A Facebook experiment, news from America and OMG my novel’s nearly finished

Belated Beltane greetings!

Lots of things to write about but first things first, I’m pleased to share the news that my paranormal romance short story ‘Made To Be Broken’ has been chosen for publication in an upcoming anthology from Smoking Pen Press, to be entitled ‘A Kiss and a Promise’. It’s my first publication outside of the UK and I look forwards to seeing it in print and begging you all to buy it. But just to show it’s not all acceptances and jazz hands, I failed to place either of my stories submitted to the Leicester Writes Short Story competition, and I haven’t heard a sausage from Writing Magazine on my submission to their Dialogue Only competition, so I ‘m guessing that’s a no. I entered a story to their Other Worlds competition for speculative fiction which closes this month, so I’ll have to wait a month or two to hear back (or not) on that one. On the bright side I have at least three new short stories which I can now look to improve and market elsewhere, so fingers crossed I can find them a home (it took me two attempts before ‘Made To Be Broken’ was accepted: moral of the story, never give up).

Since releasing ‘The Case of Blue Ben‘ a few months ago and witnessing a steady if modest stream of downloads, I was tempted by the evil blue ‘Book to sign up to an ad campaign to promote my Riley Pope stuff.

If you’ve never used Facebook adverts before, it goes like this: you plug in your target audience demographic and then you tell Facebook what reach you’d like to see, and the price goes up in increments. Poor indie author that I am, I chose the cheapest option which was £14.00 ex VAT for a 24 hour campaign which would reach about 1,500 people. This is what I got for my 1,400 pennies:

2,003 people reached.

80 post likes / loves / wows.

13 shares.

11 new followers on my Facebook page.

1 helpful pedant correcting my grammar.

Which translated into a total of 37 downloads across the four titles. Bearing in mind that the Pope books are free, the whole thing cost me about 45p per download. However, I have no new reviews so I still don’t know what people think of them, good, bad or otherwise.

In summary, I have 11 new followers and got my work under the noses of 2,000 people, so that ain’t so bad. Oh, and I learned that writing ‘part-eaten corpses’ in an intentionally short and punchy advertorial should be the far wordier ‘partially eaten corpses’.

I hope that as he took the time to comment on my advert, he also took a minute to support an indie author and download my books. I look forwards to reading his 1 star reviews!

In other news, I’ve been binge-watching lots of great TV, so here are some recommendations: Travellers Season 1 and 2 (Netflix), River (Netflix), Line of Duty Seasons 1 -3 (Netflix), American Horror Story Seasons 1 – 6 (Netflix). I’ve never been a tele snob – TV is story and stories are escapism, something we all need more of in a world that gets scarier by the day.

Bookwise I’ve also been bingeing. First on my old Bill Bryson books, since I felt like I needed a giggle, and also on the brilliant Ben Garston books by James Bennett (if you like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden and Mike Carey’s Felix Castor then you’re going to love Ben Garston). I’m about to start Fated, the first Alex Verus novel by Benedict Jacka. I know I’m quite late to this particular party but every time I read a new urban fantasy novel, I can’t help comparing my own work to theirs, and then I decide that my WIP is atrocious and will never be published when it has to compete with all these other amazing authors and I might as well quit. Hence I’ve (wrongly) been avoiding them, and thus missing out on all these wonderful stories.

Speaking of the WIP it is ohmygodohmygodohmygod so close to being finished that it’s making me feel a little sick every time I sit down to do some editing. I’m currently 14,000 words from the end. The novel I have written and rewritten six or seven times over almost ten years is about to be completed and sent out into the world for inspection. It’s not so much the fear of rejection making me ill, it’s the idea of spending ten years of my life on a thing that might never be published. On the flipside, I am sooooooooooo looking forwards to starting something new. It’s the second installment in the series, provisionally titled ‘Open Wounds’ and it’s all planned out and waiting to be written. The only nagging doubt I have is whether I should be writing the second in a series if there’s no guarantee of the first being published? Honestly, I don’t know, but it’s there in my head and is screaming to be written, so either way it’s going down on paper. Or on screen. Whatever.

So here ends my update. I’m off to write a story where the lead hunts pedants and chokes them on pages from her dictionary.

Ta-ra!

Download books 1 – 4 in the Riley Pope Case Files from Smashwords today (and don’t forget to leave me a review!)

Full of something but definitely not stories

Greetings, fellow blog folk.

