Saturday, 21 January 2023

My Top Crime Authors of 2022

Like most writers I do love a good read. Last year I read 55 books which I think is pretty good going. I write romance and I read a lot of romance but I do like a good bit of crime too.

Here are my favourite crime authors of the books I read in 2022.

Biba Pearce


 



This is a crime series based on a detective Rob Miller.  I read the first three novels last year, which began with the Thames Path Killer.  In each novel the detective has to track down a serial killer and the novel concentrates on both the detection of the crime and the personal life of Rob Miller. I have thoroughly enjoyed each novel and actively look to when she publishes the next novel.

 

This year I read books 4 and 5 in the series which were:




These were both page turning books, and I look forward to reading the next one.

 

Lynda La Plante


 

I’ve loved the many TV series written by Lynda La Plante but this year I started to read her books which I absolutely love.

 

I started with the Widows series reading the three books: Widows, She’s Out and Widow’s Revenge.



And then I moved on the series which follows on from this featuring Detective Jack War, the series starts with Buried which re-investigates the robbery which was committed in Widows revenge.



Then I went back in time to Detective Jane Tennison.  I loved the Prime Suspect series on TV and reading about Jane Tennison from the beginning of her career has provided me with many happy reading hours.


 

 

Who were your favourite authors in 2022?

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

Thoughts on 2022

At this time of year, I always to take a moment to reviews the highs and lows of the year, and to assess what I’ve actually achieved over the year.  I must say I’m glad to see the back of 2022, as it’s not been an easy one. But then when is life ever easy these days? It started badly, attending the funeral of my youngest son’s friend on my son’s 18thbirthday. Two other more elderly friends died and I spent a lot of time supporting the bereaved at the beginning of the year. 

I was looking forward to February as I had planned a weekend in London with my husband for his birthday. Unfortunately, a hurricane stopped all train travel and we had to postpone at the last minute.  We did get to go in March though, and the weather was so much nicer so perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. 

 





In February my eldest son left home to join the army. I was sad to see my first born fly the nest. I wasn’t one hundred percent behind his decision but it’s what he wanted to do so I supported him. Ten weeks later he was back home after having decided it wasn’t for him after all. I’m glad he tried it though and made that decision himself. He’s since found himself a good job and seems much happier so that’s something to be grateful for. 

 

In April we were supposed to be going to Ireland to visit my husband’s relatives but after two years of dodging the bullet, we both got COVID. I’d been worried about catching the virus as the medication I take for my Psoriatic Arthritis means I have low immunity. Thankfully the vaccinations protected me and the illness wasn’t as bad as I had feared. We finally got to Ireland in May.


 




 


The first half of the year was tricky for my youngest son. I spent a lot of time helping him learn to drive and supporting him through three driving tests. When he did pass I spent several months biting my nails whenever he went out int he car. And then were the A-Level exams which were also stressful. He's now at university studying history.He was really looking forward to going but has ended up more homesick than he expected, but I'm hoping in settle in more next term. 


On the plus side my husband and I had two happy holidays in Spain at our apartment, so the year has had its up-sides too.

 



 

And through all this I have been trying to keep my writing going. 

 

In 2022 I completed Book 1 sent it to several agents, either heard nothing or got rejected, edited it again and sent it to the publisher, ChocLit. Its currently going through assessment via their reader panel, the result of which I’m hoping to hear from soon. 

 

I’ve been learning as much as I can about self-publishing. If Book 1 doesn’t get taken up by ChocLit I’m going to bite the bullet and publish it myself. I’ve spent many years submitting things and either getting rejected or being ignored so maybe it’s time to take control of my writing destiny.

 

I’ve done some serious editing and redrafting of Book 2. This came into being during NaNoWriMo so was a very rough 50,000 words. I got more or less to the end of this, deleting and creating so that it was 70,000 words, then I got a bit depressed because it still wasn’t quite working. So, I went back to square one, did a lot more plotting and planning and am halfway through the process of re-writing. Hopefully by the end of this draft I will have much deeper characterisation and a sound structure and my next edit will be more a case of fine tuning.

 

I’ve dipped my toe into the world of Twitter and done some extensive research on how to develop my own website. I’ve also been reviewing and editing some short stories as I have decided to self-publish a couple of short story anthologies as a way to introduce myself into the world of independent publishing. 

 

After a slow start to the writing year, I’ve ended on a positive note and am fully motivated to make sure that 2023 will be the year I finally get published (one way or another).

 

What were your best bits of 2022 and what are you looking forward to in 2023?


Sunday, 1 January 2023

Happy New Year!!



Well, it’s here, 2023. It’s hard to believe that another year is over and we’re already into the next one. 

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year and weren’t too bogged down with this nasty cold / flu bug which seems to be everywhere. My eldest son was the first to by laid low, then my husband got it just before Christmas and is still coughing and spluttering. My youngest son caught it from him and has been suffering quite badly with it. I, however, have managed to escape it so far. There, I’ve just jinxed myself, I’ll probably catch it now I’m due back at work.

 

Christmas – well it takes so much preparation and then it’s over in a flash. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, we did. We spent it with my husband’s family – twenty of us. We all chipped in with the cooking but hat’s off to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for hosting it all. We had a great time but I was glad we had nothing planned for Boxing Day so we could all recover. There was another party on the Tuesday for a belated 21st. And then my mum came to stay with us for a few days. It was lovely to spend some proper time with her, especially at this time of year.

 

Amidst all the celebrations, there is also a sadness to this time of year for me. Five years ago, just before Christmas my mother-in-law passed away. The following day, whilst my mum was undergoing knee replacement surgery, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away ten days later on 30th January. This is him on my wedding day.

 


 

I still miss him so much and am sad that he’s not here to see what lovely young people all his grandchildren have become. I try to look on the positive side though, that he is not really lost to us, but is forever with us in our hearts. It makes me cherish my mum even more though, and I am eternally grateful that she is still very much in our lives.

 

It’s not been a great year for a lot of people, and I’ve had some incredible stressful periods throughout the months, but I have ended the year feeling positive and particularly motivated for my writing in the year ahead. Life is what you make it after all, and I’m going to do my best to make 2023 a thoroughly productive writing year.

 

Wishing you all the very best for 2023!

 


Monday, 19 December 2022

Book Review – Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

As well as writing I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently. But not reading just for pleasure, I’ve been trying to read like a writer and analyse the structure of books, how character is portrayed and how the character arcs are developed throughout the story.

Mostly I’ve been reading romance novels as that’s the genre I write in but I also recently re-read Harriet Tyce’s Blood Orange.




 

I found this a compelling read but what fascinated me most was that I enjoyed it despite the fact that I didn’t find any of the characters likeable, especially at the beginning. 

 

Alison is a barrister who is gaining success and has just been given her first murder case. She lives with her husband and her young daughter. Her husband is the primary carer for their child.

 

All is not good in their marriage, lots of passive aggressive comments coming from him but maybe he has cause because after work she goes out and gets so drunk she falls asleep in her chambers. She’s also having sex with another man. Nothing affectionate about it, just rather aggressive sex at the end of the night. She keeps telling herself that she must stop drinking and having sex with him but she can’t seem to stop herself. She’s on a downward spiral. 

 

I found neither the husband or the lover at all appealing and while I did feel some sympathy for Alison, the fact that she kept degrading herself with her lover had me shouting at my Kindle screen in frustration.

 

Her redeeming qualities are her love for her daughter and the fact that she is really good at her job.

 

And yet, despite my lack of empathy I kept turning the pages and by the end of the novel was completely on Alison’s side. How Tyce made me empathetic to such a flawed character is nothing short of genius. 

 

There were so many twists and turns in this novel that kept me intrigued as to what would happen next. 

 

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone and will probably read it again at some point in the future. 

 

What books have you been reading recently?

 

 

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Well, the weather is certainly Christmassy enough at the moment, whether or not it will last until the big day is debatable though! I don’t mind snow at Christmas, its only when I have to get to work or other places that I find it annoying, if not sometimes scary. Not a bit fan of defrosting the car either, but it can certainly look pretty, especially when the sun's shining as it was this morning.


As anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows, I can be a bit of a grump about Christmas, especially as five years ago I lost my father suddenly during the festive period.

 

But this year, in an effort not to be a Christmas humbug, I’m doing my very best to embrace the season of goodwill.

 

A few weekends ago I wrote my Christmas cards whilst watching Love Actually and I even managed a mince pie.



And once the present buying is out of the way (nearly there!) I’ll be able to embrace the season fully, especially as for the first time since I had my own home, I won’t be the one cooking Christmas dinner.

 

But I won’t forget to spare a thought for those who are less fortunate than myself and of course, make some charitable donations.

 

Are you looking forward to Christmas?

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

It's Strictly Time!

I must admit I do enjoy watching Strictly – it’s something to look forward to on the long autumn / winter nights in the run up to Christmas.



I love the learning curve that the celebrities go on in their quest to learn to dance.

 

It’s a more intense version of the path to becoming a writer, although most of us writers learn our craft on the side-lines rather than in the glare of the public eye. 

 

The other similarity to writing is that the dancers have to learn to listen to the feedback of the judges in order to progress.

 

One of the things I like about Strictly, compared with other similar programmes, is that I feel the judges are not being intentionally nasty in their feedback, they have a genuine desire to show the dancers how they can improve, to progress through to the next stage. But sometimes the way feedback is received is down to the delivery.

 

Craig is viewed as the nasty judge because he always marks lower than the other judges and because he is super critical. But I think part of the audience’s reaction to him is because he always starts off with the bad points before praising anything that is good. I received advice a long time ago that feedback should be like a sandwich: start with something good, put the meaty feedback in the middle and then finish on something good too. I have been part of several readers groups and given feedback to other writers and the process has helped me to develop my own writing as it helps me to focus on both what does and doesn’t work. It would never be my wish to demoralise any writer, but I also think there’s no point in simply praising what is good and ignoring what can be improved upon. And so the sandwich method has enabled me to deliver what I will always hope to be constructive criticism. 

 

It can be crushing to receive harsh feedback, especially when you have put your heart and soul into something. As writers, we know how demoralising that can be, but we also know that constructive criticism is what makes us better writers. 

 

Reading feedback for the first time can be daunting, but from personal experience I find that if I put it aside for a few days, when I come to re-read it, I can connect with it more rationally. I’ve always found that constructive criticism often rings true and highlights issues that I have known were there but which I haven’t been able to fully acknowledge.

 

Similarly, if deep down the feedback doesn’t sit right with you, then you can make your own decision to disregard it. If you are a true writer, you will think carefully about the feedback you receive and take on board the parts of it that you know will help you develop as a writer and produce an improved piece of work.

 

So as we are coming towards the end of Strictly for another year, we can sit back, relax and enjoy watching how much the dancers have improved over the series.

And when its finished, well, then it will be Christmas. 

Friday, 28 October 2022

Catching Up

 


I haven't posted for a while but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. In fact, life has been a bit of roller coaster ride - as ever.

In February of this year, my eldest son left home to join the army. It wasn't something I was particularly comfortable with, considering the current unrest in the world, but you have to let them make their own way in the world don't you?

Ten weeks later he was back at home after having decided that army life was not for him. But at least he tried and got it out of his system, and to be fair to him, he soon sorted himself out with work and has now found himself a job close to home which he seems to be enjoying.

We've also had the highs and lows of A Levels this year, very stressful at times (understatement!) for both my youngest son and myself. He's now studying history at the University of Huddersfield. It's taking a while for him to settle in but I hope he'll find his feet soon. He's coming home for reading week in November so I'm looking forward to seeing him then.

So what with all the comings and goings, I've found it difficult to establish a writing routine. I'm notoriously bad at putting my writing before the family and household tasks, and this is something I'm determined to become better at. 

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I've been working on a romance novel which has previously been through the RNA New Writers' Scheme. I finally got it to a place I was happy with and submitted it to various agents, with no success. I'd always had the thought that my novel would be suited to Choc Lit - a dedicated publisher of romance, so I took the bull by the horns and sent it off in early September. The selection process takes several months, so to take my mind off the outcome, I've been working on redrafting a novel which I started to write during NaNoWriMo a few years ago. I set myself a target of writing 500 words a day on days I was working and 1,000 words a day when I wasn't doing the day job. It was a target I found I was able to sustain and I was enjoying the process until I ran out of plot. I literally don't know where I'm going with this book so I need to go back to the beginning and do some serious plotting and restructuring.

To take a break from this and hopefully gain some perspective in the interim, Ive been editing some short stories which have been languishing on my hard drive. I'm aiming to develop these into short story anthologies which I will self-publish. At the same time, I'm working on developing my own author website. 

As ever I'm trying to do a lot, and do it all at once, and I often get the dreaded feeling of overwhelm. But I'm determined to keep going. To help me along the way, I ask the question:

"How do you eat an elephant?'

The answer of which is:

"One bite at at time."

Not that I would want to eat an elephant, but you get my drift. 

How do you cope when there seems to be more to do than time to do it in?

My Top Crime Authors of 2022

Like most writers I do love a good read. Last year I read 55 books which I think is pretty good going.   I write romance and I read a lot of...