An indie book’s not just for Christmas…but Christmas is a pretty good reason to buy one! Blog Post Revisited! :-)

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Whoop whoop it’s nearly Christmas! It’s a good job signed and gift wrapped copies of Poker Face and the Puppet Master make great presents for young adults and adults alike! Ha ha!

If you are local and you would like a copy (minus postage) please inbox me on my Facebook author page   www.facebook.com/JessSturmanCoombs  

If you aren’t local but would like to order one please visit my website http://jesssturman.wix.com/jess-sturman-coombs  and select the Paypal option on the relevant book page.

Happy Christmas all!

 

PS both books will also be available and gift wrapped at the launch on the 19th December 2012. Please see this link for details http://jesssturman.wix.com/jess-sturman-coombs/apps/blog/the-puppet-master-launch-poster  and remember that children are most welcome to come along.

Why not join us for a drink and a mince pie! 😀 x

With lots of Christmas love from me!

 

Jess 🙂 x

 

 

 

GOING UNDERCOVER by Alan Shaw – Blog Post Revisited! :-)

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GOING UNDERCOVER…

Part-way through what I hoped would be my final rewrite of Project Overkill the penny dropped that I’d need a cover. Even at that stage I was sure I knew the sort of thing I wanted but had the advantage of knowing an artist, and I approached her for ideas.

Cherie once owned a graphic design business in London and subsequently moved to Shrewsbury to open a delightful ‘individual’ shop where you could buy anything from unusual greetings cards to a dolls’ house. She was always busy when I went in but still made time for my doubtless gauche and naive questions.

When I outlined my thoughts she suggested I visit Waterstones and look at covers of titles of similar genre to my own. Excellent advice, but Overkill is intentionally cross genre before reaching its central plot. So I decided instead on a cover that would depict a scene from the novel. I wanted strong female hands above a computer keyboard, with a swishing black tail somewhere significant.

A week later Cherie produced an excellent working version of what I’d asked for and a few good reasons for why it might not work. Suitably chastened and knowing her life had recently become even busier I retired to lick my wounds and reconsider. I still wanted something from the book but this time felt a portrait of one of the main characters at a pivotal part of the plot would be right.

 

 

I Googled around; downloaded; retouched, and came up with this. I loved it! It was just right! This was Marcia at her moment of truth when her life would never be the same again. Full of joy and confidence I furtively showed it to a couple of people. ‘It looks a bit graphic’ was one response [even though I’d toned it down considerably!]; the other was ‘what is IT?’. I explained ‘IT’ was Information Technology; everyone knew that. ‘Are you sure?’ came the reply.

Suddenly I wasn’t. I needed advice again and by great good luck a friend knew a local graphic artist called Joel Stone. Hesitantly I contacted him and we met. After telling him my life story and showing the ‘IT’ cover he asked if he could read the novel to give him a feel for the content. It was finished by now and I sent it to him. He read it; asked a few questions; talked about captions and produced this. The monochrome effect would suggest night and duality and black and white was also very appropriate because there is plenty of both sorts of ‘magick’ in the novel. The pentacles were my idea I think but Joel engineered them perfectly.

 

 

 

I followed his suggestion to kick his cover around with the other ideas I’d had in mind and let him know the outcome.

Someone I know from my book club took a look and said Joel’s was the one she’d take off the shelf. I then showed the options to some friends and family and received no end of flack from my daughter.

“I don’t want my father having an 80s porn star on the cover” she said of the ‘IT’ image. ‘You’ve spelt ‘magic’ wrong said someone else, and was unimpressed when I explained it was the correct spelling for this book. My daughter’s partner, after I told him a bit of the plot and my early wish for a cat produced on his own initiative a selection of feline options expertly put together on Photoshop. I still have them as a memento; they are very good.

The heat went up. Like me, all of them are individuals with their own opinions. Someone walked out of the room in exasperation and my agent took me aside to patiently explain the cover decision was normally outside the talents of the author. That is why publishers have their own people to work on them before showing the writer their final decision. A third suggested that using the ‘80s porn star’ version would need a rewrite and that in no way would they want to be associated with it.

Ninety minutes later, feeling I was sweating blood, I asked them which they would choose from what they had in front of them. Unanimously it was Joel’s. I thanked them, genuinely, and at the same time promised myself I would never put myself through this again. If ever they read this they’ll probably echo the same sentiment.

Since publication the book has been reviewed favourably and people have told me the cover is memorable. It is. He was right. They were too. I wasn’t. The experience doesn’t tell me how anyone else should choose a cover for their book but it tells me how I should. Easy: go with Joel. That’s why he has me again for The Shrewsbury Murders. Here’s his latest blog about it: http://bit.ly/YEOV9G  Already it’s proving a challenge! In addition he wants to take me to task for my Facebook comments about The Dark Knight Rises so I may well be in double trouble when soon we meet.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If Ms. J S-C has me back I’ll see you again early 2013.

 

 

The Official Puppet Master Launch Poster! Blog Post Revisited! :-)

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Your Invitation to The Puppet Master Launch Party! – Blog Post Revisited! :-)

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You are invited to the launch of

‘The Puppet Master’

Book two in the Poker Face series

Wednesday 19th December from 7.30pm – 11.30pm

at

The Deco Theatre, Abington Square, Northampton NN1 4AE

(There will be a bar and nibbles and children are very welcome)

Both books will be available on the night, should you wish to take a look or purchase a signed copy, and

there will be a free gift wrapping service also in the black and white Poker Face theme.

St Michaels Car Park is situated just a few yards to the right of The Deco. After 8pm parking is free.

Jesssturman.wix.com/jess-sturman-coombs

Jesssturman.wix.com/jess-sturman-coombs/apps/blog

THAT ELUSIVE FEELGOOD FACTOR by Alan Shaw

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I’ve often moaned and groaned about not getting much time to actually write because of real life getting in the way [along the lines of Woody Allen’s comment: ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans’].

This year, after months of intense on/off negotiation we bought a Victorian pile [Vp] that needed lots doing to it, only some of which we were aware of at the time. Much has been achieved, often involving visits by skilled folk plying their trade morning, noon, and night. We are on first name terms with all of them and have even speculated about annual reunions if indeed we ever cease to see them on a regular basis. There is more work to come although thankfully the worst may now be over. [The last time I thought that though there was a storm that night and much interesting gutter renewal work sprang into view.]

What with this and the social networking – which I enjoy – writing the follow up to Project Overkill is like one of those New Year Resolutions to quit smoking, drinking, and to exercise every day. You know; more wish list than declaration of serious intent.

The thing is I started to feel that even though I had my excuses lined up like ducks I still felt I was letting the side down. I felt bad about my lack of progress. Scratching around for a solution I had the brainwave of taking the writing where Ruby wasn’t allowed to take her love [Kenny Rogers’ Ruby; not Ms JS-C’s]. So I put it on the iPad and headed to town.

This began quite successfully but I would soon get caught up in the ongoing needs of Vp. ‘Can you come and move the car so they can fit the van round the back?’ ‘They need another spirit level and I’ve no idea where ours is.’ ‘You’ve got the cheque book and we need it now!’

This of course highlighted the fact that I wasn’t really playing the game by not being there. It wasn’t as if I was completing something where the final cut would be auctioned to an array of anxious publishers and the millions forthcoming would satisfy even Vp’s insatiable needs. No; I had to do the right thing and so again became home-based.

Despite all these fabulous reasons my conscience – never something unduly troubling – began to pace around my head and stopping to glare – in exactly the same way I imagine Ms JS-C to be doing because this copy is a bit late. Desperate measures were called for and I began a new regime of what one day I shall patent as ‘The Vampiric Approach to Completing Your Novel’. Put simply this involves freshening up late at night then working through with whatever legal stimulants you can find until you either finish or fall asleep at the desk.

I’ve certainly managed the former often enough but by using this method I have now recast and changed the thrust of a chapter that was somehow managing to scamper about in all the wrong directions, and I recommend it as a useful port of last resort.

The best thing though was the feeling of sheer elation afterwards. The weekend was full of Remembrance Day associated activity and despite fatigue I plunged into it with relish. My only mistakes were four double brandies after the Regimental Dinner and ordering an expensive and probably unnecessary new tie. But the Feelgood factor was with me throughout. Without my late night sojourn it wouldnt’ve have been.

Next time – provided Ms JS-C allows me on her boards again – I’ll be banging on about the importance of book covers and how being sure I know best represented pride going before a fall.

 

44 Days & Counting! Blog Post Revisited :-)

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007

Dear Blog!

The venue has been booked for the launch of The Puppet Master, book two in the Poker Face series. It will be held at  The Deco Theatre http://www.thedeco.co.uk/ on 19th December 2012 from 7.30 onwards and everyone’s invited. There will be a bar and nibbles and children are also very welcome. Both books will be available as well as a free gift wrap service in the black and white Poker Face theme for anyone wishing to buy a copy for Christmas. There is absolutely no obligation to buy the book and the launch is mostly about getting people together, spreading the word about the series, and celebrating achieving something that I absolutely love with others. It would be great to see you there.

___________________________________________________________________________________

I am running a little open and honest writing diary on the run up to the launch and I will be updating

the record below on a daily basis. Please check in and feel free to like and chat while you’re here 🙂

___________________________________________________________________________________

12th November 2012 & 38 days to go!

To say I’m feeling overwhelmed today is like saying that on a bad day the Atlantic is a little bit choppy! The way I feel right now I could well be embarking on a swim across said ocean. I’m all greased up, toes in the shingle of some remote Welsh beach and that is about as equipped as I feel. As it stands, at the moment, I have an awesome venue and at least three definite guests; Mr S-C and the kids. I haven’t counted myself because unless more people say they are coming, and I finish the book properly in time, I’m not sure I’ll be there either!

On the plus side (I think it’s a plus side and it is book related so it must be, right?) I have started writing my launch diary!

 

11th November 2012 & 39 days to go!

I took a break…come on cut me some slack here!

 

10th November 2012 & 40 days to go!

It’s funny because today I managed to format my whole book, all 302 pages of it! I transferred it from an A4 document to an A5 document. I removed all random spaces that had found their way in and can mess up the print and also the e-copy copy. I adjusted all my indents to 0.5, unified my chapter headings and added page numbers. That took me about three hours in total and I felt well chuffed by the end, if somewhat unable to see properly! I then realised (a little too late to save my eyesight unfortunately) that if I’d increased the page size using the clever tool on the bottom right hand side of my screen, I wouldn’t have had to struggle to see the damn thing.

 

I also had a mega fab idea for the Poker Face series, and all other books I intend to get completed and published, and I am very excited. It’s a bit of a secret at this stage but it does mean learning a whole new set of skills. Wow, who’d have thought writing would be so technical. There should be a degree on how to get self published! It would not involve hanging about in the restaurant, avoiding lectures and seminars and eating beans and hash browns as was the case with my law degree. You know it was (@heather5mith) 😀

 

9th November 2012 & 41 days to go!

Still had a headache but I checked in with my thermometer and it confirmed that I was indeed NOT ill…but probably just convincing myself I was because I’ve bitten off much more than I can chew. As if I don’t have enough to do, today I have decided that I shall create a blog diary in the style of Bridge Jones to document the preparation and launch of The Puppet Master. I will be substituting alcohol for tea, and fags for Cadbury chocolate fingers. Also men will probably not be fighting over me outside an Italian restaurant but, you know, you get the idea. It will be like Bridget Jones but without all the fun! Keep tuning in! You know you really want to now! I will also NOT be wearing massive pants, which I hear is a disappointment to some 😀

 

I am backdating this (as you can probably tell) but I’m pretty sure I did some book stuff on this day in question. Oh, yes, I did. I remember now. I sent off a shed load of really cheeky emails. Only one has come back to me so far (and they have passed my cheeky email on to someone else) but fingers crossed for some ultimate cheeky success.

 

8th November 2012 & 42 days to go!

Yes the proverbial spanner in the works. I had a headache that made anything, other than telling everyone on Facebook and Twitter that I had a headache, virtually impossible. Of course the virtual community rallied around and offered me the cyber equivalent of chicken soup and Nurofen. Thank you lovely guys 🙂

 

7th November 2012 & 43 days to go!

I checked my Amazon bookshelf and realised that I had suddenly become an international bestseller since lunch…and also a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitle bit of a liar 😀 I can confirm that Denmark, France, Spain, Italy and now Japan do not really need to appear on my Amazon bookshelf because they still haven’t bought my book. Opening up every day to be shown just how many books they aren’t buying is a little bit depressing! I’m kidding of course, it’s lovely to have you on my bookshelf Denmark, France, Spain, Italy and now Japan 😀

 

