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Trastevere…stomping ground of Milo Peretti – Rome’s newest private detective.

Trastevere (Tras-TEV’-eh-reh) is the 13th rione or district of Rome and the home of Milo Peretti, the private detective and main character in my mystery novella, Blood Will Tell. The rione is separated from Rome’s centro storico (historical centre) by the river Tiber, hence the name Trastevere or ‘across the Tiber’.

Tiber

Known for its maze of narrow cobbled streets and the medieval houses that line them, Trastevere is one of the most quintessentially Roman neighbourhoods. To many tourists, this is what Rome is all about. Even the Trasteverini themselves claim that their neighbourhood is the true heart of city and it doesn’t take long to see what they mean. There’s definitely something distinctively vibrant about the place.

Street

Trastevere is a feast for the senses. The colour of the buildings – from terracotta to sky blue, from golden maize to rose wine; all draped in ivy and dotted with window boxes. The rattle and buzz of Vespas as they fly down the street. The freshly washed bed sheets hung out to dry on lines stretched above the streets between apartment windows.

Washing

The air filled with the rich smell of roasted coffee beans and of freshly baked pizza. And later on, the arrival of the street entertainers, artists and poets add to the Bohemian atmosphere.

Street2

Then, open air dining in front of an ancient trattoria, old men playing cards and young lovers strolling arm in arm through a lamplit piazza. This is Trastevere.

Lamp

(Photo credits: Daniele Zedda, Mozzercork, Debs-eye, The Wolf and technologic)

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Blood Will Tell… Now *FREE* on Kindle!

BLOOD WILL TELL – a short Milo Peretti mystery – is finally available to download for FREE on Kindle!

Download HERE for KINDLE (UK) and HERE for KINDLE (U.S.).

Blood Will Tell is the prequel to the Milo Peretti mystery series…

MILO PERETTI is back in Rome to take over the running of his late uncle’s detective agency. When the body of a businessman is found at an office nearby in Trastevere, the grieving mother refuses to believe her son took his own life. But with the Polizia di Stato preparing to close the case as suicide, will Peretti ever really uncover the truth? And will justice ever be done?

Blood Will Tell


Blood Will Tell…update

Here’s a quick update on where I am on current projects.

Blood Will Tell, the novella which begins the Milo Peretti mystery series will be coming to a Kindle near you very soon… As in, a ‘this week’ kind of very soon! Links to follow. Here’s a sneak preview of the cover:

bloodwilltell

I’m currently working on the first full Milo Peretti novel. The working title is The Colour of Weeping. It will be out in 2014 but I can’t wait to share it with you all! Watch this space.


Creative Constipation…Ten Tips for Getting Things Moving Again.

So you’re stuck. Banging your head against a literary brick wall. Here are a few pointers to hopefully get the words flowing again…

1. Get off the Internet!

Seriously… I know it’s been said countless times already but it’s worth repeating. Mainly because it’s so true. And I know how important building a ‘platform’ is but the Twitterverse will still be there when you get back. I promise. But if you’re really desperate download Buffer and line up a few tweets for when you’re offline. Everyone’s allowed to be too busy sometimes.

2. Go somewhere quiet.

If you don’t have an actual cabin in the woods for when you need some undisturbed writing time then make your own virtual private writing space. Put some headphones on. Find some mood music (without words) to listen to and leave the world of endless distractions and ‘things to do’ behind for a while.

3. Relax.

Pressure is not good for creativity. It might increase productivity but are they always the same thing? Try to put any ‘real life’ problems to the back of your mind – at least while you write. Fiction is all about escapism. That applies to writing as much as it does to reading.

4. Stop overthinking.

As with pretty much everything else you’ll ever do, trying to force writing just won’t work. If you find yourself staring blankly at the screen, unable to see past the last sentence you’ve written then STOP. Take a deep breath, put whatever preconceived notions you have out of your head and start afresh. More often than not you’ll find there was a much better solution to the problem than the square peg you were trying to force into that round hole…

5. Visualize.

When you come to a scene, play the film of what you want to happen in your mind. Imagine it as realistically as you can. Faces, smells, feelings… Then let the film run on. See where it goes and follow it.

6. Don’t be afraid to change things.

We’ve all been there. That favourite line or phrase you can’t bear to cut out but the scene just isn’t working with it in. My rule of thumb is ‘If in doubt, take it out’. I can’t tell you how many times something I thought was brilliant was actually the blockage. You remove it and the whole thing starts flowing again. I know this is your baby but try not to be too precious about it. When you send your story out to the big bad world, you want it in the best shape you can get it. If that means being ruthless then so be it.

7. Stand back.

Sometimes when things aren’t quite working out you need a change of perspective. Take a mental step back and look at the big picture of the plot. Where do you want the story to go? Is what you trying to write helping to take it there? If the answer’s no then look for a new route. Retrace your steps to where it went wrong and try again.

