Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Next Big Thing - My Turn

With Apologies to Vic Watson for dropping her baton earlier in the year, I was tagged again by the uber talented Zoe Sharp

Here's my go at it.

What is the working title of your book?
The Ironmonger’s Error

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It came from wanting to write a novel about a detective who was a throwback to the old days trying to survive in a modern police environment. I also wanted to write a novel which has a detective investigating the fringes of a case which is much more serious than he realises.

What genre does your book fall under?
It is a crime thriller with overtones of suspense.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Ideally George Clooney and Brad Pitt would play the two main leads but I’d settle for Jedward if the producer’s cheque was fat enough.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Two respectable parents are forced into a life of crime to raise the ransom for their children’s release.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Hopefully I can get a publishing deal in the traditional manner. One agent has already looked at it and given me advice on what I would need to change. Another agent has asked to see it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took two years of very on-off writing.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s a tough one as I have tried very hard to be original. I cannot think of another book which is similar but I’m sure there is one out there. Perhaps the TV show Life on Mars but in reverse as my lead character is very abrasive and not at all politically correct.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
All the author’s I’ve ever read had a hand in me writing this novel, but on a personal level it has been Col Bury who has kicked my backside and got me pounding the keyboard on a regular basis.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It starts off as a kind of police procedural with the police being unaware of the kidnapping and the lead detective facing an unwanted retirement. When they find out about the kidnapping roughly halfway through the book the story takes on a different complexion as the lead character moves heaven and earth to rescue the two children.

As most people I know have already been involved in this meme or whatever it’s called I’m gonna tag five eBooks I’ve read this year as a cunning twist / easy get out. I'll let you decide which.

Manchester 6 by Col Bury
Cracking dialogue with a wonderfully gritty feel throughout. 

From a Crowded Mind by David Barber
A sense of place so acute I nearly cut myself reading it.


The Village Idiot Reviews by Pete Sortwell
A great premise brilliantly executed.

The Blues Detective by Andrew Peters
A new twist on the American gumshoe stories which makes for lighter and easier reading

Across the Broken Line by Zoë Sharp
A Charlie Fox short story with a fractured timeline that keeps you guessing all the way through.


A late addition to my list is LinkedIn friend Sarah Baethge who will be posting her NBT here on the 10th of December

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Young Adult or Just Plain Adult

This week I'm delighted to have Emerald Barnes over for a guest post.
As a YA writer, there are certain rules that I try to write by. For instance, the protagonist is under eighteen (unless s/he is a vampire). I make sure that school plays a role in my books, and I make sure they struggle through “teenage problems.” I define teenage problems as trying to find/keep/deal with a romantic relationship, fighting with parents or parental figures, thinking they’re invincible or at the very least right about every decision they make. I try to put myself in a teenager’s mind and write from there. I also like love triangles which seem to work better in YA.

Writing for an adult is a little different. The problems seem to be complex in a different way. They too have relationship problems, but they are different than the “does he really like me?” problems teenagers have – typically. Adults think differently. We don’t think about life in perspective of who’s more popular than whom, or who will win prom queen (unless it’s children who are up for prom queen). We focus more on what is happening in the now. We have different worries, like finances, finding a better job, or life not going the way we planned it straight out of high school.

But how is one problem more complex than another between adults and young adults? It isn’t really, but when it comes to writing YA fiction, I make sure that my characters fit the “norm” for teenagers.

We have a target audience in mind when we write. It will either be for young adults, adults, middle grade kids, or the new genre, new adult. It doesn’t mean that different age groups can’t read books that aren’t in their age group, but we still have the target audience we direct our novels to. And yes, there are crossovers, but again, that has to do with target audience choices.

The rules above don’t necessarily apply to every book that is YA or adult. It only applies to me and how I write. I tend to see those rules as something as a guideline for my own writing. Adult books for me, tend to be more, “why should I love him?” Or “I know I love him, but it’s too painful being with him due to our past.” The things that happen to adults vary greatly from my typical YA characters. If I put my YA characters in my adult characters’ situations, I don’t see it working out for the storyline.

Sure, there are different situations for different people. That applies to all characters, young or older. But, it’s something we, as a writer, have to figure out before we write the story forming in our minds.

