Sunday 21 June 2015

Indian or British? The journal that inspired Victoria's War.

A (.com) (.uk)

I was inspired to write Regency books because I read Georgette Heyer as a teenager and later read Jane Austen's wonderful books. In latter years I watched the many Jane Austen adaptations that appeared on television and this spurred me on to write my own Jane Austen variations, as well as over thirty Regency stories. (.uk) (.com)
However, when I found my mother's journal about the time she spent in India with her father, my grandfather, I decided to write a historical family saga using her memoirs for authentic background and detail.
 The first part of Victoria's War, Shadows, uses a lot of my mother's actual descriptions of the India where she lived for two years between 1937 and 1939. I also made the decision to get her memoirs typed and transferred to my PC and then to publish them on Amazon.
The electronic version has been live since last week and I'm about to put up the paperback version with Create Space. I shall make a colossal loss on this project, but writers don't do everything in order to earn royalties – sometimes we write and publish books because they are important to us.
I wish I had known the woman who wrote this journal – maybe I would have liked her more. It was only when I discovered the manuscript, after my stepfather's death, that I also found a couple of other, more recently written, journals in which she had put that she had loved my brother and I.
I wish she'd been able to tell us how much she loved us when she was alive because, although she and my stepfather provided us with an interesting home, with no financial support whatsoever from my father, never once did she offer us any physical expression of her feelings.
I wonder what inspires other writers – is it an overheard conversation, a family photograph perhaps, or something else entirely?

Fenella J Miller

Saturday 13 June 2015

Alison Morton - Is social media any use?

Today I have the talented writer Alison Morton as guest on my blog. I asked for her view on social media as I know you seem to prefer this sort of post to just straight promotion. If you haven't read her first three books then you have missed a terrific read.
Over to you Alison:
Alison - looking rather scary.

Is social media any use?
Without the firm social media base built up over several years, I could not have launched my fourth book, AURELIA, last month. It’s that simple.

Dial back five years when I started mixing with book people – writers, editors, agents, publishers, literary consultants and commentators. I was still writing the first draft of my first book, INCEPTIO and quickly realised it would be a slog to make it known to readers. A website was obvious – I’d written and used them during my business career, but what else was there?

Although I had no published book to promote, I decided on World Book Day in 2010 to blog about my newbie journey as a writer. Shortly after, I plunged into Twitter then Facebook, both a little unwillingly.

But something unexpected happened - I fell in love with social media. Yes, it’s publicised my Roma Nova thriller series but more than that, I now enjoy talking to warm, witty, insightful and generous people on every continent. And many of these virtual friends and acquaintances have not only bought my books, but actively help me promote them to others.

What benefits do blogging, tweeting and posting bring?
Writing blog posts hones short-form writing skills like nothing else. Now, I have five years’ worth of posts on alternative history, writing life and craft and Roman life which readers can discover and hopefully enjoy; my post on the Antonine plague in the late second century is even used as a student resource! ;-)
Worth remembering:  your blog belongs to you, you control what goes on it and how information is presented.

Tweeting widens your reach, gives you the opportunity to connect instantly and discover useful articles that can help your career, find new books or just entertain you. Sophisticated tools like Tweetdeck allow you to reach people in other time zones with scheduled tweets. I like Twitter for building relationships and following trends and news as well as retweeting useful articles from other people and, very importantly, from my own blog. Other tweeters will retweet yours if you reciprocate; your book is then in front of their followers’ eyes.

Facebook allows you to contact people in specific interest groups and, in my case, to talk to my readers as well as to other authors and experts. Using an author page allows you to be more commercial and concentrate on your books and writing life without driving your non-author friends on your personal profile insane with book talk!

Amazon author sites are essential and simple to use; readers can find what other books their favourite author has written, watch trailers and check author events.

Goodreads, sometimes called ‘Facebook for readers’ runs an author programme where authors can promote their books. Most popular is the giveaways where authors can put their books before hundreds of readers and readers have the chance to win free signed paperbacks!

A few tips
Not a numbers game – Don’t count ‘scalps’ or pure numbers – all social media is a gradual business which accumulates and you should look for quality of your contacts, not quantity. Paid likes or followers aren’t worth it – they’re usually 14-year-olds in a bedroom doing it for pocket money.

Interact - You don’t have to follow everyone back, especially if you have no shared connection and they’ve popped up out of the blue. Have conversations as well as promoting your books; readers and authors are people first!

Have fun but be prudent – Once you’ve put something on social media, it’s in the public domain and can’t be withdrawn.

Facebook – If you receive a friend request from somebody you don’t know personally, check the subject matter on their page, their other friends, any mutual friends, the groups they belong to and their interests before accepting the connection. Just because your friends have accepted the request doesn’t mean the requester is abona fide person…

Content - Keep all posts specific, on message, entertaining and informative. Restrict promotional tweets to about 15% of your total tweets.

Bad master, good tool – Decide how much time you will spend on social media, and when, in the day and do not exceed it. It’s very alluring… I check each morning for posts in other time zones and to say good morning to fellow early risers, then allocate more time in the evening, which is when most of my contacts are about. 

Blogging – How often you blog is up to you, but once a week keeps readers’ attention. Posts of 600-800 words are best plus at least one picture. Regular blogging also gives you an opportunity to discuss research, host guests and highlight how your work is going – all interesting to readers.

Other social media are available, as they say – Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram – but I’d start with the ones I’ve mentioned.

In brief, what do social media deliver?
For me, it’s been, and is, support, insider knowledge, interaction with readers, reviews, sales, endorsements, strategic and personal friendships. And my ability to write succinct prose quickly and to deadlines has improved no end!

Alison Morton bio (AURELIA)

Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. Brought up by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to her that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. Everybody in her family had done time in uniform and in theatre – regular and reserve Army, RAF, WRNS, WRAF – all over the globe.

So busy in her day job, Alison joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment and left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever know or see. Or that she can talk about, even now…

But something else fuels her writing… Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women…

Now, she lives in France and writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines.

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series
– shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year
PERFIDITAS, second in series
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year
SUCCESSIO, third in series
– Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2014
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– Editor’s choice, The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014

Fact file:
Education: BA French, German & Economics, MA History
Memberships: International Thriller Writers, Historical Novel Society, Alliance of Independent Authors, Society of Authors
Represented by Annette Crossland of A for Authors Literary Agency for subsidiary and foreign rights.

Links (Please adapt to your preferred format!)
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova blog:
Twitter @alison-morton

Buying link (multiple retailers/formats):

AURELIA book trailer:

Monday 1 June 2015

Regency Quintet : Summer Edition

I am delighted to tell you that the second multi-author box set -  Regency Quintet - Summer Edition is now available on Amazon and this time you can use KU to download as well.
Sadly, Wendy Soliman was forced to drop out for personal reasons and we now have a great replacement writer - Monica Fairview.
All five of us are best-selling authors in this genre and we have a great selection of books for you to read.
Here are the blurbs:

Lord Orpington's Wager
 (A Reluctant Bride – Linford Romance 2009)
Fenella J Miller

Persuaded by her mother to act as chaperone to her godmother's daughter, young widow Patience Sinclair doesn't realise quite what is involved. Lady Orpington is perfectly capable of arranging her daughter's come out, so why is Patience needed? When she meets Lord Simon Orpington it all becomes perfectly clear. Their respective mothers intend them to make a match of it. And while Patience has no intention of marrying again, it seems that Simon has other ideas.

A Most Unusual Governess
 Amanda Grange

When poverty forces Sarah Davenport to take up a position as a governess, she finds herself in conflict with the arrogant but devastatingly handsome Lord Randall. When danger threatens, he is the only one she can trust.

An Improper Suitor
Monica Fairview

A lady in possession of an independent fortune has no need for a husband. Miss Julia Swifton, secure in that belief, has made no attempt to search for one, even after three seasons in London. That is until her grandmother, an advocate of women's rights, rises from her deathbed and threatened, of all things, to marry her to a notorious rake, Lord Thorwynn.Shocked into action, Julia launches into a search for an intelligent, scholarly husband who will suit her. On her way she has to rescue a fallen 'angel,' save a rake from being forced into marriage, defeat an unscrupulous gamesmaster who needs to seduce her for money, and avert a friend's disastrous runaway marriage.Fortunately, she does not have to do it alone. Even if her companion, Lord Thorwynn, is the last person she would ever want to marry.

Gentlemen in Question
By Melinda Hammond

A tale of romance, adventure and intrigue in Georgian England by an award-winning author.
In the closing months of 1792, the terror of the French Revolution forces Camille, the young Comte du Vivière, to flee his homeland and seek refuge with his relatives in England. For Madeleine, the arrival of her handsome French cousin marks a change in her so far uneventful existence and brings her into contact with the enigmatic Beau Hauxwell. Soon she finds herself caught up in a dangerous web of intrigue involving both gentlemen, but which one is the villain?

Seventh Heaven
Elizabeth Bailey

Septimus Berowne, poet, does not expect to succumb to the charms of wealthy Lady Louisa Shittlehope, although his brothers are eager to court her. Hampered by the shocking Berowne reputation, Septimus struggles to stop Louisa embroiling herself in his family’s affairs and keep her safe from his dissolute brother Quintus.
But the tribulations of the Berowne girls capture Louisa’s warm heart and she cannot help but interfere. Quintus strikes, involving Louisa and the Berownes in a madcap chase to rescue her love-struck ward. Will they be in time? Can Louisa brave Society’s disapproval to snatch at the promise of happiness?

Fenella J Miller  (.com)  (.uk)