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Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Hogmanay and New Year is a time of celebration in Scotland and I would like to include you all in my celebrations.

So I would like to raise my glass to you and wish all my readers and followers a Happy New Year, and I hope 2013 will be a year of joy and delight for you all. I've appreciated your company, and your interest in me and my books, and I can only hope I can meet your expectations over the coming year.

So here's to you - a Happy New Year and many of them.

Chris Longmuir

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Who invited the Night Watcher to the party?

Bill Murphy turns the invitation over, trying to see who has sent it, but all it said was, ‘Meet me at Donovan’s at 7pm’. He snorts and throws it into the waste bin. He isn’t in the mood for the pub tonight, and he’s sworn off the drink. But curiosity gets the better of him, and he fishes the gilt edged card out of the bin, and now here he is, outside Donovan’s.
The noise hits him as soon as he opens the door, and the place looks different. It’s like New Year's Eve, with balloons and bunting everywhere. Someone releases a party popper, and the paper streamers erupt over his head.
‘I knew you’d come.’ Sue does a little jiggly dance in front of him.
‘What’s the celebration?’ Bill accepts the glass she thrusts into his hand.
‘You mean you don’t know?’ Sue throws up her hands in mock horror and produces a book. ‘Why, it’s the launch of Night Watcher in paperback.’
‘So what’s so important about that?’
‘You, mate. It’s where you were born, inside the pages of Night Watcher.’
‘But Night Watcher’s been on ereaders for yonks now, so why are we celebrating the paperback?’
‘Don’t you think it’ll be better for you if the pages can be turned as paper, instead of being poked with a finger?’
Bill shrugs. ‘I’ve been in paper before. I was in Dead Wood, remember?’
‘Ah, but Dead Wood wasn’t your birthplace. You were born in Night Watcher, and we’re celebrating your birth in print.’ Sue removes the umbrella stick, and sips the blue coloured concoction in her glass. ‘And everyone’s here to celebrate with you. Look, there’s Julie over there, you like her, don’t you?’
Bill looks, but Julie is deep in conversation with a guy who has a rope dangling round his neck.
A surge of jealousy courses through him. ‘Who’s that with her?’
‘That’s her husband, Dave. Nice looking guy, I could go for him.’
‘But didn’t he die in Chapter Two?’ Bill stares, he’d never seen the guy when his face wasn’t distorted.
‘Yeah! But he said he liked a good party and didn’t want to miss it.’
Bill looks round the room. Everyone is here, right enough. Nicole and Scott are seated in the corner. Bill is tempted to go over and speak to them but he isn’t sure if they know what is in store for them and he doesn’t want to provide them with any spoilers. Better they don’t know anyway.
‘Hang on a minute, Sue. Who’s that hooded chap over in the corner, the one sitting on his own, the weird looking guy?’
Sue looks over the rim of her glass. ‘Oh, him, that’s the Night Watcher. I had a bit of a job convincing him to come, but I felt he should be here, it’s his story as well. But it’s better if he’s left alone, he’s not very sociable.’
‘This is the weirdest party I’ve ever been at,’ Bill grumbles, taking a sip of his whisky. ‘Why am I drinking this stuff? I don’t like whisky. I wish someone would give me a rum and coke.’
‘That’s something you’ll have to take up with your creator. Oh, and speaking of the devil, here she comes now.’
‘Damn and blast, she’s bound to spoil the party.’
‘What happened to the “F” word you’re so fond of using?’
Bill shrugs. ‘Well it is a celebration and we are appearing on Chris’s blog, so I’m on my best behaviour.’
Sue snorts into her drink. ‘Best behaviour? Now I’ve heard it all.’ She looks up. ‘Watch out, here she comes.’
Bill looks moodily into his drink. ‘Yeah, Miss Goody Two Shoes, the party will go downhill from now on. She doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, doesn’t even swear, although she puts plenty of swear words into my mouth.’
‘Shh, she’ll hear you. Remember she has the power of life and death in those fingers of hers.’
Bill shudders. ‘Yeah, we spend our days hunting for killers and she’s the biggest killer of them all.’
Bill looks up and smiles. ‘Hi Chris, glad you could join us. D’you think you could sign my book?’ He produces the copy of Night Watcher that Sue had given him earlier.
‘Just put, Bill, the great detective.’
Sue chokes on her drink and turns away to hide her smile.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the party, and now I’ll tell you a little bit about Night Watcher. But first, I have an invitation for you to attend the launch. It's over on loveahappy and I'd love to see you there.

 Night Watcher is the first book in my Dundee Crime Series, although the second book in the series, Dead Wood, was actually published first. So in some ways you could call it a prequel, although I prefer to say it’s the first in the series.
A large part of the action takes place in Drake's department store, which Christopher Brookmyre felt was a gothic setting with a character all of its own.
The main character in Night Watcher, is Julie who is devastated when her husband Dave is found dead. She blames Nicole, the woman he left her for and seeks to destroy her life in the same way she thinks Nicole destroyed Dave.
The main police character is Detective Sergeant Bill Murphy, however in my books the police are secondary characters to the victims and the bad guys.
Here is a look at the cover and how the book is described on Amazon:-

Two stalkers - one target

A mysterious stranger arrives in Dundee, with a mission to find a new Chosen One to punish. He selects Nicole, a woman with a weakness for men.
One of Nicole's paramours is found hanged and everyone assumes he has committed suicide. However, his estranged wife, Julie, knows better and blames his death on Nicole. Obsessed with the need to punish Nicole, Julie stalks her, unaware that there is another stalker, the deranged and dangerous Night Watcher.
Who will exact punishment on Nicole first? What price will Nicole have to pay for her misdemeanors?
Will Julie's mind games drive Nicole over the edge? And what price will Julie have to pay for her obsession.
Only the Night Watcher knows!
Night Watcher is the first book in the Dundee Crime Series -Dead Wood is the second.

Review quotes:-

Night watcher is the sort of novel that keeps the reader glued to its pages, frantically guessing as the plot takes numerous twists and turns. Alex Gray, Crime Writer
This is a complex and very well crafted tale, beautifully put together -full of a sense of foreboding, and full of menace. Catherine Czerkawska
Chris Longmuir is an award winning novelist as well as an established writer of short stories and articles. Night Watcher won the Scottish Association of Writers' Pitlochry Award, and the sequel, Dead Wood, won the Dundee International Book Prize, as well as the Pitlochry Award.
Amazon UK

Web site –

Twitter –  @ChrisLongmuir

UK Launch:-

US Launch:-


Friday, 23 November 2012

Happy Reading – It’s Book Week in Scotland

This is what the Scottish BookTrust says – Book Week Scotland is Scotland's first national celebration of books and reading, taking place from 26 November to 2 December 2012. The week-long programme of events is bursting with fantastic opportunities for people from all ages, interests and reading abilities, to embark or continue on a reading journey.
Now I’m all in favour of that, but I don’t need the excuse of a special book week to read. I’ve been reading non-stop since I was five years old. I have a very clear memory of returning from my first day at school, to tell my granny, that I could read. Of course, she didn’t believe me. After all, who on earth ever heard of being able to read after one lesson. I can’t remember whether I had been involved in books before that, maybe I had learned to read through osmosis when I was being read to. I don’t know, because I have no memories of being read to. However, in order to prove my reading ability to her, I opened my school book and read. I can even remember the first sentence in that book which was the very simple ‘The cat sat on the mat’. Nothing very ambitious there, but it was a start.
One of my favourite books was the Treasure Island one
So from that day forward, my nose was never out of a book. I progressed through Enid Blyton’s works, to boarding school books involving The Chalet Girls and all their exploits. Oh, how I wished I could go to boarding school and have midnight feasts and pillow fights. It was a natural progression from there to murder and mystery with Agatha Christie, before I reached my teens.
This was a naughty book at the time but would be considered tame nowadays
Like most teenagers (I think) I became interested in naughty books. We had a wee shop in our town called The Trick Shop, which was run by an elderly couple – well, they seemed elderly to me at the time. This shop sold all kinds of tricks and puzzles, but they also sold under the counter books. This was where I was initiated into books like Forever Amber, and Lady Chatterleys Lover, although I never really understood all the fuss about the latter, and I found it so boring that when it was banned, later on, I couldn’t bear to reread it to find out what the four letter word was.
I didn't realise these books would still be available. They could be classed as penny dreadfuls
Then I found Hank Janson in a hidden stash of my father’s books. These stories were a revelation, all about American gangsters, teenage thugs and flick knives. I was fascinated by the flick knives because I’d never heard of these before. It was only many years later I found out that Hank Jansen was a generic name for a series of writers, one of whom was Bob Monkhouse, the entertainer. Apparently he churned his share of these books out at the rate of one every two weeks for which he was paid the princely sum of half-a-crown (2shillings and sixpence, which in today’s money is 12½ pence). Who ever said that writers well well paid?
I grew out of the naughty books phase and moved on to horror, starting with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, then I read Frankenstein, but although I liked the former I never really got into the latter. It was only a slight jump from these horor stories to those of James Herbert. I see he has one of his books, The Secret of Critchley Hall, featuring on television at the moment. I started watching and it’s really good. Then, of course, there was Stephen King, I think I read most of his books, and Dean Koontz who is expert at writing suspense and keeping you on the edge of your seat.
But enough of horror. I also went through a saga phase, reading Catherine Cookson, Evelyn Hood, Margaret Thomson Davis and many others. I liked the earthy ones written about ordinary people. I never really got the taste for reading about lords and ladies, kings and queens, and the glitter and glam of some sagas.

Then I discovered dark crime, and as the years have gone on, the crime has become darker. Some of the best is written by Val McDermid, and Mo Hayder, and writers like that. Oh, and I can’t forget the American writers. I love their work. I’m reading a Jeffery Deaver book at the moment, but there’s also Harlan Coben, Michael Connolly and a score of others.
Lately I’ve also discovered Indie books, and some of them have been a revelation. I’ve read some very good books, although there have also been some turkeys. However, the good ones are really worth the effort of getting into. If you want to get a taste of some of these why don’t you pop over to the Indie eBook Review site, click on the Virtual Bookshelf tag and pick a category to check out some of the reviews.
So there you go, I’ve given you a quick walk through my reading tastes, and I am sure many of them influence me as a writer. I certainly feel that American literature has shaped my writing quite a bit, and I love writing suspense, although I sometimes take a break to write the odd saga or historical.

Now before you go, have a peek at one of my many bookselves - it's a mess, isn't it?


Thursday, 8 November 2012

What’s in a Name?

How important is the name you give your characters? And how much thinking goes into names that do not confuse the reader?
Why am I asking this? Well, over the past few weeks I’ve lacked a certain mobility which means I’ve had time to read over my work in progress from the beginning and do a bit of editing. That was when it struck me! I’ve given my new detective inspector the name, Kate Rawlings. So what’s the matter with that? Well, one of my other characters is Detective Sergeant Sue Rogers and, although she is not the main character, she often pairs up Detective Sergeant Bill Murphy, who is my main character.
So, Rawlings and Rogers, the names are too similar to avoid confusion in a reader’s mind. What to do? What to do?
Well, I can’t rename DS Sue Rogers, because she’s featured in both Night Watcher, and Dead Wood. So that leaves me no choice but to rename DI Kate Rawlings. And she’s not the easiest person to deal with.
Product Details
No problems, I hear you say, just get on with it and rename her. However, it’s not as simple as that, because characters get attached to their names, and there’s going to be a pretty big tantrum when I break it to Kate, that her name needs to be changed.
Product Details

Characters, you see, often make their own decisions about names. When I was writing Dead Wood, my detective constable was called Joanne. Now I like Joanne as a name, Jo for short, but Joanne apparently didn’t take to the name at all, and I found that halfway through the book she’d miraculously turned into Louise. It was decision time. Would I do a find and replace on Louise to turn her back into Joanne, or should I do the reverse. After much thinking I came to the decision that if Joanne wanted to be called Louise, then Louise it should be.
So I’m now back to decision time and building up the courage to tell Kate she can’t be called Rawlings. But then there’s the other problem! What the heck should I call her instead, and will she make the decision for me, or is it back to the Name Dictionaries to find a suitable one? Oh, and what if she doesn’t like the new name I choose? Decisions! Decisions!
How do you name your characters? And are your characters as bolshie as mine? I’d love to know.

Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

I’m Really a Wimp

Hi everyone! A special thanks to my host, Chris Longmuir, for having me as a guest today! Chris has assured me that she’s never had a guest before, so I’ll try to be a well-mannered first guest.

This is me - Stephanie Keyes
Okay, so let’s get on with the post. I have a deep, dark confession to make. I do. How’s that for kicking off our relationship? Anyway, here it goes. I’m a wimp. No, seriously, I am a complete wimp. After I read Chris Longmuir’s Ghost Train, I had to sleep with the lights on. You can only imagine how ticked off my husband was!

That being the case, the question that I get all of the time is this: How do you write such scary stuff if you’re such a wimp? Now you’re getting curious, huh? I’d hoped you would.

Let me give you an example. In my YA Fantasy, The Star Child, there is an Upside-Down Ocean that is filled with the souls of the unforgiven that hovers over a black hole, waiting to suck you in and make you one of them.

I’ve also got Soul Snatchers, who depress you so much that you kill yourself, after which they claim your soul. They lie in wait for any unsuspecting travelers in Faerie.

Oh and don’t forget the evil Celtic god that keeps appearing in mirrors and scaring the pants off of everyone. Not literally, of course.

Maybe there are just a few somewhat scary things in The Star Child after all. But to answer the question, here is how I can write that “stuff”.

Because it isn’t real.

In Chris’ brilliant books, where serial killers stalk the streets and gangs rule the land, those things can truly happen, whereas mine are a product of my imagination or pulled from mythology.

How can I write it? Simple. I just close my eyes and imagine the scariest possible situation. What would terrify me and how could I step that up a notch, keeping in mind that I write in the YA genre. That’s where I pull in the creepy stuff.

But it’s okay, because none of it is real. Right? Mmmh, can I still reach the light switch?

Thank you, Chris, for having me as a guest today! I am still reading Dead Wood, with the light on, and love it.

If you’d like to learn more about my book, The Star Child, check out the information below!

