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

 

An Interview with Mark Tilbury

It is my absolute pleasure to be hosting Mark Tilbury on my blog – I sent him a few questions and he’s very kindly answered them. Mark is the author of The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused, I read the first almost in one sitting it’s that gripping (it normally takes me ages to read a book!) The second is still a delight to come but I know I’m going to enjoy it because Mark’s writing style is fluent and edge of the seat, with shades of my favourite author of all-time, Stephen King. Grab a coffee and have a read about what inspires him and the writing process. Take it away, Mark…

The-Revelation-Room-Complete-200x300.jpgTell us about the book(s) you’ve written. What was the first seed of an idea you had for your book? How did it develop?

The idea behind the Ben Whittle investigation books was to try to create a character that was not your typical sort of private investigator. He was thrown into the role by the kidnap of his father by a religious cult. Ben just worked in the office at Whittle Investigations. A shy, insecure boy with a traumatic past. I didn’t want the usual super sleuth who cuts his way through a minefield of clues to slay the dragon at the end. I wanted to create something much more subtle than that. To show that the ordinary guy, who is full of self-doubt and lacking in confidence, can also overcome the odds and stand up to evil.

How would you describe your writing process? Do you outline or are you (like me) a ‘write the first line and let’s see where it goes’ type of person?

I used to write and see where it took me. I quite liked the excitement of discovery, finding hidden trails and seeing what obstacles lie in wait for my main character. Unfortunately, that lead to too many blind alleys, and it seemed to take longer to unravel the mistakes than it did to sit down and write a proper plan. So for my third novel, which should be out later this year, I planned it meticulously. I know I’m probably tempting fate, but it seemed to go without a hitch. First draft written in ten weeks. It’s also a departure from the first two books. More of a supernatural thriller. Very dark and emotional. Somewhere I really want to explore in future books.

How has writing books changed you?

I’ve become a lot more focused on the job in hand. I plan more than I used to, although the germ of a novel still tends to spring from one of the main characters (usually the bad guy) speaking to me in my head. I’m also a lot more aware of what works and what doesn’t. It’s like a huge learning curve. Also, feedback helps enormously, and I’ve learnt so much from people’s comments, both good and bad. Overall, I’m much more aware of the need to respect the art of writing and give my very best when I write if I want to share it with other people.

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What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question, a theme, the last line of the book?

The characters. Making sure that they act, speak and behave consistently, and that the main character follows the character arc I have set for him/her.

Is there an aspect of writing that you favour over others, e.g. dialogue, setting, or character? Is there one that is more difficult for you?

Dialogue. I really love writing dialogue and putting words into my characters mouths. Or do they put thoughts into my head? I’m never quite sure which way around that is! I can only really get going with a plot when the characters speak to me. Once I get the flow and the rhythm of their voices, I’m pretty happy. The rest of it I find quite hard work. Like anyone, there are many areas I still need to improve on, but the dialogue comes more naturally to me than the rest.

Tell us about the funniest/craziest/most interesting thing that has happened to you as a writer.

It’s something that happens right out of the blue. One of the characters will speak to me in my head before I’ve even got a story to put them in. For example, in the Revelation Room, long before it was the Revelation Room, Edward Ebb, the bad guy, spoke quite clearly. He said, “you’re going down the rabbit hole where all the burnt bunnies go.” I quite literally had to work the rest of the story out from there. Another guy spoke to me recently. He said, “What doesn’t kill you will make you wish it had.” I have no idea what story he’s from, because I haven’t even thought of it yet. I know his name’s Peter King and he’s a narcissist. It’s now up to me to fill in the blanks.

What would you tell aspiring writers today?

To always believe in yourself and to never stop learning. Listen to advice, constructive criticism and anything else of value that comes your way.

Mark’s books are available on Amazon and, if you want to find out more, here’s his stalk links:

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/294Gdd0
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/marktilburyauthor
Twitter profile: http://www.twitter.com/MTilburyAuthor
Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/marktilbury

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Peter James, Brighton and the Paranormal!

It is with great pleasure that I have fellow Brighton author, Peter James, on my blog today, talking about his books (of course!) but more than that, the paranormal aspect to them. And yes, that does include reference to his incredibly popular Roy Grace books! Peter is the author of some of my favourite paranormal books, and also Alchemist, which is in my top ten. Here’s the questions I asked and how Peter replied…

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The very first Peter James book I read was Alchemist. A very powerful book, it changed the way I viewed not only the pharmaceutical industry but the way in which all big industries are run. It did what all good books should – it got me thinking. The second I read was Sweet Heart, a chiller of a tale that delves into aspects of the paranormal. What inspired you to write both books?

Thank you! For Alchemist – I’ve always been interested in conspiracy theories – the idea that there is a group of people who secretly control the world! I met the head of one of our biggest pharmaceutical companies who told me that his company were busy patenting human genes and that the ultimate power in the world will lie in the hands of pharmaceutical companies. For Sweet Heart – I became interested in of past life regression and underwent it myself as an experiment and it gave me the idea for this book.

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I read in a newspaper article that The House on Cold Hill, your most recent paranormal book, released in October 2015, was inspired by true life events – can you tell us more about this?

The House On Cold Hill is very much inspired by – and modelled on – an isolated historic house in Sussex that my former wife and I bought in 1989, and lived in for a decade – which turned out to be very seriously haunted. Whilst I have never actually seen a ghost, there were things that happened at that house I really couldn’t explain. I saw on many occasions, tiny pinpricks of white light floating in the air. A medium who I used a lot during my writing of Possession, visited my house and she told me I was slightly psychic, and that is why I saw these pinpricks, and that while I was not actually seeing the entire apparition, I was picking up on some of its energy.

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We both base our books in and around Brighton (our mutual hometown). How important is location to you and why?

For me there was only ever one location for Roy Grace to be based….my hometown of Brighton. To the outsider, Brighton is a hip, beautiful seaside city, but it has a long history of darkness – right back to its roots as a smugglers village! In Regency days it gained a reputation both as a fashionable bathing resort, but in 1841 when the London-Brighton railway line opened, criminals flooded down from London, finding rich pickings and a much nicer environment than their city! They brought cock-fighting, prostitution, pick-pockets, muggers, smugglers, burglars, and gangs. Simultaneously, with the railway enabling quick access from London, many wealthy Londoners brought their mistresses down here and it became known as a place for “dirty weekends”.

Three consecutive past Chief Constables of Sussex Police have all told me that Brighton is the favoured place in the UK for first division criminals to live in. The reasons are: Firstly it has a lot of escape routes, very important to all criminals: It has the Channel ports, Eurotunnel, and Gatwick Airport just 25 minutes away. London is only 50 minutes by train. It has a major seaport on either side – Shoreham and Newhaven, perfect for importing drugs and exporting stolen cars, antiques and cash. It has the largest number of antique shops in the UK – perfect for laundering stolen goods and cash. For many recent years it held the title the Tourist Board do not like me mentioning: “Injecting Drug Death Capital of England”! It has a wealthy young population combined with the largest gay community in the UK, providing a big market for recreational drugs. It has two universities, so a big drug-taking student community. A huge number of nightclubs and a large transient population. Very importantly it has not been over-written by other writers.

One of the characters in my books, Ness Patterson, a psychic, has worked with Brighton Police in the past to solve some rather heinous crimes. How open is Roy Grace, the main protagonist of your crime novels, to using the paranormal in this way? I ask because in the very early books I remember it was suggested.

A key aspect to Roy Grace’s character is his open-minded attitude to the paranormal. This is not just in his searching for his missing wife, Sandy, but his willingness to turn to the occult when desperate on a case. I have come to realize that being open-minded to absolutely everything is a key asset for an effective homicide detective. The use of mediums by police in the USA is far more openly commonplace than it is here – but I have met many UK police officers, at all levels from Chief Constables down, who are more than prepared to talk to any sensible medium who claims to have information. As one said to me: “If I am in a desperate situation and all else has failed, I would be derelict in my duties if I failed to listen to a medium who claimed to have information.”

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I’m sure we’re all intrigued – what’s a typical writing day like for Peter James? Do you tend to do all your research before you sit down to write a book or research as you go?

My whole writing day is back to front… It is from the time when I was writing novels whilst working full time in film and television as a screen writer and producer, so I had to make my “Me time” to write. My writing day starts at 6pm in the evening, when I mix a large vodka martini, with four olives, put on some music, light up a cigar and get into a zone. I try to ensure that whatever I’m doing I leave myself time to write 1000 words 6 days a week. In terms of research – a lot I do before, but then as I progress I realise there is more I need to learn, and I’m an absolute stickler for research.

Who are your favourite authors in the paranormal genre?

Stephen King, M R James, Edgar Allan Poe.

