A Christmas Message & A #FREE Christmas Treat

It’s coming to the end of the year and hopefully, most of you will soon be breaking off to spend time with your families – as will I!! If you don’t hear from me over the holidays, I’ll probably be knee-deep in wrapping paper and wondering where my next eggnog’s coming from.

2017 has been a busy, busy year but there is much more to come in 2018. Believe me! So for now, all that’s left to say is, enjoy the holidays and here’s hoping a certain someone gets impeached in 2018!! LOL.

A #FREE Christmas Treat From Me to You . . .

CHRISTMAS LOVERS

A scorching hot companion to Tainted Lovers . . .

Adrienne expects her annual work’s Christmas party to be as dull as usual. A six-course meal and cases of champagne, dozens of government people all in the same banquet room, her dashing husband by her side… it all sounds pretty straightforward.

It’s just a pity that someone at the Christmas party recognises her husband and all for the wrong reasons. Will it ruin their private time away from the kids, or reinvigorate their sex life in a new, unexpected way?

This decadent, dark companion novella to Tainted Lovers is pure erotica, proving true passion transcends even the most diabolical of coincidences.

***This novella contains MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS for Tainted Lovers. It is recommended you read the novel first.***

Universal buy link:

http://mybook.to/XmasLovers

Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NCF020B

Amazon UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01NCF020B

For a limited time, the novel this derives from is just 99 pennies to download. See details . . .

tainted lovers (2)

The most beautiful anti-romance you might read all year . . .

Adrienne and David meet in a library and the rest is history. Leaving their past lives behind, they race off to get married and make a promise of undying love. Waiting in the wings, however, are dark and deadly secrets threatening to tear them apart.

Their passion has never been up for question – but is there a limit to what love can overcome? Moreover, what does the future hold for Adrienne after she has her heart crushed, her spirit broken and her resolve disintegrated?

Are all great love stories destined to end badly . . . ?

Suitable for readers 18+ only. Tainted Lovers is a complete standalone novel.

Universal buy link:

http://mybook.to/TaintedLovers

Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BZCLGRW

Amazon UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01BZCLGRW

Happy Christmas from me! xx

99 pence e-books throughout December

Christmas is only days away and so are those Amazon giftcards which will be gracing stockings across the land. To celebrate the festive season and a new year being right upon us, I’ve priced most of my e-Books for 99 pennies for the month of December.

From the thrilling, romantic Sub Rosa Series (Unbind and Unfurl), to the mind-bending scifi series UNITY, to the heartwarming contemporary romance Angel Avenue, there is something to whet the whistle.

Don’t forget, the next instalment in the NIGHTLONG SERIES will be out early next year and the first two books The Contract and The Fix are among those on sale.

Enjoy xx

Visit Sarah on Amazon

Have you picked up your copy yet?

Christmas Lovers, an erotic novella for the festive season . . .

clovers

Blurb:

A scorching hot companion to Tainted Lovers . . .

Adrienne expects her annual work’s Christmas party to be as dull as usual. A six-course meal and cases of champagne, dozens of government people all in the same banquet room, her dashing husband by her side… it all sounds pretty straightforward.

It’s just a pity that someone at the Christmas party recognises her husband and all for the wrong reasons. Will it ruin their private time away from the kids, or reinvigorate their sex life in a new, unexpected way?

This decadent, dark companion novella to Tainted Lovers is pure erotica, proving true passion transcends even the most diabolical of coincidences.

***This novella contains MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS for Tainted Lovers. It is recommended you read the novel first.***

Excerpt:

I’m utterly disgusted and absolutely mortified. At the dinner table finally, we’re only sat opposite the girl who allegedly saw David in a porn movie! When she catches sight of him so close up, she actually begins pouring with sweat and drinking vast amounts of water.

“I want a seat somewhere else,” I demand of my husband.

“Look at the place, we’re packed in as it is. No way are they gonna let us swap seats now, not when allergies have been accounted for and all our menu choices stamped on the backs of the waiter’s heads, otherwise we could have blowfish city on our consciences tonight. I’m told the first course is bouillabaisse and Mika has a fish allergy. He could be hospitalised tonight if we move.”

I groan, and realise I better just deal with it.

Trouble is I don’t even want to flirt with David to make her squirm.

So maybe I’ll just make him squirm instead…

He holds up his hands. “Just gossip I heard at the urinals, that’s all.”

“I told you not to use those but use the cubicles. You always get blokes trying to look, as if they know… like they think they know… and they want to confirm it.”

David strokes a long finger up the length of my arm, from the inside of my wrist to my shoulder.

“There was a queue for the cubicles. It sounded as though Jerry and Jeremy were practising baby making. Look at them…”

I look down the table and realise David’s right! They’ve been screwing in the bathroom before dinner.

“They wouldn’t!”

“An amuse-bouche, perhaps,” my other half suggests.

“Quite frankly, I have never done such a thing before in my life!” I protest, for the benefit of any weak-hearted Christian earwiggers nearby, but when David’s hand squeezes my thigh under the table, I remember that I have – many times, of course.

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Universal link

Discover Tainted Lovers First

tainted lovers (2)

COMING SOON: Christmas Lovers, A Novella

I’ve written a few books this year but one I have had some strong reactions to is Tainted Lovers. It is a difficult read in some respects, maybe even torturous. Some readers called me cruel and even, evil!! I took those comments as compliments. It’s better to get strong reactions than no reaction at all.

Tainted Lovers was painful to write and tells the story of one couple who seem like any other couple to begin with. They fall madly in love and it seems as simple as that. But life has a funny way of working out sometimes…

Women readers who were in abusive relationships in the past wrote to me to say they found Tainted Lovers cathartic and en pointe. Those were probably some of my proudest moments as a writer – to know I had touched people in real life.

So Christmas Lovers is for those people who read Tainted Lovers and forgave me anyway. It’s written to be read after the novel and it is a small companion book of healing and an extended epilogue I guess. Sprinkled with a bit of Christmas magic, it is a book to reassure you that Adrienne is well on the way to full recovery.

I loved and loathed writing Tainted Lovers. I almost didn’t write it but the true artist in me wouldn’t give up on something I had started with the intent to finish. I had to finish writing Tainted Lovers, no matter the cost. Hopefully this companion will be as much of an unexpected treat for others as it has been for me.

The book will release DECEMBER 1ST at a price off 99 pennies but there will be no pre-order. It will release on the day. Enjoy xx

clovers

A scorching hot companion to Tainted Lovers . . .

Adrienne expects her annual work’s Christmas party to be as dull as usual. A six-course meal and cases of champagne, dozens of government people all in the same banquet room, her dashing husband by her side… it all sounds pretty straightforward.

It’s just a pity that someone at the Christmas party recognises her husband and all for the wrong reasons. Will it ruin their private time away from the kids, or reinvigorate their sex life in a new, unexpected way?

This decadent, dark companion novella to Tainted Lovers is pure erotica, proving true passion transcends even the most diabolical of coincidences.

***This novella contains MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS for Tainted Lovers. It is recommended you read the novel first.***

tainted lovers (2)
http://mybook.to/taintedlovers

The most beautiful anti-romance you might read all year . . .

Adrienne and David meet in a library and the rest is history. Leaving their past lives behind, they race off to get married and make a promise of undying love. Waiting in the wings, however, are dark and deadly secrets threatening to tear them apart.

Their passion has never been up for question – but is there a limit to what love can overcome? Moreover, what does the future hold for Adrienne after she has her heart crushed, her spirit broken and her resolve disintegrated?

Are all great love stories destined to end badly . . . ?

Suitable for readers 18+ only. Tainted Lovers is a complete standalone novel.

FREE to download 17th-18th September

tainted lovers (2)
http://mybook.to/taintedlovers

The most beautiful anti-romance you might read all year . . .

Adrienne and David meet in a library and the rest is history. Leaving their past lives behind, they race off to get married and make a promise of undying love. Waiting in the wings, however, are dark and deadly secrets threatening to tear them apart.

Their passion has never been up for question – but is there a limit to what love can overcome? Moreover, what does the future hold for Adrienne after she has her heart crushed, her spirit broken and her resolve disintegrated?

Are all great love stories destined to end badly . . . ?

Suitable for readers 18+ only. Tainted Lovers is a complete standalone novel.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

freeness

What reviewers said:

This is a powerful, heart-wrenching look at life, death, love, sorrow and deep pain.

 The relationships, and the struggles within them, are so real.

 You hope beyond hope, that love will find its way to win the battle over fear.

This story is the most beautiful anti-romantic book that I have read for a long time.

I really love how Sarah writes, untamed and free with expression.

Raw, heart wrenching, disturbingly beautiful & truly emotional rollercoaster.

For me this book was special. I don’t think I have the words to give this book justice.

This book will not only touch your heart, it’ll invade your soul and leave you reeling.

Sarah’s writing captivates you in a way that you feel their pain.

Some parts of this book were truly heartbreaking.

As a reader you can feel Adrienne and David’s blazing connection right away.

It was at this point that I knew without any doubt this book will be one of my top reads of 2016!

Tainted Lovers is an all-consuming twisted, suspense filled, and dark romance.

I’m not ashamed to say I nearly had heart failure, the anticipation was riveting.

At times I felt like I was bleeding emotionally onto the pages.

I was more than ready to throw my kindle and demand that this can’t possibly be true!

teaser 2
http://author.to/sarahmichellelynch

Writing An Organic Novel Which Becomes a Living Organism

  • What Is An Organic Novel?

An organic novel is perhaps the hardest type of book you could ever write. The author might have a vague idea of what they’re writing and why, but largely they’ve allowed themselves to go with the flow – starting with a basic story arc and adding to the flow as and when.

I’ve sat here and written organic novels and planned novels, so I know from experience that the organic novel is much harder to master but produces the better result.

A lot of authors will tell you they need to hear their characters’ voices to be able to write the story but in my experience, the story comes as strongly to me as the characters and no matter where the characters want to go, you, the author are in charge of their destiny. When a reader gets angry because the author killed off their favourite character, they might assume the author felt nothing when they killed off that character. They’d be wrong. The author feels the loss more than anyone and the author cuts themselves open to put difficult issues and trials on a page. As an author, it’s the hardest thing to do to say to yourself, “This is going to hurt but it must be done and I must go through with it…” Tackling difficult issues HURTS. Always emotionally, sometimes even physically when you’ve been sat in the same position all day and your fingers just won’t pen that difficult scene in the right way.

I don’t use beta readers. I discuss my books with my editor husband and nobody else. My best novel yet might be called Tainted Lovers but I didn’t allow it to become ‘tainted’ by too many cooks spoiling the broth.

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  • Art Is Organic

For me, art can’t be pre-planned; art is giving half of yourself over to the unknown and hoping for the best. It’s letting go of control and allowing your spirit to whirl around a black hole for as long and as painfully as you can take. In the process of writing the organic novel, you might be at war with yourself, or your editor, or yourself and your editor simultaneously, yourself and what you think readers want, yourself and yourself (if like me you sort of method write and start talking with the character who says, “I’d never fucking do that.”

Art is feeling the emotions of a story and not only subscribing to them but living them and absorbing them so that you know other human beings will feel the journey too. It’s hoping beyond hope that something so innately creative and “out there” might actually make sense to a bunch of individuals you don’t even know from Adam.

Art is knowing that the first line doesn’t have to be the best because a book is several lines. Which make a whole. It’s knowing when to make the sentences count, at what junctures do you need to dredge your soul, and how sometimes using greyscale so that when people do transform, it happens in multiple rainbows finally feeding the starved souls of readers ‘hoping beyond hope’.

Art is writing what isn’t pretty, but is necessary to the story. It’s about history, about humanity, about not lying to your reader about what life is like beyond their own castle walls.

  • The Organism

Writing something from the gut means things you put down on paper might repulse some and delight others. It’s true and therefore everyone will have an opinion over something so solid, which you’ve written down in granite and therefore, cannot be changed. The reader might will the story to change but the author (bearing in mind I’ve always been told be careful how you use words – and I ignore that notion continually) cannot change that story because by pressing that publish button, they’ve already put it in stone.

