Brainstorming Sisters!

 

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Have you ever noticed that when something stalls in one area of your life, it affects everything else?

This was what had been happening in our house for over a week, so my sister, Anita decided that we should have one of our brainstorming sessions this morning. Something we do now and then which usually benefits either my book or hers.

Only this time, it was me, the writer, that was being brainstormed because I was on the verge of a major meltdown over my current WIP.

Somehow, the conversation became all about how I write. The genre, the characters and the way I think about everything. She knew I had been having trouble and had some definite ideas about improving it.

Now, although I usually hate my work being criticised, I have to bow to her greater ability as a writer. She never struggles with plots or character problems, just gets on with it. Her characters don’t argue with her either, and I have always considered that a good sign! She can write more in one day than I can in a week.

So I allow her to say what’s on her mind, not that I have ever been able to stop her! But, all joking aside, she has been a great help to me over the years. The reason I can call myself a writer has a lot to do with the example she sets.

I think she is a natural writer. She doesn’t have to think about it or worry constantly about the plot. Whereas I do. I don’t find the writing process easy at all and this morning I may have discovered why.

I hadn’t really thought about my protagonist at all, thinking the antagonist, or serial killer was all important. That somehow everything would simply revolve around him, which I now realise is not the way to go about it.

I had been digging myself into a dark hole, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, so I needed to sort the problem out, and fast!

Brainstorming with Anita can be a dangerous venture, as neither of us accepts criticism well. But when you are wedged between the proverbial rock and a hard place, you have to do something about it…

Sometime later, after harsh words, temper, tears and finally realisation, (all from me, BTW ) it was agreed that I hadn’t lost the magic, it was a temporary lapse, something that could be fixed. Finding another way of approaching the problem may be the way to go, and maybe a rewrite. Or another story all together…

 

If you don’t hear from me again, it means I have walked into the sea…

 

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Creating Lives

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Looking back at the books I have written, it suddenly struck me just how powerful being a writer really is. Not only do we create complex characters and their lives, we control everything that happens to them. And we seem to do all of this without compulsion or regard for their feelings.

This is what I understood when I started out. The first time I had a stand up fight with one of my characters, it literally blew me away. She had a valid argument too, and I was forced to listen and then to change my plans for her. This character continued to be demanding through two more books. Even now, she fully expects to be in my next book.

It is tempting too, but I think I have used up all her potential and have declined. It is quite special, I think, when a character does this, proof positive if you like, that you have successfully created a living, breathing and believable person.

The reverse of this coin is more complex. Antagonists, or the less than savoury characters, are harder to make real, mainly because you want them to be larger than life, worse than anyone you ever met. Keeping them believable isn’t easy at all. I always imagined they could cause me trouble, if I made them too bad.

But so far they have behaved themselves, so maybe I didn’t make them bad enough.

Right now, I am in the process of creating a new bunch of people, and I love every minute of it. The genre is yet undecided. I like to find my people first, and then we learn what their story could be.

The people I create tend to be composites’ of people I know, and that goes for the bad as well as the good. It helps, I think, to know how a person behaved in certain circumstances, especially when you have personally witnessed all the mistake they made!

Our Review of Password (Nightforce Book 1) by Staci Troilo #Mystery Thriller

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Some passwords protect more than just secrets.

Danny Caruso was glad to be back in the United States, back to his regular job. Back to his comfortable routine of all work and no play. But when his friend Mac asks a favor of him, he can’t refuse. He owes the guy everything. So he accepts the job, even though it means a twenty-four/seven protection detail guarding a particularly exacerbating—and beautiful—woman.

Braelyn Edwards is careful to stay out of the spotlight, preferring to hide in the background and skip the trappings of a vibrant social life. But her privacy is threatened when there’s an attempt on her life and a bodyguard is foisted on her. Compounding problems? He doesn’t just want to protect her. He wants to investigate every detail of her life, starting with her top-secret job.

