Moving country – exchanging sun, sand and sea for green rolling fields, sheep and cows, I was apprehensive to say the least. Choosing to live deep in the English countryside I began to wonder if I would be lonely. I had my writing, of course, with all my lovely characters, and now, no neighbours to interrupt my day. Life couldn’t be better, Could it?
After a few months, I began to miss the knock at the door and the “haven’t you finished yet, the sun has gone down over the yardarm” My nearest watering hole was two miles away. I needed compensation.
Then I noticed that, every day, one particular black and white heifer would come to the fence bordering my garden and just stand staring in my kitchen…
I now take great pleasure in introducing you to my new muse, Montgo.
Watching Adele making a mess of her first attempt to sing a tribute to George Michael, the other night, was a reminder of how professional she is. She stopped the performance, apologised to the audience and started the song again, from scratch. The second attempt was pitch-perfect. What a wonderful, talented and beautiful performer she is.
Writing is really quite similar. Good writers use the experience gleaned from reviews and feedback to make sure that their books are a perfect as possible. I know, as a writer that it is still quite possible to publish an edited book and discover, after the event, that there are errors in it. It happens. The mark of a professional writer and a good publisher is that these issues are addressed. Under the rules of ISBN registration there is a limit to what you can alter, in a book, before it needs a new ISBN number. However, most books have the flexibility for small changes to be made, providing the registered page count remains the same.
For me, part of this process involved some radical rethinking on how my books were presented. I moved from a pen-name to publishing under my real name. I moved from a miss-mash of titles to a coherent look to my books. My books were so radically altered that people who read them when they were first published, would see the difference – although the plots are unchanged and the bulk of the stories remain as first written, it would be disingenuous to suggest that they haven’t been influenced by the changes that I have gone through as an author. What was acceptable, when I started, is not acceptable to me now that I have four books behind me. Which I think is as it should be.
So, to watch an award winning singer with millions of best-selling disks to her name, stop, consider and retake is a reassurance that, maybe, it is OK for us all to be able to do the same.
It has been on my mind a lot in the last few weeks. Perhaps it is because my mind is running through the scenarios for future books but, sometimes, I am not so sure. The thing is, we are selling our house. Sounds simple – sounds uncomplicated… it is, after all a super house – but – what about Brexit, I am asked? Is it too big? Another says…If the house is so great, why are you leaving? …because we want to live in another country and the house won’t fit in the van!
The next estate agent who comes near, will need to leave me a small amount of hair and some black wax …now there is a plot and a half for a series of voodoo inspired murders…
Today I needed the answer to a simple question, so I Googled it. To my horror, umpteen million sites appeared and, before I knew it, it was lunchtime and I had wasted a whole morning and still hadn’t found what I was looking for!
I had, however, found an amazing recipe for Chicken Fricassee, but my heroine can’t cook. I also discovered the shortest route from New York to Tampa, but the book isn’t set in America. The crowning glory is that I now have a total mastery of Manga comics, but my book isn’t illustrated…
Actually, the new book “Until Death” is just over half way. I had hoped to have it finished by Christmas, but now that the distractions of December are on the horizon – that might be a big ask.
You will know, from the article that was in the last 5Ws Magazine, that I am a bit of a worrier. Now, I am worrying about the nitty gritty – I know what happens at the end – and I know how all the characters get there, but do they need to stop off at the supermarket and pick up mince pies on the way.
When you are writing, whether it be as a self-published author or working with an editor through a publishing house, as I do now, it is difficult to keep a clear perspective on the overall book. After months of proofing, rewrites and tweaking, part of the original joy, putting pen to paper, evaporates a little. When a reader takes the time to offer feedback, whether on early less edited books or on new books, whether positive or negative, it is a rewarding experience. To know that someone thought enough of the book to find it worth making a comment is wonderful. Criticisms need to be met with on face value. What is it? Are they right? Do I agree? Can it or should it be changed?
If they praise, was it deserved? Was it a general liking for the subject, the place, the detail, the characters, the plotting, the sub-plot – knowing what it was that triggered a positive response helps, like criticism, to make the next book even better.
Of course a pile of negativity would be very depressing, but I have been lucky, so far, as readers have been kind enough to be positive or encouraging. If you are a voracious reader and have consumed any good or bad books recently, I can guarantee that the authors would appreciate some honest feedback. You don’t have to be cruel, if you don’t like it, but you can offer a reason why it didn’t tick boxes for you. Was it in the wrong genre – should it have been listed as a cozy mystery when you expected a rip-roaring thriller – all these things help the author and their publisher to hone the books and put them in front of the right audience, who in turn will hopefully voice their appreciation with good reviews :-).
Bottom line – if you have read one of my books (latest edit, preferably) and haven’t written a review, please consider doing so. Thanks 🙂
As the third book in the Tale of Murder Series, it was important to make sure that the key elements of the plot did not echo those of the previous two books. This book had to be different and it had to be built from a different perspective. As an author, I was concerned that with the first two books written from a woman’s point of view, I might be boxing myself into a corner. This time I needed a hero – someone who would stand apart from the previous books in terms of location, outlook and expectation. This had to be a man with secrets and he had to live in a world where secrets were common. Hollywood and Beverley Hills seemed an obvious choice of location!
The snag is that my hero’s secret had to be one he would do a lot to keep but not because it would hurt him, more because it might hurt someone he loved. Unfortunately keeping this secret might get her killed – it would certainly cost the lives of at least two people before he works out that HE is the target and maybe more if he cannot work out why…
A lot of the tension is built up by the murderer’s relentless pursuit of his victims. It was important to convey the localities and the tension. Part of establishing tension is to first set the mood of everything being normal.
As Death Pledge (originally Five Must Die) was my first published novel, it took a lot of research to get the feel for the places, people and circumstances that could be used as the setting for the book. The story-line was there, from the start, but where to set an international killer and his activities that could be written about with any authority? As an English writer, the British part of the book was fairly simple and loosely based on places, in Surrey and Hampshire, where I have lived and loved. Hong Kong was also a straightforward choice as a location I have explored and enjoyed and Greece has always felt a home from home.
Again pictures and photos fueled the imagination. Although the first murder takes place in Hongkong / the background to the key characters is England and the UK
First – Guildford – after so many years away, I needed a reminder about the town, shops and people
I am not the first to choose the area around Hambledon in Hampshire as the setting for a story!
The following are a few of the photos used to set the scenes in my mind
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