Sunday, 18 January 2015

Outside The Box - seven critically acclaimed authors in one place.

I am delighted to welcome seven amazing writers to my blog today. They got together to produce a box set which will only be on sale for twelve weeks. 
Over to you:


Why we got together
Jessica: The main reason I approached these fabulous ladies to collaborate in a box set is because I admire their work, and adore them as individuals, and I couldn’t imagine collaborating with a finer group of writers. Each author in this box set are at the very top of their game; each book representative of quality fiction that explores a diverse range of unlikely heroines. I must say, I’m a little bit of a fan girl, and I can’t believe I have the pleasure of taking part in this project. It really is a dream come true.
Orna: Jessica Bell is one of my favourite authors and one of my favourite people. And the idea behind the collective she wanted to gather -- independent-minded, unconventional authors offering page-turning fiction about independent-minded, unconventional women - was irresistible. I hope the success of this project will encourage other writers who believe in their own work to collaborate and experiment together. The calibre of this collective meant I never doubted we'd put together a great book; what I didn't anticipate is that we'd have such great fun doing it. Indie authors rock!
Roz: For me, these writers are the real superstars of self-publishing. They're storytellers dedicated to their craft, who have proved their worth with awards, fellowships and, of course, commercial success. Each author here is in charge of her own artistic destiny, embracing the indie path as a statement of integrity, yet writing fiction that speaks to everybody. I'm utterly proud to be included.
Kathleen: I’m loving the idea of being with a group of women writers whose work I like and respect. Also intrigued by the contrasts and resonances that are set up when you put seven very different books and authors together. You know your work is going to be read by readers who wouldn't normally have bought it. There’s an edge to that - are they going to like it? Hate it? It’s very exciting.
Jane: Quite aside from the collaborating with a truly inspirational – and international - team of women writers, I’m really excited about the opportunity to showcase the diversity of writing that falls under the general fiction labels, ‘contemporary fiction’or ‘literary fiction’ for example. I am rather fond of Joanne Harris’ comment that she doesn't like to insult her readers by assuming they only like to read one type of fiction. We will not be insulting any readers. Within this set of seven books, we offer the full spectrum from light (although never frothy) to darker, more haunting reads that delve into deeper psychological territory.
Joni: Indie publishing is the new high ground for literary fiction. Maybe this is a US thing, but publishers here have gotten more and more gutless and lit fiction is getting very much of an ilk. Authors are pressured by agents and editors into tropes and style that sell -- and that's not a healthy state for the artists individually or the art form at large. Readers will find the true artistic risk takers and creative outliers in the indie world, where we captain our own fate - as artists must.
Carol: This is a small group of acclaimed indie authors whose work I hold in the highest regard. I love their varied ways of telling a story, and what each of them has to say about the lives of women. What unites the writers is their desire to craft their fiction to be the best it can be. This set of books will be thought-provoking and hugely entertaining. I’m thrilled to be part of it.

Blue Mercy by Orna Ross
Will you side with mother or daughter?
When Mercy Mulcahy was 40 years old, she was accused of killing her elderly and tyrannical father. Now, at the end of her life, she has written a book about what really happened on that fateful night of Christmas Eve, 1989.
The tragic and beautiful Mercy has devoted her life to protecting Star, especially from the father whose behaviour so blighted her own life. Yet Star vehemently resists reading her manuscript. Why? What is Mercy hiding? Was her father's death, as many believe, an assisted suicide?
Or something even more sinister?
Crazy for Trying by Joni Rodgers
This brave debut novel by bestselling author Joni Rodgers, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a Discover Award finalist. 
 Seeking to escape the shadow of her infamous mother—a radical lesbian poet who is larger than life, even in death—Tulsa Bitters, zaftig, bookish and freshly orphaned, takes a westbound train, determined to reinvent herself. She gets a job as a late-night disc jockey at a radio station in Helena, Montana. It’s 1979, and people aren’t accustomed to hearing a woman’s voice on the radio, but for Tulsa, far away from all the people who loved and hurt her, midnight rock’n’roll feels like home. Painfully aware that she’ll never be beautiful, she discovers the benefits of being invisible.
Michael White Wolf MacPeters, half Blackfoot, half raging Irish, hears her voice on the radio and finds himself on the phone with her one night. The conversation evolves, smart, funny, and full of compassion, and Mac begins a careful courtship, her voice in his ear, his voice in hers. Despite the baggage of his damaged past—from the suicide of his half-breed mother to his own bloody passage in Vietnam—Mac allows himself to believe it could work, but the unlikely romance is cause for horror among Tulsa’s friends and Mac’s drinking buddies.
 With love-struck energy and sharp-tongued tenacity, Rodgers loads up a tight circle of lovers, adversaries, dysfunctional family members and comically flawed friends, driving them down a fresh road through hard-earned love, a dangerous western solitude, and the old sexual politics.
My Memories of a Future Life by Roz Morris
If you were somebody’s past life…What echoes would you leave in their soul? 
 Could they be the answers you need now?
 It’s a question Carol never expected to face. She’s a gifted musician who needs nothing more than her piano and certainly doesn’t believe she’s lived before. But forced by injury to stop playing, she fears her life may be over. Enter her soulmate Andreq: healer, liar, fraud and loyal friend. Is he her future incarnation or a psychological figment? And can his story help her discover how to live now? A novel in the vein of The Time Traveller’s Wife, Vertigo and The Gargoyle, My Memories of a Future Life is much more than a 'who was I' tale. It’s a provocative study of the shadows we don’t know are driving our lives, from our own pasts and from the people with us right now. An examination of what we believe, what we create and how we scare and heal each other.
Above all, it’s the story of how one lost soul searches for where she now belongs.
The Centauress by Kathleen Jones
Bereaved biographer Alex Forbes goes to war-ravaged Croatia to research the life of celebrity artist Zenobia de Braganza and finds herself at the centre of a family conflict over a disputed inheritance. At the Ka┼ítela Visoko Alex uncovers a mutilated photograph, stolen letters and a story of indeterminate gender, passion and betrayal. But can she believe what she is being told? In order to discover the truth about Zenobia, Alex travels to Istria, Venice, New York and London and, in working through the narrative of Zenobia’s life, Alex begins to make sense of her own and finds joy and love in a new relationship.
An Unchoreographed Life by Jane Davis
New Thought Provoking Fiction from Award Winning Author, Jane Davis
Mother and daughter: the most precious bond in the world
At six years old, Belinda Brabbage has amassed a wealth of wisdom and secret worries. She knows all the best hiding places in her Worlds End flat, how to zap monsters with her pig-shaped torch and that strangers will tempt you into their cars with offers of Fizzy Fish. Even so, it’s impossible to know how to behave when you don’t really understand who you are. Mummy doesn’t like to be plagued with questions about her family but, when she isn’t concentrating, she lets small nuggets slip, and Belinda collects them all, knowing they are pieces of a complicated jigsaw.
Exhausted single mother Alison hasn’t been able to picture the future for some time. Struggling from day to day, the ultimatums she sets herself for turning her life around slip by. But there is one clock she cannot simply re-set. Deny it though she may, Belinda is growing up. Having stumbled across Alison’s portfolio that mapped her life as a prima ballerina, her daughter already has a clearer idea of who she once was. Soon she’ll be able to work out for herself who she is - and what she does for a living.
With options running out, Alison travels to London’s suburbs to consult a blind clairvoyant, who transports her to a past she feels exiled from. However unlikely they sound, his visions of pelicans and bookshelves appear to herald change. A chance meeting with an affluent couple affords a glimpse of the life Alison desperately wants for her daughter. But can their offer of friendship be trusted?
More 'What Maisie Knew’ than 'Belle de Jour’, Davis’s unflinching new novel of a mother who turns to prostitution is populated with a deeply flawed and inimitably human cast, whose tumultuous lives are shored up by carefully-guarded secrets.
One Night at the Jacaranda by Carol Cooper
One man dying of cancer. One struggling journalist. A group of single Londoners. One night that changes everything.
The trouble with speed dating is that three minutes can last a lifetime, and ever since he was diagnosed, Sanjay doesn’t have a lifetime to waste.
For one booze and hope-fuelled night, the lives of a group of 30-somethings criss-cross. As well as Sanjay, lawyer Laure, divorced doctor Geoff, beleaguered mother-of-four Karen and traumatised ex-con Dan all face each other across the Jacaranda’s tables in their quest for love, solace or amazing sex.
Undercover journalist Harriet is after a by-line, not a boyfriend. She’s a struggling freelance with a live-in lover, who unexpectedly has to choose between the comfortable life she knows and a bumpy road that could lead to happiness.
As Laure, Sanjay, Geoff, Harriet, Karen, Dan and the rest of the bunch discover, it’s not just about finding someone who’s dynamite between the sheets. It’s about finding yourself, and that’s not always where you expect.

White Lady by Jessica Bell:
Sonia yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she’s rehabilitating herself as a “normal” mother and mathematics teacher, it’s time to stop dreaming about slicing people’s throats.
 While being the wife of Melbourne’s leading drug lord and simultaneously dating his best mate is not ideal, she’s determined to make it work.
 It does work. Until Mia, her lover’s daughter, starts exchanging saliva with her son, Mick. They plan to commit a crime behind Sonia’s back. It isn’t long before she finds out and gets involved to protect them.
 But is protecting the kids really Sonia’s motive? 

We have a website www.womenwritewomen.com (there is a form to full in to win a digital goody bag)
Here is a link to our video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsR76VwcrNI
Link to pre-order on .co.uk
 
Amazon.com -  http://goo.gl/8jfFMS
 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Amazon – a delight or a disaster?

I was wondering how other readers and writers viewed Amazon. Since I started author-publishing in June 2012 things have changed dramatically.
When I first started, preparing your book for Kindle was quite challenging and took someone with low technical ability (like myself) a long time to master. Today the formatting is done for you and a file can be uploaded as word.doc or html – both seem to work equally well. Previewing your book is straightforward and one also has the option to download the file to your own Kindle before sending it to be published. This also wasn't possible in 2010 – I didn't even own a Kindle – I only bought one so I could see my books.
If you put your book in a free promotion in 2010 you could get tens of thousands of downloads and this immediately translated into a ranking figure and pushed your title into various charts – this flowed over into the paid charts when the book came off promotion. Today I don't do any free promotions – people who do report that they are lucky to get 1000 downloads, and this doesn't then reflect in the sales ranking as it used to.
Today there is another option – doing a book promotion where your royalty level remains the same, and you reduce the price as low as you can and then it increases in steps until it returns to the original price. Again the first few times I did this, when it was first available, I got excellent results – not so any more.
Then, from last July, Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited (KU) a subscription service for readers, and everything changed. From having around 60 or 70 borrows, I was now getting 10 times this amount. Then the UK and other European countries were added and my borrows doubled. As the majority of my books sell at between £1.50 and 73p , the royalty I receive per loan is far more than I would get for for a sale. My sales increased in pace with loans.
This sounds like Amazon's a delight and not a disaster. It certainly has been a delight for me, as my income has doubled over the past four months – and it was pretty good before that.
However, for some writers, both those whose books are not in the system and those whose books are, this has proved a disaster. I have been hearing reports that in some cases book sales have been reduced to a trickle and incomes dropped by as much as 75%. Also the writers who have seen these drops tend to be selling their books at well over £2, and this means that a borrow is less royalty than a sale.
There is often a drop in sales in the run-up to Christmas and first thing in January, but the drop some writers have seen is a downward trend since the introduction of KU.
In the UK VAT rose from 3% to 20% on January 1 which means writers  had to take a drop in royalty of 17% unless they put their prices up. Also it has seen the demise of the 77p book – I'm not sure that is a bad thing.
For me Amazon has been a life changing thing – three years ago I was a relatively unknown historical romance writer and today I can call myself a bestseller. I just hope that things even out for all those other writers who are suffering.
What do you think? Do you think that Amazon is being beneficial for writers or a disaster?
Fenella J MIller

Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy New Year – no resolutions but plenty of plans.

I hope you all had an enjoyable New Year celebration – I heard the fireworks from the comfort and safety of my bed.
I like January 1st as it is another chance to begin again, to set fresh tasks and forget past mistakes. I don't make resolutions but do make detailed plans for the forthcoming year. There is nothing I like better than ticking off things as I get them done.
Out 23rd January.
I was delighted by the way my career took off at the end of 2014, but don't expect this to last as the imposition of an extra 17% VAT on or my UK sales could well be disadvantageous – on the positive side, perhaps more people will subscribe to the Kindle Unlimited and borrow my books instead.
I managed to publish five new titles last year and republish eight other books and box sets.
My hope is to maintain this monthly output and I have a new Regency romance ready to come out on January 23rd – Lord Ilchester's Inheritance. I have written the first eight chapters of the second installment of the "Pemberley" series and this will be released in July.
Out February 14th
Amanda Grange, Wendy Soliman, Melinda Hammond and Elizabeth Bailey and I, – all friends and successful Regency writers – have a box set coming out in time for Valentine's Day. There will be more news about this nearer the time.
There will also be the first audio version of any of my books out sometime this year as I'm in the process of getting The Ghosts at Pemberley narrated. This is another new venture for me.
I have a two-part World War II historical novel written, and is being edited and proofed at the moment. Victoria's War was inspired by my mother's memoirs and the first part of the book is set in India in 1938. I shall also be publishing my mother's memoirs this year as well.
There will  be two further new Regency romances, one will be a Christmas themed novella, the other I have no idea about at the moment,
I have just joined a women only Gym and go for my induction session today – I intend to do this with my niece as we both want to get thinner and fitter this year.
Do you make resolutions and then break them within a week or two? Or do you, like me, make plans – which are more flexible – and stick to them?
Fenella J Miller