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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Andrew Mackey offers tips of the trade to authors from character building to research! @rararesources @Andrew_CVB #satire #underdog

Writing humour, horror, crime, romance... all under the banner of satire


Andrew Mackay

Henry Williams is the lead character in The Belch Park Field Trip. In many ways, his character is one of the most traditional arcs anyone could have in their story.
He’s a foot shorter than his classmates.
He’s a bit of a dweeb.
No-one thinks of him as a leader.
Of course, by the end of the trip to the theme park, he’s determined to prove himself.

Throughout the course of the story I used the challenges of the theme park for him to overcome. He’s an inch shorter than is required to go on the bigger rides. So he stuffs his shoes with stones and rocks to gain the extra inch. But it hurts his feet through the day. He’ll use the same rocks and stones to throw at the bad guy, thereby strengthening his resourcefulness.
He’s desperately in love with the new girl at the school. She thinks he’s a wet blanket. Of course, he’ll rescue her at the end and get a kiss. But throughout the day, there are many events which embarrasses him.
Henry is also something of a by-the-books kind of guy. He follows protocol and is a little bit selfish. When the bigger, badder rival school turn up, he’s put to the test. Henry carries a map to the park and figures out where they can hide, and tries to organise the day.
As an author, I threw every conceivable challenge his way. From food fights at the restaurant, to having to stand up for himself in the face of death.
It’s a true underdog story.
Henry’s arc is very traditional in that respect – from zero to hero via all these challenges.
As for researching for Belch Park, it really depends on the author’s overall aim. Belch Park is a theme park like Six Flags, or Disneyland. I’ve spent a lot of time at theme parks and I know how they work. I know the themes they adopt and the layout of the attractions and facilities at the parks. Because my book is a satire, I was able to parody the rides. For example, there’s a ridiculously violent roller coaster called THE VOMINATOR. My friends and I used to joke about renaming some of these rides when we were kids. The launch coaster is called THE BASTARD which was inspired by some of these jokes.
So, The Belch Park Field Trip didn’t need too much research. Although, I found some very useful V-Logs on YouTube of hardcore fans reviewing rides and taking their cameras on them. Also, there was one exceedingly stupid guy who tried to climb a roller coaster after the park closed for the day and nearly fell off. I have a character called Jasper Pratt in my book who does the same thing – but, spoiler, he does fall off. It’s a plot device, because the lead character Henry has to climb the same one in order to rescue his friends.
In the past, I have done a lot of research. My crime thriller, VERSUS, is about
the UK’s first ever school shooter. He decides to shoot his school up on the same day one as one of his classmates, a radicalised suicide bomber decides to blow it up. I had to scour some very peculiar ends of the internet to get the info I needed. I even interviewed some people I won’t name to make sure it was authentic.

In Their Shoes –The Nurse (Book V) obviously needed interviews with nurses on the British NHS frontline. They were invaluable. I couldn’t have written the book without it. I guess my research extends to my desire to treat whatever I’m writing about accurately and fairly. No-one really takes my stuff seriously (I hope) even though the themes are current and relevant.
But research never, ever gets in the way of a good story. It is possible to overdo it to the point where you never start writing, and I hate that.
My next book is sci-fi. I don’t know loads about sci-fi, but I know enough. My intention is to watch three specific sci-fi movies, and three carefully selected sci-fi novels. I’ve decided in the interests of sanity and satire to invent a lot of my own science for it. As long as it’s passably believable, especially for that crowd, then I’ll be okay.

The Belch Park Field Trip
 Amazon UK  Amazon.com 

Henry Williams has never been a leader.
Or stood up to the bullies.
Or kissed the girl of his dreams.

In fact, he’s never stood out from the school crowd.

Mind you, he’s only twelve years-old.
And a foot shorter than his classmates.

All that will change today, though.

The school inspectors are visiting Chrome Junction Academy.
The principal needs to get rid of the cream of the cr@p!
He would have preferred to send them to another galaxy far, far away...

Instead, the obnoxious, high-on-energy-drinks brats are off to...


Roller coasters! Mega-drop towers! Ghost trains! Ferris wheels! Bumper cars!

No end of opportunities for fun, thrills and spills!
The perfect place to run rampant and enjoy themselves...

But wait!

South London's notorious Our Lady of Sacrifice Roman Catholic school is also there.
They're Chrome Junction Academy's natural enemy.
Oh bugger...


Limbs will break...
Dares will result in irreparable damage...
The innocent will be caught in the crossfire...
Even the park may not survive

Henry’s destiny awaits...

