Paperback publication day!

Today is a special day as my debut crime thriller is released as a paperback!

This is especially exciting for me because it’s the first time I have a paperback version of one of my books. I’ve had short stories published in paperback edition anthologies but this is different; this release is all my own work! This is a day all writers dream of when they first start writing stories and sometimes it seems like an impossible dream.

Who Cares if They Die was released as an ebook and audiobook last year but this is the goal most writers work towards – being able to hold their book in their hands and smell the pages… (yes, we’re a bit weird).

It’s now available to purchase in all good book shops (and their websites) but if your favourite shop doesn’t appear to stock it, just ask them to order it in for you. The same goes for your library – if you’d like to be able to borrow a copy, just ask your local library to order a copy in if they don’t already have it. I’m a big supporter of libraries and please don’t think that if you’re not buying a copy you’re not supporting the author – our books actually accrue small royalty payments per loan so it’s still supportive.

Here’s a reminder of what Who Cares if They Die is about (and don’t forget the sequel – Where the Snow Bleeds – is out now as ebook and audiobook on all digital platforms. Book 3 is coming early 2020.):

A series of suspicious suicides may be the work of a serial killer in this debut thriller novel featuring Officer Dean Matheson.

When the body of an unidentified woman is found hanging from a tree in the woods of Maple Valley, it looks like a clear case of suicide. But Officer Dean Matheson is unconvinced. Maybe he’s just looking for that big case that will help him make detective. Maybe he’s just trying to avoid his rocky marriage. Or maybe he’s really on to something. Because the closer Matheson looks at the facts of the case, the less they add up.

Then more apparent suicides start cropping up. The victims are all women living on the fringes of society—addicts and criminals nobody would miss. Does anyone really care if they die? Matheson is making it his business to care, and that’s about to make him a target . . .

Watch the short trailer:

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Click here for Who Cares if They Die on Amazon.

Book Review – The Shining

I first read Stephen King’s The Shining 25 years ago as a teenager but I couldn’t really remember it. My memories were blurred by Stanley Kubrick’s amazing adaptation (I don’t know why SK doesn’t like it! It’s so much better than his own TV adaptation.). So I’ve read it again in preparation of re-reading Doctor Sleep – which again I can’t even remember, other than being disappointed – ready for watching the new movie which is released on 31st October 2019. What a perfect movie for Halloween.

I collect Stephen King’s books. I have different versions of many of the books, because I love the different covers. I have three copies of The Shining, here are two of them. The other is the Jack Nicholson mass market paperback cover.

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I loved every page of The Shining, it actually exceeded my expectations and even scared me in places – that elevator coming to life! Those hedge animals! It’s a shame neither of those elements are in the movie. I ignored my own writing deadlines to read this, whilst not wanting it to end. I do prefer the book’s ending to the movie’s version. Jack is a great character and I’ll always see him as Jack Nicholson. The Overlook is an amazing hotel with a grim history that explains why it’s haunted, and Colorado has a special place in my heart because of this book. I actually set Where the Snow Bleeds there and drop in a little mention of ‘that hotel up near Estes Park’ as a nod to my love of this book.

So imagine my delight when a friend told me there was a review of my book stating it reminded someone of The Shining!

This may now be my favourite Stephen King novel, knocking IT off that top spot. The recent movie adaptations of IT really put me off but I’ll always have fond memories of reading it over and over as a teenager and wishing I was in the loser’s club.

So next for me is a re-read of Doctor Sleep. I’m looking forward to seeing what happened next for Danny and his mum.

NaNoWriMo – Can you really write a novel in a month?

When I first heard of NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) about 5 years ago, I laughed, shook my head and thought, ‘Yeah, right. As if you can write a novel in a month.’ I thought if someone finished a whole novel in one month then it would be utter rubbish and unedited. So, I avoided the idea completely…until I joined Twitter.

On Twitter, people take #NaNoWriMo seriously. That made me look into it in more detail and I discovered the point isn’t actually to write a whole novel in a month. It’s to write 50,000 words of a novel during November (the quietest time of the year, apparently, and therefore there should be less distractions). That works out at just 1,667 words per day. Just! So you’re not actually expected to start, finish and edit your novel in one month.

Once I signed up to the website (there are no fees involved), it felt like a challenge I wanted to try. So, on 31st October 2015, I sat down with a notepad and thought about what kind of book I wanted to write. All I had was a character and a location in mind. I didn’t plot or plan any more than that because I’m naturally what Nano-ers call a ‘pantser’, meaning I fly by the seat of my pants! But many people prefer to spend October plotting out their novels in advance.

On 1st November, I sat at my computer, opened a blank Word document and started to write. It was easier than I had expected. What followed was 30 frenzied days of trying to fit in 1,667 words a day, around life and a day job. I learned that if you don’t write enough words one day, you can catch up another day. Or, if you’re really organised, you can write in excess of 1,667 words on the glorious days when the words are flowing and plentiful. There’s a great word count tracker on the NaNo website (www.nanowrimo.org) so you can log your progress, plus there’s a whole community of people willing to spur you along.

By 1st December I was a nervous wreck! I’d just managed 50k words and I had the shell of a first draft novel. But it wasn’t finished. I needed around another 40k words and many edits before I could consider it finished. I’m happy to report that I did finish it and then I edited it for months and now it’s traditionally published and called Who Cares if They Die. It has become a crime series with two more books now finished!

So I’m grateful to NaNoWriMo and this is what I’ve learned since participating:

The good:

  • It gets you into the habit of sitting down to write every single day. Something I’d never done before and I loved it.
  • It kick starts a new novel and leaves no time for doubt.
  • You’re less likely to edit as you go because there’s no time to! I love editing as I go but it slows me down completely. I once spent 6 months on the first 30k words of a book, editing it over and over. In the end I had to scrap it all and start again (during NaNo!).
  • The writing community on Twitter is amazing and the NaNo hashtag is really encouraging during November. You really feel as though you’re writing with people for a change. It feels like we’re all in it together.

The not-so-good:

  • Writing every day gives me migraines. Staring at a PC all day was bad for my eyes. I should’ve had more regular breaks from my screen.
  • I exercised much less. My shoulders were aching and my hands turned into claws! Better time management on my part could’ve solved this.
  • You need an understanding partner/family/roommate, because they will probably have to take over most of the housework during November! (Which is a bonus for us!)
  • You’ll want to put your novel to one side in December and not return to it for months! But that’s good, because when you pick it up again you’ll have a fresh perspective, which is invaluable for the editing phase.

So, what I’ve really learned is that while it is possible to write 50k in one month, it’s not really possible to write and edit a whole novel in one month (although I know some writers have mastered this). Also, writing every single day isn’t good for your body, but having a set routine of writing most days, whilst taking the weekend off, is best. NaNo can really get you motivated to start that new novel in a way that’s hard to beat.

If you’ve never tried it and always wondered about it, I highly recommend you give it a go! Good luck and see you on Twitter in November!