Writing though the Chaos

Friday 3rd November is a date that will probably stay in my mind for a long time. It was the completion date for my house move. I wish I could say that I am now happily settling into my new home. But no…

The party at the bottom end of the chain pulled the plug on the whole thing three days before we were due to complete. It turns out that they were nowhere near ready to move, but that information didn’t filter through to me until three days before the proposed completion.

So here I am, two weeks on, living out of boxes, sleeping on a mattress on the bedroom floor and still waiting to hear whether I might be moving in the near future.

It’s so frustrating!

For almost three weeks I have been in a state of limbo. I left out just enough things to keep me going until the move and, as we have passed Friday 3rd November, I have had to buy things which I already have in storage somewhere. I’m also constantly tripping over things that have been left out for the move, and I have the bruises to show for it.

To complicate matters I have things stored at three different houses as well as a mountain of boxes at home. And to complicate matters more, even if I know where something is in my home, I still can’t get to it.

The problem is that the boxes are heavy and due to a health problem I am not allowed to lift heavy weights. I find myself staring longingly at a plastic box and wishing I could lift the boxes on top of it so that I can get to the contents. It’s so tempting and I confess that I have been naughty once or twice. I’m just not patient enough to wait until someone is around who can help me.

Against this chaotic background I am still trying to write. I had a whole week without writing when I thought I was moving and had to pack up quickly. This was also very frustrating. I take my writing seriously and hate anything getting in the way of it unless it’s a holiday, and I’ll definitely need one of them soon.

The other thing about writing is that it can provide an escape from stressful situations. So, a stressful situation that keeps me away from my writing is a double blow.

Currently I’m still waiting to hear whether contracts might be exchanged on Monday. I’ve found it difficult to concentrate on work today as I know that once I receive confirmation of exchange of contracts it will be all systems go.

If contracts are exchanged on Monday then hopefully we will make the new proposed completion date of Friday 24th November. It would have been nice to have known before the weekend but I’ve come to appreciate that things are never straightforward when it comes to moving house.

So, I won’t count on it until it actually happens. Here’s hoping…

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My Visit to a Clairvoyant

In January of this year I decided to visit a clairvoyant. I was going through a big transition in my life, having been through divorce the previous year and still waiting to sell the marital home where I had lived for the past 21 years. A friend had recommended the clairvoyant to me so I thought, why not?

Although I have visited a few clairvoyants in the past I had always been sceptical. I found that most of the things they told me could easily be deduced. For example, I think a clairvoyant can tell a lot by whether you are wearing a wedding ring, whether there is a mark where a ring used to be, your age group etc.

However, this visit was a completely different experience for me. The way the clairvoyant reacted when I walked into the room, and the things she told me, made me really sit up and take notice. There was no way she could have already known these things.

I deliberately kept my ring finger covered during my visit so that she couldn’t deduce anything from it. Nevertheless, she still knew that I was going through a major change in my life and was moving home. Here’s what else she told me, specifically in relation to my writing:

  1. I am going to make a big impact through the letter A and will touch people through my words. In the words of the clairvoyant, ‘I have been on a hell of a journey but it has all happened for a reason and everything will start coming together’.
  2. Autumn, probably October, is when things will start coming together. This will also be when the money starts coming in – phew.
  3. I will be writing more than one book, probably a series, and October will just be the start of it. Things will go on and on from there and it will be huge.
  4. I will have links to a city with the initial L, and there will be travel involved.
  5. Some minor worries may carry on but they should all be sorted by October. I am not to let negative thoughts get in the way.
  6. I find my writing cathartic and put a lot of myself into my work. My writing comes from the heart and I need to make sure it always does.

