Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Books

I thought I’d tell you a bit about the books I have written and the ones that are in the pipeline.

First of all, the books currently available are obviously aimed at the female audience. The three that are now on Amazon Kindle are pure romantic slush. OK, I don’t like being so harsh, but they are romances with the requisite ups and downs along the way before the happy endings. The three books are:

Rules of the House

This is a simple story about a young woman, Jo, who finds herself made redundant and has to pay the mortgage and bills somehow so she advertises for a lodger. Along comes locum vet Alistair and the personality clashes start. He is of course seriously attractive, but he speaks his mind, while Jo is used to living in her own space and hates his butting in to help her, especially when he is right and she is proved wrong. Sparks and misunderstandings fly, a cat and a dog feature and Jo’s ambition is to find another job and get Alistair out of her life. Or does she really want to do the latter?

Cool Customer

Lucie is a new graduate when she first meets Jake and tries to impress him, but their meeting is not auspicious. Fast forward a few years and the naïve young Lucie has grown up and is a successful saleswoman for a computer manufacturer. Then her path crosses Jake’s yet again. While he initially holds her past mistakes against her, his opinion changes. But after an initial meeting, Lucie doesn’t trust him so he has to try hard to persuade her not only that she is mistaken about him, but that he wants to know her much better. Comic relief is added by a customer of Lucie’s, and colleagues help or hinder the proceedings along the way.

Family Affairs

Chrissie meets Matt at a wedding, when her sister Tanya marries his cousin Phil. There is an initial attraction, but Chrissie isn’t looking for romance and she gives him the brush-off. Tanya’s marriage gets off to a rocky start and big sister Chrissie steps in with some advice. Matt and Chrissie meet up again and this time things look more auspicious. Their relationship is on the up while Tanya and Phil continue to have problems. Tanya comes up with a plan to give herself a safety net, which gets her and Phil into big trouble, while something of Matt’s that went missing reappears and causes yet more problems. Set in Chrissie’s workplace, a hotel, and various other venues, the hotel staff do their best to aid and abet while Chrissie’s friend Judith provides her with a bolt hole when the going gets tough.

The first two of these books are relatively short, while Family Affairs is over three hundred pages. Although I am working on another short romance, similar in length to Rules of the House and Cool Customer, I am planning two longer novels which diverge from the standard romantic formula. One features an older woman having perhaps a mid-life crisis and the other a woman with a child who longs to know about her father, while her mother has sound and upsetting reasons why she is hiding events from the past. Also I plan to load a long short story onto Amazon soon, and I am writing, in the intervals between other things, an account of my time in Germany involving attempts at restoring a large old building as well as details of the Angst (have to use the German word here!) caused by leaving the land of my birth.

If there’s anyone out there, do let me know!

Monday, August 27, 2012

What is it about Germany? Part 1

So, to change the subject, it’s time to say something about where I live. Thüringen – Thuringia in English – is slap bang in the centre of Germany. Thüringen is part of the old East Germany, so prior to 1989 it would have been difficult to visit this area, and now I live here. There are a lot of things to like about living here, but some things really get on my nerves!

The main industry in the area is tourism; the second industry, as far as I can tell although nobody ever publishes this, is road works. I live in a small village somewhere in the middle of a triangle with a town at each corner. And they are doing their very best to make sure I can’t get anywhere I want to go without a major diversion adding on about 30 kilometres to my journey. This could also be a cunning ploy to get people to buy more fuel at ever increasing prices (it’s not expensive only in England). For a month or so the road out of the village in one direction has been closed. There are two roads we can legally drive on, two illegal ones that people have been known to use (I admit to nothing here, and am naming no names but you can tell the locals by the way they weave around avoiding the potholes) and another which is not only illegal but which features a barrier at one end that means that driving a car the whole length is impossible. When they closed our legal road, we all received a letter from the mayor kindly informing us that if we filled in a little form we would be allowed to use the aforementioned road (presumably temporarily barrier free) to escape. So we filled in the little form and received a nice official letter saying we were allowed to drive on that road. Technically. However, someone decided they didn’t like that plan and put a barrier up at the other end of the road. Great. But, hooray, they have now finished doing whatever they were doing with the road so we can get out in that direction again. And they’ve closed the road in the other direction. Next week I start a new part-time job and need to use that way out of the village, but oh, no, I can’t. And the second best alternative route to where I need to go is… closed. Has been for several months now and nobody had a clue when it will open again, or exactly what is going on there. So I have the choice of two other routes that add many kilometres to the journey and mean that the small amount I shall be earning will mostly be spent on petrol. Although at the time of the first closure it was possible – although of course illegal – to use another road to get out and not add much distance to the journey, this time it isn’t.

Even the Germans moan about German bureaucracy. There is paperwork to cover every eventuality. And as of next January, I hear, everyone will have to have a television licence. It doesn’t matter whether they have a television or not – and I don’t so I particularly resent this – we have to have a licence anyway.

Do you have metered water? Do you think metering can save money? Not here it can’t. All water is metered and in an area abundant in water the charges keep going up and up. Last year I made a conscious effort to save on water and used one third less than the previous year. My bill was about 20 Euros more. I think I shall have to stop washing altogether soon.

My brother came to stay a while ago and I said my car needed a wash. He kindly volunteered, but I had to turn him down. You see, it is not allowed to wash your car on your own grounds. You must use a car wash. It’s to do with the environment and not clogging drains up with mucky water.

Are you insured? In England I had insurance for my house, my house contents, my car and my horse, when I had one. Here house, contents and car are covered, but it is expected for everyone to have third party insurance to cover themselves, dogs and horses (if you have them); accident insurance; legal insurance and a lot more I can’t remember right now. If you own a dog it has to be registered with the local authority, chipped and insured. As a horse owner I have to be registered as such and my horse has to be chipped and insured. If I want to ride in the forest, I have to be registered. By the time you’ve paid all the insurance premiums, there’s not a lot left to cover food and clothing! Dog tax varies from area to area, but it increases for each extra dog and if you have a dog that is deemed a fighting breed, you’d better have deep pockets.  

So are there any good things about being here? I’ll let you know next time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why do I write?

There’s a distinct possibility that I’m talking to myself here, but it’s very early days yet so I’ll work on the premise that things can only get better and plough on regardless.

Writing is a strange and lonely pastime. For me it is particularly so because, living in a non-English-speaking country, I don’t have anyone easily available to talk to about my writing, show examples to or just bounce ideas off. I’m not part of an expat community (I’ll talk a bit about where I live in a later blog) and live exclusively among German people. I have always wanted to write, I have dabbled in it in the past, but it is only now that I have a bit of time to do so and the opportunity, through the internet, of reaching an audience quickly and easily.

I said above that I may be talking to myself. I hope I’m not. I hope people find this blog and find it interesting. I hope they tell me if they do, tell me what they find interesting and readable about it, and also tell me where I’m going wrong so I can get it better. I can’t give people what they want unless they tell me what it is, can I? So if you feel you have something to say, please say it. All constructive comments will be taken on board and, if possible, acted on. Just don’t ask me to write science fiction or emulate some other writer, because I’m me and I write the way I write.

A writer’s ego is a fragile thing in need of feeding and nurturing. I write because I want to, and I’ll carry on writing and trying to improve what I write, but feedback is important. When I received my first review for my first book, I was over the moon. Five stars! And a review that told me that the reader had enjoyed reading my book and why. That’s the kind of review I’m aiming for. Realistically, I don’t expect all the reviews to be five star ones, because not everyone reacts in the same way to any product – and a book is after all a product. Just as I wouldn’t give a steak to a vegetarian, I wouldn’t expect a reader who doesn’t like romantic novels to enjoy my books. Shakespeare has endured through centuries, but still not everyone likes his work. But a five star review that merely say ‘Hey, I loved this book,’ but doesn’t explain why doesn’t tell other readers what there is to like about the book, nor does it tell me where I went right so I can follow it up next time. A one or two star review that doesn’t look as if the reader has read the book (eg, ‘This book is rubbish, don’t buy it’) doesn’t help me to know what I’ve done wrong. I’m not begging for one or two star reviews, of course, but if you think that is all my book is worth, I want to know why. Maybe it’s because the reader picked up a book he or she wouldn’t normally read and it reminded them of why they don’t read that sort of book. I can’t do anything about that. But if you think my characters are unsympathetic, or my plot too thin, then I’d rather hear that than see a negative review with no hint of what I have done wrong. By the way I never have asked, and I never will ask, friends or relatives to give my books great reviews. If they read them and want to review them, it’s up to them. But I don’t cheat. I don’t ask anyone to bump my books ratings up by posting unrealistic reviews. It isn’t fair to my potential audience. 

Writing is a bug. It helps, if you have the bug, to be able to articulate yourself in a way that makes people want to read what you write. I have been told over the years, by teachers, university lecturers (a backhanded compliment I once received, on handing in a sub-standard essay, was that I could get away with it because I could write. I managed an acceptable mark for the essay) and others who have been subjected to my work, that I can write. The answer to the question I posed in the title is that I want to write, I have ideas filling my head and fighting to be put onto paper – or at least into my computer and via that onto the web – I find it therapeutic and, let’s be brutally honest about this, I would really like to be able to make at least a modest amount of money doing something I enjoy doing and feel compelled to do. What could be better making a living from something you really want to do?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What has influenced my writing?

