Friday 31 March 2017

Interview with Tracie Podger

I'm very pleased to welcome fellow #DarkerSideOfFiction2017 author to my blog today for an interview. Tracie writes thriller/suspense and romance. Here's a little about her:

Tracie Podger currently lives in Kent, UK with her husband and a rather obnoxious cat called George. She’s a Padi Scuba Diving Instructor with a passion for writing. Tracie has been fortunate to have dived some of the wonderful oceans of the world where she can indulge in another hobby, underwater photography. She likes getting up close and personal with sharks. Tracie likes to write in different genres. Her Fallen Angel series and its accompanying books are mafia romance and full of suspense. A Virtual Affair is contemporary romance, and Gabriel and A Deadly Sin are thriller/suspense. The Facilitator is erotic romance.

And onto the interview!

 1 - What made you want to be a writer?
I suffer with depression and a few years ago spent some time in hospital, or the nuthouse as I affectionately called it! During my time there I was encouraged to write a journal. When I came home, I decided to read through that journal and, as a way to discharge those thoughts, typed it up. I decided that I would use the facts but turn it into a fictional story. This was an exercise just for me; the story was never intended to be seen by anyone. I found that I loved the process and I got lost in the fiction. I became addicted to the process. When I’d finished that story, I started to write another, and then another. I had written four books before I decided, on the advice of friends who had read those books, to publish them. The very first book, A Virtual Affair, had a rewrite, and I eventually published that in 2016. So, in answer, I think I became an author more by accident than anything planned!

2 - What kind of books do you read for pleasure?
I read all genres except sci-fi! I love romance (who doesn’t?) as well as crimes and thrillers. In fact, I decided to try my hand at writing thrillers last year.

3 - What kind of writer are you: plan or not?
It depends. For my thrillers I plan, although not in as much depth as perhaps I should. For my romance, I’m a ‘pantsa’. I have an idea, I know the characters, and I just write, letting the story and the characters dictate where we go.

4 - How does your average writing time go?
I’m a full time carer so my day is very structured, although sometimes that goes completely out of the window. I’ll spend a couple of hours answering messages and emails, checking out social media before settling down to write. I usually set myself a word count per day but I don’t stress if I can’t meet that target. I’m easily distracted, unfortunately, so, some days, I just wing it.

5 - What book/character of yours is your favourite?
Oh, that’s a tricky one. I love Robert Stone; he is my main man in the Fallen Angel series. He’s an ass sometimes, a mafia man, but one with a good heart. The Facilitator is an erotic romance and was fun to write, but I think, right now, A Deadly Sin is my favourite. Deadly is a thriller and at the beginning of each chapter we have a snippet from the villain. That was fun!

6 - If you had the chance to write anywhere, where would you choose?
I recently moved house and lost my office. So, when I finally sort out my new home (we’re turning a flat above garages into a house) I’ll have my office back. In my own space, surrounded by all my junk, is my favourite place to write.

7 - What attracted you to your chosen genre?
I write what I want to read, I’m also dictated by the characters and storyline in my head to some degree. I’ve always loved angsty romance, slightly older characters that I can relate to, and I don’t need a ‘traditional’ happy ever after. I combine all that in my romance books.

8 - How have other writers influenced your own writing?
I’m not necessarily influenced by other authors, except to want to improve my craft when I read a stunning piece of work.

9 - Do you prefer to type or hand write?
Always type! I hand write notes in a pad, but I couldn’t hand write a book and then type it up.

10 - Do you have a writing playlist? Or do you prefer silence?
Mostly, I prefer to work in silence. In fact, for many years I could not have any noise around me, it was too distracting. However, I will occasionally pop in my ear bubs and listen to a few songs. The right song can really set the mood for a scene.

11 - Do you have any hobbies?
I’m a scuba diving instructor although I don’t teach right now; I just don’t have the time. But diving and underwater photography is my only hobby.

12 - What's your favourite kind of scene to write?
Angst, drama, sex, murder, ugly cry, although I try not to combine it all in one scene! I love emotional scenes, if it produces a little leakage from the old eyes, I’m happy.

13 - Would you ever like to branch out to a different genre?
I’m a multi-genre author and, for me, when I started writing thrillers it was one of the best things I did. I read a diverse range of books so, I guess, it stands to reason that I’d try my hand writing in different genres.

14 - What does your writing space look like?
Messy! At the moment it’s a desk in the lounge. I long for a large office, a picture window looking out over fields, one wall lined with bookshelves, maybe an open fire, and a sofa…*sighs* ha ha I think I need a lottery win for my dream office. 

Thanks for joining us Tracie! If you want to follow Tracie you can find her here on Facebook.

Join Joey on Fridays here on the blog for interviews, reviews and guest bloggers. If you'd be interested in any of those you can contact Joey here.

Tuesday 28 March 2017

44 Facts About Joey [CC]


Tuesday 21 March 2017

Covver Reveal: Dying Thoughts - Fifth Secret [CC]


Monday 20 March 2017

The After Process: Release Day: Just the Beginning


So you've written your book, you've gone through the beta reader process, the editing process, the final proof. You've done all that and now it's uploaded and you're just waiting for the magic release day. That's when the fun begins, right? You just have to sit back and let the book fly off the shelves because that's all the hard work done. You wrote a book! And now it's been published! Awesome right? Yeah, it is, but after release day the work doesn't slow down, if anything it piles on harder. Welcome to my five tips for the days leading up to and after your release.

I know it may seem like the hard work is done with the writing and editing being finished, but one thing you really have to remember is: If no one knows you as an author, or that you've released a new book, how are they gonna know to buy it? Promotion starts way before you get to the release date. The release date isn't where it ends either. It goes on and on for the rest of your career. It's a long drawn out process and it's never ending. People have to know your brand, have to know your style of writing and they have to stay informed. Whether that's by word of mouth, or doing promotion through paid blog tours and press releases, you need to find what works for you and what keeps the interest going leading up to, and after your release. If you do pre-order then make sure everyone has that link as soon as possible. If you do a cover reveal, make sure you add your book to Goodreads as soon as you can. If you plan to do a release day event, again, make sure you have that build up starting as soon as you can. Same with a launch team and/or doing ARCs. You want to be lining up things before that day arrives so that when it does you have all your ducks in a row and your readers ready to buy your book.

Now I've talked before many times about how you need to make connections for things to really work in the indie world. Yes, it is possible to not engage with other authors (indie or otherwise) and succeed, but it really does help you get a leg up to do so. Whether that's by joining Facebook groups, or Goodreads communities or following people on Twitter or Tumblr. All of these are good ways to make connections with other authors. Either ones in your genre or not because in the run up to release, and the following days, weeks and months, these author friends are going to be the ones helping you as you help them. That's one thing you have to be clear on. It has to be both give and take. No one wants to be taken for granted and no one wants the friendship and the help to only go one way. There are so many Facebook groups I'm a member of, that I only know about because of those connections I made years back, and they have very much helped me with releases and with my writing and publishing journey.


You're probably already aware of this. Some people will prefer instagram, others are ardent Facebook people, and so on. The idea is that you need to find what works for you, but also what works for your readers. If you're writing YA, then you're gonna want to be on platforms like Twitter and Tumblr that attract that demographic. However, there's always going to be other platforms you can use to attract readers who are in your demographic but don't follow the normal flow. My advice would be that things like having an Instagram, and a youtube channel are not bad ideas. What you want to be doing is not only making yourself known, but telling people what you have to offer. If that means being active on all social media sites, then that's what you need to do. It feels impossible, but there are ways to work them to your advantage, which leads to my next point.

