Posted in A to Z challenge, Courting Danger, courtroom drama, The Blackleaf Agency, The Fifth Wheel

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.

Posted in A to Z challenge, Courting Danger, The Blackleaf Agency, The Fifth Wheel

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 🙂 

Posted in A to Z challenge, Courting Danger, The Fifth Wheel

U is for … Re-United?

Repairing a friendship is easier said than done.

Fern Mortimer turned her back on her old life after a hit-and-run accident, and it was only years later when she rejoined the workforce that a persistent redhead – Nessa – made the effort to be her friend. The invitation to join Nessa and three others on a summer holiday offered Fern the chance to start afresh.

What followed was supposed to be a relaxing holiday in the Algarve, but meeting the other girls – particularly Raven – only fuelled her self-doubts, sending her scuttling back into the safety of her shell.

Yet, when Fern became the victim of an apparently unwarranted assault – albeit an unsuccessful attempt to drown her in the Med – it was Raven who came to her assistance. The question arose regarding Nessa’s whereabouts and the answer was hard to stomach.

Supporting Fern throughout the trial months later back in Portugal, Raven showed herself as a loyal friend. But Nessa had all but ostracised herself from the girls, taking the side of the attacker – her boyfriend, Stefan Pereira.

Could their friendship ever be repaired?

Read the prequel – The Fifth Wheel – now and sign up for my newsletter to find out what happens before, during and after the trial when Courting Danger is released later this year.

Posted in A to Z challenge, cliffhangers, mystery, series, suspense, thrillers

T is for … Thrillers, Series and Cliffhangers

First up, let me admit that thrillers are by far my favourite books to read. However, that said, I love, love, love a series and will choose those over stand-alone stories in many cases.

So, based on my reading preferences alone, here are the top 5 elements that will draw me in to a story.

  1. Setting – I’m a sucker for a great setting. But not just the visual aspects. As a reader i want to feel as though I’ve been parachuted into the scene – wearing an invisibility cloak, of course. I want to feel the scorching sun or biting wind, smell the smoke , hear the footsteps behind me and touch spiky thistles or slimy walls.
  2. Clues – Let me be part of the investigating team, piecing the puzzle together, screaming at the protagonist when he/she misses something obvious or cheering when some minute detail garners importance.
  3. Twists – Not just an obstruction that frustrates the MC (although those are necessary too) but a twist that takes my breath away, making me turning that page filled with anticipation and dread.
  4. A simple solution – Along the way, there should be triumphs and pitfalls, teasing and confusing the plot, but a simple solution at the end is sublime. An outcome that is so elegant and effortless you can’t believe you missed it.
  5. A killer hook (not a cliffhanger) – I want a story that engages me with the characters, makes me interested in what else they have to offer and convinces me to want to read more about them. Of course, the story itself must be resolved – because to not do that just makes me switch off and never pick up another book by that author. If I have invested time and grown to care for these characters, then I want more. Give me a killer hook that will placate me until the next adventure is available. Don’t leave me in limbo.

Don’t leave me dangling … give me hope 🙂

Posted in A to Z challenge, character profile, Courting Danger, revenge, The Fifth Wheel

S is for … Stefan Pereira

Character profile

Name Stefan Pereira (aka Jorge)

Age: 28

Description: Scandinavian blond, 6’1, ice-blue eyes, trim beard, lean physique. (Although, as Jorge, he is clean-shaven and dyes his hair dark brown)

Born in Portugal to a Swedish mother and Portuguese father, Stefan grew up in the Algarve, but moved to England as a teenager with his mother. His father left them shortly before, taking Stefan’s younger sister with him.

He was a fastidious child, neat and orderly. Very bright and quick to learn, soon understanding that certain behaviour earned him attention.

These days, he listens attentively and is a keen observer of people. He demands attention when he talks and enjoys controlling the conversation. Not one who will admit to being wrong, he bears grudges and has a childish need to get his own back when he feels undermined.

Doggedly determined, he never gives up on what he wants and sees no obstacle as too big to prevent him from getting his own way. Manipulation is his forte and he will stoop to nothing to meet his goal. His relationship with Nessa is a convenience, suiting his purpose but he has no plans for anything long-term. She is a disposable asset to him.

With an artistic streak, he appreciates beautiful things, but is obsessive about such items being soiled by the manhandling of other people. Everything he owns has a specific place and is not there for anyone’s pleasure but his own.

He can be beguiling, charming, sociable and friendly but generally prefers his own company. He admires attractive women with a clinical detachment. He loves sailing and is at ease on the ocean.

Emotionally, he is a solitary figure, with little regard for anyone but himself. However, he retains a soft spot for his younger sister, although they grew up separately. During his time in the remand centre his cellmate, Alfonso, befriends him. For the first time ever, Stefan encounters new emotional responses that baffle and surprise him.

Is he finally growing up? Showing concern for others is not usually in his make-up, although he can fake it without breaking a sweat, But, recent encounters seem to have more of an effect on him than he is used to, hinting at a caring streak behind his mask.

And just when you think he may be changing for the better, he goes and throws another spanner in the works. Life with Stefan Pereira is far from dull.

 

Posted in A to Z challenge, character profile, Courting Danger, courtroom drama, Female sleuths, The Blackleaf Agency

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.

Posted in A to Z challenge, beta, books, reading, review

Q is for … Quiet time

I knew I’d get stuck on Q. Happens every time, and yeah I know X & Z are still to come and I can’t take a pass on those too.

So, I’m having some quiet time – reading for pleasure, maybe squeezing in the odd chapter or two of a beta read I’m working through, I might even write up a book review too. But, nothing today is related to my theme directly – but reading is important. As is some downtime. I’ve learnt to take my time when it comes to writing or revising my stories. I’ll still meet my deadlines, but some days are just not meant to be writing days.

So, hope you all get some breathing space too.

And I promise not to pull the same stunt on X & Z 🙂