Tuesday 30 April 2013

Rude Awakening (New 100 Word Story)

A new drabble (100 word story) written by me has been posted in the Indie Bargains newsletter - visit http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk/ to sign up for the daily newsletter of  free and bargain Kindle books.

Rude Awakening

When we die our life passes before our eyes. In an instant we see all our hopes and fears. All of the despair and joy. All of the love and hate that we have ever known.

The balance of that moment weighs our soul as it passes on.

At birth the reverse is true. As we are born, all that we are yet to be swamps our infant mind. The life that stretches before you confuses and terrorises your first thoughts. A mind at peace suddenly torn asunder - is it no wonder that we scream with our first breath?

The Judas Kiss Tour - Guest Post - Strength of Character

Welcome to the blog tour for The Judas Kiss. The tour is celebrating the release of Angella Graff's book 'The Judas Kiss'. She has provided a guest post about how she develop's her characters.

You know, as an editor and book reviewer, I get constant opportunity to experience a lot in the literary world. I get to see a lot of different techniques and worlds. Sometimes I get first peek into a new series, new characters and new creations. It's fantastic, and it's enlightening. It allows me to take things with me into my own writing. It makes me aware of common mistakes in literature, like starting too many sentences with the word And, or But. Making sure that I'm minding my commas and semi-colons. It allows me to see where the market is over-saturated and where there's room to introduce a new idea that people might want to read.

It's also helped in characterization, because some of my biggest literary pet peeves are in the characters themselves. Some authors will build an amazing world. New species and lands, powers and plots, and you think, this is going to be great. This is going to be something new and fantastic.

And then the characters come into play and everything falls apart. The truth is, while books can be your fantasies all played out, your
characters need to have believable flaws. Anyone who knows me knows I like to take Twilight to task. It's not what I consider decent literary fiction. Now, I don't do book-shaming. If you like Twilight, read it proudly, and if you're judged, who cares. But the truth is, Twilight has set the bar for the new wave of fantasy fiction and it's destroying believable characters.

Having a character who occasionally gets muddy and cut up, or a character who is a little bit clumsy, are not character flaws. They're incidents attempting to appear as character flaws in order to try and counter the oh-my-god-so-beautiful-and-perfect-and-shiny woman.

Every other woman is jealous, every man is in love with, and somehow, despite being a self-proclaimed klutz or not that smart, she manages
to be the amazing hero. She can lie on the bed and do nothing for an entire book and yet somehow be the plot's savior. Even in a fantasy
world, characters need to have some flaws. Otherwise, the readers simply cannot connect to that person, because no one is that person, and no one ever will be. It might be a fun little fantasy from time to time, but eventually it gets tired and eventually the reader just wants something to connect to. They want to be inspired by something that might actually happen to them in their lives.

I get a lot of criticism for my character, Ben. Ben is an Atheist, a homicide detective. Frankly, he's a jerk. He doesn't date because he's not really a nice guy, he's a workaholic, and he loves his sister but he thinks everything she stands for is nonsense and he has no respect for it.

Ive gotten emails asking me to kill Ben off. I've gotten emails asking me why he's still fighting the idea of gods and immortals etc. I've gotten emails asking me why Ben can't just let it all go, or why he's such a jerk.

Well, he can't let it go because he's an Atheist. He's devout. He's a seasoned detective who has spent most of his adult life eye-balls deep in the scum of human society. He doesn't believe that there's anything out there like a god, because if there was, people wouldn't act the way they do. He wouldn't be standing in gory, serial-killer crime scenes. He's a jerk because? well? some people are jerks.

Don't get me wrong, Ben grows through the series. By book three, Cry, Nike, Ben doesn't fight the idea of gods. He'll use Mark and Judas's names freely, and he'll call the gods what they are. He doesn't try and rationalize and reason away the strange things he sees. He's willing to take on Nike with a sort of power he doesn't understand.

Doesn't mean he went all perfect-guy on everyone though. It was important to me to keep Ben human. To keep his flaws and his character imperfections. To make readers understand that in life, there are people who are just that way. They can grow and change, but they're human and they're not going to be everything we want them to be.

I created characters, Gods and Immortals, Angels and Demons and they're all flawed. They're all subject to some sort of vice and weakness that humans, can relate to. Things that the reader can stop and say, 'Yeah I've been there,' because even though there's the fantasy element to it, I want people to keep with the books. I want people to read more because they understand these characters and their failings. I want them to understand their triumphs because it's a triumph that is reachable for anyone. Okay, maybe not saving the world from a crazed god, but finding purpose and relationships and connection in your life to beings that are also just as flawed? Yeah, we all do that.

I think writers need to spend more time creating characters that can grow, instead of giving them superficial 'issues' that clears up with a pair of skinny jeans and a halter top, or rippling muscles and long, flowing hair. Writers need to spend more time finding the things that are beautiful in reality and using that in their fantasy. It's best that we don't forget that our lives, even ordinary, 'boring' lives, can be just as beautiful and fulfilling as any fantasy novel out there.

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About Angella Graff

Angella Graff was born and raised in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona. She married and became a mother very young, and after getting started with her family, began her University studies where she found her passion for creative writing, history and theology.

She now resides in Tucson with her husband Joshua, three children, Christian, Isabella and Adia, and their three cats, Archive (Ivy), Lasciel and Fix. She prefers to spend her days writing, gardening, and reading non-fiction theology theory books. Angella is also an avid, if not fanatic fan of Doctor Who and BBC Sherlock, which tend to dominate her dry, sarcastic humor, a lot of which is apparent in her writing.

Currently Angella is working on an Urban Fantasy series called The Judas Curse, involving extensive research into Mythos, Christianity and history. The first book of The Judas Curse, The Awakening, was released November 2012.

For more information, visit Angella’s website, Amazon page and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about the author and her work visit our author showcase and In a Nutshell interview

The Judas Kiss

Judas’ Kiss haunts him 2 millenia into his unending existence. Torn between petty gods and their hunger for power, a faithless police officer slips further into machinations that have already cost the life of someone he loved. Mark’s story finally begins to unfold in the newest volume of Angella Graff’s well received series: The Judas Curse.

Just as Detective Ben Stanford is ready to put the past at rest, he’s pulled down once again into the chaos of gods, theology, and mystery. Told that his sister is alive and the two immortals, Mark and Judas, have been kidnapped by the treacherous goddess, Nike, Ben must find a way to rescue the pair before she can harness their powers.

While Mark waits alone, forced to write out the story of how their powers came to be, and Judas lay tortured by the angry Goddess, a reluctant Ben must enlist the help of an unwilling being from the ancient Norse Pantheon.

