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.

 

Take a chance on me . . .

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It doesn’t seem possible that almost five years have passed since we launched New Romantics Press. At the time, we each said: “We’ll be happy just to see our novel in print.”

Since then, we’ve been bitten by the writing bug and gone on to write further novels, win accolades, reach the finals of a prestigious book award and achieve bestseller status (historical romance>Scottish) on Amazon. Not to forget, hosting a wonderful book launch at Waterstones in Kensington. Between us, we’ve written ten fabulous novels and gained a host of readers who are hungry for more! With four new novels in the pipeline, we thought it time to thank our wonderful readers/supporters and to celebrate our achievements by uploading a Kindle book, containing the first two chapters of each of our novels to share with you.

The Kindle is almost a novel in its own right – almost forty thousand words in all!

So . . . if you have never read any of our novels, now’s the time to

 TAKE A CHANCE ON US

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Within the pages of the Kindle you will find: romantic heroes and heroines aplenty; men in kilts, cowboys, Victorian Misses, Twenties Girls, Wild Irish actors who bear more than a passing resemblance to Pierce Brosnan, feisty heroines who live on remote islands in the Atlantic, academics, priests, enigmatic heroes – and women ‘who love not wisely, but too well.’  In short, ten ideal summer reads to take to the beach with you – a book for every mood. Click here to read an extract/buy/share 

Since publishing Take a Chance on us, Adrienne and Lizzie have written Fur Coat and No Knickers – a collection of poems and short stories and Girl in the Castle – fall in love with a Highlander

click here to download a copy of Take a chance on us

and, from all of us –  thank you very much – have a great summer!

Lizzie, Adrienne, June and Mags

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#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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From One Heilan’ Lassie to Another !

Today I’m welcoming author Rosemary Gemmell onto my blog, close on the heels of Gwent Kirkwood, another Scottish writer I featured. Are you detecting a theme, yet?

Thank you so much, Lizzie, for inviting me to your lovely blog. I enjoy reading about your travels around Scotland now and then!

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Strone – Holy Loch

The setting in any novel is often one of the most important aspects of the story, for the author and the reader. This has never been truer than it is for The Highland Lass, my Scottish dual-timeline novel, as it is mainly set around my own hometown in the west coast of Scotland, an area of natural beauty, rich with history.

 

 

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The old Greenock cemetery’s ancient and elaborate gravestones, winding paths and overhanging trees provided much scope for my childish imagination. This was where my mother first introduced me to the gravestone of Highland Mary, who was a brief but important love interest of Robert Burns, our national poet. This early memory and a fascination for Mary Campbell was the inspiration for the short historical chapters in The Highland Lass.

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Inverclyde enjoys an envious position right beside the River Clyde, and across from Gourock sits the small seaside town of Dunoon in Argyll. From my side of the river, we can see the entrance to the Holy Loch, bordered by the towering Argyll hills, where the American Navy was based from the 1960s until the early 80s. This provided another thread in the story, as Eilidh is seeking the identity of her father, who may have been an American officer. Dunoon is also where Highland Mary was born, where her statue forever looks across the Clyde.

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I hope you don’t mind me sharing slipping in a couple of my photos of the Clyde and Dunoon, Rosemary, including this video of us sailing Doon the Watter to Dunoon aboard a CalMac ferry.  We were on the lookout for submarines, but didn’t spot any.

After researching Burns, from a book published in 1838, to more modern accounts and Burns’ own poems, songs and letters, I formed a real feeling for Highland Mary and her effect on the poet. I had an article published about the couple in The Highlander Magazine in the USA some years before but I kept coming back to the idea for a novel. So I carried out further research in the Gothic-style Watt Library in Greenock, with its access to microfilm copies of the old Greenock Advertiser and the later Greenock Telegraph, where I found several interesting facts that I incorporated into the story and the epilogue of The Highland Lass. The Greenock Burns Club (the Mother Club) kindly allowed me to sift through their archives fothumbnail_poosie-nansie%27sr any relevant material I may have missed.

The other main setting for this novel, in the present and past, is Ayrshire, known as Burns country. Highland Mary and Robert Burns met and plighted their troth there in the 18th century and the small villages have hardly changed at all. The inn where Burns and his cronies met, Poosie Nancie’s, is still in the same street in Mauchline. When I stepped inside the snug, low-beamed room, it took no imagination at all to picture the poet sitting at the table near the fire range with his ale. Ayrshire is also where the blossoming relationship between modern heroine, Eilidh Campbell, and handsome Scot, Lewis Grant, takes a major step forward.

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Another inspiration for my Scottish novels is our famous Loch Lomond, one of the largest freshwater lochs (or lakes) in Britain, now part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. One of my favourite places is the fairy-tale village of Luss, where Lewis takes Eilidh one day. The tiny cottages with their abundance of flowers in summer months line both sides of the narrow main street which wanders right down to the edges of the loch.

Luss and Loch Lomond – stunningly beautiful. 

In my most recent romantic suspense novel, Return to Kilcraig, I feature two different areas of Loch Lomond. One is at Conic Hill through which runs the Highland Boundary Fault that separates the highlands from the lowlands. This is also part of the famous West Highland Way. The other area in this novel is known as Loch Lomond Shores, with its aquarium, shops and water sports right by the loch side.

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But it is around my own Inverclyde where all the story threads in The Highland Lass come together and where Eilidh finds the answers to her past. In Return to Kilcraig, the contemporary village setting of Ross and Christy’s story is a fictional blend of several country villages around this part of the west of Scotland.

 

 

Many of the large cruise ships now visit the port at Greenock but you can still watch out for the oldest sea-going passenger-carrying paddle steamer in the world, The Waverley, which sails down the Clyde during the summer months and maintains our links to the steamers of the past. Scotland is so rich in history, myth and legend that I look forward to setting another novel somewhere along its shores.5-thumbnail_the-waverley-on-the-clyde

More about Rosemary Gemmell –  A prize-winning writer, Rosemary Gemmell’s short stories, articles, and poems have been published in UK magazines, in the US, and online. She is now a historical and contemporary novelist. She has also published historical novels and contemporary novellas with a touch of mythological fantasy as Romy and two tweens books as Ros. Rosemary has a post-graduate MA in Literature and history and is a member of the Society of Authors, Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Scottish Association of Writers. She loves to dance!

The Highland Lass

Eilidh Campbell returns to her Scottish roots from America with one main aim: to discover the identity of the father she never knew. But her mother’s past in Inverclyde is a mystery with family secrets, a book of Robert Burns’ poems with a hidden letter and a photograph link to the Holy Loch at Dunoon when the American Navy were in residence. Staying with her childhood friend, Kirsty, while searching for answers, Eilidh begins to fall in love with handsome Scot Lewis Grant, but just how free is he? Together they trace the story of Highland Mary and Robert Burns, with its echoes to her mother’s story. In short alternate chapters, Highland Mary tells her own story from 1785-6. From Dunoon, to Ayrshire and culminating in Greenock, Eilidh finds the past is closer than she realises.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00TOTER6Q

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TOTER6Q

 Return to Kilcraig

The legacy of her beloved grandmother’s cottage in the Scottish village of Kilcraig seems like the ideal solution after Christy Morrison’s recent trauma. Until the threats begin. Can she trust her heart and allow herself to fall in love again? When Ross McKinley reluctantly welcomes Christy back to the village, he has hardened his heart against love, until they begin to renew their childhood friendship. But someone is determined Christy should go back to London. Will they find the culprit in time?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MFGEQLT/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MFGEQLT /

 

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.rosemarygemmell.com

Blog: http://ros-readingandwriting.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RosemaryGemmell

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Romy-Gemmell/1422387704702586

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

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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.

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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

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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)
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A recent workshop held in Leicester

My 2015 – photo album -part one

In January we took the train to Huddersfield and drove home with our new campervan – let the adventure begin !

Jasper was 19 years old in February  and as cheeky as ever.

In March saw me getting down to business – visiting the Birmingham Chapter of the RNA, holding a meeting at the Belmont Hotel for New Romantics Press and our RNA chapter The Belmont Belles.

2015-03-11 13.05.12It was my birthday in March and here I am celebrating with Bongo Man, Joan and Maisie at The Case, Leicester.  Later in March I attended the RONA awards in London, met two of my favourite authors (Carole Matthews and Jill Mansell).

We attended our niece’s wedding at Bickleigh Castle in Devon. Cue silly hat moment. Oh, we also saw Richard III interred – an historic moment for Leicester, and in its own way quite romantic, in a historical sense.

After the wedding we took the caravan into Cornwall and visited old haunts, including the ‘gin balcony’ in Polperro. Oh, and I finished the final draft of  SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS. With Jasper’s help, naturally.

In May I sent Scotch on the Rocks to be formatted. After a few glitches I was able to order my proof copy to check for typos etc.

I’d forgotten how long this last bit up the publishing process takes, but eventually, in June I pressed the ‘go’ button and my first box of books arrived.

Scotch on the Rocks was launched in July and within two weeks it achieved BEST SELLER status in its genre – historical >Scottish. I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my lovely husband – Bongo Man. The only hero a girl needs.

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We’re halfway through the year. If you’ve enjoyed reading my blog, catch part two next week when I canter through the remaining months of 2015. Happy New Year to everyone, Lizzie xx

PS.

Today is the last day when you can download Scotch on the Rocks for 99p/$1.47. From Monday 4th January it reverts to full price . . .

Romaniac Group Heart Pumping

 

 

 

 

 

My Writing Day – with Carol Hedges

Author Carol HedgesLizzy, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog. I hope there will be cake and coffee shortly. And an appearance by Jasper the parrot!

You asked me to describe a typical writing day. I’d answer that it depends on where I am in the writing process. If I’m actually writing a novel, I try to put in a good four hours of solid work – afternoons are my best time. But there are other times, like now, when a book is being planned, when I might just read, download articles form the internet, and do some preliminary sketching. And I frequently take the plot for a long walk, just to straighten out bits when I’m not sure where it’s going to go.

Most writers when planning a book start at the beginning of the story and work their way through a sequential narrative until they reach the end. Crime writers do it backwards. We start with the crime, and who perpetrated the crime and then work out how and why it happened. This is why for all my books: the four Spy Girl books, the ebook Jigsaw Pieces and my latest novel Diamonds&Dust, I write the last page first. Then the ‘’hook’’ at the beginning. Then the rest of the story.

I like this sort of methodology, though I can understand that for the careful plotter it might drive them mad. Sometimes I haven’t a clue what is going to happen next as my teenage or adult protagonists study the facts and decide on their next move. I like my writing to challenge me as well as the reader – I could never be one of those writers who has to make 50 pages of notes before placing fingers upon keyboard. I’d get bored. Very bored. I like to walk away from every writing session thinking: OK, how the heck am I going to get my people out of this?

Of course, around and beyond every book, there has to be the marketing! I love social media, and use different forums for different approaches. Facebook is great for posting news, family pics and seeing what everyone else is up to. Twitter is wonderful for meeting people other than writers and engaging in witty (!) banter. And I have a weekly blog, where I can invite writers – you sat on The Pink Sofa recently- to showcase their work. I also use the blog to publish short funny pieces about the lunacy that is my life.

I really try not to ‘’sell’’ my stuff too pushily on any site I use. Some writers do and it turns people off. You sell more by being a fun person and interacting with others, I think. Then they get to know and like you, want to read your stuff, and end up doing the ‘selling’ for you!
If I were starting out writing now, I think the best advice I could give to myself is to keep going and believe in what I was writing. It seems daunting with so many new books coming out every week, and so many ways of publication. And yet, there’s always room for one more lovely book …. so place backside on chair, place fingers on keyboard…..and go for it!

