Mamma Mia #writerslife

I’ve written before about my mother, a larger-than-life character who at almost five foot and fierce, was definitely the matriarch of our family. Having spent her youth in Rome, she was mad about Italy. When I say ‘mad about’ I mean totally crazy about the country, the people and the food. Nobody could cook a better calamari, scaloppine or bolognese sauce than her (and I have tried). Moreover, she was fluent in the language and spoke to me in Italian rather than English, in the hope that I would one day land a job in the country of her dreams and take her with me.

I always think my mum should have been born Italian. She had to settle for holidays in the country rather than living there, and although she and my father had planned to move there on his retirement, he passed away only a few months after giving up work and that dream too popped.

I never moved to Italy (although part of me wishes I had) but today, something is happening that would have made my mother very proud. It is the launch of  LITTLE GIRL LOST in Italian.

Hope Crime part of Hope Edizioni are publishing LA BAMBINA PERDUTA in paperback and eBook and my heart is overjoyed. I always get excited when one of my books comes out in a foreign language. The linguist in me jumps up and down in glee but this one has even more meaning…

This one is solely for you ‘mamma mia’.

Italian Cover for LGL

Always Believe #writerslife #TuesdayThoughts

 

When I wrote my first thriller, I was a bag of nerves. The move from writing romantic comedy to writing crime fiction was a massive step. I wasn’t sure I’d made the right decision, after all, I was comfortable writing comedies. This new style of writing was alien to me. All I really knew was that I enjoyed reading it and wanted to produce books that explored human nature and were so full of twists readers would never guess who the outcomes.

Little Girl Lost required a huge amount of planning and researching , way more than I was used to, and it took me almost a year to write what became the first in the DI Robyn Carter series. It underwent numerous edits ( I had put in too many humorous asides!) and each time I deleted pages of hard work to rewrite them, I wondered time and time again, if I had made the right decision.

In the end, the book was ready and I was pleased with the result if not still paranoid at how it would be received. I’d only expected to write that one book but after my editor read it, she decided it was excellent and signed me up for a series – an entire series of DI Robyn Carter books. That series became two separate series, with another new detective, DI Natalie Ward, and I can confidently say I have definitely found my niche.

Today, I couldn’t be prouder. I learnt that LITTLE GIRL LOST has sold over 200,000 copies. To know that one of my books has sold so many copies is humbling and I am hugely grateful to everyone who bought a copy and to all who helped promote it.

My message to fellow writers, searching for inspiration, is if you want to try your hand at a different genre then do so. Be brave and step out of your comfort zone and always believe. Dreams do come true, you know? 200,000 copies

The Ups and Downs of a Writer #writing #writerscommunity

publicity photos:magazinesTen years ago this week, I decided to write a novel that would entertain, make readers laugh and would resonate with them.

I hadn’t thought about becoming ‘a writer’. I believed I was a one-trick pony. I wrote the book but by the end of it, I had caught the writing bug, along with an idea for a sequel, and a series of non-fiction comedies based on similar themes.

I sent endless emails to agents and publishers but my book and ideas were rejected, time after time after time. In the end, I turned to self-publication, put the book up on Amazon and, using FeedARead, got my book into print.

I read somewhere that a writer can count themselves lucky if they sell 400 copies of their debut novel in a year. In the ensuing 12 months, I sold only half that number, but by the start of 2011, thanks to the generosity of the blogging community and book reviewers who agreed to read a book from an unknown writer, sales suddenly gathered momentum and 5-star reviews even appeared in newspapers and magazines. By January 2012, I found myself featured in Woman’s Own magazine, in an article about best-selling writers.

A life of a writer has ups and downs, successes and failures. It is a bumpy road. Every success is hard-fought and writing the book is only the beginning. The rest is endless promotion, connecting with readers, doing talks, writing press releases, keeping up relations with bloggers, and constantly trying to get your name out there. It is tough! Oh boy, is it tough! It can result in anxiety and sleepless nights, and some days, you are so busy trying to juggle everything, there is barely enough time to write another book let alone live life.

What you require is tenacity and patience. Luckily, I have both and eventually they paid off. My biggest ‘lucky break’ and pivotal turning point came when editor Lydia Vassar-Smith at Bookouture saw my potential and I was offered a contract. It was with her guidance that I moved from comedy to the dark side – probably the best move I could ever have made. Today, my crime series have sold well over 600,000 copies and have been translated into several languages.

Let me say, the journey hasn’t been easy, but it has certainly had its highlights including:

  • Being interviewed on BBC Breakfast television (not once but twice) (You can watch that interview by clicking HERE)
  • Appearing on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 show
  • Becoming a regular blogger for the Huffington Post (Read my posts by clicking HERE)
  • Winning the People’ Book Prize award in 2015 and being interviewed on Sky News (Watch the ceremony on YouTube HERE .You can see me receiving my award at 7.45 minutes into the video)
  • Becoming a ‘loud mouth’ on BBC Radio Derby and appearing regularly on the breakfast show
  • Having articles published in national magazines including Woman’s Weekly, Choice and Take a Break.
  • Being interviewed for The Writing Magazine – one of my dreams
  • Little Girl Lost becoming a USA Today Top 150 best-selling novel
  • Having the #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible
  • Being the author of several #1 best-selling novels
  • Listening to the audiobook versions of all my crime novels
  • Seeing my books published in other languages
  • Being taken on by literary agent Amy Tannenbaum from the Jane Rotrosen Agency in New York
  • Signing a 3-book deal with Thomas & Mercer

I won’t list the lows. I try to learn from them rather than dwell on them. Suffice to say, there were plenty but ultimately, they don’t matter because, in spite of the sleepless nights, I have enjoyed myself hugely. I have loved creating and living with my characters and even more than that, sharing them and their lives with you.

Books with Bookouture.pngAnd finally, and most importantly, I have loved meeting you all. Before I began writing I was a reclusive, lonely woman, shut inside a house with little sense of purpose. The day I began writing and blogging was the day my world opened up. I have met so many people virtually who I count as friends. I have a wonderful Street Team who support me and chat to me regularly, and who I can’t thank enough. There are also three people I wish to mention who began this journey with me and who I met while I was blogging as research for that first novel. They are my ‘Golden Girls’  – Diane Croad, Barbara Brannon White and Pam Lofton who all began blogging at the same time as  I did and welcomed me into their lives. I shall be forever grateful for their endless enthusiasm and support.

So what about the next ten years? Well, more crime novels, two new series and another couple of comedies are all planned in my head so… here’s to the next ten!

Header Image Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pexels

 

 

 

One year on… #GoodNewsTues #TeaserTues

It seems only five minutes ago I was leaping about in excitement waiting to introduce you to DI Natalie Ward and her team. It was actually a year ago this coming Friday, and yet today, here I am sharing the cover for the fifth book in the series, which will be out on December 12th.

To say I am pleased that Natalie has won a place in so many hearts in an understatement. I have been astonished and elated to receive reviews, messages and emails all saying how invested readers are in her, her family life situation and the actual investigations.

I am thoroughly enjoying writing the series but this book… the book I am revealing today, is my absolute favourite and the cover for it! Oh, wow!

Well, see for yourselves…

BLOSSOM TWINS front

Their parents thought they were hiding…

One beautiful summer’s evening, thirteen-year-old twins Ivy and Erin Westmore snuggle down in a tent in their back garden, giggling and sharing secrets.

When their mother goes to wake the girls the next morning, their tent is empty.

The alarm is raised and Detective Natalie Ward is put onto the case. When the twins’ bodies are discovered on nearby marshland, covered with deep pink petals, an icy shiver travels down Natalie’s spine. Everything about the girls’ deaths reminds her of a horrifying case she worked on earlier in her career, which saw a killer of the worst kind placed behind bars.

The next day, that feeling is heightened when she receives a chilling note saying ‘I’m back’. Is this killer a copycat or did Natalie put the wrong person in prison all those years ago? In a small town, where no stranger goes unnoticed, what is Natalie missing?

Consumed by the case, determined to prevent more deaths, Natalie misses the fact that it is her attention the killer wants. And to get it, he has his sights set firmly on her precious daughter Leigh…

Gripping, fast-paced and nail-bitingly tense, this book will keep you flying through the pages long into the night. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter.

