The Working Girls – My New Series

I am very excited to announce my new series of books called, The Working Girls. As the title suggests, it centres around the world of prostitution – there’s more information below about my inspiration for this series.

The first two books are already available for pre-order on Amazon. Although there are no cover images yet, my publishers have written a fabulous enticing blurb for each of them, which I’m detailing below together with links to the relevant Amazon pages if you want to pre-order.

 

The Mark

(The Working Girls Book 1)

 

The queen of urban crime is back with a shocking, brilliant new series – The Working Girls

 

A TRIP TO THE DARK SIDE. 
When respected journalist, Maddy, goes to interview prostitutes in a rundown Manchester pub, she doesn’t reckon on attracting the attention of their ruthless pimp, Gilly. He quickly decides to use Maddy for his own gains; he just needs to work out how.

A TOXIC AFFAIR. 
In the weeks that follow, Maddy is oblivious to Gilly’s growing obsession with her, particularly when she begins a romance with successful businessman, Aaron. Their passionate love affair starts to dominate her life, and she finds herself losing control and alienating the people around her.

A TARGET ON HER BACK. 
As Maddy’s safe and successful life starts to crumble around her, she must quickly work out who has it in for her, before it’s too late…

Heather Burnside is back with this breath-taking, heart-racing new series, perfect for all fans of Kimberley Chambers and Martina Cole.
Amazon purchase link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MVJV3Q4

 

Ruby

(The Working Girls Book 2)

 

PRE-ORDER THE PAGE-TURNING NEW INSTALLMENT OF THE WORKING GIRLS SERIES FROM THE QUEEN OF URBAN CRIME. 

 

THE STRONGER SEX. 
Ruby has always been strong. Growing up with a feeble mother and an absent father, she is forced to fight the battles of her younger siblings. And when a childhood experience leaves her traumatised, her distrust of men turns to hatred.

ON THE STREETS. 
With no safe place to call home, Ruby is desperate to fit in with the tough crowd. She spends her teenage years sleeping around and drinking in the park, and by the time she is sixteen, prostitution has become a way of life. But Ruby has ambitions, and she soon moves up the ladder to become the madam of her own brothel.

THE BROTHEL. 
But being in charge of a brothel has its down sides, Ruby faces her worst nightmare when an enemy from the past comes back into her life, and gang intimidation threatens to ruin everything. Can she find a way to beat her tormentors? And will she be strong enough to see it through?

Heather Burnside is back with this breath-taking, heart-racing series, perfect for all fans of Kimberley Chambers and Martina Cole.

Amazon purchase link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MVJ9FMB

 

The Idea for the Series

The idea for the series started when I watched a police detective series many years ago. In one particular episode the female detective was interviewing prostitutes in a seedy pub where she seemed completely out of place in her smart suit and with her refined middle-class accent. I remember thinking how gutsy she was to do that and that she might be leaving herself open to all sorts of danger. For example, what would happen if the prostitutes’ pimp followed her home and found out where she lived? This gave me the idea for the first book but I replaced the police detective with my journalist, Maddy. My imagination started working overtime until I came up with the full outline for a book.

I did a lot of research for book one, delving into the world of prostitution by reading books about the life of a prostitute and watching online videos. It struck me that there were various reasons why the girls had chosen the life of prostitution and some of them were quite sad. I thought to myself, each of these girls has their own story to tell, and I therefore decided to base each of the following books in the series on one girl in particular.

There are three books scheduled for publication with Aria Fiction: The Mark, Ruby and Crystal although Crystal isn’t yet available for pre-order. I have also penned an outline for a fourth book, Amber, so that may well follow on from the first three. Each of the books can be read as a standalone although there is some overlap with characters who sometimes appear in more than one book.

I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I am enjoying writing it.

Writers Bureau Ad Campaign

I’d like to share some very exciting news.

You may recall my previous blog post about the Writers Bureau and the role that they played in kick-starting my writing career. Well, subsequent to that blog post the Writers Bureau have been in touch and very kindly invited me to feature in their next advertising campaign. The Writers Bureau are the biggest independent writing school in the UK so this is an excellent opportunity and I’m absolutely thrilled.

