Guest Post by Carol Thomas

Writing within the romance genre.

Carol ThomasIt is lovely to invite Carol Thomas to my blog with her enlightening article about writing romance. I first met Carol via the author networking group CHINDI. Carol lives just up the road from me on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively young Labrador.

Carol writes for both adults and children: Her contemporary romance novels, have relatable heroines whose stories are layered with emotion, sprinkled with laughter and topped with irresistible male leads; while her children’s books have irresistibly cute, generally furry characters young children can relate to.

So what other ingredients can Carol share about romance writing?

“While all romance novels have a central relationship focused around a ‘love’ story and the expectation of a satisfying and optimistic ending how the author portrays that relationship, the journey they take their characters on and the manner in which a satisfying ending is achieved can vary greatly from novel to novel. This diversity is facilitated by the fact romance is a term encompassing many sub-genres, including, romantic thrillers, romantic suspense, historical, and contemporary romance, to name but a few.

My writing falls into the subgenre of contemporary romance; it reflects the mores of life and relationships today. As such it errs on the side of realism. As a keen people watcher, I love to collect moments and situations in my notebook. When I am writing I like to draw on these and to thread them through my fiction. I think this helps readers relate to my characters and the manner in which they deal with the situations they find themselves in.

My current work in progress, like many contemporary romance novels, contains elements of comedy. One piece I particularly enjoyed writing is based on conversations my daughter and her friends had after a sex education lesson at school. She was seven at the time, so I am sure you can imagine they had some interesting things to say on the subject. With permission I have borrowed their words and given them to the children of one of my main characters. Such classic moments are hard to make up and deserve to be shared. This is another of the things I love about writing within this genre. It enables you to share the lighter moments of life, as well as those that are more challenging, such as the theme of infidelity in my novel Crazy Over You.”

Crazy Over You by Carol ThomasWhile writing Crazy Over You I wanted to ensure I portrayed the depth of my main character’s feelings honestly. Abby’s world has been turned upside down and her fifteen-year marriage is potentially over. These are big, life changing events and I wanted to treat them as such. That is not to say that Crazy Over You is a sad story. Yes it has its moments, infidelity is not a subject you can tackle honestly without reflecting some of the impact on those concerned, but the story also contains warmth, humour and a strong sense of moving forwards. As Abby attempts to gain control of her life and make decisions about her future, it becomes clear that Crazy Over You is as much a story about friendship, family and love as it is of infidelity.

Creating and maintaining a balance between realism, romance and humour is one of the many reasons I enjoy writing within the contemporary romance genre. I hope that the journey my readers embark on will lead them to empathise with my characters as they laugh, cry and fall in love with them. Ultimately I want them to feel that they know my characters, that they could be them themselves or that they know someone like them. If my writing achieves this, then I am happy.

Crazy Over You: Love can drive you crazy… in more ways than one!

When Abby met Simon it was the start of something special, a love Abby believed would last a lifetime.

A wedding, two daughters and fifteen years later Abby’s world is falling apart. Having discovered Simon has had an affair her normally ordered mind is spiralling out of control. Crushed by the betrayal and shocked by her own reaction, she knows she needs to get herself together. She’s just not sure where to start.

With Simon on a mission to win her back and a close friend hiding a secret that could push her further over the edge, Abby finds strength and support where she least expects it. But as she attempts to gain control of her life and make decisions about her future, it may be more than the limits of Abby’s mind that are put to the test!

Watch the book trailer:

Genre: Contemporary romance
Release date: 28th October 2015
Publisher: Matador

Buy Crazy Over You:

To find out more about books by Carol Thomas:

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Adventures Into New Writing Ventures

There are currently two folders open on my desktop under ‘Writing’ right now. One is for another edit of Visions. The other is a folder for a series of short stories.


Since completing an edit for the first book in my ‘Same Face Different Place’ series, BEGINNINGS (which is currently being proofread), this left me with a burning urge to take another look at VISIONS, the second book of the series.

Book 2 Visions

Set in the 1980s, ‘Visions’ is the book I always wanted to write and contains everything I feel passionate about; historic houses, idyllic villages, simple country pleasures, traditions and a strong community. Yet in the background lurks the disturbing, unresolved mystery left in ‘Beginnings’ and a new threat about to be unravelled. One of my reviewers wrote “Despite the beauty of each scene there is always an element of danger lurking” which sums the story up very well. A more recent reviewer depicted my story as “a study of how to react to threats and violence, the nature of victimhood, and the power of fighting back.”

I am really enjoying revisiting this book with just a few tweaks, to improve it.

Short Stories

The main reason for this blog however, is to log my newer writing adventures.

This was something I always planned to do before I got distracted by other interests. It started last year when in a somewhat spooky moment, I felt as if I had been ‘touched’ by the Bronte Sisters. It happened during a trip to the Parsonage museum in Yorkshire when I was stood in the very room where Charlotte Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights. I was hit with a strange feeling, the concept of ‘short stories’ rolling around my mind like a mantra; that if I was ever to make an impression, this was a path I had to follow.

Ascending the stairs to the upper floor, I found myself dismissing the concept. When am I ever going to find time to write a book of short stories? The thought was interrupted by a sharp prick like a thorn and before I knew it, a splinter from this original oak staircase was embedded in my finger. I stared at it numbly, wondering if it was sign. Are these the “rugged thorns that shoot out their prickly arms on barren moors, or ruffle the moss on the mountain tops?”

Bronte Parsonage Museum

It sounds insane but this is genuinely what I felt and I made a promise that day. I pledged to the Bronte sisters, I would write a book of short stories and pleased to announce, I have made a start. ‘The Rosebrook Chronicles’ is a book I hope to bring out next year and the first story titled ‘Stony Crows’ is a work in progress. The stories are based on a few of the lesser known characters in my ‘Same Face’ series but they dip into a little more detail of the underlying character backstories I never made it into the series.

Two More Folders

I will end this post by saying there are two more folders on my desktop. One is for a screenplay I am working on, (having just finished a very interesting course) and the other is an outline plot for my next standalone novel, a modern day thriller based around the institute of child care and adoption… More updates coming soon.

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Guest Post: Angela Petch

A Tuscan Feast to indulge the Senses

Angela PetchIt is an absolute delight to invite fellow author, Angela Petch to feature as a guest writer. I met Angela over a year ago, during a self-publishing panel discussion with our authors’ networking group CHINDI. Her first novel ‘Tuscan Roots’ was published in 2016 and takes the reader on a wonderful journey into the Italian Appenines.

So over to you, Angela. Let’s start by asking you where you get your inspiration from?

I love talking to the elderly about their lives. In this remote corner of Eastern Tuscany where I spend six months every summer, there are still horrific reminders of World War 2 in the mountains. There were massacres in a couple of nearby villages. I feel the stories of these ordinary people should be recorded. I love the traditions too: the folklore, medical treatments handed down through generations… the landscape inspires me. The mountains, valleys, people who live here all have stories to be told. It’s the same in England – I’m nosy. I often take the bus along the sea front, a bag with notebook and pen and find a café to linger over a coffee and people watch and imagine… I speak Italian fluently so can use sources, diaries, documents here. The best source is oral, however.


This all sounds very moving and going by your photos, a beautiful part of the world too. So when did your passion for writing begin?

I’ve always been a bookworm. When I was about eight I wrote a play, made the puppets, played all the parts and invited my family to watch. I remember my father pretending to attend, but he was really reading his newspaper! English was my favourite subject at school. I only started writing in earnest, however, once my three children were beginning to fly the nest.

I started by writing short stories (which I still do) and then surprised myself by deciding to write a historical novel based on my Italian mother-in-law’s interesting life. She was a war bride and her accounts were so fascinating. Then, when we retired seven years ago, the area that we moved to for the summer is full of history about the partisans in the Second World War, that I decided to combine all these memoirs into a novel. I had more time too. I write historical fiction – based on a lot of fact. (Is there such a term as historical faction? That would better suit my genre).

In fact, if I were to describe my writing in 10 words, I would say: Factual, romantic, historical fiction recording poignant memories.

When and where do you prefer to do your writing?

I tend to write in the afternoon after I’ve done jobs in the morning. In Italy I have a space at the top of our converted stable and in Sussex, I share a study with my husband. Sometimes I will write outside but I need to be on my own.

