Suddenly Hybrid—Mixing Trad with Indie


After eighteen years of writing, eight of those as an Indie author publishing my own books, I have just signed a two-book deal with a publisher called Bookouture—recently cited by Publisher’s Weekly as ‘Britain’s hottest digital publisher.’

Bookouture has been in my radar for a while. The name is so me, I thought. It sounded so chic, somehow, as if the editors were all wearing designer clothes, carried the manuscripts in Prada handbags and walked around in Jimmy Choo shoes. The office would have Chanel no 5 wafting through the air conditioning and they’d only ever drink vintage champagne and eat caviar and croissants for breakfast. Heaven.

Joking aside, when I looked at their website and saw the great books they publish and the lovely covers they design, I thought they might be the right fit for me. I also read some of their books in my genre and loved them. So… why not jump in and have a go? Feeling I had nothing to lose, I submitted The Road Trip, my just completed book, in early December. They made me an offer in early January and the rest, as they say, is history. I signed a two-book contract last week.

It feels like a whole new chapter is opening in my writing life and I’m both excited and nervous. I hope I can live up to the expectations, but with the help of my terrific new editor Christina Demosthenous , I’m sure I will.

Some of my author colleagues might wonder though… Why sign with a publisher when I have been happily (and quite successfully) self-publishing for over eight years? This might look like I am now contradicting all the glowing things I’ve said about self-publishing, all the cheering and being proud to be an Indie and how I’d never give my work away to one of ‘them’ ever again, like a mantra. Was it a case of ‘the lady doth protest too much?’ Or sour grapes about not being traditionally published?

Not at all.  I meant what I said and I still do. But I feel Bookouture is a new kind of publisher—the kind that really ‘get’ e-publishing and the ever changing market. I also think that this new kind of publishing has happened because of what we as Indies have done. We made the market what it is today, and I’m very proud of what we have all achieved.

I will probably mix self-publishing with trad publishing along the way, like a lot of so-called hybrid authors. Exciting times ahead, indeed.

The Road Trip, My first Bookouture book will be published in June. You can read all about it on the Bookouture blog.

Thoughts on ALEPPO- think small


Two years ago, I wrote a romantic novel called Hot Pursuit. Rita, the heroine, falls in love with a war correspondent who reports on the war in Syria. Horrified by the images and articles about the atrocities in the news, she thinks there’s nothing she can do to help the victims. It’s too big, too much. Whatever she does would be a drop in the ocean, so what’s the point? But then her friend Fran tells her to think small:

“One child saved, one mother being able to feed her baby. Every human being saved is worth it, even if you can only save a few,” she says.

I remember that today as the terrible images from Aleppo keep hammering us.

And that’s what we need to do; think small, because together we can do something big. Donate a dollar, a euro, a pound or two to one of the help organisations out there who so desperately need our help. Doctors Without Borders, The White Helmets, The Red Cross, Save The Children and many more, not difficult to find. Get together with friends, ask them to do the same; organise coffee mornings or just get together and put a few coins into a box. Many, many people coming together, all thinking small, will then help in a big way.

Think small, then do it and make it big.

Oh to be in Ireland…

-On St Patrick’s Day…

irish 8

☘ ☘ ☘ ☘ ☘

Even if you’re not Irish, this is the place to be today. The best place to enjoy the beautiful scenery, music, Guinness and most of all THE CRAIC! Yes, craic, not crack. It’s the Gaelic word for fun and shenanigans. Plenty of that over here today! ☘

You can’t be here? Then why not try a virtual tour of Ireland through some great Irish stories, like Hot Property, my rom-com set in Kerry, or the two hilarious Boston-Irish detective stories I co-wrote with Boston-Irish crime writer Pete Morin, Full Irish and Half Irish. All three are on a $0.99 special until the weekend. Craic and other shenanigans guaranteed!

No better way to enjoy The Emerald Isle from afar. So go on, download the books to your kindle, fasten your seat belt and let us take you there.

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!

☘ ☘ ☘ ☘ ☘

P.S Half Irish is now on Netgalley, where you can download it for reviewing.

Half Irish Cover final SMALL AVATAR

The Diary of an Eccentric. (day one)


I have decided to become and eccentric. Okay, I know that requires a lot of work, but I’m only at the beginning. I had a vague idea that an eccentric was someone whose socks never match, has more than 13 cats and has weird things in the fridge. That doesn’t sound that challenging I thought (except for the cats, as I’m allergic), so I googled it to see if there were more things to live up to . I came up with this definition: “a person of unconventional and slightly strange views or behaviour”.  So me!

I can’t do the cat thing, but I love birds. The first thing I do every morning is put food on the bird table and then I watch them arrive and stand in the kitchen and watch them feed. I know all the species in our garden,and I make up things they say to each other- like “hey this is my bird table, get outta here,”and so on. I also talk to my plants and urge them to grow. I even say “sorry” when I nip off a dead leaf. I’m a writer,so that makes me eccentric right there. I sometimes feel that the characters in my stories are more real than real people, and I talk to them.

Eccentricity is possibly in my genes. My grandmother, who lived to  be 104, was a great eccentric. Very unconventional and had very strange views. And her behaviour? More than slightly eccentric. She used to put dried fish skin in her coffee to ‘clarify’ it. Something to do with the poor quality of coffee in WWI. When she finally, at the age of 102, ended up in a nursing home, she  told everyone that the doctor was in love with her. “He keeps coming into my room to take my blood pressure,” she said.

So I have a lot to live up to. I’m going to work hard to be the most eccentric person ever. It won’t be easy. I have to shed all my hang ups and that polite upbringing first. But I just took the first step. I wrote this blog post. But it’s going to take a long time to reach full eccentricity.

I’d love to hear from more seasoned eccentrics. Any tips most appreciated.


Villa Caramel-the love-it or-hate-it book I wrote for fun


As I sit on a terrace in Antibes on the French Riviera in mid-October and watch the evening sky turn turquoise with orange and pink streaks from the setting sun, sipping rosé  and-okay-flicking through reviews of my books on my phone, I reflect on this  book that I wrote about twelve years ago.

I remember how, at the time, I had this idea to write a spoof, or romantic comedy, if you like, poking a little fun at both the romance genre and the European Union and the ins and outs of this huge organisation. I saw it up close and personal during my eleven years of being a EU wife, and felt I needed to demystify and perhaps even reveal some of the corruption and the sometimes ridiculous events I witnessed. It became Villa Caramel .

Feeling that Brussels was not quite the romantic setting,or even that interesting, I moved the whole cast to St Tropez, where the characters in my story would continue networking, flirt, wine and dine while falling in and out of love under the hot sun of the south of France.

I piled it all in: glamour, fashion, food and wine, sun, sand and sex,laced with my own brand of humour. Eva, the straight-laced but boring (according to some reviews) career woman with her two slutty (again,according to reviews) step-daughters mingle with the jet-set and the hot men they meet.

I had a lot of fun writing it. I never for an instant meant it to be serious or meaningful.

Reviews have been- mixed. But that’s life- and writing. You can’t please all the people all the time.

I’m only happy if I pleased some of my readers… from time to time.

Stigma for Breakfast-How Indie Authors are Winning

As a self published author since 2010, I, like many of my colleagues, have had to struggle with the the general consensus that self publishing is only for those writers whose work isn’t good enough to attract an agent or publisher. It was the so-called ‘stigma’, which I, as a romance author, was used to. To quote Hugh Howey: ‘romance authors eat stigma for breakfast’.

This attitude is slowly disappearing. In fact, readers generally don’t actually notice who published a book they want to read. If the cover and blurb, and the sample chapters are good, they’ll buy and read, and often find a new author they like. This is not fiction, it’s a solid fact. The proof of this particular pudding is now staring publishers in the face- and they don’t like it.

My friend and colleague Dean Crawford just posted a very interesting thread on the forum I run for Indie writers. He writes in the sci fi and thriller genres and is what is know as a ‘hybrid’ author, which means that he is both traditionally (by Simon & Schuster).  and self-published author. (I’ve read and loved his new thriller,Stone Cold).

Deans insight into publishing is second to none, and he says it better than anyone. Here is some of what he predicts:

A big traditional publisher (one of the big 5) have recently shut down their sci-fi and fantasy imprint, with many redundancies. And another, nearly as big publisher has likewise done the same with their own s/f & fantasy genre imprint, the market currently 18% down in that genre according to figures within the industry. This is despite ( or perhaps because of ) the same genre being currently wildly popular within the independent community. The effects of the publisher’s shift in income, as huge numbers of sales move to independent authors ( despite the protestations of the Big Five that “it’s not happening” ) is obvious. Hugh and Data Guy’s conclusions from the Author Earnings Report is being affirmed by real-world events now in publishing.

Interesting, don’t you think? What this says to me is that self-published authors in this genre are galloping ahead like thoroughbreds on speed, while the heavier horses are still looking at the fences and wondering if it’s safe to jump.

And more: what publishers have to do but are reluctant to admit:

Predictions for the major publishers now seem to show economies of scale producing further mergers ( and shut downs ) of imprints into the bigger houses, which themselves are reliant now upon major names for a vastly disproportionate volume of their income. That said, nobody believes that the market will disappear entirely – only that it will have to rebuild itself from the ground up as it did once before in the 1980s and again after the loss of the Net Book Agreement. Bottom line – editors in New York and London, in glossy offices, can keep pretending it’s not happening, but it is and it’s not slowing down, it’s speeding up. Indies are doing it cheaper, better and more quickly and as for hybrid authors, it’s getting harder for publishers to make advance deals that live up to potential earnings for authors who have the option of going independent with any given title. It’s not just about the size of the advance anymore: an established independent author can reasonably estimate sales in the long term, and judge that against the 65% they might net off a publisher’s advance. Royalty rates and non-compete clauses in contracts further muddy the traditional route’s waters and represent a mark against any savvy author selling out for a deal.

Still want to wait for that publishing deal?

Or.. to quote Dean:

I’ve been at several major writing conventions recently, and over the last few months been talking to other authors, some of whom sell millions traditionally, and others millions independently. The trend I keep seeing again and again is that even the authors who are happily full-time employed by major publishing houses are considering moving into independent publishing: most have unsold manuscripts on their hard drives that, until now, had no place to go. Furthermore, authors like myself who publish both independently and through publishers are leaning heavily toward the Indie route ( I write one book a year for my agent, and four to five for myself! )

Deans advice (which I’m following to the letter):

In summary to all of this, it might be worth everybody who publishes independently to really knuckle down and get going with their marketing, their writing and their market research, because I think it’s quite likely that over the next two years more and more traditional authors, well versed in how to sell books, experienced in editing and marketing, keen to further their careers and perhaps able to independently recover their backlist and go Indie with it ( as per Konrath et all ) will start doing so in droves. At the most recent international festival I attended, more authors than ever were asking me about independent publishing, all of them currently published by traditional houses. More and more of them were concerned about their future income. At the same time, I met more and more indie authors attending than ever before, all of them happily full-time and actually extremely excited about their futures, few of them with any interest in approaching agents or publishing houses for deals.

But… here is my take: maybe trad published authors do have good back lists (if the manage to wrangle the rights out of the greedy hands of their publishers)  BUT Indie (as in self-published) authors have a huge advantage because we are way ahead. We have learned the skills of self-publishing the hard way. We know how to format for the e-book market, whether by hiring a formatter or doing it ourselves. We know where to find good cover artists, we have teams of great beta readers and we know where to find good editors. We also know how to market by promoting our books through the best channels and social media. This all takes time and practice. Trad published authors will have to push themselves far out of their comfort zone and learn how to do it themselves. That takes time and hard work. Good luck to them. In the meantime, we will work even harder to produce good books at a pace the traditional publishing industry never could.

I was once a traditionally published author. When I decided to go out on my own, I was lucky enough to get the rights of my books back so I could put up a small but solid backlist. Now, I’m a proud Indie and earning an income I never thought possible.

The final word from Dean:

Sharpen your pencils, folks, and get to work! The avalanche of new material that’s likely to appear in the near future will possibly change the marketplace forever. It’ll only get harder to stand out but maybe that’s a good thing, because one other thing I noticed was that a lot of traditionally published authors remained tight-lipped when it came to sharing information. The Indies were not, and the sole independent-author panel at the last convention, despite being buried in the graveyard slot on a Sunday morning, was once again one of the busiest of the entire weekend..

So that’s what I’m doing. My pencil is sharpened and I’m ready for the scary but exciting future of publishing.


If you want to find out more about dean Crawford here are few links:



US Author Page:

Beating the Billionaires


When I wrote Hot Property over two years ago, I decided to create a new kind of hero- the antithesis to what was trending at the time- the lonely billionaire. I know this is-or was- the man every romance reader dreamed of: rich, handsome with a lonely heart, looking for true love. Sorry but…yawn.

I wanted to present a challenge to the reader, a hero who didn’t have the means to offer the heroine a life of glamour and leisure, who couldn’t take her to the hot spots of the world, fly her to Paris for lunch, or give her diamonds and pearls. My hero would be, okay, sexy, but a man who worked hard to keep bread on the table and the wolf from the door. Someone who had other values and ideals, preferring the great outdoors to fast cars, yachts and fine dining.

So I conjured up Paudie, a Kerry sheep farmer, good looking, poor but honest, hot tempered, strong, stubborn and very, very Irish. He loves animals, the great outdoors, Irish music and a well-pulled pint. He has bright blue eyes and a smile to melt a thousand hearts. I fell in love with him myself as I wrote the story, and now tens of thousands of readers have done the same.

I didn’t really expect it or plan it. I thought I was taking a huge risk. But I never write to a formula or try to find the zeitgeist of the moment- which is impossible.

Hot Property is now available for free in all e-book stores worldwide. It has seen over 20000 downloads on Amazon to date, and received rave reviews. Many readers have sent me messages swooning over Paudie. Must be that Irish charm- or perhaps that readers now want the simple life in a beautiful landscape, rather than champagne and caviar.

Is this a new trend? In that case, I’m proud to have been one of the first to kick it off.

Fun Fan Group for Readers of Romance

11367258_s Just a quick note to let you know that I have started a Facebook group for those who want to chat about my books, my writing and other totally frivolous subjects, like fashion, books, movies, shoes, jokes, celebrities, gossip and anything that will provide a break from the miseries of the world. I’ll even post recipes and fitness tips and ask readers for feedback on my current work in progress. Who knows, we might even write a book together? If you want to join in the fun, go HERE I promise you won’t be bored! See you there!

Creativity in Tandem: How I Became a Co-author

How this co-writing partnership started and keeps going…

The Woolf

By Pete Morin

Image courtesy Pete Morin Image courtesy: Pete Morin

I discovered the peculiar art of novel writing in 2007, when I wrote Diary of a Small Fish as a means of grieving my father’s death. It was an exhilarating period of about two-and-a-half years until I finally typed “the end.”

This didn’t daunt me, since I had been schooled that first novels are usually kind of rough sledding. Surely, after I got that under my belt, the next one would go faster! Yes, yes, it would. I set a goal of one year for #2. Twenty eight months later, I finished. I started a third, and took six months to get about 30K in.

By this point, the indie revolution was in full thrust, and hundreds of novelists, both Big Name and small, were cranking out novels every 3-4 months. What did they have that I didn’t?

It was obvious to me…

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