Books


It’s time for a change.

I’ve changed my profile photo over social media. I’ve also changed various cover photos.

Miriam Drori

I have news, but I can’t divulge it yet.

And, in conjunction with the featuring of me on Crooked Cat’s website from tomorrow, 7th March, this post is the one you should use to ask me questions. You can ask me anything at all. I don’t promise to answer everything, but I’ll do my best!

So, do watch the (possibly unusual) video and read the extra stuff, all on Crooked Cat’s home page. And then come back here to ask about me, my life, my books, my writing, even… Shock   …my poetry.

OK, your turn, go to the comments
OK, your turn, go to the comments
OK, your turn, go to the comments

Important: My Kindle titles are reduced for this week. That’s CULTIVATING A FUJI and SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED.

Two Books On Sale

OK, your turn, go to the comments
OK, your turn, go to the comments me page, you have to click Comments at the top
(But if you’re reading this from the Home page, you have to click Comments at the top )

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted to welcome Jack Smith to the blog, today. Jack is no stranger to me, as he’s taken a major part in all the Isabel Long mystery novels so far and I’ve been lucky enough to edit them all. Joan Livingston, the author, has done a fantastic job with them, and more is on the way.

Back to Jack, who’s worried about Isabel. He’s the owner of the Rooster Bar and Grille and Isabel works part-time for him. What worries Jack is that Isabel is also using her skills as a former longtime journalist to solve cold cases in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts as a private investigator. Here’s what he’s written to her:

Dear Isabel

I’ve never written a letter to a woman before. But I wanted to get a few things off my chest. Don’t worry, I ain’t breaking up with you, honey. I would lose the best bartender I ever hired if I did that. Yeah, I’m kidding.

The reason I’m writing is that I’m scared to death something bad is going happen to you being a private investigator. In your first case, you got knocked in the head so bad, I had to carry you out of the woods. Remember? Then you broke your collar bone when that ass drove you off the road. I do suspect something really bad almost happened when Gary Beaumont hired you. What really went on at that cliff? I’m guessing you’re holding back some, so I won’t worry about you. You’re right. I’m afraid to hear the whole story.

You’re on your fourth case. I know your mother helps you out, but she can’t be with you all the time. Besides, Marie is 93. What is she supposed to do to save you other than to try talking some sense into you?

Then, there are the characters you meet like that guy Victor Wilson. You and I both know what he’s up to on his property. How about Gary Beaumont and his loser of a brother, Larry? I banned all three of them permanently from the Rooster and for good reason. Now I heard from my cousin Fred you might be dealing with crooked cops. Isabel, what am I going to do with you?

We’ve been together since last November, well, except for a couple of months. I don’t want to get into that. I can say I’m one happy man when we’re together, and I’m not just talking about when we’re in bed. You’re different than the other women I’ve been with. I haven’t told you to your face what you mean to me. I guess I’m kinda shy about that since the only other woman I told that is dead. I don’t have to tell you who that was since she was your first case.

What I can say in this letter is that I understand why you are doing these investigations. You want to help people. I have no power to stop you. I just want you to be more careful although I know you’re as stubborn as hell and that what I say isn’t going to stop you from finding out what went wrong in these towns. I just don’t want you to get hurt. I don’t want to lose you.

Jack

About the Isabel Long Mystery Series

Joan Livingston - Isabel Long Mystery Series

Isabel Long is a former journalist turned private investigator solving cold cases in the rural hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She’s smart, sassy and what the French would call une femme d’un certain age. She works part-time at the Rooster Bar and Grille, where she gets plenty of useful tips for her cases. And she’s lucky to have her savvy 93-year-old mother as her “Watson.”

Her first case was solving what happened to a woman who disappeared 28 years earlier. In her next two cases, she discovers who’s responsible for the death of a junkyard dealer in one and a poetry-writing highway driver in another. Her fourth features a small town newspaper editor and perhaps crooked cops.

