May/August 2016I suppose the biggest news I have for you this month was the launch of my new historical crime thriller, Devil's Porridge, at the beginning of the month. It's been a long hard slog getting this book to publication, possibly because of the complexity of the plot, other things and other books getting in the way, and my own lack of confidence in being able to write this book. The idea for this story planted itself in the writers part of my brain away back in 2008, before I ever had a book published. However, in 2009 I was knocked off course by winning the Dundee International Book Prize, and the publication of Dead Wood, which changed my focus to writing the Dundee Crime Series. Three books later I started to think about Devil's Porridge again, but I already had a book written featuring the main character Kirsty Campbell although this book needed a substantial rewrite to make it fit to publish. But I reckoned I could get it to readers faster than writing Devil's Porridge, so I worked on that one. I was right about the time element because I think I've taken two years to write Devil's Porridge, whereas most of my books only took one year. You'll find a description of Devil's Porridge, and the first chapter for you to read, in the Books menu tag at the top of this page.
Other news since I last wrote to you includes Crimefest in May which was brilliant as always. And, of course, a chance to catch up with my family in Bristol although, sadly, this year my mother wasn't there because she passed away last year at the grand old age of 101 well lived years. I also attended several events during this period, including one with the theme of 'Fantasy' arranged by my own writers' group, Angus Writers' Circle, in collaboration with the SAW (Scottish Association of Writers). The other notable event was the one to Hospitalfield House which I arranged for the SOAiS (Society of Authors in Scotland) which was a brilliant success. There were several other SOA meetings and CWA lunches, all enjoyable. And lastly, I want to mention a visit to the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld, to check out the suitability of this as a venue for the SOAiS conference in 2017. I must say I, and the two other committee members who were with me, were suitably impressed.
As we are only at the beginning of August there are several things still to come. There is the SOAiS AGM, followed by a lunch, in Edinburgh, and a CWA lunch the same week, probably followed by a visit to the Book Fair at the Edinburgh Festival. There is quite a buzz in Edinburgh at this time of year. The following week I have a full week of events travelling around Angus libraries, culminating in an event by The Dangerous Dames at Montrose library on the Saturday morning. And in case you haven't heard of the Dangerous Dames, that is a trio of crime writers who base their books in Dundee, and they are (drumroll) Chris Longmuir (me), Wendy H Jones and Jackie McLean. It should be a criminally good event.
I hope I have energy left after this month because September up until December is going to be incredibly busy. I have a full diary of events in Angus, Dundee, and London, so it's going to be a busy year.
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February/April 2016First of all, I want to apologise to anyone who tried to access my website last week, I had a major meltdown which made it inaccessible and after a lot of hair tearing and choice language I had to give up the attempt to repair it. After admitting defeat, something I never like to do, I deleted the system files and reinstalled completely new ones. As you can imagine, this was a lengthy process and my site was completely unavailable for the best part of a week. So, once again, apologies for that.
The beginning of the year is always a quiet time and I've been plodding on with my new book, a Kirsty Campbell one this time, but plodding is the word, although the end is almost in sight. This has been a difficult book to write due to the complexity of the characters and the plot, and there have been times when I thought it wasn't working, but then all authors experience that when writing a book, so I'm not alone.
In February, a visit to the Anatomical Museum in Edinburgh was interesting and I wrote a blog post about it if you are interested. If you click on Museum with a Macabre Twist it will take you to the post. And, of course, as I am now a committee member of the Society of Authors in Scotland, there were several committee meetings to attend during the first part of this year. I also continue to be a member of the online Authors Electric collective for which I provide a blog post once a month. They post a new blog post every day, and my day is the 19th of every month. With 29 authors posting to this site there's always something of interest to be found.
Then in March, I was booked to speak at the annual conference of the Scottish Association of Authors which is affectionately known as SAW. I adjudicated the self-published book competition, and it was quite a difficult task because the books submitted were all of a professional standard, indistinguishable from traditionally published books. The weekend was stimulating and I was able to enjoy the various speakers until it came time to present my own workshop which I called The Nuts and Bolts of Self-Publishing. It was well attended and the attendees were interested in my presentation, so much so that we overran by 15 minutes. But the highlight for me was the keynote speaker, Caro Ramsay, who had a poke at all the well-known writers there in her usual good-humoured way. When it was my time to be insulted she drew a brilliant picture of a zombie filled Dundee which came about 'the year that Chris went hybrid'. So, if you find any zombies in Dundee, it's all my fault. My blog post is titled The Dundee Mafia and the Year Chris went Hybrid if you're interested in having a look.
There were also a couple of book launches over the period. My good friends Mark Leggatt, and Wendy H Jones, published their new books, and of course, a couple of Crime Writers' Association (CWA) lunches. I love attending these. It lets me catch up with other Scottish authors, and the chat is always good.
So, now I need to catch my breath and continue writing the new book, hopefully, it won't be long now before it is finished. I'll see you again soon.
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December/January 2016My goodness where did last year go to? Here we are at the beginning of February and not a lot to show for it. Oh, the new book is progressing, but it's not galluping, more like a crawl. Any self-respecting snail could easily beat it in a race. I'm beginning to wonder how much more time I need before it passes the finish line. Mind you, the finish line is in sight. I'm within a whisker of writing 'The End'. But then there will be the revision, the rewriting, and the editing. Not an easy task. But then writing has never been an easy task, despite what most folk think. It takes a lot of sweat and tears to produce a readable story.
December, of course, is the run up to Christmas so there was a lot going on that is not writing related, unless you count the Christmas lunches. I had two writing related Christmas parties in December. The Society of Authors' Christmas party in Glasgow, and the Crime Writers Association one in Edinburgh. I won two prizes for the Christmas quizes at the CWA party, and went home with two boxes of shortbread instead of the box of choccies I was hoping for. There was a third Christmas party with Angus Writers' Circle, but I wasn't able to go to that one. My waistline thanked me for that.
Christmas day itself was spent with my son and daughter-in-law and grandson, as usual. Her mum was there and so was my granddaughter, Amy. The meal added another inch or two to my protesting waistline, but the highlight of the visit is always the games we play in the evening. It's great fun, with loads of shouts of cheating, and much merriment. New Year was quiet, again spent with my son and daughter-in-law, and suddenly we were in 2016, and 2015 was only a memory.
January slipped past almost unnoticed. It was there, and then it was gone. Maybe February will bring some activity. In the meantime I really do need to do something about my waistline.
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