Two years of head-desking…

dead girl walking finalIt’s been a long two years since I began writing Dead Girl Walking. In between beginning this book and where we are now (not quite but almost ready to publish) I’ve been through two day jobs and published three books under my pen name.  But this book has been one of those that I have had a love-hate relationship with. While I have loved the characters, I don’t mind admitting that the story has been incredibly difficult to get right. I’ve had the help of my fantastic agent, Peta Nightingale, who must be absolutely sick of seeing rewrites from me by now (I think we’re on about eight but I’ve lost count)  and her colleague at LAW, Philippa Milnes-Smith, who kindly carted one of the first drafts around Bologna book fair for me to gain lots of publisher feedback, along with one of my best friends, Louise, who read the crap drafts even when she had much better things to do.  Writer friends have also waded in, and I have to thank Mel Sherratt in particular for championing the book right from the start, Rebecca Bradley for offering her know-how and expertise on getting the details right, and Jack Croxall for braving the early drafts.  Without all these people Dead Girl Walking would have been something very different, and not nearly as good, I’m sure. It’s taken two years but think I finally like it and I hope that you all like it too.  So I’m thrilled to share the new blurb and cover  with you all. I don’t have an exact release date yet, but it’s soon, so I guess, as they say, watch this space…

Cassie Brown doesn’t see dead people, she becomes them. The slightest touch forces her to relive their final moments in breath-sapping detail. She herself was dead, killed in the accident that took the rest of her family. But whatever strange power governs the universe, has plans for her that don’t involve her death… yet.

Dante has a recurring dream.  Every time he sleeps he sees the exact moment of his own demise. But where did the nightmare come from?  If it is a premonition, how long has he got?

A girl and a boy, two damaged souls drawn together. Add a serial killer stalking the streets, a desperate cop and a newspaper reporter with an unhealthy interest in her story, and Cassie is soon caught in a lethal game. She may have cheated Death once, but this time he’s keeping a much closer eye on his prize…

Dead Girl Walking is an unpredictable mix of romance, paranormal and crime thriller that will keep you gripped until the very last page.

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2013 – a bit of this, a bit of that, a lot of fun…

photo2013 was such a mindblowing year that I hardly know where to start.  It was mixed, of course, and the good things that happened for me were, sadly, matched by the bad things that happened to friends. But good things happened to friends too, and I suppose that what I’m trying to say in my characteristically crap way (writer, apparently?????) is that it was, in most respects, a fairly typical year.  Except that I published a book.  Then I published another one… until I couldn’t stop writing them. Even more excitingly, people started to read said book.  And then they read the other ones… some even said they liked them…

My favourite thing this year has been finally getting the validation I’ve always craved for my writing. When I started out, years ago, I always said that all I wanted was for people to come into my worlds and share them. People have done that and truly taken my characters to their hearts and it has meant more to me than I can say.  It’s been hard work, every single spare moment has been spent doing something – if not writing then promoting or researching opportunities to reach more readers – but it’s been the most enjoyable nervous breakdown I’ve ever had.  I’ve had pen names this year – more than a few – and I love the books that each and every me writes, even though they’re all very different. As their creator, I think I’m allowed to say that, right?

My other favourite thing has been the wonderful friendships I’ve found through the writing community, both online and in the real world. Some of you I’ve managed to meet, some meetings we’re working on, some of you, sadly, live too far away and it’s likely I’ll never get to meet you.  But you’ve all been fantastic. You’re all ages and all walks of life and everyone has a different agenda, but we get along and support each other. And we’ve all shared each other’s journeys in many ways. I’ve seen some friends release their fabulous debuts and enjoy the same experiences as I’ve had as people have discovered their books. Some friends have finally found the professional success that they’ve worked for years to achieve – book deals, new agents, competition wins…  and so much more good stuff. Some of my friends have started new book blogs and gone on to find enormous and faithful followings as people have discovered their reviews and come to love and trust them.

