Crime… or romance? Cross genre writing with Linda Huber

Today, the Write Romantics, are handing over to one of our favourite authors – Linda Huber – to tell us what it’s like writing across more than one genre. It’s something we’ve been interested in for a while, and a great way to increase your readership and the scope to earn from your writing, so we hope you enjoy hearing Linda’s take on it as much as we did.

The nice thing about writing in different genres is, you can write to suit your mood of the moment – as I discovered last year. Up until then, my books had all been crime fiction. Not police procedurals, more character-driven psychological suspense novels. It’s very satisfying, creating bad guys and then making sure they come to a sticky end. Of course, sometimes the bad guys aren’t bad, they’re just ordinary people, in the wrong place at the wrong time – and that’s when the plotting really gets interesting. In my new book Baby Dear, we have a woman who desperately wants a baby. Another who isn’t sure if she wants the child she’s expecting. A third with a small boy and a baby, struggling to make ends meet and give her children the best possible start. And then there’s Jeff. His world collides with all three women, and the result is – in the book! The big advantage of writing crime fiction is, when people annoy you in real life, all you have to do is imagine them in the role of the victim in your next book. Also, there’s a certain macabre satisfaction in choosing creepy cover images. Or maybe that’s just me. I was quite happy with my psych. suspense writing, but then last year I discovered that the rights to some old feel-good women’s mag stories, published in the nineties and noughties, had reverted to me. I had the idea of putting a little collection together, self-publishing it, and donating profits to charity.

And so The Saturday Secret was ‘born’. As I chose my stories, and licked them into shape to republish, it dawned on me that working with feel-good texts can be balsam to the soul in a way that psych. suspense writing just isn’t. For one thing, your feel-good characters don’t go through quite the same horror-scenarios as your psychopath and his victims. It’s less exhausting. Doing your research is a lot less harrowing, too. (There’s little I don’t know about the decomposition of dead bodies in air-tight containers.) And your elderly relatives are more likely to approve of your new book.

Writing romance does have downsides, though. I need a third cup of coffee some mornings to get into a suitably feel-good mood, for one thing. And my characters seemed to end up with everything I’ve ever wanted. Hm.

At the moment, I’m enjoying the best of both worlds. I’m working on another crime novel, and also a trio of vaguely romantic novellas, and I really couldn’t tell you which I’m enjoying most. As I said, it depends on the mood of the moment…
Bio

Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but has lived for over 20 years in Switzerland, where she teaches English and writes psychological suspense novels. Baby Dear is Linda’s sixth psychological suspense novel. She has also published The Saturday Secret, a charity collection of feel-good short stories. (2017 profits go to Doctors Without Borders.) After spending large chunks of the current decade moving house, she has now settled in a beautiful flat on the banks of Lake Constance in north-east Switzerland, where she’s working on another suspense novel.

More About Baby Dear

Caro and Jeff Horne seem to have it all, until they learn that Jeff is infertile. Jeff, who is besotted with Caro, is terrified he will lose her now they can’t have a baby.

Across town, Sharon is eight months pregnant and unsure if she really wants to be a mother. Soon her world will collide with Jeff’s. He wants to keep Caro happy and decides that getting a baby is the only way.

Then Caro is accidently drawn into an underworld of drugs… Meanwhile, Jeff is increasingly desperate to find a baby – but what lengths is he prepared to go to?

Baby Dear is released on 16th May 2017 and available for pre-order now.

Find out more about Linda and her books at the links below:

Amazon Author Page: viewAuthor.at/LindaHuber

Baby Dear univ. link: getBook.at/BabyDear

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlindahuber

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaHuber19

website: http://lindahuber.net/

She believed she could and she did: An inspirational success story for any aspiring author

Back at the beginning of this month – on April Fool’s Day to be precise – it was the Write Romantics 4th birthday. In 2013, all ten of us were unpublished, aspiring writers, desperate to get that elusive break and put our books ‘out there’. Over the years since then, every time I’ve seen a wishing well – like the one at my local wildlife park – I’ve thrown in a coin for each of us waiting to get published and made a little wish that those dreams would come true.

We thought about doing an anniversary post on the 1st of April this year, but there were too many obstacles in the way – looming deadlines, new releases and those sort of knee-deep edits from which you can’t afford to come up for air. You see, in four short years, all ten of us have become published authors and there’s no need for me to use any wishes up on that these days.

I’m so proud of all of my fellow Write Romantics, but there is one member of our little gang who I want to single out. She was our trailblazer – the first to be published – and she never stopped cheering the rest of us on, loudly pronouncing that ‘you can and you will’ until every one of us could call ourselves an author. Not only is she a wonderful friend, who works long hours in a demanding job, but she’s an amazing mother and doting grandmother too, battling through medical issues for some of her family that would have anyone else on their knees. She really is someone the phrase ‘I don’t know how she does it’ could have been written for.

I’m looking at you, Helen Phifer! She’ll probably be cringing now, but I couldn’t miss this opportunity to tell Helen what an inspiration she’s been to me and I know I’m speaking for the rest of the Write Romantics too.  Those of you who are already fans of Helen’s work – which just proves what excellent taste you’ve got – will know and love her Annie Graham series, expertly blending horror and crime, which have climbed the best seller lists, giving the rest of us WRs something else to aspire to.

But here’s the thing, Helen took a leap of faith recently, signing to Bookouture to write her first crime novel, The Lost Children, without the horror focus that had always been her starting point.  A departure like this is no easy thing for a writer to do and I’m sure Helen felt an extra frisson of nerves when she put the book out there. Turns out, which is no surprise to the rest of the WRs, that Helen can write the sort of un-put-down-able crime novels that have the five star reviews rolling in and which sent the novel flying into the Kindle top one hundred as a brand new bestseller to add to her growing list. You can check out the reviews here if you want to know what people are saying.

As I said earlier, I wanted to let Helen know how much she’s inspired me. But, more than that, I wanted other aspiring writers to hear about Helen and everything she’s worked for. Taking a job with the police force to get her research just right, writing late into the night and in every spare moment to achieve her dream alongside those work commitments and a very busy family life. One of Helen’s favourite sayings is ‘she believed she could and she did’. So if you’re out there, dreaming of being a published author, then let Helen’s story inspire you too and make it happen – whatever it takes. She continues to inspire me and I couldn’t be more proud of my lovely friend.  Jo xx

Crooked cats, rescued dogs, love shacks and the chapters of life… They’re all in Tina K Burton’s writing life!

Tina BurtonOur guest on the blog today is the lovely Tina K Burton. Tina writes short stories, articles, novels, and even the occasional haiku. Both her novels, Chapters of Life, and The Love Shack, are signed with Crooked Cat Publishing. She’s working on her third novel, a story about a girl who dies suddenly, and finds herself back in the thirties. When she’s not writing, Tina spends her time crafting, relaxing with friends, and taking her rescued greyhound for walks across the beautiful moorland in Devon, where she lives with her husband.

We got loads of questions we want to ask Tina, so we can’t wait to get started…



What’s the best bit of feedback you’ve had about Chapters of Life?

One reviewer who loved the book, described me as an English Maeve Binchy. I was so flattered by that.

How important was it for you to sign with a publisher as opposed to going down the route of being self-published?

I had initially self published it on Amazon and Smashwords, but because so many people liked it, I thought it deserved to be with a publisher. I do think there’s more kudos to having a publisher, and other people seem to take you a bit more seriously too.

How did it feel the first time you saw Chapter of Life available for sale?

It was the best feeling in the world. I don’t think I’ll ever get blasé about having a book published though. For me, it’s such an achievement.

What has surprised you most about being published and has it lived up to the dream?

Yes, it’s a wonderful feeling. The only thing that would top it, would be walking into a bookshop and seeing my novels. I’m surprised at how many people have read and liked the book. I thought it was a good story, but we all think that about our books. It’s fab when other people think so too J

Your second novel is called the The Love Shack. How would you define love? sfondo arcobaleno vintage

Hmm. The feeling you get in the pit of your stomach, and your heart, when you think about or look at the person you love. Wanting to be with that person as much as possible, not being able to imagine life without them.

We love the name of your new novel, how did you come up with it?

I had the idea for a fun novel set around a dating agency, and was trying to think of names for it. That evening, I was running on my treadmill, while listening to my ipod, and the B52s song came on. I knew I’d found my title.

Can you tell us a bit about the plot for The Love Shack?

The main character, Daisy Dorson, stomps into The Love Shack, to complain about how useless their matchers are, and ends up getting a lot more than she bargained for. There’s plenty of fun, quirky characters, and of course lots of romance too.

What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done?

I’m not particularly romantic myself. I don’t like all that lovey dovey hearts and flowers stuff, but, I used to write little notes to my husband and tuck them into his lunchbox, so he’d find them when he opened his sandwiches at work. Nothing slushy, just things like, ‘Have a good day at work, see you later.’ I guess you could call that romantic.

author 2Who was your first hero and how do you think he’s influenced your writing, if at all?

I was in love with Donny Osmond when I was about twelve, ha ha. Apart from that, I’ve never had a hero really. I’m not that sort of person.

Do you think it’s true that you should ‘write what you know’ and, if so, to what extent have your experiences influenced your writing?

Yes I do. I like to read about ordinary people, and that’s what I write. I’ve worked as a youth counsellor, in a homeless centre, and in the funeral profession, and I think this has helped me to write characters with real emotions and feelings. It’s no good trying to write crime, if you’ve never read it or experienced it. Having said that, we can easily learn how to write a different genre by reading as much of it as we can and seeing how writers for that particular genre do it.

What are you working on at the moment?

A time-slip story about a girl, Emily, who dies suddenly, and finds herself back in the thirties. It’s a huge shock, but she’s looked after by her great aunt Clarissa, who explains she’s experienced Sudden Death Transition. You’ll have to wait to find out what that is. On the whole it’s a fun read, but it does have an underlying sadness to it.

Do you ever think about writing in a different genre, if so, what would you choose?

Well, I’ve written a couple of children’s stories, but haven’t plucked up the courage to send them off yet. It’s something I’d like to explore though as I’m a big kid myself most of the time.

What’s the hardest type of scene for you to write?

Sex scenes. In fact I don’t do them. I’d much rather just suggest what’s going to happen, with something like, ‘Jacob, grabbed Clara by the hand and with a meaningful look, led her into the bedroom.’ Readers have imaginations, I’d rather leave it up to them!

Can you tell us a bit about your other writing?dreamstime_s_28682146

I actually started by writing articles and short stories, which I’ve sold to the women’s magazines. I still do, and have articles on the OapsChat website, short stories up with Alfiedog Fiction, and stories in several anthologies.

Do you ever get writer’s block and, if so, how do you deal with it?

Yes I do, far too often. I start a quilling project – I’m a quilling artist – and that usually helps clear my head.

If you could have three writing-related wishes, what would they be?

That my books were sold in bookshops, that I actually made enough money to pay the bills, and that I can continue coming up with enough ideas to write future books.

What piece of writing advice do wish you’d known when you started out?

That it isn’t as easy as you think, it’s a long hard slog, but, the sense of achievement when you’re finally published makes it all worthwhile. Thank you, Write Romantics, I enjoyed these questions xx
Thanks so much Tina for joining us on the blog and we wish you every success with The Love Shack, which you can buy here.

You can also find out more about Tina and her books at the links below: http://tinakburtons.blogspot.co.uk/

@TinaKBurton

When one becomes three: Merryn Allingham on writing a trilogy

pic MaureenI was lucky enough to read an early draft of Merryn Allingham’s first ‘Daisy’ book, destined to become The Girl from Cobb Street, and so I was intrigued when I discovered that a sequel was in progress.  But it didn’t end there.  I’d always imagined that writing a series or trilogy was something that was meticulously planned right from the start, and in fact several of the Write Romantics have happily set off down that route themselves.  But in the words of the song, it ain’t necessarily so.  I’ll leave Merryn to explain how it worked for her:-

Authors are often encouraged to write sequels, or trilogies or a series featuring the same character. It’s claimed that in this way they’re more likely to attract and keep a bevy of loyal fans. To be honest, I’ve never been keen on the idea. I thought I’d grow bored with writing about the same character or the same place long before I ever finished the project. But when I came to the end of The Girl from Cobb Street, I realised that I couldn’t leave my heroine where she was. There was so much more of Daisy’s story to tell. Without realising it, I’d begun to write a trilogy.

