Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Books You'd Like to See Made into Movies

I listen to the radio a lot in the car and lately it seems I can't tune in without hearing something about 50 Shades of Grey. Yes, I know it's a massively popular book and I can see why the movie is such a big deal, but the level of hysteria is ridiculous. A group of women even set upon a man with their fists in a cinema recently because he dared to speak during the showing. Where did this happen? In Scotland, of course...

I think even EL James's staunch supporters could admit that her writing hardly ranks up there with the likes of Shakespeare. Or perhaps the quality of the prose isn't what they're reading for. Whatever, I'm sure many of us could think of books that are more deserving of the Hollywood treatment (don't even get me started on Twilight!) So I thought I'd offer my own suggestion and feel free to add your own in the comments.

Two first-class thrillers I've read in recent times are The Mistaken and Leverage by the fantastic Nancy S. Thompson. The writing is so visual and I could see the white-knuckle action unfolding in my mind's eye all the way along, so adapting them would be an obvious choice. The books follow Tyler Karras's descent into violent chaos, as the death of his wife plunges him into a grief-stricken journey of retribution that lands him in deep trouble with the Russian Mafia along with innocent bystander Hannah Maguire and, later, her son Conner.

I even have actors lined up to portray the two leads. Eric Bana would be a great choice for Tyler as he is rough and tough enough for the role while also having a softer side. During the books, Ty frequently flips between these two sides of his personality. Also, Bana comes from Australia and has played American roles. Ty was born in London but grew up in Australia before moving to San Francisco, so he has something of a hybrid accent. Bana would be well equipped to take this on.

Main female character Hannah is feisty and refuses to give up even in the most dire of situations. I'm pretty sure she is described as red-haired, or at least this is how I always pictured her. Alyson Hannigan would be a great pick to portray her after her kick-ass role in Buffy.

Conner would need to be a young, handsome upcoming star and I'm, um, not too up on those. Any suggestions?

What books do you think deserve a movie treatment? Who would star in them?

Friday, 13 February 2015

One Good Catch cover reveal and The Great Time Lock Disaster launch

Looks like Friday the 13th is lucky for some because I've got some excellent news to share from two wonderful writers.

First up is the cover reveal for Heather M Gardner's new novel, One Good Catch.

  One Good Catch

A Maguire’s Corner novel

Title: One Good Catch
Author: Heather M. Gardner
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs
Release Date: March 13, 2015

Ignoring a recent trauma that is affecting her everyday life, ER Doctor Kate Maguire engages in some high risk activities, but putting herself in these dangerous situations isn’t enough to feed her edginess. She needs something more. When her brother’s high school best friend comes back to town, it’s her chance for a ‘no strings attached’ fling with the man who still headlines in all her best dreams.

Rhys MacGrath’s days of one-night-stands are long over. The pro-football player might be side-lined at rehab for a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t mean he can’t admire and desire the all-grown-up, so-damn-hot, version of the tomboy he once knew. His sudden interest in Kate might be aggravating his best friend, who doesn’t approve, but it’s her indifference that’s driving Rhys crazy.

Everything heats up when Kate’s nosy nature sets her in the line of fire of an arsonist forcing them to deal with more than just the sparks igniting between them.


Heather M. Gardner's love of books began on the hand-woven rugs of her small town library where her mother worked. There she had a never-ending supply of stories to read at her fingertips. As a teen, her favorite genres to curl up with were romance and mysteries. When she started to create her own stories, they were the perfect fit.

Heather resides in New York with her best friend who is also her husband, plus her talented and handsome son. She is currently owned by four stray cats. Heather's a full-time mom, works part-time from home, a chocolate enthusiast, coffee junkie, cat addict, book hoarder and fluent in sarcasm.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Twitter: @hmgardner

Goodreads: HMGardner 

Facebook: HeatherWritesRomance Bottom of Form

Next we have C. Lee McKenzie's new book, The Great Time Lock Disaster.


There's nothing’s more dangerous than a wizard-in-training. And Pete Riley, has just proven it. He's worked a bad time spell--a very bad time spell.

No YouTube, no smoothies, no Manga. Not ever again. Not unless Pete figures out how to reverse his spell and free Weasel and him from Victorian England. 

He has until the next full moon. Only a few days.

Tick. Tock.

Here’s how the story starts, and it only gets worse.

One minute the clock was tick-tocking
on the mantel and the next it was a
smoldering mess.

“No,”��Harriet shouted. Then she braced
one hand on her desk and covered her eyes
with the other.

Pete froze, not blinking, not breathing,
but waiting to see if Harriet would point one
of her long, bony fingers at him and turn
him into a turnip or something slimy.

To celebrate the launch of The Great Time Lock Disaster I'm giving 20 eBooks away. Hope you'll jump in to the copter and go for a ride!

Usually, C. Lee takes on modern issues that today's teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Double Negative (2014) was her third young adult novel. Researching it turned her into a literacy advocate. Her fourth YA, Sudden Secrets came out in December 2014. 

When she really want to have FUN, she writes middle grade books. Alligators Overhead and The Great Time Lock Disaster are now available.


Hope everyone has a great weekend and Valentine's Day. Do these new offerings take your fancy?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

IWSG - Time Management, and Please Help Prince

It's time for another entry for the Insecure Writers' Support Group, where writers can share their doubts and insecurities with no fear of ridicule. Go here to sign up and find other participants and please visit our excellent co-hosts for February, Gwen Gardner, Dolorah, Sarah Foster, and M. Pax.

Lately I have been reading several posts by well-loved blogger friends announcing that due to time constraints they would need to sacrifice some aspect of their writer selves - blogging, writing, Facebooking etc - even if only on a temporary basis. This is quite a saddening state of affairs, but I know what they mean. In the month of January I didn't get much "writing" writing done, in terms of putting new made up things on a page. Okay, I've done some editing and some freelance writing, but some of this is procrastinating working on the final part of my series. I need to pull my socks up and get down to it. Maybe it is stage fright of coming up with a really good finale. Anyway, my time management problem is compounded by being a little bit stuck, but that will not be the case for everyone.

I think what to bear in mind is that if you're going to sacrifice anything, it shouldn't be writing. That's kind of the bare bones of what we do and how we define ourselves. But sacrifice marketing? We all know that even the most sublime stories need a bit of a push if they are not to languish, forgotten. We would probably be better off writing solely for ourselves if we didn't support our own work.

So the answer is to keep up both of these pursuits, but how can this be done? A lot of marketing can be labour intensive, like scheduling and writing posts for a blog tour, and you might need to take a week off writing your WIP to focus on that. But that's okay, if you're doing things like character posts and interviews it's still creative writing, and you will probably end up learning even more about your characters. And it's well worth making posts unique and engaging because a handful of buy links repeated time and again is a turn-off.

Other marketing pursuits can be done in odd moments, such as sending your book off to a reviewer, or setting up a giveaway on Goodreads. Something I haven't done yet, but which sounds worthwhile, is dropping in on forums and other venues that focus on your genre. It was Christine Rains who pointed out to me the importance of reaching out to your intended audience.

Something which tends to divide opinion is Facebook. I haven't set up an author page on there, but as there tend to be shorter posts it might be more time efficient than a blog. After reading this excellent post from Chrys Fey, I'm now giving it much more consideration than I did before.

Do you have any time management tips?

On another note, I'd like to ask for some help for a special little pup if you can manage it. This guy was
adopted from Spain, from the same rescue as our dog Tobi, but the family who adopted him have found themselves faced with an exorbitant medical bill through no fault of their own. Please follow the link below to my wife's Crowdfunder page, and if you can spare anything to help Prince it would be hugely appreciated.

Please Help Pay Prince's Fees

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

WOVEN Release Day!

Today, I'm helping to "thread" the word for a book by two very talented authors, that's been a long time coming. It's had a few ups and downs on its road to publication, but I think it'll be worth the wait! Ladies and gentlemen, I present "Woven" by David Powers King and Michael Jensen.

WOVEN by Michael Jensen and David Powers King, published by Scholastic

Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.

Available now wherever books are sold


About the Authors:

Michael Jensen is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s prestigious music, dance, and theater program. Michael taught voice at BYU before establishing his own vocal instruction studio. In addition to being an imaginative storyteller, Michael is an accomplished composer and vocalist. He lives in Salt Lake City with his husband and their four dogs.

Photo credit: Michael Schoenfeld


David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to become a writer. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He now lives in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Photo credit: Katie Pyne Rasmussen


Praise for Woven:
"It’s not often that you read a fantasy that feels as epic and original as Woven by King and Jensen. Clever, well-paced, and full of intrigue, it’s a superb read. Highly recommended."
— James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner
"WOVEN reads like a lost classic that was somehow just rediscovered. It has the feel of a comfortable, familiar blanket that's somehow been newly-made of the brightest, most original material possible, and it is pure pleasure to read."
 James A. Owen, author & illustrator of Here, There Be Dragons
"The worldbuilding is dynamic, original and intriguing … and the characters, appealing. A sure bet for high-fantasy fans." — Kirkus Reviews
"This brisk adventure from first-time authors Jensen and King is a charming quest tale in classic fantasy tradition." — Publisher’s Weekly

Rafflecopper Giveaway Link (One of 5 copies of Woven – signed by both authors):

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Lessons from Journalism and the Joy of Non-Fiction

This post is, I guess, an extension of the previous goals I posted for this year. 2015 for me is about going back to the grass roots of why I enjoy writing, and that means all kinds of writing. I like writing non-fiction. In fact, the first thing I did when taking tentative steps towards a writing career was press releases for my sixth form college at 16. While taking a year out globetrotting I kept a travelogue of all the places I'd been. And then I enrolled for a qualification in journalism in Glasgow, and was lucky enough to get a reporter's position at my local paper.

I miss it. I miss the buzz of uncovering facts, doing interviews and getting a great quote. I think I've been so obsessed with developing my fiction writing that I forgot the pleasure that can be gained from a well-honed article. Furthermore, there are lessons to be learned from journalism that we can apply to our fiction. What's interesting about the story? Who are the main players, what troubles have they seen and what are their triumphs? In journalism you have to find the most important thread and put that front and centre.

So this year I'm going to devote more effort to my freelance writing career by pitching some article ideas to paying markets on topics I enjoy writing about. I know a bit about being a step-parent, raising a disabled child and coping with the loss of a child. Plus, all the ephemera that swirls about my head to do with music, movies and historical figures has to be useful for something.

I also need to get over the idea I'm not good enough. I'm qualified, people have said I'm alright, I need to start having more faith in myself if I'm going to get anywhere.

I'm also going to restart the goal to write and submit one short story a month. I spaced on it in January as I was just getting back into the swing of things after the holiday, but I'm definitely going to refocus on this in February.

Do you enjoy non-fiction? I know we all do it via blogging, but do you enjoy reading it or writing in-depth articles? Do you think fiction and non-fiction have lessons to teach each other?

Wednesday, 7 January 2015


It's the first Insecure Writers' Support Group meeting of 2015! The group was set up to share writerly woes and offer support and encouragement to others. I hope all members have an enjoyable and productive year.

EDIT: I forgot today was the day for introductions, so I'm adding this in here before I get to my insecurity!

I'm Nick, a former print journalist now mining the realms of fiction with a little freelance writing and editing on the side. I also do a paper round seven days a week, so I guess you could say that's also in the field of written media! Over the course of various experiments, I have discovered my passion lies in the speculative side of fiction, taking in science fiction, dystopian, and I hope to add a little fantasy to that list one day. My favourite author of all time is Terry Pratchett, although it would be impossible to pick a favourite book of his. I've included a little of my publication plans underneath this intro.

I'm married, with two stepdaughters and one daughter. As many of you know, my stepson Andrew passed away in November 2013. Andrew was a wee fighter all his life, and he's now my guardian angel and inspiration. We've got three dogs - Pippa, Rudi and Tobi, and we'll be adding little Charlie to the pack in February.

I find it hard to pick a favourite movie, but my favourite TV show is Red Dwarf, especially the "shrinking boxer shorts" scene. I'm sure this is available on YouTube if you want to know what I'm talking about!

You can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Now onto the "insecurity" portion of today's post...

I guess my insecurity this month is the prospect of publication. I posted on Monday about my goals for the year, including publication of my collection in May and my trilogy starting in 2016.

But how do you know when things are right? These days it seems the ebook market in particular is saturated, more and more books are being released every day, and it's getting harder and harder to stand out. The best promotion, I hear, is to have many books available, but I worry that rushing will sacrifice quality. It takes me a very long time to do anything.

I guess the answer is to be even more focused on task. Reduce non-essential elements of life and make every editing or writing stint count for something. Try not to worry about outside pressures such as promotion - although that's hard. And know when to let go - even though it's not perfection, get as close as you can.

What are your experiences of publication? How do you deal with the stress of deadlines, be they self-imposed or from a publisher? How do you know when a book is ready?

Be sure to visit some of the other fine IWSG bloggers here.

Monday, 5 January 2015

2014 Roundup and 2015 Goals

Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a stress-free festive season, and you're suitably rested and getting stuck into a productive 2015.

2014 got off to a slow start. We had just lost Andrew the previous November and I was drifting aimlessly, not sure what to do with myself. I did write one short story to try to make sense of the situation, but it was the A-Z Challenge and reconnecting with some of you wonderful writers that made me realise doing what I love was the only thing that would get me through. Nothing is certain, so I redoubled my commitment to give my writing career everything I've got. I made a start on Part 2 of my YA dystopian fantasy, writing 38,024 words from May to August. I also made a submission to Write Club. However, I then seemed to hit another slump with the story, although I was honoured to contribute to some excellent anthologies during this time. When NaNoWriMo rolled around, it was a great opportunity to power through the story without listening to the inner editor too much, and I'm pleased to say I accomplished this, finishing Part 2 and writing the majority of a prequel novella which I had the idea for during November. I only wrote about 2000 words in December, but it was enough to finish my novella, so from going from not even knowing if I would do any more writing I eventually drafted two books and wrote over 90,000 words. I hope to do much better this year.

So, to those goals. I aim to write Part 3 of my trilogy and get all three plus the novella edited and polished for release starting in 2016. Maybe this will come sooner, but for now I'm giving myself plenty of time to get everything right. In the meantime I have another project I'm very excited about - a novella I wrote a couple of years ago, tentatively titled "A Change of Mind", which I intend to publish in May, together with some previously published stories. My novella is a speculative science fiction piece, quite dark in tone, and the other stories have a similar feel so I think they'll go quite well together. Looking forward to sharing more details on this once they're firmed up!

Other goals - read and review more fellow bloggers' books. I read some excellent ones in 2014, but I've been quite remiss on reviewing them. I need to address that!

Spend more quality time with the kids.

What are your goals for 2015?

I'll be back on Wednesday for this year's first installment of the IWSG. Got your copy of the IWSG book yet? I've been loving soaking up all the great nuggets of wisdom and inspiration!