Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Meet Suspense Author Lynda Stacey

Author Lynda Stacey is no stranger to my blog and I wouldn't want her to be as we have been online friends for many years (as well as meeting up at writer gatherings). Lynda's writing has taken a new direction in recent years and she now writes suspense. I thought it would be fun to ask Lynda a few questions to see what life has thrown at her since she was last guest on Wendy's Writing Now.

Can you remember where you were and what you were doing when the idea for Keeper of Secrets first came to you?

I certainly do. For my day job, you know, the one that pays the mortgage, I’m a Sales Director and one morning when I arrived at work, my accountant passed me a church magazine. It had an article about the Sand House in it, it showed pictures of the tunnels, of the elephant & his mahout, the original house and of the 17-storey block of flats that now stood above it all. I couldn’t believe that I’d never heard of this Victorian marvel and my first reaction was to go and see it, to physically go down the tunnels and to take in the history that was right there, right below the pavements that I’d played upon as a child.

What three words would you use to describe your novel?

Family, intrigue, murder.

How long did it take you to write?

This book probably took the longest. I normally write a first draft in around six months. But for some reason, this one took around a year. I think it was because I was so close to the subject, too afraid to over ‘tell’ the story. I was also very aware that this was probably the only book I’d ever write that was set in my hometown, so I really wanted to do it justice.

Keeper of Secrets features an archaeological site that’s being excavated. Is it based on somewhere you know or is it fictitious?

It’s a site that was filled with concrete in 1964. The council needed the land to build high-rise
flats and they had to fill the tunnels to give the land the stability it needed. So sad that this site wasn’t kept though. I honestly believe that in any other country it would be preserved as a site of historical importance and we’d still be able to see it.
If anyone would like to see the real Sand House tunnels and their history, here’s the Sand House Charity’s website

What was your favourite chapter to write?

I actually loved the chapters between Cassie and her Aunt Aggie. I loved Aggie’s story, her secret and the fact that she’s always cared for her nieces. There’s also a true love between these two ladies and I really hope that shows in the words.

Describe a typical publication day.

Lol... I’m normally at work. I get up in the morning early. I post as much as I can on social media, I set tweet deck up to shout about the release all day in my absence and then I turn into a Sales Director and I go about business, albeit with bated breath for the whole day.
I must admit though, my mobile is always close to hand. I check it repeatedly and I both love and hate waiting for those first reviews to drop in. Once two or three of them are there, and they’re good... I feel the relief and start to breathe again.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to go on holidays. I have a new found love of cruising. I love to scuba dive and I really enjoy good food. I used to love going for long walks. I live in the countryside and keep saying that I’m going to get another dog to take out with me. Since losing my Springer Spaniel, Bonnie, a few years ago, I still feel a bit lost and love the fun that a dog brings to the house.

What does your family think of your writing?

I’d like to think that they’re proud and probably read the books looking for themselves in the characters. But I wouldn’t do that to them... would I?

Any advice for budding authors?

Don’t stop. Keep writing. Write every day and keep submitting.
It’s all about persistence. The more you write and the more you submit, the better chance you’ll have. Make friends in other authors, they’re the only people who understand what you’re doing and what you’re going through. Authors are great sounding blocks and people who’ll brainstorm with you for hours and hours over coffee and cake.
Finally... believe in yourself.

What next for Lynda Stacey?

I’m currently writing a story set on the east coast, near Filey, called The Consummate Storm. It’s a story of two sisters. Of sticking together through thick and thin and of how the dynamics change when a man comes between them. Especially when that man isn’t all he initially appears to be.


Should some secrets stay buried?

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist. 

But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it. With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes. 
It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …

Buying Links:

Google Books:

A Little About Lynda

Lynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire,
Her own chaotic life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.
Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition.
She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her husband, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for almost 30 years.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @Lyndastacey

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

8 Things I've Learned Since Being Published - Guest Post Vikki Patis

As mentioned in my last post, during the next few weeks I shall be having some great guests on my blog from the psychological thriller genre (the genre I write in). Today's guest is Vikki Patis, an author I got to know this year as we both have novels out with Bookouture. Vikki's always been very generous with her time and has been a great supporter of my own thrillers on social media so I'm delighted she's joined us today on Wendy's Writing Now.

I asked Vikki what things she'd learned since being published and this is what she said...

Next month, my debut novel will have been out for a year. An entire year! Two years ago, I was desperately trying to get the words down, using NaNoWriMo to write over 50k words in a month. And now I’m working on book four, having just signed another contract. Publishing is a whirlwind experience, and sometimes it’s worth sitting back and remembering your journey. When I wrote what would become my debut novel, The Diary, I had no idea whether it would be published, and I certainly had no idea what would come with it. So here are the things I’ve learned in the year since signing my first book deal.

There are so many paths to publication

My first publisher is a digital first publisher, which means they focus more on ebooks. I learned that I would get paperbacks via print on demand, and that audio isn’t always guaranteed. While digital first publishers are becoming increasingly popular (and they work incredibly well), the experience is somewhat different to what I thought of as the ‘traditional’ route – agent, publisher, advance, bookshops, book tour. I’ve learned that there is no ‘right’ way to be published. There are options that work for some and not for others, and contracts will vary.

You (probably) won’t get to choose your book title

This was a real eye opener for me. Titles are in no way my strong point, but I was surprised to discover just how many authors don’t get to choose their titles, and so is everyone else I tell who doesn’t have experience in the publishing world. I explain it like this: everything you see on the outside of a book is done by the publisher. Of course, editors have a huge impact on the writing too, but in general, the title, cover, tagline, and everything to do with marketing, is controlled by the publisher. And that, I have learned, is how it should be. They know what they’re doing, after all.

You still have to promote your own work

Okay, so you don’t have to, but it definitely makes a difference. Writers should focus most of their time on writing, and your publisher should have a marketing plan for your book, but dipping your toe into the scary world of social media can really help your book succeed, and keep your name in the public eye while you furiously write the next one. The lovely and fantastic psychological thriller author Rona Halsall once said to me ‘a tweet a day keeps bankruptcy at bay’. If only it were that simple, but Rona is absolutely right. Do what you can, when you can, to keep your book in the spotlight.

Reviews are the bane of your life

And also the sunshine filtering through the window as you struggle through edits. Negative reviews can be awful, and I remember taking my first ones really hard. It took every ounce of my self-control not to respond to them on Goodreads (which is like the dark, shadowy place you should never enter), and my spirits would sink every day I looked at Netgalley. I’ve since realised that my debut is a bit of a Marmite book. Some readers love it, and really get the meanings behind the story, and others just don’t enjoy it. And you know what? That’s absolutely fine. I don’t like every book I read. I don’t fully get every book I read. You can’t please everyone. That was a hard lesson to learn, but now, negative reviews don’t really bother me (except for when they tag me on social media!). And the positive reviews, or even neutral reviews that really got what you were trying to say, make it all worth it.

Readers are the key

Seems obvious, right? Authors write books for readers. But it isn’t always as straightforward as that. I didn’t write my debut for readers; I wrote it for me. I write because I have to, because I can’t not write. But while editing my second book, my editor urged me to take note of the criticisms from the first book, and to try to mould the story in a different way. I raged against it at first, feeling like I was pandering to others, but then it clicked. Of course I can’t please everyone, but I can take their comments on board and consider them from a logical (not emotional) point of view. Publishing is a business, and although almost every author feels a very close connection with their books, sometimes we need to put our emotions aside and listen to what the readers want.

Your editor is your champion – and your reality check

I don’t have an agent, so I deal directly with my editor. When I first submitted The Diary, I had no idea that I would be in almost constant contact with this person, directing every question to them, and relying on them in a big way. It must be such a huge responsibility, guiding and supporting their authors, excitedly sharing the good news and tentatively breaking the bad. An email from my editor could make or break my day, and it took me a while to learn that you have to take the rough with the smooth, just like with everything else in life. Publishing is a roller coaster, and your editor is your seat belt, on the ride with you while keeping you anchored.

The struggle is real

I don’t think I’ve encountered an author who doesn’t panic over their edits or Amazon rankings. Authors big and small worry about how their books will do, not just in terms of sales (though authors need to eat too!), but also in the eyes of their readers. The last thing we want to do is let our readers down by producing less-than-perfect books, or let our publishers down by not selling enough books, or let ourselves down by being unable to focus and produce more books. And it is so easy to become envious of other authors, of the books that fly to number 1 and stare mockingly at you from every shelf. Writing is a tricky balance, and it can sometimes become unhealthy, both physically and mentally. The why not me mentality is so easy to slip into, wasting time panicking about things beyond your control instead of focusing on the most important thing: writing.

But you’re never alone

So many authors are keen to support you, ready with words of wisdom when you break down over structural edits, thumbs poised to retweet your exciting news, commiserating and holding you up when things don’t go your way. It’s a fabulous community, full of kind, down-to-earth people, and I’m so lucky to be able to consider these wonderful people colleagues and friends. 

Vikki Patis is the author of psychological thrillers The Girl Across the Street and The Diary, published by Bookouture. When she isn't writing, she can usually be found with her head in a book, baking gluten free cakes, or walking in the Hertfordshire countryside.  

Twitter: @PatisVikki 

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Times Are A-changing

I've been thinking about this blog and how over the years since I started it (can you believe it was really 2012?) it's evolved.

When I wrote my first post, I'd made one story sale to a women's magazine. I can still remember how excited I was. I can also remember how determined I was too. I'd made that sale... now I needed to make another.

What I didn't foresee was what an amazing journey I was about to embark on. How exciting it would be and what wonderful friends I'd make along the way. For example, how could I have known that one day the Wendy Clarke who had sold that first story, would become a published author of psychological thrillers and that my debut novel would become a kindle bestseller in several countries.

Wendy's Writing Now has been my companion through all the highs and lows. It's celebrated my achievements - the competition wins, the story sales, the writing of my novels and the eventual publication of them. Its also where I've shared my disappointments and anxieties (because, believe me, there have been many). 

Does anyone remember the 'rejection T-shirt?'

What has always remained the same though are the wonderful guests I've had over the years. Guests who have written in all genres and given my readers a greater insight into their writing lives. Some of these guests have even come back... up to four times in some cases. I hope it's because I've made them feel welcome.

The full list of my guests is in the sidebar... how lucky I've been.

And this leads me to my exciting news. Because it's a genre close to my heart (it's what I read as well as write) the next few months are going to feature guest posts and interviews from some of the fabulous psychological thriller writers who are thrilling their readers at the moment. Some names will be familiar to you, some new... but all will be welcome.

Here are a few of the people who'll be visiting in the next few weeks: Vikki Patis, Lynda Stacey, Louise Mangos, Rona Halsall, Jenny Blackhurst, Nikki Smith, Libby Carpenter and Lesley Cheetham. 

I can't wait!

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Whoop! What She Saw is Finalist in Joan Hessayon Award.

Am I looking rather proud? Well that's because this photograph was taken at the RNA York Tea where I accepted my certificate for being a finalist for the Joan Hessayon Award.

Actually, I feel a bit of a fraud calling myself a finalist because, in reality, everyone who was up for the award was a finalist. Still, it's what it says on my certificate so I'm using it!

So, what is the Joan Hessayon Award? Well, its a competition for a debut author who has had their novel accepted for publication after passing through the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme. 

Each novel submitted on the scheme gets a critique from a published author. When I received mine for What She Saw, it was the confirmation I needed that my book was ready to be submitted to a publisher... Bookouture obviously though so too, as it was published by them in May!

I live on the South Coast and, as most of you will know, I'm not a keen traveller, but my husband very kindly suggested we turn the visit to York into a mini break. I LOVE mini breaks!

Unfortunately, due to lots of holdups on the motorway, the drive up took a lot longer than we'd been expecting. But, when we eventually arrived and saw the lovely Airbnb we'd booked (with it's beautiful garden) we knew it had been worth it. Here's a picture of Bonnie enjoying the sunshine. 

The following afternoon, my husband dropped me off at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall where I collected my name badge and had my photograph taken, along with the other Joan Hessayon contenders. Then all the guests sat down for a delicious afternoon tea. I can't begin to tell you how lovely it was (how did the organisers know they'd picked my favourite sandwiches?).

The good thing was, I could relax and enjoy the afternoon as I didn't think my psychological thriller (with a romance entwined) could stand a chance when competing with the twelve fabulous 'true' romances that had gone through the scheme. Although, a little nervous when the time came to collect my certificate, I was delighted that the judges thought What She Saw 'hooked the reader and kept them wanting to read on'.

The ultimate winner was Lorna Cook, with her novel, The Forgotten Village. Lorna was sitting at my table and it was lovely to meet her for the first time. I can't wait to read her book. 

The next day, my husband and I explored York and also Castle Howard where the original TV series of Brideshead Revisited was filmed. The weekend had been a great success. My novel may not have won, but I had a wonderful time meeting old and new friends and going back to a city I hadn't visited in over thirty years.

You can find out more about me and my Joan Hessayon Award nomination on the RNA website here.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Who Needs Luggage Anyway?

It's been a busy year with the publication on my two novels What She Saw and We Were Sisters (not to mention writing novel three) so my husband and I decided to sneak off for a week in Croatia for some much needed recharging of batteries.

As always, I spent way too long deciding what I should take. Asking myself the usual questions as I looked through my drawers and wardrobe:

What if it's extremely hot?

What if the evenings are chilly?

What if there's a thunderstorm?

What if the place is smarter than I thought?

What if it's scruffier than I thought?

What if I go walking?

What if the tops I've chosen don't go with the bottoms?

What if no one wears long skirts in the evenings?

What if my shorts are too short?

What if my bikini makes me look like mutton dressed as lamb?

As my husband often says... it must be very tiring being me.

So, with half my wardrobe squashed into my medium sized suitcase, and a fraction of my husband's wardrobe folded neatly into his own, we checked our luggage in at Gatwick. Then, in blissful ignorance, we flew to Zadar where we patiently awaited the arrival of said baggage on the carousel.  Some bags came out (not ours). A few more came out (also not ours). We waited some more. The carousel continued to circle... bagless. Then it stopped.

People were starting to look worried but not as worried as when a baggage attendant walked towards us, a frown on his face. Twenty five people's luggage hadn't been loaded onto the plane due to technical problems at Gatwick. We were two of those people!

Desperately, he tried to volley the questions fired at him:

Did he know when we'd get the bags? No. It could be one day, two days or even three days (in the end it was seven).
Why hadn't we been told we were flying without luggage? He didn't know.
What were we supposed to do? Fill in a form with our address in Croatia and (the next day) ring the number he gave us.

My husband and I stared at each other. We had the clothes we were standing in, our phones but no chargers, money, passports, travel documents and our kindles. That was it! I felt panicky. My blood pressure was probably sky high. And that's when I remembered my medicine was in my case!

We were on a three-centre holiday (Plitvice, Primosten and the island of Vis) and had planned on spending the afternoon in Zadar before driving to Plitvice National Park for our first night. Now the rest of our first day would be spent hunting down medicine and shopping (did I mention my husband hates shopping?). Thankfully, a nearby pharmacist sent us to a local ambulance station where a prescription was written for me so task one could be ticked off... but there was still the dreaded shopping. I thought of all my carefully chosen clothes in my case and could have cried, but I had to face facts. What we needed was a list of holiday essentials to get us through the first few days.

Flip flops
A couple of sleeveless tops and T-shirts
Toothbrush and paste
Phone chargers
Sun cream

We found a shopping mall (hurray) but everything was geared for autumn (boo). Eventually, we found a cheap shop that sold basics and we managed to get everything. Incredible, considering how choosy I am at home.

And then we started our holiday. To begin with, it was frustrating not having our own things. It was even more frustrating when the phone number we'd been given wasn't answered, when the link we were sent gave no information and when our bags eventually arrived in Croatia but were sent to the wrong island. But, then something strange happened. After a few days we started to relax. What was more important? The fact that in every photo I was wearing the same colour top... or the stunning scenery? In any case, having less choice made dressing for the day and evening a whole lot easier. When we eventually got our bags back (on our second to last day) I continued to wear the little black Croatian shorts as I'd grown to love them.

So the moral of this story is that in future I will pack my medicine and phone charger in my hand luggage but will also think carefully about what I really need to take with me.

Here are a few photos from my holiday to prove that, despite #luggagegate, we still had a wonderful holiday.

And tomorrow I'm off to York for the RNA Joan Hessayon Awards... now where's that list?

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Paperback Launch at Steyning Bookshop. How Did it Go?

Have you ever had one of those posts that you can't wait to write? Well this is one of them and the reason? I've just had my first ever paperback launch at my local independent bookshop, The Steyning Bookshop. A dream come true.

