The discounts run until 1st June 2017 and the freebies until Friday 2nd June 2017, s0 what are you waiting for? Go and grab yourself some great deals!
It's my birthday this week so I’m having a book sale! Hop over to my Amazon page for great discounts and freebies! http://amzn.to/2hIR4k4
The discounts run until 1st June 2017 and the freebies until Friday 2nd June 2017, s0 what are you waiting for? Go and grab yourself some great deals!
I’m pleased to announce the release of my new book, The Lookout, which is now available on Amazon (you can click on the picture to follow the link).
This story is longer and a little darker than my usual stories and marks the beginning of a new series with Eden Reid. The story is set in the bleak Suffolk coast in winter, which you’d think would be a safe place, away from the bustling summertime crowds. Think again.
Tom Briggs is a talented triathlete and freelance sports reporter, and he’s missing.
Armed with only the increasingly disturbing emails he left behind, Eden Reid has been sent to track him down. She soon discovers that separating fact from fiction is not easy and the events leading up to his disappearance draw her into the dark world of a psychopath.
Three sisters living in an isolated cottage may hold the key to what happened, but they are hiding from a tragic past of their own. As their fragile existence begins to unravel, their family ties are tested to the limit.
When people find out I’m a writer, they often say to me that they’d love to write but they just don’t know where to start. Sometimes they have an idea for a story but don’t know how
to go about telling it, sometimes they are the story - they want to write about something interesting that’s happened to them in their lives, but again they don’t know where to begin. I thought I’d go talk about some of the barriers that people have told me stand in their way
and offer my thoughts on how to overcome them.
Read and Write
Sounds obvious, but it’s a good idea to read as much as possible, especially in the genre(s) that you want to write in and also practice your writing. By reading, you will be learning how other writers tell a story and you will also be constantly expanding your vocabulary, which will you help you to tell your story more effectively. With regular writing, you will find newer and better ways of describing people, places, thoughts and feelings. Imagination
might be something we are either blessed with or not, but writing is a skill that we can learn and constantly improve. You wouldn’t pick up a random musical instrument and attempt to perform in front of a crowd and it’s no different with writing. Writing improves dramatically with regular practice. Don’t be disheartened by early attempts, just keep practising.
But how do you actually tell a story?
You need at least three things:
A plot - what happens
A setting - where it happens
Characters - who it happens to.
Have you ever been out somewhere and someone is telling a funny story or a joke and you find yourself gripped and laughing in anticipation at the outcome? That is an example of a good story teller. They have the plot - what is going to happen - a setting, and characters, and they tell it in such a way that it grips your imagination and has you trying to guess what
happens next. If you have your story idea, you already have your basic plot. Now you need to come up with the best way of telling it. Like I said before, I think the best idea is to practice at writing. Try to write a little something every day. Write about the weather if you
like - but don’t just say it was raining. Describe the rain, how it moved the trees or how puddles formed and delighted the passing school children. And tomorrow, if it’s still raining, describe it differently.
Setting the scene - remember all your senses
An easy mistake to make is to just describe what you see. To make your story real, you need
to describe all your relevant senses - what you can hear, what you are touching, taste, smell and how you (or your characters) feel.
Imagine your character has just driven to the beach, describe what it was like to someone who hasn’t been. Don’t just say ‘Jane went to Clacton’. Anyone who’s never been there won’t be able to picture it. You could say something like:
Jane strutted along the wide concrete promenade, dodging dog walkers and families dawdling along with their straggling toddlers. The sickly scent of fish and chips filled the air and grew stronger as she approached the centre of town. An irritating cacophony of bleeps and 80s music boomed from the amusements on the pier and joyful teenage screams mingled with the screech of the gulls wheeling and bickering overhead. Jane stopped for a
moment, her heart pounding. Despite the cold wind, she felt hot. Her throat was dry and her hands felt clammy. Was she doing the right thing? She pulled out the tattered sheet of paper from her pocket and unfolded it. A name and a grainy black and white photograph. She was at the cafe now but paused to examine her reflection in the steamed up window. The wind had ruined her hair and she should have worn her other jacket. Well, it’s now or never, Jane thought. She drew in a large breath and pushed open the door. Her pulse quickening, she walked up to the counter.
