Saturday, 26 January 2019

The mysterious art of guest blogging


I have never “guest blogged” anywhere, but they say it is one of the best ways to promote a book. So I’ve been reading around the topic and here are some hints and tips I must remember.

Most important is to think about where your readers are likely to be? Genre is all-important. You’ll reach a lot more romance readers at “Romance University” or “Romance Divas” than general purpose blogs. Look for blogs of authors in your genre with a good reader following.

Use your protagonist’s hobbies, interests, or profession.
Location can provide opportunities. If your book is set in a particular place, reach out to travel blogs about the area of your setting. People planning holidays buy more fiction than people arguing about grammar.

The only way to tell if a blog attracts people who really might be interested in your book is to visit and read the posts. Read the comments, too. Leave comments on posts you enjoy. The best place to start querying is a blog you read regularly because you genuinely like it and have an interest in the topics it addresses.

Read the Guidelines and follow them. Write with proper paragraphing, punctuation, capitalization and spelling. Be businesslike, concise, respectful, and don’t lie. A blog query should start with a sentence explaining why you want a spot on that particular blog.

Pitches need not be elaborate. Give possible topics with a few sentences after each about your angle and why you’re qualified to write about it. Ie How to Market Books on Snapchat. I’ve boosted my sales by 25% with this method. I’ll provide a step-by-step how-to.

There’s nothing wrong if your blog has a small following. A powerful reason for guest blogging is to extend your online following. If you’ve been a guest of a big, popular writing blog like The Book Designer, Jane Friedman, Writers on the Storm, Fiction University, Romance University, etc. that’s a big plus, too.

Don’t simply offer another blogger a same material. You can offer to write on the same subject, but don’t simply offer a cut-and-paste.
If you have a time window, giveaways, contests, etc, and you want this post to be part of a blog tour, be sure to mention it.

Make sure you will be available in that time window to respond to comments.  That way you'll make connections and sell books, so if you’re not available, you’re losing sales.

The most helpful piece I read on guest blogging was by Anne R. Allen (@annerallen) January 20, 2019 and there’s a lot more than my sparse jottings on her blog for those who are interested in guest blogging.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Conflict in fiction

Snowy slopes in Banff
Conflict is defined as a struggle, often an unconscious one, as a result of opposition or simultaneous functioning of mutually exclusive impulses, desires or tendencies. 
A character may have to decide between right and wrong or  between 2 or more solutions to a problem. 

  1. attraction and prejudice (Pride and Prejudice is an example)
  2. Opposing desires
  3. Mismatches and/or uncertainty
  4. incompatible goals
  5.  It is about being in a new situation where old attitudes and habits war with and hinder the need to change.


Show conflict by showing character responding to their inner compulsions.
What is your hero's desire?
What is his fear?
In the opening chapters, introduce your hero and heroine and their conflicts, both external and internal. What stops them achieving what they want? Add a killer hook, an inventive and clever inciting incident - sparkly, witty and page turning would be good. By chapter 3  the reader should know why this couple are better together than apart. Are these two going on a journey? Is it clear to the reader? What would happen if they failed to achieve the destination? Who would care?

External conflict forces characters together, but internal conflict forces them apart.

Always start with a moment of change, preferably with dialogue. Reveal secrets and drop bombshells in the middle to keep readers turning the page. There should be a Black Moment at the end of the middle section. Conflict should build tension, show motivation, fore a choice and make the character grow.

(Notes, handwritten many years ago, found tucked into a diary. Possibly taken from category romance instructions, but still good for all that.)

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The Gybford Affair ~ fast paced and exciting historical romance.

Renewing the cover for The Craigsmuir Affair prompted me to renew the cover for The Gybford Affair. Here it is on the right.


Claire Lyons recently published her review of the story, and I have added it below. Now that I've redone covers for two of my romances, I may as well think of improvements for the others!

I purchased an upgrade to Photoshop towards the end of last year, and it certainly makes doing them easier and more pleasureable. I suppose since I first puchased the software, there have been seven or eight upgrades and no doubt each upgrade made using the applications easier. Technology moves so fast in the area of digital and graphic art. If I were leaving school now and choosing a career, I think I would look for something  in this area. Conservation also appeals,  but I'm not sure if I would choose Art Conservation, or conservation of house and furniture. There are so many careers available today that were simply not possible when I left school



Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Claire Lyons reviews The Gybford Affair by Jen Black

Today Claire Lyons reviews The Gybford Affair by Jen Black. The author has very kindly offered an e-book as a giveaway.  To be in with a chance of winning this wonderful prize, simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Good luck!

The quiet life of Frances, Lady Rathmere, is disrupted forever the day Jack, 4th Marquess of Streatham, arrives from London and almost rides her down. At the same time a stranger arrives in the locality, makes a play for her young cousin and scandalous letters accusing Frances of an illicit liaison appear in the national press. Is Jack their author? Frances is convinced he is, and has no idea the trouble those letters are going to bring in their wake.