Most of all, 2013 has been a year of change. I’ve learned so much about writing and marketing, but I’ve learned about life too.  I think this year has changed me as a person – I know now that I can do so much more than I ever believed I was capable of.  And as if the family dramas, friendship dramas, two children’s books, six young adult books, and an adult book on the cusp of release weren’t enough, there was one more lovely surprise, tucked right at the bottom of 2013’s stocking.

I finally got my fabulous agent…

2014 is a new chapter. And even I don’t know where this plot is going…

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The Sky Song trilogy is a year old! To celebrate, all three books in the series will be reduced to 77p or 99c each for the next week. Thank you to everyone for your brilliant, valuable support and Happy New Year!

 

The best three little words…

I’m going to say three little words, the best three little words in the whole world, and even though I’m as romantic as the next girl, it’s not the three words you’re thinking of.

MY LOVELY AGENT

I can now officially begin sentences with those three words, should I wish to, which at the moment seems to be quite often!  I have just sent back my signed agreement to be represented by LAW in London. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am by this development in my career.

I’d often heard writers talk fondly of their agents, saying it was like a marriage, and you need to find the right person who ‘gets’ you and your writing, and honestly, although it sounded like a wonderful sentiment, I never thought it would happen to me.  Until now, that is, because I really feel that I have the best, most gorgeous, most perfect agent I could have ever found in Peta Nightingale (sorry all you other lovely agents, I’m sure you’ll forgive my enthusiasm). I have yet to meet the rest of the gang at LAW, but I can’t wait!

And we’ll have some exciting stuff coming up this year and next – new books to spring on the world and maybe old ones to spring on the world again in new and surprising ways.  But for now, I’m going to sit and gaze upon the most beautiful envelope I’ve ever seen, which bears the logo of LAW, and smile for a while…

Off the Beaten Path blog tour – day 6

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of featuring Jason T Graves, editor of Off the Beaten Path and author of Blood Roses and Morning Stars on the blog as part of a combined indie author event.  To celebrate the release of Off the Beaten Path, I thought I’d give readers a second chance to get acquainted with this self-professed mad scientist of fiction and hat lover extraordinaire.  Here’s a selection of the questions I put to Jason in that original interview:

Have you ever written a character that you’ve disliked so much you’ve scrapped them from a work?

A few times; Some of the people in Blood Roses are annoying enough to me that they die in the sequel.

Which of your characters would frighten you if you met them in real life?

Corelis and the undead Godek.

Describe yourself in 5 words.

Dashingly normal and audaciously humble.

Do you ever consult friends when you’re stuck with a plot?

In addition to my wife, I have circle of writer friends and beta readers who I consult with about issues that I have with my stories. I don’t usually get stuck on a point to that degree, though. If I have problems with a story, I set it aside and work on another story until the problem with the first unblocks and a solution presents itself.

What’s your personal kryptonite?

Doughnuts… they are the Dr. Horrible of pastries, and I cannot leave them be.  

If you could converse, a la Dr Dolittle, with one type of animal, which would it be and why?

Cetaceans (dolphins and whales). I would ask them why they keep forgiving us despite our slaughter of them, and what they dream about.

 Tea or coffee?

Tea… Chai. Rooibos. White. Green. Herbal.

You can find out more about Jason and his books at the following locations:

Jason’s blogOff the Beaten Path_front_96 dpijason graves

Jason’s Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Shelfari

Amazon (author)

And don’t forget that you have two more days to enter the giveaway to win a bound copy of Off the Beaten Path and Amazon gift cards.

Off the Beaten Path – day one of the blog tour.

Earlier in the year, I was approached by Jason Graves, author of Blood Roses, to contribute to an anthology of paranormal stories he was putting together.  after much deliberation and some frantic searching, I came up with Soul Trading, a story that I had half finished some years before. I decided that this would suit the tone of the book and promptly got to work knocking it into shape.