What makes a book an organism is when the author leaves little crevices in a story for the reader to allow their own subplots to slide in. Many people become fond of side characters in books, because they’re people we can imagine for ourselves. The protagonists are often crafted in such a staunch way that they’re the pegs holding down the tent, the driving force of a book – so set in stone – they cannot always be changed. Heroes and heroines can lose their mystery the more story we give them and the more we peel away their shells to overcome each obstacle.

My most recent full-length novel Tainted Lovers was written organically and in some respects, I fought to keep it that way. I didn’t just fight with myself, or my editor, but I fought with every aspect of this novel and it was a fight to the finish line. I wrote about keeping it a standalone in this blog and looking back now, I am so glad I won that particular fight because making this a standalone book has created a living organism which readers now give life to with their reactions and their interpretations, plus lingering questions even as silly as, “Why did he never take his socks off?”

I took some awful issues to task in this novel, one of them being domestic abuse. More than three women who suffered domestic abuse themselves contacted me to say that the book reflected exactly how they felt when they themselves were in that situation. Some of these women had to take a few days and more afterwards to reflect on the story they’d read. I really never even considered whether I was doing justice to women in the same position as my female lead, Adrienne. I just wrote a story I felt in my heart and gut was real.

I love a story which keeps the pages turning. I love commercial fiction. Some books you forget quickly but they were good at the time. I write mainstream stuff as well as literary stuff. I like a balance. But sometimes, an idea comes along and you have to pursue it, no matter the cost. It’s a GIFT and a privilege that I get to do what I do.

Art has to reflect real life, or it won’t touch your readers. Art has to explode life… in a way you might not feel brave enough to do yourself. It’s why we read, why the romance and thriller genres remain the biggest selling genres in the world. Put the two together and you might just get a book to finally knock the socks off David Lewis, the man who once upon a time made love wearing socks…

I finish with one of the reviews I read of Tainted Lovers only yesterday:

on 18 May 2016
I really am not sure what to say about this book, the writing was exceptional and the storyline like nothing I’ve read before. This book consumed me day and night, when I wasn’t reading it, I was wondering what else could possibly happen to Ade and David. These characters are beautifully broken; with dark secrets they fear will end their relationship this story spans over a decade, and really makes you think about a love that is so deep and all consuming, and had me asking myself whether I have ever really felt such a strong connection.

There were so many twists that you just will not see coming. This book will not only touch your heart but will invade your soul and leave you reeling. The author went to great lengths to make this story and the characters complex yet completely relatable; and the poetry throughout, beautiful. I loved Ade’s strength and David’s passion, and together they made this story the beautiful masterpiece that it is.

full paperback cover

Read and Review Is Now Open

BNW Author Services are accepting sign-ups (on my behalf) from bloggers and readers who’d like to read and review Tainted Lovers for free in exchange FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.

tainted lovers (2)SYNOPSIS:

The most beautiful anti-romance you might read all year . . .

Adrienne and David meet in a library and the rest is history. Leaving their past lives behind, they race off to get married and make a promise of undying love. Waiting in the wings, however, are dark and deadly secrets threatening to tear them apart.

Their passion has never been up for question – but is there a limit to what love can overcome? Moreover, what does the future hold for Adrienne after she has her heart crushed, her spirit broken and her resolve disintegrated?

Are all great love stories destined to end badly . . . ?

Suitable for readers 18+ only. Tainted Lovers is a complete standalone novel.

Here’s the link to the form and all the information you need is there:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1VttJ…

First come, first served.

Happy reading,

Sarah xx

View TLs on Amazon

Latest news + 10,000 followers?

So, I was idly scrolling round my website the other day and happened to see my blog now has 10,000 followers. WOW. How’d that happen?

Anyway, thank you!

So, a few things…

BOOK SIGNINGS

My next book signing is in Dublin on October 8th. You can find out all you need to know about the event by clicking this link: CLADDAGH EVENT PAGE If you want to guarantee your books before the day, you can pre-order by filling out this form: CLICK HERE

TAINTED LOVERS

tainted lovers (2)My latest book Tainted Lovers has been receiving some strong reactions, particularly from women who’ve been in the same position as Adrienne. I’ve deliberately not mentioned her prior history in the blurb so the book isn’t spoiled but for info, she was previously in an abusive relationship – and this impacts on her future marriage. Check out the reviews so far: Visit Amazon UK or Amazon US. I gave everything to one book that I would normally give to a series, so find out for yourself what you think.

