#CrimeWritersInCafesProcrastinating – debut author Margaret Kirk reveals her procrastination habits! @HighlandWriter

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Today debut crime writer Margaret Kirk 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.

Ready for a grilling about her procrastination habits is Margaret Kirk whose debut crime novel – SHADOW MAN – is out now.

Welcome Margaret! Tell me a bit about SHADOW MAN…

Shadow Man, my debut novel, is a police procedural set in Inverness and the Highlands. The winner of the Good Housekeeping First Novel competition in 2016, it introduces Lukas Mahler, a half-Scots, half-German ex-Met DI, and is the first in a planned series.

How long did it take to write?

Well, when I won the competition (June 2016) I really only had about 25,000 decent words written. I then had a bit of a scramble to get it finished and sent off to Orion, which took another six months. Not too bad, considering I was in a state of shock for at least a month after finding out I’d won!

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

I have a lovely writing shed (dubbed ‘The Murder Room’) in our garden, where I should theoretically be able to shut out the world and get writing. But I’ve also got two demanding cats who wander in and out, and a really comfy day bed in there, so…

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

I plan quite carefully. I set up a word document called ‘Chapter Plan’ and do a one or two-sentence synopsis for each chapter, which I then add to/amend as I go. And I always write the synopsis for the book first – it really concentrates the mind and shows me where the book is going. And it alerts me to any potential plot holes I need to look out for.

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 in the middle. There’s a lot of momentum that carries me through the first third, then as the plot becomes more complex, I start fretting about whether I’m going in the right direction etc. I gradually feel my way through and start gathering speed again for the finale!

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

I think edits, really, because there’s that sense that you’re working with what you have to make something better, and that’s always easier than pulling words out of thin air and sticking them down on a page. The shape of what the book should be starts to feel a little closer at the edits stage.

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

Cat-cuddling. Finding a new must-read series and absolutely bingeing on it, telling myself it’s all in the name of research. Sort of…and afternoon tea is a huge favourite!

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

Coffee and chocolate – basically, I run on caffeine. But in an attempt to combat the onset of writers’ posterior, I try to severely limit the chocolate, and make sure I get at least 30 minutes’ exercise every day. Honest…

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

…is celebrated either with Prosecco or a nice Scottish gin (Shetland Reel or Rock Rose) and Fevertree tonic. Cheers!

Huge thanks to Margaret for letting me quiz her about all things procrastination.

Be sure to check out her debut novel – SHADOW MAN. And keep up to date with all her news via social media at: 

Facebook: Margaret Kirk Author    Twitter:     https://twitter.com/HighlandWriter

Click on the book cover below to view SHADOW MAN on Amazon UK…

CTG’s #bookcrush – Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall

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My fabulous book crush this week is Three Little Lies by Sunday Times bestselling author Laura Marshall.

I was drawn to this cover because it’s so stand-out striking – the stark white jacket, the wisps of smoke leading to an abstract impression of a woman’s face, the red-as-blood title. I loved Laura Marshall’s debut – Friend Request – and am itching to read this!

Because behind the eye catching cover is a twisty, unsettling thriller.

Here’s the blurb:

“There’s no such thing as a little lie… When Sasha North comes into Ellen’s life, Ellen falls under her spell. As Ellen is welcomed into Sasha’s family, she doesn’t see the darkness that lies beneath their bohemian lifestyle. Not until a brutal attack changes all their lives forever. Ten years later, Ellen and Sasha share a flat in London, still bound together by that night. When Sasha disappears, Ellen fears the worst. The police won’t take her seriously, but the events of the past give Ellen good reason to be frightened. What really happened that night? Who is telling the whole truth? These are the questions Ellen must confront when searching for her friend. But someone knows Ellen is looking. And they don’t want the answers coming out…”

I can’t wait to start reading!

If you like the sound of Three Little Lies you can find out more on Amazon HERE.

 

CTG’s #threewordbookreview – Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds

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Today’s three word ‘micro’ book review features the latest in the wonderful Charlie Yates  series – COLD DESERT SKY by Rod Reynolds.

Here’s what the blurb says: “Late 1946 and Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie have returned to Los Angeles, trying to stay anonymous in the City of Angels. But when Yates, back in his old job at the Pacific Journal, becomes obsessed by the disappearance of two aspiring Hollywood starlets, he finds it leads him right back to his worse fear: legendary mob boss Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, a man he once crossed, and whose shadow he can’t shake.”

My verdict: PAGE-TURNING. ATMOSPHERIC. NOIR.

This is one of my favourite thriller series and Cold Desert Sky is a fantastic read – perfect for fans of all things crime thriller and American noir.

Cold Desert Sky is out now from Faber. To find out more and buy the book click the cover below and hop over to Amazon:

#CrimeWritersInCafesProcrastinating – @Anne_Coates1 reveals her procrastination habits

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Today crime writer Anne Coates 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.

Ready for a grilling about her procrastination habits is Anne Coates whose latest crime novel – SONGS OF INNOCENCE – is out now.

Welcome Anne! So tell me all about your latest book – Songs of Innocence?

What a marvelous opportunity to procrastinate by answering your questions, Steph! Songs of Innocence is the third book in the Hannah Weybridge series. Still recovering from the traumatic events of Death’s Silent Judgement (book two), Hannah, a freelance journalist, is asked to help investigate the death of a teenage Asian girl found drowned in Peckham Pond by her family. The police think it’s suicide; her aunt is convinced it is murder. Hannah’s enquiries reveal a trend of Asian girls missing school, or disappearing altogether and someone is determined she will not expose the reason why.

How long did Songs of Innocence take to write?

I started more or less as soon as I’d submitted the second book to my publisher and it took about eight months to write. I remember being on holiday when Matthew Smith, the publishing director of Urbane Publications, contacted me about publishing book three and what was the title? All the books’ titles are linked to a poet or poem I love. I dithered over book three but Blake was my inspiration and so I borrowed part of his own title and a poem I love within it. My deadline was four months away.

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

People who manage to write in cafés and bars intrigue me. How do they manage to stop people watching and eavesdropping long enough to actually get words onto the screen? Mind you I keep promising myself I’ll go and work in my local with a glass of wine for inspiration! Mainly I work from home although I have been known to write on the bus, especially if I see someone whose characteristics or way of talking I could use for a character. My powers for procrastination are legendary. Unlike some who have to clean the house/rearrange their working space or whatever, I am able to sit and watch the dust accumulate while I look out of a window for inspiration. When I get stuck on something I find changing my writing location helps so I tend to move around the house. However I have three cats who all compete with my laptop for a place to nestle and stroking a feline is very therapeutic.

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

Frequently when I get stuck on a plot problem, I wish I were more of a planner. However I “jump straight in” but rarely is the first chapter I write the one which appears at the beginning of the finished novel. For my current WIP, the beginning changed several times before I found my way into the story. In Songs I had a very tight time-frame for the narrative which helped with the plotting as all the action takes place in May 1994 and I used some real events to keep a check on the narrative path. Even so I don’t write chronologically so I have to write loads of notes to remind myself of what is happening and what should go before and after.

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 equally across all three. At the beginning I spend a lot of time thinking about the plot and characters – this involves pruning the roses, weeding, filing my nails, making cups of coffee, anything rather that actually putting words onto paper. Cups of cold coffee and uneaten snacks indicate when the writing is going well. Towards the end of the first draft I may slow down to postpone the exquisite agony of knowing that I will have to begin rewriting and sorting out plot holes.

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

The relief of a finished first draft is second to none. Then at least I have something to work with and on. I do two or three drafts before I start editing and I print out each time to give myself a physical feeling for the MS. I love the last draft/edit as that’s usually when I change the ending for something more extreme. As I don’t plot and plan, characters lead me on sometimes into unknown territory. The finale is often a shock to me – and, I hope, for the reader.

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

Research – pause to polish halo – can lead a writer up and down all manner of highways and byways. Although I prefer to get a first draft written and worry about fact checking and so on at a later stage, I find looking up something or Googling a location can be all it needs to spur me on. I sometimes read reams about a subject and then only a tiny element makes it into the book. Of course, social media (which is how I happened to read about your new series, Steph in the middle of draft one of book four!) can be a huge distraction as can getting immersed in a novel.

Ah yes, very true – social media is a great distraction!

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

I love coffee but, as an insomniac, I avoid it after lunchtime. Then I drink water until it’s an acceptable time to have a G&T or a glass of wine. I’m a terrible snacker and how immersed in my writing I am dictates how healthily I eat. I try to make sure plenty of fruit and nuts are available but sometimes only chocolate will do.

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

The finished book always takes me by surprise somehow. It’s fabulous to see and touch but often it’s the reaction of my daughter and friends that gives it credence. The official launch party of Songs of Innocence was a few days after publication so on publication day we went to a local pub which features in the book and celebrated with Prosecco.

Huge thanks to Anne for being great fun and letting me quiz her about all things procrastination.

Be sure to check out her latest book – SONGS OF INNOCENCE.

Click on the book cover below to view it on Amazon UK…

CTG’s #bookcrush – The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes

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My lovely book crush this week is The Murder of Harriet Monckton by award winning, bestselling author Elizabeth Haynes.

I was immediately attracted to this cover – the statue of a young woman, the creeping ivy twisting around her, and the handwriting hinting at secret notes and lives. I picked it up, read the back and I was hooked!

Because behind the gorgeously intriguing cover lies a Victorian crime novel based on the true story of an unsolved murder.

Here’s the blurb:

“On 7th November 1943 a young woman is found poisoned behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent. Drawing on the original coroner’s reports and true witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet Monckton’s final days through the eyes of those closest to her: her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, and her former landlord and lover. All are suspects. Each has a reason to want her dead.”

 I can’t wait to start reading!

If you like the sound of The Murder of Harriet Monckton you can find out more on Amazon HERE.

CTG’s #threewordbookreview – The Killing Habit by Mark Billingham

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Today’s three word ‘micro’ book review features the latest in the brilliant Tom Thorne  series – THE KILLING HABIT – by Mark Billingham.

Here’s what the blurb says: “We all know the signs: cruelty, lack of empathy, the killing of animals. Now pets on suburban London streets are being stalked by a shadow, and it could just be the start. DI Tom Thorne knows the psychological profile of such offenders all too well, so when he is tasked with catching this notorious killer of domestic cats, he sees the chance to stop a series of homicides before they happen. Others are less convinced, so once more, Thorne relies on DI Nicola Tanner to help him solve the case before the culprit starts hunting people. It’s a journey that brings them face to face with a killer who will tear their lives apart.”

My verdict: TENSE. GRITTY. PROCEDURAL.

This is one of my favourite crime series and this book is another cracker – an essential read for fans of crime fiction and police procedurals.

The Killing Habit is out now from Sphere. To find out more and buy the book click the cover below and hop over to Amazon:

BARGAIN ALERT: DEEP DOWN DEAD 99c and DEEP BLUE TROUBLE 99p on #Kindle now!

If you’re looking for a new read, two of my Lori Anderson bounty hunter thrillers are 99p/99c on Amazon Kindle until the end of the month, and they’d make great fast-paced beach reads for your summer holidays.

IF YOU’RE IN THE US and CANADA:

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DEEP DOWN DEAD: Book 1 in the Lori Anderson bounty hunter thriller series is available on Kindle in the US & Canada for the bargain price of 99c until the end of June.

A finalist for the eDunnit ebook of the Year award, Dead Good Reader Choice Most Fearless Female Character award, and a nominee for the ITW Best First Book Award at Thrillerfest next month – it’s a fast-paced, high octane thriller perfect for fans of Lee Child, Zoe Sharp and Alexandra Sokoloff. Find out more on Amazon by clicking here: DEEP DOWN DEAD

IF YOU’RE IN THE UK:

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DEEP BLUE TROUBLE: Book 2 in the Lori Anderson thriller series sees single mom bounty hunter, Lori, return to take an off-the-books job from FBI Special Agent Monroe to track down an escaped convict heading for Mexico. Full of action and suspense, Deep Blue Trouble has been getting fabulous reviews from readers, reviewers and bloggers in the UK and beyond.

Perfect for fans of Mason Cross, Lee Child, and Zoe Sharp, you can grab it now in the UK Kindle store for just 99p until the end of June. Find out more on Amazon UK by clicking here: DEEP BLUE TROUBLE