Zero Day

Yesterday was a hectic one for me. It included two appointments, a quick bite to eat with the other half and then a ten hour (busy) shift at work. I knew I wanted to write and I figured that maybe when I finished work I could come in and get at least something written down. However, my shift ran over and I had to stay late for a few reasons so by the time I got home it was well after 10pm. And I was exhausted. After doing boxercise on Thursday I’ve been sore from head to toe and the week has put a bit of a mental drain on me.

Although everything in my brain was nagging at me to turn on my laptop and write, I knew I couldn’t. There was no point. Anything I produced last night would have warranted the scrap pile this morning. So instead, I made myself a cuppa and spent some time with my partner before heading to bed. Yesterday was the first day since the start of the year that I haven’t written. Yes I was a little bit annoyed that I couldn’t but at the same time, I know I had to realise that life gets in the way. I can’t always write and things won’t always go according to plan. It’s about learning to adapt and when and if I have to, allowing myself to take that time off. Nothing has been lost and in fact, this morning I feel fresh and ready to go so I’m off to make a start on my WIP which is Peyton’s back story.

If you want to know about Peyton, you can find one of her stories in Eight Deadly Kisses which was released by Dark Chapter Press in February this year, an all women anthology with strong female characters. Definitely worth a read. You can find it here: Eight Deadly Kisses

Eight Deadly Kisses

 

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Middlings

I’m currently working on the fourth novel in a series (of which there will be seven). I have been loosely planning the novels in my notebook but mostly they have come together of their own accord. It’s like something I’ve never experienced before and I love it!

I’ve come to the realisation that my weakness (because we all have them) while writing is the middle. Because I have planned the beginning and know where I want it to end up, I know what I’m doing there. However, because I haven’t been putting in a rigid structure or plan throughout my novel I’ve found two things: that my characters have free reign to tell me what they want to do and that I flounder somewhat.

In one way, I like writing like this. My story goes where it should go and the characters seem to know where to take me from one scene to the next. They seem to have a lot of bright ideas. But one thing that I do find is that on the occasion when I sit down to write and I’m not sure where my characters want to go, I’m a bit lost. Sometimes I find myself slogging through the thousand words just to get it down on paper but not really feeling it. Sometimes I’ll sit for ages just wondering (and of course procrastinating) what should happen next.

Of course there are pros and cons of planning and pantsing but I like to adopt an in-the-middle approach that seems to work generally quite well for me. What I do think I’m good at doing is soldiering on through the times when I find it hard to write. I make myself write because I know that when I hit the next scene my fingers will be flying and the characters will be taking over again.

In other news, I’m taking off this weekend for some time with family and my partner as we head to the Harry Potter studio in London. Of course I’m so excited about it being the huge Harry Potter dork that I am (and currently deciding how many Harry Potter themed clothes it would be acceptable to wear!).

Oh and look out this weekend for a cover reveal from Granville, my new co-written novella which is being released on the 17th. If you want to take part here’s the link to the release party on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/464630770410893/

David Owain Hughes will also be attending the party as of course, he is the co-author! Also look out for Eight Deadly Kisses released by Dark Chapters Press, an anthology written by women with strong female characters. All proceeds go to CAMFED.

Co-editing

Writing something with another author has always baffled me–that’s until I actually did it. I’m the sort of person who worries about the logistics of a thing, who will do what, will it be equal etc. However, when it got down to writing it  we passed it back and forth each adding a little at a time until it was finished and we had a completed novella.

Now we’re at the editing stage after being offered a publishing deal. I worried about the same thing. Thing is, it has gone more smoothly than I thought. My co-writer, David Owain Hughes, did the first round of edits using track & change, I have gone through a second round adding, accepting or rejecting and passed it back for a final read through. Hopefully by April this will be out.

I think co-writing has taught me a lot about compromise, working together and discussion as well as opening me up to ideas and styles of writing that I haven’t tried or possibly have been a little shy to in the past. Often I stop and think, What if someone I know reads this? Often it can put me off writing certain things, making things too gory or erotic for example, but then writing with David has taught me to write like I want to write. I write for me and hopefully someone will enjoy my work. Not everyone will and that’s true of friends and family.

