Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Book finds: May 2017

It's time for my monthly Book Finds. Each month I showcase books that I've loved reading. Some of them might be best sellers, but the majority of them won't be.

This month, I seem to have read a number of books that I couldn't recommend 😞 so again, my selection for you is a bit thinner than I'd like!

This month's selection is:

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pen and paper? Or digital?

One of the questions I get asked quite frequently is whether I write my books by hand or directly on a computer. These questions obviously come from those people who don't know that I'm a complete stationery addict. In fact, I've had another blog for years on stationery: http://paperpensink.blogspot.co.uk/ (not updated as often as I'd like these days...).

I do a bit of both to be honest. Most of my planning - character notes, plotting, initial ideas about scenes are done on paper, usually in an A4 Clairefontaine notebook, using a fountain pen. I use a fountain pen because I have arthritis in my hands and with a fountain pen, you don't need to press hard to make the ink flow and therefore you don't need to grip the pen tightly either, making writing an altogether more fun experience than using a biro. Clairefontaine paper is glorious to write on and A4 gives me plenty of space to write, draw diagrams and mind-maps, paste in pictures of buildings, people, rooms, furniture etc. These A4 books end up as a bit of a scrap book for each book and I love looking back through them.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Spotlighter mini-meet-up

Last year, twelve of us were chosen to read a snippet from our books as 'support acts' for the famous people at "Bloody Scotland". The initiative was called "Crime in the Spotlight" and the twelve of us have referred to ourselves as The Spotlighters since then, and used the hashtag #TeamSpotlight on Twitter. It's been brilliant to keep in touch with everyone.

At the start of April, five of us managed to get together in Edinburgh for a mini-meet-up:

From L-R: Me, Stephen Watt, Jackie Baldwin, Lesley Kelly, Shelley Day
We met up at All Bar One at lunchtime. It was fantastic to catch up with everyone's news - where everyone was with writing, how they were getting on with their agent or publisher, discussing literary festivals etc. as well as hearing about life in general. There was a fabulous moment when Stephen was in the middle of telling us about how he had proposed to his fiancée and right at the crucial part, the waiter came in to take our order. I felt so sorry for the waiter because we were all desperate to hear the finale of Stephen's tale and chased the poor man away. He obviously forgave us though as he took the picture above for us.

All in all it was an excellent day. It was just a shame that all of us couldn't be there. Next time!

Thank you to "Bloody Scotland" for introducing us to each other and here's to long and successful friendships between us all.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

For my 100th post... meet "Hero"

"Hero" doing some work
(unlike me)
"Hero" sits on the sand timer on my desk. Sometimes he stands on it. I bought him a while ago and have been meaning to blog about him for a few weeks, but then... well.

Although he's called "Hero" I tend to think of the name more like a Japanese "Hiro" rather than 'the hero of the story' though it works in that way too. "Hero" is my muse. Well, he's supposed to be. He's currently sitting on the sand timer clutching a sword (more on that later!) a bit disconsolate because the glorious weather is ruining what little glimmer of writing-productivity I had! He's actually meant to be for artists and I could (in theory) sketch him. If I could sketch better.

He's like the old wooden artists' models, except he's got more joints and can be posed in many more ways than they ever could be. As you can see in the picture, he comes with accessories too. It's an eclectic selection of things... a laptop, two mobile phones, a pen/pencil, a pad, a sword and a gun. He's 'working' on the laptop in the picture (which was taken a few weeks ago), but at the moment, he's sitting on the sand timer on my desk holding a sword across his lap.

He also has a collection of different hands for holding the different objects and for pointing/gesticulating. These are a) a bit fiddly to attach and detach and b) make for a slightly gruesome looking box.

Slightly gruesome box of hands and accessories
Anyway, he's a slightly sulky-looking reminder that I should be finishing the follow-on from The Wrong Kind of Clouds, so I'd better get back to it.

Do others have a muse like this?

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Meet the author: Sandra Ireland

Sandra Ireland
Photo credit: Julie Christie
This month's author is Sandra Ireland. I first met Sandra at Bloody Scotland in September last year and we recently met up again when we went to see Stephen Watt at StAnza. I'm delighted to be interviewing her for my blog.

Your first novel, Beneath the Skin features a man with post-traumatic stress disorder and a taxidermist. What made you choose these aspects of their characters?
The taxidermist came first. I watched a documentary with taxidermy artist Polly Morgan, and she was saying that when she’s introduced to someone, she’s actually checking out their bone structure when she shakes hands! I thought this would be a brilliant quality for a character, so Alys the taxidermist was born. Walt came slightly later. He was a bit bland at first, but once I realised that he was suffering from something you can’t see, his personality came to life and the whole concept of the story became obvious. The scary things are out of sight - Beneath the Skin.

What are you working on at the moment? Amazon says it’s another psychological thriller. What else can you tell us?