Wednesday, 30 December 2015

IN THE BLOOD - over 100,000 copies sold with Thomas & Mercer - series close to half a million sales.

A Christmas present from my publisher
I received a very nice Christmas present from my publisher, Thomas & Mercer, recently: a commemorative framed copy of my first book in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series, IN THE BLOOD, for exceeding sales of 100,000 copies with them since they took over publication in March 2014. It's taken pride of place on the wall in my writing cabin.

Reaching this milestone prompted me to add up how many copies have been bought across the entire series since first publication in May 2011, and I was staggered to see that the figure is now close to half a million! However did that happen? It's wonderful to know that so many readers have enjoyed reading my books, and will hopefully continue to do so. A big thank you to everyone.

This year has been both distracting and exciting for me. I'd been putting off some home improvements for several years while I concentrated on my books, but during the summer the work finally began. It was more home renovation than decoration as all the walls had to be re-plastered, all the woodwork replaced, which as you can imagine is a very messy and disruptive business. Thankfully I have my writing cabin in the garden, where I was able to plot much of my 6th Jefferson Tayte book, but the improvements turned into such a hands on project though that I had to abandon all hope of starting to write book 6 until the house was finished, which I'm very glad to say it now is. As 2016 approaches, I'm really looking forward to writing the book that's been turning though my mind while I've been cutting skirting boards, changing electrical sockets, filling and painting and goodness knows what else.

The year has also been peppered with highlights. I finished writing KINDRED and I'm so looking forward to its publication in the spring. All the edits are done and the description finalised (see below if you've not already read what it's about). All that's left to finalise is the jacket cover, which I'm very pleased with. Hopefully I'll be able to share that with you very soon. 2015 also saw the very first translation publication of one of my books - IN THE BLOOD - into the German language, and it's also just been released, along with TO THE GRAVE, in the Czech language. On top of that, a few weeks ago I was informed that IN THE BLOOD is now being translated into French for release in the latter half of 2016.

One of the biggest highlights of the year has to be the November promotion in the UK Kindle store, which was to see all four of my currently published books in the top 100 for most of the month. At their peak, they were all in the top 30, with two in the top 10, and IN THE BLOOD reached No.3! The book has been out for a while now, so I wasn't expecting anything like that. It was a lovely surprise and it's great to see such interest in the series and in my leading man, Jefferson Tayte.

For audiobook fans, I'm very pleased to announce that Simon Vance will be narrating my latest book. He's done a wonderful job with all the characters in the series so far, so I'm very pleased that he's on board again for KINDRED - particularly as JT will sound the same as before.

Here's the description of KINDRED for the back of the jacket:

Jefferson Tayte is good at finding people who don’t want to be found. For years he has followed faint genealogical trails to reunite families—and uncover long-hidden secrets. But Tayte is a loner, a man with no ties of his own; his true identity is the most elusive case of his career.

But that could all be about to change. Now Tayte has in his possession the beginnings of a new trail—clues his late mentor had started to gather—that might at last lead to his own family. With Professor Jean Summer, his partner in genealogical sleuthing, he travels to Munich to pick up the scent. But the hunt takes them deep into dangerous territory: the sinister secrets of Hitler’s Germany, and those who must keep them buried at any cost.

When their investigations threaten to undermine a neo-Nazi organisation, Tayte and Summer know time is running out. Can they find their way to the dark heart of a deadly history before they become its latest victims?

I'm very excited about 2016 and I hope you are too. I can't wait to chat about KINDRED with you and to share my progress again with my next book as I get down to writing it. I've usually made a good dent in the word count target by now, so I have some catching up to do, but now that my house is a home again and order has been restored, I'm raring to go!

I'm also delighted to have been invited to participate in the CLIC Sargent charity fundraiser for children with cancer again. It starts on 25 February, so please look out for that. It's an eBay auction called 'Get in Character' where you can bid to have your name immortalised in one of my books. Last year the bid was won by a lady called Jan Statham who has now become a key character in KINDRED, so next time it could be you, or a loved one as you can nominate a name if you win.

Whatever your hopes and plans for 2016, I wish you every success, good health and much happiness. 


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

New (5th) Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery

My publisher (Thomas & Mercer) has set the release date for my 5th Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery! It will be out for Kindle, in paperback and audiobook formats worldwide on 12 April 2016. You can pre-order it now from Amazon in your country by clicking HERE.

It's a big story for JT this time around and I'm very excited about it. The feedback from my editors has been excellent, but I can't wait to hear what you think about it. This time JT's own family history is about to catch up with him, and he's in for more than a few surprises. I'll let you know more about it once the jacket blurb has been decided on.

Next month I'll be working on the copyedits and hopefully soon I'll get to the see the jacket design, which of course I'll share with you as soon as I can.

Meanwhile, please share the news! Your support is, as always, very much appreciated. :o)

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Photographs from my trip to the Canadian Rockies

I finally got around to processing the photos I took on my recent trip to Canada's Banff and Yoho National Parks with Mrs R. Here are a few of my favourite images, taken on my Canon 5D Mark III in RAW format, then processed in Lightroom 4. Thanks for taking a look. Just click on any image to view them all in full screen. I hope you enjoy them.

I thought this was a chipmunk at first, but it's a ground squirrel.
I saw a chipmunk later in the same area, but couldn't get
a photo. It was much smaller and with more stripes.
Canon 135mm f2 lens, shot at f6.3 for 1/200sec.

Hmm... I can't quite remember where this was taken, but it was one of
my first shots of the trip so I'd say it was taken in Banff.
Canon 35mm f1.4 lens, shot at f11 for 1/25sec.

This is Point Cabin at the Emerald Lake Lodge,
where we stayed for four wonderful nights.
Great location, right on the lake.
Canon 135mm f2 lens, shot at f11 for 1/30sec.

A view from the balcony of the cabin we stayed in.
Canon 35mm f1.4 lens, shot at f13 for 1/40sec.

Taken at Lake Minnewanka.
Canon 135mm f2 lens, shot at f3.5 for 1/640sec.

Another shot of Lake Minnewanka.
Canon 35mm f1.4 lens, shot at f11 for 1/50sec.

Johnston Canyon - Lower Falls.
Canon 35mm f1.4 lens, shot at f11 for 0.6sec.

The light in the woods. This was taken near
Johnston Canyon on our way to a place called
the Ink Pots.
Canon 35mm f1.4 lens, shot at f1.6 for 1/250sec.

View from the Ink Pots.
Canon 35mm f1.4 lens, shot at f11 for 1/50sec.

I came across this ice meltwater waterfall heading out
from Emerald Lake one morning.
Canon 35mm f1.4 lens, shot at f3.2 for 1/8sec.

A Hoary Marmot. I'd never seen one before, but we
managed to identify it from a book at the lodge.
It was taken at Emerald Basin.
Canon 135mm f2 lens, shot at f2 for 1/1600sec.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

June Book Promotions

All at $1.99 through June for the Amazon Kindle US and Canada

Summer reading?
My books are in various Amazon Kindle Monthly Deals around the world this month. In the US and Canada you can currently get all four titles in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series for just $1.99 each. That's just $7.96 for the entire series so far!

Amazon AUS
Amazon UK

The second title in the series, To the Grave, is also on offer this month in the UK at £1.25, and in Australia at $1.49.

All titles are highly rated by Amazon readers around the world and have been top 10 bestsellers in Kindle store on numerous occasions,. So, if you like a bit of history and a thrill with your mystery solving, and haven't yet tried them, now could be a good time to get better acquainted with my lead character, Jefferson Tayte.

Reviewers have compared In the Blood to the works of Stieg Larsson and Robbert Goddard, and have said that it's reminiscent of a Sherlock Holmes adventure and the writings of Daphne Du Maurier. To the Grave 'was more than a crime novel. It was every bit as good as Ian McEwan's Atonement.' The Last Queen of England has also been compared many times to Dan Brown's DaVinci Code. To find out more, please follow the links in the caption beneath each image to the various deals, or you can visit my website.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Jefferson Tayte in Czech language

JT goes Czech!
I received some exciting news from my publisher earlier in the month. My editor wrote to inform me that they've received an offer for the first two books in my Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series, In the Blood and To the Grave, from Czech publisher, Mystery Press. The foreign rights deal is for world rights in the Czech language, and if everything works out okay the titles will be published in hardback within 12 months.
I'm very excited about it, and I can't wait to see my copies, particularly as they will be my first ever hardback editions - although it's a shame I won't be able to read them! Following the recent publication of In the Blood in the German language (as In der Blutlinie) this will be the second translation of my work into another language. I'll be sure to post a photo of the cover as soon as I'm able to.

Book 5 update
I've been hard at it with my next (5th) book in the series.  The word count now stands at just over 85,000 words, which, having just looked back at a blog entry I posted on 15 January, isn't bad going at all as I'd only just passed 18,000 words. I wrote the prologue last week, which I'm very pleased with. I know it might seem odd to have only just written the first pages of the book, but this time around I wanted to see how the story shaped up first. I feel it's all coming along very well, and with around 15,000 words left to write, it's nice to be able to report that the end of the first draft is in sight. There's still lots more to do, of course, but I'm looking forward to getting to the editing phase, and I'm really looking forward to being able to tell you more about.

May Facebook competition

My competition this month is to share an image of the person you think of as Jefferson Tayte while reading my books. It doesn't matter who it is or why you imagine the person as JT. As long as you're able to share a picture in the competition thread on my Facebook page, you can enter. I'll be picking the winner at random from all the entries received at the end of the month, and the winner will receive a signed paperback of his or her choice from the series. Here are some of the images already submitted:

I know someone who would like that

Monday, 6 April 2015

April update

March saw one of my best ever writing weeks, with just over 9000 words added to my next Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery. I had spent the first two weeks of the month feverishly plotting the rest of the story, and I think that helped as I had a very strong idea of where I was going when I got back to the writing. I've now passed the half way mark in my goal to reach my expected book length of 100,000 words. There's still a lot of work to do, but I'm hoping for some more of those high word count weeks to help me towards my target along the way. There's a past narrative again this time, and that's now written, so I'm back with JT again and it's been good to catch up after I left him last year at the end of The Lost Empress.

Nominate an author and win £200 worth of books!
I'm now a member of the Crime Writers Association, and if I'm on your list of favourite authors, and you can find the time, please consider voting for me in the CWA Dagger in the Library awards via this LINK. It won't cost you anything to vote, and you could win £200 worth of books! Nominations close on 13 April.

The Dagger in the Library is one of six highly prized CWA Dagger Awards, which have been awarded to crime writers since 1955. It is a unique literary award in that it offers a chance for readers to nominate their favourite British crime fiction authors.

If you like competitions, my April Facebook competition is to share photographs of your ancestors. The image that has the most likes at 8pm UK time on 30 April wins, and the person who posted it will receive a signed paperback from my Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series. There are several great entries already, so thanks to everyone who has entered so far. You can enter HERE.

To wrap up, I'd just like to announce that the German translation of In the Blood has now been published by Amazon Crossing. It's the first time any of my work has been translated into another language and it's doing well, so  hopefully the rest of the series will be translated at some point, too.

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!