First We Take Manhattan

First We Take Manhattan. Identical twins Sinéad and Sheila Fields have alw...


So.  Remember we announced our Digitals Originals project a few months ago? And how we were looking for brilliant new novels that we would publish in eBook first?

Well.  We are delighted to be able to announce that the first novel we will publish as part of this project is…. wait for it…. drum roll please…. The Two of Us, by Andy Jones, in Spring 2015 – first in eBook and then in paperback a few months later.

And, trust me.  You are going to LOVE IT.

The Two of Us tells the story of Fisher and Ivy and is about falling in love and what happens next.  It’s a heartbreaking emotional story of love, life and everything in between and manages to be both funny and warm… it’s captivated everyone here at Books and the City Towers, and we just can’t wait for you to read it, and fall in love with Fisher and Ivy.

More news will follow soon, including the cover reveal, sneak peak at the opening chapter, a wonderful Feature from Andy, and a very exclusive event to meet the man himself!


Stay tuned, follow Andy on twitter and look out for the #TheTwoOfUs news alerts.

Creative Writing Masterclass

masterclassFree on Saturday 15th November?  Why not book a ticket to visit us here at Books and the City HQ for a very special Creative Writing Masterclass aimed specifically at writers of commercial women’s fiction? Aimed at as-yet-unpublished writers, the event will consist of a morning of one-to-one sessions with editors Jo Dickinson and Clare Hey and uber literary agent Lizzy Kremer, and afternoon panels for a wider audience with bestselling author Milly JohnsonPeter Saxton (Publisher Liaison Manager at Waterstones Head Office) and Isabelle Broom (Book Reviewer at Heat Magazine).

Tickets will are now on sale so be quick, as this really is a super opportunity for all you budding women’s fiction authors.

Here is Editorial Director Clare Hey, who is one of the panellists and editors on the course, to fill you in with some more info.

‘We’re really excited to be running this one-day masterclass and I wanted to let you know what you can expect from the day. We know the world of publishing can feel impenetrable to those who are not yet published and so we want to help you with your next steps on the road to becoming published. Perhaps you are an aspiring writer with a great idea who hasn’t yet put pen to paper, or you may have already completed a novel and want to know where to go next. If so, read on…

This event will aim to help you on the next steps with your novel, pooling the talent behind the scenes at Books and the City to give you our top tips and insights into how to hone your writing, how best to get an agent and editor to notice you, and what booksellers and reviewers are looking for.

The day is split into two parts. The morning will consist of a series of fifteen-minute one-to-one sessions which will be perfect for writers who have already completed a first draft of their novel, or are very close to doing so. These sessions will be with either Jo Dickinson, Lizzy Kremer or myself (Clare Hey), and as we will have read the synopsis and first chapter of your work ahead of the meeting, along with your pitch letter, we will be able to give you personal feedback on what we have read. If you have something specific you would like to discuss, we will be able to advise, too. These sessions aim to be personal, detailed and constructive – your chance to have direct contact with an agent and editors who specialise in women’s fiction and to get direct and honest feedback.

The afternoon will be opened out to a wider audience in a series of panels, taking you from how to know when your novel is ready to submit, how you ought to submit and how best to get noticed, to sessions on what editors are looking for and how booksellers and reviewers spot talent. There will be some Q&A opportunities so you’ll have plenty of time to ask any burning questions you have, and there’ll be a drinks reception to give you time to mingle with your fellow writers and the team at Books and the City.

We’re excited to meet the writers of the future and look forward to a creative, fun and useful day.’

If this sounds like your sort of thing, click here for more information and to buy tickets. Any questions email

Guest Post by Isabelle Broom, author of The Wedding Speech


So, it’s been a month now since my story, ‘The Wedding Speech’, which won The Great British Write Off, was officially published and OH MY GAWD what a month it’s been. If I say I wasn’t nervous about what everyone’s reactions would be, then I’d be lying – I was pretty petrified, truth be told. It’s not that I wasn’t confident about the story, more that I knew some people would probably think it was a load of old gubbins. Thankfully, 99 per cent of the feedback I’ve had has been really good, which is amazing and hugely humbling.

