Monday, 25 June 2018

Indie Author Café

My regular readers will know that my day job is as a copy editor and proofreader. I am currently doing some work for Indie Authors World - a fantastic outfit, run by Sinclair and Kim Macleod, which supports independent, self publishing authors. With a variety of packages available for authors to choose from, IAW can provide editing, proofreading, formatting, cover design, marketing help - pretty much everything. If you are thinking of self publishing, check out their website.

Anyway, on the last Sunday of the month, Sinclair and Kim host an Indie Author Café at Waterstones in Sauchiehall Street. As I hadn't had chance to meet all the team or any of the authors, I decided to pop along yesterday to say hi.

I hadn't realised that half of Glasgow city centre currently has ongoing roadworks, so I was late arriving, but joined the gathering of thirteen authors, led by Sinclair. Carston, the IAW tech and social media guy was busy taking photos, one of which he has kindly let me use below.

Usually, the session starts with a couple of authors talking about their publishing journeys, followed by some questions and discussions. But yesterday was the last meeting before the summer break so was more relaxed. Sinclair went around the group so everyone could share what they were up to. Unfortunately, because of my tardiness, I missed several contributions, but was there for lots of brilliant encouraging conversations. We discussed how good Business Gateway is for helping your self publishing business. One or two authors are thinking about getting their books translated into Gaelic - particularly ones aimed at children for use in schools. We talked about promotion and social media, and how to get your book on to the shelves at Waterstones. And I was really encouraged by how many authors were a good way through their next book - more than one, in a couple of cases! For my turn, I just gave a very brief introduction, as it is mainly a gathering for authors.

During the coffee break, I chatted with Sinclair and some of the authors, and was made incredibly welcome. After coffee, Sinclair provoked more conversation with a series of questions about books - favourite one, least favourite, book themed holidays, books that you would want your ideal partner to read - kudos to the gent who said 'Fifty Shades of Grey '! So we had some animated discussion and lots of laughs. But the question which caused the most debate was 'How do you organise your books?', which lead on to discussion on caring for books. Ooft! The conversation was heated as we discovered the most particular people, and the philistine amongst us!

All in all, it was a great way to spend a couple of hours with some brilliant people. I am looking forward to the next meeting at the end of September, which will be along the usual lines.

I want to thank everyone for making me so welcome. See you all soon!

Mark Billingham & Steve Cavanagh

It was a packed house at Waterstones in Sauchiehall Street on Wednesday evening to hear two big hitters in the crime writing world - Mark Billingham and Steve Cavanagh. And I have never laughed so much at a book launch before!

Keeping order was McIlvanney Prize 2018 longlister Chris Brookmyre, as the guys talked about their new books - The Killing Habit by Mark Billingham and Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh. Both have been getting rave reviews, and having read Thirteen (review to follow) I can agree that it's fantastic. I haven't had chance to read The Killing Habit yet, but I am a big fan of Mark's writing, and look forward to getting into it at the earliest opportunity.

The spark for The Killing Habit came from a news article about the Croydon Cat Killer, later renamed the UK Cat Killer, as the area in which he (or she) operated within expanded. This individual has so far killed 450 domestic cats and is the subject of an on going investigation. It turns out thatmestic cats kill an astonishing 55 million birds each year. So one active line of enquiry, is that this is a bird lover exacting revenge. A very big concern for the police is what this individual might go on to do, as the torture and killing of animals can be a precursor to murdering people, so they are very keen to stop him or her.

Anyway, I digress slightly. This all gave Mark an idea for the book, but he was quick reassure us that no cats are actually killed in the story. Crime writers know that it doesn't matter what agonies and horrors they put their human characters through, but if they harm a hair on the head of a cat or dog, there will be hell to pay from their readership!

Thirteen is the fourth in the Eddie Flynn series, but works perfectly as a standalone. Eddie is a former conman turned attorney in New York, defending a client in a murder case. But the actual murderer isn't trial, he's on it the jury! It's a corker. Steve didn't base it on real events, but has been asked if it was based on American killer Edward Wayne Edwards who had a similar MO. At this point author Craig Robertson, who was in the audience, informed the gathered assembly that Wayne is the most common middle name of American serial killers! Parents to be - you have been warned!

Neither Mark not Steve base their books on real events, because often reality is far stranger than fiction. Mark told the true story of the guy who, on discovering that lemon juice could be used as invisible ink, covered himself in lemon juice to commit a robbery. When the police arrived to arrest him a short time later, he was genuinely gobsmacked that he had been seen! And Steve, who is a practising solicitor, once acted for a guy charged with armed robbery. With a dead seagull. Really. That was possibly my favourite story of the night, but there were so many to choose from!

