Sunday, 28 August 2011

Extract from 'The Earl & His Tiger'


An extract, as promised, from my latest Regency, The Earl & His Tiger, which is currently in both the Kindle Historical Romance Top 100 and the Top 100 Historical Romance fiction charts on UK Amazon.

The rakish Earl of Stanton is snowed into a deserted cottage with his trusty young tiger, Jem, after a wager goes badly wrong ...

Please note, the 'tiger' of the title is the nickname given to an elite Regency groom!

Hope you enjoy it!
E.

The fire was smoking furiously in the front room – snow blocking the chimney, no doubt. Jem was still crouched on the hearth, his wet breeches steaming, his hair lank about his face.

The boy looked round warily as the Earl returned, his dark gaze fixing on the clothes over Stanton’s arm. ‘Thank you, my lord,’ Jem began, ‘ but I’m quite comfortable in what – ’

‘Nonsense.’ Stanton dismissed his protests briskly, prepared for them and rather enjoying his own unexpected generosity. ‘Put these on, and when we’ve eaten some of the cold ham from the pantry – yes, and enjoyed a hot cup of tea too, with maybe a dash of rum in it – I’ll be the one to go back into the snow and set covers over the horseflesh. You can take the bed in there. No, no, I insist. I was inside the coach, you were the one riding in the wet all day. Now don’t argue, just get dressed and do what you’re ordered for a change. I’ll not have your death on my conscience, damn it.’

Still the boy hesitated, a slight flush on his pale cheeks, even though he had accepted the bundle of clothing from his master’s arms.

Stanton frowned. ‘What is it? Too shy to strip off in front of me?’

He saw the hurriedly lowered gaze, the flinching look, and could have kicked himself. Of course, the boy had insisted on his own room above the stables. ‘No room-mates,’ he had stipulated on first coming into the Stanton household. He liked his privacy, and was no doubt one of these religious types – didn’t believe in baring the flesh, and all that. And Stanton had agreed readily enough. One of the best tigers in London, he would have been a fool to refuse, knowing himself to be the envy of most of the whipsters in town, dashing through Hyde Park with Jem up behind him in the curricle.

‘My fault,’ he muttered, turning his back. ‘I’ll fetch that cold meat and the rum. Now that’ll set you up for the night!’

Stanton stood in the pantry, peering about for the ham in the darkness, having forgotten to bring the candle. Best give the lad some privacy for a few minutes. The place was illuminated only by pale snow-shine through a small square of net-covered window high up on the wall, but he found the bottle of rum easily enough.

Then he saw the glimmer of metal – the hook! And was just reaching up to unhook the delicious-smelling ham when he heard a dreadful noise from the front room. A sort of unearthly wailing, high-pitched, like a soul in torment.

The hairs stood up on the back of his neck, hearing such a sound in that desolate place, and for a brief moment Stanton had such visions of ghostly apparitions that it took all his good sense to shake them off.

He crashed back through into the front room, the bottle of rum clutched in his hand, almost falling over the old woman’s knitting basket.

‘Jem, what the devil was that noise?’

And saw, as through a shivering mist of smoke from the fire, the young woman who spun in horror at his entry, her lips parted on some wordless cry, clad in rough men’s trousers but nude from the waist up, breasts shining and perfect.


The Earl and His Tiger is available for Kindle on Amazon.co.uk or on the US site, Amazon.com

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Is Kindle Changing The Way We Write?

The parameters and particular form of the Kindle reading experience is shaping the way I approach those works I intend to sell digitally, and I can imagine it must be doing something similar to other writers too.

One key factor in making a Kindle sale is the free downloadable sample.

The sample represents 10% of your book.

This indicates to those savvy in the ways of making Kindle sales that a "hook" should be built into the story at around the 10% mark. If you know how long your book will be and therefore where the first 10% will end, you can write your hook into the plot, and it should be quite an organic process.

But if, like so many, your book is written in fits and starts, or rewritten at various points, you may have to go back afterwards and massage the beginning so your "hook" falls just before the 10% mark.

Frankly, although this approach may be anathema to some purists, it's no worse than rewriting your first page or chapter to make it bolder or more enticing to an agent or publisher. And it may make your book better. There's nothing wrong with an early hook, and it will at least ensure that the plot-thin literary style is more rapidly put aside for a more commercial approach.

On the downside, it may encourage lazy writers to put all their effort into that first 10%, and then sink into a typo-riddled morass of repetition and continuity errors for the remaining 80%.

Another side-effect of writing for the digital market is a growing awareness of the size of screen on which your book may eventually be read. Readers are not merely reading digital books and other material on Kindles, Nooks, Sony ereaders or the more comfortably-sized home computer screen, but also these days on iPads, iPhones, Blackberry etc.

We can improve the reading experience - and make our books more attractive to consumers (whoops, I mean, readers) - by shortening our chapters, paragraphs and even our sentences.

This has already happened, to a certain extent, in most forms of the novel, due to our advertisement-inspired love of the soundbite. In many genres, the crisp or telling one-line paragraph has become the author's new benchmark for stylistic prowess.

Brevity being the soul of wit, this may be a force for good.

All that doesn't even cover the uneasy shifts between publisher, editor, agent and writer, as more people self-publish and get to grips with editing and formatting issues, self-promotion, marketing strategies, product descriptions, cover images and how to survive in an unpredictable and increasingly economically troubled industry.

I don't share the gloom of many when looking ahead to the future of the great digital age. Anything could happen. But I'd like to be flexible enough to run with it when it does.

And hopefully make a few sales along the way.

Please see comments for other remarks on how digital publishing is changing the way we write.

Back in the Top 100!

I'm really, truly delighted to see that my new Regency ebook, The Earl and His Tiger, is now selling brilliantly on both the UK and US Amazon sites.

It's such a validation of my love for the genre. Regency romance rocks!

I shall stop banging on about this soon. Still reeling with how lovely people are for buying my novels so regularly.  Can't quite get used to it. ;-)

Hope to have another guest blogger here this week. If not, maybe a review of someone else's book? Let me know if you have a Regency romance that needs a reviewer.

Today's stats for the UK Kindle version (which still has no reviews):

Monday, 22 August 2011

Fab new writers' campaign from Rachel Harrie: join now!

If you're a writer and blog about your writing, and you want to join forces with other like-minded souls, why not join Rachael Harrie's Writers' Platform-Building Campaign?

You just need to follow a few simple steps to sign up, then you can whizz off and see everyone else's blogs, books, products, tweets and posts, while they come and visit yours in turn.

Sounds like a marvellous, reciprocal, outreach idea. I'm really looking forward to exploring the campaign for the first time.

The opportunity to sign up only last until the end of the month. So join here!

The Earl and His Tiger: Publication Week!

She served as groom to a rake!

I'm delighted and very excited to announce that my third Regency romance is now available on Kindle, as of this weekend.

No doubt thanks to the success of A Most Dangerous Lady, my Regency novella, it's already selling well. I even had a review go up within the first 24 hours of this new book being on sale, which is amazing, since it's a full-length read of 72,000 words.

I'd be hugely grateful for any other reviews, either of The Earl and His Tiger or one of the other two Regency romances I now have available on Kindle.

The Earl and His Tiger is also on the UK Amazon site.
The Earl of Stanton is a rake. Jane serves in disguise as his "tiger", an elite Regency groom. When Stanton discovers her sex, passion flares between them. But what rake ever marries his groom?
For sale now: The Earl & His Tiger.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Melanie Clegg introduces BLOOD SISTERS

Buy BLOOD SISTERS on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

I'm delighted to welcome author and blogger Melanie Clegg to Elizabeth Moss Regencies. I'm closely acquainted with her new full-length novel of the French Revolution, BLOOD SISTERS, which you can sample or buy digitally via the two Amazon links above. It's fantastic to see this thrilling and lavishly written novel on sale at last.

I asked Melanie a few questions about her writing and about BLOOD SISTERS in general, and this is what she said.

Melanie, firstly, many thanks for agreeing to join me at Elizabeth Moss Regencies! Can I start the ball rolling by asking a very mundane question: how long you have been writing?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Well, actually my earliest memories involve learning to read (remembering looking at a book and not being able to read the words is a bit eerie!) and also prancing around in our gardens pretending to Marie Antoinette so I feel like I've been preparing for my books all my life. My first 'book' was a horror story based on Dracula that I wrote at the age of nine in which I killed off most of my classmates and emerged as the heroine of the day - an early example of wish fulfilment fan-fic, I think you will agree.

My first serious novel was written at the age of thirteen and was a re-telling of the poem, The Highwayman. I optimistically sent it off to Penguin and got a very lovely letter back from one of their editors telling me to keep writing.  It's the nicest rejection that I've ever had so I may always have to pretend to be thirteen in future so they'll cushion the blow...

I know where you're coming from! I wrote my first novel at the age of twelve or thirteen too. I had the cheek to send my second one to my mother's agent at the time, the talented Caradoc King, who very kindly told me it had 'too many characters'. It was a sprawling fantasy novel set on several continents at once, as I recall. One day I may return to it, and cull a few of those pesky characters ... 
So how did the initial idea for BLOOD SISTERS come about? Three pampered aristocratic sisters, desperate to escape the bloody turmoil of the Terror in Paris, who change and grow as they come face to face with their own mortality. Can you talk us through its inception?
BLOOD SISTERS was first written when I was fourteen or at least, an early prototype was put together back then as a distraction from doing my GCSEs. It was inspired by my fledgling adoration of the French Revolution, which began that year. I've remained utterly obsessed ever since and BLOOD SISTERS has been rewritten more than once along the way. 

Why the French Revolution in particular? Were you a huge fan of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel (as I was in my teens)?

Initially, I am ashamed to say, my love for the French Revolution was down to Antoine de Saint-Just and the whole stoic-expressioned aristocrats being wheeled off to the guillotine thing. I was very young back then. However, it didn't take long for this to blossom into a passion for the period as a whole - the politics, the art, the fashion and above all the larger than life personalities that seemed to abound. It's a period of unparalleled drama, I think. 

Les Dieux Ont Soif: Anatole France
I wasn't a tremendous Scarlet Pimpernel fan as a child, although I devoured the books and films. My taste is more towards Les Dieux ont Soif by Anatole France, which is a very fine book indeed.

Sounds like something to be added to my teetering To Be Read pile! 
So, Melanie, what's next on the book front for you?
My next book, which I have just finished is another French Revolutionary saga based on The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton. It's about a group of very rich English girls with ambitious mamas who find it impossible to marry into the English upper classes and so instead head off to Paris, where of course English young ladies are all the rage. 
I'm very excited about it! I need a break from all the guillotining and angst though so I'm about to embark on a book set in Whitechapel during the Jack the Ripper murders, which is another passionate interest of mine. No angst there! Um...

You like Jack the Ripper? Why am I not surprised?
Well, it only remains for me to ask, where do you see yourself in five years' time?
Ooh, er, in five years time I'd like to have a mountain of historical fiction listed on Amazon and actually be a Writer That People Have Heard Of. It'd be nice to wander past my books in Sainsbury's.
Is that a terrible thing to say? I'm really passionate about self publishing but I do have the occasional day dreams about seeing my books in shops - mainly because of the respect that being able to say 'I am a published writer' gets one in publishing circles. Silly, I know.

Not at all, Melanie. I have no doubt that you will find yourself staring at your own book on a High Street bookshelf within the next five years. Just keep writing, keep believing, and keep cracking the whip. There's always room for another talented, hard-working writer like yourself.
Thanks!
So that was Melanie, and I thank her heartily for her time. You can read more about Melanie Clegg and this period of history at her very popular historical blog, Madame Guillotine.

And don't forget to grab a copy of BLOOD SISTERS from either Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk along the way. I highly recommend it, and am sure you will be utterly captivated from the first page onwards by the rich charms and heady atmosphere of her prose.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

To Be So Close To Heyer's "Venetia"!

I popped along to the Regency Romance Bestseller's list on Amazon.com today, and spotted that A Most Dangerous Lady had slipped three places again to rest precariously at No. 100.

However, if I tell you that Georgette Heyer is one of my top three favourite authors of all time, and that of her books, "Venetia" is among my top three favourite to read again, and again, and again, you will immediately understand how I felt to see that my funny little novella is only THREE spots away from the priceless "Venetia" Kindle Edition on their Regency bestseller list.

I am still breathless and fanning myself!

To be in such close proximity to such a read-again novel as "Venetia", a miraculous love story I first read and fell in love with as a teenage, well, words cannot express my excitement. Even if it's only next door to my own humble effort for a few brief hours or days, I may never recover from this moment.

Ah, to write a Regency hero as languid and to-die-for as the wicked Damerel, and a heroine as clever, untarnished and straightforward as Venetia ...

No, it can't be done,"stoopid!" We can only marvel at Heyer's skill and understanding of human nature, and hope that our own attempts at Regency romance add rather than detract from the genre.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Back on the Historical Bestseller List!

I'm rapidly falling in love with this little novella, A Most Dangerous Lady. I thought it was cute but short when I wrote it. Now it's my favourite baby.

Currently at No. 87 in the Amazon Historical Romance Bestseller List!



That's in the UK.

For readers on the Amazon.com site, you can purchase it here.

Monday, 8 August 2011

2-star Review of 'The Uncatchable Miss Faversham'

Well, I've been asking for reviews of my books on Kindle, and had a lovely 5-star one the other day from Maggi Andersen for my novella,  A Most Dangerous Ladywhich was very kind of her indeed.

But then today I got a rather sad 2-star review of The Uncatchable Miss Faversham, my first full-length Regency romance.

But at least it's a review, and my first-ever review of Miss Faversham!

If anyone has read either of the books - here's my UK Author Page, so you can browse the books, and there's one on Amazon.com too - I'd love even a short review, if you can manage one.

A Most Dangerous Lady has sold several hundred copies in the States alone, with no refunds, so I know it must be out there on Kindles and computers somewhere. I'm just hoping now that one or two readers might be kind enough to stop by Amazon and leave a few comments when they've read it.

The Earl and his Tiger
In related news, I'm getting ready to launch my third Regency, The Earl and His Tiger, very soon. Just a few minor glitches to clear up. It's my personal favourite among my Regencies to date. I love that book to bits and no one will be able to shake my belief in it!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

#95 on Regency Bestseller list!

I'm so pleased!

I came back from holiday last night to find that my little Regency Novella A Most Dangerous Lady is now at #95 on the Kindle Bestseller list for Regencies.

That's on Amazon.com

Many, many thanks to everyone who's bought a copy. I've had a lovely review there from Maggi Andersen, herself an accomplished historical writer, and that's probably helped push it up into the listings.

I'm feeling pretty chuffed right now. Big grin!