Monday, 23 February 2009

Writing from the male point of view

When I first started writing, my novels were written from the female character's point of view, but I would often find myself thinking the male was a rather more attractive character. I also began with writing historical sagas. Not sure why when I was an avid crime fiction reader, it was just something I did. Now I look back on those three unpublished historical sagas as a kind of apprenticeship. It wasn't until I started writing crime novels and Tide of Death, with the introduction of Inspector Andy Horton that I found my 'voice' as they call it in writing parlance. Not only that but I was also writing what I truly wanted to write and what suited me.

Immediately, writing from the male point of view, everything fell into place. I also discovered that I preferred single point of view which means you follow the story through the eyes of Andy Horton in my marine mystery crime novels and through Adam Greene in my thriller, In Cold Daylight and Alex Albury in In For The Kill. That doesn't mean to say I will always follow this pattern, but at the moment it's how I enjoy writing.

When people ask me why I write from the male character's point of view I often joke that maybe it's because I am a closet man. But I don't really know. Perhaps it's because I have worked in male dominated environments for most of my life, or it has something to do with my personality or upbringing. Or it could be none of these things, and what does it matter anyway? It's just the way I write. Finding what suits you in terms of the genre, style of novel, and viewpoint is often a matter of trial and error until something clicks. What matters is getting inside your character's minds and truly understanding their motivations and emotions no matter whether they are male, female, adult or child.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Choosing titles for your novels

One of the questions that I often get asked is how do you choose titles for your novels?
I might have covered it here before, but here goes, again, if I have!

Titles either come to me instantly, as in my new Marine Mystery crime novel -Dead Man's Wharf, due out on 29 April, or I struggle for ages. The first title in the series was simple, Tide of Death but I had to change the title of the second in the series from Deadly Harbour to Deadly Waters, because it was being published in the USA and the publisher didn't want the English spelling of harbour on the cover. I struggled with the title of the new Inspector Horton Marine Mystery I'm writing, but I have now called it Blood Upon the Sand though that could change before publication.

In Cold Daylight began as The Cold Light of Day before I found another book of the same title in the same genre, a thriller, so I changed it - just to be on the safe side - to In Cold Daylight. And In For The Kill came instantly to me and explains just what that thriller is about - Alex Albury on his quest for revenge is in for the kill.

There is no copyright on a title but if you choose a title that is the same as another in the same genre you could find the publisher of the original book objecting and in danger of having your book pulled.

Titles, just like book covers, have to fit the type of novel or genre, and in my case, because my novels are Marine Mysteries they also have to have a 'sea' element in the title and cover image. Both are very important in attracting the new reader although once readers discover your novels and enjoy them they will then specifically look out for the new one.

Many people rarely remember the titles after they've read a book (unless the book becomes film). People might not even remember the author's name but what they often remember is the main character and they'll look for the next Inspector Horton, or the next Marine Mystery.

I did once, however, meet a reader who told me that she only ever bought crime books with murder or death in the title!

What do you think? How important are book titles to you and what influences you when you buy a book?

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Help With Self-Publishing

PublishMe.co.nz is the self-publishing website of Zenith Publishing Group Ltd and it is well worth a visit. There is lots of help and guidance on this very easy to use web site, which will answer many of the questions you might have about self-publishing. With the rapid changes in the book industry worldwide, and the advent of digital technology, self-publishing is a perfectly viable route for an an author to take. And it doesn't have to cost a fortune.

Zenith has been assisting self publishers to publish their work for some ten years. They have experience of the industry and a track record.

PublishMe teaches you how to self-publish effectively and assists you in the all important area of marketing and selling once your books are complete. The web site gives six simple steps to getting your book self-published.

You can also contact them at ocean@publishme.co.nz or julie@publishme.co.nz

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Ugh, Ahh or Yuck!

This article has been contributed by Anne-Marie Norman who is author of The Mental Hospital published by Chipmunka Publishing in paperback in spring.


I am one of those writers who thinks of editing as a chore. Perhaps it’s because, like most writers, my imagination comes pre-edited, so there is no work involved until you actually come to putting it down on paper. If you tell me there’s snow on the way, I’ll imagine sledding down a hill at top speed wearing a balaclava, effortlessly holding on to the rope with one hand and waving blithely with the other; the painstaking trek back up the hill carrying the sled in minus five degrees and the numerous crashes, gashes, cuts and nose bleeds will never once cross my mind.

But as we all know editing is a necessity, which, like Pandora’s Box, has the power to unleash a myriad of unexpected terrors. After the thirteenth proof-read, in the early hours of the morning, when you’re running out of migraine tablets, and the words on the page have all started to dance the samba, you know there are still mistakes lurking in the manuscript, waiting to be discovered if only you checked hard enough, thoroughly enough, and with more determination.

Apart from the obvious rules of grammar, tenses and spelling you may also find yourself having sleepless nights over dialogue. It was during the tenth proof read of my novel The Mental Hospital that I went on line to check my spelling of the word ‘yuck.’ I had a character who was fond of such expressions, and who would have become much less interesting had she not used them.


After endless scrolling, clicking and tutting I found that the word was actually spelt ‘yuck’ by the Collins English Dictionary, not ‘yeuch,’ as I had spelt it. However, on other parts of the Internet it was spelt ‘yuch’ and also ‘yeuch.’ I decided to go with the dictionary spelling. But I also discovered an interesting array of other emotions acoustically expressed: ‘Ugh,’ ‘aha,’ ‘ahh,’ ‘oh,’ ‘um,’ ‘mm’ and ‘er.’ ‘Er’ was defined as a word used to convey hesitation or uncertainty and was also, the dictionary informed me, the symbol for erbium. However, ‘eeer,’ which is one that I say, and to me denotes repulsion, being a sound I personally adapted in childhood from ‘ugh,’ was not in the dictionary. Should I dare to invent it? Or would people assume I was misspelling the organ of hearing? Then again what about ‘mm?’ Some authors write ‘mm’ with two m’s and some with three. Is it a matter of publishing style or writer’s choice? How long can ‘mmmm’ go on for and is there a record?

During my travels through the uncertain waters of the internet I also discovered something about formatting dialogue. I went on to one of those ‘writer’s helpful tips’ sites, you know, one of those sites that takes you to whole new levels of anxiety and insecurity, and discovered to my horror that you can’t laugh a sentence. “Why not?” I thought. I do it all the time in real life.


I rushed home immediately, biting my fingernails obsessively and checked my manuscript. I had laughed sentences all the way through it and had to change every single one, which took an entire evening and hardly made me laugh at all. Apparently, you can say a sentence and you can reply to a sentence, or mumble or whisper or use a number of other verbs but you can’t laugh one. So you can write: “There’s a monkey on the roof,” he said, laughing. But not: “No, it’s the Archdeacon dressed as a monkey,” he laughed. You can growl a sentence though, or even thunder one; I am sure Heathcliffe did in Wuthering Heights, and I am also sure that an awful lot of murmuring goes on in the novels of D H Lawrence.


So what about other sounds? Can you sneeze a sentence? Perhaps you can, as long as it’s a mild sneeze. Hence: “I’m allergic to chrysanthemums,” he sneezed gently. Perhaps not. Even with a light cold it still might be too difficult to sneeze and speak at the same time. A malevolent character in my book suddenly springs to mind. What about spitting? Can you spit a sentence? Surely spitting and speaking can be done simultaneously if you put enough effort into it? Perhaps one needs to try spitting a sentence to see if it is physically possible prior to writing it into a novel? But just before attempting to do this I start worrying again, I look down at my notebook and discover I have just written the following sentence: “Oh, er, um, …ugh what’s that, ooh, ow, o, yo, brr, yikes, that’s the yukkiest squidgiest most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen!” He confessed.

Mmmmmm….back to the dictionary!

Anne-Marie Norman can be contacted via The Society of Authors

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Top Ten Favourite Books

How do you choose your top ten favourite books when you have so many favourites? That was the dilemma facing me when I was asked by The Book Depository to contribute the article for their web site. It was even more difficult because I had to choose books that are still in print and so many of my favourites aren’t. But I struggled on and managed to whittle it down to ten. You can read my choice at
http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/viewblogarticle.php?id=2401

If you have any favourites, or would like to comment on the books I’ve chosen, then please leave a comment at http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/viewblogarticle.php?id=2401

or on this blog.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Crimewriters Legaltv Pauline Rowson

Pauline Rowson talks to Raychel Harvey-Jones about her thriller, In For The Kill.

Crimewriters LegalTV. Pauline Rowson

Pauline Rowson talks to Raychel Harvey-Jones about her marine mystery novels.