Half a million copies sold and THIS was my first thought…

This morning, I was thrilled to receive a call from my lovely editor who told me The Sister has officially sold half a million copies. Bizarrely (or not if you know me) my first thought was ‘Grace and Charlie will be SO pleased.’ Yes, even now when I’m writing my third book I haven’t quite yet come to terms with the fact my beloved characters in my debut aren’t real. I am enormously proud of them and their story.

When I first wrote a snippet of flash fiction it took days of deliberation before I felt brave enough to try to expand it into my first ever short story. Once I started writing I couldn’t stop but even as it grew into the 90k word novel it is today I never once thought it would be published. I was too old. Too inexperienced. Too scared to try if I’m honest but my love for Grace, my desire for her story to be heard drove me forwards, and I am so fortunate I found a publisher, Bookouture, who shared the same passion for my story. I feel humbled so many readers have given their valuable time reading my first novel, and am hugely grateful for the book bloggers who have championed The Sister from the start. Your support has meant the world to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart ❤️

“I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me …”

Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie …or was there?

You can find The Sister on Amazon UK here, or Amazon US here.

Hachette acquires Bookouture!

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Huge congratulations to my publisher, Bookouture, who have announced they are now part of Hachette. Exciting times ahead for all!

Here’s the official press release: – 

Tim Hely Hutchinson, CEO of Hachette UK, today announces the acquisition by Hachette UK of Bookouture, Britain’s leading independent ebook publisher.

“I am delighted to announce today that Hachette UK has acquired Bookouture, the UK’s leading ebook specialist publisher.

“In just four years since it was founded, Bookouture has established itself as an outstandingly successful and innovative ebook publisher. Its formidable reputation and enormous success in publishing many bestselling ebook authors, including Angela Marsons, Louise Jensen and Robert Bryndza, whose novel The Girl in the Ice has sold over one million copies, demonstrates that Bookouture probably knows more about selling ebooks than any other publisher in the world. We salute Oliver Rhodes and his colleagues and welcome them warmly to Hachette.

“The acquisition of Bookouture is a landmark event for Hachette UK, demonstrating the scope of our ambition to expand and develop our core publishing business by acquiring the best companies in their field where the fit is right and their ambition matches our own. Bookouture has achieved remarkable things in its short history and, while it will continue as a standalone business, I know that we will mutually enhance and grow our businesses through, where it is appropriate, sharing our expertise and pooling our talents.”

Bookouture will have a special relationship with Little, Brown, which will publish some of Bookouture’s authors in print editions. Oliver Rhodes, CEO of Bookouture, will continue in this role and will also become Digital Publisher of Hachette UK. He will join the board of Hachette UK reporting to David Shelley, CEO of Little, Brown and Orion. In his new dual role Oliver will both continue to run Bookouture and, by steering and advising, also help increase ebook sales across the Hachette UK group.

Bookouture employs 16 people, all of whom will remain with the company, which will continue to be based in its offices in King’s Cross.

David Shelley said:

“I have long admired the work Oliver has done at Bookouture – he and his colleagues have discovered some amazing authors and have enjoyed extraordinary success with them; they publish with real flair and creativity. I could not be more excited to work with Oliver and his team in taking Bookouture and its authors to the next level, and to have Oliver’s input into Hachette’s digital publishing more generally. I think he will bring something very special to our business.”

Oliver Rhodes said

“Seeing Bookouture flourish in the past four years has been an incredible and rare privilege – we have an extremely talented and dedicated team and a fantastic group of authors who we are very proud of. What is so exciting about taking this next step and becoming part of Hachette UK is that it will help us to build on the significant momentum we already have and achieve even greater things for our authors.

“Tim and David’s vision for Bookouture within Hachette UK is absolutely everything I would want it to be – supportive, forward-thinking, and ambitious – and that was a key factor in making this decision. To sit alongside the other fantastic publishing houses in the group and work with some of the best people in the business will be a real thrill. I know we’ll learn a great deal from each other and I can’t wait to get started.”

A year ago today I signed a book deal. So what’s it really been like?

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A year ago today I signed a book deal and the past 365 days have been a whirlwind of highs and lows; pride and anxiety; celebrations and tears. I tried to imagine so many times what it would be like to sign my name on the dotted line, how I might feel, what the process might be like. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Emotions tumbled as I read THAT email at 7 am offering me a contract for three psychological thrillers. Euphoria was nudged aside by fear, did I have more than one book in me? What if I let my publishers down? Was I too old for a career change? A long chat followed with my commissioning editor Lydia Vassar-Smith, and to this day I still remember how I felt as I signed my name. Euphoric. Sick. Grateful. Afraid. I had no idea what publishing entailed and I was about to find out on a digital publisher’s schedule, which are known for being tough.