I’m writing this post from my sick bed (ie. duvet on the sofa in front of the footie). Once again, I’ve gone and contracted the winter lurgy (in spring), and I’m currently drowning in tissues full of…

Anyway.

What I am not currently full of is stories, which is seriously frustrating because I need to write three in the next two weeks to meet a competition deadline.

No pressure.

Which is probably the issue.

But anyway, to get things moving I’ve been up to the study and grabbed this little beauty:

(Yes, that’s Welford curled up in the background, keeping me company / pinching all the leg room, and oh look! A tissue!)

I opened the book at random and came to the following exercise (easier to photograph than explain since I’m typing this on my phone – I’m not being lazy, honest!):

So I’m going to give it a go and see what I end up with, and if I’m feeling brave then I’ll post the results – whatever they may be 🤣

Just a quick shameless plug for The Case of Blue Ben, the 4th instalment in the Riley Pope Case Files, which came out last week and can be downloaded for free (along with the first three books in brand new revised editions) from Smashwords in epub or mobi format now.

Later 🤘

New release: The Case of Blue Ben (Riley Pope Book 4)

Just a quick update on the next Riley Pope installment…… (drum roll please)…..

DA DAAAAAAA!!!

4-blue-ben
Click me to download for free!

Here it is, available to download for free from Smashwords (or if you’re feeling extra generous and want to pay for it, 99p from Amazon), The Case of Blue Ben.

Mercators are solitary creatures, as a rule: the trading of cryptids is a competitive business – not to mention illegal – and single-minded ruthlessness doesn’t translate to a healthy social circle. So when a group of mercators convene in a London hotel, it sets off alarm bells, especially for cryptozoologist Riley Pope, who’d like nothing more than to put the mercators out of business for good… and settle an old score into the bargain.

But Riley’s employers seem reluctant to act, and it’s only with the unexpected help of Mo Liffey, the Firm’s resident sorceress, that Riley convinces them they need her on the case. Mo’s help doesn’t come for free though… 

Zealous in her quest to discover what the band of mercators are up to, Riley targets a face from her past with disastrous – and possibly life-changing – consequences. Faced with the option of admitting her failure or swallowing her pride, Riley asks for help from an unlikely source, and together they close in on the mercator’s prized purchase… only for Mo to call her debt in. And you don’t say no to the Queen of the Fae.

Cainsville, holidays and lots of reading

I’ve had a few holidays since my last post.

One wasn’t really a ‘holiday’ but a two-week break from the day job so that I could concentrate on writing, (with a few days out in between). It went far too quickly and it’s already a distant memory, but I did get a little bit further through the endless WIP edit. The other ‘holiday’ was a three day break up to Whitby Goth Weekend which was thoroughly enjoyable and went far too quickly 😦

The trouble with spending an intense period of time on the WIP is having to go back to reality; for the first few weeks I really struggled to get any further with it. Not for want of trying, and, to be fair, I edited and submitted that paranormal romance I mentioned previously in between times, so I wasn’t totally barren in the writing department (after 8 weeks of silence from the publisher, having promised a reply in 5 weeks, I’ve decided to submit elsewhere – life’s too short to wait, right?). As for the WIP, I set myself a goal of writing for 1 hour each day between 6pm – 7pm weekdays. This allowed two hours after work in which I could feed the cats, tidy up, feed the cats some more, do some exercise, clean up the mess that the cats left, and for my eyes to get some rest from a computer screen (I pay the bills by spending eight hours a day stuck in front of one).

And it worked. Invariably, I went straight through the hour and was still tapping away hours later. I’m now in the final third, which requires the least editing (I hope!) so fingers crossed I’ll reach my target of having the damned thing finished by the end of the year (I’m pretty sure when you’re this sick and tired of a piece of work, it’s a sign that it’s about as ready as it will ever get).

In other news, I’ve finished Kelley Armstrong’s Cainsville series. Anyone who’s read my blog knows that Kelley is my favourite author and I’m loathe to even suggest anything negative about her work… but I’m soooooooooooo disappointed how this series ended…

(SPOILERS BELOW)

The whole premise of the series was that Liv / Eden was going to have to choose a side between the Tylwyth Teg and Cwn Annwn, Gabriel or Ricky. I figured Liv would always end up with Gabriel as that was clearly where the books were heading. Ricky, unfortunately, became a bit of a one-dimensional afterthought near the end which was a shame, but as a ‘Team Gabriel’ lady, I wasn’t going to complain!

