A Week Break From Blogging

Just to let you know, there won’t be any post’s from me for the coming week ahead. I’m away on my holidays for a week. Sunshine and lots of books are the plan. I’m wondering just how many books I can actually read in a week if I set my mind to it?

And for any would be burglars – the house is occupied and the dog is still in residence… (Cheaper than putting him in kennels!)

You may see me around social media occasionally if there is wi-fi on the complex, but blogging requires more time and input and to be honest, switching off sounds like a good plan once in a while and I might see if I can do just that.

So, all that is left to say is -

see you soon

Posted in My Life | 14 Comments

Keeping It Real – Harrogate part 3

It’s the third and final instalment of my Theakston’s Old Peculier crime writing festival rundown – at last I hear you say! I save the best till last my blogging friends. Trust me.

And to prove that, it will be a reasonably short post. See, you’re already smiling.

Sunday morning saw the panel ‘Keeping it Real’ whether crime fiction should in fact mirror real life crimes or stay well away from the headlines. Chairing the panel after obviously not much sleep, but doing an upstanding job anyway was David Mark who was joined by Stuart Neville, Chris Carter, Stav Sherez and Tim Weaver.

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Neville stated after writing Ratlines which is written about the Nazi’s, he got really angry emails. Emails he was surprised to receive.

Sherez said he liked ‘making stuff up’ because it felt like cheating otherwise and Weaver said that if you were going to use a real life event then you had to be responsible with what you did with it.

Carter made a great point in that fiction has to make sense whereas real life doesn’t and he exampled this with the rather gruesome true life story of the German cannibal who advertised for participants for him to eat and got 204 responses! If you wrote that, you’d have an editor and readers just not believing it could happen.

The final thought I came away from that panel with was from Stav who said that writing is a concentrated form of thinking. I liked that.

Back in June I wrote a blog post with a YouTube video attached that I’d found. It was actually a TED video of a man who is recording one second of every day of his life and I had decided to do this. You can find the post Here. For Harrogate, I thought I would try to do a kind of condensed version, but bearing in mind it is only over a couple of days, I did a few seconds each day, it’s a short video, but here are the results.

 

I would like to thank the chair of this years event Steve Mosby, Theakstons Crime, The Old Swan and of course, Dead Good Books for a great weekend that for me, went flawlessly. You can find a list of blog posts about the event at Steve’s blog – which is of course a great blog to follow anyway – Here.

And that’s me bowing out of cataloging my weekend for another year! Here’s to many more.

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What’s Your First Draft Like? – Linda Huber

Today’s guest on the First Draft series is crime writer Linda Huber.

Linda HuberLinda Huber grew up in Glasgow, where she trained as a physiotherapist. She spent ten years working with neurological patients, firstly in Scotland and then in Switzerland. During this time she learned that different people have different ways of dealing with stressful events in their lives, and this knowledge still helps her today, in her writing.
Linda now lives in Arbon, Switzerland, where she works as a language teacher in a medieval castle on the banks of beautiful Lake Constance.

When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?

I leave the first idea in my head for a while, have a good think about it, maybe make some notes. I like to be clear about my characters before I start writing so sometimes I jot down a few things about them too. Everything else can easily be changed if necessary, but people are central to how the plot develops.

Do you have a set routine approaching it?

No. I write for as long as the text is flowing, and when that stops, I stop. I usually have several different projects on the go – one of them is generally on a roll at any given time!

Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?

Keyboard. Except for those ideas you get in the middle of the night. They go in a notebook, and if I’m lucky I can still read what I’ve written the next morning!

How important is research to you?

The location always needs some research. I like to set my books in places I’ve been to, but often I still need to find out things like the names of rivers or hills, how long it takes to drive to town, that kind of thing. Otherwise, I tend to write about what I know. Part of The Cold Cold Sea, for instance, is set in a school – I’ve worked in several schools so I know enough to make it realistic. Hospital settings are fine too, my first career as a physiotherapist helps me there.

How do you go about researching?

A visit to the book’s location is always fun, but if that’s not possible, Google maps, especially street view, is fantastic. The www can help with a lot of things, and for others – police procedure for instance – I have a small army of unfortunates who regularly get ‘What would happen if…’ emails and phone calls.

How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?
Notebook and camera first if I’m out and about, and then it goes into the computer. Each novel has a huge file with all the bits and pieces I’ve gathered along the way. A lot of it never gets used, but if I need it it’s there.

Linda first draftTell us how that first draft takes shape?

That’s always been a bit different. For The Paradise Trees, I outlined every chapter before starting the actual first draft. Then of course when I did start, the characters changed things quite a bit as we went along! The Cold Cold Sea almost wrote its own first draft; I don’t think I made any notes at all till I started revising and editing. The two I’m working on now are somewhere in between these two extremes.

Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?

Coffee. I rarely sit down to write without a mug under my nose. I can’t tell you how many keyboards I’ve ruined. I’ve changed to a laptop now but I still use a keyboard, and the laptop sits on a box so that the screen’s at the right height (and the whole machine is out of the danger zone…).

Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?
If the magic is really working I can get lost for hours at a time. It’s always weird when you sit down at 8.00 to write, and then five minutes later you check the time and it’s 11.30. Great feeling!

What does your work space look like?
At the moment I’m in a temporary flat where I don’t have an office room. The word cramped comes to mind. I’m looking forward to getting into the new flat where I’ll have my lovely big table to spread myself out on again.

Linda workspace

Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?
That depends. If I’m on a roll I keep writing, otherwise I usually read through what I wrote the previous day and alter anything that jumps out at me.

I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?
The word counter on Word is quite useful, especially when it is the first draft and you want to keep different sub-plots etc in balance. In The Cold Cold Sea I was able to see quickly that one sub-plot was way too wordy first time round.

So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?
I honestly can’t say how long it takes. I have several novels on the go at once so it depends on whether or not I manage to get the 1st draft done without getting stuck and moving on to something else. Months, anyway, if not years.

In what format do you like to read it through, ereader, paper or the computer screen?
Computer screen. If I’m trying to work out anything complicated, like who was where when for how long and would this work, I’ll print that section and cut it up for each scene/character. But for general editing I stay on the pc.

What happens now that first draft is done?
It sits in a corner of the pc to mature and I go on with something else!

Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.

You can find Linda on her Website, Twitter and Amazon.

The Cold Cold Sea by Linda Huber

cold coldThey stared at each other, and Maggie felt the tightness in her middle expand as it shifted, burning its way up… Painful sobs rose from her throat as Colin, his face expressionless now, reached for his mobile and dialled 999. When three-year-old Olivia disappears, her parents are overwhelmed with grief. Weeks go by and Olivia’s mother refuses to leave the cottage, staring out at the turbulent sea and praying it didn’t claim her precious daughter’s life. Not far away, another mother watches proudly as her daughter starts school. Jennifer has loved Hailey for five years, but the child is suddenly moody and difficult, and there’s a niggling worry of doubt that Jennifer cannot shake off. As she struggles to maintain control there are gaps in her story that even she can’t explain. Time is running out for Maggie at the cottage, and also for Jennifer and Hailey. No-one can underestimate a mother’s love for her child, and no-one can predict the lengths one will go to, to protect her family.

 

To read any of the previous First Draft Q&A’s you can check the list Here.

To be a part of the First Draft series, just get in touch and let me know. Along with the answers to the questions, I’ll need a profile photograph, a first draft photograph and three links that you feel are your most important. Also at the bottom of the piece, you can have your most recent book details.

 

 

 

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David Tennant is “Gorgeous, Funny and can do a Chin-up.” – Harrogate Part 2

Apologies for the delay in this second Theakston’s crime writing festival post. I know I said it would be on Tuesday but my hopeless EDS body decided it would take precedence and crash for a couple of days and it did it in style. But, I’m back now!

So, where were we?

That’s right, we finished on Friday night with the very lovely ‘Robert Galbraith.’

