Today is my stop in the Blog Tour for The Dead of Winter by Billy McLaughlin. This is a 40,000 word novel that will be released on March 13th. Today he will be telling us about his Road to Publication with The Dead of Winter:
‘The Dead of Winter’ will be the fourth book that I’ve self-published. I was in the middle of writing my next book ‘The Daughter’ which is the third book to feature DI Phil Morris. I had hit a bit of a brick wall with that one so decided to take a break. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your outlook, my brain didn’t let that happen. I kept getting these other idea’s coming to me. So I thought I’d throw out a novella, something quick to fill a gap when people kept asking when the next book would be finished. That novella ended as a 40,000 word novel. So it is still a quick read but not as quick as I first promised. The book was edited by Emma Mitchell who also gave me great insight that I, as the writer, didn’t fully have. This has allowed me to fix all those little nagging things that I might not have been insightful enough to fix myself. It took me approximately six weeks prior to the final edit to work through several versions of the manuscript. I took on board many of the suggestions for change from two very reliable sources and I feel that this made the book flow better and addressed a couple of things that were left hanging. I designed the cover myself and I think it’s one of my favourite that I created myself. Whilst the book was away, I managed to finish writing ‘The Daughter’. That is due in late Spring / early Summer, so there is plenty time to work on it. Right now, I’m just excited to get ‘Winter’ before reader eyes.
Pre-order The Dead of Winter:
Description of The Dead of Winter:
One missing baby! One runaway teenager! Coincidence?
Detective Kevin Wallace doesn’t think so. And neither do the residents of Golf Road, who are all too quick to point the finger at a man with severe learning disabilities. As Wallace and a colleague, who has already experienced the ugly nature of this particular community, get closer to the truth they may not like what is hidden behind closed doors.
This is a brand new mystery from the writer of ‘Lost Girl’ and ‘In the Wake of Death’. Let the chills commence.
**The Dead of Winter is just under 200 pages, so go ahead and pre-order it! Then on March 13th it will magically appear on your kindle!
Today is my stop in the Blog Tour with Bloodhound Books for Anglesey Blue by Dylan H. Jones. Today I will be interviewing Dylan!
A Gripping New Serial Killer Thriller
MURDER. BETRAYAL. REVENGE.
It’s not the homecoming Detective Inspector Tudor Manx was expecting, but solving the case is just the start of his problems.
Recently transferred from the London Met to the North Wales Constabulary, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx has come to Island of Anglesey hoping for a quiet life. But his hopes are dashed when a brutally mutilated body is found crucified to the bow of a fishing boat sending shockwaves through the peaceful community. Manx’s faces pressure to solve the case quickly equipped with an inexperienced team.
Is the body a message or a premonition of more murders to come?
Adding to his mounting problems, Manx’s troubled past returns to haunt him. Manx left the island after the disappearance of his younger sister, Miriam; a cold case that still remains unsolved. Can Manx solve the case before the body count rises? How will he cope when he is forced to choose between his family and his duty as a police officer?
This is the first book in the thrilling new DI Tudor Manx series.
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
Dylan: I’m a native of Wales who now lives in Oakland, California with my wife Laura and daughter Isabella. I was actually born and spent much of my young life on the Island of Anglesey before moving to the North East of England at the age of seven. We returned to Anglesey when I was fourteen years old. I could still speak the language, but my abilities to write and read Welsh had remained at those of a seven-year-old. (Not much Welsh education to be had on the outskirts of Newcastle). I moved to Northern California in 1999, but visit the UK at least once every year.
JRR: That is great that you are able to ‘return home’ at least yearly! Did you always want to become an author?
Dylan: I always wanted to write: whether that was as an author, scriptwriter, journalist or anything that included putting pen to paper and putting form around ideas. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had a career that allowed me to be creative and to write. I worked for Channel 4 as a producer back in the day, which was an incredibly creative environment to work in, and I’ve worked in TV in some form ever since. Today, I run my own video content agency.
It took me quite a few years to gain the confidence to paint on a larger creative canvas, and to even begin to attempt a novel. Now it’s actually done and published, I couldn’t be more thrilled an I’m off to the races on book two.
JRR: That’s great that you were able to accomplish all of that! What inspires you to write?
Dylan: Many things. Other novelists, great TV drama, even just a line of a lyric can inspire an idea or spur a scene. Sometimes, it’s just that niggling itch that needs to be scratched.
JRR: When that itch needs to be scratched you better do it! Which leads to my next question: What does your writing process consist of?
Dylan: I think I’ve whittled it down to three basic elements:
- The initial story idea: which involves a lot of wandering around my own head and whispering sweet “What if’s?” to myself for quite a while until the urge to write it down becomes too great.
- The sketch: like a artist, I like to sketch the bones if the story down first, then begin to add the colour, shade and the lighting as I re-write.
- The sweep up: going back a few pages on the story at the start of every writing day and sweeping up the bad stuff I wrote yesterday.
I’m not one for plotting the whole story out before hand. I like know the skeleton of the story when I start, and often know the very last sentence of the book, but the joy is putting flesh on the bones and enjoying the journey that leads me to that last sentence.
JRR: Even if you plot out a story the characters could, ‘take over’ and change everything you had planned! I like how you know what the last sentence is. That last sentence is important and can sometimes change everything in a book!
What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?
Dylan: It’s a cliche, but just write; and of course read as much as you can. Theres no substitute for actually tying yourself down in a chair and pounding at the keyboard. It’s hard work, it’s sometimes joyful, oftentimes frustrating but there is no better way to earn your chops as a writer than just writing.
JRR: Good advice! Just write. Who was your favorite author as an a child and who is your favorite author as an adult?
Dylan: As a child, I loved the Famous Five stories, then graduated to the Pan Books of Horror short stories in my early teens- which may explain a lot.
As an adult, I have incredibly eclectic tastes: TC Boyle, Sadie Smith, Stephen King, Jo Nesbo, Val McDermid. I’m always looking for authors that move me with their words and can spin a great yarn. As a writer, I think you learn from every author you read, so why stick to one genre?
JRR: I’m like you. I don’ stick to one genre of books. If it interests me I will read it! Anglesey Blue takes places in Anglesey, Wales where you are originally from. You now live in California. Earlier you said you still visit Anglesey. What made you want to base your novel there?
Dylan: Yes, I visit around once a year, sometimes more. My parents, sister and most of my immediate family still live there.
As a fan of Scadi-Noir, I often felt Anglesey had the same brooding undercurrents bubbling away at its core. The island is rich source of ideas and inspiration. It was voted the 2nd most popular tourist attraction in the UK last year and people often only see the island as a tourist destination. I wanted to throw a different light on the island and show that beneath the scenic beauty there is also a seam of dread and evil, albeit fictional.
JRR: That sounds good! Give a different perspective of the island, even though it is fictional. Where did you come up with the Detective Inspector Tudor Manx character? Is he based off anyone you know? What can you tell us about his character?
Dylan: He’s not based on anyone I know, but he is a greatest hits compilation of many people I know. He’s a deeply troubled man who’s looking to alleviate the burden of guilt he’s felt since the age of seventeen when his younger sister, Miriam, vanished under his supervision. That year became the most traumatic of his life and led him to move away from the island, leaving his family behind.
Over thirty years later, he’s returned to the island, not by choice, but by tragic circumstance. As the DI over the island, he bears a stiff responsibility, and one he takes seriously. For Manx, it’s not just about solving the cases that come his way, now he’s back he has to deal with the demons of his past and the family he’s neglected for three decades. He’s a difficult man to get close to, as many of his colleagues discover. On the lighter side, he does have a penchant for smoking too many King Edward Cigars, enjoys single malt whisky a little too much, only listens to Americana music (Lucida Williams being a firm favorite) and has a cutting, sardonic wit. Some might call that a coping mechanism; I just call it a character trait.
JRR: If readers want to know anything else about him and get to know him then they need to read your book! 😉 What made you want to write a thriller/suspense/crime fiction novel?
Dylan: I’m a huge fan of crime fiction, whether it’s written or dramatized. I think crime-fiction is often looked down upon by the more literary world, when in fact I don’t think there’s a better vehicle for exploring human emotions and desires.
At the end of the day, character is what drives the plot of any crime novel, and I hope in my books I’m creating complex and compelling characters that are pushed by circumstances to turn to crime and the effect this has on the people around them. Even with my most abhorrent of characters, I always want to present a three-dimensional person with lots of light and shade, after all none of us are pure evil or pure saintliness- it’s the degree of how we manage those dueling aspects of our personalities that interests me.
JRR: There is something about crime fiction and true crime that just appeals to people. Anglesey Blue is going to be a series. How many books do you plan on writing?
Dylan: I really don’t know at this point. I’ve began number two, and have a vague idea for number three. I’m definitely going for four books at this point as I always intended to set each novel in a different season, the first being set in the winter.
There’s an arc that connects all the books: the mystery of what happened to Manx’s sister all those years ago. I’m just beginning to figure out how many books I can stretch that mystery over without totally frustrating the reader.
