Saturday, 31 December 2016

An Exciting New Year Beckons

As I write this we stand on the cusp of a new year. As you read it the New Year will already have begun, in Scotland anyway. New Year is always a time for hope, looking to the future and wondering what the year will bring. 

As a writer the past year has been an absolute blast. I have been to several conferences, met some lovely people and brought out four new books. These were Killer's Cut and Killer's Crew in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, The Dagger's Curse in the Fergus and Flora Mysteries and one non fiction book. The non fiction book is called Power Packed Book Marketing and was written to accompany a talk and workshop I was doing. 

Over the year I have been a speaker at several conferences and run workshops at several more. Book week Scotland was crazy busy with 11 events in 8 days. The highlight had to be being on a panel at Bouchercon in New Orleans. This was special in many ways. It was my first time speaking at an International Festival as a writer, also my first time in New Orleans. I also met a number of delightful people who I now call friends. 

Killer's Countdown, the first book in my DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries won a Chill With a Book Award. This was my first writing award and I felt quite emotional. If you haven't yet read this series then now is the time to start. To celebrate the award Killer's Countdown is only £1.99. You can get it from any Amazon

As I say 2016 was memorable. It was fun and full of adventure and excitement. It was also full of wonder. Wonder that this was happening and gratefulness that it was. 

I am excited about what 2017 will bring. I have already been asked to speak at several conferences including the Scottish Association of Writers Conference and the Dublin Writers Conference. I will also be attending a number of other conferences including Killer Nashville and Bouchercon in Toronto. The Crime Writers Conference is happening over my birthday so I am looking forward to that. I have been asked to run a full day of writing workshops for The Prince's Trust

I have a number of projects and books ongoing. The Haunted Broch, the next book in the Fergus and Flora Mysteries will be with the publisher any day now. The next Shona McKenzie book will also be out in May or June. I believe that 2017 will be just as exciting, if not more so, than 2017.

Many people are choosing their word for the year. I have decided my word will be opportunity. I know that there are a number of opportunities which could come along. I plan on embracing them and making the most of them. Where they will take me I can not tell. I do know that I will continue to follow my dream. To enjoy every single minute of the journey and let it take me where it will.

As 2017 approaches I urge you to follow your dream. Take the first step, then another and another. You will soon be well into your journey and on your way to reaching your goal. If that dream is to write a book then pick up a pen, or pull forward a keyboard and write the first word. Share what your dream is in the comments below. Your first step could be telling the world. It will make it somehow more real.

However, the year has not just been about writing. It has also been about reading. My first read of the New Year will be The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith. Expect a review on here very soon. What book are you starting the new year with. Let me know in the comments so I can get some recommendations.

Whatever you may be doing I trust you will have a blessed and happy year. Thank you for sharing the last year with me and I look forward to sharing the next year with you as well. 


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Celebrating the Year Just Gone

As we start the year as writers we tend to look to the future. What will the year bring? What will be writing? What projects have we got planned? We often forget to look at what we have achieved so that is what I am urging you to do today. We are always growing and developing, both as a people and as writers. If we look at what we have done this can help us to move forward.

As writers we can often be despondent about our work and our achievements. We feel like we don't measure up or are not as good as others. We should be celebrating our successes whatever they may be. Take NaNoWriMo as an example. There are a number of writers celebrating because they reached the finish line. However, some will not have reached that Goal. Celebrate what you have done. Be it 10, 20, 30 or 40 thousand or even a thousand words, that is more words than you would have written if you had not been doing NaNoWriMo. You are that many words closer to completing your book.

As I look back over the past year I was genuinely astonished that I have completed 4 books and had short stories in 3 anthologies. This started with Power Packed Book Marketing in March, Killer's Cut in April, The Dagger's Curse in September and Killer's Crew in November. What a year and definitely worth celebrating. It has been non stop with conferences attended, speaking at conferences, speaking engagements, book signings and meeting readers. I signed a publishing contract for a series of young adult books and have an idea for another series. In short it has been a fabulous year, full of fun, laughter and writing.

