Kicking off the New Year with #BlogTour and #Giveaway

As a follow up to ‘My Brilliant #BookBlitz across the Blogscape‘ I enjoyed the first part of January 2018 with an amazing Blog Tour for my debut romantic thriller “Beginnings.”

This is the first time I have used the professional services of a Book Blogger to do some serious marketing – and who better to turn to than Rachel’s Rare Resources with a host of different packages for authors.

This is how the Blog Tour worked. Every day for 7 days, my book was promoted on 3 different book blogs. For some, this included a bit of blurb about my book, my biography, my social networks and best of all, a prize giveaway for a signed paperback. The sharing on these posts across social media was phenomenal, potentially reaching 1000s of readers.

 

Best of all, a number of these bloggers reviewed my book and some of their testimonials moved me to tears. It’s often easy to lose faith in yourself as an author (and I’ve been there!) Dwindling sales and reviews can make you feel like giving up at times…

But if ever my flagging confidence needed a boost, this Blog Tour hit the spot. So I’d like to share just a few of those kind words.

“This thriller is action-packed and engrossing located in the seamy side of London in the 1970s,” says The Eclectic Review.

“Beginnings is a truly white knuckle ride of a book with a heart warming love story weaved within its pages.” says Wrong Side of Forty about the first book of the Same Face Different Place series.

“10☆ Exceedingly Good, Fast Past Thriller, Hooked from the Start!! Danger at ever turn!” says Dash Fan Book Reviews about Beginnings

“The atmosphere that the author creates is electric in places, … The action sequences are swift, brutal and gripping.” says Welcome to my Worlds.

And here is an embedded tweet:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Concluding the Blog Tour

In essence, I had 21 promotional posts and when each blog was published, loads of people shared it on Twitter (and lots more retweeted it to their followers.) Some shared it on Facebook and a small number of the reviews were posted on Goodreads on Amazon too which is brilliant way of furthering the success of this book. Did it increase my sales? Well no, not immediately… but I see this promotion as more of a long term venture and not an instantaneous sales boost. The exposure for Beginnings has been tremendous and great for raising awareness. The giveaway also earned me some extra likes on my Facebook page which tipped me over the ‘500 likes’ milestone. I am sure that over time, it will not only generate sales but promote the whole series.

Beginnings by Helen J. Christmas

A massive thanks goes out to all the Bloggers and most of all, to Rachel Gilbey for all the hard work she put into this. I will be doing another blog tour in April to promote the second book of the series, Visions. But in the mean time, here is a list of all the Book Bloggers who participated.

Me and My Books
https://vonnibee.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/promopost-beginnings-by-helen-j-christmas-sfdpbeginnings-rararesources/

Overdue Book Reviews
http://overduebookreviews.com/2018/01/06/blog-tour-beginnings/

Chat About Books
https://chataboutbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/beginnings-by-helen-j-christmas-promo-giveaway-rararesources/

The Eclectic Review
https://eclecticreview.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/book-review-beginnings-same-face-different-place-book-1-by-helen-christmas-9780992989958/

Emma The Little Bookworm https://emmathelittlebookworm.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/blogtour-beginnings-by-helen-j-christmas-sfdpbeginnings-rararesources-crime-competition-win-giveaway-thriller-amreading/

Wrong side of Forty
https://wrongsideoffortyuk.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/beginnings-by-helen-j-christmas-blogtour-review-giveaway/

Baattyaboutbooks
https://baattyaboutbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/blog-tour-beginnings-by-helen-j-christmas/

Sals World of Books
http://www.salsworldofbooks.co.uk/blog-tour-beginnings-helen-j-christmas/

Dash Fan’s Book Reviews
https://dashfan81.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/blog-tour-beginnings-8118.html Dough_nut81

Hair Past A Freckle
https://hairpastafreckle72.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/beginnings-by-helen-j-christmas-blogtour.html

Welcome to my Worlds
https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/blog-tour-beginnings-by-helen-j-christmas/

Being Anne
http://beinganne.com/2018/01/blogtour-beginnings-by-helen-j-christmas-sfdpbeginnings-rararesources-giveaway/