Ideally, I can see the series running for many years and I’m looking forward to writing more of Manx’s journey as he searches for the redemption he’s looking for and hopefully a sliver of happiness somewhere along the journey.
JRR: Sounds like you have a plan and we have several books of yours to read over time!
**Thank you so much for your time Dylan!
About the Author (Courtesy of Bloodhound Books):
Dylan is a native, Anglesey-born Welshman who now lives in Oakland, California with his wife Laura and daughter, Isabella. He has worked as a media executive and copywriter at various TV networks and advertising agencies both in London and San Francisco. Currently, he is owner and Creative Director of Jones Digital Media, a video content agency.
Dylan was born on Anglesey and moved away when he was seven years old to the Northeast of England. His family then moved to the Wirral for several years before settling back on Anglesey when he was fourteen. Dylan studied Communication Arts and Media at the University of Leeds, then moved to Cardiff, working for S4C. In 1993 he relocated to London as a Creative Director with Channel 4 TV. Today, he lives in Oakland, California. His parents, sister and most of his immediate family still live on the island.
Anglesey Blue is the first in a series of crime novels featuring the sardonic, sharp-witted but troubled detective, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx. Dylan’s life, both on and off the island, inspired him to develop the series.
“I love to use my imagination to create believable characters in a setting I know well,” Dylan says. “I want DI Tudor Manx and all the supporting characters to live in readers’ minds for many years. I’m looking forward to writing more of Tudor’s journey as he confronts the demons of his past to find the peace and redemption he’s searching for.”[Top]
Today is my part in the blog tour for Love Them and Leave Them by Sue Shepherd. Today I am interviewing her!
Description of Love Them and Leave Them:
Sometimes you have to leave the one you love … sometimes you’re the one who’s left behind. The new heart-warming and heart-breaking romantic comedy from the No.1 bestselling author of Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?
On his way home, Ed makes a split-second decision that changes the lives of all those who love him.
Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessie, is stuck in a job with no prospects, her dreams never fulfilled. It will take more than her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, and temperamental best friend, Coco, to give her the confidence to get her life back on track.
But what if Ed had made another decision? It could all have been so different …
Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessica, has a successful career, loving boyfriend, Nick, and a keen eye on her dream home. But when new clients, a temperamental Coco, and her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, walk into her life, Jessica’s perfect world soon starts to unravel.
Love Them and Leave Them is a story of love, families, friendship and a world of possibilities. Whichever decision Ed makes, the same people are destined to come into his daughter’s life, sometimes in delightfully different ways. And before they can look forward to the future, they will all have to deal with the mistakes of the past.
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you?
Sue: Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer. I doubt it’s the first book I read by myself, but it’s certainly the first one that really had an impact on me. Charlotte goes to bed in a new boarding school and wakes up 40 years in the past. She then switches back and forth through time with a girl called Clare. The book is a product of the sixties, like me! Reading it sparked my life-long obsession with all things time-travel. I remember pondering the paradoxes and trying to work it all out. It’s a beautifully written piece of work, which not only gave me the interest in time-travel but also moved me. The relationship between Charlotte and Clare’s sister, Emily, who Charlotte spends a lot of time with, is incredibly touching. I still read it every few years and I always feel the same excitement and see the same images in my head.
JRR: That sounds interesting! If you could only take one book with you on a desert island, which would it be?
Sue: Well now, given my answer to the first question, it won’t surprise you to hear that I’d choose the novel ‘The Time Traveler’s wWife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read it. For me, the fact that the first time Clare meets Henry is not the first time Henry meets Clare is wonderfully enticing. Yes, I still need to keep checking, where are we? Who are we? What’s going on? But I love it.
JRR: I’m not surprised with that answer. What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Sue: I’d say that was a tip I received during a Creative Writing Course – ‘End every chapter at a point where your reader is unable to put the book down.’ It’s very tempting when you’re writing, to tie everything up nicely at the end of a chapter, and then move onto the next part of the story. But, seeing it from the reader’s viewpoint, that becomes a brilliant place to put the book down and turn off the light. As a writer one of the best compliments I can receive is ‘I couldn’t put it down. I just had to know what was going to happen next.’ This feeling of desperation to read on is not created by nicely rounded off chapters. For me, one of the fun parts during the editing stage is to go through the book deciding where a chapter might end. As I add a page break, I can hear my friends saying. ‘Oh, for goodness sake, what a place to stop!’
JRR: Oh yes! I love books where you don’t ever want to put them down! I’m a slower reader and I also like short chapters. Those make me feel like I’m reading faster. Shorter chapters also make it harder to put a book down. “Oh the next chapter is just four pages. I’ll keep going!”
Now for the opposite of the last question: What’s the worst advice you have ever received?
Sue: This would have to be the advice I receive from my husband every time we go on the Isle of Wight ferry. “You can drink that coffee now, it’s not too hot.” I fall for this advice every time, and I am here to tell you, those lattes are damn near nuclear. Each trip to the mainland starts with a burnt lip. I never learn!
JRR: Shame on your husband! Now, who would you like to star in the film of your life?
Sue: This is an amusing question because I cannot for one minute imagine anyone wanting to watch a film of my life. I mean, yes, it’s been fun so far, and there have been many high points. Travelling around Australia in my youth, having babies, getting married, seeing my books published – they’re all wonderful things. But, jeez, what a boring film! However, I will answer the question because you asked so nicely. What I will say here is that I am incredibly clumsy. I have fallen over whilst walking the dog on many, many occasions and I break everything I touch. Therefore, whoever plays me would absolutely have to be a comedy actress. I’m going to say someone like Jessica Hynes . I think she’d make a good job of the comedy falls. She’ll need a bit of help from the make-up department to do the more recent scenes though, because she’s younger than me.
JRR: She has a great name! 😉 If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
Sue: I asked this question at a blog party recently and I was given the answer that the person would watch her son at school, to see how he gets on. I think I would have to agree with that answer. My youngest son is thirteen and I can say, without bias, that he’s an amazing mimic. He makes us laugh with his accents and comedy sketches. He provides me with lots of material for the young male characters I write about. So, if I was invisible, I’d like to watch him at one of his drama classes. Sometimes he comes home and tells me about a bit of improvisation they’ve done and I really wish I could’ve see it.
JRR: Good choice! If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?
Sue: Well it would be a Sunday for a start. We’d kick off with a lovely full English breakfast, with plenty of tea and toast at the end. My husband and I refer to those meals as ‘Agatha Christie breakfasts’, because many of her characters lived in beautiful country houses and enjoyed elaborate breakfasts. Then, we’d walk the dog on the local beach. His name is Forrest and he’s a two-year-old standard poodle. We keep him cut short, no fancy pom-poms for Forrest, they wouldn’t suit his nutty nature. Next, I’d rather like to spend a couple of hours working on my latest novel. I try to write every day, but don’t always manage it. But, seeing as this is my perfect day, there will definitely be time. After I’ve effortlessly written a couple of thousand words, we’ll have a late lunch in a lovely old pub. I’d choose the roast, of course. There’s something about a roast dinner that says comfort. Lastly, we’ll all head home and choose a film to watch together. Sadly, as our boys are now teenagers, the chances of finding a film that we’d all like are slim. But we might just manage to find a good comedy. By the way, there may be a glass or two of wine with the film.
JRR: That sounds good! I’m from America so I would enjoy a little bit of the ‘English experience’ you could give me! What do you think is the best thing about social media?
Sue: As a writer who’s on her own all day, social media is kind of like my work colleagues. I can check in with other authors, bloggers and my friends, whenever I need to. People ask me, ‘Don’t you get bored on your own all day?’ But I honestly don’t feel alone. I have Forrest for physical company and, thanks to social media, I have a world of people to chat to, as and when I choose.
JRR: And the worst…?
Sue: I hate it when I get caught up watching videos. Someone will have shared one video which is funny and I’ll enjoy it, but then Facebook will start to play me another, and then another. Time runs away with you when you’re watching those short clips and before you know it the family are home and you have to put the laptop away. The other thing I cannot abide about social media is the individuals who use other people’s photographs to get likes or comments. Sharing photographs of a poorly child you’ve never met and asking people to type amen ought to be a crime. It’s sadly one of the things that Facebook don’t seem to be able, or willing, to crack down on. Obviously, I don’t follow those kind of accounts, but they still manage to pop up on my newsfeed occasionally.
JRR: Yes those can be some of the negatives with social media. And also the ‘trolls’ that are out there.
**Thank you Sue for your time! I enjoyed getting to know you through this interview!**
Sue Shepherd writes contemporary romance and enjoys creating novels with heart, laughs and naughtiness. She doesn’t pull any punches when choosing her subjects, but manages to handle her characters’ challenging situations with sensitivity and humour. Her debut novel, Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret? was published by Corazon Books in March 2015. It reached the top 10 UK Kindle chart, and also topped the romantic comedy, contemporary romance and humour charts. It became available in paperback on Amazon in November 2015.
Sue’s second novel, Love Them and Leave Them, was published in September 2016.
Sue lives on the picturesque Isle of Wight with her husband, two sons and a standard poodle. Her passions in life are: her family, writing, the sea-side and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years. Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies and she’d prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November![Top]