Welcome Regency Historical author Heather King.

I’m very pleased to welcome author Heather King to my blog. Heather writes historical novels set in the Regency period. Also, under the name of Vandalia Black, she writes fantasy novels.

  Hi Heather, please tell us a little about yourself.

Hello Carol, it is lovely to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

I live in a beautiful rural part of the UK and share my home with various life forms, including two ponies, three cats, a rescued ‘Staffie’ X and a newly acquired, goofy black Labrador. I have a passion for dressage, words and stately homes; I love adverbs, am a bookworm, paperholic, grammar warden and picture straightener. I am never happier than in my wellies and can have a warped sense of humour at times. I write traditional stories, sweeping my readers into another world where they can walk beside my characters and experience events as they happen. My aim is always flowing prose, witty dialogue, engaging characters and bags of emotion – only my readers can say if I succeed!
Have you always wanted to be a writer or was it something that came to you later in life?

Even as a small child I loved to write – and dream. My bedroom had flower-edged squares on the wallpaper and it was perfect for writing my ‘news’. Although I used pencil, I pressed on rather hard! I don’t think my mother was very impressed, but I don’t recall any major repercussions. Perhaps, secretly, she was amused. There were always books to read, yet while I loved all kinds of stories, strangely, I never had ambitions to be a writer. I wanted to be a vet – until I realized I wasn’t tough enough or academic enough! I always wanted to work with animals.
What attracted you to the Regency period?

I’ve always liked history. When I was aged about eleven, I discovered Georgette Heyer’s Regency and Georgian novels. I became instantly hooked on that era, although I didn’t dare to write one for a very long time. I knew I could never come close to Georgette Heyer’s brilliance and did not want to set myself up to fail. Now I know no-one can match her and all the rest of we poor mortals can do is our very best.

I love the elegance, the courtesy (even when insulting someone!), the architecture and furniture, the horses and – above all – men in breeches and neckcloths!
How much research do you find you need to do?

It varies. Because I spend most of my life in the nineteenth century <grin> I am fairly well versed in the day to day information. It is when my characters decide to throw me a googly and alter my plans for them that I can suddenly find myself burning the midnight oil as I follow a rabbit warren of paths to find an elusive piece of information.
In fact, I spend a fair amount of time down research rabbit holes at times like that. A classic example was for the novel I released in August last year. The Missing Duke centres upon the title character’s brother, who works for the Duke of Wellington in a secret, information-gathering capacity. (The book is a stand-alone story, yet part of the Heart of a Hero series with other authors). The story is set around the world of ballooning, so I had to do an enormous amount of research about that. My hero set off on a mission to Dover, so I had to research the town in the 1800s, along with suitable hotels and people in authority at the time, since permission was required for an unexpected trip to France. My hero took it into his head to send his secretary (my heroine in disguise) to Paris. Thus, having researched balloon flights, wind speeds, times and distances etc. across the Channel, I suddenly found I needed information on the road, hotels, distances and travel requirements to Paris, to say nothing of the city itself. I rather felt like a mole after that lot!


When do you find the best time to write?

When the muse takes me! No, being serious, morning is usually the best, although it isn’t always possible. Between the proper job, editing (which I also do) and looking after the animals, it is often a case of fitting it in when I can. I usually find anything I’ve written late in the evening has to be heavily reworked or discarded, though. Tiredness obviously clouds my judgement!

Are you a planner or a pantser?

I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t plot the whole book because I would never get started. I’m not able to produce ideas that way. I will have a rough idea of where the story is going when I start and then I leave it to the characters to tell me what will happen next. As I said before, they often cause me headaches by deciding to do something I hadn’t foreseen. I do think too much plotting can steal the freshness from a story. (All your plotters will now be up in arms!) The thing is, there is no right way. Every writer should write in the way which suits them, not to some formula designated by others.
The Historical Supper Club is one of the many Facebook sites you host. What gave you the idea for it?

“I wouldn’t say many,” she riposted, chuckling.

My friend Susana Ellis was involved in a weekly Facebook event set around the Regency custom of inviting people to take tea. She asked me to be a guest author and I thought it was a great idea, rather than a promo-fest which so many of the parties are. I asked her if she minded my appropriating the idea and received the go-ahead.

In the late eighteenth century in particular, gentlemen were fond of literary and similar clubs where they would meet on a regular basis, often discussing topics over dinner. I thought it would be different to have a Facebook club on similar lines, my original idea being to base it on two to three hour ‘meetings’. The inaugural event was a success, so we decided to do another at Christmas. We went all out and celebrated the Twelve Hours of Christmas, starting here in the UK, moving to the US for three hours and then continuing in Australasia while in Europe we all slept. It was a wonderful event. We did a second one at the end of January, but then I became very busy releasing Chains of Fear, (see excerpt below) so we had a little hiatus until the Midsummer Ball in July. The next one is to be a masquerade – coming soon! – and then, hopefully, we will do some shorter events through the winter.
Perhaps you’d tell us a little about the other Facebook sites?

Aside from my author page and editing/proof-reading page, I have a VIP Readers’ group for people who enjoy my books – Heather’s Ballroom Heroes – and the Historical Supper Club Authors’ group for the planning of events. I also run a new group for Creative Writing called Chapter & Verse. I wanted to give something back, since I have been lucky enough to have been given a great deal of help when I needed it. It is my belief there are people who would love to try their hand at writing but are too embarrassed to go to a writing workshop. I want to encourage those people to have a go. Equally, established authors might like new exercises to refresh their ideas, or feedback on a piece, or to do some brainstorming. Others might need help with equestrian or Regency queries.
Which books do you like to read? Who is your favourite author?

Sadly, I don’t seem to find time for reading these days, except when editing. However, I love a book in which I can get lost; a story which sweeps you away and completely absorbs you. Unfortunately, being an editor makes it hard to switch off and not critique.

Probably my all-time favourite author is still Georgette Heyer, although I love Elizabeth Chadwick’s books along with many others. I adore Regency Romances, but they have to be historical fiction and well written, not those which could be set in any time. I enjoy medieval stories of derring-do and crime mysteries such as the Cadfael stories; I also like some modern paranormal/fantasy novels.
Do you have a favourite character from your own books and/or from another author?

I will admit to a very soft spot for the hero of my debut novel, A Sense of the Ridiculous, Richard Cowley. He does have opposition, though, in the hero of my newest release, Julian Templeton from Chains of Fear. As to other authors, there are just so many! From William Marshal, Britain’s forgotten Regent, to Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes; Robin Hood to the Four Musketeers; Georgette Heyer’s sprightly heroines and debonair heroes to Darcy and Elizabeth… I don’t think I can choose one there, although one of the most memorable has to be GH’s Leonie from These Old Shades. Bah!

Tell us a little about Vandalia Black and why your write for a genre so far removed from the Regency novels.

It all began when I attended Sue Johnson’s writing workshops in Pershore. At the time, I was reading a lot of vampire and other paranormal romance novels from the library, so it was a natural progression to write similar pieces in her exercises. Sue encouraged me to write short stories and submit them. It is a wonderful way to learn discipline and the skill of writing to a word count. The stories mounted up and she suggested I publish a collection – and so Vandalia Black was born. I am now considering, with the exception of the anthology, publishing everything I write under my own name, but I do have a considerable affection for Vandalia.

There is a freedom in writing something contemporary, especially in a fantasy world the author controls. It helps to refresh my creative juices for the historical novels, as well as allowing me to be a teensy bit steamier than I am in my Regency stories.
If time permits, what do you do to relax?

What is relaxing??? I usually seem to have a list of things to do! When I’m not writing, I enjoy grooming my ponies, taking long walks with the dogs, wandering around Country Houses (I never want to leave), watching costume dramas and, of course, curling up with a good book. Oh, and watching Hugh Jackman in just about anything!!
Finally, do you have any tips or advice for someone just starting out on their writing journey?

Read, read, read. Read good quality books by renowned authors in the genre you want to write in. If it’s historical, learn about the era. Immerse yourself in the mores of the time, the fashions, dialogue and manner of speaking, the architecture, food and customs. An historical novel without any historical content is not worth the paper it’s printed on or the digital space it occupies – and it has to be correct.

Write every day, even if it is only for a few minutes. The writing muscle needs exercising, the same as any other. Keep going even if you think it is rubbish. Within the fluff there may be a thread of gold you can use. Besides, eventually it will build into something. You can’t edit a blank page!

Write what you like to read and what you know. Write the story you are burning to tell.

Write in the way that suits you. We are all different. The usual advice is to get the story down as fast as you can and then edit afterwards. This does not suit everyone. Some people can plot a whole novel, with all their characters’ obstacles listed chapter by chapter. If I tried to do that I would not write anything. My books evolve as I get to know my characters and they tell me what comes next.

If possible, join a writing group, preferably with a published author or qualified teacher. If you are embarrassed to share your work in public, Sue Johnson does online courses via her website at http://www.writers-toolkit.co.uk/about.html or you can join me at Chapter & Verse Creative Writing https://www.facebook.com/groups/1063760537127282/

Never give up! Keep trying – and always carry a notebook with you.

Use the senses in your writing to give the reader a fuller picture.

An excerpt from Chains of Fear  

When diplomat Sir Julian Templeton falls over a stricken gentlewoman, he little expects to end up marrying her. Neither does he anticipate the pitfalls he must negotiate, nor the shifts he must make, in order to win his bride’s love and trust.
Impoverished and desperate, Miss Helena Dorking reluctantly accepts the handsome stranger’s offer of help after she is left for dead in the snow. When, on finding his mother unexpectedly from home, Sir Julian honourably offers marriage to save Helena from ruin, she has little choice but to accept him. Yet how can she be the wife he wants and needs? How can she overcome her fears and allow herself to love him?
Somehow Julian must find a way to cut the chains which bind Helena to her fear so he can win her heart.

Julian narrowed his eyes. Was the girl a common thief? True enough, she was dressed in little more than rags, yet her voice had been cultured and had contained a ring of pride, of authority. He fixed his gaze on the sorry specimen in front of him, knowing full well who held the reins in this establishment. Mrs. Perry was famed in the locality for ruling both her husband and her business with an iron hand, and for her inflexible views on anyone or anything she considered immoral. One look at the girl’s poor clothing would have been enough to damn her, he was sure.
“Did she eat the ham?” he asked, his low voice holding a current of steel the man could not mistake.
“Well, as to that, sir,” blustered the innkeeper, avoiding Julian’s sharp perusal and looking uncomfortable, “I believe she had already gone when my wife brought it to her.”
If the woman had delivered it at all, Julian thought cynically.
“So she has naught to pay for and you have no reason to refuse to proffer her assistance now.” His tone brooked no argument.
“I shall see to it right away, sir.”
“Good. See that you do. Oh, and Perry?” The landlord turned back again, one hand tugging at his ear and his forehead puckered. He shuffled his feet and tried to avoid Julian’s stern gaze. “Tell Mrs. Perry, if she has any further doubts on the matter, I shall stand the nonsense.”
“Oh, ah… very good, sir. As you wish, sir.”
The hotelier bowed and scuttled away, leaving Julian once more eyeing the prone figure. For some absurd reason he could not fathom, he had a notion she was in need of his protection – and that was a circumstance he preferred not to contemplate. This situation was already fraught with sufficient pitfalls to induce terror in a stronger man than he.
Murmuring an apology, he took back his greatcoat, endeavouring not to notice the girl’s long, slender limbs where the thin gown hugged them, nor remember the pitiful lack of flesh on her bones. His gaze shuddered unwillingly to the swell of her bodice, surprised to find the curves of a woman, not the child he had thought her. A wave of something indefinable squeezed his chest, as unexpected as it was unwanted. He was a fool. She could be anybody. She could be a beggar, a thief, a fallen woman – even, mayhap, with an illegitimate child secreted somewhere nearby. So why, when he could have had his pick of the fashionable ladies in Vienna and yet had felt nothing, did he feel such a reaction now?
Interrupting his thoughts, the girl chose that moment to stir. Her lashes fluttered against her alabaster cheek. Then her eyes opened; the wealth of sadness in their emerald depths speared his heart. Like a moth, her gaze flitted back and forth. When, at length, it settled on him, a flicker of alarm crossed her face and with a tiny mewl, she scuttled back against the chair arm farthest from him. Wincing at the movement, she raised one hand to her head, the other reaching out in supplication.
“Keep away from me!” Her voice was a thin reed of fear.
With a calmness he was far from feeling, Julian stepped backwards, both hands aloft in placatory fashion.
“Rest assured, you are quite safe,” he soothed. “Indeed, I mean you no harm. I found you in difficulty without.” He gestured towards the doorway. “I have sent for the landlady; she will see you to a bedchamber and attend your injury.”
Instead of showing relief at his words, the girl’s eyes widened and she shook her head. She seemed terrified.
“No… no, sir, I cannot,” she stuttered, her voice cracking in a manner far removed from her previous assurance. With a wild look around the room, she swung her feet to the floor and began to rise. “I cannot remain here.”
No sooner had she gained her feet than she turned the colour of whey and swooned, her body collapsing forward in a limp tangle of grey fabric. Dropping his coat, Julian caught her mere inches from the floor. It was as he was rising with her cradled against his broad chest that Mrs. Perry entered the room. Wearing a white apron over a brown wool gown, and an expression of outrage, she paused on the threshold, her arms folded beneath her ample bosom and her starched cap quivering with indignation.
“Well! I said from the start that young woman was no better than she ought to be. Arriving on foot as she did, without escort or luggage and, I’ll warrant, barely a penny to her name. She’ll have been dismissed, that’s what, and as I told Perry, I’ll not have such as her in this house. You’ll not set her up as your fancy-piece here, Sir Julian, no matter how much of the nonsense you plan to stand for! I will thank you to—”
“She is not my—”
“—I will thank you to remove yourself and the young woman from these premises forthwith. Such goings-on as I never thought to see – and in my own coffee room! I confess to being surprised in you, Sir Julian, I always considered you a gentleman of high moral fibre.”
“Mrs. Perry, if I might explain. The young lady swooned.”
“Ay, I daresay she did,” the incensed lady uttered darkly. “Well, she may do it elsewhere. This is a respectable establishment, Sir Julian. She is not welcome here and, I am sorry to say, neither are you whilst you keep such dubious company. Good evening.” In high dudgeon, she swept from the room.
Julian swore softly and glanced down at the woeful figure in his arms. “Now, what the Good Lord am I to do with you?” he muttered. “I cannot just abandon you.”

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Paula Martin talks about her new novel and a beautiful part of Ireland

I'm delighted to welcome Paula Martin to my blog. Her latest novel in the Mist Na Mara series is due to be released this week.  Paula tells us about why she loves writing her 'Irish' novels.

Where did the inspiration for Irish Shadows come from?
I knew I wanted to write a fifth Irish story and, as my other four ‘Mist Na Mara’ books are all stand-alone stories, with different heroes and heroines, I needed a new hero and heroine. Fortunately, one of the minor characters in Book 4, Irish Deceptions was nudging me to write her story. Then I realised it was five years since I wrote the first of my Irish books, so what better than to have an anniversary celebration at Mist Na Mara Arts Centre, and bring in an a rather gorgeous American event manager to organise it? I also wanted the story to include an aspect of Irish history, and it didn’t take me long to realise that the Irish Civil War in the 1920s would give my characters an unsolved mystery to deal with, in addition to their relationship issues, and the other shadows from their pasts.

I know you like to have a person in mind when picturing your main characters. Who did you choose for Rose and Liam?
Rose is a figment of my imagination. I can picture her in my mind, but I didn’t base her on anyone in particular. I have to confess, though, that I soon realised Liam bore a rather striking resemblance to the Canadian Prime Minister!

Do you enjoy the research you do for your novels? You must have done a great deal of research about the civil war. Do you find it difficult to pick which parts you want to include?
As a historian by profession (and a long career as a history teacher), I enjoy researching anything! However, as with all background research, I invariably end up with far more information than I actually need for the story. There’s a fine line between too much and not enough info, and I (eventually!) pare it down to what I think is absolutely necessary. Probably 95% of my research doesn’t appear in the story, but that 95% is necessary in order to ensure that the 5% I actually use is correct.

Many of the characters in Shadows are old friends. Are you particularly fond of any of them?
As you say, they are old friends now, and I feel as if I know them better than some of my real-life friends! I always become very fond of my heroes and heroines while I am writing their stories, and several of them live on, in minor roles, in the later novels. Other characters in the stories also became very real, and very dear, to me. One of my favourites is Alice Vernon, an aged actress, who featured in Irish Intrigue. To begin with, I imagined her as Maureen O’Hara, but somehow she morphed into Maggie Smith! Sister Gabriel, in Irish Secrets, is another favourite – stern and uncooperative to begin with, but mellowing into a gentle and loving soul who goes out of her way to help the heroine of the story. And, of course, I must mention Finny – Adam Finlay – a cheeky, streetwise thirteen-year-old. When he was first mentioned in Irish Deceptions, I had no idea he was going to capture my heart! But he did, and so I had to bring him into Irish Shadows with a bigger part to play. Even my editor, after she read the manuscript, said, ‘I LOVE Finny!’ And so do I.

As ever in all the Mist Na Mara series, you take us to some beautiful places. You must know this area really well? Which is your favourite place?
I fell in love with the wild, unspoiled area of Connemara when I first saw it eleven years ago. I’ve been to the west of Ireland about eight times since then, and I always smile when I see my first view of the Twelve Bens as I drive along the N59 road from Galway to Clifden. The mountains aren’t especially high (none of them over 2,500 feet) but they are stark and dramatic, and I love them. I’ve featured several other favourite places into the books, notably the Sky Road, near Clifden, which has wonderful views of Clifden Bay and the Atlantic, and, of course, the small town of Clifden itself. Other favourites include Galway Bay, the Cliffs of Moher, and also the small town of Dalkey and nearby Killiney Bay on the east coast of Ireland.

Is Skelleen based on a real place?
Partly! I actually amalgamated two places I have visited to ‘create’ the village of Skelleen, and my imagination added more details. I ‘located’ it in a real place, and have given a few clues in a couple of the books. Probably only people with a knowledge of the area can pick up on those clues and work out where ‘Skelleen’ actually is!

I love the cover for Shadows. Are you pleased with it? Who designed it?
It was designed by Elle J. Rossi, who designed all my Mist Na Mara covers, and I love it. I think it’s my favourite of all the Irish covers. The characters are perfect, and I feel that the background, with the grey clouds over the bay, represents the shadows of the past which Rose and Liam have to deal with in order to find a future together.

Many of your readers have been eagerly waiting for Irish Shadows, the fifth book in the series. I understand you thought this may be the last. What is your current WIP?
Good question! I really thought Irish Shadows would be the final book of the series, and I started to write another novel set partly in the English Lake District and partly in Yorkshire. Eight chapters in, and I wasn’t happy with it. This has actually happened before, first with Irish Intrigue and then with Irish Deceptions. I tried to set them somewhere else, but Ireland pulled me back – and it continues to do so! So I have just relocated my current WIP to Ireland, which has also necessitated changing the hero’s research from 15th century England to an aspect of Irish history. After some thought, I decided on An Gorta Mórthe Great Hunger, sometimes known as the Irish Potato Famine.

If you weren’t writing the Mist Na Mara series, what sort of novel would you like to write?
Before the Mist Na Mara series, I wrote five books set in different locations – London’s theatre world, the English Lake District, Paris, Iceland, and Egypt, so maybe someday I’ll suddenly decide on a new location. However, as I’ve been writing romance stories since I was in my teens, I doubt I will change genre now. Over the years, I have changed slightly from stories centred on the relationship between the hero and heroine to stories with one or more subplots interwoven with the romance, and I do like the challenge of introducing (and then trying to work out) more intrigue or mystery.

I find thinking of titles quite difficult. How do you come up with your titles?
Sometimes I know the title as soon as I get the idea for a story. Other times I ask my beta readers for ideas, and eventually the title jumps out at me!

What is your typical writing day?
For day, read evening, because that’s when I do my writing. I can edit, critique, write blogs, answer interview questions, etc during the day, but my ‘creative muse’ is a night owl, like me. Maybe that’s a throwback to when I was working full-time, and evenings were ‘my’ time – or maybe that’s an excuse, because I took early retirement about twenty years ago! I usually start by reading and doing some editing of the chapter I’m currently writing, which helps to get me into the right mood to continue.

Irish Shadows
After a heart-breaking experience, Rose Finlay has vowed never to give another man a chance to hurt her – until Liam McKenna arrives at Mist Na Mara Arts Centre to organise an anniversary celebration event. Liam has his own reasons for not wanting to embark on a new relationship, and both fight the mutual magnetic attraction.
Shocks await them when Liam meets the boy his sister gave up for adoption twenty years earlier, and Rose’s ‘ex’ makes contact with her thirteen-year-old son. Rose also discovers a betrayal which has divided her family since the Irish Civil War in the 1920s.
Will Liam and Rose be able to resolve all the shadows from the past in order to find a future together?
Irish Shadows is available for pre-order at 99c/99p, prior to release on June 27th. Link for purchase is https://bit.ly/2rRFwhV, or visit my Amazon page https://www.amazon.com/Paula-Martin/e/B005BRF9AI/

Please welcome my new guest Poppy Blake

Poppy's novels are based in the Windmill Cafe. Not only are her stories lovely and heartwarming to read, the book covers are a real pleasure to look at!

Hi Poppy.
Welcome to my blog.

Hi Carol, it’s great to be here. Thank you for having me as a guest.

I love the idea of the Windmill series.  Are you working on the ‘Spring Edition’?
Thank you! I’ve just finished editing the Christmas edition – The Windmill Café – Christmas Trees which is out on the 20th September and features a fun Christmas tree decorating competition. There’s everything from trees with painted woodland animals, to tiny wooden windmills, to hand-made leather purses and bags. I love dressing our Christmas tree – I tend to overdo it, to be honest, but there’s nothing better than a thick necklace of tinsel to brighten up a room, is there? I’m not planning a spring edition at the moment, but you never know….

Where did the inspiration for the series come from?
My two favourite genres are romantic comedy and cozy mysteries, so when I sat down to create the community surrounding the Windmill Café I knew it had to have both these elements – an uplifting, fun-filled story with a twist of surprise thrown in for good measure. I’d had a fabulous holiday in Norfolk, visited a couple of windmills and the idea sprang from that – although I didn’t find one with peppermint coloured sails!

Do you have anything in mind for your next novel?
I’m busy planning my next series. It’s a great excuse to take a weekend break in a gorgeous part of the country in the name of research. For a change, I already have a title - for the first book at least. I usually leave that job to the last minute as I find it so difficult.

So many new writers are interested in how an author found a publisher.  What is your story?
I was really lucky! I’m not sure what to call it – fate, fortune, the alignment of the stars? When I finished The Windmill Café – Summer Breeze I decided to take a chance and send it to my first-choice publisher – the fabulous people at HarperImpulse. Would you believe that when my manuscript landed on my editor, Charlotte Ledger’s desk, she had just attended a relative’s wedding at a Windmill in Norfolk! What a coincidence!

What is your typical writing day?
I tend to write in the mornings, often long-hand in a notebook – any excuse to indulge in lots of pretty stationery. Then in the afternoons, I type up what I’ve written and edit as I go along. I don’t have a strict daily word count goal, but a good day would be around 1000 words.

Do you have a dedicated place where you like to write?
Much to my family’s irritation, I like to write at the kitchen table because it’s nearest to the kettle. I love to have a plentiful supply of tea and biscuits to fuel my imagination!

What would be your advice to new writers who wish to be published?
I think every writer is different, and what works for one person might not work for someone else. The best advice I was given when I started writing was ‘read a lot, write a lot, and persevere’. There’s lots of rejection associated with the life of a writer, new or established, you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and try again. There’ve been many very famous authors who had lots of rejections before they went on to make their name in the literary world.

Many thanks Poppy for coming along today. Good luck with your novels.
Thanks Carol, it’s been great chatting with you.
Love Poppy x

Welcome Kemberlee Shortland, author and publisher.

I'm more than delighted to welcome Kemberlee Shortland as a guest on my blog. Kemberlee is a committed and well known author of several novels.

However she is also very well known as a publisher, running her publishing company Tirgearr Publishing. Through Tirgearr she has used her knowledge and expertise giving many authors, including myself, the much needed boost and support to get their first foot on the rung of the publishing ladder.

Hi, welcome Kem.  Please tell us a little about yourself. You’re obviously a California girl at heart, so how did you come to live in Ireland?
I’m originally from the Central Coast of Northern California, but I’ve been living in Ireland since April 1997. I’d wanted to see Ireland since I was a little girl. I finally decided the time was ‘now’ to make the trip. I had the savings and set out to make an extended visit. Originally, I had planned to stay a year, but I could only get permission for six months. While here, I met a man I’d eventually marry. After a short visit back home to sort out my affairs, I moved back full time. This year, the hubs and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage, and my 21st anniversary of coming to Ireland.

Have you always worked in the publishing business? Why and how did you start Tirgearr Publishing?

Like most writers, I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but I started working when I was 13. One of my first ‘industry’ jobs was working in bookstores when I was in my early 20s. It gave me great insight into the retail side of the industry, from sales and marketing, to ordering, warehousing, and book-picking. I loved it all.
I also worked for one of the first digital publishers, Dreams Unlimited, as a first reader and in editing. As well, I was also a founding member of a wonderful reviewers group called Reviewers’ International Organization/RIO, c 1996-2006. I served two terms as president, worked on the newsletter, helped educate new reviewers, and worked on the acclaimed annual RIO Award of Excellence. And today I continue working with authors who set their books in Ireland, advising on historical accuracy and doing line edits.
Tirgearr was first established in 2000. For the first 15 years after coming to Ireland, I worked as an Irish travel specialist. Tirgearr Publishing was set up as part of my job, which included writing bespoke travel guides for visitors to Ireland, and publishing dozens of travel articles.
Tirgearr Publishing was re-imagined in 2011 when we decided to expand the company into a proper commercial genre fiction house, which opened February 2012.

Tirgearr is obviously an Irish name, does it have an English translation?

Tirgearr is what’s known as ‘maky-uppy Irish.’ It’s not a real Irish word but one made up from two real Irish words: Tir = land, gearr = short. Our name is Shortland and Tirgearr is a made-up Irish word for that. Tir is pronounced as teer and gearr as gar. I always get a laugh when I say it rhymes with ‘beer bar’.

As things become increasingly tough in the publishing world, and some indie publishing houses fall by the wayside, how do you maintain Tirgearr’s success?
First and foremost, we have an amazing team…authors, editors, proofreaders, formatters…even the accountants. This is a team and as such, everything is a team effort.
Also, we’re available. By this I mean, we maintain an open communications policy and operate transparently. We work with our team to learn the ropes of promotion and marketing education, as well as assistance in helping pay for some paid promotion services.
And we stage-publish. We’re a digital-first house, which enables us to offer more contracts to deserving writers. Other formats are then made available to successful books.
Openness, honesty, availability, support…all ideal things to run a positive team. Our team is happy and we all enjoy working with each other and supporting each other. All good things for success.

How can authors help themselves and their publisher in the current climate?
Taking the time to learn the business serves everyone well. It’s not as easy as just writing a book. A lot goes into what comes after, such as promotion and marketing. Also realizing that not only does it take time, but that things are constantly changing. We all must be adaptable. It’s frustrating, but we’re all in it together, so there’s some support from that. Peer support is invaluable.

What is your typical day when at work?
Email. Starts with email and ends with email. In the middle…email. It’s my main source of communication with our team. We’re all over the world so email is the fastest and most affordable form of communication in this information age.
That’s not to say there aren’t a myriad of other tasks. There are: from accounting and royalties, to web design and managing sales, to working with vendors and specialist services to promote our books, and much more.
Typically, Monday I catch up from the weekend…email, check weekend sales figures, adjust pricing from promotions, etc. We publish a new book most Wednesdays, so Tuesday I’ll be prepping and setting up promotions. On Wednesdays, there’s release promotions to add to regular daily tasks. Thursday is probably the most ‘normal’ day of the week. Friday is the weekly wrap-up for the weekend. Occasionally, I’ll work part of Saturday if I’m off during the week for any reason, but I’m pretty good at prioritizing and getting everything done by close of Friday. Of course, I’m always available to our team in the event of an emergency, but like everyone, we all need some down time and the weekend is mine.
Kemberlee's writing muse

What would be your advice to a new author looking to be published for the first time?
The first thing would be to understand the business, and that these days, barely 1% of the top 1% will ever make a living off it, especially in small press publishing. Every other author has a ‘day job’ or some form of income that supports their writing time. Or they have someone in the house who works full time to pay the bills. Very few make enough these days to quit that day job and write full time. And it will almost never happen with your first book.
Which leads me to my next piece of advice: develop a following. To do that means learning the ropes of promotion and marketing. It takes time and effort and consistency. And knowing the difference between the two. And sometimes that means spending money.
As well, be friendly with your reviewers. A reviewer who liked your first book should be the first person you contact when book two is ready…either on preorder or newly-published. They’ll say yes faster than a new-to-you reviewer.
Probably most importantly, love what you’re doing. If you don’t love writing, it will show in your work. Publishers will see it, as will readers. Write because you *must* tell your story. Sharing it with others should also bring joy to your life. A financial reward is always nice, but developing a following—readers who love your writing too—should always make your insides feel warm and fuzzy.

You are also an author yourself, with quite a few novels published. When do you find the time to write?
Ha! What time?! I reserve weekends for ‘me time’. I also schedule breaks during the year when I spend larger amounts of time writing. Aside from our winter break (Xmas through New Years), I’ll take a week off in the spring for my birthday, then another week between that and Xmas. I don’t always write, but I always make sure to do as much research as possible. Unless the weather is exceptionally nice for Ireland, then all bets are off!

Do you have a favourite novel that you particularly enjoyed writing?
It’s always the current book on my screen! I always try challenging myself with each new book, and if I succeed, I’m quite happy. My last project was writing a story set in a place I’ve never been—One Night in New Delhi, book 27 in Tirgearr’s City Nights series. I’ve never been to New Delhi, let alone India, so it was a huge challenge. Other challenges include writing style. If I feel good about the results when the story is done, I’ve done my job well. If readers also think I did a good job, I get that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Have you a current WIP? What is the storyline and where is it set?
My current WIP is another challenge. I’ve put aside my romance writing to pursue a thriller series—Jack Slaughter Thrillers—which is set in San Francisco, California. I’m billing the series as Dirty Harry meets the Streets of San Francisco.
Book one is called Slaughtered. Three years ago, decorated homicide detective Jack Slaughter came home to find his young daughter had been murdered and his wife missing. As book one opens, Jack has left the force before he was fired, and he’s now working as a private investigator and takes local cases to help fund his own investigation. Department investigations having gone cold. Jack wants answers, even if he has to find them himself.
As much as he hates cheating spouse cases, Jack agrees to take a case to find a man’s missing wife, but only because her disappearance seems similar to that of his own wife. Jack also has a stalker who sends him texts every three months, like clockwork, telling him where to find his wife. Each time, there’s only a dead body and it’s never his wife. While looking for his client’s wife, Jack discovers an even deeper crime in the city and he wonders if his missing wife is somehow involved.
I’m hoping Slaughtered will be available later this year. Readers can follow my website or the socials to get the heads up about publication and associated events:
Readers may wish to also follow Tirgearr Publishing on the socials. We publish every Wednesday, and we have a monthly newsletter:
Join our newsletter from the homepage on our website, or through our Facebook page.

Thank you so much, Carol, for inviting me onto your blog.

Introducing the lovely Andi Ramos

I'm delighted to meet fellow Tirgearryan author Andi Ramos. 
Andi's debut novel 'Gumshoe Girl' is released on 30th May. It's a very exciting time for her.

First of all I'll let Andi tell you a little about herself.

I grew up in central Massachusetts where I still lives today with my family, goat, and Boston Terriers. My love for reading grew into a passion for writing. I dabbled with pen and paper for a long time and eventually stopped pushing such amusements aside and started developing those stories into novels. One of my favorite things to do is to hop into our motorhome with the family and write while traveling down the road as they journey to various destinations.

Gumshoe Girl is released by Tirgearr Publishing, on May 30th. Tell us a little about the book.

Sheagan O’Hare got more than she bargained for when her newly inherited detective agency lands its first case; a missing person, embezzlement, and murder. Sheagan’s out to prove she can hang with the pros, despite the constant reminder of her amateur status from an annoyingly attractive FBI agent, Colin 'Mac' MacEvine, who’s forced himself into her life.
How does she feel when an old high school friend hopes to ignite a new romance?
Will she be able to discover if detective work and love can mingle before someone gets hurt?

I love the cover, Andi, which I understand was designed by the talented Elle Rossi.

Here is an excerpt 

Sheagan blinked back the sting in her eyes as sweat drizzled from her forehead. Her shoulders and forearms cried out as determination inched her body forward through the tin walls that framed her slender figure. The narrow shaft rendered her legs useless as they dragged behind her like dead weight. She made a vow to start working out as she approached her destination, the metal grate that looked down into the sweetheart suite of the Eliot Hotel.

She shimmied her binoculars out of her bag and clutched them in her sweaty palms as she readied herself to delve into the world of private investigating. The friction of her movements caused her mahogany mane to cling to all the surfaces of her temporary confinement. Perched behind the filigree frame, peering like a caged animal, she was a mere 20 feet from her target. Her target? The Rat Bastard, who up until this very moment she’d called boyfriend.

She wasn’t there to kill him, even though the thought had crossed her mind; no, she was there to catch him in the act. She suspected he had been cheating on her for some time, so proof would end her suspicion or the relationship. Spying on her significant other through an air-vent of a swanky hotel room was hardly a promising start to her so-called glamorous career as a private detective. But it snapped her back into the reality that her new chosen profession would often be messy and difficult.

She peered through the grate and envied the spacious room below, but her viewing angle was no good for the task at hand. She could feel the heat in her cheeks rise along with her anger as she scanned the room and soaked in the extravagance–the hardwood tables, the Italian marble fireplace, the opulent sheen of the fabric on the overstuffed furniture that glimmered in the soft candlelight. The Rat Bastard was not known to overindulge on frivolous expenses, unless it was on her dime. Thoughts of killing him resurfaced.

What is wrong with me? Why did I wait so long?

She immediately regretted the fleeting question. She knew why. The answer brought back the pain and significance of her father’s sudden death. He had been the only family she had left, and he was gone. All that was left behind was his detective agency. She had thought about giving it up, but she couldn’t; it was her only connection to him, to her family.
She closed her eyes briefly, realizing that now she was facing more loss–even if he was a lying, cheating Rat Bastard.

No! It’s better this way, stay focused.
She choked in a breath and turned her attention back to the room. His secret love nest was finished with soothing tones on the walls and thick, plush carpeting.

What is that on the end table?
Her gaze was drawn to the bottle label as it bobbed upside down in the melting ice. She sharpened the focus of her binoculars, and her eyes widened in recognition.
Her cheeks flushed. Cristal, she scoffed. Who is this Bimbo, anyway?

As if she had room to criticize this girl’s intelligence, when Sheagan was the one sweating her makeup off in a four-by-four-foot air-duct.
Yeah, who’s the stupid one?

She heard passionate sounds coming from the right of the room and recognized his tone. Leaning sideways, Sheagan pressed her face to the grate, but her limited view revealed only a portion of the bed and unable to make out major details, like faces.

Crap, I can’t see anything. Damn! She needed to get a better look
As she shifted her weight, the metal walls started to reverberate and Sheagan stifled a gasp, willing the rumbling to cease. Her breathing became labored as the musty air stole the aroma of the sweet perfume wafting up waft from the suite below. She stilled her movements and did the only thing she could think of… nothing. Nothing but stare at the heap of blankets and wait.
Come on, bimbo, come up for air. I know he doesn’t last that long.

Her discomfort increased as the noise from their passion became more intense.
Ugh, that’s it, I’ve had it!
She mashed her cheek and upper body against the grate.
I just need a peek to confirm.
She pressed harder, ogling the bed. Finally, she caught a tiny glimpse.

Just a little further.
She pushed and heard a chirring sound, then a scraping. She froze in place, but the grate gave way with a creaking groan and crashed to the ground. Time stood still as Sheagan realized there was nothing between her and the floor except air.


E-mail: andiramos@andiramos.com
Website: www.andiramos.com/blog
Publisher Page: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Ramos_Andi/gumshoe-girl.htm
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Gumshoe-Girl-Andi-Ramos-ebook/dp/B07CMZVJ9Z

I have many more buy links on my website if you don’t see the one you need here!

Welcome Regency Historical author Heather King.

I’m very pleased to welcome author Heather King to my blog. Heather writes historical novels set in the Regency period. Also, under the nam...