Thursday, 29 June 2017

Which part of the Writing Process is the best?

Someone asked me recently which part of the writing process I liked best. I answered without hesitation: ‘The bit I’m doing at that point in time.'

It's a great feeling to have - that each stage feels like the best bit - then I realised that it’s the transition between one aspect of the book production to another that is often tricky. Let me explain why.

Getting a book published (in one paragraph)
As a hybrid author, published both independently and traditionally, I’m involved with a wide range of stages in the process. In the UK, I produce my own books from start to finish, project managing the entire process from initial ideas to writing the novel, formatting for ebook and paperback, getting the cover designed, managing the editing and proofreading, then all the publicity and marketing that needs to get the show on the road. The latter is time consuming, but essential for authors these days to get their books noticed: blog tours, interviews, guest posts, promotional photos etc.
From this...
...to this
Today, I have my marketing and publicity hat on. With a book due to be announced in two weeks time, I’m at a hectic admin stage, which will also involve activating that magical 'pre-order' button on Amazon.

Click here for Lost in the Lake (or join my Newsletter for updates!)
Swapping from one stage to another
In two days’ time, I'll need to get back to editing, as my proofreader is due with a round of errors to correct (final ones I hope). In the meantime, I’m returning to my work in progress, a standalone psych thriller. It's been untouched since I left it a couple of months ago at 40,000 words (about half way through a first draft) to prepare Lost in the Lake for publication. This is where it gets tricky, because going back to it is hard; I’d largely forgotten what it was about! The plot felt sketchy and I was basically lost! I printed out the manuscript, so I could read it away from the PC and step back into the story again, because I couldn’t even remember some of the characters. Luckily, I'd made a list of plot-points to keep track of the direction I was heading in - but even so, there was no way I could resume writing the novel straight away - I had to get to know everyone in it again!

Back to Writing again
A strange thing has happened since I’ve engaged my brain with the creative part of the process again (although actually, all of the book process is creative in some way). My mind has clicked into the world of my characters and I’m finding ideas popping up all over the place. I have notebooks in almost every room in the house and in the last few weeks they’ve laid dormant. Now, all of a sudden, I'm reaching for them in order to collect little snippets: details on the setting, aspects of  key characters' personalities, how they move, talk, their motivations. It’s as though a searchlight has come on inside my head as I dig deeper into the story. In fact, I woke this morning before 6.30am with a pile of questions: Why did X do what she did at the age of 15? Why did P fall in love with T in the first place? I also realise I need a 'family tree' to gain more context about the characters' backgrounds and also some specific ‘family hardships’ to explain key aspects of the story.

Progress
But the story is filling out again, not only have I climbed back into the novel, but things there are stirring. The plot is on the move again and once I’ve reached the point in the manuscript where everything came to a halt, I’ll be bursting to find out what happens next (and to write it down!)

I’ll have to break away, of course, during the next few weeks to get Lost in the Lake out into the world, but I now have a new ‘home’ place to come back to every day. All I can say is the life of an author is never boring.

Lost in the Lake:  
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AJ Waines is an International Bestselling Author of Psychological Thrillers 


  •  Over 400,000 books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  a Number One Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017
Find AJ Waines at: 
Blog *  Website  *  Twitter  * Facebook  *  Pinterest  * Goodreads  * Google+  

Join AJ Waines' Newsletter HERE or below:


Monday, 12 June 2017

Book Review: The Second Sister - Claire Kendal

The Second SisterThe Second Sister by Claire Kendal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Claire Kendal’s first book, The Book of You, was a top read for me a couple of years ago, so I was very excited to read the author’s next novel, The Second Sister.

The story involves Ella, whose sister, Miranda, went missing ten years previously. Miranda’s son Luke is ten years old now and asking difficult questions. Ella is also 30, the age her sister was when she mysteriously disappeared, bringing up all kinds of new emotions, fears and her own unanswered questions. As Ella digs deeper, fresh information arises through renewed press interest and a new suspect is in the frame, a sadistic killer, Thorne. Ella, however, can’t bring herself to believe he’s involved, as this would mean her sister is dead. Until now, there has always been the thread of hope that she is still out there, somewhere.

The immediacy of the narrative swept me up straight away, partly through the use of second-person narrative – this time, the author employed a nice twist in using it to refer to someone dear, the lost beloved sister, rather than the antagonist, as in the first novel. From the opening pages there was a gentle, delicate and fragile quality to Kendal’s narration that made me want to turn the pages ‘oh so tenderly.’ The writing seemed to capture the details ‘behind and between’ the aspects we normally notice about people – so sensitive and satisfying, as a result.

The revered older sister, Miranda, is ever-present in the pages, as Ella 'hears' the internalised memories of her short punchy comments, as if she’s standing right beside her. There are also clever single line flashbacks to help the reader gain context and see how things stood in the past. I particularly admired the artful blend of literary fiction (which led me to savour the writing) and psychological thriller (which compelled me to turn the pages!). The author manages to find the tipping point between the two, perfectly!

As the story progresses, there is a steady unfolding of clues and details which lead Ella onwards in her quest for the truth. She has to confront certain key figures and puts herself at risk to dig deeper. The outcome is shattering and the harrowing scenes towards the end took my breath away. So much is good about this book – and just like The Book of You, it will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

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AJ Waines is an International Bestselling Author of Psychological Thrillers 


  •  Over 400,000 books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  a Number One Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017
Find AJ Waines at: 
Blog *  Website  *  Twitter  * Facebook  *  Pinterest  * Goodreads  * Google+  

Join AJ Waines' Newsletter HERE or below: