Media Kits, Sell Sheets and You by Christine Duncan

Back when I first was published, a media kit was a folder that included things like your bio, your book cover, interview questions, a press release and a sell sheet that you sent out in hopes of getting more media coverage. It cost to put it together, it cost to send it out and you did it anyway, because you wanted to get someone to notice your book.
Things are different now, and I want to encourage all of you to check out this wonderful post that will help you do a media kit that will help you promote your own book. About the only thing this post doesn’t help you do is put together a sell sheet. Don’t be put off by the term, all it really is, is information on your book. Here is a great article on that.

I’ve read that some people still print out a press kit folder for local marketing, say, for the library.   But all in all, this is much more cost effective than it used to be.  Thank God.

But That Could Never Actually Hapen – Oh, Wait, It Did

It’s been the oddest year for news. I mean really, look back at the year’s news and think to yourself, if I saw this on a TV show, or read it in a book, I’d never believe it. Maybe some parts of it on House of Cards, or The Thick of It, or Black Mirror, or some The Day Today, or some very bizarre comedy shows, but all of it? All in one year? All of it it true?

People often read or watch a story and say ‘that could never happen in real life’. I say this as I watch news coverage of a gorilla that escaped from its enclosure, it’s keeper had a quick chat with him, and the the gorilla drank 5 litres of black currant juice. In London. The centre of London. And that’s not the strangest thing that’s happened this month.

I’ve often heard life is stranger than fiction. It turns out, it’s true. It’s really, honestly, actually true. I heard news stories that wouldn’t be out of place in a spy thriller, or a sci-fi book this year. So if you want to write something odd, different, strange, and someone says it could never happen, take heart. It almost probably could. And if it did, it was this year.

And it’s not over yet. I tell you what, I cannot wait to read the books that come out of this year, fiction and non-fiction. And when, in twenty years time, people read those books, and say it’s unbelievable, I can say (in an ominous undertone, of course) ‘I was there. Believe it’

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

I Need a Halloween Book to Read by Christine Duncan

I am wearing my Halloween socks and shirt, I have decorated the house and leaves are showering my front lawn with every gust of wind. But I need a Halloween book to read.
I love reading holiday themed books. But I seem to have read most of the Halloween books available. I love kids books, because they joyfully celebrate the holidays. Luckily, I have a couple of cute little guys to read to.

But if anyone knows of an Adult Halloween themed mystery, please let me know.

By the way, I’ve written this post twice. Once I wrote it on WordPress on my Android phone. I pressed Actions, and publish. The only thing I saw published was the title. The rest of the post was blown away. This is not the first time this has happened to me. Is there a glitch with WordPress and Android? Or am I doing something wrong?


I went to the Crime Writers Association Awards this week, as House at Baker Street had been nominated for an Historical Dagger (I didn’t win, but given the high standard of the other nominees, I’m just amazed I made the shortlist)

I wanted to see and possibly meet some of my favourite writers whilst I was there, but I realised something as soon as I walked.

I didn’t know what any of them looked like.

I’ve seen publicity photos, but no one looks like their publicity photo. I don’t look like mine except in a very flattering light.

Everyone was very chatty and friendly, but the more I looked around, the more I realised the people chatting were publicists and editors and publishers.

Remember last week when I got so angry about Elena Ferrante’s identity being revealed? I think even when we write under own names, we’re still invisible. We can walk down a street and no one knows who we are. We can sit in an awards ceremony, nominated and unless we win, no one knows who we are.

I think we need this. I think we need to be in the background. That way we can watch. No one performs for us. No one tries to be their best for us. They just are, and we watch, and then write.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sunday Night by Christine Duncan

I had a post in mind to write tonight. To be honest, I watched the debate instead. And now, I can think of nothing else. Seriously, these are my choices?
I’m going to pray for our nation and then I’m going to bed. I am terribly depressed.

Unmasking Elena Ferrante

Elena Ferrante writes evocative and haunting novels about women living in Italy just after the Second World War. Her name is a pseudonym and until recently, no one knew who she was.

That was until a journalist decided he had the right, without Ms Ferrante’s permission, to rip away that anonymity and reveal her alleged true identity to the world.

I hate this. Elena Ferrante said that she wrote anonymously to give her the freedom to write what she wished. There’s a possibility that a lot of what she writes is autobiographical, and she wishes to protect her family. And she wants the peace and time to write without being bothered by everything that comes with being a writer – the publicity, the tours and so on.

She didn’t set out to be a famous writer. But her books spoke to a lot of people, especially women, and she became very popular. This made this journalist believe that he had the right to chase her down and expose her. His excuse was that she had made a lot of money from this novels, so he, as a reader, had the right to know who his money is going to.

Rubbish. He just didn’t want a woman hiding herself for him. He demanded the right to know everything about this woman, just because she was famous. It’s the same thinking that leads people to hack the computers of famous actresses to get nude photos, and then are surprised when people complain. But they’re sexy in the movies, they argue, so their body belongs to me, and I want to see it. I don’t her to hide away from me. I don’t her to control who sees her when.

And now that this man thinks he knows she is, he is demanding to know why she didn’t about the relatives he thinks are interesting. First he rips away her chosen identity, and now he’s trying to tell her what to do with her talent.

Many of Elena’s readers are furious. We didn’t want to know, they argue.
We liked her anonymity. We liked imagining who she was and that perhaps this part of the books were true, or maybe this part – but her actual identity wasn’t important. Her invisibility meant we concentrated only on the writing, not the writer. We liked the cloak that shrouded her, we didn’t want it ripped to shreds. This is an intrusion into her life. This is against all the beliefs espoused in the books. The books talk about women taking the power back from the men who control them, and this man has stolen Elena Ferrante’s power.

She may never publish again now her anonymity is gone, and that would be a huge loss. I hope he enjoys his five minutes of fame. He’s done his best to destroy a good writer, because he thought he had the right to expose this woman.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Do You Ever Rewrite Another’s Book? by Christine Duncan

Can you read a novel if you dislike the hero? I mean, yes, of course, you can, but will you? I don’t think so.

I read a lot of mysteries and I love the mystery that will keep me guessing until the end. So I often find myself reading something where the hero or heroine starts out the book in a situation that at best, could be called compromising. You as the reader, already know the worst about the hero.  The author is inviting the reader to keep on reading to see what really happened.

Recently, I read one where the heroine stated that she had killed her husband and that she loved her husband all in the same opening sentence. I read it, wanting to know what went on and was not disappointed.

But I picked up a book this week that I can’t finish. I won’t tell you the title or author but I will recap the opening scenes as they illustrate my problem. The heroine is driving to her home town and seems in a hurry. She crosses a final bridge, her thoughts filled with memories and yet she keeps pressing on. Her car becomes out of control on the bridge and she sideswipes another vehicle. She sees a child in the other car, as it goes over the edge. And yet she drives on.

I had been intrigued and willing to let the dance play out until this moment when she leaves, thinking, “It wasn’t my fault. I’m sorry.” I don’t like this woman. At all. And I won’t finish this book.

I have read books that pushed the envelope on character like-ability. But this one is beyond any hope of like. That anyone could think anything could be more important than the lives of others is beyond me.

So the game for me this week is what would make this book redeemable? Under what circumstances would I have thought to finish?

There is at least one, I suppose. If the heroine was saving the world and had to get somewhere to avert that, I could see this scene play out. But the heroine would not think, “It’s not my fault.”  Rather, she would have been torn between the car going over the edge and her mission.  She would have frantically phoned someone else to help the people in the car that was going over the edge as she kept going.  She would have tried.

As writers we’re in people’s heads.  And no one is a villain in their own head, are they?