Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Speaking at the Thame Arts & Literature Festival

A couple of months ago, I was invited to speak at the Fifth Annual Thame Arts & Literature Festival in Oxfordshire, which this year will be held between Wednesday 15th and Sunday 19th October. The topic I'll be discussing, along with fellow crime writer, Oliver Harris, is 'Detectives with a Difference'., which starts at 12:30 on Saturday 18th. Naturally, I'm going to be talking about my detective with a difference, Jefferson Tayte, and how he uses his genealogical expertise to help solve crimes both past and present. I'm told the format will be a reading, followed by discussion with one of the event organisers and a Q&A session with the audience. Here's a LINK to the festival website for further information.

This will be my first public appearance as an author, and I have to say that the idea of reading to an audience again has rekindled a certain childhood fear. You might have noticed that I just said, 'again'. The first time and only other time I've read anything aloud to a audience was during my secondary education. Each class in my year at school had to put on a play, competing with the other classes, and we were to perform Pinocchio. How prophetic it was that I was to play the part of the storyteller, narrating the play as the other actors performed the various scenes behind me. I can remember how nervous I felt even to this day, but I had learn my lines well, and so there I stood and narrated the events and all went well, or so I thought at the time. I'm pleased to say that we won, but as every play must have its critics, so did we, and the only negative mentioned by the judging panel was that the narrator spoke too fast. You see my problem? Still, thirty-something years on, I'm determined to make up for almost letting my classmates down. This time around, I'm sure it's going to be fine.

My current three books in the series will be available from the on-site bookseller 'The Book House' throughout the festival, and I'll be signing copies on the day. The festival falls a few days too early for copies of my new Jefferson Tayte book, The lost Empress, to be available, which is a shame, but it's a great way to start my book launch week.

If you can make it along, it would be great to meet you there. I'm glad to see that the Stables bar will be open during the event as I'm sure I'll need a pint afterwards, although I'm told it will be informal and fun! Hang on a minute... I seem to recall my secondary school teacher saying something like that. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Lost Empress cover image and description

What's it all about, Stevie?

The cover image and description for The Lost Empress went up on Amazon today, and I'm very pleased to be able to share them with you. Once again, it's been great to have had such a high level of involvement with the cover, from the initial design concept, through each composition to the final image. I feel very much a part of it and think it works very well with the existing books. I hope you like it.

I've been staggered by the level of pre-orders on Amazon for The Lost Empress, even before anyone had seen the jacket or knew what the book was about. At one point I saw it at around number 800 in the UK, and it continues to do well, so thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered their copy. Now you can find out what Jefferson Tayte's latest assignment is all about. It takes him back to 1914 this time - to the tragic sinking of the RMS Empress of Ireland, which happened 100 years ago last month on 29 May 1914. I'll be putting some more information about it on my website when the book is released, but in the meantime I strongly urge you learn more about this terrible maritime disaster, which I feel deserves an equal place in our hearts and memories alongside the Titanic and the Lusitania. To that end, please also share what you discover with your friends and families. 

I don't have the back cover image yet, but here's the description from the product page on Amazon, which begins with the very kind line: From acclaimed author Steve Robinson comes a bold new Jefferson Tayte mystery...

On a foggy night in 1914, the ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank en route to England and now lies at the bottom of Canada’s St Lawrence River. The disaster saw a loss of life comparable to the Titanic and the Lusitania, and yet her tragedy has been forgotten.

When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is shown a locket belonging to one of the Empress’s victims, a British admiral’s daughter named Alice Stilwell, he must travel to England to understand the course of events that led to her death.

Tayte is expert in tracking killers across centuries. In The Lost Empress, his unique talents draw him to one of the greatest tragedies in maritime history as he unravels the truth behind Alice’s death amidst a backdrop of pre-WWI espionage.

