Thursday, 20 December 2012

Saturday, 15 December 2012

'Murder At Mansfield Park' - Lynn Shepherd

I opened 'Murder At Mansfield Park' with two thoughts...
1) I could really like this. I'm a huge fan of Jane Austen and anything remotely linked to the classical authoress should be right up my street.
2) I could really hate this. Anything that alters the text of the brilliant Jane Austen could really annoy me. Surely she is too special for anyone to toy with her work...

Fortunately, I found I loved Lynn's edition of 'Murder At Mansfield Park'. It held me captive from the first to the last word.  For those of you who haven't read it, I will try not to give too much of the plot away, but some of it is as per the original so feel I can mention that.

The main character of the original text, Fanny Price, is altered in Lynn's edition. This adjusted personality gives the novel new opportunities and Lynn grabs these with carefully crafted skill.  Mary Crawford and her brother Henry still arrive in the mists of Mansfield Park, as per the original, but their characters are altered too. Mary appears a much pleasanter person in Lynn's edition and takes the lead role throughout the novel.  Edmund Bertram takes a new position in Lynn's version as the son of Aunt Norris rather than the second son of the Bertram family. The other Bertram children are largely as per the original text.

The victim is well chosen and apt, given the twists that Lynn develops, and the murderer especially well plotted.

If I had to name one thing about the book that I enjoyed the most I would have to say Charles Maddox - Lynn's detective. Charles, needless to say, is not one of Austen's characters but Lynn's own private investigator. His character is brilliant, a breath of fresh air and clevely blended into the setting of the Austen world.

Charles Maddox is featured in Lynn's second novel, 'Tom-All-Alones', which I purchased and read on the strength of 'Murder At Mansfield Park'. I thoroughly enjoyed the second novel too.  Treat yourself this Christmas...

Barbara Erskin - 'Hiding From The Light'

On my bookshelves I have fairly limited space.  Books jostle for a permanent slot as more and more enter my sphere. Most are read and moved into the storage box but a few select volumes of utter brilliance manage to retain their space on the shelf.  I first read this book in 2002 and needless to say, it has never left the shelf, except to be re-read repeatedly.

'Hiding From The Light' features the fictional characters of the modern day inhibited by the real life historical characters' ghostly spirits, bidding them to evil doing.  Emma Dickson feels drawn to the cottage in Mistley, Essex, which once belonged to her ancester Liza - a white witch, prosecuted and hung by the Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins.  Of course Matthew Hopkins was a real person but the tale picks up the magical essence and draws his character to fit the fictional narrative with literary skill.
Emma leaves a good job in the city and her partner, Piers, to buy and move into Liza's cottage, compelled by its magnetic qualities.  The relocation changes her life, ruins her relationship with Piers, and ends her city career, but as in all good fictional narratives, all is not lost. The promise of a better life is strong, if only Emma can overcome the spirit of Sarah Paxman, the ghost of many years prior seeking revenge on Hopkins for the murder of Liza.
Mistley's rector, Mike Sinclair, is reluctantly overtaken by the ghost of Matthew Hopkins and local modern day witch, Lyndsey Clark, declares herself a distant relative of Emma, and insists she as Sarah kill Mike as Matthew Hopkins.  Mike's lay preacher Judith Sadler is only too keen to see Mike struggling with the issues in his parish, wanting nothing more than to take over his position as parish vicar. Local residents Alex and Paula are drawn into the historical drama and tradegy soon follows. Paula resents Lyndsey's baby sitting duties of their children but Alex, like the good-hearted neighbour, wants to help Lyndsey and Emma.  As the historical fiction continues with Liza's arrest and cruelly unfair trial, Sarah Paxman fights to save her without success and ends up being tested by Matthew Hopkins as a witch herself. The test is interestingly unjust and historically accurate, as far as I can ascertain.
To add an edge to the drama, Barbara clevely includes the sub-plot of TV filming for Halloween in a haunted empty Mistley shop. The film makers manage to help out as the historical drama picks up pace and the modern day characters race agaisnt time to kill the spirits before the spirits kill them. To add that extra special twist, Emma and Mike fall in love but the spark is left to the readers imagination as the action takes center stage right up until the very last page. One of the smaller points in the story never leaves my memory; Emma's cats relocate with her but vanish as the action starts up towards the climax. As all creatures, in particular cats, their sixth sense kicks in and they safely return once peace returns to Mistley. It's a small extra but it really adds that hint of creditability to the tale.
'Hiding From The Light' is a fascinating read, fast paced and gripping, and belongs on every bookshelf in the land. I have purposefully not told you the outcome as I hope this feature will encourage you to give it a whirl yourself!

