Sunday, 13 August 2017

Lindisfarne ~ Coming Soon! #PostApocalyptic #Dystopian Project Renova Book #2

Have you read Tipping Point yet?

If so, you might like to know that the sequel, Lindisfarne, will be out in late September 😀.

Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian, mild SciFi, Romantic Suspense, Government Conspiracy.

Around 95K words (approx 4k longer than Tipping Point).

Time span and structure
January 2025 ~ May 2026.  Told from alternating points of view.

Main characters:
1st person points of view:  
Vicky, her daughter Lottie (age 16/17), Heath, Aria.

3rd person points of view: 
Biker Wedge, and data analyst Doyle.

First draft of the blurb:

Six months after the viral outbreak, civilised society in the UK has broken down.  Vicky and her group travel to the Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, where they are welcomed by an existing community.  

Other survivors arrive; new relationships are formed, old ones renewed, but the honeymoon period does not last long.  Goodwill within the community begins to break down, egos clash, and the islanders soon discover that there are greater dangers than not having enough to eat.

Meanwhile, in the south, Doyle discovers that rebuilding is taking place in the middle of the devastated countryside.  He comes face to face with Alex Verlander from Renova Workforce Liaison, who makes him an offer he can't refuse.  But is UK 2.0 a world in which he will want to live? 

Lindisfarne is Book #2 in the Project Renova series.  A book of short story outtakes, entitled Patient Zero, should be available by the end of 2017, with Book #3, working title UK 2.0, due in mid 2018.  

Monday, 3 July 2017

More Annoying Language Trends, or just trends....


Have you noticed this one?  It's the latest word for any group of related products, e- or otherwise, available for sale, usually at discount.  A 'bundle' of games can be sent to your internet each month.  Looking up our options for paying for WiFi on a long train journey recently, we saw that we could purchase a 'minute bundle'.  Outside Asda, I saw a Virgin van offering their services as a 'customer discount bundle'.  It's not only the internet, though; outside a local butcher, on the blackboard, was advertised the specially priced 'meat bundle'.  Sounds disgusting.

A bundle of kindling. 

Reach Out

No longer do you make enquiries, or ask people about stuff; you reach out to them.  You don't apply for a mortgage, you reach out to your mortgage advisor.  GRRRR!


So, I forgot to put this one in at first...  Thanks to Julia and Judith (and Sharon, when I mentioned the 'bundle' thing on Facebook) for mentioning it in the comments.  It's the way people randomly start sentences with this word.  As illustrated so well by Julia:
"What do you do for a living, Tom?"
"So, I'm a dentist, and..."

Pulled Pork

It's pork and it looks sort of shredded instead of in slices, right?  And so it costs more and it's trendy.  I'd noticed it only in my subconscious until Sharon brought it to my attention.  Now, I see shelves full of the wretched stuff every time I go into a supermarket.  Oh, and when you've bought some, you can put it in your...

Hand-Stretched Ciabatta.  

Give me strength.

No Problem

Can you remember, back in the olden days, when you'd ask someone in a shop, or behind a bar, or a counter, or on the phone, to do/get something for you, how they'd say "Certainly, madam", or "I'll be just a few moments," or "Yes, that'll be fine," or even just "Yes"?

They don't say any of these things anymore.  Since about 2000, the affirmative answer has changed from that nice, short, convenient little word ('Yes') to the ghastly No Problem.

"Please can I have a taxi from outside Morrissons to *my address*?"
"No Problem"
"I'd like to book an appointment with Doctor Black on Wednesday."
"No Problem"

A while back I was in a restaurant with my father and we'd been waiting for our main course for about an hour.  Every suggestion and request we made to the waiter(s) was greeted with the answer 'no problem'.  In the end, my father said, 'well, there clearly is one, because we don't have our main course yet'.  The waiter's slightly red-faced reply?  'No problem, sir, I understand.'

And don't get me started about 'content writer'......


Thursday, 29 June 2017

How do readers discover books?

If you're a self-published or independent/small press published author, you've probably read many blog posts about what makes a reader choose to buy a book.  Is it the eye-catching cover?  The favourite genre?  The catchy blurb?  The price?  The reviews?  Of course, it's a combination of some or all of those elements.  Before any of them, though, comes the greatest problem of all:

In a time when thousands of new books are published every week, how do you get the reader to discover the actual existence of your book in the first place?  