Time is ticking, and the hard-headed detective must use everything he learned in the past to prevent another disaster, which could potentially wipe-out the human race.

Monday 29 April 2013

Last Chance to Win a Signed Copy of 'Conversations in the Abyss'

Tomorrow is the last day in the Goodreads giveaway, you can enter for free via the link below:


Guest Author Interview - James Forrest

We start the new week by meeting James Forrest in today's new guest author interview.

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Well first, thanks for interviewing me Michael. My name is James Forrest, and I’ve recently published my first book on Kindle, entitled Fragments. It’s a book of stories, some long and some short, many of them pieces of things I’ve been working on for a while, hence the title. I’m in digital publishing, doing magazines and stuff. I keep a pretty regular blog on Scottish football, “On Fields of Green”, and myself and my editorial team are working on a book right now about the long, crazy year in the Scottish game that was Feb 2012 – Feb 2013. As of today (Feb 25 2013), I’m editing my first novel, with a view to publishing it shortly, and I’m working on my second.

What first inspired you to start writing?
That’s a good question! I’ve always like to read, and I’ve been writing since I was a kid; literally. I wrote my first ever fictional piece when I was in Primary School, so I’m told, about a wee boy who finds an alien spider on his window … and I’ve been writing ever since.

Who is your favourite author and why?
I worship Thomas Harris. Harris has a style of writing I admire enormously, an almost poetic style. He understands his characters brilliantly. He has created one of literature’s greatest heroes, in Clarice Starling, as well as one of its great monsters in Hannibal Lector. It would have been easy for Harris to have written one dimensional characters. Hell, most other writers do just that. But he didn’t. Starling is flawed, even broken. She has great integrity, but no respect for authority. Lector’s brilliance does not detract from what he is. Most vitally, Harris makes us sympathise with Lector by the way he contrasts him with the other monsters of the books. He gives us evil so profound you end up seeing Lector as a positive force, in some ways. This too is a standard technique … but Harris has one last card to play; he makes his monster’s sympathetic too …. Francis Dolarhyde is a wonderful creation, because he hates and fears his dark half; Jame Gumb’s self-loathing is so profound he’s spent a lifetime trying to be something else, and in Hannibal, which is a magnificent work, you have the monster in the bed, Mason Verger, who drinks martinis made with the tears of children he’s terrorised, who aims to have Lector eaten by pigs … but who himself is a victim of the Dr’s own appalling proclivities. And he, in turn, is almost overshadowed by the amoral Paul Krendler. Harris is incredible at that. He creates characters so vivid and real it’s breath-taking.

What is your favourite song lyric?
Great question! I’m a big music fan, and I believe the best musicians are, in some way, storytellers. I love Dylan’s brilliant lyrics, and I love The Rolling Stones, who’s lyrics are often seriously under-rated and missed because of the genius of the music and I think country music tells some amazing stories; Kenny Chesney in particular is evocative and brilliant. But Springsteen reigns supreme. His work is masterful. A storyteller par excellance. I mean, take Brilliant Disguise. What a wonderful song, in every way. “So when you look at me, you better look hard and look twice, is that me baby, or just a brilliant disguise?” I love those lines. If I had to pick a favourite lyric – if I had to – it would probably be from one of his recent tracks, the song “You’ll Be Coming Down.” I love that song. It appeals to me for a number of reasons. I like the notion that all glory is fleeting, that those who are on top won’t be there forever. The verse I find most evocative is this one; Easy street, a quick buck and true lies, Smiles as thin as those dusky blue skies, A silver plate of pearls my golden child, It's all yours at least for a little while. You'll be fine long as your pretty face holds out, Then it's gonna get pretty cold out. An empty stream of stars shooting by, You got your hopes on high. I just love that.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Everything. Full stop. I love the moment when something I write hits someone, and resonates. There’s nothing like it in the world. But it’s the simple act of sitting in front of the keyboard, and looking at the blank page. I hate to say it out loud – it sounds pretentious beyond belief – but writing is as close as we mere mortals get to being God. That blank page is nothingness, it’s a universe waiting to be created, and the act of writing is building that universe one brick at a time. I like to tell the story about how there was an American writer who created one of the most vivid characters in all of fiction; a young, vibrant, bright, sensitive young woman. He gave her a job, and a life, and a man she loved. Then he challenged her with a moral dilemma. He gave her a chance to steal a large sum of money, and she took it. She went on the run. And on her second night of running, as she was beginning to think about pulling her life back together, she spent a night in an old off-road motel … where the proprietor murdered her. Robert Bloch must have felt superb creating Marianne Crane. Especially as she was only a vehicle through which he introduced us to Norman Bates! I have always wished I’d read that book before seeing the film … I had a similar “OMFG” reaction to a scene in A Storm of Swords. That’s what I love most about writing … creating the world and then doing to it whatever the Hell I want …

And the least?
Editing! Uuugh! I hate editing with a passion. Soul destroying stuff.

What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
Ha! Welcome to the party! I am one myself! You know what though? I’d tell them to believe. Believe in what they’ve got. Don’t waste time reading all those How To Write A Bestseller books. Sit down and start writing. I’d tell them to read The Lord of The Rings. I’d tell them to read Silence of the Lambs. I’d tell them to read The Runaway Jury. Story. Story. Story. It’s everything, and if you can spin a good yarn, tell a good tale, you’ll be forgiven for a multitude of other sins. I think a lot about how Tolkien ignored every convention in the writing of the Lord of the Rings, and it’s still one of the finest pieces of literature of all time. The hacks don’t know. The critics know even less. Story is everything, and if you’ve got that you’ve got the stuff. Believe it.

What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m editing my first novel, which has been finished for about five years and was allowed to rot until now. It reads a lot better than I’d thought … and that important thing, Story, is definitely there. No doubt. What’s much more fun is that I’m presently writing my second novel, which is about a bio-terrorism attack on Glasgow. Glasgow, my home town, is my favourite city in the world and I very much want to give it the mythology it lacks. It’s fantastic being able to write about familiar places, in unfamiliar circumstances. Two chapters of the novel are in Fragments, my book, and in the second of them, A Civilian’s Story, I gave my brother in law the death scene he wanted, at the location of his choosing … but in a different way than he ever expected!

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
Well, Fragments is available on Amazon Kindle just now, and there’s my football blog “On Fields of Green”, as well as the Facebook page for my book at:


And with that I’ll bid you farewell and thanks for letting me ramble!

Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK)

Thanks to James for sharing his thoughts with us, on Wednesday we welcome SKN Hammerstone to the hot seat.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Jonathan Hill has Posted a Review of The Cult of Me on his Blog

Jonathan Hill has posted a wonderful review of 'The Cult of Me' on his blog:


Thanks Jonathan!

Guest Post - Where Did The Idea For Your Book Come From?

Guest post by Joleene Naylor

“Where did the idea for your book come from?” That’s one of the most common author interview questions, and it’s one that I find the hardest to answer. Where do the ideas come from? They come from a multitude of places, all mashed together and percolated into a mushy mess.

For instance in my latest book, Heart of the Raven, there are at least ten places I could site as inspiration for nearly everything. For example, the newest character to join my vampire troupe is Maeko, a fourteen year old vampire girl who carries around dolls dressed in outfits identical to her own. She is accompanied/attended by two male servants who are in their late twenties, and a teen boy she’s waiting to turn when he is “old enough”. 

So where did the inspiration for Maeko come from? I have a “japan fetish”, if you will, so I knew I wanted my characters to eventually go to Japan. Maeko’s history is a mixture of necessity (to give them a reason to be there) formed around a framework of real history I ran into accidentally in a documentary I saw on Netflix. (I then had to do more research, but that’s beside the point.) And drizzled with the frosting of a tidbit I ran into on the web that stated how new vampire mythology was to their culture.

What about the dolls? When I was initially touring the web looking for information on Japan – the everyday kind of things you’d know if you were actually there – I found a cool website run by a guy who takes a lot of pictures of his two pose-able fashion dolls. I thought “wouldn’t that be fun to have Maeko carry dolls around all the time? She could dress them like herself and treat them as though they were real people. Fun and creepy, all at the same time!” (The use of dolls in a creepy contrast is inspired by old VC Andrews novels).

What about Maeko’s attendants? The thought is round about based on Haji from the anime Blood +. Haji is this lovely man who is the long suffering and completely devoted servant to what is essentially a vampire girl. (It’s more complicated than that, but it will do for this explanation) and I thought “Maeko needs a Haji!” This led to the question of just how close was she to her attendants and so, based on a combination of Claudia from Interview with a Vampire and other similar things, I decided that even if Maeko was fourteen on the outside, she was really a couple hundred years old, so her relationship with her attendants might be a little more risqué. 

I could go on and talk about her house, or her clothes, or the clan she’s part of, but I think you see what I mean. I’ve always believed that if you worry about the little things, the big things will take care of themselves, and with that method there are so many little inspirations that work together to create the whole, that I find “what inspired you?” to be impossible to answer, except by saying, “Everything.”

So, what inspired my latest book?


Oh, and anime.

Joleene is the author of  'Heart of the Raven', the latest book in her Amaranthine series:

A myth with the power to destroy the world…

Katelina has barely recovered from the chaos of Malick’s revolt, yet she and Jorick must go to Munich to testify before the True Council. All hopes of a vacation are dashed when they ‘re assigned an entourage that includes Verchiel, a vampire Katelina never wants to see again.

Her hatred is forgotten when Malick and his henchmen penetrate the stronghold in Munich. Jorick hijacks the trip and diverts them on a quest to reclaim the Heart of the Raven. Said to be the disembodied heart of Lilith, the relic may be more reality than myth, and if it falls into the wrong hands it could have disastrous consequences for the world. Can they reach its hiding place before Malick?

The fifth installment of the Amaranthine series sees Jorick and Katelina draw closer as they surround themselves with their own miniature army and try to outwit the machinations of the ancient master. Katelina grows stronger and learns to stand on her own because there’s no room for the fainthearted in a world where darkness is eternal and the night tastes like blood.

Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK)

Book Impressions - The Scarlet Tessera by Julian Lorr

This is a pretty good story about the hunt for a serial killer in London who has returned after a 19 year absence. I enjoyed the story, although I would have liked a bit more of the killer's back story. The investigation is well paced, with the required twists and turns along the way.

The writing is good and pulls you through the story. The killer has a few good tricks up his sleeve that keeps things lively. All in all it was a good read.

In the heat of the city summer, London’s Underground system is brought to a halt by a trail of bodies carrying the unmistakeable mutilations of The Circle Line Killer - a notorious serial killer responsible for a chain of murders nineteen years ealier. A killer who was never caught. DCI Claire McMullen, part of the original team that failed to catch the killer first time round, heads up the investigation to bring to justice the man she so narrowly missed last time, teaming up with Detective Inspector Joseph Webber, a respected Metropolitan officer recovering from a deep and traumatic personal loss. The only woman who holds the key to bringing the killer to justice is his last surviving victim – long since released from the Witness Protection scheme that had once shielded her. In the scramble to locate and protect her, the investigating officers are led inexorably toward personal and professional suicide in a dangerous game of cat and mouse born of mirrors, bible codes, deception and horror.

Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK)

Friday 26 April 2013

Character Study (New 100 Word Story)

A new drabble (100 word story) written by me has been posted in the Indie Bargains newsletter - visit http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk/ to sign up for the daily newsletter of  free and bargain Kindle books.

Character Study

Things aren't always what they seem. Look at that old man over there. He doesn't look like much, his back bowed under the weight of his years. His skin wrinkled and stretched across his bones.

But look closer, into his eyes.

Those aren't the eyes of an old man. No, there is something much older concealed beneath. The pin pricks of the deepest black reveal an evil beyond human imagining.

It wears the aged flesh like a cheap suit. A disguise that cloaks it while it hunts unseen amongst the human herd.

Too late I realise, it's looking at me.

Guest Author Interview - Carl T Smith

We finish the week by meeting Carl T Smith in today's guest author interview.

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I am Carl T. Smith. I am an author of five books in the literary suspense category with a background in theatre and music. My novel Lowcountry Boil won the Suspense Award from the International Independent Publishers Awards, was nominated for The Southern Critic’s Circle Award for “Book of the Year” and the SIBA “Book of the Year”. Louisiana Burn received the same accolades. My books have been endorsed by Pat Conroy, Steve Berry, Carolyn Hart and others.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I think it came naturally; however, my college roommate, Tom Robbins (“Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”) had the most to do with it, as well as college bud, Bernard Martin, an internationally-known painter, who designed covers for Robbins’ Skinny Legs and All and my book, Nothin’ Left to Lose. Pat Conroy and Les Standiford have been huge encouragers.

Who is your favourite author?
My favorite author is difficult to choose. Greg Iles and James Lee Burke come to mind first, and they have had a great influence. In addition to Conroy, of course. All three of them have great lyrical qualities, which I have tried to emulate. They also write character-driven books as do I.

If you could write anybody's biography, whose would it be?
Write someone’s biography? Wow! Maybe James Lee Burke. We have a lot in common in interest, and personal background. It would be exciting to investigate where his style and philosophy developed. And, I love New Iberia and the Cajun country. (See Louisiana Burn).

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Without a doubt, I love to see characters develop, despite the fact that they don’t always develop or act the way I anticipate. That is the most stimulating element. Not knowing. Many of my characters do things that would seem uncharacteristic of them, but don’t we all? I really enjoy getting inside their heads and emotions.

And the least
What I enjoy least. Hitting a wall. Not writer’s block, just not knowing where to go with a thread of the story. Sometimes it has required me to eliminate a character that I love, who doesn’t move the story forward. That and facing a question that doesn’t have an answer. Otherwise, I enjoy all aspects of the process except the “business” end. I miss the book tours with books presently being electronically promoted as much as they are.

What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
My advice? Read. And write. I think beginning writers should try to develop a cadre of friends that are not writers. Writers are acceptable as well, but don’t limit oneself to those only. Observe people as if you were playing a role and needed a character model. Find a couple of people whose opinion regarding reading material you respect and ask them to read your work. In whole or in pieces. We all need validation and encouragement. And most important: Don’t get discouraged by rejection. Lowcountry Boil has sold in the neighborhood of sixty thousand copies and it was refused by agents and publishers forty-eight times. Conroy once told me, “Carl, there are better books than those written by Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald in a drawer somewhere, because the author couldn’t face another rejection.” I believed him.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am writing what I would call a “Big Book”. By that, I don’t mean in length or scope, but “big” in the sense of complexity. Most of my books have some basis in fact even though they are fiction. Would you believe “Faction”? Terry Kay once told me, “Don’t write the books in you; write the books around you. All you have to do is look and listen.” The present work, as yet untitled, involves some areas in which I have had to do quite a bit of research. I don’t write a lot of minutia, so it’s not overwhelming, but I do want to be accurate. Hopefully, it will be out late spring or early summer.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
The present work, set again in the lowcountry of South Carolina, revolves around the investigation—by a psychiatrist who is fascinated by puzzles—of the unsolved disappearance of two people and the suicide of a third. It has a wonderful cast of characters including the psychiatrist, her assistant who is a writer on hiatus, a retired police detective, who is reminiscent of Christopher Plummer in attitude and demeanor, and a married couple who are tech geniuses. Every character is as diverse as one can imagine. I will be giving updates on my website: www.carltsmith.com and my blog: Carl T. Smith Blog and on Face Book and Twitter. I welcome “friends” and “Followers”.

Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK)

 Thanks to Carl for sharing his thoughts with us, on Monday James Forrest takes his turn in the hot seat.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Guest Author Interview - Rita Lee Chapman

Welcome to the latest guest author interview, today we meet Rita Lee Chapman:

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Hi, I'm Rita Chapman and I write under the pen-name Rita Lee Chapman, as there is already a Rita Chapman writing vampire books. I'm an Australian, living in sunny Queensland and I wrote my first book Missing in Egypt when I retired.

What first inspired you to start writing?
In primary school I wrote long essays but I didn't get around to writing seriously until I retired, when I was looking for a hobby.

What gets you in the mood for writing?

If you could work with any author, who would it be?
The late Bryce Courtney.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Finishing the outline! I'm always relieved when the storyline is complete.

And the least?
Editing! Boring, boring.

What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
Finish that book! You can do it. Then, if you are self-publishing, edit, edit, edit.

What are you working on at the moment?
I've just finished writing Winston - A Horse's Tale and I'm doing what is hopefully the last edit. It is the life story of an Australian horse, told by Winston himself. From his birth on a large property to his breaking in and first owner, he tells of his different homes and owners. Each rider requires something different from him. Winston experiences gymkhanas, show jumping, eventing, hunting, always giving his best. He tells of his successes and failures, his relationships with his owners and relates tales of other horses he meets along life's way. It is definitely one for horse lovers and will be released soon.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
Missing in Egypt is a romantic travel mystery. Anna Davis, working for an Australian MP, is approached by a constituent regarding his brother, who is missing in Egypt. Anna falls in love with Kareem and travels to Egypt to assist him in his search for Ramy. As the mystery of Ramy's disappearance unravels Anna experiences adventure, grief and betrayal. The storyline includes vivid descriptions of Egyptian sites and temples as well as several different twists and turns.

It is available from Amazon as a paperback ($9.99) or ebook ($2.99)

Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK)

It is also available as an ebook from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/263417

My Goodreads' author page is:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5834608.Rita_Lee_Chapman

Thanks to Rita for sharing her thoughts with us, on Friday Carl T Smith takes his turn in the hot seat.

Monday 22 April 2013

The Cult of Me Now Available From iTunes

I'm pleased to announce that The Cult of Me is now available from iTunes:

The first book in 'The Third Path' trilogy.
For years he dwelt apart. With his unique ability he invades and destroys their lives. Now, bored of the game he decides to enact a bloody last stand, but while preparing his plan in prison he discovers he's not as unique as he once thought.

Buy now from iTunes (US) | Buy now from iTunes (UK)

Guest Author Interview - Nicolas Wilson

Welcome to the start of a new week! Today Nicolas Wilson joins us for the guest author interview:

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I'm Nicolas Wilson, a novelist. I've also dabbled in journalism, short stories, and comics. More to the point, I'm a storyteller.

What first inspired you to start writing?
My writing really grew out of a crappy adolescence. I was always quiet and pretty solitary, but I changed schools and lost most of the few friends I had, and my parents started having troubles that eventually culminated in a pretty messed up divorce. Writing started for me as a handful of middle school writing assignments that really seized my imagination. In retrospect, I think they provided an escape from a life I wasn’t happy in at the time. It became a passion for me; it’s hard to beat the pure joy of learning new things and toying with strange ideas.

You're a journalist as well as an author, how much does that influence your writing?
Spending so much time listening to others talk certainly gives a writer a leg up on dialogue. I got to interview a few of my personal heroes during my time writing for Dangerous Ink, and it also taught me that sometimes they are even better in real life. (Adam West, I mean you- despite being relatively young, I do not have enough lifetime left to heap praise on that guy). The rest of the time, they ruin your enjoyment of their work. But no one’s perfect, right? It's certainly forced me to look at people with realism, even if I'm accustomed to viewing them on a pedestal.

On a technical level, journalism is very focused and to the point. It sort of prepared me for the minimalistic style I adopted, one I came to from Didion by way of Palahniuk.