Chrome Junction Academy's underdog must step up... and grow a pair.

He'll have to ensure the safety of his friends.
Fend off the bigger, badder kids.
...and get them out of Belch Park in one piece!

About Andrew Mackay​, in his own words:

Some authors are afraid to cross the line.

Me? Oh, I'm glad you asked! I make "the line" my starting point...
My brand is satire.

I hop between genres like madman on crack because my razor-sharp literary knife is hungry for political and social commentary. One genre just can't cut it (if you'll forgive the pun.) I'm obsessed, I tell you!

I write straight-up humor and farce, horror, crime, romance... all under the banner of satire.

My novels often contain a ruthless commentary on society, delving into the darker machinations of modern life. They can be uproarious, funny, outrageous and shocking. Make no mistake, though. They are this way for a reason, and always come equipped with a sense of humanity and wit.

My influences include John Cleese, Tom Sharpe, Kurt Vonnegut, James Patterson, Hunter S Thompson, Douglas Adams, Imogen Edwards-Jones, Michael Frayn, Chris Morris, Jerry Sadowitz, Christopher Hitchins, Bill Maher, George Carlin, Jordan Peterson, Pat Condell, and writer/director Larry Cohen.

My obsessions include (and are essentially limited to) obscene amounts of: smoking, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, sex, debating, daydreaming and writing about himself in the third person.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Bring your characters ALIVE by Siobhan C Cunningham @SCCunningham8 #authortips #paranormal #thriller @rararesources

How to Make Your Characters Believable

S C Cunningham

When building a character I draw from observations of people I know or have closely watched, it’s easier to write from truth.  I enjoy complex characters that slowly reveal themselves, that are not who they seem, that engage with the reader and pull at heartstrings or worst fears.
I try to create characters that the reader would either like to hang out with or see as their worst enemy. Someone they feel empathy for and understand their choices, right or wrong. Someone they champion and punch the air shouting “Yessss!” for.
Working on a series allows you to build characters that hopefully people will fall in love with and can’t wait to see their next move. In my David Trilogy, David is a very bad person, but fans often write saying that they love his character, warts and all, and can’t wait to see what he does next. They understand and champion David the boy, but fear the man he has become. They’ve become hooked on him. In The Deal, book I of The Fallen Angel Series, I wish for the same character impact.
The Deal starts with the main protagonists, Amy Fox and Jack Mallan. Amy’s character and the plot were formed on an incident that happened to me as a child. At 4yrs old I was taken, I survived, another little girl was taken the following week, she didn’t.
Coming from an Irish catholic family, I prayed each night to God asking him for a deal. That if I was a good girl, when I died, would he let me sit on a cloud, invisible, and help catch the baddies who slip through his fingers? 
That incident and how a little girl reacted to it stayed with me. Like many people I like to look out for the underdog and dislike injustice. I’ve worked as a Crime Investigator for the Police and with all the crazy things going on in the world at the moment, the thought of something looking out for us appeals to me.
I’m not religious, but I do believe there’s something out there, an energy, maybe quantum physics we don’t understand yet. So I’ve turned the idea into an action fantasy, a paranormal romance series. With the lead character Amy based on that little girl and her deal.
We start with career girl Amy aged 30yrs, God and her deal long forgotten, mysteriously dying, under a London tube train. Awakening to find herself in an MI5’esque Unit that dishes out tough karma from the skies, wondering what the hell is going on? 
Having formed Amy’s reason and background story, I pushed her outside her comfort zone and add the following details to her character;  appearance,  defects/flaws (stubborn, demanding, soft hearted), internal dialogue (muttering to herself, asking why, talking through insecurities and dilemmas), ambition/ motivation (the end game, revenge), weaknesses  (the handsome ex SAS Jack, impatience, honesty, insecurity), relationships (Jack, parents, best friend Sally), a third party love triangle (Jack and his evil ex, Mara).
 And before you know it I have a 3D character to build on for the rest of the series. She will make mistakes, snap, fight back, learn, grow… all the things that make a person.  I hope you enjoy her journey with me. Enjoy, and keep safe.

The Deal

S C Cunningham, Book I of The Fallen Angel Series

A Paranormal Thriller for those who dare to believe that there is something else out there...
At the age of four, Amy was taken…She survived.
A week later, another little girl was taken…She didn't.

Buy NOW!

A Paranormal Thriller for those who dare to believe that there is something else out there...
At the age of four, Amy was taken…She survived.
A week later, another little girl was taken…She didn't.

Angry that a bad man has gotten away with murder, feisty young Amy Fox makes a deal with God. When she dies, if she’s been a good girl, would God let her sit on a cloud for a while, invisible, to get bad people who slip through his fingers?

Her deal and God long forgotten, career girl Amy mysteriously dies. Her lifeless body is found beneath a London underground commuter train.

She awakens in the afterlife to discover an international network of like-minded souls who’ve all made the same deal. A sophisticated MI5-esque justice machine sits in the skies, protecting, righting wrongs, tracking criminals, and working within strict rules of play…all against time.

Each country's Unit shares intelligence, surveillance, and resources to deactivate dangerous situations. The only evidence they leave behind during their earthly visits is a small white feather sashaying to the ground.

In a chaotic world, powerful adversaries try to close her Unit down. A complex SAS vigilante has been assigned to work as her partner, but with his jealous violent ex-girlfriend on her heels and with her own vendetta to settle, Amy has never worked so hard in her entire earthly life. She has to wonder if making a deal with God was a mistake.

About the author:
Author of The Penance List, Unfinished Business and The Deal,  Siobhan C Cunningham (S C Cunningham) creates Paranormal Romance and Psychological Crime Thrillers with a skilled mix of fuelled tension, dark humour, and pulsating sex scenes. Having worked in the industries she writes about, her novels offer a fresh level of sincerity and authority, rare in fiction.

Abducted as a child, she survived; and every night for months afterward, she prayed to God, asking for a deal. This personal journey sparked the fuse behind the intriguing and riveting fictional world she portrays in The Deal, the first in The Fallen Angel series. Twenty years later Cunningham crossed paths with a violent serial attacker, sowing the seed for her mind-bending thriller, The David Trilogy; The Penance List, Unfinished Business, For My Sins.

An ex-model, British born of Irish roots, she married a rock musician and has worked in the exciting worlds of music, film, sports, celebrity management and as a Crime Investigator for the British Police (Wanted & Absconder Unit, Major Crime Team, Intelligence Analyst, Investigations Hub).

Her first novel, The Penance List has been adapted to film screenplay.
She is the proud mother to contemporary Artist Scarlett Raven and owned by three dogs.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Like Sliding Doors or paranormal books like it? Check out Wide Awake Asleep! It’s half price! Paranormal✔ Time travel ✔ Romance✔ #supportIA #timetravel #paranormal

Wide Awake Asleep
Louise Wise
Amazon. UK Amazon.com
There's someone for everyone—or so they say. Yet Julie’s ‘the one’ ran off with her best friend.
Julie never forgave either of them, but when she heard they died in tragic circumstances she realised that life was too short for regrets and dived into life making her career ‘the one’.
Except, Fate had other ideas.
Unbeknown to Julie, she’d taken the wrong destiny path and Fate needed to put things right. It sent Julie back to when it started to all go wrong for her… back to 1972 when she was five years old.
One problem.
She had to occupy other people’s bodies and watch her life through their eyes, while trying to stop her former self from making the same wrong decisions.
It was as disconcerting as you could get!

Wide Awake Asleep is currently on a countdown deal. Get it now while it’s only 99p!

Excerpt from Chapter Five Wide Awake Asleep

My head was buzzing; thoughts that weren’t mine invaded my mind. I looked over at the mirror on the dresser, then back at the contents of the bag on the bed. I looked at my hands. I’d noticed they looked different before, but I’d ignored their appearance—had to ignore it, to preserve my sanity.

A stranger’s thoughts persisted in my head. Mundane things of another life that I didn’t belong to.

I looked at the mirror again, then rose and forced my legs to move forwards. I knew I’d look different, but the jolt of shock hit me anyway. Instead of seeing my own face, I saw a young woman with a thin, pockmarked face and awful buck teeth. Instead of my blonde no-nonsense bob, my hair was long and brown. A wave of nausea turned my stomach as I stared at my reflection. I should be seeing a forty-nine-year-old woman in her prime, not a twenty-something scraggy-haired woman. I should be immaculately made up with perfect teeth and skin, not… not this.

An unexpected thought popped into my head. Will I look more professional if I put my hair up or should I leave it down? It wasn’t my thought. It belonged to whoever’s body I was occupying.

One thought was spinning around in my mind—and it was mine: I had died in the crash, and this was some sort of afterlife.

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Friday, 23 February 2018

Comedy is easy (and fun!) to read, but so hard to write. #authortips #comedy #books #win #prizes @rararesources @HeideGoody @IainMGrant

Ten tips for writing Comedy
Heide Goody and Iain M Grant
We have been writing comedy together for over six years now, and we’ve learned a lot about technique in that time. In this guest post we wanted to distil some of the most important lessons, so here are our top ten tips for writing comedy:
1. Challenge your characters. Any kind of conflict can drive comedy, but you need to create a mixture of characters and situation that will drive lots of conflict. This is why “fish out of water” works well for comedy.
2. Have an agent of chaos. Somewhat related to the previous point, it can be very helpful if your cast of characters includes someone who can be relied upon to always do the thing that is unthinkably bad. In A Spell in the Country, one of our witches has an invisible imp, who is an agent of chaos.
3. Your first idea is almost certainly not your best idea. If you think of something funny, whether it’s a situation or a joke, you can usually stretch it. If you make it more extreme you can steer clear of cliché and make something that will genuinely startle your reader. For example, when the witches in A Spell in the Country embark upon their training, they are set a task to find an amulet. We wanted one set of witches to fail the task, by bringing back the wrong thing. They might have brought back a stone, a plant or even a cow pat and it would have been funny. Instead they go through a set of thought processes that ends up with them bringing back a live cow. 
4. Specifics are funnier. Whenever you can, name specifics. Gorgonzola is funnier than cheese. Hobnobs are funnier than biscuits. Antique Wedgewood is funnier than crockery.
5. Words containing the letter “k” have a pleasing, often amusing sound: Knickerbocker Glory, spanking, Kettering.
6. Compress the timescale. This can drive the narrative by putting extra pressure on your characters. If your character has to spend a million pounds, that might be a tough challenge, with lots of comedic opportunities. If they have to spend it by the end of the day then it pushes them even harder. What will they do in their desperation?
7. Compress the setting. If your characters have plenty of conflict between them (and they should, if you’ve created a good cast of characters) then forcing them to be close together will heighten the conflict. If they hate each other and want to be apart, put them in a trapped lift together. This was one of the reasons that we put our witches into an isolated country house for A Spell in the Country.
8. Outlandish similes can be fun. Let’s say you want to describe an untidy sandpit. Your first thought might be to say that it’s scattered with old toys. Why not go further? The sandpit looked like an open grave for the victims of a serial killer with a penchant for Barbies. You can probably think of something better if you let your mind run wild for a moment.
9. Consider funny combinations to replace or embellish swearing. The tweets directed at Donald Trump from (primarily) Scotland were a revelation. The very best of them combined some relatively innocuous words into spectacular new ways of swearing. See cockwomble, jizztrumpet and shitgibbon.
10. Watch sitcoms. Obviously, it’s enjoyable, but if you deconstruct some of the jokes and scenarios you will find that they inspire ways that you can have fun with your own characters.

A Spell in the Country

“Dee is a Good Witch but she wonders if she could be a better witch.
She wonders if there’s more to life than Disney movie marathons, eating a whole box of chocolates for dinner and brewing up potions in her bathtub. So when she’s offered a chance to go on a personal development course in the English countryside, she packs her bags, says goodbye to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop and sets a course for self-improvement.
Amazon.UK | Amazon.US 

Caroline isn’t just a Good Witch, she’s a fricking awesome witch.
She likes to find the easy path through life: what her good looks can’t get for her, a few magic charms can. But she’s bored of being a waitress and needs something different in her life. So when a one night stand offers her a place on an all-expenses-paid residential course in a big old country house, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

Jenny is a Wicked Witch. She just wishes she wasn’t.
On her fifteenth birthday, she got her first wart, her own imp and a Celine Dion CD. She still has the imp. She also has a barely controllable urge to eat human children which is socially awkward to say the least and not made any easier when a teenager on the run turns to her for help. With gangsters and bent cops on their trail, Jenny needs to find a place outside the city where they can lay low for a while.

For very different reasons, three very different witches end up on the same training course and land in a whole lot of trouble when they discover that there’s a reason why their free country break sounds too good to be true. Foul-mouthed imps, wererats, naked gardeners, tree monsters, ghosts and stampeding donkeys abound in a tale about discovering your inner witch.”

About the authors:
Heide Goody is the stupid one in the writing partnership and Iain Grant is the sensible one. Together, they are the authors of seven novels, two short story collections and a novella.
The ‘Clovenhoof’ series (in which Satan loses his job and has to move to Birmingham) has recently been optioned by a Hollywood production company. Their latest novel, Oddjobs 2: this time it’s personnel, was published in August 2017.
Heide and Iain are both married, but not to each other.

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