Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Next Big Thing

I've been tagged in The Next Big Thing by fellow author Emily Harvale http://www.emilyharvale.com/blog/ whose second novel, Lizzie Marshall’s Wedding  will be out in November as an ebook, on Amazon. The rules of TNBT are that I have to answer ten set questions about my next book and then tag other authors to write about their Next Big Thing. So here goes:

Q: What is the working title of your next book?

A: Love’s Tangle or perhaps The Duke and the Dairymaid.  In the end it will be the publisher’s decision and they may come up with something quite different.

Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?

A: A couple of years ago I visited a country house in West Sussex called Uppark.  It had almost burnt down in a fire but the National Trust had been busy restoring it, including the dairy which was at the end of a flagged path if I remember rightly.  There was a wonderful story attached to this dairy.  Apparently in Regency times, the owner who had inherited the house and estate at a very young age, was a larger than life character.  He was a personal friend of the Prince Regent which probably tells you all you need to know about his lifestyle.  He scattered by-blows around the local countryside but never married – not that is until he reached eighty.  Then, you’ve guessed it, he fell for one of the young dairymaids and married her!  He left her and her sister the whole estate, too, so I imagine there were some very unhappy family members.  Anyway the story fascinated me and though my duke is not eighty – he’s young and gorgeous - the idea of marrying the dairymaid was still intriguing.

Q: What genre does your book fall under?

A: It comes under the heading of the ever popular Regency Romance.

Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

A: Definitely Richard Armitage as Gabriel and Elinor?  That’s more difficult.  She needs to be elegant,intelligent but also very sexy.  Perhaps Scarlett Johannson with an English accent?

Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A: Young girl escapes poverty by seeking the man her dying mother commends, but finds instead a mystery, an identity and a deeply passionate love – roughly in that order!

Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

A: I have an American e-publisher currently interested but so far nothing has been finalised.

 Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A: It’s difficult to say since my first drafts get mixed with my second drafts and then the third draft takes over.  Overall, I would say the novel took about six months to write which is about average for me for this length of book.

 Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A: I’m spoilt for choice.  Regency romances abound and as I say, they’re very popular.

Q: Who or What inspired you to write this book?

A: See my answer above.  I loved Uppark – it was small enough not to overwhelm but very beautiful, very stately.  And there were some fascinating family portraits hanging on the wall – they gave me the idea for the paintings that Elinor finds when she trespasses and that say to her quite clearly that she doesn’t belong!

Q: What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

A: It's a Cinderella story but with a heroine who is feisty and brave.  In fact both hero and heroine are strong characters, both have known unhappy times, and it’s difficult for them to believe that love has arrived.  But when they do believe, and let go, then wow!

I've enjoyed taking part in The Next Big Thing and I hope that you've enjoyed reading about my forthcoming novel. Here are several fabulous authors I've tagged, to tell you about their Next Big Thing, on Wednesday the 7th November:

Helen Hollick at http://helenhollick.blogspot.co.uk/

And Gillian Bagwell at http://www.nellgwynn.blogspot.co.uk/


Monday, 29 October 2012

Barbara Pym

Does anyone read Barbara Pym today?Various people have told me over the years that I should but somehow I never borrowed her from the library or sought her out in a bookshop.She seemed just a little too quaint, a little too English, and the frequent comparisons with Jane Austen appeared a bit far fetched.

But now, two books in to the Barbara Pym collection, I’m beginning to understand the Jane Austen connection and even agree with it.There’s the same perceptiveness about human nature, the same understated humour, the same championing of lone women.And as for the clergy!If Pym’s vicars, bishops and archdeacons don’t rival Mr Collins in obsequiousness they certainly do in self-importance. These are great portraits – gently satirical but wonderfully human.The archdeacon in Some Tame Gazelle is my all-time favourite.

Philip Larkin once said that he would prefer to read a new Barbara Pym to a new Jane Austen.I’m not sure I’d go as far as that but I’m half way there. Her books are quaint, quirky, very English and may not be to the taste of everyone but they exude old fashioned charm and best of all, they are very, very funny.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Just to say that it's the final day that WALKING THROUGH GLASS is free on Amazon Kindle.

If you’ve time, do take a look. 

http://tiny.cc/o9pmmw for the UK
http://tiny.cc/suwomw for the US

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Advance notice:  Walking Through Glass - a Victorian mystery romance - is free on Amazon kindle from the 25th so do take a look this Thursday. 

The link for Amazon UK is http://tiny.cc/o9pmmw and for Amazon.com

Thursday, 11 October 2012

My very first blog is some kind of milestone, I guess, and it seems right to look back over the last three years since I gave up the day job and started writing seriously.  It has been an extraordinary journey.  You hear people talk of a steep learning curve – well, entering the world of writing has been one of the steepest I’ve ever encountered.  Precipitous even.  Not that I’m falling over the cliff – not yet at least – but sometimes I feel I‘m hanging on with just two fingers.

When I had my first Regency romance accepted by Harlequin I had no idea of the publication process.  Years ago in my youth I worked in the sales department of a West End publishers but I never entered the hallows of the editorial department – publishing was very hierarchical then and people from sales were seen as only marginally more acceptable than those from publicity!  So when I began working with an editor for the first time, I came to it as a complete novice.  I was happy to take her advice and suggestions (all of them resulted in a far better book) but I still found it hard to mould my writing to a particular audience’s tastes.  Or in other words, to think commercially.  There were things I didn’t like - having my title changed, being given a cover which in my opinion didn’t reflect the book, having my punctuation altered by a copy editor.  But I knew that if I wanted to write to be published, I must live with it.  In any case, there were other aspects which were thoroughly enjoyable – meeting people online who shared my interest, attending stimulating conferences, being taken out to lunch by my editor!

Publication was just the first step on the road and a whole load of learning was to follow: how to read a contract (no, I’ve never managed this one), how to understand royalty statements, signing up for PLR (Public Lending Rights) and ALCS (fees for photocopying your work).  Then I needed a website and stuff to put on it (Google loves content apparently) and a way of gathering statistics for how it was being used. 

And then there was all the other social media: facebook and twitter and linked-in and a hundred other things, including a blog, that I should be able to manage.  I have to confess it hasn’t come easily but when I self-published my Victorian mystery novel, Walking Through Glass, I knew it was essential.  Self-publishing, of course, is whole other learning curve.  If you’re not technically adept, and I’m not, formatting a book for Kindle becomes a monumental task.  But I managed it and more recently my confidence level has risen sufficiently to design my own cover – and leave me pleased with the result!

The latest step on the curve is preparing a ms for an American epublisher and right now I’m knee deep in different punctuation and different spelling.  That’s simply the mechanics but there’s also a cultural divide to jump because I’m learning too that some ideas just don’t translate well.  I describe my Regency hero in this book as having a lazy charm or lounging lazily against the wall.  For a British romance reader that would be an attractive image, at least I’m guessing so, but for an American audience ‘lazy’ has negative connotations, ‘not an attractive quality’, the editor has said.  And so the learning continues…..     

Sunday, 7 October 2012