In praise of dreams

Dreaming of miracles is human. Yet wOeil et reflete are that which we seek, every conscious thought a tribute to the Frankenstein spark. Nature, God, test tube – whatever brings life, it is an astounding privilege to exist. That our seed is sown, grows, is born, continues to grow, lives, experiences (unique, no matter how many bodies), slows, fades and dies to make room for further opportunity… this is miraculous.

Unfortunately, miracles are tempered by chance. So says the child born to the ghetto, with little hope of reaching the heady heights of ordinary – the comfort of which must seem resolutely out of reach. Those fortunate enough to live quiet lives of plenty still strive to break new ground. Survival, evolution, the hunt, pride or mercy, whatever the drive, it is a persistent struggle to make sense of our privilege.

Some fail to discover why it matters and choose not to be a miracle any longer, but for most aspiration is enough and with that, the new are born.Untitled

It is the search for a secondary miracle that taunts us. We live the first, but forever yearn for more.

And so we dream.

Writing Process Blog Tour


A fellow author and good friend, Javier A Robayo, kindly invited me into a Writing Process Blog Tour. I’ll do my best to answer his questions below, then introduce two more authors, to keep the tour moving forward. Great idea.

All book links are to the UK Amazon site, as I’m UK based, but all are available on the USA site too.

First a little about Javier, by way of a ‘thank you’. Mr Robayo writes extraordinary emotional novels. His contemporary dramas, set in America and England, take risks. Not only can he successfully inhabit the female mind as an author, but he writes as a British girl in his first book The Gaze.

All this from a man who, as a young immigrant to the States, had to learn English in his teens. His strong following is well deserved.


Javier does obsession well and makes us question ourselves. I loved his complex heroine Samantha in The Gaze and revelled in the sequel, The Next Chapter. I have to declare a slight leaning towards his opus My Two Flags, a coming of age story in which his own history clearly feeds the narrative. All his work is heartfelt and his support as a fellow author has been overwhelming.

And now for the questions…

What am I working on?

I launched my first novel The Treeman in 2012 and this year released the sequel, called The River Girl. These form The Hanningdon Magic Series and tell the contemporary story of a village in England that pulls gifted people into its fold. Romance and magic both feature in my work.


A key role in both books is the gypsy Mari Roman, who has magic in her blood. She is the ultimate matchmaker, yet we see mere glimpses. It is her legacy that is potent. I began to wonder where her line of magic stemmed from. Some things write themselves, so a short novella on Mari’s ancestry is on its way. A wee fantasy of births, deaths and sacrifices.

A third book in The Hanningdon Magic Series may happen, but other ideas are in need of exorcism. Various short stories, a book of verse and a radio play are in motion. I’m also halfway through a musical script/novel set in the contemporary world of burlesque. This involves a powerful love triangle teased by an old mystery.

 How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not entirely comfortable with genres. My categories for Kindle are ‘romance/suspense’ and ‘romance/paranormal’, which seemed the closest available. Yet it’s the interweaving of relationships that interests me. The magic is there to enhance, rather than being the plot device. I open pathways from the human mind to secrets in the natural world, to see how an unexpected gift might affect egos, desire and relationships. Hopefully the delicate balance between paranormal activity and the demands of the human heart makes my work different. Hmmm, yes – that sounds good. Let’s leave it at that!

Why do I write what I do?

I always seek the company of ghosts and the gifted in my writing – even with my musical theatre work. I grew up on a mix of romance,sci-fi and fantasy, so influences were in place. Yet there’s a level of realism involved for me. I love a good vampire for example, but haven’t been pulled in that direction as a writer. I want to see what the human mind is capable of on its own. We’ve almost exhausted the possibilities for exploration on planet Earth, but the human mind still taunts us.

How does my writing process work?

I like quiet, but I’ve learnt to block out noise. I share an office with my husband and son, so I’m gypsy in my habits. I travel the house in search of nooks and crannies where I can hide with my laptop. I have notebooks everywhere, full of scratchings. There’s always one by the bed and, as I fall asleep, my mind fixes things. It’s when I close the missing links and I love these tiny triumphs. My beta readers are wonderful and tell me off when I lose the thread. I always write too much and cull to frightening lengths. Treeman lost 30,000 words before launch. I take pride in releasing work that has been carefully tended and probably worry too much. It’s why I don’t blog as much as I should.


