Archive for the ‘Death Scene’ Category

Monthly Round-up: October 2014

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

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.


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.


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.


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!

DEATH SCENE Release Day!

It’s here at last! DEATH SCENE is released! Or, I should say, officially re-released since this is the second publication for this particular book. But a different publishing house means a different editing process, so if you did read it the first time round, you’ll find there are some differences in this version.

Death Scene 200x300I am very excited about this day finally arriving, and I love DEATH SCENE’s fab new cover. To celebrate sending my amateur sleuth Shara Summers out into the world once more, I am giving away a free copy of the e-book. To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is post a comment on this blog. It’s that easy. There aren’t even any questions to answer! Everyone who has posted a comment by midnight (GMT time) tonight will go into the drawer, and the winner will be chosen at random tomorrow morning. When you post your comment, please ensure you include your email address in the comments form when it asks you to, so I know how to contact you if you should win.

If you don’t win, there will be another chance to win a second copy, as I am making a guest appearance on John Rosenman‘s blog tomorrow and giving away another copy. So swing by there on Tuesday and post another comment.

If you still don’t win, and have to resort to buying a copy, it is available in all e-book formats from MuseItUp Publishing now.

And because I know some people like their one-click Kindle buy options, I’m even going to supply links to worldwide Kindle purchases (which of course are restricted by region).



If I’ve left out your region I’m sorry. I am rather assuming I’m not internationally famous at this stage.

And while you’re surfing the Internet, go and check out Victoria Roder’s blog, where today I am making a special release-day appearance talking about family ties and how important they are to my amateur sleuth.

And while you’re doing that, I’m going to have some more virtual champagne. Cheers!

Cover Reveal for DEATH SCENE Re-release

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

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.

Death Scene 200x300But 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 appears on the cover of a book.  I will say that this image is now 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 not 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.

The Further Adventures of Shara Summers

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

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, 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.

Commercial Break

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

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.

The Shara Summers Series

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

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.

Buy My Books

Today is, apparently, Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving. Not being American, this means nothing to me. However, as Black Friday appears to be the day all the sales start, I think it’s akin to Boxing Day for we Brits – and both days come the day after a major family feast day.

Anyway, what’s important is the fact that Lyrical Press are having a Black Friday sale – 50% off all their titles. I don’t often resort to hard-core sales techniques, but today I am unashamedly telling you to go and buy my books.

If you have already, then I thank you – it is greatly appreciated. Maybe you’ve got a friend who’s recently acquired an e-reader? If so, perhaps you can send the links their way and persuade them to invest in some new titles for their new device.

If you haven’t bought my books yet, however, then today is a good day to do it, because today they will cost you a mere $2.75 each. That’s about £1.50, in Brit money. That’s less than you pay for a cup of coffee in London, and the book will give you pleasure for longer than the coffee will.

Both e-books are available in all formats, compatible with any e-reader. And if you haven’t got an e-reader, you can download the PDF version, to read on your computer.

If for some reason you haven’t got a PDF reader (though it is free), then download the Kindle reader, available for PC, Mac, iPad, and Smartphone free of charge – click here for link.

Buy SUFFER THE CHILDREN here, and DEATH SCENE here. Available at this marvellous price for the rest of today.

Go do it now and help my sales. I’m still a very long way down the bottom of that ladder to fame and fortune. Maybe you can help me reach the next rung.

Latest Publicity Roundup

I’ve featured on three more blogs in the last week.  Firstly, I contributed to Lindsay Below’s series on “The Inspiration Behind the Book”, talking about what inspired me to write DEATH SCENE.  You can see the post on her blog here.

Second, I was interviewed by G L Drummond as part of her “e-book author” month for July. We talked about Stephen King, blasting zombies and getting crumbs in the keyboard.  Take a look at the interview on her Feral Intensity blog here.

Finally, today I am the featured author on Sandra Sookoo’s “Author Folk Friday” spot. Take a look at her blog Believing is Seeing for the interview.

