My Agent Signing

It’s a bit late in the day, but I am delighted to tell you that I’ve signed with literary agent, Amy Tannenbaum, from Jane Rotrosen Agency

When I began my journey as an author, signing with such a well respected agent was no more than a pipe dream so to be able to say I am represented by a New York agency whose clients also include Robert Dugoni, Tess Gerritsen, Iris Johansen and Robert Brynzda, is a huge deal for me.

I have been incredibly fortunate and wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for the support I’ve had to get me to this point: bloggers, friends, and my editor, Lydia Vassar-Smith who has not only guided me, brought my writing on in leaps and bounds, but has also been a friend over the three years I’ve been with my publishers Bookouture, 

IMG_3596
2018 Bookouture party together with best-selling fellow Bookouture author Patricia Gibney

I am thrilled to be working with Amy and to tell you we have already signed for another police procedural with Bookouture. Here’s the announcement that also appeared in the Bookseller regarding that exciting news:

announcement of signing

Writing is a vocation. When I first began back in 2009, I told my  husband I wanted to write a best-seller. His response was, ‘If you want this, your going to have to work at it.’ and I have. Every single day (including birthdays and Christmas) since 2009, with very few interruptions. My routine demands I rarely sleep and that I spend hours at the laptop.  The result has been rewarding – twenty-one books to date, since that conversation with my husband, and not one, but many best-sellers and awards and foreign rights deals.

I’m very excited about 2019-2020, and now that I’m working with Amy, there will be lots of exciting news ahead. Watch this space for further announcements and please sign up to my mailing list HERE for my latest news.

Do you Dare? #internet #socialmedia

Asked recently at an author event where my inspiration for my crime novels comes from, I said simply, ‘life’. THE DARE, published on April 28th, is the third book in the Natalie Ward series and is to date my favourite but also the one that scared me the most.

Readers will know that I research each book extensively and THE DARE was no exception. Delving into the world of internet safety, I stumbled across instances where social media resulted in death – namely during games of dare.

Now, as a youngster I played Dare – a game in which your friends would encourage you too do crazy things like kiss the boy you fancied in your class, or spin around and around until you fainted – however,  some of the challenges young people have been taking up on social media go way beyond those seemingly innocent dares of yesteryear.

As we know, many teenagers are blinkered when it comes to safety first and due to a mixture of hormones and rebellious streaks combined with egging on by friends some take the online crazes to another level. I’m not talking the Bucket Challenge here – I’m talking duct tape, Tide Pod,  Fire Challenge, Kylie Jenner, and Cinnamon Challenge. Look them up to see what I mean but the one that stunned me was a craze that was huge in France where children would deliberately go missing for 48 hours.

Such madness could result in all manner of disasters and of course the idea became the catalyst for my book.

Although the book was written and submitted last year, I noticed that in February this year, the police in the UK issued warnings after the craze resurfaced and this challenge hit newspaper headlines again.

When I write my novels, I start with something dreadful or horrific that could easily happen to one of us or our children. It makes my writing more credible and I hope highlights some of the issues facing our society.

Where do I get my inspiration? I don’t have to look far for it. It’s under our noses!

*****

PURCHASE YOUR COPY FROM AMAZON 

The-Dare-KindleTHE DARE

Jane’s daughter is a good girl. But what is she hiding?

When thirteen-year-old Savannah Hopkins doesn’t come straight home from school as she always does, her mother Jane immediately raises the alarm. With her blonde ponytail and red school jumper, someone must have spotted Savannah.

Detective Natalie Ward is determined to help the distraught mother – her own daughter is the same age as Savannah. But before Natalie and her team can get started, their worst fears are confirmed when the teenager’s broken body is found in nearby shrubland.

Evidence points towards a local recluse, but just as Natalie closes the net around him, one of Savannah’s friends, Harriet, is reported missing. Harriet might look grown up and sophisticated but she is only fourteen…

As Natalie delves into the lives of both girls, she soon discovers a sinister video on both their phones, daring the girls to disappear from their families for 48 hours. She’s sure this is the key to the case, but before she can act, Harriet’s body is found discarded on a roadside.

Natalie’s superiors don’t have to put any extra pressure on Natalie. Devastated, she and her team work without sleep, watching that video over and over. But just as she thinks they’re getting close, the person Natalie loves more than anything goes missing.

Natalie is no stranger to loss. She is terrified and the clock is ticking. Can she push through her fear to catch this depraved killer, before her loved one becomes the next victim?

This gripping rollercoaster of a read will have you up in the small hours turning the pages. Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Caine and Robert Dugoni will love The Dare.

#Boom #SuddenlySingle

Suddenly Single final“The most uplifting book of 2019 that you will read!”

