Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Monday’s Friend: Sarah E Smith

Today’s guest is fellow KGHH author and crime writer Sarah E Smith. Welcome, Sarah!

Inside the Mind
By Sara E Smith

A couple of months ago, Sara asked me to blog about my processes, and whether it’s changed as I’ve developed as a writer. So I thought I’d explain how I do a whodunnit and why Byrd books are taking much longer to write than the Secret of Aldwych Strand did.

For mesarah e smith (2), writing a time travel trilogy was like falling off a log. Mark and Lucy’s story oozed from every pore. Tumbling like a river in flood; desperate to reach the world. This new set of books is best compared to wading through treacle without waders.  Symington, Earl Byrd,  my latest creation for KGHH publishing, is a gentleman detective; living and working at the start of the 20th century. His world is dark and dangerous. His opponents vicious, clever, and always one step ahead. Hence the treacle. I had to rethink how I wrote; had to become more methodical. Plot more, think more. Draft and discard more.

You see whilst I know exactly who the murderers are and why they have committed such heinous crimes, these tales aren’t put together from chapter one to chapter last.

Right from the beginning, before you write the words Chapter One, it’s important to know who the murderer is and why their victim, or victims, had to die. So, I write the murderer’s confession first. You know the drill: “Of course, I murdered Major Plumb in the Study with the lead piping…” and in early draft, this section always ends with: “And I would have got away with it, were it not for you pesky kids.”

After establishing the who and why, I write the first murder and continue up to the point where Byrd shows how clever he is by examining the evidence at the crime scene.  Then I stop, and write Byrd’s final speech to the suspects: “I’ve called you all here today to…” This allows me to establish the red herrings,  and the lies these people need to tell during the rest of the tale in order to make them possible murderers.

From then on it’s pretty plain sailing. Get the rest of the main story written predominantly from Byrd’s perspective – except when 3rd person or another POV is needed; meet and interview the suspects; and then kill off at least one more person. This done, it’s time to open the files: “I called you all here today” and the “Pesky Kids”; copy and paste them in, and job jobbed.

Except of course it’s not.

It’s at this point I realise I’ve  missed out one motive,  or forgotten to murder someone. In the worst case (as at the moment with his second book) the plot’s twisted in on itself and the universe will implode. So back I go and change, rewrite, and add until I’ve had enough… and never want to write a murder mystery again.

SB COC NEW MASTER COVER (2)So

Am I

Finished?

No!

Because as I read this draft through, it becomes blindingly obvious there’s no badinage and interplay between Byrd and his bizarre entourage: cousin CC (a chief inspector with Scotland Yard); Sampson and Watkins his servants. There’s no sub plot; no tantalising glimpses into the central characters past – or present.  By this point I also realise the history is missing. Those passing references to the events of the early 1900’s, which I must include, or burn in the fires of inaccuracy. So, after a short temper tantrum, I add those bits, and send it off to the editor before I make any changes … or throw any more toys out the pram.

At this point peace descends. A short month(ish) truce broken by an email from the editor. This reveals: gaping plot holes and an ending that doesn’t make sense; sections of text which drag, she doesn’t like or are a pile of poo – my words. It’s also now I realise, that some of the voices are too similar. A constable on the beat speaks like a toff. Byrd doesn’t have enough whimsies and mannerisms, and the least said about Sampson and Watkins the better.

Eventually though, the final product emerges and it’s over to you dear reader for your verdict…

twitter pics1 (2)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born in Plymouth in 1967 to a naval family, Sarah never wanted to go down to the sea in ships, she wanted to travel in time. For some people this would be a daunting challenge. For Sarah it was easy. There were three ways to do it: stow away in the TARDIS, study History and write a book. The last two were achievable, and she may not have travelled in the TARDIS, but she did once travel in a Mini Metro with Tom Baker, the fourth (and for those of us of a certain age, the best) Doctor Who.

