Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The End is Nigh...

Well, only the end of editing "Poisonous Minds" which will hopefully be the next book to be published, but that feels like a massive milestone, given how much I've been struggling with it and how long it now is since I first started writing it!

I started "Poisonous Minds" in 2013 and finished the first draft by early 2014. It then got left alone while I wrote the first two books of an urban fantasy trilogy (written during 2014-2015). That done, I went back to "Poisonous Minds" (which at this point was still called "Six Deaths").

Roughly this time last year (January 2016), "Six Deaths" went off to beta readers with a feedback sheet and an alternate ending and two alternate titles ("Adapt or Die" and "Poisonous Minds") and I edited what I'd done of the urban fantasy trilogy while I waited for their feedback to arrive.

Most of my beta readers got their feedback to me by the end of March and I made various changes to "Poisonous Minds" over Spring of 2016 - just before and just after the launch of "The Wrong Kind of Clouds".

And that's when it all started to grind to a halt!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

2017... plans, plans, plans!

Books, books, books!

I have a slight feeling of deja vu as I write this... I seem to recall writing a post about this time last year on my plans for 2016, most of which didn't quite pan out as hoped. I got a lot of stuff done in 2016, it just wasn't necessarily quite what I'd planned to do!

But, ever the optimist, I've put pen to paper (naturally... I'm an analogue lass!) and drawn up a scarily large list of writing projects that I want to complete. This year, however, I've not put any deadlines on the list. Cunning, huh?

What I would really like to achieve this year is to get "Poisonous Minds" published and have at least one other book ready to publish (if not actually published). I have a whole heap of other writing-related goals too, but those two are the main ones.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Meet the Author: Jackie Baldwin

Jackie Baldwin
Photo credit: Kim Ayres
This month's author under the spotlight is fellow Spotlighter at "Bloody Scotland" - Jackie Baldwin. Thank you so much for letting me grill you, Jackie!

Hi Amanda,
First of all, I would like to wish you and your followers a very Happy New Year!

Your first novel, "Dead Man’s Prayer" features a detective who’s an ex-priest. What made you choose this unconventional background for him?
I didn’t do it to be different. It was simply that as I had attended the local Benedictine Convent School I grew up steeped in that background. I came across various priests. It seemed to me a rather lonely, isolated life where, of necessity, at times you must be at war with yourself. It also lends itself to such meaty themes as guilt and redemption. I wanted to write about a Detective who is a bit ‘other.’

"Dead Man’s Prayer" is described as the first in a series. Did you always intend to write a series? How many in the series are currently planned out?
I certainly hoped to write a series. I am currently writing the second book but do have lots of ideas for future stories.

You’ve also had short stories published. Do you have a writing preference: short story? Or novel?
I have only had one short story published and definitely prefer novels. I believe a lot of novelists start off by writing short stories but I started off writing drama as that was what was happening locally at the time. Short stories rather terrify me, to be honest. I will have to apply myself to learning how to do them.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Review of 2016

Well, what a year! I can't believe the calendar is about to flip over and 2017 is about to start. Where has the year gone and what have I been doing?

Well, I started the year with some ridiculously over-ambitious plans. In a post on Planning 2016, I seem to have believed that by now, I would have:
  1. got a second book out there (currently called 'Adapt or Die') by autumn 2016
  2. converted a half-written book to a fully written one that's ready for publication in spring 2017
  3. converted another half-written book to a first draft
  4. got a third thriller to the publishers, ready to come out in summer 2017!
Well, that didn't quite work out!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Book Finds: December 2016

We all love it when someone recommends a new author or a new book to us. Well, I try and do one post each month where I tell you about books I've found and loved. Some of them might be bestsellers, but most of them aren't. What would be brilliant, is if you all share your 'find of the month' in the comments. Deal?

This month's finds are a week earlier than usual this month. Hopefully there's something here to curl up with over the holidays.

What do I have for you this time?

