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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Print Launch of Blood Ties

I am pleased to announce that Blood Ties, book two in my Manchester Trilogy, will be available in book shops from today, and will be stocked at Blackwell’s, The Works and others. This follows on from the print launch of book one, Born Bad, in April and there are plans to launch a print version of book three, Vendetta, later next year.

We celebrated the launch with a party, which started off at Blackwell’s book store in Manchester and continued on to the bar a few doors down. It was a fantastic night and was a pleasure to share it with some of my wonderful readers, fellow authors, publishers, and family and friends. Here are some photographs of the event:

 

The print launch of Blood Ties will be followed by Vendetta, book three in the trilogy, which will hit the book shops later next year.

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Launch of Ruby

It’s launch day for Ruby, book two of my Working Girls series and I’m so excited. I loved creating the character of Ruby as she is so feisty and formidable. She’s also completely different to Maddy, featured in book one, The Mark, as she was vulnerable and prone to errors of judgement.

Here are all the links to digital suppliers if you still haven’t bought your copy:

To remind you of what the book is about, here’s the book blurb together with the cover image:

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?

I do hope you enjoy reading Ruby.

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Keeping a Schedule of Events for your Novel

Following on from my previous post in which I said I would write more posts that fellow authors and aspiring authors might find useful, I decided to share my tips for keeping a Schedule of Events. Below is a sample of my Schedule of Events for the first few chapters of The Mark. For me this document is just as important as the manuscript itself as it helps me to quickly pinpoint exactly where I am up to in a novel without having to wade through pages and pages of text.

The ability to do this is particularly valuable if you have to spend long periods away from your work in progress (WIP), for example, if you go away on holiday or if you have other commitments which mean that you can’t always spend as much time on your WIP as you would like. For me, I can be writing one novel when my publishers come back with edits for the one that is currently in production. That means I might have to put my WIP to one side for a few weeks while I action the developmental edits so it’s useful to have a Schedule of Events when I eventually pick it up again.

Week Day/Time Chap Event
1 Ref jacket 1

 

 

 

7 pgs

Maddy is interviewing prostitutes in the Rose and Crown who are Crystal and some others. When the prostitutes become nervous of someone standing at the bar, Maddy packs up her things and goes.

 

Gilly the pimp is standing at the bar and he comes over to talk to Crystal, his girlfriend who is on the game. He spots Maddy walking away and asks Crystal what is going on. He starts to become curious about Maddy.

1 8pm

Finished with Rob 2 months prev

2

 

5 pgs

Maddy makes it home just in time before her ex-husband Andy brings her daughter Rebecca back. Maddy’s friend, Clare, rings and invites her to a night out. We find out a little about Maddy including her most recent eight month relationship with Rob.
1 Lunchtime 3

4 pgs

Crystal meets Gilly in the Rose and Crown and gives him her earnings. We see how badly he treats her. He tells her to go ahead with the meeting with the journalist.
1

 

 

1

4

 

 

4 pgs

Crystal’s 2nd meeting with Maddy, told from Crystal’s pov.

 

Gilly’s POV as he watches the meeting between Crystal and Maddy through the mirror at the back of the bar. He is becoming increasingly intrigued by Maddy. When she leaves the pub he follows behind her.

1 Late evening 5

5 pgs

Gilly follows Maddy home and then goes back to his seedy bedsit. We see the contrast and see him chasing the dragon.
2

 

 

2

A week later

 

 

Night after prev scene

6

 

 

6 pgs

Maddy goes on her night out with Clare. She meets a man called Aaron who is good looking, tall, slim and blonde.

 

Maddy gets a message from Aaron the following night asking her out and she texts him back saying she’d like to see him.

My Schedule of Events isn’t just useful for keeping track of where the plot is heading; it also serves several other purposes. You will notice that there is a Week column and a Day/Time column, and these help me to figure out my timeline for the novel. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog that timeline is something I often struggle with so these days I keep a note of anything time related as I’m writing the novel.

