Too busy to write? Not me!

The best part about being a writer is the writing (oh, and research – I  research), so it came as quite a shock when I realised that summer was over and I’d barely written a word.
The reason: Eddie & Marcia – aka editing and marketing (two words that fuel my procrastination like no others)

Editing, in the form of Eddie the Evil Reaper, is a natural by-product of the writing process, complete with scythe to chop away those words and trim your text.

He demands your complete attention, being one of those necessary evils. You just have to do his bidding and get on with it.

Fortunately, I’ve come to the end of the line and am now able to pass my WIP – Casualty of Court – onto my editor, who will no doubt cast the mighty red pen over all those changes I meticulously made in an attempt to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Marketing, however, enters your life as a mischievous minx named Marcia, but who is known by the wise  as the very devil herself. Wearing a shiny dress and flapping her gossamer wings she offers all the treats in the world if you, the author, deign to share your book with her. She teases you with images of glittery success, forcing you to promote your stories in places you would otherwise fear to tread – SOCIAL MEDIA!

I played along though, running a promotion for Lacey’s Law that garnered more downloads than ever before. However, it didn’t translate into reviews, so Lacey continues to die a death in obscurity. Personally, I think Marcia is jealous of Lacey and so spiked the whole process – promising the world in one hand and then taking it back before any benefit could be found.

Magic O’Clock had much more success with The Story Cartel, where in a month it received several new Amazon reviews across different countries. The same could be said of Goodreads where Magic had a  growth spurt as well as featuring in some wonderful – and I truly mean fabulous – blog posts. Not even Marcia could knock the shine off Magic’s time in the spotlight.

But now the marketing must take a backseat as I work towards bringing Fern & Raven back into the limelight. The prequel – A Fifth Wheel – has been well received, but it’s time now to tell the rest of the story. Casualty of Court (as mentioned earlier) has gone to the editor …which means I have time to write. Yay!

Heirlooms & Heiresses is now under construction, and Fern & Raven are back again, this time as private investigators in their own agency – The Blackleaf Agency. This story requires some research, so I’m mixing up my time, writing and planning as the story unfolds. (Naturally, there is no outline, but I just don’t … !)

And while that’s rumbling on, I’m polishing off another short story – To make the birds cry – ready for release in a couple of months.

It’s great to be back at the writing stage – although I know Eddie and Marcia will return to spoil my fun in the not too distant future.

But in the meantime, I can safely say – too busy to write? Not me!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Dangling the carrot

Call me crazy – you wouldn’t be the first – but, for once in my writerly life I am thinking ahead. My next full novel is months away from publication – and that’s a good thing. I want it to be perfect, or as perfect as it can be anyway. It’s doing the rounds with a few beta readers right now, then it’s off to the editor in October (after I’ve absorbed the readers’ feedback). Another round of betas follows, then a final proofread and it will be good to go.

So, you’re probably wondering why I’m “dangling the carrot” when there are still so many stages yet to go.
Great question.
I thought the same way with my first book, and didn’t bother creating any “buzz” (although, I did follow all the same stages pre-launch) As a result, once the book went on sale, I then had to find readers.
Not an easy task – let me tell you. Especially when no-one really knew I was even writing a book.
I’ve learned a little since then – which is why I’m trying to get ahead of the game.

I’ll be adding a short book to this site soon – available to download at no charge – to accompany the book being available to pre-order.

Meet the Cast introduces the four main protagonists of Casualty of Court and gives the reader an insight into their mindset, outlining their thoughts, wants, issues etc. It’s a brief glimpse into their personalities – a trip behind the looking-glass.
Hopefully, it will plant a seed in the minds of readers – who knows, maybe a few will even pre-order it. But, whatever the outcome, it’s a step forward on the launch path.

I promise you – Casualty of Court is coming.
Sooner than you think.

Casualty of Court is the main story that follows on from The Fifth Wheel. You can catch up with the story still. For Amazon users click here, or here for other ereaders.

But if you’d rather wait then don’t worry – you don’t need to read the prequel to follow the main novel. Just think – blue skies, sunshine, the wind in your hair … and then you’re plunged into the Mediterranean, abandoned and left to drown. That’s what happened to Fern Mortimer – and now she’s back in Portugal to face her attacker in court. Only one of them can win. Who will be the Casualty of Court?

Sign up to my newsletter by clicking here for insider info, a cover reveal and details on the book’s progress prior to launch. Free ARCs will be offered (Advanced Reader Copies) in the October newsletter, and will be with the lucky winners just in time for Christmas.

 

W is for … Who, What, Where, When & Why?

The 5 Ws of storytelling – as applied to my  next release Courting Danger 

  • Who

Who’s involved? From the character profiles already posted, this should come as no surprise that the story revolves around the four lives of Fern, Raven, Nessa and Stefan.

  • What

What’s it all about? Principally a court case, following on from Stefan’s attempt to kill Fern last summer. The story aims to look at both sides of the case and deliver the reasons behind each character’s actions and motivations.

  • Where

Where is it set? Primarily in Portugal for the trial, but then it’s back to England and the fictional town of Framleigh.

  • When

When does it take place? It picks up eight months after the girls’ summer holiday. Since that time, Stefan has been in the remand centre awaiting trial, and plotting for his freedom. Fern & Raven returned to Framleigh after the attempted drowning and now make their way back to Portugal for the trial. Nessa had also returned to England, but kept away from the others and soon found herself back in the Algarve, renting a villa near to the remand centre to be close to Stefan.

  • Why

Why am I telling this story? The summer holiday tale was originally planned as a short story for an anthology, and is told in The Fifth Wheel. But I soon realised I couldn’t leave it unresolved. The pursuit of justice meant there had to be a follow-up story. Then, the characters took over and wanted more attention. So much so that there is another story (or three) to follow – Heirlooms & Heiresses being the first one that sees the girls start up a new venture as Private Investigators in their very own business: The Blackleaf Agency.

V is for … Village life

 Framleigh: a profile.

Framleigh, where Raven, Fern & Nessa grew up is a fictional village in rural England

Here are some facts to fill in the blanks regarding the girls and their village.

  • How does the setting uniquely belong to your characters?

It’s their birthplace and home – although Nessa moved to the city a while back, before the holiday in Portugal. All three girls grew up in the area; Raven and Nessa attending the same school while Fern lived on the outskirts in one of the modern estates.

  • Why is this setting important to them?

Fern sees the village as a secure place, somewhere she can avoid life and restrict her time to her family and Dougal. For Raven, the village is all about family ties, childhood memories and community spirit.

  • How do they feel about this setting?

Fern considers it to be her safe haven, calm and steady. No nasty shocks or unexpected dramas. Raven, on the other hand, does feel a sense of claustrophobia at times. Yet, she also appreciates how it makes her feel comfortable and competent.

  • What does the setting look like?

Framleigh is centred around a village green. The old Tudor Manor House is now a hotel. The village pub and the community centre at the church are the regular haunts for Nessa and Raven. The river Sreve skirts the village, marking the boundary between the hamlets of Frampton and Tonleigh. To the west is town of Gaukwich, where other facilities exist (police station, Post Office, Library)and the ‘big’ city of Worford lies approx twenty miles to the east, through arable land and midsized farms boasting award-winning livestock breeds.

  • What does the setting smell like?

The village now boasts a mix of old-world charm, farm land and the occasional office block giving a nod to more modern times. Traffic has increased, bringing pollution to the area and smog, which together with the stench of farmer’s spraying crops, animals and hops gives the area a unique and varied perfume. On top of that, the villagers partake in traditional activities such as cook-offs (cheese, jams, cakes and local ale  all feature heavily.

  • What does the setting sound like?

Generally peaceful, except on market day or during fetes, when the local hotel and shops are filled with tourists and competitive stallholders vying for prestigious rosettes.

  • Is there a taste or touch sensory experience related to this setting?

The experience is one of overwhelming peace and quiet,except during rush hour or when the schools end for the day.

  • What role will this setting play in your story?

The setting provides both background and back story and memories. In future stories, for example in Heirlooms & Heiresses, the village and its residents, facilities and layout feature more heavily.

  • How would a stranger coming into this space feel?

The vibe is calm and unsuspecting, homely and comfortable, quaint and traditional – but with modernity advancing at a steady pace in future tales.

Welcome To Framleigh – Have a Good Stay 🙂 

R is for … Raven Hegarty

Character profile.

Name: Raven Hegarty

Age: 25

Description: Black-haired, 5’9, brown eyes, olive skin, very attractive. No fuss girl, no make-up, or jewellery.

Lives in Framleigh (a fictional village in Warks), with her mum, Rachel. Boyfriend is Finn Delaney (PC at local station, was a trainee with her and they re-met when she began her Tae Kwon Do classes – he is a part-time instructor at the community centre)
She was training to be a PC when her mum was diagnosed with MS. Gave up her career to care for her mum and worked in a supermarket to make ends meets, but resigned out of boredom – and after a masked gang raided the store during one of hers shifts.)
When her mum’s condition deteriorates, Raven is forced to accept help from the community. As she realises that she cannot be the carer her mum needs, she decides (encouraged completely by her mum) to retrain. Upset at missing out on her chosen police career, she is keen to work in a similar field, and retrains as a PI so she can work from home. She yearns for fulfilment, to feel that she is making a difference. She detests injustice of any sort and has attended many protests and demos to have her voice heard.
When a former very close friend (Nessa) chose a new man over her (and Fern) during a recent and much-needed holiday, Raven was incensed. The fact that the man was using Nessa and tried to drown Fern resulted in them attending his trial in Portugal and Nessa still stood by him. Raven disowned Nessa and became best friends with Fern, the victim.