‘Hello,’ said Jane, her voice trembling, ‘I’m sorry but I think you’re my mother.’
You could have just said: Jane met her birth mother in Clacton. But you can get so much more in. The above is just a quick draft I’ve come up with just now as an example but I’ve put in some details that not only set the scene but allow the reader to really feel who Jane is. The seaside sights, smells and sounds annoy her. I haven’t said that it’s Clacton. It might
be important to the story, or it might not be. Either way, Jane’s not there for a holiday and she’s nervous. She wonders whether she should just give up and go home. She worries about her appearance - perhaps she’s scared she’s not good enough, or not going to match up to expectations. Perhaps she’s the kind of person who always lacks confidence and worries endlessly about everything. But she has some grit, because despite all this, she opens the door and goes in. Then she apologises. She knows she’s intruding in this other woman’s life
and she may not be welcome. Perhaps she’s used to knock backs and apologising up front is a habit for her. A passage like this might be the beginning of a story, or it could be somewhere in the middle or even at the very end. Hopefully the reader is asking themselves,
what’s Jane there for? What’s going to happen next? That’s what you want from your story -
the reader constantly wondering and trying to guess what is going to happen next.
Colourful characters and cardboard cut outs
As well as having set the scene, you need to people it with your characters. The reader needs to know what sort of a person they are; kind, compassionate, nasty, cold, principled or deceitful? I remember a tutor at the Open University announcing during a lecture that everything is a text, the whole world is a text, what you wear is a text. What she meant is that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they present themselves to the world, because they have made a choice to look like that for a reason. You can read who they are by what they look like. This is by no means infallible - we all dress up for a job interview, don’t we?
It doesn’t mean that’s what we look like on a Friday night but it does mean we seriously want the job. It can be a useful way of hinting at a character’s personality. Many people love to belong. They will alter their appearance either deliberately or unconsciously so that they
conform to the expectations of their peers. You dress a certain way in an office. You dress in
a certain way at a football match or at a music festival. Fashion conscious teenage girls do not dress like their mothers. You can use this sort of thing to your advantage. It’s all part of the show don’t tell. If you have a character who is a fifteen year old girl who dresses like a middle aged woman, chances are she’s got some issues going on in her life. By presenting your characters in certain ways, you can hint at their personalities and even their motives. Their faded, out of fashion clothes might bely the fact they are poor, or they might just be tight with their money. Or, how they look just isn’t important to them. Other characters might be trying to look younger - because they are vain, or they’re on the lookout for a date, or they might be desperately trying to cling on to their job - or their past. When you’re describing your characters, you might need to think about what other parts of their lives say about them; the way they do their hair, the car they drive and where they live. Remember though, you can work it a number of ways - your neighbour with the sports car might be richer than everyone else in the street, or he might just want everyone to think that. He might have stacks of money in the bank or he might be drowning in debt. Maybe he just likes sports cars and has saved his whole life to get it. Then again, maybe he got the money for that car by other, more dubious means!
Describe how your characters treat each other. Are they envious of the neighbour with the sports car or do they think he’s a joke and isn’t fooling anyone except himself? Do they have suspicions about where the money came from?
Whenever you are out and about, have a look at the people around you. Make up a little story about them based only on how they appear. Write it down in your notebook. You could experiment by first inventing them in a kind way and then write a paragraph about them assuming them to be quite nasty! Watch how people interact with each other, are they kind and helpful, do they tease each other or seem to pick on just one person? Are they totally at ease or are they keeping up some sort of appearance?
‘Yeah, me and the squad are going down the pub now, innit,’ said the Queen, never.
