The Dead Wife a Lake District Romantic Suspense from Sue Fortin

Ooh, it’s publication day for me today! THE DEAD WIFE is out in ebook, with paperback to follow in September. I’m really excited and was thinking recently about why I enjoyed writing this book so much and whilst I can’t put my finger on any one thing in particular, I did come up with a few reasons.

  • Setting – many years ago me and my husband went on a touring holiday of the Lake District on a motorbike. It was a great week despite it raining quite a bit as I remember. However, this didn’t dampen our spirits and we were both stunned by the beautiful scenery. Writing about my fictitious lake, Conmere, brought back lots of happy memories.
  • Genre – I like to read and write both contemporary romance and suspense/thrillers and over the past six years of being published have gone from contemporary romance to romantic suspense to suspense to thrillers and now I find myself back at the romantic suspense. It is my favourite genre to read and write and although The Dead Wife didn’t initially set out to be a romantic suspense, it did very quickly develop into one.
  • Theme – My books, whatever the genre, all seem to have the theme of family. It hasn’t been a conscious decision but the dynamics of families, the relationships between generations and siblings have always fascinated me. Coming from a big family and having my own children and now grandchildren, it’s very much an integral part of who I am, so I suppose it’s natural to find family and family relationships at the heart of my books.

So, with it being publication day, I’ll leave you with an excerpt of what to expect from THE DEAD WIFE. This particular part is taken from where Harry Sinclair returns back to the family home for the reopening of Conmere Resort Centre and is greeted by his older brother Dominic and their mother Pru.

Thank God you’re here. Mum was just about to send out a search party.’ Harry’s older brother, Dominic, rose from the armchair he was occupying and greeted his brother with a handshake and slap on the back.

‘He’s exaggerating. Take no notice,’ said Pru. ‘Now, I’ll make us all a coffee. Are you hungry? I can make a sandwich or get something sent through from the cafe.’

‘Coffee will do fine, thanks, Mum. I stopped on the way for something to eat,’ said Harry over the noise of the dogs, who were building themselves up into a frenzy of whining and yapping.

‘Oh, the girls are so pleased to see you,’ laughed Pru as she headed out of the room.

Harry exchanged a look with his brother. A sadistic smile spread across Dominic’s face. He looked down at the dogs and gave a swift kick to one of them, catching her bottom. The dog yelped. ‘Now clear off,’ said Dominic, holding his arm outstretched. He hustled the dogs out through the patio doors. ‘Jesus, they get on my nerves. They must be the most pampered pooches in the county.’

‘I forgot what a compassionate soul you were,’ said Harry. ‘You’d better not let Mum see you do that.’

Dominic gave a shrug. ‘Anyway, I’m glad you’re here,’ he said, walking over to the drinks tray on the walnut sideboard. ‘I wasn’t sure if we’d actually see you.’

‘Really? Why’s that?’ Harry settled himself in the wing-backed armchair by the fireplace, a favourite spot of his late father’s. Max Sinclair had always sat in that seat and woe betide anyone who had dared occupy it. Harry rested his hands on the arms and mentally gave his father a two-fingered salute. He hoped the old bastard could see him now and thathe was turning in his grave.

Dominic paused with a bottle of gin in his hand and turned to give his brother a reproachful look. ‘You really need me to spell it out? How many times have you been back to the estate since Elizabeth’s accident?’

‘I’ve been busy in France,’ said Harry, noting the uneasy roll his stomach gave.

Dominic made a scoffing noise as he returned to mixing himself a G&T. He gestured with the bottle to Harry, who shook his head. Dominic sat down on the sofa with his drink. ‘I’ll tell you how many times…three. Christmas two years ago and twice for Mum’s birthday.’

‘I’m a dutiful son,’ said Harry. ‘Like I said, I’ve been busy. Anyway, I’m here now for the grand reopening. What’s the problem?’

Harry knew what the problem was but acting ignorant somehow gave him an excuse, if only to himself. Of course, everyone knew what the real reason was for his absence but for the most part they skirted around it. Dominic, however, appeared to want to buck the trend. Harry eyed his older brother as he rested his forearms on his knees, his hands clasped around the crystal-cut tumbler.

‘Mum misses you,’ began Dominic. ‘She worries about you.’

‘She doesn’t need to,’ said Harry. ‘I’m a grown man in my thirties; I don’t need my mother clucking round me. In fact, I don’t need anyone worrying about me.’

‘Bit of a selfish attitude,’ said Dominic, swigging the G&T down.

‘She worries unnecessarily. It’s suffocating. Why do you think I moved to France?’

Dominic sat back in his seat. ‘OK, I’ll level with you.’ He gave a furtive glance towards the door. ‘This is strictly between us.’ He took a deep breath and Harry knew he wasn’t going to like what he was about to hear. He steeled himself as his brother continued.

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Power to Your Pen : Make Writing Your Business

Catherine and Sue are heading up a one day workshop in September where they will share their methods, strategies, experiences and tips for turning writing into a full-time job. Details as below and feel free to contact either Sue or Catherine for further details.

 

Life Cycle of a Writer – The Battle and The Spoils

Life Cycle of a Writer – Sue Fortin

Well, it’s been something of a struggle the last couple of months on the writing front. I’ve been working on my structural edits for my next book, The Birthday Girl, which involved cutting out 40k words – very nearly half the book. I had taken a gamble on part of the plot where I introduced a police enquiry and to be blunt, it didn’t pay off. I couldn’t quite capture what I was trying to achieve. At several points, I wasn’t sure cutting so much out was doing the right thing and my confidence took something of a dip. I began to question my wisdom with the big changes I had made but, at the same time, knew not making those changes would produce a book that no-one would be happy with.

I did at one point wish I hadn’t started writing the book at all and that I could shove it in the bottom drawer and never look at it again. However, in reality, that wasn’t an option. I had to work out how I could rewrite it so it was more me and more the sort of book I like to write and read.

I had lots of support from my publishers, editor, agent and not least my family, who have all been very patient and understanding. I worked out how I could bring the focus back onto my main characters and with a certain amount of uncertainty I rewrote 40k words, the outcome being 94k words which I was much happier with. It felt like my book when I sent it back to my editor.

At this point, I’m still waiting for her feedback so I have my fingers crossed that she will like what I’ve done. I think there will be some more work needed on it before we move onto the next round of edits but nothing on the scale of the first round.

There have been lots of brighter moments, of course, not least seeing the Hungarian covers of Sister Sister and The Girl Who Lied and foreign rights for both books selling in six countries. Penguin Germany made an offer and wanted a response by midday, which happened to be the day I was out and about and hadn’t checked my emails. My agent had to text me and tell me to look at my emails – urgently!

I also saw a ‘shelfie’ of Sister Sister in Target stores in America. I knew it was going into the stores but actually seeing a picture made it seem real. So, thank you to the lovely book blogger who took the time to tag me on Instagram for that. Again, through Instagram, I was tagged in a post from a book club based in Houston who read my book and had a great discussion about sisters and families. It’s wonderful when you hear things like that and it’s the biggest thrill I get from writing.

I’m heading off to Italy next week with my lovely Romaniac pals, Laura and Catherine, for a writing retreat headed up by Sue Moorcroft at Arte Umbria. It was my intention to get the first draft of my next book completed but with the way things have gone with the edits, it’s not a realistic ambition but I’m hoping to get a good chunk of it written anyway. I’m very much looking forward to spending time with other writers, which always has a positive impact on my own output. The prosecco and location, well, I’ll have to suffer those for my art!

Sue

x

Life Cycle of a Writer – Sue Fortin

I was just looking back at when I did my last update for Life Cycle of a Writer and can’t believe it was as far back as the end of November where I talked about feedback and had some great input from Sue Moorcroft and Louise Jensen, you can see the post here.

In that post I had recently gone through the editing process for my latest novel Sister Sister and now, by pure coincidence, I am going through the editing stage with my next book – currently untitled and no set release date yet.

In between these two editing stages, I’ve been pretty much occupied with writing my current wip. I must admit, I struggled for several weeks to settle on an idea. I had hoped it would just sort of come to me or that I would find inspiration in my folder marked ‘Book Ideas’. Sadly, this wasn’t to be, all the so-called book ideas either didn’t have enough story or no story whatsoever. I kept telling myself not to panic, that something was bound to occur to me but as the days and weeks rolled by, I started to question my wisdom. In the end I had to sit down and force myself to come up with at least one good idea.

I started by writing down themes I would like to explore and relationships that interested me. Then I wrote down some situations or circumstances that would put these ideas to the test, where there would be conflict and resolution needed. It took some time, but eventually I began to get the inkling of an idea. It wasn’t a clear idea and then took a few more weeks to develop into anything meaningful. By this time, I was up against the clock for my March deadline.

Towards the end of last year, myself and three other Romaniacs, Laura, Catherine and Lucie had planned a writing retreat weekend and this fell at the right time for me. It was the impetus I needed to kick-start some serious writing and to immerse myself in my story for three days without interruption. It was a lovely luxury and I benefitted hugely from it and went on to complete the first draft in just two months. I must admit, it was hard going with this one. Some books seem to flow and other books need rather more coaxing – this one was definitely a high maintenance one, but I got there in the end.

So now I’m about half-way through my structural edits, with several more rounds to go. Once the final proofed edits have been returned to my publisher, it will be back to plotting another novel, which hopefully will be more straight forward as I seem to have ignited my imagination again and already have three new ideas for books roughly plotted out.

Sue

x

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Five Years

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Five Years.

Since losing my mum, 21st March 2012, not a day has passed when I’ve not thought about her. Often it’s wondering what she would have said or thought about a particular incident, a program, a snippet of news, our children’s achievements, problems, disagreements, how she would have handled a sticky situation, what advice she’d have offered, what she’d have found funny …

I’ve written before about navigating March, so today I thought I’d share some of the events that have happened in the last five years – every single one of them came with a ‘I wonder what Mum would have made of this’ moment.

The first was meeting Jodi Picoult. It was a week on from losing Mum, but I wanted to go. My mum had introduced me to Jodi Picoult’s books and I was a huge fan. I have met her three times in the last five years, each occasion an inspiration.

