What books to read…

As an author, we have to read as much as we write. This helps us learn from others and also expand our imaginations. Of course, there are some brilliant books out there, so which ones should you chose.

 

Body Heat by the fantastic Candy Denman. This is the second book in the Dr Jocasta (Jo) Hughes series and just as brilliant as the first (Dead Pretty).  This starts us off with a body found in a burnt out car. Jo is the local doc and Forensic Medical Practitioner who is brought in on the case.

This is a brilliantly constructed novel with fantastic scene setting and characters. Dr Jo Hughes is a lovely character that you just start rooting for from the first page. She is dynamic and resourcefull, a person who has a big heart but also does what it takes to do what is right.

The story draws you in and holds you there from chapter to chapter. The locations are described in a way that you feel you are there. The characters are brought to life with astonishing detail, making to love or hate them from page to page.

All in all, this was a pleasure to read, with an excellent story line and fabulous characters. A must for all crime novel enthusiasts.

 

Fancy a trip to the Lake District? Well, here you go. Dancing on the Grave takes you to the countryside and draws you into this brilliantly told crime novel.

This tells the tale of a newly qualified CSI Grace McColl who is brought in on a case that would test her metal for sure. With her is DC Nick Weston; who has just transferred from London.

OK, no spoilers here I’m afraid.

Zoe Sharp’s storytelling is as usual off the chart. The settings are beautifully described to the point you can smell the grass, fields and the rotting corpses.

The story pulls you in and doesn’t want to let you go, so get plenty of sleep before you start.

The characters themselves are involving, and each has their little bit of mysterious background story to keep you wanting to know more.

In summary, a brilliant novel which is a definite must for your bookshelf.

All these books are available at Amazon so what are you waiting for?

 

 

The Writer’s Page.

Hi all.

Today on the writer’s Page we will be looking into the bad guy.

What makes a bad guy, what do we conjure in our imaginations when we see this person?

The bad Guy (be it male or female) is the ultimate foe of or character. It can be the driving force behind what makes our hero or heroine do what they have to do. It also can give the reader someone else to cheer for without realising it.

The bad guy has been in literature, film, plays ECT for hundreds of years. From the tales of Ulysesse to Jake Reacher. The person we love to hate can be another reason for reading a book or seeing a movie.

But what makes a fantastic bad guy? Peoples tastes differ of course, but for me, it is the person who is an equal to the hero, the other side of the coin if you will. They have to be dynamic but at the same time brutal in some cases.  An interesting twist on the bad guy, is the one who thinks they are doing good and cannot see the evil. Whether it was Telly Savalas in “On Her Majesties Secret Service,”  or General Hummel in “The Rock.”

The thing about the bad guy, is that they aren’t complicated. They want something, whether it is world domination or the just want to kill. They want something, simple…well not really. The bad guy has to be as complicated or not(as the case may be) as the hero. Like I say, the other side of the coin. You cant pitch Pee Wee Hermann against a Darleck and expect him to win. No, the two must complement each other somehow, or the reader feels no drama in the pages.  Take Luke and Darth, the Witch and Hansel and Gretel.

Most of the Crime writers (myself included) like the shock factor of who is it?   The man behind the curtain if you will. We like to lead you up the garden path and make you think its A when in fact it is F. However many others prefer the Colombo style of this is him or her, how does the detective solve it. But all the while in both cases, the characters must complement each other, regardless of if you know or not.

Also many authors like the recurring bad guy. The Moriarity or Ernst Stavro Blofeld. I myself favour a good, bad guy who can make a reappearance, but it adds a bit of excitement for the reader because they know the character, so they want to know what they will do this time.

So as you sit at your desk thinking of a suitable foe for your goodie, just take in my points, make a coffee then let the pages flow and the battle commence.

 

 

 

 

The Writer’s Page.

Hi all.

Today on the writer’s page we will be talking about research. This is the one thing that can possibly take most of your writing time up but is absolutely necessary.

When I started writing in 2014, I was oblivious to what writing entailed. I thought it was a case of just putting pen to paper. Oh boy, was I wrong? The more I got into the book, the more I found I had to explain things because people like something they can relate to. Be it a street, a building or even a weapon.

I use street view a lot to walk me through locations, books and internet for technical stuff on planes, buildings, boats etc. But the main thing is you can’t make everything up, there has to be a sense of realism about what you are writing.

For instance, my first four books are set in New York, so I had to do a lot of street viewing on locations, so when the people who live there read it, they can say “I know where he is talking about.” Of course, you can take a few liberties, putting a Deli or Diner where there isn’t one, but for the foremost, stick to the facts.

Two days ago I was researching for three hours fast private jets and flight times, was it a waste of time? No, because if a pilot reads my book I want him or her to say, “Yep, that is feasible,” and not what a load of rubbish.

But sometimes research has to go beyond the internet, you have to be there. A poor excuse for a holiday I grant you, but actually seeing a place and seeing what a character would have to go through is worth it. In my fifth book which is set in Malta, I wrote a piece set at Azure Window. If I hadn’t have gone, I wouldn’t have found out what I had written wasn’t feasible.

Writing is about ten percent procrastination, fifteen percent writing and seventy-five present research. But is it worth the toil when people read your books and say that it was believable and how much they enjoyed it.

The Writer’s Page.

Hi all.

As this is a new year, I thought I would try something new for this page, a writer’s page. Somewhere I talk about writing, my books and where you can ask me questions.

So to kick it all off, I thought I would start with, ” How to start writing.”

In this brief page, I will go through what I have experienced as a writer and pass on some Do’s and Dont’s.

First of all, you need to establish what you want to write, your genre if you will. Be it Horror, Crime, whatever. This is important as you don’t want to write half a manuscript and find you prefer something else. Find what you are passionate about.

Having an idea. Always a good start I feel. However, this can also be the hardest part. An idea can also lead to other branches of your writing. You may be on one project, and an idea for another comes up. This is great, but jot the idea down and tuck it away. Don’t get sidetracked into two projects until you are ready to do so. A manuscript takes time and mental energy as well as full concentration. So stick with your current novel and get lost in the pages.

Next, leading off this one. Distractions. Television, games consoles, anything that can draw you away from what you are doing. It is natural for your brain to seek different stimuli. But don’t give into the dark side, be strong.

Have a plan..or not. Now some writers have it all planned out; start, finish, who is it, even who did it. Whereas others (myself included) prefer to fly by the seat of their pants. This route you must find for yourself. Writing is about self-exploration as well as plotting a journey for the reader. We create ourselves in our work, what works and what doesn’t. It is a never-ending voyage of discovery of our art.

Don’t be afraid to fail. What? I hear you cry. You will find as you are writing something feels off about something, or you suddenly write something on page 260 that does not fit with something you wrote on page 10. So what? You must decide what is best and..edit the one that doesn’t fit. It is a process. So your book is done, and you send it out to agents with a query letter. None of them takes you on. Have you failed? Not at all. Agents get around a thousand new queries a week, possibly a day. They scan your letter, and it has to grip them immediately or you’re done. But don’t give up. Take it on the chin and keep going.

Get yourself on social media. How does this help me write? Simple. To sell books, you have to sell yourself, make a name that people will know. Who would you buy a book from Lee Child or Sam Whojamiface? Sure Sam may be a great writer, but people go with what they know. Also, social media gives to contact with other authors who can help you if you are stuck, or you need help find an editor or cover artist.

So there you go. Just some small titbits of advice on how to start. I would love to hear from you and get your feedback, comments or if you have any questions at all. So drop me a line, you know where to find me. Right here on The Writer’s Page.

 

Merry Christmas one and all.

Hi all. So another Christmas been and gone and New years just around the corner. And what a year it has been. Some of it good and a lot of it bad. We have lost our fair share of pop stars, movie actors, comedians etc. We’ve had devastation due to natural causes and some of it not.  We’ve seen births, new advances in technology, the picture of other world, people doing remarkable feats, and of cause the new Star Wars movie.

I feel next year will be exciting, a new adventure for all of us. But of course there will have its down moments; it is the fact of things now. But how we chose to live our lives will govern the years to come. We must follow our dreams, we must live and not look back and say what if. The future is no longer far away, it is now because the future is what we make it, starting now.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a miracle, in New Years we welcome in a new beginning. As people we need something to believe in, it is our nature. I am not talking about our own personal God (whomever it may be), but we need something we can draw faith in, even if it is faith in ourselves. And believe in something, or someone is a good thing as long as that faith is channelled for the good of everyone.

At Christmas and every festive holiday of all religions, we believe it is a time of peace to all men. And I wonder why it should only be one day, why not every day.

Now 2018 is close upon us, and we wonder what will it bring. And I say, whatever you want it too. We make promises to ourselves at the start of the New Year; the resolution. We’ll give up smoking, drinking, the diet. What we should be doing is looking how we can better ourselves and start that dream we’ve always carried with us.

Never give up dreaming, look towards the future, and most of all. Believe in yourself.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

 

 

 

A little Writing thing….

Writing is easy. You just sit at your computer and type stuff, simple…right?

OH, so wrong. Writing is hard work, frustrating, time-consuming, makes up a social recluse. But we love doing it. Why? Because to be a writer you have to have the passion for doing it. Sure anyone can write a book. But the difference between an author with heart and just someone who wants to write something bleeds out through the words.

We write because we believe in the stories, our characters, our audience.  Writing is a commitment to something pure. A writer has to spend time selling themselves on social media, the media and in person. They have to be gracious in the wake of a painful review. A writer must be ready to continually learn how to improve their art and grow.

But most of all, a writer must never forget to dream.

This Christmas, don’t be an arse, get off it and help.

So, Christmas is here again. Presents, decorations, the same shows as last year on television. It’s great. Everyone eats, gets stuffed like the turkey they just devoured. Now it’s time to sit back, relax and put your feet up. WRONG!!!!!!

Spare a thought for dear old mum or the poor sod in the kitchen. The Christmas elves didn’t create that magical feast…No, it was the person who is now washing and tidying while you sleep it off crashed out on the couch.

So, this Christmas give a little good will and help a little.

Travel blog…and why not?

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Barcelona. Home to works of art from Gaudi to football clubs.

But what is it like? I was there recently for book research (my sixth book of my John Steel mystery thriller series, and yes I’m plugging because it’s my blog), and I wanted to get to know the ins and outs of the place.

First of all, best airport, I’ve ever come into. Usually, its here’s your bags now get out. Not here, you have to go through the shops to get to baggage claim. Smart idea. Next off, the taxis. These were organised pretty much like JFK in New York, where you are led to a taxi. Its fare on the customers and the drivers.  To get from the airport to our hotel was around 28 Euros. A decent price I thought. There are buses, but really stuck on public transport with all those cases?

The Hotel; a very nice place called the Hotel Granvia, was located in the prime location. Not too far from restaurants the local stores. The hotel was fantastic with friendly and helpful staff. The building itself only has around fifty rooms, but this ensures a peaceful and pleasant stay. The room was fabulous with a view of the street and a comfortable bed. Tea and coffee items were also in the rooms. However, the coffee machine in the breakfast room was always available for use. There is a small library/ quiet room, which I often used for my writing.

Barcelona is a fascinating place due to the mixed structures, ranging from buildings from the 1400s to modern multi-level apartments. The people are friendly and welcoming. They speak Catalonian, Spanish, English and also more than often with hand and foot. There are markets tucked away down side streets as well as the main shops selling Burberry and Hugo Boss.

 

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The city is vast, but one can find that in a moment of utter awe, you’ve just walked around half of it. There are fantastic restaurants, but beware there are ones that are not that great as well. We were directed to one restaurant called  Casa Carmen.20171127_213027[1].jpg   A brilliant restaurant, with fantastic food at a reasonable price. The staff were helpful and made you feel welcome. This place I would most certainly recommend. But there are other places out there, you just have to explore and try out. However, I would say you speak to the hotel staff to see what they would recommend rather than just going for it too much.

The weather was just perfect; not too hot during the day so walking around didn’t feel like a forced march. The evenings can be a bit chilly, but by British standards, it was quite lovely.  There is so much to see and do. So depending on your time schedule, make a plan. There are hop-on-hop-off buses, which are good to get an initial feel for the place.

There are a few places that you will require to cue at to pay and then again to get in. One of these is the Sagrada Familia. A marvellous place, but there are times allotted for when you can buy the tickets and then when you can enter. A bit strange, but then it keeps down the number of people inside. P1010807.JPG

Another place that should be on anyone’s To-do list is Montserrat. This is a monastery that has grown into a breathtaking wonder set on top of a mountain.

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There are several ways up. But we took the cable car. The view from the car was outstanding, and also you find yourself humming the theme from Where Eagles Dare…or maybe that was just me?

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The place itself has restaurants, gift shops and a view that will take your breath away. Inside this building is the most fabulous place of worship. Believer or not it is worth a look.

Barcelona is a jewel that everyone should experience at some point. The place gave you the feel of being relaxed rather than pressuring you to rush around. It is definitely a place I would revisit, regardless of seeing most of the sights. But I believe it has more to offer.

So, go pack your bags and get yourself to Barcelona.

 

 

 

 

I find this offensive…..

Today, while checking FB to see who loves me, I noticed someone had put that some found the flag of Israel offensive?

For a while now I have seen that particular elements and people have been saying what they find offensive, and quite frankly, it’s a bit silly what they are complaining about.

People find the cross of Saint George (the English flag) offensive because of the crusades…which happened around eight hundred years ago.

Some people find a film offensive something on television offensive which the rest of the world had even thought to be that bad….stop watching and turn over.

Some people find breastfeeding their child offensive, but will gladly watch smut of television and look at posters for underwear…really?

You know what I find offensive?

People who find poppies and the Remembrance day offensive. Enough said on that.

Cuts to the Armed forces, nurses, police force, and emergency services and then giving yourself a pay rise for doing a good job.

Making children education a joke.

Closing Libraries.

Taking religious beliefs and rewriting it for your own agenda. And before people start pointing fingers or having a go at me it has been going on since religion was created.

Bullies. This includes people who abuse their spouses and kids, Online bullies and people who think large people in gyms are funny. (Hello, they are trying to do something about it, and a little support is better than bringing them down).

Governments and courts that make more rules to support criminals than those who need the law on their side? Sorry, but if a person who brakes into my house and hurts himself should’nt be able to sue me, he should go to jail for breaking into my property.

People who beat up old folks for their money, which usually is only enough to feed themselves.

This world is full. Far too many people of this small living space requiring too many resources. But together we can make this small living space a nicer place to be if we work together instead of trying to kill each other for money, beliefs or just because we can. There is technology that can feed the world with little resources, but it costs money, and people just don’t want to spend that money to feed, they would rather spend it on grand things and weapons.

We spend billions on space programmes and weapon programme, but there is no money to rehouse or send aid to countries that had suffered from earthquakes, hurricanes or floods, or fires. And fine this offensive.

President Kennedy said to the American people “Ask not what our country can do for you, but what we can do for your country.” Maybe the same should be said for our planet.