Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Blog Has A New Home

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, I have moved the blog over to Wordpress.

The first post has gone up today. I'd love it if you joined me over there. I'd love to see you. Please check it out. Rebecca Bradley, Murder Down To A Tea. 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

7 X 7 Link Award


I've been nominated for this 7 x 7 award by fellow blogger Annalisa Crawford.

There are so many awards doing the rounds the blogosphere that I don't always put new ones up, but this one is interesting as it looks back over old posts, something I haven't really done and maybe should have.

Annalisa's is a great blog, she's very engaging, so she's worth popping over to say hello.




The idea of the award is to link to existing blog posts that fall into seven categories...

Most Beautiful Piece
What Bookshops do in the night. A beautiful post simply containing a youtube clip of what books do at night when you're asleep. It's wonderful to watch and I don't think I'd ever tire of it.

Most Helpful Piece
Goodreads - Save your books! A piece on the fact that Goodreads were losing a fraction of their images due to an Amazon decision. A lot of people weren't aware that they could go in to their Goodreads accounts and save their books.

Most Popular Piece
Crime Fiction. Finding the stats brought this out on top made my day. What a perfect post for this blog to be the most popular piece. It just shows me, I need to keep my blog, more on topic I think.

Most Controversial Piece
I'm not sure I really post controversy. I do try to stay away from it online. It's difficult to deal with as there is no body language or intonation to include.

Most Surprisingly Successful Piece
Broken. Surprisingly the day I claimed to have broken my own blog I managed to attract an awful lot of page views. I'm not really sure if people where there to commiserate or check it had really broken and I was done!

Most Underrated Piece
I think you can go back and pick any of the first blog posts on anyones blog. Everyone feels as though they are talking to themselves. It's tough to feel as though you are getting going, but fully worth it when you do.

Most Pride-Worthy Piece
If you were murdered in your home. I loved this question and the way it drew people in and then made them think.

And now I'm going to choose seven people to tag...

Rosalind Adam at Writing in the Rain

Pat Newcombe at Thriller Writers Blog

Julie Flanders at What Else is Possible

Lynn Proctor at My Life

Glynis Smy at Author of Historical Romance/Suspense

Patricia Lynn at My Journey Through The Pages

Linda at Excuse Me While I Note That Down

Feel free not to take part if you've done it already or simply don't want to!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Author Interview - Mari Hannah


Last Year, at Harrogate Crime writing festival, I had the pleasure of meeting the very lovely and sweet, Mari Hannah and becoming friends with her. This year saw the release of her first UK novel, The Murder Wall, so I thought I'd invite her over and give her a slight grilling - erm, I mean, interview. 







Image by Alexander James


Welcome to the blog, it's so great to finally have you here. 

The Murder Wall is your debut novel, recently released. I’ve read it, and loved it. I have reviewed it on Amazon, just prior to putting this post up, but it's not up yet. Amazon seem slow tonight, it should be soon though! Where did the inspiration for the book come from and what drove you to actually start writing it?

Hello! Thank you for inviting me to your blog. 

There wasn't one single incident, experience or idea that inspired The Murder Wall. I wanted a theme that would show the personality of my protagonist, DCI Kate Daniels. I chose divided loyalties - a subject that has always fascinated me - because it places people in impossible situations. In this book, Kate's personal and professional lives collide. I pushed her to the limit and she came out fighting.

I began writing after a very serious wrist injury ended my career as a Probation Officer. Following surgery, I was unable to write with a pen and I began tapping away on a computer in order to get my right hand working again. I never stopped.

A probation officer! What a great job and I imagine, extremely helpful in understanding criminal offending behaviour and the investigation processes. 

It was a great job. To be perfectly honest, it was always my second choice of career. What I really wanted to be was a police officer. But my kids were young and, as a single parent, I couldn’t cope with shifts. Now I am a police officer, but only in my head!

You’re right though, being a Northumbria Probation Officer did give me insight into criminal behaviour. I’ve always been interested in psychology and this was one of the subjects I studied as a Home Office sponsored student. I’ve worked with offenders – both inside and outside of prison – with sentences ranging from Absolute Discharge to Life. People offend for all sorts of reasons. Part of my role was to unpick these and put forward strategies for not falling into the same trap again. I do believe in rehabilitation. If I didn’t, I couldn’t have done the job. I think we all have the capacity to change. The question is: do we really want to?

Did you find yourself drawing from people you had come across to create the characters in The Murder Wall? If so, which character should we be looking at more closely?

No. Thankfully I’ve never worked with a serial killer. Or maybe I should qualify that, I don’t think I have. Every writer incorporates their experience into their work in some form or other but it would be totally inappropriate to base a fictional character on a real offender in order to entertain others. That is not to say there aren’t passages in my novels that don’t come close to the truth of my own experience working with serious offenders. For example, a sex offender once made a veiled threat to harm my children, a terrifying prospect for any mother to face. I used this experience – the way it made me feel – in book four (Monument to Murder) where a female professional faces a similar fate.

If not, do you have a set idea of the type of characters you want to set up together? 
 
DCI Kate Daniels’ backstory is an important part of The Murder Wall. I wanted to create a situation where readers would see what she’s really made of. I thought of the worst thing that could happen to her and then I piled on the pressure to see how she’d react. I gave her an unsolved case she was desperate to solve, then another murder which also happened to be her first case as Senior Investigation Officer, her dream job after years of hard work. Then I threw a sinister killer into the mix. I’m very hard on her. So far, she hasn’t disappointed me.

How does your characterisation work?

To create a good drama whether on TV or in books you need conflict. You also need an antagonist to match your protagonist. They have to be equally committed to their cause. In The Murder Wall, the killer is on a mission and so is Kate. It’s a battle of wills which ramps up the tension as the story progresses. It keeps readers turning the pages.

You obviously know a lot about the subject matter you write about and you know what you want out of your story. One question that always hovers around in my mind, in relation to crime authors, is the background debate regarding crime authors and gender. Some people don't believe women can write good crime fiction, or not as good as the blokes anyway. I know my thoughts on that. If anything, what do you see as the difference between male and female crime writers?

I’d take issue with that – well I would do, wouldn't I? There are some fantastic and very successful female crime writers around. I could name names, but a glance at the bestsellers lists will prove my point. Obviously, men and women approach their work from different perspectives, but it’s the quality of their efforts that counts. ­I really don’t believe that gender comes into it at all. There’s a huge appetite for crime fiction out there. Writers across the board work very hard to satisfy demand. It’s all about engaging with readers. Whether you’re writing so-called ‘cosy’ crime or something much darker than that, it’s the ability to create interesting characters and tell a good story that is the measure of a good book.  

It’s obvious a lot of work goes into your books. What does the writing routine look like for Mari Hannah?

I’m very disciplined. I have to be or the work just wouldn’t get done. I’m also a meticulous planner. When I have an idea for a new book, I write it down in a couple or three sentences. I then blow it up into a much longer document, anything between ten and twenty pages long. I work on that until I’m satisfied that I have all the story beats and plot points in the right order. After that, I search for visual references, make site visits, take photographs, that sort of thing. That may involve visiting the same place several times, day and night, before I feel I’ve nailed the setting enough to be able to write about it. You get so much more when you visit a place than if you sit at a computer and rely purely on the Internet. Setting is very important and it’s good to talk to local people.

The way I write sounds very prescriptive but it isn’t at all. It would scare me to death to write blind. Plans can change. Having an outline doesn’t mean there’s no room for manoeuvre. My outline acts like a road map: I may occasionally hit a diversion but, because I know the final destination, I can always find my way back. Barring any disasters, I write every day and I don’t stop until I have finished. I edit as I go, so when I reach the end the novel is of a high enough standard to show to my agent. Then I hold my breath . . .    

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read to unwind?

I unwind by not reading in the evening if I can help it. I have a partner who spends a lot of time alone supporting me while I write. My evenings are reserved for her. That said, I’m sitting here now at 10:10pm typing away. Sometimes, it’s necessary to do that and she’s very understanding. Since I joined Twitter I’ve been guilty of opening up the iPad and joining friends for a chat, especially if I’ve not had a chance to catch up during the day. I do read in bed though most nights, usually until I fall asleep. Consequently, it takes me ages to finish a book. It’s mainly crime I read, a debut author if I can find one. I took Elizabeth Haynes’ Into the Darkest Corner on holiday and couldn’t put it down.  
  
I know since the release of The Murder Wall, you’ve had a hectic schedule, so much so, you answered some of these questions from a beach when you were supposed to be on holiday! What does the next week hold for you?
On the evening of Thursday 14th June, I’m taking part in a Crime on Tour event at Newcastle Central Library organised by Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. This year they are celebrating their tenth anniversary by taking ‘New Blood’ out on the road to crime fiction fans, ahead of the festival itself which takes place in July in Harrogate. Danielle Ramsay and I will be interviewed by Ann Cleeves and I’m delighted to have been one of the authors chosen for this.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. It’s been great to have you here and I look forward to hearing all about Thursday.

Thanks for having me, Rebecca. It’s been a real pleasure. Good luck with your own writing. See you in Harrogate!

You can find Mari in any of the following places;

Amazon - Check out my review once it clears, it really is a great book and worth checking out!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

My Dream Of You - DJ Kirkby


Today see's the launch of, My Dream Of You, a novel by, Portsmouth Writer in Residence, Denyse Kirkby. 

My Dream Of You has been published as an eBook by Punked Books and is available on Amazon UK for £1.53 and Amazon US for £2.40.

Denyse is throwing an online launch party and has some great prizes to give away over on her blog as well as a great book to read!

Everyone who leaves a ‘pick me’ comment on the MDOY online launch party blog post, and / or shares the post from her Facebook author page  and / or Tweets using the #MDOY hashtag making sure to copy @djkirkby  in gets their name entered into a draw for the following prizes:

     1. A Bothams of Whitby champagne afternoon tea hamper custom made for the My Dream of You launch party. The contents of hamper are:

Apricot & Orange Teabread

Butter Rice Madeira Cake

Butter Syrup Tea Biscuits

Apricot and Almond Jam 8oz

Resolution Tea Box 80 bags

Small wooden tray

750ml bottle of Fratelli Berlucchi (2006) Brut

                           A limited edition (signed) paperback copy of MDOY.
(unfortunately this prize open to UK entrants only due to complications with posting all the contents of this hamper to other countries)
  1. One of five limited edition (signed) paperback copies of MDOY (open to worldwide entrants).
  2. A character named after you in my next novel (open to worldwide entrants).
  3. One of 15 MDOY fridge magnets (open to worldwide entrants).

Names can only be entered until midnight on June 5th and the winner will be announced on Denyse's blog on Sunday June 11th.

My Dream Of You

Blurb:
Crime of passion or cruel twist of fate?
One summer’s day Betty let love carry her a step too far. That exquisite sun dappled afternoon became one of her best memories but also the catalyst for the worst experience of her life. Now elderly, Betty has been running from her past since she was a teenager, and it’s about to catch up with her. Will the experience be as awful as she fears or wonderful beyond imagining?

Praise for My Dream Of You:
“D.J. Kirkby writes with compassion and energy, creating characters you can really care about.” Sarah Salway (Canterbury Poet Laureate)

"Evocatively written, My Dream of You is an absorbing read filled with interesting characters, plot twists, and emotion." Talli Roland, bestselling author of Build a Man

“A tale of motherhood, of hope and of love. Truly touching” Caroline Smailes, author of 99 Reasons Why


DJ Kirkby:
Denyse lives in the South of England in a house otherwise filled with males - husband, boys and pets - she writes to escape the testosterone.
She is the author of Without Alice, My Dream of You, and her book Special Deliveries which is currently with her agent.

You can find Denyse in the following places;






All that I can say, is, I wish you an amazing day Denyse and much success with My Dream Of You!

Congratulations on Launch day!


Friday, 1 June 2012

Spring Is In The Air


Okay, it may actually, officially, be summer now, I'm not sure to be honest, but I'm feeling the spring clean love. Love in the way of my writing career that is, lets not be too hasty and start putting mops, buckets and hoovers in my hands please.

Anyway, after a bit of a lull and an energy sapped couple of months, I'm feeling the need to re-invest in everything that is to do with my aim for a writing career. So with that in mind, I came up with a list of things I needed to address. These are a few of them;


  • I need a new, more professional looking profile picture.
  • I need a domain name.
  • I need some business cards for when I attend Harrogate Crime Writing Festival in July.
  • I need a new laptop - Yes I do! It will actually help me become more productive. I promise. 
  • I want an online space that looks professional and represents who I am and what I write.
  • I would like to blog on a regular basis, be that even once a week, just regularly, so people can find me.
  • Oh, yes, I need to make sure I find time to write more.

This morning I made a start on the list. 

I have bought my own domain name. It doesn't currently point anywhere and as rebeccabradleydotcom is taken, I have bought rebeccabradleycrime.com

I have ordered myself that new laptop. I am serious about it helping me become more productive. My old laptop is about 7 years old and feels like it takes an hour to wind up so I am loath to turn it on. My desktop in the living room has the most hard uncomfortable seat in front of it, so at the end of the working day, I tend not to spend any time on it. With a new laptop, I can work in comfort where ever I park myself and can maybe put up a blog post or turn out 500 words on my current work in progress. 

The third decision taken this morning was that, I am going to change my blog. I think it needs freshening up and tidying up, so I have registered with Wordpress and will attempt to get something up on there. This may or may not work out, but it's something I need to look at so I'm in a position to make a decision. 

So, I have made a start and you should hopefully see gradual changes over the coming weeks, especially when that new laptop arrives! 

Friday, 18 May 2012

Book Crossing

Yesterday I was talking books with a colleague at work and she mentioned something called book crossing. After she explained what it was, I was amazed, as a book lover, that I had never heard of it. I was also surprised, that when I tweeted the question, had anyone heard of book crossing, there was a deadly silence. 


So armed with a little knowledge, I looked up Bookcrossing and I am in LOVE with it!


Here are some of the things they say about it on their website, which explains what bookcrossing is and how it works. 



"Step 1. Label
Register your book and get a unique BookCrossing ID.

This BCID allows you to follow your specific book wherever it goes. Think of it as a passport enabling your book to travel the world without getting lost!"






"Step 2. Share
Now it’s time to pass it on!

Release it into the wild. Referred to as the "wild release" (and loved by so many BookCrossers), this type of sharing is a bit like nudging a baby bird out of the nest or sending your kid off to college. Your book doesn’t want to spend its life on your shelf gathering dust; it wants to get out there and touch lives! So leave your labeled book on a park bench on a summer day, in a train station, on the table in your favorite coffee shop -- anywhere it’s likely to be caught by another delighted reader. Then come back and read about your book’s new adventures!"





"Step 3. Follow
See where in the world your book goes, and who reads it!

Once you’ve labeled and shared it, follow your book’s adventures.




When another reader finds your book, they can enter the BCID on BookCrossing.com and report that it’s been caught. Journal entries about your book allow you to see where your book is, who's reading it now, and follow where it goes next. Some books tend to stay in one region while others really move! Your book may touch the life of a reader you never would've met, or it may just circulate among your friends.
At the time of this writing, over 850,000 active BookCrossers have collectively registered almost seven million books which are traveling around 130 countries! Imagine the world of opportunities for your book once you've labeled and shared it."

This sounds absolutely wonderful and I for one will be signing up. Imagine going on holiday and leaving a book behind, then seeing where it goes off to next. What an absolutely wonderful idea. Not only sharing books, but seeing them travel. Who else likes the look of this?!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Recently Read - The Dispatcher


The Dispatcher by Ryan David Jahn. 

The Blurb - 

The phone rings. It's your daughter. She's been dead for four months.

So begins East Texas police dispatcher Ian Hunt's fight to get his daughter back. The call is cut off by the man who snatched her from her bedroom seven years ago, and a basic description of the kidnapper is all Ian has to go on. What follows is a bullet-strewn cross-country chase from Texas to California along Interstate 10- a wild ride in a 1965 Mustang that passes through the outlaw territory of No Country for Old Men and is shot through with moments of macabre violence that call to mind the novels of Thomas Harris.

What I Thought - 

I loved this book! It has the feel of a spit on your boots, down and dirty, old American era. A feel I didn't really think I would be able to get in to, but one I found it impossible not to get dragged right down into the grit of.

With The Dispatcher you're taken on a journey with Ian Hunt, a man who pushes himself to the limit to find his little girl. A child he never truly believed was lost to him. Throughout, he never gives up hope and Hunt goes to extremes he never would have considered if his little girl hadn't have been at risk. I found myself questioning how far would I actually go to find my own child should she be in such a position. Jahn plays it so well, that you can't help but be dragged along with what is happening. If you want to really feel a story while you read, I would heartily suggest this book.

David Ryan Jahn will be at Theakstons Crime Writing Festival this year and I can't wait to pick up another of his books and get it signed. I will now be purchasing everything he releases. I'm a new and massive fan. This book is great buy and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The 2012 A to Z Challenge Reflections Post


This week is the time when all A to Z blogging participants get to reflect on how they thought their challenge month went. 

 For anyone still unsure on what this challenge was, it was a challenge, set by Lee at Tossing It Out, where we post every day but on a Sunday during the month of April, and the posts have to be topic related alphabetical. A great challenge to meet new bloggers as this particular challenge had well over 1,000 participants. 

The key to what this involves is in the word - challenge. And for me this year, it was just that. I managed only 15 posts. I'm not sure whether that entitles me to reflect or not. I had some health issues halfway through and had to take care of myself and stop. I wasn't happy about it as I really quite enjoy the experience of meeting new bloggers and finding new and interesting blogs to follow. 

 One thing I did take out of the experience is that I need to start planning for this well in advance. The main idea is to visit new blogs and boost fellow bloggers followers numbers. If you're busy writing posts during the month, then you lose the interaction time. I would fully suggest if you intend to take part next year, that you write all 26 posts before the month starts. I know that sounds like a feat in itself, but I think it would be well worth it. You would/I will, get more out of the month. 

 The other thing I would say on the challenge, is in relation to a comment I read on Laura Marcella's blog, Wavy Lines, about having categories in the list of participants. I think this is a great idea. I want to connect with fellow writers, readers and generally chatty people. I'd be less interested in a knitting blog, car blog or snake blog for instance and with this challenge, you get many and all joining as it's such a great thing to engage in. Having categories would make it easier to get through, comment and follow more blogs. You can also check out new area's of blogs if you want to. 

 All in all I do love the month of April and the A to Z and I hope I haven't broken any rules by reflecting on only half a month!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Launch - Ripper, My Love

Today, a blogger friend, writer/poet, Glynis Smy adds author/novelist to her name. Her debut novel; Ripper, My Love, is launched in ebook format and paperback. The genre for this love story falls into the one of Historical Romance Suspense.


Growing up in late nineteenth century East London, Kitty Harper’s life is filled with danger and death – from her mother, her beloved neighbour and the working women of the streets.

With her ever-watchful father and living surrogate family though, Kitty feels protected from harm. In fact, she feels so safe that while Whitechapel cowers under the cloud of a fearsome murderer, she strikes out on her own, moving into new premises to accommodate her sewing business.

But danger is closer than she thinks. In truth, it has burrowed itself right into her heart in the form of a handsome yet troubled bachelor, threatening everything she holds dear. Will Kitty fall prey to lust – and death – herself, or can she find the strength inside to fight for her business, sanity and her future? And who is the man terrifying the streets of East London?


Who is Glynis Smy?

Glynis was born and raised in England, in the coastal town of Dovercourt, near the port of Harwich (where the captain of the Mayflower lived). After qualifying as a nurse, she married her school friend, and they produced three children. During her rare quiet moments, she wrote poetry and articles for magazines. In 2005 she and her husband emigrated to Cyprus for a new life in the sun. It was here that Glynis lay down her cross stitch and started making writing friends on the Internet. With their support and encouragement she shared her poetry, and was successful in a few contests. She shared a short story with a friend, who wrote back telling her it was worthy of becoming a novel, and not to waste the premise upon a brief plot. The story is the one being launched today. Glynis found her love of writing 19th Century, historical romances and her second novel, Maggie's Child, will be published at the end of 2012.

Aside from writing and Cross stitch, Glynis enjoys creating greetings cards, and sells them to raise funds for a small hospice in Cyprus. One of her pleasures is to sit on the back porch with a glass of wine, and reflect upon her good life. She can often be heard chatting to new characters urging her forward.

Her desire to pay back those who had supported her is realised in a blog designed specifically to promote the books of others: New Book Bloggerhttp://newbookblogger.blogspot.com/. You can find her personal writing blog at www.glynissmy.com. Glynis finds the community spirit of writers on Facebook a valuable one.

Want to purchase a copy?  Launch day price for the Kindle is 99c/77p!





Monday, 23 April 2012

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

I'm sorry to say that this is my last post as part of the April A to Z Challenge. I really wanted to complete it all this year without missing any days but it's proved more difficult than I anticipated. I love the challenge and I love meeting new bloggers and finding new blogs to read, but circumstances have taken control.

Last year I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS as it's known for short. POTS is an autonomic disorder which means that everything my body is supposed to do automatically, it doesn't always do. It's a secondary disorder to the Ehlers Danlos hypermobility, which means it's not likely to get any better. My body isn't particularly good at pumping the blood back up my body when I'm standing. Though it was only diagnosed last year, I have been living and dealing with the symptoms for the majority of my life. The main issue for me at the minute though is the lack of sleep. My body doesn't appear to be able to switch off. I'm literally living on two to four hours sleep a night.

I saw the cardiac clinic nurse today and we're changing some of my tablets to see if they help, but first I have to be weaned off the ones I'm on. This means that my sleep won't improve for at least another two weeks while I come off the tablets that aren't working.

I am being affected by this disorder quite badly at the minute, but in comparison to some sufferers, I live a full and "normal" life. Working full time in a busy job and having a life with my family. I won't give in to this, I will take what I need to so that I can keep functioning. I have dreams and aspirations and I won't let this disability define who I am, but I will discuss it occasionally because it's real and there's no harm in raising awareness for invisible disabilities. This isn't a soap box I'm standing on, but a bit of honesty for how things are right now.

So due to this lack of sleep and an unforeseen hectic work schedule, blogging every day is an impossibility. I have loved taking part for the first part of the month I managed and next year I will attempt to plan better and have the majority of posts written, but for now, I have to bow out. For those still going, have a great last week or so!

I will still keep blogging, just not to an every day schedule.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Pinterest And The Queen's Jubliee

Yes, I know, I'm failing miserably at this A to Z challenge. Honestly though, work has been so much more hectic and demanding than it usually is and it's leaving me too exhausted to write blog posts when I get home. Excuses, excuses.

Today though, is the first in four days off, so I fully intend to catch up, so here are posts P and Q.

Pinterest.

Have you checked out Pinterest yet? I have recently joined and I am officially addicted. When I first joined, I didn't think I would be. Pinning pictures on to virtual cork-boards and that's it? What is to get addicted about?

Pretty pictures! Idea's! Recipes!

I have several boards up and running now. One of which is my bucket list - obviously in image format. It's brilliant - look!                                                              

Another board I have that is actually useful is my Food and Drink Board. I actually made a homemade malteser cheesecake simply because I found it on Pinterest. I also made Turkish Delight Vodka, which I have to tell you, was delightful.

The other boards I have are Because I love the imagery. Beautiful places and simply beautiful pictures. If you're on there, look me up. My link is in the right   hand bar of the blog. If you're not, give it a try and see if you can stop yourself being sucked in to it!                                                                                       adamschallau.photoshelter.com


Queen's Golden Jubilee. 

On Sunday the 3rd of June, Queen Elizabeth celebrates sixty years on the throne. That's a long time and she must have seen some massive changes in the country in that time and is a part of a great history.

Our street has decided we are going to throw a street party. I was really surprised that people were up for it to be honest, but it's being planned with real enthusiasm. Plans are afoot for bunting, Hog roast, bouncy castles and discos on the street. It really sounds like it will be great fun and a fantastic opportunity to get to know the neighbours a little better. It's something I didn't expect to see in our modern times, but now it's happening, I can't wait. I will take photos and let you know how it went. I'm hoping for sunshine. Maybe that's asking a bit too much?

Are you doing anything that day?








Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Online File Storage

I was wondering recently about online storage and if it has a place in my work with writing. I wondered how many people use it, and if they do, what their thoughts were on it.

In an age when we often possess more than one computer in the home and have the ability to take one with us t on, online storage seems a perfect solution.

One such storage company I have heard about is Dropbox. It says what it does on the tin. You drag and drop your documents/photographs into the box/file and can open it anywhere you so choose, through dropbox.



The good points? You can save your work where-ever you are and when-ever you want. A certain amount of space is free. If your computer goes bang, the file is safe.

The downside? I've read amongst their terms and conditions, that everything placed within drop box is the property of dropbox. Now I'm not sure how that works for writers, or anyone else for that matter. I have a feeling that it is just a legal phrase that isn't enforced or actioned in anyway. It does make me a little nervous though.

I have only used dropbox as an example because it's the one I've heard people say good things about. There are many similar facilities out there. Do you use such a facility and what are your thoughts, good or bad on it? The way forward or a fragile piece of nothingness?

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Mari Hannah

Ok, so I've officially failed to complete the A to Z challenge as it was set out. Due to a busy week, I didn't post Friday or Saturday. This means I'm missing out the letter L and posting M on a Sunday. Even though I have technically failed, I am going to continue posting and visiting fellow blogging participants.



Today, M is for Mari Hannah. An absolutely lovely crime writer I had the pleasure of meeting at last years Harrogate crime writing festival and have caught up with a few times since.


Last week saw the release of her debut crime novel, The Murder Wall, in the UK. I haven't had chance to read the book yet, but I am really looking forward to reading it. This isn't a recommendation of a book I've read, but it is a recommendation to check out Mari's website and read the blurb if you are a crime fiction reader. The book has a fabulous cover and Mari has ten years experience as a probation officer to support her knowledge of the world of criminals.









The Murder Wall has been described by one of the country's top crime writers, Peter James, as "Brutal and engaging. Mari Hannah writes with a sharp eye and a dark heart."

You can find Mari on her website Mari Hannah.com

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Keeping It Short

In the spirit of completing a blog post every day for the A to Z challenge this post is a bit of a cheat -

The suggestion for blog posts during this month is to keep posts short, so....

Are you keeping it short?


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

James Patterson

Well, this is the tenth day of the April A to Z challenge and we're on the letter J. I did attempt to be organised and wrote a few posts ahead of time, but this one is just being thrown together as I'm unprepared and short of time due to long hours and odd shifts at work this week. I apologise if I'm not getting back to visiting everyone very quickly, but I fully intend to catch up and pop by and see you all.

How is everyone finding the challenge this year?

Anyway, back to J. James Patterson is a US crime writer I love. Particularly his Alex Cross novels. I've read them all from the beginning and following characters through years of books is something I really enjoy. I love to see the life changes and how this affects them and their relationships. Alex Cross has had a particularly rough ride as you can imagine the protagonist of a crime series, to have had. I'm surprised he's still standing and sane!

What I like about these books are the short chapters and quick movement. One chapter ending draws you immediately into wanting to read the next and I can't stop turning the pages. Some people believe he writes very formulaic and don't particularly like his books because of this, but he's a massive seller and a lot of people love his books, me included. I don't care if he has the formula down to pat. He keeps me turning the pages, it's not taxing on my brain and I love getting drawn in to an easy, enjoyable, fast read.

Another thing about Jame Patterson, is he is actively employed in encouraging reading in children and has a great website - Read Kiddo Read. So no matter what you think of his books, he has a genuine love of reading and writing and what's not to love about that?

Who do you read that has you turning the pages nearly faster than you can finish the page?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

If - Rudyard Kipling

I heard this poem being read out a short time ago and loved it and loved what it represented so I thought I'd share it here.

If
Rudyard Kipling


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


Is there a poem that you love, that just strikes that chord with you and if so, what is it?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival

On the 19th July I am heading to Harrogate for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival. It's a four day event held in The Swan, a beautiful hotel in Harrogate.

This year it is being organised by author of the Tom Thorne series, among other stand alones, crime writer Mark Billingham. There is a whole host of other well known writers lined up to chat and talk about a subject many of us love, crime fiction.

Among those listed for the event are Jo Nesbo, Harlan Coben, Peter James, John Connolly and Ian Rankin. I could list them all for you, but I fear it would be a rather long blog post. If you want to check out this massive event, check the website Here.

I attended this great long weekend last year and I came away ready to book for this year as I enjoyed it so much. I met some wonderful people I'm honoured to now call friends and I listened to some inspirational crime writers talk about their craft. Afterwards I was enthused and bursting with energy for my own work.

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival is for all fans of crime fiction, whether writers, readers or bloggers. It really is one of the most friendly welcoming events I have been to and I hope to be able to go for years to come.

I didn't do a very good job blogging about the event last year, but I definitely intend to try harder this year. There will be so many great things to share.

Have you been to any similar events and if so, how do you find them?


Saturday, 7 April 2012

Grim Reaper

When I thought of the title for this post, I was thinking of the Grim reaper in the form of death. A perfect discussion considering I write crime fiction and murder. It wasn't until I actually started reading about the Grim reaper that I realised what a massive subject it actually its. It's far too long and complex to go into a comprehensive discussion on an A to Z challenge blog post which are meant to be short so people can get through them and on to the next blogger. See here if you are unaware what the A to Z challenge is.

The Grim Reaper has a solid history, but it also has it's differences depending on culture and religion which play big parts in what people perceive the Reaper to be.

It's natural for humans to be concerned about the unknown and what could be more unknown than death itself. A place people never return from, so no solid accounts are available on what happens at point of death. We needed a face. Someone to be there to guide us through the experience. Initially the people who were with us at the point of death were Valkyries, females with friendly faces who guided us to Valhalla.

It wasn't until the great plague that death took the dark form that we now commonly associate with death, the Grim Reaper with his dark clothing, skeletal face and large scythe. A brutal horrific time to live through so not surprising that death came in such a dark form.

So, does the fact that my victims face a brutal death mean they also face the Grim reaper, or, as I'd like to hope, they paid their price in the story, so a friendly face is the one to guide them through death, whatever that may be?


Friday, 6 April 2012

Facebook



Social networking is a phenomena. When I was a teenager, I didn't own a computer or mobile phone. We relied on landline telephones to keep in touch and the ability of our feet to walk to the distance to the people we wanted to talk with.

Now it's a different ball game altogether. We can reach people we would never have otherwise had a conversation with. We can connect with people from far away with similar interests and we can develop friendships that are real.

Facebook seems to have had the monopoly over the social networking world at the minute, but I'm not convinced it will stay that way. Details on my favourite networks to come in later posts. I am still using Facebook though and you can't deny it reaches an awful lot of people. It's reach is wide and it's users active.

If you're on Facebook, lets connect there as well here. Clicking HERE will take you to my personal Facebook account not a writer page or suchlike. I'm not a huge timeline hog. I blog more than I Facebook, but if you want to connect on there, feel free to add me.

I hope you're having a great A to Z month so far!



Thursday, 5 April 2012

Easter

This coming weekend is Easter weekend. A time when the big white bunny with the floppy ears creeps (or is that hops?) into your home and leaves big chocolaty eggs covered in pretty shiny wrapping, for the kids in the house.

The problem is I have a slight addiction to egg shaped chocolate. Yes, I'm a chocoholic anyway, but make it egg shaped and I can't say no. I've been doing really well on my diet recently and I've lost half a stone in the last six weeks. come Sunday though, I will turn into a demented egg drooler, resorting to secretly breaking bits off the childrens eggs if the bunny doesn't fetch me my own.

What food drives you to distraction and will you be indulging this Easter?


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Dance Like No One Is Watching


Dance like no one is watching refers to the fact that we shouldn't worry about what others think of us, we should just live our life and live it well. 

I love this quote. It's simple but it says a lot. I found it particularly relevant a couple of years ago when I was approaching an age with a number I have no intention of mentioning again! Anyway, I decided I needed to do the things I wanted to do. I needed to push myself, if I didn't try, the dreams would never come true. So now I try and I keep trying. I started and finished my first book. I try to enjoy myself without putting things off for another day. OK, I may occasionally put the more difficult things off for another day. But the point is, I'm not putting them off permanently. I'm trying to live in the moment and it's going quite well. I don't want to get to an age where I look back and wish I done various things I had the chance to do, but didn't. 

I tend not to dance in front of others as I have the rhythm of a dancing frog, but I do like the quote. 

What are you doing that has you dancing like no one is watching?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Crime Fiction

I love crime fiction. From a young age I read investigative mysteries for children such as Enid Bltyons Famous Five and Secret Seven and then moved on the Nancy Drew. From there it was the more adult crime with Agatha Christie. I'm not sure what draws me in to it, but drawn I am.

Crime fiction doesn't have to be all gore and slashery. There are so many sub headings in the crime literary world that there is a book for everyone. You can get cosy crime, psychological crime, police procedural, legal thrillers and even historical crime.




I had a discussion last week with someone who told me the book, Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson wasn't a crime book simply because it was very psychological. The book actually won the Crime Writers Association John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger, so it definitely falls within the category crime.







I've been blogging for just over a year now and I don't know how many of my fellow bloggers read crime. I'd love to hear your views and thoughts. Are you an all out crime lover, an occasional crime reader, someone who didn't realise they were maybe reading crime, or a reader who just can't pick up that genre at all?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Books - Organising The Bookcase

Today I thought I'd share a great little clip of a couple who recorded a movement of books around their bookcase. I love it. It's not very long and worth a look.


Sunday, 1 April 2012

A to Z Blogging Starts!




Today I start on the A to Z blogging challenge. The brainchild of Arlee Bird over at Tossing it Out. To complete the challenge you have to post a blog post every day other than Sundays (But include today as it's the first of April) and all posts have to be alphebetised. You can find all details and extra info, over at Lee's blog or by clicking on the above image which will take you to the A to Z blog. 

A has to be the easiest subject post decision to make. I'm sure many of us are using this as our starting post.

I'm looking forward to blogging this month and to meeting new bloggers. I hope to be able to get around to as many bloggers as I can, though I couldn't possibly catch the entire number of people who have signed up to this brilliant blogging challenge.

If you are new to Life in Clarity, through the challenge, I warmly welcome you and I would love to see you again when all this madness has died down.

If you're a regular follower, I'm glad you're still stopping by as I attempt this challenge. I will of course, try and keep all posts relevant to the tone the blog usually runs at and I apologise if the posts get a little off key as my mind melts down at the shear size of this feat I'm attempting to complete. I do hope to continue to see you at the other end of this month.

So... it's the A to Z challenge... Lets get blogging!

Monday, 26 March 2012

If You Were Murdered In Your Home


Sleep isn't coming easily to me still, so my posts are appearing few and far between. I'm sorry for not keeping up with people very well lately. I know I have to try and get my head into gear as the A to Z April challenge is less than a week away and I'm signed up for doing it.

Anyway, to todays post. I was watching a crime drama on the television a few days ago and it brought a question to my mind. The scene involved the murder of a young woman in her home and officers in attendance were going through her life to get a feel for who she was. Conjecture and assumptions were made as well as facts from evidence found.



If you were found murdered in the place you live, your home, people you didn't know would be entering your private space. Those people would be police and crime scene investigators. And while they're in your personal living space, as the victim, they want to know an awful lot about you and your life.

What you have on your shelves, food in the refrigerator, hidden items long forgotten shoved in drawers. What secrets are you hiding? Why did someone enter to kill?

From my home, they would see I like books, writing - piles of printed out manuscripts I used for editing, and I'm not the healthiest of eaters.

What conclusions would a police investigator make of your home if they had the unfortunate chance to do this.

What do you think the people investigating and going through your things, would think of you?


Saturday, 17 March 2012

Home Made Cheesecake.

Firstly I must apologise for my lack of posts. I've been exhausted. I think my Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is playing up and I have barely been sleeping. And when I say not sleeping, I mean two hours sleep a night, then wide awake and alert. After a day at work this tends to make me lethargic and doesn't leave me a lot of energy for blogging, so I apologise. I'm hoping to be getting on top of it shortly. Fingers crossed.

Anyway. On to something more interesting. I'm not the most domesticated person I know, in fact I'd probably go as far as to say I'm the least domesticated person I know. And yet, today, I found myself making Malteser cheesecake from scratch. Not a packet mix in sight. It even tasted devine. I think I'm in danger of becoming a domestic goddess. Though that could be going a bit far in all my excitement.

Have you tried to do something recently that you haven't tried before? How did it go?

I leave you with aforementioned cheesecake to drool over. :)






EDIT: To say, you can find the recipe Here. Just scroll through the page of different cheescakes until you find this one.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Tagged


I was recently Tagged by Gwen at Fulfilling Dreams. I have to answer 11 questions she has personally set, so get you get to learn a little bit more about the person behind the blog. (Feel free to run and hide if that fills you with dread.) After I have answered Gwens questions I have to Tag some other bloggers and ask a new set of questions. So here goes. 

    1) Star Trek or Star Wars, and why?
    Though I loved both, I will probably have to go with Star Wars. I'm a sucker for Han Solo

    2) What book are you most excited about being released soon?
    A friend of mine, Mari Hannah is releasing her first crime novel in April called The Murder Wall. I can't wait to read it!

    3) What childhood franchise do you wish would be rebooted?
    My wishes would probably all be food related, specifically sweets and there does seem to have been a reboot of the old type of sweets recently. Things such as Kop Kops and Kola cubes.

    4) How long have you been blogging?
    Ooh, good question, let me check....
    19 months!

    5) What was the first story you ever wrote?
    I know I did write when I was younger, but I can't actually remember the first one I wrote or what happened to any of them. Sad I know.

    6) Describe in 3 words a character you're currently working with.
    Determined, Guilty, Conflicted

    7) Favorite Disney movie?
    The Lion King. I wept buckets.

    8) Favorite family recipe?
    Chilli. You can't beat a great, hot Chilli.

    9) Favorite TV crime drama?
    Now this is a difficult one. I do tend to watch a few of them. I would say that American crime drama's are my favourite most of the time but I did love Life on Mars. Watching how it used to be done and the old attitudes in policing. Great!

    10) What's your favorite thing to wear when writing?
    Something loose as I need to be relaxed. Jersey trousers usually.
    11) What do you give up in order to have time to write?
    Having a life! Seriously, working full time, two kids and the necessity to sleep are fairly important, so everything else goes out the window. I by no means lock myself away though. If we have something on socially, I do involve myself in it. It's about shuffling the little time there is and writing when I can. I don't tend to have a hectic social life though. 

My Eleven questions are these;

1) If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

2) What is your favourite day of the week and why?

3) What would you find difficult to give up?

4) If you could visit any place in the world where would it be?

5) If you could speak with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

6) Ereader or physical book?

7) Why do you blog?

8) Where do you write?

9) If you could recommend one blog to follow, what would it be? 

10) Savoury or sweet?

11) What is your most treasured possession

An interesting way to learn more about our fellow bloggers. Pass it on and see what we can find out! 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Insecure writers Group


For the last few months I've read several blogs that have been a part of the Insecure Writers Group which was set up by Alex Cavanaugh. This group is a great idea. Once a month writers blog and share how things are with them, what is troubling them and anything else that falls within the category of insecurity and believe me, there is a lot of insecurity as a writer. It is such a generally lonely endeavour and this group goes some way to combat that, as does blogging and using other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. So, with it being such a great idea, I thought I'd sign up and join in the once monthly blog hop where we share the difficulties.

I signed up a few weeks ago and my blog is now on the extensive list of participants. The problem I faced when I came to write this post is that I became all insecure about sharing my insecurities. You see, my manuscript is still in submission stage and I'm chasing my dream of being traditionally published. Why should this matter when I'm posting about insecurities? Because nowadays agents and publishers are checking prospective authors social networking sites. It's no bad thing to show your human side, but, I am concerned that if I share too much about any insecurities and on a regular basis, it has the potential of being seen and interpreted in a way I wouldn't necessarily want it to be. So on that point, I think I have to bow out of the monthly blog hop, gracefully and say that my main insecurity right now is making sure my public profile is open, honest, but not too negative. A lot of writers won't agree with this, but unfortunately, it is my insecurity right now, so I hope this post can be taken as it was meant. An honest insecurity on wanting to join the published authors world. Alex if you read this, thank you for the opportunity and if it's not too much trouble, can you remove me from the list as it's obviously directing people to a blog that isn't participating.

To all insecure writers, keep writing, because if we keep putting bums on seats and not giving up, we can achieve our dreams.



Sunday, 4 March 2012

Two Weeks!

I can't believe how quickly two weeks can pass. It certainly doesn't feel like it's been two weeks since I went on that beautiful walk with my family, or two weeks that I last looked at my blog. Where does time go?

I'm sorry to say that I didn't go on the walk last Sunday as I suggested I would. We had a better offer - Lunch at mum's. Who can turn down mum's home cooked Sunday lunch? Todays excuse is a little weaker. It's absolutely raining buckets here. This does not make for an enjoyable walking experience.

I've had a crazy couple of weeks at work which have left me too tired to spend any time here. So busy that until today I didn't realise it had been two weeks.

So other than working, I had a great day yesterday taking the teenager prom dress shopping. Prom is a fairly new phenomena in the UK but the bridal shops have huge ranges of dresses and a great system of making sure girls don't turn up at their prom in the same dress as someone else. If a dress is bought they list the school and the dress code and don't let anyone else from the same school buy the same dress. What a great idea.

I thought it was going to be difficult finding a prom dress and our day was going to be spent trailing from one bridal shop to another as teenager hated puffs, flowers, frills and bright colours - everything a prom dress is. Luckily the second shop we went in, and only the third dress she had tried on that day, was her perfect dress. Her eyes lit up and she just glowed when she put it on. I felt my throat constrict as I fought not to cry, after all she isn't getting married, but she looked like a princess, my little girl growing up. The dress is simple, straight and very classic. I'm so impressed with her taste and style. I don't want to show you the dress just yet, but I will leave you with an image, the total opposite of her style. Very big and showy.


So what have I missed in the last two weeks?