Writerly Round-Up: June 2019
Here we are, nearing the end of June; and although it only seems like yesterday when we were all stuffing ourselves with chocolates in front of the Christmas tree – no? just me, then – the year is half over. We’ve passed the longest day and as someone always says at this time of the year, the nights are drawing in and we’re on our way downhill to winter once more! But as the weather appears to be improving in UK after a decidedly unseasonable spell, I’m going to work on the basis that summer’s only just starting, and am looking forward to several more months of long warm days and balmy nights before we have to start worrying about getting our winter woollies out again. Always the optimist, me. But, whatever the weather, there’s always writing and reading…
Writing In June
I’ve had a really productive month on the writing front. Feedback on The Business of Writing 4 Independent Publishing from my beta readers was positive, with some constructive suggestions for improvements. These have all been made, the final edit is finished, and the manuscript is currently being proofread. By this time next month, I expect to have the release details finalised and the pre-order page set up.
I’ve written several blog posts and other bits and pieces of non-fiction; but more importantly, I’ve gone back to my fiction roots and started writing short stories again. And I’m having so much fun.
Sales and Marketing
I’ve applied for a couple of Bookbub Featured Deals this month – and had both declined. But since these deals are like hens’ teeth, I will keep trying, until one day they say yes. I’ve also been working my way through the Ads for Authors training modules, trying to get my head around recent changes in the opportunities presented by Amazon Ads. It’s a big scary world out there in paid advertising, and apart from a couple of instances of dipping my toes into the water and retreating immediately in fright, I’ve not done anything. But very soon, I shall be ready to take the plunge. (You can probably tell from the analogy that I’ve been spending a lot of time swimming recently.)
I’ve nearly finished the book on Russian mythology, which is fascinating and has given me lots of ideas. Although I am beginning to think I should abandon the plan for a hugely complex time slip novel, which would be really hard work, and write a series of interconnected short stories instead. I’ll let you know which way it’s going when I work it out for myself.
After concentrating on non-writerly stuff for most of May, I was able to keep the distractions at bay this month. But I did carry out a thorough review of all my commitments and made a couple of tough decisions. I’m stepping down from Red Earth Opera and will be an enthusiastic member of the audience for their autumn production, rather than spending two afternoons a week for nearly three months for rehearsals. And, even more difficult, I’m stepping down from the committee of Chudleigh Writers’ Circle after ten years. It’s going to be difficult to start with being an ordinary member – rather like a certain Government Leader who will be heading for the back benches very soon – but it’s better for my time management and it will certainly be better for CWC. Every organisation needs new blood from time to time, or it gets stale.
Tickets for Chudleigh Literary Festival, on Wednesday 10th July, are selling well. But we still have plenty of room for anyone who wants to join us for the History Writing workshop with Professor Todd Gray; for the writers’ networking session in the afternoon; or for the evening speakers: Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones (aka The Black Farmer) and writer of historical fiction, Michael Jecks. You can find all the details on our website and download the booking form by clicking here. The entry period for Face The Chudleigh Dragons has now closed and the short-listed authors will be announced next week.
The programme for the Exeter Literary Festival in November continues to develop well. Confirmed speakers so far include Patrick Gale, Adam Hart-Davis, Alison Weir, Helen Fry, Isabella Tree and Sarah Turner. and the website is being updated as details are confirmed. The short story competition closes at the end of July, so there’s still plenty of time to get your entries in. There are three categories, covering all age groups including children. Do check it out and consider entering if you are a writer of short stories.
Writers Are Readers Too
I’ve been doing a huge amount of reading this month. And three books in particular have really grabbed me. I couldn’t decide which one I preferred, so I’m going to tell you about all of them. And they’re in the same genre, crime fiction. It’s a very busy marketplace and therefore difficult to stand out from the crowd. But all three of these books do so in one way or another.
The first is The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler. It deals with how different people react to the suspicion that someone close to them is a murderer. Here’s the review I posted after reading it:
There’s a serial killer on the loose; the police are baffled. But someone close to him must know who he is. And several people gradually come to believe they have the answer. I have always enjoyed Terry Tyler’s writing; this is definitely the best one of hers I have read. A series of seemingly standalone stories, each centring around a different man and someone close to him who believes he is the killer. The writing is skillful; and the characters well-developed. Each time I read a new chapter, I changed my mind about who the killer really was. A riveting read which kept me guessing to the end. Highly recommended.
The second is Pieces of Death by Jack Lynch. For me, the part that stood out was the lack of cliche around the central character. Here’s my review:
Peter Bragg is a rarity: an honest private detective without any obvious flaws or shady history. But he’s having a bad week. The client he is contracted to protect is gunned down in the airport arrivals hall. And from there, it just goes downhill. Pieces of Death is an easy read, really page-turning, with a complex plot and many twists and turns. I suspected everyone of being the baddie; and was mostly wrong in my guesses. This is the first Jack Lynch book I have read; and it’s the third Bragg story. I will definitely be going back to the beginning of the series and reading more.
And finally, The Puppet Show by M W Craven. This wasn’t the first of Craven’s books I’ve read and to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed last time. But he now appears to have a new publisher, a new persona, using his initials rather than his first name, and boy, is there a difference in his writing. Here’s my review:
When a serial killer carves Washington Poe’s name on the body of his third victim, the disgraced detective is brought back into active service to help with the investigation. But the body count continues to rise. This is a fairly well-trodden path in crime novels: a flawed detective who plays by his own rules in order to get his man. But it’s a great addition to the genre. This is a complex book, and there were a couple of points where I had to reread something to make sure I understood what was going on. But the ending is as satisfying as it is unexpected. And as for the young analyst, Tilly Baldwin, she is such a great character. I hope she finds her way into more of the series. A great read; and one I’m happy to recommend to other lovers of detective fiction.