What’s on your Christmas List?

Pile of gorgeous gifts

Pile of gorgeous gifts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s that time of year when the radio starts playing christmas songs, the shops are full of gift ideas, and you start thinking about what gifts you’ll be getting for your nearest and dearest.

So what’s on your list?

Are you planning on getting your friends and family (or yourself) a bookish gift this year?

Perhaps a book that’s delighted you and kept you reading late into the night, or a pretty eReader cover you just know will be perfect, or a voucher for one of the book shops so your loved one can pick their own books.

What’s your top tip for book lovers gifts?

Guest review on the Mean Streets Crime Fiction blog: Snakes and Ladders by Sean Slater

This week I’ve been guest reviewing over on the awesome Mean Streets Crime Fiction review blog.

Here’s a sneaky peek at my review:

A smart, rapid-paced crime thriller that’ll keep you guessing to the end

Detective Jacob Striker is facing the most shocking case of his career.  Called to attend a suicide death in a bad part of town, Striker expects to find another life lost to drug addiction. But this time the victim isn’t just another sad statistic, it’s someone Striker knows. And he’s sure it wasn’t suicide.

Striker and his partner, Felicia, investigate, uncovering connections between the victim and the support group overseen by psychiatrist Dr Erich Ostermann. As they delve deeper in the goings on at the Riverglen Mental Health Facility, Striker discovers his good friend and recent patient of Ostermann, Larisa Logan, has gone missing.

Striker battles to discover the identity of mysterious killer ‘The Adder’ while also searching for Larisa. With every lead Striker finds, The Adder makes a brutal move. As the body-count rises, Striker risks his professional and personal lives to bring the killer to justice.

Detective Jacob Striker is a bold and likable character. He’s smart, brave and wants to do the right thing – even if it’s not exactly following orders. He’s also a single parent, trying to care for his troubled teenage daughter while staying on top of his cases. Larisa, his work partner (and on/off lover) is equally smart, courageous and focused, and together they make a formidable team.

And they need to be …

Hop over to the Mean Street Crime Fiction blog to read the rest http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/crimefiction/2012/11/snakes-and-ladders-by-sean-slater/

Events: Crime Fiction Academy taking applications for Spring 2013 intake

If you’re an aspiring crime writer and are close to (or get get to and spend a while in) New York, you might want to check this out …

The Crime Fiction Academy are now taking applications for their spring 2013 workshops.

This blog post by Jonathan Santlofer, the CFA Director, talks about why the CFA was set up, and what participants can expect from the programme: http://publishingperspectives.com/2012/09/crime-fiction-academy-where-a-listers-teach-aspiring-bestsellers/

You can find out more, and learn how to apply here: http://www.centerforfiction.org/crimefiction

Good Reads Choice Awards 2012: Mystery and Thriller – cast your vote now!

Good Reads Choice Awards logo

Good Reads Choice Awards logo

That’s right, it’s time to vote for your Good Reads Choice Awards 2012: Mystery and Thriller books.

The folks over at Good Reads organise these awards to showcase the top reader voted for books of the year.

Right now it’s the semi-final round (2 of 3 rounds) and there are twenty books to pick from including those by Lee Child, Tana French, Harlan Coben and Gillian Flynn.

So, what are you waiting for? Click along to cast your vote for your favorite mystery and thriller books here:  http://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-mystery-thriller-books-2012#74616-Best-Mystery-&-Thriller

To find out more about the Good Reads Choice Awards and the voting process visit


Learning from the CWA’s ‘Is Crime the new Literary Fiction?’ event


The Panel

The Panel

On Monday I went along to the Crime Writers’ Association panel event ‘Is Crime the new Literary Fiction?’ With Sophie Hannah, Lee Child, Peter James and Benjamin Black (John Banville) as panellists it made for a lively and entertaining evening.

In the first part of the session, the panellists discussed the question, reflecting that some of the best fiction in the twentieth century is crime fiction, and yet you do encounter snobbery about the genre. What came across really clearly was each of the panellists’ passion for the crime thriller genre and their love of writing it.

As the discussion broadened, each of the panellists talked about how they approach their writing, what interests them about the genre, and the importance of great characters and great stories.

As an aspiring crime thriller writer, the key takeaways from the session for me were:

  • On thinking about character’s in action, the discussion on psychological depth was really interesting: how everyone is a psychological puzzle and that choosing who to trust and what will happen when a character does/doesn’t embodies the puzzle questions we ask ourselves in life.
  • That there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to writing – that it could be starting with an essence of plot, or planning everything in advance, or not knowing what happens in the next line let alone the next chapter.
  • That characters and story are both important in crime fiction – that you need strong, likable and memorable characters and a great story including a puzzle and a satisfactory conclusion.
  •  And, on pace, that stories don’t have to be fast paced, but they do have to be compelling. Pace is about variation.