There are two advertisements, a long one that includes an interview and a short one that includes a quote from me. It is twenty years since I began my studies with the Writers Bureau and the larger of the ads charts my achievements since then. You can check them out through the following links:

BigIssueLondonAdvert_07_01_19_WB (3)

GuardianReviewAdvert_05_01_19_WB

The bigger ad will appear in the Big Issue London on 7th January and Writing Magazine February issue which comes out on 4th January and the smaller ad will appear in the Guardian Review on 5th January.

Although I’m a bit early, this will probably be my last blog post of the year so I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Thank you for all your support over the past year and previous years.

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Vendetta Blog Tour

I’m excited to have Vendetta featured on Cheeky Pea Reads blog today at: http://cheekypeereadsandreviews.blogspot.com/2018/10/vendetta-blog-tour.html.

It’s the first stop on the blog tour for Vendetta, which is detailed on the programme below. The tour features reviews, excerpts and blog posts about my characters and the challenges of writing a trilogy. If you get a minute, please stop by one of the blogs and take a look.

A big thank you to all the bloggers taking part.

Vendetta – Launch Day

Today I’m thrilled to launch the last book in my Manchester Trilogy, Vendetta. After working with the characters for approximately two years it’s such a joy to finally publish book three. Here are all the links to the online book stores so you can bag your copy. I’ve also included the book blurb below to tempt you:

Amazon: http://viewbook.at/VendettaMcr

iBooks: https://apple.co/2MpVHz7

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2OYW3JI

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2OW79PR

 

When Adele’s brother, Peter, gets banged up for GBH she reluctantly agrees to run his nightclub, The Golden Bell. Strong opposition from Peter’s thuggish number two, Glynn, who isn’t best pleased about answering to a woman, isn’t the only challenge she faces.

The Manchester club scene of the 1990s is a dangerous place, at the mercy of illicit protection rackets and rampaging gangs, and, despite Adele’s efforts to keep everything legal, the club is beginning to feel like a poisoned chalice.

Meanwhile, Glynn is playing his own ruthless game, and when a savage gang attack has devastating consequences Adele is ready to walk away. But Peter has always stood by her and she owes him big time. Besides, where else would an ex-con find work? And someone has to protect her brother’s empire from his enemies. Right now, Adele knows she is the only one that Peter can trust, but the stakes may soon get too high…

 

I hope you enjoy the concluding book in the Manchester Trilogy.

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My First Collaborative Author Event – Noir at the Bar

Last night was a first for me as not only did I take part in Noir at the Bar, Manchester, but I also met several popular and successful authors. It’s hard to believe that, despite publishing books since 2012, it’s the first time I’ve actually met another published author apart from my cousin, Lily Kramer, who recently published her debut novel, Song on a Loop.

Meeting other authors has always been one of those things I intended to do but never quite got round to it. So, when the wonderful Robert Parker invited me to take part in Noir at the Bar, Manchester I jumped at the chance. The line-up of authors was fabulous and I felt really privileged to be amongst such talented writers. Here’s the billing of the event:

So, what is Noir at the Bar?

It’s a collection of gritty crime authors and aficionados of the genre who gather in an informal setting to have a drink and a chat and share readings. The idea originated in the US and there have been Noir at the Bar events in several UK cities but this is the first in Manchester.

The venue for the event was Lock 91 in Manchester. We used the Loft Study bar area which was ideal, with a small stage and its own bar. There were nine readings altogether of six to eight minutes duration by eight authors plus a wild card. The readings took place in sets of three with a brief introduction to each author by our host, Robert, and a half hour refreshment break after each set of three. Authors names were pulled from a hat by a member of the public who won a signed book by that author.

I must admit that I was glad of the bar area. It is the first time I have ever given an author reading and the first time I have done any public speaking for about 30 years. Needless to say, I was more than a bit nervous. I was the last author before the wild card and by that time I had plucked up some courage (most of it Dutch and from an optic). So, after a brandy or six I took the stage.