How liberating for a young woman to become a widow in the Regency era – no more need to marry, a certain financial independence and still welcome in Society. That is unless you have the sort of fortune that would make you a target for a despicable forced and violent marriage…
The Gybford Affair has a number of storylines, but the situation of a young widow is at its core. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced and exciting historical romance.  There was a good balance of drama and everyday life to give a real flavour of the period. There are plenty of characters to add moments of humour and see variety of opinions on issues of the day.
Although I felt quite confident who the main romance would be between, there is great tension as to ‘how’ these two will ever get together, and in an unusual twist marriage in itself is not the end or even the start of their story. I felt a great sense of transformation, especially of the male lead, during the book, there is a darkness that slowly lifts and it’s a very positive and happy tale despite moments of great sadness and grief. It was interesting to see the different ways the difficult topic of maternal care were discussed and experienced. It is still fascinating to me how the situation of women has changed over time, and I’m always intrigued to read about women in history and the lives they led. Although this story is focused on the wealthy in Society, their money does not prevent great some of the toughest of life’s hurdles and these are dealt with sensitively.
Of course there is a rogue who brings deceit, fear and drama to the story, and he has been created with care and subtlety. His character creates some of the more tense situations in the book and you can’t always be sure how they will end. I enjoyed the changes in pace and tension as the different threads of the story weaved together.

This book would suit those who enjoy historical romance, it’s a great romp and would be fun to read while travelling as it’s very engaging.


About the Author: 
I’m an ex-academic library manager who lives in the Tyne valley, north east England, with my husband and 6 year-old Dalmatian. I came to writing late, and stay fit (sort of) roaming about Northumberland with my dog. It is a wonderful county for history lovers (and dog walkers!). Everyone knows about the Roman Wall, Vindolanda and all their wonderful Roman finds, but it is equally amazing for castles, bastles, fortified farms and the occasional peel tower. I’ve walked and ridden over a good deal of it. The wall is barely five miles away from my home and we have met people of all nationalities walking there. I take lots of pics when I’m out and pop them on my blog. When I write I’m not out to enlighten, but to entertain and I think I’m always going to have a happy ending. I may have a few tragedies and deaths along the way, but the ending will always be upbeat.
I don’t play music as I never notice when it stops, so I can’t be listening, can I?
and on Twitter: @JENBLACKNCL

About the Reviewer

Claire has run Mrs Average Evaluates for five years now, and still writes a regular book review in a local magazine. Her passion is to share great writing and encourage wide reading for learning, pleasure and escapism. She also runs her own business, has four young children and a dog to keep her busy. You are most welcome to join her friendly FB Group, and she’s always on the lookout for Guest Posts on the website.


Saturday, 12 January 2019

Show don't Tell

These days we are encouraged, as writers, to show and not tell.  I don't dislike it as a writing method; I use it myself, and I enjoy reading it. It involves finding lots of ways to "show" emotions as well as actions, and that can sometimes prove difficult. (As I was writing that sentence I thought if I exchanged "describe" for "show" what would the difference be? Ponder that one for a while!)

Showing involves investing in the feelings of the POV character: how do they feel at any given point in the story? Why do they do what they do? It also involves the POV character noticing how other people react to them, which really becomes the POV character telling what they see. See what I mean?

These thoughts were provoked by something I saw on Pinterest, but I don't think I should copy it here; instead let me give you the link, and you can seek it out yourself. I hope it will help you past those sticky moments when you simply cannot think how to describe your characters feelings.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/279293614364130262/?lp=true

Essentially what you will see is many lists of how to "show" emotion. I think I shall be coming back to it from time to time!

PS I decided to change the cover of The Craigsmuir Affair as I wasn't happy with the last one. It looked very Victorian, true; but not very appealing and that was borne out by the fact that not one person has bought it since I put that cover up! So here we are, with a new vibrant cover for Spring! I hope you like it!

Monday, 7 January 2019

Statistics, damned statistics

Statcounter.

Has anyone used the free version?

I have, for as long as I've been running my blog. But lately it seems to have gone haywire. Some days the figures jogs along  and then there will be a sudden spike.  Someone in Mountain Ash, California, visits and gives me 856 page views. I don't know if I believe in this person or not, but what else can it be? A glitch in the technology? A search bot gone AWOL?

Yet last week I found another location that had racked up 500 odd views in one day, this time from a place midway between Bern and Lucerne in Switzerland. I looked it up on Google Earth and there seems to be nothing there but endless forest. I look at Clustrmap and the stats are entirely different to those on Blogger. Google analytics is different again. It is difficult to know if any of them are to be believed.

Stats are not really so important that I want to pay for installing Statcounter or one of the other systems, and I do wonder if what used to be free is now fast becoming an income stream for someone.