Saturday, 27 August 2016

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Ch 1

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Chapter 1

James Cowper’s hand shook as he reached for the knob of the Stoweham Community Hall door.

Less than a month until the release of The White Feather from The Wild Rose Press.

Pre-order from Amazon or your favourite ebook retailer.

Out 14 Sept 2016 from The Wild Rose Press.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KoboBooks | The Wild Rose Press

Friday, 26 August 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 9

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Nine: As Alexander's horse stepped up the gravelled path of Bromley Park, a heaviness settled upon him.

The Quarterly Newsletter comes out next month. Here's how you can get one.

On sale now in ebook and paperback from and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

Her Grace shares cool news with Quarterly Newsletter subscribers first. And she does have cool news. And a giveaway.

End of PitchWars and I didn't get in

The odds were never in my favour. Out of 1700+ entries for 130-something mentee spots, you can do the math.

That I didn't get in didn't hurt. For me, the biggest disappointment was that I didn't get a single ms request from my query & Ch1. That's what stung.

During the submission/selection window all the mentors were reading the entries and requesting partials/fulls.  My query letter and Chapter 1 wasn't hooky enough to get anyone's attention.

I suspect it's voice, but I honestly don't know. The reason I suspect voice is because during the window everyone on #PitchWars was raving about voiceVOICEvoice and how that was the one thing that caught their attention. Everything else, they reasoned, was fixable.

But if you didn't have voice...

Now the feed is full of congrats for the lucky mentees and half-glass-full reassurances for the 99% of the rest of that PitchWars isn't the end.

Of course it's not the end. The wise not-mentees will go on to QueryKombat and PitchSlam and the good old-fashioned query train. Anything to achieve their goals of publication. Also, there were many interesting people and resources and CPs and FB groups and lots of stuff. Plenty to be learned from PitchWars.

But the biggest thing I learned is that I can't hook. Could be the query letter (which I desperately rewrote thanks to feedback 12 hours before the submission window), but most likely is the voice in Chapter 1.  I don't base this off of this one contest, but off the dozens and dozens of agents I pitched prior without a single request and this one contest. PitchWars simply confirmed for me that there's something wrong with my hook.

This is more important that one realises. The success of a book at every level depends on the hook. At first the hook is to catch an agent. The agent uses the hook to catch an editor. The editor catches the acquisition board's attention and marketing uses the hook to catch the readers. Readers gush about this one great book because the hook caught them and they had a great time.

Even if I was to go the indie route, I still need that vital hook, more than ever. If I can't hook potential readers, I'm not going to get any sales, never  mind reviews.

Essentially,  I can't go on until I figure out how to make this hook work.

How does one fix voice? Everyone's advice has been, "Write another book."  Okay, great, if you're an apprentice who's just finished their first novel. But what about the journeyman working on their twenty-first?

I wish I could figure out what it was about my voice that sucks.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Amazon offers free previews!

Totally awesome news: now offers a funky new doohickey called Kindle Instant Preview.  Now you can have a quick'n'easy look at all my books.

Sample, like, order, read, love! If you do read one (or all) of my novels, please be kind and leave an honest reveiw on Amazon. They help more than you know.

Never tried my books? Pick one and enjoy.

(A Lady of Many Charms is free to download and read the whole thing.)

My latest release.


(Marry Me is my most popular book!)

My first The Wild Rose Press release.


What, you say? Where is The White Feather?  Alas,  no Amazon preview for that until 14 Sept 2016. Feel free to pre-order it.

What to wear this [Northern] Summer

I've got a guest post on the Long and Short Reviews blog about Summer Reading and what to wear (hint: Hefty.). Comment on the entry for your chance to win an Amazon gift card.

Want to sample Her Endearing Young Charms?  Here you go:

Her Grace encourages you to read, love and leave an honest review.

Friday, 19 August 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 8

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Eight: The Windermeres' town residence, by daylight, was very tasteful indeed, all light curtains and fine-legged chairs.

Happy Birthday to a whole bunch of people in my family.

On sale now in ebook and paperback from and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

Her Grace likes birthday cake.

Friday, 12 August 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 7

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Seven: Xavier dumped their takings across the wooden table.

August is a tease. It threatens to be spring, then it dumps more cold rain on you.

On sale now in ebook and paperback from and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

Her Grace is sick of fickle weather.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Sad Tale of a Lost Voice

Actually, this has nothing to do with being sick. This mezzo-soprano doesn't have a meltdown at the first sign of laryngitis. Rather, she treats it as the perfect reason not to answer the phone.

Instead, today I am going to mourn the sad little wet blanket of my author's voice.

I just spent a year pitching a novel I love very, very much to just over a hundred agents. Ignoring the unresponsive NORMANs, every agent who replied (except for one)* gave me a form reject. No personalisation, and certainly no requests for more pages. Absolutely no one was hooked enough to want to read more.

But I love this book to bits and really want it to go out in the great, wide world and do well. So I entered #PitchWars and stalked the feed.

The one thing the mentors are looking for? Works with voice. Or rather, V O I C E. Voice is the one thing a manuscript must have. They're confident they can fix anything else--craft issues, plot issues, character issues.  But voice is the must-have.

They're all raving about voice, which I find a bit depressing.

I'm thinking my author voice sucks.

How do you tell? Agents send you form rejections. Lots of 'em. And no requests for further material. They're just not interested in reading more.

I can't see my voice, I can't hear it, I can't define it. So how do I fix it?

I've had over two dozen critters and beta readers go over this, at at least five sets of eyes read the whole project straight through. They focus on characterisation, plot, everything. Rave about it, even. But nobody has ever said anything about voice.

"It's one of those things," others say. "Keep writing until you find your voice."

I've written twenty fricking books. If I haven't found my voice by now, how on earth is the twenty-first book going to help me find it? It's not like craft, where you can study up on how to do it, analyse others' works and take the gears apart to see what made it tick. It's not something that can be taught, they say.

I wish it was. I really wish I could look at my writing, see my voice, and see what made it work, or not, as the case is. I wish I could file the rough corners, tighten the rhythm, drench the words with liquid crack.

I want to keep readers up all night with my books because they don't dare put it down.

How do I do that?

*the one agent who gave me personalised feedback does so because I always query her, and she knows how hard I'm trying. She's a real sweetie and I respect her a lot professionally. Still, her reply does, to a degree, support the issue I'm having. My voice isn't so overwhelmingly alive it grabs her and she absolutely must consider adding me to her list.
I wish it was.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Being sick sucks

I'm sick.

I developed a chest infection last week. Despite the best of 21st Century medicine, it hasn't gone away yet. So annoying.

I was able to get my #PitchWars entry in before the illness consumed me. Thank goodness. Since then, I've been coughing so hard I'm surprised my eyeballs haven't popped out.

I wanted to start working on "The Charm of Truth" (and got a good 2.5K words done) before this chest infection claimed my full attention. Since then, it's a hassle to drag my pain-wracked body out of bed and carry on some semblance of real life.

At least Their Ladyships are old enough to feed themselves and The World's Most Boring Cat doesn't have to be taken for a walk.

Cold drinks feel better on my shredded throat than hot and the wheat bag is my friend.

Still, why couldn't I have some bog-standard rhinovirus instead?

Her Grace hates those people who never get sick. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 6

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Six: By now, guests filled the ballroom floor a whirl of colour.

#PitchWars is coming up. I'm throwing my hat in the ring.

On sale now in ebook and paperback from and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

Her Grace has been keeping company with the God of the Dark.