My Lockdown Launch

Today is publication day for Crystal, the third book in The Working Girls series, and I must admit it is the strangest book launch I have ever had. Usually, I would go for a meal with friends and/or family to celebrate but with everybody in lockdown due to the Coronavirus, that isn’t possible. I therefore intend to celebrate online instead.


The Coronavirus has affected the launch in other ways too. Publication date has been brought forward by a month to replace the scheduled launch of Vendetta in paperback. This is because digital books are selling much better than paperbacks at the moment due to the book shops being closed. Also, the blog tour will be going ahead on the dates that had already been scheduled i.e. from 4th June through to 17th June. This is because this had already been arranged with bloggers.


Here is the book blurb for Crystal:


THE PIMP.
When Crystal’s pimp, protector and former lover, Gilly, dies of a drugs overdose Crystal is bereft. She refuses the paid protection of a rival pimp, determined to go it alone. But a vicious beating from a client leaves her feeling vulnerable and angry.
THE JUDGE.
Meanwhile, Crystal’s daughter, Candice, is asking difficult questions about her job. Crystal decides it’s time to make some changes, and, when a high-profile judge offers her payment to keep schtum about his nefarious activities, it gives her an idea. Perhaps other clients will also pay for her silence…
THE REVENGE.
Crystal engages on a revenge mission to rob, blackmail and expose her most depraved clients. But some of these men are highly dangerous and, if Crystal wants to exact her plan of revenge, she must accept the risks that go with it.


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Thank you to everybody who has bought a copy to date. I hope you enjoy Crystal’s story. If you haven’t yet bought a copy, you can grab one at: http://viewbook.at/Crystal or, if you prefer to read on the Kobo, you can find the book at: http://bit.ly/2GSlhZp.


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Plans for 2020

I’m a bit late with this post but, aside from it having been a busy few weeks with holidays as well as work, I’ve been waiting for some exciting news. I therefore thought I’d combine my news with some details of my plans for the forthcoming year. So, here is my announcement:

More Books

I’m delighted to have just been signed by Aria at Head of Zeus for a further two books in The Working Girls series. That means there’ll be five books in total. Here’s a reminder of the three existing books:

The Mark and Ruby have already been published and Crystal will follow in the summer but you can already pre-order it at: http://viewbook.at/Crystal.

I have just started work on book four, Amber, which should be available early next year. Book five is called Sapphire and it will be the final book in the series.

Aside from that, Vendetta, the third book in my Manchester Trilogy is to be published in paperback in May. It will be stocked in bookshops from 7th May but can be pre-ordered online from Amazon, Waterstones, Blackwells and W H Smiths. Later, it will be stocked by The Works.

More Research

All five books in The Working Girls series involve prostitution and I carried out a lot of secondary research for the first three novels. A character in the forthcoming two books spends a period of her life as a homeless person and I have therefore been carrying out research on the plight of Manchester’s homeless.

Recently, I visited Lifeshare, a Manchester based charity for young homeless people and for a couple of days after that I found it hard to concentrate on writing book four as it has affected me so much. I think a lot of us have preconceptions about the homeless and, like a lot of people, I carry on walking if I pass a homeless person. This is mainly because I feel at threat as a lot of them are unpredictable due to drug and alcohol abuse.

It is true that a lot of the homeless are hooked on drugs and alcohol but this doesn’t apply in all cases. Many young people have just had a bad start in life; whether from a broken home or brought up in care. There are also instances where young girls are encouraged by an older boyfriend to take drugs until they reach the point of dependency and are subsequently thrown out of home by their parents.

Hearing stories of some young people and the trials and tribulations they face on a daily basis has made me view things in a different light. Everybody deserves a chance in life but unfortunately some people never get that chance. There are a wide range of circumstances that lead to homelessness and/or drug addiction and not all of them are down to personal choice. Certain factors can have a knock on effect so that one thing leads to another, for example, a young person brought up in care might have been  encouraged to take drugs by an older child and without parental influence that child might become more susceptible to peer pressure.

Although I still wouldn’t approach a homeless person directly, I do want to help in other ways. Homeless charities carry out important work and are a lifeline to many unfortunate people. As well as donating, I will be publicising the work of homeless charities through my books. If you would like to make a small donation to Lifeshare, here is the link: https://www.lifeshare.org.uk/donate/.

Apart from giving me invaluable information, Lifeshare have put me in touch with other organisations involved both in homelessness and prostitution so I’ll be carrying out further research to help with books four and five. This will begin with a visit to the MASH (Manchester Action on Street Health) centre early next month. This is another important charity that provides help and support to female sex workers in Manchester. You can find out more about them or make a donation at: http://www.mash.org.uk/get-involved/.

More Author Talks

I am currently in talks (pardon the pun) with a couple of groups regarding author talks and I intend to organise some others in the future.  Although nerve-racking, I am starting to enjoy the experience. It’s a good way to spread the word about my books on a local level, and I always enjoy the opportunity to chat to readers.

So, all in all, I think I have a busy year ahead but I count my blessings to be earning a living doing something I enjoy so much.

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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.

The Writers Bureau

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for some time to acknowledge the part that the Writers Bureau has played in my writing career as this is where I started out. I would therefore like to begin this post by saying a massive thank you to The Writers Bureau for all the invaluable skills that I learnt during the diploma course.

I studied with them between 1999 and 2002, and the skills and knowledge that I gained have been invaluable ever since. There are many people who say that writing is a skill that cannot be taught but I strongly disagree. During my studies I learnt writing techniques that have stood me in good stead not only as an author but also in my previous career as a copywriter.

In terms of fiction writing I learnt many writing rules and techniques including: viewpoint, creating atmosphere, building suspense, creating realistic characters, show don’t tell, writing good dialogue, outlines, pace, conflict etc. etc. There are many others but it was a long time ago and I can’t recall all of them offhand. I am sure they have stayed in my subconscious though so that I automatically utilise what I learnt on the course.

The Writers Bureau also suggests reading a wide range of well-written novels because it helps to improve your writing style. By doing so, you can see the approach that other authors take, and how they utilise their writing skills.

But the Writers Bureau diploma is much more than a creative writing course. It’s very comprehensive and also covers article writing, non-fiction books, biographies, writing for trade magazines, and journalism. On the fiction side of things, as well as novels, there are short stories, writing for radio, writing for the theatre and writing for TV.

What I loved about the course was that the tutors encourage you to submit your work to publications so that you can earn income from your writing while you are studying. In fact, the Writers Bureau guarantees that if you don’t earn the cost of the course back by the end of it, they will refund your fees.

The flip side of this is that I did become inundated with work at various points of the course. This is because, if you have an article accepted by a magazine, for example, then it makes good sense to follow it up with another article while your name is still fresh in the editor’s mind. That means that as well as studying for the Writers Bureau diploma you can also find yourself busy writing various magazine articles at the same time.

It can also become a little frustrating as the course introduces you to so many types of writing that you often only write the opening chapters and a synopsis before you have to push on with the next course module. Having said that, there is no time limit for finishing your diploma (from what I remember) and it means you have the makings of a large body of work, which you can return to in the future.

The Writers Bureau diploma is completed on a home study basis so students can study at their own pace. Each student is allocated a personal tutor who gives feedback on their work and makes suggestions regarding ways in which it can be improved. I found this personal touch very helpful.

It was while I was studying for my diploma with the Writers Bureau that I wrote the first three chapters of a book called Nightclubbing’, a chic lit novel about two twenty somethings with a colourful social life. That was a long time ago. At the time I sent it to various agents and publishers as suggested by the course tutors but wasn’t successful.

However, I did have some success with magazine articles so I put the novel to one side and pursued the magazine route for some time. Eventually, I stopped writing magazine articles and transitioned into a copywriter and proof-reader, setting up a writing services business. The diploma gave me the confidence to do that and to pursue opportunities for paid work.

I enjoyed my time as a copywriter and proof-reader but I discovered on the writing course that my forte and preference lay in writing novels and I always intended to return to that one day. As well as wanting to finish the novel, I wanted to finish a non-fiction book that I had also started during the course. Eventually I did so and, although I didn’t have much success on the non-fiction side of things, my first novel was well received.

By this time I had left the novel for several years and when I returned to it I changed it completely. What had started out as a chic lit novel entitled, Nightclubbing, became my first gritty crime novel entitled, Slur. I’ve since realised that gritty crime is definitely my genre of choice although I’d like to write at least one thriller in the future too.

Although I originally self-published Slur and the two follow up novels, A Gangster’s Grip and Danger by Association, I was lucky enough to be spotted by a publisher, Aria Fiction. The three books became The Riverhill Trilogy, which has been republished with Aria Fiction.

I have since written a further trilogy, The Manchester Trilogy, also available through Aria, and have just signed a contract with them for another three books. The first two books in The Manchester Trilogy, Born Bad and Blood Ties, have both become Amazon category bestsellers and reached the top 100 overall of Amazon UK eBooks with one of them reaching the top 50.

I am sure that without the Writers Bureau I would never have had the confidence to self-publish my first novel. They taught me many valuable skills, which I put to good use every time I write. I am now lucky to be earning a living doing something I love, and it all started when I studied for my writing diploma with The Writers’ Bureau.

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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.

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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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