Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monthly Round-Up: December 2014

Well we're not only at the end of the month, we're at the end of the year, so this will be a more general overview of 2014.

OUT NOW

It's been a rather good year for me with regard to publications. The first two Shara Summers novels were both published by MuseItUp this year, and in addition I had a story in the anthology THE DARK HEART OF PEEPING TOM.

And if you haven't got around to buying DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL yet, I'm including the links...

PROMOTIONAL STUFF

Two guest appearances for me this month.  I was on Conda's Creative Centre blog talking about the complicated love life of Shara Summers - despite my constant denials that I write romance.  Then I was interviewed for Suzanne's Thoughts for the Day.

I've been quite busy with guest appearances on the Internet this year, and the complete list can be found on my website.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Well, what can I say here?  I have several projects on the go at once.

The good news is, I have started writing the third Shara Summers book, which is currently titled 'Spotlight on Death'.  But I'm in a very early stage of the first draft, so there's a long way to go.  My aim is to get it to final draft stage by this time next year, but that might be being a tad ambitious.  We shall see.

The horror novel in progress, THE WHISPERING DEATH I was busy rewriting and then I got a bit tangled up when I realised the changes I had made to the draft meant the ending now made no sense.  However, since then I've worked out how I can fix it.  I am hoping that by the end of January I will have this novel in a fit state to start submitting.  I'm also not going back to the day job until Monday, so I've got the rest of this week to work on it.  Hopfully I can make significant progress in the next five days.

I will be back next year with more information about goals for 2015.  In the meantime, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, however you choose to celebrate the end of the old year and the dawn of the new.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nine Years in the Making

This coming January, I'm slated to have shoulder surgery. As you might guess, this will curtail my writing, at least for a few weeks. So I've compiled a list of writing goals I want to accomplish before January 1. So far, I've written a short radio play based on a short novel, completed a 65,000-word thriller for NaNoWriMo, and, as of today, finished a short novel I began about nine years ago.

Yes, nine years. Cathedral Girl was my second NaNoWriMo attempt, following a "win" in 2004 with a historical vampire story. This project was my foray into studying angels and demons, which would culminate in the following publications, Death Sword and Exterminating Angel, and the unpublished drafts, Serpent Fire, The Judas Dilemma, and Hell on Earth. Hey, if you've got this knowledge available, why not use it? :-)

But why take so long? Part of it was while I knew how the story would end, I wasn't sure how to get to that point. I jotted notes from what I had and used a program called Writer's Blocks to flesh out the rest of the story. The result is a rough first draft, but that doesn't matter. What matters is I have something to work with.

I have a couple of partials to finish. While I'm hoping to finish one before my surgery, I'm not sure if I will or not. But if I can make a dent in it, that's better than nothing.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Monthly Round-up: November 2014

It's the end of November already. Lots of stuff going on at the moment, and I don't just mean writing-wise. Sometimes Real Life gets in the way as well.

COMING SOON/OUT NOW

Quite a lot to report in this category!

DEATH SCENE is part of a promotional bundle pack organised by MuseItUp, which includes four mysteries by five authors for the bargain price of $1.99. This is a limited-time deal, so get it now. And, of course, DEATH SCENE is available on its own, too.

DEAD COOL, the second Shara Summers book, is out now!  Yay!!

I am also pleased to be able to announce that a story of mine is included in the forthcoming anthology THE DARK HEART OF PEEPING TOM, by Exaggerated Press. The anthology features stories that appeared in the 1990s horror fanzine PEEPING TOM, which included early work from a lot of now well-known British horror writers. And me...

The story of mine that features is "Jim Hendrix Eyes" which is now my most-published story - this is its fourth appearance. The anthology will be launched at the British Fantasy Society open night on 5 December.  Everyone is welcome at open nights, whether you are a member of the BFS or not.  If you happen to be in London that night, do come along.

If you can't, well you can still buy the book - just click on the link above.

PROMOTIONAL STUFF

This month I've been interviewed by Stuart West, and I was a guest on the Red River Radio blog talk radio show, the recording of which is still available to listen to.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Let's not go there.  Really.  My WIP is not co-operating.  When I get it behaving itself again, I will report.

My next update will be at the end of 2014 - where has this year gone??

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Publishing Milestone

(Cross-posted)

This month, I finally achieved something I'd been wanting to do for the past two years. I self-published my first collection of short dark suspense stories on Amazon, both for Kindle and the upcoming print edition. Malice and Mayhem: Tales of the Macabre are eleven stories, five previously published, that deal with how strong emotions like jealousy, obsession, and vengeance can often have detrimental, even deadly consequences.

I noticed that many of my characters, both in my short stories and in my longer works, are often seeking vengeance or are obsessed with wanting something, no matter how dangerous it might be. In "Obsession," Corinne cannot get over the fact her dead ex-boyfriend had a girlfriend before her, and she's determined to use necromancy to find out who he loved more. In "Family Tradition," a cursed kris (wavy dagger) forces a young man to commit murder, and he finds getting rid of the weapon is a lot harder than he expected.

These stories are influenced by the dark suspense shows of my past, namely ThrillerNight Gallery, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The idea is not to slather the stories in gore for the sake of scaring readers, but to leave them feeling uneasy. (Although there are some graphic descriptions, the overall rating for the book would probably be 14 and up.)

You can find out more about Malice and Mayhem and read the entire first short story, "It's in Your Blood" by clicking here.

Sometimes, there's truth to the warning, "Be careful what you wish for..."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Monthly Round-Up: October 2014

It's October already. Tthis month is mostly known as being Hallowe'en season. And for me it's also the month of my birth. I was born a week before Hallowe'en - fairly appropriate for a horror writer.

And it's time for another update, so here is the news for this month.

COMING SOON/OUT NOW

Death Scene is available at a 60% discount until the end of the month, as part of MuseItUp Publishing's fourth anniversary celebrations. If you haven't bought it yet, now might be a good time, before the price goes up.

Dead Cool is released on 25 November, but it can be pre-ordered if you want to get your order in now.

PROMOTIONAL STUFF

 Two guest appearances this month.  I was on Jami Gray's blog talking about the importance of a sense of place, and then on Margaret Fieland's blog talking about why my characters never get 'Happy Ever After' endings.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I have been feeling decidedly under the weather for a good part of this month, struck with the lingering virus that seems to be hitting rather a lot of people at the moment. I end up feeling tired all the time, so getting up early to write has been rather difficult. I'm still working on the horror WIP, though have not made as much progress as I would have liked.

Time seems to be flashing by, and I haven't done nearly enough writing. But there's still a bit of time left before the end of the year.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

October Obsession

Con season is winding down and now it's time to move on to some serious writing. Tomorrow October Obsession starts, a writing challenge in which fellow participants, including yours truly, get busy and turn out wordage. Short story, novel, screenplay - doesn't matter. Heck, one doesn't even need to write something new. Revisions are fine, also.

I'll be finishing a short dark fiction collection that I hope to self-publish and have ready by Halloween. Then I'll move on to a psychological suspense novel.

I plan to write another psychological suspense novel for NaNoWriMo. Since my publisher's submission requirements have changed, I'm able to write the stories that I have enjoyed reading since childhood.

