Thursday, 27 June 2013

Writing and all Such Things

Another change from the usual book review blog to update you on the progress with my books. It's been a busy time recently but I have still managed to find time each day for writing. So what is happening?

Firstly I wasn't shortlisted for the Dundee International Book prize but I am not disheartened. I feel like I am up there with some of the literary greats who were rejected a number of times. These include Agatha Christie with the Mysterious Affair at Styles and John Grisham with A Time to Kill. Despite rejection, they believed in themselves, persevered and the rest, as they say, is history. Bloody but unbowed I will continue. On second thoughts maybe not the best phrase for a crime writer.

I am currently in the process of editing Killers Countdown, the first book in the series. I am working with a professional editor who has proven herself to be excellent. This is both an interesting exercise and hard work. I now know how my poor students felt when I handed them back assignments. Still it is worth it and I am sure the book will be much better having gone through this process.

I am now in the process of writing and researching book two, Killers Craft. I am having a whale time . The characters seem real and I am surrounded by police officers who want to do their own thing. So far I am managing to make them tow the line, but who knows what will happen. It's a good thing when that happens as it takes me, and the story,  in directions I never suspected.

As I write I also find myself investigating all sorts of strange things. With all the google searches on murders and dead bodies I'm expecting a knock on the door any minute. Given all the coverage on electronic monitoring it wouldn't surprise me if many authors are at the top of someone's watch list. It's a good job my local police are aware of what I am up to. I have to say Tayside Police have been extraordinarily helpful and are answering all my questions patiently.

I must be a glutton for punishment as I have signed up to do Camp NaNoWriMo in July. This stands for National Novel Writers Month which happens in November. However, they do a version of this in July where you decide how many words you will write over the month. I have said I will do 50,000 which is the equivalent of the November one. I am looking forward to it but would love you to cheer me on.

So all in all, life is good in this writers life. I am still managing to find time to read, which can of course count as research for me. I've been reading some great books so tune in next time to hear all about them. Until then keep calm and keep reading.

For anyone who missed my previous writers blogs they can be found below

Confessions of a Nervous Novelist
A Writers Life
All Things Writing

Friday, 21 June 2013

Out of Darkness - Christian Poetry and Meditation by Lucy Mills

Regular readers of this blog will know I am not really a person who reads poetry. So why am I reviewing one? I really loved Lucy Mills previous book poetry book, so thought I would try this one. I am really glad I did.

This book is not just poetry it is a hearts cry. There is real emotion in the words and they draw you to a place deep within yourself and closer to God. I particularly liked A Quiet Place which is about the business of our lives and taking time out to spend quietly with God. This really spoke to me as modern life can often be frantic. I would highly recommend this book to all Christians. It is one which you will return to again and again in your times of meditation. Lucy has a real talent to write poetry which brings you nearer to God.

I am now of to my writing group and my next blog will bring you up to date with my writing journey. See you all soon.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Christian Books by Dawn Hood - Marriage and Children's Bible Study

Welcome to bookaholics where today I am reviewing two books by Christian author Dawn Hood. The first one is for married couples and the second is a children's bible study.

The Rose of Marriage is a short book which, despite its size, is packed full of wisdom and advice. It looks at marriage as being like a rose. The different parts of growing roses is likened to the stages required to grow a strong and healthy marriage. It also talks about the place of God in marriage. I am not married, but if I were to get married, this is the sort of book I would want. It is beautifully illustrated and the pictures serve to strengthen the advice given. This would be the perfect gift for people who are getting married, but in particular the bride. I think this is, overall, a beautiful little book.

This is a lovely little bible study book for young children. It helps children to dig a little deeper into God's word, so hence the bucket and spade illustrations aka Bucky and Scoop. I liked these characters but they are not the emphasis of the book. The emphasis is God's word in the bible. Each study has several different sections - Lets explore, Scratch the Surface (the bible verse to be studied), Move the dirt around, Uncover something new, Dig a little deeper, and Pack it in memory verse. These easy stages help children to think more deeply about what they are reading in the bible. I would say that a seven or eight year old would be able to do this study by themselves with a little bit of input from parents. However, it may be better if parents and children do it together as some of the concepts and words may be a little difficult to grasp. I think this is a welcome addition to the field of children's bible studies.

I was given copies of both of these books for review purposes. This has in no way influenced my review which is fair and honest based on my reading of the books.

