Blog Archives

The Clock’s Ticking …

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Hi Everyone, I hope you’re having a great summer. I’m just about to ‘shut up shop’, recharge my creative batteries, and get down to the serious business of writing a new romance. Here I am in my ‘summer writing room’, under the awning in our garden, waiting for a fresh mug of coffee to be delivered!

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TO CELEBRATE SUMMER

I’m offering Girl in the Castle for 99p/99c from
July 30th – August 6th
Usual price £2.50/£8.50

The clock’s ticking – so now’s your last chance to download a copy 

 

I hope I’m allowed an ‘author brag’ moment here, as I would love to share how Girl in the Castle has performed during this brief promotion. I’m a great fan of OUTLANDER so imagine how thrilled I was to be rubbing shoulders with Diane Gabaldon in >Scottish>Romance. And it didn’t stop there, I also shared a spot with Colleen McCullough’s THE THORN BIRDS, one of my all-time favourite romances. It feels like all my hard work is beginning to pay off.

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Then, I found myself on the BEST SELLERS list next to Jenny Colgan and Peter May

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So, as I said earlier, the clock’s ticking. You have until Sunday am (BST) to download Girl in the Castle. After that, it reverts back to £2.50; although you can read it FREE on Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime.

Still not sure if it’s for you?  Here’s what readers have said about Girl in the Castle  welcomelittle one!

Have a great summer and keep reading and reviewing all those fabulous books out there. I’ll be back in the autumn with new blog posts and photos of my THIRD research trip to Bonnie Scotland.

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Happy 2nd Birthday – Scotch on the Rocks

Happy Birthday Scotch on the Rocks

For one week only (July 11th – 18th) Scotch on the Rocks will be available to download for 99p/99c as part of a #Kindle Countdown promotion (usual price £2.50). So don’t miss this opportunity to join in with the birthday celebrations. And, if you’re a newsletter subscriber, you could win a signed copy of Scotch on the Rocks, plus a magnetic bookmark to keep your place.

Interested? Read on . . . and subscribe.

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Within one week of publication in July 2015 Scotch on the Rocks achieved #1 Bestseller in its genre. Historical Romance > Scottish, and has sold consistently well ever since.

 

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An author never knows if readers will take to a book or love the characters she’s created, however, as reviewer Rosie Amber puts it, – everyone loves a man in a kilt. Don’t they?

It also turns out that they love a great love story, convincing secondary characters, second chance love, a secret baby – and a very naughty parrot called Pershing. Here are some readers’ comments.

1-what readers have said about SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS

Without giving too much away,  here’s the blurb . . .

“SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS – Where the men wear kilts and 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 planned for 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 drop-dead-gorgeous American, Brodie, turns her world upside down.

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In spite of her vow to steer clear of men, she grows to rely on Brodie to help her get over life’s disappointments and to move forward. However, she soon begins to realise he’s too good to be true and suspects him of having an ulterior motive for staying on remote Cormorant Island. Having been let down by the men in her life: father and fiancé,  is it wise to trust a man she knows nothing about – a man who presents her with more questions than answers? Or will it be third time lucky for Issy? As for Aunt Esme, she has secrets of her own . . .

 

Click here to read an excerpt/buy/share Scotch on the Rocks

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If you’d like a chance to win a signed paperback (worth £9.50) of Scotch on the Rocks and a magnetic bookmark . . . IMG_4811

. . . subscribe to my Newsletter and follow the instructions you will find there

If you are looking for some great summer reads then check out my other books 

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That’s all for now. Have a great summer,  happy reading and see you soon.

Welcome to Helen Barrell – author

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.

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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.

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I love Ripper Street so this is all beginning to sound right up my strasse. Helen, you seem very media-savvy, having produced your own  videos etc, so, here’s my next question:

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.

 

#ChicklitMay Book Boyfriend Hop

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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?

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If you like what you’ve read, please vote for me, Rafael Fonseca-Ffinch by emailing traciebanister@gmail.com 

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 

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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

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My review of 2016 – January – June

January kicked off with a BANG. New Romantics Press put on their best bibs and tuckers and headed to Lunnon Tah-an for Jill Mansell’s Book launch. There we bumped into many fellow RNA members who’d wandered over from another book launch to join us. A great time was had by all and we went away inspired to finish our WIP in 2016.

Read on to see if we achieved our goal . . .

In February, our baby boy Jasper was 20 and he received lots of cards. One from a Facebook friend and reader Lotte Sutton in Australia, which was such a kind thought.  I just hope he appreciated it. He’s 21 on February 2nd 2017 – I predict that there might be a little celebration on that day involving the Bridget Jones DVD, cocktails, canapes, cake and coffee. All the things he likes (cough, cough).

Adrienne and I have both had parents who’ve died from cancer, so we decided to raise some money for HOPE AGAINST CANCER, in their memories. In February we organised a literary lunch at swish Kilworth House Hotel, gave a hilarious (if I say so myself) talk about writing romance – and raised over £500 for the charity.

I also gave a talk on self-publishing to the Birmingham Chapter of the RNA, and to students at De Montfort University during February. March was a busy month, too. Apart from it being my birthday, I made the final of the Exeter Novel Prize with Scotch on the Rocks so we took the caravan down to Exeter and fitted in a spring-break holiday after the ceremony. I took good care of my precious trophy, but a certain person thought the award belonged to him!

April was rather more family orientated as it was my father-in-law Geoffrey’s 90th birthday which we celebrated in style. A moment to cherish. A friend of long-standing, Maggie, who regularly buys several paperback copies of my novels and POSTS them to Australia (at great expense) joined us for the celebrations.  img_17582

I got stuck in with the WIP and vowed to finish it before Christmas.

May was a busy month with the fabulous Romance in the Court which Adrienne and I attended. Passing through St Pancras I bought something in Aspinall’s and, after talking to the manager, we were invited back to hold an author event there in November.More of which in part #2. I’m looking forward to attending the same event in May of 2017, thanks to Goldsboro Books and David Hedley.

Next, I gave a talk in Chippenham, to aspiring authors to prove to them that self publishing was within their grasp and took along novels which New Romantics Press have published to make my point. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.photofunia-1484222424

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What we didn’t plan on last year, was trading in our caravan for a slightly bigger one with a FIXED BED. But that’s what we did, two days before we set off on our month’s stay in Bonnie Scotland . . . No more setting up/dismantling the bed every morning so we can have breakfast. I’ve also gained more writing space, so #winwin. Just writing about it makes me long to go on the road again. 2016-06-26 12.47.27

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the first half of 2106.

Do join me for #2 when I’ll mention:

  • a character from Scotch on the Rocks who came to stay
  • the historical novel society conference in Oxford
  • NRP book launch and another author presentation
  • our gig at Aspinall and meeting Tom Parker-Bowles
  • the RNA winter party
  • Chatsworth all decked out for Christmas
  • the last chapter meeting of the season and some surprise guests
  • a cover reveal for #4

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Social Networking – Does it really sell books?

 

IMG_0952Any 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.

Boot Camp Bride bus shelterThe 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 . . .

Blogs

  • 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

Twitter

  • 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

IMG_0220Facebook

  • 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.

 

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