Launch of My Twelfth Title, Guilt

Today is the launch of my twelfth title, Guilt, and I’m really excited for this one. It’s my first standalone novel but is also a spin-off from my popular Working Girls series. The Amazon link is: http://viewbook.at/Guilt

Here’s a taster: 

I know who you are…

Laura Sharples has worked hard for every penny she’s earned, and is now a successful businesswoman who runs a handful of designer fashion boutiques. But it wasn’t so long ago that she called herself Crystal and worked the streets of Manchester. Though she’s put her past firmly behind her, she’s never forgotten what it took to beat her addictions and raise her daughter, Candice, to expect better.

I know what you did…

Candice is proud of how her mum turned her life around, but when her boutiques are targeted in a series of attacks, the stress takes its toll on Laura. Candice fears her mum may be falling back into her old habits in order to cope, and it’s driving a wedge between them. Luckily, her boyfriend Thomas is on hand to support her, and her troubles don’t seem to have put him off.

I’m coming to get you…

As the attacks escalate, the police have no leads and it’s making Laura paranoid. It’s clear there’s someone else out there who hasn’t forgotten who she used to be.

Someone who knows what she did…

Someone who won’t stop until she loses absolutely everything…

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

The Challenges of Writing a Book Series

Up to now I have only written books as part of a series starting with The Riverhill Trilogy then The Manchester Trilogy and then The Working Girls series and, to be honest, I am well ready for a break from series writing. My next book to be published in August, Guilt, is a spin-off from The Working Girls series so it presented me with the same challenges as with a series. Thankfully, I now am working on a standalone novel, my first of three, and it makes life so much easier.

So, what are the challenges that are unique to a series? Here are a few to consider:

Thinking of Enough Ideas to Sustain a Series of Books

Before you start writing a series you need to make sure you have plenty of ideas. With my first trilogy I only originally intended to write one novel. The ideas for the other two books flowed from the first one as I wrote it so I didn’t have the problem of having to think of the ideas for all three novels in advance.

With The Manchester Trilogy, my intention was to have one long continuous story spanning three novels but with each book being a complete story within itself. At the time I felt confident that it would work as a trilogy and I was fortunate in that the ideas kept coming but I dread to think what might have happened if I had become stuck for ideas especially as the first book was marketed as book one in a trilogy.

With The Working Girls series, each book forms a separate story. It is the setting that links the books as well as the fact that some characters appear in more than one novel. In that respect it wasn’t as trying as The Manchester Trilogy but my main challenge with this series was in managing the timeline per below.

Keeping the Continuity Going

As with any book you have to be sure of things like plot and character development but this is even more challenging with a series as you have to keep it going throughout. There are some series where each book can work as a standalone such as my Working Girls series, but there still has to be something that links it in to the rest of the series e.g. you might have the same characters reappearing in each novel or the novels might have a particular setting in common. This can sometimes be restrictive and you might end up wishing you could break away from the series.

Managing the Timeline

Timelines are my biggest bugbear when writing a novel. I’ve tried various approaches from working it out roughly then completing it at the end to tracking the date and time as I go along. No matter which method I use, I always seem to come unstuck and have to rework the timeline at the end of the novel.

With the book I’m currently writing, I tracked the dates as I went along but unfortunately the novel had a lengthier timescale than I envisioned. This meant that when I reached the middle of the novel I was already in the current day. I therefore need to rework it so that it ends up in the recent past. I find that this task requires mathematical skills more than writing skills and it isn’t one I’m looking forward to.

With The Working Girls series the problems of managing the timeline were multiplied because I had overlaps between the novels. This meant that as well as working out the timeline for each novel, I also had to work out the series timeline. So, when I came to write Sapphire, I had to work out what age she was at different points in each previous novel and where she was in her life at that particular point. Without the series timeline I wouldn’t have been able to manage it as it may have led to contradictions per below.

Being Careful of Contradictions

One thing I always dread when writing a novel is contradicting something that occurs earlier on. There are ways that help to avoid this such as keeping a list of all the characters and their characteristics as well as a list of places and a sequence of events. The latter is where you keep a track of each scene by writing a few lines summarising the events in that scene. Despite all these techniques, there is still always a chance that by the time you get to the later stages of the novel, you will have forgotten the details from earlier. With a series this problem is even more evident.

My spin off novel, Guilt, follows on from Crystal, book 3 in The Manchester Trilogy. Therefore, before I started to write it, I did a full recap of Crystal by checking the sequence of events including the timeline and by reading through Crystal to refresh my memory.

And the advantages:

Reader Feed Through

This is probably the biggest advantage of writing a series, and the reason why publishers love them so much. If readers enjoy one of your books and they find out it is part of a series, then there is a good chance they will hunt for other books in that series. This doesn’t just happen with book one. Often readers will discover a book later in the series and then go back to the previous books.

Reader feed through is also more common with series than standalones because readers often become engrossed in the characters.

Pricing Strategy

Because of reader feed through with series, it is easier to tempt readers to try your latest novel by reducing the price of the previous ones. This also has the advantage that you can keep your new publication at full price and still attract new readers.

Those are the advantages and disadvantages that spring to mind for me but if you think of any others, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

If you would like to check out any of my books, my Amazon author page is: http://Author.to/HBurnside.

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Sapphire Launch Day

It’s digital launch day today for Sapphire, the fifth and final book in The Working Girls series, which you can obtain at: http://viewbook.at/Sapphire. It will be available in paperback from 14th April via Amazon and all good bookshops, and an audio version will also follow.

Sapphire

Here’s the book blurb:

Two sisters alone

Sophie and Kelsey have always had each other. When their mum is diagnosed with cancer and their dad fails to step up, they’re forced to move into the care system. But Sophie knows they’ll be okay as long as she’s there to protect her sister.

One final chance

But when Kelsey is found a foster family and Sophie can’t join her, Sophie’s left in an unsafe situation in the home, forced to do things against her will. Finding her own foster family feels like a relief, but it’s short lived when her trust in her new foster parents is betrayed.

No going back

With nowhere to turn, Sophie finds herself homeless. But when she finds her new street family, Sophie joins the working girls and her new identity as Sapphire is complete. It’s a hard life working the streets, especially when those around her look to take advantage, but can the dream of one day finding Kelsey keep her going?

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If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll be pleased to note that there will be a spin-off book called Guilt which will be released in August this year.

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Changing the Way I Write

Recently I experienced a problem with extremely dry eyes. It took day and night drops as well as using a heated eye mask twice a day before the problem improved. They have tended to be dry for a long time now, but I think the problem was exacerbated by increased screen use during the pandemic. As well as using a PC all day, I was also attending Zoom events and chatting to family and friends by video call.

Consequently, I have had to change the way I work in order to reduce screen time. I have also stopped the Zoom events and video calls apart from the odd exception.

Obviously, as an author who spends most of the day typing on the computer, this has presented some challenges so here is how I got round them. 

  1. I basically type with my eyes shut. I’m a touch typist anyway, which is fortunate, but it still means I have to peek at the screen every now and again to make sure the text hasn’t misaligned.
  2. I no longer check my work as I go along. I used to recap each day by reading over the previous day’s work and editing it as I went along. As well as enabling me to correct my work, it also put me in the right frame of mind ready to write. Now, I just refresh my memory by having a quick scan over my sequence of events document where I list what has taken place in each scene.
  3. When I reach the end of the document, I review it by using the speech function on Word. This means I don’t have to look at the screen constantly. If I hear something that doesn’t sound quite right, I pause the speech and check the document, making any necessary changes. It still means I have to look at the screen but I’m not looking at it as often. It has its disadvantages because sometimes a word sounds in context even thought it might be spelt incorrectly, and the pronunciation on the speech function isn’t always spot on. However, I have the back-up of the spellchecker.
  4. With my latest novel I am putting it to one side for a few weeks, as I always do, ready to make a final check of it before sending it back to my publishers. Again, I won’t be reading it on screen. Instead, I will use Calibre software to transfer it to my Kindle and read it through while making notes with a pad and pen regarding any changes I want to make. My Kindle is one of the old types that doesn’t have a backlit screen and is therefore much kinder on the eyes. 

I was hoping to take a two week break over the Christmas period to give my eyes a total rest but, alas, I have just received the proofread version of my forthcoming novel. I’ll therefore be thinking of ways to tackle it without wrecking my eyesight in the process.

Of all the screens I use, I have found my phone to be the worst of all, even though I have changed the settings. It has made me realise the damage that modern technology has on our eyes. I’m hoping that my experience acts as a warning to others. If you’re suffering from dry, sore or itchy eyes, cut down on your screen time before the problem gets worse. 

 

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Blog Tour for Crystal

Today sees the start of the blog tour for Crystal. Although the book was published on 7th May, 4th June was the original intended publication date. 7th May was the scheduled date for the print publication of Vendetta, which has been delayed due to the Corona virus. My publishers therefore decided to publish Crystal on that date instead.

Here is the schedule for the blog tour:

As you can see, Aria have lined up some fabulous reviewers and I’m looking forward to checking out their posts.

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My Lockdown Launch

Today is publication day for Crystal, the third book in The Working Girls series, and I must admit it is the strangest book launch I have ever had. Usually, I would go for a meal with friends and/or family to celebrate but with everybody in lockdown due to the Coronavirus, that isn’t possible. I therefore intend to celebrate online instead.


The Coronavirus has affected the launch in other ways too. Publication date has been brought forward by a month to replace the scheduled launch of Vendetta in paperback. This is because digital books are selling much better than paperbacks at the moment due to the book shops being closed. Also, the blog tour will be going ahead on the dates that had already been scheduled i.e. from 4th June through to 17th June. This is because this had already been arranged with bloggers.


Here is the book blurb for Crystal:


THE PIMP.
When Crystal’s pimp, protector and former lover, Gilly, dies of a drugs overdose Crystal is bereft. She refuses the paid protection of a rival pimp, determined to go it alone. But a vicious beating from a client leaves her feeling vulnerable and angry.
THE JUDGE.
Meanwhile, Crystal’s daughter, Candice, is asking difficult questions about her job. Crystal decides it’s time to make some changes, and, when a high-profile judge offers her payment to keep schtum about his nefarious activities, it gives her an idea. Perhaps other clients will also pay for her silence…
THE REVENGE.
Crystal engages on a revenge mission to rob, blackmail and expose her most depraved clients. But some of these men are highly dangerous and, if Crystal wants to exact her plan of revenge, she must accept the risks that go with it.


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Thank you to everybody who has bought a copy to date. I hope you enjoy Crystal’s story. If you haven’t yet bought a copy, you can grab one at: http://viewbook.at/Crystal or, if you prefer to read on the Kobo, you can find the book at: http://bit.ly/2GSlhZp.


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Print Launch of Blood Ties

I am pleased to announce that Blood Ties, book two in my Manchester Trilogy, will be available in book shops from today, and will be stocked at Blackwell’s, The Works and others. This follows on from the print launch of book one, Born Bad, in April and there are plans to launch a print version of book three, Vendetta, later next year.

We celebrated the launch with a party, which started off at Blackwell’s book store in Manchester and continued on to the bar a few doors down. It was a fantastic night and was a pleasure to share it with some of my wonderful readers, fellow authors, publishers, and family and friends. Here are some photographs of the event:

 

The print launch of Blood Ties will be followed by Vendetta, book three in the trilogy, which will hit the book shops later next year.

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Launch of Ruby

It’s launch day for Ruby, book two of my Working Girls series and I’m so excited. I loved creating the character of Ruby as she is so feisty and formidable. She’s also completely different to Maddy, featured in book one, The Mark, as she was vulnerable and prone to errors of judgement.

Here are all the links to digital suppliers if you still haven’t bought your copy:

To remind you of what the book is about, here’s the book blurb together with the cover image:

THE STRONGER SEX.
Ruby has always been strong. Growing up with a feeble mother and an absent father, she is forced to fight the battles of her younger siblings. And when a childhood experience leaves her traumatised, her distrust of men turns to hatred.

ON THE STREETS.
With no safe place to call home, Ruby is desperate to fit in with the tough crowd. She spends her teenage years sleeping around and drinking in the park, and by the time she is sixteen, prostitution has become a way of life. But Ruby has ambitions, and she soon moves up the ladder to become the madam of her own brothel.

THE BROTHEL.
But being in charge of a brothel has its down sides, Ruby faces her worst nightmare when an enemy from the past comes back into her life, and gang intimidation threatens to ruin everything. Can she find a way to beat her tormentors? And will she be strong enough to see it through?

I do hope you enjoy reading Ruby.

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Keeping a Schedule of Events for your Novel

Following on from my previous post in which I said I would write more posts that fellow authors and aspiring authors might find useful, I decided to share my tips for keeping a Schedule of Events. Below is a sample of my Schedule of Events for the first few chapters of The Mark. For me this document is just as important as the manuscript itself as it helps me to quickly pinpoint exactly where I am up to in a novel without having to wade through pages and pages of text.

The ability to do this is particularly valuable if you have to spend long periods away from your work in progress (WIP), for example, if you go away on holiday or if you have other commitments which mean that you can’t always spend as much time on your WIP as you would like. For me, I can be writing one novel when my publishers come back with edits for the one that is currently in production. That means I might have to put my WIP to one side for a few weeks while I action the developmental edits so it’s useful to have a Schedule of Events when I eventually pick it up again.

Week Day/Time Chap Event
1 Ref jacket 1

 

 

 

7 pgs

Maddy is interviewing prostitutes in the Rose and Crown who are Crystal and some others. When the prostitutes become nervous of someone standing at the bar, Maddy packs up her things and goes.

 

Gilly the pimp is standing at the bar and he comes over to talk to Crystal, his girlfriend who is on the game. He spots Maddy walking away and asks Crystal what is going on. He starts to become curious about Maddy.

1 8pm

Finished with Rob 2 months prev

2

 

5 pgs

Maddy makes it home just in time before her ex-husband Andy brings her daughter Rebecca back. Maddy’s friend, Clare, rings and invites her to a night out. We find out a little about Maddy including her most recent eight month relationship with Rob.
1 Lunchtime 3

4 pgs

Crystal meets Gilly in the Rose and Crown and gives him her earnings. We see how badly he treats her. He tells her to go ahead with the meeting with the journalist.
1

 

 

1

4

 

 

4 pgs

Crystal’s 2nd meeting with Maddy, told from Crystal’s pov.

 

Gilly’s POV as he watches the meeting between Crystal and Maddy through the mirror at the back of the bar. He is becoming increasingly intrigued by Maddy. When she leaves the pub he follows behind her.

1 Late evening 5

5 pgs

Gilly follows Maddy home and then goes back to his seedy bedsit. We see the contrast and see him chasing the dragon.
2

 

 

2

A week later

 

 

Night after prev scene

6

 

 

6 pgs

Maddy goes on her night out with Clare. She meets a man called Aaron who is good looking, tall, slim and blonde.

 

Maddy gets a message from Aaron the following night asking her out and she texts him back saying she’d like to see him.

My Schedule of Events isn’t just useful for keeping track of where the plot is heading; it also serves several other purposes. You will notice that there is a Week column and a Day/Time column, and these help me to figure out my timeline for the novel. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog that timeline is something I often struggle with so these days I keep a note of anything time related as I’m writing the novel.

I also keep a note of anything that might affect the timescale and these are shown in red italics, for example, the fact that she was wearing a jacket rather than a coat in the first scene of chapter one, indicating that it is unlikely to be mid-winter.  By keeping a note of all these time-related details it has made it easier for me to work out the timeline for my novel although I must admit that I still find it the most challenging aspect of writing a novel. That’s probably also down to the fact that all of the books I have recently written form part of a trilogy or a series of books, which complicates matters more than if I was writing a standalone novel.

In the Event column I have detailed what happens in each chapter with a separate paragraph for each scene in the chapter. You will also notice under the Chapter column that I keep a note of how many pages constitute each chapter. This makes it easier when I’m producing a second draft or doing the edits as I might want to extend some scenes, shorten others and maybe switch some scenes around. By keeping a note of the page numbers I can make sure that the whole thing balances overall and that there isn’t too much different between chapter lengths unless this is deliberate, for example, if I want to add a particularly short but impactful chapter.

I hope these tips help you in organising your own WIP. You might think of a few items to add to the Schedule of Events. If so, I’d love to hear your ideas as they might help me too.

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Meet my New Characters

After writing two trilogies it has been so exciting to work on a new series of novels and develop a whole new set of characters. The Mark was recently published and, although this book is the first in my new Working Girls series, it can also be read as a standalone. The same applies to all of the books in the series as each novel tells a separate story which, with the exception of The Mark, concentrates on a particular working girl. However, each book in my Working Girls series will have links to the other books in the series and some character overlap.

It is now a few weeks since The Mark was published and books two and three, Ruby and Crystal are already available for pre-order on Amazon. As I am progressing well with books two and three I thought it would be a good time to introduce you to some of the main characters in The Working Girls series.

Maddy

On the surface Maddy has it all – a good job, nice home and lovely daughter. She’s also intelligent, classy and attractive, and has a way with people. But Maddy has a weakness for the opposite sex, and has several failed relationships behind her. In the aftermath of her divorce she still feels vulnerable and tries to bolster her ego by dating men much younger than her. Unfortunately this leads to problems in her life that ultimately threaten to destroy her.

Aaron

Young, good looking and a successful businessman, Aaron seems too good to be true. He uses his charms to woo Maddy and soon starts to dominate her life. But Aaron isn’t all he seems and, as The Mark progresses he reveals more of his sinister side.

Gilly

The ruthless pimp that develops an obsession with Maddy, Gilly is bad through and through. He is skinny and scruffy looking, and is a drug addict who uses his income from prostitution to squander on drugs and alcohol. Gilly is abusive to his partner, Crystal, and refuses to acknowledge the child they have together. People are wary of Gilly because of his nasty streak. As his obsession with Maddy develops we are left wondering what the outcome will be.

Ruby

She is my favourite character since Rita in The Riverhill Trilogy. Standing at almost six foot and with a slim but muscular physique, Ruby is a formidable woman. She is feisty and fierce and won’t stand any nonsense from anybody. She also has a profound mistrust of men due to childhood experiences. But, despite her feisty side, Ruby has a good heart. She is a loyal and caring friend and is always willing to help out when needed.

Crystal

Crystal is a complex character. Although she is basically good at heart, she is driven to desperate acts because of her compulsion for drugs, her love of Gilly and her need to take care of her daughter, Candice. Despite some of the things she does, Crystal has a conscience and tries to only hurt the people who she feels deserve it. She has been through a lot in her life, which has toughened her up even though by nature she is actually quite a sensitive person. When she goes on a revenge mission she targets the men who have treated her badly during her time as a prostitute, and we see her change from submissive to vengeful.

And there’s more:

This post features the main characters in the books that are now available through Amazon. However, although I am currently only contracted for these three books, I have a further two books in mind. I’m not revealing the characters in those books yet because I’m not sure whether I’ll be writing those next or something different. Also, the idea for the fifth book is a bit sketchy at the moment and needs more research in order for me to flesh out the outline a bit more. I’ll keep you up to date as things develop.  

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