Thursday, June 25, 2015

Monthly Round-Up: June 2015

Summer has reached the UK! Hooray! Long days and the occasional glimpse of sunshine, and I've even felt brave enough to put away the tights when wearing work skirts. Still plenty of rain, of course - this is England. But the alternative rainy days and sunny days seem to make the strawberry plants in our garden thrive. We've got more strawberries than we know what to do with right now.

Anyway, I digress. On with the news.

COMING SOON

I am pleased to announce the imminent launch of the FORMER HEROES anthology, by Far Horizons Press. All of the stories in this anthology are by writers who are also live action roleplayers. It's an eclectic mix, all dealing with characters who were once heroes. There's some fantasy, some sci fi, some horror. My story, 'The Unending Scream', is most decidedly a horror story. Would it be anything else?

There'll be an online launch on Facebook for FORMER HEROES, so you can join the party without leaving the comfort of your own home.

And, speaking of LARPERS (a bit of a reach, I know), we are still aiming for an Autumn release for THE WHISPERING DEATH. I hope to have more news about this soon.

PROMOTIONAL STUFF

Today I'm visiting Eric Price's blog to talk about a subject common to all writers, both seasoned pros and newbies alike: Writer Insecurity.

WORK IN PROGRESS

SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the third Shara Summers book, progresses well. Most of my work on it is being done in Starbucks on Aldwych in London, early in the morning before going to work. Of late, though, I've had to sit in different spots, since my usual seat has been taken. I really hate that.

Well that's all to report this month. See you next month!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Ten Commandments of Writing #5: Thou Shalt Rewrite



Whenever a writer is portrayed in a film or TV series, the process is always the same. They sit at their typewriter or PC (depending on how old the series is), banging out the words, they print out a huge stack of pages, and then they write 'The End' with a flourish, and proudly present finished manuscript to agent/publisher.

I know TV misrepresents a great deal of professionals, but I always want to shout at the screen at this point. I don't know any writer who can churn off a first draft that is perfect and publishable and in need of absolutely no revisions.

Whether you're a plotter or a pantser, there are generally two ways of approaching the writing of a manuscript. Some writers start the first draft with a clear goal of getting to the end. The first draft is likely to be full of inconsistencies and plot holes, but the important thing is to get to the end of the first draft and remember that everything can be fixed in the rewrite. This is my approach. The first draft is effectively putting up the scaffolding. The bricks and mortar and everything else that is required for the construction to be solid and functional can be added in future drafts.

Then there are other writers who revise as they go. Every time they sit down to write, they review what they wrote before and they will quite often go back and polish, or revise and rewrite bits before moving on. So by the time they get to the end they have effectively got a finished product. But it's hardly a first draft, because many changes and amendments have been made along the way.

Whichever way works for you is something that only you will be able to decide, possibly after much trial and error. The point is, revision is essential to the writing process. How many rewrites are required will, again, vary from writer to writer, and may well depend on how much thought goes into the first draft. Some writers I know spend quite a lot of time thinking about each sentence before writing it down, whereas I would rather tap into that early morning flow of words and type the first thing that comes into my head. It means I'm more likely than that more ponderous writer to re-read what I've written and shriek, "what was I thinking? This is complete rubbish and makes no sense". But I know I've got several rewrites to get it right, so that doesn't worry me.

Like many things misrepresented in the media, writing is not as easy as it's portrayed on TV. And no one gets it right the first time.

And so this is the Fifth Commandment. Thou shalt rewrite. And rewrite, and rewrite again, until the manuscript is so polished it shines.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Monthly Round-Up: May 2015

How did we get to the end of May already? I do love this time of year, when the days are long enough that I get to see my house in daylight at either end of the day, the sun starts to shine and everything comes back to life. As a hay fever sufferer I'm not so fond of the pollen flying around, though. So here's the latest report from me on what's being going on writing-wise in the last month.

COMING SOON:

 I'm pleased to say I now have two forthcoming publications to list in this section.

THE WHISPERING DEATH is being released by Kensington Gore later in Autumn this year.

SUFFER THE CHILDREN is being re-released by MuseItUp Publishing in Spring 2016.

So that's two horror novels to look forward to! Sometimes I think the universe is dropping me big hints I'm more a horror writer than a crime writer.

PROMOTIONAL STUFF:

I've been a bit lax with promoting. Nothing new to report here. I hope to get back on the case by next month.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

Work is progressing well on the third Shara Summers book, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH.

I'm also in the (very) early stages of a new horror novel. No title yet, but it is about a group of urban explorers who encounter a supernatural Big Bad.

With two WIPs on the go I've got to crack on with the writing. I will report back on how it's going next month!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Measuring Milestones

Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com
My daughter graduated from high school today, except she has to return to school tomorrow to finish out the term. A classmate graduated with her.

Only two graduating seniors? How can this be? Not only that, but the official graduation ceremony is next month.

K. and T. both have autism, and it was decided that going through the major graduation ceremony would be too stressful. The principal was even on hand to give them their diplomas. I thanked him afterward, and he said that they do this for their special needs students. Peer tutors talked about K. and T. and how much they enjoyed them, and there was even a small reception with cake afterwards.

It's been a long educational road for K. The first day of kindergarten we had to pick her up at the elementary school because she became upset. It's probably hard for people who don't have children with autism to understand that a change in routine or sensory overload can trigger strong emotions.

Over the years, her outbursts became less and less. K. excelled not only in math and art, but in basketball as well, once shooting thirty-six baskets in a row in gym class. She did volunteer work at an animal shelter and a children's charity.

Through it all, she never gave up. And that inspires me to keep pushing toward my publishing dreams. Sometimes, one needs to put things in perspective, realize that no matter how difficult something seems to be, it's not impossible.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

THE WHISPERING DEATH Finds a Home

I am pleased to be able to announce that my new horror novel, THE WHISPERING DEATH, has sold to British small press horror publisher Kensington Gore. There's an exciting announcement about it over on their website.

THE WHISPERING DEATH is about a group of live action role-players who unwittingly release an ancient evil loose upon the world during a game. I am particularly fond of this novel because it is effectively about a group of geeks, and I was able to incorporate all the geeky things I love into the novel. LRP. Dungeons & Dragons. Video games. Zombie films. And it's got a kick-ass heroine who's also a geek girl. I had such a good time writing about her.

And it's a novel that at one point I lost faith in. It had gone through several rewrites when I first started subbing it, last year. After getting fairly consistent feedback along with the rejections I decided it needed rewriting. But the rewrite took it to a place where the ending I wanted wasn't going to work and I got quite depressed about it.

But it just goes to show you should never give up. Have faith and keep collecting those rejections. Eventually, acceptance will come. And sometimes you have to believe in your own writing, even when it seems no one else does.

THE WHISPERING DEATH is scheduled for release later this year, which means I am expecting edits to come my way very soon. And this one will be out in paperback as well as electronic format. Yay!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Monthly Round-up: April 2015


The more observant may notice that there was no monthly round-up last month. This was partly due to the day job keeping me a bit too busy to keep up with blog posts, and partly because there was nothing to report.

However, I am now back on track , so here is the news from my writing world.

COMING SOON/OUT NOW

No new 'coming soon' announcements since February's news about SUFFER THE CHILDREN being released by MuseItUp next year.

The anthology THE DARK HEART OF PEEPING TOM is out there, though, and it's available in paperback as well as e-book (and Kindle). It features many stories that were first published in the UK 90s horror zine PEEPING TOM, including my story "Jimi Hendrix" eyes. If you like your horror dark, brooding and disturbing, this is a collection for you.

PROMOTIONAL STUFF

After a bit of a quiet period, I have kick-started my online presence and have a few guest appearances in cyberspace to report

29 March - I had a guest post on horror writer Luke Walker's blog about why a nice horror writer like me writes crime.
9 April - I wrote the inaugural post for author and editor Akaria Gale's new series on pro tips, writing about why the author needs a balance of praise and criticism.
20 April - Jan Edwards interviewed me on her blog.


WORK IN PROGRESS

I am still working on SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the third Shara book. This time last month I was quite depressed about it. Then I decided to scrap the old draft and start again. It's never an easy decision to do this. If you keep restarting a manuscript you never get to the end, and I am a big advocator of getting to the end of the draft and fixing it in the rewrite. But I got to a point when I felt the manuscript wasn't working in its current state and there was no point in continuing.

The reboot involved making some fairly major plot changes. Happily, the new draft is going quite well, and I have been able to salvage quite a lot of the earlier draft and incorporate it into the current WIP. Thus proving that it wasn't all complete rubbish after all.

I am, however, only 7,000 words into the new draft so there is rather a long way to go yet.

See you next month!