Sunday, 29 June 2014

#Writing_Process #Blog_Tour

Next stop in the #Writing_Process #Blog_Tour

Next stop in the Writing Process Blog Tour 

Crime fiction author, Judith Cranswick ( invited me to participate in a unique blog tour on writing. Judith spreads her wrings to tutor and speaker as well as being a well-known and hugely successful crime writer. In an interview Judith said she wrote because it was like an obsession. I must confess, I feel exactly the same. Judith's books are well worth a read; 'All In The Mind, 'Watcher In The Shadows', 'Blood On The Bulb Fields', 'Blood In The Wine', and 'A Death Too Far'.
To carry on this great tour, please find my four question responses below.

What are you working on?

My first crime thriller series featured the unique Inspector Allen, but I'm working on a new series now, featuring DI Rachel Bennett. Newly promoted to the rank of DI, Rachel has her work cut out leading a new team, dealing with a husband whose profession puts him in a dangerous place, not to mention the cases she must handle, and the mysterious deaths she must solve.
The first novel is completed but it hasn't hit the bookshelves yet. Books two and three in the series are already under construction. At the moment I'm working on the outline for book two in more detail. As always, I have a bursting ideas file with lots of snippets, phrases, words and titles. It's like a giant jigsaw puzzle, yet to be slotted together. Amongst this stash is a desire to blend two specific crime genres together, but I can't tell you much about that just yet!!

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My novels tend to favour cold cases. I've always been fascinated by those cases that seem unfathomable and remain so for years and years, before something triggers a review. My first series ran double timelines with alternating chapters between the time of the crime and modern day where the inspector was trying to piece things together. I'm keen to keep the cold case element in my work for two reasons, one being that people seem to like it and comment favourably, and two because I like it. It's always good to write something you enjoy yourself. I think this keeps your writing fresh and alive.

Why do you write what you do?

As a child, I loved reading. I was never not reading something. Back then I used to read two or three books at the same time, but now I tend to stick to one at a time. Aged about 13, if memory serves correctly, I was introduced to Agatha Christie. That was it. I was totally hooked on mystery and its sister field of crime fiction. Several years later, I'm not about to tell you exactly how many, I'm still transfixed by this genre. It has such a vast range of writers, styles, sub-genres, and plotlines. My characters are always normal people. Life's rich tapestry tells us that the most ordinary of people can be driven or pushed to do the most extraordinary things. That's what really interests me, and that's why I write crime fiction.

How does your writing process work?

There are two methods generally referred to, when one speaks about how to write a novel. There are the 'start with a blank page and see where the story takes you' type of writers, and the planners.  I'm a planner. I always plan my story outline, at least the key points of the main plot and the links to sub-plots. Historically I've worked things into chapters but I don't do that anymore. I'll start a new chapter when I think it's a good time, quite simply.  My planning does involve a list of scenes, with notes for each reminding myself of the purpose of that scene. Does it reveal something about the central character, a hidden clue to the mystery, or both?
Characters are different. I like to see them in my mind so I tend to note down how I see them before I start penning the novel; their hair colour, eyes, general build and demeanour. Whilst I'll know what type of person they are, I let them take the stage and reveal their own personalities as the words flow.
Once I've completed the first draft I take out my red pen and scribble all over the manuscript. Like most people I find it easier to spot a mistake on a printed page, than I do a screen. My planning often means that a ruthless edit is sufficient and saves me from actually re-writing a second draft. Other writers do almost re-write their novels on the second draft but I can't help wondering if these are the ones who started with the blank page. It's a personal choice, there's no right or wrong here. The destination is what you're striving for, doesn't matter which roads you travel along to get there. When it's done, I cross my fingers and pray the industry will love it!
Please also like my author page on Facebook -

On with the tour

I'm delighted to invite Leigh Russell to join the tour for the next post. People's book prize finalist and CWA Dagger Award Shortlisted, Leigh writes two crime series, both of which deserve a place on your shelves.  Leigh is published by No Exit Press (UK) and Harper Collins (USA).
My second follower on this tour is Geraldine Evans. In her own words, Geraldine is the trad-turned-indie author of the 15-strong Rafferty & Llewellyn procedural series. In order of publication (but can be read as standalones), the series consists of the following: Dead Before Morning, Down Among the Dead Men, Death Line, The Hanging Tree, Absolute Poison, Dying For You, Bad Blood, Love Lies Bleeding, Blood on the Bones, A Thrust to the Vitals, Death Dues, All the Lonely People, Death Dance, Deadly Reunion and Kith and Kill. Her other procedural series is. Casey & Catt: Up in Flames and A Killing Karma
She is also the author of the biographical historical novel: Reluctant Queen, about Mary Rose Tudor, the little sister of infamous English king, Henry VIII, a suspense-thriller: The Egg Factory, and several non-fiction books, some under pen-names.
Her interests include getting ‘volunteers’ to sit for her amateur portraiture, trying to learn to play keyboards and getting God-like in the greenhouse.
Originally a Londoner, she moved to a Norfolk (UK) market town in 2000. LINKS: Author Website:

Friday, 20 June 2014


The Double Story
Do you fancy writing a double take story; one with two time threads running through it? Parallel lines are a really fun way to tell a story. It's a personal favourite of mine so I'm always keen to share the joys of the double tale. It's a popular method, provides the author with double narrative voices and offers fantastic scope for plot twists. So, what are your options? You can alternate the chapters, or you can spin multiple storylines. The trick is to link your storylines with a robust connection, preferably one that keeps the reading guessing until the very last page.

