Thursday, December 29, 2011

On The Fourth Day of I'm over at the RNA Blog

I've posted over on the RNA Blog about one of my grandmother's Christmas ornaments to the RNA tree.

I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas season.... 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

My family is all here...the Christmas pudding is made, the presents wrapped, carols are playing and the air is filled the with scent of cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.... I am bubbling with happiness. I wish I could bottle it and share it with you all. Instead all I am able to do is wish  that you have a wonderful, magical Christmas. x

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Monday, December 05, 2011

Marketing - A Learning Curve Part 5 (I am a Product)

me - thinking hard
Here are the posts I did a little while ago on marketing and PR in case you missed them.

marketing - a learning curve
marketing - a learning curve part 2
marketing - a learning curve part 3
marketing - a learning curve part 4

I'm now only six months from publication of THE CORNISH HOUSE. Uncorrected proof copies are out in the world and people are reading it - GULP(more about this another time). The book is no longer 'mine' it belongs to who ever reads it. If it works, which I hope it does, it becomes the reader's THE CORNISH HOUSE. But God is this scary - as my kids would say sh*t scary - of course they would never say this in front of me!

These proof copies are a key marketing tool and I have begun posting them to reviewers and interviewers - fingers crossed they love it. But as I prepare to send these out and draft yet another email to another magazine or blog I have to think of myself as a product. I want to promote the book, but that may not be what they want. They want an article they can feature that fits their publication...

So I have to step back and think about myself differently. It is a time to put all bashfulness aside and ask...
- What about me is different?
- What about me is interesting? (nothing i hear you say, but look harder and go all the way back to primary school if you must)
- Think of the meme things that were so popular on blogs a few years ago - you know the ones where you confessed the world that you had been a runner up in a beauty pageant (yup - yes at 18 or 19, memory happily fails - trying for a branch in the Boston area of the Irish American Rose of Tralee Contest and a trip to Ireland) and that you won a poetry contest (not to my knowledge) etc...

I have been reading back copies of writing magazines, Alison Baverstock's book - MARKETING YOUR BOOK: An Author's Guide, and looking through my notes from Jane Wenham-Jones' talk at the RNA conference this summer. You do have to separate yourself from yourself if that makes sense. Make a decision about what you are willing to send with the wide world. You need to know what you are comfortable with sharing. How do your family feel about being dragged in? Be sure you know before you proceed!

So in order to put together a list for the publicity department at my publishers, Orion I had to dig deep - in fact it was more like having your tooth drilled without the benefit of pain relief. I also can say I haven't done a very good job but I did do it. I would suggest before you begin making little paragraphs - a simple list of one or two words...

For me it began with ...
- writer (stating the obvious but then it's not longer a blank list)
- wife
- mother of 3
- expat expert
- cat lover
- traveler
- fearful flyer
and so on... you get the idea. With that list it's easier to build pitch paragraphs and you need them. You need to be thinking out of the box all the a debut author (by the way see Nicola Morgan's post here and make sure you click through and read Nicola's interview with Catherine Ryan Howard) chances are you won't be reviewed so you need to look at other ways to get your name and your books name out there...

This is where the list comes in handy...I was reading a writing mag on the flight on Friday. They mentioned a new magazine in Bahrain. So I dog eared the page and then yesterday I did some on-line research to see what the magazine was about...once I figured that out, I went to my list to find a fit....and twenty minutes later I had drafted an email to the editor highlighting a feature of my life that might just fit their magazine. Look at it like the children's game where you have a list of names on one side and pictures on the other....

me -losing the plot completely!
This also help to keep 'you' out of it...after all you are just taking a little paragraph and matching it to their needs....simple - sort of....

Have you ever thought of yourself as a product?

(the pictures were taken by the wonderful Adam Gibbard and you can find him here.)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Dubai Rubgy 7s 2011

It was a bit of a tight squeeze making it to the &s this year...DD's school play came first but I managed to attend the final day and I was so glad I did. Here's a few pics of the event...

Chris Cracknell and me
US team warming up

UAE team

US kicking 

US vs Canada

UAE team

USA team
Canada team

Aussie mascot

Portugal team wearing someone else's shirts

Australia team with mascot in tow

New Zealand team

Here's Siderman with a few rugby supporters
The only regret for me is that there were so few people dressed up...

This couple were fabulous...

Of course there were a few more pics of me with rugby players...
George Gregan and me

Jason Robinson and me

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Book Trailer for The Cornish House

I think I may stick to writing in future as producing one of these although fun in an odd sort of way... was brain burning...

Not sure the resolution is quite right....but my brain is sufficiently fried!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Peter James and Emirates Airlines Literary Festival of Literature

All things being equal or schedules working out, I would have been at the RNA Winter Party last night...instead I had to find a willing photographer to take the pics I normally do. The wonderful Talli Roland did a wonderful job and her pictures of the evening are here.

Now I have to thank the wonderful DJ Kirby for taking this photo of my wonderful agent, Carole Blake (she's Peter James' agent too!) and one of my closest friends, Brigid Coady, holding a proof copy of THE CORNISH HOUSE. So even if i wasn't there in person I was there in book form. (Biddy was hand delivering a copy of the book to the RNA for entry into the Joan Hessayon New Writers Award- thank you Biddy!)

Now, thankfully to take my mind away from a party I was attending the inaugural open door event of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature....official post here....

It was a beautiful night to be sitting in a 'square' under the stars in my favourite part of  Dubai - the Bastakiya. It was a full 'square' as Isobel Abulhoul welcomed us to the first event of the programme of 'Open Door' evenst and thanked the Sharjah International Book Fair for loaning Peter James for the eveningss. The lovely Aspen quizzed Peter on many things and he entertained with his responses which included tales of his visits to Greek monasteries and favourite crime writers. He says the writer that influenced him most was Graham Greene and particularly Brighton Rock. He said all writers could learn so much from Greene especially how to deliver a character in two sentences.

It was wonderful to see the queues to buy his books...especially his latest thriller Perfect People. The line for to meet Peter after the talk snaked through the beautiful new home of the Festival...Dar Al Adaab (House of Literature).

A perfect evening and one excellent start to a new step for the festival....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Day at Sharjah International Book Fair

Nothing like a day spent around books (millions of them - well it looked like it any way) and people who love books. There were Arabic books of every shape and size. One stall had the most beautifully bound leather covers. I couldn't resist touching them even though the beautiful script on them was a mystery to me. Walking around the halls I found books in all sorts of languages and on sorts of subjects. I fell in love a coffee table size book on carpets....enough I get carried away...

What impressed me most the vast array of children's books. There were familiar ones, but most impressively there were exquisite local ones with superb illustrations. More the than the beautifully bound ones mentioned above, these books begged to held and enjoyed. I hadn't expected the fair to be so child friendly, but I am so pleased that it was. Literacy is a problem in the region and tackling this by beginning with the children to my mind is the correct way to do it....

The fair also gave me the opportunity to catch up with twitter friend and best selling writer Sara Sheridan (love meeting people in person after chatting with them virtually). Now for some more name dropping....I bumped into the fab Peter James (who shares the wonderful agent Carole Blake with me and may others) and got to know Kate Mosse...(who is published by Orion too)...

And my children would have died of embarrassment... I showed anyone who would look - a proof copy of THE CORNISH HOUSE....even had my photograph taken for a local paper with me holding it...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

All I Want For Christmas....

Two things have brought this to best friend asked me a little while what was my best Christmas present ever??? After little thought I knew exactly what it 2006 my family gave me a lap top - of my own. I wept. I still tear-up thinking about it. Money was tight, but they believed in me enough to give me the tool to reach my dreams. They also wanted me off the family computer too but we won't go into the motivation.

Now the second thing making think about this is Cally Taylor's new book HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is out and it looks like a delicious read...

'Beth Prince has always loved fairytales and now, aged twenty-four, she feels like she's finally on the verge of her own happily ever after. She lives by the seaside, works in the Picturebox - a charming but rundown independent cinema - and has a boyfriend who's so debonair and charming she can't believe her luck! There's just one problem - none of her boyfriends have ever told her they love her and it doesn't look like Aiden's going to say it any time soon. Desperate to hear 'I love you' for the first time Beth takes matters into her own hands - and instantly wishes she hadn't.
Just when it seems like her luck can't get any worse, bad news arrives in the devilishly handsome shape of Matt Jones. Matt is the regional director of a multiplex cinema and he's determined to get his hands on the Picturebox by Christmas. Can Beth keep her job, her man and her home or is her romantic-comedy life about to turn into a disaster movie?

I definitely want to find this in my stocking....Santa you can order it here

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

My Proof Copies of THE CORNISH HOUSE

I have a lump in my throat as I write proof copies of THE CORNISH HOUSE arrived at lunch time. DH and I were eating in a restaurant that features in the book when the delivery came for my signature. It was all I could do to stop myself from hugging the man.
DH has promised to read the book now that it's in print. Here he is looking for the saucy bits.
All I can say is that it is an amazing feeling to have your book in your hands. I keep touching it trying to prove to myself that it is real and not a dream. I loved seeing the cover but to experience the book in 3D and to smell it...yes, odd I know but any way to imprint the moment in my memory for ever.
And one more picture because it looks so pretty with the flowers from my Cornish garden....

