Twitter, I take it all back! You have made me a very happy woman!

Has your favourite author changed from ten years ago? asked Goodreads yesterday on Twitter.

Nope, I replied, still @KelleyArmstrong.

And about my day I went.

Some time (and a trip to the pub) later, I returned home to find the little blue light on my phone was flashing: somebody had liked my Tweet, it seemed…

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Cue much screaming and dancing round the lounge. I’m still smiling now!

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Am I on a train or in the Tri Cities?

I’ve just had a pretty mad weekend of reading – it’s rare that I have (or find) the time to spend an entire day reading, but yesterday, apart from a bit of housework, I essentially sat on my arse and power read.

First, I finished the second half of the Mercy Thompson book, Blood Bound. Then I started The Girl on the Train… and by midnight I’d finished it.

Like I say, it’s rare for me to spend so long immersed in a book, so I wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did this morning, which was weirdly disconnected and just not ‘with it’.

I can’t put it down to anything obvious. I don’t feel ill and there’s nothing beyond the usual on my mind, I’m not drunk and I’ve never taken anything stronger than a paracetamol in my life, so I can only put this weird disconnected feeling down to the fact that I spent a good eight hours emersed in the worlds of Patricia Briggs’ Tri Cities werewolves and then Paula Hawkins’ screwed-up trio of Rachel, Megs and Anna.

Does anyone else suffer this or is it just me? What can we call it? A book hangover?

Anyway, I did something unusual and reviewed both books on Goodreads (check out my feed to see what I thought, and don’t forget to follow me!). I don’t normally leave reviews because I tend to forget half the good stuff but always remember the bad, so for my next book I’ve decided to make notes as I go along and see what I end up with, because I’m sad like that.

Writing-wise, I’ve just written a 7500 word paranormal romance (it wasn’t meant to be a PR but the story just took me in that direction) so I’ll get it polished then see if I can place it somewhere. The WIP is still being pulled into shape and I’m picking up the 4th Riley Pope tomorrow. I have 9 days to go in the day job before I have a fortnight off and two blissful weeks of solid writing, which can’t come soon enough. I’ve also swallowed my nerves and booked the tickets for the Bridge House author event. I’ve no idea what to expect but I guess I’ll worry (excessively) about that in December!

(And don’t forget, my urban fantasy series The Riley Pope Case Files is free to download from Smashwords and ebook stockists everywhere!)

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Walking to Whitby, submission success and an urban fantasy series that I really should’ve read a long time ago

I did it!

I completed my Walk to Whitby! Well actually, I did it a month ago but thought I should mention it here since the last update I provided stopped at Day 12 and you may or may not have been wondering if I’d been figuratively mown down somewhere on the M1 motorway. Final total raised was £205 which is far more than I ever expected to raise for this very worthwhile cause. It’s time we kicked cancer’s arse for good, don’t you think?

In other news, I received a lovely email the other day. ‘Your submission has been successful’ said the title. Woo hoo! My short story A Very Unseelie Act will be included in Gliterary Tales and published by Bridge House Publishing this November. It’s been a few years since my last published story (Night Shift – you can read it online here) so it was very nice to be able to jump up from my chair and do the happy dance again (writers, you know the one I’m talking about). The story is in epistolary format and is written as an email exchange between a disgruntled fairy and a totally inept customer service department, of which we’ve all had experience at some time or other.  I wrote the story about four years ago and initially submitted it to a Writing Magazine competition, for which it was shortlisted. It then sat around on my hard drive until I saw the call for submissions from Bridge House Publishing for stories with glitter or sparkle. I’ve since had an email inviting me and a plus one to Bridge House’s annual celebration event in December, which I’m umming and ahing over but probably shouldn’t be because I know authors should never turn down an opportunity to network.

Buuuuuut…

Firstly, I’ve never been to one of these events before so I’m not really sure what to expect. I’m a total introvert and not very sociable, so the mention of ‘author speed dating’ had me coming out in a cold sweat. That alone is not a reason to avoid it though, and nor would the hubster (or my inner writer) let me. Secondly and more importantly, the event is in London (why does EVERYTHING have to be in London?) and it also falls on the day of my Nan’s 90th birthday party. The train isn’t an option as I don’t live anywhere near a station, so a simple train journey for most would actually be a taxi-train-tube-tube-train-taxi journey. So how much is this going to cost me three weeks before Christmas, when money will already be tight??? It means we’re going to have to drive from Leicester to London and back, on a Saturday a few weeks before Christmas. The event is 2pm-5pm, and the birthday party starts at 7pm. Even if I leave early, I’m still not guaranteed to get back on time. In light of my first point I feel like I’m making excuses, but I only have one Nan and she’s only going to be 90 once so there’s no competition. I’m still not sure what to do, so I might reserve the tickets and then just figure it out nearer the time.

Gah. There are worse problems to have, right?

And finally, on the book front, I’ve just read Lee Child’s Persuader (his seventh – I think – Jack Reacher) and also Patricia Briggs’ Moon Called, her first book in the Mercy Thompson series. Lee Child aside (Persuader, I felt, was probably the best Jack Reacher I’ve read in terms of plot and overall writing), I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get round to reading Patricia Briggs considering my love of urban fantasy and all things vampire, witch and werewolf. Saying that, I can’t help but compare it to Bitten, Kelley Armstrong’s first book in the Otherworld series, and in terms of the plot I found it a bit thin and a whole lot confusing when it all came to a head. Otherwise, I really enjoyed her style and I like the character of Mercy – she’s not some cliched femme fatale kick-ass in leather (which is what put me off Kim Harrison’s books) but an average girl who lives in a trailer, works as a mechanic and just happens to possess the ability to shift into a coyote. I like the coyote twist and how Briggs has woven it into the general werewolf pack concept, and I’m looking forward to reading more Mercy Thompson (which I intend to do when I get home with book two in the series.) Oh, and Cainsville #4 has just come out in paperback in the UK this week, so that will no doubt be winging its way to me from Amazon some time in the not-too-distant future.

As for the WIP, I’m still plugging away at it and pleased with how it’s going. It’s still following the general plotline but with lots of new or revised scenes. I’m also working on the fourth Riley Pope and another long-short story about a vampire hunter on a mission to flush out a strigoi-trafficking dhampir. Also in the pipeline is a short story in the form of a memoir that I intend to submit to Writing Magazine for an upcoming comp. I imagine that’s going to take me about 5 minutes to write, and 5 days to get over, but then there’s always chocolate!

Have a blessed Lammas all

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The positives of an unhappy childhood: exploring my passion for writing this #NationalWritingDay

It was National Writing Day yesterday.

I have to confess, I was not aware of this until I logged onto Twitter yesterday morning (*smacks own hand*), but it got me to thinking: what inspired me to pick up a pen and a notebook and start writing stories?

(And I’m not being romantic; it really was a pen (or a pencil) and a notebook. I’m not so archaic that computers weren’t around then but we didn’t have one at home until the mid-nineties, and even that was second hand.)

Like many, I suspect, I owe my love of books to my family. I have very vivid memories of my Dad mimicking a train to the Thomas the Tank Engine theme music after reading me a bedtime story from the series (I was a massive Thomas fan – I still have Thomas the Tank Engine coathangers in my wardrobe, and the Ladybird books in storage at home).

I was always encouraged to read, and often received book tokens for birthdays and Christmases. We had a small bookshop in town (now sadly long gone) that stocked my favourite Point Horror books (I’m pretty sure this is also where I was first introduced to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and became one of Stephen King’s Constant Readers). As for how I got into horror and fantasy, I have no idea whatsoever. My parents were neither bibliophiles nor alternatively-inclined – I suppose I’ve just always had a fascination with the creepy and macabre!

I’m not sure what I would have done without books growing up. I was an introverted only child, plagued by mild but constant bullying through most of my school years, mainly for looking slightly odd with my pageboy haircut, auburn hair, freckles, snaggle teeth and sticky-outy ear (singular – the other is more or less perfectly formed). Some long-forgotten comedian from my youth once named me ‘Goofy Rat’. He’s probably forgotten that. I never will.

I spent a lot of time in the local library (currently surviving but who knows for how long), especially in my mid-to-late teenage years when I used it as a place to escape from what could be a toxic environment at home.

Escapism. That’s what books became for me, and in turn, the writing of stories. No matter what was happening at home, or what had been said to me, or overheard through walls too thin to muffle the shouting, I always had a book to pick up, a world to escape to. When I was younger I’d go on adventures with the Secret Seven or the Famous Five, or climb up the Faraway Tree. When I was older I’d scare myself stupid with Pennywise, the Tommyknockers, Carrie, or spent whole nights immersed in the sights and sounds of New Orleans  and Paris with Louis and Lestat (I did in fact stay up all night just to finish The Vampire Lestat – despite having an exam the next morning.)

I don’t know exactly what prompted me to write my first story – which wasn’t exactly a story, but something of a never-ending script about a couple of girls (which was me and my friend at the time) who met their favourite boy band (Take That… *flinches*). Romantic relationships ensued, of course. There were buckets of hormones poured into that story, which ended up filling around fifteen A4 notebooks.

In between that and my first attempt at writing a novel were my teenage years. Apparently they’re supposed to be the best years of your life, but I didn’t get that memo. If I ever feel the need to tell the story then I’ll type up a memoir (unlikely), but around the age of nineteen or twenty I found myself trapped in a toxic relationship, very lonely, very sad, and desperate for an escape. Some turn to alcohol. Some turn to drugs. Some turn to gambling or sex.

I turned to something that had been there all my life and decided I was going to write a novel.

Just like that.

I had no education in the business of creative writing, nor did I sit down to write it with the aim of publication. I wrote it for me and I bloody enjoyed it, all one-hundred-and-sixty-thousand words of it.

By the time I’d finished I had rid myself of He Who Shall Be Run Over Repeatedly Should He Ever Cross My Path Again and met a wonderful man who has since become my husband.  He’s extremely supportive of my writing and encouraged me to submit aforementioned epic to agents and publishers.

Off went the manuscript. Back came the rejections. Or rather, rejection. Singular. Photocopied, dog-eared, generic.

I was gutted.

Looking back now I’m not the least bit surprised it was rejected, and frankly I cringe at the fact that I ever let the damned thing see the light of the day (I may, for shits and giggles, share an extract on my blog to be pointed and laughed at).

Think of all the guidelines and advice you’re given when submitting an MS, then imagine I did none of that and that’s what I sent out.

It didn’t stop me writing though. I had the bug and that was the end of it. I started another novel, invested in ‘How To’ books, signed up for a writing course, wrote another novel, submitted short stories and made a few shortlists, then I got accepted for my first publication. Pretty soon after I won a competition, got another story published. Kept on learning, kept on writing. Life had improved beyond measure from the days when I wrote to escape, but it didn’t stop me racking up the word count. I was hooked. Still am.

So good things do come from negative experiences. And great things definitely do come from books!

Update on Riley Pope 4 – The Case of Blue Ben: outline all but complete now, planned in for writing this weekend. Update on the never-ending WIP – still editing (but man I love Scrivener!)

Hope you all had a blessed summer solstice. I had a hot one, tramping around as I was in the heat to get my 10K steps in for #WalkAllOverCancer (you can sponsor me here don’t forget).

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Days 2 to 12: crystal balls, Anubis, my pants keep falling down!

I’m 12 days in to #WalkAllOverCancer. I’ve visited some lovely local beauty spots and done a lot of shopping. I’ve also spent a lot more time than planned on the bloody treadmill (thank you British weather).

On day 2 I drove into Leicester after work because I’d seen a crystal ball I wanted to buy (as you do) from a very lovely shop called The Source on Church Gate (if you’re ever in Leicester I recommend you pay them a visit).

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How beautiful is this?!

Pennies spent, I then went for a stroll around Abbey Park, a beautiful and free-to-enjoy green space in the heart of the city. The weather was a little overcast and I saw more ducks than people. It was bliss!

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Day 3 was a mixture of shopping, cleaning and treadmill. Day 4 I took the hubby with me and we got absolutely drenched in the only storm of the entire day.

Days 5 to 8 were spent mainly on the treadmill, which is currently lodged into a nook at the end of the hall because the room it is meant to be in is being decorated. This is my view:

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On day 9 my FitBit died without telling me and I didn’t log all my steps (also done on the treadmill) so on day 10 I had to do an extra 5000 steps to make up for it, which I squeezed in by way of a shopping trip to Wigston, a town on the outskirts of Leicester that has an abundance of charity shops with all sorts of goodies to be had, including this little fella for the princely sum of £1.50 (there’s a figure of a mummy inside too!):

 

A pit stop at the chippy and a naughty slice of wild blueberry cheesecake from the Cheesecake Shop followed, because I’d walked 50 miles by day 10 and I needed the fuel!

Day 11 was Sunday and the weather was fair, so the hubby and I went for a walk around the Sence Valley Park in Ibstock, saw lots of ducks and swans, and even got to listen to the Download Festival (which is only a few miles down the road from us) when the wind blew in the right direction:

 

Day 12 was a Monday so back to work. I went for a lunch time walk, (which provided me with a great story idea) and only needed half an hour on the treadmill to reach my 10,000 steps.

So how do I feel now I’m 60 miles in? Permanently tired. My writing is suffering as a result. I didn’t think it possible but I fell asleep at my laptop the other day. On the upside, I’ve raised £170 for Cancer Research UK so far, and my trousers keep falling down which I assume means I’ve lost some weight. Hurrah!

It’s past midday on Day 13 and I’ve not even racked up 2000 steps yet, so I’m off for a little lunch time trundle. Don’t forget you can sponsor me here, and if you’re ever Leicester way, don’t forget to check out some of our beautiful open spaces (we do a neat line in football teams and long-dead royalty too!)

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Day 1 – Three transit vans, two cars and a really bad idea to go walking at rush hour

I did it!

Day 1 of #WalkAllOverCancer is complete.

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I ended up doing a four mile walk after work to get all my steps in.

At rush hour.

This is a thing I will not do again.

I would like to point out it was about 23 degrees at 5pm yesterday. Not scorchio for most but I’m a fair-skinned, freckle-faced natural redhead who reacts to the sun like Christopher Lee in a Hammer Horror classic. But I thought that the heat and intensity of the sun early evening would be manageable if I dressed appropriately for a workout of moderate intensity, ie. not a hoody and jeans.

So I pulled on my 3/4 gym leggings, sports bra and vest top and off I went a-walking. I was perfectly presentable, I assure you.

I made it three minutes down the road before the first van of dickheads went past, whistling and shouting the kinds of things that dickheads in vans like to shout so as to demonstrate their intelligence.

Another half a mile, another van. Then a car. Then a van. Then a car again.

Really? It’s 2017 and a woman can’t walk along the street for fifteen minutes without getting catcalled from passing C U next Tuesday’s. Next time I’m taking my phone and getting their number plates. In some counties, this misogynistic bullshit is a hate crime.

But anyway. Apart from the aforementioned pond slime, it was a nice walk through some of the local villages. In terms of how far I made it to Whitby, I’m 6.4 miles of the way there: middle of the M1, somewhere north of Markfield and south of Nottingham:

Don’t forget, you can sponsor me here.

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Walking All Over Cancer this June!

Hi folks.

This month my blog posts will be slightly off topic as I’ve signed up to Cancer Research UK’s #WalkAllOverCancer campaign and will be posting about my progress right here.

The aim is to walk at least 10,000 steps each day, every day, for the whole of June. For the average person, that works out at about 5 miles a day, or 150 miles over the month, which just happens to be the approximate distance between my house in Leicestershire and my spiritual home of Whitby, North Yorkshire.

To add a bit of fun to proceedings I’m going to be charting my ‘progress’ on a map, plus posting regular updates, photos and occasional calls for sponsorship on my blog.

As of 2pm this afternoon, my FitBit tells me I have walked 2,580 steps.

Woeful, isn’t it? The perils of having a nine-to-five desk-based job, and a six-to-the-small-hours desk-based passion (I hate calling writing a ‘hobby’). But the challenge of walking a little bit further each day is nothing compared to what cancer sufferers, their friends and loved ones, have to deal with. I doubt there’s a single one amongst us who hasn’t been touched by this awful disease in some way, and I’m proud to be doing my bit to help fund vital research in the quest to put an end to cancer once and for all.

You can find out about the fundraiser here and sponsor me here.

In the meantime, Whitby calls…

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Barry Scott from the Cillit Bang ads is not Barry Scott, and other things I have learned this week

I’m currently reading Dave Gorman’s ‘Too Much Information… or Can Everyone Just Shut Up For A Moment, Some Of Us Are Trying To Think’. If you’re not aware of Dave Gorman then I suggest you look him up, because he’s a very funny man. If you are aware of Dave Gorman then you may well have seen his show on Dave, ‘Modern Life is Goodish’, and this book is written in a similar vein to the ‘Goodish’ shows.

I actually came across this book in a charity shop, along with several other gems, all of which I purchased for the modest sum of £9.00:

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I come across a lot of these kinds of books in charity shops; books that can really only be read once, because once you’ve digested the facts and laughed at the jokes, it’s not quite the same the second time around. But I’m glad I came across this one, because if I hadn’t then I would not now know that Barry Scott is not a real person.