Saturday saw me drinking lots of tea in the wonderful marquee on the front lawn of the Old Swan. Perfect for giving attendees that little more room as the festival grows in fans. It also was the morning of the “selfie”, where I attempted to get photo’s of myself with as many people as I could. I always walk away from these events with nothing to remind myself of them, so this year was going to be different. See below for a smattering of said pics.

Then, before leaving the tent, I passed the Dead Good Book stand with Mel Sherratt and PamReader and we were asked if we wanted to try the lucky dip and possibly win some sweets. Well, as I’d been hassling the Dead Good Book stand all morning – they are great people! – and I do love some sweets, I stuck my hand into the suitcase filled with what looked like black shredded paper and was told I was fishing for a bone. Well, look what was attached to my bone! ( I had to read it three times before I started squealing!)

Next up was the Broadchurch panel. Yes, the TV show Broadchurch was starring in the Old Swan. We had the writer, Chris Chibnall, Jodie Wittaker who played Beth Latimer and Olivia Coleman (any introductions needed?) Also on the panel was Erin Kelly who had written the book of Broadchurch. She and Chris stated they had a lot of fun working together and some of the characters were able to be expanded upon more in the book than television allowed. So, all you book lovers – one up for you!

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There was a great moment when Olivia was asked a question and she looked at Chris for help and said she couldn’t remember what she was allowed to say and what lies she had told who! There has been a great deal of secrecy over the first series of Broadchurch which worked really well on the UK audience and took off brilliantly and has now got so much attention, the team feel the paparazzi are intrusive and rude as they take long lens photographs of them even when they are doing costume changes.

During audience questions, Olivia was asked what it was like to work with David Tennant and she replied “He’s gorgeous, funny and can do a chin-up!” What more does a girl need?

As this post appears to have gone on for so long, I shall finish the Harrogate line up off on Saturday. Tomorrow returns to the First Draft Questions.

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This Is How You Pronounce Rowling – Harrogate part 1

21.7.14 004Thursday last week saw the annual trek to Harrogate for the Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival held at the beautiful Old Swan in Harrogate. It’s a place where well established crime writers, new up and coming writers, still trying to be published writers, and readers, all mingle together in the same space without segregation and talk all things crime with copious amounts of their favourite tipple on hand. Be that tea, coffee, wine, Theakstons of course, or something a little shorter. It is one of the highlights of the crime writers year.

 

My first stop however had to be Betty’s tea shop in town to sample the delights of the China Rose Tea and of course the cream tea alongside it. And on the way out I bought some China Rose tea to bring home with me. I also couldn’t resist taking a photograph of these little fella’s!

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Piggin out at Betty’s

21.7.14 029Friday Morning saw the start of the panels. The first one I saw was ‘The Good Old Days‘ A discussion chaired by Martyn Waites with guests James Oswald, Mel Sherratt, Mark Edwards and Mari Hannah, discussing the different routes into publication – self publishing and traditional publishing. It started with Martyn Waites attempting to do a large hall selfie but not quite getting it right, then being corrected by Mari for pronouncing her name wrong. (It’s Mari as in Sari.)

James Oswald stated that if you intend to self publish then you are in for a lot of work as you are doing everything yourself.

Mel Sherrat said she does a bit of both…

There was some heated talk about the cost of ebooks and what readers are willing to pay for certain items such as cups of coffee but not books.

It then moved on to audience questions and in response to one question from the audience member who asked at what point the panel called themselves writers, Edwards seemed to struggle with this but Oswald stated ‘If you write, you’re a writer.’ Hear Hear!

In the ‘Worse things happen at home‘ panel, a discussion about violence in the home, Cath Staincliffe gave the best quote for me, when asked in audience questions whether it was nature or nurture, that whichever it was, we still have to take responsibility for our own actions.

Friday evening saw the highlight event. The prize attraction for many. Robert Galbraith was coming to Harrogate! AKA J. K. Rowling. Unfortunately, photographs were not allowed, so I have none to share on this post.

Galbraith was interviewed by Val McDermid and it was a relaxed affair. Galbraith wore a smart suit and tie for the occasion and carried it off well! She stated that the reason she turned to crime – in a manner of speaking – following children’s fantasy – was because she had always read it and is a lover of the genre. So for us crime lovers, that is wonderful to hear. She is a classic crime lover. Preferring the whodunnits like Christie and Allingham. She talked about squealing and dancing around her kitchen when she got a glowing blurb from McDermid before anyone knew her identity. A funny thought considering her highly regarded prowess with a keyboard, but writers are insecure creatures. And she did confirm that the reason she attempted to go it alone and undercover of pen name was to see if she could make it without her name giving her the advantage. Hence the dancing in the kitchen.

She talked about her character Strike and said she has no plans to stop writing him, so crime fans of this series can sit easy. She is happy in the genre and knows enough about him to keep going.

One thing she did say, was that she wished she had been published after she had been married, that way she would be J. K. Murray and everyone would know how to say that, but as it is everyone gets her name wrong. So, for your information – you pronounce is Rowling as in Rolling, like rolling down a hill :)

And here’s my signed book of The Silkworm!

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More on Harrogate tomorrow….

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What’s Your First Draft Like? – Tim Adler

 

Today in the first draft hot seat is thriller writer Tim Adler.

Tim_Adler_headshot-copy (2)Tim Adler is an author and freelance journalist, who has written for Financial Times, The Times and the Daily Telegraph, among others.

Tim’s first book, The Producers: Money, Movies and Who Really Calls the Shots, was published in 2004. Bloomsbury published its follow-up Hollywood and the Mob, an exposé of how the Mafia has corrupted the movie industry. The Mail On Sunday made it Book of the Week while the Daily Mail picked it Critic’s Choice.

Tim is former London Editor of Deadline Hollywood, the entertainment business news website. Before that, he edited film trade magazine Screen Finance.

He writes for various B2B publications including Broadcast, Screen International and Television Business International. And he regularly features as a pundit on BBC Radio 4’s Today, BBC Breakfast and Sky News.

When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?

I have two separate, well, careers seems too strong a word … strands to my writing life.

As a journalist and non-fiction author, I have written three nonfiction books, the most recent of which, The House of Redgrave was called “compulsively readable” by The Sunday Times.

And now I am trying to reinvent myself as a thriller writer with the publication in March of my debut Slow Bleed and now with Surrogate.

Non-fiction and fiction have completely different working methods.

Once I have decided on a non-fiction subject, I want to read everything I can about it and photocopy anything useful for filing away. On the Redgrave book I had two systems: one for things filed by subject matter and the other for people. What I was trying to do was create a family portrait of the Redgraves distilled from thousands of sources, almost like one of those pointillist paintings by Georges Seurat, where dots make up somebody’s face. Creating a timeline is one of the best things you can do – not only what was going on in your subject’s life, but also what was happening in the wider world. You get interesting juxtapositions.

For fiction it’s about getting the plot right.

The Americans have an ongoing debate as to whether you’re a plotter or a “pantster” – i.e. whether you make up everything by the seat of your pants. Jeffrey Deaver, on the other hand, often has hundreds of pages of notes which he carves the book out of, like a sculptor working in stone.

I’m somewhere in the middle.

Not having a plan would be like driving a car with permanently dipped headlights, not knowing where you’re going.

However there’s something, dare I say it, airless about Deaver’s work where you know everything has been worked out to the nth degree. It doesn’t have much élan. But if you’re writing a thriller, you have to know your plot twists, otherwise you are going to paint yourself into a corner pretty quickly.

Do you have a set routine approaching it?

Both Slow Bleed and Surrogate follow a three act structure, with rising crises at the end of acts one and two. At the end of act one, the hero or heroine find themselves in a new world which they must learn the rules of. In short, get your hero up a tree, throw rocks at him, and get him down by the end of the third act.

For Surrogate I used the Scapple mind-mapping software for the first time, which is great because it allows you to sketch your plot and move things around before importing it into Scrivener. I absolutely love Scrivener: it’s rock solid dependable as a writing platform.