Her mum, Rachel, is also dark-haired, but greying at the temples. Slim build. Pale skin, often in pain but puts on a smile.

Finn is tall, strawberry-blond-verging-on-ginger, wavy hair, broad-shouldered, big hands, grey eyes. Quite serious. Fascinated by forensics, wants to branch off to CID. Allergic to animal hair.

She is a sociable woman, loves pubs and dancing, gets on well with old folk since she admires their values and stories of past adventures. She has no time for misbehaved kids, jobsworths, call centres, salesmen in general (Smarmy smooth talkers)
Enjoys going to the rifle range with Finn. Takes mum to various support centres at hospital. She is determined and focused. Raven is a fighter. Impulsive, hot-headed, loud, abrasive and opinionated She doesn’t suffer fools. Acts first, thinks later. Too quick to get involved. Meddlesome. She has been stuck in a rut for the last two years and yearns for excitement and something to focus her intelligent mind on. Assuming that her loved ones are safe, she will jump into any adventure feet first and trust her instincts for a successful outcome.
But she is a very faithful friend – unless betrayed.
She is scared of getting MS like her mum yet avoids doctors in case something is found.
Feels betrayed by Nessa, but misses her friendship. Feels let down by officialdom and has a deep loathing for bureaucracy and paperwork of all sorts..

Raven is the glue in the story and holds much of the cast together. Her reactions are always pivotal and wide-reaching.

P is for … becoming a PI


Setting up The Blackleaf Agency as a private investigations business meant Raven – and later, Fern – had to undergo some extensive training.

Which meant I had to do some proper research (and I love research – almost more than writing the story)

 

Below are the elements of the course Raven chose to complete. (Details provided from the Institute of Private Investigators site)

  • The Characteristics of an Investigator – what type of individual carries out effective investigations?
  • Investigation Method – a proven template applicable to all investigations. If you only learn this methodology you will be able to conduct an effective investigation!
  • Taking Instructions and Client Relations – make sure you get and retain paying customers.
  • Statement Taking for Investigators – a core skill for anyone, taught by an experienced police detective and his private investigator counterparts!
  • Interview Law and Practice – how to elicit information from both the helpful and the obstructive!
  • Case Management – how to manage an enquiry so that it is successful, your clients needs are met, and expensive mistakes are prevented.
  • Incident Scenes and Exhibits – how to make sure that your exhibits are properly taken, stored and produced for forensic examination.
  • Tracing Investigations – need to find someone? Take this lesson and apply the skills personally as well as professionally!
  • Court Procedures – the law and practical aspects of taking cases to their ultimate end – a court hearing! Investigation by Computer – learn to utilise computers in investigations, an essential skill!
  • Surveillance and Recording – learn how when to use surveillance, and the practices and pitfalls of selecting a surveillance team.

All this, and specific skills and considerations relating to core investigative practices – process serving, criminal investigation, self-management, and more!

Of course, The Blackleaf Agency and Raven & Fern are fictitious – but the devil is in the detail. If this new investigative duo are to be taken seriously in this line of business, then they have to be professional and do whatever a ‘real’ person would be required to do. After all, they have to be believable – fiction or not – readers are an astute breed and they can spot an imposter a mile away. 🙂

 

H is for … Heirlooms & Heiresses

That title trips off the tongue, doesn’t it? 🙂

Heirlooms & Heiresses is the next in my Blackleaf Agency series, and the very first ‘serious’ case as well as a personal mission for my new sleuths, Raven & Fern.

Case 1 – The heirloom

A missing painting. But the thief is soon revealed. however, returning the picture is not so easy. Provenance of ‘The Stolen Countess’ is already an issue and as siblings fight over ownership, disputing their grandfather’s will, Raven and Fern trace the painting’s journey across Europe during WWII.

Case 2 – The heiress

A ‘kidnapped’ baby. A friend in need. But can they claim kidnap when the child is in her father’s arms? This case sees the private investigators at loggerheads as friendships are tested, loyalties are questioned and emotions run high.

Can The Blackleaf Agency solve these cases? Managing two cases at once is a big ask. Especially for a new company and two inexperienced  operators. Is this business doomed before it even has really started?

Heirlooms & Heiresses will either make or break the Agency. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end!

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