Eva Jordan in conversation with… Margaret Kirk

Tales From Elsewhere - Margaret Kirk

My second guest author post today is by the very intriguing Margaret Morton Kirk, a writer living and working in her home town of Inverness. She has written a number of short stories, one of which, ‘Still Life’, was runner-up in the ‘Bloody Scotland’ short story competition in 2015.  It was later adapted for radio and broadcast on Radio 4 as part of its ‘Scottish Shorts’ series.

‘The Seal Singers’, a semi-mythic tale set in Orkney, won third prize in the 2016 Mslexia short story competition.  And ‘Coming Home’, a chilling insight into one family’s fragmented past, was published in the Tales from Elsewhere anthology.

Her debut novel, ‘Shadow Man’ is set in Inverness and is the first in a planned series featuring ex-Met DI Lukas Mahler. It is due to be published by Orion in July 2017.

Here, Margaret gives us some very helpful advice about writing the dreaded synopsis for a book…something I definitely struggled with!

Synopsis is a four-letter word…

Well, not literally…even my maths isn’t that bad. But whatever kind of writer you are, it’s a safe bet that writing a synopsis is your least favourite part of getting ready to submit your work. When I first thought about entering the Good Housekeeping novel competition, I wasn’t too worried about sending off the first couple of chapters—I’d worked hard on them and thought they were probably pretty much there. The synopsis, though…I spent a ridiculous amount of time drafting and re-drafting, and even once I’d sent it off, I couldn’t help thinking it could have been so much better.  But should crafting a synopsis really be such hard work?

On the face of it, synopsis-writing doesn’t seem that daunting. Most agents tend to prefer brevity (with good reason, given the number of submissions they receive each week) so in theory, all you need to do is write a concise but compelling summary of your book, in 500-700 words.  How hard can it be?  After all, you’ve already written 90,000 or so…

And that’s part of the problem, of course.  You’ve probably toiled over your novel for several months, maybe years.  You’ve re-drafted, re-examined every word choice, and it’s now as good as you can make it. You’re feeling endlessly chuffed for even finishing the wretched thing, for heaven’s sake…and now you need to compress the essence of those 90,000 words into a page or less (and no cheating with the margins or tiny fonts, in case you’re tempted). 

It’s as though your imagination’s being forced to hold a closing-down sale.  Everything must go, all the plot intricacies, the character nuances you’ve worked so hard on, and what you’re left with looks like…well, not very much. Certainly, nothing that would tempt you to ask to see more, so how can it possibly work any magic on an agent?

Well, there are two things to bear in mind. Firstly, I’ve attended writing events across the UK, and the consensus amongst the agents I’ve spoken to is that they won’t usually turn to the synopsis first. They’ll have a look at your writing and your cover letter, to decide a) if you can string two words together and b) if you sound like someone they could possibly work with. If they’ve done this and are getting good vibes so far, then they’ll turn to your synopsis.  They’ll do this to make sure that the clever premise and vivid writing of your first chapter don’t lead to a surprise intervention from little green men in chapter 28.  

Secondly—and I wish I’d known this earlier—you don’t need to tell them everything in the synopsis. The main plot thread, of course, and the events leading to the denouement, and the ending, absolutely…but you don’t need to detail every twist and turn along the way. If you do, unless your novel is linear and simple in structure, you risk getting bogged down in unnecessary and confusing detail. You need to give the essence of your story, not chapter and verse.

Sound easy?  Didn’t think so. But fear not, there is help out there: I’ve found the wise and sensible Emma Darwin’s blog a source of invaluable help on all matters technical.  And Write a Great Synopsis by Nicola Morgan is a handy little eBook you won’t want to be without. 

Follow their guidelines, and writing your synopsis needn’t be the carpet-chewing trauma that mine became…best of luck!

Margaret Kirk

Margaret Kirk on Social Media:
Website
Twitter 

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Patricia Dixon

Pat Dixon BooksMy first guest author post today is by the lovely Patricia Dixon. Inspired by her second home, Patricia has published four novels that are all set in France. Born in Manchester, Patricia studied Fashion at Preston Polytechnic in the 80’s before starting her working life in London amidst the mad world of couture and designer tantrums.When the sparkle eventually wore off she returned to Manchester to a more sedate existence where she spent much of her time travelling the UK producing clothing for high street stores.
Twenty five years later, after swapping fashion for bricks and mortar and working alongside her husband in their building company, she found herself with an empty nest and her secret ambition to write novels could at last become a reality. Here, Patricia explains what inspires her to write and why she loves writing.

I Writing !

I Writing ! I also love everything it has brought to my life and I’m not talking about my earnings from book sales, it is so much more than that.

When I tell someone I’m an author, I can usually predict the next three things they are going to say, just after the look of surprise has worn off.

The first will be – Really! So what made you decide to do that?

The second – Where do you get your inspiration?

And the third – I’ve always wanted to write a book!

