The latest Serial Dater tour comes to an end

Two final reviews for my first born, The Serial Dater’s Shopping List in this latest tour. Do click on the links to read the full review and support (follow) these tireless bloggers. Thank you! And my thanks go to Sarah of Book on the Bright Side and Caroline, my ever-patient AA (author assistant). And now to the reviews…

I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to know that my work’s getting out there. Thank you, everyone!

Day four for the latest Serial Dater tour

Day four already and two more lovely reviews for my first born, The Serial Dater’s Shopping List. Do click on the links to read the full review and support (follow) these tireless bloggers. Thank you!

  • “I was certainly reading the book with a big grin on my face as some of the dates that Izzy had to endure were quite comical… her best friend and co-worker Donna is an absolute scream… This is certainly a book that would not be out of place whilst packing for your holidays. With fun characters and situations that ensure it will keep you entertained from start to finish.” https://jenmedsbookreviews.com/2019/09/05/the-serial-daters-shopping-list-morgen-bailey Jen @JenMedBkReviews
  • “Bailey comes up with one crazy situation after another… The Serial Dater’s Shopping List was a fun read… If you have ever done internet dating at all, you will enjoy this novel as you never know what those first communications are going to bring you.” http://jessicasreadingroom.com/blog-tour-the-serial-daters-shopping-list Jessica @JessReadingRoom

It’s a thrill that so many people enjoy what I write. Thank you, everyone!

Three more lovely reviews for Serial Dater

Day three and three more lovely reviews for my first born, The Serial Dater’s Shopping List. Do click on the links to read the full review and support (follow) these tireless bloggers. Thank you!

How lovely they are. 🙂

Two more lovely reviews for Serial Dater

Day two and two more lovely reviews for my first born, The Serial Dater’s Shopping List.

  • “Morgen didn’t disappoint, providing 31 very different dates, men and scenarios that had me laughing out loud throughout… I fell in love with Izzy’s character… Donna, Izzy’s friend and work colleague whose Tigger-like personality provided some wonderful moments… The Serial Dater’s Shopping List is a fabulous light-hearted, humorous read and the perfect ‘easy read’…” https://frasersfunhouse.com/2019/09/03/blog-tour-the-serial-daters-shopping-list-by-morgen-bailey Melanie @FrasersFunHouse
  • “I’ve read a few of Morgen’s books and this is definitely my favourite! This is a fantastic read! I genuinely didn’t want to put it down… The story is well written and easy to read and follow and will suck you in as you go on your journey with Izzy.  As I say, this is a feel good, laugh out loud read that you don’t want to miss.  Most definitely recommended by me!” https://curledupwithagoodbook.co.uk/blog-tour-review-the-serial-daters-shopping-list-by-morgen-bailey Chelle @Curlupwithbooks

And Hitman Sam’s debut tour comes to a close

They say all good things come to an end and this has been way beyond good. The feedback I’ve received on my first born has been amazing…

The seventh and final day of the tour ended with…

I wrote the crime lad lit novella (48,000 words) Hitman Sam in 2008 and over the years, edited it, left it to marinate, re-edited it, put it back and finally this year (2016), I edited it again and sent it to my beta readers who were kind enough to give me their feedback which led to more alterations and finally, on November 2nd, it was published! It is available for 99c / 99p (or the equivalent in your country) via http://mybook.to/HitmanSam (links to Amazon in your country) or directly via Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com etc.

Tagline: Newly-redundant Sam is looking for a new adventure – a cryptic advert gives him that and more.

Blurb: Newly-redundant software designer Sam Simpson is looking for a new adventure – a cryptic advert in his local paper gives him that, and more. With two women vying for his affection, going behind their backs isn’t the smartest things he’s ever done.

In case you missed any this tour kicked off at the following locations (arranged by the fabulous Sarah Hardy @BOTBSPublicity).

Monday 13th:

Tuesday 14th

Wednesday 15th

Thursday 16th

Friday 17th

Saturday 18th

In case you missed them… Hitman Sam’s blog tour so far

With just one day to go in the first ever blog tour of my first-written novel, a comic crime / lad lit novella Hitman Sam, here’s what’s happened so far (the @ are the hosts’ Twitter IDs) with some really kind and blush-worthy reviews. My thanks, as always, go to Sarah @BOTBSPublicity.

Monday 13th:

Tuesday 14th

Wednesday 15th

Thursday 16th

Friday 17th

Saturday 18th

 

Book review – for readers and writers – no.173: Morgen Bailey reviews Holmes: The Darlington Substitution by Melvyn Small

Today’s book review of a novella is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. I no longer take requests for reviews but you’re welcome to send me your book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

Holmes: The Darlington Substitution by Melvyn Small

Synopsis: With Watson’s literary career going from strength to strength, he secures a slot on local radio to publicise his new book.  Uncertain as how to well it went, he is still a little surprised when the recording isn’t broadcast. Although disappointed, he disregards this snub to his confidence as a peculiar but unimportant bend in the path of his literary career.

Sherlock Holmes is not so dismissive. He seizes upon the event, certain that there is more to this rebuff than meets the eye. He grills Watson to the content of his interview, convinced a key fact will reveal all. There is nothing. Watson is sure off that. An investigation ensues that takes Holmes to the end of the known world, a place just near Thirsk.

The Darlington Substitution is a retrospective account, occurring during the same time as the adventures chronicled in Holmes Volume 2. It sees Holmes at the height of his wisecracking, foulmouthed, law disregarding deductive brilliance.

This novella is available in chapter segments via https://www.indipenned.com/index.php?p1=short-stories with more information at http://www.melsmall.com/fiction/darlington-substitution.

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Melvyn Small is an author and the founder of Indipenned, a website that champions the work of independent literature. Thus far he has written two books, Holmes Volume 1 and the imaginatively titled follow up Holmes Volume 2 (Subsequently republished by Fahrenheit Press as the Victor Locke Chronicles).

Mel’s perhaps unique spin on Sherlock Holmes, which places the character in a different time, location and section of society, has found fans around the world and is fast becoming a cult classic.  His writing style is pacey and littered with gin-dry humour. It has been described as “hilarious, clever and hugely enjoyable.”  The Darlington Substitution novella is his longest story so far and perhaps his best work to date.

Review

As a crime fan, I love a murder mystery. Although my preference is for contemporary – not a fan of anything before the 1980s (I’m a late sixties baby) – I know the Holmes and Watson stories well enough, albeit from the television more than the written word. As an editor, I’m a tough crowd but was soon won over. During Watson’s first encounter (other than with Holmes), he’s invited to download another author’s book so I knew I was in even more familiar territory.

The swearing near the start might put off the more sensitive of readers but it’s far from indicative of the story or quality of the writing. You don’t have to be a Holmes efficienado but I smiled as there were familiar names (the Twisted Lip pub to name one).

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Book review – for readers and writers – no.173: Morgen reviews Rocco and the Nightingale by Adrian Magson

Today’s book review, is brought to you by Adrian Magson who gave us ‘A Change of Setting’ yesterday and previously talked about planning.

I no longer take review requests but you can read the ones done to-date on book-reviews. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. So, on to today’s book…

Rocco and the Nightingale

Synopsis: When a minor Paris criminal is found stabbed in the neck on a country lane in Picardie it looks like another case for Inspector Lucas Rocco. But instead he is called off to watch over a Gabonese government minister, hiding out in France following a coup.

Meanwhile, Rocco discovers that there is a contract on his head taken out by an Algerian gang leader with a personal grudge against him.

The novel is available from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rocco-Nightingale-Inspector-Lucas/dp/0995751013 (change the .co.uk to your country).

Author biography: Adrian is a freelance writer and reviewer, the author of twenty-two crime and spy thrillers, a writer’s help book (at the back of which I get a credit!), a young adult ghost novel and two collections of short fiction.

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Review

As many crime novels do, the story alternates between the criminals and police, and poor Rocco has the added complication of babysitting a reluctant African dignitary – accompanied by his bodyguard – with scant support from Rocco’s superiors. Over the course of the novel, we meet a variety of Rocco’s colleagues and a fine array of the underworld’s finest.

As a former dog owner, I liked the comparison between one of the victims and a sheepdog “that didn’t understand what he’s supposed to do. Good at running but crap at following the whistle.” Funny.

Humour is often evident in crime novels, and it’s well known that the police (in real life) make jokes to keep themselves, and their colleagues, sane. Another particularly amusing line was (and I assure you that it doesn’t refer to a child but a man from the Interior Ministry): ‘Rocco wondered if drop-kicking the little tyke down the stairs could be done without losing his job, and decided not. Maybe he could put sugar in his petrol tank… or something stronger.’ (Don’t try that at home!)

There was plenty of conflict – good vs. evil as well as antagonising characters – and well paced.

This is the fifth novel in the Rocco series. I’ve not yet read the previous stories so came to this one as a standalone reader and didn’t feel that I had (a) missed vital information that had already been covered in the previous novels that we should have had here; nor (b) information where it feels it’s been over-explained.

Rocco himself is highly professional and dedicated, wanting to solve the cases he’s involved in (and one’s he’s relieved of). He’s wily, and cleverly outplays a younger colleague without her knowing to suit his end without the reader losing any respect for him because we know it’s in the best interest of the case.

