Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Digital Publishing Revolution

I’d like to pretend that I’m a visionary. That I predicted the explosive impact that digital publishing has had on the reading public and was in on the ground floor. If only!  Sadly, I can’t bring myself to lie.

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been oblivious to the world because I’ve had my nose buried in a book, (the type that trees died for). That’s why, when I resumed my career as an author—no, make that, tried to start the career I’d always wanted to forge but never had time to explore—I went down the traditional publishing route. Against all the odds, my first effort at a Regency romance was taken up by a small London publishing house. As you can probably imagine, I was euphoric, and absolutely convinced I was the next Jane Austen. Nothing would stop me now.

Except, of course, that it did. Four more Regencies were sold to the same house but the sales were negligible. Minimum wage? I wish! Still, at least I’d learned one thing. I wrote books that professional publishers were interested in buying. That had to mean something, right? But the whole process was so damned frustrating. Hurry up and wait is the name of the publishing game. You rush to get a book finished, submit it and then wait months, often for a form rejection no one bothers to sign. There had to be a better way.

What about this digital business? It seemed to be taking off and, from what I’d heard the wait times were much shorter. And that, as they say, was that. I’ve had a love affair with e-books ever since and now have over twenty of them with my name on the cover.   

I’m fortunate enough to be with Carina Press, who publish my historicals and a series of marine crime mysteries. We’ve had boats for years and I never waste an experience.

The Hunter Files feature my youngish retired detective, Charlie Hunter, who lives aboard his trawler yacht in Brighton Marine, England and just wants to be left alone. Except it doesn’t quite work out that way and he gets dragged back into his cold cases, simply because he can’t say no. Risky Business, follows on the heels of Unfinished Business. Once again Carina artists have come up with an awesome cover. What do you think of it?

The recurring theme in these books is Charlie’s quest to find answers for the senseless murder of his mother twenty years previously. It’s what made him give up a promising career as a jazz musician and join the police force instead. At last he seems to be getting somewhere—at least that’s what he thinks at the end of Unfinished Business. Risky Business plunges him into the murky world of fixed dog racing. Cleo Kendall asks for his help, convinced that her father, who's serving a life sentence for murder, isn't guilty. Everyone thinks the case is closed. Charlie doesn't agree, especially when his investigation points towards his difficult stepbrother, who may be involved with his mother's murder and Cleo's family.

With the detective chief inspector watching his every move, Charlie delves deeper and deeper into dangerous territory. But someone doesn't want Charlie getting to the bottom of this case--ever. Fighting against the bad guys, Charlie unearths more clues about his mother’s demise, which strike much closer to home.

And, come March, we have the third and final in the trilogy to look forward to, Lethal Business.


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Release day for Forgotten Heiress

I was fortunate enough to grow up on the Isle of Wight in Southern England, a stone’s throw from Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s island retreat. Carisbrooke Castle, where Charles 1st was imprisoned before being taken to London to have his head chopped off is just five miles away and we have more castles, ancient ruins and stately homes than you can shake a stick at.

We took them for granted but I think that’s when my love affair with history started—well then and when I first read Jane Austen and desperately wanted to be Lizzie Bennet! I kind of absorbed the historical vibes like osmosis and that was that. I love the idea of men in tight breeches with impeccable manners, shedding both the moment the bedroom door closes!

However, I digress. My latest regency romance, Forgotten Heiress, was released as an e-book by Samhain today.  This one tackles the class society, so prevalent in Regency times. My own childhood home was modest; the equivalent of poor housing in Regency times, I guess, and yet was so close to all that Victorian opulence. It struck me as incongruous when I was old enough to think about it and opened my eyes to the huge divide between the haves and have-nots. 

My heroine is the illegitimate daughter of a banker and so, although she has a huge dowry, she knows society’s doors will remain firmly closed to her. When the heir to a dukedom takes an interest in her, she throws caution to the wind and decides to have some fun. Her neighbour, Harry Benson-Smythe, is suspicious at the upturn in her fortunes and vows to rescue Eloise from her own folly. He loves her feisty, free-spirited attitude to life but even if he manages to get rid of her aristocratic admirer, he’s already engaged to a far more suitable lady, so there can never be a happy ending for Harry and Eloise, can there…

I’m giving a copy of Forbidden Heiress away. Just leave a comment here and along with your contact details, letting me know what you most enjoy about Regency romance.
Good luck!

Forbidden Heiress from Samhain Publishing and all e-retailers price $3.85

Read more about me and my books on my website


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Why Literary Agents Can Be Bad for your Health

When I first started in this novelist game, a literary agent was a necessity if you wanted to make the big time. Unfortunately, securing the services of one is easier said than done. Perhaps that why, when one took an interest in my work, I celebrated by hurling myself headfirst down the stairs, breaking my fall when my head hit the corner of the wall. All that blood! I still have a dent in the top of my skull where they stitched it up and a permanent scar on my shin where it bashed against the edge of each marble step as I made my inelegant descent.

Undaunted I happily accepted the agent’s invitation to join him for lunch in London and discuss the direction of my work. I was in Spain and it’s only a short flight. Still, best go the day before. If the flight was delayed and made me late for lunch, it would look unprofessional, right?

So, I was in London with a day to kill and all those lovely shops nearby. I’d only travelled with hand luggage, having carefully selected the outfit to wear to the ‘lunch of the century’. The moment I tried it on again I decided it was all wrong. Flash back to all those shops.

Suffice it to say that my hand luggage weight allowance was now a distant memory. I changed three times before setting out for the lunch. Someone as insecure as I am tends to use clothing as a confidence booster and I was convinced that if I didn’t get it right, the agent wouldn’t take me on.

As satisfied with the way I looked as I was ever going to be, I set off on the tube, well ahead of time. Wouldn’t do to be late! But as soon as I left the hotel, I was again full of doubt. Had I dressed too young? Did I look like mutton? As I left the tube a young guy came up to me and said he thought that for an older lady I looked real cool. Was I insulted by the older lady bit? Not on your life. He'd told me exactly what I needed to hear!

Lunch went really well after that. I phoned my better half as soon as it was over and told him about the incident on the tube. You need to understand that my significant other is very security conscious and suspicious by nature.

“I’m sure you looked lovely,” he said diplomatically.” But did you keep a close hold of your handbag while this guy was chatting you up?”

In case you’re wondering, the agent did take me on but it wasn’t a marriage made in heaven. We couldn’t agree on the best direction for my books to take and parted company shortly thereafter. I never did tell him about the fall and the clothes, so keep it to yourselves.

I embraced ebooks after that and have had all my tomes published. Carina Press and SirenBookStrand, my main two publishers, are fabulous to work with and have taught me a lot about the trade.
Do I have regrets? Well, of course I do. All my books are supposed to be best-sellers, aren’t they? Still, if we novelists didn’t dream, we wouldn’t be very good at what we do.


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

A Changing World

Love it or hate it, the internet has touched all our lives and changed a lot of them beyond recognition. Whether for the better or not, I’ll leave you to decide.

What I do know is that when I started out as a novelist over ten years ago, e-books were in their infancy and publishers still reigned supreme, with agents as their fierce gatekeepers. I managed to get published by a small London house that didn’t require me to have agency representation. They did however dictate what I could and couldn’t write. The publication process was long and laborious, the sales disappointing.

Then the e-revolution came along. It was relatively easy to find hungry e-publishers willing to take your books and the whole process was a damned sight quicker. Downside, you’re expected to do your own promotion and be all over the net. If, like me, you’re a Brit whose mum told you it was bad manners to put yourself forward, that doesn’t come naturally. But the publishers are still king, albeit of the net, and if you don’t do as you’re told you’ll be dropped.

Ha ha, much they know because along came self-publishing. Now I’ve not tried it myself, yet, but it’s certainly making publishers sit up and take notice. Authors have the audacity to write what they want to, not what they’re told to, and worse, it’s actually selling. They seem to know what people want to read. What is the world coming to?

Motivated by this sea-change, I decided to reinvent myself. I’ve always wanted to have a go at erotica and apparently it’s…well, hot right now. I read a few books written by people I know and respect and blinked several times. Blimey, this is ménage stuff. More than one man servicing a single woman? Hmm, lucky girl! I read the publisher’s guidelines and discovered there had to be at least one scene where double, or there were three men involved, triple penetration took place. Okay, don’t panic, how…er, hard can it be? Just work out what goes where – that’s it, slot A into hole B and hey-ho Zara Chase was born.

I’ve now written fourteen erotic novels for SirenBookStrand, including a series featuring shapeshifting hunks. The third in my Impulse series, Jaguars’ Reward has just been released. Don’t you just adore this cover? My alpha shifters have to mate with humans in order to keep their powers going, but it has to be the right human, of course. Hence the guys play amongst themselves until their mate comes along. I had a lot of fun dreaming up things for them to do to each other!

Here’s how Siren describe Jaguars’ Reward.

When alpha jaguars Vadim and Zayd rescue a woman from drowning off the coast of Impulse, they expect just a little gratitude for saving her life. Instead, driven by instincts she’s unable to control, Talia tries to kill them both.

Convinced Talia has been sent by their enemies to infiltrate Impulse, the entire colony is on its guard against attack. But for Vadim and Zayd it’s a defining moment because they sense that Talia’s the mate they’d almost given up on finding. Unfortunately Talia not only has shifter blood herself, disqualifying her as a suitable mate, but has also been taught to hate everything to do with shifters.

Driven by their overwhelming feelings for Talia, Vadim and Zayd risk the security of the entire colony in their quest to possess a woman who can never be theirs, can she…

If this is your sort of thing, check out all my titles at SirenBookStrand or at