Sue Fortin, Jodi Picoult & me 2016 The 3rd meeting

Shortly after, I found out I was the runner up in Choc Lit’s short story competition. My mum knew I’d entered, she’d even read and critiqued my story, Bitter Sweet, and if I recall rightly, we’d heard it had been shortlisted. It would have been wonderful to have told her about the second place, but I remember how pleased she was with the shortlisting.

Telling Tales was the runner-up in the next Choc Lit short story competition, and I received a tweet of congratulations from the lovely Erica James. Honestly, I don’t know which I was more excited about. I do recall I was with Catherine Miller at the time, though. I think we may have been heading to the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference. Do you remember, Catherine?

As well as meeting Jodi Picoult, I’ve also met Jill Mansell, Sheila O’Flanagan and Erica James. All are warm, intelligent and entertaining women. All were authors my mother read and enjoyed and whose books she introduced me to, and all are firm favourites of mine, and massive inspirations.

I have made many great friends within the writing community, the first few of whom my mum was aware – names with which she would have become familiar had she still been with us. She knew how much writing fulfilled me and how I felt I’d finally found my place in life.

I’ve written three novels. I used to say to Mum I would one day ‘write that novel’. She used to tell me to hurry up and get on with it, which still makes me smile. It’s good advice. I feel extremely privileged and very lucky that she read Truth Or Dare?. It wasn’t the first draft, but neither was it polished. It came with colourful language and hot scenes as appropriate, but I didn’t worry too much about those aspects – my mum read widely and didn’t embarrass easily. Her thoughts on the novel were honest, fair and she gave lots of encouragement, but without gushing. Had she not liked the story or the characters, or considered their actions fake or daft, she’d have said. I was writing Follow Me Follow You when we lost her, but I’d told her the plot and how I was exploring attachment disorder and PTSD. She knew all about Chris Frampton. This became my first paperback. Mum would have loved that.

What Doesn’t Kill You was released as a paperback in January of this year, and I attended my second book signing at Waterstones, Dorchester. What would Mum have made of that?

As a family, we’ve caught and run with a number of health curve balls, one being of the major variety, which I’m pleased to report appears to be under control. I’ve had joints replaced and joints removed; on top of my long term rheumatoid arthritis and colitis, I picked up a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which I’m still learning to manage, and there has been a knee dislocation, (not mine) torn knee ligaments, (separate incident, different family member) and perforated eardrums (not mine and nothing to do with my singing). I’m convinced the hospital will start charging the James family rent.

Four years ago, we shared a healing three weeks away in Orlando. It was our first family holiday and it was exactly what we needed. Going to Disneyworld was a dream come true. Later the same year, I took a trip to Italy, on the Arte Umbria writing course and came home feeling nurtured and rested, with a way forward as to how to finish writing Follow Me Follow You, which had stalled in March 2012. I sat on the beautiful terrace at Arte Umbria and thought how much my mum would have loved to have been there. We’d talked of going to Italy together.

She’d have smiled at my news I’d shaken Paloma Faith’s hand, and that I’d seen Kate Bush sing live in London, and she’d have given me excellent advice regarding … well, all sorts of stuff, including a reminder that some things are best kept private. And she’d have made sure I keep on keeping on.

So, five years on, with the love and support of family and friends, that’s what I’m doing.

It’s head down and on with the work-in-progress. Life.

Take care.

Laura xx

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer: Paperback Writer.

Paperback Writer

wdky-book-signing-event-tw

What a busy, fun and exciting week this is. Yesterday, we Romaniacs celebrated our 5th birthday and cheered Sue’s fantastic thriller, Sister Sister, as it hit the top 5 on Kindle, today is Valentine’s Day, and Saturday, I’ll be at Waterstones Dorchester signing copies of What Doesn’t Kill You.

img_8935I was at Waterstones Dorchester on Valentine’s Day two years ago, signing copies of my second novel, Follow Me Follow You. It was such a lovely day. The table was perfectly decorated with red love hearts, books were wrapped in paper and bows, enticing customers to go on a blind date with their next read, and I spent the time chatting with people about books and authors.img_8939

I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s event. To have a paperback is special, even more so with What Doesn’t Kill You, as the front cover sports an author quote from my good friend and fellow Romaniac, Sue Fortin. Neither of us could predict that happening when we first met five years ago. There is also a depiction of a well-loved landmark on the front – Portland Bill lighthouse.lighthouse-cover-3There will be copies of the book available for purchase on Saturday, and I will have one of my trusty Pentel pens in hand, but which colour should I use?

pens-pentel-rainbow

Do I go with blues and greens to complement the cover? Or should I stick with traditional black ink? I might just have to take my pencil case and decide on the day. What would you do?

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I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday. Dorchester is a fascinating Roman town, and it has literary links, too – Hardy referred to Dorchester as Casterbridge – so please do come and spend the day, and pop into the wonderfully supportive Waterstones.

I’m going to leave you with this classic Beatles hit 😀 https://youtu.be/xmVwo2DxkGg

Have a great week.

Laura x