A raffle-y good cause

First of all, apologies for the pun.  I couldn’t resist!  But it really is in a good cause… because on Sunday I went along to a charity lunch on the shores of Windermere.  It was in aid of PIES (Partners in Education Swaziland), which raises funds to provide education to desperately poor people in this particular African country, and is supported by, amongst others, the local Rotary Club and Soroptimists.

The lunch is held once a year at a house on the shores of Windermere, with stunning gardens that sweep down to the water’s edge, and views across the lake to the old Claife Viewing Station, a Victorian relic that the National Trust have just finished renovating.  This year, the weather was kind and we were able to sit at tables on the patio.  Luckily the patio is large, because the turnout was really impressive – over 80 people had turned up for their lovely, home-cooked two course Sunday lunch, plus stalls, plus plant sales, plus a raffle.

Looking around for something I could donate, at the last minute I realised I could take a signed copy of my book along.  The organisers fell on it with glee, placed it at the front of the raffle stall, and it was won during the afternoon by… someone, but I didn’t get a chance to see who it was.  So if you are now clutching a copy of ‘Raise the Blade’ then thank you for choosing it – and I really hope you enjoy reading it.

The event was a resounding success and raised over £2,000 in one day for the cause.  And I’m glowing, because although I never win anything, I won first prize in that same raffle – a M&S gift card to the tune of £50!

Instagram here we come…

I’ve finally got with the latest trend and joined Instagram, no doubt months (or even years) too late!

It was a “right fiddle” getting everything installed.  My mobile phone and/or tariff aren’t capable of supporting photo handling, so I set up an account on the computer.  Then I found I needed to download an app before I could post any photos.  What?  I thought Instagram shared pics instantly and virtually automatically.  Shows how wrong you can be.

I don’t use Apple and don’t trust Google so downloaded the Microsoft version of the app.  It took ages.  Checking files.  Restoring data.  Please wait.  Etcetera.  But after much finger-drumming it was finally ready.  I hit ‘launch’ and prepared to upload my photos.

Except that I couldn’t.  It wouldn’t let me.  There was a nice big shiny button labelled ‘share photos and videos’ right there in the middle of the screen, but it didn’t do anything.  At all.  I tried clicking, I tried pressing, I tried clicking again (and again, repeatedly), I tried swearing at it, I tried a special Tess Makovesky Hard Stare.  But even that didn’t work.

Frustrated, I Googled the problem and found I was not alone – the MS app won’t let you upload photos from your computer unless you have a… wait for it… touch screen.  How nice of them to let everyone know this before they download a useless app.  Not.

Fortunately a helpful techie site came to my rescue by recommending InstaPic, which is free to download from the Microsoft store and lets you upload pics to your Instagram account.  It’s not brilliant – I can only load one photo at a time, then have to close the program and re-open before loading another, single, pic.  But at least it’s something, and has let me get started with a few publicity stills for ‘Raise the Blade’, and some shots of interesting statues around Birmingham that I’d snapped over the years.

I’ll obviously be adding more, including other less well-known corners of Birmingham and some location shots for my book.  So to catch these, do feel free to follow me on  https://www.instagram.com/tessmakovesky/.  I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

Tickled Pink…

85183245_hi018536501Having been a massive fan of all things Pink Floyd for most of my adult life, on Saturday I was really excited to be heading for a concert by Think Floyd, one of the top British tribute bands featuring their music.

We’d originally been going back in the autumn but the concert was postponed due to a band member’s ill health, and Saturday was the re-scheduled date.  We’d never seen Think Floyd before and weren’t quite sure what to expect, but boy, was it worth the wait!

The concert took the unusual path of playing at least one track from each of Pink Floyd’s fifteen studio albums, from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn all the way to The Endless River.  Along the way the band visited some of the iconic tracks (‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Breathe’) but also played some less well known stuff – so much so I’d never heard one or two tracks before.

The four main musicians were perhaps a little less comfortable with the earlier music, with its heavy folk influence courtesy of Syd Barrett.  But once they got onto ‘One of These Days’ from Meddle they suddenly hit their stride, and went from playing cover versions of Floyd tracks, to recreating with meticulous detail the whole Floyd sound and experience.  And when they got onto Dark Side of the Moon, from which they played pretty much the whole of the first side, they were a revelation.  Even better, their rendition of ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ was just brilliant – the best I have heard, anywhere including Floyd’s own concerts, with the exception of the original.  Most modern versions include two separate vocalists due to the sheer complexity of the track, but the young lass singing here managed it on her own, note (and perhaps more importantly, emotion) perfect, and got a standing ovation for her efforts.

And I was absolutely delighted when they also treated us to ‘Brain Damage’, one of my favourite tracks and the inspiration behind ‘Raise the Blade’!

Of course, they aren’t Pink Floyd and nobody but Pink Floyd ever will be.  The show also suffered very slightly, in my opinion, from a tiny (if immaculate) venue with a small stage, which couldn’t live up to the massive stadium concerts Floyd themselves put on.  If nothing else, there was no space for an inflatable pig – or any other sort of animal!  But they were a very, very close second, and since Floyd themselves rarely-to-never perform together (all the more so since the death of keyboardist Richard Wright), it’s a wonderful way of experiencing their music, live, all over again.  We would definitely recommend Think Floyd, and definitely go to see them again ourselves.  And it tickles me er, pink, to be able to say that.

New reviews

There’s a couple of really nice mentions for my stuff turned up in the last few days.

Raise the Blade FrontFirst, Graham Wynd has included ‘Raise the Blade’ in his list of favourite books of 2016, with a great write-up that had me glowing.  You can find the list here; do take time to read all the entries because there’s some other great books featured, including titles by Richard Godwin and Renato Bratkovic, and the Dark Minds anthology.

Second, and rather a long time after publication but still a very welcome surprise, there’s this from the British Fantasy Society about the Drag Noir anthology, which featured my story ‘Wheel Man’ amongst many others.  The reviewer has some nice things to say about the story, although there’s a spoiler alert if you haven’t yet read it yourself because they do rather give away the plot!

 

Belated Christmas present

Raise the Blade FrontI’m back from a complete (and much-needed) break over Christmas, following a thoroughly unpleasant bout of flu, with batteries re-charged (bzz) and a lot more energy.  And absolutely delighted to find this gem of a belated Christmas pressie in my inbox today – a super new review of ‘Raise the Blade’ over at Relax and Read Reviews.

You may remember that this excellent review blog was kind enough to publish my guest post – a character spotlight featuring Gillian from ‘Raise the Blade’ – a few months ago.  Now I’m delighted to announce that Joseph has read the book himself, and written an in-depth review about what he liked (and didn’t like, to be entirely fair!) about it.

To say I’m over the moon is quite an understatement.  It’s a very nice discovery to come back to!

Music to write books by…

Raise the Blade FrontToday I’m featured over at Sarah Ward’s excellent Crimepieces blog as part of her regular ‘Music to Write Books By’ series.  Although I don’t often listen to music while I write, that doesn’t mean my work isn’t inspired by it – and here I explain how Pink Floyd in general, and their brilliant track ‘Brain Damage’ in particular, helped to inspire my psychological noir novella ‘Raise the Blade’.

Floyd fans and the keen eyed amongst you will spot the obvious quote in the title, but it went quite a bit deeper than that with all sorts of hidden references (although no actual lyrics, for obvious copyright reasons).  I don’t spill the beans on what the references are (you can have fun spotting them when you read the book) but I do explain more about how the track worked its magic on me while I was writing the book.

You can find the post here, and many thanks to Sarah for taking the time out from Iceland Noir to host me, which can’t have been easy!

Interviewed… round the block

Raise the Blade FrontI’m delighted to announce that I’m interviewed at Christina Philippou’s super book blog ‘Writing Round the Block’ today.

Christina asked a whole range of simple yet surprisingly-tricky-to-answer questions which had me scratching my head and sucking the end of my pen.  Questions such as where I write, when I write, who my author heroes are, and what the inspiration behind ‘Raise the Blade’ was.

You can find my eventual responses, plus a whole lot of other wittering, over at Writing Round the Block.  I hope you enjoy the insight!

Raise the Blade – the Scariest Part!

Raise the Blade FrontThose of you who’ve read ‘Raise the Blade’ know that it’s a little gruesome in places.  Quite a lot gruesome, in fact.  So much so it was edging me towards the very limits of my comfort zone, and as a sensitive flower (ahem) I had to push myself to write the more disturbing sections.

Because the book is written in reverse, with more details about the killer’s methods revealed in each new chapter, it got harder and harder to write.  But which chapter out of all them was the worst?  Well, there is one, but to find out you’ll have to head for Nicholas Kaufmann’s excellent blog The Scariest Part, where all will be revealed.  Not just the identity of the most distressing character to write about, but also what that character’s experiences are based on, and what that meant for me.

There’s also some more detail about the Pink Floyd track ‘Brain Damage’, which formed a significant part of the inspiration for the book.

So to find out all this and more, head over to The Scariest Part right now.  I hope it doesn’t disturb your sleep!

Scary stuff!

And it isn’t even Halloween yet…

However, I’m delighted to share the brand new book trailer/video for ‘Raise the Blade’, courtesy of Darren Laws at Caffeine Nights Publishing.

It’s a creepy little offering which perfectly captures the dark, claustrophobic atmosphere of the book.  It gave me a shiver or two whilst watching it – and I knew roughly what to expect!  Even the music is suitably scary.

Pop along to either Animoto or my very first YouTube video to see the clip for yourself.  Happy viewing, preferably from behind a cushion or underneath the sofa.

Raise the Blade in Ambleside

fredbookshopToday is Bookshop Day, apparently, when readers everywhere celebrate their favourite/local bookshops.  Sadly, independent ‘real life’ bookshops are a dying breed, but there are still a few brightly-burning stars out there.  In my area that includes Bookends at both Carlisle and Keswick, and Fred Holdsworth in Ambleside.

The latter is tiny, but a typical old-fashioned store simply stuffed with books from floor to ceiling.  They stock everything from local maps and guides to the Lakeland fells, to fiction, to Buddhism for Sheep.  And from today, they’re stocking signed copies of ‘Raise the Blade’ too.

Ambleside is a stunningly beautiful small town set amid some of the most picturesque scenery in England.  So if you want a good excuse to visit, and to get your sticky mitts on one of my books while you’re at it, now’s your chance!  “Fred’s” is located right on the main street, in between an art gallery and a specialist deli selling a range of delicious home-made foods, so there’s something for everyone!

And if you do go along and buy my book – thanks, and please tell them I sent you!