It was a fabulous evening and I’d like to say a huge thank you to the panellists, and to the Crime Writers’ Association for organising the event.


ps. CTG was delighted to meet Lee Child and Peter James after the panel finished, and had a true fan-girl moment when discussing a shared love of coffee with Lee Child.

Daily Ponder: Book spotting on the Train


Kindle (Photo credit: Simply Bike)

In just a few hours I’ll be heading up to London for the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) hosted panel discussion “Is crime the new literary fiction?” that’s being held at Kings Place.

One of the things I always like to do on the train ride to London and back (and on the tube) is to check out the books my fellow travelers are reading. Are they crime thrillers, romance, science fiction, fantasy, historical or something else? And, more importantly, have I read them, and do they look like the type of thing I’d like to read.

I’ve even had quite a few bookish conversations with fellow commuters, and got some excellent recommendations from them. But, it’s not quite as easy as it used to be. That’s because of eReaders. I just can’t (or not as secretly) take a sneaky peep at the cover of the book being read. Although, that said, if I’m standing on the train, and someone sitting nearby is reading on an eReader (especially if the font size is set to large) it is possible.

But, not to be deterred (and, of course, being of a rather nosy disposition!) I’ll be book spotting on the train as I travel.

I wonder what crime thriller books I’ll glimpse today …

Book Review: Love is Murder – Thriller 3 edited by Sandra Brown

Love is Murder book cover

Love is Murder book cover

I don’t often read short stories, but this book is a little different.

The dust jacket promises:

“Prepare for heart-racing suspense in this original collection by thirty of the hottest bestselling authors and new voices writing romance suspense today … Bodyguards, vigilantes, stalkers, serial killers, woman (and men!) in jeopardy, cops, thieves, P.I.s, killers – these all-new stories will keep you thrilled and chilled late into the night.”

And it doesn’t disappoint.

But be warned, this is romance with a deadly twist! From Lee Child’s ‘I Heard a Romantic Story’ – an explosive tale of tough choices in the face to duty – to Roxanne St Claire’s ‘Diamond Drop’ – following Donovan Rush on a diamond pick-up with a sexy twist – and Patricia Rosemoor’s ‘Hot Note’ – a glimpse into Detective Shelley Caldwell’s romantic life as well as working a case – there’s something for romantics and crime fiction enthusiasts alike.

What’s especially great about this collection is the bite-sized nature of the stories – you can devour a whole story in your lunch break, a short train ride, in the bath, or whenever you’re able to grab a few stolen moments to read. Although, if you’re going to carry the hardcover book around with you, be warned, it’s pretty big and heavy!

Highly recommended.

Save the Date: Bouchercon 2013 and 2014

English: Downtown Long Beach, California at ni...

English: Downtown Long Beach, California at night Photographed and uploaded by user:Geographer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the highly successful Bouchercon 2012 mystery convention recently finished, don’t forget to put the the 2013 and 2014 dates in your diary.

Bouchercon 2013: A New York State of Crime will run 19-22 September 2013 in Albany, NY at the Empire State Plaza

Bouchercon 2014: Murder on the Beach will run 13-16 November 2014 and be hosted downtown at Long Beach, California

For more details visit the websites at:



World Book Night: Attention Wannabe Book Givers – applications are open

2013 World Book Night logo

2013 World Book Night logo

That’s right, applications have opened for applying to become a ‘book giver’ for World Book Night 2013.

If you’ve not heard about World Book Night before, it’s a huge celebration of reading which aims to reach out to the millions of people in the UK who have yet to discover the joys of reading.

Every year, the team behind World Book Night recruit 20,000 ‘book givers’ – people passionate about reading who are given 20 copies of their favorite book from the chosen World Book Night books to gift to people within their community who, for a variety of reasons, wouldn’t usually get the opportunity to read.

Next year, World Book Night will be 23rd April.

The books for 2013 have just been announced, and there are some fabulous picks, with several from the crime thriller genre including The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by  Alexander McCall Smith and Little Face by Sophie Hannah.

To see the full set of books chosen for World Book Night 2013 and to find out more about the event and how to become a book giver visit http://www.worldbooknight.org/

Competition Alert: CWA Debut Dagger has opened!

Entries have opened for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger competition. Budding crime writers can enter the competition from now until the closing date of 2nd February 2013.

The competition offers a prize of £700 and all shortlisted entrants receive a professional assessment of their entries.

The shortlist will be announced at CRIMEFEST in May, and the winner announced at the glitzy CWA Awards Ceremony in July 2013.

To enter you’ll need a 500 – 1000 word synopsis and the first 3000 words (or fewer) of your novel, plus you’ll need to complete the entry form, pay the entry fee and ensure you’re abiding by the competition rules.

To find out more about the competition and how to enter, head over to http://www.thecwa.co.uk/daggers/debut/index.html

While you’re there, you can also sign up for regular competition updates, and check out the wealth of writing hints and tips.

So what are you waiting for?