And now for writers…

  • The best piece of writing advice is to ‘show’ not ‘tell’. An example in this novel is ‘The old man looked shocked’ which is fine but it’s always best to have the character doing or saying something, e.g. ‘The old man’s mouth dropped open, his eyes wide’… or something better! 🙂
  • Exposition is a lesser-known term. It’s where two characters are talking about a topic they both are familiar with and know a piece of information but one has forgotten it and asks the other to remind them. It is a technique some authors use to provide information for the reader’s benefit. This may not have been Adrian’s intention but it’s a useful occurrence as I get to tell you about it. So, in this case we have…
    Character 1: ‘Maybe the information was rubbish.’
    Character 2: ‘What was it again?’
  • There were few clichés, which are fine in dialogue (up to a point – one character only) but less so in narration and an example is ‘nip it in the bud’.
  • At times, the story strayed into present tense, e.g. now, here, this, today etc. When writing in past tense, the narration should stay in past tense so the equivalents would be: then (although most ‘now’s can actually be removed), that, the previous day / a day earlier / the day before etc. Dialogue will be present tense regardless.
  • There were also points where it wasn’t clear who the he / she / him / her was where there were two characters of the same gender in the same scene or conversation. An example would be: ‘Rocco wasn’t so sure. It was the end of a long road, and time would tell if the charges stuck and Farek went down. He had no illusions about what a clever lawyer could do…’. The ‘He’ means Rocco but the last male name mentioned was Farek so the reader could think it was Farek who had no illusions.

Conclusion

It was an intricate plot, cleverly weaved, but I didn’t feel lost or confused, the expertise of the author of so many (twenty-two) novels. It was interesting to see how the threads would converge at the end.

Although crime is my favourite genre, I’m not normally a reader of historical fiction. With the occasional reference, e.g. telex rather than fax or email, and characters being threatened with the guillotine, it felt like a contemporary story and for me, an enjoyable read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

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Book review – for readers and writers – no.172: Morgen Bailey reviews Silent as the Grave by Paul Gitsham

Today’s book review of a crime novel is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

Paul Gitsham’s Silent as the Grave

pg-satgSynopsis: The body of Reginald Williamson had been well concealed under a bush in Middlesbury Common and the murder efficiently carried out – a single stab wound to the chest. Reggie’s dog had been killed just as efficiently. With no clues or obvious motive, the case is going nowhere. Then he (Morgen: Warren not the dog!) gets a break.

Warren’s instincts tell him that the informant is dodgy – a former police officer under investigation. But when Warren hears the incredible story he has to tell, he’s glad to have given him a chance to speak. Suddenly, a wide criminal conspiracy, involving high-level police corruption, a gangster and a trained killer, is blown wide open… (Morgen: repetition of ‘wide’!) and Warren finds that this time, it’s not just his career under threat, but his family – and his life.

This novel is available via https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silent-Grave-Warren-Jones-crime-ebook/dp/B00ULOOOIY and https://www.amazon.com/Silent-Grave-Warren-Jones-crime-ebook/dp/B00ULOOOIY etc.

Review

  • Like all good crime stories, we start with a dead body… two in fact. There are lots of threads going on but not so many that we can’t keep track as they weave throughout the story.
  • The character names are distinctive so readers shouldn’t get confused. I always recommend not having characters names with the same beginning letter (as it’s how we remember them if they’ve not been mentioned for a while) and not look similar, e.g. Tim, Tom, Bill, Will etc.
  • There is a lot to like in this novel including ‘”Whatever the crisis, boil the kettle” was based on solid, empirical evidence in Warren’s experience.’ It works for me. 🙂 Warren is, especially as a boy, an avid reader so I like him all the more.
  • Paul is great at characters especially their description (Windermere is brilliant) and with a rogue ex-boyfriend being one of them, it’s easy to feel even more sorry for the murder victim’s niece.
  • Writers should pull at their readers’ heartstrings (to use a cliché!) and having read the first two novels in this series, the mention of Warren’s father’s death pulled at mine.
  • I suspect that Warren’s choice of radio stations (BBC Radio 2 and Heart) are also Paul’s favourites, as he and I are similar ages and they’re my favourites too.
  • There are some technicalities in this novel, especially when talking about body temperatures. The worst thing to do when writing any kind of fiction is to get a fact wrong as there will always be readers who know what you are talking about and if there’s one thing they don’t believe they will loose faith that you either know what you’re writing or that you’ve done your accurate research. Paul is a teacher rather than having a police background but it all felt authentic.

