Monthly Archives: April 2014

My Writing Process – Blog Hop

I was tagged by author Joanne Hall – – to partake in My Writing Process Blog Hop! Here’s my effort!


What am I working on?

At the moment I’m trying to complete the first draft of The Sinner’s Daughter, which is a follow on story from The Reluctant Prophet. It’s nearly finished, maybe another 20 – 30k and that draft will finally be complete. I’m also starting to draw up a draft of the third book in the series, as well as tinkering with a post-apocalyptic work set in Ireland. I wish there were more hours in the day for writing! (Sigh)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It’s a difficult one because some of its themes you would see in other books, though I hope my own take on these themes are different. My works, though fantasy based, don’t draw heavily on magic or wonderful and imaginative creatures. My stories are character based and focus a lot on the inner workings and development, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t have the other themes in my books. The books I’m currently working on are based in first-person and from a female perspective. I’m hoping I am able to portray they characters as strong women, despite the fact they are not warriors who can kiss ass. Hopefully that makes my books differ from other works of its genre.   

Why do I write what I write?

I tend to write stories that capture my own imagination and for the most part, fantasy had been the strongest influence on my own writing. I also have a lot of ideas that aren’t related to the fantasy genre, but for the most part, fantasy based books encourage my own imagination the most and I like losing myself in different worlds and places when I write.

How does your writing process work?

I am not a person who organises their writing with plans, although I have tried very unsuccessfully to do that. I like letting my mind roam and see where the story goes. When I’m writing I might have some ideas fleshed out in my head, but I have no idea what journey might be involved in the characters getting to that point. So I guess I’m a pantser in that respect.

I also spend a lot of time re-reading my draft as I go along, especially if I’m feeling stuck at a certain point. It gives me time to think over the story and link the threads together. One thing I love to plan is the map for the book, as imagining the scenes and places grounds a lot of the ideas for me as I’m drawing it up.

I wish I could say that I’m strict with myself and can write a certain amount of words a day, but I tend to have 0k days and then a 5k splurge another. A true pantser then! 🙂


And as a finale, I get to tag a few authors now to hop along this blog! Good luck!


Dean Lombardo –

C.N Lesley –

Emma L Clapperton –

Jane Dougherty – 




Reality TV Blasts Off From Planet Earth With A Quentin Tarantino Perspective

Space Games . . .

Dean's Den

Northern Virginia, April 3, 2014 – The cameras are on and the gloves are off in this battle of the sexes in space. Space Games (Kristell Ink) is a powerful new take on our society’s addiction to the Internet, games, and our obsession with celebrities and fame. Author Dean Lombardo presents this raw, hard-hitting and totally engaging topic in a style compared to filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Oliver Stone and Robert Rodriguez.

Say hello to Robin and Joe, contestants in 2034’s “Space Games,” a new, high-stakes reality TV show set aboard a next-generation space station, ISS 2. Overcome by the physical and psychological strains of ‘space,’ the two contestants quickly abandon the show’s sanctioned events to engage in a lawless game of kill-or-be-killed as millions watch helplessly from Earth. With the station orbiting 220 miles above Earth, rescue by shuttle two days away, the reality show rapidly de-evolves into a horrifying…

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Susan Finlay on Mysteries and Writing

Today, I’d liked to welcome Susan Finlay, author extraordinaire and all round generous and lovely lady to my blog. Susan is known for being very helpful and encouraging to other authors, but today, I have her here to talk about writing and her recently released debut mystery novel, In the Shadows: An Outsiders Mystery, as well her second book, Where Secrets Reside.

Author Susan Finlay

Q – Can you tell us about yourself and your history as a writer? What drew you to writing?

A – I’m a former banker with two grown children and three cats. I was born in Germany, but grew up in the U.S. My husband and I moved to Columbia, Missouri almost three years ago.

I’ve always been an avid reader—everything from literary novels, classics, romance, historicals, suspense, sci-fi, and nonfiction. But my main interest is, and always has been, in reading and writing mystery novels.

Although I’ve always been a very creative person—art, stories, etc. —most of my early writing was in the form of bank audit reports, which didn’t allow me much chance to use my creativity. It wasn’t until February, 2003, that I started writing full-length novels. Then about a year ago I began blogging. On my blog I write articles and book reviews, and I interview other authors.  I’m not sure I ever made a conscious decision to make a career of writing. I write because I love it and I can’t see myself not writing. It’s a natural desire to want to share one’s writing with others.

Q – Can you give us a brief on your novel, In the Shadows and what it is about?

A – In my new mystery series the Outsiders, shadows and secrets plague Reynier, France, a  small village riddled with caves and troglodyte cave dwellings. In the first book, In the Shadows, Dave Martin is a former cop from Chicago who travels to Reynier to visit his elderly grandmother. Soon after he arrives, he finds that people have lied to him and misled him. But he stays on, and tries to forgive. One day, while running errands for his grandmother,  he meets a mysterious young woman who is desperate to hide a secret. Everyone tells Dave to stay out of it, but the detective in Dave can’t stop trying to figure out what’s going on.

I would say the first book in the series isn’t a typical mystery novel because it doesn’t begin with a murder or kidnapping. It really has two mysteries, the first surrounding the mysterious stranger, and the second surrounding a crime.

In the shadows

Q – Where did the idea for the novel come from? What inspired you to write it?

A – As a lover of caves, I was inspired to write this series when I learned about troglodyte cave dwellings in many French villages. I created my own little French village dotted with caves and cave dwellings known as troglos. Troglos date back for centuries, and started out as simple cavities in the tufa rock that were later carved further with flint tools. In more recent years, facades were added to the outside of some troglos. Some facades are simple, with only a wall, a door, and maybe a window. Some are quite extravagant, with large picture windows, and even patios and gardens out front.

Today, in some of the rural French villages that have troglos, many of the houses that appear ordinary from the street, have caves at the rear. Troglos are still lived in as either full-time residences or part-time holday homes. Some are used as hotels, rental cottages, restaurants, or storage. Not all troglos are old, though. I saw a website that gives information about brand new troglos that are being built in France.

In the early 1900’s, an Englishman named Sabine Baring-Gould traveled around Europe and visited many of these villages. He wrote a book called Cliff Dwellings and Cave Dwellings of Europe, and he describes the appalling conditions of these cave-dwellings. In one chapter, he says, ‘In one that I entered was an oven, with a well at its side. A little further, in a large hall, a circular hole in the floor, unfenced, gave access by rope or ladder to a lower range of galleries. Anyone exploring by the feeble light of a candle, without a guide, might be precipitated down the abyss without knowing that there was a gaping opening before him.’

Q – Your second novel, Where Secrets Reside, is also an Outsiders Mystery. What is it about and where do you think the series is going in the future?

A – The second book in the series is more of a traditional mystery, perhaps closer to the Agatha Christie books that I enjoy. It’s a bit shorter than the first book, too, because the majority of characters are already familiar, so there’s less set-up, and yet it’s more complicated because the number of viewpoint characters is much greater. Expect a few new people—in particular, a gendarme captain named Pascal Goddard, who will be a main character. Also, expect some flashbacks and a lot more scenes inside the caves and troglos.

The basic story is this: After one of the locals makes a startling discovery, the residents of the peaceful, close-knit village of Reynier, France, find themselves victimized by a serial killer, a puzzling criminal whose actions force them to look at themselves and each other in a new light. Is the killer an outsider, or one of their own? Who will be the next victim?

For the third and fourth books in the series, I’m still in the planning stage. I’ve written a short outline, or plan, and a few chapters for each. In one, a secretive family moves to Reynier and rents one of the troglos for the winter. Soon after their arrival, their young child disappears and they are the prime suspects. The previous books were set during summer months. By setting this one during the snowy time of year, I’ll get to explore some new challenges, like how the locals maneuver those hills. I’ve read that some people go away for the winter because it’s too challenging to get around there.

In the other, several characters from the first books travel to Columbia, Missouri, for a visit with Dave Martin’s parents. What was supposed to be a leisurely trip becomes a nightmare, as a string of murders hits the city soon after their arrival, and one or more of them become suspects. The book starts out in Jefferson City at the old prison.


Q – What do you find influences your writing?

A – I have a very vivid imagination, and it can be sparked by something as simple as a photograph. From the initial spark of an idea, I usually start asking myself a series of ‘what if’ questions.

Q – Are there any other projects you are currently working on? Can we have a little glimpse?

A – I’m actually working on several books at the same time. The book that is nearest to being ready for publication is Liars’ Games, a suspense novel set in Denver, Colorado. In that book, a genius college professor who hates lying is stuck in witness protection, along with her three-year-old son. Through a political maneuver, she ends up working as a principal at a high school full of gangs, drug dealers, and disgruntled employees. She’s in over her head and terrified, but her handler can’t or won’t move her and she must figure out how to survive in a world where everyone seems out to get her and her son. It’s a book that on the surface deals with school violence, but at the heart of it is a woman’s struggle with lying and deception, trust, and self-identity.

I’m attempting a different kind of story, too. I have a first draft of a time-travel mystery called Cobblestone. It’s set in Bavaria. In Cobblestone, a half-American/half-German man, Max Hollander, and his teenage son travel to Germany to sell the house Max has inherited from his German grandmother. They don’t speak the language and can’t find the house. When they meet a young German woman, Sofie Sonnenberg, who speaks English, they’re relieved. She, her nine-year-old son, and her great-aunt help them find the old house and they begin exploring it together. When they are all accidentally swept back in time, they quickly realize that Max’s mother and grandfather who disappeared twenty years ago—and were never seen again—may have also travelled back in time.

Also, I’m working on two mystery novels set in the Rocky Mountains. Both involve gold-mining towns because I’m fascinated with the gold rush history and with the reality TV shows about gold mining. I am considering linking the books somehow into a new series.

Q – Who are your favourite authors?

A – I like mystery authors Elizabeth George, Tess Gerritsen, Ruth Rendell,  Peter Robinson, P.D. James, Jeff Lindsay, and Agatha Christie. Also, romance/time travel author Diana Gabaldon and gothic romance/mystery author Victoria Holt.

Q – In what way have they influenced your writing?

A – When I was young, I read a lot of gothic mysteries by Victoria Holt, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Phyllis A. Whitney, and others. I think they bridged the gap from the children’s mysteries I read when I was a child, mystery series like the Bobbsie Twins, Hardie Boys, Boxcar Children, etc. After that, I moved on to other genres, and then returned to mystery/crime novels. I think my current writing style is a blend of several genres and styles because of all the reading I’ve done.

Q – How have you found your publishing experience? What have you learned as a result?

A – The journey from beginning writer to published author was long and difficult and stressful. I needed to learn the craft of writing, and also about publishing and networking. And then the whole publishing industry changed, and I had to re-learn some things.

Q – Is there any part of the process you found particularly difficult, or another part you relished?

A –Writing is a lonely job. Perhaps that’s why so many of us like to join writers’ groups on Facebook and other websites. Many of us also seek out local authors and meet with them in critique groups or writing workshops.

Sometimes when I’m doing research for a book, and I can’t find what I need, I get frustrated. I’ve had some difficulty with that in the writing of my time travel book. Much of that book is set in Germany in the late 18th century. It’s not so easy to get the kind of information I need. My son and his German girlfriend are helping me with that.

Other times, it’s when I don’t have enough time or energy to work on all the projects I have going.

I truly love creating new characters and plots. That’s always exciting. I even enjoy editing because that’s when a book really begins to shine.

Q – You do a great deal of work and help other writers. What platforms have you found useful for your own writing and what advice would you give to authors hoping to get published?

A – I actually joined an author website called Authonomy. It’s run by HarperCollins Publishing. I met many other authors there, developed friendships, and got a lot of helpful critiques. I began working with an editor whom I met through two author friends who were on Authonomy. Today, I don’t do much on Authonomy. I am active on Facebook, Twitter, LindedIn, and my blog.

As for advice Id’d give to authors: Don’t rush. Don’t rush the writing, don’t rush the editing or proofreading. Don’t expect to be a great writer when you’re first learning. The craft of writing takes time to learn. Don’t rush it. A literary agent friend of mine told me many years ago that for most authors it takes roughly ten years to become proficient enough to get published. But even then you never stop learning and improving.

Don’t give up. Don’t expect to write a blockbuster book. Learn to take criticism well—don’t let criticism stop you from writing. In fact, all writers need it so they can learn how to improve their writing and their stories. Join critique groups online or in person, and listen to what people say, but learn how to judge for yourself whether or not to incorporate their suggestions. Also, read books about writing. Read grammar books. Take writing classes and workshops. Write as often as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write every day.

Q – Where can readers find your works? And do you have any other links to your own page or books?

A – My books are available on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble’s website.

“Art of Forgetting : Nomad” – ARC Giveaway on Goodreads!

Check it out! A giveaway by author Joanne Hall! You can follow the link to enter the competition for a chance to win an ARC copy of Art of Forgetting: Nomad.

Joanne Hall

If you want an early copy, you can now enter a giveaway on Goodreads to win ONE paperback Advance Reading Copy of “The Art of Forgetting : Nomad”, weeks before it hits the real and virtual bookstore shelves! The draw is worldwide and is open until the end of April, and please feel free to add the book to your to-read shelf, and tell your friends…

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Art of Forgetting  by Joanne Hall

The Art of Forgetting

by Joanne Hall

Giveaway ends April 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Very best of luck to you!

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