I was fortunate to meet my next lovely guest at a writers’ event last year and was delighted when she agreed to pop over to my blog for a chat about her new novel, Winning Ace, released 29th May. Allow me to welcome author, Tracie Delaney.
The Fun Stuff:
What part of the world do you come from?
I’ve lived my whole life in the North West of England and I currently live just outside the wonderful Roman City of Chester.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A vet. I love dogs and horses and in my younger years I was an avid horse rider. Unfortunately I discovered at an early age I was terrible at science (sobs)
I’m delighted to host a guest post by popular author, Rob Sinclair as he tours the blog-o-sphere with his latest release, The Red Cobra.
A typical writing day
When I was given the idea of writing a blog about what constitutes a typical writing day for me – about three weeks ago now – I was in a good run of form drafting my latest book. At that point I thought I new exactly what I’d write about; the process I go through to draft a new book. Now, though, three weeks later, I’m struggling a bit because I’m just not sure that ‘typical’ is really the right word to describe what I was going to say.
The answer I’d intended to give, and the one I often give to people when they ask about how I write a book, is this: Quite a long time ago I decided on setting myself a word target each day. 4,000 was the number I chose. I really can’t remember why now, perhaps it was from my first couple of drafts, a daily average I’d noticed emerging. Wherever it came from it stuck, and I’m still using that target now, in the middle on my eighth draft. Targets like that aren’t for everyone, but for me it’s a great motivator. When I hit the target it always give me a real sense of satisfaction, and it really helps to break down the writing process into manageable chunks. Starting on day one with 80,000 words left to write is really daunting, so just taking it one day at a time helps a lot. 4,000 words a day might sound a lot, but I’ve found it easily achievable when I’m in the zone, usually taking me 4-5 hours of solid writing, followed by 1-2 hours of read through.
You might compute, therefore, that if I write 4,000 words a day, for five days each week, aiming for a draft of 80,000 words, that I could write thirteen books a year!!? So why am I only planning on writing two this year? Well, firstly because of editing. 4,000 words a day is just my drafting stage. Before publication I’ll go back through a book maybe as many as ten times, editing and re-editing and sometimes re-writing. Each of those read throughs can take anywhere from a week to a month. Still, that should equate to more than two books, surely? Maybe three or four at least?
But then you need to factor in that BIG missing ingredient; life. And by that I don’t mean playing golf and watching movies (well, not just those two things, anyway)…
The thing is, I’m not just a writer, I’m a stay at home dad as well. I have two sons, six and four, and my wife works full time. I (usually happily) pick up virtually all the childcare duties during the working week, whether it be breakfast, school runs, dinner, bedtimes, school holidays, sick days, teacher training days etc etc. That right there is a big chunk of my available time in the working week gone. When there’s no pre or post school club for the kids to go to my working hours are immediately cut to 9am-3pm. Suddenly 4,000 words a day becomes a bit more of a challenge.
Then there’s everything else that comes with being in the house all day, everyday. Cooking, cleaning, washing, gardening. That’s just the usual stuff. Oh, last week we were burgled, so I spent a whole day the day after organising new locks and security upgrades and talking to insurance and the police. The week before we had a carpenter putting in some new doors so I spent three days afterwards painting and finishing everything off. Today I’m writing blogs for the blog tour of my upcoming release of The Red Cobra. I do my own taxes, and keep my own business records, which takes time all the time. We’re in the process of remortgaging, which I always think will be simple, but which never is, and I’ve lost count of how much time I’ve lost, sat listening to the same music on hold to the bank the last couple of weeks. My phone broke the other day, cue 3 hours trying to get the new phone I bought to take the iPhone back-up without any hitches. We had leaking pipes outside. I’ve tried my best to fix it all – still monitoring as to whether or not I managed it. Today we’ve got a leaking toilet! Guess that needs sorting tomorrow. Plus please don’t forget the very important ‘me’ time I allow myself every now and then; exercise, reading a book, watching a movie. Oh yeah, and it’s a lovely sunny day today, I think spring has arrived. I’m expecting the annual list of the jobs that need doing in the jungle… I mean garden, to come from my wife any day now. Walls will need to be built, or repointed. Patios slabs cleaned – probably grouted too. Paint will be needed out there somewhere. Trees and hedges cut. Lawns mowed. And there’s always LOTS of digging involved.
But please, don’t think I’m complaining about any of this. It’s the life I’ve chosen. I really enjoy being a writer, setting my own rules, and writing when I want to (and can), but at the same time keeping the house and family together, and having the time to do all of those odd jobs in and around the house to make sure weekends are still free for the wife and kids. Plus, at least I’m not stuck in an office all day, like I used to be, working to someone else’s agenda. I never got along with that.
Coming back to the main point, then, is that when I think about the question at hand here: What does my typical writing day look like? The best answer I can give is that there’s no such thing as a typical day for me. And that’s perhaps the thing I love about being a writer the most.
Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series of espionage thrillers featuring embattled agent Carl Logan, with over 200,000 copies sold to date. The Enemy series has received widespread critical acclaim with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.
Rob’s fourth book, the pulsating psychological thriller Dark Fragments, released by Bloodhound Books in November 2016, has been described as ‘clever’ and ‘chilling’ and an ‘expertly crafted’ story, and became an Amazon UK top 50 bestseller soon after its release.
Rob’s forthcoming James Ryker series follows on from the Enemy books, with the first novel, The Red Cobra, being released in April 2017.
Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.
Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.
Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.
Carl Logan dedicated nearly twenty years of his life to the Joint Intelligence Agency. Now living in a secret location, under the new identify of James Ryker, he wants nothing more than to be left alone, the chance to start a new life away from chaos, violence, destruction and deceit.
It’s not long, however, before Ryker’s short-lived idle is destroyed when he is tracked down by Peter Winter, his ex-boss at the JIA. Winter brings with him news of the murder of a woman in Spain, Kim Walker, whose fingerprints match those of one of Ryker’s former adversaries who’s been missing presumed dead for years – an infamous female assassin known as the Red Cobra.
A cyberattack at the JIA led to the Red Cobra’s profile being compromised, and Winter believes JIA agents may now be at risk too, Ryker included. But Ryker knew the elusive Red Cobra better than anyone, and when he sees the grisly pictures of Kim Walker’s corpse, he has news for Winter – she isn’t the assassin at all …
So just who is the mystery dead woman? And where is the real Red Cobra?
The Red Cobra is a fast-paced thriller filled with twists and turns and intrigue that will appeal to readers of big-hitting thrillers by the likes of Lee Child and David Baldacci, and with echoes in its plotting and breadth of the globe-trotting spy thriller I Am Pilgrim.
I am so happy to welcome Virginia King, author of The First Lie (Selkie Moon Mystery), to my blog. Her latest novel, The Second Path was published on 20 May 2016. Virginia has also written a short ghost story, entitled Laying Ghosts, as a prequel to the Selkie Moon mysteries – you can grab your FREE copy below. Over to Virginia…
Nudity for Beginners
Nudity is a great theme for fiction writers. Even if they’re not actually writing the next bestselling bodice-ripper, writers LIVE nudity every day. Every time they sit down at the keyboard they bare their souls to their future readers – because the themes behind the words are very revealing and this virtual ‘nudity’ weaves itself symbolically through the work.
Then the act of publishing is like standing naked in the middle of the road. Everyone can see you, see all your crinkles and crevices. Everyone can judge you – and express their opinion without considering whether it hurts.
The Bride Stripped Bare
Remember when this book was published anonymously? There was no rest until Australian author Nikki Gemmell was outed. She tried to hide behind her investigations into woman’s secret sex lives but the public was never going to let her stay hidden. Once she was in the spotlight it was her turn to be ‘stripped bare’.
Naked as a Seal
In my psychological mystery series, the protagonist Selkie Moon is named after the seal people of Celtic folklore, the ones who peel off their skins and dance naked in human form under the moon. Selkie’s a modern woman with a mythical name that comes with an ancestral heritage – every time a selkie peels off its skin it’s symbolic of being reborn.
Perhaps for this reason nudity is a theme throughout the series. In The First Lie, Selkie’s business advisor suggests she tries running seminars in front of thousands of people. She’s not keen.
“You’re scared as hell, that’s all,” he says. “Good.”
“Good? That’s easy for you to say. You’re at the back of the room counting the money. I’m the one up on stage with no clothes on in front of three thousand people.”
He laughs. “So it excites you.”
“Scared and excited.” He smiles.
Later Selkie decides to purge her anger towards her ex-husband by cleaning the flat she shares with Wanda.
I’m not much of a housekeeper but cleaning has always soothed my wounded heart. During my marriage the mop and broom were the only things that kept me sane. Wanda isn’t much of a cleaner either – she’s against all ‘chemicals’ – but there’s a feather duster hanging behind the front door. I look across the room and wonder where to start.
Not in these clothes. I strip off my jeans and top, but don’t stop there. Suddenly my knickers and bra are on the floor too. I’m not much of a housekeeper but I usually keep my clothes on. Not tonight!
The Second Path
Selkie can’t seem to get away from the nudity of her namesakes, the selkies. Here’s the first line of The Second Path:
I wake on the beach and discover I’m naked.
Selkie’s nudity – and the mystery of her missing little black dress – drive her journey through the book. The garment is very special to her and I had to get right to the end of the book to find out why she’d lost it.
I’d written many drafts of the ending until I thought it was finished. All the themes had come together except this one crucial thread was missing – the reason for the missing dress! With the realisation of my omission, I was suddenly … exposed.
Exposure = Pressure
Typical of the way I create my books, I actually didn’t know why Selkie had lost her dress. Time to dig deep. I spent a restless night hoping the answer would ‘pop’ and it did. My sleeping mind latched onto a concept in an earlier scene – something symbolic that I’d written without the dress in mind at all – but suddenly that concept provided the answer to the missing dress and the reason for Selkie’s nudity. It’s added a whole extra layer of depth to the story, but I needed the pressure of making the mistake, then having it exposed, to pop this elegant solution.
