Work in Progress – Latest Rafferty & Llewellyn crime novel

Well, I’m halfway through the first draft of my latest Rafferty & Llewellyn crime novel. Hit a snag with the subplot. Going to have to rework it. Luckily, I’ve come up with a cunning plan! At least, I hope it’s cunning. Time will tell.

Not entirely happy with the main plot, either. Gawd! What to do? Scrap the lot and start again? But I’m over a hundred and fifty pages in, so I’m reluctant to do that. I think devilish ingenuity will save it. I often find first drafts a bit lacking. But they’ve generally been rescued in later drafts. Must be true, otherwise why would my copy-editor for Deadly Reunion (out February 2011), say I handled the character development ‘superbly’? Love that man…

With first drafts, of course, you have so much to think about, you just want to get the story down; the characters, the plot development, the subplot (grrr!) and the rest. You haven’t got any brain to spare to get it right. That’s what later drafts are for. When I think how many drafts I had to go through for Dead Before Morning, my very first crime novel, I’m amazed I finished it. But I did finish it and I’m still proud of it these many years later.

The problem with the subplot I should have seen coming. I would, too, if I could add two and two. Though I might have been all right if it had only been adding. But this was subtracting – a whole different ball game. The problem was obvious from the word go. The problem is one of time. Eight bloody years of time! Way too long a time period to smudge over. But not to worry. As I said, I’ve come up with a way round it. Will wait to see what it looks like when I get it down on paper.

To divert from the work in progress, my last post was an interview with David Wisehart. I’ve posted it here on my blog (see below), I’ve posted it on my website, on Twitter, Facebook, CimeSpace. The trouble I find, is trying to remember where else I should post it. Must make a list. Another one. I’m always making lists. I find them essential or I’d never remember anything. Memory’s going, alas.

One of the problems with the main plot is I have one hell of a lot of characters. Admittedly, a lot of them only appear once. At least the suspects are limited, which is the main thing. I often wish I could have my characters marooned snowbound somewhere, as Agatha Christie did, with the telephone lines down and no signal for the mobiles. Trouble is my novels are set in the fictitious Essex town of Elmhurst, not the Scottish Highlands. Could always do as Raymond Chandler advises and have a man come in the room with a gun, I suppose, and shoot half of them. That would be a solution, I suppose. Not a good one, admittedly, but- No, no. Must resist the temptation, if only to keep Dr Sam Dally sweet. He’d be none too pleased to be presented with as many bodies as in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Have you hit snags with your latest novel? Why not post a comment about it? A trouble shared and all that…

Must go. I have to get the copy-edited pages back to my editor. Then I have to wrestle with my latest Rafferty & Co effort. It’s not all fun being a writer. But a lot of it is. Better than my many day jobs, certainly.

Till next time.

Interview I did with David Wisehart

The lovely David Wisehart asked to interview me for his blog.http://kindle-author.blogspot.com/2010/10/kindle-author-interview-geraldine-evans.html

So you want to be a writer? II

Following on from my previous posting on this subject; let’s suppose you have now finished your novel. It’s gone through several drafts.You’ve checked, or had checked, the spelling, punctuation and grammar. You paid for a professional/begged a knowledgable friend, to critique it for you and have made the necessary changes.

You’ve printed it out. Read it through again. Noted the remaining typos that show up now you’ve printed the novel out again, corrected them and reprinted.

Hey! I think you might now be ready to send it out, if you want to go the traditional route. But if you don’t; if you fancy being an indie and put your book on Amazon’s Kindle, check out my post of formatting an ebook. There’s masses of information on the web. Please, please, don’t pay a firm of self-publishers to produce your book. It’ll cost you a fortune. And there’ll be strings attached. Oh yes, there’s always strings.

Amazon’s Kindle (https://kdp.amazon.com/ ), Kobo (www.kobowritinglife.com), Barnes & Noble’s Nook (www.barnesandnoble.com ) and Apple  ( www,apple.com/ibooks-author ) are all free. You can publish happily on any of them. If you don’t want the hassle of uploading directly, you can always use Draft2Digital (www.draft2digital.com). They will supply your book to all the usual retailers plus overdrive for libraries, and subscription services as well. All you have to do is upload a Word doc and you’re done!

To go the traditional route takes a long, long time. But if you’re certain that’s the route for you, how do you know who to send it to? Simple. You buy/borrow/steal (oops! not really) the necessary reference book. That will be Writers’ Handbook or Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook in the UK. Writers’ Market in the US. And please get the latest edition as these people MOVE, darn ’em. A LOT.

Now you check through the listings, marking up and turning the corners of the pages of your pristine new book (yeah, I know, you hate to do that. Get some post-it notes, then, or similar), those agents/publishers who are interested in your particular type of book, be it mystery, history, romance, sci-fi, and so on. Then you check to see if the listing gives a name for the person who handles your genre and ring up the receptionist to make sure the editor hasn’t moved, gone mad or died. Be sure to check the correct spelling of their name. And you send them a letter, telling them a little about yourself and your book and whether you envisage it being the first book in a series and asking if they’ll consider reading your book, which you’ll describe (briefly) Try to make this letter no more than one page – you don’t want to inundate Ms/Mr Editor/Agent with your ramblings. That’s likely to piss Ms/Mr Ed off and she’ll put you on her ‘Avoid Like The Plague’, list. Make sure the grammar, punctuation and spelling are correct.

Then you repeat this letter to other editors/agents dealing with your genre, again ringing the firm to check the individual’s name. Do this step as many times as you can afford or till you run out of people. Don’t worry about multiple submissions. Who’s got the time to hang around while Ms Ed works her way through the slush pile of letters/submissions? The only thing you should allow to limit the number of your submission letters is time and/or money.

Then you wait. Probably for three months, maybe more. But you don’t spend the waiting time in idle contemplation of your navel. You get on with the next book. Yes, that’s right. More of the same. You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, do you? In your spare time you can do a bit of networking to see if you can’t make acquaintance with a few editors/agents that you missed. Or even those you didn’t.

In what remains of your diminishing spare time, you get yourself a website organized.  www.wordpress.com is excellent. Your own Blog, too, would be helpful, the two are generally combined in the one site. And you are on Facebook, aren’t you? Tell me you Tweet. Social networking has helped me sell books; there’s no reason why it shouldn’t do the same for you. Putting the word out is simply preparing the ground for when you are published. Only post other things, too; interesting, amusing, useful posts that other people can forward on to their network of friends. It shouldn’t be all about you. The ‘Me, Me, Me’ posts will annoy people (wouldn’t they annoy you?) About 4 general posts to one book post or less. Preferably a lot less.

By the way. CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve got a book out to market. Well done! You’re clearly one of the doing writers, rather than one of the thinking about doing, writers.

Till next time and So You Want To Be A Writer III. When I’ll post about what happens if Ms Ed rejects you. And – even more important – what to do if she – GASP – accepts your book.

To Kindle, or not to Kindle?

Are you thinking of buying a Kindle? So am I. I’ve read a lot about them and I want one! I’ve given my husband a few hints about what he can buy me for Christmas and it’s definitely not scarlet underwear. I already buy kindle books for PC and have quite a collection waiting to be read. I’m currently enjoying While the Savage sleeps by Andrew Kaufman.


I’ve also considered buying an iPad, but they’re too expensive for our budget. They look tremendous, but the screen on a kindle is reckoned to be far superior when you only want the gadget to read books, which is my requirement. And then there’s the amazon factor to consider. Amazon is the largest market for ebooks, I understand they even have an App which enables you to download from iPad and other ebook formats, though I’ve yet to find a need to try this. I read widely and I also have a need to buy non-fiction for research and sheer pleasure, so it’s the Amazon’s kindle for me.

Let me know what you think and what your preferences are.

Hip, Hip, Hip Hooray!

Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday, dear Geraldine. Happy birthday to me!

Introducting American guest blogger, Chris Redding


Chris Redding, an American suspense author, is here today to talk about the importance of setting in stories. She will also tell us something about her novel, Corpse Whisperer, a paranormal romantic suspense. Here’s Chris: 

Today I am going to talk a little bit about setting in a story.
In Fiction for Dummies, Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy write “You are the god of the story world you create, and  you have complete control over everything that happens there. But this doesn’t mean that just anything can happen in your story world. Your story world needs to have an inner logic that drives it.”
The world you create must have scientific laws. (physics, chemistry). There must be conflict. There should be a good and evil.
Let’s examine the parts of our story world.
          There is the physical world. This world could be all water (Waterworld) or be a city as in most urban fantasy. The world will have geography and weather patterns. In Incendiary I have a hurricane hitting New Jersey. I once had someone call me out on it, but if you see how I use it, it isn’t like a hurricane in Florida. It jives with what they are when they reach us up in NJ.
          In your story world, there will be at least one cultural group. Maybe more depending on your genre and what the conflict of the story will be.
          Lastly, your story world needs a backdrop for the conflict. Is there a war going on? Think of the political climate or the religious climate. In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible the Salem Witch Trials are a key component.
          As a writer you want your story world to come alive in the reader’s mind.  You want to create a sense of place. Don’t waste a single word. Active descriptions not static. I’ve said it before.
          When describing anything that description should do double duty. It should keep the story moving and, more importantly, evoke an emotion in the reader. I forget this on the first draft.
          Weaving the descriptions into the rest of the story, making it seamless is most effective. Don’t stop the flow of the story. Don’t stop the action to describe what’s around. Think about two people fleeing from bad guys chasing them. They aren’t going to stop and notice the beautiful hydrangeas at one end of the parking lot. On the other hand, if those hydrangeas make the heroine sneeze therefore giving away the characters’ positions, then those flowers are significant.
          If it isn’t pertinent to the story, don’t describe it. If it doesn’t’ move the story ahead, then the reader doesn’t need to know. Is it important that her eyes are the blue of the sky after a rainstorm when someone is trying to kill her? Not unless the killer is targeting her because of those blue eyes.
          To recap, your story world need to have physical rules to follow. You need to incorporate at least one cultural group and the setting is the backdrop for the conflict.
          Thanks for stopping by today. For one lucky winner I have a pot full of chocolate. Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing.
          Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. When she isn’t writing, she works for her local hospital. The above blog was an excerpt from a workshop she will be doing at the beginning of May of writersonlineclasses.com.

          Corpse Whisperer is out on Kindle. A paramedic must solve a murder that didn’t happen yet. Incendiary will be out mid-December in electronic and print.

Thank you, Chris. An interesting blog. The setting is an important element of any story and should be given similar importance as other aspects: something I don’t always remember, alas!



Don’t forget to post a comment to be in with a chance of winning Chris’s pot of chocolate!

Coming soon! American Suspense Author Chris Redding

American suspense author, Chris Redding, has kindly agreed to guest blog. Don’t miss it! Be here on Tuesday 19 October 2010, when Chris will be talking about the importance of setting in stories. She will also be telling us something about her latest novel, Corpse Whisperer, a paranormal romantic suspense. Out now on kindle, it is also available in print.

Alongside her novel writing, Chris has also sold stories to confession markets and developed a workshop on writing from the male point-of-view, which she taught three times in 2009.

At the moment, Chris is working on a romantic comedy.

In the meantime, why not visit her website: www.chrisreddingauthor.com and check out her blog: http://chrisreddingauthor.blogspot.com.

See you here next Tuesday!

Women in Crime Ink: No Justice in Oklahoma

Women in Crime Ink: No Justice in Oklahoma

So you want to be a writer…?

So you want to be a writer? Fine. We won’t talk about whether the idea of loads of money sparked your desire, even though it’s a fallacy that all authors earn megabucks. They don’t. Take it from me. No author will sell well if no one’s heard of him/her. And most likely no one will hear of you unless your publisher decides you’re going to be a bestseller. You’ll get minimal marketing. If you want to be marketed you’ll have to do it yourself via a website, a blog, postcards, bookmarks, flyers, newsletters, talks, Author Pages on book websites. All while holding down a full-time job, bringing up the kids, doing the shopping, cooking cleaning, whatever. And that’s always assuming you actually get published. Because, as all you would-be writers out there know, getting published’s the first hurdle.