Published by Darkstroke Books, the series so far includes: Chasing the Case, Redneck’s Revenge and Checking the Traps. Next up is Killing the Story.

About Joan Livingston

Joan LivingstonJoan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Chasing the Case, Redneck’s Revenge, and Checking the Traps, published by Darkstroke Books, are the first three books in her mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur sleuth. She is in the process of finishing the fourth — Killing the Story.

Her other novels include The Sweet Spot; Peace, Love, and You Know What; and The Cousins and the Magic Fish/Los Primos y el Pez Mágico.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and then the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure. Currently, she’s the editor-in-chief of the Greenfield Recorder.

After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long Mystery Series.

For more, visit her website. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Like and follow her author page on Facebook.

***

Letters from Elsewhere truly is back for a new series, started last week by Dan, who was brought by Jo Fenton. (Thanks again, Jo.) If you’re an author and you want one of your characters to take part, let me know and we’ll arrange a date.

I will be back later today with news about the coming week. Watch this space…

Letters from Elsewhere

Well, well, well! I didn’t think this feature would return, but here it is, brought out from the woodwork by eighteen-year-old student, Dan, who is keen to show us a letter to his younger sister, Sharon.

Dan has popped over from the pages of Revelation, a new novel by friend and author, Jo Fenton. In fact Revelation was released just three days ago.

Dear Sis,

Thanks for your letter. It’s great to know that I have one family member who cares about me. I can’t talk too freely here for reasons you understand only too well. How is Dad? Did he see my last effort?

I was too upset to say much when I last wrote, and I had a bad headache, which I’ll explain more about today. I think I just mentioned that my friend, Rick, was found… I can’t even write the word. My hand’s shaking so much, but you can probably see that from my writing. I hope it’s not too illegible.

They still don’t know if it was accidental or if someone hurt him on purpose, but he was such an amazing person. Why would anyone like that have enemies?

Becky’s trying to find out more. I think I told you about her last term. She’s pretty cool, and a good friend. I found out we’d met a while back through a national Jewish youth weekend. Somehow she remembered me. I’ve no idea why. I don’t usually stand out in a crowd. As you know, I’m usually the quiet, geeky one in the corner.

Anyway, to go back to that day, Becky reminded me that I was the last person to see Rick alive, and I freaked out and went for a long walk. It was so cold that day, and it started to snow. I slipped and hit my head on the ground. As you know, I’m not good with the red stuff, and I passed out on top of everything.

I came round to find this bloke squatting on the ground next to me. His name’s Alan, and he’s very kind. He’s some sort of religious leader, and he’s into Kabbalah – you know – Jewish mysticism.

You remember we were told in Hebrew classes that no one can start learning that stuff before the age of 40? He thinks that’s a load of rubbish, and that everyone should be able to access it when needed. He wants to help me, and told me about his group when he took me to the hospital to get my head stitched.

I’m not sure if it’ll help. There’s a hole inside me the size of a glacier and twice as cold. I can’t breathe sometimes.

The only time I felt like this was when Mum passed away. It took well over a year before I began to feel anything close to normal again, and I dread each anniversary, birthday or Mother’s Day. I know you feel the same. Dad never seems to care. He’s too busy with his blasted business.

Maybe in a year I’ll begin to feel normal about this too, but that feels a lifetime away, and the only way I’m going to get through this is with you and Becky, and perhaps with this guy Alan (who, I’d better add, is not my type. Excuse the small writing here – hopefully too small for his lordship to read.)

Look after yourself. I hope you’re okay. The phone situation here is crap. 1 phone between 46 people. Maybe if it’s quiet one evening, I’ll be able to give you a call. Don’t hold your breath though.

Love Dan.

If, like me, you’re left with a lot of questions, who know where to find the answers.

About RevelationRevelation by Jo Fenton

Manchester, 1989

A student, Rick, is found dead in halls of residence.

His friends get caught up in the aftermath: Dan, who was in love with Rick; and Becky, who is in love with Dan.