Learn more about Sarah and her writing on her website, her blog and her Amazon page, or follow her on Twitter.

 

BOOK LINKS:

Meet Symington Byrd. Playboy. Gentleman. Detective.
viewBook.at/COC

For the Time Travellers out there: the Trilogy is complete:
getBook.at/CompleteTrilogy

 

 

Monthly Round-up: July 2017

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This month’s round-up post is a week late, but this time last week I was sunning myself on a beach in France. The weather was lovely, but wifi access was appalling.

Hence, here we are now in August, reviewing July.

OUT NOW/COMING SOON

I’m hoping to promote the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, at Bouchercon in October, and hopefully I’ll have a release date by then. In the meantime I’m plugging the first book the series, DEATH SCENE.

PUBLICITY

The third Goodreads giveaway for THE WHISPERING DEATH has finished. The lucky winners were Angela Paull from Hampshire and Olivia Silva from Hertfordshire. They have each received a signed copy of THE WHISPERING DEATH.

I am very excited about the forthcoming Bouchercon in Toronto, which will be my first time attending this particular conference. And I am particularly thrilled about being offered a panel. The panel is about violence in crime, and should be very interesting, though since it’s on at 8:30am on the Friday, I am not sure how many people we’ll have in the audience.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I am pleased to report that the first draft of the new horror novel, OUTPOST H311, is finished, and work has commenced on the second draft. At this stage I am feeling confident I will hit the 1 October deadline to submit this one. Hopefully I’ll be feeling just as confident at the end of August.

Until then, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoy the rest of the summer. And if you are in then Southern Hemisphere, you’ve still got summer to look forward to.

Friday Fears: Two-sentence Horror #12

Hello horror hounds!

I’ve had another two-sentence horror story submitted to me from Claire Fitzpatrick, which makes it time for some more Friday Fears!

Here is Claire’s story:

“This tastes divine,” I murmured, shovelling the soft strips of meat into my mouth. “It’s a pity you’re so thin,” I added, slicing off the cheek from my sister’s hack-up face.

And here’s one from me:

I always dreamed of being famous, and fame has finally come to me. It also came to the man who murdered me, but at least he’s still alive to enjoy it.

Happy Friday, and don’t have nightmares!

 

The Ten Commandments of Writing #10: Thou Shalt Never, Ever Give Up

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I get quite cross with people who imply that I write ‘for fun’. Or ‘for pleasure’. This generally comes into a conversation where I’m trying to explain why the writing is not my full-time profession. I’m trying to explain that I don’t make enough money from the writing to do it for a living, and so they say, “oh so you do it for fun then.”

There is nothing fun about writing. Yes there are moments of exhilaration, like when the WIP is going well and words are flowing, when you’re in that stage when you can re-read the words you’ve written and think to yourself, “actually this is pretty good. And I created it.” But you know this is going to be followed by a period of crashing self-doubt, when you are absolutely convinced that everything you’ve written is a steaming pile of turds and you should give up deluding yourself that you’re a writer and go and spend your time watching TV instead. This bit of the process is not fun. Neither is the constant lurching from self-confidence to self-loathing that I am convinced absolutely every writer, no matter how successful they are, experiences.

No, we don’t do it for fun. So why do we do it? It’s more a need, an urge. We need to write to keep on living, the same way we need to breathe.

You need to remember this once you have accepted the fact that you are a writer, because the road will not be smooth. There will be rocky patches. There will be times when you want to crawl under the bed covers and never come out again. Every time you submit something to an editor, you will spend the next few hours, or days, or weeks, on tenterhooks. You will be checking your email every two minutes to see if you’ve had a response yet. When you discover there isn’t one, you will experience conflicting feelings of disappointment and faint hope, because no response at least means no rejection. Yet.

And then when the email finally comes you’ll be afraid to open it, trying to put off the inevitable rejection and the crashing self-doubt that follows for as long as possible.

