Friday, 30 March 2012

I Need a Title....

I have been requested by my publisher to change the title of my upcoming novel due to be released early in 2013. They feel they need to, and I quote: 'place the book squarely within a historic context' 

They have a point, as my original choice was an emotional one linked with the heroine's personal dreams. So what would be a suitable title for an English Civil War Biographical Novel?

I need something that will make a prospective reader browsing shelves in a bookshop immediately want to read the story. [My novel is going into bookshops - yay!]

So what makes a title stand out, reflect the era of the story, its setting and the specific trials of the heroine as opposed to a general Civil War arena? I have been wandering about in a daze for the last day or so, reciting phrases aloud and scribbling in notebooks, so everyone thinks my laptop addiction has finally got to me and I have lost it.

I enlisted my agent's opinion as well, and would be interested to see what everyone thinks of our combined suggestions - so if you feel inclined, do complete the poll on the right hand column.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Need A Laugh? Read This!

I read an article on this book in the papers and coincidentally heard an interview with the author, Jen Campbell on 'Open Book' on Radio 4 - it was so funny I am shamelessly quoting here - but only the tidbits she put on her own blog, so I hope she regards this as promotion not plagiarism. Jen Campbell's Blog is HERE

The book is exactly what it says on the tin, an anthology of things people are overheard saying in bookshops. Who could imagine setting out to write about that, but somehow it makes perfect sense - and it's definitely worth a look if you need cheering up or would simply like to shake your head over the odd things people say.

* * *
Customer: Excuse me, do you have any signed copies of Shakespeare plays?
Me: Er... do you mean signed by the people who performed the play?
Customer: No, I mean signed by William Shakespeare.
* * *
Customer: Hi, I'd like to return this book, please.
Me: Do you have the receipt?
Customer: Here.
Me: Erm, you bought this book at Waterstone's.
Customer: Yes.
Me:.... we're not Waterstone's.
Customer: But, you're a bookshop.
Me: Yes, but we're not Waterstone's.
Customer: You're all part of the same chain.
Me: No, sorry, we're an independent bookshop.
Customer: ....
Me: Put it this way, you wouldn't buy clothes in H&M and take them back to Zara, would you?
Customer: Well, no, because they're different shops.
Me: Exactly.
Customer:... I'd like to speak to your manager.

* * *
Customer: Hi, if I buy a book, read it, and bring it back, could I exchange it for another book?
Me: No... because then we wouldn't make any money.
Customer: Oh.

* * *
Man: Hi, I've just self-published my art book. My friends tell me that I'm the new Van Gogh. How many copies of my book would you like to order?

* * *
Woman: Hi, my daughter is going to come by on her way home from school to buy a book. But she seems to buy books with sex in them and she's only twelve, so can I ask you to keep an eye out for her and make sure she doesn't buy anything inappropriate for her age? I can give you a list of authors she's allowed to buy.
Me: With all due respect, would it not be easier for you to come in with your daughter?
Woman: Certainly not. She's a grown girl, she can do it herself.

* * *
Customer: I'm just going to nip to Tesco to do the weekly shop. I'm just going to leave my sons here, is that ok? They're three and five. They're no bother.

* * *
Customer: I read a book in the eighties. I don't remember the author, or the title. But it was green, and it made me laugh. Do you know which one I mean?

* * *
Man: Do you have black and white film posters?
Me: Yes, we do, over here.
Man: Do you have any posters of Adolf Hitler?
Me: Pardon?
Man: Adolf Hitler.
Me: Well, he wasn't a film star, was he.
Man: Yes, he was. He was American. Jewish, I think.
Me: !!!!!!!!

* * *
Customer: Do you think you could post this book to America for me, in time for Christmas?
Me: Yes. I'm sure we could. I'll just get the scales and I can work out postage costs for you.
Customer: You expect me to pay for the postage as well? I'm already paying for the book!
Me: ...

* * *
Customer: I'd like a Christmas book, about Christmas, that doesn't have anything to do with snow, or robins, or snowmen, or Jesus, or holly.
Me: ... right.
Customer: And no bloody carols, either!

* * *
Customer: Do you have any cards?
Me: We have some old postcards in a box by the door. Some of them have already been written on, though.
Customer: Oh, do you have one that says 'To Juliette, with love from Christine'? It would save me writing it out again, you see.

* * *
Child *to me*: Does Santa come to your bookshop to get gifts for kids?
Me *nodding wisely*: Yes. Yes. He absolutely does.
Child: That's awesome!
Me: Yes, it is.
Child: But...
Me: But what?
Child: But... Santa's really fat. I don't think he could squeeze through the gaps in the bookshelves.
Me: It's ok. He sends us a list before hand, and we leave the books by the door.
Child: That makes you Santa's elf!
Me: Yes... yes, I suppose it does.

* * *

Sunday, 18 March 2012

How To Be A Novelist

'You write now then do you?' A face from the past waylaid me one day with a squealed, 'And how aaaaare yooooou?' across a crowded wine bar. Over Soave [her] and sparkling water [me] she probed my chequered past without giving away too much about her own and delivered the above line with a slightly bored voice.
'Um, yes. I've written a few, but they aren't all published.'  
Authors are always reluctant to blow our own trumpet, because the first comment out of anyone's mouth at any sign of pride is going to be, 'I've never heard of you.'
'Oh, I never read books.' At my shocked/surprised expression she continues. 'Well, they take so long to get through don't they, when there are so many more interesting things to do. What type of books do you write?'
'Historical fiction.'
'Oooh, I could never remember all those dates and things.'
'Dates? I write about people caught up in historical events.'
'You know what I mean, but then you were always were good at history. It kept you in the top set even though you couldn't handle maths.' She lifts the bottle over her third glass of wine.'Are you sure you won't have some? It seems indulgent to drink the whole bottle myself.' Then she proceeds to do just that. 'You know, I may write a book one day. After all, if you can do it....'
'But you just said you never read.'
'What's that got to do with it, silly?' She emits a high-pitched chortle that doesn't fit with her fifty-year-old face. 'It's not as if you have to have any qualifications. I mean, you aren't a journalist or anything, though you were always top of the class in English. [How did she remember that when I cannot recall anything about her other than she always wore gorgeous shoes]
'So how do you write a book then? She asks.
I treat the question as serious, and while lulled into a false sense of security I begin to formulate a suitable answer that is doomed to remain unspoken.
'I mean,' she trills, acrylic nails flashing. 'It's not as though you have to write an original story, as there's no such thing.'
'I beg your pardon?'
'Well, think about it. Every scenario has already been written by someone, the stories are simply regurgitated in different guises.'
'Are they?'
'Of course. I would simply have to find a good one, change the names and locations, and there you go, I've written a new novel.'
'So it has nothing to do with talent, dedication, or learning the craft then?'
'Hmm... oh I suppose that comes into it, partly. But with computers it's so much easier than it was, say, in Jane Austen's time. Books write themselves now don't they?' Glances at her own empty glass. 'Do you want another sparkling water, dear?'
'No! er- no thank you.' I say through tightly gritted teeth.
'Just going to get another drinkie.' She wriggles off her stool. ' So glad I met up with you, darling. I quite fancy myself as a novelist. It will give me something to do.'
I give her a strained smile as she wobbles away on her Laboutons, and while she's chatting up a waiter half her age, I delete her number from my mobile.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

FREE Book Giveaway

Anne Brear's newly released Victorian Romance, 'To Take Her Pride',  is being offered FREE on Amazon for the next two days - Currently at No 5 in the Historical Fiction free bestseller list, I would love to help her make No 1!

Click the image for the download link.


1898 Yorkshire - Aurora Pettigrew has it all, a loving family, a nice home, a comfortable life. She’s waiting for the right man to offer her marriage, and the man for her is Reid Sinclair, heir to the Sinclair fortune and the love of her life.

But, Reid’s mother, Julia, is against the match and her ruthlessness unearths a family secret that will tear Aurora’s world apart.

Unwilling to bring shame on her family and needing answers to the allegations brought to light by Reid’s mother, Aurora begins a long journey away from home. She leaves behind all that is familiar and safe to enter a world of mean streets and poor working class.

Living in the tenements of York, surrounded by people of a class she’d never mixed with before, Aurora struggles to come to terms with the way her life has changed. By chance, she reconnects with a man from her past and before he leaves with the army to war in South Africa, he offers her security through marriage. Aurora knows she should be happy, but the memory of her love for Reid threatens her future.

When tragedy strikes, can Aurora find the strength to accept her life and forget the past?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Book Plug Alert

What's a personal blog for if you can't say nice things about your friends? I want to promote one of mine who has written some fabulous stories.  She decided to self publish these two novels, and I'm impressed that she is doing well, to the extent she has been offered a foreign rights contract.

'Sultana' and 'Sultana's Legacy', both take place in Thirteenth Century Spain during the final rule of the  Muslim Kings when the marriage of Fatima, granddaughter of the Sultan of Granada, and the Sultan’s nephew Faraj, causes a civil war. Faraj, struggles to regain his lost inheritance and avenge his murdered parents. Through the rugged frontiers of southern Spain, the burgeoning Christian kingdoms in the north and the desert states of North Africa, Fatima and Faraj survive ruthless murderers and intrigues, united against common enemies bent on destroying the last Moorish dynasty.

In 'The Legacy', Faraj and Fatima are the devoted parents of a large family, when a tyrant seizes control of the Sultanate of Granada. The power-hungry madman claims the throne and murders almost everyone Fatima holds dear. Fatima must preserve the legacy of her forefathers at all costs, risking everything, even the love and trust of her husband. Amidst treachery and intrigue, she stands alone against her adversaries, determined to avenge terrible losses.

This is not a genre I would normally choose to read about, but two chapters in and I was completely hooked with the beautiful writing, and well researched detail as to how the last Muslim family to rule Spain lived, loved and fought. The way she takes the reader into their personal and political lives, and her portrayal of the sumptuous Alhambra Palace is masterly.

Lisa has been researching this work for many years, travelling to Spain to do so and it certainly shows in her intricate detail and the emotion she has brought to her characters, their motivation and reactions to the violence and intrigue around them. The true story of Fatima and Faraj's arranged marriage when she was only a child, may not have begun as a love story, but the closeness and passion that develops between them over the years, carrying them through their various trials will touch your heart.

Lisa brings to life an ancient world filled with beautiful description and vibrant characters which transport the reader back to an ancient time. Filled with savagery as well as beauty and with lots of suspense, and vengeance, this story makes me wonder how anyone survived in those times.

Oh, and her other stories, 'On Falcon's Wings' and 'Long Way Home' are worth reading too!