Sunday, December 19, 2021

2021 - A Review of Sorts


 Wow. Well we all thought 2020 was kick in the nuts, right? What about that 2021 then? That son of a bitch saw 2020 and said "Hold my beer!" Covid, Brexit, effects of climate change, supply chain issues, a dumb ass for a Prime Minister who makes Trump look almost competent, and now this grinch of a variation coming along to cancel Christmas like a second rate GoBot... 

Let's take a look back at the year, the books I've read, the shows I've devoured and the trials and tribulations I've endured as a freshling crime fiction author trying to find a home for my books.

READING

I have really dived back into reading over this year, the majority of which were crime novels. Peter James' first Roy Grace novel, Dead Simple; Ian Rankin's Rebus novels Mortal Causes and Let It Bleed got me started and then I was into Lin Anderson's Rhona MacLeod series. So far I've finished the first 6 books and am currently close to the end of the seventh, The Reborn, and I have to say I am loving these. I went crazy and bought the entire set of fifteen books, so by the time the sixteenth comes out in paperback in April next year I should have finished reading them.

But even with a Stephen King novel thrown in there (which I'm still waiting to read), my number one choice for the year was MW Craven and his Washington Poe and Tilly books. Wow, these snuck up on me and bowled me over. Moorish is the best way to describe them; the chapters draw you on, the writing is clean and waffle free and gets right to the heart of the matter. Several breadcrumbs have been left dangling (can you dangle a breadcrumb?) and I'm excited to see where the series goes. The fifth book, the Botanist, is due out next year.


Next year I plan to finish the Lin Anderson collection and then start on the Peter James books. I've several new authors I'm looking forward to adding to my TBR pile, at least they are new to me: Harry Fisher, Leigh Russell and Colin Dexter to name a few.

What's on your reading list for next year? What did you enjoy reading in 2021? 

Let me know below.


WATCHING

It's been all about the Marvel Cinematic Universe for me this year. This is my go-to happy spot; usually Thor: Ragnarok or one of the Avengers movies. It used to be Star Wars but now it's all MCU. This year saw new additions of Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings join the movie-dom, but also several exciting shows: WandaVision; Falcon and the Winter Soldier; Loki and most recently Hawkeye, each one adding more to the expanded universe while telling unique and intimate stories about some of what could be classed side characters. 

The inclusion of an animated series What If? which explores random potential stories such as What If Peggy Carter was given the supersoldier serum instead of Steve Rogers?

The latest movie to drop is Spider-Man: No Way Home and we're doing our best to avoid any spoilers due to not wanting to go to the cinema during this latest pandemic. We managed to avoid them for Black Widow and Shang-Chi, so fingers crossed.

And there's plenty more to come. 


Weirdly enough, I remember when I first started out writing screenplays many years ago, that I said to my brother how I'd love to write a Moon Knight movie, and he said they'd never do that. Well, there's one coming out soon...

What did you enjoy watching this year?

WRITING


I have written pretty close to a million words this year. Four novels with a fifth one underway, one novella, six short stories and a ton of work for the final year at University. Early 2022 will see me finish the degree so the majority of my time will be devoted to that as I want to ensure I get the best outcome as possible - my wife did the same degree and she got a First - challenge accepted.

In regards Louise Miller; let's have a brief chat. It has been a tough journey finding a home for Dirty Little Secret and the Louise Miller books. What should have been a fantastic debut release became a nightmare; not through any malicious act let me add, mistakes happen, but there were just too many and no real way of getting them fixed properly for me to continue with the publishers (who were great, very passionate about the genre).

And the search continued.

I've had interest from several agents and publishers and I'm hoping that come the new year, I will be able to announce a new publishing deal for the Louise Miller novels.

In the meantime I'm writing some new stories, working on a new novel in a new genre and mid-way through writing the third Louise Miller book - plenty to keep me busy.

So Merry Christmas everyone. It's getting a little crazy out there again, so please do everything you can to keep you and your family safe, and please have the best holidays you can. I think we've all deserved it.


All the best and see you in the new year.

JP




Sunday, December 5, 2021

When The Book Fights back


It has now happened with each of the three novels I've written, an occurrence so regular that this has now become part of my writing process, however frustrating it may be. The outline done, I get into my 6 pages a day routine, chugging along quite nicely, the story going where its supposed to, I'm happy as Larry and then BLAM! Major roadblock.

The story doesn't feel right; the characters sound wooden and hollow and I don't feel like the book is saying anything important. What follows next are days of stress, turmoil and serious self-doubt. What the fuck am I doing?

I'm writing, or at least I was. Right now, stuck as I am on this page fucking 60, I can't stand to look at it, let alone write anything. I question everything: my commitment to the work; the absurd reality of telling lies on a page for people to read. I hate the rapid taptaptap PAUSE taptaptaptaptaptapiity-fucking-tap that comes from my wife's side of the office as she happily types out her latest novel. I try to drown that noise out with Huey Lewis and the News or Bon Jovi, but when that doesn't work I call an audible and head to the couch where I spend the rest of the day snuggling between the kittens and watching Kitchen Nightmares on YouTube.

Thank fuck for YouTube.

It has saved me on many an occasion when the dreaded page 60 has struck. That Chapter and his videos of true crime cases, solved and unsolved; The Shaniacs and the Boogara's once of Buzzfeed Unsolved and now of Watcher. Then there are the live feeds of court cases the world over thanks to channels such as Law and Crime Network and Court TV. 

But you should be writing. Why aren't you writing? You're not writing.

No. I'm not writing because after 60 pages (roughly 20K words) I know there's something not right with the story I'd roughly outlined. This is one reason why I don't like to outline in detail and just put a few bullet points down for each chapter - because if it goes off the rails early on, my mind would be constantly trying to get it back on to that line, the destination the same.

Dirty Little Secret started out as a single murder with strong supernatural overtones that would be investigated with the help of a paranormal investigator - and that person would become the recurring main character on which the series would be based. From Sorrow's Hold, the second book in the Louise Miller series, was supposed to have wicked clues left with each body that needed to be decoded Dan Brown style. For the first 60 pages this is how each of those books went, but then the pause button was hit and the stories tweaked as they turned in new and better directions.

And taking a break for a few days certainly helped.

It has helped again. I've read more Lin Anderson (now onto book seven and loving the direction the series is taking), watched a lot of NCIS - as far as the free seasons on Amazon Prime allowed (15 if you're wondering) - and let the story churn and burn in the background, sifting through the story line, keeping what works and letting what isn't important fall away.

Tomorrow I get back on the horse and should have a finished draft by early January. I had planned to write the whole book in December, but (and I think this was adding to my page 60 nightmare) I can't just churn a book out in a month. I'd like to and I wish I had the skills to do that, but that just isn't me. It's not how I write and it's not how I want to write. I've cleared my head of a lot of the extraneous shit that was taking up space and I'm confident I can sit back down and get on with writing the book.

At least that's the plan today. Tomorrow that might change.

Fucking Librans!

Cheers - JP

You might also like: