My first blog tour, self doubt and a very special anniversary

Confessions of a Rubbish Book Marketer.

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These last few weeks have been pretty manic as I juggle the demands of marketing Murder Served Cold (link to my book here) with the equally urgent demands of finishing off its sequel, provisionally entitled Rough and Deadly in order to meet a December deadline that’s galloping towards me faster than the January sales.

I’m used to writing to deadlines, having written a monthly column in Writers Forum for the last eleven years (although the editor would probably confirm I’m one of those contributors who make the deadline by the skin of their teeth each month).  

But writing a novel to a deadline is a very different matter.

But even so, that’s something I am far more comfortable with than the other thing that’s been demanding my attention like an over-indulged two year old since way before my book launch in October.

The. Dreaded. Marketing!

 

My Big Scary Blog Tour

One of the first things I did was to sign up for a blog tour. (But even that, I left a bit late and the blog tour took place several weeks after my launch date.)

 I chose Rachel’s Random Resources because I’d heard some very good things about Rachel from my fellow authors at Crooked Cat books.

What Rachel (and others like her) does is gather together a number of book reviewers who will, in exchange for a review copy of the book, read it and, hopefully, review it.  (although they are under no obligation to do so) on such places as Amazon, Goodreads etc.  Reviews are of vital importance to an author as they do so much to improve a book’s ‘findability’. (Have I just made that word up?)

Until my book was published, nobody had read it except my publisher and my editor.  Even my husband hadn’t read it.  And, to be honest, I don’t know which was most terrifying – the thought of people I know reading it or people I don’t know reading it.

Now, I ‘m not a stranger to writing.  I’ve had over 400 short stories and serials published in various magazines both in the UK and overseas.  But the thing about writing for a magazine is that you only (!) have to please one person – the editor.  Either he/she likes it, in which case you have a sale.  Or he/she doesn’t and it’s back to the drawing board.  As for the readers, if they don’t like what you’ve written, they can move on to something else within the magazine. So it’s not a complete waste of money for them.

Over the years I’d got used to this way of working.  I have even, in that time, had some very positive feedback from readers, which is pretty rare in the world of magazine writing – or at least it was for me. (Do let me know if you’re one of those lucky writers who have loads of positive feedback all the time.  I’ll probably be insanely jealous but I’ll give you a name check!)

Leaving the comfort zone

I am, like many writers, an introvert.  It takes a lot to persuade me out of my comfort zone and I don’t mind admitting I’ve found the whole process of bringing a book out both terrifying and exhausting.  Each day the learning curve appears steeper.

But none more so than the start of my blog tour.

Murder Served Cold Full Tour Banner

It lasted a week and I could hardly sleep the night before, for fear of what the reviewers were going to say about it.  I’ve heard about far, far better writers than me getting 1 or 2 star reviews and having to deal with the crippling effects these can have on a writer’s confidence.

But I didn’t have any self confidence to start with, so I was pretty sure that a bad review would mean the end of my career as a writer of crime novels.  I know many writers suffer, as I do, from what’s known as ‘imposter’ syndrome, the belief that you’re not as good as everyone else and it’s only a matter of time before you get found out.

So I was taking a pretty big gamble with this blog tour.  But then again, if I didn’t do it, then only a handful of people were going to hear about my book and this would make my publisher (and me) very sad.

The results are in…..

But I’m glad to say the reviews were good. I’m sure part of is thanks to Rachel’s skill in selecting reviewers who will probably enjoy books written in my genre. 

In fact, the reviews were much better than I dared hope.  Shall I put them on here?  Probably not because although my lovely mum (to whom my book has been dedicated) has been dead a long, long time she still murmurs in my ear every now and again and is even now telling me not to ‘show off’. (She wasn’t that impressed with Murder Served Cold either and told me I was ‘no Agatha Christie’)

But having said that, if she was still around, she’d have been that proud of me people would have crossed the road to avoid having to listen to her banging on about it! (Even though I’m no Agatha Christie).

But sadly, showing off is what book marketing is all about – which is why I’m not very good at it.  But this is where the value, to me, of this blog tour came in.

I’m not sure if Rachel and her reviewers have any notion of how their kind words (Rachel was brilliant and very reassuring every time I started panicking!) saved this fledging new career of mine.  Every day of the tour, with each good review  I grew a little in confidence until by the end of the week I began to believe that I might just have written a book that people might actually want to read.

It’s a really big deal when someone buys my book and I feel the responsibility keenly.   I want to give each and every one a hug.  Unlike a magazine, the reader’s money is totally wasted if they don’t like my work. It’s not like they can flip over to the recipe section to find something they do like as they can in a magazine.  But it’s not just money they’ve wasted.  It’s the time they’ve invested in reading my book.  That’s an awesome responsibility.

So to all those readers who took a chance on this unknown (to them) author, a big thank you.  And to those lovely readers who leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads etc, an even bigger thank you.  

And for my next meltdown…..

I’m now going through yet another crisis of confidence as I am getting close to finishing the second book in the series.  Writers thrive on the question ‘what if?” Asking and answering it can lead to many a good twist and turn.  But sometimes those two little words can work against you.

What if….

What if Murder Served Cold a fluke?  Am I about to get found out after all?

But that’s a blog for another time.  I started writing Rough and Deadly (provisional title) on a high.  It was great meeting up with the characters from Murder Served Cold (those who hadn’t been murdered of course) and I couldn’t wait to see where they would take me this time.

But then came the doubts.  The what ifs….  What if I can’t do it again?  What if I’m one of those people who can only write one book?  What if….

Dalmatians.  A special anniversary

This week sees us celebrating a very special anniversary.  It’s exactly a year since we collected our rescue Dalmatian, Duke, from BDW,  British Dalmatian Welfare via a wonderful couple who fostered him while he was between homes and saved his poor damaged tail. (Thanks, Cass and Geoff!)

When you register with BDW, you are asked to fill in a wish list of the sort of dog you would like.

Our wish list went like this.

  1. Girl dog.
  2. Good with children.
  3. Doesn’t chase cats.
  4. Good with other dogs.

Duke is:

  1. A boy dog.  (Although a bit less of a boy dog than when we first had him).
  2. He was not very good with children, but is getting better as he gets to know the grandchildren (who are all very patient and gentle with him)
  3. Very bad with cats and as one of my sons has three cats, this has led to some very expensive dog boarding bills when we go to visit.
  4. Not at all good with other dogs. Particularly since he got beaten up by a Bull Mastiff and now is now firmly in the ‘Get in first’ camp.

BUT

  • He makes us laugh.  Every day.  (Except when he’s indulged in 2, 3 or 4 above.  Or stolen food. Or rolled in fox poo.  Or… I could go on but it would be a very long list.)
  • He makes us walk.  Every day.  (This is not always a plus)
  • We have poo bags and dog treats  in every bag and pocket.

AND

  • We love him very much.  He has enriched our lives in ways that cannot be measured.

 

My next post

I’ll be talking to author Rosie Travers and asking her where she got the idea for her book “Theatre of Dreams” from.  I will also post the Daily Prompts for 1st to December 15th.

Where does romantic comedy writer Lizzie Chantree get her ideas from?

Lizzie Chantree

I’m thrilled to be introducing the second author in my new series “Where do writers get their ideas from?” and featuring her two most recent books.

I bought Lizzie’s first book, Ninja School Mum, because I was intrigued by the title. (And it has a brilliant cover!) And it did not disappoint.  It was a great read.

NSM cover small

Me. Hi Lizzie, Thank you so much for agreeing to be on my blog.  Now for the question every writer is said to dread:  Where did you get the idea from?

LC:

I got the idea for my book Ninja School Mum after looking around the school playground and thinking how strange it would be if someone had an incredible secret and they weren’t who they said they were.

Me: What is your genre?  Is it a series or standalone?

My genre is romantic comedy. This book is a standalone at the moment, but in the future, it will be part of a series.

The book’s blurb.

Obsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite  spy,  who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is

Me: What inspires you most?  Characters?  Settings? Books you have read?

LC:

From this list, I’m inspired by all three! When I read a wonderful book, it’s usually the setting, characters and often previous books from the author that make me want to write more of my own stories.

Me: How did you writing journey start?  Have you always written?  What was your first published piece?

LC:

My writing journey began when my youngest daughter was unwell for many years (she’s fine now). I had to stay up at night to listen to her breathing, so I decided to write a book full of sunshine, to keep my sanity and my eyes open during those dark hours. We have recently found out that she has severe allergies, but she’s coping really well.

I’ve written since I was quite young and always had a passion for reading. 

My first self-published work was my first book. I was offered a book contract for the manuscript, but had to turn it down due to my daughter’s health. I have published two books with Crooked Cat Books this year. 

Me: What are your future plans?

I plan to keep writing more books as I really enjoy my job and I’ve met so many supportive readers and writers. I’d love to see my books made into films too. A girl can dream! 

Ninja School Mum can be found at this link here.

Me: And your second Crooked Cat book?

LC

This was published in July 2018 and is called ‘If you love me, I’m yours…’ 

IYLMIY cover small

The ‘blurb’

Maud didn’t mind being boring, not really. She had a sensible job, clothes, and love life… if you counted an overbearing ex who had thanked her, rolled over and was snoring before she even realised he’d begun! She could tolerate not fulfilling her dreams, if her parents would pay her one compliment about the only thing she was passionate about in life: her art.

Dot should have fit in with her flamboyant and slightly eccentric family of talented artists, but somehow, she was an anomaly who couldn’t paint. She tried hard to be part of their world by becoming an art agent extraordinaire, but she dreamed of finding her own voice. 

Dot’s brother Nate, a smoulderingly sexy and famous artist, was adored by everyone. His creative talent left them in awe of his ability to capture such passion on canvas. Women worshipped him, and even Dot’s friend Maud flushed and bumped into things when he walked into a room, but a tragic event in his past had left him emotionally and physically scarred, and reluctant to face the world again.

Someone was leaving exquisite little paintings on park benches, with a tag saying, ‘If you love me, I’m yours’. The art was so fresh and cutting-edge, that it generated a media frenzy and a scramble to discover where the mystery artist could be hiding. The revelation of who the prodigious artist was interlinked Maud, Dot and Nate’s lives forever, but their worlds came crashing down. 

Were bonds of friendship, love and loyalty strong enough to withstand fame, success and scandal?

If you Love Me, I’m Yours can be found here

Having read and enjoyed Ninja School Mum,  this one is definitely on my To Be Read Pile.  I’m really looking forward to it.

Thank you, Lizzie, for a great interview.

Lizzie’s Social media links 

Website: www.lizziechantree.com.

Author page: viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizzie.chantree.3

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizzie_chantree/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LizzieChantree/pins/

…. And finally, the Daily Prompts for November 16 -30

I’m setting out below the daily prompts for the second half of November.  Please check out this post (link here) for details on how to use them.

Who knows?  One of those prompts might lead to a full length novel that I’d be delighted to feature on my blog.

16. The sound of loneliness.

17. Write about making beds.

18. Praise makes good men better and bad men worse (Proverb)

19. If I could have my time again.

20. It was her idea of a good time.

21. Trying to break a bad habit.

22. A postcard

23. A bundle of old letters found beneath the floorboards.

24. So it has come to this.

25. On this day in 1952, Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” opened, the world’s longest running play.

26. Write about passing time.

27. “I still can’t say goodbye” (song title)

28. An invitation to dinner.

29. Write about asking for mercy.

30. A time you laughed so hard it made your sides ache.

Do let me know if these, or any other prompts, have inspired you.  I would love to hear from you.

Where does crime writer, Val Penny, get her ideas from?

A slight change of direction

When I started this blog, back in March, it was only intended as a record of my faltering steps towards publication of my debut crime novel Murder Served Cold which was published in October.   Link here. 

The publication date is the reason for the longer than intended gap between posts as I completely underestimated the amount of time the marketing/social media aspect side of the writing business would take – not to mention the fact that I’m busy writing the second in the series, provisional title Rough and Deadly,  to a very tight December deadline.  (No Christmas shopping for me this year! Yayy!)

Having achieved my publication date goal, I would now like to change the emphasis of this blog slightly and include interviews with other writers.  I shall still continue to post about my own progress (or lack of it)  as I get down to what I am fast discovering is the really hard bit about writing a novel – ie getting it ‘out there’.

The blog will still include my daily prompts and the current ones (albeit slightly late, for which I apologise) are, as always at the end.

Why a guest post?

IdeasStoreWhen I’m not writing crime fiction, I also write a monthly column, Ideas Store, for the UK magazine, Writers Forum.  (Link here). I have been doing so for eleven years and have ‘met’ so many great authors in that time who patiently and generously respond to my question: Where do you get your ideas from?

But there is never enough space in my column for all I would like to include, nor room for author pictures or book links.  So I’ve decided to include some of them as guests on my blog on a regular basis.

One of the big bonuses for me when Crooked Cat Books agreed to publish my first book, Murder Served Cold, was being introduced to a galaxy of new to me writers, one of which is my first guest, crime writer Val Penny.

author-pic-2Val is the author of the Edinburgh Mystery Series featuring Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson.  I have read and very much enjoyed the first two books in the series and am looking forward to the next one.

My interview with Val Penny’

Me:

 Hi Val, Thank you so much for agreeing to appear on my blog.  Now, that question that all writers dread to hear: 

Where did you get the idea for your book from?

VP:

 I always find this question the most difficult to answer, but I will try! I first began writing novels when I was being treated for breast cancer. I was very ill and had little energy except to read, watch daytime TV and try to beat the disease. 

