Friday, 18 August 2017

The Air Transport Auxiliary - female ferry pilots.

Air Transport Auxiliary - ferry pilots in WW2

At the moment I'm writing the second book in my three book series, Ellen's War – An ATA Girl. The first book, Blue Skies and Tiger Moths came out earlier this year. The second book follows Ellie Simpson from June 1940 until December 1941 – at least that's when I think it will finish. I don't really know until I get there. In this one she leaves the WAAF and joins the Air Transport Auxiliary. Therefore, this month I thought I'd tell you a bit about them. The trouble is I find the subject so fascinating I'm doing rather more research then I should and a lot less writing. This is why I love being a historical fiction writer – I can immerse myself in fascinating facts.
The ATA was started by the director of British Airways. He could see that when the second war started there wouldn't be enough trained pilots to protect Britain if they were used to ferry new aircraft from the factories and take back damaged ones for repair. Also there would be a suspension of civil aviation which meant these pilots would have no work.
The RAF had strict entry requirements and many of these civilian and commercial pilots would be considered unsuitable for operational service.
Initially just over a hundred men were recruited from all walks of life. It soon became apparent that these gallant few would not be enough to move trainers, fighters and bombers from storage units to RAF squadrons stop the RAF had thought they could use their own pilots for this but it became glaringly obvious after Dunkirk they would need every able-bodied RAF pilot in active service.
Most of these ATA pilots were limited to flying single engined training aircraft so they were given conversion courses so they could fly Hurricanes and Spitfires and multi-engine types.
Spitfire
Then Pauline Gower stepped in and convinced the powers that be that well-trained women could do the job just as well as men. So on January 1st 1940 eight women pilots were employed to ferry Tiger Moths and Pauline was appointed commander of this first group of women flyers.
Hurricane
They were based at Hatfield in a small office behind the de Havilland hangars. There sole job initially was to fly planes from the de Havilland factory to training airfields and storage units, for the most part in northern England and Scotland. This was the middle of winter and Tiger Moths were open cockpit. This was the first time in history women would be officially given the task of ferrying military aircraft and they did a wonderful job at it.
ATA girls in uniform.
By 1941 the women were at last cleared to fly class II aircraft, Hurricanes and Spitfires. More women from all walks of life were taken on until eventually there were twenty-two ferry pools – some pools like Hamble, Crossford and Hatfield were all women ferry pools but most of the others were mixed with men and women pilots working side by side.
Many foreign pilots also found employment in the ATA. They were known as " The Flying Legion of the Air," as there were men and women from thirty other countries in the organisation.
In 1943 female pilots who had previously earned 20% less than male pilots were at last given equal pay. By now they were flying all class of aircraft, with the exception of class VI flying boats. They flew using only a compass and gyro and could only take off and land when the weather was clear.
By the end of the war ATA pilots had delivered over 300 000 aircraft of 51 different types. The ATAs total complement consisted of 1152 men and 166 women. There were also aircrew, radio officers, ground engineers and ATC cadets. 129 men and 20 women were killed in service, including Amy Johnson.
Fenella J Miller

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Duke''s Alliance - An Accommodating Husband – on sale at bargain price for one week only!

Buy Now
The fourth book in The Duke's Alliance series – An Accommodating Husband – is now live on all Amazon platforms. It is at a reduced price for one week only and will return to the usual price on 8 August.
I didn't put this book on preorder as I've been reading this doesn't work for Amazon – certainly reducing the price and sending it out to my almost 2000 subscribers proved successful as the book is already on six bestseller lists – including Regency.
Needless to say I'm delighted about this and I hope that my new readers will then go on and buy the backlist.
This book tells the story of Lady Giselle Sheldon, the younger sister of the Duke. Beau, of course, features strongly in this book as he does in all of them. I shall be beginning Perry's story in a few weeks and it will be entitled "A Soldier's Bride." Peregrine, you might remember, is the other twin. The previous book in the series was his brother Aubrey's story – An Unconventional Bride.
I'm really enjoying writing this series and will be sorry to get the end of it. The final book will be the duke's romance and I haven't quite decided how that one will go but I do know it will be out next summer sometime.

The Regency Romantic's summer box set, Midsummer Marriages, of which I am part, is also doing well. In future all the stories will be new ones and I'm sure that will please many fans.
Don't forget if you want a bargain by An Accommodating Husband this week as it will be back to the usual $2.99 and £1.99 very soon.
Fenella J Miller

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Regency Romantics Summer Box Set Midsummer Marriages.

Delighted that second box set for 2017 is now live on Amazon. This time four new titles and this is the plan from now on. We are all going to write new books for the box sets if possible - Wendy Soliman, Elizabeth Bailey, Monica Fairview and myself certainly will. Amanda Grange and Melinda Hammond will write one new book a year as they have other commitments.
Elizabeth is now hosting the box sets - we have taken it in turns. I started this venture three years ago and hopefully Elizabeth will host for a couple for years before it's my turn again. 

Here are the blurbs:

Regency Romantics Summer Box Set

Five Bestselling Authors with five glittering Regencies
Including Four completely new stories!

DAMSEL TO THE RESCUE by Elizabeth Bailey
A fugitive stranger and a frantic forest escape.
Four years on the marriage mart have left Delia Burloyne resigned to life as a maiden aunt. Then fate takes a hand. Waylaid on the road to Weymouth, her life is turned inside out by dashing Giffard Gaunt. He’s on the run and desperate.
Plunged into a dangerous dash for freedom with a wounded man on her hands, Delia must dig deep for courage. Can she help Giff win back his estates and still keep her heart intact?

LUCASTA by Melinda Hammond
Lucasta Symonds did not enjoy her one, short London Season and she is happy to remain at home while her beautiful younger sister Camilla sets out to make an advantageous marriage. Viscount Kennington takes one look at the beautiful Camilla and is immediately smitten. He follows her to London, determined to make her his wife. However, when events take a turn for the worse and he is accused of a cold-blooded murder, it is not Camilla who comes to his rescue but the less beautiful, much more practical Lucasta.

THE RECLUSIVE DUKE by Fenella Miller
When Lydia Sinclair is left to care for the orphaned children of her sister she discovers they are distant relatives of The Duke of Hemingford. With the last few coins she possesses she buys seats on a common stage for all five of them, determined to persuade the duke to assume responsibility for his cousins. 
Tee duke has no wish to have these unwanted relatives foisted on him, since his accident he shuns society. However, Digby, his man of business, has other ideas and installs Lydia and the children in The Dower House.
Will the duke evict them when he discovers this deception or can Lydia get him to change his mind?

LADY MYSTERIOUS by Wendy Soliman
Kyra Latimer reluctantly returns to Latimer Lodge to help her grandmother organise a house party in the hope of attracting a rich husband for her beautiful younger sister. Lord Nathan Stanford, the guest of honour, is easily able to resist Melanie Latimer’s charms but is intrigued by Kyra’s secretive activities. Why did she leave her family home and why, at such a young age, has she withdrawn from the marriage mart?
Nate makes it his business to find out more about the mysterious lady who single-handedly holds her fragmented family together. Shocked to the core by what he discovers, Nate sets out to protect her from the gambling curse that has destroyed her family and the evil man who wants to possess her. But at what cost to himself? Will he be able to help her find out why her brother’s wife disappeared without trace? And will Nate find a way to convince Kyra that spinsterhood doesn’t suit her…

THE UNEXPECTED DUKE by Monica Fairview
A carriage accident, an inheritance, and broken promises.
Isabella Chalmers has no intention of becoming a model wife, especially when a marriage of convenience means having to deal with a crumbling mansion and a disagreeable duke…
$2.99 £1.99      CLICK HERE

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Tyranny of Writing.