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


I can't tell you how exciting this is...but it gives me the chills. Here's the cover for THE CORNISH HOUSE...

Does this mean it's real???? And can I just say how much I love it and how I think the tag line is sooooo perfect...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Haunted Houses in Cornwall and NaNoWriMo

As it Halloween let's talk about haunted houses or at least look a great article from FT this weekend on them here. The one I want is to find the money - hah!

NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow and because I am foolish and had so much fun last year...I'm doing it again. I'll be writing ENEMY - save a stranger from the sea, he become your enemy...

Of course I'll be working on ridding THE CORNISH HOUSE of all the sighing, head shaking and sitting up straights that I can managed too...

Are you NaNoWriMoing?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Emirates Airlines Literary Festival of Literature and Me!

I've been dying to share this news, but couldn't until it was announced last night at the glamorous opening of the new permanent home for the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature - Dar Al Adaab (House of Literature)

This was exciting enough, but then to see my name projected on the wall as one of the authors appearing at the Emirates Airlines Festival 2012 when  Isobel Abulhoul, Festival Director, made the announcement....well I confessed I gasped and the kind Emirati poet beside smiled. 

It was also a brilliant opportunity to meet other local authors who will be appearing at the festival and to see the wonderful new facility in the heart of the Bastikiya, my favourite part of Dubai. Since my first involvement I have met so many interesting people and learned so much. I just can't wait for this year's festival.... And here's the link proving to me that I haven't been dreaming here....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Blurb for THE CORNISH HOUSE and Publicity

Just checking on Amazon, as one does, and saw the new blurb is

When artist Maddie inherits a house in Cornwall shortly after the death of her husband, she hopes it will be the fresh start she and her step-daughter Hannah desperately need. Trevenen is beautiful but neglected, a rambling house steeped in history. Maddie is enchanted by it and determined to learn as much as she can about its past. As she discovers the stories of generations of women who've lived there before, Maddie begins to feel her life is somehow intertwined within its walls. But Maddie's dream of a calm life in the countryside is far from the reality she faces. Still struggling with her grief and battling with Hannah, Maddie is unable to find inspiration for her painting and realises she may face the prospect of having to sell Trevenen, just as she is coming to love it. And as Maddie and Hannah pull at the seams of Trevenen's past, the house reveals secrets that have lain hidden for generations. This gorgeously sweeping debut from Liz Fenwick is touched with romance and mystery, a perfect summer read.

Definitely a pinch me moment! As was meeting with my publicist, my publicist (just had to say that again) yesterday. It was to be done...hard market to get any press for Women's Fiction especially for a début...but will I need to think what's special about me - hard task at any time...any thoughts will be gratefully received!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Steps Ahead

As some many of you have been kindly following THE CORNISH HOUSE's progress I realize I have been remiss and haven't provided you any updates. This summer, as you may remember, I did the BIG edit and ripped the first third of the book apart (learned a huge amount - like how to kill more darlings than I even knew I had- whole chapters went- and that Inner Voice is always right). I was scared to send the edits in. Had I made the book worse and not better? Had I failed my characters? These were the questions that the crows of doubt were asking?

Instead I should have been listening to my inner voice, which agreed with my sage editor on pace, which was much of what the edit was about...also about giving my reader more of what they would want...This is a new step because aside from a trusted few...well, readers have been very limited in number. And this is what I am taking into the work I am doing on AUGUST ROCK.

But back to my edits on TCH...if I had been listening to my inner voice who was pleased the work I wouldn't have sweated so much waiting for the verdict. I thought I'd need to go in and rip some more, but no! Agent loved it and so did editor and so did Biddy (who read through the first four chapters...reassurance and hand holding were required!).

The email from editor arrived last week saying yes...I'd done my work well (phew) and those few things i didn't agree on (Inner Voice spoke on not changing some things) were good now that other changes had taken place...the journey was there...the reader would follow.

Now comes the copy edits...gulp. New stage. New skills needed. I should have them in about two a dyslexic I am expecting the whole book to be covered in red...

Speaking of covers...I've had another glimpse and it's close but i still can't share it with you...soon, I hope.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The RNA's Regency Celebration

Yesterday! Wow!

