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The Trojan Legacy – Free on Amazon for 5 Days

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My latest romantic mystery novel The Trojan Legacy is currently free on Amazon for 5 days. That’s from today, Monday 18th July until midnight on Friday 22nd July, Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). After that it will return to its normal price.

This eBook has only been on sale for a month, so this is the perfect opportunity to download it if you haven’t already read it. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a free kindle app to your device from any Amazon site, and read it on that.

I’m not giving spoilers by telling my romance readers that they will get the happy ending they expect, but not before my characters have had to work hard against some obstacles in their way. Like my other romantic mysteries, this book has something to interest readers of mysteries and lovers of history as well. It dabbles with bits of the Trojan War (one of my all-time favourite topics) as well as some nostalgic South African history, including a fictional chance meeting with one of my real-life heroes. (Hint – part of it is set in South Africa in 1962 and… okay that’s enough. No more spoilers!)

It’s a dual timeline story and takes place in modern-day Melbourne as well as 1962 South Africa. I hope you find it entertaining.

The quickest way to download the book is to click on the image in the sidebar to the right, and it will take you to the book’s product page in your nearest Amazon store. If you prefer, you can click here instead, or here for the book’s product page at Amazon.com.

As I usually say at times like this: if you enjoy the book, please tell everyone you know. In fact, if you really enjoy it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads so that more people will be able to see what you’ve said and that will hopefully swell future sales.

But if you don’t enjoy reading it please send me a message on the contact form either here or on my website, telling me what you didn’t enjoy about the book. All constructive criticism will be taken on board and will help towards improving future novels.

I do hope you enjoy the read…

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The Trojan Legacy – Now Live on Amazon!

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My latest novel has launched at last! The Trojan Legacy is now on Amazon as an eBook, and you can find it here.

This is a full-length novel, in the same genre of Romantic Mystery in which my first two full-length novels were written. The action takes place in two different countries, in two different time frames.

Regina, a new immigrant to Australia, seeks out the family whose name she has found in her grandmother’s papers. Together with piano-playing barman Bobby, she unravels the history of an ancient diadem which was unearthed from the ruins of Troy, but which later disappeared at the end of the Second World War. A novel of mystery and romance, set in both modern-day Melbourne and 1960s South Africa, the story unfolds against a unique slice of South African history.

Thank you to all those of you who helped me to choose between the two covers for this novel. It was (to misquote the words of Wellington after the Battle of Waterloo) a close-run thing. There were so many points in favour of both covers that I felt quite bad being able to choose only one. The cover I chose was (A) – the brighter, deeper blue background with the bigger lettering. With its vibrant colour, it has a resemblance to the cover of The Epidaurus Inheritance, and even though they are not part of a series, they are the same genre. The main deciding factor was because it really does stand out better in a thumbnail, which is what most Kindle readers will be looking at when (hopefully) choosing it as their next book to read.

Visibility is the key in every sense, it seems. I have no doubt that the readers who enjoyed my previous books will enjoy this one as much – if not more so – but they just have to find it first. Unfortunately, since the last time I put a book up on Amazon, in October 2012, there are literally hundreds of thousands more books available than there used to be, and we’re all pushing and shoving for elbow room in the same arena.

So if you happen to be one of those readers who enjoyed either The Epidaurus Inheritance or Benicio’s Bequest, why not pop over to Amazon.com, click on the cover to read the first two chapters, and see how you like it. You can even click on the book cover in the sidebar to your right and it’ll take you to my book’s product page in the Amazon store nearest you.

Go on – you know you want to…!

From Daisy with Love – Free on Amazon for 5 Days

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My historical romance novella is now free for the next five days on Amazon. From Daisy with Love is a short read of approximately 25 000 words. It is an old-fashioned love story set a hundred years ago in Africa, during the First World War.

If you haven’t already read it, now is a good time because it’ll cost you nothing more than a minute while it downloads. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle app to your computer from the same page before you download the book.

