Tuesday 31 December 2013

Just a little something for new year ...

Posting early this week, to wish everyone happiness and fun on New Year's Eve.

An unorthodox Santa, courtesy of Selfridges' Xmas window display
I make no secret of the fact that I'm not really into writing short fiction - too many words in my head, battling to get out. But whenever the call goes up for a little something, after the initial reluctance/panic, depending on who is asking, I do occasionally give in and have a go. And it inevitably ends up much longer than the word limit. When Leigh from Mystery People asked for three sentences of festive flash fiction the gruesome little offering below came into my head. More horror than crime, and much longer than three sentences, so no use at all for what was wanted. Even so, I thought I'd like to share it here.

A cautionary tale for everyone attending a fancy dress party tonight?

The zombie shuffled down the garden path. At this distance from the house the sounds of the party came in snatches. Music and laughter and someone singing off key. A chilly moon lit up trailing bloodstained rags and heavily shadowed eyes in a deathly pale face. And the tell-tale red glow of the illicit cigarette. 
He jumped when I stepped from behind the tree.
'Hey - didn't see you there. Wow, same costume. Yours looks great.'
Fancy dress. Don't you just love it? 
I pulled him towards me and began to eat. 

Wednesday 25 December 2013

All I want for Christmas ...


Thank you, Selfridges, those will do nicely.
 But I think I'll need a smaller size. 
I hope your day is going well, the turkey is in the oven and everyone's presents lived up to their hopes. 
I've been thinking about the sort of gifts my characters might have been wishing for. With the girls, that's easy, if I like it, they probably will. And you can't go wrong with shoes. My current objects of unreasonable desire are those produced by Charlotte Olympia. I particularly covet the pumps with the signs of the zodiac, but the cat faces are cute too, or the owls ... Judging from Selfridges Christmas window displays, I am not alone in this interest. Unfortunately, as well as being very desirable, they are also very expensive. I never do things by halves. I'm not expecting to be wearing a pair any time soon. But a couple of my new heroines might be able to treat themselves. That's the thing about being a writer, you do get to live through your characters.

As for the men - the secretive types I write about can barely admit to their own names, much let what they might want for Christmas. But actually I have the perfect present, for all of them. I'm creating the women of their dreams ...


Wednesday 18 December 2013


My publishers, Choc-lit, are helping along the Christmas spirit with twelve days of romantic Christmas flash fiction. (Chocolate is also involved, a special discount offer from the House of Dorchester.)

As I frequently complain, I have trouble with short fiction, but I've pulled out all the stops, and created a little tale with a slightly creepy opening, that takes place on Christmas Eve. Best draw a veil over the fact that at 1000 words it was originally twice the required size. I got it slimmed down in the end. The Choc-lit Facebook site promises plenty of fairy lights, tinsel and Christmas kisses. Well, actually no, my story doesn't have any of those things. As I said it's a bit creepy. But it is romantic. I'll have to leave you to judge whether it's romantic enough. It's called A Christmas Surprise, and it's a Choc lit exclusive. You have to sign up to get it. A Christmas present from us to you. Twelve Christmas presents, actually.
The instructions for signing on are below.

12 Christmas romances with discount codes for House of Dorchester Chocolates.
Simply email info@choc-lit.com with the subject heading XMAS TREAT! You can also add your Smartphone number and get a text each day telling you that your Xmas TREAT! has been sent - plus a link to read on line from your Smartphone. No ereader required.

So, drum roll, please, as my Christmas flash is up today.

A Christmas Surprise.

The nature of the crime?

The Crime Readers' Association, which is the readers' arm of the UK Crime Writers' Association, has a swish new website. A poem in monochrome and red. There's a link at the bottom of this post if you're looking for some last minute ideas for Xmas gifts. Or suggestions for something nefarious to curl up with yourself,  after the port and the turkey. The site has an A to Z of authors (including me ) which got me thinking of the many different types of crime novel there are. As many as there are authors? Whole theses could (and possibly have) been written about our interest in crime as a form of entertainment, but it's a fact the for large numbers of us, a good crime novel is the one of the best kinds. No one wants crime, especially violent crime, in their home, but we're all prepared to import it from the library and the bookshop. Clearly there's excitement in reading about it. And the CWA has member who write all sorts of genres - police procedural, historical, elegant puzzles, thrillers. Whatever you fancy, the Crime Readers' site will probably have some ideas.

Me - I'm a hybrid. (That's posh for mongrel.) For a start, my books have a romance in them, with all the attendant ups and downs.  And they are thrillers. I was thinking about what makes a thriller. I'm sure screeds have been written about that too, but for a rough and ready start point I'd say that the germ that kicks it off has to be something out of place, that has the potential to cause fear  and/or harm - that might be crime or possibly something paranormal. After that the author just has to keep you turning the pages. 'Just '- she says nonchalantly! I like the danger and excitement element - and it's also useful for keeping the romance on the boil. Staying alive and running away from the bad guys is an excellent way of keeping the hero and heroine together. But I also like the puzzle part - I'm a fan of Agatha Christie and Robert Goddard in that respect. I have to say that puzzle plotting the best way in the world to paint yourself into a corner and tear your hair out until you find a way out. But when it works ...

So that's my take - romantic suspense.

But there's a lot of other stuff out there ...


Wednesday 11 December 2013

Out of the Shadows

I talked last week about three heroines - this week it's three heroes. Ahhah, I hear you say. Now we're getting to it. This is the good stuff. Well, yes, to a point.

Problem is, I have trouble with heroes. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the kind of men I write about are a secretive bunch - comes with the sort of work they do. It takes a lot to get them out of the shadows and I have to say I've not succeeded yet with this lot. They all work for the same hush-hush intelligence organisation and are not that keen on talking about it. I just have to keep chipping away at it. I'm still not even fixed on names, but they'll have to own up to something when the books start to be written.  This is what I have so far.

They haven't arranged themselves so neatly over hair colour as the girls - I have one very dark and two kind of brown/chestnut type. They are all tall and rangy, with broad shoulder. I insist on that. It's one of my quirks.

Hero One - I'm getting a name with an 'L' so it could be Lucas or Logan - He's the one with dark hair and when the book opens it's in need of cutting. He's on the island recuperating from an assignment that went badly wrong, leaving him physically scarred and uncertain of what actually happened, although it hasn't shaken his confidence in his abilities. Self contained and aloof, he doesn't want to get dragged into whatever mystery Sarah has brought with her to the island - but of course, he can't help himself.

Alexander - Lex - his hair is long and curly. A kidnap survivor who is a bit of a mess emotionally but who is working through what happened to him.The jeans and sweater type, he does a lot of walking on the beach. And somehow finds himself drawn into Leonie's project of renovating a garden on the island. Well, he can't let her move all those rocks and barrows of soil alone, can he?

Kelvert - first name probably Tom, is the admin type. Short hair, favours suits. He's the one who keeps the back office running, nags about expenses, looks down his rather elegant nose at the others lame claims not to understand his office systems. (He's right, of course.) He loved a girl once, who broke his heart, so he's not going there again. He's not meant to be a field officer, but he has all the skills that the others have, and he's not about to let them get into trouble if he can help it. It generates too much paperwork.

So  - three very different men. Now I have to get them to play nice and work with me (and their ladies) on their stories.

Did someone mention herding cats?

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Who are you?

I've been wittering for some time about a new project - a set of three interlinked books, stand-alones which will also have an overarching story arc. They are the ones I'm 'building' my island for. At the moment it's all research - the fun bit - and planning, which is going on strictly inside my head. No danger of pen to paper. I like this bit, all supposedly work and none of the hassle of actually writing :) That day will come. It has to be fitted in around the 'day job' which is currently the half way point of production of a PhD thesis, but it will happen.

In amongst all this thinking stuff, my characters are emerging. Three books, so I have three heroines. Co-incidentally they have organised themselves into a blonde, a brunette and a red head. I'm getting insights into what makes them tick and more will emerge when I start to write, but they already have distinct personalities.

Sarah, heroine of the first book is the brunette. She has shoulder length straight black hair, cut in a heavy fringe, which sounds severe, but which suits her, and dark blue eyes. She's an orphan, so some of her issues are related to finding a place to belong. She has no information about her past, so who she is is what she has made for herself. When the book opens her life is about to change drastically - for good and bad.

Leonie is heroine number two - she's Sarah's best friend and she is the red head. Very long Titian curls, like a Pre-Raphaelite painting. She's an artist who had a rather Bohemian up-bringing - her Mum was a 60's flower child - so Leonie is close to nature but very practical and down to earth, despite looking like someone out of an Arthurian myth.  She's not above dressing the part though, if the mood takes her.

Romilly is the blonde - an actress, very self confident and talented, with an over-protective father who drives her mad on occasions. She's the nosey, curious type, never afraid to open a door to see what is behind it. She is planning to win at least two Oscars as well as a shelf full of theatre awards, so while she is a practised flirt, she has absolutely no plans to fall in love. Although there was a boy, once ...

So - those are my heroines. Of course, a heroine needs a hero, but none of my three had any plans to get involved with a guy who works for some sort of secret intelligence organisation.

But when you meet Mr Right ...

Next week - three candidates for Mr Right.

Well, maybe ...