I also keep a note of anything that might affect the timescale and these are shown in red italics, for example, the fact that she was wearing a jacket rather than a coat in the first scene of chapter one, indicating that it is unlikely to be mid-winter.  By keeping a note of all these time-related details it has made it easier for me to work out the timeline for my novel although I must admit that I still find it the most challenging aspect of writing a novel. That’s probably also down to the fact that all of the books I have recently written form part of a trilogy or a series of books, which complicates matters more than if I was writing a standalone novel.

In the Event column I have detailed what happens in each chapter with a separate paragraph for each scene in the chapter. You will also notice under the Chapter column that I keep a note of how many pages constitute each chapter. This makes it easier when I’m producing a second draft or doing the edits as I might want to extend some scenes, shorten others and maybe switch some scenes around. By keeping a note of the page numbers I can make sure that the whole thing balances overall and that there isn’t too much different between chapter lengths unless this is deliberate, for example, if I want to add a particularly short but impactful chapter.

I hope these tips help you in organising your own WIP. You might think of a few items to add to the Schedule of Events. If so, I’d love to hear your ideas as they might help me too.

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Meet my New Characters

After writing two trilogies it has been so exciting to work on a new series of novels and develop a whole new set of characters. The Mark was recently published and, although this book is the first in my new Working Girls series, it can also be read as a standalone. The same applies to all of the books in the series as each novel tells a separate story which, with the exception of The Mark, concentrates on a particular working girl. However, each book in my Working Girls series will have links to the other books in the series and some character overlap.

It is now a few weeks since The Mark was published and books two and three, Ruby and Crystal are already available for pre-order on Amazon. As I am progressing well with books two and three I thought it would be a good time to introduce you to some of the main characters in The Working Girls series.

Maddy

On the surface Maddy has it all – a good job, nice home and lovely daughter. She’s also intelligent, classy and attractive, and has a way with people. But Maddy has a weakness for the opposite sex, and has several failed relationships behind her. In the aftermath of her divorce she still feels vulnerable and tries to bolster her ego by dating men much younger than her. Unfortunately this leads to problems in her life that ultimately threaten to destroy her.

Aaron

Young, good looking and a successful businessman, Aaron seems too good to be true. He uses his charms to woo Maddy and soon starts to dominate her life. But Aaron isn’t all he seems and, as The Mark progresses he reveals more of his sinister side.

Gilly

The ruthless pimp that develops an obsession with Maddy, Gilly is bad through and through. He is skinny and scruffy looking, and is a drug addict who uses his income from prostitution to squander on drugs and alcohol. Gilly is abusive to his partner, Crystal, and refuses to acknowledge the child they have together. People are wary of Gilly because of his nasty streak. As his obsession with Maddy develops we are left wondering what the outcome will be.

Ruby

She is my favourite character since Rita in The Riverhill Trilogy. Standing at almost six foot and with a slim but muscular physique, Ruby is a formidable woman. She is feisty and fierce and won’t stand any nonsense from anybody. She also has a profound mistrust of men due to childhood experiences. But, despite her feisty side, Ruby has a good heart. She is a loyal and caring friend and is always willing to help out when needed.

Crystal

Crystal is a complex character. Although she is basically good at heart, she is driven to desperate acts because of her compulsion for drugs, her love of Gilly and her need to take care of her daughter, Candice. Despite some of the things she does, Crystal has a conscience and tries to only hurt the people who she feels deserve it. She has been through a lot in her life, which has toughened her up even though by nature she is actually quite a sensitive person. When she goes on a revenge mission she targets the men who have treated her badly during her time as a prostitute, and we see her change from submissive to vengeful.

And there’s more:

This post features the main characters in the books that are now available through Amazon. However, although I am currently only contracted for these three books, I have a further two books in mind. I’m not revealing the characters in those books yet because I’m not sure whether I’ll be writing those next or something different. Also, the idea for the fifth book is a bit sketchy at the moment and needs more research in order for me to flesh out the outline a bit more. I’ll keep you up to date as things develop.  

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My First Author Talk

A while back I was invited to do an author talk at a Manchester based writing group and, although the thought of it made me break out in a cold sweat, I agreed. This sort of thing is well out of my comfort zone and I think the last time I did any public speaking was over 25 years ago. However, I realise that, these days in particular, authors need to become more visible and interact with their readers so it was something I was determined to do.

I decided the best way to start would be with friends and family so I asked my children for some tips as they’re both university students who are used to doing this sort of thing. I was pleased to find that they were really helpful and understood my qualms.

Signing some books

Next I decided to get in some practice on family and friends then extend it to larger groups of friends of friends. It was great to get their feedback and I found that each time I gave a talk I was feeling increasingly more confident. As I tend to over breathe when I’m nervous, one of my friends recommended meditation to practice steadying my breathing, and I have found it a great help.

My friends and family have been such a tremendous support as usual in helping me to overcome my fear of public speaking. I would like to thank each and every one of them as I benefited greatly from their input. What also surprised me was that I wasn’t just relieved after my first practice session but I also felt a tremendous buzz knowing that I was well on the way to conquering my fear. Having said that, I conducted the practice sessions from my own home (bribing friends with snacks and alcohol) so I still needed to conduct the talk in a strange environment.

My talk sparked some discussion amongst the audience.

After several practice sessions I went along to the writing group that had requested the talk. It was daunting walking into a room full of strange faces knowing that I would soon be standing in front of them for the next hour giving my talk then answering questions.  However, I tried to keep calm by telling myself that I had already conducted the talk several times before so it was essentially the same talk but to a few more people. Plus, whenever I start getting nervous and out of breath I pause, take a deep breath and continue. It was also good being able to take along my brother and his partner who helped with some of the practicalities as well as giving me moral support.

I’m thrilled to say that it went well. It took till about halfway through the talk before my nerves settled but I’ve watched a video recording and am pleased to say that the nerves don’t show. The video recordings extend to over an hour altogether with roughly half an hour for the talk and another half an hour for questions as well as a short reading afterwards. Unfortunately I’m a bit lacking in the technical department so I’ve not figured out how to upload a video recording of the event on WordPress. Therefore I’m afraid I’ve only got pictures to share. However I managed to upload a short clip to my Facebook page if you want to check that out at: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherBurnsideAuthor.

Signing for a new Heather Burnside reader

I think that so often in life we are held back by our own negative thinking as we convince ourselves that we can’t do the things that feel scary or alien to us. But I’ve just proved to myself that I can do this so I’m determined to continue giving talks in the future. I am really pleased to have already received some positive feedback from the writing group and I have already been invited to speak some more.

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Publication Day for The Mark

Today is launch day for The Mark, book one in my new series, The Working Girls. I’m very excited because this is the first book in a brand new series which will run to four or maybe even five books. If you haven’t already pre-ordered a copy of The Mark, here are all the links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MVJV3Q4
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MVJV3Q4
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2BKxbBw 
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2NiphE4 

If you missed my previous posts about the new series, you can find out all about my inspiration for The Working Girls at: The Working Girls – My New Series

The Importance of Reviews

During a recent training session with my publishers, Aria at Head of Zeus, I learnt just how important reviews are to the success of a book. I’m really grateful to everybody who takes the trouble to leave a review on Amazon or any of the other platforms. Not only does it help to contribute to the success of a title but it’s also a great way of letting authors know what you thought of the book. So, if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, please leave a review for The Mark. Big thanks!

Blog Tour

My publishers, Aria at Head of Zeus, have organised a blog tour over two weeks, starting today, with each date featuring a particular blog where you can read reviews or articles relating to The Mark. Here is a list of the blogs and the dates on which The Mark will be featured:

Bye for now. I’m off to celebrate the launch.

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