Bigging up bloggers #bloggerssparkle

Mavis and Dot

Two years ago, I’d never heard of a Blog Tour, but I wasn’t as involved with my writing back then. Bloggers sounds like a rude term: “blogger off” could be used as an alternative to another expression. BUT, how could I ever think negatively of a blogger?

Having released my new novella, Mavis and Doti in mid-November 2018, and having spent nearly twelve years on its birth (long, protracted labour), I needed to let the world beyond friends and family know about it. Especially as I was selling the two ladies to raise funds for cancer research.

I was recommended Rachel Gilbey of Random Resources. For the uninitiated, here’s how it works.
1. You contact her and receive a very modest price list. Bite the bullet, you have to speculate to accumulate, folks. It’s nerve-wracking to think of your work being picked at by the wider world, but we’re writers; we can’t closet ourselves away in our untidy work space (speaking for myself). We wrote the book to be read, for heaven’s sake.
2. Rachel is very efficient. She designs a beautiful banner for you, with flair and imagination, and then puts out the word to find bloggers. I don’t think she uses a sandwich board and a megaphone. She walks the streets of the internet and I was flabbergasted to hear she’d almost filled my 42 blogger spots (sounds like an advert for acne) within two days. About one month in advance, I created an e-book for Rachel to send to these lovely people. (I used CALIBRE).
3. Some bloggers request individual posts from the author. I wrote nine, but it was good for me; made me re-evaluate the themes I’d hopefully put across in my book. The remainder would read and review my book. Eek, knees tremble, heart palpitates.
4. The blogs came in from November 17th – 30th and I was bowled over by the reactions. I kept links for the posts as, at first, I was posting too much and felt I was boring the pants off social media friends. I decided to drip-feed over future months, because I’ve learned you have to keep this publicity lark going for the first six months at least, after publication. You can’t sit back and twiddle your thumbs. So, I’ve filed the quotes for future ads and promotions.
5. I was gratified to see that reviews were also posted on both Amazons and Goodreads. To date, I have 23 on UK Big Brother Amazon, 6 on USA and 27 on Goodreads. Not too bad for an indie book at this stage, imho. All 4 and 5 stars, except for a 1 from Ibrahim, but that’s fine too. The book is out there.

3 - REviews M and D

WHY DO BLOGGERS BLOG? What do they get out of it? I wanted to find out.
First I talked to Rachel Gilbey. For her it’s a business and she runs it very well. She started by organising tours for a small self-publisher after getting an internship and really enjoyed it. She has a large mailing list now but is always on the look out for more. Rachel filters her lists according to each book’s genre. To date she’s organised 316 tours in 2018 and has 58 confirmed for 2019. I highly recommend her efficiency and friendliness and am very grateful to her for my first blog tour experience. She doesn’t do all the work: it’s up to the author to tweet and post too – obviously.

Next, I turned to one of the complete strangers who blogged me (sounds like a one-night stand). Her name, HonoluluBelle, was interesting for starters. I’d love to travel over to Hawaii one day and investigate whether it’s only in Mutiny on the Bounty that grass skirts are worn…and to meet this hilarious lady too, of course. She’d said she “found treasure” in my book and “each and every one of Ms Petch’ quirky characters was deliciously peculiar and colourfully drawn. I adored them no end.” (Blush).
“Why do you blog?” I asked and here’s her reply. (She wrote a new blog following on my question. (I need to think of a saying along the lines of “you can take a grass skirt off a Hawaian but you can’t take a blog out of a blogger”). She’s in blogging because she loves to read. Simple.
I don’t make a cent from my blog, I don’t have ads, I don’t have affiliate links. I just get free books. Which is all the motivation I need. I mean, come on… Free books baby! I’m a retired government worker living on a pension, I’m in it for the FREE BOOKS! I don’t care one whit if my reviews are read or not, I don’t expect or believe anyone actually does or will read them other than once in a great while a desperate indie author stumbles onto one or maybe a bored PA now and then. I’m always surprised, shocked, stunned, and even a bit horrified when someone new finds them and leaves a comment.”
I asked for “Belle’s” tip for authors on a blog tour:
“Be patient, select your tour operator with care, and have thick skin… BTW – Rachel’s Random Resources is excellent. I have worked with many and several have come and gone in the short period I’ve been blogging. Rachel is by far, the most organized, personable, and dear to me. I have never met her in person but I call her my English Rose – without her awareness, of course. She would most likely cringe in horror if she knew, yet she is very patient with me. I know I’m a bit of a wildcard for her and she always seems immensely relieved to receive my links with a positive review as there have been a few that I didn’t care for.”
There were 42 of these sparkly reviewers and bloggers on my tour and I could have talked to more (but I talk too much, I know).

