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Barbara Copperthwaite

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December 2016

My Top Reads of 2016 #bookblogger #amreading #amreviewing

Top 20 BEST READS OF 2016 via @ChellesBookRevi

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“Without a doubt fan-flipping-tastic”

Wow! What a perfect way to end the year – INVISIBLE has been chosen as one of the best reads of 2016 by brilliant blog Chelle’s Book Reviews. It’s in some truly great company, from Robert Brynzda’s Girl In The Ice to Tom Bale’s See How They Run, so to say I’m absolutely chuffed to bits is a bit of an understatement!

“Without a doubt fan-flipping-tastic,” the review reads. Hurray!

To read the full Top 20 Best Reads of 2016 (and I definitely recommend you do) just click here.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! A look back on my 2016! #2017 #amwriting

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Keep believing, don’t give up! Here’s to a wonderful 2017 for you all xxx

2016…what an amazing rollercoaster of a year it’s been. There have been some screaming lows, some hair-raising highs, and a few crazy corkscrew turns where I’ve not been sure if I’m up, down, or shaken all around!

At the start of 2016, I was riding high on the success of Flowers For The Dead. What a rush to make it to the Top 20 Kindle bestsellers in the whole of Amazon! But I needed to get on with writing my next book. I threw myself into it eagerly, convinced it would be a quick turnaround because I knew exactly what the story was and how it would end.

Somehow, despite that, I struggled hugely with the manuscript.

I was plagued by ill health for the first few months of the year; nothing major, just niggling stomach bugs, coughs, colds, repeated bouts of shingles, even mouth ulcers. Still, it was constant and debilitating. There wasn’t a single day when I was at full-strength. Feeling so run down impacted on my confidence in my writing, despite the success of my previous two self-published novels, and at one point I almost gave up. I convinced myself the book was no good – and I was no good either. I even wrote a post about it, despairing that I would ever get through it, but knowing that somehow I had to keep on writing because what else can a writer do but…write?

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The reaction that post got from fellow writers and bloggers was overwhelming. And the fabulous Sarah Ward, author of the wonderful In Bitter Chill and A Deadly Thaw,  spotted it and contacted me, generously offering to read over what I had done so far. I felt sick with nerves emailing those 20,000 words to her, knowing that what I had written was awful.

Her reaction? She thought I was on the right track and should keep going!

That boost of confidence kicked me from my place at rock bottom, and I’m so grateful for her kindness. I kept on writing, refusing to listen to the niggling voice telling me I was no good. Finally, I finished the manuscript. It had been the hardest of the three books written so far.

Four fabulous beta readers – Anne Williams, Shell Baker, Neats Wilson, and Joanne Robertson – all gave me a huge thumbs up to it, telling me it was my best book yet. Their encouragement and suggestions are something I am eternally grateful for! Thanks to them, I decided to take a chance and send my book to an agent, Jane Gregory, of Gregory & Co, who signed me up.

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While all of that was going on, I also had some other real highs. Louise Beech, author of wonderful novels How To Be Brave and The Mountain In My Shoe, read Flowers For The Dead and gave it a stonking review on Goodreads. Then global bestseller B.A. Paris, whose book Behind Closed Doors has been a smash hit, got in touch to say she was going to read it. I couldn’t believe it. But when she tweeted messages about how much she loved Flowers For The Dead…well, I had to believe it then!

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THE Book Club on Facebook invited twenty book bloggers to choose their Top 20 favourite reads EVER. Now that is a tall order to fulfil, and some absolute classic books made their appearance, including Lord of the Rings, Madame Bovary,  and Catch 22. And, erm, Flowers For The Dead! That’s right, Flowers For The Dead appeared on the list of three separate bloggers’ lists, Lucy V Hay, DampPebbles, and My Chestnut Reading Tree.

Now it is the end of the year, everyone has compiling their best reads of the year. Flowers For The Dead has been chosen by Lucy V Hay, My Chestnut Reading Tree, and author Louise Beech.

Meanwhile, my other novel, Invisible, has been chosen as one of the best reads of 2016, by wonderful blogs Being Anne and Beady Jan’s Books.