Sadly, however, I've also had to make a difficult decision. Today is my last day as a member of the RWA. I've made the rounds, said good-bye to my chapter mates, and friended many on Facebook. This doesn't mean that I will stop writing romance, but I am at heart a suspense writer, and I have decided I will focus on contemporary and paranormal suspense, although I plan to write other genres. After all, it's all about the story.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Monthly Round-up: September 2014

September already, and here in the UK we are firmly into Autumn. Which means duvet back on the bed, heating on, sweaters and boots become normal work wear and we look forward to delays on the trains because of leaves on the line.

But enough of that. Here is the news for the last month.

COMING SOON/OUT NOW

Happy to report that DEATH SCENE is now available. Until Friday it's available at a special sale price from MuseItUp's online book store, so buy it now while it's cheap!

DEAD COOL releases on 25 November, but it can be pre-ordered now. So if you want to be front of the queue when it does release, visit the MuseItUp store and get your order in.

PROMOTIONAL STUFF

Lots of guest appearances in cyberspace over the last month. Here's a quick roundup of blogs that have hosted me since my last report:

22 August - Penny Estelle
3 September - Matthew Peters
17 September - Hilary Mackelden
19 September - Katie Carroll
22 September - Victoria Roder
23 September - John Rosenman

Con-wise I went to FantasyCon in York in early September and appeared on a panel about whether there can be hope in horror with Guy Adams, Ramsey Campbell, Roz Kaveney and Adam Nevill. The answer, of course, was yes there can be hope in horror, if the Big Bad is defeated and there are a few survivors. But it is equally acceptable to kill everyone off. There was an interesting discussion on this panel about whether or not killing everyone off is cheating the reader, since the human condition clings to hope. Those writers who finish their horror novels with everyone dying a horrible death apparently get bad reviews from unhappy readers. Something to bear in mind, I guess.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I've made a start on the third Shara Summers book. Well, inasmuch that I've been working on the plotting. Still rather a lot of writing to do before it looks anything like a story.

I'm also rewriting the new horror novel, and getting slightly depressed that there's more work to do than I initially thought. But once I get my head around what changes need to be made, it will probably seem slightly less daunting.

All in all, a rather busy month. Catch you next time!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Double Duty"

Sometimes, after I've finished a story or a screenplay, I wonder if it might not be better served in another format. For example, I have a couple of screenplays that I'm probably going to rework because even though I liked the stories in their current incarnation, I feel they'd work better as novels.

I've also taken two short novels - Death Sword and Exterminating Angel - and adapted them as screenplays, even though they've been published. So why adapt? Because I want my stories to do double duty. I have published short stories I plan to turn into screenplays as well. Not all of them, but ones I think are suited to the cinematic format.

Of course, this brings up the question of which is better, the movie or the book? Since I'm only writing spec scripts, I can't answer that question. What I can say, though, is there's a reason why adaptations may deviate from the original source. I've even had to make changes. (While I was writing the screenplays, I found myself asking why I hadn't originally written the story that way. Oh, well, hindsight and all that.)

One reason for changing a story is that screenplays are meant for the screen. Many novels feature detailed descriptions and while this is fine, the writer will not be choosing the film's settings, unless he or she is also directing the film, such as for an independent project. Selecting locations is the production designer's job, in collaboration with the director and producer. So going into vivid detail about that Queen Anne Revival is fine for a book, but the production designer, director, and producer may decide that a Romanesque Revival is better suited for the movie.

Length is another factor, although in my case not so much. Most screenplays run 80-120 pages, and think how long some novels are, many with multiple subplots. Obviously, one keeps the main plot but with time constraints, it's possible that not every single scene of the story can be used. I ended up combining some scenes, not because of length issues, but simply because the screenplay flowed better.

Will anything happen with these screenplays? Hard to tell. But that's another post.




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Con, An Anthology, and New Directions


Gearing up for Imaginarium next month. This is a new multi-genre con that will focus not only on books but film, comics, art, etc. I got my panels the other day. So far my schedule is:

Friday 7:00 PM The Adaptation (M)Saturday 11:00 AM Plotters vs. PantsersSaturday 12:00 PM Paranormal Romance vs. Urban FantasySaturday 2:00 PM LGBT Themes in FictionSunday 9:00 AM The Newsletter (M)


Apparently, I have reached the point where I've done enough panels that I am now appointed moderator. Not that I haven't moderated before, but it definitely takes a certain skill set and ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Also helps if you have panelists who can engage the audience and each other, too. :-)

Well, as the headline indicates, lots going on. Not only have I been "drafted" to moderate panels, I've also been invited to co-author an anthology: Reel Dark. Details below. Please feel free to pass this submission info around. We're still seeking submissions in various genres.




CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: BlackWyrm Publishing is opening several positions in its spring short fiction anthology for general submissions. We offer professional rates (typically $.05/word, negotiable upon acceptance) for writers qualified to be full members of professional organizations such as the HWA, MWA, RWA, and SFWA; other stories accepted through general submissions receive a flat semi-professional rate of $25. All contributors receive copies. The collection, tentatively titled Reel Dark: Twisted Fantasies Projected on the Flickering Page, focuses on the infection of (prose-fictional or poetic) worlds by movies. We want innovative approaches: if you think endless references to films or characters stepping into or off of the screen is innovative, reconsider submitting. Although the anthology as a whole will be dark in tone, it will speak to a range of audiences interested in horror, science-fiction, fantasy, mystery/suspense, and/or romance (particularly paranormal). Stories should not exceed 3,500 words. Submissions are open now and close November 1, 2014. We intend to launch the collection at the World Horror Convention in May 2015. Submit stories in standard manuscript format viamovieantho@blackwyrm.com .Direct questions about the focus, rates, etc. to Editor-in-Chief L. Andrew Cooper via landrewcooper@blackwyrm.com Submissions sent directly to the editor will be deleted unread. Authors accepted or invited to submit may join the group at www.blackwyrm.com/movieantho for more information.

Certainly enough to keep this writer busy and out of trouble. 

Finally, the last bit of news, courtesy of my publisher Lyrical Press. They're now accepting psychological suspense/thrillers. I'm so excited. While I'll still write m/m romance, my heart and soul belong with the suspense genre. It's what I read growing up and what I started writing, along with horror. I'm currently working on a romantic-suspense book and am revising manuscripts long set aside.

The future looks promising.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Monthly Round-up: August 2014

We're over halfway through August already.  Where is this year going?  This means it's time for another report on what I've been up to writing-wise over the last month.

COMING SOON

I now have release dates for both the forthcoming Shara Summers novels.  DEATH SCENE is to be released on 22 September, and DEAD COOL on 25 November.  Though both books are e-book only, they will be available for pre-order through the MuseItUp website.

PROMOTIONAL NEWS

I've made a couple of guest appearances online since the last update. Details below:

13 August - I appeared on Kat Holmes' blog as part of her Summer Bash, talking about cultural displacement.
20 August - I was on Anne Stenhouse's blog with Five Fascinating Facts.  Well, I hope they were fascinating...

Con-wise, I went to the fabulous Geekfest, and had a fine old time.  Next up, FantasyCon in York, which will also be the last Con in my calendar.  At least for this year.  I'm already lining up my Con schedule for next year.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I have made a start on what I will hope be the final rewrite of the new horror novel, which is entitled THE WHISPERING DEATH.  I've worked out what I need to do with this, and feel happy with the way the rewrite is going so far.

