Monday, 30 October 2017

Undivided Heart

Having read Mill's Forgetful Heart I was very much looking forward to the release of this one. My excitement and anticipation were both well rewarded with this thoughtful and inspiring book.

The author's passion for the topic shines through and this results in a deeply satisfying read. When I say read, I don't mean it in the sense of reading from one end to the other without stopping. I found myself having to stop on numerous occasions and think about a verse or the implications of what has been said. 

I found myself examining my own heart and my relationship with God, which I am sure was the author's intent. In this she succeeded. At the end of each chapter is guided reflection, and these supported the discussion well. Mills is open and honest about her own journey and I found this too, to be helpful. 

The poems, written by the author herself, which are included in the book are prayers in their won right. I found myself using them as such. 

The blurb says that the book is written to help us examine our motivation and purpose, and it certainly does this. Each chapter takes a different topic. It certainly made me reach deep down inside myself and re-examine the reasons why I act the way I do. 

At the core of the book is God himself, just the way it should be. Our relationship tip God, and finding a deeper relationship is what this book is all about.

I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that all Christians should read this book. It will make you take stock and examine your purposes in your daily life. 

 Buy from UK       Buy from USA

Thank you for joining me Bookaholics. It's  cold frosty morning here in Dundee so I'm off to find another book to read. Wherever you are, and whatever the weather, remember it's always a perfect time to read. 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

50 Instagram Hashtags for Writers

For the past few weeks I have been exploring how to use Instagram more effectively as an author. I've learnt a lot and put the ideas into practice. However, I discovered that there are a humongous amount of #Hashtags out there which writers can use. As I'm in a caring, sharing sort of mood I thought I would put some of these together in one place. I'm hoping this will help you as a writer. So without further ado we have:



#quoteof the day


#romantic suspense

Hope this has helped. If you know of any more then please add them in the comments so we can all learn and develop. If you would like more help with marketing your books then check out Power Packed Book Marketing

Wendy H. Jones is the author of the best selling and award winning DI Shona Mckenzie Mystery series of crime books. Her first Young Adult book was a finalist in the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award. She also runs Equipped to Write, a writing and marketing training and consultancy, along with Andrew J. Chamberlain.

You can find out more on her Website

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Evernote for Authors and Public Speakers

I think I can safely assume that everyone who requires a tool for recording notes on computers and mobiles, has heard of Evernote. I have been using the free version for many years now. However, about a year ago I made the decision to move over to the paid version. I do not regret that decision for a minute. So, I thought I would take some time to explain why I think it is so good for authors and Public Speakers.

At its basic level the app works as a notebook. Nothing earth shattering about this I hear you say. I have a notes app on my phone/tablet/computer. Not like this you don't. The ability to sort notes into notebooks is writers gold. I have a notebook for each of my series, sub notebooks for the individual books, and notes within these. Everything I need for all my writing projects in one place. 

However, this is so much more than just a notebook. If I see something which inspires me for any of my books I quickly snap a picture and send it to the relevant notebook. I can then jot notes underneath and add audio if I want to. Therefore I can capture the sights and sounds, if not the smells. Knowing how technology is moving on it wouldn't surprise me if we were able to add smells one day. 

I have added Evernote Clipper to my web browser. If I come across a blog, or article, which is helpful then I merely click on clipper and it is saved to Evernote. I use these for both writing, and for public speaking. If I am talking about book marketing and see a useful article I will send it to the relevant notebook for Presentations/BookMarketing. It is there when I go to prepare the presentation. All my research appears together in the relevant folder. 

Tagging notes helps you to find them more easily and adding location is useful for remembering where you were when inspiration struck, or photos were taken.  

Another way in which I use Evernote is for writing my books. If I have a few minutes to spare and an idea comes to me I pull out my phone and start to write. When I get to the manuscript proper, it is a simple matter of copying and pasting to Word, or whatever programme you use for writing. One word of warning here, Evernote uses the Times Font. You will need to change it to Times New Roman for anything you copy and paste, or whatever font you are using.

Lastly, and my favourite feature, anything added on one device will synch in seconds to all the other devices where Evernote is loaded. So write on your phone, copy and paste on your computer. Superb. 

I hope I have convinced you that Evernote is well worth investing in for all those who are writing or public speaking. By the way, I am not on commission. I have no investment in the programme other than loving it. I wanted others to know just how useful it can be. 

Winner of the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2017
Shortlisted for the Woman Alive Readers Choice Award 2017

About the Author


Wendy H. Jones is the award winning author of the best selling DI Shona McKenzie Mystery series of crime novels set in Dundee. Killer's Crew, the fifth booking the series was released in November, 2016 and won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2017. Dagger's Curse, the first book in her Fergus and Flora, Young Adult Mystery series was released on 10th September, 2016 and is currently shortlisted for the Woman Alive Readers Choice Award 2017. She also has one non fiction book, Power Packed Book Marketing: Sell More Books.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

It's Big, It's Bold, It's ScotsWrite17

As an author I am a member of the Society of Authors, an organisation which works to support the interests of British Authors. As a Scot, I am honoured to be part of the committee of the Scottish branch, The Society of Authors in Scotland. 

As a writer I know the importance of investing in my career, and I take every opportunity to develop my writing, and marketing, skills. Therefore, today I bring you news of the ScotsWrite Conference. I am very excited about being on the organising committee for this. The lineup of speakers is phenomenal and I am very much looking forward to hearing them. I mean, who could resist hearing Joanne Harris, Joanna Penn and Jane Johnson. Speakers with names beginning with Letters other than J, will be available. 

With four strands there is something for everyone. These cover everything an author needs, and then some. They are:
  • Passion and Mission: What you love (your passion and dreams; finding ideas; identifying your audience; telling the story your way)
  • Mission and vocation: What the world needs and what you need (your well-being as a writer; the role of writers in education; fostering creativity and imagination for a healthy society; the power of words; forging cultural links through translation; how to use technology)
  • Vocation and Profession: What you can be paid for (how to get paid – properly; understanding markets and marketing; what are your assets and how to safeguard them)
  • Profession and Passion: What you are good at (empowering yourself as a writer; diversifying your skills; building your professional reputation)

The programme will be launched on Facebook, Thursday, 15th June at 7 pm. You can join us here

There are affiliate rates for many organisations including, but not limited to, Scottish Association of Writers and Association of Christian Writers. The early bird rate ends 22nd June, so make sure you book before then to get a great rate. Being Scottish, I wouldn't want anyone to miss out on a bargain. The spaces re filling up fast, with delegates coming from as far away as Canada. 

One last thing, did I mention there will be a Ceilidh. What's not to like?

You can find out more about the conference, and book your place, by clicking on the link below. I'm looking forward to meeting you there.

Author Bio


Amazon Author Page

Wendy H. Jones is the author of the best selling DI Shona McKenzie Mystery series of crime novels set in Dundee. Killer's Crew, the fifth booking the series was released in November, 2016. 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.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Book Marketing Challenge and More Ideas to Get You Started

Some months ago I wrote a blog about a 30 day book marketing challenge. This was very well received with many people saying they found this useful. I thought it was about time to set another challenge to help you, the author, get those book sales moving. So, who's up for the challenge? Thirty days of concerted effort to improve your marketing, and this sell more books. Here are ten ways to get you started.

1. On this day - link your book to a day in history, or a national day. Did you know today, 30th May, is National Mint Julep Day, National Hole in my Bucket Day, and National Water a Flower Day. This can be fun. An example of this. My books are set in Scotland. National Tartan Day was the perfect day for all my books. A quick graphic (see tip 2) and a tweet and there you are.
2. Use Canva to develop graphics for social media. This is a simple tool to help you develop graphics for all your social media posts. Here's an example of my graphics for Tartan Day.

Twitter - Tartan Day Promotion

Instagram - Tartan Day Promo

3. Explore the use of one social media channel you are not already using. Instagram can be used effectively to get the word out about your books. 

4. Follow at least four writers in your genre - do this on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

5. Be helpful - comment and share another writer's posts on Facebook and Twitter. Do this because you want to support them, not because you want anything back. 

6. Send out four tweets linking to articles which will help other writers. After you have done this send 1 tweet about your books.

7. If your book mentions any areas of areas of special interest then see if you can hold a book signing there. My book, The Dagger's Curse, has a lot of action taking place on The Frigate Unicorn. I spoke to them and held a workshop for children on the boat.

8. Write and interesting blog post about how you got the idea for the book.

9. Write a blog post about one aspect of writing your book. Make this helpful for other writers.

10. Share photo's of your books in interesting places e.g. at the top of a mountain. This is one you will need to think for yourself. 

Now, write a 30 day marketing plan.

I challenge you to start today and remember to have fun. Promoting needn't be boring or stressful. Think of things you can do and enjoy yourself. Ready, steady, go, get marketing.

About the Author

Wendy H. Jones is the author of the best selling DI Shona McKenzie Mystery series of crime novels set in Dundee. Killer's Crew, the fifth booking the series was released in November, 2016, and is currently nominated for the "Silver Falchion Award. Dagger's Curse, the first book in her Fergus and Flora, Young Adult Mystery series was released on 10th September, 2016. This is also nominated for the Silver Falchion Award. An accomplished public speaker and marketer, she also has one non fiction book, Power Packed Book Marketing: Sell More Books.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Exercises to Stimulate the Creative Juices

I've been thinking a lot abut exercise recently. I was ill for many years and unable to exercise, however I have now fully recovered. Whilst my unexpected recovery is exciting, and I rejoice in my new found freedom, it has left me feeling somewhat unfit. Therefore, exercise and recovering my fitness are at the forefront of my mind.

This has got me thinking about how this new found interest in exercising can help me as a writer. Many researchers have shown. that exercise helps you to focus and stay on task. Many schools are now incorporating exercise into the day to help pupils concentrate. Exercise also helps to enhance creativity. Boom, there's my link to writing. Yes, exercise really does help you to write better, or at least to free your imagination.

So, what exercises help those creative juices to flow? There should be at least 20 minutes of exercise which gets the heart racing a little faster. Anything which you enjoy can count towards exercise. Unless you enjoy sitting watching telly, or sitting down to read. Sorry, that doesn't count. However, going for a walk and listening to an audiobook does count. Listening to a book on writing, and walking is a definite score.

I have recently taken up cycling again and find this to be a great way to get exercise and allow my brain to think differently. I notice things differently as well.

Exercise can also get you out in the fresh air. We've had a bonny spring so far, here in Scotland. Take advantage of the nice weather and exercise outside. You will notice things in different ways. Your mind can free fall and snippets of different ideas will come into your mind. If you can, record them as a voice memo to keep for later. Unless you're flying down a hill on your bike, or in the middle of a game of tennis of course, in which case probably not a good idea.

I appreciate not everyone reading this will be able to do physical exercise. I was at a conference yesterday. Once of the speakers suggested that an hour of free writing before starting the writing for the day, can help free the mind. This is something I certainly intend to try.

My final exhortation, get up and get out. Find a form of exercise you like and challenge yourself to do it every day for the next month. You might find it becomes a habit.

Click to find out more

Click to find out more

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Books, Death, Drinking and Ducks, in the Jekyll and Hyde City

There aren't many occasions where all the words in my title come together. However, the Crime Writers Association pulled it off with a cracker of a conference, in Edinburgh, The Jekyll and Hyde City.

 Let's get the ducks out of the way first. The conference was held at the Apex hotel and we all had a bonnie we duck in our bathroom. The first mystery of the weekend was that some of the delegates couldn't find their duck. Somewhat worrying but before long all fowl were present, correct and accounted for. The mystery of the missing ducks was solved.

To add insult to injury, I also had a bar of chocolate in my room and no one else did. This mystery was also solved as it was a birthday present from the hotel. What an amazing way to spend a birthday.

The conference kicked off with two legends from the Scottish crime world. Sorry I mean crime writing world. Ian Rankin entertained and delighted with tales of Edinburgh and why it is the Jekyll and Hyde City. They held a room packed with writers in the palm of their hand., proving they are not only talented writers but gifted public speakers. Both these writers, and their books, are very firmly part of Edinburgh's Literary tradition.

The opening talk was a triumph and it would be difficult to know how these could be bettered. However, the conference organisers had come up trumps with every last speaker. Professor Lorna Dawson kept us all busy scribbling with her fascination and useful account of how forensic soil analysis can be utilised to help solve crimes. Tom Halpin, ex Head of CID talked about investigating a crime, including the priorities. There were some surprises in there and it's certainly made me look at the police in a whole new light.

 One of the highlights was meeting Professor James Grieve, who is also Major (Retd) James Grieve RAMC. As I am Major (Retd) Wendy H Jones QARANC her were a brace of Majors at the conference. It turned out we had served at the same time, but never in the same unit. It's a very small world indeed. Back to the conference and his talk. He gave the funniest talk on Forensic Pathology that I have ever heard. Was it also useful? You bet. He believes that a Forensic Pathologist is the physician to the bereaved.

The last talk of the weekend was by Tom Wood who worked on the World's End Murder. This had been an unsolved case from the 1970's and it was finally solved just a couple of years ago. This case was particularly poignant as the two young women who were murdered were the same age as me. I was celebrating my 56th Birthday at the conference, and they had died a horrific death at the age of 18.

It was also lovely to meet up with friends and make new friends. Alanna Knight and Alex Grey, two of my favourite authors were there. Not only are they fabulous authors, but genuinely lovely ladies. It is an honour to know them. I also had a fun lunch with Chris Longmuir and Caroline Dunford. I'm not so sure the hotel thought it was quite so much fun as we caused havoc with the order.

Alanna Knight and Alex Grey
Chris Longmuir, Me and Caroline Dunford

The organisers - Alex Grey, Aly Munroe and and Marianne Wheelaghan - certainly pulled it out of the hat for this conference. It is going to be hard to beat for next year, but I'm looking forward to it already.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Libraries Matter

In Scotland, like many other countries, libraries have seen devastating cuts to budgets with libraries closing at an unprecedented rate. CILIPS, the Scottish libraries and Information Professionals have launched a Libraries Matter Campaign. I have been a strong supporter of this campaign and I would like to take this opportunity to tell you why.

I was signed up to a library card at the age of 3. Not unusual today, but unheard of then. As an advanced reader I soon worked my way through the entire children's section of my local library. By the age of 10 I was the proud owner of an adult library card. Thus began my love affair with books. Yes, I received books as gifts and there were always books in the house, but not at the rate I read them. A voracious reader, I could read two books a day. I had some spirited discussions with librarians who said I hadn't read my book and couldn't return it the same day. I had to prove them wrong by telling them the plot. 

I joined the Royal Navy and then the Army as a nurse. This took me all over the world. The first thing I did when arriving at a new posting, was find the library. Postings abroad made it difficult for me to get books in English, but the library was always there like a comfort blanket. I started my career at Royal naval Hospital Haslar in Gosport. This becomes important later in my story. 

On leaving the services, I worked in academia for many years, leading to publication in academic textbooks and journals. This led to a whole new career as a crime writer, and I am now a full time author. This would not be possible without libraries fuelling my passion for reading. I have five books in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries and one book in the Fergus and Flora Mysteries. A new series, Cass Claymore Investigates, is also underway. 

Back to that posting to Gosport. I signed up to Gosport Library as an 18 year old. My books are now available to borrow in that library. It is an honour and a privilege to be in that situation. 

The picture is me with my books in my local library. I have been borrowing books for 53 years. The gentleman with me, a crime reader, has been borrowing books for 80 years. So together we have clocked up 133 years of library borrowing. That is why I believe Libraries Matter. That is why I am fighting to keep libraries open. Don't let your libraries close, they're important on many levels. 

You can find out more about CILIPS campaign on their website 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Book Review: The Breakdown by B A Paris

Good morning, Bookaholics. I have a book review for you today, of a book I am sure you will love as much s I do. I was fortunate to be given and Advance Reader Copy of The Breakdown through NetGalley. I'm jolly glad I requested it because what a cracking book it turned out to be. 

I haven't read B A Paris's previous books but I liked the look of this one so thought I'd take chance on a new author. Paris is an excellent author with a tight writing style which really ramps up the tension and plays on the motions. The emotional aspects of the book are beautifully handled and the psychological aspects tense. 

The book starts when Cass sees a woman in a car in a lane in a dark wood. She does not stop and the woman is subsequently murdered. Alongside this Cass is forgetting things and is worried that she is developing early onset Alzheimers like her mother. This leads to a taut psychological thriller which had me on the edge of my seat. I truly could not put it down and was reading until 3.30 am to find out what happens. To say it is a page turner may be a cliche but it is true. 

There are not many characters in the book but the ones which are there are realistic. The way they play of each other and the very sparsity of them only adds to the tension.

This is an outstanding book which I would not hesitate to recommend.

So there you have it my Bookaholic friends. This is one of those not to be missed books which I am sure you will want to read immediately. You an preorder from the link below

Enjoy the book and I'll see you back here soon. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Putting One Finger in Front of the Other

Writing a Book is that Easy? Or is it?

In most jobs an employee has to show up and carry out their allotted task whether they feel like it or not. The job doesn't go away just because someone isn't in the mood or isn't feeling it. Yet, often as writers, we convince ourselves that we can only write when the perfect mood strikes. I know I have the potential to give in to these feelings.  This blog is an example. I knew I needed to write a blog post and yet I put it off thinking, I haven't got an idea in my head. Time goes by and no blog post is written.

However, I think I am lying to myself. We often do as writers. Once I opened up my laptop and put one finger in front of the other, the thoughts started flowing and ideas came thick and fast. My brain, and/or my muse, just needed dragging out of bed and told that it was time get to work.

The same can be true for my novels. I can procrastinate, telling myself that my muse has up and left. That's not true. My muse just needs me to show up and join him or her. Once we're snuggled up together in front of the keyboard ideas come thick and fast. Showing up is the first part of the process.

The second part of the process is typing actual words. This may seem elementary but again the muse may need a bit of cajoling to get going. There is a lot of expert advice out in the stratosphere about writing when the mood doesn't strike. I have found one to be particularly helpful. Write anything. Write rubbish, you can do something with it later. The very process of writing will help the mind to start thinking creatively. It will then take over and the rubbish becomes something more coherent. Who knows, it might become something truly brilliant?

This advice is the same whether you, the writer, are penning a short story, an article, a blog or a book. You will not get anything done if you are not moving your fingers on the keyboard, or using a pen to script words. So going back to my caption, writing a book is that easy. Well not quite. As most writers know, there are many steps to the process of writing a book. However, none of them will ever get done if the writer and the muse are not sitting down to write the first draft.

So why are you still reading this blog? It's time to grab a pen or sit down in front of that keyboard. Your muse is waiting for you to show up so it can get cracking. More power to your pen or keyboard and I look forward to reading that completed book. If you have any more writing tips feel free to share in the comments. See you back here soon.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Good morning Bookaholics and my fellow writers. I've been thinking a lot lately about taking a step out of your comfort zone. I've always been an adventurous person. This led me to joining both the Royal Navy and the Army, and I've travelled all over the world. I definitely took a step out of my comfort zone when I moved back to Scotland and took up writing full time. I'm definitely a grab life by the horns and make the most of every minute type of girl. 

However, when it comes to reading I had settled into a steady diet of crime books. Don't get me wrong, I love crime books, and read widely within that genre. Not only do I read every sub genre of crime I also read books by authors local, national and international. Great stuff but a little limiting for an author. This is what got me thinking about stepping outside my comfort zone. All the advice for writers is that they should read widely, both in and out of their chosen genre. So that is what I have decided to do. Never one to be phased by a challenge I have chosen a couple of books to get me started. The first is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The second is The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton


As you can see I don't do things by half. If you want to know more about either of these books you can take a look by clicking on the image. My interest in The Goldfinch came about by my seeing the painting in The National Galleries in Edinburgh. It was on loan from the museum in The Netherlands and as I was there for a meeting I dropped in to have a look. I then bought the book from the gift shop  and left with a souvenir and new reading material. The Miniaturist was bought because I'd heard good things about it and the cover took my fancy. Yes, the cover really is important.

One other way in which I am trying to step out of my comfort zone is by writing short stories. I am not a natural short story writer but I have had some published in anthologies. As the chair of Angus Writers Circle I set a writing exercise each time we meet. Members take this home and write a 500 word piece of prose or a 40 line poem based on the the theme. As a member this encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and develop my writing further. 

Reading a wide variety of genres can also help you as a writer. It helps to open your mind to new ideas and gives your brain space to think. It can also help you to develop a richness of language by exposing you to new words and phrases and new ways of expressing yourself. It can also serve to broaden the book you are writing and make certain aspects more authentic. Let me give you an example. I am a crime writer but to make my book realistic I need to address the real lives of the main characters. There are elements of romance. I feel I cannot make these scenes realistic without reading some romance books. 

My challenge to you today, whether you are a reader or a writer, is to do something different. How can you step out of your comfort zone and in what ways will it change you?

