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OMG! My jaw is dangling. #TheDare

I know… bit of a weird title but that is pretty much what happened. There’s no doubt that  after months of writing and editing, one of the highlights is to see the cover for the first time and for those in the know, I am bat-shit crazy about the first two in the DI Natalie Ward series. Both were accompanied by noisy squeals and yelps of delight as I downloaded them and poor Mr Grumpy found my phone shoved up against his face – even when he was trying to fix the car – with me squeaking, ‘Look, isn’t it fab?’

When the cover for THE DARE arrived, I was balanced on my stability ball on a video call to Kim Nash, our PR extraordinaire, discussing publicity for the book’s release in April. She stopped speaking in mid-sentence then said … ‘Check your email.’

‘What? Now?’

‘Yes… go on… check it?’

I attempted to navigate from the video screen to my email account. I’m not very good with technical stuff and I lost Kim completely when suddenly the screen filled with the new cover.

My jaw dropped and stayed dangling for the longest minute. I think I said something along the lines of, ‘Holy cow… oh my… oh my.. oh… It’s phenomenal! Oh… my lord… it’s gorgeous!’ and then went slightly ballistic, bouncing up and down on my ball and performing a weird victory dance that involved a sort of heavy metal head banging ritual and pogoing.

Kim’s voice penetrated my manic activity .’You like it?’ I’d momentarily completely forgotten she was hanging on to hear my reaction.

I found the appropriate key on my keyboard to make the cover disappear and bring her back into view on my screen. ‘It’s fantastic,’ I replied, flattening my hair that had become dishevelled in the mad outburst.

‘I’m just going to email Lydia (my editor) with your reaction,’ she replied.

‘Yes… tell her I liked it.’

‘I can do better than that. I videoed the whole thing. I’m just going to send it to her…’

‘NO!’

‘…Now… Ha! Done!’

She played back the video so I could see what I looked like – a mixture of Animal from the Muppets and a crazed Tigger from ‘Winnie the Pooh’. Embarrassing. Deeply embarrassing.

It is an incredibly exciting moment when you see your cover for the first time, but next time, I’m going to make sure I’m locked away in my garret and no one can observe my reaction.

Suffice to say, the video has been deleted and Kim has gone on holiday with the payment I made. (LOL)

So… what caused such a lunacy?

This….

dare 2-2

It’s pretty stunning, isn’t it?

You can pre-order the book now and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. 

http://geni.us/B07N3WYYLDCover 

How a Celebrity Pug Dog Stole My Book #pugs @canelo_co

Biggie Smalls.pngMy new release, WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE is out in 3 weeks. It’s a brand new romantic comedy that I can’t wait to unleash onto my readers.

I loved writing it – every single word, every character and every silly scene. I loved researching for it – getting onto gameshows (even though I felt a right idiot on some of them), travelling around France, collecting information about the country, and I even loved lying awake at night, conjuring up crazy games fit for It’s A Knockout and a gameshow that would be a delightful mixture of Big Brother meets Love Island meets I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

I wanted my readers to laugh uproariously at the antics in it and in the parts, shed tears and come away from the book uplifted and feeling that life is good. What I didn’t anticipate was for everyone to fall for a lesser character – a pug dog called Biggie Smalls!

Biggie has not won over every reader who received an ARC but my publishers Canelo, who were so enamoured by him, they had stickers featuring him made especially for a giveaway.

The idea of a media star pug came from an article about owners and their pugs. The feature showed the dogs dressed in various outrageous outfits and I wondered what it would be like to own a dog dressed like the notorious rapper, Biggie Smalls.

Biggie doesn’t play a huge role in What Happens in France but my goodness, he has stolen the show to a large extent. Even those who are not ‘dog people’ have been emailing me to say how much they like him.

It seems that in order to sell more books, I’m going to have to buy a real -life pug and dress him up in COOGIE jumpers and jewellery and parade him around bookstores because no matter how good the book is, and regardless of how much readers enjoy it… they’ll all remember it as the book about Biggie Smalls – the media star dog!

 

WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE  OUT 28TH JANUARY

“This delightful read is done with excellent pacing, thus showcasing the marvelous talents of this prolific author.” Robin Reads

“Wow, wow and double wow….What a fantastic, fun and beautifully written book this was”

 WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE is available to pre-order now for just £1.99 click HERE 

Video made by Inky Covers.

 

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:

Are You a Writer? #amwriting

cropped-the-birthday-fb-header.jpegIt’s less than two weeks before my new thriller THE BIRTHDAY the first in the DI Natalie Ward series hits the shelves. This will be my 15th book to be published and you’d think by now, I’d find this whole publication thing a breeze. Not so. Last night, I woke in a fearful panic that the new book would bomb and people would hate it. Mr Grumpy, my other half, has begun the whole eye-rolling routine that he usually performs around this time when I start whittering on publication day. He is not a writer and he doesn’t understand the see-saw of emotions that flood my body. He pulls a face when I mention chart positions and cowers behind his paper when I screech in delight at a good review. I can’t help it. This is who I am. I am a writer.

This morning, I reasoned it was normal to feel this way, after all, I am a writer and every book has a phenomenal amount of effort poured into it: I’ve laboured over every sentence; lived each character’s life to the point where they are real to me, and I have worked solidly – day and night, for months, writing, rewriting, editing, editing again, copy-editing, proofreading and reading the entire script one last time, to the point where I’ve been utterly sick of the sight of the darn thing. From inception to this moment has taken six months of gruelling effort – of ignoring my family, of ignoring my own needs, to get it to this point and so, it’s only natural I’m going be concerned. I am a writer. We are always worried about what others think of our work.

As publication day creeps ever nearer, I know it’ll get worse. There’ll be a familiar mixture of anxiety, panic and excitement and I’ll not sleep the night before the big day, and that day will be filled with euphoria and at the same time, the desire to burst into tears because I am a writer. Unless you’re a writer, you won’t really ‘get’ what I mean.

Mr Grumpy doesn’t get it – not at all. ‘It’s only a book,’ he grumbles. I look dismayed. ‘It’s more than a book! I feel like I’ve been giving birth to this book for six months.’ He ignores me. He’s heard it too many times before. I skulk away, tail between my legs and write a murderous plot in which an unfeeling husband is brutally murdered, because I am a writer.

beach-motivation-ocean-261630So, what will this writer do to celebrate the release of her 15th book? Have a party? Drink champagne? Go out for a celebratory meal? Alas, none of those things. I am a writer and as such I have nobody to celebrate with. My friends are in the main, online friends because I am a writer, I spend days alone in my office, living in fictitious world populated by characters of my own imagination, reliving imaginary conversations with them. Most of this forthcoming publication day will be spent on social media, hunting out reviews and thanking people and sharing posts, and of course, I’ll be constantly refreshing my Amazon page to see if my new book baby is climbing the charts, cheering when it rises a few places and sobbing when it moves no further or tumbles. Why? Because I am a writer – a self-doubting, confidence-lacking writer who will be crossing her fingers and hoping… praying… yearning for success.

In between checking social media and panicking because my book isn’t soaring up the charts, I’ll eat bags of chocolate-covered honeycomb dips and drink endless cups of herbal tea, and all the while I’ll continue work on the 3rd in the Natalie Ward series which will be my 20th book. Yes, I am currently writing my 20th book and that can only mean one thing – I have another 5 of these publication days to get through before that one will be ready.

Why do I do it?

Because…

I am a writer.

Now, pass me the gin!

*******

THE BIRTHDAY – An absolutely gripping crime thriller (Detective Natalie Ward Book 1)

OUT 27th SEPTEMBER

Order your copy for ONLY 99p by clicking the link HERE

One hot summer’s afternoon, five-year-old Ava Sawyer went to a party. She never came home…

When five-year-old Ava Sawyer goes missing from a birthday party at a local garden centre, the police are bewildered by the lack of leads. That is until two years later, when Ava’s body is found and another little girl, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. Audrey also attended that party …

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward. A mother of two teenagers, this case chills her to the bone, and is a disturbing reminder of the last job she worked on. One that still keeps her awake at night…

Natalie soon discovers that Ava’s mother has some worrying gaps in her alibi and as she digs deeper, she’s sure Ava’s father is not telling the full story. And what did the owner of the garden centre Elsa see that day? Something that she’s not telling Natalie …

Just as Natalie is facing up to the grim possibility that Ava and Audrey were killed by someone close to home, another little girl from the party doesn’t come home from her ballet lesson. Can Natalie find a way to stop this killer before more innocent lives are taken?

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.