It was something I’d never attempted before but it couldn’t be that difficult, could it? It was just three novels with the same female protagonist. Well, yes and no. Daisy Driscoll is my heroine in all three novels, but she’s not the same person at the end of book 3 as she was at the beginning of book 1. I had to make sure that her character developed in response to her experiences over the timespan of the novels, a period of ten years. And not just Daisy. It held true for every character who had a significant role. And those same characters would need to appear/reappear more than once, so that readers weren’t left wondering whatever happened to so and so? In other words, I had to finish their stories as well as Daisy’s.Cobb Street

Then there was the need for consistency. Not just details like the characters’ ages at certain periods (a timeline over three books is bound to be more complex) or their physical characteristics or their biographies – but making sure that there were no contradictions from book to book in their basic attitudes and values and how they expressed those attitudes and values. Or if there were contradictions, I needed to account for them.

I was well into the second book, which became The Nurse’s War, when it dawned on me that I needed to plot much more carefully. Not only did I need a beginning that would kick the whole trilogy off, rather than just the first book, but even worse, I had to know the ending of the last novel in order to offer clues along the way that would make the final dénouement plausible for the reader. Needless to say, there was some hasty rewriting at this stage!

I also had to reinforce the main themes of the trilogy – in this case, the growth of self-belief, the search for identity, the recognition of true love. I could see that I’d need to make them far more powerful than I’d first thought. Overarching themes, along with characters, hold the series together and act as a kind of umbrella, under which each individual title can shelter and connect.

NursesWar_FinalFinally, I had to deal with the problem of back story. How much or how little to retell with each book. Too much and the reader who has been following the series, becomes bored and may even feel cheated by any repetition. Too little and a reader who is new to the trilogy feels confused and annoyed with the writer for making their life difficult. It was a hard balance to achieve but I hope I got it more or less right.

Would I write another trilogy? Perhaps not, but a series that combined the same female protagonist with different mysteries or crimes in different settings – now that might be interesting!

The second book in the trilogy, The Nurse’s War, will be published on 21st May. http://tinyurl.com/m7oaxzt

Find out more about Merryn here:  www.merrynallingham.com

Facebook: www.tinyurl.com/m322ovu

If you’d like to keep in touch with Merryn, receive all her latest news and join a regular writing forum, you’d be most welcome to sign up for her newsletter.  (Just visit her website, as above).

Deirdre

Book Group: Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley

Shallow Waters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewing books had never been my forte, so this will only be a short review. I love to read and it’s the one thing I miss since becoming a published writer. I have such tight deadlines now that it leaves me very little time to read like I used to do every single day of the week.

However this month I had to find the time to read a book for this blog and I’m so glad that I did.

I chose to read Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley

It is a crime book of the highest degree and I would compare it along the lines of some of my favourite crime writers who have been writing for years.

The story follows DI Hannah Robbins and her team in the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, I was drawn into the story from page one and it just kept pulling me in. It is very well written, the story flows seamlessly and it was very, very believable.

This is the blurb from Amazon: When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.

Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team in the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock, they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.

But it doesn’t stop there.

When catching a killer isn’t enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?

It was hard hitting, page turning, thought provoking and heartbreaking. A fantastic read.

Next month is the turn of the very lovely Helen Rolfe who will be reviewing The Miniaturist by Jessie Barton.

Helen Phifer

 

Take a seat in Karen’s Reading Corner

karencocking faceOur guest on the blog today is Karen, from ‘My Reading Corner’. Karen loved reading from a very young age and over the years this passion has grown, now her idea of bliss is to curl up in a comfy chair with a good book.  Karen runs her book review blog alongside working full-time as a legal secretary and uses some of the commute from Essex to London to read up-to two books a week. In the picture below you can see Karen’s heaving ‘bookwall’, which she keeps in her spare room, but she admits she has overflowing bookcases elsewhere in the house too! So we’re really glad that Karen has been able to find some time to be our guest today and here she tells us all why books and blogging about them are so important to her.

Why is that you love reading so much
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I’ve always loved reading, and can remember from a very early age reading the Ladybird books and then progressing to Enid Blyton and then as a teenager turning to Agatha Christie. Other favourite authors of the time were Jeffrey Archer, Rosamund Pilcher and Maeve Binchy. I love to escape into a book and to use my imagination which is why the film adaptations of books rarely work for me as it spoils the image I have in my head. Apart from the occasional biography, I rarely read non-fiction.

