Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A long way in such a short time.

Hello all, I hope you're still enjoying this fabulous summer.  Isn't it great?  

Owing to the re-release of Relative Deceit this coming Friday, I have been thinking about how far I have come, as a writer, in just one short year.

I've come such a long way that I can scarcely believe it.  However, when I search for myself on any bookstore website, there I am.  I can tell you it's an amazing feeling, even though I don't think it's truly hit home yet.

My journey began last year, 2012, when after a chance conversation with a friend, the idea for my book Charlotte - Pride & Prejudice continues was born.  I can tell you that ever since I was a teenager, I began and never finished stories/books.  However, this time I was encouraged by my wonderful husband and I kept on writing it.  He insisted that everyday I read to him what I had written.  It's quite a motivational tool, to be honest.  I felt that each day I needed to have something to read to him and so I kept on writing.  In three very short months the book was finished.  Wow, that still amazes me today!

Then when I turned my attention to my next book, I received a wonderful email.  It was from Geri Clouston the president of IndieBRAG.  Charlotte had been nominated for their prestigious BRAGMedallion and even more astonishingly, as far as I'm concerned, had won!  As you can see from the cover, Charlotte now proudly bears the 2012 BRAGMedallion.  It really blew me away, and still does.

With that under my belt I was inspired to keep writing.  I published Relative Deceit and, again, within a few short months something else happened to knock my socks off.  Moon Rose Publishing picked Relative Deceit up and said they wanted me to join them.  Well, you can imagine how that made me feel!  Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to sign with a small press publishing company - there aren't many authors out there who wouldn't!
The only downside, if it is a downside at all, was that I had to un-publish Relative Deceit and wait for it to be re-vamped under Moon Rose Publishing's banner - that wasn't so hard to do.
Relative Deceit will be re-released through MRP this coming Friday (30th August) - To join us for the online release event for Relative Deceit click HERE.  You're all welcome and we will be having a lot of fun to celebrate this book's release!

It wasn't long before my readers were emailing me and asking when Pride & Prejudice book 2 would be out.  So I had to get my skates on!  However, the next book took me a while to write.  Being a self-published author is not easy.  We have to do all our own promotion and marketing, and as a newbie I can tell you that was daunting.  I actually found it wearing and it ground me down.  I had to take a couple of months off to recover and to decide if I wanted to continue.  Yes, I actually thought about giving it all up!

But, I have a fabulous group of friends and authors around me - who I will name as I continued because of their love and support.  Jennifer, Judith and Michele urged me, nagged me, and lifted me up.  They spoke with me everyday and one thing that I realised was that they too had, from time to time, felt the exact same way.  That was very encouraging.  Little by little I regained the desire to write again and I picked myself up, dusted myself down, and got back to the computer and writing.
In a short time, Rosings - Pride & Prejudice Continues book 2 was coming along nicely and soon after I published it just before the anniversary of the release of Charlotte.

The success of Rosings urged me to write more and this time I wasn't going to let the marketing and self-promotion get me down.  While Rosings was being edited, I got straight on with writing The Uncanny Life of Polly.  This book was a genre change  for me and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it.  It's about an author who wrote a tacky book which surprisingly became a bestseller.  However, when she gets home from her world-wide book tour, she finds that the events in her book start to become real!  It's great fun and I recommend it to anyone who likes chick-lit and wants a good laugh.  I've had some fantastic emails about it from my female readers and one or two scathing ones from male readers - all I can say is, the book must have hit too close to the truth for their comfort, if you know what I mean! ;-)  (You'll have to read about Nicco to see what I'm talking about.)
The Uncanny Life of Polly is book 1 of a trilogy and I hope to begin book 2 in the spring of 2014.

As the release date for Relative Deceit approached, Moon Rose Publishing contacted me and asked me to write a series connected to Relative Deceit.
As you can imagine I was chuffed to be asked to do that, but I couldn't see how I might possibly work that.  Relative Deceit is a stand alone book and everything is neatly tied up at the end.  There are no loose ends that could hint on a sequel.  I had to think long and hard about this.
After a while it hit me.  I decided to take the detective from Relative Deceit, advance a few years and add his niece into the story.
I decided that the story/series would begin in 1923 - eleven years after Relative Deceit, and at a time when women were only just allowed into the police force in the United Kingdom.  As you can imagine, it's a time of great prejudice against women doing 'a man's job' and Lettie comes up against a lot of sexism.  Sam too - the detective in Relative Deceit, has problems of his own.  I enjoyed writing it and I look forward to developing the characters more in time and throughout the coming series.  I finished the final draft of It's a Man's World this Tuesday (27th August) and sent it immediately to Moon Rose Publishing!  Finger's crossed for a Christmas release!

So, looking back, I have written five books in just over one incredibly short year.  I can hardly believe it!  I am so excited for the year ahead.  My next project is Pride & Prejudice book 3 and then who knows!
All in all, there have been more ups than downs and this journey has been totally worth every minute.  It's been a steep learning curve and being a full-time write is not easy.  We put in long hours and get very little out of it, but having said that, there are other rewards.  I cannot put into words the immense satisfaction that comes from having written a novel... or five!

I love my job.  I love being a writer.  I love my readers.  I will continue to write and I hope you'll continue to give me feedback and tell me what you'd like me to write.