Another feather in my cap was when Elizabeth Haynes, author of stunningly excellent psychological thrillers such as Into the Darkest Corner, decided to follow my author page over on Facebook. Oh. My. God.

But the biggest news of all came at the start of December, when I signed a FOUR BOOK DEAL with Bookouture!

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It’s unbelievable that 2016 has ended on this note after such a tough first six months. The lows of the year have made me appreciate the highs even more. They also help me to realise they are all part of the process. So, I just want to say two things: Firstly, thank you to every single one of you who has supported me, through buying my books, social media, writing reviews, blogging, or by being a great friend. Secondly, to anyone out there who is going through a tough time: keep believing, don’t give up. Because dreams can come true – mine are definitely starting to!

Here’s to a wonderful 2017 for you all xxx

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Feel the fear & write anyway! #amwriting #crimefiction #writerslife

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The problem, of course, is the tiny flutter of fear that I am not good enough

I’m trying to make the most of this Crimbo Limbo time, those  strange days between Christmas and New Year, where routine is suspended, to get some writing done. It feels good to be back at my keyboard again, after a break of several days. But I’m also strangely nervous. For the first time, there is a deadline that is set in stone; I simply MUST meet it.

I’ve never had that before as an author. Oh, as a journalist they were an integral part of my everyday life. Give me a deadline and I’d say with absolute confidence that I could and would hit it. I could calculate down to the minute how long something would take me to write, and juggling several deadlines at once was easy.

It’s not like that with novel-writing. Not for me, anyway. Each book is so different that I have no clue how long one will take.

As a self-published author, I’ve had the luxury of being able to write as and when I feel. If I think a novel will take me five months to write, but it actually takes eight months before I’m happy with it, so what? I can plod, tinker, rewrite, sit back and have a think about what I’ve done and then come back to it again after a week or so.

Not now. Now I have an agent and a publisher, both with expectations of what I can do. Don’t get me wrong, they are lovely people, and haven’t got the thumbscrews out (not yet, anyway. Perhaps that comes later). I am the one putting pressure on myself. Telling myself I must hit this deadline and show them I can do this. That I deserve the faith they have put in me. That I won’t mess up.

The problem, of course, is the tiny flutter of fear that I am not good enough to hit the deadline. That I don’t deserve the faith they have put in me. That I will mess up this golden opportunity.

But there is only one way to find out the truth: to stop worrying and get writing. So here I go…

My top 20 reads for 2016…

My all-time favourite reads! #books #amreading #Top10

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Here it is, in no particular order, my eclectic mix of Top Ten all-time favourites!

A little while ago I was asked by secret Facebook group THE Book Club to compile my Top Ten all-time favourite books. I agonised. I made lists, moved books around, in and out, up and down. I discussed with friends, family, my partner, moved things round more, then thought of even more books that simply must be included. I was nowhere near choosing ten books.

As a voracious reader my entire life, how could I possibly whittle my choice down to just ten? How could I whittle it down to a Top 100?!

Should I choose books that I used to read when I was younger – read until the pages started to flutter to the floor because, for all my care, the paperback couldn’t handle a one thousandth read – but that I hadn’t read in years?

Should I choose books that had such a huge impact on me that I hadn’t dared to read them again, scared of sullying the memory of perfection they have in my mind, and fearful too of stirring up once more the strong emotions they had unleashed in me?

Should I choose books which although not necessarily in my Top 10 all-time favourites, were written by authors whose name is blazed across my shelves because I love all of their works and know they are an author I adore and can rely on to produce something wonderful?

With so many variables, my list grew longer and longer, and I worried about it more and more. The cerebral approach wasn’t working. Time to fall back to instinct. In a rush, I pulled together ten novels I adore for many different reasons. And I didn’t let myself change my mind.

Ask me again tomorrow, and the answer would be different, and the day after that and the day after that… But today, here it is, in no particular order, my eclectic and not-even-remotely-definitive Top Ten all-time favourites!

Engleby, Sebastian Faulks

The strange tale of a strange man who is out of step with the world. A spine-tinglingly great read, and truly brilliant characterisation. This book definitely influenced my own writing.

After You’d Gone, Maggie O’Farrell

Thanks to this book, I went to work a very tired person after getting just three hours’ sleep. I hadn’t been able to put it down until I finished – and hadn’t been able to stop crying either.

This is a fabulous example of the power of a simple story well told, with emotion so realistic that it is painfully raw to read. The power is also in the faultless construction of the novel; the way tiny pieces of Alice Raikes’s life drift across her consciousness as she lies in a coma, and we as readers have to put it in order, to discover what has happened to her.

The Little White Horse, Elizabeth Goudge

I spent most of my formative years with my nose stuck in a book. It is thanks to all those fabulous authors (J.M. Barrie, A.A. Milne, Kenneth Grahame, J.R.R. Tolkein, Enid Blyton, and so many more) that I fell in love with words – and look how that ended up! The Little White Horse features an incredibly vain dog called Wiggins, and Elizabeth Goudge’s description of him was so wonderful that to this day I can remember discovering it for the first time – and loving it so much that I couldn’t resist reading it aloud to my mum. When I am in need of a ‘comfort book’ because I am ill, this is one of the books I turn to.

The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith

It was tough whittling down Patricia Highsmith’s books to just one favourite, but I finally did it. Tom Ripley is a psychopath you can’t help rooting for, somehow. A wonderful character.

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne

If ever there were a masterclass in ‘less is more’ this Holocaust novel is it. A wonderful, heart-wrenching tale of friendship in the most horrific of circumstances, John Boyne manages to convey the worst of humanity without ever resorting to graphic description. Once read, it will live with you forever.

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Meadowland, John Lewis-Stempel

Tell people you adore a non-fiction book about an English field, and they will probably think you’re insane. But, trust me… Some writing is so beautiful that I am gripped with an urge to read sections out loud, just so that I can hear the jewel-like words as well as see them, somehow maximizing the pleasure and sharing the joy with others. This is one such book, as you get to know the badger clan, the fox family, the rabbit warren, the skylark brood and the curlew pair, and fall in love with the rustling grasses and winter-rattling leaves. A joy to read!

Great Expectation, Charles Dickens

I spent the greater part of two years avoiding reading this classic for my GCSEs. I only caved in just before my exams – and realised what all the fuss was about. Crime, love and obsession – plus an old dear in a rotting bridal gown. Who could ask for more? Not me, as I’ve literally lost count of the amount of times I’ve read it.

Of Bees and Mist, Erick Setiawan

An adult fairytale full of metaphors for anger, bitterness and a marriage falling apart, I fell in love with Of Bees and Mist from the very first chapter because it was unique. When Meridia flees from a house haunted by sad-eyed ghosts, her mother’s resentments and swirling clouds of mist, she hopes to escape to a simpler future with the man she loves. But her new husband’s home – plagued by swarms of angry bees – is just as bewitched, and has its own history of thwarted passions, feuds and betrayal. Brilliant!

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

Madam Bovary was banned, such was its scandalous impact on publication. I like to think that wasn’t simply because it was about a bored wife having an affair, but because of the rich vein of dark humour running through it, which makes me chuckle deliciously. Although written in 1856, Emma Bovary’s character still rings true today. And if she were around today, she would hoover up real life television and want her fifteen minutes of fame. She’d probably want to star in Made In Chelsea. Truly a novel before its time.

Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier

Oh, poor, mousey second Mrs De Winter. How clever to create a novel all about everyone’s obsession with Rebecca – and never name the narrator. Perfection.

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BOOK LOVE: My Crime Fiction Faves With Male Leads, by Lucy V Hay @LucyVHayAuthor #crimefiction #BestBooks2016

 

Gold TOP five.

Good old Adam, he’s done it for me again!

Lucy V Hay is a fabulous author, script editor & producer. Over on her website, she has chosen her tope twenty ALL-TIME FAVOURITE books (and don’t even get me started on how hard that would be) and broken them down into sections. First of all, she has posted her Top Five crime novels featuring male leads…and I’m overjoyed to see that Flowers For The Dead has been included, alongside some other incredibly famous authors! Good old Adam, he’s done it for me again! To read Lucy’s thoughts, and see what other books she has chosen click here.

