**FINALIST** Page Turner Awards 2023

I’m excited to announce that WHEEL OF FORTUNE is a **finalist** in the Page Turner Awards 2023 for best historical novel! Or am I the finalist? Whichever it is, I am grateful to all those lovely readers who have voted for Isobel and me. Let’s face it, poor Isobel needs all the help she can get if she is to make it to Book 2 in THE TARNISHED CROWN series…

If historical fiction is your thing, and you’re looking for an immersive story of intense love, loyalty and treachery during the 15th century Wars of the Roses, you can find Isobel and WHEEL OF FORTUNE as a paperback and ebook at Amazon.

Authentically You: Writing, Genre & Identity.


Understanding your writing, genre and identity is key to describing your latest book. In an interesting on-line discussion the other day, the question of self-identity came up. This was in relation to how we view ourselves in terms of being ‘human’ and our ‘gender’. This, in turn, had me thinking about something authors are frequently asked: Who do you write like? How does a writer categorise their book’s genre and identity? What makes them authentically you?

The question often stems from people wanting to get their heads around what you write. This gives them an idea of your genre  and whether your books are ones they might read. Fair enough.

For publishers, the question is more pragmatic and commercial: who is the target readership and on what shelf of the bookshop is your book going to sit? After all, a publisher wants to sell your books, so knowing the answer to both of the above is one step on the ladder to publication.

The answer to the question of genre is all your potential readers need to know. The question of how it reads is what they will find out when they pick up a copy of your book. You cannot write like anybody else; your style is authentically you.

The question therefore is twofold: What is your genre? and to whom will  your writing style appeal?

Asking a writer to identify the author whose books most closely resemble their own is more difficult than it first might seem. When originally asked the question I must have looked like a rabbit in the headlights. I honestly couldn’t say. It helped when my editor, quite unsolicited, described my style as being similar to P.D. James and, oddly enough, someone else said the same in an unrelated conversation. At least I could now come up with a name. But did it really represent  my books?

The second question, that of genre, also proved to be tricky to pin down – important if your book is being entered for awards. Nobody likes picking up a mug of tea only to discover it’s coffee instead. Getting the genre – or genres – of your book right is just as important. Classifying a romantic-mystery-suspense with a paranormal-and-historical twist is a bit of a mouthful. My publisher entered Mortal Fire in the Adult Romance catagory of the Book of the Year Awards. The genre didn’t quite cover all the bases, but Mortal Fire won GOLD nonetheless, so must have ticked at least some of the boxes.

The current series should be easier – a straightforward historical novel. Yes, but historical romance? Historical suspense? Historical blood-and-guts? A bit of all the above is the answer. You see the problem.

It’s not straightforward at all, so perhaps the other way to look at this classification issue is to ask people who have read the books. The following excerpts have been taken from reader reviews on Amazon for Mortal Fire:

Thoroughly recommend if you enjoy a bit of history, a touch of romance, mystery and maybe some crime too.’

‘Romance and mystery, a perfect combination in this page turner of a novel.’

‘The author conveys the sense of mystery and tension brilliantly. She has researched the 17th century very well.’

‘I was entranced by Moral Fire by CF Dunn. It brings together all my favourite themes: romance, murder-mystery-suspence, history and an elusive “extra” that has not been fully disclosed in this first book in a series… time travel?’

‘This book is both a thriller and romance with the undertones of Du Maurier’s Rebecca.’


There we have it. From the point of view of readers (and they are the ones that count), The Secret of the Journal series is a romantic mystery-suspense with a historical twist and might be found on the same shelf as Daphne Du Maurier.

So, how do you categorise your book – simply and succinctly – when someone (reader/agent/publisher/film producer) comes up to you at a party and asks that question? Seperating the question into two distinct parts makes it easier to answer:

Q. ‘Hi. I understand you are writing a book – what sort do you write?’

A. ‘Hi’ you say, quick as a flash and with a confident smile. ‘I write books of…

Q. Who do you write like?

A. I write like me, of course, you might secretly think, but seemlessly reply, ‘You will find me on the shelf next to…’  At which point the reader/agent/publisher declares an undying interest in everything you’ve written and you have a fan for life. No? Well, perhaps you’ve managed to tickle their curiosity and that’s the first step, but getting the pitch right? That’s entirely another road for a future post.





Welcome to My World with Guest Author, Tamara Tilley

 I am delighted to have novelist Tamara Tilley join me all the way from the United States as my guest. Author of page-turning fiction, Tamara is also rated as in the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads – an accolade earned through her thorough and insightful reviews of fiction in many genres.

Tamara has been writing since 2003 in the Christian/Romance/Suspense genre. The characters she creates are never perfect (thank goodness) but it’s their flaws that make them real. She is passionate about reading and excited to see the strides Christian artists are making in the self-publishing field. With her husband, she lives and works at Hume Lake Christian Camps where they have been full-time staff ministering there for over twenty years.


You write in a very specific genre. What made you choose this area? The first time I picked up a book to read for pleasure (something I didn’t think was possible), it was Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. As you can imagine, I was hooked. Years later, I had an idea for a story and started writing, not knowing if I would be able to finish it. That was the start of my writing journey.

How do you get ideas for plots? Without sounding too weird, they just come to me. I have numerous concepts from simple outlines to page counts up to 300 that I have yet to complete. 

Characters are central to a story. How do you develop yours? I start with a general idea—what their weaknesses are or what they’re dealing with in life—and they kind of fill in the blanks.

Many authors say they have always wanted to write – is this true of you? No. The complete opposite. My weakest subjects in high school were English and Literature. I barely passed with “C’s”. I hated reading and thought “reading for pleasure” was an oxymoron. I was a math major and still consider that my strength. Even so, now I love starting a story and seeing where it goes. 

When did you first start writing? 2003

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing? Well, since I only write it in my free time, my true job is as a retail manager at Hume Lake Christian Camps and my other hobby is making greeting cards.

How do you get into writing mode? A clean house (so I don’t feel guilty that I am fudging my real responsibilities), a comfy chair, and an idea.

If your latest book REUNION was adapted to film, who would play the lead role? Kate Hudson and Taylor Kinney (T.V. show Chicago Fire). 

Plotter of pantser? Do you have a full draft or let it develop as you write? Total pantser. I never know when I start a story where it’s going to end.

Do your characters usually behave or do they sometimes take you by surprise and do their own thing? They definitely have their way with me. When I’ve tried to explain to people that characters sometimes take on a life of their own, they look at me like I’m crazy. But other writers totally get it.

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred? I wouldn’t necessarily say blurred, maybe believable or real. My book One Saturday is about a woman who has suffered a physical assault. One reader was so concerned that I was speaking from experience, she wanted to make sure I was okay. I took it as a compliment.  

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure? Romance-suspense. I definitely like suspense and intrigue with my romance. I’m not into cozy or sappy. I like grit. I like characters that are flawed and don’t have all the answers.

Do you have a favourite author and why? I definitely have favorite(s). I would say Dee Henderson’s The O’Malley Series is what inspired me to first start writing. But other authors I love to read are (in no special order): Marylu Tyndall, Ronie Kendig, Janice Cantore, Susan May Warren, Dani Pettrey, DiAnn Mills, and Lynette Eason. And self-published authors Sally Bradley and Amy Matayo.


I used to say that I didn’t like the genres of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or period pieces. But Marylu Tyndall introduced me to mermaids and archers. Tamara Leigh introduced me to medieval heroes and heroines. And, last but not least, C.F. Dunn introduced me to those things that cannot be explained. I remember when I was sent Death Be Not Proud for review purposes. When I started reading it, I wasn’t thrilled that it had a paranormal bent to it, but I continued because of my agreement to write a review. I became completely consumed by it. I was enthralled with the characters and the escalation of danger and passion. Your writing is so articulate and intelligent. Your characters have flaws and obstacles that make them real and relatable. The entire series is one of the best I have read, and one of very few series I have on my re-read list. You definitely stretched my boundaries and my thinking. 

What do you think of the rising field of self-publishing? I absolutely love it. I feel it has expanded the options for Christian readers. I understand that Christian publishers have to market to the broadest possible audience, and by doing so, they have strict guidelines on content and storylines. Unfortunately, I feel that doesn’t always allow for authenticity and reality. Christians stumble and fall. Christians don’t always do or say the right thing. We are immersed in a world that straddles the fence and makes excuses for wrong choices. To write stories that ignore the realities of life or portray heroes and heroines that can do no wrong, makes them unrelatable. Yes, I read for escapism, but not into a world that insults my intelligence. The expansion of self-published books from Christian authors have bridged a gap for those of us who want a little more realism in our novels without having to sift through the tawdry or inappropriate. To clarify – I never glorify sin in my novels, I just don’t ignore it.