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?
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
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
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!
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
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
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 –
Tee: I can taste the roast and soup/dumplings from here.
Favourite drink (hot and
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
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
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
Tee: OMG I've become a pimp !!! :-)
Favourite genres to read
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)
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? 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 clichéd
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
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
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.