Barbara Erskin is an established author of historical fiction. She has a degree in medievial Scottish history from Edinburgh University. Barbara and her family split their time between the Welsh borders and their ancient manor house near the unspolit coast of North Essex. Barbara's novel 'Lady Of Hay' sold well over a million copies worldwide. 'Whispers In The Sand' was translated into twenty-three languages, and 'House of Echoes' was shortlisted for the WH Smith Thumping Good Read awards of 1995 and 1997, respectively followed by 'Distant Voices' and 'On The Edge of Darkness'.

Great Reads...

There are some authors who stand out from the crowds and here are just a few...

Alison Bruce - The DC Goodhew Series: 'Cambridge Blue', 'The Siren', 'The Calling', and 'The Silence'
Lynn Shepherd - 'Tom-All-Alones' and 'Murder At Mansfield Park'
Domenica De Rosa - 'Italian Quarter' and 'The Eternal City' plus others
Elly Griffiths - The Ruth Galloway series: 'The Crossing Places', 'The Janus Stone', 'The House at Seas End', and 'A Room Full of Bones' plus the new book out early 2013 'Dying Fall'.
Sarah Rayne - 'Ghost Song'
Joy Swift - 'The Joy of Murder'
Sophie Kinsella - 'Remember Me'
Murakami Haruki - 'Kafka On The Shore'
RD Wingfield - Inspector Frost series
Colin Dexter - Inspector Morse series
Jodi Piccoult - 'Salem Falls'
Nicola Upson - 'An Expert In Murder', 'Angel With Two Faces', and 'Two for Sorrow'
Nicholas Sparks - 'The Guardian' and 'Nights In Rodanthe'
Margaret Atwood - 'The Handmaid's Tale', 'Blind Assasain', 'Oryx & Crake', 'The Robber Bride' and 'Bodily Harm
Audrey Niffengger - 'The Time Traveller's Wife'
Julia Williams - 'Strictly Love'
Barbara Erskin - 'Hiding From The Light'
Kate Ellis - 'The Merchants House'
Anita Shrieve - 'The Pilot's Wife', 'The Last Time They Met', and 'Body Surfacing'
Lyndon Stacey - 'Murder In Mind'
Leigh Russell - 'Cut Short'
Joanne Harris - 'Chocolate'

Naturally, some of these authors have written several other books but these are a few of my favourites.

'Cut Short' by Leigh Russell

This year I've read countless books and I wondered if anyone would be interested in a quick overview.... I'll try not to give anything away in case you haven't read them.

Leigh Russell is a name to be reckoned with in the crime fiction scene and 'Cut Short' is the book that launched her into the sphere.

It introduces readers to DI Geraldine Steel, new to the Woolmarsh police station and very definitely the new girl in town in every respect. DI Steel battles to fit in, not only with her new colleagues, but with DCI Kathryn Gordon.  The young DS Peterson is keen to assist her and together they find themselves hunting down a serial killer.

Leigh builds a gripping tale by cleverly knitting together various aspects.  Geraldine is targeted with hate mail, which builds a back story of her character into the novel and aids her mission to blend into the new team at Woolmarsh.  We learn of Geraldine's past love life and the stains this has left her with.

The character of Jim Curtis is crafted with talent and skill. As if this wasn't enough there are various sub-plots associated with the killer's victims, that provide the reader with glimpes into the crime and why the victims were chosen.

'Cut Short' is a good read and comes with high recommendation.

Kindle Version Out by Christmas

The Kindle version of 'Distant Shadows' is due out before Christmas - hurray!!
Amazon UK Author Page

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

'Distant Shadows' New Review Quote

Great new review on Amazon for 'Distant Shadows'

The Silent Beginning

It is easy to write a book… or so they say.  Almost every writer has suffered in silence at one point or another when some kind-meaning reader or enthusiast stands there telling them how lovely it must be to write a novel, and how they are always meaning to start theirs, and how great it’ll be when it’s done.
Whilst writers love to talk to readers it can be a touch irritating hearing how straight forward it must be to write a book, when deep down they know that crafting a novel is pure hard work!  If only the poor unsuspecting public knew how difficult it is to sustain the smile whilst they are being told all this.  Naturally it would be impolite to correct the reader so many writers nod along with a pleasant smile.  It wouldn’t be fair to discourage people anyway, particularly from such a rewarding job.  Yes, it is not easy, but it is well worth the hard work so don’t be put off if you’re one of the millions all planning to pen your first novel next year.
Many writers often appear to come out of nowhere or arrive on the shelves or best sellers list overnight.  In reality this couldn’t be further from the truth.Like all professions, writers must develop their skills over time and serve their apprenticeship years.  What this usually refers to is the long stretch of time before anything they have written is ever published, but they continue to chip away, perfecting their craft gradually, hopefully leaning a few new tricks along the way.  One day an agent or publisher says yes, actually, I will take a chance on you, and the writer immediately leaps into the air in disbelief at having finally jumped the first hurdle.
The beginning of any writer’s career, before their work is published, is obviously unknown to the rest of the world.  It is the silent beginning, when hope is high and ambition strong, when chances seem minuscule and neigh impossible.  It’s the toughest time, so you think, until you take the next step and you find new challenges to content with.  This is probably true of life in general but we must plough on, if only to find out what happens!

Characters - how well do you know them?

How well do you know the characters in the book you’re currently reading?
It’s a question we rarely ask ourselves, but as writers, we must get to know our characters inside out if we want to attain the dizzy heights of fictional bliss.
Building a cast of fictional people in the readers’ minds can be fun and exhilarating but it takes work and dedication.  A character should appear to be a real person, all be it existing purely in a fictional or imaginary sense.  They need to have well-rounded physical appearances, quirky mannerisms to make them unique, faults and talents, accents, and appropriate names.
I find it helpful to create a personal history for each character.  This may or may not feature in the story, but it adds to their personality none the less, and helps me visualise them as real people when spinning the tale.  Just because the writer knows the tiny details about a character doesn’t necessarily mean all those minute points will end up in the novel.
It is an interesting question, whether or not to paint the picture of a character fully.  Do you, for instance, prefer to have a fully described individual down to hair and eye colour, height and additional details about their personality, the way they walk, their favourite colour, the way they react to news etc.  Maybe you prefer a less precise image, their movements likened to the slow crawl of the earth worm or their features chiselled into focus as they strain at the keyhole…. Before any writer can effectively draw a character in the readers mind, they need to understand their roles in the story, and consequently, the length to which that character should stand out from the cast.
So, I ask you, whether you are a reader or a writer, the next time you read a book have a little think about what you know of the main characters, and maybe one or two of the extras.  It could be fun, write down what you know about each character, then look back carefully and work out how much of this was actually given to you in the text, and how much you’ve plucked from your own imagination….  If a large portion is from your imagination then the writer has crafted the character to perfection – they are as you imagine them, fully formed in your own mind.  Job done!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Celebrating In Style!!


I wanted to share some exciting news with you; the launch of 'Distant Shadows' is being celebrated in style! It’s my second novel so I’m having two launch parties!

Party 1 at Waterstones Lowestoft
Wednesday 11th October 2012 - 7pm onwards
Free entry - to get your free tickets please email quantity required and your postal address to
©      Free refreshments including a fabulous feature cake
©      Background themed music
©      Copies available for purchase with optional author signature
©      Reading and Q&A session
©      Dedicated photographer
©      Local newspapers & radio stations invited
©      Families welcome
Venue details: Waterstones, 98 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1ET
Tel: 0843 290 8467 / Fax: 01502 585595.  E-mail:  Site:
Signing session at Waterstones Lowestoft on Saturday 13th October 2012 from 11am