Annalisa Crawford: That Sadie Thing and other stories

"That Sadie Thing and other stories is an intense and emotional journey through the relationships that define our lives: a couple breaking up on a rainy night; a woman finding comfort from eating lunch as her best friend lies in hospital; a runaway longing to go home; a teenager oppressed by her father, and many more."
I'm not always a great lover of collections of short stories - I often read a couple and then abandon the collection, however much I might enjoy the ones I've read. I absolutely adored these though! They focus (generally) on small snapshots of people's lives and are beautifully written and poignant. I was moved to tears by some of them. Give it a whirl - there will be at least one story in there that you just love.

Karen Campbell: This is Where I Am


"When recently widowed Deborah Maxwell is assigned by the Scottish Refugee Council to act as mentor to Abdi Hassan, a Somali refugee, the two are drawn into an awkward friendship. They must spend a year together, meeting once a month in different parts of Glasgow. As recently-widowed Deborah opens Abdi's eyes to her beloved city and its people, he teaches her about the importance of family - and of laying your ghosts to rest. All Abdi has brought with him is his four-year-old daughter, Rebecca, who lives in a silence no one can reach. Until, one day, she starts talking. And they discover why she had stopped..."
I think I first heard this on Radio 4's Book at Bedtime and then bought the book. I was glad I did. This is gorgeous, heart-warming, moving and funny - often all in one page. It made me think about how people view refugees and how refugees view us.

Karin Alvtegen: Shadow

"In a nondescript apartment block in Stockholm, most of the residents are elderly. Usually a death is a sad but straightforward event. But sometimes a resident will die and there are no friends or family to contact. This is when Marianne Folkesson arrives, employed by the state to close up a life with dignity and respect. Gerda Persson has lain dead in her apartment for three days before Marianne is called. When she arrives, she finds the apartment tidy and ordered. Gerda's life seems to have been quite ordinary. Until Marianne opens the freezer and finds it full of books, neatly stacked and wrapped in clingfilm, a thick layer of ice covering them. They are all by Axel Ragnerfeldt, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, with handwritten dedications to Gerda from the author. What story do these books have to tell, about Gerda, and more importantly about Ragnerfeldt, a man whose fame is without precedent in the nation's cultural life, but seldom gives interviews? Shadow is an utterly compelling novel about the lengths and depths people can be driven in order to achieve fame and acclaim, and the effect that this has on those closest to them. It is a story of dark family secrets, and the power of writing, involving murder, betrayal and the holocaust, which will keep readers gripped until its final thrilling revelations."
 This was an excellent read - I devoured the book in a day. It was a really interesting concept and the characterisation was superb.

Other book finds:
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A Positivity Journal

A what?

A positivity journal. Somewhere to keep reminders of any and all positive things relating to my writing. These might be reviews, comments people have made, and ... dare I hope ... letters of acceptance.

This idea grew from advice that some great friends gave me when I was feeling particularly low and full of self-doubt. The wonderful Bea Henderson (see Meet the Author last week) suggested that I: "Print out any good reviews and affirmations and post them around your computer."

I don't have a lot of space around my computer and I didn't want to block my view of the garden by posting things on my windowsill or on the windows (it's Scotland and winter... we get little enough light at the moment!) so instead, I am going to keep them all in a positivity journal.

My husband has bought me this one for my Christmas present:

Picture from https://www.theonlinepencompany.com/

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Meet the author: Bea Davenport

Bea Davenport
This month's author under the spotlight is Bea Davenport. I met Bea at a Crime Writers Association lunch in Edinburgh and we've kept in touch since then. I'm delighted that Bea was happy to be grilled by me!

When did you first start writing novels? And what made you start?
I’ve always scribbled since being very young, but I never had the courage to show anyone my work until I did my creative writing PhD. It was only then I realised I might be writing something worth reading. I’d always had this idea inspired by something in my journalism background and eventually I got it all down on paper and it became In Too Deep. I was really lucky to have my first novel published, after it was shortlisted in the Luke Bitmead Award.

Do you have any regrets over choosing writing as a career? If so, what are they?
I sometimes regret that I didn’t put my work out to publishers earlier.
Also, I sometimes wish I could write full-time – I have day jobs teaching journalism and creative writing and they take up a lot of time and head space. But when I am being sensible, I remember that I probably wouldn’t use all that time writing anyway. I’d probably fritter it away.