Danny casts his sights on Charlie Park, her co-worker, her partner… the one man who knows all Braelyn’s secrets. She’s frustrated by the distrust until she realizes jealousy fuels Danny’s suspicions as much as instinct and proof. One of them is right about Charlie—but by the time they figure it out, it may be too late to save their relationship. And Braelyn’s life.


Our Review

Password is my first Staci Troilo book, so wasn’t sure what I would think of it.

I needn’t have worried.

There was brilliant scene-setting throughout, with interesting and vibrant characters, all wrapped up in a totally realistic and believable scenario.

Braelyn Edwards first struck me as an ordinary working girl, hardly someone who would need a bodyguard. But someone had attacked her, so she could be hiding a secret.  Danny Caruso has trouble believing she is innocent too, although she seems so ordinary. He is convinced she had to be mistaken for somebody else.

She mysteriously denies knowing of any reason for the attack, and this is when their incredibly fast-paced banter begins. The chemistry between them fizzles with electricity, and I ended up enamoured by the two of them to such an extent that I forgot all about the plot. I just wanted to watch and listen to the two of them together. I suspect we are seeing the birth of a relationship that will sell a lot of books!

The ending was unexpected, with a very clever twist I didn’t see coming.

Staci Troilo has created two masterful characters for this first book in the series, roll on the next one!

Excerpt from Password

Danny blew out the candles then wrapped a towel around his waist. He surveyed the room by the light coming in from the bedroom. Half the water had splashed out of the tub and pooled on the tile floor.

 “Seems we made a mess.”

“It’ll clean easily enough.” Braelyn yanked the towel off him and dropped it on the floor, then she used her foot to sop up some of the soapy puddles.

“And why is it I’m standing here naked but you still have your towel?”

“I have more to cover.”

 “That’s not a logical argument.”

 She shrugged. “Okay. I’d rather look at you than me.”

He grinned and reached for her towel. “But I’d rather look at you.”

Braelyn danced out of the way. “Sorry. Besides, if someone out there is going to play Peeping Tom, I’d prefer they peep you.”

He stooped down and gathered the discarded clothes. Both his and hers were wet from the water that had sloshed out of the tub, so he didn’t bother suggesting either of them dress. Things were more fun when they were naked, anyway.

“Speaking of, we need to get away from the windows and back to the closet.”

 “Race you!” She dashed out of the room. Danny smiled and gave chase. They spent the rest of the night on the air mattress in the closet, exploring each other’s bodies until they fell into restful sleep, their arms and legs entwined in a sensual embrace. He woke naked and warm with a smile on his face. First time that had happened in… longer than he could count. The smile part, anyway. His phone beeped, signaling a text, and he rolled away to retrieve it from the floor. He glanced at the message and swore under his breath.

Braelyn stirred when he pulled away. Sat when he cursed under his breath. “What’s going on?” Her hair was mussed, her eyes only half-opened. She yawned, stretched, and wrapped the sheet around her while she waited for his answer. She’d never looked better to him. All the more reason to enjoy the moment while it lasted, which would only be a few more seconds. When he told her what he’d just learned, the serene expression on her face would be gone.

Amazon Link:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Password-Nightforce-Book-Staci-Troilo-ebook/dp/B0792NPVBZ

 

 

 

Reblogging, is it really a good idea?

 

 

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We have been with WordPress for years now and always been happy with the facilities, once I had mastered them, of course!

Early last year, I had to upgrade our account in order to gain more media space. At the time, this seemed reasonable.

Imagine my surprise when it happened again yesterday. For a few minutes, I couldn’t believe we had run out of space again. Something had to be wrong.

I duly checked, only to discover it was true. If we wanted to use any more images, we would have to pay up.

When we first started blogging, I understood that this particular WordPress was free, but it wasn’t long before the costs crept in. First, it was the domain, then the first upgrade. We were still happy at that stage, for £30 a year isn’t much for a decent website.

This latest upgrade has shunted us up to nearly £70 a year, although to be fair it looks as though we are getting more for our money this time. I did wonder what it would lead to and why we seemed to have so many stored images, many of which were ones I hadn’t used?

It took me a while to understand why all these images were among our own, and that we were, in fact, paying for the privilege of having them on our site, by way of reblogging.

Now, we do a lot of reblogging. Sharing is something we have always done, right from the start. If I read something interesting or informative, I love to share it and spread the word. This is how the good stuff finds more people and can actually make the world a better place.

So, is it a good idea to reblog so much?

Will it be good enough to simply like and use the share buttons?

I have recently been reading about how you can reduce your image footprint by altering the size of your images, thereby not using so much of your valuable storage space. But what about other people’s images? We can hardly alter any of those.

If we do have to cut down on the reblogging, we will not stop sharing. But we would be interested to hear any feedback on this…

Our Review of Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree #Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction @Lizzie_Chantree

I know we have posted this before, but today is the official Launch Day, so we are doing it again!!!

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Book Title: Ninja School Mum

Author: Lizzie Chantree

Release Date: 30th January 2018

Genre: Chick Lit / Women’s Fiction

Book link: viewBook.at/NinjaSchoolMum

Book blurb:

Obsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

 

Tour dates and details:

Crooked Cat is releasing Ninja School Mum on the 30th January 2018. The tour for the launch will run pre-release from 9th-29th January and then the release date onwards from 30th January-3rd February 2018. Thank you to everyone involved in the tour, for taking part and being part of the #NinjaSchoolMum tour team.

Our Review

This book opens with a typical mum, Skye, waiting at the school gates for her little boy, Leo.

Thea, another mother, is waiting there too, but that is where the similarity ends. She has a child and is secretive about her past.

By the end of chapter four, I discover that Skye is not who she claims to be either, something to do with the death of her husband Reece.

As they become friends, we gradually begin to learn more about these two women, but something doesn’t add up, what are they not telling us or each other?

The book seems to concentrate on Skye as the main character, but I was already guessing she might not be the only one. This mysterious element winds its way around everyone, creating a lovely guessing game. Even when bits of the truth are revealed, your mind refuses to believe them at first.

This book has everything, mystery, danger and humour. The relationship between the two women was believable and well written, as was the love affair between Skye and Zack.

This story moves smoothly between all these fascinating characters, as they evade the truth like experts, always managing to keep back important details.

A complex and compelling style of writing from Lizzie Chantree, I will be reading much more of her work!

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Biography

Award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now runs networking hours on social media, where creative businesses, writers, photographers and designers can offer advice and support to each other. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

Contact Lizzie

Website: www.lizziechantree.com
Author page: viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizzie.chantree.3
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizzie_chantree/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LizzieChantree/pins/

 

Update for Broken Life #MysteryThriller by Jaye Marie

Once upon a time, Jaye fell out of love with the cover and title for the third book in her #mysterythriller book Broken Life. And if you know her at all, you will know this happens a lot.

So, after much deliberation, we went from…

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We both love the new version, and hopefully, it will not need to be changed again!

CrossFire is now available on Amazon here, and the paperback is on its way!


Book Description:

DI David Snow has a serial killer to catch, a killer as mysterious as the crimes he commits.

Snow is due to retire, but not before he discovers why someone killed his sergeant and is now coming after him.

The killer seems to have a personal vendetta against Snow, but he is determined that no one else should die because of him. His efforts are hampered by the arrival of a new sergeant, ‘ruthless’ Ruth Winton, for she is not what she seems. Alarm bells start to ring when Snow realises she is after more than just his job.


Book Excerpt:

‘Do you know why we have brought you here today, Ann?’

Ruth thought she would ease her way in, rather than accuse her straight off, for triggering any hostility wouldn’t get them anywhere.

The woman stared at Ruth, her pale, colourless eyes searching for clues. ‘Nah… but I ‘spect you’ll get to it pretty quick…’

Ruth indicated a brown paper bag on the table beside her. ‘We found a pair of work boots at your house, Ann. According to your husband, they’re not his. Are they yours?’

Ann Taylor glared at Ruth. She seemed to be enjoying the interview, her arrogance showing through the previous nervousness. ‘Dunno, can’t see them can I?’

Ruth undid the bag and placed the dirty boots on the table. Most of the mud had dried and fallen off, but still didn’t seem like the kind of boot a woman would wear. ‘Are these your boots, Ann?’

Without looking at the boots, she shook her head. ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’

Ruth looked at Snow, but not for confirmation. She wondered why he was choosing to stay silent. What was the point of sitting in if he wasn’t going to contribute? Not that she cared, one way or the other. She had only looked at him to signify inclusion.

She looked back at the woman. ‘Are you quite sure, Ann?’

The woman shrugged her shoulders and refused to speak.

‘For the benefit of the tape, Ann Taylor has refused to answer.’

Ruth decided to read out the coroner’s report, detailing every bruise and damage to the child’s body. When she read the part about the boot imprint on the child’s back, she slid the photograph across the table in front of the mother.

‘Did you do this, Ann?’

When the woman didn’t answer, Ruth decided it was time to play the ace card, and she looked forward to it. This cold-hearted bitch of a woman was about to be arrested, but not before Ruth had enjoyed herself. ‘Are you aware that the person who wore these boots would have left significant DNA inside them?’

Ruth paused, watching as the realisation sunk in.  ‘And are you also aware that we have tested your DNA and it has been proved that you are the owner of these boots?’

The fear and shame were beginning to show on the woman’s face, and Ruth watched, wondering what she would do now. She didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Ann Taylor’s face seemed to implode, as the terror of being found out took effect.  ‘I swear I don’t remember that part… I know I were angry, but when she fell over and banged her head, I thought she was dead…’

‘So what did you do then, Ann?’ Ruth knew what had happened next, but not which one of them had done it.  ‘Were you aware that Amy was still alive when you dropped her into the canal?’

The horror was all-encompassing, as the woman realised the enormity of what she had done. She looked around the room, just once, before she started screaming…


Jaye is working on updating Book Two, The Last Life as we speak, so watch this space for another new cover!

 

Release day for Lazy Days is nearly here!

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The nerves are setting in and I will probably be a wreck by Monday.

I just hope I have done this amazing (and illustrated) little book justice and that I haven’t forgotten anything crucial!

Have I mentioned that we are having a party over on Facebook for the length of the tour?

There will be all the usual refreshments for our visitors, plenty of free books and a book quiz to test your memory. Finishing up with a £5 gift voucher for the best participant!

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A quote every day, both on Facebookand this blog… get it right and win a digital copy of Lazy Days!


Book Description

This travelogue is the true story of our family’s first proper holiday back in the Seventies. Looking back, I wonder what made us think it was a good idea, but despite all the things that could have gone wrong, we had a fantastic time. I was the Skipper most of the time, and for some reason decided to record our adventures in a small notebook. We were young and without husbands, Anita was a widow, and I was glad to be rid of mine. (and that is another story) Money was precious and scarce back then, but all the saving and sacrifice turned out to be worth every single memory we all cherish.

This notebook has been treasured and kept safe, despite numerous house moves and family disasters, as a symbol of our courage and determination. Renting a boat on the Norfolk Broads could so easily have been one of the stupidest things we had ever done, but even after 40 years, we have such good memories of that time.

Over the years, we often thought of making it into a proper book, but along with everything else in our often-complicated family life, it was something we never got around to. Until just recently, when I was looking for some old photographs, found the now fragile notebook and knew it was time.

It wasn’t as easy as we imagined it would be either, for our logbook writing skills left a lot to be desired, but there was just enough information entered on those pages to get us started.

Hope to see you all on Monday!