Here’s what this novella is all about:

Life is frustrating for eighteen year old Daisy, living with her sister Nellie in Durban in 1915 while their respective men are away fighting in the Great War. As a volunteer letter-writer at the local hospital, Daisy whiles away her hours of boredom by helping Peter, a young British soldier, to pick up the threads of his life after a serious injury.

When her sister’s life falls apart and the letters from her own beloved Gilbert cease to arrive, Daisy must find the strength to pull her family through their loss and persevere through the war, so that she too can live a full life and leave a legacy to her descendants.

As I’ve said with my previous novels that were free over the last two months, if you enjoy the read, please tell all your friends, and if you don’t enjoy it, please drop me a line via my contact form and let me know what you didn’t like. It all goes towards improving the next book.

You can download From Daisy with Love here from Amazon.com, or here from the Amazon store that serves the country in which you live. It’s free right now, and will remain so until Friday night – 27th May – at midnight if you’re on the Pacific coast of the USA. If you are further east, you will have until later on Saturday – 7 am in England, 8 am in South Africa and around 4 pm in Australia. If you are anywhere else in the world, you can check your time zone against my new favourite tool, World Time Buddy.

Happy reading!

Which Book Cover Would You Choose?

I’m very excited about the upcoming release of my new romantic mystery novel, and would like readers to help me choose which cover they prefer.

Here’s the blurb:

An ancient diadem unearthed from the ruins of Troy disappears from a Berlin museum at the end of the Second World War. In 1962, archaeologists Ellen and Marcus track the diadem into the mountains of the Drakensberg, believing it was hidden there by a Nazi who stole it and escaped before the Nuremberg trials. South Africa’s apartheid government wants the diadem, but so does the underground political party known as the ANC.

Ellen and Marcus have their own reasons for wanting the diadem, but Inspector Uys has a darker purpose and will stop at nothing to prevent Nelson Mandela and the ANC from taking control of the country.

Two generations later an Australian bartender and a South African travel agent put together the disjointed clues from their respective grandparents, and set off on a trail of their own in search of answers.

These are the two covers: Let’s call them A and B.

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Which do you think is more eye-catching? Bear in mind this is for an ebook to be sold on Amazon, and the image can be quite small when viewed on some reading devices. It’s not part of a series, but it is the same genre as the first and third books in the sidebar on the right.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you for your time – your input will be greatly appreciated!

The Epidaurus Inheritance – now Free on Amazon for 5 Days

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My romantic mystery novel The Epidaurus Inheritance is currently free on Amazon for 5 days. That’s from today, Monday 25th April until midnight on Friday 29th April, Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). After that it will return to its original price of $2.99.

If you haven’t already read this book, now is a good time to download it because it’ll cost you absolutely nothing except the time to read it. Don’t despair if you don’t have a kindle, because you can download a free kindle app to your device from any Amazon site, and read it on that. What could be simpler?

As I said last month when one of my other books – Benicio’s Bequest – was up for free, I know that romantic mysteries are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like writing them because I’ve always enjoyed reading them. I don’t regard mine as regular romances, because there’s always a mystery to solve along the way, usually with a good dollop of history, art and possibly a smattering of the classics thrown in, and this novel is no exception.

The Epidaurus Inheritance is set in Greece, one of my favourite places in the world; a place which, for me, has always been steeped in history, drama and mythology, to say nothing of being the birthplace of theatre as we know it. In fact, that’s where this novel starts – at a modern performance of an ancient Greek play.

Cassie is the set designer for a South African production of a play which is being staged at one of the oldest Greek theatres in the world – the enormous open-air stone structure that is Epidaurus – as part of the annual summer festival. For the design of a ceremonial knife used in the play, Cassie has copied the design of an ancient knife she inherited from her Greek father, which was handed down through the generations before him. Cassie has always been fascinated by the knife and is hoping to find out more about it now that she is in Greece.

Unfortunately for Cassie, she is not the only one interested in it. In addition to Zander, the antiquities investigator who starts badgering her about the original knife, a group of silent men who are part of an obscure religious order always seem to turn up in the same place as Cassie at the wrong time. Before long there is a break-in at Cassie’s hotel and she no longer knows who to trust.

Cassie’s quest takes her to Athens, Galaxidi, Delphi and the island of Poros, and along the way she is dogged by knife-wielding lunatics, murder, betrayal, kidnapping and fire. On the lighter side, she finds love, ancient artworks and an archaeological secret that she thought existed only in her dreams.

To those of you who downloaded last month’s book – Benicio’s Bequest – I hope you enjoyed it enough to want to try this one as well. Thank you to those of you who left reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Your kind words are much appreciated.

As I always say – if you enjoy the read please tell everyone you know, but if you don’t enjoy it please send me a message on the contact form either here or on my website, telling me what you didn’t like. All constructive criticism will go towards improving future novels. And if you really enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Or both.

You can download The Epidaurus Inheritance here from Amazon.com, or here from the Amazon store nearest to you, any time between now and Friday night in the USA. If you are elsewhere in the world, you’ll still have until later on Saturday to download it: 7 am in the UK, 8 am in South Africa and 4 pm in the eastern part of Australia. If you are anywhere else, you can check your time zone against Pacific Daylight Time with world time buddy.

Here’s hoping you have fun on your whirlwind reading trip through Greece…!

Free Novel for 5 Days on Amazon

My romantic mystery novel Benicio’s Bequest is currently free on Amazon for five days. So if you haven’t read it before, now’s your chance. And if you don’t have a Kindle on which to read it, you can download the free Kindle app on the same page at Amazon.

I do understand that if you’re not into romantic mysteries you’ll probably want to give it a miss. However, it is free so it won’t cost you anything other than time, so why not find out whether you might enjoy a romance with a bit of historical mystery thrown in? It’s free until midnight on Friday 18th March. Midnight on Pacific time, that is, so readers in the UK, South Africa, Australia and various other parts of the world have until sometime on Saturday to download it before it goes back to its original price of $2.99.

I don’t write to a specific formula and my style is not that of most books which fall into the popular genre of romance. Obviously I like to give romance readers the ending they expect (hint – I love happy endings), but I also like to give readers of mysteries and lovers of history a little bit of what they enjoy too. Those of us who write mixed genres will tell you that our books are formally categorised into the genre which ticks the most boxes, but there is always room in those pages for a little extra entertainment.

I don’t write erotica, so you won’t find Fifty Shades of Anything Like That between the covers of my books, but if you enjoy good old fashioned romance in the style made famous by Mary Stewart, then you’ll enjoy my feisty heroines and the puzzled chaps they take up with while trying to solve a mystery that involves something historical, in an exotic place.

My heroines always find themselves in what’s known as a fish-out-of-water situation, usually while on holiday overseas or in a new place they have moved to but haven’t yet settled down in. In that place there is a man who might be willing to help, or who needs help himself, and their paths cross.

There is always something historical involved – an artefact, a painting, a box of letters – and the two characters are thrown together and forced to tolerate each other while they navigate unfamiliar waters on their mutual quest.

Inevitably, this leads to conflict, doubt, betrayal, and just a little bit of chemical sparkery along the way. They fall into an adventure with enough danger for them to realise they don’t want to die, or to live without each other, but they have to solve the mystery and vanquish the Bad Guy before they can find their happy ending. There is a climactic confrontation with said Bad Guy, after which our hero and heroine emerge changed, older and much more in love than when they first started.

Benicio’s Bequest is set in Italy and follows the adventures of holidaying art teacher Lisa, who witnesses the murder of a man who has been trying to chat her up in the courtyard of Juliet’s house in Verona. Minutes before he is gunned down, he slips a notebook addressed to his brother into her handbag. Lisa delivers the notebook to the brother, Matteo, a wood artist who lives in Venice. Thus begins an adventure in which Lisa and Matteo have to uncover the art forgery scam that killed Matteo’s painter brother, Benicio.

