Saturday, 30 July 2016

My first time... at Harrogate

As I write this, a week has passed since the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, but it feels more like a month. It was my first experience of Harrogate, and any kind of book festival, and I’ve had a major comedown from the amazing event. I booked up late, only securing a B&B in April (most people attending had booked the previous year as soon as the dates were announced), and now I’m so glad that my ‘fear of missing out’ bug kicked me up the butt just in time.

As a very new author, I was feeling quite daunted as the day to travel to Yorkshire approached. However, I pulled on my big girl pants and had a good talking to myself – this was a great opportunity to meet other authors, bloggers, publishers, publicists and people I’d spoken to online for over a year. If I’m honest, I think I embraced the experience more as a reader than an author, because once I was there my nerves took over on more than one occasion. But I don’t think it altered my experience at all. The festival is overflowing with new and established authors, crime fiction fans, bloggers etc. – all happy to chat about their writing journey, love of books and everything else in between. And I’ll admit, I had a huge fangirl moment when Martina Cole high-fived me over our shared love of Ireland and Clonakilty black pudding.

I think the truth of it is, at Harrogate it doesn’t matter what you do or your reason for being there because your passion for crime fiction means you’ll always find someone to talk too – trust me, the bar is always heaving and the conversation is always flowing. So, if you’re worried about going alone, please don’t! The whole weekend had a very chilled and relaxed atmosphere, with people happy to pose for photos, sign books and share a bottle of wine!

After booking my B&B it was clear I couldn’t afford to attend all the events on offer, so I carefully chose a few I didn’t want to miss. Despite the heat of the room (and I’m not complaining about the awesome weather we had), they were very interesting, well-structured conversations, with a chance for audience participation at the end. There’s nothing like hearing a successful author share their lows and highs to get the creative juices pumping – and yes, I have been at the laptop with an array of ideas since coming home. I came away from Harrogate feeling very inspired – and not just about crime fiction! Thanks to a very passionate blogger, I’m excited about quite a few things (but if I told you now, I’d have to kill you… but watch this space). I hope by time next year’s festival comes around – and yes, I have booked my room already – I’ll feel more confident as a writer, not just a reader.

There’s an author North versus South football match to enjoy, a chalked outline of a dead body on the
ground, a huge WHSmith tent – that not only sells books but holds book signings too, deck chairs and a beer tent, the word ‘read’ in enormous cardboard letters that make you feel like you’re being welcomed to the book equivalent of Glastonbury and much, much more.

I have only just skimmed the surface about my time at Harrogate because I think if I launched into it fully you’d be scrolling down your screen for quite some time. But I’ll end on this – if you love crime fiction, be it because you’re a writer, a reader, a publisher, a blogger, a publicist or anything in between, then treat yourself to Harrogate 2017. The enjoyable atmosphere is contagious and I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. I met some wonderful people, was asked to signed a copy of my paperback (that was an “OMG, is this real?” moment for me) and had the opportunity
to talk to authors about their writing experiences and get some valuable tips and advice. I didn’t buy a rover pass for the day/weekend, but many people did, some dined with authors and publicists while others soaked up the sun… Harrogate is what you make it, but it’s definitely a book festival not to be missed.

Oh, FYI… this year, I stayed at the Baytree House, which is about 20 minutes from The Old Swan Hotel (the hub of the festival). It’s a beautiful B&B, reasonably priced with a fab breakfast and lovely staff.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Harrogate, please just give me a shout, I’m more than happy to have a chat about my first time...

Friday, 15 July 2016

June Book Reviews: Forensics and ghostbusters

It seems I'm setting a standard of two books a month. While I'd love to read more - because there are some fabulous books out there at the moment - I'm happy that between parenting and writing I'm reading at all! So, without further ado, here are my two very different reads for June...

With Deadly Intent by K.A Richardson 

29363027Well it's very clear that this writer knows her stuff - it was like reading an episode of Silent Witness (which was great, because I love that programme). There was murder, mystery, forensic insight and a whole lot more. I enjoyed this book and there's already a second in the series - I've Been Watching You - so I'll have to get my skates on if I want to keep up - it's just hit the top 20 UK Amazon charts (correct at time of writing this).

You can read my full review on Goodreads.

Click here to buy With Deadly Intent on Amazon.

Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French

30325010Wow! A very different five star read for me. This book is totally out of my comfort zone - and don't be put of by "girls' ghostbusting agency" because it's a bloody brilliant read.

It was the cover that caught my attention, but the awesome writing and characters that kept me reading. It's fun, silly, outrageous and quite emotional - even gets a crime in there, so how could I not give it all the stars.

You can read my full review on Goodreads.

Click here to buy Melody Bittersweet on Amazon.

May Book Reviews: Murders and tears...

Wow - another very different month for me in terms of what I decided to pick up. There were murders, stalkers, love and  - yes I'll be honest - tears! It's been a rollercoaster reading month, I love it... and I want to tell you all about it, so here's my book round-up for May:

The Missing by C.L Taylor 

26224258This is my first read by C.L Taylor and I really enjoyed it. I tend to try and stay away from books written about children missing or abducted or tortured; as a parent it's something I'm not a huge fan of reading about. But I gave this one a shot - 1) the boy is much older than my son so I felt I wouldn't compare them and 2) Cally accepted my choice of cafe name when she asked for suggestions on her Facebook author page. It's a twisty and intriguing novel and I will now read more from C.L Taylor.

You can read my full review on Goodreads.

Click here to buy The Missing on Amazon.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

12649718Well, as I'm sure you will have guessed this is another book not really in my usual reading genre. But with the film coming out - and me just knowing I'd go and see it with my girlfriends - I had to read the book before that. I sobbed! Yes, there were tears and emotions of epic portions and it was extremely unexpected. I'd heard about the story and about all the women reaching for the tissues but in no way did I think that would include me. I was wrong! Read the book and then watch the film (which I luckily did at a preview screening) - they're both fabulous.

You can read my full review on Goodreads.

Click here to buy Me Before You on Amazon.