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Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Long Wait is Over Dangerous Destiny has Arrived


These are strange times, and I'm having to adapt to living in isolation in the same way as everyone else. But at least I have my imaginary friends to keep me company. They talk to me and live in my imagination, and then I write them down and share them with you. Sometimes I think my characters are more real to me than other people, although they don't always do what I want them to. And they astonish me by what they say.

So, for the past year, I've been living with my suffragette characters and, with a great deal of trepidation, I've launched them out into the wide world. I wonder how they'll fare there? Will my readers like them as much as I do? Or will they wave them away with a disparaging gesture? Time will tell.

No doubt you've guessed by now that my new historical murder-mystery 'Dangerous Destiny: A Suffragette Mystery' is now available to buy. It's out in paperback and Kindle, and in view of the strange times we live in, I've done something I've never done before. I've made the Kindle version available for Kindle Unlimited, which means that if you subscribe, you can read it for free. Otherwise, it's the same price as the others £3.99 in the UK and whatever that converts to in the US.

Here is a view of the cover, designed by Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics. She does a great job.


The story is a combination of coming of age with a murder-mystery at its heart. It's a story about three suffragettes who come together to try to solve the mystery of who is killing suffragettes in Dundee, Scotland. They are frustrated because the police are doing nothing to investigate the murders, taking the view that suffragettes are a nuisance and society would be better without them.
First we have Kirsty, a naïve young girl with a secret in her past, who is trying to break free from her controlling family. Then we have Ethel, trying to escape her vicious and abusive father. Martha, a seasoned suffragette, takes them under her wing and introduces them to women's suffrage.
Of course, they run into danger before everything is solved. And in the process, we find out whether Kirsty and Ethel will break their family bonds and forge a new destiny for themselves.

You can find the Kindle version by clicking HERE.
And the paperback version by clicking HERE. 
If you are in the US, just change the .co.uk part of the link to .com

There will be no physical launch for this book at Waterstones, and I'll miss meeting all my lovely readers and supporters. So, now I need to get back to my lonely isolation but, hopefully, there will be some imaginary friends waiting for me. I do hope you have some imaginary friends as well and if you don't, I'd be delighted to share mine with you.

Take care.

Chris

Website
Amazon Author page

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Dangerous Destiny - Cover Reveal



The wait is almost over. Dangerous Destiny is with my editor and I'm hoping to get it published before too many moons have passed.

This book is part of a new suffragette mystery series and I've set it in Dundee, Scotland, in 1908. The story involves three women, a seasoned suffragette, a working-class girl escaping her abusive father, and a young girl breaking free from her controlling family. They join forces to find a killer who is targeting suffragettes. So, the book is a mix of murder mystery and rites of passage as the two younger girls choose a different destiny for themselves.

Well, what do you think? Do you like it? I'm quite chuffed with it. I think my cover creator has done a good job and now all I need is for my editor to complete her work and get the manuscript back to me. Then it will be all systems go.

Watch this space!

Chris Longmuir

Website

Amazon Author Page




Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy New Year: Lang May your Lum Reek


A very Happy New Year to everyone. May this year be the one when all your dreams will come true and success and good fortune will be yours.

All the best for a happy and prosperous 2020.

Chris

Website

Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Merry Christmas to One and All


A merry Christmas to all my friends, readers, and followers. I hope you have a joyous time and that you don't overeat the turkey, trifle, and mince pies. Leave room for the champers and choccies that Santa has left in your stocking.

I hope Santa has left all of your favourite things, in my case it's always books, although I am partial to a bit of the smelly stuff as well as earrings. I can't resist earrings.

Now, it's back to the toil for me there are loads of revisions to be done to the new book and there is no time to waste.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Chris

Website

Amazon Author Page

Saturday, 2 November 2019

New Romantic Suspense from one of the Princesses of Pandemonium

Princesses of Pandemonium
Wendy, Melanie and Chris

Once upon a time, there were three princesses of pandemonium. There was Princess Chris who lives on the dark side, Princess Wendy who packs a gun, and Princess Melanie, the sweet one, with the magic pen which delights in writing romantic suspense.