Chelle’s Book Reviews
http://chellesbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/beginnings-by-helen-christmas-blog-tour.html

Book Babble
http://memesandfiction.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/beginnings-same-place-different-place-1.html

Donna’s Book Blog
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/my-review-of-beginnings-by-helen-j-christmas/

Reflections of a Reader
https://reflectionsofareader.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/blogtour-beginnings-by-helen-j.html

Book Junkiez
http://bookjunkiez.com/2018/01/10/beginnings-blog-tour/

Stephs Book Blog
https://stephsbookblog.com/2018/01/11/beginnings-same-face-different-place-by-helen-j-christmas-blog-tour-review/

Fictional Rendezvous Book Blog http://fictionalrendezvousbookblog.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/beginnings-blog-tour.html

Read Along with Sue
https://sueandherbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/review-beginnings.html

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Riches and Rags, a Day Trip to #Brighton

Brighton is a town of Colour

Today’s post is a recapture of a recent trip to Brighton. I’ve been visiting this town since my early teens, in fact it was 1980 when I was first captivated by the quirkiness of The Lanes.

The Heart of Brighton, leading to The Lanes

Nowadays, I treat myself to a mooch around this lovely seaside town at least once a year. With an ever growing array of amazing shops and restaurants, it never fails to amaze me. Brighton has it all. Added to the cornucopia of clothes shops, I spotted a shop selling traditional sweets, another selling vegan sweets, there were bespoke cakes and macaroons in every colour of the spectrum… It seems impossible to imagine so many temptations, which leaves me wondering if there is anything left to invent.

A traditional sweet shop

Julien Plumart, Brighton

As for the choice of food… cafés and booths sell just about everything from homemade cookies to noodle bowls. Mexican, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, I could go on forever listing the choice of eateries but I eventually stumbled across a little French Bistro; a traditional 13th Century Fisherman’s cottage tucked away in the oldest part of The Lanes. It offers an array of fresh seafood and shellfish but all I cherished was a tureen of fish soup. Warming and delicious it was packed with succulent fish and shellfish and a portion of rustic french bread, perfect for a light lunch.

D’arcys Restaurant in the Lanes

But a town blighted by Poverty

As I explored the streets, enjoying the decadence, I could not ignore the number of homeless people scattered around the town. Sadly, rising homelessness is the one regrettable downside of this age and this government conveniently choose to ignore it. It’s all too easy for people to say “get a job, lazy scroungers,” but the truth is NO ONE will employ a homeless person. To qualify for any type of work, you need a fixed abode. But how can anyone at rock bottom climb their way out of this trap? Rents in the south have quadrupled in the last six years but wages have not.

The reason for their plight is often more complicated than people think. Many turn to drugs and alcohol but in some way, I can empathise… No one chooses this existence and will surely turn to anything to numb the harsh reality behind their broken lives.

Graffiti in Brighton

Graffiti in Brighton (interpret this as you will)

I don’t want to end on a depressing note but I will finish my saying that in my next novel (a work soon to be in progress), one of the main characters will start off as a homeless man before the suspense gets rolling… and that’s all I’m saying.

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Beginnings by Helen J Christmas #Blogtour #Review #Giveaway

Just had to share this very inspiring review from another book blogger as part of my Blog Tour for Beginnings…

Wrong side of forty

BEGINNINGS2Synopsis

Beginnings is a romantic thriller set in the criminal underworld of 1970s London. Eleanor Chapman is 16. She has no idea her father is employed in a world of organised crime until the day he is forced to go on the run, leaving her at the mercy of dangerous people.

Her life is spiralling out of control yet on the night she plans to escape, she stumbles across a mysterious prisoner. His name is Jake, a rock musician from Holland and he has a contract on his life.

Their daring escape across London eventually draws them into a place of hiding before Jake’s chilling story begins to unfold. He was the one vital witness to a sinister scene leading up to the death of a British MP and now those responsible want him silenced. As two young people, thrown together by fate they develop intense feelings for each other…

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#BlogTour Beginnings by Helen J. Christmas @SFDPBeginnings @rararesources #Crime #Competition #Win #Giveaway #Thriller #AmReading

So chuffed to see this post, published via ‘Emma The Little Bookworm,’ part of my #BlogTour With Rachel’s Random Resources. To relaunch ‘Beginnings’ there’s also a chance to win a signed copy. A big thanks to all these wonderful book bloggers!

Emma The Little Bookworm

I am delighted to be hosting a competition for one lucky winner to win a signed copy of Helen J. Christmas’s novel, Beginnings.

Beginnings is the first book in Christmas’s series which starts life back in the 70s and it’s one I’m looking forward getting stuck into!

Before that, here’s the blurb …

Beginnings is a romantic thriller set in the criminal underworld of 1970s London. Eleanor Chapman is 16. She has no idea her father is employed in a world of organised crime until the day he is forced to go on the run, leaving her at the mercy of dangerous people.

Her life is spiralling out of control yet on the night she plans to escape, she stumbles across a mysterious prisoner. His name is Jake, a rock musician from Holland and he has a contract on his life.

Their daring escape across London eventually draws them…

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Reflections of Christmas 2017

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,
please put a penny in the old man’s hat.

Winter Sunset taken outside our house

There is something a little extra poignant about that song, which I can’t define, Christmas being the one time of year that stirs mixed emotions.

On the one hand, it’s a wonderful time of year to catch up with friends and relatives, send each other cards, exchange gifts and enjoy a traditional celebratory end of the year feast. On the other, it strikes me as being very commercial, with retail giants rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of how they can maximise their profits.

I wrote this blog to ponder over a bit of both…

Seasonal Weather

The weather really leant itself to the season; crisp cold walks, a sparkle of frost on the ground and beautiful winter sunsets. We were lucky this year to have an skating rink in Bognor, an absolute treat for families where even the more senior folk took to the ice.

Ice skating rink in Bognor

December, I also found myself coming to the end of a long edit of second novel, Visions. Filled with reminiscences of the 80’s, such memories provided inspiration for a Christmas scene, in which younger character, Elijah, found a visit to London quite enthralling:

“They were mesmerised by the window displays in the West End, the streets hugged by tall Regency buildings, not to mention the pretty street lights.”

It got me thinking how nice it would be to go back, after a 30 year absence. So on December 16th, a week before Christmas, my husband and I took a train and enjoyed an entire day mooching around London with friends. Despite the crowds, we immersed ourselves in a spectacle of sights, sounds and smells from live acts in Covent Garden to hot chestnuts in Oxford Street, also famous for its magical Christmas Lights.

Our Itinerary: (for those thinking of a tour)

Google Map of central London showing the highlights of our walk.

1. Covent Garden: bursting with character, live entertainment, shops, markets and eateries, this is a great place to start, have a coffee and soak up the atmosphere.

Some of the best bits in Covent Garden, this Christmas

2. Trafalgar Square: street artists, living statues and buskers fill this iconic place, flanked by the National Galleries and dotted with an array of monuments.

Trafalgar Square, London Just around the corner from Trafalgar Square, walking up towards Soho

3. Moving on to Soho: before we got there, we discovered an amazing Danish bakery for lunch. Ole and Steen in Bedford Avenue offers a delicious choice of breads, cakes and pastries, including a mouth watering focaccia with gruyere.

Ole and Steen Bakery in Bedford Ave, London

From there, feast your eyes on the bright city lights of Soho and wander into Chinatown.

China Town, London

4. China Town filters its way gently into Leicester Square, filled with theatres and famous for its West End shows such as Les Miserables.

China town leading into Leicester Square

5. From Leicester Square wander into Piccadilly but are the streets lined with gold? Just past the theatres of the West End, the shops are expensive, possibly the most exclusive to be found, including the Ritz and Fortnum and Mason, finest of all food halls.

The food hall at Fortnum and Mason

Various shop window displays and Christmas decorations in London

6. and 7. Short cut through the back streets: we stumbled across a craft fair, a peaceful church and a park, not to mention beautifully decorated shop windows and Christmas trees; a welcome diversion from the crowds.

One of the many pretty restaurants in London's west end. One of the many pretty back streets in London's west end. London christmas trees

8. Oxford Street: starting from Marble arch and moving east, the lights got better and better; a kaleidoscope for the eyes, before the tube station at the junction of Regent Street marked the end of the day and the start of our homeward journey (9).

Selfridges in Oxford Street Stunning Christmas lights in London, Oxford Street Regents Street in London and the spectacular Christmas Lights

Treasure the High Street!

Thinking back to that day in London, I cannot emphasise how much I enjoyed the tradition of shopping in the High Street. The local towns of Bognor and Chichester too, provided endless inspiration for gifts and put some ‘people power’ back into Christmas. I blatantly boycotted Amazon this year. I’ve seen hundreds of traditional retailers sinking under the swelling mass of online giants and if we’re not careful, this quintessential ingredient of British culture could be lost forever.

Don’t let it happen! High Street shopping is a far more personal, interactive experience, it supports local businesses and keeps our town centres alive.

Gotta love shopping in the High Street!

A Final Word

Before I round off my post, I’ll finish by saying this was a very special Christmas for me, but at the same time I want to spare a thought for those less fortunate. On Christmas Day, I read a most heart-warming story in which 200 homeless people in London tucked into a free Christmas dinner served by volunteers: (source: i newspaper 25.12.17). The article describes how “Euston Station opened its doors for the festive treat, thanks to a partnership between charities and Network Rail.”

My message for 2018 is, the world can be a better place if we all do our bit. Enjoy yourselves and have a happy new year; be thankful for everything you’ve got but most important of all, be kind to others.

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My Brilliant #BookBlitz across the Blogscape

A big shout went out this month for ‘Beginnings,’ first novel of my thriller series ‘Same Face Different Place.’

Beginnings - Book Blitz Banner

Thanks to professional book blogger, Rachel, I took her up on her offer of a 1 Day Blitz on December 2nd.

This is in celebration of a new version of ‘Beginnings’ which included some professional editing and proof-reading. To re-launch this edition on the market, I decided to give it a final push before Christmas and this is what happened…

On December 2nd, 20 Book Bloggers Nationwide, ran a feature on ‘Beginnings’, including a synopsis and author bio. Best of all, many of the blogs included extracts from the book, to give readers a taste of what to expect… Part romance and part thriller, these extracts range from the opening chapter where the danger begins to unfold, to the development of romance between the two main protagonists. A couple of gripping chase scenes introduced the thriller elements of the story.

Beginnings graphic used on Twitter

One by one, the bloggers began sharing these posts across social media.

Twitter was the most prominent network with the added bonus of reaching out to thousands of readers. There were a fair few shares on Facebook too. Being a Saturday, I couldn’t be at home all day, but believe me, my phone seemed to be bleeping up new Twitter notifications every second! All in all, I was pretty thrilled with the buzz Rachel created for my book and I would recommend her services. I even received a review!

Listed below are all the bloggers who took part in the initiative and a link to my review in an embedded tweet from the campaign.

Dash Fan’s Book Reviews – Extract

Ali – The Dragon Slayer – Promo

Literary Flits – Extract

Steph’s Book Blog – Extract

Shyla’s Uncensored Opinions 

Short Book and Scribes -Extract

Wrong Side of Forty – Promo

Donna’s Book Blog – Extract

Bound2Escape – Promo

Duvet Dwellers Books – Promo

Chelle’s Book Reviews – Q&A

MiniMac Reviews – Promo

Celtic Lady’s Reviews – Extract

My Eclectic Reads

Between The Lines – Extract

Read Along With Sue

Book Babble – Promo

Hair Past A Freckle – Extract

The Pen and Muse Book Reviews – Promo

Carole’s Book Corner – Extract

Book Junkiez – Extract

Reviews With Room By Books – Promo

Birdie’s Bibliotheca – Review

In January 2018, I will be celebrating the New Year with a 7 Day Blog Tour for Beginnings. This is another initiative from ‘Rachel’s Random Reviews’ vault which I am really looking forward to.

Blog Tour Same Face Different Place Book 1 Beginnings by Helen J Christmas

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From the Footsteps of Poldark and Beyond: Guest Blog with Sue Kittow

Today, I am thrilled to feature Cornish Writer Sue Kittow on my blog.

Author, Sue Kittow at a book signing

Welcome to my Blog, Sue, it is a pleasure to meet you! I have a particular fondness of Cornwall, especially the rugged coast. Please tell us more about your writing; when did your passion start and what books have you written?

“I’ve written ever since I could read I think, but I wrote my first novel at the age of 30. I am an author of four books on Cornish walks: Discover Cornwall, Walks in the Footsteps of Cornish Writers, Walks in the Footsteps of Poldark and I have recently finished Walks in the Footsteps of Daphne du Maurier.”

A view in CornwallThey sound fascinating, a blend of Cornish walks combined with Classic Literature. As a fellow walker myself, I am intrigued. What inspired you to choose this genre or subject?

“I started writing walks for Cornwall Today and it sort of went there – it wasn’t a conscious decision! I work in the mornings at my desk which is in the bedroom. If I’m on deadlines I write at all times of day!”

Need I ask who your favourite authors are and what is your favourite all time book?

With regards books, I don’t have one favourite, but lots that I read over and over. I particularly love A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman and A Year of Pleasures by E Berg. Both very wise, diverse and unusual. I love Mary Wesley, Daphne du Maurier, Winston Graham, Elizabeth Berg, Angela Lambert, Sarah Winman, Cole Moreton – and many more!

Good choices, especially Winston Graham. Did I mention, I am a Poldark fan? The characters are unforgettable. It must be fun researching your books, how much do you do? 

“Lots! I read all the writer has written before I start planning the books to get a feel of what their work is like.”

What about the places you feature in your books, e.g. Walks in the Footsteps of Poldark? Can you tell us of any we might recognise from the TV series?

“You’d have to read the book for that, as each walk reflects a different location – and there are too many of them to mention here!”

What about the planning? Do you work out a strict outline or just start writing?

“Given that I write walks, each chapter is a different walk, so it has to be fairly structured.”

What’s the best advice about writing you were ever given?

“Don’t give up.”

Discover Cornwall Book by Sue Kittow

I guess that is sound advice. So what other hobbies do you enjoy apart from writing?

“Walking, singing, sailing, going to the cinema, and I would love to travel more. The most beautiful place I have ever visited is Sri Lanka.”

What is your current project i.e. what are you writing now?

“I’m just starting to write a book on Rosamunde Pilcher’s Cornwall, and I’m just finishing an article on organ donation. Two very diverse pieces of work!”

Hmm, they do sound very diverse, not to mention challenging! Do you network with any other authors or attend any writers’ groups or conventions?

“Yes, I meet with other authors when I can and my next Lit Fest is at Looe in November where I’m giving a talk and singing.”

This leads me to ask, have you ever met anyone famous in the writing world?

“I’ve interviewed Lionel Shriver, Ian Rankin, Bill Bryson, Patrick Gale, Philip Marsden and many more authors but some of them were phone interviews.”

Some top names there, especially Bill Bryson who has written some really entertaining travel guides. It must be a joy to write about something you are passionate about and I envy you living in Cornwall. I will end this interview by sharing a few links to Sue’s recent works:

Latest book: Walks in the Footsteps of Poldark
http://www.sigmapress.co.uk/PBSCProduct.asp?ItmID=20378576

Walks in the Footsteps of Cornish Writers
http://www.sigmapress.co.uk/PBSCProduct.asp?ItmID=14265358

For other books and more information, visit:
http://www.suekittow.co.uk
www.flowerpotdays.blogspot.com

Lastly, a big thank you for joining me today, Sue and I wish you the very best in your future writing adventures. It will be a pleasure to revisit Cornwall again one day and when we do, we’ll definitely be following one of your ‘walks in the footsteps of Poldark!’

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