I believe that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to be an author if you don’t read – authors of non-fiction can possibly get away with it, but to be able to write fiction you need to read, read and read more. I read a lot.

My reading is by no means confined to romances. In fact many of my favourite authors write in very different genres. I am a big Terry Pratchett fan and have read all his Discworld books, although I am not really into fantasy in general. I read a lot of detective stories, thrillers and mysteries. I started very young with Agatha Christie and have read many older detective stories by Patricia Wentworth, Dorothy Sayers, Raymond Chandler… The list goes on and on. Nowadays I love books by Kathy Reichs (I used to be a Patricia Cornwall fan, but in recent years I have found her writing has lost its edge), John Connolly, Simon Kernick, Karen Rose, Simon Beckett, Jo Nesbo, Peter James, Tina French and many more. Harlan Coben has written some very good books, although I wouldn’t recommend trying the re-issues of his first couple which I found deeply disappointing.

I’ve read many of the classics and of course Pride and Prejudice is the best romance of all time. I like to try different authors and discovered the wonderful Hilary Mantel when Wolf Hall was short-listed for the Booker Prize. I read it in one day! It is a thick book (I’m a fast reader anyway and find short books are over too fast, although I am guilty of having written short books) but I was in hospital at the time and had nothing better to do. I’m looking forward to reading Bring up the Bodies. One of the major problems of living outside the UK is that I don’t have access to a library, and buying new books from Amazon can be expensive when you take into account the fact that buying one book is not always economical because of the postage. So I have to limit my book buying and often buy second-hand through the Amazon Market Place.

So who are my favourite writers of romance and the genres that are closer to my own writing, Jane Austen aside? Well, I really enjoy Jill Mansell’s books. Then Katie Fforde writes a lot of good stuff, and Judy Astley, though I wouldn’t call her specifically a writer of romances, writes extremely well and can often make me laugh out loud. Going a long way back in time, Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa is well worth a read and Fanny (Frances) Burney’s Evelina obviously influenced Jane Austen. Both the latter were written in epistolary form (i.e. all as letters) which was very much the style of the time. But the classic romantic novel comes from those roots. Let’s face it, if you read romance you expect certain things: girl meets boy; problems occur either from the start or later; girl and boy get together; misunderstandings happen and they fall out; girl and boy reconcile; happy ending. Now the modern romantic novel has many variations on this theme, but if you read a romance and don’t have a happy ending to look forward to, it doesn’t fit the genre, does it?  

I hope you enjoy my blog. I certainly enjoy sharing my thoughts with you and look forward to writing more very soon.  

Monday, August 20, 2012


Hello and, as it says above, welcome to my blog.

My name is Deborah Fenwick and I am the author of (so far) three romantic novels that are available on Amazon Kindle. So, if you have a Kindle and like romantic novels, please read on. If you don't and/or you don't, I'd still be very happy if you pass the word around to anyone and everyone you know who does and who does.

Yes, I am shamelessly promoting my books. If I don't nobody else will (that's the big problem with self publishing). But I hope they are worth promoting. The few reviews I already have - and if you choose to buy, reviews are very welcome - tend towards the opinion that they are good stories, well written, not lacking in humour but lacking in typos. If you want to look at the reviews, is the place to look, although you can buy the books from any flavour of Amazon (.com;; .de; .fr etc.).

A little bit about me follows if you're interested.

I'm English, born and bred, but moved to Germany a few years ago. I have had to learn to live life in a foreign language, but I write, of course, in English. I have a dog and a horse, and you will find that my books often feature animals, sometimes as very minor characters, occasionally as more important to the plot. One of the big pluses of living here in the centre of Germany is the wonderful countryside, where I can ride my horse for hours hardly going near a road. I live in a region that features mountains and forests which are quite overwhelmingly beautiful.

My career has encompassed a variety of jobs, but I now teach English to earn a crust, when I'm not writing.

So, to the crux - the books. At the moment, as I said, there are three books. More are planned and I am of course in the process of writing the next. My major problem is filing away all my ideas until such time as I have the opportunity to start on each new project. The books now ready and available are:

Rules of the House

Cool Customer

Family Affairs

Plot synopses are of course available on Amazon, but if you are interested in my posting them here I would welcome your feedback. All my books feature main female characters who are intelligent, independent and well able to stand up to the slings and arrows that are thrown at them. One reviewer referred to a book as a "romcom" and I definitely try to inject a measure of humour into the books. My heroes are mature, attractive, generally very solvent, sometimes prone to getting hold of the wrong end of the stick but naturally (since these are romances) able to redeem themselves in the end.

That will do for starters. I intend to post regularly and look forward to hearing from anyone who would like to contact me.