It’s tricky trying to select a passage of the required length, which can also work on its own for readers who aren’t familiar with the book. I chose an excerpt from Danger by Association, the third book in my Riverhill trilogy where a paedophile is being released from prison and preparing himself to adapt to life on the outside while also trying to fight his unnatural urges. The passage leaves the reader guessing what will happen next. I was told by my friends and Robert that I did well but I’m not sure whether they were just humouring an overanxious, tipsy author.

Despite my nerves, the evening was an extremely enjoyable event. It was great to hear the work of others, meet authors and readers, and chat about the industry with like-minded people. I’m glad I stepped outside my comfort zone and gave a reading, and I am keen to get involved in future author events. Noir at the Bar, Manchester was a great success and hopefully the start of many more to come. Big thanks go to Robert Parker who was an excellent host and did a brilliant job of organising the whole thing.

Now that I have experienced the event and am familiar with what is involved, I am keen to invite my readers to future Noir at the Bar events. I will publicise them in advance via the blog and social media so that readers within easy reach of Manchester will be able to attend. I look forward to seeing you there in the future.

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Blood Ties Launch Day

Hurrah! It’s launch day for Blood Ties, the second book in my latest Manchester crime trilogy. I’m thrilled that it’s finally available through several digital retailers, and I thought I would share another excerpt with you to celebrate the launch.

This next excerpt takes place inside prison when Adele and her friend, Caroline, are witnessing the prison bully, Shazza, in action:

Anna’s head flew back and she took a step backwards. Then Shazza let go of Anna’s T-shirt and Anna passed her something out of her pocket. Anna’s movement was slow, her shoulders slumped, as though she had given up the item reluctantly.

‘What the hell d’you think she’s up to?’ Adele asked Caroline, lowering her voice so that Shazza couldn’t hear her.

‘She’ll be stealing cigs or something off her,’ Caroline whispered.

‘She can’t do that!’ said Adele, affronted.

‘Oh yes she can,’ said Caroline quietly. ‘She’s Shazza. She can do what the bloody hell she wants, and she gets away with it.’ Adele stared back at Caroline, the resentment written all over her face. ‘Don’t even think about it!’ Caroline advised.

‘What?’ asked Adele.

‘Saying anything to her about Anna,’ Caroline whispered. ‘You’d be a fool to mess with her. It’s best to leave it alone.’

Then Shazza left Anna and continued in their direction. Adele noticed that as she walked across the room the other inmates either kept their heads down or greeted her enthusiastically. It was obvious to Adele that they were trying to ingratiate themselves. Shazza had a confident strut. It was as though she was enjoying the attention.

As Shazza drew closer to Adele and Caroline, she stared directly at Adele. Despite Caroline’s advice not to look at her, Adele couldn’t resist taking a curious peek. Shazza’s features were rigid and unflinching, and as their eyes locked, Adele could feel her piercing glare through vivid turquoise, beady eyes. It seemed to cut right through her.

Then Shazza sauntered by, nodding and grinning at Caroline as she passed them. She didn’t say anything. But Adele knew in that moment that Shazza had made her an enemy and a cold shiver of fear ran through her.

***

I hope I’ve tempted you to go and grab a copy if you haven’t already done so. Here are the links for the various digital retailers:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2C7MllX

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2HwmovN

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2sGi4qp

iBooks: https://apple.co/2omUg5x

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Blood Ties Blog Tour

Ahead of tomorrow’s publication for Blood Ties, I thought I would give you details of the blog tour. Here are all the blogs that will be featuring Blood Ties in the following couple of weeks:

And here are the links for each of the blogs:

That Thing She Reads: http://thatthingshereads.blogspot.co.uk/

Donna’s Book Blog: https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/.

Cheeky Pea Reads and Reviews: http://cheekypeereadsandreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

Jane Hunt Writer: https://jolliffe01.com/

The Secret World of a Book Blog: https://thesecretworldofabookbloggerblog.wordpress.com/

Bookish Jottings: https://bookishjottings.wordpress.com/

Good ‘n’ Ready: https://reviewerladygoodnready.blog/

Ginger Book Geek: https://gingerbookgeek.wordpress.com/

Dash Fan Book Reviews: https://dashfan81.blogspot.co.uk/

A Sky Filled with Sparkling Stars: https://askyfilledwithsparklingstarsblog.com/

Love Books Group: https://lovebooksgroup.blog/

 

I hope you enjoy reading the various reviews, features and author interviews.

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Blood Ties – Excerpt

As it’s only just over a week until the launch of Blood Ties, the second book in my latest trilogy, I thought I would tempt you with an excerpt. This particular passage occurs after Adele’s prison friend, Caroline, has just confided in Adele about her crime:

They remained there for several minutes, Adele now also in tears and shaking. She didn’t know what to say. What could she say? There were no words to explain why either she or Caroline had reacted so violently to their tormentors.

As she sat there silently, a rush of thoughts flashed through her mind. Everything made sense now. The way the other prisoners were wary of Caroline, even though she seemed such a caring person. And the way she and Caroline had been drawn to each other.

Eventually she spoke. ‘Did you seek me out?’ she asked.

Caroline looked up, her face red and blotchy and streaked with tears. ‘I know what you’re thinking,’ she said. ‘That perhaps I thought we would understand each other because of… our crimes. But no, not particularly. I mean, I knew what you were in for, and maybe I’d have judged you differently if it wasn’t for my own experiences. But I didn’t deliberately seek you out. I just liked you as a person.’

Adele nodded, unsure what to say next.

‘Well, it’s out in the open now,’ said Caroline, with a sardonic smile.

‘I won’t hold it against you,’ said Adele. ‘How could I?’

And as she spoke those words Adele realised just how much her world had changed. At one time she’d have run a mile from someone who had committed such a heinous crime, no matter what the circumstances were. But inside these walls she saw Caroline as a best friend.

Their crimes were similar. They shared the guilt. And Adele knew that no one would ever understand Caroline in the same way that she did.

***

I hope I’ve given you a taster of what’s to follow. If you want to pre-order your copy, here’s the link again for Blood Ties.

***

Some Quotations I Like

Words can be very powerful. They unlock a whole wealth of meaning and are capable of eliciting strong emotions. Sometimes you read something in a book, which is so poignant that it stays with you. At other times there are sayings that are so widely used in everyday speech that we overlook where they originated from. This is often the case with Shakespeare.

I’ve put some of my favourite quotations below but I’m sure there are others that I’ve temporarily forgotten. I couldn’t resist adding a few from my own books. I think most writers have moments when they’ve written a line or two that they’re particularly proud of, so please excuse my self-indulgence in including a few quotes of my own.

 

“We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

 

“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

 

“As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport.”

Shakespeare, King Lear

 

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

 

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!”

Shakespeare, King Lear

 

“If music be the food of love play on.”

Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

 

“If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.”

Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop

 

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”

Shakespeare, As You Like It

 

“It was terribly beautiful to Tess today, for since her eyes last fell upon it she had learnt that the serpent hisses where the sweet birds sing.”

Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

 

“Justice” was done, and the President of the Immortals (in Aeschylean phrase) had ended his sport with Tess.”

Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

 

“Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.”

Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

 

“O, what may man within him hide, Though angel on the outward side!”

Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

 

“Ask no questions, and you’ll be told no lies.”

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

 

“My advice is, never do to-morrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!”

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

 

“Time and tide wait for no man.”

Geoffrey Chaucer

 

“Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained”

Geoffrey Chaucer

 

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

Alexander Pope

 

My Favourite Quotes from my Own Books

“Signs of desperation were already painted on their grubby little faces.”

A Gangster’s Grip

 

“This was his sort of area; a place where the menacing and the vulnerable co-existed.”

Danger by Association

 

“… eager to escape the foul stench given off by her unwashed clothing and her tendency to leak urine; a result of years of child-bearing to children she rarely saw.”

Born Bad

 

Have you got any favourite quotations? If so, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to add them in the comments box below.

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A Message to Aspiring Authors – Don’t Give Up

As the end of another year approaches I thought it would be good to write a blog post which might give encouragement to other authors. I recently read a post about famous authors who were initially rejected but then went on to be successful. Most of us have heard of authors who were initially rejected but it’s always encouraging to find out more about them. You can read the post here.

