blogging, Incentives, Market Research, Newsletters

Blogging: What Do You Want? Newsletters: What Do You Need?


I read a lot of blogs, but nothing like as many as I used to. I’ve been wondering if they still have value, so if you called into my blog earlier today, you’ll have seen a different post on offer. (bonus points for anyone who knows what it was about!)

What do you look for in a blog? Do you like to read about a blogger’s news, details about their work in progress, extracts, guest posts, tips on the craft of writing, or general chit-chat?

Which blogs do you follow, and which are your favourites? I’m busy re-designing my own blog ready for the New Year, and I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Right now I’m working on my Autumn newsletter, which will be going out any day now. Do you subscribe to any newsletters? Again, I’d love to know what aspects of them you enjoy. How often do you like to receive them? What entices you to open a newsletter, when it arrives in your email inbox?

I use my occasional newsletters to keep readers up to date with what I’ve been doing over the previous months, whether I’ve been writing, working in the kitchen, out in the garden, or with the bees.


My subscribers are the first to see the covers of my forthcoming books, and I include one of my favourite recipes with each issue. The newsletter going out later this month features Roasted Tomato Tart, so if you’d like to find out how to make it, you can sign up to my mailing list here.

Thanks again to everyone who has voted for my books in the Romance Review Readers’ Awards.  The polls close on 31st October, so if you enjoyed the first two stories in my Princes Of Kharova series for The Wild Rose Press and you haven’t hit either (or preferably both!) buttons at the top of this page, please show your appreciation for His Majesty’s Secret Passion here and Her Royal Risk here.

Post your comments about blogging and newsletters before Saturday 17th October, for a chance to win a signed book. The draw will take place over the weekend, and I’ll post the winner’s name next Monday.

blogging, Corazon, Creative Writing, Ian Skillicorn, RNA conference 2014

Writing and Blogging: Going Solo by Ian Skillicorn

by Antonio Litterio

One of the sessions I attended at the RNA conference this year was Ian Skillicorn’s guide to publishing and marketing for writers. Ian has very kindly agreed to let me include my take on his talk. You can check out his Corazon website for details of his “day job”, but here’s a taster…

Running your own blog is  a vital part of your publicity campaign, but set a realistic blogging/social networking schedule and stick to it. Say “I’ll spend two hours a week writing my blogs, and post twice per week (or whatever),” for example. Consistency is key. Whatever social media you use, always keep the goals of who am I blogging to, what am I telling them, and why, in mind. Share yourself with your followers much more, and more often, than you plug your own book.
If blogging is a chore, share it by inviting guest posts, although be careful. Get guest bloggers to send you their text well in advance for vetting before the advertised publication date. That gives you time to edit, ask for revisions, or politely decline. Search for authors who blog in the same genre as you, and offer to swap blogs. The Novelistas group of writers do this, and it means each member only has to write one entry every six weeks. Before signing up to do a blog tour, investigate your prospective host online. How successful have their previous blog-tours been? 

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be covering some of the other sessions I attended at the RNA conference this year. To make sure you don’t miss any of the relevant blogs, join in by clicking on the “subscribe” box above, or just drop me a line to christinahollis(at)

#mywritingprocess, Bees, blogging, Creative Writing, Spring

Writing in a new season…

There’s no going back now – spring has definitely arrived here at Tottering Towers. The dawn chorus starts around 5am, and just about all the summer migrants have arrived apart from the cuckoo and the nightingale.

My bees are going mad, working over the fruit tree blossoms, dandelions (!) and spring bulbs. Colonies are expanding very fast, working all day and fanning all night as they drive excess moisture off from the nectar they’ve gathered. I’ve got everything ready in case they decide to swarm, but after two terrible beekeeping years, I’ve got my fingers crossed they’ll concentrate on consolidation this season, rather than expansion!

The cuckoo’s just arrived, so here’s something lovely to celebrate the event…

Have a great weekend!

blogging, Lemon Meringue, Rich Froning

Food, Men and the Weekend


It’s been suggested that the “men” part of this blog might be nothing but an excuse for readers to slaver over pictures of handsome men in various stages of undress. Not a bit of it. Our picture shows (as the seminars say) Mr Rich Froning, who among other things takes his religion seriously and shares his talents, whose work ethic make him summa cum laude, and a man I would still admire if he had a bag over his head. 

This week’s recipe is a delicious favourite that’s really easy to do, but does take time and organisation. I usually make the pastry case the day before we want to eat it, then do the filling, topping and cooking all in one go. Read through the recipe first, and it’ll all become clear.

By Jules

To serve 6, you’ll need-


6oz (175g) flour

3oz (75g) butter
Half an ounce icing (powdered) sugar
1 egg yolk
Approx. 1 tablespoon cold water
2 large lemons
1.5 oz (40g) cornflour
10fl oz (300ml) water
2 egg yolks
3oz (75g) caster sugar
3 egg whites
4.5oz (120g) caster sugar
First make the pastry. Sift the flour into a bowl, add the sugar & rub in butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, and enough water to make a firm dough. Seal in a plastic bag and leave to rest in the fridge for about half an hour.
Heat oven to 200 degrees C (400 F/180 fan).
Roll out the dough on a floured surface and use it to line a 9” (23cm) loose bottomed flan tin. Prick the surface lightly, line with greaseproof paper, add baking beans and bake blind for about fifteen minutes. Remove the paper and beans, and return pastry case for around another five minutes – until it’s crisped up, & turned a lovely pale gold.
Next, make the filling. Finely grate the rind from the lemons and squeeze out their juice (you can extract more if you warm the lemons in a microwave for 30 seconds beforehand). Put the rind, juice & cornflour in a small bowl & mix well together. Meanwhile bring the water to the boil, then stir it into the lemon & cornflour. Simmer this mixture gently until it thickens into a custard. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks & sugar. Stir this into the lemony custard, and bring it back to the boil, beating until it begins to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat, allow it to cool slightly, then pour it into the pastry case and spread it out evenly.

Finally, the meringue. Lower the oven heat to 150 deg.C (300 degF/140 Fan). Whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl until they form stiff peaks when you lift the beaters. Add the caster sugar a teaspoon full at a time, while whisking at high speed. When all the sugar is incorporated, spoon the meringue evenly over the lemon filling. Make sure there are no gaps. As a final flourish, twitch at the surface with the prongs of a fork to create artistic peaks. Bake at 150 deg.C (300 deg.F/140 deg.Fan, for around 45 minutes, when the surface of the meringue will be crisp and slightly tinted, and the inside like white marshmallow.

This is delicious whether you serve it warm or cold, and custard is the perfect accompaniment.

I’m blogging over at authorsoundrelations this weekend – I’d love you to drop by and comment!