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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Turning from a Life of Crime to the Mysteries of Self-Publishing

Normally, with a new book, I’d be treating you to a tale of murder mystery, something to make you frightened to turn out the light, and to make you look over your shoulder as you walk down the street. But, I’ve left my life of crime behind in my new publishing venture to bring you a comprehensive guide on how to self-publish. ‘The Nuts & Bolts of Self-Publishing: How to Self-Publish Ebooks and Paperbacks’.

I’ve been writing professionally for the best part of twenty years now. At first, I concentrated on articles and short stories, and then several years later, after I’d served my apprenticeship, I started writing novels. Like almost every other author I went through the wilderness years of constant submissions and rejections, but after winning a major book prize I eventually broke through the wall I’d been trying to batter down for several years. This was in the heady days, not so long ago, when ebooks had not yet made their mark and publishers looked on them as a passing phase.

Dundee International Book Prize

Fast forward a few years to 2011 when I decided to publish the first book in my Dundee Crime Series, Night Watcher, to Kindle. After a bit of trial and error, I succeeded and soon followed it up with other novels. What I didn’t realise was that I was building up my expertise and knowledge of the electronic publishing business.

You see, I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I’m also very curious. I like to know how things work. I’ve even gone to the lengths of building my own computers because it’s not enough for me to simply use a computer to do what I want it to. I need to know how it works. The same applied to electronic publishing. It wasn’t enough to simply format and upload my books, I had to understand everything it was possible to know about the process.

A year after I started to publish ebooks I branched out to publish paperbacks. Once again, I studied the processes to become as knowledgeable as it was possible to be. But it still didn’t dawn on me that I was becoming something of an expert in the field of self-publishing, even though I was by now being contacted by other authors seeking advice on how to go about it.

The turning point came last March when I was asked to do a workshop on self-publishing at a writers’ conference. I took a deep breath and agreed. What I produced and delivered was a workshop called the Nuts and Bolts of Self-Publishing, and at this stage, I still wasn’t thinking of writing a book on the subject. Well, the workshop was so successful I had great difficulty winding it up and we overran. It would have continued all day if the participants had had their way.

However, it was only after I returned home and looked at my notes and handouts that I realised that these were the synopsis of a book. And now, almost a year later the book is written. It has involved a lot of research as well as calling on my expertise in this area, and I hope the result will be helpful to all aspiring writers who might be thinking about self-publishing.

Chris Longmuir

You can buy the book here:

UK – paperback – Kindle

US – Paperback - Kindle

Monday, 23 January 2017

Centenary of the Silvertown Explosion

This month is the centenary of the Silvertown explosion which provides a dramatic opening to my latest Kirsty Campbell mystery, Devil’s Porridge. In this book, I have mixed fact and fiction to fashion a story guaranteed to keep readers turning the pages.

On Friday 19th January 1917, at 6.52 pm, a massive explosion destroyed the Brunner-Mond munitions factory and destroyed most of Silvertown. This explosion has been described as the biggest explosion ever to have taken place in London.

Silvertown, in the east end of London, was an industrial area on the north bank of the River Thames, opposite the Greenwich Peninsula, and south of the Victoria Docks.

The Brunner-Mond factory at Silvertown was an old established chemical works which had been adapted, at the start of the First World War, to manufacture TNT (trinitrotoluene) a highly explosive substance.

The explosion occurred after a fire broke out in the melt room shortly after the workers had finished work for the weekend. It destroyed the factory and obliterated a large part of Silvertown. It is recorded that the sound of the blast could be heard as far away as Sussex, and red-hot lumps of metal rained down on other areas, starting fires wherever they landed. A gas holder, across the river on the Greenwich Peninsula, was hit and shot 8 million cubic feet of gas into the sky in a massive fireball. This gas holder was in the area now occupied by the Millennium Dome.

A local reporter, writing in the Stratford Express, wrote: “The whole heavens were lit in awful splendour. A fiery glow seemed to have come over the dark and miserable January evening, and objects which a few minutes before had been blotted out in the intense darkness were silhouetted against the sky.”

It is estimated that between 60,000 to 70,000 properties were damaged, 73 people were killed, and over 400 were injured. The toll would have been even greater had the explosion occurred during working hours.

Rumours were rife about the cause of the explosion. Some thought it was a Zeppelin attack, some said it was sabotage, but these were ruled out and the cause was confirmed as an accident.

But, of course, an accident doesn’t make for gripping fiction, and Devil’s Porridge is not a history book, it’s a murder mystery story. One of the knacks of writing historical fiction is the ability to blend facts into the fiction, perhaps twisting them a little, without distorting the historical reality. So, in Devil’s Porridge, the explosion is the result of sabotage with a murder thrown in for good measure.

