Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Location, Location Location. What does a sense of place mean to a writer?


It has been sweltering hot in Dundee for the past couple of weeks. Although I have been writing I also wanted to get out and about in the sun. I justify this with the premise that all work, and no play, makes Wendy a very dull author indeed. With the sun at my back it was time to explore the location of my books. 

DI Shona McKenzie, the star of my murder mystery books, lives in Broughty Ferry, so it is here I chose to spend the day. Broughty Ferry has a beautiful beach as can be seen above. However, despite enjoying the day, my mind turns to crime. How could this beautiful location be incorporated into a book, with a deed so vile, no one could possibly imagine it. Except an author of course. The photo will serve as a reminder when I am writing about location in my books. 

What else did I find in Broughty Ferry? 


There is a rather fine castle, which was first fortified as a castle in 1454. Given the history of Scotland I am sure that many a murder has taken place within its walls over the centuries. With the blue of the harbour it looks idyllic today, but is it?




Broughty Ferry, like many parts of Dundee, is a mixture of the old and the new. I love this picture with the new cuddling up to the new, and yet somehow working. 


Broughty Ferry sits on the estuary of the river Tay, with the Kingdom of Fife on the other side of the river. They are joined by the Tay Bridge, which can't be seen in this picture. However, despite being separated by the river, Dundee, and Tayport in Fife, are close enough to be joint partners in any mayhem contained within a book. 

As writers, we have to set the scene for our readers, giving them a sense of place. Going out and taking photographs such as this can help us with providing vivid word pictures which can be translated visually by our readers. However, one caveat. This should ideally be done in different weather conditions. The sun always seems to be shining in my pictures, but not in my novels. Not that I want the rain, or the wind, or the storm to arrive but when it does, I will be dressing up warmly and taking the bull by the horns. My loyal readers are worth every freezing cold minute.

I would like to finish with a question. To all authors. What is your top tip for ensuring a sense of place in your novels?





Monday, 21 July 2014

Interview with Author Elizabeth Davies




I am excited that Elizabeth Davies, author of a number of paranormal novels, has agreed to join us on the blog today. Welcome Elizabeth. It is lovely to have you here with us. Thank you for agreeing to an interview so we can find out more about your and your books.


I am sure my readers would like to know something about you. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself

I live in Wales, part of the UK, am married and we have a teenage daughter, and a scruffy old dog.


What genre of books do you write

Paranormal romance, though I do have ideas for other novels which are probably more dramas than anything else.


Why does this genre interest you

I can really let my imagination run wild with paranormal novels. No one can really say what’s right or what is wrong within this genre, although the author still needs to make sure it’s plausible.


Could you tell us a bit more about your books

I have three published novels, a trilogy, the first one called ‘State of Grace’. They are a mixture of vampires, time-travel and historical. I have just completed another paranormal romance, this time with the focus on ghosts, but also in a historical setting, called The Spirit Guide, and hope this will be published by the end of August.


The readers of this blog are both writers and readers. What would be your top tip for aspiring writers.

Edit, edit and edit again. Writers never see all their own errors, and believe me, everyone makes them. Get as many eyes to edit/proofread as possible, and if you can afford it, hire a professional. It might not be cheap, but it may save you poor reviews in the future.


Who is your favourite character in one of your books, and why

Roman – he’s a vampire, and I love the way he is so aloof and removed from the problems that humans face.


Where in the world are your books set.

They are set in South Wales, where I grew up. I know the area well, and it is full of mountains and castles, and over 2000 years of history – think King Arthur and Merlin.


Could you tell us a bit more about this area of the world

It is part of the UK, but also separate, in that we have our own government. If readers want to know more about Wales, they can read my blog post on ‘Being Welsh’, www.elizabethdaviesauthor.co.uk.


It's time to get personal now.

What would you say is your favourite meal

Lasagne! Whenever we go out for dinner, I’m so boring – I always choose the same thing. I know I’m going to enjoy it, but then I sneak a bit from my husband’s plate just to see if I like what he’s having.



What do you do in your free time

I don’t have much free time, but when I’m not working, writing (and doing things associated with writing), or chores, I like to hike in the mountains. Up high, with the clean wind in my face, and the scents of heather and bracken, I feel cleansed and refreshed.


Could you tell us one surprising thing about yourself

I like playing with bricks and cement – there’s nothing like a bit of DIY to make me feel I’ve achieved something! And laying a patio is quicker than writing a novel…


What would you say was your favourite colour and why

The colour of bluebells. It reminds me of spring, and the summer to come.


Thank you Elizabeth. This has been so interesting. It is great to have a fellow Celt on the blog and to learn more about you and your writing. I love South Wales as well. I used to go to Porthcawl regularly when I lived down South. Thanks for the advice about editing. I am sure all the Bookaholic readers who are also writers will take this to heart.

You can visit Elizabeth in the following ways:


I am sure you will agree with me that it has been a pleasure meeting Elizabeth. See you back on Bookaholic soon with another great review. Until then. Keep reading. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Book Review: Tips for the Sophisticated Marketer by DeAnna Troupe


Today on Bookaholic I bring you a great book for marketing on a budget. I did promise you an eclectic selection of books. 

This book may be small but it packs a real punch for anyone wanting to market without paying out a large amount of money. DeAnna Troupe starts simple and outlines what is meant by the different terms. She then goes on to cover the different methods of free, or low cost, advertising which the small business owner can access. These are not gone into in any great detail. However, this is not necessary as the approach taken will depend on the nature of the business.

The section on writing a press release is informative and useful. The Social media section may be a little less helpful for those whoa re already familiar with Facebook, Twitter etc., but will be useful for those fairly new to these sites. The section on video is short, but informative. Forums, ezines and places to get free advertising are also covered. 

Where this book really comes into its own are the numerous links which are contained within its pages. These take you to many different sites which support the text and these are a valuable resource. There is even a link to Troupe's free course on advertising. So this books reach is way beyond the physical page. 

The one thing I would have to say, is that I found the book to be a little too short. I was finding it helpful and interesting and then it just stopped. In all fairness to the author, this may just be me, as I like my reading material to be longer. Despite this I feel that this book is worth downloading. The links alone are worth the money. 

             

I was given a copy of this book in return for a fair review. At no time was I encouraged to provide a positive review. My review is based on my reading of the book and reflects my fair opinions. 


There we have it for another day my Bookaholic friends. For all those who are running small businesses, and all my author friends this is one for you. See you next time with another great review, of another fabulous book. Keep happy and keep reading.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Book Launch - The Death Game by Chris Longmuir



I have posted about local Dundee Author Chris Longmuir previously on my blogs. If you would like to know more about Chris and her work then you can read Crime Fiction and the Indie ContributionBook Launch - Missing Believed DeadInterview with Chris Longmuir

I recently had the privilege of attending Chris's book launch at Montrose Library. This was so much more than a book launch as Chris talked about her research for The Death Game. This is a historical mystery set in Dundee. It is fiction based on the first policewoman in Dundee. Chris had researched the era and the life of Mrs Jean Forsyth Thomson in detail and it was fascinating to hear her talk about the Dundee of the time.

I hadn't realised that the first policewomen were recruited from the suffragettes. Many of these women had been in prison at some point for their beliefs. This meant they knew about conditions for women from both sides of the fence. 

One fact that resonated for me was that many of the places and conditions which Chris described were still in place in the 60's when I was born. Dundee hadn't change very much from 1919. 

If you want to find out more, here is my previous review of The Death Game. This is an excellent book and well worth reading. The link to buy from Amazon UK and US are below. 

         

The talk was admirably supported by tea, coffee and Liz Strachan's world famous tablet. Well it's famous in my world anyway. This home made tablet is the best I have ever tasted, and trust me I am a connoisseur of tablet.

So all in all a great day which I really enjoyed. Chris is a highly talented author and her books are well worth reading. Enjoy the book and I will see you back here soon on Bookaholic. Keep reading.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Book Review: Spree by Michael Morley


Good morning my bookaholic friends. Today I bring you a book so fast paced it will leave you running to catch up.

I was busy so held of reading this book for a few weeks. That turned out to be a mistake. This is honestly one of the best Thriller/Mysteries I have read. I love the characters of Jake Motram and Angie Holmes, who are a formidable combination. They are portrayed almost as real people with the insecurities that come along with merely being human. In this book they are having some problems in their relationship. This plays a part in the book but is very firmly linked to the plot.

