12 Sep 2016

Mrs chicken in the haunted cottage with Mrs Morton

Hello my little chickadees and how are we all today?

That headline sounds a bit like a Cluedo clue. 

On my blog this time we have B A Morton (our Babs) who not only lives in a haunted cottage but has a chicken called .... wait for it ... Mrs Chicken who wanders the garden at will.

How do I know it's haunted?  because I can see one of the past inhabitants at the top left window. (Yes i know there are people in the right hand window but can you see anyone in the left hand one? Some of you may.) It fascinates me to be honest and Babs and i have had many discussions about it over time.

Anyways enough about that. This is about Mrs Chicken. Er.... as you were ...  I mean Bab's writing and her ongoing affair with Michael Buble and chocolate.  Can I just put it out there that I also have a thing going on with Mr Buble and chocolate?

Right then lovely Babs tell me all about yourself....

Bio/ Where do you live?

Born in Newcastle, B.A.Morton (Babs)writes across a number of genres including crime, romance, horror and historical fiction. After a twenty year civil service career, she and her family escaped the rat race and relocated to Upper Coquetdale in the Northumberland National Park. She now lives in a haunted cottage built on the remains of a medieval chapel (The inspiration for her Wildewood Chronicles series).
A member of the Crime Writer’s Association and the International Thriller Writers, she is a self confessed crime fiction addict.

The Haunted Cottage

Pets – furry or human

Definitely fur and feather. We’ve always had dogs in our family and currently have a Border Terrier (our fourth child) and also look after our son’s Jack Russell on a regular basis. Both are rat assassins but have a healthy respect for Mrs C our pet chicken. We also have a number of very large goldfish which my daughter brought home from university when they were very small goldfish.

Mrs Chicken

What you do to chill out

We have a large garden which keeps us busy. I also dabble with crafty stuff (Dolls houses/furniture renovation etc.) I enjoy researching for my historical novels and of course I love to read. I enjoy crime fiction and lately I’ve been reading a selection of anthologies and short stories. It’s good to step outside your usual genre once in a while. Oh and I have been known to listen to a little bit of that chap Buble’.

Tee: Geroff woman!! He's mine I tell ya! All mine!

Day job

I used to work in the village surgery, until NHS cuts put the kybosh on that. Now I write full time. Which means I think about writing full time and write when I feel like it.

Tell me about your books. When you first started writing. How many completed. Work in progress?

I suppose like most writers I began writing at an early age, scribbling in notebooks at every opportunity, but my route to publishing came via Harper Collins Authonomy site where I met good friend and fellow crime writer John Holt who nagged me to enter The Yeovil Prize, a literary competition, and subsequently introduced me to my first publisher. I was introduced to my second publisher via another Authonomy friend Alfie Robins who writes cracking Northern crime fiction. My first novel, Mrs Jones, a crime novel set in New York, was published in 2011 and proved popular with readers. This was followed up with the next in the series Molly Brown. Since then I’ve also published one novel and three novellas in my medieval Wildewood Chronicles series (set in Northumberland and the Holy Land) Two North East based psychological thrillers Bedlam and Twisted were published last year by Caffeine Nights Publishing.
I always have a number of WiPs on the go, and tend to switch between them as the mood takes me. Currently these include follow ups to Wildewood, Bedlam and a brand new Newcastle based crime series. I also have a short story destined for a charity crime anthology being pulled together by Bloodhound Books which should be out in time for Christmas.

If you could have any animal from time immemorial as a pet for long freezing days and nights, what would you choose and why?

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve always had dogs and most have lived to be a good old age -18yrs plus. I couldn’t choose between them to be honest, so I’d have them all and they’d take over the sofa and I’d end up on the floor!

Do you prefer heat OR cold?

I guess it would have to be cold as I can’t be doing with hot weather, not that we get much of that in the UK. I like snowy days curled up in front of the log-burner with a dog by my side.

Fantasy holiday… Where would you choose to go if someone else was picking up the tab?

Australia, my daughter’s second home. She’s told us so much about the places she’s been to, we hope to visit at some point. I’d also like to catch up with much loved, Australian writer friend, Jacoba Dorothy, while I was there. Having said all that, I haven’t been on a plane since 1978 so it would definitely be an adventure. I might have to write a book about it…. Gullible’s Travels – one small writer and a big metal flying thingy.

Are you with a traditional publisher or self published?

A bit of both. When my first publisher closed, I re-published my earlier books through my own Twisted Ink Publishing imprint. The last two crime novels are with UK crime publisher Caffeine Nights and my short story, has been accepted by Bloodhound Books. I think it’s beneficial to scatter words widely.

Favourite meal (hot and cold)?

