Thursday, 29 September 2016

Christmas deliver - A Most Unusual Christmas

Out now - £1.50 $1.99

I love Christmas, but even so I always feel a bit premature putting up my Christmas title in September. However, as the Regency Romantics box set is coming out on October 9th I had no option, unless I was going to wait until November.
I love the cover by J.D. Smith – I'm sure her expertise is one of the reasons for my success.
Here is the blurb for the book:

Miss Cressida Hadley is delighted when Lord Bromley and his family are unexpectedly obliged to spend Christmas at The Abbey. Despite the fact that Lord Harry has a broken leg, her papa and the earl take an instant dislike to each other, the Dowager Lady Bromley drinks too much and her older brother, Richard has got into another scrape – Cressida is convinced she can overcome these difficulties and make the house party successful. However, she had not taken into consideration the fact that she might fall in love with Lord Bromley.

Just in case this isn't enough festive fun for you, I shall be releasing a box set with three previous Christmas titles in November.
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did writing it. It made me laugh out loud when I was editing it and that can't be bad.

Fenella J Miller

Click UK
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Thursday, 1 September 2016

Book Reviews – how important are they?


I'm not sure that reviews are as essential as some people think as far as sales are concerned. Certainly, I am not influenced by a book having a few one and two star reviews as long as they have just as many four and five-star. What I find suspicious is when a book has fifty five-star reviews and nothing else. Neither am I influenced by a book not having more than a few reviews – I rarely leave a review myself – and I think a lot of readers feel the same. Too much of a chore to go through that process.
However, I have been turned down many times by BookBub and I can't think of any reason why this has happened unless it's because I don't have enough reviews for the book I've submitted. The only book they have accepted –Barbara's War – and goodness me, what a massive impact that had on my sales and income – had twenty reviews and now has double that. None of my other books have as many.
Therefore, I just paid for choosybookworm to put my book in their system. It was £100 to do this which is quite expensive, but fortunately I'm in the position to be able to speculate a little nowadays.
This is what they do:
you submit your book and they see if it's up to the standard they wish to promote.
they then, on the given day, send your book title etc to their thousands of subscribers and the subscribers decide if they want to have a free book in return for a fair/honest review.
they guarantee you will get 30+ reviews and keep putting your book out there until you have achieved that.
The reviewer has to put a disclaimer at the bottom of their review saying they received a free copy in return for a fair and honest review.
They sent me an initial list of ten names and already eight of them have responded and received the file.
My worry is that somehow this contravenes the rules on Amazon that reviews mustn't be paid for. Giving a reviewer a gift card to purchase the book contravenes the rules – I pointed this out to choosybookworm and they immediately changed my submission so that I was offering files rather than gift cards.
The reviewer isn't paid any money – I'm paying the facilitator. Does this count as a paid review or is it the same thing as sending an ARC?
I certainly wouldn't have invested so much money if I didn't think it might help me get a BookBub promotion for this book. I don't like to ask my readers at the end of the book to put up a review – I already have my free book  advert there, which a reader receives in return for signing to my subscribers list. I think that's more than enough.
It remains to be seen if this works and when I have 40+ reviews I actually get accepted for a BookBub promotion. It's always possible I've been turned down another reason.
What do you think? Is this breaking the rules or an excellent opportunity for writers to get those extra reviews?
Fenella J MIller


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Miss Peterson and the Colonel

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CLICK UK
This book is on pre-order until 25th - it already has a 2* review left over from it's previous publication by Musa in 2012. These low reviews are always on the US site - I think a lot of American readers aren't in tune with English writing.
I've put up two covers images - can you spot the difference? Jane Dixon-Smith and I didn't and Amanda Grange had to point it out. The incorrect version was replaced the same day.
This is the last of my long back list - going to be hard to publish something every month, apart from December, in future.
Here is an extract from the opening of the book:


