Friday, 23 December 2016

Christmas Greetings.

Another year gone by and six books to show for it. Already have my plans in place for 2017 - two more books in The Duke's Alliance series/ a third in The Nightingale Chronicles/ the first of three in  the Ellen's War series -Blue Skies and Tiger Moths + two 'duke' books and two Christmas stories.
Pre-order now.
Out 10th Janaury 2017

Search for a Duke (published by Robert hale in 2006 entitled A Suitable Husband) is now available on pre-order.

Someone is trying to murder Sarah Haverstock and her young son Edward. His tutor, and veteran of the Peninsular War, Captain Oliver Mayhew is the perfect man to protect them and root out the perpetrators. Oliver accepts the position with the intention of charming his employer into matrimony, the attacks giving him the perfect opportunity to further his aims.
Indeed, as the danger escalates, Sarah comes to rely on him more and more but before they can find the happiness they both seek, they must face the evil that stalks them...

I re-edited this book and was delighted that the story was still one of my favourites. A romance as always, but also a thriller.

Iwould like to thank my editor, RAchel bevan, my cover dsigner J D Smith and my friends for all thier support this year.
However, I wouldn't be in the position Im in wihtout th esuport of my readers. Thank you for buying my books and enjoying them.
Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.

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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

One Good Turn becomes Count Your Blessings

After a lot of thought I decided to take the radical step of changing the title of the book that had caused me so much anxiety and stress last month.
Although those readers who left one star reviews were justified in doing so, they didn't in fact lose out financially. What had happened was that I had taken down book one to change something on the front page and then the put up the file that contained both books.
Therefore those readers who were angry about getting a repeat of the second half of book one, actually got the same content as everyone else for the same price. Indeed, as the majority of them demanded their money back, they actually got the second book free.
By changing the title I have lost all the negative reviews and the book can start again. Unfortunately, this means losing all the five star reviews as well, but that can't be helped.
I am writing a third book in this series and it should be ready to be published in the summer – there might be a fourth book as well, but it depends on the sales of the third.
I've only ever changed the title of a book after publication once before and that was when I inadvertently used the same title as a friend's book.
 A few weeks ago I bought a book for my husband thinking it was another in the series and it turneed out to be the same book with a different cover. They refunded my money and postage -but I was disappointed.
I think it's quite clear Count Your Blessings is the same book as One Good Turn and hopefully no one will buy it in error.

Fenella J Miller

Friday, 4 November 2016

Christmas Box Set - around and around!

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Here we go again. I've now packaged three of my Christmas books in a box set at the bargain price of £0.99 & $0.99
If you haven't already read them then now's a good time to download them - three for the price of one.
The Regency Romantics box set is a best seller in tow categories - that's another bargain at £2.99 for six books -four of them new titles.

Christmas at Hartford Hall
( First published by DC Thomson in 2009)
A sweet Cinderella story – perfect for Christmas reading.
When Elizabeth's grandfather died, there was no sign of a will; and, devastatingly, she discovered she was now dependent on his heir. When the new Lord and Lady Hartford and their twin daughters arrived, they reduced her status to that of a servant. Elizabeth is determined to leave Hartford Hall in the New Year and find work as a governess. But the arrival of Sir James Worthington to make an offer for Lady Eleanor Hartford only leads to her difficulties....

Christmas at Highfield Court was previously published as Lord Atherton's Ward.
Extra scenes have been added to this book.
When their father, Sir John, dies leaving Sarah Ellison and her younger sister Jane orphaned, his choice of guardian is entirely disagreeable to Sarah – particularly with Lord Atherton's insistence that they leave their family home and move to Highfield Court to remain under the care of his mother. Will the spirit of Christmas work it's magic or will Sarah continue to alienate Lord Atherton with her headstrong behaviour or prove that she is a girl he can respect?

Christmas at Castle Elrick is a Regency fairy tale - Miss Verity Sanderson the beauty and Sir Ralph Elrick the beast. He was severely injured in the Napoleonic wars and has been brooding in his castle for years waiting for Verity to reach her majority and come to him. Her father had promised his daughter to Ralph in return for his financial support. Verity decides marriage to a wealthy stranger is preferable to remaining with her step-mother and half-sisters so sets off, the week before Christmas, to become his wife.
Castle Elrick is a cold, unwelcoming place situated on the bleak Northumbrian coast and Ralph and his small staff are not the only residents. Will Christmas be a celebration or will the ghosts of Castle Elrick force them apart?

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A Collection of 6 Regency Romances from Bestselling Authors

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The winter box set from Regency Romantics is now live and already in the charts. I love being part of this great group of fellow Regency writers and I'm sure you will all enjoy these books. Four of them, including mine, were written especially for this box set. There are also six books this time instead of five.

Here are the blurbs:

A Collection of Six Regency Romances from Bestselling Authors
One Night at the Abbey – Amanda Grange
When Miss Hilary Wentworth takes up an appointment at Carisbrooke Abbey, she finds it embroils her in a winter of mystery and romance. What secret haunts Lord Carisbrooke? And when Hilary uncovers it, can they find the love and happiness they deserve?
A Most Unexpected Christmas - Fenella Miller
Lydia Halstead has no desire to remarry or to attend social gatherings. However, she is persuaded to accompany her brother and his family to Fakenham Manor.
Lord Theodore Fakenham is not pleased to discover his mama has arranged a Christmas house party without his permission. This is not an auspicious start to the festive period.
An infestation of mice in the nursery, a riotous snowball fight and an accident in the study make for a very unexpected Christmas.
Dancing Through the Snow – Monica Fairview
Amelia Neville is convinced she has found the perfect husband, but unfortunate circumstances throw her into the company of the distrustful Duke of Sutcliff. Forced to attend the Duke’s Christmas house party by her matchmaking Mama, Amelia knows she’s going to hate every minute. But romance is in the air in the snowy landscape…. A traditional Regency romance with a touch of laughter.
Christmas at Castleray – Wendy Soliman
When Alisa Langdon and Chase Beaumont are invited to Castleray for Christmas, they expect a peaceful holiday. But instead they are attacked on the road and then Alisa’s servants are ostracised in the local village. Can Chase and Alisa discover who attacked them? And can Chase ignore his growing attraction to Alisa, who appears intent upon honouring her father’s dying wish by marrying her indolent stepbrother…
A Winter’s Madcap Escapade - Elizabeth Bailey
A stranger hiding in Lord Dymond's coach pitchforks him into a chaotic enterprise to protect young Apple from her own folly - much to her indignation!
The Duke's Christmas Bride - Melinda Hammond
Waldo, the fifth Duke of Charingden, shows no inclination to marry. In desperation his family invite a string of eligible beauties to the Christmas Ball at Birklands for him to choose from, but the only young lady to interest the duke is little Clara Tillotson, who is herself desperate to avoid being forced into marriage….. A sparkling Regency romance with just a touch of snow!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Christmas deliver - A Most Unusual Christmas

Out now - £1.50 $1.99

I love Christmas, but even so I always feel a bit premature putting up my Christmas title in September. However, as the Regency Romantics box set is coming out on October 9th I had no option, unless I was going to wait until November.
I love the cover by J.D. Smith – I'm sure her expertise is one of the reasons for my success.
Here is the blurb for the book:

Miss Cressida Hadley is delighted when Lord Bromley and his family are unexpectedly obliged to spend Christmas at The Abbey. Despite the fact that Lord Harry has a broken leg, her papa and the earl take an instant dislike to each other, the Dowager Lady Bromley drinks too much and her older brother, Richard has got into another scrape – Cressida is convinced she can overcome these difficulties and make the house party successful. However, she had not taken into consideration the fact that she might fall in love with Lord Bromley.

Just in case this isn't enough festive fun for you, I shall be releasing a box set with three previous Christmas titles in November.
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did writing it. It made me laugh out loud when I was editing it and that can't be bad.

Fenella J Miller

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Thursday, 1 September 2016

Book Reviews – how important are they?

I'm not sure that reviews are as essential as some people think as far as sales are concerned. Certainly, I am not influenced by a book having a few one and two star reviews as long as they have just as many four and five-star. What I find suspicious is when a book has fifty five-star reviews and nothing else. Neither am I influenced by a book not having more than a few reviews – I rarely leave a review myself – and I think a lot of readers feel the same. Too much of a chore to go through that process.
However, I have been turned down many times by BookBub and I can't think of any reason why this has happened unless it's because I don't have enough reviews for the book I've submitted. The only book they have accepted –Barbara's War – and goodness me, what a massive impact that had on my sales and income – had twenty reviews and now has double that. None of my other books have as many.
Therefore, I just paid for choosybookworm to put my book in their system. It was £100 to do this which is quite expensive, but fortunately I'm in the position to be able to speculate a little nowadays.
This is what they do:
you submit your book and they see if it's up to the standard they wish to promote.
they then, on the given day, send your book title etc to their thousands of subscribers and the subscribers decide if they want to have a free book in return for a fair/honest review.
they guarantee you will get 30+ reviews and keep putting your book out there until you have achieved that.
The reviewer has to put a disclaimer at the bottom of their review saying they received a free copy in return for a fair and honest review.
They sent me an initial list of ten names and already eight of them have responded and received the file.
My worry is that somehow this contravenes the rules on Amazon that reviews mustn't be paid for. Giving a reviewer a gift card to purchase the book contravenes the rules – I pointed this out to choosybookworm and they immediately changed my submission so that I was offering files rather than gift cards.
The reviewer isn't paid any money – I'm paying the facilitator. Does this count as a paid review or is it the same thing as sending an ARC?
I certainly wouldn't have invested so much money if I didn't think it might help me get a BookBub promotion for this book. I don't like to ask my readers at the end of the book to put up a review – I already have my free book  advert there, which a reader receives in return for signing to my subscribers list. I think that's more than enough.
It remains to be seen if this works and when I have 40+ reviews I actually get accepted for a BookBub promotion. It's always possible I've been turned down another reason.
What do you think? Is this breaking the rules or an excellent opportunity for writers to get those extra reviews?
Fenella J MIller

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Miss Peterson and the Colonel

This book is on pre-order until 25th - it already has a 2* review left over from it's previous publication by Musa in 2012. These low reviews are always on the US site - I think a lot of American readers aren't in tune with English writing.
I've put up two covers images - can you spot the difference? Jane Dixon-Smith and I didn't and Amanda Grange had to point it out. The incorrect version was replaced the same day.
This is the last of my long back list - going to be hard to publish something every month, apart from December, in future.
Here is an extract from the opening of the book:

