Thursday, 30 June 2011

Tuesday's Child - A Review

Tell Me a Story - A Book Review

Tuesday's ChildTuesday's Child by Louise Bagshawe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tuesday's Child is a story about a tomboyish girl who doesn't realise she is in love with her best friend and flatmate - until he becomes engaged and she has to leave the flat.

Tuesday’s Child is written with a sort of Bridget Jones, style of prose. This is quite different to the style of some of her other books - such as Career Girl. No matter what style of writing, her books are always impertinent, sexy and fun. However, this is perhaps not her best book. Tuesday's Child is a happy book, fun to read, but unfortunately rather predictable.

On the plus side, the character of Lucy is well drawn, and it is certainly a good beach-read. I recommend Bagshawe to readers who want the feel-good factor.

View all my reviews

Monday, 27 June 2011

Essential Secrets to Planning a Story

Tell Me A Story

So just what happens with a story outline, how do you use it?  A story outline is nothing miraculous, nothing to be suspicious of. A story outline is merely a scheme that helps steer your writing - a basis for your story - a route map.
  • Just like any map, a story outline makes the journey less painful. It assists in showing you where best to go, and improving the quality of the story by providing an overall understanding of its construction.
  • Underpinnings are essential to a building, and whether you like it or not, you are in the business of building - building a story. You might think you’re arty-farty, but remember, artists of all persuasions have to be craftsmen as well. Devote time and consideration to a plan and your story construction will be sound.
  • Foundations should be deep and strong before construction commences - your outline needs to be just the same.


The first thing you need do is to prepare a sequential order of events, and then plan out each chapter, allowing about half a page for each. Include the most important scenes and show how they influence your protagonists.

Preparing an order of events gives you an indication of how each character progresses due to actions they become caught up in. Characters should always develop, without character development the story won’t have moved.

Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
  • Route maps don’t need to be prepared chronologically. You can prepare a later chapter before an earlier one.
  • You won’t write yourself into a corner when you’re finally typing out that precious story – you’ll understand where the story is heading.
  • All difficulties will already have been understood and sorted before you start writing.
  • The WORST plan is better than no plan at all. You will always know where you're heading.
  • The plan isn't set in concrete. It can be changed at any time - PROVIDING a new plan is then made.
Having recognized the problems as you make your outline, you’ll be well prepared to avoid them. When you get down to it, your actual writing will be smoother, faster and far more professional. You’ll be well on your way to being an author.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Free PDF Book

Tell Me A Story  - Free PDF Book

Okay, I know I'm mad - but I'm offering 10 free PDF book versions of the romantic suspense, WITHOUT REPROACH, to anyone willing to write an unbiased, honest, Amazon review.

WITHOUT REPROACH is available at for $2.99 and for £2.13 - but a free PDF book can be yours. Just send an email to and 10 readers will picked at random from the applicants

The only requirement is that you already have an account with Amazon so that you can add a tag to the book, and leave an unbiased review. It doesn’t have to be a long rambling review, a few honest lines will be fine. If you find you like the book, an Amazon ‘like’ won’t go amiss either.

End of - Free PDF Book -

Friday, 24 June 2011

Kindle Book Gifts - Buyer Beware

Tell Me A Story

I recently gifted a book to a reviewer.

You can't expect reviewers to purchase your books if you want them to offer a critique. It's a time honoured custom that authors and publishers allocate a certain amount of books for this purpose.

Now that I have elected to forsake the traditional publishing route, I expect to do the same with my ebooks. Amazon allow you to gift Kindle books to whoever you please, so it would seem to be a reasonable way to send books to reviewers - WRONG.

If you live outside the USA, it not only costs more money if you want to read a Kindle book, it also costs more for you to gift a Kindle book to a resident who lives INSIDE the USA. My book which a USA resident can purchase for $2.99, costs $5.74 for me to send to that same USA resident.

A strange affair indeed. I understand the wireless net might incur extra costs for reading outside the USA, but why on earth should it cost more to gift a Kindle book to a USA resident, just because I reside outside the USA.

Payment is by VIsa, so the transaction costs ought to be the same - so where do the extra charges come from.