I have to ask, but are your characters based on real people or people you know?

Some of them are – but I have a very vivid imagination too. They do say that it isn’t wise to be friends with an author – you might find yourselves appearing in a story! Inadvertently I upset my husband when I started writing short stories. I had invented a murderer who was a quantity surveyor (as was he) and I remember him throwing down the story and being convinced I had cast him as the villain. We had quite an argument… I suppose we draw details from real life too. I hadn’t meant to upset him and it was a lesson for me to be careful and respectful. I would never use anybody’s memories without asking permission first.

How funny! And you’re right I have heard the expression ‘don’t upset an author or they may just kill you in your next novel.’ Humour aside, do have any favourite authors?

Oh what a difficult question! I’ve had many… I think it depends on where you are at that moment in your life who you prefer; what suits your mood. I read a lot – and a wide range of authors. I like Jill Mansell, Julia Gregson, Jo Jo Moyes, Amanda Hodgkinson, Nicci French… I don’t think I have A favourite author and I found this difficult to answer… I’m reading a book by Rosanna Ley and I’m enjoying her and will probably look up her other books. But in a couple of months’ time, who knows?

What is your all time favourite book and why?

At the moment, “All the light we cannot see” by Anthony Doerr. What a masterpiece. It is absolutely beautiful and if I could show one tenth of his skill in my writing, I would be ecstatic. It took him ten years to write and it is not a book you can “eat” in one sitting. Each page is a work of art. It also deals with a subject I have often wondered about. The Second World War in his book is largely seen through the experiences of two young children. The boy becomes a member of the Hitlerjugend – mainly because it will keep him from starving. He is an orphan. I often wonder how I would have reacted to propaganda during a war. Would I been able to see through it? Would I have protested or would I have been too much of a coward? My own mother-in-law was a teenager in the war in Italy and every Saturday, she donned her Fascist uniform and went off to march around the main square with all the other youngsters of her age. It was what you did, she said. I would recommend this book to everybody. Thought provoking. Beautiful! I like a book that makes me think.

Angela Petch

It sounds as if your writing is greatly influenced by stories set in wartime. So how did you research your own novel?

For my Tuscan novels, maybe too much. But I want to know so many details that I can live like my characters in that world I am describing. I have lever arch files filled with details that didn’t all make it into my stories. I think we have to be careful too, if we are writing fiction, not to pull the narrative out of shape with too many facts. I find it hard to stop.

I like authors who write through the hearts of the characters. With this in mind, who would you like to see playing the lead character in your book and why?

For my first novel, “Tuscan Roots”, I would love to be able to turn the clocks back and cast my beautiful 91 year old mother-in-law, Giuseppina, as Ines. She would be perfect. Am I allowed that fantasy? She would just “get it”. I based a lot of her own story on Ines, so the director would not have to explain too many things. And, although she’s lived in England for over 70 years, she still has a strong Italian accent. Perfect!

For the second novel, “Now and Then in Tuscany”, I would definitely cast Aidan Turner. He is so watchable and a good actor too. (Trying not to dwell on the drop dead gorgeous aspect). He is dark too – could pass for an Italian. And there are one or two romantic scenes I could see him in. Oh, stop it… you’ve got me going now!

Good choice! Mmmm… don’t get me started on Aidan Turner. I seem to be wandering off track a little, so onto the next question and fast. Do you work out a strict plot or just start writing?

I’m a bit of a butterfly in most things so I don’t follow a strict plot. I have a notion but if it deviates, then I tend to follow. I always have to do loads of editing and cutting out afterwards, but I like to let my thoughts fly onto the paper, without worrying too much in the initial stages.

Interesting. In that case, what’s the best advice about writing you were ever given?

“Just write”. I have that written on a river stone on my desk. Get on with it. Get something down on paper/screen. Prune it after, by all means, but have something to prune and edit. There should be no such thing as writer’s block. Harsh, maybe.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

Are we talking about writing? I don’t think there’s much point in having regrets in life…best to go forward. As regards the writing, I think I would have approached agents. I didn’t have the confidence in myself but, after winning one or two competitions, I’ve begun to flutter my wings a little…

Lastly, I must ask, what are your future plans for writing?