The writing industry is a tough business and, in many ways, it is getting tougher. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

The best possible advice I can give to any aspiring writer is to read, read, read, and analyse, and write, write, write.  Writing is a craft, and any craft is improved with practice.  But most importantly is to read the most successful of the kind of works you would yourself like to write:  So if you want to be, for instance, a crime thriller writer, read the blockbusters of the past fifty years.  Analyse them, literally deconstruct them and try to figure out what made them so popular.  This is what I did when I started out.  I took the books I most admired, the ones I most wished I had written, and literally read them until I knew them inside out.

And (keeping fingers crossed!) do you plan to release any more books in the paranormal genre?

I had a great time writing The House On Cold Hill, and certainly plan to write more in this field. Possibly even a sequel!

Find Peter James on Social Media

My brand new YouTube channel: www.peterjames.com/YouTube

My website www.peterjames.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peterjames.roygrace

Twitter: http://twitter.com/peterjamesuk

Instagram: https://instagram.com/peterjamesuk

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44 Gilmore Street… Dare You Enter?!

Gilmore multi.jpgToday’s the day! After writing it, having it beta read, re-writing it, sending it to the editor, tweaking it, then tweaking it again… and again… and again… it was time to call it a day and admit it’s as ready as it’ll ever be! Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is now available to buy from Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble (links below)! Time to sit back and take a breather? If only! I’m having an online Facebook launch party to celebrate and would love it if you could join in. There’ll be plenty of prizes on offer, including a signed paperback copy of 44 Gilmore Street and five fantastic authors of the paranormal popping in at various stages to offer e-book prizes of their books.

The line up is (GMT times):

3.30pm – Sarah England (Father of Lies)
4.30pm – Rumer Haven (What the Clocks Know)
5.00pm – Rebecca Patrick-Howard (the Taryn’s Camera series)
5.30pm – John Bowen (Where the Dead Walk)
6.30 pm – Adrian Martin (The Helland Reckoning)

Here’s the link – click on it, press ‘going’ and you’re in!

Launch day is always a nerve-wracking time for authors, you wonder if people are going to enjoy your latest offering or not. This is my eighth book and I’m getting pretty good at telling myself that as long as it’s as good as you can make it at the time of producing it, then you’re on the right track. And to help me do that my thanks go to my team of beta readers (you know who you are, I tell you often enough!) and my editor, Jeff Gardiner, who is just such a pleasure to work with. And thank you Laurence Patterson at Crooked Cat also for being so patient with me when I’m STILL making edits at galley stage!

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44 Gilmore Street is the third of six books in the Psychic Surveys series (there will be spin-off novellas from the series too such as Eve) and from relatively light beginnings it’s getting darker! If you do read it, thank you, I hope you enjoy it. Now, what was I saying about taking a breather? Better get cracking on the next instalment…

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

UK http://tinyurl.com/jobnwoo US http://tinyurl.com/j6jvev5

Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me

UK http://tinyurl.com/n9q352z US http://tinyurl.com/nzjz62x

Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall

UK http://tinyurl.com/lak4ub2 US http://tinyurl.com/l29wj78

Psychic Surveys Prequel: Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story

UK http://tinyurl.com/nmnajss US http://tinyurl.com/pe5f6db

 

 

Being More Than an Author…

I’m in The Brighton Magazine today, talking about my books and the future of the publishing industry as I (and a fair few others I know!) see it. As much as us authors would love to do nothing more than just sit in our lonely garrets and write all day, that’s no longer possible. Instead, you have to don your marketing hat and find ways to make yourself visible amongst vast competition as well as network with others who you can then pool your experience and expertise with – trading graphic skills for marketing know-how for example – and everyone benefiting.

The hybrid author is on the rise – someone who is both traditionally published but is also self-published – learning the industry from the inside out. It’s a daunting prospect at times but being part of an author co-operative can really help and that’s what the article is really all about. Here’s the link to it – grab a coffee and have a read.

http://tinyurl.com/h94m258

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

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Rumer Haven’s New Release!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Shani!
On moving to London several years ago, I immediately stumbled upon Brompton Cemetery, and it’s been my favorite spot ever since. One of London’s “Magnificent Seven” cemeteries established in the 19th century, Brompton stretches for nearly forty acres and is my urban oasis. Much like Margot, the protagonist of What the Clocks Know, I felt quite lost when I first relocated from the States. Having moved for my husband’s job, I found myself without one of my own for a while, and without family and friends around either, my life felt rather isolated and aimless during that initial stretch.But Brompton was one place where peace and reflection came easily, so I chose to send Margot there as well in this story. The cemetery both heals and heightens her anxieties and, either way, compels her to return time and again. She isn’t certain if what she’s experiencing is paranormal or psychological, though, and Brompton becomes a key place for finding the answers.