I find the best way to know if a plot is any good is to sit somebody down and talk them through it. You can hear yourself whether something works because of the confidence in your voice. Other parts of the story will sound lame – a bit like a dud shot in squash hitting the tin. And this type of story is very much about wanting to entertain people. Car journeys are good because you’ve got a captive audience (laughs).

Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?

Each of my books has had a different working method.

For my first book, The Producers: Money, Movies and Who Really Calls the Shots – which argues that certain movie producers can be auteurs as much as directors – I decided to write the entire thing in longhand, thinking it would make it more authentic for some reason.

I was halfway through my second book Hollywood and the Mob, an expose of how the Mafia has corrupted Hollywood, when I met the Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative journalists Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swann, who sat me down and taught me how to really research a nonfiction book.

For that book I used a piece of software called Writer’s Blocks, trying to create a collage out of thousands of pieces of references but the software wasn’t really there yet. Copy kept disappearing. Scrivener on the other hand has a wonderful corkboard application that allows you to swap index cards around.

However for my next book, I’m thinking about going back to pen and paper. I hope that’s not too pretentious. Fiction is about transferring what’s going on in your head onto the page and there can be something glib about writing software … I mean, Scrivener makes everything look so good … when it’s really about those thoughts flowing down your arm and onto the page.

Because what you’re asking readers to pay for is your imagination. Basically, you’re saying to readers, “My imagination is stronger than yours.”

How important is research to you?

Slow Bleed 2Tremendously important. Obviously a nonfiction book is mostly about the quality of the research, and what you’ve dug up through your own probing. How much juice there is in it will define the success of the book.

Slow Bleed is a medical thriller about a surgeon whose son is kidnapped inside the hospital where she works. I interviewed a consultant obstetrician, a psychiatrist and an anaesthetist to make sure I got the medical details right. And Callum Sutherland, a retired Murder Squad detective who advises Lynda LaPlante on police procedure, was tremendously helpful on the mechanics of a murder investigation. My proudest moment came when my agent’s editor asked me how long I had been a doctor for.

Surrogate follows a childless couple who invite the surrogate mother they have paid to carry their baby to come and live with them. One day their surrogate disappears carrying their unborn child. Then they get a ransom demand. According to the police, no crime has been committed – by law their baby belongs to the surrogate. It’s down to them to find their surrogate and their baby. Barrie Drewitt Barlow of the British Surrogacy Centre advised me on surrogacy procedure.

How do you go about researching?

First, desktop research. My two most recent non-fiction books were researched using Factiva, which is a marvellous searchable database of every news story published. Each newspaper article was printed off and filed. I then drew up a hit list of people I wanted to interview. I only started The House of Redgrave once all the interviews were written up and filed.

How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?

By the time I’d finished The House of Redgrave my bedroom looked like the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, with boxes of material stretching into the distance.

Tell us how that first draft takes shape?

I start rereading the book from the very first page and only begin writing once I have caught up with where I left off, making changes as I go. I will only go back two or three chapters if I am too deep into a book. And I will break off mid-sentence where I know what’s going to happen next or what the dialogue is to help me pick up the following morning.

Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?

Because like most writers I have a day job, I try and carve out an hour each day before I go to work. Best of all I like writing in bed with a cup of coffee on the bedside table. I see it as giving my fiction writing the cream off the top of the milk, in terms of my energy and mental alertness, before the proper working day begins.

Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?

Writing seems to me a form of meditation or like doing yoga. It requires mental concentration like playing a hand of bridge. Which is why you can sometimes feel so exhausted by the end of it – using your imagination is hard work. And occasionally my sacred hour of doing my own work just flashes by.

What does your work space look like?

Woody Allen once said that he could work on a subway train if he had too. I doubt that. Increasingly I need to work in silence, and I have heard of some writers even blindfolding themselves, wearing noise cancelling headphones and touch typing blindly. It’s about going deeper into your imagination.

I have a lovely desk with a Lenovo PC set-up; like Scrivener, Lenovo computers are real workhorses.

tim_adler_desk_#1 (2)

Occasionally I do like to work at the British Library in London, especially if I’m researching something. It’s comforting to be surrounded by soft coughing and the sound of turning pages. You’re alone in a crowd.

Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?

Good writing is about boiling sentences down until they are as simple and exact as possible. I like to edit the copy as I go, smoothing and untangling sentences like a woman brushing her hair until it shines.

I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?

At best I only have an hour each day to do my own work, so word counts don’t matter to me. In fact, I want to avoid typing for the sake of it – that’s the danger of word processors in that they make you think you’re getting words down on the page when really all you’re doing is typing. So even if it was just five words in one hour, I would be happy with that. Wasn’t it Flaubert who said that he spent a morning putting a comma in, and the afternoon removing it? My natural flow though is around five hundred words an hour for fiction and about seven hundred wph when it comes to journalism.

So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?

I like to rewrite as I go along, so the first draft is really the fifth, sixth or seventh draft. However that first putting digit to keyboard is what I call “the muscle draft” where all the heavy lifting goes on. Anything else is just prettying up — cutting, polishing and rewriting.

Both novels took about nine months to get to the stage where I could show them to somebody asking for their opinion.

In what format do you like to read it through, ereader, paper or the computer screen?

Working journalists always proofread on paper. You catch more errors that way than working on screen. What I do is get a blank sheet of A4, hold it over the copy, and then work my way down line by line marking as I go. At one point I was chief sub-editor on a trade magazine so I use standard proofreading marks.

What happens now that first draft is done?

tim_adler_notebook (2)It’s time for the dreaded beta reader.

I have found that it’s hopeless asking non-writers for their opinion. They just nod and say, “It’s really good.”

I am also sceptical about paying people for editorial services. On Slow Bleed I made the foolish mistake of handing over what was for me a considerable amount of money for a set of notes from the script development head of a famous film company. What I got back was useless. When I complained to the owner, he told me cheerfully, “Oh yes. I’ve never known any script improve once it’s been through her hands.”

Fellow working writers are much more specific in their criticisms as they can spot what works and what doesn’t. One of the most enjoyable afternoons I’ve had recently was going through the plot of my next thriller with Rohan Gavin, author of Knightley & Son. I think the Americans call it breaking story, lifting up the bonnet and getting your hands dirty.

Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.  

You can find Tim Adler on his WebsiteAmazon and Twitter

Surrogate

Surrogate_cover_final (2)How much is your child worth?

That’s the question Hugo and Emily Cox must answer when they get a ransom demand for their child – from Alice, the surrogate mother they paid to carry
their baby.

The police are helpless. No law has been broken — the
baby belongs to their surrogate. And Hugo has a secret he’s keeping from his wife that makes their search even more desperate.

Now Hugo and Emily must find their missing
daughter… even if it costs them everything they own.

Surrogate.

 

To read any of the previous First Draft Q&A’s you can check the list Here.

To be a part of the First Draft series, just get in touch and let me know. Along with the answers to the questions, I’ll need a profile photograph, a first draft photograph and three links that you feel are your most important. Also at the bottom of the piece, you can have your most recent book details.

 

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Crime Book Club Apologies and Next Months Read

I want to apologise to all Crime book club members for last nights short notice cancellation. I hope that I managed to get the message out to all who would have been attending. I put the message out on Twitter and on Google+ where the Hangout is held.

Briefly, what happened is bad planning on my part. The book club is held on the third Wednesday of the month so the date was set. What I didn’t click with was that my teenage daughter was returning that afternoon from her first holiday abroad and she wanted to catch up and order a takeaway, so family priorities came first. I need to look in my diary for clashes like that in the future to prevent such a thing happening again.

The next meeting is Wednesday 20th August and it looks all clear in my diary! The winning book for next months summer read is;

Murder in Mykonos by Jeffery Sigir

MykonosA young woman on holiday to Mykonos, the most famous of Greeceas Aegean Cycladic islands, simply disappears off the face of the earth. And no one notices.
That is, until a body turns up on a pile of bones under the floor of a remote mountain church. Then the islandas new police chiefathe young, politically incorrect, former Athens homicide detective Andreas Kaldisastarts finding bodies, bones, and suspects almost everywhere he looks.
Teamed with the canny, nearly-retired local homicide chief, Andreas tries to find the killer before the media can destroy the islandas fabled reputation with a barrage of world-wide attention on a mystery thatas haunted Mykonos undetected for decades.
Just when it seems things canat get any worse, another young woman disappears and political niceties no longer matter. With the investigation now a rescue operation, Andreas finds himself plunging into ancient myths and forgotten island places, racing against a killer intent on claiming a new victim who is herself determined to outstep him.