April 2017

February 2017
These are the books I've written and published so far this year. Well, that isn't quite accurate – The Reclusive Duke is going into the next Regency Romantics box set which will be out this month. Search for a Duke was the last of my Robert Hale books that just needed re-editing so I didn't actually write that one this year.
An Unconventional Bride, the third in The Duke's Alliance series was written last year but published in 2017. The fourth book in this series, An Accommodating Husband, will be out in August. This was written this year. A Most Unexpected Christmas was in the Christmas Regency Romantics box last year. I have written this year's book – A Most Delightful Christmas, and this will be coming back from my editor on Wednesday.
August 2017
Currently I am writing the second in a YA paranormal romance, (the first is with a teenage beta reader and has never been published) and also about to start the second in the Ellen's War series. I've also got on my to-do list writing the fourth and final book in The Nightingale Chronicles, All's Well That Ends Well. I will also need a Regency for the spring box set ready by March next year.
As well as writing these books I also have two rounds of edits and two proof reads for each one, as well as having to organise covers, blurbs et cetera. On top of that there is the never-ending round of social media, marketing and promotion to fit in somewhere.
September 2017
Because sales and pageviews are no longer strong I've also started to take my World War II and Victorian books out of Kindle Select. D2D handle some of the platforms but I'm putting them on Nook and Kobo myself. So far I've got three books transferred and by the middle of August all eleven will be available on all platforms. It remains to be seen if this works – but I've got nothing to lose and everything to gain by spreading myself wider.
I think you get the picture – the more you write the more you have to do. If I only wrote one book a year my life would be so much simpler.
For the past three years I've been obsessed with my writing – not content unless I had written a minimum of fifteen hundred words a day every day of the year. Now that I'm less successful sales wise it's given me a moment to step away and reconsider.
January 2017
July 2017
As most of you know I am my husband's carer, he has vascular dementia as well as the usual problems associated with being eighty-five. I cannot leave him on his own but have a wonderful carer who comes in when I go out once a week. I also have to get up most nights so I'm not getting the sleep I require to function at 100%. In the past six weeks his condition has deteriorated and he needs me more than he did before. I don't know how much longer I will have him with me so he is now my priority.
Therefore, I'm no longer writing as much or feel unhappy if I've not written a certain amount by the end of the day. I don't check my sales, indeed I'm no longer disappointed that I'm not in the top one hundred writers any more.
I love writing and will never stop; as long as my brain allows me to work I will be publishing books every year until I die. However, I'm not driven as I was and I'm happier for it. Writing is an all-consuming passion if you let it be. A very good friend of mine told me she intends to write nine books a year – I'm going to be satisfied with whatever I can produce. In future I'll not agonise over my writing or consider myself a failure if I don't stick to a punishing schedule.
I am a writer and always will be, but in future I'm going to be kinder to myself, not set impossible goals and not feel guilty when I fail to reach targets.
I've written over fifty books in thirteen years – that's something to be proud of and something not many writers will achieve in their lifetimes.
I'm going to have a second hot chocolate and make my husband a coffee then watch rubbish TV and read a book. If I don't write anything at all today it no longer matters. To quote a family saying, "life's too short to stuff a mangetout."
Fenella J Miller



Friday, 23 June 2017

Dunkirk

Are you ready for Dunkirk? So are we! And we’re not just talking about Christopher Nolan's upcoming summer blockbuster movie. Beyond the major motion picture, there is Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Novel Sale.




Discounted Books for 99c each


40+ authors of the Facebook Second World War Club have joined together for the "Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Novels Sale". From July 21-27 (the opening week of “Dunkirk”), we will discount a selection of our books to 99c to bring you more riveting tales of WWII from around the world.

This is a great chance to discover some awesome WWII stories. To find out more, go to:
http://alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/

We have tons of fun and interesting online events planned including:


Prizes & Giveaways








Join us too for:

6/26     A viewing Dunkirk Promo Official Trailer

6/29     A viewing of the book trailer for “Girl at Dunkirk” by David Spiller

7/3       A viewing of the book trailer for “The Yankee Years” by Dianne Ascroft

7/5       A viewing of the book trailer for “45th Nail” by Ian Lahey

7/7       Our Authors’ Pick of the Top 40 WWII Movies of all times.

7/10     A viewing of the book trailer for “Unrelenting” by Marion Kummerow

7/13     A viewing of the book trailer for “Luzon” by Richard Barnes

7/14     The Book Speak Podcast reading of Roberta Kagan’s “All My Love, Detrick”

7/17     Part One of our special two-part blog series on Dunkrik by Suzy Hendersen

7/19     A viewing of the book trailer for “Eternal Flame” by Alexa Kang

7/21     Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Book Sale begins with The Book Speak Podcast reading of “The Girl at Dunkirk” by David Spiller

7/22    Part Two of our special two-part blog series on Dunkirk by by Jeremy Strozer

7/24    Movie review of Dunkirk by Alexa Kang



Bookmark this page and be sure you won’t miss out:  http://alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/







Thursday, 1 June 2017

New book and new directions.

Pre-order £1.99 $2.99
Today the third book in my Victorian, The Nightingale Chronicles series  – Better Bend Than Break – is available on preorder on Amazon. Hopefully from next week it will also be available on all the other platforms which means it isn't in Kindle Select. The other two books in the series will remain in this system until they come out in July and August.

Here is the blurb:
Better Bend Than Break is the third book in The Nightingale Chronicles, a series of four, Victorian family sagas. Sarah Nightingale marries Dan Cooper and becomes mother to his three boys. They move to a fine house of their own and Sarah has never been happier. Alfie Nightingale is obliged to do the right thing by Sarah's friend Betty, so now there will be two babies in the family. Then one disaster follows another and Sarah and Alfie have dreadful choices to make if they and their families are to survive.

Click here  

The final book in this series will be out next year. The title will be, All's Well That Ends Well. I shall start a second Victorian series sometime next year as these have been very successful for me.

I have decided, with some trepidation, to remove  my historical fiction from Kindle Select and put them on all available platforms. I was reluctant to do this before now as they were doing so well, but now things have changed it's time for me to change direction too.
I shall leave all my Regency books in Kindle Select and will give it a year or so and see if my decision was a wise one. The wonderful thing about being an indie publisher is that I have the choice and can take whatever direction I want. 
I wish I could follow the market the way some people do and write a book entitled "The Little Cupcake Club in Cornwall" but I write because it's what I am and I have to right the way I want to. I could also change the titles and covers of my Regency books – 85% of the top hundred books on Amazon have what used to be called "bodice ripper" covers. But again, the wonderful covers that JD Smith designs for me suit the style of my writing and I'm not going to change that either.
Seven years ago Amanda Grange and I started writing a book together. It was at her suggestion and I was happy to work with such a wonderful writer in whatever genre she suggested. The idea was that we wrote fifteen hundred words each and then passed it back. This was to be a young adult paranormal romance – something I would never have thought of attempting myself.
Unfortunately, Amanda wasn't comfortable writing this so handed the project to me. I then moved to my present address and it took me a further eighteen months to finish this book. I put it up and it sold nothing so I took it down again. It is the first in a five book series and as my Regency titles  were doing so well I didn't want to give up the time involved to write the other books.
However, things change, and so must I. I have just sent this re-edited book to a group of teenage beta readers and when I get there reports back I will do any necessary changes and write the second in the series. I want to have two books ready before I launch the first.
I'm also going to try an Amazon advertisement – everyone is telling me these are the way to go – but the other promotional things I've used have failed to produce satisfactory results so I was reluctant to start yet another "new" scheme. 
I am also joining in group promotions run by the talented and very helpful, Alexa Kang. I did an Instafreebie which gained me twenty new subscribers and I didn't even have the correct link. The next one is a massive book sale of Dunkirk-related books to coincide with the anniversary in July. I think one of the reasons that new younger writers are becoming the bestsellers on Amazon is because they are so much better at this marketing/media stuff.
I might even decide to send a title or two out to agents or publishers – something I vowed I would never become involved with again. 
The only way to remain visible in this overcrowded market is to be prepared to adapt and change. This becomes harder the older one gets – but I shall do my best.
I will be posting about this massive World War II historical fiction sale as soon as I get more details.
I can't believe it is June already – in three weeks time the nights will start drawing in. Just thought I'd mention that.
Fenella J Miller

Monday, 15 May 2017

Is there a solution to falling royalties?

As the weeks go by and my sales and page reads continue at 30% of what they were last year, I am forced to take stock of my options.
£2.99/$3.99 Amazon.
"myBook.to/WW2saga"
I threw everything I could think of at the publication of the first book in my Ellen's War series, Blue Skies & Tiger Moths, but it has still failed to gain traction with my readers despite having only four and five star reviews.
I am participating in a promotion to coincide with the anniversary of Dunkirk in July so am holding fire on doing anything else myself until after that.
I did a Book Bub advert, a Thunderclap, Book Viral, a Twitter campaign and all made no difference at all. A lot of time and money invested for no discernible return.
I am not the only writer seeing this unpleasant downturn – I've been contacted by several others who are in a similar position and, like me, are not sure how to improve things.
It is ironic that my writing is going better than it has for years when sales are so poor. I had got used to having a lot of disposable income and will now have to reconcile myself to having so much less, whilst doing so much more work.
As I have mentioned in a previous blog I don't think it is anything to do with the quality of my books it is that the amount of books available has more than doubled over the past four years whilst the amount of readers has not grown in tandem with this increase.
I'm just going to hang on in there in the hope that writing good books and publishing frequently will be enough for me to maintain the position I have at the moment. My rank both in sales and author on Amazon has remained about the same, which suggests that readers are spreading their buying over more authors. 305 of what I was earning is still reasonable - imagine how bad it is for those who were not in the same fortunate position as I was?
I published the third book in my Regency series, The Duke's Alliance, An Unconventional Bride, in February and this too has failed to become a bestseller which the previous two did. It  sold well enough to cover my costs and make me a reasonable profit but never really took off.
A close friend, also a Regency writer, someone who is on all platforms and not Amazon only as I am, has seen a huge surge in sales and has been a bestseller for several weeks with one of them. I think maybe it is time to try uploading some books on all the platforms.
£1.99/£2.99 Amazon
If anyone has any suggestions as to how writers in the same position as I am can claim back the lost ground then I would be delighted to hear them.
I am wondering if setting up a writers consortium, and then all publishing under the same label, might be the answer. By so doing those involved would be eligible for Amazon promotions and so on. What do you think? Is this a viable option?
Everyone says that growing one's reader subscription list is essential – but mine remains stubbornly around 800+ and every time I send out a newsletter I lose a few, which I slowly clawback.
I've decided I'm not going to go down the Facebook/Amazon/book bub adds route as they are expensive and time consuming and don't necessarily work.
So far this year I have written the two books already mentioned, the third book in the, Nightingale Chronicles, Better Bend Than Break, which will be out at the end of June. I have also written the fourth book in the Duke's Alliance series, An Accommodating Husband, and am 1/3 of the way through my contribution to Regency Romantics box set for the winter. I shall then write the second book in Ellen's War and the penultimate book in my Regency series. If there is time I shall write my spring contribution the Regency Romantics and start the fourth and final book in The Nightingale Chronicles.
As you can see I work very hard. I still consider myself fortunate as I love what I am doing and I get up every day eager to get on with the work in progress.
Fenella J MIller