The answer to the first question is always easy – I decided to write because I knew I had to try and if I didn’t have a go, I would always regret it. I wanted to do something for me, that I was interested in and felt that I could do well. These were the simple building blocks on which to start my journey which up till now has been a huge learning curve, immense fun and a voyage of discovery which I never want to end.

And the inspiration? – That’s easy. Apart from my second home, France, which is a never ending source of ideas, tastes, sights and smells (I’m talking about the countryside and French cuisine here) what inspires me the most, is people.

I’m intrigued by the intricacies of their lives, not glamorous glitzy stuff or fame and celebrity, everyday things like marriage, divorce, birth, death, infidelity, jealousy, secrets….the list goes on. To me, the mundane aspects of our everyday existence which pass by largely unnoticed, those daily occurrences, familial interactions that make us tick, cry, laugh, rage, they all have substance, are tangible and real, utterly fascinating.

Our emotions too are complex, especially the more negative ones, and at whatever age, we can be thoughtless, indiscriminate, selfish and obsessed, blinkered and controlling. The good, bad and the ugly all make up the human psyche, have an impact on the lives of others with actions or words and combined, they have the ability to hurt or heal, make us sad or joyous, be labelled cruel or kind.

I’m a watcher of humans, wherever I may be. I’m the guest at the party who sometimes likes to sit in a quieter place and take in the scene before her, or maybe I’m the one being told a secret by the lady who has had far too much to drink and now, I’ll never look her in the eye again. Occasionally, you’ll find me in the middle of a debate, doing a bit of subtle stirring or listening to the views of others and naturally, putting my own ten pence worth in. I’m frequently reminded afterwards by my husband that it’s never wise to talk about football, politics, and religion in a social setting….but we’d never learn anything if everyone stuck to that rather limiting and boring rule!

What inspires me is a big old food mixer containing all of the above and even when it looks like all is lost, the fight is gone and the end really is nigh, all our foibles and strengths come into play, the human spirit rises up and triumphs, vanquishes foes, lays demons to rest and lives to fight another day. I admire people who try hard, have courage in their faith of whatever kind, help others, listen, have a desire to learn, show humility, kindness and understanding of those different to themselves. And in an odd way, I’ve found that these characteristics, the things which inspire me to write and form my stories, have a knock on effect, acting as a catalyst.

The incubation process takes place during the telling of the tale and by the end, I hope to have passed on some uplifting glimmer of happiness to the reader, a positive energy. I receive the most wonderful letters from all over the world, lovely people telling me how much they enjoyed my writing and that I have helped them, made them laugh, sometimes there’s even a bit of crying, too. Most say they can’t wait for another book which in turn, encourages me to continue, so in one way or another, the Angel of Inspiration is doing a fine job (yes, I am a believer in God and his celestial comrades).

As I said at the start, it’s not all about book sales, it’s the feeling I get when a name, familiar or new, pops up on my inbox, a letter from a happy reader. I have made so many new friends, some of whom I correspond and chat with regularly on Facebook or by email. It varies from weekly to maybe once a year, sending best wishes at Christmas, or just passing on snippets of news and catching up.

Some of them touch my heart, like the lady (I won’t mention names) who wrote to me from France during the winter months as she nursed her husband. Sadly, he was nearing the end of his life but she told me that the words in my Christmas story kept her going, and even now, she drops me a line and lets me know how she is getting on in her life without him. After reading À Bientôt, someone recently widowed got in touch to tell me that Anna’s tale gave her hope and encouragement, feeling now that all was not lost and she had the strength to carry on. I have so many other examples, some of them humourous, like the lady at the end of her tether with a step-daughter from hell, just like one of my characters, Lady Louise of Limousin, and I’d somehow persuaded her out of actual bodily harm. Many readers now want to visit France or make return journeys after catching the Francophile bug again, and on reflection, I reckon the French Tourist Board owes me a large chunk of commission! I might drop them a line next.

I’ve had to disappoint people too, by admitting that Rosie’s gîtes don’t actually exist and one lovely chap told me he was actually beginning to believe the people in the trilogy were all real. Knowing that readers can connect and associate with my characters really is such an honour.

Writing has given me so much, the most precious being new friendships (I met one of my closest, dearest friends through this process) a large injection of self esteem, something interesting to talk about, a sense of pride in myself and knowing that my family feel the same way about me. It has also brought me a sprinkling of confidence, something which, as you get older, can gradually diminish without you noticing it has packed it’s bag and is heading out the door.

For example, nowadays, I actually quite like saying the words ‘I’m a writer’ but not at the beginning, I was far too shy. I can remember the first time I confessed, under duress I may add, which was in the tinned food aisle at Sainsbury’s, just by the spaghetti hoops. A lovely lady was conducting a survey and looked quite flustered after possibly being re-buffed by one in three of the shoppers. Being a soft touch, I hadn’t the heart to walk by or make up some weak excuse so ended up answering each and every one of her multiple choice questions. When she’d finished, I was asked my age and occupation which is when I caught the beady eyed stare from my son, who was already bored out of his brains and ready to kill, so I took the hint and told the truth. Unfortunately for him, she then proceeded to ask the three questions listed above, to which I gave her honest and detailed answer’s and by the end of our chat, she’d jotted down the titles of my books and promised to buy them as soon as she got home!

After that I was on a roll and now take great delight in filling in registration forms and questionnaires, a task which has resulted in making a few unexpected sales and conducting book related conversations in some rather odd places.

Whilst having a procedure carried out at the local hospital, the chatty nurse spotted my job title on the notes and as they wired me up to the machine, I ran through my titles and even gave a quick synopsis of each. Suffice to say, while my heart went through its paces and the machine whizzed and whirred, the technicians on the other side of the glass were having a quick Google and checking me out on Amazon! The dentist was slightly trickier and I don’t know how they expect you to talk while they have those metal thingy’s inside your mouth. Still, both the nurses and dental staff seemed rather chuffed to have had their very first author on the reclining chair of torture, or strapped beneath something resembling a prop from the Star Ship Enterprise.

There are many advantages to being an author, the best is being able to disappear into a world of your own making, escaping to wherever you so wish and returning only when you have to cook the dinner (which is frequently burnt or overlooked completely if I’m engrossed). You can write your own endings, become another person, alter someone’s fate, and dish out punishments and revenge with a few clicks of the keyboard. I’m not power mad, honest!

I can’t say I’m in the league of authors where my name is instantly recognised or I am afforded special treatment, but my son actually got his car insurance quote much cheaper when he altered my profession online, so I assume authors are considered extremely safe drivers, or perhaps it’s just that they never stray far from their desks and laptop, thus leaving the roads of Britain less hazardous.

Being an author also gives me an opportunity to help others, by writing reviews for other writers (you will find that we are actually a very supportive crowd which in itself is comforting and uplifting) donating some of my profits to charity and offering my books as prizes.

The notion of passing on what I have learned from this whole process (good and bad) leads me to the final comment mentioned at the start. When someone says ‘I’d love to write a book’ my response is, just do it! I have quite a few acquaintances who, during our cyber chats, have expressed their desire to write and I hope I have encouraged all of them to have a go. If you think you can make people happy with your words, have a story in your head and you are burning to tell it, or there’s something you need to get off your chest, then write it down.

Don’t ever assume that your life is ordinary, we are all unique, have probably loved and lost, experienced sadness and pain, joy and heartache, witnessed life with our own eyes and battled on through whatever this world throws at us. If this is you, I hope that the Angel of Inspiration has gone a bit mad and sprinkled hope all over these words.

Maybe some of what inspires me, has trickled down the page and ended up here, at the end of my ramblings and will be the spark that sets you off on your own journey. Alternatively, if you are just happy to read the writing of others, then I do hope that should you chance upon mine, you enjoy my books and they leave you above all content and smiling.

Right, I’m off to finish book five, I’m on the home straight now. I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes which I think you may like. I try to keep them in mind each day.

Wishing you all the very best,

Trish x

*What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make* (Jane Goodall)

*Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try*

Patricia Dixon

Where to find Patricia Dixon:
Facebook
Amazon Author Page

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Kendra Olson

The Forest King's Daughter

It is my great pleasure to introduce the lovely Kendra Olson, author of The Forest King’s Daughter, as my guest author today. Taking place in 19th century rural Sweden, The Forest King’s Daughter, an epic coming of age story, is Kendra’s debut novel.

The year is 1886 and Swedish teenager, Ingrid Andersdotter, is about to face a series of life-changing events. When Ingrid forgets to close the barn door one freezing cold night, there will be dire consequences for her family. To make matters worse, her attraction to the new school teacher leads to ostracism and shame. Ingrid’s strong opinions and the pressure of the powerful village church to conform to ideas she doesn’t believe in put her at odds with her traditional community.
Her only option is to leave her home and family. But is she brave enough to make an ocean crossing to a strange new land on her own, leaving everything she knows far behind? And will she find the freedom she dreams of if she takes such a risk?
Told through the lens of a Swedish fairy tale, this epic coming-of-age story, is both a page-turning personal account of one feisty young woman’s determination to seek a better life, and the tale of many single women who emigrated from Sweden to America in the 19th century.

Inspired by the pioneering spirit of her great grandmother, Kendra tells us about her writing journey and how the idea for The Forest King’s Daughter developed.

********

My writing journey, by Kendra Olson

I remember loving stories as a kid—Goodnight Horsey, The Velveteen Rabbit and Sideways Stories from Wayside School, were some of my favourites. Later I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, Charlotte’s Web and A Little Princess, amongst many others. I’ll never forget the scene in The Velveteen Rabbit where the little boy, after contracting scarlet fever, is forced to burn all his toys, including his best friend, the Rabbit. I found this scene deeply disturbing and never really got over it.

As a little girl, my dolls were very real to me and I was convinced that, once I went to sleep at night, they spent many hours talking to each other and having parties without me. So the idea that, were I to become ill, I would have to burn them—essentially killing them—traumatised me no end. As you can tell, I was a very imaginative child. I spent many hours—days even—involved in long, complex play sessions.

Then, when I was seven, I was given a diary by my grandmother—one of those old-fashioned ones with a hard cover and a tiny lock and key to keep your brother from reading your secrets (though he did anyway—the lock was easily breakable). I remember it was decorated in garish neon colours, as was considered stylish back in the 1980s. I wrote in it every day, trying to write smaller and less so as not to use the pages up too quickly. My grandmother had told me to write what happens to me, but I tended to write anything and everything in it instead and only rarely gave a true account of my day, instead preferring to record my thoughts, feelings, hopes, worries, dreams and, yes, the boys I fancied at school. After a little while I even ventured to write stories, and the outlines of stories, mostly involving little girls and fairies and often times little girls who’d turned into fairies, and mermaids, and fairy mermaids. Writing became a kind of release for me, a safe space from which to reflect, imagine and just be.

Fast forward a few years to my time in secondary school and my all-time favourite class: English. Our teacher encouraged us to write stories in response to our readings. As we’d recently finished Romeo and Juliet, and Halloween was coming up—a huge deal in the States, where I grew up—I wrote a ghost story with a romantic twist. My teacher made me read it aloud in front of the entire class—something I was terrified of doing—and they loved it! Kids who otherwise ignored me or made fun of me clapped heartily, and told me they’d actually been frightened by it. It was my moment of triumph in an otherwise fairly unhappy school life.

Later yet I enrolled in a writing programme, encouraged by my grandfather who’d worked as a children’s writer and editor for most of his life. I learned how to write fiction and non-fiction for the American magazine market. I then followed this up by taking a course in writing for children, which my grandfather also took. I realised the joy which could be gained from having a writing partner and submitted several stories and articles to publications, none of which were published, although I did receive some nice feedback from editors.

Then, when I was in university, working and helping out at home, I didn’t have time to write anything other than term papers. I sort of forgot all about writing stories. And this was how life remained for some years. After getting married and moving to London I had even less time–emigration is exhausting!

After a few years, life settled down and I enrolled for a simple, ten-week, online introductory creative writing class with writingclasses.co.uk. The course could be completed anytime, anywhere and, most importantly, every assignment was read by your tutor and given personalised feedback—a feature I loved. The assignments were fun too. One of my favourites was to write a story with each new line beginning with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. It was difficult but very worthwhile as it trained me to channel my creativity and make every word count. Another of my favourites was to write a modern day fairy tale. Somewhere in the midst of the many courses I took, I came up with the character of Ingrid, the protagonist of my now-published novel The Forest King’s Daughter.

The novel itself took me several years to write, with many false starts and a lot of research needing to be done—the story takes place in 19th century rural Sweden, a place I’d never lived in but was keen to write about. Eventually, I did visit Sweden and met my family there (the story was inspired by my imagining what life might have been like for women from my great grandmother’s generation who emigrated to America). And, when my novel was finished, I had it professionally edited and began the arduous search for agents. While I didn’t find one, I did find a publisher. On the 5th March 2015, The Forest King’s Daughter was published by Pilrig Press. It was the biggest triumph of all for me, especially coming as it did halfway through my Creative Writing MLitt at the University of Glasgow.

Since completing my degree and having my novel published I’ve been working on a second novel, also historical but taking place in a very different time period. I’ve also discovered a love for writing book reviews, which I write both for Lothian Life as well as for my blog, which I began as a way of promoting my first novel. I’ve found new literary avenues to explore, and new publications to submit to, as well as rediscovering some of my old favourites.

Recently, I even reread The Velveteen Rabbit and, while I still found it sad, it was no longer the tragedy it once was. In fact, I could now see the ending for what it really was: a sign of hope. In my despair at the perceived cruelty in the story, I’d failed to remember that, before the rabbit can be burned, the nursery magic Fairy takes him by the hand and rewards him for his love to the boy by turning him into a real rabbit. While I’d written for many years before having anything published, the act of writing continues to offer me hope and a space in which to explore, reflect and understand my life and the world around me. The publication of my first novel, The Forest King’s Daughter, served to validate this hope and, indeed, turn me into a real writer.

The Forest King’s Daughter is available from Amazon. 

Kendra Olson

Kendra Olson on Social Media:
Website
Twitter
Facebook

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Karen King – Romantic Novelist

Also on my blog today, I’m very pleased to introduce the romantic novelist Karen King. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Karen King writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. I DO – or Do I?‘ her first chick lit for Accent Press, was published in May. She has been contracted for two more. And she is delighted that Accent Press have republished her earlier romance novels, The Millionaire Plan and Never Say Forever. The Millionaire Plan was nominated for the RONE Award in 2014.

The Millionaire Plan

Love or money, what would you marry for?

Amber Wynters is on a mission to find a millionaire to marry – and fast. Her parents are nearly bankrupt and being forced to sell their family home, a beautiful Tudor house that has been in the family for generations, thanks to Amber’s ex-fiancé persuading them to invest in his dodgy shares. Armed with a self-help book and a ten-point plan, she sets off to hook herself a rich husband. On a millionaire’s yacht, she meets the drop-dead gorgeous Jed Curtess. The attraction between them is sizzling. It’s a shame that he is only a hired hand. Can Amber ignore her heart and follow her plan?

Never Say Forever

Do you follow your dream or follow your heart?

That’s the decision Kendall McKenzie has to make when she meets hunky businessman Jake Newman. He’s as attracted to her as she is to him – but Kendall has vowed never to get married, and it seems that Jake has too. When they are together, sparks fly. It’s obvious to everyone except themselves that they’re meant to be together. Can Kendall trust Jake enough to give him her heart? And if she does, will she have to give up her dream?

Karen has had several short stories for women’s magazine and 120 children’s books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Here, Karen tells us a bit more about herself in my quick Q&A followed by a sneaky peak of The Millionaire Plan with a brief extract from Chapter One.

  • What is the best thing about being a writer?

Getting a letter or email from someone who’s enjoyed reading my book. That makes my week!

  • What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

Finding time to write down all the ideas that are whizzing around in my head.

  • Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

It took me seventeen attempts and goodness knows how many years to pass my driving test. Seriously!

  • What is your top tip for new writers?

Stop faffing about and get that first draft down. Then you can go back and reread, revise and rewrite. If you don’t write something you have nothing to hone.

  • Thank you for being such a great guest.

Thank you for hosting me!

*****

Chapter One

Rule number 1: Make sure you’re seen at the right places

Great. Here she was, dressed to kill and without a clue what to do, Amber thought, tugging self-consciously at the hem of her dress. Everyone else was walking around in groups, or at least in pairs, chatting and laughing together and making her wish that she’d taken up Callie’s offer to go sailing with her and Simon instead of wandering around Coombe Bay Marina alone. Honestly, dressed in this skin-tight, short white designer dress, high heels, and the pile of make-up Callie had insisted she wore, she might as well have the words ‘gold-digger’ written on her forehead.

Well, that’s what she was, wasn’t it?

Not for the first time she wondered how she’d let Callie talk her into coming here to try and hook a millionaire. It was mad. Insane. Immoral.

And her only option if she didn’t want her parents to lose their home as well as their business.

Spotting a café overlooking the marina, she bought herself a latté and was making her way over to one of the tables when a white yacht caught her eye. It wasn’t huge or brash, like some of the yachts in the marina, but it was definitely classy. The sort that a millionaire would have for his own use, to sail around in rather than show off and entertain his friends. As she peered over at it, trying to read the name painted on the side, she collided into something hard. Her coffee cup went flying off the saucer, emptying its contents over a pair of cut-off denim shorts that were hugging lean, definitely male, hips.

‘Whoa!’ Strong, suntanned arms held her steady. ‘You want to try looking where you’re going,’ an incredibly sexy voice drawled in an unmistakeably American accent.

‘Sorry.’ She looked up into a pair of twinkling tawny eyes that laughed at her from a ruggedly handsome face, topped by thick, light brown hair with sun-kissed highlights. Phwoarr! was her immediate reaction, but she quickly pulled herself together. She’d just spilt coffee over this guy, for goodness sake, the least she could do was apologise instead of drooling over him like a lunatic.

‘I’m so sorry,’ she apologised again. ‘I was looking at that yacht over there. It’s fantastic, isn’t it? I’ve never seen one like that before.’ Not the thing to say, Amber, she scolded herself. You’re supposed to be acting smart and sophisticated as if you come to these sort of events all the time, not twittering away like an idiot and letting the first person you bump into know that you’ve never seen anything bigger than a dinghy before. Then she remembered that she had quite literally ‘bumped’ into this man and drowned him in coffee in the process.

‘Gosh, I’m so sorry,’ she said, fully aware that this was the third time she’d apologised but unable to stop herself gabbling. She looked down at his wet denim cut-offs, trying not to let her gaze linger on the sun-tanned legs below them, then shifted her eyes hurriedly back to his face. ‘Er, I’ll go and get a cloth so you can clean up.’

‘No need. I’m working on that yacht you were admiring so I haven’t got far to go and get changed,’ he replied. ‘Perhaps you’d like to join me and clean yourself up too? You don’t want to leave that to stain. It’ll ruin your dress.’

What? She glanced down in confusion and saw that coffee was splattered all over the bottom of her – or rather, Callie’s – dress and running down her legs. How could she have not noticed? Because I was too busy gawping at him, that’s why.

