Undercover: Crime Shorts is my dream come true.
A long-held dream come true
Back in the long distant past, I wanted to become a writer but as I’ve often explained in interviews, and on blogs, this didn’t become reality until my former career in the international music business slowed down and I managed to have some time to myself. For me. A luxury I can tell you.
As a child, I was an avid reader. I read everything and anything with adventure and a puzzle to solve. Enid Blyton, Robert Louis Stevenson and many others fuelled my interest and excitement. Not for me the girl’s books my friends were reading. I wanted the thrill of the chase, the victory on the high seas, the puzzles set by writers who knew how to draw one in and keep the reader prisoner until the last chapter ended.
Later, I read John Le Carre, Frederick Forsythe, Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler and of course, Agatha Christie, to name a few of my earliest favourite authors of which I had many. And since then the list had grown longer and longer. Patricia Cornwall – her early books especially – Nelson DeMille, Karin Slaughter, Michael Connolly, David Baldacci, Peter James, Peter Robinson, and Kathy Reichs – who, by the way, inspired me to take 7 courses in Forensic Science and Criminal Justice – as well as 1 in Archaeology – with online respected universities and tutors such as Professor Dame Sue Black of Dundee University. Last, but not by any means the end of my list, is former Director General of MI5, Dame Stella Rimington who inspires me in so many ways. I love her Liz Carlyle series.
I was fortunate to join a writing group in 2011 and we put out an anthology of short stories in aid of a charity, The Norfolk Hospice – the book is out of print now – and the reviews encouraged me to be daring and put myself ‘out there.’ I contributed articles and flash fiction pieces for various online magazines and my confidence grew, although a life-long friend and best-selling, award-winning author, Christina Jones, always read my work and encouraged me, I was still not convinced I was able to write anything of value. However, we’d always wanted to write together, but since I write mostly crime and she writes Buccolic Frolics and we thought never-the-twain…see later on.
Another Charity anthology – I am Woman Vol 1 – (in aid of Women for Women, Breakthrough, and Women’s Aid) accepted my work and, again, I received encouraging reviews. By this time I had started this blog and had become friends with a fabulous author and supporter of writers, Margot Kinberg. She asked for contributions to her anthology in aid of her late friend, author, editor and blogger, Maxine Clarke – In A Word: Murder, and I was thrilled to death when she accepted two short stories from me: Dreamer and Hollywood Cover-up. Again, I received really exciting reviews which encouraged, although surprised me.
All the while I was writing, not only short stories and flash fiction, but I wrote articles for online newsletters and magazines. I also wrote novels which I thought would never see the light of day. I’ve still got many more on my computer.
As I mentioned earlier, Christina and I’ve always wanted to write together but we write in different genres. She writes romance and I write crime, although sometimes my stories have strayed elsewhere – the story dictates the genre I find, but I don’t think I’ve ever written a romance, well until Only One Woman. I met Christina when she agreed to become fan-club secretary to my husband’s band back in late 1968. She was a short story author and rock/pop journalist writing for iconic ‘teen’ magazines such as Jackie.
Anyway, in 2012 I started to write a novel which I thought would have a murder in it somewhere or some sort of crime at least. I named it Only One Woman because I wanted it to have music themes throughout; it is set in the UK music scene of the late 1960s and named for a favourite hit song from 1968. written for The Marbles by The Bee Gees.
I wrote from my experience of those times – I’d married a professional musician whom I’d met during this era. I also wrote from the experience I’d garnered during my time working in the international music business with musicians, songwriters, record producers and in Hollywood and elsewhere.
Long story short, I asked Christina to write a second main character with me as I felt the story needed another point of view, and all thoughts of murder and crime went out the window as we wrote a romance – a love triangle – with great emphasis on the music, fashions, and the social changes and huge world events of that era. Eventually, Only One Woman was published in 2018 by Accent Press with a foreword written by legendary rock singer, Graham Bonnet, who sang the hit by the same name in 1968. You’ll know him from legends such as Rainbow, Alcatraz, Blackmore and MSG rock bands plus others I am sure.
I am thrilled of course, to have a novel published. But, it isn’t just mine. It is co-authored. Just as my contributions to anthologies have been. I could not put my name only on the cover. As I said earlier I have numerous novels I want to have published, especially my series about a former MI5 Intelligence Officer, Ms Birdsong Investigates which went in with my publisher, Accent Press Ltd, at the same time Only One woman, and the decision was made to hold Ms B back until Only One Woman had been published and out for a while.
Needless to say, I am still waiting.
In addition to Ms Birdsong Investigates – I have three books ready – I am also writing the sequel to Only One Woman, and completing my other novels.
I mentioned previously that I have always written short stories and I have over 100 so far. While waiting for Ms Birdsong Investigates to get published, I decided I’d at least publish some of them. But my publisher has a policy whereby they’ll publish anthologies of several of their authors for Christmas or Halloween etc, but they will not publish anthologies or collections of short stories by one author only. So I am free to self-publish my short stories or approach another publisher with them.
Undercover: Crime Shorts took me ages to collate. I found it so hard to pick the stories to go into it. I didn’t want a huge book either, but something people can pick up and put down during a journey, lunch-breaks or just before going to sleep.
I don’t know anything about self-publishing, I’ve never been involved in that side of getting a book out to the public, so I turned to Claire Plaisted who runs Plaisted Publishing House and who has published several of the anthologies I have contributed stories towards: The Ghostly Writes Anthology series. She agreed to format the book for me and generally assist me wherever she could. I am so ignorant about all this stuff. She was amazing, so patient with me. Thanks so much, Claire. She’s done a fab job.
Undercover: Crime Shorts is now out there for all the world to ignore or not. I managed to get put into Facebook Jail the week it was published and although it went straight into the Amazon ratings at #18 I was helpless to promote it but thankfully some fabulous blogging friends stepped in to share and spread the word and it hovered around #33 and ’93 for a week. I even managed #333 on Amazon USA sandwiched between Michael Connolly and Ian Rankin at one time.
So here I am. Thrilled to have my shorts stories out there and I do hope people who have enjoyed my anthology contributions will give them some consideration and, of course, many Only One Woman readers enjoy crime as well, so I hope they’ll consider reading it too.
I am chuffed to bits to have my name only, on this collection. It is a dream come true. I hope the dream continues when I publish Ms Birdsong Investigates and the sequel to Only One Woman which is underway as I write. Later I shall also publish another collection of shorts.
Thanks to all the bloggers, reviewers, and readers who have purchased Undercover: Crime Shorts and tell me they love it. I am especially thankful for reviews from Roger A Price (crime writer and former detective) for his support and for the support of other authors too numerous to list here. They know who they are. I’m immensely thankful to blogger Sally Cronin for all her support especially.
If you read Undercover: Crime Shorts, do please let me and others know what you think. Authors need incentives and receiving feedback and reviews works wonders. Thanks.