Saturday, 25 July 2015

You, Me and Other People - Fionnuala Kearney



The Strictly Writing family is spread far and wide. Like all families we trade opinions, offer support and celebrate one another's successes. We don't send socks at Christmas though.

Our very own Fionnuala Kearney has much to celebrate (which I'll leave her to tell you about in her own words below), and it's a genuine pleasure to bring her to the virtual and comfy interview chair. Join me please for a writing story with a happy ending. 


Hello again, Fionnuala. Do you have a set routine for writing, or a favourite time and place?

Nowadays, writing is my job and I try really hard to stick to a routine. I work every day, Monday to Friday and very often at least some hours over the weekend as well – so it’s pretty full on. On the week days, I write from about nine in the morning through to lunchtime and then keep the immediate hours afterwards for emails/Facebook/Twitter. That sounds like complete procrastination but it’s not! They are now vital tools to keep in touch with other writers and readers. That’s the time I write other non-novel things like blogposts, etc., or update my website. Then, later in the afternoon, I pick up the novel work from the morning which is either writing/editing/revising, depending where I am in the process.

I work from my study at home, which is the smallest bedroom upstairs. I work surrounded with pictures and notebooks and I face the front garden so have a view to stare out at when I’m in ‘thinking’ mode. Next to my desk is the most enormous whiteboard – where I make notes and draw lots of arrows and stuff. (It’s plotting. Really.)

Tell us about your book deal moment – where were you and how did you react?

I was at home, waiting and waiting and willing the phone to ring – had been for days! MY agent called and I knew from her voice she had good news. It was, without doubt, one of the best moments I’ve ever had. After the phone-call, I did a little jig; 80’s ska-style around the kitchen.

‘You, Me and Other People’ has a dual narrative with the story of a marriage in freefall being told from both the husband and wife’s POV. How was it writing from a middle aged man’s POV and how did you find his voice?

When I’m writing, I start with characters first and I have an idea of what particular conflict/dilemma/trouble they have in their life. Beth, the wife, came to me fully formed and more or less insisted I hear her husband out! Adam came relatively easily – I constantly asked myself the ‘what if’ with both of them.

I really wanted to write both points of view because, real life often shows that nothing is ever completely one sided and nothing is ever as simple as the word ‘betrayal’ - it is our flaws as well as our strengths that make us human. Adam is certainly flawed but I found it remarkably easy to get into his head.

As a reader, two of my favourite books are ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls and ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. Two completely different books but both with tortured male protagonists! It was probably inevitable that I would try to write a male voice.

How are you finding life as a ‘published author’ under contract in comparison to life before? Do you approach your writing differently now?

Well, it’s certainly busier now! I think I’m having to approach things a little differently as my writing evolves. I’m a natural ‘pantser’ but I no longer have the time to be, so do find myself having to plot and plan the story out more in advance of starting. I structure my working life differently because I have to, in order to get everything done – I am aware of deadlines! And I’m very aware of a readership and delivering to them.

Also, it’s not such a solitary existence, in that, I am working into an editor who is also involved in the process with each book. This does mean that I have someone to keep me on track and to help make the novel the very best it can be.

You have been signed by Harper Collins on a three book deal (huge congratulations by the way!) - can you say anything about your plans for the next two books?

I’m currently editing my second novel The Day I Lost You and it is, again, a story told from a male and female perspective. Where in You, Me And Other People, the relationship examined was husband and wife – this relationship is one of friends. It’s obvious at the beginning of the book that one of them has suffered an enormous loss and you’ll have to wait to hear more! I will start writing book three in September this year and though I have some ideas, I’m not quite sure which one I’ll run with yet. Current favourite is one where I want to tackle three perspectives of siblings, though that may change next week!

Did you get feedback on what was it about ‘You, Me and Other People’ that sealed the deal?

I think years and years (some of which were played out on here on ‘Strictly Writing’) of practising and honing my writing skills; of writing three other novels before You, Me and Other People actually stood me in good stead. Practice, while not making perfect, has certainly helped… I’ve heard it time and time again that it is all about the writing.

My editor did tell me that my ‘emotional delivery’ works and I think having the male voice in this particular story helped too.

Is there anything you’d change looking back on your journey?

I’m tempted to say it would have been nice to reach this place quicker, but honestly? I don’t think it would have been possible. My writing experience from the time I sat down first to ‘write a book’ right through until now has been exactly what it should have been – a slow and steady burn, a constant learning process.

I’m so glad that during the ‘rejection years’ that, somehow, I toughened my skin and kept going. It would have been so easy to give up. In fact, there were many times that I did, only to return to it weeks later saying, ‘I’ll just try one more time.’ If nothing else, I am a lesson in perseverance…

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to write?

Keep going! Never give up! And even if you only write the tiniest of atoms of a story, persevere. Another day, you will write more.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Do writers even have spare time?!

Spare time?! Ha! Seriously, I love to read. It was my love of reading that first made me want to write so I still love to lose myself in a good book. I’m a foodie – love good food and a glass of vino with family and friends. 


Available in ebook, paperback and audio book.


Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Carl Ashmore's Time Hunters series


As regular visitors to our Strictly blog will know, I'm currently working on a British thriller series. We featured author Carl Ashmore on this blog a while ago and when I heard that he'd finished writing the last of his Time Hunter books I invited him back for a chat. Here, he offer some insights into his experience.

1. How do you feel after completing The Time Hunters series?
It’s a bitter sweet feeling, that’s for sure. I started the series in 2005 and completed it almost ten years to the day I started. But it was always planned as a five book series, and I story-lined every book in detail before I began. It’s such a complex series with a great deal of backstory scattered across the 5 books, that it’s only when you read the last book everything really comes together.

There’s always the possibility I’ll write another Time Hunters book one day. I do have two stories in my head that would make really great books, but there’s another series I’d like to start before I even think of returning to the TH world.

2. Were there any adventures or ideas you were unable to fit in the series?
Although I did storyline in detail, I left room for digression. I found this essential to keep the process fresh. I’m one of those authors that dislikes writing, but loves having written, so whatever I can do to keep the process stimulating and enjoyable I’ll do.  

For instance, although I always intended to visit the American Old West in ‘The Time Hunters and the Lost City’, I had no intention of utilising the legend of Jacob Waltz and the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.  It was only when I saw a documentary about it a year ago I knew it had to be in TH5.

3. Has your writing process changed since you first started on the series?
When I first started I really hadn’t a clue. The first draft of Book 1 was appalling on every level. Of course, I ‘d taken a year off work to write the book in the SW of France, so I’m sure the red wine dulled my ability to notice how bad it was. It was quite soul destroying to reach the end of that draft, recognise its huge faults, and then basically start from scratch again.


4. What's next for you?
I’ve literally just finished a screenplay for the first Time Hunters book, which I’ll use to try and attract the interest of film producers. I know a few people in the film/TV industry and they’ve loved the books and want to help me realise the dream of seeing it on a big or small screen. After that, I’ll start working on my next children’s series ‘Zak Fisher and the Angel Prophecy’.

5. What writing tips did you pick up along the way?
My best tip is related to editing. Personally, I like to read in the bath.  And when I’ve finished each chapter of a work in progress  I email my Kindle what I’ve written and read it as though I would a normal book.  It’s amazing how many typos you pick up reading via the Kindle format. For some reason it helps cure author blindness. Obviously, it’s not a replacement for a good editor, but it saves you the embarrassment of missing so many easily corrected typos.

6      Have you explored audio book versions?
Not really. I know I should. The ironic thing is I’m a media lecturer by day and work in a college with a radio station and recording studios. I could easily put one together with a little help from my friends. Maybe I should get on that.

Actually, that’s a great tip for new/old writers – look to the student body of your local colleges and universities. After all, today’s student is tomorrow’s media professional. Many colleges have excellent resources and there are some very talented students out there who are keen to make a few quid on the side. Some time ago an ex-student of mine, Richard Litherland, asked if he could make a Book Trailer for the first Time Hunters book. Of course I said yes. As a promotional tool it’s something different and works really well. He presented it to me a few days ago and here it is:


7. Where can we get hold of your books?
They're on Amazon. Here's a link to all my books:

Thanks for being invited to do the interview. Keep up the great work on the site.


Friday, 19 June 2015

The spell chequer is all ways wright, sew their!


The spell chequer is all ways write, sew their. Eye like to think eye am a good speller. Of coarse, we knead to bee good spellers, ewe sea. As authors wee set an eggs ample to others. Perhaps there are sum people who want to bee authors but our not that good at spelling. That's were the pea sea comes in handy. Some people don't give a shirt weather they spell write or knot, butt I do! Four me, it's very imp port tent. I learned too spell when I was at school at the age of for. My teach her said I was a grate speller and I even got won hundred per cent won year.