I hope to see you there and hope I am forgiven for last night!

 

HarrogateOn another note, I am off to Harrogate today for Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival. If you follow me on Twitter you will see lots of tweets and photographs coming from the 4 day event over the weekend. You will find me @RebeccaJBradley. Blog posts will also follow. It’s a long weekend, but worth the effort as the people there are absolutely wonderful. I look forward to sharing it with you.

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Back in June (I know – I’m terribly slow.) I was awarded the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

Thank you Hannah! You should check Hannah’s blog out named, very aptly Hannah Reads Stuff, so as you can imagine, it’s very bookish. You’d love it.

Here are the rules of the award:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Optional: display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Inspiring

Seven facts? That’s scary. What can I share that won’t have you all running for the hills screaming?

Ok, let’s try;

  1. Standing proud for those who still live with bullying and showing it can be survived – I was bullied at junior school where I wore a fixed brace on my teeth and was called Jaws (from the Bond films).
  2. I can drink in excess of ten cups of tea in a day.
  3. I hate feet. Every-one’s. Even Patrick Swayze’s in Dirty Dancing in that log scene.
  4. I long to be more organised.
  5. I hate to follow the crowd, deliberately refusing to read books because everyone else is doing so.
  6. I’m not a confident person.
  7. I jumped out of a plane for charity and loved every single minute of it.

Now to pass on the award. This is always the difficult part with awards, some bloggers don’t take part in awards, some have already done them. I’ll list some great blogs that you should visit for all things books and/or crime, no pressure on the listed names.

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#BookadayUK by Doubleday books in July

July sees Doubleday books take over the bookish #bookadayUK Twitter hashtag from Borough Press who ran it in June. It involves a list that covers every day of the month, provided by the publisher, which lends itself to you providing a book that fits that particular day for you.

This month Doubleday are giving away prizes. Yes you heard me right, prizes. Book prizes!

#Doubleday

And guess who won last week?! What, you can’t? Oh go on then, let me tell you.

Me!

Yes, the wonderful team at Doubleday sent me two great books that I can’t wait to get stuck into. (No I haven’t yet as I’m reading this months crime book club book at the minute.)

Doubleday

So, if you haven’t yet started engaging with this fabulous, quick and quirky book hashtag, it’s very much worth doing. So, what’s stopping you? Go! Tweet your #BookadayUK!

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What’s Your First Draft Like? – David Bastiani

DavidTodays first drafter is David Bastiani. David states on his website that he writes words and sometimes they end up in the right order.

He is the creator of Milo Peretti – Rome’s newest private detective – and is currently working on The Colour of Weeping – the first full novel in the Peretti series.

He lives with his wife and their young family in Cheshire.

 

When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?

Brainstorm. I write lists of ideas for titles, themes, character names, places, images. Anything to hang a story on really. The title has become really important for me so I often start there. I like to have an overall feel for what I’m doing and where I’m going before I start writing a story.

Do you have a set routine approaching it?

There’s nothing set in stone. Although, I do tend to brainstorm first, write a few chapters and then go back and write a full synopsis to help guide the rest of my writing. Having said that, I’m always looking for ways to improve and that includes my writing process. Ask me again in a year’s time and I might be doing it completely different. I think being adaptable is where it’s at.

Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?

Only ever keyboard.  If I have an idea when I’m not at my computer then I make a note of it on my smartphone. Pen and paper takes too long and gets too messy when you want to change things later.

How important is research to you?

Fairly important. Obviously, no-one wants a factually incorrect book, even when it comes to writing fiction, but it’s easy to overdo it. Too many authors sound like they’re regurgitating what they read on Wikipedia and it all ends up very dry and boring. Get your story down while it still grips you and come back to check the details later.