Point three is a valid point, but at the same time, you are one person and you are only human. Even if you have a PA, that's still only two people and you can't do everything. That's why things like scheduling tweets and Facebook posts exist. I know, I know, you're on a budget (isn't everyone?) and you can't afford to pay a fee to schedule tweets. I have some good news for you. There are free platforms. The one I use? Tweetdeck. You can schedule as many tweets as your heart desires and it's all free. Same with Facebook, there's a function there for you to schedule posts. And the same with sites like Tumblr. You can set up a queue that will post for you. Now what about sites that don't have that option? Well there are sites like IFTT that allow you to set up certain cross-posting things. Like say you schedule a video to be posted, but you want it also to go to Facebook. They have an option for that. Same with instagram posts going to your Facebook page. And so on. All of which is free. You may have to tweak with the recipes so that they work for you, but it's a good thing to remember that you can't do everything and be everywhere at the same time. You need sleep, and that's an important thing to remember.

And finally, #5 - DON'T FORGET TO REST
It might seem like a moot point, but it's not. The lead up to release day is packed full of things to do, people to see, interviews to right and deadlines to meet. There's the thrill that this book you worked so hard on is finally going to be picked up by readers and that's a bit of a high in itself, but you gotta have some downtime. No matter how healthy and strong you are, you need to take some time off. Even if it's only half an hour here and there. If you push yourself too much then you'll burnout and that's never fun. Yes, it's important to get the word out, but not at the expense of your health.

So there you go, my five tips for what you can do on the lead up to, and following, your release day. As always, these are tips that have worked for me, and are based on my experiences. Of course your mileage may vary. But good luck and Happy Release Day!

Follow Joey here on her blog or on Facebook or Tumblr to be kept up to date with all the latest news regarding Joey and her books.

Friday 17 March 2017

Interview with Hemmie Martin

I'm am joined today by the ever lovely, Hemmie Martin. A fellow indie author and crime writer, who's also going to be one of the attending authors at #TheDarkerSideOfFiction2017. Here's a bio about Hemmie.

Hemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Mental Health Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France. She now writes full time. Hemmie created the DI Wednesday series, featuring DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox, set in and around Cambridge, with fictional villages. There are four books in the series so far. 
Hemmie has also written a psychological thriller, Attic of the Mind, and two contemporary women's fiction, The Divine Pumpkin and Garlic & Gauloises. Mental health often features in her novels due to her background of forensic mental health nursing. Hemmie is a member of The Crime Writer's Association.

And onto the interview!

1) What kind of books do you read for pleasure?
I looked around at the book cases and shelves dotted around the house and decided that I needed to condense my choices, otherwise the entire interview would be taken up by this one question! The three books on top of my enormous tbr pile sitting next to my chair are The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell, The Museum of You by Carys Bray, and A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone. Authors I have already and continue to enjoy are Anita Brookner, Elly Griffiths, Ann Tyler, Maggie O’Farrell, and Amanda Jennings. Staples have always been Agatha Christie, Ian Rankin, and PD James. I love contemporary women’s fiction and crime novels.

2) Do you have a playlist when you write, or do you prefer silence?
Silence is always wonderful especially when plotting a novel, and writing mind maps spanning the character’s traits and interactions. However, as silence can be a rare commodity in this house, I like to listen to music without lyrics, as I find them distracting. My laptop is loaded with Chopin’s piano concertos, Irish folk music, and Sounds of the Sea. All of these add a soothing backdrop to creativity. When I’m editing I listen to a range of artists, including, Hozier, Green Day, Adele, The Black Keys, and Alice Cooper. My mood and what I’m writing dictate what I’m going to listen to, unless I’m lucky enough to have an empty house!

3) Do you have any hobbies?
I attend weekly yoga classes, and go to the gym and swimming twice a week. As much of my time is spent sitting at home, I want to exercise my body which in turn stimulates my creativity, especially yoga as it calms my mind so I can push through whatever difficulty has cropped up in the writing arena.

4) What is your favourite scene to write?
When I’m writing crime, I love writing aggressive scenes, whether it be a fight or a verbal outburst. I am not a physically aggressive person in real life, so I love experiencing it through writing. When I’m writing a contemporary novel, I love writing scenes where a character has an emotional melt-down, where negative feelings gnaw at their soul. Angst and despair are a joy to write, for me.

5) Why did you chose the genres you write?
My background is in learning disabilities and forensic mental health nursing, so I have a deep interest in these topics. All of my novels, even the crime ones, feature mental health issues in some form or another, and I’ve just finished another novel featuring a boy with Down’s syndrome. I also enjoy researching mental health issues, as things are always changing in this arena, and I don’t know everything about it, so the research is fascinating, but sometimes distracting too!

6) Do you prefer to type or hand write?
I have tried both ways, but currently I’m preferring to hand write first, so I can sit by a lake with my hubs as he fishes, and then when I type it up it’s like doing a first round of editing at the same time.

7) Would you ever branch out into other genres?
I once said that I would never write crime or write a series, but then DI Eva Wednesday came along, and I ended up writing four books with her, so far. Having said this, I have quite a dark mind so I don’t think I could write a straight romance novel, but never say never!

You can follow Hemmie on Facebook, Amazon, or Twitter.

Check out the blog on Fridays for interviews, reviews and guest blog posts from other authors. If you're interested in being interviewed, having a review done or writing a guest post, contact Joey here.

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Life Of Joey - March 2017 [CC]


Monday 13 March 2017

Spoonie Life: Making The Most Of Your Downtime


As someone with multiple health issues and who also spends a lot of their work day in bed resting. As well as needing to take days off in the middle of the week when I have deadlines a plenty, I thought I would do a piece on making the most of your downtime. Now I've been a writer for over fifteen years. I've been sick for the majority of my life, but my main conditions didn't really get bad until I was an older teen. So the tips and tools I'm going to give you are ones that incorporate both living with a chronic illness, and trying to stay on top of deadlines, work load and all of that. Bear in mind that just because it works for me, does not mean it has to work for you. Every spoonie has a different experience just as every writer has a different way of working. It's all part of being human.

So, with that said, here we go:

Now I'd suggest you do this, spoonie or not, simply because knowing what you need to do that day helps you focus and keeps you from being too overwhelmed by everything. It keeps you on target and it allows for any blips along the way that you couldn't account for when planning. I have talked a lot about my own scheduling techniques - sticky notes, a to-do list for the month etc. - but I also recommend planning for downtime. If you're a spoonie then you know that you're gonna have some days when you just *can't* and if you're like me, you'll feel horrible that you're not doing X, Y or Z. So you plan for your downtime, and in planning for it, you set tasks that can be done while having a bad day. Like right now I have a lot of my day spent in bed because of various issues. So I've planned for that. I have my desk and tablet and I can work from bed quite easily, allowing me to stay on target with both my writing and my admin stuff.

This goes along with organising your days. There will be times when you need to do something mundane and it's pushed to the back of the list because you've got the energy to write, so you're going to do that. But what you can do, is allow the mundane to be done during your downtime. Like I have scripts to write for writer volgs. I also have emails to reply to, questions to answer and blog posts to write. All of which can be done from the safety of my bed and my tablet. While they're not all "mundane" they are things that, if left to me, would be done last minute. So by scheduling that stuff to the days when I can't really think clearly enough to write makes it easier for me to balance out my working week.

Now this isn't really a writing tip or trick that I came up with, it's more the knowledge that without my cool desk in my bedroom, I wouldn't get half the stuff done that I do manage. It was pricey, but worth it in my opinion as it's not just something I use for work, but also allows me to watch netflix easily, talk to friends and generally have something to do on bedrest days. I also invested in a tablet. It was, again, pricey, but it allows me to work in bed and gives me the freedom to take my work with me when I'm in the hospital or on holiday or something. I also got myself a bluetooth keyboard. That wasn't pricey, but it does make typing easier and gives me more time to do stuff when I'm using the tablet and desk. You don't have to go for something expensive, I found what works for me, and I was able to justify the cost. It may be that for you it means getting a comfortable pillow to lean against, it can be something as big or as small as that. Whatever it is you need to keep yourself working during your downtime, and allows you to do so in comfort.


Following on from the last, sometimes there are gonna be days when you can't do anything. And that's okay. You need to accept that and allow your body, and yourself to heal. One thing I learnt early on was that pushing myself to do X, Y and Z on bad days just lead to more bad days and a vicious cycle was formed. Yes, there are days when I can do the mundane and work during my downtime, but there are many other days when all I can do is lie back and wait for the day, the pain, and the flare to pass. And that's okay. No amount of equipment or aggressive inner dialogue is gonna change that, and I need to remember that it will take as long as it takes, that I am not lazy and avoiding my work, and that my time off is needed to allow me to continue with my work on a better day.

So those are my four tips on how to make the most of your downtime. As I said before, some of them may work for you, some of them may not, I'm just going on what works for me, and what I've found to enable me to be as productive as I can be while also acknowledging that I am a spoonie. One thing I will add is that being kind to yourself means letting yourself heal, however that happens. I hope these are of some help to you, and as always remember your mileage may, of course, vary. If you have any tips you'd like to add in the comments, I'd love to hear them!

Follow Joey here on her blog or on Facebook or Tumblr to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books.

Friday 10 March 2017

Interview & Review with Jennifer Loiske

Today I am very pleased to welcome Jennifer Loiske to my blog for an interview and a review of her book - Club Number Five. Here's a little bio about Jennifer:

Jennifer Loiske lives in Finland in Naantali, which is a small sunny town on the southwest coast. She is a Teen/YA paranormal fiction author, with four exciting series available worldwide. The McLean Twins series for teen readers, the Immortal Blood series for mature young adult readers, the Blood Hunters series, also for mature young adults, which is a follow-up for the Immortal Blood series and is created by the readers’ requests, and the Shape Shifter series for anyone age 16 and up.
Jennifer’s stories are full of creatures of the night. Vampires, demons, witches, shape shifters… but even if they are mostly fiction you can find a hint of truth in every story. Jennifer loves to research, so every time she gets an idea or a new story she has a crazy Google session, looking for places, old myths, names, folklore, magical items… anything that could spice up her story and make it more real for the readers. Jennifer is also part of Authors For Charity, an international author alliance, and a team member of Epilepsy FI magazine. She is a pre-school teacher by profession.

And now onto the interview!

1. What kind of books do you read for pleasure?
Mostly I just look at my book pile longingly, but when I have time to read, I read paranormal romance books for YA or NA readers, dystopian novels or teen novels. Fantasy… books with vampires, werewolves, shadowhunters, demons or angels…when I find a good author I usually read her/his entire production.

2. What kind of writer are you: plan or not?
Both. Sometimes I plan the plot quite detailed and sometimes I just let go and write whatever comes to mind, even the bad stuff. I never edit the first draft as I write. There’s plenty of time for that with the second, third or even the tenth draft. Yep, I re-write a lot!

3. How does your average writing time go?
Normally I wake up around 8 a.m. and start to write almost immediately. I take a long pause around noon, take my dogs out, have lunch and if it’s sunny, do some plotting whilst sunbathing. Then it’s back to work around 3 p.m. and writing until 6 p.m. then dogs, dinner and see some friends. I don’t sleep a lot so if I feel like it, I may even write some more late in the evening or even in the middle of the night. When I say ”writing” it doesn’t automatically mean writing a story. I may as well be blogging, doing interviews, reviews, articles, translating etc. I try to balance my day so that I get at least two-three different kind of writing done.

4. If you had the chance to write anywhere, where would you choose?
My dream job would be a travel blogger. In that way I’d get to write about travelling and write all around the world. I don’t get inspired by one place but many, depending on my mood and the story I’m currently writing.

5. What attracted you to your chosen genre?
I’ve always loved all things supernatural. I think I have a love-hate relationship with the creatures of the night. Some scares the crap out of me and some I’m intrigued to know more and more about. I believe there’s so much more than meets the eye. You just have to look a little bit closer.

6. Do you prefer to type or hand write?
Definitely type! My handwriting is super messy (ask anyone!) and even I don’t always know what I’ve written on the paper.

7. Would you ever like to branch out to a different genre?
Yes, but I’m not sure if I dare. I have very loyal readers and I’d like to keep them. Most of them are teens or young adults so trying my luck in an adult genre might scare them off.

Part One of Immortal Blood Series.

Samantha Green wanted nothing but to be normal, have a shallow life with smoking hot Jonathan Blake and an unforgettable senior year at Regents East High. But one morning she wakes up as a vampire. She has no idea who bit her or why. All she knows is she didn’t want it. Now her new life is full of secrets, deceit and fear, not to mention raw meatballs and red nectar that is definitely something else besides strawberry juice. Samantha tries to act normal. She pretends to like her mom’s chicken salad, goes to school and learns how to survive on her own, but what can she do when she finds herself inside of a devious conspiracy, strikingly fast hunters, secret clubs and mouthwateringly gorgeous boys and the only food she can catch is her best friend, Kate Walker’s, wrist?

My Review: 5 stars

I have never been a fan of vampire books, yet the blurb for this book intrigued me and so decided to give it a read. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was drawn into the story. Having read other books from this author, I knew that she would write a good book. From the first page I was hooked on what was going on with Samantha and whether or not we would find out the mystery behind the doors of the club. I found myself lost in the pages and itching to know what would happen next and the end left me desperate for more. This is an excellent book and anyone who loves the paranormal, vampires or not, will love reading this book! Highly recommended!

You can find Jennifer here on Facebook, Twitter, her website and Goodreads.

Check out the blog on Fridays for interviews, reviews and guest blog posts from other authors. If you're interested in being interviewed, having a review done or writing a guest post, contact Joey here.

Debut Author Mackenzie Flohr's The Rite Of Wands

One boy…one Rite… And a world of deadly secrets that could change the course of history—forever

And so begins the tale of Mierta McKinnon. When a horrible fate reveals itself during his Rite of Wands ceremony, he must find a way to change not only his destiny but also the land of Iverna’s.

Forbidden from revealing the future he foresees to anyone, he is granted a wand and his magical powers, but still must master the realm of magic in order to save himself and those he loves.

But Mierta is not the only one with secrets…especially when it’s impossible to know who to trust.

“Mierta!” Mortain shouted at the top of the stairs, hearing nothing but his own voice echo. Watching smoke drifting out of the open doorway, Mortain took in a deep breath and tried to slow down his heart. The aroma of acrid chemicals and burning flesh filled his nose. 

“Mierta!” he shouted again. “Son, you all right?” He listened, hearing nothing more than what sounded like gasping breaths.

“Father,” Mierta mouthed in response to Mortain’s calls, unable to produce any sounds as he dropped to one knee. His heart was pounding. Each pulse matched the ache he felt in his temples. A deep burning pain seared through his chest every time he took a breath. It was like he was slowly being strangled and there was nothing he could do to stop it. The inside of his nose felt charred and his throat felt like he was swallowing tacks. He blinked, his eyesight blurring, the pain beginning to overwhelm him. Nausea built in his throat and droplets of sweat slid down the side of his face. He wished he could do anything to end the torture. He could not imagine dying would be much worse.
Mierta attempted to stand and tried to get away from the workbench. He managed a few staggering steps before his body was drained of all energy. He watched puffy white circling clouds fill his vision before everything was replaced by darkness.

Mortain felt his stomach drop at the sound of something breaking. “Mierta!” he screamed, racing down the stairs. “Mierta, answer me!”

When he reached the bottom, Mortain abruptly stopped, taking in the horrific scene before him. His son was unconscious; lying sprawled out on his back. What remained of a small culture tube lay shattered next to him, and chemicals dripping from a workbench bubbled and fizzled as they made contact with the hardwood floor. 

Acidum salis, he thought, his eyes widening.

Mortain raised his arm to his mouth, careful to not inhale any of the smoke that was filling the room. He trembled as he came closer, observing the damage that had been done to the left side of his son’s face. 

The skin was mostly raw red with patches of peeling burned black skin hanging off his face. Blood was seeping from some of the deep crevasses caused by the acid. Most of the damage was confined to the cheek and jaw area. His eye was spared any damage.  

“Oh, my dear Lord,” he uttered, fear filling his heart. “My poor boy! What have I done?”

About the Author

Mackenzie Flohr grew up in the heartland of America, chasing leprechauns and rainbows and dreaming of angels. Her parents nurtured a love of fantasy and make-believe by introducing her at a very young age to the artistic and cultural opportunities that the city of Cleveland had to offer.

From the time she could hold a pencil, Mackenzie was already creating pictorial interpretations of classic stories, and by the age of nine, she and a childhood friend were authors and reviewers of their own picture books.

While following her love of adventure, Mackenzie found a second home, the Beck Center for the Arts Children's and Teen Theater School. It was there that a world of wonder was only a script and a performance away.

Yet it wasn't until she was on a trip to Indiana, viewing a Lord of the Rings exhibit, that the innermost desire of her heart became clear to her. She wanted to write a fantasy of her own, one that could inspire imagination in others and lead them into a magical world of their own making. She hopes The Rite Of Wands will do just that

You can follow Mackenzie on Facebook, Twitter, her website and at her author page.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Finding A Proofreader [CC]


Monday 6 March 2017

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: Do I need to kill [Character]?

Do I need to kill [Character]?

So, you've gotten started on your novel. You have the scene set and your outline done, your characters doing whatever they're doing, and you're managing to get some writing done. Your plot is moving along, but if you're like me then you won't have every scene planned before you put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper. Everything is going smoothly and then you hit a bit of a pothole, and you realise that for the scene to make sense - either in your outline or in the moment of writing - someone has to die. And that's what today is about, asking yourself: Do I need to kill [character]?

In one of my current works in progress, I'm doing a lot of flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to planning. It's not the first time that this has happened to me and nor willl it be the last. I generally have a good idea of who I'd like to make it to the end of each book, and there are always characters who walk the edge between seeing the end of a scene or chapter to finally being alive still when the book itself ends. I have several of those characters right now. And since the book I'm talking about is a dystopian on the brink of a war, it kinda makes sense for some bloodshed.

However, one thing you have to be careful about is falling into the trap of killing just because you can. While there are many deaths I've been responsible for in my books, none of them have been killed just for shock value or because they don't serve a purpose. Every death in the Dying Thoughts series was done to serve a purpose. Either to aid Tara in solving the crime, or because it was a needed plot piece to move the story forward. That's the big thing you need to remember because just killing for the sake of killing, while possibly fun, doesn't really help the book and if anything puts the reader off.

So how do you know when it's time to kill your beloved character? I usually use two questions that help me decide whether or not the death is needed for the plot or if it's just something I'm doing because the story needs some angst. I'm gonna share them with you here.

#1. What does their death achieve?

If the answer to this isn't obvious, then you need to seriously think about whether or not it's a death that has to happen or if it's a death you're using to spice up the chapter. Ideally, a death should be part of the overreaching arc of the story. If it's not, then it might be that the death isn't needed for the story to stand. When I wrote the deaths in the Dying Thoughts series, while they weren't all personal deaths that would have an impact on Tara, they were needed to move the plot forward and they were necessary to the plot.

#2. Who does their death affect the most?
Normally when killing someone in fiction, their death will serve a purpose, as covered in point one. But sometimes it doesn't need to be a bloody murder, but just a death that happens off page and has an affect on one of the main characters. In the first book of the Lights Out series, I had to kill someone that I'd really grown attached to, but it was needed to drive the plot forward and to bring about the change for the protagonist. It was the driving point of why she took the path she did, and because of that I know that the character's death was a much needed plot point.

Both of these questions shouldn't be too hard to answer. If you find that you can't answer one or both of them, then it might be that you don't need to kill your character. Sometimes books will use a violent and unexpected death as a way to shock the reader, or to spice up the book itself. As I said, doing that can lead to the readers feeling a little off with the storyline. A death should only be used when it is moving the plot forward and even then, it doesn't have to be discussed in detail for it have the same affect on the protagonist and other characters.

So, I hope that helps you with working out when and where to kill a character. For me, killing them isn't hard, it's the aftermath that drives me forward. I've heard of writers who cry while killing certain beloved characters and while I've come close once I'm doing the editing, I'm usually fine with the death and other gruesome parts of being a crime writing. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

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Friday 3 March 2017

Interview with Simon Parker & Review

I'm joined today by Simon Parker, an indie author who writes gruesome horror. I've been lucky enough to be able to review his book, which'll be included in the post below. Now, let's learn a little about Simon. Here's a bio:

I found my love of horror at the tender age of ten when I bought a couple of Tales from the Crypt comics at a jumble sale! (No sadly I don't still have them! Lol) I began writing just a few years later and tried to get published at nineteen but it only took a couple of rejections to discourage me. It wasn't until I was in my forties after I had written a lot more, that I found those early stories and was persuaded to self publish. I'd already lost my father years before that but my mother got to see my first book self published before she passed too. I got it republished by a small independent publishing house and then got signed by Foundations Books llc who have now re released Tales of the Mysterious and Macabre in an updated version that I couldn't be more proud of. 

And moving onto the interview!

What kind of books do you read for pleasure?
I tend to read mainly horror books for pleasure, but I also read sci fi, thriller, crime, adventure and fantasy. It doesn't have to be dark, just well written and engaging. I love to get lost in a book.

What kind of writer are you: plan or not?

When I start a new project, I tend to kick off with a very basic idea, expand on that a little then write a very simple chapter outline. The  comes the research part, often the hardest and most labourious but essential for making things believable. Then the exciting part, I start each chapter knowing roughly where it's heading but not a clue what is going to happen in the process.

If you had the chance to write anywhere, where would you choose?
If I could write anywhere in the world, I would probably chose a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. Probably Scotland in reality as I adore the place, but I'd love to work in Canada or Alaska too. The scenery is inspire

Do you prefer to type or hand write?
My first draft is almost always hand written. I honestly couldn't tell you why, it just feels right to me, more up close and personal while writing the bones down. It's like holding the hand of an old friend when the pen is there on the page, touching the soul rather than tapping keys at it remotely. There's always typing for the next draft and editing once the heart is laid bare on the page.

Do you have a writing playlist? Or do you prefer silence?
My writing playlist is mainly ambient music. I find it difficult to focus if a song plays with lyrics but I do love music on, especially an atmospheric piece to increase the tension while I'm creating, normally halloween type soundtracks.

Do you have any hobbies?
My hobbies are many and varied but mainly focus around creativity. I love painting and drawing and sell some of my prints and originals on my etsy site ( Horror art and collectables by DarkHeartsHorrorArts ) and on my Dark Hearts website, as well as some sculpting and upcycling furniture with a horror twist of course. I also love getting out into the countryside.

Would you ever like to branch out to a different genre?
I love writing horror and dark fantasy but I would also be happy to branch out into other genres, maybe a gentle introduction to the spooky for children or maybe an adventure, maybe even a paranormal romance with a dark streak, as I love to explore the psychological and emotional aspects of people. Mostly dark things or dark angles on light things, but I do love the darkness.

Delve into the mind of a serial killer, bathe in the darkness and solitude that is Hell, fight the undead and unleash the demons. Tales of the Mysterious and Macabre will rip its way into your subconscious and mess with your perceptions, taking your mind to places unexplored and showing you the roots of your fears.
My review: 5 stars
A excellent collection of dark and macabre short stories. Parker is a new author to me, but the blurb caught my attention and I found myself enjoying it very much! Each story is packed with the paranormal, the mysterious and the gory details! I was hooked from the first line or the first story and all of them drew me in! Every story stands alone and they give you a different character and world to peek inside. From serial killers, to awkward people, and the zombie apocolypse, every story is told wonderfully and all of them dark as night. Very much recommended to anyone who loves the dark side of fiction!

You can follow Simon on Facebook and Twitter

Check out the blog every Friday for an interview, review or guest blog! If you want to be interviewed, or do a guest blog for Joey's blog you can contact her here.