Movin on Up ~ Driving Your Story Forward

    We have all been there haven’t we? You are merrily munching your way through the first few chapters of a book that has sat on your TBR pile for a while and then it hits you…. boredom! Yep, mind numbing ‘I’d rather be anywhere but here’ boredom. Like a beautiful car which has been filled with the wrong fuel, the story splutters and then comes to a grinding halt. I have kicked myself so many times for playing the martyr and plowing through to the bitter end only to kick myself a bit more for even bothering to finish it. On reflection what a lot of these books had in common was simple – a soggy middle. At the beginning I’m intrigued, the writing is good and has me turning the pages with glee and then, somewhere, somehow, the tension is lost and the story becomes like a slow moving stream, no I correct myself more like a stagnant pond! Nothing is moving, the characters are not under any sort of pressure to do anything or see anyone, they are just… well they are just there! I don’t know about you but I don’t want ‘just there’ when I’m reading a novel, I can watch TV for that. I want empathy and commitment, as much from the characters as from myself. Commitment comes from making decisions, if nothing is happening no commitments are being made. All of this equals boredom for me, the reader. Don’t get me wrong I am not proposing that there should be twists and turns on every page but the story does need to move forward. Sadly this vacation I have read two such books.

     Sitting here in the Mallorcan sun (photos to follow), I am struck by how important and methodical the editing process needs to be. I don’t want my books to be considered boring and I definitely don’t want a soggy middle! I am the first to admit I write too many words sometimes. Which is why I need to be strong and robust (like a good cup of coffee) when it comes to editing my own work way before an editor gets sight of it.

    I’m sitting poolside trawling my way through the draft of my next novel and three things strike me:

    – Who the hell wrote this?

    – Oh, that’s rather good 

    – What a load of tosh!

    It’s the ‘what a load of tosh’ that is bothersome. These are the sections where I need to channel a high court judge and become harsh but fair! Sometime the ‘tosh’ can be salvaged, sometime not. If there is a meaningful reason for the words to be there I will play around with them. If, however, they are acting as fillers for the main act then they have to go. No ifs, no buts, they must be crossed through with a red pen never to be seen again.

    I have asked myself the same question over and over today – what would happen if the words weren’t there? If I can not defend them then they have to go !

    I am doing well arguing with myself, although the lure of the pool is proving powerful! One more chapter then time for a swim….

    Friday Feature….The Curious Tale of Creating an Audio Book….

    Creating an audio book was not something I had thought about too deeply until recently. My friend and fellow mystery author Phyllis Entis began the process of converting her Damien Dickens Mysteries trilogy sometime back in 2016. I watched with interest as each book was brought to life. It was not an althogether smooth process, but the end result was amazing. It got me to thinking (yes I do still have a few brain cells left in good working order). How much time do I spend in the car or on the train or even doing the washing up? Surely it could be time better spent.There is never as much time as I would like to read a book, so why not listen to one? And that is exactly what I did! I chose a book by one of my favourite writers – Robert Bryndza. The Girl in The Ice is a book I know very well, I think I’ve read it three times! Hearing the book read aloud despite knowing the story gave it a new dimension. How you read something in your head compared to hearing it read out loud gives it a different flow, different punctuation. It surprised me.

    I’ve ‘ummed and ‘arred about whether I should go down the audio route for All Tomorrow’s Parties .My main doubt revolved around my protagonists voice. Would it be possible to find a narrator who would be able to portray Laine Marshall exactly as she sounds inside my head? I made myself a promise. If after two months I was unable to find a narrator who was a solid vocal fit then I would take it as a sign it was not meant to be. I would park the idea on the back burner and leave it there… Well life has a way of kicking up the preverbial don’t you find? This week I am very excited to announce I have found my Laine Marshall! A young British actress who will be giving a living voice to All Tomorrow’s Parties I am bowled over. More news on this over the coming weeks but to say I am excited is an understatement! If all goes well  there will be an audio version of All Tomorrow’s Parties by July. Just in time for your holidays. Sometimes life is just grand!

    If you can’t wait until then you can downlaod a kindle copy or grab yourself a paperback version here –

    Sale Sale Sale…

    It’s March, and I have a spring in my step and a head that is full of holiday ideas. I am thinking about planning my vacation! With that in mind, I wanted to offer up a little gift to you all. Drum roll please…… The ebook version of my debut novel ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ is on sale!!! For a limited time only, through Kindle Countdown and Smashwords, you can grab yourselves a cheeky copy at a knockdown price. To quote a few of the reviews:

    “Thoroughly recommend for a holiday read”

    “I read this on holiday and could not put it down”

    “Great holiday sunbed read. Would recommend it. Would make a great film”

    So, for less than the cost of a glass of Sangria, you can have fun in the sun! The offer lasts for one week. On your marks get set….GO! What better excuse do you have to book a holiday now?

