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Monday, 26 December 2011

Did Santa put a Kindle in your Stocking?

Well, did he? Last year I got so fed up waiting for Santa to bring me one that I gave myself a Christmas present, a lovely brand new Kindle which I quickly clothed in a swish red leather jacket. I was in book heaven, and my fingers just itched to load it up with books.
So, I imagine that if Santa was good to you and brought you one, you’ll be looking forward to filling it with books. Well, you’re in luck because Amazon has loads of free books in their Kindle store, some of them good, some of them not so good, and some of them downright awful. So how do you choose?
I played safe and downloaded some classics. You can’t go wrong with them. I went for things like The Adventures of Tom SawyerThe Legends of King ArthurPride and Prejudice, although I’m not really a Jane Austen fan, and there were several more. But being a crime writer I then turned to The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – and of course, I couldn’t resist one or two horror novels like Dracula, - Frankenstein, - and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Now I don’t know what your tastes are, but when you get tired of reading the classics – and who wants to read nothing but classics? Well, maybe you do, but I’m afraid my tastes veer towards fast paced modern fiction so it didn’t take me long to start exploring the lists of other books. And there are plenty to choose from with a variety of prices from the ridiculously cheap to the over the top expensive.
I discovered that a lot of traditional publishers have something which is called the Agency Agreement which keeps their prices higher and does not allow Amazon to sell them cheaper. But there are loads of authors out there who are writing what is termed Indie books, it just means independently published books, by authors who are bypassing the publishers. Now, you can find loads of good books published by Indies, and also some, which to be polite, are not so good.
So how can you tell the difference? Well, a lot of the books on Amazon allow you to ‘Look Inside’ and by clicking on the cover you can read a short part of the book on the Amazon website. There is also the facility to download samples onto your Kindle, although I’ve always resisted this because I don’t want to clutter up my lovely Kindle with loads of samples.
There are also some websites and blogs, like The Famous Five Plus and, although this latter one is not solely for ebooks and promotes authors with print books as well. Here is my page on although there are many more authors to choose from. I’m sure if you root around the internet, you’ll find a lot more. It’s also worth googling the author’s name and title of the book you are interested in, and checking up on the reviews, because there are lots of reviewers out there.
So, whether Santa brought you a Kindle, or whether like me, you decide to give yourself a Christmas present, happy reading. And I hope you’ll cast your eyes over my selection of ebooks when you’re looking around.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Wish I Was Here

Oh what I wouldn’t give to be here again, setting off for Venice on the Orient Express. Following in the footsteps of Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot, and even sharing Rupert, the same cabin steward David Suchet had when he went adventuring on this famous train.

Waiting for my Bellini at Victoria Station

If I close my eyes I can imagine sitting in an Orient Express carriage at Victoria station, in London, waiting for my Bellini and lunch as we pull out on the first stage of the journey to Venice. The British Orient Express takes me to Folkstone to change to the luxury coaches which will transport us via the Channel Tunnel to Calais Ville, where I will board the continental Orient Express. This is the real deal, the train that David Suchet travelled on, and before him, Agatha Christie. This was the inspiration for her novel Murder on the Orient Express, and I can see why.

Departure from Venice - Now which one is Poirot and which one the victim - hmm

Two days of luxury, good food, pampering, and great entertainment, await before arriving in Venice for a lovely five day holiday. Pure bliss. Then home again on the return journey by Orient Express, from Venice to London.

Rupert, my lovely cabin steward - I'll let you into a secret, they don't actually use the seats at the end of the carriages any more. They have a cabin instead. But Rupert obliged by sitting in the seat for me.

The price for this holiday was quite horrendous, of course, but it’s a once in a lifetime experience. And I had money to burn. I had the fabulous check I received as part of my prize when I won the Dundee International Book Prize with my crime novel Dead Wood. So, for a week, I could pretend I was another Agatha Christie, off looking for murders and Hercule Poirot, or maybe a detective of my own. Off to write Another Murder on the Orient Express, and while doing so I was living the high life.

I would do it all over again in a blink.

Hmm, there’s a thought. I wonder if there are any more prizes I can enter for, and maybe instead of wishing I was there, I could actually go. And if I do go, Reach for the Stars is the book I will take to read this time instead of Murder on the Orient Express, because I'll be reaching for the stars and fulfilling my dream all over again.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Recognition at Last (I think)

Why am I so excited today? Well last night when I browsed Amazon on my iPad, my eye was caught by the cover of my crime thriller Dead Wood. It was in a Listmania list, apparently posted by Poison Pixie Publishing, and no, they are not my publishers. Dead Wood was published by Polygon. I have no idea who Poison Pixie Publishing are, but they’re my new heroes. Thanks, Poison Press Publishing.

So, my curiosity stimulated, I clicked on the list, and the first name I saw in it at number 1, was Barbara Vine. Below that was Nicci French at number 2 and 3, number 7 was PD James, and number 10 was Michael Connelly. I fully expected to be number 100 or even 1,000, because these are very successful, well established crime writers. But what was that at number 14 – Eek, it was my Dead Wood. I couldn’t believe it. My book was number 14. Further down the list were other fabulous writers, Jo Nesbo, John Connolly, Ruth Rendell. Surely it couldn’t be true.

I’m still rubbing my eyes and I go back frequently to the saved page on my iPad to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. And I wasn’t dreaming. I’m there at number 14. Thank you Poison Pixie Publishing and thank you to all the readers who enjoyed Dead Wood so much that it warranted a place on this list.
Recognition at last. How sweet it is.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Readers Where Would a Writer be Without Them

This is only one of my bookcases - multiply this by about 10

I’ve been a reader ever since I was big enough to hold a book. As a child I devoured books and lived in a magical fantasy land conjured up by my current reading material. I danced round fairy rings, fought dragons, became a princess, had pillow fights at boarding school, joined the Chalet girls in Switzerland. Then, of course, when I was older, among other things I became a spy, detective, femme fatale, gentleman burglar (even though I was a girl). I solved crimes with Hercule Poirot, and Sherlock Homes, I visited Miss Faversham, made love to Heathcliffe, hid from Dracula and Frankenstein. In fact, I did everything but live in the real world. So is it any wonder I became a writer.

Being such an avid reader gives me something in common with my readers. I want to please them in the same way that I have been pleased with all the books I’ve read over the years. I love to hear from readers, get to know their likes and dislikes, have conversations about characters, mine and those of other authors.

So, one of the joys of my life as an author is going out to meet readers, luckily, libraries often invite writers to come and talk, and local groups often ask me along, some of these talks are paid and some are not. But my reason for accepting all these invitations is not based on finance, it is because I truly love talking with readers.