About the Book

The world is about to be cloaked in darkness. 
Only one can stop the night.
Kellen St. James has spent his entire life being overlooked as an unwanted, ordinary, slightly geeky kid. That is until a beautiful girl, one who has haunted his dreams for the past eleven years of his life, shows up spinning
tales of a prophecy. Not just any old prophecy either, but one in which Kellen plays a key role.

Suddenly, Kellen finds himself on the run through a Celtic underworld of faeries and demons, angels and gods, not to mention a really ticked off pack of hellhounds, all in order to save the world from darkness. But will they make it in time?

About the Author

Stephanie Keyes holds an undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems as well as a Master's in Education. A seasoned, facilitator, Mrs. Keyes worked in Training and Development for an international telecommunications corporation for twelve years; spending the first eight years of her career as a Software Trainer and Technical Writer and the last four working in Human Resources and Employee Development.

In May of 2012, Mrs. Keyes left the corporate world to focus on her family and her writing full-time. She also operates a freelance graphic and instructional design business, Sycamore Road Design.

Inkspell Publishing will release her first novel, The Star Child, on September 21, 2012. She is now currently at work on the second book in The Star Child Trilogy, The Fallen Stars.

Keyes lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and Riley the dog.


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Whoopee Crutches Away

I thought I would give you an update on my previous blog where I submitted you to the horrors of the bunion procedure when I kept my date with the man with the scary knife. But before I start here is a photo of me wearing the latest design in footwear!
I bet you'll all be queuing up for a shoe like this - it's the latest fashion
So here it is – since the operation 13 days previously I’d been doing the heel walk on crutches. It’s the latest thing in dance techniques and I’m thinking of offering the choreography to Strictly Come Dancing. But on Thursday I was back at Ninewells Hospital for the next stage in the treatment. It’s an ouchy bit again – I was getting my stitches out.
So, I was up at an unearthly hour to get me there for my 9.15am appointment. Ninewells is between 35-40 miles from Montrose and we were going in with the early morning traffic which meant we left at 7.30am, which also meant I had to be out of bed at 5.30am to make the 5 mile walk to the bathroom and back – washing and dressing takes an eternity, never mind getting breakfast. So off we went, and due to travel delays I was only 15 minutes early for the appointment.
However, I was taken straight away, and it was into the plaster room for me with some lovely nurses, one of whom cut off my bandages and dressings to reveal a rather puffy foot with two rows of stitches. One row pointed towards my big toe, and the other to one of my other toes at the other side of my foot. Gulp! I thought I only had one set of stitches. The nurse advanced on me with some scissors and tweezer like instruments and I immediately turned my eyes away to look at the wall in the corner of the room. Amazing how fascinating walls can become at times like this. Then there was the snip and pull and a sharp sensation – Ouch! Then the same again on the second row of stitches. One of the nurses kindly offered to hold my hand, but by the time I thought about it the stitches were out.
Phew! I was glad that was over. The next thing was a creamy coloured bandage type sleeve was put on my foot, and then I was asked what colour I wanted my plaster. Colour? I thought plasters came in basic white. So I said, ‘What colours have you got?’ She gave me a choice of white, black, green, pink or purple. So I had purple.

My beautiful purple soft plaster bootee

Now I always thought plasters were those solid white concrete looking things that encased you from hip to foot. But she explained it would be a plaster bootee. Mmm, that didn’t sound so bad, much preferable to what I had imagined.
 Got my shoe on now but you can only see the velcro fastenings from the top
 Next thing I was expecting some kind of mini-cement mixer to make the plaster, but it was nothing like that. She produced what looked like a roll of netting bandage, immersed it in a bowl of liquid, and proceeded to wrap it round my foot. It was lovely and warm. I was then asked what colour of shoe I would like with another choice of colours, better match it up to the trainer on my other foot, I thought, which was grey and not a colour they did. So I wound up with a black one.
The latest in fashion footwear, the black plastic shoe (flip flop)
But did I say shoe? More like flip flop, and it is the most awkward thing imaginable to put on your foot because, until you fasten the Velcro straps on the top, it keeps flipping off and is the most difficult thing to get to stay in place long enough to fasten the straps. I’m starting to get the knack of it now, but it’s still awkward.

Then with strict instructions not to put my foot to the ground for half an hour to allow time for the plaster to set, I was ejected from the clinic. Luckily we’d brought along my daughter-in-law’s wheelchair, so we proceeded out of the hospital with my foot stretched out straight in front of the chair so it didn’t make contact with anything solid. Then it was a hop into the car, again keeping the foot in the air, and we were off.
The good thing was that when I got home I found that I could walk easily with the walking stick they gave me, so I got rid of the crutches. And boy, was I glad to see them go.
Anyway, after all my hopalong antics I’m thinking of taking up a second career as a circus acrobat.
Roll on the next five weeks when I can get rid of the cast completely.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

OOPS! Doing a Balancing act with my Laptop

This blog is for all my friends, virtual and otherwise. You see lots of them have taken a real interest in my welfare over the last few days, and I’ve been overwhelmed with the loads of good wishes that have been coming my way. I feel blessed that so many people care. I’ve also had queries about the surgical procedure I’ve undergone and what it entails, so this is for you.

