Thursday, 19 July 2012


I'm going to hand you straight over to Wendy with some great advice for aspiring authors. Thank you Wendy :)

Hi Charlotte and friends! I’m so happy to be blogging with you today to share my best advice to new and aspiring authors. For those of you who don’t know me, I write medical romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon. And this past June marked my one year anniversary as a published author. In short, after winning a Harlequin contest in March 2010, followed by six long months of revisions under the watchful eye of my current editor, I received ‘The Call’ in October 2010 and my first book, When One Night Isn’t Enough, was officially released in June 2011.

As of today I have three books published, two accepted (to be released in early 2013), and I’m working on my sixth contracted book. While that may seem productive, I’ve also spent hundreds of hours on my computer, away from my family, doing ‘author stuff’ that had nothing to do with adding words to my WIP – work in progress. So I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned in the hopes your transition to published author will be easier than mine.

  1)  A love of reading will not make you a good writer/author. You need to learn and practice and grow. After  you’ve taken some classes and studied craft guides, find a critique partner/group who will give you an honest opinion of your work and enter contests judged by published authors/agents/editors to get professional feedback.

2)      Set daily, weekly and monthly goals for yourself. They can be for word count, submissions, or contest entries. Whatever you need to keep you focused on writing. Even if you don’t have publisher dictated deadlines, this focus and discipline will help you when you become a published author.   

3)      If you’re easily distracted by the Internet (like me!), consider a program such as Freedom – Internet Blocking Productivity Software.  It works with Mac and PC. 

4)      While maintaining an online presence is important, nothing is more important than your writing. Meet your daily word count goals BEFORE you go onto the Internet. 

5)      There is no better marketing device than putting out a quality next book as soon as possible. (I say this after pushing myself to the point of burnout marketing my first book with a 35 stop blog tour.)

6)      Checking your e-mail every ten minutes will not make an e-mail appear. Your time would be better spent writing.

7)      Checking your sales rankings every hour will not increase your sales. Your time would be better spent writing. (Of note, once you have a book up for sale on Amazon you can open an Author Central account. This will enable you to get a snapshot of your sales ranking over time. It will also allow you to update and change information on your book page including uploading your covers and fixing errors. To find out more do a Google search for Amazon Author Central or Amazon UK Author Central.)

8)      Your body has limits. Eye strain, neck/back strain, and hand/wrist, forearm strain, are very real (and bothersome) conditions affecting people who spend hours a day on the computer. Make sure you have a quality ergonomic chair and maintain good posture while you are working. Get up and move around often. Work at a steady pace so you’re not put in a position where you have to work round the clock to meet a deadline.

9)      Maintain a positive online presence. An agent once told me that she’d received a submission from a very talented writer and was thinking of offering to represent her. But when she visited the writer’s blog she saw very negative posts so she passed.

10)  For published authors, don’t focus on reviews. The good ones will make you feel better than you are, the bad ones will make you question your abilities. The same goes for sales rankings. When your books are selling well it is euphoric! When sales slow – and they will – it can be depressing, ruining your creativity for the day.

11)  Maintain a system for backing up your work. Sometimes I use a flash drive. The problem with this is making sure you are always working on the most up to date copy of your work in progress. I also have an external hard drive. Except a few weeks ago my house was struck by lightning which fried my external hard drive. For reasons I cannot explain – but am very thankful for – my computer was not affected. That night, at the recommendation of other authors, I downloaded Carbonite  ( )  an online continuous backup software. I’ve also heard good things about Drop Box ( which allows you to save and share your work between your computers, but I’ve never used it.

12)   Learn that it’s okay to say no. Guest blogging and group blogging and volunteering for groups and loops are great ways to increase your online presence and meet people. But they also take time away from your writing. If you want to be a successful published author, your writing must always come first.

13)  Your time is your greatest resource. Don’t waste it!

So what do you think? Anything up there you haven’t heard before? Anything you’d like to add? One lucky commenter will win a paperback copy of my third book, The Nurse’s Not-So-Secret Scandal.

To learn more about me and my books, please visit my website:

Find Wendy Marcus on    Facebook ,Twitter , Goodreads

Friday, 13 July 2012


I am really pleased to welcome Trisha Ashley to my blog, her latest book Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues is on  the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestsellers List. Over to you Trisha :-

Trisha Ashley: Points of view in the novel.

First of all, a big thank-you to Charlotte (who I met recently for afternoon tea!) for inviting me onto her blog to talk a little bit about point of view in the novel.

I am on contemporary romantic comedy novel number twelve or thirteen  – it depends on whether you count the rewrite of an earlier novel as a new one, or not – and they are always in first-person.  I find I can slip inside the heroine’s skin so much easier that way and become someone quite different to myself by seeing things through their eyes. So I’m a shape-shifter, even if I don’t have to put myself to bed in a bucket.
       But when writing in first person, you have to remember that the main protagonist can only know what she sees, hears, or is told about – you can’t just shift to someone else’s viewpoint in a scene. This  can be challenging when you have, say, a historic parallel story to weave in, but I quite often introduce someone else’s first person viewpoint in the form of  diary entries, letters or, in the case of my latest novel, Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues, via a recorded family memoir.   And occasionally I introduce that second first person voice more directly, for example, in the sections from Fergal’s in Good Husband Material.     
      Sometimes, too, I will write a third person prologue, set back in time.  This gives me the freedom to outline a situation which will have later repercussions in the contemporary story, or  show a point in my main protagonist’s life that throws up the premise of the novel, by which I mean the main question, or questions, that must be answered, resolved or satisfied by the end of the book.
      To a first-time novelist I would say: write in third person past tense and severely limit the number of your viewpoints.  But if you must write first person, then don’t yet attempt to do it in present tense.  Sophie Kinsella makes it looks so easy, because she is an excellent and experienced author, but it’s actually terribly hard to pull off successfully, so save it for a later novel.  (It is a common fallacy that a book that’s easy to read, is also easy to write.)
         And multiple first-person viewpoint novels need a master storyteller, like Barbara Kingsolver. Her novel, The Poisonwood Bible, is a brilliant example.
      But if you must write your very first novel in first person, then do it in past tense.  Let your main protagonist find his or her own voice and tell the story for you: it will not be your story – they will not think in situations the way you would, speak as you would, or act as you would….I think that’s really what I like best about it.
    Oh, and avoid starting every single sentence with ‘I….’

Trisha’s website at has a list of her books and a special free Jubilee story.  You can also email her, write in her guestbook, or join her quarterly newsletter.

Trisha also has a giveaway today if you would like to win a  copy of Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues then please leave a blog post comment.

(The afternoon Tea Trisha mentioned at the beginning of her blog post)
Thank you so much for coming on my blog today Trisha, it has been a real pleasure.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


'How the Playboy Got Serious' is the second installment of the McKenna Trilogy,
I have got to say that I loved this book from the get go. Riley McKenna is the youngest sibling of the three brothers. He drifts from girlfriend to girlfriend and only does the minimum am amount of work he possibly can and still gets a paycheck at the end of it. Until his Grandmother who owns Mckenna Media and his employer. 
By sacking him it makes him finally stand on his own two feet. I laughed out loud where he is being told off by his grandma and he takes it without argument. Paying rent and finding his own employment which he does at the Morning Glory diner. Frank one of the owners of the Diner believes Riley to be a good person. He has a harder job convincing Stace the second owner and his love interest.
He helps Stace repair her house and Riley lets her stay at his home whilst her damaged roof is repaired. Giving him chance to get to know her better but each time either get close to the other one they both back away.
Jeremy's mother abandoned him Stace is angry that her sister has just left her soon and entrusted him into the her care. Unbeknown to Jeremy or Stace Lisa has gone into rehab to get clean so she can be a better mother to her son.
From start to finish this book was an enthralling read. I loved the hero from page one and Stace and her nephew Jeremy could both make you laugh and cry.

5 out of 5

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


I am pleased to introduce Manda Jane Ward to my blog, her debut novel 'Without saying a word' is coming out soon released by Trestle Press. Take it away Manda :)

Where are you from?
I live in Luton, Bedfordshire, but I was born in Barnehurst Kent.  I am married to Matt and we live with our three children and two mad cats.  I also have four older children from a previous marriage.  My eldest child made me a grandmother for the first time this year at the very ancient age of 40.

Tell us your latest news?
Signed my first contract with Trestle Press in June for my first novel Without Saying A Word, and awaiting a publication date.  Currently working on my second book.

When and why did you begin writing?
Been writing pretty much since I was a kid.  On a serious basis a couple of years ago.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I decided to write something that I was interested in reading.  It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I think the good guy gets a bad deal at times.  I thought it was about time that the good guy got his girl.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I do NOT write erotica, I write traditional romantic tales that are quirky with a humourous touch!

What books have most influenced your life most?
There are so many as the romance novel has changed throughout my lifetime.   I would say, Mills and Boon romances (especially the Temptation line), Forever by Judy Blume and of course Anne Of Green Gables.  Pride and Prejudice too!
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Gosh, I cannot choose, so I will say there are several including: Gina Wilkins, Marguerite Kaye, Nora Roberts, Michelle Willingham, Heidi Rice, Maisey Yates, Jessica Hart, Liz Fielding and of course the late great Betty Neels and Penny Jordan.
What book are you reading now?
At the moment I’m doing a lot of research for my current book, so I am reading off and on.  Nothing specific to be honest!

What are your current projects?
I won’t say in case it all goes wrong and I decide to bin it! It’s also a step into the unknown for me.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No.  I like my story and LOVE my hero, hope you do too!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always read.  From a child gobbling up Enid Blyton, and L M Montgomery.  It is my dream to have my name on a book, and to hear from someone that they enjoyed reading my work.  I also loved spending afternoons with my Grandmother Kitty Yates watching a musical on the television, drinking tea and eating home made cake.  The stories the musicals were based on just made want to write something to make someone smile and feel emotions.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I think the POV is really difficult.  Keeping to one persons as you write, also making sure your work is fresh and careful not to tread on toes!

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Look above at my mentors, they have taken the romance novel and really upped the ante!

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Not giving up.  I came so close to binning it several times.  I had to keep going.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I accomplished it.  Taking a break from writing is NOT wrong. Sometimes you need the break to look at the work afresh

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep going.  If you really love your story, believe in it and love your hero, then carry on.  Also keep the work fresh and new.  Use your own voice no matter how hard it is.  IT CAN BE DONE and DONT GIVE UP!!!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
If someone does like my book and buys it.  THANK YOU for helping my dream come true.  It’s a nice romance called WITHOUT SAYING A WORD by AMANDA J. WARD
Thank you Charlotte for having me.  I will let you know when Trestle Press have a publication date

Thursday, 5 July 2012


 I am pleased to welcome to my blog Amy Croall author of 'A Cure For The Condition.'

Where are you from?
I almost want to say where am I not from! I was born in Santa Maria in Central California, then moved to Temecula when I was nine. My parents stayed there for a while, then we moved to Parker, CO. I'd never seen snow before, so living in Colorado was an interesting change. But we were only there three months, then we moved out to Northern California. I've been living in the Bay Area since 1999, but it's not a permanent home, as I am a creature not of habit. 

Tell us your latest news?
Currently, I'm working on submitting a Young Adult series to agents. I've finished the first book and am in the process of writing books two and three with a fourth and fifth in the works.  

When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing just about as soon as I could read at three. My father and I would come up with little stories. He'd usually write them, then I'd draw pictures to go along with them. More recently, I decided to write full-length novels because I'd always toyed with the idea of writing professionally, but was always overwhelmed with life. Once I buckled down and got myself into the mindset, it just flowed. And now I can't stop! 

What inspired you to write your first book?
A dream. I had a dream of a young Princess thrown into governance after the murder of her mother, the Queen. Now that I think back on it, there was a handsome young stranger with silver hair in there somewhere, too! 

Do you have a specific writing style?
It honestly depends on which book I'm writing. For my adult series, the style is very much third person; speaking to the reader objectively. However, my Young Adult series is first-person, so there's more voice and personality in the writing itself. It's more than just a simple telling of story.

What books have most influenced your life most?
I eat almost everything up. A Cure for the Condition has an author quote on the back cover by Leigh Bridger, author of Soul Catcher. When I read her novel, I was so inspired by her characters that I knew I wanted to write something of my own. Among others, I also love to read Dianna Wynne Jones and Rachel Vincent.  

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would probably choose someone who's no longer living. Mary Shelley would be my first choice. She just had a knack for ideas.  

What book are you reading now?
I recently finished "Before I Wake" by Rachel Vincent, and since then, I haven't been able to find the time to start another. I've been so bogged down with work and my writing projects.  

What are your current projects?
My Young Adult series, starting with The Death of Me, is all that seems to be on my mind these days... 

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Absolutely not. A Cure for the Condition is very near and dear to my heart. Malcolm and Catherine have become a part of my life.  

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Definitely from my father and those short little stories we used to create. Sometimes I miss those days. 

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. Here's the opening to my Young Adult novel, The Death of Me:

Tires screeched across the asphalt, thumping over the curb. They ripped the well-manicured grass from its soil prison as the treads burned black trails in their wake. A huge oak sprang up in the middle of the lawn. The bumper crunched in two. Glass shattered. Glittering shine hurtled in every direction. A rogue branch punched through the windshield and pinned the passenger in her seat. Death was making its rounds in the small town of Dublin, California.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Honestly, I find that lately I have to take very good notes on where I want scenes to end up. My characters have a knack for re-writing things without my permission! 

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I really enjoyed reading The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. I can't say he's my favorite author, but that is definitely my favorite book at the moment. What really struck me about his work was that he wrote in short, disjointed sentences, and his imagery was amazing. The entire book just gave a feeling of uneasiness. 

Who has designed the cover for your novel?
The cover design for A Cure for the Condition was done by a very talented graphic artist at Whiskey Creek Press, Gemini Judson. 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finishing it. I didn't want it to be over. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned patience. Patience is a virtue. Books are never ready the first time you finish them. You need beta readers, editors, and time. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?
My only piece of advise is that aspiring authors must persevere. The only sure-fire way to never get published is to give up.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just enjoy!

“The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche

Part 1


Chapter 1
A forlorn, soft piano melody enveloped her as the book lay at an awkward angle in her lap. As her eyes remained closed, absorbing the musician’s brilliant performance, she had no idea her step-brother was watching her.

“Ah, Princess Catherine—there you are!” he said, barging into the room as he had many times over the previous two years.

Princess Catherine inhaled before his gravelly voice could release her daydreams. Sitting straight on the stiff sofa in the parlor, she placed the book next to her.

“Yes, good afternoon, Malcolm,” she replied.

Malcolm supplied her with a half-smirk and proceeded to lean against the sofa on which she sat. Princess Catherine couldn’t help but experience an ever-so-slight tingle when she peered into his crystal-blue eyes.

Although her step-brother’s nose was somewhat too large, his lips thin, and his face angular, Malcolm had a strong jaw, well-groomed silver hair, and a smile that could draw women from countries away. At times, his boyish half-smirk made it difficult for Princess Catherine to recall he was seven years her senior.

“I heard about your meeting with the suitor this afternoon, and I must say I am intrigued,” he said.

Catherine donned an immediate scowl. “Malcolm, is this going to be another instance such as when you barged into this room as I was learning that piano and tell me I am causing a ruckus, or will it be reminiscent of when I returned home wearing rouge and you mocked me endlessly?” she demanded.

Malcolm feigned ignorance, putting a hand to his heart. “Why, dear step-sister, I am saddened by your accusations! I merely wished to extend my…condolences that the meeting did not go as hoped.” He suppressed a half-hearted chuckle.

“Of course,” Catherine replied, clearing her throat. “I’ll have you know our feelings were requited. I did not much care for the man.”

“Oh? That’s not what was told to me. I was told he stifled a laugh at first sight of you, and then appeared bored and lazy the remainder of his stay,” Malcolm said, pulling on a lock of Catherine’s brown hair.

She pulled away and supplied him with a sharp stare.

“My, my, you certainly are a harbinger of rejection, aren’t you? Inquiring minds are dying to know, Princess—what’s that like?” he asked.

“I suppose you should ask the multitude of women at your feet, Malcolm; perhaps they would be a more fitting choice. Tell me, how many with whom have you been?” she demanded, attempting to quell the sting of emotion forcing its way through her middle.

Malcolm stopped for a moment and furrowed his brow. “I don’t know; I don’t count,” he replied smugly, turning his attention back to her.

“Of course not.”

“Oh, poor Catherine,” he continued. “No man will ever desire to be the Prince of a woman as plain as you. Why, your ridiculous freckles and mousy brown hair will never draw in a man of merit.”

Catherine inhaled a sharp breath and straightened her back. “How dare you! I am an educated woman, I speak three languages fluently, and I am heir to the Cannary throne!”

“Oh come now, you’re seventeen and still have yet to find a husband. How many suitors does that man make, anyway?”

At his words, Catherine stood and clenched her fists at her sides. “I will not stoop to your level of…affectionate teasing, Malcolm!”

For a moment, her step-brother said nothing, seeming to be surprised by her sudden outburst. However, after regaining his composure, he was hit with a fit of laughter so powerful he was forced to double over and clutch his belly.

“Affectionate! Oh, you are much too entertaining!” he said between chuckles.

Wanting no more of his belligerent behavior, Catherine stormed from the parlor and down the hall to the Queen’s study, the familiar twinge of despondency trying to force tears from the well behind her eyes.

“Princesses do not cry!” she told herself before knocking on her mother’s door.

Once she heard the unmistakable soft voice of her mother granting her entrance, she pushed the door open and barged into the room.

“Oh, Catherine, dear!” her mother said, a warm smile on her face. She pushed aside a pile of papers and supplied her daughter with her full attention. “I apologize about that abysmal meeting between you and Mr. Elgar this afternoon.”

“It is fine, Mother,” Catherine replied, seating herself in a plush chair across from the large maple desk at which the Queen worked. She straightened her back and folded her hands in her lap.

“You must understand that I feel you are at an age where you must find a husband.” The Queen smiled again, gentle wrinkles creasing into the skin around her eyes and mouth.

“It is no bother, Mother. However…”

Queen Victoria leaned forward, awaiting her daughter’s next words. “What is it, dear?”

“Well...there is…” she stumbled with unease.

“Ah ha!” her mother cried, standing from her desk. “I knew it! I would recognize that look anywhere!”

“Mother, please…”

“Nonsense! Why did you not tell me of this man sooner?” Queen Victoria demanded, rounding the corner and embracing her daughter.

“He does not share my feelings,” Catherine replied with a sigh. With purpose, she omitted the fact that this man was also her step-brother.

Her mother pulled away and looked deep into her daughter’s emerald eyes. “Any man who does not find you perfect is utterly mad,” she said with a smile.

Catherine returned her mother’s gesture with a strained smile of her own. “But, I am convinced he is the only man I desire, Mother.”

The Queen took a seat in the other plush chair adjacent to her large desk and sighed.

“Catherine, I’d like to tell you a story,” she began.

The Princess nodded and allowed her mother to continue.

“When I was not much younger than you, I married your father. I believed he was the handsomest man in the world. I doubted I would ever find another love such as he gave me. But…” she paused, a frown creasing into her long face, “when he died...well...I was torn, you know this.”

“Yes, but I would rather not speak of Father,” Catherine replied, her voice tight with decade-old anger.

“Of course, I understand. At any rate, when I met Malcolm’s father two years ago, my belief in love was renewed; Callum is a wonderful man. Catherine, I am sure one day you will find a man who will return all the affection and love you hold in your heart.”

* * * *
After a late supper that night, Catherine was studying her books in a small den across from the castle’s dungeon. Many of the words and phrases in the books were familiar to the Princess, and she found herself submitting to a brief chuckle at the Cannary License Act of 1872, which prohibited civilians to operate bovine while intoxicated.

Soon, as often happened on late nights when studying, she found herself intimidated by a particular clause in one of Cannary’s oldest policies. Placing a piece of parchment between the pages to mark her place, she stood from the plush sofa and made her way down the hall toward the bedroom of the Queen and Prince.

“Mother?” she called, knocking on the door.

Silence followed, so the Princess rapped again.

“Mother?” she said with more force.

When no one answered, she turned the brass door handle and peeked into the room. What she saw was unimaginable.

Blood was spattered on the painting of her great grandfather and the pink striped wall above the four-poster bed. The sheets were soaked with the sticky red substance as it dripped off of the bed skirt into a puddle on the floor. The Queen and Prince of Cannary lay motionless, bathed in the crimson fluid. Catherine stared unmoving at the scene before her in utter terror.

Her lungs froze as she tried to call for help. All her prior schooling and instincts left her as she stared at her mother and step-father’s lifeless bodies before her. She was unable to remember whom she was to call in a situation such as this. At last, when her head began to swim, she pulled in a labored breath and opened her mouth.


Her step-brother was the first person who had come to mind, and she shouted his name with all the strength left in her body.

By chance, his room was just across the hall and he emerged a moment later, raking a hand through his tousled silver hair.

“For what reason are you shouting, Catherine?” he demanded, yawning wide.

“Moth...mother…” she stuttered.

Malcolm let out a sigh and trudged across the hallway to Catherine’s side. She was vaguely aware of his presence, but couldn’t tear her gaze away from her poor mother.

After what seemed like an eternity of silence, Malcolm pushed Catherine away and pointed down the hallway.

“Go, Catherine! Go to your room! Whoever’s done this may still be here!” he shouted at her.

Startled by the force of his voice, Catherine’s composure returned, and she scampered toward the end of the long hall, followed by her step-brother’s shouts for the guards.


Monday, 2 July 2012

Sunday, 1 July 2012


I found 'One Day to Find a Husband' hard to get into initially as the hero Finn Mckenna was really hard to accept as a hero, he seemed much to business like and not very likeable.  How wrong can first impressions be, Finn turned out to be a well rounded character who had shut himself off from the world of Love due to heartbreak. Something I am sure many can relate. His business is in serious trouble and agrees to enter a marriage of convenience in order to get on board with WW CEO Ellie. She gets to adopt a child from a Chinese orphanage and Finn would get his business on track.

Without a husband Ellie can not pass the stringent adoption process, it made me wonder if my parents had to go through a similar thing when they adopted my brother then a few years later me. The marriage of inconvenience works and both get what they want. But they go back to being the people they both were at the start. Yet why is it they still feel so sad and empty without the other.

I will let you all wonder how it ends and if they get together. Some people may take to Finn straight away others may want to hit him with his briefcase, but believe me you want to give Finn a chance.

4 out of 5 stars