Dark drabbles, small victories and trying to stay positive

Kinsey Millhone meets a working-class Discovery of Witches, minus the unnecessary yoga.

If it sounds like the kind of book you might like to read, I’m with you. Please bear with me as I try to get it finished. Current working title: Conspiracy of Silence. This will undoubtedly change another two-dozen times before I’m ready to submit again, possibly in the year 2040 when we’ll all be driving hover cars, which is what we should have been doing in 2020, but instead we’re all learning how to wash our hands whilst singing Happy Birthday, twice.

In brighter news.

Success! In my last (quite a while ago) blog post, I mentioned I’d tried my hand at drabbles (drabble: a short work of fiction a hundred words in length, which are harder to write than they sound). I submitted two of them to Black Hare Press and one of them, ‘Cybele’s Lament’, has been selected for publication in their upcoming anthology Hate: Dark Drabbles, which is available now in paperback for £12.99 or in ebook format on 17th March for £2.99. You can order / pre-order by clicking the shiny links above 😉

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Dark tales of hate and revenge in bite-sized chunks!

This will represent my first and only published work of 2020, my output over the past twelve months having slowed considerably for reasons previously blogged about. I’m seeing this as my small victory and am going to attempt to write some more, alongside plodding on with the WIP.

Reading-wise, I’m on my sixteenth book of 2020. Stand-outs to mention are Blue Moon by Lee Child (a vintage Jack Reacher story and one of Child’s best), Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill (one that will stay with you for a long time), Anthony Horowitz’s Daniel Hawthorne series (this man never writes a bad book) and No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill. I’m new to Adam Nevill, and the only reason I haven’t snapped up more of his work is that No One Gets Out Alive terrified me more than any horror I’ve ever seen or read and I’m not sure I need more terror at the moment given what’s going on in the world right now.

Stay safe everyone. Be kind.

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Halloween reprint news, pantsers v plotters, and why you can’t be a writer if you don’t bloody love it

Hello everyone and Happy Gothtober!

It’s only 17 more sleeps (I’m not counting, honest) until me and the better half make our biannual trek up to Whitby for the goth weekend, and I’m ever so a little bit excited, not least because my all-time-favourite band Fields of the Nephilim are playing, and also because I get to stay in a cottage with THIS view:

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If you follow me at all on Twitter or Facebook, you might have noticed THIS post:

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Yes, I have finally done it. After slogging away at the never-ending WIP and finally deciding that the industry just doesn’t want vampire novels at the moment, I returned to a previous project, finished it, redrafted it, edited it, proofread it, polished it to within an inch of its life, and now it is sitting in the inboxes of five agents / publishers awaiting their verdict.

I cannot describe to you how amazing it feels to finally be working on a new project. Not one I’ve rewritten umpteen times, not one I started to write years ago and put to one side, but a BRAND NEW NOVEL!

I’m taking a risk, since it’s the second in the series to the first, and if I can’t find an agent / publisher for that one then I don’t really know where that leaves me. On the other hand, I believe in my characters and the world I’ve built for them and I want to keep on telling their stories, so I’m just going to carry on regardless and hope that somebody out there believes in them too.

Novelists tend to be pantsers or plotters, and some of us occupy the space inbetween. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants: they don’t have a structured plot before they start, just a vague idea of characters and possibly a germ of an idea and they run with it and see where it takes them. Plotters are their opposites: they carry out meticulous planning beforehand, make up character sheets, map out story arcs, major and minor plotlines, and know before they even write a word of the MS what will happen in every chapter, and possibly every scene.

I used to be a pantser (hence the many manuscripts filling up my hard drive). Chasing Shadows, the aforementioned submitted novel, was written as part of a writing course, so there was some element of planning involved and that’s probably how I made it to the end with all (I hope) of the necessary ingredients in place.

I don’t consider the time I’ve spent pantsing through novels as wasted. Aside from courses and how-to books, and reading both widely and incessantly, I sincerely believe that the best way to learn how to write well is to just sit down and do it. Write badly. Write angry. Write tired. Write rubbish. Write stuff that the world will never see. But eventually, through practice and a lot of trial and error and thousands upon thousands upon thousands of words, your writer’s voice WILL start to emerge. You’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t, the things that you’re good at and those that you need to pay a little more attention to. You might, like me, discover plotting doesn’t stifle creativity (like I thought it might) but actually makes the writing process a helluva a lot easier.

My Scrivener project for this second novel currently has character sketches for all major and minor characters, separate location descriptions for all the main places in the novel, a list of major and minor plotlines with notes on how they develop and are resolved, and I’ve broken down the novel into chapters and the chapters into scenes. If this all sounds terribly tedious and boring, let me assure you that I’m having the time of my life with it. Seriously! I’ve never been able to keep all the strands of a novel in my head, but doing it this way gives me a visual map to work to, and knowing I have all the necessary nuts, bolts and pulleys in place means I can just get on and do the best bit, which is write it.

The opening scenes for the third novel are already in place (and a Scrivener project is going for that too), along with several plots for short stories and novellas to compliment the series. Now I just need to win the lottery so I can give up the day job and get it all written.

In others news, the latest anthology from Smoking Pen Press A Kiss and a Promise, is available now from Amazon. Featuring my story ‘Made to be Broken’, a paranormal romance about a vampire hunter’s quest to fulfil a family legacy, it’s available both in paperback format and as an ebook download, and you can find them both here. (Don’t forget to leave a review! They’re an author’s bread and butter!)

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I also received some great news from Sirens Call Publications last week. My short story ‘A Dish Best Served Cold’, originally published in 2011 by Spikethecat Ltd, will be included in the Halloween edition of the Siren’s Call ezine. Purveyors of horror and dark fiction, their bi-monthly zines contain short fiction, flash fiction and poetry and are completely free to download and enjoy. The link will be added to my Short Fiction page as soon as it’s available.

So that’s all for now folks. I’m off to check my emails for the 104th time today.

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Shameless plug alert… A Kiss and a Promise – OUT NOW!

Hey everyone

Just a quick post to tell you that the new anthology from Smoking Pen Press, A Kiss and a Promise, is now available to download from Amazon!

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Featuring my paranormal romance story Made to be Broken, the ebook version is just £3.05 with the paperback to follow in October. Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite:

The six romances included in this anthology have quirky characters, or quirky locations, or quirky situations.  You’ll find a ghost and a new homeowner, a spaceship captain and her cartographer, a window designer and high school beau, a banker and a baker, two vampire hunters, and some supernatural beings.  You’ll find yourself in two different restaurants, and on another planet. You’ll find deception, intrigue, and old memories.  You’ll find Happily-Ever-Afters, and you’ll find Happy-for-Nows.
But most of all, you’ll find true romance.  You’ll find kisses, and you’ll find promises.

Vampire hunters? Romance? How can you resist??? Download the anthology here and don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads (authors love reviews!) and share, share, share with your family and friends.

Thanks all!

)o(  Love and Light  )o(

(Image and blurb text courtesy of Smoking Pen Press)