My new glamorous shoe

For those of you not in the know I’d like to explain. You see, on Friday this past week (luckily it was Friday 12th and not the 13th) I had a bunion operation. Glamorous it was not, but necessary it was, because it had got to the stage where it pained me to walk.

I took a while to make the decision to have this operation because I’d heard all the horror stories about it being a nasty, painful procedure. I did my research on the web about what it entailed, and read a few blogs, none of which reassured me in any way. However the decision was made and I asked my GP to set things in motion. That was in June and I expected an acknowledgement at least. However, everything went quiet and I was beginning to think the referral had got lost in the system, but then in September, there it was, an appointment letter for the orthopaedic clinic.

On the appointed day I attended the clinic, had my foot X-rayed, and saw the surgeon. He was a lovely, gentle man, and when I queried how painful the procedure would be, he reassured me that it was more like a ‘bit of discomfort’ rather than the painful procedure I’d been led to expect. I must admit that at that point I was tempted to say ‘Liar, liar, pants on fire’, but of course, being the polite person I am, I restrained myself.

Next thing was the pre-op assessment which was done at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, and I was left with the expectation that I would be admitted for the procedure in November or December, and I could have it done at Stracathro Hospital which is nearer home for me. However, the next day my admission letter plopped through my letterbox, and yes, you don’t have to guess because I’ve already told you, it was October 12th, barely 2 weeks away, and it wasn’t Stracathro Hospital, it was Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, further away therefore not so convenient.

The two weeks sped in and although I had a date I didn’t have a time. So I waited for the hospital to contact prior to admission, but that didn’t happen until the last minute on Thursday afternoon. Then, horror of horrors, I was told to check into the ward at 7am. That meant I would have to leave the house at 5.30am. My granddaughter, who was my designated driver on the day, thought I was joking when I told her.

Anyway, Friday morning we set off in the pouring rain. Tayside had an amber warning that day, but although the roads had a lot of really large puddles we got there all right. Although on the way home my granddaughter had to take detours because by this time the main road was closed due to flooding.

Okay, now for the nitty gritty. I was signed into the ward and put to bed. The surgeon came to see me about 8am. He explained what would happen and drew a lovely arrow on my leg pointing to my foot, plus a couple of daubs of black pen on my big toe nail and the one next to it. These were the toes which required to be straightened. Notice, this is important- 2 toes required to be straightened – no more, no less. I lay back in my bed and waited – and waited. Then at 9am a porter came and wheeled my bed to the theatre, so I got a lovely scenic tour of the hospital corridors. I met some more lovely people who came and talked to me, checking they didn’t have the wrong person. Oh, I forgot to say, I was asked over and over again for my date of birth, hospital staff are fixated on that. However, at my age I don’t really want to dwell on my age or date of birth, so if you find yourself in this position I would advise you to memorise this crucial piece of information.

Notice at this stage I am still wide awake and I can see into the theatre every time someone enters or leaves through the swing doors. I’m starting to get a wee bit worried here. I don’t really want to be awake when they do this, you know. But a nice man who had previously put a wee tube thing in the back of my hand, stuck a needle into it and I reckon it must have had an instantaneous result because I knew no more until I started to wake up in the recovery room and it was all over.

I don’t know how long the operation lasted, all I know was that I was taken to theatre at 9am and was back in the ward at 11am, and that included the time I spent both before and after the op. Oh, and one other thing, when the surgeon popped in to see me later on he told me he’d straightened all 5 toes, and there were pins in 3 of them, so I reckon I got a bargain, just no one told me there would be bargain offers. It was even better than BOGOFF (buy one get one free) in the supermarket.

What my foot looked like after the op complete with artwork

So, how did it affect me? Well, it wasn’t nearly as painful as I expected it to be. Uncomfortable yes, but the pain was bearable, not all that bad really. So now I believed the surgeon’s statement about it being a ‘bit of discomfort’. The anaesthetic didn’t hang around and I was now wide awake and ready for my lunch, and believe me, I cleared my plate – nothing left for the starving children in Africa my granny used to tell me about. However, I suppose I must have been hungry, after all I’d been fasting since the previous night.

Later in the afternoon I was issued with crutches and given a rudimentary lesson on how to use them. I was also told I could go home. The only problem was that the roads were still flooded. No problem, I was told, I could stay overnight and go home the next day when, hopefully, the weather would have cleared up.

I slept as well as anyone can sleep in a hospital ward, and there was no pain to get in the way of that, although sleeping with my leg propped higher than my body was a new experience for me. And before I leave the hospital I need to say the care was excellent and the hospital staff were all great and couldn’t do enough for me.

So now I am home you’ll want to know how things are. Well, I’m certainly not in lots of pain. Things are more awkward and uncomfortable rather than painful, and it’s a nuisance having to keep my leg elevated. However, I manage to hobble a bit on my crutches, there’s a knack to this heel walking which I haven’t fully mastered yet and my progress can be a bit hit and miss, as well as excruciatingly slow. Oh, and the laptop keeps sliding, because it’s balanced at an angle on the leg which isn’t pointing to the sky.

Oh, and one other thing – remember to stay downwind of me, because showering is something I haven’t yet mastered in my current situation.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Melanie Robertson-King in the Hot Seat

I’ve known Melanie Robertson-King for several years now. I met her initially when I was researching an article based on the children who were shipped to Canada in the 19th and 20th century by many of the altruistic charities including Barnardo’s, Quarrier’s, the Salvation Army, and even the Church and Scout movements. These children are often referred to as The Lost Children, and in Canada are known as Home Children.
In the course of my research I stumbled across a Canadian website devoted to these children and what happened to them. I emailed to request permission to use some of the photographs and that was how I met Melanie. She is one of the nicest and most helpful persons it has been my good fortune to meet, and therefore it gives me great pleasure to see the publication of her first book, A Shadow in the Past, and it’s definitely on my list of must have books.

Have a look at Melanie’s book cover, isn’t it fab
When I met Melanie, I didn’t know she was a writer, but then she started to publish articles in various magazines, and now she has produced a novel. I feel proud for her because it is quite an achievement to get a novel published in today’s hard climate. So I really wanted to know how she did it, and she obliged me with an interview. So without further ado, I’ll launch straight into the interview.
Photo of Melanie and her husband in their kitchen at home in Canada. She’ll probably slay me for publishing this
Interviewing Melanie
Melanie, I’ve known you for quite some time now and we first met when I was doing some research on the Canadian Home children who had been shipped to Canada by several charities in Britain. So my first question is related to that.
Do you still have an involvement with the organisation related to the Canadian Home Children and can you tell me something about that?

Yes, I’m still involved with the Quarriers Canadian Family. I’ve done presentations at area genealogical and historical societies on the subject. I get a number of e-mails from people looking for assistance in tracing their ancestor’s roots once it’s discovered they’ve come from an agency such as Quarriers (then known as The Orphan Homes of Scotland). If anyone is interested, the Quarriers Canadian Family maintains a website. It’s located at
Tell me something about your writing career. When did you start writing? And how long was it before you published your first article? And are you still writing and publishing articles?

I wrote stories when I was a teenager and then after I finished my education, stopped writing for a number of years. It wasn’t until about 1999-2000 that I started up again. I enrolled in a creative writing course and the first assignment was to seek out publications and find out their guidelines etc. So I chose The Scottish Banner and our local free weekly paper The St. Lawrence EMC. Then I wrote an article for each of them for my next assignment. No surprise, it was on Home Children. I wasn’t out and out rejected by the EMC (they had made some formatting changes – titles in various sections of the article) but they never printed it. The Scottish Banner; however, did without as much as a bye your leave so you can imagine my surprise when I opened up my Dec 2001 issue and there was my article!

I would never get rich on the money I’ve made with my articles but it was a niche that I felt comfortable in. I’d written the occasional short story for local contests but that’s as far as my fiction writing went.

The last article I had published was about the abandoned railway that ran from Brockville to Westport and it was printed in 2011.
It was a long time before I knew you were writing a novel, so when did the urge to do this, grab you? Did you tell anyone what you were writing? If you didn’t, when did you come out of the cupboard?

Well, we go back to the short stories and around the time that Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series was big. A friend thought I could write something every bit as good so I came up with an overgrown short story (I think around 16,000 words) and called it Sarah’s Gift. While I was taking my creative writing course, my instructor asked why I didn’t write a novel because in his words “I could write a cracker.” Not knowing where to start, I thought why not resurrect Sarah’s Gift? So I did and over the duration of my course turned it into a novel... not a well written one I can honestly say looking back on it. I think I e-mailed you in the early days and told you that one of the publishing houses I had submitted to, wanted me to send the full manuscript. I can’t remember what year that was now but suffice it to say I received a number of rejects before finally landing the contract with 4RV Publishing.
How did you find the transition from article writer to novel writer? Was it difficult to change your writing style? And how long did it take you to write A Shadow in the Past?

Actually, the transition was easier than I expected it to be. It could have been because I wove a number of factual events into my writing. I always tried to keep my articles somewhat light rather than dry and clinical so the change in style came relatively easily.

How long to write A Shadow in the Past? Over all, with work and the occasional not writing funk because I thought my work was terrible, a very long time. I would think likely 4-5 years maybe 6 especially if you count the fact it started as a short story.
Now you are a published novelist, tell me what it feels like?

I have so many emotions right now about being a published novelist – surreal, thrilled, scared – being at the top of the heap. Every now and then, I think that I’m going to wake up and discover it’s all been a dream.
Have you started the next book? And can you tell me anything about it?

Yes, I have a couple more in the works. Originally, there was a Part 2 to A Shadow in the Past but I decided it would work better as a sequel so I’ve got it written, although with the changes that have been made, there will be some heavy-duty rewrites to be done.

I have another manuscript completely finished called The Anniversary (again started as a short story) which I originally thought would be book 2 of a 3 book series. But I’m not sure how that’s going to fit now. And I have another one in the works. I’d written the beginning and ending but no middle. It’s about a helicopter that ditches in the North Sea. Well shortly after I started it, helicopters started falling out of the sky off the eastern coast of Canada and in the North Sea, so I stopped. I posted a snippet from it in the loveahappyending Facebook group back in the summer and got some interesting feedback.
Well, that’s been very interesting Melanie, and you’ve whetted my appetite for the book. Good luck with the sales, not that I think you’ll need it, and I look forward to seeing the next book come out.
About Melanie
Melanie Robertson-King author of A Shadow in the Past
A Shadow in the Past is Melanie Robertson-King’s debut novel. Prior to turning her hand to fiction, she wrote articles and has been published in Canada, the US and the UK. In addition to writing, her interests include genealogy, photography and travel. On one of her trips to Scotland, she had the honor of meeting The Princess Royal.
Melanie is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Ottawa Chapter.
She lives in Brockville, Ontario, Canada along the shore of the majestic St. Lawrence River with her husband, son and oldest grandson.

About the book
A Shadow in the Past
When a contemporary teen is transported back through time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…
When nineteen year old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland, she has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.
Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret.
Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, confronts them head on and suffers the consequences.

When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

Where to buy:

Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC
Author Website:
Author Blog: Celtic Connexions
Facebook Author Page:
Twitter Account: @RobertsoKing!/RobertsoKing


Monday, 8 October 2012

Woohoo - It's Party Time

I am not here today. I have put on my party shoes and can be found at the fabulous Surfing in Stiletto party at Come and join me for some fantastic prizes, surprises, and desirable shoes.

I'm having a fab time at the party so pop over and join me. You won't be sorry.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?

In case you’re wondering, the answer is no, I’m not clever enough to think up a title like the one above. It’s a lovely name for a blog though, and the reason I’m using it is to let you know that this is where my blog post will be today. Here’s the link you will want to click to see it
My blog post has the title What is Tartan Noir? And I’m sure you’ll want to read it to find out.
A bit about Do Authors Dream of Electric Books. This is a fascinating blog well worth following. There are approximately thirty contributors and a new post goes online every day. My day for posting is the 19th day each month, so if you pop onto the site today you’ll catch my post. However, if you go there after the 19th you can still scroll down the page to find me. Oh, and you never know what other fascinating titbits might come up in the process.
So, I look forward to seeing you while I dream of electric books, and maybe you’ll join in my dream by leaving me a comment.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

So Whats New? The Next Big Thing

It’s autumn now, or at least if feels like it, and it’s the time for new things. New series on the telly – are you watching Dr Who? – and I’m told Downton Abbey is just about to appear again. New books – aren’t you fed up with Fifty Shades yet? New films – I’m not up to them as there is no cinema in my town. So what else is new? Well, last week I was tagged by one of my Love a Happy Ending mates, Mandy Baggot, in her blog post ‘The Next Big Thing’, so this week it’s my turn! I have to answer ten questions about my work in progress and tag five other writers to tell you about their latest work next Wednesday. But before we start I have to make an admission! The work in progress is progressing very slowly because I’ve taken time out to prepare Night Watcher for a paperback edition. So watch this space, it won’t be long before it is out.
Now for the work in progress, the novel I really must sit down and finish because I’m only a smidgin from the end.
Check out the questions and my answers. I’ll try to be as honest as I can!

1.What is the working title of your next book?

Well, over time it’s had a couple of working titles. It started out as Vigilante, and then it changed to Predator, and I’m not going to tell you what the final title is as it’s under wraps at the present.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I suppose it started out by one of my friends suggesting I should write a book with a plot that involved computers, because I’m a bit of a techie nerd. So I turned over some ideas in my head and played around with ideas about chat rooms and internet predators, and the plot developed from there, although I must say it became a tad more complicated than my original idea with my usual dose of sub plots and twists. I’m not going to tell you any more, you’ll just have to read it when it comes out.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Same genre as Night Watcher and Dead Wood, it’s a psychological crime thriller and is the third in the Dundee Crime series.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm! I’m not sure who I’d like for DS Bill Murphy. It would have to be a younger version of Liam Neeson. I rather like Nathan Fillion, but he’s too quirky for Bill, so the role is open to any takers. I think Julianne Moore would be ideal for DS Sue Rogers.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Jade vanished five years ago – is she alive or dead – and who is doing all the killing?

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ve been published both ways and decided some time ago that self publishing was the way I wanted to go. You see, I’m a bit of a control freak, and I like to keep my hands on the driving wheel. Agents and publishers tend to impose conditions which I’m not comfortable with.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I hate to admit it but I’ve been working on this novel for over a year, and I’m behind schedule. I usually allow a year from beginning to final publication, you need that kind of time to ensure the novel is as good as it can be, and to allow for the revision and editing process to make sure the book meets that criteria.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It’s difficult to make comparisons because a book is unique to the author who writes it. Let’s just say that I veer more towards Val McDermid than Agatha Christie.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I think it’s my own inner demons who provide that push. Writing is an addiction, it’s an itch you just have to scratch.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope the fact that it’s the third book in the Dundee Crime Series will be enough to tempt my readers to pounce on it.

Now! “Tag you’re it!”
Here are some great authors I’ve tagged to tell us what their next big thing is. Hopefully they’ll have time to tell us what they’re working on.

  1. Gilli Allan:
  2. Miriam Wakerly:
  3. Carol E Wyer:
  4. Eileen Schuh:
  5. Harvey Black:

I look forward to getting a sneak peak of what they’re writing and hope you will too.


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Do Writers need Writers Groups?

I got to wondering how other writers see writers’ groups. Are they beneficial? Or are they just social gatherings?
Well, there are all types of writers’ groups and whether or not you are involved is, of course a matter of choice. I am involved in several of these groups, physical ones and virtual ones. Let’s look at the physical ones first.
Members of Angus Writers' Circle

The first group I became involved with was Angus Writers’ Circle I was one of the founder members over 20 years ago. At that time I was a novice writer and much of my writing really wasn’t worth publishing. I’ve progressed since then, my writing has improved, and I’ve become a professional writer. Now I don’t know whether I would have had the same outcome if I’d never belonged to Angus Writers’ Circle, but I can say that the crits and encouragement I experienced along the way did help me develop as a writer.
I have to say, though, that there are writers’ groups in existence which simply give praise irrespective of the quality of writing. These groups do nothing to help a writer develop. The groups that are of the most benefit are the ones which are honest with their crits, even if the truth hurts.
One of the benefits of belonging to a writers’ group is acceptance to professional bodies like the Scottish Association of Writers. I have attended their weekend conferences on a regular basis over the past 20 odd years, and have been awarded many prizes from their annual writing competitions. The most prized of these was when I won the Pitlochry Award on two different occasions, once for Night Watcher, and again for Dead Wood before it went on to win the Dundee International Book Prize.
Margaret Thomson Davies presenting me with the Pitlochry Award for Night Watcher

But crits, encouragement and awards are not the only benefits from belonging to these groups, there is also the social aspect, the networking, and the acceptance from other writers. I met many of my now more famous friends through these groups, at a time before they became famous. People like Ian Rankin and Alex Gray. I could name many more, but enough of the name dropping and let’s get on with the blog.
It’s time to have a look at virtual groups. There are many of these around, particularly on Facebook. I’ve sampled a few of these and when they become overloaded with ‘buy my book’ posts to the exclusion of most of the other posts, I usually back out the door and only look in occasionally.
The exception to these is the three main groups I’m heavily involved with. I’ll take them one at a time.
First there’s the group which is an invitation only group for authors, although they also have readers, editors and publishers as members. This group started a year ago and as of this morning there have been over a million visits to the website. When I was invited to join, I think my first response was ‘You do know what kind of books I write?’ You see I never thought of my books as being anything to do with happy endings. The response when it came was that they wanted a mix of authors and anyway, in my crime books, the fact that the crime was resolved equated to a happy ending. So I agreed to join and actually felt quite honoured to be one of their thirty authors, because that was the maximum amount they take on as members at any one time. If you want to have a look here is the link

Then there is the Famous Five Plus group, FFP for short I saw this coming to prominence on Twitter and became curious, so that was why I joined it. I’ve had no regrets about joining, although members are expected to promote the group through Twitter and other media sites. That’s why you’ll see me with loads of retweets involving FFP. But it’s a fabulous group with lots of lovely members who are supportive. The website’s pages are worth checking out, they have a Home page, Books page, Authors page, Review page and loads more. They also post an excerpt from one of the books every day. I love it when it’s my turn. Oh, and they also have a readers’ club if you would like to join. The details are on the Books page of the site here’s the link
Last and not least, there is the Authors Electric group, which again is an invitation only group. Each member is expected to provide a blog post for their blog – Do Authors Dream of Electric Books. My turn is on the 19th of each month if you want to check me out. The blog itself is a mix of posts from various writers and is well worth a look. Here’s the link

Well, that’s an overview of the groups I’m involved with and all I can say is that I find them beneficial. However, whether you would is a different matter and only you can decide whether to join a group or not. The only advice I would give is, be selective.