Tag Archives: Is This Love?

Starting Over FREE in the iBooks store (+ the history of the book)

Itunes bannerStarting Over is part of the First in Series promo in the iBooks store. At the time I’m writing this blog it’s at number 15 in the Free Chart, which is fabulous!

This book has a history. Some time ago my then agent got this close to selling it but, ultimately, Starting Over and the following book, All That Mullarkey, emerged from acquisition meetings unacquired. My first novels published were Uphill All the Way (Transita) and Family Matters (Hale – which only came out as hardback and was later released as Want to Know a Secret? in paperback).

It was a few years before I pitched Starting Over to Choc Lit and they bought it in three weeks flat. And wanted All That Mullarkey, too! I count Ratty, the (slightly unlikely) hero of Starting Over, as my most popular hero because he’s the only one to have received his own fan mail and done his own interviews.

Starting Over is the first of my novels set in the fictitious village of Middledip on the edge of the Cambridgeshire fens. I have a whole drawer devoted to Middledip information, including maps, timelines for each novel and an overall timeline for the series but I wish that when I began I’d realised I was writing linked books because I would have kept more.

Between Starting Over and my most recent Choc Lit novel, The Wedding Proposal, came five other novels, including the others in the Middledip series, Dream a Little Dream and Is This Love?

That some readers like linked or series novels is no surprise to me as I like reading them myself. It’s satisfying to see various characters in the cast get the chance to tell their stories and to check if the characters I’ve already met are getting along (and haven’t messed everything up). I like the constant but secondary characters such as the lady in the village shop who is agog over every bit of gossip or the landlord of the pub who looks like a miseryguts but has a heart of gold. When I find a series I like I tend to read everything in it.

I hope that you find as much satisfaction in reading the Middledip books as I have found in writing them.

download Starting Over

Middledip series

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Sense and sensitivity

I hadn’t intended to blog today but I received an email from a writer friend that has made me think about writers and the responsibility they have to deal with difficult subjects sensitively and with good sense.

ITL?_new packshotMy friend has just read Is This Love? and said nice things about it. But she also said that she found it unsettling because her younger daughter is disabled. In this book the heroine, Tamara, has a sister, Lyddie, who needs more care than most adults after a hit-and-run incident in her teens. Is This Love? gave my friend a ‘flash forward’ look at how things might be for her family as her daughter grows older, especially for her other, able-bodied daughter.

I thanked my friend for sharing her thoughts – they really gave me pause. At the time, one of the things that worried me  about writing the book was whether readers would think Tamara was wrong for having the hots for Jed, when Lyddie had had such a teen crush on him! I ran a Facebook conversation about it and everyone said they thought it was OK because Lyddie/Jed had been so young, so I included all their feedback in Tamara’s thoughts. But this morning’s email showed me that it certainly wasn’t the only area where I could have jumped all over people’s feelings.

I’m sorry if I made my friend think of things that she’d rather not, I really am. Writing the book came out of guilt. When I was a teen we had a friend – we’ll call him Tom – who suffered head injury when hit by a car. It wasn’t hit-and-run, as it was for Lyddie in Is This Love? Tom just did something careless, but the effect was the same. He was reasonably OK for friends as long as we were all teens, but when we got a bit older I’m afraid we left him behind. We got married, got jobs, went to uni, etc etc. I know that he began to go to the pub and had no sense of when to stop drinking and other drunkards used to drag him home. He had a younger brother who used to do his best for him … but I recently discovered that the younger brother died in his early thirties, which made me feel worse. I don’t know if Tom’s still around, or his parents.

I channelled some of my feelings and thoughts about Tom into Lyddie and her family.

I also knew (and really disliked, but that’s a different story) a woman whose daughter had cerebral palsy after a difficult birth. However much I didn’t like the woman, she was ever-conscious of what was best for her daughter, and I admired her for that. I can even accept that some of her less endearing qualities related to the sacrifices that she’d made. I used to speak to her about the daughter going into respite care at weekends, how the younger (able-bodied) sister coped, and stuff like that, so I utilised some of that knowledge for Lyddie, also.