So. Don’t be shy, come along and talk to me, whether it is face to face, on Facebook, or on Twitter. I’m here and I’d love to hear from you.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Book Launch Competition Results

I want to thank all those who entered the competition for a free ebook. It was a names in the hat draw with the winners randomly selected, and to ensure there was no favouritism I made sure the person selecting the winners, was totally objective. Well, the draw has now been done, all fair and square, by the President of Angus Writers’ Circle at their meeting last night.

And the winner of Ghost Train & Other Stories is ……….(long pause, wait for it)……….Gilly Fraser.

And the winner of Obsession & Other Stories is …………(another long pause, wait for it)………….. Myra Duffy.

Happy reading, ladies, and don’t scare yourselves too much as I cannot be held accountable for panic attacks, heart attacks or anything of that nature!

Until the next time.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Love A Happy Ending Book Launch

This is the official launch of my two short story collections, however readers may be disappointed if they are looking for happy endings in these two ebooks because the stories fit better into the scary or dark type where happy endings are not guaranteed. So be warned - if you suffer from unexplained fears, panic attacks, or have an adverse physical reaction after reading them, I cannot be held responsible. On the other hand, if you like a good scary read, then these are the books for you.

Both books have been published to Kindle and Smashwords, plus they can be found at most outlets that sell electronic books, including the Apple iBookstore for the iPad.

Now what can I say about the stories in these two books. Well, Ghost Train & Other Stories is probably the scarier book of the two and is mostly horror stories. While Obsession & Other Stories has a mix; there are some really scary stories, some dark and gritty crime stories, and a couple of gentler ones.

So let's have a look at some reviews and maybe that will give you an idea of what you are in for!

Reviews for Ghost Train & Other Stories

Stories that creep into your head
As another reviewer said, these aren't horror stories of the vampire, slasher, gore-fest type and, as a result, they lever themselves more insidiously into your consciousness. Even though you know that's the genre you're reading, Longmuir lulls you into accepting the normality of what she's describing. Her characters are normal, relatively `ordinary' people in mostly familiar contexts, but as you get to know them, they or the contexts warp, twist, take us further and further into what becomes a nightmare for them, and/or for us. My own favourite here is Brainpower, but they're all good, scary reads.

Horror stories at their best
This collection of horror stories has no vampires or werewolves nor the blood and gore that the horror genre has taken on in recent years. These stories get inside your head and stay there.
Definitely not for the faint-hearted but if you love to be scared when you read, then this collection is for you.

Insomniacs Beware
Ghost Train and Other Stories by Chris Longmuir is a collection of short stories that is sure to have you sleeping with the lights on, providing you can get to sleep in the first place. We've all heard horror stories that scare us but we can dismiss them as fanciful. The truly horrible are those stories that take a normal fear well beyond the comfort level where you really don't want to go; to a place where maybe you can see it actually happening.... have fun, horror fans.

 Reviews for Obsession & Other Stories

Chris's collection of stories is both dark and gritty, with a couple of gentler ones added to help ease that looking over your shoulder feeling.
The title story Obsession is about a stalker and told from his point of view - not the vicitim's. Scary indeed. This short story was the basis for Chris's crime novel Night Stalker.
This is an excellent collection of stories which works well for those who don't like to read longer works.

The Darker Side of Human Nature
Obsession and Other Stories by Chris Longmuir is a dark and thought-provoking collection of short stories that touch on the seamier side of life. There's a touch of history, a touch of mystery and a fanciful tale with a very real theme. All six stories are told in Chris's no-holds barred, gritty style.
The featured story, Obsession is a disturbing tale of a stalker told from that viewpoint - the stalker, not the victim. Very creepy being in that head! This is the story that lead to the novel, Night Watcher, an excerpt of which follows after the collection.
If you like to read but prefer short stories, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

If you decide to give these books a try they won’t break the bank because, as an introductory offer I’ve priced them at less than a pound or dollar. There will also be a prize draw of one book from each selection, but please bear in mind they are ebooks. If you want to enter the draw please leave a comment below, but I will need your email address and which electronic version you prefer, for example, Kindle, epub or PDF. Now I know that Blogger has been having problems and some folks seem to be prevented from leaving comments, so if that happens to you, then send me an email either directly or through the Contact page on my website and put Book Launch in the subject line.

Once you have read them it would be awfully nice if you could leave a brief Amazon review and maybe mention what you liked or didn’t like in the stories. No obligation though, just if you feel like it. Now I know that not everyone has the same tastes in reading so if you really don’t like the books tell me why, but please don’t be cruel, we authors are sensitive people, and we don’t like our babies to be abused.

Now that you’ve found your way to my blog why don’t you check out my website

Nice talking to you.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Scotland’s New Crime Festival - Bloody Scotland

I had the most fantastic time on Friday at the launch of Bloody Scotland in the company of most of Scotland’s crime writers, and I wanted to share it with you.

Authors attending launch of Bloody Scotland

What is Bloody Scotland? Well, it’s an exciting new project to bring together the best of Scottish crime writing and crime writers in a new festival planned for next year. The venue is Stirling, and the dates are 14th to 16th September 2012.

How did it all come about? Alex Gray and Lin Anderson say they were indulging in a glass of Prosecco at the bar and wondering if Scotland could have its own crime festival, similar to the one in Harrogate. Several glasses later they were still tossing the idea around and had even given it a name, Bloody Scotland, visualising Harrogate Crime Festival attendees turning to each other at the bar and saying, ‘You going to Bloody Scotland this year?’ So that was the start of it.

So, out of that conversation Bloody Scotland took root as more than an idea. Therefore it can be said that the festival is the inspiration of crime writers Lin Anderson and Alex Gray who believed, given the global reputation of Scottish crime writing, that there should be a showcase to celebrate its quality and diversity while placing it in an international context.

After that initial start a committee was set up and has been beavering away to make Bloody Scotland a reality. The launch on Friday was the first step towards publication of the information and to hail the Bloody Scotland Festival in Stirling as the place to be next September.

The festival has the support of Stirling Council, Creative Scotland, University of Stirling and will be working closely with Stirling’s well-established literary festival, Off the Page.

Ian Rankin said “Scottish crime writing continues to fire on all cylinders, and talented new voices keep appearing. Bloody Scotland is a long overdue celebration of Scotland’s favourite genre, one of its most successful cultural exports ~ and a chance to hear some of the most interesting international writers too.”

Robert Ruthven, Information, Libraries & Archives Service manager commented, “It is a great compliment to the continuing success of Off the Page Stirling Book Festival that the organisers of Bloody Scotland have chosen Stirling as the venue for their Crime Weekend. Visiting crime authors are always warmly received by the Stirling public and the inaugural Bloody Scotland Festival can only add to Stirling’s reputation as the city which loves its crime. Our library staff who organise Off the Page are looking forward to this new working partnership.”

On 14 September 2012 the University of Stirling will host masterclasses, workshops and a publishers and agents forum. “Stirling has a thriving centre for publishing studies and we’ve just launched a postgraduate creative writing programme,” says Douglas Brodie, head of the School of Arts and Humanities. “We’re delighted to help aspiring writers at the festival develop their talent, technique and professional savvy.”

Emma Turnbull at Creative Scotland says “Bloody Scotland will be a welcome addition to the host of vibrant and diverse literature festivals we support across Scotland.”

Full programme details of the debut festival will be launched in late spring 2012.

For more information contact 0797 1099402

So, put the date in your diary and remember to look out for the submission information in the spring. And I’ll see you there.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Dundee International Book Prize - What it Feels like to Win

Ten aspiring authors have been lucky enough to be included on the short list of the Dundee International Book Prize, details can be found on the Dundee Book Prize website at and you can read excerpts from the winning novels if you go to the Literary Dundee website I can just imagine how those ten authors must be feeling, because I’ve been there. As they say - been there, done that, worn the tee-shirt.

It seems a lifetime now since I won the Dundee Prize, although it was actually only two years ago in 2009. I can’t begin to describe the experience, only that it was awesome. It started the year before that when, in September 2008, I was informed my novel, Dead Wood, was on the short list. Then in October I was told I had won, but I was given strict instructions to tell no one. There was to be a moratorium on the information until the launch date, which was 29th June 2009.
Unfortunately I had already told the two friends who edit and proof read for me. You see after I got the phone call, and after I’d convinced myself it wasn’t a scam, I was simply bursting with the need to tell someone, and I didn’t know about the moratorium until the next day when the letter of confirmation arrived from the Lord Provost of Dundee. Needless to say my two friends were sworn to secrecy and adopted the mantles of Secret Agent Two and Three. They allocated the title Secret Agent One, to me.
After the letter everything went deathly quiet. I had been told I would be contacted by the publisher, Polygon, but no call came until March 2009, five months after I’d been told I had won. During those five months I began to think it had all been a dream, wishful thinking on my part. It was only the prodding of my two Secret Agent friends that reminded me it had actually happened. But you know how it is when the doubts surface. It’s difficult to shake them off.
But in March when the publisher eventually got in touch, it was a flurry of activity. An editor was appointed to do the substantive editing bit which consisted of instructions to lose 7,000 words, plus advice on what to get rid of and what to expand, and so on. Okay, the 7,000 words were cut from the manuscript, however in following the advice to expand certain bits another 7,000 words were added. So, back on the merry-go-round to lose another 7,000 words. I still don’t really know where those 14,000 words went, but go they did. At last, the editor was satisfied and I was satisfied so the book then went to the proofing editor.
Proofing is a fairly straightforward process, however the proofing editor changed some names to make my novel more Scottish. So Tony’s wife Madge, became Mairi. Sergeant Dobbs, nicknamed Dobbsy, became Sergeant Robertson with no nickname. And Angel became Angela. I dug my heels in about Angel though, because she was a pole dancer and whoever heard of a pole dancer named Angela. I argued that Angela sounded more like the girl next door, while Angel was a name a pole dancer might assume for her act. So Angela returned to Angel, thank goodness for that.
The other thing that arose was the book’s title. The Dundee Prize judges had insisted my book, which was originally called The Screaming Woods, should be retitled, and when I was chosen as the winner I would have stood on my hands and done cartwheels if they’d asked. So, agreeing was a no-brainer. During the editing process the publisher decided the book should be called First Blood, then shortly after they changed their minds and decided on Dead Wood. So, Dead Wood it became and that’s how it stayed.
The day of the launch was getting frighteningly near and I started to wonder if the book would be ready on time. I needn’t have feared, because almost on the eve of the launch the book was ready.  I think all publishers must work to this exacting timescale but it’s quite frightening if you aren’t used to it.

Anyway, the launch day arrived, bright and sunny. Thank goodness for that because publicity shoots had been arranged to take place in Templeton Woods, the setting for my murders. It was a whirlwind of activity. First the photo shoot, then the interview for television, then the secret signing in the stock room of the local book store. At last, I got my hands on my novel. A lovely new shiny paperback that I didn’t want to release from my grasp once it was there. I wanted to stroke it, kiss it, and generally just make love to it. But, I had to sign them and leave them there. Then it was off to a swanky hotel to freshen up for the evening reception.

Prised out of my jeans and dressed up to the nines I took my place at the top table, rubbing elbows with the Lord Provost and other dignitaries. A lovely meal and several speeches later, excerpts from three of the short listed books, which had become the short-short listed books, were read, and I was announced as the winner. I made a speech but couldn’t tell you what I said because I was still floating on a cloud. I was presented with my award and the gold envelope containing that lovely, lovely cheque. Then it was off to sign books and what a fabulous experience that was, sitting at a table signing my very own book.

Ah, well, that was two years ago and I wish the winner of this year's Dundee Book Prize as much joy and success as I’ve had since winning it.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Do you like a good scary read?

I thought that for a change I would give you a wee peep at what I have been up to over the past few weeks. Now, I don’t usually bore you with promotional stuff on my blog. Nor am I prone to saying ‘look at what a good girl I’ve been’, but I’ve had my head down, working hard and couldn’t resist giving you a peek at my two new books of short stories.
Two? I hear you say. You’re churning them out, two at a time? Well, you see I thought I would ransack my hard disk for some short stories to keep my readers amused, not that my writing is in any way amusing, you understand. I also thought I might manage to turn up enough stories to fill a book. So I got hunting and quickly realized that if I put all the short stories that wriggled out of my hard disk into one book, I might have something the length of War and Peace. Nothing daunted I compiled the resurrected short stories into two separate piles. One set was an assortment including crime and a few gentler ones, while the other set was horror. I won’t bore you by describing the revision and polishing process, but the end result was two different books of short stories. So, if you can bear it I’ll include the details below.

The first book, Obsession & Other Stories is a collection of short stories meant to entertain and intrigue. The collection includes dark and gritty crime stories as well as a couple of gentler ones.

These six short stories are a mixed batch which I hope you will enjoy. They include:-

‘Obsession’ - which is a dark story about a stalker, and not recommended for those of a nervous disposition. This was the story which gave birth to the Night Watcher and is the precursor of my novel of the same name.

‘In Zofia’s Footsteps’ - is the story of migrant fruit pickers working on a fruit farm in Scotland. Make up your own mind whether or not there is a hint of the paranormal in this one.

‘Not a Bad Person’ - is a gritty story which introduces Baz, a heroin addict and what he feels compelled to do to acquire money to feed his habit.

‘Ghost of Christmas Past’ - is a gentle ghost story which is not in the least scary, although I’m better known for my scary stories.

‘Sin’ - is a tale of the Magdalene Laundries, the institutions for unmarried mothers which were infamous in Ireland in the not too distant past.

‘Santa’s Little Helper’ - a little bit of nonsense to finish off with.

The second book. Ghost Train & Other Stories is a collection of horror stories, not meant for the faint-hearted.

What you won’t find in this book are zombies and vampires. Nor will you find anyone running around wielding a chainsaw, although there might be some knives and maybe a cleaver. Blood and gore is also missing, although I can’t guarantee you won’t stumble across some body parts.

However, you will find plenty to scare you in these stories unless, of course, you have become hardened to horror.
The four short stories in this book are a mixed batch of horror and paranormal stories which I hope you will enjoy. They include:-

‘The Ghost Train’ - was previously published in issue 39 of Dark Horizons in 2001, and is a dark story set in a fairground.

‘The Gourmet Club' - is a story about a restaurant which features an exclusive, invitation only, gourmet club with rather unusual tastes.

‘Brainpower’ - is a fantasy about what happens to a student who craves more and more knowledge.

‘Déjà vu’ - is another paranormal story with a dark theme.
I am publishing these two books at the lowest possible price that Amazon allows as a reward to my readers and an encouragement for new readers. I can only hope that folks will enjoy them.

A couple of five star reviews which are already on Amazon:-

Obsession and Other Stories by Chris Longmuir is a dark and thought-provoking collection of short stories that touch on the seamier side of life. There's a touch of history, a touch of mystery and a fanciful tale with a very real theme. All six stories are told in Chris's no-holds barred, gritty style.

The featured story, Obsession is a disturbing tale of a stalker told from that viewpoint - the stalker, not the victim. Very creepy being in that head! This is the story that led to the novel, Night Watcher, an excerpt of which follows after the collection.

Also included is an excerpt from Chris Longmuir's latest novel, A Salt Splashed Cradle, an engrossing family saga from a time when livelihoods were made from the sea.

If you like to read but prefer short stories, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Well done, Chris Longmuir. I look forward to more.

Ghost Train and Other Stories by Chris Longmuir is a collection of short stories that is sure to have you sleeping with the lights on, providing you can get to sleep in the first place. We've all heard horror stories that scare us but we can dismiss them as fanciful. The truly horrible are those stories that take a normal fear well beyond the comfort level where you really don't want to go; to a place where maybe you can see it actually happening.... have fun, horror fans.

If you like the look of these two books of short stories they can be found on Amazon and Smashwords, just search my name and they will come up.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Harrogate Crime Festival - A Criminal Weekend

I’ve been a regular at the Harrogate Crime Festival since 2007, and have enjoyed every one. I treat it a bit like a summer break and it’s the ideal holiday for bookaholics like me, and writers addicted to their craft, again like me. This year we were in Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel, famous for being the place Agatha Christie was found after she went missing.

The place hotches with writers, agents, editors and publishers. We are told it is now the largest crime festival in Europe, and I believe it. I meet up with old chums and new acquaintances, some famous, some not. It makes no difference, everyone is friendly. It all goes to make a fabulous three days, four if you also attend the Creative Writers day where the workshops are always instructive and entertaining. This year’s workshops were run by Allan Guthrie and Stuart MacBride, an entertaining double act doing ‘Show Don’t Tell’. Dreda Say Mitchell, assisted by Tony Mason did a wonderful workshop on ‘Characterisation’, and Natasha Cooper and Selina Walker (Publisher at Random House) ably presented ‘Submission Letters & Synopses’. Then on to the ‘Dragon’s Pen’ session where some brave souls pitched their crime novels to a panel of agents, editors, and publishers, before we all relaxed with wine and nibbles at the Alibi reception.
The Crime Festival proper, starts on Thursday at 8pm with the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award and festival opening party. The winner of the award was Lee Child for ‘61 Hours’. But there was also another award this year, a special one, and that was given to PD James for her outstanding contribution to Crime Writing. When she went up to the platform to collect it she received a standing ovation and I thought the clapping was never going to stop. Thursday night ended with the party where wine and canapés were served.
Friday morning dawned, and somewhat bleary-eyed we turned out to hear Martina Cole being cross-examined by Dreda Say Mitchell. There followed a succession of panels featuring well known crime authors talking about a variety of crime writing topics. I couldn’t start to name them all, the list would be too extensive, but among them were some of my favourites, namely Mandasue Heller, Denise Mina, Allan Guthrie, and Cathi Unsworth. The day finished off with a lively exchange between Linwood Barclay and Lisa Gardner, following which we all trooped off to bed wondering how on earth anyone could manage to sew a rattler into someone’s mouth without suffering a snake bite themselves. Guess I’ll have to read the book if I want to find out.
Saturday, up bright and early to hear Tess Gerritsen being interviewed by Radio 4’s Jenni Murray. The interview was brilliant and one of the high spots of the weekend. This was followed by ‘The Outer Limits’ an interesting look at the paranormal in crime fiction, and then the ‘New Blood’ panel which featured Julia Crouch, Gordon Ferris, SJ Watson, and Melanie McGrath, who were introduced by Val McDermid. Val, as always, was her usual effervescent self and led the discussion with lots of humour. This panel was of particular interest to me because I was in the middle of reading Gordon Ferris’s ‘The Hanging Shed’, currently top of the Amazon e-books chart.
Several panels and a clutch of well-known authors later came the next high spot of the weekend - the conversation between David Baldacci and Joseph Finder. Both authors were vibrant, entertaining and interesting. They easily held the attention of an audience, wilting under the onslaught of so many stimulating panels. As if one Saturday high spot wasn’t enough, we then had Lee Child telling us about his personal hates, which were fairly minor. On the list of his pet hates were bad reviews, characters’ descriptions given through mirror reflections, authors who embellished their CVs with information that had no basis in fact, for example, saying they had worked for the FBI or the CIA. And lastly, novels which had a character saying ‘There has been a murder’.
Saturday wound up with the late night quiz which is a riotous and noisy affair, often with a fair amount of cheating going on. Val McDermid and Mark Billingham were the quizmasters and they tried valiantly to keep order. I’m proud to say that our team, the Sexy Ladies, came in at fifth place. We were fourth from the bottom last year, but this year there were thirteen teams with lower marks than ours. So, all in all, a great but exhausting Saturday.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and it was time to pack the suitcase which was now considerably heavier with all the books I had acquired. But there were still two panels to go. The first one on place and settings, and then the well-anticipated final event with Dennis Lehane, well-known American author of ‘Shutter Island’ and ‘Mystic River’ as well as a host of other successful novels. Both these events were great and Dennis Lehane was a fitting end to one of the greatest crime festivals in Europe.
Roll on next year.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Smashwords’ Summer Sale

I know most folks like a bargain so thought I’d let you know that Night Watcher, and A Salt Splashed Cradle, are in the Smashwords’ summer sale with 26% off. The sale only lasts until the end of July, so if you want a copy of either of these e-books, pop along to for Night Watcher or for A Salt Splashed Cradle, and quote coupon SSW25 at the checkout.
Thanks for visiting my website and blog, I love having you here.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Love a Happy Ending Book Giveaway

I am honoured to have been asked by Love A Happy Ending to be one of their featured authors, so it was a pleasure to take part in the website launch, and a further pleasure to offer some of my books for the giveaway. So I now want to say thank you to everyone who entered the Book Giveaway Competition, I really appreciate your lovely comments.
The next step is to ask you to please go to the website where a list of winners will be posted soon. If you are not a winner but would like to buy my book and be reviewed on the website, please contact direct. This also applies if you would like to be one of my Associate Readers. Full details of what is involved (and how you will get to know me) are on the website. And may I please add that I would be delighted if some of you wanted to be my Associate Reader.
I hope you return to my blog in the future and continue to check in at

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Launch Day Giveaway -

Launch Day Giveaway

– your chance to win a free copy of a book and be featured in the Review Chair…

The Rules are simple:

1. You can enter any time between 29 June 2011 and 3 July 2011.

2. Entries are limited to one per book, but feel free to enter for every book on offer.

3. Winners will be picked by the individual Authors themselves, there are no ‘right’ answers – this is fun and ‘luck of the draw’.

4. You need to provide an Email address and by entering, give permission for us to contact you to notify you if you have won; winners will then be contacted again within 3 months to be interviewed for the blog. Your Email addresses will not be passed on or used for any other purpose. All winners will be notified by 17 July 2011.

How to enter:

Simply post a comment below stating which book you want to win, and tell me why you want to win a copy! Don’t forget to leave a full contact Email address. Thank you for joining in and I hope you will visit my blog as well as the website in the near future.

Who will interview you for your review?

Janice Horton is the Review Chair Editor. As a Featured Reviewer, everything you say will be passed on to the Author and your interview will talk about the book you've read and tell everyone a little bit about YOU.

We're sure you are going to love the’s hand-picked group of new and soon-to-be published authors and they are certainly going to be delighted to hear what you have to say as we encourage them along their path to success!

Are you a more avid reader and interested in linking more closely with’s new Authors? Then please consider becoming an Associate Reader to one or more of the website’s Authors, details on the right-hand side of the website. This interactive website is aimed at READERS who want to join in and make a difference, become involved in the process of raising the profile of the Featured Authors and have some fun at the same time!

If you’ve got to this blog on your own remember to check out to see what else is happening as part of the official launch celebrations.

Giveaway Titles

I have 3 books in the giveaway. One of them is a paperback, the other two are ebooks. If you enter for the ebook giveaway competition, tell me what kind of ereader you have and the correct format will be sent.

You can read the first chapters of each book on my website Go to the Novels page and click read more. There are also some reviews on my author's page on

Good luck with your entries.


1  Dead Wood - Paperback

2  Night Watcher - ebook, available for Kindle, Sony Ereader, or Nook

3  A Salt Splashed Cradle - ebook, available for Kindle, Sony Ereader, or Nook

Please state which book your entry is for. You can enter for all three books if you wish, but please make them separate submissions, ie one book per comment box. Don’t forget to read the competition rules at the start of this blog, and don’t forget to include your email address.

NB - Some people have been having trouble leaving comments on Blogger sites. If this happens to you there is an easy fix. When you are taken to the Google account sign in page make sure that the ‘Stay signed in’ box does not have a tick in it. If it does, remove the tick.

The book giveaway competition has started. Submit your entry now. You have until the first stroke of midnight on the 3rd of July. Don't miss out.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

This week, on Wednesday 29th June, sees the launch of a new interactive website where authors and readers come together to celebrate books and reading.

What is
….. a website to help promote new Authors and the formal launch is on 29 June 2011. Readers will be invited to take part in the ‘launch giveaways promotion’ and that is your chance to become a Feature Reader by winning a free book so you can do your first review!

This is what says about its featured authors - authors are here to bring you novels you will want to curl up with on the sofa in winter, or read beneath that shady tree on your summer vacation. You may laugh, you may cry, but when you turn the last page it will remind you why you ‘love a happy ending‘. Positive, uplifting and feel good – a tonic!

And this is what it says about readers -
Welcome to all readers! We want readers to take an active part in providing feedback to our new authors, as they launch themselves into the world of publishing.

Appear in the ‘Review Chair‘ and author Janice Horton will interview for your thoughts on what you have read and give everyone a little bit of background information about YOU. Why? Because our Readers are equally as important to us as our Authors.

There will be giveaways and special offers - all aimed at giving our readers the opportunity to follow these new authors, support their work and grow our little community!

We also want to offer our group of writers the chance to ask YOU, the reader, the questions that will help them write the stories you want to read.

Readers can become Feature Readers or Associate Readers linked to one or several authors.

What is a ‘Feature’ Reader?  says -
….. someone who loves reading books and would like the opportunity to really make a difference to a new Author’s career.

What is an ‘Associate’ Reader’ says -
….. a Feature Reader who actively supports’s Authors by spreading the word using social media, review websites (Goodreads, Amazon etc) and maybe their own blogs. Actively telling other people about our exciting new Authors and how much they enjoyed reading their books. If you see a good website and think it should feature one of our Authors, suggest it to them! You could also support individual Author’s websites to give encouragement and feedback. Our blog will tell you what our Authors are doing and when they have promotional events. You can Twitter and Facebook links to to help us increase exposure for our Authors.

All very exciting isn’t it. If you want to find out more about this exciting new project why don’t you pop along to on Wednesday 29th June and take part in the fun.

Oh, and don’t forget to enter the competition for a chance to win a free copy of the books on offer. Post a comment on my blog for a chance to win one of my books, but don’t do it before Wednesday or it won’t count. I’ll post a copy of the rules of the competition on Tuesday night so you’ll be all ready to go on Wednesday. In the meantime check out it’s a fabulous site.