Where do your best ideas come from?
Research. So many of my best ideas are bouncing off of oddly tangential new technologies or political events. Sometimes it’s just a snippet of an interview on NPR.

I often see an idea, or the kernel of one, in somebody else’s story, when I say, “God, I would have done something entirely different with that” and find the idea so intoxicating that I’m compelled to put it someplace.
My sources are pretty much all over the road, but the future fascinates me. Where we’re going. How we’ll get there. And how we’ll treat each other along the way.

What is your favourite book and why?
My favorite single book is probably still Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It’s just such a fun and funny book. I grin just thinking about it.

But truthfully, I attach to authors, more than stories. There's a few authors who have a distinctive voice that captivates me. Lovecraft, Poe, Garth Ennis-schizophrenic choices, I know. I grew up with comics, and love series' like Transmetropolitan, Punisher MAX, Preacher. Stuff with a hefty dose of the macabre, the absurd, occurring in fantastically strange, tragic, but oddly beautiful worlds.

Are you a planner? Or do you prefer to dive straight into writing?
Planner. Definitely. I've done some free-form stuff, but for the most part, I keep detailed outlines for every possible-project. I can keep those for months or years before I have time to write it, but that way, I can easily see what had entertained me in the original concept. I keep a detailed spreadsheet of my word counts, goals, etc. The last time someone commented on that spreadsheet, it was to say "that is the sign of a very lonely man." Well, to be fair, her original response wasn't that clean. She actually said, "You obviously aren't getting laid enough." More to the point, though, I have a hilariously bad memory, and I'd never get anything done if I didn't have my notes. By the time I get to the end of a project, I barely remember beginning it. I bet if you asked me a few trivia questions about any of my novels or short stories, I'd have a difficult time answering them at all.

What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
Set some moderate, repetitive goals, and stick to them. I wrote short stories to be finished every Friday night for five years, even while working full time (and sometimes more than), and going to college (some of that also full time). But every Friday I made sure I had something, even if it was just a small, few hundred word essay, ready to put out. It kept me working, through tragedies and oddities that might well have otherwise derailed what is kind of a fragile balancing act to keep going. And it let me hone my abilities and discover my voice, as a writer, before I even flirted with writing a novel.

But it’s also important to pace yourself as a writer. Be very clear about what you want out of your writing, and how you can get there. Even if you can only focus on writing an hour or two a week. Your day job, family, social network, the rest of the time may give you a greater diversity of experiences to pull from, as well as distracting you during the inevitable periods of writer’s block, but so long as you can set aside that time, you’re set. Because if you can set that boundary and stick to it, you can always alter it to fit your emerging needs, whether it’s expanding your output over the summer to finish a series of essays, or putting everything else on hold in November to participate in National Novel Writing Month and finally get that novel out of your head.

And that balance between goals and boundaries is key. I've encountered a lot of freelance creatives, not just writers, who burn themselves out, because they chose to invest all of their energy and hopes in their passion, when they hadn't built that dream up as an organic part of their lives. They aren't prepared for the massive scramble that is freelance work: sending off manuscript after manuscript, working hard on an article only to see an editor cut it, balancing the actual work with the structural work, like marketing, self-promotion. It's a lot to handle, and you need to explore how you'll handle it before said handling will determine whether you can pay rent that month. I spent years publishing my stories on my blog, but feeling like a spoken-word artist performing to an empty bar, because I did literally no self-promotion for my work. Time well spent, since some of that early stuff really is the evolutionary first-fish-to-breathe-air. Not pretty, not efficient, but a starting point.

What are you working on at the moment?
At this exact moment, I'm finishing the conclusion to Lunacy, a claustrophobic tale about a manned Mars mission that goes sideways because in the weeks leading up to the launch a crewmember is bitten by a werewolf. Everyone laughs when I tell them that, but the story is really like the first Alien movie, if everything the Alien killed spawned another alien.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
Whores, my first work, is sort of like a paramilitary Handmaid’s Tale. It’s about a group of women thrown together through adversity and oppression, who become guerrilla freedom fighters in a society of populated largely with hostile thugs and apathetic bureaucrats.

I feel like I'm running a bit behind, since I published Whores last year, so I'm prioritizing publishing things that are already basically written. I’m putting together collections from those short stories I mentioned earlier, cleaned up and reedited. And I have several novels that are several drafts done and just about ready for a paying public, so starting with Dag, April 22nd, I hope to start releasing some of those.

My second novel, Dag, is about a sarcastic Department of Agriculture employee who has a chance run-in with a farmer covered in toxic chemicals, and walks away with a genetically modified baby, along with the seeds of a military-industrial conspiracy. Dagney and her makeshift family scramble to stay ahead of artificial soldiers and megalomaniacal businessmen long enough to reap the truths behind an international web of corruption and intrigue.

Dag will be 50% off, in honor of Earth Day (April 22nd), and will keep that price through the end of Arbor Day(April 26th). Visit goodreads for a preview sampler with several short stories, including the one that later became chapter 1.

It's available here, through the "read book" tab.


I’ll summarize the other coming soons briefly:

Nexus: follows a generational ark spaceship filled with people who will never again see their home world. It's about how they handle internal conflicts as they grapple with their independence, their isolation, and their sponsor's interests, while bargaining with new species for mining rights. Tentatively due July 2013.

The Necromancer's Gambit: A group of magicians based in Portland, Oregon tries to maintain order in the face of a series of murders, and a challenge to the societal authority. Tentatively due September 2013.
Banksters: A sociopath climbs the corporate ladder.Tentatively due November 2013.

Homeless: A scourge makes every building on the planet uninhabitable, and we see how weak the fabric of society really is.

The Singularity: A physicist investigates a temporal distortion, and how it might be related to a football player's progressive dementia at a remote rehab clinic on the Oregon coast.

I'm also planning on writing sequels to Nexus and The Necromancer's Gambit, probably for release in 2014. Both of them ended with unresolved tensions that I would like to immerse myself in further: Nexus saw a mutiny, and the Gambit saw a number of little-fish tossed back to catch the big one. Threats abound, and there's a lot of people pissed off at the putative heroes of the story.

You can follow along with my work several ways. Archives of earlier work, including short stories, and first-drafts of some of the novels are available on my website.
News relating these upcoming releases is also available through my facebook, and goodreads. Come say hi!


Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK)

Thanks to Nicolas for sharing his thoughts with us, on Wednesday we invite Rita Lee Chapman to the hot seat.

The Cult of Me Now Available From Barnes & Noble

The Cult of Me is now available from Barnes & Noble.

Buy now from Barnes & Noble

The first book in 'The Third Path' trilogy.