Party 2 at Waterstones Hitchin
Wednesday 17th October 2012 - 6pm onwards
Free entry – to get your free tickets please email quantity required and your postal address to
©      Free refreshments
©      Live Music; we’re very lucky to have the highly talented Jacen Bruce playing themed and well-known tracks
©      Copies available for purchase and author signature
©      Reading and Q&A session
©      Dedicated photographer
©      Local newspapers & radio stations invited
©      Families welcome
Venue details: Waterstones, 32 Market Place, Hitchin SG5 1DY
Tel: 0843 290 8391 / Fax: 01462 422312.  E-mail:  Site:

Signing session at Waterstones Hitchin on Saturday 20th October 2012 from 2.30pm

Come and join the party to welcome 'Distant Shadows' to the shelves!! Chat casually with other like-minded folk and enjoy the fun.
Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Launch Party!!!

'Distant Shadows' Launch Party!!

Waterstones Hitchin
Wednesday 17th October 2012
6pm onwards

Free entry - to get your free tickets please email quantity required and your postal address to

Free refreshments including feature cake
Live themed musician
Copies available for purchase and author signature
Reading and Q&A session
Families welcome

Signing session at Waterstones Hitchin on Saturday 20th October 2012 from 2.30pm

Come and join the party to welcome 'Distant Shadows' to the shelves!! Chat casually with other like-minded folk and enjoy the fun.

Launch Party!!

'Distant Shadows' Launch Party!!

Waterstones Lowestoft
Wednesday 11th October 2012
7pm onwards

Free entry - to get your free tickets please email quantity required and your postal address to

Free refreshments including feature cake
Background themed music
Copies available for purchase and author signature
Reading and Q&A session
Families welcome

Signing session at Waterstones Lowestoft on Saturday 13th October 2012 from 11am

Come and join the party to welcome 'Distant Shadows' to the shelves!! Chat casually with other like-minded folk and enjoy the fun.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

'Distant Shadows'

Pleased to share the cover photo with you for 'Distant Shadows'; due for release 28th September 2012 - available to pre-order shortly before that at Waterstones, Amazon and WH Smiths.

Friday, 3 August 2012

London Shop 15th Aug - 14th Sept 2012

Pop along to this fabulous pop up shop - London Shop - nr Brick Lane - and buy a copy of 'Beneath The Daisies' on sale there from 15th August until 14th September 2012 - further details of shop launch party and full address to follow!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Opportunity Knocks!

Steve Norris - Opportunity Strikes!
Many thanks to Steve Norris for this fabulous opportunity - details here - and good luck to all those who venture forth!!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

'Distant Shadows'
Brand new details on my website regarding second book 'Distant Shadows' - read now for a sneak preview!!!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

'Bodies In The Bookshop'

In the middle: Richard Reynolds of Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge
Left of frame: Fellow discussion panel author, Rebecca Tope
Right of frame: Myself
Our panel was at 12noon on 14th July 2012 at Cambridge Union - 'Poison In The Parish'. We were fortunate enough to have an engaging crowd with plenty of questions. See you all again next year!!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Book Tour - very soon!

New Book Tour Coming Up!

They'll be a new book tour coming up for the release of 'Distant Shadows' - watch this space for details!  The photo above is just one of many last summer for 'Beneath The Daisies'. If you have anything in particular you'd like to see me please let me know by email: and I'll do my best to accommodate!