But then one day it won’t be a rejection. It will be an acceptance. And it will all be worth it. On the dark days, it can be tempting to just pack it all in. But it’s important to keep on going. When each rejection comes, give yourself a few days to pick yourself and dust yourself off, and then send the story back out into the world again. And carry on working on the next one. Whatever you do, you have to keep at it, because being a writer is in your psyche and no matter how hard it can be sometimes, it will always be who you are.

 

 

 

Monthly Round-Up: June 2017

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Well, summer is here. The UK enjoyed some sweltering hot weather this month, over 30c for several days. This is pretty unusual for us – so much so that we all bake, since very few places have air conditioning. Fortunately for us, our office does. The underground does not, however, and being packed in like sardines on the Central Line in rush hour when it’s so hot is pretty close to being in Hell.

But of course British weather is nothing if not unpredictable, and now we’re back to rain again. I love the long days at this time of year, and there is still plenty of summer left before we’re back to the long nights of winter.

Anyway. On with this month’s news

OUT NOW/COMING SOON

There’s nothing new to announce, and I’ve got no further news on when SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH is coming out. So this month I’m just going to plug my current publications. They are all available on Amazon US and UK, so why not have a browse?

PUBLICITY

On 4 June there was an interview with me on Rochelle Weber’s blog, in which I talk about the Shara Summers series.

There’s another Goodreads giveaway running at present for THE WHISPERING DEATH. It’s only open to UK readers, due to postage costs, but if you fancy a free signed copy of THE WHISPERING DEATH, the contest is open until 15 July.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I was aiming to have the first draft of the new horror novel, OUTPOST H311, done by the end of June. Well it’s not quite done yet, but I am nearly there. I have over 60,000 words done and I reckon I’ve only got another 10,000 or so to the end. If all goes well I should get there in July. So, hopefully there’ll be more news on this next month. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

The Ten Commandments of Writing #9: Thou Shalt Not Be Afraid to Pimp

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Writers are, by nature, solitary creatures. We are not comfortable in crowds. So it’s sadly ironic than nowadays we are expected more and more to get involved in marketing our books. To be expected to do readings and interviews. Most writers tremble in fear at the thought of facing a crowd of people.

The days of the writer holing themselves up in their garrett writing, never seen by the public, while the publisher’s minions run around selling books for them, are, by and large, over. Unless you land a deal with one of the major commercial publishers who have a publicity department – and even then you’ll have to turn up to signings and promotional events they arrange – you will be expected to play a proactive role in marketing. So, set aside your fear of being the centre of attention and get used to pimping yourself.

Every writer should have, at the very least, a blog, a web page and a Twitter account. Many people assume there’s no point in setting up social media accounts until they’ve got a publisher, but there is an argument for getting yourself out there and setting up accounts before you’re published, and at least by the time you’ve got something to sell you’ve built up a following of people who may be willing to go out and buy your book.

None of these things have to cost any money. You can set up a blog on Blogger or WordPress in a matter of minutes, just by choosing a template. There are several free templates available for websites too, that don’t require any programming skills (the one I use is Weebly). Set up a Twitter account and start Tweeting about things that interest you, using hashtags to connect with people who have similar interests. Never underestimate what aspects of your life that you take for granted someone else will find interesting. I take the train into London every day and shuffle around the capital with thousands of fellow commuters, and I’m half asleep when I do it. But occasionally I am reminded that to people that don’t live in London, this is an endlessly fascinating city.

As a writer you obviously want to talk about your writing, but don’t be that person that only ever Tweets ‘buy my book’ because that turns people off really fast.

My most important piece of advice for when you are published? Get yourself some business cards, with your name, your website, an email address and if possible, an image of your book cover. Take them with you everywhere you go, because you never know who you will meet. I have handed business cards out to people on mountains in Peru, and in deserts in Arizona. Every time I get chatting to strangers when I’m on holiday, if I have cause to mention I’m a writer, and the person replies, sounding interested, “oh, what do you write?” I will hand them a business card.

And I learned this lesson the hard way. In 2010, just after the first book came out, I went to the Horror Con in Brighton. I’d packed postcards, and business cards, but we headed down on the train after work, and when we reached the hotel we discovered there was a party in a bar on the pier, which had already started, so we dumped our luggage in the room and headed straight there. Then we discovered it was a free bar, so of course that’s where everybody was. And I had so many occasions to hand out my cards and tell people all about my new book, but they were all back in the hotel room. I’ve never made that mistake since.

Once you’ve got that book deal, there are other things you can do to promote yourself. Host guest posts on your blog site featuring other writers, and get them to host you on their site. It’s mutually beneficial to both host and guest, and it doesn’t cost anything to do it. Go to conventions – as many as you can afford – to meet up with other writers, readers and publishers in your genre. When the call for panels goes out, volunteer for one. Most calls for panel volunteers also ask you to list what sort of panels you want to see, so think realistically about what you could feasibly talk about. Short fiction? Cross-genre fiction? Independent publishing? The road to publication (no matter how far along it you are)? Throw out any ideas you can – you never know what might inspire the panel organisers.

You should also try contacting your local paper and your local book shops to see if they are interested in promoting you, but this is very hit and miss. I had some success with the former, but if you’re with a Print On Demand (POD) publisher, getting your book into book shops entirely depends on the shop’s buying policy. I have found that in the UK, a lot of book shops aren’t interested in taking anything they can’t buy on a Sale or Return basis, and that’s generally not possible with POD. But still, it doesn’t hurt to ask. You might discover that the manager of your local bookshop is an advocate for small presses and is agreeable to organising a signing with you.

In short, do what you can to pimp yourself, when you can. And there will be times when it all seems like a great deal of effort, and when the royalty statement comes in and you haven’t sold much, you will wonder why you bother. But marketing is all part of the process of being a writer, and it’s something that we all have to participate in to a certain degree, no matter how disagreeable it might be.

Monday’s Friend: Mark Simmons

Today I’m pleased to welcome fellow KGHH author Mark Simmons as my guest on the blog.

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

MS: I don’t think there was ever a moment where I knew writing was my destiny. But I have been jotting down my thoughts and ideas since I was a boy. There are pages and pages of notes tucked away that every now and then I delve into.

SJT: You say you’ve been a horror fan since an early age. Can you remember the first horror novel you read, and if so what was it, and what was the impact it had on you?

MS: My first dip into the waters of horror was Pet Sematary by Stephen King. The scene when a road accident happens outside the Creed household was an inspiration for me. As the protagonist gets closer to the accident the moment plays out in slow motion, prolonging the horror of the scene.

SJT: Tell us about your latest release.

MS: My latest release Purged In Flame is the second book in a series that follows Whitfield Creed (another Pet Sematary homage) as he tries to come to terms with his Immortality, and the creatures he shares his eternity with.

SJT: Are you a plotter, or a ‘seat of the pants’ sort of writer?

MS: I always try to have a beginning, a middle, and an end in mind when I start a new project. But there is often a certain amount of freewheeling that contributes to the plot.

SJT: Have you every put anyone you know in any of your stories?

MS: I have always added certain traits and mannerisms from people I have known, into my work, but I have never out right created a character from one of those people. Invariably it is a single trait, or a few, that will define someone.

SJT: What, for you, is the appeal of horror?

MS: There are a few aspects of the world of horror that I think are important, and they are what draws me to the genre. Fear of the unknown is such a driving force in the some of the best horror. What you don’t see, or what you are unaware of, will always bring fear to the surface. And also the atrocities that humans are capable of doing to one another. You need only look into the history of our species to find a plethora of stories that are worthy of any horrific tale.

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

MS: A bit of gardening has become a recent distraction. But a favourite past time has been sharing a drink with my significant other, the Doctor.

SJT: Come the Zombie Apocalypse, what’s your weapon of choice?

MS: Gotta go with a sword and some kind of plate armour. Being an inhabitant of the British Isles I’m sure I would be able to get a hold of that kind of hardware.

SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?

MS: I am currently working on the third book in the story of Whitfield and his journey through eternal life. The first draft is done and I am in the process of bulking out the plot.

Blurb for PURGED IN FLAME

Whitfield Creed had never been one to believe in such things as luck. Yet when he wakes to find he’s hung from a meat hook, in the back corner of some warehouse, he can’t help but feel his luck may have run out.

A chance meeting with the wrong people immerses Whitfield in an underworld that he had presumed to be no more than folklore. Yet these creatures exist and with eternal life have manipulated mankind from the shadows through the millennia’s.

Trying to come to terms with the way these creatures occupy their eternity Whitfield most live amongst their ranks. With the elders of this ancient society bickering with one another and the constant threat of execution hanging over his head he must try to survive. Whilst also accepting his own immortality.

Buy PURGED IN FLAME now from Amazon (UK or US)

Author Bio

Mark Simmons has been writing horror recreationally since a young age, finding inspiration from a cavernous backroom full of horror at his local video shop. Renting all manner of features well before his age legally allowed him to.

Born and raised on the coastline of Suffolk, England by North Eastern parents. He also found his creativity stimulated by the rolling countryside and coastal emptiness of East Anglia. He currently lives on the River Stour with his Epidemiologist wife, The Doctor.

When Mark is not bringing his monsters and demons to the page in his spare time he has worked for the last ten years in various areas of the Television Broadcasting industry. He has helped to provide the world with the top quality viewing that it deserves.

Mark enjoys watching all manner of Movies but has an affinity to horror flicks. He has a passion for classic and modern literature mainly in the horror and sci-fi fantasy genres. He enjoys gaming of the RPG world immersive vein. And has an acute ear for music, particularly the Metal persuasion. Football plays a small part in his life, playing a bit of 5-A-Side in his spare time and supporting a North Eastern team of the Black and White striped variety.

He has published two novels, Of The Night and Purged In Flame, which are available from Kensington Gore Publishing.

Friday Fears: Two-sentence horror #11

I’ve had a submission for my Friday Fears feature so it’s time for another post!

Today’s featured two-sentence horror story comes from Claire Fitzpatrick.

Anna dug her nails into the soft citrus-scented skin, peeling it back to reveal the spongy pink flesh.

“I told you to wait for me,” Tom said, hastily sawing off his little sister’s remaining arm.

And here’s one from me:

I was so tired of seeing my boss’s face every morning. So I took his head out of the fridge, cooked it, and ate it.

Happy Friday, and don’t have nightmares!

 

 

Monday’s Friend: Pete Sutton

Today I am pleased to welcome fellow KGHH author Pete Sutton to the blog. I’ve known Pete since my live action role playing days, some years ago now, and it’s good to have him here to chat about writing.

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

PS: Not sure I’ve ever felt ‘destined’ to be a writer to be honest. I had a vague – “I’d like to write one day” feeling although my storytelling urge was being satisfied by writing for a roleplaying game. I volunteered at Bristol Festival of Literature in 2012 and met a whole bunch of writers and sat in on many writing workshops and thought – “I can do that”. I didn’t do anything about it though until the roleplaying company and I parted ways. I went to a book launch of “Writing without a parachute” by Barbara Turner-Vesselago. Chatting to her at the launch I said something along the lines of “I’d like to write someday,” and she asked, “why don’t you then?” I realised that there was no good reason not to. I sold my first story a couple of months later.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

PS: Everything I read, every TV program and film I watch influences me in small ways. I’d say that writer-wise my biggest influences are Jeff & Ann VanderMeer. Not on the writing itself, although Jeff’s Wonderbook is a great how to write manual, but more by what writing they have brought to my attention in their amazing anthologies and via Jeff’s blog.

Writing wise I’ve been compared to Gaiman and Carver which is very flattering as well as Chesterton  (who is in turn a big influence on Gaiman). I’d also say that John Fowles has influenced some of my short stories.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

PS: You don’t need permission to write. Anyone can do it.

SJT: Tell us about your latest release.

PS: The last book I had out was Sick City Syndrome which I call an architectural fantasy. The book opens with Susan, our protagonist, about to talk to her dead fiancé via a medium assigned as a grief counsellor. She discovers that all is not as it seems with his death and resolves to investigate why he died, That’s been available since September last year.

I’ve just handed in the developmental edit on my next novel SEVEN DEADLY SWORDS, which is a historical fantasy. I’ve also got a few short stories coming out – latest is Ash and Darkness in Between the Tracks which is full on horror.

SJT: Have you ever been inspired to put people you know in real life in your books?

PS: I don’t think any character is truly entirely created by imagination only. All characters are amalgams of real people.

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

PS: I read. A lot (80 odd books read so far this year). I’m also kept busy organising Bristol Festival of Literature, Bristol HorrorCon, BristolCon and my writing group.

SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?

PS: I’m currently working on another novel for KGHH provisionally titled “The Certainty of Dust” the protagonist of which is a guitarist/singer in a band and again, like in Sick City Syndrome, the world is like ours but different.

AUTHOR BIO:

Pete Sutton is the author of two books: A Tiding of Magpies –  a collection of ‘deliciously dark tales’  – and Sick City Syndrome –  an urban fantasy set in Bristol where he lives.  He is currently working on a second novel, a historical fantasy set during the crusades,  which will be released by Grimbold books.

You can find him all over social media or worrying about events he’s organised at the Bristol Festival of Literature, Bristol HorrorCon and BtristolCon.

On Twitter he’s @suttope and his website is http://petewsutton.com/ .

 

Doing It For Fun?

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It’s sometimes hard to explain, to a non-writer, why I write. The confusion generally comes when the non-writer discovers I am not a full-time writer. “So it’s a hobby,” they say. “You do it for fun.”

I can’t explain that it’s not a hobby – more a need. And most of the time, it’s not fun. It’s not fun to experience the crushing self-doubt that arrives on a regular basis and convinces me that every word I’ve ever written is complete rubbish. Or that feeling of rejection that comes with every email beginning, “thank you for sending us your manuscript. We regret to inform you that it will not fit our list at this time.” Or, for me, getting up at 5:20am to write before work when really I’d much rather have an extra hour in bed.

Generally when such conversations come up I have to start by explaining that much as I would love to write full time, it’s not economically feasible. It doesn’t help that these conversations are generally with people who are not only non-writers but pretty much non-readers. They might have read Harry Potter, or Fifty Shades of Grey. So they think ‘writer’ and JK Rowlings and EL James spring to mind. And they’re rolling in it, so all writers must be loaded, right?

My last royalty statement was for all of £5, and that represented a year’s worth of sales. I am so far away from being able to make money from the writing that it seems an unobtainable goal. Giving up the day job is simply not an option because I have no other form of income.

At times I get completely overwhelmed. I leave the house at 6:20am so I can write before work. I generally don’t get home before 7pm. I have French lessons and bass guitar lessons and admin stuff to deal with like emails and blog posts. And this is before we get to household stuff – laundry and remembering to pay the credit card bill and so on. Sometimes I get to a point when I feel I just can’t cope with it all any more.

Logically, the thing to give up is the writing, because I kill myself trying to do it for no apparent reason. But even the mere thought of doing so makes me die inside.

And that’s really why I write. Because I need to do it to keep on living. Not writing is as unthinkable to me as not breathing.

It may be I never manage to make enough money from the writing to give up the day job. But I will, somehow find a way to fit it into my life because there’s just no other option.