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“Beautifully written” My #bookreview of THE GIFT, by Louise Jensen @Fab_fiction @Bookouture #thriller

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“A creepy read that gave me goosebumps”

THEY SAY

The perfect daughter is dead. And a secret is eating her family alive…

Jenna is given another shot at life when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. Eternally grateful to Callie and her family, Jenna gets closer to them, but she soon discovers that Callie’s perfect family is hiding some very dark secrets …

Callie’s parents are grieving, yet Jenna knows they’re only telling her half the story. Where is Callie’s sister Sophie? She’s been ‘abroad’ since her sister’s death but something about her absence doesn’t add up. And when Jenna meets Callie’s boyfriend Nathan, she makes a shocking discovery.

Jenna knows that Callie didn’t die in an accident. But how did she die? Jenna is determined to discover the truth but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

A compelling, gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist from the author of the Number One bestseller The Sister.

I SAY

What if the gift of life is a curse rather than a blessing? This is the fascinating premise of The Gift, and right from the opening scene I was intrigued.

Jenna is struggling to deal with her brush with death, after she has had a heart transplant. Are the screams… TO READ THE REVIEW IN FULL, PLEASE CLICK HERE

WEEKLY ROUND UP: The best week of 2016! #books #Bookouture #happydance #amwriting

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‘Bookouture snaps up best-selling thriller writer, Barbara Copperthwaite’ read the headline.

If only there were a way of freezing forever the rare perfect moments in life, so that we could revisit them. Instead, I shall have to make do with my memories of this incredible week – but what memories they are! Wow! Being included in the best reads of 2016, having one of my all-time favourite authors (and my writing hero) follow my author page on Facebook, and, oh, that small matter of me being signed by publishers Bookouture!!!!!

First, Emma, of blog DampPebbles, picked Flowers For The Dead as one of her Top Five Reads of the Year during an interview with The Book Review Cafe. Woo hoo!

Then Sunday brought the news that Invisible was one of the Best Books of 2016, according to Beady Jan’s Books. I hit the triple on Monday when Being Anne also chose Invisible for her Books of the Year list.

What a start to the week! I haven’t published anything this year, as I’ve been hiding away in my writing cave, so it makes it all the more special. Bloggers are passionate about finding great books, and they read a lot. I mean a LOT. So to be chosen by them as being among the best is an honour.

On Tuesday, I published my own Top Ten. It was so tough choosing what my favourite books have been! Pop over to the post and see what you think. Elizabeth Haynes did just that – that’s right, THE Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into The Darkest Corner, Human Remains, and so many more fabulous books. It’s an unashamed name drop, I’m afraid! I actually shouted out loud when I saw that she is now following my author page on Facebook. Blimey!

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Tuesday night was a very restless one, though. I was as nervous as a child before Christmas, and barely slept a wink because I knew what Wednesday would hold… Finally, something that I had been keeping secret for what seemed like forever was going to be made public. The single most exciting thing to have ever happened to me and I hadn’t been able to talk about it to anyone! But that would all change soon, and my stomach flipped every time I thought about Wednesday at 12.15pm…

Finally, the time arrived:

‘Bookouture snaps up best-selling thriller writer, Barbara Copperthwaite’ read the headline. It made me fill up seeing it. All my hopes and dreams, that I had wanted so much but never dared to imagine would come true, HAD come true. There was the proof in black and white.

I’ve signed a four-book deal with Bookouture, a publisher I have long admired. Its authors include Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Tom Bale, and Louise Jensen. It’s unbelievable! But I had better believe it soon, because my first novel will be published in summer 2017, followed by a second in autumn.

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To find out more about my and Bookouture’s reaction to my news, click here.

The reaction on social media was incredible. I spent the rest of the day and night replying to people who had congratulated me. The outpouring of happiness was so touching, and I still feel a rosy glow every time I think of it.

The week couldn’t get any better than that. So yesterday it was back to reality, starting the day as usual by sitting in bed at 7am, writing, and trying not to drop toast crumbs on my laptop or my sheets. The glamorous life of an author, eh?

But I’ve got my lovely memories to keep me going, spurring me on to write. Thank you to everyone who helped to make this week the best week of the whole year.

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