Category Archives: Uncategorized

I Spoke to You in Cautious Tones*

MysteryWritersPodcastInterviewI’m truly honoured and excited to have been interviewed by Dean Abbott of Mystery Writers Podcast. If you’re interested in some of the background to my writing, where I am with my Joel Williams series and what I have to say about marketing, ‘rookie’ publishing errors and other writerly stuff, you can check out the podcast right here.


Thanks very much to Dean Abbott for interviewing me. While you’re visiting Mystery Writers Podcast, have a look around and check out Dean’s interviews with other authors.



NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s And So it Goes.


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Crime Fiction News Break


Links You’ll Want

Paddy Richardson

Geoffrey McGeachin

Martin Edwards

Past Offences

Malice Domestic


Bloody Words

Theakston’s Old Peculiar/Harrogate

Bloody Scotland


Rebecca Bradley

Crime Book Club


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Click Here to Enter, Or Perhaps Not ;-)

WebsiteLots of people find out about new authors and series through the Internet these days, so it’s a good idea for authors to have an online presence. That of course means a website or blog page that will attract readers. Now, I’m no technology wizard, and it is important to make exactly the right impression with a web site. So I decided it might be a good idea to talk to an expert about revamping my site. After all, never let it be said that I am unwilling to take helpful advice.

I contacted Carrie Onn of Make You Shine Web Solutions and she assured me they would come up with the perfect web site design for me. ‘Just send me your book covers, a bio, you know, that sort of thing. We’ll take it from there.’

Three weeks later, Carrie called to tell me my site design was ready and we made an appointment. When I got to her office she was all ready for me and excitedly waved me to one of two seats in front of her computer.
‘You’re gonna love this,’ she promised.
‘I’m sure it’ll be great,’ I said.

Carrie clicked on her design and almost immediately I heard an ear-piercing scream. I jumped a little in my seat and gasped, ‘What was that?’
‘Oh, that’s the sound effect people will hear when they click on your site. Isn’t it amazing?’
‘To be honest, I think it’s a bit much. I don’t want readers to have heart attacks when they visit.’
‘But you need their attention. Right away. You know you do. And you write mysteries, so a scream – well, it fits.’
I didn’t want to be difficult and besides, you do need to get people’s attention these days. We could talk about the shriek later. For now I said, ‘Let’s see what the site looks like.’

Carrie grinned and pointed to the computer screen where the design was now fully loaded. It showed an old ivy-covered building at night. So far, so good. My mysteries take place in a university town and often at a university campus. Then all of sudden the screen showed a very handsome young man in torn jeans and a muscle shirt running towards the building brandishing a gun. ‘Who’s that?’ I asked.
‘That’s Joel Williams.’
‘I’m sorry but that’s not what Joel Williams looks like. He’s in his fifties, and that’s really not the way he dresses. Besides, Williams doesn’t carry a gun. This guy looks more like an action hero.’
‘Look, I know what you’re saying but your web site needs sex appeal. He’s hot.’
‘He’s definitely handsome, but he’s not Joel Williams.’
‘Just wait a sec and see what happens next.’

I turned back to the screen and watched as the door of the building opened and a beautiful young woman wearing a short skirt, a cropped top and stiletto heels ran out. She and the young man rushed into each other’s arms. A second later the young man stepped in front of her and aimed a barrage of bullets at the building. Then the building burst into flames.

I’d had enough of that scene, so I turned back to Carrie. ‘This isn’t anything like my books,’ I said.
‘That was just to get people watching,’ she said. ‘It’s like a trailer. Now your other stuff comes up.’

I hoped so but by now I wasn’t sure. I looked again at the computer screen where my name and the words ‘Author of Mysteries and Suspense Novels’ appeared in bright red letters simulated to look like blood. Beneath those words was the invitation ‘Click to Enter.’ I clicked and two options appeared in the same red letters on a background that looked like thunderclouds with lightning: ‘Buy the Books,’ and ‘Sign Up for Updates.’
‘I’m probably missing something but I don’t see any place where a reader could contact me.’
‘Oh, come on, you don’t want readers to contact you, do you? What a pain that would be! This way they can’t. See? No email address.’
‘You know, I really would like you to at least add a contact form link.’
‘OK, but it’s your funeral. What do you think of the rest?’
‘Well…I also don’t see any blog link.’
‘A blog? You don’t want to give the impression that you have time for a blog. You want readers to know that you’re far too busy and far too important to blog. Then they’ll know that you’re A-list enough for them to buy your books. Seriously.’

I thought of something else. ‘What about people who use tablets and smartphones? Will the site load on those?’
‘Well, we’re working on that. Right now they get a ‘Coming Soon’ message and an invitation to check the site out on a PC or Mac.’
‘So anyone who tried to access this on a tablet or smartphone wouldn’t be able to see it? That sounds really frustrating.’
‘But doesn’t this killer site make up for that?’

