Author Archive

Patricia Wilson Publishes Island of Secrets With Bonnier Zaffre

Written by Tony Fyler on . Posted in News

Patricia Wilson

Patricia Wilson tells the story of the women of Amiras.

Quality will out.

That’s rarely truer than in the case of our latest news. We first met author Patricia Wilson in the writing group www.youwriteon.com some three years ago. Her debut novel clearly had punch to it even back then, and the sense of a story that absolutely had to be told. You’ll never be quite the same once you’ve read Island of Secrets, and believe us you will, because the story gets right under your skin, based as it is in the facts of World War II as they touched the town of Amiras in Crete.

When you dig up a World War II machine gun in your garden, as Patricia did, you want to find the story behind it. Island of Secrets is that heartbreaking, cathartic, uplifting story.

‘I was planting strawberries in my cottage garden in Amiras when I unearthed the machine gun,’ said Patricia. ‘That led to the village men telling me what had happened, but it took a while for the women to come forward. I was so moved by their personal experiences I felt I had to tell their stories.’

We were delighted when Patricia asked us to edit the story for her, and the delights have kept coming ever since – first she found representation for the book with Tina Betts at Andrew Mann, and now, no less a publisher than Bonnier Zaffre has acquired the world rights to the story as part of a two-book deal.

Eleanor Dryden, publishing director for Zaffre Books, said: ‘Island of Secrets is such a moving and ultimately uplifting story, I am delighted to be launching Patricia’s debut.’

Island of Secrets is a dramatic and completely immersive summer read. Greek matriarch, Maria, is dying and must share her personal story before it’s too late. Her story is interwoven with the German occupation of Crete during the Second World War, and shows the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children.

We at Jefferson Franklin are humbled to have been able to help Patricia tell the story of the women of Amiras, and delighted that it will get the audience their story so richly deserves.

Bonnier Zaffre will publish Island of Secrets in February 2017 in e-book format, and May in paperback.
You’re going to want to keep the tissues at the ready for this one – for better and worse.

Talk Writing – The Letter’s Kathryn Hughes

Written by Tony Fyler on . Posted in News

Cover of The Letter by Kathryn Hughes

The Letter – once read (or heard), never forgotten.

Today is a very special day. Our friends at Audible.co.uk are offering Kathryn Hughes’ stunning first novel The Letter as an audiobook for just £1.99 – but only for today, 9th July, so get your skates on!

For those who don’t already know, The Letter is a gritty tale of domestic abuse, of a history of lost and confused love, and how a single letter, lost for years, helps one courageous woman find a better future for herself. Kathryn went the self-publishing route, and her e-book burned its way into the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers when it was launched on Amazon.

Eventually, major publishers came calling, allowing Kathryn to turn her e-success into a contract with Hodder Headline.

This is where we at Jefferson Franklin do a little bit of smug nodding – before launching The Letter to the electronic world, Kathryn gave us the privilege of editing the book. We knew it would be huge even then, and we’re delighted to have been proved right.

A little while ago, while Kathryn was still working on her second book, The Secret, we caught up with her and asked her about her path to success. This never-before-seen interview might well give heart to writers everywhere. Now don’t forget – go to Audible.co.uk for your audio copy of The Letter today.

 

Talk Writing – Kathryn Hughes, Author of The Letter

Kathryn Hughes

Kathryn Hughes, self-publishing phenomenon.

Hi Kathryn. Thanks for taking time out of your writing schedule to talk to us.

Where did the central plot threads for The Letter come from? What made you so certain this was the book you needed to write?

It was many years ago that the first germ of an idea for this book came to me. I wanted to write about a letter that was discovered long after it had been written, but I wanted the added mystery that it had never actually been posted.  As to who wrote the letter and to whom and why they did not post it, I had no idea! The story developed in my head over the months and years after that initial idea and then in 2009 I finally got round to writing it. I wouldn’t say I was certain that it was a book I needed to write as such, but I did find the premise an intriguing one and hoped that readers would agree.

What sort of research did you do for the book in terms of the period and the psychology of domestic violence? Or did you simply set out to create a compelling story?

Never having suffered domestic violence myself, thankfully, I did rely on stories from other women unfortunate enough to live with a violent partner and there really are some heartbreaking and inspiring stories out there.  However, my book is set in 1973 when there was no law against domestic violence, so I couldn’t have Tina acting in way that a woman today might do. There were simply not the resources available at that time and it wasn’t talked about. In fact it wasn’t until the 1976 Domestic Violence Bill that women at risk could be acknowledged as homeless and earn the right to state help with temporary accommodation. It was against this backdrop that I had to write Tina’s story, while ensuring that the reader did not lose sympathy for her when she returned to her violent husband.

It’s clear from reader reaction that everyone loves The Letter. Were you prepared for the reaction?  Tell us about the journey you’ve been on since it was originally published. If this is not a ridiculous question, how has your life changed since writing The Letter.

I’m not sure it’s possible to please everyone but yes, the majority of people seem to like it!

I can’t remember what I was expecting from readers but I did know that I wanted people to read it and they weren’t going to be able to if it was languishing at the back of my filing cabinet. This is when I took the decision to have it professionally edited by Jefferson Franklin and then self-publish. My life has only changed in that I am now much more focussed on writing because I have a deadline to meet.

You’ve now got a deal with Headline. How far along are you in your next book? Any hints as to what we can expect from it?

I signed a two-book deal with Headline, one of which is The Letter which was published for the first time in paperback on 8th October. I have completed the second draft of Book 2 which is called The Secret and have to deliver it to the publisher by February 2016, although I can of course deliver early if I want to. Again, it is a dual narrative set in the long hot summer of 1976 and the present day. In 1976 the regulars of The Taverners pub in Manchester are preparing for a day trip to Blackpool.  After a horrific coach crash though, not all of them make it home. Forty years later and the consequences of that fateful day are still being felt by the families. But what if not all was as it seemed on that stretch of motorway and someone has been hiding a devastating secret…?

Intriguing stuff!
So other writers can get an idea of the scale of the things, how many copies of The Letter were sold before Headline dropped you a line? And how did you go about getting the word out about the book? Or did you? We knew as soon as we started reading it that The Letter was something special – was it mostly word of mouth that sold the book or did you employ a marketing strategy?

I think it was the book’s position in the Kindle Top 100 that first attracted Headline and of course the number of five-star reviews. It remained at No.1 in the whole of the Kindle store for two weeks and stayed in the Top 100 for a year. Bar the odd tweet to my three followers on Twitter, I did no marketing at all. With over 400,000 books in the paid Kindle store alone it is very difficult to bring your work to readers’ attention but when I made the book free for five days back in April 2014, over 9,000 people downloaded it and this really was the catalyst for everything that has happened since. It is impossible to under-estimate the power of word of mouth.

You pretty much inverted the traditional publishing route – e-publishing first, then attracting a publisher, who then found you an agent. What made you decide to go the e-publishing route first and would you recommend it? Are there specific things you think a book needs to have or do to be successful in the electronic marketplace that are different to what it needs to do to attract the traditional agent?

Once The Letter was completed I was eager for people to read it and did not want to go through the process of being rejected by agents. I chose e-book format only as it was more cost effective than a paperback and I did not want the whole publishing experience to become a vanity project. Having sold well over 300,000 copies and attracting a traditional book deal, it would be hard for me not to recommend this publishing route but I am well aware that it doesn’t happen this way for everyone. However, I would say that if anybody is considering self-publishing then make it the best book you possibly can and hire a professional editor. It is impossible for an author to edit or proof read their own work.

We understand there are at least hopes and possibly plans to bring The Letter to a wider audience in a different medium – TV or film. How’s that looking? Any idea yet when we might see that?

The most common feedback I receive from readers is that they found the book impossible to put down. The second most common observation is that it would make a great film. There are no firm plans yet but we’ll just have to wait and see…

Tell us about your writing routine. Are you a writer that has to sit in a particular place for x hours every day or do you write wherever you are. Or is it more relaxed and ad hoc than that?

The difference for me the second time round is that pesky deadline, so I have to be a lot more disciplined. I have an office in the garden where I do the actual writing, but I keep a notebook in my handbag and another one by my bedside for jotting down ideas as they come to me. I have been known to scribble down something brilliant at three in the morning, only to read it the next day and wonder what on earth I was thinking!

There are thousands, if not millions, of writers out there who’d love to emulate your success with The Letter. What, if anything, would you advise them to do if they want to write a best-selling book in your genre?

I can’t tell anyone how to write a novel, best-selling or otherwise, other than to say, make sure you do actually write it! Plenty of people I speak to tell me they have a wonderful idea for the next blockbuster but they just don’t have time to write it. If you truly believe in your idea, then stop procrastinating and find the time.

Speaking of finding the time, how long did it take you to write The Letter and would you say the subsequent book/s are taking you about as long or longer? Does it get easier, or harder, once you know what hundreds of thousands of readers are looking for from you?

The Secret, by Kathryn Hughes

The Secret – treat yourself to a double helping of Kathryn Hughes today.

I always say The Letter took me about three years to write, but it was probably much longer. However, I was still working during that time and had two kids to look after, so I only really got to work on it a couple of times a week.  The second book has only taken me about ten months to write the first draft because I am working on it every day and the deadline looms ever closer. I receive many messages via Facebook and Twitter from readers telling me they can’t wait for my next book, which is exciting but also a little daunting. I don’t want to let anyone down or be seen as a one-hit wonder. However, the feedback on the first draft has been good so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Buy The Letter on audiobook for just £1.99 today, AND

Why not get Kathryn’s second book, The Secret, now available as an e-book, paperback and audiobook, too.

From NaNo To Publication

Written by Tony Fyler on . Posted in News

Cover of Eternal Flame, bu Julie Emovon

A phoenix from the flames of NaNo?

A hearty congratulations to all this year’s NaNoWriMo winners – and also those who tried but perhaps didn’t quite reach the 50,00 NaNo word count during November.

Good sense demands that you should all be putting your NaNo work away for a month now, to get the necessary distance on it to see it with fresh and honest eyes when you come to redraft. But in case having done this year’s NaNo, you’re feeling a bit deflated about the actual creative value of the process, we spoke to Julie Emovon, who took the NaNo Challenge just two years ago – and has recently seen her NaNo novel, Eternal Flame, published.

Hi Julie. What made you decide to commit to the NaNoWriMo Challenge?

NaNo was something I had wanted to do for a couple of years, but I always managed to find some reason I couldn’t. It was either work, or the kids, or something. 2013, the year I wrote Eternal Flame, was actually the first year I committed to the idea. I have always written for fun, I have about a dozen ‘novels in progress’ on my hard drive, but life tended to get in the way of finishing. If procrastinating was an Olympic sport, I would be up there on the podium!

However, I know from studying that I work better when I have definite targets and time scales, rather than ‘sometime.’ NaNo helped me focus on the process because I had a goal to aim for.

In 2013 I found I had run out of excuses not to do the challenge. I was off work at the time and home alone rather a lot. That made it easier to concentrate on getting the job done

 

What made you think Eternal Flame was viable as a book to write in a month? Where did the ideas come from?

A germ of the idea had been in my mind for a couple of years, but in a slightly different form. My first idea was a time travelling phoenix/human hybrid, who accidently infected a human with a virus that caused him to become a phoenix, who then travelled through time trying to find her.

I had read lots of myths about the phoenix and firebirds from different traditions which kind of merged into one. I decided to follow the Slavic mythology as the main theme, but I do touch on a number of traditions along the way. I didn’t know if I could do the whole thing in a month, but I knew I had a reasonable plan to follow by the end of October, which would help facilitate the writing. Usually I tend to be a pantser, with minimal planning before hand. This time though, I had key points to hit along the way and a rough guide of word count for each section. I don’t think I honestly expected to achieve a finished novel in 30 days, but I knew I would have a 50,000 word base to work with.

 

Had you been published before? What, how and with whom?

Eternal Flame is the first novel I have published. Previously, I have had short stories published in local anthologies and magazines. I have also had a few poems published, in newspapers, magazines and such. I had a few published in a ‘gothic’ magazine, which can be read here.

 

Did you envisage Eternal Flame going the same route?

My ideal would have been to get a publishing deal in the traditional way, but over the last couple of years, I had begun to consider self publishing as a viable route. When I thought about submitting, I had assumed it would be first three chapters to agents and publishers and hope for the best. The reality was quite different to that.

 

Tell us about how you managed to write it. What pitfalls did you encounter, and how did you keep the discipline?

The first few days were quite easy to reach the word target, I was fired up and determined that this would be it. About the 14 day mark, I felt like I had hit a brick wall. I had exhausted the scenes I had in my head, got the basis of the legends down and had introduced my main characters. The exciting but was done, and now I had to fill in the missing bits. I has about 30K written at that point, which is a good chunk of writing in 2 weeks.

It was about this time that everyday life began to interfere as well, with people who had been supportive of the idea complaining about how much time it took up. I took a couple of days off, then set myself a strict routine of writing time, and allowed myself treats if I hit my word count.

At about this point, the plot took quite a dark, drastic twist from my original rather sweet love story. All of a sudden I knew how to finish.

 

Once you had the manuscript, what then?