Although the year has not ended yet I think one of the best ways to end Book Week Scotland was when Killer's Countdown was given an award. That, and the fact readers are enjoying my books make me a very happy writer indeed.

When taking stock of the year just gone it helps us to make decisions about the year ahead. Knowing what I am capable of has made me realise what I am capable of if I try. It has given me encouragement to achieve even more in the coming days and months and on into the future. If you are a writer I would encourage you to do a similar exercise. You might be amazed at what you have achieved without even knowing it.

Goodbye for now my Bookaholic friends. If you would like to buy signed copies of any of my books as Christmas presents then you can do so from my website. I'll get them out first class the day I receive the order. They make great stocking fillers as well.

You can also buy them from Amazon on the links on the right, Kobo, Nook and CLC Bookshops

See you soon my Bookaholic friends. Until then keep reading, and writing. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Observation for Writers - Travel part 2

In the past few weeks I've travelled a long way, and to many different places, for both business and pleasure. This has been a lot of fun, but has also been monotonous and quite stressful at times. Today I am on my way home. My trip this morning started on a bus. Standing on a bus, with a suitcase, another bag and my rucksack. As this was at 7.30am it was rush hour. Now given the time of day the bus itself was not busy. However, what should have been a ten minute journey took 35 minutes due to the sheer volume of traffic. I read a few days ago that traffic in London is so dense that modern vehicles move more slowly than a horse and cart. I can well believe it.

The next part of my journey involved the tube from North Greenwich to Baker Street and then the Metropolitan Line to Kings Cross. Sorted. Well you'd think so, but no. They had shut the circle and district line which meant that the Metropolitan Line would be heaving. I duly got out at London Bridge and took a taxi for the rest of the journey. The taxi driver was lovely, but the traffic was crucifying. I was rapidly wishing the horse and carts were back on the streets.

So why am I telling you this, and what does it have to do with London? Firstly, this gave me a lot of time to observe my surroundings. it also gave me a lot of time to observe people. I also had an epiphany. Often, in my genre of Crime, there may be a high speed chase or two in the books. In most cities, depending on the time of day, this would be impossible. A brisk walk would be more appropriate, and much faster. Also, if someone is being tailed then a tube station in the rush hour would be impossible. Oxford Circus at rush hour, forget it.

I appreciate I am concentrating on London here but I am sure many other large cities are the same. During the rush hour, The Kingsway, a dual carriageway that goes through Dundee, is a car park. No one is escaping. Buses are packed and move at a crawl.

In conclusion, traffic conditions are something we writers should be thinking about when writing scenes in our books. I hope this has helped you think in a different way.

You can get your free ebook, DI Shona McKenzie's Guide to Killing Your Boss, from my website

If you would like some help to boost your book sales, Power Packed Book Marketing is available via the link on the right side of the page.

All other books in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries are available via the links on the right side of the page

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Observations for Effective Writing

Today in the Authors Electric blog I am talking about how travelling can enrich you writing. I would like to take this a bit further in this blog. For the writers my hope is that it will help you. For the readers I hope you enjoy the insight into how writers find their inspiration. 

As I say, this blog gas arisen from a blog about travelling and writing. It is said that when travelling solo you are more likely to notice things and I have found this to be spot on. I have seen so many fascinating things and people on my travels. Children in particular, are an endless source of delight and fascination. 

Lets unpack what we see in the images above. Well the image of the little girls anyway. What can a writer get from this. Firstly, the girls look happy. I think they look mischievous. It immediately gets me thinking about what they have done. Or could it be they have never seen a camera before and are enjoying their moment of fame. Are they shy? Has the photographer got them laughing? The girl on the right looks more confident than the one on the left. Why is that? Are their backgrounds so different? Why is the girl on the left wearing a scarf? Is she Muslim? Is she cold? Are the girls friends? Are they sisters? All these questions come to mind and can be used in writing.

The picture does not only bring questions to mind. There are also a number of things that can be observed and used in books. The tilt of the girls head as she laughs. The way her hand is rising to cover her mouth. Her hair falling over one eye. The short hair of he girl on the right. Is it a girl or is it a feminine boy? The way their eyes crinkle and shine. The whiteness of their teeth. The way the girl in the scarf is leaning forward slightly. The confident stance of the other child. There is so much that a writer can get from one small snapshot.

