Lies – T.M Logan Guest Post

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Today, it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog T. M Logan giving his top five writing tips.His novel Lies was recently published by Bonnier Zaffre. You can read about the book at the end of the post.

My top five writing tips for aspiring writers

When I was eight years old, my older brothers dug a hole at the end of our garden. It was about three feet deep and two feet wide, behind a hedge where our parents couldn’t see.
When they were finished digging, they told me to get in it.
Why? Because it was a condition of me joining their gang. The Secret Association Society (none of us realised at the time that the acronym was already taken) was all about traps, and poison-making, and setting stuff on fire, and trying to smoke rhododendron leaves. I wasn’t keen on getting in the hole. But I was desperate to be in their gang – so I climbed in, whereupon my brothers covered the hole up with a board and threw some dirt on top. I crouched there in the pitch darkness, gripping my knees, smelling the dark earth and feeling the trickle of soil down the back of my neck. Eventually, they let me out again and I was duly made a member of the SAS. Anyway, the point of the story is this:

1. At some point as a writer, you’re going to have to do things you don’t immediately want to do.

Agents, editors, publishers, copy editors, trusted friends – they may all suggest changes to your manuscript that you don’t necessarily want to make. Try your hardest to listen to them – most of the time they will be right (as I found with LIES). You may have already been through several drafts yourself, and feel you don’t want to make any more changes. You don’t want to get in the hole. But almost everyone’s work can be improved somehow, in some way, through constructive feedback. Which leads me neatly into:

2. Try to get feedback from people you trust.

Getting feedback is tough. Asking someone to critique your work is a bit like walking stark naked into a room full of strangers and asking them to give you marks out of ten. It’s difficult. I’d be the first to admit that I was not very good at it to start with (for a long time I didn’t even share my writing with my wife). The problem is, finding people who want the best for you but won’t just tell you what you want to hear. It’s a judgement call that you have to make. But it’s absolutely worth doing.

3. Write every day.

If you’re serious about writing, you should do it every day. Particularly if you’re trying to get the first draft of a story down. When I start a new story I get a diary, photocopy the ‘Year at a glance’ page at the back, and stick it on the wall next to my desk. Each day I make a note of my wordcount – the aim is 500 on a weekday, 1500 on a weekend day – but it’s less about the number and more about making links in the chain and keeping that promise to myself. If I’ve written for 30, or 50, or 100 days straight, am I going to take a day off and break the chain? Probably not.

4. Every character is the protagonist of his or her own story.

Imagine a clock with no numbers on it. Turn it in your hands. The time it gives will depend on the way you rotate it – one way up will show you 11.15, but flip it over and the time becomes 4.45. The point is: all of your characters should behave as if they are the protagonist. None of them should act as if they are just in a supporting role – they all have their own point of view and are all the central character in their own story. If you can do this effectively, it will help to bring all of your characters to life. Even those who only have a small part to play in your narrative.

5. Let yourself fall into the page.

I love social media. But if you want to be fully absorbed by what you’re doing, put your mobile in a different room. You can’t be listening to your characters, and seeing them in front of you, if you’re constantly being pulled back to reality by your phone pinging with notifications every five minutes. Stephen King calls the process of becoming absorbed in your fictional world ‘falling into the page’. He wrote a brilliant book called On Writing – read it if you can.
Good luck!
@TMLoganAuthor

About the Book

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES? A gripping new psychological thriller of secrets and revenge, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and Tom Bale

When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that’s when Joe receives the first message

Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie.

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About the Book

A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.
The charred body of a policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found in the burnt-out-shell of his car on the Southend seafront.
To DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell of the Essex Police Major Investigation Team, the two events seem unconnected. But as they dig deeper into their colleague’s murder, dark secrets begin to emerge.
Can Pearson and Russell solve both cases, before more lives are destroyed?

My Review

A police officer is found dead in a burnt-out car. He is being investigated after an accusation of violence and suspected expenses fiddling. His former partner, Cat Russell is questioned throughout about her knowledge and possible involvement. Pearson is the older cop. His marriage is in tatters and his health is questionable. Together they are trying to get answers about Carragher’s death and whether he was a dirty cop. Both officers had their problems. Russell had no family support and struggled at times with attitude of fellow officers who resented her having a university degree. Pearson is concerned about his ex-wife but more so about his health problem.
Donna has recently been released from the care system that didn’t give much in the way of care. She is grieving over a recently deceased friend who she ‘sees’ in visits along with other people who have died who she has had contact with.
I liked this debut novel, I loved the way that the author set out his scenes. It’s not something I have come across before and I thought it worked well. It was like reading a TV script. I liked the partnership of Pearson and Russell, and the relationship that they had with their superior officer Roberts. Much of the novel focuses on Donna and her friend Malc and the reader finds out most of what happened to Carragher before the police do. Again, I thought this was done well, along with a twist at the end.
I am pleased that there will be another book published soon, this could be another series to get interested in.
With thanks to Clara Diaz at Little and Brown for the copy received.

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Watch Her Disappear by Eva Dolan.

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About the Book

The body is found by the river, near a spot popular with runners.

With a serial rapist at work in the area, DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are initially confused when the Hate Crimes Unit is summoned to the scene. Until they discover that the victim, Corinne Sawyer, was born Colin Sawyer.

Police records reveal there have been violent attacks on trans women in the local area. Was Corinne a victim of mistaken identity? Or has the person who has been targeting trans women stepped up their campaign of violence? With tensions running high, and the force coming under national scrutiny, this is a complex case and any mistake made could be fatal…

My Review

Watch Her Disappear is the fourth book in the series that features Zigic and Ferreira and is my favourite one so far. You can always rely on Eva Dolan to write something a bit different and in this book the hate crimes unit are looking into the murder of a transgender woman and other attacks that they suspect are linked. Corrine, the victim doesn’t come across as a very nice person, either as Corrine or in her previous life as Colin. In all honesty, I had more sympathy, if not liking for her family.
All the trans women who featured appeared more confident and happy when they could live their lives as women. Eva demonstrates how the trans community are regarded in society. Some people are supportive but many treat them with no respect and as an object of ridicule. Some of the terminology used by members of the police force excluding Zigic and Ferreira made me cringe slightly and it was believable. Even more believable was the storyline regarding the attitude of certain people on social media.
Alongside the investigation is another that is looking into rape. The two detectives who are involved in the case know who is responsible but it is impossible to prove it. Ferreira is also doing some work on this case and I loved how she could get under the suspect’s skin.
The last third of the novel, when I had figured out who was responsible if not why was impossible to put down. I felt upset for Ferreira who struggled with guilt and frustration at having to stand aside. She has been a favourite character since the first book, I just like everything about her.
I read a lot of series fiction and with all the books that I read I usually fall behind but this is one series that I have kept up to date with. I hope that it will continue.
With thanks to the publisher for my copy received.

Kill the Next One by Federico Axat.

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About the Book

Ted McKay had it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger.

Then the doorbell rings.

A stranger makes him a proposition: why not kill two deserving men before dying? The first target is a criminal, and the second is a man with terminal cancer who, like Ted, wants to die. After executing these kills, Ted will become someone else’s next target, like a kind of suicidal daisy chain.

Ted understands the stranger’s logic: it’s easier for a victim’s family to deal with a murder than with a suicide. However, after killing his targets, Ted’s reality begins to unravel. KILL THE NEXT ONE is an immersive psychological thriller from an exciting new voice.

My Review

I thought that this would be an unusual thriller but I was utterly unprepared for how bizarre it would be. I thought that it would be just as the blurb suggested, that of a ‘suicide by chain letter’ but the more I read further layers were exposed. This was one book where you couldn’t assume to know what would happen next. It was only during part four that I started to relax slightly and think that I had grasped it but yet again I was proved wrong.
I think it worked, despite all the layers and very strange twists it made sense. There were a few pages towards the end that I wasn’t keen on but I am aware that there are some people who do the things described. It didn’t make easy reading though.
Probably a book that not everybody would enjoy but I liked it and the translation was excellent.
With thanks to Sophie Goodfellow for the copy received.

Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb.

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About the Book

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

Breathtakingly fast-paced, both hard-boiled and heart-breaking, Deep Down Dead is a simply stunning debut from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

My Review

Deep Down Dead is a brilliant fast-paced novel. Lori has no other option than to take her daughter Dakota with her on her latest job. It’s one that she would prefer not to do but she is desperate to pay for Dakota’s medical treatment. The man she has to bring in she knows very well.
I loved this novel. I have to admit I had felt slightly dubious about reading it. I don’t really like reading novels that have a sick child in but I had no need to worry. There were no details other than the financial situation that she needed to resolve.
Lori is everything I like in a heroine, she is sassy, independent and very loyal. I had a feeling that Dakota would be just like her. JT is a loner with a heart. This becomes more evident when he reveals why he ended up being a fugitive.
The storyline could have  been quite harrowing, but one of the reasons I like this novel so much is that it isn’t gratuitous. You are aware what has been happening at the theme parks and there are some violent scenes but nothing that I felt uncomfortable reading. I was smiling to myself reading the description of the theme park. It is something I have never been to and if they are anything like portrayed I won’t be visiting anytime soon.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.

 

Steph Broadribb will be appearing at February First Monday at Goldsboro Books on Feb 6th. detail can be found here