You know who Barry Scott is, right? The wooden, unconvincing star of the Cillit Bang ads, whose acting is so awful that you’re instantly convinced that he must be the inventor and insisted, against his marketing department’s advice, on being in the ads because he is the guy with the brains and the money and you do as he says or he’ll fire you .

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But no! This is not the case at all! According to Mr Gorman, Barry Scott is actually Neil Burgess, an actor who has also appeared as ‘Male Paramedic’ in Waking The Dead and ‘Removals Man’ in Life Begins.

Why does this matter? Well… it doesn’t. But it does go to prove the point that Mr Gorman is trying to make in his book: that we’re so bombarded with information these days ‘that we’ve taught ourselves not to pay too much attention’, let alone pause to question what we’re seeing.

Or maybe it’s just me that’s astounded at the lie Cillit Bang have been peddling for years (it is true that I don’t get out much). Type ‘Barry Scott’ into Google and the very first result is a website excerpt informing you that Barry Scott is played by actor Neil Burgess. The headline of the article is ‘Some fun facts about Cillit Bang’s cult ambassador Barry Scott following his advertising exit’, which is just the kind of click bait nonsense Mr Gorman berates in his book. So instead of just breezing past it, I’ve clicked on the link and here are the ‘fun facts’ presented:

1. Barry Scott is actually portrayed by... yeah yeah, I’ve covered that. I’m not sure how this is ‘fun’ though. Personally, I’m still mildly irritated at being deceived so easily by a household cleaning product, but never mind. On to fact two…

2. Scott’s first demonstrative campaigns began to appear in 2005 featuring the catchphrase “Bang! And the dirt is gone!” OK. It’s a fact, but is it ‘fun’ though?

3. A hardcore dance track was added to a remix of a Barry Scott ad – it has had nearly 1.5m hits on YouTube at the time of writing. Interesting, if you’re into hardcore dance. If I stretch my imagination I might be able to muster some mild amusement.

4. After being ‘rested’ the character of Scott returned in 2013, although the first campaign was then banned by the Advertising Standards Authority due to exaggerating claims that the cleaning product Cillit Bang Limescale & Shine with Turbo Power removed stains instantly. Nope. Still not a twitch on the fun-o-meter.

5. In 2014, a student website called Oxygen.IE reported the death of Scott. Now I’m confused. Did they report the death of a fictional character, knowing he was fictional, or did they report the death of Barry Scott, thinking Neil Burgess the actor was dead, but not knowing he was Neil Burgess the actor, or did they think Neil Burgess was dead? Or did they just not think at all?

6. The report received so many views that the editor, Simon Griffin wrote a tongue-in-cheek open letter to Scott to discuss his success and congregate Scott on becoming a public figure. To this day it is not thought that the letter has received a response from either the character or the brand. Now this is cheating. Not only is it not a new fact, being an extension of the previous one, but it’s also not fun. It’s also very badly written and pretty poor journalism. A guy wrote a letter. ‘It is not thought that’ the letter received a reply. Who is it doing the not-thinking? The author of the article? The public in general? (And if I’m anything to go by, some of us don’t even know he isn’t real, let alone if he’s dead or not!) So it’s not a fact at all, it’s an extension of a fact with a little ambiguity tagged on the end.

7. Scott’s enthusiastic presenting style was parodied in Peter Sarafinowicz’s BBC2 comedy show in a sketch dubbed ‘Kitchen Gun’. Finally, some fun! Except the author of the article (Stephen Lepitak, editor of The Drum, no less) couldn’t even be bothered to get Peter’s surname right, despite having had eighteen months since the article was published to correct it.

And that is the end of ‘Some fun facts about Cillit Bang’s cult ambassador Barry Scott’, of which there were six, not seven, and none were what I would call amusing.

With Mr Gorman’s book still fresh in my mind, I arrived at my work desk this morning determined to look at the web with a critical eye. Not that I should’ve been looking at the web but with everything that’s happened in Manchester recently, I wanted to see what the latest was (threat level ‘critical’, troops on the streets of Britain – a thing I never hoped to see in my lifetime). Eventually I scrolled down the page to other news, and in the ‘Health’ section of Google News there were two articles, one atop the other:

Just half a glass of wine a day may increase breast cancer risk

Six bars of chocolate a week could cut risk of common heart condition

Now I’m not in the habit of believing everything I read (although I am in the habit of believing cleaning product hawkers when they say they’re Barry Scott) and I know to take these kinds of stories with a large pinch of salt, to the point of being utterly apathetic about them. What worries me is that there are people out there — probably lots of them — that take this shit seriously. There will be people out there who are forcing themselves to eat six chocolate bars a week (the little martyrs, them) without actually clicking through to the article and reading the facts, which are far more in depth than a headline will allow (like women only need to eat one portion to get the benefits, not six, and a ‘portion’ is 30g, not the 850g whopper that my teenage self once got through in one sitting.)

