Attention to Death – Ailsa Abraham

17093876_770816756403666_459813296_n.jpgCongratulations to Ailsa Abraham today on the release of her new novel, Attention to Death! Described as a ‘steamy romance with a twist of murder’, what’s not to love? And the cover appeals to my suitably spooky nature. Here to tell us all about it is Ailsa herself and there’s a buy link too if you fancy a read. Ailsa, take it away…

Thank you for inviting me to talk about my latest release today.

This is a departure from my previous series in magical realism. Here I take off on murder mystery. Why? Erm… limited attention span? Love of variety?

Attention to Death is released on 10th March and here is the info on it.

Find Attention to Death on Amazon: http://mybook.to/AttentionDeath

“In Attention to Death, Ailsa Abraham pulls off something I wouldn’t have thought possible – a steamy romance with a twist of murder and a splash of social conscience. A remarkable book that will have you turning pages as quickly as you can to find out what happens next.”
~ India Drummond, author of the Caledonia Fae series

Finding a murderer among a group of killers is not going to be easy for two Royal Army Military Police investigators, Captain Angus Simpson and Staff-Sergeant Rafael ‘Raff’ Landen, whose Christmas leave is cancelled for an investigation into a suspicious death on a base in Germany.
The case is further complicated by unhelpful senior officers who make pre-judgements on colour, creed, race and sexuality. Yet the insight of the investigators helps them uncover a sinister plot, although they too have something to hide: their own fledgling relationship.
Will Angus and Raff be able to solve the murder without giving away their secret?
The best and worst of human nature is represented in this story, which is why it is suggested for over 18s only.”

I delved into my past life as an officer in the Royal Air Force and my lifelong friendships with gay men to research this book.  Coming right after LGBT History Month in February, it highlights the problems that men who have to be “in the closet” and the sort of bigotry that causes people to refuse to read a book just because there are gay characters in it, although this doesn’t stop them leaving reviews. Me? I’ve never been too sure. I’m gender-neutral which is why the first thing I wonder on meeting new people isn’t “What do they do in  their bedrooms?”

Read it for yourself and decide. Is it an honest portrayal of two men doing their job who just happen to have started an affair?

Bio and links 

17092169_770817006403641_724394489_n.jpgAilsa Abraham  is the author of six novels. Alchemy is the prequel to Shaman’s Drum, published by Crooked Cat in January 2014. Both are best-sellers in their genres on Amazon. She also writes mystery romance.

She has lived in France since 1990 and is now naturalized French. She enjoys knitting and crochet and until recently was the oldest Hell’s Angel in town . Her interests include campaigning for animal rights, experimenting with different genres of writing and trips back to the UK to visit friends and family.  She is also addicted to dressing up, saying that she is old enough to know better but too wise to care (pirate gear is her favourite!)

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Need an Editor?

Currently, I’m deep in first self-edits for  Psychic Surveys Book Four: Old Cross Cottage (due out in April 2017). That’s right – self-edits. For me, the process goes a little something like this: write that first crazy draft, try and make sense of that first crazy draft (otherwise known as first self-edit), do a much slower second self-edit (still trying to make sense of it), a third, a fourth, read it aloud, read it on Kindle, then pass onto several test readers and incorporate their amends. Then, and only then, is it ready to go to a professional editor – Jeff Gardiner, in other words, who edit’s all my books (and is also an author himself). So… here’s a mean and moody picture of him and a little about him and his views on what makes a good editor (and he’s fab!)…

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Being An Eddy Tor ’Ead ’Itter Editor

I’m lucky enough to edit Shani’s novels, and I can genuinely say that I’m thrilled when I receive a fresh manuscript from her, because I know it will be carefully plotted with fully-rounded characters in an atmospheric setting. Not only do I edit for Crooked Cat Publishing, but I work freelance – and, happily, Shani trusts me with all her various books and projects. She’s asked me on to her blog to write a short piece about editing, so I’ll do my best.

Editing is a relationship of trust between a writer and an editor. Sometimes the changes are non-negotiable but often the edits are suggestions or advice for improving the structure and the expression of ideas. Grammar and punctuation are not exact sciences – whatever the pedants may tell us – and neither are narrative structures, nor any fictional techniques. Writing is an art form; it’s about being creative, even sometimes about breaking conventions.

I prefer to think of the process of writing as a series of choices, rather than a slavish following of rules. There is never one way of expressing a thought or of describing a person. The editor then challenges the author to improve certain aspects of their writing at both structural and sentence level. These represent the two main editorial skills.