There is a madman on the loose who is randomly killing people in large massacres. hence the title Spree. There is a lot of controversy over whether this is a spree or a serial killer and this adds to the tension, not only of the plot, but in the aforementioned relationship. There are so many twists and turns in this book you wonder how you will ever find your way back, or even to the end. The book is like negotiating Hampton Court Maze wearing a blindfold. The action  is non stop and this keeps you reading long after you should have put the book down for the night. There are several shocks which keep you wondering until the ned of the book. The plot is tied up expertly at the end and the tension is kept up right to the last page.This book gives added edge to the phrase page turner.

This is a book which I would recommend everyone to read if you like mysteries with non stop action and plenty of surprises. The book is worth every penny you will pay for it.

           

The link for the UK version is above. Apologies to my readers in other countries but Amazon will not let me link to the US version of this. It is available if you search in the Amazon in your won country.

That's it for another day. Tune in soon for another review of another highly rated book. Until then grab the nearest book and start reading it.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Interview with Writer Tamy Burns




Today on Bookaholic I am delighted to welcome Author Tamy Burns who talks about the collaborative books written by herself and author Kim Hughes. Tamy joins us all the way from Las Vegas which is a long way from bookaholics homeland of Scotland. Welcome Tamy it is really lovely to have you join us.


Firstly a little about yourself ie your education Family life etc. I am sure bookaholic readers would like to know a little more about you both. 

Kim has an English degree with a minor in Journalism. She co-authors with me and we are on book three of the What She Knew Trilogy. She has two historical romances out entitled, Treasured Love and Lord Tristan's True Love by Kymber Lee.

I taught at a private school and enjoy mentoring and teaching. I am married and have two grown children.

Tell us your latest news?

The first two books, Fateful Night and Darkest Day, of the What She Knew Trilogy are out and available on Amazon. Kim and I are working on the third and final book. We hope it will be out the Fall of this year.

When and why did you begin writing?

Kim has always loved writing and journalism, I’ve written five historical novels set in the Regency Era of 1811. One has been published and is currently available on Amazon. Its title is Treasured Love by Kymber Lee. I was drug into the business after I had taken a class with a well-known published author. That is where we came up with the idea for What She Knew and we wrote the first chapter. The teacher loved it and persuaded us to write the full novel.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Kim considered herself a writer long before I did. She is an English major after all. For me, it was after our first book signing. LOL – but it’s true.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Kim's grandmother has always been her biggest fan and she’s the one who thought she could write the Regency Romances as well as some of the other published authors. As for me, I was brought in as chief researcher and I've loved it!! I also do most of the writing for the scripts that we have done from the novel version.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Our novels are sparse in detail and rich in action and speech. We believe everyone knows what an Italian restaurant looks like or the White House lawn. People don’t always need a lot of flowery details to get the image in their heads.

How did you come up with the title?

We struggled with it for a long time and then one day it just popped. Marilyn Monroe was in the forefront of every known circle; political, Hollywood and even the mob. She knew all kinds of secrets. Perhaps it was What She Knew which caused her death. Then, we had to come up with the titles for each book. They seem to come during the writing of each. Fateful Night, because it was at night that she 'died.' And, Darkest Day, because the day John F Kennedy was assassinated was a very dark day for America.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Not really but if they do happen to wonder if Marilyn Monroe and John F Kennedy survived. we've done our job.

How much of the book is realistic?

It is historically accurate. I took great pains to make sure that the dates and places were correct in every sequence. We love that it feels so real for a fictional novel.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Our pat answer here is that everyone either wanted to be Marilyn Monroe or be with her. She is a beloved Hollywood star that was unfortunately treated like she was a dumb blonde. In reality she was extremely intelligent and kept a close eye on what was going on around her.

What books have most influenced your life most?

We both love mystery/suspense/intrigue kind of books.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 

 Agatha Christie has influenced us both.

What are your current projects?

We are working on book three. That's keeping us very busy.

Name one person you feel supported you outside of family members.

Our publisher, Kim Emerson, has been one of our biggest supporters! She is amazing.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

For Kim, it has been a life long interest and gift. For me, it's been very recent. Still, the researching part is my thing more than the writing.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? 

This is from Brightest Dawn, book three of the trilogy:

Jackie blew a smoke ring at her sister. “Really Lee, why do you always think I’ve done something?”

“Usually because you have,” Lee watched for a moment before her attention was drawn to the children laughing on the lawn.

