Update, June 2022. Time Flies!

Welcome back! It’s been almost two months since my last post, and the least I can do is offer an explanation and tell you what’s been going on in my life in the last few months.

January 2022

I’ll have to start in January. I spent most of this month in hospital with my mother, who died on the 31st. I’m not yet ready to share the feelings I struggled with at the time, but I’m sure I will, at a later date. I grew and learned a great deal from the experience, and when I’m ready, I’ll share some universal aspects which may resonate with some of my readers and fellow bloggers.

January and February flew by. Fortunately, my husband and my daughter helped me with practical matters, such as paperwork, donating my mother’s clothes, sorting out cupboards and the like.

I’ve also been helping my three children and five grandchildren as needed, which is wonderful, but time-consuming, although I wouldn’t change or give up a single moment I spend with my family.

February 2022

Snow Moon at Eyre Hall, Book Five in The Eyre Hall Series was published on 18th February. Fortunately all the pre-publication work, such as editing, cover design, kindle formatting, etc., was almost finished in January. So the publication went smoothly, although I did very little active promotion, which is probably why it only has few reviews.

Here’s Snow Moon at Eyre Hall on Amazon.com, and on Amazon UK.

Here’s the international link to my Amazon author page, where you can find all the novels in The Eyre Hall Series.

March 2022

Around March I started getting my bearings and some semblance of a ‘normal’ year started.

Last year, I finally decided it was time to publish my first novel in Spanish, Antes de que nacieras. Again, fortunately it was at the printers, ready to see the light in December, so, although it was published 10th March, all the pre-publishing work had been done during 2021. Here’s the cover and for those of you who read Spanish, here’s the Amazon.com link, Amazon.co.uk link, and the Amazon.es link There’s also an International Amazon link here

I haven’t said much about Antes de que Nacieras on Rereading Jane Eyre, because it’s in Spanish and I set up another blog for that purpose. Fortunately, I set up my Spanish blog in 2021. Here’s my Spanish Blog, where you can find out more about this novel, which I plan to translate into English in 2022.

My Spanish blog is called: Descubriendo paisajes infinitos, from a quote by the Chilean author, Isabel Allende. It means Discovering Infinite Landscapes.

Translation: Reading is like looking through many windows that open onto an infinite landscape.

I have been busy promoting my Antes de que nacieras (Before You Were Born) on my Spanish blog, facebook, twitter, Instagram, and doing a few book signings, and reading club meetings and discussions, and I admit, I’ve somewhat neglected actively promoting my Eyre Hall Series.

April 2022

I took part in two blogging challenges, one on YouTube channels on Rereading Jane Eyre and one on themes from my novel, Antes de que nacieras on Descubriendo Paisajes Infinitos.

I reached letter K on Rereading Jane Eyre and X on Descubriendo Paisajes Infinitos, which was a feat in itself, writing two blog posts a day, for most of the month, especially bearing in mind that I hadn’t prepared any of the posts before starting the challenges.

May 2022

I’ve been going to German classes for a year, some online, and others face to face, and May is final exam time. So here I am, at 63, learning one of the hardest European languages! I suffered greatly and passed my exam for the first A1 level, which means I’ll torture myself further next year and try for A2.

The reason I’m learning German is that my daughter is living in Munich, Germany, and will remain there for the foreseeable future, which means I spend summer months there and my grandchildren will speak German as well as English and Spanish. I’m hoping to learn enough to be able to interact with neighbours, shopkeepers etc, at a basic level. I’m a retired language teacher, so I know it takes time and patience to (really) learn a language, so I’m investing three years which I hope will be enough!

Foto from Pixabay

Kill Your Darlings!

May has also been word killer month! ‘Kill your darlings’ is a quote attributed to Stephen King, William Faulkner and Kurt Vonnegut, among others. It is a hard exercise for a writer, but so necessary.

This is why I’ve been re-revising Ghost Wife, a novel I started some years ago, on and off, and finished last year, but I wanted to tighten it up further, so I’ve completely revised it and reduced it by almost 3,000 words! Which, quite honestly, I never thought I could do without so many words!

June 2022

Ghost Wife is now at the final proof-reading stage, before it can be uploaded on Amazon as an ebook and paperback, to be published on 13th July.

Ghost Wife is a contemporary romantic mystery. I’ve subtitled it as a chilling romantic suspense. It’s available at a special launch price of 0.99. Here’s the International link.

Click on the image for Amazon UK link.

Ghost Wife on Amazon.com

I’ll tell you more about Ghost Wife shortly, for the moment, I’ll leave you with the Blurb.

Ghost Wife: From the Blurb

They call me Maria, and I’m a ghost. Rosewood Hall is my mausoleum, and my room is a dank cell, hidden within its clammy walls.
There are other people in this house. They can’t see me. They know I’m here, but they pretend I’m not, because I don’t exist, not really, not at all, at least not for them. I’m part of the building, ignored but unmoveable, secured to the walls by invisible chains.
I’ve seen them glancing at my window. I’ve felt the terrified look on their faces when they dare to glance up before they shiver and walk away, and it gives me strength because it means I’m still powerful.
They can’t tell anyone about me because nobody believes in ghosts. I’m their dark secret, so they make sure no one comes anywhere near the attic. They don’t know you are coming to set me free.
*****
Lyra Leyton is sleeping on a friend’s couch after losing her job as an English teacher at a language school in Spain. When she receives a lucrative employment offer as home tutor and live-in nanny to 10-year-old Carla, at Rosewood Hall, in Yorkshire, she can’t believe her luck.
Life at the secluded residence is idyllic at first, until disturbing sounds from the attic, cryptic messages from an anonymous sender, and a visit from a private investigator searching for a missing girl, haunt Lyra’s sleepless nights.
A panic-stricken Lyra, hands in her notice, but Carla’s widowed stepfather, who lives in London, begs her to reconsider, claiming wild animals, local gossip, and creaking noises in the ancient house, have caused her unrest.
If Lyra stays, she could lose more than her mind, but can she afford to leave? And can she abandon her young pupil?

So, in spite of these first six months being very emotionally and professionally stressful (I mean it’s not every year an author publishes three novels in six months!!), a lot has been going on and I’m feeling reasonably satisfied.

The Next Six Months July to December

Firstly, as a mother and grandmother, I’m looking forward to holding my sixth grandson, Carlos, in my arms, in Munich, in July. I’d like to finish two children’s books I’ve started writing with my grandsons Miguel. and Alejandro.

Secondly, as an author, I plan to keep up with both blogs, English and Spanish, translate my Spanish novel into English, Before you were born, complete another Spanish book I’ve started, finish my next Eyre Hall series novel, I’ve also started, plus Jane Eyre A to Z, which is almost ready for publication.

These are my plans, but nothing’s written in stone. Who knows what hurdles I’ll meet in the coming months? In the end I just try to enjoy and make the most of one day at a time.

Sorry for the two-month absence and I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with you during the next six months!

What have you been up to and what are your plans for the next six months?

AtoZ Blogging Challenge April 2022. H is for Heart Breathings and How To Academy Mindset on @YouTube

YouTube Channels and Youtubers for writers and everyone else!

I’m joining the AtoZ challenge sharing YouTube channels and Youtubers I follow as an independent author, researcher, learner, reader, and someone who is interested in emotional growth and physical wellbeing, as well as entertainment and current affairs.

I’ve enjoyed watching YouTube videos for years, but in 2020, when the pandemic broke out in Europe and the first lockdown was imposed as a security measure in most countries, I decided to go Premium on YouTube and I started watching even more videos on a wide variety of entertaining and informative topics, which I’d like to share with you over the coming month. I hope you enjoy! 

Today it’s all about self growth by a meditation channel and another channel with tips and inspiration for personal growth.

Heart Breathings is a bookish channel. Sarra Canon has been self-publishing for ten years, and her videos are helpful to would-be authors or authors who are thinking of self-publishing. She is an Amazon Top 100 Best-Selling Author who has published over eleven young adult, fantasy novels. !She has playlists on NaNoWriMo, how to plan and write a series, writing and self-publishing tips, among other topics. Her videos are mostly short, between 10 and 30 minutes. This is one of her most recent on Five crucial elements of a good novel.

How to Academy shares inspirational ideas by well-known, contemporary thinkers, psychologists, business leaders, authors and coaches. They usually upload two videos a week which are about 20 minutes long and cover diverse topics such as politics and global affairs, history and culture, the environment, inspiration, etc.

This is one of their latest videos on Here’s a great conversation by two eminent intellectuals Stephen Fry and Steven Pinker talking about his book on the Enlightenment Today.

I hope you found these channels interesting or useful, and if you want to check out what other bloggers are writing about this month in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge check them out on Twitter , Facebook, or Instagram.

Meanwhile, I hope you’re enjoying this chilly April! (At least it’s unusually chilly in Europe for this time of year).

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By the way, if you’d like to check out my novels in The Eyre Hall Series, find out more by clicking on the image below which will take you to the information on this website.

Click on my photo for the link to my Amazon Author Page

AtoZ Blogging Challenge April 2022. G is for Great Meditation and Greatness Clips by Lewis Howes on @YouTube

YouTube Channels and Youtubers for writers and everyone else!

I’m joining the AtoZ challenge sharing YouTube channels and Youtubers I follow as an independent author, researcher, learner, reader, and someone who is interested in emotional growth and physical wellbeing, as well as entertainment and current affairs.

I’ve enjoyed watching YouTube videos for years, but in 2020, when the pandemic broke out in Europe and the first lockdown was imposed as a security measure in most countries, I decided to go Premium on YouTube and I started watching even more videos on a wide variety of entertaining and informative topics, which I’d like to share with you over the coming month. I hope you enjoy! 

Today it’s all about self growth by a meditation channel and another channel with tips and inspiration for personal growth.

Let’s start with Great Meditation. The benefits of meditation are well known. It can help reduce stress and anxiety, it promotes emotional wellbeing and increased self awareness, it can increase attention span and reduce memory loss, it promotes positive feelings and kindness towards ourselves and others, it improves sleep and helps control pain, it can decrease blood pressure, and it’s free and can be done anywhere at any time, However, in spite of the documented power of meditation, it is not an easy activity to do on your own at first.

There are plenty of books, podcasts and apps on the topic to help us out, and I recommend you investigate and find out which method suits you best. Great Meditation is another tool which can help us relax and feel positive in just a few minutes. The meditations are short, between five and ten minutes, and they are geared towards diverse aspects, for example, meditation for sleep, relaxation, and general meditations.

Ideally, it is best to lie down, close your eyes, and listen to the words. But sometimes my eyes are wide open and I’m looking at the sky, or taking a walk in the countryside, while I listen. Other times I continue for some more minutes meditating on my own after the five-minute meditation.

Whenever and wherever I listen, I feel calmer and more relaxed afterwards and I have experienced reduced blood pressure following meditation.

Here is one of the latest videos to calm your mind:

Today’s second channel is Greatness Clips by Lewis Howes. Lewis Howes was an athlete, and is now a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and entrepreneur. His main channel, The School of Greatness, shares full length interviews from the most successful people on the planet; leaders in business, entertainment, sports, science, health, and literature. His mission is to inspire viewers to improve their lives.

Greatness Clips channel has shorter snippets of the longer interviews. Sometimes I’m busy or in the mood for a shorter video, and that’s where this channel comes in handy. Lewis uploads a short video of between fifteen and twenty minutes daily.

This is one of his recent videos on the cure for laziness and procrastination by David Goggins, bestselling author of Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds:

I hope you found these channels interesting or useful, and if you want to check out what other bloggers are writing about this month in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge check them out on Twitter , Facebook, or Instagram.

Meanwhile, I hope you’re enjoying this chilly April! (At least it’s unusually chilly in Europe for this time of year).

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By the way, if you’d like to check out my novels in The Eyre Hall Series, find out more by clicking on the image below which will take you to the information on this website.

Click on my photo for the link to my Amazon Author Page

AtoZ Blogging Challenge April 2022. F is for Film Courage, Franceska Chef Recipes @YouTube

YouTube Channels and Youtubers for writers and everyone else!

I’m joining the AtoZ challenge sharing YouTube channels and Youtubers I follow as an independent author, researcher, learner, reader, and someone who is interested in emotional growth and physical wellbeing, as well as entertainment and current affairs.

I’ve enjoyed watching YouTube videos for years, but in 2020, when the pandemic broke out in Europe and the first lockdown was imposed as a security measure in most countries, I decided to go Premium on YouTube and I started watching even more videos on a wide variety of entertaining and informative topics, which I’d like to share with you over the coming month. I hope you enjoy! 

Today I’m featuring two YouTubers and channels. The first is a film channel, Film Courage, and the second one is a cooking channel, Franceska Chef Recipes

Let’s start with Film Courage. I’m very pleased to share this channel with you today, because I’ve learnt so much about writing novels from this channel. I highly recommend it for novel writers. You can watch interviews with expert screenwriters and film makers sharing their theories, ideas and experiences in film and television. There are great videos on story structure, themes, characters, pacing and so many other topics, which are also important for novel writing. This is one example of a great video by Jill Chamberlain on story structure that works for novels as well as film.

I love cooking and this is one of the channels I follow with ideas for something delicious and special to cook. The recipes are in Italian, which is a beautiful language I understand and speak, so I love listening to her, but there are subtitles in English and very clear images on the videos, so they’re really easy to follow. This delicious cake is one of her last videos, and I must admit, I haven’t made it yet, but I’ll let you know when I do, because it looks easy and delicious!

I hope you found these channels interesting or useful, and if you want to check out what other bloggers are writing about this month in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge check them out on Twitter , Facebook, or Instagram.

Meanwhile, I hope you’re enjoying this chilly April! (At least it’s unusually chilly in Europe for this time of year).

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By the way, if you’d like to check out my novels in The Eyre Hall Series, find out more by clicking on the image below which will take you to the information on this website.

Click on my photo for the link to my Amazon Author Page

AtoZ Blogging Challenge April 2022.E is for English Heritage, Dr Sten Ekberg and Ed Mylet on @YouTube

YouTube Channels and Youtubers for writers and everyone else!

I’m joining the AtoZ challenge sharing YouTube channels and Youtubers I follow as an independent author, researcher, learner, reader, and someone who is interested in emotional growth and physical wellbeing, as well as entertainment and current affairs.

I’ve enjoyed watching YouTube videos for years, but in 2020, when the pandemic broke out in Europe and the first lockdown was imposed as a security measure in most countries, I decided to go Premium on YouTube and I started watching even more videos on a wide variety of entertaining and informative topics, which I’d like to share with you over the coming month. I hope you enjoy! 

Today I’m featuring two YouTubers and channels. The first is a very special history channel, the second is a doctor with great tips for a healthy life, and finally the great Ed Mylett, who interviews experts on various aspects of personal growth.

Let’s start with English Heritage. They prepare short and varied videos on all things British, from Victorian cooking, with a ‘real’ cook using ‘authentic equipment’ in a ‘real’ Victorian kitchen in an English stately home, such as the vide below.

As you can imagine, this channel has been invaluable for my research into Victorian England! There are also postcard videos on different parts of the country and countryside and videos on history too, and they also have tales from English folklore. I love the way they manage to make every video interesting and fun for viewers of all ages who are interested in English history.

Dr Stan Ekberg is a holistic doctor and Olimpic decathlete. He makes informative and useful videos on food, health and physical wellbeing. He explains everything for people with no medical background, but he doesn’t talk down to viewers, and he also justifies all his advice with evidence and sound theories.

Of course if someone has a serious health or emotional problem, YouTube is probably not going to solve it, they would need to visit a specialist, face to face, but often we have minor ailments which his videos can help you with, and they’re informative even if you don’t have any ailments.

This video on blood pressure is clear and informative, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop taking your medication. It’s useful and complimentary information to help you understand the process and why it may be high and how you might be able to lower it.

I’ve already posted on Ed Mylett’s book Max out your Life. This is Ed’s YouTube channel. He posts videos every Tuesday in which he interviews experts on motivation, health, relationships, business and plenty of other interesting topics.

This is one of his latest interview on regret, with Daniel Pink, the author of The Power of Regret.

I hope you found these channels interesting or useful, and if you want to check out what other bloggers are writing about this month in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge check them out on Twitter , Facebook, or Instagram.

Meanwhile, I hope you’re enjoying this chilly April! (At least it’s unusually chilly in Europe for this time of year).

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By the way, if you’d like to check out my novels in The Eyre Hall Series, find out more by clicking on the image below which will take you to the information on this website.

Click on my photo for the link to my Amazon Author Page

AtoZ Blogging Challenge April 2022. A is for Absolute History and Ali Abdaal on @YouTube

Change of Theme!

Instead of writing mentors books, I’ve decided to take part in this year’s AtoZ sharing YouTube channels and Youtubers I follow as an independent author, researcher, learner, reader, and someone who is interested in emotional growth and physical wellbeing, as well as entertainment and news.

I’ve enjoyed watching YouTube videos for years, but in 2020, when the pandemic broke out in Europe and the first lockdown was imposed as a security measure in most countries, I decided to go Premium and started watching even more YouTube videos.  

Some background information on YouTube

The initial idea was just to share personal videos online. When that didn’t work, the owners changed it to a dating site, which also failed. They then decided to update the technology so that anyone could upload a video easily, and the idea went viral. That was in early 2005. In October 2006, Google acquired YouTube, and the rest is history. At he moment, over 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute!

You can find out about almost anything you are interested in or need to find out in seconds. However, not all channels are the same. As with all social media, you do need to sift through to find what you’re looking for and this may take some time at first.

I spend so much time on YouTube and find it useful and entertaining, so over the following month, I’d like to introduce you to some of the channels I follow and can recommend.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to two channels; the first is Absolute History.

Would you like to know what WWI soldiers ate in the trenches? Or see what the most brutal medieval weapon looks like and how it was used? Or find out about poverty, prisons or disease, and much more, in Victorian England? Perhaps you’re interested in the pioneers who settled in New Zealand, or how the East India Company changed word trade, or hundreds of other interesting historical topics. Browse through their content and you can choose from their over 500 short, instructive and beautifully crafted videos.

I love their playlist on the Victorians and Victorian England, which is the time my novels in The Eyre Hall Series are set.

The second channel I’d like to share with you is Ali Abdal’s. He has videos on productivity, life hacks, YouTube, lots of great non-fiction book recommendations. His videos are useful, clear and concise.

I especially enjoy his Book Club videos, like this one

I hope you found these channels interesting or useful, and if you want to check out what other bloggers are writing about this month in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge check them out on Twitter , Facebook, or Instagram.

Meanwhile, I hope you’re enjoying Spring 2022!

#BookLaunch Snow Moon at Eyre Hall #5 #TheEyreHallSeries #Histfic #JaneEyreSequel

Snow Moon at Eyre Hall is the fifth novel in The Eyre Hall Series, the exciting and intriguing sequel to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, including more mystery, drama, action, and romance, set in Victorian England.

In the latest addition to the series, readers will experience births and a christening, deaths, burials and exhumations, prophesies, curses, blessings, and restitution, revenge and betrayal, as well as love and altruism.

Jane’s son, John Eyre Rochester, and Annette Mason, Bertha Mason’s daughter, have married and taken over Eyre Hall and the Rochester Estate, after offering Jane a settlement (in Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall).

Jane, now Mrs Kirkpatrick, and Michael have moved to Cornwall, with Jane’s daughter, Helen, in search of a more peaceful lifestyle.

But they must decide whether to accept Mr de Winter’s offer and take over the running of his impressive home, Manderlay, and accept his son, Max, as their ward, after his father’s imminent death, or remain at cosy Primrose Cottage, where they lived as fugitives (in Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall).

Jane has fallen in love with Manderlay, but Michael suspects Mr de Winter and his magnificent mansion harbour even more devastating secrets than Eyre Hall.

Isaac das Junot, will revisit Michael to remind him of the Blood Moon Prophecy, which the Sin- Eater, revealed in Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, which is reaching its culmination. Jane, Michael and Helen must return to Eyre Hall and decipher the final secret from the attic at Thornfield Hall.

Expect hours of enjoyment, especially lovers of Victorian fiction and historical drama. At the moment it is on special offer at one dollar/euro/pound! Can you resist? And you can read this novel and the entire series free on Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon.com / Amazon UK / click here for worldwide link.

Snow Moon at Eyre Hall: Book Five of The Eyre Hall Series by [Luccia Gray]

Readers will have a more enhanced reading experience if they read the novels in the following sequence:
Resurgam: An Eyre Hall Series Novella
Blood Moon at Eyre Hall #1
All Hallows at Eyre Hall #2
Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall #3
Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall #4
Snow Moon at Eyre Hall #5
Midsummer at Eyre Hall #6 to be released in July 2022

What, you’re not sure if you’ll like the series? Why not try Resurgam: Am Eyre Hall Series Novella and prequel to the series, for an international link click here.

Happy Wednesday and Happy Reading!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘7 Lessons Learnt in 2022’ #amwriting #writingtips #January2022 #BookBlogger

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

The awesome co-hosts for the January 3 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

7 Writing Lessons Learnt in 2022

1: Amazon KDP select is my best option at the moment.

I decided to go wide in summer 2021. I signed up with Draft2Digital, and although they are professional and helpful, I’m going back to working exclusively with Amazon. Going wide is not worth the extra work at this stage of my writing life and writing career. I have only sold six books, and it is probably my fault for not advertising with the other book sellers more actively, but I don’t have the time. I need to simplify my life and at the moment Amazon exclusive is my best and simplest bet.

2. A solid morning routine is beneficial for my life and my writing.

I used to get up at seven and go to work, but when I took early retirement in 2019, I had some difficulty adapting to a new writing routine. I had never written in the mornings, as I was working as a teacher. I used to write in the evenings and weekends. After reading The Miracle Morning for Writers in 2020, I decided to implement the routine in my new life. I’ve discovered that the first three hours of writing, from 7-10 are my golden hours. I’m more creative and productive.

3: I’m a plantser

I started out as a pantser. I had four clearly define characters and an idea and I started writing to see where the characters would take me. It was a wonderful experience. I had the time of my life writing my sequel to Jane Eyre and new characters and plot lines grew so much that one novel became and trilogy and then a series. However, I soon realised I needed a structure to tie all the strands, so I read plenty of books on plotting, which helped me structure and finish my novels. I recommend Save the Cat for Writers as one of the most useful and practical books on the topic. And I thought I had become a plotter, but it was just a phase!

Now I’d describe myself as a plantser. I start with a few characters and a conflict which I explore and when I have about 10,000 words and a good number of scenes, I write a loose outline, to help me stay focussed, and write. I allow the characters to drive the action and the outline gradually meanders, so I feel I’m exploring as I write.

4. The Eyre Hall Series will have many more installments.

I’ve written three new books and one novella in the series this year. I’ve also reedited three novels in the series, that means I’ve worked on seven books this year! So my morning routine is definitely working for me! I have lots of ideas to continue and expand the series even more. I’ve also planned other novels in the series and revised a contemporary thriller I had written a few years ago.

5: Writing is my lifesaver

Throughout these two difficult years of Covid plus numerous personal issues, writing has helped me wake up feeling optimistic and energetic enough to carry out a healthy morning routine, write, look after my family, make time for friends and hobbies. My novels have been my lighthouse in a dark, stormy sea.

6: I still love blogging

I’ve been doing more creative writing than blogging this year, but I’ve realised I don’t want to stop blogging. I enjoy having a little window to the world where I can be seen and heard, and interact with other bloggers. I hope to have more time to blog in 2022.

7: The more I read the better writer I become

I’ve been reading widely this year; fiction as well as non-fiction. I especially enjoy thrillers and historical novels, but I’ve also read science fiction, memoirs and non-fiction books this year. I’ve incorporated many books on personal growth which have helped me immensely. I’ve shared many of them in my #MondayMotivation posts. Everything I read helps me improve my craft.

What lessons have you learnt as a writer in 2022?

If you want to find out more about my novels check out my home page, and if you want to find out about my new releases and special offers, subscribe to my newsletter below.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Here are six of my titles and covers in The Eyre Hall Series.
Book 5, Snow Moon will be published on 17th February!

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘On Writing Book Titles and #Blurbs’ #amwriting #writingtips #November2021 #BookBlogger

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

The awesome co-hosts for the November 3 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Victoria Marie Lees, Joylene Nowell Butler, Erika Beebe, and Lee Lowery!

November 3 question – What’s harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

On Titles and Blurbs

First On Titles

I start my novels with a specific idea which includes at least two main characters and some supporting ones, a place, a time, and a conflict. Once that’s a vivid picture in my mind, I start writing freestyle or if you like pantsing, until I get the feel of the characters and the story, which at the beginning is a jumbled mess in my mind.

I don’t think of scenes or chapters or plot points, or even the ending, I just write. Usually when I’m at 10,000 words, which may take about a week, I know if it’s a story I want to write, or I put it away just in case! (I have a hard time killing my babies!) and work on another one.

Once I’ve reached the point I’m sure I have the potential for a novel, I write an outline for the whole story, divided into scenes. I take a simple approach which works for me for overall initial plotting.

Basic elements of each scene: Who wants what, why, and what is the obstacle? How does it move the plot forward and/or what does this scene lead on to (i.e. what happens next).

At this point, if not before, I’m ready to select my title and start looking for a cover. Both things are intimately tied up for me. I print the cover with the title and put it up on my wall in my study, where I usually write. It gives me focus, motivation and joy to see my cover and title every day.

This is one of my favourite covers. It’s just perfect for my Novella, Resurgam. It was a ready-made cover (almost; I asked for Eyre Hall to be added in the background) by BetiBup, one of my favourite designers.

There’s a universal link if you click on the image. By the way, it’s a free gift if you sign up for my newsletter, link at the end of the post.

Now for the blurb

I write the blurb at the end and it’s much more difficult and stressful than deciding on the title and cover.

I have a structure for writing my blurbs, which I have developed over the years, and I usually stick to it.

When I write a blurb I follow this basic structure:

  1. Initial hook. A question to draw the reader in.
  2. Introduce the main character and make the setting/situation clear to the reader.
  3. One or two sentences about the conflict.
  4. Final hook. A hint at the solution with a question to entice the reader.

Here’s my blurb for Resurgam

Relive the mystery and magic of Jane Eyre (Initial Hook)

Nine years after her marriage to Edward Rochester, Jane has everything she ever wished for. She is married to the man she loves, they have a son, and they live in a grand house, Eyre Hall, built on the grounds of Thornfield Hall. (MC and Genre/setting)

When Mary Anne Wilson, one of her best friends from Lowood Institution for Orphans, appears unexpectedly at Eyre Hall with distressing news about their deceased friend, Helen Burns, Jane realises she must return to the orphanage where she has crucial unfinished matters to attend. (Conflict/Problem)

Will Jane find a way to keep the promise she made to Helen over fifteen years ago when she was a penniless orphan? (Final Hook: a question about the solution)

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I suggest you read as many blurbs as possible for your genre and others, to give you more ideas about how to approach writing your own. Here are two videos for more ideas: a great 8-minute video by Alessandra Torre which gives some good ideas, so does Joanna Penn here at The Creative Penn.

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Here are six of my titles and covers in The Eyre Hall Series. The last two are still in process!

Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall Chapter One #BookLaunch #Histfic #JaneEyreSequel

Chapter 1 – Abodes of Horror

Grimsby Retreat, 16th December 1867

Jane

Please, Lord, do not let me lose my mind in this dreadful place. Help me preserve my sanity. I must return to Michael and Helen at Eyre Hall. I have been removed to this terrifying house in a fraudulent manner, deprived of my freedom, and caged in an infernal cave like an animal.

I was dragged to this disturbing place and ensnared in a cage twelve nights ago by a group of armed men who barged into Eyre Hall while I was alone. I resisted, but they forced me into a carriage and brought me here in the dead of night. I do not know where I am, except that it is over four hours’ drive from home.

I have been maliciously confined, and even if I managed to escape, I do not know in which direction I should flee. There are thick woods to the north, east and west, and I have no idea what lies to the south, as I have not yet seen that part of the house or grounds. Although I have only been here for a short time, my captivity is already proving unbearable.

My first days were distressing. I was not allowed to wash or wear clean clothes. They said they were waiting for my trunk, but I told them I did not want a trunk, because I wanted to go home, and they brought me a grey flannel dress, which was so long that the skirt dragged along the floor and so coarse that it scraped my skin like sandpaper.

When I asked Mrs Mills, the person who seems to be in charge of us, if I could wash, she laughed and said the showers were only for those who caused trouble. I was given a basin and some cold water; no soap or ointments. My face was dry and my lips were parched, so I asked for the toiletries I was accustomed to using, and that was when I discovered where I was. Mrs Mills laughed again and told me it was not a guesthouse, but an asylum for the mentally insane.

I was shocked when I heard the sinister nature of my abode of horror. Why had I been removed to this mansion of despair? Could it be a nightmare conjured up by my wondering mind? How could I suddenly find myself in this sea of misery and madness?

My first visitor had been a tall, angular man with a sallow face and weary eyes who said his name was Dr Stevens.

“Where is Dr Carter? He is my doctor.”

He made some notes in a worn notebook and sighed. “I am a special doctor for people who have your particular type of malady, madam.”

“Thank you for your visit, Doctor, but I assure you I am not ill. However, I am missing my home and my family.”

He looked up with a brief smile which didn’t reach his eyes. “We can start there to ascertain your health. Who exactly are you missing?”

“Michael, my betrothed, and Helen, my daughter. I miss them terribly.” I used the damp handkerchief in my hands to wipe away fresh tears, but I breathed in deeply and made sure I kept my composure.

 He pursed his lips and wrote more words in his notebook. “Fabrications, madam.”

“I don’t understand, Doctor.”

He left his pen on the table beside his notebook and looked at me as if I were a poor beggar who had asked for a morsel to eat. 

“The man you mentioned, Michael Kirkpatrick, I believe is a servant who was once in your employ but is now a convict.”

“That is not possible. What has he been convicted of?”

“Theft and assault. Before his departure, he stole belongings from Eyre Hall and he assaulted you.”

“You must be mistaken. Michael and I will be married on Christmas Eve.”

“You are a widow, and you cannot remarry without your son’s consent, madam, and in your present condition, he cannot agree to such madness.”

I realised this doctor would not help me, so I did not argue. When I left this dreadful place, I would speak to John and clear Michael’s name.

“And where is Helen?”

He looked at his notes. “Yes, Helen. She is a servant at Eyre Hall, the same as Michael. They have both conspired to rob you of your reason, and it seems they have succeeded. You have only one son and his name is John Rochester.”

A throbbing at the back of my head spread to my temples and forehead as I tried to make sense of his words. It was a nightmare, and I had to wake up. I flew to the small window and grabbed the iron bars; they seemed real, but this could not be happening. I needed to get out of this terrifying place. 

“Dr Stevens, I need to go home.”

“You cannot leave here until you admit that it has all been a fabrication of your feeble mind, Mrs Mason. Michael is a servant who seduced you, robbed and attacked you, and Helen is another servant’s daughter who you have imagined is the stillborn child you lost ten years ago. The sooner you admit it, the earlier you will leave.”

Someone must have given him this false information. I had to find out who was behind this conspiracy. “May I ask you who has informed you of this?”

“Archbishop Templar has always taken an interest in Grimsby Retreat, where you are now staying. Your son has asked him to take care of you and his late father’s estate in his absence until he returns from his visit to America.”

Was it possible that the archbishop had fabricated the lies and convinced these people that I was a madwoman? What was his purpose in confining me and imprisoning Michael? I could not yet fathom the answers to these questions. But it would seem the bishop had become our worst enemy.  

“Where is John? When can I see him?”

“In due time, when you are recovered. We will take good care of you, Mrs Mason. Your confusion is understandable. You have lost two husbands in just over a year, your only son left home, your miscarriages and stillborn child have added to your sorrow.” He patted my hand and smiled. “But worry not; we will take good care of you.”

I raised my hands to my hair and felt for my hairpins. I knew Michael was as real as the little silver butterflies with crystal pendants I was wearing. They were his favourite. I stroked the long pin which, being firmly fixed and covered by my dishevelled hair, had not been removed. I imagined that as long as I could feel it, Michael would find me. I smiled demurely at the foolish doctor and thanked him kindly. What else could I do while I prayed Michael and Helen were safe?

The following days merged into endless hours of misery. The house grew colder and gloomier every minute. In the mornings we had breakfast in a large hall where there was a small fire covered by a huge grate, insufficient to heat the chill room. Porridge, gritty brown bread and tea were passed around the long table. I drank the tea but hardly touched the food. Dinner was tasteless and tough, stewed meat and soggy boiled vegetables which did little to encourage my waning appetite.

I was required to spend the mornings in the icy room with the other residents on my floor. There was nothing in the behaviour of these women to suggest that they were any more unstable than I was. They were all well-dressed and reasonably groomed, although they moved with heavy feet and cautious eyes, which I supposed was due to our bleak surroundings and Mrs Mills’ bad temper.

There were six other ladies on my floor. Mrs Pengilly was a quiet, elderly lady who told me she had been admitted by her husband to mend her nerves. She liked to sit by the fireplace with Miss Short, a stout, middle-aged spinster whose father was worried about her habit of reading and eating too much. Miss Fowler was a tall young lady with bulging eyes who spoke in a loud voice with a Scottish accent; she sat alone in a corner reading one of the tattered copies of the Bible from the sparse bookshelves. Mrs Black was a widow who was usually found knitting by the window. She told me her brother brought her here every year in December and January, because she refused to take part in the Christmas celebrations. Miss Craft, a fine-looking and smartly-dressed woman, rarely spoke. She occasionally played the out-of-tune piano in the corner. A young girl called Katy, who refused to eat or speak, drew pencil sketches of angels and demons. I had seen no one else, but I knew there were more prisoners on the other floors, because I heard their cries at night and fits of demoniac laughter echoing from below during the day. 

As one monotonous day rolled into another, I began to sink into despair. I felt as if I had been buried alive, unable to eat or sleep, until I realised that these first days had been a holiday. Chaos was about to send Satan on his way to ruin me. I prayed Michael would find me soon, or I would die in this godforsaken inferno.

One morning when I heard Katy crying, I approached her and asked if she would like to talk to me about what ailed her, but she shook her head fiercely. “Be quiet. Don’t tell anyone,” she chanted.

That evening, I heard sobs coming from Katy’s room, which was across the hall from mine. I jumped out of bed and listened behind my door, which was locked on the outside. I heard her feet dragging along the floor. “Not to the shed, please,” she said, and a man’s voice answered, “Be quiet. You know the rules.” I listened to her muffled cries until they ceased. I peered out of my window and waited. Minutes later I heard more cries and saw two figures crossing the garden towards the shed, but it could have been the wind, or wild animals. The noises ceased, and I hoped I had imagined that Katy was in trouble, because there was nothing I could do to help her.   

The following morning, when Katy was not sitting at the breakfast table, I asked Mrs Mills if she was unwell.

“Unwell? Not at all. She has been discharged. Her parents took her back home yesterday evening.”

Miss Craft raised her hands and moved her fingers in the air, playing an imaginary piano. “That’s good news,” she said and dropped her hands back to her lap.

“I’ll miss her,” said Miss Pengilly, and Miss Short nodded.

Miss Fowler’s terrified eyes glanced at Mrs Black, who shot up, knocking her chair to the floor. “She didn’t say goodbye. She should have said goodbye. I knitted her a scarf. She was my friend. Friends say goodbye when they leave!” 

Mrs Mills made eye contact with each one of us before speaking. “Silence, or I shall call Dr Stewart. He will not be pleased.” She paused, stabbing me with her eyes. “I had not realised you were such a troublemaker, Mrs Mason. You will stay in your room until further notice.”

The following days were short and gloomy, merging into one long night. I watched the motion of the moon glide under the clouds, and I imagined I saw a shadow in the grounds. I whispered Michael’s name and cried bitterly; little did I know that the real inferno was about to begin.

It started with a knock on my door one stormy afternoon some days after Katy’s mysterious disappearance. I had found a worn copy of David Copperfield and took pleasure in stroking its weathered pages, for I had trouble focusing on the words. Bitter tears spilled from my eyes, smearing the ink, as I remembered my conversations with Mr Dickens at Eyre Hall. 

“May I intrude, Jane Eyre?”

I jumped out of my chair and turned abruptly, surprised to hear my maiden name in a voice I did not recall. Neither did I recognise the large, overfed body or bulging blue eyes which stared back at me.

“Good afternoon, sir. Are we acquainted?”

“You do not remember me?”

I would not have forgotten his bulging reptilian eyes, which did not blink. “I’m afraid not, but please sit down. It is not often I have company, sir.”

I waved towards a rickety chair by the writing desk and sat down again myself. My visitor nodded and obliged. His corpulent presence and repulsive odour filled the tiny room. I coughed and held my handkerchief to my nose.

“I hope you are comfortable here, Jane Eyre, for that is your name, is it not?”

“I am Mrs Mason at present.” I wanted to tell him that soon I would be Mrs Kirkpatrick, but I remembered the doctor’s words. “My husband died over a year ago.”

“You were once called Mrs Rochester, I believe?”

“Yes, Mr Rochester died over two years ago. Did you know my husband, Mr—?”

“Yes, I met both your husbands, madam. Mr Rochester and Mr Mason both employed my mother’s services at Thornfield Hall. Do you not remember me? My name is Poole, Mr Daniel Poole.”

I looked at him more carefully. His veined cheeks, bushy grey eyebrows and fuzzy beard suggested he was Richard’s age. I tried to imagine what he might have looked like twenty years earlier, but no one came to mind.

“I’m afraid I cannot recall having seen you at Thornfield Hall, Mr Poole.”

“I visited my mother on one occasion. You were the governess at that time.”

“Poole?” Could Grace Poole, Bertha’s drunken keeper, be this man’s mother? I was reminded of a grim, unfriendly woman with a prim cap perched on her large head and a coarse, gloomy face, wearing a brown stuff dress and white apron. Mrs Poole had spent most of her time in a low-ceilinged, oaken chamber on the second storey of Thornfield Hall, where she sat and sewed, and drank port, gin, or whatever spirits were available.

I jumped out of my chair at once. “You are Grace Poole’s son?”

“The very same. I was already employed at Grimsby Retreat, but of course, you wouldn’t remember the likes of me. You were too busy enticing the master of the house, weren’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Funny isn’t it, how the wheels of fortune turn unexpectedly? You were a quaint little thing. An ethereal waif, tantalising all the men in sight.”

I trembled in the realisation that he had not come as a friend.

“You wouldn’t have noticed me then, would you? I wasn’t good enough for you, was I? Answer me.” His eyes bulged even more as he leaned towards me.

“I’m afraid I have no recollection of your visit to Thornfield Hall, Mr Poole.”

“Well, it so happens I’m the superintendent at Grimsby Retreat, where you are presently in residence. Your stay here is in my hands. I’ll have you know I’m not a rancorous man at all. I’ll forget how you ignored me and demeaned my mother with your haughty airs, and I am prepared to make your stay here much more pleasant.”

He held out his hand, but I recoiled. “Come, Mrs Mason, don’t be shy. I mean you no harm. Let us take a walk. I want to show you the rest of the retreat.”

I had no choice. I was trapped between a thick wall and a grated window behind me, and a massive man with a repulsive grin before me. He crushed my hand in his fat, sweaty palm.

“Your hand is cold, Jane. Come.” He pulled me towards the door. “You don’t mind if I call you Jane now, do you? I’ll show you to your new rooms. You’ll be much more comfortable there.” 

 I had to run to keep up with his long strides as he dragged me across the main hall and up a winding staircase to another floor.

“These are the best rooms, reserved for our special guests. I also live here with my wife. Fortunately, Mrs Poole is unwell.” He smiled, revealing uneven grey teeth. “She won’t bother us.”

Despite the blazing flames and well-furnished room, I shivered, as if ice water were trickling down my spine.

“You’re cold. Don’t stand in the doorway, Jane. Come inside. This will be your room from now on. I want you to write a list of the food you like to eat, and the clothes and other personal items you’d like to have.”

“Why?” I whispered.

“Isn’t it obvious? I’ll look after you while you’re here and, in return, you’ll be my mistress.”

I held my breath. “Why?” I repeated, trying to make sense of this bizarre situation.

“Because I want you, and I am in a position to have you.”

“I’d like to return to my room, please.” I tried to sound assertive, but my voice was unsteady.

“There is no going back, I’m afraid. You will stay here and oblige me. You’ll find I’m easy to please.” He took my limp hand and pressed it to his mouth. The room swirled like a tornado, sucking me into its twisting eye.

When I woke up, I was in my new bed and the doctor was taking my pulse. “You must eat, Mrs Mason, or you will make yourself ill. Do you want to be force-fed?”

He showed me a long tube and motioned it towards my mouth. I shook my head energetically.

“Then you must eat everything on the tray before Mr Poole returns. There is nothing else physically wrong with you.”

The food on the tray, cheese, cold meat, and fruit, would have looked appealing in any other place, but my lips felt as if they were glued together. I managed to pull them apart to speak to the doctor.

“Could I see my son or Archbishop Templar, please?”

“No visitors are allowed for the moment.”

“When can I have visitors?”

“Perhaps in the spring, when you’re feeling better.”

I asked for a Bible. I was anxious to re-read the Gospel according to St Matthew in the hope that it would give me the strength to endure Poole’s designs on me as our Lord had suffered on the cross. Why had I been forsaken?   

The Bible gave me little comfort. I cried for the wretched treatment I was enduring and wished for a quick death instead of the slow poisoning awaiting me. I remembered Michael’s words. “No one will keep us apart,” he had promised. I closed my eyes and recalled the joyful moments we had experienced a few months earlier.

**** The End of Chapter One ****

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