But then came the end… and Liv didn’t choose! Her final choice was NO CHOICE! She REFUSED to choose! She’d FIND A WAY AROUND IT somehow!

Well I’m sorry but that’s just cheating! Hopefully Kelley has left the series open-ended so she can continue with it someday, and aside from the ending/not-ending, the writing, as usual, was spot on. Now I’m faced with a very long wait for the final Rockton book, boo!

Since finishing the Cainsville series, I’ve read Lee Child’s Tripwire, Patricia Briggs’ Iron Kissed (see my in-depth review on Goodreads) and a mammoth book of short stories called 65 Tales of the Supernatural, which is possibly the best charity shop find I ever made.

 

Speaking of shops, we made a trip over to Trusthorpe on the Lincolnshire coast a few months ago. We ate chips and ice cream, played the arcades, walked on the beach and paddled in the sea. We also paid a visit to Sue’s Curios which is the most amazing antiques shop I think I’ve ever been in. It’s so chock-full of stuff you could spend a week in there and not see everything! There’s even a car in there! Anyway, I found this little treasure in there for the princely sum of £5 and I can’t wait to read it (I do love old books). And although Trusthorpe is right next door to Mablethorpe, which doesn’t have the most exciting reputation, it does have an amazing and often deserted beach.

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Riley Pope news: I’m 6K words into book #4 and only on Chapter 2… think it’s going to be a long one! And Helen the Cat, who starred in The Case of Walutahanga made the local news recently and you can read all about her right here.

Others news: Gliterary Tales, the upcoming anthology from Bridge House Publishing which will feature my story ‘A Very Unseelie Act’ is out in the next few weeks, eek! Check back soon for purchase / download details.

And finally, a big hello to my recent visitors from Canada!

Take care all and keep reading! X

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

Antisocial media

I saw an advert / call for submissions from a traditional publisher recently, requiring the author to submit a detailed marketing plan with their manuscript.

Really???

Now I get that authors are expected to take a more active role in promoting their work than in previous decades, but unless you hail from a background in sales or marketing and have any knowledge of the publishing industry then where do you start? They might as well have printed ‘Beg, little author, beg!’ right? Well, quite frankly, f*** you Mr Publisher! Without us you’d be out of business. No wonder that more and more authors are turning to self-publishing, even the ones who’ve been traditionally published historically. If we have to do all the work ourselves then where’s the sense in wasting time seeking representation?

OK, so I know there are numerous advantages to having a publisher and many probably don’t require the aforementioned marketing plan – I don’t mean to tar them all with the same grouchy brush.

But.

We authors are, on the whole, inherently solitary creatures. We’re never more content than when we’re locked away, engrossed in our imaginary worlds and conversing with characters that live in our heads. Creating is the fun part of writing. None of us set out to write a novel with the thought of ‘Oh gee, I just can’t wait to market this’ in mind.

As I said in previous posts, it was always my intention to self-publish The Riley Pope Case Files, so promoting them myself was part of the package. I didn’t (and still don’t) expect to make a fortune from the venture. Aside from telling family and friends, my promotional work has solely taken place via social media – my dedicated author page on Facebook, my Twitter account, my Pinterest feed where oodles of gothic loveliness abounds, and Goodreads.

As I made the (sadly wrong) decision to subscribe to KDP Select, I am tied in to selling the first three books via Amazon exclusively, for a period of 3 months. It offers higher royalties in Japan, Brazil and Mexico, (none of which I’ve sold a single book to) and India (total sales: one), and allows you to earn via the Select Global Fund which calculates royalties based on the number of pages read via Kindle Unlimited (these take 3 months to show, so I don’t know what I’ve earned yet – probably a pittance). You also get access to promotions, either Kindle Countdown deals or a Free Book promotion which allows you to offer your book for free for up to 5 days.

I went with the Free Book promotion for all three books. The Case of Walutahanga sold well in this period, reaching No.16 in the Urban Fantasy Top 100 Free chart. As soon as the promotion was over, sales didn’t so much dwindle as dry up completely. The Case of Ahuizotl and The Case of the Brollachan had more modest sales during the Free Book period, and likewise went down to zilch post-promotion. As I write this, my Kindle Unlimited page reads are showing at 659.

I can attribute most of the sales to promotion via social media. On the days that I advertised, sales went up, so it definitely helps. On the flipside, I’m now pretty bored with repeating myself via updates and tweets and creative little JPEGs of book quotes, so I’m damned sure the rest of my audience is. As part of my sales drive I joined up to groups on Facebook and followed other folk on Twitter who either wrote or read urban fantasy, or had a keen interest in cryptozoology. A couple even followed me back, which was nice, but now both my Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of other people promoting their ebooks! Good for them! But am I paying them any attention?

Well… no.

The thing is, I don’t respond well to adverts, TV, online or otherwise. I know what I like and if I want it then I’ll actively seek it out. I don’t like being bombarded with commercials and little flashing GIFs, advising that I NEED to get this or that I MUST own that, hence I find myself cringing every time I post an ad, imagining all of those people going ‘God, not HER again! Sod off!’

It doesn’t help that I’m not very happy with the price that I’ve had to set the books at: Amazon won’t let me sell below 99p, which some might find pretty steep for a 9,000 word short story. The answer is to find other platforms to sell on for a lower price BUT – I’m now tied in to bloody Amazon until mid-March!

Gah!

The most consistent feedback I’ve had concerns print books and whether The Riley Pope Case Files are available in print. Sadly, they’re not long enough to print via CreateSpace. The plan is to release an anthology of Books 1 to 10 (when they’re written) in print, which won’t be for a year or two. I have seen a lot of other authors admitting their print sales are much, much higher than their ebooks, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. I personally own two Kindles and can’t remember the last time I used either. It’s not that I have anything against ebooks, but I just love print books more. I like to line them up on my bookshelves, I like the feel of a book in my hand and the smell when they’re new.

That’s right. I sniff books. Don’t you?

Liar. 😉

X

 

Three things to do over Christmas that’ll freak out your family

I recently watched the last ever episode of Banshee. For those who haven’t seen it, WHY NOT? I challenge you to watch the first episode and not be hooked by the time ten minutes is up.

As the final episode drew to a close and all of the characters I’d grown to know and love went their separate ways, not a happy ever after but a happy-ish for now, I found myself in tears and wondered WHY I was in tears! Nobody had died (well a lot of folk had, but not anyone I cared about). The fact is I’d come to feel close to the characters, to care about their lives and what happened to them afterwards. Except I wouldn’t know, because this was the end, and how daft does THAT sound when they’re only actors playing roles on the screen?

It got me to thinking just why I cared so much. The lead is an ex-con thief who assumes the ID of a murdered sheriff and goes on a quest to win back the love of his life, who’s now happily married to the mayor (but just happens to be an ex-thief herself, and the daughter of a mob boss who they lied to and swindled). On the surface there doesn’t seem much to root for – but, from the outset, we see our shady lead put himself in harm’s way to save a total stranger’s life. And he keeps on doing it, and keeps on doing it, and other shady characters join the party, and the plot keeps twisting and turning and thickening, and suddenly, just like the book you can’t put down, you’ve lost a whole day in your eagerness to find out what happens.

The strap line for Banshee is’small town, big secrets’, but even though it is a small town, it’s peopled with extraordinary characters. I know that in my current (never-ending) WIP, I’ve been guilty of not getting to know my characters well enough, and now am playing (soul-destroying) catch-up. So, to get to know my cast better,  I’ve come up with a trio of exercises aimed at really getting into their heads, discovering secrets even I didn’t know about, and finding out what their lives were like before they stepped into the pages of my novel. Feel free to try them out, or share them, but please keep a struggling author in biscuits and link back to my site- every little helps!

Exercise 1 – Correspond with your characters!

Everyone has secrets, even the people who live in your head! So why not invite them to spill a few? Write them a letter and let them respond, or, if you’re not entirely comfortable posting letters to imaginary people, then set up an email account for them. If you’re finding it difficult to switch between author and character then try corresponding as author at your desk, and replying as character in a coffee shop / on the commute / in your PJs from the sofa (you could go as far as dressing up as them if that helps!).

So what is the point of this exercise, other than freaking out your partner / parents / dog when they wander in and find you in full period costume, writing to a fictional entity?

Well, that depends entirely on what you want to know. I tried this exercise out with the antagonist of my current WIP, keeping the following questions in mind:

  • Why are you determined to kill my hero (you numpty)?
  • Why did you end up so bloody evil?
  • What drove you to do what you have done / are threatening to do?
  • What’s your motivation and is it rational?
  • What is your background?
  • Are you really all that bad or is there a chance of redemption for you?