And what of those who have vowed to never drink red wine again on the basis of one sensationalistic headline? Click through to the article and you will find that:

Further evidence has emerged of the link between alcohol consumption in women and an increased risk of breast cancer.

According to a report from the World Cancer Research Fund, half a glass of wine or a small beer a day increases the risk of breast cancer.

It also backs up research showing that regular intensive exercise can reduce the risk of the disease.

But is it really that simple?

Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women in the UK with one in eight women developing the disease during their lifetime.

But scientists say they can’t explain why the cancer occurs in some people and not in others.

There are numerous causes and lots of factors to take into account, including lifestyle, hormone levels and other medical conditions.

Basically, it’s a complex picture and there’s no point focusing on one factor only.

Read that last line again. Now pour yourself a glass of wine, grab yourself a square or three of chocolate, and relax in the knowledge that we’re all going to die of something some day, so let’s just enjoy life whilst we can. If this week has reminded us of anything, it’s that life is precious and we should cherish every second, not spend it worrying over infinite details.

Like the fact that Barry Scott is not really Barry Scott.

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Love Manchester

Shane Ritchie, Reader’s Neck and the usefulness of other author’s reviews

Hello! I’m still here. Working hard on the perpetual WIP (I was struggling with the sheer length of it, and so was Word, so I’m now using Scrivener – not sure now how I ever managed without it!). Two short stories currently in for submission, pending a decision some time after June, and plotting the next Riley Pope tale, ‘The Case of Blue Ben’. Waaaaaaay behind on my Goodreads Reading Challenge so in a frantic effort to catch up I’ve developed Reader’s Neck – don’t know if that’s an actual medical complaint but it should be because it bloody well hurts. I’m currently alternating between Kelley Armstrong’s Cainsville series and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books. I’m not exactly a fan of this genre of fiction, but I got into the Jack Reacher series after reading a Lee Child interview in Writing Magazine, an excerpt of which can be found here.  The particular paragraph that resonated was this one:

• How do you feel about breaking writing rules?
In general writers, especially beginner writers, are very nervous and insecure. People have a clear idea of what they want to do and there are rules that aren’t rules – they’re just advice, and sometimes bad advice. Showing not telling is one face of bad advice. There is no reason why you can’t tell something in a plain, declarative style. Classic post-war thriller writers just sat down and told a story, and the idea that you should not is very twisted and forces people to pass on information in a very weird way. My main point is always to avoid advice. Books only work if they are vivid and organic and have one imagination in charge.

Always avoid advice?! Unpublished writers are bombarded with advice, and a lot of it is useful and we couldn’t do without it. There’s also advice that’s confusing, conflicting, biased, or just plain unhelpful. Also, if we’re to avoid advice, then do we avoid Mr Child’s advice to avoid advice???

But anyway, I picked up a few Jack Reacher’s on my charity shop rounds and have been steadily collecting them ever since. I’ve struggled with a few – I’d advise anyone to give ‘Nothing To Lose’ a very wide berth – but mostly I’ve enjoyed them, mainly because of the simple, pared-back way in which Lee Child writes; he can conjure the most vivid scene using four or five carefully chosen words, whereas another author (me, for example) might use a paragraph to say the same thing. I’m currently reading ‘The Visitor’ and enjoying it very muchly – I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out who the killer is already but I don’t know how she’s doing it, other than by hypnosis. I’ll add this to my notes on ‘interesting ways to kill people’, just as I added superglue to my list of ‘interesting ways to subdue folk’. I’m pretty sure my PC must be flagged to every law enforcement agency in the country by now.