The important part of this is that it can help a writer 

I have a challenge and en exercise for you. What else can you get from the picture on the left? Please let me know in the comments below. That is the challenge.

The exercise is for you too do a similar deconstruction of the photo on the right. Please comment on whether you found the exercise useful.

Finally remember to pay close attention to everything and everyone you see. You never know when this might come in useful.

If you like crime thrillers then take a look at the best selling DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. The fifth book in the series, Killer's Crew will be released on 10th November. 

If you would like a free DI Shona Mckenzie Book take a few seconds and pop over to my website

About the Author

Wendy H. Jones is the author of the Best Selling DI Shona Mckenzie Mysteries. The Dagger's Curse is the first book in her Young Adult Series, The Fergus and Flora Mysteries. She has also written one non fiction book - Power Packed Book Marketing: Sell More Books. You can find out more on her amazon author page 

Monday, 10 October 2016

Branding Your Book Covers

There is a lot of advice out there when it comes to author branding. Most exhort authors to ensure they have a brand that is recognisably them. Branding includes a number of areas such as author name, genre, book titles, and also, crucially, covers.

The cover above is for my forthcoming release, Killer's Crew. This is the fifth book in the DI Shona Mckenzie Mysteries. All my books have a similar layout. The bottom part of the cover is an image from Dundee where the books are set. The top half is an image which portrays something which happens in the book. The titles all have Killer's in them and there is always blood dripping from the writing.

The books are instantly recognisable as crime books. They have the Wendy H. Jones factor. Readers instantly know this is one of my books.  Anyone in the know would recognise them as having something to do with Dundee. The name of the detective Shona McKenzie certainly sets them out as having something to do with Scotland. 

Each book is a different colour so they stand out from each other. However, together they are branded as being part of the same series. They certainly stand out on the shelf. The covers for Killer's Countdown, Killer's Craft, Killer's Cross and Killer's Cut are below.


I am sure you will agree the cover designer has got the branding spot on. Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics  is an outstanding designer who takes great care to ensure that the covers meet the needs of her clients. In this series she has excelled herself. 

One thing I will say about the covers. There is an argument that you should not put the book numbers on the cover as human nature means people think they should be read in order. However, readers like to know the number of the book in the series so I went with the readers views in this case. They are stand alone books and can be read in any order. 

It is worth taking time to ensure that your branding reflects both your books and who you are. Well maybe not who I am unless I am a despotic serial killer. But you get my drift.

I have one more cover to present to you. This is for my free book DI Shona Mckenzie's Guide to Killing Your Boss. This is available form my website Shona is feisty, funny, sharp and dedicated. She also has the boss from hell. For the first time she shares her secrets of how you can bump him off. This book also doubles as ideas for deaths in your crime book so a double whammy. 

If you would like to find out more about the books you can do so on my website or on my Amazon author page 



Saturday, 8 October 2016

How Travelling Can Enrich Your Writing

I've been flying around the world recently as well as chasing around the UK. Life as a writer is so busy and often I think that I don't have time for any of this. It's getting in the way of me actually doing any writing. But on a number of occasions I have discovered that travelling can also broaden and enrich my abilities as a writer.

This morning I was on my way to The British Library. To get from where I was staying I had to change from the rail network to the London Underground. As Tower Bridge Station is undergoing renovation there is a long walk to get to the underground station. At a number of places along the route there are staff members guiding travellers in the right direction. Now this seems, to me, to be quintessentially British. It's like the tube are saying we have inconvenienced you but not that much because we are helping your commute to go well.

One of these staff members took it one step further. In fact I think they took it a whole heap further. He was saying, "It's Friday. leave work 15 minutes early. Relax, start your weekend well, go for a drink and take it easy."

Now how cool is that? It was sad that most of the commuters were paying him no notice. They were doing what they always do and putting one foot in front of the other. Content only on getting to work they were unaware of what was happening around them. As I had no clue what I was doing I was taking everything in. I was able to notice the kindness of one stranger who was doing his best to make life more pleasant for commuters in the Capital.

How much do I often miss by not taking in my surroundings. As a writer I should be inquisitive and looking around. Looking for nuggets which could shape scenes, settings or characters. This has taught me a valuable lesson and I will certainly be paying more attention in the future.

My exhortation to you today is to do the same. Look around you, take stock and really take life in. Don't let it pass you by.

Wendy H. Jones is the author of the best selling DI Shona McKenzie Mystery series of crime novels set in Dundee. The Dagger's Curse, the first book in her Fergus and Flora, Young Adult Mystery series was released on 10th September, 2016. She also has one non fiction book, Power Packed Book Marketing: Sell More Books. You can find out more on her:


Amazon Author Page

Friday, 7 October 2016

Inspiration and Writing Environment

As writers we often spend time alone in our offices or at our desks. Perhaps for short periods, perhaps for several hours. We are introspective and live a lot of our lives inside our heads. Now I don't know about every other writer on the planet, but sometimes I feel the need to shake it up a bit. This is a good thing as I have barely been in my house since the beginning of September, let alone in my office. However, I have still been writing.

In the last few weeks I have written at airports, on planes, sitting beside the Mississippi River, in cafe's and restaurants in New Orleans, in hotel rooms, in an apartment in Butlins and on trains. It's a good job I'm an any time, any place, anywhere type of writer. If I wasn't my writing would have come to a full stop.

One thing about being in all these different places is that it gives me plenty of inspiration. I see people and hear things which can spark off all sorts of train of thought. This can lead to something quirky appearing in a book. Now before you think I'm writing people and conversations directly into my book, that is not the case. It just sets my imagination spinning. 

Today, however, I am writing in a place which gives me much more inspiration than the average. I am in The British Library. The photo at the top of the blog is my view as I write. Being surrounded by such old books gives me a sense of place. A sense of purpose. A sense of history. I am following in the footsteps of so many authors who went before me. To be in a place entirely devoted to books is writer's heaven. All around me people are writing, reading, researching and anything devoted to books. 

As an aside I deposited my book here for legal deposit. It should have been here months ago but obviously went missing in the post. To bring it in person seemed surreal. Knowing that my books are in this vast place alongside millions of others is something I can't quite take in. To know that someone can borrow my book from here is also something I cannot take in. Will they ever do so? That is something I will possibly never know but knowing they can is enough. I love being a writer and I consider it a privilege to be writing in The British Library. 

If you have not yet met DI Shona McKenzie or downloaded DI Shona Mckenzie's Guide to Killing Your Boss, then you can do so on my website 

About Wendy

Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer's Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series, followed by Killer's Craft, Killer's Cross and Killer's Cut. Her debut Young Adult Novel, The Dagger's Curse, was published on 10th September 2016.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Storyteller - World Poetry day

Today is World Poetry Day. Due to a fortuitous set of circumstances I found myself in St Pancras Station, London, at nine in the morning looking for a cup of coffee. Of course Hatchards Bookshop hollered out to me. Books and coffee in the same special place. What's not to love. I got chatting to Georgia Attlesey the Programme Manager for Poet in the City. She has an amazing set of events lined up for today. 

The first just happened to be a Poetry Storyteller event. I was introduced to the delightful Alia, from Syria, who is a professional storyteller. What an outstanding job. She asked me to give her something that I might be blocked or stuck with and then told me a story which would help with this. I told her I was a bit stuck with my current WIP. She then told and amazing story about an intellectual who wanted to become a gardner. Her tale held a nugget of wisdom or advice which would help with my problem and it did. What a talent.  If anyone comes across such storytellers today then please speak to them and get your own story. What an experience. 

She also told me that there are still professional storytellers in Syria who sit in cafe's and tell stories just like she did with me. I would seriously love to sit in a cafe and listen to such storytellers, drinking coffee and forgetting the cares of the world.

As a writer I feel I am a part of this long history of storytelling which comes from an oral tradition. It was an honour to meet Alia and to be a part of her tradition and world, if only for a brief moment. Taking time out like this has made me relax and enjoy something different. Something new and exciting.  

