Fancy being part of the new #TeamLori UK advance reader team? Here’s how…

DDT IamLori Postcard

#TeamLori UK is go and I’m super excited!

To help spread the word about the Lori Anderson series I’m putting together a small advance reader group called #TeamLori.

The idea is that members of #TeamLori will get early proof copies of new books in the series so they can share their thoughts on review sites, social media, with their friends and family, and basically act as fabulous bookish cheerleaders.

Founder members of #TeamLori will get a paperback proof of Lori Anderson book three – Deep Dirty Truth – along with some limited edition goodies. Membership is totally free and limited to twenty readers at the moment.

To join #TeamLori you don’t need to be a blogger (although bloggers are of course super welcome) but you do need to be UK-based (as this is for the UK edition), enthusiastic about reading thrillers and have enjoyed earlier books in the Lori Anderson series.

So if you fancy being one of the first to join #TeamLori don’t delay, click this link to SurveyMonkey and tell me why you’d like be one of the founder members of #TeamLori:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FL725Q5 

*** TEAM LORI MEMBERSHIP IS CURRENTLY CLOSED ***

*** THANK YOU FOR SUCH AN OVERWHELMING RESPONSE ***

#crimewritersincafesprocrastinating – @HollyACave talks bubbly, chocolate digestives, and being a phone addict!

Holly

 

Today crime writer Holly Cave is joining me for Crime Writers In Cafes Procrastinating. In this feature I find out the lengths writers go to procrastinate when they should actually be writing, and how they (finally) manage to win against the temptation of procrastination to finish their books.

Holly’s latest book – THE MEMORY CHAMBER – is a stunning, thought-provoking read and one of my favourite books of the year so I’m super excited to ask her all about her writing and procrastination habits…

Welcome, Holly!

So tell me all about your latest book – The Memory Chamber?

The Memory Chamber is part twisted love story, part crime thriller, part speculative fiction. It’s set in a London not that different to the one we see today, except that the profession of our main character, Isobel, is to create artificial heavens for people. By identifying and arranging her clients’ favourite memories, she can ensure they’ll have the perfect afterlife… or can she? As the story opens, we see Isobel falling in love with one of her new, terminally-ill clients, Jarek. This brief but passionate relationship will go on to make her question everything she knows, as Jarek’s wife is found dead and she embarks on a battle to prove him innocent.  

How long did The Memory Chamber take to write?

I first had the idea during a sunny autumn dog walk back in 2014, but I was still editing my first, self-published novel, The Generation, at the time. When I did start The Memory Chamber, it flowed. I started writing in the spring of 2015 and completed the first draft shortly after the end of NaNoWriMo in October that year.  

What’s your favourite writing/procrastination spot – home, café, bar, other?

I’m so lazy most of the time that I just stay at home. For me, one of the best things about being a writer and freelancer is that I can regularly wear jogging bottoms, forgo makeup, and not wash until midday. But if I’m having trouble concentrating, I do find that I work harder in a café environment because I feel like people are watching me type! I really want to convert part of my garage into a little office though – my working space in the spare room isn’t that glamorous at the moment.

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?

My process has changed a lot in recent months. I was always one for having a rough idea of where the story was going to go and then leaping in feet first. A classic pantser. But that approach hasn’t worked at all for my follow-up novel, which I’ve been to hell and back with. So, I’m now a reformed planner. I never thought I could do it, and I still believe that the first draft is you telling yourself the story, but I’ve learnt so much from books such as John Yorke’s Into the Woods and John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story.

When you’re writing, do you find you procrastinate more at the beginning, middle or end of the draft, or equally across all three?

Definitely at the beginning, when it’s totally needless. When it’s just a nervousness of starting badly or ruining the book in the first sentence. I also procrastinate when I hit stumbling blocks during the writing, but I think it’s forgivable in that circumstance because often, stepping away is the best thing you can do.

Do you prefer first drafts or edits (and why)?

Both have their merits. I actually love the measured rigor of systemically working my way through edits and seeing your story improve with each change. But nothing beats the magic of that first draft when the characters take the reins and start telling the story themselves.

When you’re procrastinating, what’s the activity you turn to most?

My name is Holly and I’m utterly addicted to my phone. I’ve recently started putting it on silent and leaving it on the other side of the room while I’m writing. But then it buzzes, and I start wondering if something vitally important and urgent has happened. As for a lot of writers, Twitter is a supreme distraction. Next step in the programme: switching my phone off completely.

When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice?

Cups of tea that never get finished. My husband gets home and finds the house littered with half-empty mugs. It drives him berserk. I have a terrible sweet tooth and chocolate digestives are always a win. Although it changes with the seasons. No sooner have the Mini Magnum wrappers been emptied from my office bin than the mince pies will be working their way onto my desk.

And how do you celebrate the completion of the book (you winning against procrastination)?

I’ve learnt that every little milestone is worth celebrating. Any excuse and I’ll crack open a bottle of bubbly or take my husband out for dinner. There are so many pitfalls and disappointments in the publishing industry, that I think we writers need to celebrate each thing we do achieve, even if it’s one nice review. I’ve just finished the draft of my next book and sent it to my editor and I was so exhausted that I just took a week off work and read lots, which was great. When it’s finally edited and cleared for publication, I will probably treat myself to a weekend away because it’s been such bloody hard work!

A huge thank you to Holly for letting me quiz her about her writing habits and the temptations of procrastination.

THE MEMORY CHAMBER is out now. Find out more over on Amazon by clicking on the book cover below:

#crimewritersincafesprocrastinating – @MasonCrossBooks talks trains, spreadsheets and beer (and thriller writing)

Mason

Today fantastic thriller writer Mason Cross joins me for Crime Writers In Cafes Procrastinating. As the title suggests, this feature is all about the lengths writers go to procrastinate when they should be writing, and how they (eventually) manage to win against the temptation of the path of procrastination to finish their books.

Mason’s latest novel – PRESUMED DEAD – features one of my favourite action heroes, the mysterious Carter Blake, and is a super fast paced, page turner of a read so I can’t wait to quiz him all about his writing and procrastination habits…

Welcome, Mason! So tell me all about your latest book – PRESUMED DEAD?

My latest one isPresumed Dead. Like my other novels, it stars Carter Blake, an investigator who specializes in finding people who don’t want to be found. In this case, he has a particularly tough challenge, when the brother of a girl thought murdered fifteen years before hires him because he believes she may still be alive…

It’s a little more small-scale and contained than some of my other books, and I really enjoyed writing a murder mystery for a change. So far only one reader has told me they were able to guess the ending.

How long did PRESUMED DEAD take to write? 

I never really know how to answer this question, because I don’t know exactly what start and finish points count. It was probably something like a year from the original idea to signing off on page proofs, but there’s a lot of on/off work over that period (not to mention finishing the previous book and planning the next one)

For the initial chunk of work, probably about six months to get a draft I was able to send my editor.

What’s your favourite writing/procrastination spot – home, café, bar, other?

I can work in most places, but my ideal writing environment is definitely the train. Quiet, nice view, no interruptions, shitty wifi – it all helps me to focus on the writing.

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?

Plot a bit, come up with a good opening and some key scenes, sketch out an outline, and then go for it. There’s no point being too detailed before I start work as I’ll always change things as I write the first draft.

When you’re writing, do you find you procrastinate more at the beginning, middle or end of the draft, or equally across all three?

Probably the middle, when it seems like an insurmountable task and that everything you write sucks. I have a lot more energy in the first few chapters and the last few. Talking to other writers, this is fairly normal. I suspect a lot of unpublished novels were abandoned at the 40,000 word mark.

Do you prefer first drafts or edits (and why)? 

Whichever one I’m not doing? Probably edits, because it’s easier to fix something that already exists than fill a blank page with something completely new.

When you’re procrastinating, what’s the activity you turn to most? 

