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Friday, 23 May 2014

Crimefest: Emerging Indie Voices

Emerging Indie Voices Panel Crimefest
I have recently returned from Crimefest in Bristol, and I had a whale of a time. I met old friends, virtual friends, and new friends, and we rocked. But what I wanted to talk about in this blog was the introduction of the first ever indie panel – Emerging Indie Voices.
I have been on several author panels at Crimefest over the years, but up to now they have been mainly composed of authors with traditionally published books. I suppose I was included by default because I’m a hybrid author, that is, I publish both ways. I have my indie books and my traditionally published ones. But I really root for the indie author because there is so much good stuff published by them nowadays. And if you don’t believe me take a look at my new nonfiction book Crime Fiction & the Indie Contribution, where I highlight the best of indie writing from a total of 61 authors.

Anyway, back to the inclusion of indie authors at Crimefest. As I said previously, this was the first year we have had a full panel at Crimefest devoted to indie crime fiction, although last year there was a 20 minute Spotlight session with Joanna Penn which paved the way. This panel was so energetic it was exhausting to listen to them, and their enthusiasm for what they do was apparent. Joann Penn was in the hot seat as moderator of the panel, and it really was hot. She sizzled in her presentation, and I was impressed with her energy levels as she bounced around in her chair and brought out the best in her authors.

A bonus for me was that two of the authors I highlight in Crime Fiction & the Indie Contribution were on that panel, and I was disappointed I hadn’t included the other two because their books sounded so interesting. Oh, and I’d never met any of them before because the indie examples in my book were totally random choices. So, who was on the panel? Well, I’ve already mentioned Joanna Penn, but her panel members were Tim Cooke, Carole Westron, and the two who are in my book were Eva Hudson and Mel Sherratt.

It was a stimulating panel and the authors represented indie writers brilliantly. By comparison the two following panels were positively sedate. In my view the Emerging Indie Voices panel was the highlight of Crimefest.

Chris Longmuir

Saturday, 10 May 2014

A Life of Crime

It was Nathan Fillion, in his role as Richard Castle in the highly entertaining television series Castle, who said, “There are two kinds of people who sit around all day thinking about killing people . . . mystery writers and serial killers.” I rather hope I fit into the first category and not the second.

It was this fascination with crime, both reading and writing, that led me to write my first nonfiction book, and it was launched this weekend. It is called Crime Fiction and the Indie contribution, and here is what it’s all about:

Serial killers, private eyes, cops, and bodies inhabit this guide to crime fiction in the electronic age, where reading habits are undergoing change with the growing use of e-books and e-readers.

The book takes the reader on a fascinating trawl through the many sub-genres of crime fiction, including a history of the genre and how it has developed over the years to include a much darker reading experience. Mystery and detection novels are still popular, but many readers now turn to dark crime stories, and the rise of noir novels has been spectacular.

This guide considers murder and mystery, from the cosy to the noir, and how it has developed over the years, stretching from The Newgate Calendars, through the dime novels and penny dreadfuls, covering the golden age authors typified by Agatha Christie, the hard-boiled era of Hammett and Chandler, and on to the modern crime and thriller novels.

There are sections on e-books and e-readers, the indie author and publisher, and publishing options. There are also sections on many subgenres of crime fiction including mystery, cosy, romantic suspense, historical, paranormal/supernatural, psychological, humour, medical, legal, political, hard-boiled, female sleuths, police procedural, noir/dark, tartan noir, and serial killers.

Over the last few years there has been a noticeable change in the reading habits of many people. This book looks at the development of the e-book – it’s been around longer than you think – and the way many people are choosing to read books on electronic devices. It considers the advantages and disadvanges of both print and electronic books, as well as a history of electronic publishing. It also considers the reasons many authors now choose to become an indie, by publishing independently.

This book looks at the rise of the indie publishing phenomenon which includes the good, the bad and the ugly, and how to choose between them. It considers many types of crime novel with examples drawn from sixty-one indie published books, and how they compare to traditionally published books.

The focus is on e-books and the independent authors, known as indies, who write them, and the aim is to introduce indie crime fiction to discerning e-book readers.

Chris Longmuir is an award winning writer as well as an established short story, and article writer. Her crime novels have won the Pitlochry Award, and the Dundee International Book Prize. She is the author of the popular Dundee Crime Series, and the Kirsty Campbell Novels.

Chris Longmuir

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Monday, 5 May 2014

100 years and counting

Did you know that the numbers of people reaching their centenary have increased by 73% over the decade to 2012? And they are still increasing. In terms of actual numbers, there were 7,740 centenarians living in 2002, but by 2012 there were 13,350.

So, how many of us will reach the grand old age of 100? Well, I have just returned from Bristol where my mother celebrated her 100th birthday.

Born in 1914 just before the start of the First World War, and married just before the start of the Second World War, she has seen many changes during her lifetime. She has lived in an era of greater simplicity which was more labour-intensive, and with fewer modern appliances than there are now – no washing machines, dishwashers, TV, computers and much more. In her earlier years laundry was done in the sink, the clothes were boiled in boilers situated in an outhouse, she used scrubbing boards and wringers, and although domestic refrigerators were invented in 1913, they were an unknown luxury in her day. She was always fascinated by gadgets, but the ones she bought were simpler, like the battery operated fan she used when the weather was hot. She now lives in the electronic age with more labour saving devices and gadgets than were previously available. Her younger self would have been amazed.
Family photograph
The party was a gathering of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren and several five generation photographs were taken, my own family included. Oh, and she danced at her own party.

Enjoying a dance

My hope is that the genes I share with her include the long life ones particularly as she is still reasonably fit and able for her age. She lives independently, cooks, does her own laundry, and gets about the house without the help of walking aids, although she occasionally uses a walking stick. Admittedly she takes a shopping trolley with wheels for support when she goes outside, and her hearing is not quite so sharp, but otherwise she has all her mental faculties.
Five generations of my family
I wonder if I will get a birthday card from the Queen? Here’s hoping.

Chris Longmuir