Sunday, 14 August 2016

Miss Peterson and the Colonel

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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





Monday, 6 June 2016

Ellie Holmes – taking the indie route with her debut novel – The Flower Seller

 Today I'm delighted to welcome Ellie Holmes to my blog. I read her book, The Flower Seller, ten years ago and thought it a wonderful read. However, like many new writers, Ellie was unable to find a traditional publisher for this book even though she had a top agent on her side. Therefore she has decided to go the indie way and I'm sure she'll be very successful.


THE ROAD TO PUBLICATION
Ten years ago I dreamed of being published the traditional way, vanity publishing aside, it was the only option available. With the ink still wet on my contract with a London literary agent, I was full of optimism.
The Flower Seller came close to securing a deal with a couple of publishers but ultimately I lost the slot to other more established authors with proven track records or the money men shook their heads.  Other near misses with future novels followed and then the world started to change.
I read “Self Printed The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing” by Catherine Ryan Howard and decided to leap into the unknown. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly.  Burning bridges is never pleasant. But in my heart of hearts I knew it was the right decision for me. How much longer did I wait for a trad deal? What if it never came? Better to regret the things that I have done than to regret the things I never had the courage to try. And so I began my journey through the dark forest of self-publishing.  It was an unfamiliar and scary place full of traps for the unwary. There were so many new terms to learn, so many new skills to acquire, so much knowledge to soak up and try to retain.
What have I discovered on the way? That the self-publishing community is a friendly and encouraging group of people.  I have found the Alliance of Independent Authors http://allianceindependentauthors.org/   phenomenally supportive and informative. The blogs and articles so generously written by Alli’s contributors have been invaluable to a newbie like me.
I wanted The Flower Seller to be the best quality book it could be so I took time to get the edits right and I hired a professional editor, proofreader and cover designer.  I particularly wanted an eye catching cover that would appeal to readers and stand out and Berni Stevens certainly delivered 
The Flower Seller finally went on sale on 2nd June. It’s been a long time coming but all the more sweet for that.
Many years ago I thought the road to publication ran in a straight line and for some it does.  My route was a little more circuitous - more country road than motorway.  You could say I took the scenic route! I am glad I did – I am a better writer as a result. 
And just to prove you never know what might happen next, as I was putting together The Flower Seller for publication, I sold my first piece of work to a trad publisher. I’m used to those kind of kinks in the road now.


 Ellie Holmes writes full length commercial women's fiction with a touch of romantic suspense and romantic mystery novellas - books that have heart and soul with a dash of danger. Ellie takes her inspiration from the beautiful Essex countryside and the sublime Cornish coast. Romantic and engaging, Ellie's style of writing will draw you in and keep you turning the pages. Heart-warming stories and compelling characters will stay with you long after you close her books.  The Flower Seller is Ellie’s debut novel.

Twitter @EllieHWriter
http://www.pinterest.com/EllieHWriter

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Conflicting opinions and statistics – who are we to believe?

Today there was another post from someone or other who thinks that all indie publishers should be herded into a corner and shot. (I'm deliberately not naming this particular person.)
No – that's obviously not true – but he does suggest all titles from indie publishers should be removed from the bookshelves of bookshops and libraries and put in a separate section. This, he states, will be of benefit to everyone as readers can then make an informed choice about their reading.
CLICK HERE UK
CLICK HERE US
He goes on to state categorically that the majority of indie published titles have no editing, unprofessional covers, and more often than not, set out to deliberately deceive the reader. They do this by putting a link to the end matter in the book so Amazon will think the reader has finished the book.
Of course there are scammers, I talked about them in my last post, but I don't know of any writers who do this.
He states there are so many bad indie titles available they are swamping the market and this is why the sale of e-books is going down. He also says indie writers are unprofessional because they don't buy ISBNs for their books.
Readers are not stupid and don't buy books they don't like. They search for books in a category and then refine their search by the quality of the cover and the blurb. A lot of them will then use the "look inside" facility on Amazon and only then buy the book.
I don't know any indie writer who doesn't employ an editor, proofreader and professional cover designer. The majority of us buy in the services that would be supplied by a traditional publisher and quite often get a far better job done. The number of typos and formatting mistakes I find in traditionally published books now is horrific.
We price our books to sell – that's why we now have more than 50% of the market. I'm pleased that paperback sales from Amazon are growing again – that's good news for everyone.
The reason the statistics appear to show a decline in e-book sales is because very few indie publishers buy ISBNs. They are unnecessary, costly and not worth the effort. Only books with an ISBN are counted in the Nielsen statistics which is why they are erroneous.
Data Guy uses the correct information and his figures are much more reliable. He looks at the e-books in the 'bestsellers' lists of each category and then uses that information. Sensibly he doesn't care who they are published by when he's doing his overall results. However, he does analyse the publishers as well and puts this in a different group of graphs,
In conclusion I'd like to say to this blogger that, not only are his facts incorrect, but both the tone and the inference of his post are offensive.

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CLICK HERE UK

This is our summer box set containing five books from best selling and award winning Regency writers. Two of the stories haven't been published before.