Out and about

you-are-here-graphicThis year more than ever I’ll be dashing from one bit of the country to another, popping up in a series of writing courses and events.  To help you (and me!) keep track of it all, I’ve added a new ‘out and about’ section to the Finding Tess page on my website.

Here I’ll be keeping a regularly-updated list of where I’m turning up next, including dates, venues and times.  So far the list includes the Crime & Publishment crime writing course at Gretna Green in February, as well as events in Carlisle and Newcastle.

Do keep an eye on the list and see if I’ll be appearing anywhere near you.  If so, I do hope you’ll call in, say ‘hi’ and have a chat.  It’s always lovely to put faces to the names that crop up online – and hopefully my ugly mug won’t scare you all away!

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The truth (?) about writing…

Anyone who ever harboured romantic notions about the whole business of writing and publishing (that it involves sitting in front of a typewriter with a glass of wine in the summerhouse for a couple of hours a day; that all you need to do is get a book published and hey presto! you’re a star) could do worse than have a look at this brilliant blog post from crime author Chuck Wendig.

Underneath the wry humour, talk of goblins, and occasional naughty language, it’s a practical and down-to-earth look at the writing and publishing world, with lots of home truths and a fair sprinkling of honesty.  Although some points might be hard to take (especially for those still thinking of summerhouses and stars), I think I agree with every word.

I also think I’ve had that marketing janitor…

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Spot the elephant

4489d07754dfd9008d2bde215a2b4f99It’s about time I shared a little bit of my latest story, ‘Tuning the Old Joanna’, which hit the streets in Crime Syndicate magazine at the beginning of the month.  It’s a tongue-in-cheek tale which could well be sub-titled ‘never mind the wife, what about my piano!’.

I could hear the sound of the piano from the dining room. The door was closed, but vague musical crashes and thumps echoed through the wood. What the hell was going on? 

I burst through that door like a rampaging bull and caught them red-handed – and red-cheeked. They were at it, of course, but I hadn’t expected they’d be using Great Aunt Sally’s piano as a prop.  Joanna was shoved back over the keyboard with her tits hanging out of her frilly blouse and the bloke was banging away between her legs. The music they were making was anything but sweet. Grunts, groans, the scrape of clothing on polished wood, and that endless clash of disharmonic notes. 

I saw red too. “You fucking morons, that’s a valuable family heirloom,” I yelled at the exact same moment they realised I was there. Both of them leaped about six feet in the air and came down again with a thump of jangled piano strings that reverberated throughout the house.

They recovered fast enough, I’ll give them that. Joanna stuffed her tits away and the bloke pulled back, tidying his todger inside his pants and smoothing down his hair.

“Oh, Roy, what are you doing back from work?” Joanna said with a pout. I could see her stupid brain working overtime to come up with an explanation. “This is George. He’s here to… to… to tune the piano!”

There’s a genuine Tess Makovesky elephant hidden somewhere in this story, too.  Extra brownie points if you can tell me where.  And if you haven’t yet treated yourself to a copy of the magazine, which is bursting with seven other stories as well as this one, then you can find it on Amazon for only $6.99.  Happy elephant hunting!

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Christie treat

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Did anyone else watch the BBC serialisation of Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’ over Christmas?  If not, you missed a treat, and I’m not just talking about Aidan Turner in That Towel.

Anyone who thinks Christie is all fluff and no substance could do a lot worse than watch this.  It’s pure noir, really, with a claustrophobic atmosphere you can cut with a knife, a string of unpleasant characters, and an ending that’s about as far away from Miss Marple as it’s possible to get.  Apparently Christie herself said this was the hardest of her books to write, and you can see why.

Hats off to the Beeb for such an excellent production.  Yes, they introduced a few eyebrow-raising details such as Bad Language (gasp) and even a hint of lesbian attraction, but none of that felt the least bit out of place.  And the pace, filming, locations and acting were all quite brilliant.  The latter perhaps most of all.  It can’t be easy to make such an unlikeable group of characters the least bit sympathetic, but Maeve Dermody as Vera and Aidan Turner as Philip Lombard managed it surprisingly well.  (And no, not just because of That Towel.)