I was also given some limited edition cards with brief snatches of poetry. I took these away and have been looking at them off and on since. Each time I look I get something new from them. Isn't this what poetry and storytelling is all about? We each take something different from it depending on our circumstances and who we are. This is why it brings joy to so many people. 

As I finish I leave you with this - if you come across one of these events, stop and take time out of your busy life. Savour the moment and be part of something bigger. Take time to reconnect with who you are. If you are reading this blog long after World Poetry Day then find a poem, sit down with a coffee and read it, and enjoy. 

Sunday, 2 October 2016

How to Launch your Book with a Bang - and a Curse

My first young Adult book, The Dagger's Curse was launched at Waterstones Bookshop, Dundee on 10th September. Now, as I have four adult books out I was used to launches but I wanted this one to be different and ties in with the theme of the book. So how do you make a launch go with a bang.

I wanted the launch to tie in with the storyline of the book which is:

An ancient Egyptian dagger.
A hungry curse.
A city under siege.

In the dead of night the ancient dagger is stolen from the museum in Dundee. As mysterious accidents, illness and even death stalk the city, the Detective Duo, Fergus Bernstein and Flora MacDonald, follow clues that lead them into ever increasing danger. Can they find the dagger and break the curse before it’s too late?

Firstly build up the suspense, both before and during the launch. Before the day I let everyone know that there would be several surprises and that this was a launch not to be missed. The launch was on a Saturday afternoon and the place was packed. So the first thing you need to do to make your launch go with a bang is make sure there is an audience who are expectant of great things happening.

As the first part of the book takes part in Ancient Egypt I appeared in Egyptian garb. It's a good job I don't take myself too seriously as I was fighting a losing battle with my headdress which was slowly slipping off. It wasn't on too long anyway as I did a quick striptease and was in shorts and a t-shirt underneath. This tied in with one of the main characters of the book, Flora MacDonald who wears brightly coloured clothing. Second piece of advice when it comes to launching a book. Don't take yourself too seriously. 

As part of the talk I had a friend with me. Stuart Archibald runs a theatrical armoury and just happened to have the cursed dagger in his armoury. This was a fully sharpened live dagger, so police permission was required for it to be in the bookshop. I started my talk by building up the suspense about the cursed dagger being in the store. When I reached the part of the book about the curse being released he opened the steel case and the light shone out as the curse was released. Cue gasps and delighted chatter from the audience. Everyone, children and adults alike, wanted their photograph taken with the cursed dagger. Third tip for a successful book launch use as much drama and theatrical shenanigans as you can. The audience love it. 

My last tip for a successful launch is be ready to sign plenty of books. Waterstones had given me my own display with plenty of books and a book signing table. As always the staff were helpful and accommodating and I owe a great deal of thanks to them for putting up with cursed daggers in the store. 

I will finish by saying, whatever genre you write in, think of ways in which you can make your launch different. Then go for it, make it as much fun as possible and enjoy yourself. 

You can buy the books from Waterstones bookshops in the UK
You an buy signed copies of the book on my website 
Available on Amazon 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Written Off by Paul Carol

Good morning bookaholics. It's a grey day here in Bonnie Dundee. Perfect for reading books in fact. So I bring you one which is a departure from my usual diet of crime. I am sure you will love it as much as I do.,

Overall I liked this book. It was witty, well written and the storyline drew me in. The story is set around a backdrop of a literary conference. This allows for a veritable host of awkward situations and angst ridden emotions. The author has used them to good effect. Occasionally it can be a little wordy, but I actually feel this is more to do with the subject matter which lends itself to a loquacious turn of phrase. The characters are extremely well drawn and I could picture them perfectly. Each had their own eccentricities and whether I loved them or hated them, they were certainly real. The story is good which kept me reading. So why di I give the book four, rather than five, stars. There were a couple of areas I thought were slightly weaker than the rest. In all fairness this could just have been me and you, my fellow bookaholics, may feel differently.

Otherwise an excellent book which I would highly recommend.

Now, if you will forgive me, I've a book to write. Whatever you are doing today grab some time for reading. See you all back here soon.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Guest Post: Pauline Barclay author of The Wendy House

Hello Wendy, thank you so much for your invitation to appear on your fabulous Blog to talk about my latest baby, The Wendy House.

You asked what inspired me to write my latest book. Like all my other books the root of an idea for a story often comes from talking to other people. The concept for The Wendy House came after meeting with a lady some years ago. Whilst my other books are emotional with tear jerking moments, The Wendy House is a dark story and provokes a plethora of emotions.

A few years ago I met a lady who told me about what had happened to her during her childhood and how those events changed her life forever.  She asked me to consider writing a story about what she had had to suffer and endure, but wanted my story and all the characters to be fiction. She had her reasons for this and I respected them. It was heart breaking to listen as she recounted those years and what she told me will live with me forever.  The Wendy House was not the easiest of stories to write, and I did wonder at times if I should not only not finish it, but not publish it, but I was encouraged to do both. Sometimes, maybe, we have to step out of our comfort zone and write about something that shocks and upsets in the hope it can, in some small way, change things.

Blurb for The Wendy House

When Nicola changes overnight from a bright, happy young child into a sullen, rebellious girl, ceasing to show interest in anything or anyone around her, her parents struggle to understand why. As she develops into a difficult, troubled, hostile teenager they put it down to hormones, believing it will pass. Yet Nicola goes from bad to worse and no matter how much her mother tries to reach out to her, it seems she is hell bent on self-destruction. When she leaves home at seventeen, rushing into the arms of a man ten years her senior and quickly becoming pregnant, her despairing mother almost gives up on her. A decade later, the events that stole Nicola’s childhood and changed the course of her life threaten finally to destroy her. She knows if she is to cling on to her sanity she must tell her mother the dreadful secret she has carried all these years, but her fear that she will be met with disbelief, hostility and branded an evil liar drives her to the edge.

A heart-rending story of betrayal, secrets and gripping fear.

Publication Date: Saturday 3rd September
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Family-Noir

The Wendy House is available in Kindle on all Amazon sites including

And will be available in paperback very soon.

A little about Pauline

I am from Yorkshire, but have lived in several different locations including, Suffolk, Surrey and Holland. Today, I live on one of the beautiful volcanic islands of the Canary Isles with my husband and our two gorgeous rescue doggies.

Years ago I gained a BA (Hons) degree from the Open University, today I spend my time writing fiction. I have six books published, plus a 20 minute short festive story.

My passion is to write about events that happen in life and change everything for those involved as well as those caught up in the maelstrom. I want my characters to sit at your side, steal your attention and sweep you up in their story. Stories that will bring tears to your eyes, have you laughing out loud and sometimes, what they share with you, will stay in your hearts for a very long time.

Twitter: @paulinembarclay
Instagram: @paulinebarclay

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Devil's Porridge - A deadly mix

Good morning my Bookaholic Friends. Today I bring you a cracking historical crime book for your reading pleasure. 

I love Chris Longmuir's books and had been waiting for this one to be released for some time. Chris is an outstanding writer and this one is up to the usual high standards I expect of her. It is mainly set in the Gretna Munitions factory during the First World War and the historical setting is superb. I could almost feel like I was there and could picture the scene perfectly. The book has obviously been meticulously researched and the attention to detail is outstanding. The story moves along quickly, pulls you in and keeps you reading. The characters are well drawn with unique quirks and foibles. This makes them believable and I found myself rooting for them. Even the baddies had their endearing qualities. The one thing I will say is that there are a lot of characters. Initially I had difficulty keeping them straight in my head. However, Longmuir is a skilled writer and pulled everything together beautifully. Although the book is the second in the Kirsty Campbell series it is set before the first book, therefore you get an even better sense of Kirsty Campbell. I love this character and the fact she is based on Dundee's first policewoman endears her to me even further. I look forward to reading more about her in the future. I would highly recommend. this book for all lovers of historical crime fiction.

I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher for a fair review. This book is based on my reading of, and enjoyment of, the book. At no time was I asked to provide a positive review.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Dare You Face The Dagger's Curse?