Today, I am incredibly proud to reveal the cover of my forthcoming comedy SUDDENLY SINGLE about Chloe Piper, author of a raunchy best-seller, Spank Me Harder, Vicar, who flees her soul-destroying marriage, cheating ex and village gossips for a life of solitude in the newly built Sunny Meadow Farm with her hapless dog, Ronnie.

But Chloe is soon pushed out of her comfort zone. Because with a lively development building crew – headed up by charming Alex – and a larger-than-life neighbour determined to make Chloe’s love life her pet project, Chloe finds herself in a whole new world of chaos…

****

Oh my! How I loved researching and writing this book. I hope you find it as hilarious to read as I did to write and come way feeling truly uplifted.

****

“This enthralling romantic comedy of self-discovery and new beginnings is perfect for fans of Kirsty Greenwood, Colleen Coleman and Marian Keyes.”

SUDDENLY SINGLE out APRIL 8th but available to pre order now by clicking any of the links below:

Amazon UK – Amazon USKobo –  Apple iBooksGoogle Play

Day in the Life of a Writer and Her Grumpy and more #writers-life #new-release

biggie smallsLast week, I was interviewed by chellesandbbooks and I thought I’d share the interview with you. If you ever wondered where my inspiration comes from, or which character I’d really like to bitch slap, read on….

Please tell us a little about What Happens in France and where your ideas for the book came from?
It’s a feel-good story about Bryony Masters, a somewhat quiet and reclusive teacher, whose sister, Hannah, ran away from home when she was 16. Bryony blames herself for the incident and has over the years, tried to find Hannah, but to no avail.

When her father has a sudden stroke, she is propelled into taking more drastic action and egged on by her best friend, Melinda, applies for a televised gameshow in the desperate hope she can use it as a platform to find her sister.

The show is filmed in France and she finds herself teamed up with the gorgeous but unattainable Lewis, and a bunch of hilarious competitors, including a limelight-stealing pug – Biggie Smalls. With Lewis’s help she has to fight off the competition and take part in a series of wacky and fun challenges, not to win the prize but to get the winners’ ten minutes of air time at the end of the show each day, which she uses to find Hannah.

As for the book’s inspiration, well, it was a mishmash of things. My mother suffered very badly from St Vitus Dance as a child and relayed the horrors of her own childhood which gave me the kernel of the idea for the Hannah and Bryony plot. That led me onto how Bryony would manage to find her sister and in turn, took me down the gameshow route. Given our obsession with shows like Love Island and the like, it seemed an ideal solution, so I applied for a variety of gameshows to see what I could find out. I ended up on quite a few (all in the name of research) but they helped fuel my ideas for the ridiculous challenges and games Bryony and Lewis have to tackle.

Finally, I am an absolute Francophile and have lived and worked in France. Nowadays, I visit the country several times a year, renting small gites, so it seemed the perfect place to set the book. A few years ago, my husband, AKA Mr Grumpy, and I travelled around Brittany and the Loire-Atlantique and stayed in chateaux along the way. It was such fun we went back a few more times and saw as much of the regions as we could.

Do you have a favourite character or scene from What Happens in France?

Read more and my life with Grumpy by clicking this link HERE which will open another window and take you to the interview.

 

Practical Tips for Writers #wednesdaymotivation #am-writing

animal-avian-bald-1025586I don’t know about you but when I’m lost in my manuscript, I can type hour after hour. I caught sight of myself the other day and well, I bore an uncanny resemblance to a vulture. Inevitably this poor posture takes effect and like many of my fellow writers, my shoulders, neck and back ache like crazy some days.

Having suffered with serious back problems for decades I already write while sitting on a stability ball rather than a chair. It ensures I maintain an upright position, but I have been known to topple off on many an occasion much to everyone’s mirth, and it requires concentration to stay on the ball in the correct position for lengthy spells. I recently heard that sitting on a memory foam pillow can help writers from getting too sore, so maybe that’s one to try out.

The last few years, I’ve also been suffering from frozen shoulders – a condition that sounds mildly amusing but is in reality, absolutely agonising and results in lack of sleep and perpetual pain. It’s something many writers can expect to get, so be warned. I was given cortisone injections into each shoulder but refused the operation that seemed inevitable because my surgeon advised me they would ‘defrost’ in time… five years to be exact. They took three years and three months and although I can move them more freely, my shoulders are like bags of rocks that would benefit from a daily deep tissue massage. Given that isn’t possible, I’ve been looking at other ways to resolve these writing aches and pains and apart from taking up QiGong, which is awesome, I have stumbled across massage balls.

These little miracles are so simple to use and cheap that it seems crazy not to give them a go. I bought mine for under £9.00. I chose the non-spiky version and tried them out immediately. Instant relief! It’s like experiencing a massage.