The First Lie is a winner of a B.R.A.G. Medallion.
Grab yourself a FREE ghost story
Get a taste for the Selkie Moon mystery series with Laying Ghosts, a modern 24-page haunted house story inspired by a Russian folktale and tangled up in a murder ballad dating back to the 1700s. It’s a standalone story but also a prequel to the series. Download your free copy here: http://www.selkiemoon.com/#popup
When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series what’s a writer to do? That’s how Virginia King came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a strange woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. Virginia sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up. All she had to do was jump, the first sentence said. Soon Virginia was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.
Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.
Someone is trying to kill you. When Selkie Moon flees Sydney to start over in Hawaii, it’s to live life on her own terms. But Life has other plans. Though she tries to dismiss the warning as just another nightmare, it soon becomes apparent that someone, or something, is stalking her. Attacked by frightening visions and mysterious compulsions, she must piece together the fragmented clues before time runs out. Virginia King effortlessly blends funky creativity and deep spirituality – with a dash of Celtic folklore – to craft a story of one woman’s fight for truth, and her discovery that the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous of all.
A rock ripped from the soil, a message scrawled in lipstick on the floor, a torn photo, a silver spoon … What do they all mean?
Only her subconscious knows.
When we last left Selkie Moon, she was running towards the source of her deepest primal fear: the sea. Now she finds herself naked on the beach, stunned that she has no memory of the past two weeks.
Recovering at a friend’s house, Selkie wakes up to discover a bizarre collection of items scattered across the floor. Items she apparently gathered in her sleep. Finding the ho’ohihi – the interconnectedness – between them will carry her around the globe, from Honolulu to Sydney to Paris. A dark fairy tale journey filled with fear and despair, laughter and hope, The Second Path has Selkie searching for her place in the world, in her relationships, and in herself.
I am delighted to be hosting a Q&A with author, Ben Starling, as he travels the blog-o-sphere on his ‘Something in the Water’ tour.
First of all, tell us a little about yourself. What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
I once fell through the ice in a lake. Fortunately I was near the side and the water was only two feet deep. But it was way beyond cool—in fact it was ridiculously cold.
Do you recall your dreams? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
I do recall my dreams—and wake up thinking about them most mornings. Many recur and what interests me is they can be every few months or even every few years. Not so much nightmares, more often thought-provoking dreams.
The most interesting ones are the powerful, lucid dreams. I’ll have these for three or four consecutive nights and then they are followed by numerous synchronicities in my normal life.
Another weird thing is that during this phase, I must be projecting some sort of energy because I notice strangers looking at me in the street. I become highly visible. This fades after a week or so and hasn’t, so far, been followed by the life-changing event I anticipated when this process first started!
What have you been working on recently? Can you tell us about your new release?
Something in the Water is fundamentally a love story—with a bit of adventure in the tropics thrown in too.
Hello and thanks for stopping by! I would like to thank my host for today for letting me invade their space. And a big thanks also to 4Wills Publishing for setting up this blog tour for me. For my previous tour stops, please check out the 4Wills current events page.
I am so excited to be able to share my book trailer video with you today for my latest book, Finding Katie.
Kate has been in hospital for a while, and now faces a transfer on to a psych ward. She needs a way out. And being stuck in this one hospital room for so long is driving her nuts. The demon that lives inside has grown strong again.
Excerpt from Chapter Four:
SANDRA, THE charge nurse, comes in with a young-looking woman. All the nurses wear scrub-like uniforms, but the students still have to wear those dorky white dresses.
‘This is Suzy. She’s a student nurse. She’ll be taking out your sutures today.’ She fixes me with a stare. ‘Behave for her, please.’
I just shrug and keep flicking through my iPod. It’s great having this with me again. I settle on 21 by Adele. Sandra asks if she can speak with Melanie. My ears prick up, but I pretend inattention.
‘Just for a minute or two,’ she says. ‘Suzy can keep an eye on her.’
‘Okay.’ Melanie sounds reluctant.
They leave, and Suzy gets busy setting up the sterile field. When she’s done, she picks up the blunt-ended dressing scissors and cuts the bandage away. I steal a peek at my arm. The scar looks huge and is all pink and puckered. Damn. I had no idea it’d be so bad.
I killed someone, you see. I killed the girl, who used to be me.
I’m Kate … Kate Charlesworth. I’m seventeen, and self-harming. This time I cut too deep, and I’m in hospital. I hadn’t meant for it to be so bad—it just sort of happened. I needed a lot of distraction that day.
You’ve had bad days, right? Days it hurts too much to think. Days you just wanna stay in bed. Days when the world needs to go away for a while. Right?
What do you do when you’ve hit rock bottom? When there’s nowhere left to turn?
This one little mistake lands me back on a psych unit—the last place I wanna be. Only this time, the nurse I end up with isn’t content to stick on a band-aid and send me home. She wants me to face my demons. But to do that, I’ll have to face who I am … who I used to be … I’ll have to find Katie.
Harmony Kent is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour and quirky neighbours. She is single and not admitting to her age.
Here are ten things she thinks you ought to know about her …