So, here's the thing! It's been a while. What can I say? I've been busy - you know - writing 'n all. I wrote and published a novella. Yeah, that's it on the right. It's set in Manchester - hey, that's where I'm from, so I thought I'd go back to my roots and create a new hero - Josiah Dark.
Also, I started writing Quigg 6 'The Enigma of Apocalypse Heights'. Now, this is where it gets complicated because I made that into a novella and called it Quigg 7. Why? I hear you ask. Well, it started to meander into the realms of fantasy, but all is not lost. Quigg 6 is now 'The Haunting of Bleeding Heart Yard' (see below), and I've added Quigg 7 to the end of Quigg 6 as a bonus novella.
Hey, I know! Call me Santa's little helper! There's a problem though! Here we go, I hear you say. No, listen! Quigg 6 won't be ready until the first week of the New Year - call it a belated Christmas present.
It'll be worth it though. It had better be, I hear you say. Trust me. Quigg aficionados will be suitably impressed that Quigg's back in the groove - so to speak.
Now, what's the festive season without four dogs? I know, call me an old softie! Here's their toy box - don't ask! And there's one of the four - Coco trying to find just the right one! The week before, another dog - Daisy, wasn't eating and showing other symptoms of not being well, so we took her down the vets. We had to leave her there to have her uterus removed (she's ten years old) because it had become infected. You'll be pleased to hear that she's fine now, and back at home with us for Christmas.
It's a real place, you know! I went up to London a couple of weeks ago to take a look - there's not much to it though. A few cobbles, a restaurant, some offices and a couple of cars. It does have a history and you can read about it here! and that was the trigger for the book.
You know Quigg! He likes to get himself and his partner - Tallie Kline - into the worst situations possible, and this book is no different!
As an aside, I wrote a preface! I know, you're wondering who would want me to write them a preface? Matt Posner - that's who. He's written a few books about magic, vampires and the like - especially a series called School of Ages.
But I didn't write a preface for any of them - oh no! I wrote it for How To Write Dialogue because I think we can agree - or maybe we can't - that my dialogue isn't too shoddy.
So, there we are! Have a fantabulous Christmas and a New Year full of love and joy . . . and hey - be careful out there (for those who remember Hill Street Blues).
So, here's the thing! Its been ages since my last blog, so I thought I'd cobble something together today. What's been happening? I'm glad you asked my that, Toady. Not a lot really. I suppose everybody goes on holiday round about now before the school summer break begins, and all the holiday resorts are overrun with unmanageable screaming kids and parents get drunk in the bar! Well, enough about my family!
I did do something though! Well, apart from publishing The Breath of Life (which is currently No.1 in Police Procedurals and No.55 in the Top 100 BTW, Toady!) and getting a 20,000-word foothold in Parish & Richards 7 The Dead Know Not (which is due out in mid-August), I wrote a Foreword - say what? Well look, some people write non-fiction books, you know. This one is called How To Write Dialogue and its being thrown together by Matt Posner - Of course you know him, Toady. He's that American fella who sings, dances, and plays some percussion instruments with The Exploration Project. A teacher of some renown. Well, a crazy teacher I suppose, if he teaches in America! Anyway, he's also written some books - magic books to be precise. No, not about how to do magic, Toady. Well, maybe there's some hints in the books, but... All right, maybe I wasn't being that precise. Look, do you want to hear this, or not? Sometimes you can be a real pain in the... I wasn't going to say any naughty words.
I did something else as well! Yes, I'm going to tell you what. I tried to join one of the top writer's associations. I say, "tried" because they wouldn't let me in. Don't smile like that, Toady. It wasn't because I come from the wrong side of the tracks - does that actually mean anything anymore? It wasn't because I'm a bit overweight and fart at the drop of a hat - all right, a lot overweight - you drive a hard bargain, Toady - seriously obsese then! It wasn't because I didn't know the secret handshake... Yes, all right, I'll tell you. Readers like a bit of suspense, mystery, and... It was because I was self-published!!
I know, that's as bad as someone using two exclamation marks!! So, I wrote to them, said I'd written a lot of novels, sold a quarter of a million books (well nearly), and my latest attempt at writing was in the Top 100, but they said, "Rules is rules"!! You have to have been published through a publishing company, have a contract, be paying most of your earnings to publishing people - that's just the way it is!! I said, you're rules are bit outdated. There are self-published people out there who have sold a million books!! I could hear them shrugging their shoulders and the key turning in the lock. Some doors are still closed to self-published authors!!
So, here's the thing! And before I start rambling on about the thing and other stuff, let me tell you about my new book - The Breath of Life (Parish & Richards 6) - hot off the 'puter and published today for your pleasure! Hey, no thanks necessary, that's what I'm here for after all init!
"Dialogue, that's what I wanted to talk to you muffins about..."
"Muffins? Is that an English expression for intelligent people?"
"Yes, Toady. So, what do I know about dialogue? Well, not a lot really, so this will be a very short blog. I know the usual rubbish the people who do know about dialogue tell you, like: (1) Make it sound like the music of everyday speech; (2) Cut out the boring parts - nobody wants to read ums, ers, arhs, and other grunts and snorts you make when you're talking, Toady."
"Is your name Toady?"
"It might be."
"Might be, my arse. Should we continue?"
"(3) Don't use dialogue for info dumps - long speeches are boring, and believe me Toady, I - like most of your readers - have a miniscule boredom threshold; (4) Break up dialogue with action and vicky-verky - and I should tell you here that long paragraphs of description are boring; (5) Try not to use a multitude of synonyms for "said" as dialogue tags - interweave, or should that be intertwine, or maybe entwine, interlace...!!! - Anyway, jumble up your action and your dialogue. It doesn't go dialogue, action, dialogue, more dialogue, some action, etc., ad infinitum... Refer back to (1) - the music of everyday speech, which includes action - people aren't statues with moving mouths - they scratch their arses, pick their noses, and generally annoy other people; (6) Avoid stereotypes like the plague, use slang and profanity sparingly - it ain't necessary."
"I think I got everything, boss."
"So, that's it really, Toady! Well, I did say it would be short. I could mention punctuation... Yeah, you gotta punctuate dialogue correctly, or it looks like a bag of worms on a night out. Also, somebody once said, "Make sure there's lots of white space!" I live by that. Readers like white space, it's easy to read! Do I need to explain that?"
"No, I don't think so, boss." Toady shuffles from one foot to the other, and won't look me in the eyes.
"You don't think so?" My lip curls up. "That fills me with a whole bucketful of confidence."
"What about reading your dialogue aloud?"
"Some do, but I can hear it in my head." I shake my head and my eyes roll from side to side like the reels in a slot machine.
"Some people say, "Put your book away for a year, and then look at it again." What do you think about that?"
I get ready to make a strange noise with my mouth. "Do you really want to know what I think about that, Toady?"
"A wise decision."
"Do you want to say anything about adverbs?"
I laugh heartily, then say crisply and with gusto, "It's best to use body language to convey meaning. Look, you're not writing dialogue to fill up the page. If it's not developing character, or dealing with a plot point, or relating to something important to the story - what's it there for?"
"Is that it?"
"My final point, and then I'm done. Vary the speech styles of your characters - we live in a multicultural world and we ain't be all talking da same is we?"
"You're a genius, boss."
"Coming from you, Toady, that means nothing."
So, here's the thing! "The writing and structure by the author is different from what I usually read so in the beginning I did struggle trying to understand the banter but I got to grips with it." That's a quote from a 5* review. I mention it because of the beginning: "The writing and structure... is different from what I usually read!" Which begs the question, "What does he/she normally read?" Earlier in the review they mention "...so much dialogue and banter going on...' Ah! Maybe that's what lies at the heart of "Writing and Structure"!
It's true, you read most books and the dialogue is tight, focused on the storyline only. In effect, there's no banter. Yeah, I have a lot of banter in my books. I believe that dialogue/banter helps to develop character, it reveals motivation, it obviously contributes to the plot/storylines (and for those who take a keen interest - I have a number of underlying storylines/subtexts going on in my banter), it can reveal backstory, and it helps with pacing and variety. Have you ever picked up a book, flicked through the pages, and seen very little dialogue, but lots of narrative blocks. Personally, I don't bother with those types of books - they're hard work. I've actually read some books where a paragraph goes on for two or more pages! Phew, I hate those books!
Now look, some people have complained that I know nothing about police procedure, and I guess those are the people who know nothing about police procedure! Let's get something straight - the police procedure in my books is what I say it is. I could stick slavishly to correct real-life police procedure, get my characters to fill in forms for hours, and I could have a whole task force with a myriad of people investigating the serial killer murders I invent, but I'm not trying to imitate real-life. I don't know if you've noticed, but real-life is damned boring. If you want real-life, read 'True Crime' books - I do, that's where I get some of my ideas from.
Many people like my books. They like the intricate plots, the complex characters, the humour and banter between the characters, the suspense, and many other things, so I think I'll just carry on carrying on if that's all right with you, Toady? I like to make things up if you hadn't noticed. Some things in my books are based on facts, i.e. there are people, places, and things happen to those people in those places - what more do you want? As Simon Cowell said: "You can't please all the people, all of the time!"
Hey, but listen. There's two events coming up soon. First off around 1st June, The Killing Sands will be published. WHAT! You've never heard of The Killing Sands! Gawd, where you bin since you were knee-high to a cockroach? The Killing Sands is an anthology, a collection of stories if you will, and your's truly is included in this magnus opus with As You Sow, So Shall You Reap. Who else is in there? Well, we got Dani Amore, Traci Hohenstein, Lawrence Kelter, Rebecca Stroud, Gary Ponzo and Rick Murcer. Yep, it's gonna be a blockbuster all right!
Second, around 20th June, The Breath of Life will be published. This will be Number 6 in the Parish & Richards series, and I do believe it will be my best. And hey! There are gonna be some answers in there, Kowalski done got a new partner - ain't that the truth, and unexpected people are gonna die! Oh, I can hardly wait.
Also, as I write, two books are in the Top 100 - can't say fairer than that can I? Thank you readers - most kind. The Twelve Murders of Christmas (Quigg 1) is No.53 and The Skulls Beneath Eternity Wharf (Quigg 4) is No.72! And I haven't even mentioned The Terror at Grisly Park (Quigg 5) coming out in August or October.
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.