5 Top Tips For A Successful NanoWrimo

With NanoWrimo looming on the horizon and no sign of a finished draft for my latest Dead Men novel, I decided I would dust off my Nanoing shoes and spend the 30 days of September whipping up a rough draft. Yes, I know it is generally a November thing but, hey, the concept can be applied to any month, right?

Here are my top tips for making the process of whipping up a rough draft in a month easier.

Tip 1: Spend some time thinking about the story before you start to write. Even if you are a pantser, having a basic idea of plot before you start will minimize the time you spend staring at a blank screen. Mind maps are great.

Tip 2: Allow yourself time during the month to plan what you will write during your next session. Walking, having a bath, washing up and ironing are the non-writing activities I find are best for giving myself time to cogitate over what I wrote that day and to plan what I will write in the next session.

Tip 3: Utilise that Netflix subscription. Watching TV/films can refuel your imagination plus movies are great for teaching you about placement of the major plot points which will give your draft structure. The hook/catalyst; the Inciting Incident; Doorways 1 and 2; the midpoint twist/reveal and the climax. They are always present at predictable times.

Tip 4: Allow yourself to write out of sequence. Scrivener is a great tool for enabling writers to organise their work and add to scenes even whilst you are writing other ones. Having separate documents for each scene or chapter would also make this easier.

Tip 5: Have a novel you really want to read by an author who inspires you set aside for your writing marathon month so you can read a few pages when you’re feeling low writing energy. More often than I’d like to admit I wake up feeling like writing is the last thing I want to do. My getting up routine involves flavoured coffee and reading a page or two of a Clive Cussler novel and, yes, I get it, the itch to write.

I would love to hear more ideas or about your writing projects. Feel free to comment.

Happy Nanoing ✍️

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5 Horror Subgenres A Writer Can Really Sink Their Teeth Into

You know the Halloween season has started in our house when I dust off Pumpkinie, our ceramic Jack-o’-lantern. He comes out of the cupboard, has a swift brush off and new candles inserted. He sits on the windowsill – (sometimes up until the Christmas season starts and people ask why we have a pumpkin and a Christmas tree on display) – and delights us with his glowing, grinning mouth and mischievous eyes. Inspired by my Halloween friend, and with my hot-beverage shelf full of seasonal teas and coffees – (Apple Strudel, Cinder Toffee, Gingerbread, Pumpkin Spice, yum) – I set about compiling a list of my top 5 Horror Subgenres that would make great novellas, serialised novels or anthology submissions.

1. Creepypasta: Taking urban legends and weird photographs a step further, made up from internet entries on message boards and blog posts, intended to scare the bejeebus out of people, creepypasta-style stories can involve murder, suicide, supernatural freaks, strange disappearances, hacked computer games – (think The Ring and Slender Man). The creep factor comes from the fact they have a feel of truth about them. This subgenre of written work would be enhanced if you added a mixed-media aspect, for example extra material in a blog post or a dedicated website.

2. Abandoned Places: Anyone who knows me knows I think you can never have enough books, movies or computer games set in abandoned places. My favourites are: asylums, art deco hotels, hospitals, ghost ships and abandoned towns like Pripyat.

3. Body Horror: The film American Mary is a great example. Freak surgery obsessions, horrible experiments, otherworldly pregnancies, branding, amputations; the fear of being permanently altered or having our bodies used against our will is what makes this subgenre tick.

4. Revenge Horror: This subgenre is hard to stomache; visceral but with a great pay-off if you get to the end. To work, the set-up has to be well established and this is why it is a difficult genre to read/watch. In order for us to be behind the hero/heroine one hundred percent when they go on their revenge rampage the atrocity they experience which triggers it needs to be bad enough for us to want the villains punished. The I spit on your grave film franchise is a good example.

5. Holiday Horror: Imagine your dreams turned into a nightmare. This is the basic gist of the Holiday Horror subgenre. Honeymoons, trips with friends, family vacations; mix the excitement of a long-planned holiday with a descent into unimaginable terror and you have the ingredients of a great frightening tale.

Take your horror stories to another level by thinking about the themes you can explore within them: the nature of justice; what someone will sacrifice for love; the importance of surviving versus loss of beauty – what is beauty? – something you can see or the essence within you that makes you want to live?