What made you decide to turn that passion into a regular book-review blog?

I’ve been adding short reviews to various online book sites for a number of years and although sites like Goodreads are very useful for keeping track of books that I own, the cover pictures change (I like to have a record of the correct book cover too) and there’s no control over the site content. I decided to start my own book blog so that I could keep my reviews in one place and keep my own note of which edition I had read. I also wanted to share books that I had enjoyed and if my review helps someone to choose their next read, then that’s wonderful.

What are the best and worst things about blogging?

It’s always a pleasure to be asked to review a book by a new author and finding a little gem that otherwise might have passed me by – and to be ableKaren cocking2 to tell others about it. Some of my most enjoyable reads this year have been found this way and there are some indie authors that are now on my favourites list. Another is being given the opportunity to read books before they are published. I feel privileged that publishers allow me to access ARCs of their ebooks from sites such as Netgalley and of course it’s always exciting to receive paper books in the post – whenever I receive a book shaped package, I feel like a kid at Christmas!

One of the worst things is feeling under pressure to read and review quickly. I have a huge library of my own of both paper and Kindle books which I am longing to read but struggle to get to because much of my free time is spent trying to keep up with review books. I need to find that balance of being able to read both my own and review books.

What is your favourite genre?

I don’t have a favourite genre. My first love was crime fiction but over the years my tastes have widened. I enjoy reading women’s contemporary fiction just as much as crime and suspense.   I also enjoy reading YA books and some historical fiction, especially dual time novels. The one genre that I am really picky about is ‘chick-lit’ and I tend to stick to the same trusted authors or authors that have been recommended by book friends.

Has there been a book that you’ve been put off reading, perhaps by the cover or blurb, and then have finally read and really loved?

No, although there have been many books which I haven’t enjoyed despite the hype surrounding them. One that immediately comes to mind is The Time Travellers Wife. So many people loved this but I disliked it so much I couldn’t finish it.

Where’s your favourite place to read?

I have to be comfortable. I have a reclining armchair in the corner of my lounge (this is why my blog was named ‘My Reading Corner’) which is my favourite place to read, although sitting on the bed propped up with pillows comes a close second!

Have you ever considered being a writer?

Only in my dreams! The reality is that I know my limitations and I would not be good enough. I greatly admire people who can turn their hand to writing but it’s not something that I would consider doing.

How do you promote your blog?

Mainly on Twitter and Facebook. A few months ago I set up a Facebook page for my blog where I post reviews, share competitions and all things bookish. https://www.facebook.com/myreadingcornerblog.

Karen cocking1How many requests for reviews do you get in typical week/month and what’s your criteria for deciding which to review?

It varies, some weeks I can get several – both from authors and publishers. I suppose on average I get about 2 – 3 requests a week.   I always look at the book description to see whether it’s something I would enjoy reading and if it appeals then I say yes. Otherwise I politely decline. It also depends on how I’m asked. If a request is polite and unassuming then I am more inclined to say yes. If I receive an obviously ‘copied & paste’ email request with the book attached on the presumption that I will want to read it then that is an immediate turn-off. My blog has a review policy listing the genres that I read and it is often quite clear that many authors/promoters haven’t even bothered to read it before requesting a review.

Do you give bad reviews or only review books you’ve liked?

I will only review on my blog books that achieve a minimum rating of 3 out of 5 stars – if I really don’t like a book then I won’t include it on the blog. I want my reviews to be an honest opinion but I don’t want to be unkind. It’s extremely rare for me to rate a book as 1* (- it has to be REALLY poor) however very occasionally a book achieves a review rating of 2* and this would only appear on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads.   I don’t review every single book I read – if I’m reading one of my own books then sometimes it’s nice to just read for pleasure and not feel obliged to always post a review.

Have you got a top three of your all-time favourite books?

My favourite books change all the time. There are however two that have remained firm favourites over the years – To Kill a Mockingbird and Rebecca.

What sort of interaction do you have with fellow reviewers, authors and readers?