EDITING

I’ve had a few queries about this lately so I’m just gonna post this here. I’m not taking on any new editorial projects now until September. I’ll honour those already slated but for the next few months, I’m booked. As always, happy to respond to queries, but my responses may not be so prompt.

DOM DIARIES

I’m working on a companion novel to the Sub Rosa Series at the moment called Dom Diaries. It’s a book from Carl’s POV and has been an interesting challenge, given it’s a collection of diaries, which require a lot of different techniques! I’m hoping to make this available for pre-order in the next two to three weeks.

NEWSLETTER

I’m starting a newsletter very soon which will contain exclusives, previews and news. All you have to do is fill in your details after following this link: http://eepurl.com/bWYDuf.

And that’s all for now. Thanks for reading,

Sarah xx

 

 

 

Tainted Lovers is Live…

full paperback cover

(Click cover to be directed to Amazon)

Title:

Tainted Lovers

Genre:

Romantic erotica/suspense

Page count:

424

Series?

Complete standalone

Listen to me reading Chapter One without any rehearsal, I just picked it up and read it (sorry if I sound shite! you can read along below):

Chapter One

Easter, 2003

 

I worked as a cataloguist of special documents at Leeds University’s Brotherton Library, which had some seriously interesting old scrolls and manuscripts among its collections. I landed the job because I had tenacity. I wanted the job because it meant not dealing with the public. I was waiting until my son Billy was a little older so that I could give more time to my studies and finally do my accounting degree.

Occasionally I left my office but only to make the dis-tance from my workspace to the café nearby. While Billy spent time at the crèche every afternoon, I worked. I didn’t need the money, just some sort of sanity.

One day I was leaving my office to pick Billy up on my way home when I spotted a man stood nearby at the self-service units, looking perplexed.

“Excuse me, excuse me,” he called in a panicked voice. He held one foot on the floor while reaching high in the air to signal me over the tops of the high booths. Looking around, I saw no other members of staff available to help him. It was getting toward the end of the day for most people and also, it was nearly the Easter holidays and the past few weeks had been the busiest of the year. Most of my colleagues were surviving on cigarettes and bitching sessions to keep them going.

Walking toward him, I asked, “What’s the problem?”

It wasn’t my job to help him, but I was familiar with the self-service machines.

“It won’t let me take out this book.”

Part of me had already clocked the fact he was beautiful but I tried to ignore that.

Attempting to take his book out for him, I muttered under my breath, “Where is everyone?”

“I’ve been stuck standing here for god knows how long waiting for help.”

I nodded along, hearing angry beeps from the machine, which refused to let him take out this book. Looking closer at the screen, I realised the computer bore a message:

 

This title is reserved.

 

Pointing at the screen, I drew his attention to the message and he answered, “Yeah, I reserved it. About four months ago. So did everyone else. Some shit keeps hiding this and none of us can ever get hold of the bloody thing.”

I picked up the book under scrutiny and held it in my hands. It was an old book on medieval chivalry with a brown, warped cover and thin pages nearly falling apart. The book had illustrations in colour but it was at least a hundred years old and should have been a reference title – if that.

“This shouldn’t even be on a shelf,” I mumbled, “it should be under my care. Look at it.”

I felt him staring at me for a while as I examined his long-overdue/reserved book. “A soft spot for battered old books, eh?”

“I’m actually in charge of battered old books,” I told him. “Just wait here a second.”

“Okay. I’ll wait,” he said.

I caught a softness to his voice, perhaps affection, and the tone caught me off guard. Looking directly up into his eyes for the first time, I was throttled by what was staring back.

Our eyes locked. I think I burned from every pore. My belly filled with heat and my heart rinsed off its icy cage in an instant. Staring at him, my feet rooted, I realised he wasn’t affected at all, not whatsoever. Cool as ice. I hated him a little for it.

“In… a… wait,” I mumbled, not making sense.

I rushed off back to my office and sank against the door, panting, trying to slow my heart. Never had I been so affected. Light-headed, I tried to catch my breath.

Clutching the book in my hand, I remembered I had a job to do. My PC on standby, I started it up again and searched the catalogue number.