It’s been a busy old week, and it’s all to do with promoting DEATH SCENE.  The feedback I’ve had on the novel so far has been positive, but it takes a long time for a book to establish itself (and to be honest I don’t think I can count the rave reviews from my mum and dad as valid endorsements…).  After all, it’s only been out a couple of weeks, and I haven’t even had the first royalty statement for it yet.

I find waiting for that first statement agonising. The suspense is killing me…

British Vs. American

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

DEATH SCENE has been out only a couple of weeks, and I will have no idea, until July’s royalty statement arrives, how many copies it sold in its first month of release. I know I’ve had a few sales, because the colleagues and family members who have bought it have started to report back.

One of the most consistent comments I’ve had so far from my British readers is that all the American spellings are annoying. It is true that Brits get annoyed by ‘Americanisms’ (as this article on the BBC site today demonstrates!). But my publishers are American, so house style dictates American spellings. It does, however, demonstrate that although the UK and the US both officially speak English, anyone who’s experienced both knows that American English and British English are, in fact, two entirely separate languages.

DEATH SCENE racked up 31 rejections before being accepted by Lyrical Press. I sent it to agents in America and the UK, and to small press publishers that accepted unsolicted manuscripts on both sides of the Atlantic. Many of the rejections were generic, but some of them had personalised notes. The most common reason from UK agents for turning it down was that contemporary amateur sleuths do not sell in the UK.

Many UK publishers seem to feel that the British reading public want gritty crime thrillers or historical ‘whodunnits’ featuring amateur sleuths. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant – publishers will buy what they think will sell.

It has dawned on me, however, that Shara might fare better in America than in Britain. Amateur sleuths remain fairly popular there. Whereas the only amateur sleuths in books written by British writers I can think of are all set somewhere in the past.

And there is the added bonus that Shara, as a Canadian living in Britain, offers her perspective on the differences between North America and the UK. Hopefully people who don’t live in Britain will connect with that.

At this early stage, I still have no idea how DEATH SCENE will do. But if Shara does prove to be more popular with Americans than Brits, I will see that as a blessing in disguise. It might give hubby and I an excuse to plan that road trip across the States we’ve always talked about doing.

The Dilemma of Extracts

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It’s Launch Party Day! And since there’s one more chance to plug it, I will once more declare that the launch party for DEATH SCENE is happening at 6:30pm tonight, at The George pub, The Strand, London. All welcome.

In order to prepare for the launch party I spent much of last night preparing the extract I will be reading out. In fact, I have two extracts to read this week, because I will also be reading one for the Edin Road Blog Radio show on Thursday.

I find choosing extracts immensely difficult, especially when they are to be read aloud. It can’t be too long or you will bore the audience. It can’t be too short, or they will wonder why they bothered. You want a part of the novel that’s exciting, and will grip people, but you don’t want to give too much away.

And then there is the question of how to read it. Even the most exciting extract will sound boring if it’s read in a flat monotone. I have a tendency to ‘gabble’ my words sometimes – I don’t want to do that whilst reading the extract, or the audience won’t be able to follow it.

Yes, there is a knack to choosing extracts. I hope what I have chosen to read aloud will fit the bill, and will intrigue my audience sufficiently to make them want to go and read the rest of the book!

Actually, my biggest fear about tonight is not actually standing up and reading aloud before an audience. My time doing amateur dramatics helped me ovecome that particular fear. No, my biggest fear is that no one will turn up. I’m not nearly famous enough to have a huge crowd of people lining up for my autograph. I’m still working on building my brand as a writer, and I know notoriety is still a very long way up the ladder.

I talked to the pub manager earlier today to confirm everything was set for tonight. He actually had me down as ‘Sue Townsend’ and was expecting the author of the Adrian Mole books to turn up. Perhaps I should have adopted that mistake to plug my launch – I’d at least be guaranteed a large crowd….