I love my crime fiction, especially lady sleuths like Kinsey Millhone and VI Warshawski, as well as more comedic heroines like Stephanie Plum. But I am a child of the Hammer era, and also grew up fascinated by horror, by ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night. I’d never found a book that combined all of them – humour, investigation and goosebumps – so I decided the best thing to do was write one! I have a girl crush on my lead, Jayne McCartney, and love her humour, and toughness, and intelligence – I wanted to write a heroine who I’d like to go to the pub with! I also really wanted to create something set in Liverpool, where I live, that reflected both its glories and its problems.Read More
A Review of Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff.
This is a continuation of the huntress story of Hunter’s Moon – and the Reaper of course – it ends the Reaper’s story, but does it end Cara’s?
According to this book / story a blood moon is blue – but all blood moons are red – hence the name… so what is a blue moon?
[http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/blue-moon.html] In astronomy, Blue Moon is defined as either the third full moon of an astronomical season with four full moons or the second full moon in a calendar month… Blue moon is a term that is used to describe the third full moon of a season that has four full moons.
I guess there might be a possibility that a blood moon could also be a blue moon, but don’t hold me to it!
Just to confuse everyone who is not either an astronomer or a folklorist – or an apocalyptic eventer – in other words me – there is also, as well as the significant blue moon and red moon (blood moon- see below) a black moon!
There is no single accepted definition of a Black Moon. The term has been commonly used to refer to any of the following phenomena associated with the New Moon:
- Second New Moon in a calendar month: These Black Moons occur relatively often – once every 2.5 years.
- Third New Moon in a season of four New Moons: In a calendar, a year is divided into three New Moons. When a season has four New Moons, the third New Moon is called a Black Moon.
- A calendar month without a New Moon: This can only happen in the month of February. When this occurs, Januaryand March will have two New Moons, instead of the usual one.
- A calendar month with no Full Moon: About every 19 years, the month of February does not have a Full Moon. Instead January and March have two Full Moons each. The next Black Moon by this definition will occur in February 2018.
Having got thoroughly confused by blue and black moons now this is what a blood moon is:
According to the astronomical site Earthsky.org it would appear that a blood moon is a religious term [see John Hagee, 2013].
The full moon often appears red during a lunar eclipse because the dispersed light from all sunrises and sunsets fall on its face at mid-eclipse.
In folk-lore – Earthsky say – all full moons have a name. The Hunter’s Moon for instance is the full moon following the harvest Moon – which is at the autumn equinox.
Just to confuse matters, the Hunter’s Moon is also sometimes called a Blood moon.
The Book of Joel in the Old Testament has a prophecy that the moon will turn to blood before the End of Times – and is indeed the signal to begin it. Thus the End of the Earthers have taken this prophecy literally and claim that the four Blood Moons of 2014/5 signify that we stand at the edge of the End of Time. However, these types of tetrads are not uncommon and therefore the prophecy and Apocalypse theory are basically bunkum – substitute any word you like here!
A Review of Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff
A Netgalley book
I found this quite a sinister book.
I also thought it an interesting device to write the story over one week.
I do know about the BAU from many years of watching Criminal Minds on TV and the 2 types of female serial killers: the Black Widow and the Angel of Death, but there are more types it seems.
This female serial killer does have one signature though – when she kills with a razor – which is her preferred method – she first slashes the right of the neck and then the left. Forensic pathology can determine this. Assuming that they manage to put together all her kills and identify them as hers. – so they should look for the method of killing rather than the black sleeveless turtle neck.
Checking out female serial killers on the Internet, I found that they tended to kill for 3 major reasons: money, revenge and / or insanity. That said Buzzle.com listed 8 reasons why females kill in order of occurrence.
- Angel of Death;
- Black Widow;
- Sexual Predator;
- Partner in Crime;
- Profit motive or Crime;
- Insane possibility;
- Unknown – as unexpected or random.
I give this book 4 stars and have started reading the next book in the series.
Here Robert Downs talks about how he writes his books on Casey Holden.
Graceful immortality by Robert Downs is reviewed here in: “Grace and Dancing: Murder and TV “on my Dec 21st 2014 blog post.
- Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?
I’m a big fan of hard-boiled mysteries, and I like to think of myself as the consummate underdog. I’ve never been the smartest kid, or the fastest, or the most athletic, even in my own neighborhood, but when it comes to persistence or perseverance, “giving up” is a phrase that’s never been in my vocabulary.
What I wanted was a character who wouldn’t give up, and who was more or less my alter-ego. Needless to say, I probably wrote him a little too well, because he pisses nearly everyone off, except me. And that’s because while Casey Holden may have his flaws, he has an inner-strength that’s pretty impressive.
Writing starts with character, and since I like to think of myself as unique, I tried to create a unique character. Near as I can tell, I’ve succeeded, because I haven’t read anything quite like him. That may mean he and I end up taking a few punches, but we’ve prepared ourselves well in advance for the possible consequences.
- How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
I’m going to turn to a favorite writer cliché, but it applies here and often elsewhere as well: Every story is different. Most of the time a story, or an idea, will germinate in my mind over a period of time (which often differs for each story). The seed grows, then it becomes an itch, and then I’m forced to write about it, as I try to make sense of it. I started the Casey Holden, Private Investigator series around 2004, and the first novel in the series was published in 2011. So, hopefully, that gives you some idea. But I like to think I’m a bit smarter about the writing process now, and I wrote plenty of other manuscripts during that period of time. One will come out later this year, and a few more I’m either shopping around now, or will be in the next year or so.
I use scraps of notebook paper, blank pieces of paper, my phone, and voice recorders. I never know when an idea will hit me, and I need to be ready to go at any time.
- How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?
I take John Grisham’s approach to research: I do as little as possible. I want to do enough to create a believable story, but I also hate breaking up the writing process to do research. But I also love to learn random tidbits of information, so I’m always reading and observing. I’m filled with all kinds of useless information, and I like to sprinkle these random bits around whenever the story warrants it.
I did very little research. I knew I needed an awesome car, but I had no idea which one I was going to use. I believe I was standing in a Barnes & Noble looking through some book on automobiles, and I saw the Dodge Viper SRT-10, and I said, “That’s Casey’s car.” There wasn’t a shred of doubt in my mind. But as far as research on detectives and PIs, all I can say is I read a lot, and I watch plenty of TV.
- What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?
Other books. Those are my main resource, along with TV, Microsoft Word, the Internet, a good dictionary, a thesaurus, and my own imagination, of course. For the longest time, I never would have said I had an active imagination, but I guess it was there all along, and all it needed was the right spark.
- How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?
I haven’t spoken to the police directly. I know nothing beats that firsthand knowledge, but there’s plenty I can find out on the Internet, and I have heard them speak at writer’s groups and whatnot. Again, I listen, file that knowledge away, and regurgitate it when the story warrants it.
- How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?
My stack of rejection letters is a mountain that keeps getting higher and higher. Did I mention I’m persistent? I’ve never actually calculated the exact figure, because it would depress me, but if I’m not pushing four figures yet, I’m probably not trying hard enough. It won’t be long before I’ve crossed that barrier if I haven’t already. I’ve been rejected for over a decade, and I plan to be rejected quite a bit more. Rejection doesn’t bother me. It feeds my underdog story. What I hate, though, is hearing nothing. I know how to deal with success, and I know how to deal with failure, but I haven’t yet figured out how to deal with hearing crickets.
- Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?
No, I decided long ago that I didn’t want to go the self-publishing route, and despite that hard and fast rule, I nearly gave in and self-published. But I’m glad I didn’t…for me. I add the last part, because it was a personal decision on my part. I know plenty of people have had success going the self-publishing route, but I wanted validation, and I wanted a publisher’s support and backing, because I knew I didn’t know everything the first go round, and there’s plenty of stuff I’m still figuring out. But writing is a process, and so is the marketing of a novel, and I’m always learning something new.
- Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?
It really depends on the author, and the author’s situation. I don’t think you can say, “Yes, thou shalt go the self-publishing route; and you there, you shalt try your hand at traditional publishing.” The self-publishing approach has worked for some to build an audience, and the traditional approach has worked for others. But there are plenty of self-published writers that readers have never heard of, and there are plenty of traditional writers who have been cut loose by their publishers. There are no hard and fast rules. That can be scary, but it can also be freeing.
Whatever an author decides to do, he or she needs to go into it with realistic expectations in the marketing arena, and realize that it may be years or decades, if ever, before a writer is truly discovered by the reading public. If a writer does it for himself, and then the reader, and doesn’t expect to get rich anytime soon, then I don’t think he has anything to worry about. But if he thinks the wine, women, and song will flow freely, along with the royalty checks, odds are he’s going to be disappointed.
- Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?
Not exactly. There’s a term: starving artist. If most artists are starving, my dad said, “I’d be dead.” And he’s probably not too far from the truth. But lucky for me, I have a day job that I thoroughly enjoy, and so I write on nights and weekends, and the occasional morning when the opportunity and the muse present itself.
I’ve discovered days that begin with writing are better than days that don’t, but I also figured out pretty quickly that 4:30 or so comes pretty early in the morning, and I can’t do that all the time, and still keep my sanity.
If the sufficient income scenario ever does happen, that’d be awesome, but I won’t hold my breath.
- What was the funniest or strangest thing to happen when you were writing or on a book tour?
I don’t have any really good stories. I wish I did. I guess I save those for my writing. But I will say that if I can surprise myself during the writing process, which I have done on more than one occasion, I’d like to believe I can surprise the reader as well.
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/RobertDownsBooks
I find it very interesting that all the authors so far interviewed say two things:
1. It was very difficult to get published and it took many rejections before they were but they never gave up; and
2. It is very difficult indeed to make a living as writer. good job i don’t need to be paid to write my blog – i have sufficient income from job and pension!
- Start by looking at some recommendation sites and work out which ones are closest to your interest. Some good ones are: For Books Sake which specialises in women authors; opening the book.com/which book; bookreporter.com send a regular email with reviews and details from author events such as talks they go to. US oriented but…
- Join GoodReads and then look further at any sites they recommend. In GoodReads you will find a large number of sub-groups which are chatty or specialise in particular genre. You can find friends to discuss books with and also lots of book reviews. Some groups pair you up with a buddy to read a set book with over a month or two and then you can swap ideas.
- If you are confident you can read fairly fast and can write a review of each book you read – then join NetGalley as a reviewer. You will be given free books – as document downloads – some of which as proof copies and thus will have spelling/grammar or formatting mistakes. Ignore all of these and concentrate on the story, style and general quality of the writing in the book. They have some information about how to review a book well also. If you can manage to write good reviews – not necessarily praising the book, but explaining and justifying your comments, and are prepared to post onto Amazon and GoodReads, then you may be auto authorised by some publishers, which means you will always obtain their books. Note: you will not always be given the book you ask for. Check out what the publisher says they want from a reviewer and see how your bio agrees with it.
- Build a reputation as a reviewer, if you want to read free books. Start a WordPress blog that has lots of book reviews on it. Look at other WordPress sites for book reviews and how they do it and what they are reading. You will find lots of people writing about books on WordPress and Tumblr so ensure you look through them as you will find lots of ideas for books for you to read also.
- Try and have a mix of genres when you are reading and try and read some non-fiction as well as fiction (or vice versa of course). Stretch yourself into genres you wouldn’t have first thought of – keep that mind active! You may surprise yourself.
- Don’t force yourself to finish every book you start. Read around 40-50 pages or 1/3 of the book. If you still don’t like it. Put it aside – delete it from your electronic book store but try and think wny you didn’t like it – you an build up a review of pet hates in books that way!
- Join a book club. Physical or Virtual – or more than one. You may hate what people have chosen, but you will be forced to try new things.
- Look at the Bibliotherapist at the School of Life where you can get recommendations for reading for ‘what ails you’.
- Follow authors. Read their blogs and comments.
- Finally. Ensure that you are warm, comfortable, and have your favourite tea/ coffee and biscuits/cake near at hand. Get your cat to sit on your lap and start…