New book – Trace Evidence

The last few months have been pretty quiet, especially with our son back at university, but I’ve been using my time surprisingly well. When I look back at this year it seems I’ve been more productive than I thought.

Thus far, 2020 has seen the release on sale (although still also free via this site and my mailing list) of Vanishing Point, a novella that introduces the character of Kate Carpenter, art consultant and art crime investigator. I’ve also released Don’t Blink, the first full-length novel in the series and the second, Trace Evidence, will be released on September 30th. And I’m well on the way with the outline for the third book, Exit Wounds.

My most frequently muttered phrase over the last few months has been ‘keep on, keeping on’ and it’s even made it into Trace Evidence as what Kate keeps telling herself when hunting for a missing person and running into dead ends. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dreading the cold darkness of the Scottish winter, but I’m trying to find pleasure in small things such as knitting and I’m planning to try quilting over the next few months. And I’ll be writing for that gives me enormous comfort.

Look after yourselves and your loved ones, reach out for help if you need to, and do take care. xxx

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A long overdue update…

Way back in January, I made plans for this year, breaking it down into quarters and working out what needed to be done. It was always optimistic but I was feeling pretty productive back then. I reckon a fair few of you did the same and, like me, saw those plans fall apart as the world shifted on its axis.

Endless weeks of uncertainty and two months (and counting) of lockdown haven’t been great for my writing. I’ve been distracted and procrastinating which has prevented me actually sitting down at my desk. I’ve struggled to push away my worries enough to let my mind free itself enough to fall into new writing. I think – I know – that many people have felt the same, whether their intentions were to write or learn to make sourdough bread or go running every day.

Instead, I’ve concentrated on less creative but still important tasks. A publisher loves my writing but needs me to create something more targeted to their market so I’ve polished up a pitch for them. The more I worked on it the more I fell in love with the setting and my heroine and whether they like it or not, it’s definitely an idea I’ll be going back to.

I’ve taken the novella – Vanishing Point – that I wrote and added to this site as a freebie for readers signing up to my mailing list and I’ve made it available to purchase in order to bring it to a wider readership. It’s still free here (link up top) and I really don’t mind whether people take the free option or pay 99p for it. Vanishing Point is short – about 20k words – and introduces the character of art crime investigator Kate Carpenter. Readers seem to be enjoying it and one reviewer even said “I think I found my new favorite thriller series” which was fantastic to hear.

The first full-length Kate Carpenter thriller, Don’t Blink, is also now on sale and I’m looking forward to seeing readers’ response to that. It’s been a very quiet launch because of some health issues in the family and my blog tour had to be pushed back, so I’ve not made a huge fuss. I’ll have to ramp up the marketing when the tour starts on 1st June!
I’m also doing the copy edits for the second in the series and once that’s gone off to my beta readers (last stage before final tweaks and proofreader) I’ll be making that available for pre-order.

Having written all that, it reminds me that I have actually been quite productive. As a friend said, I should stop beating myself up about all the things I feel I should have done and look back and appreciate what I have achieved. I’m not fluent in Finnish, my sourdough starter (named Kerouac) is clearly not thriving, and my early lockdown resolution to use my rowing machine daily fell by the wayside when I realised that it gave me excruciating lower back pain. Nor have I been disciplined about communicating with readers so apologies for that – if you ever want to drop me a line about anything do feel free.

But, most importantly, I’ve kept in touch with family and friends, gained a new appreciation for the kindness of my neighbours, been reminded again just how amazing our NHS is, and realised with pleasure that I can spend all this time at home with my husband and student son and that we’re all still getting on okay.

I hope that you’re getting through this okay too. Stay safe, stay well and know that you are valued. A new normal is coming and we’re still going to need to help each other along as we get used to it.

Take care x

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(Almost) end of year updates

 I have been shockingly bad at updating this year. There’s no excuse, just a whole load of tiny justifications ranging from feeling overwhelmed by the pressure of starting out as an indie author, to getting my head down to write more, to personal stuff relating to home and family. All excuses, none of them really enough to warrant going so quiet that kind people took to emailing me to ask if everything was ok!

It’s been quite a year and although I knew what indie publishing entailed, the actuality of being the only person responsible for every aspect from writing to marketing is exhausting. The idea of it, never mind trying to do it all. Consequently, I’ve treated Death Will Find Me as a bit of an experiment. I’ve tried some different marketing approaches including wrestling with ads on Facebook and that was successful although I’m very aware that to be worth the investment of time and money, I need to have more books for readers to discover once they’ve read the first one.

Tessa Kilpatrick is quite a character and I like spending time with her, but I decided early this year to take a break – probably not ideal from a business point of view – and write the second early next year. My diary reminder for Monday 13th January 2020 says “Begin Tessa Kilpatrick Book 2”. I have some ideas…

In the meantime, I’ve been working on a new series about Kate Carpenter, an art crime investigator. The first is almost finished and I’m currently working on the final draft of the second. I’ve also written a novella, Vanishing Point, introducing Kate which will be available in a week or so as a free download to those on my mailing list. It’s taken time, not least because I wanted to get proper developmental editorial input on the series, but the books are far better than that and I’m looking forward to hearing what readers think in due course. They’re hard to describe although I’ll have to find a way. Not simply a heist thriller, though.

For now though, I’m off to wrestle with the formatting for Vanishing Point so that it’s ready to release next week.  In the meantime, if you’ve read Death Will Find Me, thank you very much. Do leave a review if you have time as it makes such a difference to writers and helps other readers to find books that they’ll enjoy.

See you soon x

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All systems go!

The launch of Death Will Find Me kicked off earlier in the week when Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group coordinated a cover reveal, filling social media with images of the book jacket. I love the cover – designed by the brilliant Mark Thomas at Coverness – and we already have ideas for how we’re going to carry that look on across the next few books.

So here we are – the end of January and bang on schedule, Death Will Find Me is available to pre-order and will be published on February 20th. At the moment, it’s only available in ebook, but in the next few days I’ll be adding options for print copies. And I’ve also ordered a short print run for anyone who’d like to order a signed copy directly.

I know that a novel by a debut author is a tough sell – I’ve been a bookseller long enough to know that while I can say to a shop customer ‘trust me, you’ll love this’, it’s harder to say that about a book mainly available online. Fortunately, reviews are stacking up and hopefully that will give readers confidence.

I hope you enjoy Death Will Find Me – Tessa Kilpatrick arrived in my life quite unexpectedly and I really enjoy writing about her. At the moment, as well as working on all the publishing aspects of Death Will Find Me, I’m writing the first draft of the second (as yet untitled) book. It’s coming on well and should be out in the autumn.

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Decisions, decisions, decisions…

 It is striking that I’ve written only three blog posts so far this year – a vague one about the progress (or lack of it) that Death Will Find Me had made in terms of finding a publisher, a piece about the importance of libraries in my life and a post a couple of weeks ago about a short story I’m working on which I’ll using to launch my mailing list in the next few weeks. I’ve been waiting on having actual concrete news to share, something actually happening.

In some ways the last year or so feels like so much wasted time, writing-wise. Yes, I was signed by an agent but he turned out to be unable to sell the book despite lots of enthusiasm from editors who loved it but felt that it was a tricky sub-genre to sell. I wrote a different type of book but my agent felt it was too niche and that we should part company. A handful of other publishers have seen Death Will Find Me since then and the response has been the same. It’s come close but when it came to actually producing a contract, publishers have backed off.

To quote one: “You’re a fantastic writer – your storytelling is immediate, evocative and atmospheric, as well as gripping and intriguing. I felt like I was right there in 1920s Edinburgh. I was also very compelled by the mystery at the heart of your novel.” And then, as I’ve heard so many times, there’s the next bit: “However, my instinct is that this is a very tough area of the market, which is a real shame. It’s for this reason, sadly, I’m going to have to pass in this instance. But it’s with regret, as I think you’re a talent with lots of potential.”

That editor also expressed enthusiasm about working with me if I wrote something different, by which she means more commercial. In some ways, it’s depressing that publishers are so scared of taking a risk. I mean, Death Will Find Me is historical crime fiction; it’s not as though I’m writing serious, highly-stylised literary fiction.

But it is reassuring in some ways. As friends have pointed out, I’m a good writer and I’ve written a good book. I’ve been told that by people who know what they’re talking about and who have no obligation to be nice! I saw the emails they sent to ex-agent and they were very positive about my writing and the book itself. I asked him whether it was the convention that they said kind things and he assured me that was not the case and that usually he had to edit comments for his authors so that they weren’t upset or offended.

So, where I am now is that I’m a good writer with a good book that is the first in a series which people seem really excited about. But from a business point of view, major publishers don’t see it selling in big enough quantities to be financially viable. After all, riverside offices and parties at the National Gallery have to be paid for by the sales of their authors. And when I look at smaller publishers, many seem to be run by people who have less experience of the book trade than me and I wonder what value they’re going to add to the deal in exchange for their cut of the profits.

Next week, I’m going to outline what my plan is going forward. I’m really excited but I’m also reading this passage by Teddy Roosevelt to reassure me when my courage wavers:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

The heroine of Death Will Find Me is not a cold and timid soul, and neither am I.








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