And I’m done, done, on to the next one

article-1216939-067E9403000005DC-457_468x234

Dead Write is on sale.

Months of writing, panicking the story wasn’t coming together, that my characters might come across as vacuous or unlikeable, that the twists wouldn’t be as clever as those in Dead Letter Day, editing, choosing covers, writing blurb for the cover (always more difficult, in my opinion, to do this than write the book) and now the anxious wait to see how it sells and find out if my readers enjoy it.

Early feedback seems to be positive from the few who have already finished the book, but there are still plenty more to go, and refreshing the Amazon page hoping to see that new reviews have appeared is like having skated in the Olympics and waiting for the judges scores. I quite like that analogy given my complete lack of poise, grace, rhythm, coordination and actual skating ability.

Now is the time for promotion. Trying to make people aware of Dead Write’s existence, and to give my novel a try, without forcing it down their throats and annoying them by relentlessly saying ‘buy my book, buy my book’. And all the while my mind is thinking ahead to the next story.

The most exciting part for me of writing a book is getting the words down on the page and feeling the novel start to take shape. Preceding this is usually several weeks of developing and plotting, hanging out with old characters and deciding what paths they are going to take, while meeting new ones and learning all about them.  And this is where I am at now.

Most of my days are spent with my characters and they are nearly in place. My dilemma now is building a story for them that will live up to the first two books.  I have so many ideas and have explored several different plotlines. None of them are quite right yet, but the story will come, and if you see me wandering around with a completely vacant look on my face, in a world of my own, I’m not ignoring you, I’m just very busy figuring things out.

Followers of my Facebook page, be prepared for many questions over the next few weeks as my dark and devious mind goes into overdrive.

 

Monday is Blog Tour Day

 

Today is Blog Tour Day, where authors talk about their writing process, and I have been invited to take part by my fellow Rethink Press New Novels Competition winner, James Ferron Anderson.

James won the overall best new novel prize for The River and The Sea, a tale of love and hate set in Canada in the early twentieth century. He is currently working on his new novel, Terminal City, and is also one of the judges for the Rethink Press New Novels 2014 Competition, which closes Friday.

Thank you to James for giving me this opportunity and if you would like to know more about his work, please follow him here. http://jamesferronanderson.com

So, today (well, technically tomorrow, since I’m sneaking in 50 minutes early due to work commitments) it is all about me, and here are my answers to the blog tour questions.

What am I working on?

I have recently completed the sequel to my award-winning thriller, Dead Letter Day, and am now working with my publisher on the edit ahead of the book’s release in March. Dead Write has been a challenge, albeit a very enjoyable one, as it falls into the category of ‘the second difficult book’ and has a lot to live up to. I hope my fans will find it as exciting a read as Dead Letter Day.

As well as editing, I am spending time working on a few new plot ideas. I am hoping to start the third book in the series shortly and may also release a couple of novellas in between.

dld-3d

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It would be arrogant to say my work differs from other thrillers when there are so many good books available to read, each offering something different. With my own writing I have tried to take all of the elements I like in a story – fast paced twisty plotline, interesting likeable characters and the right balance of humour and thrills. I am a fan of books you literally cannot put down, because you need to know what is going to happen next, and I try very hard to make sure the stories I write give the same experience to my readers.

The best advice I have ever been given is to ‘write stories you would want to read yourself, as if you’re not enjoying them, no one else is going to’. I can’t for the life of me remember who said those words, but they have stuck with me.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I enjoy it. I love telling stories and I’d still be doing it even if it was just for me. The fact other people want to read them and I now get paid to write is a huge bonus.

I have always loved well-crafted thrillers, both in book and on screen, and there was never another genre I wanted to write. Comedy would be the closest second, but although I enjoy reading them, I’ve never had the inclination to write a lighthearted book. It just doesn’t appeal. Having said that, there are definitely moments of humour to be found in both Dead Letter Day and Dead Write.

Stranger

How does your writing process work?

Usually I start with an acorn. It can be a tiny part of a plot or a nuance of a character. Gradually the story develops around the acorn in my head. I build on the plot, I flesh out my cast, figure out how who they are, what they look like and how they talk and act, and I have a lot of conversations with them.

Eventually, when I feel I have gotten to know everyone well enough I start to write. I don’t use storyboards, as I find them too clinical, and I prefer to work from a series of notes I’ve made along the way. Once my characters start to come alive in words, they tend to go off on their own tangent. I indulge them to a certain extent and while I start off with an A and a Z and a rough idea of how I am going to get from one to the other, I always end up with a few plot deviations along the way.

Next week on Blog Tour, talking about their own writing process, are three very talented authors I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over the past year.

Tara Ford

Tara is the new name in humorous contemporary women’s fiction and her first novel, Calling All Services was released in July 2013, garnering great reviews. The follow up book, Calling All Dentists is due for release shortly and I look forward to reading it.

Please find Tara’s website at http://taraford.weebly.com/

You can also follow her on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Tara.Ford.Author?fref=ts or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rata2e

Paul Beaumont

Having your debut novel shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize is a good way to make your entry into the publishing industry and that is just what happened to Paul Beaumont for his provocative and witty tale, A Brief Eternity.

Paul’s website is http://paulbeaumont.org/

And you can also follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/paulbeaumontauthor?fref=ts and Twitter https://twitter.com/beaumont_paul

CA Shilton

My final chosen author is CA Shilton, who took inspiration from Les Miserable for her first novel, Barricades. This clever story tells the tale of Javert, offering fresh insight into a complex character and, while it weaves in and out of Victor Hugo’s classic, it is a brilliant book in its own right.

Find CA Shilton’s blog page at http://www.barricadesat.blogspot.co.uk/ and her website at www.copsecornerbooks.org.uk

And you can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BarricadesByCaShilton?fref=ts and Twitter at https://twitter.com/CAShilton1

 

 

Am I the only writer who…

 

946577_10151745414471427_226802232_n

Gets a five hour window to write, spends four of those hours staring at a blank screen willing the words to come, then in the last hour manages to churn out a dozen or so pages?

Goes to the day job and spends the entire time acting out scenes with my characters and wishing I was home working on the book?

Overhears a line of dialogue or notes someone’s mannerism and thinks ‘I’m nicking that for one of my characters’?

Out of the most ordinary situations, has a seed planted, that then grows into a full blown plot?

Has moments where I think ‘I can’t do this. I will never finish my novel’, but then other times where I look at what I’ve written and proudly think ‘this is bloody good. Go me’?

Say hello to the people who live in my head

file0001284149723 (2)

Characters to me are the single most important thing about a book. Of course your plot is relevant; you need to have a decent storyline, but unless your characters are leaping off the page, no one is going to want to read it.

The characters are going to be on the journey with you and they need to be interesting, if not always likeable, for you to want to spend three or four hundred pages in their company. This is why I put a lot of time into developing mine before committing them to paper.

It is not just a physical thing. Yes, of course you have to know how they look, but you also need to get to know their personalities. Are they confident or shy? Perhaps they are mean or selfish or have a kind heart. Where do they come from, do they have an accent, what was their family life like growing up? Then there’s things such as relationships, tastes in food, music or television, the way they dress, the little personality quirks that make them individual.

Build your characters on paper and in your head. Have conversations with them; get a mental image of how they look and the kind of thing they would say or do in certain situations. It is up to you to breathe life into them, otherwise they will come across as one dimensional and no one is going to want to read about them or care about their fate.

I can’t speak for other writers, but my characters are never based on specific people. Sure I may take a personality trait or two, but in my head they are entirely my creation. As the author though, I am sure each of them has a little bit of me in them.

For example, Angell is a cat lover with a fondness of pizza. Hmm… sound familiar? I could also be accused of sharing Hickok’s direct approach at times. I’m not very good at pussyfooting around an issue. I am a little more polite, but if I want an answer I will ask the question, and I definitely have his sarcastic streak. As for Vic, well he’s a bit clumsy, likes sitting on his ass and has a fondness for stuffing his face with junk food.

Nah, that doesn’t sound like me at all.

 

 

 

 

Am I the only writer who does this?

 

freeimage-852138-web (2)

1/ Uses every excuse going not to sit down and write, from cat cuddles to Googling to ‘I’ll just make another cup of coffee first’, but then when I do start writing, sometimes get so caught up I forget to stop for dinner.

2/ Has characters living and breathing in my head before I can commit them to paper. Sometimes I will hang out with these people for months beforehand. Their name has to be right, I have to be familiar with their look and mannerisms, know their history and what makes them tick.

3/ Likes to people watch.

4/ Gets irrationally mad if someone disturbs me when I’m in the zone.

‘Do you want a cup of tea, Keri?’

‘Fuck off!’

5/ Has such an overactive imagination I suspect everyone of everything. My neighbours are doing a bit of DIY: Well actually they might be having a fight with a chainsaw. The guy in the white van: He’s a serial killer on the lookout for a new victim. The posh guy at work: He keeps his mother’s corpse in the attic and has a fridge full of eyeballs and brains. Seriously, when my cat went missing, I managed to convince myself that a giant eagle had swooped down out of the sky and grabbed her from the garden.

6/ Obsessively watches my Amazon rankings. When they are good, so is my mood. When they slip, I get a full on black cloud over my head.

7/ Sometimes writes drunk.

8/ Test reads bits of the book to my pets.

9/ Lies in bed at night having whole conversations between my characters in my head, which I then have to try and commit to memory or get up and write down.

10/ Gets over excited every time someone says something nice about my book.

 

 

Want to have a character named after you in my next book?

freeimage-3771871-web (2)

Fancy seeing your name in print?

I am hard at work on the Dead Letter Day sequel and offering one reader the chance to have a character named after them.

The competition is on Facebook, so if you want to enter please head on over to my page www.facebook.com/allaboutbeev and follow the instructions.

Closing date is Sunday 5th May.

Good luck!