Monday, 30 January 2012

Indie Authors - are we brave? Or stupid? Oh, and a little message to all those 1 and 2 star reviewers...

Well, it's Monday morning, and I had a sort-of relaxing weekend.  Saturday was good - apart from the hour long interruption to the evening when most of South-West Durham suffered a blackout when the electricity went off (again! - I tell you, I honestly think I'm doing a Sam Tyler and have somehow been transported back to 1973 - Life on Mars has got nothing on where I live, believe me...), but at least it had waited until the end credits of 'Casualty' before plunging us all into total darkness meaning we had had to play cards by gaslight and listen to people raging on about Bankers' Bonuses on Radio 5 Live.  Wasn't my ideal idea of a Saturday night, but someone must have found which switch to flick because by 10pm we had electricity again and Saturday night was resumed as per normal with a glass of wine and a movie.

OK, I've rambled on again, that's got to stop... where was I?  Oh yeah, it's Monday morning and my weekend was going fine.  Until I (obsessively) decided to check reviews and ratings on Goodreads on my 'phone while I waited for the roast potatoes to cook yesterday, and saw that someone had left me a nice 1-star rating for See You At The Show -  no review, just a 1-star rating.  Now, after last week I can handle this a lot better than I would normally have done, because that particular book also has 3,4 and 5 star ratings, so it's just another example of how you really can't please all of the people all of the time.  If someone could devise a formula to enable people to do that then I'm sure every Dragon in the Den would be falling over themselves to invest in them!

But it's impossible.  So, rather than it upsetting me (my skin is fast becoming very thick after the past couple of weeks!), it just got me thinking about the way readers who buy our books rate and review them, and what it means for us authors (especially indie authors like me) and potential readers.  I know!  A bit of a heavy subject for me to be tackling first thing on a Monday morning, but unfortunately all movies watched this weekend were devoid of Keanu Reeves/Bradley Cooper/George Clooney/Ryan Gosling so I have nothing shallow to start the week off with.  I'm going semi-intelligent instead! ;-)

So, what every writer (especially every indie writer - or is that just me?) dreads - the one or two star rating/review.  Some of us have had them, some of us haven't, and I suspect that we all handle how we receive them very differently.  But what's - I'd like to say annoyed but that's not quite the right word - what's frustrated me more than anything about the 1 and 2 star reviews I've received (all for See You At The Show, which is leading me to think that this could become my 'Marmite' book - you either love it or you hate it!) is that they weren't at all constructive.  Leaving a review that says reading the book was a "waste of time" or that it "drove me crazy" is pointless, really.  Why was it a waste of time?  And what was it that drove you crazy?  Reviews like that drive me crazy, in fact, the only thing that drives me crazy more is when someone leaves a 1-star rating (as they did on Goodreads over the weekend) and then doesn't leave any kind of review or comment at all!  Do you know what, if you really, really disliked a book that much that you felt the need to give it only 1 star, then at least have the decency to let the author know just what it was about the book that you disliked so much because just clicking that 1 star and then tootling off onto your next read is fine for you - whoever you are - but it's bloody frustrating for us authors!

I'm going to start calling this my 'controversial' book! ;-)
I'm an indie author, therefore I am striving hard with each book I write to try and do the best that I can, to try and make these books I put out there the best they can possibly be because us indies have a hard enough job as it is, convincing people to check out our work.  And I am all for reviews - of any kind, good or bad - but the bad ones, well, I would prefer it if those were at least constructive in some way.  I would prefer it if they at least gave me some idea as to why that reader didn't like the book, and then maybe I could work out whether it's a problem that I can work on, something that could be improved within my writing, or whether that person just simply didn't like the story/my writing/the type of book it is.  Saying nothing, just giving it a 1 star rating, or simply saying it was rubbish and you didn't enjoy it really isn't helpful in any way - to author or reader.  If you're a person who genuinely enjoys reading, and you come across a book that just doesn't float your boat and you want to say something about that, then please try and cobble together some kind of review or comment that will help the author, and also guide readers into making their own decisions as to whether that book is for them or not.  And this is possible.  I did a little bit of research last night, looking at other authors and their 1 and 2 star reviews (and there are a LOT of established authors out there, such as Penny Smith and even Jackie Collins who have reviews ranging from 1 to 5 stars, so I suppose I'm in good company!) and a good handful of those reviews were actually quite constructive, obviously written by genuine readers who didn't just want to rubbish a book, they just wanted to explain why it wasn't for them, therefore letting other potential readers make their own minds up.  It's not difficult to do, and I'm sure every reader has the ability to do it, it's just pure laziness to say something was rubbish, in my opinion.  Remember, whether you liked a book or not, someone worked damn hard to get that book out there, that's all I'm saying.

As authors  - and, again, especially as indie authors - we work bloody hard to make our books the best we can.  None of this happens overnight, and it isn't easy, believe me.  And, to be honest, I can't decide whether we're really brave or really stupid for putting ourselves and our books out there for the whole world to see, I just know that it's what I've always wanted to do and - on the whole - I love doing it.  So, if you're one of those readers who's ever left a 1 or 2 star rating/review, think about it for a second... would you ever be brave enough to do what us indie authors are doing?  Could you ever put yourselves out there in the spotlight for people to pick apart and criticise?  Because that's what we do, and I think it takes a lot of guts to do that, I really do, and yes, it's all part and parcel of being a writer, but it becomes bloody frustrating when the ratings mean nothing and the reviews tell us bugger all about the reasons why people disliked what someone has written. 

And I've realised another thing over the weekend too - gaining half decent reviews and readers that genuinely like my work is way more important than bucket-loads of sales because, over the weekend, I've sold quite a few books, but instead of that making me dance round the room with a happy smile on my face, it's actually making me incredibly nervous.  Why?  Well, for one, it's only reinforced the reason why I started this writing lark in the first place, and that was for people to enjoy my work, not to make money, and that's the truth.  Yes, I want to sell books, but it's way, way more important for me to gain readers who like what I do rather than make money.
And secondly, it's making me nervous because I have no idea how those readers that have just bought my books are going to receive them, do I?  Are they going to be the kind of readers who will leave a review - whether they love or hate the book - that will be constructive and intelligent, or will they just leave one that will rubbish my books and have no useful quality at all?  Everyone is, of course, entitled to do whatever they please, but all I'm asking is that - on behalf of all the indie authors out there - at least try and let us know your genuine feelings on our books, be they good or bad.  Let us know whether it was bad grammar, a poor story, or the genre you just didn't like.  Or whether that particualr author just isn't for you, because that - more than anything - is quite important.  A writer may not be for you, but that writer could certainly be somebody elses cup of tea, and to just say a book was rubbish or a waste of time could quite easily stop other readers who may well like that author's style of writing from stopping by and trying them out.  Please, remember that.

So, just stop and think before you click those star ratings or write that review because, if you really, really can't be bothered to write something that can help both author and potential reader, then maybe it's best you just say nothing at all...

Oh, and a little note for all those people who read books and enjoy them - let the world know your views too!  A balance of reviews is all important, and I know it's time consuming, but it can really help us indie authors... it can really, really help...

Now, go read something fabulous!  ;-)

Friday, 27 January 2012

Reasons why I won't be around quite as much as I have been...

I realised something this morning, as I was coming back from a trip to the shops.  I realised that I can't seem to do anything at a leisurely pace, I mean, I was in absolutely no rush today but there I was, almost sprinting back home like I'd left the chip pan on!  Why?  Why do I do that?  Why couldn't I just enjoy that nice, calm walk into town and then stroll back home for a cup of coffee and a sit down before getting on with the day?  Because I can't.  That's just the way I am.  Even after years of living on one of the most relaxed, laid back islands ever (Tenerife) I learnt nothing - absolutely nothing, because I still can't do anything without my mind rushing off in a hundred different directions and that constant feeling that I should be doing something, even if there really isn't anything to do.

And that's been half the reason why I'm currently just a touch behind with getting this new book finished.  My focus has decided to bugger off on holiday for a while leaving me floundering in a million different directions, getting distracted by any and everything.  Well, no more.  The time has come for me to put a stop to all that and get back to basics - and by that, I mean get some bloody writing done! 

Oh, I know I've been saying that for months now - I'm going to knuckle down, apply some self-discipline, blah, blah, blah... well, this time I mean it.  No, honestly, this time I'm serious.  It's time to stop rushing around like the proverbial blue-arsed fly, flitting from one thing to another and not really getting anything constructive done.  It's going to stop.

I'm weaning myself off this for a while...
So, here's the thing - I'm going to disappear off the radar, so to speak, for a little while.  And by that I mean I won't be fannying around on Twitter or Facebook quite as much as I have been doing lately.  Oh, I'm not going to disappear completely - I haven't got that much willpower - but I certainly won't be visiting quite as often.  I'll be checking both Twitter and Facebook daily, I'll still be blogging, and anyone who really wants to get in touch with me can still do so through email/text/etc.  And I'll still be promoting my books, but not half as much as I have been doing in the past, and there'll be no more special promotion days for the forseeable future because I need to concentrate on writing now.  That's why I wanted to become a writer after all - to write.  That's what I love doing.  All the promoting, well, that's just a necessary evil that has to be done otherwise nobody knows you're out there.  But I'm not a natural salesperson, it doesn't come easy, and I don't really enjoy it, but what I do enjoy is writing, and over the past few months I've missed that.  I've missed getting up and sitting at my desk with nothing to do but write, and I need to get those days back in order to get this book finished and make it the best that I can.  I need to immerse myself in those characters again, feel their story, get into their heads and live their lives and I can't do that if I'm distracted by Tweeting and promoting and worrying about how many books I'm selling.

A self-imposed Twitter break may be needed...
I'm not going to lie and say that I'm not here to sell books, of course I am.  Let's not kid myself.  But I'm also here to write, and that's what the next couple of months are going to entail for me now.  A little bit of tweeting (emphasis on the word little), a few visits to Facebook (mainly to update my author page, but also possibly for a visit to the Bradley Cooper site... I'm not made of stone, come on...!), but one hell of a lot of writing!

So, there we have it.  I'm off, I'm going to join my make-believe world of movie stars and handsome Las Vegas hotel owners; I'm going to live in that world and get this book finished, so if I'm not around as much then that's why.  No other reason.  I'll just be sat at my desk, listening to my music, and tapping away at my keyboard as I complete Illusions of Love, and at least try to keep to that self-imposed deadline that I set myself at the beginning of this year, to have this book finished, edited, and out there by April - at the latest!  Here's hoping!

The follow up is almost here...!
OK, now, before I go anywhere, I really must do just a touch more research... is that trailer for The Hangover still in my YouTube favourites...?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Book reviews & Ryan Gosling - yep, it's another new week in the life of this indie author...

OK, so here we are.  It's the beginning of another week, and I was up and out of bed this morning all ready to get stuck into finishing this first draft of Illusions of Love, the follow-up to my debut novel, No Matter What.  I had absolutely NO intention of blogging today, in fact, I had absolutely no intention of doing anything other that writing.  That was the plan, anyway.

However, I woke up this morning to find out I'd sold a handful of books overnight, including one in France, but I'd also had one 1 star review and one 2 star review for See You At The Show over on  Yep, with the good news came something to dent my slightly fragile writers' ego.

A couple of dodgy reviews a bad book make? That's up to you to decide...

Now, I know that you really can't please all of the people all of the time, that's impossible.  And anyone who thinks they can needs to get ready for a huge reality check.  But, no matter how much you may think you're prepared to receive that bad review, you never actually are.  Believe me, it hits you like truck, makes you feel slightly sick, and then - along with those feelings of dented pride and the need to go off and have a good cry somewhere - you also have those couple of hours of feeling like you just want to give up.  Oh, yes, it happens.  I've experienced it all in the past couple of hours since reading that very short review.

The people who left those reviews are more than entitled to do so, of course they are, but they both stated that they obtained the book for free (they would have downloaded it during the free promo last weekend) and so that makes me wonder whether, if they'd had to pay for it, would they have actually purchased it out of choice?  Or did they just do so purely because it was free?  I have no idea, but all these things go through your head as a writer when you read those bad reviews, along with a million and one other things - will those reviews put other people off taking a chance on the book?  Will they forever dent sales?  Or will people read them, take them in, but also check out the other 4 & 5 star reviews it's received on both and, then make their own mind's up?  I hope they'll do the latter, and the majority of people more than likely will.  

I'm not entirely sure these readers "got" the characters or the tone and feel of the book either, so maybe it just wasn't for them.  I know that I've certainly read books that I just didn't like yet others totally loved, so it really is all subjective in the long run, and as a writer I need to keep remembering that.

So, today I've experienced another learning curve on this rollercoaster of a journey I'm on because, I guess, a lot of readers don't realise that, as a writer, our books are almost like our babies, and when people criticise them in any way - even though that's their right to do so, and we expect it from time to time - it still feels like a kick in the teeth!  We get over it, we move on, we take heart from the positive comments and the great reviews and the love and support we get from other writer's and readers.  But it still hurts.  Just for a little while.  And, to be honest, I had over 6,000 downloads of See You At the Show over that free promo weekend and in reality, I cannot expect all of those 6,000+ people to like that book, can I?  So, maybe I should prepare myself for one or two more negative reviews to come, although, on the plus side, one person also left a 5 star review last week saying that they really enjoyed it, so with the rough comes the smooth... like I said, you can't please all of the people...

Anyway, that was the dodgy start to Monday morning dealt with (and getting it off my chest like this has helped to get it out of my system somewhat) but, despite that slight setback of a start to my week, I'd actually had a great weekend, a weekend which had spurred me on to get this first draft of Illusions of Love finished, and I'd even thought up some characters and a fabulous storyline for my next book, my Christams romance - I am SO excited to start writing that, I can't tell you how excited I am!  I'd also had a great review for my Tenerife-based romantic comedy, Too Much Trouble in Paradise over the weekend, so things were good.  Really good.

And on Saturday night I finally got round to watching a movie I've wanted to see for a while now - Crazy, Stupid, Love.  And it's a great movie!

So great, in fact, that even my hubby enjoyed it.  He loved it!  He actually gave it 5 out of 5 stars, and if my hubby loves a romantic comedy then it must be good!  However, he did admit that he wasn't sure for the first few minutes, thinking it was just one of those movies where the missus sits and looks gooey-eyed at Ryan Gosling all the way through... OK, he didn't say those exact words, but I could tell he was thinking it because for the first half hour I noticed him looking in my direction every time the lovely Mr Gosling appeared while I tried to look bored and pretend he was doing nothing for me (he was doing everything for me!), but in the end my other half says he would highly recommend this film.  High praise indeed from a man who can - at times - make Victor Meldrew look cheerful!

Ryan Gosling - competition for Bradley? He might just be...
Anyway, great movie aside, let's go back to the subject of Ryan Gosling.  Before I saw this movie, he actually didn't do anything for me.  At all.  Not one thing.  In fact, I couldn't understand how he'd ever won Sexiest Man Alive, whereas when Bradley Cooper won it, well, that spoke for itself.  However, as I watched this movie, I totally began to get the whole Ryan Gosling thing!  I have no idea why I suddenly began to find him incredibly sexy, but I did!  He looked HOT in this movie, believe me, watch the trailer and find out for yourself!  So, look out Bradley, you may have a teensy, tiny bit of competition on your hands now...

And do you know what?  Writing this blog today - and especially having a chance to look at pictures of the gorgeous Mr Gosling - hasn't half cheered me up!  So much better therapy than sitting downstairs watching Homes Under The Hammer whilst feeling sorry for myself!! ;-)

No, I think today has just been another speed bump, another lesson in learning to live with the ups and downs that being a writer can make you experience.  My skin is slowly becoming thicker, and I'm learning - as each week goes by - to take things on the chin and realise that this is a journey I put myself on because I wanted it really badly, and I still do.  A couple of hours ago I may have wanted to sit in a corner and have a good cry, but now I just want to get back to the writing and continue to do what I love doing.

The readers who left those reviews may not come back to read any more of my books, but I know that others will.  And those are the people I'll keep writing for. :-)

Oh, and if anyone's got any nice reviews for any of my books, please (PLEASE, yes, I'm begging you!!))  feel free to get them up there on Amazon/Goodreads!! ;-) You would not believe how grateful I would be...

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Meet The Author - Tracie Banister

Lights! Camera! Action!  Yes, It's that time of year again.  Award's season is upon us - the Golden Globes kicked it all off in L.A. last weekend, the BAFTA nomination's have already been announced, and before we know it, The Oscars will be upon us.  

Which brings me nicely onto the wonderful author I've been talking to on my blog today - Tracie Banister.  Her new novel - Blame It on the Fame - takes us into the lives of five very different actresses and how they all deal with being nominated for the Best Actress Award at The Oscars... but I'll let Tracie tell you more about that later.

So, let's find out more about Tracie Banister, and her writing... 

Author Bio: An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O’Hara. Her debut Chick Lit novel, Blame It on the Fame, was released in January, 2012.  She resides in the Southern US and enjoys watching TV, going to the theatre, finding talented, new writers, and spending time with her three adorable rescue dogs. She blogs about her books and other fun stuff at and her Twitter handle is @traciebanister

I’ll begin with the usual question I ask all the authors who appear on my site – when did you realise you wanted to write?  What inspired you to become a writer? 
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write.  My work was first seen on the stage of my elementary school, where my 4th grade class performed an original holiday play that I scripted (Like all good divas-in-the-making, I, also, starred in and tried to direct the production.)  By the time I reached junior high, I was writing under the pen name Blair Banister (I’ve always had a thing for alliteration) and spent my nights pounding out stories on my typewriter (Yes, kids, that’s what us old folks used before there were computers) that I would then put into envelopes and stuff into my friends’ lockers the next morning.  In my spare time, I practiced scribbling my autograph so that I’d be ready to sign all of those bestselling books I was going to write when I grew up.  The weird thing about my lifelong proclivity for writing is that there are no other writers in my family.  All of my relatives are in left-brained fields like medicine and finance, so where I got my creative side or inspiration to put pen to paper is a mystery. 

Where do you get your ideas for your books?  Is it purely from your imagination, or do you use a little bit of life experience in there too?  
I get ideas everywhere – from friends, family, the internet, TV, magazines.  I never know what will provide a springboard for my imagination.  There is a little bit of me and my life experiences in every story I write – these can show up in character quirks (like a heroine loving to do crossword puzzles), or places I’ve visited, or relationship dynamics. 

Tell us a bit about your debut novel, Blame It on the Fame.   
Blame It on the Fame tells the story of the five women who are in contention for the Best Actress award at this year’s Oscars.  These are five very different ladies, ranging in age from 24 to 48, and they are all at very different places in their lives and careers.  For some, this nomination is a dream come true.  For others, it’s a nightmare.  All of them will experience tremendous highs and lows on their journey to the ultimate red carpet event. 

The book’s got a very strong Oscar theme surrounding it, so, do you yourself love the movies?  Would you love to be part of the whole glamour and glitz of Oscar night?  And what would you wear to such an occasion, should you get the chance to walk that red carpet?   
The movies have always been a very important part of my life.  My mother took me and my little brother to a matinee every Saturday when we were kids, and I always thought it was a special treat to be allowed to stay up late on the weekends so that I could watch an old movie or two on TV (I was very fond of MGM musicals.)  The Oscars have always been like a national holiday in my house and a major cause for celebration.  I’ve never gotten decked out in formalwear to watch the Oscars (I know a lot of people do this for home viewing parties.)  But if I ever had the great good fortune to get invited to the Academy Awards, I would jump at the opportunity to get gussied up and walk the red carpet!  And I’d wear a sparkly red dress (red’s my favorite color and it always looks fab on a blonde) with lots of diamond jewelry!

Who would be your ideal Oscar night date?   
So many movie star crushes to choose from . . .  I think I’d like to make my grand entrance at the Oscars on the arm of Jude Law.  Yes, he’s prettier than me, but that’s okay, I like my eye candy.  And Jude would be the ideal Oscar date for me because he’s charming, he has a great accent that I wouldn’t mind listening to for hours on end, and he’s a brilliant actor (so being paired with him on the red carpet at such an event would give a girl a certain cachet.)  

If they made a movie of your life, which actress would you love to play you?  
Reese Witherspoon.  She’s petite, blonde, Southern, and sassy, and I am all of the above. 

Favourite actors/actresses – who are they?   
My fave actors in no particular order are Johnny Depp, Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Kenneth Branagh, Ryan Gosling, Javier Bardem, and Michael Fassbender.  
Fave actresses include Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Judi Dench, Emma Stone, and Sandra Bullock. 

Favourite genre of movies you love to watch – do you have one? 
 I have two favorite genres.  Romantic comedies, ones that have heart, not ones that are sophomoric.  And Period Films – I adore almost anything set in another time with actors wearing beautiful costumes and driving around in carriages.  

Ultimate all-time favourite movie – one in particular, or have you got loads you love?  
That’s like asking me to name a favorite book – impossible!  Okay, I’ll narrow it down to my top five fave films - Gone With the Wind, Singing in the Rain, The Princess Bride, A Room with a View, and The Notebook. 

Your characters in Blame It on the Fame – were they inspired by anyone in particular?   
There are small aspects to the characters in the book that were inspired by certain celebrities.  For instance, Danielle Jamison rose to fame as the goody-two-shoes lead on a primetime teen drama called “Doheny Bay,” much like Katie Holmes did with Dawson’s Creek.  Laurel Hastings is a blonde middle-aged actress who resides with her non-celebrity husband and kids in the suburbs of Connecticut, just as Meryl Streep did with her family during her heyday.  And like that notoriously combustible couple Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Philippa Sutcliffe and Miles McCrea had a torrid affair while filming a movie about a pair of famous lovers (Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning in their case – Cleopatra and Mark Antony in Liz and Dick’s.)     

How do you shape the characters that appear in your books?  Do you know from the very beginning where these people are going to go, or do you let the story drive the characters?  Do they grow, and even surprise you, as the story progresses?  
I always know where my characters are going to start and where they’re going to end – how they get there is almost entirely dependent on them.  I think if you write characters who are strong and well-developed, you can let them play on the page.  I am very often surprised and delighted by what my characters do.  I can also get frustrated when they refuse to do what I want them to.  That’s when I have to stop and listen to what the characters are trying to tell me.  If they are balking at doing something, that means I’m forcing it and I need to relax and let the story unfold in a more organic way.   

You’ve been writing for the past 7 years, and you did have an agent at one point.  So what drove you to go it alone, start again, and try the Indie author route?  
My story is similar to a lot of Chick Lit/Women’s Fic writers who’ve tried to break into the publishing business in the last several years.  I sent out queries on my first novel and was fortunate enough to get two offers of representation from top-notch New York agents.  I went with the one I felt a connection with and was excited to hear terms like “bidding war” and “movie rights” being bandied about.  Although my book received really positive feedback from publishers, they all said they had a backlog of Chick Lit and didn’t want anymore.  I went back to the drawing board and wrote book two, thinking that by the time I finished it, the tide would have turned and fun fic for women would be in again.  Nope.  Every agent who read my book praised it, said I was an incredibly talented writer, had a great voice, made them laugh, etc., etc., but they simply could not sell Chick Lit written by a new author in the current market.  I actually had several agents and publishers tell me to switch genres because I was wasting my time and talent by persisting in writing Chick Lit.  If I were smart, I probably would have taken their advice and started writing about vampires.  But I knew in my heart that there was still an audience out there for the humorous, entertaining, romance-filled stories I like to write (and read.)  So, I wrote book three, my magnum opus, and when I finished it, I knew I had a really good, marketable, appealing book on my hands.  I queried agents (again), but I did it half-heartedly because I knew that the depressed economy had had an adverse affect on the publishing world and there wasn’t much opportunity for an untested writer there anymore.  Agent after agent told me that they couldn’t help me because there was no longer any demand for light women’s fic.  That’s when I had my epiphany.  I had a wonderful book to share, and there were plenty of readers of Chick Lit who were being ignored, so why not cut out all the middle men and take my book straight to them?  Fortunately, I was able to do that with digital publishing, so now I am an indie author and proud of it! 


OK, we’ve talked about the writing, but what do you like to do when you’re not writing?  How do you like to relax? 
I love to go to the movies and I adore live theatre (major Broadway addict!), reading has always been my favorite pastime, I exercise every day and enjoy spending time with friends, family, and my three adorable Cocker Spaniels. 

Have you got any new writing projects on the horizon that you can tell us about?  What’s next for Tracie Banister?  
I have lots of writing irons in the fire right now.  My next release will be a Chick Lit novel set in Miami about a Latina psychologist.  I think it’ll be a great beach read for the summer, so I plan to get that out in May.  I’m currently working on the first book in a series that I’m calling “Regency Chick Lit” as it will focus on the romantic trials and tribulations of the young ladies in an aristocratic English family circa 1814.  I hope to release that book by the end of 2012!  Meanwhile, I have two other projects on the backburner – a time-hopping epic romance with a paranormal twist and a YA novel.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Michelle! 

And that's a wrap!  It was a pleasure to have you here, Tracie!  Thank you for taking the time to give such a great interview! 
And I wish you every success with Blame It on the Fame!

Fancy a little bit of Oscar action?  Blame It on the Fame is available to buy now from  and Smashwords 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Bee Gees, Barbara Streisand and Bradley Cooper's eyes! This writer's list of Tuesday's distractions...

I've managed to write almost 2,000 words in around a couple of hours today, and whilst that's not bad, I've done better.  And I should be doing better today, I should be getting my head down and concentrating because I've given myself a March deadline to get this new book of mine finished, edited, re-written, edited again, then doubtless edited once more, just to be on the safe side, before I put it up there on Amazon!  That deadline may sneak into April, but no later.  No way.  I'm going to be self-disciplined and get this book out by that March (April) deadline, if it kills me!

So, in that case, why am I sitting here this afternoon dancing in my chair to The Bee Gees (I know that when they started singing 'You Should Be Dancing' that it wasn't an order, but that song is a classic!), looking up Barbara Streisand songs on YouTube, and trying to find as many pictures as I can of Bradley Cooper from Sunday night's Golden Globes?

Bradley Cooper at The Golden Globes - one full-on distraction research project!

Because I'm far too easily distracted, that's why.  All it took was for that Donna Summer disco anthem 'I Feel Love' to come on the radio and that was me reminded of how fabulous disco was, and before I could say "leg warmers" I was fannying about on YouTube looking for extended remixes and long-forgotten classics.  And before anyone says Barbara Streisand never did disco, she did.  Remember that duet with Donna Summer?  'Enough is Enough'?  That was a great disco track!

Anyway, so, I've been sidestepped from my writing by music, where does Bradley Cooper come into all this?

Well, the answer to that is easy - I'm using the ever-gorgeous Mr Cooper as "research" for the character of Dominic MacDonald in Illusions of Love, (the follow up to No Matter What), the book I should be writing this afternoon, rather than faffing about finding disco classics to dance at my desk to.  So, you see, that isn't really a distraction at all, to be honest.  Is it?  No, that can actually be classed as work!  There.  Now I don't feel half as guilty as I did before! ;-)

Bradley Cooper in 'Limitless'
And on the subject of Bradley Cooper at The Golden Globes, (see how I can seamlessly pull any subject round to Bradley Cooper? It's a talent!), what was with the moustache and beard?  Of course, I'm assuming he's looking like that for a movie he's filming but, to be honest, the more I look at that picture of him (and I've studied it quite hard, believe me - I like to take my "research" seriously!), the more I find that look incredibly sexy!  And those eyes!  Those eyes of his are to blame for more distractions than I care to mention.  They are just stunning!  Anyone seen the movie 'Limitless'?  His eyes in that movie are just incredible!  I've never seen eyes so blue in my entire life!  So, either he's got the most beautiful eyes, or he's constantly wearing coloured contacts.  I'd like to think it's the former. 

But you see, I'm saying this afternoon has been an afternoon of distractions but really, it's just the way I work.  I sit down to write, I get a shed load of stuff done, I have a faff about, listen to a bit of music, grab a bit of inspiration from that, look up pictures of rather gorgeous actors - get even more inspiration from that (just wait until you meet Dominic MacDonald in 'Illusions of Love'!  He is fabulous!), and then once I've worked through those distractions, and they're out of my system, I get right back to work.  That's how it's always worked for me, and that's probably how it will always work, as far as my writing is concerned. 

Inspiration comes from everywhere - a song I've just listened to, a picture I've just looked at, a movie I've just watched... especially if that movie happens to be starring Bradley Cooper...

Now, time for a bit more music I think... ooh, what was that song Barbara Streisand did with Barry Gibb?  What was it called again...?  'Guilty'! Yeah, and that's something I really should be feeling this afternoon... ;-)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Kindles & Keanu Reeves ... my early January ramblings...

I got a Kindle for Christmas!  Yep, I finally got my hands on the one piece of technology I've been desperate to own for ages!  And from the second I got my hands on it I've become almost obsessed with it!  I even ignored (some, not all!) darts on the TV over the holiday period in favour of sitting down and enjoying a good book on this fascinating little device.

I just can't believe that something so tiny and so thin can hold so many books!  It's a dream come true for me, having all that reading material in one place, and being able to carry it around with me wherever I go - it's like having your own personal library in your handbag!  How cool is that?

You see, I may be a writer, but I love to read just as much as I love to write, and now that I own a Kindle, it's finally given me a chance to check out all those fabulous authors I've met along the way in the seven months or so since I started my writing journey, and I am so excited about that!

Of course, when my husband uttered those words "go buy yourself a few books to stick on it" I'm not sure he realised that he should have put a limit on just how many books I was supposed to download because, as I'm fast finding out, it's FAR too easy to purchase ebooks - one click, and a few seconds later your book appears, just sitting there waiting to be read!  I think I'm managing to curb this new-found habit I've acquired though, after all, you can only read one book at a time, can't you?  Well, I can anyway.  That's not to say I won't lapse now and again, because there are one or two books about to be published that I just have to get my hands on....

All I can say is, to those of you out there who love reading and haven't yet got yourself a Kindle (or any other eReading device!) I strongly recommend you get yourself one!  If you love books, you won't be disappointed!

Anyway, what else have I been getting up to over the past week or so... well, apart from working hard on my new book (Illusions of Love - follow up to No Matter What) and easing myself gently into 2012, I've been indulging in another of my hard-to-break habits - Keanu Reeves.  Oh, not the real Keanu Reeves - dear God, if only! - no, I've been watching another of his films, though.  This time, 'Henry's Crime', the story of a man who is sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit, and once he's released, realises that he's done the time, so he may as well do the crime...

Now, I'll be the first one to stand up and admit that not all of Keanu's movies have had the best plots/best acting/etc., but 'Henry's Crime' was a really great movie!  It was one of those movie's you sit down to watch and find yourself slowy getting drawn into.  It's got a good story, great characters, and some fabulous acting from everyone concerned - it's got romance, humour, and a great-looking Keanu, so I was well happy!  Not that I'm shallow or anything...  heaven forbid!

Keanu Reeves - not just a pretty face...

Me?  Shallow?  The very thought... ;-)

I actually really like Keanu when he does romance - such as in 'The Lake House' - and maybe that's just my age, but he really didn't do anything for me in stuff like 'The Matrix', least of all because I spent so much time trying to get to grips with the bloody plot that I couldn't concentrate on how hot he looked!  It's not that I've got a short attention span or anything, it's just that I don't want to go to the cinema and feel as though I'm sitting a maths exam, which is pretty much how 'The Matrix' made me feel.  He may have looked as sexy as hell but I didn't have the energy to sit through the sequels!