As anybody who has been poorly and subjected to daytime TV will attest, it gets very old very fast, so I began a blog to review the books that I read www.bookreviewstoday.info

When I began to recover, I still had little energy, but needed something to occupy my mind. It was at this point that he who is known as Handsome Hubby suggested that, if I knew so much about what made everybody else’s books good, or not, I should write one of my own. (If only it was that simple!) Anyway, I accepted the challenge and, as my favourite genre to read is crime, I decided to try my hand at writing a crime novel.

The first character to be created was Joe Johnson: he came about from a throw-away comment made by an assistant in my office many years ago. She said she liked to be able to see the customers before she could smell them! So Joe Johnson was born and the rest of the story in Hunter’s Chase was created around him. 

Me: Tell us a little about your book.  What is your genre? Is it a series or standalone?

VP:

I write crime thrillers: the sub-genre is probably police procedurals. The novels I write form a series, The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. I like to be able to tell the stories of the individual character’s lives as well interesting my readers in the crime DI Hunter Wilson and his team have to solve.

Crooked Cat Books published the first in the series, Hunter’s Chase, on 02.02.2019 and the second, Hunter’s Revenge on 09.09.2018.  The links are:

myBook.to/HuntersChase

myBook.to/HuntersRevenge

The third in the series, Hunter’s Force will be published in Spring 2019. 

  1. The book’s blurb – Hunter’s Chase.

519VedYjK8L._AC_US218_Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

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  1. The book’s blurb – Hunter’s Revenge

Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense?
Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify George’s killer.

When a new supply of cocaine from Peru floods HMP Edinburgh and the city, the courier leads Hunter to a criminal gang, but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough, and local gangster, Ian Thomson, to make his case.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taut crime thriller.

Me: That’s great, thank you.  Now, tell me a bit more about your writing life in general, please. What inspires you most?  Characters?  Settings? Books you have read?

VP

I am most inspired to tell the story of my characters and how these play into the crimes investigated in the novels. Having said that, the setting of the beautiful city of Edinburgh is also important and it is a treat to have to research areas of the city that I would not have a chance to visit otherwise.

Me: How did you writing journey start?  Have you always written?  What was your first published piece.

VP:

I have always enjoyed writing and telling stories. Even when I was a little girl I used to make up stories for my little sister. However, my first published pieces were all non- fiction articles published in dry, dusty old journals and my first creative pieces, were poems included in national poetry anthologies.

Me: And your future plans?  More in the Edinburgh Crime series, I hope!

VP:

I am now about to start the edits for the third book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series, Hunter’s Force and I am writing the fourth in the series, Hunter’s Blood. 

I was also asked to speak at The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School this year and I, as I lectured at Heriot Watt University for years, I would be thrilled to get more involved in speaking at writers’ conferences.

…………

Thank you so much for that, Val.  That was fascinating and I wish you the success you so richly deserve with the Edingburgh Mystery Series.

Would you like to be featured here?

If you’re a writer and would like to be featured either in this blog or my column in Writers’ Forum (or preferably both!) please get in touch.  Or, if you have read a book that you really enjoyed and can’t sleep at night until you find out where the author got that particular idea from, do let me know and I’ll do my best to find out..

And finally….

And no, I hadn’t forgotten the daily prompts.   If this is your first visit to my blog, check back to this page for advice on how to use them.

Daily Prompts. 16th October – 15th November

October

16. My heart leaps up when I behold/A rainbow in the sky (Wordsworth)

17. “This time,” he croaked, “I’m really, really ill.”

18. There’s a first time for everything.

19. You wake up – and everything is different.

20. Write about falling.  In love?  Down a hole? On a dream?  You decide.

21. She was wearing my ring.

22. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks (Proverb)

23. Catching someone in the act of cheating

24. “It’s all you could expect,” he said.

25. An abandoned house.

26. Your first car.

27. It’s too soon to tell.

28. Being lost along the way.

29. Returning takes too long.

30. The difference between men and women.

31. This is what was left when he had gone.

November

1. On this day in 1848 the first WH Smith railway bookstall opened on Euston Station.

2. I hate this time of the year.  It’s so …….

3. Write about a time someone said yes.

4. Before I was born…..

5. Rising early to begin a journey

6. One man (or woman) and his/her dog.

7. “Love comes from blindness, friendship from knowledge. (Comte de Bussy-Rabutin)

8. She who must be obeyed.

9. The stranger

10. An overheard conversation

11. Out of the corner of my eye I can see …..

12. To everything there is a season

13. The end of the street.

14. Every man is his own worst enemy (proverb)

15. Write about an island.