Proud? You bet!

The bookshop was established in 1984 just three years before I moved to the town from Brighton, heavily pregnant with my first daughter. Being an avid reader, it was one of the first shops I ever went into and I spent many a happy time with my children in the reading area. Once the children had grown up, I continued to visit with my three grandchildren.

Over the thirty years or so I’ve been living here, I’ve been to many author events organised by Sara the owner: several book launches and a number of talks by inspirational authors such as Debbie Howells, Elly Griffiths, Michelle Paver… even the fabulous Mary Berry. What I couldn’t have predicted is that one day I would be having a book launch of my own.

But why was I celebrating the launch of my second novel, rather than my first? The simple reason is that when my debut, What She Saw, was published, I was scared. It was my first novel, I was a new author and I had no idea whether anyone would want to even read it, let alone like it. But to my amazement, What She Saw went on to become a Kindle bestseller not only in the UK but also in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and sales in the three months since I’ve been published have topped 40,000. It was the validation I needed to help me feel I'd earned my right to be standing there with a novel in my hand.

In the weeks leading up to my paperback launch, I'd posted on various Facebook author groups, asking for advice for the evening. How long should my speech be? How many pages should I read from the book? How could I stop myself from panicking? I received a lot of sound advice but one that stood out for me was 'just enjoy yourself'.

The evening started at 7.30 p.m. with guests arriving for nibbles and Prosecco (there was also wine and soft drinks). The bookshop held a maximum of fifty people and that was how many people I had! A wonderful mix of family, friends, writers and representatives from all the local activities I take part in: tap, badminton, ballroom, Pilates and choir. With everyone under strict instructions to arrive at the start, the room quickly filled up and the sound level rose several octaves.

After twenty minutes of socialising, the guests were ushered into a seated area of the bookshop. Sara introduced me and then it was time to ‘do my bit’ (a talk of around eight minutes consisting of a welcome and thank you, a little about my path to publication, a summary of We Were Sisters and bit about the location, as it’s set in the local area). The bookshop had even organised a sound system so I could be heard at the back! Now, having been a teacher, I’ve been used to speaking to large numbers of people but that had been children, not adults. Would I be able to deliver something that wasn’t rambling? Would I stumble and stutter? Not trusting myself not to blank, I wrote my speech down and decided to read it, but once I’d warmed up, I felt confident enough to ad-lib in parts which was liberating.

Next was a seven minute reading from the novel followed by a roving microphone in the audience for questions. And what great questions they were.

The formal part of the evening was over. I could breathe, have a glass of Prosecco, sign some books and relax while my guests ate my fabulous ‘book cover’ cake.

Then, too soon, it was 9 p.m. and the book launch had come to an end. Sara and her husband, Rob had looked after us so well. As the last guest left, I looked around me at the table of my books, the remnants of the cake, the empty Prosecco bottles. A room that had been filled with the support and love of so many people.

The whole event should have been daunting, scary even, but it wasn’t. It was exhilarating. And that was because I’d taken the advice I’d been given and enjoyed every moment of it. But the evening wasn't quite over as I popped over the road to join my friends in the pub to carry on with the celebrations and wet the baby’s head.

You could say, the paperback of We Were Sisters has been well and truly launched!

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Publication Day - The Truth

Two days ago, my second psychological thriller, We Were Sisters, was published and, of course, I'm delighted. Before I was published, I had an image of what publication day would be like: lounging around in silk pjs basking in the glory or drinking champagne in a bubble bath, surrounded by flowers from my well-wishers.

But what is publication day really like?

You really want to know? Well, okay, here it is. Publication Day... the truth (beware... it's not for the faint-hearted!).

Diary of a Publication Day

5.15 a.m.  Wake up. Check social media in case my social media manager, Noelle, has also woken early and decided to plaster news of my publication across the sites (even though it doesn't go 'live' until 7.15 p.m.). She hasn't.

6.15 a.m.  Repeat.

6.30 a.m. Wonder why husband is still asleep. Why isn't he up making me a celebratory cup of tea?

7.10 a.m. Desperate for tea but scared to get up unless I miss something.

7.15 a.m. Check Amazon. Why does my novel still say 'pre-order'? Check phone and see that my clock is a minute fast.

7.15 a.m. (again) We Were Sisters has been published. Ta da! Yippee! Wait for the euphoria to hit. It doesn't.

7.16 a.m. My publisher puts up posts on Facebook and Twitter. Share and re-tweet.

7.17 a.m. Decide that this time round I will won't thank everyone personally for their messages of congratulations. A 'like' will suffice. It's my day, I shall relax and enjoy it.

7.18 a.m. Start to thank everyone personally for their messages of congratulations.

7.19 a.m. Repeat.

7.20 a.m. Repeat.

8.00 a.m. Check Amazon rankings. Have I hit the #1 spot yet? They haven't moved.

8.01 a.m. Rankings must be broken. Refresh page. No change.

8.05 a.m. Check my first Amazon review. It's a disappointing 3*. But, never mind another one comes in... it's also 3*.

8.10 a.m. Decide that everyone hates me and my book.

8.12 a.m. Check reviews again. This one loves it. Decide they're only being kind.

8.20 a.m. Continue to re-tweet, share and thank.

8.30 a.m. Repeat.

8.50 a.m. Repeat.

8.45 a.m. Wonder if there's another way of saying 'thank you'.

8.50 a.m. Consider putting merci beaucoup then decide it's pretentious. Anyway, I'm not French.

9.00 a.m. Get out thesaurus.

10.00 a.m. Re-tweet, share, thank.

11.00 a.m. Repeat.

11.15 a.m. Repeat.

12.00 a.m. Start to feel a bit stir crazy. The walls are closing in. Wish I had arranged to have celebratory lunch with writing buddy Tracy like last time.

12.10 a.m. Decide I could open the celebratory bottle of Prosecco my husband's bought me before remembering he hasn't.

12.15 a.m. Re-tweet, share, thank.

12.20 a.m. Repeat.

12.30 a.m. Repeat.

1.00 p.m. Feel hungry but am scared to make a sandwich in case I miss something.

1.30 p.m. Run to fridge, grab a piece of cheese and two tomatoes. Check phone to see if I've missed anything. I haven't.

1.40 p.m. Check Amazon reviews. Someone has entitled their review 'Gripping Thriller'. Decide my book is probably the best ever written.

1.45 p.m. Check again. Someone had entitled their review 'Predictable'. Decide my novel is the worst ever written and everyone hates me.

2.00 p.m. Re-tweet, share, thank.

2.10 p.m. Repeat.

2.20 p.m. Repeat.

2.30 p.m. Start to feel I've got caught up in Groundhog Day. Google it because I can't remember the lead actor's name.

2.31 p.m. Click back onto Amazon in case I've missed something. I haven't.

2.32 p.m. Start talking to myself. Wonder if I'm going mad.

2.33 p.m Message writing friend Liz. Tell her I think I'm going mad and make her go for a walk by the sea.

3.00 p.m.  Walk helps. Tell Liz book is rubbish and everyone hates me.

3.10 p.m. Resist urge to check Amazon ranking.

3.20 p.m. Resist urge to check Amazon ranking.

3.30 p.m. Resist urge to check Amazon ranking.

3.40 p.m. Miss what Liz has just said to me as I'm too busy resisting the urge to check Amazon ranking.

3.50 p.m. Feel better after walk. Check Amazon ranking. It hasn't moved. Feel worse.

4.00 p.m. Come home to find huge tin of hand-baked biscuits and cupcakes from my publisher Bookouture.

4.10 p.m. Check Amazon ranking. It's moved up. Have a couple of celebratory cakes.

4.15 p.m. Check ranking. It the same. Have a couple of commiseratory cakes.

4.20 p.m. Wonder if eating four cupcakes, a chocolate chip cookie and a chocolate muffin might have have been greedy.

4.25 p.m. Feel sick.

4.30 p.m. Re-tweet, share, thank.

4.40 p.m. Repeat.

4.50: p.m. Repeat.

5.00 p.m. Repeat.

5.30 p.m. Think I might have finger strain from the re-tweets and thanks. Wonder if I should see the doctor. Decide I can't. She'd only laugh at me and, in any case, if I leave the house I might miss something.

6.00 p.m. Go to FitSteps. Resist urge to check Amazon Ranking.

6.20 p.m. Between rumba and jive check Amazon ranking.