The difference between writing young adult and adult to me is that there are two different views of life. Adults tend to have those “I wish I knew then what I know now”attitudes, while teens tend to think differently. It’s all about getting in the mindset of your characters, be they 13, 18, or 50.

How do you distinguish between writing for YAs or Adults?
Author Bio:
Emerald Barnes graduated with a B.A. in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women. She resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it.

She's the author of two books. She mainly writes suspense/thrillers in the YA genre, but she dabbles in other genres and her books are enjoyed by all ages!

She's constantly working on new novels and has more ideas than she knows what to do with. She blogs at, and which takes up more of her time than she anticipates but loves it so very much! She's also a volunteer at the World Literary Cafe which is so amazing!

She's an auntie to two beautiful nieces and two handsome nephews who take up the other half of her time, but she couldn't imagine spending her time in any other way!

She's a Whovian, a little bit of a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person. God is number one in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor.


Read Me Dead

Piercing Through the Darkness

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Fact in Fiction

All crime fiction needs to be grounded in some kind of fact but a lot of my favourite authors have used real life events such as wars, current events and historical facts as the setting for their books. There are several different facets to this so I’m gonna take a wild stab at a few of them. 

Sure all authors have to do research and make sure their facts are correct, but when it comes to writing the story the facts can make or break the book. Over-showing of research is a big a crime to me as getting basic details wrong. On the other hand detailed research fed into the story as relevant details can really educate the reader. 

Take Wilbur Smith’s excellent Courtney series which starts with When the Lion Feeds. It encompasses the Boer War and the battle of Isandlwana which preceded Rourke’s Drift in the Anglo-Zulu wars. Smith weaves his characters into known facts and gave a very educating account of both conflicts while the story was really a grand adventure. As the series progressed through the decades both the first and second world wars were included although in a lesser way. By reading Smith’s books I have learned so much about African history while being entertained by a great story. 

Similarly Steve Berry’s books are rich on historical details and I have had a wonderful education from him on many different subjects. His novels though deal with historical findings and the way he welds fact and action together never fails to keep me turning pages. 

The juxtaposition to these novels is the modern news story based books by Tom Cain. Cain tackles issues such as the UK riots, the banking crisis and the death of Diana – Princes of Wales in his action fuelled novels. What he does so brilliantly is take current events as the background to his novels, then his main protagonist has to battle all kinds of different forces as he pursues his goal. 

Conversely one of the best selling books ever – The Da Vinci Code – challenges known religious beliefs with alternate theories as to the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail.

Personally I love it when an author educates me while entertaining me. What about you, does fact in fiction float your boat or sweep you overboard?



Monday, 5 November 2012

Rhino Hide or Run and Hide?

This week I'm delighted to welcome Stacy S Eaton to my blog where she will be talking about how to handle reviews. Not only is this subject very close to my heart, Stacy talks some very good sense which I for one agree with.

Reviews can be one of the most important things to a writer, although it should not be the most important thing. I know that there is no better feeling than for someone to tell you that they loved your book. But what about the people who don’t?

I recently did an interview where I talked about this briefly. As writers we have to remember that readers all have different tastes. I am not a fan of Pepsi – but I love Coke. Some people are just the opposite. That’s why when you walk into the grocery store, there is a whole isle dedicated to different flavors of soda. Everyone likes different things.

So do readers.

What do I do if I get a review that isn’t that gushing “OMG I loved your story!”? Well, I read it and see if they make any points. Was there something they really didn’t like? Have other people said they didn’t like that particular thing also? Was it something about the writing or was it just the story they weren’t thrilled with?

I look at these and if I am seeing the same kinds of comments, then I think on them, I take them seriously. Maybe they are right, or maybe they are just Pepsi fans. Whatever the reason, I do think about them and I take them into consideration while I work on my next project.  You have to; it is the readers you are trying to please. Granted you cannot please everyone, but you can always try.

I know that a lot of authors take any review under a four star as a negative and a personal attack. You can’t do that. A three star review is still a good review – it just means they liked it, but it wasn’t their favorite. It’s not an attack on you the writer, it’s an opinion and everyone has one.

In July, I released my newest novel, “Whether I’ll Live or Die”. This story is a very intense story about domestic abuse. I knew where I wrote it that some people would love it and others would hate it. It’s their choice. I have been humbled by the four and five star reviews that I have obtained. But there are people that have given it a 1 star too. Unfortunately, that person did not leave a review – just a rating so I don’t know why they didn’t like it. Maybe it was too intense; maybe they didn’t like the ending. Who knows, but it just proves my point that while I have a lot of people who have loved the book, I do have others that don’t.

