Sep 022014

fridayAfter adding the finishing touches last weekend, Annie Appleton’s website is now ready!

Please have a look at As first blog post, Annie has written a review of a fun book she recently read, Louisiana Longshot.

While at Annie’s site, don’t forget to sign up for her New Release Mailing List, to be the first to hear when her new books come out!

I am very curious to hear what you think of Annie’s new site.


Related post: Introducing Annie

Aug 292014

interviewIn my previous post, I announced among other things that I’m going to publish my new cosy mystery series under the penname Annie Appleton. Time now to introduce her.
First though, I would like to quickly give my reasons for wanting to have a penname in the first place.

It’s not uncommon for an Indie writer to publish different series, in different genres, under different pennames. This is mostly done to avoid confusing the reader, specially when the genres are miles apart, like ‘romance’ and ‘epic fantasy’. Not that epic fantasies can’t have a bit of romance thrown in (they often do), but in their purest forms these are wildly different genres.
I don’t know if the same goes for non-fiction and fiction, perhaps not, but I did like the idea, to separate my fiction and non-fiction books by using a penname.

I don’t have a lovely English sounding name. I do have a lovely name, but it is not remotely English and in my opinion, cosy mysteries should be written by people with lovely English names.
Although Americans and Australians might be used to the ‘foreign-sounding’ names of their countrymen, the British, in my own personal experience, have more problems with it. They specifically seem to have problems with the ‘double A’, which seems to be completely alien to them. In the four years that I spent living in the British Isles, I never met a native person who could write down my surname correctly without me having to spell it out for them, and even then, they would often still misspell it.
As my cosy mystery series is placed in England, it is possible that I will have more ‘English’ readers, so to accommodate them, Annie was born.

My third reason is that writing fiction instead of non-fiction, is a new beginning for me. Something totally different and I’m learning a new trade as I go along.
Writing under a penname requires starting from scratch with the marketing and everything else as well. So it seemed logical to start afresh with a new penname.

So there you have it. My reasons for creating Annie Appleton. Now to the introducing part.

WebThe fact is though that Annie is me, and I am Annie. It’s not supposed to be a secret that Annie Appleton is the same person who wrote those intriguing books about architecture and containership travel.
First impressions do count however (see the second point above), so when readers are less spooked by a ‘weird’ name, all the better. If they then later discover that the cosy mystery they fell in love with was written by a woman with a ‘double A’ in her surname, they should be fine with it. At least, that’s the theory…

How will I put all this into practice? Let me tell you a funny thing about the internet. Everyone wants their website to be first in the Google search results. One way of achieving this is to add regular new content to your site. The handiest way to do this is by writing a blog post.
I have this website on which I jabber on about fiction writing and the more technical stuff that is involved with it. So what can Annie write about? After some thought I have decided that I will let her write the occasional review of the mystery books she reads. Both myself and Annie are avid readers of the mystery genre (including cosies), so it’s going to be Annie’s task to tell the world about what she thinks about what she reads.
In addition, Annie will keep her readers updated on everything that has to do with the content of the cosy mysteries she is writing herself.

The Annie Appleton website is almost ready for its launch, so keep your eyes peeled for Annie’s first blog post!

Related post: Starting from Scratch


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Aug 142014

ShirleyHolmesIt has been a while since my last post and a lot of things have happened since then, mostly to do with the writing of my fiction series.

In May I had finished writing the first two novellas in the series, which had the combined word count of 70,000 words. Both books went through the ‘beta reading stage’ and in June were on the brink of being send to my editor.
Something was wrong, though. Even though the beta readers were mostly positive, I felt that both books could be much better. The plot, the characters, it felt like everything was only 80% there.

After some soul-searching during my holiday, I came to the conclusion that the books simply weren’t at the publishing stage yet. Then a brainstorming session with my developmental editor Eva, confirmed what I deep down already knew. I wanted to start from scratch. Change the concept, find the right genre to write in and rewrite both books.

This might sound crazy, specially keeping in mind I had already written 70,000 words, but my decision felt right. I want to publish the best possible product and simply have to be patient and wait until I am there. No use publishing a book that is only 80% right.

The facts are now as follows:

  • My series will now be a cosy mystery series, revolving around two main characters, Jacob Hicks (neighbourhood warden and amateur sleuth) and Paddy the Rat (keen observer of human behaviour).
  • It might well be that the length of the books turn out more than novella length, although I have no idea about that yet.
  • I want to publish the first three books close together somewhere next year, most likely the autumn.
  • I have also decided that the series will be published under my penname ‘Annie Appleton’, about which more in another post.

I have a good feeling about the changes, even though it means that my readers will have to wait longer for a new book to come out. I hope they will find it worth waiting for!

Go to Jacob Hick Mysteries for more info about the new series.


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Dec 212013

houseThe above seems like an obvious statement, but as a non-fiction writer who now tries her hand at fiction, it has taken me an awful lot of time to realise it.
How hard can it be to write a fiction story? You just invent something and write it down. Well, it didn’t work like that for me.

After writing two books about architecture and two travelogues, I wanted to write more books. Having had some weird things happening to me while I lived in England, I decided that a series of shorter books, novellas, based on my time in York, was the way to go. However, I didn’t want the books to be travelogues, like before, but fictional stories.

I came up with the story of rats invading the back garden of my main character Emily, much like my own back garden had been invaded by them. I wanted it to be more over the top, though, so I invented parts of story. To me that felt like real fiction.
My beta-readers disagreed. They liked the idea, but felt something was missing. And so did I actually, when I looked at it from a reader’s point of view. So, I added a fictional neighbour with who Emily gets into a fight about the rats. I added action and still more over the top story lines and the rats became main characters in their own right.

All this was a huge step forward, but to me it still didn’t feel right. I was now six months further down the line and it had dawned on me that the series, instead of being about Emily, was more about her neighbourhood, with different people taking on the role of main character in the different books.
And like creating backstories for my main characters to make them real, I also had to create that neighbourhood. However much I could vividly remember myself living in that neighbourhood, it wasn’t the same place! Maybe it looked like it, but it was fictional, not real and I could make it any way I wanted.

That penny finally dropped yesterday. Now I have the task to invent a neighbourhood that feels real, but isn’t. I have to forget about where I lived before and just make it up! And that is a lot of fun. Like my fellow author Des Birch said on Facebook the other day, ‘What unique pleasures we authors invent for ourselves’.

It might feel like I wasted a lot of time over the past seven months, but it is now clear to me that it was a process I needed to work through to come up with the best result. I am sure that with what I learned, I can write the next books much faster and better.


Related blog post: Making My Characters Real

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Dec 152013

woman confusedI had a revelation a couple of days ago. I’m still not sure if it was the result of some clever reasoning of my sub-conscience, or because of all the bottles of cough syrup that I drank this week. Having an ongoing cold is never much fun…

In any case, I now realise that I have been a bumbling fool writing my new book.
‘What?’ I hear you say. ‘You have written five books, so you should know what you are doing by now!’
Indeed, I should. However, the fact is that for the first time in my life I have forayed into the realm of fiction, where before I stuck to non-fiction. And let me tell you, those are two very different puppies.

When I first started writing the new book, I very much treated it as I did all my non-fiction projects. Think up a story, divide that into chapters, write the chapters, book finished. This resulted in the new book being an interesting, but flat story without much depth. Although my beta-readers said they liked it, bless them, they also all indicated that ‘something was missing’.

Little did I know that fiction writers sometimes spend months creating a world and the characters that populate it. They give their characters back-stories that never even make it into the book, just to achieve a sense of reality. Just a few weeks ago on the Indie Writers Unite Facebook group, someone asked what attracted us to a character in a book. Most of the answers were that the fictional beings had to ‘be real’.

I realised that the characters in my book were not real enough. They talked to each other and had adventures, but they were not real. I needed to fix this.
Googling the words ‘character development’ I soon found pages and pages of ‘questions to ask your character’. Finding one questionnaire that seemed to fit the best, I copied it into a word document and started answering the questions as one of my characters. The results were surprising. Just by giving the characters a childhood and back-story, their actions in my book started to make sense.

As I said, I was a bumbling fool. Probably still am, but I am looking forward to finishing the questionnaires for all my main characters. It’s a lot of work, but it is worth to see them come alive.


Curious to find out which questions I asked my characters? Have a look at the Questionnaire.

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