Their fraught emotions lead them into dark places – particularly a connection to a mysterious Kabbalistic sect.

Will Becky discover who killed Rick in time to save her best friend?

Find Revelation on Amazon.

Jo’s two previous books are also on Amazon: The Brotherhood and The Refuge.

About Jo Fenton

Jo FentonJo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age and, at eleven, discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. She now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.

When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her family and is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and two reading groups.

You can find Jo on social media at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

I admit it. For the first time, I cheated  this year at NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo? You know – that month when crazy people all over the world try to write a novel in a month?

True, I typed every word, but they weren’t all new words. I was rewriting my debut novel, changing third person to first and past tense to present, adding more thoughts and new scenes. I love the way it turned out, although it still needs more work.

The Rewrite Process

In NaNoWriMo terms, I “won” easily. I reached the target of 50,000 words on 19th November. Then I continued to the end of the story, and even found time to go back and add things that were left out.

I’m clearly not the only cheat. The NaNoWriMo site even has a name for cheats: NaNo Rebel. Yay!

I'm a NaNo Rebel

Despite cheating, or maybe because of it, I learned new things.

What I learned

  • I have plenty of time to devote to writing. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to “win” every year.
  • I write best and fastest on my own at home.
  • I still love write-ins, where we discuss our novels and also write together.
  • I can write with background noise, but get distracted by songs I know and love.
  • I need a detailed plan. It takes me too long to create new scenes as I write, if I haven’t planned properly.
  • I love NaNoWriMo. Yeah, I knew that before.

For those who still don’t get it, don’t be put off by the words “write a novel in a month.” We all know we won’t end up with a completed novel. It’s only a first draft, and even that won’t be complete, as most novels are longer than 50,000 words. But, even if you don’t “win,” you end the month with something to work on. It’s much better than a blank page.

This post was inspired by this one by fellow writer, Joan Livingston. I’ve even used the same title. I hope she doesn’t mind.

I’ve moved around in my life, possibly not as much as Joan, but I did move countries. In fact I just celebrated that anniversary – forth-three years, which is at the same time hard to believe and feels obvious. As I was fairly young at the time of the move, I hadn’t acquired enough stuff to warrant sending a container. I just took what I could in my suitcase.

My Oldest Books

What books did I bring with me? I don’t think I brought all of these in one go, but I brought some back with me on each visit. So, these are all books I had in the UK, which arrived in Israel, either on that first day or soon afterwards, and have remained with me ever since. There might be more; this is what a cursory search produced:

The Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrical Poems in the English Language, selected and arranged by Francis Turner Palgrave

I inherited this book, published in 1952, from my big brother. There are poems by Tennyson, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Byron, Milton, Keats, Scott, Wordsworth, Browning, and more.

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

I haven’t read much science fiction, and this is probably my first read of the genre.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

I haven’t read any of his books for a long time, but he used to be a favourite of mine.

The History of Mr. Polly by H.G. Wells

I had to read this for ‘O’ level English Lit. Even so, I enjoyed it.

Exodus by Leon Uris

This was probably one of the first things that influenced my decision to move to Israel.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

Funnily enough, I recently saw the film and the story came flooding back to me.

How to be a Jewish Mother by Dan Greenburg

I loved this book when I was quite little. I still remember at least one joke:

Give your son Marvin two sports shirts as a present. The first time he wears one of them, look at him sadly and say in your Basic Tone of Voice: “The other one you didn’t like?”

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Another ‘O’ level book I enjoyed.

The Star and the Sword by Pamela Melnikoff

The book I would never lend! First of all, it was the first book I read in which I identified with the main characters. Even though it’s set in medieval times, the two Jewish children felt closer than any from books by Enid Blyton or any other story I’d read up to then. Also, this book contains a note to me from Gabriel Costa, a lovely man who lived in our street. He was in his nineties when he gave me the book in 1965, and still wrote book reviews for newspapers.

Note to me from Gabriel Costa

The Oxford Companion to Music by Percy A. Scholes

This hefty volume helped me get through ‘O’ and ‘A’ level music. Who would buy a book like that, these days, when all the information is available online?

How about you? What books have always accompanied you?

And while you’re thinking about that…

Remember my books, available from Amazon: Social Anxiety Revealed and Cultivating a Fuji.

It’s the beginning of October. That means it’s less than a month to…

NaNoWriMo Writer

…NaNoWriMo! (That month when people all over the world go a bit crazy, trying to write 50,000 words, all in November.)

The question, this year, was never whether I was going to join in. I didn’t even consider missing out on all the fun (and hard work). It was what I was going to write.

NaNo2Small.jpg

At a NaNoWriMo Meetup in Jerusalem, 2018

I decided on something. I created the book on the new NaNoWriMo website, complete with cover, description, Pinterest board and playlist.

Then I changed my mind. I’m going to rewrite my novel, Neither Here Nor There. When I’ve reached the end, at a date that hopefully will coincide with the end of November, I’ll examine the two versions and decide which parts to keep and which to discard.

Now I have to do some plotting. I’ve already made one decision: the title is going to change. The current title is One Foot. But I might have second thoughts about that. Or third thoughts. The cover will definitely change.

OneFootCover

Temporary cover for a probably temporary title

A widely travelled banking expert, corporate trouble-shooter, wordsmith, writer of crime novels and poetry, filler of social media with humour and sincerity, and now… autobiographer. It’s the amazing Seumas Gallacher with news of a journey.

A Journey to myself – writing my autobiography

Seumas GallacherFor authors, the old maxim is often quoted, ‘Write about what you know.’

I’ve been at this writing game properly for over a decade now, with a back list of five crime thrillers, a book of my poetry, a self-help marketing and promotional guide for authors, and almost 2,000 blog posts. Add to that a catalogue of half-a-dozen ghostwriting assignments for other people’s ‘autobiographies’, and it’s of little wonder that the thought occurred to put my own life story and experiences to print. ‘Write about what you know.’

What happened next was a sometime bewildering, sometime painful, sometime joyful, but always exhilarating, writing trip of discovery. I now understand more clearly than ever before just how much I am truly an amalgam of everything, everybody and everywhere with which and with whom I have ever been associated.

Were there regrets? Of course. Probably far too many to register. I doubt if more than a handful of people on this planet have led a flawless, blameless existence. But I do know that every single incident and experience, good, bad and indifferent, was necessary to bring me to this moment in my life. And I would not seek to change one second of it.

Jack Calder Crime Series

It is amazing how memories bring back not only the plain telling of the story, but for me, it also recalled the feelings and emotions that I had in most of them. I felt them again, and again, and again, some with laughter, but also many of them attended with a quiet tear.

I believe, at this age, finally, I am aware of who and what I am as a person. I like the man I see in the mirror each morning, although it was not always thus. I have acquired a tolerance of myself and my own shortcomings, but more importantly, I have learned to ‘live and let live’ in relation to others whom I meet day to day.

What surprises me, is that having published the book just a few weeks ago, I find that I am remembering many other things which could have been included in the memoir. I will resist the temptation to edit online the Amazon Kindle version, which is easy to do, on the same premise that once I finish writing my novels, I leave them finished.

To all my author friends and even those who have not yet caught the writing addiction, you may want to consider a similar project. It is a wondrous journey to yourself.

 

Strangely I'm Still HereHere’s the book blurb:

Fact is often more incredible than fiction.

Seumas Gallacher has survived long enough to savour places, characters and events for more than forty years in the Far East and the Arabian Gulf.

He started life in Scotland, travelled far and wide as a wannabe Trainee Master of the Universe, but the Universe had other plans for him.

From a career in banking, he escaped to become a corporate trouble-shooter.

He discovered the joy and torture of becoming a wordsmith, writing five best-selling crime novels, a book of poetry, and being hyper-active on social media.

Strangely, I’m Still Here is his story.

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