There are videos on YouTube to show you how to use them effectively but the simple act of placing them between my shoulder blades and a wall and then rolling against them was heavenly. Ten minutes later I felt like a new writer and got back to my WIP.

The object of this post is to stress the importance of taking breaks from your writing, no matter how involved you are. You need to stretch your hands, back, hips, shoulders and neck. If you don’t, eventually you will have health problems and speaking as one who has suffered more than her fair share, I live by the motto: prevention is better than cure.

So, grab yourself some massage balls and take ten minutes out to stretch and have a go at QiGong and you’ll be much more productive… and a lot healthier.

 

How to Write a Novel in Seven Days #amwriting

Last Lullaby - Square GraphicYes… you did read the title of this post correctly. I’ve been seeing a lot of social media posts offering to teach writers how to write a book in month or ten days, but you can actually write a novel in seven days without any instruction or shelling out for a course or book teaching you how to do it.

Last Lullaby due out in December, was written in May this year in… seven days.

I hadn’t planned on writing the entire book. It sort of happened. I was supposed to be going away on holiday to a small gite in France with my husband, but he couldn’t go last minute. I took advantage of the peace and quiet to start work and boy… did I work!

Anyway, here is my light-hearted diary of how I accomplished such a feat:

Day 1 – I am alone. No distractions. It’s raining. I have provisions for a couple days – largely lager, crisps, and some ready-made quinoa which looks nice but tastes weird. I’m very excited because I can please myself and write… write… write.

Decided to watch a little online telly first and discovered Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime. It looked interesting so I decided to watch it for a while to unwind.

Day 2 – Woke up at 11 a.m. Watching back-to-back Sneaky Pete all night wasn’t my best decision, still, I have all day today to work and it’s pouring with rain.

Typed until dinnertime some seven hours later. Decided not to watch Sneaky Pete Season 2 and opted for Spooks instead. Couldn’t sleep afterwards because I’d been scared rigid by one scene in Spooks. Decided to write to take away the fear. Conked out at 5 a.m.
Day 3 – Woke up at 7 a.m. Two hours sleep and I felt fine. Got no milk and couldn’t be bothered to get dressed and go to shop, so drank a can of lager for breakfast and returned to bed to type. Got up when the battery on my laptop ran out and I had to find the charger. Stopped by fridge to collect can of lager and some crisps. Returned to bed. Typed.
Day 5 – Realised I’d typed for two days solid without sleep. The story is in great shape but maybe some shuteye would be good at this point. Drank a can of lager and ate the last of the quinoa for breakfast. That perked me up so I abandoned the idea of sleep and having reached a critical part in the storyline, typed.
Day 6 –  Checked in on social media and frightened myself at how many notifications there were. Couldn’t face them so logged out again but not before I read the cheerleading messages left by my fellow authors in our Facebook group who knew what I was trying to achieve. Felt boosted and remotivated. Cleaned my teeth and gargled with a glass of lager to celebrate the book coming along nicely. Typed all day and into the early hours, pausing only to demolish the remaining crisps and lager.
Day 7 – Last day today so got up at 4 a.m. to begin writing. It has finally stopped raining and the sun came out. but I resisted the urge to lie in sun all day doing nothing and typed.

7.30 p.m. I’ve just  ran around the gite, shouting “I did it.” Fell over my trousers which are now so loose on me they slid down over my hips. Cheered again. Double bonus – the first draft of the book is written and I’ve lost weight Yay!

*****

I would like to add that Last Lullaby has been through a strict editing process since that first draft and at the time of writing this post, still has to undergo a final proof check, but I’m very happy with the result and early reviews are extraordinarily good.

So if you fancy shutting yourself away, avoid sleeping, eating and washing for an entire week, then you too will be able to write a book in seven days. Bonne chance!

*****

ARC reviewers are giving a massive thumbs up to Last Lullaby: “awesome” “even better than The Birthday” “I don’t want it to end it’s soooooo good!”

Out 7th December but available to pre-order right now:

Amazon:

Getting Your Book Published Part One #writingtips

Writing Mag

I regularly get emails from new authors asking for advice about getting published. I’m not an expert on the subject but am happy to share my thoughts and experience, so here are a few (I hope helpful) suggestions to assist you.

When I first started out, it was much more difficult to find a publisher. The optimistic wannabe author had to purchase a copy of the latest edition of The Writers Handbook, track down agents or publishers willing to accept unsolicited scripts, then print off hundreds and hundreds of pages, charge down to the local post office, weighed down by the precious manuscripts, and then part with life savings to send them on their way.

Fortunately today it doesn’t cost you a small fortune in printer ink and postage.