So, here’s my take on what the clairvoyant told me in relation to the above points:

  1. The main character in the trilogy I am currently working on is called Adele. Yes, I’ve definitely been on a hell of a journey, not only with the divorce but with so much of my life. I believe that many authors put their lives’ experiences into their work and for me this is my biggest influence.
  2. The end of October will be my first pay day with my publishers. My first book with them was published on 1st July and they pay on 90 days’ terms, none of which my clairvoyant knew beforehand. Additionally, sales of my other books rose after the publication of Born Bad. Prior to that my sales had gone down to around half a dozen books a day but, thanks to the pick-up in sales, the end of October will see an increase in my income from The Riverhill Trilogy.
  3. I had already been commissioned to write a trilogy before I went to see the clairvoyant but, again, she wasn’t aware of this.
  4. I wonder if this relates to the fact that my publishers are based in London.
  5. When it comes to worrying and negative thoughts I am the world’s worst. However, thankfully things are starting to come together and I also hope to complete on the house sale next month.
  6. Yes, I think I’m an emotional writer. The first part of Born Bad was loosely based on memories from my childhood. However, I wish to point out by way of a disclaimer that what happens later in the book in no way reflects any wish or desire on my part. It is simply down to my overactive imagination running riot.

The visit to the clairvoyant was a real eye opener for me and it has certainly changed my views on clairvoyants. In fact, I’m thinking of booking a return visit at the beginning of next year.

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Slur in Kindle Autumn Sale

I am pleased to announce that Slur will be in the Kindle Autumn Sale on Amazon UK from 5th October until 13th November so it’s a good opportunity to buy it for just 99p. Here is the link: http://viewbook.at/Slur.

Slur is book 1 of The Riverhill Trilogy and the first book that I published independently prior to being signed by Aria. It has a review average on Amazon UK of 4.2 out of 74 reviews. The second two books in the trilogy have a review average of 4.5 for A Gangster’s Grip and 4.7 for Danger by Association.

If you want to be introduced to The Riverhill Trilogy this is a good chance to try it at a bargain price. I’ll hope you’ll enjoy it and please feel free to spread the word.

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Born Bad Follow up Now Available

I’m very excited to announce that Blood Ties, the follow-up to Born Bad and book two of my new trilogy, is already available to pre-order from Amazon. You can grab your copy using the link: http://viewBook.at/BloodTies. Publication date is 1st March 2018, which means that if you order now, you will have the book delivered to your Kindle as soon as that date arrives.

To give you a taster of what’s in store, here’s the fabulous cover that my publishers have designed together with the book blurb.

Adele Robinson is locked up – convicted for the murder of her abusive father. She quickly realizes that she’ll have to play it tough if she’s going to survive, and soon gains a reputation for standing her ground.

Meanwhile, her brother Peter is building his criminal empire on the outside – running protection rackets, seedy nightclubs and all manner of schemes to make a fast buck. He soon comes to the attention of, not only the police, but also Manchester’s rival gangs, and a turf war breaks out.

And when things start to get bloody, only Adele can step in to protect the family business. Will she get out in time to save Peter? After all, blood is thicker than water, and when family’s in trouble you can’t look the other way.

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I hope you’ll agree that the book blurb is very enticing. March might seem a long way off but with Christmas coming upon us, the time will soon fly by.

Big thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Born Bad, recommended it to others and left a review. It has surpassed all my expectations, peaking at an Amazon UK rank of 41 last week, and it continues to sell well. I hope that my readers will enjoy the second book just as much.

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My First Year with a Publisher

It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since I signed my publishing contract with Aria Fiction at Head of Zeus. A lot has happened in that time and the year seems to have flown by. So, I thought it was a good time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to what is in store in the future.

Progress so Far

At the time of writing Born Bad is currently ranked 82 on Amazon UK out of over 5 million books, and for the last couple of weeks it has hovered around the 100 mark. The highest rank it has achieved so far was 58 on two occasions. It has also received some excellent reviews. Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled as it has exceeded all my expectations.  

I am gaining a growing fan base which is wonderful to see. People are going on to read my other books as well as signing up to my mailing list and following me on social media.

At the moment I am polishing up book two so that I can send it to my publishers in a few weeks’ time, and it will soon be available for pre-order on Amazon.

What I’ve Learned

Working with a publisher means that there are lots of tight deadlines to meet. However, this is good for me as I am usually a massive procrastinator and it has made me become more self-disciplined with my writing routine.

It is wonderful to have the knowledge and support of a professional publisher which has been brilliant in terms of editing, marketing and promotion. Marketing encompasses a whole spectrum of activity from cover design to the book blurb and everything after that. At every stage it is specifically tailored to reach the target readership.

