Friday, 27 February 2015

'Get in Character' charity event for children with cancer has begun!

Meet Jefferson Tayte on the pages of my next novel.

Earlier in the year I was contacted by CLIC Sargent, the UK's leading charity for children and young people with cancer, who invited me to take part in a fundraising event called 'Get in Character', which was trialled last year with great success. This year's event promises to be even better and is already close to last year's totals, despite only having been live less than 24 hours.

There are 69 authors taking part in the eBay auction this year, and there are some big names in the mix, including Lee Child, Peter James, Nicci French, Andy McNab and Simon Kernick to name a few. It really is my privilege to have been invited to participate, and to be in a position where I can help raise funds for this very worthy cause.

So, how would you like to have your name in my next Jefferson Tayte novel? That's the prize waiting for the winning bidder. It doesn't have to be your name either. You can name someone close to you, and what a great gift idea - a loved one's name written into the pages of a novel.

You can find out more about CLIC Sargent and the event, and see which other authors are participating HERE.

If you would like to bid for a place in my next Jefferson Tayte book, or know someone else who might like to bid, my eBay auction page is HERE. Thank you!

The auction runs for 10 days and closes on 8 March. If you could share the link to this blog page, or to my eBay auction page that would be great and very much appreciated.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

My nan at 90, plus charity fundraiser update & book news.

Happy birthday Nan!

Last weekend saw my nan's 90th birthday, and I wanted to post a few photos I took of some old photos my mum dug out for the occasion, which show my nan as a young girl back in the 1930s and 1940s. The family got together in my home town to celebrate the occasion and it was lovely to see everyone gathered in one place, which is something quite rare these days. When I was growing up, my nan's house, which was then my great-grandparent's house, was the hub of the family, shared by my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, my great-aunt and great-uncle and my nan pictured here. I wonder now how they all managed as other family members also lived in the same small Victorian terraced house with them at some point, but that was before I was born. Imagine the scene from Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Grandpa Joe and you'll have a pretty good idea of what it must have been like. I look back on so many happy times spent 'down nan's' with great fondness, and a degree of sadness that all things must inevitably change. My nan still lives there, although by herself now since her mother, my great-grandmother passed away, which was at the grand old age of 101. Longevity certainly seems to run in the maternal side of my family!

Click Sargent charity fundraiser update.
The date has been set for the 10-day 'Get in Character' eBay auction, where authors are helping to raise funds for this very worthy charity, and winning bidders get to have their name, or the name of a loved one, immortalised in the author's next book. The auction starts at 8pm on Thursday 26 February, and I'll be posting a special blog soon with more information and links when the auction goes live. I hope you'll drop by and make a bid. In the meantime, here's a LINK to the CLIC Sargent website where you can find out more, and see the list of all the authors taking part, which includes Lee Child, Jodi Picoult, Peter James, Jojo Moyes, and Andy McNab, to name just a few.

Book news.
Readership of my series has been growing at a very good rate so far this year, thanks in no small part to the recent promotion of To the Grave and now for The Last Queen of England, which has been in the UK Kindle Top 100 since the promotion began at the start of the month. It's both encouraging and gratifying to see such interest in my work. The Last Queen of England is currently at No.65, and is still on sale for £1 until 28 February. Thanks to everyone who has bought a copy and helped to keep it there.

On the writing side of things, my next book, the 5th Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery is coming along nicely.  I've just passed 30,000 words, so I'm almost a third of the way there now, and the past narrative is only about three weeks or so from completion. I'm going to send a sample to my editor once that section is written, and I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that she likes it. Then I can reacquaint myself with Jefferson Tayte as I work on his part of the story, which I'm really looking forward to. As always, I can't wait to tell you what it's all about.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

January news roundup

It's 2015!
Which means that come September it will be ten years since I was made redundant and I embarked upon my career as a fiction author. Ten years! I know it's a worn-out cliche, but it really does seem like yesterday--well maybe last week at most. I had a nice Christmas and hope you did, too. It's been an exciting start to the year, which began with a few emails from Amazon Publishing to congratulate me on passing a milestone sales figure for my first book In the Blood since Thomas & Mercer re-published my titles last March. As a result, In the Blood has been featured in Amazon UK's 'Top Selling Books of 2014', which was a very nice surprise.

I was also contacted the other day by a charity organisation called CLIC Sargent, who are the UK's leading charity for Children's cancer. They invited me to join in a fundraiser called 'Get in Character', whereby an auction is set up on eBay enabling people to bid on the chance to have a character named after them in the authors next book, of which they also receive a signed copy when the book is released. I think it's a great incentive and I jumped at the chance to help out. I'll be posting more details about it as soon as I have the auction date. Please bid as much as you can afford to donate, and the winning bidder will forever become a part of my Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mysteries! I think that's pretty cool--like donating to charity and having a star named after you, only smaller. :o)

Also this month, my second book To the Grave is being featured in a Kindle UK January sale and is on offer for just £1. I'm very pleased to see so much interest in the book, which entered the top 100 Kindle bestseller charts early in the month and is currently residing at No.45. The offer runs until the end of January, so if you've not read it and think you might like to, there's still a couple of weeks left to get it at the low price. You can find out more about To the Grave on my website, or the Amazon Kindle store, and you don't need to have read In the Blood first to enjoy it.

My next book... 
I hit the ground running just as soon as 2015 dawned--okay it was the 2nd of January and I've been sitting down ever since, but you get the idea. I'm hard at it. The word count has increased by about 4000 words, which doesn't seem that much to show for two weeks, but I'll put my hand up now and say that I'm finding this one a real toughie, and the research is slowing my word count down more than I had hoped it would. Still, some things shouldn't be rushed, and I believe that writing a book is one of them.

I'm trying to get inside the head of an historical-narrative character,  a man this time, and we don't even speak the same language. It also dawned on me recently that I set myself quite a challenge as soon as I published In the Blood, because it began a legacy that has meant I have to juggle three stories in each book: the historic and present-day narratives, and JT's larger story that is beginning to unfold across the series of books. Perhaps even more challenging is that I'm not writing historical fiction set in the same period each time, whereby my knowledge of that period grows with, and can be used in, each book. I have to learn about that period in history afresh every time I sit down to write a new book.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. In fact, I think this setup helps to keep things fresh and interesting for me as the author, and for the reader, who gets something a little different with every book. It just takes time. Rest assured though that I'll remain hard at it, and gradually we'll see that word count over on the right reach the target of 100,000 words. Only 81,639 to go!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!

Click HERE to watch


Wow! I can't believe a couple of months have passed since I last posted a blog entry. Where did the time go? The reason is that I've been so focussed on writing my next Jefferson Tayte mystery, and the research for this one has been pretty intense so far. As you can see from the word count to the left of this page, I've made a healthy start, and I hope to pick up the pace further in the New Year.

Looking back on 2014, I can truly say that it's been a very exciting year for me. My existing three books were re-released with Thomas & Mercer in March, I had a film crew pointing cameras and fluffy microphones at me soon afterwards, and then in October my fourth book, The Lost Empress, was released. I've also just heard that the German language edition of In the Blood has moved into production and is being copyedited right now for release early next year. It's going to be called In der Blutlinie.

Here's the cover, which is much the same as for the English language version, but with a different text layout.

In other news, the film I made for Amazon KDP earlier in the year about my journey as an author was featured in the latest edition of the KDP newsletter. I had always thought how good it would be to get a mention someday, and now it's happened! As a result, the number of views on YouTube quickly soared past the 2000 mark. If you've already seen it, thanks for watching. If you haven't, here's the link again: Behind the Cover: featuring Steve Robinson

I can't imagine that 2015 is going to be quite as exciting for me as this year has been, but one of the wonderful things about publishing is that you just don't know what's around the corner. The next highlight for me, so far as I can see, is to finish my next book, which I hope to be able to tell you more about as 2015 progresses. If you want to see how I'm doing, you can always pop back and have a look at my current word count, which I'll be updating on a regular basis.

I hope you enjoy watching my animated Christmas card. It's a bit of fun, and please feel free to share it. As always, I'd like to thank for your support, and I wish you a very merry Christmas and a wonderful 2015.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Video: Behind the Cover: Featuring Steve Robinson

The mini-documentary I was asked to make for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing earlier in the year has now been released. It focuses on my eight year journey since being made redundant from my career in telecoms, to realising my dream of becoming a full-time author. I hope you enjoy it.

Shooting the film was a lot of fun, even if I was pretty nervous about it beforehand. It's wonderful to be able to look back on the day through the medium of video. We visited a few locations: my home and garden, the river in the village where I live, and for the afternoon we took the train into London to shoot outside St.Paul's Cathedral, which features in my third book, The Last Queen of England. I've uploaded some new 'behind the scenes' photographs from the day, which were taken by the stills photographer, Jason. That's him on the right. Thanks Jase! You can click on any image to see the larger versions in the gallery.

I was asked to grab my hat and put it on
in the mirror before heading off to my cabin.

Shooting the 'hat' scene by my back door.

Being interviewed outside my writing cabin.

Sitting on the sofa inside my cabin,
reading my second book, To the Grave.

Being interviewed by the river.
Fluffy boom mic and all!

Tapping story ideas into Notes on my iPhone.

A portrait by the river.

The dome of St Paul's Cathedral.

Shooting outside St Paul's Cathedral. I found
this bit quite scary as it's a very busy area, with
people walking close by, often stopping to watch.

I wonder what I was thinking about?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The hat's out of the bag!

If you've been following my blog, you'll likely know that I filmed a mini-documentary for Kindle Direct Publishing earlier in the year. I had expected to see it sooner, but it makes perfect sense to release it just a few days before the release of my new Jefferson Tayte Mystery, The Lost Empress. During a telephone conversation with my editor on Monday, I was told it would be out towards the end of this week. Then last night, via Twitter, I saw the photo above of me in my writing hat by my back door, along with the announcement that the film would be out tomorrow!

It may also come as no surprise to some to know that I write while wearing a bucket hat, and I've been promising to post some pictures of me wearing it for some time. It began as a practical way to block out the sunlight streaming through my kitchen window, where I wrote much of my first three books. From there the hat became a way to block out my peripheral vision to reduce distraction while I was writing. I felt this helped me to focus. Since then it's become something of a quirky superstition, and I wear it whenever I write in the belief that I won't write well unless I do - as if it's a direct link to my muse and he won't call on me unless I've got my old bucket hat on. The threads are wearing a bit thin now, and I really hope it lasts at least long enough to finish my Jefferson Tayte series. It's crazy, I know, but it got me wondering about other authors' quirks, and I soon discovered that, not only wasn't I alone in this, but that my need to write in my trusty old writing hat is a rather mild quirk by comparison to what I found.

As a means to shut out distraction, towards the end of her life and due to her illness, Flannery O'Connor used to write facing the plain wood of her dresser. Facing a blank canvas in one form or another seems commonplace amongst writers, and to paraphrase Francine Prose, that seems like the perfect metaphor for being a writer. Francine Prose writes in her husband's flannel pyjamas, by the way.

Truman Capote has said that he can't think unless he's lying down, so he reportedly wrote   horizontally. William Faulkner would stay up late drinking whiskey with a friend, and then disappear to write in the mornings, repeating the process come evening. Alexandre Dumas was superstitious about the colour of the paper he wrote on. He liked blue paper for novels, and when he was once forced to used cream paper he was convinced that it upset his writing.

Edgar Allan Poe believed his cat, Catterina, to be his literary guardian. Vladimir Nabokov wrote most of his books on index cards and was very particular about the type of pencil he used. Early 20th century author, Thomas Clayton Wolfe, reportedly wrote while leaning on his refrigerator because he was so tall. And my favourite... John Cheever used to write in his underpants because he saw no sense in creasing the only suit he had at that time. You could call that practical and logical, but it's certainly eccentric.

Do you know of any other authors' writing quirks or superstitions? If you're an author, perhaps you have one of your own. I'd love to hear about it. 

If you'd like to watch my Kindle Direct Publishing video, do pop back
over the next few days. I'll post it here on my blog as soon as I can.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

New Information page for The Lost Empress now live on my website

I've created the information page on my website for my new Jefferson Tayte mystery. It includes my inspiration for the story and how I set out to tell it, plus some facts about the Empress of Ireland, along with a few links to some of the websites I visited during my research. Here's a LINK.

You can also now hear the prologue from the audiobook edition, as performed by the very talented Simon Vance, who recorded the first three books in the series.

Early indications from professional readers who have received advance copies of The Lost Empress are very promising. Here are some of the highlights from those early reviews already posted on Goodreads.

Praise for The Lost Empress from advance copy readers...

'An utterly gripping story.'

     'I loved this book - it was engaging from page one.'

'I would highly recommend this book. It’s a cracking story.'

     'A tremendous novel of treachery and suspense.'

'A true trust no one tale that spans all ages.'

     'More genealogy, and the genealogy was really interesting.'

'The fourth in the series, this is, I believe, Robinson’s best.'