26 March 2014


My pick this week is DARK SANCTUARY by Malla Duncan.  A superb thriller for those of us who like to sit on the edge of our seat while we read!  I'm only a quarter of the way through and I can't put it down.  So, if you're looking for a book that compells you to "turn the page", this is a good choice.

Set on the Yorkshire moors, its heroine is Suzahne Holte who finds herself inadvertantly involved in the hunt for a possible serial killer.  Moors, moonlight and murder  make for a chilling read!

Other books by Malla Duncan include:-

What is your "choice read" this week?

5 March 2014

7 Myths About Being A Writer

Myth #1. Wait until that extra-special story idea comes into your head before you start to write.
If you wait for that special story idea, you may never write a thing.  Ideas for stories are all around you, it’s what you do with them that counts.
Myth #2. You’ll become rich and famous being a writer.
I guess there are writers who have become rich through their writing but they are in the minority.  Most of us have to keep our day job in order to pay the bills.  That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t dream!  PS. You probably won’t become famous either.
Myth #3. Once your book is published it will sell hundreds, perhaps thousands of copies.
This can happen but not without constant attention to marketing.  Without that, your book is invisible to potential readers.
Myth #4. Writing gets easier.
It doesn’t matter how many books you write, it doesn’t get easier, although you may do it a little faster.  Each book you write is a new challenge and you go through the same doubts.  Am I wasting my time?  Is my plot any good?  Will readers like this story?  Will it be as good as my last book?  The list goes on.
Myth #5. Self publishing is easy.
Granted, it is fairly easy to upload a book for publication, but you can only do that after you have written the book, edited the book, polished the book, formatted the book, written the book’s blurb, found and employed a cover designer and developed a marketing strategy.  When you’ve done all that, you can start to publicize and, hopefully, procure reviews.  In closing, I don’t think that self publishing is easy, but it is satisfying.
Myth #6. It’s easy to find an agent/traditional publisher.
You can spend months if not years trying to find an agent let alone a publisher who will consent to read your manuscript.  In my experience, few publishers will read unsolicited manuscripts.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try if your wish is to be traditionally published.  I always think that being traditionally published first gives an author a window into the world of publishing.
Myth #7. Writing is a solitary activity.
It might have been once upon a time but nowadays with social media, emails, Skype, telephones etc., it seems like there are an awful lot of people in my study while I’m writing!

Do you still want to be a writer?

16 February 2014

10 Tips for Self Publishing

  1. Edit your manuscript until it's the best it can be.  After you have done that, send it to a professional manuscript assessor for an evaluation, and a copy editor to check grammar etc.
  2. Have a professional cover design service create your cover.  An eye catching cover is a must.  It will adorn the cover of your paperback and also be used as a description of your story on-line.
  3. Write a catchy book blurb. Think of it as the shop window for your story.  It will tell readers what they might expect when they read your book so, make it enticing.
  4. The front matter. Look at the books on your bookshelves at home.  Check out what information is required to be added to the front of your manuscript before you upload it onto your publishing site.  That is, title page, copyright page, Dedication, Acknowledgements.
  5. ISBN and Barcode The International Standard Book Number (ISBN), is a number that uniquely identifies your book.  This can be purchased from your country’s national ISBN registration agency.
  6. ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Indentification Number) If you live outside the US, whoever you publish with, will withhold 30% tax on your royalty payments. To prevent this happening, you can apply for an ITIN if your country of residence has a tax treaty with the US.
  7. Decide on a size for your paperback Information on sizing can be found on the Createspace site.
  8. Pricing of your book is entirely up to you and if publishing on Amazon and or Smashwords, you can change your price at any time.  A good rule of thumb is to look at the pricing of other books in your genre.
  9. Categories and keywords These help readers find your book on-line so it's important to give some thought about your choice before you start to upload your book onto your publishing site.
  10. Cost involved. Don't be sucked in to paying a web site thousands of dollars to publish your book when you can upload it yourself for nothing.  Your costs should only be the following:-
    • Book cover(s) for eBook, paperback
    • Manuscript assessment service
    • Copy editor service
    • ISBN and Barcode 
       More information on the following posts:-

29 January 2014

10 Tips For Writing A Murder Mystery

I think that murder mysteries are popular because the reader gets to participate in solving the puzzle.  As you read, it’s almost like a contest to see who will solve it first.  The reader or the sleuth!  It’s also fun for the writer to try to create a mystery that keeps the reader guessing till the very end.  So, what are some of the things you need to do to write a good murder mystery?

First you have to decide what type of murder mystery you want to write.  A police procedural with a detective for your sleuth, an amateur sleuth who has a compulsion for being nosey, or a private investigator.  Or you might decide to use a semi-professional like an investigative journalist, for instance.  But whatever you choose, there are certain things that remain the same.

  1. If you have an amateur sleuth, there must be a plausible reason why he/she wants to solve the crime.
  2. Have at least 4 or 5 suspects.  With this many, your reader may very well be surprised by whodunit!
  3. Make sure all your suspects have a motive, the means, and the opportunity to kill the victim.  In other words, it has to be possible that any one of them could have committed the crime. 
  4. Each of your suspects must have a believable motive whether it be jealousy, revenge, greed, etc.  If they don't, your readers will spot it a mile away.
  5. Don't keep your readers waiting too long for the murder to happen.  Whether your victim is already dead when the book starts or later on, have it happen within the first three chapters. 
  6. Distract your readers with red herrings.
  7. Create a character who your sleuth or detective can discuss the case with. 
  8. And here is a golden rule.  Your readers must know everything that your sleuth or detective knows.  In other words, don't keep secrets. 
  9. Make sure that all loose ends are tied up before the end.  There's nothing more frustrating than having unanswered questions.
  10. Keep your reader in mind at all times.
Do you have any tips to add to this list?

20 January 2014

MYSTERY WRITERS OF THE PAST - Dame Ngaio Marsh 1895-1982

Ngaio Marsh - yet another mystery writer from the Golden Age, whose books and television series have transcended in to the 21st century.

Born in Christchurch, New Zealand Dame Ngaio Marsh is the author of 32 detective novels written between 1934-1982.  Set in 1930s London, they were dramatised in the 1990s on a BBC television series, entitled The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries.

Ngaio became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1966, and in 1978, she won the Grand Master Award from Mystery Writers of America.

Along with Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Alingham, Ngaio Marsh is known as one of the four Queens of Crime of the Golden Age 1920s-1940s.

Her other great passion in life was the theatre.  Between 1942-1969, she was  theatre director with the University of Canterberry Drama Society in New Zealand where the Ngaio Marsh Theatre is now named in her honour.

Her home in the Cashmere Hills, is preserved as a museum.

Other mystery writers of the past:-

13 January 2014


by Margaret Leroy

Set in 1937-38, The English Girl is the story of Stella Whittaker, who travels to Vienna to further her music studies at the Academy of Vienna.  17 years old and thriving in her new life in such a beautiful city, it’s not long before she falls in love with a young Jewish doctor.  When, however, it becomes apparent that this idyllic existence is threatened, Stella struggles to accept what she knows in her heart.
In such a turbulent time in our history, Margaret Leroy set out to provide the reader with an exciting story full of twists and turns as well as a sense of foreboding throughout, and she did not disappoint.  All the elements of the plot come together with great success.  The characters are well developed and appear real, and the settings are brought to life with Ms Leroy’s gift of lacing description throughout.
As with her previous books, The Collaborator and The Soldiers Wife, Margaret Leroy has given us, yet again, a window into the lives of those people who lived through one of the world’s most turbulent times, WWII.
Definitely a page turner that will be enjoyed by many readers.