And now for writers…

  • The title is a cliché but that’s fine because it’s the title. Clichés are best avoided (unless said by a character who uses them which makes them distinctive) in the narration and I spotted ‘clutching at straws’, ‘snow white’, ‘like the back of his hand’, ‘as white as a ghost’, ‘as long as your arm’, ‘grabbing at straws’, ‘bolt upright’, ‘spun on his heel’, and ‘pitch black’ (the latter in the free short story after the novel).
  • There is some switching of points of view in the same scene, e.g. ‘If she thought the question strange, she didn’t let it bother her.’ Most readers wouldn’t pick up on this but it does slip from Warren’s point of view to the woman, because we’re talking about her emotions and she may be bothered but not showing it. Everything that’s narrated has to stay with the main character’s point of view so it should have been ‘‘If she thought the question strange, it didn’t show.’ In a scene where Sheehey and Warren are talking about Warren’s father’s death, we are both the two characters’ points of view whereas we should only be in Warren’s, so be careful with your writing that you stick with your main character only unless you start a new section with the other character taking the lead. Then in chapter 26, Warren has woken up after a nap and the scene with his wife going into her point of view as well as his.
  • Ago versus before: when writing (narration) in past tense, timings change, e.g. yesterday isn’t yesterday because you’re already in the past. It’s ‘the day before’ or ‘a day earlier’. Ditto ‘ago’ e.g. ‘until he retired a few years ago’ should be ‘… a few years earlier’. Characters speak in present tense so timings are accurate for them.
  • There are very few other slips in tense with ‘the man that they believe is behind the operation’ that should have been ‘believed was behind’.
  • Whilst vs while: I’ve been picked up (in a review) for using the old-fashioned ‘whilst’ rather than ‘while’ and there are 58 ‘whilst’s in this manuscript (thank you, Mrs Kindle search) so they do become obvious after a while… whilst. 🙂
  • ‘Well’ is one of my bugbears when used as a dialogue pause. We say it but we also so ‘er’ and shouldn’t use them in our writing.
  • A lot of writers (in my experience) have said ‘started to’ (or ‘began to’) unnecessarily, e.g. ‘John started to sing.’ You only need the ‘started to’ if he’s interrupted.
  • Another issue to be careful of it when you have two characters of the same gender; make sure that all the ‘he’s and ‘she’s refer to the last character name mentioned. If there could be any doubt, it’s something that could make the reader come out of the flow of the story – it happened to me here – and you want to avoid that.
  • Something else I come across is the shaking of hands. You wouldn’t think it would be too tricky but here we have ‘Taking his cue, Warren stood up and stuck his hand out. Jordan met him, shaking firmly.’ The reader could think that Jordan’s body was shaking so it should be ‘shaking it firmly’. *which itself is a split infinitive so should be ‘stuck out his hand’.
  • Again, it’s seeing our writing from a reader’s point of view. We know what we mean by something but regardless of how good a writer you are, you always need someone else (at least one person, and ideally a professional) to look through your manuscript to tell you something they don’t ‘get’. An example here was when a character was ‘dragged into the living room by a foot’. There are three possibilities here: they were only dragged a short distance (a foot = twelve inches), someone was using their own foot to drag them, or what I assume was intended: they were dragged by one of the feet.
  • Other repetitions: ‘Pretty scrupulous / pretty much’, at least two ‘back to the present’, a few licking of lips, ‘we were able to build that link between him and the case we’d built’, and ‘to reconstruct the ancient structure’ jarred with me. Later there is ‘tall man in his early Although he’d lost the brawn of his early…’ Also slipping through the net was ‘…kill him after all these years? After all, … your father’s death. He did him a favour, after all.’ And ‘…never turned coffee down* – and sent me down… jotted a few numbers down*’, ‘could have lifted him off the floor and twisted his head off*’. It’s all too easy not to spot this kind of repetition but it becomes more obvious when reading our work aloud (in my case via my Kindle Fire’s text-to-speech function). I’d recommend everyone doing that. *split infinitives should be ‘never turned down coffee’, ‘jotted down a few numbers’, ‘twisted off his head’.
  • There weren’t many typos but I spotted: ‘It is alleged that while he one of the most successful crime lords…’, ‘What did do Reggie afterwards?’, ‘little more that hearsay’, ‘I need you to take (the) briefing’, ‘he prayed silently as (he) took…’, ‘she needed to tell to you…’.
  • Finally, this is a very personal bug bear but I really don’t like ‘long moment’ / ‘long second’ and we have both in this story. Like a reader not reading a prologue – I don’t if they’re more than two pages – it’s not the writer’s fault if there’s a phrase a reader doesn’t like so if you like those phrases then keep them in.

Conclusion

A very enjoyable read for fans of crime novels with solid characters, vivid description and realistic dialogue.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction CompetitionRONE 2015 Judge.

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