Oh to be in Ireland…

-On St Patrick’s Day…

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☘ ☘ ☘ ☘ ☘

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.

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US-UK, What a Difference!

US-UK the contrast   I have noticed through the years of publishing my e-books worldwide, that there is a great difference in the settings- or should I say countries- to which US and UK readers want to escape. As I have had quite a globe-trotting life, I set my novels in the countries where I have lived- and they are quite a few. The places in which I have lived and loved the most are France and Ireland. (Also my home country- Sweden, of course, which was featured in Swedish for Beginners).

I have often been told that my sense of place is one of the best features of my books, and that the readers feel they are ‘there’ as they read. I think this is because I think very visually and feel myself I’m right in the middle of the setting I describe as I write. I ‘see’ the beautiful vistas of France and Ireland, I feel the heat, and smell the herbs and garlic of a French coq au vin, or an Irish stew with fresh soda bread. I swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean, or walk up the grassy hills of Ireland with the wind in my hair. My greatest wish was to take my readers along with me on these trips, and if I have achieved that, I’m very happy.

My e-books sell mainly in America and Britain. But these readers have very different tastes. American readers love to ‘travel’ to Ireland, especially the wild west coast, as described in my Kerry Romance Series, the first of which,Hot Property, is free right now. UK readers, on the other hand, love going to France in their imagination, which is why my brand new Riviera romance, Selling Dreams, along with my comedy/satire, Villa Caramel, have seen amazing sales in the UK all winter.

I have my own theory about this. I think Americans love Ireland, and thus like reading about it. Many American have roots in Ireland and there is a great infinity between the two countries. People in Britain, on the other hand, have a great love of France and all things French. It’s more exotic and the weather is better, not to mention the food and wine. I can’t argue with that.

This chilly winter, I have myself, escaped to the French Riviera, and continue to do so while I write the second book in what is to become The Riviera Series.

After that, I might return to Ireland… Who knows? In any case, I’m not complaining. Vive la difference!

A Full Irish that Won’t Make You Fat

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Is there anything nicer than tucking into a traditional Irish breakfast? A naughty treat that’s good for the soul, but perhaps not so good for your figure…

But there is another kind of Full Irish that won’t impact on your waistline – a sizzling political thriller, set in Boston and Ireland, that will have you at the edge of your seat until you have turned the very last  page. It might even make you laugh as you read the tongue-in-cheek prose and the mad dialogue.

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As a former fitness teacher and health freak, I urge you to turn away from the sausages and bacon, and resist the smell of that sinful plate of temptation. Have a cup of tea and a slice of Irish soda bread instead, and open your Kindle to enjoy this fun read. If you pre-order now, you’ll get it at the rock-bottom price of 99 cents!

ORDER IT HERE AND GET IT IN YOUR KINDLE ON THE 1ST OF DECEMBER

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That empty feeling-when you have published your book…

 

 

I have just published my thirteenth novel, Hot Pursuit , the third and last book in my popular Kerry series. (or ‘Hot’ series, if you prefer). It took me about five months to write, including editing, proofreading, proofreading and more—proofreading. You might think I feel relieved the work is done, that the book is out there in cyberspace to be enjoyed by, hopefully, a lot of readers.

Yes, I’m happy. And also very relieved and proud of my achievement. Writing a novel takes a lot of hard work, soul searching and brain bashing. So having finished a novel that is as good as I can make it is very satisfying.

But then… I miss it. I miss all the characters that became my friends during this time. I miss the fun, the heartache, the wrestling with all their problems. Letting go of that world I created and so enjoyed spending time in was a huge wrench. For five months or so, I lived in Rita’s skin for part of the day, created her problems and tried to solve them. She was me, in a way, and I was her. With her, I fell in love with the hero and tried to make their story as romantic but also as believable as I could. I did my best to describe the setting and truly felt I was there as I wrote. I wore the clothes, drank the wine, danced and made love along with Rita. I was sad for her and laughed at her jokes, and got very, very annoyed with anyone who wasn’t nice to her. I loved her little flat in the outskirts of Dublin, furnished just the way I’d like it myself. I enjoyed the long walks she took on the pier and ‘saw’ the beautiful scenery. The peripheral characters were also fun to write and they were as vivid to me as the people I meet in real life. It all became such a fascinating world and I loved spending time in it.

My baby that has just left the nest

My baby that has just left the nest

I often wonder why writers actually write. What makes them put those first words together for their very first book? I know what made me do it. It all happened during a time when I had a lot of sadness. I started writing a story that was full of light and laughter, where nobody was sad or died or suffered from an illness. My escape, in turn, became that of others who, perhaps, read that story in order to get a break from their own hardships. It helped me. I hope it helped someone else too.

As I went on writing, I drew on my experiences and my stories became more serious, hopefully deeper and more realistic. I feel I have grown so much as a writer since that bright, fun debut novel I wrote nearly fifteen years ago. But every time I’m finished, there is that huge feeling of separation—of having had to leave people I love.

Writing a book is like having a baby. Like carrying this person for nine months and actually feeling you know this small creature. While you’re keeping it inside you, it’s yours alone to nurture and love. But when it’s born, you throw it out there, into the big bad world for all to see. Your baby is the most beautiful thing in the world to you. But not to other people. When the ‘baby’ comes out, you have to stand back and wait for the reactions of others, of readers and reviewers who might not like this new creation of yours. Worst of all—they might even ignore it.

I miss my ‘baby’ and the time when it was only mine. But toward the end it was hard and painful, when I had to do all that proofreading and editing and formatting and reading over and over again.

But then… as with having a baby, you forget the pain and say: ah, why not? I’ll have another one…

As my stories are very character driven, it doesn’t take long before another heroine pops into my head and starts having problems I have to solve for her. Right now, there’s Flora, who has just arrived in Antibes in the south of France to take up employment in a real estate agency with a very dodgy staff. She bumps into this dishy Frenchman and then, well, the rest is still in my head.

But parallel to that, in a kind of twilight zone existence, there is also the heroine of ‘Full Irish’, the crime novel I’m co-writing with fellow crime author Pete Morin. Finola McGee, political reporter for the Irish Herald who, with Boston lawyer Paul Forté of Diary of a Small Fish fame, cracks the case of political corruption across the Atlantic,  is a feisty heroine I’m also beginning to bond with.

Two ‘babies’ this time. I’m sure I’ll miss them both when the stories have reached their conclusion. But the remedy is, as always, starting the next one.

A story to capture your heart

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Sometimes you come across a book that stays with you for a long time after you’ve turned the last page. A book that surprises you and takes you on a journey that is exciting, romantic and spiritual. Vinegarone by US author Douglas  Carlyle is such a book.

The description:

Vinegarone is nothing more than rugged land with few inhabitants and little to hope for. Or is it? 

Jeep Allhands says that time bends in Vinegarone, and that life as we know it emanates from a large tree – the Lone Madrone. A descendant of the original Native Americans who called this part of Texas home, Jeep maintains a sanctuary for a handful of homeless men who bask in the humility of this foreboding land as they mend their souls. 

Life with his clan and Kimmisue, the daughter of the only woman he ever loved, gets turned on its end when Jeep befriends a confused, homeless woman, Candi LaRue. Jeep does what he does best. He heals Candi’s physical and emotional wounds. Afterwards, he integrates her into the odd mix of personalities at home. Just as all seems to be going right, Candi recalls what brought her to Texas in the first place. She was hunting a criminal, and she can’t give up the chase. 

