Smashwords Sale (Facebook sucks…)

Yes, it’s that time of year again! It’s time for a Smashwords Summer Sale.

Facebook found this ad extremely offensive and sexually explicit, so any kind of marketing has failed miserably. But, I know my lovely readers, fans, and followers will be happy to share either this post or the Facebook ad on my page.

Smashwords Sale!

Getting ready to hit the beach? Need something to read in the airport or by the pool? Are you a teacher looking for a book NOT aimed at children? Head over to Smashwords and take advantage of their summer sale. Load up your e-reader with fabulously sexy books, with up to 50% off!

Stranded – FREE
City Nights Titles – 99c
A Different Kind of Therapy – 25% off
Tirgearr Titles – 50% off


Take advantage of the sale and fill your ereader with some great books!

What The Reviewers Are Saying:

Stranded: 5-STARS “I would imagine that things could easily get pretty intense when you’re in a spot like theirs. As it turns out, intense and steamy would be a better choice of adjectives!”

One Night in Edinburgh: 5-STARS “This story had me wanting more and definitely had me wanting to visit Edinburgh.”

One Night in Inverness: 5-STARS “It’s a very real and believable story with realistic characters who for once are not perfect. Hot sex scenes, emotionally charge story, splash of humour, lovely setting. A very enjoyable read for anyone who likes a sexy romance.”

One Night in Aberdeen: 5-STARS “Super, sexy read with great characters. Finished reading it in one sitting. Loved it!”

The Final Straight: 5-STARS “Keep [sic] me on the edge of my seat the entire time.”

Seven Dirty Words: 5-STARS “People are linking it with 50 shades of grey…but in my opinion this book is so much better…better story and definately [sic] better written!”

Four Letter Words: 5-STARS “A fantastic fabulous read, couldn’t put it down, an excellent conclusion to the story, for me I prefered these books to 50 shades. I will look out for more Charlotte Howard to read.”

The Black Door: 5-STARS “A really well written getaway. I enjoyed loosing [sic] myself in the story, so much so that I can’t believe I have finished and it’s time to go back to real life.”

A Different Kind of Therapy: 4-STARS “This is a quick, filthy, fun read, suitable for anyone getting into kink. It’s particularly good if you prefer your heroines sparky and smart, and are happy with the idea of switching and table-turning.”

And of course, don’t forget that Later is still available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited! You can also buy both Later and Taking Care of Leah in paperback if you prefer.


Later: 5-STARS “It takes a lot for a book to draw me in – but this one I couldn’t put down! I really enjoyed the storyline and was intrigued as to how it would end.”

Taking Care of Leah: 4-STARS “I liked the real-life developing intimate relationship, where Ty is keen to encourage Leah into BDSM, and she’s curious to try it. The need to develop trust, respect and care is nicely woven into the storyline.”



The Dragon in the Garden by Erika Gardner – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #fantasy

Kindle USKindle UK

Also available in paperback: Amazon USAmazon UK


There is magic beneath the mundane and in The Dragon in the Garden, Siobhan Orsini witnesses it all. No lie can fool her, no glamour or illusion can cloud her Sight. She sees through them all and wishes she could close her eyes. Returning to face her past, Siobhan inherits her grandparents’ house in California’s wine country. She encounters a talking dragon, a hot fallen angel, a demon lord, a Valkyrie, and, oh yes, her ex-boyfriend. And that is just in the first twenty-four hours.

It’s time to find out why she has this power.

Siobhan seeks out the Oracle and learns that only her Sight can help mankind navigate the travails of an ancient war. Our world is the prize in a battle between the dragons, who would defend us, and Lucifer’s fallen angels, who seek to take the Earth for themselves. Using her gift, she will have to make a choice that will decide humanity’s future.


The memory has haunted me for years.

In the middle of a bright California summer, dark days came. My mother and grandparents spoke in hushed, serious voices, arguing about my absent father. Was it my fault he left?

A soft whimper escaped my throat and my eyes burned. I needed a hug, but no one paid any attention to me that day. So I ran away to the refuge of my grandparents’ garden where I could hide among its statues and flowers.

My eyes lingered over the familiar garden ornaments. I passed the old birdbath, the statues of gnomes, and a cheerful squirrel. I ran one hand over the stone deer. Its brown paint had faded from years under the sun. Walking with quick steps down the gravel path, I made my way to the center of the garden, my special spot where my favorite statue waited.

A gnarled apricot tree grew there. Right now it was covered with tiny green apricots. Later in the summer the sweet fruit I loved would ripen. I would get to pick them with my parents, no, just with my mother. My lip trembled. My father wouldn’t be here.

The bright-green dragon lay curled at the foot of the apricot tree, partially covered by vines. My mother called the color jade green—the same shade as my eyes. As a child she talked to all the statues, but I only spoke to the dragon. I named her Daisy. Sitting down next to her now, the tears welled up at last, spilling over my cheeks. I wrapped my arms around my legs, making myself into a little ball of five-year-old misery.

“Child, why are you sad?” said a woman’s voice.

“Who said that?” I asked, wiping my cheek.

“I did.”

“Where are you?” I stood and peered at the plants and statues around me.

“Right here.”

“Are not,” I retorted.

A soft laugh filled the air and the woman spoke again. “Perhaps you are right. Easy enough to fix, I suppose.”

The breeze picked up. The space beneath the apricot tree shimmered. Ripples warped the air like the heat over the barbecue when my father cooked. The sweet notes of wind chimes filled the yard. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t have any wind chimes. I whirled around to find the noise.

Under the branches appeared an enormous green dragon’s head. My mouth opened in a silent O and I held my breath.

Meet the Author:

Erika is a sixth generation San Franciscan of Irish descent. She attended the University of California at Davis and completed degrees in Medieval History and Biological Sciences. A lifelong lover of books and a scribbler of many tales from a young age (her first story was completed at age five) she turned to writing full-time in 2011.Erika resides in Northern California with her incredibly hot husband, their three amazing kids, and their chocolate Labrador named Selkie. To reach Erika regarding her books, wine recommendations, or to debate which Iron Maiden album is the best (clearly, it’s Brave New World), you can find her online at

• • •

• Find Erika Online •

The Writers’ Group

The steps to getting published, and avoiding the traps!

I’ve said this before, in fact I’ve said it several times, but apparently it needs repeating because over the past few days I have seen numerous posts on social media from unpublished authors who have been offered “contracts” by “publishers”. Why am I using speech marks? Because you have not been offered a contract by a traditional publisher, you have been offered a service by a vanity press, and yes, there is a HUGE difference.

I’ve been in this industry for a long time now. I’m published both traditionally and self, and the only time I have had to pay for anything to do with getting my book published, is when I did it myself. I work with three traditional publishers: Tirgearr Publishing, Totally Bound Publishing, and Evernight Publishing, and not once have I had to pay for anything other than private marketing, which I have done off my own back.


So what should you be paying for? Well, when it comes to publishing a book there are several steps that need to be taken before it gets put on a shelf:

Write your story

Now write it again. Honestly, the first draft should never be the one you send out. To anyone! The first draft of a novel is a secret that only you should read. Why? Because it’s likely to be filled with unnecessary paragraphs, chapters and even characters. Read over it, and you will probably stumble into a plot hole along the way. Write your story, leave it for a few days, then read over it and fix everything you can.

Self editing

If you’re experienced in editing, you might find this stage slightly easier than other writers. Don’t rely on spellcheck to pick up on all your mistakes. There are plenty of apps and software out there that can help. Personally, I use Grammarly to go over my work and pick up on typos and misplaced commas. Whatever your process, self editing your work is a skill that develops over time and will improve with practice. You need to be harsh with yourself and try to read your book through different eyes. If you picked this book up and had paid good money for it, does it meet up to your standards as a reader?

Beta reading

Time to get your book out into the world.  A lot of authors rely on their mums or best-friends, which is where they fall. People who know you and love you, and want you to succeed, are going to tell you it’s great. You need to find a beta reader, or four, who has experience reading your genre, and can look it without bias. I highly suggest joining your local creative writers group. Read snippets out and get their advice, or buddy up with another writer and ask them to look over it.

