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

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.

*********

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

DI Natalie Ward is Back #TheSleepover @bookouture

Roxy had a secret. 

Now she’s gone…

Today sees the cover reveal of the 4th book in the Natalie Ward series – THE SLEEPOVER. I can’t believe it, we’re onto the fourth book in that series already. It only seems a few weeks ago that Natalie Ward and her team were introduced to you, my readers.

I’ll tell you more about THE SLEEPOVER at a later date but for now, I’d like to thank my editor, Lydia Vassar-Smith, my ace cover designer, and the Bookouture team who have once again excelled themselves. The cover will mean a great deal more to you once you’ve read the book and it actually brought a lump to my throat when I saw it. (Spoiler alert  – it relates to poignant passage in the book.)

Without further ado, here is the new cover and pre order links. Oh, and just so you know, I’ve already written the 5th book in the series, which will come out on December 6th!)

THE SLEEPOVER

Out September 5th but available to pre-order now CLICK HERE

Crime Pays #writers-life

AwardIn January 2017, I moved from comedy to crime. It was a bold move. I’d made my name as writer of comedy and enjoyed much success, written features for and appeared in national magazines, been on numerous BBC radio stations, even interviewed on BBC Breakfast Television (twice!). I’d won the prestigious People’s Book Prize award and had a contract with Bookouture/Hachette to write 2 more romantic comedies… and… I was performing a stand-up gig around the Midlands, entitled, Smile While You Still Have Teeth to sell-out audiences.

Moving from one genre to another is a challenge. You learn skills and techniques while writing one genre that can’t be transferred to another and you have to treat the whole writing process in a completely different way. Where I had once written whatever came into my head and written larger than life, hilarious characters and scenarios, now I had to think up twists and devious red-herrings and imagine the mind of a killer. I had to plot my books carefully, research like mad and lose the humour!

Bold or not, it was the right move. LITTLE GIRL LOST shot up the charts to become the #2 best-selling on Amazon Kindle and even became a USA Top 150 Best-Seller. DI Robyn Carter was taken to my readers’ hearts and more books in the series were commissioned and written.

Earlier this month, I had the most incredible news – my crime novels had sold over 500,000 copies. I had to sit down. Half a million copies? How was that ever possible?

Having pinched myself several times, I checked the email again. It was true and I was astounded. It was beyond my wildest expectations and I felt a huge surge of gratitude to my publisher, to all of the reviewers, bloggers and friends who have helped promote my books and most of all to my readers.

I have always dreamed of selling million copies. I love entertaining people, whether that be by making them laugh, feel-good about themselves and life or by thrilling them and making their jaws drop. To know half a million people have read my books is amazing.

My sincere to all of you who have helped make this happen. THE DARE, the third book in the DI Natalie Ward detective series comes out in April. There’ll be two more after it and one further crime thriller to be written by the end of the year. I have plans for more after that and hope you will continue to read and enjoy my books. I have my fingers tightly crossed that one day in the near future I’ll be able to say I’ve attained my goal but until I hit that elusive one million sales, I am immensely satisfied with what I have achieved so far and can only say that crime definitely pays!

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