My two books have been taken on by Endeavour Press and I am very proud about that. They will be reissued mid-November onwards. At the moment I am trying to engage more with social media to increase publicity and widen my readership. I’m also half way through a completely different project. I’m writing a novella which I hope will come over as gently humorous. Ten years ago I lost my best friend to cancer. We used to go out together and called each other Mavis and Dot. When she was very ill, I wrote her some short stories based on the imagined escapades of these two ladies. She loved them. I’m developing their antics into “The adventures of Mavis and Dot”. In the back of my mind (but often jumping forwards) is an idea for a third Tuscan novel. It will feature the stories of migrants and other characters who left this area where we live in Italy. Lots of research and thinking to be done.

Congratulations on being taken on by Endeavour Press, that is wonderful News! Your novella sounds wonderful and what a lovely accolade to your friend. I have read Tuscan Roots and thought it was a beautiful, moving story that really stirred my feelings. So I will finish this post by adding a link to your books:

Tuscan Roots –
Now and Then in Tuscany –

And finally, a little about Angela

Family are all important. I’ve been happily married to Maurice for forty years… can’t believe it. He’s half Italian and we met in Sicily where we were both employed in the construction industry. I have a degree in Italian and lived in Rome from the ages of seven to fourteen, so Italy features highly in my life. I met Maurice in my early twenties when I’d escaped from a stupid boyfriend and when we were introduced, I told Maurice I’d given up with men. He found that vaguely insulting, understandably… We are lucky to have a son and two daughters and four little grandchildren. We’ve lived and worked in Tanzania, Holland, Italy and I was born in Germany. I’d find it nigh on impossible to survive without books. I read all sorts and, surprise, surprise, I love to write. My handbags always have pens and notebooks inside, rather than lipstick and perfume. I love watching and playing tennis competitively but at the moment I’m nursing a shoulder injury so, instead, I walk up mountains. Hard life, eh? Cooking, eating, red wine. What else? My rather wobbly Christian faith is also important to the real me.

Social media links:

Twitter: @Angela_Petch


Author Facebook:

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The Wonderful New World of Screen-writing

I’m following an online course in screen-writing at the moment, to gain a deeper understanding in the world of film.

The latest exercise is to develop character outlines. So in the context of ‘Beginnings’ allow me to introduce Jake Jansen.

Helen Christmas writes about one of her main protagonists Jake Jansen. Jake, 23, is from Holland. 
He is a talented musician with his own band and plays at music festivals. 
He is hired for a special gig.

Jake on stage

Major actions:
He plays a concert at the birthday party of a prominent labour MP and witnesses two suspicious characters on the day of a car bomb. When interviewed by the police he truthfully relays what he saw but is abducted and stashed in a basement cell. After being rescued, he finds a house to hide.
He falls in love with Eleanor.
He escapes an ambush at Waterloo Station, heads for Toynbee Hall, accepts a refuge in Bethnal Green.
He knows he is on someones’s wanted list. Tries to figure out why. He dare not phone home for fear of his enemies tracing him.
He sits down in the town centre and does some busking but is fitted up with drugs.
He hides Eleanor under the floorboards to protect her and their unborn baby.
Jake accepts his lot in life, ready to face his destiny.

Wants and needs:
Jake wants to escape his captors and go home. By the time he and Eleanor escape, he decides that their only choice is to hide. He also wants to protect Eleanor; to marry her and spend the rest of his life with her. His major want AND need is to survive.

Basic psychology:
Cautious. Unwilling to take unnecessary risks. Jake is intelligent. He is not impulsive, just strives to do what is best for everyone but with an underlying craving for justice. He is a talented musician, a good singer, plays the guitar, is creative and writes songs; a dedicated friend with huge ambitious for his rock band. Jake is loving, courageous and kind.

Superficial affect:
He seems to care as much for others as he does for himself. Eleanor senses a gentle nature and a pure heart. Why anyone would want to kill him is a mystery. He comes across as polite and respectable.

