Welcome to the book blog of writer and creative writing tutor, Diane Paul.

Thanks to the publishers and kind PR people who send me books and releases about their clients' books for review. Press releases and review copies of fiction and non-fiction are always welcome. (No sci-fi, fantasy or erotica please.)

Due to the barrage of requests from self-published authors for reviews, I'm unable to deal with them all, although I'm sometimes drawn to non-fiction for the subject matter. And because I love print books, the smell, the touch of the paper and the sight of the words, I don't have an electronic reader or review e-books.

E-mail to: bookblogforbookworms@keywordeditorial.com for the postal address.

My writing website: http://www.keywordeditorial.com/

Thursday, 24 July 2014

'Murder Squad' crime writers


If you enjoy a good murder mystery and are spoilt for choice as you browse the bookshops, here's news of some of the north's top crime writers, the 'Murder Squad'.

Kate Ellis's 18th mystery

Kate Ellis brought out the paperback of her 18th Wesley Peterson mystery, The Shroud Maker in June to coincide with National Crime Reading Month. After that she sped off to Devon to host a murder mystery evening at Kingsbridge Library and do some more research, as her crime series is set in south Devon. You can read her guest blog - The Confessions of a Mystery Addict - on The Writing Desk's blog, http://tonyriches.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/guest-post-confessions-of-mystery.html
And for more details of Kate's work, visit her website on www.kateellis.co.uk

Margaret Murphy aka A D Garrett

 Everyone Lies by A D Garrett

Margaret defines Everyone Lies as a forensic thriller, which is faster-paced than her usual work. She wrote this under the pen name of A D Garrett in collaboration with forensic scientist Dave Barclay and it's had great succes in the UK and USA so far. Its sequel, Believe No One was launched in July in Heswall. The book is set in the USA where Margaret and Dave did much of their research and you can read her journal of their trip and the fascinating people and places involved with crime investigation that they visited at http://www.adgarrett.com/blog/

Ann Cleeves launches new Vera  exploits

Silent Voices

The paperback of Ann's famous detective Vera Stanhope's latest exploits was due out this month, followed by Thin Air in September. In the meantime, Ann, like her fellow murder squaddies, has been racing around the country making personal appearances at bookshops and libraries.. In March, at the Royal Television Society Awards dinner, the TV series Vera won an award for the best drama. Ann says she enjoys watching as a viewer and is naturally delighted that the series is so popular, although she isn't involved in it. But Vera is her creation, so we must give her some credit for it. Read more about the Vera books at http://www.anncleeves.com/vera/index.html

Martin Edwards works on his 7th Lake District novel


Martin is currently working on his 7th Lake District novel. The 6th - The Frozen Shroud - is now out in paperback. His publisher, Allison & Busby have also launched Take My Breath Away as an e-book. Martin is also known for his short stories and Bloomsbury Reader plan an e-book of his award-winning story, Acknowledgments, which won the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Prize. Martin's wife Helena was also on the shortlist with her first fiction success, If Anything Happens to Me. Follow Martin's work at http://www.martinedwardsbooks.com/

Chris Simms re-launches DI Spicer as e-books


As the publishing rights to Chris's DI Spicer series has reverted to him, he intends to release them all as e-books one every few weeks, starting with Killing the Beasts. This novel won the Shots Magazine Crime Novel of the Year and it kicked off the series. In the autumn, the 7th book, Sleeping Dogs is to be released. Find out more at www.facebook.com/AuthorChrisSimms

Cath Staincliffe shortlisted for Short Story Dagger Award

deadly pleasures

Cath's short story, Night Nurse from the Deadly Pleasures anthology won a place in the shortlist for the Short Story Dagger Award. John Harvey won with Fedora from the same anthology. Look out for her third novel Ruthless in the Scott and Bailey series, due out in the autumn and her new standalone book, Letters to my Daughter's Killers, which is getting great reviews. Cath has been researching her next novel in China and she even managed an international bookshop event in Chengdu between visits.

To book any of the Murder Squad writers for events, contact bookings@murdersquad.co.uk and to know more about them and their work, try www.murdersquad.co.uk

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Budding writers head for York Writing Fest

Lady writer


Are you a budding writer? Do you want to meet your future literary agent? Then make it your business to head over to the University of York in September for a weekend of writing workshops - over 30 in total - at this year's 5th annual Festival of Writing. So if you've written a book, get your ticket now, polish up your manuscript and prepare to be interviewed and workshopped till you drop.

Professional course leaders will take you through all the aspects of writing you need to know, including publishing and finding agents. Learning as much as you can about how publishers work and what they're looking for is one of the best moves you can make. 

Mini courses and workshops

Allie Spencer's mini course tells you how to Workshop a Novel in a Day if you're in a hurry, or if you're aiming to self-publish your work, David Gaughran's Self-Publishing Masterclass might be for you. Among the longer workshops Madeleine Milburn's Stunning Cover Letters is always a worthwhile topic and Harry Bingham's 'The Accidental Funny' sounds like it might be a good laugh; Jeremy Sheldon workshops on plot problems, Andrew Wille shows and tells, Alan Durant tells you how to know your reader when writing for children and young adults, Debi Alper gets inside characters' heads and Julie Cohen will tell you how to find your novel's theme.

Workshops include just about every topic you can think of and many different genres of writing, all held over a weekend. You can meet literary agents here and even get Book Doctor feedback from professional authors and former commissioning editors. Not only that but just meeting other writers and networking may not only spark off new writing buddies but it's amazing how much good info you can pick up from other writers. Writers have been  signed up by agents and publishers many times at previous festivals here, so maybe this year is your time...and agents and publishers are always looking for the next big thing.

How to book

The Festival is residential so accommodation and meals are included in the price, which runs from £535, which includes a mini-course, gala dinner and two nights' accommodation, to £175 for a Sunday day ticket if you prefer. And for an extra £45, weekenders can get an extra one-to-one session from an expert. The Festival runs from 12-14 September and you can log on to the website for more information and bookings: http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/getting-published-event.html

Monday, 14 July 2014

Impulse Witness Imprint Welcomes New Writers


Last year, HarperCollins Publishers launched a new Impulse imprint called Witness, devoted to thrillers, mysteries and stories of suspense.

British novelist, Frances Fyfield's 'Gold Digger' is the first Witness title to make its print debut in trade paperback. It's a difficult genre to pinpoint but its themes include family jealousy, greed and hatred.

'Gold Digger' may well win accolades from the author's followers but I found it an odd read. The subject of his children's enmity - Thomas Porteus, aged 70 - dies on page 1, leaving behind his grieving much younger second wife Di Quigley, aged 27 so, although we never get to know him, we are told a lot about him.

Good start

One dark and stormy night ten years earlier, oddball Di, who smokes cigars, (an author's device to make characters more interesting, like an eyepatch or a limp), breaks into the Porteus mansion with intent to rob. 'She had the morals of a guttersnipe, the eyes of a magpie and intelligence as fierce as fire...' She knows the house well, was brought up in a dysfunctional family in the area, went to parties there, belongs to a gang and is known as Mad Di. When she tries to rescue him, Porteus, bound up in a chair, urges her to get out before the police catch her but she gets caught anyway. In prison, she educates herself in art appreciation and carries on a correspondence with the victim, an art collector.

This early part of the novel gets straight to the point without any meandering and is compelling stuff, full of intrigue and no wasted words, promising a jolly good read. I was hooked. Fyfield creates a strong sense of creepiness in this creaking old mansion with its cellars and wall-loads of priceless paintings. And these are what his children are after, having been cut out of his estate when their mother left him for a wealthier man and poisoned their minds against their father. They aim to steal and sell what they can grab, while one psycho daughter plans Di's elimination. But a diabolical plan to discredit them in the act has been set up by Porteous himself, aided by his art dealer, Saul and Di.

Exposition and characterisations
After that, the plot freezes while the local hairdresser and a gossipy client discuss Di's nefarious background, which, given that Di has grown up in this place somewhere by the sea, must have been common knowledge to the entire population for many years. Delia, the gossip, having done her job for the sake of the readers, disappears under the dryer.

Several characters, some quite major to the plot hover on the sidelines like crabs in the sand without taking centre stage and 'showing' readers what they're made of, so lack three-dimensionality, for example Di's wicked father who skulks about in the vicinity without actually putting in an appearance. We are 'told' how dangerous he is but we never actually see him behaving dangerously. He remains a shadowy figure who never develops. A wayward young girl Peg, moves in after Di picks her up on a train but quite what she is doing there became the major mystery of the novel for me. As she wears Di's clothes as part of her rehabilitation, I anticipated this as a bit of seeding for one of the children to mistake her for Di, setting about her with a cudgel but no such luck. Thomas's young grandson, Patrick runs away from home to visit the big house, as a show of solidarity, leaving me with more questions than answers. 

Thomas's ex-wife Christina, said to have fallen off a cross-channel ferry and drowned, left him when he was but a struggling schoolteacher taking the children with her. After he'd made his fortune from his inventions, Christina tried to make a comeback, which failed. But now, having had seeds of bitterness and hatred sown into their heads all their lives, they want his money. Only Di stands in their way. They are a nasty bunch of people.

More action needed
The opportunity for an action-packed thriller is all there but it didn't happen for me. Very little action took place until the end and even then I wasn't engaged. I found the protagonist unattractive as a character and couldn't root for her, it lacked emotional pull and I was confused about some of the plot and characters. I had no trouble with the actual writing, which is sound. But much of the narrative consists of back story or introspection, dealt with throughout in chunks of either expository dialogue, 'telling' characters what they must already know or inner dialogue, both of which froze the plot. Plenty of action in its place would have driven the plot forwards and 'shown' characters coming to life on the page and propelling the plot forwards and this was the crucial missing element. The art history lecture given by Saul was also a plot-stopper. And the constant barrage of f... and c... words from Jones, the dodgy ex-policeman, may well be a device to show character but it certainly became an irritant after a while and he soon lost my vote.

Chance for new writers

Impulse's Witness digital publishing imprint editors are interested in looking at material from new writers, as well as international bestselling authors and writers can submit their writing by checking submission guidelines on http://wmmorrow.hc.com/witnessimpulse/welcomenote