On the subject of Cainsville, I’m also very much enjoying it. It is, of course, written by my favourite author, so go figure. It wasn’t until I finished #3 in the series and read a few reviews on Goodreads that something was pointed out to me, and verified by a lot of other readers – that love triangles occur in pretty much every Kelley Armstrong series. I hadn’t noticed this myself, but there is certainly a love triangle in Cainsville with Eden/Olivia, Gabriel/Gwynn and Ricky/Arawn, and then there’s the love triangle between Nadia, Jack and the guy whose name I forget in the Nadia Stafford series, and then there’s a potential love triangle issue waiting in the wings in the Rockton series between Casey, Eric and her ex-lover who she left behind when she went into hiding, and may reappear in the third installment to shake things up. The only love triangle I recall in the Otherworld series was in Bitten, when Elena was still living with (Philip?) whilst still in love with Clay and was caught between the two. I haven’t read any of her YA stuff so I can’t personally comment, but I’m led to believe there are more… you guessed it…. love triangles.

Apparently this is something of an overused plot device in YA, but it’s probably overused because it’s popular with teens and tweens. Furthermore I am in NOOOOO position to be criticising anyone, and certainly not the good lady herself. I was more interested in reader’s reactions to the use of a love triangle in urban fantasy – and the overwhelming majority were tired of seeing this and wanted something different. It also chimed with something I’d read the previous week about relationships in TV serial dramas – Shane Ritchie pointed out that it had taken over a year for Kat and Alfie to have their first kiss, yet nowadays, TV is all about instant gratification, and drawn-out will-they/ won’t-they scenarios are few and far between.

I don’t currently have a love triangle in my WIP – there is a love interest that kindles during the novel, but also complications that would make a relationship difficult. As it’s currently written, there’s a kiss between the two about 3/4 of the way through the book, just before the beginning of the climax where the protag. and love interest/hero are torn apart on separate quests. On the back of the advice I read from other urban fantasy readers (and also, who’d have thunk it, Shane Ritchie!) I will now remove that kiss and follow the Kat and Alfie formula instead – gaining myself a subplot for the next few books that could go all manner of interesting ways.

And speaking of TV, two points to mention:

  1. The hubster and I have been binging on The Man in The High Castle and I can highly recommend it. Nazis, kempeitai, alternative history… and now something very ‘Fringe’ is going on! TV GOLD!
  2. Well…. I can’t say. Due to the TV channel wanting to be all secretive, I’ve had to remove what point 2 said…. but all will become clear eventually.

A final note about the Riley Pope series – they’re all now FREE on Smashwords, and always will be. The reason? Well, because they’re not traditionally published, and whilst they’ve been properly proofread by myself, they haven’t been under the eyes of an editor or anyone else with a professional eye, like traditionally published books are, so viewing this from the eyes of the reader, I decided it would only be right to now offer them for free.

So that’s it folks. Don’t forget to add me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Smashwords – hell, I’m like dog s**t!

Until next time

X

New year, old novel, same determination

I’ve been a bit quiet on the social media front recently, partly because I haven’t felt that I had much to say (not good for an author, right?) but mainly because I’ve been suffering through one of those periods in life where everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. I don’t believe in muses anymore, the ones that abandon you or otherwise, or in writer’s block (if I find I can’t continue a piece of writing, it’s because there’s something wrong with what I’ve written, so I need to go back and unpick it), so I can’t blame my lack of output on anything but myself. (Well I could blame my family, but that’s another blog!)

Illness and irritating relatives aside, the last couple of months haven’t been all bad. I’ve read more books than expected (check out my Goodreads here), the remarkable, unmissable Taboo has graced our screens (and who hasn’t fallen in love with Tom Hardy’s portrayal of James Delaney?), the Walking Dead  has returned from hiatus (Daryl and Carol, hurrah!) and the third and final season of Broadchurch started last night (which I have to catch up on, damn you pesky Foxes and your 3-1 win over Liverpool – hurrah!).

I also got my first royalty statement! I don’t drink coffee, which is good because I still can’t afford to buy a cup with what I’ve earnt, but it does mean a few good folk of the world have been kind enough to read just a little of my work, and that makes me happy.

I’m still ploughing through the never-ending WIP – but with renewed vigour since I sorted out the issues with the back story and plot. I’m 99% certain now that there are no further rewrites or hair-pulling, ‘back to the drawing board’ moments to come, just a lot of thorough editing, which I’m actually (crazily) starting to enjoy.

I’m a little behind on the 4th Riley Pope story. I had intended to release it this month, but with my Amazon issues I’ve delayed it until I can be free of KDP Select and release it where I want, for what price I want. So now I’m realistically aiming for an April release date.

Watch this space, and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Goodreads for updates and general ramblings, and maybe some pictures of cats in predicaments!

X