The following excerpt originated somewhere between journal pages and coffee shop napkins, which I scribbled on during my early visits to the cemetery. The gravestones, statues, flora, and even fauna all triggered random thoughts that eventually gelled into this scene and others. And, yes, there really is a Charlotte Pidgeon.

Excerpt:
Margot edged closer to a tomb that echoed loudly with buzzing insects; when she peered into its blackness, a cool, ancient scent wafted to her face. Continuing to idle along, she scanned the moss and vines that clung to and devoured the markers sprouting all throughout this garden of marble and granite, the Gothic juxtaposed with the Romanesque, Celtic crosses with Grecian urns.

Stopping at another grave, she saw Christmas décor rotting away by her feet. A depressing sight in summer, the winter wreath made her fancy how the cemetery’s atmosphere must change with the seasons. She wouldn’t be in London long enough to see it burn in rust and gold, the falling leaves mimicking the footfall of a pursuing stranger and the plucked trees revealing more of the sky and buildings beyond. Yet she could imagine how, on one chilled day that would paint the scene gray, someone would kneel again at a name of diminishing meaning to the present world and place another wreath of scarlet ribbon and silver baubles. Only for it to waste away during another sunny spring and rainy summer as the cycle continued: lather, rinse, repeat.

The effect of time would be noticeable enough, and somehow she felt she’d already seen it all before and would again, her grandest déjà-vu yet. To preserve its enchantment, she didn’t analyze the reasons why this site had come to matter so much. She felt whole here. That was all to know.
But her bladder waited for no man, living or dead. Picking up her pace, Margot hightailed it to the cemetery’s rear exit until a shiver clenched the muscles between her shoulder blades. Despite
her urgency to get back home, she slowed to a full stop in front of a gabled gravestone. An ornate sprig of acacia crowned an inscription she hadn’t seen yet.

READER, STAY.
UNDERNEATH THIS STONE DOTH LIE
AS MUCH BEAUTY AS COULD DIE;
WHICH IN LIFE DID HARBOR GIVE
TO MORE VIRTUE THAN DOTH LIVE.
IF AT ALL SHE HAD A FAULT,
LEAVE IT BURIED IN THIS VAULT.

Rather than grab her pen and napkin to write the poem down, Margot just stood there, rereading it. Contemplating it. If there was an afterlife, could people really leave their failings behind to putrefy in the dirt, safe from anyone’s memory? She liked to think so.

Her gaze rose to the name chiseled in the stone.

CHARLOTTE PIDGEON

It so happened that Charlotte Pidgeon was born on the same day as Margot, but her year of birth was 1848 and year of death 1874. Despite all the other gravestones she’d recorded onto her napkin, copying anything down from this one somehow seemed blasphemous. So she just kept standing, with gravity fastening her in place. Gawking, until a weight on her breastbone made it more difficult to breathe.

The sensation was strange, no question. Margot had never felt anything like it. But she’d taken enough psychology courses as an advertising major to peg it for what it was: a psychosomatic response. The conditions were ideal for something like that. For one, the general creepy-factor of standing above hundreds of corpses as black birds crowed their ‘Evermores’ left and right. And now this moving inscription that kicked in her sympathies.

There was otherwise no meaning in it – even if, go figure, the given name should be Charlotte. A decent coincidence to add to her diary, but it wasn’t surprising that such a popular Victorian name would find its way on an English grave or the spine of an English book. She must have seen a dozen Charlottes in that lot alone by now, along with all the Alices, Emmas, and Janes.

And so what if their birthdays were the same? The ratio of 365 days to the billions of people ever born on Earth was basically nil. She had to stop pandering to what the human brain did naturally: form correlations when it noted them. Only this and nothing more.

Exhausted with her overactive imagination and fantastically bored with herself, she didn’t want to stand there anymore. But she didn’t want to walk anywhere else either. Breathing heavily through her nose as a numbness dulled her, she didn’t want to be anywhere in that moment, not even in her own skin. The effort and futility of life bore down on her as she considered all the bodies underground, all those who’d borne the burden of existence and thought it mattered until they didn’t exist or matter anymore – just rotted in boxes under her feet.

She had to go back to Rand’s. She didn’t want to; she needed to. Not for the toilet any longer, but a bath sounded nice – something that could warm her against the nip of her fears, wash away the soil she felt falling over her. Drown the thuds each shovelful made on the lid of her inner casket. That sounded purposeful enough.

Forgive my intrusion, Miss Pidgeon. I will leave you to rest in peace.

~ * ~

About What the Clocks Know:
Finding a ghost isn’t what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte’s past.

Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women’s fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing.

“A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting.”
~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series

** Add it! **
** Read it! **
~ * ~

Author Bio:

Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.

Learn more about Rumer at:
Website – http://www.rumerhaven.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/rumerhaven
Twitter – @RumerHaven

 

Something for the Weekend with Tim and Kimm!

It’s lovely to have fellow Crooked Cat authors, Kimm Walker and Tim Taylor on my blog today, telling us about how they met, and talking candidly about the process of writing and making a sale. Here we go…

twitter picture.jpgTim and I are both Crooked Cat authors and met at Holmfirth Writers’ Group many years ago. We thought it might be interesting to do a head-to-head interview, as a change.

Tim: We’ve missed you recently from the writers’ group. I hope you’ve been able to work through the writer’s block you were suffering a while back?

Kimm: It’s true, I’ve turned away from “Writing” and given up some of the groups I used to regularly attend. Having poured whole years heart and mind into writing two books, Once Removed and A Life Less Lost, I was disappointed they didn’t go out and sell themselves, as per my romantic fantasy. Self-doubt is hard to overcome.

But as anyone who writes knows, banner.png“Writing” doesn’t care if you turn your back – it won’t let you go. So perhaps not novels, although that is the form I love to read and am most at ease with, I still play with poems, write articles and am wondering about trying my hand at stories for my grandchildren.

For Christmas I was given a week’s writing retreat in Italy with Sue Moorcroft so we’ll see what time has to say.

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Tim:
Sounds fantastic! I hope it does the trick for you, Kimm.

Kimm: Speaking of the difficulties of book promotion, you ran a sale throughout December. Can you tell if it’s made a difference? What have you found is the best way to make your brilliant books known to possible readers?

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Tim: My sales did seem to pick up a bit in December, though it’s difficult to tell how much of that was due to the reduced price and how much to the effort I put in to promote it. I think that of all the methods I’ve tried, live readings have perhaps had the most direct impact, and can be quite rewarding – though of course, there is a limit to how many people you can reach that way. I have the feeling that social media is getting a bit saturated with books and it’s becoming harder to get them noticed (though I still use it, of course!)

Kimm: I certainly agree about the live talks/readings. I did a lot of that with my memoir, A Life Less Lost. People bought a copy for themselves then came back to me and bought more for family and friends. One person actually bought 7 copies! But I seemed to run out of venues after a while.

Tim: As well as Holmfirth Writers’ Group, we also both attend the monthly Poetry Day at Huddersfield University. How do you see the relationship between fiction, non-fiction and poetry, as someone who has written all three?

Kimm: These three forms of writing have one vital thing in common – audience. True, the audience may have different expectations for each form but all three forms must keep their readers engaged.

My love of fiction and learning the craft of writing prose, I believe, helped me make my memoir more compelling. The exacting nature of poetry – distilling emotions into tight word pictures, creating metaphor and similies – provides skills that can also add depth and colour to fiction and non-fiction. And taking real life experiences into your prose and poetry gives them both authenticity and a voice that speaks to others.

Tim: Nicely put – and I’m sure you’re right.

Kimm: You also write beautiful poetry, have serious published non-fiction work and two fascinating historical fiction novels out. Do you think your day job helped you get inside the skin of the people you write so well?

Revolution Day.jpgTim: I guess my experience of government as a civil servant for 26 years informed certain details of my novel Revolution Day (about an ageing Latin American dictator whose Vice-President is plotting against him): the long tedious formal meetings, the horse trading that goes on in negotiations, etc. Less so the characters themselves, for the most part, with the partial exception of Felipe, the private secretary of dictator Carlos Almanzor, who reflects my observations of real private secretaries to government ministers and the like (though I’ve never done that job).

My first novel, Zeus of Ithome, was set in ancient Greece, so I was much more reliant on imagination and what I could glean from the sources, rather than personal experience. Though I think our experiences always ultimately feed into what we write, though often in an indirect way.

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Kimm: Absolutely! We absorb our understanding of human behaviour and relationships from our own experience, which then feeds our imagination.

Tim: It’s been good to chat with you again, Kimm. And many thanks to Shani for hosting us both!

It’s been a pleasure, here are the buy links for Kimm’s books – I’ve read Once Removed and can highly recommend it. Get clicking folks!

Buy and Stalk Links for Kimm:

Buy and Stalk Links for Tim: