Archive | February, 2013

How My Daughter And I Made Headlines Around The World – My Family Connection To The Titanic

23 Feb

I am asked about this story all the time, so if you’ll indulge me, I’ll take a little diversion from self-publishing this week to talk about my family connection to the Titanic.


My daughter Alisa and I on the cover of the Independent

It all started on April 8th last year. Actually, it started 100 years before that, but I’ll get to that part in a minute! My parents have always been interested in the Titanic. Partly, because my Grandad, Edgar Maher was there to wave off the original Titanic in Cork, Ireland 100 years ago.

Here is a picture of my Grandad as he looked then, complete with sailing boat. You’ll have to forgive the quality of the picture, but it is over a hundred years old!


Three years after seeing off the Titanic, he and his family took in survivors from the torpedoed ship, the Lusitania, when it was sunk by a German u-boat off the Old Head of Kinsale. Those weren’t the only disasters my Grandad was involved in. In 1947, he boarded a commuter train, then jumped off at the last minute, realising there was a faster one on another platform. The train he orignally boarded went on to crash into another train, killing 32 people in the South Croydon rail crash.

My family also had an ancestor on board the Titanic. His name was James Thomas Wood and he was a second class steward. His body was never found, and he left a widow, Sarah and two daughters.

Jumping forward to present day, my parents booked places for themselves on the Titanic Memorial Cruise, to mark the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. And thinking of my Grandad, waving off the original Titanic all those years ago, I thought it would be fitting to dress up my kids in naval costumes to see them off.


My son was two at the time of the cruise launch and spent most of the time running circles around my husband while we waited for my parents to board. My daughter, on the other hand was only eight months and content to stay in my arms. I thought dressing them up would be a nice surprise for my parents, but I wasn’t expecting the reaction my baby got from the passengers waiting to go on the ship. Someone came up and asked to take a picture with her, then another and another. Newspapers wanted to interview us. Camera crews filmed us. It just escalated from there.

We were on the BBC news when we got home that night. My 90 year old Nan got the shock of her life when she saw us! And the next day, we woke up to find that we were on the cover of the Independent. The picture was featured in dozens of other papers too, not just in England, but all over the world. I think my favourite was the Washington Post style blog. My daughter was only 8 months old and already she was a trendsetter!

Then I got an email from my local Rector to say he’d seen us on Yahoo news. My brother in Ohio confirmed that he’d seen it too and so had friends in Australia and other countries around the world. Ironically, the only people who hadn’t seen the pictures were my parents, as by now they were off on their trip. I’m just glad that this cruise ship had a happier journey than the original one and everyone returned safely from their trip.

Next week, I’ll be interviewing Vampire Queen, Jodie Pierce.


The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

21 Feb

A big thanks to Pete Denton for nominating me to take part in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. The timing is great, as my debut novel, FRY, goes on Amazon on March 12th.

Just a quick word about the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. It started on She Writes and has spread all over the blogosphere. It’s a great opportunity to talk about your latest WIP.

Here’s how it works:

If I tag you, use this format for your post
. Include an introduction to your interview post and a link to the person who tagged you for participation.
 Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress). Include some pictures if possible.

Tag five other writers/bloggers by sending them an email or commenting on their blogs and then add their links to the end of your interview post. The original posts stated their answers should go up the week after. I’m relaxed about how long you take to post. No pressure 🙂

The blog post should be labelled:
 The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

Easy enough post and good fun. Time for the questions!


1. What is the working title of your book?




2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Good question! Bits of it just flashed through my mind. Usually at completely inconvenient moments such as when I was blowing up a balloon or scaling a fish.


3. What genre does your book fall under?

Crime. Well, to be more specific, it’s psychological suspense, with a touch of romance.


4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My main character, Isabel would be played by Nicole Kidman. The villainess would be Christina Ricci and the hero, Deacon would be played by George Clooney. Except they’d all have to master the English accent and probably drop a few years in age.



5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Isabel Anderson’s new best friend, Alicia McBride is really a deadly, fire-starting, boyfriend stealing enemy, only no one believes her and everyone thinks she’s going crazy, including the police.


6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published. I haven’t even attempted to take the traditional publishing route. I want to get my book out to readers. I have nothing against traditional publishers, but I can’t bear the thought of my novel sitting on a pile somewhere, gathering dust when it could be in the hands of readers who might enjoy it.


7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Ha ha! Good question. In theory, I started it about 13 years ago, then had a more serious attempt about 8 years ago. I then started again about 5 years ago, when I took a distance learning course at the London School of Journalism. I just wish I’d done that sooner. Having a tutor really focused my attention and the feedback really motivated me. FRY would have been finished sooner but I had a couple of babies in the middle of writing it.


8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

FRY is a British Crime novel, but it’s not a police procedural as such. I would say it’s more in the tradition of Sophie Hannah and Julia Crouch.


9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I take inspiration from everywhere, from snatches of conversation, to the sound of feet on a marble floor or dropping a tin of baked beans on my toe. I’ve been inspired by every book I’ve ever enjoyed, regardless of genre. I also take a lot of inspiration from films such as Donnie Darko, The Exorcist and anything by David Lynch.


10. What else about your book might piqué the reader’s interest?

It’s really fast-paced, with an intriguing mystery that will keep you guessing till the end. None of my beta readers were able to predict what would happen!


Here are the writers I’m tagging. Check out their blogs, and look for their posts coming to a computer screen or smart phone near you soon!

1. (All Lornas know each other – fact!)

2. Rami Unger

3. Marquita Herald 

4. Damon Marbut

5. Thomas Rydder


It’s been great fun taking part in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Thank you for reading!