I think Twitter is wonderful for interaction with fellow book lovers and authors – what did we do without it! I love to see authors interacting with readers and it’s still a thrill when an author retweets one of my reviews or replies to a tweet. The downside of sites like Twitter and reading other book blogs is seeing all the new book recommendations which add to my ever increasing wishlist and ‘To be Read’ pile.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Just to say thank you for inviting me onto your blog. Having sent out my own questions for authors to answer, I can now see that it’s quite different being on the other side!

Thanks again for visiting us on the blog, Karen, we’ve loved having you stop by and it’s been great to hear what life is like as a book reviewer. If you want to find out more about Karen and her reviews at ‘My Reading Corner’ please following the links below:

https://www.facebook.com/myreadingcornerblog

http://myreading-corner.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter @karendennise

Serious About Series, a guest post from Zanna Mackenzie

ZannaM scale

Our guest today is the wonderful Zanna Mackenzie who has been a good friend to the blog since we started out over a year ago and is one of the contributors to our charity anthology. Zanna’s current release ‘If You Only Knew’ is available from Crooked Cat here. In her guest post, Zanna has stopped by to tell us all about a new found love of her own…


Series – Don’t you just love them?

I’m not talking TV series here (though I love many of those too!) – no, I’m talking about novels which come in series.

Other than Sophie Kinsella’s widely loved Shopaholic series and Kate Johnson’s wonderful Sophie Green Mysteries I hadn’t had much experience of book series until a few months ago, when I finally purchased a basic Kindle.

I wasn’t sure if I would take to the ereader or the concept of ebooks but so many great new releases seemed to be ebook only?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? versions that I thought I’d reached the point of having to give an ereader a try. At the time I was convinced I’d just use it for those ‘want to read a book but it’s only available as an ebook’ times and still get my usual paperback fix for everything else.

But two unexpected things happened….

First, I took to my Kindle straight away and it became my ‘must have’ accessory, always by my side.

Secondly, I discovered a whole new and exciting world of books and found my reading habits changed completely. Pre ereader I was a huge chicklit fan. After I discovered ebooks I found myself also drawn to reading a few new genres I’d only briefly dipped a toe into before. The genres…? Romantic suspense and cozy mystery romance.

I became a big fan of books where there was a crime or mystery to solve alongside a burgeoning romance between the male and female lead characters. I discovered books with characters who were female amateur sleuths, and books with spies, FBI and CIA agents. I tried lots of new authors; enjoyed books set in exciting adventurous locations such as Alaska and Canada and fell in love with a whole new and very different reading experience.

dreamstimefree_84378What delighted me even more was that many of these books were part of a series! If I like the writing style of an author then I’m keen to explore more books they have written. With a series where I’ve taken to the characters and their adventures continue in the next book, well, it’s a definite I’ll want to read them! Reading the next book in a series is like the chance to catch up with old friends, it’s wonderful. No worries about whether you’ll like the book or take to the characters or having to spend time getting up to speed with who is who, lives where or does what. You can immerse yourself straight away in the book and start enjoying it.

Many people in the publishing industry believe that writing a series of books is the way to go these days, whether each story is a novella or a full length novel. Though, as it’s thought the ‘ideal’ is to create your series by publishing a story every 3-4 months that would mean you’d need to be a very fast writer to put that number of full length novels out each year rather than novellas!

What do you think? Have you written a series? Are you thinking of doing so? What series have you read and loved?

Zanna Mackenzie is a former member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association’s New Writers Scheme (NWS). She has three traditionally published books available in paperback and ebook versions. Find out more about Zanna on her blog: www.zannamackenzie.blogspot.co.uk

Mega Monday Announcement – The Secret is Out!

Today the Write Romantics are delighted to publish a Mega Monday announcement about the brilliant Helen Phifer’s second novel – The Secret of the Shadows.  Helen’s debut novel, The Ghost House, was a runaway success, reaching the top of the Amazon charts for her genre and even knocking the mighty Stephen King off the top spot.  Helen has had a plethora of five star reviews for  The Ghost House but, because of the modest, unassuming and utterly lovely sort of person she is, some of her fellow Write Romantics are going to tell you what they thought of her debut, as well as how much they are looking forward to reading The Secrets of the Shadows:

Lynne – I loved this book!! It made my spine tingle from page one. I also loved the descriptions of the old house and the characters too. I’ve been waiting for Helen’s new book. Come on Helen, we want more!

Helen R – I don’t do scary books but I had every faith in Helen P to make me glad that I had made the exception… I just wish I hadn’t done it when my husband was working interstate! The Ghost House had me gripped with the suspense, the wealth of research that clearly went into it and characters who leapt off the page at me. I had better psyche myself up for the next one, well done Helen.

Rachael – I couldn’t put it down! It gripped me from beginning to end and I loved the story from the past impacting on the present.

Alex –  There were lots of things that l loved about The Ghost House.  The plot is excellent.  It’s a gripping, spooky twist and there are some truly heart stopping moments in it.  The other strengths are the dialogue, which is funny and feels very real, and Will who is a gorgeous hero.  I’m hoping to see a lot more of him in The Secrets of the Shadows.  I’m also thinking I’d better clear my diary for the rest of the week because I know, that like The Ghost House, I’ll be staying up late just to get it finished.

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Julie – Although my books of choice are mainly chicklit, I have been known to delve into crime and thrillers from time to time and thoroughly enjoy them. I was therefore really excited about Helen’s debut for several reasons: (1) She’s a Write Romantic and the first of us to be published so I was living the dream vicariously; (2) The book cover looked amazing; (3) It combined my 2 preferred reading genres so everything was set for a riveting read. My only disappointment was that I had to go to work which meant I couldn’t just sit for a full day and just immerse myself in it because Helen had certainly created a gripping page-turner. Mind you, it’s quite scary too so perhaps it was just as well I didn’t have a full day to just sit and read as I may have turned a bit skittish!

I absolutely loved The Ghost House. Helen created realistic characters who I cared about, fantastic imagery (I could really picture all the key settings without reams of description), realistic dialogue and an extremely interesting storyline which kept me gripped (and a little bit afraid!) As soon as I’d finished, I wanted to read the sequel and I was straight on Facebook to recommend TGH to all my friends. What was brilliant was when they came back and enthused about absolutely loving it too; gave me a warm and fuzzy glow that one of our group and a great writing friend had touched the lives of my friends and family too.

I downloaded The Secrets of The Shadows a few days ago and I think the front cover may even have surpassed The Ghost House which I didn’t think was possible. The storyline sounds incredible and I can’t wait to get cracking! Helen, you’re an inspiration to us all. Long may your success continue.

Jackie – Loved the Ghost House and am proud that Helen, one of The Write Romantics wrote it. It’s a mixture of ghostly and suspense with a bit of romance thrown in. What more could you ask for?

Jo – Like all of the other Write Romantics, I adore Helen and I wanted to love her writing too – let me tell you it exceeded all expectations and I know for sure that she is a superstar in the making.  The Ghost House was exciting, with characters and a storyline that drew me in from page one until the very end.  Like everyone else, I have been drumming my fingers impatiently and waiting for the follow up… Only I will never look at someone swinging a dog lead, with no dog in sight, in the same way again!

The Secrets of the Shadows is out now on Kindle and Kobo:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Secrets-Shadows-Helen-Phifer-ebook/dp/B00IIPHVFG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1396814233&sr=1-1&keywords=helen+phifer

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Secrets-of-the-Shadows/book-VZuruO558UaRkC67n89YSg/page1.html?s=kboGsvBuq0uMxSMNO-3ENg&r=2

http://www.carinauk.com/the-secrets-of-the-shadows

The Ghost House is available on a number of platforms via Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Ghost-House-Helen-Phifer-ebook/dp/B00EAPX6HU
Find out more about Helen and her books at the link below:

http://www.helenphifer.co.uk/

Jo’s NaNo Journey – by the seat of her pants!

Helen P and another writing friend, Vikki Thompson, inspired me to sign up for NaNo this year and I am loving it so far.  At the time of writing this, on Tuesday evening and five days in, I have just passed the 10,000 words mark.

The novel I am writing is my second one aimed at the women’s contemporary fiction market.  The first is currently with a publisher and has, if I was using X factor as an analogy, made the judges’ houses equivalent far.  The news should be in about whether they want to publish in January and so I would like a second book ready by then; either as a follow up or as another avenue of submission if the publishers don’t want book 1.  In between I have written a YA fantasy novel, which is currently with an NWS reader somewhere out there in the big, wide world.