I had a couple of people who offered to be beta readers and offered some ideas on how to make the narrative smoother. I am also a member of several writing groups online, where I posted a couple of chapters for feedback. This helped focus me on what worked and what did’t. Then it needed a bloody good edit, mainly due to me concentrating on quantity over quality for the first rushed draft. This is where you came in.

Too kind.

A couple of rewrites later, I felt that it was time to submit, see how it went down with people who mattered.

The story got darker in the rewriting process I think. I learnt that as a writer I don’t always have to play nice. I think this makes the story stronger and more interesting than my original premise.

 

How widely did you submit? Agents? Publishers? Any idea how many?

When the time to submit came, I opted for something I had heard about for the first time in the NaNoWriMo forums, a Twitter pitch. I attended a Twitter pitch party with a couple of writer friends. The principle being that on the set day, agents and publishing house reps made themselves on Twitter using the relevant hashtag. Authors get to pitch their novel in 140 characters, once an hour. If an agent or publisher was interested in your manuscript, they’d respond to your tweet with a request to see your novel.

That was an amazing experience. It allowed authors to get a quick idea of how their manuscript was being viewed in the industry, without the usual long wait for responses to submitted manuscripts. It also put your pitch in front of over 100 agents and publishers in just a couple of hours. Can you imagine what it would have taken in time and resources to be put in front of so many people in the old days?

I was dead chuffed that Eternal Flame got 11 requests for complete or partial manuscripts. I was quite pleased with the feedback I got, with a couple of publishing houses telling me they had really enjoyed the story but it didn’t fit with their catalogue (to be fair, I didn’t think the very religious one would publish it once they read more than the blurb, but still…)

 

What happened? Who was it that said yes to Eternal Flame? And on what sort of deal?

Three publishers made me a firm offer within a couple of weeks of receiving the full manuscript. All offered the same commission-based deal. All production costs such as cover design to be covered by them. I decided to go with Crimson Frost Publishing Group, which is based in Canada. I had researched all the companies that made offers, but the deciding factor for me was very old-fashioned and basic. I found one of their existing authors who lived in my home town and spoke to her about her experience. She was quite happy with all aspects of the process and had about half a dozen novels on their catalogue. So far, my experience with them has been excellent. I had an accident not long after I signed the deal, and they have been great at giving me time to heal and not rushing me into rewrites (did I mention I have been involved in three more intense edits and proof readings since signing?)

 

What advice would you give to help writers follow in your footsteps and go from NaNo to published?

I would say don’t worry if anyone but you will like it, just get it down. This is what NaNo does, enables you to turn off your inner editor and just throw it all out there. Experiment with finding your voice.

Once you have completed your novel, let people read it and give you feedback. This can feel like standing naked in the high street at first, but it does get easier. Listen to the excuses you are making to avoid committing yourself to the challenge. This has been a challenging year for me, but I know I will complete the 50k. I am using voice recognition software to mitigate the aching fingers and eyes. I have put my novel on a website called novlr.org, which allows you to have access to your work in progress on any computer, and even on your phone. I spent an hour in a doctor’s surgery waiting room this morning, adding to my latest word count on my phone, which was then synched with my laptop. I can throw out a hundred word in my break at work, and when I am too exhausted to type, I take my laptop up to bed, turn on the voice recognition and turn off the light while I lay and dictate. It is easier to write a novel and get it out there now than at any other time in history. Make use of all the technology and social networking you can to help you with the process, feedback and reaching the goal of seeing a book with your name on it on your shelf.

To check out Julie’s successful NaNo novel, Eternal Flame, go to Amazon right now.

Five Guns BlazingTo Readers

Written by Tony Fyler on . Posted in News

Five Guns Blazing

Five Guns Blazing will blast its way into your must-read pile, time and time again.

Every now and again, a manuscript comes across our desk here at JFE that just won’t let us go.

A manuscript that once we start reading, we can’t stop until it’s done.

Five Guns Blazing, by Emma Rose Millar and Kevin Allen, was one of those.

With its historical settings in the 1700s, ranging from the harsh realities of a London workhouse to the dramatic and perilous life of a pirate on the high seas, Five Guns Blazing has the personality of a Moll Flanders, the sensuality of a Tipping The Velvet, and the period realism of a Slammerkin, which are just some of the reasons the book was awarded first place in the Legend category at the Chaucer 2014 Awards, and why it caught the eye of Crooked Cat Publishing.

Hoist sail without delay and get ye to Amazon or to the Crooked Cat website, and get your copy of Five Guns Blazing today, as it launches to the wide world. You’ll not regret it!