Hot would have to be a proper Sunday roast with Yorkshire puds, or homemade soup with dumplings…yum yum. Cold, come on…. brownies and icecream – obviously!

Tee: I can taste the roast and soup/dumplings from here.

Favourite drink (hot and cold)?

Hot – Hot chocolate with marshmallows of course and maybe some shortbread to dunk in. Cold - I’m not much of a drinker so it would be a soft drink, maybe something like homemade lemonade in a large glass jug with lots of ice, in the garden with strawberries.

How hard do you find book promotion?

Increasingly difficult and frustrating. There are so many books out there and without investing cash in promotion it’s very difficult to make any headway. I don’t find it easy to ‘sell’ and believe the endless self promotion often seen on social media, can have a detrimental effect on sales/readers. It’s a balance between letting folk know you’re there without boring them rigid.

Any tips or hints you’ve found that were successful for you in promotion?

I think it’s good to engage with readers whenever possible. Most popular writers have ‘teams’ loyal to their ‘brand’ who can help raise a books profile via word of mouth. Reading work at events, writers group etc helps to get the word out and sharing events with other creatives such as musicians and poets helps to extend your circle. If there’s nothing in your local area, then you could get together with other local writers and create your own event. Joining appropriate groups on FB and taking part in discussions is another good way to spread the word but don’t just pimp your books! Bottom line though – reviews are crucial.

Tee: OMG I've become a pimp !!!  :-) 

Favourite genres to read and write?

Crime fiction, twisty turny psychological crime, is my first choice to read and write. I love a tortured soul trying to do the right thing against decreasing odds. However I also enjoy historical fiction particularly the medieval period and love the research involved. I have a library of books on the crusades and the Templar knights.

You’ve set up your own publishing house using FB writer friends to help run it. What would you name it? Who would you choose to run the different departments? As the owner, how would you ensure the FB staff achieved success.

Well I already have my own publishing house Twisted Ink Publishing, but if I was to draft in some FB writer pals to help out, I’d have your good self on promotion and marketing, Tee. I’m sure you could twist a few arms up backs to get us the best promotional deals for the least dosh and make sure our books are in prime position in  every bookshop window – or else!(not that you’re scary… eeek! But there is rumour of a torture chamber and an online order for thumbscrews) 

Tee: Damnation I thought that was a reasonably well kept secret. Hm!

I’d have Reggie Jones on the entertainments committee, because he would keep our spirits up, and we’d probably need some high jinx by the end of the first day. Plus, he could help drum up some more business...boom boom. I’d have those two reprobates John Holt and Alfie Robins on the door, keeping the riff raff and e-book pirates out. As crime writers they know all the biz on dealing with undesirables – and getting rid of the bodies. 

Tee: Psst... I've got a body buried in my back garden - It's under the mock orange bush shhh

Audio versions of all our books would be produced communally (see Live Aid and Acorn Antiques) I will supply the coconut shells and reel to reel tape machine. Staff members would be rewarded for success with their own weight in chocolate and disciplined for any scallywag behaviour by having to watch said chocolate being scoffed by …erm….me! 

Tee: Babs your a woman after my own heart. (Thinks... Maybe I could use her in my torture chamber with that sadistic attitude)

Link to Amazon Author page    
Books written by B A Morton

I can certainly recommend the above books by Babs.

So for now

Laters Potaters

6 Sep 2016

Dear John................

Hello my little chickadees

On my blog this time I have John Holt. I have known John since our time at Night Publishing. 

John tell me a bit about yourself

Born in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, I have lived in Essex for 36 years with my wife Margaret, my daughter Elizabeth and Missy, our cat who adopted us.  For many years I worked in local Council, as a Chartered Surveyor. I spent 14 years with the Greater London Council, as a Senior Project Manager. When the GLC was closed down in 1986, I started my own surveying practice, carrying out property surveys, and preparing architectural drawings for conversion schemes, extensions, and new buildings. I had a heart attack in 2004, and finally retired in 2008.  In 2012 I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a two month course of radiotherapy, and hormone injections for two years. I also took alternative treatments of Amygdalin and Essiac. Although I am still being monitored, there has been no sign of the cancer since November 2014. I enjoy the theatre; and photography. I spend a lot of time restoring old family photographs. I am also a movie fan, and have quite a few old movies on DVD.

Day job

Day Job? I don’t have a day job, which is a pity really, because people keep telling not to give up the day job. Wonder what they mean by that …..

Tell me about your books. When you first started writing. How many completed. Work in progress?

