Tag Archives: writing

The New Pup at Bloodhound

A lot has happened since May, and what follows is a resume of those two months.

The latest CSI Eddie Collins novel, provisionally entitled The Death of Jessica Ripley continues to gather dust on the shelf here in the Writing Pad. I began it in March and blitzed through the first 25k words feeling excited and looking forward to seeing how Eddie handles his latest crisis. I can’t wait to get back on with it because it has the potential to be the best Eddie book I’ve written to date.

So why have I stopped writing it?

On the 19th May, I wrote this:

Bex stood on the back step looking at the door. It was open.

She never left it open. Billy never left it open either. The only time this door was unlocked was when they were going through it.

I wrote that and the subsequent fifty thousand words (to date) because I had begun negotiations with a publishing company called Bloodhound Books. They’d seen and liked the Eddie Collins books and wondered if I could create something entirely new, a standalone, just for them. Because I love a challenge, Dancing at the Devil’s Door (provisional title) was born.

It is far removed from my usual work. I had lost my lead man and his cast of supporting characters – I felt alone for the first time since Eddie came into my life around 2004. Thirteen years is a long time, and Eddie and I have grown to know each other pretty well, so being without him now is like setting off on an adventure without your best friend accompanying you.

Instead I’m travelling with a woman, Becky Rose (note the name change). I thought writing her would feel forced, but I needn’t have worried because writing a female a lead, this female lead, feels comfortable. Becky took some getting used to though, like meeting and working with a new person does in real life – for me anyway.

 

As I mentioned, there’s no sign of Eddie Collins anywhere in Devil’s Door (he’s furious!), in fact there’s no CSI involvement at all in this book; they don’t even warrant a mention. The police are featured in the book, of course – it’s a crime thriller, but not in any great depth, more on a personal level than a professional one. No, this book focuses entirely on its protagonist, Becky. And despite the early sample above, it’s now in first person.

For those of you who’ve read the Eddie Collins short stories, you’ll know I like to play with first person writing, but had always been afraid I couldn’t sustain it for an entire novel. Think about it; the writer cannot stray from inside that person’s head. He can only describe what she sees, hears, feels, and experiences; there’s no hopping over to a secondary story line to see what’s going on there either. It’s intense, it’s almost claustrophobic, and it’s extremely personal.

Bloodhound offered a contract based on the first two chapters (still in first draft!) and a hastily prepared synopsis of the rest of the book. Even the synopsis has a story: I didn’t have one – a synopsis, I mean. I usually write my books on the fly with no idea where they’re heading. I’ll stop half way through and try to make sense of what’s happening and where the story should logically go, but I didn’t have that luxury with Devil’s Door. So I had to think a long way ahead and consider how it might pan out. And having a scene list to follow has been a good thing for me; it’s allowed me to crack on with the writing rather than pause and consider too much.

I’m still buzzing about the chance of working with the people at Bloodhound – they have a splendid reputation. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll keep you posted (hopefully a little more promptly next time). Whatever happens, I’ll be back on Jessica Ripley very soon.

 

A new CSI Eddie Collins story – The Note

There’s a rumour going round that a new CSI Eddie Collins story is about to break free.

I can confirm that rumour is true! It’s called The Note.

It’s not a full length novel, it only weighs in at a shade under 13k words, which is about 65 pages or so. But, like The Lift, it’s written in first person, so it’ll seem an even quicker read just because of that.

And it is fast – I’ve written it with no fat or padding, it races from one scene to the next, and I think you’ll enjoy the final scenes especially.

I really enjoy writing Eddie, as you know, and I really enjoy writing short stories from his point of view – it’s very refreshing. I’ve said in previous interviews that I don’t think I could sustain first person writing for an entire novel, and I still believe that to be true – it’s just too exhilarating, and too claustrophobic. But a short is perfect.

Again, as in The Lift, he has no extra baggage, there’s no Charles to worry about, no one from the office to bother us, it’s just us, him, and the story.

I’ve written the blurb, and I’ve prepared a cover image, and now all I have to do is re-read the story once more, maybe tweak it here and there, and then I’ll send it out to my advance readers for their opinions.

If all goes well, I hope to have it on the virtual and physical bookshelves around the 5th May.

I’ll edit this post when I can show you the cover (it’s still under wraps), but for now, please read the blurb, and I’d love to know your reaction to it.

The Note

I’m Eddie Collins, a CSI.

Ever had that feeling of being watched but when you turn around no one’s there?

I did.

It was raining, and I was working a murder scene around midnight when that prickle ran up my spine. If I’d listened to that feeling, if I’d thought back to my past, maybe I could have prevented the terror that was to come.

Back at the office, I found a death threat on my desk.

I had no idea who sent it, or why they wanted to kill me.

But I was about to find out.

BBC Interviews, February and March 2017

Being interviewed via email is so very easy, and I really enjoy them too! I have time to think about my answers, about how I’d like to come across depending upon the tone of the questions.

But in February, BBC Radio Leeds contacted me and asked if I’d like to do an interview on the radio! No way could I refuse – how often does a request like this land in my inbox? But, if truth be known, I wasn’t looking forward to it. As well as email interviews, I don’t mind one-to-one questioning; in fact I quite enjoy it. But speaking to an audience of thousands on the air! I was petrified.

But then I relaxed a little because it was a pre-recorded interview. I could make as many blunders as I liked and none of them would ever make it out alive. As it turned out, the lady interviewing me, Gayle Lofthouse, was a true professional, and she kept the nerves at bay.

It was a short interview, but I’m very grateful to her and BBC Radio Leeds for the chance to speak with her.

Here’s a link to the Gayle Lofthouse show. I hope you enjoy listening to me squirm!

But if I was petrified by a pre-recorded interview, imagine how I felt when I got an email asking if I’d like to appear on the radio live! Andrew Edwards’s producer contacted me with a view to doing a live interview on the 6th March, for his Book Hour show.

My nervousness steadily increased. And so did the bad case of man-flu I was suffering from too. It became so bad that on the 5th I had to ring and cancel – I could barely speak. All those sweaty palms were for nothing. The BBC though were very understanding, and we re-scheduled the torture for the following Monday – right before I was due to start work. I’d have to take my uniform to the studio with me, and drive like a madman in order to get to work on time.

Bear in mind that I talk gibberish (my lady, Sarah, calls it wobbly-gob!) when I’m under pressure, and you’ll understand why I get so giddy on air during my time there. I was terrified, and sometimes when I’m terrified I’m liable to break out in the odd bout of swearing. And this thought just added to the terror.

I needn’t have worried too much though, as Gayle before him, Andrew was a consummate pro, and he guided me along quite nicely. You might notice that he threw in a low-baller right at the end, and I was flummoxed; couldn’t think straight and so I said the first thing that came to mind, and wish I hadn’t. Tom Cruise? Really? Sorry, Tom.

In fact, the interview went so well that, while he was playing some music, Andrew asked if I’d like to extend it. He had a pre-recorded interview with another author lined up, but said he’d play that another day. I’d never get asked this kind of question again, and so I agreed, knowing I was in real danger being late for work.

So the ten minute session turned into twenty-five minutes. But that didn’t make me late for work. What did make me late was that I’d forgotten my boots, and so I had to drive home for them anyway. Tut.

Here’s the link to the Andrew Edwards interview.

Note, these files are very large. Google will give you the option of downloading them in order for you to listen them.

Ledston Luck Launch Day 20th January 2017

Launch Day.

I take my hat off to Amazon. I’ve had Ledston Luck uploaded onto the dashboard for the better part of 6 weeks. All I had to do to launch it was press GO. But I kept it there until the advertised launch date so that I might fix any errors that advance readers might find – and they did. They have amazing eyes for this kind of thing. But anyway, I take my hat off to Amazon because when I hit the big green GO button, a message saying ‘It can take up to 72 hours for your book to go live’.

I had chest pains at that, and I went a little light-headed. I was sure – absolutely sure – that it usually took 12 hours, not 72! That had just shattered my launch day into a million tiny fragments.

But, and at last this is why I take my hat off to them, they published it in less than six hours. It was available to buy from about 11pm on the 19th January – precisely one hour ahead of scheduled time, about 6pm New York time.

And so I awoke this morning (after having screamed my way through the night because of a cramp in my right calf that felt like it was being eaten right off my leg without anaesthetic) with some superb news. People had noticed it was available and had bought it, and had uploaded their reviews. It really doesn’t get much better than that for us authors.

But it has.

Already, only 18 hours into its new life, Ledston Luck has charted at number 15 in Legal Thrillers (UK), and is #2009 overall.

I already said this somewhere on Facebook; but I smiled so wide that my chin almost fell off.

It hasn’t been jelly and cake all day though. I’ve been busy. There were well over 100 Facebook notifications, and approximately 80 emails to attend to. And I’ve just finished those now, some nine hours after I climbed out of the shower.

If this is what it’s like being a full-time writer…

Bring it on!

I’ll try to do another blog post at the end of the week, and we’ll see how well Ledston Luck did in her first few days on earth.

But in the meantime, to everyone who’s help this thing into the public gaze, and to everyone who’s read it, loved it, and reviewed it…

THANK YOU!

