The Kind Worth Killing – Review

Peter Swanson’s second novel is about Ted Severson, a successful businessman who meets the mysterious and straight-talking Lily Kintner in a bar at Heathrow Airport. Over drinks they bond, him revealing his unhappy marriage and how he suspects his wife, Miranda, is cheating on him. Soon the mood turns dark, as Ted confesses to thoughts of killing Miranda, and Lily offers to help plot the murder.

Compared by readers and critics to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, The Kind Worth Killing certainly sits well within that genre. Though the body count is higher and foot is heavier on the gas in terms of pace.

The Kind Worth Killing is highly addictive and I devoured it within days. Split into three parts, with short chapters and told from alternating narratives, the story is easy to read. Swanson gradually introduces each character, painting a picture depicting their history and psychological profiles. This gave the whole story a rich feel and a depth that consumes you as a reader. This worked particularly well with Lily who is an interesting protagonist. Her moral compass is guided by her primal instincts of self-protection and preservation. As readers, we delve into events that occurred during her unsettled, bohemian childhood. The justifications for her actions will either make you admire or fear her. I was caught up somewhere in the unnerving middle which is, I imagine, exactly where Swanson wants you.

With themes of deception and murder, The Kind Worth Killing has plot twists aplenty. Just when you shake one twist off, another is thrown at you. Which is precisely how I like my thrillers.

The writing is gentle and considered which works well with the heavy subject matter. At times, the plot is far fetched, and a little unbelievable. Then again, with stories like this you have to suspend all belief and go with it. Especially when you’re having so much fun.

While not a literary classic, The Kind Worth Killing is a riveting, energetic and entertaining read. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good thriller. The Kind Worth Killing is without a doubt, The Kind Worth Reading.

Is It Time to Put Night Writing to Bed?

Recently I have been thinking about what motivates writers and how old habits can dictate your writing routine. At some point we were all that young writer, scribbling away in bed with nothing but a torch, Biro pen and a notebook.

Over the past couple of weeks my writing efforts have dwindled to virtually nothing. Feelings of frustration toward my lack of motivation has prompted me to look at whether daily distractions are providing me with excuses not to write or if it’s just old habits. There is always something more important to do such as work, cooking tea, housework, gardening, food shopping, catching up with friends and family. Then when you do manage to steal away a few minutes, a phone call or a knock at the door pulls you out of the ‘zone’ you had struggled to get in, in the first place.

Yet when clock is pushing midnight, all the words stream out onto the page.  There is nothing left to do with the day. The house is silent, the outdoor world is peaceful, the night belongs to you and nobody else. Writing at that time of night puts me into a meditative state and is cathartic release of everything that happened during the day.

The only thing to stopping me is knowing that in less than six hours I have to be up, dressed and ready to go to work. So I crawl back to bed feeling unsatisfied and annoyed that a plot line won’t be written as well at 7pm the next evening.

When I was younger I would write until the early hours and not care that I would be falling asleep during class assembly. The stolen hours were magical and I would (eventually) go to sleep dreaming of new worlds to create in fiction land. I sorely miss those days and I wish it was that easy now, but it isn’t. That’s just part of being a grown up.

Finding time to write is a treat and I wonder if I don’t spend more time writing because I just don’t feel like it’s a priority. It should be a priority. To me, writing defines who I am and the satisfaction of working on a story is unparalleled to anything else. So why don’t I feel motivated? There is no answer to that. We all have peaks and troughs during our periods of writing, set backs and failures. There will always be distractions and something else more important to do.

You just have to keep on going despite the chaos around you.

“Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement” Cory Doctorow

George Orwell’s manuscript for 1984

George Orwell’s manuscript for 1984.

I stumbled across this article from the Fiction Desk which details pages from George Orwell’s manuscript for 1984. Over the past few weeks I have been focusing on the process of editing and redrafting. It can been a tedious and depressing task, going over everything you have written with a very critical eye.

As writers we are the first to criticize our own work and hack it to pieces. When I was about to give up, this reminded me that no first draft of anything is perfect. Far from it.

Becoming a writer is all about that painful first read, it is when you start  bring everything together and turn your story into more than just a good idea. I am sure there are some authors who can produce beautifully polished prose first time round, however for most the process is a lot more complicated.

 

 

 

Earn Money Writing Articles – A Few Tips

For the past couple of months I have been trying to earn some extra money through my writing. Whilst I would love this to be through my short stories, I am still not confident enough to send anything out to publishers.  In the meantime as I still need a few additional pennies to keep the bills at bay, I chose to pursue article writing.

Although I have a background in journalism, becoming an online copywriter was a little tricky. I didn’t know where to start. First I became an approved writer at Demand Studios but found that unless you have specialist knowledge then it will be hard to find assignments. For example if you want to write about buying curtains, you need to be a well established home and garden journalist to pick up the job.

Squidoo is using article writing to create ‘Lenses’ using a free platform. Here you write about a topic you are enthusiastic about and you feel is useful. Income generated from the affiliate ad links and ad revenue.  This is a great way to earn money whilst article writing but it’s a slow burner, don’t expect to see results straight away.

I have found better success with Copify, a copywriting agency with hundreds of copywriters on their books. To become a copywriter you need to apply through their website, which from what I remember was a fairly quick and simple process.  At first you start off as a standard writer, where you have access to pick up ‘standard’ jobs. Most pay about 1-1.5p a word, with jobs ranging from travel articles, blogs and website copy.  When you have completed a job and it has been approved you are paid. The client can leave a rating on your profile out of five stars and may also leave a comment. Once you have worked through a few jobs and received consistent, positive feedback you graduate to become ‘Professional’ writer. I understand at this point you are offered higher paid jobs.

So that is my bit of advice for copywriting online if you need a bit of extra cash in these hard-up times, I hope you’ve found it useful.

How to Write with Speed… Go, Go, Go!

As some of you may know I am currently taking part in June Novel Writing Month in a bid to get the first draft of my novel finished. I used to be a serious edit-as-you go kind of person and it was getting me absolutely no where. I understand this does work for a lot of people but I found it restrictive.

Now I am in full swing again with this new form of speed writing. Still a little bit behind target but I am catching up, I have miraculously managed to write about 15,000 words in the last few days. I never thought that was even possible.

I know what is on paper is complete waffle but just sitting down at the laptop and bashing out a few thousand words each night has become a little ritualistic. Some evenings it is like pulling teeth but the point is if you keep going, something amazing happens and you start to form a story. Like magic.

I urge you all to give it a go. Here are my top tips for starting your first draft and hopefully finishing it (from someone who is still yet to reach the end!)

Plan ahead

Some writers like to plan out the plot meticulously however for me just thinking throughout the day what I will write about in the evening works well too. If you don’t like any form of planning, just sit down and let you mind wander as you type

Do NOT edit

This is crucial. Do not look back on what you have written. Yes the temptation is great but the moment you start going back and editing it is no longer your first draft. You are a writer and you have permission to produce a shitty first draft, make it sparkle during revision phase only.

Give yourself a break

Do not bring yourself down with the ‘this is rubbish’ and ‘No publisher will ever be interested’ talk. Also if you get tired then stop and take a break, don’t be a slave to the word count.

Switch off the phone

I can’t deal with distractions. Sometimes you don’t have a choice and you have to work around them however if you can sort out a quiet place to work then it will help you get in the zone.

Ignore Twitter/Facebook/Blogs

All too tempting to have a peak and see what other people are up to instead of facing a blank page

If faced with a stand-off against a blank page…

…. then walk away, get a drink or a bite to eat, go for a walk, anything. Just don’t sit there. The words are in your head, you just need to lure them out. Another tip if you’re in this predicament is to write garbage or about your day. It limbers up your mind.

 

Fire the Critic and Build a Novel

It has been nearly two weeks since I last posted on here. Last week I was on holiday and my blog is now looking rather neglected. In truth I enjoyed taking a break from writing as I noticed a lull in creativity and everything I wrote felt a bit stale. My brain needed to be recharged so I injected it with a good amount of fiction and over the past week I’ve read three books and just started on my fourth. I’ve been listening to music I haven’t heard in years, went on long coastal walks, drank lots of wine and caught up with my favourite TV shows. Now I’m feeling really inspired, refreshed with ideas and ready to write.

At the moment I am taking part in June Novel Writing Month and pushing to get that elusive first draft completed. In truth I started the novel years ago and it has already been through the mill a bit. Since then the plot has changed completely thanks to losing everything that I had initially written. It was a story I was incredibly proud of so was devastated when I lost all 15,000 words. When I went back to rewriting, I literally lost the plot and all enthusiasm for the story I was trying to tell, convinced that it would never be as good.

So instead of grappling with the beginning and getting nowhere, I jumped to halfway through the story and pleased to report so far so good. From what I’ve gathered so far is that writing a novel is all about knuckling down, making sure you are committed, dedicated and excited about the story you are telling. I haven’t meticulously planned my novel, mainly because I like getting stuck in and allow the ideas to flow and see where the story takes me.

I have chosen not to edit as I go, ignoring that annoying little voice in your head which likes to tear your work to shred before it’s even taken form. To silence the inner critic requires a lot of discipline as the temptation to go back and edit what you have done is just plain hard. However by allowing the writing to take over and abolishing the critical side from the initial creative process has allowed the story to develop into something rather interesting.  Now the novel is slowly, but surely taking form.

I read somewhere that you need to visualize your novel as a sky scraper. You need to get the foundations in first, such as the plot then add structure and reinforce with words. Once the bare bones are up and stable, you can then start making it look pretty.

So this week I will also be taking part in Friday Fictioneers. After gaining some pretty good and honest advice a few weeks ago I am looking forward to putting that to use.

New writing, not fiction – just articles

How to live with panic attacks

So I have decided to give Squidoo a go. If  am honest I don’t really get it yet. Is it a    blog or a place where you can purchase articles? I am not entirely sure. Either way if there is a way of writing and earning a little bit of cash then I am going to give it a go.

My first post is related to panic attacks and how to deal with them. As someone who has unfortunately suffered with them most my life I thought it would be the ideal place to start in regards to writing an article. Now I have heaps of ideas and looking forward to submitting them as ‘lenses’.

If you fancy a look then you can view it here.