Readers are going crazy for The Birthday:

Absolutely stunning!… wow it blew me away. Totally my favourite book so far of 2018… I loved everything about it… A great start to a new series that I am going to love. I’m already wishing I could have the next book!… Amazing… 5 stars, although it is a shame I can’t give it more, it’s easily worth a 7. Buy it, you won’t regret it!Bonnie’s Book Talk, 5 stars

Everything Carol Wyer touches turns to gold. She most definitely knows how to write an addictive and tense page-turner and this one is no different. Compelling from the first page, this will have you hooked in a heartbeat.’ Novel Deelights, 5 stars

‘Omg!! My heart is pounding so hard! I have just finished reading The Birthday and I am floored! This is the first in a new series from Carol Wyer, featuring DI Natalie Ward and her team. What a way to start! Speedy, sharp, heart stopping and engaging; this is a series I am definitely looking forward to!TishyLou, 5 stars

A rollocking rollercoaster ride … dark, twisty and wonderfully gripping’ Minimac Reviews

‘This could be something special… This book truly is excellent… Heart-thumpingly good… A well-paced, heart-wrenching, pulse racing, edge-of-your-seat kind of book and a crime fighting team who you can genuinely root for… look no further as this could genuinely be your next favourite read. I tore through it.’ Jen Med’s Book Reviews, 5 stars

‘What a twist! …I read this book in a day!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

An exciting new series… Excellent character development… full of surprising twists and turns. This was a truly thrilling book… chilling… It certainly was no average read… I read The Birthday so fast that I was actually surprised… Excellent pacingsuperb writing.’Robin Loves Reading, 5 stars

Wyer easily surpassed all my expectations, creating a dynamic lead character that is every bit as enthralling as the beloved DI Carter… I could barely breathe as they rushed to find and arrest the killer… Sure to be another skilfully-crafted series… intense, chilling, and the very definition of unputdownable… A must-read.The Geeky Bibliophile, 5 stars

**********

Do Giveaways Help Promote Books? #giveaway #writingadvice

Birthday promo 3I often see tweets “#RT for a #Giveaway” or similar, scrolling through my Twitter feed. It seems every day, authors are eagerly offering not just signed copies of their books, but other goodies to boost sales, sometimes even huge hampers of gifts, from £100 Amazon vouchers to promises of putting winner’s names into the next novel.

Most of us will have tried this. We’ve offered books, purchased out of our own pockets. We’ve signed them and posted them to far-flung places, again at our own cost, to those fortunate enough to win. Yet, how much does a giveaway influence a book’s performance?

We’d love to believe offering a signed copy of a book will garner interest in it, and those unlucky enough not to win your book will race off instead to purchase it.

Websites like Goodreads would also have you believe it is imperative to offer free books and run a giveaway campaign several weeks ahead of release. Some virtual book tour companies also advise you to offer free copies of your book to run alongside reviews, and bombard you with statistics of how many people read and respond to such posts.

Do giveaways sell more books?

After numerous giveaways held on various websites, I have had mixed results. Goodreads campaigns yielded no increase in sales, nor did I have much success offering giveaways on virtual tours or Rafflecopter prizes on blogs.

This might have been due to the timing or poor promotion on my part or simply not doing it properly,  but if you are considering doing a giveaway you should remember that a lot of people you attract are simply looking for freebies. They might or might not even read or review your book. They could well tell their friends how great it is, but the reality is you will spend a lot of your hard-earned money on promoting and the financial rewards are unlikely to outweigh the cost.

Are giveaways pointless?

In brief – no. They are a terrific marketing tool and success is not always based on number of book sales.  Much depends on your expectations. Gear your giveaway to create a social buzz, gain more followers on your social media platforms and increase your email or newsletter list, and all of those will eventually lead to sales. You are playing a long game and building up your author platform.

If you get your promo right, your name and book will get massive exposure, which is again great news. I learned recently, a reader needs to hear of and see a book about seven times before they click to buy. A promotion will increase those chances.

The key to a giveaway is to decide what you want out of it. If you are creating a name for yourself then they are worthwhile. If you are hoping for an immediate increase in book sales, be prepared to be disappointed. (Having said which, I know of authors who have had a spike after a big giveaway.)

The Internet is stuffed full of giveaways so target your promotion carefully. You need to be heard and stand out among other giveaways.

Results of recent giveaway.

My new thriller THE BIRTHDAY is due out on September 27th. Pre-sales have been decent but I wanted to raise interest prior to the actual release.

I offered two notebooks (see above) as prizes. I started my campaign Sunday afternoon because that seems to be a time when many people are online. I offered one notebook on Twitter for merely following me and retweeting. I offered a second book using my Facebook page for anyone sharing my post and commenting.

Given my goal was purely to raise awareness of the forthcoming release, I was pleased with the results.

My Facebook page post reached 1011 people and was shared 124 times.  The Twitter post received 2,080 impressions and was shared 104 times. In total, 3091 people saw the post and are aware of my book. I’m pretty happy with that. I can’t say if any will convert into sales but for now I’m satisfied to know THE BIRTHDAY has been paraded in front of these people and the icing on the cake is that before I ran the giveaway yesterday at 2 p.m. THE BIRTHDAY was at #630 in the UK Amazon charts. By 8 p.m. it had risen 250 positions to #380.

The giveaway runs until Thursday so you have time to win one of these fabulous notebooks. If you’d like to do so, pop along to my Twitter page and retweet the link here or my Facebook author page which you can find by clicking here

A Writer’s Life #writing #inspiration

LGL RABBITMy mother always knew she’d die of cancer – that or a heart attack. She’d been a heavy smoker since she was 18 and I mean heavy. At one stage she was smoking over 60 cigarettes a day.

It was no surprise when, after a bout of pneumonia, doctors found the tell-tale signs on a chest X-ray and diagnosed stage four lung cancer. The surprise was she was already 81 years old and had outlived my father by almost fifteen years.

I raced down from Staffordshire to Hampshire to find her in good spirits. The doctors had told her she had a few weeks left or maybe a couple of months, and she shrugged at the news. “I’ve had a good life. I’m fine about it. I’m ready to go,” she said.

She was ready to depart this life until she found out I was writing a thriller. My mother was a huge reader and although she’d read and enjoyed my comedies to date, especially the early ones where she’d been the inspiration for Amanda Wilson’s partying mother, the thought I was writing a thriller – her favourite genre – made her eyes light up. “Tell me about it,” she said, patting the settee next to her. I did. I was setting the book part in Staffordshire and part in Hampshire where I’d spent many years. Her eyes shone as we discussed the places I mentioned, each bringing back happy memories. ‘Tell me more when you visit next time,’ she said, as she settled down for the night. “I want to read this book of yours. When will it be published?”

“January 2017,” I replied.

‘I’ll try and make it.”

Days turned into weeks. I would travel down to Farnborough by train, go through the book with my mother and we’d reminisce. Each evening, I would stay at a nearby hotel because she didn’t want me to hear her coughing all night, and I would type for several hours, sometimes all night, ideas fresh in my mind from talking to Mum and emotion running high as I worried about her.

Weeks turned to months. “I don’t think I have cancer at all,” she’d say, dressed in her best blouse and lips painted fuchsia pink. “I feel fine.” She seemed well although she was losing weight. I took her out for her 82nd birthday and we drank wine. “I haven’t had wine for months,” she said, with glee. Back home she insisted I read some of the draft to the book. I never normally read my drafts to anyone but I did. “I like Robyn Carter,” she said. “She has guts. She’s a good character.”

In brief, my mother became my supporter for what was to become LITTLE GIRL LOST. She listened to each idea, chapter, and characterisation and praised or suggested alterations.

The month I was due to submit the script – my first ever thriller, I was working flat out day and night. Travelling to and from Farnborough and lack of sleep was taking its toll on my own health. Anxiety at what was to come, ate at me. Mum, however, was in good form, determined she was going to Cyprus in September to visit friends as she did every year, and was trying to get clearance from the doctor to fly.

The first week of August she wasn’t too well. She sounded tired and vague. I said I’d catch a train and visit her. ‘No. Finish that book. I want to read it,’ she said. ‘I’m fine.’

I went anyway and it was clear she wouldn’t be able to go to Cyprus. She’d taken a turn for the worst. She was glassy-eyed as I talked to her and not really listening. When I stood to leave, with promises I’d be down again the following week. She shook her head. ‘No. Don’t come down. I’m too tired for visitors. I want to read your book. It sounds wonderful. Finish it.’

By now, the book was behind schedule and I’d missed my deadline. I had to get it to my editor. I typed well into each night, changing, rewriting, remembering what Mum and I had talked about. Fuelled by medication and emotion, I poured my heart and soul into every word.

August 23rd 2016, at 4.30 p.m. I pressed the send button. My manuscript had gone. I booked a ticket to travel to Farnborough for that weekend. Fifteen minutes later I received a call to say my mother had just passed away.

It seems too great a coincidence to me that she hung on until the very day LITTLE GIRL LOST was submitted. Not even the same day but only a quarter of an hour after I pressed the send button. Maybe I read too much into it all, but I see my mother as the book’s good luck charm. It was the book that made me a name. It was the book that soared up the Amazon charts and brought me success and it is the book that will forever be the book I wrote for my mother.

* * * * *

LITTLE GIRL LOST became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon UK charts #9 best audiobook, a top ten best-seller in Pocket Shop bookshops, and was a top 150 best-seller in USA Today charts.