How do you go about researching?

I’m a product of Generation Y so I use the internet. A lot. That can only take you so far, of course. Quite often, there’s no substitute for getting out there and doing the legwork yourself but the internet is too powerful a tool to ignore. You can go anywhere and see anything at the click of button. What’s not to like?

How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?

You’ve probably already guessed the answer to this question… Online, of course. I’ve got files of photos stored on my hard drive but all my other ideas tend to be stored on email. It makes them easy to transfer and means I don’t have duplicate documents all over the place. I can access my email anywhere.

Tell us how that first draft takes shape?

Usually pretty slowly if I’m honest. I’d love to be able to devote a couple of months to a project and get the whole thing down as quickly as possible but I write part time and that’s just not going to happen at the moment. So I write whenever I get the opportunity. A few hours or a few minutes – I just keep chipping away and I get there eventually.

Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?

Not really. I don’t conform to the writer stereotype, I’m afraid. I don’t need coffee, alcohol or half a dozen cats in order to write. Although if the ‘just sit down and start writing’ approach doesn’t pay off then I suppose some or all of those three might be worth a try!

Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?

The outside definitely exists for me. Between work and family, it’s often pretty inescapable. So it’s important to be able to compartmentalize. To be able to switch off from everything else and focus on writing. I find music helps with that. I listen to a lot of film soundtracks which helps create a little bubble where I can concentrate on writing. Songs with lyrics are a big no no for me though. They’re way too distracting.

What does your work space look like?

Pretty minimalistic. I don’t really do clutter. It’s just a desk and my computer. Oh, and my phone. I do have a clear view out of the window to the train track across the road though. Nothing beats writing with a backdrop of trees, blue sky and the occasional train going by. I don’t really need anything else.

Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?

I definitely edit as I go. My brain refuses to produce anything new until I’ve dealt with the things I know need correcting. My thought process is quite linear so I need to leave things neat and tidy behind me as I go along. Having a clear view of where I’ve been with the story helps me get a clear view of where it’s going.

David draft

I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?

I do keep track of my word count but I try not to worry about it too much. It’s just a tool to keep me on track. I know it’s a cliché but I’d like to think I aim for quality rather than quantity. Seeing a low word count gives me a kick up the backside when I’m going too slowly but that’s about it. If what you’re writing is firing your imagination then hopefully you won’t even notice how many hours or how many words have gone by.

So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?

Probably longer than I wanted! A full novel will take me about a year depending on work and family commitments. It’s almost ready for publishing – until I start rereading and editing and then suddenly it isn’t anywhere near ready. I have my ups and downs like any writer does. Veering between wanting to delete the whole thing and start again and convincing myself that it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. The first draft is really just the start but I’d like to think that plotting beforehand and editing as I go means I’m closer to having something readable.

In what format do you like to read it through, ereader, paper or the computer screen?

I read it through on the computer so I can makes changes as I go along. Then I put it onto an ereader and go through it all again. That way I tend to spot things I’d miss on the computer screen otherwise.

What happens now that first draft is done?

I leave things to rest for a while then give it one last going over before sending it out for proofreading and editing. And try not to worry about it too much. There’s no such thing as a perfect novel but the more you write, the closer you’re going to get. That’s all you can do – just keep writing.

Thanks for digging into the depths for us David. 

You can find David on Amazon, his Website or Twitter.

Blood Will Tell

Blood will tellMILO PERETTI is back in Rome to take over the running of his late uncle’s detective agency. When the body of a businessman is found at an office nearby in Trastevere, the grieving mother refuses to believe her son took his own life. But with the Polizia di Stato preparing to close the case as suicide, will Peretti ever really uncover the truth? And will justice ever be done?

 

 

 

 

To read any of the previous First Draft Q&A’s you can check the list Here.

To be a part of the First Draft series, just get in touch and let me know. Along with the answers to the questions, I’ll need a profile photograph, a first draft photograph and three links that you feel are your most important.

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