At the Royal Overseas League in Park Place the RNA held a day celebrating all that was Regency and most importantly the work of two writers - Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. It was the first time the RNA had held a readers day and what a result. Fun, frolics, drama and a touch of academia all rolled into one.

The day began with a panel on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. The chair for the panel was Julie Cohen revealing her previous life as an academic and reminding me of university with her insights in to the duality of the work....and more. While also on the panel were writers Nicola Cornick, historian and author of many best selling Regency novels, authors Beth Elliot and Juliet Archer (who takes Austen's plots and characters and gives them a modern twist in her work). The panel was fun and informative with much discussion of Emma Thompson film of the novel.

This was followed by a break when I explored Regency clothing and found myself in 'costume' different one feels and carries oneself....the clothes make the man or at least the posture in this case! Plus there were people wandering around in full Regency attire - I couldn't stop ogling.

Dr. Jennifer Kloester entertained us with a wonderful presentation of the life of Georgette Heyer and blew away many myths that surround this profic and superb writer of so many beloved novels. I can't wait to read the book penned by Jen GEORGETTE HEYER and her life....

Then it was time for more dressing up...DD and DH were with me and they joined in on the fun before the Regency dancing and the Regency Scents....

There was lunch with a quizz that went to tie many people who really new their period and their authors...

For the next session I left DD and DHG to play parlour games with I enjoyed but won't report on the panel - THE CESTIAL BED - Sex & The Georgians...let's just say that the mind boggles. Biddy Coady did a fabulous job on her reading and Jan Jones demonstrated a knowledge of many thing that don't end up in her books!

There was a very special Waterloo tea held at the East India Club....drama, mystery and dashing men in uniform all with delicious cakes and tea in period surrounding...I might swoon (at one point a dashing solider oftered me still my beating heart)

The day wound up with a panel on AUSTEN & HEYER - Were they better than they thought they were? On the panel - Gillian Green (Editorial Director for Ebury Press), Dr Jennifer Kloester, Roy McMillan (director and actor and with Naxos AudioBooks), Joanna Fulford (author of regencies) and chaired by Sophie Page.  The panel began with a general swoon when Roy mention that Richard Armitage had read there audio version of Heyer's Venetia.  There was far too much that came out of this panel to summarize at all...but brilliant.

I was live tweeting during the day as was @beecee (aaka Brigid Coady) and the tweets can be found #RNARegencyDay and #RegencyCelebration ...

I've posted a few photos here, but the rest of my pictures ( I apologize for the quality - my camera died and I used my phone) are here. The lovely Annie Burrows will be providing a report for the RNA Blog in the next few days....

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Importance of Being With Other Writers and Inner Voice

I know I've written this before but it is so writers we are alone and in our heads day in and day out. Characters and setting fill our minds. We live in a make believe world. Wonderful, yes, but hard to explain or share with other who don't have the same creative passion. When we are away with the fairies, we might indeed be or we might be figuring out why Jane left her husband and ran off with the hairy biker....not real people but characters we've created...

So its a treat to get together with like minded souls who spend there days listening to voices in their heads. On Tuesday I went to the RNA's Oxford lunch. Bliss. I finally had time to properly meet the wonderful Emma Lee Potter. We know it each other from Twitter and have met at some event, but have never had the chance to chat. As with these things, it happened once chatting there were less that six degrees of separation....her wonderful blog House With No Name is up for an award from Cosmo. Go and vote for it please...

Also at this month's lunch was Becky from Isis audio books and a 'squee' moment happened for me...she recognized the title of my book! She'd been in Orion's offices and had heard about it and thought it sounds perfect for them. Definitely 'squee'! As we all introduced ourselves around Becky shared some insights into audio books at Isis...

- their big market is any work that authors do in libraries is key
- it's the author name - name recognition that is so important in libraries for audio books
- they do 28 titles a month
- they still produce cassettes and they do do downloads which appear on Audible etc.
- it's the highest honour when an author says it's the 'right' voice for the reading

As we went round the everyone chimed up with what they were doing...the key thing that came up again and again was trusting your Inner Voice...not the critic that tells you it's all sh*te, but the voice that tells you it's right and the voice that says you don't need that bit no matter how lovely the prose and the voice that reminds you not to chase publication for the sake of it, but listen to the what you really want to write. I really believe this and I was a cheer leader for Anita Burgh sitting beside me. She couldn't say listen to your Inner Voice enough and the more I write, edit, re-write....the more I believe she is right. JoJo Moyes mentioned this same thing in her talk (my notes here). Initially it's hard to trust, but it is your best friend. It will hold your hand as you kill your darlings and write the books of your heart....

Last night I saw the latest version of the cover for THE CORNISH's lovely but I still can't share...hopefully soon

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marketing - A Learning Curve Part 4

In yesterday's post, I missed out on the excellent suggestion by Stephanie Zia in the comments from Tuesday, which has given me a brilliant idea, but you will have to wait to see/hear my version. She suggested creating twitter accounts for the characters in your book, which I think is an excellent idea especially if the character has a really strong voice or possibly not enough page space in the book to tell 'their' story... Also check out Stephanie excellent post on Self Promotion here.

Now for the final (as in we're at the end of what I have learned so far...I think there will be more as I progress through this half year until publication)....

Family and Friends

Yup, your near and dear. I know that many writers don't get the support they need or have earned from family and friends...that saddens me no end. However they, if on side, are your best marketing tool.

As a parent of teenagers I aim, even sometimes live, to embarrass my children - hell, it's one of perks of having given birth to them. Having a mother who is a writer is a blessing and a curse for them - so they tell me. They are proud and deeply embarrassed...but pride normally wins. Because it normally, well, they tell people 'my mum's a writer' and most people usually ask 'oh, what does she write...' You catch my drift. It's the old word of mouth thing. One of my son's friend is over the moon my book is coming out in May in time to solve the problem of what to give his mother for her birthday...

DD said to me not long ago...'You will mention me by name in the book...' I nodded then asked why. She said, 'Because I want to be able to show my friends that it really is you...' The more friends she shows, quite frankly the better....because I know from my experience with her- she recognizes the books of all my writer friends she has met and she points them out to me in supermarkets and book stores....if her friends do the same when out with their mothers...

DH is also a walking, he hasn't read the book yet, but only last night he said, "When can I read it?" He has been proudly telling people all over the place that his wife is a writer and her book is coming I don't think generally and I may be wrong that people at petroleum related conferences are my target market but one never knows....

Every book sold counts and DS2 has grasped this concept...he's eyeing the future - his that is...Mum's success means royalties now and he thinks royalties later when he's in charge of my estate (hey, he can dream).

Friends carry the same weight and with THE CORNISH HOUSE coming out not just in the UK, but in places like Canada, Australia, South Africa.....and then there are the translated versions in Holland and Germany....they play a huge roll in what little marketing I can do in those countries. Friends may know a journalist for the local paper...they may be in a book club...and so on.

So the heart of my marketing and friends. Quite frankly it couldn't be in better hands....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Marketing - A Learning Curve Part 3

As happened with my first post on marketing, the suggestions raised in the comments were superb. So I've put them up here before I reveal my next marketing suggestion.

Kate Lord Brown provided a key tip...remember you are promoting your BOOK not YOU, which in theory should make it easier...maybe even easier if I pretend it's a friend book....

The brilliant Sarah Duncan (all aspiring writers must read her blog) provided the following tips from her experience...
'Coverage in the national media has, for me, been the most important re sales. The publicists know all the relevant people but I think you make their job easier by:

- writing a list of pitches for possible articles you could write

- providing a list of anyone or any place where you have a connection.

- Offering to contact local papers & radio yourself - no publicist will have time do do this. All the circulations are down, but you'll still get some coverage.

- coming up with 'angles' about yourself - but don't offer any personal info that you don't want them to use.'

And Jane Rusbridge suggested joining forces with other writers to organize writers' events because it's easier when you are not on your own (so true and I could promote some else's book while they did mine...)

So now onto a marketing tip that should be done well in advance of even finishing your first book.... Volunteer. Yes, this is something you can do even before you write THE END on book one. I can hear the cries that it will take away from writing time - true but what it gives back is amazing.

I joined the RNA in 2005. I attended the conferences, parties and made friends. I listened and watched. But things really took off for me when I volunteered to 'own' the RNA blog and shortly thereafter I pushed the RNA into twitter with RNAtweets. Because of my involvement with the RNA and twitter I became friends with my agent long before she was'mine'...and as they say the rest is history.

I love books so offering to help the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature was a natural thing...and the connections I have made through this will hopefully stay with me a long it was brilliant fun.

These two examples became part of my writing became part of being professional. It demonstrated that I took writing and the industry seriously. Because of the work for the RNA, I allowed myself more time to study the benefits of blogging etc. I treated it as a job. At the literary festival I learned I could stand up in front of a crowd and introduced authors (and get a close-up of how the pros do it)...and at one point last year I began a writing workshop because of a timing mix up....

So volunteering, I think is key to, shall we say, pre-marketing....

Tomorrow I have one more tip, if that's what it is....