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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

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

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Authors Electric Christmas e-Book Bargains

Did Santa put a Kindle or maybe another make of ereader in your stocking, then what are you waiting for? Hop over to Authors Electric and check out the e-book bargains, you might see something you like. It runs from Christmas Day until 28th December, and the authors featured on Authors Electric are the cream of the ebook writers and publishers. Providing you choose the kind of book you like reading, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Happy christmas everyone.

Chris Longmuir

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Are You Superstitious

Brian Taylor who asked the question "Are you superstitious"
I was invited to sit on a panel for a BBC radio programme recently. It was Brian Taylor’s Big Debate, and the questions put to the panel were all very serious and political. However, because this debate was held so near to Christmas and because it was Friday the thirteenth, Brian Taylor finished up with what he called a ‘daft question’. And the question was – Are you superstitious?’

I was the first one he asked, and I don’t consider myself superstitious, so all I would admit to was a dislike of walking under ladders, and that was all to do with workmen and buckets of paint! However, when he worked his way round the rest of the panel and the audience, everyone else said the same thing. Now, were they copycatting me, or is it true that everyone else is only concerned with ladders.

Thinking about it later, I must confess I never put new shoes on a table, and I don’t cut my finger or toenails on a Friday or Sunday, because although I’m not superstitious, I don’t want the devil after me for the rest of the week.

As for Friday the thirteenth, there are too many of my family members with birthdays on the thirteenth for me to be superstitious about that.

So, what other superstitions are there. Well, there’s the one about a rabbit’s foot bringing luck – I’ve never had a rabbit’s foot so I can’t comment on that one. Then there’s an apple a day keeps the doctor away – but that’s not really a superstition and recent medical research suggests it’s true. What about the four-leaf clover bringing good luck. well, I’d like to think that one is true because I have a friend who has loads of them in her garden and she gives me one every time I publish a book, and the books haven’t done too badly.

There’s loads more, the bad luck opals, for example, but I like opals so I refuse to believe that one. The broken mirror and seven years bad luck. I don’t really believe it, but I haven’t broken any mirrors lately, and anyway they say if you break a cocktail stick in half after breaking the mirror, it reverses the bad luck.

I think I’ll give up on the common superstitions now so that I can have a peek at the Christmas ones.

Did you know, for example, that the amount of Christmas pies you eat on Christmas Eve will determine the amount of luck you have over the next year. Great excuse for pigging out methinks. And do you know that if you light candles on Christmas Eve you shouldn’t put them out before Christmas day, otherwise it’s bad luck. Just keep your fingers crossed the house doesn’t burn down overnight. Oh, and if you still have an open fire (I don’t) then your yule log should be cut or found rather than bought. I’m allergic to housework so I don’t like the next one, and that’s the need to sweep your front doorstep first thing on Christmas morning to sweep away any trouble. Then there’s the mistletoe kiss. If you try to avoid it then you’ll have bad luck, so close your eyes and imagine it’s Johnny Depp, or someone else you fancy. Back to housework! If you make your own Christmas pud, everyone in the house has to stir it three times. I’m going to stop now, but before I go I must warn you about holly. If you bring it into the house and the leaves are prickly then the husband will be the master, but if the leaves are smooth, it’s the wife who is in charge.

If I wanted I could go on and on writing about superstitions, but I’ll leave it here and wish everyone best wishes over the holiday period. But watch out for that black cat, and stray ladders.

Chris Longmuir

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Bloody Scotland on Tour

Bloody Scotland Panel - Val McDermid, Professor Sue Black (forensic anthropologist), and Stuart MacBride

Just in case you’re wondering, it’s Scottish Book Week, and Bloody Scotland is going on tour. If you don’t know what Bloody Scotland is, then it’s time you did. You see, Bloody Scotland is a crime festival that is held in Stirling every September. It’s been going for two years now, and was the brain child of Alex Gray and Lin Anderson, both of them well-known and best-selling crime authors. After thinking up the original idea of holding a crime festival in Scotland they were joined by crime authors, agents and promoters to form a committee to take the idea forward. The result was the highly successful Bloody Scotland.

Readers and writers travel from all corners of the globe to attend the festival and the tickets have been a sell out for both of the years it has been held. If you are thinking of coming along in 2014, I’d advise you book early. And if you do attend then you’re in for a treat because all the big names are there to entertain you. This year we numbered Lee Child, Jo Nesbo, and Christopher Brookmyre. Regular supporters of the festival include Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, and Stuart MacBride. There are many more, most of them well known crime authors, and the majority of them best-sellers.

Well, that’s enough about what Bloody Scotland is, and if you want to know more pop onto the website and check it out. Here is the link.

So, this year, for the first time, Bloody Scotland is going on tour. Here is the link for the tour programme. There are loads of treats at all sorts of venues, and a lot of best-selling crime authors appearing. Check the programme for details. But the thing I really wanted to share with you is that I will be part of a panel of authors appearing at the Steps Theatre in Dundee, on Monday 25th November, from 7pm to 8.30pm. The panel members will be Gillian Galbraith, Chris Longmuir (me), Gordon Brown, and Will Jordan. It’s going to be a great evening, so if you’re anywhere near Dundee on Monday why don’t you pop along to the Steps Theatre and join us in, what I hope will be, a lively session.

 Chris Longmuir

Friday, 25 October 2013

Dundee Book Prize Winner Announced

Chris Longmuir, winner of the Dundee International Book Prize 2009
As a past winner of the Dundee International Book Prize, I always take a keen interest in the current winner, so when I spotted the headline ‘Dark Tale Lands City’s Book Prize’ in the Dundee Courier and Advertiser, I had to read on.

Nicola White, winner 2013
This year’s winner is Nicola White, with a book called ‘In the Rosary Garden’, and the book sounds as if it’s right up my street. It is a crime story set in Ireland, but if you want to know more about it, do what I did and hop over to Amazon to read the blurb. The kindle ebook is on sale now, and the paperback will be available soon. And if you want to know more about Nicola you’ll find her on the Dundee International Book Prize website Winners’ Page.

Nicola is the ninth author to win this prestigious prize, which is claimed to be the biggest cash prize for an unpublished book, in Europe. If you want to see the previous winners you can access them on the Winner’s page as well, and if you click on 2009, you’ll find me.

One thing I did notice when I looked down the list of past winners was the prevalence of Scottish writers. Five of the nine winners were Scots. The year I won it, I remember one review commented that the prize was always won by a Dundee writer, and this took the pleasure of the win away. In my case the comment wasn’t true because, although I base my crime series in Dundee, I don’t live there. However, when I looked down the list of previous winners the strange thing was that the first three were all based in Dundee. Number four lived in France, I was number five and live in Angus. Number six came from Wigan, and number seven from Dublin. Last year’s winner was from New York, and this year’s winner is well travelled, because although she lives on the Clyde coast, she grew up in Dublin and New York.

Since winning the prize I haven’t given much thought to the comment about all the winners being Dundonians. But thinking about it now I feel that this is actually a compliment. It means Dundee is full of talented writers, because I cannot imagine the judges will know the geographic location of the authors who submit entries.

Nicola's winning book
I can understand what Nicola is feeling right now, because it will be similar to my feelings back in 2009. A blend of excitement and disbelief. The feeling you are going to wake up the next day and it was all a dream. All I can say to Nicola is, ‘Enjoy it while it lasts, and if there are any snide comments in the reviews your book gets, ignore them. You know your book is good, the judges knew it was good, and now the readers will get their chance to find out how good it is.’

I can’t wait to read it.

Before you go, one of the runner ups to the Dundee Book Prize is offering her short listed book as a free ebook download today. I'm not sure how long this offer will be up there so I would advise you to check it out right now. The author is Elizabeth Kay, and the book is titled 'Beware of Men with Moustaches'. It looks like a cracking good read, and I've already downloaded my copy.

Chris Longmuir

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Murder Capital of Scotland

Dundee Police Headquarters

Last week’s Dundee Courier and Advertiser, the newspaper for the whole of the Tayside region, displayed a provocative headline – Dundee is Murder Capital of Scotland.

That was some statement. But as the writer of the Dundee Crime Series, it certainly divorces me from comparisons with Midsomer Murders. Not that my books were ever like this because my writing is considerably darker than the popular cosy crime series. However, when a writer chooses a specific town in which to set their murders, the body count is liable to go up.

So, what makes Dundee the murder capital of Scotland. Well, it’s nothing to do with the body count, and it’s all to do with statistics.

Apparently, between 2012 - 2013, there were 62 homicides in Scotland. Now, a prolific crime writer can easily manage to beat that figure in the area they write about. I’m sure Midsomer Murders’ body count is higher than that over the space of one series.

Of those 62 homicides, six occurred in Dundee – great word that ‘occurred’, it really doesn’t do justice to the bloodthirsty nature of the crimes. Six doesn’t seem a lot to warrant giving Dundee the title of ‘murder capital’, but here’s where statistics come into play. It’s all to do with population, you see. The lower the population the higher the percentage.

So, let’s compare it with Glasgow where there were 19 murders over the same period. Surely this should have made Glasgow, Scotland’s murder capital. Glasgow, however, has a far higher population than Dundee, so the 19 murders only equated to 3.19 murders per 100,000 people. Can you have .19 of a murder? And what happened to the other .81? Ah well such things are beyond me. Anyway, to get back to the point. Dundee’s measly six murders equated to 4.05 per 100,000 people. There’s those pesky numbers below the decimal point again. Ah, well, I’m not going to worry about that this time.

Funnily enough, both Edinburgh and Aberdeen only had two murders each. Ian Rankin’s going to be out of a job. But me, as long as I keep setting my books in Dundee, Scotland’s murder capital, I can’t go wrong.

Check out the Dundee Crime series when you have a minute, because there are more murders in my writing territory than there are in Ian Rankin’s.

Chris Longmuir

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Having Fun Doing Research

Research is a word that conjures up an activity that is dull and boring. It builds an image of a scholar sitting in a library pouring over dusty tomes of knowledge. Or pinning down experts in the field of whatever you’re researching, in long and boring talks. In our minds it can be linked to school, college, or university, and an activity that is enforced in able to attain the desired object, the qualification or degree, in that specific subject.

But it doesn’t have to be like that, and if you are really interested in the area you want to research, it can be exciting and stimulating.

Now, I am better known for my crime novels and, of course, like everything an author writes about, it requires a certain amount of research. But I’m not going to talk about crime research today. What I want to talk about is historical research. I can already hear the groans. No doubt there is a certain amount of study involved, books, films, TV programmes, and of course our friendly librarian.

When I wrote my historical saga, A Salt Splashed Cradle, it required a lot of research into fishing villages, fisher customs, and everything a villager might be involved with. I read a lot of books. The Peter Anson ones were particularly helpful, and I used a lot of the information in my novel.
The fisher women busy hanging out their washing

But here comes the fun bit. The village of Auchmithie, on the east coast of Scotland, holds a festival every second year. It’s called the Haar Festival, and for those of you who don’t know, haar is a sea mist or fog. The festival runs over 2 days, and it features enactments of the fisher folks lives, a form of street theatre. They act out the fisher wives doing their washing, baiting the lines for their fisher husbands, and they even have a fisher wedding. It’s all great fun, acted with great humour, and some traditional songs.
Fisher women baiting the lines

Washing the bride's feet before the wedding

The wedding party at the church with Annie Gilruth commenting on the wedding customs

There are also children’s games, but they are not modern games, they are the traditional ones. A coconut shy, cans to be knocked over, and horseshoe throwing, as well as a traditional tug of war. This culminates in the Mucklebackit race where children form teams and run a relay with a life size dummy on their back. This race is based on one of the fisher customs, a very necessary one, where the women carried their fisher husbands to the boats, so they would have dry feet when they sailed.
One of the racers in the Mucklebackit race, with the fisherman on his back
This poor fisherman has been a tad unlucky
The harbour where the Auchmithie fisher women carried their men to the boats

The festival starts with Annie Gilruth, a historic benefactor of the village, providing the narration into the historical context. She leads crowds of people between each street event, and believe me, the village is packed with spectators during this festival.
We mustn't forget Annie Gilruth who provided the commentary, ably acted by Auchmithie resident Ann Craig

So, there’s lots to learn as well as being a visual entertainment. And that’s where the fun and the research become one.

When I wrote A Salt Splashed Cradle, I had the women paddling for mussels in the mud of a tidal basin. They baited the lines, smoked their clay pipes, carried the men to the boats on their backs, and walked to the towns with their creels of fish. When one of my characters married, I made sure they danced the ‘lang reel’, although that is more common in villages further north than the one I used for my setting. But what the heck, it’s fiction. We’re allowed!

Now if you want to read the blurb about the book, here it is –

Life and Love in 1830s Scotland

When Jimmie Watt brings his new bride home his parents are horrified, because fishermen are expected to marry within their own community, and Belle is an incomer from the town across the water.
Belle, an emotionally damaged and beautiful girl, struggles to find acceptance in the village but she is fighting a losing battle, and when Jimmie leaves the fishing village to sail to the Arctic with a whaling ship, she becomes increasingly isolated.
With Jimmie gone, Belle falls for the charms of Lachlan, the Laird’s son and embarks on a tempestuous affair with him. When Jimmie returns she struggles with her feelings for him and for Lachlan.
The women in the village now regard Belle as a Jezebel who will tempt their men away. A mood of hysteria engulfs them and they turn against Belle, in an attempt to force her out of the village.
What will Belle do? And will she survive?
This historical saga is set in a Scottish fishing village in the 1830’s and reflects the living conditions and the morals of the ordinary fisher folk of that time.

Review quotes

“There is some beautiful poetic writing and the complex life of the heroine, Belle, had me gripped from the beginning. Some of the loveliest writing is in the whaling sequences -one can feel the cold - and among the whalers she creates some outstanding characters”Eileen Ramsay, novelist

“A Salt-Splashed Cradle drips with historical accuracy, and even the scenes aboard a whaling ship seem to have been recounted directly from an 1800's whaler, almost as if Chris Longmuir boarded those ships and chopped them free from the arctic ice herself”Tim Greaton

“Chris Longmuir's books so far have been mysterious, suspenseful stories concerned with some of the darker depths of human nature. So it's surprising to learn that this latest is a romance. But fans won't be disappointed. Yes, it's a romance but the murkier motives and actions are still in evidence”Bill Kirton, crime writer

“Beautifully written with deeply enchanting and well drawn protagonists, A Salt Splashed Cradle goes beyond the norms of the historical romance to bring us a story of hardship, love, wanderlust and coming of age. This was a story I did not want to end and I hope the author plans to bring another instalment of Belle's life and loves to us soon”Karen Bryant Doering

Friday, 16 August 2013

It’s a Crime

I was thrilled to be accepted as crime writer in residence for the Edinburgh eBook Festival because crime in all its aspects has always intrigued me, and I think I have been reading crime fiction and nonfiction most of my adult life. I even went to the extent of studying a course in criminology which I passed with flying colours.

So what is it about crime that fascinates me so much? Well, it’s simply my way of trying to understand what makes the criminal what he or she is, but at the end of the day it often comes back to the nature/nurture argument. Are criminals born to commit crime, or is it the influence of their parents, the type of parenting they had, the influences of their peer group, or what? I honestly don’t think there’s an easy answer, but the mindset of people who commit crimes is something I endeavour to understand.

Of course there have been various theories over the years. There were the physiological and biological theories which indicated that a criminal could be identified by the way he looked. Llombroso in particular believed that criminals were evolutionary throwbacks whose physical features included enormous jaws, high cheekbones, ape-like features, among other things. At one time it was thought that feeling the bumps on someone’s head could reveal whether or not they were a criminal. If only it were so easy! The biological theories in respect of criminology have now been largely discredited, but elements linger on in eugenics, as well as some popular ideas that ethnicity is linked to criminality. This is illustrated in the belief of some ethnic groups that they suffer from discrimination as well as police harrassment.

I find the psychological theories of more interest. There are humanistic, behavioural and cognitive theories through which crime and the criminal can be studied. And we are back to nature and nurture, with a bit of conditioning thrown in for good measure. But I’m sure you don’t want to know all the different theories, and which of those theories should take precedence when we consider criminals and crime. It is enough to state that the study of the criminal and the crimes they commit, continue to interest many people. Maybe that is the reason we read crime fiction and nonfiction. On the other hand, maybe it’s just because we like a puzzle to solve.

I gave a lot of thought to what I could do to interest you in crime writing in all its aspects and I thought I would study a spectrum of crime fiction. But where would I start?

Well, one of the main elements of most crime novels, is mystery. The story has to keep the reader guessing. So that’s where I thought I would start. Then I’ll work my way through the genres, starting from cosy crime, or as our American friends refer to it – cozy crime. As this is the Edinburgh eBook Festival though, I’ll stick to British spelling. So my first two posts will be mystery, followed by cosy, then I’ll work my way through all the different crime novel categories, finishing with noir crime, which is the darkest form of crime available, and a final post about serial killers in crime fiction.

But this involved an awful lot of reading and I didn’t want to dish up the authors everyone has heard about. I wanted new authors, the independent ones known as Indies, and I wanted to explore what was on offer. Now, it’s not possible to consider every author who has to published to Kindle so that meant I would have to compile a reading list, and I wanted the selection to be fairly random, maybe some authors I’d vaguely heard about, plus a good smattering of ones I knew nothing about.

I set about my task by checking the Amazon lists for different kinds of crime fiction, visiting the review sites to garner recommendations, then inspecting my choices. I read the Amazon reviews, and used the ‘Look Inside’ feature, then built my list. Now this can be risky because, although there are loads of good books published electronically, there can also be some that are somewhat lacking. So I decided that, if I hit any of the latter, I would read no further than I had to in order to make a decision, and would not include them in my posts. The only thing to remember is that the books I included are my choices, which may or may not appeal to you, but I hope it will give you encouragement to explore the world of Indie fiction, and I hope you won’t be disappointed.

It’s still time to come with me on this journey where I hope to discover many new authors along the way. And of course I’ll introduce them to you. So, let’s get started and hop over to the Edinburgh eBook Festival.

Chris Longmuir

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Highlights of Harrogate Crime Festival

The audience at Harrogate. Were you there?

Special Guest: Ruth Rendell who was interviewed by Jeanette Winterson

Special Guest: William McIlvanney in converstion with Ian Rankin

Forensics: Val McDermid in converstion with Sue Black – it was hilarious

Special Event: Vera – Brenda Blethyn, actress; Elaine Collins, producer of Vera; and Ann Cleeves who writes the Vera books – fantastic

Brenda Blethyn and Ann Cleeves signing books after the event. The queue had to be seen to be believed

Special Guest: Lee Child who was interviewed by the comedienne, Sarah Millican. One of the liveliest reviews I’ve seen Lee do

Special Guest: Kate Atkinson who was interviewed by BBC 4 Front Row’s Mark Lawson

Late Night Quiz: The Scarlet Ladies Team

Late Night Quiz: The winners – the Scarlet Ladies

And so we come to the end of our photo parade of this year’s Harrogate Crime festival. I can’t wait for next year. I’ll see you there if you’re going.

Chris Longmuir

Monday, 15 July 2013

A Reader Has Her Say

I am happy to host a guest blog by one of my readers, Julie Merrilees Watters. Julie has never written a blog post before, but when I saw this on the Montrose Memories Facebook page, I pleaded with her to allow me to post it. Happily, she agreed, and I haven’t altered anything in her post except for separating it into paragraphs. So now I’ll hand the blog over to Julie.
Julie Merriless Watters

It was great to be able to attend Waterstones in Dundee for the launch of Chris Longmuir's new book Missing Believed Dead, along with my Mum on Thursday night.

As book launch virgins, we weren't sure what to expect. We were very pleasantly surprised to find an area in the bookshop was set out with chairs; there were welcome nibbles & drinks to keep any pangs of hunger or thirst at bay. Talking of welcomes - Chris, who was at a desk at the front, spotted us coming in & she came all the way to the back to say "Hello," have a wee chat & a hug, as well as take the time to sign a few copies of her previous books for us.

I asked Chris if she was nervous about the event. She had actually been anxious that nobody would turn up! However, people trickled in & there were no seats left by the time Chris was due to take the floor. Waterstones staff quickly had to bring in more chairs to try & accomodate everyone.

After an opening welcome, Chris gave us a hint or two about Missing Believed Dead's plot, along with few verbal appetizers about some of the characters. She chose to highlight the D.S. in her story & I was left with the feeling that I wanted to mother this chappie or fend off some of the blows bound to come his way via his new boss.

Chris asked us if we wanted to hear the first chapter read & shared some advice she'd been given as a writer. That advice was to basically hook the reader in that first chapter. She very cleverly set the scene & I was able to picture myself there witnessing the event as it unfolded & thinking "which one is going to prevail here?"

Later, Chris asked if anyone had any questions they wanted to ask. There were quite a few ranging from "Do you base your characters on real people that you know?" "How do you keep track of your characters?" "Will you please sort out the D.S. in the stories with a good woman?" "Do you write for 6,8,10 hour stretches per day?" I asked on the quiet "Do you keep a notebook with you all the time to write lines down, so you won't forget them?" Chris held the interest of the audience easily & concluded her talk to a healthy applause.

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris' family afterwards & we had a lovely time discussing Montrose Memories, the people we had met as a result of it & the things we had since learnt about our town that we hadn't known before. It really was such an enjoyable night. Well done, Chris! XX
Getting a hug from Julie
And thank you, Julie, for such a wonderful description of a wonderful night where I got to meet so many of my readers.


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sink or Swim – It’s Launched

I didn’t have a celebrity to smash a bottle of champagne over the bows of Missing Believed Dead, as it slipped down the runway into the world wide web. Or should that just be the world? There was just me and some friends, all tooting as loud as we could, and hoping to draw some attention.

So, I want to thank the people who supported me. People like J.B.Johnston, who featured a cover reveal on Brook Cottage Books. Click here if you want to see it. Then she followed it up by a review, where she described it as “a gritty, suspense filled and extremely clever thriller”. Not only that, but she said she was so drawn into the story, she dreamed of the characters one night. In my opinion that might have been better described as a nightmare! Sorry for the dreams, Jonty, but thanks for the suport. If you want to read the review for yourself, then click here.

I found another review on the Eclectic Electric, the Authors Electric eBook review site. Thank you Julia Jones for taking the time to write and submit it, and for considering me a competent, confident crime writer. High praise indeed.

Famous Five Plus, a fantastic group that supports quite a few authors, didn’t fail me either. They published several posts, starting with Have You Heard? They’re Missing Believed Dead, in June. this was followed up by Are You Ready For It? on the day of the online launch. And this weekend they’re featuring it in their Hug a Book competition, where a lucky reader can win a copy by answering a simple question. Thanks Famous Five Plus.

Then there was my interview with another great crime writer, Bill Kirton, where he made me bare my soul on his blog. Thanks, Bill.

And there’s still another blog to come. My good friend, and debut author, Melanie Robertson King, plans to feature a post her blog Celtic Connexions, on the day of my Waterstones paperback launch, which, in case you’ve forgotten, is on Thursday 11th July. Thanks in advance, Melanie.

But there are others I need to thank. There are all the people who read pre-publication copies of Missing Believed Dead, and provided reviews. Thank goodness they all loved the book, although I was prepared for the worst if they didn’t. They weren’t obliged to write good reviews. And all the people who tweeted and shared my posts on Facebook. Emails and good luck wishes can’t be ignored either. It gives me such a buzz when someone takes the trouble to drop me an email, leave me a message or put up a comment on Facebook, or makes it known in any number of ways that they enjoy my book. That’s what we write for. If I’ve forgotten anyone, I apologize. Put it down to an increase in senior moments, but I thank you anyway.

Maybe this is the place where I should share with you the dedication I put at the beginning of Missing Believed Dead. It’s “This book is dedicated to all my faithful readers who give me support and provide me with the encouragement to keep on writing. Without readers, a writer is nothing.”

Now listen to the first chapter of Missing Believed Dead.

And check out the other books in the Dundee crime Series

Chris Longmuir

Friday, 28 June 2013

Why are we Waiting?

The long wait is over. The wait for what? I hear you ask. Well, it’s the wait for the launch of my new book Missing Believed Dead. I’ve been counting down the days to the launch on the first of July, and today I’m pressing the upload button for both the Kindle ebook and the paperback, just to make sure they both appear on the scheduled date. And maybe, with a little bit of luck, Amazon won’t be too slow and they’ll appear early.

Take a look at the cover. Brilliant isn’t it? The lovely Cathy Helms, of Avalon Graphics designed it, and it’s a stunner. You can have another look at it if you pop over to Brook Cottage Books, where the site is doing a cover reveal. It’s also got the blurb to tell you a little bit about the book. And there’s more coming. Brook Cottage Books are doing a review of the book on Monday 2nd July, and Famous Five Plus are doing something as well. I’ll post the links when they appear.

Then,of course, there’s the launch of the paperback at the Dundee branch of Waterstones on 11th July. and, if you’re within spitting distance of Dundee on that date, remember to pop in. I’ll be giving a wee talk and signing books.

If you want to know more about the book, visit the links as they are put up. In the meantime I’m going back to Brook Cottage Books to do some more drooling.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Dead Wood, Night Watcher & All That Jazz

Bill Murphy is returning on the 11th July in a new crime novel, Missing Believed Dead, and it’s not that long ago he was interviewed by the fabulous Peggy Stanton, so with Peggy’s permission I’m replicating the interview here. It’ll give you a feel for Bill, if you haven’t already met him.

This interview was originally published on Famous Five Plus

Peggy – Leaning forward for a chaste kiss on the cheek – ‘Do sit down, I’ve ordered us a pot of tea.’

Bill Murphy – Sitting down in the chair opposite. ‘Thanks, Chris asked me to pop along here for an interview.’
Peggy – ‘Chris, she’s like me, one for words, mind I’m more for speaking them. Anyway, thanks for coming along, Bill. You don’t mind if I call you Bill?’

Bill – Nodding a smile. ‘That’s okay. I’ve been called worse.’
Peggy – ‘I’ve been doing a bit of ferreting around and it seems you’re a Detective Sergeant. So I take it no uniform then? Pity!’

Bill – ‘Hmm, no, but you’re right, I’m a DS with the Dundee Police Force. That’s in Scotland, in case you didn’t know.’

Peggy – ‘You’ll not catch me out on my geography, we’re quite multi national here, Bill. We’ve got writers and characters from lots of countries, down under, that’s Australia, even across the pond, I can see you’re with me, yes it’s USA.’

Bill – Raising an eyebrow. ‘I had a look at your Books room while I was waiting. It’s quite impressive, looked a bit like my local bookstore. I’d tell you the name of it but we’re not allowed to advertise.’

Peggy – ‘You can always advertise us in any book store, that’s very kind of you. Now, from what Chris has told me, you’re a bit like myself, you don’t like following the rules much.’

Bill – ‘She has her own opinions, but I follow the rules, provided they don’t get in the way.’

Peggy –  Smiling. ‘It’s not what I’ve heard, I get the impression they get in the way quite a lot. A little birdie told me you’ve added the word bend to your set of rules!’

Bill – Shifting in his seat. ‘I’m not sure where you’re coming from on that one, but let’s just say, I get the job done. Anyway, there’s more to me than detective work, I’m quite a nice guy at the end of the day. A bit lonely sometimes. In fact I believe there are some readers who’d like to see me settled with a nice woman. Not that I’d mind that, I just never seem to be lucky with women.’

Peggy –  Raising her hand to her hair, gently strokes it. ‘I love a saddo, if you know what I mean. There’s nothing wrong in being lonely, but do tell me about the women in your life? I’m sure it’s more fascinating then the men in mine.’

Bill – Flicking some invisible fluff from his trousers leg. ‘Not much to tell. I was married once, you know. But like a lot of cop marriages it didn’t last. Not my fault, you understand. Evie, her name was. She had a roving eye and a taste for alcohol. She ran off with my best friend.’

Peggy – Notices the pained look in Bill’s face. ‘I don’t think she was the only one with a roving eye a good looking man like you must have cast your net out from time to time, surely there have been other women?’

Bill – Casting a glance across the room at the video playing, he smiled. ‘One or two, but they didn’t come to anything much.’

Peggy – Leaning forward in a conspirator tone. ‘Do tell me about them, I’m the soul of discretion?’

Bill – Raising his hand and counting on his fingers. ‘There was Julie. I met her in Night Watcher. I really thought that might have come to something, but when the case was over she went back to Edinburgh. She said she would phone, but she never did. Then I met Louise in Dead Wood, and that was developing nicely until the fiasco in Templeton Woods. That gave her quite a fright and she went home to her mum for a while. She’s back now, but Sue told me she wanted some space.’

Peggy  – ‘My my, you’re one for scaring them off , what with night watching, dead wood and what’s the other, templeton wood. Anybody since then?’

Bill – With a far away look. ‘Well, there’s someone I’m quite attracted to in the new book Chris is writing. Diane, her name is. The problem is her daughter vanished five years ago and it kind of messed her up psychologically. I really like her, she brings out the protective side in me, but there’s an even bigger problem because I think she might have committed a murder.’

Peggy  –  Stifling a chuckle ‘You like to live in the fast lane, good grief what happened to nice girls next door. Never mind, I can see this Diane could be a bit of a handful, particularly in your job.’

Bill – Shifting in his chair.  ‘Are we done yet? It’s just that my new DI isn’t very understanding and I didn’t tell her where I was going.’

Peggy – Placing a reassuring hand on Bill’s knee ‘I’m sure I can talk with your DI, better still I’ll invite her for an interview, as a senior officer, she’ll understand how important it is to answer questions. Maybe she can enlighten me more on what goes with her staff, so stop fretting. My, for a policeman out of uniform you’re a worrier, well, if you’re in a hurry, I guess that will do for now. But do come back another day when you have a bit more time. I’d like to know more about this mad woman who could have murdered someone. Also I’ll be wanting to know if you are seeing her, nothing like some excitement to talk over coffee with my lady friends.’

Bill – Standing up, amusement crossing his face, just what had he subjected himself to with this Peggy interview?. ‘Of course, provided you clear it with Chris. I like to let her think she controls me, although to tell the truth I’m afraid I just do my own thing.’

Peggy – ‘I think you’ve got that wrong Bill, whoever this Chris is seems a pussy cat compared to your DI, never mind, run along and hurry back.’

Peggy Stanton

Newsflash – Chris Longmuir's new crime novel, Missing Believed Dead, featuring Bill Murphy, will be launched at Waterstones, Dundee branch, on 11 July, 2013, at 6.30pm. Hope to see you there.

Chris Longmuir

Saturday, 4 May 2013

When is the End not the End?

Book Launch after I won the Dundee International Book Prize

I need a pat on the back. Why? Well I wrote The End on my work in progress. It’s finished. Completed. I’ve written the final chapter, and even better, the final sentence. And I must say there was a wee tear in my eye as I wrote it.

Tears! From a dark crime writer! What next? Well, even though my books are not renowned for happy endings, I do have a soft side. I’m sure I’ll be deafened by the mutterings out there when this is read. But I do, honestly. And, although my crime books may not have very many happy endings, things do work out. Anyway, would you really want a happy ending to a dark crime book?

Once I stopped dancing because I had written The End, I had to knuckle down to some more work. You see, when a writer writes The End to their work in progress, it’s not really the end. Next comes the hard work of revision, editing and proofing, and I do all that before it goes out to my editors for fresh eyes to look at.

Revision comes first. The entire manuscript is read, and while reading I am looking out for clumsy writing, places where I’ve told the story rather than showed the action, although there are places where telling is okay. If I reach a tell section, I consider it. Would it be better if I turned it into show, or should I leave it the way it is? A lot depends on what is happening in the story at that point. If it’s a fast paced section then there is no argument – it has to be show. But tell is great if you want a quick way to sketch in background or move the story through time. However, given that the action in the new book takes place over a period of 6 days, time gallops.

Then, there is the hunt for weasel words. That is, words that are unnecessary, words where the sentence would make the same sense if they weren’t there. I’m thinking about words like – just, that, actually, basically, extremely, almost, simply – there are loads more, including the word ‘then’ which starts this paragraph, and the Find command in Word is excellent for rooting them out. However, each word has to be considered before removal, because in some cases they are needed.

Then a hunt for quotation marks. Word’s Find command is great here too, but this is laborious, and you only realize how many you use when you search them out. So what am I looking for? I’m checking that dialogue is both opened and closed, and that apostrophes are in the correct place. Speaking of apostrophes, I also do a find on words like ‘its’ just in case it’s the one that needs the apostrophe. Then there’s the hunt for ise, and ize endings to ensure the correct one is written. I use the Oxford Dictionary for Writers & Editors, and they stipulate the correct usage for words that can be written either way. Their preference is for ize endings, with some exceptions, for example, ‘realize’ is an ize ending but ‘surprise’ is an ise ending. However, as I have a tendency to use the ise endings in preference to ize, this means hunting out every ise ending and converting it if it’s needed. I’m getting better though, because when I’m writing my brain has become trained to write ize instead of ise.

After that, another read through is needed before it goes out to my editors. And that’s where the book is at the moment. And, of course, another read through once the corrections are in, then a speak aloud read through – it’s amazing the errors you can detect when you read the manuscript aloud, although after 92,000 words I reckon I’ll be hoarse!

Oh, nearly forgot to say, the cover has been commissioned, but I have no idea what it will look like yet. I’m waiting for my cover artist to surprise me.

I suppose you want to know what the book is about, but I’ll leave that until later. What I will tell you though, is that it is the third one in the Dundee Crime Series, and I should be ready to launch it in early July.

Watch this space!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Historical Book Fair - A Salt Splashed Cradle

Life and Love in 1830s Scotland

Belle is brought to live in the fishing community by her new husband, Jimmie Watt. The villagers resent her as a newcomer and when Jimmie leaves for the Arctic on a whaling ship, she becomes increasingly isolated.

She embarks on a tempestuous affair with Lachlan, the Laird’s son, but when Jimmie returns she struggles with her feelings for him and for Lachlan.
The women in the village turn against Belle, regarding her as a Jezebel who will tempt their men away. A mood of hysteria engulfs them and they turn against Belle to force her out of the village.
What will Belle do? And will she survive?

This historical saga is set in a Scottish fishing village in the 1830’s and reflects the living conditions and the morals of the ordinary fisher folk of that time.

Author information 

Chris Longmuir is an award winning novelist as well as an established writer of crime novels, short stories and articles.

Review quotes

There is some beautiful poetic writing and the complex life of the heroine, Belle, had me gripped from the beginning. Some of the loveliest writing is in the whaling sequences -one can feel the cold - and among the whalers she creates some outstanding characters. Eileen Ramsay, novelist


Jimmie and his father pulled hard on the oars of the small boat as they fought the river current which was threatening to pull them off course. Water splashed over the bow as the angry tide swirled round the small island which sat in the middle of the river, and the two of them were breathless and sweating as they approached it.
‘We should’ve asked Ian and Angus to come with us,’ Jimmie paused to spit on his hands. The boat swung as the current caught it again, but he grasped his oar with both hands and forced it back on course.
‘After we’ve rounded the point it’ll be easier,’ James panted. ‘The tide’ll carry us part of the way to Invercraig, and we can row to the harbour.’
‘Aye,’ Jimmie muttered. He looked uncertainly towards the Invercraig side of the water where the whaler was berthed. What on earth had possessed him to sign on? He should have ignored Belle and gone back on his promise. But a promise was a promise and Jimmie knew he could not have gone back on his word.
He concentrated on the oars. In, out, lift and pull. The water sucked at them as he counted the strokes, and he could feel the sting of the spray on his cheeks and the taste of salt on his lips. They drew level with the island and both men concentrated on their oars, pulling hard to round the point and stay clear of the shore. The tide caught them, swinging the boat round and upriver. They let the current carry them until they were level with the harbour and then without a word they started to row again, each in unison with the other.
The three-masted whaling ship creaked and strained at its mooring as they rowed around it heading for the section of harbour where it was safe to tie up. The ship loomed over them and Jimmie was glad when they pulled clear.
Jimmie heaved his oar into the boat, as they neared the dock where several other small boats were moored, while James manoeuvred the boat closer.
‘Be ready with the rope,’ James said, while he stroked the water with his oar until the boat was almost touching the side of the quay.
Jimmie grabbed the iron ring protruding from the wall and quickly threaded the rope through, knotting it until it was secure. He grabbed the bundle containing his possessions, and keeping one hand against the quay wall stepped from boat to boat until he reached the steps carved into the quayside.
His father scrambled up the steps after him, and both men stood for a moment while they looked around. Jimmie’s hand tightened on his bundle. He wasn’t sure he liked so much noise and bustle. There seemed to be people everywhere. Men like himself with their bundles clutched to them. Other men were balancing barrels and sacks on their shoulders as they made their way towards the ship. Carts lined up with produce of all kinds. Cows and sheep tethered in pens, waiting their turn to board. Soaring over everything the babble of tongues.
‘Aye lad. It’s not like Craigden now, is it.’ James stroked his beard as he always did when he was troubled.
Jimmie forced a smile. He did not want his da to worry about him. ‘I’ll be all right, Da. It’s a good ship, The Eclipse. They say they catch more whales than any other whaler, and that means a bigger share of the catch for the men. One voyage and I’ll be able to get my own boat.’
‘I hope so lad. I hope you won’t be disappointed.’
‘You’ll look after Belle and Sarah for me. Won’t you Da?’
‘Don’t you go worrying over Belle, lad. Me and Annie’ll see she’s all right.’
‘Well, I’d better go now, Da.’ Jimmie held out his hand and both men clasped each other’s arm, hands on elbows.
James leaned towards Jimmie and threw his other arm round his son’s shoulders to clap him on the back. ‘Take care, son,’ he said, his voice strangely husky.
‘I will, Da. I will.’
James turned and clambered back down the stone stairs. Reaching the bottom he stepped over the vessels moored there until he reached the rowboat. Jimmie felt suddenly desolate as James lifted his arm in a salute and turned away making ready to cast off.
Straightening his shoulders, Jimmie walked towards the ship. It was bigger than any boat he had previously sailed in, and it would travel a greater distance.
He’d heard tales from men who had sailed with the whalers, and of the strange white world they went to. Ice and snow, and freezing cold, and whales, larger than anything they had ever seen before. Jimmie experienced a surge of excitement that started in his stomach and ended up in his throat. His step quickened and his hand tightened on his bundle. Soon he would be able to recite his own tale of adventures in the Greenland seas.

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