Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

What I’m Doing at FantasyCon 2018

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This year, FantasyCon is heading up North to Chester, a town I remember visiting as a child – mostly because there was a nice zoo there. That was over 40 years ago, and no doubt it’s changed a lot since then.

However, this weekend I go back there again for my annual fix of all things horror, SF and fantasy. It seems I’ve got a rather busy programme this year, and all the cool kids are posting their FantasyCon activities, so here are mine.

Friday:

9:30pm – ‘Occult and Supernatural Adventures’ panel in the Edward Room. Pete Sutton moderating. My fellow panelists are Mike Chinn, Sue Tingey and Georgina Bruce.

Saturday:

2:00pm – I am doing a reading in the Disraeli room, with Ray Cluley and Rosanne Rabinowitz

3:30pm – ‘Writers and Roleplaying Games’ panel in the Edward Room. Alasdair Stuart moderating. Fellow panellists are Danie Ware, Allen Stroud and Gavin Smith.

I will also have copies of both ‘The Whispering Death’ and ‘Outpost H311’ for sale on the BFS table in the dealer room, and will likely be hanging around in the bar for at least part of the time. And I might make an appearance at the karaoke on the Saturday night. I never could resist a good sing.

So, looking forwarding to catching up with friends old and new in Chester this weekend. Don’t be afraid to come say hello if you see me. Don’t listen to the gossip – I am quite harmless really , and I’ll be wearing a prominently displayed name badge so you can identify me.

Now all I have to do is figure out what I’m going to be reading. And get past the customary dilemma of what to pack for a Con…

 

 

 

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Monthly Round-up: August 2018

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

The last round-up was three months ago, and quite a lot has been going on in my life since then. I got made redundant from the day job in July, but fortunately managed to find a new job after just a few weeks of intense job-hunting. But now I am in the position of being the new girl, which feels strange after nearly 13 years in the same organisation, and it is quite intensive.

Hence, with all this real-life stuff to deal with, not a lot of writing has been happening.

OUT NOW:

I may as well take the opportunity to promote OUTPOST H311, which is doing reasonably well sales-wise at the moment. If you like Nazi zombies, this is a book for you. Tell your friends. There aren’t enough Nazi zombie books in the world, and this one attempts to address that.

PUBLICITY

Three online interviews with me have gone up since last time, and links are included below

21 June – Cedar Hollow

20 August – Ginger Nuts of HorrorGinger Nuts of Horror

23 August – Kendall Reviews

WORK IN PROGRESS

As already mentioned, not much writing going on. There will be a sequel to OUTPOST H311. That’s all I can really say at this stage.

And that’s about it for news this time. I hope to see you again next month.

Monthly Round-up: May 2018

It’s been a while since I did a round-up but this month there is news!

OUT NOW

The most important news is that the new horror novel, OUTPOST H311, is now out! It is available in paperback and Kindle format from Amazon UK, Amazon US and I’m even including the links to Amazon Canada for my Canadian friends.

I’m quite excited about this book. It seemed to be quite difficult to write, for various reasons, and it was a long road to get it to this point. But now, at last, here it is.

PUBLICITY

I’m still working on this. As ever the best promotion for a writer is a good review, so please do consider doing a review if you read the book, even if it’s just a few words. It all helps.

I’m also interested in guest slots on other people’s blogs, so if you run this feature, please get in touch. I can offer reciprocal slots on the ‘Monday’s Friends’ feature.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I’ve been manically busy in the day job, not to mention prep for the release of OUTPOST H311, so not a lot writing is being done at present.

And that’s about it for now. See you next month!

 

Friday Fears: Two-sentence horror #13

I’m a day late with this Friday Fears post. I had a submission, which I promised to put up on 25 May, but I had a manic day at the day job yesterday.

Apologies to Hari Navarro, who sent me the submission below, for being late in posting his two-sentence horror story

Doctor Jurin sighed wearily as he ran his scalpel through the puffy wax of the girl’s bloated abdomen. The eel that oozed out of the opening and contracted into her gathering necrotic fluid cost him the end of his tongue.