September is looking like a horrendously busy month, with a lot of personal and day-job related stuff going on.  But with the release of DEATH SCENE on the horizon, there'll be plenty of writing-related stuff going on as well.  Catch you next month!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What Am I Doing At Geekfest?

It's nearly time for the Nineworlds Geekfest con! Last year was the first time this London-based convention - celebrating all things geeky - ran, and it was a fabulous event. This year sees it a bit more streamlined, but with just as packed a schedule, and I have no doubt it will be just as much fun.

Saturday I and other members of the T Party writers' group will be running an ideas-generating workshop entitled 'How to Beat Writers' Block'. This will be a series of exercises designed to trigger story ideas. Don't really want to say much about it at this stage (spoilers!) but we hope it will inspire people to go away and start writing something. In order for this to work we've limited it to 30 people so if you are attending the Con and fancy it, turn up early - it's on at 3:15 pm in the County A room.

After that I hope I get a chance to catch some panels before I am appearing on one myself - the intriguingly-entitled 'Noir - the Dirty Streets of Fiction' panel at 6:15 pm in County C&D. The only description we've been given of this is a quote from Raymond Chandler: "it seemed like a nice neighbourhood to have bad habits in". I've been thinking about this since I was asked to do the panel and I'm really looking forward to it. With noir finding its way into so many other genres, I think I can find a lot to say on this subject - assuming I don't get tongue-tied from the impressive line-up of Serious Writers on this panel (which include John Connolly, Will Hill, Daniel Polansky and Francis Knight).

I am also quite impressed with the Con's online schedule app, which not only allows each Con-goer to highlight individual sessions to create their own personal programme, but allows participants to see all of their activities all at once (here's mine).

There's also going to be a table for independent authors and small presses in the dealer room, so I shall take along a pile of SOUL SCREAMS to (hopefully) sell.

If you're at Geekfest do come and say hello - it's going to be a Con to remember.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fandom Fest "Four" the Win!

(Cross-posted)

Authors Melissa Goodman and Amy McCorkle
Wow! I can't believe this was my fourth year at Fandom Fest. Over that time, I've met some wonderful artists, authors, editors, and publishers.

This year I participated on two panels: "Stephen King" and "Grimm Fairy Tales to Disney Character Evolutions." In both panels the audience interacted with the panelists, which made for some interesting and thought-provoking discussions.

What made this year special was I had a print book for sale. All other years, I handed out swag - postcards, pens, trading cards, etc. I still had free promo, and I even made a sale because someone saw my display. So that was pretty cool.

And the print book? I brought five copies of The Ripper's Daughter (my leftover stock from previous book signings), and sold all five. Also sold a copy at the BlackWyrm Publishing table, making it six altogether. I know, it doesn't sound like a lot, but I'm still happy. Yes, it's the little things. LOL

Had a great time with fellow authors and friends, Missy Goodman and Amy McCorkle, and a special shout out to Stephen Zimmer, who helped organize the literary track.

Overall, Fandom Fest proved to be quite a successful year. Looking forward to Imaginarium this September.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cover Reveal: DEAD COOL

I am happy to be able to reveal the cover for the forthcoming Shara Summers mystery DEAD COOL, once more designed by the talented Charlotte Volnek.

Unlike DEATH SCENE, which was a re-release, DEAD COOL is a brand new title and the cover was previously uncharted territory. Trying to imagine what should be on the cover of a new book is always a challenge. You want something eye-catching, which will attract readers, and which will give a hint of what the story is about. I liked some of the features Charlie came up with for the DEATH SCENE cover and wanted some of the same things on this one - the clapperboard with 'Shara Summers mystery' on, and the same font for the title, for instance.

I wasn't initially happy with the first cover model. I was rather hoping for the same model as on the DEATH SCENE cover, in a different pose, but apparently that's not always possible with stock images. So on this cover Shara looks different than she does on the first cover. I am trying not to fixate too much on this. It's sort of like changing actresses for the same character in a soap. But that always bugged me, too.

Anyway, despite that it is a cool image. Shara has an appropriately 'rock chick' look in this, and I like the purple-tinted empty drum kit and microphone in the background, looking stark and sinister under the single spot.

DEAD COOL is scheduled for release by MuseItUp Publishing in mid-October. Woo hoo!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Monthly Round-up: July 2014

And I'm back for a look at what's been going on writing-wise in my world for the past month.

COMING SOON:

Edits continue apace on both DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL - in fact these have been keeping me extremely busy for the last few weeks. DEAD COOL is currently at a more advanced stage than DEATH SCENE.

It is looking likely at this stage that DEATH SCENE will have a mid-September release, and DEAD COOL will follow a month later. The good news is, pre-orders will be able to be placed and logged ahead of release date. The bad news is, I think this facility is only available to people in the US & Canada. My British fans are going to have to hold off until Autumn.

PROMOTIONAL NEWS:

I've been rather busy making guest appearances over the Internet over the past month. Here is a list of where you can find me, along with the links.

16 June - Susan A Royal (interview & blog swap)
17 June - Heather Fraser Brainerd & David Fraser (interview)
24 June - Heather Greenis (guest post)
25 June - The Poet's Fire (interview)
8 July - Helena Fairfax (guest post)
10 July - Mary Waibel (interview)

Convention-wise, I went to the Theakstons Old Peculier crime writing festival in Harrogate earlier this month. I met up with a lot of other crime writers, and handed out postcards with the cover image of DEATH SCENE on. I also left a pile of them on the book swap table, where everyone seemed to be leaving their promotional cards, and I was happy to note that they all disappeared. Whether or not this interest will manifest into sales I don't know, but I am happy that the cover is attracting people's interest. That's the first step, anyway.

Next up is the Nineworlds Geekfest convention in London in August, where the writing group is running a workshop of writing exercises designed to beat writers' block, and I will be participating in a panel on 'Noir' fiction in all its forms.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

I've actually got three, and they are all at a bit of an impasse.

1) The Collaboration:
This is the 1960s crime thriller I am working on with hubby. We worked on the plotting together, and I have finished the first draft, which I have since passed to him to read. He is presently working on plot holes that we need to work out how to fix.

2) The horror novel:
I believed this one to be finished, and earlier in the year I was sending it out. But identical comments were coming back with the rejections, which made me realise it needs another polish. I have yet to sit down and redraft it.

3) The third Shara book:
This began life a number of years ago as the second Shara book, and lurched to a halt because I had not plotted it properly. I abandoned it and started writing the novel that would eventually become DEAD COOL. Recently I've hauled it out in an attempt to dust it off and give it another go. But I need to fix the plot problems first, and take into account the fact that Shara starts this novel in a different place than she original did, after the events of DEAD COOL. It has been calling out to me to get back to it. But I know that if I start writing it again without working out the plot problems first, I'm going to stall in the same place I did the first time around. I will say that it's not that I don't know who the murderer is, because I do. It's the middle bit that's giving me problems with this one, and the logistics behind how Shara solves the murder.

I am ashamed to say that in spite of having three works on the go, I haven't done much work on any of them for nearly three weeks. My excuse is that having two books to edit has been keeping me busy. But that's not a very good excuse.