So, something a little different today on bookaholics, but I did promise you at the very beginning of my blogging journey that my reading tastes are eclectic. See you all again soon with another review from the bookaholic. In the meantime, keep reading

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Out of A Dream By Rosemary Hines - Christian Spiritual Novel

After all the business and marketing books I have been reading recently I decided it was time I read something completely different. And this book is certainly different as it is a superbly written spiritual novel. 

The plot is the story of Michelle, a young married woman living in a picture postcard town in America. However, all is not well in her world. She is having a series of disturbing dreams and she is in a frantic search to find out what they mean. In her spiritual quest she turns to new age thinking and tarot to help her solve the mystery and free her from the horror of her dreams. However, God has his hand on Michelle and will not let go.

This is essentially a book of good versus evil, as old as time itself. However, Rosemary Hines has created a real page turner. The characters are superbly crafted and painfully real. Michelle, the central character is shown with all her inner thoughts and struggles. This makes her all the more interesting. Hines shows a real insight into the human psyche.  This is not a long book but Hines has used every word in it carefully to ensure that every page is packed with interest and intrigue. I loved this book. It is the first in a series and I am looking forward to reading the next one already.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who likes a well plotted, well written, Christian novel. You will not be disappointed.

I was given a copy of this book by the author for review purposes. However, I was not a at any time asked to provide a positive review. I have done so based on my reading, and enjoyment, of this book.

I will be back soon with a review of another great book. Watch this space to find out what the next one out of the bag will be. I look forward to spending more time with you then.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

21st Century Tactics: Small Business Marketing by Glyn Williams

Now before you think I have turned into a Glyn Williams groupie and only seem to be reviewing his books this is not the case. This book was free today and I download and read it. What an excellent book it turned out to be. Therefore I wanted to share it with my readers so you did not miss out.

This book is specifically about marketing for small businesses and as a writer I would consider myself to be running a small business. The hints and tips in this book are excellent and they certainly gave me food for thought. This is not a long book but as in Glyn's Previous book The 7 Deadly Sins of Advertising and How to Avoid them every page is worth it's weight in gold. It takes you through all the stages of marketing from planning to making a sale, but also discusses after sales and upselling.

If you want to improve how you market your products to customers then this book is well worth downloading.

I will be back in a couple of days where I will be reviewing an excellent novel. So watch this space and  until then keep reading.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The 7 Deadly Sins of Advertising and How to Avoid Them: Small business marketing by Glyn Williams

This book is free today so downloaded and, as it was short, thought I would read it straight away. I am certainly glad I did. 

As I say, this is not a long book but I can assure you every page packs a punch. It starts by outlining the mistakes people make when advertising. However part two tells you how to avoid these mistakes and how to make your advertising both effective and compelling. The advice about tag lines and branding is spot on. There are exercises which will help you to work out both your tag line and your brand. These are simple but highly effective. I was using this book with my writers's hat on and I certainly found it useful. If I were to use a tag line for this book I would be saying, short, sharp and to the point or cuts to the heart of the matter. I would definitely recommend.

I will leave you here as I am off to develop my brand and tagline for my books. I'm loving my life as a writer and reading books like this makes me more excited to get my books out to you the readers. See you all soon.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Interview with Chris Longmuir - Crime Writer

This is an exciting week in Bookaholics as I am honoured to be interviewing Dundee International Book Prize winning author Chris Longmuir. I am starting with a review of her novel Dead Wood to give you a flavour of what you have in store today. 

As I myself am from Dundee I and love crime novels I was really looking forward to reading this book. I was not disappointed. The plot moves along at a cracking pace and the highs and lows, and twists and turns leave you breathless. The characterisation is superb. These are real people with real lives and most of them are deliberately loathsome. You are left in no doubt as to their foibles and fears. The psychological tension is almost palpable throughout. With regards to Dundee, Chris Longmuir has it spot on and I found myself nodding in agreement with her descriptions. I love Kara as a character. She has many faults but at heart is the type of person who would fight to survive. She wants to do the right thing. If you like dark, gritty, tartan noir then you would do well to read this book. I would highly recommend it.

Welcome Chris, and thank you for joining us on Bookaholics today.

Q - Firstly I am sure the readers would love to hear about you. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

A - There’s nothing special about me, it just so happens I like to write. When I was little I used to imagine writing a book, I had a great imagination, but I thought that was something that was beyond me. I’d never met a writer, so never thought in a million years I could be one. Apart from that, I’m a Mum and a Granny, and I live a very quiet life. I don’t smoke, drink or swear, although you’d never guess that after reading one of my books. My characters do enough of that, so I don’t need to. I don’t have much of a social life unless it’s connected to reading or writing, and I’m never happier than when I have my head in a book, or I’m closeted away in my study writing, so you might find me a little dull.

Q - As Dundee is so important to the story could you tell the readers something about Dundee?

A - Dundee is one of the larger cities in Scotland, after Edinburgh and Glasgow, and maybe Aberdeen. However, Dundee has often been compared to a village, because it has a small town or village mentality. It has its fair share of problems, including a criminal fraternity, and a lot of drug users. In fact, when HIV and AIDS hit Scotland, one of the first places it was detected, was Dundee. In my fiction I’m interested in the dark side, and I came across lots of that as a social worker in the city. But, Dundee also has a cultural side, it’s not all doom and gloom. It has a university, a repertory theatre and an arts centre, among other things. The SS Discovery, Scott’s antarctic exploration ship is berthed there, as well as HMS Unicorn, one of the oldest frigates still in existence. There’s lots more. But I mustn’t forget it’s also the home of the Dundee International Book Prize, particularly as I was lucky enough to win it in 2009.

Q - Where do you get the inspiration for your fiction?

A - From the dark place that is my mind. As I’ve already said I’ve always had a vivid imagination, plus a lifetime of reading crime and horror books as well as lots of other genres, so I suppose some of that must impinge on an unconscious level. But I’m afraid my books originate in my imagination. Of course, I do loads of research, and sometimes that can spark off ideas as well.

Q - Which is your favourite character in any of your books and why?

A - I suppose Kara, in ‘Dead Wood’, has to be a top runner, mainly because this was my breakthrough book, and the one that was chosen winner of the Dundee International Book Prize in 2009. Plus she’s a fighter. She has her faults and she doesn’t always do things right, but I like her. Having said that, each time I write a book I get close to my characters, and I think that’s unavoidable. However, I have a confession to make here – I rather like my gangster, Tony, in ‘Dead Wood’. I have a soft spot for him, although he does some horrible things.

Q - When you are not writing what types of books do you read? What would you say was the best book you have ever read?

A - I read quite widely, but I do have a preference for dark crime. Jeffrey Deaver, and Val McDermid, are among my favourites. However, I do like Ken Follett’s books. I loved ‘Fall of Giants’, and the second one in the series, ‘Winter of the World’, I can’t wait for the third one to be published. I have no great liking for the classics, the writing styles are too slow, and often send me to sleep. I prefer a modern pacy novel, with lots of suspense.

Q - I have reviewed Dead Wood on the blog so readers will get a flavour of this book. Could you tell us some more about your other books?

A - ‘Dead Wood’ was my breakthrough book, which meant it was the first one published, however it is book two in the Dundee Crime series. Book one is ‘Night Watcher’, a story about two very different kinds of stalker, and it has been very popular. Not quite so raw and gritty as Dead Wood, but every bit as dark. The third book in the series is due to be launched on 11th July, and is called ‘Missing Believed Dead. Again this is a dark one with the usual psychological elements included in the story. However, I also have a historical saga, ‘A Salt Splashed Cradle’, which is based on the fisher folk of the north-east of Scotland. It’s set in the 1830s and follows the story of Belle, an incomer to the fishing community. This was actually the first novel I ever wrote and I have a soft spot for it.

Q - Now we are getting personal. What is your favourite food?

A - I don’t know if I have a particular favourite, although I am partial to sweet and sour chicken (the carry out variety). Home cooked, I’d go for roast beef and yorkshire pudding, or a good old-fashioned steak pie.

Q - If you ever have a day off from writing exciting books what do you like to do in your spare time?

A - Spare time? What’s that? However, I do like to spend time with my 11 year old granddaughter, Amy. I also like to attend writing conferences and events – but that’s writing oriented as well!

Thank you Chris. It has been a real pleasure to meet you and to get to know more about you. I for one am certainly looking forward to reading more of your books and I am sure many bookaholic readers will feel the same. I will finish by providing some links to your website and your books