Edit it again

Now it’s back from your beta reader, it’s time to take their notes and re-edit. Did they pick up on grammatical errors? Was there a plot hole you missed? Was there something that jarred with them? Fix it, because if they picked up on it, agents and publishers will too.

How are you publishing it?

Do you want to self-publish or find a traditional publisher? Speaking from experience, both routes are hard work, but self-publishing is definitely harder. If you self-publish, you will need to pay for everything yourself. You will need to be ruthless when it comes to editing and fine-tuning and cover design. You will need to understand the industry, know how to market and promote your book and monitor sales records. But, if you want to be traditionally published, then you will need to grow a thick skin and be prepared for rejection.

For the love of all that is good, do not go down the self-publishing route because you’ve been rejected. If publishers and agents said “no thanks”, it’s because your synopsis didn’t catch their attention or your opening chapters weren’t up to par. People will tell you not to take it personally, but you should. I’m sorry if that seems harsh, but the fact is that your book just might not be good enough and sellable. Of course, it’s possible that it hit the slush pile and you got a form rejection letter, but take another look at it. Can it be improved? Don’t give up, just don’t throw your toys out of the metaphorical pram and decide you know better than people who have been working in this industry for a hell of a lot longer than you.

However, do not fall into the trap of vanity press. If your chosen publisher says they’d love to offer you a contract, and you only have to pay £X, run. Run fast and don’t look back. No good publisher will ever ask you to pay for editing, cover design, or put money towards printing/publishing costs. EVER.


Yup. Time to edit again. Traditional publishers will assign an editor to you, who you will work with for several weeks until it is polished and scrubbed. If you’re self-publishing you’ll need to find someone to do it for you. DO NOT do it yourself. DO NOT let your best-friend do it (unless they are trained and qualified). Pay for it. Don’t be an idiot and think you can do it without help, because you can’t. I’ve been working as an editor for 11 years. I spent four years doing my degree, on top of several years of training, CPD, and work experience. I still wouldn’t publish a book that hadn’t been edited by someone else, because there will always be something you miss.

Trust me, I’ve read self-published books that have been self-edited, and I can tell within the first chapter. I don’t care if you think you’re good or if you’ve been doing it for years. And I don’t care if I personally know you. If you think you can self-edit and have a well-polished book at the end of it, you’re an idiot, and an arrogant one to boot. Self-editing is why the self-publishing industry has such a terrible reputation, because people write a book, stick it up without a thought, and readers cry into their cornflakes at all the terrible spelling mistakes, excessive use of commas, unnecessary description, repeated phrases, and massive plot holes. Floating body parts, jumping POVs, and simultaneous actions are distracting and proof of bad-writing and a lack of editing. I know, because these are all things my editors pick up on, every single time I write a book, and they are things I’ve come across that have made me send a book back to Amazon and demand a refund.

Cover design

Again, traditional publishers will have this covered. And, again, don’t do it yourself unless you are actually good at it and experienced. If you do, you’ll end up on Tumblr’s list of bad covers. I’ll admit, I did do my own cover for ‘Later‘, but it took me a bloody long time, and I have done work as a cover designer. I’ve been using Photoshop for several years, editing images for my husband’s photography company. I’ve watched hours and hours of YouTube videos and studied books back-to-front. I’m still not 100% happy with it.

And, you have to pay for licenses to use images, fonts, brushes… the list is endless, and expensive. Oh, did you think you could Google an image and use that? Sorry, but no. Copyright laws exist, and using an image because it’s on Google is not good enough. As the wife of a photographer, I can tell you how heartbreaking it is to see an image that has been worked on, and posted on a public forum to show off your skills, to then be used by someone without your permission. Particularly if that person claims it as their own. Taking images you don’t have the right to use will lead to your book being taken down from sales sites, and your backside being sued by the original artist/photographer. There are sites you can use for ‘free for commercial use’ images, such as Pixabay and Pexels, but you still need to be careful and check the licenses.

