#CrimeWritersInCafesProcrastinating – @Anne_Coates1 reveals her procrastination habits


Today crime writer Anne Coates is joining me for Crime Writers In Cafes Procrastinating. As the title suggests, this feature is all about the lengths writers go to procrastinate when they should be writing, and how they (eventually) manage to win against the temptation of the path of procrastination to finish their books.

Ready for a grilling about her procrastination habits is Anne Coates whose latest crime novel – SONGS OF INNOCENCE – is out now.

Welcome Anne! So tell me all about your latest book – Songs of Innocence?

What a marvelous opportunity to procrastinate by answering your questions, Steph! Songs of Innocence is the third book in the Hannah Weybridge series. Still recovering from the traumatic events of Death’s Silent Judgement (book two), Hannah, a freelance journalist, is asked to help investigate the death of a teenage Asian girl found drowned in Peckham Pond by her family. The police think it’s suicide; her aunt is convinced it is murder. Hannah’s enquiries reveal a trend of Asian girls missing school, or disappearing altogether and someone is determined she will not expose the reason why.

How long did Songs of Innocence take to write?

I started more or less as soon as I’d submitted the second book to my publisher and it took about eight months to write. I remember being on holiday when Matthew Smith, the publishing director of Urbane Publications, contacted me about publishing book three and what was the title? All the books’ titles are linked to a poet or poem I love. I dithered over book three but Blake was my inspiration and so I borrowed part of his own title and a poem I love within it. My deadline was four months away.

What’s your favourite writing/procrastination spot – home, café, bar, other?

People who manage to write in cafés and bars intrigue me. How do they manage to stop people watching and eavesdropping long enough to actually get words onto the screen? Mind you I keep promising myself I’ll go and work in my local with a glass of wine for inspiration! Mainly I work from home although I have been known to write on the bus, especially if I see someone whose characteristics or way of talking I could use for a character. My powers for procrastination are legendary. Unlike some who have to clean the house/rearrange their working space or whatever, I am able to sit and watch the dust accumulate while I look out of a window for inspiration. When I get stuck on something I find changing my writing location helps so I tend to move around the house. However I have three cats who all compete with my laptop for a place to nestle and stroking a feline is very therapeutic.

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?

Frequently when I get stuck on a plot problem, I wish I were more of a planner. However I “jump straight in” but rarely is the first chapter I write the one which appears at the beginning of the finished novel. For my current WIP, the beginning changed several times before I found my way into the story. In Songs I had a very tight time-frame for the narrative which helped with the plotting as all the action takes place in May 1994 and I used some real events to keep a check on the narrative path. Even so I don’t write chronologically so I have to write loads of notes to remind myself of what is happening and what should go before and after.

When you’re writing, do you find you procrastinate more at the beginning, middle or end of the draft, or equally across all three?

Probably equally across all three. At the beginning I spend a lot of time thinking about the plot and characters – this involves pruning the roses, weeding, filing my nails, making cups of coffee, anything rather that actually putting words onto paper. Cups of cold coffee and uneaten snacks indicate when the writing is going well. Towards the end of the first draft I may slow down to postpone the exquisite agony of knowing that I will have to begin rewriting and sorting out plot holes.

Do you prefer first drafts or edits (and why)?

The relief of a finished first draft is second to none. Then at least I have something to work with and on. I do two or three drafts before I start editing and I print out each time to give myself a physical feeling for the MS. I love the last draft/edit as that’s usually when I change the ending for something more extreme. As I don’t plot and plan, characters lead me on sometimes into unknown territory. The finale is often a shock to me – and, I hope, for the reader.

When you’re procrastinating, what’s the activity you turn to most?

Research – pause to polish halo – can lead a writer up and down all manner of highways and byways. Although I prefer to get a first draft written and worry about fact checking and so on at a later stage, I find looking up something or Googling a location can be all it needs to spur me on. I sometimes read reams about a subject and then only a tiny element makes it into the book. Of course, social media (which is how I happened to read about your new series, Steph in the middle of draft one of book four!) can be a huge distraction as can getting immersed in a novel.

Ah yes, very true – social media is a great distraction!

When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice?

I love coffee but, as an insomniac, I avoid it after lunchtime. Then I drink water until it’s an acceptable time to have a G&T or a glass of wine. I’m a terrible snacker and how immersed in my writing I am dictates how healthily I eat. I try to make sure plenty of fruit and nuts are available but sometimes only chocolate will do.

And how do you celebrate the completion of the book (you winning against procrastination)?

