Saturday, 4 August 2018

Rights...

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In the past, I have derived a substantial part of my income from women's magazines. I have written many, many stories for them - long, short and medium-length - and a goodly number of serials. They used to pay for First British Serial Rights (meaning they got to publish my words first) and there was usually an agreement that I wouldn't re-sell or re-publish them for a year. The copyright remained with me.

I was, needless to say, entirely happy about the situation. Some magazines paid better than others, but it was all fair, all above board, and I RETAINED THE COPYRIGHT.

One magazine I wrote for rolled out new contracts asking for global rights, but not exclusivity, so I was free to re-sell on myself if I wanted to (I do). I didn't like the idea that they could also re-sell on without paying me anything. I no longer write for them.

Woman's Weekly are now asking for all rights. ALL RIGHTS. Even copyright. So if I sell a piece of work to them once, that's it, it's gone forever and I will never again be paid for the use they get out of it. I will also never be able to expand it, add more story strands, give the characters enriched lives... I won't, in other words, be able to reap the benefits of my own imagination and of the not inconsiderable amout of work it takes to create a believable world.

This is totally unacceptable. I will not write for them again until fair contracts are resumed. The thing is - women's magazine fiction is important. It is often the only fiction people have time to read. The reach of women's magazines is immense. My words have touched countless thousands of lives. By driving good, strong writers like me away, the magazine is impoverishing the very readers who keep them in business. They are dismissing both writers and readers as irrelevant.

Not well played, Woman's Weekly. Not well played at all.
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Sunday, 8 July 2018

Poems as character snapshots

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Poems are helpful for all sorts of things, from celebration to closure. I also use them to capture moments, to capture feelings and sometimes, to capture characters.

This is one I wrote a long, long time ago. Every time I read it, I can conjure her up. And every time, I understand her a little more.


Cutting Chips  by  Jan Jones


She cuts chips the long way
One slice at a time
Thanked me with remote eyes
when I told her how it could be done faster
but said there was more to life than speed

She fills whole afternoons shopping
Looking for things not to buy, reasons not to buy them
Changes her clothes several times a day
as an excuse to move from one room to another

She inhabits the kitchen distantly whilst we crack beers,
Eat dinner at peak acceleration, rattle through the washing up
Sits alone in the lounge in the evenings
with a CD and a glass of sherry on a drinks mat.
He always hated rings.

We ask, does she want to come out with us tonight?
She smiles and shakes her head
She’s going to watch television
There’s a programme later on about making ravioli

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Saturday, 14 April 2018

Bargain!

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To celebrate the release of A RATIONAL PROPOSAL on April 19th (which is my fifth Newmarket Regency and the first in the Furze House Irregulars set of books), I have reduced the price of THE KYDD INHERITANCE, which was my first Regency romance.

The price will be 99p in the UK and $1.40 in the US for one week only: April 14th to April 20th 2018.

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THE KYDD INHERITANCE is the prequel to the Newmarket Regency series and stars Nell Kydd and Hugo Derringer. It opens with Nell's brother missing, her father dead and her loathsome uncle not only ruining the family estate with his mismanagement but also trying to marry Nell off to an amiable friend who would drive her demented within days. Then Captain Hugo Derringer comes to stay in the district and nothing will be quite the same ever again.

The Kydd Inheritance was shortlisted for the RoNA Rose award in 2012.
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Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Furze House Irregulars

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Sorry for the recent silence. I'm busy writing the fifth in my Newmarket Regency series, which I'd thought was going to be a stand-alone, but which my idiot brain suddenly had the bright idea of turning into the first of a new set of four (maybe) books set in both Newmarket and London. It was a little like walking into an inn courtyard and discovering an entire new house lurking around the corner.

As this brainstorm happened a third of the way into the writing, it necessitated a fairly lengthy and somewhat panic-struck reappraisal of what was and wasn't going into the book. Also how I would finish it off as a stand-alone, while still leaving room for the other three.

Confused? Yes, me too. Pretty sure all will be well though. Fairly pretty sure.

This book is called A Rational Proposal and will hopefully be out next month. I'm still thinking about covers, but here's a tiny snippet from the opening page.

