Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Wish You Were (Not) Here - free for two days

For two days only you can download FREE Wish You Were (Not) Here (Pentalpha Publishing Edinburgh), a collection of short stories with death (or thoughts of committing murder) featuring in most of them.

As with Bad Moon Rising, the cover has been crafted by the very talented JD Smith Designs.

Get the collection FREE while you can – offer closes midnight tomorrow.


Friday, 25 May 2012

Ghost in the Machine - Review

Ghost in the Machine by Ed James is a well thought out and well conceived police procedural. The fact that we see events unfold through the eyes of one of the lowest cogs in the policing wheel makes for a refreshing change.

Scott Cullen, just a lowly DC, has many things to worry about, not least of which is his career path. But his desire for promotion doesn’t stop him from following his hunches, even when told categorically not to do so by his very annoying boss, DI Bain.

Of all the characters in this novel, only Bain felt a touch unreal. I felt his constant carping comments, although probably okay in moderation, were overdone. In these days of PC policing, I wasn’t convinced Bain would get away with his attitude and insults. This feeling did interfere with my enjoyment from time to time. I would strongly advise the author to tone it down slightly for the next in the series.

The use of settings to evoke both location and atmosphere is very well done. I felt as if I was right there with Scott as he moved from place to place.

Without giving away too much of the plot, it’s safe to tell you that a missing person case quickly turns into a hunt for a serial killer. There aren’t that many twists and turns, but finding out who the guilty party might be isn’t at all straightforward. The killer’s identity only becomes obvious quite late in the novel.

There is a nice use of social media to tie the victims and suspects together and we get to see how such sites work from both user and provider points of view. I’m pleased to say the technology wasn’t overpowering, as is sometimes the case when an author knows more than the reader. James used just enough techie info to make us part of the investigation but stopped well short of showing off.

There are a few minor editing issues – some words missing, others repeated. Punctuation awry in places. A bit of repetition. Nothing that a good editor wouldn’t have fixed in a jiffy. This, and my feeling that Bain wasn’t quite as credible as the rest of the cast, is all that troubled me with the book.

If there had been a four and a half star option on Amazon and Goodreads, that’s what I’d have given. I’d definitely read another one in the series.



Thursday, 24 May 2012

There's a killer in my head

When my husband finished reading the final draft of Bad Moon Rising and told me he was appalled – couldn’t believe what I’d written – I knew I was on to a winner. What he disliked (too mild a word, but it will have to do) was the fact that I had identified so completely with my serial killer. He (the husband, not the killer) was profoundly disturbed by the sections written from the killer’s point of view and couldn’t quite come to terms with the thought of this monster being created in his beloved wife’s head.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I hadn’t created the character, he’d been in my subconscious, hiding behind other characters, and simply pushed his way to the forefront of my mind when I needed him.

Murderers, rapists, torturers and others, even more unpleasant, are all there, waiting their turn to come to life on the page. They are not all content to wait, though. I can be in a supermarket checkout queue, doing the mundane stuff, like unloading the trolley and one of them will have sliced someone’s body with a razor by the time I’ve finished packing the goods into bags.

Anyway, I don’t know why my husband was so horrified about the maniac in Bad Moon Rising – he’s been reading my short stories for years and they all have a dead, nearly dead, or soon to be dead victim in them. He once commented that he feared I was planning his murder and using my short fiction to work on the perfect crime. I reassured him that as long as I was writing it, he had nothing to worry about. Just because part of my mind is focussed on evil deeds doesn’t mean I actually want to carry them out – well, I don’t as long as he doesn’t upset me too much.

And this is where the non-writer doesn’t understand the workings of a writer’s mind. We have all these people living in our heads, all clamouring to be heard. It’s a kind of madness, I suppose. A creative multiple personality disorder. If our characters are going to work on the page they have to be real – to us and to our readers.

I had to get under the skin of my killer and allow him to get under mine. I had to let him come to life with a past, present and future. I didn’t want him to be one-dimensional. My aim was to have the readers feel ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. It wasn’t easy, but I was determined to make my audience feel at least a tiny bit sorry for him. And it’s because I succeeded that my husband was disturbed. He didn’t like the way he was made to feel while reading. He wanted to put the killer into the ‘bad man’ box and shut the lid, but he couldn’t, because my character deserved pity as well as condemnation.

One of the reviewers commented: I finished ‘Bad Moon Rising’ feeling as though I had just eaten a good meal – satisfied, and just a little guilty. The guilt came, in part, from the degree of empathy the author had managed to invoke for the killer. (Full review:

The publisher wants to see the second novel in the Paolo Storey series. My husband was relieved at first when I told him there wasn’t a serial killer in the next book. But then I explained the crime that drives the storyline in book two. At that point he suggested I might be sick and needed to go into therapy. But he’s wrong. I’ll deal with the voices in my head in my own way. Writing is all the therapy I need.

Bad Moon Rising is published by Crooked {Cat} Publishing.

The above article first appeared as a guest post on Dark Central Station

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Rock God Needs Name

I need a stage name for my character
How inventive can you be? Can you come up with an outlandish, but credible, name for an aging rock star desperate to make a big comeback?

The character features in the next DI Paolo Storey novel, Someday Never Comes and I’ve set up a free to enter fun competition calling for suggested stage names.

The authors of the two names I place in second and third spots will receive a free entry into the Flash 500 Competition. The person whose name I eventually use for my character will receive an acknowledgement in the credits and a free double entry into the Flash 500 Competition. The prizes in the Flash 500 Competition are £300, £100 and £50, so well worth having a go at. 

So, what do you need to know about my man? 
Firstly, the guy was the lead singer of a massively successful rock band in the late eighties/early nineties until his drug use brought about the group’s downfall. He now feels he has his drug situation under control and wants a second taste of fame, but the other members aren’t interested in regrouping – so X is going it alone using the name he was known by back when the group was topping the charts on a regular basis.

Secondly, he is stinking rich. Royalties from the group’s hits still bring him megabucks. He’s not after more money, just the adulation of the fans. 

How to enter 
Simply click here, or on the Facebook button on the left, and ‘like’ the Frances di Plino Facebook Page. Then between now and 15th June enter your suggestion for the character’s name either here in the comments box below, or on the Facebook Page. Only those who have ‘liked’ the page are eligible. That’s it – no purchase necessary (but if you felt like buying Bad Moon Rising I wouldn’t try to stop you).

You can enter as many times as you want - the only limit is your imagination.

The winners will be announced both here and on the Frances di Plino Facebook Page and the prizes can be used to enter the summer Flash 500 competition which runs from 1st July to 30th September.

The list
I've already had some great suggestions over at the page. I'll collate those with any made in the comments and list them here to help kick start your imaginations.

Dirk Wild
Bobby Stagger
Sylvain deScrace
Ace Manotoba
Ricky Wildfire
Charlton Cordite 
Vesper Jones

The Wall
Spyder Tansing 
Mr Metal
Kurt Mistral
The One
Ventura Knight
Sly Leatherman
Myron Lecroy
Sylvester Bread
Sky Corbin
Andy Moses
Freddy Wendell
Gilbert Sweetleaf
Jethro Wildcat
Gunnar Tate Reed
Lorrie and Masonettes
Todd Poacher
Gideon Phaeton
Protonic Graveman
Jasper Motormouth
Vivian Heavyfeathers
Earl Maniceagle
Viking Vinnie
Randybandy Bowman
Mad Dog Mike
Almondo Davis
Jondo Gold
Rick Crash
Blaze Fire
Jimmy Cyclone
Chad Malone
Rick RocknRoll
Nick Sensation
Mike Radke
Brandon Ryder
Ryder Corbin
Hunter Espinoza
Zak Babcock
Johnny Urban
Skinny Joe
Chad Decker
Maxx Payne
Still Kane

Friday, 11 May 2012

Crooked Cat titles - half price weekend

Crooked Cat Publishing’s grand sale on all titles means that Bad Moon Rising is half price until midnight on Sunday.

Why not call in at the Crooked Cat and see what other great books can be yours this weekend for half the normal retail price? It's a trip worth taking.