My characters have their say (again)

You'll Never Walk Alone by Chris Hall Share the love this Valentine's month

‘I do like this new cover, Ms Hall.’ Cynthia opens the book and riffles the pages in front of her. ‘And I love the smell of a brand new book!’ She holds it out in a finely manicured hand and examines the cover again. ‘It conveys an air of romance, but without all those bulging biceps and bosoms like so many of the genre.’

Connor frowns. ‘I’d never really thought of it as a romance novel per se; it’s more gritty and down to earth, but with the elements of mystery and fantasy cleverly woven in.’

‘Oh, but Connor, it’s full of romance, right from the start. When Pierre sweeps Lucy off her feet… But you’re right; it has much more substance to it than a typical romance.’

For a moment I bathe in my characters’ praise.

Connor hands me a cup of tea, then picks up the whisky bottle from the sideboard and waves it in my direction. I shake my head. Connor shrugs and returns it to its place. ‘I hear you’re running another promotion*, Ms Hall; riding on the wave of Valentine’s month, so to speak.’

‘Romance Reading Month!’ exclaims Cynthia clapping her hands together so that the fine bracelet on her wrist jingles. I haven’t seen that before. ‘Charming idea.’

‘And you have a couple of interviews lined up, I gather,’ Connor continues. ‘You know, my few days at the Edinburgh book festival last year made such a difference.’ Connor sips his whisky-enhanced tea. ‘My agent’s got me an advance for another slim volume of my poems on the back of an interview I did.’

Okay, so my poet’s doing better than me. I did give him the agent though. And the gig at the book festival.

I change the subject. ‘Where’s everyone else?’ Normally I’m confronted with a roomful of my characters.

As if on cue, there’s a tap on the door.

‘It’s open, darling,’ calls Cynthia.

Lucy appears, her long blonde hair shining. I notice her face and arms bear a lovely honey-coloured tan.

‘You’re back, Lucy!’ I exclaim.

‘Of course I am; we’ve Gina’s wedding to plan.’ Well, okay, I knew Gina had got engaged after the book ended, I saw the ring.

‘Is Pierre with you?’ I should know, but my characters have a habit of making it up as they go along.

Lucy nods. ‘He’s got a job at Probe Records.’

‘I suppose having a…’ Connor interrupts himself with a cough. ‘Sorry, I almost gave an important piece of your plot away there.’

‘And guess who else is coming over for the wedding… oh,’ Lucy clamps her hand over her mouth, ‘now I nearly did I!’

‘There seems to have been a lot happening in your lives,’ I say.

Connor raises an eyebrow in my direction. ‘Enough to write a sequel perhaps? Of course we know you’re busy with another project but…’

‘…maybe next year?’ Lucy winks at me.


If you’ve no idea who these people are, or what they’re talking about, you’d better read the book!

*Valentine’s Month Offer:
Download for 99c at amazon.com or 99p from amazon.co.uk

read it anywhere

 

Writer seeks reader…

Kindle front page

I’ve put together a collection of offers for e-readers which will start on Black Friday!

  • A 4 day free ebook offer for You’ll Never Walk Alone will start on Thursday 28 November at midnight PST.  I’ll be doing some targeted advertising to parts of the US and Canada via a Facebook ad campaign to see how the novel will be received ‘across the pond’.
  • Hot on its heels will be a 5 day freebie of Following the Green Rabbit which I’m going to run alongside a reduced-price offer on the paperback version, targeted at UK readers on amazon.uk. Again I’ll be trying some paid advertising via Facebook. This certainly worked for my ‘summer-read’ novel: ‘The Silver Locket’ (penned as Holly Atkins), reached the dizzy heights of No.17 in the UK charts for free Kindle books during that campaign.
  • And talking of the summer, I’m going to try a similar freebie offer directed towards Australia and New Zealand to see if they’d like to pour themselves a Pimm’s and spend a sunny afternoon with The Silver Locket over the holidays there.

Offers will be across all Amazon territories, so you might want to bookmark this page, although, of course, I’ll be mentioning them again as they’re launched!

thank you

To everyone who has read my books already.

Especially to everyone who has read, rated and reviewed
on their WordPress sites, on Goodreads and on Amazon. 

I’m really thrilled by your support and enthusiasm for my work!

 

 

Another conversation with my characters

all 4 books

“Nice review of ‘Sextet’, Ms Hall,” says Connor, as Cynthia hands me a cup of coffee. “Would you like a little something in that?” He waves a hip flask in my direction.

I shake my head. It’s a bit early for me.

Connor pours a liberal slug into his own cup. “Of course, I find a slim volume always has an appeal; like those novellas that Leonardi chap’s written. I must say, I do like his work.”

“Connor did very well with both his poetry collections at the Edinburgh Book Festival.” Cynthia smiles at him proudly.

“Publicity, d’you see.” He takes a mouthful of coffee. “Isn’t it time you gave our book another little push? I mean, we know you’ve only just released ‘The Rabbit’…” he chuckles. “‘Released the rabbit’, rather catchy that, eh?”

I nod in acknowledgement. I have used that, corny as it may be.

“Oh, it’s a lovely story, Ms Hall. Quite charming!” Cynthia interjects. “That nice young woman, Ellie Scott, enjoyed it too, didn’t she? So nice to hear from her.

“Our book’s done well in the ratings, but it doesn’t seem to have achieved quite the sales we might have hoped, does it?” Connor rubs his chin.

“I thought it would’ve sold loads more by now.” Gina drains her coffee.

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you all ab…”

I’m interrupted by an instantly familiar beat coming from the flat upstairs. Gina rolls her eyes. “Not again! I’ve woken up to that song every morning since Bob moved into Lucy’s old room,” she sighs. “Hold on.” Gina gets to her feet and hurries upstairs.

“It has become a little tiresome,” says Cynthia.

“You can always bunk in with me, old thi… Cynth.”

Cynthia looks at him sharply.

The music stops. Moments later Gina returns followed by Gary and Bob who has Fingers perched on his shoulder. The little monkey chirrups when he recognises me, launching himself from Bob’s shoulder, via the back of Cynthia’s couch, onto my lap.

Gina, Gary and Bob squeeze onto the couch and look at me expectantly. I stroke Fingers’s head.

“The thing is, I may have made a misjudgment with the title.”

“How so, Ms Hall? I think it’s a lovely sentiment, using that pretty song from Carousel.” Cynthia beams.

“You mean the Liverpool football team anthem. That’s what it’s properly famous for.” Gary thrusts out his chest which is clad in the latest LFC team shirt. “Best team in the world!”

“That’s just the point, Gary,” I say. “Not everyone would agree.”

“Me Nan wasn’t best pleased with yer title. You know, being an Evertonian, like,” said Bob. “I mean, she did read it, but only ’cos of Fingers being in it.”

Hearing his name, Fingers sits up and chatters.

“Do you think that’s the reason? The title?” asks Gina.

“Quite possibly. Certainly in the UK.” I remember the reaction on Twitter back in July.

“So what would you call it?

“I’m not sure, Gina.”

“How about ‘We are the Champions’,” suggests Gary.

I frown.

“Don’t be daft, Gary,” Gina digs him in the ribs.

“Well, we were all champions in the end, weren’t we?” Gary holds his hands out. “I mean, Connor here…”

I hold up my hand. “Don’t give away the plot!”

“No, well, y’know what I mean.”

Cynthia turns to Connor. “What do you think? You’re so good with titles.”

Connor rubs his hand across his face. “What about ‘The Ruby Necklace’? Pierre giving Lucy that necklace is your inciting incident, isn’t it?”

“That fits in so well with your first book,” Cynthia claps her hands together. “The Silver Locket followed by ‘The Ruby Necklace’. That would be perfect.”

“And after that, ‘The Solitaire Diamond’..?” Gina touches her engagement ring.

I nod slowly. I wonder, maybe I should change the title?


The music referred to is ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order, which my flat-mate played loudly every morning for the whole of our last term at university.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYH8DsU2WCk

 

Book Signing and Sales

Here we are, Friday evening at our Book Launch Party! 

Wonderful local wine and people enjoying the atmosphere.

A few of the pics from the Q and A session involving after Paul and I had told everyone about our books, with local authors Natasha Anders and Rae Rivers, and cover designers and illustrators Cliff Davies and Theresa Wilds.

The photos were taken by my good friend and photographer, Laurette van der Merwe. Find her here Laurette’s Photography and here Laurette’s Fine Art Photography and Artwork. Our launch was held at Chelsea Cafe who’d stoked up the fire and made us delicious soup to keep us going over the evening.

Paul and I both sold. We didn’t sell out, but we did do well. Our book links are here.

A good night all round, and nicely capped off the following evening by Liverpool Football Club’s victory in the European Cup. I’m sure Bob and Gary would’ve been in the crowd.

They’re singing our song again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Writers Get Stuck: Marketing

This article gave me a little prod of encouragement when it comes to marketing. I’m clearly not putting enough energy into my efforts and I need to re-double this for my forthcoming novel ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

A Writer's Path

by Allison Maruska

Now it’s time for the super secret post you’ve all been waiting for. Remember this Twitter poll?

View original post 893 more words

The Undaunted Author

The Undaunted Author photo by Kevin Langlais lunaslonline by Chris Hall
Photo by Kevin Langlais on Unsplash

The building stands proud and prominent on a history-dense corner in the commercial district of the Big City. Not a member of a countrywide chain in a modern mall, this proudly independent book store has character. The floors are wood and mosaic and a rickety stairway leads down to the basement (children’s books and non-fiction, coffee and cake).

The author enters. Staff members are all busy with the stock. She peruses the shelves studiously. Virtually all of the fiction they carry is literary fiction. There is no ‘populist’ or mass-market stuff. Actually, these are the books which the author likes to read.

Awesome company surrounds her.

She ventures downstairs. The children’s books are for early middle grade and below. No YA at all. The coffee smells good and there are lots of comfy seats. A couple of students are chatting quietly and, at a rough wooden table, two women are deep in conversation over a laptop and a sheaf of closely typed pages.

The author sits down with a coffee and a rather dusty chocolate brownie. She selects a literary magazine from the low table in front of her and listens in to the two women. Eaves-dropping is second nature to an author, after all.

They are discussing which new books they are going to take for the store!

Dare she disturb them?

She thinks about the Margaret Atwoods and the Zadie Smiths upstairs. The beautiful book covers with their multiple reviews and recommendations. She hears them reject the latest Alan Titchmarsh.

She is intimidated.

She buries her head in the literary magazine. Time passes. She listens and ‘people watches’. For a Monday afternoon there are a surprising number of customers. She pigeon-holes them for future reference.

Finally, the two women finish their meeting and go upstairs. The author abandons the remains of the brownie; her mouth is dry enough as it is. She takes a deep breath, then takes the stairs.

One of the women is leaving, but the other smiles at her from behind the desk. The author approaches and enquires in general terms about the store’s purchasing policy. What the owner has to say is interesting, but not exactly encouraging. She explains how they know their purchasing clientele and what will sell in their store.

And here it comes. The woman’s guessed what’s she’s really asking. The author owns up and bravely tells her about her book.

The owner is very pleasant. She explains that they select less than one percent of Indie Authors’ work each year. Anything they do pick has to have a local ‘buzz’ about it. The author’s novel clearly doesn’t fit.

The woman is kind. Another might…one day.

The author reflects. It would be nice to have her book in a bricks and mortar store. But one book, amongst all these… and in just one store..?

At least she has something to share on her blog.

…/ previously

Have you heard the one about…

bookstore-by-pj-accetturo-on-unsplash.jpg
Bookstore by Pj Accetturo on Unsplash

So, this writer walks into a book store. She has a mooch about; she knows the store well. She often comes in, to browse (books are so expensive). It’s one of the largest book selling chains in the country. Nicely fitted out, and the staff are always friendly. It must be nice to work in a book store, surrounded by all those lovely books.

The writer picks up the latest copy of The Artist magazine. She’s written a few articles on behalf of clients which have been published in this particular periodical. Not that the artists get paid – it’s for their publicity. Nor does she get a mention, but at least the clients pay for her time. She has an idea for another of her clients.

But that’s not why she came today.

Clutching the magazine, she approaches the desk. One of the assistants intercepts her. “Can I help you?”

She takes a deep breath. “Can I just ask you..?”

The assistant smiles encouragingly. He’s a nice-look young man; intelligent, open-faced.

“Can I just ask you if the store supports Indie Authors?” (There, she said it).

The assistant smiles kindly; a little apologetically. “No, no, never. It’s all done by Head Office…with the publishers, you know.” He pauses. “There was this one time though…”

“Go on,” the author says, leaning forward, as if some major confidence might be shared; some key to unlock…

The assistant is speaking. “The lady’s books were selling very well. There was a lot of publicity. She was selling her books out of the boot of her car.” He shakes his head. “It was a bit greedy really. You know, on the part of the store. They realised they could make money out of her. It didn’t last long.”

The author nods. “So you have to be popular first?”

The assistant nods and smiles sympathetically (pityingly?)

The author nods. “I’ll just pay for this then.” (At least she asked. The ground didn’t swallow her up). She leaves the book store, head held high.

…/ continued

 

Would you buy this book?

liverpool skyline pixabay
Liverpool Skyline, Pixabay

When 23 year old Lucy is given a beautiful ruby necklace by Pierre, a gorgeous man she’s only just met in a Liverpool nightclub, her humdrum life is changed forever. But the ruby is more than just an expensive jewel, and Albie Chan, the sinister Triad boss, is determined to have it for himself, forcing Pierre and Lucy to flee the city.

Meanwhile, Lucy’s best friend and flat mate, Gina, has been tracking down the father whom she never knew. Now Godrell Clark, once a sailor from Jamaica who was part of the Liverpool jazz scene in the sixties, finds his past is catching up with him fast, all the way to Kingston, Jamaica.

But there is an even greater prize than the ruby, and passions run high when a mysterious little jade statue turns up in a pile of boxes belonging to the upstairs tenants in Lucy and Gina’s rented house.

Lucy is snatched by Chan and Pierre faces an impossible choice: obtain the statue for Chan and gain Lucy’s freedom, or hand it over his one-time guardian and employer, the mysterious Aurora, to whom he owes his freedom from his brutal childhood.


So, you know what this is? It’s my long-sweated over first attempt at a blurb for my recently-completed novel. I’m not entirely happy with it, but I’ve stared at it long enough!

Some of you may have read the story (or bits of it) as a work in progress last year, so you’ll have an idea of the story. Others won’t, and you’re coming to it cold.

Would you buy on the strength of the pitch?
Would you at least ‘download it for a dollar’?

Writerly friends, please would you care to give me some feedback? Constructive criticism really is most welcome.

What will 2019 bring?

cropped-editing-youll-never-walk-alone-by-chris-hall-lunasonline.jpg

Just a teeny-weeny slightly self-indulgent post to clear the decks and set me on a whole new year of writing. Note the new theme which is perhaps a bit tidier (unlike my desk).

I have finally finished editing the novel which I was writing all last year (between other things, like paid work). The next phase is the boring and daunting bit, the publishing and marketing. I’m going to take this slowly. Deep breaths!

So now I shall be turning my attention to my new work-in-progress novel. It’s the children’s book which I roughly drafted during NaNoWriMo. It hasn’t even got a working title yet, but very soon it will take the place of You’ll Never Walk Alone which will be disappearing from the pages here.

And there will still be my weekly little fiction pieces, responses, random thoughts and that kind of thing, and of course, reading all your lovely stories and engaging with the writing community on social media. However, I will mostly be writing fiction!

 

Author Reviews: how do you feel?

I come across this article by one of my favourite authors, Kate Atkinson, which she wrote in response to a review of her latest novel by the American novelist Jonathan Dee in the New Yorker.

You can read the full article for yourself by following the the link below, but as I was reading, I was initially incensed on her behalf by Dee describing her as ‘matronly’. I mean, how dare he? (Note that Ms Atkinson is a contemporary of mine, even down to having grown up in the same city, not that we knew each other).

In his review, Dee makes much of a comparison with the work of Rachel Cusk, who is an exponent of “autofiction” (a form of fictionalised autobiography). There’s a further link in the main article to a piece about this form of expression, which is apparently gaining in popularity. It’s not something I’d care to explore; writing from the imagination seems to me to be the whole point of novel writing.

But back to the point about authors reviewing authors. Reviews are important, and I’m very grateful for the lovely reviews I’ve received on my published work so far. I believe that we should try to support each other and if we really don’t like a book, maybe just keep our opinions private.

Some food for thought here. What’s your view?


Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd

Kate Atkinson calls authors reviewing their peers a ‘callous art’

British novelist who recently published latest book “Transcription” says she tries not to read bad reviews

Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson, Author (and not at all matronly)

The literary world is packed with novelists reviewing the books of their colleagues but it is not something Kate Atkinson would do, calling it a “callous art”.