The BIG editing lesson I learned writing The Surrogate #WritingTips

Today is the UK paperback publication of my third psychological thriller, The Surrogate (US paperback publication will follow later this year).  Although I’ve learned from every book, it was this one in particular where my editor gave me a piece of advice that has always stayed with me.

When I shared with my sister that I’d be writing a book about surrogacy she told me that she though the subject was too limiting. That the story would be predictable. I was determined to prove her wrong.

The Surrogate features Kat and Lisa, childhood friends, and Kat’s husband, Nick. They are all keeping dark and damaging secrets. I never plan when I write. I had a vague idea of who might be bad and who might be good but as I got deeper into the story the characters pulled me in unexpected directions. The plot became more complex than anything I thought I was capable of constructing.

As the ending gathered pace I layered twist upon twist, they tumbled onto the page as they tumbled out of my head, until finally the story reached its dramatic conclusion.

Nervously, I sent it over to my editor.

‘This is a phenomenal story’ her feedback began, ‘but…’ my heart sank ‘you’re not giving your twists time to breathe.’

I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant until I reread my manuscript. There wasn’t time to process each revelation before another one hit. It had been exhausting writing it. It was equally exhausting reading it. Rather than the pacy, hard hitting ending I thought I’d written it was confusing, lurching from one reveal to another.

She suggested taking out several twists which I was reluctant to do, so I set about rewriting the end.

For the twist she’d classed as ‘the big one’ I ensured I had no other reveals in this chapter. For other twists I moved a couple so they were away from the end. For most I lengthened the chapters so they weren’t so crammed together, particularly the epilogue which contains several.

Rereading it, I could see the difference. There was time to rest back, to process the turns of the story before it once more turned on its head.

There’s nothing I like more than pulling the rug from under the readers feet. To lead them to think they’ve got it all figured out when they haven’t. My stories always contain multiple twists. Now I’ll always give them time to breath.

You can read the opening of The Surrogate here and buy it on your local Amazon here. It is also now available in Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s & all good book shops.

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Diamonds & Dust #FlashFiction

Image courtesy of Roger Bultot

 

Nothing. I’ve nothing except dust and junk. Mama’s attic virtually bare now. Opening the last box, I’m hit by colour and memories as vibrant as the shimmering material I find myself clutching to my chest, which aches with longing.

‘Do you have to go?’ I’d asked.

‘It’s how we’ll make our fortune.’ Mama kissed my nose as she set off for another long shift, sewing clothes for the ungrateful jewellery maker’s wife.

I lift the dress to the light. It’s heavy. Surely too heavy? The sparkles too bright to be fake?

I remember the headline ‘Missing diamond mystery.’

Perhaps I have something after all.

 

Happy New Year! Tomorrow, Thursday 4th January, at 19.30 GMT I’m live on the Facebook Group Crime Book Club, answering questions about writing, publishing and books as well as discussing my latest novel, The Surrogate. Whether you’re a reader or writer do pop over and join me if you can. You’ll need to join the group first here.

Diamonds & Dust was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 words story challenge inspired by a photo prompt and hosted by Rochelle. You can read the other entries here

15 minutes – #flashfiction

Image courtesy of J Hardy Carroll

 

 

The camera flashes are as dazzling as my smile. Angling my body, I suck in my stomach. All I ever wanted was to be famous.

‘Silly cow.’ You slammed your fist into my face. ‘Ain’t nobody never gonna wanna look at you.’

But you were wrong, weren’t you?

‘How are you going to plead?’ I am asked again. Already the papers are calling me Sleeping Beauty. I’d stabbed you while sleepwalking – allegedly anyhow. Now everyone knows my name. My solicitor says he’ll line up talk shows once I’m acquitted.

I push out my chest as I’m led into the court. It’s my time to shine.

 

I am ridiculously excited that tomorrow is paperback publication day for The Gift in the UK! I can’t wait to visit the bookshops & supermarkets & see my second psychological thriller on a shelf. Tesco have an exclusive edition with a short story in I’ve written especially for their customers. Don’t think I’ll be getting much sleep tonight!

’15 minutes’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. Hop over to host Rochelle’s blog to join in. 

