Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Observation for Writers - Travel part 2

In the past few weeks I've travelled a long way, and to many different places, for both business and pleasure. This has been a lot of fun, but has also been monotonous and quite stressful at times. Today I am on my way home. My trip this morning started on a bus. Standing on a bus, with a suitcase, another bag and my rucksack. As this was at 7.30am it was rush hour. Now given the time of day the bus itself was not busy. However, what should have been a ten minute journey took 35 minutes due to the sheer volume of traffic. I read a few days ago that traffic in London is so dense that modern vehicles move more slowly than a horse and cart. I can well believe it.

The next part of my journey involved the tube from North Greenwich to Baker Street and then the Metropolitan Line to Kings Cross. Sorted. Well you'd think so, but no. They had shut the circle and district line which meant that the Metropolitan Line would be heaving. I duly got out at London Bridge and took a taxi for the rest of the journey. The taxi driver was lovely, but the traffic was crucifying. I was rapidly wishing the horse and carts were back on the streets.

So why am I telling you this, and what does it have to do with London? Firstly, this gave me a lot of time to observe my surroundings. it also gave me a lot of time to observe people. I also had an epiphany. Often, in my genre of Crime, there may be a high speed chase or two in the books. In most cities, depending on the time of day, this would be impossible. A brisk walk would be more appropriate, and much faster. Also, if someone is being tailed then a tube station in the rush hour would be impossible. Oxford Circus at rush hour, forget it.

I appreciate I am concentrating on London here but I am sure many other large cities are the same. During the rush hour, The Kingsway, a dual carriageway that goes through Dundee, is a car park. No one is escaping. Buses are packed and move at a crawl.

In conclusion, traffic conditions are something we writers should be thinking about when writing scenes in our books. I hope this has helped you think in a different way.

You can get your free ebook, DI Shona McKenzie's Guide to Killing Your Boss, from my website

If you would like some help to boost your book sales, Power Packed Book Marketing is available via the link on the right side of the page.

All other books in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries are available via the links on the right side of the page

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Observations for Effective Writing

Today in the Authors Electric blog I am talking about how travelling can enrich you writing. I would like to take this a bit further in this blog. For the writers my hope is that it will help you. For the readers I hope you enjoy the insight into how writers find their inspiration. 

As I say, this blog gas arisen from a blog about travelling and writing. It is said that when travelling solo you are more likely to notice things and I have found this to be spot on. I have seen so many fascinating things and people on my travels. Children in particular, are an endless source of delight and fascination. 

Lets unpack what we see in the images above. Well the image of the little girls anyway. What can a writer get from this. Firstly, the girls look happy. I think they look mischievous. It immediately gets me thinking about what they have done. Or could it be they have never seen a camera before and are enjoying their moment of fame. Are they shy? Has the photographer got them laughing? The girl on the right looks more confident than the one on the left. Why is that? Are their backgrounds so different? Why is the girl on the left wearing a scarf? Is she Muslim? Is she cold? Are the girls friends? Are they sisters? All these questions come to mind and can be used in writing.

The picture does not only bring questions to mind. There are also a number of things that can be observed and used in books. The tilt of the girls head as she laughs. The way her hand is rising to cover her mouth. Her hair falling over one eye. The short hair of he girl on the right. Is it a girl or is it a feminine boy? The way their eyes crinkle and shine. The whiteness of their teeth. The way the girl in the scarf is leaning forward slightly. The confident stance of the other child. There is so much that a writer can get from one small snapshot.

The important part of this is that it can help a writer 

I have a challenge and en exercise for you. What else can you get from the picture on the left? Please let me know in the comments below. That is the challenge.

The exercise is for you too do a similar deconstruction of the photo on the right. Please comment on whether you found the exercise useful.

Finally remember to pay close attention to everything and everyone you see. You never know when this might come in useful.

If you like crime thrillers then take a look at the best selling DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. The fifth book in the series, Killer's Crew will be released on 10th November. 

If you would like a free DI Shona Mckenzie Book take a few seconds and pop over to my website

About the Author

Wendy H. Jones is the author of the Best Selling DI Shona Mckenzie Mysteries. The Dagger's Curse is the first book in her Young Adult Series, The Fergus and Flora Mysteries. She has also written one non fiction book - Power Packed Book Marketing: Sell More Books. You can find out more on her amazon author page 

Monday, 10 October 2016

Branding Your Book Covers

There is a lot of advice out there when it comes to author branding. Most exhort authors to ensure they have a brand that is recognisably them. Branding includes a number of areas such as author name, genre, book titles, and also, crucially, covers.

The cover above is for my forthcoming release, Killer's Crew. This is the fifth book in the DI Shona Mckenzie Mysteries. All my books have a similar layout. The bottom part of the cover is an image from Dundee where the books are set. The top half is an image which portrays something which happens in the book. The titles all have Killer's in them and there is always blood dripping from the writing.

