Back to work!



No – not a pic of my office, but I have spent a lot of time over the weekend either working on the garden, or blitzing some of the rooms in my house in a fit of spring cleaning.  Mr Ray-Anne is quite shocked. There is now a stack of items to be sold on E-Bay or donated.

What have I been reading over the last week? Thrillers.

Tami Hoag – ‘Prior Bad Acts’ – the third book in a series of police procedurals with the same characters, Robert Ellis ‘City of Fire’ and David Baldacci– ‘The Whole Truth.

And OF COURSE I read these book first for pleasure, and then for story craft.



LOVED the Tami Hoag and Robert Ellis. Am already re-reading the Tami Hoag. I know these characters from her brilliant first books in the series ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and ‘Dust to Dust.’ Robert Ellis is a new author for me, and the sequel is already on my TBR pile.

Page turning, engrossing and enjoyable with great characters you can care about.  And, most importantly, these authors created:

* a female lead character who you could sympathise with AND empathise with – a human being. For Tami Hoag she was a judge, and for Robery Ellis, a police detective. Family, friends, lovers, all there. Funny, witty, compassionate, tragic. Horrific in parts.

* a ‘character web’ which was tight and focused. Each person identifiable and unique. Human and likeable. NOT a cast of dozens. Making the books accessible and easy to follow.

* a very clever plot structure – clear driving goals and objectives which are essential in a Police Procedureal novel – and which gave the reader a  lot of satisfaction when the bad guys were brought to justice. And no, I did not know who had done the deed until a lot further into the books then normal. [The crime was VERY gruesome in the Tami Hoag by the way if you are of a nervous disposition.]

Now, I know how hard it is to create a thriller plot instead of a police plot where the hero follows clues to reach the goal – it is SO tough, but  I struggled with the David Baldacci, who I normally love, so decided to use his book as a learning experience.

WHAT IS THE STORY QUESTION? That one driving energy which makes you read on? In a murder investigation story Iwant to know if our hero is going to find the killer and make the world/us/me safer and do it in an enjoyable way. I realised that there were simply too many storylines in this book without one single driving strand which I cared about very much.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE HERO FAILS? The serial killer would get away with his crime and go on killing. I am half way through this book now, and I know that David the author wants me to worry about – and I am still struggling as a reader.

WHY SHOULD I invest my time with these characters? Oh, this is tough and I am going to be harsh and hard headed now, but sorry David, there was not ONE likeable and believeable character who I actually wanted to spend time with. They were cyphers. Not people. All the action and location work did not help.

Hopefully I can put these points to good use in my own thriller. I already know that, as usual, I have FAR too many characters and subplots, even for a ‘big’ single title.

Back to romance – I bow to Donna Alward for the link to the fact that ABC has a great feature piece on Harlequin success in the recession – including an interview with Donna Hayes and I loved the readings from actors etc.

130 million books a year with 1200 new titles. The World’s largest publisher of Women’s fiction.

I’ll have me some of that.

 In the meantime, I am still recovering from a 10 mile walk on Monday in the lovely sunshine – and have the blisters to prove it!

Happy writing. 990794_so_happy_2