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Thursday 4 May 2023

Audiobooks - Why Has It Taken Me So Long to Publish?


I have been a writer for more years than I like to remember. Let’s just say I’ve been scribbling for decades. I’ve won major book awards and published eleven books, nine fiction and two nonfiction, and a lot of people like to read them.

I publish both paperbacks and eBooks, so why has it taken me so long to think about audiobooks.

Well, when I say I hadn’t been thinking about this, it is not actually true. You see, I have been thinking about turning my books into audiobooks for quite a long time. I even at one point tried to narrate my own audiobook.

How difficult can it be to narrate my own book?

Now, as you know, I have a technical frame of mind, even to the extent I build my own computers. So, the technicalities of producing an audiobook weren’t beyond me. However, my confidence in the narration side of things was a totally different matter. So, although I narrated one book, I never had the courage to upload it. I had to think of my other options, and that was when it became difficult.

Job done - the computer build is finished

So, apart from doing it myself, what are the other options? Only two spring to mind:

  • 1)    Pay a narrator to narrate the book; quite a costly exercise, particularly if you have several books and want to finance the audiobooks from the money you make from your business as an author. And believe me, unless your name is Stephen King or JK Rowling, you don’t make that much money from writing. Most authors don’t even earn the minimum wage from their writing.
  • 2)    Or enter into a royalty share deal with a narrator, which is the cheapest way to do it. But, of course, you then have to split the royalties you earn from the audiobook with your narrator, plus it ties you to ACX for seven years, and it was that last bit I baulked at. I never like to tie myself to exclusive contracts. I prefer to go wide even though Amazon and Audible are the major sellers of books of all kinds. I just don’t like to be tied down. That was probably the main reason I parted from my traditional publisher as well. I prefer my freedom. Freedom to make my own decisions, whether they turn out to be right or wrong.

Several years passed after I first thought about producing my own audiobooks and it was always the cost which got in the way. And there was no way I was going to finance this with a loan. I have an abhorrence of debt!

Then Covid struck, and we all went into lockdown. All my conferences were cancelled so I had fewer expenses. Conferences can be quite costly each year, particularly when you frequent the bigger ones, like Crimefest at Bristol, Theakston’s at Harrogate, Bloody Scotland at Stirling, and the CWA conferences. You can spend a ton of money going to all of these and now I had an excess of funds going spare, so you can guess how I invested them.

Yes, you are right. I found a lovely narrator, Angela Ness, and got my first audiobook commissioned, closely followed by the next two. So, now I have three audiobooks on sale and waiting for my readers, or should I say listeners, to find them. And I’m saving up to get the next one done.

In the end, it wasn’t too difficult to make this decision. I had far fewer expenses by staying away from my usual conferences and I didn’t miss them as much as I thought I would. As a result, I’ve sworn off conferences until I make all my books into audiobooks so that my readers/listeners can reap the benefit.

In conclusion, I’m glad I took the leap into audiobooks and if you happen to have an unused Audible credit lying around (hint, hint), it would be great if you gave my audiobooks a try, and don’t forget to let me know what you think of my narrator.

Until the next time.

Chris Longmuir


Amazon author page

Audible author page



Wednesday 8 March 2023

Breaking News - Val Penny has Written a New Book


Most of you who know me are aware that I’m an avid reader. I gulp books down like there is no tomorrow, and it’s no wonder because at the last count, I had 1,422 eBooks in my Kindle and 133 audiobooks lodged in my phone and I daren’t count the number of paperbacks and hardbacks that seem to be holding up the walls of my house. I’ve never been really good at maths but even I know I’ll need several lifetimes to get through that lot.

That makes prioritisation important when selecting my next read, and that means I turn to my favourite authors first. And, when one of my favourite authors publishes a new book that tends to increase my stock of books to get through and I never know whether to cheer or cry. All I know is that I’ve got to get it.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, it’s simple really, Val Penny has just published her new book The First Cut and I really, really want it.

If you would like it read it as well, you can buy it at Amazon

Here is the blurb to The First Cut and I’d lay bets it will whet your appetite.

It's hard to escape a brutal past.

A vicious killer is on the loose and victims include an academic and members of Edinburgh's high society.

DS Jane Renwick is banished to the sidelines of the case and forced to look on impotently when the hunt for the killer ramps up, because the Murder Investigation Team finds out that the killer is her relative.

Has someone from Jane's birth family returned to haunt her? Is one of her relatives involved? Where will the killer strike next?

This gripping police procedural is set in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The exciting novel is the first in Val Penny's new series of Scottish thrillers.


Now you’ve had the taster, here is a wee excerpt:

“Don’t know that name, but there’s nobody else here right now. I’m working. Please just go away.”

He felt the blow of dismissal, like everybody had always dismissed him. How dare they? How dare he? This foreigner didn’t even belong here. None of them did. None of them deserved the time of day, never mind the air they breathed. He would soon stop all that.

He smiled and took a few steps into the room.

“What you busy with? It’s late to be working.” He walked around the desk, took out his blade, and punched it into his victim’s carotid artery with practised precision. He dragged the blade across the neck to slice the artery, a quick second slice to make sure, but the first cut was the deepest. He made no errors, no mistakes. There was no hesitation. His victim stared at him, clutching his throat as the life blood ran out of him. All over the desk, all over the laptop computer, all over the important work that had required his dismissal. The blood sprayed over the desk, spattered the bookcase and into his mouth. That tinny, metallic taste he had come to enjoy. He would need to wipe his face before he left the room. It was a lucky break that he had a packet of tissues.

He smiled as his victim held his neck, the struggle, the gurgle, the death rattle of the man who tried to hold the life sustaining liquid in his body. They all did that. Again, ridiculous. It would never work. Not for long. It splashed through his fingers and onto the floor. That carpet hadn’t been up to much before, and it wasn’t worth shit now.

The man flopped over the desk. He wondered if that action had broken the laptop. Not that he really cared, the computer would come with him anyway. He grimaced. Having to rummage through the bloody pockets to get the phone was nasty, but he didn’t want to leave anything behind. Good! Got it first time. A decent one. It would get a bob or two.

He chuckled as he thought how confusing this would be, because this one didn’t fit with the profiles of the other victims at all. It wasn’t possible, this one had nothing to do with anything. Maybe it was a good thing he had missed her. Good name he came up with too, Joy Tuesday. Pity nobody would ever know or be able to share it. Poor Policeman Plod. This one would make no sense, yet they would have to make it fit.

He left as quietly as he had come, laptop under one arm, phone in his pocket, bloody blade in his belt. Then he saw her, the right fucking woman, whatever her name was, he couldn’t remember now because of the excitement. The green flash at the front of her hair was quite endearing. This evening, she had had a lucky escape, but he would be back.

Edinburgh Castle

And if you don’t know Val Penny, here is a wee bit about her:

Val Penny

Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat.

 Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll take my leave. I have a new book to read.

Chris Longmuir

The First Cut by Val Penny

Chris Longmuir's Website

Chris Longmuir's Amazon Page

Thursday 2 February 2023

I Lost a Good Friend when Eileen Ramsay Passed Away


It was with great sadness that I learned Eileen Ramsay had passed away. Among the many Scottish writers that I now rub elbows with, she was my first friend in the writing community. That was way back in 1989. And she was a good friend who provided me with a great deal of encouragement to embark on my own writing career, but I was not the only writer she helped. There were many others.

Eileen led an interesting and varied life. She was born in the southwest of Scotland and had ambitions to write from an early age. However, like many writers before her, she decided this was an unattainable aim and became a teacher. Once she qualified, she left Scotland to teach in the USA for a year and stayed for 18 years. Her pupils were the children of famous people and politicians, and she was employed by Senator McCarthy and his wife in 1968 to tutor and care for their children while they were away campaigning on the presidential trail.

Eileen always refused to write about this time of her life and the people she knew and worked with, but I loved her little anecdotes, like the time she was travelling in a limousine and had to sit on Dustin Hoffman’s knee because there were too many people in the car. Eileen was a very attractive lady, and I’m sure Dustin must have enjoyed having her perched on his knee.

Apart from this, she spent time in California and Mexico, as well as Washington DC, and she always had a deep affection for Mexico.

On her return to Scotland, she taught in Dundee for several years and wrote novels at the same time. Her routine was to arise at 4 am to write before starting work. She always told a story against herself about her decision to do this. At a conference she’d heard a famous writer say that was how she worked so Eileen thought if she can do it so can I. It was many years later when in conversation with this writer she found out that she had been joking and she had never risen as early as that to write. But it worked for Eileen because she published many novels over those years. To say she was successful is an understatement. She wrote historical sagas and romances under her own name, and novels set during the second world war under the pseudonym of Ruby Jackson.

During her writing career, she won many awards, including both the Scottish Association of Writers’ Pitlochry and Constable trophies and the Romantic Novelist Association’s Elizabeth Goudge Award. She was on the committee of the Society of Authors in Scotland for six years, four of which she served as secretary. She was also vice president of the Scottish Association of Writers for several years and was the Chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Society between 2015 to 2017.

Over many years, we attended and shared a room at a variety of conferences, and I still treasure the book she signed for me which said ‘My pyjamas are nicer than your pyjamas’. I shall miss her.

Eileen and Chris at SAW Conference at Crieff Hydro

I pay tribute to Eileen Ramsay, a very talented and successful author whom I am proud to have called a friend.

Chris Longmuir


Amazon Author Page

Saturday 31 December 2022

Happy New Year for 2023


Happy New Year to all my friends, readers and acquaintances. In the Scottish tradition, 'Lang may your lum reek wi' ither folk's coal.' I hope you have your bottle and your lump of coal ready for first footing. Not forgetting the shortbread and black bun. New Year wouldn't be the same without a wee dram.

Now that we are ready, I'll raise my glass and wish you the very best New Year and drink to your health.

May the coming year bring you health, happiness and success in all you do.

Happy New Year



Amazon author page

Monday 26 December 2022

Happy Christmas Now we're Heading Back to Normal Living


Happy Christmas to all my friends and readers. By this time the presents will have been opened and the turkey eaten (I'm a wee bit late this year), and I hope you all had a wonderful time.

I spent Christmas day with my Granddaughter and her family and we had a lovely time. The meal was delicious, the pressies were great and very welcome, and the games were dafter than ever. I'm told one of my Pictionary drawings was quite rude although I didn't see it because we're not allowed to look at the screen when we're drawing our pictures in the air. I'll just have to take their word for it.

Anyway, now I'm relaxing on Boxing Day there is now time to catch up on all the undone tasks. Did I say relaxing? Scrap that.

And tomorrow, I've pencilled in, finish checking book 3 of the Dundee Crime Series for my audio narrator, and get back to the book I'm writing. That's an exaggeration, not much writing has been taking place, So, it's time to get the finger out and get back to work.

Happy Christmas everyone.



Amazon Author Page

Thursday 13 January 2022

Brechin Muckle Market Resurrected


There is something about a market that is irresistible and I’m sure, like me, many of you make a beeline for markets wherever in the world you are, whether that be a Moroccan Souk, a middle east bazaar, or a local farmers’ market. I’ve bought jewellery from market stalls in Italy, Malta, Spain, and many other places. I still have silver earrings I bought in Yugoslavia a few years before war ravaged the country. In case I haven’t mentioned it, I have a weakness for earrings.

St Jacob's Market, Canada

The largest market I’ve visited over the past few years was St Jacob’s Market in Ontario, Canada. If any market deserved the name of muckle market, it is surely this one with masses of outside stalls where a wanderer could easily get lost and an indoor market on two levels. Food and produce downstairs and crafts and artisan goods upstairs. A market-goers paradise.

St Jacob's Market outdoors

St Jacob's market, Crafts section upstairs. An Aladdin's cave of goodies.

I love to wander around markets whether they are indoors or outdoors. The stalls vary from those selling food to the ones selling all kinds of crafts. And you can always tell when you’re in the vicinity of the fish stall by the smell.

Some indoor markets nearer to home, like the ones in Bristol and Newcastle, are permanent fixtures. The stalls trading in much the same way as the shops on the High Street. And, if they’ve ever visited it, who could ever forget The Barras, Glasgow’s outdoor market. Then there are the markets which set up frequently, some once a month like the various farmers’ markets up and down the country. Some more seasonal, like the Edinburgh Christmas Market and the various town markets marking specific dates like the Valentine’s Muckle Market taking place the week before Valentine’s Day in Brechin, Angus. In case you don’t know where that is, it’s in Scotland.

Entrance to The Barras, Glasgow

Brechin recently resurrected the Muckle Market largely through the efforts of Glen Grant and his team of volunteers. They set one up at Christmas and it was fantastic. It was in the Mechanics Hall in Brechin and spread out over two floors of the building. An ambitious undertaking that was highly successful.

So, what is a Muckle Market? Well, muckle is an old Scots word that means big, and the original Muckle Market referred to a historical market that was held regularly. So, basically it just means a big market.

Brechin has had markets since the Middle Ages. The right to have a market in Brechin was originally granted by King David 1, who reigned from 1124 to 1153 and this right was confirmed by William the Lion. This privilege to hold a market was granted and confirmed by repeated charters over the years and the burgesses of Dundee and Montrose were prohibited from ‘troubling the merchants of Brechin’. So, Brechin markets were exclusively for Brechin merchants.

Over the following years, as well as the Muckle Market there were various markets in Brechin, one for farmers, initially at the Prentice Neuk and then at Park Road, which would be mainly livestock; the horse market at Clerk Street; the Timber Market, frequented by Highlanders, at Market Street; and not forgetting the Trinity Market, locally known as the Taranty market, established in 1819. This market ran for many years, and I remember visiting it in the 1960s when it was still going strong and had a range of amusements as well as stalls.

Market at the Mercat Cross, Brechin

As for the Muckle Market. This was originally in St Ninians Square, a short distance from the railway station. As its name suggests, it was a big market. It was also a hiring or feeing market. This was where farm workers came to sell their services to the highest bidders. The farmers looking for ploughmen and dairy maids would come to inspect what was on offer. The women would line up at one side and the men at the other to be inspected by the farmers looking for workers. Once a deal was struck, the worker would be hired for a year or half-year. I can’t help feeling it must have been a somewhat similar experience to that of slaves being put on display at a slave market.

Brechiners meeting at the Mercat Cross, the main hub of the town

Although the main business at these markets was the hiring of workers, it was also a day out with amusements and stalls and, on the completion of business, attention would turn to sampling everything on offer.

Mechanics Institute, Brechin. New hub for the Muckle Market

As I said previously, the revival of the Muckle Market in Brechin at Christmas was an all-round success and I’m now looking forward to the Valentine’s market which takes place on Saturday 5th February and Sunday 6th February at the Mechanics Hall in Brechin, with all sorts of goodies on offer. And I assure you that with over 32 stalls in the building it will live up to the name of Muckle Market, although I can’t guarantee we’ll be hiring out ploughmen or dairymaids.

Check out the Brechin Muckle Market Facebook page and see what it’s all about.

Chris Longmuir


Amazon Author page


Friday 31 December 2021

Have a great Hogmanay and a Happy New Year


Tonight, I’ll be the despair of all my Scottish ancestors. I’ll be going to my bed and sleeping the old year out and the new year in. I won’t even stay up to hear the bells and drink the toast to welcome the new year. When you’re the only one in the house, there seems little point. Not like the old days when we might go on the razzle for days on end.

Why should it matter? Well, in Scotland Hogmanay and New Year have always been the biggest celebration. Far bigger than Christmas. In fact, Christmas was never an official holiday in Scotland until about 1958. It was only after that date Scots were allowed a day off work at Christmas and that has built up over the intervening years to be the same as the English holidays, two official days. But New Year has always had its full quota of holidays.

When I was a child, everyone worked on Christmas Day, but like most other children in Britain, Santa did come on Christmas Eve and we hung our stockings up, hoping for them to be filled. But I recall some children who did this at New Year, particularly if their parents were from the older generation.

I suppose the situation in Scotland was a hangover from the Scottish Protestant Reformation, John Knox and all that jazz. In fact, Christmas was banned in the sixteenth century due to the views of influential reformers that it was a Popish or Catholic feast.

So, back to Hogmanay and the New Year, the biggest Scottish celebration when everyone celebrates with a dram. Being Scots, alcohol and celebration go hand in hand.

It was certainly a riotous time when I was in my teens. Everyone bought a bottle, even the girls. The men would have their whisky or rum, maybe both, if they had enough money, while the girls settled for port or sherry and, in some cases, if you really wanted to splurge, cherry brandy.

Armed with our bottles, we would sally forth before midnight to the town square to wait for the bells. When midnight tolled (the bells), bottles would be opened and offered to all and sundry. Everyone taking a swig from the bottle offered. No concerns about germs in those days. We would link arms, sing, dance, and kiss strangers. Thinking about it, an orgy couldn’t have done any better.

This would go on for about half an hour and then we would be off to first foot all and sundry. In those days, people kept open house for any reveller who knocked on their door. You were meant to first foot people with a gift of some sort, a lump of coal preferably for luck, although most young folk just offered a swig from their bottle. And, of course, it had to be a dark-haired person who was the first foot, otherwise it was bad luck.

I remember my gran always had soup and steak pie for her first footers. Anyone through the door after midnight was given a seat at the table and a generous helping of both. After everyone ate, they retired to the best sitting room where my aunt played the piano and a friend the accordion. It was singing and dancing until the early hours, then we would be off to see who else we could first foot. There were times when the first footing lasted all of three days. We were hardy back then.

So, now you see why my ancestors will despair of me when I retire to my bed without even waiting to hear the bells.

Happy New Year everyone.

Chris Longmuir


Amazon Author Page