Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Writing Crossover Fiction

I have been listening to a lot of podcsts recently about both writing and marketing. A recurring theme is to understand your audience and write for them. Now to a great extent this is true, although some people may like multiple genres. When marketing your books this also holds true. 

Regular readers of this blog will know I write crime books. These are realistic and therefore deal with the seedier underbelly of Scotland. They pull no punches when it comes to description. The descriptions of the city are both real and factionalized. In other words they are as authentic as I can make them. 

Long before I heard this advice I had decided my target market was anyone who read crime books. Many people on here will know I am a Christian. Many Christian authors will only write for a Christian Market. My books are not Christian and contain no Christian themes. They have been written for the secular market. However, they have been written in a way which means they can be read by anyone. There is a fine dividing line when writing crossover crime fiction. The books need to be gritty and absorbing, whilst avoiding themes such as sex, or containing too many swear words. I feel I have managed the balance in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries.


Many people have asked me how I have managed to write a book about the police and criminals with no swear words. Especially since my books are definitely not cozy crime. I have made this issue a part of the books. Shona is totally against swearing and this is a recurring, if minor, theme. It leads to some comedic scenes and many readers have said they like this aspect of the book. It is also fun to write. 

That' sit for another week bookaholics. If you want to take a look at the books then you can do so by clicking on the links on the right. See you all back here soon. Until then, grab a good book and keep reading 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Shape of Books to Come

After all the high of publishing book two I am in the process of finishing off the first draft of my next book. Funnily enough it is number three in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. This has got me thinking of how we, as authors, shape our books. How do they come about. Well I can only speak for myself but this is how it goes for me.

To start with it is a bit like God in Genesis. Nothing exists. Not even a thought of what this could be about. Panic may set in. Then a few gentle tendrils of thoughts start to wind around the authors brain. These seem almost formless, like spectres, but slowly start to take shape and become more solid. After days, weeks or months there are enough of these to form a solid lump, like the clay in the image  above.

In writing the first draft the author makes this shapeless lump grow larger every day. It also starts to take on a loose shape. Something which is roughly recognisable and yet isn't.

Then comes the hard work. The part which makes the finished manuscript the beautiful finally displayed product at the end. This is the editing. The writer goes over and over the manuscript and the book becomes more recognisable each time. Finally the finished product will emerge and is ready to be baked (printed)  and put on display.

Whilst I am writing one book I often find myself thinking about ideas for the next book. I jot these down and by the time I come to write the book I have enough there to build on. I also have ideas for another series and am jotting things down about the next protagonist. My mind never seems to stop. 

This may seem simplistic but it is true. The feeling of forming, shaping and moulding a manuscript into a fully formed book is like no other. It is exciting at the start, it is hard work in the middle, and a mixture of relief and pure joy at the end. Being a writer is a heady experience. It is not all highs, but the moments of excitement and joy far outstrip the ones where you don't think you can write another word. I, and I am sure most other writers, think it is the best job in the world. 

Another writing blog my Bookaholic friends. However, I am reading an excellent book by Lin Anderson at the moment. I will be back soon with a review. Until then keep reading and writing. 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Interview with Children's Writer Joey Paul

Today on the blog we welcome Children's Writer, Joey Paul. Today is the cover reveal for Joey's new book Dying Thoughts - Fourth Week. It is a pleasure to have you Joey. Thank you for answering the questions.

I am sure the readers would love to hear about you. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Thanks Wendy. I’m 33, I live in the UK and I’m disabled. I’ve been writing since I was about thirteen, but stopped for a while and picked it up again when I was 19. I was first published at 22, and then at 28, I turned to indie publishing and released another story as an ebook. I love to write, love to read, and live with my best friend and her 10 year old daughter. I’m chronically ill with several medical conditions and use a wheelchair 90% of the time. I do love to get out and about and grab geocaches though, which is basically using expensive satellites to find Tupperware in the strangest of places!

You came to writing via a bit of a different route. What gave you the impetus to change careers to become a writer?
I'd always imagined that I'd become a doctor. From the age of five, I remember telling my parents that was what I was going to do. Obviously it didn’t work out! I went from school to college and lasted a term before my lung condition caused me to drop out. I decided that I would skip the learning and go straight into the working world. I got a proper job and worked in various positions before being hired at what would turn out to be my last traditional job. I worked there for about five months before I become sick with M.E and Fibromyalgia. I ended up going on long term sick and by the time I turned 19, I was medically retired. At the same time, I had to move back home because I couldn’t afford rent, and then went from there to live with a friend who’s parents would accept housing benefit. I was crushed at not being able to work, while also trying to juggle three chronic conditions. In the end, I decided that if I was going to be at home all the time, I was going to do something with my day. So, I grabbed a “book” I had written at thirteen, and tore it to pieces. I rewrote it several times and finally declared it finished. I then went on to write what would become my debut novel – Blackout – and was finished in ten days. The next book followed and it’s been like that ever since.

I know you’re a prolific writer. Can you give us a flavour of the books you have written?
I generally write in the young adult crime and mystery genre. I have seven books published, with my eighth coming up in a few weeks. Three of the books are part of a series, of which the next book will be the fourth. These also fall into the paranormal genre too. I’ve also written a general fiction young adult, a contemporary romance and two other crime and mystery books. They're usually all in the first person, or switching points of view, though one is third person. I like to tell the story from that angle so that the readers can see the world from the protagonist’s eyes.

I also have four other books completed, which will be released at the rate of one a year – which is my usual way – and I’m currently working on two more.

Are you able to tell us a bit about your next book without giving too much away?
My next book is the fourth in the Dying Thoughts series. They follow the life of Tara, who has a gift. She’s able to see the last moments of someone’s life when she touches something that belonged to them. She works as an informant with a local Detective Inspector, using her gift to provide him with clues as to who killed who and what evidence could be used to help catch them. She’s also solved a string of murders which everyone thought were deaths from natural causes. In this book, she’s faced with the possibility of not being able to save the person she’s closest to – her best friend, Kaolin. It’s a bit of an up and down story, and it allows for Tara to find new ways to use her gift.

Where do you get the inspiration for the books?

To be honest with you, life! I see things in my life that would make a good story. I see things in my friends and family’s lives that would make a good twist. I also have a very overactive imagination and it’s nice to be able to put it to some good use! I’ve always been a lover of crime books, and so writing my own seemed to make the most sense as it was something I am passionate about and find very interesting.

What draws you to writing YA Books?
I’ve been asked this before, and to be honest I don’t fully know. I think part of it is that when I wrote that first “book” – all 36 pages of it! I was a young adult reader. When I tore it apart and rewrote it, I was still technically a young adult reader. As time has gone past and I’ve grown older, I still find myself happier when I’m writing young adult. I don’t know if it’s because as an adult I have been fairly isolated because of my disability, and haven’t, therefore experienced as much “adult” life, or if it’s just because I'm comfortable in the young adult area now.

When you are not writing what types of books do you read? What would you say was the best book you have ever read?
I read books from a wide variety of authors. I’ll read crime, mystery, romance, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy and more. Though my to-go genre in writing is crime and mystery, I do enjoy reading it a lot. It’s been the same way throughout my life. I still have young adult books on my goodreads 'to be read' list and I'll continue to dip in and out of genres. Now, if I had to pick just one book that was the best I’d ever read? That’s hard. I love the alphabet series by Sue Grafton, I love everything Harlan Coben has every written. I love Sophie Kinsella, Kathy Reichs, Karin Slaughter and the list goes on and on! Those are only the mainstream names, I have a fair few indie authors I also love, Jana Petken, Brenda Perlin, Lindy Spencer, yourself, Jalpa Williby and Jan Raymond to name a few of those! I can’t just pick one!

Who would you say was your favourite character in any book you have read?

Now, this is slightly easier, I love Kinsey Millhone from the alphabet series by Sue Grafton. She’s just what I want to be when I grow up (though some would argue I already have!)

What is a writing day like for you?

A normal writing day for me begins in one of two settings. I'll either be in my office and therefore writing at my computer, or using my tablet and writing in bed or somewhere like a coffee shop. I spend the morning catching up on email, blog posts and any other admin duties and then focus on whichever book I’m working on that day. I write a chapter or two, before switching and writing two chapters of the other book. Some days I get four chapters done (though it’s rare!) and other days I barely get a page written. It really just does depend on my pain levels, my energy level and how much I’m inspired to continue the story.

If you could travel to any three countries in the world where would you go?
The Maldives, Australia and the USA.

Why these countries?

The Maldives, because when I started writing at thirteen, it was where I planned to go to spend my money from the book sales (never happened, but boy can I dream big!)

Australia, because it’s so far away, I have friends there I have never met and probably never will and it’s just something I would love to experience.

The USA, because while I’ve been before, there are other places I’d love to see, like Hawaii and more friends to visit!

If you ever have a day off from writing exciting books what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to go out geocaching! I try to do that at least twice a week, but I can’t go alone so I have to wait for when both B and I have a spare day or two. I recently went on an overnight stay away from home and we went on a long walk (I trundled in my chair!) and found a fair few geocaches. It was awesome!

Now that we are all excited about your next novel, when will it be available to buy?

The pre-order link for the ebook will be up on the 14th August and my hope is to release it at the end of August!

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Dark Night of the Shed by Nick Page

Bookaholics, I bring you a different, but well worth reading, Christian book today.

This is essentially a book for men, but as a woman I enjoyed it immensely. It is an engrossing book which, surprisingly for non-fiction, had me wanting to read just one more chapter. I read the book quickly through once, but I intend to return to it and savor it more deeply. The book uses a shed as a metaphor for our life. This is not something which would immediately spring to mind as a perfect pairing. Yet Page makes it work. The book starts by outlining a myriad of fascinating facts about sheds. And I do mean fascinating. It also talks about famous writers, or artists, who used sheds. In many of the cases I had no idea.

Once the scene is set, Nick moves onto the more serious purpose of the book. He talks about depression and the many reasons why men may have a mid life crisis. This is linked to low self esteem and the ways in which men try to overcome this. However, none of these bring true happiness or deal with the root cause of why they feel this way. He talks about the old Gods and what their modern equivalent would be. Men use these to prop up flagging self esteem, rather than turning to the one true God.

The book is packed full of wisdom and biblical insight. This could have been a dry treatise but Page has avoided this. The book is not only helpful and biblically sound, but also funny and interesting. The author has a quick wit and this has been used to good effect. There are laugh out loud moments and yet the book is sound, both in a psychological and a spiritual sense.

Each chapter of the book is based around the rebuilding of the shed in Page's garden. This may seem a strange way to structure a book, but it is beautifully executed and it works. At the conclusion of the book there are seven exercises. These are designed to move you forward spiritually and psychologically. This is not a psychology book but is written to help men once more find purpose in their life. As such I would say it works.

Overall this is an excellent book. As I say it is primarily aimed at men, but there is much in its pages which is useful for women. I would not hesitate to highly recommend this.

I was given an advanced review copy of this book, by the publisher, for review purposes. At no point was I asked to provide a favorable review. My rating and review are based on my reading, and enjoyment, of the book.

See you all back here soon my bookaholic friends. Until then, keep reading.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

That Heady Feeling - Hitting the Bestseller Charts

Good morning bookaholics. It's a bit dreich in Dundee today. For the non scots this means it's grey and miserable. However, I don't feel dreich at all. In fact I feel decidedly sunny and happy. Let me explain.

Yesterday I popped into Waterstones to pick up a book I had ordered for Freya. It was a good day in Dundee. The sun was shining and there was a cycle event happening so the city was busy. What happened in Waterstones changed it from a good day to a fabulous day. Firstly, the manager of Waterstones introduced me to local author Mark Leggatt. 

The manager, Kevin, then said, "Wendy is also a local author, of the book behind you." 

He pointed to the shelf and that is when my day exploded from good to glorious technicolour brilliance. Killer's Craft was at number 3 in the book charts. In fact is was just behind 'Go Set a Watchman' and 'The Girl on the Train.' I never in my wildest dreams imagined that would happen. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world. As a lifelong reader, and now a writer, this was indeed heady stuff.

I got chatting to Mark and then Crime Blogger, Lynsey Adams arrived. If you haven't read Lynsey's excellent There's Been a Murder blog, then check it out now. 

I am sure you will agree this was a superb day for me as an author. Forgive me my moment of excitement. I will be back to reviewing books next time. 

If you would like to check out both Killer's Craft and Killer's Countdown, you can do so through the images on the right or via the universal link below. This will take you to the Amazon of your country.

Or if you wan tot check out Mark's book Names of the Dead

I will see all of you bookaholics back here soon. Until then, keep reading. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Review: How to Make a Living with Your Writing by Joanna Penn

Not a blog for ages, then a veritable host of them come along at once. If you are a writer then you will understand why I couldn't wait to share this review.

I read a lot of books about business and marketing, with a particular emphasis on writing. This is one of the best, and most clearly written, I have come across. Joanna Penn is a professional and experienced writer, and this comes across in every word. She starts the book by explaining how to get into the entrepreneur mindset. This is important as many writer think of themselves just as writers. They forget they are also running a business. Whilst writers are providing pleasure, they also need to make money in the process if they want to make a living as a writer. She also links this to having a can do attitude.

One of the things I like about the book is that she talks about multiple income streams. This means not just having ebooks, but also paperbacks and audio books. She believes that with mobile use expanding internationally audio books will become increasingly more important. However, Penn also talks about other ways in which you can make money as a writer.

One of the ways in which she suggests that income can increase is in becoming more organised.  Prioritise writing, which will lead to becoming more prolific. The more books a writer has written, the more they will sell. This is wise advice, and yet many writers seem to forget this.

This is just a flavour of what this book contains. It is so much more than what is contained in my review.. It is a book you will want to read through quickly first, and then refer to regularly. It provides inspiration and motivation in equal measure. This is the first of Penn's books I have read but I will be reading more in the near future.

I will be back soon my bookaholics friends. If you are writer then grab this book now and read it. You will not regret it. 

Monday, 3 August 2015


Sorry about the long gap since I last posted. I have been knee deep in new releases. After the excitement of launching Killer's Craft, I am now well in to writing book three in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. This has involved a lot of research especially forensic research. I have therefore been reading many books on Forensics. One of the best out there is Val McDermid's, Firensics: The Anatomy of a Crime.

This book gives a thorough overview of every area of forensics. It manages to provide good detail without going into so much depth it cannot be read or understood. It is a fascinating book. This could be a dry book but the way it is linked to real life cases makes it interesting. I was reading it for research but this book could be read by anyone and still be enjoyed. Val McDermid is a professional, and highly talented, author. This is evident in every page of this book. She has obviously done a great deal of research and the book is realistic. All aspects are backed by the top pathologists of current and previous generations. I loved the historical context as well. The ways in which forensics has grown and developed is fascinating. This is a well written and enjoyable book which I would highly recommend. 

That's it for now bookaholics. I promise not to leave it s long before I post again. See you all back here soon.