About jmralley

Persecuting Abi is my debut novel and I'm thrilled with the reviews so far. When not at my day job, I split my free time between writing, crafting and caring for my rabbits.

The Virus part 1

DAY ONE.

At first we were threatened by SARS, followed by swine flu, Bird flu, Australian flu, and a forgotten case of rabbit flu. But they were wrong.

Next, came climate change. Earthquakes, hurricanes, storms. But we survived all the world through at us. Humans were the mighty and we’d not be taken down.

As time continued we grew lax. So lax we failed to spot the real threat. And now we are dropping like flies. Feet stuck in the air as we buzz around on our backs. Wings useless as we fail to take back our airspace. Humiliating, to say the least.

They told us not too worry. After all, we’d laugh in the face of another flu bug.

However, our laughter became drowned out by the virus chuckling louder. The pitch increasing with every death the bug claimed.

Our numbers dwindled by the hour. The hospitals filled. School halls lost the sound of children running to classes. Football stadiums and other sports hall stood bare.

They told us to wash our hands. To sing happy birthday twice. We did. Food supplies were fought over. Why? No one comprehended the true reason.

All muttered the same thing. ‘Get over it. It’s just the flu.’

Then disaster struck. No one noticed until one young man went shopping. One item on his list. Returning home he hung his head as his wife screamed and shouted. ‘One thing! I asked for one thing!’

The same item caused couples to split. And one marriage ended in divorce. Throughout history…The plague, The Fire of London, The Spanish Inquisition …did not one thing cause so much trouble.

But in the year 2020, the outlook appeared bleak. Corvid 19 managed the one thing no other virus managed.

Yes, our lives were over. How could we continue to live? We sat depressed as we stared at the walls while stuck in quarantine. All feared to visit one particular room.

Some considered suicide as an option.

One room became more terrifying than the virus wiping us out. All over one item not being available.

You see. The shelves in every supermarket were empty.

There wasn’t a loo roll in sight.

Show verses Tell

This can be the bain of a new writer’s life. Show verses tell. What is it? How does it affect our writing?

Let’s examine this more closely. A book which tells the reader everything can be to the point and doesn’t leave the reader with much to imagine. The telling can slow down the pace, making the plot slow and boring in some cases.

A book which shows gives the reader a reason to continue reading. They can imagine every scene and relive it in their head. The plot and characters become real to them, to the degree they fall in love with them.

So, how does this work, I hear you ask. Easy, think about everything you are writing. I’ve read lots of books where the character mumbles, mutters, shouts, gets frustrated, angry, happy – great, they need too. However, these words are redundant in writing. Yes, on occasion I use them but as a beat and not a dialogue tag. The way you write should bring these emotions out.

Examples – I can do loads if you want.

Happiness. Okay, every character at some point is happy. Below is two version of describing a happy person.

  1. “Oh, my god, I love it.” As Sarah glanced at the ring her happiness shone around her.
  2. “Oh, my god, I love it.” The ring glistened in the morning light. As Sarah’s chest filled with a heat, her eyes danced as she held out her left hand which tingled as he slipped the ring in place.

Now, the dialogue indicates shes happy at what just happened. Therefore the beat in number 1 isn’t required. Instead, number 2 shows us how she’s feeling. You can see in your mind how happy she is as he proposes. It’s like you are there in person witnessing the event.

But what if she said no?

  1. “But I can’t marry you.” The ring should have made her happy. Instead, Sarah shook her head as she let the sadness in.
  2. “But I can’t marry you.” The words were forced out as Sarah’s throat constricted. Turning her back on him, she crossed her arms, slumped her shoulders, and lowered her head.

Again, number 2 gives you an image in your mind. You can almost feel her heartbreak and are left wondering why she said no.

Now, showing isn’t hard. No, it’s not – don’t argue back. There’s an easy way to figure out the emotional response you want. Yes, it is. Stop arguing back and I’ll tell you. All you need to do is put yourself in your characters shoes – yes, they fit, and imagine how you’d feel.

Which brings us to another fact. A rather important one. If you feel nothing when you write, your readers will have the same response. It’s a well known fact that adding your own emotions makes the book. So, those funeral scenes, death scenes – I always cry when I write them. Weddings, engagements – I feel the joy. When I add any funny moments – I have to laugh. If I don’t, they go. And it’s not just once. Every time I read the manuscript through, those emotions return. The last paragraph in my Fareious three book is a happy ending. I’ve read it several times and every time my eyes water. I won’t say why. But this is the exact response you want from your readers.