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NaNo’ing has really pushed me to get going with Novel 2 and by the end of the process, at the current rate, I should be about three quarters of the way through.  I would rather clean toilets than edit my books, anyway, so I absolutely love the NaNo approach so far.  I took a similar approach with the YA book, writing a thousand words a day for three months, but I have almost doubled this quota with NaNo so far.

It’s not only the freedom to just write that I am enjoying , it’s also the way that writing and thinking about plot lines almost constantly has seemed to somehow kick-started my creativity.  I was out on a dog walk today, in the rain, and by the time I got home I had written a whole synopsis in my head for a potential crime novel.  I might never write it, but just seeing a ‘meals-on-wheels’ driver trying and failing to deliver someone’s lunch inspired an amazingly detailed plot.  If you’d told me a year ago that I would be writing or thinking about writing fantasy or crime novels, I wouldn’t have believed you.

So, if you haven’t NaNo’ed or considered NaNo’ing before, I would urge you to sign up next time around.  As someone on the NaNo forum I have joined so eloquently put it – we should definitely have November more often!

Jo x

A NaNo-Nosey Wednesday Wondering

Well, today marks six days since the start of Nano (that’s one fifth or 20% of the way through – my old maths teacher would be proud ;-)), so we thought we’d be nosey and ask you to share what your writing aspirations are between now and the end of 2013.  If you’re not a writer, please tell us what you hope to clear from your TBR pile between now and then instead.  Hopefully, by this time next year, in addition to having Helen Phifer’s second book in that pile, you’ll be able to add some of the rest of us to your reading list too 🙂

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you will already have heard the current writing plans for Julie, Jackie and Helen P.  In addition to completing  NaNo, Helen P is also contracted to complete a second novel for her publishers, Carina, following on from the fantastic success of The Ghost House.  So Helen has even more pressure on her writing aspirations for the rest of the year, getting this second novel completed and good to go, as well as completing NaNo, than the rest of us.

Lynne, Alex and Deirdre (who has been enthused to make a late sign-up to NaNo) tell us below about their current writing aspirations and, as with NaNo itself, for some that’s a carefully planned path and for others a journey of mystery and suspense.

Lynne:

I’m going to try to sign up to NaNo but I’m just going to write 50k words like crazy. I might finish my existing book or start a new one. I quite like the idea of just writing with no plan and see how that goes. I get lots of plot/scene ideas in my head quite easily and I wonder how it would work out were I to make them into a book…

Lynne

Alex:

By the end of the year I hope to have made the edits to Beltane that were suggested by my NWS Reader and got the MS in shape ready to start submitting.  I know from my day job that the business world tends to grind to a halt after the first week in December as everyone puts off dealing with anything new until after Christmas so I’ll hold off submitting until  early in the New Year.

Alex

Deirdre:

What I hope to achieve writing-wise by the end of 2013 has changed drastically since I suddenly decided to sign up for Nano, 5 days late as it were.  I’m a bit worried about taking a month’s break from my contemporary romantic, ‘The Promise of Roses’, which is my intended submission for NWS next year, but there’s no choice about that if I want to give Nano a serious crack.  Besides I’m loving the freedom of writing a brand new novel – working title ‘Dirty Weekend’ – especially as it’s different from my usual type of story.  If it continues to go well, I’ll try to complete the first draft of the Nano novel by the end of the year because it doesn’t seem the kind of book I can stop and start.  Hopefully I’ll also be close to finishing the first draft of ‘Promise’ by then too but I’m not setting myself any deadlines on that; as long as I can submit to NWS around March/April then I’ll be very happy with that.

Deirdre

 

Helen R:

I have edited my first manuscript again and finished another, so I’m really getting into it now! I guess my aspirations are as they’ve always been…keep writing, keep submitting, keep responding to feedback and keep heading towards the ultimate goal of publication.

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Rachael has promised to come along and tell us all about her plans too.   We look forward to hearing if you have similar aspirations to ours, or maybe you’re one of the mad bunch planning to achieve 150K by the end of NaNo?  There are some of them out there!

Whatever you are planning, we hope your writing dreams come true and, if you happen to be passing a wishing well, please throw a coin in for us too 😉

Jo