ImageMy first intro is for the lovely Carol Marrs Phipps, who writes in collaboration with her husband Tom, all the way from the Land of Niarg. Carol’s warmth and kindness know no bounds and we have developed a kinship that I hope means as much to her as it does to myself. Yet in her work with Tom, she can handle the harshest scenarios with aplomb. No-one is safe in Elf Killers, set in a genocidal world, where brute force holds sway. A fine read. The first book in their Heart of the Staff series, Good Sister, Bad Sister has a lighter touch, but there’s still this wonderful sense of unease. And of course, it introduces the witch Demonica, who I imperiously demanded should provide an encore. I had no need to worry, Carol was grinning as she and Tom released an entire run of books in the series! All of which have phenomenal covers by the way.

elf killers good bad

goreMy second intro is for the masterful Kensington Gore, the infamous Hammered Horror film director whose death has been much exaggerated. Just when you thought it was safe to be tucked up in bed, he’s back to scare the pants off you… along with his writing partners, Graeme Parker and Leesa Wallace. Yet, get to know this rascal and you find a man who cheers other writers on, helps to promote and publish them, and goes to great lengths to build their confidence. His charity venture Twisted Tails presents a collection of animal tales with bite and venom, offering a range of stories from up and coming new writers. Good to see such encouragement Mr Gore – guess you’re not quite as scary as you’d have us believe eh? I recently read his story Robot Love. Set in the future, women have eradicated men and have perfect robot lovers who also do the housework. Don’t fret too much boys, we like you really. A worthy skit on Stepford and a fine romp. I will be embarking on Seasoning of the Witch next and looking out for more from the old master. (He’s fun too.)

 robot love seasoning of the witch twisted tails

Best wishes to everyone in the Writing Process Blog Tour and happy reading to all who visit!

Kaye Vincent

New start, new cover, new book

Okay, sabbatical over. I retreated to finish the sequel to The Treeman…and The River Girl is finally complete! Expect launch at the end of February 2014 (cross my heart). 

Cover art for The River Girl by Kaye Vincent

At long last, I’m free to dip my toes back into the world of blogging – it all feels a bit nippy, like paddling in the sea on a winter’s day. You roll your jeans up with that gleam in your eye, knowing you’ll get wet and chilly – but you can’t resist. Besides, summer’s on its way.

See? I’m an optimistic paddler.

So in advance, here it is. The cover art for The River Girl. Stunning eh? Yeah, I know I’m biased, but she is beautiful isn’t she? She’s not afraid of paddling as you can see.

The designer Michael Horne is a genius and great guy – his patience knows no bounds (follow on twitter: @recantha  – profile: 

Not only did we throw away the first beloved concept (the initial photo cost a small fortune), but on finding another image, Michael had to put up with a fussy author. You know the kind of thing, ‘Wouldn’t it look great if…?’ Thank you Michael for never – not even once – screaming at me. I suspect you may have screamed at the wall occasionally, but you were kind enough not to let me know. 

The end result is a scene from the book – it doesn’t get cooler than that. And I love the fact that this cover leaves the look of the girl to the imagination. Which for this story, is so important – if you read it, you’ll understand why. Her identity belongs to you, not me. Hence the tagline:

Whoever you want her to be

Which started me thinking about why we love to read. It opens up new worlds, but TV, film, theatre and computer games all transport you too. You can leap into any scenario you desire. We’re not dependent on scheduling or tickets any more, as all these options are just a click away. Even theatre is being filmed now and I love having choice at my fingertips. So surely we don’t need written stories with all these other temptations?

Except that a book relies on the imagination of the individual, just like a mysterious cover. No matter how well described, each reader will visualise the story in their own way. Which makes it personal.

A book belongs to the writer in terms of copyright and ownership, but it’s still a creative partnership. Together, the writer and reader develop a world inside the reader’s head. And each reader’s perception of the work is original and intimate. A book is a hundred, or a thousand or even a million different worlds, depending on how many people open that cover and read.

Now that’s a powerful medium.

I shiver with excitement (and trepidation) every time someone tells me they’re about to read The Treeman. I’ll never see what they see in the words – but imagining the world they might create is a heady experience. Ah, the delicate ego of the writer – such a frail little thing. Often carried out to sea when it tries to paddle…!

And here I am again. My new start, with a new cover to draw you in and a new book to open the world you want to create.

May The River Girl tempt you and delight you. She’s quite a girl – but it’s entirely up to you what she looks like…

Read more about The River Girl here.

Fictional crowd control

I spotted a forum comment recently, suggesting novels should limit to nine characters or the reader may not cope. A huge assumption about the capacity of readers, which also binds the writer! (And why nine? Somewhat arbitrary…) Try telling George RR Martin to reduce Game of Thrones to nine characters. Trying telling me that I didn’t enjoy his multitude (or couldn’t cope) – and what of the witty Jilly Cooper with her cheeky social satires, such as Riders and the subsequent Rivals? Her wide mix of characters, and salacious penmanship, hysterically depict the upper classes. Inspiration surrounds us.Russian nesting dolls

So, first rule of this post?…No rules. Other than basic grammar, writers need tools not rules.

From battles with my own fictional crowds, here are my top five tips should your characters keep reproducing like Russian dolls:

Toolkit item 1: Think theatrically

Having written large cast musicals, theatre formats now assist me during book development:

  • Imagine your story has only two hours playing time – it forces you to see it in overview.
  • Create a cast list in order of importance to determine focus. I have to constantly remind myself that a cameo is a cameo is a cameo…
  • Once you know the story arc, block it into playing scenes (grouping chapters if necessary), then map in the characters and examine. Do you lose sight of characters that need to be kept in view? When should characters converge or go solo to support the peaks?

Toolkit item 2: Think telescope

Regardless of the number of characters, let your reader view through a ‘telescope’. The telescope being a selected character, who sometimes presents what they see at a distance and sometimes in close detail. This is a great tool for visualising who holds the primary viewpoint. The telescope can be passed between characters if you wish, but make this clear, eg separate through text breaks or chapters.

Toolkit item 3: Think in groups

Even with limited characters, the action may require a crowd scene. A sudden list of intros can confuse, but a faceless throng may not be enough. A quick way to build an ensemble is to present people as groups, eg the neighbours… an airport queue… Sally’s workmates, etc. Add detail like an impressionist painter – there is no need to do more than necessary to evoke the atmosphere, which leaves you (and the reader), to concentrate on the voices you really want heard.

Toolkit item 4: Think recognition

Names enable the reader to assimilate what is happening to whom. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Yet it’s easy to get carried away on names that ‘feel’ right. In my debut novel The Treeman, I have two brothers called Jay and Jules and two friends called Maeve and Mari. Two J’s and two M’s. No real harm done, but would I go back in time to make more distinct? Yes. Would I amend these now, after publication? Of course not. The characters have become real and would be enraged if I changed their monikers. I couldn’t take the guilt! And my readers would be very confused with the sequel.

Toolkit item 5: Think cause and effect

businessman at workKeep asking why are these people here? If antagonists or witnesses, keep them in the scene. If merely bystanders, remove them.

They’ll get their moment…and if that moment never comes? Well, you are the creator of worlds. Who knows when a discarded character may need resurrecting to a better purpose?

Finally, take a bonus tip directly from Jilly Cooper and George RR Martin. Add a character list to your book. With large casts it can help define families, opposing forces and more. But don’t depend on this – it can help as a checklist, but clarity should be within the text.

Above all, write with your heart. If it’s bursting with characters who have a deserved place in your fictional world – and you feel confident you can maintain crowd control – then ignore the edict of nine. Be rebellious and brave and let them breathe.

You may sleep better at night if you do.

Behind the pages…News flash!

Quick post to raise awareness of a new interview about insights behind The Treeman which you can see at

The lovely Javier Robayo (American author of The Gaze and The Next Chapter) asked me to participate. A great honour as he’s a fantastic writer, with legions of fans. It was a fun exercise and the published dialogue can be seen on the ‘Behind the pages’ section of his blog (see link above). You can see other books he’s featured here too and he’s adding new interviews on a regular basis. Worth a look folks.

Back soon!


Inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes, my crowd control blog coming soon, promise. But an interim post of a video clip, because this is so uplifting you really should listen.  (No – I didn’t select this just because the colours match my blog scheme, honest… Although I have been known to purchase wine because the label matches the napkins. Shallow? Moi? Never. Just no bloody idea about wine.)

Been a little poorly lately and with life interrupted (nothing too serious, but enough to make me climb off the merry-go-round for a short while), I’ve had time to catch up with a few links. I know that with nearly 5 million views, you’ve probably caught this already, but if not, then let me share.

This is unmissable for anyone who writes or provides a creative output of any kind. About 19 minutes in total, but don’t let that put you off. It is worth staying to the end. If you have ever grappled with the sheer untimeliness when inspiration sparks, then listen. If you have even felt daunted or afraid of the spark (“Will it be any good?”…”Will it fail?”) then do yourself a favour and listen. Besides, she’s a very natural, appealing and articulate public speaker. At the very least you will be gently and gracefully entertained for the next short while… And then you will be disappointed to let her go.