So, your script is ready and you don’t want to go the route of self-publishing. You want to find a publisher. Where do you start? This is going to sound odd, but begin by raising your author profile. You can be checking out publishers while you do this. Follow the advice I laid down in my last post and ensure you are actively building an author platform. The connections you make online will prove invaluable and if you join writing groups on Facebook, you will get a great deal of advice.

It’s also a good time to put together your biography. Chances are a publisher will want know something about you, so write down salient points and if you have not yet had anything published, send articles, stories, poems to magazines or websites who might publish them. You might also want to enter a couple of writing competitions. Publishers like to know you are in for the duration and intend making a career out of writing. If you are working on a second script, make sure you have a synopsis for it too and you mention it.

Okay, now you can get your teeth into it and seek out a publisher.

Sign up to and go to author events and get known, not just by potential readers, but other authors in your genre. There are huge crime and romance writing events all over the country. I met my first publisher at the Festival of Romance in Bedford, which I attended with a group of romance writers. My books didn’t technically fit into the romance category and the event was stuffed with Mills & Boon fans, but I made contacts and friends, and as luck would have it, was on a table next to a small publisher called Safkhet. During the long gaps when no visitors came to buy our books, I got chatting to the publisher herself, who at the time published the fabulous Sheryl Browne (who now writes for Bookouture too). As we were about to pack up for the day, the publisher said, ‘You’re the only person who hasn’t tried to pitch a book to me. Do you have anything else you’re working on?’ As it happened, I had a non-fiction I was considering self-pubbing. She asked me to send it to her which I did on my return home. The same afternoon she offered me a book deal. It was the start of my journey.

Author events are great places to pitch your ideas as well as making new contacts. I know of several successful authors who have secured deals thanks to pitching events.

There are also online pitching events such as the one Canleo Publishing (my other publisher) offered on Twitter recently. In this age of digital publishing it is wise to consider these opportunities and keep an eye out for them. Again, if you are building a brand, you ought to follow some publishers, agents and other authors in your genre. Tweets and retweets can be the source of valuable information.

If you would prefer to approach a publisher directly, you MUST (yes, I’ve used the shouty capital letters) read their guidelines before submitting. Be sure they are a) accepting unsolicited scripts (that is from authors not agents) and b) they are looking for books in your genre.

Search engines will provide all the information you need to find a publisher. Be sure you choose a publishing house you feel comfortable with. Don’t be tempted to go to a small publishing house because you think you’ll stand more chance with them. They are often the ones who close their doors. Check out the authors they already represent and maybe even contact one or two of them on Twitter or FB to ask what their experience has been like.

Once you’ve chosen a publisher, go to the submissions page on their website. Some sites ask for a synopsis and three chapters, others for a five word summary and 10,000 words, or even the full manuscript. Whatever they request, send it in. You might find yourself having to submit the information onto an online form on their website, in which case, plan your words carefully beforehand on a Word document or equivalent, so you don’t send in something full of errors.

Writing Mag coverAs soon as you’ve submitted to a publisher you should get an automated email from them, letting you know how long you can expect to wait for a response. It can take months! It is a frustrating and angst-ridden time but please wait it out and once again, work on social media, your website or your blog, or write something else. In fact, it’s a very good time to submit short stories to competitions in magazines so you can get some writing kudos.

Some may disagree, but I don’t hold with applying to a whole bunch of publishing houses at the same time. Try one or two at most. Editors in one company do actually talk to other editors in another, so they will probably soon find out you’ve submitted to every publishing house possible and that won’t work in your favour.

If you are sending a covering letter or email, you must give a publisher clear reason to consider your work. Tell them why you would like them to publish it? Have you heard about them from a fellow author? (Good – recommendations help.) Are they the best digital publishing house for your genre? Don’t go overboard though.

If you haven’t heard back within the period of time they stated on the website or email, then don’t be afraid to ask if they’ve got to your submission yet. However, don’t leap in a couple of weeks after you sent it. You will have to exercise patience.

SUMMARY:

  1. Make sure you have a brief but interesting letter about yourself and your publications so far. If you haven’t yet got any works published, write articles for blogs/magazine/papers – anything to show you can write and be able to mention them in your covering letter. Also send work off to one or two writing competitions such as those in the Writing Magazine.
  2. Choose one or two publishers you feel would be willing to publish your work.
  3. Apply and adhere to their guidelines. Ensure your forms are correctly filled in and your covering letter  (if they request one) is not too long.
  4. Be patient. I don’t know how many times I say this to writers but it really is a game of patience. The most successful writers are those who have a long game plan and keep building up their portfolio of work.
  5. Put together a biography, a photo of you, a list of works you’ve written, awards you’ve received, anything else relevant that a publisher might require.

I’ll expand on all of this at a later date but for now – good luck.