Scene Structure

Today I was asked if there is a specific purpose behind the structure of my novels, specifically The Third Rule and Black by Rose.

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Yes. There is.

And you have to bear in mind that although I’m on my tenth novel, I’m still developing – and I suppose I will until I turn my toes up. But anyway, the theory behind the short scenes in The Third Rule was quite simply to break up some very long chapters, and to allow me to move back and forth between characters and their circumstances while remaining inside a chapter.

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Black by Rose is a different story; it’s shorter, punchier, sharper, not so much of a deep insight into each character’s story, more a smash and grab. And that’s down the scene structure. I used scenes inside chapters this time to keep the narrative flowing, and to keep the reader on their toes. It’s a method I also employ in the latest book, Sword of Damocles.SoDFrontCover26.5.16

Overarching those theories is one other reason I use scenes like that: because that’s how I visualise the story. I like films, and I like how the director cuts between scenes and characters, sometimes settling on one for just a second or two. That’s how I see their story unfurling, and that’s also how I see mine. I spent four or five years writing screenplays, and the scene breaks are crucial there. I’d like to say that my novels’ structure is down to script-writing, but it’s not; I was writing books long before scripts.

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As I work to eventually write shorter chapters (really working on that with the current project, Ledston Luck – and it’s a hard habit to break), I’ll keep on with the scenes and the sub-scenes because they work for me as a writer, and I’ve heard nothing negative so far from readers.

If you’ve read any of the books mentioned here, or any of mycharlie-chaplin-392926_1920 earlier books featuring Roger Conniston, how do you feel about the scenes and even the sub-scenes? Do you like them, helps break things up, or do you hate them because you lose continuity?

My Way – Part Three

Writer’s block.

I suppose since so much has been written about writer’s block, it must exist. I’ve been stuck several times. Most notably in my recent past, I was stuck on how to end The Third Rule. I wrote no less than six endings for that book until I chose the one that felt right. I followed the little rule above (My Way – Part Two), where I selected what was emotionally right for the character as well as the story and eventually it fell out of the keyboard by itself, quite satisfactorily.

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You have to know about the scene you’re trying to write, you have to know where you want it to end – by that I mean that each related scene must logically follow on to the next in a chronologically and emotionally accurate manner – not necessarily how it appears in the book, there might be another half dozen scenes featuring different characters in between them – but you have to know what job the scene you’re stuck on is there to perform and work towards it. If you don’t know what its job is, then how can you write it? This is where the flow chart might come in handy for you: it’ll help determine where in the story this particular scene fits, give it a purpose, and give you the tools to crack on and write it.

You only have writer’s block when you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.

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Sadly, I too suffer from this; but my own version of writer’s block is determining what story to write. Now, for instance, I’ve finished Sword of Damocles, and have a few hours to myself. I could slap myself for not using this time more wisely to get on with writing the next Eddie Collins story. Instead, I’m sitting here writing a blog post on how I write. Der!

Editing.

I have several failings as an editor. Firstly, I don’t let the book cool down enough after I’ve finished it. I consider the length of time it took to write the damned thing enough of a time gap in order to go back to the beginning and start editing. I am so very wrong. In almost every case where I’ve read a piece of my ‘edited’ work months after I published it, I have been able to make it better or spot the errors I was blind to back then.

I do not like this. But I justify it to myself thus: Improving a manuscript over time is easy because you are an improved reader and so an improved writer. If I were to live by this philosophy, I would never publish anything. I accept that there will always be areas in which a story can be improved, but you have to stop somewhere, don’t you?

Editing Printed Pages

I find it easiest to spot the typos and inconsistencies from a printed version rather than on screen. I’ve pondered this anomaly and cannot think of why it should be so. But it is, I recognise it as a fact, and I always do it this way.

Also, I’m not actually very good at reading. I mean I read like most people do, in that I see what I want to see, so am rubbish at spotting omissions and general errors. I’m extremely lucky in that I have some good friends who not only love reading but who have the eyes of a shithouse rat and excellent mindsight. I am in awe of them.

And there’s another reason why I’m not especially gifted when it comes to editing: when I’ve finished with something, I like to move right along to the next project. This is a failing of mine since a work in progress is not actually finished until it’s actually finished. You get the idea; I’ll resist the urge to waffle on this one further.

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But before I leave the Editing section, I let you into a secret foible of mine. I can only edit with a red Bic pen. It also has to have a fine tip, not medium. And if I make notes about the story as I’m reading through it, (and I also do this during the story’s construction) I use a 0.5mm mechanical Staedtler pencil fitted with HB lead, writing on an A5 spiral bound pad. I hate using pen because it looks messy, and I love how the pencil feels in my hand and I adore how it writes, so free and easy. I know, I know, crazy bird!