Jessie Cahalin Coffee Shop

Blogger extraordinaire – Jessie Cahalin

The very first blogger I had (confession time) is the inimitable, lovely Jessie Cahalin at Books in my Handbag. So, last, but definitely not least, I turned to her to ask why she blogs about authors? Doesn’t it take away time from her own writing?
She describes herself as a “book warrior”.

“I am an accidental blogger who never dreamed I would become synonymous with books and handbags.
Blogging enables me to establish my identity as a writer. Through my blog, I have found my voice. I love to blog about my writing experiences and adventures: it is a great way to keep a visual diary.
Blogging is not a business for me. I blog to connect with the bookish community. The international bookish community is a dynamic force powered by words, creativity, friendship and lots of coffee I want to promote my own book and support other writers. I get a real buzz from helping others when it is appreciated and reciprocated.
I do believe that authors are stronger together and must support each other. Readers listen more when someone else talks about your book online. I promote other authors’ books via the Handbag Gallery, interviews, extracts and guest posts. When I launched my debut novel You Can’t Go It Alone authors reciprocated with spotlights on their blogs.
I asked Jessie for advice for an author contacting a blogger.
I love people who interact with me. Retweet my tweets, comment on my blogs and respond to my FB posts. Make sure I know about you and look at my blog and my book to see if we share common interests. Please don’t send me an e mail asking for a review, telling me I’ll love your book, if I’ve never heard of you.
At the moment, I am lost in the world of my second novel. Recently, I reduced the number of blogs in order to focus on my writing. I reward myself with snatches of time on social media. I am ashamed to say that my TBR pile is a huge mountain -time to buy more hiking books and a large supply of coffee.”

You can’t go it Alone

Jessie’s own book title is very fitting. So, there you have it.
Bloggers are our friends. They sparkle and we need to love them.


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Rachel’s Random Resources / Guest Post : Mavis and Dot – Angela Petch

Some thoughts on Mavis wanting to belong to Italy…

The Magic Of Wor(l)ds

Mavis and Dot

Today I’m on the ‘Mavis and Dot’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, Angela Petch, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Mavis and Dot Author PhotoA prize-winning author, Angela Petch lives half the year in West Sussex and the summer months in a remote valley in the Tuscan Apennines. She recently signed a two-book deal with Bookouture for her Tuscan novels and “Mavis and Dot” is a temporary departure from her usual genre. She has travelled all her life: born in Germany, she spent six years as a child living in Rome, worked in Amsterdam after finishing her degree in Italian, moved to Italy for her job, then to Tanzania for three years. Her head is full of stories and she always carries a pen and note-book to capture more ideas.

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Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch #Blogtour #Review #Cancerresearch

Absolutely bowled over. Book Addiction UK says: “…I can safely say it’s in my top three reads of 2018”.

Wrong side of forty


A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship.Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more.”This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos…[it] will resonate with a lot of readers.” Gill Kaye – Editor of Ingenu(e). Written with a light touch in memory of a dear…

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Blog Tour | Mavis And Dot #GuestPost

I’m thinking about the serious side to Mavis and Dot today on “Everywhere and Nowhere”. Thanks for letting me be your guest.

everywhere and nowhere

Happy Wednesday! I am in a very cheerful mood today which seems fitting because the book that I am on the tour for looks pretty cheerful too.

about the bookMavis and Dot Front Cover

A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship. Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more.”This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos…[it] will resonate with…

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Mavis & Dot Guest Post by @Angela_Petch @rararesources #Cancercharity

Tea rooms, new friendships and old. Why did I write “Mavis and Dot”? Thanks to Tea and Cake for the Soul for letting me pop in.