Good afternoon Bookaholics, both readers and writers. I hope you are well and enjoying the summer. 

It's been a busy time recently for this author. I've been doing final edits of my latest book, The Dagger's Curse ready for its launch on 10th September. This is the first in a new Young Adult Mystery series called, The Fergus and Flora Mysteries. Fergus and Flora are typical Scottish teens until they find themselves smack bang in the middle of a mystery, following the theft of a cursed dagger. Cue adventure,  clues, non stop action, and a curse which holds Dundee in its grip. This is meant for young Adults and can be read by teens, older teens and adults alike. I hope you will fall in love with Fergus and Flora as much as I have.

My question to you today is - are you brave enough to face The Dagger's Curse? 

For DI Shona McKenzie Fans do not panic. The fifth book is well on its way and will be ready for release in November. I'm not ready to reveal too much about the plot as yet but I can tell you it is called Killer's Crew. I can promise you it will be another high profile and action packed case for Dundee's most famous Detective and her team. 

At the moment I am gearing up for Bouchercon 2016 in New orleans. I will be speaking on a panel talking about Police and Crooks. Now that should be fun. DI Shona McKenzie and her team will be coming along with me. The books will be for sale at the convention, but will New orleans feature in a future book. That's for Shona to know and me  to find out. It might involve some skilful interrogation on my part as Shona does not give up information easily. Whatever the outcome I am looking forward to the trip. There will be a strong Scottish contingent with several other Scottish authors also making the journey. Watch out New Orleans, the Scots are coming. 

If you would like a free ebook, DI Shona McKenzie's Guide to Killing your Boss then go to my website

On that note it is time for me to get back to the writing. I'll see you all back here soon. Until then keep reading and writing. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

Research at the Surgeons' Hall Museum

I am a member of the Society of Authors, and thus the Society of Authors in Scotland. This excellent organisation arranges a veritable plethora of different visits for authors. The latest one was particularly good for crime writers, so as you can imagine I signed up in a heartbeat. This was to the Surgeons' Hall Museum in Edinburgh. What a superb visit this turned out to be. Also chock full of information that might just, one day, end up in a book,

The Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh started as a medieval guild, The guild of Barber Surgeons, in 1505. Only members could practice as surgeons.   This makes it one of the oldest medical colleges in the UK. The barbers pole is actually from the surgeon - red for blood and white bandages. Now I knew barbers poles were a remnant of their time when they were also surgeons but didn't know about the colours. It is housed in beautiful building in the Old Part of Edinburgh.

The museum contains a mock lecture theatre which displays a recreation of the first dissection in both Edinburgh and Scotland. There was a video with a surgeon talking as though he were in the hall giving an anatomy lesson to students. In the centre was a body on a dissection table. This lit up as the various organs were discussed. Brilliantly done. This was the way in which trainee surgeons originally learned about human anatomy. Dissection could also be given as a punishment.  The Judge could say they could be hanged and dissected. The hangman separated the guilty party's  body from his soul. His body was then handed over to the Royal College of Surgeons.

Despite this there were not enough bodies to meet demand. Cue Burke and Hare of the body snatchers fame. These guys originally handed a body over where the person had died of natural causes. They received some money in exchange for the body and thought it would be a good way to earn a living. So, they murdered sixteen people and sold the bodies to Robert Knox. When they were caught Hare turned evidence and Burke took the fall for the whole thing.  He was punished to death and dissection. The dissection was done privately but this led to a public outcry. Therefore, his body was put on public display. Thousands of people came from all over the country to see him.  Nothing like a bit of notoriety I think.

Pocketbook made from the skin of William Burke
©Surgeons’ Hall Museums at The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Now this is where the story gets even more interesting. They made notebooks out of Burke's skin and the museum has one of these on display. You are not allowed to take photographs in the museum but they very kindly sent me a photo of the book and allowed me to use it in this blog. I would like to thank them for doing so. This is the photo above. What a way to end up. At least he came in useful I suppose.

