Carrbridge in Winter - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography





Monday, 24 February 2014

Can we love all our babies equally? by Linda Mitchelmore


Many moons ago – way before I even thought about putting pen to paper to write anything more creative than a shopping list – I went on a motorcycle tour of Devon with my husband, riding pillion on his Norton.
            At a hotel in Ilfracombe we were asked by the proprietors if we’d mind sharing a table at dinner with another motorcycling couple. We didn’t mind at all.
Said couple were a fair bit older than we were.
            The wife, a wiry little bundle of nervous energy, opened the conversation over the starter thus: ‘I never meant to have five children. But when Derek came along he was so absolutely perfect and wonderful I couldn’t quite believe what I’d produced. You see, I am not good at anything normally. I can’t knit or sew. I’m not much of a cook. I don’t play a musical instrument, and I can’t sing. I was so thrilled with Derek I thought I’d see if I could produce another one the same, which I did as soon as it was biologically possible. Then someone told me that it’s not fair to have two children because mother would love one best, and father the other, and really you should have three for a bit of balance. So I had another. All boys. I was feeling a bit outnumbered now with four males in the house so we tried again and this time we had a daughter. Well, it wasn’t fair for her to grow up all Princessey being the only girl so we had another one.’
            Obviously, the above isn’t verbatim but it is pretty much how the conversation went. I was enthralled. My soup went cold as I listened to her. She, if I recall, passed on the starter. We never saw this couple again but I never forgot the encounter.
            And my life has turned out much the same really. I only ever thought I’d write one book, just to see if I could do it. But TO TURN FULL CIRCLE looked a bit lonely on the shelf, so I wrote a sequel. EMMA: There’s No Turning Back joined my ‘family’ in January this year. Both books are published by Choc Lit. Can you love your books equally, as we love our children equally? Both are lovely to look at but I do have a preference and I’m not saying for which. So… and you can see where this is going, can’t you? … was it time to balance things up a bit with a third? Yes, it was. So while I wait for ‘baby’ number three’s gestation period in the form of edits and a book cover my mind is already on the future…..five is a nice number, isn’t it?

Friday, 21 February 2014

It's publication day!

Just jumping in to tell you all that today is the official launch of the RNA's new anthology, Truly, Madly, Deeply. And I'm thrilled that I have a story in it!


The anthology contains 24 specially-selected stories from bestselling authors including Adele Parks, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews, Miranda Dickinson and many more - and the eBook edition includes 10 additional stories!

You can buy the ebook here, but if you'd just like to buy the 'chunk' that contains my story (shared with Maureen Lee and Cathy Hartigan), you can buy it for a bargain basement price of £1.59 from my Amazon page

My story is a historical - the first I've written. It's set in Calcutta in 1939, at the outbreak of the war. The heroine is an eighteen-year-old who has been abandoned in a Scottish boarding school by her parents for most of her young life and whose life is just coming good when she is summoned to India.

I'd be delighted if you'd give it a go!

Monday, 17 February 2014

A CELEBRATION OF AWARDS (AND READERS) by Gill Stewart

A selection of recently short-listed titles


A while ago I made a comment on this blog about some awards being  ‘…presented by literary…  writers to other literary… writers’, not necessarily for books that readers want to read.  So today I want to celebrate the shortlists for the Romantic Novelists Association Romantic Novel of the Year awards.  These are awards selected by readers for readers!

There are 5 categories for the awards:
Contemporary Romantic Novel
Epic Romantic Novel
Historical Romantic Novel
Romantic Comedy Novel
Young Adult Romantic Novel.
The winner of each category then goes forward to compete for the overall title of Romantic Novel of the Year, for which there is a very generous £5,000 prize.

It’s great to see this celebration of romance, of the readers and the writers, and already the awards have had quite a bit of coverage in the press.  I have to admit, being a long-time member of the RNA and now on the committee, it could be said that I am slightly biased here.  But hey, we’re all biased in some way.  And I just want to celebrate a list of books that are so diverse and so enjoyable.

The shortlists include a first novel by an eighteen-year-old Welsh A Level student (‘The Kissing Booth’, Young Adult), a 22nd novel by a man writing under the pseudonym Jessica Blair (‘The Road Beneath Me’, Epic Romantic Novel).  They take in well-known, multi-published names such as Jenny Colgan (last year’s winner) and Veronica Henry, up against much less well known ‘newbies’ like Carol McGrath and Liz Harris.  They also include books from relatively new publishing houses ChocLit and Accent Press alongside long-established ones such as Penguin.  It’s great to be able to celebrate this range of writers, publishers and unashamedly romantic novels.

