The CWA Anthology: Mystery Tour

Pretty much the first thing I did when I got my first book deal was to send off a copy of my contract to The CWA, along with my application to join. In 2014, I was shortlisted for the very first Margery Allingham short story competition (and that story has since gone on to be published in esteemed US journal Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine). So you can imagine how delighted I was to find out I’d be having a short story included in the latest CWA anthology! It’s called Mystery Tour, and it features stories that are linked in some way by travel. It includes stories by an incredible selection of crime, thriller and mystery writers . . . and me!

My story is called A Slight Change of Plan. It’s about two old friends who meet up to go hiking, and of course, it doesn’t end well. I wrote the first version of this story a few years ago, when my husband had gone away for the weekend to go hiking with his friend. I started thinking about all the things that could happen, and a dastardly plot started to unfurl in my mind. The two characters popped into my head straight away – a bolshy, vain pain in the arse, and his long-suffering slightly geeky old friend (not based on anyone I know!) But things are never what they seem, are they? When I saw the brief for this year’s anthology, I knew this was the right story. I rejigged it a bit until I was happy with it, and then sent it off. When I heard back from the editor Martin Edwards and the publisher Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) that it had made the cut, I was so excited! The books look absolutely gorgeous (paperback and limited edition hardback – plus ebook, of course) and all of the stories in there are top notch. Perfect for a Christmas gift for yourself, maybe – there might be some authors in there you haven’t read before . . .

. . . and in case you were wondering – my husband and his friend did make it back safely from that hike 🙂

You can buy the book HERE.

Oh, and I went in to sign a huge pile of hardback copies at Goldsboro Books last week (another author dream come true!)

My latest crime novel The Deaths of December comes out on 16th November.

You can pre-order it HERE.

Signed Copy of Black Wood

I’m keeping this short and sweet… if you fancy winning a signed copy of Black Wood, enter the free Goodreads giveway before 30th November 🙂

Good luck!

p.s. It opens tomorrow.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Black Wood by S.J.I. Holliday

Black Wood

by S.J.I. Holliday

Giveaway ends November 30, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Untouchable by Ava Marsh #minireview

One of the many crime novels released this week, and one that I had the pleasure of reading early, Ava Marsh‘s Untouchable is a clever, sexy, murder mystery with one of the most intriguing female protagonists I’ve read in a very long time.

Here’s the blurb:

‘If you start feeling anything for a client – and it does happen – count the money. That always brings you back down to earth.’

Stella is an escort, immersed in a world of desire, betrayal and secrets. It’s exactly where she wants to be. Stella used to be someone else: respectable, loved, safe. But one mistake changed all that.

When a fellow call girl is murdered, Stella has a choice: forget what she’s seen, or risk everything to get justice for her friend. In her line of work, she’s never far from the edge, but pursuing the truth could take her past the point of no return.

Nothing is off limits. Not for her – and not for them.

But no one is truly untouchable.

My Review:

Wow – this book was an absolute delight! Quite different to my usual reads, and as an author I found myself in awe of the writing. The thing I enjoyed most is the strong ‘voice’ of the protagonist Stella. The sex parties that Stella and her ‘colleagues’ are embroiled in are disturbing and fascinating in equal measure, and the types of characters who ’employ’ these high-class escorts are nicely drawn, without being stereotyped. Despite the subject matter, the book doesn’t feel seedy – it feels all too real (and made me wonder how the author did her research!)

The language is crisp, direct and often humorous in tone, the storyline is intriguing and the pacing excellent. You want to know who Stella was and what happened to her ‘before’ – and little snippets of her past-life and her old friends are neatly woven throughout, as Stella finds herself mixed up in a murder case and with several unsavoury characters in her wake. She’s a very likeable heroine, and the author has portrayed her well with her astute characterisation. There are some inevitable parallels to be drawn with Belle du Jour, but this is no bad thing…

I believe this is a standalone, so it will be interesting to see what the Ms Marsh comes up with next… I suspect there will be more sex 😉

Highly Recommended: eBook is out now, paperback in August.

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

7 days to go… and a sneak peek

(Click image to read sample)

This time next week, I will be a published author. I started to write Black Wood in January 2013 and was lucky enough to secure an agent in June 2013, which led to my book deal in May 2014. Back then, the release date seemed so far off, but now that it’s nearly here, I can’t quite believe it!

I’ve loved the journey… I’ve learnt so much about the process of writing, editing and the business of publishing, and I’m still learning. But for now, I will celebrate this huge milestone by letting you know that you can now read a sample! This is the first time that any of this work has been available publicly, so I really hope you enjoy it!

Please let me know in the comments 🙂

…and if you do, then stayed tuned for next week’s ebook blog tour… details below:

You can still pre-order the ebook for 59p – but the price will rise soon, so if you like the sample, get in quick!

* * *

And just to remind you that it’s not all about me… Coming up later this week:

The Venus Trap by Louise Voss #review

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 17.27.38With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, what better than to share my thoughts on a fantastic psychological thriller of obsession and unrequited love?

Here’s the blurb: 

Jo Atkins’ sixteenth year was disastrous: she lost her dad, was assaulted by a stranger, and then had her heart broken. For the last twenty-five years, she’s believed that nothing could ever be as bad again.

