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Monday, 28 July 2014

Highlights of Harrogate

The Old Swan Hotel, home of the Harrogate Crime Festival

The Harrogate Crime Festival is the highlight of many crime writers’ lives. It’s held once every year in July at Harrogate, and crime writers congregate there to let their hair down, as well as meeting their readers. Have a look at a video about the festival which you can access through this link. Video – Theakstons Crime Writing Festival a winner!

The festival seems to get bigger every year with thousands attending, and Simon Theakston in his welcome speech claimed it was the largest crime festival in the world. I was already aware that it was the largest crime festival in Europe, but I did wonder whether it would be the largest in the world. One thing is sure, it is certainly big, and there are certainly thousands of people who attend it.

Over the years many famous writers have graced Harrogate’s stage, and this year was no exception. There is insufficient space to mention every author who was there, or all the writers who were on panels, or who were interviewed on the stage, so I will just mention the ones that were the highlight of my weekend.

Lynda la Plante has to take first place. Her boundless energy and interesting anecdotes, plus her stage presence, held the audience's attention. Lynda had flown from America specifically for the Harrogate Festival and was returning the next day. I, for one, appreciated her dedication to her fans. I also felt she truly deserved the special award made to her as the winner of the fifth Theakston’s Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

Another frontliner who was there was JK Rowling who writes her crime novels as Robert Galbraith. The interviewer was Val McDermid, another well-known crime writer and a favourite of mine. The interview was interesting and I enjoyed it, although there were restrictions in place. For example, no photographs were allowed, and book signing was regimented with only one row of people at a time allowed to join the queue, while the next row had to wait until they were allowed to join in. Thank goodness I was fairly near the front, I hate to think how long the people in the back rows had to wait.
No photographs allowed, so you'll have to make do with the empty chairs

Last but not least, there was a special panel for Broadchurch, which was recently televised. On the panel were two of the actors, Olivia Colman, and Jodie Whittaker, as well as the producer and writer. Interestingly, the actors were not aware of the ending until the final episode was filmed.

I had a brilliant time at Harrogate and hope to go again next year.

Chris Longmuir

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Dundee Literary Book Trail

Hang out the flags, blow up the balloons, I think I might have arrived! I’ve made my mark on the literary map. Well, it’s a comparatively small literary map. But I’m right there on it.

The map I’m talking about is the map for the Dundee Literary Trail. Have a look at this description on STV Dundee, with the header Dundee’s first literary trail could be a best-seller idea.
Map of Dundee Literary Trail - I'm location 29
The literary trail is a map that plots locations and buildings mentioned in books set in Dundee. The walk covers 15 miles of the city and has 48 stops enroute. But because of the distance it is divided into 3 parts. So those on the walk can choose which one they want to do. The Eastern walk, the Western one, or the Central one. I chose the Central walk because that is the one that features me.
Walkers meeting outside the Wellgate Library

Apparently 20 local authors contributed to the map, and I’m one of them. Some of the others include my good friends, Eileen Ramsay, and Russell McLean. Others included were Alexander McGregor, who wrote The Law Killers, Mae Stewart, Chae Strathie and others too numerous to mention. Some of the more famous names on the trail were Agatha Christie, George Orwell, and Jacqueline Wilson. My apologies for not mentioning everybody but with 48 stops, that means more than 48 authors and there just isn’t room.

The STV article did ask if Dundee was the most literary city in Scotland, and I certainly hope it’s up there among the front runners because that’s where I set most of my novels.
Witches Blood to commemorate the last witch burned in Dundee

Walkers heading for Dundee Sheriff Court

Anyway, I joined the literary walk for the central area. We met outside the Wellgate Library and commenced our walk down to the city centre where we took in the scene of Grizzel Jaffray’s burning as the last witch in Dundee, and was featured in The Curewife, Claire-Marie Watson’s Dundee International Prize winning book as well as William Blain’s classic novel Witches Blood. Further down the High Street we stopped to admire Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx from the DC Thomson popular comics the Beano and the Dandy. Then on to The Howff, the historical cemetery which is the scene of many a nasty Dundee murder including some I have committed myself – on paper I may add, unless I give you the wrong impression. Various other sites were visited including Dundee Sheriff Court, and even the Deep Sea fish and chip shop where some of my characters buy their fish suppers. 

The Howff Cemetery where a grisly murder in The Death Game takes place

The Deep Sea Restaurant where DS Bill Murphy buys his fish and chips

We took in Scott’s ship The Discovery, walked along the riverside where Macgonagall is commemorated on the paving stones, traversed Magdalen Green, and up the hill to the George Orwell Pub for a welcome drink before the organisers departed for Walk 3 of the day. One of them was wearing a mileometer and informed us that the walks had covered 14 miles. I was glad I’d only taken part in the second walk, and on enquiring how many miles the central walk had covered, I was told almost 5 miles. No wonder I was feeling knackered.

I left the group at that point, wished them well with walk three, and dragged myself back to my car, which I reckoned added another mile onto the walk I’d already done. The price of fame does not come cheap!

Chris Longmuir

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Planning a Kindle Countdown Deal

Chris Longmuir at the launch of Dead Wood which won the  Dundee International Book prize 

I’ve climbed on the bandwagon and enrolled my nonfiction book Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution to the Kindle Countdown Deals promotion.

Now, as you probably know I’m not the best promoter in the world, and I usually leave my books to do their own thing. I don’t make a fortune, but I do reasonably okay. However, I listened to another author speaking about Kindle Countdowns, and with a certain amount of trepidation I decided to try it out.

First I had to find out how it worked, and here is the Amazon link if you want to have a look. The first thing I found out was that your book has to be in KDP Select before you can use this promotional tool, and as I only have one book in KDP Select, and that is my Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution, it had to be that one. I prefer a wider distribution for my crime novels so that all ereaders can have access to them. I don’t particularly like restricting my crime novels to Kindle only.

The book on Kindle Countdown
The impression I got initially was that I couldn’t have my book on countdown in both the US and the UK at the same time. So, I chose the US. I suppose in a way my choice was a bit perverse, because I’m better known in the UK. But the deed was done, and the book went on Kindle Countdown in the US, with the price starting at $0.99, on Tuesday 8th July, with a staged increase in price until it returns to its normal price of $4.99 on Tuesday 15th July.

However, I soon found out I was wrong about not being able to use more than one Amazon platform, for a countdown deal, and that the book could be on countdown simultaneously in the US and the UK. Apparently all you have to do is set them up as separate deals at the same time, one after the other.

Hugely frustrated I reckoned I had missed the boat in respect of having Kindle Countdown working in tandem in the UK and the US. But, ever the optimist, I went back to the KDP page where countdown deals are set up and I was able to schedule a UK countdown, but it would start belatedly on Thursday the 10th July, 2 days after the commencement of the US countdown. Both countdowns will end on the 15th July when the price will go back to normal.

So, if you want a bargain, hurry, hurry, hurry and buy it on the 2 days it will be $0.99 in the US, and the 5 days it will sell at 99 pence in the UK, but remember to wait until the UK countdown starts on the 10th.

Chris Longmuir

Countdown Deals on

Crime Fiction and the Indie Contibution at

Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution at

Chris Longmuir Author Page

Thursday, 3 July 2014

WOW! 3 Books in 3 Months

No wonder I’m feeling exhausted. I’ve just published my third book in the space of three months. Now, I’m usually a book a year writer, so where did that spurt of productivity come from?

I suppose it all started at the end of last year’s summer. I was working on my historical crime novel, The Death Game, but I’d taken a bit of time out to act as the Crime Writer in Residence for the Edinburgh Ebook Festival, and during that time I posted a series of twelve posts on the different subgenres of crime. Once that was out of the way I got my head down to complete The Death Game. Things were trundling along and the book was taking shape when a chance meeting with another indie author, Bill Kirton, suggested I turn my Writer in Residence posts into book form. That was what planted the seed.

I went back to the Edinburgh Ebook Festival posts and discovered they were no longer online. They had vanished into internet cyberspace. All my lovely Pinterest postings now had no information behind them. I suppose that was what spurred me on because I knew the posts had been popular. The result of that find was all I needed to start working on my nonfiction book Crime Writing and the Indie Contribution.

So, I was now working on two books, one fiction and one nonfiction. And, what I had assumed to be an easy task of converting the festival posts into book form, suddenly became a massive task with lots of research, new sections and rewriting the original posts. It’s damnable when you’re a perfectionist who is never satisfied with your own work!

Anyway, the head was down and I was working hard, and it was a race to see which book would be finished first. Well, the race was won by The Death Game, and the Kindle version was published at the beginning of March, although the paperback was only launched two weeks ago.

Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution wasn’t long in catching up, and it was published at the beginning of May. I must say I heaved a sigh of relief, both my babies had been launched into the reading world. The Death Game launch was the usual Waterstones one in Dundee and I had a good turnout. 

Original Dead Wood cover

I relaxed a little, although anyone who knows me will realise that I never truly relax. So, in between getting the next book underway and preparing for my paperback launch, I gave a little bit of thought to my Dundee International Prize winning book, Dead Wood, which the publisher had allowed to go out of print at the end of 2013. I had contacted them at the time with queries about this, but no response was forthcoming. Since that time Dead Wood had never been far from my thoughts because it is book two of the Dundee Crime Series, which meant there was a gap in the series.
New Dead Wood cover
I decided to do something about it, if only to give me peace of mind, and consulted the Society of Authors. I followed their advice and was rewarded with an immediate result. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I got the publishing rights back. I am now free to do what I like with this book which makes it my number three to be published.

So, as they say in all good stories “All’s well that ends well” and I think I’m going to make three my lucky number.

But now that’s all out of the way maybe I’ll find time to getting back to writing the next Kirsty Campbell book. Watch this space folks!

(Post previously published on Authors Electric)

Chris Longmuir