It made me think of my own journey. Admittedly, I’m nowhere near in the same league as the authors mentioned in the above post but this past year or so has seen a big turnaround in my writing career. In August of 2016 I signed a contract with Aria Fiction at Head of Zeus, and subsequently published my first book Born Bad with them on 1st July of this year. They have been excellent to work for and I’m looking forward to the launch of my second novel with them in March 2018, which is entitled Blood Ties and is already available to pre-order from Amazon.

So, back to the beginning. I started writing in 1999 when I began studying for a writing diploma with the Writer’s Bureau in Manchester although I had dabbled in a bit of poetry prior to that. The course was very comprehensive and took me until 2002 to complete.

As part of the course, students were encouraged to submit their work to agents, magazines etc. depending on the particular module being studied. It was during that time that I submitted the first three chapters and a synopsis of my first novel Slur to various agents except that, at that time, the novel was called Nightclubbin’ and had a chic lit feel to it.

Despite rejections I continued working on the novel and completed it. Then, becoming a bit disillusioned with the number of rejections I received, I put it on the backburner but swore I would return to it one day.

It actually took me 15 years before I eventually returned to my first novel. In the meantime I had changed the title and a lot of the plot and it became a crime novel.

I have documented much of the journey towards getting Slur published in previous blog posts entitled The Story of Slur and My Favourite Rejection Letter if you want to take a look. Throughout that period I read as much as I could about the craft of writing, the publishing industry (which has undergone many changes in that time) and how to promote your work.

Prior to publishing Slur independent publishing really took off and I decided to publish two parenting books. I had already drawn up an outline for one of them as part of the studies for my writing course, and I thought it had potential. It was called Kids’ Clubs and Organisations and I followed it with Great Places for Kids’ Parties.

Both of the books took up a great deal of time and effort especially the second one, which I published in colour. Unfortunately both books bombed despite one of them being featured on a well-known parenting site. They sold less than a hundred copies each, most of which were through public libraries and entailed a lot of effort in getting to the right people then sending the copies on. Apart from the library sales the books sold no more than a handful each, and left me feeling deflated after all the effort I had put in.

After I published Slur, I instantly saw a different reaction amongst friends and families and it was much better received than the two parenting books. Feeling encouraged, I went on to publish a further two novels, A Gangster’s Grip and Danger by Association, and the three books form a trilogy. I eventually made the decision to withdraw the two parenting books from the market, which I wrote about in the article entitled Why I’m Withdrawing my Parenting Books.

Despite being well received, Slur wasn’t a success straightaway. I held a promotion at the end of 2015, and made Slur free for a few days. I paid to advertise the promotion on various sites and, to my delight, this led to a dramatic increase in sales of Slur and the two other books in the trilogy. Subsequently the rank of the books improved on Amazon making them visible to more readers and also to publishers.

The improved rank only held for about six months, after which time the sales slipped again in a matter of weeks. I tried subsequent promotions but wasn’t able to emulate the success of the first one. Fortunately for me, however, the temporary improvement in rank had enabled my books to come to the attention of my publishers who approached me to discuss my work. This in turn led to me signing a three book contract with Aria Fiction in August 2016.

If you are an independent author and want to find out how to promote your books, there is a lot of information available on the Internet and in book form. In particular, I recommend Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran as a very useful guide. Sandra Beckwith also has a very helpful website at: https://buildbookbuzz.com/ where you can sign up for a newsletter with lots of free tips on book promotion. You may also find the ALLi website useful at: https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/.

It has been a long journey to gaining that publishing contract but ultimately a very gratifying one. And it isn’t over yet. On 1st March I will be publishing my second book with Aria, Blood Ties, which is already available for pre-order and is the second part of a trilogy. Then I’ll be publishing the third and final novel in the trilogy later next year.

Once the three books are published I have no idea what lies in store but I have many ideas for other novels and hope to continue writing and publishing books for many years to come. The future is a bit scary as I now depend totally on writing books for my income. However, the future is also tremendously exciting.

If you’re currently feeling disillusioned, having written a book or more and not yet seeing the rewards for all your hard work, don’t give up. Immerse yourself in as much information as you can relating to both the craft of writing and the promotional side of things. Then keep on going until you reach your end goal.

I’d like to end this blog post by wishing a Merry Christmas to all my blog readers and a very successful 2018.

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