Sunday, 31 December 2017
Well, that’s another year in and it seems to have whizzed by, it doesn’t seem like yesterday I was making my New Year resolutions and I bet you’re wondering whether I managed to keep them. So here goes:
1917 resolutions – how did I do?
First resolution – Publish my nonfiction book “Nuts & Bolts of Self-Publishing” before the end of January – I almost made it because I published it on 6th February 1917. I was only 6 days out. And I’m really pleased at how well it’s done and that a lot of people have found it useful.
Second resolution – Finish writing my next Kirsty Campbell mystery, “Bloody Murder” – Woop, woop. I finished it just before Christmas although I still have all the revision and editing to do, but I’ve made a start. The only thing is, it’s got a new title. I thought “Bloody Murder” was too modern for a historical murder mystery, so I’ve retitled it “Death of a Doxy”.
Third resolution – Promote and market my books more! Well, that was a nonstarter because I’m rubbish at the ‘Buy my book’ spiel. But then, I’m happy to be rubbish at that because I write mainly for the pleasure of writing and pleasing my readers.
So that’s last year’s resolutions out of the way. What about this year?
Resolutions for 1918:
Resolution 1 – Work hard on the revision and editing of “Death of a Doxy” and publish it before the end of January. Should be a piece of cake provided I don’t take too much time off to eat or sleep.
Resolution 2 – Plan my next book which will be another of the Dundee Crime Series. Problem is I haven’t got a scooby about the plot or anything else, apart from the fact I’ve promised our fabulous Angus library staff to place a body in one of their libraries. And thank you Lesley Matthews for offering yourself up as the body.
Resolution 3 – Write faster because that is what my readers want.
Please note, I haven’t made a resolution to do any marketing or promotion because it goes against the grain. I will just count myself lucky if all the readers who enjoy my books, spread the word.
Happy New Year everybody.
Sunday, 24 December 2017
Wishing you all a happy Christmas as well as Season’s Greetings to those of you who do not celebrate Christmas.
It’s a special time of the year and along with my good wishes, I also have some good news for you. My new book is almost ready because I’ve just written The End. Now for the title reveal. Drum roll. It’s called “Death of a Doxy” and it’s one of my Kirsty Campbell mysteries set in 1919.
Of course, there is still a lot of work to do. Revision and editing, looking for plot holes, checking the story structure is working, ensuring my characters are not cardboard cutouts, so I’ll be putting my head down over the holidays and getting a start on sorting all those things out.
My cover designer is currently working on the design elements of the cover so it won’t be long before I can share that with you. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with but I’ll keep you updated.
In the meantime, thank you for all your support and for reading and enjoying my books.
Thursday, 30 November 2017
|Write Scotland Christmas Bonanza|
What? You haven’t heard about Write Scotland? Well, let me give you the heads up. we’re a group of eight writers who write fiction set in Scotland. Some of us are domiciled in Scotland but we also have members who live further away. Our reach even extends as far as Australia. However, we have one thing in common, we all have strong Scottish links and we all write Scottish fiction. And, dare I say it, our books are excellent. Check out the website.
The eight authors are: Chris Longmuir; Sharon Brownlie; Cathy M Donnelly: Wendy H Jones; Carmel McMurdo Audsley; Billy McLaughlin; Alex Breck; and Melanie Robertson-King.
The eight authors are: Chris Longmuir; Sharon Brownlie; Cathy M Donnelly: Wendy H Jones; Carmel McMurdo Audsley; Billy McLaughlin; Alex Breck; and Melanie Robertson-King.
|Write Scotland Authors|
Well, we’ve recently put our Scottish thinking heads together and we came up with the bright idea that we’d host a Facebook event to introduce you to our members and, as it’s near Christmas, we’re calling it the Write Scotland Christmas Bonanza. You can find the details here, please check it out and if you like what you see then we’d be glad to see you at the event.
As I’ve already said there are eight of us and we’ll be running competitions with prizes, offering freebies, and allowing you to put us on the spot by asking us any question you like, no matter how outlandish it is. But, above all, it’s going to be great fun. You mustn’t miss it.
Ah! I knew I’d forgotten something. The event is taking place on Facebook on Sunday 3rd December and it kicks off at 7pm (UK time) when you can meet the first of our authors, Robin Morton. My slot comes immediately after that at 7.20pm, and as an inducement, I’ve reduced all my Kindle ebooks to £1.99 for the duration of the event but they will go back to normal prices on Wednesday 6th December, so you’ll need to be quick.
I hope I’ll see you on Sunday.
Thursday, 12 October 2017
What! Haven’t you heard about Crime at the Castle? The original and new crime festival taking place at Glamis Castle and about to burst onto the scene on February 24th, 2018. Click here for information
This is where you’ll find the biggest and hottest crime writers that Scotland has to offer. One newspaper described the selection of authors as “some of the nation’s best crime writers”. And guess what? I’m included in the programme. Click here for the programme
Crime at the Castle was the brainchild of author Wendy H Jones and after a lot of hard work in conjunction with the Glamis Castle events team, the programme has just been launched. And if you haven’t heard of Wendy H Jones, then you’ve had your eyes shut. Either that or you never visit social media sites. She’s impossible to miss on Facebook and has a following that is the envy of many authors. But, if you really haven’t heard about Wendy click here for her website
But let’s talk about the conference. It’s a one-day event, and as I previously said, it’s taking place at Glamis Castle. There are sixteen famous authors appearing including Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Alex Gray, Chris Brookmyre, Lin Anderson, Caro Ramsay and plenty more. The hard thing for those booking a place at the conference will be selecting which author’s event to choose because there is a choice of six different events running at the same time although some of us have a slot in the morning and a repeat slot in the afternoon.
For example, my first slot is at 10 am in The Chapel, and my repeat slot is at 2.30 pm in the Queen Mother’s sitting room. In both slots, I will be talking about the rocky road to publication. I just hope I get an audience because Caro Ramsey, Alex Gray, Shona McLean, Caroline Dunford and Jackie McLean, are on at the same time in the morning, and I’m up against Val McDermid, Alex Gray, Caroline Dunford, Michael J Malone, and Douglas Skelton in the afternoon. All of them stiff competition.
As well as my own events I’ll also be introducing Chris Brookmyre in the Drawing Room, and interviewing Lin Anderson in the Dining Room. So it’s going to be a hectic day.
So, what will this fabulous event cost you? I guarantee you won’t have to take out a mortgage to cover it because it’s only £55 for the entire day and that includes lunch in the Glamis Castle restaurant. And they do really nice lunches. I’ve eaten there before at previous visits. In my opinion, it’s the bargain of the year. Meeting your favourite authors, sitting down to lunch with them, and an exciting experience in fabulous surroundings. What more could a reader or writer ask for?
One last proviso, there are only a limited number of tickets which is due to the space available and the inability to squeeze in additional people so I would advise you to get your tickets as soon as possible, particularly if there is a favourite author’s session you want to attend. It will be first come, first served, and once it’s gone it’s gone.
I hope to see you there.
Monday, 25 September 2017
Two years in the planning but the Society of Authors in Scotland conference ScotsWrite was a roaring success although now it’s all over I have to admit to being a bit knackered.
Decked out in our royal blue tee shirts and/or sashes we were constantly on the go. My Fitbit, which monitors how much exercise I take and how many steps and miles I walk, almost collapsed with exhaustion. And at the end of each day, I also collapsed into bed thinking I’d never make it to breakfast the next morning. But I always did. Plus I had to be bright and breezy for the morning team meeting where we did our planning to ensure all the delegates got an amazing experience.
I think we succeeded in providing that amazing experience because there was a definite buzz during the conference and many demands for us to do it again next year. However, there were no plans to make this an annual event. It was meant to be a one-off and given the fact this conference was two years in the making the logistics would rule out another event of this nature next year. But it has planted the idea that this cannot be a one-off and that there might need to be thought given to a repeat in the future. I, for one, certainly hope it can be done again.
|The registration desk is ready and we're raring to go|
The conference started on Friday afternoon, but we were all there from early morning to tackle the tasks that needed to be done prior to the arrival of the first delegates. There was registration to set up as well as display boards inviting comments and discussions. Some of the organising team assisted by student volunteers tackled the mammoth task of packing the goody-bags. In fact, there was so much to do I did wonder at one time whether we would make our deadlines. But writers are used to deadlines and this was a conference organised by writers for writers. So everything was completed in time and the conference got off to a good start.
Our lineup of speakers was outstanding. Many conferences have one keynote speaker but because we had a keynote speaker each day of the conference and two on Saturday, that meant we had four: Joanne Harris the author of Chocolat and other books; Jane Johnson who has been a publisher and is now an author; Charlie Higson who wrote the young James Bond books; and Joanna Penn, author-entrepreneur, who is an expert on all aspects of publishing and marketing. I managed to see and hear them all except for Charlie Higson because I was manning the registration desk which remained open the entire conference for any queries that might arise.
Apart from the keynote speakers, there were masses of breakout sessions (workshops) all of which were excellent, and I had the honour of hosting Denis Mina at her session. She’s a lovely person as well as being a brilliant writer. Did you know she won this year’s McIlvanney prize for best crime novel? Other breakout sessions were presented by Caro Ramsay, Emily Dodds, Mary Hoffman, David Bishop and a host of others. We also had two Scrivener sessions and got a sneak peek at the new Scrivener Three which will be launched within the next few months. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Our venue was the Westerwood Hotel at Cumbernauld and as far as I am concerned it’s one of the best conference hotels around. The facilities offered included their own golf course as well as a spa but, of course, we didn’t have time to use them. As always, the food was delicious and I think I’ll have to diet for the next month to recover. Oh, and I can’t forget the ceilidh we had on Saturday night after the gala meal. It was a blast as well. The floor was packed although I managed to avoid most of the energetic dances like the eightsome reel and strip the willow.
I’m exhausted after all that and I’m off to lie down to recover now. You may not see me for some time!
Friday, 11 August 2017
Writing conferences are part and parcel of a busy writer’s life. They release writers from their self-imposed solitude and confirm there is life outside the writer’s cave. It provides an opportunity to expand our knowledge, find out how other writers work, meet other writers who are household names and others who are less well known. Above all, it’s about networking.
Normally I am simply an attendee and sometimes a speaker but I’ve never been involved with organising a conference. Until now.
After the Society of Authors in Scotland (SOAiS) made the decision to organise a conference we were gripped with excitement. We wanted it to be the best conference ever, particularly as it was going to be a one off and wouldn’t be repeated. Well, at least not for a long time. Find out all about the conference at http://www.societyofauthors.org/Events/ScotsWrite
Our committee, headed up by our wonderful chairperson, Linda Strachan, got to work. And as a committee member, I was in the thick of it. We soon realised it would be of benefit to have additional SOAiS members join the committee to help with the planning and implementation of the conference. These extra members were a boon and things were soon merrily chugging away although at the beginning things were a bit chaotic for me. That was soon to change when our events organiser, Jenny Kumar, joined our working parties and soon whipped us into shape. I reckon Jenny is Wonderwoman in disguise.
Anyway to cut a long story short. We have our venue arranged, the luxurious Westerwood Hotel, in Cumbernauld, which is central and easily reached from all parts of Scotland. The food is to die for and if there’s time in between listening to all the great speakers we have lined up, there’s always the spa or the golf course.
Our speakers are booked and the line up is stupendous. The speakers include Joanne Harris (Chocolat), Caro Ramsay, Denise Mina, Charlie Higson, Joanna Penn and a host of others too numerous to mention including publishers and agents. Plus, if you want to know about Scrivener we have sessions devoted to that. And there is optional Tai Chi if that’s something you fancy. If you want to see the full programme check it out here http://www.societyofauthors.org/Events/ScotsWrite/Full-Programme and if you want to know more about the speakers check them out here http://www.societyofauthors.org/Events/ScotsWrite/Speakers
It’s going to be an exciting weekend and we have a delegate bag full of fascinating goodies for everyone who comes along. But don’t delay because places are selling fast. And don’t think if you miss it this year you can come along next year because you can’t. This is a one off conference and there will be no repeat next year.
A final word before I finish. As well as special rates for SOA members there are special affiliate rates for the conference if you belong to any of the following organisations such as: ACW; ALLi; Borders' Writers Forum; Federation of Scottish Writers; Historical Novel Society; ITI; NUJ; Playwrights' Studio, Scotland; Royal Literary Fund; SAS; SAW; SCBWI; and WGGB. So, be sure to claim your discounted price.
This conference is something you can’t afford to miss and it is open to everyone, not just SOA members so make sure you book. And make it soon so you don’t miss the event of the year.
I’ll see you there.
Saturday, 8 July 2017
I recently attended a Nielsen Book Publisher Seminar which supplied lots of information about the publishing business and the use of ISBNs. Among a lot of other things, they covered electronic trading, the use of metadata, and digital marketing. All useful information which applies to the crowded business of publishing. Did you know there were 178,000 new titles published last year alone, and that 488 new books are published every day? The mind boggles.
One thing that grabbed my attention at this seminar was the session on Book2Look widgets. I’d vaguely heard about these widgets but hadn’t paid much attention. However, as the presentation developed the potential became obvious although I wasn’t sure whether the outlay for the widgets would have any economic benefit for an author. You can find the web presentation on You Tube. Click here to view. You will also find some other shorter You Tube videos. Click here to see a selection.
Promotion and marketing do not come easily to me. It comes from being Scottish and being taught from an early age that you shouldn’t, in the words of my Gran, ‘blow your own trumpet’. So the fact my books are popular does not come from any great efforts on my part. I dabble a bit with Twitter and Facebook but not to any great extent. But even I could see how attractive these widgets were so I decided to give it a whirl and bought a stack of widgets, enough for all of my books.
They came with enough information to get me started. A video webinar, a Quick Guide, and a more in-depth online manual. I found it relatively easy to create my Biblets (that’s what the widgets are called) and instantaneous email help was provided each time I had a query.
Inside the Biblet, which opens like a book, you can access sample chapters (you choose how many), audio clips, You Tube Videos, a selection of your chosen reviews, plus it automatically inserts information from Goodreads so there is no need to include this yourself. It also includes any shop links you indicate you want included and this is done before you create your Biblet so it automatically links in each time a new Biblet is created.
So, once my Biblets were created I tested the links. All the shop links worked and I was amazed to find I had reviews on Amazon in Germany. Who would have thought? Everything else worked perfectly, the audio, the video and the book sample. I then tested the sharing links and posted to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest from inside the Biblet. Every single share worked and the Widgets opened in their media destinations.
Why don’t you have a go? Open the widget above and have a look around. There is a menu down the left side of the open widget although once you have clicked one thing it will collapse. Just click the icon with the three dots at the foot of the page and it will open again. If you are using a browser on your PC there is also a tab on the right side of the screen that says ‘Did you know?’ If you click that it will pull out the menu bar. Be my guest and have a play around and let me know what you think of it.
Now I’d compiled and published my Biblets I needed to add them to Blogger, and you can see them all down the left sidebar. If you click on them they will open but I was unable to figure out how to get them to open in a new window (a Blogger thing) so once you’ve opened one you’ll have to use the back button to get back here.
I still have to add them to my website. That’s going to be a major task but I think it will be worth it.
I’m really impressed by the Book2Look widgets. Whether they will pay off for me is another matter but I don’t care, I like them and I think they look good. If you want to check them out this is where you will find them https://www.nielsenisbnstore.com/Home/Book2Look
Do let me know what you think.