Blog, competitions

The Winner!

In my blog for International Women’s Day on 8th March, I asked which woman had inspired you. There were lots of nominations, from Jane Austen to the late Princess of Wales. They were all great, but one entry really stood out. Congratulations to Dorinda Cass, who nominated the English nun Mary Ward.

Portrait of Mary Ward, c. 1600, via Wikimedia Commans

Mary was an exceptional woman. Born around the time when Sir Walter Raleigh was setting up the first colony in North America, she was incredibly brave to travel as far and wide as she did, and all on foot. Her later life proves there was at least one still, small voice of calm in England, despite the turmoil of the Civil War.

Here’s Dorinda’s winning entry:

I find Mary Ward (1585 – 1646) an inspiration. She was born in Yorkshire during the English Reformation when Roman Catholics were persecuted and even executed for their faith. In time she was called to the religious life, regardless of the danger. She entered a monastery in France but found she wanted to be active in the community rather than living a secluded life. Travelling throughout Europe, on foot, she founded schools for girls.

In 1631 she was imprisoned in Munich as a heretic. Eventually, she returned to the north of England with her own religious community where she established a convent in Heworth near York. She survived the siege of York but died the following year in Heworth.

She is buried in the churchyard at Osbaldwick, near York. Her tombstone is now inside St Thomas’ church in the village. During her life she said that “There is no difference between men and women that women may not do great matters…and I hope in God it will be seen that women in time to come will do much.”

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI conferred the title of ‘Venerable’ on her. Although not a Catholic, or even especially religious, I think it is inspirational the way, against all odds and difficulties, one of which was simply being a woman, she was determined to do what she thought right. And she succeeded. Her view on women and what they are capable of was ahead of its time. It remains inspirational and relevant in the twenty-first century.

The City Walls of York. Image by 12019 via Pixabay

Contact me with your address, Dorinda, and I’ll put your signed copy of Struggle and Suffrage in Bristol into the post.

Thanks again to everyone for their suggestions!

competitions, Free Books, marketing, Promotion. Goodreads Giveaways

Three Ways To Get Yourself (And Your Work) Noticed…

By Warburg (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Bookstore In Florence

Even if you’re contracted to a big-name publisher, a writer’s life is no longer simply about plotting, characterization and dialogue. Typing “The End” is only the beginning. Nowadays, when it comes to writing books you have to “Tell them to go out and buy…” in the words of Tom Lehrer.
There are thousands of new titles put out by conventional publishers, small presses and indies every year. To make sure yours gets noticed, you have to connect with readers everywhere around the world. Here are three ways to get started–
WORD OF MOUTH: Book signings and personal appearances are always worthwhile, although traveling eats into writing time. Signed books sell well, but with the High Street in decline and libraries feeling the pinch you have to choose your pitch with care. Writers are often insular, so social networking online has become a great way to  meet and interact with readers. I love Twitter, Facebook and blogging. The main problem is, one thing so easily leads to another. Chats lead to exchanging links, which soon turns into surfing and Wilfing (“What Was I Looking For?”). That’s why it’s a good idea to set limits, and have dedicated burst of Tweet-time (or a regular  “Facebook five minutes”) and stick to it.
BLOG TOURS: Blog Tours are fun, and a great way to discover new sites and fellow readers (and writers). I used Romance Book Paradise to arrange The Weight Of The Crown Blog Tour for me. This meant I could hand everything over to the enterprising Nas Dean. I was then free to concentrate on writing my next book. Nas arranged loads of online play-dates, consisting of interviews and guest posts. Dropping in to answer comments at the various sites was a real pleasure. Nas collated all the questions, questioners and reviews. She also provided a detailed database of people who commented on my posts, so I could arrange the prize draws. And it’s not all one-way traffic: I discovered many great sites along the way, such as The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills (love that name!)
Everyone loves something for nothing, and these are a great way to get your work and your name out into the public domain. Try using the #free hashtag on Twitter. Goodreads Giveaways allow you to offer copies of your book. Readers apply, and Goodreads select winners and then contact you  with details of where to send the books. I’ve used this to great effect. Keep your eyes open for small, easily mailed things to use as prizes: scented soap, key rings, notelets etc. If you’re offering prizes to an international market, check regulations and in particular, avoid food. I have sent out pots of home-produced honey, but only to winners in the UK (and in proper honey posting containers. Imagine a messy, sticky trail all across the Post Office!) Despite the rise and rise of the e-reader, bookmarks are still popular. Don’t forget to include your website details and email address on them, and your readers will have a permanent reminder of you.  
Tell me your favourite ideas for marketing, for the chance to win a little goody bag!