Category Archives: Fiction

OK, so when will Episode be published?

Episode will  be published in November 2018, in time for Christmas!

At least, that’s my aim.

More family aggro, more bad luck, homelessness, illness, death, abduction by aliens, the world ending all notwithstanding, my sixth novel will be published at the end of this year, two years later than intended. But what can you do when real life gets in the flippin’ way!

Yeah, so November’s nearly eight months away, but there’s still a lot of work to do on the book. I haven’t been idle. I’m struggling with an ending, so while I struggle I edit. No point in just doing nothing. I’ll have more time when the football season’s over in a few weeks, too, a major distraction averted.

Am I ready to reveal yet what the book’s about? No. You’ll have to wait nearer the time. I can say this much: it’s for readers age 9-12, there’s time-travel, Greek gods, and a famous mythological (or possibly real, who knows?) queen who states that actually, it’s not really how Homer told it (and when I say Homer I don’t mean Homer Simpson) because it’s not how her story really was. That’s why she’s desperate to escape and for that she needs Travis and Alisha’s help.

Anyway, that’s all for this month, I have a book to finish, bye.

 

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My review of White Nights by Ann Cleeves

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After the impressive first book, Raven Black, I’m afraid I found White Nights too much of a slow burner. A visitor to an art exhibition is found murdered. Detective Jimmy Perez has very little to work on other than to find out if anyone in the small community knows who the man is and the history of personal relationships form the basis of his investigation. To his frustration he can’t head up the case himself; that’s down to Taylor, sent in from Inverness. Taylor is actually from the big city of Liverpool and he finds Shetland too insular for his taste. He also likes to show Perez who’s boss. When another murder is committed, and bones are found on a cliff edge by climbers, it is Perez who manages to solve the case first.

I was kept guessing right up until the end whodunnit, which is a plus, but then I was left feeling dissatisfied and cheated when the perpetrator got away with it by dying! I hate it when that happens!

While the case is going on there is an insight into Perez’s private life, but he really does come across as a colourless character without much personality and it’s difficult to find sympathy with him or any of the other characters in the story.

My Review of The Marlows and The Traitor

The Marlows and the Traitor is the second in the series of Marlow books and the first I’ve read about twins Nicola and Lawrie away from their boarding school. It’s the Easter holidays and the twins are staying in St-Anne’s-Byfleet with their mother, sister Ginty and brother Peter. The traitor in question is one of Peter’s teachers at Dartmouth Naval College, Lewis Foley. Foley snubs Peter when they unexpectedly meet. When the children come across a deserted house called Mariners (which turns out to belong to Foley’s family), this sets off a frightening chain of events involving a lighthouse, secret papers, spies and a German U-boat. Set following World War II, the U-boat is a bit of a surprise, but perhaps indicates that for the Germans at least the war isn’t over.

Overall it is an enjoyable read, although I found some of the scenes with the character Robert Anquetil somewhat confusing. He and Nicola appear to be friends, but the author doesn’t say how this has come about, and the fact that Mrs Marlow decides to go and see her husband, leaving the children to their own devices, is also a bit weird.

I read the Girls Gone By edition, beautifully produced, although quite pricey at around £12.00.

 

Read my review on Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads

My review of The School at the Chalet

The School at the Chalet by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Years ago (I won’t say how many!) I went on holiday to the Austrian Tirol with my parents and stayed in a resort called Pertisau situated by the largest lake in the region, Achensee. At that time, I was still reading the Chalet School books by Elinor M Brent-Dyer and I loved them. I guessed that her fictional location of Tiern See was based on Achensee, but wasn’t sure; fast-forward to the easy-research-at- your-fingertips world of the internet and I found I’d guessed correctly. In August this year, I went with my husband to the Tirol and we went to Achensee for a day trip. That prompted me to want to revisit the Chalet School because I came over all nostalgic and because I never got to read the entire series.

I managed to find a pdf version of the first of the series, The School at the Chalet, on Scribd, and unfortunately it didn’t hold the same magic for me as an adult as it did as a teen. My adult eyes could see the dated language, the glaring class distinctions, the prejudice against certain diverse groups, the fact that Jo Bettany’s ‘delicate’ health wasn’t much referred to beyond the first chapter and the far-fetched story surrounding Juliet’s predicament. It’s all that which prevents me from giving it the five stars I would have given it when I was 13.

That said, I’m on the lookout for the second book in the series, Jo of the Chalet School, because I want to see improvements. I know Girls Gone By publishers have reprised the series on ebook, but not this title. It is available on paperback, but I understand that the later editions published in my decade (by Armada) were abridged and I would like an unabridged version.

OK, Holiday Over: Back to the Grind!