Tea & Cake For The Soul

Today I have a guest post from Angela Petch who has written “Mavis and Dot” in memory of her friend Olga who sadly died from Ovarian Cancer. I have not read the book but it is my pleasure to share Angela’s post with you as all profits from this book are being donated to a cancer charity.

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Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch | @Angela_Petch @rararesources | #blogtour #guestpost

I have been interviewed about “Mavis and Dot” and the inspiration behind writing my latest novella.

Novel Deelights

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join. Author Angela Petch joins me on the blog today to talk about what prompted her to write this novella.


Author : Angela Petch
Title : Mavis and Dot
Pages : 206
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : November 14, 2018


A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship.Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming…

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Poetry and short stories are underrated, in my opinion. And yet we lead such busy lives, they are ideal for picking up and reading in spare moments. And sometimes, less is more. You can read one line and it can stay with you for a long time. How many of you have a favourite line from a poem that helps you get by in difficult moments? Why not share yours?
Anyway, I’m chatting to Claire Baldry today. I hope to meet her properly over winter, as she doesn’t live too far away. A retired Headteacher and English Advisor, she has plenty of experience under her belt to share. She sent me a copy of Simply Modern Life (is modern life simple?) and I enjoyed it so much.

Claire Baldrey's bookHere is my review:
“This is a delightful booklet of poems and ditties to leave by your bedside or, dare I say it, in the loo, to dip into when the need arises. There is the whole of life in here, viewed with a smile, a frown or with poignancy.
“Rhyming is an addiction” for Claire Baldry and I can imagine her about the place, notebook in hand, jotting down her “poetology” – her rhyming observations. There are messages for everybody in here ranging from short and snappy, witty and funny, thought-provoking and deep to downright poignant.
Everybody will have their favourites, but I laughed out loud at the image conjured by “The Ladies who Sing” in their local choir. Such fun. And I fisted the air in agreement with the opening poem, “Peace on the Train”. Beware if you’re travelling around Sussex, folks, and you talk loudly into your mobile when there are passengers trying to read books “in silence”.
“Jane turns to me and whispers, would they notice if I kill her?” Yesssss!
I was very moved by “Our Digital House”, written in the style of the well-known “This is the house that Jack built…” This I would love to hear read aloud by Claire Baldry. Maybe I will one day, as she only lives a little way up the coast. The illustration for this piece is so clever. In fact, congratulations must be made to Amber Gee for all her images. She captures the words in her sketches and her style is original and quirky.
The final poem, “Side by Side” is beautiful. Fitting that the last words in the book should be about death: our final act, as we slip away.”