For years he dwelt apart. With his unique ability he invades and destroys their lives. Now, bored of the game he decides to enact a bloody last stand, but while preparing his plan in prison he discovers he's not as unique as he once thought.

Buy now from Barnes & Noble

Book Impressions - The Clearing by Thomas Rydder

It's been a while since I last read a werewolf story and this was a good one. I was pleased to see that it didn't try and explain the existence of werewolves, it just got on with the story. Although it did provide some historical context which helped reinforce the ancient evil.

Another aspect I liked was that the characters just got on with it. In that regard it reminded me of Dog Soldiers (one of my favourite werewolf films). They freaked out (as you would), but got on with the job.

The writing is good and the story is well paced, pulling you along until the last page.

There is apparently a sequel on its way, which is good news as this was an excellent read.

After twenty years in the Marine Corps, Major Frank Cutlip comes home to the quiet hills of his beloved Pennsylvania to take up a new life as the sheriff of Allegheny County.

Professor Beth Lowe took up a post at Paxton University because she became enamored with western Pennsylvania’s charms, a more enduring love than she thought she would ever feel for a man.

When Beth’s dog is savaged by wolves, their peaceful lives are shattered, and their fates entwined. On the brink of death, the dog not only survives but grows larger… and more vicious. A thousand-year cycle of carnage is reaching its climax once more, and the peaceful wooded hills will soon be smeared with blood. 

Sheriff Cutlip leads his community in a hunt for the hidden terror, but then his own brother is bitten, his blood corrupted by the ancient evil. The sheriff must confront terrible choices, and he can’t do so alone

The Clearing — a novel of ordinary people thrown together in extraordinary circumstances

Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK)

Sunday 21 April 2013

Faust 2.0 - Coming Soon!

My next book 'Faust 2.0' will be coming out soon...

The Internet witnesses the emergence of a new entity.

Is it the rebirth of an ancient evil in a new realm? Or something more dangerous?
A sexy looking avatar is granting wishes for people across the Internet. But nothing is ever truly free and for those accepting the gifts a terrible price must be paid.

Sarah Mitchell must learn the truth of this creature and stop it while it can still be stopped. She must also find out why a mysterious lawyer is present at every step.

Faust 2.0 is the first book in the new Mitchell & Morton series.

Guest Post- Rewriting - Do I Really Have To?

REWRITING – Do I Really Have to?
by Ruth Francisco

Well, yeah!!!  Your first draft is a get-it-all-out-on-page deal.  Now you want to make it sing.  So, where do you start? 

I do a LOT of rewriting for my books, and spend more time rewriting than the initial draft.  It always is difficult.  So I've been trying to put together some notes to help myself and others.  

Before Rewriting

-Set it aside for a month.  Time is hugely important for getting perspective.  While you purposefully ignore that stack of paper on your desk, start something else.  Or  read nonfiction books that relate to your story.  They might give you insight--how to bring reality and depth to your story, or solve some plot problem.  

-Get ONE person you trust to read it, a CRITICAL reader, an author, professional, or teacher (not your mother or best friend).  Ask them to give you specific notes.  Do not give it to lots of people.  Do not send it to your agent or publisher.

-Tell your ENTIRE book (use your outline) to a number of people.  If you skip parts, maybe you don't need them.  If the action suddenly seems unrealistic, you'll see it.  You're looking for dramatic flow here.  A story that hangs together.

-Understand what your book is about.  Realize themes.  (Never write first draft even remotely aware of your theme.  Concentrate only on telling your story.)  Think how these themes can be enhanced through language and symbols throughout book.  How setting can be used to enhance theme.

My book Primal Wound is about the necessity of self exploration and self discovery.  Of the dangers of repressing the true self, and the violence in self-discovery if long-repressed through deceit.  Symbols used are things that are beautiful at first glance, but  treacherous—a bog, wild animals, poisonous flowers.  The protagonist searches for herself in a dark, primeval forest.

Begin Rewrite

-Accept that you may have to throw out whatever you think is your most beautiful prose, or whatever you worked the hardest on.  Nothing is sacred.  Do not rewrite just so you can use that part you like so much.  Throw it out.

-Reread book.  Read as a reader and take notes about what is not working, what can be strengthened.  Be honest and critical.  Highlight anything that seems artificial or bogus.  (You probably threw it in to advance your plot.  Find a better way to do it.)

-Review notes from your CRITICAL reader.  See if your assessments match.  Use what works.

-Read the book many times over, each time looking for different things.  Reread for pacing and dramatic tension.  Reread for each character (reading only the chapters they're in).  Reread for language.  Reread for end of chapters (make sure they make the reader want to continue reading).  Take one or two chapters and end in middle where dramatic intensity can be heightened (cliff hangers—cliché, but effective.)  Reread for beginnings of chapters (do they grab you?).

-Review for the following:
- Are the characters realistic, unique, and enigmatic, without being overdrawn (too much bothersome detail)?
- Does the story have unexpected twists and turns?  Are there surprising reversals?
- Do your characters have a balance between strength and vulnerability?  Are they a mix of contradictions, like real people?
- Are your characters complex?  Is their backstory revealed slowly?  Does their backstory suddenly explain previous actions which didn't quite make sense?  Backstory is vital but tricky, an important element to work on in a rewrite.
- Is there enough detail to engage the imagination, but not so much as to fatigue reader?
- Is the dialogue intelligent and realistic?  Does it either advance the plot, reveal character, or reveal secrets?
- Are your historical details well-researched?  Do they enhance the experience without distracting from the story?
- Do you use humor to reveal character, or perk up dull but necessary exposition?  To show characters avoiding or postponing confrontation?

-Set aside at least an entire week or two to rewrite first 50 pages.  Make it sing.  Many times you may find that you can dispense with the first chapter of your initial draft, using it as backstory, interspersed in later chapters (usually in the first third of your novel).  Engage the reader immediately in action/drama.  Spend most of your time on the first 50 pages.   

-Take each major scene.  Does it have a dramatic arc?  Would it work on stage?  See if you can start scenes in the middle, then backtrack—in the middle of an argument, then show how they got there.

-Dialogue.  Make conversations where reader has to guess what’s going on.  Drama comes from miscommunication.  Start some chapters with dialogue to change things up.

-Plant curious, unexplained events or things that are revealed in later chapters.  So the reader has “ah-ha” moments.

-READ OUT LOUD from a hard copy.  This is very important.  It is the only way to make your prose sings.  Work on sentence structure and style.  Make sure your language doesn't make the reader stumble.  (Obscure words are fabulous, but the context should be there so the reader does not have to run to the dictionary.)  

