Tuesday, 25 April 2017

An unwanted break from writing

So, today – Tuesday 18th April – marks the end of the Easter holidays and my son returns to pre-school. Although I’ve just written the date, I have no real clue what day it is, why I’m sitting at my laptop and who the characters in my work in progress are.

You see, I think I’m a very lucky person to be able to work from home. It means a can choose the hours that suit me and I can work around my son’s part-time school rota. However, the downside to that is, I’ve found I’ve just had two weeks off work… two weeks I didn’t actually want off, and I’m feeling extremely guilty.

Before my son finished nursery, I had just hit the half-way mark with my work in progress. My protagonist, DI Hamilton, was talking to me and telling me where he wanted the story to go and another influential character was coming up against some deadly threats. I was in a good place with the story. I’m usually quite good at getting the work/life balance right and if I can’t work during the day, I’ll write at night after my son has gone to bed. However, it seems the Easter holidays have run away with me; busy all day with various activities and outings and visiting family/friends. So, even by the evenings, I was shattered to the point where I’ve felt no brain power for creativity. Having less time to write, I thought it can’t all be bad because it’ll mean I’ll get loads of reading done, which can sometimes be just as useful. Sadly no, I managed to finish only one book, and the other one I started last week, I’ve only reached 30%.

On a positive note, I did spend one whole day writing. I managed to get just under 5,000 words written in those few hours. Now, none of it has been edited, so I’m hoping it reads as well as I think I’ve written it. Plus, I’ve made notes galore – in notebooks, as well as on my phone – that I can comb through now I’m back to “normal” and make the necessary changes that have come to mind mid-mini golf or feeding at the farm. There is also another positivity that’s come from the Easter holidays – the break freed my mind and actually gave me some space from my work in progress. It meant I had the chance to think of other story ideas I’ve been wanting to focus on, and I now have the foundations for my first standalone book, which I’ll concentrate on next year. It’s been something I’ve wanted to start for a while, but only had the smallest niggle of an idea – well, I now have the premise of the story and the protagonist is clear in my mind.

The school holidays can be a difficult time to get the
right work/life balance
So, while I still feel guilty for not getting my usual 1,000-1,500 words a day written throughout the Easter holidays, perhaps I need to think more long term. The unwanted break I’ve just had from writing might well have been exactly what I needed to grow the idea of a
future book.  
I'll keep you all updated!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Tara talks books at the library

As it's World Book Day, I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to share with you that I have been invited to Botwell Green Library this month.

The library, in Hayes, regularly holds an afternoon tea event with authors and I'm honoured to have been booked in for Tuesday 28th March, 1-2pm. Although Hayes is not local to where I live, it is local to where I attended Brunel University. So, I'm really excited to be travelling back there and meeting up with fellow book lovers.

This is the first time I'll be involved in an author chat, and I'll admit, I'm rather nervous about the prospect. However, I'm trying to keep in my mind that those who attend, are there because they're interested in crime fiction, reading in general, or even me. And, if no one turns up, then it'll be an experience - and I promise to report back to you all.

If you're near Hayes, and it sounds like something you'd fancy, please feel free to come along. I'll also have a few paperback copies of No Safe Home to sell and sign. Huge thanks to Bloodhound Books for making this event possible. Fingers crossed for me.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Dark Minds climbs the charts for charity

I am delighted to share that this week, Dark Minds: a charity collection of short stories from some of your favourite authors, entered Amazon's Top 100 chart in four countries.

The book, which is available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats, was published by Bloodhound Books in December 2016. All the profits from the sale of this book is donated to Hospice UK and Sophie's Appeal.

Dark Minds is a collection of 40 crime and thriller short stories by authors including Steven Dunne, L.J Ross, Lisa Hall, Betsy Reavley, M.A Comley and myself. We came together to produce an anthology that will lure, tantalise and shock its readers.

My short story, Never Tell A Lie, was a great way to try something new. I stepped away from Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton and entered the mind of villain. Below is the first 500 words of the story to whet your appetite. At the time of posting this blog, Dark Minds kindle edition is on special offer for just 99p/99c - yes, that's right, less than £1 for 40 short stories. If you'd like to find out more, click here to visit Amazon.