I am setting a pledge to myself. By the time I come to you with August's update, I must have made progress on at least one of these WIPs.

Till next time, then...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Recalculating": Adventures at Film-Com

This past month, I had the opportunity to attend Film-Com, a "packaging, financing, and distribution market" in Nashville. Industry professionals included financiers, producers, writers, and attorneys. Film-Com wasn't a film festival, but it drew many film and TV people, particularly those looking for their shows or movies to be picked up for distribution.

My friend Amy McCorkle was there with her documentary Letters to Daniel. Due to good luck and timing, we scored a private meeting with a producer who asked me to send a copy of one of my books. I hope he enjoys it, but I'm also well aware that in Hollywood it's very difficult if not impossible to sell or option a screenplay or a book. If authors think it takes persistence to get published, it takes a lot more to deal with the machinations of Hollywood.

If I'm lucky enough to hear any good news, of course I'll share it. :-)

We arrived in Nashville on Tuesday, with our meeting with the producer Wednesday at 7 AM. Needless to say, I didn't want to oversleep and so got no sleep. We drove from Franklin, TN to Nashville via the interstate and a GPS that kept insisting I turn down a road we hadn't even arrived at yet. Needless to say, "Recalculating" was a term I heard more than I wanted to. On our last day, when we were headed to Titan Stadium, I gave Amy a print out of Google Maps and said, "We're using this." Unlike the GPS, we had no problem reaching our destination. Go figure.

Oh, yeah, that 7 AM meeting? We made it to the downtown hotel at 6:30 AM, and he was waiting in the lobby. I'm glad we didn't make him wait.

Wednesday was also a day for panels. Amy and I attended "How to Launch Scripted Television Concepts,"
"Documentaries - Financing and Distribution," "Features - Financing, Packaging, and Distribution," and "Genre Picture Funding," the last one focusing primarily on horror films.

Being a horror writer turned out to be an advantage and I met a few people who seemed to like that I wrote macabre. When I mentioned being old school (influenced by Hitchcock, Serling, etc.), they knew who I was talking about.

I enjoyed Film-Com. It was well-organized and the volunteers rocked. Not to mention, I love Nashville. If the chance arises to attend Film-Com next year, you'd better believe I'm going.

But this time, I'll be staying in a hotel downtown. :-)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Monthly Round-Up: June 2014

In an attempt to try and be more diligent in my writerly blogs - which are technically supposed to happen once a week, on Wednesdays (sorry, I'm a day late) - I am endeavouring to make the round-up post a monthly feature.  This will be a regular update on forthcoming releases, works in progress and promotional appearances.  Without further ado, here is the news for this month.

COMING SOON:

The MUI re-release of DEATH SCENE is at line edit stage so progressing well. Still no confirmed release date, but likely to be end of June.  Watch this space for more news.

Edits on DEAD COOL are also progressing.  This is scheduled for release in the Autumn, so it's likely to be September/October time.  My editor has been enthusing about what a good read it is, so I am feeling encouraged.

PROMOTIONAL NEWS:

I've been busy with the publicity train this month, with two guest appearances in the first half of June, and I'm talking about DEATH SCENE and my writing process in both.  Marsha R West features me as her Tuesday author chat and I'm also chatting to fellow crime writer Joan C Curtis this week on her Joan Says blog.  Joan and I are clearly on the same wavelength - not only do we both write crime, but we have both got the same idea for blog names (since mine began life as Sara Says).

Next month I will also be attending the Theakstons Crime & Mystery Conference at Harrogate, Yorkshire, to hang out with other crime writers.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

I am nearing the end of the first draft of the 1960s crime thriller.  As this is a collaboration with my husband, I will be handing it to him once the first draft is done, for him to do some work on it.  We've never collaborated on a project before and this one is in an early stage, so it will be a bit of a learning curve for both of us.

And the third Shara book is currently demanding quite loudly to be written.  So I would like to get started on that soon.

That's about it for this month.  Further updates to come in July!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Books, Books and E-books

Ever since I first learned how to read, I have spent much of my time with my nose in a book. I was starting to read by myself by age seven, I think. That's a good 37 years ago. I have devoured a great many books in that time.

In recent years there has been much debate about the format of books - hardback; paperback; e-book. In my own personal library, there are more paperbacks than anything else. But this is largely because I have been a commuter for the last 25 years, and most of my reading has been done on the train to and from work. Paperbacks are much more transportable than hardbacks. In the last four years or so I've had an e-reader and have been collecting e-books, and it won't be long before they overtake the number of paperbacks, even given their relatively recent appearance on the market.

I also possess a number of hardbacks in my library. Most of them have come my way as gifts, from someone who wants to buy me the absolute latest novel by one of my favourite authors, and who feels that a hardback is a more substantial gift than a paperback. I also have hardbacks that are personalised and signed by the author, because I went to their signing session and bought the book.

Ultimately the format is not as important as the words in the page. Books can transport you into another world. They are an escape from everyday life. They are the key to you becoming someone else, even if just for a few hours.  A dashing and brave hero. A magician with superior intellect. A hard-bitten cynical cop. The daring captain of a spaceship. Whatever you want to be, the words of a novel can take you there.

And yet the format of a book still matters, even though it shouldn't. Many people insist they don't like the idea of e-books because they prefer the feel of a 'proper' book. As if e-books are somehow not 'proper' books. I must admit I was a tad suspicious about them myself, until I got my first e-reader and realised how wonderful they were. No longer do I have to weigh down my suitcase with half a dozen books when I go on holiday for two weeks - all I need is my Kindle, and I have all the books I want. If I finish reading a book on the way into work, I don't have to lug another around another for the journey home, I just open up another book on the Kindle. My handbag is much lighter with the Kindle in, instead of a paper book. I am someone who has a book with her at all times, no matter where she is going. And a Kindle is so much easier to transport. It will practically fit into a pocket.

My e-reader has also allowed me to buy more books.  I browse the 99p books in the Kindle e-book store almost daily.  Quite often if I am intrigued by a book's cover and blurb I will decide to take a chance on it because it's not a lot of money to part with, and it might lead me to discover a wonderful new author.  One click is all it takes to buy that book and transfer it to my Kindle.  It's ready to begin reading mere seconds later.  And best of all, I don't have to find shelf space for all these new books because they don't take up physical space.

Yet in spite of this, I haven't stopped buying paper books. I will go to signing sessions and buy hardbacks. I will browse second hand book shops and buy books that take my fancy. I still browse book shops, heaven forbid, and take a punt on a new author's paperback simply because the cover and blurb on the back attract me. And I don't think this will ever change.

As a lover of books in all formats, it worries me there's still some resistance to e-books - occasionally even from publishers, though this is getting better. Only this morning I was reading an article in the news stating that e-book sales are predicted to overtake paper book sales in the UK by 2018.  And a spokesperson for a particular publisher was quoted about how e-books have revitalised the book market, with the technology to make e-books available on tablets and so forth making reading accessible to people who never used to be book buyers.

I'm not someone who gives books to charity shops when she's re-read them.  Maybe this is a selfish attitude, but I like to have books available to re-read at a future date.  Going back to a favourite book is like visiting an old friend you haven't seen in a while.  Hardbacks do make this a bit problematic, though, when most of my reading is done on the move.  I'm in the process of re-reading Sara Paretsky's VI Warshawski books, and the next book on the list is BODY WORK. My copy of this is a hardback, signed to me personally by Sara because I met the great lady herself at the UK launch for this book. And as she is one of my favourite authors of all time, I will treasure it. Having paid £15 for this signed copy, I don't particularly want to have it bashed about in my bag on the train, or dropped in the bath, or whatever. Ideally I'd like to keep the hardback on the shelf and have a electronic version to re-read, but this would mean having to pay for a second copy of a book I already legitimately own.

I'm sure I'm not the only reader out there who likes to have shelves surrounded by books, whilst enjoying the convenience that an e-reader brings to the reading experience.  I'd like to see publishers bundling a free e-book version of a novel with every hardback edition sold.  That would certainly encourage me to buy more hardbacks to fill up my bookshelves at home, and I'd still get to enjoy the convenience of my e-reader on my daily commute.

A few years ago there seemed to be much suspicion in the publishing world, and a widely held view that e-books would see the end of paper books.  I maintained then, and still maintain now, that there is room in the world for e-books and paper books to exist together, and there does seem to be more people acknowledging this now.  But there's still a way to go before e-books and paperbacks are truly equal.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The End In Sight

I got the early train into London this morning for an early-morning Starbucks writing session - something I have not done in a while, it must be said.  In fact looking at my writing log made me realise the last writing session was dated 16 April - over a month ago.  I will say at this point I am rather anal about logging my writing sessions, noting word count and date of every one.  It helps me keep track of my monthly word count, and also how long it takes me to finish each draft.  But it also makes me aware of how long it's been since the last session.

Why the gap?  The end of April and beginning of May was manically busy in the day job, and I was also working on edits for both DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL, which made it hard for me to get my head around working on the WIP as well.  And then I was away for two weeks.  I did actually take the Netbook away with me, with the idea that if it was raining I might get some time to sit in the hotel room and write, but well...the weather was glorious and the writing didn't happen.

Anyway.  Now I am back home again and trying to get back into my usual routine, including the early-morning writing sessions.  The current work in progress is the 1960s crime thriller, and this morning was a good session.  I've been wrestling with the climax of this one, but now I feel that the end is in sight.  The novel still needs a great deal of work - I am not deluding myself about that.  But I am nearing the end of the first draft.  And I've always seen the first draft as putting the scaffolding in place.  Once you've got that, you can start the real building work.

The main issue with this novel will be research.  It's set in 1967, and spans San Francisco, London and Vietnam.  This is not an era I was alive to witness, but there are plenty of people around who were, and they'll notice if I get it wrong.  The parts of the novel set in Vietnam - which is effectively the final section of the story - is proving particularly tricky.  This was a very emotive point in history.  In particular I want to know what Long Binh looked like in 1967.

Research has never been my strong point, and I've never let a mere thing like getting the facts right stop me from getting stuck into the first draft.  Of course, this generally means a great deal of changes between the first draft and future drafts.  Fortunately, the Internet has made doing research a great deal easier than it used to be.  A quick search has revealed that there are a lot of personal accounts and photos from soldiers who lived through the Vietnam war out there in the public domain, and careful research will help me ensure I get it right.

For me, the most important thing is to get to the end of draft 1.  I'm not there yet with this WIP.  But I can just glimpse the light at the end of the long tunnel.

After that, the real work starts.  Doing the research, getting the facts right, sorting out the plot holes, working out what's not working and what's not in the novel that should be.  But all that will come later.  For now, I'm focusing on getting to the end.  And I feel like I'm almost there.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Double Duty

I set myself a pretty challenging goal yesterday. Enter Exterminating Angel in a screenplay contest. Deadline? May 31.

Yeah, pretty audacious. If nothing else, it forces me to work on a self-imposed deadline. That's the problem when you don't have any books under contract. It's easy to put revising or writing off, thinking, well, I don't have to worry about a deadline. And those days can pass into weeks, months, etc. You get the idea.

Do I expect to win this contest? No. Although the last screenplay contest I entered, I made it to the second round, but no farther. Must be doing something right.

My interest in screenplay writing started in college, when I met a fellow screenplay writer, who has gone on to option and sell several screenplays. But I didn't start writing one until a few years after graduating with a BA degree in English. Poetry and short stories dominated my writing, and while I still write short stories, I rarely write poems.

Granted, my early screenwriting endeavors suck. I have to admit I think the screenplay adaptations of Death Sword and Exterminating Angel are better than my first three efforts. Of course, I had the material available so I didn't have to come up with settings or dialogue. But one of the things about adapting a screenplay lies in understanding what should and should not be included. For example, no interior thoughts. Sure, one could use voice overs, but a general rule is if you can't see or hear it, it doesn't belong on the screen.

Meantime, I should hear about another screenplay contest I entered, although I doubt I'll move on to the next level in that one.




Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Exterminating Angel is Live

It's been over a year, but Exterminating Angel is now available. I'm a little nervous in that I have a Stoker-winning author reading it, but he was also a major inspiration, and I felt it only right to offer him a copy.

What are my plans for EA? Adapting it into a screenplay, and perhaps having a Facebook launch party, although I'm still debating that. I've written a spin off, although I sometimes think I'm really just procrastinating on another angel PNR. :-)

So, time to break out the virtual champagne and toss the virtual confetti. Say hi to Zaphkiel and company. Yes, some of them are archangels, but their behavior is anything but.

Blurb:

Making a deal with the Devil is the least of his problems.

Zaphkiel, a chain-smoking, hard-drinking archangel, never intended to unleash the sun demon upon the city. Bad enough his boss wants him dead, and this recent crime is the perfect excuse. The timing couldn't be worse. Somehow, Zaphkiel's executed lover, Caliel, is alive and reincarnated as Sean. Zaphkiel is thrilled to be reunited with Caliel again, but will his lover feel the same when he learns Zaphkiel's darkest secret?

Hired by Lucifer, Sean wants nothing more than to fit in. But how can he compete when the Devil's friends include archangels and a Tarot reader, and he was born without special abilities? Or so he believes. The Tarot hints there may be more to him than he realizes.

Recruited by the Devil to find the two pentacles sun demon Sorath plans to use to destroy the universe, Zaphkiel and Sean find themselves pawns in a game of power and control. If the archangel gives his boss the pentacles, Ophaniel will overlook his crime. But Zaphkiel knows he can't trust either Ophaniel or Sorath, and the deal he's made with the Devil could cost him not only his life, but also the lover he believed gone forever.

M/M sexual practices, occult themes, some violence, graphic descriptions

Buy Link: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/30226





Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cover Reveal for DEATH SCENE Re-release

At last I can reveal the cover for the MuseItUp re-release of DEATH SCENE.  And doesn't it look fab?  With this book being a re-release, the question of what to do with the cover seemed to be more problematic than the first time around.   The first cover was much simpler - the comedy/tragedy masks on a black background, with a backdrop of red theatre curtains.  I was very pleased with that cover.

But this time around, I wanted something a bit different.  I wanted an image of my main character on the cover.  I wanted something to suggest 'action' and 'mystery', and yet still wanted to suggest the theatrical nature of my amateur sleuth's main profession.  This cover, by the fabulous Charlotte Volnek, does all of this and more.