6th November 2012 & 44 days to go

OK today the venue was finally confirmed after much panicking from me. Mr S-C, the kids and I went along over the weekend to check it out and it was absolutely perrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrfect! Mr S-C said “go for it” and then I was left with the job of going for it, which sounds easier than it actually is. I was left alone for the day with my bullying mind that flitted between telling me I was rubbish and nobody would come, singing ‘Ohhhhhh noooooooo, what have you done?!’ and attempting to steal my lunch money! It eventually left me no choice but to harass my good friend, Suzanne Porter, and ask for her advice. After a lengthy inbox message, that basically went along the lines of “Just do it!” I just did it and so The Deco Theatre, Abington Square, Northampton, is now booked for the 19th December 2012 from 7.30 onwards. It is an open event and so please spread the word and come if you can. Here is a link http://www.thedeco.co.uk/  Just pretend it’s a Twilight Breaking Dawn premiere sort of thing and feel free to camp outside. I could always get Mr S-C to dress up as Robert Pattinson (AKA Edward Cullen) and I’ll run about trying to get him to kill me because I love him, my mum’s away and my dad likes fishing and arresting people. See this is why no agent would accept my synopsis…I make things sound bad!

 

Pre 6th November 2012

Stuff happened to include the birth of a book. I didn’t log anything along the way but I can confirm it was the second book in the Poker Face series. It stood at 110,000 words, approximately 20,000 words longer than the first book. We considered Finlay or Jacob for a boy and we quite liked Rosie or Tilly for a girl but, eventually, I named it The Puppet Master! Weighing in at over 400 grams it was heavier than the first and I can confirm it was painful at times and the labour quite intensive. However, as soon as I saw my book and held it in my hands I knew it was all worth it and I’d definitely do it again. I am aiming for a big, happy book family. Yay for The Puppet Master, another book has been born!!!

 

Blog Post…Ohhh I’ve lost count! The number doesn’t matter. The fact that I’m having a chat with author, Alan Shaw, does though!

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007

Dear all,

This here is an introduction to Alan Shaw, author of   Project Overkill.  I have had the pleasure of reading Alan’s work and I can say I was completely hooked and, at times, properly freaked out too. On one occasion I was sure I saw a fly stumble across my breakfast bar (yes ‘stumble’) before disappearing into my USB port! It was late and the obvious conclusion to draw was that my computer had been possessed! Thanks, Alan!           

So, here are the questions I put to Alan, in an attempt to discover a little more about the man behind the thrillers…and because I have a sneaky suspicion you’ll be seeing a lot more of him around here. Here is a little pic so you recognise him 🙂

 

 

 So,  Alan, Can you tell us a little bit about yourself please and all the places we can find you socially (Don’t worry we won’t all turn up at your local :-D)

I’m an ex many things: accountant, civil servant, infanteer, Regimental Paymaster, Communications Manager, trainer, and PR type. Don’t worry I won’t go on.  Socially you can find me on Twitter  @Billypike  and FB at http://on.fb.me/OndS4S   I’m also on Goodreads, but still blundering about there so won’t bother you with the link.

I tend to hang on to friendships and regularly have boozy sessions with people I first knew in the 70s [I’m 102 by the way]. I’m also loyal, and manage to avoid most of the Seven Deadly Sins, at least on Sundays. I also used to love doing magic tricks and once won a competition at Butlin’s. My piece de resistance was making a silver coloured ball float.

 

Wow! How did you get from floating beach balls to writing? (If I had glasses I’d be pushing them up my nose right now and looking all News Night-ish)

I think I’ve always liked words; rumour has it I was reading at four. I also remember I liked going through the dictionary. Later on I enjoyed doing essays and I guess it kind of grew from that. I tried doing a novella in the 70s but gave it up as my job was intensive and I was studying for a law exam. And it remained like that, with very busy careers, until I chucked ‘em to write. I do envy those who produce novels while still working full time: they are made of stronger stuff than me.

 

Well I envy people who can float silver coloured balls, Alan!  What is it about writing that has you hooked? (I’m tapping my pen thoughtfully…and nodding. Might lean back in my seat and narrow my gaze a bit)

Hmm. I love assembling situations that fit the plot and deliver the best reader experience I can. I see a novel as an enormous jigsaw puzzle with very few straight edges. Also, I like researching the plot and use a blend of Britannica, Wikipedia, and reference books.

 

I totally get the jigsaw analogy, that’s spot on. So, how often do you write? (This incorporates my interrogation technique this question.  I got it from none other than Jeremy Paxman! ) Are you particular about when and where you get creative or can the writing mood strike anywhere, anytime? Where were you yesterday at approximately 4.35pm and, more importantly, do you accept responsibility?

Lol, I love easy single strand questions!

Not nearly often enough time.  Part of that is due to still settling into this Victorian house and dealing with the myriad of things that are planned or just crop up. Another is time on social networking; we all have that of course and deep down enjoy it – for example I’m enjoying this interview believe it or not. Another is everyday life; I’m sociable and enjoy conversation while I watch others fall asleep…

Creatively I get all my best ideas away from the desk. For example I was recently stuck on producing a credible escape scenario. I walked into town that day along the river and looked as always at the buildings along the opposite bank. Suddenly, based on what I saw, the scenario came. Another time, writing Overkill, the solution came while I was sitting on a park bench watching a fountain.  And the main plot of Overkill came while I was waiting for a train.

At 16:35 yesterday I was chopping wood. It was entirely my own fault.

 

Guilty as charged! Ha ha and, just so you know, I would NEVER fall asleep while you were talking! 😀 I’m listening, loud and clear, and wondering what you’re working on at the moment? (Just the plot, characters, title, manuscript – in windows 7 – would be great for my personal plagiarising purposes please.)

I think your questions are excellent and your comments in parenthesis have me lmao.

I haven’t shared plot details with anyone except my editor / agent and I haven’t told him much. I’m also not very good at this but here goes:

In the mid-10th century Bishop – formerly Archbishop – Dunstan dies. There is a legend that he triumphed in an encounter with the devil at an earlier time of his life. As a reward he received a secret.

London in the 19th century is a cesspool within a diamond.   Commerce rules and the poor go to the wall. During the autumn of 1888 a killer stalks Whitechapel. He becomes known as Jack the Ripper. He murders six women. The final victim, Mary Jean Kelly, is reported at the inquest to have been seen hours after her corpse has been examined by the police surgeon. No-one can explain this.

Two world wars occur. Between them certain events in Wales add a fresh dimension to an old mystery.

Shrewsbury 2011. A Christmas party offers clues to a series of events that will be known as The Shrewsbury Murders. Messages left by the killer suggest he is Jack the Ripper.

Part 2 of the Mike Ambrose trilogy begins.

 

Awesome! I’m so off to tell your editor/agent that I got plot info! Go me!  Are you a big reader, Alan, and what kind of thing usually takes your fancy? (My most normal question thereby illustrating that I am a good all rounder on the interviewing front. I can do normal, see!)

I used to be but now that I write I read far less than before. One reason is time but the main one is that I do not want to be influenced to go in directions that are not my own. Preferred writers are James Elroy, John le Carre΄, Ian Fleming, and CP Snow.

 

I can so relate to that.

Do you judge a book by its cover? (Now I’m being clever) 😀

No. I can be attracted by the cover but I judge by content. Covers are very important though because they form part of the reader experience.

 

Totally!

Do you have any mega writing plans for 2013? (Please note that although this is a closed question, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ just won’t do! :-D)

Oui!

 

Ugh! Clever!

Are there any tips that you have found ‘writing wise’ that have helped you tremendously and that you might like to share with some of us other writer types? (Beware I will, from this day forward, claim all credit for the following tips, Alan :-D)

Do as much research as you can. It’s easier to hang clothes if you have a wardrobe. [Blimey, that sounds far too profound for me…]

 

I write in the hopes that one day I will be able to afford a wardrobe and something smart to hang in it 😀 

Finally, would you like to write a blog post here on a more regular basis, Alan? (Please say yes) And, if so, when can you start and what kind of exciting things are we in for???

Yes. My pleasure. I’d like to describe the course of writing The Shrewsbury Murders. Maybe once a week. Possibly other bits and pieces too. Does that sound OK?

 

That sounds fabarooney to me! I can’t wait for you to get started and thanks for sharing this here blog with me! Thanks also for being such a great sport, Alan, and answering some questions. It’s always great to chat to you! 

You too, and thank you Jess. I’m looking forward big time to PF2. And I wish I possessed your capacity for self expression and wit. You are definitely a bit of a Dorothy Parker.

 

Why, I’m flattered, and I don’t mind being a little bit like her at all! The good thing about my not being serious is that when you fall down a flight of stairs at a formal Christmas dinner for lawyers and barristers (I did this) and successfully manage to land right next to your chair, nobody is surprised! Better still; the most you get is a sideways glance, a hand, and another non-alcoholic drink!

 

Please do check out Alan Shaw’s current work on Amazon:-

 

 

And remember to keep an eye out here for how the next installment of thrilling story telling is progressing.

 

Thanks from both of us, guys! As always, your comments and likes are very welcome, appreciated and supportive like you wouldn’t believe!

 

Jess 🙂 x

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