Eye halve won of those spelling chequers which is help full. Ewe can tell, I hope? Regard less of weather I halve a spell chequer or knot, I no I am a grate speller. Many of the grate righters did knot halve spelling chequers. George Oar Well could spell and he didn't halve a spelling chequer because he lived long a go. Charles Dick Ins new how to spell write. If ewe reed Grate Expectations ewe will bee amazed at how good he is. All sew, there's Emily Braun Tea who probably did knot halve a spell chequer, and Dug Glass Cope Land – he know doubt did though, as he is mode urn.

The knew write hers from the naughties like like Hill Lorry Mantle will halve spelling chequers witch will help them to spell. All there novels, and even Hilary's book Wool Fall where all free from mist aches. They will halve spelling chequers on their comp pewters and eye max.

Eye have been running my hole novel threw it and have realised it's perfect all the weigh threw. There are know wig lee green lines, know mist aches at all – soup her! This novel, numb bare too, which eye halve stored on my pea sea is grate. I'm hoping some won some were will want to publish it. 

Butt, the spelling chequer can be danger us two. We may think we spell a whirred write butt it is, in fact wrong. Sew, we must be care full when sending are books two agents. 

I can knot bare those rejections. I'm board with them. Those callus agents think they no it all. They chews only a few books each year two print - and just think off all that paper they waist, righting reject sean let hers.

Eye halve taken grate care with this add vice, sew if ewe sea any mist aches please let me no. All the words our spelt write – that I can ass sure ewe. Knot won whirred is out of plaice – can ewe bee leave that?

Let this be a less in to ewe, to poof read care fully!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

The Curious Incident Of The Mustard Mayo

Morning all!
I've been away for a while, writing, working, trying to complete a novel in a year.
The blog has suffered - but all credit goes to Derek who has held the fort. And big congrats to Derek and may he enjoy the fruits of his labour!

I've been working on my next novel Acts - it follows a university lecturer and his wife who are battling mental health problems while concealing a shocking, dramatic secret which will change the way their small village sees them.

However, once I'd finished the novel, I had the occasion to pen a letter of complaint. Now I never complain! But had to on this occasion - and all credit to Marks and Spencer who are kindly sending me a gift token to make up for Mustardgate!

Here we are:

Dear Marks and Spencer

Let me begin by saying how much I love your food - doesn't everyone? The vegetarian kievs, the garlic bread, olives and the rye bread salad sandwiches are my favourites. You see, I've been doing this meat and fish free malarkey since 1992 and the selection of vegetarian food is very good indeed. Furthermore, the vegetarian and vegan labelling on the wine is especially commendable, and doesn't even come close to competitors, so I salute you M&S.

But let's get down to business.

Unfortunately I became embroiled in a mustardy receipt-gate on May 27, 2015 at the M&S in the Fairhill Shopping Centre in Ballymena, hey (local joke). It wasn't on the same scale as Watergate, but nevertheless it did leave a sour taste in my mouth. I'm not in the habit of complaining, in fact this is my first ever consumer complaint (I didn't so much as squeak when the now defunct Air 2000 forgot to feed all the vegetarians on my long haul flight back in 2001).

I decided I'd take advantage of a great three for two deal on the condiments last week. I selected a lemon mayo - wow, taste sensation, I kid you not. My second selection was the garlic mayonnaise. One can never have enough garlic in one's life. Not leaving the mister out, I selected an American mustard mayonnaise, not vegetarian friendly, but then, I didn't care - I wouldn't be eating it. He would. Or at least I hoped he would.

You can imagine my post-purchase delirium when I started to peruse the back of the container and realised to my horror that it was dated Best Before End May 2015 (the other two were quite rightly dated May 2016). Now I realise it's not a crime but the mister would have liked more than a few days to enjoy his condiment.

To be precise, the BBE gave the mister approximately 4.3 days to consume the contents as it neared the end of its life. Now, unless someone is going to devour the entire contents of the mayonnaise (which is not advisable as he or she will inevitably end up on that obese Jesse Pavelka show), this is clearly not a good buy. Did the shelf stacker try to conceal this one rogue bottle? I don't know.

And here's the unfortunate bit.

Normally I'm a diehard keeper of receipts in case of difficulty, but on this occasion the little fellow found its way into the bin. I thought 'what can possibly go wrong with three condiments, a prawn layered salad (not mine) and a chilli chicken salad (again, not mine)?' They aren't likely to break down or require repair in any way.

I'll tell you what went wrong - if the mister had been able to time travel back a few months (like the bloke in that book The Time Traveler's Wife) and enjoy the mustard mayonnaise, I would have been happy, but I was faced with 4.3 days of potentially feeding him a range of dishes from hot dog smothered in mayonnaise, chicken smothered in mayonnaise, veggie burgers smothered in mayonnaise to apple tart smothered in mayonnaise. Do you feel sick yet? Do you get that drowning feeling? Moreover do you get the point that this is Simply M&S Not On?

So the mustard languished in the refrigerator until I was in a position to request a swap. I did just that on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - seven days after I purchased it (due to work commitments).

I walked straight in and pulled the offending condiment from my handbag. I explained to the nice ladies that no one could possibly consume an entire squeezy of mustard in 4.3 days, otherwise one would become morbidly obese practically overnight.

To my utter horror, Mrs M&S peered at me over her glasses and said no - not without a receipt. But, I said: 'It's blatantly obvious it's an M&S product - it's not as if I'm trying to pass off Lidl own brand mustard!'

Maybe they thought I'd shoplifted it?

Surely, surely, surely, if i wanted to shoplift I'd choose a pallet laden with vegetarian kievs and the extra strong garlic bread along with a selection of fresh side salads. Or I'd make the extra effort, Great Train Robbery style, and drill down into the secret food storage basement and carry out a diamond style heist, procuring a huge selection of only the finest vegetarian canapés, sandwiches and pizzas (I can take or leave dessert, thank you).  

I was broken. I did the rest of my shop and left crestfallen. I was bereft and inconsolable.

I'm now in the habit of walking round shops checking best before dates in case I get my fingers messy again. Yes, M&S, you've dented my faith in shopping.

All I want is a new mustard. As we spend around £100 per week in the store, I think you could at least furnish me with a new, preferably in-date squeezy mustard mayo.

Yes it's my M&S, not yours! I'm happy to enclose a mugshot, back and front of the perpetrator.

Yours in anticipation
Gillian

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Promotion: Line of Sight - FREE on Amazon from June 3rd - June 7th


It may not be the most inventive headline, but by gum it does the job! Yes, Joffe Books is making the sequel to Standpoint free to download for a limited period. The links are below, but you already knew that, right?

That's the thing about promotions. There's an honesty to them that some authors find a little...well, crass. It puts them in mind of street markets with someone shouting, "Oranges - a pound a bag!" The thing is, sometimes it works. I have a friend who had great success on Twitter by trying different approaches - questions, gags, review quotes, and statements, all followed by a trusty sales link. As she explained to me, some folks will be turned off by your marketing efforts, in which case they're not your target audience.

Gone are the days - if they ever existed - of authors working in their garrets, crafting their world-changing novel, and then passing it on to a publisher to launch it into the world on their behalf, leaving them free to remain in the garret. Whether you're self-published or traditionally published, as the author you will need to engage with your audience and the marketing of your book. 

I can remember working on a bookstall and calling out, "Get your books - they're hot, they're lovely!" We raised a few smiles and maybe made a few extra sales. More importantly, for me anyway, I felt as though I was doing something instead of waiting passively for people to pass by.

So here are a few quick tips for promotions:
- Have a plan and prepare your promotional content in advance.
- Start early to build up some interest. In the case of a free download, like Line of Sight (see what I did there...), it may not be possible to alert people in advance, so focus on other elements of the book to raise its profile.
- Call in favours if you can. You want to reach as wide an audience as possible, preferably one that has different reading communities.
- Try your luck. Experiement. Be bold. Risk.
- Respond. If people reply to you, don't leave them dangling.
- Make time. It will take more time than you think to handle promotions well.
- Consider spending some money. That's right - paid advertising might pay off for you. Do your research carefully to ensure you pick the best options for your needs.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be offered a book launch (and lunch!) with all the trimmings. That's especially true for ebooks. What you can do, however, is create an event online, such as a blog tour, or a Facebook party (that's not the kind where people trash a house), or even a webchat if you have an established fan base.

And now, without further ado, here are the links for Line of Sight (only free June 3rd to June 7th), along with the sales links for the first book in the series, Standpoint.


LINE OF SIGHT

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com


STANDPOINT



Amazon.com




Sunday, 17 May 2015

Things I Never Expected About Becoming an Author

Just recently, my writing roller-coaster developed a few extra twists and turns. Standpoint, my debut thriller, launched in March. Line of Sight, the next book in the series, swiftly followed it in May. As a writer who writes in order to be read, I'm thrilled to see my work available to a wider audience. I'm also - like most writers - one of life's observers and it has been very interesting to observe myself at this exciting and bewildering time.

One of the main feelings, at the signing of a contract last October, was relief. Oh, there was joy too - don't let my saturnine delivery facade you - but the relief was palpable. The premise, which I envisaged running over five books, had legs. At least two, anyway, based on the initial contract. There was also a sense of validation, that all those hours spent locked inside my own head had amounted to something tangible - a fictional world someone else believed in too.

Editing with a publisher was an enlightening experience. One or two minor elements I'd taken for granted, after so long with the source material, didn't hold up to scrutiny and needed elaboration. 

After so many of my own edits I thought I'd considered most things, but the language itself had never popped up on my radar. As Joffe Books, my publisher, has an international audience, I had to consider the level of slang for the first time. Writing for me, I'd entertained myself with little in-jokes and cultural references. Writing for a range of readers, with different cultural touchstones, required a more inclusive approach. It wasn't so much a case of 'kill your darlings' as, "Who are you writing this for?" The publisher was bang on the money because some of the US reviews soon revealed that some US readers struggle with the slang. We've added a glossary, but the tone and syntax are distinctly British English.

"Never justify, never explain." is a wonderful mantra for authors. Arguably, everything you want to say should be in the text. Despite that, I found myself pre-warning friends and family that the first thriller contained sex and violence. It must have been a transitional phase because I don't bother now! The same is true with the language. If they can't get past the banter and 'bollocks' on page one then it probably isn't the series for them. (They're welcome to buy it anyway though, just in case.)

Once the first book was out there I was faced with the challenge of promotion. I've used that ambiguous word deliberately, by the way. 

From a sales / promo perspective I've spent more time on Facebook than I ever thought possible, and social media generally, to help spread the word about my books. Thanks to the generosity of some friends, that message reached far more people than I could have imagined - and not just on social media. Promotion of a different kind has also given me food for thought. One or two writers thought I had now acquired magical answers, to find a hidden path through the publication jungle. Others, disappointingly, have kept a distance. Maybe they think I'm busy or maybe they're busy, or maybe they're just waiting for the dust to settle.

Do I feel any differently towards my own writing? Not especially, although I can see that cutting corners at the beginning is a false economy. In the drive to get an agent or a publisher it can be oh so tempting to adopt a 'just good enough' approach. That's all fine and dandy until you get to the pre-launch proofread and start to question whether elements of the book are strong enough. Too late, my friend, the process has already gathered momentum. An editor and a publisher can only do so much, and they have to work with whatever you give them. Skimp now, pay later!

I'd be lying if I didn't say that getting a book deal hasn't made me more ambitious. For one thing, I originally pitched a series of four or five books, so I have a specific focus for my writing going forward. For another, now I have some evidence of what's possible - both in terms of publication and based upon positive reader feedback - I am more confident with my own writing style. I have my critics too, of course, which is as it should be. I'm also aware that while recent successes do not guarantee future progress, it does help to establish a track record for anything else I write.

I'm still learning, but here are five things I've picked up so far from the publication of Standpoint and Line of Sight:
- Write well and edit well because you can't make a silk purse out of a terrible manuscript.
- Listen to your editor and your publisher. They're investing time and money in your work, and they understand the commercial realities. Art for art's sake...
- Accept that some people will be thrilled for you and others not so thrilled. You're only responsible for what you do on your side of the fence.
- Stand by your words, as my friend Christine told me last time our writers' group met.
- Reviews are incredibly subjective. I've been complimented and criticised for the same thing in different reviews on the same day. But...even negative reviews, if they're constructive, can help you understand your 'brand' and to use that information in the way you communicate about your book. 

You're welcome to follow me on Twitter - @DerekWriteLines. You can also catch me blogging over at http://www.alongthewritelines.blogspot.co.uk 

Now, here's the skinny on my thrillers and the sales links.


Standpoint

Thomas Bladen has been living a double-life for two years. He's a government photographer, working in London, but the shadowy Surveillance Support Unit also assists other departments. The SSU is staffed by ex-forces personnel, careerists and Thomas. He has an eye for details that other people miss and a talent for finding trouble - a combination that was never going to bring him an easy life. When Thomas witnesses a shooting, and uncovers a web of deceit and treachery, can one good man hold the line without crossing it?

Amazon.co.uk link for Standpoint.

Amazon.com link for Standpoint.
Line of Sight

A young woman lies dead at an army base. Was it really an accident? 

Thomas Bladen works in surveillance for a shadowy unit of the British government. When Amy Johanson is killed during a weapons test, Thomas and his partner Karl are determined to get to the bottom of it. They must protect Amy's friend, Jess, the only witness they have, who plays a dangerous game of seduction and lies. Meanwhile, Thomas's girlfriend Miranda and her family are once again put in the firing line. 

Can Thomas get justice for Amy, solve the mystery of Karl's past, and decide who he can really trust?

Amazon.co.uk link for Line of Sight.

Amazon.com link for Line of Sight.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Group Therapy


Brain food or subtext?
As much as we think of writers as solitary creatures, writers need people. (And no, not just to buy the books!) Getting considered and constructive feedback can be a challenge at any point in a manuscript's life, but especially when you you're working through the early stages of a story, establishing the plot, the main characters and the major conflicts. The framework that you put together - much like a skeleton - will shape and constrain much of the later writing.

Who you gonna call? Other writers!

The right writers' group can transform your understanding of your own book, enabling you to gain valuable and objective insights about your work.

Some of the benefits
- You can set ground rules, so that the feedback is structured in a particular way.
- Other writers understand what it takes to write a novel, and what it takes out of you.
- Other writers, generally, are well read and may relate your aspirations to other novels and novelists. This can help you appreciate whether a proposed plot line is as original as you think.
- A good writers' group is supportive, and invests time and attention in your work, which boosts your confidence.
- You can learn from the experiences of other writers.
A good writers' group will not tolerate sloppy writing, but instead will inspire you to raise the standard of your work.

Some of the challenges
- If writers have different levels of experience they may also require different levels of input. 
- Not everyone's skin is the same thickness.
- Members may not feel knowledgeable about a genre they've never read or written for.
- There can be an element of competition (which, I suggest, is also a good thing). That can lead to tensions if some members are making good progress in their writing goals, while others are not.

Some suggestions for the perfect writers' group
Small is beautiful. No more than five people is ideal for a group
 Plan the session so you know when the breaks will be and how the group will spend on each person’s work.
 Let each person determine what level of feedback they need.
-  Have a timekeeper – it makes everything so much easier.
- Allow for time and space for general chatting – it’s not just a series of presentations and feedback. Writing is also about process, challenges, and ideas; plus, there is life outside writing too!
If it’s possible, bring along printed copies of the text so that everyone can follow it as it’s being read aloud.
- Everyone reads and everyone feeds back. The word ‘nice’ is banned.
- A light lunch (if it’s a long session) or snacks make it much more enjoyable. Everyone can bring something, although that can result in a lot of chocolate.
- Consider having someone other than the author read their work out. In my regular group we read our own work out, but in the ‘Famous Five’ group we read one another’s. It can help the author appreciate the rhythms and sentences from the reader’s perspective. It can also be funny when someone has written dialect speech, tha knows!
- Try to keep to the schedule as much as possible, so that everyone has their turn and you finish on time.
 
It’s surprising what a fresh pair of eyes, or a fresh mind can come up with. Two examples spring to mind: Susie came up with the name for Miranda’s bar in my thriller, Standpoint, while Warren’s input helped me to decide on the final scene for my comedy drama, Scars & Stripes.

There’s another side to it as well, which I alluded to in my title. A supportive and constructive writers’ group encourages all participants to thrive, wherever they are with their writing. It becomes a community of kindred spirits, who share in successes and failures, on and off the page. If writing is a kind of madness, a good writers’ group can help keep you sane.

Here’s to you: Warren, Susie, Sue, Randle, Martin, Kath, Elizabeth, David, Christine and Cathy.



Standpoint (or part one, as I like to think of it)...

Thomas Bladen keeps secrets - mostly from those closest to him - but all that is about to change. He's a civil service photographer, based in London, but the Surveillance Support Unit also assists other government departments. It's staffed by ex-forces personnel, careerists and Thomas. With an eye for details and a talent for finding trouble, leading a double-life was never going to be easy.

During a routine assignment with Customs & Excise, he unwittingly exposes a thread of a conspiracy that bleeds into his private life. When the cards are stacked against him and the only woman he has ever loved is in their sights, can one good man hold the line without crossing it?

Amazon UK

Amazon US

About the author

I'm a diverse writer of fiction, non-fiction and comedy material. Standpoint is the first in a series of contemporary British thrillers that combine action, intrigue and dark humour.

Follow me on Twitter - @DerekWriteLines