Creating an adult colouring book

Gillian Adams shell mandala

Painting in watercolours or acrylics has been a relaxing hobby for me. I also love drawing in pen and ink so was delighted to see that these were gaining popularity through adult colouring books.

Being creative, whether it's making earrings or doodling, can be totally absorbing so I can understand why these books have a calming effect on people.

As well as writing fiction, I've also started the first drawing for my own colouring book which will be ocean themed.

As I grew up and still live in the south-west of England, I've found the coastline very inspiring so some of the images will include myths from the area such as mermaids and pirates - though not necessarily on the same page!

All the images will be hand drawn, then scanned into my computer and the first one, pictured above, will be a shell mandala.

The book will be published through Createspace and available on Amazon by late Spring 2016.

In the meantime, happy colouring!

Agatha Christie: A visit to And Then There Were None filming location

Mullion cove
 One of my inspirations for mystery writing is crime novelist Agatha Christie.
Over Christmas 2015, the BBC aired an adaptation of And Then Were None, featuring top actors such as Charles Dance, Sam Neill, Toby Stephens, Miranda Richardson and Poldark’s Aidan Turner.
In the book the mystery takes place on an isolated rock off the Devon coastline, where 10 strangers stay in a house and are murdered one by one.
Some of the filming took place in Cornwall and on a recent weekend away I stayed at one of the locations.
There’s not much at Mullion Cove aside from the harbour and a view dominated by the island, but it was perfect for a tranquil getaway.
Mullion island from cliff
The harbour is now owned by the National Trust, but was built in the 1890s to shelter the pilchard fleet, which was important to the Cornish economy during the 18th and 19th centuries. The island is a now bird reserve.
While recharging my batteries I gazed upon the place where the characters gathered to be boated out to stay with their mysterious host. The island at Mullion was also used to represent the island in the drama, though there is no house, which was added post production.

Around the corner from Mullion Cove is Kynance Cove, where more boating scenes were filmed.
Here are my two favourite quotes from And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie:
“One of us in this very room is in fact the murderer.”
 “In the midst of life, we are in death.”
Click here to read my travel review of Mullion Cove Hotel apartments.



Feature on US author's book club blog

EB 2
I was recently featured on the book club blog of US author Elizabeth Bourgeret. Elizabeth writes fiction and non-fiction and regularly highlights books and author profiles of up-and-coming writers.

I was delighted to have an author profile so people can find out about a bit more about more about how I discovered my passion for mysteries.

"It's hard not to feel inspired as Agatha Christie's former home is an hour's drive from me in the south west of the UK."

To read the full article click here.

EB 1

Feature on We Love Readers website

WeLoveReaders SM

Murder in the Bougainvillea was recently featured for 24 hours on the website We Love Readers as the bargain book of the day.

The website is run by a lovely lady, Connie Brentford, and aims to help readers "find the good stuff – and the good deals – and pass it all on to you."

As a self published author, reaching your audience can be a challenge, so being featured on a website with avid readers (especially of mysteries) is wonderful.

Review on Reading Writings book blog

Star  Star  Star  Star  Star

My book, Murder in the Bougainvillea, was recently reviewed and featured on a book blog called Reading Writings. It also links into facebook and google+ pages.

Geeta and Rajalakshmi are the duo behind this blog who post author spotlights and book reviews. Rajalakshmi reviewed my book and gave it 5/5 stars.

Here's an extract from the review:

"Murder in the Bougainvillea is a story that is short, sweet and at the same time compelling. You can't stop once you start reading. The story has all the required elements of a supernatural murder mystery. It has a well-written plot, tight narrative, excellent characterization and above all, absence of jargons."

Read the full review here: Reading Writings

Three months on...

MITB 3 months on

After I hit the publish button it's a nervous wait until the first reviews are in before I find out how well, or not, my book has been received.

I edit and revise a story many times and it can be hard to see the wood for the trees, as the saying goes, so while I think it's entertaining, I don't actually know until my readers tell me!

It's been three months since I published Murder in the Bougainvillea, the first of the Natasha Green books, and a good time for a little overview of how it's done. 

Yesterday saw it reach 10 ratings on Goodreads (with 7 reviews) and an average of 4.40 out of 5. On Amazon US it has four five-star reviews on an Amazon UK it has one five-star review. 

I want to thank everyone who leaves reviews, not just for me but for for all self published authors. They really do make a difference to us!

I'm very happy that readers are enjoying it and I'm busy writing the second one.



Flights of fancy generate more ideas

My first Natasha Green mystery is set in a hotel on the outskirts of the fictional city of Augur, in the south west of the UK. The second is set at the heart of the city, in its exhibition centre during the regional final of a gaming tournament.
My 'earth' is set 100 years after an environmental imbalance caused the magical realm to break through to our world in certain places, so beings from myth and legend now live alongside humans. 
This made me wonder what the supernatural community would think of online games such as World of Warcraft. Would they be amused or angry? I decided it was probably a mixture of both and that some entrepreneurial beings would create their own game.
The result of these thoughts is the game Midnight, which is the best thing in online role playing. They also hold gaming tournaments around the world, starting with regional, then national finals and going onto a world champion. The tournament version, called Midnight Mayhem,  is a little different as players are each given a territory and similar resources with the goal of taking as much land as possible from everyone else.
I thought this was a fun set up for Natasha as it takes her out of her comfort zone of gardening and into a new arena. Her cousin Dom, who is one of the five regional finalists, persuades her to go along and watch him play.
I enjoy world building and am happy that my 'what if' musings came up with this particular background to the mystery, plus it allows Natasha and Dom to spend some quality time together.
Just for fun, I created a poster for Midnight Mayhem (see below).
I'm currently writing the first draft of this second mystery, Murder in the Lotus Flower, and it's due out by the end of 2015.

Murder in the Bougainvillea is published

I'm very excited to announce that the first of my cozy mystery series, Murder in the Bougainvillea, was published on Amazon on August 24.

The series features observant gardener Natasha Green, who is trying to quietly go about her work, but keeps getting drawn in murder.

The blurb for this first novelette is: Being stranded in a country hotel during a storm with an odd mix of human and supernaturals wasn't how Natasha Green had pictured her latest gardening job. When the body of a dead demon is found, the finger of suspicion points at her. Natasha must use her keen skills of observation to find the murderer, before her own deadly secret is revealed.

I will be doing some free days during September and am eagerly awaiting some reviews!

Watch the book trailer:






The end is in sight...again

The end sm

A few months ago I decided to concentrate on writing a mystery series of short stories to publish as this is more manageable for me with full-time work.

Now the first one is nearly done and the end is in sight. It's been a rollercoaster of loving and sometimes hating the characters. I've edited the copy until I couldn't stand to read another word and then still went back for more.

Now I'm doing the final tweaks and am proud of my first cozy mystery (think Agatha Christie genre!). It's come in at under 11,000 words so is officially a novelette and it's been a tough balance to have enough characters for suspects but not too many to overwhelm the plot. 

I love the twists and turns of the cozy mystery genre and the gradual reveal of the secrets and motivations of the characters and hope readers will enjoy it too.

There seems to be a huge gap between my initial outline to where it is now, but that was filled with patiently plodding along, doing at least an hour a night after work, and gradually it formed into the finished book.

Once it's complete there is still the cover to be finalised, the book trailer and the promo work for the launch to be sorted out, but my eye is already on the next book to keep the series flowing.

I've started thinking about characters and have a rough plot.

However, once I hit publish on Amazon I will be marking the occasion with a glass of wine. I think it's important to give yourself a little pat on the back for such accomplishments.

Then to do it all again….


Decisions: to use an editor or not?

Grammar 2

In traditional book publishing every author has an editor, however in the self-publishing industry the area is a little grey.

Of course it would be fabulous to have the input of an experienced professional but costs can be prohibitive. One one hand you've slaved away for many months to create your book, but do you then spend a few hundred pounds on editing services? While you may want your story to be the best it can, costs may be out of your reach.

I faced this dilemma recently on the first in my series of cozy mysteries featuring gardener Natasha Green. I've worked in the newspaper industry for many years, both writing and editing articles. I like to think my grasp of grammar is reasonable but wondered if my story lacked professional polish.

As the story was under 11,000 words, the cost wasn't excessive (under £55) so I decided to treat myself and see what an editor would bring to my novel.

When it was returned I was happy to see that there weren't massive red lines all over it and the plot and pacing held up to scrutiny. The line edits showed some areas of dialogue and description that needed tightening up and the feedback gave me a couple of points to work on. Most of all it gave me reassurance my self-editing was fine.

Overall I was pleased with the result and wouldn't rule out doing this again for a short story, but I'm not sure I'd be willing to invest my hard-earned cash on a longer and therefore more expensive novel. At least, not until I'd built up some sort of following so I'd know there would be a few sales to make up costs.

I'm lucky to have several years of self-editing experience but if you don't have that the good news is  there are lots of people out there willing to help authors who wish to self publish. I'm talking about Goodreads.

While most editors charge a fee (or you may find a low-cost service on Goodreads) there is also the option of beta readers, some of which will give their time for free and some will also offer light editing as part of that. 

Beta readers will look over your novel from a readers point of view and comment on characters, plot and setting. While they are not editors you'll get a good insight into what does and doesn't work in your novel. Most authors tend to have beta readers look over their work before it goes to an editor, but you could do the process of re-writes and beta reads a couple of times to knock your novel into shape.

One thing that does need to be right is spelling and grammar and this is where proofreaders come in.  Most will charge but they are cheaper than editors so this may be within your price range.

Otherwise get searching within Goodreads groups for some worthy volunteers.

So the questions of whether to use an editor or not? I'd say yes, every book needs an editor, however not every author can afford one so beta reading and proofreading are good alternatives.