Bestsellerdom and the power of mailing lists

A couple of my books – Please Release Me and Girl Having A Ball were reduced to 99p over Easter on the UK Kobo site. Amazon was (still is) price matching. And then, earlier this evening, this happened:

Screenshot 2017-04-20 at 20.01.06

Which means I’m a bona fide bestseller (in fantasy, if not romance). The book has a ghost as a main character – hence the fantasy listing.

Girl Having A Ball, on the other hand, is languishing much further down the charts.

What made the difference? Kobo included the cover of Please Release Me in a message to their mailing list.

Um… there isn’t really a point to this post as such. Just a little squee on the ranking and a nod to the power of mailing lists.

Speaking of mailing lists, you can get a free short story (which is not available elsewhere) if you sign up to mine… hint, hint.


Bacteria inspired names and GBBO – a podcast

A few months ago Sarah from Smart Bitches Trashy Books reviewed Please Release Me. She also contacted me and asked if I would do a podcast for her blog. It’s gone live today!

For those who aren’t followers for the affectionately named ‘Bitchery’, it’s a blog about romance novels written by a group of very smart women who read romance because it’s fun. They also read high brow literary fiction, but, you know, romance is where the heart is.

Anyway. Sarah and I talked about all kinds of things – like how romance is defined in the US vs UK markets, how jacket covers differ in the two countries, the diversity debate that is currently rocking the US romance publishing world (but hasn’t quite reached here yet) and the lack of scientists in romance novels until The Big Bang Theory came along. Because we both like cake, we also discussed gin and tonic cupcakes. It seemed rude not to.

I’m off to jump up and down in an excited manner for a few minutes now. If you listen to the podcast, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought! Especially  if you know any good recipes for cupcakes.



Please Release Me is out in paperback

You’ve probably heard me mention Please Release Me before – the one with the ghost and the hospice… yes, well, it’s out in paperback today! That’s all I had to say really. If anyone needs me, I’m going to be eating my way through a very LARGE chocolate cake to celebrate.


Here are some nice things people have been saying about Please Release Me.

“…well handled with an almost perfect portrayal of grief.” Gen Boleyn, Goodreads.

“A richness of characters and plot which are seldom found in contemporary romance” Long And Short Reviews. 4.5* (and two teapots)

“If you like contemporary romance or Choc Lit, then this is the book for you. Job well done Rhoda Baxter” Monica, Goodreads review.

“Tackles some really heavy themes… deftly, and with sensitivity and humour.” Keira, Goodreads

“There are no limits on emotions in this one. And by the ending you will have experience a unique love story that will stay with you long after the final page.” Keeper Bookshelf, 5 stars

“It is a well-written tightly woven plot full of astonishing surprises. Even more is the surprise of the emotional gamut I ran through while reading this book; sad one minute, smiling the next, then mad a few times too with everything in between along the way.” Susan, Amazon review (5 stars)

“On the surface this seems a light and fluffy read but there is much more going on.” Barb Taub (3 stars)

“This isn’t a conventional triangular story, it’s the product of an exceptional imagination, but totally believable and so beautifully handled.” Amazon Review, 5 stars.

Thank you to everyone who left a review or simply told people about the book. There’s loads more reviews on Amazon. Go check them out.

As always, I will donate 50% of my royalties from the books to Martin House Children’s Hospice.

World Mental Health Day – Depression

It’s World Mental Health Day. So I’d like to talk about it.

I’m a writer and I have been depressed. I can’t say this would surprise anyone, because we creative types, we’re prone to this sort of thing. The problems I have aren’t unique, other people have them and other people manage fine. Or, at least, they APPEAR to manage fine.

It wasn’t until I finally admitted I needed help and saw a counselor that I realised that ‘other people manage’ didn’t mean that I could. That ‘getting through the day’ wasn’t how I’d always lived my life. That it was okay to admit to being ‘weak’.

When I told work, my line manager said, ‘but I had no idea. You seemed so normal’. It was then that I realised that I too had seemed like one of those people who managed. Even though I really wasn’t managing very well at all.

I’ve talked before about how Please Release Me was inspired by a single image. The other basis for it was my counselor’s suggestion that I use my writing as catharsis. Underneath the story runs a theme of depression. Peter, the hero, is depressed. Depression is a many headed beastie. It’s not, as some people seem to think, all about bursting into tears  a lot and forgetting to wash (apart from when it is).

Sometimes it feels like this:

He felt like a selfish wanker, but he’d done the right thing. He was walking such a tightrope between coping and going mad with worry that he had to be careful. Too much stress and things could go very wrong. Sally was an orphan. She had no one else to depend on. He had to be there and be fit to look after her when she came round. He couldn’t make commitments he couldn’t keep.

He watched Grace walk, her plait swinging, across the car park. Yes. He had done the right thing. He sighed and went to his own car. So why did he feel like such a git?

Other times like this:

Peter forced a smile. ‘Yes. I’m doing okay. Just, you know, tired.’ He knew better than to say how he really felt. The last time he’d done that various people had pestered him until he agreed to see a counsellor. It was nice that they cared, but really, the only thing that would help was Sally coming out of her coma. Unless they could do that for him, they were just wasting his time.

But most of the time, it was like this:

Peter frowned. Was that what he had been doing over the past year? Snatching emotions from the dead weight of weariness? Anger, denial, fear, despair. But not acceptance. Never acceptance. How could you accept something when you didn’t know what it was?

It’s only when you come out the other side that you realise how bad things had been. You brain is the thing that tells you how to look after yourself. But depression hits that very thing that is supposed to protect you. The worst part is knowing that if it happened once, it’s more likely to happen again.

It was hard writing a book that was so close to the bone. Writing is my escape and I made it more of the same. I don’t think I’ll be trying creative writing as catharsis again again. One reviewer said that Please Release Me was an almost perfect depiction of grief. It made me really happy when I read that. If just one person reads my book and feels that they aren’t alone, then it will have been worthwhile.

#Bookreview: Please Release Me—when sleeping beauty won’t wake up

What a lovely review! Please Release Me in the context of Fairy Tales.

Barb Taub

Why do we love fairy tales?

Some say they embody universal tropes that pass along the traditions of social messaging. Watch out for those who are different. Fear the unknown. Obey your mother, or the big bad wolf will eat you. Play your cards right, and a fairy (or a prince or an enchanted frog) will rescue you. Follow the rules, and you will live happily ever after.

But that can’t be the answer because fairy tales aren’t actually all that traditional. The ones our grandchildren hear are not the same ones our grandparents told, and they certainly bear little resemblance to their early versions. If the stories don’t change constantly, their meaning becomes irrelevant. All you have to do is go back and look at the original versions to see what I mean. In one of the earliest known sources for many of our familiar fairy tales, Giambattista Basile’s The…

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Please Release Me on Tour: A guest post on Being Anne

Today I’m talking to Anne at the Being Anne blog about why I’m donating 50% of my royalties from Please Release Me to Martin House Children’s Hospice.

You can read the story about a game of What’s the Time Mister Wolf at Anne’s blog:

Charity Reg. No. 517919, Company Limited by Guarantee, reg. no. 02016332, England & Wale
Charity Reg. No. 517919, Company Limited by Guarantee, reg. no. 02016332, England & Wales

#ReleaseMe blog splash -Please Release Me comes out today!

Book cover for Please Release Me - a bride at sunrise
Book cover for Please Release Me - a bride at sunrise
Please Release Me by Rhoda Baxter (Choc Lit)

Please Release Me is out today! Some of my fabulous writing friends are helping me celebrate.

Since all three main characters in Please Release Me are stuck in some way – Sally in a coma, Peter in limbo while he waits for his wife to wake up and Grace stuck in the rut of being a carer – I asked them to blog on the theme of being stuck. Their responses to the prompt are all so very different. Check the out and see for yourself.

If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, follow the #ReleaseMe tag to join in the fun! Tell us what you’re stuck on!

Jen Hicks

Alison May

Chris Stovell 

Celia Joy Anderson 

Debbie Fuller-White 

Liam Livings

Marie Laval 

Kate Freeman 

Jane Lovering

Clare Chase 

Christina Courtney

Kate Thomson 

Rosie Dean 

Elaina James

Helena Fairfax

Christina Hollis 

Krysten Hager

Caroline James

Anne Harvey

Inge Saunders

Wendy May Andrews

Sandra Danby

Jim Cangany

Linn B Halton

Kate Blackadder

Elle Turner

Count down to launch #ReleaseMe

Book cover for Please Release Me - a bride at sunrise

The early reviews for Please Release Me are in now and so far they’ve all been 4 and 5 stars. It won’t be live on Amazon until the 10th of Sept, so there are no reviews there yet, but if you want to see what people are saying about it, check of the reviews on Goodreads and on Netgalley.

Please Release Me is a rom com, but it’s actually about grief and depression. When I submitted the book to Choc Lit for consideration, I wondered if it would be rejected because of this. For all our complaining about the frothiness of Chick Lit, do romance readers really want to read a book about sad things? Turns out they do (phew – I would have hated to be wrong). One reviewer said it had an ‘almost perfect portrayal of grief’, which is a wonderful description. Someone else said she laughed at the scene when Sally comes out of her coma. It’s not the traditional place for a joke, but the scene made me laugh when I wrote it. Good old Sally.

Book cover for Please Release Me - a bride at sunrise
The cover for Please Release Me, in case I haven’t bored you with it enough already.

It’s usual to do some jumping up and down and cheering when a book comes out, so (apologies) I’m going to be doing just that on Thursday. More importantly, some lovely friends have agreed to join me. They’re all going to post something on their blogs based on the theme of being stuck (and wanting to be released). I will be sharing their links with you as they come on line.

They all used the same prompts – I’m intrigued to see what different answers show up!

If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, follow the #ReleaseMe tag on the 10th to join in the fun!

The first Book Review of Please Release Me

Book cover for Please Release Me - a bride at sunrise

I saw the first review of Please Release Me today (the advance review copies have gone out to reviewers now and the book is on Netgalley.) I’m limp with relief that this reviewer liked it (4.5 stars! Yay!). I’m also delighted that she took from the story what I’d try to convey.

I tried to write a book that was about falling in love, falling out of love and inadvertently becoming friends with your enemy. A small part of me was worried that it had all come out in a jumbled mess. I’m very relieved to hear that it didn’t.

You can read the review here:

Book Review – Please Release Me by Rhoda Baxter.

And, of course, you can preorder Please Release Me here:  🙂

I’m off to celebrate by eating copious amounts of chocolate.