It was a borrow, he wasn’t lying. Not a reference title. Flicking through it again, I realised it was one of the core subjects our medieval scholars studied – on chivalric court-ship. So I knew he was either an MA student or higher. Going by his eyes, he was a few years older than me.

Anyway, I needed to get rid of him.

Quickly.

I overrode the system and did something naughty, cancelling all the reserve statuses so the book could start a new cycle of temporary ownership. No doubt some div hated his fellow classmates and wanted nobody else to have access to the book, a rare title which could make or break a dissertation.

Gathering myself, I took some deep breaths, my bag clutched under my arm and the book clutched at my chest.

Leaving the office again, I walked fast because I really needed to pick up Billy.

“Hi,” he said as I rejoined him.

Stepping in front of the self-serve machine with authority, I asked, “Library card, please.”

He handed me it and I took the book out for him, avoiding eye contact altogether.

Job done.

“There you go.”

“Thanks… how did you…? Thanks!” He stuffed the book into his rammed-full bag as I began walking away.

I chased down the stairs, not wanting to give him chance to follow me. I had two flights to get down, though. My exit was through the Parkinson building, and the stairs outside were steep and dangerous. I had to slow down to take them.

“Wait, wait!” He caught up with me, a hand on my forearm slowing me down as we got out into the open air. “I know you.”

“I have somewhere to be,” I huffed, impatient.

“Adrienne, right?”

I dared look into those chocolate-brown eyes again and another electric current shot through me, even stronger though this time. In the light of day, I saw how deeply brown his eyes really were – and smouldering – with umber striations.

I folded my arms. “So what? I saw your library card, David.” I sounded pithy. “You saw my name tag. Big deal.”

“No,” he shook his head, “Adrienne Kyd. I know you. Well,” he chuckled, “I know of you.”

I examined him carefully and the familiarity became clear.

“You’re a Harrogate boy,” I said through gritted teeth.

So, my past was inescapable. A boy from my hometown had found me.

But just how much did he know?

“Everybody knows you… or knew you,” he said, but while his tone was affectionate, his eyes remained devoid of any feeling. He looked at me like he was looking right past me. It was something about his steady gaze. I couldn’t read him. He seemed, guarded.

Anyway, he wasn’t lying. Everyone knew me. I was Miss Harrogate 2000, the same year I got together with Marcus, my ex – the donator of sperm that created my child (he was never a father).

“I’m not trying to be rude… I really do have somewhere to be,” I insisted, avoiding his eyes at all costs. I couldn’t help notice he was mentally undressing me, sizing me up for the kill.

“Can I give you my number?” he asked.

“No.”

“No?”

“No. Goodbye.”

I charged off. Petrified wasn’t a word I thought I understood, but right then, I did. I purposely wore dowdy clothes, no make-up – and worked in the backroom of a library. I hardly ever let my hair down (literally) and I didn’t try to make myself look attractive to the opposite sex whatsoever. In fact I was glad to be invisible but that day, my magic cloak seemed to have worn off.

I’d never been so scared before in my life: I’d fallen in love at first sight.

 

***

 

Even though I worked at the library, people may not have even known that. I passed through quickly on my way to and from places; always with my eyes focused on leaving, always with an air of inapproachability so that people never stopped me in my tracks. I lived in my office, end of. I wore a name badge I always tried to hide by folding over my cardigan. I wasn’t on the help desk. I didn’t deal with returns. I didn’t want to talk to people. I didn’t want people to ask me questions and know things about me. I was quiet. I talked to one girl I worked with, Bebe, and the rest of the staff thought I was some sort of mentally ill person with antisocial tendencies. It worked for me.

However. After that first encounter with David, I was no longer a ghost fluttering in and out of that place. I was a target. David hung around in the afternoons, waiting, watching. He asked if he could carry my bag on my way out. He tried to slip his number into the palm of my hand. He even stalked me at my favourite coffee shop in Parkinson, finding out from the owner what my usual tipple was. The coffee shop owner said David had paid for me to have free coffee for the rest of the academic year. I was molten with fury and longing – torn between giving into my urges and tearing strips off him for refusing to let it go.

 

Not many days later, I had to run an errand over to the geography department which was expecting a new delivery of old maps. Because of my infrequent escape from the office, I don’t think David expected me to catch him with another girl that day. I watched from a distance, hiding myself behind one of the many trees lining the pathways of our campus. I spotted him and a redhead on a bench having a heated discussion, and then a second girl walked up to them. A brunette. The two girls faced off, seemingly fighting for him. David was able to slope off because they were too busy arguing. He chased away once he’d put a safe distance between himself and the two ladies, heading off campus it seemed. Once I knew he was gone, I left my hiding place and walked along to my destination, passing the two girls as I did. All I heard from the redhead was, “He was mine first, keep your hands off.”

The brunette replied, “Don’t you see? He’s playing us both…”

I didn’t hear anything more, but I was sure as hell certain David wasn’t a man to be trusted. I certainly couldn’t afford another man like that in my life.

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Writing A Standalone

**Warning, this blog contains swearing, humour… and some strong opinions. Proceed with caution.**

“I actually forgot how to write a standalone…”

…I said to my husband the other day.

One of the reasons I decided to write a standalone this time round is that my own tastes are changing and I find myself more and more frustrated with long-running series. I find that sequels sometimes take forever to come out, or when they do, the characters don’t sound the same… or maybe it was so long ago since that other book in the series, you find yourself having to reread again and again so you can keep the flow going and stay connected to the characters. I also find that with series comes pressure for the author and often, the first book in a trilogy will be really strong and then books that follow don’t measure up. Maybe that’s just a sign that once a series is established, an author becomes too comfortable in their writing and after that, writes exactly what they want instead of perpetuating what they set out in the beginning? Or maybe, time constraints are involved… and the first book was evolved more organically, before everyone developed an opinion of their own.

A lot of writers I work with don’t write series because they want to, but because they think they have to. Many writers in the Indie world, especially, are writing series with the thought, “I can give this one away for free, then people might read the next ones…” Hey, we’ve all been there. I’ve got the t-shirt. Someone even recently said to me, “People will only take a chance on an Indie author if it’s free.”

When I said that to my husband (I forgot how to write a singular book), I really meant it. I forgot how to write a standalone. As of today, right now i.e. this moment in time, my forthcoming novel Tainted Lovers is the only standalone novel of mine to date. When I wrote Unbind, it was sooooo meant to be a standalone. However, during the writing of it, I’d written loads of material from Cai’s POV for my own benefit, so me – the author – was inside his head and better able to represent him. However, low and behold readers read Unbind and wanted more from him. There were questions left over. While my editor’s opinion was that sometimes it’s better to leave some things unsaid, the readers voted with their feet. WE WANT MORE!

So then, I wrote Unfurl which is probably the second best book I’ve ever written because I really felt like me and Cai were on the same wavelength and I went hell for leather on the editing. By midway through Unfurl, I knew in my heart that Kayla also had a story to tell – so a trilogy was forming – and I didn’t want Unfurl to be the shitty middle book full of sex and filler and crappy cliché to get to the last and final chapter, which gives you all the flash/bang/wallop.

Beyond Angel Avenue was something I wrote out of love. I’d missed Jules and Warrick and felt like enough time had lapsed to tell what happened next. I.e. they’ve changed (like I’d changed) and it wouldn’t be the same book, it’d be a book to stand alone but a sequel still.

I think a lot of authors these days feel under pressure to write series, from a marketing point of view, because a series is an investment for readers to get stuck into. However, through series, are we short selling ourselves? Stretching ourselves thin? When in actual fact, a standalone has the ability to pack a whole lot of punch in one, swift round? A former agent of mine said series attract publishers/agents because it basically means more pounds and pence.

If you think about Game of Thrones, which everyone is in uproar about because they take so bloody long to write, Mr Martin’s books are only soooo absorbing because he takes time to make them that good. Whereas, many other authors are given three months between instalments to write their books. Is that short changing their talent, or are we able to write more than we think we are? I am starting to believe that the world in which we live expects… and probably the reason why 50 Shades did so well was that all of the instalments were out at the same time and nobody had to wait in between for them. (Or did Amazon spot a marketing opportunity and set their algorithms to explode those books…. hmmm… *scratches chin*… I think Amazon saw a way to earn some money.) I say love what you love, enjoy it, and if you do, great. However, the hype told everyone they had to have those books and so everyone went to Asda and got 3 for 2 and most of the Vol. twos and threes languish somewhere (I did a poll, so I’m not lying about this) and most people I spoke to read the first and then forgot about the other two. I hasten to add Mr Martin only intended GoT to be three books long, but that damn wheel of fortune bloody well said no, you will write seven damn books (and now the TV show is ahead of the books… what does that tell you about supply and demand??? Are we just a load of needy gits…? Oh yeah.)

I mean… look at Great Gatsby at only 50K and yet it’s been done numerous times on film etc. Jane Eyre, voted the greatest novel of all time over and over, rides well above 200K. Today, a marketing firm would no doubt slice Charlotte’s book in two and… you know, spoil the fucking thing.

Word count is so stupid. A story will be told, in how ever many words it needs to be told.

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!!!!!!

I am but a liar. Now… I put on my editor’s hat for the latter portion of this blog… with a list of editing mishaps I wanna scream at myself and others sometimes:

  • Less is more.
  • Not everyone wants to know your shoe size, or what colour underwear you’re wearing. Cut that shit out.
  • Hey, you totally used that plot twist to dramatise what was otherwise a simply boring, boring novel…!
  • Set targets; they bloody work! A deadline gets shit done.
  • Set a word count and make sure you get that whole story told within that bastard.

When I said I forgot how to write a standalone, I am really not kidding. The writer in me wanted to venture down all sorts of avenues and here’s where things went wrong along the way (as my thought processes swam beyond the buoy):

  • “I could make this two, 90,000-word books and put a massive cliffhanger slap bang in the middle to make people want more… (my editor says, okay, maybe that could work) …everyone would be talking about it, OMG, what’s gonna happen next.” Then… Reasonable Me says it will take me 4-6 months to write the sequel and I will get to the end wondering why I did this. People will have forgotten they care. They are loathe to re-read the first and… it’ll not be as strong as book one.
  • I could make this a trilogy!!! Yes! Another trilogy. I will throw in loads of really, really well-written sex cos I am da balls at that. Oh yes. (editor says noh, in a David Walliams-type Little Britain voice.)
  • Editor in me goes: Write that hard shit, write it, damn you woman. Writer in me goes: No, don’t wanna.
  • How do I arc a story? Fuck. I forgot… better learn that again (I arc’ed once before, in Beneath the Veil/The Radical and that shit was good).
  • B–b–b–b–but if I write a series, I can use tail ends to write loadsa great twisty-turning shit… in the sequels, YAY!! (editor rolls his eyes, stamps on my stupid notions, and shouts WRITE A SINGLE FUCKING BOOK!). p.s. love my editor.

One of my favourite chicklit/romance reads ever is Me Before You (film out this year) and I loved it because it had a moral, it had incredibly beautiful, poignant, life-changing moments, and it was real. I damn well refuse to read the sequel because I know it will spoil my love of the first book.

Notwithstanding all my opinions above, which are just my opinions, not fact… here’s what I found from finally writing a true, standalone novel.

  • I changed the title at least twelve times.
  • I changed the character names at least the same amount of times.
  • I rewrote certain sections dozens and dozens of times.
  • I gave care to each chapter, each section, each line, each paragraph, each fucking full stop. I gave so much care to this book because it is THE BOOK and the only book, right now, that I feel shows the breadth and entirety of my writing skill.
  • With a standalone, you know you only have one chance to get that shit write/right.
  • It’s going to blow your wigs off, knock your socks flying, kill your heart, then rebuild it.
  • I focussed on words. On manipulating. On crafting. I cut out the twisty shit and crafted words. Crafted and crafted and crafted.
  • I wrote stuff I didn’t want to write, but had to.
  • I pulled up my big girl pants and rocked that shit. Left out explicit sex (still hot though) in favour of meaningful encounters.

p.s. I wrote Tainted Lovers on a diet of gin and lots more cussing than what’s in this little here blog post.

Oh yeah… and do you love my cover??

full paperback cover

Out soon…

With love, Sarah xxx