The publication date for my debut The Sister was set for 7th July 2016, less than five months away. In my naivety I’d envisaged spending those five months picnicking in fields, drinking champagne, and perhaps working on book two in-between long lunches and cream teas.

The reality was my edits came back straight away. My beautiful prose on the crisp white background was covered in red lines and comment bubbles. I made the first of many panicked phone calls to Lydia ‘I thought you liked my story?’ I gasped out in horror, convinced she had read it again and changed her mind. She assured me this was normal in the first round of edits and I tried not to cry/hang up/laugh hysterically as she explained she would work with me on the structural edits before I would be passed to a copy editor where it would happen all over again. The process could take weeks and in the meantime how was book two shaping up? This was when I stared longingly out of the window, bid goodbye to the outside world and pretty much my family, and got stuck in to making my lifelong dream a reality. When I first spoke to Lydia in February I didn’t realise how important it was that we got on. The author/editor relationship is very close and it’s important we shared the same vision for the book and I trusted the changes she wanted to make implicitly.

The edits for The Sister, although they felt huge at the time, were actually very light (when I compared them to The Gift later) which I was thankful for as this is the stage the fabulous Marketing Manager for Bookouture, Kim Nash, came in. Social media was something I’d occasionally dabbled in, blogging was something I already loved. Kim set up magazine and blog interviews and arranged for me to appear on local radio. Twitter has been an amazing support, not only for my books but I’ve met so many lovely people, some of whom I’ve now met in real life, and with a writer’s world being so isolated the interaction has been a real lifeline some days.the-sister

Soon weeks had flown by. I’d seen and fallen instantly in love with the cover for The Sister, the editing and proofreading were finished, I got to hold my paperbacks in my hand, listen to the audio version and see my debut go onto Amazon for pre-order. There were days to go before my story went out into the world but throughout the edits, the marketing, I hadn’t had much of a chance to work on The Gift and that has been a huge learning curve for me. The amount of time in a contract between books isn’t always writing time. When an author delivers a book it is far from finished and after talking things through with my family we made the decision to cancel our summer holiday so I could write every day. I was so grateful for the chance I had, I wanted to do everything possible to make my follow-up book as good as it could possibly be and I am lucky I had the understanding and support of my family to do this.

During the next few weeks, The Sister went to No.1, was nominated for The Goodreads Best Debut of 2016 and despite being released more than halfway through the year became the 6th biggest selling book on Amazon last year, it’s still in the UK top 100. The Gift was published in December 2016 and also hit the No. 1 spot and has currently spent over 10 weeks in the UK top 10. Both books are on the USA Today Bestseller’s list.

 

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There is much to celebrate and be grateful for but throughout this journey there has also been the inevitable ups and down of life to factor in. A family illness, a bereavement, the bittersweet feeling of finally being published and the one person I wanted to share this with no longer being with us. The stress of financial instability as I wasn’t able to carry on working and hit my deadlines. But there is an underlying excitement for the future. I now have the support of an amazing agent, Rory Scarfe of Furniss Lawton, and I’m very much enjoying writing my third book. I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months bring. I’m living the life I’ve always dreamed of and although it’s exhausting at times, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Big thanks to the team at Bookouture for taking a chance on an unknown author. I am eternally grateful.bookouture-web-logo-3

 

You wrote a novel about WHAT??? (What on earth is Cellular Memory?)

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I first heard about cellular memory about fifteen years ago and was intrigued with the concept that the cells of the body could store memories, and if organs are transplanted, these memories could also be transplanted with them.

Although this isn’t scientifically proven, there are an increasing number of doctors and scientists supporting this theory and further research is being carried out.

Endlessly fascinated I’ve spent years researching this subject and reading up on real life cases where recipients have received donor organs, in particular hearts, and inherited some attributes of the donor whether it is a craving for the donor’s favourite food, or, in more extreme cases, speaking a different language after the surgery that the donor could speak, or suddenly being able to play an instrument the donor could play.

Could this really be happening? Is the heart just a pump or is it something more? It wasn’t that long ago the heart was thought to be the centre of all knowledge and wisdom. Is it more than we think?

I desperately wanted to write a novel around cellular memory but I was wary. It is a subject I felt that deserved sensitively handling. Where there is a transplant, there has to be a loss. A grieving family. A recipient who has perhaps been ill for a long period and the impact that has had on their family and friends. I considered all of these points four years ago when I wanted to start writing a novel and I decided I didn’t have the experience to approach a story that included organ donation with the sensitivity it deserved.