And for the first time, Shara Summers appears on the cover of a book.  I will say that this image is not how I initially pictured her.  But it seems somehow right, and I love it.  Here she looks mysterious and sort of ordinary, and that really fits the character.  She also has, here, a passing resemblance to the model on the original covers of Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski series.  And since Shara was inspired by V.I. Warshawski, that fits too.

This may not have been how I imagined Shara when I wrote the first two books about her.  But it's how I'm going to see her from now on, and it's how I'll picture her when I write the next book.

Release date for DEATH SCENE is not yet confirmed, but it's looking likely to be June some time.  And at present, I'm busy lining up blog tours.

In the meantime, I'm knee deep in edits for both Shara books.  So I'd best get to it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Further Adventures of Shara Summers

My editor at MuseItUp has been quite busy.  Not only have I received the second round of edits on DEATH SCENE from her, I've also received the first round of DEAD COOL edits.

 As well as meaning I know what I'll be doing for the Easter weekend, it makes the whole thing a bit more real.  DEATH SCENE is scheduled for release next month.  DEAD COOL will follow a few months later.

This is all very exciting stuff, particularly with a series that I had pretty much given up on completely at one point (and if you're a recent visitor to this blog, go to my Imaginary Friends blog and do a search on the Shara Summers tag to get a better idea of what I'm talking about here).  Shara now has a home with MuseItUp.  And with the contract for DEAD COOL stating that they want first refusal of any sequel, it makes writing more Shara books an attractive prospect.  When I thought I was writing the second book of a series that no one was going to buy, I found it a bit discouraging to carry on with it.

The homage to Agatha Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, which I started writing as the original sequel to DEATH SCENE and then gave up halfway through, I am now giving serious thought to reviving as the third book in the Shara series.  This one originally suffered from lack of plotting, when I got stuck halfway through and abandoned because I made the mistake of starting to write the book without working out first how it was going to end.

The thing is, though, there was a publisher last year I sent DEAD COOL to and it got a very enthusiastic response from the editor there.  So much so that she asked questions about the first book, and the third, and at one point we were talking about a three book deal.

Sadly in the end this did not lead to a deal - not because of the editor, who remained enthusiastic, but apparently she could not convince her sales people that there was a market for a contemporary British-based Amateur sleuth in the US, and the US was too big a market for them to overlook this.  And that's a whole different topic - let's not go there.

The point of mentioning this is that when this editor asked me for a plot summary of Book 3, as part of her negotiations with the marketing people, I had to come up with one quickly.  This obliged me to go back to my half-finished novel and decide how it was going to end.  This plot summary is something I now do as a matter of course (see last week's post on Plotting), but at the time I started this manuscript I didn't, and it became one of the many casualties I abandoned halfway through before I learned the valuable lesson about how important it is to plot.

Anyway, the point of this rather roundabout tale is that because of this sequence of events I now have a complete plot outline for the next Shara book.  And I'm starting to feel increasingly enthusiastic about writing this book.

There are other, less developed ideas as well for other Shara books.  I want to take her back to New York (where she starts out in the opening scene of DEATH SCENE), in a story that will involve a secondary character in DEAD COOL (no spoilers!).  So maybe that's book 4.

On the first round, Shara didn't reach a very big audience.  But there are a handful of loyal fans out there who are interested in what happens to her next.

When one of them happens to be your editor, it does renew your faith in your character.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Plotting

On the crime panel at Sci Fi Weekender, I found myself - quite literally - between two opposing views on plotting.  At one end of the table was a writer who was evangelical about the importance of plotting.  At the other end of the table was a writer who says she never plots and believes she would lose interest in writing about her characters if she knew what was going to happen to them next.  I was sitting in the middle.

I was struck by how neatly this set up demonstrated opposing views on plotting.  Some writers are plotters, some are 'seat of pantsers', but rarely have I seen two extremes demonstrated so neatly on the same panel.   And it inspired me to come up with this post.

I am on the side of the plotters, I have to say.  But it hasn't always been that way, and it has been my own experience that has brought me to this way of thinking.

When I started writing SUFFER THE CHILDREN, it was based on a short story called "Kiddiwinks".  The story was basically about a group of children telling scary stories to each other about the witch that allegedly lives in the haunted house.  They dare each other to go in and discover that it is, indeed, occupied by a sinister old woman.  Who, they learn too late, eats children.  The writing group encouraged me to turn this short story into a novel, and the premise behind SUFFER THE CHILDREN was born.

When I began the novel I knew the monster was to be a mythological creature, and that the main characters would have to defeat the creature.  What I didn't know at the time was how they were going to do that.  I began the first draft, thinking that ideas would come to me as I went along.  I ended up writing half the novel, and then got stuck.  I went back to the beginning, and re-wrote the first half, but I was still stuck at the same point.  My characters were floundering around saying that they had to defeat this evil creature, but they had no idea how to do it, and neither did I.  I put the novel away, for a good five years - writing short stories in the mean time.  I dreaded going back to it.  I had no idea how I was going to write myself out of the hole I'd dug for myself.

But I wanted to finish the novel, and eventually I bit the bullet and realised I had to work out how it was going to end.  So I went back to the beginning and wrote a three-page summary of the whole novel.  From there I took that summary and broke it down into a chapter by chapter plan, from beginning to end.

At that point, I went back and started the novel over.  And lo and behold I got to the end of the first draft.

I have used this technique for writing ever since.  I write the plot summary first - usually it runs to three pages.  I break that down into a chapter by chapter outline.  Only then do I start writing the first draft.

Some people baulk at such a regimented plan, but this is now the only way I can write a novel.  It means that every time I sit down for a writing session, I review what I wrote last time, and I look at my chapter plan and I know what's going to happen next.  Sometimes my chapter plan is quite brief - it might say, for instance, that in chapter 10 my amateur sleuth has to discover X about this character, which turns out to be a vital clue.  But how she's going to discover this piece of information I still have to think about when I sit down to write the chapter.

This doesn't mean that things always go to plan.  Writing the first draft of DEAD COOL I was surprised to discover about three quarters of the way through the first draft that the killer was not who I initially thought it was.  But knowing the identity of the real killer suddenly made a lot of things in the plot that hadn't been making sense click into place, and all I actually had to do to correct the second draft was to plant a couple of extra clues and rewrite a few scenes with different characters.  And of course it did change the ending a bit.

If you're a pantser and not a plotter, I am not disrespecting the way you work.  Everyone has to find the system that works for them.  But I will say, as a reader, I can tell when a book has not been plotted.  Generally the book will start off with the characters heading in a certain direction, and suddenly they'll lurch off and head in a completely different direction. Some people might say that they enjoy unexpected twists like this, but I tend to find them a bit off-putting.  But this is just me.  On the whole, I don't like surprises.

Perhaps we can liken writing a novel to taking a journey.  A plotter takes the GPS, and the map.  They've studied the route beforehand, they know where they are going and how they are going to get there.  There are no surprises.  This is the way I work.  Occasionally I might take a slightly different road than the GPS suggests, because instinct suggests there's a better way, but only if I'm confident that I'm still going to end up in the same place.