She hesitated. He had said he was working on the yacht, which meant he didn’t own it – more’s the pity. So his boss could well be on board. And whilst the ‘How to Hook a Millionaire’ book Callie had brought and insisted she read from cover to cover had declared she should ‘seize any opportunity to mix with the seriously rich’ – and let’s face it, anyone who owned that yacht was seriously rich – meeting them with a coffee-stained dress and legs was not a good idea. ‘Always be perfectly made up and elegantly dressed’ was another rule.

‘Is your boss on board?’ she asked.

‘No, only me.’ He was looking at her intently. ‘Perhaps I should introduce myself, I’m sure your mother drilled it into you to never go off with strangers.’ He held out his hand. ‘Jed Curtess.’

She took his hand. It was strong and warm and his touch sent tingles running up her arm. ‘Amber Wynters,’ she told him.

‘Now we’ve been introduced, Amber Wynters, would you like to come on board and get cleaned up?’ he asked, a playful smile hovering on his lips.

She most definitely would but should she? She didn’t even know this man, although she had to admit that she definitely found him appealing. Should she risk going onto the yacht with him? He might not be as harmless as he seemed. She saw the teasing twinkle in his gorgeous tawny eyes and her heart flipped. Cancel harmless. This guy was a danger to her blood pressure if nothing else.

‘I promise I won’t try to seduce you,’ he said solemnly. ‘Unless you beg me to, of course.’ His eyes danced with humour and she thought there was probably a queue of women who would love him to do just that.

****

Both available on Amazon:
The Millionaire Plan Never Say Forever

Karen King

Karen King on Social Media:

Website
Twitter
Facebook Page Romance 
Facebook PageChildren’s Books
Pinterest
Instagram

 

Eva Jordan in conversation with… M.A. Comley

I am chuffed to bits to have the wonderful Mel Comley as guest author on my blog today. Author of the Justice Series and the Intention series, Mel is one of the few indie authors listed as a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Here, Mel gives us a fascinating insight into how she started her writing career.

*****

Thank you for inviting me, Eva, it’s been a long time since someone has asked me to write a blog post for them. 🙂

Now, what to choose as a subject, I know, how about writing!

To me, writing and entertaining my fans and the general reading public is like a drug. I’m addicted to writing. I have over thirty titles to my name now, most of which are fast-paced thrillers, the rest are either romances or some erotic titles that I write under a pen name.

My love of writing started when I moved to France back in 2002. I began reading a Mills and Boon romance, the only book available in English at a French library at the time, about halfway through the book I threw it down in disgust and turned to my Mother and said, “I could do better than this!” That day, I enrolled in a home study Creative Writing Course and wrote two romances, but I felt something was missing, it was a chore to write them to be honest. A friend of mine lent me a James Patterson novel and the speed of that book blew me away. It was then that I began writing Cruel Justice, that first book took me over 18 months to complete, however it was the second book in the Justice series, Impeding Justice, that I unleashed to the world first.

Back in 2010 the ebook market was still in its infancy, so I picked up some valuable fans right from the word go. Impeding Justice made it into the top 40 in the Amazon UK chart and in the top 100 in the USA. It was such a thrill to see the book doing so well that I quickly wrote Final Justice, when I say quickly, it still took over 6 months to write. When I released Final Justice my fans started writing to me asking to see more of Lorne and Pete’s relationship. I revisited Cruel Justice, tweaked it a little and then released that book. It was simply amazing to see Cruel Justice romp up the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and accomplish a top 20 place in the UK and settle in the top 30  in the USA, but what pleased me even more than the high rankings on my babies, was the wonderful emails I received from my fans, it simply flabbergasted me.

Now, I just can’t stop writing. In the past few months I’ve released The Caller, written by my co-author, Tara Lyons and myself, plus I have two more titles on pre-order, although Mortal Justice will have been released by the time this post appears. The other title, Devious Intention is due for release in Aug 2016, this is a psychological thriller, the third book in the Intention series about a PI duo, Ellie and Brian.

The past six years have been incredible for me, I’m one of the few Indie authors out there who is  listed as a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author but having those accolades under my belt hasn’t altered me at all. I still work over 100 hours a week, why? Because I love writing and entertaining people.

To anyone thinking that this writing lark is a way to make a quick buck – it ain’t. Only people who are committed to their craft and determined to succeed will make it in this world. It takes stamina and a lot of willpower to keep coming up with great plot ideas and believable and likeable characters who the reading public fall in love with.

Thank you again, Eva, I hope I haven’t bored people too much. 🙂

MelMel Comley

M.A. Comley on Social Media:
Website
Newsletter Sign Up
Facebook Page
Twitter 

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Anna Shenton

I am really pleased to have the lovely Anna Shenton as guest author on my blog today. Author of Seduced By Mind Tricks, Lust For Survival and Writing Spelled Out, Anna also runs the really friendly and helpful Facebook group The Writers Authors and Readers Group. As well as telling us a little about herself, Anna also explains how daydreaming helps her to write.

How daydreaming sessions helped me write! 

Thank you Eva, for the kind invitation to write a guest post. Having read many of your wonderful posts I realise I have my work cut out, and hope to make this fulfilling, interesting and joyful.

