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!