CHAPTER ONE

Kennet End, Newmarket, October 1817

 
Miss Verity Bowman, undoubtedly by design, was looking particularly fetching, framed in the window seat of the dower house wearing a demure black mourning gown. Only the cut of the material and the subtle sheen of the satin and perhaps the double row of tiny black buttons gave away the fact that it had come from one of the more exclusive establishments on Bond Street.
    Charles Congreve, invited to sit down and be comfortable, appreciated the picture she presented, fully understood why her uncle had made her his heir, and desired nothing more than to strangle the pair of them. Sadly, there was little to be gained in strangling a man who had departed this earth just ten days since. In addition, the legal brotherhood tended to look askance at those of their members who took to throttling clients. Which, he was very much afraid, Verity was about to become.
    Unaware of his less-than-affable thoughts, Verity smiled warmly as he took a seat. “Charles, how lovely, such an age since we have seen you. Mama and I are so glad it is you dealing with this sad business, though I do hope nothing very dreadful has happened to poor Mr Tweedie?” 

    Verity had happened to poor Mr Tweedie. Charles's senior partner had taken one appalled look at the codicil appended to Admiral Harrington's will (a document that had been perfectly sound in wind and limb when it had left his own chambers), made an astringent remark about amateur notaries in Newmarket who didn’t have the wit to know better, and announced himself to be at a delicate stage with several cases, too much so to travel into Suffolk to undertake the process of winding up the late admiral's affairs. Not that there would be any, he'd added as an aside, the admiral being a very clean-living gentleman. Just the small weakness when it came to the turf. He was confident Charles would manage.
    “Thank you,” Charles had replied, feeling anything but grateful. “You have recollected Miss Bowman is my mother’s goddaughter and a particular friend of my sister?”
    Mr Tweedie had looked at him over the rim of his spectacles. “Naturally, I have remembered. A family attorney never forgets anything. Nor, as I am sure I do not need to remind you, does he allow personal considerations to influence his judgement. I repeat, I repose complete confidence in whatever decisions you might find yourself making. You had best leave directly after the funeral.”
    So now Charles murmured his partner’s excuses about having a great deal of urgent work, was pressed to take tea and macaroons by mother and daughter, and his portmanteau was carried up to a guest bedroom just as if he was an invited visitor and not a common attorney. And all he could think of was how far Verity’s intelligent brown eyes were going to widen when he broke the terms of Admiral Harrington’s will to her. And then how far they would narrow. And how he had rarely, if ever, managed to get the upper hand of her in all their dealings together.



Thursday, 8 February 2018

RoNA 2018 shortlists announced

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It must be spring at last - the shortlists for this year's RoNA Awards are now out.

The judges are going to have their work cut out to decide between so many fabulous authors and books!



Tuesday, 28 November 2017

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It's here! It's up!

I have - amazingly on schedule - finished expanding the fourth title in the Penny Plain series of novellas. The Christmas Gift is set just before Christmas and features petty thieving, an old photo of a wartime wedding, Penny's family, Leo's family, a nativity, snow, the boat club and the return of Penny's Aunt Bridget from her globe-trotting adventure.

Now for a break from Salthaven to do some work on my next Newmarket Regency.

I think, though, I really think I'll be back.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remembering

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The Bloodswept Lands installation three years ago remains one of the most powerful and moving pieces of art I have ever experienced.

Remembering it today.
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Friday, 3 November 2017

Local Secrets

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It's the beginning of November and I'm on track with the expansion and republication of my Penny Plain Mystery series.

LOCAL SECRETS is the third story, full of graffiti, town planning and - appropriately at this time of year - a mystery from WW1 thrown up by the Salthaven war memorial.

Meet Penny's son Noel, home from university for a 'reading' week, and join Penny and Leo as they solve all the puzzles and grow closer together.

Friday, 29 September 2017

The Jigsaw Puzzle is back!

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The new, expanded version of The Jigsaw Puzzle, the first story in my Penny Plain series, has now been published on kindle.

New cover, a lot more words, same Penny and Leo.

I'm expanding the second story - Just Desserts - even as we speak. My aim is to have all four of them up by December, ready for new projects next year.









Aren't the covers lovely?
That's the excellent Jane Dixon-Smith at work again.



Tuesday, 12 September 2017

ONLY DANCING in large print

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My 1970s flashback mystery ONLY DANCING is now available in Large Print, so if you prefer your books in  paper-and-ink version do please order it from your local library. Every scrap of Public Lending Right is gratefully received by an author.