Museum has been opened to the public since it opened in 1832. It continues to do an amazing job today. It is one of the most interesting museums I have ever visited and I learned so much. For example Joseph Bell was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. He was only 16 when he started to study medicine and used logic and fact to work out what might be wrong with his patients. Now, as a crime writer, that is fascinating. 

I would highly recommend a visit to the museum for anyone visiting Edinburgh. If you want to know more visit the museums website The staff are helpful and extremely knowledgable about all the exhibits in the museum. They are happy to chat and answer any questions. 

So my Bookaholics a different but interesting post today. Now you know what Crime Writers get up to in the name of research. I keep saying being a crime writer is a blast and I am sure you will agree that is true. See you all back here soon. Until then keep reading and writing. Remember to live life to the full and enjoy whatever you are doing. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Book Review: An Unknown Woman by Jane Davis

Good afternoon Bookaholics. I am ill today so have been doing some reading. An Unknown Woman has been on my TBR file for some time. This is not the sort of novel I usually read, but I am glad I picked it up and decided to give it a go.

I enjoyed this novel so much it is difficult for me to know where to start reviewing it. The book starts with a house burning down, and is about the occupants lives after the fire. This is mainly seen through the eyes of Anita, the main character. The reader is taken through all the gamut of emotion as Anita comes to terms with what has happened. In the process she discovers that much of her life was not as it seemed. Anita is a real character and beautifully drawn. I could almost feel her pain at times. The remainder of the characters are also well written and each has his or her own voice.

Davis is an exceptional writer with a unique voice and this comes through in every word. One can see why she has won awards for her work. A book which is both engrossing and enjoyable and I would highly recommend it.

So once again a reminder that I need to expand the range of the books I read. It may take me out of my comfort zone but it helps me to explore the world of reading and writing with new eyes. Why don't you downoad this book and open a whole new world of reading. I think you will be glad you did.

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

See you all back here soon my Bookaholic friends. Until then, keep reading.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

30 Day Book Marketing Challenge and 10 ideas to get you started

Good morning bookaholics, another cracking post for the writers amongst us today. As authors we are always looking for ways to be the word out about our books. Many authors feel like they are going nowhere with sales and others would like to increase their sales. Let's face it. Getting our books into readers hands can be challenging.

So today I am suggesting we all undertake a 30 day marketing challenge. We will all do one thing every day for 30 days to get the word out about our own books. I have given  you 10 ideas to get started and then we will use the power of the crowd to generate more ideas.u

1. Ask bloggers if you can do a guest post. To get you started, the first 10 people who contact me through my website will get a guest post on this blog. 

2. Send out a series of tweets about your book. These do not have to be buy my book but can be something interesting about it, or relates to it.

3. Use a different social media platform to get the word out about your book. How about vine? A six second video to tell the world about your books.

4. Do things differently. Download an app called Wordeo. Make a short video about your book, your character, interesting places in your books, anything related, with the cover of your books clearly in view. Share it widely. It's been proven that videos get way more engagement on social media than just words.

5. Get some postcards or bookmarks for your books. When they arrive (or if you already have them) leave them in different places - Drs Surgery, Dentist, hairdressers, art centers, libraries. I've even left some on the table in a car showroom. People sit there and drink coffee while waiting for a service. Plenty time to read about books they might like.

6. Explore Twitter advertising. Make this low cost e.g. £1 a day for as many days as you would like to do this for. You will need 3 tweets and 3 images. You can make images like the one above using a free app called Typorama. The words on the image cannot be more than 20% of the image

7. Look for local Fares and book a stall. This is summer so Britain is heaving with Fares. I am sure it is the same in other countries.

8. Collaborate with other authors to promote each other's books. I have joined with 2 other Scottish Crime Writers to form The Dangerous Dames

9. Contact your local library and ask if they would like you to give an author talk.

10. Do posters of your books and put them up in prominent places.

So a few ideas to get you started. This is where the power of the crowd comes in. Let's help each other out by putting more ideas in the comments below. If you need more ideas then my book Power Packed Book Marketing is crammed with them. 

That's it for now my Bookaholic friends. Let's get this party started and sell more books.