Have a great week Bookaholics. Go and find a book you wouldn't normally choose, grab yourself a drink, curl up in your favourite chair and settle down to enjoy your book. If you are reading something different share in the comments and we might all discover some great new books. See you all back here soon. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

For Jean by Catherine Czerkawska

Having read Catherine Czerkowska's books The Physic Garden and The Jewel, I was privileged to receive and advance reader copy of her latest work, For Jean. This book was published just in time for Burns Day and when you read it I am sure you will understand why.

Before reviewing the book I am delighted to say that I was fortunate to be able to interview Catherine for the blog. So its back and relax, Bookaholics because you have a treat in store.

Please could you start by letting the readers know a little bit about yourself?

Hi Wendy, and thanks for inviting me. I write fiction (historical and contemporary novels and short stories) and non-fiction. I’ve also written plays for theatre, BBC radio and television. My dad was Polish, my mum English and Irish. I was born in Yorkshire but I’ve spend most of my life living and working in Scotland, with time also spent in Finland, Poland and the Canaries. I’m the classic ‘citizen of nowhere’ and proud of it. I live in a 200 year old cottage in a lovely Ayrshire conservation village. My husband is an artist and we have one son who is a professional video game and app designer in Dundee. I collect and sometimes deal in antique textiles – and often find myself writing about them in my fiction.

Your books are set in Scotland and your passion for this country shines through. Where does that passion come from?

We moved here when my dad, a research scientist, got a job here when I was only twelve. I think my passion for Scotland began back then. My dad was madly interested in local history. He was a hill walker too. We used to go off exploring, the four of us, mum, dad, myself and the dog, every weekend. And I’ve carried on being fascinated by all aspects of Scottish history and landscape, people and places. Later, my husband and son used to talk about me ‘bagging another heap of old stones’ whenever we visited yet another castle or stone circle or ruin. But those places are inspirational for a writer.

Your book The Physic Garden is set in the university in Nineteenth Century Glasgow. Where did the idea for the book come from?

I found a book called The Lost Gardens of Glasgow University by A D Boney in the Oxfam shop in Byres Road. It was a history of the gardens of the old college of Glasgow University – the one on the High Street, not where it is now. Two people, William Lang, a head gardener, and Thomas Brown, a professor of botany, were mentioned, so at least two of the main characters in my novel are based on real people. William’s problem was that the ‘physic’, or medicinal garden, was dying, due to early industrial pollution, but Faculty was blaming him. It seemed obvious to me that William and Thomas were close. I thought at first that it was a case of an older professor taking a promising young man under his wing, but as soon as I checked out their relative ages, I saw that Thomas was only a little older than William. It must have been a genuine friendship at a time when such friendships across the social classes were rare. I started to ask myself ‘what if?’ William disappears from the historical record quite quickly, so most of my story is fiction. It’s a tale of friendship and terrible, tragic betrayal.

The Jewel is based on the life of Jean Armour, Robert Burns wife. Why write a novel about Jean rather than Scotland’s own bard, Rabbie Burns?

I’ve wanted to write about Jean for years. She has always fascinated me because she has been so neglected. For many 19th and early 20th century biographers it’s as though she just doesn’t matter. They feel that he married ‘beneath him’ (nothing could have been further from the truth) and they discount her influence all the time. I found many examples of this, not least the refusal to see her as his muse, when she had a wonderful singing voice and a great fund of the old songs and melodies of lowland Scotland. When he designed his own seal, he set the image of a songbird over everything else. He told his correspondents that Jean had the ‘finest wood-note wild’in the country. Yet the bird on the seal is routinely identified as his love of nature rather than his love of Jean! The story of their relationship is dramatic, tragic, touching and very romantic. I loved writing it.

You’ve brought out a book just in time for Burns day. Tell us something about the book?

It’s called ‘For Jean’ and it’s a small collection of poems, songs and letters by Robert Burns for his wife. It’s a companion volume to the novel, 31 poems and songs all either written for or about Jean or (in my opinion) with Jean in mind. I added my own notes and a glossary so that people can read them and find out a bit more about the background. Then I put together a selection of letters Burns wrote, mostly to friends, about the ups and downs of the relationship. My favourites, though, are the handful of letters to Jean herself. I think there must have been more but they didn’t survive. They are so touching, so domestic, and sometimes very loving. 

You spend a lot of time writing about historic Scotland. If you were asked to cook a meal from the historical period of one of your books, what would it be?

