Let’s Get Published by Val Penny

I am thrilled to announce that my first non-fiction book, Let’s Get Published, is available. I do hope it will be helpful to many people.

The Blurb

At last, a book that is easy to read and tells it how it is!

A book written to assist authors maximise their success when submitting work to agents or publishers, to help authors consider their priorities and preferences for getting work into print. To advise authors how to identify the agents and/or publishers they want to approach. It should also assist with editing their manuscript fully prior to submission. The book offers advice about how to prepare a submission package to give an author the best chance of success.

The road to becoming a successful author is not easy, but it is rewarding. Let this book take you on the journey.

Let's Get Published

The Excerpt

Many people say anybody can write a book.  Most of these individuals have never tried to write one. Alternatively, it is often said that everybody has a book inside of them. That is simply not true. This is repeated and belittles the achievements of authors.

In truth, it is a very hard thing to write a book. Most people never attempt it, fewer still succeed in getting published. But if you have written a novel, or novella, or perhaps compiled a collection of short stories, poems or flash fiction, this book may help you with the next step. It is primarily intended for authors of fiction who have completed a draft of their novel and who are now looking to prepare it for submission to agents or publishers.

Of course, it may also aid poets, short story writers and authors of non-fiction. It is designed to facilitate authors in maximising their success when submitting work to agents or publishers. It is to help authors consider their priorities and preferences for getting work into print and identify the agents and/or publishers they want to approach. It should also assist with editing their manuscript fully prior to submission and preparing their submission package to give them the best chance of success.

Writing a novel is hard work.

Completing even the first rough draft of a novel can take months or even years, particularly if you are trying to fit your writing in amongst work or other commitments. It is definitely a marathon, not a sprint and requires dedication and persistence. The American writer Richard Bach who is widely known as the author of some of the 1970s’ biggest sellers, including Jonathan Livingston Seagull once said,

‘A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit’.

If you have finished the first draft of your novel and, like all writers, you now want it to reach the widest possible readership. It has to be published so that other people can read your book and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Getting your book published is likely to be even harder work than writing it. We have all heard the stories of the multiple rejections received by now best-selling authors including Kathryn Stockett who wrote The Help, also Stephen King’s bestselling novel, Carrie, was rejected over thirty times and even J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels were rejected on numerous occasions before Bloomsbury took a chance on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. No matter how good your book might be, to get it published you will need the same level of determination, resilience, hard work and careful planning that you harnessed to write it.

Nevertheless, there is good news. There are now more routes to publication than ever before. Even just a few years ago, the market was dominated by a small number of publishing houses, most of which refused to consider any submission that was not made by a literary agent. Then, most literary agents either had full client lists and, if they did not, they were loath to take on new or unknown authors.

This situation has changed dramatically. Of course, the major publishing houses still exist, but even their attitude to agents and new authors has mellowed. Many of them now have imprints that accept submissions direct from the author. In addition to this there is a growing number of independent publishers. Most of these accept either agented or unagented submissions. They take advantage of the comparatively low costs available when publishing and distributing e-books, in preference to or as well as often offering paperbacks, on a print on demand basis. This model allows the independent publishers to provide a more responsive and faster service both to their authors and readers.

The Link


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The Author

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, novels and now this work of non-fiction.

Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force and Hunter’s Blood form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke Books. The fifth novel in the series, Hunter’s Secret, is to be published by darkstroke and available to pre-order now. This book is her first work of non-fiction.

Val Penny

Love’s Child by Lizzie Chantree

I have read several books by Lizzie Chantree and always enjoyed them, Love’s Child was no different. This is a fabulous, feel good book with an amazingly satisfying twist at the end.

The story in Love’s Child revolves around David Love and his pregnant girlfriend, Tilly. They have everything the wealthy socialite Jemima Trent wants. She is desperate to have a designer baby to keep up with her fancy friends and regain the spark of love with her busy, handsome husband, Lucas. Jemima also yearns to get some respect from her domineering father Edward.

The population is in decline because the number of women able to conceive each year is falling, but no one seems to know why. Edward’s company scientist, Dr Cole, believes that the answer can be found in David and Tilly’s warehouse where they have featured in the newspapers because they have turned so many youngsters’ lives around.

Dr Cole’s violent and callous employer, Edward, will stop at nothing to discover the reason behind David and Tilly’s success after he discovers that the girls at the warehouse are able to fall pregnant easily.

Jemima finally tries to step out of her father’s shadow, but discovers that she is more like him than she could ever imagine. David and Tilly vow to keep their secret, but the lessons of the past must be learned and the world needs to become ready for their truth.

This is an excellent novel which is both sensitive and powerful. It would be a great book group read because it would lend itself to varied conversation on the themes and the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed Love’s Child and highly recommend it.

The Author

Award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other.

She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her website at http://www.lizziechantree.com or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree

The One From The Other by Philip Kerr

I had not read anything by this author before, but this book was highly recommended to me by a good-looking man in a charity shop. Unfortunately, our taste in literature is not similar. This is the fourth book where the main protagonist is Bernie Gunther. Maybe I should have started at the beginning of the series, because I found The One From The Other by Philip Kerr confusing and very hard work. It may be of interest to those interested in WWII mysteries, but I cannot recommend it as I did not enjoy this book.

The Blurb

Bernie Gunther is the ideal narrator for Philip Kerr’s bleak tale of the dirty deals made by victors and vanquished alike in post-war Germany. Having learned that there’s no way to distinguish ‘the one from the other’, the cynical P.I. has the moral clarity to see through the deceit and hypocrisy of both friend and foe.

Munich, 1949: Amid the chaos of defeat, it’s home to all the backstabbing intrigue that prospers in the aftermath of war. A place where a private eye can find a lot of not-quite-reputable work: cleaning up the Nazi past of well-to-do locals, abetting fugitives in the flight abroad, sorting out rival claims to stolen goods. It’s work that fills Bernie with disgust – but it also fills his sorely depleted wallet. Then a woman seeks him out. Her husband has disappeared. She’s not looking to get him back – he’s a wanted man who ran one of the most vicious concentration camps in Poland. She just wants confirmation that he’s dead.

The Author

For most novelists, the city where the action takes place is a backdrop or a stage set, nothing more than scenery. But the Berlin of Philip Kerr’s stories is a character in the books – a personality as complex and troubled as his private-investigator protagonist. ‘When I started writing I was after the character of the Berliner rather than the history of Berlin,’ says Kerr. ‘Berlin people have always been awkward-squad Germans, which is probably why I admire them. Hitler didn’t like them at all, and Berliners are the same now as then – they haven’t changed.’

Val Penny

Revelation by Jo Fenton

I have always enjoyed the books by Jo Fenton that I have read and her most recent book, Revelation, was no exception.

The action takes place around a university setting in Manchester. The students are shocked by the apparent suicide of one of their number and the student, Rick, is found dead in halls of residence and then his friends got caught up in the aftermath largely because Dan was in love with Rick and Becky is in love with Dan.

Their emotional journey leads them to dark places connected with to a mysterious Kabbalistic sect and Becky sets out to discover the cause of Rick’s death and to save Dan from an impossible situation.

I particularly enjoyed this novel because of the interwoven characters, interesting setting and description of rituals of the Kabbal sect. This ook would make an excellent book club read and I highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys taught, well written mysteries.

The Author

Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.
When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.

Val Penny

The Daughter of Lady Macbeth by Ajay Close

This book was by an author new to me and outside my usual genre reading. It explores the relationship between parents and children and the importance of motherhood.

Freya and Frankie’s longing for a baby has put their marriage under strain. IVF is their last hope – but how do you bring a child into the world if you don’t know who you are? Freya’s mother Lilias (an actress on and off stage) will tell her nothing about her father, not even his name. When Freya signs on at a fertility clinic, she discovers a new capacity for deception in herself, while Lilias is forced to confront the limits of pretence. As the lies and secrets unravel, it seems mother and daughter have more in common than either of them suspects.

I found the book interesting, but rather slow and predictable in parts and confusing in others. It did not make me want to seek out other books by the author. However, The Daughter of Lady Macbeth might make for good discussions in a book group.

The Author

Ajay Close is a Scottish-based dramatist and writer of literary fiction. Her novels explore the emotional flashpoints of place, politics and family. Her latest, What We Did in the Dark, was inspired by the 20th century Scottish writer Catherine Carswell and her disastrous first marriage to a man who tried to strangle her. (‘Profound and moving… I couldn’t stop reading it,’ James Robertson.)

The Daughter of Lady Macbeth (‘sensual, wise and raw,’ Rosemary Goring), explores love, family, and the kernel of mystery in the people we think we know inside out.


Val Penny

A Place of Reckoning by J. F.Burgess

It is lovely to be involved with author JF Burgess and Love Book Tours for the launch of the second Detective Tom Blake novel, A Place of Reckoning.


Three women. Two bodies. One deadly secret.

Pottery tycoon Charles Lancaster knows who kidnapped his wife.

He’s sure it was the brutally dangerous ex bare-knuckle fighter, Patrick Dunne. Patrick promised to avenge his son who died in a tragic accident in one of Charles’ factories. It’s an open and shut case…

 …until a headless body turns up in a remote Peak District pool, its back tattooed with a cryptic Tarot card. As Detective Inspector Tom Blake and FBI profiler Lucy Stryker dig into the mystery, they unearth long-buried secrets about an historic conspiracy and a clandestine cult. But with a sadistic killer on the loose, and everyone hiding things, it’s not just the victim’s life that hangs in the balance. Will anyone get out alive?


JF Burgess is the author of the author of the DI Tom Blake series of crime novels. You can get in touch with him here


Author website — https://www.jfburgess.co.uk/

Book GIVEAWAYS: join his Reader’s Newsletter and you’ll automatically be entered into regular giveaway competitions, which include signed copies of his books and other bestsellers. https://www.jfburgess.co.uk/giveaways

Twitter — https://twitter.com/burgess1012

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100019097594198

The DI Tom Blake series is set in the gritty, industrial five towns of Stoke on Trent, with two books in the series. Book three is coming soon, along with a FREE novella.

The crime series of police procedurals features widowed Detective Tom Blake and his faithful Sergeant John Murphy, investigating local crimes, often with wider connections to national and international criminal networks to people trafficking, organised crime, murder, prostitution, and domestic abuse.

The first book, “The Killer Shadow Thieves”, has been downloaded over 3000 times, hitting the top of Amazons UK crime categories three times.

The follow-up, A Place of Reckoning, is a cult serial killer thriller with a 200-year-old secret at the heart of a plot full of unexpected twists, which push the relationships of a rich pottery family into life-threatening conflicts. This has also hit the top 100 of Amazons UK crime categories three times.

The author lives in Stoke on Trent, England, with his wife and two kids. He write tense, gripping, crime fiction mysteries with a twist – or urban crossbreed, as he calls it. His thrillers take you deep inside the criminal mind.

Val Penny

The Gossips’ Choice by Sara Read

I am thrilled to be included in the launch of the new book by Sara Read, The Gossips’ Choice. Love Book Tours Group has put together an excellent tour and it is a privilege to take part.


“Call The Midwife for the 17th Century” 

Lucie Smith is a respected midwife who is married to Jacob, the town apothecary. They live happily together at the shop with the sign of the Three Doves. But sixteen-sixty-five proves a troublesome year for the couple. Lucie is called to a birth at the local Manor House and Jacob objects to her involvement with their former opponents in the English Civil Wars. Their only-surviving son Simon flees plague-ridden London for his country hometown, only to argue with his father. Lucie also has to manage her husband’s fury at the news of their loyal housemaid’s unplanned pregnancy and its repercussions.

The year draws to a close with the first-ever accusation of malpractice against Lucie, which could see her lose her midwifery licence, or even face ex-communication.

The Excerpt

It was not just local events that were on people’s minds: news had reached Tupingham, through a letter to Simon with the last two Weekly Bills enclosed, that in the last week of August over six thousand Londoners had succumbed to the plague. Simon’s correspondent claimed that locals were convinced the figure was nearer ten thousand, partly because deaths of members of non-conformist congregations were not entered into the parish records, and also because parish clerks were less than eager to admit the severity of the visitation in their neighbourhood. The second Bill, from the following week, was just as bleak. People would ask one another in the street how many were dying in the country as a whole, as the contagion was processing up and down the land. It was almost unimaginable, because while the plague broke out every generation, the numbers on these bills were unlike anything anyone had seen before. Jasper could just about remember the outbreak back in 1625 when he was an apprentice, but knew nothing like this.

Simon’s correspondent wrote that death was the only topic of conversation, and that everyone looked weary, and wary of one another. It also brought the news that Dr Burnett, a physician of Jasper’s acquaintance, had died. This was a shock, as Burnett’s man had died of the plague some weeks before and Burnett’s house had been recently reopened after the long days of quarantine were up. Physicians and other healers were getting a bad name for fleeing the city – with most of those who could afford to leaving, but the ones who stayed appeared to be paying the highest price. Jasper declared that they needed to pray harder that it stay away from Tupingham. He wasn’t greatly afeared for himself particularly, as he had lived through it as a youth, therefore considered himself less disposed to contract this contagion than others, but he had seen firsthand the destruction and sorrow the pest wrought.

The Author

Dr Sara Read is a lecturer in English at Loughborough University. Her research is in the cultural representations of women, bodies and health in the early modern era. 

She has published widely in this area with her first book Menstruation and the Female Body in Early Modern England being published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.

She is a member of the organising committee of the Women’s Studies Group, 1558-1837 and recently co-edited a special collection produced to celebrate the group’s 30th anniversary. 

She is also the co-editor of the popular Early Modern Medicine blog. With founding editor Dr Jennifer Evans, Sara wrote a book about health and disease in this era Maladies and Medicine: Exploring Health and Healing, 1540-1740 (Pen and Sword 2017). 

Sara regularly writes for history magazines such as Discover Your Ancestors and History Today. In 2017 she published an article ‘My Ancestor was a Midwife’ tracing the history of the midwifery profession for Who Do You Think You Are? magazine in 2017. She has appeared on BBC Radio 3’s Freethinking programme and is often to be heard on BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio WM.

Follow Sara on Twitter @saralread

Buy Link 


Contact Details





Ben In The World by Doris Lessing

A few weeks ago, the first book in this series, The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing, was book of the month at our book group. One of our members had read this sequel to Ben’s story and so a few of us decided to read Ben in the World too. It is a very short book, a novella rather than a novel.

Ben is now grown to legal maturity, and is the central character of this sequel, Ben in the World, which picks up the story at the end of the childhood where the first book ended and takes our primal, misunderstood, maladjusted teenager out into the world, where again he meets mostly with mockery, fear and incomprehension but with just enough kindness and openness to keep him afloat as his adventures take him from London to the South of France and on to South America in his restless quest for community, companionship and peace.

Doris Lessing uses a plain, unadorned prose and the reader has a childlike perspective at the heart of the book. The world in all its malevolence and misapprehenison swirls around at the edge, while, occasionally, a strong character steps forward to try to stake out some values and practise some good behaviour. 

Like The Fifth Child, this is not a cheery book. It’s themes of discrimination, cruelty, poverty and insecurity are sometimes hard to read about. Nevertheless, Ben in the World is worth reading, even if the ending is a bit predictable.

The Author

Both of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia; her mother had been a nurse. In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school (such as Olive Schreiner and Nadine Gordimer), Lessing made herself into a self-educated intellectual.

In 1937 she moved to Salisbury, where she worked as a telephone operator for a year. At nineteen, she married Frank Wisdom, and later had two children. A few years later, feeling trapped in a persona that she feared would destroy her, she left her family, remaining in Salisbury. Soon she was drawn to the like-minded members of the Left Book Club, a group of Communists “who read everything, and who did not think it remarkable to read.” Gottfried Lessing was a central member of the group; shortly after she joined, they married and had a son.

Val Penny

City of Sinners by A.A.Dhand

Amit Dhand is an author I discovered a couple of years ago when he spoke at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. He writes very dark, violent crime novels set in Bradford, England. He also weaves in very interesting personal back stories for his characters.

City of Sinners is the third book in his Harry Virdee series. Each book would work as a stand alone, but why would you deny yourself the pleasure of reading the series?

This story starts on a cold Bradford morning. Police cars hurriedly pull up in the centre of town, but none of their lights are flashing but the sirens are silent because a body has been found, elaborately and painstakingly positioned to send a message. It is DI Harry Virdee’s job to find out what that message is. But Harry does not know that the killer is watching him, that the killer is coming for him because this is personal.

I found City of Sinners even more gripping than the previous two novels (Although these were also excellent). The reader is taken to the Asian community in Bradford; and there is a series of murders, interspersed with family issues that Harry has to contend with. This time Harry is specifically targeted by the killer.

I have to admit to guessing the reason for this targeting long before it was finally revealed, but this did not spoil the story in any way. City of Sinners is a thoroughly gripping read that I could not put down.

Some of the descriptions are gruesome, but if you can cope with that, I highly recommend it.

The Author

A.A. Dhand was raised in Bradford and spent his youth observing the city from behind the counter of a small convenience store. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he worked in London and travelled extensively before returning to Bradford to start his own business and begin writing. The history, diversity and darkness of the city have inspired his Harry Virdee novels.

Val Penny

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I was given this book for Christmas by my daughter. It is one of her favourites and I was charged with reading and reviewing it.

I have to admit that when I started The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle I found it really hard going and could not understand its appeal. The story is set at a party thrown by her parents, where Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed – again. In fact she has been murdered hundreds of times, and every day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. The only way to break this cycle is for him to identify Evelyn’s killer. But when every day begins, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different party guest and someone is desperate to stop him ever escaping Blackheath.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is one of those books you stay up until 2 AM reading and then spend the next day thinking about. It is complex and really confusing in parts but it is definitely worth persevering and reading to the end.

I will not write a summary or any thoughts because the less you know about the story going in to it, the better. I will just say this, the idea of this book is really compelling and if you like a good murder mystery then this book is definitely for you.

The Author

Stuart lives in London with his amazing wife and daughter. He drinks lots of tea. ​When he left university he went travelling for three months and stayed away for five years. Every time his parents asked when he’d be back he told them next week, and meant it. Stuart is not to be trusted. In the nicest possible way.

He’s got a degree in English and Philosophy, which makes him excellent at arguing and terrible at choosing degrees. Having trained for no particular career, he has dabbled in most of them. He stocked shelves in a Darwin bookshop, taught English in Shanghai, worked for a technology magazine in London, wrote travel articles in Dubai, and now he’s a freelance journalist. None of this was planned, he just kept getting lost on his way to other places.

He likes a chat. He likes books. He likes people who write books and people who read books. He doesn’t know how to write a biography, so should probably stop before he tells you about his dreams or something. It was lovely to meet you, though. Stuart’s debut novel is called The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Val Penny