Research is fascinating but today has shown me how much a writer should think about readers in ways more than just book sales.

 

 

 

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The one-sentence synopsis

If writing an ordinary synopsis is hell, why know your one-sentence synopsis and why have one?

For me, it’s a summary of my theme and a brilliant place to begin a synopsis if the need arises. It gives me the essence of the book, which keeps me on-topic if I begin to ramble:

ITL?_new packshot Is This Love?‘ is about the different qualities of love.

Want to Know a Secret?‘ is about money and family, and who thinks which is most important.

DALD_v12.2 reviseDream a Little Dream‘ is about finding a new dream when the old dream crumbles.

A one-sentence synopsis can also form the first part of an elevator pitch to agents/editors. Then:

  • Add to the one sentence a category that sums it up: It’s a quest. It’s a reunion story.
  • Something about tone is useful, too: It’s lighthearted. It’s gritty.
  • If appropriate, mention the message: Be careful what you wish for.

Formulating a one-sentence synopsis is a handy habit to get into. It can even help you sum up your book up for journalists when you’re a bestselling author and they’re queuing on the phone for interviews!

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Publication day!

ITL?_new packshotToday is publication day for ‘Is This Love?’

I was going to say that a publication day is like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one – but, actually, it’s more fun.

The lovely publicists at Choc Lit have lined me up a lot of online interviews and blogposts to go live today, fantastic friends on Facebook and Twitter are sending me nice messages, and I’m on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire this afternoon, after recording a segment for Bookmark at Community 105. And I’m going out with friends this evening to celebrate. (I’ve even been able to arrange for somebody else to drive.)

Publication Day is Publication Day, even though the ebook came out a month ago and the online bookstores shipped the paperback copies last weekend. Mere details! Publication Day is the marker, the day I pause in my usual work to enjoy the moment. It’s also a good excuse for a bit of hoopla.

Happily for me, Publication Day more-or-less coincides with the Festival of Romance, which begins tomorrow, in Bedford, so I have an interview on the Nick Coffer show on BBC 3 Counties Radio at 12.30 and a booksigning at Waterstones 1.30pm till 3.00pm tomorrow (Friday 8th November). Then I can relax and watch other authors do their stuff at the ART AND ROMANCE EVENING, The Higgins Museum & Art Gallery.

Saturday is a chance to be in two places at one time as 10am to 3pm sees the ROMANCE FAIR at the Harpur Suite, Corn Exchange, but I’m appearing and reading 10.30am to 12noon at the COFFEE AND CAKE MORNING at The Lane … and 12.45pm to 3.45pm myself and Christina Courtenay are leading the IRRESISTIBLE HEROES WORKSHOP at the Central Library. Other Choc Lit authors Jane Lovering and Laura James are being so kind as to sell my books at the Romance Fair. Of course, they’re busy with their own events so Jane’s partner has kindly volunteered to take over. I’m not sure if he knows this yet.

Don’t anybody expect any real work from me until Monday! Because today is Publication Day and I’m managing to make it stretch over the weekend.

Even Amazon is celebrating with me – ‘Is This Love?’ is available at a special price for Kindle users because it’s part of the 100 Kindle Books promo.

A few of the first blogposts, interviews etc:

Bookgirl of Mur-y-Castell

Female First

ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association)

Mark West’s Strange Tales

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‘We like your book’

I’m doing a happy dance (mainly the cha-cha with a tiny bit of jive thrown in) because yesterday I  learned that Is This Love? has been shortlisted for the Readers Best Romantic Read Award at the Festival of Romance.

The paperback isn’t even out until the 7th of November and Is This Love? has already received a nomination. That is truly a reason to dance and be happy. In fact ‘happy’ isn’t strong enough a word – I feel as if a giant balloon has swooped me up into the sky.

As I was already going to the Festival Ball on Saturday 9th November, where the award ceremony takes place, I have bought a dress (purple, on theme with the cover, although I didn’t think of it at the time) so I’m all sorted.

The shortlist is strong (Scarlett Bailey, Miranda Dickinson, Liz Fenwick, Jane Lovering, me and Hazel Osmond) and congratulations to them all, and to all the authors shortlisted for the Romance Reader Awards, the Industry Awards and the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance.

The Romance Reader Awards are judged by a reader panel and so this nomination says to me ‘We like your book’. No commercial considerations weigh with a reader panel – each reader must read one dozen books and every book gets at least three reads – it’s simply that  Is This Love? is in the top six of the books they liked best of all those they read for the award. There can be only one winner for each award, of course, but actually, winning doesn’t matter to me as much as you might think. Last year I received four different nominations and didn’t win a sausage (in fact, had I won and the prize turned out to be a sausage, I would have been disappointed) but I thoroughly enjoyed those nominations, the validation, the happy feelings, and the awards events.L&F with Award

Nominations are fabulous.

But I have to admit that in 2011, when I did win, it was … incredible. That’s when Love & Freedom won the very same award for which Is This Love? has received its nomination.

The moment when the announcement was made is etched on my heart forever as one of those rare instants of pure joy. And I didn’t win a sausage, I won a beautiful crystal trophy. Then a waiter bought me chocolate cake and my evening was complete.

 

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The pleasure of being an author (great reviews for ‘Is This Love?’)

ITL?_new packshot

 

Really thrilled, this morning, to find notification of great reviews from:

 Serendipity Reviews and Being Anne

Being an author is  a pleasure. There’s a huge amount of hard work goes into each book (not just my hard work but everyone concerned with the production and promotion, too) and although I always love the characters, it’s incredibly warming when other people love them, too. It makes worthwhile all the days when the plot won’t work and the characters won’t behave and the whole point of what I want to say is eluding me. In fact, once good reviews start coming in, all that’s forgotten (especially as, by then, I’m writing new book to agonise and doubt about!)

Being a reader is an equal pleasure.  When others are watching the TV I’m reading. On trains I’m reading, in bed, over lunch, on planes, in waiting rooms, even cooking dinner (book/ereader in one hand, spoon in the other …), I’m reading. To lose myself in a wonderful story (usually a love affair, in my reading diet), want to meet the characters and visit the places is an absolute joy. It bathes me in a golden glow of satisfaction and it takes my mind away from whatever bad stuff there is in my life.

So if somebody indicates that one of my books has given them that kind of pleasure I’m overjoyed. I feel privileged. It doesn’t matter that it’s Monday, it doesn’t matter that the weather outside is cold and grey – today is a great day!

If you’d like to know more about the hero of ‘Is This Love?’, Jed Cassius, read an interview with him here.

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Ta-daaaahhh! Gorgeous new cover

Due out November 2013

Due out November 2013

I’m thrilled to be able to reveal my new cover.

I think it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Covers are crucial to giving a book a chance of success. Completely contrary to the saying ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ books are constantly judged in exactly that way. Browsers, particularly, are attracted or otherwise by the visual appeal. We sometimes refer to it as ‘pickupability’ – that elusive image that draws prospective readers to take a book from the shelf.

Choc Lit have given me a fine array of covers and this one is no exception. Berni Stevens is the talented cover artist who created this (and Dream a Little Dream) and I often don’t envy her her job. It’s common for cover artists to submit an array of concepts, have one taken up, work on refining and completing the design with the publisher – only for the buyers from major booksellers to give it the thumbs down. So then the cover artists begins all over again …

Berni was particularly under pressure with this cover because not only were we getting close to deadline for the American market but the lovely people at My Weekly had asked me to write a story for their 2014 Annual, due out ITL?_packshot copyin October 2013, and were including an interview with me, partly about Is This Love?, due out a month later. We all wanted the new cover to be included in the feature – and they go to press with the annual first thing this morning. So Berni did a fantastic job getting the cover finalised with a day in hand.

From a writer’s perspective, part of whether a cover ‘works’ for us relies on whether the it correctly interprets our words. It must be irritating to be given a cover depicting a woman with red hair if the story tells us her hair is black or that the hero drives a sportscar but we see him in a family saloon. And I never see how glaring inaccuracies contribute to pickupability. So I’m lucky that Berni reads my books and then creates something that’s truly awesome.

What do you think? Do you like the new cover?

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