Similarly, I touch on other historical facts for the back story, like the invasion of Belgium by the Germans in 1914, the German spy network operating from Rotterdam, MI5, King George and Queen Mary’s visit to Gretna in 1917, the Easter Rising in Ireland, and the imprisonment and ultimate release of the Irish revolutionaries from Frongoch. And, of course, Kirsty Campbell is one of the pioneering policewomen of the time.

I enjoyed the historical research for this book and although fictional elements have been woven into the facts, for example, there was no assassination attempt on the King, at least as far as the history books tell us, I trust this will not spoil the story for the historians amongst my readers.

Chris Longmuir

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year

I said it at the beginning of my Christmas post - Where has the year gone? and I'm saying it again. But, it's now time to stop wondering about that in order to look forward to 2017 and make our resolutions.

Resolution 1: Send my nonfiction book 'Nuts & Bolts of Self-Publishing' off to be published before the end of January. It should be a piece of cake (I hope), the first draft is complete, the cover designer geared to go, and there's only the editing! Groan! That could take forever.

Resolution 2: Finish writing my next Kirsty Campbell mystery, Bloody Murder, I'm five chapters in. It should be a piece of cake (I hope). I'm being optimistic here because it all depends on Kirsty and whether she'll share the story with me.

Resolution 3: Promote and market my books more. Nah! That won't work. I'm not very good at the 'Buy my Book' spiel, nor would I want to be because I write my books for the pleasure of writing, and the pleasure of pleasing my readers. So, scrap that resolution.

In the meantime, Happy New Year to you all and I wish you joy and success over the coming year.

Chris Longmuir

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Christmas is acoming

Where has the year gone? Christmas is almost here and it only seems yesterday we were basking in the summer sun, and I could have sworn it was no time at all when we ate last year’s Christmas dinner.

But the Christmas cards are thumping through the door, the Christmas tree is up – not mine, my son and daughter-in-law’s tree. Christmas lights twinkle merrily outside several doors in our street and I’m trying hard to get into the festive mood.

Oh, my cards, calendars, and parcels are posted. The paper for the Christmas day presents is looked out, maybe I should wrap them tonight. The pre-Christmas lunches have come and gone. But, there’s something missing! Yes, you’ve guessed it. My husband passed away eleven years ago and, as well as being a joyous time, Christmas is also a sad time, and the house feels empty.

But he wouldn’t have wanted me to be sad, so I do what I usually do, give myself a shake and count my blessings.

I have a wonderful family and I’ll be eating Christmas dinner with my son and daughter-in-law at their house, as well as New Year’s Day dinner. My granddaughter is brilliant. she looks out for me and shares her life with me. I’ve had a successful year. I now have seven books published and another two incubating. My new book Devil’s Porridge has been well received and readers seem to like it.

I’m feeling better already.

Happy Christmas everyone, and I hope you get lots of goodies, particularly books in your Christmas stocking.

Chris Longmuir

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Christmas Offer: And you don’t have to kill to get it

I think there must be a blue moon at the moment, because I never, I repeat never, do free offers. But I have one for you this Christmas. It’s free copy of the first book in the Dundee Crime Series, Night Watcher, but the offer only lasts until the 18th so you’ll have to be quick. Click the link to get Night Watcher Nearly forgot to say there are other thrillers there as well and they're all free.

Happy Christmas everyone, and I hope you get lots of goodies, particularly books in your Christmas stocking.

Chris Longmuir

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Chill with a Book AWARD by Pauline Barclay

I’ve been a follower of the Chill with a Book blog since it first started. Pauline Barclay who created the blog is someone who loves books, and she provides the most wonderful support to all authors. So, when I noticed she had started a new award scheme on her blog, I felt impelled to share this with all my followers.

Exclusive to indie authors and authors with small indie publishers, a new Award initiative from Chill with a Book is designed to promote the best from indie authors.

Founder and award-winning author, Pauline Barclay explains about the new Award, “We all know anyone can publish a book these days, and many do! Sadly not all are well written, have been edited or are structured. Unlike traditional publishing, there are no gatekeepers to decide whether a MSS is acceptable for publication for indie authors, which means anything can be published.  And, whilst there are some questionable publications on the market, there are also brilliant publications too by indie authors, and that is why Chill with a Book has created an Award. I want Chill with a Book Award not only to gain a reputation for recognising the best for indie authors but for authors to feel proud and honoured to receive the accolade. However, the Award is not for everyone, it will only be honoured to the best.

How the process works:

Once a title has been accepted for consideration it will be read by a number of Chill’s readers and checked against the following criteria…

Were the characters strong and engaging?
Was the book well written?
Did the plot have you turning the page to find out what happened next?
Was the ending satisfying?
Have you told your friends about it?

Readers have clear instructions on how to arrive at their evaluation.

Authors must understand that a book accepted for consideration for a Chill with a Book AWARD does not guarantee it will receive the AWARD.

Authors of books accepted for consideration for the AWARD will be notified directly whatever the final decision.

Awarded books will be promoted on Chill with a Book’s website, Chill's Pinterest board, Chill's Facebook page and Twitter

A small fee of £16 is payable for each book accepted for consideration via Paypal (the fee is for the purchase of Kindle copies for readers and any balance left used to maintain Chill’s website and the Award programme)

There are limited places each month for books to be considered and if you are interested in submitting your title, please email Pauline at in the first instance.

Chill with a Book’s decisions to accept or reject a book for consideration is final.
Chill with a Book's decision to award a book or not is final.

“There is no doubt it is an exciting time for Chill with a Book and indie authors and I look forward to seeing great, well-written reads sporting the coveted Chill with a Book Award button on every bookshelf.”

For more information about Chill with a Book, its Award programme and indie authors honoured, click on the following links:
Chris Longmuir

Monday, 26 September 2016

Gretna and Eastriggs: Home of Devil’s Porridge

Prior to the First World War, the townships of Gretna and Eastriggs did not exist. The name Gretna, however, with its associations with the village of Gretna Green, famous for over the anvil weddings, gives the impression that Gretna is an old-established town. But Gretna Green is situated 1.2 miles further north of the newer township of Gretna.
Blacksmiths Shop Gretna Green
When the Ministry of Munitions built HM Factory Gretna, it quickly became obvious that the accommodation available in the area would not be sufficient to accommodate the thousands of workers required to manufacture the munitions. As a result, two complete townships were built by the Ministry to service the factory and house the workforce. Eastriggs was built on a 173-acre site, while Gretna’s site occupied 431 acres. There were over 1,000 permanent cottages built on these sites by the end of the war.

Eastriggs serviced the Dornock area of the factory and is 4.5 miles west of Gretna, although many of the munitionettes lived in the Gretna hostels and travelled daily to either the Dornock site in the west or the eastern Mossband site over the border in England.

Gordon L Routledge, in Gretna’s Secret War, says “Where before there were only a few farmhouses, suddenly there was a city of 20,000 factory workers and their families under the control of the Ministry of Munitions. In addition to huts for their accommodation, clubs, refreshment rooms, churches, and other buildings were erected for their benefit.”

Many of the buildings in Gretna were made of wood, temporary homes for temporary workers, and it was soon nicknamed Timbertown. The wooden houses, set out like a military grid, contained between three to five rooms and were for families or groups. However, there were also larger brick-built hostels used mainly for unmarried women as well as some permanent cottages for families. However, while the temporary hostel accommodation in Gretna and Eastriggs housed around 19,000 single male and female workers, the purpose-built permanent cottages provided space for only 550 families.
Gretna - Timber Town (apologies for the quality)
All the hostels were named after military leaders and famous people. Wellington, Kitchener, and Wolfe were situated on Victory Avenue and Burnside Road as was The Pensions Hospital, and the Maternity House Hostel. Clive and Gordon Hostels were on Central Avenue, while Mary Queen of Scots Hostel, which features in Devil’s Porridge, was located on Dominion Road. The hostels in Victory Avenue were all the larger brick-built ones, but the buildings in Dominion Road were wooden. Likewise, the women police were based in a large wooden hostel.
Central Avenue, Gretna
Both Eastriggs and Gretna were self-sufficient, providing everything needed within a town. For example, Gretna Township’s facilities included a central shopping area, a cinema, a dance hall and concert hall, churches, schools, bank, post office, bakery, laundry, assembly halls, sports grounds, hotels and clubs. It even had its own railway station.
The munitions workers travelled by train to their work areas
The Ministry of Munitions controlled all the towns in the area including Carlisle, and they imposed draconian measures to curb drinking which applied to all hotels and public houses. This included early closing times, no drinks served without meals, and no treating. It was an offence to buy someone else a drink.

There was nowhere else in Britain quite like Gretna Munitions Factory and the surrounding area. This was why it made it such a fascinating setting for Devil’s Porridge, my new Kirsty Campbell Mystery novel.

Chris Longmuir
You can buy Devil’s Porridge here:

If you would like a free short story featuring DS Bill Murphy from my popular Dundee Crime Series then click the image or visit my website to fill in the form to tell me where to send it.
Meet Bill Murphy long before he became a policeman. Get a taste of the child that made the man.