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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Exciting Opportunity for Crime Authors

If you’re an author of gritty crime fiction then I’ve got good news for you. My publisher, Aria Fiction, is currently looking for submissions in this genre to add to its ever-growing list of successful authors. So, if you have ambitions of becoming the next Martina Cole, Kimberley Chambers or, even, Heather Burnside then this is an excellent opportunity.

Aria is an imprint of the award-winning publisher Head of Zeus and, although Aria has only been operating for 2 years it is expanding at a dramatic rate and achieving much success along the way. The staff there are very friendly and professional and most of them have years of experience in the publishing industry. Aria has already helped many of its authors to achieve bestseller status, including debut authors!

I have been contracted to Aria for a year and a half now and I couldn’t be happier with them. The first book I published with them, Born Bad, became an Amazon bestseller and was selling over 1000 books a week in the first two months of publication. I know that I couldn’t have achieved sales figures of anywhere near that number without the backing of the Aria team. Their terms are favourable too and they offer good royalty rates compared to the rest of the industry.

Apart from helping authors to succeed, Aria has a very friendly and supportive approach and the staff are always happy to offer help and advice. To be published by Aria is very reassuring as an author. It’s good to feel that you’re not out on your own and the staff make their authors feel special and proud to be a part of their success. I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I received a bunch of flowers through the post on publication day!

So here’s the deal;

If you have a gritty crime novel up your sleeve, then submit via Aria’s submissions portal. And then, one lucky author with lots of promise will be selected for me to mentor you and give valuable feedback on your first novel. It would be lovely to have a fellow author as my partner in crime (or crime novels anyway) and I look forward to reading your future bestsellers.

To be considered for a contract with Aria, just send your manuscript via the submissions portal which can be found here.

Any questions, please email melanie@headofzeus.com

Good luck!

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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.

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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 – 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.

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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.

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Born Bad Follow up Now Available

I’m very excited to announce that Blood Ties, the follow-up to Born Bad and book two of my new trilogy, is already available to pre-order from Amazon. You can grab your copy using the link: http://viewBook.at/BloodTies. Publication date is 1st March 2018, which means that if you order now, you will have the book delivered to your Kindle as soon as that date arrives.

To give you a taster of what’s in store, here’s the fabulous cover that my publishers have designed together with the book blurb.

Adele Robinson is locked up – convicted for the murder of her abusive father. She quickly realizes that she’ll have to play it tough if she’s going to survive, and soon gains a reputation for standing her ground.

Meanwhile, her brother Peter is building his criminal empire on the outside – running protection rackets, seedy nightclubs and all manner of schemes to make a fast buck. He soon comes to the attention of, not only the police, but also Manchester’s rival gangs, and a turf war breaks out.

And when things start to get bloody, only Adele can step in to protect the family business. Will she get out in time to save Peter? After all, blood is thicker than water, and when family’s in trouble you can’t look the other way.

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I hope you’ll agree that the book blurb is very enticing. March might seem a long way off but with Christmas coming upon us, the time will soon fly by.

Big thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Born Bad, recommended it to others and left a review. It has surpassed all my expectations, peaking at an Amazon UK rank of 41 last week, and it continues to sell well. I hope that my readers will enjoy the second book just as much.

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My First Year with a Publisher

It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since I signed my publishing contract with Aria Fiction at Head of Zeus. A lot has happened in that time and the year seems to have flown by. So, I thought it was a good time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to what is in store in the future.

Progress so Far

At the time of writing Born Bad is currently ranked 82 on Amazon UK out of over 5 million books, and for the last couple of weeks it has hovered around the 100 mark. The highest rank it has achieved so far was 58 on two occasions. It has also received some excellent reviews. Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled as it has exceeded all my expectations.  

I am gaining a growing fan base which is wonderful to see. People are going on to read my other books as well as signing up to my mailing list and following me on social media.

At the moment I am polishing up book two so that I can send it to my publishers in a few weeks’ time, and it will soon be available for pre-order on Amazon.

What I’ve Learned

Working with a publisher means that there are lots of tight deadlines to meet. However, this is good for me as I am usually a massive procrastinator and it has made me become more self-disciplined with my writing routine.

It is wonderful to have the knowledge and support of a professional publisher which has been brilliant in terms of editing, marketing and promotion. Marketing encompasses a whole spectrum of activity from cover design to the book blurb and everything after that. At every stage it is specifically tailored to reach the target readership.

In terms of promotion, I have found that ads on large reader websites do work provided they are targeted, and this is one aspect in which my publishers have a wealth of knowledge and experience. A good publisher can also reach areas that I couldn’t have reached as an independent author e.g. the Amazon Summer Sale, which features only a few hundred books out of the millions available on Amazon UK.

Support

No matter what questions I have, my publishers are always on hand with help and advice. I am also connecting with other Aria authors who are a friendly, supportive bunch and I am discovering some great books that have been written by them. I still also keep in touch with some of my Indie author friends who have been very supportive over the years. 

Future Plans

The second book in the trilogy will be published at the end of this year/beginning of next although it will be available for pre-order on Amazon long before that. The third and final book in the trilogy will be published next summer.

After that, I would love to work with Aria again provided we can agree terms. I have a lot of ideas for other crime novels which I am looking forward to writing in the future.

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Domestic Violence in the UK

My latest book, Born Bad, features a character who is a victim of domestic violence. I therefore thought it would be useful to write a blog post on the subject in the hope that the information I’ve provided may help victims.

Domestic violence doesn’t just relate to women in heterosexual relationships. Men can become victims of domestic violence as can people in homosexual relationships and sometimes children can be involved too.

The Facts

  • A 2013/4 crime survey for England and Wales revealed that one in four women in England and Wales will become victims of domestic violence during their lifetime.

 

  • In 2001/2 81% of domestic violence victims were women and 19% were men.

 

  • A 2015 report revealed that one in three women worldwide experiences domestic violence from a male partner.

 

  • Reports from 2000 and 2002 show that the police received a call a minute relating to domestic violence yet only 35% of the incidents were reported to the police.

 

  • A 2011 report by the NSPCC stated that in the UK 20% of children have been exposed to domestic abuse.

Getting Help

If you are a woman suffering from domestic violence you can get lots of help and advice from Women’s Aid, including advice on legal action and housing. The website: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/  has further information on the types of help available.

Women’s Aid can also give you details of solicitors who specialise in domestic violence and, depending on your income, you may qualify for legal aid. You can find out more about legal aid from the Citizens Advice website.

Advice and information relating to domestic abuse is available to both women and men on the Citizens Advice website by following the link: advice.

Reporting Domestic Violence

Many people are afraid to report domestic violence because of potential repercussions. However, most police stations have specially trained officers who deal with domestic abuse. Often, domestic violence is a criminal offence and the person committing the offence can be arrested, cautioned or charged.

If the perpetrator is released on bail, the police will usually attach conditions to the granting of bail in order to protect the victim. You will be given a crime reference number which you will need to give to other agencies when you ask for further help.

You will also need to consider your future living arrangements but agencies such as Women’s Aid can provide advice with this. You can also find more information on reporting domestic violence on UK police service websites. Go to www.police.uk to find your local police service.

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Born Bad is the first book in a new gritty crime trilogy. It will be published on 1st July but you can pre-order your Kindle copy now by following the link: Born Bad.

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