6.21 p.m. Feel bad for checking.

6.30 p.m. Check again.

7.30 p.m. Wait for husband to come home. Wonder how big the celebratory bouquet will be.

7.45 p.m. Husband comes home. Pretend not to care that there's no bouquet.

8.00 p.m. Go for celebratory meal. Drink Prosecco. Wonder why my fingers are stiff when I pick up my glass.

9.00 p.m. Feel a sense of achievement at not having felt the urge to look at my phone.

10.00 p.m. Fall into bed. Smile because I've realised something. I've had another book published... and it's a good feeling.

If you'd like to read the novel that caused me to eat my weight in cupcakes, you can buy it from 
Amazon here. And it's only 99p!

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

What She Saw Makes Not The Booker 2019 Longlist!

I am absolutely delighted to tell you that my debut psychological thriller, What She Saw has made the Guardian's 'Not the Booker' prize longlist! Can you believe it... my little book!

Huge thanks to Tracy Fells for nominating me.

So what is this prize and why am I so excited? Well, it was launched by The Guardian in 2009 as a way of allowing the public to decide what novels are the year's winners rather than a judging panel made up of industry experts. A great idea don't you think? The longlist this year is made up of around 170 books with some big names on it, such as Ian McEwan and Kate Atkinson, but wouldn't it be lovely if a new writer made the shortlist of three?

... and wouldn't it be lovely if that author was me?!

That's where you come in. If you read and loved What She Saw, I'd be hugely grateful if you voted for it. All you have to do is click on the link below, and vote in the 'comments' section below the list of authors. You have to vote for two books from the list and write a short review of your favourite. Your comment must begin with the word VOTE. Simples.

Now, of course, I have no expectations of making the shortlist but to see people voting for What She Saw would be absolutely wonderful. Reading the Not The Booker review will hopefully encourage others to buy and enjoy it too.

If you'd like to support me, the link to vote is here

Thank you!

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Let's Celebrate

I'd like you all to share a glass of bubbly with me because I'm delighted to tell you... I've signed another two-book deal with my publisher Bookouture!

This means that I will have another two psychological thrillers published in 2020. One in May and the other in December. I've been in discussions for the last month and keeping quiet has been the hardest thing to do when what I've really wanted to do is shout it from the rooftops.

This is what the commissioning editor said in her announcement. I'm so proud! 

This novel-writing lark has been quite a journey, a steep learning curve with many ups and downs along the way, but it's been exciting and to be continuing on my new path is something definitely worth celebrating. I've already started my next novel and it's great to get to know new characters. Not that I've forgotten the old ones. I'm delighted that What She Saw is still receiving great reviews (currently 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon) and is still holding its own in the kindle charts. 

Exciting things are also happening with my second novel, We Were Sisters, as it's now available to pre-order, I can't wait until publication day on August 8th.

If you'd like to have a digital copy wing it's way to you on publication day, you can order it here

I'm delighted that I'm sharing this publication date with my favourite author, Lisa Jewell. What great company to be in!

Luckily, the announcement of my new signing came just a day before I went to my first publisher's summer party in London, which meant I didn't have to keep things quiet. I went along with writing friend and fellow Bookouture author, Liz Eeles, who kindly allowed me to take the bus rather than brave the tube.

It was a great party. So many authors to try and recognise from their social media pictures,
so many faces to match to books, so many people's names to forget. Who cares if it's now all a blur... everyone was so friendly and didn't seem to mind if I introduced myself to them twice! I also got to catch up with my lovely editor, Jen, and had the chance to quiz other members of the Bookouture team about their roles. I had no idea so much went on behind the scenes.

Maybe it might have been better if my first question to Oliver Rhodes, Bookouture's founder, hadn't been, 'So, what do you write?' or thrown two canapes on the floor but I came home exhausted and proud that my hard work has paid off and I am now part of this great family.

It's been a long and hard slog to get here but I think my fortunes finally turned when I won the Flash500 Novel Competition. If you fancy reading more about what happened after my win, you can pop over to Loraine Mace's blog and have a read.

It's back to my work in progress now but I'd just like to say one last word.


Saturday, 8 June 2019

What She Saw Tours the Lake District

My husband and I have just come back from a holiday in our favourite part of England... The Lake District.

It's the seventh holiday we've had there and, whatever the weather, we just love it. As you can see from the photograph below, that's just as well! (Luckily we had enough breaks in the rain to do many lovely walks).

This year's visit was a special one and those of you who have been following my writing journey will know why. Yes, in May, my psychological thriller, What She Saw, was published by Bookouture and The Lake District was its setting. 

The plan, this year, was to revisit all the wonderful places that had inspired the plot and provided key settings.

From our home in the south, it's a long drive to Cumbria (especially when you have lots of holdups on the motorway) but luckily my husband is a member of Audible and we spent the journey there listening to the audio version of my book. As Beth described her walk on the fells, just as we rounded a corner and the first peaks appeared, it was a very proud moment indeed.

We usually stay in a terrace of small miners' cottages near Chapel Stile called Lingmoor View (the inspiration for the one where Beth and her family live in my fictitious village of Church Langdon). Unfortunately, this year, it was already booked up in the week we wanted to visit, so we stayed in a different one in Grasmere, complete with a garden loved by red squirrels. We did make a visit to the cottages though so I could take a photograph with What She Saw.

Another key place in the novel is Temple Cavern, a disused slate quarry where Beth sits and draws the birds of prey she's so fascinated with. It features several times in the book and I created the place by merging Cathedral Cave at Little Langdale with Rydal Caves.

I love the majesty and mystery of the former but the entrance to Rydal Cave, with its stepping stones leading through the green water into the disused quarry, is how I envisage the entrance. 

Slaters Bridge is another place that is mentioned and is where I took the photograph at the top of my blog. We also visited, The Three Shires pub where Beth has Sunday lunch with her parents.

It's been a wonderful and momentous week in one of our favourite places and, to cap it all, I returned home to the news that What She Saw has sold just under twenty thousand copies in just over a month. I can hardly believe it. 

Maybe my husband and I are not the only ones who love this stunning part of the country!

If you'd like to read, What She Saw, you can buy it here

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

What She Saw Makes Amazon Top 100

I would like you to forgive this rather excitable post but I'm, well, rather excited.

When you have a novel published, you never know what to expect. Is anyone going to read it? Will people like it? Will you have to rethink your career? I thought all these things, and more, as the excitement of publication day wore off and life returned to normal.

It was a bit like having finished an exam and I couldn't help thinking, 'Was that it?'

My novel was hovering around the #1,000 mark on Amazon and I had no idea if this was a good place to be or whether I should skulk away into the shadows. I knew my editor was keen for What She Saw to make it into the Amazon Top 100 bestseller list but it didn't look as though it was going to happen.

Then suddenly, when my back was turned, something changed. My second psychological thriller, We Were Sisters, went on pre-order and the next thing I knew, What She Saw had begun to climb again. If I said I didn't check my Amazon ratings at frequent intervals after that, I would be lying. After all, things were starting to get exciting.

With each day, my debut slowly but surely climbed the charts until, early one morning, my editor emailed me to tell me I'd sold 10,000 books in twenty days and had broken into the Amazon Top 100. But it didn't stop there... it kept on climbing and, to my amazement, reached #58.

Not only that but it also got to #2 in the Amazon Hot Releases chart in Psychological Thrillers.

I was absolutely over the moon and was just thinking things couldn't get much better when I had another message to tell me that on Kobo in Singapore I was #1 in 'Mystery and Suspense Thrillers' (plus two other categories) and had bagged top spot in 'Hottest New Page Turners' in both the UK and the US.

The icing on the cake though was when I found out I had received my first 'Bestseller Badge' on Amazon. This time it was in Australia. What She Saw was #1 in Psychological Thrillers (and two other categories) and #2 in the whole of the Kindle charts. Here's the evidence!

I'm really sorry for what must sound like a horribly boastful post, and I don't mean it to be. It's just that (as a lot of you know) the road to publication for What She Saw has been a roller coaster and I can't help feeling like a proud parent as they watch their child who's struggled at school, graduate... which I will actually be doing in a couple of month's time!

I am so very lucky to have found my marvelous publisher, Bookouture, and the best editor in Jennifer Hunt.

She believed in What She Saw from the moment she read it and, thankfully, I now know others do too... including the lovely lady who took the time to let me know she'd read my novel on her cattle station in Queensland!