Jayne-Marie Barker

Friday, 6 July 2012

'Bodies In The Bookshop' 14th July 2012

Join us in the Cambridge Union for our biggest crime fiction event of the year!  This year Bodies in the Bookshop is relocating to the Cambridge Union (link to: where we have a fantastic line-up of crime authors who will be taking part in a series of themed talks and panel discussions.
The Union Bar and Cafe will also be open all day for food, drink and socialising and the traditional drinks reception will take place in the bar at 6.30pm.
10am  Crime Through Time I
Jane Finnis, Ruth Downie and Patrick Easter take us on a journey through time and space as they talk on historical crime fiction from Ancient Rome to Nineteenth Century England.
11am  Experts in Murder
Nicola Upson, Catriona McPherson and Laura Wilson give us a glimpse of a pre-war world of murder and mystery which their canny heroes and sharp heroines set about solving, while Sally Spedding adds a more sinister edge to the historical theme.
12 noon  Poison in the Parish
Settle in with Ann Purser, Veronica Heley, Rebecca Tope and Jayne Marie Barker who will be discussing mysteries with a distinctly English and traditional character.
1pm  Break for Lunch
Lunch will be available at the Union Cafe
1.30pm Crime Through Time II
Follow Ros Barber and Rory Clements to the criminal depths of Tudor England while Chris Nickson and Robin Blake transport us the 18th century and Peter Moore sheds light on the true crimes which took place in a rural Georgian village.
2.30pm Scene of the Crime
Jim Kelly, Alison Bruce and Elly Griffiths discuss their novels set in Cambridge and the surrounding area, bringing crime a little too close for comfort.
3.30pm  International Intrigue
Roger Morris, Edward Wilson and Adrian Magson take us from prerevolutionary Russia to 1960s France via the Cold War.  Detectives, spies and mysteries abound.
4.30pm Comic Cuts
Len Tyler and Suzette Hill in discussion on the funny side of crime.
5.30pm Death in a Cold Climate
Leading crime fiction expert Barry Forshaw and Quentin Bates, author of a crime fiction series set in Iceland, explore the growing popularity of Nordic Noir and Scandinavian settings.  Listen out for ideas on what to read after Stieg Larsson
6.30pm  Drinks reception in the Union Bar

Tickets: Adults £10, Concessions £7

Call 01223 463200 or come to Heffers to buy your ticket.

For more information email or visit the Bodies in the Bookshop facebook page or our blog at

Friday, 22 June 2012

'Bodies In The Bookshop' 14th July 2012

I'm delighted to have been accepted as one of the listed authors at the annual crime fiction event in Cambridge: 'Bodies In The Bookshop'. Pop along to Cambridge Union, 9a Bridge Street, Cambridge CB2 1UB from 10am onwards on Saturday 14th July2012 to meet me and many other crime writers. The event is run by Heffers Bookshop in Cambridge (Blackwells) every year. I've personally been to a previous event as a member of the public and can therefore recommend the event highly!

It's a must for every crime fiction fan!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

'Distant Shadows' - coming soon...

The second Inspector Allen mystery will be hitting the shelves this summer, approximately July/August....  'Distant Shadows' promises readers a mystery they'll never forget!

"One shot in the dark and everything changes.  When Richard Burkett shoots his victim in 1935, and gets away with it, he doesn’t expect to be caught over seventy years later.  The death of one man can affect so many lives…

Zoe Peterson is shocked to find two police detectives – one being the captivating DC James Clark –interviewing her grandparents about an unsolved murder.

Simultaneously Cathy and Stephen endure emotional turmoil in 1957.  The revelation of her father’s identity frightens Cathy.

Zoe is concerned about her father’s health and her ex won’t accept her ditching him; until James plants his size twelve’s firmly into her life.  Will finding the dying gunman and earning her grandparents’ gratitude be enough for James to win Zoe’s heart?

In 1957 someone is stalking Cathy, the shadows following her, the darkness choking her, until breaking point finds her in Stephen’s arms and the awful secret is revealed.  Wedded bliss could so easily be snatched away by terminal heartbreak.

A chance comment reminds James that the identity of the victim is more important than that of the murderer…"

Copyright: Jayne-Marie Barker

For further updates keep an eye on my website:, this blog, my facebook page or twitter.

Best wishes
Jayne-Marie Barker

Friday, 25 May 2012

Captivating The Reader

Everybody knows that the first line of any new story needs to hook the reader in an instant. If you're writing a story, whether it's a short piece, a full scale novel or even a non-fiction book, the opening paragraph is key. If you can't win your reader over on page one than you've double the effort to keep them turning to page two and beyond!

The first page, paragraph... let's get down to reality, it's the very first sentance that really counts.  Think about your opening word carefully and choose well!  It's just my humble opinion but the first piece a reader absorbs from your work should captivate them into reading on, and on, and on...  you get the picture!

It's not as tricky as it sounds, just pay a little extra attention and you'll find yourself set off on the right foot.

Jayne-Marie Barker

Monday, 21 May 2012

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A fresh glance...

A quick note to bring your attention to this fabulous blogspot managed by Crystal Allen -
Take a look...

Jayne-Marie Barker

Friday, 11 May 2012

Reading Between The Lines

It's not an easy job to proof read a document... this I know from experience. It can be easier to spot errors in a document written by somebody else, or even when you look at a prined page as opposed to a PC screen.  Checking your own words, now, that's another matter entirely.

Top tips:
  1. Read and read again - the first read through will never bring up everything.
  2. Underline - unless you're following specific proofing instructions then underline the word, phrase, spelling and write the amendments in the margin. It's much clear to spot then trying to write tiny letters above the text.
  3. Use a real dictionary - sounds obviousl but it's necessary. A dictionary will show you the correct spelling in the correct context and, most importantly, has been put together by people as opposed to the computerised brain your computer dictionary uses!
  4. Put aside and return later - once you think you've finished, put it aside and re-read it later on. Give yourself at least half an hour and then re-read.  You may just spot something you overlooked before.
  5. Most importantly - learn to read between the lines. Read what is there, not what you think is there.
Good luck!
Jayne-Marie Barker

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Virtual Danger

With our entire lives online it's always a worry if your PC if affected by a 'virus'. As a person a virus can knock us sideways and the same can be said for the laptop, ipad, iphone, personal computer or whatever latest gadget has been invented in the last five minutes!  Whatever do you do when disaster strikes? IT experts are everywhere but they're also in high demand... next time it happens to you just take the time out and enjoy the world through fresh eyes; you know the moment your technical life is back up and running you'll be glued to the screen again!
Seriously though, it can be a nightmare. Passwords to access the various platforms and online accounts can easily be forgotten, profile names confused and website addresses mysteriously vanish. What is the answer; we're advised not to list our passwords anywhere for security sake, but what happens when they're so secure that even you cannot remember them!
I'm afraid I don't have the answer - if you do please do share! In the meantime we'll stumble along as before I imagine.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Technical Friends!

Remember that old fashioned method of communication - talking, yes I mean seeing somebody in person and actually speaking to them...  I'm a bit old fashioned I'm afraid, but tt's funny to think that in this day and age we have 'technical friends'. I'm referring, of course, to people we are friends with online, but perhaps are never fortunate enough to meet in person. As I see it the world operates on two levels, the real person and the one we only know as a profile name or facebook photo...  Can a 'technical friend' ever bridge the gap into reality do you think...? I'd like to think so, and recently the proof came to light that they can - hurray!
A lovely lady has offered to help me this week and we only met on twitter a few days ago. I'm always very pleased to find the private communication routes available on most media platforms. They offer the online friend the opportunity to speak more freely, and thank goodness for that, perhaps a 'technical friend' can walk the line into reality... what do you think?  I sincerely hope my theory proves accurate since there are so many people out there, and it seems a shame to confine ourselves to the laptop screen!
Jayne-Marie Barker

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Characters - Reality Within Fiction

I promised you this blog and here it is - how to create characters that really stand up, in a fictional sense of course!  My tips on how to make characters real (within the realms of fictions) include:
  • Know your characters. It sounds so simple but it really does work. Get to know them well, before you start writing. Give them a full profile, note down everything you can about them from their shoe size to their hair colour. When you start writing you'll be surprised just how useful these notes become.
  • Expand your characters. As we live we make mistakes, we learn, we grow... yes it's true. Your characters should develope in the same way that real people do. Think about how people react to bad news, how disasters change them, how good news makes them feel etc.  For example - if a family home is destroyed by fire in your story, think about what your characters would feel about the loss of the building, their home, their personal belongings; in particular the sentimental items that cannot be replaced. This is especially important if the fire was not part of the original plotline, or at whatever stage you first thought about your characters. Golden rule - if you alter your plotline remember to focus on what this means to your central characters, how this could affect their personality or outlook on the world.
  • Commit your characters to memory. Throughout your novel writing process skip back to your character notes and refresh your memory. Even if your characters are living in your head and you think you know them better than the real people around you, just re-read and perhaps update your notes. It pays to be efficient with these things; you never know when they may come in useful.
  • Observe. Generally speaking, writers tend to be good observers of real life, people, places, colours, scents, tastes. The next time you're in the waiting room, dreading the call to the dentist's surgery, watch the other people around you. It's incrediable just how much is availble to inspire your literary skills, if you only open your eyes. Of course I'm not suggesting you stare at people, or write about real people in detail; but you could mingle a mannerism of one person with the unique hairstyle of another and so forth... you get the idea!
So, that's it for now. Keep reading for more literary tips and feel free to add your own as comments.
Best wishes
Jayne-Marie Barker

The Idea Highway

As a writer one of the most common questions I am asked is "where do you get your ideas from?"  Well, I'll tell you.  Everywhere, everyone, everything. Just the other day I was told about a fabulous plotline (sadly true and quite terrible but with a little twist here and there it could be an excellent fictional tale). Naturally, I would never write a tale exactly as it's told to me, not even in its entire format, but these things can spark up ideas and it's worth remembering that several small ideas can conjure up one fantastic plot; when pieced together in the right way. So there you have it - be careful what you tell a writer, you may see it turn up in their next book!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Happy Easter

Easter is almost upon us. Whatever your views on the subject, it is always a lovely opportunity to spend a few days away from the usual routine. Personally, I am looking forward to spending time with family and taking in that fresh sea air; there's nothing quite like it!
So, if you don't see much from me for a few days don't worry - I'll be back to normal before you know it!
Have a lovely weekend everybody!
Jayne-Marie Barker

Happy Easter

Well Easter is almost with us. Irrespective of what your views on the subject are, it is certainly a lovely opportunity to enjoy a few days away from the usual routine! I'm looking forward to spending a few days with my family and taking in some of that fresh sea air.
If you don't hear much from me for a few days don't worry - everything will revert to normal in no time at all!  Have a great weekend everybody.
Jayne-Marie Barker

Monday, 2 April 2012

Guest blog on Kindle Promo

New guest blog on Kindle Promo site, read it here:
Many thanks to the lovely people at Kindle Promo who have invited me to publish this second blog on their site.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Guest Blog: David at Kindle Promo

Why Kindle Promo?
The hard work was complete. My book; The Stratford Fiasco was written. I had it critiqued by two different professionals along the way. I had the final version back from the editor I had employed. I had designed my own cover.  I had decided to go it alone and self publish. Finally I was holding the first hard copy of the real book. Fantasic!
What next – who on the earth was going to buy it? How would they know it existed? Sure I could tap up all my friends – that worked and I sold about 200 copies – now what?
I was sceptical about the social media sides of things, so I went to my local Waterstones and they agreed to stock it. I called up the local newspapers and got my photo in the local press. I called up a couple of the national newspapers to place an ad. Well the £4,000 fee put me off. Making a pound a book meant selling 4,000 copies to break even. Not likely!
I had a website for the book, so turned to twitter. I decided to open two twitter accounts, one as myself and one promoting indie authors in general. I figured if I was willing to tweet for others, they in turn would tweet for me and collectively we could reach a wider audience.
It kind of took off to a far greater extent than I imagined. My twitter account @kindle_promo has become inundated with tweets for me to retweet. I also have a couple of generous friends with twitter accounts that would also retweet my tweets and so the following grew. Due to the retweeting it is not uncommon for the tweets to go to over 100,000 twitterers. Now that would be expensive on ebay so not bad for free!
February 14th I started a Facebook page. Within a month it had over 200 likes and people regularly posting there. This would be OK if it would also attract readers. So to measure this I decided to start a website. was launched March 14th.
The initial idea was to have a place where other authors could place their books for free and try to spread the word about the site. 
In two weeks I have been contacted by a large amount of people with varying requests that I am now considering and many also want me to list their books. I am trying my best to list as many as possible and in a couple of months I will meet with some true web design gurus to see how I can make the site more user friendly and work on the SEO. So far it is all my own work and I am by no means any kind of web design expert – far from it.
I set up google ads on the site, hoping for some click through revenue and became an amazon affiliate. The goal was to try to cover the costs of setting up and running the site. I am not sure this will ever happen unless it really takes off or people all of a sudden go ‘click mad’! But I will stick with it until I come up with a better idea. With Amazon affiliates the site gets 5% of books sold. Seeming as most kindle books are a pound or so, you can do the math. 5% of a pound, several times, doesn’t add up to a fortune!
The traffic has been steadily growing which is encouraging.
The current challenge is to come up with a strategy and direction to take the site in, now I have proved the initial phase was what I would consider a success. I am working on plans of how I want it to look in the future and what content it will contain.
So stop by the site and feel free to contact me with any ideas, comments, critiques, requests or complaints!
Many thanks

