarinadeobidos.wordpress.com/about/
Celia Kennedy http://www.womanreinventsself.blogspot.com
Beth Carter http://banterwithbeth.blogspot.com/
Ellyn Oaksmith http://ellynoaksmith.com/
BJ Knapp http://bjknapp.com/blog
Lizzie Lamb https://lizzielamb.co.uk/lizzies-scribbles/
Sylvia Ashby http://sylvia-ashby.com/?cat=64
Karen M. Cox http://karenmcox.merytonpress.com/blog/
Lindsay Detwiler http://www.lindsaydetwiler.com/
Kirsty McManus http://www.kirstymcmanus.com.au/category/blog-news/
Melissa Baldwin http://www.authormelissabaldwin.com/news.html
Geralyn Corcillo http://thingsthatmakemegommmrrh.blogspot.com
Cassandra O’Leary http://www.cassandraolearyauthor.com/blog/
Cat Lavoie http://www.catlavoie.com/blog
Kate O’Keeffe http://kateokeeffe.com/blog
Monique McDonell http://www.moniquemcdonellauthor.com/blog