Faffing about on social media, admin, organizing stuff that has no relation to the book. I created a spreadsheet inventorying the contents of the freezer last time I had a deadline.

When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice? 

Coffee or ice tea to drink. I’m not a big snacker.

And how do you celebrate the completion of the book (you winning against procrastination)?

A cold beer and not writing anything or thinking about writing anything. It’s nice to see my family for a change, watch a movie, or read someone else’s book.

A huge thank you to Mason for letting me grill him on his writing habits and his biggest procrastination pitfalls.

PRESUMED DEAD is out now. Find out more over on Amazon by clicking on the book cover below:

#crimewritersincafesprocrastinating – @RonaHalsallAuth talks about Keep You Safe, dog walking and Twitter! #crimefiction

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Today crime writer Rona Halsall is my guest on Crime Writers In Cafes Procrastinating. As the title suggests, this is where I get to quiz writers about the lengths they go to procrastinate when they should be writing, and how they (eventually) manage to win against the temptation of the path of procrastination to finish their books.

Rona’s debut novel – KEEP YOU SAFE – is out now and I can’t wait to quiz her all about her writing and procrastination habits…

Welcome, Rona! So tell me about your latest book

My debut novel, Keep You Safe is about Natalie, a woman who has been wronged in the most terrible way and now she is determined to put those wrongs right. She has been convicted of a crime she has no memory of committing, but her husband doesn’t believe her and he takes their baby son to live on the Isle of Man, where she has no legal rights. Three years later, when Natalie is released from prison, she sets out to find her son, knowing that his life is in danger. But who can she trust?

How long did Keep You Safe take to write?

It probably took a couple of years, with many rounds of editing and the finished novel is very, very different to my first draft. It started life as a romantic mystery, but when I pitched to an agent at a Literary festival, she said she liked my writing but felt my voice was more suited to a psychological thriller. So I re-wrote the whole thing, and it took a little while to get the plot right.

What’s your favourite writing/procrastination spot?

That would be dog walking in the many lovely places we have here on the island – forests, glens, old railway lines and beaches. Whenever I get stuck, it’s time for a dog walk to clear my head and sort out whatever problem I’ve come up against.  There’s usually a coffee shop involved along the way, because dog walking is thirsty work, isn’t it?

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?

Keep You Safe was definitely written in a pantser style, but the edits were so complicated and time-consuming that I’ve decided I need to plot.  My second book, Love You Gone, was plotted and it only took six weeks to get a rough first draft together, so I’ve decided that’s the way forward for me. Of course there’s always room to stray from the plan when a better idea pops up, but in general I feel it saves time to do all the creative thinking up-front, get the plot sorted and then the writing is much, much easier.

When you’re writing, do you find you procrastinate more at the beginning, middle or end of the draft or equally across all three?

Procrastination is an integral part of my writing process, I think! Maybe it’s a way of turning off active thinking and letting your subconscious get to work on your ideas. I think copyedits are my least favourite part of the process, so I probably procrastinate more at this stage than any other!

Do you prefer first drafts or edits (and why?)

I love the freedom of the first draft and the flow of words when you really get into the groove and you surprise yourself. That’s a little bit of creative magic and it’s a wonderful feeling.  But I like the editing process as well. I like fiddling with sentences to get the words just right, working out how to describe emotions and places in a way that will give the reader a picture in their mind and let them really experience the story. And I enjoy getting my editor’s input and seeing how her thoughts can shape the story to make it better.

When you’re procrastinating, what’s the activity you turn to most?

Social media is also a major distraction for me, having only recently discovered Twitter and I can lose a lot of time flicking through my newsfeed. I love seeing what everyone’s writing and which new books are coming out – I’m going to have to get one of those apps that turns it all off while I focus on writing!  I also do a lot of snacking.

When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice?

I have a whole range depending on the time of day. In the morning it’s coffee and I don’t tend to bother with snacks. By afternoon I’m ready for herbal teas and I don’t stop eating – dark chocolate, mixed nuts and crisps!

And how do you celebrate the completion of the book (you winning against procrastination)?

