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Book Review: “Silent Victim” by Caroline Mitchell

The different perspectives made the narrative shine.

I enjoyed the story. I wasn’t blown away by the plot itself, but I did enjoy the differing perspectives in which the story is told. This is what made this book stand out.

The writing I thought was nice and easy to read, it flowed, and because of the differing voices, the character development was really effective.

The stand out development was from the point of view of Luke. We could really get inside his mind and experience his harrowing plan unfold to devastating effect.

And because the different perspectives were so personal to each character, you didn’t always know who to believe!

As I say, the plot as a standalone isn’t the most original. Saying that, the opening premise of the book is, that hooked me in right away.

Finally, something I didn’t like was a moment where one of the characters has a realisation about an event in the book. The connection they make is almost impossible to make that connection. It made me say, “Oh come on, really!?”

All in all, a good read!

**** (3.8 stars)

Silent Victim Caroline Mitchell - T. J. Blake's book review

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Writers are ‘losing control’ over their characters. But is this really possible?

I tweeted about a problem writers are facing. A seemingly ruthless and universal issue that shows no mercy. The problem? Misbehaving and disobedient fictitious characters.

What is losing control over your character?

Many writers talk about occasions when their character does something that they (the writer) simply didn’t expect or allow.

Maybe their character absolutely loves eating apples, but no matter what, the author just can’t stop their character from eating goddamn bananas.

I don’t know about you but this process of a character changing or doing something against your will is completely ludicrous. There is simply no way that a fictional character can dictate their own actions against you, the author, their god.

Fictional characters DO become real beings though… in your head and on paper

Sure, fictional characters become real, living, breathing, walking, talking beings in our heads, in our words and in our stories. They, however, cannot make a single decision without you. For a start, they’re a floating individual or group in your head. They don’t have their own mind, like a real person. Only in their fictional world.

As a writer, you are the character. You make their decisions and you control their behaviour. So if there is any behavioural change to your character, then that’s down to you as the writer and god of your fictional universe, not the character.

It’s character personality development rather than character defiance

It happens in a story. A character’s personality, behaviour and mannerisms can change, just like a real life person’s personality changes over time. Personality change is the result from life experience. This is something that happens in the real world and fictional universe.

Imagine yourself ten years ago, think about where you were in your life and how it affected you. Were you a different person? If so, why? Maybe you weren’t as confident as you are now. Maybe you say certain phrases that you would never say now. Maybe you now like a certain food that you never liked before. It could be any kind of behavioural change, but it all dwindles down to life experience.

It’s more impressive when writers ensure their character’s personality developments from their experiences. Whether the experience is part of their backstory or are the effects of the narrative we’re following.

Why do writers say their character is defying them and doing what they want?

It’s for effect. It makes it seem to others that they’re so wrapped up in their creative world that they’re part of the universe. Or that their character has escaped their fictional world and joined them in the real world – sounds like the bloody Matrix films now.

Simply put, writers have an overactive imagination. It’s what helps us to come up with the stories we come up with.

I have all sorts of random thoughts in my day-to-day life, creating various scenarios in my head.

Picture this: I walk in the front door after work. It’s dark upstairs. “I bet there’s a axe wielding maniac up there hiding in my wardrobe,” I think to myself. I walk up the stairs anyway without turning the lights on.

My Conclusion

I’ve said it already, but writers are gods of their fictional worlds. They’re in control of every single aspect of their world, including the development of a story and their characters. If a character swears, the writer allowed them to. If they order a pint, it’s because the author wanted them to. If they end up killing someone, it’s cause the writer allowed it.

You may not always agree with your character or condone what they do, say or think, but you created them. It’s because of you that they act a certain way or have a belief in your fictional world.

Sorry fellow writers who say their characters are going rogue, in my opinion, it’s simply not the case. It’s part of your imagination and you like the thought that your character is a real person who makes their own decisions. To some extent they do make their own decisions, but it’s down to you what decisions they make, whether it’s the right or wrong decision. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? Living a different life and doing things that we can’t always do in our normal lives.

