YOU DIE NEXT: £1.99 Kindle pre-order! #crimefiction

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I’m so excited! My new thriller written under pen name Stephanie Marland hits the shops next month and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world.

Also, if you’re a Kindle reader, you can pre-order it now at the discount price of £1.99 – and that way it’ll be delivered onto your kindle at 12.01am on the 4th of April.

I had so much fun researching this book – finding lots of hidden spots around London to use as locations for scenes – and I’ll be posting about them over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, here’s the blurb:

“YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE… A group of urban explorers stumble into a murderer’s kill room in a derelict film studio. Terrified, they run, thinking they are safe. Then a message appears on their video channel: Who dies next?

As DI Dominic Bell and his team investigate the series of murders in hidden locations across London, they fail to find the connection between the victims. The only person who can help is Clementine Starke, an academic researching adult thrillseekers. However, Clementine is haunted by dark and violent obsessions, including her former relationship with DI Dominic Bell.

As the body count rises, Clementine Starke and DI Dominic Bell form an uneasy alliance to hunt the killer. But as they close in on their prey, and things turn personal, Clementine has to decide which side of the law she’s really on.

A cat-and-mouse thriller for fans of Mark Billingham, Sarah Hilary and Rachel Abbott that unfolds in a number of terrifying hidden locations across London. Readers who enjoyed Thomas Harris’s Hannibal series will be thrilled by the deadly relationship between DI Dominic Bell and Clementine Starke.”

Sound like your sort of book?

Grab it on pre-order at Amazon UK by clicking on the book cover below:

I hope you enjoy it!

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

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#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 – @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: