Eva Jordan in conversation with… Christie Barlow

I’m really pleased to have the lovely Christie Barlow as guest author on my blog today. Christie is the author of three novels, namely, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother and her current novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream.

I had hoped that by the time this post went live I could proudly say I had actually met Christie in the flesh, so to speak, as I was due to meet her, along with many others, at a Blogger – Author meet up in London on Saturday. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be. With my train ticket booked I set off from home reasonably early with no reason to doubt I would reach my destination on time. How wrong was I! I won’t bore you all with the details as I know you are dying to read Christie’s post but needless to say, thanks to engineering works combined with football and rugby matches taking place in London on the said same day – my usual one hour trip to London actually took five hours and I missed the meet.

Oh well – I hope I get the opportunity to meet Christie at the next meet. In the meantime read how Christie, in a bid to prove to her children that you can achieve anything you set your mind to, became a successful published author.

*******

Sometimes I wake up in the morning, open my eyes and think, ‘Is this real?’ But then I hear one of the kids shout, ‘Where’s my uniform, mum? Mum, can you check my spellings? Has someone let the dog out?’

Okay, my four kids, my mad cocker-spaniel Woody, the chickens, the horses and even my husband can jolt me back to reality pretty quickly but at the end of the day, it’s these characters in my real-life that got me writing in the first place.

One day, after I’d turned 40, my children were asking me what did I want to do? I found myself answering, ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book.’ I had spent years dedicating my life to being a full-time mum, and piano teacher, but now the kids were getting older, there perhaps was something more I could do for me. After making this bold statement, I thought I better try and see it through – and show my kids that you CAN achieve anything you set your mind to.

What to write about came to me pretty easily, as I was always fascinated with the dynamics around the primary school gates with mothers and playground politics. Of course, all my writing was fiction with a huge heaping of one-liners. After self-publishing A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, I was amazed to see it rocketing up the Amazon charts reaching no 1 in its category and no 11 for Kindle downloads. The reviews were amazing, calling it ‘witty’ and ‘laugh-out-loud funny’. Before I knew it, my wacky village characters were appearing on the page in a sequel, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother.

This is when my life really took a parallel course with reality. One morning after the school run, I came home to find an email from literary agent Madeleine Milburn – I had just finished writing Misadventures, intending to self-publish again, when Ping! I not only had an agent but within a few weeks, I had a publishing deal with the fabulous Bookouture.

My third novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream has just been released. It introduces a new set of characters centred on love and genuine friendship, with a few chickens added into the mix. And, I’m working on a completely different novel that’s due to come out in September.

It’s been an amazing experience – especially since signing with my agent and Bookouture. I’m attending events and meeting many authors whom I’ve admired for years. Through my social media presence, I was approached by the Zuri Project, a charity that supports development and community well-being in Uganda, working with the team to make a difference.

But, I have to say, my kids keep me grounded! I had an opportunity to take my two youngest to meet David Walliams at a book signing in Birmingham recently. I joked to them that I might tell David I kept him off the top spot for a few days. Their reply, ‘Mum, you can’t steal his thunder, this is his day, let him enjoy it!’ Okay kids, you’re right – but I still took the opportunity to take a photo of my book next to his in a Waterstones’ bookshop!

Now I’m about to pop my head on the pillow after a crazy day of writing and responding to reviews on Kitty and I think to myself, ‘Is this real?’

Luckily for me, the answer is yes.

Warm wishes,

Christie xx

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You can purchase Christie’s latest novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream here.

Christie loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via social media:
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Cover Reveal – Breakfast at Poldark’s

I’m absolutely delighted to be involved in the cover reveal of the lovely, fellow author, Samantha Tonge’s upcoming novel Breakfast at Poldark’s.

I’m sure you’ll agree how beautiful it is!

Due for release on 28th July from CarinaUK, HarperCollins, you can pre-order your copy here 

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Eva Jordan in conversation with… Tara Lyons

In the shadows

I’m very pleased to have the lovely Tara Lyons as guest author on my blog today. Although we haven’t met (in the flesh so to speak) yet, I’m very pleased to call Tara a friend. Tara is the author of the crime thriller In The Shadows, and although only released in March this year, Tara’s debut novel has already received many brilliant reviews.

Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is tasked with apprehending a brutal murderer stalking the streets of London—and leaving not a shred of DNA evidence. As the suspect list mounts, his frustration and pressure from his superiors intensify. Grace Murphy, who is dealing with the recent loss of her beloved grandfather, falls deeper into despair when her friends’ bodies are discovered. Fearing she may be the killer’s next target, she begins to question if her horrifying nightmares are the key to unravelling the murderer’s identity. How far would you go to uncover the truth? Would you venture into the shadows to unmask a killer?

Here Tara talks about her life and experiences since becoming a published author and how dreams really can come true.

Dreams can come true

It’s impossible to read that line without wanting to break out into song isn’t it – Gabrielle style, of course – so I apologise now if it’s stuck in your head for the rest of the day. I’m also sorry if it makes me sound like a cliché – but it’s true; dreams can come true. It’s happened for me, and if someone would have told me this is where I would end up, I wouldn’t have believed a word of it. So what’s not to say your dreams can’t come true too.

My whirlwind year

I won’t bore you all again with tales of my writing journey so far – I feel like that’s all I did for the first half of this year – but I will reiterate what an amazing year I’ve had.

We’re just a few weeks away from my 31st birthday (happy to receive chocolates and wine), and it’s that which has prompted the self-reflective mood. It will mark the year anniversary to when my writing career began, and it’s changed my life remarkable.

In that short space of time, I have collaborated with a fabulous author, M.A Comley – her series of books I devoured and enjoyed long before our writing partnership began. It still feels unbelievable at times. Together, we have written a novella (some parts of the story are based on true events) and are about to launch a new crime series. The Caller is the first book in the series which follows an Organised Crime Team seeking justice on the streets of London. I published my solo crime/thriller debut, In the Shadows in March and I’m pleased to say it’s doing really well. I’ve received some amazing five-star reviews on iBooks (Eek! Wow! I’m on iTunes!!) and it’s inching towards 100 reviews on Amazon UK. I’m overwhelmed.

The Caller

The network of people I connect with has blown wide open. On a daily basis, I speak to avid readers, crazy book lovers, bloggers and fellow authors. I’ve attended events such as author/blogger meet-ups, a Q&A with Jojo Moyes, book club birthday parties (which have been attended by some very fun and inspirational people) and I’ve just booked tickets to attend Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate this June. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about all these new opportunities.

I’ve made new friends, new contacts and have been welcomed into new social circles. It’s truly been an amazing year. I think if I tried to name all the influential people in this post you finger would ache from the constantly scrolling. But, I do thank each and every reviewer, buyer, blogger, friend, book club and fellow reader/writer who has made this past year one hell of a ride. I hope the next one is as successful.

I can do it, so can you

So, I’ll just leave you with this thought: Are you following your dreams? I’m no one special, a working-class girl who has never had much in terms of material things but am lucky to have a supportive family and dear friends. They pushed me to live my dream. If you don’t have that network, there is an amazing online community that can help you – just reach out. It’s easier to find excuses not to do the thing you love, but then, you only get one shot at this life, so live it doing something you enjoy.

Huge thank you to Eva for welcoming me onto her blog today. Eva is one of the lovely friends I’ve met online and I hope to meet her in person one day. I had the pleasure of reading her debut, 183 Times a Year – a book completely out of my usual reading genre – and I loved it. If you haven’t read it yet, get reading!

I love chatting online, so please feel free to get in touch.

Tara Lyons on Social Media:
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Eva Jordan in conversation with… Marissa Farrar

Marissa Book covr

I’m very pleased to introduce the lovely Marissa Farrar as my Guest Author today.
Marissa has always been in love with being in love. But since she’s been married for numerous years and has three young daughters, she’s conducted her love affairs with multiple gorgeous men of the fictional persuasion.
The author of more than twenty novels, she has been a full time author for the last six years. She predominantly writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but has branched into contemporary fiction as well. You can read about her latest trilogy, Defaced: The Monster Trilogy, at the end of this article.

A prolific writer, Marissa explains how she makes her living out of writing and gives some very helpful advice along the way.

Earning Money from Ebooks

Marissa Farrar

I’ve found people don’t like talking about money—especially in the publishing business. If authors talk about wanting to earn money from their books, it’s as though that automatically makes them care less about their craft than someone who writes purely for the love of writing. In my experience, that’s total rubbish.

I’ve been earning my living from my books for the past six years now. I’m going to talk about how I earn a decent living from my work (my income is now higher than my husband’s, and I’m not even a big seller). This is how I sell books and make money. I’m sure people will argue there are other ways (which I’m sure there are), but this is just my story.

  • Self-publish.

I didn’t start off as a self-published author. Like many authors, I started with a couple of small presses, but quickly realised I could do better on my own, and so started to put my books out on my own. It wasn’t until then that I earned anything more than possibly a small meal for my family! I’m sure being with a publisher is lovely in many respects, but self-publishing allows you the control to do many of the things I’m going to suggest next.

  • Be clever with pricing.

You are never going to earn a living with books priced at $0.99. At that price you have to sell hundreds of books per day in order to make a decent living, and very few authors achieve that.

Do the maths:

$0.99 = $0/35 royalty x 100 sales = $35

$3.99 = $2.80 royalty x 10 sales = $28

It’s always going to be easier to sell ten books than one hundred.

The only time I price books at $0.99 is for a short term promotion, for short stories, or for first of series books. Full length books for me will always be priced at the $3.99 mark. Novellas will be $2.99. I do have free first-of-series books, or run free promotions, but for the books I want to earn money from, $3.99 is the sweet spot.

  • Publish regularly.

I put out a new novel every other month now. It’s easier for me because this is my full time job, so I don’t have a day job to contend with (though I do have three small children!). However, setting yourself up a regular publishing schedule is important. It doesn’t have to be every two months – it could be every four months, or even six (though I wouldn’t advise leaving it this long between books as readers will forget you!) – but the important thing is that you’re regularly publishing, and readers know when they’re going to get their hands on your next book. Plus you’re more likely to see more of those $3.99 books with a decent backlist.

  • Make use of the pre-order option.

I love pre-orders! A lot of authors offer their books at a special offer of $0.99 to entice more readers in, and this does work, but in exactly the same way pricing your already published books at $0.99 it won’t make you much money. What a pre-order does is allow you to create a call to action for readers when you’re talking about your book and promoting it before it’s even published. I now include the pre-order for my next book in the back of my most recent release, so readers can just jump straight over and one-click the hell out of it.

  • Build your newsletter.

Having a newsletter with a decent number of subscribers is like having access to your very own Bookbub that’s designed purely for you. Take time to build the number of subscribers you have – include the link in the back of every book you publish, use signing up to your newsletter as an entry in competition, or sign up to a company who offers to build your newsletter for you – such as the folks over at I Love Vampire Novels (no, you don’t have to write about vampires to take advantage of this). I used AWeber, but it’s expensive. I know many others use Mailchimp, which sounds like a good one to get started with, or I’ve also heard good things about Madmimi.

  • Spend money to make money.

I know this is easier said than done, especially when you’re scraping around trying to find money to pay the bills and feed the kids (believe me, I’ve been there!), but if you want people to spend their hard earned cash on your product, you’ve got to be prepared to invest in it yourself. The things you cannot skimp on are a good cover artist (there are some amazing pre-made covers out there if you can’t afford to commission one) and an editor. Even if it’s just an edit to make sure your grammar and spelling is correct, you’re better off publishing your book with one than without. If you really cannot spend a single penny on your book, then it might be an idea to go down the traditionally published route until you start earning some royalties, which you can then use to put out your own work.

The other area in which you need to spend money is advertising. I always suggest at least 20% of your income should be spent on advertising, though I often spend closer to 30-35%. Places to spend your advertising money are  facebook ads, and email blasts with companies such as Bookbub or the smaller versions such as Robin Reads, eBook Hounds, and Booksends.