In other news, I’m working on the third novel in the series I’m currently working on. I’m just over 20k in and still going strong although at times it’s a slow write. I think it could have been planned just that little bit better but I’m going to see where it takes me. I want to finish writing them all before going back to edit and doing that it one big, long stint. I think that’ll help with keeping the flow of the piece.

Oh and in other news, I ran over my big toe with a sofa today. If my toe doesn’t drop off then I think that my nail will. All I have to say is OW!

What are you working on at the minute? Or if you’re not an author, what are you reading?

3rd Person vs. 1st Person. What’s your opinion?

I’m busy editing a novel (currently titled Labyrinth of the Fallen Angel) that I hope to send off for publication once I finish it. I’ve mentioned it on my blog here before and it’s already undergone a huge overhaul but I still think there’s room for improvement. There are two female leads in this novel and it’s currently written in third person which can make it difficult in terms of pronouns. I find I’m writing a lot of ‘her’, ‘she’ and their names ‘Bryony’ and ‘Francesca’ to try and differentiate and make sure the reader knows who is talking/who I’m writing about. It can get a bit messy and confusing and I’m not sure I’m happy with it.

I’m currently considering overhauling it and changing it to first person. It would be a huge task to undertake but then again, if it makes my work better and would make it easier for the reader, I’m willing to do it (and it’s not the first time either!) Looking for opinions here: What do you think?

So currently it’s in 3rd person and reads as:

3rd person: Over the past few months as Francesca’s relationship broke down and she found comfort in her best friend’s arms, she realised she was beginning to look at her in a different light. No matter how hard she pushed it away or wrote it off as a crush, she knew it was much more than that. “Nothing.” She shook her head, finally catching Bryony’s eye. “And for your information it’s ten.”

Considering changing it to 1st person and it would read something like:
1st person: Over the past few months as my relationship broke down, Bryony was always there to comfort me and as time drew on I realised I was beginning to look at her in a different light. No matter how much I pushed it away or wrote it off as a passing crush, I knew it was much more than that. “Nothing,” I shook my head, finally catching Bryony’s eyes. “And for your information it’s ten.”

I would appreciate any input you have and would like to share with me. It might make my decision easier!

Jessica Rhodes talks about her Debut Novel

Name: Jessica Rhodes

Age: 24

Where are you from? Ramsgate, Kent.

Tell us a little about yourself ie. education Family life etc.

I was born and raised in Ramsgate, and have always loved writing. My highest achievement to date is a BA (Hons) in Music from the University of East Anglia, which I received in 2013. I have a lovely baby son called Charlie, and I’m marrying my fiancé Josh in August 2016. We are also the proud owners of 3 gorgeous cats, who are mad as hatters but lovable with it!

When and why did you begin writing? I started writing in my GCSE year, so about 2007/2008. I did a piece about human grief in which the protagonist’s daughter passes away, shortly followed by her mother. It got a high grade and sparked my interest in the human psyche.

Do you have a novel/collection published? Would you like to tell us about it? I am currently publishing my debut novel, Lady Cannibal, with Immortal Publishing in America. It’s the first in a series of books, which is pretty exciting.

What inspired you to write your first book? I got the opening line for Chapter One of Lady Cannibal at 2 am! It was weird to wake up and have that line going round my head, but once it was down on paper that was it.

Do you have a favourite character from your book? If yes, who is it and why? My favourite character in my book has to be Serena Raymond. She’s feisty on the outside, but on the inside she’s fragile and hurting a great deal. Exploring her is one of my favourite things to do.

Is your book part of series? If so what can readers expect to find in your series? It is, and people can expect to find a lot of darkness, depravity and sexual tension as well as every range of emotions possible.

Do you have a specific writing style? Not really. I suppose my “style” is simply to sit down and ask the book what its story is. It sounds weird, but I literally think to myself “What does this book want to tell me? Whose story am I telling? What’s the story here?”

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Starting a book! Once I’ve started a book, I’m away, but looking at that blank page is the most daunting thing I will ever face.

What are your current projects? I’m working on my second novel, Prison of the Angels, and editing my fiancé’s book Shadowborn.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? That would be telling! No spoilers!

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? A lot of them are based on my own life experiences and events that have happened to me, especially the experiences that shape Serena. She is, to all intents and purposes, my twin. Just with a far better job!

What books have most influenced your life most? Do you have a mentor? I think it would be better to say which authors influenced my life! They are Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, Kate Rhodes, P D James, J K Rowling and the wonderful Sir Terry Pratchett. As for a mentor … I have a lot of friends who kick me up the backside when I’m slacking!

Have you ever been able to travel in regards to your books? What was it like? I’ve had the opportunity to travel, but not in regards to my books. Travel is a huge passion of mine, even though I’ve only been to Europe, and I hope to take my son abroad when we can afford it.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Always listen to yourself. Don’t listen to people who say you should write in a specific style, or with a set number of words, because it’s all a matter of opinion. As long as you are being true to the book and true to yourself, nothing else matters.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Other than enjoy the book, nothing really!

What book are you reading now? I’m reading The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman for a website I review for. Juggling that and a baby is certainly fun!

Do you remember the first book you read? If not tell us what your favourite book is and why. Hmm … my favourite book has to be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I just love how feisty Jane is, how firm she is in her moral outlook, and how she stands by her decision not to marry Rochester and make him a bigamist. She is the older sister I wish I had.

Other than writing do you have any hobbies? I like keeping fit through a mix of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred and martial arts, and I love cooking and baking. I also love reading when I get a chance, although playing with my son on his playmat is far more fun!

Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do? I used to work for the NHS as admin staff, but I’ve applied for Kent Police as an officer. I’ve passed shortlisting so just have vetting and medicals to pass before I can potentially be an officer!

What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching? I love Strictly Come Dancing and the Great British Bake Off, as well as Masterchef and Celebrity Masterchef. As for films … if I listed them all we’d be here all day!

Favourite foods /Colors/Music.

Foods is a hard one – I’m pescetarian so I love a lot of Asian flavours, and I also love a good Sunday roast! Just with fish rather than meat. Colours-wise, I like dark colours such as purple, red, black, blue and green. I’m not one for pastels and floral prints – you’re more likely to see me in jeans and a t-shirt than a fashionable dress! Music – again we’d be here all day! At the moment I’m loving Pentatonix, Peter Hollens, Evynne Hollens and Lindsey Stirling as well as Nathan Alef and Merlin Showalter.

Links: www.writersedit.com – Writer’s Edit, the site I do freelance reviewing for.

Blog: thehomegrownmum.blogspot.co.uk – my parenting blog.

theliteraturewhisperer.wordpress.com – my book review website.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/somethingtosaytoyou – author page.

www.facebook.com/theserenaraymondnovels – the book series page.

Twitter: @JLRhodes91

Instagram: jessica.rhodes91

Bio: I was born and raised in Ramsgate, and have always loved writing. My highest achievement to date is a BA (Hons) in Music from the University of East Anglia, which I received in 2013. I have a lovely baby son called Charlie, and I’m marrying my fiancé Josh in August 2016. We are also the proud owners of 3 gorgeous cats, who are mad as hatters but lovable with it!

Elena talks about her Writing

Name: Elena

Age: 33

Where are you from? Ripley, NY, USA

Tell us a little about yourself ie. education Family life etc. I have two sisters (twins) who recently had babies just six days apart! I am a speech therapist and have my Master’s degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences. I love my job!

When and why did you begin writing? I have always loved writing and began when I was about in 3rd grade. I always had stories floating in my head!

Do you have a novel/collection published? Would you like to tell us about it? Not yet…

What inspired you to write your first book? I was walking home from school in 7th grade and had an idea for it. It literally popped into my head. Maybe an angel gave me the idea like in The Bishop’s Wife…..

Do you have a favourite character from your book? If yes, who is it and why?   My main character is Charlotte, a teenager who lives with her stepmother who gradually becomes an alcoholic. She is my favorite character because she has overcome a lot in her life. I also like her friend Lara because she has juvenile arthritis and has to use a cane or wheelchair and makes Charlotte appreciate what she has.

Is your book part of series? If so what can readers expect to find in your series? It’s not yet but it could be

Do you have a specific writing style? Hmmm….not really

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?   Sometimes I am not sure where to go with the story and don’t work on it like I should

What are your current projects? My Charlotte story, a story about a non-Jewish persecuted person in World War II and a kid’s ghost story

Can you share a little of your current work with us? It’s too long

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Not really, it’s pure imagination!

What books have most influenced your life most? Do you have a mentor? I love Eva Ibbotson, Roald Dahl, Bruce Coville, Ray Bradbury, Tolstoy….   I don’t have a mentor though

Have you ever been able to travel in regards to your books? What was it like?   No, unfortunately

Do you have any advice for other writers? Keep working on it no matter what!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?  Read my work!

What book are you reading now? The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury and Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Do you remember the first book you read? If not tell us what your favourite book is and why.   It’s Spring!

Other than writing do you have any hobbies? I love to read, walk and hike. I also enjoy movies

Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do? I’m a speech therapist

What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching? The Simpsons, Disney films, I love Lucy, The Addams Family

Favourite foods /Colors/Music.   Lasagna, silver and purple. I like most kinds of music (except country). I listen to classical when I write

 

Twitter:  Elenaspeech

Purchase links for my novel: Hopefully coming soon!

Guest Post: Broken Toy by David Owain Hughes

If you read my last post you’ll see that I mentioned a very talented man that I’ve been co-writing a novella with… well this is the guy! He’s taking time out of his busy schedule to guest post on my blog and talk about why horror works for him.

David Owain Hughes

“Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man; by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”

― Bane

Why Horror, David?

Because I was born of it; grew up living in a world full of it, along with fear and sadness…But hey, the poet needs the pain, right?

Let me explain, but I fear I won’t be able to keep it from sounding like a cliché – I’m not typical of writing or talking about sob stories for attention, drama or any other reason…I just feel as though I have to get this out, as much stuff has been going on in my life lately.

Before I go any further, I just want it to be known that I love my parents, and that how my childhood was, doesn’t change that. In fact, it helped instil in me a love for horror and violence.

Maybe ‘love’ is the wrong word. I certainly love it now, as it’s a world I’ve immersed myself in – I get great joy out of it with my writing, as I strive to become a known and loved author.

But back in my childhood, I think to have called it ‘love’ would be wrong of me. I think the world of horror and violence was my safety blanket…Who knows? But it’s a starting point.

So, ‘Why horror?’

It’s a question I’ve been confronted with on many, many occasions. My answer? That I grew up on pirate, ninja and horror films from a very tender age; a tender age of five or maybe younger; I’m pretty sure I was five…I remember watching “The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf”, so five would have been about right.

That film was probably my first horror flick.

I also remember watching and loving “Flesh and Blood”, but that would have come later in the 80s.

So yeah, the whole I grew up on pirate, ninja and horror films from a very tender age is true. I didn’t make it up for shits and giggles!

Hey, I had older brothers, what can I say? I’m sure many of you were in the same boat, right?!

Anyone remember “Gymkata”? I thought that was the best ninja movie ever…Until “American Ninja” came along, that is. What about that pirate movie with Michael Caine? “The Island” – Cor! now that is an oldie, along with “Who Could Kill a Child?”

My heroes were Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger and Michael Meyers as a child, along with the “Garbage Pile Kids”, “Ghoulies”, “Gremlins” and “The Monster Squad”.

Every weekend my parents would go out and leave one of my older brothers to look after me – if it was Richard, then it was sure to be a night filled with blood, guts and carnage; the video shop was our playground…Yeah, I used to pop along with him.

Aye, for a shaggy, blond-headed five-year-old, I was made of pretty stern stuff. I loved the gore and monsters, but my nightmares were horrific, if you listen to my brother talk about those long ago Saturday nights…

‘The bloodier the better,’ Richard has told me I was said, whenever I ask him about my film likes back then.

Richard was also underage at the time, but only by three or four years.

You’re probably wondering where the ‘sob story’ come into all this?

Well, we’ve pretty much discovered where my love for horror has come from, and why I write what I write.

But why was it my ‘safety blanket’ as a small child?

The answer is simple – my parents had a very unhealthy relationship when I was a child. It was filled with drunken rage and violence; the things that went on, were the sort of things a small child should never bare witness to. I’ve never spoken about this before, only to close friends and past/current girlfriends.

I guess it’s not the type of stuff you just throw into conversations?

I’m not going to dwell on this part too much, but I am going to recant a tale that will never leave my memory.

Again, I was still very young at this point – no older than five or six.

My parents returned from a night out, very drunk I may add, and started arguing. I was upstairs asleep when they come home, but their loud shouts and my mother’s screams of pain woke me.

When I went downstairs, scared witless, I’d never seen a scene in real-life like it – nor to this day, in fact. The living room was a complete bombsite – furniture had been smashed and thrown around the place, with broken glass everywhere.

My fear turned to sobs of distress and panic, as you can imagine.

Running into the kitchen, I saw the walls were covered in blood – and I mean covered. They were running red, just like my mother’s face.

A shocking moment, believe you me; this behaviour of theirs continued throughout my childhood, causing me to live in constant fear.

Fear for myself and my mother.

Film and TV were my friends – I found a world in which I belonged.

Maybe I knew no different?

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though, as I was very much loved for by both my parents. Still am. It’s something that will never change, as I love them, too.

We only get one set of parents in our life…

My type of past would be seen as a negative by most who have suffered in such ways, or worse, I’m sure – but I’ve taken it and used it for a gain, and boy is it working, as I strive to reach my goals within my writing.

I wrote this post after I discovered a batch of old photos of myself as a young boy – the images of me playing brought a smile to my face, as I thought back. There were a lot of good times, especially the ones spent with my brother.

I have a son of my own now, and when I look at him sometimes, I think of myself at that age, as he’s spiting image of me at that age. His innocence makes me laugh, as he hates anything scary.

‘Not like your dad,’ I’ve heard my mother tell him…

Bio:

David Owain Hughes is a horror freak! He grew up on ninja, pirate and horror movies from the age of five, which helped rapidly install in him a vivid imagination. When he grows up, he wishes to be a serial killer with a part-time job in women’s lingerie…He’s had several short stories published in various online magazines and anthologies, along with articles, reviews and interviews. He’s written for This Is Horror, Blood Magazine and Horror Geeks Magazine. He’s the author of the popular novel “Walled In” (2014), along with his short story collections “White Walls and Straitjackets” (2015) and “Choice Cuts” (2015). After discovering Richard Laymon, David set out on a path to become the best writer he could, holding a BA and MA in creative writing.

Choice Cuts’ blurb:

Choice Cuts: A collection of one of the finest splatter-fuelled horror the genre holds, an unflinching set of short stories that will stay with you, horrors that set root into the back of your psyche & taunt your sanity to its limits.

Here lies fourteen tales of all that is baneful & bloodthirsty from David Owain Hughes, an author with an unflinching love for all things close-to-the-bone, grim & grotesque. Once you delve into these pages you will come face to face with an unstoppable force of pure gore. Readers of a delicate disposition may want to put this tome back on the shelf, while those of you who feel ready to be dragged along into the minds of the deranged & disturbed, the murderous & malignant who watch & wait…

Packed with fast-paced thrills & many, many spills. You’ll come face to face with what lies beneath the surface of the mundane & ordinary, step foot into the maze of murder, mania & madness…just be sure to come out in one piece, not just another choice cut.

We had the disquieting dioramas of stealth-like shocks & spills of Laymon…now we present you with Hughes’ own approach towards the antagonistic execution in the realms of the fear & mayhem that can strike when you least expect it. If you’re a fan of Laymon & Lee, you’ll devour Choice Cuts.

Choice Cuts

Choice Cuts

Buy link for Amazon: Choice Cuts

Co-writing Experiences

Recently I met a man who is going to be in the same anthology as me. It’s released on Halloween (can you guess the genre?!) and is published by Burning Willow Press. It’s going to be awesome.

We spent a bit of time chatting and getting to know one another and it turns out, we have a lot in common as well as some neat ideas we can share. So we decided to co-write something. At first it was going to be a short story but it kept growing and the ideas kept flowing and in just over two weeks we have churned out a novella!

I always wondered how co-writing would work. The logistics of it confused me a lot and I didn’t know whether it would be set out a certain way or a certain author would write a certain bit. In fact, we have just gone with it as it suits us. I started and passed it to my friend who added and passed it back. Now we’re at the same stage only I did the first round of edits and emailed it to him.

What started as a bit of fun might turn into something more as we have queries several publishers who are all interested in seeing the finished novella which is great!

What I’ve found with co-writing is that it boosts my creativity. Not that I can’t write on my own mind you but have someone to constantly bounce ideas off is great, especially if you’re both on the same page but have different imaginations. I have also found that it means because I am responsible to my friend for finishing my section, I’m working quicker, I’m putting more energy and thought into the novella.

I’ve been writing this at the same time as working on my novel (which is now at 30k) and although I thought it may have been too big a project to take on at the time, I have really enjoyed the experience. I will certainly co-write again!

What are you thoughts and feelings on co-writing? Have you ever co-written something? What was your experience like? I would love to hear from you!

Writing is a Lonely Profession

Writing can be a lonely profession. Most of my days (when I’m writing anyway) are spent on my sofa, usually in my pajamas with my laptop on my knees working on something or other with various internet windows open for research or procrastination purposes. I’m always content when I’m like that. I do what I love and that’s what’s important. However, there are times when I realise that I might have spent an entire two days (my two days off work) doing this and that I haven’t been anywhere or seen anyone or done anything. Sometimes I’m fine with that but sometimes I’m not.

I have to remind myself that there is a life outside of both work and writing and that I need to take time to explore it and have fun. It’s important to do that.

Inside of the writing world, when I’m spending days in front of my computer, I realise the importance for contact with other writers. When I first started out I had a couple of people I talked to, who knew what it was like to be a writer and how lonely it could be. As my work has expanded and my social circles within the writing community developed, I realise that I have friends all over the globe. Most of them are in America and I know one very special couple that always keep me going from Carolina. We talk daily and it means the world to me, not only to have someone who understands what I do and who I can talk to about writing, but someone I can just talk to as a friend.

I signed up to do an author signing down the line but has led me to make friends with those authors who I’ll be sharing a room with for twelve hours and more recently, I began talking to a man in my very own UK who I’m going to be sharing an anthology with. After some general chit-chatting and realising how similar we were in some aspects, we’ve decided to do a collaboration on a short story. That’s something I’m really looking forward to.

I guess what I’m trying to say is embrace the people you talk to, get yourself out there and don’t be shy. Although we all have times when we have our introvert selves come into play, we have to have a strong social network of other writers and authors to prevent the loneliness creeping in.

What are some of the things you do to prevent isolation when writing?

Putting the Present in the Past

Have you ever edited something where you decided to change the tense it was written in? This is the first major work I’ve decided to do this for. I’m busy editing my novel, The Devil’s Playground, and when I originally wrote it, it was in first person present tense. I think it’s going to work better in past tense and so now I’m starting to make those initial edits. I’m two chapters in (well technically, one prologue and chapter one) and it’s not proving to be an easy feat. It seems that my brain is getting confused very easily and I’m constantly questioning myself as to whether I’m actually writing the right thing in the right tense at the right point. The thing is, if I was writing this from scratch I know I would have no trouble. I can tell this initial edit is going to be long and probably tedious. If you see me on facebook too much, kick me off please! I need to slog through this so I can move onto the second round of working on plot lines and characters.

So far tonight I’ve hit 1700 words in edits which I think is good for my first go at it. Let’s just hope it keeps up!