Monthly Archives: November 2011

Choc Lit Goes to America!

All the Choc Lit authors have been doing a happy dance for the last couple of weeks. But it has had to be a kind of silent dance, whilst press releases were prepared and the news launch tailored to both sides of the Atlantic.

But now the news is out!

We’re going into North America!

Here’s the press release:

Brand-led, commercial women’s fiction publisher, Choc Lit expand into North America with effect from 1st January 2012, represented by International Publishers Marketing (IPM).

“North America is a key market for our expansion. We already have a loyal following in the USA and constantly receive great reviews. Finding the right partner, who believed in our brand and could offer the right support was critical. We believe we’ve found the perfect match with Jane Graf at IPM,’ states Lyn Vernham, Director, Choc Lit.

Since launch, Choc Lit has published a string of novels that regularly hit the Nielsen’s Top 20 Small Publishers Fiction List. In the last few months, they have picked up three awards – Best Romantic Read Award from the Festival of Romance, The Big Red Reads Fiction Award and Best Historical Fiction Award. Never Coming Home, a debut from Evonne Wareham (to be published March 2012) was a finalist in the American Title competition, run by RT Book Reviews Magazine & Dorchester Publishing of New York.

Jane Graf of IPM says: “We are delighted to add Choc Lit to our portfolio of clients. The quality of the writing, as well as their high production values, and stunning covers will make them stand out as a romantic fiction publisher. Their brand and great strapline ‘Where heroes are like chocolate – irresistible!’ are unique and a strong selling point. We’re excited to see how we can grow and develop this publisher in North America.

So, that’s wonderful news for us to take into 2012. Yeah, yeah, happy dance, happy dance.  Happeeee …



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Are You Tempted by Cheap Books …?

When Choc Lit wanted to put All That Mullarkey on special offer as a Kindle download to celebrate National Chocolate Week at the beginning of October, I was all for it.

I knew, from other writers, that to have one book at a superduperspecial offer could improve rankings all round. So All That Mullarkey went on sale for the princely sum of £0.86, and, to be honest, I went to Malta on holiday, and forgot about it.

Although I’d meant to stay off the Internet during my week away (! yes, really!), it turned out that the hotel had free Internet access in the lobby and so I found myself checking my emails after breakfast, as you do. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a couple congratulating me that All That Mullarkey was in the top 200 of the Kindle Paid chart. Whoop!

Back to work, azure seas and fabby snorkelling a thing of the past, I found All That Mullarkey just outside the top 100 and Choc Lit of a mind to keep the superduperspecial offer on for another week or so. And we made that decision again. And again. And All That Mullarkey continued a slow and graceful slide up the charts until, as I write, it’s at number 50. (By the time I check again it could be different, but, hey. Right here, right now, I can claim to be in the top 50.)

As Amazon provides a whole slew of charts, this makes the same book number 3 in Women Writers & Fiction, 4 in Romance Contemporary and 6 in Adult & Contemporary.

Now, you can say that it’s easy to sell a book so cheaply, and ask whether it’s worth it, and I’ll tell you more about that when I get royalties for this period. But some facts can’t be argued with. Not only is All That Mullarkey selling well, but all of my other Choc Lit books, Starting Over, Want to Know a Secret and Love & Freedom, have gone up the rankings, too. Not so far as All That Mullarkey, but, still. It was a marketing decision to put one book out on superduperspecial offer to increase interest in the rest, and it’s working. Amazon reviewers are saying so! It’s even affecting my backlist title, which I put out as an ebook myself (with a lot of help from somebody whose support I much value), Uphill All the Way.

I think that today’s audiences are prepared to be tempted by a cheap book and willing to be converted into regular readers. I’m one of those, myself. If you fall into this category, it’s great to have you reading my books. And I hope you continue to enjoy reading them.

And now I have to go back to the writing of the current one …


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Choc Lit Short Story Competition

Here’s a great comp for anyone who likes money and chocolate:


Choc Lit are looking for short stories of up to 1,500 words in which the central theme is chocolate – eating it, drinking it, cooking with it, or anything else. Let your imagination take flight!


1st prize £200, publication on the author’s corner blog and a mystery chocolate gift

A Runner Up will receive £50 and another mystery chocolate gift



1.       Your entry must be a maximum of 1,500 words.

2.       All work must be your own and not previously published.

3.       Entry fee is £3 per story

4.       All entries must be received by 31st January, 2012.


Your judges are Choc Lit authors Margaret James (The Silver Locket, The Golden Chain) and Sue Moorcroft (Starting Over, All That Mullarkey, Want To Know a Secret? and Love & Freedom). Both authors teach creative writing for the London School of Journalism and have published numerous short stories, including in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s short story anthology. Both have regular columns, Margaret in Writing Magazine and Sue in Writers Forum.


1.       Please post your stories to: Short Story Competition, Choc Lit Ltd, Penrose House, Crawley Drive, Camberley, Surrey GU15 2AB. Please enclose a cheque for £3 per story – i.e. to enter 3 stories would cost £9. Cheques are payable to ‘Choc Lit Ltd.’

2.       Or email with the subject header ‘Short Story Competition’ and pay your entry fee by Paypal

Good luck! x


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£6k writing competition! Wowwwwww …!


Portal Entertainment has announced a £6k global writing competition to
create a storyworld: that is, a story told using different types of media
across multiple platforms. The winner of the competition will receive £6k
to develop their storyworld with Portal Entertainment. The top 5 entries
will be given professional feedback from BBC Multiplatform Executive
Producer Sarah Clay (Becoming Human, Waterloo Reunited, E20). The deadline
for entries is 21st November. For more information please visit


In partnership with London’s trendiest hangout for creatives, The Hospital
Club (, and their poet-in-residence, the lyrical
prodigy Sabrina Mahfouz, Circalit are extremely pleased to announce a new
flash fiction writing competition. Writers are challenged to create a one
page story, of whatever genre they please, on the subject of ‘A Chance
Encounter’. Sabrina herself will be reading the winning story for an
exclusive video-recording and podcast, which will be available on the
hospital club website. The winning story will play in the club’s lifts and
video screens, and will be plastered up throughout the Hospital Club’s
halls for all its glitzy patrons, who include the likes of James Morrison,
Kate Moss and Jude Law, to read and enjoy. This is a great opportunity to
have your story exposed to a wide and varied creative audience in an
original way. The deadline for entries is 1st December. Visit for more information.


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How the judging happens

Total E Bound editors, Jenny Barden and self

Have you ever wondered how an award is judged? In some case, the procedure is obvious – the public gets to vote, by poll or via email. But what are the alternatives?

Having until lately been a committee member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association for some years, I know what immense care is taken over the collation of scores from the early readers to form the longlist and the extra reads that decide the shortlist, which then goes to the judges.

But, at the Festival of Romance, aside from being able to see the judges deliberating over dinner on the Friday night, up on a mezzanine floor above the bar, I wasn’t certain how their process of reading panel and judging worked. Now, Awards Organiser Jenny Barden has shared the information with us all at the If Shakespeare … blog. It’s really worth reading. I know that I have an interest in the awards, as I was lucky enough that Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award, but even if I hadn’t, I think I would have enjoyed this post as a ‘behind the scenes’ peek.

In common with the RNA awards, the result was a closely guarded secret until the envelope was opened. Kate Allan, Festival Organiser, wasn’t even told! It really makes for a wonderful moment.

(*My thanks to Lovely Kev and Carole Matthews, who were kind enough to let me use today’s photo, taken by Kev.)

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Women Aloud and free podcasts – yup, free!

Women Aloud
I was proud to be asked to take part in an innovative project – an charity anothology of short stories in audio form in support of the Helena Kennedy Foundation: Women Aloud.
We had a great launch in London at the Women’s Library, with a stirring speech from a young woman who had been helped through university by the Helena Kennedy Foundation. Her education had been interrupted through her family circumstances, and HKF gave her the extra support she needed to succeed.

As you can see, there are loads of great authors on this CD, and it makes a great Christmas present. Buy it here.

The Write Lines
In support of National Short Story Week I took part in a podcast hosted by broadcaster Sue Cook, and with writers Rowan Coleman and Sophie King. Sue Cook usually puts her excellent writing programme, The Write Lines, out on BBC Radio Oxford, but she agreed to create a special podcast for National Short Story Week, and you can listen for freehere. I took part in the ‘Women’s Fiction’ podcast but, as you’ll see, there are great podcasts about the British Short Story and Children’s Fiction, too.
The National Short Story Week website is really worth looking at, by the way – an amazing free resource.

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