-After you've worked on the rewrite for a while, and feel it's ready, set the book aside for a week.  Then sit down and read as a reader.  Be honest with your reaction when you finish.  When you finish a good short story, you get a kick in the chest, a “Whoof”.  After reading a novel, you should feel emotionally drained, yet part of you says, “I want to read that again”.  

-Final step.  Have your Kindle read the book to you as you proof against the manuscript on your computer.  You will find dropped words and awkward sentences that you missed.  Get someone else (a copy editor or smart friend) to read it for punctuation, grammar, spelling, word usage.

-Now send out manuscript to agent and up to a dozen friends, readers, experts.  Get reactions.  Rewrite if necessary.  Proof again.  

-Congratulations.  You are done—until your editor reads it!

About Ruth Francisco:

Ruth Francisco worked in the film industry for 15 years before selling her first novel “Confessions of a Deathmaiden” to Warner Books in 2003, followed by “Good Morning, Darkness,” which was selected by Publishers’ Weekly as one of the ten best mysteries of 2004, and “The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.”  She now has nine novels, including the best-seller “Amsterdam 2012,” published as an ebook. She is a frequent contributor to The Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and currently lives in Florida.

Ruth is also the author of 'Camp Sunshine', find out more below:

As the United States enters World War II, military commanders send their best officers to set up an amphibious training camp on Florida's desolate Gulf coast. Major Occam Goodwin anticipates challenges—swamps, snakes, alligators, hurricanes—and the daunting task of turning twenty thousand green recruits into warriors. But when his surveyors discover a murdered black family deep in the forest, he must dance delicately around military politics, and a race war that threatens the entire war effort.

Here, in this harsh but mystically beautiful land, young recruits test themselves to the limit in love and combat; politicos and tycoons offer aid with one eye to profit; women patrol the coast on horseback, looking for German subs; a postmaster's daughter, the only child on base, inspires thousands; a determined woman bravely holds together her family and the emotional soul of the camp. Amid tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the soldiers and their country hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to find his destiny. 

Based on the true story of Camp Gordon Johnston, this novel is about young men on the brink of war, and a country on the brink of civil rights, a tale of soldiers and officers, daughters and mothers, death and redemption, and a man unyielding in his integrity, compassion, and struggle for justice.

Saturday 20 April 2013

One More Breath (New 100 Word Story)

A new drabble (100 word story) written by me has been posted in the Indie Bargains newsletter - visit http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk/ to sign up for the daily newsletter of  free and bargain Kindle books.

One More Breath

It doesn't matter how tough you are. There will always come the point where your body has no choice but to breathe. Of course you'll swallow a lungful of water. The body will react and attempt to expel the water.

Your thrashing will take on a distinctive frenzy when this happens. Now an amateur would panic and pull you out. But patience, that is the key. Soon you will calm and swallow more water by choice, at peace with your fate.

Only then are you pulled out and learn that you might have accepted your death, but you'll talk anyway.

Friday 19 April 2013

Book Impressions - Devil Inside by Brandy Issacs

Devil Inside is a vampire story with a difference. In some ways it follows the modern trend for lots of sex, but it does at least keep the violence in there as well. The vampire legend is a little different in this story and works well in the world that it creates.

The main downer for me was the main character, I found her hard to empathise with, but she did do what was needed to keep the story going. In many ways she felt shallow and not enough was done with the duality of her condition. Still the story works well for the most part and the writing itself is pretty good, although could have done with a few more tweaks..

Overall it's an entertaining book and if you enjoy your vampires then this is well worth a read. It also sets up what I assume to be a series nicely.

"For every light there is a dark."

Harley Finn had never had an easy life. Despite having a difficult childhood, she has worked hard to create a safe and comfortable life for herself. Harley does her best to enjoy her simple, mundane life. But after a random hook-up her life will never be the same

At first Levi Bonham seems like the ideal, no-strings-attached kind of guy, but Harley soon realizes that he is as dangerous as he is enticing. Harley’s connection to Levi leads to disastrous consequences. Suddenly, Harley finds herself plunged into a world plagued by creatures that prey on human suffering and misery. 

Reeling from tragedy, Harley must confront her own demons to save herself and those she loves the most. Her desire for revenge collides with a centuries old war waged at humanity’s expense. Harley must decide if she is willing to put aside her vendetta and risk her own humanity for the sake mankind.

Currently available on Amazon e-book.

Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK)

Guest Author Interview - Martin Hill

Martin Hill joins us for today's guest author interview, read what he has to say below:

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Hi, I’m Martin Roy Hill. I’m the author of two books, “Duty: Suspense and Mystery Stories from the Cold War and Beyond,” and “The Killing Depths,” a military mystery thriller. Both are available from Amazon.com.

I spent many years as a journalist – police reporter, investigative journalist, newspaper editor – but gave it up ten years ago to become a medical capabilities analyst for the U.S. Navy. We determine what kind of medical requirements are needed for various combat scenarios. I’ve bee a medic of one type or another for the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy, law enforcement and a federal disaster response team.

I still write nonfiction for magazines and websites, but fiction has always been my first love. My short stories have been published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, San Diego Magazine, San Diego Writers Monthly, and other pubs. Some of those short stories are included in “Duty.”

When I’m not working for the Navy or writing, I’m a medical service corps officer with a component of the California National Guard, and a member of a local disaster medical response team.

What first inspired you to start writing?
A high school English teacher got me interested in reading the likes of Ernest Hemingway, and that got me hooked on writing. I began studying journalism in high school, and started writing short stories.

If you could write anyone's biography, whose would it be?
I think Teddy Roosevelt. He was a man of so many natures – intellectual, athlete, soldier, outdoorsman, statesman – not unlike Winston Churchill. I don’t think you could write a boring biography of TR.

What is your favourite novel and why?
I’ve read so many wonderful novels in so many genres it would be unfair – in fact, impossible – to point to one and say that’s my favorite. I love Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” and have reread it several times. I think Anton Myrer’s “Once an Eagle” is an epic work of war fiction. I’m also a fan of science fiction masters like H.G. Wells and Robert Heinlein. So many great books, so little reading time.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love it when the piece I’m writing becomes so focused and clear in my mind that scenes seem to write themselves. The story seems to come alive for me. It’s that rush, I think, that becomes addictive.

And the least?
Writer’s block – when I get stuck on a scene and I just can’t see the story from that point on. When that happens I have to walk away from what I’m working on and let my subconscious work on it.