The books are instantly recognisable as crime books. They have the Wendy H. Jones factor. Readers instantly know this is one of my books.  Anyone in the know would recognise them as having something to do with Dundee. The name of the detective Shona McKenzie certainly sets them out as having something to do with Scotland. 

Each book is a different colour so they stand out from each other. However, together they are branded as being part of the same series. They certainly stand out on the shelf. The covers for Killer's Countdown, Killer's Craft, Killer's Cross and Killer's Cut are below.


I am sure you will agree the cover designer has got the branding spot on. Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics  is an outstanding designer who takes great care to ensure that the covers meet the needs of her clients. In this series she has excelled herself. 

One thing I will say about the covers. There is an argument that you should not put the book numbers on the cover as human nature means people think they should be read in order. However, readers like to know the number of the book in the series so I went with the readers views in this case. They are stand alone books and can be read in any order. 

It is worth taking time to ensure that your branding reflects both your books and who you are. Well maybe not who I am unless I am a despotic serial killer. But you get my drift.

I have one more cover to present to you. This is for my free book DI Shona Mckenzie's Guide to Killing Your Boss. This is available form my website Shona is feisty, funny, sharp and dedicated. She also has the boss from hell. For the first time she shares her secrets of how you can bump him off. This book also doubles as ideas for deaths in your crime book so a double whammy. 

If you would like to find out more about the books you can do so on my website or on my Amazon author page 



Saturday, 8 October 2016

How Travelling Can Enrich Your Writing

I've been flying around the world recently as well as chasing around the UK. Life as a writer is so busy and often I think that I don't have time for any of this. It's getting in the way of me actually doing any writing. But on a number of occasions I have discovered that travelling can also broaden and enrich my abilities as a writer.

This morning I was on my way to The British Library. To get from where I was staying I had to change from the rail network to the London Underground. As Tower Bridge Station is undergoing renovation there is a long walk to get to the underground station. At a number of places along the route there are staff members guiding travellers in the right direction. Now this seems, to me, to be quintessentially British. It's like the tube are saying we have inconvenienced you but not that much because we are helping your commute to go well.

One of these staff members took it one step further. In fact I think they took it a whole heap further. He was saying, "It's Friday. leave work 15 minutes early. Relax, start your weekend well, go for a drink and take it easy."

Now how cool is that? It was sad that most of the commuters were paying him no notice. They were doing what they always do and putting one foot in front of the other. Content only on getting to work they were unaware of what was happening around them. As I had no clue what I was doing I was taking everything in. I was able to notice the kindness of one stranger who was doing his best to make life more pleasant for commuters in the Capital.

How much do I often miss by not taking in my surroundings. As a writer I should be inquisitive and looking around. Looking for nuggets which could shape scenes, settings or characters. This has taught me a valuable lesson and I will certainly be paying more attention in the future.

My exhortation to you today is to do the same. Look around you, take stock and really take life in. Don't let it pass you by.

Wendy H. Jones is the author of the best selling DI Shona McKenzie Mystery series of crime novels set in Dundee. The Dagger's Curse, the first book in her Fergus and Flora, Young Adult Mystery series was released on 10th September, 2016. She also has one non fiction book, Power Packed Book Marketing: Sell More Books. You can find out more on her:


Amazon Author Page

Friday, 7 October 2016

Inspiration and Writing Environment

As writers we often spend time alone in our offices or at our desks. Perhaps for short periods, perhaps for several hours. We are introspective and live a lot of our lives inside our heads. Now I don't know about every other writer on the planet, but sometimes I feel the need to shake it up a bit. This is a good thing as I have barely been in my house since the beginning of September, let alone in my office. However, I have still been writing.

In the last few weeks I have written at airports, on planes, sitting beside the Mississippi River, in cafe's and restaurants in New Orleans, in hotel rooms, in an apartment in Butlins and on trains. It's a good job I'm an any time, any place, anywhere type of writer. If I wasn't my writing would have come to a full stop.

One thing about being in all these different places is that it gives me plenty of inspiration. I see people and hear things which can spark off all sorts of train of thought. This can lead to something quirky appearing in a book. Now before you think I'm writing people and conversations directly into my book, that is not the case. It just sets my imagination spinning. 

Today, however, I am writing in a place which gives me much more inspiration than the average. I am in The British Library. The photo at the top of the blog is my view as I write. Being surrounded by such old books gives me a sense of place. A sense of purpose. A sense of history. I am following in the footsteps of so many authors who went before me. To be in a place entirely devoted to books is writer's heaven. All around me people are writing, reading, researching and anything devoted to books. 

As an aside I deposited my book here for legal deposit. It should have been here months ago but obviously went missing in the post. To bring it in person seemed surreal. Knowing that my books are in this vast place alongside millions of others is something I can't quite take in. To know that someone can borrow my book from here is also something I cannot take in. Will they ever do so? That is something I will possibly never know but knowing they can is enough. I love being a writer and I consider it a privilege to be writing in The British Library. 

If you have not yet met DI Shona McKenzie or downloaded DI Shona Mckenzie's Guide to Killing Your Boss, then you can do so on my website 

About Wendy

Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer's Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series, followed by Killer's Craft, Killer's Cross and Killer's Cut. Her debut Young Adult Novel, The Dagger's Curse, was published on 10th September 2016.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Storyteller - World Poetry day

Today is World Poetry Day. Due to a fortuitous set of circumstances I found myself in St Pancras Station, London, at nine in the morning looking for a cup of coffee. Of course Hatchards Bookshop hollered out to me. Books and coffee in the same special place. What's not to love. I got chatting to Georgia Attlesey the Programme Manager for Poet in the City. She has an amazing set of events lined up for today. 

The first just happened to be a Poetry Storyteller event. I was introduced to the delightful Alia, from Syria, who is a professional storyteller. What an outstanding job. She asked me to give her something that I might be blocked or stuck with and then told me a story which would help with this. I told her I was a bit stuck with my current WIP. She then told and amazing story about an intellectual who wanted to become a gardner. Her tale held a nugget of wisdom or advice which would help with my problem and it did. What a talent.  If anyone comes across such storytellers today then please speak to them and get your own story. What an experience. 

She also told me that there are still professional storytellers in Syria who sit in cafe's and tell stories just like she did with me. I would seriously love to sit in a cafe and listen to such storytellers, drinking coffee and forgetting the cares of the world.

As a writer I feel I am a part of this long history of storytelling which comes from an oral tradition. It was an honour to meet Alia and to be a part of her tradition and world, if only for a brief moment. Taking time out like this has made me relax and enjoy something different. Something new and exciting.  

I was also given some limited edition cards with brief snatches of poetry. I took these away and have been looking at them off and on since. Each time I look I get something new from them. Isn't this what poetry and storytelling is all about? We each take something different from it depending on our circumstances and who we are. This is why it brings joy to so many people. 

As I finish I leave you with this - if you come across one of these events, stop and take time out of your busy life. Savour the moment and be part of something bigger. Take time to reconnect with who you are. If you are reading this blog long after World Poetry Day then find a poem, sit down with a coffee and read it, and enjoy. 

Sunday, 2 October 2016

How to Launch your Book with a Bang - and a Curse

My first young Adult book, The Dagger's Curse was launched at Waterstones Bookshop, Dundee on 10th September. Now, as I have four adult books out I was used to launches but I wanted this one to be different and ties in with the theme of the book. So how do you make a launch go with a bang.

I wanted the launch to tie in with the storyline of the book which is:

An ancient Egyptian dagger.
A hungry curse.
A city under siege.

In the dead of night the ancient dagger is stolen from the museum in Dundee. As mysterious accidents, illness and even death stalk the city, the Detective Duo, Fergus Bernstein and Flora MacDonald, follow clues that lead them into ever increasing danger. Can they find the dagger and break the curse before it’s too late?

Firstly build up the suspense, both before and during the launch. Before the day I let everyone know that there would be several surprises and that this was a launch not to be missed. The launch was on a Saturday afternoon and the place was packed. So the first thing you need to do to make your launch go with a bang is make sure there is an audience who are expectant of great things happening.

As the first part of the book takes part in Ancient Egypt I appeared in Egyptian garb. It's a good job I don't take myself too seriously as I was fighting a losing battle with my headdress which was slowly slipping off. It wasn't on too long anyway as I did a quick striptease and was in shorts and a t-shirt underneath. This tied in with one of the main characters of the book, Flora MacDonald who wears brightly coloured clothing. Second piece of advice when it comes to launching a book. Don't take yourself too seriously. 

As part of the talk I had a friend with me. Stuart Archibald runs a theatrical armoury and just happened to have the cursed dagger in his armoury. This was a fully sharpened live dagger, so police permission was required for it to be in the bookshop. I started my talk by building up the suspense about the cursed dagger being in the store. When I reached the part of the book about the curse being released he opened the steel case and the light shone out as the curse was released. Cue gasps and delighted chatter from the audience. Everyone, children and adults alike, wanted their photograph taken with the cursed dagger. Third tip for a successful book launch use as much drama and theatrical shenanigans as you can. The audience love it. 

My last tip for a successful launch is be ready to sign plenty of books. Waterstones had given me my own display with plenty of books and a book signing table. As always the staff were helpful and accommodating and I owe a great deal of thanks to them for putting up with cursed daggers in the store. 

I will finish by saying, whatever genre you write in, think of ways in which you can make your launch different. Then go for it, make it as much fun as possible and enjoy yourself. 

You can buy the books from Waterstones bookshops in the UK
You an buy signed copies of the book on my website 
Available on Amazon