Sensitive Writing for Comfortable Readers…

Revisiting ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ as a I prepare for a relaunch, I have been considering the balance between historical terms and the comfort of readers. The format for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ is Jack Hobbs as narrator writing in the early 20th century of his adventures as servant-companion to Emily Darkwood in the last quarter of the Victorian era. I had always intended it to read as though it had been written of its time, but mindful that as Darkwood was not a woman of her time in outlook and attitude Hobbs would have been similarly influenced.

To get the historical feel for the world Darkwood and Hobbs are in, I mined old expressions, ways of talking, word structures, and terms of the time. Reading through my old works I have come to decide against this to try an improve the appeal. I have also found myself uncomfortable with my few uses of outdated labels for race, and the editor of a current project highlighted a character’s derogatory reference to race and its associated religion. In light of everything that’s going on in the world at the moment around gender, sex, sexuality and race with the associated prejudice, oppression and discrimination these labels feel even more discomfiting.

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Working With an Editor…

WebsiteWUEditing is writing’. It’s my new mantra to get me through what is likely to be a year of editing with no actual writing. This is a consequence of my plan to write write write, and get a bunch of projects done so I would gain some distance from earlier projects to help me with the blindness I have through being so close to my writing. That plan’s not looking so hot now. But, after a long break from the whole writing process, I am reminded of how important the editing process is.

I had a recommendation of an editor, and we are now working on ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (9): The Rat King’ together. I read through it a bunch and sent my manuscript off… and it’s come back with edits on nearly every line. So that was… humbling lol. Cue: Writerly Angst. Ranging from ‘wow–I’m really sh*t at this’ to ‘Okay, I have a lot to learn’.

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Plotting With ‘Saves the Cat’ & Editing…

WebsiteWUAfter my last post despairing about having written 11 projects and the cost of editing all of these, I was recommended an editor who turned out to be reasonably priced. So it’s not all doom and gloom after all. I haven’t booked anything in yet, but due to submit a project for her to work on in May, and I have another project ready for her if she can fit that in too. Considering the cost of this it should be manageable over the next year to get all of them done. That’s if she doesn’t get sick of Darkwood in that time. Strangely, the pandemic has kind of helped out my finances to, as it put a stop to all the home improvements we were going to do–plus it’s hard to spend much in this situation!

A purchase I got in just before the UK went into lock down was a couple of books on writing. ‘Saves the Cat Writes a Novel’ and ‘Anatomy of Story’. Both had a lot of positive reviews and I’ve seen recommended. ‘Saves the Cat’ interested me–not because it mentions ‘cat’–as it has a 15 point ‘beat sheet’ for writing a good novel. I really enjoyed the 7 point writing plan and used that with the majority of my last run of stories within ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’.

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Darkwood Editing & Cover Redesign…


I have revisited seven first drafts of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ for a re-read and edit and having the distance between writing them and reading them has certainly helped spot silly errors and areas for improvement. I also found a whole section of dialogue with no framing text around it… so I have no idea what happened there *sassy double thumbs up*. I have also had some different ideas about one tale to broaden the threat within it, so I will be adding some content to it to up the stakes. I have four more to read through, and then I’ll be having others do a read through, and then I will be paying for an editor.

Cover Redesign

I shared a sneak peek of the new cover design for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ and I have now revisited it and made some improvements… they are only minor, but made a difference. I have added shadows the Darkwood to better match her with Hobbs, and given her added some definition to make her arm and hand stand out, and added some decoration to her hat. I think I have the cover design I like…

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Writing in 2020…

WebsiteWUHappy New Year! I don’t do new year’s resolutions but I am a planner. 2019 was finishing up the next run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’. Of course, in writing, ‘finishing’ is never quite as final as the word implies. I have 11 first drafts finished, and this plan to revisit them now that there is some distance between my writing them, and editing them. Editing. *shudder*. I hate editing.

I think it was a good idea to just write all the Darkwood Msyteries in the next run, and go back to them after some time, as it should make editing I hate editing easier to see past the word blindness I get for recent work so I can spot silly mistakes–wrong words, missing words, repetition–but there is also that anxiety about reopening a file for editing I hate editing that hasn’t been worked on for nine or ten months. Will it be shit? There’s a bit of that ‘what’s in the box?’ Seven moment in opening a file. Please let there be a visceral severed head of Gwyneth Paltrow and not some awful prose…

Aside from getting a second run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ out there, I will be relaunching the first run, with a new story slotted in to round the count up to 10 tales. A number I’m going to aim at for each run of stories. There will be new covers, and I’m going to try and go as broad as I can with availability, and I’m hoping to get the omnibus into print format.

I’m planning new covers for my four contemporary horror novels, and print versions of those too.

Most exciting of all for me, is that I am going to start planning and start a new contemporary horror. The next novel was intended to be ‘Sigils’, a story about people marked by mysterious symbols which imbue them with a supernatural ability unique to them–but, I want to be careful not to make it too fantasy, magicky, superhero feeling, as I want to make sure it stays firmly rooted in horror. I really want my next novel to be horror, so I’m skipping over that and into writing ‘X’, that’s a working title. I like the title at the moment, as the novel is about a guy with a scary ex, and how on a cabin retreat they are one by one marked with an ‘x’ for… well, I better not say. But, I think I will probably go with another title. We’ll see. It will be a ‘don’t go in the woods’ folk lore type tale, which I pretty much have sketched out from beginning to end in my head.

But first… Editing. Have I mentioned I hate editing… Oh, yes… I believe I have.

Editing & Formatting

October 99p/c Sale, Book Promotion & Proofreaders Wanted…

WebsiteWUOctober Sale

Starting today, every week in October, one of my horror novels will be on sale for 99p/c. It’s the first time I have tried a Kindle Countdown promotion, and aside from sharing links on social media, this is the first time I have tried promoting my work in quite a while. But, I knew I couldn’t just leave this to Amazon. So, I have been trawling the Internet for Kindly book promotion sites, and then every night this week I have been uploading them. A lot of the sites seem very similar in structure, even down to author interviews having exactly the same questions and requirements–so, I hope they aren’t just multiple reskins of the same site. I also hope they aren’t closed markets with Indie authors promoting to one another. I will be keeping a close eye on my sales to see whether the countdown promotion and the uploading to the promotion sites do anything. I plan to do more uploading every week through October.


These are the sites that I used where I could. [SOURCE]

$0.99 Thrifty Thursdays:

Each Thursday, they put up a post calling for anyone who has a book priced at 99¢ every Thursday. They will not post erotica, religious, or political books:

Digital Book Today:

If you have a full length fiction novel with at least 25 reviews and an average rating of 4.2 stars, you can submit your book to be featured on this site for free. They do have a limited number of spaces you you need to submit early:

Pixel of Ink $0.99 Bargain Book:

Daily Cheap Reads:

If you have a 99 cent eBook that is not in the exclusive KLL and you would like them to consider posting it, they require a minimum of five reviews.

Reading Deals:

They currently offer a free and paid option:

eBook Lister:

Submit here:

Choosy Book Worm:

You can submit your book here:

Awesome Gang:

Submit here:

Free 99 Books:

Submit here:

And the Awesome Gang (above) sent me the following links in an email:

Book – Free online book promotions with a large audience waiting to find good books. Use coupon code Awesome25 to save 25% off a featured listing. – Home to the hottest books on the planet. Use coupon code Awesome to get $10 off a featured ad.

Book Reader Magazine – Submit an interview and get more free exposure. You can now submit your book and use coupon code kboards at checkout to save $10.

Discount Book Man – If your book is under $2.99 list it here. Coupon code for featured book is kboards to save $5.

My Book Place – Your place to find great books online! Submit your book and use coupon code Awesome25 to receive 25% off a featured listing.

Read Write Club – Great site with featured submissions and author interviews.

‘The Darkwood Mysteries’

I recently finished writing the 20th of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ and the last I need to write for the next run. Now, I will be going back to the earliest ones of the second run and editing those. I’m hoping the distance I have from those first drafts will make editing them easier. Then I will be ready for second and third edits.

Beta Readers & Proof Readers

Any of you lovely people want a first read and to proof read some or all of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’? I can’t offer much in return, but I would place dedications to you in the front and thank yous in the back of each tale and any omnibus editions they might appear in. You might also get a character named after you.

If you’re interested then get in touch with me on Facebook and Twitter.