Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Book Finds: June 2017

Summer - my time for LOTS of reading
The sun is shining (hopefully, where you are) and many of us might be off on holiday. For me, that's a great chance to start chipping away at my ridiculously long To Be Read pile! But, maybe you're not as bad as me. Maybe you're wondering what to read...

Each month I try and share books with you that I've read and loved. Some of them might be bestsellers but most of them won't be. If you're looking for something to read, why not check out one of these?

These are what I have to share with you this month:

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Why do you need to like the protagonist?

Do you need to like the characters to like the book?
Actually, let's go back a step...

DO you need to like the protagonist in a book?

The reason I'm asking is because I was speaking at a book group the other week and we had a fairly lively discussion about whether we ended up rating a book less highly if we didn't like the protagonist. I was firmly in the camp of not needing to like the protagonist to enjoy a book and to rate it highly; others around the table felt that if they didn't warm to the protagonist, they didn't enjoy the book and so didn't rate the book so highly.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Meet the Author: Lesley Kelly

Photo of Lesley Kelly
Lesley Kelly
This month's author is the fabulous Lesley Kelly. Lesley was a "Crime in the Spotlight" author at last year's Bloody Scotland and I recently caught up with her at the mini-meet-up in Edinburgh. Her first novel, A Fine House in Trinity was long-listed for the McIlvanney prize and her latest novel The Health of Strangers, is out this week. I'm delighted to be able to grill her!

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?
I was a definitely late starter – I was well into my thirties before I wrote anything.  On a whim, I wrote a short story for the Leith Festival Short Story competition in 2004, which I won.  And like a gambler who wins the first race he bets on, I was hooked…

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)
"A Fine House in Trinity" was the first novel I wrote and published.  The first draft of it bore the legacy of my brief stint as a stand up comedian; it was basically a string of jokes and set-pieces linked together with the slightest of plots.  I eventually got the hang of the other stuff – you know – characterisation, plotting, back story, all that kind of thing!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Just over a year ago...

...this happened!!

Launch of The Wrong Kind of Clouds at Waterstones in St Andrews

My first novel!
Stuart from Waterstones introducing me
Signing copies

I can't believe that was a year ago. A lot has happened in the year. My hair is shorter now for a start! I had a fantastic "Crime in the Spotlight" slot at Bloody Scotland, I've met all sorts of fabulous authors - both at Bloody Scotland and at Crime Writers Association lunches - and people have read my book and liked it!

It's been a fantastic year. Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me and supported me. Here's to many more!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Book finds: May 2017

It's time for my monthly Book Finds. Each month I showcase books that I've loved reading. Some of them might be best sellers, but the majority of them won't be.

This month, I seem to have read a number of books that I couldn't recommend 😞 so again, my selection for you is a bit thinner than I'd like!

This month's selection is:

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pen and paper? Or digital?

One of the questions I get asked quite frequently is whether I write my books by hand or directly on a computer. These questions obviously come from those people who don't know that I'm a complete stationery addict. In fact, I've had another blog for years on stationery: http://paperpensink.blogspot.co.uk/ (not updated as often as I'd like these days...).

I do a bit of both to be honest. Most of my planning - character notes, plotting, initial ideas about scenes are done on paper, usually in an A4 Clairefontaine notebook, using a fountain pen. I use a fountain pen because I have arthritis in my hands and with a fountain pen, you don't need to press hard to make the ink flow and therefore you don't need to grip the pen tightly either, making writing an altogether more fun experience than using a biro. Clairefontaine paper is glorious to write on and A4 gives me plenty of space to write, draw diagrams and mind-maps, paste in pictures of buildings, people, rooms, furniture etc. These A4 books end up as a bit of a scrap book for each book and I love looking back through them.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Spotlighter mini-meet-up

Last year, twelve of us were chosen to read a snippet from our books as 'support acts' for the famous people at "Bloody Scotland". The initiative was called "Crime in the Spotlight" and the twelve of us have referred to ourselves as The Spotlighters since then, and used the hashtag #TeamSpotlight on Twitter. It's been brilliant to keep in touch with everyone.

At the start of April, five of us managed to get together in Edinburgh for a mini-meet-up:

From L-R: Me, Stephen Watt, Jackie Baldwin, Lesley Kelly, Shelley Day
We met up at All Bar One at lunchtime. It was fantastic to catch up with everyone's news - where everyone was with writing, how they were getting on with their agent or publisher, discussing literary festivals etc. as well as hearing about life in general. There was a fabulous moment when Stephen was in the middle of telling us about how he had proposed to his fiancée and right at the crucial part, the waiter came in to take our order. I felt so sorry for the waiter because we were all desperate to hear the finale of Stephen's tale and chased the poor man away. He obviously forgave us though as he took the picture above for us.

All in all it was an excellent day. It was just a shame that all of us couldn't be there. Next time!

Thank you to "Bloody Scotland" for introducing us to each other and here's to long and successful friendships between us all.