Writer’s High

There’s a feeling that many authors are probably familiar with. I like to think of it as ‘writer’s high’ but others refer to it as having the muse. I also call it being ‘in the zone’. It’s that wonderful feeling when you enter one of those writing phases during which you’re on a roll and the ideas are spilling from you quicker than you can type them up.

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Unfortunately, it isn’t always like that. Sometimes it’s an uphill struggle, especially with a new novel, and it can take a while before you really connect with a piece of work and with the characters. You’ve got your basic premise for the novel and may have drawn up an outline but it feels a bit like painting by numbers as you try to fit each of the scenes into an overall framework. However, you’re not feeling a real spark and your writing isn’t exciting you.

Then, all of a sudden, something kicks in – one idea leads to another, scenes come alive in your imagination, characters become animated and you’re typing like the clappers, before you forget everything. You stop to make the dinner, you think of something else. You go for a walk, another scene comes to mind. You go to bed and the ideas still keep spilling out of you. By the morning you’ve got pages of handwritten notes ready to type up the following day. Your mind is alive with the thrill of it and you can’t wait to commit it all to the PC before you lose the feeling. Does that sound familiar?

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It can take over your life – a bit like a drug and, although it’s a good feeling, it can get in the way of so much. When I’m ‘In the Zone’ ideas usually come to me when I’m trying to relax so it can be while I’m trying to sleep, when I’m out for a walk or even when I’m taking a shower. I find it useful to have a notepad by my bedside and another in my handbag so that I can jot down ideas whenever they come to mind. When I’m ‘in the zone’ I find it difficult to concentrate on a film as my mind wanders. That’s the reason I watch a lot of trash TV; because I don’t need to concentrate too much. (That’s my excuse anyway.)

With my current WIP it was an uphill struggle for part of it but mostly because I was going through emotional upheaval in my personal life. However, I’m now in a much better place and back ‘in the zone’. This novel has two timelines running through it and, in order to write the later timeline, I had to recap on a lot of what had happened in the previous timeline. I was relieved to find that it read quite well. Perhaps my personal struggles helped me in dealing with much of the conflict in the book.

I’m almost ready to give the novel a good edit and hope to send it off to my publisher in a few weeks’ time. It’s been a challenge as it’s the most I’ve ever written for a novel, in accordance with my publisher’s guidelines. But this story has a lot of depth to it so I was confident of reaching the word count without any unnecessary padding. I’ll be keeping you updated as I progress further with the novel.

 

Book Signing – The Riverhill Trilogy

To celebrate completion of The Riverhill Trilogy, I’m having a book signing event. Full details are on the poster sign below. If you can make it to Manchester on 23rd July, I would love to meet you and I promise lots of fun and a bit of nostalgia too as we’re having a 1980s – 1990s Manchester theme. I look forward to seeing you there.

 

FB Launch Announcement

Goodreads Giveaway – Danger by Association

Here’s a chance to win a copy of my latest novel ‘Danger by Association’. I’m giving away three signed copies in a Goodreads Giveaway.

The cover design for ‘Danger by Association’ is my favourite so far, and it looks even better in print. Big thanks once again to my fabulous cover desiger Chris Howard who you can contact at: blondesign@gmail.com.

For a chance of winning one of three signed print copies, just follow the link below. You will be prompted to sign into Goodreads and then be taken straight to the Goodreads Giveaway area for ‘Danger by Association’.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Danger by Association by Heather Burnside

Danger by Association

by Heather Burnside

Giveaway ends July 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Wishing you the best of luck.

Strangeways Prison

Strangeways prison, now known as HMP Manchester, is one of the places featured in my forthcoming novel, Danger by Association. It is a high-security category A prison.

In my latest novel, a rather unsavoury character called Maurice leaves the prison after serving a five year sentence. Maurice is then released back into a society, which isn’t very accepting of people like him.

For this article I thought I would give some background to the prison, which dates back to the nineteenth century and is a rather imposing building.

Strangeways 2

The building itself is Grade II listed, and its construction was completed in 1869. The original design was for the prison to house 1,000 inmates. It has walls which are 16 feet thick and were designed to be impenetrable. The ventilation tower, shown in the background of the picture, is a well-known landmark, which is often mistaken for a watchtower.

The design of the prison is based on a panopticon. This is a type of building designed by Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, in the 18th Century. A panopticon building is in the shape of a star. It has an inspection house or watchtower at its centre with wings branching off from the central area. The idea of this concept was for inmates to be observed without them always being aware of the fact that they are being watched.

Strangeways has ten wings, which branch out from two blocks. The diagram below shows the largest of the two blocks, which houses six wings.

Strangeways Aerial View

Strangeways housed both male and female prisoners until 1963, but it is now a male only prison. It currently holds over 1200 hundred prisoners, and began taking remand prisoners in 1980. The name ‘Strangeways’ originates from the Anglo-Saxon word Strang gewoesc, which means, ‘a place by a stream with a strong current’.