     

     

     

    You can also buy from Smashwords here

     

     

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    Top 5 Summer Reads

    I expect the same from my holiday reading as I do from my holiday. I want it to be fun, enjoyable, and occasionally, something that gets my heart racing! Holiday reads can be fast paced or tear jerkers, above all, they must engage me. As long as I don’t have to concentrate too hard, then they have served their purpose. I want my summer reads to be:

    • Enjoyably easy going
    • Not too serious, let me re phrase that – not too depressing…
    • A bit of a roller coaster
    • Something I can dip in and out of without needed to do any re reading
    • Interesting characters
    • Action adventure or romantic mayhem, I really don’t mind .

    So, if like me you want your summer reading to be all of the above then read on. Here are my top 5 books for Summer 2016:

    • According to Yes by Dawn French – Light, warm and funny.
    • The Sister by Louise Jensen – Edge of your seat page turner.
    • The Shadow Hour by Kate Riordan – If you like a bit of Gothic mystery this is for you.
    • The Girl in The Ice by Robert Bryndza – Crime, detective, serial killer thriller.
    • Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon – Light, enjoyable fun read.

    There were plenty of others that could have gone onto my list but…. ah well… this is it! They have all been released in 2016, and, you may be able to download a few for less than the cost of an iced tea! Until next time dear friends Bon Voyage..

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    The Art of Summer Reading….

    There is something a bit special about reading a book in the summer time don’t you think? Don’t get me wrong, there is something special about reading a book in winter too, that will be a post later in the year. Summer reading though, requires a lot more thought and organisation of the reading arena. Especially if you are on holiday! This is my tongue firmly in cheek look at some of those non essential items needed(?) for stress free reading.

    For me, there absolutely has to be sunshine. If it starts with rain, then I’m off. Sunshine, can however, prove pretty disruptive. There are sunglasses and sun cream, not to mention things that buzz and sting, oh, and sand… plenty of sand or, depending where you are, mud….. plenty of mud. So, before we all head for: the beach, the countryside, the city, the pool, the lake, the cruise, the campsite (delete as appropriate), I have come up with a few nifty items that may/may not, make your reading moments, a five star experience. I want my summer reading, to be like an all inclusive summer resort; everything at my fingertips without too much thinking. Right then so off we go:

    • For every ‘new’ book you take, throw in a ‘re read’ of a favourite. This is something I did recently, and was glad I did. Now we have e readers it makes it lighter on the luggage allowance too. I had taken along a book by a new author, but, within 30 pages, I was loosing the will to live. Not really what you want on holiday. Thankfully I was able to flip back to my comfort zone with one of my all time faves ~ ‘Love in The Time of Cholera‘ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It had the immediate effect of lifting my mood and creating that all important ‘feel good factor.’
    • Always take a resealable bag or a colourful yard of silk… it’s up to you. The yard of silk will make your book/e reader look and feel immense, and that dear friends, is the size of it. It could, in theory, double up as a sarong. It could, also be a rather interesting talking point. Holiday makers may try in vain to figure out, why you felt it necessary to wrap up your book.The resealable bag, on the other hand, has no style, but lots of practicality. The bag needs to be able to comfortably fit your e reader or paperback. Please don’t tell me you take hardbacks with you? Really? Although, I have to fess up. When Donna Tart’s ‘The Goldfinch‘ came out in hardback, I did schlep it everywhere, even when visiting the rellies…but, I hasten to add, that was a ‘Winter read’, which is altogether a different beast! A resealable bag can work wonders. It can protect from the most savage of onslaughts.
    • It can:
      • Protect against sand
      • Guard against spillage
      • Store stuff other than your book
    • A small reading light. You know the ones, they perch onto the top of your paperback and shine an arc of light! Very handy in most holiday situations. Obvs. if you have an e reader you wont need one, unless you have found another use for it….
    • At least 2 bookmarks.I like to make special holiday bookmarks, crocheted in bright colours! Do I? No I don’t… but I do like the idea… emm…
    • A mirror that can attach to the top of said e reader/paperback. Because, let’s face it, there are always times when we want to know what’s going on behind us!
    • Get yourself an Itsa beach bag/towel. Is it a bag, is it a towel? Who knows, but it does have pockets! Check it out here

    OK so that’s me done. Tomorrow I will promise to be a little more serious ( but only a little..) and let you in on my top summer reads for 2016. For now I shall leave you with some lovely holiday snaps to get us in the mood….

     

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