This is the fourth book in the Jefferson Tayte mystery series but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

My holiday in the Lake District with photos

Bottom of Derwentwater looking towards Keswick, with Skiddaw in the distance

I've just been on holiday with Mrs R, walking in the Lake District, and thought I'd share some of my holiday snaps, which I took on my Canon 5D mkIII. Click on an image to open up the larger views. The weather was mostly cloudy, but dry, so it wasn't always great for photos, but it was ideal for walking. I did manage to capture some great-looking skies though. We stayed in a cottage in the village of Threlkeld, which is about four miles from the town of Keswick on Derwentwater. Here's a link if you'd like to look it up on on Google Maps

I hardly used the car all week which was great. We walked into Keswick for further walks around Derwentwater via an old disused railway line which has been turned into a recreational walk. The walk crosses several rivers and streams over old iron railway bridges where one day we saw our first red squirrel. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me that day, which is typical. Here's a photo of a tunnel we passed through, looking at one of the bridges.

One particularly long walk took us through Keswick and across the water by boat to a peak called Catbells, which is quite a steep ascent, but also quite short. This photo was taken about halfway up with my 14mm lens.

And here's Mrs R at the top of Catbells in her new walking boots. Quite a view!

From there we continued down the other side via a steeper descent, heading for lunch at the Ladore Falls hotel. We met a very friendly (and photogenic) cow along the way, who came to the water for a drink as I was setting up for the shot taken at the top of this blog. 

After lunch we walked up from the hotel to the waterfall that the hotel takes its name from. The longest lens I had with me was my 35mm, so I had to scramble across the rocks with my tripod to get close enough.

We had planned to take the last boat back to Keswick, but as there's plenty of daylight this time of year, we decided to walk back instead, and I'm glad we did or I wouldn't have been able to take the photo below. I think we walked about sixteen miles that day, and we slept very well as a result. :o) 

 Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Lost Empress release date

I'm very pleased to announce that the release date for my new Jefferson Tayte genealogical mystery has been set. The fourth book in the series The Lost Empress will be available worldwide for the Amazon Kindle, in paperback and audiobook formats from...

21 October, 2014

The product page has been created on Amazon, although there's no jacket image or description yet. You can pre-order it though, and it's encouraging to see that there are already orders being placed. Here's a link to The Lost Empress in the Amazon Kindle store for your country.

I can't wait to see the jacket design and to be able to share it with you, along with the description once it's been finalised. If you're enjoying my Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mysteries, I hope The Lost Empress will engage and entertain you just as much as the previous books in the series have.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

How my documentary shoot went - with photos.

In my last post I mentioned that I'd been asked to do a mini documentary, and earlier in the week (Tuesday) the crew arrived at my home to begin shooting. The short film forms part of a series which focusses on author success stories for Amazon KDP, which is where my publishing story began in 2011.

It was an early start with people turning up from 06:30 as they wanted to catch my daily routine, which begins when I take my wife to the train station - and what a lot of people! I didn't really know what to expect, perhaps three or four, but there were around ten in total, covering the filming, lighting, sound, stills photography, there was also the interviewer (of course) and several other people doing things I mostly became oblivious to as I was directed to do this and that. There was even someone there for hair and makeup, which for obvious reasons (see profile pic) put a smile on my face. I do hope she wasn't on half pay for only being able to do half the job!

It was pretty cold at around seven degrees Celsius while we were shooting at my home, so if you can see my knees knocking in the film when it comes out, it was as much from the chilly weather as it was from being nervous - honest! I enjoyed what they call the B-roll sections most of all, where I was asked to do things without being mic'd up - walking here and there, or sitting at my desk typing. I found the interview sections quite tough, but I'm assured the crew were very happy with the day and that everything's going to be great. 'Of course it is,' he added, swallowing dryly.

I met a really great bunch of people and took a few photos of some of them while they were setting up. After that, from the time I put my own camera away, to the time the director called 'It's a wrap', which was in London at about 17:00, it all seems to have passed in a blur. It really was great fun, and although I usually shy away from anything like this, I'm glad I said yes. It's left me with some wonderful memories. In the film You'll have a tour of my writer's cabin and my garden, which although not at it's best until June is looking very spring-like. You'll get to see my writer's hat and find out why I wear it whenever I'm writing. We'll go for a walk along the river where I've broken through many a plot barrier, and then we'll jump on the train to London and visit St Paul's Cathedral, which is central to the plot of my third Jefferson Tayte mystery The Last Queen of England, and was where I felt the most nervous about being interviewed because it was such a busy area - and there I am sitting on a low wall beside the pavement with a fluffy boom mic dangling above my head as everyone in the world (it seems) passes by, wishing I could melt into the stonework. I think that section of the film could be quite short.

I'm told my mini documentary should be ready for release sometime in May, so stay tuned as they say, and maybe we can watch it together as I'm sure I'm going to need plenty of support and encouragement to click that play button. So, am I glad I did it? Yes, absolutely. Would I do it again? I don't know. You'll have to ask me once I've seen the film!

Friday, 28 March 2014

What a couple of weeks!

My books have launched!
The 18th of March saw the Thomas & Mercer editions of the first three books in my genealogical mystery series go live on Amazon for the Kindle, and in paperback and audio formats, and it's been very exciting!

I took a week off with Mrs R during launch week and we went into London to celebrate on the big day, and somehow I managed to resist checking my chart positions. When we arrived home I ran straight to my laptop though and had a look. I didn't know what to expect. I knew the advertising campaign in the UK wasn't going to start until the 4th of April, but I'd been told it would kick in straight away on Amazon.com. When I looked however, nothing much had changed. My books were live, but their chart positions had only seen a small increase. They were certainly up on the day before, but not significantly so. This was the case for a few days, and I thought, 'Steady progress... That's okay.' Then BAM! towards the end of launch week I was at a hotel in the Cotswolds, having a drink before dinner, and I checked my chart positions on my phone. Then I knew something significant had happened. In the Blood had shot up into the 200s over all, and by morning it was an Amazon.com top 100 bestseller! I was also very pleased to see that To the Grave and The Last Queen of England weren't far behind it. 

My books have been Amazon top 100 bestsellers before, but with the marketing that put them there being short and sweet, so was the time my books remained in the top 100. This time though, In the Blood has stayed in the top 100 for a week so far, having reached a high (that I saw) of No.48 in the Kindle store. The day after I arrived home from the Cotswolds, I found out what had happened. I had received an email from a fan who had already written to me some time ago, and he told me that my books were being advertised directly on his Kindle! Then Amazon confirmed it and sent me some screen shots, along with a few images of the on-site advertising they were running.
Kindle device advertising. I love the atmospheric woodland setting.

Where I'm at with the The Lost Empress.
You might have noticed that I changed my blog header (and website) recently to coincide with the re-release of my books. You might also have noticed that I've sneaked the title of my new Jefferson Tayte mystery in there. I'm currently going through a structural edit phase with the new book, which is designed to help shape the story and make it the best it can be. Early signs from my editors are very encouraging. This part of the process will last a few more weeks, and then the manuscript will be sent off for copyediting before the proofreading stage. We've not started on the cover design yet, and I can't wait to see how that's going to turn out. I've some strong ideas for it, and I already know the team behind its creation are going to do a great job.

The excitement continues...
I'm going to be in a mini documentary - oh my! A film crew are coming to my house early next month (must tidy up!) and they're going to spend the whole day with me! I know... I still can't believe it, either.  I'll tell you how it went next time, but suffice it to say I'm pretty nervous about it all. I usually run a mile from this kind of thing, but I've decided to get out there more (come what may) when the opportunities arise. Something tells me I'd better hide my guitars though before the film crew turn up! 

Friday, 7 March 2014

Jefferson Tayte audiobooks and more

This week saw the arrival of some advance copies of my books, as performed by multi-award winning narrator, Simon Vance, in CD and MP3 audio formats from Brilliance Audio. It was a particularly nice surprise as I wasn't sure whether I was going to receive any audiobooks until the van pulled up outside my house to deliver them. They're in their full retail packaging with a price tag of $14.99 printed on the back, which seems very reasonable for a nine CD set in the case of In the Blood. Amazon UK will be retailing them at £10.80 and just £6.82 for the MP3 download.

I'm planning to open a bottle of wine later this evening and start listening to In the Blood with Mrs R. If the sample I heard before production began is anything to go by, I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun. I can already see myself smiling all the way through it. :o)

More news this week is that I've just sent my new Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery to my editor, so the production ball will soon start rolling, first with a structural edit and then a copyedit, followed by proofreading. The re-release of my existing books (and the audiobooks) is a week next Tuesday and I'm getting very excited about that. I'm hoping to be able to release some more information about the new book on the same day (March 18), along with the release date, which I'll put up on my blog as soon as I know it.