Category Archives: A Writer’s Diary

Page One, Line One

This week I made a start on a new Sam Smith novel, Smoke and Mirrors, book nine in the series. This book has a dramatic start and the plot is more labyrinth than some of the earlier novels. When you write a series you want to add variety around the familiarity of the central characters, which is why I try to change the locations occasionally and the tone of the stories, while remaining true to the original concept.

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My routine usually consists of writing a chapter a day and editing the previous day’s chapter. Therefore, each day represents a complete chapter. Another round of editing and proofreading take place before the book is ready, but I try to alter as little as possible for the simple reason that these are Sam’s stories, she is the narrator and the words represent her actions and thoughts.

Sam’s World

Exciting times in Sam’s world. At the moment I am editing Sins of the Father for publication later this summer, storyboarding Smoke and Mirrors and preparing to record Ripper as an audio book, with Suzan Lynn Lorraine providing the narration. I am also promoting Family Honour and the audio book version of The Big Chill. Exciting, and busy times!

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Sins of the Father will focus on Sam’s relationship with her father, a man she met for the first time when she was thirty-three years old. This book will define their relationship, dealing with events from the past and hurdles to climb in the present. Will these hurdles bring Sam and her father closer together, or force them further apart? That question provides the essence for the story.

Smoke and Mirrors will have a dramatic start – Sam finds a body in her office. As she investigates the mysterious death of this stranger, she also delves deeper into her assistant, Faye’s, background in an effort to learn the truth about Faye’s childhood trauma. As with Sins of the Father, this is a relationship story and Sam’s discoveries impact on her friendship with Faye, placing both at a crossroads.

More book news soon and, as ever, thanks for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Top Fifty Reflections

A surreal weekend. As I write these words, Sam’s Song is in the top fifty of Amazon’s book chart, at number five in the private detective chart. Although authors dream of these heights, I never pictured myself there; it all seems very bizarre.

And the path to this position has been a fraught one too, with rejections along the way from readers and people in the book industry. Especially from people in the book industry. To be honest, there is an element of satisfaction in proving these people wrong. That’s a natural reaction and nothing to be ashamed of. But the greater satisfaction comes from rewarding the people who have backed me and continue to back me with their advice and support. And I must mention my readers of course, the people who have taken the time and trouble to read my books and leave wonderful reviews. With all the above, you know who you are, and if you slot into the supporter or reader category, I can’t thank you enough. All authors are different, we all write for different reasons. For me, the greatest reward comes from the knowledge that there are people out there who enjoy reading my books. That thought produces a fantastic feeling, so once again many thanks to my readers.

What next? Is it possible to reach even greater heights? Maybe. The path to this point has been a zig-zag one to say the least, and maybe that will be true in the future as well. But, for the moment, I see a straight line, a clear direction. And after years of struggle that is a relief. And a closing word for fellow authors: if I can reach the top fifty, you can too; all it takes is determination, belief in yourself and, a key ingredient, luck.

A great weekend. Many thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Hannah xxx

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A Writer’s Diary #2

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The editing of Family Honour is underway. I love every aspect of writing apart from the self-promotional aspects and the editing. I have experimented with various methods of editing and almost all lead to aggravation. I think this is because I write in a stream of consciousness style, basically my narrator, Sam, does the writing. Then I come along and try to impose my ideas in the editing and my narrator objects. That might sound strange, but it is true. I write very fast and edit very slow. I would guess that 95% of my manuscripts, if not more, remain as written. Yet that extra 5% of polishing the words can be so vexatious. Maybe writing offers freedom of expression while editing brings the realisation that your words have to make sense. I believe Raymond Chandler said, ‘I write better when I write fast’. And I agree with him. I have also discovered that I edit better when I edit fast and, for me, this is the best method. Fast or slow, the manuscript usually turns out the same.

I am also storyboarding Sins of the Father. Storyboarding is fun because you are getting to know your characters and because you are allowed to make mistakes. I love it when the characters take control of the story and develop it for themselves. When the characters are in control of a chapter I know that it is working well. And when the characters are in control there is no such thing as writers’ block. On the rare occasions I feel stuck, I question the character and the character always comes back with an answer.

Meanwhile, the recording of The Big Chill, the third Sam Smith audio book will start shortly. More news of that next time.

Happy Writing,

Hannah xxx

A Writer’s Diary #1

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The writing of Family Honour, book seven in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, is complete. Over the next two weeks I hope to edit the manuscript and prepare it for the proofreader. Then the book should be on sale in May as an eBook and in June in print. An audio book should follow somewhere down the line.

Meanwhile, I have been storyboarding Sins of the Father, book eight. I storyboard all the stories in detail and find that helps greatly with the writing. I am halfway through the storyboard with firm ideas for the second half. I create character profiles before the storyboarding and the ideas flow from them.

As with all writers, getting readers to believe in you is the hardest part. It seems that readers are only attracted to hyped books these days. Personally, I dislike that aspect of the business and try to avoid it, in my reading and writing. I am fortunate in that I have a core following who have loyally read my books from book one. These readers mean a lot to me and if any of you are reading this then please accept my sincere thanks for your support.