Blog, Extract, Writing

Summer Sunshine For A Wintry Day

Find out more at My Dream Guy

How is your weekend going? Will you be going back to work with a smile, or a scowl? If this cold snap makes your next holiday seem a long way off, treat yourself to my short summery romance, My Dream Guy.

It’s only £1.99 ($2.77) and you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Whatever your device, whether it’s desktop, laptop or handheld, Amazon has an app that will let you read My Dream Guy. It doesn’t matter whether you use Windows, Mac, iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7 or BlackBerry.

My Dream Guy is a story of lost love, past and present. All the fizz has gone out of Emily’s romance with Jack. Will their holiday at Feinwen Farm save the day? Or will the bronzed farmer who bewitched her there when she was a teenager sweep her off her feet a second time?

In the little taster that follows, Emily has dragged herself into work after a terrible weekend. She’s not looking forward to her working week—but things are going to get a lot worse for Emily before they get better!

…As I talk, Grace looks more and more thoughtful. It’s obvious she wants to say something, so I go quiet. If you ever want someone to spill the beans, try the silent treatment. Most people can’t resist filling the void with the sound of their own voice. Grace is no exception. She picks up a pencil, and twiddles it between her fingers. All the time her brow is wrinkling.
‘Em…I never thought I’d say this about Jack, of all people…but you don’t suppose…’ she looks up at me from under her brows. It’s like she’s trying to get me to join the dots, but she’s the only one with a pencil.
‘You don’t think he’s got…’ she swallows, then purses her lips so her next words sidle out in a whisper, ‘another woman?’
‘Jack?’ I squeak. My Jack? My sweet, funny, gorgeous, guy? But he can’t be carrying on with somebody else-he’s my perfect man!
‘Don’t look like that. You’ll get frown lines.’ She says, as though all her fooling around (especially on Saturday nights) hasn’t been the cause of scars in the past.
If Jack is seeing someone else, that would explain all his recent “business trips”. During the week, if he’s not working late, he’s charging all over the country on site visits. I spend half my time missing him, and the other half wondering where the magic went as he nods off in the back row of the movies yet again. I mean, how can anyone get so tired they sleep straight through Fury Road? And when we’re together and Jack manages to stay awake, there’s the chirrup of his blasted phone coming between us whenever things are about to get interesting, if you know what I mean.
Yes…if Grace is right and Jack has got someone else, it would explain a lot…

Download My Dream Guy now, to find out what happens next!

author brand, best selling books, Brigid Coady, John Jackson, Katie Fforde, Lancaster, Liz Fenwick, social media, Writing

Notes From The RNA Conference, 2016 —Author Marketing: Brand, Plans And Goals

I had a great time at the RNA Conference 2016 in Lancaster last week. It was four days of networking, industry appointments, and fun. 

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some of the notes I made on each of the sessions I attended, so follow this blog using the sign-up on the right of this page to make sure you don’t miss anything!

To kick off, here are a few bullet points from the Author Marketing Session, presented by that great double act, best-selling authors Liz Fenwick and Brigid Coady. All the photographs are by John Jackson. I know my limitations behind a lens…

Brigid Coady
  • Start by writing the best book you can. All your marketing efforts should take second place to that. 
  • A brand is a promise. Every interaction with your readers should add value to your brand, and create an emotional attachment.
  • Katie Fforde and Carole Matthews are fantastic “brands”
  • What are you willing to share online? Does it fit with what you write?
  • R J Ellory, the crime writer who faked his own reviews, was cited as a “damaged brand” which is taking a long time to recover.
Liz Fenwick
  • Avoid politics and religion when you’re interacting online
  • Keep a flow of information and interaction between you and your readers on Facebook, Twitter etc, always promoting the same values
  • Find out everything you can about your target audience. If they’re Australian, make sure you’re on social media at midnight, etc. Be where they are, when they’re there. 
    Lancaster University Campus

  • Use scheduling services  such as Tweetdeck, but take care tragic international events don’t overtake your happy tweets.
  • Support local bookshops and library campaigns to get your name out there. 
  • Engage your reader with everything from the cover, through blurb, bio, photo and your first page.
  • Use Facebook Author page to monitor stats and help understand your audience.
  • Liz and Brigid decided they spent about 3 hours writing and 1 hour on marketing, every day.
Don’t forget to follow my blog by signing up at the top of this page, to make sure you don’t miss the next instalment of my notes from the RNA Conference, 2016.
creative process, Mentor, Romance Writers of America, Romantic Novelists' Association, Writing

So You Want To Write A Book? Part Four…

1. Whatever you write, pour your heart and soul into it. If you believe in your work, then so will your readers, and you want to appeal to the widest possible audience. Read widely, join book clubs and talk to people. The more research you do into finding out what people like to read, the happier you can make them.

2. Find yourself a successful mentor, preferably by making personal contact through your membership of a good professional group, such as the Romantic Novelists’ Association, or the Romance Writers Of America. You need someone you respect, who knows what they’re talking about, who’ll be honest about your work, and suggest ways you can improve. If you can’t find any face-to-face guidance, go online and check out popular writers whose work you admire and see if they’ve produced any guides to writing that will help you.

3. Word of mouth recommendations drive the majority of book sales, so think creatively when it comes to getting your books into the hands of willing readers. If your book is good, your readers will spread the word far and wide, at no expense to you. Above all, enjoy your writing and remember—success isn’t only measured in financial terms. To have completed a book you’re proud to have written is a great achievement.

To make sure you don’t miss any of my top tips, follow my blog using the sign-up form on the right hand sidebar of this page. I send out a newsletter a couple of times a year with news about my writing, country life, competitions and offers—join my mailing list here.

Creative Writing workshop, Part Two, RNA, RWA, So You Want To Write A Book?, Writing

So You Want To Write A Book? Part Two…

1. Read as much as you can. Don’t restrict yourself to the genre in which you write. Try everything, from classics to pulp, new to old, fiction, faction or non-fiction. For instance, how many of these have you read? That’s this week’s homework! 😉

2. Join a class in creative writing, whether ‘real’ or online. It’s where I got my big break. Visit your local library (in this age of cuts to budgets, they need all the support they can get) to find out about local groups for readers and writers, and check out online sites such as

3. Join groups such as The Romantic Novelists’ Association ( in the UK or Romance Writers of America ( who provide lots of useful information and contacts. The Marcher chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association has been a great help to me. The support of other writers, and the constructive criticism provided by writing workshops is invaluable.

To make sure you don’t miss any of my top tips, follow my blog using the sign-up form on the right hand sidebar of this page. I send out a newsletter a couple of times a year with news about my writing, country life, competitions and offers—join my mailing list here.

3 Top Tips, ambition, creative process, So You Want To Write A Book Part One, Writing

So You Want To Write A Book? Three Top Tips…

By Antonio Litterio

1. Start with social media. There are two great reasons for this: commitment, and publicity. Talk’s cheap. Anyone can say they’re going to write a book. When you put the word out about your ambition on Facebook, it’s there for everyone to see, for all time. You’ve made a commitment. Your friends can encourage you. Post extracts, and Tweet teasers to get feedback from your audience. They’re potential readers for your finished book. Let them in on the ground floor of your ambition.

2. Set aside some dedicated writing time every single day. Carry a notebook with you everywhere. Keep a diary, and make quick notes about everything you see, hear and think. If you only manage a handful of words a day, that will make a sizeable haul in no time. You’ll have created a source of inspiration you can draw on, all through your writing career.

3.  When you get a minute to yourself, alone, read your work aloud. You’ll catch all sorts of things you don’t notice when you’re in the act of writing. Injecting some feeling into your precious words as you speak will make the good bits sing, and encourage you. It also shows you where you need to add punctuation, or alter your sentence structure.

To make sure you don’t miss any of my top tips, follow my blog using the sign-up form on the right hand sidebar of this page. I send out a newsletter a couple of times a year with news about my writing, country life, competitions and offers—join my mailing list here.

Heart Of A Hostage, My Dream Guy, newsletter, Princes Of Kharova, Romance, short stories, The Wild Rose Press, Writing

This Writing Life—Cover Reveal for My Dream Guy… 
In my summer newsletter, I held a competition for readers to choose between potential covers for my next short story, My Dream Guy. The names of everyone who voted went into a draw to win a preview copy of my next short romance, My Dream Guy, and Emma’s name was first out of the hat. Here’s the cover my subscribers chose. What do you think? 

My Dream Guy is based on a holiday OH booked as a surprise when we hadn’t been together long. I really did not want to go. I was too busy at work, the weather had been foul for weeks and wasn’t forecast to get any better, while to cap it all, this was an outdoor activity holiday. I’d much rather sit in a wood than fly through it on a zip wire, but when you’re first in love, you don’t always say things like that out loud! I was all ready to be a martyr, but I got a big shock when I discovered my own dream guy had hidden depths… 

Emily gets a wake-up call too in my new story, My Dream Guy. The sparkle’s gone out of her relationship with Jack. She’s started hankering after the guy who was her first crush. Back then, Harri was a bronzed, twenty-something farmer who hardly paid any attention to the tongue-tied kid camping in his field with her family. Now Emily’s older, she’s thinks Harri the Hunk’s going to be the best thing about her dreaded holiday to a Welsh campsite, during the wettest summer on record. 
She’s in for an enormous shock—and then her boyfriend Jack springs an even bigger surprise. 
Can Emily’s holiday from hell ever have a happy ending?
There’ll be more about My Dream Guy in my autumn newsletter. That will have all sorts of news about life here at Tottering Towers, including the latest on Heart of A Hostage, the next book in my Princes Of Kharova series for The Wild Rose Press, an update on my bees and the kitchen garden harvest, together with a seasonal recipe, and a competition for subscribers only.
 My next newsletter will be out in the autumn. To get a copy, you can join my mailing list here: 

earnings, Money, RNA, RWA, SOA, Writing

How Much Money Is Your Writing Making…

By Antonio Litterio

…For Other People?

It used to be almost impossible to get published. Hardly any publishers would look at unsolicited manuscripts. Unless you had an agent, you couldn’t get anywhere. Agents had such a huge pool of talent to fish in, they could pick and choose whether or not they even answered your enquiry.   If you were desperate to see your work in print, the only other option was vanity publishers, who wanted a lot of money from you, then delivered very little.

The explosion of self-publishing and the huge presence of Amazon has changed all that. Getting your name on the cover of a book is practically obligatory these days, and to upload your work in the hope your blog (or ebook) goes viral costs nothing. Or does it?

I’m not talking about the cost of stationery, computers, writing courses, and subscriptions to group such as The Society Of Authors, The Romantic Novelists’ Association, or the Romance Writers of America. All these are vital, practical, tax-deductible, and in the case of stationery and local group meetings, recreational. (I’m a kid in a sweetshop when it comes to browsing round anywhere like Staples.)

It’s the little extras that add up to big deductions. The 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey discovered that over three-quarters of writers earn less than £600/$1,000. If you can bear to see the painful facts, read more here. When you consider that even big publishers expect you to spend money (or at least plenty of time, which comes to the same thing in the end) on publicising your book, you’ll see it’s important to spend carefully.

If you go the route of conventional publishing, all the editing, production and artistic costs should be covered by the firm. Some tiny independents may ask for a sub. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a vanity outfit—they may just be keen to get some help with costs, which will secure your devotion to their cause. Get your contract checked by The Society ofAuthors or a literary attorney, to make sure.

If you decide to self-publish, join a group such as The Alliance Of Independent Authors, and do plenty of research. Spend money on getting your work professionally edited, and in hiring a good cover artist but beyond that, think carefully about whether you really need all the dozens of other lovely services on offer. Always remember, the definition of an expert is only a person who knows 3% more than you do! Keep your eyes and ears open: word of mouth is as good a way to find reliable editors and artists as it is to find good books.

And don’t think that once your book is out in the public domain all you have to do is wait for your £600 to come rolling in.  Not only are there sharks circling before you publish, the virtual high seas are full of pirates. Philip Pullman put it perfectly when he said “Stealing music and books online is like picking pockets”. You can read more of what he said here. It’s not a happy article but as they say on the true crime programmes, “don’t have nightmares”. Writing’s the best job there is. Look on anything you earn as a bonus (but make sure you hang onto as much of the money you get as you can!).