Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Yes, it's hard not to get distracted

I should be writing. I have loads of editing to do on my current work in progress or as I prefer to call it my baby:  Love At Close Range.  I have finished the second draft and let it for a week to stew around in my head.  I like to look in on the characters and see what they're up to. Boy, they've changed a few things since I stopped writing about them.  Which means a lot of work ahead.  Which is currently the reason why I am wasting time on social media.
 I am browsing Twitter for Tuesday Motivation - I'm not getting any, I have to admit. Who wants to hang off the edge of an iceberg while being stalked by a polar bear just to prove you can get over the hard times?  Yes, I know you have to never give up, keep going, pick yourself up, be kind, finish the novel, persevere to the end, love everyone and come up with a rose between your teeth... gasp! I admit to being hopelessly inadequate. I admit to having a very exclusive Twitter account (in other words, I don't really have that many followers) I admit to being a nobody because I do not have a Facebook account and therefore cannot admire all those cute photos of friends and family which everyone else keeps telling me about.
I just am, really. I enjoy writing but I also enjoy reading, walking by the sea, watching quiz shows on TV. I'm going to the Everyman theatre in Cork on Thursday night. The Factory Girls is a comedy and just what I need. I love to laugh. And I love the atmosphere of the theatre, especially The Everyman, because I feel like I've had a night out.
Having written all that, I feel free to return to my editing again. Just need a cup of coffee to keep me company.  Here's the cover of the new novel. It won't be available just yet. In fact if I don't start work on it, it will never get out there.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Another dent in the learning curve of writing

I know - I haven't posted anything for ages. To tell the truth I've been watching the Euro 2016 Soccer. I love football, as I prefer to call it, and especially international games.  This time I was lucky because in addition to Ireland and Germany, England, N. Ireland and Wales also participated.  It was a bit tricky trying to arrange my social life around the matches but I managed it.
As I write, Wales are the only ones left in there and I think they have a good chance of getting into the final. I had originally tipped Belgium as a lot of people did. But that's football for you. Tonight Germany play Italy so I have an exciting evening of football to look forward to.

I remember when I became interested in football. It was too many years ago for me to admit to it. I was sharing a flat with a few girls and one of the boyfriends arrived early for a date. World Cup soccer was in the preliminary stages and while boyfriend was waiting for the girl to get ready he joined me in the sitting room where I bemoaned the fact that there was nothing but football on television (in those days we didn't have cable/satellite TV so you were stuck with what your national provider decided you should have).
'Football is a great game,' said the young man. I can't remember his name nor what he looked like but he did change the course of my sporting life! He proceeded to explain the finer points of the game to me, possession football, dribbling, the role of strikers and defenders and of course the off-side rule and what getting a penalty entails.He described it all in so interesting a manner that I was hooked. And I have been hooked ever since.

I don't want to moralize or making heavy going of it but there are some tips here for writers. Hook your reader from the word go and they will stick with you even if they have to concentrate here and there to get the full gist of the story. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Romance of Writing

As a teenager I devoured Mills & Boon Romance novels. My mother read them, too, and while our tastes differed somewhat, I read nearly as many as she did. I loved stories set in Africa: those tales of sundowners on the veranda, lounging around in cane chairs and going to "the club" for tennis or cocktail parties and the hero in tropical whites (although I can't recall ever reading what the man of the moment was dressed in). Money never seemed to be an object, either.  I thought it was the ultimate in glamour and romance. To be fair, some of my interest was in learning about the jungle and the wild animals that inhabit it but for the most part it was boy meets girl, obstacles arise to keep them apart and they get together about two or three pages from the end - all under a tropical sun. Perfect!

I wrote my first Romance novel about two and a half years ago. Love at a Later Date is for mature readers. The idea came to me when I overheard two grandmothers complaining about having to look after their grandchildren all the time. They would have liked more time to themselves, they said. It got me thinking about grandmothers in general - I am one myself. Nowadays grandmothers are a young-at-heart bunch who like to enjoy themselves after raising their own families. Why shouldn't they fall in love, start a new career and live life to the full if that is what they want? And then I wondered what their families would think.  Thus the idea for Love at a Later Date was born.  I enjoyed writing it.  As a writer you often have to struggle with the blank page, the "what should happen next" syndrome as I call it. But Love at a Later Date just flowed along and I had to make very few changes to the manuscript - I always do between five to ten edits on my work.
I hope the fun I had writing it shows through. I chose a bright cover with yellow flowers to mirror the feel of the novel.
It is available as an Amazon Kindle ebook.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Writing from the Heart

Every budding writer gets told to "write about what you know". We all know something about affairs of the heart so the rest should be easy.  But it doesn't work like that.  Theory and practice are always two different things.  Authors who set their stories in the past or in a future world are writing about what they can imagine.  Imagination is another word for creativity in my book. As long as you don't have heroines in their pretty crinolines taking a taxi to a neighbour's dinner party you are on the way to being credible. In fact, writers of historical novels have to do a great deal of research. The same goes for novels set in the future. They have more than a basis in current scientific developments.

Do you always need to do a bit of research before you write a novel? When I wrote Spate of Violence I was writing from my experience gained in the community I lived in at that time. None of the characters in it are based on people I knew. But I did know a lot about the darker side of urban crime.  For a few years I worked as a volunteer for an organisation which helped the victims of crime. This brought me into contact with many different people and their problems. As in all my novels, Spate of Violence is based on the "what if".  What if some outraged citizens decide to form themselves into vigilantes? It is not a moral judgement on society it is just a story from a few different points of view. I hope my readers enjoy it.

 Product DetailsLink to Amazon.com if you want to have a look.
Available from all Amazon sites as a Kindle e-book.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Plotting Characters

I am currently reading The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.  It's an exciting read with a massive plot twist - I am only half way through so there may be more twists to come, I'm pretty sure there are.

People sometimes ask me if the characters in my novels are based on people I know.  My answer to that is no, absolutely not.  For one thing, it would be impossible.  We really do not know people as well as we think we do.  We have very often little idea of what drives them, what their childhood experiences were, what really influences them and - most important of all - what they really think about important things.

Characters in my novels are probably based on bits and pieces of character traits I have observed over the course of my life.  I've met a lot of people from different backgrounds, people with a completely different view of life and its values to mine.  I've met people who have profoundly impressed me and people I didn't care too much for.  That is true of all of us, I guess.

The characters I create do what I expect of them, I can manipulate them, move them around the story like figures on a chessboard. Their role is to people the story and drive the plot. But I do like some of my characters more than others!  And yes, once in a while they want to behave differently than I planned.  This is all the fun of writing a novel. And it's hard work, too, of course. But that's what keeps me writing. 

Here is my latest novel, the second in the Sergeant Alan Murray series, now available as an e-book from Amazon.
ENDING IN DEATH (U.S. link) and U.K. Amazon link

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Stormy Sunday

It's a stormy Sunday morning as I write this.  I wish I had a better camera to show the white foam spilling onto the street, blown by a gale-force wind.  Here goes:
or looking out my back window, the river looks wild too.
Only when it's stormy do we realize there is not much we can do about it except sit it out.  This one is not so bad - there have been times when my street has been flooded.

Only one more week before I release my crime novel on Amazon Kindle.  I still have to do a final check on it.  But for today I am going to curl up with the Sunday newspapers, play some Simon & Garfunkel in the background and enjoy the day.
Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

This Writing Life - Letting Go the Novel

I am almost finished writing my crime novel Ending in Death under my author name P.B. Barry.  I have done at least twenty edits - I don't count them and it could be more than that - but now I just need to read the whole thing over again from start to finish and see if I've made any glaring mistakes and then I'm ready to go. It feels like the first time your child goes to school.  You have to let them out into the big bad world where they will be taken at face value.  The fact that this is your darling child has absolutely no influence on how they fare. Yes, you'd like to nurture them and keep them close but you know that's not the right thing to do.  So you watch them take their first steps away from you.
I've had a lot of fun writing this novel and I hope my readers will enjoy it.  

Ending in Death is the second novel in the Sergeant Alan Murray mystery series and will be available on Amazon Kindle e-books from the end of April 2016.  It is set in the fictional village of Ballyamber in the Kerry mountains.  A young girl's body is found near the village.  Who is she and what was she doing in such a remote area? Murray has only started investigations when Stanley Wallace, a businessman who has lately moved to Ballyamber, is also found murdered. Were both victims just in the wrong place at the wrong time or is there a more sinister explanation?