Cover Story

A recent trend of wrapping books in unassuming brown paper and jotting down the merest of hints as to what lies underneath is sweeping the nation’s bookshops and book-clubs.  I love this idea, because covers can often be misleading, distracting or ill-fitting.  The old adage of judging books by their covers exists precisely because this is what we do.  How much simpler it would be if all books could be wrapped in plain paper, but then we would miss out on the one opportunity to create a visual representation of what lies between the covers.

Being a self-publisher, one has the blessing/curse of choosing one’s own cover (not sure why I’ve slipped into the third person, but there we are).  It can actually be a really exciting, creative process, but when budget is a concern, there are limitations.  This usually means hiring a graphic designer who will give your cover the professional edge, but being on the poor man’s plan means doing a lot of the work yourself.  Nothing new there then.  So for my debut novel, I had eleventy-thousand ideas for the cover and bombarded my designer with images, patterns, frames, fonts… the list was endless.  In a bid to give me what I wanted instead of what I needed, she tried to incorporate as many of my ideas as possible and did a great job of blending them.  However, in hindsight, I realise that she should have said STOP!  In capitals!  Book covers are meant to be clear – telling the reader, at a glance, what to expect.  While I do like my cover, after a few years in this industry, I can see that I made some newbie mistakes.

So it’s time for change and a re-branding of my first novel, The Cross Of Santiago.  Similar to Outlander, this novel has two timelines with characters’ lives intertwining throughout.  And like Diana Gabaldon, I also struggle to come up with a condensed description of what this book is about.  As she herself said: “I’m still trying to figure out what the heck you call books that nobody can describe.”  It covers so many genres from historical fiction, to romance, fantasy, mystery and general fiction.  So instead I’m going to leave it up to one of my readers, The Bearded Bookworm, to describe it!

The Cross of Santiago is a historical fiction / romance novel set mainly in Galway, Ireland. It follows the stories of several characters from 2010 as well as slipping back further in time to the 16th century.
In 2010 we follow the stories of Amanda, a young women who was orphaned as a child and longs to know more about her biological family and Xavier, a Spanish man who has by chance become involved in an around the world yacht race which will finish in Galway.
After having no contact with her biological family following her parents deaths at a young age Amanda out of the blue receives contact from a law firm informing her that her aunt has died and left her a medal in her will. After experiencing flashbacks during a hypnotherapy session it becomes clear that this medal may be even more important than simply being the only remaining connection to her biological family.
Why does she keep having dreams of drowning? What exactly is the medal and how did her aunt come to have it in her possession? Are her visions representative of her inner emotions or are they memories of a previous life? And more importantly, what does the mysterious Spaniard Xavier have to do with it all?

Again, with time and experience, I have come to realise that the title, ‘The Cross Of Santiago’ doesn’t really mean very much to people.  I imagine most people have heard of the Camino de Santiago – a pilgrimage across northern Spain – and perhaps that association is a bit misleading.  I had thought of changing it before, but I assumed that once you published a book, you couldn’t change it.  Currently I am of the mind that you can do whatever the hell you want!  And what I want is for my novel to reach the audience it was meant for, and it’s my job to make sure that happens.  Besides, most novels have entirely different covers for different markets and various editions and I think that after three years, my novel deserves a new jacket too.  So after much thought and consultation, I am giving my novel a new title, THE HEIRLOOM.  It’s evocative, intriguing and after all, the entire plot revolves around the mysterious heirloom itself.

The changes haven’t been finalised yet, but having all the patience of a gnat, I just had to share it with you!  It all began with this beautiful shot – as soon as I saw it I knew that it was my new cover.

new heirloom1+1

Ta-dah!  Do let me know what you think 🙂  As I said, the kerning has to be finished and a few other bits and bobs, but hopefully this new cover and title will be live very soon.  I was chatting about this with fellow Indie Author Heather Wardell and she pointed out that the only concern would be readers buying the same book twice!  However, the clever people at Amazon have already thought of this and there is an option to publish my new cover as a second edition, which I think sounds rather fancy.  So it’s a win-win 🙂

You can now buy The Heirloom in paperback or eBook 

new heirloom1+1 Amazon (Paperback)Kindle ~ KoboNook ~ Scribd 

 

Happy Easter Book Sale!

Easter sale

Fancy a good read while you’re stuffing your face with chocolate?  You’ve come to the right place!  Both of my books are on sale for Easter at the cracking price of €0.99/£0.99/$0.99/.  But what are they about?  Will I like them?  I hear you cry.  Hold on to your cream egg – here’s a little preview to help you decide.

 

The Mysterious Bakery On The Rue de Paris (6)

THE MYSTERIOUS BAKERY ON RUE DE PARIS

 

A charming bakery in a picturesque French town sounds like the idyllic place to escape her life, but Edith Lane soon discovers that some ghosts are harder to escape than others. A magical, 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.

 

*****  A wonderful, captivating story    *****  Terrifically written and researched

*****  Heartwarming story     *****  Magical read!

The Cross of Santiago-Amazon

THE CROSS OF SANTIAGO

A second chance to meet your first love’

Adopted as a baby, Amanda Morrison knows nothing of her biological family.  But when she receives a mysterious heirloom from a long lost aunt, she unlocks the door to a distant past and a secret love. Can her past life really be haunting her present and what can she do to put things right?

The Cross Of Santiago is an intriguing novel that tells the tales of women in two different eras and how their lives seem to be entwined by fate.

***** Epic romance across the centuries    *****  Intriguing story    

*****  Interesting mix of genres    *****  Unusual but enjoyable!

Betwixt short

And don’t forget, you can always download my short story Betwixt anytime of the year for free!

‘Catherine returns to Hollowbrook Cottage on a cold November night, looking to escape her present life and lose herself in the past. However, her journey crosses the path of a mysterious stranger who will change her life forever.’

 

 

 

 

 

Discover the heirloom that unlocks a door to Ireland’s medieval past…

Santiago collage KINDLE SALE!!!  $0.99/£0.99 Amazon US & Amazon UK

‘Two couples separated by four centuries are bound by one golden cross…’

A mysterious heirloom, once worn by a Knight of the Spanish Armada, holds the secret to a past life. When Amanda Morrison receives this unusual gift, it marks the beginning of an extraordinary journey into the past, which will challenge her beliefs and open her heart.

An epic story full of historical intrigue and parallel lives, The Cross Of Santiago is a book for anyone who believes in the transcendent power of love.

REVIEWS for The Cross Of Santiago

Four star review for The Cross of Santiago from Trish at Between My Lines here.

Overall, this book has a little bit of everything; an epic romance, adventure, great locations, well researched historical fiction and some dream interpretation.   The mixture of the two stories leads to a snappy, well paced story that kept me excited and invested in the plot.

Official OnlineBookClub.org review for The Cross Of Santiago here.

“The Cross of Santiago” is an intelligent and well written historical romance book. I love historical fiction with a bit of romantic story-line thrown in and this book sure fits the bill. The beginning looked promising and what followed didn’t disappoint.

Check out the reviews for The Cross Of Santiago on Barnes & Noble here.

The Cross of Santiago is a heart-warming, astonishing novel of love and destiny.

I read this novel over a rainy weekend and lost myself completely in it’s charming story, which was full of twists and turns.

Mira’s enchanting review on Forever Book Lover here.

It’s clear the author knows a lot about the time period, and she managed to change the setting to make the reader really feel like they went back in time.

The characters and plot were complex and intriguing enough to capture, and hold, my attention.

Amazon reviews for The Cross Of Santiago can be found here.

As a debut novel it is praiseworthy and as historical fiction goes, I would have to compare it with others I’ve read in the genre such as Diana Gabaldon, Ken Follet and Kate Mosse. All in all, a great read if you’re into romance and adventure with some informative history to boot, The Cross Of Santiago comes highly recommended.

Evie recreated the city perfectly, making me think I was there. The adventures in this book made me stay put and read it all in a heart beat!

Read Goodreads reviews for The Cross Of Santiago here.

I have never read a story like The Cross of Santiago and Evie Gaughan’s attention to detail is amazing, particularly when writing about the historical part of the story.  Readers of historical romance will be hooked on Amanda and Xavier’s story.

Evie Gaughan also has a good sense of humor that shows through her characters.  A good portion of The Cross of Santiago takes place in the 1500′s so if you like historical fiction, you’ll like this book. But that’s not all…it has adventure, romance, and humor.

Time Keeps On Slipping…

The lovely people at Writing.ie recently asked me to write an article for their ‘Better Fiction Guides’ and so I decided to do a piece on how to write ‘Time-Slip’.  Historical Fiction is so popular right now, but now if you’re looking for that extra oomph, both as a writer and a reader, Time-Slip offers the best of both worlds.

My first introduction to the time-slip genre was when I read Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (who, it turns out, is not a supermodel but a highly successful author). Instantly, I knew that this was my kind of book. It had mystery, intrigue and… shut the front door – two parallel stories in different time periods! It felt like I was getting two books for the price of one – a bargain. As a writer however, time-slip opened up a whole new world of story-telling to me and once I found my subject, I began writing my novel The Cross Of Santiago.

The most obvious feature of a time-slip novel is the parallel narrative that runs throughout the book. It’s vital that the narrative is equally engaging for both the contemporary and historical sections of the book, otherwise you risk losing the reader’s interest for large portions of the book. While both stories are connected, they must have enough appeal in their own right to engage the reader. The most important aspect of this for me was providing each section with its own unique ‘voice’ in order to convince the reader that they are moving from one time period to another. The whole atmosphere of the story changes – the dialogue used in 16thCentury Ireland is very different to that of the present day, so it can be a challenge, almost like writing two completely different novels at once.

The next feature of time-slip writing is research. Historical fiction is a genre that requires meticulous researching and Time Slip is no different. The setting for my novel was medieval Ireland, 1588 to be precise, when the Spanish Armada wrecked upon our rocky shores in one of the deadliest storms ever recorded. I probably spent the best part of a year researching 16th Century Europe and the battle of the Armada against the Royal Navy. I also had to research life in Ireland at that time, which was under foreign rule but, especially in the West, remained quite independent in their laws and culture. Everything from what they ate, what they wore and what they believed in (Brehon Law still existed at that time) was crucial to create a realistic picture. I didn’t just stick to books and websites; I watched movies set in and around that time, documentaries and visited museums. You simply cannot know enough about your setting, which brings me nicely on to my next point.

Try not to force-feed the facts to your reader – they will not appreciate it! It can be so tempting, after months of researching your subject, to thrill (or bore!) your readers with every minute detail you picked up along the way. But you have to know when enough is enough. It’s important for you to know the background to the story, but the reader doesn’t need a history lecture, so you have to find a way to weave the facts into the story and keep the reader entertained as well as informed. Time-slip does require the reader to suspend belief to some degree, so when you’re writing fiction, make sure you get your facts straight!

Now the trickiest and most enjoyable part of writing time-slip is connecting your stories, so that each has a bearing on the other. In The Cross Of Santiago, it is the cross itself that connects the characters in the contemporary and historical sections of the book. The device I used to create the actual ‘time-slipping’ was a rather haphazard hypnosis session, which takes the protagonist on a far deeper journey into the past than she bargained for. This was the fun part for me, because I had a very cynical young woman in the present, finding herself connected to a very dutiful young woman from the past and by discovering more about her counterpart, she influences change in her future. That’s what is so dynamic about this genre, you can trace the influence of the past on the future.

Every author has their own approach – I think Kate Mosse writes her historical sections separately – but for me, I wrote the chapters in the sequence that they are read. After the first draft was completed, I was able to then go back and really concentrate on the historical sections as a whole. Interestingly, I found music a great tool to get into the historical ‘headspace’ and spent many an hour listening to Enya and Loreena McKennitt. Their music has a timeless, ethereal quality that really helped me to let my mind drift back through the ages and channel the past.