What favourite horror subgenres do you have?

BOOK TRAILERS ready to watch now!

So I have spent the past week working on a project to complete 4 book trailers. 3 for novels already published and the final one for the 3rd novel in the Dead Men Can Talk series which I am busy writing as we speak.

If you fancy viewing them, here are the links:

DON’T FORGET ME (Stand-alone Romantic Suspense)

THE MURDER LIST (Dead Men Can Talk book 1)

THE DEAD AND THE LIVING (Dead Men Can Talk book 2)

NO ONE LEFT ALIVE (Dead Men Can Talk book 3)

Resources I used, should you want to make your own trailers, are: Depositphotos – this is a paid service but they have some great videos and photos. Freeimages, which is, as it sounds, a place to download free images. And Pexels.com, which is a goldmine of free videos and photos that can be used for personal and commercial use (as of writing this post).

All the music came from one artist – Kai Engel – downloaded from the Free Music Archive.

You can follow me on Twitter, or visit me on Facebook, both @authorheidic

NEW RELEASE! DON’T FORGET ME!

HOW DO YOU COMPETE WITH A DEAD MAN WHEN YOUR WIFE CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE?

Addison Wright wakes up on a beach with no memory of the last five years of her life. She can’t be married – even though there is a man who claims to be her husband. What does Kelly Durban have to do with the event that left her for dead? And how is it linked to the murder of the man she loves?

A standalone psychological suspense and love story, DON’T FORGET ME is as heartbreaking as it is gripping.

Grab your copy now (US)

Grab your copy now (UK)

 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Quick Fire Questions

Who are the 4 literary guests you would invite to a dinner party?

Margaret Atwood, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe and Aphra Behn.

Who are your main writing influences?

Dan Brown, Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Sylvia Day and Kate Mosse.

Where does your love of writing come from?

My overactive imagination combined with my love of language.

You are an advocate for the use of crystals and essential oils, what are your top 3 of each when it comes to writing?

Oils: Lemon, Rosemary and Basil.

Crystals: Tiger’s eye, Ametrine and Lapis Lazuli.

Describe your writing style in 3 words.

Fast-paced, cinematic, colourful.

What are your 3 top tips for aspiring writers?

Character is everything, even in commercial fiction. Ensure your characters are fully formed and interesting regardless of your genre.

Writing courses can be beneficial, but they can also be a great distraction. Nothing can give you that perfect formula for writing a bestselling book but actually getting a book finished versus thinking about it is definitely a step closer to the desired goal.

Writing is tough. Having a career as a writer is tougher. It requires discipline, hard-work, self-motivation, a touch of obsession, a thick-skin and most of all a real desire to create something you can be proud of. Strive to be the best writer you can be.

Will we be seeing more of Hunter and Jesse soon?

I am working on book 3 in the series as we speak. It should be released soon. Until then, why not read the first book (The Murder List) and the second book (The Dead and the Living).

 

The Top 5 Books I Read in 2017

5. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers by Xiaolu Guo.

Read as part of a reading unit for a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing, this is a novel I wouldn’t normally have picked up but am glad I did. Told from the point of view of Z, a Chinese peasant girl in London to learn English, it is clever, enlightening and although a challenge to read, inspiring. If you get a chance to listen to Guo in an interview then do so, she is candid, brutally honest and will open your eyes.

4. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King.

Even if it wasn’t a collaboration between the king of writing and his son, the cover alone would have attracted me to this novel. What would happen if women disappeared from the world? It is a hefty tome but how can you complain about getting more for your money?

3. The Secret History of The World by Jonathan Black.

This is non-fiction and on my research list for an upcoming series I am developing. It is an interesting look at the beliefs of the ancient mystery schools and more modern secret societies – mystic revelations and esoteric codes that will question what you think you know about the origins of humankind.

2. LOST, the Encyclopedia by Paul Terry and Tara Bennett.

I have learnt from this book that when working on a television series, writers will compile a ‘bible’: a binder full of all the details relevant to the show that can be dipped into for as many series as the show runs for. The LOST Encyclopedia is full of information including timelines and back-stories and has revolutionised the way I organise my projects.