As important as how your characters look is how they speak. Show don’t tell. You don’t need to say Sarah’s a posh bird, just have her speak that way. Listen out for little quirks in other people’s speech and write little snippets of overheard conversation in your notebook. Most people, other than the Queen, don’t speak perfect Queen’s English all the time, so don’t have your characters speak that way! We all mispronounce words, or use the wrong word, or have little phrases that we often repeat. Without becoming clichéd, give your characters little quirks and mannerisms that make them different to other people. Whether or not to spell out different dialects is open to debate and personal choice (see Wuthering Heights), but you can certainly use pet names, regional names for things, slang and unusual grammar in your dialogue, if you think your character would speak that way. How we speak is part of who we are, or, as with how we look, it might be who we want other people to think we are. Your character might think they are fooling everyone with their plummy voice, only to give the game away by always saying ta or cheers mate instead of thank you. It might be to comic effect or it might be a little bit sad. Don’t go overboard with this, don’t make every character the last character’s polar opposite. In any setting you are likely to have similar people. In a workplace, there could well be a group of people who live in the same area and went to the same school, so they are likely to have similar speech in a lot of
ways but there will still be differences you can use. Be alert to what people say and how they say it, and write anything interesting down in your notebook.
With dialogue, don’t stop at just thinking about the differences in speech between different
classes or people from different areas. Think about different ages, think about whether someone is speaking in a kind or condescending way. Are they saying one thing but meaning another?
I could go on and on but these are just a few thoughts on starting out and I hope it is helpful in some small way. If you want further advice, there are lots of books available on creative writing. I can recommend Stephen King’s On Writing. There may well be local writing clubs or creative writing courses at nearby colleges if you are interested in furthering your writing that way. As for me, I’m currently studying English Literature with the Open University and have included the modules A215 Creative Writing and A363 Advanced Creative Writing in my degree. I’m not at all suggesting that you need a degree to be a writer, but I’m doing it to improve my writing and to give myself confidence, and it seems to be helping!
Best wishes, good luck and keep writing!
I absolutely love short stories. I love reading them and I love writing them. I expect it’s due in no small part to growing up on a reading diet of Tales of the Unexpected, the Pan Books of Horror, and Fontana Science Fiction, to name but a few. Then came the TV shows, the adaptations of Tales of the Unexpected, the fantastically tacky Hammer House of Horrors and what’s not to like about the Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits?
I love the way you can read a whole short story in one sitting, maybe it’s your lunch break, or just when you’re settling down in bed. Longer novels are great but I’ve never been able to resist the allure of the short story. I like to think of them as the tapas of the reading world! After all, sometimes we don’t want a whole meal, just a light snack. I am pleased to announce that my very own selection of light snacks, I mean short stories, is now out. As was the case with the examples I listed above, I don’t confine myself to any particular genre with my short stories. Readers of my longer stories will be familiar with my mysteries, and there are some here in that same vein but there are also some that have drifted into other genres . I’ll give you a little taster of each below:
A middle aged wife dissatisfied with her marriage is forced to face up to some ugly truths about her husband when they are isolated by rising floodwater.
The Mains Layers
Darren Heath is lured into laying new gas mains with the promise of earning good money. He soon discovers that not only is his bullying new boss swindling the team out of their rightful earnings, but he brags constantly about having killed a man. How do you deal with a man like that?
The Wedding Ring
A victim of domestic abuse has quietly exacted the ultimate revenge but will she survive the funeral?
End of Days
Scientists accidentally discover that our genes all carry an end date – the last possible do to which you can survive. The implications of this are enormous – particularly if you’d rather not know.
Ever considered retiring to somewhere hot, like Spain? Wouldn’t that be lovely! Not necessarily!
(Hint – you can read this story for free on my blog – just scroll down!)
Mrs Chadstow Buys a Ticket
Mrs Chadstow wants a divorce but has no means of supporting herself and her spiteful husband is happy with the status quo. If only she could find a way of getting hold of some money – and keeping it!
The Last Expedition
Ever wondered how to get away with murder? You could try going somewhere where there aren’t any police, like Antarctica, for instance.
One man might well live to regret his casual disregard of a small, insignificant postcard.
The Face at the Window
What would you do if you glanced up at your own home and saw a face at an upstairs window?
One woman’s desperate desire for a child becomes all consuming.
Two twelve year olds travel to a strange island where a dangerous beast is reputed to live. Not quite human, not quite animal but somewhere in between. (This is the story depicted in the cover image.)
All of these stories are currently available to download at just £1.99, or the equivalent in your local currency. That’s just a shade over 18p per story! Is that good value? I hope so. The paperback version will follow shortly. You can click on the image above to take you to Amazon, if you're not in the UK, it should give you the option to redirect.
I really hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them! I’d love to know which ones are particular favourites, so do please let me know, either here or on twitter @B_Carter_Writer. You can also find me on Goodreads. Don’t forget that volume one is available at the same price and I’m already working on volume three! I’m also currently working on a longer mystery which I hope to release later on this year.
It was early morning and already the water was evaporating out of the reservoir and into the clear azure August sky, hanging in a haze, like an English mist over a cool river. Here in Andalucía, the haze would gradually increase and spread outwards, joining forces with the evaporating Mediterranean, filtering the sun as it rose to its fiery crescendo to blast the scorched earth and the terracotta-tiled roof of the finca, turning the small house into an oven by mid-afternoon.
Sandra exhaled and fanned herself with her magazine, its faded pages smudged with sun cream. Her large chest heaved with the effort of breathing and she wondered, not for the first time that day, nor any day, why she had let Roger talk her into moving to southern Spain. The heat was truly unbearable, inhuman. You needed to drink your whole body weight in fluids daily just to stave off the headaches. What was wrong with the Home Counties anyway? What was wrong with a bit of greenery? With lawns and proper trees and hedgerows and fields where things actually grew? Alright, so it rained a bit, but at least it was green, not like this godforsaken place, this dust bowl. Of course, Roger thought it was beautiful - rugged – that’s what he called it. But what did he know about beauty? Had a lifetime of selling stationery supplies taught him that? Sandra glanced over her sunburned shoulder at the house, the finca, she raised her eyebrows and shook her head. Roger had said it was rustic, but this? How could he bring her to this? It was like stepping back in time. Surely rustic was thatched cottages and five bar gates, not an outside toilet with an ill-fitting door? ‘A loo with a view’, Roger called it. But this wasn’t a proper view, this horrendous man-made reservoir and the jagged life-less mountains that encircled it like a snare, trapping Sandra there forever. Well, we’ll see about that, she thought, her mouth twitching into a smile. The moment Roger pops his clogs, I’ll sell up and move back home, back to civilisation. There must be some consolation to his being eleven years older and with Roger’s cholesterol and blood pressure, surely even he can’t last long in this heat? And he will insist upon going out every day in his shorts and sandals and that ridiculous hat of his, down to the water to fish. Sandra’s arm ached so she swapped the magazine into her other hand and continued to fan herself, her thoughts drifting back to Roger and his pointless fishing. He told her there were all sorts of fish down in the reservoir, big things too. He most wanted to catch one of those huge catfish, the German ones, the legendary Wels. He prattled on endlessly about the Wels growing bigger than a man here in the warm Spanish waters with a plentiful food supply and no predators. Sandra sighed. The Wels, that was all Roger spoke about, it seemed to occupy his thoughts every waking moment of every day. She’d endured him droning on about how it was released in the eighties, growing much larger here than any that had ever been caught in Germany. A natural scavenger and expert hunter, there was nothing it wouldn’t make use of and these vast reservoirs of southern Spain had proved to be perfect breeding grounds. Sandra sighed. How could anyone get so worked up about a fish? She thought of her circle of friends back home. They had never once had a conversation about a fish, nor would they. There were far more important and more interesting topics to be discussed in the Home Counties. The new supermarket, for instance, or the changes to the parking arrangements at the precinct. Sandra smiled at the recollection of how Petra had been disgusted to find her favourite parking space outside the hairdressers had been changed to a disabled bay. Undeterred, she had continued to park there anyway, after all, as she had said, it was important for one to make a stand about these things and not to allow oneself to be pushed around by the jumped up little nobodies at the town hall. Sandra wished she had made a stand about Spain, but Roger’s incessant pleadings had got the better of her and besides, as Petra had pointed out, with Roger forever in her debt, she would be able to turn the situation to her advantage.
Roger had bought a boat now, a small white fibreglass thing with mildewed sides and an outboard motor. He said it would take him to the middle of the reservoir, where the big fish are. Sandra exhaled and rolled her eyes, Roger wanted to go out in the boat later, to try it out, take a picnic and make a day of it, he’d said. She couldn’t think of anything worse, anything she’d less like to do than to float out across the still, deep algae riddled turquoise waters, with God knows what swimming about in there, in that infernal heat. But if she didn’t go, Roger would nag and complain that she wasn’t making an effort. Well, at least there would be some wine. Roger could always be relied on for that, and there would be nothing to eat in the house, with it being the housekeeper’s day off. Sandra had insisted on there being a housekeeper and Roger had at last relented and agreed to it. He had argued that it was an unnecessary expense and they had never had a housekeeper in the Home Counties, but, as Sandra reminded him, they weren’t in the Home Counties now and if he wanted it to stay that way, then they had to have a housekeeper. After all, she couldn’t possibly be expected to perform housework in this heat, in fact, any sort of physical exertion was completely out of the question.
The housekeeper had turned out to be something of a disappointment, only prepared to work part time and her cooking skills didn’t seem to extend beyond grilled tuna and patatas a la pobre, a bizarre combination of broken roast potatoes, mixed with fried green peppers and onions, and drowning in oil. Still, it was better than nothing and at least she mopped the floors and got rid of the cockroaches.
Roger came out of the house and waved to Sandra, signifying that it was time to go. She sighed and heaved herself out of the white wicker chair, which creaked as it released her and she waddled slowly towards Roger, irritated by his irrepressible cheerfulness. How could one be cheerful here, with the air so hot and full of dust that one could barely draw breath?
Sandra wafted the top of her dress, annoyed to find herself perspiring already. She couldn’t even take a cold shower, as the cold water here wasn’t even cold. The sun heated the water tank at the top of the drive and by the time it had passed through the pipes and arrived at the shower, it was, to all intents and purposes, as warm as if it had come straight out of the hot tap.
‘Would you like your hat, dear?’ asked Roger, smiling. Sandra snatched the straw hat from his outstretched hand and planted it firmly on her curly grey hair. ‘I’ve put the lunch in the boat, so everything’s all set. I’ve even chilled the wine.’
Sandra grunted. Well that was something, she thought, following Roger down the rock strewn path, the dust creeping into her shoes and scratching her feet. He trotted down to the water’s edge as nimbly as a mountain goat, to the small jetty where the boat was moored. He held out an arm to help his wife into the boat and as she stepped in, it rocked precariously. She lost her footing and fell heavily onto the slatted wooden bench. Water slopped over the side and pooled in the middle of the floor, around the picnic hamper. Roger untied the boat and climbed in, he pushed away from the shore with a long varnished oar. He let the boat drift out while he poured Sandra a glass of white wine for her nerves. The wine was South African, it was expensive but, as Sandra was forever having to remind Roger, she couldn’t tolerate the Spanish wine, as it gave her heartburn. She gulped the cool liquid and held out her glass for a refill. Roger obliged, pouring another large measure, then he turned his attention to the rowing, his brawny arms and shoulders making light work of the effort, his lean tanned body glistening in the sunshine.
‘Why don’t you just use the engine?’ asked Sandra, ‘it will take us all day at this rate.’
‘It would be shame to spoil the peace on such a beautiful day,’ smiled Roger, ‘and in any case, there’s no hurry, the fish aren’t going anywhere.’
Sandra looked to the shore, shading her eyes with her hand. Their housekeeper, Conchita, was sitting outside her decrepit shack, in the shade of the bougainvillea that covered her small veranda, shelling beans into a large yellow plastic bowl. A mangy looking white terrier dog lay stretched out on the dry earth in front of her. She watched as they floated by but did not raise a hand to wave. Sandra thought the woman ill mannered and ungrateful towards her employers, after all, where else was she going to get a job around here?
Roger continued to row steadily out, away from the shore until Conchita’s house became nothing more than a small white speck in the distance, barely discernible from the pale dusty landscape around it. At last, Roger stopped rowing and drew the dripping oars into the boat. Sweat ran from his forehead, forming rivulets which dripped into his eyes and down onto his cheeks. He removed his cotton hat, mopped his brow with it and placed it back onto his head, creased and grubby. He poured his wife another glass of wine and opened his bait box, carefully attaching some slimy, rancid offal onto a large three-barbed hook. He wiped his bloodied fingers on his shorts. Sandra turned away in disgust. He flicked the rod over his shoulder and watched as the reel whirred and the line fed out some distance before plopping into the murky water.
Sandra sighed. What really was the point of this? She finished her wine and laid the empty glass in her lap. Her head was spinning. The heat here was relentless, hotter even than on the land. With no shade at all, she could feel her skin burning beneath the sun’s rays. She flopped a hand over the side of the boat and let her fingers play across the surface of the tepid water.
Something brushed her hand, something smooth, oily. She glanced down and gasped. The smooth brown skin of the huge fish slid past, its spiny dorsal fin folded back but just breaking the surface of the water. Its size was impossible to guess but it was surely longer, much longer than the boat. Then the fish turned, its black pea-like eye fixing Sandra in its unblinking gaze. Its wide, slot-like mouth opened and closed rhythmically half in and half out of the water and feelers as thick as fingers twitched out of the water and up the sides of the boat.
Roger stood up and plunged an oar into the water towards the fish. The small boat pitched and Sandra slid off the bench and tumbled out of the boat, landing with a splash, the dark waters closing around her. The boat tipped back the other way and rocked violently. Roger sat down and gripped the sides, waiting for the vessel to steady itself. The water bubbled and frothed and seemed to be alive with turbulence, the cloudy green becoming tainted with crimson. Roger watched for a while, waiting until the waters once again became calm, the crimson spreading like a cloud, then fading. He began to row steadily back to shore, towards Conchita. He smiled. The Wels catfish was a truly impressive creature and, as its reputation suggested, it really will eat anything.
This week, all over Twitter and Facebook, I have seen people posting about the problems they are having with their first drafts. There seem to be some common issues here and I thought it might be helpful if I share how I deal with the dreaded first draft.
Just tell the story.
You have an idea for a story, that’s what has got you started on your first draft. So tell it. Just get the basic story out in whichever way you find the most comfortable, whether it’s hand written notes or typed straight into your computer, or like me, a combination of both. Just let the story come. It might help to visualise the finished story as a building, perhaps a beautiful house standing in its own grounds. The first draft is akin to the foundations of this beautiful house. It doesn’t look like much yet but that’s because it’s only the foundations. You will build the rest up later. Give yourself permission to create a loose and somewhat scruffy first draft.
Don’t worry about the mess.
Writing is a messy business but you’re not going to show anyone else, so relax. By the time another human being gets to see your story, you will have tidied it up a bit. You will have got rid of the rubbish and tightened the whole thing up with the words and phrases you knew you wanted but just couldn’t bring them to mind in the first draft stage. The first draft is like a winter garden. It’s sparse, a bit bland and not particularly interesting. But keep going because you know that by summer you will have cut out some of the dead wood, planted lots of new things and after a lot of hard work, the whole thing will end up a picture of beauty, or horror, or intrigue, depending on your genre!
Don’t bother stopping to check facts.
I used to stop every few minutes to check this fact or that fact – what’s that poison called? Does it have a taste? Is this or that against the law? What shows up in a post mortem? How long does it take to get from here to there by public transport? Etcetera, etcetera. All of this is important but it doesn’t need to happen in the first draft. Remember, the first draft is only the foundations of your building. The rest of it is important but you can come back to it all. If you do it now, there’s a good chance you’ll get sidetracked and then you’ll forget where the story was actually going. Sometimes you need to check something because it might be critical to the story, but other than that, avoid dipping in and out of Google, Wikipedia and your every increasing stack of reference books for the time being.
Don’t stress over grammar, spelling, punctuation or word choice.
This is on the same lines as the previous paragraph. What I am trying to get across is basically don’t stop for anything! Just keep going and get the first draft out. Chances are you will then go through several phases of editing and re-writing, so you can pick up on all those spelling and word choice mistakes then. I have days when I couldn’t even be trusted to spell my own name correctly and if I stopped to check every word, then I wouldn’t get very far at all.
What if it’s not working and I want to change things half way through?
Suppose you’ve been writing in the first person and you suddenly realise it would be better done in third person – should you go back to the start and change it all? No! Just carry on from the point you are at in the third person, or whatever it is that you are changing – new location, different time period, etc. Then, when you do the first edit, you can change the rest. My reason for working like this is that if I stop and go back to the beginning every time I think of something new, then I’m not really progressing very far with the whole story. If I don’t get it down on paper, I’m going to forget where I wanted it to go and all the little details I had planned along the way. I know I’ll be editing it later, so it’s counterproductive to go back and start editing now, before I’ve even finished the first draft. After all, another couple of chapters later and I might have decided to abandon that idea and go back to how I had originally planned it!
Do I have to write it all in the right order?
No! Quite often, a scene will come to my mind that I know I will want at some later point in the story. Should I wait until I get to that point, and risk forgetting it, or should I write it now? My advice would be to write it now. The late great PD James worked in this way too. Give it a heading such as: The body is discovered, or whatever is relevant to your story. I work using a combination of notebooks and typing directly into the computer. The notebooks I prefer are cheap exercise books of that sort that children have at school. They’re so cheap that I don’t ‘save’ them for something really brilliant. I scribble and doodle anything and everything that pops into my head down into them. So, if I think of a scene for later on, I’ll start a new page and give it a big heading so that I can find it easily when I get to the point in the story where I want it. If I happen to be at the computer when this flash of inspiration strikes, I’ll just start a new page in my draft document and give it the heading that seems relevant. I always use a table of contents so that I can quickly jump to whichever chapter I want. During the draft and editing stages, the chapters will all have names that enable me to find the sections I want. Only right at the final stage will I go through and change them all to the more elusive ‘Chapter One’ etc. I find it easier this way to locate, merge and move sections around as I feel necessary as the story takes shape.
When it’s done, leave it to rest for a while.
When you’ve done, saved and backed up your first draft (I email mine to myself), let it rest. Put it on the back burner and let it simmer. Go out and have a break. Do something else. Forget about it for a while. Maybe even start a new project. Then, when you do come back to it, you will be reading it with fresh eyes, dictionary and thesaurus at the ready.
I hope you have found some of this useful. Please feel free to share this with anyone you like.
2013 has been a fantastic year for me, with more than six thousand book sales from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and France. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought a book and especially to those of you who, after reading one of my stories, went on to download others. I would also like to thank all the very kind people in the Goodreads Kindle UK Forum for their ongoing interest and support.
As a thank you, I am offering Tales of Strangeness and Harm for free over Christmas, from 24th to 28th December – you can follow the link from here (click on the picture) to go directly to the Amazon page to download now! Please help yourself to this book and tell all your friends and family – particularly anyone who might be finding a Kindle under their tree this Christmas! Remember, if you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read Kindle ebooks – just download the free app from Amazon to your PC or tablet and then take advantage of this free offer!
Thank you and a merry Christmas to you all!
If, like me, you are feeling more than a little bit fed up with the doom and gloom of dark mornings and evenings, and the endless miserable grey and damp days, perhaps you can take heart from the thought that we are not alone and nor is it anything new.
Still, things could be a lot worse - the photograph was taken in my garden in January this year - at least we haven't yet got snow and poor old Aphrodite looks a little bit chilly there!
Here is a cheerless little poem entitled “No” and written in 1844 by Thomas Hood (1799-1845):
No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds -
I am very pleased to announce the release of my new book, Swallowfields.
Inheriting an old house from an aunt she barely knew seems like the stroke of luck that Hannah badly needs. But Swallowfields has a dark history and Hannah is soon to discover disturbing family secrets that have remained hidden for years and now seem destined to tear her world apart.
Swallowfields is a story of tragedy, loss, loyalty and lies and of how one man’s evil has percolated through the generations, to leave an indelible stain on the present.
Already, Swallowfields is receiving five star ratings from Goodreads members, with comments such as:
“ I loved it Beverley!
What an original plot and terrific characters. The scene where Hannah was surrounded by wrapping paper (don't want to spoil it for anyone) had me in tears.
One of the best books I've read this year! Thank You!”
[From Goodreads Member Philip (sarah), November 20, 2013.]
“… Through a complex network of deceit and lies, we find out how one person covering up to protect another can create a web of intrigue which throws a veil of obscurity over a child’s life. It’s wonderful to be there as lifting that veil unfolds a new future for Hannah.
This is longer than Beverley Carter’s earlier novellas and therefore has the possibility for delving deeper into the characters’ lives. There were still areas I would have liked more detail on – I’m just a nosy person! The author has a lovely accessible writing style and always uses it to tell a great story. This is a really good mystery tale and I enjoyed reading it very much!”
[From Goodreads Member Ignite, November 20, 2013]
My thanks, as always, go to the lovely people in the Goodreads UK Amazon Kindle Forum for their ongoing support.
I’m really pleased to announce that after a lot of work writing, editing, re-writing and generally wandering around looking vague, Murder at Tremawney Heights has now been released and is available to download from Amazon.
I had a lot of feedback from readers of The House on Tremawney Hill. A lot of people wanted to know what the characters did next or thought that the story could have been a little longer. These are both distinct stories, so you don't need to have read the previous story to enjoy this one, but if you have, you will recognise some of the characters and locations.
Generally, I write novellas and short stories and I usually just let the story dictate its own length. When I was writing The Tonic, I thought it was going to be a short story but as it unfolded, I realised that it had actually developed into a novella. This time, I have allowed myself to slow the pace a little and let a more complicated plot develop. Murder at Tremawney Heights has ended up at well over 40,000 words, which is quite a beast for me! I hope this satisfies those who wanted a longer story and also those who, like me, thought that we hadn’t seen enough of Lorna, Alison and Denise.
In Murder at Tremawney Heights, Denise plays the leading role. We see a lot more of her than we have before as she becomes more and more deeply involved with the private inner lives of the mysterious and dangerous de Vere family. See if you can work out who the culprit is – but be warned – there are a lot of rotten apples in the de Vere family orchard!
I hope you enjoy this story.
My best wishes and thanks to you all,
PS - I hope you like the cover, it was created by my lovely and very talented Dad. I think he has summed up the setting beautifully, creating a perfect scene which contrasts starkly with the awful events that take place there. If you are wondering who the shadowy female figure is, it's Aphrodite. She also has a role in this story, but not quite in the way you might expect!