Jake's beautiful green eyes

One of Jake’s features is his mysterious green eyes

Physical characteristics:
Slender build, a chiselled face, he possesses a certain beauty; his complexion pale, his green eyes sharp and alert. There is something slightly hippie-like about the way he dresses; dark, auburn hair, worn long in a ponytail.

To his enemies he has a look of vulnerability, something which appeals to their sense of power. He looks like an easy target.

COURSE INSTRUCTIONS: This is just an outline, so stick to that format and make lists; avoid long prose descriptions.
Something to share on the padlet board.
This has been an amazing insight into screenwriting and I am really enjoying the  course.

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Back to the Beginning

What Next?

Reaching the end of a long-running series feels strange but at the same time, therapeutic as if an enormous burden had been lifted. All the story lines I had planned from the beginning finally found their way into the story where each character had their own unique ending. The Kindle version went live Amazon in August and by the end of the month, my paperbacks too had arrived just in time for Arundel Festival.

Montage of Book Covers from the Same Face Different Place series

The final books of the series have gone down well and received some favourable reviews, starting with this most enthusiastic review from a Facebook Group!

Wow wow wow what a fantastic read…had me gripped from the start… this 5 set series is an absolute must buy…congratulations helen christmas this is your best yet

Delighted to embrace such praise keeps me motivated; but with time to fill (and not quite ready to start my next writing adventure), there is something I have been planning to do for a while now…

Re-visiting Book 1: Beginnings

Book cover for Same Face Different Place Book 1 Beginnings by Helen J ChristmasThe Same Face Different Place ‘Beginnings’ was written in 2011 and published in 2012. The story underwent further edits in 2015 but since finishing the series, my writing style improved considerably. Much of this was thanks to my friends who pointed out a few flaws in my writing. I was able to fix these issues for the 4th and 5th Books (Retribution) but it left me wondering if I should re-visit the 1st books again.

In many ways, it was really enjoyable looking back and while the story hasn’t changed in any way, another edit gave me a chance to improve the writing style, the descriptions and the characters. At the same time it put me right back in the zone; set in the 1970s, Beginnings is a very dark story, where the inherent fear and danger facing the main two characters reminded me of the most important selling points of this novel.

Link to PinterestRelive 197os London on my Pinterest Board

Arundel Festival

In actual fact the timing couldn’t be better. Feeling very much immersed in the setting of ‘Beginnings’ paid off, especially at Arundel Festival. I had more impetus to promote my book and actually felt quite passionate about it when I was describing it to people. As a result of my renewed enthusiasm, I made more sales than ever before.

With experience came confidence.

Our CHINDI Fundraising Book Stall at Arundel Festival.

I will also say, I thoroughly enjoyed managing the book stall with some of my fellow CHINDI authors. Our goal was to promote ourselves as local authors, sell each others books as well as our own, and make as much money for Cancer Research UK as possible. We were rewarded with beautiful sunny weather during the August Bank Holiday, a lovely Festival atmosphere and best of all we manage to raise nearly £500 for charity.

On to Book Promotion

In addition to my the edit of ‘Beginnings,’ I’ve been looking at ways of raising awareness and focussing on marketing. In early September I finally succeeded in getting 50 reviews for ‘Beginnings.’ This is a significant bench mark with Amazon and I do believe, it will give the book more credibility as a saleable product. Thus, it is even more important to knock the book into shape and turn it into as polished a product as possible.

By the end of September, I hope to have the novel proof-read too and publish a 2nd edition. My next dream will be to obtain 1 or 2 editorial reviews; something I can promote through my social networking feeds…

I thought my work was done but a writers’ work is never really done. You think you’ve reached the end but there is always room for improvement, so it’s onwards and upwards.

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From Thriller Writing to Growing and Cooking our own Veg

Home grown produce

Okay, so this is a little ‘off the wall’ from my usual blog BUT to deviate from writing for a change, we find ourselves at this ‘time of year’ when our vegetable patch is exploding with courgettes. So I am trying to figure out ways of using them all. From our three main plants, we seem to have more than ever this year. Picking them as we see them, we try to make the most of our crop. Yet despite our most hawk-eyed scrutiny, somewhere among those prickly leaves, there are always one or two devious subjects who manage to escape the radar, resulting in bulging appendages of marrow-sized proportions!

So what to do with the glut?

So far this year, I’ve donated nearly all the ‘marrows’ to one of our lovely neighbours to make chutney – that is apart from one. With a tough outer shell as hard as rock, it is lurking on top of our barbecue rack. I actually thought it would be useful as a club to ward off opportunist burglars…

The next category of giants are still quite young with a softer, smoother skin and an appetising yellow/green mottling. These are fine for cooking if you scoop the seeds out and great for stuffing, either with a rich tomato and herb, bolognese mince – or for vegetarians, a wholesome mushroom and nut mixture.

I have also made three cauldrons of ratatouille, which went down very well with friends and neighbours when we invited them over for an alfresco dinner party in July. It freezes well too; handy for quickie pasta recipes or a vegetable accompaniment to enjoy with sausages or fish.

So having exhausted these two applications, it is time to get creative.

The cream of the crop

At the end of August, we are still inundated with fruits but the plants are gradually fading. Within a few more weeks, our bountiful crop will be finished so I will conclude this article by describing some of the innovative recipes I discovered on Pinterest (along with one of my own.)

On my Recipes Board, I have pinned two recipes for courgetti and feta fritters. My sister served these on my husband’s birthday. Lighter than air, these delicate and delicious morsels are a joy to bit into; best served with a creamy yoghurt and mint dip, bursting with notes of garlic and lemon juice. Nice! I’m yearning for the recipe now, which she more or less made up apparently; a combination of two, inspired by Jamie and Nigella.

I also found a recipe for courgette, roasted pepper and parmesan muffins which sounds so good, it is worth buying a lump of feta cheese. Half will go in the fritters (which I plan to make this week) and then other half will be sufficient to try the muffins too. Bon appetite!

Last of all, is a recipe I invented myself which I would love to share. My husband bought me a spiralizer for my birthday and I’ve been thinking of ways to use it. I was thrilled by my first attempt at making spicy potato rostis and with an abundance of tender young courgettes at my disposal, I was inspired to try something else…

Crispy Courgetti and Parmesan Rostis

Deliciously succulent and light, these rostis make nice accompaniments to a main meal. I use this recipe to serve 2 but the quantities can be adjusted according the ingredients. This goes really well alongside other vegetables such as steamed carrots and leeks, peas and sweetcorn. The first time I created these, we ate them with herby chicken fillets and a baked potato. They have a cheesy, garliccy flavour which balances well with the more subtle flavour of the courgettes; use young ones if you can get them, the fresher the better.


2 medium courgettes spiralized or thickly grated
1 fat clove of garlic finely chopped
1 escallion shallot finely chopped
2 tsp light olive oil
2 tsp dried herbs (I use herbs Provence)
A grind of Course sea salt (to your taste)
40g finely grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C, 400 degrees F, Gas mark 6.

Use a clean tea towel or kitchen roll to squeeze as much water out of the courgettes as possible. A mixture too wet will result in soggy rostis as opposed to crispy ones.

spiralized courgettes

Place in a bowl and spoon in the oil, garlic, shallot, sea salt and herbs, stirring to mix well. Sprinkle in HALF the Parmesan cheese and fold into the courgettes to give a slightly sticky mix.

Courgette rosti mix

Spoon into a cake tin or better still, 4 small batter tins. Bake in the oven on the top shelf for 20 minutes, turning half way through cooking.

Courgette rostis

Sprinkle remaining cheeses evenly over the rostis and finish under a hot grill to crisp up. Carefully slide each rosti onto a warm plate and enjoy!

Crispy Courgetti and Parmesan Rostis

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Reaching the End of an Epic Thriller Series

Where have the last six years gone?

Yes, this just about sums up the enormous chunk in my life I dedicated to writing a decade spanning romantic British thriller series, titled ‘Same Face Different Place’ BUT I have to say, it’s been worth it! Since writing my last ‘book related’ post “Retribution to the End” in May 2017 I am pleased to announce, I’ve finally reached the end of this entire series – a thriller mystery which rolls over four iconic decades from 1972 – 2012. The 4th book ended up far larger than I planned but with so many characters and sub-plots, it turned out to be little like ‘Game of Thrones’ where every one of those characters had a storyline.

Retribution – Phase 1

The first part of Book 4 (Retribution – Phase 1) ran from 1991 to 1994 with a massive cast of characters. You can get an update of who is who from 2 of my previous posts, Who are the Good Characters and Who are the Bad Characters, published before the novel went live on Amazon. Reception to the book has been 100% positive with some glowing reviews such as this one:

“Wow again Helen! The ongoing story of Eleanor and her family gradually coming to a brilliant climax…..The writing and the different characters are superb. Just cannot wait for the last book in the series. Highly Recommended.”

Retribution – End Game

The final part of Book 4 (Retribution – End Game) was a work in progress but underwent a bit of evolution when I decided to change the cover. Going back to the previous post “Retribution to the End” I designed a cover and published an un-edited version on Amazon (for pre-order), just before my weekend in London on May Bank Holiday. Looking back, I was beginning to doubt whether it was the best image…

Looking at the thumbnail view on Amazon, I liked it less and less. The woman looked grey and insipid. There was something very negative about it which I was afraid would put people off so I sought the opinion of others. After finding an alternative ‘female’ image on Thinkstock, I posted this on several Facebook groups (alongside the original) and asked people if they thought it worked better. People were strikingly honest, which prompted me to change it for this more colourful, striking image and one which depicts a gutsy, ‘kick-ass’ female. You can judge for yourself from the resulting NEW cover below.

Front Cover design for Same Face Different Place RETRIBUTION End Game.

Before and After Cover Design Images

Creating the Paperback

I am pleased to say, the final edited version of Retribution End Game was published on Amazon on July 31st and the title can be downloaded via this link. I have also been working on the paperback. I always use CreateSpace as I find their interior and cover templates very easy to use. Once downloaded, I tend to copy and paste my book content from an original master file (the same one I use for Kindle), select a nice typeface such as Garamond, add the contents page and VOILA!

Once saved, it is simply a matter saving the book as a PDF and uploading it to CreateSpace then create a print-ready version of the cover. This needs to be high resolution (at least 300 dpi) and as soon as you know the page count of the book, there are templates to download to create a cover. Once submitted and approved, I recommend ordering a proof copy. You never know what your final published book looks and feels like until you hold it in your hands and leaf through it manually, just to check that everything’s perfect.

Arundel Festival

Following on from this stage, I am hoping to have copies of my brand new paperback in time for Arundel Festival. Hooking up with local authors is a great way to market self-published books which is the reason I joined CHINDI (Celebrating and Helping Indie Authors). Together, we are running a book stall in association with the Cancer Research UK Charity Shop in Arundel to raise funds for this worthy cause.

CHINDI authors Facebook header

About the Series

So why should you read my series? Well, if you like crime and psychological thrillers with a bit of romantic suspense thrown in, then this series is for you! Set in the dark criminal underworld of London, the series kicks off in 1972, with ‘Beginnings.’ It is a murder mystery which slowly unravels over time. The next story ‘Visions’ has a more rural setting and based in the 80s. After that, Book 3 ‘Pleasures’ creeps into the 90s, a decade characterised by designer drugs and rave culture. Organised crime continues to be a common theme throughout the series and by the time I started writing ‘Retribution’ the bad characters (including London gangsters) definitely took centre stage.

New Facebook header for Same Face Different Place

Filled with the nostalgia of the 70s, 80s and 90s, I have created a Pinterest Board which provides a visual and cultural background for each book. For more information you might like to visit my boards, all of which can be viewed from my Pinterest Page.

Before I go…

Finishing my series has been a great achievement but an emotional journey too. I created a varied cast of characters, many of whom became very real to me. I decided to close the series with an Epilogue based in 2012 for two reasons. 2012 was an iconic year in Britain because we celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and it was also the year of the London Olympics. Who could forget that? One of the children of the series is even a torch bearer in the Olympic relay. I have loved all my characters and it’s been very sad to say goodbye to them; but unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

So what do others think about writing a series?

Given that this is likely to swallow up several years of your life, is it a good idea to embark on a series? Once started, you will be committed to finishing it so I’d be interested to hear what others think. Thanks for reading!

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