S C Cunningham hosting an AuthorsAMA session

Authors AMA - AskMeAnything - Hosted by S C Cunningham LINK HERE

This week I hosted an AuthorsAMA Ask Me Anything Session. LINK HERE

Thank you AMAfeed, I had some interesting insightful questions and thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the AMA members. They put me through my paces a bit, but I survived. Phew!
Marie Khris Torreon
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

The first was a huge learning curve. As writers we have to wear three hats - Writer, Editor, Marketeer. Each of which I tweaked over the years to become more efficient with my time, money and procrastination.

So I guess the answer is it speeded things up, made my writing tighter and taught me the value of editors and social media platforms.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

My writing weakness?

Not enough time in the day to write, to read.

I have lousy grammar, but hey, that's what editors are for. :-)

How do you incorporate romance into a crime book without having it take over the main plot?

As with our hectic lives, no one subject takes over completely, moments run side by side forming a tapestry of survival, stress, love, laughter and fear moments.

I feel it's the same with a story-line, hence I prefer to multi-genre, keeping it real.

Each emotion/subject has its place, its specific hi-lite moments, its reasons for being, no one part need overpower the other, but they may encourage each other.

The heady rush of crime can heighten romance.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Very young, in one of my first ever school essays we were asked to write a whole page on what we did at the weekend. 

My family had spent the day at a very hot and crowded beach. I wrote the line  -

"We got out of Daddy's car and looked out over an ocean of uncontrollable flesh."

The English teacher creased up with laughter. I wasn't sure why, but I learned that day that words could make someone smile 😊

Tommy Wong

How many of your friends bought your book?

I would rather they didnt, some of the work is a little steamy and I dont want them to look at me differently afterwards.  I tend to ask them not to.  But I suspect a few of them have :-)

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Good question, BOTH.

There is a great buzz that comes when a scene is going well. Especially when the words start taking over themselves and I'm just the pen.

After 5-8hrs or so I become mentally exhausted, down tools and reach for a well earned Gin&Tonic with a satisfied grin on my face.

When its going badly I do the same but with a sigh and grumpy face, muttering 'tomorrow is another day.'

Would you like to see any of your books turned into a movie saga or a TV series? Which one?

Yes, having a film/TV adaptation of your work is a great honour.

My ex husband, Raf Ravenscroft, and I co-owned a music to film production company, where we worked with Directors producing soundtracks to their film. I've always had a soft spot for film and admit to writing my books with film in mind; I have to see, hear, smell, taste and feel every scene as if watching a movie. Music is an important lead character in film.

My novel The Penance List has been adapted to film screenplay, it's currently on a desk in LA somewhere and has been given this very kind review ; '

'The Penance List  S I Z Z L E S! An erotic, neurotic, sensual vision that’s rather stunning. Congratulations.'  

It's been suggested that the Fallen Angel Series books would create good three-parter TV series. Am open to both. But with the way TV series are film quality shoots these days and the speed with which they are created, with less chefs involved, I'm erring on the side of TV series.

Laurence MacNaughton

Do you ever feel like your characters take over the story and start telling you what will happen next?

Oh yes... I know it makes me sound crazy but sometimes I wake up with directions they've given me in my sleep.

I gave up planning an outline a long time ago. The story writes itself as I go, dragging me along on its wonderful adventure. Am just the pen holder. 

Good question Laurence, thank you.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with criticism?

Yes, I read them. They give me courage to keep going. Luckily reviews have been good.

Criticism is hard for anyone. I hope that I would take it on the chin like a grown up.

An Author cannot please everyone, but I'll give it a dam good go, and if it's not for you, no problem, next. :-)

Ena Diane Pasa
What would you say is the formula to your success?

Had to think about this one;

  • Long hours, hard work and stubborn attitude.
  • Choosing a subject I adore, feel passionate about.
  • Listening to my gut, readers and editors.
  • Writing what I would want to read/see. I'm not easily entertained, I get bored easy, so the work has to entertain on a few levels, therefore I write multi-genre.
  • Having an understanding daughter, and fun-loving, exercise-needing, cuddlesome dogs
Do you think a person could be a writer if he/she is not passionate or emotionally intense?

I know myself that if I didn't feel passionately about my work I would get bored and not have the energy to research and put the long, lonely, hairpulling, mushroom-living, reclusive hours in. 

I write fiction, it may be different for non-fiction, you are compiling facts. But even then a lot of meticulous effort is needed.

So for me, no.


Any tips you’d like to share with aspiring authors?

Just start.... get pen, paper and do it.

Write a little everyday if you can, to get into the habit.

Write what you feel passionate about, you'll be with this document for a long time, you need to feel the passion to keep going, and not give up, get bored.

Try for an agent/publisher deal if you wish, then self-publish, if the book is a hit the agents and publishers will come running.

Edit, edit, edit and edit again.

Try to keep a work/life balance, dont forget your family, friends and you.

Keep your eyes open and draw inspiration from around you.

Listen to editors, beta readers, learn what works and what doesn't.

Be open to thoughts, opinions and advice, then do it your way.

Don't give up.


Who’s your usual target audience?

The analytics tell me that I  have a fanbase of;

  • Age - 18 to 88 yrs
  • Sex -  55% Male / 45% Female
  • Geographic - 60% USA / 35% UK / 5% Rest of World
  • Genre - Thriller / Romance / Murder Mystry / Paranormal / Suspense 

When writing I'm targeting my own entertainment and that of my friends. I imagine them lying on a beach, on a sofa or travelling, Ensconced in the book, gasping out loud or giggling to themselves. Then turning to the final page wanting more.

Having worked in the music to film industry, I also write with film in mind. The scenes have to be visually tempting to target film directors/producers/cast/financiers.


Are your books always fiction or do you insert some real life experiences here and there?

My books are fiction based on fact, real life experiences sow the seed for them. My characters are drawn from a mix of people I know, have met or studied.

Because I'm lazy, I prefer to write what I know, far less research. :-)

I'm also old and luckily have worked in a few interesting industries to draw upon.

The real life experience that sowed the seed for The David Trilogy  is here.

The real life experience that sowed the seed for The Fallen Angel Series is here.


Is perfect grammar necessary if one wants to become a successful author?

See part of my answer to a previous question;

  • I create storylines, thats my thing. Sadly gramma and spelling are not my strong point. I always say...  'but thats what editors are for, I'm not gonna do them out of a job'. :-) 
  • Editors are an important part or your Author Family, if you can afford it go for it.  I talk more about my Author Family here.

So in a nutshell, no, my bad grammar has not stopped me, it's what an editor is for.

Go forth and shine, create great storylines, thats what writing is about, not darn typo's. :-)

Have you considered blogging or writing short stories as well?


Yes. I have a blog, where I write a load of nonsense and keep readers updated on what I'm up to. It can be seen here.

There is a danger of blog writing taking up too much precious writing time when I should be book writing.


To escape the blood and gore of crime/thriller writing I've written and narrated a short children's story, which can be heard here. The images were created by my artist daughter, Scarlett Raven. 

Short is fun, and I may do more short adult stories in the future.

juel rana
Can you share some tips on how to come up with unique and interesting titles?

Oh my goodness. It's like naming a child or a pet. It's a tough one.

Sometimes you wait to see the new arrival before you can begin to think about naming it. Sometimes it's the first thing that comes into your head before you even write the book. Other times its hard work of trial and error.

I tend to like keeping things short and simple, punchy and bold, with a little mystery, hinting without giving too much away. Something that conjurs up elements of the storyline, gives thought to the reader making them want to know more.

Check out best selling titles in your genre to see what type of names stand out.

One word titles can sometimes get lost in a sea of duplicates when searched, or come up with the topic not your book (however, I have a new book coming out called 'Karma').

Suggestions are - The Protagonist or Antagonists name, or job title. The setting. A hook/question. Quote from a poem, song title, the bible, nursery rhymes, the classics, famous speeches - always check copyright.

If needed change it up a bit by adding a verb or adjective. 

Once you've thought of a name/names, research the net to see if any other books/films/connotations are out there.

You only get a few seconds to demand a potential readers interest. Names and Covers are their first point of contact, make them outstanding.

What are your thoughts about editors? Do you get your books edited by someone else or do you that on your own?

I create storylines, thats my thing. Sadly gramma and spelling are not my strong point. I always say...  'but thats what editors are for, I'm not gonna do them out of a job'. :-) 

Editors are an important part or your Author Family, if you can afford it go for it.  I talk more about my Author Family here.

I can easily get too close to a project, having a trained eye to go over the arc, characterisation, flow etc is a must.

To make sure my British lingo travels across the pond, I sometimes like to use an American editor.

Beta readers are a must also, get a select group of people you trust, who won't bullshit you and are brave enought to tell you it as it is. They resemble your audience, if they don't understand what the hell you're trying to say, then more work needs doing.

My mantra is edit, edit, edit, edit... then edit some more. Each time the lump of coal manuscript gets tightened into a diamond.


Meg Gardiner

Are there any topics or ideas you haven't touched on yet that you're itching to write about?

Hello there Meg, good to talk with a fellow writer. Have a good AMA tour. :-)

Good question - I'm all about good winning over bad, helping the underdog and finding justice with a touch of laughter, romance and suspense thriller. My reason for this is talked about here.

I created The Fallen Angel Series to do just that. The protagonists Jack Mallan and Amy Fox are cheeky kick-ass crime-fighting vigilante Angels who (apart from fighting their own battles) dish out tough karma from the skies.

This concept gives me wonderful opportunity to write about everything and anything on this crazy planet that crosses my WTF radar.

I source world news that gets my goat and think 'hmmm, what would Jack and Amy do in a situation like this?'

Am old, luckily my work history helps give fodder to keep things authentic. Anything that I'm itching to write about I chuck at Jack and Amy and see how they handle it. Giving me a fist-punching 'Yes, back atchya!,' to the baddies.


What’s the best review you’ve gotten so far from readers of your books?

Am blessed and grateful to have many wonderful comments, they are the reason I keep going in my hairpulling over spaghetti-storylines in my mushroom-like reclusive existence as an Author. 

Reviews are life blood, see here for The Penance List and here for The Deal, but the most important was one of the first written by an Author I didnt know, it gave me courage early on to keep going, am SO grateful;

'A hard-hitting, forceful narrative that is about as powerful as anything I've seen, writing doesn't get much better than this. This book is hard to ignore and damn near impossible to stop reading.'

Having worked in the music to film industry, I write with film in mind. The Penance List has been adapted to film screenplay. At this stage only a few have read it. The first of which quoted;

'The Penance List S I Z Z L E S! An erotic, neurotic, sensual vision that’s rather stunning. Congratulations.' 

Thank you, thank you, thank you. x



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