Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Sale now on!

Got any friends or family birthdays coming up?
Looking for an Easter Gift?
Know anyone with a Kindle?

To celebrate the new season, THE EVIL BENEATH is 99p ($1.48) in the Kindle Spring sale.

With over 60 *Five star* reviews in UK and US, it usually sells for £1.99 ($2.96)  but it’s on offer for 99p for a limited period only.
So why not grab it? Click for UK here      US here

 Went to Number One in 'Serial 'Killers' in UK Kindle Chart

Two Psychological Thriller Gems - Reviews

Both my selected reads lately have involved the sea. I didn't realise this was a theme until I put this post together! I must have a sub-conscious hankering...

The Long Fall - Julia Crouch
My rating: 4 of 5
Greece, 1980 - Emma takes part in a shattering, violent event. An event to which she is anything but an innocent bystander. She is only eighteen, but this marks her fall from innocence.It will haunt her for the rest of her life.
London, now - Kate has the perfect existence: a glossy image, a glamorous home, a perfect family.
But there are cracks. All is not what it seems. And now the two worlds are about to collide. Somebody's out for revenge. Someone who has been waiting thirty years...

I really enjoyed this book and yes, you do need to suspend belief quite a bit, especially towards the end, but the long section where Emma's diary outlines her travels in Greece is truly atmospheric and mesmerizing. I wanted this to go on and on. I did InterRail myself at 18, so there were a lot of nostalgic reminders. Shame we had to come back to London for the grown up Emma, but then there was a whole convoluted plot to get through after that! Suspension of belief aside, I did find this gripping. I had some ideas about 'how it was done', but there was always a twists and then another twist after that. So many, in fact, that I did end up a bit dizzy! Will certainly read more, though.

A Single Breath - Lucy Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5

When Eva’s husband Jackson tragically drowns, she longs to meet his estranged family. The journey takes her to Jackson’s brother’s doorstep on a remote Tasmanian island. As strange details about her husband’s past begin to emerge, memories of the man she married start slipping through her fingers like sand, as everything she ever knew and loved about him is thrown into question. Now she’s no longer sure whether it was Jackson she fell in love with – or someone else entirely…
The truth is, it was all a lie . . .

A deliciously transporting and atmospheric book. Eva arrives on the shoreline as her husband, Jackson, is being swept away into the sea. Shattered by his loss and hungry for more details about his upbringing and those who loved him, she travels to Tasmania. Eva meets Jackson's brother and little by little, her picture of who she thought Jackson was and others' recollections of him, collide. The lies she's been told begin to unravel her entire marriage - except who is lying? And why?

There's a deep mystery running through this book, but also a turbulent love story. The twists and turns keep the story alive within the context of pure escapism. I was swept away myself, by the delicate, beautiful language and imagery of the remote islands and in particular, the descriptions of the sea. Freediving, the underwater world, the beach at night, first thing in the morning - it was all so perfectly described. A superb and gripping read.

STOP PRESS: The Evil Beneath is in the Kindle sale right now at only 99p ($1.48) 
Grab it while you can. UK: Click here US: Click here

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE SHARE it. Thank you! 

AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

SIGN UP HERE for AJ's Newsletter with Competitions and Giveaways in 2015! Plus up- to-the-minute info on her new novels, sneak peeks and exclusive insider content.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Book of You - How Good is it?

I rarely give one book a whole blog slot - but this one deserves it! The author kindly got in touch with me to say: 'Your review blew me away ' which is lovely...

The Book of You - Claire Kendal
My rating: 5 of 5

A terrifying psychological thriller about obsession and power, perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep.

Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there.

Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand.

Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined.

I was reluctant to read this book. I knew it would zoom in with fierce intensity on one issue – stalking – and I wasn’t sure if I was up to handling a bout of unremitting, feverish misery!

Having said that it was an amazing read. It was like reading someone’s private diary over their shoulder or eavesdropping on the victim yourself! An ironic parallel with what Rafe is doing in the story, so we, the reader are voyeurs to Clarissa’s every move. The style is extremely immediate and unfolds in real time with flashbacks. The narrative is clever; present tense, second-person for the diary and past tense, third person for the court/outside life scenes, so it doesn't become too wearing for the reader. There are some unusual, unique turns of phrase - a little clunky, even unsophisticated in parts, but always heartfelt and frequently poignant.

Surely, it’s a book every woman (and man, come to think of it) should read. It brings out the salient point about how hard it is to know what is ‘acceptable’ in relationships. Clarissa has lived a sheltered upbringing, she doesn’t grasp the full implications of the one-night stand she had with Rafe – although perhaps a woman who was more streetwise would have done. The book also demonstrates the blurred line between complicity and victimhood. It’s a disturbing and violent book (Claire said she took out the violent parts, but it didn’t feel right or honest without them).

The title is clever too – The Book of You - it screams that this could so easily happen to any of us! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

SIGN UP HERE for AJ's Newsletter with Competitions and Giveaways in 2015! Plus up- to-the-minute info on her new novels, sneak peeks and exclusive insider content.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Ideas happen ‘outside’ – it’s scientifically proven

Anyone following my blog knows I’m at the ‘ideas’ stage of my next novel. While I was rummaging around in a blog by Nicola Morgan (very interesting – do take a look), I came across something rather startling about the whole concept of ‘going for a walk and the ideas will come.’ Did you know there was scientific/physiological proof it actually works?

More about that in a moment. Some context first.

Our cat, Tigsey, catching some Spring sunshine
It’s that time of year when I’m itching to get in the garden to help it along. I love cutting back and tidying, so that you can see each individual plant and nothings starts to run amok or take over. Last week was the back-breaking ‘mulch’ – gouging compost out of the green plastic tub and scattering it around the stems of all the shrubs, over fertiliser. It’s probably the hardest job of the year – but it’s done! I’m still waiting for the weather to be warm enough to properly loiter outside (one morning I managed a brisk coffee on the patio), but I’m waiting for the chance to read and work outside - it becomes another working space with a higher ceiling…

Our cottage garden when it's in full bloom...
 Which is just what I want to tell you about…

Research in Minnesota in 2007 showed that people in a room with a higher ceiling (by only two feet) came up with more abstract and uninhibited answers to questions than those in a room with a lower ceiling. Those with the lower ceiling focused better on detail. ‘This and other work suggests that higher ceilings help people think more freely and make abstract connections,’ says Nicola Morgan, ‘just what a writer needs.’

You can’t get a much higher ceiling than the sky and that’s why for a lot of creative people (or anyone with a problem to mull over), going outside for a stroll without trying to think about anything, is a key part of their process. It’s not ‘a break’ – it’s another way of working. There’s even a name for the human tendency to respond well to natural scenery: biophilia.

So, now the weather is getting better, here’s your chance to stop crowding over the details and let your mind go free. Go on – get out!

(Thanks to Nicola for the source of this information)
If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE SHARE it. Thank you! 

AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.

Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

SIGN UP HERE for AJ's Newsletter with Competitions and Giveaways in 2015! Plus up- to-the-minute info on her new novels, sneak peeks and exclusive insider content.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Revisions - What are they, exactly?

Every writer I know talks about Revisions. After submitting a book to an agent or publisher (and after a nail-biting wait (Do they LIKE it?)), the response comes back in an email report outlining suggestions about how the book could be improved. This involves tightening up certain areas, managing issues better and cutting others out altogether. Some authors call them ‘editorial notes’, ‘comments’ or ‘feedback’ - they are also known as ‘structural edits’ and are usually both extremely helpful and daunting.
Tracking every point in editorial feedback
Some of the comments are easy to address (none of the comments here are from my current agent, by the way!):

     ‘I don’t think we need the character who fixes the roof’, for example.

Others are more nebulous and all-embracing, such as:

     ‘The plots twists and revelations need to be sharpened up - too many moments are given away cheaply or are buried in the midst of a chapter…’ or

     ‘The character, Derek, gives away too much information about the mechanics of the plot…
Ouch! That perfectly structured novel has to be taken apart and put back together again. But it’s all going to be worth it - the changes are pretty much guaranteed to make it a better book. 

As well as feedback that begins ‘We really think it needs…’ the comments will often include ‘preferences’ or questions – such as, ‘Do we need Lisa’s father to be suffering from motor neuron disease – does it make it too gloomy?’ Or ‘Does Annette’s baby have to die at the beginning?’ These are the issues I may occasionally choose not to change, but only if there's a good reason. It might be because by altering an issue it would cause a premise of the book to falter or it could remove a key motive from a certain character.

In a tightly constructed book – if you change or cut one thing, it affects everything else. All the components are delicately balanced in a chain. For the bigger adjustments – at first it can feel like the book is falling apart. The chapters change, the continuity is messed up (Paul now dies before the bridge collapses, not afterwards). Most importantly, the Timeline is messed up. When you bring action forward or delay events, what once ‘happened yesterday’ (Tuesday) now becomes Monday, and this then changes future references to time. Throwaway phrases like ‘two days ago’, ‘missing for three days’ are now out of sync, so each and every one needs to be tracked down and changed. I find this stage of altering and then reconstructing like a complex mathematical puzzle – a Rubic’s cube (and I was never very good at either!)

Changes to the basic chapter structure
During the planning and writing stage, I will have kept a record of each scene – where it is, which day of the week and also which part of the day it is. Most writers check sunrise and sunsets too, to make sure it really would be ‘getting dark’ at 9pm in October in Cairo, for example. But when things are moved and changed, I usually have to go through the whole book again, rechecking scene by scene. If I cut a scene, for example, this brings forward action that originally happened in the evening, say. Now Lucy would be opening the curtains (it’s morning), not closing them.

When all the structural changes are made, I also go through the manuscript checking that all the chapters are in the right order and I don’t end up with two chapter 24s! Alterations can sometimes add or cut a great deal to one chapter without my realising, so then I check the length of the chapters – I don’t want 'Chapter 7' to end up being six pages and 'Chapter 8' being twenty-seven. Then I check to see if any end of scenes now fall at a page break – adding  * in the centre to indicate this.

Then I go through to make sure nothing has jumped around (when using ‘track changes’ on Word, sometimes there are big blank chunks or page-breaks have got lost). I add a fresh word count and then, after another read through to check the flow hasn’t been interrupted, it’s ready to go back. At this stage, I usually feel uplifted - the book works better - no question about it!

Let's bear in mind one thing - this is only Round One (take a big breath) – before long, it will come back with more changes, hopefully these will be less complex, such as ‘I think we need a bit more background for Doris’, ‘It could do with more sense of atmosphere to convey the heat, dust, air conditioning’ or ‘The ending now feels rushed – it needs more space so the reveals are not backed up so much.

Roll on Round two…
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AJ Waines is the #1 Bestselling Author of Psychological Thrillers:  Girl on a Train

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