Sunday, July 3, 2022

A New Book




My Husband's Secret is finally out in the world, in eBook at least - paperback and audiobook to follow on August 18th. That sounds so far away, but being as I've just realised it's July already, it'll come around quickly. 

Reviews so far have been great, and I hope readers enjoy this one, set in Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire, not far from Scarborough where I grew up. Though I've lived in Buckinghamshire for much longer and consider it home, my family still lives in Scarborough and I'm hoping to visit before the summer's out and take a trip to Robin Hood's Bay.

June flew past in the blink of an eye, with some lovely weather that made it stand out, and a trip to Aldeburgh with Lovely Husband, where we stayed in a characterful cottage close to the sea, visited Sutton Hoo, where the film The Dig was filmed - well worth a watch - and generally chilled out for a couple of days.


I also had gallbladder surgery, which has been on the cards for a while and I'm thankful to have got out of the way, but it meant missing my publisher's summer party, held this year in the gardens of the Victoria and Albert Museum, as I didn't feel up to a trip into London - apart from anything, I haven't been on a train in over 3 years - and standing up for a long time. Maybe next year!

My next book is almost finished, and I should be signing a contract any day - always an exciting moment. This will be my fifth psychological thriller and sixteenth book overall (including the two I wrote with Amanda Brittany) which, if anyone had told me ten years ago would be happening, I wouldn't have believed.

In other exciting news, Amanda and I have been offered a contract by Joffe Books for our next novel, and will find out soon when that's going to be published.

I always forget to mention some of the amazing books I've read and would recommend, so here are a selection I've recently enjoyed if you're looking for a good read (apart from mine of course!) I listen to a lot of audiobooks too and Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is the best I've heard in a while, the narrator did a superb job of bringing he outstanding main character Elizabeth Lott to life.



Summer is officially here, so I'll be writing in the garden whenever I can and photographing the long-suffering birds and butterflies!



Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, stay safe.

Monday, May 16, 2022

And Another book is almost ready

It's been an exciting time author-wise since my last post, as My Sister's Child achieved a bestseller banner on Amazon, something of a holy grail for authors, giving sales a further boost due to whatever algorithms are triggered (or something else technical I don't really understand!) The book has had some lovely reviews too, and feedback like that, knowing readers have been entertained and taken away from reality - in a good way - means the world and inspires me to keep writing.

On that note, I've now seen the cover of my next book My Husband's Secret, which will be out in ebook on June 30th (audio and paperback a couple of months later) and I think it's my favourite to date. The cover designer has done a great job in making it stand out, something that's vital for potential readers skimming through books online, looking for their next read, when there's so much great competition out there.


I'm now working on my next book and getting to know the characters and am excited about the story unfolding, which often ends up being just as much of a surprise to me as I hope it does to the readers.

Meanwhile co-writer Amanda Brittany and I are waiting to hear from an editor who may be interested in publishing our next book, so we're keeping everything crossed for that.

Spring is pushing towards summer now and everything in the garden is blooming. I'm trying to resist dashing out there too often and be more disciplined with my writing - not easy when my writing corner is in the lean-to conservatory overlooking the garden, but I love it here, away from the main house, where I can hear birdsong, and, occasionally a lawnmower - or, more annoyingly, a chainsaw - and I don't have far to go to put the kettle on.

We're still hoping to take a couple of days away by the sea at the beginning of June, but I tend not to make too many plans these days, never quite knowing what's around the corner, though maybe it should be the other way round - I should be making lots of plans, because you never quite know what's around the corner!

Whatever your plans are, I hope they work out for you ☺

Monday, March 7, 2022

Nearly spring


                                                              Bench at Gaynes Park Mansions Wedding Venue

March is well underway, which means spring is on its way (bit of unintentional (bad) poetry, there.) Not that the weather has realised yet, it's very cold at the moment. I went to a wedding over the weekend, my first for 30 years (apart from my own!) and how the bride coped with the outdoor photo session without turning into a block of ice is testament to the power of love (or maybe she was wearing thermal underwear.)

I've finally had the okay to write 2 more books for my publisher, which is both a relief and a thrill, and has given me a big burst of motivation. Knowing my writing efforts will be rewarded with publication and - most importantly - be read by actual people fills me with inspiration. I can't wait to get going. I have the plot worked out, but will probably deviate slightly, as usually happens - though the ending rarely changes once I have it fixed in my mind.

I've worked out another two stories as well, but am unsure yet which of those will be next. I'll need to break off soon to complete edits for my already-written book, out later this year, but that's always how it works - one being written, one being edited, and a later one swimming about in the recesses of my mind.

Meanwhile, Amanda Brittany and I are in the process of submitting our next novel to publishers, which is exciting and a bit daunting as there are no guarantees, but we're confident it will find a home, and soon we'll be embarking on our next book as we have the outline ready. 

Marking out these things brings home the passing of time and how quickly it flies, but there will hopefully be other nice things happening apart from writing - maybe even a tiny holiday at some point.

One thing I'm looking forward to is getting back in the garden, which I barely look at during the winter months. The grass desperately needs cutting, and the pots need replanting. My inner teenager is telling me I must be getting old - gardening is what my granddad used to do - but I've  reached the age where the attractions are obvious: being in nature; exercise that doesn't feel like exercise; the reward (that word again) of seeing the seeds that were planted last year grow into something beautiful - just like a book ☺

                                                                                     Spring is springing...         

Here's hoping your spring is mild and fruitful!


Monday, January 17, 2022

New Year



So, it's 2022, a year that looks and sounds futuristic - the sort featured in an old episode of Star Trek, when it was imagined we'd all have flying cars and be dressed in silver jumpsuits.

I like the promise of a new year, a blank page waiting to be filled. I don't make resolutions as such when it comes to writing, but picture myself being more productive/disciplined and focused though - in truth - it'll no doubt be more of the same: lots of procrastinating, interspersed with deadline-panic-motivated writing followed by a sigh of relief and a burst of housework.

I'm currently finishing a thriller with co-writer Amanda Brittany and we've outlined a new idea which is being submitted to our publisher in the hope we'll be offered a new contract. So, that's exciting.

In the meantime, I'm waiting on edits for my latest book, and for the paperback and audiobook publication of My Sister's Child on February 3rd. The Works is taking 5,000 copies which is a thrill as all writers love to see their books on shelves. I'll be darting into various branches taking 'shelfies' and grinning inanely - and perhaps strong-arming customers into buying copies. (I won't be doing that.)

The weather's typically cold and frosty for January, but it doesn't stop me walking every day, working off the Christmas Quality Street and mince pie excesses, fixing plot holes as I go and enjoying the scenery when I look out from the imaginary world in my head.When the sun's shining as it has been today, it doesn't seem too long now until Spring, which these birds - pictured in a tree in our garden - also seem to be looking forward to.


Whatever you're doing this January, stay warm and safe.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Publication Day

 


It's eBook publication day for my third psychological thriller My Sister's Child, and I'm thrilled to see it finally out in the world. It's my twistiest story yet, but packed with emotion too, and I can't wait for readers to ... well, read Jess and Rachel's story.

Early reviews have been great, which is always a huge relief, and my editor emailed today to say that The Works will be taking copies when the paperback comes out in February, which is another thrill as there's nothing more amazing to a writer than seeing their printed books on a shelf in a shop. It's also a great way to get more copies into readers' hands, which is the aim after all!

In the meantime, I'm racing towards the deadline for my next book, provisionally titled The Lies You Told. It's the first time I've written a solo book from alternate viewpoints, told in alternate chapters, but I'm enjoying getting to grips with two very different female characters.

Hard to believe we're now in December, with Christmas around the corner. I took some time off writing to put up the tree this week, which involved the inevitable battle with the fairy lights, which still got tangled despite me being sensible and wrapping them up carefully last year! I got there in the end ....


I also took a day off writing (always happens close to deadline, I do anything but write) to meet my lovely friend and co-author Amanda Brittany for a hot chocolate and lots of chat about writing and life in general, and came away feeling motivated to Get On With It, as always.  


                                                    (The polar bear had a lovely time too!)

Whatever you're doing for Christmas this year, I hope it's happy, healthy and stress-free and that 2022 is the year we finally get back to Normal! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Still writing




September has appeared without warning. Hard to believe we're this far along in the year. It doesn't seem long since I was jamming the Christmas tree out of sight and wrangling the fairy-lights back into their box. 

The weather already feels autumnal, the July heatwave a distant memory. The leaves are starting to turn, and there's a chill in the air. It's hasn't been the best summer weather-wise, but other countries have had it worse - flooding in Germany, wildfires in Greece - so in a way, we're lucky. (I'm still craving sunshine though.) 

I haven't yet received my edits for my latest book - my editor is overworked after a busy summer - but in the meantime have continued writing with Amanda Brittany, enjoying the process of getting words down and seeing them grow at twice the usual rate; a benefit of having a co-author! 

One of the pleasures has been researching prop hire companies as our main character runs one, and we're hoping to pay a visit sometime to see how it all works. 

My next solo book - which I've started well ahead of deadline for once - is set in Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire, so I've been wandering around there virtually thanks to the wonders of Google Maps. I had hoped to visit the area on a recent trip to see my family in Scarborough, but didn't have quite enough time. Luckily, I have vivid memories of visiting the bay growing up, and took my children there when they were small, so at least have something to draw on. 


Robin Hood's Bay
As usual, when working out plots, I seem to spend a lot of time doing things unrelated to writing - baking and gardening in particular - but my mind is ticking over all the time and when I eventually sit down to write, I find the words are there. At least, that's what I tell my husband and children when they see me hacking at the ivy on the garage roof, or making yet another batch of scones. I think I've perfected the recipe now! In the interests of... well, no one really, I think I ought to sample one (or two.) 




Whatever you're doing, stay well, and have a happy autumn.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Writing during a heatwave

Chiltern Brew Cafe Garden
It's thirty-one degrees today and while we've been waiting - it seems - forever for summer to arrive, the humidity makes it hard to do anything but gently perspire. As some Covid restrictions have now been lifted, I've found myself veering back to air-conditioned cafes and coffee shops to write for the first time in nearly two years. A cool blast of air and a pot of tea - maybe a slice of cake - does wonders for my creativity.

Since my second psychological thriller And Then She Ran came out in April, I've signed a contract to write two more with HQ/HarperCollins and have started plotting my third. It's different to the one I initially outlined for my lovely editor Belinda Toor and I'm currently waiting to hear whether I can go ahead with it. It's one of those ideas I don't want to let go of and have presumptuously written the first two chapters.

Alongside that, Amanda Brittany and I are writing our third thriller, spurred on by the success of The Perfect Nanny. As with our last two books, we're thoroughly enjoying the experience, bouncing ideas off each other and writing a chapter a day, motivating each other to keep going. Motivation (or maybe it's discipline) is something I struggle with when writing solo - until two weeks before the draft is due when I write about 10,000 words a day. (Not recommended.)

Lovely Husband and I managed a weekend away last month - the first in nineteen months - to Whitstable, Kent. The weather wasn't great but it was good to have a change of scenery, and I had a wander around and made notes as I'd like to feature the area in a book at some point. Author Julie Wassmer has already written a whole mystery series based there - Whitstable Pearl - which has been made into a TV series and we're currently enjoying watching that, yelling 'We went there!' and 'That's where we ate oysters!' (Newsflash: I didn't eat oysters, but my husband did - I couldn't face them.)

Whitstable


Whatever you're up to this summer, I hope it's a good one in every way.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Cat and Mouse


It's publication day for And Then She Ran my second psychological thriller, described as a cat-and-mouse story as the main character Grace flees America with her baby, but suspects she's being followed.

I've always enjoyed the cat-and-mouse plot element in fiction, the pursuit, near capture and flight, the near misses and showdown, the psychological dance between characters that keeps me on the edge of my seat. I've read and watched many stories on this theme over the years and have picked out a few of my favourites.

1.  Madam Will You Talk by Mary Stewart

A classic cat-and-mouse tale set in the south of France where a war widow becomes involved with a gang of murderers and a plot to kidnap a young boy and has to figure out who the villains are. Plenty of twists and turns in a story that stands the test of time.

2. The Split by Sharon Bolton

One of the best books I read last year, described as 'a chilling, pulse-racing, emotionally charged thriller about a woman on the run, a deadly cat-and-mouse game at the edge of the world' which I agree wholeheartedly with. Gripping stuff.

3. The Serpent BBC

The true story of the so-called 'hippie-trail killer' Charles Sobhraj, accused of murdering Western tourists in the seventies who plays a long cat-and-mouse game with the police over many years. Great performances - and outfits.

4. YOU Netflix

A stalker/serial-killer series adapted from Caroline Kepnes' novel of the same name, with an oddly charming and likeable protagonist in bookshop owner, Joe (despite him being a stalker/serial killer.)

5. Strangers on a Train 1951

The Alfred Hitchcock film, based on the book by Patricia Highsmith, is a classic cat-and-mouse tale and one of my favourites - a chance meeting between two men on a train, speculating what it would be like to commit the perfect murder, with a private investigator on their case. A brilliantly constructed story.

6. Unsane 2018

A film starring Claire Foy as a woman who tries to join a support group after being pursued by a stalker and finds herself trapped in a psychiatric hospital. It's shot on iPhone, adding to the unsettling atmosphere of being stuck in your worst nightmare fighting to be believed. It veered a little too close to horror at times - I'm a coward - but well worth a watch if you're braver than me.

Published at HQ Stories 28/4/21

Monday, April 5, 2021

Another day, another book.

The end of March saw the digital release of The Perfect Nanny, the second thriller by me and the lovely Amanda Brittany. The paperback and audiobook will be out in May.



In the meantime, I've completed edits for my second thriller And Then She Ran, and the proof copy has been receiving lovely reviews on NetGalley. It's a little bit odd to know the words I've written are being read by strangers, but a massive relief that they don't hate them all.

Now, I'm pressing on with my next book, provisionally titled Her Sister's Child as I like to have a title while I'm writing, even though it will undoubtedly change before publication. My deadline is May 5th and I'm nowhere near finished (as usual) but hoping now I'm getting to know my characters that the words will keep flowing.


I don't know how it's April already, it's been exceptionally cold with a flurry of snow this morning, but things are blooming in the garden and I've been out hedge-cutting and chatting to a friendly robin. I tend not to notice anything about the garden during winter, then one day, when the wind is in the right direction, I zone in, cut the grass, replant the flower pots and declare that summer has arrived (even if it's snowing.)


It's good exercise, considering I've eaten my own body weight in Easter eggs over the weekend. Sadly, sitting about writing doesn't burn many calories though at the rate I'm going, I'll be writing so many words a day for the rest of the month, I'll be a shadow of my former self when I've finished.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Midwinter

The 'bleak midwinter' seems a fitting description of the weather right now - below freezing, snow and ice on the ground, a bitter chill in the air; bare branches etched against a bone-white sky. And we're in lockdown again, albeit with the promise of better things to come in the shape of a vaccine. 

I'm thankful to be in the business of writing, something I can do anywhere though the mindset isn't always right during the current circumstances. Walking helps with that, even when it's snowing - especially if it's sunny at the same time.


A bright spot this month was seeing the cover for my and Amanda Brittany's second thriller THE PERFECT NANNY, due out on March 31st. It's been receiving good comments on NetGalley, where new books go to be reviewed before release.



Hearing what readers think - and that they're enjoying our book - brings home how much we love telling stories, which are needed more than ever at the moment. I'm reading far more than I usually do (and I read a lot!) but I've put that aside, for now, to work on the edits for my next psychological thriller - title and cover to be revealed soon - which will be out in April. I'm hoping by then, the sun will be shining and life will be returning to some kind of normality. 

In the meantime, I feel lucky that my loved ones are safe and well and I hope you and yours are too.

Ooh, and here a few of the books I've enjoyed, if you're looking for recommendations: 




Thursday, December 31, 2020

What a Year



What a year it's been, and a very different Christmas and New Year's Eve to finish it off. Much quieter than normal, we managed to have a lovely, relaxing time and I'm grateful we've made it this far and stayed healthy, though there have been low moments during the year and not all related to the pandemic!

As ever, writing and reading - the world of words - has been a great solace and a welcome distraction. I'm proud (and amazed) that in spite of everything, I managed to write a whole novel - due out in April 2021 - as well as one with my fellow writer and friend, Amanda Brittany, which will be published in February. We're excited to see the cover early in the New Year.

I'm thrilled that my editor would like to continue working with me, so hopefully, there will be two more thrillers next year and I'm excited to start working on the first, provisionally titled My Sister's Child. (Titles always change, so I won't get too attached to it!)

2020 may not have resulted in the happy ending we were hoping for, but there's still a lot to be thankful for and I'm heading into the New Year with that thought in mind and hoping that wherever you are, whatever you're doing, 2021 will be kind to you and yours.      


Switching Genre

Rom-com to thrillers



Switching from writing romantic comedy to psychological suspense has been a challenge I’ve enjoyed rising to. It's a genre I’ve loved reading for years, having long had a fascination for what makes people tick and do the things they do, which led to me studying psychology as a mature student.

I started writing a thriller years ago, before diverting to comedy and knew I would drift back it one day. All my romcoms have a mystery running through them and a little twist at the end, and after co-writing a thriller with a writing friend last year I knew it was time to make the leap for my next solo project.

In romantic comedy some topics are off-limits and while I loved reaching for the humour, hoping to make my readers smile and experience a warm glow, I found myself drawn to writing about more complex, grittier issues that wouldn't be possible in a romance. I love creating tension in the lives of ordinary people, exploring the emotional aspects of relationships after a dramatic event and that works well in both genres, but with suspense, there’s the scope to dig deeper and go darker with the story.

Writing suspense is more technical in some ways, it's not such a straightforward journey with a neatly tied up ending. There are red herrings and clues and dead ends that must make sense and build to a believable and satisfying twist for the reader, while remaining true to the characters, and I hope I've created some genuine surprises during Beth's story in Your Life for Mine.

My search history has certainly been different than when I was researching the backgrounds for my rom-com characters, from ‘what does owning a bakery involve?’ and ‘what do events managers do all day?’ to ‘what is gaslighting?’ and ‘what is secondary drowning?’ and 'how long would someone have to be underwater to drown?' I had to explain to my husband that I wasn't planning to bump him off.

Unlike in previous books, I found writing the ending first – the twist – helped keep me racing towards that point and the ideas flowed as I wrote. Consequently, Your Life for Mine is the fastest I’ve ever written a book and I’m looking forward to continuing my journey into the dark side. 

First published at HQ Stories

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Publication



Finally, my debut psychological thriller YOUR LIFE FOR MINE is out in the world! At least, the ebook version is available to download now, the paperback and audiobook will follow on December 10th.

To celebrate publication - apart from eating cake (obviously) - I've been talking about writing over on The Bandwagon with bestselling author Vikki Patis and enjoying reading different author responses to her questions. I love to hear how other writers work, what advice they'd give and their inspiration/motivation techniques and I'm in awe of anyone who manages to plot their entire book and stick to it!

It's been a damp October so far and I'm rapidly losing interest in the garden, which has become home to a sea of mushrooms all over the lawn, crowding out the plants, but's it's a good excuse - after spending so much time out there over the summer - to get my head down and carry on writing!


Shall I mention that it's not long until Christmas now? 

Maybe not ...