As I always say – if you enjoy it, please write a review on Amazon or Goodreads (or both!) and if you don’t enjoy it, rather send me a private email via my Contact Me page, telling me why you didn’t like it. I am always open to constructive criticism, and will take valid points on board, in order to improve the next novel.

You can download Benicio’s Bequest here from Amazon.com, or here from the Amazon store nearest to you. Happy reading…!

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Romantic Mysteries and the Melbourne Writers Festival

I have to admit that I’m confused. Again. Uploading books to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is not for the faint-hearted. I might have been fearless when I uploaded my first novel four years ago, but I’ve learned to be wary of my biggest stumbling block: Categories.

As an author, you are allowed to choose two categories (genres) to describe your book to would-be purchasers. In each category, there are sub-categories which narrow down the choices so that readers who might enjoy your book can actually find it in a niche which appeals to them. For example, for a novel you would select Fiction, then narrow it down within that by choosing Action & Adventure, further narrow it down to Mystery, Thriller & Suspense and then narrow it down again to Mystery.

Fantastic, you think – you’re now listed amongst your peers! Many peers. Too many peers.

Unfortunately, with around 4,000 titles for readers to choose from in that Mystery category, your book is probably going to be listed on page 390 out of 400 pages. This means that no one is going to find it because no one is going to have the patience to wade through 390 pages to find yours. Likewise with the second category you choose.

Beware, the author who misjudges her initial broad category! I received a less than favourable review from someone who thought that my mystery should have had more action and adventure, and less soppy romance. My romantic mysteries are more about the romance than the mystery, unlike Dan Brown who writes fast-paced, action-filled mysteries.

The trick is to select the category that is most predominant in your book. So I considered re-categorising mine as Romance, followed by Action/Adventure. Fortunately I browsed first and what did I see?  Erotica, sexy adventure, action sex, and so on. Neither the action nor the adventure that I had written about! Clearly a major re-think was needed.

Back in the 1960s, the great Mary Stewart pioneered the genre of Romantic Suspense, or Romantic Mystery. On Amazon, if you choose Romance first and then look for Mystery within that it doesn’t exist, but Suspense does. However, if you browse Amazon using keywords, Romantic Suspense brings up what others call Paranormal Romance – relationships involving werewolves, vampires or other supernatural phenomena. Mary Stewart’s Romantic Suspense novels are not about those things, and neither are mine.

As a confused writer, I attended the Melbourne Writers Festival, thinking that a little insight into current writing trends might help me. I chose my sessions carefully, hopped on a train and opened my mind. Opened it a little too wide, maybe. Shades of Pandora and her troublesome box, perhaps, but I really enjoyed my time at the festival.

The first session I attended was about romance writing, comparing the treatments between the Young Adult and traditional Romance genres, and was entitled Losing It. With a title like that, I should have guessed – but didn’t – that this session was all about losing one’s virginity. YA literature is almost exclusively about this topic, according to one of the panel members, Fiona Wood.

Well, I wouldn’t know, would I? I don’t write YA, and it didn’t exist as a category when I was in that target age group. For the modern YA reader, loss of virginity is more often non-consensual than consensual.

Romance novelist Melanie Milburne agreed that the Romance genre usually follows the same pattern, albeit aimed at a slightly older age group. Even in Historical Romance, the traditional “bodice-rippers” seem to imply that sex is non-consensual. In other words: rape. Well, imagine my shock and horror! I always thought that Romance was supposed to be about… you know, Romantic Stuff.

For example, my novels – my romantic mysteries – centre on the exploration of a mutual quest, in which two people start off on opposing sides and gradually change as the story evolves. The female protagonist gets to know another side of the male hero slowly over the first 100 pages, and their budding relationship is advanced by the mystery they both need to solve.

Along the way, diversions include the occasional picnic or shared bottle of wine, followed by an unexpected awakening of emotions, culminating in a midpoint consummation behind closed doors, heralded by that most diplomatic of writer devices: the chapter break.

In the second half of the novel, the tension notches up as the Bad Guy closes in. The romantic couple cling together through increasing danger, during which they respectively realise that they have each found their life partner through the most extraordinary circumstances, only to possibly lose that person due to the misdeeds of the Bad Guy. When all hope seems lost, the indomitable lovers gain the upper hand, solve the mystery, save each other and restore a new balance before the final Happy Ending.

Just your average falling in love, bells ringing, music and flowers Romance.

That’s certainly how I would like to fall in love and find my life partner. Reality check: maybe that’s why I haven’t found him yet! Second reality check: maybe that’s why the stuff I write is primarily categorised as fiction…

Does this mean I don’t write Romance after all? Should I try a new approach and re-classify my novels as something else?

The words in my novels are not just thrown together in some random order to tell a mediocre story quickly and earn me a fast buck. A lot of thought, planning and research goes into my plots, so they are more than just romances and have a strong historical or artistic theme. They delve back into the history of a particular era or movement, with the emphasis on archaeology, art, lost loves of a previous generation, and so on. Thought provoking stuff, so perhaps what I write could be considered Literary Fiction?

This led me to attend a discussion on Literary versus Genre Fiction. Once again my eyes were shocked into the surprised open position as I learned from writer Krissy Kneen that generally, Literary Fiction seems to be another term for Erotica. Harrison Young, an American-born writer, set out to write what he thought was Literary Fiction, but his novel was re-classified by his publisher as a Thriller. He felt this was unfair because some readers of traditional thrillers thought that his book was too different from the norm, and not to their usual thriller tastes.

Writer Honey Brown confessed that she didn’t think about genre at all when writing, because that was for her publisher to sort out. I couldn’t help feeling a twinge of jealousy for both these two writers – lucky them for having publishers to take on the task of deciding on categories!

As a last resort, I attended a session on Women’s Fiction. It came as no surprise that Women’s Fiction is all about politics: the politics of domestic abuse, the politics of the glass ceiling for women in a so-called “man’s world” and the politics of women fighting against any ingrained, immovable system. This is very noble stuff, and I have the deepest respect for the people who write it. It is obviously extremely popular, judging from the queues of people (mainly women) waiting to get in the door at this session.

Unfortunately my writing is far too frivolous to be this noble, this edgy. I don’t write about politics – the single biggest reason why I was unable to find a publisher in South Africa. Some do, some don’t write Women’s Fiction. I happen to fall into the latter group.

Towards the end of the session, a woman in her 70s stood up at the back and asked: “Why is no one mentioning Chick-Lit? Surely that falls under Women’s Fiction too?” Despite the fact that the floor was carpeted, you could’ve heard a pin crashing onto it if someone had dared to drop one in the ensuing silence. The bemused expressions on the faces of the panel members made me want to laugh out loud.

The term Chick-Lit doesn’t seem to be used anymore – it’s now called Romantic Comedy – but regardless of the label, its writers have a knack for comic timing that I can only dream about. While what I write is light and frothy, fairly clean and thought by at least one reviewer to be “more Hallmark channel than cable,” I cannot claim to be a writer of Chick-Lit, but I do enjoy reading it.

One theory remained constant through all the eye-opening which I experienced at this festival. Cross-genre writers definitely need to first choose the category which reflects the main genre of the book. As explained by Harrison Young (whose Literary Fiction novel became a Thriller), writers cannot afford to disappoint habitual readers of any genre. We must give readers what they expect, plus something extra that they didn’t realise they wanted. Maybe it will expand their reading horizons, and they will come back for more. I took his words to heart and made my decision on my Amazon categories based on them.

So, after all that, what did I choose? Romance and Mystery, of course. In Romance I have chosen the sub-category of Suspense, and in Mystery I have chosen the sub-category of Cozy. Let’s see how that works out. Watch this space…

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