I stayed up the night before publication so that I could download the story onto my own Kindle (and iPhone) as soon as midnight arrived. It was such a bizarre and mind-boggling experience to see my words appear on the page, along with all of the standard front-of-book stuff. Here was my story, on an actual Kindle, like a real author’s story. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

As it was a short story, it wasn’t very long before the reviews started coming in on Amazon and iTunes, as well as Goodreads, numerous blogs, Twitter and Facebook. I will honestly never have enough thank you’s for all of the people who have taken the time to read and rate the story. It sounds cliché, but the reviews really do make all the difference, and I value every single opinion, both good and bad. The main criticism so far has seemed to be simply that the story was too short, so I’m taking that as encouragement. The next thing I publish (hopefully – crosses every single finger and toe for good measure) will definitely be a lot meatier, so don’t worry about that.

I was lucky enough to get reviews of ‘The Wedding Speech’ in the print media too, namely Heat, Closer and Grazia – plus a mention in Private Eye, although I think that one was a bit tongue-in-cheek. Nevertheless, any publicity is good publicity and all that, so I’m very grateful. Shortly before the story was published, I was contacted by the team over at the Sunday People magazine, Love Sunday, and they asked me if I’d submit some new short stories to run in their mag. Needless to say, I leapt gazelle-like at the chance, and have since had two stories published – ‘The Message’ and ‘The Dinner Party’ – with another, ‘The New Arrival’, due on 12th October. I also have a brief to write another: a spooky tale in time for Halloween.

I have been working on a novel, too, and having all this continued support for ‘The Wedding Speech’ has really spurred me on and made me all the more determined to write something that I can be truly proud of. Without giving too much away, I can say that in October I’m off to a Greek island for a week to do a spot of research… Yep, this writing malarkey really is the best job in the world. Now all I have to do is become the next J.K. Rowling! Ahem…

Thanks so much to everyone who has read ‘The Wedding Speech’. I will continue to be grateful, humble and beaming with happiness about it for the rest of my days. Let’s hope it’s the first of many!

Digital Originals news

Digital Originals Font (4)

On 15th July my inbox went into meltdown as #digitaloriginal submissions aplenty pinged through at a rate of knots.  If there was a Reading Challenge associated with our #oneday initiative to find the next eBook star of the commercial women’s fiction world, Clare Hey and I would be up on the podium holding aloft a well-deserved Gold medal, as we’ve probably read more novels in the past six weeks than many people read in a year. 

It has to be said, we’ve had to make some difficult decisions regarding the number of novels we are in a position to acquire as part of this project, as we were completely overwhelmed with entries, but we’ve now responded to everyone who took the time to send us their novel.

Many of the novels we read showed potential, but aren’t quite what we are looking for at this time.  Many had an interesting hook and a good cast of characters but didn’t quite fit into the genre.  We read a handful of novels by authors with a strong and unique voice, but ultimately the story didn’t grab us in the way we want to be grabbed. We sincerely wish those authors the very best of luck for the future, and we will be keeping a beady eye out to watch their careers flourish!  

Some made us both chuckle, or reach for a Kleenex – so we have emailed all of the authors of those novels with, what we hope will be, some useful and constructive feedback.

And a handful of novels blew us both away.  They have been shared with the wider team and we have invited those authors in to @TeamBATC HQ for a chat over a cup of tea and a biscuit.  

So thank you to everyone who submitted their novels. And watch this space for some brilliant new authors for you to fall in love with over the next few months. 


Want to know which books the team here at Books and the City HQ recommend for guaranteed satisfaction over the Summer?  Sure you do!





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October 24, 2014  |  Features  |  Comments are off

After writing four family sagas based in South America I needed a change of location, as well as plot structure. Americans weren’t interested in what they considered their back yard – when we Europeans think of Argentina we think of polo, pampa, tango, and Evita, while apparently they think of …