Anna Shenton (1954) – I was born in a small village in Staffordshire, England and experienced an interesting upbringing by my English father, and German mother. My two elder siblings Ilona and Steven, and later, a surprise brother from Germany helped fuel my imagination for writing. We lived in the real world in our new council house, metal window frames, freshly plastered walls, newspaper squares on a string in the bathroom, home-made ginger beer in the pantry, strawberries in the garden and lots of helpful neighbours!!! Woow!!!

My flair to create comes from my family, I think. I have a locally famous artist, Uncle Stan Richards, who has and continues to, paint and sell many beautiful paintings, often donating proceeds to the air-ambulance. My late father enjoyed pencil/cartoonist drawing which he occasionally contributed to the Daily Mirror. I spent many hours watching him sketch with charcoal; hence, I also like to dabble for fun myself.

My Late brother wrote his Debut Novel (Notes in the Margin) in Mumbai, which unfortunately hasn’t been published. I hope to look into this soon. And last but not least my Sister writes a very popular frugal blog (Mean Queen) she is amazing.

Always known as a bit of a daydreamer in class I was determined to put my vivid imagination onto paper someday.

Having left school at the ripe old age of fifteen I started work in a new Sainsbury’s store where I trained and became Senior Chief Clerk.

Ok, you want to know a little more about me today!!!

I live in Staffordshire with my lovely retired policeman hubby. We love to travel with our touring caravan – Any country goes!! Our favourite pastimes is walking, cycling, eating and enjoying a bottle of wine or two.

Ah yes… we do go to the gym and swim daily too, whilst not gallivanting!

We share a fantastic family of six sons and daughter-in-law’s, and millions of adorable grandchildren, so to say the least, there is no shortage of inspiration.

We fill the garden with vegetables to share with them and the toy cupboard overflows onto the bunk beds which they occasionally, in turn, sleep in, with the famous big ted!

Christmas is always a family affair!!

Always loved to write. Kids flown the nest! I ploughed into a home study course with the Writing School of London. Amazing stuff!  Success with Star Letter Pages and Fillers for Women’s’ Commercial Magazines was encouraging.

Venturing forward, my articles were soon published in Hobby publications, Practical Caravan, Caravan Magazine, Modellers World and Writers Forum International.

Poems didn’t go amiss either. Growin’ Owd – my pet poem – won World Book Day prize 2015 with Vind & Vag Publishing House, and, I loved writing short stories for writing group anthologies, where I used to be fund organiser.

Inspiration from life experiences and reading other authors helped me write Seduced by Mind Tricks, my debut romance novel and create short stories.

Want to share my love for writing, with – I wanna be a writers’ friend. My eBook Writing Spelled Out is devised and rewritten from my articles to help all budding authors.

Take a peek at an excerpt – How Daydreaming Sessions enriched my writing.

Whatever you’re doing take your characters, ideas, events with you. Adapting a habit of holding daydreaming sessions with yourself will compose a sketchy plan and actuate results.

The mind is a very powerful thing, daydreaming uses a complete range of images, feelings and sounds from your memory. It can conjure up an alternative life and outcome for your characters for instance.

Memory is not abstract, it’s built from bits and bobs and provides the writer with material, and all we have to do is probe every mortal strand possible. But with that, comes a word of warning, don’t allow yourself to slip into living in solitude as a hermit.

It is imperative to keep juices flowing and add to your personal memory bank getting as much on board as possible. So get out there and get involved in as many events, functions, and social affairs as possible with your eyes and ears wide open. You are probably thinking well how am I going to find the time to do all that in my already busy life? Don’t worry; your daily routine will also throw up a few ideas for good measure. Even half an hour sitting in the park or café can illuminate the exact situations or answers you’ve been looking for. Listen and watch! Then note! It works for me.

Everyone’s creativity is sparked by unique circumstances, so start searching deeply and laboriously into your subconscious with the following examples in mind which will throw out varying shades of sunlight. The power of daydreaming can transform rags to riches. So if you are sitting comfortably, close your eyes: slow your mind down and get ready to lift-off into the unknown.

Using characters for instance – to get the imagination revolving begin with a simple exercise by inventing lives for strangers you’ve seen in the park or café. You haven’t got a clue what this person does, no plots, goals or aims. So who is she? Where is she going? Why is she walking alone? Does she resemble someone you know? Give her a name to shape her image. This will add to or may conflict with your mental picture later.

Bait planted firmly, you can now expand on it. Exercise the imagination, turn your first impressions, thoughts around into different lights, hear what it’s saying, and play with it. Note down anything interesting, images perceived. The woman I saw in the park looked pale and fragile, her skin like tissue paper, her grey-hair greasy and thin – like rats tails. She will make a perfect third character in my short story, Family Inheritance, once I have taken her up to my domain, and dissected, with what if…? Or suppose that…?

A prime example of an exercise is to re-enact in mind an incident that has happened, imagine what the outcome would have been if things had gone differently.