Soul Trading: As Sasha discovers during the weirdest night out of her life, it isn’t only the Devil who makes deals for your soul…

Off the Beaten Path_front_96 dpiThe collection features six other talented writers, all offering spooky shorts guaranteed to keep your light on all night.

There’s a Goodreads giveaway going on and also a rafflcopter giveaway where you lucky people can win ecopies of the book, Amazon gifitcards and a grand prize of a bound copy of the anthology.

During the next few days I’ll be featuring the other contributing authors on my blog so you can hear more about their stories and a little about them too.

If you can’t wait that long, here’s the link for the book on Amazon 🙂

Thanks for the Memories!

Today I’m all like this…

Merlin-laughing-at-Arthur

Because yesterday was release day for The Memory Game, and it was an incredible and enjoyable day, one of the best days I’ve had as a writer so far.  I have so many wonderful people to thank for that, people who read the book at the beginning and offered their constructive opinions, people who read it again when I’d rewritten it, people who read it to offer insightful and intelligent reviews when it was finished, people who helped spread the word, people who downloaded it, of course, or people who simply told me they believed in the book. I was going to list you all individually, but the list is enormous and I’m certain I’ll forget somebody vital.  I would hate to do that because you’re all so important and I wouldn’t want you to ever think otherwise. You people know who you are, and how much I love you for being the best and most supportive friends a writer could wish for.  It’s down to you all that yesterday was such a success.  An author can produce the work of the century, but if nobody knows about it, there’s almost no point.  Everyone has their own motives for writing. It’s true that I write because I’m compelled to tell stories, but I also need my stories to be read by others, it’s what drives me. Without the help I have received, not just yesterday, but all along the publishing journey, that couldn’t happen. I can only hope that this is the start of a long and fun journey, and that I’ll have you all alongside, singing with me every step of the way.

A photo and a memory – how a novel is born.

It’s funny how some novels start out. Sometimes there’s a sensible linear journey that begins with an idea, proceeds to draft, and then becomes an edited, finished product. Nothing could be simpler. Sometimes it’s a lot messier than that. The Memory Game is one of those messy novels.

bikeLike many of the books I’ve released this year, The Memory Game started life while I was doing my creative writing degree between 2006 and 2009. I remember sitting in a class and being handed a photo. From that photo, I was told, I had to create a scenario. My photo was of an abandoned bicycle. It looked forlorn to me, as though something really bad had happened to the owner. I decided that the owner was a boy on his paper round. It wasn’t hard for me to make the next connection, that the boy had been knocked from his bike by a car, because, as a teenager myself, I had worked as a paper girl and one of the boys who worked alongside me was killed by a car while out on his round one night. It was one of those deeply affecting events, one moment that changes your outlook on life forever. It was the first time I had encountered such a tragedy first-hand involving someone my own age. Suddenly, I understood that we weren’t as invincible as I had always believed. That memory came to the fore of my mind while looking at the photo in my creative writing class that day. The next thing that happened in my story scenario was that the boy was telling us about the way he had died.

I took the scrap of an idea home and wrote a short story. I sent the short story off to one or two competitions and was shortlisted for one in 2008. This version was called ‘Say Hello to the Living’ and was a much more darkly humorous tale, based on David (the protagonist’s) experiences of the afterlife. Buoyed by the small competition success, I decided to turn the story into a full length work, keeping the black humour, but I never ended up finishing it.

Sometime in 2012 I was reminded of the story while going through some old notebooks. It seemed the right time to dust it off, only this time, as I wrote and planned, it began to turn into something much grittier. New characters were added and a new central conflict in the form of Bethany. I wrote a novella length piece early in 2013 and a couple of writer friends very kindly read it for me and gave me feedback. Having had some experience of self-publishing by then with my Sky Song books and feeling fairly confident about it, I decided to go it alone and publish the book myself. I went back and re-drafted, fleshing out the story until it had become a more complex tale. That’s the version I’m sending out into the world on September 1st with my fingers and toes crossed that people will like it.