Thursday, November 26, 2015

Monthly Round-Up: November 2015

Here we are in the penultimate month of the year, when the days are too short and the nights are too cold. Winter is not my favourite time of the year. So it should mean I have the perfect excuse to stay in and write, yes?


Nothing new to report, but there's plenty of my stuff out there from earlier this year. I'm in the anthology of women horror writers, FEMME FATALE. I've got a story in the FORMER HEROES anthology. And of course THE WHISPERING DEATH is available in both paperback and Kindle formats. So that should be plenty to take you through the holiday season!

And just a reminder that if you read any of my work and enjoy it - or if you don't, for that matter - reviews are always appreciated, as it's the best way for a writer to get her name Out There.


This month I did a blog swap with US mystery writers JQ Rose. On hers I was talking about making time to write, something I seem to forever be juggling.


Work continues on both of my WIPs. I have almost completed the first draft of the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH. I'm not very happy with it at present, though. It needs some major rewriting before I am willing to send it out into the world.

Progress has also been made on the new horror WIP, though this one still doesn't have a name. I'm referring to it as the 'urban explorers horror WIP'.

By the time of the next monthly review, the presents will have been opened, the crackers will have been pulled and I'll still be stuffing my face with mince pies and Christmas chocolate and getting ready to say goodbye to 2015. So a review of my writing year will be timely.

See you then!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

50,000 Words and Beyond

Every November, for the past several years, I join thousands of writers around the world for that 30-day frenzy known as NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words during that time. Not a novel, per se, but a pretty darn good start.

A couple of my short novels were even published: Death Sword and The Ripper's Daughter. (I have the rights back to the latter, which I will be putting up on Amazon, B&N, and Kobo, hopefully before the end of the year. But that's another story.)

Anyway, last year, I wrote a 65,000-word political  thriller in 21 days. This year, I wrote 68,000 words in the same length of time. And I'm still writing. Today, I should reach 72,000 with my paranormal suspense, the overall goal being 75,000-80,000 words. And I plan to finish this new novel by November 30.

Why push myself? I don't know. Guess I take it as a challenge. I wanted to get the 50,000 words written as early as possible, and 5,000 words a day seemed reasonable. After that, I dropped the writing down to 2,000 words daily. All that, while revising another book and working on another project (not writing related).

Although NaNoWriMo is almost over, you can check out the site year round. So if you've always wanted to write a novel, and needed a boost, NaNoWriMo might very well be worth checking into.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Conquering NaNoWriMo a Word at a Time

I just hit the 50k mark on my NaNoWriMo novel, The Memitim. No, I'm not kidding: 5,000 words in 10 days. My hands hurt, I'm exhausted, and I will probably take tomorrow, maybe even Thursday, off.

But I'm not done. The projected length is estimated between 75,000 and 80,000 words. And I plan to write all that this month. Last year, I wrote 65,000 words in 21 days, so I know it can be done.

Writing novels that long is in itself a milestone for me. Only a couple of years ago, I would've balked at writing something that length. Let's just say I had to retrain my brain.

How did I do it? Plotting. Not only did I use Dramatic Pro to help develop the story, I used a program called WriteWay Pro. It's like Scrivener, in that you can break your story down into scenes and write in a non-linear fashion, then import the document into Word. I used WWP with my novel, The Judas Dilemma, currently sitting on a publisher's desk. (Fingers are crossed.)

What I like about WriteWay Pro is I can make notes about character, setting, dialogue, conflict, even notes on revisions for that particular scene. I think using it has helped me write faster. Not saying my first draft doesn't suck. I mean, we have to be realistic here. *grin*

But really, writing a book, whether during NaNoWriMo, or any other time of the year, is simply putting one word after the other.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Malice and Mayhem Receives Recognition

This was a nice surprise. My dark fiction short story collection, Malice and Mayhem: Tales of the Macabre, was one of twelve winners for's Spooktacular Halloween Theme Contest.

I pitch the stories as reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Night Gallery, Thriller, and shows of that ilk. Yes, I'm old school, but it's nice that people still remember those shows. A friend's dad read it, and he said it was just as I described, which is a nice validation.

This collection was also a return to my writing roots. While in school, I devoured anthologies by Alfred Hitchcock, mysteries by various authors, and tales of the macabre. Many of the anthologies I read in elementary school were edited by Roger Elwood. But probably the biggest influence during my formative horror writing years was a collection called Tales of Terror, by Ida Chittum. It inspired me to write my own collection of spooky tales in the sixth grade. They were hand-written on notebook paper, three stories stapled together. My classmates liked them. Ironically, most were also bullying me. Go figure.

