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

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.