Lydia grabbed at the strap as the carriage tilted but failed to stop her undignified slide into the well. Her maid landed heavily on top of her. For a moment she lay winded, unable to move.
'I beg your pardon, miss, I couldn't stop myself from falling.'
'It's not your fault, Martha. I think we must have broken an axle. I sincerely hope the horses are unharmed.' With some difficulty she extricated herself and stood up. 'At least we are both in one piece. If I balance on the edge of the seat I believe I might manage to open the door.' She attempted the manoeuvre and the coach rocked alarmingly.
'Please don't do that, Miss Peterson. You'll likely have us right over.'
'Why doesn't Jim come to our aid? Do you think he's taken a tumble from the box. As Billy has gone ahead to order our refreshments he cannot assist. I must get out.'
This time her struggles sent the coach crashing right over. Her world turned upside down, her legs and arms became entangled with Martha's and it was several minutes before she was able to get both of them upright. The doors were now the floor and ceiling, the squabs pointing into the air. The sound of her precious horses panicking meant she had no option. If she did not get out and release them from the harness one would likely break a leg.
Martha screamed and pointed down. Lydia saw water seeping in through the door that now acted as the floor. They must have turned over into the ditch that ran alongside the road. 'Hold onto something, Martha. I think if I could step on your knee I might reach the door handle somehow.'
Her smart travelling ensemble was ruined, the hem already saturated with muddy water and her spencer in no better case. Her lovely new bonnet was hanging in disarray around her neck. Her sister had been most insistent she dressed in her best to meet the colonel, as the much longed for visitor was to arrive today as well. She was not going to impress anyone now.
The whinnying and stamping from the team had stopped. Was this a good or bad sign? Before she had time to consider, the door above her head was slammed back and a gentleman appeared in the space. His features were indistinct, but from his voice he was obviously well-to-do.
'Why couldn't you stay still, ladies? You have turned a minor accident into a major disaster. I have released your horses and attended to your coachman, however, now that you've managed to tip the carriage over there is nothing I can do to get you out without assistance. You must stay inside.'
The incredibly rude gentleman vanished as suddenly as he'd appeared, leaving Lydia up to her boot tops in freezing water. 'Come back here this instant, sir. You cannot abandon us in here.'
He slammed his fist against the carriage and shouted back. 'I cannot right the vehicle unaided, and can't pull you out through the door. You will come to no harm, the ditch is shallow, I shall be back as soon as I can.'
Then he was gone, only the sound of hoofbeats echoing in the cold winter air to keep her company. This was no gentleman. He had callously left her and Martha without making a serious attempt to rescue them. He could be gone hours. What about poor Jim possibly unconscious on the side of the road?
She would not remain incarcerated a moment longer.
'Martha, let me stand on your knee. If you brace yourself against the seat I'm certain I can scramble out.'
'It's a good thing you're not as short as me, miss. I'd not reach if I tried.'
With her maid as a stool, she grasped the edges of the open door. 'Martha, give me a push.'
Her feet were grasped firmly and she rose steadily. Throwing herself forward, she tipped headlong through the door and slithered, skirts and petticoats flying, down the side to land with a thud in the road. 'I'm out, Martha. I shall come back to you in a moment. I must check on Jim and the horses first.'
Three of the team were standing dejectedly in the shelter of the hedge that bordered the lane. There was no sign of Jim and the fourth horse. Good grief! The wretched man had used the lead horse to convey her coachman. Surely it would have been better to wait until a cart could be brought round?

Too late to repine. She must get Martha out and her precious chestnuts to shelter. The White Queen could be no more than two miles away; that must be where her would-be rescuer had gone for help. The thought of him returning and castigating her a second time prompted her to take matters into her own hands.

Hope you enjoy it,

Fenella J Miller

Monday, 1 August 2016

Not all bad news then!

So much has been going on in the world these past few weeks that it's almost a relief to be in August.
Britain voted to leave Europe – I certainly didn't – and since then the prime minister resigned and Teresa May took over. Brexit will certainly take place but how this will affect things in the future nobody knows.The rise in hate crimes has been horrific– which was one of the reasons I voted remain.
For me, on a purely selfish note, I'm financially better off. I get more than 50% of my royalties from abroad and, with the British pound being so low, I'm getting considerably more at the end of each month. Mind you, when the dollar was low and the pound was buoyant I lost out.
America has also seen extraordinary political upheavals. Hillary Clinton, who I like, has gained the Democratic nomination but Donald Trump has got the Republican one. How could this happen? I just hope that the American public have more sense than 51% the British people did in the referendum and elect Hillary Clinton.
On a personal front my husband, who has vascular dementia,  had a couple of health scares. I'm glad to say that he's bounced back and his GP, when he visited the house, didn't seem to think he was in any immediate danger of a major stroke which was what I feared.
The weather has been tropical the past few weeks and my tiny garden now looks splendid.
So – not all bad news then!
Best wishes
Fenella J Miller




Sunday, 24 July 2016

Thunderclap - is this a good tool for authors?

The final book in the Nightingale Chronicles series.
Out July 28th .
 A writer friend of mine, Jane Holland, asked me to participate in her Thunderclap campaign. I've never heard of this but was happy to help. It's usually a tool for good causes but is occasionally used for books as well.
I thought I'd try for my next book – the second and final part of The Nightingale Chronicles – One Good Turn.
So far I've only managed to gather just over 50% of the required one hundred supporters. I'm sure I've got more friends than that so I don't know why they are so reluctant to sign up.
I then discovered from two of them that they didn't want to allow Thunderclap access to their Facebook account. I tried to explain that this was no different to allowing a friend of a friend to post on their timeline – that it was a once only permission – but I don't appear to have convinced enough people that this is the case.
I'm not sure what else to do to encourage some of my thousand friends on Facebook/ thousand twitter followers and six hundred and eighty subscribers to my e-list to take the plunge.
The first book in the Nightingale Chronicles series
On the plus side I do seem to have gained more pre-orders than I expected so perhaps people who didn't want to sign for the Thunderclap have done this instead.
I had significant success putting the first book in my "At Pemberley" series free, with sales of the other two books going from almost non-existent to pleasing.
I put "For Want of a Penny" free last week so don't know if the extra pre-orders were the result of that or because of the Thunderclap campaign.
I believe that Sir John Betjeman once said, "I'll try anything once apart from incest and horseriding."
I'm with him on the first but not the second.
I feel a bit like that about all the new promotional innovations that are now available to writers. I believe there is something called tumblr and instagram but I've no intention of trying those.
Here is the link to my Thunderclap campaign:
Click here
 Fenella J Miller


Friday, 1 July 2016

A Spy at Pemberley – and other random thoughts about writing a series.

£1.99 & $2.99
A Spy at Pemberley is now live and selling quite well– thank you if you have already downloaded it. This is the final book in this series and I'm quite happy to leave Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice characters to get on with their lives without any further interference from me.
I've enjoyed writing these three books, but I think that the first Jane Austen variation that I did – Miss Bennet & Mr Bingley – is the closest to her style. I'm just re-proofing this and I seem to have the rhythm and language much closer to the original than in A Spy at Pemberley.
I'm not sure which I prefer. Today's readers love the characters but I'm not sure they enjoy the old-fashioned syntax as much. Certainly most of the books I've read in this genre are more modern in their language.
I have now written four series. Barbara's War – the most successful so far – has three books in it and I suppose could be called a historical family saga. As the title indicates Barbara is the main character throughout the series.
Then there are two, two book series. Victoria's War – again a historical family saga – and The Nightingale Chronicles. This is also a family saga, but a Victorian one, and follows a brother and sister, Alfie and Sarah.
The fourth series is still being written. This, The Duke's Alliance, will be six books. In each one of the six siblings of the Duke of Silchester is featured. The first two were published this year and I hope to get a third one out in December. The only character that features in each book is the duke himself and his story will be the final one.
I've also just started writing the first book in the fifth series – Ellen's War – which will follow her life as a female ferry pilot in World War II. These brave women (and men) delivered aircraft all over the British Isles for the RAF. They flew with no instrument training and had to rely on a compass and map to find their way about the country. They could only fly in reasonable weather and were not allowed to go above the clouds. This will also be a three book series.
The only individual title that I've written this year is my Christmas book – it will go into the Regency Romantic's boxset – and I'm rather missing the freedom of writing a single title book. I'm really enjoying writing the duke series as I'm not restricted to the same characters or settings.
I found the Barbara's War trilogy much more tricky as I had to keep referring back to make sure I hadn't changed my colours/names/ages.
Both traditional publishers and indie publishers seem to be producing as many series as individual books. This must be because readers prefer them. I certainly love the Lee Child books and all Bernard Cornwall's historical series. Christian Cameron, another favourite of mine, seems to be writing four or five different series simultaneously – I'm not sure I could juggle so many sets of characters at one time.
Do you prefer to read a series or a single title? If you write – do you write more individual titles than series?
Fenella J Miller

Monday, 13 June 2016

Jane Jackson - The Master's Wife

Pre-order now.