Today is Princess Melanie’s day. Drumroll please for her new novel, ‘It Happened in Gastown’. I can’t wait to find out what happened there.



Before I let you read an excerpt from ‘It Happened in Gastown’ I will introduce you to Princess Melanie.

Everything you wanted to know about Melanie but were afraid to ask ...



A native of eastern Ontario, during her pre-school years, Melanie Robertson-King lived in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River. Before starting school, her family moved to Brockville, where she received her education, including a post-secondary degree in Computer Programming.

Growing up as an only child, Melanie was an avid reader and remains so to this day. She knew then one day she would be a writer. When she wasn’t talking about her dream of becoming an author, she wrote stories and began honing her skills at an early age.

Melanie’s father was a Scottish national. He came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. She promised herself that one day, her feet would touch the soil in her father’s homeland. That first trip was in 1993, and she’s not looked back since, having returned to the auld country many more times and is looking forward to her next trip, possibly as soon as 2020. On one of her many trips to Scotland, Melanie had the honour of meeting Princess Anne (The Princess Royal) at the orphanage where her father was raised.

Encouraged to study Highland Dancing, she competed locally. Her final competition took place during the summer of 1969, a few short months after her father’s death, at the 1000 Islands Highland Games. In that last event, she won the Silver Medal in the Sword Dance.

Melanie began her professional writing career in non-fiction. One of her articles graced the cover of an international publication. At the same time, she continued to develop her writing voice: short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) as well as novel-length work.

Since her debut novel was published in the summer of 2012, Melanie has written seven more books (including two for children) and released the second edition of her first.

It Happened in Gastown is Melanie’s ninth book, and the second in the “It Happened” series of sweet romances set in picturesque locations across Canada.

Her short story, Cole’s Notes, has been re-edited and is available as a free read through her website and blog.

When not sequestered in her cave writing, plotting or editing, you’ll find her out and about. Favourite haunts (pardon the pun) are cemeteries (the older, the better) since they have more character, and perhaps a few more characters. She also loves travel and photography.

Melanie and fellow authors, Wendy H. Jones and Chris Longmuir, make up the infamous trio – the Princesses of Pandemonium.

Website | Celtic Connexions Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Pinterest

Now that you’ve met Melanie it’s time to put you out of your misery and let you read the excerpt.

Are you sitting comfortably? We will begin.

Excerpt

Chapter 1
Out on routine patrol, Constables Hilary Dunbar and her partner Lukas Stephanopoulos drove north on Cambie Street towards the Gastown Steam Clock. As they passed the end of Blood Alley, she shouted, “Back up. Something’s down there.”

“Your imagination getting the better of you again?” He teased, but pulled over to the curb and slowly reversed until they blocked the mouth of the narrow passage.

Originally they called the lane Trounce Alley. Some maps still referred to the laneway as that. Others labelled the back street Blood Alley. Given the appearance, Hilary thought the latter more appropriate.

Window down, she trained the beam from the powerful spotlight mounted on the cruiser’s mirror into the alleyway. “See, beyond those dumpsters.”

“Likely just garbage.”

“Wait here; I’m going to take a closer look.”

Before exiting the car, she plucked a pair of nitrile gloves and the naloxone kit from the glove compartment. Once out, she shoved them in the pockets of her trousers. With the fingertips of her right hand brushing her gun holster and gripping the barrel of the torch in her left, she sidled towards the object.

Graffiti tags covered the walls of the buildings as well as the wooden hydro poles. The farther into the confined space she crept, the hairs on the nape of her neck bristled beneath the bun in which she styled her black hair. Whatever was down there wasn’t rubbish, as Luke said. The pong of stale urine made her eyes water.

Past the second dumpster, the body of a young man leaned against the wall. Dishevelled and filthy, his body odour was strong enough to make the foulest of skunk spray seem mild. At first glance, he appeared dead. His skin had a bluish tinge, and weeping sores dotted his face. Dark circles surrounded his eyes. Inching forward, Hilary squatted beside him.

A blood-filled syringe protruded from his left arm. Flashlight held under her chin; she donned the synthetic rubber gloves she brought with her and felt his neck for a pulse. The rhythmic throbbing beneath her fingertips, barely discernible.