Caroline knows revisiting the music of her growing-up years will be painful to her feelings. She has no idea that the David Bowie Is... exhibition will have a profound effect on the rest of her life. What starts in bittersweet nostalgia ends in very present danger.

ONLY DANCING can also be bought in the kindle version.

Whichever format you choose, I hope you enjoy!


Sunday, 21 May 2017

Free sample!

Early sample of A Question of Thyme!

I think - if I have got this right - that if you click on https://www.instafreebie.com/free/PieOI

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you can claim the first chapter or so of A Question of Thyme.

I might be wrong, however. Do let me know!


Monday, 8 May 2017

A Question of Thyme

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My new book A Question of Thyme will finally be published on June 4th this year.

Finally?

Well, yes, because it feels as if I have been writing this one for ever. It started - as these things do - as a good idea. Then it grew and it still seemed good, then it grew some more and I began to think it was nearly there.

Then I finished it and realised that it really wasn't there. The idea was still good, I loved the characters, but it had stopped singing to me. So, as I was about to be very busy with something else, I put it away.

I did the something else. Then I got the rights back to my Regencies and went over them and republished them. Then I finished the unfinished Fourth Regency and published that too.

Then, rather guiltily, I remembered A Question of Thyme. I woke it up, I let it breathe, I did a ton more research and put quite a lot extra in, during which the book grew from a short novel to a full-length one.

And here it is.

And if you want to know why the 4th of June, that's when my mother's birthday was. She was called Rosemary.

Rosemary...thyme... well, it pleased me.
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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Awards and Remembrance

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On Monday, a huge press of people gathered in St John's, Smith Square to celebrate and say farewell to Carole Blake. The memorial service had been organised to perfection by her colleagues at Blake Friedmann Agency and was both achingly sad and very beautiful at the same time. I didn't realise it was possible to laugh with tears in my eyes for that long.

I miss Carole every day, but it was a fitting occasion and - as was said by many people - she's still with us, pushing us on. And she would SO have approved of the drinks.




RoNAs reception in the Reading and Writing Room
From one celebration to another - in true Carole fashion - a lot of us then took a brisk twenty-minute walk up the road to One Whitehall Place for the Romantic Novel of the Year awards.




Awards presentation in the Gladstone Library
It was another well-organised event, full of writers talking books, glammed up for our special day.






I cleverly managed not to take a usable photo of the displays of shortlisted books for the various categories, but this is the Paranormal/Speculative Fiction shortlisted group (taken by the mega-talented and very patient Marte of MLR_Photos). I am delighted beyond measure that our award went to my pal Kate Johnson for MAX SEVENTEEN, especially as I nagged her into publishing the book in the first place.

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Christina Courtenay, Jan Jones, Kate Johnson, Hywela Lyn


Other category winners were Janet Gover LITTLE GIRL LOST (Epic), Penny Parkes OUT OF PRACTICE (Romantic Comedy), Kate Kerrigan IT WAS ONLY EVER YOU (Historical), Debbie Johnson SUMMER AT THE COMFORT FOOD CAFE (Contemporary), Scarlet Wilson CHRISTMAS IN THE BOSS'S CASTLE (RoNA Rose). The supreme Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year award went to the Young Adult category winner, Sophia Bennett for LOVE SONG.



Wednesday, 1 March 2017

RoNA Giveaways!

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I'm still excited about An Ordinary Gift being shortlisted for the 2017 RoNAs, and even more so when I look at the other terrific books on the various shortlists. So much so that a group of us have got together to offer free extracts.

If you go to Rhoda Baxter's web page, you will find brief details of a number of shortlisted books across the different categories. Click on the links and those nice people at Instafreebie will deliver the extracts to your inbox. Hopefully, you will find some new favourite authors to enjoy.

So, thank you to Rhoda and to everyone else... Happy reading!
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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Shortlisted!

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Lovely news today - AN ORDINARY GIFT has been shortlisted for the inaugural Paranormal/Speculative Romance RoNA award.

This is the book set in Ely, featuring ghostly singing boys in the attic - amongst other unexplained occurrences.

It was originally a serial in Woman's Weekly, then I rewrote it and added extra threads to reinvent it as a short novel.

It is also out in Large Print this month, so do order it from your local library if you prefer the feel of a physical book as opposed to reading on a Kindle.

The RoNA winners will be announced on March 13th. The full set of shortlists are here.

I have LOTS of friends on the lists, so it promises to be a smashing evening.
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