Good question! Not a lot of people know that among Jean’s possessions was a cookery book by Hannah Glasse called The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. Seemingly Burns wasn’t very fond of fancy cooking. He liked plain soups and stews. I’m not mad about traditional Burns Supper fare, although I do love a good cock-a-leekie soup with crusty bread and butter, and I’m sure Jean would have cooked something similar. They made what they called ‘sweet milk cheese’ back then – a typical Ayrshire cheddar - and that would be nice too, with home made oatcakes. 18th century desserts might involve cheesecakes, made with curd, honey, eggs and precious spices like nutmeg. There’s also ‘cranachan’ made with whipped cream, toasted oatmeal, honey, raspberries and whisky. I’ll go for the soup and skip straight to the cheese and pudding I think.

If money was no object and you could go anywhere in the world on holiday where would you go?

These days, I would go to Italy rather than further afield. It’s my favourite country after Scotland but (surprisingly) I’ve never yet been to Venice. I’d love the opportunity to spend some time in Italy, two months or more, not travelling, but spending more time in one place. I’m desperate to see Venice, but the town of my dreams is a place called Volterra in Tuscany. We once had a holiday in a village nearby and it was magical. A month or two in Volterra would fit the bill, although a couple of months on the Isle of Gigha off Kintyre would be nice as well. I have a novel to finish and could do it there.

What will you be doing to celebrate Burns Night?

I think I’ll be in Glasgow. I have a number of engagements to speak about the books and about Jean. In fact it has turned into a Burns season for me rather than just a night. I’m looking forward to all of it, but perhaps especially to a Burns supper here in the village with a small group of old friends, in early February. I’m doing an Immortal Memory but from Jean’s point of view – of course! 

Thank you, Catherine for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. It has been fascinating to get to know more about you. I wish you all the best with the new book, which I loved, as you will see from the review below. 

At first sight this appears to be a simple little book, and yet it's not. Although small the book is packed full of insight into the relationship between Robert Burns and his wife, Jean Armour. It is essentially a collection of Burns' poems, sings and letters written for and about Jean.Catherine's insights and commentary bring these to life beautifully. I particularly liked the letters. It is the letters and the commentary which lifts this book out of the ordinary. Catherine's passion for both Armour and Burns is evident in her writing. 

The cover is exquisite in its simplicity. The publisher has essentially taken a panel from Czerkawska's book, The Jewel, and used it for the cover of this one. I love this touch as The Jewel itself is about Jean Armour.

I would highly recommend this book for any lover of Burns' work or anyone interested in finding out more. It should be in the library of Scot's everywhere.

You can find out more about Catherine and her books on her Website, Amazon and Twitter

That's it for another day Bookaholic's. Happy Burns Day to all Scots wherever you are in the world. Enjoy Burns Day and enjoy the book. 

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Partnership in Promotion: Top Ten Tips

Long gone are the days when authors could write a book and then sit back and let it sell itself. Now, whether traditionally or independently published, authors need to spend some time marketing their books. I know many of you will feel this is a never ending task, and others won't even know where to start. Never fear, help is here. Or should I say help is near. 

Let me elaborate. Help is as near as you reaching out to others. It has been proven time and time again that working together with others can exponentially rocket your marketing efforts. There are a number of ways in which this can be done. 

1. Speaking engagements - I have joined together with two Scottish Crime Authors, Chris Longmuir and Jackie McLean to form the Dangerous Dames. We undertake a number of speaking engagements together. This increases exposure for all three of us as we chat about the events on various social media platforms. 

2. Start a Facebook group of authors with similar genres, or interests. Within this agree to share about each others books, or share marketing ideas

3. Host and/or interview on each others blogs. 

4. Join together to run giveaways related to various times of the year. 

5. This may be somewhat limited but I also interview authors on my radio show

6. Share each other's social media posts about your books

7. Share each other's books on your own website. 

8. Share each other's business cards/ and or postcards 

9. Join together to do pop up shops in malls

10. Join associations which deal with writing and/or your genre. I am a member of The Society of Authors, Scottish association of Writers, The Crime Writers Association, SCWBI, Sisters in Crime, The Association of Christian Writers, and Scottish Fellowship of Christian Writers. Not only do these help me to be a better writer but increase opportunities for support and mutual promotion. 

I will finish by saying this is well worth exploring and way more than just the sum of all its parts. It's time to get the word out there and sell more books.