Time-slip is such an intriguing idea and in fact it was a book I read about past life regression that gave me the inspiration for my novel. It offers endless possibilities for writers and there are no rules as such. But my one piece of advice is this: Write about a time period you are passionate about. I was fascinated by the Armada landing in Ireland and how the locals tried to help them hide from the authorities. I rented a cottage that overlooked the bay where the ship I was writing about sank. I visited the graveyard in Galway City where a plaque erected by the Spanish Marine Corps remembers the Spanish Soldiers who were executed by the English army. I don’t think I could have written this story if I wasn’t so passionate about the human story behind historical facts.

Finally, time-slip can be challenging for some readers who find the actual ‘slips’ in time a bit fussy (although for me, that’s what makes time-slip so exciting and unpredictable). That’s really where your characters and plot come into play, because you want your reader to anticipate each narrative as it unfolds. Each story should be strong enough to stand on its own, yet contain all of the thematic links that bind the stories into one. It’s a delicate balancing act, but if done successfully, time-slip can be a thrilling ride, for reader and writer alike.

The Cross of Santiago-Amazon - Copy   The Cross Of Santiago is just 99p on Kindle Countdown for a limited time only!

 

Irish 4 Star Review

As many self-published authors will tell you, it can be a bit cringe-worthy having to blow your own trumpet, so it’s always nice when somebody else does it for you!  Trish at Between My Lines recently wrote such a wonderful review of The Cross Of Santiago that I had to share it here.  It really is the kind of reaction you hope for when writing a book; that a reader will be engaged, entertained and ultimately absorbed by the story.  Seeing as the novel is set in Ireland and I am an Irish author, it’s great to get a fellow Irish woman’s opinion.  So here it is – hope you enjoy reading Trish’s review as much as I did!

When I started my Green Giants (Irish Author Spotlight) feature, my hope was that I would help other readers find Irish Authors to enjoy. I didn’t realise that it would also introduce me to great writers that I might never have come across. Such as Evie Gaughan, who approached me to read and review The Cross of Santiago. She only had to mention the magic words, Galway and Time Travel, and I was in!

First Line of The Cross of Santiago:

“Wake up Amanda, wake up!”

My Thoughts on The Cross of Santiago:

This book has two settings and I loved both. The first is contemporary Galway – a small, vibrant city in the West of Ireland; a city that is full of fun and art, one I always love to visit. I feel the book really captured the tone of modern Galway really well. The second setting is the failed voyage of The Spanish Armada fleet in 1588. This setting has won this book a place in my heart forever.

If you know nothing about the Spanish Armada and how so many of the ships were shipwrecked on the coast of Ireland and Scotland; then worry not, this book will fill you in. I had forgotten so much of this part of history that it was fantastic to revisit it and I ended up having great discussions about the battle and their mission with my husband who is a history fiend.

I kept imagining this part of the book as a film. The vision of the ships taking 2 days just to leave the port of Lisbon due to sheer numbers is such a spectacular image. I love books that engage your brain and make you want to research more which is exactly what this book did to me.

However this book is not just a book about history (as amazing as the historical setting was); it is also full of intriguing characters. The main characters are Amanda and Xavier. And I have to say both of them have made some very dubious decisions in their lives and I find it hard to say which of their wrong turns I despise more. Despite that I can see how lost both of them are and how both are willing to grow and learn with a little guidance and inspiration from the past.

Their ancestors from the sixteenth century are a different matter. A knight and a peasant girl; their morals and sacrifices shine through the centuries. Annora and Miguel seem to encompass everything that Amanda and Xavier should be but they also hint at the potential that they will blossom into.

Overall, this book has a little bit of everything; an epic romance, adventure, great locations, well researched historical fiction and some dream interpretation. The mixture of the two stories leads to a snappy, well paced story that kept me excited and invested in the plot. And when I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about the book and talking about book; always a good sign!

Who should read The Cross of Santiago?

I’d strongly recommend this book to all who enjoy historical fiction, especially those who love romantic historical fiction. Also to anyone interested in Irish history or contemporary Ireland; you will find lots of facts here but they are wrapped up neatly in a well told story so it never becomes over-whelming.

You can follow Trish at Between My Lines and read this review on Goodreads or Amazon.

