The Heirloom – a treasured inheritance

heirloom twitterBooks, I am learning, have a life of their own. Long after the story has left my pen, I watch it dip and rise on the tides. It amazes me – the power of a book to go on its own journey, as if the author is but a distant spot on the horizon.

Such has been the experience with my debut novel, The Heirloom (which is conveniently 99p at the moment on Kindle!) When I first published this timeslip story, I just couldn’t get any traction with it. I was a first-time, self-publishing author and no-one knew I even existed. I hadn’t a clue how to reach readers or where to promote my book.

Fast forward a few years and The Heirloom has now become my most popular selling title! I cannot tell you how happy it makes me, to know that people are not only discovering this story, but really enjoying it!

I spent waaaaay too long researching this novel, but judging from the reviews, it seems to have paid off. It all started when two completely different ideas collided. I love history and was interested in the Spanish Armada ships that crashed into Irish shores during one of the worst storms in history. Miraculously, a letter from one of the knights who survived, has outlived its author and gives a harrowing account of his time in Ireland. In Galway (where the book is set) there is still a monument to the 300 Spanish sailors who were massacred by the English on Fort Hill cemetery. Through the kindness of strangers, Captain Francisco de Cuéllar was given shelter and managed to return home to Spain (after many adventures!) Here is a trailer for a short film based on his time here, which is kind of amazing because I like to pretend this is a trailer for my book!

Armada 1588 : Shipwreck & Survival (Film Trailer – English) from Omedia on Vimeo.

But of course, that’s not the end of my story. Given my love for timeslip novels (it began with Kate Mosse, blame her!) I wanted to write the story in a format that brought the reader into the present day. I feel so strong that our past is the answer to all of the mysteries we face in our lives and I love exploring those links in fiction. So, when I discovered a book called Many Lives, Many Masters written by the American psychotherapist, Dr. Brian Weiss, I knew I’d found my key.¬† It tells how one of his patients began recalling past-life traumas and through the use of therapy and hypnosis, they resolved to cure her recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks.

Well, I’ve always had an over-active imagination and the idea of remembering past lives really intrigued me. I wonder where I lived, or who I was, in previous lives? Books like Cloud Atlas ignite my passion for this idea and the beauty of it is, no-one can really say for sure whether or not it’s possible… In more recent times, there have been increasing studies into inherited trauma and whether transgenerational inheritance can really affect a person’s biology. But that’s for another story.

For now, I’m just delighted to see my story about past and present lives colliding on the wild shores of the west coast of Ireland finally charting a steady course to a whole new readership. These reader reviews have made my heart soar and reminded me that stories can go on forever and heirlooms are made to be passed on.

“I loved this book! Following the history of Miguel and Annora was fascinating.”

“It almost seemed like two books in one, which is great for avid readers. Skillfully the author links the life stories of four well-developed characters across centuries.”

“Once I started this book I found it difficult to put down. I like the way it slips easily from modern Ireland to the time of the Spanish Armada.”

“A beautiful story of love, loss and courage . This beautiful story wraps history and a great love into one. Good read!”

“Anyone who likes a mystery that takes you to another country plus searching for family tree i could not put this down. 3 o’clock in the morning is not a good time to go to sleep!! loved it.”

The Story Behind The Story

What started out as a hypnotherapy session with the ‘dreadlocks guy’ from the local five-a-side football team, quickly turned into so much more…

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It’s not your typical ‘meet cute’, but this is how my debut novel, The Heirloom, starts out.¬† Set in my hometown of Galway, it follows the story of Amanda, a young woman whose cynical outlook on life has her stuck in a job she is neither qualified for nor interested in and in a relationship which is entirely conducted in hotel rooms.¬† With a married man.¬† With two kids.

Xavier, an unemployed philologist (yes, philologist), finds himself literally drifting on the ocean as an impromptu member of a global yacht race.  Destiny brings him ashore on the West Coast of Ireland and straight into the path of Amanda, whose dreams of drowning are becoming unnervingly real.

What ensues is a story of contemporary love, historical mysteries and the struggle to find one’s true path in life.

The Heirloom opens with lines from a poem by Lucian Blaga:-

They say that ancestors, dead before their time,
with young blood still in their veins,
with great passion in their blood,
with the sun still burning in their blood
come,
come to continue to live
within us
their unfinished lives.

These lines hold the seed of the entire novel… is it possible that we carry within us, a soul from another time?¬† I’ve often wondered why I have such an affinity with things or places, even languages I’ve never spoken.¬† Where does that desire come from?¬† Or that feeling of arriving home when you visit a place you’ve never been?¬† Are we holding onto fears and maybe even love, from another life?¬† And what if those memories could be accessed through a talisman, or an heirloom…

I loved telling this story.  Juxtaposing the historical aspects alongside a contemporary narrative was a challenge I relished and I loved exploring the idea of finding tangible connections with the past.  If you like authors like Kate Mosse, Rachel Hore, Diana Gabaldon or Kate Morton, with a healthy portion of Irish wit thrown in, this book is for you!

I feel so fortunate that this book is having something of a second wind in the Amazon charts and just goes to show, people can discover your book at any time.  The Heirloom might just achieve immortality yet!

Click below for a free preview…

 

heirloom reviews

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The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris

Most Recent Customer Reviews

A wonderful novel about the books heroine Edith and her life changing adventure set in magical Compiègne . Read more

Published 5 months ago by John O’Malley

I finished this in two sittings. I enjoyed it, it is a nice gentle read but without the typical romance of many of the genre. Read more

Published 9 months ago by Lorna Sixsmith

Wonderful heartwarming story. It has been described as chiclit but I think it a great read for men too. Read more

Summer read must gives a lovely warm cosy feeling, just finished it highly recommend intelligent chick lit download now and support indie writers, I’m glad I did :).

Published 18 months ago by Lorna Dooley

A lovely, engaging read with some surprising twists. I’ve never been to Paris but the author really evoked a feel for the city with all its wonderful sights, smells and tastes. Read more

Published 18 months ago by Heather Hill

I chose this rating because this is a great book. Interesting, entertaining, engaging with a little bit of romance and magic thrown in and all from a very fine writer. Read more

The Cross Of Santiago

Most Recent Customer Reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I enjoy books that combine a modern story with.one that takes place in the past.

Really enjoyed. Kept my interest.

Published 7 months ago by Martha Smith

The best thing about this love story, is that it doesn’t start off as a love story. Read more

This book had a lot of mystery. I was adopted and so I can relate to Amanda as a character. She wants to know about her past, about her birth family, and her family’s history. I have been there and so this book was a good read for me because I could REALLY relate to her. I think books that the reader can relate too are the best kind. They help you feel that the story is more REAL, rather than it just being a story that is being read.

Published on December 14, 2013 by Amazon Customer

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.
The Cross of Santiago belongs in several different genres which makes it interesting. 

The Morning After The Night Before

It’s official – book number two is launched! ¬†And I’m happy to report that the feedback has been wonderfully positive. ¬†It’s always a tense time, just after you release a book, and people are finally reading all those words you’ve knitted so carefully together. ¬†You hope and pray that you’ve managed to be entertaining, interesting and unique, both in style and subject matter. ¬†But the proof of the pudding is in the eating….. hang on, I’m totally mixing up my metaphors – knitting and baking?! ¬†That’s what a book launch will do to you. ¬†Anyway, the point is that writing a book is only the beginning. ¬†As much as I would love to sit back in a leather, wing-backed chair and give myself a congratulatory pat on the back for a job well done, maybe even smoke a cigar and wave a tumbler of brandy under my nose,¬†the reality is, I’ve got to promote my tushie off! ¬†My book might have made it onto the Kindle Store Best Seller List, but there are zillions of people out there who have no idea it exists and I have to spend every waking hour trying to figure out how to reach them. ¬†Rather, I have to figure out how to reach them, without being lost among the swathes of other authors trying to reach the same people.

So here’s the part where you come in. ¬†“What, Me?” ¬†I hear you say. ¬†Well you didn’t think you were just a sleeping partner in this blog post did you? ¬†If you have been wonderful enough to download a copy of ‘The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris’, then let me just tell you right now that you have invested in my future as a writer. ¬†It’s a common fact, that every time someone downloads a self-published book on Kindle, an Indie Author gets their wings. ¬†Okay, maybe that part isn’t entirely true, but the first bit is. ¬†Writers just want to write, but the validation of a reader really gives you conviction to keep writing. ¬†This is a tough industry in a major state of flux, so more than ever, readers are calling the shots. ¬†And rightfully so. ¬†I’m going off on a bit of a tangent, but my point is this: ¬†If you download a book by an Indie author and you enjoy it, please share your thoughts with your friends and most importantly (if you can) leave a review. ¬†Reviews are always a great help to people when they’re trying to make their mind up on a purchase, but especially when it comes to self-published books. ¬†We are unknown authors with no marketing team behind us, so basically our readers are our marketing team. ¬†Which is actually brilliant, because they have no vested interest in encouraging others to buy your book. ¬†Readers just want a good book, no matter who published it. ¬†So, if you can, please do write a review, short or long, scant or plentiful, it doesn’t matter. ¬†Just a few words to say what you thought of the book can really make a huge difference to an author’s career. ¬†Seriously. ¬†Even if it’s not a glowing five stars, a book can have its flaws, but still be an enjoyable read. ¬†I’d be happy to recommend books I’ve given three stars to, because they were worth the journey. ¬†

Now, seeing as I’ve got my sales hat on, I had better provide you with the links (smooth, no?) ¬†And remember, if you have a subscription with Amazon Prime, you can borrow my book for free!

Amazon UK £1.83

Amazon US  $2.99

Amazon Best Seller!

So I woke up this morning to find that I’m currently ranked at number 16 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List for Women’s Historical Fiction! ¬†I can’t honestly express how exciting that is – after months of scribbling away by myself, then proof reading, editing, re-drafting and finally designing a cover and booking my release date and promotional tour… it’s just amazing. ¬†In fact, I’m on top of the world!

 

 

Last night I took a screen shot of my ranking on Amazon, thinking it just couldn’t get any better, but then…

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This morning I saw this!! ¬†I’m just behind Barbara Erskine! ¬†Kate Morton is number 1 and I’m 16 – it’s a dream ūüôā ¬†So I want to say a heart-felt thank you to my readers and to all of my supporters (you know who you are). ¬†Launching a book is challenging at the best of times, but when you have a team of enthusiastic people behind you, who believe in you and your writing, it makes it all worth while. ¬†So now it’s time to start thinking about book number three!

Amazon 16 screenshotGet your copy of The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris on Amazon now, or share the link with your bookworm buddies.

The Mysterious Bakery On Rue de Paris

 

The Reviews Are In!

I was so excited to read the first reviews of my new novel, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris, that I thought I’d share them with you all here ūüôā ¬†You can still get your copy here for $0.99! ¬†

 

In a departure from her historical fiction roots, Evie Gaughan has taken on the paranormal world and made the hairs stand on the back of my neck! This book is full of echoes from the past, but is set in modern-day France… ¬†I would totally recommend this book to lovers of mystery, magic and of course, l‚Äôamour. ¬†4 stars

 

I don‚Äôt want to give too much of the story away, but there‚Äôs a reason why the bakery is named ‚Äėmysterious‚Äô in the title of the book. I totally did not see this aspect of the story coming and I thoroughly enjoyed the uniqueness of it and how Evie Gaughan managed to use this element to really turn her story into something special. Next to that, her writing style is warm, well-paced and just really comfortable to read. I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to picking up Evie Gaughan‚Äôs other book, ‚ÄėThe Cross of Santiago.‚Äô ‚ÄėThe Mysterious Bakery on Rue De Paris‚Äô is an engaging, warm-hearted and thoroughly enjoyable novel which I can definitely recommend to readers who are looking for chick lit with a twist; you‚Äôll adore this! ¬†4 stars

 

The description in the blurb is right… ¬†it‚Äôs magical. The way Evie describes the scenes and the story has a real spark. I really liked it. ¬†3.5 stars

You can find the full reviews on Goodreads.

The Wait Is Over!

 

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Today is the day! ¬†I’m celebrating the official release of my new novel, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris¬† I am so excited to launch my second book. ¬†This is a very big day for me as an author, and so to celebrate with all of my loyal readers, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris is available on Amazon¬†today at the very special promotional price of $0.99! ¬†So pick up your copy now ūüôā

This is the magical tale of Edith Lane, who sets off to find her fortune in the beautiful city of Paris.  Fortune, however, is a fickle thing and Edith ends up working in a vintage bakery in the positively antique town of Compiègne.  Escaping heartache and singledom in Ireland, Edith discovers that the bakery on Rue De Paris is not exactly what it seems and that some ghosts from the past are harder to escape than others.  A heart-warming story that is sure to appeal to all of the senses, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris is a mouth-watering journey of love, liberty and la vie en rose.

Hope you all enjoy reading this quirky little story about a woman who set out on a journey to Paris, but found so much more…

Indie Author Spotlight (Part Three)

As part of my series featuring inspiring Indie Authors, I’m delighted to welcome the very talented Michelle Muckley to my blog. ¬†She has proven, after self-publishing three novels with another one on the way, how authors can build their own writing career from scratch – with no small amount of commitment, passion and downright perseverance! ¬†Here she is to discuss her writing journey and a few things she learned about self-publishing and herself along the way.

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When I first started writing I’m not sure I ever had the intention to publish a book. Perhaps there was a little bit of hope that one day it might happen, but I didn’t start with the intention of being the next J.K. (Rowling, not the dude from Jamiroquai with the dodgy hats). But the more I wrote, and the more that my work started to resemble a book, the more my goals started to shift. They changed from a desire to try to write a book, to the idea that I could finish it. And if I could finish it, then why couldn’t I publish it? So once I reached the stage that I had a ‘finished’ book, I packaged up my three chapter samples and made them look as fancy and as writerly as I could. I then wrote to a small army of agents, each of which wrote back to me rejecting my work. I was disappointed, and reluctant to acknowledge that my work wasn’t up to scratch. So instead I tucked it away in a cupboard and forgot about it for eight months. In the meantime I moved to Cyprus, got made redundant, and started to remember there was at one point, something more that I wanted from life.

So I got the manuscript back out, recoiled at the mistakes, and realised that I takes a lot more than writing ‘The End’ to call a piece of work finished. So I knuckled down and worked hard until it really was finished. I now had a manuscript, polished and gleaming, and absolutely no clue what to do with it. Start querying agents again? From Cyprus? I was convinced that not only would that be hard, but most likely impossible. But then I came across an article singing the praises of self publishing. Not vanity press, it reassured me. Something else, where you keep all the control of your work and publish to Kindle yourself. Now for a control freak like me, there was an obvious appeal. Reading that article
was day one. From there I set out to self publish, and in July 2012 released my first book, The Loss of Deference. Since then I have released two more, have another full length novel at the editors, and a five book series of novellas set to be released by the end of the year.

So you might think I have learnt something in the last two years, and I guess in some ways I have, about both the publishing world, and myself. With regards to myself, I am impatient, a workaholic, classic Type-A personality who suffers from a tendency to procrastinate. About the traditional publishing world? It’s a tough place to break into, expects a lot back from you, and doesn’t always deliver on its promises. But what did I learn about self publishing?

One of the best aspects of the indie author community, in my eyes at least, is the willingness to be open and helpful. Very few indie authors are secretive about their successes and failings, and anything they can do to help out a fellow indie, they do it. They are supportive and you always feel like you have somebody on your side. This helps so much when you are learning. I made a friend on Kindleboards who offered me so much advice at the start of my journey. I was, and still am, so grateful for all that she showed me.

I have also learnt that professionalism is everything. If you cover is crap and your work is littered with mistakes and grammatical errors, your readers will soon let you know. Did you spot the mistake I left there on purpose? If not, you are probably like me and can’t spot them easily. Some people were born with the eyes of a hawk. Let them find your mistakes for you. I released my second book too soon because I was impatient, and it was full of mistakes that I didn’t find. But you just have to learn from something like this. I found a better editor and released the book again with an updated file. So yes, professionalism is everything, but so is knowing where you come up short and where to enlist help. I cannot edit my books if the future of the world depended on it. I need help, so I get it. Same with my covers.

Be nice. If a reader gives you a bad review, ignore it. Do not complain or contest it because they will just think of you as a whiny author. I have only ever replied to a review on one occasion, and that was when I commented that the book had since been reedited. But I also thanked the reviewer for highlighting the need for improvement and moved on. Nobody wants the reputation of a whiner, right?
Learning to self publish was a bit like learning Greek before I moved to Cyprus. I got here thinking I had to know everything, or had to have learned it within the first few months. That mistakes were a sign of failure. But I was wrong. Mistakes are a sign of willingness. Willingness to put yourself forward and try where others wouldn’t. Applying this principle to learning Greek means that I often sound ridiculous.

Once, I was trying to describe a snowball fight to my future in-laws. The Greek word for snowball fight can easily be mispronounced, and let’s just say by making that mistake you end up describing a very different game, one best not discussed with your potential mother and father in-law. But people make mistakes. You will make mistakes, just like I did, and just like the next writer after us. Be prepared to learn as you go.

But most importantly of all, what I have learned is that a reader doesn’t care how hard it was for you to write your book, how many cover designs you tried, or how many times you cried during the edit. All they want to read is a well finished book with a good story. Give them that, and eventually the readers and good reviews will follow.

 

You can follow Michelle here:

http://www.michellemuckley.com/

http://www.facebook.com/michellemuckleyauthor

http://www.twitter.com/michellemuckley

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6525038.Michelle_Muckley

 

Happy Friday 13th

I can’t say that I’m having more bad luck than usual today, but I have noticed that it’s started to snow on my blog, so I’ll have to watch my step ūüėČ

For anyone who is weeping silently on the last day of my blog tour – cheer up!¬† I’ve extended the tour by another week, hurray!!¬† So that means The Cross Of Santiago is still available to buy on Kindle for the ridiculously good value price of ¬£1.88 or $2.99, depending how you look at it and you can still enter the giveaway to win free copies of my book.

Check out my reviews page here to see all the lovely feedback I’ve received from this weeks’ reviewers here.¬† It’s great to hear readers’ opinions, so if you wish to write a review, please let me know and I’ll post it on my site.¬† Alternatively, if you or someone you know enjoys historical fiction with a touch of adventure, romance and good humour thrown in, this is the winter read for you!

~The Cross Of Santiago Blog Tour – PART TWO~

December 18th –
Dreamer *Review

December 19th –
[OPEN]

December 20th –
Crossroad Reviews *Review

101 Self Publishing Questions

It’s a very exciting time here at ‘The Cross of Santiago’ HQ (that’s the title of my novel… keep up!). ¬†The cover is nearing completion, my final edit is almost at an end (only four more chapters to over-analyse) and so it’s off to Mr. Kindle and Mrs. Smashwords with my manuscript so they can magically make it into an online literary sensation ūüôā ¬†Woohoo! ¬†

Now I’ve been doing a lot of research on self-publishing up to this stage, but it’s only when you get this close to publishing that a lot of really important questions need answering pronto.

I suppose the first question is, KDP Select. ¬†What’s it all about, is it worth doing, is it a big mistake not to? ¬†Let’s see what Amazon says about it:

KDP Select ‚Äď a new option to make money and promote your book. When you make your book exclusive to Kindle for at least 90 days, it will be part of the Kindle Owner‚Äôs Lending Library for the same period and you will earn your share of a monthly fund when readers borrow your books from the library. You can also promote your book as free for up to 5 days during these 90 days.

The other thing is, you can’t publish your book on any other platform for the 90 day duration. ¬†That’s three months people, which is a mighty long time, as Prince once said. ¬†But the whole freebie thing, that’s what seems to drive your book up the charts, which is extremely important because it gets you on the ‘Customers also bought’ list, which I have heard described as prime real estate when it comes to marketing. ¬†My question is this: should you use the free days to give your book away to all your family and friends (rather than begging your old aunt Irene to buy your book – which she’ll say she’ll do, but we both know she won’t) or use it to flog to complete strangers on Social Media? ¬†Or both? ¬†Answers on a postcard.

Secondly, reviews. ¬†I’ve already written about how important blogger reviews are to the success of your book, but should you send out your book to be reviewed before the launch, thereby (hopefully) garnering some good reviews on Amazon or Goodreads for potential readers to see? ¬†In which case, should you delay your launch until you’ve got some good reviews in place?

Thirdly, the launch. ¬†I’ve come across quite a few ‘companies’ running book tours, launches, tweet attacks and general tactics to beat people in submission to buy your book online, but do they really work? ¬†I would imagine word of mouth is the best marketing tool (something you’ll only achieve if you’ve written a decent book and people actually like it), but could your book use a little extra help at the launch stage?

So there you have it, three big questions I’m hoping to find the answers to and as soon as I do, I’ll post them ¬†up here. ¬†Alternatively, if any of you out there have already been down this road and wish to share your writerly wisdom, please do add a comment and help a girl out!