Fast forward to the present. Although I'm writing novels, I still haven't forgotten the short story, and have published seven stories in anthologies, including one I co-edited.
I hope that one day, I will influence an aspiring horror/dark fiction suspense author, too.

Stay scary!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Monthly Round-Up: October 2015

Here we are at the end of October, rapidly approaching the Witching Hour. The clocks in the UK went back last weekend and it's now dark by 4:30pm. I really hate the long nights, but there are things about Autumn that I really like. The beautiful colours of the trees. The crunch underfoot as I walk through fallen leaves on my way to the station. The anticipation of bonfire night, and of Hallowe'en. And of course October is my birthday month. This year I happened to spend it at FantasyCon. It's the first time I've spent my birthday at a convention, but it was quite nice to get all the extra birthday wishes. Since the date of FantasyCon 2016 has already been announced and it's in September, it's looking unlikely that will happen again next year.

Anyway, on with the news.


Nothing new to report, but just another reminder that THE WHISPERING DEATH is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon. If you've read it and feel inclined to review it, I would be most grateful. Word of mouth is the best way to promote a book, and reviews really help.  


I've been fairly busy with online promotion over the last month.

14 October - I made an appearance on Theresa Derwin's Terror Tree blog talking about the questions you shouldn't ask a writer.

14 October - on the same day I was part of the Horror Writers' Association's Hallowe'en Haunts feature, with a blog post about what Hallowe'en is like in the UK.

25 October - I appeared on Iva Valentino's blog talking about my lifelong love of reading.

In addition, I did two Cons in October - Bristol Horror Con and FantasyCon - and two book launches.

Waiting for punters at THE WHISPERING DEATH launch on 14 October
The first book launch was locally on 14 October. That went rather well, and we had about 20 people turn up, including two who happened to see my poster and liked the sound of the book. So proper punters, as opposed to people who already know me. I was very pleased about that. It felt like one more small step on the path to notoriety.

The second book launch was at FantasyCon, and didn't go quite so well. I am grateful to the five people who did turn up and show support, but clearly all the promotion, Tweeting and cajoling people at the Con didn't have much effect. I think launches at Cons only work if you're well known enough to have a following. Evidently I'm not there yet.  


I've made some progress with SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH - in fact the end is in sight. This is only a first draft, though, so there's still lots of work to do yet. Not so much progress on the urban explorer horror novel, however.

 I've set a new pledge to write 3,000 words a week between now and the end of the year. Most weeks I've managed to meet my target, and every little helps.

Well that's it for now. I wish you a happy Hallowe'en, and I will see you here next month!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

National Novel Writing Month

I enjoy reading murder mysteries, whether cozy or police procedural. I've taken classes on homicide detectives, forensic science, crime scene investigation -- all geared toward writers. I follow a former LEO's blog, and am a member of a Yahoo site related to writing crime.

But I'd never thought I'd write a crime story, until recently. Well, scratch that. I had written one, a paranormal historical whydunit called The Ripper's Daughter. But that doesn't count, because while there are murders, the reader knows who the killer is, and the question becomes can the hero stop that person?

Okay, confession time. I wrote a screenplay with a homicide detective and his retrocognitive partner investigating a series of murders. In fact, I'm considering submitting it to contests.

Maybe I should have started with I'm trying my hand at writing a possible police procedural series, particularly an occult police procedural. In fact, I'm working on two of them, writing one now and plotting the other for NaNoWriMo next month.

The first one, currently called the Tzadkiel Project is one of the few stories I'm writing off the top of my head. The other, called the Memitim, is being plotted in WriteWay Pro and Dramatica Pro. I'm also using the Tarot for my characters' hero/ine journeys.

Usually, I end up writing NaNo by the seat of my pants. October 1 rolls around, and I think, "I have a whole month to plot, write my characters' goals, motivations, and conflicts, etc." October 15. "Oh, I still have two weeks. It's all good." October 31, 11:59 AM. "Damn! All I have is  name!"

Yeah, even I'm surprised I'm more ready for NaNo than usual. Now if I had Walter B. Gibson's drive to write thirty pages a day. Then again, he didn't have Facebook or YouTube to distract him. *grin*

So yes, I'll be participating in NaNo again this year. If anyone wants to look me up, I go by Sapphyre. To all those who'll be aiming for 50k in November, good luck and happy writing!

For more info about NaNo, click here. And remember, if you've ever wanted to write a novel, but were too afraid to ask, NaNo is a great way to dip your toe in the writing waters.