The finished book always takes me by surprise somehow. It’s fabulous to see and touch but often it’s the reaction of my daughter and friends that gives it credence. The official launch party of Songs of Innocence was a few days after publication so on publication day we went to a local pub which features in the book and celebrated with Prosecco.

Huge thanks to Anne for being great fun and letting me quiz her about all things procrastination.

Be sure to check out her latest book – SONGS OF INNOCENCE.

Click on the book cover below to view it on Amazon UK…


If you’re looking for a new read, two of my Lori Anderson bounty hunter thrillers are 99p/99c on Amazon Kindle until the end of the month, and they’d make great fast-paced beach reads for your summer holidays.


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DEEP DOWN DEAD: Book 1 in the Lori Anderson bounty hunter thriller series is available on Kindle in the US & Canada for the bargain price of 99c until the end of June.

A finalist for the eDunnit ebook of the Year award, Dead Good Reader Choice Most Fearless Female Character award, and a nominee for the ITW Best First Book Award at Thrillerfest next month – it’s a fast-paced, high octane thriller perfect for fans of Lee Child, Zoe Sharp and Alexandra Sokoloff. Find out more on Amazon by clicking here: DEEP DOWN DEAD


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DEEP BLUE TROUBLE: Book 2 in the Lori Anderson thriller series sees single mom bounty hunter, Lori, return to take an off-the-books job from FBI Special Agent Monroe to track down an escaped convict heading for Mexico. Full of action and suspense, Deep Blue Trouble has been getting fabulous reviews from readers, reviewers and bloggers in the UK and beyond.

Perfect for fans of Mason Cross, Lee Child, and Zoe Sharp, you can grab it now in the UK Kindle store for just 99p until the end of June. Find out more on Amazon UK by clicking here: DEEP BLUE TROUBLE

#CrimeWritersInCafesProcrastinating – Howard Linskey reveals his procrastination habits! #TheChosenOnes

Today is the first of a new regular feature – Crime Writers In Cafes Procrastinating! As the title suggests, it’s all about the lengths writers go to procrastinate when they should be writing, and how they (eventually) manage to win against the temptation of the path of procrastination to finish their books.

First up for a grilling about his procrastination habits is the fabulous Howard Linskey whose latest crime novel is published this week.

Welcome, Howard! So tell me all about your latest book – The Chosen Ones…

Thanks Steph. Great to be here. ‘The Chosen Ones’ begins when a young woman called Eva wakes inside a large metal box with no idea how she got there. She understands she is being held captive but has no idea why. Investigative journalists, Tom Carney and Helen Norton, team up with Detective Sergeant Ian Bradshaw to investigate her disappearance and quickly learn that this is not the first time women have been taken but what links Eva to cases from almost two decades earlier and how can they possibly find her?

You can read more about it here: http://www.howardlinskey.co.uk/work#/the-chosen-ones/

How long did The Chosen Ones take to write?

The best part of a year, which is normal for me. I usually start writing a new book in January, just as the editing process draws to a close on the previous one. I’ve then got eight months to turn in a first draft by the end of August that’s usually around 100,000 words or so. My editor and literary agent will read it and send me some notes then I’ll do a second and third draft, or even a fourth before I’m fully happy with it. By the end of the calendar year it’s almost done then the process starts all over again!

What’s your favourite writing/procrastination spot – home, café, bar, other?

All three! I mostly work from home and aim to begin once my daughter has gone off to school but in reality, I start with coffee, breakfast, the Times newspaper and internet-based distractions, while I sit in the conservatory at the back of our house and enjoy the sunshine, if there is any. I also have to remember to feed the squirrels. Wild ones visit our garden daily and they expect breakfast, to the consternation of our dog. It can be mid-morning by then and I’ll suddenly panic and get down to some actual writing. After a couple of days in the house, I get stir crazy and venture out. There’s a good café in my town and I’ll have lunch there while ‘plotting’, which sounds sinister but I mean it in a book sense. My favourite place to procrastinate though is the pub. Sitting with a pint of bitter and your lap top, writing away in a quiet corner of a pub during the day time feels like playing truant from life. I don’t do it often but when I do my venue of choice is the White Horse in Old Welwyn Village. They even opened up early for me once, so I could be filmed there for the true crime series ‘Written In Blood’. The viewers probably think I’m an alcoholic.

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?

I do a little bit of planning up-front but I’d be lying if I said it was very detailed and most of this is in my head rather than on pages of notes. In the early stages I like to get some words down and write scenes that are likely to end up in the finished book, hoping that one scene will lead to another. I don’t write chronologically either but do the bits I am in the mood for then curse myself months later, as I wade through thousands of words that are quite literally in the wrong order. I end up putting them together again somehow. I have no idea why I write like this. It makes no sense at all but somehow it works for me and the books are always well received, thankfully.

When you’re writing, do you find you procrastinate more at the beginning, middle or end of the draft, or equally across all three?

Definitely at the beginning. As I race towards a deadline, the procrastination is inevitably replaced by panicked, guilt-ridden bursts of activity, where the word count climbs faster than usual. I used to be a reporter, so I have a journalist’s respect for deadlines and I’ve never missed a single one, which isn’t bad after numerous drafts for eight books.

Do you prefer first drafts or edits (and why)?

I quite like doing the second draft, if I feel like I am going in the right direction. That first hundred thousand words grants you a certain amount of freedom with your writing but there’s always a stage where I start to severely doubt myself and the book. That’s natural and I push on through past it to the finish line. There is always quite a bit to be fixed and I do that with the second draft but by then I will have had some positive feedback from my editor and agent, which spurs me on. By the end of the book, I am sick of the sight of it as I will have been over and over the words countless times and will need several weeks away from it by then. My enthusiasm returns once I see the final copy. It always hits me then that something I dreamed up has been worked on, edited, printed and published until it’s a real book with my name on the cover.

When you’re procrastinating, what’s the activity you turn to most?

Reading. I get distracted by research in the early days, so I’ll start with articles on line. I can lose hours doing that and it goes way beyond research that I can actually use. I had to learn a bit about underground bunkers for my new book and started researching them. An article about a bunker could then lead to one about the Cold War then what a bad guy Stalin was and how he almost lost the Second World War? Then, before I know it, I’m reading articles about Hitler’s inner circle and what happened to them all, which has nothing to do with my novel. Cue guilt, panic and a writing frenzy to make up for lost time till I get back on track again.

When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice?

Coffee is a necessity, particularly first thing in the morning. I’ve got one of those capsule machines that delivers a small cup of very good coffee with a strong enough kick to wake my brain up. I try and avoid snacks because I have too much of an addictive personality for them. If I put a packet of Hobnobs next to my lap top they would all be gone by the time I’d written a thousand words and there would be chocolatey finger prints on my keyboard. I make sure I have a decent breakfast though and a good lunch, because hunger is too distracting and I have enough distractions already.

And how do you celebrate the completion of the book (you winning against procrastination)?

At some point, on publication day or when the box of finished books arrives at my home, I will open a bottle of champagne. I think something that takes a year of very hard work to complete deserves it, don’t you?

Huge thanks to Howard for being a great sport and letting me quiz him about all things procrastination.

Be sure to check out his great new book – THE CHOSEN ONES.

Click on the book cover below to view it on Amazon UK. It’s a bargain at 99p on kindle at the moment…

CTG’s #threewordbookreview – THE MIDNIGHT LINE by LEE CHILD


Today’s three word ‘micro’ book review features the latest in the fantastic (and certainly not micro) Jack Reacher series – THE MIDNIGHT LINE – by Lee Child.


(That’s five words you say? Yeah, yeah. So I slipped in a couple of cheeky hyphens – my blog, my rules!)

The Midnight Line is out now from Transworld. To find out more and buy the book click the cover below and hop over to Amazon:

#MyLittleBookEvent 18th April in Waterstones Covent Garden – please come along! #MyLittleEye

On the 18th April I’ll be talking about My Little Eye at the lovely Waterstones Covent Garden bookstore and you’re all invited!

Come and listen to me chatting with my fabulous editor Sam Eades, hear me read a little snippet from My Little Eye and have a browse of the gorgeous paperback edition with a glass of wine and some yummy goodies.

The event is free but space is limited so be sure to reserve your ticket here

Hope to see you on the 18th!

My Little Eye Event

#MyLittlePodcast is out – listen to episodes one and two now! #MyLittleEye


Fancy finding out more about the facts behind the fiction?

In the run up to my latest book – MY LITTLE EYE – being released in paperback I’m hosting a podcast series (as my alter ego Stephanie Marland) talking to police, social media, and crime fiction experts. The first two episodes are live over on SoundCloud now.

In episode one I talk to specialist firearms officer Rob about true crime, policing, and what it’s like to work in a specialist team.

In episode two I’m talking to Dr Christopher J Carter an Associate Professor who specialises in social media ethics and online behaviour. You can listen to us chatting about social media behaviour, online identity, graphic novels, and the rise of deep fakes.

Click the link to go to SoundCloud and listen to Episode 1 and 2, plus a bonus feature – an extract of the My Little Eye audiobook! ->