#GIVEAWAY – Audiobook of The Gift

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I am so incredibly grateful for all the support I’ve been shown during the launch of my second novel, The Gift, and absolutely delighted it has now been No.1 on Amazon in the UK for over 4 weeks and is in the Top 10 in Psychological Thrillers in the US, as well as debuting on the USA Today BestSellers List this week.

As a thank you I am giving away two audio versions of the book, narrated by the super talented Jasmine Blackborow (I’ll supply codes which can be redeemed on Audible). To enter either click this link to my Facebook post to nominate someone you would like to gift a copy of the audiobook to, or follow this link to my Twitter page and retweet to win a copy for yourself (you can enter both if you wish).

The competition is open to all and winners will be generated at random on Sunday 22nd January.

Thanks again.

Louise x

You wrote a novel about WHAT??? (What on earth is Cellular Memory?)

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I first heard about cellular memory about fifteen years ago and was intrigued with the concept that the cells of the body could store memories, and if organs are transplanted, these memories could also be transplanted with them.

Although this isn’t scientifically proven, there are an increasing number of doctors and scientists supporting this theory and further research is being carried out.

Endlessly fascinated I’ve spent years researching this subject and reading up on real life cases where recipients have received donor organs, in particular hearts, and inherited some attributes of the donor whether it is a craving for the donor’s favourite food, or, in more extreme cases, speaking a different language after the surgery that the donor could speak, or suddenly being able to play an instrument the donor could play.

Could this really be happening? Is the heart just a pump or is it something more? It wasn’t that long ago the heart was thought to be the centre of all knowledge and wisdom. Is it more than we think?

I desperately wanted to write a novel around cellular memory but I was wary. It is a subject I felt that deserved sensitively handling. Where there is a transplant, there has to be a loss. A grieving family. A recipient who has perhaps been ill for a long period and the impact that has had on their family and friends. I considered all of these points four years ago when I wanted to start writing a novel and I decided I didn’t have the experience to approach a story that included organ donation with the sensitivity it deserved.

Instead I wrote The Sister, a psychological thriller based around a grieving girl and I found that despite the genre of the book I was able to write it with raw emotion and when readers read it and fed back how connected and empathetic they felt towards the characters, I decided to tentatively start to write Jenna’s story in The Gift.

Jenna is a 30-year-old woman who receives a new heart and begins to have disturbing thoughts and dreams. She becomes obsessed with her donor, Callie’s family, and she doesn’t believe Callie’s accident was as innocent as it was purported to be. Jenna is determined to uncover the truth behind Callie’s death, to bring her bewildered parents the closure they deserve, but as she begins to dig and discover the secrets surrounding Callie, she finds there is someone who wants to silence her, at any cost.

The Gift is fiction, and of course as an author I have taken artistic license with the subject of cellular memory and I’m sure readers will understand the need to do this but I hope I have handled the medical aspect and the loss with accuracy and respect.

My family and I have been on the donor transplant list for years. I know it’s not always something families discuss and I do hope The Gift can strike up conversations about donation and perhaps encourage someone who might not have previously thought about it to sign themselves up to the register. Signing up really could save lives.

What do you think about cellular memory? I’d love to know.

 

The kindle version of The Gift is currently part of an Amazon Flash Sale and you can buy it in the UK here for £0.99 or the US here for $1.24. It is also available as a paperback or audiobook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sky streaks purple, orange, red before settling on its usual self-conscious blue as if it could never be more than that. But we’re all more than we think. Than we feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make your next book purchase count!

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Today is the publication date of Dark Minds, the charity anthology compiled by the fabulous Betsy Reavley of Bloodhound Books.

Firstly, the important stuff. All proceeds of  the sales of this book will be donated to Sophie’s Appeal and Hospice UK.

Sophie’s Appeal was founded in memory of Sophie Louise Barringer and supports the social, emotional and educational welfare of children, their families, nursing and support staff and provide a caring and supporting environment in both local hospitals and in the community. There are many ways the Trust provide support to parents, carers and schools who find themselves suddenly faced with the reality of cancer.

Hospice UK are the national charity for hospice care, supporting over 200 hospices in the UK. Their aim is to make sure that everyone with a life limiting or terminal condition rightly get the very best care, and hospices are critical to achieving this.

Two hugely worthwhile causes, so how can you help? Buy the book! It is packed full of short stories by some of the best crime writers around. I’m immensely proud to be included in this collection. My story, ‘The Shoes Maketh The Man’ is about Bill, a widower who lives alone since the passing of his wife, Maureen. Bill is anxious as he watches the news report of yet another attack on the elderly and when he hears disturbing noises coming from his friend Ethel’s flat above him he is faced with a choice. Should he investigate? Would you?

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You can read this, and other stories, including authors such as Lisa Hall, L.J. Ross and Steven Ross in the digital or paperback version of the book, or listen to it on audio if you’re brave enough.

Think you know Dark Minds? Think again…

Dark Minds is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

A day in the life of a thriller writer…Robert Bryndza

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Prior to writing crime Robert Bryndza wrote several romance novels but Robert is not a romance writer, nor is he a thriller writer. He is simply a BRILLIANT writer who I think could turn his hand to any genre.  The gripping openings and short chapters of his books ensure I keep reading long after I should have turned the lights out. The DCI Erika Foster series has been hugely popular and book three, Dark Water is now available to pre-order.

Every curious about other writers’ habits I invited Robert to take part in my blog series ‘A day in the life of…’ and give me some insight into how he spends his day as a full-time author writing thrillers – is it all murder and mayhem? I was surprised. 

 

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A day in the life of a thriller writer… Robert Bryndza

 

The alarm goes off at six thirty, but our two dogs Ricky and Lola always seem to anticipate it by ten minutes, so by 6.20am I’ll have various sqeaky toys shoved in my face, my ears nibbled, or more disgustingly, Lola will stick her tongue up my nose.

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I’d love to be able to roll out of bed and start writing, but dog walking comes first. Unless it’s raining, we take the dogs around the park opposite our flat and I really enjoy this, it gets ideas flowing and I love watching the seasons change, the sunlight on the river and meeting all the other half-asleep dog walkers.

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I’ve been writing full time for a few years now, and I’ve found I work best if I treat it like a full time job. I try to sit down and write by eight thirty in the morning, and I work through until twelve. The internet needs to be off and my phone has to be hidden or there is no hope of work being done!

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When I’m writing about murder and mayhem I always seem to crave a rest from it all by lunchtime, so we’ll eat in front the TV watching comedy. It can be an episode of Sex and The City, Only Fools and Horses, Entourage, Kath and Kim or Father Ted we have plenty of box sets we work through and as well as being hilarious, I think the writing is genius.

I find that I’m more productive after lunch, and afternoons are when I re-work what I’ve written in the morning. I can get really sucked into the story until I stop at three thirty. I try to write 2,000 words a day, more if things are flowing nicely.

I’ve said ‘we‘ quite a few times. My husband Ján also works from home, and we are lucky that we rarely get on each others nerves. My books are published here in Slovakia and Ján has tranaslated them all into Slovak. He is currently working on the translation of my romantic comedy Miss Wrong and Mr Right, which will be published in July. He also runs our house, my website, social media and manages the seven self-published books I have on Amazon.

I’m very lucky that he does all this, giving me plently of time to write.

I try not to write during the weekends, but I do like to use them for research. When I start a new book I buy a new notebook which becomes my bible, with ideas, research, character and place names. When I read my first draft through I will note down what happens in each chapter, any vital pieces of evidence, the names of murder victims, how they were killed, and any other important info.

As a book progresses, I become more obcessed with what I’m writing, and work will seep into weekends and evenings, and this is the time when I start waking in the night and worrying about motives, murder weapons, plot lines and pretty much everything else in between. This is when the notebook beings to fill up even more.

I realise that this all sounds idyllic and a slightly smug, so I will add that it‘s been a long journey to get here with years of rejection, and there were plenty of times when I nearly gave up!

There are days too where I procrastinate and waste time on the internet. Writing for me is never easy, I am often riddled with doubts and have to push myself to stick to deadlines.

It is, however, the best job in the world and I am thankful everyday that I now get to do it full time.

 

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Thanks so much Robert for taking the time to share. You can visit Robert’s website here, and his books from here (UK) or here (US).