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Barbara Copperthwaite

PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS TO GIVE YOU SHIVERS

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December 2015

2015: What a year!

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With the end of a year comes the inevitable urge to look back over what has happened, and look forward to what may be to come.

This time last year what was I doing? Well, I was giving myself a kick up the bum, telling myself that I really must knuckle down in January and get on with my new book. I was worried, though, that I wouldn’t be able to do such a good job as I had with Invisible, which had sold so much better than I had ever dared imagine. How could I possibly repeat that success? And was I really capable of writing another book – what if my first book was the pinnacle of what I was capable of?

Still, I told myself to put the fear aside and get on with it. The result was Flowers For The Dead. Most of the year was devoted to honing it, fretting about it, losing myself in it. When it finally went on sale in September all I could do was wait to see what people made of it, and hope for the best…

Just prior to that, at the end of August I nervously started contacting book bloggers. Having never entered this world before, I honestly didn’t know what sort of reception to expect. But, thanks to joining Facebook’s Book Connectors, run by Anne Cater, I have been welcomed by the blogging community with open arms. What a friendly, hard-working, honest, professional bunch they are. I’m truly grateful to them for everything they have said about Flowers For The Dead, and for their tireless posts and tweets and retweets about not just myself but innumerable authors.

In fact, the reception that everyone has given Flowers For The Dead has been overwhelming. The Sunday Mirror was the first to review it, picking my novel over Lee Child’s latest offering, to make it their Choice Read of the Week. What they wrote about it was glowing.

“A chillingly drawn serial killer…will have you looking over your shoulder and under your bed…original, gripping, and writing with a deep psychological impact…” the reviewer wrote. Wow!

The very next day, Flowers For The Dead went on general publication – and instantly hit Number 20 on all three Amazon lists it appeared on: Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction, and Crime, Thriller & Mystery Series. It was also Number 3 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases chart.

It was thrilling enough that my new book had became a chart topper on its very first day of release, but then something else incredible happened… Invisible re-entered the charts too!

As the weeks passed, Flowers For The Dead went from strength to strength. It didn’t leave the bestsellers chart, and more reviews started coming in. Readers loved it!

Support grew on my Facebook page, too, and I’d just like to take a moment to say how fabulous my followers are on there. They are so enthusiastic, passionate and supportive – I love them! So when December hit, I wanted to do something extra special for them there, as well as here and on Twitter. I ran a competition to win a character named after them in my next book. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anyone would enter – oh my goodness, did they! Everyone was so dedicated, and we all had a lot of fun. The winners are: Jill Young, Ursula Clarke, and Alison Daughtry-Drew.

As the year came to a close, I felt like 2015 really couldn’t get any better. I was wrong. Those lovely book bloggers, who had read my novel and written such gorgeous things about it that they’d made me burst into tears, started publishing their Best Books of 2015 lists…and Flowers For The Dead featured on many. Woo-hoo!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to Beady Jan’s Books, Being Anne, Portobello Books, Postcard Reviews, and The Haphazardous Hippo for making my book one of YOUR books of the year. It’s a massive honour. Thank you also, to every single blogger who has taken the time and effort to review, host a Q&A with me, or share teaser lines of my books, etc. Every single thing you do is so appreciated.

Amazon then chose Flowers For The Dead as one of their 12 Books of Christmas. The result? It whizzed up Amazon’s Kindle Chart, hitting number 24 – my book, the 24th most popular Kindle book on the entire Amazon UK site?! It didn’t seem possible! And yet there it was, in black and white. What’s more, it sat at Number 3 on the bestsellers’ list for Murder, and Number 4 for both the Psychological Fiction, and Crime, Thrillers & Mystery Series charts. Amazing!

The year couldn’t have ended on a bigger high for me. I’m a little dazzled by the whole thing, like someone who has looked at the sun for too long. It’s not just that my novel’s success has exceeded all my hopes, it’s that I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way. From reviewers to readers, the support I’ve received is incredible and helps to push me on.

So what about my hopes and dreams for 2016? Well, I’m giving myself a kick up the bum, telling myself that I really must knuckle down in January and get on with my new book. I’m worried, though, that I won’t be able to do such a good job as I had with Invisible and Flowers For The Dead. Sound familiar…?

Whatever 2016 holds, I can’t wait to find out. And may each and every one of us enjoy a happy and prosperous new year. Have a good one, everyone!

 

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I was seeing things, right?

Instant bestseller Flowers For The Dead, by Barbara Copperthwaite
Flowers for the Dead was an instant chart topper

Eating too much cake, chocolate, and all manner of rich food, and frankly, having a glass or two of alcohol for several days running, was clearly starting to take its toll by 28 December. I woke up, feeling a little groggy after another night sleeping on an air mattress whilst visiting my mum, and checked my Kindle sales.

Err, well, that couldn’t be right, it was only 8.30am, but it was already registering over 700 sales for the day. I refreshed the page. It said the same.

Huh, must be a glitch.

So I went to the main Amazon site and checked my sales ranking. Oh. My. Goodness. Flowers For The Dead was Number 1 in Amazon’s Movers & Shakers chart!

I rubbed my eyes. That’s not a poor, unimaginative piece of writing, it’s what I literally did. My book was at Number 3 on the bestsellers’ list for Murder, and Number 4 for both the Psychological Fiction, and Crime, Thrillers & Mystery Series charts. Amazing!

What’s more, I realised I’d achieved one of my ambitions in life – I had entered Amazon’s Top 100 Kindle Bestsellers. Not only that, I was at Number 24!

It took a moment to sink in. Amazon sells over 2 million Kindle books. Out of all of those books, mine was the 24th most popular – 24th out of 2 million plus books. Blimey…

Why had this happened? Because Amazon had chosen Flowers For The Dead as one of their 12 Books of Christmas. Now that is a pretty fabulous Christmas present for me!

Flowers For The Dead does it again!

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I’m so, so pleased to discover that Flowers For The Dead has made it onto yet another round up of the best books of 2015. The fabulously-named book review site The Haphazardous Hippo has trawled through some truly incredible books to create a Top Ten of favourite reads.

The site only reviewed my book just before Christmas, but it has clearly made a huge impression with Neats, who runs the site.

“There are so many reasons why I loved this book I’m not sure where to start,” she begins her review.

“The story is beautifully written and the way that both characters backgrounds are slowly revealed is so effortlessly done you’re not distracted from the main story at all, it helps you to understand them and adds depth.”

To read the review in full, click here.

To read the full round up of The Haphazardous Hippo’s favourite books of the year, click here.

 

2015 top ten

Some stellar books featured on Postcard Reviews – and I’m very proud to write that Flowers For The Dead is among them. It’s a huge honour.

Postcard Reviews

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2015 was a fabulous year for reading and reviewing and those above were some of favs.

I loved the debut novels such as Steve Cavanaghs The Defence which was the first ever book I reviewed and Angela Marsons is by far the best writer of thrilling crime. She deserves every ounce of success and some.

The book that moved me was The Death House by Sarah Pinborough such a beautiful and tragic tale and one where the ending took me totally by surprise.

The author I particularly became ‘friends’ with was Paula Daly. I read a couple of her books in quick succession and loved them. She can’t write quick enough for me and I look forward to her books for 2016.

I loved books from Bookouture and Kim Nash is more than generous with her Netgalley approvals. Transworld and Orion are also publishers of some of the best books…

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Book of the Year!

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Bestselling psychological crime thriller Flowers For The Dead

Well, 2015 keeps getting better and better! I’m so pleased and very proud to say that a third book blogger has chosen to feature Flowers For The Dead in their round up of best books of the year. How amazing is that?! Considering I’ve only been reviewed by six blogs so far, that means an massive 50% of them have included the book in their ‘books of 2015’. Now THAT’S a hit rate to be proud of!

This time it was the wonderful Portobello Book Blog that published their post. There are some really great books on there, so it’s definitely another ‘pinch me’ moment to find myself among such great company. I know it can sound a bit fake to keep saying I’m overwhelmed by the response to my book…but that honestly sums up how I feel. It’s just incredible. After Invisible I wasn’t sure if I could produce another book, and worried that if I did, it wouldn’t be as good. But Flowers For The Dead has been so universally praised that I feel as if I am in a dream – and I definitely don’t want to wake up!

To read Portobello Book Blog’s round up of the year, click here

Day 14: Read & WIN! Last chance!

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I love my little writing bureau
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Sometimes that closed desk hides all manner of chaos…

Today is the last day of my competition for you to win a character named after YOU in my next book. As this prize is all about my novel, I thought I’d give you a quick look around my desk.

It’s actually a writing bureau, which I got from a second hand shop, and I think dates from the 1950s. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it, as it’s just so sweet, and tucks rather neatly into the corner of the spare bedroom. I really love things from yesteryear, so this suits me down to the ground.

If you look closely, you’ll spot a little honey-coloured pot sitting on top of the bureau, which is decorated with bees. That’s where I keep my secret stash of sweets or chocolates – sometimes inspiration needs a cheeky sugar boost!

Hanging from the shelf above is another bee-related item, this time a love heart with ‘Queen Bee’ emblazoned across it, and an embroidered honey bee. Why the bee theme? Well, it’s because when my niece was very little, she overheard her mum talking about me, and my sister has always called me ‘B’.

‘Who’s that?’ the little girl asked.

‘I’m talking about your Aunty Barbara. I call her B,’ her mother replied.

‘Buzzy Bee?’ she queried.

From that moment on, I’ve been called Aunty Buzzy Bee by my now all-grown-up niece. It’s a lovely little nickname, and strangely appropriate as I love nature. In fact, you can see that to the left of my desk is a fabulous painting of a dragonfly, which was done for me by my partner. Beside it are lots of books on nature and insects (I have far more downstairs on my bookcases) which I refer to when writing features about wildlife. And the eagle-eyed among you will probably have spotted another dragonfly picture to the right of my desk. Yep, I love dragonflies! Being surrounded by little glimpses of nature helps inspire me sometimes (far more than the chocolates, if I’m honest).

Unlike Ernest Hemingway, I don’t booze whilst writing (perhaps that is where I am going wrong, but if I did I’d have a nose that was redder than Rudolph’s by now). Instead, I’ve usually got a pot of lemon tea on my desk. Paul is really, really good at keeping a steady supply, so I’m very lucky.

One of the many things I love about my bureau is that it makes it easy to stay neat. Everything has its place in the little cubby holes arrayed across the desk. But inevitably, as I write I create a mess, with Post-It note plot reminders strewn here and there, and lists of things I must remember to include at some point. It can look dauntingly chaotic, but when I finish writing for the night, I can close up my little bureau and forget about things util the next day, because they are all tucked away, neat and tidy. It’s a pretty cool writing desk, eh?

  • Can YOU spot today’s Christmas-related reference in this blog? If you can, email it to invisibleauthor@outlook.com to enter my competition – and YOU could have a character named after you in my next novel!

MORE WAYS TO WIN! Three lucky people will have characters named after them in my next novel. They might be a baddie, or a nosy neighbour, they might even be bumped off, who can say, but they could have YOUR name.

To be in with a chance of winning this unique prize, all you have to do is take part in my Christmas countdown search. Every day for a fortnight I’ll be hiding a Christmas-related reference in a post on this blog, or somewhere over on my website www.barbaracopperthwaite.com All you have to do to enter is email me that days’s reference (e.g., I might randomly mention seeing ‘three wise men’) at invisibleauthor@outlook.com

You can enter as many times as you like. The more days you take part, the more entries you’ll accrue – so the greater your chance of winning!

I’m also running similar competitions across Twitter (you can follow me @BCopperthwait) and my Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/Author BarbaraCopperthwaite) and you’re free to enter those as many times as you like, too.

Over on Facebook, every day for a fortnight I’ll be posting a fun, easy question based either on Christmas, me, or my books. Just ‘like’ the post and leave your (correct!) answer in the comments section, and you’ll be entered into the prize draw. 

Over at Twitter, you simply have to retweet me using the hashtag #FlowersForTheDead. Each retweet is an entry and, again, you can enter as often as you want.

Good luck to everyone! 

* The winner will be announced on Christmas Eve

Day 13: Read & WIN!

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An arrow tipped with mistletoe caused a lot of trouble…

Day 13 of the competition all ready, which means there is only today and tomorrow left. So you’d better hurry if you want to win the prize!

But, of course, many people consider 13 to be an unlucky number – and this belief goes way back.

Nordic myth has it that the problem started when 12 gods were having a dinner party at Valhalla. The 13th guest was Loki, the god of mischief, who arranged for the god of joy and gladness to be shot with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Sadly, no kissing was sparked by the mistletoe…instead, he died and the whole world was thrust into mourning.

There is also a biblical reference to 13 being considered unlucky. Judas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus who later betrayed him, was supposedly the 13th guest to sit down at the last supper.

The much-maligned number is also the amount of witches apparently needed to form a coven.

But I don’t believe any of that. I think you should all enter the competition, and prove yourselves lucky on this 13th competition day!

  • Can YOU spot today’s Christmas-related reference in this blog? If you can, email it to invisibleauthor@outlook.com to enter my competition – and YOU could have a character named after you in my next novel!

MORE WAYS TO WIN! Three lucky people will have characters named after them in my next novel. They might be a baddie, or a nosy neighbour, they might even be bumped off, who can say, but they could have YOUR name.

To be in with a chance of winning this unique prize, all you have to do is take part in my Christmas countdown search. Every day for a fortnight I’ll be hiding a Christmas-related reference in a post on this blog, or somewhere over on my website www.barbaracopperthwaite.com All you have to do to enter is email me that days’s reference (e.g., I might randomly mention seeing ‘three wise men’) at invisibleauthor@outlook.com

You can enter as many times as you like. The more days you take part, the more entries you’ll accrue – so the greater your chance of winning!

I’m also running similar competitions across Twitter (you can follow me @BCopperthwait) and my Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/Author BarbaraCopperthwaite) and you’re free to enter those as many times as you like, too.

Over on Facebook, every day for a fortnight I’ll be posting a fun, easy question based either on Christmas, me, or my books. Just ‘like’ the post and leave your (correct!) answer in the comments section, and you’ll be entered into the prize draw. 

Over at Twitter, you simply have to retweet me using the hashtag #FlowersForTheDead. Each retweet is an entry and, again, you can enter as often as you want.

Good luck to everyone! 

* The winner will be announced on Christmas Eve

Day 12: Read & WIN!

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Birmingham Freed Project’s logo symbolises women breaking free of the chains of domestic violence

The hall is dominated by a tree painted directly onto the wall. Instead of leaves, there are Post-It-sized notes covering its branches.

‘To wake up safe.’

‘I’m worth happiness.’

‘Peace for my children.’

They are wishes and affirmations made all the more powerful for their simplicity, because the women who come to the Birmingham Freedom Project are not safe in their homes. They find no comfort in the people who should cherish them and keep them safe. They have suffered domestic violence – but they are not victims.

I was invited to visit the Birmingham Freedom Project after I got chatting on Twitter to one of the incredible women who runs it.

“We want to meet inspirational women,” she explained.

I was both as pleased as if I’d found a diamond in a Christmas cracker, and humbled, too. They had got it wrong: I’m not the inspirational one, they are. Keen to do what little I could, though, I went along yesterday.

What struck me most was the laughter, positivity and camaraderie. They sat together round a table, chatting, swapping experiences, but also just talking about life in general. This is a place where they can step beyond their present day life, or their history, and be among people who understand them. There are some who still barely have the courage to speak, and have trouble meeting my eye, but others who talk openly and get everyone chuckling. Everyone is accepted and understood.

“We laugh a lot,” says the woman who runs it. “It makes them realise how ridiculous the men are who are controlling them. How unreasonable the men’s demands are. That the fault isn’t, as they are repeatedly told, theirs.”

Some are only at the start of their journey towards rediscovering themselves, while others are several years down the line. Whatever their story, the Birmingham Freedom Project offers support, practical courses to help them deal with their emotional damage, and plenty of smiles. There is no charge for any of the courses – and the project will even pay for a bus ticket to help women attend.

The logo was designed by one of the women. “It sums up how I feel about myself,” she says. It is certainly evocative of the emotional journey she and so many other women like her are taking: it is a strong iron chain, which once bound them and seemed unbreakable. But a link has split wide open, and flourishing within is a flower. Freedom takes root here and the women bloom.

The Freedom Project relies receives no government funding. To donate, or to find out more about it, please click here.

  • Can YOU spot today’s Christmas-related reference in this blog? If you can, email it to invisibleauthor@outlook.com to enter my competition – and YOU could have a character named after you in my next novel!

MORE WAYS TO WIN! Three lucky people will have characters named after them in my next novel. They might be a baddie, or a nosy neighbour, they might even be bumped off, who can say, but they could have YOUR name.

To be in with a chance of winning this unique prize, all you have to do is take part in my Christmas countdown search. Every day for a fortnight I’ll be hiding a Christmas-related reference in a post on this blog, or somewhere over on my website www.barbaracopperthwaite.com All you have to do to enter is email me that days’s reference (e.g., I might randomly mention seeing ‘three wise men’) at invisibleauthor@outlook.com

You can enter as many times as you like. The more days you take part, the more entries you’ll accrue – so the greater your chance of winning!

I’m also running similar competitions across Twitter (you can follow me @BCopperthwait) and my Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/Author BarbaraCopperthwaite) and you’re free to enter those as many times as you like, too.

Over on Facebook, every day for a fortnight I’ll be posting a fun, easy question based either on Christmas, me, or my books. Just ‘like’ the post and leave your (correct!) answer in the comments section, and you’ll be entered into the prize draw. 

Over at Twitter, you simply have to retweet me using the hashtag #FlowersForTheDead. Each retweet is an entry and, again, you can enter as often as you want.

Good luck to everyone! 

* The winner will be announced on Christmas Eve

Day 11: Read & WIN!

mistletoeThis post is inspired by a conversation I was having with a fellow author yesterday. Like me, she is a journalist, and is in the process of finishing her first draft. We were discussing how being a journalist can help/hinder a budding author, and I thought it interesting enough to share.

Being a journalist means I know what makes a good story. I know I need to hook readers in, keep up the pace and intrigue, and have an ending as memorable as a good kiss under the mistletoe. I enjoy researching in order to make the book realistic, and thinking lateral comes relatively easily to me.

Above all, I know I can write well – after all, I’ve been earning money doing this for the last twenty-odd years. So there is a level of confidence.

BUT…

Having spent all day writing features for newspapers and magazines, sometimes the last thing I want to do is write my book. Even though I am desperate to write my book!

I have confidence when it comes to creating articles, but novels are another matter. I’m a seething mass of insecurity, convinced what I’m doing is rubbish, illuminated by the briefest sparks of “ooh, that’s not bad!” It’s those sparks that push me on.

As an experienced journalist, I was used to producing a finished piece of work that didn’t need much polishing, just a quick check over, a couple of changes, and send it off, safe in the knowledge it was spot on. Creating the first draft of my first novel, Invisible, was particular agony because I was aware of what a  mess it was, and how much work there would be to get it into any kind of shape. I had visions of ‘proper’ authors being able to write near-perfect novels, first time, just like writing a feature.

And everything took so long! I was used to quick turnarounds, tight deadlines, getting something done then moving on immediately. Not so with being an author. It’s a long, hard slog or writing, re-writing, editing, re-editing…

It took me a while to accept that novel writing, though utilising many of the same talents, is a very different skill to being a journalist. I think that’s why, even after Invisible came out and became a Top Ten Amazon UK murder bestseller, I continued to call myself a journalist when people asked what I did.

Then came Flowers For The Dead. That was almost as hard, but at least this time I was prepared for the tough marathon ahead. And somewhere along the line, an imperceptible change must have occurred in my psyche, because the other day someone asked me what I did.

“I’m a writer,’ I replied without hesitation.

Being a journalist has helped me get this far on my journey. But now I feel as if I have finally started to become a novelist.

 

  • Can YOU spot today’s Christmas-related reference in this blog? If you can, email it to invisibleauthor@outlook.com to enter my competition – and YOU could have a character named after you in my next novel!

MORE WAYS TO WIN! Three lucky people will have characters named after them in my next novel. They might be a baddie, or a nosy neighbour, they might even be bumped off, who can say, but they could have YOUR name.

To be in with a chance of winning this unique prize, all you have to do is take part in my Christmas countdown search. Every day for a fortnight I’ll be hiding a Christmas-related reference in a post on this blog, or somewhere over on my website www.barbaracopperthwaite.com All you have to do to enter is email me that days’s reference (e.g., I might randomly mention seeing ‘three wise men’) at invisibleauthor@outlook.com

You can enter as many times as you like. The more days you take part, the more entries you’ll accrue – so the greater your chance of winning!

I’m also running similar competitions across Twitter (you can follow me @BCopperthwait) and my Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/Author BarbaraCopperthwaite) and you’re free to enter those as many times as you like, too.

Over on Facebook, every day for a fortnight I’ll be posting a fun, easy question based either on Christmas, me, or my books. Just ‘like’ the post and leave your (correct!) answer in the comments section, and you’ll be entered into the prize draw. 

Over at Twitter, you simply have to retweet me using the hashtag #FlowersForTheDead. Each retweet is an entry and, again, you can enter as often as you want.

Good luck to everyone! 

* The winner will be announced on Christmas Eve

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