 Today I am welcoming Jane Jackson to my blog. Over to you Jane - tell us about yourself and your book.
I was moved to Cornwall when I was two. We lived in the nursery wing of a large mansion near Tregony until we moved to the village near Falmouth that has been my home ever since. Our house, three floors high, made of bricks that had been used as ship’s ballast, and with iron bars on the top windows, was one of a terrace of three constructed by a Captain Garland who built them as a curse on those who had refused him permission to extend his own house.
As far as my mother was concerned, the only curse was the primitive facilities: no mains water (this was obtained from the pump in the middle of the street), no electricity upstairs, a tin bath on a nail outside the back door, a Cornish range for cooking, and an earth closet toilet fifty yards up the garden. When my father arranged to have mains water laid on in the village, the local people complained bitterly. They didn’t like the taste!
My mother was an avid reader, and when I was three, she taught me a long poem to recite to my father on Valentine’s Day. I can still recall it word for word. I could read by the time I was four, and so began my passion for stories. We had a dressing-up box, and when friends came to play, I would make up stories that we acted out. I adored acting, and because I had a good memory (for learning lines!) often took the lead in the school plays. English was my favourite subject at school, and I loved writing compositions. I also helped win the inter-house cup for poetry recitation and prose readings, though this did not make for an easy life.
But gradually writing took over from performing. I was – and still am – fascinated by the whole process of creating the world of the story and characters who come alive as they cope with the dramas I create for them.
I left school at sixteen, and after working as a sales assistant in Boots, an insurance clerk, a police cadet, and a library assistant, I married. Sadly, the marriage failed. And at twenty-five, a single parent with two young children and an ulcer that meant I couldn’t work, I started to think about writing again. After taking correspondence courses in writing for radio and TV, and journalism, I realized that what I really wanted to do was write novels.
I remarried and had a son. But though my career blossomed, the marriage didn’t, and my confidence in myself, and my writing, disintegrated. It took a couple of years to get myself together. And after several false starts that really tested my courage and self-belief, I returned to my passion, historical fiction. In 1992 I married again – a triumph of hope over experience, but definitely a case of third time lucky. My three children are happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults. Having a doting husband, six lovely grandchildren and the best job in the world, I consider myself truly blessed.

 Passionate about history and my home county of Cornwall, I combine the two in writing historical romantic fiction. Three titles have been short-listed for major Awards.  Originally published in hardcover, large print and audio, all have been reissued by Accent Press as ebooks and in paperback.


The Master’s Wife


Jane Jackson

Second in ‘The Captain’s Honour’ series.  
Set in 1882: This is a sequel to The Consul’s Daughter set 1874 but can be read as a stand-alone book.


When Caseley and Jago Barata’s two young sons die in an epidemic while he’s away at sea, her grief and his guilt create an unbridgeable chasm between them.
Believing he failed Caseley when she needed him most, Jago cannot turn to her for comfort. Seeking escape from his guilt he takes up with his former mistress, devastating Caseley when she finds out.
Aware of Jago’s undercover work in Spain, and deeply anxious that increasing unrest in Egypt could lead to war, the British Treasury asks him to carry £20,000 in gold to Egypt to bribe the largest Bedouin tribe to take Britain’s side. 
Ambitious to make Egypt more like Europe, Khedive Said and his nephew Ismail had raised money for their grandiose but poorly-planned schemes through crushing taxation.  When that wasn’t enough, they took out huge loans at high interest rates from British and European banks. 
By 1876 Egypt faced bankruptcy.  Anxious to protect its 44% share in the Suez Canal, Britain demanded – and was granted- joint financial management of Egypt with France. Ismail was deposed in favour of his son Prince Tewfiq, and left for exile in Naples on a train loaded with gold, objets d’art, jewels and furniture. 
The poorest Egyptians saw little improvement in their lot. They toiled for overseers employed by large landowners and too often had to choose between buying seed for their own small plots, or a length of cloth to replace the rags that were all they had to wear. 
Wilfully blind to their own part in fuelling the upsurge of anger, the ruling elite refused to believe that the fellahin would ever rebel. But the Egyptian poor, who did not want their country ruled by Turks or by Europeans, had found a charismatic leader in Egyptian-born Col. Ahmed Arabi. 
Jago’s mission to Egypt would take him away from home for at least three months. Desperate to escape a house filled with memories and the pity she faced every time she ventured into town, Caseley pleads to go with him.  When he refuses out of concern for her safety she points out that for her the worst has already happened so what has she to fear? She reminds him the official language in Alexandria is French. She speaks it. He doesn’t. if only for this he needs her. 
Their journey into the gathering storm echoes their struggle to find a way forward from the loss that shattered their lives.  



‘The Master’s Wife’  ebook pub Accent Press £2.99  27th June.
Available for pre-order at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Masters-Wife-Captains-Honour-Book-2-ebook/dp/B01DPSLP5C


For more info about my books (with excerpts) please visit my website at:    www.janejackson.net