Author blog about the author's writing experiences, self-publishing tips and advice, sci-fi fantasy novel excerpts, non-fiction articles, poetry and other excerpts from her non-fictional works.
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In my youth, I went through a phase of writing rhyming love poems. I managed to find one such “masterpiece” in my memory box to publish. At the time, I was super proud of what I wrote. Now, it makes me feel a little nauseous and I think to myself: I must have had a lot of... The post Rhyming Love Poems (I Was Going Through a Phase) appeared first on S. K....
In my youth, I went through a phase of writing rhyming love poems. I managed to find one such “masterpiece” in my memory box to publish. At the time, I was super proud of what I wrote. Now, it makes me feel a little nauseous and I think to myself: I must have had a lot of time on my hands.
I’m not sure it’s even a love poem, more like a letter I wrote in rhyme because I thought it was cute. As you can imagine, the boy was stunned-speechless when he read it because up – until then – he hadn’t realised he was in a “deep and meaningful” relationship.
On the Verge (…of a break-up. Yep, you’ve guessed it!)
As I’ve sat in this room, thinking things through, I’ve always spared a thought for you.
Of what was then and what is now,
Of when we’re close and when we row,
Of things we’ve said and things we’ve done,
Of all the laughter and the fun.
But most of all, and I hope it’s never, I think of us not being together.
Not to hear your voice on the phone, would make me feel I’m all alone.
I wouldn’t be able to work or cope as I’d live in a world of hope.
I always think the bubble will burst (I’m pessimistic, I think the worst).
I don’t believe that life is easy. It wasn’t put here just to please me.
If things are said and they’re said too late,
I want you to know, I’m prepared to wait.
Although forever’s, not enough,
I won’t hold on, if things get tough.
My heart may be hollow, it may not mend,
But I’ll still want you as a friend.
There’s something I have on my mind.
Although, I search, I cannot find,
I wonder and worry, how I should be and what I should do for you to love me.
If your feelings aren’t that strong,
I wonder what I’m doing wrong.
And even if I think I’m right,
It doesn’t mean that we don’t fight.
So, if there’s a way, please let me know
And I will do my best to show,
The good side of me, which I know is true,
And that is all my love for you.
Copyright S.K. Holder
I won’t be writing any more rhyming love poems any time soon, or regular ones for that matter; I’ll stick to stories.
What I’ve learned about writing a thriller novel Writing a thriller novel is no mean feat. I can’t count the number of people who told me I should write a thriller. This is because most of my stories involve someone getting murdered or accidentally killed. I have no problem writing a murder scene – that... The post Fact vs Fiction – Writing a Thriller Novel appeared first on S. K....
Writing a thriller novel is no mean feat. I can’t count the number of people who told me I should write a thriller. This is because most of my stories involve someone getting murdered or accidentally killed. I have no problem writing a murder scene – that I can do.
I certainly have no difficulty writing the chapters for my hapless murderer, Andres. But when it comes to writing the scenes about the police investigation and all the forensics inTELL, I find myself swimming in soup. Writing a thriller novel is as much about the characters as the details. This is what I learned from Peter James and James Patterson. But do I want to contact my local police station for advice and “works” experience? No, I do not. I’m not ready to get out in the field just yet.
So, here’s what I’m doing with my dark comedy thriller: I’m concentrating on the Andres chapters, since he’s as clueless as I am about how police investigations and the UK police work in general.
My other main character (let’s call her Sky for now) works as an undercover agent. I continue to write her chapters, placing question marks on areas that require expansion.
I have a notebook for my research. I do a lot of my research, not from Google would you believe, but from the TV. There are tons of crime and investigation programmes that cover a lot of forensic and police investigative work. They’re shocking, in-depth and gruesome. (I can stomach watching one a week). For UK-specific, I rely on my Writing magazine. They have a handy crime section with tips and advice from crime writers, and policing and forensic experts.
If you’re writing a thriller novel, getting your facts straight is paramount. Do I wish I could make it all up? Well, duh! My main genre is sci-fi/fantasy! But will I rise the challenge? Absolutely!
I made a conscious decision not to tell our client about the botched-body-removal job. The chances of him ever finding out were slim. So, why bother? But the paranoid git had only gone and called Warren. Our client had seen the body outside his next-door neighbour’s bin and now the neighbour had broken into his house and shifted the second corpse.
What I can tell you about the two bodies in our client’s Essex house is that he was only responsible for one of them: the one wrapped in the beaten rug. He had killed the man over a drug deal. He said he was so wasted he couldn’t remember if he knifed, choked, or shot him to death. It didn’t matter. The body was nothing but the skeletal remains of a man known to the police and locals as Farm Boy. We assumed him dead, killed in a fire along with two other gang members. If the bin men got to it, it would be crushed to shards by now, bones turned to mush, I imagined. If this neighbour thought it was suspicious, and let’s face it, any foreign object that appears out of nowhere on your doorstep is going to be suspicious, then you’re going to take a peek and if you think there’s a body in the bag, you’re going to call the police, unless you have a past with the judicial system, or you have something to hide.
There was no sign of a corpse inside Andres’s house or out the back. I didn’t do a thorough check. No need. I could tell by the way the man had tidied up that he was a neat freak like Mr Ethan, or he wanted to make sure that if the police came calling, they wouldn’t find a trickle of evidence.
Ethan was moving abroad and wanted to put the house on the market. He wanted to get rid of the bodies once and for all. One of the bodies was easy: the skeleton. The frozen one was not; unless you drop them in the arctic ocean, frozen bodies are going to decay. The other problem was we didn’t know anything about the body in the freezer. We needed the victims’ identities if we were going to remove every trace of evidence from Ethan’s house. Ethan didn’t kill her. No need for him to lie – we’re none of us angels.
We didn’t do a lot of the old dead. You’re don’t hoard bodies, or you shouldn’t. We dealt with recent murders, burglaries, fraud, that sort of thing. We had two crime scene investigators; guaranteed one of them would be first on the murder scene. We were now down to one: Warren. We relied on the fingerprint guy. He was our gemstone, our rock.
A month ago, a man got knifed outside a club. He ditched the murder weapon. It had his fingerprints all over it and his name engraved on the side. We could take off the prints even if we couldn’t remove the name, and then dispose of the knife. Make it disappear. Maybe one day, it’ll show up, but they’ll be nothing to link it to our client. That’s how we rolled. We didn’t set up innocents to take the rap for a crime they didn’t commit. You had to have a code. We tampered and we did clean-up. Don’t ask us to whack someone on your behalf. We won’t do it. We occasionally pin evidence on another criminal, especially if they have a tally of offences that they’re already serving time for. Rough justice.
Ethan opened the door for me. His eyes skittered from left to right. He led me upstairs to the attic without saying a word. Ethan was neat for a reason; murders were not his thing. The more you cleaned your home; the less incrementing evidence can be found. Though, not entirely stupid, Ethan wasn’t a smart brick. He was smart enough to travel out of town to rob houses but not smart enough to avoid being caught for driving without a licence, or stock-piling corpses in a house with as much security as a garden shed.
He pushed a tapestry blanket, from a box freezer, onto the floor. He lifted the lid and stood to one side gazing at me. People like Ethan thought that people like me weren’t altogether human, that we were highly specialised. Good at what we did. We demanded respect and did not invite questions. They put all our trust in us in the same way that people do with doctors or veterinarians. I looked at the freezer, pulled out my phone and took a few photos. I immediately sent them through to Warren and then I deleted them. Ethan watched me, waiting for my verdict.
‘And you don’t know anything about her?’
‘No, never asked. Never cared. Mitch said he was going to come back for her. Then he got arrested. And you know the rest. I don’t even know if he was the one who did it.’
Mitch was serving twelve years for larceny. More fool him for not soliciting our services. So far, Tamper had found nothing to link him to the murder. We had a few snitches inside who could have dug it out of him, if it was worth the exposure; I didn’t think so.
Ethan’s lips were balled as tight as his fists. ‘What about the neighbour?’ he said.
‘Don’t worry about him.’
‘Can’t we pin this on him?’
He didn’t know about the code. ‘Too messy.’ I said. ‘The murders are unrelated. And he hasn’t got a record, plus he’s been here.’
‘Yeah, course,’ said Ethan nodding. ‘Are you going to get rid of him?’
‘We don’t do that either. Even messier.’
‘I could get someone to do it.’
‘Why?’ I took photos of the body and then slammed the freezer shut. ‘He hasn’t seen anything. Doesn’t know anything. We get rid of this body. You put the house up for sale. Take the first offer you get and then you’re off to sunny Spain, or is that Tenerife?’
Ethan nodded again. You offered them protection. You put them at ease. That’s the way it worked. Ethan was going to take anything I said as gospel. As far as he was concerned, I had a plan. I knew exactly what I was doing. He didn’t have to worry. He could get a goodnight’s sleep.
His eyes bored into mine. ‘If you want more money.’
He was more afraid of us killing him than he was of getting ‘done’ for murder. Another thing about Tamper that put the fear in clients. We were known to have connections and nobody knew how far they stretched. For all they knew, we could have stretched all the way to Whitehall. We could have, but we didn’t. Nor, did they know the size of our organisation, or who was on our payroll. I smiled. ‘You’re paid up. Now, is there anything else you need? A mortgage broker?’
He frowned at me.
I liked to think that we offered somewhat of a bespoke service, and if he needed help finding a buyer for his house, I knew a few.
‘Then I’ll let myself out.’
First Day at Secondary School I’ll never forget my first day at secondary school. I felt as if I were floating when I walked up the smooth concrete path towards the wide glass doors with their chipped paint. I was aware of the other children staring at me because I was different, something new, something... The post My First Day at Secondary School… appeared first on S. K....
I’ll never forget my first day at secondary school. I felt as if I were floating when I walked up the smooth concrete path towards the wide glass doors with their chipped paint. I was aware of the other children staring at me because I was different, something new, something to be feared, detested, or a source of amusement.
All I cared about was getting through the doors and into my classroom.
I heard jeering, laughing and whispering. I remember someone trying to get my attention. I don’t know if it was a boy or a girl. My vision had gone a little blurry. They started towards me. I panicked and walked off the path. When will I be old enough to make my own choices? I thought, then I wouldn’t have to be here. I could walk out of the school gates without any consequences.
I caught my breath and returned to the path. Almost there now. I climbed the steps one by one. My legs felt heavy. Every movement was an effort. One of the boy’s called me a name: nigger. I had heard it so often; I had become immune to it. Names won’t break me, I thought. They had better come up with something new.
If anything was going to break me it was the stares, the multitude of eyes pinning me down. I came to the doors and stumbled across the threshold. I swallowed as I felt a queasiness take hold. I had memorised my class number by heart to avoid the added embarrassment of entering the wrong room. I jumped as two screaming boys ran past me: confident and without a care. God, how I hated them.
You see I had this mantra. It went something like this: get used to the nerves – that won’t change. Just don’t be late for class. Remember, the only thing you can expect to get out of this school is semi-decent grades, and if you make some friends along the way, consider it a bonus.
Someone was calling me. But they couldn’t know my name because I didn’t know anyone. The voice came from behind me. I dared not turn around. There would be more eyes on me! I kept walking. The voice grew more urgent. I heard trotting footsteps. I sped up, suddenly petrified.
A hand brushed my shoulder. My heart leapt again and whipped my head around. Eyes were one thing but no touching.
A girl held my Parker coat in her hand by its hood. Her eyes were so big, she looked manic. ‘You dropped your coat,’ she said.
My dad had sown a name tag into the lining. I felt myself blush. ‘Thanks.’ I took the coat from her with shaky hands.
‘What class are you in?’
I moved to one side to let a boy pass. ‘6G. What about you?’
‘Same.’ She smiled, revealing her crooked teeth. She had hair like brushed cotton-wool. Her school jumper was two sizes too big for her.
I smiled back, light-headed with relief. I wouldn’t be going into the classroom alone. I had one friend. One friend to pin their eyes on me, and then I wouldn’t have to focus on the rest of them.
An accidental dark comedy thriller This is an excerpt from my dark comedy thriller. I didn’t set out to write a comedy, it just sort of happened. I embarked on this story when I signed up for the Curtis Brown, Starting to Write your Novel course last year. It was a great course, plus I won... The post What I’m Writing: Dark Comedy Thriller appeared first on S. K....
This is an excerpt from my dark comedy thriller. I didn’t set out to write a comedy, it just sort of happened. I embarked on this story when I signed up for the Curtis Brown, Starting to Write your Novel course last year. It was a great course, plus I won a book for my efforts!
I wonder if I should be writing a dark comedy thriller, given that I’ve only read a handful in my life, and the fact that I’ve found myself laughing out loud at mainstream mysteries and thrillers, which aren’t supposed to be funny. I guess this says more about my twisted sense of humour, doesn’t it?
I’m still working on this one. Normally, it’s the plot I struggle with, in this case, it’s more about the details: forensics, police administration – that sort of stuff. I need to research the hell out of it, or it really will be a comedy!
I took part in National Writers novel Month in November, but not to work on my dark comedy thriller or something new. Thing is, I wasn’t fully invested. I spent a lot of time revising the third novel in The Other Worlds series I plan to publish later this year. It will be the last in the trilogy, but not necessarily the last Other Worlds tale.
Excerpt from Tamper: dark comedy thriller
Words to avoid like the plague! As a writer, there are so many words that I’ve been told to avoid, it’s no wonder that I can get any writing done without pausing mid-flow to ask myself, is this on the list of words to avoid? And then there’s the nagging ‘habitual word usage’, whereby you... The post Novel Writing: Words to Avoid appeared first on S. K....
As a writer, there are so many words that I’ve been told to avoid, it’s no wonder that I can get any writing done without pausing mid-flow to ask myself, is this on the list of words to avoid?
And then there’s the nagging ‘habitual word usage’, whereby you take one word or phrase and ‘beat the reader over the head’ with it.
I’m a fan of the word ‘but’ I believe it’s a great transitional word. However, I use it frugally as it is on the list of ‘words to avoid’.
I once read a book, where an author used the word ‘but’ several times on every page. I don’t understand why the editor didn’t pick this up. The word screamed from every page. After counting the word ten times on one of them, I was all ‘but-ted out’ and couldn’t bear to reading anymore.
Here’s a list of words that I’m told I should avoid when writing but don’t:
and the list goes on…
You should also avoid all adverbs because they break the “show don’t tell” rule.
Here’s an example:
“I get where you’re going – not,” she said sarcastically.
If you’ve ever had your work professionally critiqued, you know this is one of the first things an editor will pick up on. I once had my work critiqued by a traditionally published author. She found one adverb in the excerpt I had sent her and wrote a side note explaining the “show don’t tell” rule. I already knew about the rule and kept my one adverb regardless as I thought it worked well in the sentence.
I think it depends on the literary agent or publisher because I’ve read many debut novels in which the authors have splattered their pages with adverbs and they’ve gone on to become extremely successful.
There are plenty of book promotion websites on which you can advertise your free eBook and Kindle countdown deal. Some of these will amass no sales or downloads, some will only make a dent, others will make you a sizeable profit. The majority of promotional websites will ask you to pay a fee. These fees... The post Book promotion websites appeared first on S. K....
There are plenty of book promotion websites on which you can advertise your free eBook and Kindle countdown deal. Some of these will amass no sales or downloads, some will only make a dent, others will make you a sizeable profit. The majority of promotional websites will ask you to pay a fee. These fees can add up and there’s no guarantee you’ll recuperate the costs by making a tidy profit.
If your budget is small, I wouldn’t advise that you spend hours, or days, submitting to every promo website. Submit to the free book promotion websites first or find a website that will charge you one fee to submit to a list of selected websites in one go. I should point out that some of these websites will require a certain number of good reviews before they will promote it. Some will ask you for the name or the company who professionally edited your book.
The best days to run book promotions are Sundays and Mondays.
I once submitted my free Kindle promotion to almost every free and low cost book promotion website I could find online; the costs mounted up, the downloads – not so much. When I changed tactic and submitted to a couple of the pricier book promotion websites, along with a few Fiverr deals, I had downloads in the thousands, turned a profit, and experienced steady sales for several months thereafter.*
These are the promo sites that can net you over a thousand downloads as oppose to a few hundred.
There is a waiting time and a sizeable fee. They don’t always say yes, but if they do, you can climb up the Amazon rank list pretty quickly.
A word of caution: they will want to know if your book deal is flexible. Therefore, I would approach them first before scheduling any promos on any other sites.
You can expect a couple of thousand downloads for popular genres. My paranormal fiction did well in this promo. I would also recommend Book Gorilla.
Here, you can find a list of book promotion websites.
If you want to promote your novel and gain reviews, you may want to consider giving your book away for free.
Don’t go crazy giving away physical copies of your book as you’ll want to keep costs down.
Run a contest on your own website and offer a couple of signed copies of your book as a prize. If the contest winners enjoy your book, they may post a review and spread the word about it to their friends and family as well as on social media.
There are plenty of book blogging sites which will help promote your book on their website, if you offer it as a giveaway. Ensure that you run your giveaway on websites relevant to your book, so that it finds its way to the right reader.
Goodreads allows you to run contests for your book giveaways. Signed copies always go down well.
Amazon has a similar feature. You can run promotional giveaways on their website for the physical books you have on sale.
You should also consider giving free copies to schools (if suitable) or donating a few copies to your local library.
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