There’s one catch, nobody ever leaves Vinegarone…

 ~~~~~~

I had read and enjoyed Douglas Carlyle’s first published book, In Search of the Fuller Brush Man, a compelling family drama, and expected the next one to be very much the same. But as I started to read the first pages, I realised that this new story was completely different both in the theme and setting. The narrative voice was much more raw and the characters damaged and vulnerable. This was no cosy family story but a spiritual journey that would move me to write this review:

Writer and teacher John Gardner once talked about what he called ‘the fictive dream’, which means that good fiction does its job by creating a dream state for the reader, and as long as the writer manages to maintain that dream state, the reader won’t ‘wake up’ from it and will continue to ‘live’ in the fictional world the writer has created. In my mind, Douglas Carlyle succeeded in doing just that with this book.

I haven’t given five stars to this book because it’s perfect or the writing flawless but because I was so ‘lost’ in the story, I ignored the imperfections in parts of the plot and some of the (very few) flaws in the writing. The characters became, for the duration of my reading, my friends and my family and I cared enormously for Jeep, Candi and Kimmisue.

I should also mention that there are very few male writers who can write convincingly from a woman’s point of view. Douglas Carlyle did a good job here, as the women’s voices rang true to me.

The setting was very vivid and I really felt the hot sun, the dry air and the dust and saw the wide open spaces and the beautiful scenery. (This would make a wonderful movie). The paranormal theme was not noticeable at first and the reader was introduced to the spirit world of the Native Americans little by little, which worked a lot better than if it had been thrown in my face at once. I have never been that taken with the supernatural in books, even if I believe that there are things beyond this world that we don’t understand. I don’t usually pick up a book with this theme. But this time I’m glad I did.

Meet a very interesting author  

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Hi Doug, thank you for agreeing to appear on my blog and answer a few questions. I know you  now live on your ranch in Texas and divide your time between the ranch and your work as a paramedic. You seem to have had a very exciting life so far with travels to some exotic places.

What made you embark on a  writing career?

I was fortunate to have had an exciting career in the electronics business. I worked for Philips for my final four years. During that time I traveled extensively between the U.S., Europe, and Asia. I met incredible people everywhere and experienced many marvelous cultures and countries. When I retired from that industry, I sorely missed it. I began writing about some of my travels, slowly adding some characters, a bit of a storyline, and before long, I had a novel in progress. I shared some of my writing with friends and they pushed me for more. I joined the Writers’ League of Texas and Houston Writer’s Guild, began attending seminars and conferences, met with agents and publishers, and soon I had one novel complete and the next one underway. The rest is history.

What inspired you to write Vinegarone?

I led a dual career most of my adult life. I was an engineer and business executive by day, and a paramedic by night. Quite honestly, I would change out of a suit and tie at 5pm, and into a uniform with a badge, then back to a suit and tie the next morning. All that was missing was the telephone booth.
I call my life on the streets my “medical ministry.” Nothing comes close to the euphoria I feel when I help a person in need of my services. I can truthfully say there are people alive today because of what I was able to do for them. Others are much better off. Sadly for others, I was able to do too little, too late. But without a doubt, caring for another person is something I am compelled to do.
One night about seven years ago, I was called to treat a very ill and mentally deranged woman. When I took her to the hospital from which she had just been discharged, I was met at the door and asked to take her away – something quite illegal, an immoral. I took her into the hospital instead. Over the next few hours, I continued to work with the hospital staff to find a suitable resolution to this poor woman’s situation. We were successful. In a sense, she became Candi LaRue in my novel.

The paranormal/spirtual element is very strong in this book. Does this correspond to your own beliefs?

Absolutely. I am a trained scientist by degree, but I also believe in the unbelievable. Though I am Christian by faith, I am not evangelical. I honor and respect the beliefs of others be they Hindi, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, and shamanistic. There are many aspects shared by all faiths. To that end, I feel all humans are “one” in some manner. Vinegarone touches on this subject. Vinegarone is where the middle of nowhere touches the center of the universe.

The sex scenes in your later work are quite raw and descriptive. Has this caused any raised eyebrows among your local readers?

I had to have the written permission of my parents to read Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in 1968 due to its language. I was thirteen at the time. That same year I had to have their permission to go to the theater with my English class to see the movie Romeo and Juliet because of a nude scene. Then came Woodstock, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Deepthroat, and social mores were upended.
Today, I find social mores to be largely made of elastic. They take on one form in public, and another in private. Some of my scenes have in fact created some buzz in my socially conservative community. Yet, I receive private accolades from many of these same people, and they ask me when my next novel will be available.
I draw the line before I get to graphic sex. I get heavy into innuendo and I lead my readers to understand what is taking place without telling them every detail. I also have a wife and three daughters who read my novels. I am not perverse. There is nothing wrong in my mind if a couple has sex. Some of my sex scenes have been called gratuitous. Well, here’s a news flash. There is a lot of gratuitous sex in our world today. The vast majority of my readers live a bit vicariously through my writing. Cheers to them.
The characters in your novels come from different walks of life. How did you handle the way they speak?
Getting back to Catcher in the Rye, that is one of the greatest examples of the use of colloquial language. Each of my novels has a different tongue. In Search of the Fuller Brush Man has a more “educated” and “professional” sound with some tough words thrown in. Vinegarone takes place on the streets of a large urban setting, and in the frontier regions of Texas. The dialog depicts what I hear day in and day out in these settings. The language can be unpleasant. Sometimes reality is just that. Boundaries has a few distinct characteristics of its own. First, the European and Asian characters never use contractions simply because I have never in all of my travels heard people from these regions speak in contractions. Secondly, I have one chapter that uses German extensively. Why? Because it is the language in which I would expect two Germans to speak. The reader can figure out what is going on through context.

With your busy schedule, how do you find the time to write?

Writing is the easy part. Inspiration is the tough nut to crack. Once I experience that occasional, random catalyst, words flow. I am a fast typist. My goal is one novel per year until I decide to no longer write. It takes me about six months to write a novel then another six to turn it into something I want to share with the world.

Does your work as a paramedic give you a lot of inspiration? Do the people you meet end up in your stories?

My work as a paramedic evokes all of my emotions. That is the creative energy I need to become inspired. Some of the worst experiences of my life became words in my novels. So have some of the best experiences. The characters in my novels are based upon people I have met in all of my life’s journeys – some more loosely than others. Some of the characteristics of the protagonist are based upon characteristics I think are, or I wish were, intrinsic to me. Given that the central character in my next novel is female, that is posing to be a worthy challenge.

I know that you recently published your third novel,Boundaries (a psychological thriller), which had me on the edge of my seat. What are you working on now?

I am venturing into a crime series. The main character is a sassy, sexy, smart woman named Cat Kavanagh. I’m having far too much fun writing it. The first book in the series is called Book Review. It is about a serial killer who may be the author of his own murder mystery novels. The second book of the series is on the drawing board, but I expect to give it the title, Eigengrau. It will deal more with nightmares and a secret contained within a home.

That sounds amazing!  I can’t wait to read it. Please hurry up and publish it!

Doug’s website, where you can find out more about the man, his life and his work. http://www.dbcarlyle.com/

Doug’s Amazon author page can be found here.

Literary cupcakes

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I was talking to my husband about my books over dinner tonight, after my recent publication of Hot Gossip. I said; “they’re romantic comedies–or  aka ‘chick-lit'”. He thought for a moment, then said: “they’re like literary cupcakes. Pretty, delicious, beautifully baked with a very moreish taste.”

Then he pulled back and apologised, thinking I’d be offended and that it denigrated my work in some way. He does love my books, he said; “the romance, the humor, the one liners , the beautiful settings, the quirky characters, you do it so well.” (great back pedaling).

I know he does and he is not alone, judging by sales. But I wasn’t offended. I thought the description was so spot-on: chick-lit=literary cupcakes, brilliant! That’s how I enjoy chick-lit books by other authors. I love the taste, the buzz of the sweetness, the many flavors and the pretty icing, especially if it has a cherry on the top. Books written with gusto and humour, that often make you  laugh out loud and bring a little romance into your life… Addictive, seductive and fun. What’s wrong with that? Nothing at all.

I’m proud of my cupcakes and I will keep ‘baking’ more for a long time.

And… they’re calorie free..

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A new (ad)venture- or just a comeback.

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I have just set up an author page on Facebook. I have resisted this move for a long time but now I feel I’m ready. The reason for this is that I recently went back to writing romantic fiction after a long time. I took a little break while I wrote two historical novels, A Woman’s Place and Sonja’s Place and my two virtual detective/romantic suspense novels, Virtual Strangers and Virtual Suspects.

The historical novels are based on the lives of my great-aunt and her daughter, whose life stories were so moving, I just had to write about them. The detective stories were such fun and such a great adventure, co-writing with the amazing Ola Saltin, a well-known Swedish script writer. Those experiences helped me grow as a writer and I believe my writing is now so much better and deeper because I had to really work hard to write in other genres.

I discussed my writing recently with a friend. She told me I my writing should be more ‘commercial’, more ‘popular’ in order to sell. She said the ‘zeitgiest’ out there is what I have to plug into.

But no, I can’t. Because that’s not why I write. I feel I have to be true to myself and not glance sideways or upwards and then write to suit the market, whatever that is. I have to stay true to those who read my books and like them. If that is a very small circle, so be it. I write from my heart and my experiences. My observations of people and my surroundings. Little things fire off ideas. Landscapes, light, nature, sounds, smells, fun dialogue, great one-liners and quirky characters. All of that make up the fabric of my stories.

I’m happy if anyone likes to read what I write.

(and if you ‘like’ my author page, you will find out what all of this is about)

My e-book Experience

I published three of my books as e-books on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle in the beginning of February. Two of those books were from my previously published backlist (‘Fresh Powder’ and ‘Finding Margo’), the third, ‘Swedish for Beginners’, my soon to be published fifth novel. All the books had been professionally edited and proofread, which, to me, is  a must when uploading a novel that you offer for sale. In any case, e-book readers are extremely discerning and expect books they buy online to meet a certain standard. And if they find the book wanting in any way, they will post a bad review on the book’s page for all to see (not happened to me yet).

I priced all my books at $2.99, which seems to hit the right middle ground between not too expensive and and high enough to earn the hard-working author a little bit of money. Priced any higher, the sales slow down and earnings are less. Imagine 10 books @, say, $5.99, compared to several hundred @$2.99. I’m no good at maths but the sales figures and the ‘grand total’ at the bottom of my sales report each day speak for themselves.

It wasn’t the earnings that delighted me the most, however, it was the direct contact with readers. I have been able to reach people right across the globe; in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and all over the US with the e-book versions of my novels. They have sent me e-mails and ‘talked’ to me on various forums, telling me they enjoyed my stories. They also put some wonderful reviews on all my books. The added advantage with e-books is also that they never go out of date. Nobody takes them off the shelves to make space for new releases. They are there for as long as I want them to be and will keep selling (I hope) without going out of date or coming to the end of their shelf-life.

So, in all a very positive move. I am planning to upload more e-books in the future. It appears that if readers like a book, they will look for others by the same author.

A few points to remember:

1) Make sure your book is properly edited, proofread and formatted (I had mine formatted by a professional, which cost me around $50 per book).

2) Have a nice cover. It’s important to spend a little time to do this, whether you do it yourself or get a cover designer do it for you.

3) Promote your book on Face book, Twitter and readers’ and writers’ forums. I like Amazon’s Kindle Authors Forum and Kindle Boards.

The e-book market is already growing very fast in the US and it won’t be long before it picks up in the rest of the world. I don’t think ‘real’ books will ever disappear and e-books will probably not ever be THE market. But it’s going to be a big part of it.

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