NB - Some people have been having trouble leaving comments on Blogger sites. If this happens to you there is an easy fix. When you are taken to the Google account sign in page make sure that the ‘Stay signed in’ box does not have a tick in it. If it does, remove the tick.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Marketing your E-Book

Okay, you’ve published your e-book and it’s sitting up there on your virtual Kindle bookshelf, as well as floating out to other e-bookstores via Smashwords or your distributor of choice. What now? There are thousands of e-books out there, maybe millions for all I know. How do you get your book noticed by the e-book buying public when it’s sitting at 357,668 in Amazon’s listings, which is what Night Watcher is sitting at on the US Amazon website. As you can see I don’t do very well in the American market. Luckily both of my books are doing a bit better in the UK and they regularly slide on and off the best seller lists. Night Watcher was even number 22 for a time.
Now, don’t expect me to be an expert on marketing or promotion, I’ve only been an e-publisher for a little over two months so I’m still learning.
The first things that spring to mind are Facebook and Twitter. I already had a Facebook presence but I was reluctant to promote too much to my FB friends, although a judicious posting of specific events was in order. A little hunt around and I found the Amazon Kindle Facebook page, however a word of warning, promotion is not welcome on this page. I think they restrict it to once a week, and the unwary can get flamed if they try to promote too much on this page. A further two pages have recently been started. Readers and Writers United, and Kindle UK Reading Group. Promotion is allowed on these pages but I noticed that it was starting to be a problem, and if readers are anything like me they will tend to skip the promotional posts. So, although I’ll promote occasionally on these pages I try to take part in the other discussions and sometimes set a discussion thread going. It can be good fun with the spin off that your name starts to become known. Whether this will result in sales is a different thing, there is no way of telling.
Twitter is a new experience for me and I’m not sure I know what I’m doing with it. However, when thinking about promotion, I am told that Twitter is a good vehicle to get your name out there. So I tweet occasionally. Maybe I’ll get the hang of it sometime.
Forums are supposed to be a good way to get recognized, but again, like Facebook pages, caution is advised. One forum, however, where promotion is not frowned on is KindleBoards this is a fairly large forum with pages devoted to introductions, and all kinds of discussions and chat pages. It’s well worth a look. Most authors use their book covers as their signature, so every time a post is put up the books are advertised. In terms of promotion though, I’m not sure how effective it is, as I certainly haven’t managed to crack the American market.
Okay another bit of advice I listened to was to get a website, I already had one so that wasn’t a problem. Start writing a blog. You can see the result here. Visit other people’s blogs and leave comments. Well I visit them, the ones I like I tend to follow, similarly I comment only when I feel I have something to say, so I can’t actually comment on whether this tactic is successful.
Blog interviews are fun and supposed to help sales, maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Anyway I’ve had several. I’ve been interviewed on Melanie King’s, Celtic Connections (a Canadian blog), Michael Malone’s, interesting blog May Contain Nuts, and several others. My most recent interview is on LK Watts Confessions Blog I have a couple more interviews lined up, plus I’m currently being featured as one of the books on the Sinclair Books Blog Book of the Month competition. A different book is featured every day throughout the month and my slot is on 15 June, although voting is open all month. Night Watcher is currently sitting with 23 votes which comes about the middle of the votes cast, with some books higher and some lower. If you like my books and feel you want to support me, your vote would be very much appreciated.
Before I finish I just want to say that the best response I had to promotion was after a feature in my local press, a newspaper which is widely distributed throughout this and neighbouring areas. However, I do have a fan base in this part of the country, so if I’d been a complete unknown I’m unsure how effective this would have been.
And that’s about the sum of my knowledge as far as promotion goes. If anyone has any tips for me I’d love to hear them.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Escaping from the Genre Box

I want to talk a bit about the different genres of my published books. I have 3 published novels on sale, one paperback and two e-books. Dead Wood and Night Watcher are dark crime novels which some readers describe as scary, although I don’t necessarily agree with this. Maybe I’m immune. A Salt Splashed Cradle, published yesterday, is a historical family saga.
An author who is lucky enough to acquire a publishing contract is immediately put into a little box that defines which genre he or she will publish. So if the first accepted book is crime, you become a crime writer, and vice versa. Many authors are dissatisfied with this but find it impossible to climb out of their genre box, which publishers keep firmly locked. With e-publishing, however, the situation can change. An author has the freedom to write in several genres, and provided their book descriptions do not mislead the reader, this can be quite successful. A word of warning, the author should ensure the book that is on offer is accurately described. After all, a reader might be a bit miffed if they buy a family saga only to discover it is contemporary dark crime.
Up until yesterday, I was firmly in the crime writer box. My first novel, Dead Wood, was published as a paperback after it won the Dundee International Book Prize, so that decided the genre that publishers would be expecting. My second novel, Night Watcher, was published as an e-book and has been doing reasonably well. I’m already 20,000 words into a third crime book with a theme of internet predators. So what happened to make me do a side swerve into historical family sagas?
It really wasn’t a genre changing moment for me. You see, A Salt Splashed Cradle was the very first novel I wrote. At the time I was part of the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) New Writer Scheme. This scheme allows unpublished writers to submit a novel each September for them to crit. If they think the novel is good enough it will get further readings and then submission to a publisher. Well, A Salt Splashed Cradle, almost made it, however it got a rave rejection from the publisher. I think my timing was bad, because that was the year that sagas went out of fashion and several well-established saga writers were dropped by their publishers. So that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Anyway, I remembered this novel I’d written, way back in prehistoric times, and thought I’d have another look at it. So it was dug out of the bottom drawer, the place where all unpublished manuscripts languish, and I read it. At that point I realized it was a good story and started on the rewriting, revision, editing process. The result was, I published it yesterday, and was then flabbergasted to discover it had reached Number 41 in Amazon’s Family Saga best selling list by that same evening. No doubt it will go up and down the lists, fall off the bottom and then make a comeback, similar to what is happening with Night Watcher.

I must admit I have a soft spot for this saga, probably because it was the first book I wrote. It’s a story about a fishing community, and the effect a young bride has on it when she infiltrates it as the young bride of Jimmie Watt. Back in the 1830s these small fishing communities were insular, they married within their own community and ‘incomers’ were not welcome. So you can imagine the impact that Belle, a town girl who dresses in silks as opposed to the rough woven fisher clothes, has on this community. She does herself no favours when she falls in love with the laird’s son, and becomes ostracized as well as unwelcome. The story encompasses fisher life and traditions, as well as whaling, and the setting moves between the fishing village of Craigden and the Arctic. And that’s all I’m going to tell you.

But if you’ve read my dark crime books and want to check out whether I’ve been successful in switching between genres, check out A Salt Splashed Cradle. I think it’s good, but do you?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Seven things: Work, Writing & Research

Thank you to Janice Horton, author of Bagpipes and Bullshot, for passing me the Versatile Blogger Award – the rules of acceptance are to tell you seven things about myself that you might not already know.

A writer looks for inspiration in lots of different places, but a fertile ground to base research on is a person’s own life experiences. So I thought I’d give you a peek at some of the things that have formed me into the person I am. I’d love to know what work and life experiences you have had which have contributed to you as a person, and how you’ve been able to use them in your writing. Please leave a comment and let me know.

1) One of my earliest memories is the unexploded bomb behind my granny’s cottage. We were evacuated to a big posh house and slept on the floor of the front lounge which was as big as a dance hall.

2) I’ve worked in a variety of jobs. I was a salesgirl in Woolworths, an office girl in a local grocer shop, a spinner in a mill, and a clippie (bus conductress). In my social work career I've worked in criminal justice, medical social work, child care, and I've been an adoption officer and an assistant principal office responsible for interpreting the law, writing guidelines and operational instructions for workers.

3) I once owned a small shop selling wool, needlework, crafts and babywear.

4) I left school with no qualifications but later got an Open University degree and a Post graduate qualification in Social Work from Dundee University.

5) I worked in Social Work for 20 years and took early retirement to concentrate on my writing career.

6) I got my first rejection at the age of 22 from the Sunday Post. Being totally ignorant of writing procedure I did not realize until many years later that it was actually what is called a ‘rave rejection’, and if I’d worked on the story it might have been accepted.

7) I entered the Dundee International Book Prize competition three times. The first two entries sank without trace before I hit the jackpot with my third submission, Dead Wood. It was a case of third time lucky, and it also proves that perseverance pays off.

Well, that’s my seven things so now I’d like to pass the award on to anyone willing to accept it, but please let me know if you are taking this offer up because I’d like to visit your blog and read your seven things.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Publishing to Kindle

When I published Night Watcher to Kindle I had to do a fair bit of research on the procedure. I read loads of blogs giving instructions, and watched oodles of You Tube videos. Some of the advice was conflicting but I managed to work out a procedure that worked for me. So now I want to share it with you.

Okay, there are a couple of things you need to do before getting down to the nitty gritty of formatting your document for Kindle.

First of all you need to download two software programmes. Don’t worry, they’re free:-

I’ve provided the links but won’t insult you by giving instructions on how to download software, although I do that in the illustrated guide I prepared specially for my technologically challenged friends.

Next you need to ready your file for conversion by formatting it. (Please note these instructions are for an indented paragraph prose style document.) The first thing to be done is to turn on your formatting so you can see all the paragraph ends, returns and tabs etc. If you don’t know how to turn your formatting on, Word’s Help section should instruct you. The reason for this is to ensure your document is free of things like tabs and space bar returns, these can really screw up a conversion. Then delete headers, footers and page numbers. I will now take you through the conversion in steps.

Step 1

This is optional, but I always do it to ensure my document is clean. Click on the option <Select All> from the <Edit> menu. This will highlight your document. Then select <Styles and Formatting> from the <Format> menu and click on <Clear Formatting>. This strips all formatting from your document. You can miss Step 1 if you are sure you do not have any fancy formatting in your document, no tabs and no space bar spacing to make tabs etc.

Make sure any further formatting to your document remains based on <Normal> in the menu bar. Check the document for any tabs that have not been removed and remove them. Turn off <Autoformat> in your <Tools> menu. You are now ready to reformat your document.

Step 2

Highlight your document the same way you did before. Open the <Paragraph> dialogue box which you will find in the <Format> menu.

(a) Alignment  <Left>

(b) Special  <First Line> By <0.5> - (Smashwords prefers 0.3 in this box)

(c) Line Spacing <Double> - (Smashwords prefers <Single> here). It is important to make sure that there is absolutely nothing in the <At> box, apparently this can really muck up your document. Click OK.

This will give you an appropriately formatted prose document. Note however that the title pages and headings are no longer how they should be. These will have to be formatted.

Highlight your title and anything else on the title page. In the format menu, select Paragraph to open the paragraph box.

Change Alignment to <Centered>. Change Special to <None>. Click OK.

Place a <Page Break> to separate your title page from the rest of your document.

Now go through your document and centre Headings, Chapters or Titles in the same way you did your title page.

Depending on whether you want your chapters on new pages it is okay to use page breaks for a Kindle file, however if you plan to upload your books to Smashwords then page breaks are a no no because this will result in blank pages.

If you are happy with your formatting it is now time to make your document into HTML and that is the next step.

Step 3

Click on <File> then <Save As>. The default save is to a Word document. You will have to change this.

Bring down the drop down menu by clicking on the arrow at the end of the <Save As Type> box.

Select <Web Page, Filtered>. This will save your document as HTLM.

If a dialogue pops up saying it will remove Office features, just click Yes.

Once you have saved your HTML file close it down and your Word file as well.

Now for the next step. The conversion.

Step 4

Open Mobipocket Creator

Click on <Import from Existing File - HTML document> In the Window that opens click on <Browse> and locate your HTML file. Leave all other settings as they are.

When you locate the folder with your file you will notice that the other Word files do not appear, only the HTML one, so no chance of loading the wrong file.

Click on your file and then click <Open>. Your file location now appears in the <Choose a File> box. Click on <Import> Your document will appear in a new window.

Click on <Cover Image> (I trust you have a cover image) A new page appears.

Click on <Add a Cover Image> Browse for your cover image on your computer.

Select the image and then click <Open> and your image will be imported into Mobipocket Creator.

Click <Update> and you will be taken back to the page that has your document file, on this page click <Build> from the top menu bar.

In the page that opens leave the options as they are <Standard Compression> and <No Encryption> then click <Build> which is in the lower half of the page.

It doesn't take long and when it is complete you will get a new window. Just click the option <Open Folder containing eBook> You could view it in Mobipocket but Kindle Previewer is better.

The folder that contains your eBook can be found in <Documents> <My Publications> on your computer.

Congratulations, you now have a mobi file eBook.

Step 5

Before you upload to Kindle check your book in Kindle Previewer. When you open it, it will be a blank page.

Click on File, then on <Open Book>

Locate the <My Publications> folder in <Documents> on your computer. Open it, then open the folder containing your book.

It should then open in Kindle Previewer. Check it over, make sure your formatting is okay, and then upload to Amazon following Amazon’s instructions.

I hope these instructions are understandable and helpful.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

E-publishing V Traditional Publishing

The world of publishing is undergoing changes as the electronic world catches up. As an author who has published both ways it seemed to me to be a good time to weigh up the pros and cons.

My first book Dead Wood was published in the traditional way after winning the Dundee International Book Prize. What an exciting time that was. The procedure prior to publication was not without pain. Any author will tell you that writing ‘The End’ when you finish, is not really the end. There follows a period, which can last up to a year, but in my case was 8 months, for the editorial process. During this time conflicting demands were made – to add words and to cut words. The cover was decided by the publisher and the title changed. But what a feeling of achievement there was when I held my book in my hands and saw it on the bookstore shelves.
Now all that may seem fairly easy to the new author, but that book had been hawked round publishers and agents for 4 years prior to winning the prize. Rejections were the order of the day. The last rejection I had was 1 month before winning the prize and that publisher had retained the book for 4 years before making up his mind. That same publisher, I may add, had a recent column in a Sunday newspaper bemoaning the fact that publishers were losing their authors to e-publishing.

So, 2 years later, after hawking my second book round the publishers and agents, I decided to go down the electronic route and publish Night Watcher to Kindle. After the formatting it was relatively painless and cost me nothing, apart from the editing fee, which is a good investment. Shortly after, basking in my success, I published the book to Smashwords so that other reader formats could have access to the novel. Admittedly I didn’t have that wonderful feeling of holding a book in my hands but at least it’s out there and being read. After all, what is a writer without an audience?

So what are the pros and cons. Well, with traditional publishing you have all the pain of constant rejections, plus the length of time everything takes. With e-publishing you can have your book on sale almost immediately, although I would advise sending it to a literary agency or editor prior to taking that step. A traditional publisher will give you 8 per cent royalties (average), while with e-publishing you can be earning anything between 35 to 85 per cent, provided you publish yourself. But best of all you are independent, and the feeling of liberation that comes with that, because you don’t have to prostrate yourself to publishers, is marvellous.

I would say that the e-publishing route has been a success for me, although I do miss being able to hold my book in my hands following publication.

E-publishing or traditional. What do you think?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Internet Explorer 9 is Driving me Nuts

As some of you probably know I'm a bit of a techie addict and can never resist new gadgets, new hardware and new software. So it goes without saying that when the new Internet Explorer version became available I downloaded it. Now, there are features on IE 9 that I like. I like the clean interface. I like the ability to pull a tab off the address bar to make a new window, and I like being able to pin favourite sites on my Windows 7 Task Bar, but the new browser does take a bit of getting used to.

The tabs of the websites you open are now on the right of the Address Bar, at the top of the screen. You can still click Ctrl when you are opening a new web page and the tab opens to the right of the tabs already there. So far so good. However, when you want to close them, that's when the problems start (for me anyway). Theoretically the extra tabs can be closed by right clicking and then clicking on Close Tab, or you can click the  x at the right of the tab. The tab vanishes okay, but the page is still there - blank with a little whirly thing in the middle and there it stays until you close the whole browser down, that is, if the browser hasn't frozen. The only way then is to bring up Task Manager and close it down from there. This is what is driving me nuts.

Wait on, though. I think I've found a solution. You recall that further up this blog I said I liked the ability to pull a tag off the Address Bar to make a new window. I've found that if I do this I can close the page by clicking the X at the top corner of the page. Voila, no blank page and no small whirly thing in the middle.

The other thing I kinda like, although I'm not sure I like it better than the row of favourite sites below my Menu Bar in IE 8, is the ability to pin these favourite sites to my Windows 7 Task Bar. The idea is that the site icon will stick there. Well it took a bit of trial and error in the first place to successfully pin a website to the bar. I pinned Smashwords and then my own website, they both came up with Internet Explorer icon, then I pinned my two You Tube videos to the task bar and they came up as two separate You Tube icons. So you can see the difficulty. It is identifying which of the favourite icons is the one you want, although all is not lost because if you right click the icon it tells you which site it relates too. What a hassle.

Apart from these small moans I'm gradually coming to terms with IE 9, although I still find myself going to the left of the screen to click favourites instead of the top right corner.

Moans over - until the next time.


Saturday, 9 April 2011

Carry on Screaming

Screaming is usually something I write about, and chapters ending with a scream are usually effective. However, I have just returned from a holiday which involved a lot of screaming, a fair bit of fear, and quite a few heart-stopping moments. I'm talking about my holiday to Euro-Disney with my grandchildren.

The holiday was really good, although a different experience for me. Last year's holiday was a bit more posh because I went to Venice on the Orient Express. Unfortunately for me, Hercule Poirot was nowwhere to be seen. Grandchildren, however, don't appreciate that sort of holiday, so Euro-Disney it was.

Naively I thought I would get off with watching them as they cavorted on all the scary rides, but grandchildren have a way of getting round you and it wasn't long before I was screaming my head off on the terrifying Thunder Mountain, Crush's Coaster, Pirates of the Carribean and a succession of equally scary rides. I put my foot down though at the Tower of Terror - even one of my grandchildren chickened out of that one.

So what has all this to do with a blog that I'd hoped to devote to writing, reading and all things related? Well, it allowed me to experience a variety of emotions that I normally only write about, and I also found myself eyeing up the settings. Alice's Curious Labyrinth, for example, would make a superb body dump, and the opportunity for a wide variety of mayhem could be provided by the multitude of dark and creepy places on which many of the rides and attractions were based.

So it wasn't a waste of time in the writer sense. And, I must say, I did enjoy it, even the screaming!

Au revoir, until the next time.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Crime writing author

How do I begin? I'd better tell you a little bit about myself before I get down to blogging.

This is my first blog as a - hopefully - reasonably successful crime writer. I started out writing a bit over 20 years ago and soon became published as a short story and article writer. I went on to write novels. My first attempt was a saga. I wrote it just as sagas went out of fashion. Sod's law they call it. Anyway I moved on to crime writing and I suppose I should have started there to begin with because my reading of choice is crime, the darker the better. Up until the time I got published I had written four novels - determination is my middle name - or is it simply pig-headedness.

My big break came when I won the Dundee International Book Prize with my novel 'The Screaming Woods'. One of the conditions of the prize award was that the book's title should be changed - I would have stood on my head if they'd asked me - so it was a no-brainer to agree. The book, a crime thriller, retitled as 'Dead Wood', was published in 2009, and what a fabulous feeling that was. There is nothing quite so thrilling as holding your own book in your hands. I positively drooled over the bookshop shelves for months.

My most recent crime thriller, Night Watcher, has now been published as an eBook, in all ereader formats, and is available from the Amazon Kindle Store, or This is a new experience for me and I'm wondering how to get my book noticed among all those thousands of eBooks out there. I can only hope quality will count.

Well, that's me in a nutshell.

Until we meet again.