4 Star Review

4.0 out of 5 stars surprisingly good, 21 Jan 2014

 

Just thought I’d post the most recent review for The Cross Of Santiago on Amazon.  It’s always a delight to see a new reader enjoying my book 🙂

I liked the way the historical material was brought. It was also a surprise; for the first half of the book I had no idea this topic would appear; I find it very original to wait so long with introducing an important theme. I especially appreciated the difference in tone, atmosphere, etc. between the historical and the contemporary scenes, that was very skilled and made the story very credible. Naturally I loved that the story is set in Galway, where I live. I liked the contemporary parts because they gave me a glimpse into contemporary Irish lives (I am not Irish).

That’s a wrap!

It’s the final day of my two week blog tour and I want to take the opportunity to say thanks to all of the tour hosts who spread the word and wrote some fantastically insightful and positive reviews for The Cross Of Santiago.  It’s been so exciting to read the reviews and discover different readers’ interpretations of the story.  It’s been described as a coming of age, romance, adventure, historical and humourful (that’s not a word, is it…) book that crosses many genres.  So if you want to immerse yourself in a world full of mystery, love and self-discovery, then you can still pick up a copy for $2.99 from Kindle and Smashwords.
I also want to send a big thank you to all the readers who have downloaded the book already – your support is much appreciated 🙂  To wrap up my blog tour, you can check out Crossroads review of my book here.  And in a fitting round off to the year of The Cross Of Santiago’s launch, I revisited the place where I found the backdrop to my book cover – a beautiful stone archway in Ashford, Cong with a really cool king’s head on top.

Image

 

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 😉

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

Chic-Storical Fiction – A New Sub-Genre?

Check  my guest post on Angees After Thoughts blog here, along with a short excerpt from The Cross Of Santiago to whet your appetite.  This intriguing time-slip novel straddles the genres of Chic Lit and Historical Fiction, so if you like your Diana Gabaldon with a dash of Marian Keyes, this is the book for you!  Don’t forget that all this week you can enter the giveaway to win a $20 Amazon gift card, just by downloading a copy of the book at a very festive $2.99 on Amazon or Smashwords using the coupon code GQ83M .  Best of luck!

 

 

Roll up for the literary tour!

Hello everyone,

I’ve been dying to write this post, so my inner tour guide can step out and show you the literary tour of The Cross Of Santiago!  This novel was inspired greatly by my surroundings – Galway city and county and in this first leg of the literary tour, I want to take you to where it all began.

In 1588, the Spanish Armada, the greatest naval fleet that ever was, decided to invade England in a holy war to overthrow the protestant Queen (why can’t we all get along?!)  Anyway, things didn’t work out as planned (you’ll have to read the book to find out why) and the fleet had to return home via Scotland and down the west coast of Ireland.  A raging storm caused many of the ships to wreck along the Irish coastline and it was these events that planted the seeds of a story in my mind.

Looking up the Irish Wrecks Online website, I discovered an Armada shipwreck recorded in 1588 in a small  bay called Ballinakill.  Ballinakill is in a beautifully scenic area of Connemara, not far from Tully village.  I have always loved taking my holidays in the wilds of Connemara, so I instantly went searching for a cottage to rent in the area, where I could do more research.  As luck or fate would have it, I found a cottage overlooking Ballinakill Bay, on the slopes of Tully mountain.

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I instantly fell in love with the place and in my novel, this is the cottage belonging to Tori’s grandmother, where Xavier stays and explores the waters of Ballinakill Bay.  At the foot of the hill (if you can run the gauntlet of wild Connemara sheep!)  there is a small pier with a breath-taking view of the Twelve Bens mountains.  How could you not be inspired by this place?

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The Falcon Blanco Mediano, an urca which was most likely used for transporting supplies to the bigger ships, wrecked upon the rocks of Freaghillaun Island (try saying that with your mouth full) and many of the survivors were helped by local clans.  The ship itself has disintegrated over time in the choppy currents of the Atlantic, but some believe there is still Armada treasure to be found, if you know the right place to look….  Below is a view of Freaghillaun Island from the mainland.

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Click here to see a map of the area, if you would ever like to go there yourself and take part in The Cross Of Santiago literary tour!  Stay tuned for further stops on the tour, and don’t forget, there’s still time to enter the giveaway to win a free e-book here.