When I’m writing, my poor husband gets ignored for a large part of the time, so once the book is finished, it’s time for us to do things together. So we might go out for a meal to celebrate or go to the movies and get a takeaway and he breathes a big sigh of relief!

Dog walking, Twitter and dark chocolate – sounds like a perfect procrastination combo!

A big thank you to Rona for letting me grill her about her writing habits and procrastination pitfalls.

KEEP YOU SAFE is out now. Find out more over on Amazon by clicking on the book cover below:

CTG Reviews: The Memory Chamber by @HollyACave

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Holly Cave’s The Memory Chamber is out in paperback this month and wow this book blew my mind – I loved it so much and just had to shout about it!

If you’ve not heard of it yet, here’s the blurb:

An afterlife of your own design – what could go wrong?

Isobel designs artificial ‘heavens’ for her clients, created from the memories they treasure most. She works for Oakley Associates, London’s most prestigious firm of its kind. Her heavens are renowned for their beauty and perfection.

But Isobel crosses an ethical line when she falls for Jarek, a new – and married – client. Then, in the wake of his wife’s murder, Isobel uncovers a darker and deadlier side of the world she works in. As her life starts falling apart, Isobel realises that nothing is as perfect as it seems, not even heaven itself…”

Honestly, it’s a gorgeous, terrifying, heart breaking, fascinating book and I just couldn’t put it down. Hugely recommended!

You can find out more over on Amazon by clicking on the book cover below:

#crimewritersincafesprocrastinating –Christina McDonald talks about The Night Olivia Fell, social media and sun! #crimefiction

 

Today debut crime writer Christina McDonald is joining me for Crime Writers In Cafes Procrastinating. As the title suggests, this QA is all about the lengths writers go to procrastinate when they should be writing, and how they (eventually) manage to win against the temptation of the path of procrastination to finish their books.

Christina’s debut novel – THE NIGHT OLIVIA FELL – has a super intriguing premise and sounds fascinating so I can’t wait to quiz her all about her writing and procrastination habits…

Hi Christina, and welcome to the CTG blog

So great to be here, Steph! I’ve been waiting to write this post until I got the cover for my book. Then I got the cover for my book and I was waiting for the cover reveal. Then the cover reveal happened and I’ve been putting it off because I haven’t had the time, and because…well… procrastinating. But here I am!

So tell me all about your latest book?

The Night Olivia Fell is a domestic suspense novel with an emotional plot. It is  about a single mother called Abi who is startled awake in the small hours of the morning by a phone call informing her that her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the bruises circling Olivia’s wrists. When the police rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

How long did it take to write?

The first draft of writing book didn’t take me that long – 3-4 months. It was all the stuff after that: edits, getting an agent, edits for the agent, getting a publisher, edits for the editor. Altogether, from the time I wrote the book until the time it will be published will be three and a half years.

What’s your favourite writing/procrastination spot – home, café, bar, other?

In my garden at home on a beautiful, sunny day! Best is when my dog joins me for a cuddle while I’m reading. Reading is incredibly escapist, like skipping out on real life and jumping into another world. Like most people, I can get sucked into social media, too, but I do try to be a little disciplined about it. But reading, nope! I have very little discipline in forcing myself to not read, and when it’s sunny in my garden, all bets are off!

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?

I have a general idea of what I want the story to be about and where I want it to go, but really not much more than an idea. From there I start writing from page one – I write chronologically – and see where I go. As I get a more specific idea of themes, characters, tone of voice, etc, I jot out basic ideas for the inciting incident, first plot point, midpoint and third plot point. As I write I plan about one chapter ahead, so I know where I’m heading; and I keep an outline of the main things that have happened in each chapter so I know where I’ve been. I guess I’m a weird hybrid of a plotter-pantser.

When you’re writing, do you find you procrastinate more at the beginning, middle or end of the draft, or equally across all three?