Lydia grabbed at the strap as the carriage tilted but failed to stop her undignified slide into the well. Her maid landed heavily on top of her. For a moment she lay winded, unable to move.
'I beg your pardon, miss, I couldn't stop myself from falling.'
'It's not your fault, Martha. I think we must have broken an axle. I sincerely hope the horses are unharmed.' With some difficulty she extricated herself and stood up. 'At least we are both in one piece. If I balance on the edge of the seat I believe I might manage to open the door.' She attempted the manoeuvre and the coach rocked alarmingly.
'Please don't do that, Miss Peterson. You'll likely have us right over.'
'Why doesn't Jim come to our aid? Do you think he's taken a tumble from the box. As Billy has gone ahead to order our refreshments he cannot assist. I must get out.'
This time her struggles sent the coach crashing right over. Her world turned upside down, her legs and arms became entangled with Martha's and it was several minutes before she was able to get both of them upright. The doors were now the floor and ceiling, the squabs pointing into the air. The sound of her precious horses panicking meant she had no option. If she did not get out and release them from the harness one would likely break a leg.
Martha screamed and pointed down. Lydia saw water seeping in through the door that now acted as the floor. They must have turned over into the ditch that ran alongside the road. 'Hold onto something, Martha. I think if I could step on your knee I might reach the door handle somehow.'
Her smart travelling ensemble was ruined, the hem already saturated with muddy water and her spencer in no better case. Her lovely new bonnet was hanging in disarray around her neck. Her sister had been most insistent she dressed in her best to meet the colonel, as the much longed for visitor was to arrive today as well. She was not going to impress anyone now.
The whinnying and stamping from the team had stopped. Was this a good or bad sign? Before she had time to consider, the door above her head was slammed back and a gentleman appeared in the space. His features were indistinct, but from his voice he was obviously well-to-do.
'Why couldn't you stay still, ladies? You have turned a minor accident into a major disaster. I have released your horses and attended to your coachman, however, now that you've managed to tip the carriage over there is nothing I can do to get you out without assistance. You must stay inside.'
The incredibly rude gentleman vanished as suddenly as he'd appeared, leaving Lydia up to her boot tops in freezing water. 'Come back here this instant, sir. You cannot abandon us in here.'
He slammed his fist against the carriage and shouted back. 'I cannot right the vehicle unaided, and can't pull you out through the door. You will come to no harm, the ditch is shallow, I shall be back as soon as I can.'
Then he was gone, only the sound of hoofbeats echoing in the cold winter air to keep her company. This was no gentleman. He had callously left her and Martha without making a serious attempt to rescue them. He could be gone hours. What about poor Jim possibly unconscious on the side of the road?
She would not remain incarcerated a moment longer.
'Martha, let me stand on your knee. If you brace yourself against the seat I'm certain I can scramble out.'
'It's a good thing you're not as short as me, miss. I'd not reach if I tried.'
With her maid as a stool, she grasped the edges of the open door. 'Martha, give me a push.'
Her feet were grasped firmly and she rose steadily. Throwing herself forward, she tipped headlong through the door and slithered, skirts and petticoats flying, down the side to land with a thud in the road. 'I'm out, Martha. I shall come back to you in a moment. I must check on Jim and the horses first.'
Three of the team were standing dejectedly in the shelter of the hedge that bordered the lane. There was no sign of Jim and the fourth horse. Good grief! The wretched man had used the lead horse to convey her coachman. Surely it would have been better to wait until a cart could be brought round?

Too late to repine. She must get Martha out and her precious chestnuts to shelter. The White Queen could be no more than two miles away; that must be where her would-be rescuer had gone for help. The thought of him returning and castigating her a second time prompted her to take matters into her own hands.

Hope you enjoy it,

Fenella J Miller

Monday, 1 August 2016

Not all bad news then!

So much has been going on in the world these past few weeks that it's almost a relief to be in August.
Britain voted to leave Europe – I certainly didn't – and since then the prime minister resigned and Teresa May took over. Brexit will certainly take place but how this will affect things in the future nobody knows.The rise in hate crimes has been horrific– which was one of the reasons I voted remain.
For me, on a purely selfish note, I'm financially better off. I get more than 50% of my royalties from abroad and, with the British pound being so low, I'm getting considerably more at the end of each month. Mind you, when the dollar was low and the pound was buoyant I lost out.
America has also seen extraordinary political upheavals. Hillary Clinton, who I like, has gained the Democratic nomination but Donald Trump has got the Republican one. How could this happen? I just hope that the American public have more sense than 51% the British people did in the referendum and elect Hillary Clinton.
On a personal front my husband, who has vascular dementia,  had a couple of health scares. I'm glad to say that he's bounced back and his GP, when he visited the house, didn't seem to think he was in any immediate danger of a major stroke which was what I feared.
The weather has been tropical the past few weeks and my tiny garden now looks splendid.
So – not all bad news then!
Best wishes
Fenella J Miller

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Thunderclap - is this a good tool for authors?

The final book in the Nightingale Chronicles series.
Out July 28th .
 A writer friend of mine, Jane Holland, asked me to participate in her Thunderclap campaign. I've never heard of this but was happy to help. It's usually a tool for good causes but is occasionally used for books as well.
I thought I'd try for my next book – the second and final part of The Nightingale Chronicles – One Good Turn.
So far I've only managed to gather just over 50% of the required one hundred supporters. I'm sure I've got more friends than that so I don't know why they are so reluctant to sign up.
I then discovered from two of them that they didn't want to allow Thunderclap access to their Facebook account. I tried to explain that this was no different to allowing a friend of a friend to post on their timeline – that it was a once only permission – but I don't appear to have convinced enough people that this is the case.
I'm not sure what else to do to encourage some of my thousand friends on Facebook/ thousand twitter followers and six hundred and eighty subscribers to my e-list to take the plunge.
The first book in the Nightingale Chronicles series
On the plus side I do seem to have gained more pre-orders than I expected so perhaps people who didn't want to sign for the Thunderclap have done this instead.
I had significant success putting the first book in my "At Pemberley" series free, with sales of the other two books going from almost non-existent to pleasing.
I put "For Want of a Penny" free last week so don't know if the extra pre-orders were the result of that or because of the Thunderclap campaign.
I believe that Sir John Betjeman once said, "I'll try anything once apart from incest and horseriding."
I'm with him on the first but not the second.
I feel a bit like that about all the new promotional innovations that are now available to writers. I believe there is something called tumblr and instagram but I've no intention of trying those.
Here is the link to my Thunderclap campaign:
Click here
 Fenella J Miller

Friday, 1 July 2016

A Spy at Pemberley – and other random thoughts about writing a series.

