Monday, 18 May 2015

Free Scrivener Webinar and Free Book

I've read about lots of authors now using Scrivener for their writing and I got as far as downloading the trial offer ages ago, but didn't continue trying to work it out! Now, Joanna Penn has mentioned a free webinar on offer this week to show us how to get to grips with this powerful programme - if you register, you can catch up with it after the live broadcast. This is what Joanna said:

How to write, organize and format your book with Scrivener - free webinar! 

Scrivener is the tool that changed my own writing life and I'm a real evangelist for helping others to understand its powerful functionality. The last Scrivener webinar we did had over 1000 attendees and was so much fun that we're doing it again :) We'll cover tips for both non-fiction and fiction authors and I'll show you how I'm using Scrivener for my next books.

The webinar will be on Thurs 21 May at 12 noon US Pacific, 3pm US Eastern, 8pm London for the live webinar and Q&A with me and Joseph Michael, the Scrivener Coach.

If you register, you'll also get access to the recording which will be available within 24 hours after the call and available for you to watch over the weekend. 


Writing friend, Mary Smith, is offering her wonderful novel, No More Mulberries, free today (Monday) until Wednesday 20th on Amazon. Set in Afghanistan just before the Taliban, it's well worth the read and it has over 50 great reviews! Mary actually worked there in the past so knows what she's talking about. Some of you may remember I interviewed Mary when the novel first came out a couple of years ago.

Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves her work at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan and the warmth and humour of her women friends in the village, but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married and she fears he regrets taking on a widow with a young son, who seems determined to remain distant from his stepfather.

When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. Instead, she must focus on helping women desperate for medical care and has little time to think about her failing marriage. When an old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where she and her first husband had been so happy. Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong. 

Her husband, too, has a past of his own – from being shunned as a child to the loss of his first love.  

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Wonderful Review

I was so thrilled to come home just after lunch to find a wonderful review of The Highland Lass on the very interesting A Woman's Wisdom site.

I was told in an email that Cynthia, who reviewed it, cried twice! What more could an author ask, that a reader's emotions have been touched. It is both gratifying and humbling.


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Unexpected Interview

I've just been interviewed by fellow author, Wendy Jones in what must be the quickest turnaround of any interview I've had! Thanks Wendy. You can find the interview here, if you have the time or inclination to visit.


Friday, 8 May 2015

Information for Writers

I mentioned the IndieReCon online conference a few posts back with all its workshops on self-publishing. Alison Morton, who writes the very successful Roma Nova books, has given me the link to her account of the self-publishing talk at Foyles Bookshop which took place as part of the Indie Author Fair in London. You can read it on Alison's blog here and find information about Alison's new book, Aurelia, the fourth in the series.

Helena Fairfax and other authors have good tips for writers in a new e-book: Romance and Mystery Writers on Writing. You can read more about it, along with a piece by Helena on her website.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Give up Ironing - and Write!

Although I actually enjoy ironing, as long as I can watch a film at the same time, this little book from Kathleen McGurl is full of great motivational and inspirational time management tips for writers - and the author herself is an inspiration!

Give up Ironing is free to download today and it's worth taking time to sit down and read it. I'm about halfway through and absolutely needed Kath's firm reprimands about time-wasting activities, as I'm guilty of several of them. But I also love the tips for using time more wisely and I'm aiming to finish the book today so I can review what I do and when.


Thursday, 30 April 2015

Author Inspiration: Gilly Stewart

I’m delighted to welcome Scottish-based author Gilly Stewart to the Reading and Writing blog today. Gilly lives down in beautiful Dumfriesshire and her lovely d├ębut novel, Sunshine Through the Rain is now published by Accent Press. Gilly kindly agreed to share the inspiration behind the story. But first a little about the book.

When your family need a favour, you can't refuse, can you?

Ellen is settled in Edinburgh when one day her sister begs a favour: can she come and look after her farm and three children while she has a much-deserved holiday. Ellen loves her nieces and nephews, but the animals are a bit of a worry…

After a manic yet fun weekend, her world is shattered when a freak accident kills her sister and leaves her as the children’s legal guardian. Ellen never asked for children, nor to run a farm, but now she's in charge of both. Desperately juggling her responsibilities, Ellen is driven to find a compromise between her old life and her new: one the children will accept, and that will allow her to keep something of herself as well.

Into the mix is thrown their neighbour, handsome, brooding Kit. He’s more than willing to help out on the farm, but not so willing to open up to Ellen …

Inspiration Behind the Story

What happens when you are stuck on a farm, alone with two young-ish children, trying to cope with both them and the animals, and feeling like you haven’t got a clue about either?

This was the position I was in a few years ago and it was what sparked the writing of Sunshine Through The Rain. Of course, my situation wasn’t as drastic as Ellen’s. I only felt like I was a single parent – my husband was home occasionally! And they were my own darling children. I hadn’t been landed with them due to a family tragedy, as happens to Ellen. But my own position presented me with that question writers so love: what would it feel like if …? If you were in this position, but it was worse? If it interrupted your own carefully planned life? If you had no choice but to cope with something so outwith your comfort zone?

One thing I definitely shared with Ellen was the not-knowing-much-about -animals. Believe it or not, despite owning 4 dogs and 3 cats I’m not really an animal person. And farm animals were definitely not my thing. They were big, and unpredictable, and there were lots of them and only one of me. The incident with Ellen and the horse actually happened to me more or less as I described it. It was scary and I was so worried about the horse, but I was also thinking ‘why I am being left to cope with this?’ I was watching the action in my head, making a scene in a book even as I lived through it.

My oldest son is much better with the animals than I am, and although he isn’t like Angus in any other way I did use this unexpected competence in a teenager as part of Angus’s character. I think it makes a nice contrast with the much less useful adult.

And the inspiration for Kit? Well, I’d had him in mind for a while. He is based on a footballer I’ve always had a soft spot for, one with shaggy hair and dreamy eyes but also a real warmth (I won’t name him!). He was perfect for Ellen’s new neighbour. It wouldn’t work if he was a farmer, but he needed to know a lot about animals. Bingo! Kit was a vet.

I hope people enjoy reading Sunshine Through The Rain as much as I enjoyed writing it. As with so many things we write, it’s a version of what could have been my reality. And they say write what you know – (mis)managing a farm was something I certainly knew about!

Sunshine Through The Rain is available from Amazon UK and US in e-book and print.

Gilly Stewart was born in Lancashire and lived in Yorkshire and Cheshire until the age of 15, when her family moved to South Africa. At 21 she moved to France, and then tried Zimbabwe before finding the perfect country: Scotland. She has had many jobs including au pair, cleaner, teacher and accountant, but her first love has always been writing. She has had four romantic novellas published under the pen-name Gillian Villiers and in March 2015 she published her first Young Adult novel Music and Lies under the pen-name Gill-Marie Stewart

Sunshine Through The Rain is her first women’s contemporary novel and is published by Accent Press. They will be bringing out her second novel, The Lost Woman, in July 2015.

Gilly lives on a farm in rural Dumfriesshire with five chickens, four dogs, three cats, a husband and many, many books. Her two student sons deign to visit occasionally.

You can connect with Gilly on her Website, Facebook, or Twitter @GillStewart2 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Newsletter and Summer of the Eagles

That's my latest newsletter away to subscribers yesterday. In this one, I'm giving away a signed copy of republished tween book, Summer of the Eagles, to the winner of the three questions I asked (just for subscribers). If you'd like to receive the newsletter, just pop your email address in the box on the side of the blog!

I regained the rights and it's now available again on Amazon with a new e-book cover and in print from FeedARead or from me. It's popular with grown-ups too! This one is under my Ros name. Here's the blurb.

When 13 year old Stephanie (Stevie) is orphaned and slightly lamed in a terrible accident, her life completely changes and her dreams of ever running for Scotland are over. Her Gran is soon no longer able to cope with Stevie’s moods, and sends her to an aunt on a Scottish island.

Although she gradually makes new friends and finds an interest in the bird sanctuary, Stevie is soon in danger from two bird poachers intent on harming the eagles. But who is the strange eagle-boy in the hills, who protects the eagles and helps Stevie to heal? And does he have anything to do with the painted rocks and legends on the island?

Monday, 20 April 2015

Writing and Publishing Information and Advice

The IndieReCon online conference I mention two posts ago was an inspiring and information-filled three days. I couldn't keep up with all the great advice and videos and I've still one or two to access today. Some are more relevant to different authors but all have nuggets of practical advice that I'm aiming to put into action at some point.

I've also mentioned Pinterest before and Jay Artale's video on this was excellent. I hadn't realised just how much it's taken off for authors and it's one of the fastest growing sites. I still love the visual aspect of it. You can read Jay's presentation here.

Another very useful session was with multi-million selling American authors Bella Andre and Barbara Freethy - I've heard them before but listened to their fascinating discussion about being two of the most successful self-published authors and their tips on moving forward.

Have a look at the whole programme if you're interested in any of the other sessions - they're going to remain accessible for a while yet.


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Author Inspiration: Jenny Harper

It's a pleasure to welcome back to the Reading and Writing blog author Jenny Harper who is based in Edinburgh. Jenny obtained a publishing deal with Accent Press last year for her lovely Heartlands series of novels, which is going from strength to strength. Her latest novel is People We Love and Jenny kindly agreed to share the inspiration behind the story. First a little about the book.

People We Love

Her life is on hold – until an unlikely visitor climbs in through the kitchen window.

A year after her brother’s fatal accident, Lexie’s life seems to have reached a dead end. She is back home in small-town Hailesbank with her shell-shocked parents, treading softly around their fragile emotions.

As the family business drifts into decline, Lexie’s passion for painting and for her one-time mentor Patrick have been buried as deep as her unexpressed grief, until the day her lunch is interrupted by a strange visitor in a bobble hat, dressing gown and bedroom slippers, who climbs through the window.

Elderly Edith’s batty appearance conceals a secret and starts Lexie on a journey that gives her an inspirational artistic idea and rekindles her appetite for life. With friends in support and ex-lover Cameron seemingly ready to settle down, do love and laughter beckon after all?

Inspiration Behind the Story

I wish I could say that the whole inspiration for People We Love arrived in a blinding flash, but the truth is, it didn’t. I knew the story – that heroine Lexie Gordon’s life was on hold after the death of her brother – and I knew that she was an artist. I knew there was a love triangle, and that Lexie was struggling to rebuild her life and prop up her parents. But the aspect of the book that readers seem to be really enjoying only took shape as Lexie’s character crystallised and gained depth in my mind.

It came to me that Lexie – a quirky, passionate, arty character – loved vintage clothes not only because of their great design, and the quality of the stitching, but also because she felt that they still held something of the character of their former wearer. The idea that ‘shoes tell stories’ should have been obvious to her, but this notion only comes to her when she uncovers elderly Edith’s poignant secret.

I won’t reveal any more – except to say that understanding this is the key to many things for Lexie: to working through her grief, to rebuilding her career, and to learning about what defines herself.

So in the case of People We Love, I suppose it’s a case of ten percent inspiration, ninety per cent perspiration! Although I do hope it comes across as inspired and inspiring.

Many thanks for that interesting insight into the story, Jenny.

Jenny's four books are now available on Amazon - just click on each title!

Jenny Harper is the author of four books about Scotland and Scottish culture, a history of childbirth, and The Sleeping Train for young readers. Her Heartlands series of novels set in the imaginary town of Hailesbank, in East Lothian, marks her return to fiction. When she isn't writing, she enjoys walking in the Scottish countryside or anywhere warm, and travel to Europe, America and India.

You can find out more about Jenny on her Website and on the Blog she shares with other writers Novel Points of View.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

IndieReCon - Free Online Conference

There’s a free, online self-publishing conference taking place next week and it sounds too good not to share here! This is their promotional announcement below. I'm sure there will be great information for any author.

It’s the third year of IndieReCon, and they have an action-packed schedule filled with all sorts of great stuff – a mixture of posts, vlogs, webinars, as well as the opportunity to drill deeper into the various topics with a series of online and Twitter chats. 

The fun kicks off next Wednesday, April 15th at 7:30 (EDT) and runs until Friday, April 17th 

Be sure to drop in, there’s some cool stuff planned, and it’s all FREE (make sure to register to gain access). Last year with over 25,000 visitors, IndieReCon was awesome with chats and giveaways and days of helpful and pertinent information. This year will be even bigger and better! 

To kick us off we’ll have S.R. Johannes and Ali Cross, founders of IndieReCon, welcome you to this year’s conference. Following our welcome join Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, and Orna Ross, bestselling author and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors for a wide-ranging discussion about the changing landscape, what it means for writers, readers and author services these days, and their top tips to enable you to publish and sell great books with the minimum of fuss. 

You’ll also discover insider secrets from representatives from around the industry, learn the basics of self-publishing, try your hand at serials, work with other authors to maximize your marketing efforts and much, much more. We have contests and tons of giveaways including KOBO ereaders packed with books. Not to mention, it’s a great place to network, connect and have a lot of fun. 

You can now view our schedule, our speaker bios, and our awesome sponsors.

I've already registered and hope to take advantage of all this free information. Maybe see you online!