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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The Work and Social Impact of Coronavirus

Watching recent news and social media posts, it’s easy to get swallowed up by all the mass hysteria surrounding the Coronavirus. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not playing down its effects but it’s sometimes best to stop, take a breather and try to take a more positive approach to what is happening.

I must admit that I succumbed to a bit of self-pity this morning. In recent weeks I lost my father and added to that is the fact that my children might not be able to make it home for Mother’s day because of the virus. As part of my coping mechanism when my father died I decided to get out and keep busy as much as I could knowing that I couldn’t afford to revisit the chronic depression I suffered when I lost my mother.

But, recent news announcements suggest that I would be irresponsible to go out any more than necessary and I don’t want to do anything that will place either me or other people at risk. I therefore thought that as a homeworker and asthmatic that lives predominantly alone I might be faced with weeks on end stuck at home feeling bored and depressed.

I think that when something catastrophic like this happens we all look at how it will affect us as individuals and how it will affect our loved ones. Most of us are innately self-interested but I think it pays to look outside of that sometimes. That is what I did this morning and I found that I can draw some positives out of my own situation, and I’m hoping that other people will be able to do so too. These are just my immediate thoughts about my own situation but I’m sure others will come to me:

  1. As a homeworker I don’t have to worry about not being able to work unlike a lot of bar, restaurant and other workers who will be faced with weeks of no pay or even redundancy. My heart goes out to them – it must be a really worrying time.
  2. With today’s technology it is easier than ever to keep in touch with people, not only by messaging but also by video link using the various apps available. I usually only do video calls with my children and partner but I’m considering extending this to other friends and family.
  3. I can do as many exercise classes as I want via You Tube on my TV – Step, Zumba, Tai Chi, the possibilities are endless. And exercise is a great way to lift mood because of those endorphins. I can even extend this to as many friends as I can fit in my lounge while keeping a safe distance and, because we’re all friends together, we could take whatever measures we wanted to protect ourselves without feeling self-conscious. (I’ve got a mental image of us wearing masks and latex gloves, carrying our own bottled water and disinfecting the door handles.) We might even have a laugh while we’re doing it.
  4. The weather is picking up so it’s a good time to get out in the garden – working or relaxing. There are so many things you can do including giving it a facelift by painting fences etc.
  5. It’s also good to go out for a walk or a bike ride if you have an outdoor area that isn’t too populated, for example, if you live near the countryside.
  6. I’m also looking at my diet, trying to eat healthily and take my vitamins to build up my immunity. As part of this I’m trying to cook more healthy meals that I can stock in my freezer.

These ideas have led me to think about other people and steps they could take to help themselves. If you’re facing reduced hours or redundancy then it might be an opportunity to focus on a skill that might prove lucrative in the future. I know the situation is grave at the moment but some good might come out of it in the long run. My own writing career started after I spent a period as a stay at home mum and decided on a complete career change. I can honestly say I’ve never looked back as I wasn’t very happy in my previous career.

There are also opportunities to make money online. You could sell hand-crafted items on Etsy on unwanted items on Ebay, Amazon or Facebook marketplace. You might even have a skill that could make you money online via sites like Upwork, Guru and PPH or even by shouting about it on social media.

I have also been inspired by a couple of news items such as the one regarding the family of a Coronavirus victim in Manchester who have asked for no flowers at his funeral, just acts of kindness. Then there are the two ladies in Altrincham who are making sure that elderly and vulnerable people in their area are not left isolated or in need of shopping etc. This kind of community spirit is needed at a time like this.

Most of us can also draw comfort from the fact that the vast majority of people survive Coronavirus. Currently the mortality rate in the UK is just over 2%. Although it will be difficult for those affected, many of us can look forwards to a time when the virus is behind us and we have survived it.

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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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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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Born Bad in Paperback – Blog Tour

I’m thrilled to announce that Born Bad is going into print from tomorrow 4th April and will be stocked by Waterstones, The Works, W H Smith Travel and other independent book shops. Whether the book shops choose to stock my other books in future will depend very much on how Born Bad sells so please spread the word and encourage people to buy a copy.

As part of the launch of the paperback version my publishers, Aria, have organised a wonderful blog tour with lots of lovely bloggers involved. I’ve included details below so you can check them out.

I’ve already received my author copies of the paperback version and they look great. I can’t wait to see them on the shelves of book shops.

Final Piece of the Jigsaw

It’s turning out to be a very exciting time for me. Not only were my books featured as part of the fabulously successful Aria gang lit week last week but I’ve also just signed a contract with literary agent, Jo Bell of Bell Lomax Moreton. For me it fulfils a 20 year quest to find an agent and publisher.

Image by geralt on Pixabay

I met Jo at the Aria author party a few weeks ago and mentioned to her that I was looking for an agent. Jo was lovely to talk to and came over as enthusiastic and professional. We agreed to chat further and the upshot is that I have signed up with Bell Lomax Moreton.

I see it as the next stage in my author journey and I’m hoping Jo can further my writing career. It’s encouraging that Jo has a strong background in publishing on the sales side of things and that the agency has some very successful authors on the books.

It’s also a joy to have finally found an agent. I first started approaching agencies around twenty years ago when I wrote the first three chapters and synopsis of the book that was later to become Slur. Sadly, I didn’t succeed and I eventually published the book independently until I was spotted by a publisher.

Last year, with six published novels to my name and a contract with a reputable publisher, I decided to have another try at finding an agent but after several attempts I again gave up. The whole process is time consuming and it’s disheartening when you don’t even get a reply so I decided to focus on my writing instead.

I foolishly thought that as a published author it would be easier to attract an agent but how wrong I was. The reason, I believe, is that agents are so inundated with manuscripts that they simply get consigned to the ‘slush’ pile. I think there’s a lot to be said for the personal approach where you get to meet agents face to face and both decide whether you want to work together.

I’m very enthusiastic about working with Jo as I’ve heard a lot of good things about her. It’s a comforting feeling knowing that I’ve got someone on board who can provide strong representation, support and advice. Here’s to the future:

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay

The Working Girls – Cover Reveal

If you’ve been checking out the announcements from my publishers, Aria at Head of Zeus, this week you will have noticed that they have revealed the covers for the first three books in my Working Girls series. Just in case you missed them, I’m thrilled to be able to reveal them here on my blog. I’m really pleased with them and also love the taglines that my publishers have added. All three books are now available for pre-order. Here are full details including links and I have added the tag lines for each book.

The Mark – ‘When everyone is on the make, it’s hard to tell who’s fooling who…’

Publication date 13th June 2019.

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

 

Ruby –  ‘Being a madam comes with responsibilities, can she keep her girls safe…’

Publication date: 5th December 2019

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MVJ9FMB

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MVJ9FMB

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2Sgd6sg

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2T65ahm

 

Crystal – ‘Blackmail is a high stakes game, but who is going to be the winner…’

Publication date: 1st June 2020

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07N8GDS5V

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N8GDS5V

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

I hope you like the covers as much as I do and that you will enjoy reading the books as much as I am enjoying writing them.

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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.

My New Office

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time. It’s now eight months since I moved house and I’ve set up an office in the back of the house so I thought I’d share some pictures with you. The room is actually a small conservatory which was lovely and cosy in the winter but has been too hot in the current climate. Fortunately I’m on Google Drive so I’ve been able to upload my work to the cloud and work on my laptop in a cooler part of the house.

Although I’ve had blinds fitted to all the windows in the office and a screen guard to stop glare from the sun, what I really need is a roof blind. It’s on my list of things still to do/buy in my new home and I expect that by next summer I’ll be sorted. Then, if it’s still too hot I’ll probably add a small air conditioning unit. Apart from that the only other thing I want to change is to swap the large cabinet for a smaller one as it dominates the room at the moment. However, that would mean yet another clear out and I’ve had enough of those for the time being.

I’m one of those writers who is happiest having a separate area of the home where I can work uninterrupted. There is always so much to do when you move house but at least for now I’ve got a work space which is comfortable most of the time, and which has the potential to be a pleasant, self-contained work area 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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