£1.99 & $2.99
A Spy at Pemberley is now live and selling quite well– thank you if you have already downloaded it. This is the final book in this series and I'm quite happy to leave Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice characters to get on with their lives without any further interference from me.
I've enjoyed writing these three books, but I think that the first Jane Austen variation that I did – Miss Bennet & Mr Bingley – is the closest to her style. I'm just re-proofing this and I seem to have the rhythm and language much closer to the original than in A Spy at Pemberley.
I'm not sure which I prefer. Today's readers love the characters but I'm not sure they enjoy the old-fashioned syntax as much. Certainly most of the books I've read in this genre are more modern in their language.
I have now written four series. Barbara's War – the most successful so far – has three books in it and I suppose could be called a historical family saga. As the title indicates Barbara is the main character throughout the series.
Then there are two, two book series. Victoria's War – again a historical family saga – and The Nightingale Chronicles. This is also a family saga, but a Victorian one, and follows a brother and sister, Alfie and Sarah.
The fourth series is still being written. This, The Duke's Alliance, will be six books. In each one of the six siblings of the Duke of Silchester is featured. The first two were published this year and I hope to get a third one out in December. The only character that features in each book is the duke himself and his story will be the final one.
I've also just started writing the first book in the fifth series – Ellen's War – which will follow her life as a female ferry pilot in World War II. These brave women (and men) delivered aircraft all over the British Isles for the RAF. They flew with no instrument training and had to rely on a compass and map to find their way about the country. They could only fly in reasonable weather and were not allowed to go above the clouds. This will also be a three book series.
The only individual title that I've written this year is my Christmas book – it will go into the Regency Romantic's boxset – and I'm rather missing the freedom of writing a single title book. I'm really enjoying writing the duke series as I'm not restricted to the same characters or settings.
I found the Barbara's War trilogy much more tricky as I had to keep referring back to make sure I hadn't changed my colours/names/ages.
Both traditional publishers and indie publishers seem to be producing as many series as individual books. This must be because readers prefer them. I certainly love the Lee Child books and all Bernard Cornwall's historical series. Christian Cameron, another favourite of mine, seems to be writing four or five different series simultaneously – I'm not sure I could juggle so many sets of characters at one time.
Do you prefer to read a series or a single title? If you write – do you write more individual titles than series?
Fenella J Miller

Monday, 13 June 2016

Jane Jackson - The Master's Wife

Pre-order now.

 Today I am welcoming Jane Jackson to my blog. Over to you Jane - tell us about yourself and your book.
I was moved to Cornwall when I was two. We lived in the nursery wing of a large mansion near Tregony until we moved to the village near Falmouth that has been my home ever since. Our house, three floors high, made of bricks that had been used as ship’s ballast, and with iron bars on the top windows, was one of a terrace of three constructed by a Captain Garland who built them as a curse on those who had refused him permission to extend his own house.
As far as my mother was concerned, the only curse was the primitive facilities: no mains water (this was obtained from the pump in the middle of the street), no electricity upstairs, a tin bath on a nail outside the back door, a Cornish range for cooking, and an earth closet toilet fifty yards up the garden. When my father arranged to have mains water laid on in the village, the local people complained bitterly. They didn’t like the taste!
My mother was an avid reader, and when I was three, she taught me a long poem to recite to my father on Valentine’s Day. I can still recall it word for word. I could read by the time I was four, and so began my passion for stories. We had a dressing-up box, and when friends came to play, I would make up stories that we acted out. I adored acting, and because I had a good memory (for learning lines!) often took the lead in the school plays. English was my favourite subject at school, and I loved writing compositions. I also helped win the inter-house cup for poetry recitation and prose readings, though this did not make for an easy life.
But gradually writing took over from performing. I was – and still am – fascinated by the whole process of creating the world of the story and characters who come alive as they cope with the dramas I create for them.
I left school at sixteen, and after working as a sales assistant in Boots, an insurance clerk, a police cadet, and a library assistant, I married. Sadly, the marriage failed. And at twenty-five, a single parent with two young children and an ulcer that meant I couldn’t work, I started to think about writing again. After taking correspondence courses in writing for radio and TV, and journalism, I realized that what I really wanted to do was write novels.
I remarried and had a son. But though my career blossomed, the marriage didn’t, and my confidence in myself, and my writing, disintegrated. It took a couple of years to get myself together. And after several false starts that really tested my courage and self-belief, I returned to my passion, historical fiction. In 1992 I married again – a triumph of hope over experience, but definitely a case of third time lucky. My three children are happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults. Having a doting husband, six lovely grandchildren and the best job in the world, I consider myself truly blessed.

 Passionate about history and my home county of Cornwall, I combine the two in writing historical romantic fiction. Three titles have been short-listed for major Awards.  Originally published in hardcover, large print and audio, all have been reissued by Accent Press as ebooks and in paperback.

The Master’s Wife

Jane Jackson

Second in ‘The Captain’s Honour’ series.  
Set in 1882: This is a sequel to The Consul’s Daughter set 1874 but can be read as a stand-alone book.

When Caseley and Jago Barata’s two young sons die in an epidemic while he’s away at sea, her grief and his guilt create an unbridgeable chasm between them.
Believing he failed Caseley when she needed him most, Jago cannot turn to her for comfort. Seeking escape from his guilt he takes up with his former mistress, devastating Caseley when she finds out.
Aware of Jago’s undercover work in Spain, and deeply anxious that increasing unrest in Egypt could lead to war, the British Treasury asks him to carry £20,000 in gold to Egypt to bribe the largest Bedouin tribe to take Britain’s side. 
Ambitious to make Egypt more like Europe, Khedive Said and his nephew Ismail had raised money for their grandiose but poorly-planned schemes through crushing taxation.  When that wasn’t enough, they took out huge loans at high interest rates from British and European banks. 
By 1876 Egypt faced bankruptcy.  Anxious to protect its 44% share in the Suez Canal, Britain demanded – and was granted- joint financial management of Egypt with France. Ismail was deposed in favour of his son Prince Tewfiq, and left for exile in Naples on a train loaded with gold, objets d’art, jewels and furniture. 
The poorest Egyptians saw little improvement in their lot. They toiled for overseers employed by large landowners and too often had to choose between buying seed for their own small plots, or a length of cloth to replace the rags that were all they had to wear. 
Wilfully blind to their own part in fuelling the upsurge of anger, the ruling elite refused to believe that the fellahin would ever rebel. But the Egyptian poor, who did not want their country ruled by Turks or by Europeans, had found a charismatic leader in Egyptian-born Col. Ahmed Arabi. 
Jago’s mission to Egypt would take him away from home for at least three months. Desperate to escape a house filled with memories and the pity she faced every time she ventured into town, Caseley pleads to go with him.  When he refuses out of concern for her safety she points out that for her the worst has already happened so what has she to fear? She reminds him the official language in Alexandria is French. She speaks it. He doesn’t. if only for this he needs her. 
Their journey into the gathering storm echoes their struggle to find a way forward from the loss that shattered their lives.  

‘The Master’s Wife’  ebook pub Accent Press £2.99  27th June.
Available for pre-order at:

For more info about my books (with excerpts) please visit my website at:

Monday, 6 June 2016

Ellie Holmes – taking the indie route with her debut novel – The Flower Seller

 Today I'm delighted to welcome Ellie Holmes to my blog. I read her book, The Flower Seller, ten years ago and thought it a wonderful read. However, like many new writers, Ellie was unable to find a traditional publisher for this book even though she had a top agent on her side. Therefore she has decided to go the indie way and I'm sure she'll be very successful.

Ten years ago I dreamed of being published the traditional way, vanity publishing aside, it was the only option available. With the ink still wet on my contract with a London literary agent, I was full of optimism.
The Flower Seller came close to securing a deal with a couple of publishers but ultimately I lost the slot to other more established authors with proven track records or the money men shook their heads.  Other near misses with future novels followed and then the world started to change.
I read “Self Printed The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing” by Catherine Ryan Howard and decided to leap into the unknown. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly.  Burning bridges is never pleasant. But in my heart of hearts I knew it was the right decision for me. How much longer did I wait for a trad deal? What if it never came? Better to regret the things that I have done than to regret the things I never had the courage to try. And so I began my journey through the dark forest of self-publishing.  It was an unfamiliar and scary place full of traps for the unwary. There were so many new terms to learn, so many new skills to acquire, so much knowledge to soak up and try to retain.
What have I discovered on the way? That the self-publishing community is a friendly and encouraging group of people.  I have found the Alliance of Independent Authors   phenomenally supportive and informative. The blogs and articles so generously written by Alli’s contributors have been invaluable to a newbie like me.
I wanted The Flower Seller to be the best quality book it could be so I took time to get the edits right and I hired a professional editor, proofreader and cover designer.  I particularly wanted an eye catching cover that would appeal to readers and stand out and Berni Stevens certainly delivered 
The Flower Seller finally went on sale on 2nd June. It’s been a long time coming but all the more sweet for that.
Many years ago I thought the road to publication ran in a straight line and for some it does.  My route was a little more circuitous - more country road than motorway.  You could say I took the scenic route! I am glad I did – I am a better writer as a result. 
And just to prove you never know what might happen next, as I was putting together The Flower Seller for publication, I sold my first piece of work to a trad publisher. I’m used to those kind of kinks in the road now.

 Ellie Holmes writes full length commercial women's fiction with a touch of romantic suspense and romantic mystery novellas - books that have heart and soul with a dash of danger. Ellie takes her inspiration from the beautiful Essex countryside and the sublime Cornish coast. Romantic and engaging, Ellie's style of writing will draw you in and keep you turning the pages. Heart-warming stories and compelling characters will stay with you long after you close her books.  The Flower Seller is Ellie’s debut novel.

Twitter @EllieHWriter

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Conflicting opinions and statistics – who are we to believe?

Today there was another post from someone or other who thinks that all indie publishers should be herded into a corner and shot. (I'm deliberately not naming this particular person.)
No – that's obviously not true – but he does suggest all titles from indie publishers should be removed from the bookshelves of bookshops and libraries and put in a separate section. This, he states, will be of benefit to everyone as readers can then make an informed choice about their reading.
He goes on to state categorically that the majority of indie published titles have no editing, unprofessional covers, and more often than not, set out to deliberately deceive the reader. They do this by putting a link to the end matter in the book so Amazon will think the reader has finished the book.
Of course there are scammers, I talked about them in my last post, but I don't know of any writers who do this.
He states there are so many bad indie titles available they are swamping the market and this is why the sale of e-books is going down. He also says indie writers are unprofessional because they don't buy ISBNs for their books.
Readers are not stupid and don't buy books they don't like. They search for books in a category and then refine their search by the quality of the cover and the blurb. A lot of them will then use the "look inside" facility on Amazon and only then buy the book.
I don't know any indie writer who doesn't employ an editor, proofreader and professional cover designer. The majority of us buy in the services that would be supplied by a traditional publisher and quite often get a far better job done. The number of typos and formatting mistakes I find in traditionally published books now is horrific.
We price our books to sell – that's why we now have more than 50% of the market. I'm pleased that paperback sales from Amazon are growing again – that's good news for everyone.
The reason the statistics appear to show a decline in e-book sales is because very few indie publishers buy ISBNs. They are unnecessary, costly and not worth the effort. Only books with an ISBN are counted in the Nielsen statistics which is why they are erroneous.
Data Guy uses the correct information and his figures are much more reliable. He looks at the e-books in the 'bestsellers' lists of each category and then uses that information. Sensibly he doesn't care who they are published by when he's doing his overall results. However, he does analyse the publishers as well and puts this in a different group of graphs,
In conclusion I'd like to say to this blogger that, not only are his facts incorrect, but both the tone and the inference of his post are offensive.


This is our summer box set containing five books from best selling and award winning Regency writers. Two of the stories haven't been published before.

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Duke's Alliance – A Dangerous Husband – the second book in the six books series.

The first book in The Duke's Alliance series – A Suitable Bride – did amazingly well and I want to thank all of you who downloaded it. For those who haven't, it's a stand-alone story about Lord Sheldon, the Duke of Silchester's brother, and his whirlwind romance with Grace.
The second book is now available on pre-order and will be released on 26th May. A Dangerous Husband is action packed and charts the romance between Lady Madeline, the duke's oldest sister, and Lord Carshalton. This too is a stand-alone story and the charismatic duke, Beau, also features in this book.
The third book, which I shall write in the autumn to be released in January 2 017, will be about Peregrine, the eldest twin. This will be entitled A Widowed Bride.

Here is the blurb:

Lady Madeline Sheldon has no intention of making a precipitous marriage like her older brother Bennett. However, she has no objection visiting Lord Carshalton and his grandmother when the opportunity arises. His lordship is only recently returned from the Peninsular where he was serving as an intelligence officer for Wellesley.
Grey isn't looking to set up his nursery – he is more concerned with re-establishing a connection with his estranged relatives whose existence he did not know about until he inherited the title. Lady Carshalton is staying with him in order to get to know her grandson – the only child of the son from whom she had been estranged for thirty years.
Someone is trying to kill Grey and he believes it to be associated with his time in the military. The first attempt was made whilst he was still serving and the danger appears to have followed him to Hertfordshire. Madeline is dragged into his treacherous world by events beyond her control and she is almost relieved when her brother, The Duke of Silchester, tells her it's too dangerous to be involved with Lord Carshalton. She is finding him rather too attractive for comfort.

She and Grey are obliged to enter into a temporary engagement and this puts Madeline in the line of fire. After another attempt on his life Grey is forced to leave the area and she has to go with him. They are to stay at Blakely Hall, his ancestral home, until the danger has passed.
Somehow danger follows them. Beau, the duke, discovers how the culprit is and sets out in a desperate race to save both his sister and Lord Carshalton.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Amazon scammers – can they be stopped?

I was shocked to read that Amazon scammers have come up with an ingenious way to steal money from the authors in the KOL programme.
I'm sure that most of you already know about this but I will attempt to give you a brief explanation of what they've been doing.
The success of this scam rests on the fact that Amazon don't actually know how many pages a reader reads in order to pay per page – all they know is where the reader stopped and they pay the author for those pages.
The scammers have been producing books with three thousand pages and only the first fifty or so are actually part of a book, the rest is gobbledygook. They then invite the reader to click to the back of the book in order to be in with a chance to win something fabulous. This then shows in the Amazon algorithm as the reader having read all three thousand pages. The only cost to the scammer will be for the covers and the payments to the people who do the clicking. They also have to set up a couple of Amazon accounts. They put up twenty-five different versions of the same bogus book – they make them free as soon as they are loaded which means they don't get the same scrutiny of a paid book.
The scammers pay people in less regulated countries to borrow twenty-five books a day and click  to the end of each. They keep these scam books live for four days and then remove them before the complaints reach Amazon, and then sit back and wait for the money to roll in.
According to reports they can make $60000 a month doing this . Although complaints have been made to Amazon they have been ignored until this began to impinge on the royalties of some big-names.
Someone suggested a relatively simple solution. This being that Amazon should limit each subscriber to the KOL system to 14 books a week, thus instantly removing  the scammers.
I hope that they set this in motion immediately. The fact that the money lost was money that should have gone to authors and not Amazon  is probably why they haven't bothered to step in up to this point. It would appear that some of the scammers have actually been earning author bonus payments – that is truly disgusting.
The previous system of paying a set amount for each borrow after 10% of the book had been read was changed because of a different scam, as well as the fact that authors complained it discriminated against those that wrote longer books. These scammers – probably the same ones who are doing the current one – published books only a dozen pages long and the front matter was more than 10% of the contents so they always got their payment.
I expect that when this new scam is stopped something else will replace it, but I can't believe it will be as costly to the authors of this particular one is.
I'm hoping that now big-name authors have become involved Amazon will move fast to close the loophole.
 Fenella J Miller

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Good Murungu? A Cricket Tale of the Unexpected.

For a change I'm hosting a cricket book written by Alan Butcher.
I met him at a tea shop several months ago and promised to feature his autobiography when it came out.
I've not read it yet - but am looking forward to doing so, If it's as interesting as the writer then it will be an excellent read.

Alan Butcher was looking for a new challenge after leaving his job coaching Surrey County Cricket Club. A phone call out of the blue from a Zimbabwean great alerted him to the possibility of coaching the nation's cricket team. His three years in charge presents an insight into the at times schizophrenic nature of cricket in this intriguing country.
Starting at the point when Butcher was offered the job he describes the process of moulding a team out of a dispirited and disillusioned group of players. Part cricket memoir, part travelogue; part love song, part lament for a beautiful but troubled country, The Good Murungu? is a must read for fans of any sport.

Alan Butcher has spent over 40 years in professional cricket as player and coach. He played county cricket for Surrey and Glamorgan and represented England in one Test match and one ODI. Following coaching spells with Essex CCC and Surrey CCC he became Zimbabwe coach in 2010. Better known nowadays as Mark Butcher’s father, this is his first book.

Friday, 1 April 2016

I'm a believer!

£1.99  & $2.99
Everyone had been telling me about the wonders of a Bookbub promotion – that it would be career changing if I was lucky enough to be able to get on to their list.
It would appear that for every thousand applicants only one hundred are taken on.
I was distinctly dubious – how could spending £300 in order to give away thousands of books help my career?
However, I decided to apply and, to my astonishment, Barbara's War, the first in my three book series, was accepted. £267 was a little less than I'd been anticipating, but still a huge amount of money to invest on the off chance of getting noticed in the States.
Over a period of twenty-four hours I had thirty-two thousand downloads in America, five thousand in the UK and three thousand elsewhere in the world.
The book went to number one on the free book chart on Amazon in America. I couldn't believe it.
What was even more gratifying was that I sold enough copies of the other two books in the series, also in America, to pay for the promotion.
I also got forty new subscribers to my e-list and I'm hoping that there will be more reviews forthcoming as well.
I'm definitely a believer in the efficacy of Bookbub. I shall  apply to have another of my World War II books put into the system in a couple of months time.



Fenella J Miller

Monday, 14 March 2016

Have the changes in publishing been positive or negative for writers?

As always my mid month post is not about my books but a reflection piece. I don't know how many of you are aware of the fact that the last figures that came out showed indie writers having 45% of e-book sales on Amazon and the big five having only 23%.
If you look at the graphs you will see a steep rise in the sale of indie books and just as steep a decline in books put out by the big five publishers. The smaller presses are just about holding their positions. This means that those who were fortunate enough to get a contract with Orion etc have seen a dramatic fall in net income from e-books. The sale of paper books seems to have increased rather than fallen for the big five – so not all bad news for those with contracts with them.
Indie e-books are, on the whole,  a fraction of the cost of those published by the big five. They are also, on the whole, indistinguishable from those put out by traditional publishers. I suppose there are still some new writers who don't understand the necessity of having a professional cover/edit/proof read for their books – but the days of thousands of unreadable e-books being produced has long gone.
Amazon has now introduced a control mechanism were if a reader complains about errors in an indie book they will ask the writer to correct his mistakes or the book will be removed. Let's hope this doesn't lead to trolls using this tool to cause headaches for writers they have taken an unwarranted dislike to.
Being a published writer has never been easier. It's no longer necessary to have an agent or a mainstream deal in order to get your books in front of readers. I see the role of an agent having to change over the next few years or they will disappear completely.
Already publishers are asking hopeful writers to submit a sample on a website where their editors can browse and pick up anything they think might be a possibility. I believe that one or two agencies are also using this method – this will mean that the dreaded slush pile will be a thing of the past.
Samhain, a well-respected e-publisher, has collapsed and I know of several writers who got their main income from them. This is because a publisher can't match the low prices of an indie writer's e-books.  Readers want cheap books and a steady supply from the writers they like. An indie-writer can publish four or five new titles every year whereas a traditional publisher will probably only bring out two from any author.
So – do I think things are changing the better? When I started self publishing four years ago not many people were doing it and this gave me a head start. The fact that I had such a long back list meant I could put up a new title most months and this is crucial if you want to succeed in this buyer's market.
When I put up my first three box sets, again several years ago, this was also a brand-new concept and I was selling almost 1000 a week. Now everyone is doing it and unless you price very low you don't sell many.
Last year I got together a brilliant team of Regency writers and we produced three box sets. Again the first two did fantastically well but by the time the third one came out other writers had jumped on the bandwagon and our sales plummeted.  It's possible to get a ten author box set for less than a dollar – so why would a reader by ours at $3 for five books?
Small publishers are going bust because they can't compete with indie-writers. This makes it harder and harder for a new writer to get a foothold with a traditional publisher. Unless a writer has been through the process of professional editing etc with a traditional publisher it can be difficult to know exactly how to produce their own books.
This means there are hundreds of thousands of hopeful writers producing books themselves and the market is now flooded. In order to make in any sort of impact, and any sort of living, you have to be a social media expert as well as having written a riveting story.
Most of the writers I know in my main genre, Regency, have seen a sharp downturn in sales over the past couple of years. Their author ranking might well have remained the same, but their slice of the pie is now much smaller as there are so many excellent writers putting out a regular supply of books.
I'm maintaining my position, but only because I produce something new every month. Of course only half the things I release are new – six new books a year is my limit. I know that as soon as I stop writing so prolifically my income will fall.
Now to answer the question. "Have the changes in publishing been positive or negative for writers?"
For me I can answer with a resounding yes – but I am one of the lucky ones. For those dreaming of breaking into the traditional publishing arena it's become far more difficult. The steady demise of traditional publishers and e-publishers cannot be good for any of us.
What do you think? If you are just starting out today would you be searching for an agent and traditional publisher or heading down the  self-publishing route?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The Duke & Miss Bannerman

£1.50 $1.99
The Duke & Miss Bannerman is my offering for March. This book was first published by Musa – now defunct – several years ago and hasn't been available for sale for a couple of years.
I was horrified to discover how many inaccuracies and errors were in the book considering it had been edited professionally and proofread.
I was new to indie publishing in those days and thought that if the book had been proofread by a professional then I didn't need to do it again – how wrong was I!
Throughout the book I had referred to the duke as 'Lord Bentley' which is totally wrong and should have been picked up by my editor. There were also dozens of other minor errors which have now been corrected.
In a way it's a relief to know that despite my decrepitude I am still learning and improving my craft.
The book was also released as a pocket novel and in large print with the original inaccuracies. I can assure you this will never happen again.
I have an excellent editor and proofreader working with me as well as three beta reader. All my files also get two reads on a Kindle which makes sure all but one or two errors are eradicated.

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Fenella J Miller

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

How do you define a successful writer?

I just read an interesting blog about what criteria should be used to define a successful writer. Should it be down to the amount of sales? The number of good reviews? Whether you have won a prestigious literary prize? How much money the writer is earning? Or something else entirely – such as having their name and face recognised by the general public or having a film or TV series made for one of their books.
Also is a successful writer also a good writer?
I'll deal with the sales question first by posing another question:
To be successful does the writer have to sell thousands of copies of one title or can they be considered successful if they have dozens of books selling moderately well?
An author could have a runaway bestseller, sell half a million copies, and never write another book. Are these still successful writers?
I fall into the category of selling moderately well across dozens of titles with an occasional 'bestseller' in a few of the Amazon categories.I'm not sure if I would be considered successful or not using the sales criteria.
To move on to the second question – that of reviews.
My Regency books garner only a handful of reviews – mostly positive – but some stinkers too. However, my WW2 family sagas receive far more reviews but sell fewer copies.
I know a lot of store is put in having hundreds of five-star reviews on Amazon – they seem to be thought of as the holy grail – but when I check their sales ranking more often than not my books rank much higher than theirs. So which of us is the more successful?
Winning the Booker prize or some other such prestigious literary accolade could  be considered the pinnacle of success – but often these books fall into obscurity within a few months and sell only a few hundred copies. The writer has prestige but could they be considered successful?
Now I shall discuss  the question of money.
I make more than a living wage from my writing – 50% more than I got when I was working full-time as a top of the scale teacher. I consider that very successful but my aspirations and needs are possibly more moderate than others.
Do you have to do earn hundreds of thousands of pounds in royalties to be considered successful? In my opinion this decision is subjective. If I was just starting out, was half my age, I would probably think my writing royalties insufficient as my monetary needs would be much higher than they are now. Therefore, possibly success in terms of income is relative to each writer. I have a writer friend who is happy to earn a fraction of what I do. This pays for two luxury holidays year and so she considers herself to be successful as she's achieving what she wants.
I think that it would be hard to dispute the fact that being internationally recognised/having a film or TV series made from one of your books makes you successful in everybody's eyes. To have achieved that you must tick all the criteria boxes I mentioned above.
It would be wonderful to be able to produce one book a year like Lee Child or Bernard Cornwall and know you will sell millions of copies – but there are only a handful of writers that fall into this category.
I often see the names of indie writers quoted as being incredibly successful, having sold millions of copies of their books, and yet I've never heard of them. So maybe being internationally and universally recognised are not necessary criteria for being considered successful.
In conclusion let's consider if a commercially successful book is a good book. Fifty Shades of Grey illustrates this point perfectly. I found the book unreadable but millions of others didn't. It was definitely successful but I've not heard many, even the most devoted readers, say it was well written.
I would love to hear your views on this subject – maybe we can come up with a list of what makes a successful author.
Fenella J Miller

Monday, 1 February 2016

Valentine Kisses - Regency Romantics Box Set 2016

The first of this year's  multi-author box sets is now live on Amazon. We have changed the name to Regency Romantics because Wendy Soliman has rejoined the group, which means there are now six of us. Therefore, Regency Quintet was no longer an option.
Monica Fairview is still part of the group but hasn't put a book in this time. However, there might well be six books in the next offering.
Elizabeth Bailey's book, A Chance Gone By, is a specially written new title. The other stories have all been published before.
We are aiming to get all new stories in the Christmas edition, which will be a real achievement.
I'm no longer hosting the box sets and have gratefully passed it on to Amanda Grange. Our intention is to take this  task in turns, so that means I won't have to do it again for another five years – if we are all still publishing a box set by then.
I love being part of a group of writers as it can be a lonely business sitting at your computer all day. We are now having twice yearly meetings in London where we can exchange views and discuss plans for the future.

I think this is an excellent selection of stories and hope that you think so too.

Fenella J Miller

Friday, 15 January 2016

The Duke's Alliance - A Suitable Bride

£1.99 / $2.99
The first book in my new Regency series, The Duke's Alliance – A Suitable Bride is now available to buy at all Amazon stores.
Here is the blurb to give you an idea what the book is about.
Lord Bennett Sheldon, heir to his brother, The Duke of Silchester, is shocked to discover his profligate father had, before his death, depleted the family coffers by his gambling. Bennett, who resigned his commission on becoming his brother’s heir, decides that it is his role to save the family by finding himself a suitable bride. 
The duke reluctantly agrees to this plan and his younger sister, Lady Madeline, is thrilled to arrange a grand house party to which a selection of eligible young ladies is invited. Beau, the duke, is adamant that Bennett will only marry a girl with an impeccable pedigree as well as a vast fortune. 
Miss Grace DuPont has no wish to marry; she prefers to run her stud and take care of her beloved horses. However, her father is determined to gain entrance to the drawing rooms of the ton and believes his wealth and Grace’s beauty will be enough to attract an aristocratic suitor. 
Mr DuPont blackmails Lord Peabody into including Grace in the invitation to the house party but she will have to masquerade as member of Society and Lady Peabody’s goddaughter. She is forced to obey her father and, with her stallion, her three dogs and her companion, sets out for Silchester Court. Her intention is to remain in the background, for if her true identity is disclosed she will be evicted. 
Grace and Bennett are drawn to each other but she knows when he discovers who she is he will be disgusted. If he marries her he will lose his position in the family and be banished from Silchester Court. Can this dilemma be resolved or will Grace be left broken hearted? 

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