“You wouldn’t understand if I told you. Besides it isn’t my fault.”

“What ?” Lee smiled and waved at Caroline as she chased the ball John-John had kicked.

“It wasn’t my fault and I’m not taking the blame.” Jackie remained oddly defiant.

“Fine. No blame. What happened?” Lee stubbed out the cigarette in the ashtray. She picked up her iced tea from the table between their chairs.

“I think Papa Doc drugged me with some type of truth serum.”

Lee spewed the sip of tea into the air. “Oh dear, you’ve been reading too many spy novels. Or have you been seeing a secret agent?” Lee laughed for a moment but caught the frown on her sister’s face. “Okay, I’m sorry. Tell me when this happened.”

“At the coffee shop a few days or maybe a week ago, I don’t really remember. I do recall thinking I had seen Jack. He was walking outside the coffee shop looking in and then he turned and walked away with his head hung.”

“Jackie, darling, you’re not making sense. Did you go see someone about your grief?”

“It really happened. I’ve told you he’s alive. Why won’t you believe me?” Jackie stood up and stormed into the house.

Wow, what a great extract. It really makes me want to read the next book. My next question follows on from this, Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Not really, we work really well together. Kim has magic fingers and I love the research.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I love all of the Agatha Christie books. We both do. Easy to read, not a lot of description, and great plot twists.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not much right now. In the beginning, we did several book signing tours. Now, we are focused on online promotions and writing book three.

Who designed the covers? 

My son, Kenneth Burns did! We are so fortunate to have a graphic artist in the family.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

For us right now it's location! Kim is moving to Vegas the later part of Aug, and until then, writing is nearly impossible for us. We need to be together, we just do.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

We learned that not only are we best friends, but we are great writing partners. We are truly blessed!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just do it! Keep writing, keep perfecting your craft, network, promote, engage with your fans.

Do you remember the first book you read?

That's been too long ago. Books have always been a huge part of our lives. Kim's grandmother encouraged her to read and write and my mom always made sure I had books to read. We were both very voracious readers.

Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?

We both love people. Interacting with and reaching out help others is a passion of ours. We also really love making swag gifts for our fans.

What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

Bones, Castle, Mentalist, BBC's murder mystery shows, anything with a plot twist and mystery.

I love all of those as well so we obviously have similar tastes. If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

Oh, well, I'd have to say work with youth and the needy.

Before we finish let's find out who we can see more about you and  your work. Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

Blog

Are there any other links you would like to share?

Amazon UK: Fateful Night
Amazon US: Fateful Night


Facebook

Twitter

Thank you so much for joining us today on Bookaholic Tamy. It has been a real pleasure meeting you and getting to know more about you and your work. I am sure Bookholic readers will join me in wishing you all the best for your latest book and any future writing endeavours. 

That brings us to the end of another day in Bookaholic land. I look forward to seeing you all back here soon. Until then don't worry abut anything, just keep reading.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Book Review: The Reckoning by Rennie Airth


Sorry I have been MIA recently Bookaholic's but I do have an admiral excuse. I have been writing and putting on a murder mystery dinner to raise money for charity. This was the first outing for Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie and her sidekick Detective Sergeant Peter Johnston both of whom were from my books. However, I am not going to be talking about my books today, but bring you a review of a fabulous historical mystery. 

The usually quiet Sussex countryside is disturbed by the murder of a prominent local. This looks like it could be tied in to another murder which was committed many miles away in Scotland. Despite having retired, ex Met police officer John Madden finds himself right at the heart of the investigation. This is not an on the edge of your seat type thriller, but it is still, somehow, absorbing. The picture of the times is described so vividly I could almost feel the chill of the London fog surrounding me. The setting adds to the mystery. The characterisation is excellent and I could just imagine the characters who made up the police during the period. They are rough and ready and yet do everything they can to get the job done. The war obviously plays a large part as people are still living in it's looming aftermath. 

John Madden is an excellent character and I am sorry I have not come across him before. This is the first book I have read in the series although it is actually the fourth. I will waste no time in getting the first three in the series, and in fact I am off to do so now. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. A new, to me, author and one I will certainly look out for in the future. 

         

So there you have it for another day my bookaholic friends. I look forward to meeting back here with you soon with a review of another fabulous book. Who knows which book that will be. Tune in for the next instalment to find out. Until then keep calm and keep reading