It’s much easier (although more expensive) to hire a cover designer. They are professional and experienced. If your cover looks like it’s been made by a five-year-old using Paint, it won’t matter how good the story is, it won’t sell.

print poster


A traditional publisher will sort all this out, without charging you. Go and sit down and have a cup of tea. If you’re self-publishing, you need to look at your options. KDP is by far the easiest, and if you’re using Kindle Unlimited, you literally upload it to Amazon and boom. Done. Otherwise, upload to Amazon and somewhere like Smashwords, which will then upload it to sites like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, etc. Self-publishing an eBook is not hard.

Print, is slightly more difficult. Personally, I just use Amazon. You will need to order proofs, which again costs money, to make sure your cover is straight and the words are in order, etc. But there are other options, and it really is best to look around. You’ll need to purchase an ISBN for print books, which is provided for free through Smashwords and Amazon, but many self-published authors prefer to buy their own.

Getting your book actually onto physical shelves is not so easy. In the UK, bookshops rely on Betrams and Gardners. If your book is not listed with them, it’s unlikely to be ordered by bookshops, and will remain online only. You also need to comply with UK law by sending a copy to the Book Depository in Edinburgh. See HERE for more details. This is a legal requirement, and not something you can skip around, if you’re based in the UK. Research your own country for their laws.

You will also need to price your book. Don’t be ridiculous and think your 30k novella is worth £4.99. It’s not. Equally, don’t price your 100k novel at 99p. This devalues all the other titles on the shelf. Price appropriately, and in according to other titles in your genre of similar size.

Marketing & Promo

Even if you’re traditionally published, you will need to pay for some marketing and promotional work. Some authors are able to hire a PA to help with this, but it is possible to do it yourself. Look around for sites like BookBub, eReader News Today, eBook Discovery, and Book Barbarian, who are all good, reputable sites, with guaranteed sales. Fussy Librarian and eBook Soda used to be good, but their reputation has dropped of late, with less sales during promotional periods. Remember you get what you pay for, so if you use free sites, it’s likely that you won’t see anything come back.

You can also use services that do blog tours and review tours. These, again, cost money, but guarantee reviews and a blog spot. It’s unlikely these reviews will be placed on Amazon though, and you do run the risk of being put on an unseen blog.

Marketing and promotional work should be done continuously. It’s not something you can do once and then forget about.

Getting published is hard work, and anyone who tells you it’s easy is either lying or has never been published. Do not fall for the lines of “oh, you can edit it yourself”, or “but all publishers charge”. If you truly want your book to be read and enjoyed by others, work your backside off, and don’t let your baby go until it’s wings are fully developed.

Love Begins at 40 by Ann Burnett – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #romance

Buy Links:

Kindle USKindle UK


Maisie McLelland spent ten years building up McLelland Events in Glasgow and has just bought a holiday home in the relaxing small seaside town of Largs on the west coast of Scotland. She immediately befriends her elderly neighbour, the widow of a local fisherman.

When Elizabeth is in need of rescue, Maisie steps in to help. Elizabeth’s grateful son, teacher and lifeboatman, James, takes Maisie to dinner to show his appreciation. Maisie’s not looking for a relationship, and neither is James, as he’s still reeling from the loss of his son. They’re both surprised at the instant connection.

Over time, Maisie and James become friends and their closeness continues pulling them toward each other until emotion leads to intimacy. She agrees to help with the organisation of a Vilking Festival he is planning in the town.

But as Maisie approaches her 40th birthday, tragedy strikes a double blow, and she’s forced to make some important decisions about what she really wants from life.


‘What on earth have I done?’ she exclaimed as she looked about the half-empty room. This was not what she had planned, what she had looked forward to, what she had imagined in the evenings when the TV programmes were boring and she was sitting at home in her flat in Glasgow.

Where was the wee, whitewashed Highland cottage nestling into the glen, the purple heather-tinged mountains rising all around? Where was the burbling burn to supply fresh, clear water? The black-faced sheep munching close by? The sound of the distant bagpipes drifting through the quiet air? Her bolt hole, where she could escape when the pressures of her work in Glasgow became too much?