Never Tell a Lie by Tara Lyons

It was during the winter of 2015 I became a real man.
The frost welcomed me every morning and I hid behind a large oak tree in Roundwood Park. The grass crunched under my feet as I hopped from side to side, waiting from 5am.  Fiona wouldn’t jog by for another hour, but I never wanted to miss her. The black, tight leggings showcased her beautifully long legs and toned arse. I wanted to rip the jumper from her chest, fully expose the bouncing cleavage it masked. I’d waited so long. My tense body was like a mountain of frustration until she ran by. I’d grow hard as I yearned to touch her. She was my release and I needed to see her every day. Except on a Sunday; Fiona didn’t run on Sundays and I went to church.
I had met Fiona a month earlier at the coffee shop, and instantly wanted her. Her hair shone like the sun and her blue eyes enticed me, pulling me in like the waves of the ocean. I served her a large latte to-go every day for a week before I summoned the courage to ask her out. She swiftly held up her hand and pointed to the gleaming diamond.
‘I’m married, sweetie. Thanks for the compliment.’ She laughed and left the cafĂ©.
I’d never been turned down before. My teeth clenched together in anger. I was used to getting what I wanted – as a handsome man with a great sense of humour, it was what I expected. Her rejection was like a punch to the gut. But, the more I thought about her, the more I wanted her. She was playing hard to get and that was new. That was exciting.
For another week I watched Fiona’s every move. I followed her on Monday morning, after she’d collected her usual beverage; disappointment hit me when she didn’t notice I wasn’t serving. She seemed to breeze through life with such dignity. My respect for her grew; Fiona was the type of woman I could see myself starting a family with. I had waited so long to find the right woman – the kind of woman my father had spoken about when I was a boy.
The week turned into a month and soon I knew everything there was to know about Fiona. Her daily exercise routine, where she lived and worked, which shops she frequented and the journey she took home. She was so busy with her daily tasks, or always with her nose stuck in a book while travelling, she barely took notice of anyone around her. Never once did she notice me watching her.
Her home was nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac. A semi-detached cottage with a quaint thatched roof that had become so difficult to find in London. It was another way she was showing me her uniqueness and style. Its location was an ideal spot – far enough away from the noise and city yobs that you weren’t involved in its tourism and fast-living, but still close enough to actually work there if you so desired. It was important to earn a good wage, and I knew Fiona did. It was also perfect for my evening viewing. I was protected by the foliage; trees everywhere hid me from sight. Sadly, for Fiona, this was her undoing...

To read the rest of this short story, and many more, click here to visit Amazon and grab your copy.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

No Safe Home - book two in The DI Hamilton series is published this month

I'm delighted to reveal the cover for the second book in The DI Hamilton series, No Safe Home. The book will be published by Bloodhound Books on 31st January 2017. 

Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is haunted when the suspicious death of a teenage girl triggers suppressed memories. With a stalker targeting vulnerable women in Central London, and his team rapidly diminishing, Hamilton must conquer his emotions before another family is destroyed.

In a sleepy town in Hertfordshire, Katy has worked hard to rebuild her life after leaving behind everything she knew. But when her past catches up with her, and her young son’s life is threatened, Katy must admit her true identity if she has any hope of surviving.

A home should be a safe place, shouldn’t it? But sometimes it is hard to know who you can trust…
London’s murder investigations team returns in the second novel from the bestselling author of In the Shadows.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Bloodhound Books laps up another author

I'm delighted to share Bloodhound Books has signed me for a two book deal. I am in the process of writing book two in the DI Hamilton series, which will be published Spring 2017.

Founded in late 2014, Bloodhound Books is an independent publisher that was born from a love of great fiction. Bloodhound's best-selling titles include five Amazon top 100 best-sellers - K.A Richardson's I've Been Watching You, Eileen Wharton's Blanket of Blood, Liz Mistry's Unquiet Souls and Betsy Reavley's The Optician's Wife.
I am really excited to have joined such a formidable team and look forward to working with all the team.
Be sure to sign up to the publishing house's mailing list to stay up-to-date with new titles, great offers and you'll get a free eBook of your choice. Just click here to visit their website. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

July Book Reviews: Crime, crime and more crime

I was very excited about visiting Harrogate for the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (see recent blog post for more info on that) this month and wanted to read a few authors that would be attending the event - hence the crime theme this month...

Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham 

482889I struggled with choosing a rating for this book... Let me explain: It's my first Mark Billingham book and I did enjoy it. I thought the idea was realistic and quite scary. However, the style was a bit confusing for me - I wasn't always sure who's point of view we were following. Also, I was a bit disappointed with the reveal of Thorne's memory that had haunted him for 15 years! I just expected more from it. I'd recommend this, and read the next in the series to see if I could get along with the style.

You can read my full review on Goodreads.

Click here to buy Sleepyhead on Amazon.

Mortal Justice: a justice series novella by M.A Comley

30640527Eek! A #JusticeJourney fix was just what I needed. If you've read my reviews on Goodreads/Amazon you will know I am a huge Justice series fan, so loved to see a little novella pop up from Mel Comley.

Yes, it's a short story but it doesn't hold back and packs a punch, just as you would expect from the author. If you haven't started the justice series yet, this is ideally read between the first (which is free!) and second books.

You can read my full review on Goodreads.

Click here to buy Mortal Justice on Amazon.

Snatched from Home by Graham Smith

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It felt very raw - especially thanks to a few particular characters - but very real; there was emotion in there too. I can completely understand why DI Harry Evans has been dubbed by some as the inspector you love to hate.

Graham Smith has another book due out soon and, after reading Snatched From Home, I'm looking forward to it.

You can read my full review on Goodreads.

Click here to buy Snatched from Home on Amazon.

The Optician's Wife by Betsy Reavley

It's another 5 star read of 2016 for me! This book really held my interest and I was invested with the main character, Deborah. I enjoyed the way it was written and thought some of the characters were evil personified.

Definitely one to add to your 'to be read' list this year.

You can read my full review on Goodreads.

Click here to buy The Optician's Wife on Amazon.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

My first time... at Harrogate

As I write this, a week has passed since the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, but it feels more like a month. It was my first experience of Harrogate, and any kind of book festival, and I’ve had a major comedown from the amazing event. I booked up late, only securing a B&B in April (most people attending had booked the previous year as soon as the dates were announced), and now I’m so glad that my ‘fear of missing out’ bug kicked me up the butt just in time.

As a very new author, I was feeling quite daunted as the day to travel to Yorkshire approached. However, I pulled on my big girl pants and had a good talking to myself – this was a great opportunity to meet other authors, bloggers, publishers, publicists and people I’d spoken to online for over a year. If I’m honest, I think I embraced the experience more as a reader than an author, because once I was there my nerves took over on more than one occasion. But I don’t think it altered my experience at all. The festival is overflowing with new and established authors, crime fiction fans, bloggers etc. – all happy to chat about their writing journey, love of books and everything else in between. And I’ll admit, I had a huge fangirl moment when Martina Cole high-fived me over our shared love of Ireland and Clonakilty black pudding.

I think the truth of it is, at Harrogate it doesn’t matter what you do or your reason for being there because your passion for crime fiction means you’ll always find someone to talk too – trust me, the bar is always heaving and the conversation is always flowing. So, if you’re worried about going alone, please don’t! The whole weekend had a very chilled and relaxed atmosphere, with people happy to pose for photos, sign books and share a bottle of wine!

After booking my B&B it was clear I couldn’t afford to attend all the events on offer, so I carefully chose a few I didn’t want to miss. Despite the heat of the room (and I’m not complaining about the awesome weather we had), they were very interesting, well-structured conversations, with a chance for audience participation at the end. There’s nothing like hearing a successful author share their lows and highs to get the creative juices pumping – and yes, I have been at the laptop with an array of ideas since coming home. I came away from Harrogate feeling very inspired – and not just about crime fiction! Thanks to a very passionate blogger, I’m excited about quite a few things (but if I told you now, I’d have to kill you… but watch this space). I hope by time next year’s festival comes around – and yes, I have booked my room already – I’ll feel more confident as a writer, not just a reader.

There’s an author North versus South football match to enjoy, a chalked outline of a dead body on the
ground, a huge WHSmith tent – that not only sells books but holds book signings too, deck chairs and a beer tent, the word ‘read’ in enormous cardboard letters that make you feel like you’re being welcomed to the book equivalent of Glastonbury and much, much more.

I have only just skimmed the surface about my time at Harrogate because I think if I launched into it fully you’d be scrolling down your screen for quite some time. But I’ll end on this – if you love crime fiction, be it because you’re a writer, a reader, a publisher, a blogger, a publicist or anything in between, then treat yourself to Harrogate 2017. The enjoyable atmosphere is contagious and I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. I met some wonderful people, was asked to signed a copy of my paperback (that was an “OMG, is this real?” moment for me) and had the opportunity
to talk to authors about their writing experiences and get some valuable tips and advice. I didn’t buy a rover pass for the day/weekend, but many people did, some dined with authors and publicists while others soaked up the sun… Harrogate is what you make it, but it’s definitely a book festival not to be missed.

Oh, FYI… this year, I stayed at the Baytree House, which is about 20 minutes from The Old Swan Hotel (the hub of the festival). It’s a beautiful B&B, reasonably priced with a fab breakfast and lovely staff.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Harrogate, please just give me a shout, I’m more than happy to have a chat about my first time...