Wednesday 28 October 2020

 What Readers Expect

October has been a busy month for courses and writing workshops. It started with four RNA Learning seminars as part of a Build your author brand, promote your books, reach more readers course, run by Anna Caig. Like many writers, I find promoting my own books difficult and, if I'm honest, am happier supporting fellow authors promote theirs so this course was very useful now that two of my novels are out in the world. The course was excellent and covered a whole range of aspects of marketing including building an authentic and effective author brand, key messages, the use of digital and social media, media training and interview skills. 

What is our author brand? Anna explained that it may be defined as 'features that identify you as distinct from others' and that 'personal branding is the story people tell about you when you're not in the room.' This got me thinking about what readers will now expect from a novel written by me. Have I got a brand yet? I made a list of some of the things that I've tried to do in my novels and hope I've succeeded in achieving some of the points:

  • settings, both in time and location, are integral to the story
  • there is a dual timeline and the social history of both eras will impact on decisions made
  • there is a contrasting location
  • family relationships are explored, especially the bond between mothers and daughters
  • the characters are hopefully believable in that they show their flaws as well as their strengths, going on a journey of self-discovery
  • the characters' emotions, their highs and lows, are shared with the readers
  • the story usually involves romantic first love and also forbidden love
  • there are hopeful, uplifting endings
These features are often seen in many writers' novels so are certainly not 'distinct' as such but perhaps we all deal with them in different ways. Here are some comments from readers that have helped me see how the novels have been received:

Both Elin and Alexandra are complex and well-rounded characters, and very much of their time......The love they had for each other is threaded throughout Her Mother's Secret.

The author has skillfully transported us to a Greek island and given us characters to care about.

...A dual timeline story of love and self-discovery with memorable characters and a stunning Greek backdrop to bring it all to life...The mother/daughter relationship was fully explored to reveal a strong familial bond which explained a lot about the emotional decisions made in both eras.

I love discovering a new writer who can transport me to a destination...this is a delightful story that conjures up all the colour and charm of a Greek island.

Who better than Jan Baynham to lead you through a tale of family secrets? ...Be prepared to cross the decades, live through the shame, the deceit and, finally, love that brings this family's story to life.

All the characters, even those with more secondary parts, are strongly drawn and play their roles in the story. Secrets are kept, and exposed, and you may ask yourself what you would have decided in the same situation.

...You touched on so many issues. It was heart-wrenching and beautiful, at times, with a lovely ending.

The pace never drags. You keep wanting to know what happens next. Split between the 1940s and 1960s, the author has captured both eras well.

Thank you for reading. I am now working on novel three so expect many of the features listed above. I can tell you that the contrasting area in this book is Northern France and it is set in wartime and 1960. It deals with secrets, social class, inheritance, forbidden love and the French Resistance. 
Writers - What can we expect to find in your books? Please put a link in the comment box.
Readers - Whar do you look for when choosing a new book?

You may also follow me on @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

Monday 5 October 2020

About a Book

Today I’m delighted to welcome a fellow RNA Cariad Chapter member, Evonne Wareham, onto the blog. Evonne is an award-winning author who writes romantic suspense for Choc Lit. So, there’s the other link between us. We share the same publisher, my publisher, Ruby Fiction, being an imprint of hers. Her latest novel, A Wedding on the Riviera, was published on 22nd September and is already attracting fantastic reviews.

Evonne, over to you.  

A big thank you to Jan for inviting me onto the blog today to talk about writing about location – and the similarities and differences in the ways we approach it. While we both have a love story at the heart of what we write, Jan mixes her romance with the layers and complexities of family relationships, played out over generations;  I go for contemporary romantic suspense – mixing a central love affair with a measure of crime and mayhem. We both have a darker side to our writing, and we are both partial to secrets and mysteries. The other thing we share is where we set our books. We both use locations in our native Wales, but also enjoy sunny holiday destinations abroad, places that offer the reader a chance of some armchair travel. Well, we have to have something to balance all that Welsh rain!

We have definitely had a lot of that recently, haven’t we? Locations do play a very important part in our novels. Please tell us more about how you use those settings in yours.

Even with all that in common, we differ in the way we use the settings. Jan uses both locations in one book – an essential part of her heroine’s journey, where secrets at home can only be explained by an excursion into the past and to another place.  I separate my use of location between books. While all my books are romantic suspense – I love the juxtaposition of crime and a love story - I write at both ends of a spectrum. The lighter end, my Riviera series, is about glamour and sunshine, and there is nowhere better than the French and Italian Riviera to convey that, even before the book is opened. A Wedding on the Riviera, my latest book, has the added attraction of that wedding – yet more glitz. The more gritty stand-alone stories are much darker, with a higher body count. Not all my grittier books so far have been set in Wales – although Cardiff often manages to make a cameo appearance, even when the bulk of the action takes place elsewhere. I’m hoping there will be a more stories set in Wales fairly soon. I want to take advantage of the differences in the locations, to differentiate the styles of the books, and am looking forward to developing this. The big plus in using Wales as a location for me is the landscape, particula
rly the National Parks. Writing about wilder countryside, off the beaten track, lets me use places where things can be kept hidden – secrets again. I’m hoping in the future to draw in some elements of Welsh folklore, adding more layers of mystery to a story. The manuscripts I have lurking in the wings are not all set in Wales, but I certainly intend to make that a focus in the future.

That’s so interesting, Evonne. Different landscapes evoke different responses from readers, I think, and you’ve picked a perfect location for your latest novel. Separating the kinds of landscapes for the two distinct styles of your writing obviously works. Wales has some wonderful bleak and deserted landscapes that must be ideal for the setting of your darker, grittier stories. Secrets, folklore and mystery – I can’t wait to know what you have in store for us.    

I think both Jan and I feel that Wales is perhaps underrepresented in popular fiction, in comparison with other parts of the British Isles, like Scotland or Cornwall, and this seems to be particularly the case in books with a romantic element. Wales is a beautiful country, with an interesting history, which can get a bit overlooked ....

Yes, I agree. Setting a romance in Wales, either contemporary or historical, works very well, and it would be great to see more romantic novels set here. The countryside, the long coastline and some of the spectacular wedding venues we have here in Wales make the perfect backdrops. Could this be your next romance story, Evonne?

Thank you for joining me on the blog. I've enjoyed chatting with you.


Evonne is an award winning Welsh author of romantic suspense - more crime and dead bodies than your average romance. She likes to set her book in her native Wales, or for a touch of glamorous escapism, in favourite holiday destinations in Europe. She is a Doctor of Philosophy and an historian, and a member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association.

If you would like to find out more about Evonne, you may follow her here:





Book Description

A return to the Riviera on the trail of a runaway groom

When out-of-work actor Ryan Calder attends a wedding as the plus-one of successful businesswoman, Nadine Wells, he doesn't expect to get in a scuffle with the groom. But Ryan has a good reason. He recognises the groom from another wedding where the same man made a quick getaway, taking the wedding money and leaving a heartbreaking bride in his wake. It seems he's struck again, and Nadine's poor friend is the target. Ryan and Nadine decide they can't let it happen to another woman, so with a group of friends they hatch a plan that will take them to the French Riviera, hot on the heels of the crooked groom. But could their scheme to bring him to justice also succeed in bringing them closer together?  

Buy links for A Wedding on the Riviera




Barnes and Noble

Thank you for reading. How important is location when reading or writing a particular genre?

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer page.