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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.


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.


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.

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

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


Amazon Author Page:

Monday, 31 December 2018

Happy New Year to One and All

To all my friends, family, readers and followers I want to send you all my best wishes for 2019. I hope you enjoy happiness, health and wealth, as well as success in everything you do.

But for me, it's time to take stock because that’s another year gone. They seem to whiz past so quickly now. I’m dashed if I know where the time has gone and what I’ve done with it.

As I recall I made some resolutions last New Year. So how did I do?

Well, I suppose you could say the first one was a bit mixed because I did publish Death of a Doxy this past year, but it was in March and not January which is what I had resolved to do. So, half marks for that. Full marks for publishing the book but a half mark deducted for not getting it out on time.

The second resolution was kept because I did plan the next book in the Dundee Crime Series. However, I lost my mojo about 20,000 words in because another idea pushed its way to the front of my mind and I started to work on a completely different book which was burning to be born. So, no top marks there either.

The third one was to write faster. I’m afraid that resolution was a dismal failure. It never got off the ground. Maybe it’s just as well because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I know I wouldn’t be pleased with a rushed job.

So, it’s time to make some resolutions for 2019

Resolution 1 – Work hard writing the new book and publish it in 2019. This one is the first book of a completely new mystery series. The series will be labelled the Suffragette Mysteries and is set earlier in the century in 1908 but, although the book is progressing well, it doesn’t actually have a title yet. I’m sure inspiration will strike before I write "The End".

Resolution 2 – Return to my partly written book 4 in the Dundee Crime Series and finish it. Is it too much to hope for that I will be able to publish this one in 2019 as well?

Resolution 3 – Try my best to write faster, set goals and brush up my work ethic. However, I must not let that get in the way of the quality of the finished book. That wouldn’t be fair to my readers.

And, once again, I won’t make a resolution to market and promote better because, as you already know, that goes against the grain. Once again I will think myself lucky if my lovely readers spread the word, provided they enjoy reading my books. After all, a writer is nothing without readers.

So, I'll raise a glass to you and wish you a Happy New Year.

Chris Longmuir

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Kirsty Campbell Investigates

An invitation especially for you just in case you missed the invitations I sent out over the last few weeks. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the book launch of my new Kirsty Campbell mystery, Death of a Doxy.

In this new mystery, Kirsty, Dundee’s first policewoman, is up to her eyes in a new investigation and is convinced her boss, DI Jamie Brewster, has got it all wrong.

Lily, one of Big Aggie’s girls in her house of pleasure, is savagely murdered and Big Aggie is found covered in blood beside the body. It seems an open and shut case but Kirsty is not so sure. Unable to get Brewster to listen to her reservations she sets out to uncover Lily’s secrets which she is sure will lead her to the killer. But this killer will do anything to avoid detection and Kirsty finds herself in danger where her life is at stake. Will she come through unscathed this time? I’m not telling!

I’ll be talking about the book in more depth at the launch and introduce you to Kirsty who is both feisty and vulnerable in equal measures. She is an unusual and interesting main character and I’m sure there will be many more adventures for her in Dundee.

Look what I found at Waterstones

 If you are anywhere in the vicinity on Thursday evening do pop in and say hello to me.

Chris Longmuir

PS: If you like the sound of Kirsty you can buy the book at:

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Life of an Author: Busy, Busy, Busy

After the launch of Death of a Doxy, the third book in my Kirsty Campbell series, last week I thought I might be able to draw breath and relax.

Silly me! I should have known better.

In my naivety, I’d scheduled a Facebook event for the launch. and, of course, it was a mad dash at the last minute to ensure Death of a Doxy was available in time. After all, what’s a launch without a book? But the event was a great success. I provided virtual food and drink and some obscure facts and lots of chit-chat. It was exhilarating, but boy was I shattered by the end of it. It took me all my time to crawl into bed.

Next up was all the little things I needed to do. Responding to readers who contacted me,  then updating my website, my Facebook author page, making my Book2Look widget, updating my posters and various bits and bobs.

Finally, all the little tasks were done so what’s left to do? The Waterstone’s physical launch of course. That’s currently in the process of being arranged. It will be at the Dundee branch of the store and, as usual, there will be assorted nibbles and some liquid refreshment. These launches usually go off with a bang.

