29.11.12

Dora Jordan - a woman of strength and a warm heart

Despite seeing herself as Irish, the famous actress, Mrs Jordan, was in fact born in London near Covent Garden in 1761, no doubt where her stage-struck parents were seeking work at the time, and where she was baptized Dorothy Bland. Her sisters called her Dolly. She preferred Dora and adopted that as her stage name.

Turning to acting out of necessity rather than choice, her father having abandoned his family to marry an Irish heiress, she became known as the most famous comedic actress of her day. Dora began her career on the Dublin stage and became the sole source of income for her family from the age of sixteen. Suffering a sexual assault from the manager she fled to Yorkshire, already pregnant, where she went on the circuit to learn her craft. She endured much jealousy from her fellow actors, but her talent was soon recognised and she moved on to Drury Lane where her fame spread.

Not considered to be a classic beauty, her nose and chin being somewhat prominent, she nevertheless had the sweetest smile and the most alluring dark eyes, cupid’s bow mouth and rosy cheeks that gave off a healthy glow. Her expressive face was perfect for comic roles, as was her mop of brown curls. She was not particularly tall but had a neat, elegant figure, was articulate with good diction, and a voice considered to be strong and clear. Most of all she had vivacity, confidence and a natural stage presence. Her finest feature proved to be her legs, which were shown to perfection in her cross-dressing roles. Men in the audience worshipped those elegantly shapely limbs, considered by some to be the finest ever seen on stage.

Ultimately she became mistress to the Duke of Clarence, later William IV, with whom she lived in happy domesticity for nearly twenty years, presenting him with ten children while striving to balance both career and ‘marriage’ as her modern counterparts do today. Her life was blighted by an insincere and weak father, a dependent mother, inadequate siblings, selfish children, and more than one man who betrayed her trust. Her flaw was that she was perhaps a little too trusting, caring and eager to help those she loved, which proved to be her downfall in the end.
 
She was a woman of great courage and independence, fiesty, warm-hearted and generous to a fault. But when things started to go wrong she needed to call upon all her resources to survive. Yet she bore her troubles with astonishing good will, and to the end of her life never said a word against the Duke. ‘Had he left me to starve I would never have uttered a word to his disadvantage!’ And following their separation the Duke collected as many portraits of her as he could find, so perhaps he did still love her after all.
 
 Publication Date: 29 Nov 2012
Passion, jealousy, scandal and betrayal - a true-life Regency Romance of the rise and fall of an extraordinary woman born into extraordinary times. Growing up in a poverty-stricken, fatherless household, Dorothy Jordan overcame her humble beginnings to become the most famous comic actress of her day. It was while performing on Drury Lane that Dorothy caught the eye of the Duke of Clarence, later to become King William IV. Her twenty-year relationship with the Duke was one of great happiness and domesticity, producing ten children. But ultimately, Dorothy's generous nature was her undoing and she was to be cruelly betrayed by the man she loved. 

Find it on Amazon.

6.11.12

The Next Big Thing

Frances Brody http://www.frances-brody.com/blog/, author of the Kate Shackleton murder mysteries, has invited me to take part in a blog event entitled THE NEXT BIG THING - a series of questions and answers about what’s happening next in my writing life. 

What is the title of your book?

My next book, published at the end of November, is THE DUCHESS OF DRURY LANE.

What genre does your book fall under? 

Biographical historical fiction.

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

It’s a true story about a real person, Dorothea Jordan, known as Dora. I found her while researching eighteenth century theatre. Brought up in a poverty-stricken, fatherless household, she overcame her humble beginnings to become the most famous comic actress of her day, and mistress to the Duke of Clarence, later William IV. Her twenty-year relationship with the Duke was one of great happiness and domesticity, producing ten children. But ultimately, Dorothy's generous nature was her undoing and she was to be cruelly betrayed by the man she loved.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
She would need to be a woman of spirit and independence, yet with the sweet vulnerability, and natural, wholesome beauty that Dora possessed. So it would have to be Kate Winslet.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A true-life Regency Romance of the rise and fall of an extraordinary woman born into extraordinary times.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

THE DUCHESS OF DRURY LANE is published by Severn House in hardback on 29 November, and of course an ebook. A trade paperback comes next spring.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I don’t think in terms of first draft or second draft. I just keep going over and over it until it's done. I started researching and planning the book some six months before I began to write. The actual writing took four months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

This story was originally told by Jean Plaidy as Goddess of the Green Room, which she wrote some years ago. I wouldn’t presume to compare my version with hers, and although I read Plaidy’s book as a teenager, and loved it, I didn’t risk revisiting it when writing mine. Besides which, she wrote it in third person, and I’ve written mine in first for a more intimate insight into Dora’s character.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? I absolutely love the Georgian period.

It is a time of great excess, of gambling, drinking, and a celebrity culture that might almost match our own today. I also love the theatre, so writing about it was a joy. Dora's roles were mainly what were cross-dressing parts, where she played the role of someone pretending to be male. This was a rare opportunity for the men in the audience to glimpse a woman's legs. 
 
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?


Having read several books on the period, William IV and Dora Jordan, I was filled with admiration for her. Was he a cad or just weak? I think most modern women struggling to balance motherhood with a career, as well as keeping her man happy, will totally empathise with the choices Dora had to make. At first her connection with the Duke of Clarence was considered to be perfectly acceptable by the royal family, but when duty called everything changed, and she had a fight on her hands.

My thanks to Francis Brody for asking me to take part in this blog event. 


 

The following authors will pick up THE NEXT BIG THING baton next Tuesday, 13 November. 

Wendy Soliman http://wendysoliman.blogspot.co.uk/ Writes sexy historicals and contemporary romance. 

Kate Jackson-Bedford http://katejacksonswriting.blogspot.co.uk  Writes novellas and short stories for D C Thompson magazines. 

Heidi Rice http://heidi-rice.blogspot.co.uk/ Writes sexy, sassy, contemporary romance with alpha heroes and heroines. 

Rae Sommer http://minxesofromance.blogspot.co.uk/ Writes sensual romance for Wild Rose Press.

Nicky Wells. http://nickywellsklippert.wordpress.com/ Nicky’s debut novel is Sophie's Turn, a glamorous contemporary fairy tale featuring a rock star and the girl next door. 

2.11.12

Raising your Profile

For any writer, raising your profile is important. Having just returned from a fantastic Ninc conference in New York, I thought I'd list some of the tips I picked up.

Social networking: 
You can’t do everything, so choose what suits you and do it well.
Try to find out where your readers are. How are they finding you?
Fewer than ever find books in stores now. Sad but true.

Facebook and Twitter. 
Attract - engage - don’t put people off with buy, buy, buy, or book, book, book.
Don’t be philosophical, complaining or negative.
Likes are good, comments better, share is best.
Pure text posts have less impact: Add a picture or link whenever you can.
Profile pictures should not be a book cover. Use a picture of yourself so people can connect with a person rather than a product.
Involve readers in choices for your books. E.g.: name for a dog you intend to feature.
Talk about the book or writing of it in a fun way.
Let your personality shine through.
 Check your reach in your stats on the hide part of your Facebook Page.
Use Tweetreach to discover how many people you reach on Twitter.

Goodreads and Shelfari: 
Chat about books in general, not your own.
Do reviews on Goodreads, but always good ones. Otherwise you could incite trolls.
Perhaps review what you’ve read recently, or those that influenced you as a writer, or when growing up.
Do a Goodreads giveaway.
www.shelfari.com This is for readers, but an author can add bonus material, and make sure it’s correct.
Pinterest and Linked In: Can be a major time suck as you have to find pictures to pin. There are copyright issues too, so always leave in place the link to the site you borrowed the pic from, or get permission to use. I haven’t tried this one yet. Nor Linked In.

Website:
We had an excellent talk from David Wind on how to improve our website. Whether it’s a free Word Press one, done by a web designer, or any version in between, it should have all the important words to describe your books at the top of the home page for best search engine optimisation. (SEO)
Don’t use all caps. The web crawlers don’t pick them up.
Always tag pictures so they can be picked up too.
Keep the site updated.
Add value content such as excerpts with links, or more information about the fictional world you’ve created, or settings for your book.
Add links to FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Blog, etc.
Add a sign-in for your newsletter.
Offer a free short story or download of an ebook.
Put on a counter to check out your stats, or use Google analytics.

Blogs:
Only do one if you can keep it up at least once or twice a month.
Don’t forget you can schedule posts in advance.
You can also synchronise with FB, Author Central, your website etc.
Guest blogs are a good alternative, or you can do these as well.
Find and list suitable sites and keep their details in a separate folder for future use.


Newsletter: Liz Maverick gave lots of advice on this subject:
Aim to drive people to something on your website first, then on to your buy link.
Have an enticing subject to encourage an open click.
Keep it short. Quality over quantity.
Aim for a soft sell. Be chatty in your own personal style. Be excited. Make it feed into your general strategy. Put the links in the editorial.
Be consistent with your timing, and test the response for the best time.
Keep it simple. Remember it has to look good on a smart phone/mobile. One column, no side bars, works best.
Have contests and giveaways, but don’t give away chocs or stuff that will attract contest junkies.
MailChimp allows you to check your analytics to see which works best for you on click throughs. Compare with your sales spikes.

Videos, trailers, etc: 
Apparently only 5% actually finish watching a 2 minutes video, so if you make one, keep it short.

Amazon: 
Dan Slater from Amazon gave an excellent presentation taking us through the tools of promotion.

What drives sales?
Availability.
Discoverability.
Pricing.

Sales drive up the rankings, but encourage your readers to like your book pages. This helps to raise it in the search engines and gets it picked up by Amazon’s algorithms, which will help create sales.
Choose the right tags.
Reviews - develop a thick skin, and never respond.
Don’t have fellow authors review your books, Amazon will take them down.
Price strategies drive traffic. Have a promo price that creates a snowball effect by driving traffic on to your normal priced books.
With ebooks it’s about the long tail, not how many you can sell in the first month.
Make it easy for the buyer. Link your backlist to Amazon titles.
Author Central. Helps communicate with readers. Fill out your profile, add links to your blog etc. It also offers sales data - rankings - history of rankings which change hourly.
Search inside. These sell 8 - 9% more.
Once you start selling well, Amazon will send out automated emails, recommended for you, customers bought - etc. Associates: Sell your book from your website. Use links, widgets to do this.

Kindle Owners Lending Library:
Prime account holders who own a kindle device can check out one book at a time once a month. Amazon says lenders go on to buy books by that author, that KOLL titles grow faster than non-KOLL titles. But the book has to be exclusive to Amazon. I haven’t tried this myself as I am wary of offending my readers if they can only find me in one place.

Support Teams, or lifeboat teams as they are called in the US: 
Work with other authors to share and retweet, or you could mention each other’s new titles in your newsletter.
Like each other’s pages.
Some have done an anthology together to promote each other’s work.
If nothing else they can offer emotional support, which we all need at times.

Most important of all: Write the next book!