Thank you for a fabulous year!

xxx Karen xxx

Remember to join us for the online release event for Relative Deceit click HERE.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Exciting news!

I'm so excited about the release of Relative Deceit!!  OUT 30th August.

A crime thriller with a touch of romance...but is it all as it seems?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Healthy living: all-or-nothing or pick-and-mix?

WARNING: This blog post contains some disturbing images - please do not continue if you are squeamish or upset by pictures of vivisection. (testing on animals.)

Healthy living: all-or-nothing or pick-and-mix?

Although I do everything I can to avoid eating or drinking anything that might be bad for my health, can the same be said about what I put ON my body?

I don't eat red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, sugar, or fat - the things responsible for most of the major killers/diseases in western society.  (My family medical history necessitated this change.  I thought long and hard about it and realised I don't want to go down the same path and wind up on the operating table to give me 'band-aid' kind of cure.)

For me it's usually all-or-nothing.  I'm not the kind of person who can phase changes in.  I can't do anything little-by-little.  I have to research, mull it over, and then jump in feet first.

So, as I thought yesterday morning in the shower, why do I have bottles filled with killer-chemicals in my home?  Why am I putting lotions and potions on my body that may too have a detrimental effect on my health?

I think that this is all a process that I am going through subconsciously, and it makes me uncomfortable as an all-or-nothing kind of gal.  I choose to use only natural products on my face.  I have done since I was a teenager and discovered The Body Shop.  However, now that they are owned by L'Oreal, the animal testing company, we call them, I cannot be sure that their products are ethical or whether consumers are being duped and lied too.
(Note - Lying is one thing I CANNOT stand.  There are no 'three strikes and you're out' with a liar - for me it's one lie and you're out)

On 11th March 2013 the European Union banned testing on animal for cosmetics, but with L'Oreal's history I am VERY reluctant to go back to The Body Shop - sorry.

Also a few years ago, I checked some of the products that I have been using since I was about 13 years old and found they contain chemicals!  Why?
So, I defected.  I use other stuff and have to scour the internet to get them usually.

I never use deodorant - hahahaha - no, I am not stinky!  I use Naturally Fresh deodorant crystal.  Why?  Well, scientists have discovered chemicals from 'normal' deodorants in breast cancer, that's why, and for me that means those products are no-go.  (I told you I was an all-or-nothing gal!)
Ok - so it's weird to use the first time.  I mean a crystal stick thing that you wet with water and then rub under your arms can't work, right?  And yet it does, very well!

The questions I asked myself have been playing on my mind and I've woken up in the night worrying about them.  I'm the kind of person who worries about that kind of thing.  After all, I only get one body and one life, right?

So, this morning hubby (also a vegan) and I will be visiting The Daily Bread where we live - a wholefood and natural product co-op shop.  I intend to replace the shower gels, the shampoos and conditioners and I may even try out eco-friendly/natural toothpaste!!  Yes, I am daring! haha

One of the things I like about shopping in such a place is that they only stock products from Fair Trade companies.  What is Fair Trade?  Fair Trade is business that is a) carried on legally, and b) trade in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries.  And I like that! :-)

Doesn't it cost a small fortune to do your shopping, and why don't you just get the stuff from the supermarket, I hear you ask.

Well, that answer is easy... as I said above.  It worries me.  It bothers me.  It pricks my conscience.  It gives me sleepless nights and perhaps most importantly, given my own family's medical history, it could save and prolong my life.

Am I advocating that you should do it too?  No, of course not.  It's your choice what you put in and on your body, not mine.
Certainly the world would be a better place if we all thought about what is in the products we buy and where it comes from. But ultimately the choice is yours.

This blog post is about me.  It's about how I feel and what's happening in my life.  A lot of you emailed me and wanted to know more about me personally.  Now you know a bit more.  I have a huge heart, an enormous conscience and, as my hubby says, I'm a wee bit of a hippy! ;-)  

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Telling my story.

I've often wondered if I should tell my own story.  My friends are always telling me to write about my own life and the troubles therein, however, I wonder about the wisdom of doing just that when most of the players in my story are still living.

Even my counsellor advised me to tell my story.  She said there would be a lot of healing in telling it.  I have to say, that after a lot of thinking, I agree with her.  It would be nice to finally get my story out there, but whether anyone would believe it through the thirty-plus years of lies that have been told about me, I don't know.

Perhaps it would be better to write the abuse, physical, emotional, and mental, into my books and deal with it all that way.

What I do know is that I am tired of the lies.  It always amazes me that those who ought to know me the most, hate me the most, but this is borne from the fact that they do not and never have known me at all. They have latched onto the lies,treated them as truth, and judged me rather than getting to know me and discovering for themselves what is clear to everyone else - the 'tall tales' are not true.   I have friends all over the world, and, with my hand on my heart, I can say that I feel more love from them than I ever have from my relatives.

That in turn reminds me of something else my counsellor said - a relative that lies about you disqualifies themselves from being your family.

Bearing that in mind, should I, after so many decades, even care about telling my story and hurting those who perpetrated my own hurt?

I'm not sure I should.  Why?  Because the scars they've given me run so deeply that they touch my everyday life.

What do you think?  Should I write a book about my life?  Or should I write all the mental, emotional, and physical abuse into my stories?  Would the healing be equal?

Writing novels is not easy, but telling your own story is more so.