You look at them and then move on. Don’t let it eat away at you. Take the comments with a grain of salt and move forward.  If you can take the good with the bad, then you will just become a stronger writer.

“Whether I’ll Live or Die”

 “It sounded so simple in theory; ready... aim... fire... but what actually transpired was so much more.”

Officer Nicole Nolan holds the gun steady in her hands, knowing that life will be forever altered once she pulls the trigger. Her position as a small town police officer is to protect those who cannot protect themselves. It is her job, her career and her life.

Amanda stands where protection does not exist. With several failed relationships behind her, Amanda turns a blind eye to the possessiveness Josh displays in order to sooth her desperate need to be loved. As the mental abuse turns violent, Amanda must deal with the denial and embarrassment of being a victim once again. With her emotional and physical health siting on the edge, she must fight to regain control of her life.

A gripping story with one final destination, but will it be life or death?

Author Bio:

Stacy is a full-time police officer who enjoys crime scene investigation above all else. She is a mother of two and her husband is also in law enforcement. She is very much into photography and carries her Nikon Digital SLR with her almost everywhere, just in case. She also has two Shiloh Shepherd dogs and loves to play catch with them.

Her first book, My Blood Runs Blue was the start of her writing career.  It brings the world of law enforcement into the paranormal world of vampires. It is a suspenseful adult series that will keep you guessing from chapter to chapter. Book one, My Blood Runs Blue, was published April 2011 and is currently available in paperback, hardcover and e-book editions. Book two of the series, entitled Blue Blood for Life was released September 2011 and like book 1 made International Best Selling lists on Amazon very quickly.  The third book of this series is in the plot and characters development stage. She is hoping to have it completed and published in the spring of 2013.

Stacy continues to write and is currently working on finishing up her latest novel, “Garda ~ Welcome to The Realm” a book about guardian angels. Book three of the series is in the works along with a contemporary romance. She also has plotlines for four more books sitting on the back burner.

Twitter: @StacySEaton

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Horror Vs Crime

Halloween got me thinking about horror writing and crime fiction. Without meaning to offend any of my friends who read or write horror fiction I have to say that the whole horror scene does nothing for me. Ghouls, goblins, monsters and supernatural goings on have me reaching for the remote, leaving the cinema or worst of all – laying down the book. 

Yet when I thought about it there is a definite correlation between horror and my beloved crime fiction. Horror terrifies the reader or viewer with scary beings that may or may not be exist, (I’m a bet hedger by the way) while crime fiction deals with events which are real and can be found in almost any daily newspaper.  

Okay I’ll admit that some books in the crime fiction genre are a bit fanciful, but they all play on the fears of the reader. Take the Bond books by Ian Fleming as an example, they all seem to have a megalomaniac who wants to rule the world or are a battle against Russians. While this may be a bit clichéd in today’s world, we must remember that they were mostly released during the late fifties and sixties when the cold war was at its most Arctic and the thoughts and fears of the populace were very different than they are today. 

On the other hand there are some fantastic novels which could claim to be in either camp. Take The Shining by Stephen King, King is known for his out and out horror novels which have petrified millions of people over the decades, yet I feel The Shining is more of a psychological thriller than a straight horror tale. When you examine the story and observe Jack’s descent into madness you genuinely feel afraid for him and his family. There are no supernatural creatures whatsoever in the book or the film but who can forget Jack Nicholson’s face poking through the shattered door panel?

Another film and book which shocked was Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs. Boiled down to its essential story Silence of the Lambs is a police procedural with an informer called Hannibal Lector. However anyone who has ever read the book or seen the film will know it is so much more than that. Lector is a truly terrifying character who, when teamed up with the young and vulnerable Clarice Starling takes on an even more sinister role. 

These crossovers work for me as they do for millions of others but I have tried reading and watching horror only to find myself underwhelmed. I have read a John Connolly book which was technically very good but too supernatural for me and I fell asleep in the cinema during Hellraiser 3

So which camp are you in, Crime or Horror? Answers on the back of a £20 note or in the comments section if you prefer.