In the meantime, I noticed a couple of reviews had already trickled into Amazon so that’s good because I never ask anyone to do reviews although it’s great when someone takes the time and trouble to do one. It all helps to bring the book to the attention of new readers.

So now, is it time to sit back and relax?

Nope. No way!

I’m now preparing for Crime at the Castle where I’ll be speaking alongside the great and the good of the crime writing fraternity. People like Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Chris Brookmyre, Alex Gray, Lin Anderson. I could go on and on.
Glamis Castle

This is going to be a fabulous event held in Glamis Castle, the childhood home of the Queen Mother, and with a history that stretches back in time. My talks will be in the Queen Mother’s sitting room, and the Chapel which comes complete with the ghost of the Grey Lady. (Did I forget to mention the ghosts?) I must remember to welcome her to my talk.

Anyway, I have to be off now to prepare for this fabulous event. I’m busy, busy, busy.

Chris Longmuir

Monday, 12 February 2018

“Valentine’s Day must be for everyone but me.”

I rarely post guest blogs here and would never contemplate it unless I respected the guest concerned. And Anneli is someone I have a great deal of respect for. She is a brilliant writer and her blog is always crammed with great photos. I look forward to each one as it arrives. I have never actually met Anneli in the real world but she rates highly among my friends in the virtual world. So, this time, it is my pleasure to hand the blog over to Anneli and entertain you with a feast for the eyes.

This is how Marlie feels -- very much down on her luck with her world falling apart. See the eyes on the cover? One shows the hurt she has felt, and the other shows her determination to pick herself up and be strong
Her wild hair is a turn on for more than one fellow she meets, but although Marlie desperately wants to be loved, she is choosy. She’s been hurt too many times.
Everything in her life always seems to go wrong. Determined to start fresh, she is the perfect candidate for an escape to a remote teaching post in the Queen Charlotte Islands, now called Haida Gwaii, off the coast of northern British Columbia.
The town of Masset looks welcoming in the sunshine.

Many of Marlie’s students live in poor homes in nearby Haida village, but these First Nations children become very dear to her.

Being in a fishing community opens up a whole new world for her, with eagles, humpback whales, and killer whales to be seen in their natural habitat. Marlie is in awe of the beauty of the islands and the abundance of wildlife around her.

But all is not beauty and serenity. The lifestyle is quite different. In her daily life, it isn’t all as romantic or perfect as she’d hoped. For one thing, the weather can be horrendous. A fisherman shows her a picture of a bad day at sea. He says sometimes he can’t even see out the windshield for the rain and spray off the water. Marlie soon finds out what kind of screaming wild winds would visit the islands in the coming winter.

People on the islands help each other even if they don’t know who you are. Unfortunately, Marlie finds out that some will just as readily hurt an unsuspecting person. In her first months on the islands, she runs into both kinds. One unfortunate bad choice she makes will hang over her for months, and leave her struggling.
She shares some of her troubles with Skylar, a fellow teacher, as they explore the nearly deserted beaches. Even here, she finds herself having to test her survival skills.

Juggling her problems and feelings about people she meets on the islands, Marlie begins to wonder if her “fresh start” was going to work out for her. She has two choices: quit her job and go back to the mess her life used to be, or sort out the new mess she has gotten herself into and figure out a way to survive in this beautiful, godforsaken place.
Why don’t you come spend some time with Marlie in Anneli’s book? She could use a good friend right about now. You might even meet some people you’ve met in Anneli’s other books. Remember Jim, Andrea, and Foissy? You would have met them in “The Wind Weeps” and in its sequel, “Reckoning Tide.”
Make Marlie happy this Valentine’s Day.
Come see her inside the covers of the book named for her -- “Marlie.”
Here’s where you can find her.
For Kindle and paperback:
For e-books other than Kindle :

About Anneli Purchase
Anneli loves to write and to do copy-editing for other writers. She spent six years living in the Queen Charlotte Islands. She loves nature, gardening, and photography. Animals, especially birds, are a special interest, and although they are never the main focus, they always find their way into her books in some small way. Anneli lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and two spaniels.

Marlie is her fifth novel.