A special thank you to David for being the very first to guest blog on my site! If you'd like to guest blog please contact me by email:
Thank you, J-M

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Art of Plotting

Every good novel needs a structure. A solid building has foundations, without which it would collapse. The modern novel needs foundations to support the story in just the same way.  In my humble experience setting the foundations makes life so much easier. Trial and error and countless rejection letters have paved my way to where I stand today; on the beginning of knowledge.
Plotting is just one of the foundation tasks I find necessary to complete - in some detail - before even starting to write the story.  So, how do you plot? There are thousands of books available dedicated to the art of writing, building characters, plotlines, structure, themes...
Plotting in my world can be as simple or as complex as I choose to make it.  I tend to think of the plotline in an arc shape. Every plotline has its ups and downs, its climax and its resolution. Personally, I have eight points on my arc, and I ensure that the story twists and turns effectively around every point.
To begin, I list the points of the arc, then I toy with the order of the story's critical points until they fit nicely into the most dramatic sequence possible.
Once the main plotline is configured into an order of revelation I do the same with all sub-plots, ensuring that they weave into the main plotline in the right places.
I've never tried ths method myself but some people have yellow post-it notes and they move them around on a table until they're happy with the order.  I do much the same but on the laptop screen with cut and paste. If you struggle to plot out your story then try this method and see if it helps.
Next time - characters and how to create reality within fiction.
Jayne-Marie Barker

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Guest Blog at Kindle Promo
The lovely people at Kindle Promo invited me to guest blog on their site. Link attached to the entry posted today about Virtual Marketing - The EBook.  Please feel free to read, share and forward link to friends and family.
Jayne-Marie Barker

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

New Listing for 'Beneath The Daisies'
Many thanks to the site owners for listing 'Beneath The Daisies' on their website!

Brand New Website - Hurray!

Just so excited to tell you all that my website is now live - hurray!!!

Please do browse the site. There is, of course, a link back to this blog site on the LINKS page.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Teaser...'Distant Shadows'

Just a little teaser for you... opening paragraph from 'Distant Shadows' due out in paperback this summer:

The bullet hit instantly.  Lewis felt the vibrations rocket his core into a state of shock.  As he witnessed the killing, his disbelief meshing into a knot of immediate fear, he thought this is it; this is how I’m going to die.....


I can't tell you too much because it'll give the secrets away...! If you have any fabulous illusions I'd be grateful to learn about them. I'm keen to weave a little magic into fiction in the not-too-distant future.... all ideas welcome.

Today I am working on improving my technical skills, setting up this blog spot for one, and trying to link it to my twitter and facebook accounts - so far I'm not convinced I've managed it!  But...tomorrow, I'll be back to working on my ideas for an exciting new series. Watch this space...

Bye for now, Jayne-Marie

So much to do...!

There are so many platforms online for authors today. Whilst this is great it can feel like a bit of a minefield to newcomers! Having established a Facebook page and a twitter account, I am now tackling the world of blogging. When I typed blogging into the search engine so many entries came up I didn't know where to begin. I do hope this first post is finding its way out there and hopefully I'll grasp the idea of blogging quickly. Bear with me!

Hello to you all, let me introduce myself properly. I'm an author of mystery novels. My first novel was published last year. 'Beneath The Daisies' is a double time frame murder mystery set in a fictional Suffolk town. 'Beneath The Daisies' is available in paperback via Amazon ( and .com) and Kindle version. It is also available as paperback at Waterstones and WH Smiths. The second in the series, 'Distant Shadows' is due for release this summer in paperback edition. My publisher and I will work hard to achieve the Kindle version as soon as possible. I have just submitted the third book of the series to the publisher so fingers crossed they like it!

You can fnd me on Facebook twitter @JayneMarieBarke, at and author page author page

Any tips on what people want to read on blogs - please do tell me!
See you soon