I love it when I see this:


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Dates are figuring large in my mind. I don’t mean the Medjool Date I’ve just eaten, delicious though it was. Dates

And I’m not talking about the holiday season, though I know that there are very few shopping days left until Christmas. Luckily I pin my hopes on Santa.

No. The dates I’m talking about are these. I’ve now been living in France for three years. I only speak toddler French (I’m indebted to Lin Wolff of the English Books Centre in Valbonne for the term.) It means I can get by, just, in a limited range of situations. I can, however, talk quite a lot, and with some aplomb, about historical events. Funny that, it must be about motivation.
The other date I’m thinking of is the 27th January 2015. This is the date that Lake Union Publishing will relaunch my novel ‘A Love Most Dangerous’ in a revised edition, as an ebook, a paperback and in audio. I was first approached by the publishers on 4th July and it’s been a really interesting few months since then.

I thought that I’d like to share some of my experiences of changing from a purely Indie writer to a hybrid. (I’m not sure if this sounds Sci-Fi or Kennel Club.) So starting this week I’m going to produce some posts about what has happened, and what it’s been like and what I’ve learned.

And if you’re in Valbonne, by the way, why not visit the English Book Centre.

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Sandra Lawson RIP

This is hard.

I’d known Sandra Lawson casually for three years. In February of this year I got to know her much better. My wife had been in hospital for almost two months and I had no idea when she would be well enough to come home. I built my time around visiting but eventually I thought to myself, I shall have to plan to have one day a week for myself.

A couple of days later Sandra came up to me. ‘You’re coming with me to Valbonne on Thursday,’ she said. ‘I run a knitting group there. It’s a nice ride, if the weather is good we can have the top down. We’ll have lunch, and while I’m running the group you can look round the town.’

This was typical of the thoughtful, kind, caring and imaginative person she was.

For me it was a life-saver.

I went with her a couple of times more and then Janine came home. Sandra took her under her wing, encouraged her in her knitting and took her to Valbonne. We became great friends.

Sandra would always say, ‘If you ever need anything, I’m here.’

And now she’s not. On Tuesday I got a phone call to say that Sandra had died of a heart attack. I was stunned, as has been everyone who heard.

Today is Sandra’s funeral. Knowing her made my world a bigger, brighter, better place. It did the world.

Rest in peace, Sandra.


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Martin Lake:

This is a useful thing to pin to an author’s desktop.

Originally posted on madgeniusclub:

There’s a whole lot of mis- being thrown around the internet these days. Seems like men can’t make a move without being accused of being a misogynist, which leads to the accusers being accused of misandry… and then Mike Hoover made this word up, and I am running with it.

Mislectorist: being an author who hates (or at least dislikes, disdains, and disregards) their readers. This leads to poor behaviors on the author’s part, and support of tactics by publishers and other support staff that leaves readers out in the cold.

Young Male Readers

This is what you want to see: attracting young readers and keeping them hooked for life.

There are several ways we can see mislectorism manifested. This one hit the interwebs hard yesterday: a literary agent (one who is, in theory anyway, responsible for seeing that only good books make it through the gates to reach publishers and from there, readers)…

View original 854 more words

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The Joy of Editing

It’s been an interesting August. The reason? I spent several weeks of it editing ‘A Love Most Dangerous.’

As I wrote in an earlier blog Lake Union Publishing approached me to take on my latest novel and re-launch it in the spring of 2015. One of the things which was most appealing about the offer was the chance to have the book edited in a thorough-going manner.

It was a fascinating process and I learned a lot from it. It was engrossing, challenging, frustrating, fun, illuminating, annoying and exhausting. It’s been a long time since I spent eight hours at a desk with hardly a break and only a gecko for company.

gecko My chum and assistant Garibaldi Gecko.


I’m confident that the book has been greatly improved by the process. My editor was brilliant, creative, fun, full of ideas and sensible suggestions. I was particularly grateful that she was a novelist as it made for a productive and respectful two-way process.

The next step is the copy-edit.

I’ve learned a lot from things so well. But I have to say that I prefer writing to editing. CA_GD_LAKE_final_2(2)



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A Love Most Dangerous to be published by Lake Union Publishing

I have been an Indie author now since April 2011 and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the steep learning curve which has come with it. Three weeks ago I got an email out of the blue from one of Amazon’s own imprints saying they would like to publish ‘A Love Most Dangerous’ as one of their titles.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d almost deleted the email thinking it was spam and now I read it again and again. Over the next few days I had a series of very helpful conversations and emails with the Acquisitions Manager I was dealing with.

A few years ago I would have swum to Seattle to agree the deal but since I’ve been an Indie I’ve come to value my independence highly. After a series of discussions I decided to accept Lake Union’s offer because they can offer expertise which will be very useful and, equally importantly, they are happy to work with me in a collaborative manner. They will also make the book available in print.

So, I’m now what Bob Mayer (I think) first called a Hybrid author. My other books will continue to be self-published; I give Lake Union first refusal on my next book and can continue to sell ‘A Love Most Dangerous’ until they are ready to re-launch it.

In the meanwhile I have two editors who are going to work with me to polish up the book plus all the extras which Amazon’s publishing houses can offer. CA_GD_LAKE_final_2(2)

If only my Mum was still here to tell.

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A Love Most Dangerous reduced in price in UK Kindle Discount Deal

Between Friday 4 July and Sunday 6 July ‘A Love Most Dangerous’ is reduced in price from £2.45 to 99p on Kindle from Take a look and tell your friends.


Here is the link to the book.

You don’t need Kindle to read it, you can get the free Kindle app for your PC or tablet. Tell your friends.

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Alice and the King #HistNov #SampleSunday

Susan Dunster and Mary Zouche were already in the dining room when we arrived.
‘Are you hungry?’ I asked with an attempt to sound stern at the fact that they had entered before me.

‘Starving hungry,’ Susan said, not noticing my tone, or choosing not to. ‘This dreary weather leaves nothing to do except eat.’

‘You should take up a pastime,’ I said. ‘Like Mary or me.’

‘I have pastimes enough, thank you.’ She half closed her eyes, making her face look sly and deceitful. ‘I am quite content to think and plot.’

I laughed at the face she pulled. ‘Thinking and plotting may get you in trouble.’
‘It hasn’t so far,’ she said with a chuckle. ‘It’s all been rather good fun.’

I sat at the table and the servants glided over with the food. It was delicious as always. A hearty thick beef stew with little onions and pickled red cabbage. Fresh white bread with butter as rich as cream. A syllabub with a raspberry preserve on the side.The wine was even better, a light red from the Loire valley. The valley of kings Sir Thomas Cromwell called it, the loveliest place on earth. How appropriate for the mistress of a king to choose a wine from such a desirable place.

We talked lightly over dinner. The latest gossip, of course, concerned Anne, the sister of the Duke of Cleves. She had already set out from from Flanders, wondering no doubt if her fate would be as awful as those of his first three wives. Others had, from all report. One at least said that she did not have enough heads to run the risk.

My friends thought my nose would be put out of joint at the thought of him taking anew wife. Not a bit of it. I had long worried that he might ask me to sit upon the poison throne. Thank goodness his advisers would not countenance such favour to an orphan of a family that had only narrowly scrambled into gentry. I don’t think the King desired it over much either. Far better to keep me as his mistress, to take his pleasure and then put me aside until the itch in his loins reminded him of my existence.

I swear that I must have fairy blood in me. No sooner had I thought this than the door opened to reveal my Page Humphrey. ‘Henry wants you,’ he said. ‘He’s just come down from Hampton Court. Right hungry he is, so I’m told.’

‘I’ll box your ears if you talk in this fashion,’ I said. I caught a glimpse of Sissy looking distraught at my words. She was more and more moon-struck every day. The thought crossed my mind as it ever did, whether these two had consummated their love already.

Susan smiled at Humphrey’s words. ‘Right hungry,’ she repeated.

I could only just keep a similar smile from my face. It was no good; I could never manage my closest servants like a lady should. They could play the game right enough in front of visitors, and for that I was thankful. But when we were here all alone, they seemed to forget themselves. And so did I.

‘I’ve a good mind to make you run behind the carriage, Susan Dunster,’ I said.
‘And you know I’d be glad to do it,’ she said.

I pursed my lips. I would not be surprised if she did. Mary and her were the most loyal friends anybody could ask for. No small feat in a court as dangerous as King Henry’s.

The horses seemed lethargic as they made their way down the winding drive towards Greenwich Palace. It was only a mile distant but the horses could barely be encouraged into a trot. I forbade the drivers to use a whip. I hated whips. So we were at the mercy of the brutes and today, they seemed intent on moving slowly.
Perhaps I was as foolish a mistress of my horses as I was of my servants.

At length we reached the Palace and I made my way towards the King’s privy chambers. His groom, Nicolas Frost was waiting for me. ‘What the devil kept you?’ he demanded.

‘I haven’t got wings,’ I said with a smile.

‘Well you’re no angel, certainly.’ He smiled back at me. I don’t know when we had grown quite so familiar but there was no returning to the more formal situation of our first acquaintance.

‘What mood is he in?’ I asked.

‘A joyful one, heaven be praised.’ He gave me a knowing smile. ‘As always, of course.’

‘Of course. I just wished to know how rapturous was his joy.’

‘You’ll find out, Alice,’ Frost said. ‘He’s in his privy chamber.’

I followed Frost through the suite of rooms and into the King’s privy chamber. He was lounging in a chair with his hands behind his head, as if in the most lovely of summer day-dreams. 170px-Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger,_Around_1497-1543_-_Portrait_of_Henry_VIII_of_England_-_Google_Art_Project

‘Ah, Alice,’ he said. ‘You’ve arrived.’

‘I came as soon as I heard your summons,’ I said.

He nodded and waved his hand for me to join him.

‘I have had a busy fortnight,’ he said. ‘Much coming and going of ambassadors. Many tedious meetings with Master Cromwell. He is like a nervous chicken at the moment, skittish as anything you could find on a farm.’

I smiled at his words. I could not imagine Sir Thomas Cromwell being either skittish or nervous.

‘I see the Baron as more of a goose,’ I said. ‘All inquisitiveness and righteous anger.’

The King slapped his thigh. ‘Oh I like that, Alice. I must tell him what you say.’
‘I’m not sure I should like that,’ I said quickly.

‘I don’t see why not. You can’t tell me you’re fearful of him. You’re a rarity in the kingdom because of it. You know you have him eating out of your hands.’

‘If you say so, Your Grace.’

‘I do say so. I witness it with my own eyes.’

‘I hope you’re not jealous, Majesty?’

He laughed. ‘What need do I have of being jealous? You are the two people who I trust most in all the world.’

I smiled despite the chill which such words caused in my heart. The more the King spoke of trust the more people thought of the scaffold.

A Love Most Dangerous is available on Amazon Kindle. CA_GD_LAKE_final_2(2)

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Sunrise, Moonset

It’s 5.45 in the morning. The sun has not yet risen but it is painting the few fluffs of cloud a myriad of colours. Some are a delicate pink, others a whipped cream, a few dark and ominous. The night sky has gone now but the full glare of the summer sky has not appeared. It is a gentle, filmy blue; a water-colour sky.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To the west the full moon is beginning to set. It is large and bright, like a sixpence nailed to the sky. It is a whole cheese, certainly, a white cheese, a Brie or a Camembert. Maybe a very young Cheddar. The seas are dark and vivid, a happy face with a lop-sided smile.

The moon has been queen for the night. I get the impression that she’ll find the young sun rather brash and tiresome. She’ll be happy to retire for the day.

No cockerel welcomes the dawn here. The raucous screams of seagulls punctuate the cooing of the collared dove which perches on our terrace. What is it calling to, the sun or the moon? Or the dim cry of its mate in the far distance?

There is a cool wind today. The heat-wave is, perhaps, over. A turning point.

Sunrise, Moonset.

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A Sale in India

Whoopie – I’ve sold my first book in India. A Love Most Dangerous.

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