  1. Substantive Editing – The editor offers an objective perspective and a fresh pair of eyes. As a writer myself I know that after living with a book for six to eight months, it’s very difficult to step back and make clear judgements about your ‘little darling’. The editor acts as a critical friend pointing out where structure, narrative, characterisation and setting can be improved. The beginnings and endings are always worth focussing on; not only those of the novel itself, but also chapter openings and endings, where exposition creeps in (‘show don’t tell’). The best writers get background information in without the reader realising. It’s important to keep an eye out for the dreaded ‘headhopping’, or unnecessary change in point of view in the same section. Novelists should carefully consider their narrative technique. Who exactly is telling the story, or whose point of view is it from?

 

  1. Copy-Editing – This involves amending spelling, grammar and punctuation issues or typos, as well as tautology, repetition and overuse of certain words. The editor considers things at sentence and word level now, so any awkward phrasing can be highlighted. Common errors involve incorrect use of capital letters, colons, semicolons, commas, hyphens and dashes (do you know the difference between an em dash and an en dash?). Direct speech proves challenging to some, especially the overuse of speech tags, or the correct punctuation for dialogue. Consistency in tense is vital, while the use of too many passive verbs (‘the brick was thrown by me’) weakens your writing. Keep it active (‘I threw the brick’) and avoid too many uses of ‘had’ and ‘was’.

I think the most important thing I’ve learnt as an editor is to respect the author’s ‘voice’ or personal style without imposing my own predilections. I believe editors need to show sensible restraint, and attempt to feed back in a positive way. My own experiences of being edited are varied, but I know I appreciate encouragement along with criticism.

If you’re lucky enough to get published, or work with a professional editor, then see it as an opportunity to learn more about your craft, but don’t be shy either to question a decision or to ask for clarification so you can, at least, understand the improvement for next time. Writers and editors possess skills that should continue to be honed and perfected as techniques, tastes, traditions and expectations evolve.

Jeff Gardiner is a freelance editor who also works for Crooked Cat Publishing. If you’re interested in working with him then see his website – www.jeffgardiner.com – and email him using the contact form.

He works in a variety of genres, such as contemporary, historical, thriller, supernatural, fantasy, romance and young adult fiction; non-fiction and academic texts. He has a Masters Degree (MPhil) in English, and successfully completed the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) Copy-Editing Training Courses.

“I’d like to thank Jeff Gardiner for his well-judged editing suggestions and his thorough scrutiny of the text.” T. E. Taylor, author of ‘Zeus of Ithome’.

Jeff is also the author of five novels:

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Pica: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pica-Gaia-Trilogy-Jeff-Gardiner/dp/1783759283/

Falco: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Falco-Gaia-Trilogy-Jeff-Gardiner/dp/1783759348/

Myopia: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Myopia-Jeff-Gardiner/dp/1908910534/

Igboland: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Igboland-Jeff-Gardiner-ebook/dp/B00IGQPG1S/

Treading On Dreams: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Treading-Dreams-Jeff-Gardiner-ebook/dp/B00J4Z63PI/

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Happy Christmas to Us All!

unknownI admit it, I’m not  one of life’s great bloggers but as it’s Christmas, I’ve decided to dig it out, dust it off and get some words down! And who know, my New Year’s resolution might be to make more use of it!

Well, it’s been a rather interesting year on a global scale, but perhaps the less said about that the better – for the moment anyway. On a personal front, it’s been an interesting year too. As a member of two author co-operatives, Authors Reach and Storyland Press, I’m beginning to learn a lot about the business of publishing as well as writing and the huge effort that goes into sustaining visibility in what is a very busy market. Did I say effort? Well, it is but it’s hugely enjoyable too and endlessly fascinating. And what makes it all worth it is the feedback I get from readers, some of whom have supported me from the very first book, which was…. The Runaway Year in 2013! That seems like a VERY long time ago now.

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So, 2016 saw the release of three novels from me – Psychic Surveys Three: 44 Gilmore Street, the first in a new series, This Haunted World Book One: The Venetian and Blakemort – A Psychic Surveys Christmas Novella. All have done very well indeed and received great feedback. The story of Gilmore Street is a very personal one with shades of the Enfield Haunting about it, whereas Blakemort was my first foray into writing in the first person and features Corinna, one of the Psychic Surveys team, reliving the time she spent as a child in a house in deepest darkest Sussex – a house that could never be considered a home. The Venetian was a pleasure to write, set between Venice, ‘the world’s most haunted city’ and Poveglia in the Venetian Lagoon, ‘the world’s most haunted island’ it blends fiction with fact and urban legend and has recently been released in audio too – very exciting!

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2017 looks set to be another busy year! Psychic Surveys Book Four: Old Cross Cottage is due to be released on April 25th, which is Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall‘s 3RD BIRTHDAY (it’s also my 50th but shhhh regarding that!!). Around September will be the second This Haunted World book, set in a hotel I visited in America last year in the state of Pennsylvania, very spooky indeed! And there’ll also be a Psychic Surveys Christmas novella, this time written from the point of view of Ness – a lady who hides some very dark secrets!

But before all that it’s Christmas! Have a wonderful and peaceful time wherever you are and thank you so much for reading this and again for all your support. Let’s hope 2017 is a better one for all of us, wherever we are in the world.

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Blakemort – It’s Live!

 

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Today’s the day! Blakemort – A Psychic Surveys Christmas Novella – hits the shelves in Amazon as an ebook and paperback. Already it’s garnered great reviews from advance readers, being described as ‘powerful’, ‘thought-provoking’ and ‘downright scary’! What more could my little writer’s heart wish for?

So what’s it all about? Well, it’s the second of my Psychic Surveys Christmas novellas – both are standalone but feed into the main series. The first novella – Eve – focussed on Theo and Ness (two of Ruby’s colleagues in the main books) working on a case together before they’ve even met Ruby or joined Psychic Surveys. Blakemort focusses on Corinna, the youngest of the Psychic Surveys team and the five years she spent at Blakemort as a child – a house with a very disturbing history.

As with all my books, it’s inspired by true hauntings. In this case the very spooky Wymering Manor in Portsmouth, which I hope to visit soon for a personal tour. Sightings include a lady in a violet dress, a choir of nuns and the sound of children crying and phantom horses galloping away at night. But that’s Wymering Manor, at Blakemort it gets decidedly more sinister…

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Here’s the blurb for it and a few teasers to whet your appetite, plus the links for Blakemort and also for Eve, which is on sale on Amazon for 99p at the moment (ebook). For a Christmas treat with a difference, close the curtains, light the fire and get stuck in!

“That house, that damned house. Will it ever stop haunting me?”

After her parents’ divorce, five-year old Corinna Greer moves into Blakemort with her mother and brother. Set on the edge of the village of Whitesmith, the only thing attractive about it is the rent. A ‘sensitive’, Corinna is aware from the start that something is wrong with the house. Very wrong.

Christmas is coming but at Blakemort that’s not something to get excited about. A house that sits and broods, that calculates and considers, it’s then that it lashes out – the attacks endured over five years becoming worse. There are also the spirits, some willing residents, others not. Amongst them a boy, a beautiful, spiteful boy…

Who are they? What do they want? And is Corinna right when she suspects it’s not just the dead the house traps but the living too?

Amazon Links – Blakemort

UK http://tinyurl.com/jhj9lqc

UK http://tinyurl.com/z5o5d5l

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Amazon Links – Eve

UK http://tinyurl.com/hk9cmay

US http://tinyurl.com/ztx23x7

Find me on Social Media

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: https://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

Website: http://www.shanistruthers.com

Newsletter Link: http://eepurl.com/beoHLv

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Jennifer Wilson and Kindred Spirits!

Having not utilised ye old blog for a while, I’ve got three interviews lined up – the first with the very lovely Jennifer C Wilson, author of Kindred Spirits – Tower of London, which is on sale this week on Amazon at 99p. Here she tells us all about the book, what inspired her to write it and her fascination with the aforementioned Tower.

Grab a cuppa, have a read and then go and then bag yourselves a bargain (the link is at the bottom of the article). Take it away, Jennifer…

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Hi, Shani, and happy Halloween! Those are definitely words I never thought I’d find myself saying… I’ve never particularly liked Halloween. I’ve never really liked the idea of ghosts. So, the notion of my debut novel being a ghost story (or a story about ghosts, at least), is, frankly, ridiculous. I’m such a wimp that I don’t even like watching Midsomer Murders in the dark…

But there you go. Having had the idea that if the ghosts of Richard III and Anne Boleyn were in the same place, they’d have a lot in common, it kept nagging away at me, especially thinking about where they would be. The Tower of London seemed the most logical choice, given that Anne was executed and buried there, and it’s where the Princes in the Tower also met their deaths, the two people who probably occupied Richard’s mind the most during his reign. I had been trying to write about Richard for so long, and decided to just go with it – easily the best decision I ever made!

TowerOfLondon.jpgAnd when you start looking into who could be hanging about the place, the research soon becomes quite addictive. I’ve had to stop reading about the Tower, because I just kept finding more and more people who could legitimately be haunting the place, and wishing I’d come across them two years ago. The ‘cast list’ I went for in the end wasn’t bad mind, and certainly not lacking in star quality. As the blurb says: A King, three Queens, and plenty of other nobles for them to spar with. And when two of those Queens are probably Henry’s two most famous, Katherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, there’s plenty of sparks to fly.

Having first visited the Tower on a bleak February morning, and first seeing it through a blizzard, the idea that spirits still inhabit the place didn’t need much imagination. Even during my next visit, in glorious Bank Holiday sunshine, there are plenty of nooks and crannies, still open to the public but off the more beaten track, where you can get a real sense of the Tower’s history, and its place in the story of Britain. Built so soon after the Conquest, there cannot be a monarch who hasn’t visited. If walls could talk, you would certainly need earplugs… I wouldn’t say I felt uneasy there, but some of the rooms, such as where prisoners had carved their names into walls (one even, according to tradition, surviving from George Boleyn, almost certainly, as with his sister and the other men, innocent of the crimes he was charged with) have a definite ‘atmosphere’, especially when you’re in there alone. For the bare rooms the prisoners would have been kept in, there isn’t much of a difference today, and certainly the lower rooms you can access still feel claustrophobic. I wouldn’t have wanted to be left there.

Definitely enough to spark the imagination, and the idea did indeed keep me out of trouble during NaNoWriMo 2013.

For a limited time only, until the end of Halloween, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London is just 99p/c. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London

A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.
Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.
With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave?

About Jennifer

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Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.
Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her debut novel Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Publishing in October 2015.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifercwilsonwriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/inkjunkie1984

Blog: https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, Amazon link: http://authl.it/B016TRKU2A

 

The Myths of Publishing

Sound advice from experienced author, Jan Ruth, about the myths surrounding publishing and self-publishing. An absolute must read.

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Self-Publishing is a Last Resort.

No. To self-publish or operate as an Individual Publisher or an Indie, is often the best creative choice. Without the shackles of commercial pressure, genre-blending or your own personal genre, is the new kid on the block! The author retains global selling rights across all platforms and retains the majority share of any royalties. Most importantly, the author is in complete control of the entire process, from designing the cover to organising events, to advertising and pacing the release of new material. The more you invest of yourself the greater the opportunity for growth, development, and experience, not only as a writer through valuable on-line networking but in all aspects of the publishing world.

Depending on your technical skills, it’s quite possible to design your own covers and 13735790_873470892758672_4699674544226635043_opromotional material using a range of high quality software, some of which is accessible for free…

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The World’s Most Haunted Island

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On the 9th August 2016, This Haunted World Book One: The Venetian, was launched on Amazon. The first in a series of books based in and around the world’s most haunted places, the venue for the first, as it’s title suggests, is Venice – regarded as the ‘world’s most haunted city’. I first visited not long ago, in November 2015 and found this ancient, crumbling city haunting in more ways than one. At that time of year, the nights close in early and, for me, that’s when Venice comes alive, dark alleyway after dark alleyway lonely and eerie, drawing you in, always in, to the beating heart of the city. You could spend all weekend immersed in it’s haunting beauty, eschewing the more familiar sights of St Mark’s Square andimages.jpeg the Bridge of Sighs for ones such as C’à Dario or “The House of No Return” as locals call it because it is believed to eventually kill or ruin all of its owners. The murder chain starts back in the 15th century when the daughter of its first owner, Giovanni Dario, committed suicide in the house after her husband went bankrupt and their son was killed in a fight, and continues well into the 21st century. Just in case you like to play with fire, the house is currently up for sale!

And then there’s Poveglia. Ah, Poveglia, in the Venetian Lagoon.  What a chequered images.jpeghistory that has! It’s known as ‘the world’s most haunted island’ and I think it’s probably fair to say it is. The Venetian is not only set in Venice, it’s set on Poveglia too. Plague and disease were huge problems in the Medieval world, and Venice was no exception. When plague threatened to wipe out the city entirely, it was to Poveglia that the ill and the suffering were banished… never to return. In 1922, a mental asylum was built on the island and dubious practices reputed to have been carried out in otherwise splendid isolation. The asylum was shut down in 1968 and today Poveglia is home to nothing more than a collection of abandoned buildings surrounded by fields, known as plague pits – where the bones of the plague-ridden lie with those from the asylum. It’s forbidden to visit the island, but people do, after all, it’s just a short boat ride away from the mainland…

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The Venetian takes the dark side of Venice, including the history of Poveglia, to bring you a story that’s horrifying but in very human terms. Mixing fact with fiction, it was a fascinating story to write but I was also aware that it was real history I was dealing with and therefore people, those who had once lived and breathed, and so I had to tread carefully and with the greatest respect. Often the subject of Poveglia is dealt with in a gratuitous manner, but in this new series of books that’s something I don’t want to do. For me the story is horrifying enough, it really doesn’t need much, if any, embellishment.

Next week I’m off to New England, stopping over at Salem for three nights, home of the notorious 17th century Witch Trials. Again, I’ll be looking for a story – one that hasn’t been told before. One that should be told. The human side of horror. Watch this space.

Reviews so far for The Venetian:

“One of the most compulsive reads for a long time.” “Full of gripping suspense.” “An absolute masterpiece.” “Haunting and unbelievably atmospheric.” “A nerve tingling, nightmare inducing novel which skilfully twists and turns.”

If you’d like to read it, it’s available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and soon in all good book stores. Here’s the link:

UK http://tinyurl.com/goardwp US http://tinyurl.com/zl6jx7c

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