“Grit Lit” ~ Ah-ha!

On an Arte Umbria writing course in Italy I heard the term “Grit Lit” for the first time and had an ah-ha moment.

Deciding what genre a book belongs in can be quite hard and reminds me of the 60’s song Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds. There was a lot of squeezing involved to get them to “all look just the same”. Once Removed never seemed an easy fit with any of the usual categories but grit lit sounds glove-like. It makes me think of ‘gritty northern’ dramas, stories of real people surviving tough situations in no-nonsense OR cover 3ways and coming out the other side stronger.

Once Removed’s new cover is a much better fit, too. Of course self-harm is a dark subject but this book is so much more than that. There’s colour and caring, risk and romance, daring and disaster.

A gift

Deep down in my secret self I wanted my books, or someone else at least, to sell

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One of the “classrooms” at Arte Umbria

themselves. Like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, I love to sink, undisturbed, into the depths of my work in progress. I do not like to talk about or sell myself or my books.

 

My first book, A Life Less Lost, came out in paperback. I was just beginning to give successful talks without having to lie in a darkened room for hours afterwards, when my second book, Once Removed, came out as an ebook. Being slow to grasp a whole new set of promotional skills, impacted on sales and self-confidence. Several false starts on the next book left me paralysed by doubt in my ability to write. And why would I want to, if it meant I had to face the marketing challenges that came with completion?

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Mealtimes on the terrace

I tried to fill the void with other things but the ache wouldn’t stop howling. Then as a very special birthday present (for one of those with a zero in it) I was given the chance of a writing holiday in Italy! WOW, I know, I couldn’t believe it.

Arte Umbria, about half an hour from Perugia, up in the hills provided an exquisite venue, Sue Moorcroft provided the tuition and the other members of the course gave endless encouragement and fun. The result? I’m writing again! Full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm. Watch this space…

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Thank you everyone!

Paranormal anyone?

I asked Shani Struthers, fellow Crooked Cat author, what drew her to her favourite genre and this is what she said ~

Shani PicFor as long as I can remember the paranormal has fascinated me. Even as a child I preferred darker stories and devoured Ruth Manning-Saunders’ twisted fairytales. I also had a strong stomach for horror films and loved nothing more than cosying up with my family to watch a scary movie on the TV – it was seen as something fun in our house! Although I kick-started my writing career in the romance genre, I quickly switched to paranormal as it’s where my heart truly lies. I’ve also had a lot of knowledge passed down to me from my mother who has a life-long intellectual interest in the Occult, so in a way I’ve grown up with the paranormal all around me. It simply makes sense to me that there’s a spiritual world as well as a material one. Regarding fellow paranormal authors, I’m inspired by Shirley Jackson, Susan Hill, Stephen King and Dean Koontz – all writers I aspire to rank alongside one day!

Shani’s latest book, Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street, comes out on Friday, 27th May.YES2-2

“We all have to face our demons at some point.”

Psychic Surveys – specialists in domestic spiritual clearance – have never been busier. Although exhausted, Ruby is pleased. Her track record as well as her down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach inspires faith in the haunted, who willingly call on her high street consultancy when the supernatural takes hold.

But that’s all about to change.

Two cases prove trying: 44 Gilmore Street, home to a particularly violent spirit, and the reincarnation case of Elisha Grey. When Gilmore Street attracts press attention, matters quickly deteriorate. Dubbed the ‘New Enfield’, the ‘Ghost of Gilmore Street’ inflames public imagination, but as Ruby and the team fail repeatedly to evict the entity, faith in them wavers.

Dealing with negative press, the strangeness surrounding Elisha, and a spirit that’s becoming increasingly territorial, Ruby’s at breaking point. So much is pushing her towards the abyss, not least her own past. It seems some demons just won’t let go…

Gilmore multi

Bio

I write ghost stories – vampires, werewolves and shape shifters need not apply! Influences include the great Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’m also a mum of three children, and live in the funky city of Brighton with them, my husband and four mad cats. I’ve always loved reading and writing but occasionally I venture outdoors on sunny days and walk in the stunning green downs that surround us. Other pastimes include hanging out with friends and just having fun – life’s too short not to.

Buy Links

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

UK http://tinyurl.com/jobnwoo

US http://tinyurl.com/j6jvev5

Social Media Links

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: http://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

Website: http://www.shanistruthers.com

 

 

 

Revolution Inspiration

I’m delighted to welcome my friend, TE Taylor, author of two brilliant books, Zeus of Ithome and T E TaylorRevolution Day.

Hi Kimm, it’s a great pleasure to visit your blog today. I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about what inspired me to write my latest novel, Revolution Day.

I’d had in my head for some time a vague idea of writing a novel about an old man who has had great power but is starting to lose his grip. Originally I envisaged him as a king, with flowing robes and long white hair, but the idea never really got any further and I thought that, like most ideas, it would never come to anything.

Muammar_al-Gaddafi_at_the_AU_summitThen, in 2011 and 2012 a string of autocratic leaders fell one after the other during the ‘Arab Spring’, beginning with Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and including such notorious figures as Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi, who had once seemed unassailable. It occurred to me that my old man losing his grip on power could be a dictator instead of a king, giving my vague idea a context and making it relevant to the present day.

Augusto_Pinochet  Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional.

Augusto_Pinochet Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional.

One idea quickly led to another, and another. I was interested not so much in the specific context of the Arab Spring, but in the timeless issues it raises about the effects of power and its ultimate fragility. Other dictators, such as Pinochet and Ceaucescu, also came to mind. My dictator would not be based upon any particular individual. I would avoid the stereotypes: he would not be a monster or brutal strongman but an ordinary person, initially idealistic and genuinely wanting to do good, but forced by circumstances to compromise on his ideals and gradually desensitised to repression as he clings on to power in the delusion that he alone can be trusted to wield it.

As the ideas started to coalesce, I realised I needed a way to give the long view of my dictator’s rise to power and his descent into autocracy as well as telling a real-time story in the present day. I decided that his estranged wife would be writing a memoir, which could be interleaved with the main narrative. Perhaps she could be a former colleague too, with an insider’s understanding of the regime? That suggested Latin America (with its long history of dictators) rather than the middle east. And I needed an antagonist – someone with a more straightforward desire for power unencumbered by idealism. Another colleague, who resents the dictator’s pre-eminence and is eager to exploit his weakness. Not strong enough simply to seize power by force, he will have to pursue it by more devious means, manipulating the perceptions of the dictator and those around him to undermine his position. Thus my central characters, Carlos, Juanita and Manuel, were born.
Revolution DayOne day, during a writing exercise at Holmfirth Writers Group, I wrote what would become the opening scene of Revolution Day, and simply carried on from there. The rest is – well, not history, exactly, but undoubtedly inspired by it, however indirectly.

Revolution Day can be purchased from Amazon by following this link : Revolution Day 

Or from Smashwords via this link: Revolution Day smash words

Kindness Shared

To write a novel you have to be comfortable alone inside your head for long periods of time. However, to promote a novel you have to be socially active for long periods of time and acquire a whole new set of skills. There lies the challenge.

Maria Savva was one of the first people to help me on my way, when my memoir, A Life Less Lost, was ready to publish. I’d never met her before and only know her via social networks but she promoted my book and offered advice and suggestions for other things I could try, like joining Goodreads. She also promoted my second book, Once Removed. Her kindnesses provided encouragement as well as practical help.

a time to tellNow it’s my turn. Maria’s latest book, A Time To Tell, will soon be available to purchase in paperback on Amazon.com, Amazon UK and other online retailers. It’s on Lulu in paperback. The Kindle version is on pre-sale at the moment: release date 14th October.
To see her video trailer click here: A Time to Tell, by Maria Savva
Here are the links:
Paperback:
Kindle:

Contemporary Freedom

ccnancyjardineToday my friend and fellow Crooked Cat author Nancy Jardine talks about genre in relation to her writing. I’m not entirely sure I agree with everything she’s said so look forward to your comments.

Hello Kim, thank you for inviting me to return to your blog. It’s lovely to pop back to see you.

Some authors quickly find their writing niche and stick with it. It may be that they feel more comfortable with writing political thrillers and that’s the only genre they keep writing in. Or, they only write gritty police procedural novels. Or, maybe they only write historical romances. Many of them are highly successful and their readers are content because they know what to expect from those authors—readers who only want the predictable.

It’s a sad fact of life that other authors who want to challenge readers, or who want to encourage them to appreciate something different in genre or across genres, find their work doesn’t sell well.

The truly mercenary author, I think, finds what genre or ‘fad’ is selling and rides along the crest of that wave—whether or not they enjoy what they’re creating.

I’m still a bit ambivalent regarding my genre comfort zone and I can’t bring myself to be one of those ‘one eye on the profits only’ mercenary type of author.

I love writing my historically based adventures but I’ve also found that writing my contemporary mysteries has given me a sense of freedom. The freedom is directly related to the fact that I don’t need to do so much research since I’m more familiar with the contemporary life my characters might have, or if their lifestyle is quite fanciful, I can find examples of sufficient similar celebrity lifestyles on the internet to make the scenario believable.

When I started to write Take Me Now, my latest Crooked Cat published contemporary mystery novel, I decided to make my TMNx1000main male character Nairn Malcolm an unusual Scottish highland hero. My Nairn was going to be just as charismatic and sword wielding as many of the current highland heroes that can be found in romance novels set in Scotland, but instead of making him a Jacobite, or a medieval hero, I chose to create a contemporary Nairn. I also purposely chose not to create a time shift character, there being plenty of that type of novel available on the market.

Since the story is a romance mystery, I made Nairn a bit more larger than life, yet not the typical hero image at the outset. Though he’s normally the quintessential alpha male, my main female character Aela Cameron finds he’s not at his best when she first meets him. The swooning over my gorgeous highland hero is temporarily delayed since poor Nairn has been the subject of a rather nasty and mysterious motorbike accident. And so begins the fun of the book but also the mystery begins because although I wanted to write an almost ‘tongue in cheek’ version of a highland hero, I also wanted and needed to create a sound mystery plot.

The contemporary freedom for me was also creating amusing dialogue between those main protagonists. Some of the best fun during the writing was during scenes when my strong secondary character Ruaridh Malcolm, Nairn’s father, stirred up some mischief.

If I were asked if Take Me Now is similar to my other writing, I’d have to say no it isn’t because as an author I really tried something different.

Take Me Now is available in ebook formats from Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1QbhUwn ; US http://amzn.to/1MdeuCU ; Smashwords; B&N; and other ebook stores.

Nancy Jardine writes: historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time -Travel Series –Book 1 The Taexali Game).

Find Nancy at the following places-

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com Website: http://nancyjardineauthor.com Facebook LinkedIN   About Me   Goodreads Twitter @nansjar  Google+ (Nancy Jardine)   YouTube book trailer videos   Amazon UK author page   Rubidium Time Travel Series on Facebook http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG

Antidote to Ebook rip offs

kindle I love my Kindle. It’s small and light, easily fitting in my handbag, yet can hold zillions (OK, slight exaggeration) of books. It doesn’t slam shut while I eat my breakfast. The wind can’t ruffle the pages while I walk my dog. My new Kindle (I wore out my first) is illuminated so I can read in bed or the car, without disturbing my partner.

Until recently, ebooks were significantly cheaper than their paper siblings. For someone who reads in excess of 50 books a year, that’s important. **Note: I do support my library when possible but it’s not always practical. Recently, several ebooks by my favourite authors have been as expensive (or even more) than the paperback of the same title.

The outrageous fact that we have to pay VAT on ebooks but not paper or hardbacks doesn’t account for this because, of course, it’s based on the asking price.

Ebooks cost the publisher and the environment a tiny fraction of the expense of producing a paper version. Think of the trees that have to be cut then transported to a paper factory then on totrees the printer. The finished book then has to be driven to a distributor, stored in a warehouse, then taken to the shop. The reader has to travel to the shop or have a man-with-a-van deliver it to their home. That’s a great deal of manpower and resources, in other words expense.

Electronically produced and distributed direct to your device without any travel, storage or paper at all, there is very little risk or cost in the production of ebooks.

It seems the publishers are using their inflated price ebooks to prop up the unprofitable paper based side of their business. This is neither fair or sensible. Not only do they receive much less, if anything, from the sale of each paperback but those same books can then be shared easily amongst many friends before being donated to a charity where even more people can read it without a penny going to the publisher or author.

Paperbacks did not spell the end of hardbacks, as predicted, and they will not disappear in the face of ebooks but digital formats should not be used to artificially support the others.

11870800_945960492114414_3868054758535637395_nThe good news ~ the antidote ~ comes in the form of independent publishers like Crooked Cat. They are cutting-edge, well edited books featuring new authors and exciting, sometimes less conventional plots. With almost 200 titles across a wide range of genres there’s something for everyone. Their books are always reasonably priced but this week they’re running a sale with most titles available for 99p/99c! Just type Crooked Cat Books in the Amazon search bar and you’ll find 10 pages of books to choose from. I’ve bought 15 for less than the cost of two rip-off titles and am looking forward to many hours of pleasure.

My novel, Once Removed, is in the sale so please check it out. And remember11855855_10205964734250158_1712845661173886856_n

 

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