I have placed double time lines in all three of my Inspector Allen novels, and I have to say, it's the single most popular comment from readers. They love the back and forth between the time zones. It's interesting to write too. Readers can be confused so always make sure you place your time lines clearly in the readers minds. I tend to use the first person for one storyline and the third person for the other. It's immediately clear to the reader where they are.

Both time lines must be equal, have suitably strong plotlines and pull for the reader. An example of this would be Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing", which sees two couples courting, one then the other, then back to the first etc. One way to gage this is to use your own reaction. Do you prefer writing one more than the other? Is one more fun, more engaging, housing a more attractive cast? If so, you need to address the balance. By the end of course, you can link the two.

Personally, I tend to bring the two together at the climatic point and tidy up the loose ends just in time to conclude with the more modern day setting of the two.

The double story often works well for family saga novels, although I have managed to apply it to crime fiction, which means you can apply it to any genre. One thing the parallel narrative has in its favour is suspense, which is why I choose it for crime fiction. The reader is not only trying to fathom the mystery that you've carefully plotted across the pages, but also how the two time lines connect with each other. A great idea, and one I haven't tried myself but is already popular, is to switch between the police detective and the criminal. You don't even need a time zone difference for this, the entire thing would be set in the one time period.

In 1962 Alfred Hitchcock is said to have quoted the following, when asked about suspense during an interview with Francois Truffaut:  "Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, boom! There is an explosion. The public is surprised but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there..."  How would you set this up? In one chapter the bomb is positioned. In the next an innocent couple sit at the table. In the next chapter.... well, you decide. You get the idea. Take a tip from me. You do need to keep track of who knows what when though, to remember where you are at every point of the narrative.

The less obvious method of parallel narrative is the hidden back story. This would underpin the entire novel. A good example of this is Agatha Christie's "The Mysterious Affair at Styles". By this I mean that one storyline has already concluded by the time the second one starts e.g. Captain Hastings and his friend have already met, Hastings is already recovering from his injury at his friends house and the murder has occurred. Cue Poirot and the second storyline begins. The first part underpins why the second part is necessary and therefore both have equal depth in the novel.

It's not an easy writing method, I grant you, but very rewarding and great fun. Give it a try!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Have you ever heard of grey literature?

Grey Literature

Have you ever heard of grey literature? I must confess that I hadn't, until recently.  Let me enlighten you...

Grey literature is the information or research created by people e.g. academics or companies e.g. government, businesses, charities, that remains unpublished or not published in commercial form. 

Good examples of grey literature include the following:
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Research reports and studies (unpublished)
  • Government reports and policy statements
  • Conference proceedings, meeting minutes, memorandums
  • Market research
  • Maps
  • Factsheets, bulletins and newsletters
  • Technical reports and specifications
  • Blogs (this article!) emails and tweets, facebook posts
  • Clinical trails and datasets
  • Grey literature implies written items, but it can also refer to video footage, presentations, items on YouTube etc.
One of the good things about Grey Literature is that it can appear in this form first, then progress onto commercially published formats. It's handy if you're researching or studying. You'll find lots of it at your local library.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Legal Eagle

The Legal Eagle

Do you know the laws associated with writing? All writers have to work within the laws, but what are those laws and how do we stay within them?

The Oxfordshire English dictionary defines Libel as: 'a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation.'

Libel can happen even if you don't intend it to upset anyone. Libel is always written, whereas slander is spoken defamation. It will take three people for Libel to occur; a writer, a person whose reputation is damaged and a reader. It applies to anything written, on page or screen. If you're writing fiction and you describe a real person but give them a fake name, and that person is identifiable, you could be in danger of libel. Be careful. It's wise to observe traits and characteristics but to mix them up so that you're not putting a 'real person' in your work of fiction, even if you claim otherwise. The dead are safe because they can't put in a claim against you, but if your writing affects a living relative, you're still at risk.

Copyright exists to protect writers and includes designs, patents acts and the written word.  Whenever you put pen to paper or words to a screen, copyright is established. It's your own intellectual property. When the written word is soled to a publisher or publication, the author is granting the publisher the right to produce that text in book format, or newspaper article. Only the copyright holder can decide how the text can be used.  As most works are produced on a screen now, it is easy to establish the owner and date of creation.

Plagiarism is when one writer uses the words of another and passes them off as theirs. Always write your own research and be careful to use your own words. It is easy to accidentally be guilty of plagiarism these days, with PC work and copy and paste facilities.

If, after careful consideration, you find yourself in hot water, seek advice from writers unions and citizen advice. On that note, get writing. Don't let the above stop your creative flow. Whilst it's private between you and your page/screen, you can be as free as you like!