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!


Monday, 6 April 2015

When Readers Respond

This is a kind of follow-on post from the previous one about reaching readers and illustrates the point I made about finding different ways to publicise our work.

Yesterday, I was overwhelmed to receive a wonderful message from an unknown reader through the contact page on my website. It was all the more welcome because it was from someone who had read The Highland Lass and wanted to tell me how much she'd enjoyed it! Although I value every single response and review to any of my writing, this is all the more meaningful for being so unexpected.

I think it's the same lady who left a new review on Amazon UK, but here's a little snippet of her message to me. Excuse me reproducing some of it here but it's not every day you received a response like this!

"Hi Rosemary, I have just finished reading The Highland Lass. What a fantastic book!!" She goes on to say that she recognised the landmarks. "What a lovely story about Eilidh, Robert Burns and Highland Mary, was so sorry it finished! Eagerly awaiting your next novel."

Makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it? The only problem now is getting that next book written and hoping it will be so well accepted!

Meanwhile, I'm interviewed on the lovely Jenny Harper's blog today, if anyone has time to visit.


Friday, 3 April 2015

Reaching Readers

As any author will confirm, the main aim of having a novel published is usually so that readers might enjoy the story we have spent so long bringing to the page. In this age of e-book publication, it is even more difficult to find the right readers as thousands of novels vie for attention on Amazon and such like. Yes, most writers are also readers and many are very good at supporting fellow authors by buying their books, if they suit their tastes. But to find those prolific readers who are not necessarily on Facebook or twitter, we often need other forms of promotion.

So I was delighted to be featured in two quite different publications this week, both of which I imagine will be read by an entirely different set of readers, with the chance that some at least might be interested in the themes and setting of The Highland Lass.

The first, was a great double-page spread in a local newspaper, The Gazette, which covers much of Renfrewshire. The journalist had phoned to quiz me on different aspects of my writing and publication and I was able to mention the local writing group, which I've attended for many years. As journalists do, especially with someone willing to answer questions, she discovered this year will be my fortieth wedding anniversary and she asked for a photo with my husband in it too! This really was invaluable publicity for the novel (as was the piece in the local paper in my home town on the day of release) and I'm sure it had a direct result on the Amazon rankings the next day.

Then yesterday, my article on the research and inspiration behind writing The Highland Lass was published on the Celebrate-Scotland site, which you can read if you wish by clicking on the link. This had been a surprise request from the deputy editor of Scottish Memories, when my name had been passed to her by Writers' News. Needless to say, I was delighted to write the piece as this site celebrates all that is Scottish and my research emphasises the story of Robert Burns and Highland Mary.

The moral of the post is that we need to explore different ways of reaching readers, if the opportunity arises, and two of the best are by word of mouth and personal contact. Hopefully, I'll be able to do more of the latter once the novel comes out in paperback. Watch this space!


Monday, 30 March 2015

Scottish Association of Writers

In my previous post, I mentioned that I was going to the Scottish Association of Writers annual weekend conference and how it was usually inspiring. Well this year was every bit as interesting and enjoyable.

Our current venue is the very good Westerwood Hotel just north of Glasgow, which provides everything we could want in good food and hotel facilities, especially for a conference. A highlight on the Saturday is the delicious mini pastries and muffins provided at the morning tea/coffee break and delicate little cakes at our afternoon break!

Friday Dessert!

This year, we had excellent speakers, adjudicators and workshops ranging from some of the elements necessary for short stories with Shirley Blair from The People's Friend, lots of great advice on the self-publishing business from Linda Gillard, traditional publishing and how to write a good letter to agents and publishers from Allan Guthrie, and studying story structure with Alexandra Sokoloff. This was only a selection of what was on offer in between the competition adjudications.

Alexandra Sokoloff
One of my favourite workshops was the one on structure with Alexandra, who is not only a novelist but was also a screen writer in Hollywood for many years. As a film fan, I really enjoyed the way in which she discussed several films as an illustration on how to use the three-act structure in story plots, highlighting this on a whiteboard. She was also our keynote after-dinner speaker on Saturday evening and held us captivated by her own story and the lessons she learned to apply to her writing along the way. If you're interested in reading more about her and receiving her tips, you can sign up to Alexandra Sokoloff's website.

Needless to say, part of the pleasure of the weekend is meeting up with old friends and new from all over Scotland and we only stop talking when having to listen to the speakers! It's a wonderful way for writers to get together and we always go home inspired for another year.  There is usually friendly rivalry between the writing groups to see who can win the most trophies, but everyone who enters any of the competitions receives a written critique from the relevant adjudicator. The Association is open to affiliated writing groups from anywhere in Scotland and individuals who don't have a group can join the Writers' Umbrella as a postal member. You can contact the secretary of the SAW through their website if you want details.

Maybe see you next year at the conference!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Weekend Inspiration

I'm looking forward to going off to the annual Scottish Association of Writers weekend conference from Friday to Sunday. Three days of inspiration, competition adjudications, professional speakers, wonderful food in a beautiful hotel, workshops and lots of fun and chat with writers from all over Scotland. Can't wait!

One of the workshop presenters is Shirley Blair from The People's Friend and I'm not surprised she has been invited back after her massively over-subscribed workshops last year. I'm sure the numbers will be more controlled this time. I'm looking forward to the story structure workshops with Alexandra Sokoloff as they sound very interesting. I'm even more looking forward to a break from domesticity over the weekend and I'm sure husband will enjoy a weekend on his own.

Talking of inspiration, I'm featured on Victoria Howard's blog today, outlining how The Highland Lass was partly inspired by its Scottish setting. Is setting important to you as a reader or writer?


Monday, 23 March 2015

Old Acquaintances

I love those totally unexpected moments when you've decided to go to a particular place and end up meeting an old acquaintance purely by chance. That's what happened to me at the end of last week when I was browsing in a shop and heard my name mentioned, only to discover someone I used to work with many moons ago. Both of us had gone to the city on the same day and ended up in the same shop, and I was originally meant to be doing something else that day which was postponed.

It was lovely to meet her again and we chatted for ages, as you do. We're both now doing what we love, she with a holistic therapy business and me with writing. Even better, I'm definitely going to book an appointment with her and she immediately friended me on Facebook and started telling her American friends about The Highland Lass! I must say that Facebook is certainly one of the best ways of keeping in touch with people you don't see very often, if at all.

That's my March newsletter now winging its way to subscribers. If you would like to receive the monthly newsletter (and don't already), you just need to pop your email address into the box on the side of the blog.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

All Things Celtic

Since I have a lot of Irish ancestry on my mother's side, I'm happy to pay homage to St Patrick's Day. One of my earliest vague memories is a journey on a big ship to Ireland when I was very young - but I can't remember anything about actually being in the small village where my granny's family came from, apart from an old photo of me sitting playing on a beach!

Husband and I did visit several places in Ireland more recently and one of my favourite was Cobh, last stop of the ill-fated Titanic. It has such a pretty harbour and the magnificent 19th century Gothic St Colman's Cathedral which sits on the hill overseeing the fishing port. Cobh has a very interesting history which is highlighted in the harbour-side museum.

One of my publishers, Tirgearr, has been invited to showcase all their Irish-set books on the Celtic Rose Blog today, then tomorrow the Scottish-set books will be featured which includes Midwinter Masquerade. I believe our books are getting an hour each to be in the spotlight and mine is around 11am tomorrow - although I imagine they'll all remain on the blog for the day. If you like novels with a Celtic flavour, you might find some to tempt you.