I looked at the web page for a few moments. Then I said, ‘It looks as though there’s no real way for readers to get a sense of my books before they buy.’
‘That’s the idea. Hook ‘em in with a show and then tell them to buy the books.’
‘But that’s the problem.  A lot of readers wouldn’t be able to see it. And even if they can, this show isn’t anything like the books. Isn’t it misleading?’
‘What it is, is eye-catching. Sexy. Clickable.’ That’s what you want. You want eyes and clicks. That’s what gets you sales. No disrespect or anything but – um – you aren’t exactly a household word. You need all the help you can get.’

Carrie was right about that. But that wasn’t the kind of help I wanted. ‘Let me think about it, OK?’
‘Sure, that’s no problem. But don’t take too long. You want to be out there as soon as possible. And the more impact your web site has, the more sales you get.’

I think I’ll try to come up with some other ideas to reach out to readers…


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North by…North ;-)

Canadian Crime FIctionDepending on where you are, it’s either the beginning of spring, or the beginning of autumn. Before we say goodbye to the cold weather, or get ready for it, I think it’s a very good time for…


…a quiz!  Oh, please! Don’t pretend you didn’t know it was risky to come here today. Just don’t! ;-)


Canadians know all about cold weather. And you know, some wonderful crime fiction has come from Canadian writers. And as a dedicated crime fiction fan, you know all of your Canadian novels and authors, don’t you? Or do you? Take this handy quiz and find out. Read each question and match it with the correct answer. At the end of the quiz, just leave me your email address and I’ll get your quiz results to you right away.


Ready? Wave the Canadian flag to begin…if you dare. ;-)


Canada's Flag


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Blue Denim, Come on, Gimme Danger*

Fitting RoomWhy did Melanie always have to pick the worst time to drag him out shopping, Noah fumed to himself. He’d told her he was planning to watch the game this afternoon, but no! She had to insist on his going jeans-shopping with her. As though it really mattered to him which jeans she bought.

For a while he sat glumly with the other men who were waiting on the ‘park your husband or boyfriend here’ bench outside the women’s fitting room. She’d even made him hold her handbag! But at least he wasn’t alone in that. A surreptitious glance at the other guys showed that two of them were also trying to pretend they weren’t holding women’s purses. Then he played some games he had stored on his telephone.

All of a sudden, an idea occurred to him. Why not? He and Melanie had been over in everything but name for a while now. The only reason he hadn’t done anything about the paperwork was that he was the sole beneficiary of Melanie’s life insurance policy. No way in hell was Noah going to let that idiot she’d been screwing for the last six months – whoever he was – get his hands on that insurance money. That money was rightfully Noah’s. He’d kill her first.

The plan came together as Noah sat there. Shops had surveillance cameras, but very often not in the fitting rooms. One step in (who’d notice?) and after it was done, one step out. Easy enough, and without a camera, no witness. He thought for a few minutes about how to pull it off. There were those other guys on the bench after all. Then he noticed something. Not one of them was paying any attention to him. They were all absorbed in tweeting or texting or something. One guy was even watching something on YouTube. This would be no problem at all.

He glanced down at his telephone and stood up, sliding it into his pocket. Then making sure no-one was really watching him, he headed for the fitting room door. So far so good. No fitting room attendant and all of the women in the fitting room booths were safely behind drawn curtains.

He glanced up and down the row of booths until he saw a familiar pair of shoes. Then he walked up to the booth and softly said, ‘Mel, it’s me.’ No sense making her scream and call attention to them. No answer. ‘Mel,’ he said in a slightly louder voice. Still no answer.

What the hell was going on? Was she angry? He couldn’t think of anything he’d done to upset her. He hadn’t even put up much of an argument about the game. But no time to wonder about that now. It wouldn’t be long before someone would see that he’d gone in. He’d have to risk it.

He drew back the curtain of the fitting room booth and stepped inside. ‘Mel?’ ‘Mel?’ There she was, slumped on the seat, back against the divider between that booth and the next. He rushed over to her, putting two fingers against her throat to see if she was breathing. That’s when he heard the scream from behind him.

‘Oh, my God!’ the fitting room attendant shrieked. ‘You – you killed her!’ ‘Security!’

‘But I swear, I didn’t! I swear it!’ Noah couldn’t run off without trying to explain himself. She’d gotten too good a look at him. Besides, he hadn’t killed Melanie. He was trying to decide what to say when two beefy security officers approached. Heads peeked out of booths up and down the row as the officers walked Noah to the front of the shop. Ten minutes later he’d been arrested.

A year later, Liam Watkins closed his morning newspaper with a smile. The leading article in the local news, Verdict in Fitting Room Murder Trial, had made his day. Noah Sheeley was convicted of killing his wife Melanie. The jury, bless their trusting souls, had believed everything the prosecution had said. Not that that was really Liam’s fault. Noah’s public defender had done his best, but he wasn’t really prepared. No way would Noah inherit all that lovely insurance money now. How could he have known that Melanie had added Liam to the policy to benefit if Noah couldn’t?

The funniest thing was, Noah hadn’t even noticed him walking into the fitting room. Noah’d been playing some stupid game on his ‘phone. Idiot!



Happy Weekend, Everyone!




*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Ben Lee’s Blue Denim.


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