We can live a different life through our characters.

Get in touch if you are a firm believer in lacking control of your characters

If you’ve ever experienced losing the control of your character and they do what ever the hell they want, get in touch. Tell us what happened!

2019 and ‘DECEPTION’ is still receiving 5 star reviews!

Although I decided to self-publish DECEPTION back in 2016, I’m happy to see that even after three years my readers are still loving it!

A ‘verified purchase’ 5 star review on Amazon.co.uk

5 Star Amazon Review from Georgie

A short and sweet review from Georgie. Chuffed to see that she enjoyed the ride!

DECEPTION’s blurb:

Through the stark and leafless trees, I see her.

I remember the first day I saw her; an instant attraction. I think she’s beautiful. She has such pensive blue eyes; they remind me of a blue sky right before the sun descends. Every time I see her I want to talk to her, I want to get to know her, and I want to be her friend.

She usually completes the lower woodland walk in six minutes and forty-two seconds; she misses the deeper woodlands and goes home, I believe.

I walk down the road at the same speed as her. She reaches the crossroads at the bottom of the road, looks both ways, and then jogs across into the garden of a house. I stop walking and concentrate on which house is hers.

I can’t stare too long but I am intrigued already, I will come back.

A psychological thriller that will not let you look at passing dog walkers the same.

If you would like to read this novel, you can download it here from Amazon. Click the link and it will take you to the right Amazon (UK, US etc.) for you.

Deception: A Love of Lies by T. J. Blake

If you do decide to read DECEPTION then please let me know what you think!

Blog Takeover – ‘A Morning Stroll’ by Billy Allen from DECEPTION

A Morning Stroll

The skies are grey. Damp, decomposing leaves cover the ground, making my path slippery in places. The wind is cold and sharp against my face. My breath plumes before me then dissipates into the thin air as I walk through it.

I look down to Ella. Her head is down, moist nose sniffing the ground and I wonder how many different scents there must be for her to seek. Ella’s ears dangle, flopping gently against her face. She has the typical spaniel face; her straight white nose has a smattering of brown splodges which descend from between her hazel eyes.

Heel girl, heel. Sit.

Ella turns and sits down in front of me, eager for my next instruction. Her eyes glisten as she waits for my command.

I pull a dog treat from my pocket. “Good girl. Wait.” I kneel down and unclip the lead from her collar. “Wait. Wait. Go on then.” I fling out my arm as I give the command and Ella runs into the distance but returns like a boomerang.

I enjoy my early morning walks with Ella. I like studying our location to see what people have done in the woodland and surrounding landscape. I can identify the age and gender of a person based on a change from the day before. For example, there are areas of the leaf-strewn ground that have been disturbed to reveal the sludgy, underlying mud. This was done by children, they have been using the mud as glue to build their bases and as ink to write on trees around the woods, marking their territory. I scratch it off.

There are scuff marks on every tree in one cluster, the scuffs are from the children’s dirty shoes. As they climbed up the trees they left their mark. They would have been here during the late afternoon, after they finished school, because glimmering slug trails are visible on the trees’ bark and slugs prefer the dark, damp night time. One tree however does not have the shiny lines because they have been rubbed off. An empty beer bottle sits at the foot of the tree, covered in piss. A man came here in the early hours; depressed and lonely, he comes here most nights. He is most likely around the age of fifty and he’s local. He got pissed whilst walking to no particular destination, ended up here, laid down by this tree.

Only a few dog walkers come through here, a dozen or so, possibly a couple more. There’s always one that leaves its dog’s shit on the ground for someone to step in. On this occasion someone had it follow them home via their shoe. Most likely the drunk man who’s a size ten foot, judging by the print left in the relatively big shit on the ground.

I know these woods better than anyone. These woods are mine. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t visit.

As we walk along the higher grounds of the woodlands, I notice more details. Dry fox scat, must be a day old. I wouldn’t have missed that yesterday so it must have been excreted just after I passed. I see balls of ginger fur rolling in the breeze. It’s not from a fox it’s from a pet cat; the fur is too fluffy and light to be a wild animal’s.

I move to the edge of the higher grounds and look over the naked lower woodlands. I scan the meandering dirt paths. The leaves on a few of the paths have been disturbed by the footfall of walkers, but not all. The trees are thinner down there; some of their leaves still have life in them. The dead leaves have blown from the higher grounds but some have been carried by the children to be used in their bases.

Through the stark and leafless trees, I see her; she’s walking her Springer, ‘Bussy’. She has a slight bounce to her stride as she lets Bussy gallop around the lower woodlands.

She has that horse rider look; tight fitted riding trousers and boots, a black woollen jumper and a white shirt.

Her brown hair is woven into a plait and dangles over her right shoulder.

I see her most mornings. I remember the first day I saw her; an instant attraction. I think she’s beautiful. She has such pensive blue eyes; they remind me of a blue sky right before the sun descends. From different angles, I catch the glint from her eyes, similar to the sparkle of a star in the night. Her skin is pale but in this cold she has rosy red cheeks that match her deep red lipstick.

Every time I see her, I want to talk to her. I want to get to know her, and I want to be her friend.

As I walk along the woods watching her from the corner of my eye, I once again pass her without saying a word. I wish I could pluck up the courage to speak to her but I simply can’t. She’s the first woman that’s caught my attention since Cindy.

I will not speak to her today. I will one day, but I will do something different to engage her attention. She usually completes the lower woodland walk in six minutes and forty-two seconds; she misses the deeper woodlands and goes home, I believe. I want to find out more about her so I will bypass the lower woodland and exit from the upper woods in two minutes, where she will have to walk up the slope to enter the upper woodlands and then exit onto the road. I will be far enough up the road that she will not see me, but I will see her.

Ella, here.” My dog bounces back to me. “You need to be on the lead for this, little girl.

I turn and retrace the path we have just walked. I reach the middle of the upper woods and then exit onto the road. I wait a couple of seconds and then I see the woman also exit the woods. A natural smile settles itself upon my lips; she must be special to make me smile so unexpectedly.

I walk down the road at the same speed as her. I never do this. The last time I walked down this road was when I followed a girl home when I was a kid.

I had forgotten about the detached three bedroom homes on the left, opposite the woods. This road always seemed like a wall, a divider protecting me from the world full of cruel and heartless people. The woods were where I felt most comfortable as a kid and even now, their reassurance remains with me.

As she reaches the crossroads at the bottom of the road, she hesitates, looks both ways and then jogs across and into the garden of a house. I stop walking and concentrate on which house is hers. There are two detached houses. There’s a fair amount of land for the two homes. A line of bushes separates their front gardens and it’s probably the same around the back. She walks Bussy in my woodlands, so behind the houses must be private land, a farm possibly?

I can’t stare too long but I am intrigued already. I will come back.


DECEPTION: A Love of Lies – available as eBook and paperback!

Deception: A Love of Lies by T. J. Blake

‘DECEPTION: A Love of Lies’ book cover comparison

You may remember that a few months ago I announced that my 2016 novel, DECEPTION, was getting a new book cover. Although I released and revealed the change, I never actually got a copy of the new cover for myself.

Yesterday, my new DECEPTION copy arrived.

New Deception Book Cover

It’s interesting to see the change of the cover since its revamp too.

DECEPTION book cover comparison
Original cover (left). New cover (right).

The original cover was artsy and although I loved it at the time, the quality of it wasn’t good enough. The coloured focus eye line effect was a nice touch (albeit slightly cheesy) around Eve and her dog Ella, but the cover overall needed to reflect the dark and mysteriousness of the story.

The crisp, cleaner cover is much darker, but then the story is quite dark, so it fits with the narrative.

The typography is neater too, especially with the inclusion of ‘A Love of Lies‘ on the front and spine.

I love the fade effect on ‘Blake‘ on the front cover. It’s a minor touch but I think it adds to the mystery of the novel.

spine shot of deception

Fancy reading my psychological thriller novel, DECEPTION?

‘DECEPTION: A Love of Lies’ is available on Amazon as both an eBook and paperback, check it out – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deception-Love-T-J-Blake-ebook/dp/B01J0434K4

 

A successful morning writing session… in my pjs!

My New Year’s Eve morning was spent working on my latest novel.

You can’t beat a morning writing session, especially when you’re slumming it in your pyjamas with a Groot mug.

Now that I’m 3900 words in across three chapters, it’s time to hand over the story to my harshest critic, the other half.

T. J. Blake's morning writing session in his pjs

The Verdict

Luckily, she liked what she read. A couple of good points for me to consider too, but on the whole, she really enjoyed it.

You may think she’s biased. Trust me, she isn’t, she’ll tell me if something is complete rubbish or not!

Are you a fellow writer who writes in their pjs?

Feel free to send a snap and let me know where you are at with your latest novel!

Planning a Novel – I’m trying out something new!

The development of my previous five books all followed a similar format – first came the initial idea, then the fabrication of the world and the characters within it, and then a basic outline of the story’s journey. This usually took the form of my thoughts combined with the plot outline on my iPhone notes; which seems ridiculous looking back!

With a new book currently in development, I wanted to try something a little different in preparing myself to write it.

Time and patience is the key to writing an effective novel. The initial planning and development of a story is more important than the writing itself.

My novel latest novel, DECEPTION: A Love of Lies, relied heavily on the characterisation and plot of the story. This is what drove the story. The initial idea was very different to how DECEPTION is now, but the time spent on researching and developing the plot is what made it the big hit it is today.

So, how am I changing my novel planning process?

I’m still embracing my mental plotting, but I’m taking the approach of jotting it down on paper, which is why I’ve got my own book planning notebook now!

Novel Planning Notebook T. J. Blake

As dull as the image is above, this little notebook of mine has book titles, plots, quotes, character profiles and backstories inside it. I’ve separated the various elements of the novel up. The notebook currently contains a book title page, character profile page, character background page, key events page, quotes page, writing inspo page and genre theme page.

With the divided pages, I’m able to jot down my ideas in basic note form. All the ideas I note down aren’t guaranteed to feature in the book when I come to write it, but it allows me to plaster my ideas and let me review it over time when the time arrives for me to start writing and put the plot together.

My character profile and background pages were looking very full to begin with, mostly because the protagonist in this novel was the key to the story; it all started with her (there’s an exclusive for you all!).

What’s your planning process?

I’d love to know what your novel planning process is. If you’ve tried many ways to plan your books and have both terrible and great experiences, I’d love to hear them!

Every author wants to read an in-depth review about their book!

If you ask an author what they want to achieve in their writing career, especially a self-published author like me, they might say “to be published and have my book adapted into a TV series or movie“. I would be lying if I denied that this is my long term objective… but we also quite like the idea of entertaining readers and hopefully receive positive feedback on our work.

Weirdly, this is kind of my review of a review… Book review inception!

I’m pleased to say that my novel “DECEPTION: A Love of Lies” has received a fantastic review from a reader. It’s not just any review, it’s a thorough analysis. The reader has taken the time to delve deep into studying the plot, setting and characterisation of ‘DECEPTION‘.

Deception: A Love of Lies by T. J. Blake

It was written to be a suspenseful psychological thriller riddled with clues and dark turns. So I’m very proud to see that this was well received by this reviewer and that they enjoyed the ‘DECEPTION’ experience!

Some key points I loved from the review:

Blake is a seed-planter all right. He knows when and how to drop clues, or hints. When to add to the uneasy feeling these create. When to allow said seeds to burst into sprouting life with the twist you’ve been expecting from the very beginning…

The book keeps on teasing us, building the suspense, adding in odd details until we’re crying out for the Bad Thing we know must happen, to happen. Even though we have no idea what it’s going to be.