However, if you like a bit of romance, a dose of humour, a good story, and a touch of rather pleasant eye candy, then give 'Henry's Crime' a go.  I'd certainly recommend it.

So, I've got my Kindle, I've indulged in a bit of Keanu Reeves (any bit would do, I'm not fussy!!), my writing is going better than okay, and as far as January is concerned, it's all going fine - so far.  I could do with losing a few pounds and dropping a dress size, of course, but that's a whole other blog post that is...

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year, new start, new books... and Bradley Cooper in a white linen shirt...

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, but did you honestly think I could begin 2012 without mentioning the fact that I finally got to see The Hangover Part 2 a few days ago?  Come on!  You should all know by now how I feel about the lovely Bradley Cooper! ;-)

And if you, by any chance, don't know how I feel about the lovely Bradley Cooper, (where have you been??), well, let's put it this way - I think he's rather attractive.  And that's putting it mildly!

So, after far too many months of waiting, a copy of The Hangover Part 2 finally came into my possession.  Was I excited about that?  Too bloody right I was!  The original Hangover movie has to have been one of my favourite movies ever (I have a slightly warped sense of humour) so I couldn't wait to watch the next installment, and not just because it meant an hour and a half of eye candy in the shape of Mr Cooper.  No, I love a good laugh, and despite Final Destination 5 proving to be more funny than it probably should have been (remind me never to have laser eye surgery or take up gymnastics after watching that film!) it was The Hangover 2 that gave me the biggest laughs over Christmas.

Bradley Cooper (centre) with co-stars Ed Helms (left) and Zach Galifianakis

It's had a few mediocre reviews, a lot of people saying it was nothing but a carbon copy of the first movie (except this time set in Thailand) but so what?  It never pretended to be anything else.  So, go into this movie knowing exactly what you're going to be faced with, and it won't disapppoint.  If you like that kind of thing.  Which I do.  Sure, it's rude, crude, and the language can sometimes be a bit on the "fresh" side, but as long as you know what you're letting yourself in for, where's the harm in that?  The Hangover Part 2 is another crazy ride for the characters of Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms) and Alan (Galifianakis) as they try to piece together the events of yet another forgotten night, and the consequences that follow...

Yes, it is just The Hangover remade in Thailand, but that's fine with me.  That's exactly what I wanted.  And I thought it was hilarious!  And the sight of Bradley Cooper all hot and sweaty in that white linen shirt, well, let's not get me started on that... personally, though, I think the monkey stole the show...

Anyway, enough of all that.  If I start waxing lyrical on Mr Cooper we'll be here all day and I've got things to do later - like write a book!  Because, yes, it's a new year, and I've got new projects on the horizon!  And, I have to say, I'm quite excited by it all.
No Matter What - the follow up is due this April/May.
2011 was really a year in which I spent a lot of time finding my feet in a world that was new and somewhat scary to me.  But now I (kind of!) know what I'm doing, I know where I'm going as far as my writing's concerned, and I think I've done an OK job of trying to get my name out there, so it's about time I got some new work ready to inflict on the big wide world!  And that new work will be - first and foremost - the follow up to my debut novel, the epic, sexy contemporary romance No Matter What.  The continuing story of Geordie-born India and her glamorous, if not sometimes complicated, life in Hollywood. Sexier and hotter than before, there'll be new characters, more intrigue, more romance, and more twists and turns as this story uncovers things from the past some people would rather forget, and more secrets that are set to turn worlds upside down.  It's due for release around April/May 2012, and I hope that those of you who have read No Matter What will look forward to reading this follow up.  I'll keep you posted on its progress as the year progresses.

But, not content with just the one new book this year, I've decided to give myself a shed load of work to be getting on with (it keeps me out of trouble!) because I also intend to begin writing a book this summer that will be due for release - hopefully - around November/early December this year.  And it's going to be a Christmas story, a festive romance, but written in my own inimitable style!  I already know that it's going to be set partly in Finnish Lapland, in a town called Levi, (a place I've visited and loved!), and I have a few characters and a basic storyline already sorted, but that's a job that will have to wait until at least June before I even begin to start thinking about writing it.

For now, all my energies are going into completing Illusions of Love, and getting that ready to publish.  I'm about three quarters of the way through the first draft, so I know I've got a hell of a lot of work ahead of me in the coming  months, but I'm looking forward to getting something new out there.  A new year, new books, new start, if you like.

Michelle Betham, author of glamorous, sexy romance novels is here to stay.  So get ready for more to come from me, and I hope you'll stay with me for what I hope will be a long and exciting journey.  Here's to 2012, and all that it may bring us...

If you haven't yet read No Matter What, it's available to download from and