Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Me v The Plot

This is how much of last week felt!! Writing had been going well, I was 20,000 words in to the first draft of the new book, and then I looked at my plan and thought, "Oh. I appear to be writing another trilogy!"

I had far too much plot for the book! Thus followed a couple of days (or more) of plot-wrestling, with all aspects insisting that they couldn't possibly be cut and just had to stay in, while I wielded the red pen, trying to excise them from the plot...

By the end of the week, the plot and I were more like this...

Maybe I'll write up the cut strands into short stories and share them with my newsletter subscribers. If you've not yet signed up, I'm currently giving away a free novella - a prequel to The Guardians of The Realm trilogy. It's only available to newsletter subscribers and is about what happened the first time Aeron met Aegyir. Don't miss out!

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Want a free book?

Aeron's Fall

It was all going so well. As one of the most senior warriors in The Realm, life couldn't be better for Aeron. 

But then millions of people started dying Outside - Earth, as you call it.

Something old... something evil was stirring again.

Aeron was determined to stop it, before it could wreak havoc on The Realm.

If she failed, The Realm could be destroyed.

If she succeeded? She still might lose everything.

Find out what happened when Aeron took on Aegyir, the first time they met.

I've just finished "Aeron's Fall" - the story of what happened the first time Aeron met Aegyir. It won't be available for sale anywhere as it's an exclusive book for my newsletter subscribers only.

Already a subscriber but haven't had it yet? Fear not, it's coming in this month's newsletter!

Not a subscriber yet? Sign up below!

Want the book, but you're not sure about the newsletter? Well, the newsletter only comes out once a month, and it has bits about what I've been up to over the month, book recommendations, special offers, and news about upcoming books (and events in non-covid times!).

Okay. While I have your attention, can I ask anyone who's read any of the trilogy if they would leave a review, especially on Amazon. Reviews help other readers choose which books to read. They also help with the visibility of the book in Amazon's algorithms - the more reviews there are, the more visible the book and so more people actually hear about the books! An author can also only sign up with some of the better marketing groups if they have a minimum number of reviews. Seriously, without reviews, the books are invisible. So please, if you've read any of my books, could you consider leaving a review? It doesn't have to be long - even just "Loved it!" or "Great book!" is enough.

Thank you.

Hope you enjoy the free book!

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Saving The Cat...

Last week, I said I was sailing in First Draft Lake. Unfortunately, I got blown back towards The Great Sifting River because I didn't like how the book was starting.

Now, because I'm a planner not a pantser, I don't always write a book in order. I have a general idea of the structure, and if I can really 'see' a scene that's later on, I write it, knowing that it will almost certainly be in the book, and probably roughly where it is, and that I can fix lead-ins and exits in the first edit, to smooth out any rough junctions. I use Scrivener to write, and so I create a separate document for each scene. These are really easy to move around, if I change my mind about the order or structure. I normally spend a decent chunk of time getting this basic structure into some semblance of where it might end up (though things always change between writing the plan and writing the book!).

That's not what I did this time!

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Here be monsters...

I've drawn a (terrible!) map of how writing a book goes for me (click on it to enlarge it). It starts with the Fountain of Ideas. This represents that glorious time when anything is possible in a book and no ideas are too daft. It's "play time" when my imagination gets to run mad, and ideas chase each other and twist and morph into new plot lines. It's a heady time. It's where I've been for the last few weeks.

Eventually, these ideas all flow into the Great Sifting River. Here, plot-lines peter out because they either don't fit in with the rest of the book, or just don't have the legs to carry them on. It's also where some plot-lines grow arms and legs and decide they want to be a whole new book on their own. And there are some ideas that just won't leave and inveigle their way back into the plot, invited or not.

After this, comes a giant lake: First Draft Lake. This is where I am at the moment, and where I will be for the next few months! And indeed, here be monsters. Some days it's all plain sailing through the lake - scenes come together, plot lines zing and all is right with the world.

And then there are the days when the giant monster that lives in the lake leaps up and chomps its way through a whole scene (or plot-line) leaving it in tatters and you don't know whether to mend it or leave it to sink and die.

Coupled with that are the Strong Winds of Change (not yet illustrated) which blow the plot off course, steered by unruly characters who think they know best (they usually do). Navigating a path between the Strong Winds of Change and The Monster can be a challenging time.

There was an interesting article out this week, talking to various authors, which found that most authors 'hear' their characters. I certainly do. I listen in on their lives and they have distinct voices. I can see them and the scenes they're in, in my mind's eye, as if I was watching them.

I once posted a cartoon about the characters wrecking a plot, and another author got quite stroppy with me and said that the author is in charge and the idea that these characters are anything other than a construct of the authors mind, is daft. While I accept that the characters are a construct of my imagination, I can't agree that I'm always the puppet-master and they only do what I want! When I'm in the flow, a scene can gallop along and it just feels right with where it's going. Often though, it either introduces things I hadn't planned, or ends up in an unhelpful place, miles from where the original plot is. I generally go with these flows. The scene is almost always better than if I try to cram it into the 'plot box' I had in mind.

Writing the first draft is often described as the author working out what the book is actually about, and I would have to agree. It's the author telling themself the story and it's quite a fun place to be. But I know what's coming after this... Once I've found my way through First Draft Lake, I'll be into The Mountains of the First Edit - the seemingly impassible, soul-sapping region which takes the book, pulls it all apart, exposes the holes and the patches and (eventually) fixes them. I'll amend the map when I get there!

Until then, I shall swim in the First Draft Lake and try not to be eaten by monsters.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Lesley Kelly's "Murder at the Music Factory"

The Pandemic is Spreading

The body of Paul Shore toppled on to him, a stream of blood pooling around them on the concrete. Bernard lay back and waited to see if he too was going to die.
An undercover agent gone rogue is threatening to shoot a civil servant a day. As panic reigns, the Health Enforcement Team race against time to track him down - before someone turns the gun on them.


Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Another Kindle Unlimited Bundle for you...

Another amazing bundle for you all to check out. Do you want to read stories about ordinary people who find themself in an extraordinary situation? Maybe they're a farm boy who discovers they can talk to dragons, or a high school girl who finds out she's a witch? This is your place!

The books all free to read with Kindle Unlimited, so go and find a new author to binge on.


Right here

Let me know who you've discovered?

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Testing, testing... 1, 2, 3...

Last week, I was recording myself reading some extracts of Aegyir Rises for Stu Lennon, to use in the 1857 podcast he does. Things I've realised as a result:

  1. My cat is evil, and even the promise of Dreamies doesn't appear to distract him from his goal of having a starring role in the recordings
  2. As soon as I need to record, my mouth fills with spit
  3. I am unable to swallow silently
  4. I also develop the overwhelming need to clear my throat as soon as the record button is pressed
  5. My accent is weird - a bit of posh BBC newsreader blended with the odd flat northern vowels and a light sprinkling of Scottish (having lived here for so long, and being married to a Scot).
  6. I hate my voice

I was also so keen to try and make the opening few lines as emotional as possible, I made myself cry. 🤦

I'll keep you posted as to when they're going out, but any that don't get used will be on here.

I've also started work on the next book! I'm still at the "brain-dump" stage - writing out a gazillion notes. When I first started, possibly because for so long, I've been forcing this book to the back of my head while I got on with edits, I was scared nothing would come. I stared at a blank page and wondered what on earth would go in the book. I had a few thin ideas, but nothing that would sustain 75-100K words!

And then I started asking questions. The "why" and the "who" and the "what" and so on, that make up a book, and the notes are currently pouring out of my head. This is one of the really fun bits - the exciting "Where is this going?" bit. The point where nothing's off-limits and all ideas are still in the "possible" camp. I love this bit of planning a book.

Next up will be wrestling these ideas into a plot and deciding which ones are making the cut and which ones aren't. I already have a piece of paper taped to my dining room table, ready for a giant mind-map, where I'll note all the strands of the plot and then work out how to tie them together. It's a piece of lining paper (wallpaper). I used to use flip-chart paper, but my meagre stock of that has run out. And yes, there will be colour-coding! 😆

Then will come the plot outline (which always changes as I start writing, but is there in case I need it). And then... actually starting on the scenes!

Exciting times!

By the way, I would be delighted if you followed me on BookBub. If you click on the button below, it will take you straight there. Thank you!

Friday, 10 April 2020

Interview with bestselling author Malcolm Hollingdrake

I’m delighted to welcome back to the blog Malcolm Hollingdrake, the author of the bestselling Harrogate Crime Series of books featuring DCI Cyril Bennett. Hello Malcolm!
Hello, always my pleasure. How times have changed since we last chatted about my books.

You’re releasing the latest in The Harrogate Crime Series, “Threadbare”, today. Can you give me a flavour of what’s happening in this one? What does DCI Bennett have to face?
Indeed, as you know DCI Bennett proposed to Dr Julie Pritchett at the end of the last book. ‘Threadbare' begins with that proposal and for Cyril things move from there. However, his team have other things on their minds. Finding an elderly man and his carer dead by what they believe to be snake venom brings its own confusion. This is swiftly followed by another death, originally thought to be suicide. An old photograph, a link and the collection of disparate people seem to have a connection. David Owen and April Richmond come into their own leading the chase to find the murderer before the death toll rises.

Can readers dive straight in, or do they have to have read the previous books in the series?
They can dive straight in. I have given any information they need in the prologue. I do try to make all of my books, standalone reads.

What inspired this book?
The story was inspired by seeing the benches that you find throughout Harrogate, especially on The Stray and a painting I have long admired in the Atkinson Gallery, Southport. I visited the Frith exhibition at the Mercer Art Gallery and was so moved by his work I had to place Cyril in there to begin the story proper.

Who is your favourite supporting character in the book? Why are they your favourite?
What a lovely question. Leonard’s mother. It might seem strange but both Leonard and his mum were modelled on a family who lived close to me as I was growing up. I have always been a people watcher and I still take characteristics or the things people say and add them to my books. I’m a bit of a magpie to be honest. These true elements of life help make the written words live.

Writers often have to ‘kill their darlings’. What did you have to edit out of this book?
If anything, Cyril. It has been thoroughly enjoyable developing Owen’s character and building the partnership with April. A different dimension and an alternative perspective. Great fun.
I always cut when writing. What I thought worked on one day, on a read through it doesn’t seem as exciting or relevant and so the delete key plays a major role … key role in fact. It’s when you cut five thousand words through being dissatisfied where it becomes more daring and important.

A little bird tells me that you’re working on a new series at the moment. Are you able to spill any beans? What can you tell me about that?
This is so exciting for me. Nine Harrogate books and I know my characters so well and so creating a new series has been wonderful. The original idea came when I was commissioned by my then publisher to write a new series. I liked the idea of creating something new but I didn’t feel I was ready. However, now is the correct time to produce this trilogy. I have a working title, ‘A Decent April’. The others might be ‘A Decent Murder’ and “A Decent Death’. You can guess the name of the DI … yep, Decent. They are set in north Merseyside and the surrounds. It has been great fun to find new streets, new sights, sounds and smells and develop new characters. I will be sending the first out to see if I can attract a publisher. I want to keep the Harrogate Series independent.

You’re now independently published. What’s the hardest aspect of that? What do you wish you’d known before you went independent?
Advertising and marketing. Once you become an indie author/publisher you have to wear many hats, develop many skills and keeping all of the plates spinning takes time, support and money. Even with ten books published, five audiobooks I could not make a living from writing. It’s a hobby. If anyone is going independent here are two things: Make the manuscripts the best you can. Invest in a good proof reader and editor. Invest in a quality cover design and if you’re thinking of writing a series, have that in mind from the start.

What have been the high spots about being independent? What has come as a pleasant surprise to you about it all?
Controlling when your book will be published. If you are with a publisher you might wait twelve months. I decide when my book goes out. I control the book's design from page to cover. It rests on my shoulders and although that can be worrying, it’s also exciting.

How do you measure ‘success’ in writing? Sales? Reviews? Personal satisfaction? Something else?
To receive a positive comment from a reader whom you’ve never met is the best feeling in the world. To chat to people who have become friends, found through my writing, brings great pleasure and finally, seeing people take the trouble to come and hear me speak and read at literary events … that’s humbling.

What would you give up, in order to be able to be more successful (if anything)?
Success is relative. Give me positive comments and I’m happy. If people buy one book and then another, I’m happy. Success, I’m sure brings its own pressures and demons. Where I am is fine.

And now a few questions that aren’t about writing!

We’re all in the middle of a lockdown with covid-19. Are you naturally an introvert and finding this relatively easy? Or naturally an extrovert and finding this tough? What’s helping to make it more bearable?
I’ve not had a TV for many, many years and I am comfortable with this. Obviously, I’m concerned for those on the front line but if I can help by staying at home so be it. I can write, paint, make stained glass windows if I need further distractions. Music is a huge part of my life and there’s endless amounts I still need to discover.

What’s your favourite meal to make?
Risotto – strangely enough it’s Cyril Bennett’s too.

What’s your favourite meal to eat that someone else has made?
My wife’s Yorkshire puddings. However, I now do all the cooking but she would make them if asked.

What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading at the moment which is strange for me. It was a requested birthday gift. ‘A Race with Love and Death.’

I know you don’t have a TV, but are there any box-sets you’ve binge-watched? If so, what?
Black Adder WW1 and Band of Brothers. That’s it!

Thank you so much for letting me bombard you with questions!
Thank you very much indeed. As a final note may I just thank readers for supporting my books, it means a great deal to me. Please keep safe.

You can catch up with all of Malcolm’s news at the following places:

Twitter at: https://twitter.com/MHollingdrake
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMalcolmHollingdrake/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/malcolmhollingdrakeauthor/
His website is at: https://malcolmhollingdrakeauthor.co.uk/

The Harrogate Crime Series:

Also by Malcolm:

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Find some new crime to read

Yes, there's been quite enough about fantasy the last few weeks. Time for my crime readers to have a turn!

Well, in the same way that a group of fantasy writers got together to produce a veritable feast of books available in Kindle Unlimited, a group of us have put a selection of crime books together for you. Again, they are all in Kindle Unlimited, and most of them aren't more than the cost of a cup of coffee for those of you not in Kindle Unlimited.

Fill your boots. Or at least fill your Kindles!

Where to go to see all these?

You go RIGHT HERE to find them all!!

Let me know who you've discovered?

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Interview with Martin Shannon

Martin Shannon
I'm delighted to introduce you to another online friend this week - Martin Shannon, author of the Tales from Weird Florida series. The latest installment - Beaten Path - is out today!

Martin, welcome! When did you first start writing? And what made you start?
I first started writing in grade school. Thankfully, this was before the world turned color and prior to the internet, so none of those stories will see the light of day. Since that time I resumed again in 2016 when a health scare reminded me to “get busy living.”

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)
My first novel was “The Bone Line” which is currently available on Amazon. It was finally published last month. It’s the story I always imagined as a kid growing up in a sleepy beach town in South Florida. In my mind’s eye, there was always something more mysterious just beneath that simple veneer. The Bone Line is a middle grade adventure (I called it a STEM-venture) that dips its toes into those paranormal waters.

Your new book is just out. Tell me more about it?
Beaten Path is the third book in the five-part Tales of Weird Florida series. The book centers on our hero, Eugene Law, West Florida’s favorite Magician/Wizard as he navigates his new reality. Without giving away book one in the series, Gene is in rough shape due to some questionable decisions. In classic middle act fashion, our hero is “up to his armpits in alligators,” and not exactly sure which way is up.

What prompted you to write it?

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Interview with Kendall Grey

I'm delighted to welcome to the blog, Kendall Grey, the author of Asgard Awakening books.

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?
I started writing in August of 2008. I’d read Stephenie Meyers’s TWILIGHT books and thought I could write a book too. I was sorely mistaken. Ha! After taking tons of writing classes, reading tons of books about writing craft, and rewriting my story tons of times, I finally published my first novel in 2012. I probably should’ve started with the research portion before jumping in feet first, but hey, live and learn!

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)
My first novel was an urban fantasy romance called INHALE. It’s about a whale biologist who falls for a rock star Sentinel in the Dreaming. Oh, and they save the world together. Or maybe just Australia. Close enough. :-)

Your new book is just out. Tell me more about it?
DRAGGED is the third book in my Asgard Awakening urban fantasy comedy series. The Norse god Loki wakes up in 2019—sans a penis, plus two breasts—and has to find her immortality runes at the risk of … well … dying. DRAGGED takes Loki and her friends to San Francisco, where they get involved with a drag show only to discover that the judge is someone from Loki’s past who has a vested interest in making her miserable. Typical Norse stuff. Haha!

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Discover a new series...

Well, if we're all going to be stuck inside, self-isolating and avoiding COVID-19, we might as well ensure our Kindles are well stocked with books, right??


I've got together with another 31 (yes, 31!) authors to bring you an absolute smorgasbord of urban fantasy. All of the titles in this bundle are FREE if you're in Kindle Unlimited (and many are not that much, even if you're not in Kindle Unlimited) and are the first in a series. I kid you not, you'll be hard pushed NOT to find a new series you'll love.

Where do you go for all this???


Now, go fill your boots. Or at least fill your Kindles. Happy reading!

Let me know which new series got you hooked?

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Interviews and blog tours...

I was all over the internet last week, between interviews and the blog tour!

Here's a quick round-up of what was going on!


Julianne Berokoff returned the favour and interviewed me on her blog:
Thick Skin, Parallel Worlds & Casting Chris Hemsworth

Wayne Turmel also interviewed me:
Demons & Being In the Wrong World at the Wrong Time with Amanda Fleet

I had a complete blast with both of them!

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Cover Reveal - War

The final book of the trilogy - War - is almost ready for pre-order. Isn't the cover amazing?? It was done by MiblArt (who did all the covers for the trilogy).


Thirteen demons were trapped in The Realm. So was Aegyir, their ring-leader.
All of them wanted to live forever, by stealing the life-force out of people, killing them. The only people who can stop them are the Guardians. 
Now, all of them are free and in The Realm, with only one thing on their minds: kill all the Guardians.
Can Aeron and Faran find a way to destroy the demons forever? Or will The Realm fall, and with it, Earth?
In the thrilling conclusion to the Guardians of The Realm trilogy, Aeron and Faran must fight for their honour, their lives, and the future of The Realm. But the odds are stacked against them.

Book 2 - Aeron Returns - is still available to pr-order at the introductory price of 99p/99c but don't hang about, because the price will go up after the weekend!

And of course, book 1 - Aegyir Rises is still available.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Interview with the author Julianne Berokoff

I know! It's been a while since I did one of these, but I am delighted to share my interview with Julianne with you today.

I 'met' Julianne via a Facebook Group for Fantasy writers, recently, and we got chatting (as you do). Her new book, An Oath of Blood - the second book in the series The Fae Academy - is out now. The first book in the series is A Gift of Magic.

Hello Julianne and welcome to the blog!

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?
I think my first ever poem was written for some English assignment in middle school. It was about cats. Very deep, I know. But I had so much fun composing it! Needless to say, the years that followed were filled with terribly derivative fantasy short stories, angsty poetry, and abandoned romance arcs.

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)
The first book I wrote was called What Do You Know of the Dream Walkers. I know, quite the mouthful. It’s a YA fantasy about a girl who can cast an indestructible version of herself anywhere she pleases.

She has no idea what she’s doing. Her best friend is a bird. And someone is definitely trying to murder her. Hilarity ensues.

Anyway, I finished the novel, panicked, and buried it somewhere in my documents folder. Insecurity is a funny thing, isn’t it? But I’ll publish it one day!

Your new book is just out. Tell me more about it?
Yes! An Oath of Blood is the second book of my Urban Fantasy Academy series, The Fae Academy.

Vienna Defante is a straight-shooter princess with a knack for knives who’s thrown into an academy on forbidden Seelie territory.

And why yes, she is being stalked by demons. I’m glad you asked.

In her second semester, Vienna uncovers literal buried secrets in Noqtu Academy. She dives into this mystery because (no spoilers) her family is horrible and someone on campus is trying to kill her.

Normal teenage stuff, right?

What prompted you to write it?
I just love academy fantasy books. Probably because I want to attend one. Desperately. C’mon Hogwarts.

What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book after this one?
Yes! Book 3 is coming in April. That’s what I’m working on now!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Cover reveal... Aeron Returns

Cover for book 2

I'm so excited to be sharing this with you. The book will be available for pre-order from this weekend (just as the first book, "Aegyir Rises" goes live). The design MiblArt did, based on the brief I gave them, is amazing. The reason behind the Viking/Norse influences you can see in the background become apparent in the book, and I just love the depiction of Faran in the cover. The typeface they've chosen for the trilogy is perfect.

And... I can also share with you the blog tour details for "Aegyir Rises". Make sure you follow all these guys on Twitter, to see what they're saying about the book and to get some exclusive excerpts.

It's been a long haul, but I'm almost there!

And... last but not least, there are a couple of days left to get "Aegyir Rises" FREE, if you sign up for my newsletter. The newsletter comes out once a month, normally, and has some of my news, plus will also be featuring other books you might not have heard of, but I think you'll enjoy.

But you have to be quick! This offer FINISHES IN TWO DAYS.

Sign-up before 23:59 GMT on February 20, 2020 and get a FREE copy of Guardians of The Realm Book 1: Aegyir Rises

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Tuesday, 11 February 2020

It's getting closer!

It's getting closer! The pre-order is live and there's a special introductory price of 99p/99c.


If you want to get it for FREE, all you need to do is sign up below, to get your copy on the 21st - the day before publication. Sign-up will close on the 20th, so don't miss out!

Sign-up before 23:59 GMT on February 20, 2020 and get a FREE copy of Guardians of The Realm Book 1: Aegyir Rises

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Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Have you spotted the runes?

Have you spotted the runes in the cover? And why are there runes there?

Scattered throughout the front cover are runes. They're a little easier to see near the eyes of the demon, but they're all over the upper part of the cliff-face of the cover.

Why are they there? What do they say?

Well, when you read the book (don't forget to sign up below for a FREE copy!), you'll find out!

I've always been a fan of hiding things in covers. The cover for The Wrong Kind of Clouds has a map of Malawi in it. 😊

Don't forget... Sign-up before 23:59 GMT on February 20, 2020 and get a FREE copy of Guardians of The Realm Book 1: Aegyir Rises

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