It’s a very long time since I last read the book – I think I was a teenager, and half in love with Lombard’s character (I always did like the baddies!), and not too impressed with the ending.  But this was a happy reminder of just how good Christie could be, and I may even be tempted into buying myself a copy and having another go.

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Kickass commentary

bettyfedora2Betty Fedora’s website features a wrap-up to 2015 including thoughts on noir, life and the universe from myself and several of the other authors featured in Issue 2.  Pop along now to see what everyone’s favourite noir movie is, or what crime novels they enjoyed, plus various other thoughts to run alongside our stories.  And if you like the interviews, you’ll love the magazine.  So why not pick up a copy while you’re at it?  (Well, you can’t blame me for trying…!)

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The countdown begins…

Both to the new year, of course, and also to the first ever issue of brand new Crime Syndicate magazine, which is also due on 1st January.

First off, I hope everyone has a wonderful year in 2016, with the best in health, wealth, and reading and writing.

Second, don’t forget to grab your copy of Crime Syndicate in order to read my short story ‘Tuning the Old Joanna’, about a man, his wife, her lover, and his piano.  Happy it ain’t, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it anyway!

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Season’s greetings…

Popping in to say ‘happy Christmas’, or whatever other festival floats your boat (although that might be a poor choice of words after all the recent floods…).

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Anyway, I hope everyone has a lovely break, and a very happy, healthy new year with lots of inspiration for writing.  I’ll ‘see’ you all again once the big day is over.  Have fun!

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Crime Syndicate cover reveal

Here’s another early Christmas pressie: the first draft of the cover of brand new Crime Syndicate magazine.

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The magazine’s first ever issue is due out on 1st January (assuming Santa’s reindeer don’t get lost) and yes, that really is my name on the front cover.  It’s very exciting!

I’ll let everyone know the minute the magazine is available so keep checking in…

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Ho ho ho… or not

santa_claus_stuck_in_a_chimney_upside_down_with_feet_sticking_up_0515-0912-1509-5915_smuYet more proof that truth really is stranger than fiction.  In this case, the rather tragic tale of a burglar who decided to copy Santa Claus and break into someone’s house via the chimney.  Only problem was, he got stuck.  The home-owner had no idea he was there, lit a fire, and roasted the poor guy to death.  I guess the moral of the tale is, never climb down a chimney unless you have a team of reindeer to pull you back out again…

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Early Christmas pressie

small14-window-loversWell, that was a nice bit of news right before Christmas.  Brand new crime magazine Crime Syndicate has accepted one of my stories to appear in their very first issue.

‘Tuning the Old Joanna’ is a tongue-in-cheek tale of a man, his piano, his wife and her lover and was inspired by the famous Banksy mural of a naked man hanging out of a window (which has always been one of my favourites).

Further details to come soon so keep watching for news of when the magazine (and the story) will be available.

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First chance for Last Chance

bettyfedora2Last Chance Saloon, that is, which is available right now in Betty Fedora #2 and features (as all their stories do) at least one suitably “kickass” woman character!

A dirty weekend, a clapped-out car, a deserted country road…  What can possibly go wrong?  Quite a bit as it turns out, for one character at least, in this dark little tale of revenge set in the wilds of the Cumbrian countryside.  Before the floods.  Sigh.

You can get your hands on the magazine at Amazon, in either print or digital format.  And while you’re at it, why not check out issue #1, which is completely free during the launch of the second edition.  Gotta love those kickass women!

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Review of 2015

Thanks to the small matter of a flooded pantry (storm Desmond at work, no less), I completely forgot to mention that Vic Watson has been kind enough to publish my guest post reviewing the year over at Elementary V Watson.

Wanna know what my favourite moment of the year was?  Or which books I read?  Or what my favourite song was (I cheated on that one)?  Then head over to Vic’s blog where you can read it all (and possibly weep).

As for me, I’ll keep mopping.

(Seriously, no real damage, just some damp plaster.  It could have been much, much worse.)

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