Friday, 27 May 2016

Twelve Books To Date

I like to do word counts now and then. I figure when I've written 1 million fiction words I will officially have found my author voice. I'll be practiced at writing enough to have more confidence in each book. And of course it's an entertaining process getting to 1 million! I love to constantly practice at my writing. What better practice than to write?

Having my books on Smashwords means I can see all my book word counts. I added them up yesterday, just for fun. And the total to date is 683,080. I'm 316,920 words away from reaching 1 million. I figure that's 5 more 64K word novels, but each book is always different in length.

My blog/website banner currently shows all my books, apart from Flutterby Girl, which I'm currently writing. All my books are available globally as ebooks and in paperback. I'm just gonna put my banner here for this blog date, because it changes every few months. I'm hoping to have more fiction writing time come September yay!

Monday, 23 May 2016

Allison Smith Guest Post; Tame the Beast

Growing up, I heard all of the fairy tales. Bedtime just wouldn’t be complete without them. Big ball gowns, fairy godmothers, true love kisses … the born romantic in me was hooked! Unfortunately, princes are hard to come by in everyday life. It really is quite the shame. But that never stopped me from daydreaming, and somewhere between finishing my degree and paying the big girl bills, the Ever After series was born, a new adult romance series inspired by (but not retellings of) five different fairy tales.

The first, Tame the Beast, is set at the fictional college of Beaumont University. Inspired by many versions of Beauty and the Beast, it tells the tale of Clara Wright, a freshman who is less than thrilled about her new college life in a small town. That is, until she meets Adam Beaumont, shameless flirt and spoiled heir of the family who founded the university. When Adam’s mother, the dean, gives him a final ultimatum to get his act together, Adam seeks out Clara’s help with a plan that will show his mother he’s serious about his studies—and prove to Clara he’s more than a reputation. But even the best plans rarely go as intended especially when the beauty is just as headstrong as the beast. Although there are no magical roses or wicked enchantresses, the growing relationship is challenged with obstacles and troubles many readers can relate to.

Tame the Beast recently hit the Amazon eShelves in April, and the publication journey has been such an experience … an exciting, sometimes scary, experience, but a rewarding one! And I’m thrilled that Suz has given me the opportunity to share it with you!

You can find the story here.
For updates on upcoming stories or if you just want to stay connected, you can also find me at: AllisonSmithBooks, Twitter, and Facebook. You can even view my visual inspiration for Tame the Beast at Pinterest.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

JD Byrne Guest Post; The Water Road

JD Byrne here. I'm thrilled to announce that The Water Road, first volume of the fantasy trilogy of the same name, will be released on June 22. Thanks to Suz for letting me tell you about it. Here's the skinny:

Two women are about to expose a terrible secret that will turn their world upside down.

For centuries the great river known as the Water Road separated the Altrerians in the north from the Neldathi in the south. When the Neldathi clans united and struck out across the river, the nations of Altreria formed an alliance, the Triumvirate, to drive them back. For more than a hundred years after, the Triumvirate kept the Neldathi barbarians at bay, fighting amongst themselves across the Water Road.

Antrey is a woman without a country, the daughter of a Neldathi mother and an Altrerian father. She's found a role for herself in Tolenor, the headquarters of the Triumvirate, that's given her access to a secret the alliance has kept for generations. When she finds it, she explodes with rage and embarks on a quest to find justice for the Neldathi people.

Strefer is a reporter without a story, desperately working the streets of Tolenor for any kind of lead. When Antrey flees the city, Strefer slips in and discovers her uncovered secret, stained with blood and fury. It's the story of a lifetime, one powerful forces want to keep her from telling. With the help of a renegade Sentinel, Strefer sets out for a mythical city in hopes she can make the world listen to the truth.

Together, they'll inflame the passions of a people and set the world alight. The Water Road - first book of The Water Road trilogy.

I'm very pleased to reveal the cover for The Water Road, by Deranged Doctor Design:


Join me every week for Water Road Wednesday to learn more about the trilogy.

JD Byrne

Monday, 16 May 2016

Guest Post From Debbie at "My Random Musings"

I'm so pleased to host Debbie's guest blog about her love of reading and writing today. And here's her post about her favourite book of the year so far...

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To say I'm a book worm would be a bit of an understatement, so when I was asked to do a guest post for Suz about books, I jumped at the chance and today I would like to share with you all my favourite book I've read this year so far - In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

In A Dark, Dark Wood: Background

In A Dark, Dark Wood is categorised as a thriller. I think it's so much more than that. It is certainly a suspense filled thriller, but it also touches on the horror genre. I have a written a review of this book on my own blog, which you can read here - In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - to get a general overview of the book if you are unfamiliar with it. In A Dark, Dark Wood is Ruth Ware's debut novel. It is New York Times and a Sunday Times best seller, and it set to become a movie.

In A Dark, Dark Wood: Why I Chose This Book As My Favourite Book So Far This Year

I love how Ruth Ware takes us on a journey through both the past and the present simultaneously. As the tension In A Dark, Dark Woodbuilds in the current situation, we start to learn more about the back story between the characters of Nora and Clare - once best friends, but who haven't spoken in ten years. From the moment Nora receives the invite to Clare's hen weekend, we are left wondering why they haven't spoken in so long, and why Clare is reaching out to Nora now. As the book progresses, we are given enough information to keep us interested and wanting to know more, but never quite enough to paint the full picture until right at the end. The hen weekend is set to take place in a remote country side house. I love how what starts out as an idyllic location, peaceful and beautiful begins to seem dark and oppressive as the story becomes darker. The setting adds a definite layer of sinister intent to the book. All the characters in the book are really well written - some you'll love, some you'll hate, but they all make you feel something towards them which is not easy to achieve as a writer. My favourite character in the book is Nina, a mutual friend of Nora and Clare. Nina is straight talking, sarcastic and tough. She is funny, bluntly honest and doesn't care what anyone thinks of her. She is cleverly constructed to provide a voice of reason through the story and inject some wry humour. She is also the only character who knows both Clare and Nora and a part of their history together. The character of Flo, Clare's new best friend is a very interesting addition to the book. She is very needy and wants to be the centre of Clare's world. Although seemingly a weak character (weak emotionally, not the way she is written), her claws come out when her obsessive plans are disrupted and she thinks Clare may be upset at the turn of events. She is quite paranoid and not someone you would want to spend three days in isolation with. The book is written from the point of view of Nora, and through her eyes, we see the underlying tensions between the characters even before things start to go wrong. The setting, coupled with Flo's obsessive need for everything to run perfectly to plan (and her obvious dislike for Nora) make an uncomfortable experience for Nora, who plans to just get it over with. The fun soon starts to turn sour and the characters begin sniping at each other from pretty much the point of meeting of each other. As things spiral out of control, and on the surface they band together, there is still the underlying feel of tension between them, and it's only a matter of time before something has to give. Overall, In A Dark, Dark Wood is one hell of a good read and I would recommend you pick this up as soon as possible. You can view it on Amazon here. Thanks for having me Suz! My Random Musings Blog BadgeBorn in 1982 in North East England, I knew from an early age I wanted to be a writer. Life got in the way, and the dream was put on the back burner, although never forgotten. I now write my own blog, My Random Musings, and write guest posts for other blogs. My debut book of short stories, Twisted Tales, is due for release June 21st 2016 and I have just completed my first novel.
You can find me here: My blog, My Random Musings, Twitter Facebook and Instagram Please do stop by and say hi!

Friday, 13 May 2016

From Book to Big Screen; How to Get Your Novel Made Into a Movie

Today on my blog I'm absolutely thrilled to feature author Simon Oneill's guest post on script writing...

Magic Is Murder by Simon Oneill from novel to script:

“A celebrity author goes on a bloodthirsty killing spree to protect her family secret only to be driven insane by the ghost zombies she creates. An earthy British horror comedy in the style of Carry On, Monty Python, Blackadder all wrapped up in a Hammer Film. Discover the sex lives of ghosts in a most squeamish way. After all, life doesn’t stop when you’re dead?”

Above is the pitch for my novel Magic Is Murder. Readers loved it, except one who was a die-hard Harry Potter fan and reads nothing else. The darn blurb told her it was rude crude and extremely gory, but she read it anyway. My story basically follows Bianca who discovers her lover is cheating on her and has hocked a priceless pendant. She kills him and doesn’t stop killing as she loves it. Simple enough?

Then I had this brainwave – how do I get a producer to turn it into a movie? Not so simple. First you need a screenplay adaptation. The perfect 25 word pitch. Then an interested producer. Okay, I trawled the web and twitter – hit twitter like an aggressive twitter monkey – if you check my twitter feed nearly all tweets are now movie orientated instead of bookish – and friended a guy who produces and directs. As LUCK would have it - I emphasize luck for obvious reasons - he’s been looking for a horror to make, so I offered to send a signed copy to him as a Christmas present. He accepted. His wife read it and fell in love with it, so much so, that the producer was compelled to go forward with the project.

Now the really hard part – we contacted Welsh Film for lottery funding – a small amount to develop the script together and scout locations – they refused. The producer knew they would as the story wasn’t artsy enough. Meanwhile I started writing the screenplay after I had read a dozen times his Script Cheat Guide which taught me to write only what the camera sees, if it can’t be seen then it’s not in the script.

First came the 25 word pitch, and believe me that took a week – an entire week writing 25 words. Below is the pitch and you can see how much the story has changed.

Murderous fantasies become blood-soaked nightmares, only Bianca’s first love has the power to save her from a deadly curse, but can she handle his terms.

Magic Is Murder is now all about Maldini the magician who steals Bianca’s pendant for reasons only he knows – so not in the script until much later as a reveal. Maldini is hacked to death by an insane Bianca and buried in the back garden. But being a magician he returns as a ghost to torment her into marrying him as a corpse bride – this means Bianca must snuff it. There’s the entire story there – Bianca must stop an unstoppable ghost from killing her and marrying her in the afterlife. Maldini teams up with a powerful witch who casts a death spell on her. And the only one who can save her is her first love whom she jilted years ago.

I printed out each chapter then set about using only that which complied with the pitch. Rule 1 in writing a screenplay is stick to the pitch, don’t veer off on a tangent. All characters must conform to the pitch, if they don’t then remove them. That was hard getting rid of some great characters but it would also reduce costs.

Once I had the chapters needed, I reduced a copied word doc of the novel to required chapters and pasted it into Final Draft and off I went. Below are more important rules for screen writers –

Never tell the actors how to act – in my novel I squeeze out every possible emotion – stop! In a screenplay there is temptation to use (parenthetical) to give actor directions – stop! Leave the acting to actors, so use great dialogue and scene action to give them enough to act their little hearts out. Bianca – “How the fuck can I remove his wedding ring?” She tugs frantically at it. Script – Bianca – “How the fuck can I remove his wedding ring?” The actress will do the rest.

Never tell wardrobe what to do – how many books describe clothes in detail? Unless the actor is naked or has a specific weird costume on in the scene, then don’t say anything. That’s fewer lines in your screenplay and LESS IS MORE.

Never tell the director what to do – that’s the biggest mistake – don’t use - Close Up – On – Follow – Pan Around – Zoom In – if there is a scene say for example where there is a reflection of the killer’s grin in his victim’s eye – just say that. The director will know what to do.

Never put times of day in slug lines (scene headings) – Ext. Manor Grounds – Afternoon – should be - Ext. Manor Grounds – Day – only use Night and Day – the screenwriter puts where the sun is in scene or moon rises, sun sets instead of Dawn in scene heading. Also don’t say what the weather is doing in a scene unless in a snowscape.

Never repeat yourself in a screenplay. Information must only be said once, unless it’s a catchphrase a killer likes to use with every kill. But hard info like the colour of hair – only once.

Never describe your characters like your favourite actors. Big major insult unless they are attached.

Do try to give characters weird quirks that sets them apart.

Do use upper case for each actor in every scene the first time they are in it and always have actor in action before dialogue. Many a scene has been filmed without an actor due to lower case.

Do consider budget when writing screenplay – if next scene could be done in same room with different set up then do that – moving crew is very expensive.

When an actor moves into another room then start a new scene. Here’s a tough one – an actor is in the kitchen and sees two burglars hop over the garden wall and approach the house. This is two scenes INT for actor EXT for Two Burglars. Also never use the word Suddenly – 2 Thieves suddenly burst from Bank – should be - 2 Thieves burst from bank.

Also arrive late and leave early in every scene that way you keep the audience wanting more. And if you can start your screenplay ten or more pages in and still keep the plot then cut them. Scenes that end on cutting room floor are wasted money.

Writing screenplays is extremely difficult but can be far more rewarding than novels, especially when amazing actors love your work.

The Keystone


A boring visit to tour a crumbling ancient castle turns into WAY more than Jaclyn Davies ever dreamed possible. A sense of doom quickly descends upon her, and from that moment on things spiral out of control. From out of nowhere a figure appears, he somehow manages to burn a key into Jaclyn’s palm! She soon discovers her strange new tattoo is going to get her into a lot of trouble. Suddenly everyone wants to get their hands on what was taken from Jaclyn in a most unimaginable manner. The chase is on, even between realms. Jaclyn must fight against those who would use power for the wrong. Or does she realise there’s more to this struggle for dominion than anyone but her can ever conceive?

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The Keystone is available everywhere.
And here are some direct links to order:
Amazon ebook: getBook.at/KeystoneE
Amazon paperback: getBook.at/KeystoneP