Instead I wrote The Sister, a psychological thriller based around a grieving girl and I found that despite the genre of the book I was able to write it with raw emotion and when readers read it and fed back how connected and empathetic they felt towards the characters, I decided to tentatively start to write Jenna’s story in The Gift.

Jenna is a 30-year-old woman who receives a new heart and begins to have disturbing thoughts and dreams. She becomes obsessed with her donor, Callie’s family, and she doesn’t believe Callie’s accident was as innocent as it was purported to be. Jenna is determined to uncover the truth behind Callie’s death, to bring her bewildered parents the closure they deserve, but as she begins to dig and discover the secrets surrounding Callie, she finds there is someone who wants to silence her, at any cost.

The Gift is fiction, and of course as an author I have taken artistic license with the subject of cellular memory and I’m sure readers will understand the need to do this but I hope I have handled the medical aspect and the loss with accuracy and respect.

My family and I have been on the donor transplant list for years. I know it’s not always something families discuss and I do hope The Gift can strike up conversations about donation and perhaps encourage someone who might not have previously thought about it to sign themselves up to the register. Signing up really could save lives.

What do you think about cellular memory? I’d love to know.

 

The kindle version of The Gift is currently part of an Amazon Flash Sale and you can buy it in the UK here for £0.99 or the US here for $1.24. It is also available as a paperback or audiobook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sky streaks purple, orange, red before settling on its usual self-conscious blue as if it could never be more than that. But we’re all more than we think. Than we feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publication Day!!! 🍸🍾

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I am so thrilled to announce today is the publication day of my second novel, The Gift which is now available from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

I will be blogging next week about why I chose to write a thriller centred around Cellular Memory, but for now, here’s the blurb.

 

The perfect daughter is dead. And a secret is eating her family alive…
Jenna is given another shot at life when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. Eternally grateful to Callie and her family, Jenna gets closer to them, but she soon discovers that Callie’s perfect family is hiding some very dark secrets …

Callie’s parents are grieving, yet Jenna knows they’re only telling her half the story. Where is Callie’s sister Sophie? She’s been ‘abroad’ since her sister’s death but something about her absence doesn’t add up. And when Jenna meets Callie’s boyfriend Nathan, she makes a shocking discovery.

Jenna knows that Callie didn’t die in an accident. But how did she die? Jenna is determined to discover the truth but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

A compelling, gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist from the author of the Number One bestseller The Sister.

What everyone is saying about The Gift:

My God! It’s a bloody corker! An exquisite writer…Louise has completely knocked it out of the park and brought us all another amazing thriller! MY FIRST EVER GOLD STAR AWARD‘ Emma the Little Bookworm

Hells Bells! The Gift by Louise Jensen is an absolute cracker of a read it’s tense, gripping and thrilling. I literally devoured this book in one sitting, I love it when you read a book and the opening chapter grabs you by the throat …Louise Jensen has written a belter of a book that will keep even the most hardened psychological thriller lover glued to their kindle/book’ The Book Review Cafe

‘Louise Jensen has this great gift of being able to drag you directly into the story and carry you along kicking and screaming! Drop everything and curl up in a comfy chair because as soon as you start this book you won’t want to do anything else!’ Angelnet Reviews

I absolutely ADORE Louise Jensen’s writing … The Gift is full to the brim of twists and turns …superb!‘ Damp Pebbles

This book is a compulsive read – once you start it you’ll find it incredibly hard to put down again until you’ve finished it …I love the way that nearly every chapter ends on a mini cliff-hanger – it kept me turning the pages late into the night and eventually I decided I simply couldn’t go to bed until I knew the truth! ‘ Rather Too Fond of Books

 

 

One week before publication – what’s left to do?

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It is exactly one week until the release of my second novel, The Gift. So what happens in those last few days before publication?

Before I released a book I thought this was the period authors sat with their feet up, drinking lots of wine, waiting with excitement for their books to hit the shelves. Oh how my thought processes have changed! While for me the excitement and the drinking lots of wine bit is very true, there is also an enormous amount to do. In a way this is where the hard work starts.

Being signed to a digital publisher is a little bit different to a traditional publisher. Digital publishers like to bring books out very quickly  and can still be getting a book ready days before publication, with last minutes edits and typesetting. Today, some re-records are happening to my audiobook which I shall listen to tomorrow, and my paperbacks have been uploaded to Amazon for pre-ordering which means the typeset file has been sent to the printers and I will soon be sent some copies so I can start to plan some signed giveaways.

With the UK publishing an estimated 184,000 books per year this is also the time for authors to try to make their book visible as it can be. Marketing can be relentless and exhausting  but through it I have met some of the nicest people around both online and off-line. When writers, readers, and book bloggers come together, united by their love of a good story, it is phenomenal to witness the support the reading/writing community gives each other, and I feel so very privileged to be a part of that.

The time period before publication it is often a nail biting time waiting for the first reviews to be posted online. No matter how much a writer or editor loves the book, there is no way of predicting how it will be received by readers. The reviews of The Gift have started to come through this week, up and I have felt humbled and very grateful for the fabulous reception it has received so far.

Next week for me, there will be radio interviews, an online launch, and generally much jumping up and down with joy in my house. This time last year I was putting together a submission package for my first novel, The Sister, and every day I feel so thankful that, at last, my dream of being published has come true.

You can pre-order The Gift from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

What people are saying about The Gift: 

My God! It’s a bloody corker! An exquisite writer…Louise has completely knocked it out of the park and brought us all another amazing thriller! Emma the Little Bookworm

Hells Bells! The Gift by Louise Jensen is an absolute cracker of a read it’s tense, gripping and thrilling. I literally devoured this book in one sitting, I love it when you read a book and the opening chapter grabs you by the throat …Louise Jensen has written a belter of a book that will keep even the most hardened psychological thriller lover glued to their kindle/book’ The Book Review Cafe

‘Louise Jensen has this great gift of being able to drag you directly into the story and carry you along kicking and screaming! Drop everything and curl up in a comfy chair because as soon as you start this book you won’t want to do anything else!’ Angelnet Reviews

I absolutely ADORE Louise Jensen’s writing … The Gift is full to the brim of twists and turns …superb!‘ Damp Pebbles

This book is a compulsive read – once you start it you’ll find it incredibly hard to put down again until you’ve finished it …I love the way that nearly every chapter ends on a mini cliff-hanger – it kept me turning the pages late into the night and eventually I decided I simply couldn’t go to bed until I knew the truth! ‘ Rather Too Fond of Books

Nailing that tricky second novel (AKA Second Book Syndrome)

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Last week I put the final touches to The Gift and sent it to my publishers for the very last time. As my finger hovered over the send button I don’t mind admitting there were tears, and I’m still not quite sure whether these were tears of relief or sorrow. I felt a certain amount of loss letting go of the characters that have been in the forefront of my mind every day for months and months. But as there were so many times during this process when I had been riddled with self-doubt, finishing was also the cause of much celebrating.

sisterSecond book syndrome is something I had read much about as I was writing my first book, The Sister, but I couldn’t quite understand it. Surely if you done it once it should get easier, not harder? As I started the submission process with The Sister I was eager to get stuck into something new. The Gift, the story of Jenna who after receiving a heart transplant begins to believe that the donor of her heart, Callie, was murdered and begins her own investigation after learning Callie’s death had been ruled accidental, had been simmering at the back of my mind for quite a long time.

It was a joy to start something fresh and when The Sister was picked up by a publisher I felt so grateful to know The Gift had a home too. All was going well until The Sister was released. I had been scared of course, waiting for the reviews, releasing a debut is daunting and I knew that if my novel wasn’t well received it would knock my confidence. To my delight the response to The Sister was phenomenal. It quickly reached number one in the Kindle chart, number one on iTunes, and was nominated for the Goodreads Awards Debut of 2016.

But the more readers contacted me to say how much they engaged with my characters, and enjoyed my story, the slower my progress got on The Gift. Did people love the characters in The Sister too much? Would The Gift be compared? Was I a one book wonder? I became plagued with self-doubt. Every morning I would open my laptop with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Could I really do this again?

My publication date was brought forward which piled on the pressure and my deadline loomed nearer and nearer. I didn’t have the luxury of taking time away from my manuscript and I questioned everything I was writing. There were many, many times I was tempted to email my publishers who had taken a chance on an unknown author, and tell them ‘I’m so sorry, but I think you’ve made a mistake offering me a contract.’

But afraid of letting people down I ploughed forwards, writing every day, using my mindfulness practice to keep the negative voices at bay they best I could. And little by little, word by word, my story took shape until it became the blend of emotion, fear, love and hope that I wanted. As Jenna found herself in danger I held my breath, and I felt her soaring highs and crushing lows as keenly as if they were my own and when the epilogue left me in floods of tears I knew I’d got it right. And at last I typed the two best words in the world, The End.

The Gift will be sent out to book reviewers next week, and will be published in a little over three weeks on 16 December, and I do hope people will fall in love with Jenna as much as I have. It is incredible to think once it seemed so out of reach to write a novel at all, let alone be published, and now I’m about to start writing book 3. Wish me luck!

You can preorder the digital version of The Gift from Amazon UK or Amazon US. The audio and paperback version will be available to order from 16/12/16.