In terms of promotion, I have found that ads on large reader websites do work provided they are targeted, and this is one aspect in which my publishers have a wealth of knowledge and experience. A good publisher can also reach areas that I couldn’t have reached as an independent author e.g. the Amazon Summer Sale, which features only a few hundred books out of the millions available on Amazon UK.

Support

No matter what questions I have, my publishers are always on hand with help and advice. I am also connecting with other Aria authors who are a friendly, supportive bunch and I am discovering some great books that have been written by them. I still also keep in touch with some of my Indie author friends who have been very supportive over the years. 

Future Plans

The second book in the trilogy will be published at the end of this year/beginning of next although it will be available for pre-order on Amazon long before that. The third and final book in the trilogy will be published next summer.

After that, I would love to work with Aria again provided we can agree terms. I have a lot of ideas for other crime novels which I am looking forward to writing in the future.

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The Best Writing Advice Ever

There is one piece of writing advice that I have come across many times. The first time was during my writing course and I have since read a lot of blog posts and Internet articles giving that same advice, which is to ‘Show Don’t Tell’. I have found that piece of advice invaluable although I also find sometimes that I forget to heed it. When I do forget, I can often see that it makes a big difference to the standard of my work.  So, what exactly does it mean and how do you achieve it?

I think the best way to explain is by example. A simple example is to look at the way in which young children write stories. If a young child was writing a story about a girl going to the park, he might say:

‘The girl went into the park which had some grass where boys were playing football. There were lots of trees and a playground with swings, a roundabout and a slide. The girl enjoyed herself on the playground.’

Placing the Reader at the Scene

If you wanted to show instead of telling you would in effect be placing the reader at the park. The best way to do this is to try to get inside the girl’s head. Think about what it felt like being in the park. Was it a warm day or a cold day? Were the other children friendly? Did she feel nervous about playing among them or excited at the prospect of making new friends? What could she hear? Were the birds singing in the trees, was there laughter from the other children or perhaps squeals of excitement?

A good way to get inside your character’s head is to use the five senses i.e. think about what she could see, hear, touch, feel and taste. I have written about this topic before at: Writing Using the Five Senses.

It is also good to give the girl a name so that the reader can identify with her more easily. A name in itself can help to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. For example, the name Mabel would paint a different picture than the name Karen, which would also paint a different picture than the name Jessica. For Mabel I would imagine an elderly lady, for Karen a middle-aged woman and for Jessica a young woman or girl.  Try an Internet search for popular baby names in the year in which your fictitious character was born.

Exposition

Exposition is used to give background information and it does have its use. However, if you overuse it you can find that you are telling the tale instead of showing what is happening. Many writers do this without realising it, myself included, and a good editor can be helpful in spotting the overuse of exposition.

If you want to give some background information but don’t want to use too much exposition, you could try conveying it in another way, for example, through speech. If you are going to use this technique though, it’s best to ensure that the speech still flows naturally and doesn’t sound contrived.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have found this blog post useful.

Born Bad Blog Tour

I’m excited to see the start of the blog tour for Born Bad today. Here are details of the blogs that will feature excerpts from the book, reviews of Born Bad and interviews. I’ve also included the links below:

Born Bad - blog tour banner

17th July

Cheekypee Reads: Http://cheekypeereadsandreviews.blogspot.co.uk/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheekypeereadsandreviews/ 

Twitter: @cheekypee27

18th July

Trish’s Blog: https://trishbsblog.tumblr.com/

Twitter: @TSpa2

19th July 

Love Books Group: https://lovebooksgroup.blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoveBooksGrp/

Twitter: @LoveBooksGroup

20th July

Bookish Jottings: https://bookishjottings.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @BookishJottings

21st July

Emma The Little Bookworm: https://emmathelittlebookworm.wordpress.com/

Twitter: ‎@emmamitchellfpr

22nd July

The Writing Garnet: https://thewritinggarnet.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @kaishajayneh

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewritinggarnet/

23rd July

The Book on My Desk: www.thebookonmydesk.uk

Twitter: @Sophjourns

24th July 

Kath Middleton – Books: www.kathmiddletonbooks.com.

I hope you enjoy visiting them and finding out more about the book and my inspiration behind it.