Friday, 30 July 2010

Three minutes of Fame

How is it that I can write novels one after the other, but as soon as a writing colleague asks for a donation of words to a blog, the mind becomes one great big blank? There are only so many things that can be said about writing, and I’m sure everything has been said many times over, so, I thought I’d tell you about something a little different for me, though still connected to writing.

The daily newspaper decided to do a spread on romance writing, and although I wasn’t part of the printed article, I was asked if they could do a tie-in video. It was great fun. After answering questions about myself, and giving my views on writerly matters, I was then asked to comment on my three most enjoyed books. I’ll name them, in case any of the authors look in. However good a writer you are, it’s always nice to know your work is appreciated.

First for me came Sharon Penman’s “Devil’s Brood.” To be fair, I was only allowed to pick one of her books, though I love all her big novels equally, and so does my husband. She’s my favourite author, and her books are on my keeper shelf waiting to be read again. This particular novel is the story of the betrayal of Henry 2nd by his three eldest sons and Eleanor, his wife.

My second choice was “How Green Was My Valley,” by Richard Llewellyn. It was first printed in 1939, so is a bit on the elderly side. But it hit me straight in the heart when I first read it, and the writing still stands up today. My earlier 1951 copy was borrowed, and was never returned. Luckily the book was reprinted again in 1991 with a different cover. It’s the only book I’ve ever bought twice, and it was made into a TV serial with Stanley Baker and Sian Phillips in the starring roles.

Third comes a debut novel by Helen Simonson, published this year and called “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.” The novel is an older-couple romance with family complications, and it’s set in an English village. The writing has a great deal of warmth and is sprinkled with wonderful metaphors. I’m sure we’ll hear from this author again.

So that was my input into the article. The three-hour interview was edited into my three minutes of fame on the web. Author at the computer––author talking about how she started writing, and author talking about her favourite “other author’s” books. Author at the computer again…fade out.

Funny, but there’s something familiar about that, as though it’s all been done before. Hmmm …

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

How To Sell More Books (kind-of!)

It was lovely to receive a comment from Freda and Anne about THE BOOK PEOPLE. TBP came in useful when round at my daughter's this week. I was able to tell her friends of the many talented authors on this blog writing in the same genre, with books for sale on Amazon if not TBP. To my astonishment, some of the youngsters (30-40)didn't know what sagas were. They read, in the main, contemporary modern fiction. During the discussion my eight year old granddaughter, handing out cookies and freebies, pipes up, "I know what sagas are. They're books written by ladies who work in the night". (She is used to me writing in the evenings!) A few raised eyebrows and smirks here, but more author names bandied about and swiftly written into diaries!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A little off topic

This is a little off-topic, but has anyone heard of J.A.Konrath? If you have then don't trouble to read on, as you'll have had a good giggle at this entertaining fellow. Konrath is a crime/thriller writer of the "old" style, but just look at his stats (below). They say long sagas/family dramas don't go so well as E books. I wouldn't know, as none of mine are in that format yet, but it gave me a good feeling to read this guy's admirable copy on both his website and blog. He's a loose cannon in publishing, going it alone, and has made good. The hairs on my neck stood up as I researched him, so I thought, even though this is a historical blog, I wanted to pass on a little of his writerly enthusiam and a chuckle too, if you go to his website and watch his entertaining Utube vid. This is what he has to say about himself on Amazon's Author Space. His website bio and blog

"J.A. Konrath has written 19 novels and hundreds of short stories. His work has been published in over a dozen countries, and there are millions of copies of his fiction in print.

His blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, has been named one of Writer's Digest Magazine's Best Web Sites.

In a 12 month period, he sold over 35,000 self-published ebooks on Amazon Kindle.

He's been featured in Writer's Digest, Forbes, Publisher's Weekly, Book Page, Entertainment Weekly, and The Huffington Post.

Konrath is known as the hardest working author in the business, having toured more than 1200 bookstores. He's done successful blog tours, sent over 7000 letters to libraries, and has been flown all across the country to speak on the topics of publishing, marketing, ebooks, and self-promotion."

Friday, 16 July 2010

16th July 2010

I don't think my books can be regarded as historical these days, except perhaps to the very young, but they are definitely family dramas, as one of the group describes sagas.
My present "Home" series starts at the end of the war with Dreams of Home when a young couple struggle to get a foot on the farming ladder. It is followed by A Home of our Own, highlighting the problems of an ex-landgirl with an illegitimate child and the stigmas of the period to 1955. It was published in hard back in January 2010 and is available in trade paperback from August. They are all available on CD, recorded by Soundings.
The third in the series will be published in October 2010 and takes us to 1967. Heart of the Home follows the lives and responsibilities of two younger characters and how they cope after the death of a well loved mother. All the books in the series have a Scottish farm or country background.
I am presently working on a fourth book starting in 1972. The proposed title is Another Home - Another Love, but titles sometimes change. It will highlight the changing standards and problems between the different generations.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

My 50th Novel

This is a very special month for me because my 50th novel has just been published, ‘Beyond the Sunset’, set in the mid 1860s. I’m thrilled about this and have been cuddling my new and very special book baby at regular intervals every since I received my author’s copies.

My first novel published was special too, as it finalled in a big writing competition in Australia and won me a $10,000 prize and publication in 1992. ‘Persons of Rank’ is a historical romance, but is now out of print. However, it will be going up as an ebook at by the end of July, in case anyone wants to see how I started out as a writer. Another of my out of print historical romances ‘Mistress of Marymoor’ is already up there at:

Back to my 50th novel . . . I never realised when I first started out that I’d be able to write so many stories in such a short time – 18 years - but perhaps the imagination is like a muscle and the more you use it, the stronger it grows. I’ve got loads of ideas noted down for further books, so watch out, readers of the world.

‘Beyond the Sunset’ is one of a series of linked stories about the Blake Sisters. They stand alone and can be read in any order. The first one was ‘Farewell to Lancashire’. You can read the first chapters of these books on my web site

They’re set mainly in Western Australia (WA), where I live. Many historical novels with an Australian background are set in Sydney and the convict era. Mine aren’t because I’m having great pleasure in exploring WA’s history.

I’d been dying to write these stories for years, ever since I read in a research book that during the 1860s Cotton Famine in Lancashire, when mills were closed because the American Civil War had cut off supplies of cotton, they brought 60 starving ‘cotton lasses’ out to WA to act as maids. I even found the diary of a clergyman’s wife who’d travelled on the same ship. It seemed meant to be.

In ‘Farewell to Lancashire’ I brought the four sisters out to Australia.
In ‘Beyond the Sunset’ I take the youngest, who is desperately homesick, back to England on urgent family business. There were no railways in WA in those days, unlike the UK, so she had to travel from the outback to a port by horse and cart. As ships didn’t leave the small ‘Cinderella’ colony every month, she had to rush to catch the ship, or she’d have had to wait two months for the next.

Once on board the ship, she went via Ceylon, Suez (before there was a canal to the Mediterranean), Alexandria and Gibraltar. It was fascinating researching all this.

And of course, romance blossomed on the journey!

Book three ‘Destiny’s Path’ comes out next year, and was equally interesting to write and research, but I’m not revealing any details yet!

If you see my 50th novel ‘Beyond the Sunset’ in a shop or on line, wish it well.

And now, I have this other story to write . . .

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Cute Collection

My long-time Ed left her desk last year and also the enterprising young lady who sold my books to THE BOOK PEOPLE. I had no idea of this deal until my agent sent me a photocopy reading, "Carol Rivers' gripping sagas are set in London's East End and chart the lives of six young women as they struggle to overcome the obstacles that destiny throws their way. Vividly evocative, these enthralling tales are painted against a backdrop of pre- and post-war London, weaving their intricate stories amongst colourful characters and richly drawn period detail. Perfect for fans of Josephine Cox and Meg Hutchinson, the East End Collection guarantees to keep you warmly entertained throughout the summer." The price of the collection of six books is just £7.99 - amazing! So if no one else buys my books I'm off to order a few sets myself, which is a giggle, but I can't buy the books cheaper and my first book LIZZIE OF LANGLEY STREET is not easily found new. Curious though, how things work out, as last week I was delighted on the one hand, that my new website was bringing in traffic but concerned for all the lovely readers who email for LIZZIE (having read the others) and want the whole series. Funny how one day a problem seems insurmountable and in the blink of an eye, astonishingly resolvable.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Harper Lee

What a wonderful documentary I saw recently on Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. This reclusive writer wrote only the one book which was to become a classic and made into a film with Gregory Peck and I still have my early copy. I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time during my last year at school. Not that I realized its influence until sixty four years later, when the narrator of the doc explained that Harper’s story was hewn out of an extraordinary experience in small town America, reflective of the times, and bearing a great influence –her father, a legal man working in a small, tightly-knit community. It was then that Atticus Finch, Boo and Scout, suddenly leapt out at me as I watched, overlaid with the characters who have appeared in my own books. As each author knows, there is more to the conscious and unconscious than meets the eye. Boo, Scout and Atticus - I saw them clearly for the first time six decades later. What a revelation! And now I return to my writing with a deeper understanding of the characters. What writer hasn’t had this light-bulb moment? For me it came very late in life and I’m so grateful for the heart-racingly vivid memory of my pals John C, Ashley W, and my dad William T, the chicken wire cage of a fancy dress outfit, and a hot summer’s day with a puddle of lemonade inadvertently spilt over the cover of a very special book.