Friday, 27 September 2013

Police on the lookout for ladies in pajamas - Unlikely stories come from unlikely stories

Recently, where I live, there was an incident where a marquee was damaged. Apparently a drunk man and two women in pajamas were spotted fleeing the scene and are wanted by police.

This is a true story.

For any writer, a news story like that is fertile ground for your imagination to run free.

Who were the three, and what were they doing running around late at night in their jammies?

What do you think? There are so many stories you could write, in so many different genres.

Erotica - they were looking for somewhere to have a naughty three-some in public?

Horror - they'd been chased by zombies and were looking for somewhere to hide?

Crime - One of their relatives had lost their mind and had started murdering their family as they slept?

Tragi-com - One of the group doesn't have long to live and it was a dream of his/her to sneak into a marquee at night and have a picnic.

These are just a few possibilities, but there are an infinite number of possibilities.

Here's an exercise for you. Look through the newspaper headlines. Don't read the whole story; just the headline and first two lines.

Now unleash your creativity and write your own story.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

RIP Jack - You deserved better

Two weeks ago, my neighbour Jack died. I'm sorry to say that I didn't know Jack that well. He was what we call a curmudgeon. 

Permanently grumpy, always bickering with the neighbour above him who also happened to be one of his best friends, he always clapped our dog, but he made me cry the day we moved in.

My dad has bone cancer and two sticks to stop him falling over. My mum is so frail at times she can be blown over like a cigarette packet tossed about in the wind. When they drove over with our furniture, naturally they parked outside our new home in the disabled spot - they both have blue badges; they're entitled to park there. It's not a residential parking spot, although Jack treated it like it was.

He ranted and raved at my mum and dad, cursing his head off. I cried because I thought "Great, now I have the neighbour from hell, and I've just moved in."

Our last neighbour used to let their grand kids use the floor as a trampoline. Now this one was gonna be big trouble.

As things turned out, Jack was fine. After that day, we never had a cross word, although he had plenty of cross words with everyone else.

When he died it came as a bolt out the blue. He collapsed and  was taken away in an ambulance and died the next day in hospital.

The next day, two of his relatives arrived. What they did next was disgraceful. And, I've seen some pretty low things in my life.

They rummaged through his things at the speed of light. Taking anything of value. They dumped everything else of his in the communal bins. Personal stuff. Private stuff. They dumped his glasses and his bunnet in the bin. Our neighbour, one of his Jack's friends, found them when she went to put out her rubbish. Despite inviting his 2 relatives into her home, giving them coffee and sympathy, they went back home to Birmingham. They didn't tell her when the funeral was. One of his few friends probably wouldn't be there, but two of his money grabbing leech relatives would be. That's if they even bothered to have a funeral at all.

I half expected to see poor, expired Jack in the bin.

Hey, I'm not laughing as I write this because I'm too bloody sad.
One minute you're there, going about your daily business, the next you're a gonner and people have their greedy, fat fingers rifling all through your stuff. They don't give a shit about you or your memories or what matters to you. All they care about is taking anything of value.

I hope wherever Jack is, he never got to see all this. The callous disregard for his possessions and his life.

As for his heartless relatives, what goes around comes around. In years to come, it could be you who's dead, having some callous someone's fat, grubby fingers rifling through your stuff, before tossing out the glasses and hat you last wore in the trash like you and your life meant nothing for your friends and neighbour to find.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Me and JK Rowling in the Scottish Daily Record

Hell To Pay's in the top right hand corner:)

I'm in the Scottish Daily Record's  today talking about my crime thriller Hell To Pay with someone called JK Rowling.

Well, we're on the same page and it's her Robert Galbraith novel that nobody was supposed to know she wrote that was being featured.

Although, I think I need the publicity more than her. Think she sells a few books:)

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Never give up - The one mantra every writer should have


Tenancious wee guy - "Nobody is stopping me from getting that cheese."
Of all the mantras that writers have, that's probably the most important because most of the time your work won't get picked up right away. That was the case with How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks.

The road to publication has been a long and winding road for the short novel I wrote 3 years ago.

Back in March 2010, I saw a snippet of news in Writer's News magazine about a publisher looking for women to write "violent revenge fiction." I cut it out and filed it away for later. Up until that point, barring a few published short stories I'd stuck to fiction.

A few months later, this image came into my mind of a one-legged woman (I didn't give her a prosthetic leg deliberately to make her different; she came to me that way) standing over a man who had a stiletto heel embedded into his skull and Kirsty was born. I started writing, asking myself the  question's
"How did she come to be in this position?"
"Who was Kirsty?"

The answers came quickly - she was a Glasgow barmaid and she'd just killed one of Jimmy McPhee's goons after he'd got a bit too handsie. Now I had my story. Kirsty had to go on the run because McPhee would come after her and to protect herself she'd steal the gun he had in his safe and his cash.

Within a few months, I'd written the book and sent it off to the publisher. A few weeks later, I had a publishing contract. Cue happy dance and the best Christmas present ever.

Hey, that sounds easy. But then as the publication date loomed, I'd heard nothing. Received no edits, so I got in touch and was told publication had been delayed and it wouldn't be out until later. A few months later and it was the same story.

Almost a year later, came the bombshell. The person who commissioned the book got in touch. They were leaving the publisher and taking the imprint with them and they hoped to set up on their own. The little hope I had was crushed when I never heard from them again.

The book never came out and after some toing and froing, I realised it never would. The two years on my contract expired and my hopes and dreams came to an end.

In the meantime, I wrote a self help title, my zombie novel Dead Bastards and Hell To Pay, the first in a series of books I'd called Die Hard for Girls. I also finished the second novella in the Die Hard for Girls series.

I never gave up on Kirsty though. I wanted people to read her story. She was a real person to me. One day, I even thought I saw her.

I had strong interest from one publisher who later decided the book was too short. Another wanted me to add to the text and they'd look at it again. Another said it wasn't the kind of book they published, but their "friend" would format it as an eBook if I gave them 500 pounds. Obviously, I declined.

A month ago, it was turned down by one of Stephen King's publishers. I'd sent it off in the early hours of the morning to avoid the "I'm not worthy" pull that'd prevent me from pressing the dreaded SEND button.

The comments about why it wasn't right for them - that it was gonzo and over the top, Tarantino like - sounded more like endorsements to me than admonishments.

check out their website

Snubnose Press must have thought so, because they offered me a contract which I duly accepted, delighted to be onboard with such a classy outfit that are kicking down crime fiction doors.

Kirsty's damn pleased too. She's gonna get her kicks and boy, is she gonna have a ball. Hey, she's even gonna jump out of a cake. You'll need to read the book to find out why.

You'll need to wait to read why Kirsty jumps out of a cake:)
Footnote - another mantra writers should have is not to get ripped off. A publisher proclaiming "not to be a vanity publisher" wanted 500 smackers to publish Kirsty. Well, I guess you can Tell what Kirsty said to that. Hell, I've got no control over that gal.

Are the magnets in stands and cases ruining your tablet?

Like most people, I love gadgets and when my OH bought me a Google Nexus tablet, I was chuffed to bits.

The Nexus is a great piece of kit for a writer. There's plenty of free apps that are great for writing like notebooks where you get to create your own unlined or lined notebooks with different covers and numbers of pages. That way you can work on multiple projects at once and gmail them to yourself or send to other apps.

Need to see a copy of the magazine you want to write a piece for? No problem, the Google Play store has lots of them. For the cost of the cover price you can have the publication uploaded to your tablet in minutes.

The Twitter app also allows you to send tweets from multiple accounts at once. Ideal when like me you've got a specific zombie account (hey, I love zombies and The Walking Dead) and a separate one for your writing and personal stuff.
Naturally I wanted to protect my new gadget from damage. So I shopped around for a stand.

That's when my problems started. The first one I bought, a black Carbon Fibre Print PropUp Stand Case Cover with integrated stand function and magnetic sleep sensors looked great.

Then I put my tablet in it. At first everything was okay. Then my cursor went haywire. I couldn't seem to copy and paste no matter what app I used. I thought my tablet was broken.

I shut it down. Took it away from the stand. Then I restarted it and the Nexus worked fine. It didn't take a genius to work out the stand was the problem and more to the point the magnet in the stand that activates the sleep function on the tablet.
I sent it back for a refund.

Then I bought the IPEVO PadPillow Lite Stand. It looked like an adjustable pillow. It wasn't until I received the pillow that I discovered the magnets. When I tried it with my tablet it was the same story. The cursor went crazy. My tablet was unusable. This time it took the tablet longer to recover. I actually thought it was broken forever.
I'm still on the look out for a stand or case, but from now on I'll avoid the ones with magnets. They nearly wrecked my tablet and they could damage yours.

DI Duncan Waddell - Detective in a Coma Book 2

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