It’s that holiday time of year – go to the Canaries, by plane or by book #free (7th in the #whodunit series)

There are reasons why Thirteen Fourteen Maids A-Courting is not listed in the column of my books, but I shan’t bore you with those now. It’s the most recent in the series,  although Fifteen Sixteen is almost ready to start its countdown, and hasn’t many reviews and I’d really like to redress that. Tell you what, take a quick and only slightly murderous break in the Canaries this weekend,  my treat, and let us know what you think?  Can’t say fairer than that.

Click on the cover and by the miracle of modern technology you should be whisked to the Amazon closest to you. It’s a little like magic –

Most people know by now you can download an Amazon reading app for free, even if you don’t have a Kindle, but if I’m the first person to tell you, that’s two bits of good news for you today. Click on the free book, download the free app, and off to the sun with you!

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Don’t forget that review. Good, bad or indifferent, you know, they all help the reading public and are appreciated by writers and readers alike.

Ta, enjoy, and don’t be a stranger




Back to cosy and off to the Canaries

thirteen fourteen kindleTomorrow Thirteen Fourteen Maids a-Courting sidles into the family—sidles, because it only officially joins the gang on May 1st. There was a time when I was truly organized, and had interview launches in blogs much more widely read than this one, and begged my beta readers to give me reviews (good or, gulp, bad). When I asked people buying at the introductory price to please spread the word. When I even sacrificed one of the earlier books as a freebie to whip up excitement in the series as a whole.

You can of course only do that so many times before you exhaust all your options and become too shy to ask again. I’m no longer remotely organized, and when Eleven Twelve scrambled aboard in breathless haste, making its vital Halloween date by the skin of its fangs, it did so with hardly any launch help at all. It had to make its own friends (and enemies, sadly, but it was controversial, and although I titled it appropriately, and put a warning in the Amazon blurb, and even in the book itself, I managed to shock and upset a couple of readers) with very little support from me. I am rubbish at marketing. My skills boil down to a blog or two, offering a lower price for a few days, and intermittent tweets.  Oh, and crossing my fingers.

That may be about to change at some time, as I’ve heard about a cooperative indies group which combines publishing forces. Some indies could sell bibles to atheists. Some can edit, some can illustrate, and some are a fund of good advice and experience. Gathering a good group, where the members take on each other’s books and burnish them to a brilliant shine, then work together to market them, is probably the only way to survive and grow in a flood of millions (literally millions) of books where the best are often unrecognized, the worst give us all a bad name, and some diamonds in the rough never get to shine as they could.

I’m not being coy about the name of the group, just cautious: I want to find out more before I start wholesale recommendations. I’ve heard they are extremely picky about the books they take on which sounds both promising and, of course, alarming. Perfect world, I’d want them to consider one of my books (which are brilliant) as a borderline decision, because their portfolio is that good.

Until then, I’m still paddling the indie canoe, telling you that you really, really want to buy Thirteen Fourteen and you can pre-order tonight at promotion price, buy it from tomorrow on promotion price, or wait until it goes to the usually tooth-thirteen fourteen kindlerattling full price on May 1st. It is sunny, and cheerful, and mostly far from Scotland, set as it is in Tenerife: back to cosy, while still being true to our rather alarming world: and fun. Trust me. Gamble your 99c. Pack your sun-cream. Go on holiday.

Just click on the cover.

Going bananas

The die is cast, and Thirteen Fourteen Maids A-Courting has been loaded on Amazon, officially publishing on May 1st, unofficially available a few days before that, at the pre-release price which is a touch under what you would donate at the office for the birthday of someone you barely know.  Here’s a thought. Buy them my book instead?

You can pre-order by clicking on this cover pic on most Amazon sites, then you won’t miss the intro price. The cover was created by Lacey O’Connor from a photo I took of Los Gigantes, a fairly typical Tenerife picture.

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However, this isn’t the blog where I nestle on your lap and try to slip my hand in your pocket. That follows in a couple of days and shouldn’t be missed. This is a blog for those who haven’t been to Tenerife and might be intrigued enough by my descriptions of the banana plantations to want to look up a few photos.

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You won’t find many. For some inexplicable reason the plantations, which are everywhere and spectacular, are not on websites. Since they fascinated me, and play a distinct role in the book, there was nothing for it but to produce a banana plantation blog, even though I am a poor photographer with a cheap camera and an unrivalled genius for capturing unwanted poles, overhead wires and bits of cars.

Tenerife is a volcanic island, and there are very few places where you aren’t on a slope. As bananas are conservative, and like life on the level, the plantations have to be built up to keep them as flat as a billiard table. The retaining walls are often built of volcanic rock, and the effect is extraordinary. Once you are out of the tourist centres, they are everywhere, even cheek by jowl with built-up (non-tourist) areas.

Some plantations are neatly terraced. Some are neglected. Some balance on the edge of ravines (it is a challenging landscape, once away from the beaches) and others line the highway. They’re quite something.

Introducing the banana plantations of Tenerife.

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Oh, why not. A mountain and ravine as well. In for a penny, in for a pound. It isn’t a pretty place. More – gobsmacking.

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Getting in early. Happy Valentine Day …

I had really hoped to be doing a St Valentine’s Day book launch, the next book is Thirteen Fourteen Maids A Courting, and what possible better publication date could there be than February 14 for a title like that?

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The main maid courting in this one is Kirsty, Edge’s lovely young niece, who is taking a brief holiday break from her job with Police Scotland to be wooed in the romantic surroundings of Tenerife.  Unluckily for Kirsty my books are whodunits, not love stories, so it will be no surprise to any regular reader that Drew vanishes, leaving her alone in the Canaries, unable to speak a word of Spanish and finding surprisingly little professional cooperation being offered by the multiple policing services on the island.

Edge, Donald, Vivian and William fly to the rescue (by private jet – all part of the story) and things, unsurprisingly, get complicated. In fact so complicated that there is no chance I’ll make this excellently appropriate deadline, the draft isn’t even at beta reader stage yet.  It was almost impossible making Eleven Twelve’s Halloween deadline, but it seems I never will learn to plan ahead properly.

Oh well, maybe next February! I have thoroughly enjoyed writing Thirteen Fourteen but have learned a short sharp lesson about writing books set in another country: I have now been to Tenerife three times and the phone lines hum between visits with difficult questions. How many morgues in Adeje? How many hospitals? Why would the Guardia Civil not call in the Policia Nationale instantly if there’s a possible kidnapping? How do you start a Segway? Why is the area where bananas are cultivated called a plantation, if the estate owning multiple plantations is also a plantation? Is the whole estate a finca, or just the villa? All the time humbly aware that there will be at least one crashing error which will make canny readers roll their eyes and say for goodness sake, did she do no research at all?

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When I do visit it is an effort to remember that sipping the addictive Café Canario (espresso coffee layered with condensed milk and topped with cream) while tourist-watching on the beautiful beaches and boulevards doesn’t butter those research parsnips.

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I just hope the book does well enough to justify at least one of the trips as business expenses, I’d hate to make HMRC officials rupture themselves laughing at the very thought. Be nice to someone special on Saturday, and have a great day.

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Journeys End yadda yadda

Gosh, been a while since I was in here. Dusty. Check out that cobweb! Brings a whole new meaning to website.

Well, I have three good reasons. Firstly, although my books are quietly building a discerning, charming and intelligent readership (very few of whom review, but they keep buying, and in the long run that’s probably more of a compliment), it is a select group indeed, so I have been doing temp work to fatten up my emaciated piggy bank.

Secondly, I’ve been wrestling, and mostly losing, with the latest book. It wants to go one way. I want it to go another. There’s nearly as much negotiation as Scotland will be facing (Yes or No) in the fairly immediate future, and it is four against one, and quite stressful.  The only way to resolve the deadlock was a one-off Halloween edition, and Halloween is scarily close.  Which means 11 12 is now suddenly needing some beta readers. You in?

Thirdly, and I’m surprised I found the time, I’ve been expanding my social horizons and am about to take my first holiday in more years than I can remember. Not alone.

last straw

That blasted singles website again. This Spanish dude asked if I was still doing the research and I said no. Well, to cut a long story short (for now. It’ll be in a book sometime, somewhere) he’s not Spanish, just lives there. He’s not even Scottish, although he lived here twelve years. He’s very nearly the boy next door, we’re both from the same part of the world, we are eerily alike, we’ve been talking every day for three months, and I haven’t a clue whether he’s my long-lost twin brother (we all suspect we have one, right?) my friend, or my future. It will be an interesting holiday.

So that is why, between working from the crack of dawn to late afternoon, frantically scribbling for a few hours, then talking on Skype until the wee small hours, the website fell by the wayside.  On the bright side, I have Plans, Interviews, and Reviews coming up, at least one fantastic guest book tour lined up, and maybe even some photos from the holiday. (There will be segways. Some scenery.)

Listen, that beta reader thing? Talk to me. Twitter. My author page. If you’re already on my mailing list, you have the address.  New readers, and ones who know the series. I reciprocate. Get in touch.