Mark revealed who Jack the Ripper was, according to Scotland Yard. Steve was asked by Chris about the similarities and differences between British and American lawyers. Apparently, the procedures are similar, but slightly different, and in the UK we have a solicitor and a barrister rather than just an attorney in the US. If you get the chance to hear Steve speak, ask him about this, and he will hopefully treat you to the story of Sister Mary, who struggled with the difference between a solicitor and a barrister. I was practically crying with laughter, and certainly can't do it justice by trying to retell it here.

We also heard about Steve getting trapped inside a toilet at a very swish American hotel. So swish that, whilst waiting for an engineer to arrive, the staff sustained  him with Pinot Grigio instead of water! It was the second time I had heard this particular story, and it was even funnier this time around.

Both authors will be taking part in the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in Stirling, 21st to 23rd September. Steve has a panel event, and is also one half of Two Crime Writers and a Microphone. Along with his (podcast) other half Luca Veste, he will be recording a live podcast on the Saturday evening. Mark, along with Wednesday night's host Chris Brookmyre, will be playing on the Friday evening as part of supergroup Fun Lovin' Crime Writers. Chris also has a panel event. All of these events, and many more brilliant ones, can be booked through the Bloody Scotland website.

The guys were asked what other authors they are reading just now. They both recommended Mick Herron and Martyn Waites, and Chris mentioned Dark Town by Tom Allen. Mark then brought the event to a close by reading some of his favourite one star reviews!

I could have listened to these two, and Chris, all night. It was so much fun. I got my books signed and my pic taken (although the lighting wasn't brilliant by the signing table). I don't know about other book communities, but the crime writing one is hugely encouraging and supportive. In the audience on Wednesday night, cheering on (and occasionally heckling) their mates were fellow authors Mason Cross and Craig Robertson (both also McIlvanney Prize longlisters), Alexandra Sokoloff and Neil Broadfoot. And it was great to catch up with Claire Duffy and several of my fellow bloggers too.

All in all, a fantastic evening!

You can buy The Killing Habit from Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

You can buy Thirteen from Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Cover Reveal! Snowflake by Heide Goody & Iain Grant

I'm really looking forward to taking part in the blog tour next month for Snowflake, the new book by Heide Goody and Iain Grant. But today, I am excited to be able to show you the cover of Snowflake to you.

First of all, a little bit about the book. It will be published on 20th July, and here is the Blurb:

'Lori Belkin has been dumped. By her parents.

They moved out while she was away on holiday, and now, at the tender age of twenty-five, she’s been cruelly forced to stand on her own two feet.

While she’s getting to grips with basic adulting, Lori magically brings to life the super-sexy man she created from celebrity photos as a teenager.

Lori learns very quickly that having your ideal man is not as satisfying as it ought to be and that being an adult is far harder than it looks.

Snowflake is a story about prehistoric pets, delinquent donkeys and becoming the person you want to be, not the person everyone else expects you to be.'

Doesn't it sound brilliant?

So, are you ready to see the cover? Drum roll please...

Here you go:

How awesome is that! Can't wait to read it!

Check back to read my review on 14th July, which is my stop on the blog tour.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Prize longlist revealed!

This morning saw the release of the longlist for this year's Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Prize. It is a fabulous selection of books, and all the authors should be congratulated for getting this far. The winner will be announced at Bloody Scotland's launch event on Friday 21st September - I can't wait!

Bloody Scotland can tell you about it far better than I can, so follow the link to find out more.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Space Police: Rise of the Retail-Bot by David Blake

I always jump at the chance to read one of David's books, so big thanks to him and TBC Reviewers Request Group on Facebook for the copy of this book, the fourth in the Space Police series.

The Blurb:

It’s the 25th Century and the President of Earth is trying to wriggle out of having to marry a robot.

Meanwhile… Dewbush finds himself falling in love with a retail-bot who’s in illegal possession of a sense of humour. But when she’s recalled by her manufacturer for immediate decommissioning, Capstan suspects they may have darker motives for wanting her silenced.

This, the fourth in the brand new Space Police series, is a hilariously funny Sci Fi space comedy that's just perfect for fans of Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Terry Pratchett, and the Space Team books.

My Review:

Another outing for my favourite intergalactic crime fighting duo. This time they head for the exotic location of Milton Keynes, Planet Earth. Sweet innocent Dewbush falls in love with a Retail-Bot called Jenny, who he is convinced he can be happy with forever. And he might well be right - if he buys at least two jumpers a day.

But before he can plan his nuptials, he and Capstan have to save Jenny from being decommissioned, and themselves from danger. Oh, and the world too.

Another hilarious romp of a story that I loved. The relationship between our two heroes is so brilliant. And as I've said before, setting a comedy series in a future where humour is outlawed is just genius. And there is a touch of Mr Bean about the intrepid duo - they find themselves in all sorts of ridiculous situations with no idea how to get out, then they escape almost accidentally.

There is nothing I don't like about this book, and this series, so far anyway. The crime books I usually read are much heavier and more serious than this, so it is always a joy to change it up and read one of David's once in a while.  I look forward to many more.

You can purchase Space Police: Rise of the Retail-Bot here.

I have also linked my reviews of David's other books -  Space Police: The Final Fish Finger and Space Police: The Toaster That Time Forgot.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Meeting author CS Duffy

Last Wednesday afternoon was slightly wet and miserable, but I spent a lovely hour drinking good coffee and chatting with gorgeous author Claire Duffy (who writes as CS Duffy) in Billington's Coffee Shop and Deli in Lenzie, near Glasgow.

Claire has a background in tv and film screenwriting, and has lived all over the world, before settling back in Glasgow a year and a half ago, and now writes full time. She has published a trilogy of books over the last year: Dark of Night: Episodes One, Two and Three. Following the release of Episode Three last month she has been doing a small 'Meet the Author' tour, which is where I caught up with her.

Claire has self published the Dark of Night trilogy with the support of Indie Authors World, who are based in Bishopbriggs near Glasgow, and provide a range of services to help self publishing authors. They are a fab organisation, and a great resource if you are thinking of self publishing,  and I am privileged to be on their bank of editors.

Claire struck me with her energy and enthusiasm for writing, and passion for self publishing, and gave me a couple of hints about other projects she might be working on. Whatever happens, I know we are going to be hearing lots more from her!

I haven't had chance to read the books yet, but am really looking forward to them, and will report back when I have. In the meantime, I have included the blurb for Dark of Night: Episode One to whet your appetite!

Dark of Night: Episode One - The Blurb:

Haunted by the fact that he never got the chance to tell best friend Lorna that he loved her before she was murdered, Ruari sets out to track down the man he saw her with the night before she was murdered - the man police are certain was her killer.

Forensic psychologist Amy Kerr has been watching prominent Glasgow lawyer Alec McAvoy for months, certain that he is the so-called Dancing Girls Killer who evaded capture in London five years previously.

Now Ruari and Amy are closing in on the same man - but every step they take draws them deeper into the killer’s web.

You can buy Dark of Night: Episode One here or download a box set of the whole trilogy here

The website for CS Duffy is here, and you can also find her on Facebook.

You can find Indie Authors World here.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Savage Lies by Peter Boland

I have just finished this brilliant book. I think it's one of my favourites so far this year. Thanks to the author and TBC Reviewers Request Group on Facebook for the opportunity to read it.

The Blurb:

The most dangerous man in the world is the one with nothing to live for.

John Savage keeps hearing a voice in his head telling him to end it all. It’s surprising he doesn’t hear more voices, considering the hundreds of people he’s killed in the name of democracy. That changes when a girl disappears. The police think she’s the victim of a serial killer, but John has another theory. One that turns out to be far more terrifying...

Savage Lies is a fast-paced action thriller for fans of Lee Child and David Baldacci.

My Review:

Wow! My goodness, what a book! Took me to a place I wasn't expecting it to.

Troubled retired soldier John Savage steps in to help Theresa when a low life thug is pushing her around. Later she contacts Savage to thank him, and mentions that her daughter Bella has been missing for a year. Savage vows to find her and enlists talented hacker Tannaz to help him. Starting with a messed up job by the aforementioned thug, the search for Bella takes John abroad, and not always travelling in a conventional manner...

The story zips along, twisting and turning as it does. The tension doesn't let up. I thought I knew where the story was going, but it suddenly veers off in another direction. On one or two occasions, I found bits hard to read, because what was happening was so abhorrent to me, but I think this is just proof of how well written this book is.

I loved John Savage. I am always drawn to damaged men (!) and he carries a lot of pain. But his experiences in the army have shaped him and served him well, and he has a strong sense of right and wrong. He's the kind of man you'd want on your side. Tannaz is also brilliant - she's full of attitude, feisty and fabulous. And she sure knows what she's doing. But wait til you meet Jeff Perkins...I so wanted to punch him!

This book is fantastic. It's ultimately about fear of those different from ourselves, ignorance, bullying and brainwashing  It's well written, with great characters and a brilliant storyline. It's also very relevant in our society today where we are seeing a rise in extremism from various quarters, but also where there have been recent dubious political decisions, both in the UK and US, about how we deal with, or treat, those we deem to be 'foreigners'.