What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
Just keep at it. Write everyday, then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. The art, it’s been said, is in the rewriting.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m on the final draft of another mystery called, “Empty Places.” It takes place in the 1980s. A war-weary journalist returns to the States from covering the conflicts in Central America, discovers his ex-wife has been murdered and finds himself the next target of her killer. The storyline is wrapped up in all the events of the Reagan era—the Contras, the Great Recession, the political corruption, and such. I’m also finishing up the first draft of a sci-fi novella.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
“The Killing Depths” came out late last year. It features Linus Schag, an agent afloat for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service who investigates crimes aboard naval ships at sea.

Schag is sent aboard the USS Encinitas, the Navy’s first attack sub with a male and female crew, to investigate a reported suicide. But Schag quickly realizes the crewmember’s death was the work of a serial killer. Before the sub can return to port for a proper investigation, the Encinitas is ordered on a covert mission to hunt down and destroy a renegade Iranian sub armed with nuclear missiles. As the sub crew engages in a life or death struggle with the Iranian sub, Schag has to discover the identity of the serial killer before his – or her – blood lust destroys the Encinitas.

“The Killing Depths” is available from Amazon.com.

Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK)

Thanks to Martin for sharing his thoughts and Monday we welcome Rita Lee Chapman to the hot seat.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Seven Days (New 100 Word Story)

A new drabble (100 word story) written by me has been posted in the Indie Bargains newsletter - visit http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk/ to sign up for the daily newsletter of  free and bargain Kindle books.

Seven Days

On the first day we ignored the signs in the sky that the prophet had foretold.
On the second we gazed in wonder at the red fire as it brightened the night sky.
On the third day we despaired at the doom that shadowed our future.
On the fourth day we prayed for release from this promised end.
On the fifth day we panicked when our prayers remained unanswered.
On the sixth day we calmed and accepted our impending fate.
On the seventh day we all cried out and now a new day has dawned and we are not here.

An Odd Quartet (Drabble Enhanced Edition) Now Available On Kobo

An Odd Quartet (Drabble Enhanced Edition) is now available on Kobo:


Wednesday 17 April 2013

Guest Author Interview - Jayne Lockwood

Welcome to Wednesday's guest author interview with Jayne Lockwood, you can read about her below:

Who are you and what do you do?
Hi, my name Jayne Lockwood and for my sins, I can now call myself a writer. I’m also a mother, a homemaker and a previously published author of erotic fiction, under the pseudonym Savannah Smythe. I don’t write erotica now, but still love the sensual interplay between characters, which comes out in my “mainstream” writing. On the home front, I run a book group and participitate in a writing group, Four Writers in a Pub. We are working on an anthology at the moment. Privacy is very important, which is why I won’t talk about my family. Books, films an all kinds of writing challenges interest me most. I hate reality TV, celebrity culture (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and love giving my opinions on books and films. Writing gives me the chance to be totally myself, without the obligations of motherhood and social expectation.

What inspired you to start writing?
It wasn’t a conscious decision. I’ve been making up stories in my head since I was very young. I think it was hitting puberty that made me realise I could actually write these things down, although at the time I didn’t think “I want to be Daphne due Maurier.” I was just doing it to get all the different voices and ideas out of my head.

What was your first story?
Oh, this is very strange. I guess you would call it fan fiction these days, but I wrote an alternative version of A Clockwork Orange, based entirely on seeing the album cover for the soundtrack in my local record shop. I had asked my mother about it and she had gone off at the deep end, telling me never to talk about that “dirty, disgusting film.” So of course, my interest was piqued. I did research in the local libraries but it was really hard to get any information at that time, so I made it up! I think it was about a boy who was having a hard time at school and there was only one girl who understood him. I don’t have it now. I think I burned it!

If you could work with any author, who would it be?
This is a really hard question because I could list any number of wonderful authors that I really admire, but would I really want to work with them? I’m going to be brave (or arrogant – take your pick) and say none, because I’m a bit precious about my writing and want it to be in my own voice, without other influences creeping in. At a push, I would say Dean Koontz, because he has the combination of abject horror, wit and humour that really appeals to me as a reader. Or Dame Barbara Cartland, because she found a winning formula and really capitalised on it. She was the original chick lit doyenne.

Where do you most like to write?
If I’m working on prose, then it has to be somewhere cosy, warm and above all, quiet. That could be anywhere in the house. I don’t have a “writing room,” surrounded by Jo Malone candles and classic novels. Somewhere with a view, perhaps. But if I’m storyboarding or thinking of an important piece of dialogue, I always go out to a local Cafe Nero with a notepad (never my laptop). A latte and vibrant characters around me, I love doing that.

What do you like most about writing?
I love doing dialogue. The trick is to make every word relevant, so it can be a challenge, but that is my favourite part of the creative process. And good reviews!

And the least?
Not writers block, strangely, because it can give you time out to step away from the problem. Then when you go back to it, you’re fresh and the answer can present itself. What I hate most is the relentless self-publicising you have to do in order to be heard. Sometimes I feel as if I am howling at the wind. Is anyone out there? Does anyone care? It’s a lonely feeling at times.

What advice would you give new and aspiring writers?
First off, don’t try too hard. Be confident in your own voice. I’ve always avoided creative writing courses or too much advice. Having said that, the technicalities, especially proofreading, should be done by someone else. You can never see your own mistakes. Secondly, don’t expect to make a living at it. Have a go, but be prepared to struggle. There are a lot of us out there. We’re a bit like sperm, fighting towards a precious egg that is a publishing deal to rival JK Rowlings. Do the math...

What are you working on at the moment?
At the minute I’m working on Closer Than Blood Part 1: Dealbreaker. It’s the first half of a trilogy, based on a manuscript I first wrote over ten years ago. It’s turning into a noirish story of murder, incest and double-dealing, and I’m very excited about it. The dialogue between the two main characters is very savage. I’m hoping to publish it by the end of April.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
The Cloud Seeker evolved over the years since 9/11, and deals in part with affect of that atrocity on one man, Max O’Donnell, who moves into an English village to be near his estranged son. He meets Cat Cartwright, who has had her own difficulties to overcome; divorce, the loss of her only child and subsequent depression.

Cat is my main character, a strong, emotionally bruised woman who does not need a man in her life. And Max is not a typical hero. He’s a liar and a fraud. He swears, drinks too much and is tormented by nightmares and flashbacks. Surely any relationship between such apposite people can only lead to disaster?

The Cloud Seeker is available as an ebook on Kindle

My website and blog: http://www.jaynelockwood.com/diary/

Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK) 

Thanks to Jayne for sharing her thoughts with us, on Friday  Martin Hill takes his turn in the hot seat.