I did it again: I went away on holiday for two weeks without writing a word of my book! My laptop stayed at home (I needed space in my case for all the tacky souvenirs!), but I did take a writing pad to scribble something of chapter 15; I didn’t, though! Now I’m back and I have to motivate myself into starting where I left off. That’s not easy when you have to go back to your day job, you have the holiday washing to do and the house to clean from top to bottom.

It’s a case of, ‘Oh, I’ll start tomorrow.’ Tomorrow never comes, though, does it?

One way of getting back into my writing is doing a mini edit. Although I haven’t finished Episode, I get to a point where I find it useful to look over what I’ve already written and this often motivates me to carry on and finish the book. I will finish it and get it published in 2017, though, and that will take me to ten years since I finished Goalden Girl!

My review of Scarlett: the sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind

I had wanted to read this sequel to Gone With The Wind for such a long time, that when I spotted a copy in a book sale for £1, I snapped it up! I read the 1991 edition with its original book jacket.

After Melanie Wilkes’ funeral, Scarlett O’Hara intends to fulfil her promise to her friend by looking after her husband Ashley Wilkes, the man Scarlett always thought she was in love with. Rhett Butler, Scarlett’s husband, has gone back to Charleston, but Scarlett is still desperate to try and get him back. She doesn’t stay long in Atlanta, however; she ensures her business affairs are in order before she travels to Charleston to meet Rhett’s mother, and her mother’s sisters and her grandfather, and to Savannah where she meets some of her father’s Irish relatives, and lastly to Ireland, where she meets more of them. In Ireland, the book mirrors the challenges Scarlett had witnessed during the war in America: the Irish are fighting the oppression of the English landowners and soldiers, as the Confederates in the southern states of America had to do with the Yankees.

Overall, I enjoyed this officially commissioned sequel to the original book, but there are a few things I didn’t like: Scarlett’s promise to Melanie is not entirely fulfilled because she feels she is now ostracised in Atlanta, which is why she leaves, there are too many Irish relatives to keep track of, and Scarlett herself is so childish and irritating I feel that I can cheerfully smack her! Although the author portrays her as generous, it is material generosity with money, of which she is obsessed, and she comes across as largely one-dimensional and too difficult to find sympathy with.

I would not recommend reading Scarlett on Kindle as it’s over 800 pages long!

Planning and Writing Your Fiction Book: Some Do’s and Don’ts

DO

  • A rough plan: plot, characters, genre, age of the reader (adult, teen, children, young children)
  • Research press release sites, free if possible, to get the news of your new book out there
  • Carry a notebook and pen with you and write down your ideas when they pop in your head before you forget them
  • Write in a quiet environment if you can; if you can’t, have some music on in the background, preferably instrumental and not too loud
  • Write something every day, even if you don’t feel motivated. A few lines is better than nothing at all. Some days you’ll find you’ll write more than others
  • Take a break when you feel you need one. You don’t want to end up thinking it’s a chore
  • Have an internet presence: website, blog, Twitter, Facebook page, Instagram, whatever. A potential reader will find you there, but stay off the internet while writing! Do whatever promotion, networking, research, blogging you need to do when you take a break, then when you go back to your book close the browser
  • Edit, edit, edit, but shop around for editors and proof readers who can help you polish your book
  • Send your book to a literary agent or publisher supporting your genre if you want to go down the traditional publishing route
  • Approach bookshops to ask about book signings, if you have the balls! You might also be able to get an interview with a local newspaper if your story has a local interest slant

DON’T

  • Tell yourself you’ll do some writing tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes!
  • Write with the telly on! It’s distracting and if your favourite programme is on you’ll miss most of it
  • Do the housework unless you need a break. Yeah, you might need to polish the bookcase, but unless the dust is feet deep leave it for another time
  • Give up or doubt yourself or your book. Shit happens, life gets in the way and your book may not be progressing as quickly as you want it to, but you will finish it eventually. Unless you die first, in which case you won’t be bothered
  • Worry about rejection letters if you send your masterpiece to a publisher. It’s their loss; send it to someone else. Send it out to more than one publisher
  • Dismiss self-publishing or POD. Check out Lulu, Createspace, Blurb, Completely Novel etc. It doesn’t mean your book is of a lower standard because it’s self-published
  • Just think about your book in print, think about it in eBook format, too. Most readers have a Kindle or Nook and Kobo these days; you can also download eBooks from iTunes and Google Books. Bear in mind, though, that if you want to promote your Kindle edition, Amazon get shirty if your eBook is available elsewhere
  • Dismiss online promotion. There are some cracking sites, many free, happy to spread the word, Readers Gazette being an excellent example. Many of these sites offer author interviews, too
  • Pay for reviews or promotion unless you can absolutely avoid it. Independent Author Index, Independent Author Network, Readers Views and Readers Favorite are among some of the popular ones used by indies that are inexpensive
  • Think that when your book is finally finished that’s the end of that, you have to promote it and get as many readers as you can interested in it. That’s where the promo and review sites and possible book signings and interviews come in
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