Maisie McLelland was 39, a successful businesswoman in Glasgow, with no ties and a bucket-list of what she wanted to achieve before she hit 40. Buying a second home, where she could go to relax away from the bustling city, was top priority. In fact, it was her only priority.

But here she was in another flat – smaller even than her Glasgow one – empty apart from a load of flatpack furniture piled high in the bedroom, and a sofa and two chairs wrapped in plastic sheeting in the lounge. She’d gone ahead and bought the property, despite the fact that it in no way resembled her long-held dreams of a Highland cottage far away from everyone and surrounded by hills.

Instead, this was an ordinary one-bedroom apartment, with magnolia-painted walls and a beige carpet throughout. The kitchen and bathroom were new, and white, and clean, and efficient. Nothing out of the ordinary; in fact, all very, very ordinary. Yet she’d known she had to buy it from the first moment she stepped out onto the balcony attached to the lounge.

‘Maisie McClelland,’ she had said to herself. ‘This is your idea of paradise. This is your dream.’

It was the breathtaking view that had sold the flat to her. Two flights up, she looked west across the glittering waters of the Firth of Clyde to the islands of Great and Wee Cumbrae, with the Isle of Bute behind, and further down the coast, the bulk of the Isle of Arran. Scotland in miniature, the adverts called Arran, with its mountain range at one end, and progressing gently down to rolling green fields at the other. She made a mental note to visit it one day, along with the other islands across the bay.

As she stood there, the sun was beginning its descent, and its rays bathed the islands in a golden light as they rose out of the sea. It was like no other view she had ever seen, and its beauty took her breath away.

So, there and then, she’d bought it. And now she was moving in. Except that all the furniture still had to be assembled.

Maisie wandered through to the bedroom and stared at the boxes, the packages, the pile of which would be her furniture and accessories, whenever she managed to put it all together. She’d got somewhat carried away on her visit to the large Swedish superstore in Glasgow where she’d bought it all, forgetting that most of it would have to be assembled.

First, though, a coffee would sustain her. But where was the coffee machine she had purchased, with a supply of coffee capsules? She raked through various boxes and bags, unearthing a couple of prints she’d thought would brighten up the plain walls, a large glass vase, and a magazine rack. But no sign of the coffee machine. She remembered, too, that she didn’t have any fresh milk or sugar. It might be easier to head out and find a place to sit while she gathered her strength.

Grabbing her coat, she marched out of the flat and pressed the button for the lift. And waited. And waited. Just then, the door of one of the other flats opened and a man came out, shouting ‘Cheerio!’ A large bear of a man, tall and muscular, with thick fair hair and an equally thick fair beard, and wearing a set of overalls. He was carrying a toolbox, and as Maisie spotted it, an idea struck her.

She smiled broadly at him as he approached the lift that had just arrived.

By the time they reached the ground floor, he had introduced himself as James Paterson and they had agreed he would come back the next day and, for a suitable payment, assemble all her furniture.

Meet the Author

Ann Burnett was born in Scotland where she now lives but has travelled extensively and lived in Canada and Australia.

She has published short stories, articles and children’s stories, as well as writing a novel, Loving Mother, as part of her Masters in Creative Writing. She is an experienced Creative Writing tutor and adjudicator for the Scottish Association of Writers.

Her short stories have been published in New Writing Scotland, Glasgow University Creative Writing anthologies, My Weekly, That’s Life (Australia), Woman’s Weekly and the Weekly News. Her collection of short stories, Take a Leaf out of My Book, is available on Amazon.

Her memoir, illustrated with her father’s photos, A Scottish Childhood, Growing up a Baby Boomer has just been published.

But perhaps she is best remembered for writing Postman Pat stories for a children’s comic every week for five years. A labour of love indeed!

• • •

• Find Ann Online •


Tirgearr Publishing’s City Nights series drops to #99p / #99c!

Tirgearr Publishing’s City Nights Series is a collection of standalone erotic romance e-novellas, each one taking place in a different city and over a period of 24-hours, and you can own all 35 books for under £35!

Each title has been reduced to 99p / 99c across the vendors. INCLUDING my own titles, Inverness, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh!


Buy Links:

Tirgearr Publishing

Amazon UK

Amazon US