Friday 27 July 2012

Tags: No, not the ones on your luggage….

But the ones we attach to ourselves as Authors. The identity tag we associate with our brand so that our reader knows exactly what to expect from us and what is likely to be the common thread in each and every one of our books.
An Author tagline conveys to our reader in just a few words what genre we write in and how our books will make them feel. If we get it right, we can use it on all our emails and promotional material, making it easier for readers to find our books, our backlist, and to buy our next book.
We want our reader to make an informed choice when they buy and read our books. It used to be enough to choose a genre, think up a suitable title and pick out an appropriate cover – but not anymore. In order for your reader to have a positive and fulfilling reading experience they need more information. They need to know in advance what to expect between the covers. They need it spelled out – and in as few words as possible.
Phew, easier said than done!
The Author Tagline should contain the key words that you want to associate with yourself, your brand, and your writing. It should be descriptive, evocative, appealing, informative, exciting, concise and immediate.
So this week I have been tossing and turning and mulling over my own Author Tag.
I have my key words: Scottish, Scotland, contemporary, fiction, romance, romantic, humour, fun, light romance, dark humour….
So far I have toyed with: Janice Horton -

Contemporary romance in a Scottish setting – with humour

Contemporary Scottish romance – with humour

Light Scottish Romance – Dark Contemporary Humour

Light Contemporary Scottish Romance with Dark Humour

Light romance. Dark humour. Scottish heroes

Dark Humour. Light Contemporary Romance

Dark Humour. Light Romance. Today’s McHeroes

Dark Humour. Light Romance. Hold out for a McHero

 Okay, I think I like the last one best – but what do you think?
And do you have a tagline or any clever tips for coming up with one?
If you do have one - will you share - please….?

Before I go completely tagging crazy…!!

Thursday 19 July 2012

Men In Kilts…

It’s been a busy week. I’ve been writing away in my wee cottage on a Scottish hillside thinking about the characters in my next book. In particular, I’ve been thinking about our hero and how he might look in a Kilt?

Now, in my previous novel Bagpipes & Bullshot’ we have the gorgeous Innes Buchanan and his equally handsome brother Fergus – looking tartantastic in their Clan Buchanan Kilts.

In ‘Reaching for the Stars’, well, I’m sure Finn would look absolutely yummy out of his chef’s whites and sporting the ‘McDuff Hunting’ tartan!
So, to help me out with my research, I’d like you to feast your eyes on this selection of Men in Kilts and let me know who gets the vote from you. For copyright reasons I'm having to post links to images and not actual photos here but please leave a comment - or  your suggestions - in the comment box, as to who you favour in the tartan. Alternatively tweet your response using the hashtag #meninkilts


It’s all a bit of frivolous fun of course – until you watch my favourite kilted uTube video – when research into Men in Kilts becomes an altogether much more serious matter….

All blog-friendly comments on what you think of Men in Kilts are welcome!

Tuesday 17 July 2012

My thoughts on #rnaconf12…

I'm still awash with conference-lag, happy friend thoughts, writerly inspiration and of course, wine - after spending three whole wonderful days at the Romantic Novelist’s Association conference - held this year in lovely Penrith Cumbria.

The conference was well attended by Romance Authors, Editors and Literary Agents. The workshops were interesting, thought provoking and varied. First up on Friday afternoon, straight after the welcome get together, there was an Industry Panel that tackled the subject of International Sales, which in our global economy was incredibly valuable. On the panel were Top Agent Carole Blake, Bestselling UK/US Author Nicola Cornick, Irish Author Ruth Long, and Author and Translator Henriette Gyland.
On Saturday morning, I did a recorded interview for BBC Radio Cumbria and spoke about the business of being an Author and the importance of Romance. I’ll let you know as soon as I have an audio link to the show when it gets aired!
My first workshop of the day was with Talli Roland, my lovely online friend whom I got to actually meet for the first time at Penrith. Talli’s workshop was entitled ‘Online Marketing for Writers’ and proved to be a fabulous masterclass.
Then it was straight into ‘A Woman’s World – the future of Women’s Fiction’ by Kate Harrison. This was an in-depth look into the research Kate had done on reader trends in the current women’s fiction market. The talk was attended by top industry professionals but it was also very useful session indeed for an independent writer like me.
Other highlights of Saturday were the Author Panel on being ‘In For The Long Haul’ with Judy Astley, Freda Lightfoot and Anne Ashhurst (who writes as Sara Craven), who between them have published hundreds of books over their long and prolific careers to date, and a session with the knowledgeable and incredibly humorous Moira Briggs, from the top book review blog, Vulpes Libres.
Then, just before wine o’clock we were treated to An Audience with the fabulous Carole Matthews, who spoke to us about her amazing career, her books, her ups and downs and who afterwards generously answered lots of questions from the audience and then shared valuable writer tips.
The Gala Dinner was a chance to dress up, catch up with writer friends and generally have a fantastic time while consuming lots of wine. I’m pleased to report that the bar did not run out! (The staff at Penrith know us all too well by now!)
Me and Talli Roland on Saturday's Gala Evening