THE BLOSSOM TWINS is available to pre-order now and I hope it will leave you open-mouthed in astonishment.

PRE-ORDER BY CLICKING HERE

Research Gone Mad #MondayMotivation #MondayMorning @bookouture

In August 1980 my life turned upside down. What was to be a simple hospital procedure saw me paralysed and facing a year of uncertainty, fear and major surgery.

I was a 20-year-old university student who suddenly was unsure of the future. My life, my boyfriend, and my studies were all up in the air. I’ll spare you the gory details and the struggles, and say I was lucky. Oh my goodness, I was very lucky and my life only temporarily derailed. It did however, give me the inspiration and reason to write this book.

Take A Chance on Me FB-Graphic4Take A Chance On Me is set in a hospital radio station where Charlie, whose daughter has tragically been killed in a car accident, is struggling to find reason to life. Aided by her best-friend, wheelchair-bound Mercedes, she faces a journey she could never have imagined, that will lead her to… well… you’d have to read the book to find out.

Today sees the anniversary of the book’s release and it is still to date, my favourite book. I wrote it to inspire people who face challenging times, to give them hope and to remind everyone not to give up even when life seems impossible. We must all seize opportunities, take chances and live life.

The book took over a year to complete, not because of the complexity of the story, but more due to the fact I actually did all the challenges that Charlie faces in the book: from eating a bush-tucker trial at the very restaurant she is taken to, doing a zip wire (like Charlie I have a morbid fear of heights) to diving with sharks.

Take A Chance on Me FB-Graphic5Like most writers, I take research very seriously, but never did I think I’d be taking a belly-dancing class, scoffing locusts, mealworms, ants and kangaroo, then zorbing down a hill in a huge inflatable ball, all on the same day – Suffice to say, I didn’t feel too great by the end of the day, but at least my book is based on genuine experience!

Take a Chance on Me has received a huge amount of praise and I love getting emails from readers who have written out a bucket list after finishing the book and are taking on personal challenges.

Life’s short. Seize the day! Carpe Diem. 

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME available from  Amazon UKAmazon US – GooglePlay

Why Book Bloggers are Invaluable #bookbloggers #bookreviewers

Way back in May 2010, I had a debut self-pubbed novel waiting to launch and no idea how to go about it. For the year leading up to publication, I’d been a blogger with a humorous blog that had found an audience, one who would enjoy the novel, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines, and although I knew some of my followers would buy the book, it would hardly be enough to pay for a week’s food shopping bill.

I contacted a friendly author who I’d met online, Talli Roland, who sent me in the direction of Linda Hill, a top book blogger who’d helped Talli launch one of her books and Linda, who’d never heard of me, read and reviewed my book and pointed me in the direction of other book bloggers who’d be willing to help me launch it. In effect, she took an unknown author under her wing and helped me on my writing journey.

That was how I discovered the book blogging community – a generous group of people who love reading and who give up their time willingly to help share their love of books. Their dedication is remarkable. I know how long it takes to set up a post, to ensure you have the right graphics, jpegs, links, information and as for writing a review! Well, I might be able to draft a pretty decent crime novel but ask me to review one and it’d be a pathetic attempt, littered with the bland adjectives, yet book bloggers manage to write truly entertaining and enjoyable reviews. Some manage it in spite of families, jobs and crises.

Over the last ten years, I have been saddened to see some of those who I have grown very fond of, leave blogging altogether – overwhelmed by the demands put on them, struggling to read in time for book tours, and saddest of all, actually put off reading. That is a terrible shame and a loss.

In brief, the book blogging community is one for which I have the utmost respect and yet I think it is one that too often gets abused. As publishers and more authors get wise to the value of book bloggers and increasing numbers of book tours are arranged, so the pressure is increased on this group of people. They rise to the challenge and support a huge number of authors and for little more than an advanced copy of the book. There is no financial renumeration and sometimes, not even thanks from the author.

My  latest release has been on a book tour since Thursday and not only have I been absolutely blown away by the reviews themselves, which are often peppered with amusing asides, or brilliantly put together, but by the free promotion book bloggers give in sharing their posts (in some cases repeatedly throughout the day or tour ) on social media. So, today, I’d like to mention a few who showed me huge support by reviewing The Sleepover, and urge you to follow them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, follow their blogs or even spare a few minutes to visit their blogs today and leave a little hello in the comments. Pass by if only to see how much effort goes into their posts. You might even come away with a few reading recommendations.

To all of you who are book bloggers – a sincere thank you. Without you, we writers would  probably remain unknown.

Nigel Adams, is an ex-firefighter and arson/fire investigator and lecturer who loves reading. Not only did he take part in the tour even though he was on holiday on the other side of the world, but gave me such help over the fire scenes in the book and has posted an adorable photo of Kai the fire dog, mentioned in the story.

If you haven’t read any of The Writing Garnet or  Jen Med’s Book Reviews or Booked Up Girl’s brilliant reviews, you are missing out big time. These three write the funniest, most entertaining reviews I have read.

Full-time working mum  Steph from StefLoz Book Reviews reads a variety of books and is a massive support to so many authors. I was so glad to finally meet her this year.

Robin Loves Reading, is a prolific reader who’s reviewed for many websites over the years and read over 700 books from April last year to this and wrote over 335 reviews for Netgalley in three months!

Sean from Sean’s Book Reviews  is a former gymnast who lives in Toronto and adores reading.

Shell Baker from Baker’s Not so Secret Blog has been reading for 27 years and is also part of the admin team for Crime Book Group on Facebook which has just over 15.000 members.

Chocolate and Waffles blog written by Meggy is a delightful place just to hang out for a while.

In no particular order but I love them all because they are a fantastic group of people>>>

Stardust Book Reviews Sharon works in a library and has a serious passion for books – any books but mostly crime/thriller and chick lit.

Emma’s Biblio Treasures Love this website anther photos… this post has the cutest kitten!

Tishylou A lady with a big heart! What more need I say?

Donna’s Book Blog with over 1400 reviews on Netgalley, it is safe to assume Donna is an avid reader!

 Fireflies and FreeKicks Fiction

My Book Reviews from Nicola. Relatively new to book blogging and posts fab photos n Instagram

Sincerely Book Angels – mother and daughter team with sincere, simple, succinct and spoiler-free reviews.

There are so many I ought to thank and not enough space here to do so but I have made it my mission to try and support at least one book blogger every week, so if you leave your website and social media details in the comments, I’ll come by and promote your posts.

In the meantime… thank you. Thank you all.Thanks7

My Paperback Deal #amwriting @bookouture

Soon after I got the writing bug and had written a couple of books, I sat down and made out a list of goals I wanted to attain – steps, if you like, on my personal ladder of writerly success. They included: find a publisher who wanted to publish my books, write a best-seller, win a book prize award, have my books published in other languages and… the truly elusive one, get a coveted paperback deal.

Me in The Works 2All my books to date (with the exception of SECRETS OF THE DEAD which was available in The Works bookshops) are on what is known as POD, print on demand. That’s to say, if you order the book on Amazon or head to a bookshop and request it, they will have to send an order to the printers and an individual copy will be produced. A ‘paperback deal’ however, is the real McCoy (who was McCoy?) and publishers will do a run of several thousand copies at one time, and some of those will find their way into supermarkets and bookshops and appear on bookshelves all over the country.

I wrote out my ‘Wish List’ in 2016 just before I signed with Bookouture, and they have pretty much made all my other wishes come true. My books are available in Germany, Norway, Israel, Turkey, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy and Poland to name a few. countries. I’m well over halfway with my million-seller goal and… I’ve had several best-sellers.

Today, I’m over the moon to tell you I have got my first ever proper paperback deal!

cannock 3Bookouture have been in talks with Sphere (who will publish the book) for ages and ages and… THE BIRTHDAY will be coming out in paperback in spring 2020.

I couldn’t be happier. Ten years on from when I started writing and I have put a fat tick next to this goal. What’s next on my list? Well, I’d rather not reveal that just yet but rest assured I have a few more to tick off.

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By the way… I’m delighted to let you know that the Kindle version of THE BIRTHDAY is only 99p right now in the UK as part of the Kindle Monthly Deal!

Grab your copy here: http://ow.ly/LrQJ50viA5l