Friday, 28 June 2013

To read or not to read reviews?

Well, it's got to the stage, after free samples being available for a few weeks, that my Avon Ladies have sent out The Silver Chain to Net Galley, a panel of online critics with the wherewithal to read ebooks, a group of experts bristling with opinions! The book is out there, and it's like walking out into the world and saying ta dah! How do those celebrities do it when they read the critics or face the paparazzi? Not that I'm famous or owt, but - I mean, this is why I became a writer, to share what goes on in my head, to be paid to put it to paper, sell it, have people read it, and yet I feel so exposed now!
The Silver Chain comes out as an e-book on 4th July. The critics are lined up on the website like an interrogation, a fan club or, perhaps, firing squad? The reviews are coming in dribs and drabs, and I approach with trepidation. Tiptoe up, see the number of stars, see the odd dodgy word, wonder if I should read on, panic, swerve away again. Of course it's great when people are enthusiastic, and any of you who are enthusiastic and reading this I LOVE YOU! But the negative comments cut to the quick. I even dreamed about it last night, that I was reading a horrible review spread all over the newspapers. You know,accompanied by that waking up at 4am with heart beating too fast.
BUT then you start to get real. It has to be said that on the whole the reviews have been pretty good, three to four stars. And they are LOVELY. Very detailed, very fair, and actually have made me think a little about certain aspects of the second book of the trilogy which I have just completed and am about to send the revisions to my editor. A couple of them have made comments which I will take on board.
It feels very personal, no matter what anyone says. But hey, I'll get over that, I daresay. I have to remember that I have the weight of Avon and Harper Collins behind me,and they reckoned it was worth publishing me, and that means the world. The doors writing this book, this trilogy, has opened are far beyond any dreams I had when I started writing novels aged 8! Workshops, readings, blog posts - it's a whole new world and most of it opened up within the last couple of months!
Anyway, let's hope that the majority of readers like it, and buy it, and want to read the entire trilogy!

The door opens.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Silver Chain

Here is the cover copy for the first book of my Unbreakable trilogy. Free samples are available now:

The e-book is out on 4th July:

'Being needed by someone is different from having power over them, and far more alluring, and I'm a fool for not recognising that. I'm a fool for not recognising you.'

Twin souls colliding? Or was Gustav waiting for her?

Young photographer Serena Folkes believes she's struck gold when the tycoon Gustav Levi offers to showcase her debut exhibition. But there are strings attached. Serena must move into Gustav's London town house and agree to pleasure him in any way he chooses. Patron and protegee, they are bound by the silver chain that symbolises this contract until the last photograph is sold.
As her work sells and Gustav's demands increase, Serena surprises them both with her feisty character and eager participation. It's not such a tough ask. Gustav is exotic and intriguing. She is hungry and willing to learn. Gradually she learns what demons have driven him to strike bargains rather than to trust. And when Gustav discovers that Serena's abusive past has almost destroyed her ability to love, he realises they are not so different after all.

Can they plan a future together, or will a single act of betrayal return to haunt them?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Avon Ladies

I wrote on Facebook last week that I had had a 'fascinating' day in London meeting some of the people involved in the editing, production and sale of my new Erotic Romance The Silver Chain, which is now available in free sample e-book form, and soon to be published both in e-book (4th July) and paperback (mid August).
  One of my friends, both literal and on Facebook, is a very successful Mills and Boon writer and asked me to clarify why I found it fascinating.
   When you have wanted to be a writer as long as you can remember - ok, 40 odd years now - have tasted intermittent publication and a trickle of royalties from erotic short stories and novels for 20 years, and been on the point of giving it all up to retreat into a darkened room to have a go at that 'literary' novel that is struggling to get out, it is quite simply the pinnacle of ambition, a writer's dream, to be asked by an established editor at Harper Collins to enter into the spirit ignited by 50 Shades and have a go at writing an equally good, if not better, trilogy.
   To have gone through the agonies known to every writer, the writing, revising, finally the long-awaited acceptance, more editing and proof reading before finally seeing the glorious cover before it goes to press is fantastic enough. But writing is such a solitary, soul destroying existence when the feedback feels so remote. To then find yourself walking into the head office of Harper Collins and be greeted with enthusiasm by all the lovely girls at Avon Books who think of me as Primula Bond, even though it's a pseudonym, was such an eye opener, and such a  vindication for all the efforts.
    I have been so reluctant to jump up and down (not that me old pins would allow it) with excitement at the opportunity they are offering me, and the potential offered by this book and its sequels if it sells well in the markets they are suggesting. But what I enjoyed about the meeting in London was manifold.
  1 They know my book its characters and its plot as well if not better than I do.
  2. They design a beautiful cover and are excited about it
  3. They go over the sequel with a toothcomb and ask me to make changes that make me feel a little like a pupil being given a particularly tricky piece of homework.
 4. They maintain their enthusiasim all the time I'm with them, and that continues over lunch at Pizza Express.
 5. I go back through London, my old stomping ground, get on the train, ponder a little about the work to come.
   And I feel like a writer who is being taken seriously.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Peace, perfect peace - with loved ones far away

I read in the Sunday Times about the Scottish writer of the No. 1 Detective series, McCall Smith, buying a 'chain of islands' in the Hebrides, as well as already owning a Highland retreat in Argyll. His new islands can only be approached by boat, and in good weather. You could easily be stranded there, I suppose, and there is no mention of daytime TV, cars or even the regular delivery of crates of Virgin Wines, either. So there would be nothing around you but the sea and the wind. Nothing to do but write.  Aah, the bliss of it. And what better target or aim in life than to be successful, rich and famous enough to give up the day job and be able to choose, even buy outright,  the location of your endeavours?
   I've said in my earlier blog about the pram in the hall being the enemy of good art, and surely a retreat somewhere to write would be the answer? In one's usual life - and I wouldn't give it up for anything - however much you try to close your ears to the arguments of your children or approaching footsteps on the pavement, or to the clock showing you that it's time for Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers on the telly, you are always going to be in demand or distracted.
    I believe Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas wrote in sheds at the bottom of the garden. Other writers use the kitchen table, or leaning on the top of the fridge. Barbara Cartland lay on a chaise longue with a series of indefatigable secretaries taking down her musings in longhand.  Jilly Cooper eschews word processors still. Barbara Taylor Bradford has a multi-room apartment in New York, but I daresay one room is soundproof and peaceful and furnished with a grand desk.
    But the dream of being totally alone. An island or remote cottage far away. Even a convent, for a retreat. I remember shocking my NCT group when we were newish mothers, by discussing a TV programme about women going on a retreat and saying how much I would love to do that. Get away from my babies? You bet! But only for a little while and OK, only in theory...
   But now that the kids are older, it could be less a theory, more a practical solution. My readers will know that convents feature a lot in my writing - I was educated at one, but although like all my mates I resented everything about nuns and boarding school, I have seen not only the erotic but the spiritual and solitary possibilities since 'growing up'. Also, as most convent girls will tell you, you never quite shake off the  influence of the enclosed, female world. Once a Catholic, and all that.
  Could you go to a convent to write an erotic novel? Why not? A retreat to examine your soul, but also to go away and be creative. Would you sit in your cell and write, or would you simply stare out of the window, as you would stare at the sea on an island? Would you start to miss your kids, and start to write real or imaginary letters home? Would the hours ticking by, the enforced peace, start to create their own pressure? What would it be like only being allowed to whisper through a grille, not even ask someone to pass the salt at mealtimes?
  Could you, in fact, write just as productively if not in your own home, at least in a little workshop or studio down the street, in the middle of the bustling city, say, where the voices and footsteps would be those of strangers and therefore of no concern to you other than as creative/fictional/erotic possibility?
  I'd like to think, as I do with everything, that it would be a matter of compromise, both in task and in timing. The worst bit of writing anything is the blank page/screen. To be far away, forced to be silent and alone, to get the novel started, could work really well. A proper, regimented  timetable of walks and breaks for coffee would work well, too, because that would not always work at home when you are being diverted to the phone or to Tesco. So I would say in this dream scenario a week of solitude would work, at most. Perhaps 10 days to get the first draft done.
  Then the less arduous task, depending on how much your editor wants you to change, of going over the second draft, could be completed back in the bosom of your family. So long as they leave you relative peace when you need it, and only come in to give you a kiss or a chocolate biscuit.