Saturday, 28 March 2015

Countdown to the #AtoZChallenge 2015

It is that time of year again: the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Wow, that came around fast! And am totally unprepared for the event, not least because for some bizarre reason, I am working on the presumption that we are at least one week behind where we actually are. Does that make sense? So, for example, instead of me writing this  post on 27th March (or thereabouts), I believe I am writing it on the 20th (ish).

Whatever the reason, I completely missed the huge reveal party that many of my fellow A-Z bloggers joined in with on Monday. Have you heard about the April A-Z Blogging Challenge? I have been doing it for three years now (I think), and I find it great for networking and motivation. I love writing my blogs. I love interacting with my readers, and exploring other blogs about anything from writing, to photography, to lifestyle, cooking, business… the list is endless. My point is that blogging is a great way to widen your perspective, do some research, and just generally have a bit of educational fun.

And so to my theme for 2015: Last year I focused on lifestyle, specifically the theme of parenthood and what it means to have a young family. This year I want to celebrate more about me, Catherine, and my personal interests. But that automatically leads into my writing, because it is a part of me. I was recently looking through old photographs, and remembering my nights as a ghost hunter, and slowly I began to devise a theme. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the paranormal world. I would seek out ghost stories in the local library, watch X-Files on television, and write my university dissertation about vampires in popular culture.

I will use the #AtoZChallenge to write about all things paranormal, and how they manifest in my work. You will read about magic and mysticism, animal familiars, witches, vampires, werewolves, energy, and maybe a few more obscure entities that I can procure for your entertainment and interest. See you on the blog hop!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Bridging the Gap in my Manuscript #amwriting #writetip

My current work in progress is taking a very long time to write. I began the process back in 2013, when I had seen publication of my first three Redcliffe novels, and my spin-off historical vampire novel The Darkness of Love. The novel in progress is book 4 in the Redcliffe series: Eye of the Tiger. And I have still not yet finished writing the first draft. Wow!

To my fellow writers, this might not seem particularly unusual. For me, it is. I wrote and published my first four novels all within three years. They are easy reads, genre fiction, and they are well written. OK, I concede that my first novel may now seem a little clumsy in hindsight, but I am proud of it, because it was the culmination of a dream that I nurtured for over 10 years. And they are good stories. Trust me!

Anyway, I had stumbled my way through Eye of the Tiger. I only settled on a title for it late last year. But I am not concerned about the length of time taken. This one is going to be my Best Novel Yet. It may even be the one that all the best literary agents clamour to support me with. It might be the one that lands me a massive Hollywood movie deal, or a television franchise, and all those other glamorous dreams and visions that we writers are prone to indulge in.

I have very nearly finished writing the first draft of Eye of the Tiger. I know what happens at the end, finally. I didn’t up until about a month ago. And it didn’t hit me like a revelation, the ending. It sort of dripped into my mind, bit  by bit, until I formed it into a decent storyline that fits the plot. My problem was getting from one section to another. Bridging the gap in the story, if you understand my meaning. I am not the kind of writer that can do chunks of a novel, and return to fill in the gaps later. I have to write it from start to finish, and then go and do the editing in a methodical manner. But, eventually, after deliberating for a couple of weeks, I sat down before my computer last night, and I just wrote it. I didn’t stop to read it back. I just wrote. And actually, I think it worked quite well. Now I am free to write the exciting, dramatic conclusion. Watch this space…

*Image courtesy of HybridGothica at Deviant Art

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

My Books are Easy Reads; I’m OK with that #amwriting #ASMSG

There is a world of adventure within the pages of all the books in the world. I know, this sort of thing has been said before. There are various memes and quotes circulating on social media to remind us of this. But it is only since I became a professional writer that I began to look at my writing with a critical eye. I mean, when I was scribbling in my diaries, jotting down notes for stories, and lacking the confidence to allow anyone to see what I wrote, I didn’t need to concern myself with writing form, correct language and plot, and all the other nuances that go into creating a literary masterpiece.

My novels have been described as easy reads. And I like that feedback. Yes, I do hold a dream of one day being recognised as a force of literary power and talent. But I also know that this kind of accolade comes with experience. I am still only at the beginning of a long career in writing. In the space of four years I have published four novels and three short stories, and have written a further three novels (almost). That is a pretty good achievement for a new mother contending with babies, toddlers, family crisis and everything else that happens in the domestic sphere.


The Redcliffe novels are written for pleasure. They provide passion, romance, adventure and danger. They offer a chance to escape from the real world, and to immerse yourself in a parallel world, a world that operates within human society, but remains hidden. The Redcliffe novels offer you the chance to look at strangers on the street and ask yourself, “What is their story? Who are they, really?” And that, for me, is the pleasure and the excitement of writing. When I set out to write Love Hurts (A Redcliffe Novel), I never planned initially to turn the story into a trilogy. It was simply the case that as I wrote, my characters became something vibrant and alive, and they demanded more attention. And then I had to write my first historical paranormal novel, The Darkness of Love.


I hope you enjoy my easy reads, just as much as I enjoy writing them. My novels have short chapters, they are available in paperback format, and they are ideal for tablet and mobile reading. You can read them very easily during the daily commute or on your lunch break. And if you haven’t tried them yet, the first novel, Love Hurts (A Redcliffe Novel), is only 99p on Kindle. Have a lovely day, my friends!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Appreciate the Short Story; it is not so easy to Write

I have just begun to read an anthology of short stories by an up and coming UK British horror author. It is too early for me to comment on the book, since I am reading it mainly for the purpose of providing a review. Having only started it late at night, and therefore read about half of the first story, I am already intrigued and delighted. The story has hooked me in, and I went to sleep thinking about the new characters I had met, and the fate that might befall them. It even unsettled me, so I think we have the makings of a good horror story collection over here!

Buy the book here
This morning I was pondering the nature of the short story. I have reads thousands of stories over the years, and I always believed that I preferred a proper novel. I like to read a series of novels by the same author, once I have my favourites. I connect with the characters, the settings, the stories of each individual world. But then I realised that I have also been reading short stories throughout my life as well. Obviously, as a child I started with stories tailored for a young audience. As a teenager I moved into other genres and realms as my reading horizons broadened. And then, as an adult, the whole world opened up to me.

Buy the book here 
I do appreciate a good short story. They are very useful in this modern age, where everyone is busy, and nobody has the time to be still for more than a few minutes. You can read a short story very easily while on the daily commute, perhaps sitting on a bus or train. You can fit a short story in around your children. And with short stories, you can pick them up as and when you find the time to read. Personally, I read something at least once a day, mostly. But then I am a reader. It is part of my job. A good writer must always do the research from his or her peers.

What do you think about short stories? Do you read them? Do you write them? Please, do share your preferences. It is all part of my market research after all!

Did you enjoy this article? Join my tribe today, and I will send you a fabulous FREE book to get you started… (be warned, my vampires do not sparkle, and my wolves will bite!) 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Book Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

It has been a while since I shared a book review over here, and the main reason for that is that I simply haven’t been reading as much as I would like. I have also not really enjoyed a book in a long time, which was beginning to worry me. Not to fear, my local book club came to the rescue by encouraging me to read this one, and I am so glad I did! Here is my review of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton:

I was reluctant to indulge this book at first. It was not my usual genre, or style, or anything. Well, apart from the supernatural aspect! But, I tried it, and very soon I was swallowed up with Nella and her new life. The style of writing was not what I usually enjoy. I never did settle to reading in the present tense all the way through this novel, but I persevered. I did have to read about three or four chapters before I reached the point where the story really grabbed my attention, but by the end I literally could not put it down. Bittersweet, and brilliant!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Books and Magazines! It’s all in the Research #amwriting

There is a lot of information out there, for just about everything you could ever wish to know. It has become second nature, when a person asks about something, to reply, “Oh, just Google it!” I do it frequently. I spend a lot of time surfing the internet, seeking advice, information, and knowledge about how best to sell my books, how to develop my business, how to be the very best that I can be at what I do. And I have learnt a very valuable lesson. The internet can only go so far to help. It consumes an awful lot of time, and this is time that might be better spent in other pursuits.

I believe in the power of good, old-fashioned books and magazines. If you switch off your computer, put down your device, switch your phone to silent mode, you can remove a heck of a lot of distractions. And then you can open a book or a magazine, and find the answers that you seek. For example, as an indie author, my priority is how to get published, and how to get my books seen by people that want to buy them. I use the internet. I fell into the trap where I was basically advertising to other indie authors for a long time. Naturally, I did  not see the big return on income that I had hoped for. But I did build some valuable connections, and it is good to have that network and that support behind me.

When it comes to specific research, I say pick up a book. Or read a trade magazine. They are easily available, they don’t cost much to buy, and you could even borrow them from your local library if funds are really tight. My preferred reference book at the moment is the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. It contains articles and guides from industry professionals, sharing their knowledge and expertise. It tells you about legal rights and requirements. It gives you contact details for publishers and agents, if that is who you seek. Perfect!

And then there are the magazines. I currently subscribe to Writing Magazine in the UK. The subscription also includes access to their website, with email newsletters and information at regular intervals. This comprehensive magazine gives you details about open competitions in the writing world, news from the industry at large, and practical advice and information about the craft and marketing of your work. It offers something for writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. There is something for everyone in the writing community within this magazine, and I look forward to reading every issue when it pops through my letterbox.

So there we go. I hope this advice is helpful to you, if you are struggling to find a foothold in the crazy world of writing, publishing and marketing. Good day, my friends!

Did you enjoy this article? Join my tribe today, and I will send you a fabulous FREE book to get you started… (be warned, my vampires do not sparkle, and my wolves will bite!) 

*Writers and Artists Yearbook image courtesy of; Writing Magazine image courtesy of

Thursday, 5 March 2015

World Book Day 2015 #BBSOE

Happy World Book Day! I couldn't let the day pass by without joining in the festivities, although admittedly it is a very small celebration over here (cue tiny pop of a tiny bottle top). Join me, please, and share some bookish love!

The official website seems geared towards a younger audience, which is no good for me since I write strictly adult novels and short stories. I find it a little sad that adults are not encouraged to get in the spirit, dress up like their favourite characters for the day, and make some fun. Are we all perhaps a little too busy being grown-ups?

Did you enjoy this article? Join my tribe today, and I will send you a fabulous FREE book to get you started… (be warned, my vampires do not sparkle, and my wolves will bite!) 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Coming Out of the (Writing) Closet

My heart was pounding. I felt slightly nauseous. Even sweating a little. This was Big News. I was about to finally confirm my chosen career in life. Yes, it had taken a while. At almost 30 years old you would think I had it sorted. But, life never quite works out the way you expect. I had been naïve, ill-advised, distracted by other activities, and generally lacking in confidence enough to do what I really wanted. Eventually, I went for it. I started writing. And once I started for real, I mean being a serious, active, doing it writer, I knew this was the start of a beautiful journey.

My first task was to convince my husband that I should give up my full time paid job, take on a part time job closer to home, and spend my free time writing to develop my career. That took a lot of courage actually, especially since we were planning a wedding at the time and were very busy with time-consuming, and expensive, tasks. We had taken on a mortgage for our first home. The house needed (and still does need) a lot of repair work. It’s a very old house. But that was all inconsequential. I had released the demon, so to speak, and the demon was demanding that I be a writer.

My parents knew that I enjoyed writing. They knew I was an avid reader. It was my mother who introduced me to the library from a young age, and continued to encourage my creativity as I grew older. I excelled at English and creative writing classes in school. I chose to do a degree in Media Studies at university. Everything was intended to see me follow through into a creative writing career. But, as I mentioned, I got distracted. And I never quite had the guts to write a story that I would actually show to people, one that could be published and released into the public domain.

It had to happen eventually. Something clicked, I did a lot of soul searching and spiritual work, and finally I decided to go for it. I submitted my first short story to a competition for an anthology. It was accepted. I submitted a story to another anthology. That publisher came back and asked if I had any other stories to publish. They soon helped me to bring Love Hurts (A Redcliffe Novel) out into the world, followed soon after by its sequels, Love Kills (A Redcliffe Novel) and Love Redeems (A Redcliffe Novel).

Even now, with four published novels behind me, and several short stories around and about, I struggle with the concept of calling myself a writer. Well, I did. I don’t any more. It took me a while to accept that I wouldn't necessarily earn millions of pounds in royalties overnight. Authors had always been these mysterious, elevated entities that existed in a world of which I could never be accepted. Well, now I am there. I am an author. And for those of you reading this who are struggling with the demand for your writing and your ‘day job’ I say this: Be proud of who you are. Believe in your stories. They are important. And they will be told, to the right people, at the right time. Have a lovely week!