Are you listening, mister Amazon - get your house in order.


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Don't Write From Experience

Tell Me A Story

Hello AJ, can you help. I'm thinking of writing my biography. I've undergone things in my life that I'm sure others will want to read. How do I go about it?

Hi Brian, thank you for sending this question in.

Please don't think I'm being a wet-blanket, but readers probably won’t be interested.  If you aren’t already a celebrity, people mostly don't want to know. It's a sad truth. I know we are told to write what we know, but it's not always a good idea to use elements of your life in a biography. Instead, think novel.

Sometimes it can be better to use the feelings and deep emotions spawned by an occurrence, rather than the occurrence itself. So I suppose I’m advocating, ‘Don’t Write What You Know’ but, ‘Write What You Felt’.

The consequence can be a story that is rich with emotive issues, because you've already explored those emotional boundaries. 

Sometimes you can be simply too close to what has taken place if it was real life, and it can warp your writing. Instead, draw off the energy of the evocative experience, develop it, push it to a unique area and the result can be devastating! 

Be honest, unless you are a TV presenter, film-star, radio personality, or have achieved something incredible, who's going to be interested in reading about your life? Everyone has problems they overcame; we all do things with our lives. It can be a little narcissistic to think that others will find our own life interesting. 

Weave things you've undergone, into a piece of fiction, breathe life into a novel with experiences. Use already suffered emotion as a vertebral column, and who knows, you might have the next best-seller.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Review of Treachery

Tell Me A Story

Yay! I have just had my romantic suspense, TREACHERY reviewed by the best selling author, Erin Kern, on her blog.

Take a look here to see what she had to say about - TREACHERY

Thank you Erin. Much appreciated.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Route To Writing

Tell Me a Story

The Route to Writing

Let’s face it, the majority of people will never write a book. Those who aspire to do so, tend to be curious about those who’ve actually done it - such as how they managed to create an entire book.

I thought it might be fun to ask any of you out there who’ve hit the spot, to share in a small way, how you go about it.

  • How do you select what you are going to write about - where did you get the idea for your heroine’s lifestyle?
  • Why did you choose to set your latest novel where you did?
  • How you physically write - Do you write with a pen or pencil, or do you sit in front of a computer?
  • Do you outline a detailed plan, or just jump in with writing?
  • How do you know when your book is complete and ready for public consumption?
  • Do you picture film stars in your story while you write?
  • Where do you put those magic words down - in a study at home, in a corner of a bar, or while your partner watches TV.

Come on. Share your secrets with all the struggling people out there.

Crossbow - Gordon Kirkland

Tell Me A Story

Author - Gordon Kirkland

Someone is killing the residents of a small Kansas town. Although the victims appear to have been randomly chosen, the killer has, in fact, decided that they must die for transgressions he believes they have committed. Among the first to be slain is the County Sherriff, leaving two deputies to try to solve the case before the killer can achieve his ultimate goal. 

The deputies are far from seasoned police professionals. Dave Simmons, the senior of the two, is doing his best to improve by learning new police techniques. He'd like to bring geographic profiling to the department, but a serious impediment to that goal is his propensity to get lost whenever he gets behind the wheel of his police cruiser.  

Chuck Wilson the other deputy would like to be a police dog handler. Unfortunately, the County cannot afford a properly trained police dog, so he is trying to make do with Duke, his own Springer Spaniel, a dog with an intelligence quotient just slightly lower than the average head of cabbage.

Added to the mix is a missing romance author who arrived in town to interview the first murder victim just before his death, an ambitious small town newspaper reporter who gets her leads across the pillow from the junior deputy, and the grieving father of one of the victims. 

Just as it seems that the case has been solved, the deputies learn that the killer was not acting alone, and that other, seemingly upstanding citizens of the town, had set the whole process in motion. As the evidence unfolds it becomes obvious that the case is going to hit the deputies much closer to home than they could have imagined. 

“Like Fargo without the wood chipper!”
“Like taking an intensive course in plot development!”
“Filled with quirky characters and plot twists.”


Monday, 13 June 2011

Raymond Birdsell - Ratticus: A True Tale from Critter Corner

Tell Me A Story

 Author - Raymond Birdsell

The true short story of one family, one critter, and one month's worth of problems.

A comedic look at the travails of being a homeowner and dealing with the occasional uninvited houseguest.

Check out our interactive blog website where you can weigh in on the story, see actual pictures of the “critter” in question – and some of the destruction it left behind - and leave your own “Critter Gone Wild” stories.

First profits will be made payable to our local appliance dealer since our critter ATE our dishwasher. Wait until you see those pictures.

Take a look here: Ratticus 

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Bryan R. Dennis - An Epitaph for Coyote

Tell Me A Story

Author - Bryan R. Dennis
Looking for a new read this summer - try An Epitaph for Coyote

Here lies Henry Pluck -- real estate closer and frequent visitor of nursing homes, who believed his life was one slice short of the starry-striped apple pie of success. A perfectionist at work and an eater of sandwiches, he drove an import, lived alone in a box, and was virtually indistinguishable from any other salaried clerk in Vegas Baby, Nevada.

So might have read the inscription on his gravestone.

But when he encounters Rosa Santana, an unconventional and perplexing young woman from the desert, he learns what a defunct building feels like before a wrecking ball.

This is a portrait of a lonely man coming to terms with his flawed interpretation of perfection. For the world is not what Henry thinks it is, and as he’ll soon discover, neither is Rosa. This is the wild, mysterious world of 4,000 year old movies, cosmic irony, predators, and prey.  

A lonely clerk encounters a mysterious young woman from the desert who leads him on a path of self-discovery and enlightenment -

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Erica Sloane

Tell Me A Story

Even more great news. TREACHERY and an excerpt from it, have been featured on Erica Sloane's blog.

I love all this extra exposure for my books - I just hope it turns into extra sales. Please take a minute to check out the blog-post and help support these great people.

For more read: Erica Sloane

Indie Snippets

Tell Me A Story 

Great news - well great for me. I have just had WITHOUT REPROACH showcased on the book review blog, Indie Snippets.

Getting your name 'out there' is one of the biggest challenges for authors, and bloggers such as this do a stirling job, and should be applauded and supported.

Please offer your support by taking a look: 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Essence of Action, Plot, and Change

Tell Me a Story

I've been asked several times about action and plot. There seems to be some confusion regarding action. 

Janet W. was adamant that there would be NO action in her romantic novel. HER romance was going to be of the old-school, all hearts and roses. I had to disagree.

It is ESSENTIAL for every story to have action; be it romance, mystery, thriller or short story there must be action. Don't throw your arms up, action doesn't necessarily mean the 'wham, bam, thank you ma'am' type that modern blockbuster films seem to favour.

  • Action does not imply that protagonists should always be on the go.
  • Action does not mean constantly shifting the setting for your story.
  • Action emerges out of conflict between characters and/ or circumstance.
  • Action comes about through contradictory beliefs and qualities that gradually emerge and become apparent.
  • Action means an escalation of circumstances.
  • Action drives the story onward. A story is always about change; without change, there is no story.

Change, should be especially true for central characters, by the end of a story central characters should have grown in some way …. be it better or worse, they should have developed. This is action.

 So if action and change are what drive the story forward, what does the plot do?

  • Plot is the arrangement of actions.
  • Plot is the progression of fascinating happenings that cause change.
  • Plots MUST be sensible and valid. Twists of fate and acts of God are not allowed in modern writing!

Hope this clears things up a little.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Yet another Sample Sunday

Tell Me A Story- Gritty Contemporary Fiction

It's that time again, I'm afraid. It's Sample Sunday. For my regular readers, I apologize, please forgive me, but Sample Sunday is a Twitter-thing. We publish a sample of our published novels for the Twitterverse to take a peep. My sample this week is from PAST SINS - steamy, contemporary fiction.

Eduardo took hold of her arm. “Maybe I should go first?” he said prudently. “We don’t want you getting lost.”
She moved to one side to allow him to pass, but their bodies locked. She freed herself very carefully, as thoughts of sex sprang to mind. She’d have to keep a tight lid on this thing.
He said, “Actually, your instincts are good. We’d normally go that way, but we need to take a detour. We had a bad storm a few weeks ago and it caused a roof to fall. A lot of damage was done.”
She followed him without speaking until they reached the west wing of the ancient house. The door creaked as he opened it. He said, “This room desperately needs work doing on it. It’s a good example of its type, though. A secret room was added.” He waved his hand. “It was a hellish time you know, the inquisition and all that. A lot of people needed somewhere to hide.”
Jenny looked around with growing unease. She seemed to recognize this place as well. Why would she recognize it?
“The secret room will also need work.” Eduardo pushed a lump of wood to one side with his foot. “In fact, there’s a lot of renovation required all around. However, there are other people involved and I shall have to persuade them first. I’d like you to draw up plans, though. We’ll worry about the work later.”
She said, “Just think, all that violence and torture. I suppose evading the inquisitors became a way of life for most of them.”
“Or death. They used the inquisition as an excuse to settle scores – the evil bastards!”
“It must’ve been dreadful cooped up like that, praying they wouldn’t discover where you were hidden.”
“I guess for a lot of people it’s not so different now. The world’s a terrible place.”
Jenny ran her hand over the arm of a chair. Years of work had probably once buffed it to satin, but now it looked lifeless. “I can picture what it must have been like. Small tables with knobbly legs, tiny beds, perhaps a window with moth-eaten linen drapes. I’ll bet it was like living in an oversized doll’s house, loads of dust and must and heartache.”
Eduardo frowned, reached for a lever hidden on the underside of the sill, and pulled hard. There was a dull thud, a wall panel cracked open, and he indicated for her to go through. She hesitantly pushed the panel and entered the small doorway.
The room smelled. It was ridiculous, but she knew the odour. Jenny turned to look back to him but he impatiently waved her on. She crept in and the hairs of her neck stood on end. 
The room looked like a large doll’s house. In the centre was a dark oak table, legs with chases, convolutions and ridges. In the corner, a tiny bed, and at the window, threadbare linen drapes. She damn well recognized every bit. Had she dreamed it? How could you dream smells? She made her way out, stunned, suddenly afraid.
He was irate. “You know all about it don’t you, I can tell. Elvira has shown you around. Thank you for wasting my time. What did you hope to gain by it?”
“No, wait!” Jenny stared with dismay as he strode into the corridor.
He said, “I’m going back to the main hall.”
She caught up with him. “A lot of places are built like this I suppose? You know, secret rooms and the like?”
“Didn’t Elvira tell you?” he said sarcastically. “This is unique, the only Finca in Valencia like it.”
“Elvira told me nothing.”
“El Duque Benito Cabra designed the secret hole. He liked to dabble where he shouldn’t.” Eduardo thrust his hands deep into his pockets. “Quite a character by all accounts. Did a spot of ducking and diving, was one of the nouveau riche of the day. He was popular at the Spanish court. There was envy. It made him vulnerable.”
They turned to the left as the corridor branched. Jenny walked by his side, trying hard to keep up. He behaved as if she was responsible but it was hardly her fault. She cleared her throat. “I suppose all of this is well documented. There are books on it, photographs and suchlike.”
“I doubt it. Not that it’s confidential,” he added, “It just isn’t public knowledge. Why should it be?”
Then why did she know things? How could it be? Jenny followed him back to the main hall feeling distinctly nervous. Elvira was there and came over as he saw them. “Señor, the interior designer has arrived.”
“Designer?” He stopped abruptly and turned to Jenny. “Then who are you?”
“There hasn’t been a chance to tell you.”
“Don’t be absurd. Of course there’s been a chance.”
“I tried but…”
“Just who the hell are you?” He gripped her arm and spun her so that she faced him again. “Are you one of their bloody spies? Have they sent you? What have they told you?”
Elvira looked at the two of them warily. “I’m sorry I had to leave you, Señorita Bucknall. I looked for you, but you were gone.”
“Señorita Bucknall? Bucknall… I know that name.” Eduardo glared fiercely. “I know who you are. You’re the one in Juan’s will, the pretender to the bloody throne.”
“I’m not a pretender. Everything is legal and above-board.”
“Is that what you think?”
Jenny strove for a biting remark; none would come. Her mouth opened but snapped shut without uttering a sound. Triumph skittered across Eduardo’s face… The bastard.
“So, the usurper cometh.”
“Sod off!”
“The English invaders in full force…”
Elvira said quietly, “Perhaps the Señorita would like café con leche, some biscuits? I can prepare tea, if you prefer.”
Eduardo said, “I suspect the English Señorita is ready to take her leave.”
Jenny tossed him the most scathing look she could and strode towards the housekeeper.
Elvira was anxious. “I hope Señor García looked after you. I’m sorry I was so long. It’s a beautiful Finca though, isn’t it?”
Jenny nodded in dumb agreement, but she’d changed her mind. La Finca Piedra was a bizarre place and she didn’t know if she wanted anything to do with it.
As they neared the entrance, a woman swept past with barely a glance; tall, elegant, dressed in severe black, as self-important as any person Jenny had seen.
“A fine building.” Elvira frowned, her eyes unconsciously following the woman. “Absolutely top notch. It’s full of history. Did it rise to your expectations? I’ve always loved the place. You’re very lucky.”
Jenny didn’t answer. High on the wall was a huge oil painting of herself, and she was completely naked. Her legs and arms were draped insolently over a chaise longue. Dark strands of unruly hair escaped in a provocative manner from beneath a comb. Dangling from her left shoulder, covering nothing, was a thin fragment of grey silk with a gold lion emblem sewn into the corner.
She suddenly felt sick. Who was doing this to her? This was part of no dream. That silk scarf had been a birthday gift.


Saturday, 4 June 2011

Author's Summer Read

Tell Me A Story

Ever wondered what famous those authors read? Well here’s what a couple of them might be touching on this summer:

Laura Lippman, author of the Tess Monaghan books, has said, "I am a greedy, lustful reader with poor impulse control, so there's very little planning in my reading. So instead, here's my fantasy summer reading list: a new Bill Bryson, preferably a follow-up to 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid,' perhaps a memoir of his life as a journalist in London; a new Anthony Bourdain memoir or novel, I'm not choosy; a new Kate Atkinson novel, despite the fact that she just published a book; a new George Pelecanos (that one is actually achievable); a new audiobook by Julia Sweeney; a heretofore undiscovered manuscript by the criminally neglected Edward Eager."

On the other hand, Lisa Napoli, writer of the chronicle, Radio Shangri-La said "This summer is all about researching and writing my next book, which is about building community. I can't wait to dive into 'The Great Good Place' by Ray Oldenburg and reread Robert Putnam's 'Bowling Alone.' "

For more read:

Friday, 3 June 2011

Generating Tension

Tell Me A Story - writing tips

 From time to time, I’m asked how to go about generating conflict in a story. It isn’t magic; it comes about when a certain mixture of elements in a story, are correctly balanced.

Creating Tension
I can’t claim this to be complete, but here’s a short list that might be useful as a starting point for creating tension in stories.
  1. The aims of the central characters should be contradictory, and mutually exclusive.
  2. The central characters should be fighting to reach their separate goals autonomously, and to the detriment of the other.
  3. The path your characters take in reaching their goals becomes the foundation of action. You should exploit the actions and contradictions - take full advantage to heighten the tension.
  4. The plot should have a poignant side.
  5. Strong feeling shouldn’t merely be narrated in characters; show by reactions, don't tell.
  6. Emotions that you invoke in your readers are what count most.
  7. It’s essential you understand the feelings you wish to stir in your reader before you write. You must write with that emotion in mind at all times.
  8. The theme of the story should be one about which you care deeply.
  9. You must be affected by your characters, and caught up with what happens to them.
  10. You should believe in your characters and empathise with their struggle. If you don’t, how can anyone else. Your work will lack the oomph that tempts people to turn pages.
As a final thought, a time restriction can also heighten anxiety. Having to complete something vital, before it adversely affects characters, is often a good way of creating tension.