Following the success of last year’s event, join us again for the launch of the festival bookshop here at the Almonry. Meet and hear extracts read by our bookshop authors and buy a copy of your favourites. Books will be on sale at the Almonry until 15th July. Free evening event.
‘NO WAY OUT’
The latest Birmingham cop DCI Matt Proctor crime thriller out soon. Hear Tom Bryson read from his new, fast-paced novel – the third in the Matt Proctor series.
“Trapped in their own minds they must follow cult leader Gabriel Omoto – but to where and what? What “evil things” terrify young cult member Adele so much she won’t dare speak of them?
Cop Matt Proctor also has problems in his mind – he needs to get out of a rut and take on a big new challenge. Is he up to it? Or is the price too high?
Then there’s his spirited daughter Sarah to contend with – a young woman with a mind of her own, maybe too much a “chip off the old block”.
A fast-paced crime thriller with many twists and turns and a gripping climax.
The third novel in the DCI Matt Proctor series works as a stand-alone crime thriller.
I came across an excellent post by writer Barbara Rogan (barbara rogan.com) on the topic of ‘outliner’ or ‘pantser’ (meaning ‘seat of the pants’ or ‘organic’ writer). That prompted me to comment as below. It’s a fascinating discussion and I’d welcome any views other writers may have – what’s your approach and for readers can you tell if the author is an ‘outliner’ or a ‘pantser’ from the writing?
I write outlines for my crime/mystery/thriller novels for all the reasons Barbara states in her blog post. I find it more efficient and avoids going down cul-de-dacs. I start with:
1. A nugget of an idea, (max. 50 words)
2. Expand that to a one or two page summary of the novel
3. Then write short – a line or two – scene summaries.
As I write each scene I use a standard checklist – from whose viewpoint, purpose of scene, what happens, setting, conflicts, outcomes, hook. All short one-liners.
For some writers, I acknowledge this approach might seem mechanistic – but do you know, it works for me and I do find the story will shift and change as I write, especially in the rewriting after the first draft (this is when I juggle scenes, delete or add new scenes, characters and group them into chapters).
As I have my scene summaries written, I always have a starting point, a trigger to write each day – no blank pages!
A final tip – I view and write in ‘outline view’ with the Word ‘document map’ feature turned on (you need to check or tick the box). Type your brief scene heading in level 1, the scene in body text. Hey presto, on the left of your screen are listed your scene headings only, on the right the full scene you are working on. Both detail and overview in front of you on a single screen. Great tool!
In a future post I plan to elaborate on this approach using examples from my latest DCI Matt Proctor crime novel due out soon – and show my method of developing and keeping track of my characters.
Several writing friends have asked me for advice on self-publishing. As the author/publisher of three books now available from amazon and Lulu.com, I’ve written a concise ‘steps’ article that I hope will help other writers.
Please comment and add your own experiences, tips, views – we can all learn from each other.
Most important. Your book is how readers will judge you as a writer. What those readers think and say to others about your book will determine who will want to read your next book! Don’t short change or disappoint them. Give them the greatest story you can. Engage, entertain, provoke, stimulate; don’t get sloppy, never, never bore.
2. REWRITE, REWRITE, EDIT, EDIT
Good writing is rewriting. By all means get your first draft written quickly, let your creative juices flow. However, once the first draft is finished, the hard work begins. There’s plenty of advice out there on writing. Use it. Take a writing course, read the ‘how to’ books, join a writing group, learn from feedback and exploit the internet.
Editing is essential. Yes, you can self-edit; the probability is you’ll regret that decision. Ideally find someone who knows what they’re doing, with editing skills or experience. A professional is best but you may have writer friends or readers with a keen eye and strong critical faculties. Ask for their help. Be open-minded to suggestions and comments. But remember, this is your book and it’s your choice about what to accept, what to reject. Don’t get precious – some of your little darlings (words, phrases, and passages) must be cut or changed. As you edit, as you listen to the editing advice you receive, remember this is where reading with a critical, challenging mindset is essential – the creative phase was the first draft and rewrites. Editing means the inner – and outer – critic getting to work.
3. TAKE THE LEARNING CURVE – BUILD YOUR OWN WEBSITE
Having your own website and blog is a must. This is your platform to build a readership, to get the word out about your books. I really can’t emphasise how important this is. Don’t be put off by believing developing a website is too technical, even ‘nerdy’. It isn’t necessary to have a degree in computing science to build your own website. Ask around, check with others who’ve done it; people are generous with advice. If really desperate go find an eleven year old!
Here are some resources you can check out – creating your personal website needn’t cost you money – WordPress, Blogger, gbbo (Getting British Business Online).
4. GO TO THESE WEBSITES – AMAZON, SMASHWORDS, KOBO, LULU, ETC. – LEARN ABOUT THEM
You can publish your book as a print book or an e-book. I do both. It’s true that e-books are growing exponentially, but print is what many readers prefer – there will continue to be a market for both.
Self publishing print books uses POD (Print On Demand). This means that instead of having printed a garage full of unsold books, you order the quantity you believe will sell in the first place. Sure, this might mean foregoing bulk discounts but I think it’s the best approach. Oh, and do get a proof copy and check it thoroughly before pressing the publish button! I use Amazon’s createspace and Lulu.com for generating print books. Others include Smashwords, Lightning Source. Go online and check them out. The process is set out in step by step instructions. Avoid any outfit that wants money up front from you – you should only pay per unit for the books you want printed. Take control, choose your cover, quantity, set your price and profit.
With e-books you first save your manuscript as a Word document. To make that suitable for e-publishing there is mainly a choice between converting Word to Mobi or e-Pub formats.
Mobi is the Amazon Kindle e-reader format. The process to make the conversion from Word is explained as you go through the steps. I find getting the page set-up right and using Word correctly – i.e. no shortcuts – means the converter uploads your Word document in Mobi for reading on the Kindle e-reader.
For other e-readers such as Kobo, NOOK, iPad, smartphones, the Word document needs to be converted to e-Pub format. There are free software downloads available that do this conversion, e.g. Calibre. Why pay someone to do the conversion?
Apps (applications!) are now available that allow e-books in one format to be read on other e-readers. As writers and readers, life would be simpler if there was one standard but the ‘Big Beasts’ are fighting it out. Remember video – VHS vs. Betamax?
5. MAKE MISTAKES – KEEP LEARNING – GET IT RIGHT
You will make mistakes, believe me! One tip I’ll suggest is to start not with a full-length book but say a chapter. Work all the way through the steps and then check what the finished product looks like. If you’re happy DON’T PUBLISH but delete and start again this time with the complete book. There is a preview tool that enables you to see what the book will look like before publication.
6. NOW PUBLISH – E-BOOK, PRINT BOOK, EVERYWHERE
I suggest publishing in e-book format first. It’s easier to rectify mistakes and keep uploading a revised Word document until you’re satisfied.
Next publish your print book. That way you don’t end up with a box of print books laden with errors that are unsaleable. And will do your reputation serious damage if sold!
7. HAVE A MARKETING STRATEGY
Think of the ‘selling’ acronym AIDA –Attention (Get), Interest (Rouse), Desire (Create), Action (Call to). Offering something that helps other writers, readers is a good starting point leading to the Call to Action (buy the book) rather than screaming at the outset, ‘Buy my Book!’ Give advice, tips, freebies.
Be visible – meet with other writers, readers, give talks to libraries, organizations, societies, write blogs, guest blog, distribute flyers, use audio/video media, be active on social media – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Send out press releases, press packs including biography, target newspapers/mags with relevant copy for their readership. See if your local bookstores/other retail outlets will stock your book (try the big chain stores – they may respond to ‘local writer’ angle).
Say thanks, be helpful, build relationships, build readership.
8. FINALLY WRITE THE BEST BOOK YOU CAN – AGAIN
Birmingham crime cop novel
Tom Bryson’s crime thriller
‘TOO SMART TO DIE’
‘THIS COP HAS ‘LEGS’…ONE TO WATCH OUT FOR’
DCI Matt Proctor, investigating a gruesome murder in Birmingham city centre, is charged with drug dealing corruption. He fights to clear his name while hunting down a cyberworld cult that brings killing from computer gaming to the streets and who target Proctor and his family as their next victims. Proctor also has relationship issues with police colleague Inspector Azzra Mukherjee…
Review…by established Crime Writer NICK OLDHAM (author of the Detective Henry Christie novels):
‘Welcome to the world of DCI Matt Proctor in Tom Bryson’s first crime thriller novel, TOO SMART TO DIE. Proctor has to deal not only with murder, but also police corruption. He stumbles upon a deadly cyberworld cult that threatens him and his family. Set in the real world – a superbly described West Midlands, Birmingham and the Black Country – Bryson has created a flawed and very real character in Matt Proctor. A great debut from Bryson, who is one to watch out for as is, I hope, Matt Proctor, a character who has the legs to front a whole series.’ (See more reviews on Amazon)
‘Ex-bomb disposal expert Greg Stevens (now business exec) is blackmailed back to action to fight powerful Mafioso oligarch Bogdan Katchenko – and corrupt politicians and EU officials – to stop 9/11 PLUS terrorist attack. And rediscover love.’
‘THE ZEPPELIN OF KINVER EDGE’
A photo illustrated adventure short story based on the WWI airship bombings in the West Midlands. Read this book – you’ll never see Kinver Edge in the same light again!
DCI MATT PROCTOR SEQUEL
‘IN IT FOR THE MONEY’
‘DEADLY TOPICAL…’ Nearing completion is a sequel to ‘TOO SMART TO DIE’ – again featuring Birmingham cop Matt Proctor – whose murder investigations take him into the deadly world of sport’s spot-fixing gambling syndicates.
ALL BOOKS AVAILABLE AS E-BOOK OR PRINT FROM AMAZON.CO.UK/LULU.COM
I attended an excellent crime novel writing event at the Portsmouth Festival (end Nov). Pauline Rowson gave a first class presentation on her approach to writing her detective Inspector Andy Horton novels. She sets her stories in the south coast of England – Portsmouth/Solent/Isle of Wight locations – that she knows intimately and the sense of place shines through as her detective protagonist pursues villains and solves crimes across real locations.
I like this idea of using settings that are well known to the writer and will strike chords with readers who are also familiar with the locations. Even if they don’t personally know the area, the detailed ‘feel’ of the writer for the places will bring them to life in a vivid manner.
In my own novel TOO SMART TO DIE, DCI Matt Proctor operates in Birmingham and the Black Country and I’ve been most encouraged by the feedback I’ve had from readers who say ‘I’ve been there, walked that street, know well the building where the murder happened’. This kind of connection holds a great appeal to regional readers (90% of the UK populations live outside the Met area!) and can imbue a story with a special feeling for them. (Crime writers like Nick Oldham and Ian Rankin, for example bring us graphic pictures of Lancashire and Edinburgh respectively.) However – the characters, the storytelling, pace and plot must be the primary concerns of the writer; the setting should be shown in snatches, be relevant and integrated and always carry the story forward, help drive the action.
Just did a talk session this evening with a library reading group. Fascinating. 80% women, 20% men there. I talked about e-books and print books and the majority still want print. One said, ‘Told my husband, do not buy me a kindle e-reader for Christmas’. Now then I wonder – with the launch of the Kindle Fire – Apple Ipad under fire? (Ouch) and a basic kindle reader selling for $79 – less than £50 – will things change? They bought TOO SMART TO DIE in print format so….