Until 1964, executions were carried out at Strangeways. It had an execution room and a cell for the condemned prisoner as well as a permanent gallows. Between 1869 and 1964, 100 people were executed at Strangeways including the hanging of James Inglis. This was recorded as the world’s quickest hanging, and took just seven seconds.

The Strangeways Prison Riot – 1990

Prisoner protests about the conditions within the prison led to the riots of 1990. At that time, over 1600 prisoners were being held in a prison designed to house 1000 prisoners. The riot began in the prison chapel, but soon spread to other areas of the prison.

The riot lasted 25 days and prisoners were famously captured staging a rooftop protest. During the riot one prisoner was killed, and one prison officer died of a heart attack. Injuries were sustained by 147 prison officers and 47 prisoners. The total cost of repairing the damage to the prison was £90 million. Prisoners across the country responded by carrying out further disturbances in a number of other prisons.

Following the riots, the Government held a public enquiry. The outcome was for a major reform of the prison system. Strangeways was closed while substantial repairs and modernization took place. It re-opened in 1994 when it was renamed, HMP, Manchester. It now houses over 1200 male prisoners.

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Beta Readers Wanted

I’m looking for Beta readers for my latest novel, which is the third part in the Riverhill Trilogy. Although it’s part of a trilogy, it can be read as a standalone novel. The book is a mystery based crime thriller, and the Riverhill Trilogy fits into a sub-genre known as grit-lit so there is a certain amount of violence, drugs, bad language etc. Here is the blurb to give you more of a feel of what the novel is about:

Rita has been avoiding Manchester; it brings back too many bad memories. She still has harrowing flashbacks of ruthless gangster, Leroy, and the death of a loved one. It takes the wedding of her brother, John, to persuade her to return. She agrees, on the condition that she steers clear of the Riverhill estate and Leroy’s family.

When her son, Daniel, is placed in danger, Rita is lured back to the Riverhill where she confronts those she believes responsible. She receives support from an unlikely source who promises information subject to terms. Realising that she needs help to act on that information, Rita turns to her brother, John.

But John works for the law. And he will have to go against everything he believes in if he agrees to embark on a maverick mission to help save his sister’s son.

You can also check out the first two books in the trilogy, ‘Slur’ and ‘A Gangster’s Grip’. Here are the links: http://viewbook.at/Slur and http://viewbook.at/GangstersGrip.

I hope to have the book ready to send off to beta readers in the next couple of weeks. If you are interested, please drop me an email at: dianewriting@gmail.com.

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Goodreads Giveaway

As promised, the Goodreads Giveaway for ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ starts today. The wonderful Chris Howard has come up with another stunning cover design, which looks even better in print, so it’s well worth getting your hands on a copy.

For a chance of winning one of three signed print copies, just follow the link below. You will be prompted to sign into Goodreads and then be taken straight to the Goodreads Giveaway area for ‘A Gangster’s Grip’. Simples!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Gangster's Grip by Heather Burnside

A Gangster’s Grip

by Heather Burnside

Giveaway ends October 29, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Wishing you the best of luck!

Book Launch Day – A Gangster’s Grip

The day of the launch has finally arrived and ‘A Gangster’s Grip’, book two in The Riverhill Trilogy, is now available in both a Kindle and print format from Amazon. Here is the link: http://viewbook.at/GangstersGrip.

Gangster's Grip V4

I have plenty of events lined up to celebrate the launch of my second novel, including:

A Radio Interview – It will take place on 17th October at North Manchester Radio station in Harpurhey, Manchester. They have a Saturday afternoon slot specifically dedicated to books, creative writing and publishing so I am pleased to have been invited as a guest on the show.

Book Shop Signing – On 24th October I will be signing copies of ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ at Thackeray’s Book Shop in Denton, Manchester. Thackeray’s will also be stocking copies of both ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ and ‘Slur’.

Goodreads Giveaway – I’ll be giving away signed copies of ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ to two lucky winners in a Goodreads Giveaway so look out for details on my Goodreads author page by following the link here.

A Free Promotion of ‘Slur’ – From today ‘Slur’ will be available to download to the Kindle FREE of charge for five days. ‘Slur’ is the first book in The Riverhill Trilogy so if you haven’t already read it, this is a great opportunity to start at the beginning. Here is the link: http://viewbook.at/Slur.

Online Interviews and Features – I will be taking part in a few online interviews and features. The first of these is a chat ‘Around the Cauldron’ with Wiz Green aka popular author Mark Barry, which has earned me the amusing nickname of Hardcore Heather. (I must point out that this refers to the grit lit sub-genre that my novels fit into rather than my lifestyle :).) You can catch the full interview: here.

I will keep you updated about the above activities by publishing further details on the blog as the events take place.

And there was I telling myself that I would be less busy after the launch; I guess I will have to postpone my winter break.

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