I guess the thought I want to leave you with today is that it isn’t impossible to make a decent living from publishing ebooks. I’m not talking about the sort of huge sums which make people best-sellers, but just a modest, regular number of books sold each day which will give you a steady income. And if you have a steady income from ebooks, then you don’t have to go to the dreaded day job, and you can write even more books!

Start off by aiming to sell ten ebooks across multiple channels per day, and when you hit that number, aim to sell fifteen, and then twenty. Just imagine, one day you might even sell one hundred books per day, and $3.99 = $2.80 royalty x 100 sales = a whole heap of cash!

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Marissa Farrar

 

Defaced: The Monster Trilogy
A Dark Romance Novel
By Marissa Farrar

Monster
Hidden away from society by his criminal father, there lives a man who has never entered the outside world. Now, having taken over his father’s business, he has all the money and power he could dream of, yet still he refuses to let himself be viewed by the rest of society.
Lily
Traumatised by an event in her past, Lily Drayton has a phobia of being touched. Though she helps people externally with her skills as a laser therapist, she refuses to let anyone in, emotionally or physically. When Lily is kidnapped on the way home from work one evening, she discovers she’s not the only person who keeps themselves cut off from the rest of the world.
Defaced
A man owns her now—a man both dangerous and enigmatic. Drawn by his dual beauty and hidden pain, he awakens something inside her, something she believed was long dead. Brought to a room without windows, she’s given an impossible task: to make her owner acceptable to the outside world.
Can altering his face change who he is as a man, or is he truly a monster, both inside and out?

Buy Links:
Amazon: viewBook.at/Defaced
Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/VFeGL
iBooks: http://ow.ly/VFeO0
Kobo: http://ow.ly/VFeY2

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Sue Moorcroft

Sue Moorcroft Hats

I’m very pleased to introduce the lovely Sue Moorcroft as my guest author today. A prolific writer of women’s contemporary fiction, Sue was born in Germany, the daughter of two soldiers, then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK. She’s worked in a bank, as a bookkeeper (probably a mistake), as a copytaker for Motor Cycle News and for a typesetter, but is pleased to have wriggled out of all ‘proper jobs’.

Here, Sue talks about the inspiration for her latest book The Christmas Promise.

What inspired The Christmas Promise?

When people ask about inspiration I feel they must anticipate tales of poignant life experiences or points I’m bursting to make to the wide world. Some of my books do have their origins in life experiences and, like most writers, I always have several points I want to make, but, fundamentally, I like to write about things I want to write about.

How The Christmas Promise came into being went something like this:

  • I was asked for a Christmas novella because they sell well and Christmas is always a promotable subject in the UK.
  • I don’t care for Christmas. I decided it would be more bearable to write about a heroine who doesn’t like Christmas, either.
  • On BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s afternoon arts and culture programme I met a fellow guest, Abigail Crampton, who was a milliner. Making fabulous hats by hand seemed exactly the kind of occupation for one of my heroines, so I asked Abigail if she’d advise me.
  • Books have to have conflicts to drive the story so it seemed natural that Ava’s millinery business wasn’t too successful. (This changes as the book develops, partly owing to a WAG called Booby Ruby.) Not having much dosh at Christmas added to Ava’s challenges.
  • I wanted my hero to have a more serious beef with Christmas, so I put Sam’s mum, Wendy, in the elapse between surgery and chemotherapy, making him resolve to give the best Christmas he possibly could, cancer being such a life changer for the loved ones as well as the patient.
  • I began to suspect Sam and Ava’s story deserved a bigger stage and should be a novel rather than a novella.
  • My agent agreed, and so Ava needed a greater conflict than a Grinch-like dislike of the festive season. By happenstance, I read an article about ‘revenge porn’, ie an ex circulating intimate images of someone as revenge for being dumped. I was so annoyed on behalf of the victims that I immediately created Ava’s ex-boyfriend Harvey to illuminate the despicable crime.
  • A contemporary career for Sam, ways in which Ava’s goals and conflicts would impact upon Sam’s goals and conflicts, and I had assembled the elements I needed to begin planning back stories and seeing where the issues in the book would take me.

I’m not sure if the above process comes under the heading of ‘inspiration’ so much as ‘plotty idea-storming sessions with a significant dash of commercialism’, but it’s where the roots of this particular book lie.

Award-winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is this Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards and Darcie’s Dilemma for Readers’ Best Short Romance. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for an RNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.

Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.

Sue’s next book (available for pre-order now): The Christmas Promise 

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Sue Moorcroft

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Amanda Prowse

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I’m very pleased and honoured to introduce the lovely Amanda Prowse as my guest author today. Although Amanda didn’t start writing full time until she was forty she is a prolific writer with many published novels and novellas to her name, including her most recent novella Miss Potterton’s Birthday Tea.

Amanda states that her ambition has always been to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…

Here Amanda talks about her love of reading and explains the ideas behind her new novella.

Eva. thank you so much for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog, I am very happy to be here among friends.

Books are a huge part of my life. Reading for me is akin to breathing. I simply cannot imagine a life where this is not one of my major habits. I would rather be reading than just about anything else. We have a standard joke in our house, having visited some amazing places, sites, venues, I have very often done so with my nose in a good story only half-present, I can’t help it! What was I supposed to do? NOT find out what happened? As if.

The recent celebration of World Book Night has opened my eyes to the fact that so many people don’t read, yes I know, unbelievable, but true. My immediate thoughts are, what do they DO with all that spare time, all those hours reclaimed by not sitting with your nose in a book and secondly, what do they THINK about? As my head is largely consumed with three things;

  1. The book I am currently reading.
  2. The book I am currently writing.
  3. Is it time for another coffee yet?

Throughout my life, books have been my salvation, my educators, my friends and my escape. I grew up in a loving, busy, noisy, chaotic house without books in it. My wonderful Mum and Dad were too busy working and caring for their large brood and apart from reading on holiday (I picture my dad with the latest John Le Carré and my mum with anything by VC Andrews – Flowers In The Attic etc.) they didn’t make or have the time to read. Interestingly, once we had flown the coop and the burden of life was lifted a little, they both became and continue to be voracious readers! Kindles are now on their checklist when they leave the house, whereas it used to be simply, ‘keys, wallet, phone…’

I was born in Stepney and grew up in East London and remember very clearly my first ever visit to East Ham library and being given a little cardboard library card. It changed my life. Someone trusted me with the most precious thing: a book! And not only was it completely free, but when I finished, they let me choose another and another… that was it. I was hooked!

I used to curl up among the noise of my brother’s running around the room, yelling and playing ‘He-Man Master of the Universe!’ and read. This skill now serves me very well. I can write anywhere! Planes, trains, even in the TV room with a computer game blaring and boys yelling I am able to disappear into my own little world and create…

When my boys were little, I took so much joy in reading to them. Working our way through weighty classics like Moby Dick and the whole series of Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events (LOVE LOVE LOVE THESE BOOKS!) and I hoped they would, like me, become book worms. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, my eldest would rather be watching or kicking a football, but this makes him happy and that is the goal (every pun intended!) My youngest is dyslexic and as a scientist is happier with his head in some grisly scientific tome than anything more frivolous!

So I do understand that books are not everyone’s bag but nothing gladdens my heart quite as much, as receiving a message from someone to say that they have read one of my books and it has re-ignited their love of reading! I know that this is so much more than them enjoying my stories; it is about them discovering the alternate worlds that lay in wait! How wonderful!

I also think that with the sweeping epidemic of loneliness in this modern age, not only would books provide companionship and escape for those affected, but a trip to the library would be the best tonic!

My latest novella “Miss Potterton’s Birthday Tea” looks at the loneliness of three seemingly very different people who all have that one simple desire, to switch off the light at the end of the day with someone by their side who cares about them. I think the best comment I have had about from a critic was “It made me go Aaaaaaah!” what more could I ask for?

Well, Eva, a deadline is looming and so I must get back to my edit – thank you so much for letting me hang out with you and your lovely readers and if anyone has any questions or wants to chat – they can always contact me at; askamanda@amandaprowse.com

With love

Amanda xx
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