The naloxone. The kit had been made available to officers who wanted the medication. Luke was against carrying the opioid blocker in the cruiser, but Hilary persuaded him. Now was the time to use it. She took the package out of her other trouser pocket, peeled the wrapper open and placed the nozzle in the victim’s left nostril and pressed the plunger.

She keyed the mic on her handset and started to speak. “Constable Dunbar.” As though on cue, the nearby Steam Clock began whistling — no sense in trying to outperform the contraption. Wait for the completion of its proclamation of the top of the hour — Westminster chimes followed by singular whistle blasts counting out the time. Soon relative quiet returned and Hilary tried again. “Constable Dunbar. Badge 8652. I need an ambulance at Blood Alley and Cambie Street. Suspected drug overdose. Have administered four milligrams of Narcan nasal spray. No response as of yet.”

By now, Luke had the cruiser’s roof lights on. Blue, red and white alternating then running from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side of the vehicle.

The wail of the siren grew louder. In minutes, paramedics jumped out and trundled a stretcher and medical equipment to the stricken person.

Hilary stood back, letting them do their jobs. “I gave him Narcan,” she said, handing the spent plastic bottle to one of them.

“He’s alive ... just. You found him in time. We’ve bagged the needle so they can run tests on the contents at the hospital. Figure out what he shot into his veins.”

* * *

Did you enjoy that? Do you want to read more? Well, here is the blurb and buying links. I’ve already ordered my copy.

Blurb

Trainspotting meets Hot Pursuit...

Hilary Dunbar is a uniformed constable with the Vancouver Police with an agenda to rid the streets of drugs, especially the bad ones the notorious dealer, Carlos Navarra, is trafficking.

Heroin addict, Erik Layne, has lived on the streets of Gastown for as long as he can remember, having left home and Toronto as a rebellious teenage addict. His and Hilary’s paths cross when she finds him unconscious in an alley after injecting a batch of the contaminated drug. He must fight for his life to keep from dying, not only from the tainted smack but also from the man who provided it.

A domestic disturbance call goes wrong, and Hilary suffers life-changing injuries as a result. As luck would have it, she and Erik are hospitalized in the same ward at Vancouver General Hospital. When she sinks into a deep depression, it’s he who pulls her out of her doldrums.

But will Hilary’s obsession with bringing down Navarra and others like him destroy their relationship and, more importantly, jeopardize their lives?



Buy Links

It Happened in Gastown releases on December 1st, but you can pre-order your copy now for the low price of $2.99/£2.99.
Kindle
Kobo

Book 1 in the series - It Happened on Dufferin Terrace is on sale for $0.99/£0.99 or you can enter my giveaway to win a kindle or kobo copy.

To enter, leave me a comment. Your name will be entered in a draw on December 1st (launch day for It Happened in Gastown).

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Kindle Create! Is This the Answer to Your Formatting Woes?


I have been publishing novels to Kindle for seven years and formatting has always been a major concern because if you get it wrong it can completely spoil your book.

When I first started to publish to KDP, it took me on a massive learning curve. But I think I can safely say that, over time, I became a formatting whiz from whom other authors constantly asked advice. That resulted in me publishing my hard-earned knowledge in my self-help book Nuts & Bolts of Self-Publishing.

More recently I have become aware that the KDP software, Kindle Create, may have come of age. I tended to steer clear of it when it was at the beta stage but recently I gained the impression it was better established so I thought I would try it out. You can download Kindle Create here.



After I downloaded the software from KDP, I imported one of my crime novels into Kindle Create. It was relatively easy and immediately the file loaded it generated a table of contents as the .NCX file. That’s the TOC accessed through the ‘Go To’ command in a Kindle eReader, not the one at the beginning of the book, and is something that is often the bane of every author’s life when uploading a Kindle book. So, full marks to Kindle Create for that.

However, if you want a list of chapters at the beginning of your book, which is something I loathe and who wants to read a list of Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and so on ad infinitum, then you will still need to include it in your Word file before import. The .NCX file generates automatically but the beginning TOC does not.

The layout of the software comprises a ‘Contents’ pane down the left-hand side. This shows you how your book is laid out, in parts and chapters. The middle pane is where your text goes and the right-hand pane is the Text Properties’ pane where you access all your additional formatting needs.