A pantser, on the other hand, will get in the car and start driving.  For them, it's about the journey, not the destination.  They will get lost, they will arrive very late, they might end up someplace completely unexpected, but they enjoy the journey and not knowing what's around the next corner.
Plotting and pantsing is reflected in reading preferences, too.  I much prefer to read books that are plot driven, with a clear beginning, middle and end.  Readers who are more fond of character-driven books and 'surprises' are going to be more fond of writers who don't plot.  And I suspect such readers may not get on very well with my books - they might consider them too predictable.

This is one of those issues that always causes lively debate - there's no right or wrong answer, it's entirely down to personal preference.  Whether you're a reader, or a writer, where do you stand?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Con Season

Galt House, Louisville, KY
It's April. That means con season is in full swing. This year, I'm planning to attend ConGlomeration, Fandom Fest, Night Risers, and Imaginarium. This isn't the complete list. Depending on my publisher, I may add a few more.

This year will be different for me now that I have a print book to sell. Before, I would have promo materials available: postcards, pens, magnets, business cards, even free CDs with PDFs of my short stories. I participated on panels or did readings whenever possible. This year, at ConGlomeration, I'm on two panels: "Thrill of the Kill" and "Beyond the Grave." I'm also doing an official book launch for The Ripper's Daughter, and doing a reading with fellow authors.

Why attend a con? From a writer's perspective, it's a way to meet fellow authors, engage with readers, and get your brand out there. My publisher encourages authors to participate on panels, and to help work toward building a readership, not just with our particular books, but books by our fellow authors. A win-win situation for everyone.

Time to fill up the gas tank, set the GPS, and get ready to hit the highways.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One Day to Sci Fi Weekender

Tomorrow I'm off to my first convention of the year - the fifth Sci Fi Weekender, in North Wales.
It's the third year I've attended this Con, and I always look forward to it.  It's a Con to celebrate all things geeky in TV, film and books, and it actively encourages Cosplay.  Seeing all the incredible costumes is always a highlight of the Con.
This year I'm looking forward to it all the more as I am on several panels.  As it happens they are all on Saturday afternoon - at least I get them all out of the way at once.  At 2pm I am on a panel called 'Does Crime Pay', exploring the concept that 'crime is the new black'.  Then I've got a bit of a break, but can't go too far as at 3pm I'm moderating the 'Blurred Lines' panel discussing cross-genre.  And I still haven't come up with questions for the panel yet.  So I know what I shall be doing tonight.
And following that I'm on the next panel too, which is exploring what makes science fiction - 'from Space Opera to Dystopian Futures', the panel description says.  I suspect it was my public declaration of love for Star Wars that got me on that one.
With only a day to go, the usual dilemma has reared its head - what to wear for a Con?  I'm not organised enough to put a costume together.  The usual fall-back Con wear is jeans and a Geek t-shirt.  However, I have recently realised that I literally have a drawer full of Geek t-shirts, reflecting an array of geeky interests - Star Wars; Buffy; Dr Who.  I've even got a Resident Evil 4 t-shirt.  So which ones do I pack?  My favourite Con t-shirt is the girlie pink one with the cartoon grim reaper on that says 'Horror Writer'.  But I wore that at the last Con.  Can a self-respecting geek be seen in public wearing the same t-shirt at every Con?
If you're going to be at the convention, do stop by and say hello.  And if you're not - well, I'll catch up with you when I return to normal life. 
In the meantime, I'm off to go ransack my t-shirt drawer and think up intelligent questions for my panel.
   

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Another Promotional Round-up

This blog has been a bit quiet of late, and for that I apologise.  We had an unexpected burst of Spring here in London last weekend, and we all went rushing outside to make the most of it.  Sadly it seemed to have been a blip, with normal UK weather restored in time for the working week.  After basking in the garden in a t-shirt on Sunday, I was obliged to get back into my coat and scarf on Monday.  Still, at least the rain has been holding off of late.

And in the meantime I've been very busy in cyberspace, with two more guest appearances in the last week or so.

First up, I was interviewed by Pete Sutton for his BRSBKBLOG blog, which is described as 'Adventures in Publishing'.  We talked a lot about the creation of my amateur sleuth Shara Summers, and the forthcoming re-release of DEATH SCENE, and you can find the interview here.

This week, I've been visiting 'Waibel's World', blog of fellow MuseItUp author Mary Waibel, and talking about how being a writer is both a curse and a blessing.

And finally, it's just over two weeks until the Sci Fi Weekender in Wales, my first Con of 2014.  This year, not only am I going, I'm on the programme.  I'm very excited to have received preliminary details this week about the panels I'll be on.  All will be revealed soon!

In the meantime, if you'll be at the Con, do stop by and say hello.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My First Print Book

Front Cover: The Ripper's Daughter
I'm so excited! This evening, I got the news via Facebook that copies of my latest release, The Ripper's Daughter, had arrived. The goal was to have them ready for a local author fair this weekend.

The Ripper's Daughter is my first print book. This is a significant moment for me. It gives me opportunities I never had before. I can set up signings, sell my book at local cons, donate copies to my local libraries, etc.

The Ripper's Daughter is the second vampire historical book I've written, the first set during the French Revolution. This one was written during NaNoWriMo in 2011, and was partly based on my fascination with the Ripper case. Of course, this is my fictional take.

Blurb:

Louisville, Kentucky 1898

Ten years earlier, Jack the Ripper terrorized London's Whitechapel district. Assigned to the case, Detective Inspector Nathan James discovered the Ripper's true nature, and made a decision that changed his life. But the murders stopped and the Ripper disappeared.
Now living in Louisville, Kentucky, Nathan runs a saloon, while trying to keep his relationship with his manservant, Stephen, secret. He's never forgotten his failure to stop the Ripper, and when murdered prostitutes start showing up, suspects the elusive killer stalks the city's streets. But is the Ripper responsible for these deaths, and will he reveal Nathan and Stephen's darkest secret?

Currently available from:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Commercial Break

As we settle into 2014 I've been rather busy with promotional stuff, so I thought it was appropriate for a general update on what I've been up to of late.

Firstly, a round-up of guest appearances on the Internet for 2014. At the end of January, I featured on Chris Weigand's Palace of Twelve Pillars blog, talking about how I was inspired to create my amateur sleuth Shara Summers. Earlier this month I visited Janie Franz's blog Anasazi Dreams, talking about ambition and discipline being the tools of a writer. And most recently I've visited Helena Fairfax's blog, where we've been reminiscing about childhood holidays in Blackpool.

All of this is an endeavour to drum up interest in the Shara Summers series, as the first two books are being released by MuseItUp this year. The first, DEATH SCENE, is a re-release. The previous version is no longer available, but the re-release will be out in the summer. If you haven't been introduced to Shara yet, this is the one to start with. And if you've already read DEATH SCENE, a new publisher means new round of edits, so this version will be slightly different than the first.

If you enjoy meeting Shara in the first book, the second book in the series, DEAD COOL, will be released in Autumn so you won't have to wait too long to catch up with her again.

Thus far, I don't have definitive release dates or covers for either book. But you'll be the first to know when I do, so watch this space.  In the meantime, if you want a sneak peek, there's a blurb about each on the 'Coming Soon' page on my website.

And finally, if your tastes run to darker fiction, I've got some back listed horror titles that might be to your liking. SUFFER THE CHILDREN - available on the Kindle (US and UK) - is a supernatural horror novel with its roots based in mythology. And SOUL SCREAMS - available in print and ebook - is a collection of short horror stories about "that inner scream no one can hear but you". It's recently received some rather positive reviews on Goodreads, and if creepy stories are your thing, it might be right up your alley.

All this is why I've not had much time for the blog recently.  But of course that's a poor excuse, and I hope that from now on I can improve on this year's track record.

If you've recently discovered this blog, I bid you welcome and I hope you'll stick around for a while.  If you've been following from the beginning, I'd like to say thank you for bearing with me - your support means a lot.  It's going to be a busy year for me, writing-wise, and I hope you'll join me for the ride.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Wish

Maybe this will be my year, publishing wise. Death Sword was offered a (back list) contract by Kensington/Lyrical Press, and I have a release date for Exterminating Angel. That means I'll have two short novels, plus two short stories out. While I don't have a release date for "Gabrielle" (Hekate Press), it should be this year. Add to that my five anthology stories and I have to admit I'm not doing too badly. Add to that the partial and completed manuscripts and ideas, and I have material for a few years at least.

Sometimes, though, I feel I don't have the support of my fellow authors, that I don't fit in. I stopped going to one writing group because I sensed some members didn't like my subject matter: m/m romance. Another group seemed to be dominated by a few individuals, and, quite honestly, ruined that group for me, although I like several of the authors there.

My wish is for readers. And it's not like I haven't tried to reach out to them. Sometimes I wonder if they got lost. :-(  I keep hoping that maybe things will get better. I think the Ten Tales anthology stories are helping. Have to admit, it's a great feeling when a reviewer likes my story. Not that it happens with every review, but when I collect my stories together to publish in a collection, I plan to mention those particular reviews to the publisher. (I have a couple of local publishers in mind for this collection, which is an ongoing work in progress.)

Also, I should have some more good news soon. But I can't say anything just yet. Soon, though. It took almost a year, but when they say "patience is a virtue," yeah, I can say sometimes it pays off. :-)




Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Shara Summers Series

When I started shopping DEAD COOL to publishers, I made mention of the fact that it was the second book in a series and that the first, though published, was due to have rights revert back to me fairly soon.  This was entirely true, but I had no idea whether or not the information would help.  I didn't think, at the time, that any publisher would be interested in taking on a book that was effectively a back list title.  In fact I'd already started thinking about possibly self-publishing DEATH SCENE when the rights came back.  What else was I going to do with it?

And then when MuseItUp Publishing took on DEAD COOL they also expressed interest in the first book in the series when the rights became available.

And so it is that DEATH SCENE, though not currently available, will be released by MuseItUp later this year.  Before DEAD COOL, as it happens.

DEATH SCENE is to be released Spring/Summer (which I gather can mean any time between March and August), with DEAD COOL scheduled for release in Autumn (September-November).  Once I have a better idea of dates, I will of course publicise this.

The irony in all this is that the when I was shopping DEAD COOL around to publishers, at the same time as my horror novel, the amateur sleuth novel was the one I was least confident about.  And yet, in the end, not only did I get a request for a full manuscript from every single publisher I sent the first three chapters to, in the end it got picked up first.  Thus proving that sometimes writers get far too close to their own work to be able to offer a balanced viewpoint.

So the Shara Summers books are now officially a series.  And with books 1 and 2 having a home together, I'm seriously thinking about writing book 3.

Up to now Shara's been largely ignored.  Let's hope that with her first two adventures being released into the wide world this year, she'll finally start to make an impact.  I think there's life in the old girl yet.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Gabrielle" Cover Reveal

"Gabrielle" Cover
Wanted to share my new cover for my short dark fiction story, "Gabrielle," designed by Delilah K. Stephans, to be published by Hekate Press. Like "Family Tradition," "Gabrielle" features an artist, in this case, a ballerina, who finds herself trapped in circumstances beyond her control.

Whenever I write dark fiction, I try to go for a macabre atmosphere, something like in Thriller, Twilight Zone, or Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I want the horror to creep up on the reader, get under the skin, and leave him or her with a lingering memory long after the last page. With "Gabrielle," I hope I've succeeded in doing this.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Hop

I’m a bit late to this party.  I was tagged by Christopher Mannino earlier this month to participate in a blog hop on the writing process.

Actually ‘blog hop’ is a bit of a misnomer for this one - it’s more a blog chain, as the three people you tag then have to take the same questions to their own blog.

Hence, here is my shout-out to Christopher – you can learn more about him on his blog and his website.

And here are my answers to the four questions.

1) What am I working on?

I’m working on a historical crime thriller that I am collaborating on with my husband.  It’s set in the 1960s, and is about a young woman who aspires to be a bass player, searching for her friend who’s disappeared whilst exploring the vibrant London music scene of the era.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I love strong women, and am drawn to writing about independent-minded female characters.  My amateur sleuths always have something a little bit different about them.  My forthcoming release with MuseItUp, DEAD COOL, features a Canadian actress who lives in London and notices cultural differences here and there (while solving murders, of course).  In the current work in progress my heroine, Alex, comes to London because she longs to join a band and she is learning to play bass guitar, but it is set in 1967 and she encounters a lot of prejudice – there weren’t too many women bass players in those days.

I like satisfactory endings, but I’m not fond of ‘happy ever after’.  To me, an ending must resolve the plot satisfactorily and tie up all relevant loose ends, but things don’t always go the way my characters want them to, and sometimes they have to deal with the consequences of their actions or simply that life isn’t always fair.

3) Why do I write what I do?

My writing is often cathartic.  Sometimes the only way I can deal with unpleasant or negative feelings is to write about them.  Which is generally why my stories tend to be quite dark.  Happy feelings I don’t write about because I try to hold on to them.  It’s only the bad feelings I want to exorcise, by putting them into my writing.

4) How does my writing process work?

I tend to spend a lot of time on plotting before I start working on a novel.  I’ve learned the hard way that’s the best way for me to work – I’ve got too many half-finished novels languishing in drawers because I couldn’t figure out how they were going to end.

I will try and work out a rough outline of the plot first, and then I will take this and break it down further into a chapter-by-chapter outline before I start writing chapter 1.  This plan is not set in stone - as I start to write the first draft I will often find the characters will take me places I hadn’t thought about in the plot outline, but it means when I sit down to write, I’ve got a good idea about what happens next, and it makes it easier to get to the end of draft 1.  Once draft 1 is done, I go back over the novel and work on as many revisions as it takes before it’s done.  I’m a big believer of ‘fixing it in the rewrite’.  It’s OK for the early drafts to be rubbish.  There’s always room to sort out those plot holes or tighten up that dialogue in the next draft.

I have a day job, and a long commute into London to get to it, so finding time to write can often be a challenge.  I find my most productive sessions are done on my NetBook, in coffee shops, before work.  Sometimes I get up at 5:30am and take the early train in to London so I can get an hour of writing in before heading to the office.  I never considered myself a morning person, and I hate setting the alarm so early, but it works for me so I stick with it.

Here are my three tagged authors, who will be picking up the baton over the next couple of weeks.  Do go and check them out.
  1. Janie Franz (http://janiefranz.fourfour.com/home)
  2. Suzanne de Montigny (www.suzannedemontigny.com)
  3. Rosemary Morris (http://www.rosemarymorris.blogspot.co.uk/