Thursday, 1 February 2018

Reasons to write a Crime Novel

Have you ever thought up a good crime plot and fancied getting it down on the page? I'm delighted to be joined today by author Val Penny who discusses the very subject - writing crime! Sit back and enjoy! :) 

Reasons to Write a Crime Novel

People like crime, at least in novels! Often, I meet dentists and bank managers with clever plot ideas, or nurses who read every crime novel they can lay their hands on. If I visit a writing group, there are always members keenly producing new murderous plots. Lawyers and convicts show equal enthusiasm for this genre. For those who want to write a crime novel, there are several reasons to want to do so. Here are a few of them.

Emotional Release

Often, those who write crime novels find an emotional release in their craft. Crime novelists deal with the dark things that people usually push to the side of their minds in order to get on with every day life. The cathartic attraction of writing can be decisive.

Some crime authors tell of poor sleep patterns, punctured by night-mares that are repaired when they start to write. Others panic, constantly scanning doorways for signs of danger. The stiffening fear that afflicts them resolves when they are busy writing crime.

The Story-Telling Urge

The sources for crime novels are many and varied. Ideas can spring from the news and current affairs; memories from the past and historical events or things that puzzle or fascinate the writer. Once an author begins to exercise their creative muscles, they often find that they run into stories demanding to be told. The stories demand to be told and will not stop coming.

For Companionship

It is often said that writers can be difficult people: gloomy, competitive and quarrelsome. However, for the most part, I have found crime writers to be an inclusive and convivial bunch. They are certainly hard-working. The pressure of producing a book a year is intense, yet they never seem to turn their backs on fun. If you have a chance to go to a crime-writers' convention, do take it. They are exhausting, exhilarating and irresistible.

An Outlet for Aggression

Most crime-writers will tell you that they are good company because they channel all their belligerent thoughts into their stories, so in real life, the authors are meek and mild. It is not always true, but I can confirm that a crime novel is an excellent place to park your rage! The prospect of giving vent to righteous anger in a safe form can be a particularly pleasing device. When characters require to act in a violent way or commit violence the reader is willing to witness this on the page but they would shy from it in real life. Crime writers can let rip on the page in a way they avoid doing in the real world.

The Thrill of Research

I can personally confirm that the research you do for crime novels and for academic purposes are equally satisfying. It is also extremely diverse. It may involve visiting prisons, refuges, police stations or drug dens. Police are often very willing to be of assistance to crime writers, even if it is just to avoid being irritated when otherwise the writers would get police procedures wrong. This information is most useful and helpful. Indeed, when you are writing a novel, no information or experience is wasted! ~ Val Penny 

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

DI Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city and he needs to find the source but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman's life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter's perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.
Friends of Hunter's Chase -

Friday, 26 January 2018

Guest Author - Lizzie Chantree

I'm delighted to be joined today by author Lizzie Chantree. Lizzie is the best-selling author of three novels with a fourth published very recently!   

Hi Lizzie! Thanks so much for joining me on my blog today! You are already a successful published author – please tell me about the books you have already had published? 

Thank you for the compliment! My first three books are called Babe Driven, Love’s Child and Finding Gina. They are about the love lives of eccentric entrepreneurs, but are full of friendship, romance and surprises. My aim is to write books that make people smile. I began my first business at the age of 17 and the process of making the ideas work and the creativity and support needed to keep the business alive, fascinates me. Through my writing, I am able to imagine what it would be like to run some pretty crazy businesses! 

Sounds fantastic! You also have a new novel which has just been released. Please tell me a little bit about that.  

My new release is called Ninja School Mum. It’s about a woman who is trying to create a stable environment for her child, but she has a problematic past that keeps crashing into her daily life. The main character, Skye, is obsessive compulsive, she hates other people and yet she’s doing her best to be a better version of herself the sake of her son. She’s a single parent with skills! She starts a new business to try and ease her way into the lives of the local community and then many unexpected things start to happen.

I love the sound of that! I've noticed you have a great online presence. What's your preference - Facebook or Twitter? 

I like both Facebook and Twitter, but my preference is Twitter. You will find me on there daily, as I like to see what everyone is doing and update my readers about my latest work. I run a networking hour for creatives or anyone who enjoys creativity. It’s every Monday and it’s very fast to keep up with, but hilarious! The people are supportive of each other and they enjoy networking, so it’s great fun. 

I will have to log in for that! As for the writing side of things, can you tell me about your writing routine – how do you settle yourself down to write? 

I get very easily distracted by social media and the little notes I write myself and stick around my studio. I’ve now bought a big notepad with 'To Do’ lists in it, to try and be more efficient. It’s working so far! I tend to begin writing at 9am and can still be there until 2pm, when I have family commitments. I work from 6-11pm on a Monday too, on my networking session. I can sometimes write 100 words a day and another time over 5,000 a day for a week. There really is no routine to it. I write in my car while I’m waiting for my children, at a desk while they do sports, in cafés, or anywhere! I don’t have to be in a quiet corner of my studio. 

Sounds very disciplined - good for you! How do you balance your time between writing and marketing? 

It’s tricky. I find marketing can take over, but I love to learn new things about writing and have met some great friends through networking. It takes dedication, but it’s really worth the effort. I try and get writing done first, but always have lists of other jobs to do. My top tip for marketing is that it doesn’t have to cost you money, just a bit of  time. If you are happy to learn, then there is so much information out there to help you. 

What’s your favourite thing about writing/ being published? 

Meeting people who have enjoyed my writing. It’s such a wonderful feeling when someone says they can relate to your story, or that they wish they were friends with the characters in my books! I really enjoy discovering other authors i’ve not met before too. 

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? 

Get the words onto paper. You can’t edit a blank page. Be more organised than I am! Join book and author groups and make friends. These contacts will support you on your journey to publication. 

What do you love doing when not writing? 

When I’m not writing, I paint huge landscapes. I also enjoy reading anything from design, architectural, fashion, technology, science books, to fairy stories! I absolutely love going to the pictures with friends or family too. 

What was the book you read that made you think “I’d love to write!”? 

The Hobbit. I read it in school and I still remember holding the book and thinking, wow!

Lastly – a fun question – can you tell us about a funny/ embarrassing memory? 

I embarrass my children daily, or so they tell me! 

My daughter had just started a new school and had her first trip. I was going with her and was stressed as I didn’t know anyone yet. I was chatting to a lovely lady the whole way there about life and the children on the bus. As we got off the coach, I asked her which year her children were in. She just looked at me strangely and simply said …’I’m the headmistress.’ 

I’d only seen her from the back of the school hall before and in a suit, so in jeans and a jumper I thought they appeared similar, but then thought nothing more about it. I’ve been on so many school trips in primary school, but the head of the school had never joined us, so it didn’t occur to me they could be there. My daughter rolled around the floor in fits of giggles when I told her, then proceeded to loudly tell all her friends on the drive home how her mum had such a terrible memory, while I cringed in the corner and pretended to be asleep!

Thank you so much for joining me today Lizzie, and wishing you much success with this great book! :) 

Author bio:
Award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now runs networking hours on social media, where creative businesses, writers, photographers and designers can offer advice and support to each other. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. 

Social media links:

Book links:

Friday, 8 December 2017

Very intriguing book..... "The Soulweaver"

Today I am delighted to chat to author of The Soulweaver. This book sounds super intriguing to me and I can't wait to read it! I listened to the author read the opening chapter on a Facebook Live Video and the first line really pulled me in. The author of this book has also won awards and is super talented. I'm truly honoured to have her chat with me on my blog today. Hello Heidi Catherine!

Heidi, I’m delighted to have you on my blog today and I loved watching your live Facebook videos where you chat about your upcoming novel. It sounds very intriguing! Can you give us the first line of the novel and a little blurb as to what it’s about? 

Thanks for having me, and for your lovely words! It’s great to be here.

The Soulweaver is a story about a girl who is plagued by memories of having lived before. As these memories sharpen, she finds herself having to choose between the man she loved in her past life and the man she loves now.

Here are the opening lines…

“Hannah’s life began the day she died. It had happened before – both the dying and the beginning. She didn’t know it, though. All she knew was now.”

What inspired you to write this novel? 

When I was a little girl, I asked my mother what would happen if a widow remarried, only to one day find herself in heaven with two husbands. My quick-thinking mother told me that in heaven there's no jealousy, only pure love. I thought about this over the years, with this seed of thought unexpectedly flourishing into The SoulweaverWriting this book gave me a wonderful opportunity to really explore this concept.

Can you tell me about that moment when you decided to sit down and write your first novel? How did you get over any hurdles of fear or doubt? 

I wrote my first novel when I was in my twenties. It was a middle grade novel, which I mistakenly thought would be easy. Several rejections from publishers soon told me that it wasn’t as easy as I thought. Feeling discouraged, I abandoned writing until my thirties. This time I tried my hand at writing romance novels, again naively thinking it would be easy (I’m a slow learner). After several more rejections from publishers, I finally decided to write the kind of book that I’d love to read. That was when I really fell in love with writing. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed doing anything as much as I enjoyed writing The Soulweaver. I’m in my forties now and actually glad it took me this long to get published. I really needed the life experience (and the writing experience!) to put together a story like this. I’m also glad that a few scenes contained within those romance manuscripts will never see the light of day ;-) As for the fear, hurdles and doubt… there have been plenty of those along the way (and they’re still there today), but I have a wonderful support network of people who are happy to shout at me when I feel like giving up. Failure is never an option.

Please can you tell me about your writing routine – how do you settle yourself down to write? 

I get rid of drop my kids off at school and return to a blissfully quiet house. I usually have a look at my email and social media and answer anything urgent, then I light a candle, put on some music, read my angel cards, settle into work and hope the phone doesn’t ring.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors who would love to write but don’t know where to start? 

Don’t do what I did! Don’t write a book that you think will be easy. Write a book that you would love to read. Because no matter how good a writer you are, if your heart isn’t in it, then it will show. Also join as many writing groups and organisations as it takes until you ‘find your tribe’. Having likeminded people to share this lonely ambition with can make all the difference. Nobody will understand why you have puffy red eyes after the death one of your characters like your writing friends will.

What do you love doing when not writing? 

I love the beach and am lucky enough to have a house down the coast where I go with my family most weekends. I spend a lot of my ‘free’ time walking my dogs, gardening and being a slave to my children.

Was there a book you read that made you think “I’d love to write!”? 

The moment I finished reading The Hunger Games I began writing The Soulweaver. The stories aren’t very alike, other than having a heroine torn between two heroes, but I was inspired to create my own world where I could put my characters in impossible situations and see how they react. The Hunger Games explores love in many forms, not just romantic. We see a girl risk her life for her sister, a mother who loves her daughters yet is unable to look after them, and a man driven to alcohol after the death of his family. These are the kinds of relationships that fascinate me. And who wouldn’t want to be as successful as Suzanne Collins!

Lastly – a fun question – can you tell us about a funny/ embarrassing memory? 

A long time ago when I was young and silly, I was on holiday in Far North Queensland and I got talked into doing a bungy jump. I stood on the platform for a crazy long time with the staff doing several countdowns, but somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to jump. Eventually one of the guys picked me up by my hands and lowered me over the edge. Instead of letting go of him, I grabbed onto the platform for dear life and the poor guy had to prise off my fingers until I fell. My family like to remind me that I haven’t bungy jumped, I’ve bungy dropped. It was awful! Never again.

Heidi Catherine can be found hanging out in the following clubs: 


Finally, as an extra treat, here's a link to  FREE prequel novelette called The Moonchild which introduces you to two of the main characters from The Soulweaver in the lifetime they lived before the book takes place.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Journey to Publication! - Isabella May

Ever wanted to become a published author? Today I'm delighted to be joined by my fellow Crooked Cat author Isabella May, who tells me all about her journey to publication! 

The Journey to Publication:

Oh! What a Pavlova

I guess the clues that I would one day become an author have always been there…

As a toddler I’d sit for hours on the potty with a pile of books at my feet, refusing to move until I had ‘read’ through them all, Mum dragging me off in the end to stop the ring on my bottom getting any redder or larger!

I have been scribbling and verbalizing in one way or another for as long as I can remember. As a young child I would invent stories (along with my little sister) about people we knew… as well as fictional characters - Worzel Gummidge, Aunt Sally and Emu to name a few. They would usually trail behind us in our hire car, chasing us through the mountains on holidays in Portugal and Cyprus – I know; I was a little bit ‘kooky’ to say the least! 

And when I wasn’t doing that I was penning equally random and daft tales about the neighbours on our street, together with very amateur felt-tip illustrations. Thankfully my story-telling abilities have moved up several notches, even if my artistry hasn’t.

When it came to reading, I wouldn’t say I was as book-wormish as some of my friends. I adored Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers. I wished (oh, I wished!) that I went to that boarding school where everything seemed to be fun and games. I must have got into reading those stories when I’d just started high school, and they offered up a safe haven of contrast to the school bullies who made it their daily mission to become my shadow at the time. Shortly before that, at primary school, I was in love with the busy madcap world of Richard Scarry. The illustrations captivated me, transporting me to another fun world full of endless possibilities.

But eventually, when writing is the path you just have to get back on, it will sneak up on you when you least expect it. The universe will drop hints like that. 

Marriage and children came along, but even before then, I had started to toy with the idea of a novel. I had a burning desire to write about domestic violence (something I had encountered in a former relationship), but I had a desire to write about it very differently, to dispel the misconception that an abusive relationship is abusive all the time: it is not. I also wanted to portray a very honest picture of the way D.V can splinter the victim’s life. Quite often they are leading a double life, their outer façade so astonishingly different to the unthinkable acts they are tolerating behind closed doors. Ultimately though, I wanted to create a story with a message of empowerment for any woman or man who is currently feeling anything but strong.

That’s why ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ contains so many diverse subjects, and it’s why it mixes satire with a more serious subject. Laughter can play a very important role when it comes to devising a coping mechanism.

And yet, putting all of these ideas to one side, there was still a literary mountain to climb. It was around this time (and a couple of years after the stillbirth of my second child, a tragedy you never quite get over as a parent), that I stumbled across a little something called the Law of Attraction.

Perhaps it sounds clichéd to say it, but suddenly many things in my life started to make sense, and so many opportunities ‘just happened’ to come my way. Things like… two writers’ groups starting up a few miles either side of my house. I met with a super talented author who was about to put on a six week course. I met two other writers with whom an online magazine was formed (The Glass House Girls – Now my writing skills were really starting to enable me to polish up the manuscript that was once a very rough diamond! I shall forever be thankful for it.

And so here I am. ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ was given a final polish last year. I began subbing her out in November. In March I was signing my very first publishing contract.

‘Pavlova’ is a tale of cake meets domestic violence, travel, spirituality, comedy, and a bid for freedom in the arms of many an unsuitable man… all set against the backdrop of the weird and wonderful characters of the publishing industry. It also features Glastonbury, a town I have long believed is totally under-represented when it comes to fiction! 

Crooked Cat Books ‘got it’ immediately and signed me up. They truly are the perfect publishing home for a writer like me, for they champion a multitude of authors who cross genres, touching on a number of important subjects, celebrating fabulous fiction in all its guises. Our author community is super supportive and I feel very blessed! The universe definitely delivered.

You can follow Isabella May on her website and social media here:

Twitter - @IsabellaMayBks

Instagram - @isabella_may_author

Oh! What a Pavlova

Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation. 

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Monday, 24 July 2017

Paperback arrival!

Very exciting news here today! I've just received the paperback copy of my novel # 3 - THE YEAR OF NO RULES. It's so lovely to see it in print! 

Please check out my short video below. 

And do please pre-order a copy! The pre-order copy is super cheap! Here's the link:

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Chit-chat about my Slimming World journey

Dieting and weight loss. Is there a woman out there who hasn't dieted at some stage or another? Well I am certainly no exception. Since working from home two years ago, the weight slowly began to creep on. I was no longer walking home from work or walking around town at lunchtimes. All that exercise adds up on a daily basis! Added to that, the doctor prescribed me medication which slowed me down and made me too inactive to exercise. 

After trying calorie counting and Slimfast, (neither worked for me), I decided to join Slimming World. I knew a few girls who had tried this in the past and had fantastic results so I knew it worked. 

I went along to my first few classes and had my doubts. There was so much 'free' food that I was allowed to eat. How on earth would I lose weight if I was eating loads of pasta and potatoes each day? 

But I kept going, kept turning up for the weekly class and began to learn about 'speed foods' and 'protein foods'. As long as half of my plate (or a third of my plate) was speed, I was on track! 

Right enough, the weight began to come off and I have lost half a stone so far! :) I have another half stone to go and then I'll see if I want to lose any more than that. It's a "diet" that I feel can be sustainable. I don't feel starving or deprived and yet I'm losing weight! Result! 

I've also started cooking a lot more, which I love. I find that pottering around in the kitchen is so relaxing and therapeutic. It helps me to cook up ideas for my next chapter! ;) Here's some pics on a sausage casserole I made. Absolutely delicious and totally filling!