Go on a Crime Spree and get short stories for free!

Taking a break before you dive in to your next book? Not sure what to read next? Maybe you haven’t read any (or many) short stories before, or maybe you think you don’t like them (?!) This is your cue to give them another chance, and perhaps to try out some authors you might not have read before . . . for free!

For a limited time only, you can download FREE short stories from 12 top UK crime & thriller writers, including: Mark Edwards, Harry Bingham, Katerina Diamond, C.L. Taylor, J.F. Penn, Angela Clarke, Lucy Dawson, Rebecca Bradley, Simon Toyne, Cal Moriarty, Marnie Riches (and ME!)

So why don’t you put the kettle on, make yourself comfortable, and get reading 🙂

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GET YOUR FREE eBOOKS HERE

Please note: If you’ve already signed up to my mailing list, you can get my short story collection featuring ‘As Black as Snow’, ‘The Outhouse’ and ‘Pretty Woman’ by clicking on the book cover below (otherwise you might be signed up twice . . .)

 

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A belated start is not a bad start

Happy New Ears

Happy New Ears

Ah… a new year. New plans, new resolutions, new me… these are the things that I think we ALL want to kick off on the 1st January, and yet they are the very things that can hold you back. It’s the usual call to arms: go to the gym, stop eating chocolate for breakfast, give up alcohol for a month, BE MORE PRODUCTIVE!

The start of the new year for me is really that dreaded ‘first day back’ – this year, that was Monday 4th January. All over the Christmas break (which I expected to be difficult, for several reasons (like this), but which actually turned out to be lovely and relaxing), I thought about all the things I want to do in 2016 – they aren’t resolutions, they are just things… and many of them are things that I am always trying to do (with variable success), such as:

  • Write a book (last year saw the publication of Black Wood, and the writing/editing of Willow Walk)
  • Write another book (I have plans for three this year… the third one set in Banktoun, plus two others that I’ll just knock up in my spare time… HA HA)
  • Become re-motivated with the day job (it’s a necessary evil, it’s really not that bad, but a delay with a project has seen me adrift since November, aka, a bit skint…)
  • Do 20 minutes of exercise per day (easy, right? Yeah… some days it is. I need it to be EVERY day, or else with a sedentary job, plus writing, I am likely to have curled into a turtle-like shape before my next birthday)
  • Eat less crap (an ongoing mantra… often this is successful, often it isn’t, but to be honest, life is too short to worry about the odd blow out… as long as it’s not every day)
  • Reduce time spent on social media/internet (tricky, as I use this to communicate with writing friends, readers, bloggers, book clubs and anyone else who feels like a chat… working from home in both the day job and writing can be lonely without this – but I am becoming increasingly worried about repetitive strain injury… and my fingers are my job!!)
  • Also, THIS 🙂

Anyway – I thought I was geared up for all of this on the 4th, but as it turns out, I sunk into a panic of stress and anxiety, worried about not being able to do it all (apparently the ‘first week back’ is the most challenging week of the year for everyone – so really it’s best not to set too high expectations during this period.) It’s been a very up and down week, but I think I’ve finally come out the other side. I’ve got a daily planner to try and stop myself from doing too much and focus on one task at a time… the day job has recommenced… the brilliant Alex Sokoloff has helped me realise what I need to do regarding structuring my current work-in-progress… and as a nice little bit of icing on the cake – I’ve got a flash fiction published today in Litro magazine.

So, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Mine started today 🙂

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Click HERE to join my ‘Book Love Club’ – there will be giveways of lovely bookish things, as well as news and competitions (the emails are very infrequent, so don’t worry about me clogging up your inbox) – in the last competition, one lucky winner won this…

You can find me on twitter and facebook too 🙂

Win a copy of NIGHTBLIND by Ragnar Jonasson

After the success of my recent goodreads giveaway of Black Wood, I now have a brand spanking new pre-release paperback copy of NIGHTBLIND to send out to one lucky reader… and… *drum roll* there will also be a MYSTERY CHRISTMAS GIFT 🙂

This is the second book in the Dark Iceland Series, written by Ragnar Jonasson and translated by Quentin Bates. I recently attended the fantastic launch at the Icelandic Embassy in London, and the lovely Karen from Orenda Books has provided this copy for me to give to you! The book went straight to number one on its release in Iceland, and the previous book in the series, SNOWBLIND, reached number one in the UK and has received rave reviews.

NIGHTBLIND is currently Goldsboro’s Book of the Month… and you can get one for free!

More info at Crime Fiction Lover and you can also check out loads of other great books published by Orenda Books HERE.

Entry is free and very simple – just click on the link below! All entries received by midnight (GMT) on SUNDAY 13TH DECEMBER will be eligible (note: if you have previously signed up to my mailing list, you will be automatically added to the draw. It won’t let you sign up twice, so if you’ve done this and forgotten, it will tell you! Also, I am happy to post worldwide, but you might not get it before Christmas if you’re not based in the UK. I will draw the winner using a fancy random number thingy and contact them via email on Monday 14th December for postal details.)

Good luck!

HomicIdes of March Big Book Giveaway

Well it’s only been 5 days since Black Wood was released into the wild, and I’m delighted that it’s already broken into the kindle top 50…

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 09.26.22

…and it’s a Number 1 Bestseller in both Scottish Crime and Vigilante Justice, and #2 in Psychological Thrillers – next to my release day twin, Louise Voss 🙂

Susi & Louise

Susi & Louise

Thank you all for buying it – and thank you to those who’ve already read it and either sent me lovely messages or left me an Amazon review (currently rated as 4.8 with 11 reviews). I am still terrified every time someone tells me they’ve started reading it, but am delighted that the reaction so far has been very positive!

Also – for anyone who ordered the paperback – it appears that Amazon are fulfilling their pre-orders right now, and some people have already received the book! It’s not officially released until 19th March, with my launch on Wed 18th at Waterstones Chiswick (and the following week, Thurs 26th, in Waterstones West End, Edinburgh)  – I can’t wait!

Now, I’ve got news about TWO giveaways… Firstly, if you’d like to win a signed copy of Black Wood, you can enter HERE (closes on Wed 4th March)… and Secondly, if you’d like to win a copy of Black Wood plus 40, yes *40* other fantastic crime thrillers, then you need to click HERE (closes 31st March – and if you get your friends to enter, you get an extra entry for yourself). I’ll say it once more… WIN Black Wood plus 40 other thrillers – in paperback – delivered straight to you!

Good luck!homicides-of-march-shareable

Felixstowe Book Festival Short Story Comp

I’m very pleased to be helping out with this competition… stay tuned for more info about the festival too – including a flash fiction event in collaboration with National Flash Fiction Day, and quite possibly an author appearance from me 🙂

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One of our festival themes this year is ‘in the margins’

This theme came out of a conversation about Felixstowe’s position at the edge of Britain, at the edge of the continental block of Europe but joined by its shipping to the whole world. The town sits on the edge of the sea, which, on a winter’s stormy day, seems to want to reclaim it. It sits between two rivers like the text of a book between the margins.

What is seen as ‘in the margins’ or ‘on the edge’ can be more exciting and rich than what is central. People can be seen as in the margins of society because of their ethnicity, age, physical or mental state. A lot of works of art, scientific discoveries, inventions are made by people regarded as being in the margins. What we write in the margins of our books (those of us who dare!) can be more relevant to us than the printed text.

So interpret the ideas of ‘in the margins’ as creatively as you wish in your short story entry.

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  • Closing Date: Saturday 16th May, 2015
  • Word count: 1000
  • Prizes: £50 (plus possible publication in Suffolk Magazine), 2x£10 (runners up)
  • For full details on how to enter, and to sign up for more information about the festival… click: HERE

Winners of the #SJIBFS Flash Fiction Competition

Well the day is finally here – and hopefully some of you have been involved in the activities detailed on the National Flash Fiction Day site? If not, get over there now and see what’s happening! Flash Flood has been running since midnight and stories are being fired out every ten minutes – so there’s loads to read over there…

So…

*Drum Roll*

Here are the winners of the inaugural #SJIBFS Flash Fiction Competition, with some comments from our head judge Sarah Pinborough on what made them stand out from the crowd.

3rd place – Saving the Planet by Juliet Boyd

2nd place – A Little Light Relief by Zoe Gilbert

1st place – Rabbit by Al Kratz

Sarah says…
Rabbit:
I think this did everything a piece of flash fiction should do. It gives you a snippet of a story that somehow manages to tell you the whole without cramming too much in. It was very well constructed, subtle and chilling. I loved it.
A Little Light Relief: 
I thought this was a lovely little vignette piece and such an original idea and well-written.
Saving the Planet: 
I’m a sucker for Triffids and this was a really nice take on that kind of story. Again, a good snippet insight into a bigger story that manages to convey that story within it.

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Well done Al, Zoe and Juliet!

 The pieces will be published in the  Summer BFS Journal which should be out in August.

Big thanks to fellow judges Phil and Sarah for giving up their time, and thanks to Harper Voyager, Gollancz and the BFS for the fantastic prizes 🙂

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P.S. If anyone who entered is planning to post their entry on their blog, or gets it accepted elsewhere – let me know and I will link back to it and spread the word – I think everyone who entered would love to read them!

P.P.S. Same time next year? 🙂

The #SJIBFS Shortlist

I’m not going to ramble on here, but I will tell you that it was VERY tough to whittle down the list from 20 to 10…

Here is the shortlist for the #SJIBFS Flash Fiction Competition

A Little Light Relief Zoe Gilbert
Detachment Shirley Golden
Fire-Breathing Hazard Mikey Jackson
Rabbit Al Kratz
Saving the Planet Juliet Boyd
Single Malt Oliver Barton
The Has-Been Kristina England
The Jar over the Edge Kevlin Henney
The Kracken Mark Ethridge
The West Wind’s Daughter Melissa Osburn

Well done to those selected, and commiserations to those who weren’t – please make sure you send out those stories somewhere else as they definitely deserve a home!

Winners will be announced on 22nd June 🙂

The #SJIBFS Longlist

Thank you to everyone who entered the British Fantasy Society Flash Fiction Competition! Entries came in steadily from the minute the comp was announced, right up until 23:51 on the closing date – some people like to push deadlines to their limits, don’t they! There was an excellent selection of horror, fantasy and sci-fi and although some followed tried and tested routes, there were some quite unusual stories in there too.

So, without further ado, I give you the longlist…

A Little Light Relief Zoe Gilbert
Death’s Door Keith B Walters
Detachment Shirley Golden
Escape LE Jamez
Fire-Breathing Hazard Mikey Jackson
Gone David Hartley
Hero Dayv Metcalfe
Lavender Gunjan
No Photos, Please Ailsa Abraham
Prey Jo Bober
Rabbit Al Kratz
Saving the Planet Juliet Boyd
Single Malt Oliver Barton
The Changelings Karl A Russell
The Has-Been Kristina England
The Jar over the Edge Kevlin Henney
The Kracken Mark Ethridge
The Montclair Redoubt Jack Hughes
The West Wind’s Daughter Melissa Osburn
World on Fire Miranda Kate

Well done to everyone who got this far – competition was tough and it was difficult to pick only 20 of you. Commiserations to those who didn’t make the list, but please don’t be disheartened – as I’ve said before, judging is a very subjective process, and the standard of entries was very high.

The Shortlist of 10 will be announced on Tuesday 18th June, winners on National Flash Fiction Day – 22nd June.

Do YOU have scary neighbours? Tell us about it and win a copy of #themagpies

Mark Edwards

‘Few of us actually live next to door to Dennis Nilsen, the Muswell Hill murder who chopped up fifteen visitors to his flat and flushed them down the toilet…’ says Mark Edwards, this week’s guest. Well, I dunno. I suspect my neighbour of similar offences, but as I have no proof… *sigh* Read on for the story behind The Magpies  – and a competition to win a copy of the book (which is brilliant, by the way – review is here)

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In The Magpies, a young couple move into their first home together and start planning the future – imagining all of those things that form plot points in the story of most people’s lives: nesting, marriage, kids. But, unfortunately for Jamie and Kirsty, they have moved into a building where the neighbours are not as friendly as they first seem. And soon, the young couple’s nest is under threat of being torn apart…

In my twenties, I lived in a flat in a converted Victorian building in St Leonards-on-Sea, a small town stuck onto the side of Hastings, where I grew up. My then-girlfriend moved into the flat first and lived alone for a few months while I was finishing university. During this time on her own, she met our new neighbours – a couple in their early thirties who spent the next two years doing everything possible to make our lives miserable: constant complaints, insulting letters and notes, hoax parcels, cigarette butts pushed under the door… It was all quite low-key stuff, although some of the letters, in which they complained about such things as the sound of ‘the toilet brush thrashing about the pan’ and my ‘boring guffaw’ (guffaw? I don’t guffaw!) were flabbergasting.

It made me think about how much worse it could get. What if our neighbours had not just been a bit nuts, and pesky, but actually….evil? What if they had set out to ruin our lives? Could they have done it? How would we have reacted? Thus the seed of The Magpies was born. I wanted to write a horror story that had no supernatural elements – more an everyday horror that could happen to anyone.

In Britain, we are obsessed with our homes. Apart from other people’s sex lives, cats, fuel prices and the rubbishness of the country’s public transport system, it’s one of the golden topics that everyone is interested in. Property prices, what the people next door have done to their living room… It’s a middle-class conversational topic that we never get bored of.

And while we are obsessed with our – and other people’s homes – we are thrown together, crammed onto this little island, forced to live in close proximity to other people and all the annoying things they do. Most of the stuff that irritates us about our neighbours is pretty mundane: excessive noise, where they park their car, the cat that craps in our flower beds, the mental Christmas lights that make their house look like Las Vegas every December.

Few of us actually live next to door to Dennis Nilsen, the Muswell Hill murder who chopped up fifteen visitors to his flat and flushed them down the toilet in his flat. Not many of us have neighbours like Fred and Rose West, or even the 83-year-old gran Ethel Watkins who was recently convicted of waging psychological warfare against her neighbours after a football landed in her garden. Ethel banged on the walls all night, made up rude songs about the family and taunted them over the death of their baby.

But what if we did live next door to a psycho who is intent on ruining your nest? What would you do? In The Magpies, Jamie is forced to make a decision – should he stay and fight, or run? What do you do when all of your dreams, and the things you took for granted, are dismantled or smashed to pieces? Especially when you have no real idea what you’re up against.

The Magpies was released last week and the reaction from readers has, so far, been incredible, which is a relief as I was nervous about putting out a solo book. But people seem to connect with the story and find it exciting and scary. Now that it’s in the Amazon top 40 I’m bracing myself for all the reviews complaining about how there aren’t any real magpies in it, when they thought it was an ornithological guide, but hopefully the book will connect with people and make a few readers have sleepless nights – and not because there’s an 83-year-old woman banging on their wall and making up rude songs about them.

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About Mark

Mark was born in Tunbridge Wells and grew up in Hastings on the south coast of England.  He started writing after he left university, where he studied Sociology, and wrote half-a-dozen novels during the 1990s while doing two of the worst jobs in the world: working for the Child Support Agency and Connex Rail, where he spent his days being shouted at by angry absent parents and even angrier commuters. He secured an agent but was unable to get a publisher.

In 1999 he featured on a BBC documentary about aspiring writers, which led to his partnership with Louise Voss.  As well as writing, he is a freelance marketer, copywriter and operates IndieIQ, a website for self-published writers.

You can find out more about Mark and Louise at their website Louise Voss and Mark Edwards and on their facebook page where they interact with readers and hold loads of competitions 🙂

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!!COMPETITION TIME!!

Mark has kindly donated a signed paperback copy of The Magpies for the winner of the best scary/crazy/weird neighbour story. Tell us about your experiences in the comments below, and Mark will pick a winner.

Comp will close on 7th April.

Note – some people have issues with my commenty thing – sorry about that! You don’t need to sign in or enter your email to comment and you don’t need to connect to twitter etc, but please put a way of contacting you in the comment thread so we can send you your book if you win!

UPDATE: The winner of the book is Anna (@ruanna3) – well done for surviving that one, Anna! Thanks to all who entered – some very scary tales 🙂