On Sunday morning, in the hangover slot, we were soon splitting our sides with laughter in the fabulous Jane Wenham-Jones’s session ‘What a Way to Earn a Living…

If I had to pick out just one session as a real highlight then it would have to be the last session I attended on Sunday, which was Julie Cohen’s workshop on ‘Learning Story Structure from Pixar Films’. It not only had me in tears (there were lots of Pixar film clips to demonstrate building emotional content!) but it was certainly the most valuable lesson on creating a story arc that I’ve ever had. Julie really knows her stuff and she is SO much fun!

The fabulous Julie Cohen

So what did I ultimately get from attending this conference…?
Well, aside from the absolute thrill of catching up with my wonderful writer friends and meeting new ones, it was getting to chat in the coffee break queues with people like top literary Agents Carole Blake and Dorothy Lumley, and Gillian Green - an Editorial Director at Random House, Heather Osborn from Samhain Publishers, and Editors Linda Filgrew, Sheila Hodgson and Megan Haslam from Mills & Boon. I came away not only inspired to get on with my writing but feeling entirely optimistic about my writing career.

I felt that I’d put my finger on the pulse of the industry – and found it to be alive and kicking!

Jane Wenham-Jones and me at the Gala Evening

Scottish friends Rae Cowie (me) and Jenny Harper

Celebrating my lovely friend Liz Harris's debut book deal with Choc Lit Publishers

More Scottish friends - Joan Fleming, Gwen Kirkwood & Rosemary Gemmell

Me and my buddy Sue Fortin
Enjoying the Penrith sunshine

Enjoying wine and the company of new friends
The Romaniacs - who from their singing efforts really should be a girl band!

Writer friends from Annie Burgh Group - Katy, Bex & Pippa 

The conference dining room where the food was always so yummy!

I just heard the exciting news that magazine style blog FRONTROWLIT is featuring my novel 'Reaching for the Stars' this week. If you get a moment, please do pop over to read an excerpt from Chapter One. Any Comments, Shares and Tweets will be most appreciated!

Monday 16 July 2012

The Star Child - Cover Reveal

Today I’m delighted to be part of my friend and fellow Loveahappyending author’s book cover reveal. The Star Child is Stephanie Keyes YA debut novel!

“The world is about to be cloaked in darkness.  Only one can stop the night.”

Kellen St. James has spent his entire life being overlooked as an unwanted, ordinary, slightly geeky kid. That is until a beautiful girl, one who has haunted his dreams for the past eleven years of his life, shows up spinning tales of a prophecy. Not just any old prophecy either, but one in which Kellen plays a key role. Suddenly, Kellen finds himself on the run through a Celtic underworld of faeries and demons, angels and gods, not to mention a really ticked off pack of hellhounds, all in order to save the world from darkness. But will they make it in time?

The Star Child publishers, Ink Spell Publishing, are offering a fabulous UK & US giveaway to celebrate this special cover reveal. It’s a Celtic Knot designed antiqued bookmark, which will go very well with this book! To go to Inkspell's website and enter the giveaway – click HERE

About The Author:
Stephanie Keyes was born in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania and has worked for the past twelve years as a corporate educator and curriculum designer in the Telecommunications industry. She holds a Master's degree in Education with a specialization in Instructional Technology from Duquesne University and a B.S. in Management Information Systems from Robert Morris University. She is a classically trained clarinetist, but also plays the saxophone and sings. When she's not writing, she is a wife to a wonderfully supportive husband and mother to two little boys whom she cites as her inspiration for all things writing. The Star Child is Mrs. Keyes' debut novel.

Stephanie's Links:
The Star Child is available in ebook and paperback format and launches on 21st July.

Pop back TOMORROW (I simply can't wait until Friday!) when I'll have  lots of news and photos from the Romantic Novelist's Association conference I attended in Penrith Cumbria this weekend...!

Thursday 12 July 2012


I’m off to the Romantic Novelist’s Association Conference in Penrith Cumbria this weekend and I’m very excited about it. There is nothing quite like spending a whole weekend – from Friday to Sunday - in the company of other writers talking non-stop about books, novels, writing and publishing.
If you think that perhaps a get together of Romantic Novelist’s will be sedate affair with lots of pink feather bowers on stiff shoulders and cups of tea balanced on 50 denier covered knees - then think again. These girls (and some men) certainly know how to party. I do remember at one RNA conference I attended that the bar ran out of booze within the first hour. From the shock on the bar staff’s faces I’m confident that’s never going to happen again!

There’s a full programme of events, talks and workshops to attend. There will be lots of Literary Agents and Editors to talk to as well as friends I haven’t seen for ages and those who up to now I’ve only chatted with online. The highlight of the whole conference though will be the Gala Dinner on Saturday night. I really must remember to take lots of photographs - oh - and to be on my best behaviour of course!

If you’d like to follow the event on Twitter – the hashtag is #rnaconf12

I’ll be back here on Monday, as I’m hosting my lovely friend and fellow author Stephanie Keyes in a special blog spot to celebrate the cover reveal of her debut novel The Star Child. PLUS there will be a fabulous giveaway hosted by her publishers Ink Spell Publishing.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Where’s my ereader….?

When I saw this fabulous photo of Nigella Lawson in her home library I was green with envy. I mean, look at it! If there is a Heaven, then surely it has a room exactly like this and with no lifetime restrictions on reading everything ever written - well, perhaps not everything, perhaps not 'All Those Shades of Grey'.
You may be surprised at my greenness – thinking surely, that as a writer who exclusively writes e-books, I might instead covert the latest ereading technology instead…?

Well, the truth is… I love all books.
I love all the lovely new ones with bright colours and sparkles. I love dusty old tomes with aged dedications, I love, love, love them all. And there lies a problem, dear reader…

You see, in my home office I have shelves of books. On the top shelves I have lots of paperback novels (in most genres) and below those I have all the heavyweight hardbacks. On one particular ‘special’ section I have all my precious first editions and coveted collectable books (you mean, I hadn't  actually mention this fetish to you…?) alongside my signed and personally dedicated to me books (sighs and strokes books…)
My love of ebooks came about quite by accident… actually.

A couple of years ago, Mr JH and I were taking a faraway trip and I had refused to compromise on my luggage allowance - but contrary to warnings from Mr JH about airline rules and regulations, the good people at Glasgow Airport had the decency to smile and accept my, ehem - rather large suitcase, with no fuss whatsoever. Although, this was not the case (pardon the pun) when we changed flights, my husband was proved right and I was proved wrong and we were hit with a rather excessive excess weight charge.

I recall holding my breath, crossing my arms and refusing to offload anything. ‘I need absolutely everything in that case, I told my distressed husband, so he had no choice but to hand over several hundred US Dollars to the airline concerned.
When we reached our final destination, a beach resort where one really only needs a thong – and lots and lots and lots of books – and I opened up my suitcase to find that  even though we were both suffering from severe travel fatigue and crippling jet lag, we suddenly had lots to debate about the merits of paperbooks vs ebooks. I’m delighted to tell you, dear reader, that upon our return to Bonnie Scotland, I received a Kindle as a gift from my darling husband - and I’ve never looked back.

So where do you stand with the paper vs ebook thing – or do you have room in your heart for both…?