The text in the imported file was added exactly the way I’d formatted it in Word but Kindle Create has some bells and whistles that allow you to enhance your formatting even further. Most of these are contained in the ‘Text Properties’ pane at the right-hand side. It is worth mentioning here that all your chapter titles whether that be Chapter 1, or a descriptive phrase heading, require to be formatted under Chapter Title’ in the ‘Common Elements’ of the ‘Text Properties’ pane otherwise they will not appear in the .NCX table of contents. That, however, does not stop you editing the chapter title with a different font or size if you wish to.



Kindle Create has four theme templates to choose from. Whichever theme you choose will automatically add it to the entire book. However, apart from the default theme ‘Modern’ I did not particularly like the other themes. You will find the Theme icon at the top right of your screen in the menu bar. It sits alongside ‘Save’, ‘Preview’ and ‘Publish’.

Coming back to my imported file I didn’t really need to do much polishing to the book apart from checking that my ‘Other Books’ page was set out properly, my hyperlinks were working, and that the copyright notice and other little bits were the way I liked them. The book itself only needed about two tweaks. The first tweak I did was to reduce the size of the chapter heading, I thought the heading in the template was a bit too large. The second tweak I did was to ensure that the first paragraph in each chapter was tagged with the Chapter First Paragraph’ setting in the ‘Common Elements’ section in the ‘Properties Pane’. This gave me a nice drop-down cap in the first sentence. Every element can be edited so you are not restricted to the defaults.

If your book has images, these can be imported along with the Word file, and you can add hyperlinks. You can insert block quotes and the software can lay out poems, something which formatters have always felt to be a challenge.

Once you are satisfied with the layout of your book, you can preview it using the ‘Preview’ command in the menu bar at the top right of your screen. You can choose to preview your book as it would appear in a tablet, an eReader or a phone, or all three if you wish.



I understand it is also possible to format print books with Kindle Create but this is at an early beta stage. I did not try out this aspect of the software.

One thing to take note of is that when you save a Kindle Create project it produces a .kcb file which has a blue icon. This is not the file you upload to KDP. Once you are satisfied with your formatted file, you must then publish it in Kindle Create by selecting the ‘Publish’ command at the top right corner of the menu bar. This produces the .kpf file (gold icon) which is the one you upload to KDP.



There are some negatives about Kindle Create. The main one is that it only produces files for Kindle. It does not produce epub files which are used by other eReaders such as Kobo. The other is that the themes are not as attractive as those used by Vellum, the Mac software equivalent. Vellum is sophisticated software capable of producing epub versions and print books but is only available for Mac computers and you do pay a hefty price for it. You can check it out here.

The main advantage of Kindle Create is that it is free software and does a good job of formatting for Kindle. If you do require epubs then the Kindle .kpf file can be converted to epubs in Calibre software, which is a free download, although you do have to enable the ‘KFX input’ plugin first. You can find Calibre here.

So, what did I think? Well, by the time I had finished testing Kindle Create I was so impressed by the ease of use and the output I formatted all of my Kindle books using the software. It’s well worth trying out, and it’s free. What more could you want?

Chris Longmuir

Website
Amazon Author page


Monday, 19 August 2019

Birthday Bargains from a Leo


I’m a Leo with a birthday in August and as Leo’s are renowned for being generous, I’m doing something I’ve never done before.

What am I doing?

Well, it’s simple really. I’m reducing the prices of my Dundee Crime Series and my Kirsty Campbell Mysteries to £1.99 for the duration of this month. They usually sell for £3.99 so that’s a saving of £2.00 on each book. However, a word of warning, at the end of August, the books will all return to their normal price.


Alternatively, you can save £3.00 on the box set containing all 3 ebooks for £4.99. The box set usually sells for £7.99, so that’s quite a saving.



As I previously said, I haven’t been in the habit of doing this so, I’m sure, that if you look outside tonight, you’ll see a blue moon in the sky!

Happy reading folks. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat some birthday cake.

Chris Longmuir

Website:  https://www.chrislongmuir.co.uk

Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2KHtFMT