The following example is taken from a short story in progress. The plot is a little sketchy at this point; I need to dress it up, add fire and colour, present my characters vividly and move the story forward. So I’ll take Jenna and her mum with me while I sprawl out on the sofa and gaze expressionless at the lounge ceiling.

Jenna and her divorced mum get on well, the dilemma being that Jenna wants to move in with her fourth boyfriend. Mum hit’s the roof, it won’t work.

What situation can I conjure up to make Jenna see she’s making another mistake?

Muddling it around in my head finding several conclusions I try to envisage every possible route by applying suppose that… or what if..?

I decide to let Jenna go, but in the meantime because of the upset she has caused, mum rents out Jenna’s room to a dear old friend.

On the other hand, mum could have sold up and moved north – or disagreed with Jenna entirely, disowning her – or insisted on moving in with the happy couple to make sure he doesn’t do the dirty.

My daydreaming session helped me visualise the most appropriate situation to move the story forward and entice the reader. Jenna and her mum in your head, what does your daydream reveal? Take your time, various scenes will appear and you may find that some elements you originally thought just don’t fit. You can then ask yourself; why did her mum do that? Or why is Jenna doing this? You will begin to think further ahead and the story will form into a plot as you guide it. Although, this doesn’t mean we should ignore the initial plot, as it is essential to have an early framework.

To refresh your daydreaming delve into your private fantasies, and keep your mind active. Read widely, observe details and study people. Daydreaming also creates ambitions and goals, setting you on the path to achieving these things. It really does wonders for the imagination.

Thanks for taking the time to read this fellow writers, authors, readers and friends. I hope you found it fun!!!

Currently, I am working on a Historical Novella early 1900’s I don’t intend to rush this as I want to enjoy the experience and create the book as I wish.

Also, The Writers Authors and Readers Group is my passion. A layman in Facebook skills landed me with the group accidentally, but hey it has turned out to be awesome. We have some fab people on there and I am happy to help others. You are welcome to join, send a request it really is inspiring!

Anna Shenton

Anna Shenton:
Facebook Page
Facebook Group
Amazon Author Page

 

 

 

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Amanda Saint – Author of As If I Were A River

As If I Were A River

I’m very pleased to introduce fellow Urbane published author Amanda Saint on my blog today. Only released in April this year,  As If I Were A River is Amanda’s debut novel and has already received some rave reviews. It was selected as a Netgalley Top 10 Book of the Month for May 2016 and included in the WHSmith Travel Fresh Talent promotion.

Alison Moore, Man-Booker shortlisted author of The Lighthouse, says of As If I Were A River: Amanda Saint’s intricately plotted debut novel is a juicy Pandora’s box of mysteries and revelations.” 

As well as being a novelist, Amanda is also a short story writer and features journalist. She also runs her own creative business, Retreat West, providing all sorts of writing events. A nomad at heart, her feet haven’t stopped itching yet so she keeps on moving. 

Today, looking at the idea of missing people, Amanda discusses some of her research behind her debut novel.

Missing People

The premise of my debut novel is built around people that have gone missing but also about missing people, both in the physical sense as they are not there anymore but also in the emotional sense of wondering what might have been if they were still around.

One of the narrators is Kate, the youngest generation of three women in a family who tell the story. The story starts when her husband, Jimmy, vanishes and she has no idea what has happened to him or where he might be. But this serves as a catalyst for her to confront the issues she has been holding onto since childhood when her mother left the family and was never seen or heard from again. How this has affected everything she’s done since and how her personality has developed.

In researching the novel, I read many stories and watched documentaries about people who had gone missing, spoke to volunteers at the Missing People charity, and questioned the police in the local missing persons unit where I was living at the time. This helped me to create a realistic scenario around how Jimmy’s disappearance would be dealt with on an official level.

For the emotional reaction, I spent a lot of time just sitting and thinking about how I would feel if it happened to me and suddenly my life was no longer going to be what I thought it was. But in order to really create a compelling story I needed more conflict for Kate, there needed to be something else from her past that would add more pressure and that’s when I realised her mother, Laura, had disappeared from her life too. Once this piece of the puzzle fell into place the story really took off.

But I realised that part of the reason I was so interested in missing people is that my life has this theme running through it too. I didn’t meet my biological father until I was in my thirties; at the time when I started writing this story my husband hadn’t seen his sister for about 15 years and, due to a family falling out I wasn’t a part of, I hadn’t seen any of my cousins, aunts and uncles for about 20 years. So I had done a lot of that wondering about what relationships might have been if people had stayed around.

All of this fed into each of the three women’s narratives who tell the story and although it is a very sad tale, there is also a strong vein of hope, optimism and redemption running through it. Now that I’ve had time to step back from the story and be a bit more objective about it – I think what it essentially boils down to is that all you really need is love.

Purchase As If I  Were A River here.

Amanda Saint

Amanda Saint on Social Media:
Facebook
Twitter