She was wrong.

Now, still smarting from her recent divorce, pretty, self-effacing Jo finally gathers the courage to enter the dating scene. She meets Claudio, whom she vaguely remembers from her youth, but after a few dates decides he’s creepy and politely tells him ‘thanks but no thanks’.

But Claudio has no intention of letting her go.

Instead of never seeing him again, Jo wakes up sick and terrified, handcuffed to her own bed. She is given a week to prove her love for Claudio—or he will kill her.

Claudio, it turns out, is a man with nothing left to lose…

And what did I think? Well, firstly, thank you to the author – the lovely Louise Voss – and the publisher for the review copy via Netgalley.

This is the first of Louise’s solo novels I’ve read, and I did wonder how it would differ from those written with her co-writer, Mark Edwards. I’m not sure what comparisons can be made, other than to say that both authors produce very well written, engaging stories that pull you in and keep you there. The main difference, I’d say, is that this is much more of a woman’s book, in many ways (not to say that men couldn’t learn a thing or two from it about what NOT to do!) In The Venus Trap, there is a lot of talk of past dating disasters and the main character, Jo, narrates these in the midst of her current biggest disaster – a date that has led to her being kidnapped and imprisoned in her own home by a man she vaguely remembers from school.

Her tormentor tries to torture her into loving him.

As things unravel, we start to work out what has made him act like this, and through the schoolgirl diaries of Jo, we get a beautiful, if tragic, story of her past loves, her difficult teenage years and what has shaped her into the woman she is. Voss has a knack for capturing the teenage angst with brilliant, often dark humour. There are many excellent turns of phrase and proper laugh out loud moments, in both teenage Jo and adult Jo’s accounts, and the dark side of her current situation is neatly and believably handled. This is one of those books that you’ll want to recommend to your friends, so much of it is relatable – especially for anyone who has suffered the perils of the dating scene.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.

ALSO… as The Venus Trap is released on 24th February, which is the same date as the eBook release of Black Wood, Louise and I will be collaborating and chatting over at LizLovesBooks.

Don’t miss it!!

21 days to go…

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 13.18.48I can barely sleep. I am suffering from nausea, shaking and abject terror. The fear has struck! And no, it’s not a side-effect of doing dry January (note: I didn’t do dry January… everything in moderation. Except at book launches.)

Yes, the time has come, well, almost. The eBook of BLACK WOOD comes out in 21 days. TWENTY ONE DAYS. 504 hours. Less, actually, as anyone who has pre-ordered on Amazon will get the book auto-delivered at 00:00… in under 492 hours.

The palpitations have started.

Please send calming thoughts.

Black Wood has a cover!

While I’ve been busy working on my edits from my lovely editor, Karyn at Black and White Publishing (who misses NOTHING, by the way – but that’s another story…) the designers have been working their magic on my cover… I can’t even express how much I love this cover! The woods… the yellow… the font… the creepy little girls…

I’ve had some fantastic review quotes already, and I am so happy with the one that’s been used on the front – it fits the book perfectly! Thank you Fergus and thank you to everyone who’s read an early copy and told me how much they enjoyed it. It’s a scary thing, letting people read your first novel, but I suppose I better get used to it 🙂

Can’t wait to see it in the bookshops… roll on March 2015!

Black Wood 72

STOP PRESS: Bullet Gal by Andrez Bergen

Bullet Gal is a loving homage to hardboiled noir, detective stories, and pulp fiction produced in the first half of the 20th century…

Under Belly Comics has a Kickstarter running at the moment for the 12-issue series of Andrez Bergen’s BULLET GAL.

Andrez says: “The video clip they created for the campaign is worth the price of admission alone – which, anyway, is free to take a peek. It’s like John Huston grappling Robert Rodriguez’s visual excesses; Raymond Chandler indulging in bar room script-writing fisticuffs with Philip K. Dick. They even conspired to make my art look good.. and we have a cover painting from NIAGARA DETROIT! Wow. Am chuffed.”

And I’m chuffed to share this… Andrez is a great writer and artist and he’s always doing different things – I love to see someone refusing to be typecast! Click on the image and check out the link to learn loads more about the author and the series. Looks bloody good to me! 🙂

[Andrez previously shared a brilliant blog post on point-of-view with me – take a look HERE]

I’ve got a book deal!

I went through various titles for this post. From the businesslike ‘Announcement: Book Deal’ to the mass-overuse of exclamation marks and swearing. In the end, I settled on the simple ‘I’ve got a book deal!’ which is basically all I’m going to be saying to anyone I bump into for the foreseeable future. Sorry.

I’m  delighted to announce that my debut novel BLACK WOOD will be published by Black and White in Spring/Summer 2015.

Here’s the link to the official trade announcement in The Bookseller.

THANKS (a billion) to my fantastic agent, Phil Paterson at Marjacq, for sticking by me, despite my constant ‘are we nearly there yet?’ badgering over the last few months. As he may have now realised, I am not very patient 😉

I’ll bore you with more details on ‘my path to publication’ soon… but in the meantime, thank you to EVERYONE who’s supported me along the way.

Anyway, I thought this song was apt. Sing it with me… ‘Holiday… Celebrate…’

P.S. I’ve also just joined the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association… Can I call myself an author now?