1. Origin, by Dan Brown.

Robert Langdon arrives at the Guggenheim museum to attend the unveiling of a discovery that will change the face of science forever. He ends up on a dangerous quest to unlock the secret.

15 Crystals That Will Help Writers Be More Productive

With the festive season almost upon us I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite gifts to give to that writer in your life. Crystals are beautiful to look at, wonderful to fondle and are suitable for any budget. The perfect item to keep on your desk.

1. AMETRINE: A mix of amethyst and citrine, an AMETRINE crystal will help stimulate creativity, strengthen concentration and support taking control of your own life.

2. AMETHYST: This crystal will help your writer feel less scatter-brained and more in control. It will help improve motivation and goals will become clearer, be more realistic and easier to achieve.

3. AMAZONITE: The stone of courage and truth. AMAZONITE will help writers deal with their fear of judgement, overcome loneliness and be more self-disciplined.

4. BLUE LACE AGATE: The stone of communication. It helps to clarify thoughts and bolster intent regarding what matters most. Permits new methods of self-expression and growth.

5. CITRINE: The ‘success’ stone. CITRINE brings joyful vibrations to the party. Its sunny nature enhances optimism and encourages a more positive outlook. It increases creativity, enhances mental clarity, confidence and willpower. Like AMAZONITE it helps fight the fear of being judged.

6. CARNELIAN: This stone – used by ancient warriors for courage in battle – helps with increasing motivation and endurance. It boosts a listless attitude and helps you find inspiration. I always use it on those days when sitting down at the computer feels like the absolute last thing I want to do. Especially helpful when you reach that act 2 block.

7. FLOURITE: This pretty stone promotes self-confidence, increases concentration and helps in decision-making, great when you’re not sure which path of several your characters are going to take. It blocks electromagnetic stress and so is great to have near your computer.

8. GARNET: Helps with utilising creative energy and finding inspiration. GARNET helps a writer take ownership of their gifts and abilities and work out how to share those gifts with others.

9. LAPIS LAZULI: One of my favourite stones. A gorgeous deep blue colour with flecks of gold. LAPIS LAZULI helps writers create new ideas. As an added bonus it promotes long-lasting recognition in your field.

10. LABRODORITE: Tempers our negative side; the traits which rob us of energy. It energises imagination and brings new ideas. It helps to eliminate the emotional drain of daily routines which is especially relevent when you’re halfway through a novel and need to finish as strongly as you started.

11. MOONSTONE: This stone aids self-expression in artists.

12: PIETERSITE: The Tempest Stone. It increases focus regarding one’s own aim in life. This stone is empowering for creative people who lack confidence in their abilities and so do not earn money from their gifts.

13: RHYOLITE: The stone of perserverence. Promotes forward movement in life. It helps eliminate procrastination.

14: TIGER’S EYE: This stunning stone has bands of gold that glow when the light hits it right. It inspires creativity and can help with clarifying intention. It helps writers to utilise their talents.

15: TURQUOISE HOWLITE: Heightens creativity.

Tumblestones, rings, bracelets, pendants, angels, spheres, skulls, obelisks, eggs, it doesn’t matter what form you choose, a crystal will be a beautiful and beneficial gift for any writer.

THE DEAD AND THE LIVING: Interview 1: Inspiration

HE THOUGHT HE KNEW WHO HE WAS, HE’S ABOUT TO FIND OUT IT’S A LIE.

You are invited to the Obsidian Hotel, an art deco leviathan which sits abandoned on a remote island. Many secrets lay buried within its decaying rooms and at the bottom of the treacherous waters which block it from the mainland. For Hunter Cade though, the invitation comes too late. He’s already there.

When Hunter wakes up inside The Obsidian it quickly becomes clear he is not alone. Determining friend from foe becomes a life or death mission. Because as well as secrets, the hotel has ghosts. Hundreds of them. And for a man like Hunter – a reluctant psychic – a place like The Obsidian Hotel could very well be his undoing.

So what can we expect to find in The Dead and The Living?

You can expect to find a part police procedure, part supernatural horror that takes you on a journey through some pretty twisted minds. The novel is set five months after the events in No Way to Die and delves more deeply into the nature of Hunter’s unwanted abilities. We learn more about his mysterious past, what he can do, and what that might mean for the safety of not only the people trapped in the Obsidian, but for the public at large.

There are a few more viewpoint characters than in the prequel. As well as DI Jesse Rider, tasked with finding the captives, we get to see things through Falon Crowley’s eyes, and also each of the other six people locked in the Obsidian Hotel. I really enjoyed getting into the minds of these diverse characters and it gave me the chance to really make the hotel and its permanent guests come to life.

What inspired you to set The Dead and The Living in a creepy, abandoned hotel?

 My love of creepy, abandoned hotels!

Seriously, I don’t think there are enough films or books set in creepy hotels – (and ghost ships, so expect some kind of Titanic/Mary Celeste setting for one of my novels in the future). It’s one of the reasons I made Falon Crowley an urban explorer because then I had a legitimate reason to put abandoned buildings in my series. I also have a major love of the art deco period. It was an interesting era in terms of aesthetics, but also because of the burgeoning freedom women experienced during the 20’s and 30’s.

Aside from urban exploring, what inspires you?

The work of writers like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell. Good crime thrillers, but also imaginative books and King and Koontz definitely get kudos for their extensive imaginations. TV comic book spin-offs, computer games like Heavy Rain and Resident Evil. Music is also a great source of inspiration.

Not every aspect of writing is creative. I love mind maps and giving myself time to think about the characters and plots, taking all my ideas and throwing them onto a page. Sitting at the computer and banging out word count is more about the craft side than the creative side of writing. It’s more a left brain activity than a right brain activity and so it’s important to build on word count, of course, but then to give yourself time to think – to let what you have written swirl about in your head. This is where inspiration comes from – the time you allow yourself to daydream about a project. It might look to a non-writer like you’re doing nothing, but it is an important aspect of the job.

Hunter Cade is a hot but vulnerable hero. You seem to have an obsession with writing about hot but vulnerable heroes, would you say this is true?

Ab-so-lute-ly!

What makes a great hero – in my eyes – is a man who has some kind of sexual appeal (and I’m not all, ‘they have to be buff and look like models.’ Sexual appeal can come from many areas that aren’t necessarily visual) but who is also flawed, dealing with emotional turmoil (preferably internal, I love writing about internal conflict), and if they aren’t sure how to cope with the challenges they face this is also great. Will Graham from Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon is a great example of a perfect hero and also Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent. The hot part isn’t essential (really??) but what is essential is putting a hero through hell and showing how that hell affects him.

The same can be said for a great heroine. You want a character that has flaws, that has strong emotional reactions to both the good and bad things that happen to them. Plot, in my opinion, comes from character whatever genre of novel you write and so I don’t always start out with the plot – I often times have a character and then follow them through the story as if it already happened and they are allowing me a glimpse into their most hellish experiences. It’s about the intimacy of getting deep inside another person’s thoughts I find exciting.

THE DEAD AND THE LIVING is available to purchase in eBook and paperback formats from AMAZON.

THE DEAD AND THE LIVING (Dead Men Can Talk Book 2), Released!

JUST RELEASED! The latest novel in the Dead Men Can Talk Series

HE THOUGHT HE KNEW WHO HE WAS, HE’S ABOUT TO FIND OUT IT’S A LIE

You are invited to the Obsidian Hotel, an art deco leviathan which sits abandoned on a remote island off the Pembrokeshire coast. Many secrets lie within its decaying rooms and at the bottom of the treacherous waters which block it from the mainland. For Hunter Cade though, the invitation comes too late. He’s already there. And it quickly becomes clear, he is not alone.

Eight people have been kidnapped and brought to the hotel, their purpose, to be the next subjects in a deadly paranormal experiment. Determining friend from foe will be a life or death mission. Becasue as well as secrets, the hotel has ghosts. Hundreds of them. And for a man like Hunter – a reluctant psychic – a place like the Obsidian Hotel could well be his undoing.

For fans of psychological suspense, police procedures and horror novels, Book 2 in the Dead Men Can Talk series is an unnerving descent into a madman’s deadly agenda… Will anyone survive the night?

Grab your copy now (US)

Grab your copy now (UK)

 

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