As well as being a writer, I am an avid reader.  I read 99% of books on the Kindle app on my tablet, and download between 1 and 10 a week.  I read, or start to read, between 6 and 15 books a month.  I'm sure you've seen all those graphs showing how most readers discover the books they buy, so I thought I'd do an assessment of the around 300 books I've reviewed on my book blog.  The categories differ slightly from those you see on standard graphs, but I think the results will be interesting for writers and book bloggers to see how an average Kindle user makes her choices ~ particularly for those writers who don't buy Kindle books themselves, but hope to sell their own.

Here goes:

Amazon: chanced upon during an Amazon browse (usually in 'also boughts'), 
or books that have come up as recommended for me by Amazon.

Book Blog: downloaded after reading a review on a book blog, 
or other article about the book/author.

Personal Friend Recommendation.

Twitter, after talking to the author/getting to know them.

Twitter, via a passing tweet.

Favourite author
When I've read one book by an author via one of the other discovery routes, 
and liked it enough to buy another of their books ~ sometimes just one other, but with some authors that initial discovery has resulted in multiple downloads.

Chosen to review from the list of submissions
on Rosie Amber's Review Team, of which I am a member.

Other Review Request: I don't take requests generally,
but on occasion a fellow writer has asked me to review a book, 
or I've read submissions for an award.

Paperback lent to me.

Won the book 
(incidentally, I've since bought and reviewed all of this author's work)

Bought after watching a TV programme or film.

Classic I always meant to read.

Facebook promotion or advert.

Goodreads recommendation.

Sometimes the categories merge, for instance, when I choose a book from Rosie's review team list that I would have bought anyway.  And do bear in mind that I don't use Facebook much, and when I do it's mostly in a non-book/writing fashion.  It's worth noting, too, that I am about 50% more likely to download a book if it is available on Kindle Unlimited.

I'd be most interested to hear how you make your choices 😃

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

I am honest caring doctor and have communion in the face and breasts.....

.... I'm talking about the fake profiles that have been following me on Twitter of late!  I get followed by roughly 20 of these per day at the moment, and am writing this so that you recognise them and don't follow them back 😂😄

They target middle-aged women and are clearly made by people looking to carry out some scam or other ~ you never know what you might be clicking on if they send you a link in a DM 😱😲😳.   As Julia has said, in a comment below, it's a numbers game; the people who make these profiles are often run by the master scammer, who knows that if they make enough of them and follow enough people, eventually they'll get a 'hit' ~ someone who is foolish enough to send them money. 


Please click the links and enjoy...

Take a look at @Steven21773017

He is a perfect example; a photo that's clearly taken from photobucket or similar, and a bio in bad English.  No tweets.  They're usually 'medical doctors' or 'bankers' or 'army officers', and claim to be 'simple' or 'humble' or 'love God'.  'Am honest and caring man' is another favourite.  Sometimes the maker of these profiles has taken two pictures from whoever's profile they downloaded the photos from, and used one as a header photo Lucas20Davis who is even tweeting the occasional one!

Harry Smit is a great one - look at his tweets; he hasn't realised you need to leave a gap between words to make the user name link work...!!

US General (top picture) @BrianNott3 cant even spell his own name in his bio....
@dennisham3131 can't seem to decide how to spell his name and, though a 'military office', cannot write basic English....

... but centre stage must be given to @albertgrandy3
At least this one's tried harder with the bio!  

....although he appears to be the same person as @Drjimwilliam, a man of 'dignity and honest', albeit about 10 years older.....  and @wonderwilliam56

@CaptainJerryJa1 is working hard 'as a Navy' (does he mean navvy??!)....

And then there's @willians6643007 who appears to be the identical twin of @Lewis336David!

They target us in the hope that we are lonely, naive and looking for love; they've probably seen all these programmes like 'My Online Nightmare' about women who fall 'in love' with men they meet on the internet, and get conned out of their life savings.  My sister says she gets them popping up on Skype; they're always respectable looking, middle-aged men in military uniform, but have no actual profile.  Those on Twitter are the lowest of the low when it comes to internet scam hierarchy; they don't want to pay for online dating profiles, and aren't even intelligent enough to make sure their English is right and their profiles convincing!

Be careful.  They might con you out of your life savings.  
Then again,  I doubt they'd know where to start.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Tipping Point: coming your way on August 7th!

"I didn't know danger was floating behind us on the breeze as we walked along the beach, seeping in through the windows of our picture postcard life."

 Tipping Point ~ out 7th August
Click here to see it on Goodreads

  The facts:
  • Genre: Post apocalyptic, family drama, romantic relationships, dystopian, with a background thread of government conspiracy.  As with all my novels, it's very much a character-driven book.
  • Length: Around 90K words, ie, roughly the same length as The Devil You Know but shorter than The House of York, and Kings and Queens and Last Child.
  • Setting: The fictional Norfolk seaside town of Shipden (based on Cromer), and a fictional village in Tyne and Wear, Elmfield (loosely based on Monkton Village, near Jarrow).
  • Main Characters: 34 year old Vicky Keating and her 16 year-old daughter, Lottie.  Her long-term partner, Dex.  Friends Kara and Phil, and Heath and his teenage son, Jackson.

The blurb
The year is 2024.  A new social networking site bursts onto the scene.  Private Life promises total privacy, with freebies and financial incentives for all.  Across the world, a record number of users sign up. 

A deadly virus is discovered in a little known African province, and it's spreading—fast.  The UK announces a countrywide vaccination programme.  Members of undercover group Unicorn believe that the disease is man-made, and the public are being fed lies driven by a vast conspiracy.

Vicky Keating's boyfriend, Dex, is working for Unicorn over two hundred miles away when the first UK outbreak of the virus is detected in her hometown of Shipden, on the Norfolk coast.  The town is quarantined under military lockdown, and, despite official 'no need to panic' claims, within days the virus is out of control.

In London, government employee Travis is working on a bulk data analysis project when he begins to question its purpose, while in Newcastle there are scores to be settled...

Sequel Lindisfarne is set on the island of the same name (click link for pictures) and will be out in September.  An outtake short story collection, Patient Zero, is planned for around Christmas, with Book 3 out in mid 2018.


Saturday, 20 May 2017

#amwriting - or would be if I could string a sentence together....

....what to do when the words just won't come.

You've probably been there.  It's first draft season and, the night before, when you were watching a mediocre film on TV, half your mind was planning out the next few scenes of your plot.  You can't wait to get back to it.  Next day, you make your beverage of choice, sit down and ... nothing.  You write a couple of paragraphs, and think, "If I paid money for this, I'd ask for a refund".  Your dialogue is banal, your descriptions wooden, and that scene that seemed so intriguing and relevant last night now comes across as hackneyed/unfeasible.  

A few suggestions about what to do when this happens 
(and what not to do):
  • Push through it.  It might be that the spark re-ignites in the next scene, and it begins to flow, after all.
  • Push through, even if it doesn't.  But won't this section be useless, and need to be scrapped, anyway?  Probably.  Or maybe it can be improved upon in the second draft.  There might be some good ideas hidden in the bad stuff.  The important thing is that you've got it down, and taken the draft to the next stage.
  • Do you have a daily word count target/must-write for your first drafts?  I do.  It's 2K.  I don't allow myself to get up from my chair until I have written those 2K.  On odd days like this, though, I give myself a break.  I say, "Right, it's not a good writing day, so you can get up when you've written 800".  Inevitably, I carry on and write more.
  • Accept it.  Don't give yourself a hard time, and bow out for the day. Use that allotted writing time for something you wouldn't otherwise have done, so you feel it wasn't wasted.  Like the ironing.  Yes, yes, I know that in the grand scheme of things the ironing isn't anywhere near as important as your novel, but most of us don't live in the grand scheme of things.  And tomorrow, when the sentences are falling out of your head faster than you can write them, you won't have to think, 'damn, better stop now, I've got to do the ironing.'
  • Write a blog post.  Write the plan for the short story you've had in your head for a couple of months.  Plan out the next few chapters.  Write the first draft of the blurb.  Any of these things will give you a sense of achievement and put you in a better mood - and they might even give the creativity a kick start.
  • Talk it through with a writer friend, either in person or via emails.  It might not solve the problem, but it's good to talk to someone who will understand. 

And what not to do?
  • Get drunk and morose about it.  You're not Hunter Thompson or Ernest Hemingway.  It'll just make you feel worse, and you won't be able to write tomorrow, either, because you'll have a hangover.
  • Read one of your favourite books.  It'll make you even more depressed, and convinced that you might as well unpublish everything you've ever written.
  • Take it out on your loved ones, acting the prima donna about your 'writer's block'.  Don't glamorise it; it's not some mysterious syndrome that afflicts the creative/artistic.   You just can't think what to write, that's all.
  • Become convinced that you will never be able to write anything decent, ever again.  You will.  It'll come back

But what if it goes on for over a week, or a month?  If you've already written several novels, maybe it's just that you need a break.  Some writers start the next one as soon as the current WIP has been despatched to the proofreader.  Some need a few months to collect their thoughts.  If it's your first try, it could be that writing novels isn't the best move for you at the moment, and you might be better writing short stories, or novellas, or articles, to keep your hand in until the time's right.

If you're having a bad writing day today, I hope the words flow better tomorrow!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

If Twitter had been around in the 1980s... (Part Four)

.... what would some of my Twitter friends looked like, and been tweeting about?

To see what we're up to 30 years on, just click the user name above the picture.

More youthful faces and Yuppie restaurants in Part One  HERE
... big hair and lack of jowls in Part Two  HERE
... Levi ads and pixie boots in Part Three  HERE

Alison Williams @AlisonW_Editor 

#FridayNight: Black hat? Check.  Black make-up? Check.
See you after the black hours....
(btw, am not a Thompson Twin)


Trisha Ashley @trishaashley

Pregnant, barefoot but not in the kitchen!  My #artwork on the wall; post-birth, do I take A Leap Of Faith and concentrate on #art, or #writing? 


Barb Taub @barbtaub

Where did these come from?  Aren't I supposed to be a high-flying journalist? #amdreaming about a no-kids trek around India....


Sarah Boucher @saraheboucher

Am hoping my fairy godmother will magic me some new shoes 😍 .... the modern day fairytale#SixYearOldShoeaholic


Rose Edmunds @RoseEdmunds

Life Goals:
Be Sleeping Beauty
Be Famous #Writer
Wear pyjamas most days.
Yes, all at once.


Val Poore @vallypee

That was me, thinking I'd never wear school uniform again... #ProperWritingJob
I WILL live on a barge one day, I will, I will....


Terry Tyler @TerryTyler4

What a great way to see out the 1980s: meeting Steven Tyler on Saturday, November 25th, 1989! 

..... and I'll leave you with a few more, just for laughs.  First one is Proofread Julia and me, in 1984 😂😆😅

 I think this one was at the beginning of 1983 
(I had my first blonde highlight in 1984!)

 Julia outside my shop in Northampton, in 1984

 ...and a very early 1980s one - think this was taken in April 1980

Might think about doing a 1990s one some time......

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

If Twitter had been around in the 1980s... Part Three

....what would some of my Twitter friends have looked like and been tweeting about?

To see what we're up to now, just click the username above the picture 😃

More from the Big Hair decade in Part One HERE
... and even more shoulder-padded fun in Part Two HERE


Rose Edmunds @RoseEdmunds 

#Thatcher'sBritain?  No, taking time off from the cut-throat world of high finance to give some exposure to my maternal instincts...!


Nick Mann @Nickmann70

Fancy myself in the new Levis ad. Another Nick (Kamen) beat me to it. 


Jill Doyle @JillsBookCafe

My favourite pixie boots!  And love my new scarf; could this become my signature look? Now to find a nice Cafe and have a Good Read!


Liz LLoyd @LizanneLloyd 

Mum of the year - if only she would sleep, so I could get Lost in a Good Book! #amreading #Iwish 


Bev Spicer @BevSpicer1 

Practising my Bunny Girl pout in Crete! #TravelTuesday


Julia Gibbs @ProofreadJulia 

Just woke up from an amazing #dream set in the future, in which I was working for #A-ha! Must make it come true 😍 #MortenHarket #MondayMotivation
Julia in 2002....