Sunday, December 18, 2011

So you'd like a vampire for Christmas?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne by Cody Young

Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne

by Cody Young

Giveaway ends December 23, 2011.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Monday, December 12, 2011

Celebrating Seven Years

My husband says it's weird being married to a writer - you never know which bit of your life is going to end up in a book. We've just celebrated our wedding anniversary - seven years of driving each other crazy -  in every sense of the word! This year I wrote him a sonnet, and he has given me the go ahead to publish it here for you to read.

With true delight I always will remember,
The day you asked me if I'd be your wife,
My warmest, sweetest, memory of December,
Lives in a golden moment - the best in all my life.
Your diamond ring outshone the sparkling sea,
and dolphins danced and my heart leapt the waves
For happiness, that you would share with me,
A future bright and perfect as that day.
The weather has proved changeable and storms have rocked the boat
The cynic in me questioned love, the promise seemed a liar,
But if I ever doubted we could keep our dreams afloat,
I’d find them in your arms, my love, like metal in the fire.
I never thought it possible – that this is how I’d feel,
Until you came into my life and showed me love is real.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I’m getting an amazing response to Johnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne – to the text, that is. To my surprise, there have been some mixed reactions to the cover.
Some loved it: “It’s noir,” you told me. “He’s looks mysterious and windswept."
Some of you found it intriguing: “If I had seen it in a bookstore I definitely would have picked it up and when I read the description I would have bought it.” But some just didn’t like it. One (very helpful) reviewer, who gave the book a very positive four-star review, said this: “The cover. I am not a fan. I would rather have seen Maddie running from the Tower in her beautiful dress.”

I’ve been doing some serious research on this. Most traditional romances have a couple on the front. More recently there has been a trend to show just the guy - often a handsome male model complete with man boobs.  Most teen romances show a girl in a pretty dress. The conventional advertising wisdom is that if you want to sell your book to young women it needs to have a picture of a young woman on the front. Does this hold true for YA fiction?

I need YOUR opinion. Should I put a girl or a boy on the cover of the next book? To give you a sneak preview of some of my ideas, here are a selection of shots from a photo shoot we did yesterday. The model’s name is Aleisha and she is eighteen (just like Maddie will be in Book Two). I’m thinking of isolating an image of her as a pensive bride and putting it on a dark moody background that will tell us a little more about the book. What do you think? Will it work?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meet the Hero: Johnny De Vere

Name: Johnny De Vere
Occupation: Vampire, guardian of the River of Time
Born: 1462
Age: Twenty-one. Johnny's been twenty-one for a very long time. Johnny will be twenty-one forever.
Loves: Madeleine - though she betrayed him and left him for dead.
Hates: People telling him he will understand things better when he's older. 

Here's an extract from Johnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne. In this scene, Maddie has just gone through the door to the past for the first time, Johnny has come after her. They're spending their first awkward night together in a medieval inn in Billingsgate not far from the Tower of London.

   “You should drink your soup,” he says stiffly. “Before it goes cold.”
    “I’m not hungry.” But he passes the bowl to me, and I obediently sample the aromatic broth. “It’s good,” I say, sounding slightly surprised.
    Johnny scowls at me and paces over to the window again. He makes sure the shutter is fastened tight. I drink my soup but he doesn’t even touch his wine.
    I try to calm down. I use some of the water to wash my face, and dry it on the piece of old linen that the girl laid beside the bowl. I dither about taking off my shoes and generally find every excuse to delay getting into that bed with him.
    I take a few sips of the wine, and find that it tastes absolutely excellent – it is warm and spicy and reminds me of Christmas. I decide I’d better not have any more because I need to keep my wits about me. Johnny says he’ll protect me, yes. From anyone who comes to this room. But who’s going to protect me from him?
    I glance nervously up at him. He’s undoing his doublet, making quick work of a dozen or more little buttons down the front. He shucks it off in one easy movement and leaves it on the end of the bed. Underneath, he’s wearing a linen shirt, and he loosens the fastening at the neck. He places his belt and his dagger on the table. He’s a dangerous man, and I’m alone with him for the night. And yet, I am not afraid. His tenderness to me is revealed more and more, with every hour that I know him. He is unlike any man I have ever met, or will ever meet in my lifetime again.
He hesitates, fingers hovering on the strings that tie up his pants – I mean his hose.
He looks up at me. A blistering look that burns me, deep inside.
I am standing over by the table, wondering if now is the moment to snuff out the candles, though the last thing I want to do is extinguish the light. Not when it lights up such a beautiful, beautiful sight as Johnny in that open-neck shirt.
    “Sorry,” he says. “I am getting ahead of myself. Should I wait outside while you take off your gown?”
     “I… have nothing to change into.”
    “Sleep in your shift. Many women do.”
And you’d know about that would you? I’m tempted to ask, but I don’t.
    “I suppose I could,” I say reluctantly.
Suddenly he seems to see the real reason for my hesitation. “Look, Maddie. It’s just for one night. Stop looking at me like I’m a monster. I’m not going to seduce you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
    “You’re not?” “I am a gentleman, Maddie. You can rest assured of that.”
My face is scarlet, like his hose. I know that. “Okay.”
    I haul my dress up over my head, and he offers to take it downstairs so the servants can brush the mud off the hem. I agree to this and while he’s gone I rake my fingers through my hair, since I don’t have a comb. Then I hop into the bed. The stones have made the bed warm and cozy. The linen sheets are a little coarse compared with the poly-cotton sheets I’m used to but they are not uncomfortable. The scent of fresh hay and lavender is really rather nice. I snuggle down and rest my head on the pillow.
    In a moment or two he returns and snuffs out the candle, carefully. In the darkness he removes his hose. I turn over in bed so it doesn’t seem like I’m watching him.
    He slips into bed beside me. His body spoons with mine, and I feel his breath on my neck.
    He strokes back my hair and tells me that he’ll watch over me while I sleep. While I sleep! How can I possibly fall asleep, with him and his long muscular limbs brushing against me? His touch leaves me tingling like he’s conducting electricity into my whole body.
    So I just lie still and try to keep my breathing slow and steady while he whispers soothing words and strokes my hair.
    This is the sweetest, scariest experience I have ever had with a guy. I’m a virgin. I’ve never had a real boyfriend before.
     Is this strange, secretive man really my boyfriend?
    I don’t know. Only time will tell.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Giveaway on Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne by Cody Young

Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne

by Cody Young

Giveaway ends November 14, 2011.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why YA?

My new genre-of-choice is Young-adult fiction. I read it, I write it, I love it. 
Young-adult fiction is hot. Officially aimed at the 14 – 21 age group, it is finding an audience far beyond those narrow boundaries. Vast numbers of people over the age of twenty-one are reading teen fiction. New YA blogs appear every day. But Why? 

Some say it’s the style. The books are fast-paced, edgy and exciting. The dialogue moves the plot forward and the narrative is written in a conversational style with no literary pretensions.  In other words – it’s easy to read. You don’t have to struggle to extract the author’s meaning from the foggy thicket of their words. NB That doesn’t mean it’s easy to write! 

Others say people love YA because we’re all in love with the idea of being young. We can relive those heady days when everything was new through the youthful heroes and heroines of our favourite YA series. And maybe there’s something in that. There’s nothing quite like a FIRST first kiss, is there? But for me, the key to understanding the rising appeal of teen fiction is in the themes it deals with, including:

Stills from the trailer for American Smile by Cody Young
expressing sexuality,
challenging authority,
maintaining friendships,
keeping secrets,
making money,
dealing with prejudice,
righting wrongs in an unfair world,
swimming against the tide,
finding love and gaining other people’s respect.

And since lots of not-so-young people are dealing with that stuff too – there’s your answer. As many of my readers know, I started out writing historical fiction and only recently switched to writing YA. Why? I realised that even in my historical fiction I was trying to write YA. My protags are nearly always in their teens, they have angsty teenage problems, they have parents – sometimes bad parents – and they have an aching need to make their mark in the world. When I finally made the move to writing YA everything fell into place. Writing full-length novels suddenly became a whole lot easier, becuase this is where I belong. I see my own writing as Young-adult/New Adult – meaning fiction aimed at the older teens, twenties, and beyond. To see if you think I got it right – you’ll need to check out my latest release Johnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne. Available for 99 cents at Amazon and Smashwords. Also available in print at for $8.99.

A site I’ve found interesting lately is the YA Fantasy Guide over at

Also, check out YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association – lots of good articles on trends in YA fiction I’ve just started following them on twitter.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne

Print copies have arrived!
UPDATE: The kindle edition is now available!
Here's me proudly holding copies of Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne - book one of my time travel series. I'm already writing the sequel  - Johnny and the Vampires of Versailles - another wild adventure set in revolutionary France. I'm enjoying doing the research.
I had a great time writing this one - looking at maps of medieval London and reading everything I could find on vampires, the Tower of London, Richard III, and the Princes in the Tower. This book puts a whole new spin on the disappearance of the Princes - but to find out what it is, you have to read the book because I'm not giving the secret away.
To get your copy in paperback go to The 99 cent Kindle version has been uploaded, so it should be there soon too. Epub and all other formats are already available on Smashwords Got my first sales last night - so exciting!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Proofs of the cover just arrived

My YA time travel adventure is almost ready for release. The proofs of the full cover have just arrived. Advanced Reader Copies not far away. Give me a shout if you'd like to read and review and I'll put you on the (rapidly growing) list.

 If you spot any mistakes - please tell me. Any thoughts on the vexed question of where to put the commas? Any other thoughts? Really looking forward to receiving the ARCs now. I'm missing Maddie and Johnny like crazy and can't wait to see my baby as a real book. This one is a full-length novel (80K) and will be available in PRINT (news of the release soon) as well as in all the e-formats. E-books will be priced at 99 cents.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thought you might like to see this

This is what my books look like while I'm working on them. This is Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne, Book One of my time travel trilogy, just after I completed the first draft. I've covered it with little sticky notes to remind me about stuff I have to fix. After that I listen to it, using TextAloud, and pick up heaps of typos and missing words, and after that, it goes to my editors, critique partners and beta readers. I ask a whole variety of people to look at it, and I try hard to listen to what they have to say. I like to know which lines made them laugh - and it's always great news if they picked the lines that I liked best too.

Just heard that my freebie e-book, the Lady and the Locksmith has hit #8 on the 'historical romance' list in the UK - which is fantastic news! It is stomping up the rankings at Barnes & Noble too, garnering lots of four-star ratings. It has the first chapter of Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne inside, so if you haven't got yours yet, go grab a copy. I'm looking forward to announcing the release date of the time travel series. It's going to be so exciting! Time travel, with vampires, and an American girl falling in love. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Baring My Bookshelves to the World

Hi guys,
Ever wondered what an author's bookshelves look like?  Here's a chance to have a peek at mine. This is, can you believe, a 'reduced' collection, because we had a major house fire last year and had to throw out quantities of smoke damaged books (if you want to know more about that, see my other blog post 'Courage Under Fire').

As you can see, I'm one of those people who loves 'real books' and yet I'm embracing the e-revolution whole-heartedly. I got my e-reader LAST Christmas and it has opened up a whole new world for me. I also read a lot of books on Kindle for PC - the free application that anyone can install on their computer. How often these days do you find yourself explaining to someone how they can get hold of an e-book - instead of how to find a great bookshop?
As an author, I am finding that most of my royalties now come from my e-book sales - although I'm still keen to have everything I've written released in print, because I still get lots of emails from people who like print books best. I can well believe the predictions that most books sold will soon be e-books though.

At the moment, only my full-length novel American Smile, is available in print, soon to be joined by the first book in my time travel trilogy, Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne - which will be released in all formats. In 2012, a lush new story will appear. The title will be RAF HERO and it's about a handsome young pilot and a nineteen year old Irish girl with a guilty secret. They meet in a bombing raid in London in 1941, and he saves her when she doesn't want to be saved. Can't wait to share it with you! Meanwhile, I shall be writing ... fast!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Get your free sizzle while it's HOT

Don't you just love free stuff? I do. My delicious new novella THE LADY AND THE LOCKSMITH is out now, and for a limited time (my husband says it's important to use that phrase, sorry!) it is completely FREE.

She’s a prisoner in her father’s house.
He’s a locksmith, and he could set her free.
But if he does, he’ll pay the price, and when her father finds out, so will she.
A sensual romantic adventure
about a pair of young lovers who were never meant to meet
and their struggle for love and liberty.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why I love Book Bloggers

Book Bloggers are creative, intelligent people who spread the word about great books. Earlier this year, when my debut book SCANDAL AT THE FARMHOUSE came out, book bloggers became my new best friends. Why? Because many of them were willing to give up their precious free time to read and review an unknown author, and luckily, most of them liked my book and helped me to make the transition from 'aspiring author' to yes-I-really-am-a-writer-now, just like I always wanted to be. Bloggers consistently pick the winners. This week I'm reading Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, which has received rave reviews all round.

I absolutely LOVE some of the ingenious names people dream up for their sites:
'Sniff Books Not Drugs' and 'Attack of the Book' and 'Stiletto Storytime' and 'Fictitious Delicious' to name but a few. Then there's Forever Young Adult - 'for YA readers who are a little less Y and a bit more A'!!! Erm ...that would be me.

Review blogs come in all shapes and sizes - from tiny start-ups with just a handful of followers to giant mega blogs with a readership in the thousands. The presentation is sassy and clever, and many sites are works of art in themselves.

Many publishers send ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) directly to their favourite bloggers to get critical feedback before the book is released.  The bloggers are amazingly efficient at timing the release of the review to coincide with the release of the book. It is harder to get a review from one of these giants - because they  receive thousands of requests, but it you do, it will instantly boost sales. Some even post a weekly VLOG on youtube showing off their haul to the world. It's worth pointing out that small blogs grow very rapidly into big blogs, too. I've seen the list of people following Laurie Here quadruple in a few short months!

The reviews are often witty and insightful, very rarely hurtful - but if you follow a lot of blogs (and trust me, I follow a few) you soon get a clear idea of what's hot and what's not.
Some like to use Net Galley to grab the hottest books before they even hit the shelves. But many of them will review a book that is already in print - great news for authors who are learning to promote their own work. 

More and more bloggers are accepting Indie books now.  Some bloggers estimate that twenty-five percent of their To Be Read pile is self-published. But others are very fussy about what they will and won't review. Authors need to check their review policy carefully (if you can find it - bloggers, take note!).

Book Bloggers are a force to be reckoned with. They network. They go to conferences. They are organized. They also have some very cute buttons you can grab:

Candace's Book Blog

So, support book bloggers. They are great for readers and great for writers. 
Here's a short list for you to sample - and be warned, this is just the very tip of the iceberg!

Please leave a comment - especially if you can recommend a great book blog - I love finding more.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Emotions Ran High at Romance Writers' Conference

Every year writers in my part of the world look forward to the RWNZ conference, which is always exciting and full of opportunities to meet amazing people, to rub shoulders with big names like Tess Gerritsen and Bob Mayer, and to schmooze with agents and editors like Jessica Faust, Sue Grimshaw, Lucy Gilmour and Angela James. It's a chance to form valuable friendships - the kind of friendships that help writers stay (even moderately) sane during the year. It's also a place where A-HA moments about our writing tend to happen, and where careers can take a whole new direction. This year all of that was overshadowed by the death of Sandra Hyatt, a warm, witty romance writer, a mother and a wife. Everybody loved her. One minute she was there - having a great time - the next day she was in hospital - and not long after that, she was gone. She is mourned by many, many people. She was such a fun person to be around.
The conference had to go on, people still needed to pitch their books, to listen to great speakers, and to try to concentrate on honing their craft. But we were all struggling to make sense of what happened to Sandra and reflecting on how short life can be. It has made me really stop and think - am I living life the way I really want to live it? Am I writing what I really want to write? Do I have time to do everything I want to do? Some hard questions and I don't have many of the answers. All I know is that Sandra was a person who lived life to the full. She was full of life.
Goodbye Sandra.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Six things I wish I'd known sooner about being a writer

  1. Getting rejected doesn’t mean your book is bad. It could be a case of wrong place, wrong time. I once submitted a history book about Liverpool shipping to a publisher that specialized in the history of Liverpool  - the football team, that is.  It was not a match made in heaven. Careful, up-to-date research before you submit is essential.

  1. When it comes to improving your book - there are things that make a book ‘better’ and there are things that make a book sell, and it is not always easy to tell which is which. Go look at the books in your genre that really, really sell, and base your decisions about ‘honing your craft’ on them.

  1. Getting an agent for your book doesn’t guarantee you’ll get published. I’ve seen several writers sign up with great agents, and a year or two later they still haven’t got a deal. With so much change going on in the industry, this is hardly surprising. Agents are not fortune-tellers (though they do try). They take on books they HOPE will sell. If you think an agent is the answer to your every prayer, you may be in for a surprise.

  1. A publisher can get out of a contract to publish your book remarkably easily, and if your publisher ceases to exist, you haven’t got a legal leg to stand on. Don’t waste time trying to fight battles you can’t win. Put your energy into writing – you’ll do brilliant bad guys and hypocrites for a while!

  1. The blurb on the back of the book is NOT supposed to tell people what it is about. If it does that, they don’t need to buy the book. It is supposed to grab the person’s interest so they take it to the counter and pay for it – or read the whole thing right there in the shop. You could apply these observations to the dreaded synopsis … if you dare.

  1. The old rules do not apply. Everything you thought you knew about ‘real books versus e-books’ and ‘traditional publishing versus self-publishing’ – it is all up for grabs. Agents are dabbling in publishing. Indie authors are getting book contracts. Big name authors are going indie, and senior citizens are getting e-readers for Christmas. For some, it’s a cultural renaissance. For others, it’s a catastrophe. The next five years will be a wild ride for people who read, write and sell books, and I’m so glad I’m going to be part of it. How about you?
 Leave me a comment – I’d love to hear YOUR take on all this!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Another Gorgeous Cover

I have to blog this! Scandal at the Farmhouse disappeared from Amazon pages yesterday - following the demise of Embrace Books, UK. But it has been re-released today with a brand new cover - and it's AVAILABLE NOW!!!!  It looks like this:

SCANDAL is available in all e-formats on Smashwords - at the irresistable price of 99 cents. Soon it will also be available on Amazon and in print. Yes - in print! I will blog it up as soon as I know the release date for the print version.  Here are the details from the back cover:-

A seductive romantic adventure; A headstrong Victorian virgin plans to rid herself of all men, only to find that she’s fallen for a charming but completely unsuitable one. 
Nineteen-year-old Clara never meant to try to ensnare Ned, but she's fallen into a trap of her own making. The dangerous kiss that was meant to set her free now holds her tight. Should she try to escape? 

This SWEET, sweet story captivated me …. I probably should let you know that I read it on one sitting, why would I stop?? I challenge you!

‘Ms. Young does an outstanding job of telling the story of young Clara's complex life - in a time where women are seen as property that can be bartered over like livestock.’

‘Cody is an excellent writer .... Her lovers, Clara and Ned, are delightful.’

'this novella is fast paced and great for an evening treat.’

'Great characters and a fast paced plot – if you’re into those things, you should really get your hands on this book!’
I love Cody Young's writing style! This historical romance is one you will not forget! 
(Goodreads review by Tiffany)   
I'm also delighted to say that American Smile is now available through Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Diesel and has been submitted to Scrollmotion, Sony, Apple, etc for approval. It's been getting some great reviews too - but I can always use more, so if you've read it - please put a review on Amazon or Goodreads or Shelfari. Or be the first to post one directly to the Smashwords website - that would be great!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hot New Cover!

My new series starts in OCTOBER!
The first book of the trilogy will be called Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne - and here's what it says on the back cover:-

I’m seventeen and he’s twenty-one.
That’s okay … isn’t it?

He drives a Lamborghini.
So what?

He was born in 1462.

He seeks revenge, but there is one person standing in his way.

On a high school trip to London, Madison Lambourne meets seductive stranger Johnny De Vere, who believes he knows her already, and is torn between love and revenge.
Eager to learn more about this beautiful, lonely, young man, Madison agrees to go with him to a re-enactment at the Tower of London. Dressed as a highborn medieval lady in a black velvet gown, she accidentally slips through a doorway that leads to the past. Knowing she will not last long on the streets of medieval London, Johnny must follow her … with devastating consequences for them both.

A wild time-travel adventure full of love, lies, mystery and betrayal.

NB: If you have a review blog and you'd like to receive an advanced reader copy of this book to review - please contact me and I will be in touch!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dark Cloud - Silver Lining

Hi guys,
I've been under a dark cloud lately, because the imprint that publishes me has been in trouble. First we lost our editor Jane Holland, for reasons I won't go into, but I can tell you that she went above and beyond the call of duty for Embrace Books under very difficult circumstances. Then, about ten days later we got the bad news that the imprint will close - which I found hard to understand since just a couple of weeks earlier, the parent company published an article saying that Maggi Andersen's beautiful historical -  'The Reluctant Marquess' was one of their fastest selling books ever, and that all the other titles were selling steadily. I've just had another fantastic review too - sure to encourage more sales:

"I love Cody Young's writing style! This historical romance is one you will not forget! I like that it is a forbidden relationship with some complications. I liked how Clara would speak her mind, I found it to be very refreshing for that time period when it was not done. The story is straight forward no need for a dictionary with this story! This does contain a detailed description of the consummating the marriage. If you don't care for that you can just skim over it. I was so happy with this story! I would really love to read Olivia's story. I love it when I discover a new author and I will be looking for more from Cody Young!"   (Tiffany, GoodReads, July 27) 

So you can imagine how dismayed I was to find that the books will no longer be available through Embrace Books. But this is not all bad news! All the authors get their 'rights' back - which is GREAT NEWS. It means that our books can be re-released ASAP - and we can have more control over the cover, the price, and the marketing. Scandal at the Farmhouse will come out very soon with a brand new cover - at the irresistable price of 99 cents. It will also be available for the first time in print - good news for people who still love the feel of a 'real' book! I will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, check out Ranae Rose's new cover for 'Taken Hostage' and Judy Jarvie's new cover for 'Nanny Behaving Badly'.   In my next blog post - I'll reveal my new cover for my upcoming YA trilogy - starting with a wild time travel adventure. More to come! My other book, American Smile is still on sale - and selling more copies every week. The latest review is a four-star one, up on GoodReads here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A charming page-turner!

Oh - an author loves to get compliments like these. This is what one of my wonderful reviewers wrote about American Smile - for more information go to Love Thy Author or Goodreads. Just goes to show you  CAN win fans with a virgin hero.

'A charming page-turner! This is a beautifully written novel about two romances, one in modern times in England, and one during the Second World War. Right from the start, I was charmed by the characters. It's a romantic story with real depth and leaves you feeling happy and sad all at once, like a good book should!'
Here's another lovely one from Book Club Forum!
' ...two stories weaves together to create a beautifully tangled web of mystery and searching.
The characters are absolutely wonderful and I especially loved Tyler, the American aircraft mechanic – to be truthful, I found myself falling rather in love with him myself. It’s rare that a romantic hero is so sweet, gentlemanly and, well, inexperienced, but it works to the advantage of the story and sets a contrast to the WWII relationship that is both fun and endearing ...' Book Club Forum Book Reviews.
You can check out the full text of that review here. 

American Smile is now available in print, on kindle and on Smashwords. All e-formats are priced at 99 cents.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Courage Under Fire

A year ago today, our house caught fire during the night while we were all asleep. We are an extended family, so it was Grandma who sounded the alarm at around 5am. She thought she heard an intruder and called us on her cell phone from the other end of the house. What she actually heard was pictures crashing off the walls and cans exploding in a room that had reached eight hundred degrees.
My husband soon realized that we couldn't reach her because of the heat and the thick black smoke that filled the main part of our house. We phoned for help and ran to get the children out, which was hard because we knew that Grandma was trapped, and couldn't walk. Within minutes, four firetrucks arrived, and began fighting the blaze. A red ball of fire - a flash over - belched out of our kitchen just after the firefighters went in.
They say suffering is good for writers - but this experience I could have done without! After the blaze was out, we came back to scenes like these:

There was structural damage to the roof and the whole of the back of the house had to be rebuilt, but overall we were incredibly lucky. All five of us escaped - including Grandma. The firemen ripped off her bedroom window and got her out with only minutes to spare. She had put a pillow down in front of her bedroom door to stop some of the smoke from getting in underneath - and this undoubtedly helped to save her life. As did the firefighters who lifted her to safety. She's a tough old lady who was a little girl in the London Blitz, and I'm so glad she made that call about the 'intruder' at five am!
The whole experience was a bit of a close call, as you can see. It has left us with a lot less furniture, a blackened wedding album, and a fanatical interest in smoke alarms (the batteries were out in ours). But it's true when they say that any experience that doesn't kill you can make you stronger. I can honestly say that while I was watching my house burn, my work-in-progress was the last thing on my mind, but I'm sure that one day this event while find its way into my books in various shapes and disguises. Looking back all that matters is that we got everyone out, and lived to tell the tale.
Now go check your smoke alarms!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Excerpt from American Smile

 April 1944
Joe thought she looked just like a porcelain doll.
A long time ago in a second-hand shop in town, he’d seen one in the window. She was so pretty, he had to go in and ask if he could have a closer look. Maybe he could get her for his little sister. They said the doll was French, and had once been very expensive. Her face was made of porcelain, pale and delicate, with a hint of pink on her cheeks and an irresistible little pink mouth. She had blue eyes that closed when you tipped the doll up and laid her on her back, and curled dark lashes. He wished he could have got her for his sister, but she was still too expensive, even second or third hand.
This girl behind the counter had that look about her. She had fluffy blond hair, which she had set into pin curls around her face. It had gotten a little disheveled now, in the heat of the steaming cookhouse. China blue eyes; lashes darkened with mascara and curled, just like the antique doll.
She lowered those lashes when she saw him looking at her. He was going to look away, pretend he hadn’t been staring, but he didn’t. Why should he? He smiled, and she smiled right back. He knew her name too, he heard another guy say ‘Hiya, Vera’.
There was a group of soldiers on the next table, and they had seen her too. Joe heard them plotting and planning. One of them nodded his head at the girls behind the counter.
‘Did you try asking her, the little cockney sparrow?’ one of the soldiers said. He pointed at Vera with his thumb. She was standing by an enormous tea urn talking to her co-worker—a tall pale young woman with her brown hair tied back with a ribbon.
‘You mean the blonde? She told me to get lost,’ the second one said.
‘What about the other one, with the nice…’ The soldier’s hands delineated the nice part.
‘No luck there, she’s a lady,’ said the third.
 The first soldier leaned forward in a conspiratorial fashion and spoke low to his three friends.
‘Those two—they finish here about nine o’clock. They always walk home along Lighthouse Lane. They lodge in one of those cottages beyond, right on the headland.’
‘What are you saying, Orville?’
 ‘There are trees along that lane, and it’s quite secluded. We could be there to meet ’em.’
‘You mean to jump them?’
On the next table, Joe didn’t like the sound of that. He stirred his cocoa and looked in the opposite direction, hoping the men wouldn’t see that he was listening. It was hard to hear the words—he dare not look at their faces—but his concentration was intense.
‘Why not? There are four of us, and two of them. It’d be easy.’
‘I don’t think so, Orville, you can get into big trouble doing something like that.’
‘That one over there, the snooty one, she won’t give me the time of day. She said she only talks to officers.’ In an action that did not match his words, the soldier gave the girl a wave and touched a finger to his cap. She gave a tiny have-to-be-civil smile. ‘The way I look at it they owe us, don’t they? We’re fighting their war for ’em.’
‘It’s our war now.’
‘Look, guys, you do what you like, but I’m not having anything to do with it. I can get me a girl the usual way. I just talk ’em round, you know. No need to do anything stupid.’
‘Oh, yeah? And when did you last get a girl, Tony? In Chicago?’
‘Orville’s right. They’ll send us over soon, I know they will. We could all be dead.’
‘That’s no way to talk.’
‘Who’s in front, that’s what I’m asking. My Dad always said you gotta look around and see who’s in front, who’s gonna take the flack. Here we are, right on the coast, looking out across the sea. There’s nothing and no one between us and the enemy, is there? There isn’t anyone in front to take the bullets. We are the front. We go over, we’ll take the bullets. I’m not facing that without a little something to make me feel better.’ He drained his cocoa as if it was a double whiskey and they got up to leave. ‘I say we jump those girls. Tonight.’
Joe looked at the girl with the china doll face. She was refilling the urn with water. He wondered what her pretty face would look like in the morning. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day in the Life of a Writer

When I’m on a roll with my writing, my day goes something like this:
Wake up, reach for my laptop
Realize that this is not romantic.
Put laptop down, reach for husband instead.
Need caffeine, stagger out to the kitchen
Don’t notice breakfast – busy reading emails.
There’s one from my beta reader – scary!
She says there’s not enough sexual tension in my opening chapters.
I dismiss this and decide she doesn’t ‘get’ my story.
I check my Amazon rankings and adjust my mood accordingly.
Then I check twitter, youtube, facebook and blog to see if anyone likes me.
While I’m in the shower, I realise there isn’t enough sexual tension in chapter one.
I spend the morning putting dishes in the dishwasher and tension in my writing.
Then I write to my beta reader to thank her for saving me from embarrassment.
I consider buying ‘Scrivener’, but I am wedded to the time-honoured technique of writing my outlines on the back of old envelopes.
I write as many words as I can before I am interrupted by loud growling noises.
Hunger. Lunch is that great writer’s staple – the cheese sandwich.
After lunch I’m writing so fast my fingers are flying, I only stop for dire emergencies like the premature ejection of the Disney DVD that the twins are watching.
Round about 4pm I realise that I haven’t done any housework and the laundry pile is blocking the sun.
I fling on a load of washing and return to my writing.
I discover that much of what I wrote earlier needs deleting.
Husband arrives home and wants to know if there is any dinner.
I tell him that we had a busy day, plagued by problems with the DVD player.
We open the wine and start defrosting the dinner.
After dinner I try to resist the temptation to write anymore – guided by my belief that if I don’t find time to interact with real people I won’t have anything to write about.
Later, on the pretext of ‘checking for an important email’, I reach for my laptop again…

Did any of that sound familiar? You are not alone! If it didn't - I envy you - you lucky thing! And if you've got any tips for how to make writing and family life fit seamlessly together I would love to hear them ...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Love conquers all

Why do I read romantic fiction? 

The critics of the genre dismiss it as predictable, formulaic, addictive, unrealistic, pornographic, bad for your mind, bad for your soul, bad for your body image, bad for your relationships, or just plain BAD. If recent articles are to be believed, romance novels are giving us entirely the wrong idea about most things, but especially about pectoral definition and what can reasonably be expected from a man with a twinkle in his eye and a well-sprung mattress.

I hereby announce that I fully intend to keep reading romantic fiction, teen fiction, historical romance, paranormal romance … the list goes on. Will it damage my mind and ruin my marriage? Come on! It’s commercial fiction, for heaven’s sake, not a hallucinogenic drug. I’m curled up with a good book, keeping the bed warm for my husband, that’s all. I’m reliving the moment when I fell in love with him – not searching for something or someone that doesn’t exist. Who are these sad people who imagine that good times, handsome guys and great sex are ONLY found in romance novels, anyway?  They obviously lead very sheltered lives. I shall ignore them. I shall flout the danger and read on, despite the risk of becoming a wildly optimistic person who hopes, nay, EXPECTS to find love, happiness, and fulfillment in life!

Today – I want to address the complaint that ‘all romances are the same’. Here is a (very) random selection of books from my keeper shelf, and yes, in every case, LOVE CONQUERS ALL. But that isn’t the point. It’s WHAT love must conquer, and WHY.  Here are just a few of my favourites: heroes so troubled and tortured that they almost seem beyond love, and heroines with more (emotional) baggage than Rose DeWitt Bukater when she gets on board the Titanic. But don’t worry. Love conquers all.

In Captive of Sin (Anna Campbell) the hero has been hideously tortured. It hasn’t affected his face or other crucial-to-the-plot parts of his anatomy, but he is ‘ruined’ emotionally and scarred just about everywhere else.  This book has the sweetest description of BAD HONEYMOON SEX that I have ever read – and the story of how the couple overcome Gideon’s difficulties is enchanting.

In The Marriage Bed (Judith Arnold) the hero weds a girl who is already pregnant by someone else – thinking that he’ll get shot to pieces in Vietnam and she’ll get the widow’s pension. I was drawn into this book by the true-to-life struggle to get him back into bed when he comes home; a shattered veteran of a horrible war. Crucial to his recovery is his love for ‘his’ daughter – but circumstances threaten to take her away, and the trouble begins. 

In Love You to Death, author Meg Cabot gives us a supercilious heroine who can see dead people, and shows that no guy (who dumps you) is worth dying for. But what do you do if the guy you fall for is just a ghost? Teen angst and great dialogue. You just have to suspend your disbelief ...

In Evermore, Alyson Noel gives us a heroine changed forever by the loss of her family, and a hero whose grip on immortality is both a blessing and a curse. I liked the flashbacks into their past encounters, and I am seriously envious of Damen's bookshelf!

In Second Chance Family (Karina Bliss) the hero and heroine have split up, blaming themselves and each other for the death of their baby. They’ve moved on, met and married other people, and made as big a botch out of their new relationships as they did with each other. The odds are stacked against this couple, but fate pulls them together again.

In the classic novel Outlander (Diana Gabaldon), the hero and heroine cross several barriers, he’s younger, she’s older, he’s Scots, she’s English, he’s from a brutal, male-dominated past, she’s a forward-thinking modern woman. He's single, she's married. He's a virgin, she's not. Fireworks are guaranteed.

And last but not least, I want to draw your attention to a little Indie book that captured my heart. Replaced by a Stranger (KC Stone) deals with a young woman looking for love outside her marriage. The books reads like a powerful TV drama, and tells the story of a foolish mistake that rips a young family apart. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that one man emerges as a true hero from a heart-rending love triangle. 

I'd love to hear about some of your 'keeper' books - and what you like best about them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What the reviewers are saying ...

I’m so thrilled with the reviews I’ve been getting for SCANDAL AT THE FARMHOUSE that I decided to indulge myself and give you some of the best bits. To read the full text – just click on the links.

This SWEET, sweet story captivated me …. I probably should let you know that I read it on one sitting, why would I stop?? I challenge you!

‘Ms. Young does an outstanding job of telling the story of young Clara's complex life - in a time where women are seen as property that can be bartered over like livestock.’

‘Cody is an excellent writer. Not once did she remove me from the story with non-period language or convoluted sentence structure. Her tempo is well paced for a novella, something I admired immediately. Her understanding of Regency Romance is excellent. Her lovers, Clara and Ned, are delightful and the story is lively.’

'this novella is fast paced and great for an evening treat.’

'This is a super fast read - I started and finished it last night as “before I fall asleep” reading, it was just that quick.  The characters are oddly adorable (I know, it’s a crazy descriptor, but they are!!!!), and it was really easy to identify with Clara – who would want to be married to a stodgy old man and be immediately ripped away from the only family and life she’s ever known?  I mean really, come on now.  This is a wonderful romance story, and definitely not trashy reading.  Great characters and a fast paced plot – if you’re into those things, you should really get your hands on this book!’

Of course – not everyone loved it. One reviewer couldn’t get into it, hated the heroine, and described it as ‘a tale of lust’. This surprised me, because although Scandal at the Farmhouse has a pretty steamy sex scene, it is deeply romantic. But I’ve come to realise that to be a published writer you need to develop an objective attitude and a hide like a rhino, and just to show you that I’m not afraid of a less than glowing review, here’s the link. It goes to show that you have just seconds to grab the readers attention with your opening lines – so thanks to that reviewer I am studying that aspect of the writer’s craft harder than ever. Blog post on that coming soon!
Watch out too for my 'LOVE CONQUERS ALL' post that I'm working on right now.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June 6 - Anniversary of the Normandy Landings

D Day has special significance for me. It is the reason and the inspiration behind the first 'real' novel I ever wrote: American Smile. I wrote it in three months, writing flat out six or seven hours a day and editing what I had written at night. I loved that book - it is still the book of my heart. It's the story of a girl searching for the truth about her ancestry - with the help of an American aircraft mechanic who already knows (at least part of) the answer.
      Emma Rowland finds out her mother was adopted during world war two - which puts a different spin on her 'English' heritage. She realizes that everything she thought she knew about herself was wrong. She sets out to find out who her grandparents really were. She meets shy but sexy Tyler at a dance and he agrees to help her find out what happened and why it has all been hidden for so long. The trail leads to a sharp-tongued girl from the East End of London and a handsome young soldier known only as 'Joe'.
     As they uncover what happened to Joe and Vera more than sixty-five years ago, Emma and Tyler find that they too are are falling in love. Without giving too much away - Tyler is hiding two things: the secret he already knows about Emma's family tree, and the fact that he knows a lot more about airplanes than he does about women!

      I decided to call the book 'American Smile' because of a chance remark that was made to me once at a party (which inspired the incident in the opening chapter, yes). A guy told me I had an American smile, and I didn't have the first idea what he meant, since I was born in England. Since then, I discovered that my own grandfather was involved in the D-Day landings and never returned. I can't tell you his name, but I think of him as 'Joe'. If, like Emma, I ever get the chance to go to Normandy and visit the graves of the fallen - I shall lay my flowers on the grave of the unknown soldiers. 
     I wrote American Smile for the anniversary of D-Day, and I've just made it available on kindle for 99c. There's a print version that you can buy on Amazon, too. The story is fictional, but it is based on a whole lot of historical research and inspired by a true story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

How I Got Published

Like a lot of people out there, I always meant to write a book. Or several. A best-selling trilogy, perhaps, followed by an epic family saga in many volumes. Before long, I realized that books don’t just happen, you have to sit down and write them. I tried. I kept some of my early writing under the bed. I wrote it on bits of old notepaper and scuffed pads of A4. I dreaded the thought of anyone finding it, or, heaven forbid, reading it. 
Eventually, though, I realized I wasn’t writing for myself anymore. I wasn’t sure what type of readers might like to read my stuff (in fact I wasn’t sure what sort of ‘stuff’ I wrote), but I knew I wanted readers. I needed readers. And since my characters always fell in love, I decided I must be writing romance. As the mist began to clear, I started looking for a publisher. This is the short version of how I found one:

Wanted to write a book
Wrote a non-fiction book
On the third submission, I got picked up by a university press – hurray!
University press got ‘restructured’ - didn’t want my book anymore.
Finished a novel for a competition.
Got bad scores.
Wrote another novel.
Self-published it, against all the advice. 
Was told I might as well have flushed it down the toilet. (NB The person who said that has recently seen the chain of bookstores he worked for go into receivership.)
Started another novel.
Pitched the novel to an agent, and she liked it – hurray!
A year later. The agent is still thinking about it.
Got a cheque for twenty-six dollars in royalties.
Decided there had to be a better way to use my talent.
(Yes, I still believed I had some).
Started submitting to slush piles.
Started to get some ‘encouraging’ rejections. Who wants those?
Felt increasingly impatient about the long wait times with big publishing houses.
House burnt down (mine, not the publishing house – though I was tempted).
Moved to a rental property while my house was being rebuilt.
Wrote a lot, to take my mind off it.
Submitted a novella to Embrace Books, UK.
Got a letter saying it was probably too short.
Submitted an opening chapter to ‘So You Think You Can Write’ run by Harlequin.
They liked it and asked for more.
Wrote like the wind for six weeks.
Six months later, they are still thinking about it.
In the meantime ...
I was accepted by Embrace Books and signed a contract – hurray!
Jane Holland at Embrace Books became ‘my editor’. I still love that phrase.
Did revisions on the novella to make it longer (and better).
‘Scandal at the Farmhouse’ became one of the launch titles for Embrace.
Started writing another book …

UPDATE added October 3rd 2011:
As many of you know, since writing this, I've gone indie. I resisted the idea for a while - because I loved 'being published' and having the support of a good editor. I began to consider the idea seriously when I found that my self-pubbed e-book was selling three times as well as my published title. That 99 cent price tag really helps a new writer to find a readership - people are a lot more willing to try out an unknown author when the price is right.

Then, the decision point came when disaster struck and Salt Publishing decided to close its romance imprint - Embrace Books - after just six months. I'm happy to report that many Embrace authors are now with other publishers and/or selling like hot cakes on their own. I went indie. My novella The Lady and the Locksmith has had over four thousand downloads. Sales of my other books continue to rise and rise - and I have only been doing this for four months. Can't wait to see what happens with my YA series.

If you are contemplating going indie and want to talk to me, don't hesitate to get in touch. It is a hugely exciting time for authors!