Diamonds & DustCurrently, I’m working on the third book in the Diamonds&Dust series. The first book, published by Crooked Cat Books and available in print and ebook, is set in 1860 London. It tells the story of two women, Josephine King, an orphan and heiress, and Lilith Marks, a jewish prostitute. Their lives cross when Josephine’s uncle and Lilith’s lover Herbert King is brutally murdered one night. Set against the backdrop of the great gas-lit city, the two women are drawn together in their quest to discover just wo killed the man they both loved.

The second book, which features the same pair of detectives: Leo Stride & Jack Cully, is set in 1861. The third will be set in 1862. Diamonds&Dust has been very well received, given that it is not the traditional run of the mill historical crime fiction. The biggest buzz has been the number of Twitter readers who’ve let me know how much they’ve enjoyed it. My publisher has been inundated by Tweets asking when the next one is coming out. Such a lovely and totally unlooked for compliment! (The answer may be Nov/Dec this year).

I am amazed that at my time of life (I’m pushing 64 but not speeding) a whole new writing career in historical adult crime fiction has opened up. Hopefully other older writers might look at my writing trajectory and be inspired. I’d be overjoyed if that happened.

*****

Spy Girl BooksCarol Hedges is the successful UK author of 11 books for teenagers and young adults, one ebook and one adult historical novel. Her books have been shortlisted for various prizes and her YA novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery is her first adult novel. It was published in 2013 by Crooked Cat Books, and is available as book and ebook on Smashwords, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com or to order in bookshops.
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Welcome to Alex Gutteridge

Firstly, a big thank-you to Lizzie for having me on her lovely blog.I think she would agree with me when I say that, for many people, writing is a vocation. It is chosen for you and not by you. Many months or years can pass without you following that dream and it can be interrupted mid flow by unforeseen circumstances but, in your heart, the desire to write will not let go of you, despite whatever life path you may be led down.  Some stories are like that too. They hover at your shoulder, waiting for their moment. They provide valuable lessons in patience and perseverance, amongst many other things.

LastAngelLast Chance Angel was like that. The beginnings of this story go back to when I was living in Oxford and taking my A’levels. I was on my bicycle and involved in a collision with a car. I had a lucky escape and my good fortune was constantly at the back of my mind over the following years. I had no idea that this would be the catalyst for a story which has now been short-listed for five awards including the Romantic Novelists’ Association Award in the young adult category. In some ways I consider it a miracle that this story was completed at all, just as it was a miracle that day that I was not seriously hurt.

Once I actually put pen to paper, (and I do always begin my first drafts in this way) it took many more years before the book was ready for submission. This book was witness to many ups and downs in my life, both personally and professionally. In the middle of it I stopped writing altogether and wondered at times if I would ever find the strength and resilience to once again take up the reins of my writing life. But, little by little I did and it is thanks to this book. This was a story which would not let go of me and for my own self-respect I knew that I could not let go of it.

Moi!2 014I had no idea whether anyone would want to publish it but I promised myself that if no-one did,  I would publish it myself. I had formed a bond with Jess, my main character; I wanted her voice to be heard and I wanted my hours of work to see the light. I hoped that a few people at least might enjoy reading it.  I was incredibly lucky to find a mainstream publisher and not just any publisher, but the right one for this book. Templar have supported me every step of the way. It has been an amazing experience and I cannot thank them enough.

This book will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s the one that got me back into writing. To any writers out there who are sitting at the page and thinking ‘is this really worth it?’ or those of you who say to themselves and others  ‘I’d love to write a book but don’t think I could’ I would say this; it is worth it and yes you can. Do not look back in years to come with regrets; follow your dream; dig deep when times get tough and even if you have to step aside for a while, make yourself a promise not to give up.

You can find out more about my writing life at alex-gutteridge.blogspot.co.uk and follow me on Twitter at alexgutteridge1

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