I really have written the entire first / second / ninetieth draft of my WIP without knowing any of this important (imperative) information. No one is ever as simple as good guy / bad guy, though. Round out your characters by asking them to tell you a little more about themselves, and you might be surprised by the answers!

Exercise 2 – The Job Interview!

This can work for any character: protagonist, antagonist or secondary character.

Firstly, decide which position you are interviewing for. Secondly, write a brief job spec. For example: ‘Aspiring author seeks heroine for gritty urban fantasy debut. Must be industrious, tenacious and have a few skeletons in the closet. Supernatural qualities desirable, etc etc.”

Write up your own list of questions or pick from the selection below, then put on your best suit and tie and prepare to interview your candidates!

  • Name, age, sex, where do you hail from (these are mostly always essential)
  • List your strengths and weaknesses
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • Why should I consider hiring you for this position?
  • What motivates you?
  • Are you a team player or more of a lone wolf?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What have you learned from your mistakes?

Or how about some more outlandish enquiries?

  • You win a million quid on the lottery: what would you do with it?
  • What do you think about when you’re alone in the car?
  • What were you like in high school?
  • How would you convince someone to do something they didn’t want to do?
  • You’ve been given a giraffe. You can’t sell it or give it away. What would you do with the giraffe?

What will you learn from doing this? Well, assuming you have a great plot and your protagonist is now up the tree, you’ll know exactly how he or she is going to react when you start throwing rocks at them, and how they might intend to get themselves down.

Exercise 3 – Let’s go shopping!

This is another time-consuming exercise, so make sure you have at least a few hours spare.

We challenge our characters with endless choices: the choices they make decide the route the story takes, but they also say a lot about the character.

Decide which character you’re going to get to know, then head off to your nearest town centre / supermarket / mall and take them shopping!

You can, if you wish, grab a basket or trolley and physically collect all the items that your character would buy. It does mean, eventually, you’ll have to put them back though. Or buy them. Or dump the trolley or basket in the shop for someone else to clear up, but even if your character would do this, I don’t recommend or condone it!

The easiest method is to browse as your character would browse. Would they go for the Heinz baked beans or the Tesco Value option? Would they eat baked beans? And what about alcohol? Are they a drinker or do they avoid it, and if they avoid it then do they have a reason, perhaps one that they’re hiding?

Champagne or Lambrini? Have they ever had champagne? How about fashion? Are they more of an All Saints or a Matalan girl? Do they even follow fashion or are they more of an alternative type? How about thrift shops? Do they rely on them to make ends meet, or would they rather walk around naked than wear other people’s cast-offs?

Hopefully, by the end of your shopping trip, you’ll have learned a little more about your character’s likes and dislikes, background, attitude, strengths and flaws (and hopefully you haven’t been arrested, or disowned by your partner / mother / best friend for acting like a weirdo – because they know we are anyway, right?)

If you try out any of these exercises, enjoy! I’d love to hear how you get on!

Blessed Winter Solstice to you all, happy holidays, and don’t forget to check out The Riley Pope Case Files, just 99p each from Amazon now!

The story behind Walutahanga…

Where did the idea for the story come from?

I’m not exactly sure – where do story ideas come from??? The original suggestion to set the story in a pub was – unsurprisingly – made in my local, inspired by a bottle with a snake inside that lives on a shelf behind the bar.

Where is the story set?

In my home town of Coalville, Leicestershire (well they do say write what you know). The pub in the story is based on my local, the Vic Biker’s Pub.

So it’s a real pub?

Yes! And you can go and look for Walutahanga if you like, she’s still behind the bar! There’s nothing supernatural about the bar staff, though (as far as I’m aware!)

What about the cat in the story?

Helen is real, known to the locals as Helen, Queen of the Vic. She turned up as a stray many moons ago and is now part of the Vic family. I didn’t intend to include her in the story but there’s tons of intriguing feline mythology to draw from so I thought, why not?

Who is Riley Pope?

Riley is a Remnant – a being possessed of magical ability. She uses her talents to seek out cryptids who are trapped in the human world – referred to as the New World – in order to relocate them to the world beyond The Rift, and safety. The magical powers of cryptids can be, and often are, abused by humans and Remnants alike, so this is why the work that Riley does is important.

And who is Bastien Cort?

Bastien Cort is the human vessel of the fallen angel better known as Azazel. Many, many years ago, Azazel was sent to Earth to watch over the humans, but soon began to lust after human females. He and a number of Watchers became the Fallen, and were banished to Earth for their sins. As for how Bastien and Riley became lovers, and how it all went wrong for them, well, you’ll just have to read the books to find out!

Download ‘The Case of Walutahanga’ now!

Available NOW! Books 1 – 3 of The Riley Pope Case Files!

Woohoo! I’m officially a published (indie) author!

Books 1 – 3 of The Riley Pope Case Files are now available to download exclusively from Amazon, or if you’re subscribed to Kindle Unlimited you can read them all for FREE! I’ll be running a free book promotion on ‘The Case of Walutahanga’ from tomorrow which lasts for five days, so please spread the word and drop me a review, good, bad or indifferent. Here’s a little overview…

The Case of Walutahanga

Riley Pope inherited her talent for cryptozoology from her father. As for her penchant for vice and a weakness for dangerous men, well, she can’t blame that on him. Now that Riley is young, free and single, she’s determined to clean up her life and make amends for the sins of her past; if her past will let her.

When a small English town is beset by unusual weather, Riley’s employers, the enigmatic Firm, despatch her to investigate. She soon discovers that a cryptid is involved, but the creatures holding it hostage won’t give it up without a fight, and thanks to a charming but deadly fallen angel, Riley isn’t sure how much fight she has left…

 

The Case of Ahuizotl

Riley Pope has seen some strange things in her life – as a cryptozoologist, it comes with the territory – but this could be her strangest case yet.

When the bodies of two naked men wash ashore on the sands of Whitby harbour – both missing parts of their anatomies – Riley is despatched to investigate. The only scrap of evidence of cryptid involvement is the drunken account of a local trawlerman – who quickly disappears.

Riley finds herself in a race against time to identify the cryptid and save it from the murderous intentions of The Firm’s hired kill squad, but Agent Mulhoon, commander of Alpha team, has other ideas, putting Riley in the kind of danger she’s been trying to avoid since escaping from her fallen angel lover. Bastien Cort is never far from Riley’s thoughts; but this time he might be even closer than she fears…

The Case of the Brollachan

Cryptozoologist Riley Pope is used to tracking down otherworldly creatures: from serpents to shapeshifters, boggarts to Bigfoot, she’s pretty much dealt with them all. But this time, it isn’t a cryptid she’s hunting…

Riley’s employers, the clandestine Firm, have received reports of terrifying creatures frightening the children of Castlebay, Scotland. Sent to investigate, Riley confirms the presence of a malevolent spirit of the otherkind that preys on its victim’s worst fears… and Riley has a lot to be scared of.

Out of her depth and in fear of what’s lurking in the hills beyond Castlebay, Riley does her best to contain the situation – only to draw the attention of Mulhoon, commander of Alpha team, who ends up putting his life and that of his team in mortal danger. Faced with leaving the reckless Mulhoon to his fate, or confronting her own private fears, Riley must make a decision… whatever the consequence.

Expanding my genres – I found a new favourite!

So I started reading Tenderness of Wolves on Sunday. I chose it because of an article in last month’s Writing Magazine on the author, Stef Penney. It’s not my usual fare and I wasn’t sure what to expect from a novel that was set in 1860’s Canada without a wizard or vampire in sight.

350 pages later on Sunday evening…

Wow, what a novel! I only stopped reading when I did because my eyes refused to work anymore. I finished the rest in two sittings and now I’m off to go and buy her other two books, because sod buying Christmas presents, I need more fiction by this lady.

Tenderness of Wolves is filled with characters you probably shouldn’t like but can’t help falling in love with. The lead, Mrs Ross (you never learn her first name), is a complicated woman who you end up rooting for. Her son, who disappears the same night that a murder takes place, has a secret that is slowly uncovered as the search for the murderer unfolds. The harsh, remote setting just leaps off the page – I feel like I just spent the last four days in a remote, snowy wilderness, living amongst trappers, voyageurs and Indians – but still found the prose to be pleasantly uncomplicated: the author uses every word to maximum effect.

Long story short, gush, gush, gush, go and buy the book!

So now this little experiment is over. I’ve discovered a new favourite author and reaffirmed the suspicion that crime fiction isn’t for me, and if I took nothing else from reading One Day then at least I now know which date St Swithin’s Day falls on. I’m sure it will be useful for something.

So back to writing. It’s December, the month in which the first three Riley Pope stories (technically novelettes but I bloody hate that word) will be released on Amazon. I’ll be sending out an update (or ten) just as soon as they’re available.

Have a happy ‘Chocolate for Breakfast’ day folks

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