“If you like atmosphere, you’ll get it by the bucket load in this book. Ditto if you like a slow build, mounting tension, having questions you just have to know the answers to.”

“For writers, the book is a great lesson in economy of style, internal conflict, and how to write an unreliable first person narrator – where the story we get is different the one in the main character’s head.”

Read the full review from Damien – https://damienseaman.com/2018/10/02/who-says-you-cant-start-a-book-with-the-weather/

Thank you so much for the review Damien if you’re reading this!

Book Cover Revamp for DECEPTION: A Love of Lies

DECEPTION: A Love of Lies has a new cover!

I’m pleased to reveal to all of you the new front cover for DECEPTION.

The original cover was good, I still like it, but it became a little outdated and the quality wasn’t the best. I liked its artistic style – it was a black and white cover with an in colour eye line of Billy watching Eve from the bushes. We kept to this theme in the new cover, but modernised it.

So here we go, check out the new front cover for DECEPTION (available on Amazon & other bookstores) below!

Deception: A Love of Lies by T. J. Blake

A lot of you may be thinking, “err, it looks exactly the same.”

It isn’t, the image is crisp, the cover’s in colour, there’s still a line of sight from Billy’s perspective of Eve walking Ella, and the typography looks waaayyyy better. The slight fade of the ‘KE’ of Blake is a new feature, along with the addition of ‘A Love of Lies’, which all looks pretty awesome.

What do you all think?

Get in touch, would love to know your thoughts!

If you’re interested in finding more about the book, check it out on Amazon.

It’s available on eBook: http://getbook.at/DeceptionTJBlake (the link will take you to Amazon, promise. It’s a geo locater to take you to the right site).

Synopsis:

Through the stark and leafless trees, I see her.

I remember the first day I saw her; an instant attraction. I think she’s beautiful. She has such pensive blue eyes; they remind me of a blue sky right before the sun descends. Every time I see her I want to talk to her, I want to get to know her, and I want to be her friend.
She usually completes the lower woodland walk in six minutes and forty-two seconds; she misses the deeper woodlands and goes home, I believe.

I walk down the road at the same speed as her. She reaches the crossroads at the bottom of the road, looks both ways, and then jogs across into the garden of a house. I stop walking and concentrate on which house is hers.

I can’t stare too long but I am intrigued already, I will come back.

Writers – How do you find the time to write?

For those of you who are new here and don’t know me, I’m T. J. Blake, a psychological, thriller, horror and mystery author. I’m also a full time content marketing executive at a Digital Marketing & UX agency, and the founder of the writing agency, TJ Creative. So, with these two commitments alone, this is most of my time taken up.

With my commitment to the two marketing agencies, it leaves me with hardly any time to work on my author profile and write my books. It’s been two years since the release of my last book, Deception: A Love of Lies, and it could be some time yet until my next novel is released. I’m pleased to say that I have been working on my book ideas when time allows over the two years, and now that I’ve decided on which of my ideas I want to start writing as my next novel, I can now get to work on developing the plot. I am yet to start the thorough planning (same problem as normal – lack of time).

After Deception, I knew that I needed a break from writing just to promote it. Alongside promotional work, I decided to focus on a new journey by starting my own writing agency. But with quite a sudden growth in client numbers over the first year, I now find myself in a situation where my “spare” time from full time work is being taken up by TJ Creative, leaving myself short on time for author work. It’s great to have grown this little writing agency, but equally I want more time for author work – especially when I have a new story and plot playing on my mind!

Anyway, back to the point – I’d love to hear from you if you’ve gone through this journey before and how you overcame it. Equally, get in touch if you’re in the same situation as me. It might be useful for us to chat and see if we can help each other to get through this dry writing spell!

I look forward to hearing from you!