Taking the Traditional Route – Guest Post by ‘Dolls Behaving Badly’ Author, Cinthia Ritchie

13 Feb


When it came time to look for a publisher for my first novel, Dolls Behaving Badly, I had no doubt that I’d go the traditional route. I was working as a journalist at the time and every few days the UPS man would bring in a box of books for review. I’d sit at my desk, barely able to contain myself. Browsing through those books, so new, so untouched, was the highlight of my week. I loved the feel of the bindings, loved opening the first pages and reading the dedications, the acknowledgments, loved turning to the first chapter and not knowing how the voice would sound, if it would be lyrical and lovely or brisk and matter-of-fact.

In my mind, traditional publishing was the only way to go. I wanted the verification, the approval. I wanted to know that editors in New York (who all wore, I was sure, expensive shoes and sleek, tailored suits) were impressed by my writing, and my book. I wanted to feel as if I had made it.

Dolls Behaving Badly released last week through New York based Grand Central Books/Hachette Book Group. I have the verification, the approval, and though I’ve never met her, I imagine my editor wears expensive shoes and wears smart dark suits.

Yet, looking back, the whole process hasn’t been as seamless as expected. My book is out, yes, but the world isn’t mine. My life is basically the same. Except that now I must promote my book. And that means competing with self-published authors who have the freedom to set prices as they see fit.

Indie on the rise

Years ago, self-published books were viewed as a last resort for people without the writing or story skills to nab a traditional publisher, and most books were badly edited, badly written and badly produced.

That’s changed, however, and the past few years have seen since more self-published books hitting the New York Times bestseller list. In fact, one weekend last summer saw four independent authors snag seven New York Times bestseller spots.

Self-publishing is no longer reserved for old ladies writing their memoirs or housewives penning poetry about flowers and trees. Authors are producing professionally edited books with slick covers and clever marketing campaigns, and they’re edging ahead of higher priced traditionally published books.

This hurts. I know. My book sells for around $14 in bookstores and $10 for eBook format. That’s reasonable, or used to be reasonable.

Yet, I’m an unknown author and while there’s a good chance of people picking up my novel in a bookstore, there’s less chance of that same person buying it online for $10 when there are hosts of others selling for $5.99 and less.

Like all of us, readers want a bargain. They want a good read, yes, but they want to spend a reasonable price. They want to feel as if they’ve made a smart choice. They want to feel smart. We all do. Yet how smart is it to spend twice as much for one book than another?

Good news, bad news

The price differential between indie and traditional books is bad news for authors backed by publishing houses. The good news is that traditional publishers offer invaluable information and support when it comes to promotion. I’ve been lucky enough to garner positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Review, Booklist and Library Journal Review. The weight of these reviews, along with the reputation of an established publishing house, could take me far.

Could, that is.

When it comes down to it, we are all, traditional and self-published authors alike, fighting against thousands of other authors and thousands of other books for readers. It’s a daunting process, and many of us will lose.

Years ago Mark Doty gave a talk at my graduate school. He looked around at the forty or so of us gathered in that room and said (and here I paraphrase): “Only one of you will make it. It won’t be the best writer, but the most determined.”

This, I believe, holds true for post-publication authors as well.

Cinthia Ritchie is a former journalist who lives and runs mountains and marathons in Alaska. Her work can be found at New York Times Magazine, Sport Literate, Water-Stone Review, Under the Sun, Memoir, damselfly press, Slow Trains, 42opus, Evening Street Review and over 45 literary magazines. Her first novel, Dolls Behaving Badly, released Feb. 5 from Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group. 



Dolls behaving Badly is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Indie Bound. You can contact Cinthia on Twitter and Facebook.

Next week, I’ll be blogging about how my daughter and I made headline news around the world and my family’s connection to the Titanic.





Gearing up for publication

7 Feb

With just over a month to go until FRY goes live, I’ve been running around with my hair on fire, trying to get everything ready. No mean feat, when you’re a full-time mum to two active toddlers!Image

I’ve got a few blogs signed up for my blog tour, but I need to do more work on that. I continue to be active on Twitter and Facebook, have increased my network on Linked in, and have been exploring places like Goodreads, where I already have a good number of friends, but I haven’t interacted much yet.

Feedback has been tricking in from my beta readers. I’m still waiting on a few key people, but I’m getting a good overall picture. It’s interesting how people spot different things when they beta read. Some people pick through the book, line by line, querying hundreds of little points of grammar or fact. Others just enjoy the book and tell me they couldn’t put it down. The main query I’ve had is that it’s not completely clear that the book is set in the UK. I need to make some subtle changes to some of my police facts to put it more in line with the UK procedures. But also, the names of some of my characters, as well as the name of the town the book is set in, do not necessarily scream ‘England!’. Some readers thought it was set in America. One said Australia. I need to decide how important that is.

FRY launches on Amazon on the 12th March, and will be free for one day on March the 14th.

What do you think are the most important things you need to go to prepare for publication?

Next week there will be a guest blog from Cinthia Ritchie.

2 Feb

Reblogging this excellent post from Savvy Writers and eBooks online because its so incredibly helpful!

Savvy Writers & e-Books online



In the last blog post “Free Days on KDP Select – is it for you?” the pro’s and con’s of joining Amazon’s KDP Select program have been shown.  Today let’s look at how to prepare and advertise the free days for your Kindle e-book.

A month before your free days:

  • Make sure you have at least a handful of book reviews on Amazon
  • Update the books file and add some promotional links
  • Check that your book is in the right categories
  • Set up the best days for your “free” promotion
  • Write to all the free book websites and ask to announce your free days
  • Write an article about your books free days on your own blog
  • Raise the price for your book

A week before the big day, prepare a list with at least two dozen tweets (to post them at least every half…

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