I know it’s a clich├ęd comment but I think that I have always wanted to write. For some years I wrote articles for a couple of Blues magazines (sadly no longer available). I always enjoyed essay writing at school. The problem though was that I always needed to be told what the essay should be about, so I never had to dream up my own plot. To write a novel was different. Then you needed to think of a plot, and I always had great difficulty in that regard.  In 2005 we went to Austria, to the Lake District, We stayed near to Toplitzsee which was used by the German Navy during the war, to test rockets. There were rumours that as the war ended gold bullion was hidden in the lake. Suddenly I had a plot, and my first book, “The Kammersee Affair” was published (Raider in New York – a vanity publisher) in 2006. Since then there have been seven other novels – six featuring my private detective Tom Kendall, and a what if novel set during the American Civil War “The Thackery Journal”. There have also been three novellas featuring my detective Jack Daniels. I am currently working on another Kendall novel, currently entitled “Disgnosis Murder”. It is loosely based on reports (in 2015 in Florida and Georgia) of a number of doctors dying mysteriously - some were judged suicides, some were put down to accident, but many (there were way over 30cases) were deliberate killings. All were cancer specialists, and all had an interest in alternative therapies.

Also I have had several of my books translated, via Babelcube.

If you could have any animal from time immemorial as a pet for long freezing days and nights, what would you choose and why?

My collie cross Gyp, who sadly died in 1983. A wonderful affectionate, intelligent dog, and I still miss him even after thirty plus years.

Do you prefer heat OR cold?

Well I have to admit I don’t like it too hot, but I don’t like it cold either. I hate the wind, and the rain. A nice comfortable heat, say in the mid-twenties, with a light breeze, that’s fine.

Fantasy holiday… Where would you choose to go if someone else was picking up the tab?

I’m not one for sitting on a beach all day long sunning myself. I like scenery, lakes and mountains. Things to do, places to visit, a little bit of culture you know.  To get the type of holiday I prefer I wouldn’t have to travel too far. Places like Southern Germany, or Austria suit me perfectly.

Are you with a traditional publisher or self published?

Having written my first novel back in 2005 I thought that it would be snapped up, and I would be paid a nice little retainer, and just have to wait for the film offers to roll in. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that the chances of being snapped up by a traditional publisher was pretty remote. One book “A Killing In The City” was actually published by Night Publishing back in 2012, but it was not to last, and shortly after I went down the self publishing route.

Favourite meal (hot and cold)?

A well done steak and all the trimmings; or good old fish and chips. As for cold I’m not a great lover of salads, so I guess it would have to a cream cake, with chocolate, and ….. just don’t get me started.

Favourite drink (hot and cold)?

Favourite hot drink is easy – black coffee.
As for a cold drink I don’t drink alcohol, so that would be a fruit juice of some kind.

How hard do you find book promotion?

Incredibly hard. By far the worst part of the whole writing and publishing experience. The budget is very limited, so advertising is not an option, and many of the book promotion schemes are expensive. So any promoting I do myself, but it is very limited. So any ideas would be welcomed.

Any tips or hints you’ve found that were successful for you in promotion?

I’m still looking, but you’ll be the first to know. Though on the other hand if they work I might keep it to myself ….. ummm

Favourite genres to read and write?

That would have to be crime. I love the old film noir movies from the late forties and early fifties – Cagney, Bogart, Edward G, and later Robert Mitchum. I now have 6 novels and 3 novellas, all of which feature private detectives.

You’ve set up your own publishing house using FB writer friends to help run it. What would you name it? Who would you choose to run the different departments? As the owner, how would you ensure the FB staff achieved success

The name would need to be snappy, and show confidence – Crooked Crodolile, maybe. No I don’t think so. How about Victor Publishing International. As for staff, well clearly I would want top grade staff, the best I could get. Knowledgeable, and well qualified, but you did stipulate Facebook Friends, so I guess that’s out of the question, so I’ll just have to make do. So what departments would be important? Publicity certainly, so I would be looking for a successful person, someone who has a proven record. OK so I couldn’t find anyone like that, so next best thing I’ll settle for Reggie, my old mate Richard Jones to provide that International connection, at least when it all goes wrong I’ll have someone to blame; then there would be the financial department, so I would need someone who understood finance, and taxation, and …. Oh who am I kidding; Earnings will be so poor it won’t matter, but clearly I would need my very bestest friend – the one who got me to join Facebook in the first place – Babs Morton. Lastly I would need an ideas person, someone with imagination, someone with style and verve and ….. I wonder if I could quickly friend Alan Sugar (is he on Facebook).  If not it would have to be Alfie Robins. Meanwhile I would be in charge of the cream cakes department. Now with a team like that success is assured, but just to be absolutely certain I would offer incentives, like chocolate, and maybe Michael Buble CD’s.




If you like a good crime novel I can certainly recommend reading John's books.

See you next time.

Laters Potaters