Oh, definitely the middle! I always find myself very clear at the beginning of what I want to set out for the story, and once I’ve crossed the middle hump I usually know where I’m going and what will be the worst thing that can happen to my protagonist(s), so that last plot point and climax are fairly clear, but the middle part can be a struggle. Like many writers, I used to be a journalist, so I have a fear/respect of deadlines and have never missed one, but right around the middle part I start flogging myself with doubts, worrying that I’ll miss it and that the book will be horrible. Once I get over that, though, it’s usually fine.

Do you prefer first drafts or edits (and why)?

Drafts! It’s so clear in the first draft, and there’s such a freedom about writing exactly what I want to write. But once I get to edits it all becomes a bit tangled and confused in my mind. I start doubting why and where I’ve put plot points, if my character is ‘likeable’ enough, why I even wrote the book in the first place. From what I hear it’s really normal, so I just push through it. I have to give myself a good week or so after I’ve received edits to just sit on them and just see everything from a different angle. Then I hop back to it and get going on the next draft.

When you’re procrastinating, what’s the activity you turn to most?

Reading and social media. Social media can be a huge time waster, so I try to be really disciplined about it. I do need it to engage with readers, but it sucks you in so much. But when I start reading a book I sometimes get completely lost in it. Once when I was a teenager I was reading a book while sitting outside the classroom and about a half hour later I sort of came to and realised everybody had gone into class while I was totally zoned into the book. I was just left sitting outside the door!

When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice?

Coffee in the morning, wine when I work in the evening. And I love me a good old pack of Biscoff biscuits!

And how do you celebrate the completion of the book (you winning against procrastination)?

I think because this book hasn’t been published yet I feel like it isn’t really ‘done’, if that makes sense. There have been so many things to do: write, edit, market, publicity, publication, etc. I’m in the ‘trying to figure out marketing’ and ‘getting good reviews’ stage. Maybe once it’s published I’ll feel done and can celebrate with a lovely bottle of Champagne, but I feel like I haven’t won against procrastinating just yet. The battle is still on!

I think you should definitely crack open the bubbly on publication day, maybe a pack of Biscoff biscuits too!

***

A huge thank you to Christina for letting me grill her about her writing habits and procrastination pitfalls. 

THE NIGHT OLIVIA FELL is out in February 2019 in the US and in March 2019 in the UK. Find out more about Christina and her writing at her website – https://christina-mcdonald.com/

And check out THE NIGHT OLIVIA FELL and pre-order it over on Amazon by clicking the links below:

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Night-Olivia-Fell-Christina-McDonald/dp/1501184008/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533491822&sr=8-1&keywords=the+night+olivia+fell

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Olivia-Fell-Christina-McDonald-ebook/dp/B07FBQVLCC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533491767&sr=8-1&keywords=the+night+olivia+fell

 

#crimewritersincafesprocrastinating – Roz Watkins talks about her writing habits, horses and champagne! @RozWatkins

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Today debut crime writer Roz Watkins is joining me for Crime Writers In Cafes Procrastinating. As the title suggests, this feature is all about the lengths writers go to procrastinate when they should be writing, and how they (eventually) manage to win against the temptation of the path of procrastination to finish their books.

Roz’s debut novel – THE DEVIL’S DICE – is a brilliant read so I can’t wait to quiz her all about her writing and procrastination habits…

Welcome Roz! So tell me all about your latest book – THE DEVIL’S DICE

Thanks for inviting me to do this fabulous feature! ‘The Devil’s Dice’, my debut, was published in March this year. In it, a slightly chubby, not-very-glamorous detective (who probably has cat hair on her top) returns to Derbyshire and is confronted with a bizarre death which appears to have been caused by an ancient witches’ curse.

How long did THE DEVIL’S DICE take to write?

It took me about eighteen months to write. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I started, but with incredible naivety I bought ‘Writing Fiction for Dummies’ and got stuck in. For my second and third books (not published yet), I’ve had deadlines, and they’ve taken me around a year each, not including the editing with my publisher.

What’s your favourite writing/procrastination spot – home, café, bar, other?

I don’t need to leave the house to procrastinate. Funnily enough, when I was writing the first book, I was also running holiday cottages, so sneaking in some writing at the kitchen table was my procrastination activity when I should have been cleaning loos. Now I’m supposed to be writing, I find soooo many ways to procrastinate (but cleaning loos is not one of them).

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?

I’m not sure I’ve developed a writing process yet! For the first book, I tried all sorts, reading books on plotting and screenwriting and everything else I could get my hands on. I do now try to plot, but find I end up changing everything as I go along. I scribble copious notes in lovely notebooks with coloured glitter pens and I stick post-its on the walls – can we call that plotting?

When you’re writing, do you find you procrastinate more at the beginning, middle or end of the draft, or equally across all three?

I procrastinate more at the beginning. I find first drafts really hard and get a bit obsessed with word count, which I’ve realised is stupid because it’s the thinking that’s the hard bit. Getting words down isn’t hard if you know what you want to say! I like the creative side of it but it’s hard because you don’t really know where it all comes from, so with the best will in the world (and determined non-procrastination) you can still have a terrible day where you get nothing decent done.

Do you prefer first drafts or edits (and why)?

I actually prefer edits – they still feel creative, but I seem to relax once I’ve got a decent number of words down (even if they aren’t in the right order).

When you’re procrastinating, what’s the activity you turn to most?

Walking the dog is a top procrastination activity, because he stares at me until I do it and it’s pretty challenging trying to work with this going on. Social media is up there too. I’ve installed a thing that blocks me from spending more than half an hour on it between 10am and 5pm, otherwise every time the writing gets hard, I feel my brain saying, ‘maybe we could just check Twitter…’ I found it particularly hard around publication time because if somebody says something nice about the book, I just find it almost impossible not to go straight on there and thank them!

I’ve realised I can procrastinate whilst telling myself that I’m actually working, by picking horse manure out of our field. It always needs doing and it puts me into a kind-of Zen state where ideas come to me. If any aspiring writers would like the opportunity to try this, do get in touch 🙂

I also love a bit of research, and tend to get sucked in. Looking at my ‘favourites’ I can see these webpages, which are all relevant to my books (honestly!):

  • I’m a psychopath Ask Me Anything
  • Farmer EATEN ALIVE by his own pigs in shocking attack
  • Body integrity identity disorder – the man who wants to chop his own legs off
  • Can An Organ Transplant Change A Recipient’s Personality?

Another current fave is googling ‘writing sheds’ and fantasising about having one in my garden.

Then there’s my ancient cat, Toffee, who came with the house. She demands (at extremely high volume) ‘Toffee Time’ every morning. She’s long-haired so I have to sit with her and brush her and make sure she doesn’t get too matted. She lives in our barn so I can’t combine Toffee Time with writing or anything else useful, and anyway she insists on my undivided attention.

The animals are an endless source of procrastination, and no that isn’t a severed leg – it’s a boot. The horses know how to procrastinate! As I near a deadline, or when I’m working on edits, panic tends to set in. I procrastinate less and also clean the house less.

When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice?

I glug copious amounts of tea and coffee and try to avoid snacks when writing. If I started snacking, I’d never stop, and Writers’ Arse is already a worry. At least the drinks force me to get out of my chair and go to the loo every now and then. I also try to stay off the gin and the wine while I’m writing 🙂

And how do you celebrate the completion of the book (you winning against procrastination)?

I’m another one who thinks a finished book deserves champagne. When I finished book 2, I thought I saw a cheap bottle of nice champagne whilst doing an online supermarket shop, so I ordered it. When it turned up, I realised it was cheap because it was 25cl – not even a decent-sized glass. That was a very bad moment.

The picture at the top of this post is me at my book launch necking the booze while my agent does the hard work!

Books, animals and champagne – sounds perfect to me! 

A huge thank you to Roz for letting me grill her about her writing habits and procrastination pitfalls.

THE DEVIL’S DICE is out now. Find out more over on Amazon by clicking on the book cover below: