A Taste of Reunion of the Heart

RotH-CoverI may not have done much writing or blogging over the last few months since Leo’s arrival but my writer friends have certainly been busy, not least of all my good friend, Elaine Jeremiah. Back in August I was one of the bloggers who took part in the cover reveal for Reunion of the Heart and now, after Elaine’s second book has been published for a few weeks, I’m delighted to be able to welcome Elaine back on to my blog to share an extract from it. In this scene, Anna is having a heart to heart with Will, the man she met at her school reunion who was once the boy who tormented her at school.

Anna hesitated, turning away from him. She wasn’t sure she wanted to talk to Will right now. What could she say anyway? She found herself blushing as she remembered how he’d made her feel at the party, and shivered a little. Footsteps sounded behind her getting closer. Taking a deep breath, she turned around. Will was standing there. He too looked unsure.

‘Hi, Anna.’

‘Hi, Will.’ Anna shifted from foot to foot.

‘Would you like a lift home? If that’s where you’re going? That’s my car there.’ He pointed to a smart looking VW Polo.

She thought for a moment. If she allowed Will to take her home, she’d have to talk to him. But she was freezing cold and the buses would be crowded and slow.

‘Yes, a lift home would be lovely,’ she found herself saying. ‘If you’re sure?’

‘Absolutely.’ He grinned at her, rubbing his gloveless hands together.

Feeling a sense of trepidation, she followed him to the car and climbed in, glad of the warmth. As they drove off, Anna wondered at herself for letting Will get anywhere near her, despite her body telling her otherwise. But perhaps her friends were right. Perhaps she should just let bygones be bygones. After a while, he broke the silence.

‘You know, I nearly didn’t go to the reunion,’ he said.

‘Oh really?’ Anna glanced at him, raising her eyebrow.

‘Yes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to revisit my past.’ He paused and took a fleeting look at her before returning his attention to the road. ‘I guess you felt the same way?’

‘What do you think?’ Anna couldn’t keep the bitterness from her voice.

Will swallowed at her caustic answer and nodded, his eyes never leaving the road.

‘I suppose you have me to thank for that.’

She didn’t trust herself to answer. But if he was going to ask her difficult questions like this, he’d just have to accept that the response he got wouldn’t necessarily be to his liking.

‘Well maybe…’ he began.

‘Maybe what?’

He didn’t reply. They travelled on in silence. As they got closer to her home, she directed him towards her road. Having pulled over and stopped the car, he turned to look at her, taking hold of her hand. To her own surprise she didn’t snatch it away.

‘Anna, I’m so sorry for what I did to you at school. If there was any way of making it up to you, I’d do it immediately.’ He sighed, his face downcast. ‘I’m not sure there is a way to make amends. But I just wanted to tell you that I care about you and if you ever need a friend, you have one in me.’

She looked at him, open mouthed. This was Will talking, the Will who’d stuffed food in her face in front of most of their year group. The person who, along with his friends, had constantly taunted her about how fat she was, to the point that she’d become suicidal and, for a short while, bulimic.

Now this same person was telling her that he cared about her, that he wanted to be her friend? She shook her head as if to clear her thoughts. Her friends’ words came to her mind, what they’d said about him liking her all along. Perhaps she shouldn’t discount Will as a friend. You could never have too many, that was for sure.

‘Thank you, Will. I’ll remember that.’ He let go of her hand. She managed to smile at him as she got out of the car. ‘And thank you for the lift. It was kind of you.’

‘No problem,’ he replied. He sounded relieved, almost as if he’d been expecting a slap in the face. She turned away from him.

‘Oh, Anna!’ She turned around. Will was leaning out of the car holding something out to her in his hand. ‘My contact details,’ he told her. ‘In case you ever need to chat.’

‘OK, thank you,’ she said awkwardly, taking the card and walked quickly to her house, dashing inside as fast as her fumbling fingers, searching for the keys, would let her.

If you’re interested in reading more, then Reunion of the Heart is available on Kindle here. To find out more about Elaine and her writing then head over to her blog or follow her on Twitter. Happy reading!

Cover Reveal for Reunion of the Heart by Elaine Jeremiah

Elaine JeremiahIt was only in September last year that my good friend and fellow author Elaine Jeremiah launched her debut novel, The Inheritance. Fast forward nearly twelve months and Elaine is back with a second romantic novel called Reunion of the Heart. Here’s the blurb:

After a messy breakup with her boyfriend, Anna is feeling fragile. So when her best friend Melissa suggests the two of them go to their school reunion, she’s reluctant as Anna’s school days weren’t her happiest. The evening is going well until she meets the boy who made her school life hell.

But the grown up Will is different and Anna is surprised by the direction her life takes. The reunion sets in motion a series of events that lead Anna to realise things will never be the same again.

Today is about the all important cover reveal and I’m delighted to be one of the bloggers hosting Elaine and her brand-spanking new cover. So, without further ado feast your eyes on this:

RotH-Cover

If that cover doesn’t say romance, love and passion, I don’t what will! I love the way it hints at a Parisian element to the novel with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Not only that reading Elaine’s blog this morning she’s just a week away from publishing it!

Elaine Jeremiah has always enjoyed writing, but it’s only in recent years that she’s begun to devote serious time to it. She’s written lots of short stories, one previous novel that will never see the light of day and a novel which has seen the light of day: ‘The Inheritance’ which she published last year. ‘The Inheritance’ is available on Amazon.

You can make contact with Elaine via her blog: elainejeremiah.co.uk and Twitter: @ElaineJeremiah

Celebrating Cupid’s Way Launch Day

Cupids Way cover smallCupid’s Way, the new romantic novel from Joanne Phillips is available today. Its release means she now has four novels (including bestseller Can’t Live Without), a novelette and a book of short stories to her name. That’s a pretty amazing feat in just over two years.

To celebrate the release of her latest novel Jo’s having a launch day party over on Facebook if you fancy joining in with all the fun. Otherwise Cupid’s Way is available to buy from Amazon and with a cover like that it looks like the perfect summer read.

 

When Evie Stone’s grandparents enlist her help to save their home in Cupid’s Way, Evie is happy to oblige. On the cusp of her thirties, and still disappointingly single, Evie’s so-called dream job with a firm of architects has been driving her crazy for months. What she needs, even more than a new man, is a challenge.

But saving Cupid’s Way won’t be easy. A perfectly preserved Victorian terrace, surrounded by modern estates and retail parks, the street is a proud oasis of quirky characters, cobbled pathways and communal gardens. Unfortunately, it also sits on prime development land worth millions.

Dynamite Construction have the deal in the bag, and soon the residents of Cupid’s Way will be forced to sell up and ship out – CEO Michael Andrews, charismatic and super-successful, has certainly never let sentimentality get in the way of business. At least, he hadn’t until he met Evie Stone.

Right, that’s another book to add to my ever-growing to read list, particularly as it’s set in my home town of Bristol.

Cupids Way cover small

Joanne Phillips lives in rural Shropshire with her husband and young daughter. She’s the author of romantic comedies Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively series of mysteries. Can’t Live Without was an Amazon top 20 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Before becoming a writer, Joanne had jobs as diverse as hairdresser, air hostess and librarian, but now divides her time between writing and finding creative ways to avoid housework. She’s a fan of super-dark chocolate, iced coffee and Masterchef. Joanne blogs about writing and publishing at www.writersjourney.co.uk

 

Succeeding at Self Publishing – A Case of Trial and Error

ButtStorm700x700CenteredLast week I met up with local writing friends Elaine Jeremiah and Jade Reyner. All three of us have published our debut novels this year: Jade published Twelve Days – The Beginning in April, I launched The Butterfly Storm in June, and Elaine’s novel The Inheritance was published just last month. One of the things that dominated our conversation was how to get our books noticed on amazon. Visibility is the key but it’s a constant battle to one, get your book noticed in the first place, and two, to maintain a presence on amazon.

Eight weeks after I published The Butterfly Storm I did my first free promotion. As I wrote in a post not long after the promotion ended, putting my book for free more than exceeded my expectations and resulted in nearly 20,000 downloads in just three days. The post promo results and benefits that followed were incredible with The Butterfly Storm averaging 100 sales a day for around three weeks, making it into the ‘Movers & Shakers’ chart, and becoming a bestseller in the contemporary romance, literary fiction and women’s literary fiction categories. Of course I expected that post promo boost to die down after a while and although it’s been selling at least one copy a day since it dropped lower in the rankings, I’ve been thinking of ways that I can increase my visibility again.

On Friday I reduced the price by half to see if it would make any difference. Friday morning The Butterfly Storm was at about 30,000 in the amazon rankings and by that evening it had jumped to around 6,000. Although there’s not been a massive increase in sales since, there is most definitely an increase both on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com (where it had pretty much being doing nothing). I have got a paid promotion running on kuforum all week but until today I’d done nothing to promote the fact that the book is reduced until the 31st October. My aim is to make it into the top 5000 over the next week or two. I will let you know how it goes.

What strategies have you used to help promote your book or books and how successful have they been?

Elaine Jeremiah Guest Post – How I Became a Writer

Elaine JeremiahI’m absolutely delighted to welcome my friend Elaine Jeremiah on to my blog today as part of her blog tour to promote her debut novel, The Inheritance, which launches today. Elaine has written an insightful guest post (the first on my blog I’m pleased to announce) about her journey from wannabe writer to published author and all that’s gone on in-between. So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Elaine.

How I Became a Writer

Although I’ve always enjoyed writing stories, I didn’t always want to be a writer. In fact when I was about eleven I wanted to be an actress and I would fantasise about winning the Oscar for best actress! But it didn’t quite turn out that way. I kept on writing but the acting fell by the wayside.

I come from a family that loves telling stories. When I was little my mother would tell me stories of her own childhood that began ‘when I was a little girl’. I used to listen avidly to her tales of life with her two older brothers and the scrapes they’d get into. So it was natural for me to start telling stories of my own. Travelling with our parents through France, me and my younger brother and sister would get bored, spending long hours cramped in the car. So I’d make up stories to tell them. Some of them were quite outrageous, like ‘heroic’ dogs that would make pesky cats go away or even die by planting itching powder on them without them knowing!TheInheritance

I began to write stories too, many of them as part of creative writing exercises at school. I wrote a story about a girl who’s subjected to racist bullying at school; another about a girl trying to cope during the Blitz and one about a girl whose mother is a prostitute. Quite serious stuff I guess, but I was constantly trying to experiment with my writing.

As I got older I had to focus on exams and essay writing as I did my GCSEs, A levels and my degree. For years I did so little work on my creative writing it almost dried up. Once I’d graduated from university though, I had time to focus on it again. I felt liberated now that I could write what I wanted with no constraints. A few years ago I completed my first novel, aimed at teenage girls. I sent it off to a few agents but it was rejected.

Discouraged, I decided I’d do something completely different and began a fantasy story for older children. It went well for a while and I used it to apply for an MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. I had an interview for it but unfortunately I wasn’t successful and I ran out of steam with writing the story. Different people had suggested I change different things and it all got too confusing.

I felt a bit down about my writing and unsure what to do next. My husband suggested that I put the story to one side and do something completely different. I wrote a few short stories which really invigorated my writing and I started to think again about writing a longer story, maybe a novel. I was searching for inspiration and then I thought why not take ‘The Prodigal Son’, one of the parables Jesus tells in the Bible, and update it to modern day England with two sisters as the main protagonists.

And it went from there. I’ve finished The Inheritance and I’ve published it. It’s available to buy now. My journey as a writer hasn’t been entirely straightforward. But I’ve got to the point where I have the opportunity to get my writing out there for people to read through the wonders of self-publishing and that is a truly wonderful feeling.

*       *       *

I know how long and difficult the journey can be from writing the first word of a novel to being confident enough to publish it and make it available to the world. With that in mind I hope you’ll join me in congratulating Elaine on her accomplishment and more importantly head on over to amazon to buy The Inheritance! Not only will you be supporting an indie author at the start of her publishing career but you’ll get to enjoy an excellent story too.

The Inheritance is available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. Elaine is celebrating her launch day over on her blog today so do please drop by and say hello to her if you have the time. She can also be found on Goodreads and twitter @ElaineJeremiah.

Massive congratulations Elaine! Here’s to the success of The Inheritance!

So, After the Free Weekend This Happened:

ButtStorm700x700CenteredIt’s been an amazing week for lots of reasons and after taking nine years from starting to write The Butterfly Storm to actually deciding to publish it, it’s been very exciting to see its journey over the past two months since I launched it. The same way as I wasn’t sure what to expect when The Butterfly Storm became free last Friday, I entered unknown territory when it went back to paid on Monday. To briefly recap Monday’s post, The Butterfly Storm was downloaded 19,823 times over three days and ended up at #1 in the UK free kindle chart, which was so much more than I could have hoped for. Prior to the free weekend it had sold a grand total of 86 eBooks.

Monday

I knew it was going to happen but it was still nerve-wracking to see The Butterfly Storm lose its top 50 ranking in the US and #1 spot on the UK free kindle store on Monday morning and drop all the way to #292,711 in the US paid kindle store and #79,936 in the Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 09.34.56UK (lower than it had been pre-promotion). Needless to say I stat checked at regular intervals throughout the day and was incredibly relieved when it began to climb back up the charts. By 11pm it had sold 20 copies in the US and ranked at #13,062, and had sold 33 copies, plus had seven borrows in the UK and ranked at #987. There had been actual sales and my nerves began to calm.

