Monday, 22 August 2011

The Big Reveal

I simply couldn’t wait to show off my new covers for Bagpipes & Bullshot and my forthcoming novel, Reaching for the Stars, so here they are!

I’m delighted with them - and think of them as innovative - and even a little bit risqué. They are bright and eye-catching and GOLD and RED and don’t think there is anything quite like them on Amazon Kindle at the moment - so that also makes them brave and unique!

The designer of these fabulous covers is an amazingly talented and professional guy called JT Lindroos, who I can’t recommend highly enough to anyone wanting a book cover to be designed and produced for them. I think he did a fantastic job!

Well, I’m uploading the new designs to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords as you read this and will report back on responses as soon as, erm, I’ve got anything to report!

In the meantime I’d really like your thoughts and impressions - so please do leave a comment.

On Friday, I’m a guest on Talli Roland’s blog - that’s Friday 26th August - so please do come along as I’ll be mixing bullshot and revealing the secret Scottish recipe! Gosh - all this revealing is far too exciting - I think I might need to lie down.....

The first week in September, I’ll be re-designing this blog to suit the new Red & Gold branding - so please do keep popping back to see where I’m up to with that!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Not one but two great reviews...!

This week Bagpipes & Bullshot has received not one but two great reviews!

Lou Graham -on her book review blog says:
 "This really is RomCom at its best in a rural setting."

Then, a lovely lady called Dorothy Bush from Canada, who won a copy of  Bagpipes & Bullshot in the Launch Day Giveaway, posted this 5* review on Amazon:

"I won Bagpipes and Bullshot in a launch contest and what a great win it was. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and I don't normally read romantic comedy, but this is a great light read... sure to please both romance readers and those who like humour. The premise is fresh; who would think to pair a Scottish Laird (Innes Buchanan) and a Texas cow-girl (Orley McKenna)? The result of this unlikely pairing is a fun and adventurous romp through Texas and Scotland. We all know life doesn't run smoothly and Janice Horton has used that fact of life in this story. Being a Laird has its responsibilities, owning ancestral lands and an ancient home takes money which isn't easily earned and then this Laird meets a woman that turns him upside down. One of the obstacles in the way of this romance is a certain young lady who had her sights set on that very same Laird. But said lady (who isn't one - by the way - in any sense of the word) doesn't take this American girl's intrusion lightly. There is plenty of drama and manipulation through-out, lots of tongue-in-cheek humour as well as some laugh-out-loud parts. And on a personal note, I wondered about the bullshot - now I know :) Thanks Janice Horton for a great escape read."

If you haven't yet read Bagpipes & Bullshot you can download it now for just 97p or $1.34.
Note: this special price is for a limited time only.

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You can download a free Kindle App from Amazon and read Bagpipes & Bullshot on your PC, Laptop, Mac, Ipod, Ipod, or other mobile digital device.

Want to read more reviews...?

Friday, 19 August 2011

Author Interview with Bert Johnston

Bert Johnston is an Author and Presbyterian minister who in his retirement has turned from the writing of sermons and articles on church life to the writing of fiction. He has just launched his second novel Sunrise in the Cloud Forest which explores the themes of ambition, trust and forgiveness.

Bert was one of the lovely people I met as a direct result of my Bagpipes & Bullshot launch on 1st April. He and his wife Betty were a great support on the day. I’m currently reading Bert’s new book Sunrise in the Cloud Forest on my Kindle. It’s such a great read, so I invited Bert to come over from Spanish Fort, Alabama, to tell us more about his writing.

Bert, can you tell us a little more about your book, Sunrise in the Cloud Forest?
Sunrise is primarily the story of Dr Matthew Landry, the founder and senior pastor of Harmony Temple in Mobile, Alabama and of Georgia Landry, his wife and co-pastor. Dr. Matt's great desire is to make the Temple the largest Protestant church along the Gulf Coast, but that goal and his marriage are threatened by the public confession of a woman who claims to be the pastor's lover. While a private investigator labours to prove the pastor's innocence, a wounded Georgia Landry flees to Costa Rica to carve out a new life for herself. But is Matt guilty or innocent? The couple's own sons, who are themselves divided in their religious loyalties, are divided on this question also. The future of a family, as well as the future of a great church, is at stake.

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing and was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
I have been writing ever since my fourth grade poetry was printed in the Wheeling (West Virginia) Intelligencer. In high school I edited my school’s weekly newspaper and aspired to be a journalist. My major life work has been that of a Presbyterian minister, and for many years, I was preoccupied with the writing of weekly sermons and church news letters. In retirement I wrote my memoirs, then my family history, and belatedly turned to fiction at the age of eighty when prodded by my oldest son to join him in National Novel Writing Month. My fiction writing has, so far, been only a five-year chapter in my multi-chapter life.

How much personal experience do you put into your novels and how much is research?
A lot of my personal experience as a young minister in rural Virginia found its way into Parson Campbell’s Breakthrough, my first novel. Sunrise in the Cloud Forest bears almost no trace of my personal experience, and required many hours of research, both online and off.

To plot or not to plot – as a writer how much of a planner are you?
In writing Parson Campbell’s Breakthrough, I began with a story line, let the story run away from me, and never looked back through its many turns, twists, and revisions. In writing Sunrise, I worked out a plot, a scene chart, a character time-line, and character profiles. There were, of course, changes and revisions, but only a dozen or so drafts this time, a number that reveals that even with planning I am a slow and picky writer. If I were to write another novel, I would plot and plan again as I did for Sunrise.

Do you have a favourite place to work?
Not just a favourite place, but almost my sole place: an easy chair with a computer on my lap, a dictionary at my right hand, and a revolving stash of books surrounding me.

Can you tell us what you are planning next or working on now ?
I have made a tentative beginning (a prologue) on The Canterbury Hall Tales, a contemporary take on Chaucer. These will not be travellers’ tales, but the stories of a half dozen or more people who like to spin yarns around their retirement centre dining table. I have no end in sight for this project. First, I must learn to write short stories, and then endeavour to translate them into Chaucer-style verse.

You can find out more about Bert on his website:

You can buy his books in either paperback or Kindle format from or

Parson Campbell's Breakthrough (2009)
Sunrise in the Cloud Forest (August 2011)

Friday, 12 August 2011

Shaz's Stars...

Shaz’s Stars is a regular feature on

This week, using sun sign astrology, Shaz Goodwin, the resident astrologer, interviews me to see how being a Pisces affects my writing!

Click here to link to and read the article

Thank you for all your interesting comments on last week's 'cover story' post.
All comments on this week's astrology post are very welcome here or on the blog

Friday, 5 August 2011

A Cover Story...

Lately I’ve been thinking about the value of good cover design. As an indie author with my second e-book due out at the end of the year, I’m already starting to imagine how the cover might look. One of the joys of being independently published is that I get to design and choose a book cover myself.  The only problem is that it’s really hard to come up with something that says ‘sassy, sexy but broken, media-stalked celebrity chef goes awol’ using a single image whether that is with a slick photograph or snappy illustration!

With Bagpipes & Bullshot I designed the cover myself after purchasing a stock image and I think it works really well. I’ve actually been complimented on this cover several times on Twitter! However, bringing out a second title has brought up a whole new issue and that is how to make it instantly clear to readers that this new book is written by the same author i.e. me.

I checked out the Amazon listings and some authors stand out from the crowd as having branded themselves and their books really well. It seems to me that Fantasy and Thriller genre writers are particularly good at this. Just look at these fabulous covers on George R R Martin’s books:

In the Chick Lit genre, I think there’s no better example than Talli Roland’s book covers. Interestingly, Talli’s publisher redesigned the first cover of The Hating Game when they noted sales falling back a little just after publication and then watched sales soar again with this fresh new colourfully illustrated design. Cleverly, they have followed it up with a strikingly similar cover for Talli’s new book Watching Willow Watts which is due out in September as an e-book.

My next book ‘Reaching for the Stars’ is about a disillusioned celebrity chef. The genre is contemporary romantic fiction. Bagpipes & Bullshot is in that category too - but as neither my sexy chef nor my gorgeous bagpipe playing hero would be seen dead wearing pink - what’s this author to do? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m having the job done by a professional and, having discussed ideas, have now contracted out both books to an experienced cover designer. It’s all very exciting. So do come back soon when I promise all will be revealed!

In the meantime, what do you like to see on a book cover? An illustration, a photograph, a headless woman/man, landscapes, seascapes, houses, trees, shoes and handbags, the list of options is endless - and what about colours - what’s in and what’s out? Please do leave a comment and feel free to follow my blog. In most cases I’m almost always going to follow you back.