But let’s hear from Claire herself as she chats to us.Author photo

Does It Have To Rhyme?
‘Does it have to Rhyme?’ is the title of a book by educationalist, Sandy Brownjohn, which was published almost forty years ago. Sandy’s Books on children’s writing are still used by teachers today. The title cuts right into the heart of poetry writing, in so far as there is still no one definition of what a poem actually is. In the nineteenth century and earlier, most poetry was created in traditional forms using a variety of rhyming schemes, but once ‘free verse’ came along, the difference between poetry and prose was much harder to define. As a teacher, I always told my pupils that poetry forms could vary enormously, but they did need a structure of some sort. It is nevertheless possible that someone reading this post will find an example of great poetry which appears to have no structure at all.
The reason why I am so interested in this topic is because most of my poetry does rhyme, and for much of the twentieth century, rhyming poetry gained a reputation in the literary world as somehow ‘second best’. Even when John Betjeman was appointed as Poet Laureate in 1972 (although his work was incredibly popular with the public) there were a minority of academics who considered his work rather lightweight, because it used traditional metre and rhyme.
I’m not suggesting that any one form of poetry is superior to another. If a poem makes the reader think in new ways, enhances emotions, or simply gives pleasure, then I think it has a value. The reason why I normally write poetry in rhyme is because I can’t seem to help myself. I love the process of teasing out structures and vocabulary until the words and metre scan satisfactorily, and if I can find an unusual rhyme, it makes me smile. Some years ago, I wrote a poem for a teashop, which included the line ‘For a cup without saucer, will be grounds to divorce her’ …. and that line still makes me laugh. I just like playing with words.
I remember when, at the age of thirteen, my history teacher set our class homework to write a short essay about Mary Queen of Scots. I handed in three pages of rhyming couplets. I suspect the piece was historically less than accurate, but it made the teacher smile.
I am particularly delighted to be writing this now, because in the past few years, poetry with a strong metre, often rhyming, has experienced something of a regeneration. Helped by the increasing popularity of rap, spoken word events and poetry slams have found their way back into our national theatres and university courses. Quite sophisticated rhyming poetry has also moved into the commercial world. Advertising has increased its repertoire from using simple jingles to including well known spoken word artists. The most recent Nationwide Bank adverts are a very good example. What pleases me most is that rhyming poetry appears to have become more acceptable. There has, bluntly, always been a certain amount of unnecessary snobbery about poetry. Readers used to apologise for enjoying rhyming verse. I’ve heard people say, “I know I shouldn’t admit this, but I much prefer poetry which rhymes”. As for me, I have often found myself apologising for the fact that I expect some people will consider my work rather lightweight. Of course, we do need complex free verse with hidden layers of meaning, but that should not be the only sort of poetry which is considered of value. Poetry should not just be for the few. Everyone has a right for their thought processes and emotions to be touched by poems which are accessible to them, and, because they use strong metre and rhyme, are easy to read aloud.
I would to thank Angela for including my guest post as part of the first blog tour for my recently published poetry booklet ‘Simply Modern Life’.

It’s a pleasure, Claire! And I agree with you that “poetry should not just be for the few.” And good luck with your venture: Books for Older Readers.

Visit Claire’s site on Facebook

Claire Baldry: Bio
Former Headteacher and English Advisor, Claire Baldry, lives on the East Sussex coast with her husband, Chris. She has published five booklets of poetry, an autobiographical novella, and her debut novel ‘Different Genes’. Claire’s most recent poetry booklet ‘Simply Modern Life’ is the first time she has collaborated with illustrator Amber Gee.
Claire is passionate about cutting through unnecessary or outdated traditions in literature. As well as encouraging a wider readership for poetry, Claire actively promotes books which extend beyond ‘chick-lit’ and appeal directly to readers in mid-life and beyond. Claire says “Life doesn’t stop at age thirty-five’. Readers want to read about themes and interests which reflect all stages of their lives. Publishers need to take more account of this.”
Claire started the Books For Older Readers Facebook group and website in 2017, and it is rapidly growing in popularity,

Click here to buy Claire’s book

3d cover

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Harvesting and other chats…



It’s nearly time for us to pack up, gather all our summer produce and return to the UK after our annual six months in beautiful Tuscany.
Whilst doing so, I harvest my thoughts. I think you know I live in a remote river valley, far from my writer friends but, I have to thank social media for keeping me in contact with a whole bunch of supportive, friendly authors who help me along the way, sharing tips, bolstering confidence, providing great books for me to read on the Kindle I never thought I’d own… I have actually met three of these writer friends this summer in Italy. Two live in Tuscany and one came all the way from Switzerland for our first Write Away in Tuscany week in September. We rant about social media and algorithms and the way a certain huge company doesn’t seem to trust writers to review other authors… I shall say no more… but, apart from this aspect and the occasional mad troll, I say a huge thanks to SM for my new friends.
So, I’ve invited a handful of authors to my end of summer party. I could have invited a whole load more, but I’ve chosen a variety who write different genres and live in different places and I wanted to pick their brains on things writerly. It’s a bit of along chat – so you might want to plonk yourself in a chair and pour your favourite tipple. But, it’s been a long summer…
First up, here is a collage of where we write. See if you can link them to each writer as we go on to chat. (Answers in the comments box! The first to get it correct, receives a signed copy of my new book, Mavis and Dot  – on pre-order now.)

Jessie Cahalin arrived first. Blogger extraordinaire and debut author of You Can’t Go it Alone . She was my first blogger ever, so very precious to me – and to loads of other authors too. She has quickly built up a large following, and you should check out her quirky Books in my Handbag blog site.
I asked her for her views on social media.

Jessie: Eighteen months ago, my phobia of social media was influenced by professional training in education. Twittersphere has led me to wonderful people. Angela, you rolled up on Twitter with my first review request and I haven’t looked back. You introduced me to Patricia Feinberg Stone and Rosemary Noble, the Ladies that Launch, and you have become my role-models and voice of reason. I connected with Patricia Furstenberg because I send a message to her rather than Patricia Feinberg Stoner. Through Twitter, people have discovered the Handbag Gallery and my blog. I have also connected with other blogs. Who would have guessed that I would connect with an American who would receive my book with a fanfare? Thank you, Jena! Twitter enables me to move in and out of conversations, share my thoughts and help others. Tweeting positive messages attracts like-minded people and the word limit disciplines me more than Facebook. I now have over 10k followers on Twitter. It is also a great place to displace thoughts whizzing around in my head. Last week I asked people where they find ideas and over 130 responses arrived in a couple of days. Positive interaction on social media lead me to the best people. I make a point of commenting on points of interest because this goes much further than lots of likes and leads to connections. However, I must force myself to disconnect. The downside is I now suffer from RSI from tweeting via my phone. Ouch. Facebook Groups are great for longer conversations and writerly support.
Jena Henry chipped in – my author friend from America. I offered her a glass of vino, but she is on a health drive (Jessie chose a cup of strong Italian coffee). I couldn’t find any pumpkin spice coffee, but Jena had brought along a case of root beer to the party. (Not sure my Italian friends will like this, but I can try.)
Jena: Social media has ended up being a blast for me. I prefer Twitter because I can connect and interact with so many amazing creatives, who I value as friends. 💯 I have seen beautiful book posts on Instagram and there are many book groups on Facebook, but I prefer the ease and speed of Twitter. My best tip is to find what channels you like and be yourself, be available on regular basis, and make friends. Check out Jena’s interesting web site and blog.

Audrey Davis, from Switzerland, agreed about Twitter.
I’m a bit of a Twitter addict these days, and proud to have grown a 2,500+ following in little over a year. I even brass necked it recently and asked a well-known chick lit author if she’d consider reading/reviewing Hattie Hastings. And she said yes! Otherwise, I’m a member of a lot of FB groups which offer great support and advice.

I’m now racking my brains as to who this famous author is, so I’ll just go over to @audbyname and have a snoop around. I agree about Twitter – it can seem like a merry-go-round, but I wouldn’t have gained my two-book deal without my twitter account.

Kathryn McMaster aka Kathryn Bax arrived a little late – trouble on the sheep farm she runs, amongst other entrepreneurial activities. (Meet Bossyboots)).KB_Bossyboots

I was immediately in her good books, as I’d managed to unearth a bottle of her favourite raspberry gin. She sipped at it gratefully – the journey to me over the mountains is a bit tortuous. Some of you may know Kathryn’s excellent One Stop Fiction Facebook site for author resources – She is less of a Twitter fan.

Kathryn: Social media can be a big time-suck and as authors we don’t have time for that. However, it is also a necessary evil. So, find a platform or two that actually work and concentrate on building an audience and make connections rather than trying to conquer all of them. It is also not all about selling. It is about networking and being active in a community of like-minded people without being that sleazy salesperson no one likes. As an author I have found Pinterest and Instagram the best social media platforms. I only recently started my Instagram account and enjoying the experience. However, the most important aspect for any author is to have a website to showcase you and your books. You must have an opt-in page to build a strong subscriber list. This is far more valuable than any social media out there because those who sign up want to hear from you and are already dedicated fans.
I so agree about the “sleazy salesperson” approach. I would not have invited any of these authors to my party if they had shoved their books down my throat. But, marketing is an inevitable part of being an indie author. It’s finding the balance that is the secret. I still don’t have a subscriber list.

Roger Bray from Australia had been very quiet up until now, nursing his glass of bourbon as the sun started to slip behind the Apennines, but he agreed about Twitter.
Roger: I’ve met some amazing people! On Facebook, I’m a member of a few groups and it is a fantastic way to get to know other authors and bloggers.

I have read Roger’s books (I found him on Twitter – that word keeps cropping up) and I have his new psychological thriller, Blood Ribbon ,on my Kindle. I’m keeping it for when I return to the UK, sitting by our log burner on chilly evenings. I need to be cosy indoors to read anything slightly scary. Roger is another writer who hosts a very inclusive, supportive blog and web site.

I lit the lanterns on the terrace and asked Roger for his writing tips. (See one of mine below). Carry a notebook at all times topin your ideas before they fly away

His books are page-turners, by the way.
Roger: Difficult to answer because people write in different ways. I am linear. I start at the start and write to the end. Without much planning before I start except for a rough idea of where I am going. Funnily enough I think the ending is the most important starting point to know where you are going. Other writers plan and develop their stories, story boards for each chapter detailing each one and where it takes the plot. My only real advice, regardless is to write, simply that, write. Sometimes when I am stuck I will push myself to keep writing and have always found it will take me passed the blockage. If you are waiting for inspiration, it’s coming, just behind the unicorn.

Everybody started to chip in then. There must be a collective noun for writers. A chapter? Volume? More like, a chatter of writers…
Jessie is more of a planner. I’m not surprised as she manages to keep us all entertained with her frequent , interesting blogs. I would be mixing up the wrong books with the wrong authors.

Jessie: Write and write then cut, cut, cut ruthlessly. Oh dear, I need to follow my own tip NOW. If something bothers me then I write a note to myself to refer to later. At the moment, I can’t see my desk for a mountain of post-it notes. Maybe, I should put them in an envelope and post them to someone.
Audrey is less of a planner and agreed with Roger. I poured her another glass of excellent Montalcino that we buy down in the valley.  Just write. There’s no magic formula or quick fix. Write as little or as much as you can, whenever you can. And don’t stress if you get stuck or go for days or even weeks feeling uninspired. Nowadays I often write out of sequence, if a particular idea comes to me.
I wasn’t surprised at Kathryn’s comments as I poured her another glass of gin. (I offered her the spare room to save her the drive back over the mountains – and, anyway, I wanted to hug these new friends to me for as long as possible).
Kathryn: My first thought was keep writing. My second thought was, write to market. And then I realized that both of those could be in juxtaposition to one another for some authors. There are authors who write what they love, and if they are fortunate, write what people want to read. There are others who do the same and what they write has no market. Then there are others who write to market but hate what they are doing. In the end, whatever you write, you have to love what you are doing. Life is too short not to. I eat, sleep and breathe true crime and I enjoy researching cases and finding those that inspire me to write about them. Luckily for me, true crime is a growing market, and I am never short of interesting cases to write about. However, if you can, write what you enjoy and write to a market where people will buy your books. Don’t expect to become a millionaire through your writing. The chances are you won’t, but you can make a living from your books if you write to a market ready to buy your books, and you keep on publishing regularly. Also, I suggest you learn everything you need to know about book marketing and what is working now, and to do something for each of your books every single day.

Jena wanted to know about Kathryn’s  new crime book .Kathryn then managed to do her marketing bit, without putting us off.
Kathryn: My latest book was published 12th October, called Kids who Kill: Joshua Phillips. It is the harrowing story of the murder of an 8-year-old, Maddie Clifton by her 14-year-old neighbour, Joshua Phillips in Florida, USA. After he kills her he keeps her body under his waterbed for a week before his mother discovers her grisly remains.
The book has been very well received. It is also the first in a series about children killing other children which sadly is a rising trend in today’s society.
The book is available at all Amazon stores. Reviews are good – 5 stars all the way, so hopefully some of you may be tempted to download it too. For the time being the price will be at 99c but I am increasing the price shortly to $3.99.

Jena then chipped in with her important tip for writers.
I’m going to be the bossy mom here- make sure you have an adequate budget. Buy the best editing, cover design, and marketing that you can. Buy the best technology you can- it’s frustrating when your computer glitches and your internet gets balky. 😭 Writing and producing a book is a big challenge- don’t skimp. You want to produce the best product you can. ✅

I suppose this is true of everything in life – we should aim to do the best we can. Not everybody has funds galore to splash out – but, I have to admit I’ve learned as I’ve gone along how important Jena’s point is. I stop reading books that are poorly presented, so why should I expect other people to read mine if they’re a mess?

Honestly, I didn’t invite everybody here to buy each other’s books, but Jena’s and Audrey’s details just had to be swapped, seeing as we’ve seen all the others.

all 3 books poster Jena

Click here for Jena’s Facebook page, with her film clips.

And, see what ghostly goings-on Audrey has created, with Hattie Hastings 

We were very mellow by now – and I’d found beds for everybody. (I’d stocked up with breakfast as it was always my dastardly plan to keep everybody a few hours longer).
I wanted to know why we all write. Money? Because we can’t help it? Vanity? Escape?

Jessie had moved on from coffee to wine. I laughed when she slurred over the word “lollygagging”. A new one for me. I quickly jotted it down. Who says you should be friends with an author?

Jessie: I was a nosy child and used to stare at people. My mother distracted me by getting me to describe the world around me. It worked! I imagined the people in all sorts of stories. I write to displace the images and stories in my head. If I don’t write, then I become agitated. Recently, I have done everything to avoid writing thus I have been in a foul mood. Social media friend Patricia Feinberg Stoner told me to stop lollygagging and get on with writing. I love this word so much I have been trying it out for size. The garden is neat, and I have pruned everything in the name of creativity. I have been chasing ideas around in these places but haven’t written then down. I should be pruning words rather than trees. Help!
Roger: I have a vivid imagination and enjoy putting ‘what if’ questions to myself. I love to develop a character to the point where they take on a personality of their own, when sometimes I need to stop myself, thinking ‘No, he/she wouldn’t do that’. I think that keeps the characters realistic. I also enjoy building story lines which intersect and feed off each other. The shorter answer would be I enjoy telling stories that people may enjoy reading.

Roger: I have a vivid imagination and enjoy putting ‘what if’ questions to myself. I love to develop a character to the point where they take on a personality of their own, when sometimes I need to stop myself, thinking ‘No, he/she wouldn’t do that’. I think that keeps the characters realistic. I also enjoy building story lines which intersect and feed off each other. The shorter answer would be I enjoy telling stories that people may enjoy reading. Kathryn: Writing is in my DNA. I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember. However, it was only two years ago that I decided to take my writing more seriously and to publish. I love playing with words and putting my research in ways that will convey the scene, bring the characters alive, and move the story along.
Audrey: I write because I enjoy it and I’m not really skilled at much else. Well, maybe cooking, but not in a professional sense. Since both my boys flew the nest, I needed something to fill my days. Taking care of a large house and being on my own a lot means I need something to occupy my mind. And since publishing my books (and getting some lovely feedback), I feel happier about myself.
Jena: I love writing. I particularly love the challenge of writing.
Writing is a jigsaw puzzle. ✍️ By turning over words, searching for one that looks like it will fit, and then when it doesn’t slide in, putting it back and trying again to find the right word, I work to connect letters and words. Piece by piece, word by word, I create a sentence, a paragraph, a word picture out of scribbles.
And bring on the literary techniques and rhetorical devices! 👏 Give me the chance to season my writing and I toss in the anaphoras, asyndetons, and allusions. Epizeuxis sums it up – create, create, create. This is why I write.
⁉️But, if you ask why do I write books or blog posts, then the answer changes. I write to connect, to inform, to entertain, to make readers smile and to share my view of the world. (did you detect a whiff of hypophora just then?)
Writing is what I can give to others and that creates another wonderful challenge for me- creating books that people want to read. Readers want entertainment, and truth- a mirror and a window. Not a string of literary devices, even though they are fun! I lovingly try to create characters and a story that readers will find engaging and enjoyable. 🎯

Ha ha! Jena – love the complicated terminology – and after two or three beers! You get the medal! I had to stop Jena from jumping on the table next, everybody!

So, there you have it. A harvest of thoughts and tips from a handful of writers. I hope you find some useful points from our little party. And some new books to read.

(And nobody suffered a hangover)…


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Never Forget


Today, October 15th, is the fourth day of our mini-break in Italy, in the Abruzzo region. We have had a brilliant adventure in the mountains, exploring the Gran Sasso region. It was drizzling this morning, after three days of sunshine, but this didn’t dent our moods. We visited Sulmona and toured the Pelino family’s confetti museum and business. Confetti are not the little pieces of paper we Brits scatter over bride and groom at weddings. They are sugar coated almonds given to guests at weddings, Holy Communion breakfasts, Baptisms or Confirmations to commemorate the special day. They can be very elaborate, as in these vintage photos. The same family firm has been making these little sweet fripperies since 1783.
I “borrowed” a photo displayed in the museum to joke that I danced on the tables of the bar where Maurice and I enjoyed a coffee later on. Our mood was light-hearted.

On our way to our next destination, we realised we were about to cross the Sangro river. Memories of a huge Second World War battle stirred in our minds and I quickly googled for the details. A few kilometres away was the English war cemetery and we decided to make a slight diversion to visit. IMG_7796
I still have a lump in my throat as I write this. What a place. It is the second largest cemetery in Italy administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. There are 2,617 soldiers from the Commonwealth buried here, not including those commemorated in a monument to the 512 Indian soldiers cremated on the site. Their funeral byres were constructed from a wood opposite that was a shelter for the last German soldiers before their final retreat beyond the Sangro river. It is now a Regional Nature Reserve.

Torino di Sangro lies along the Gustav Line which went through Monte Cassino, amongst other places, and was the main defensive line to stop the Allies reaching Germany through mainland Italy between December 1943 and June 1944. In the area we visited, the Germans held the towns around Torino di Sangro and there was particularly fierce fighting between November 27th and 29th 1943. The English 8th Army occupied a steep hill overlooking the Sangro river.
This cemetery includes the remains of 1,768 British, 2 Canadians, 3 Australians, 355 New Zealanders, 74 South Africans, 75 unknown soldiers and 5 from other countries. The graves are arranged like an amphitheatre and the cemetery is surrounded by olive groves, a scattering of farms,  and overlooks the river and the sea beyond.

Maurice and I were deeply moved. He found the graves of many, many soldiers from the Artillery of the 8th Army; his own father was part of this Regiment, whilst I couldn’t help thinking of my own childhood in the 1960s in Rome. My father was deputy head in those years of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for Europe and North Africa and, as children, we were taken to visit many of these cemeteries. All of them beautifully kept, oases of peace, places of dignity, each grave tended carefully by respectful gardeners, the lawns always immaculate, even in sun-drenched countries.
I walked around the graves of these young people, feeling unbearably sad as I read the inscriptions. Here are only a few:

“In memory of XXX. God bless you, dear. You are not forgotten. Mother-in-law and family.”
“A silent grief, but God knows best.”
“No day dawns, no night returns, but we remember you.”
“Gone from our home, but not from our hearts.”
“God’s greatest gift, remembrance. Mother.”

We drove away in silence. And I thought about our morning, when we’d laughed over stupid things and enjoyed carefree hours. Many of the young men who are buried in Torino di Sangro were in their early twenties and thirties. We should never forget the sacrifice they made for our freedom, nearly 75 years ago.


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Writer’s Workshop Tuscany

This is a great report on our Write Away in Tuscany course that ended yesterday. It was a very full week and I think all students, whether beginners or not, took away some very useful tips. We’ll be tweaking certain elements of the course and are already planning for September 2019.

~Dee Rivers ~ Writer of True Romance~


20180912_171639 Il Mulino, Rofelle, Tuscany

What an incredible week’s journey I have been on, not just in miles but in experience too. Eight strangers met for a writers’ workshop (Actually some were married to each other so not quite strangers), plus our host and her husband Angela and Maurice and Sonja Price our tutor. Our location was the converted watermill, Il Mulino situated in the Rofelle area of Tuscany; a picturesque valley complete with sparkling river.

Being a relatively new writer, I personally learnt valuable information. We covered plot and storytelling – making scenes, creating credible characters – seeing them in action, setting, good and bad writing, things that can go wrong, dialogue, voice, point of view, psychic distance (I’d never heard of that – think of using a camera, first in close then moving further away giving a broader picture), showing and telling, narrative drive, endings, editing and how to…

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