The Importance of Categories

Sales continued slowly in the US and steadily in the UK throughout Tuesday but by the evening and into Wednesday morning sales had all but stopped in the US and The Butterfly Storm, although selling in the UK, was heading the wrong way down the rankings. I began to get a little worried as despite having had a massive jump from #79,930 on Monday morning to #926 on Tuesday morning it hadn’t appeared in the popularity chart.

What did happen though on Wednesday was The Butterfly Storm made it into the top 30 of literary fiction and women’s literary fiction in books and the UK kindle store. It’s actually thanks to Joanne Phillips that I changed the category the book was in from family life to literary fiction on Monday after she mentioned in a comment on my post that The Butterfly Storm had only been ranked in one category (romance) whilst it was free rather than two. This is when I discovered that family life is only a category in the US. If I hadn’t have changed the category to literary fiction The Butterfly Storm would have been far less visible and what happened next I doubt would have happened.

Women's Lit No. 31 20 Tues 13th at 12.07.55

Moving On Up

By Wednesday evening with The Butterfly Storm making it into the top 20 of literary fiction and women’s literary fiction (in books and the kindle store) the sales took off in the UK (it had pretty much stopped by this time in the US). The Butterfly Storm started climbing up the rankings again and by Thursday morning it had reached #225 in the kindle store and was in the top 10 of literary fiction and women’s literary fiction, plus it made it to #58 in romance and #7 in the movers and shakers chart.

So, by 9.30 this morning The Butterfly Storm ranked at #124 in the kindle store, #4 in literary fiction and women’s literary fiction (books), #5 in kindle literary fiction, #36 in romance and #43 in movers and shakers. And as for how many I’ve sold since Monday?

  • US: 37 sold and 1 borrow
  • UK: 480 sold and 57 borrows
  • Italy: 1 sold
  • Canada: 2 sold

This all means that I’ve broken even and have covered my proofreading, cover and promotional costs and The Butterfly Storm is now making money. It’ll be very interesting to see how things go over the next few days. Sales are definitely better in the evening, presumably because the majority of people are at work or have other things to do during the day than download books, so I’ll see what happens. Plus I’m not allowing myself to look at the stats until much later today. Well, I’ll try not to look at least.

Well I Wasn’t Expecting That – Results of the Free Weekend

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 09.34.56Around 9am on Friday 9th I watched as The Butterfly Storm lost its £1.98/$2.99 price tag and disappeared from the amazon rankings altogether. *Gulp* what had I done? But literally within minutes the downloads started and I breathed a little easier. I have to say though, if I thought I was bad at checking the sales stats before, I’ve been addicted to clicking on my ‘month-to-date-unit-sales’ over the last three days.

The very generous Joanne Phillips, author of Can’t Live Without and the soon to be published cozy mystery, Murder at the Maples, did a very helpful post after her first KDP Select promotion last year with a breakdown of how it had gone, so I thought I’d do the same. This weekend has surprised me in a very good way. I was hoping to achieve at least 1000 downloads over the three days; the final total has actually been a staggering 19,823:

  • US: 12,336
  • UK: 7,264

I’ve also had 79 downloads in Canada, 90 in Germany, 19 in India and a handful in France, Italy, Spain, Japan and one in Brazil. The really interesting bit will be to see what happens to the sales in the next few days now The Butterfly Storm has gone back to paid.

Screen Shot 2013-08-11 at 16.04.53So, over the past three days I’ve gained nearly 20,000 new readers, whereas there had been a grand total of 86 sales pre-promotion. There have already been a couple more reviews posted on amazon, including a 5* review from a ‘top 100 amazon reviewer’ who wrote ‘I Loved this read with a capital L.’ I made it into the top 20 of the US free kindle store, the top 10 of contemporary romance and was #1 in the family life genre on amazon.com. But the most exciting thing by far was from Sunday afternoon, right through to this morning, The Butterfly Storm topped the UK free kindle chart at #1.

Amazon.co.uk contemp romance Sun 11th at 16.06.48

A special mention has to go to my friends on facebook (Sam, Soula, Helen, Jason, Donna) who did an incredible job of getting the word out and promoting The Butterfly Storm to their friends, particularly the very lovely Paula who has been a woman on a mission helping to get as many downloads as possible over the past three days. Thank you!