By Hari Navarro

And here’s one from me:

The imposter continues to live my life: looking like me, sounding like me, acting like me. But he’s not me, because I am here, and no one can see or hear me so they have no idea that this stranger isn’t me.

Happy weekend, Horror Hounds, and don’t have nightmares!

 

Monthly Round-up: February 2018

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

On 1 February, I went in for surgery.

Since then I’ve been at home recovering, so February is pretty much a write-off. However, it’s been very cold while I’ve been off, so it’s not been a bad time to be stuck indoors. And by the time I go back to work, which I hope will be next week (pending doctor approval) it will be daylight when I leave the house.

That said, there are a few things to report this month.

OUT NOW/COMING SOON

I’m pleased to announce that my story ‘Morgan’s Father’ is included in the Women in Horror edition of the SIREN’S CALL e-zine. This issue is completely free to download as a PDF and is chock full of horror stories by women, so download your copy now.

In other news, we don’t yet have a release date for OUTPOST H311, but the onus is on me at the moment since I’ve had the edits back and I’m working through them. And it’s taking rather longer than I was expecting. Partly that’s due to being on sick leave. For the first two weeks following surgery I couldn’t really do much except lie about reading or watching TV. No concentration for anything else. However, this week I’ve been making progress with the edits, so hopefully there’ll be more news on this next month.

PUBLICITY

I contributed to Mark West’s Stephen King mixtape, which appeared on his blog on 26 February. This was a post including a long list of writers talking briefly about their favourite King story. I chose ‘The Breathing Method’.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I haven’t worked on any WIPs for a while, what with surgery getting in the way and all. So the current status is unchanged. There are two current works in progress:

A WHITER SHADE OF PAIN: a crime thriller set in 1967 which is a collaboration with my husband. We plotted the book together, then I wrote Draft 1 and he started on Draft 2. The latter isn’t finished yet, but I’ve taken it back to make further changes to the amended chapters. So I suppose it’s currently on Draft 2.5.

DEADLY SUMMER is the fourth Shara Summers novel, which takes my intrepid sleuth to New York City when she gets a job in a US soap opera. I am about a third of the way through the first draft. I halted work on this when I started writing OUTPOST H311, and I haven’t got back to it yet.

That’s all to report this month. I anticipate that by the end of next month, spring will have sprung. But you can never tell, with British weather.

 

Monthly Round-Up: January 2018

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I really hate January. It has no redeeming features. It’s dark, cold and wet, everyone is broke after Christmas, there is nothing to look forward to and as I never see daylight during the working week it’s the month my SAD seems to hit the hardest so I spend most of it feeling depressed.

Hence, I am always glad to see the back of it. Happily, we are now out of January and there are a few things to look forward to in the coming months as there is news to report.

COMING SOON:

I am pleased to announce that my previously-published story “Morgan’s Father” (most recently available in the collection SOUL SCREAMS) is to be published in the forthcoming ‘Women in Horror’ edition of the ezine SIREN’S CALL.

My new horror novel OUTPOST H311 is currently with the editor, and will be released later this year from KGHH publishing. I will let you know when I have more news regarding release date.

PUBLICITY:

I’ve been a bit quiet on this front of late, and there’s nothing to report at the moment, but there are a couple of things I’ve been working on and I hope to have something to report soon.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

With the horror novel finished I’ve been trying to figure out what to work on next. I’m back at work on the collaboration with Hubby, which has been a somewhat long-running project. It’s a crime thriller set in 1967, about a young woman with a dream to play bass in a band, who gets caught up in the heady world of London gangs and the rising music scene when she searches for a friend who’s disappeared.

The fourth Shara Summers novel is about a third of the way through draft 1, but I have not done any work on it for 12 months. I am still in two minds as to whether to carry on with this series. I enjoy writing it, but it’s not selling, and is there any point in carrying on with a series people don’t want to read?

As we move into February and the days start to get lighter, things start to look brighter. Join me again at the end of this month to see what it had in store!

Year in Review: 2017

(Cross-published on the WriteClub blog)

Well here we are at the start of 2018. This is a time to make resolutions to change things in the forthcoming year, and review how things went in the last one.

This time last year, I resolved to have two finished WIPs by the end of 2017. Well, I got halfway there. I finished the latest horror novel in mid-December. The novel is called OUTPOST H311 and it will be published by KGHH Publishing some time this year. Stay tuned for more info on this.

The other WIP – the fourth Shara Summers novel – remains unfinished. I am at present trying to make up my mind whether to continue with this series. The third novel is still without a publication date. Although it was accepted by MuseItUp Publishing some 18 months ago, health and personal issues affecting both my editor and my publisher there have delayed publishing schedules.

I enjoy writing the Shara series, and the few reviews that I’ve received for the first two books in the series have been positive, but they really aren’t selling, and I’m finding this very discouraging. What’s the point of writing books that no one seems interested in reading?

Since I finished OUTPOST H311 I’ve taken a bit of break from writing while I think about what to work on next. I have got a couple of vague ideas, but nothing concrete yet.

This year, I resolve to have at least one WIP finished by the end of the year. I just haven’t made up my mind which one yet.

Happy New Year one and all, and hope 2018 brings success and happiness.

Monday’s Friend: Samantha Priestley

Today I’m pleased to welcome author Samantha Priestley to my blog.

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

SP: As a child and a teenager I always loved writing, but I didn’t think it was an option for me as a career, I didn’t think I’d be good enough or that I was ‘clever’ enough. It was only when I’d worked in a bookshop for a few years and met a few authors that I realised they were pretty normal people. Then when I had my children and I was at home with them for a while, I thought ‘it’s now or never’, and I started writing seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever thought I was destined to be a writer, and still don’t. It’s just the thing I want to do most.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

SP: The Brontes, Kate Atkinson, Thomas Hardy, Kate Bush, Ross Raisin, Shelagh Delaney

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

SP: You probably won’t make the kind of money you think a writer makes and you’re probably going to have to be flexible about how you make money, and if you really want to do this you’re going to have to be ok with that. Find a way to make money that still allows you the time to be creative and keep trying.

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

SP: I do it all the time, but they probably wouldn’t recognise themselves. Almost every character is based on someone, or on more than one person.

SJT: Tell us about the latest release.

SP: It’s called A BAD WINTER and it’s my first ghost story. It runs simultaneously between two timelines, one in modern day and one in the 1760s, tying the two together with the spirit of Sarah Vernon. It’s set in a Derbyshire village where the original real story comes from. I read a snippet of a local story from that time about a girl who was murdered in a house that’s no longer standing. I don’t want to say too much and give anything anyway, but what happened after the girl’s death gave me the idea for the book.

SJT: You’ve done some travel writing.  Are there any places you’ve visited that were really memorable for you, and if so, why?

SP: Oh, so many! I love travelling and I end up setting stories in places that I’ve loved visiting. I love Cornwall and used to take my kids every summer when they were small, so it always reminds me of them as they were then. Italy I found to be so beautiful and I’d love to go back, and also Spain, I love Barcelona, it’s such a cultural city.

SJT: Any other writing projects on the go at the moment?

SP: I tend to work on more than one book at a time, so I have a first draft of one almost finished and I’ve just started another. I’ll go back to the first one and re-write then leave it a while and work on the second one etc. I have a pamphlet of flash fiction coming out with RedBird soon and my next novel, ROSE VILLA, will be out in February.

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

SP: Sleep! I like going for walks, eating out, watching films. I also go with my partner to life drawing sessions (he’s an artist and created the cover of A Bad Winter). I find it really relaxing, and also everyone goes to the pub after…which is the real reason I go 😉

BLURB FOR ‘A BAD WINTER’

When does passion turn to love? When does responsibility mean guilt? When does a death become a murder?

In A Bad Winter these hefty questions stir up echoes through time, from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, to create an intimate and powerful tale of personal lives in freefall. With her trademark pictorial prose and beautifully phrased metaphors, novelist Samantha Priestley has created a ghostly romance set among wintry Derbyshire hills, and a shivering good read.

A BAD WINTER is available now.

 

Monday’s Friend: Mary Andrea Clarke

Today I’m pleased to welcome historical crime writer Mary Andrea Clarke to the blog. Good to have you as my guest, Mary.

SJT: Did you always know you were destined to be a writer?

crimson cavalierMAC: No, although I always enjoyed writing.  It wasn’t really something I thought about consciously.  Some of my primary school teachers had suggested I should become an author.  I wasn’t really convinced at that point.  A slow burning flame that came to fruition, or maybe like the maturing of a good wine.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

MAC: Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Dorothy L Sayers, Jean Plaidy, although I don’t write about known historical figures, and Jane Austen.  Pride and Prejudice made a direct contribution to The Crimson Cavalier when I named Georgiana Grey after Mr Darcy’s sister.

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

MAC: Try not to get discouraged by the rejections.  There’s no average time or number of nos a writer will hear before getting the yes.  Go looking for opportunities to write, even if it’s not your preferred format.  Competitions, writers’ groups, evening classes, all are good discipline and set targets.  Even an encouraging letter from a competition organiser where you just missed the shortlist can be the spur to keep going.  Accountability is a good motivator and good feedback is always a help.  It also provides valuable interaction in an essentially solitary occupation.

love not poisonSJT: Have you ever been inspired to put people you know in real life in your books?

MAC: Only twice, both have ended up dead.  In most cases, I have found characters have evolved as a mix of qualities I have picked up subconsciously or something I’ve heard which has to be used.  The last real life inspired character was left face down in a river in my latest work in progress.  I must decide his fate or he will soon become bloated like some unfortunate individual I saw in Midsomer.

SJT: I’ve killed off real people in my books too! It’s quite carthartic. When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser’?

MAC: Neither and both.  I do plan to an extent, but more on a next chapter basis than detailed planning of the manuscript.  Of course things don’t always go according to plan.  The Crimson Cavalier was full of surprises.  One character intended as a passing background figure suddenly appeared on the page, with a very specific appearance and a large part to play in the next book, Love Not Poison.  The latest Georgiana Grey work started as an exercise inspired by Dorothea Brande’s classic work, Becoming a Writer.  I wanted to shake things up.  Her suggestion of keeping a notebook by the bed and writing the first thing that comes into the head in the morning, before fully awake, kicked off a new novel.  I’m not sure yet where it’s leading but that’s half the fun.

SJT: Your series is about an independent-minded young woman in Regency England. Not a time desperately progressive when it comes to women’s rights. What inspired you to create the character of Georgiana Grey?

MAC: In a way, it was the very difficulties women encountered in that era which made me want a female sleuth trying to negotiate the system, if only to see if it could be done.  I always loved the film, ‘The Wicked Lady’, in its original black and white version.  While it may have required some suspension of disbelief, the intrigue and tension mixed with the class distinctions remains riveting.  The role of highway robber gave Georgiana a level of freedom to circumvent some of the rules  We know highwaymen were not the glamorous Robin Hood-like adventurers of fable.  Yet we also know the world is not black and white, the anti-hero has good points as the hero has flaws.  Ross Poldark’s anger at a sick man’s imprisonment for a minor crime leads to him breaking the law but I suspect most of us would not condemn him.  The prison scenes from the original ‘Poldark’ were in my mind when I motivated Georgiana’s anger about her servant’s conviction.

debt not dishonourSJT: Any current writing projects in the works?

MAC: At present I am editing The Body Nursery, which introduces some new characters, two bodysnatchers who discover a dead baby while liberating an old man from his coffin.  One is uncomfortable with treating the child as merchandise and suspects a questionable death which he decides to investigate.  Another lawbreaker with a conscience.  I have also started writing a new Georgiana Grey adventure, in which her cousin and chaperone, Selina Knatchbull, finds a body which subsequently disappears.

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

MAC: I enjoy spending time with my long distance family when I get the chance, we always manage to do some fun stuff.  I like reading (of course!), going to the theatre and places of historical interest.  Just recently I had a great day out at Hampton Court,  I have been there before but always spot something new!

SJT: Thank you, Mary, for taking time to chat with me today.

If readers want to learm more about Mary’s work, check out her website and follow her on Twitter. The link to her publishers can be found here.

The first book in the Crimson Cavalier series is currently available on Kindle for 95p, so if you want to grab a bargain, hop over there right now (or $.123 if you’re in the US).

 

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