So what do you do? I can’t say I went the obvious route of joining writers’ circles and book clubs and the like. I have been a member of writers’ circles, but I didn’t find them that helpful when it’s a novel that you need to be critiqued. Novels are too long to be critiqed at your average writers’ circle meeting. Think about it: you’re one of maybe a dozen at the once-a-month critique meeting and have to take your turn. So you’ll be able to read no more than a single chapter. Spread that out over how many chapters are in the book and you see the difficulty. Who the hell remembers what happened in the earlier chapters by the time they get to the last one? Of course, if you show your face often enough and make friends, you might persuade one or two other members to read your book in its entirety. But it’s still not a very satisfactory way of finding out where your work needs improvement. And it will need improvement. Believe me.

So what do you do? Well, once you’re sure you’ve got the fundamentals of line spacing, page spacing, spelling and grammar sorted out, it’s time to try the professional criticism route (details of who provides these services can be found in either the Writers’ Handbook or the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook). A good professional criticism service is worth its weight in gold and will provide a detailed crit and tell you where your plotting, characterisation, storytelling, etc has gone astray. And though such services are expensive, they’re worth it. You’re paying for expert advice, so of course it doesn’t come cheap. It’s what made all the difference for me. I might have mentioned before on this blog that, if it hadn’t been for such professional advice, I might still be bemoaning my fate as an unpublished author. But I don’t think it’s a thing that can be stated too frequently.

I’d written a book a year for six years, all romances, and all aimed at the Mills & Boon market. All while I had a full-time job and household chores to do, too. And all but the last one received nothing but rejections. That last one was Land of Dreams, a romantic novel set in the Canadian Arctic. And while I was finally published, my next romance offering was rejected.

It was when I switched to writing crime novels that I first started paying for a professional crit. And it paid off because that first crime novel, Dead Before Morning, was taken from Macmillan’s slush pile and published (1993). It was only the second time I’d sent it out, so as you can imagine, I was thrilled. It was also published in the States, in hardback and paperback and, as it’s a backlist book, I’m now in the process of publishing it on kindle. It even sparked interest in a Los Angeles film producer! That came to nothing, alas, but it was exciting while it lasted.

Maybe you’ve taken my advice and paid for a professional critique and still got rejected. Have you asked yourself whether you’re chasing a dying trend? Different types of books are hot at different times and then fade till no editor wants them. Maybe, if you’ve had nothing but rejections on your current project, you should put it away and start again. Most first books are unpublishable. Writing’s a trade and needs to be learned. And no trade is learned overnight. And when you start again, do so with the book you actually want to write rather than the one you think you ought to write. Believe me, when you’re writing from the heart, about characters and themes you care about, it shows.

That’s it! Lecture over. I hope you’ve found my observations helpful. If not, and you’re still getting rejected, buy yourself a big, fat jokebook, one with a section on writers’ woes and you’ll at least see that you’re not alone. Persevere, as nearly all published writers had to do and if yours is a true vocation, you’ll get there.

New Rafferty & Llewellyn crime novel

Been working a little on my new Rafferty crime novel this morning. Don’t usually work on Sundays, but I’ve been struggling to set up a humorous sub-plot for this one. I’ve now got one that I think has legs and managed to add eight pages – though not typsescript pages, alas! Shorthand notebook pages only, so it will type up much shorter. But it’s a start.

The main plot is going pretty good. Still waiting for the witty one-liners to surface. But they’ll come. They always do. All it takes is thinking about the book and the characters. Still can’t quite make my mind up about the murderer. I have two prospects. Must plump for one or the other. Hmm. Anyone out there working on a new book? Post a comment about how you’re getting on. I’d be interested to hear.

It’s lovely and sunny here (Norfolk, England), so will be going out the garden later to do some more pruning. Place looks like that neighbour’s house who has the rusted car on bricks surrounded by weeds, at the moment, just minus the car. Haven’t had time and my hubby’s been too poorly to do it. We’d get a gardener in to sort it out but funds are too low at the moment to indulge in such a luxury. Waiting for my royalties and several advances. You know the feeling. A Regular paycheck would be nice. Sometimes, anyway. Though having to do the job that comes with it aint so attractive…

Hope to go down to London next month to stay with George’s son, Mark. He lives in a swish flat in Earl’s Court, which I have yet to see, so I’m looking forward to that. Even though I’m a Londoner, I haven’t been to The Smoke for a few years as my family have all left the capital and are spread far and wide.

Must go. The pruning shears are calling. Till next time.