If an author doesn’t feel this when writing it does show in the book. I’ve read a lot of books by new and well-known authors. I find both types which have that missing oomph. And the ones that aren’t up to scratch? Are the ones who tell. I have no image to go with what’s happening. Nothing to give me those emotional responses. The characters do nothing to make me love them.

Right, now go and do some writing. But remember. Show not tell, is one of the best things you can do. And if you want exercises to do – I’m happy to send you a few. Just contact me. In fact, I might do a few more blogs on the different types of emotions. Any interest?

Sexy and Rude Location Names

Do you want that perfect place name? The one place you just couldn’t make up?

Today I’m going to have a bit of fun and locate a few for you. It’s amazing how may there are. These are U.K. only places. I’ll cover other countries later.

Boggy Bottom is located in Hertfordshire and in 2015 came third in a poll of rude names.

Cornwall boasts the hamlet of Cocks. Admit it. If that was your address, could you keep a straight face if you told anyone?

Fanny hands lane, Lincolnshire. In 2018 this lane was listed 4th in a list of rude road names.

Oxfordshire proudly boasts a place my the name of Golden Balls. Come on, you me. You’d love to have a set.

Great Cockup and Little Cockup, are hills in the Lake District. Boys, which one will I find you up? And if you say little, our friendship might be over.

Norwich has a Hooker Road. That’s one I’m never moving to.

Meryside has a Slag Lane. I don’t think I want to know how that one came into being.

Scotland isn’t getting away with it, either. Aberdeenshire has Brokenwind. Dick court in Lanarkshire. East Breast, Inverclyde – I’m not asking what happened to the west one.

Wales has a few too. Bullyhole Bottom in Monmouthshire. Tarts Hill, Flintshire. And not forgetting Three Cocks, Breconshire.

What type of Romance to Write

Part 3 –

Erotic

A lot of readers place erotic and porn in the same class. It’s not.

Erotic books contain sex, yes of course they do. Won’t be erotic otherwise but they have a plot and story-line. Strong characters bring everything together. Porn only deals with the act itself. No one cares about the plot or the characters. They only look for one thing.

So, where to begin? Like any other story start with the plot or characters. I write dark romance, so my latest book maintains that but contains a BDSM element. (Fareious trilogy). However, you can write in any sub-genre. Then cover the sexual part. Do you want to go soft or hard – go with whatever you are happy with writing. Believe me, it’ll show if you aren’t comfy writing it and can make any great story poor.

Oh, and sex positions. Make sure they are possible. Nothing worse than reading a book and trying to figure out how they did it. Readers like their genre and erotic readers will know. And bye, bye readers.

Now, those sex scenes. Don’t be repetitive. Make them steamy and above all else, don’t head-hop. Stay with one POV. Readers will put the book away and not pick anymore of your’s up. Remember sex is different for everyone. In normal romances the sex can be steamy, but you want erotic. So, it needs to be much, much more steamy.

And also, it’s not all about love with erotica. It can just be about the raw sex. A couple who doesn’t want love, just to enjoy each others bodies. Now, it could turn to love, nothing to stop that happening but build up the tension. If it’s pure raw sex on one page, don’t make the next scene love. Add some grip to your story. Does the female want love but the man doesn’t? Are one of them being blackmailed to control the other? Oh, there are lots of ways this could go. Think outside of the box and surprise those readers.

Back to the characters. Develop them well. Make your readers love them and beg for them to get together. Don’t just get them in bed and then end the story. Readers like to feel part of the book. My Scottish stories are romance but not erotic but my readers have said they want to jump into the book, save the heroine and punch the baddie. That should be standard in any book.

The end. Now, it’s still a romance. Your readers want that happy ending. If you don’t give it, give a reason. Does the man being blackmailed decide he’s had enough and gets killed while saving his woman? Does the woman vanish in a cliffhanger ending – make sure you make it clear there’s a book two. Do they finally decide they really do love each other?

Now go and plot out your idea. Make it strong, believable and you might just get a best seller.

Pinterest

I’m going to let you know how I got that amount of unique visits, and no adverts.

I opened my Pinterest account years ago. It was a personal one and I rarely used it. Then earlier this year I upgraded to a business account. Again, I ignored it.

The last few months that has changed. I changed my boards. I keep the ones of my interests and set up ones for my books. One for each series. Added quotes and pictures of things which inspired me when writing the novels.

Then I added more boards. I write dark romance, so I added a wedding and special events board. As I’m branching into paranormal, I added a supernatural board. This is where I add the potential pictures which might influence me when I begin certain books. If they do, they’ll be moved to the accompanying board.

You see, it’s not just about what you are writing at the time. Any other author knows, ideas pop into your head at any point. We write them down, but words aren’t enough. Pictures help. So, I add to to the spare boards. Then, I can look back and go, yeah, that’s what I wanted.

Here’s an example. I have a novel planned where my female main character will be involved in a photo-shoot. I’m not giving out anymore details but the photos that I’m thinking off, are in the appropriate board. When I start that book, I’ll have the ideas waiting for me to refresh my memory.

Simple. Right?

But remember that boards just on your books and ideas will get boring. I do crafts, so there is a board to cover that. I enjoy reading and have a board of all the books I’ve read and given 5 stars to. I read too many to post them all – just go to my Goodreads page to see the rest. I enjoy walking and wildlife – add in a wildlife and landscape board. I love, keep and breed rabbits – guess what – there’s a board. Anyone who visits my area, will learn a lot about me and I add in my own photo’s too.

I now get several pins saved everyday. My followers might not change too much, but my monthly figures are shooting up. 4k in one day. And not a penny spent.

Just remember to post new pins on a regular basis. Static boards get boring. I’m trying to post a few every day – but some days just don’t happen. Yes, it’s more work, writing the book is the easy bit, marketing and getting your brand out there is just plan awful. Lucky for me, I know a man who can help, but even then it’s still down to you to make the effort. Even paying someone, you need to do some work yourself. It’s your book. No one knows it as well as you.

So, now go out there and build your brand. Not your book.

Now, if only I can manage Facebook as well. Twitter is going better. But remember – no spamming book links. That will get your followers unfollowing. Interaction is the key.

And if you want to look me up – here I am.

What Type of Romance to write

Part Two

Wedding, Couple, Love, Wedding Couple

Contemporary Romance

This might be one of the more natural romances to write. The setting is in the modern-day. No thinking of having to world build, or get any historical facts right. If you set the story in an area you know, then you’ll be on roll.

Your characters will be people that you might come across in real life. Research can come just by you sitting and watching the world go by. The way people interact and talk. Cary that notepad with you at all times. The number of times I’ve picked up things at railways stations or bus stops is unbelievable.

Plot – again the modern-day makes it easy. Read the newspapers and watch the news. If celebrities are proposing – how are they doing it? Have you been invited to weddings recently? Same-sex marriages are no legal, so no need for any gays to hid in the dark. They can now show their feelings. Social media makes it easier for people to stay in touch, arrange things. Make the most of it. When I’m at events, my phone isn’t being used to check Facebook. No, I’m making notes.

The end – Now, these type of books always have an happy ending. Make a hash of that, and bye-bye readers.

One quick mention of the dreaded sex scenes. Contemporary romances can have all the sex you want. But most are clean or have less detailed scenes. Too many and you head in the erotic area. Don’t overdo them. One decent scene will be enough.

What type of romance to write.

Part One

Fantasy, Lake, House, Dance, Water, Sun

So, you want to write a romance, but what type are you interested in? I’m doing this in several parts as there are many types to cover.

Fantasy and Paranormal

I’ve added these two together as they can be closely related. They tend to have some sort of fancy element. This can be anything from vampires and shifters to angels and witches. Unicorns, stories based around fairy-tales or myths. It’s an endless supply.

These types of books can be set in the modern world, historical or even on a different plant. Whatever you decide you must world-build before even considering writing anything. You want the world to be believable. I’m planning two paranormal series which I hope to begin writing next year. At the moment, I’m world-building. I’m getting the main details sorted well in advance. If you don’t, you’ll not have a reference point to refer back too. Remember those readers? They’ll be spotting any problems.

Next, consider your characters. Clothes must match the mood. If they have powers, what are they? Weak points too. No one is perfect.

The layout of the ground. Social interaction – it all needs to be covered. The types of technology, the history the of place. Hierarchy. It’s your world do what you want but pass the info onto your readers. If to confusing they’ll close the book. Intrigue them. But, don’t overload them in one big go. Spread it out and bring the info in as needed.

Explain the species you have imagined. The flora and fauna. Give your readers an idea of the world but hold back and let their own imagination take hold. What do your characters want? Is there a back story? If you add a war, mention how it started. Why? Are your main characters the good guys from the start or will they grow into the role? It all needs to be covered.

And if you are still unsure – go and read a few romance fantasies. Learn how other authors branch into the subject. It’s a big area, one you need to know inside out.