Winners of each category and the overall winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on 17th March 2014, with the awards presented by Darcey Bussell CBE.  More details can be found on the RNA website http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Champagne Moments

by Jennifer Young

Image by BerndtF, public domain 
Less than a year ago, things weren’t looking good on the writing front. Wait; that’s an understatement. Things were looking pretty damn desperate.

I was struggling to write anything at all. Then I’d have a great idea and set to, yet somehow between my head and the page those sparkling phrases lost lustre and appeared in front of me in different shades of grey (but not, alas, fifty of them).

Years ago I took on board the eternal writers’ advice: never give up. I clung to it in my struggle. I sent things out. They came back. I sent them out again, over and over, until the game changed when I received a damning crit for a piece of work that I’m still deeply attached to. Heroine? A spoilt princess. Hero? Who’d want to read about him? Villainess, motivated by unjust hatred for our heroine? I can quite see where she’s coming from. Most damning of all, I was advised to go and find someone who actually knew about writing to read my work before putting it out to anyone else; I might learn something. How my writing buddies, Jenny and Dianne, must have laughed at that one!

After that I lost my motivation. I wrote…nothing. On the rare occasions when those sparking phrases popped into my head, they came with the ball and chain of that phrase; who’d want to read that? In short, I gave up.

My last piece of work was still out there, clinging on in cyberspace with two publishers. inevitably, the next thing that came in was a rejection. But it was a rave rejection. It told me all the things they liked about it. That didn’t hurt quite so much but I still knew that I was never going to put anything else out, ever again. Then, in late July, came the email. They liked it. They wanted to publish it. I went away on holiday to think about it and I came back believing. (And, incidentally, with a host of fresh ideas.) I decided to accept.

A couple of weeks after that I was on my way to meet friends for lunch. Outside the venue I stopped for a second to check my emails - and there it was, the final confirmation that my novel was to be published. In four months I’d gone from nowhere to somewhere. Six months further on, the book’s out and there’s no stopping me writing.

Fittingly, the friends I was meeting were all writers and we were meeting not just for lunch but to drink champagne. Believe, that’s my advice. Oh, and find some writer friends. And, most importantly of all, drink champagne with them on the day your dream comes true.


Thank You For The Music is published by Tirgearr Publishing.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A Costly Mistake, by Mary Smith

I am sure most of us are aware of the consequences of using pictures without checking the copyright and/or usage permission. I remember a couple of years ago getting in a bit of a panic over an image I used on this blog. I can’t remember where I came across it but it fitted the theme of my blog post and it seemed to be on a free site. When someone asked where I’d found it I panicked and pulled the image. It actually turned out the person wasn’t checking up on whether or not I was avoiding paying a fee but because she wanted to use it on her blog.

It taught me a lesson about checking the royalty/fee situation thoroughly before using any image. And I was lucky; I learned my lesson without any financial cost – unlike author Martin Crosbie. When he posted a feature on Indies Unlimited ‘Getty Images sued me for using one of their images’ and I asked if it would be all right to share his post on Novel Points of View blog.

He agreed and here it is:

“When I needed a cover for my first novel I purchased a few from several different royalty-free image sites, and then picked one. As I was perusing images, I saved a few in case I wanted to buy one of them later on. Months later, I inadvertently used one of those saved images in a blog post I wrote for my personal website. There was a small ‘Getty Images’ watermark in the corner of the image but I didn’t see it. Getty did though.

“The image ran on my site for six months and then I received a letter from Getty’s legal department claiming I owed them $1200 for copyright infringement. After several weeks of discussion the amount was reduced to $500.

“I do things a lot differently now. My cover designer charges less than half of that to put together a professional cover for one of my books and I don’t buy any pictures for my blog posts, or anything else for that matter. It was a lot of money; I paid Getty though. I’d used their photo and I owed the money, and when I checked their website $500 was the amount they were charging for that very expensive image. So, if you think your little blog isn’t being examined, think again. As their letters to me pointed out, even if you’ve purchased the image elsewhere, or don’t understand copyright laws, you’re still liable. I don’t put a lot of effort into my website, I devote my time elsewhere, but one of Getty’s bots saw the picture and they were happy to send me a letter. Be extremely careful that the pictures you’re using are either free images or that you’ve paid for them.”

I know I’ll be extra careful about using images – how about you?

Many thanks to Martin for letting me share his post. Martin Crosbie was born in Scotland and now lives near Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of the Amazon best-seller My Temporary Life and his self-publishing journey has been mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly, Forbes Online Magazine, and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. He has also published an excellent guide to ebook publishing called, How I sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle: An easy-to-follow self-publishing guidebook.  Learn more about Martin at his website http://www.martincrosbie.com or his Amazon author page