I can't recommend this highly enough, and am already looking forward to reading the next book from Peter Boland.

You can purchase Savage Lies here.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Bloody Scotland 2018!!!

So, the Bloody Scotland 2018 program was launched today at at afternoon tea with Alexander McCall Smith.

I am so excited for this festival, I can't tell you. The program features favourite events like Crime at the Coo (which has probably already sold out), the Fun Lovin' Crime Writers, Carry on Sleuthing and, of course, the Scotland vs England football match! And I'm delighted to see that the torchlight procession is returning - it was so special last year.

Of course, as well as all the above shenanigans (and plenty more) there is a full day of Crime Writing Masterclasses during the day on Friday 21st September, and a full, wide-ranging program of author events for Friday evening and through Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd. There really is something for everyone.

Now, I haven't had time yet to go through the details properly yet, but will be doing that tonight and tomorrow, and I will be back to share the events that I am particularly looking forward to.

You can view the program here, and  order tickets here.I

 Thank you to Bloody Scotland for the photographs.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

The Weight of Shadows by Karl Holton

When I've finished my Bloody Scotland reading, I will get back to sharing my current reads. But in the meantime, I'm still revisiting some of the books I enjoyed last year - you know, the ones with the shorter reviews! Here's today's choice:

The Blurb:

A gripping crime thriller mystery with twists from the beginning to end.

When you have spent your life in the shadows, what would you do at the dying of the light?

Three years ago the best murder detective in London is blamed for the death of his colleague and kicked out of the Met.
A man with secrets buried in the past and present returns to London, the city that started the mysterious career which made him a billionaire.
The two need each other.
But they have no idea how much.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this. There were a lot of characters, but they were all well drawn so I didn't struggle to keep up. The pace was maintained all the way through and kept me gripped. And it ended with a question!

Loved Pip and looking forward to reading the follow up to find out more about Danny Benedict, who has clearly got an interesting past. I hope Wallace will feature again too - she's feisty!

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a well written, intelligent thriller.

You can buy The Weight of Shadows on Amazon UK and US, and in good bookshops.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Dates For Your Diary

Hi guys, did you miss me?! No, don't answer that! Apologies, I took a few unplanned but much needed days away.

Just a short post today to mention some forthcoming events, all crime related - books, obviously!

Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Festival

First up is the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate from 19th to 22nd July.
I haven't managed to get to this festival yet, now in its 15th year, yet, and sadly won't be there this year either. But I know it is recognised as one of the best ones, and attracts fabulous speakers. 

You can find out all about it here

Bute Noir

Yesterday saw the announcement of the line up at Bute Noir Crime Festival on 3rd to 5th August.

Held in Rothesay on the beautiful island of Bute, this is a relatively new addition to the crime festival circuit, but has already proved popular with many events selling out last year. Tickets for all events are just £4 and the island is easy to reach by train (or car) and ferry - a return ticket for a foot passenger on the boat is less than £7.  Ferry details are here

The schedule for the event is below:

and you can get full details on the website

Last year when I couldn't go I promised myself that I would definitely go this year, but things haven't worked out that way.  However I'm still hoping I might get there for at least some of the Saturday. 

Bloody Scotland

Last, but very definitely not least, is the awesome Bloody Scotland Crime Festival in Stirling on 21st to 23rd September.

This one, I will definitely be at! My accommodation is booked and it's a highlight in my year. It will be my fourth time attending, and my second staying for the whole weekend. Last year, I met so many lovely authors, bloggers and readers it was fabulous. I came home knackered and broke but had the best time. And I don't know any other book festival which features a Scotland vs England (plus rest of the world) football match! 

This year is special for me as I was asked to be a reader for the 2018 McIlvanney Prize, which is why I haven't been posting about the books I am currently reading. Cos it's TOP SECRET! 

I can't tell you much more about it just now - we have to wait til this coming Monday when the programme will be announced at afternoon tea with Alexander McCall Smith. But you will be hearing A LOT more about it over the next few months! 

You can find out more on the Bloody Scotland website.

I hope that's whet your appetite a wee bit about some of the fabulous events that are coming up in the next wee while. These  festivals are such great opportunities to meet some of your favourite authors and discover new ones, and to connect with friends, old and new - maybe people you've 'met' in social media.  Whatever, they are well worth saving up for! 

Suze x

The Last One To See Her by Mark Tilbury

I am delighted to share my review of The Last One To See Her, the latest from Mark Tilbury, which is out on Thursday. You can see my reviews...