And when you’re really stuck…

8. Take a break.

Do something different. Put the story to one side. Go and work on something else. Write some flash fiction or a short story. Anything to get your creative juices flowing again. The important thing is to keep writing. But there’s no point staring at a screen for hours if nothing is coming.

9. Revisit earlier writing.

Maybe earlier on in the manuscript. Something else you’re proud of. Find examples of stories and plotlines that you fixed in the past and note the changes you made. Try to learn from your previous mistakes.

10. Read.

Sometimes you can get buried so deep into your own work that you forget the world is bigger than just you and your story. I know how easy it is to convince yourself that you’ve not got time. You’re too busy writing. Reading other authors’ work will broaden your mind and help develop your own writing skills. It was Stephen King who said, ‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.’ Take time to appreciate and learn from the best.

Now go and write. And whatever you do – remember to have fun!

D.B.


Finding Your Voice – Tips for Writers

‘Voice is the je ne sais quoi of spirited writing. It separates brochures and brilliance, memo and memoir, a ship’s log and The Old Man and the Sea. The best writers stamp prose with their own distinctive personality; their timbre and tone are as recognizable as their voices on the phone. To cultivate voice, you must listen for the music of language – the vernacular, the syntactic tics, the cadences.’ – Constance Hale

This quote from Constance Hale (author of books on language: Sin and Syntax and Wired Style) is one of my favourites. And she’s so right. Voice is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of your writing. The fact is that voice is the expression of who you really are. Not just as a writer but as a human being – your character, your personality, the you part of you. So there’s very little point in trying to create a voice. You’ll just end up sounding like you’re talking with an affected accent. The point is we all have a voice. It may be well hidden by the barriers we put up to stop others seeing what we’re really like inside but it is there nonetheless. Finding your voice requires a brutal honesty about yourself and a willingness to lay bare your inner character, warts and all.

So it really is that simple… All you have to do is answer one of the most profound and fundamental questions anyone can ever ask – Who am I? Voice has been described as being somewhere between your conscious and your subconscious mind. When who you are (subconscious) comes through in your writing more than who you think you are or who you want to be (conscious), it’s in that moment that you can begin finding your voice. The result should be a more natural and authentic writing style.

The good news is that this is something you can practise. I don’t mean that you should try and change your natural voice but in order to discover the real you and let it have its say, there are things you can do to help the process on its way. Here are my tips:

1. Read as much as possible.

Read everything you can get your hands on. Fiction, non-fiction, books you would naturally choose and books that are out of your comfort zone. Read different genres and styles and most importantly read books by great writers. Read the classics and read the best of the new. Listen for the distinctive voice of the best writers and you’ll be better equipped to listen for your own. Take particular note of the writing that resonates with you personally as your own writing should feel the same way.

2. Write about your life.

I’m not saying you should write your memoirs but personal writing exercises are a good way to explore what makes you tick and improve your writing skills into the bargain. Have brainstorming sessions on different subjects. Memories, favourite places, faces, dreams, things that scare you, things that make you smile. Just write down the first words that come to mind and then pick one of them to write about. Don’t worry about a story or word counts. Just write and see where it takes you.

3. Write something different.

Broaden your horizons. Try your hand at writing something new. Have a go at writing in a unfamiliar genre. Crime, science fiction, fantasy, romance, anything outside your comfort zone. Pick one you’ve never done before and give it a go.

4. Step outside your own little world.

Try writing from someone else’s viewpoint for a change. Write about something you have strong views on but write from the opposite point of view. This is an excellent way to get inside your own head and challenge your own thought processes.

5. Write about the things you care about.

Just forget about target readerships for a moment and write about the things that mean something to you. It may be that nobody other than you ever reads what you’ve written but then again it may be the best work you’ve ever produced. Either way this is the only way you’re going to be able to write anything worth reading. If you’re not gripped by your subject then you shouldn’t expect your readers to be overly excited either.

6. Try not to think about voice.

Don’t force the issue. There’s no quick fix here. Voice is something that needs to develop naturally.

7. Write, write write and then keep on writing.

When a child is learning to talk they will become fluent much more quickly by talking as much as possible. The same is true of finding your voice in writing. You will write some rubbish. OK, a lot of rubbish. But just keep writing. Write as much as possible, practise your craft in whatever way you can and then as you become more fluent in your chosen language, your voice should become progressively clearer. You should be able to look back at what you’ve written and find out who the you part of you really is.

8. Keep it real.

This is the only way your voice will ever be authentic. Be natural, write from the heart and don’t try to be anything or anyone you’re not. Believe me, readers will spot a fake from a mile off. So the most important thing is to just be yourself. And always remember the wise words of Dr Seuss himself – There’s no-one alive who is Youer than You.

Happy writing!

D.B.