Good to bad – or bad to good?

Who does it for you then? As reader or writer, do you get a kick out of a good character that does something bad (perhaps revealed as the villain)? Or are you more satisfied if the wicked reveal a glimmer of good in their soul?

I do quite like a secret villain, but they’re all too easy to spot aren’t they? It’s a bit like shouting out ‘The butler did it..!’ If it’s a mystery, you can usually discard all the creepy, unpleasant characters as red herrings. You know full well the killer’s going to be the reverend’s wife or the smiley paper boy.

Dunkelrote High Heels (Vektor)So, although I love it when I’m genuinely caught out by a secret villain, I have to admit a personal fave of mine is the temptress turned good. And I’m not talking about the tart with a heart here – oh no. I’m looking at the ultimate manhunter. The girl who steals the heroine’s fella and deliberately leaves her satin underwear as a signature. Then – through some spark of compassion or inner angst – she wins a little of your favour at the last moment.

Suddenly you’re praying there’s a sequel so she can have another go. That’s not to say you don’t get a kick out of witnessing her comeuppance, but her inner potential is compelling isn’t it? Think Scarlett O’Hara. Her moments of finer spirit are much more interesting than the predictable niceness of the fragile Miss Melanie. Even if you find it hard to like her, Scarlett’s growth, from flippant brat to determined womanhood, holds such a note of hope.

This presents a challenge for any writer. A two-dimensional out-and-out baddie is jolted into life if you can successfully inject unexpected levels of humanity. We often catch a truer reflection in a dusty window pane than in a gilt mirror.

So give me the bad with a hint of sparkle any day. If you’ve read The Treeman, you’ll know who my bad girl is – Sherbert Shona, the fizzy floozy from Feltham. But I have to confess, allowing her a note of humanity has turned me into a secret villain. Because deep inside, I want the fun of the temptress back…

Contrary is my middle name.

Go on then, your turn. Who’s your most glorious good-to-bad or a brilliant bad-to-good and why?

My next blog will look at writing scenes with a large cast – yep…keyboard crowd control. Watch this space for tips on averting mayhem..!

A date with Clifton…

…or writing lessons from a grasshopper

Welcome to my new blog! Thank you Patty from for the fabulous author branding and all your help. I’ve been working hard on the sequel to The Treeman (called The River Girl), but I’ve been resting from the blogging until I could launch this new site.

Mm-mmm, a new blog and determinedly marching on through the indie author world, head held high and full of hope – just like a grasshopper.

What was that? A grasshopper? Really?


One very handsome grasshopper anyway – called Clifton. An acquaintance during the last days of summer here in the UK (…that one sunny day?).  We met as I drove home from a neighbouring town, in a busy street called Cliftonville…remarkably apt as that’s where Clifton hales from. He kindly alighted on my windscreen, lolloping as though he’d had a beer. Or three. Charming tho’, in a long-legged green kind of way. Probably not one to take home to mom and unlikely to pay for dinner, but very attentive.

As we reached the junction, Clifton wandered out of sight. Hey-ho, I thought. Ta-ta and have a nice flight (…yes, I looked it up, they can fly).

Reaching home , I emerged to find the plucky grasshopper still clinging to the car roof. Impressed by his tenacity I locked the door, but on straightening, my heart twisted slightly. Eyeing me up was our friendly garden robin, in the vain hope I might offer dessert. No little green adventurer, but one full and very contented birdy.

Ah, the wily ways of destiny. Should I rejoice that I had delivered a good feed to our glorious red-breasted robin or regret that grasshoppers have ambition? Soul searching questions as I enjoyed my own supper (relieved that, as a rule, I don’t tend to feast on locusts).

The next day, I returned to Cliftonville and thought fondly of the sassy Clifton. And suddenly, there he was on the screen. Waggling his butt in a cheeky victory dance. Yeah, okay. Maybe this was his brother, Colin. Maybe my original green friend was indeed robin food. But before you write him off, I beg you to forgive the soft musings of a romantic.  I want to believe he endured to return home with glories to chirrup to his clan.

Should I ever get disheartened with the ups and downs of indie publishing, I will remember Clifton’s bravery. Because sometimes it takes a grasshopper to remind an author of the greatest lesson of all. That it’s okay to take a break. Because, only through stepping away from the screen and looking outwards do you find new stories to tell.