Friday, 15 June 2018

Survey Results + E-book Winner + Discount Mystery Sale

So, last newsletter I posed the proverbial question: are you a 'glass-half-full' kind of person or, like me, is your glass not even half-empty, it's well on the way to running dry?

As a crime writer, it seems only natural that I look at the dark side of life, but as a human I know I do this to shine a torch in the shadows and restore order to the world (or at least, that's the excuse I'm sticking to!)

How about you?

Well, thanks to your overwhelming input, now I know! What an intriguing bunch you are. I received hundreds of responses from right around the world and so many of you had such thoughtful insight into why you love crime books and what your outlook is like. And — here's the bit that surprised me — so many of you (about 60%) admitted to being empty glassers, like me. And you're fiercely unapologetic about it!

I also got some interesting reasons why you love and devour crime novels, including this from an Irish reader who told me the Irish are naturally both light and dark: "I read crime because I want to know why we are dark and why crime happens."

Another reader said she believes us half-empty types are there to "give some color, dimension, and depth to our glass is half full pollyanna people!"

One half-full respondent told me she reads crime for "the thrill of the chase" and another because she likes the "happily ever after" that comes with the final denouement.

Many of you read both 'cozy' and "hard core blood and guts mysteries", as one reader described it, while another said she can't read anything too dark or she's up all night (and by the sound of it, she's in good company). 

And I particularly liked this comment from a 'glass is three-quarters full person': "I read crime because I enjoy a puzzle, I enjoy the intrigue and it's good to see the bad guy get caught. I do enjoy humour in my reading so some levity is appreciated."

I hearily agree, which is why I always add a few laughs to every mystery I write. 

Now For the Winner! (Drum roll please…)

This is the fun part (and the hard part for me, because there were lots of names to pop in the hat this time!) This fortnight's winning respondent is: Renee*! If you're the winnng Renee, I'll be in touch via email shortly.

As for the rest of you? A giant THANK YOU for taking the time to share your thoughts, however dark or light. I do read each email that comes in, and I value each and every comment. They inform me as a person and they most definitely inform my writing!

Thanks again, everyone, for taking part and happy (dark or light) reading.
xo Christina
* Full name has been reserved for privacy reasons


Discount E-Book Deal (99c Now!)


This week I'm putting my latest e-book, Do Not Go Gentle, on sale for just 99c, starting from today. It'll be discounted at all good e-stores for two weeks, or just click on the links, below.

DO NOT GO GENTLE is a fun, fast-paced DIY mystery that implores the reader to help solve the crime before the victim is dragged, kicking and screaming, to the light. (She has a dreadful, sinking feeling her beloved 13-year-old son is the culprit and wants to know for sure before she heads off to eternity thinking she spawned a killer!)
This lightly written yet deeply moving whodunnit/coming of age story will be on sale for just two weeks, with the follow-up—Do Not Go Alone— on the stands in August.

COST: 99c  FROM: June 16—June 30
LINKS: @Amazon

Monday, 28 May 2018

The Heart of Darkness (It's in My Head)


It's scary what goes through my mind at 30,000 feet:
'If someone just wrenched open that door handle we'd all go flying out, ripped from our seatbelts, and sucked through the cabin, starting with that smug bloke spreading his legs out in the exit row.'
Image result for airplane seat belt images
and…
'Gee that suction in the toilet cubicle is strong. Wonder if it could vacuum out a small child?'
and… Well, you get the picture.

Don't be alarmed or worried for my mental health. I think these thoughts quite calmly, while sipping my G&T on a Qantas fiight to Singapore (where I'm headed for work). I am not perturbed by the dark images that flitter through my imagination, I just accept them—like you might a distracting throught during meditation—and let them go, as I happily glance around.

This is the way my mind works. Always has. I'm a glass-half-empty, every-cloud-has-a-storm-behind-it kind of person, and that's what drives my writing. It's why I became a crime writer in the first place. Makes sense right?

But it's not all doom and gloom. My (wise-beyond-her-years) niece said to me just before I left, in fact, "Maybe you love mysteries, Aunty Christina, because they get solved, so you're actually being really, like, positive and stuff."

She's right. I might revel in the dark, but it's the fact that I'm shining light on those shadowy corners that really inspires me. It's not the crime that I like. It's the justice that comes for the victim, the answers that come for the family, the order that is restored to the world. And, in the case of the exit door, it's also about the most positive aspect of all—survival. Because after each such thought, I usually go to solutions, like:

'Okay, if that happened, I'd scream out to the bloke to grab hold of his seatbelt, wrap it around his wrist and hold on for dear life.'

And how positive is that?

What about you? As a crime reader, do you also have a dark imagination? Or are you fiercely positive and just happen to stray into dark territory from time to time? If you particularly love cozy crime like me, I tend to believe the answer is the latter, but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Are you a naturally dark soul and if so, why? Or is light and positivity your preference? And if so, why do you read crime?

Pop a comment here or jot me an email and let me know.

Until then, happy (sinister) reading everyone.

xo Christina

Saturday, 5 May 2018

3rd Agatha Christie Book Club On Sale NOW - 99c! (Hurrah)

I promised you a book sale...


...and here it is, folks. For just two short weeks—from May 5 to May 19—I'm reducing the cost of the third in my Agatha Christie Book Club series to just 99c. That's a lot of mystery and mayhem for very little moolah.
Evil Under The Stars is one for true Agatha Christie trainspotters. It tells of a woman lying dead on a blanket at an outdoor film night, with hundreds of witnesses and not a suspect in sight. How did no one see the killer lurking? How did no one hear the victim scream? And how could the entire book club have been lounging just metres away and missed the whole event? 
To find out whodunnit, grab your copy while it's hot. You can get a 99c ebook at the following e-retailers:
• Amazon: USUKCanadaAustraliaIndia 
• Apple iBooks
• kobo
• B&N nook
• elsewhere
For other books, comments or just to reach out, visit my website calarmer.com or drop me an email: christina@calarmer.com. I love hearing from readers and getting your feedback.
Until then, happy (discount) reading everyone!
xo Christina

Thursday, 26 April 2018

A Fishy Tale From a Fellow Cozy Writer + My New Book Title Revealed!


Regular subscribers know I don't wax lyrical very often about other authors — this is MY newsletter after all, folks ;-) — but today I'm giving a big shout out to a fellow cozy mystery writer who has a deep love of animals, natural sense of humour and more twists than a leaping whale.

Ruby Loren is an English writer who pens cozies, paranormal mysteries and, of particular interest to me, stories about rockstars (I'm married to a musician in case you were wondering!)

If you haven't tasted any of Ruby's work before, try her latest, Whales and a Watery Grave, which is already an Amazon #1 New Release and will be discounted to just 99c until the end of April - so get in quick!

Featuring popular protagonist Madigan Amos, a zookeeper with a heart of gold and a nose for trouble, this one sees Madi and her fiancĂ©e attempt to take a well-earned holiday to Mallorca (aka Majorca) in Spain. Instead they find themselves dragged into a wildlife documentary that turns deadly.

Dubbed 'Murder at the marine park!', it's a fun, action-packed read and you can grab your 99c copy via Amazon here

At the very least check out her stunning covers, amongst the most beautiful I've seen.

As for me?

I'm happy to announce that I'm midway through my second posthumous paranormal mystery, the follow-up to Do Not Go Gentle.

I'm calling it ... drum roll please ... Do Not Go Alone and it promises to be a tear-jerker with plenty of laughs in-between! I'll also have a book sale coming up in May, so look out for that.


Until then, happy (fishy) reading everyone!

xo Christina


Monday, 2 April 2018

Finding Nimo—The Trials & Tribulations of Naming Our Kids


Image result for 20000 leagues under the sea

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was six months pregnant, snuggled on the couch with my husband, watching a 1950’s remake of the classic Jules Verne novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
            "If it’s a boy we should call him Nemo,” my husband suggested, referring to the book’s renegade submarine Captain.
            Keep in mind, this was two years before the Disney film Finding Nemo, and I’d never heard the name before, but I was smitten. Not only did it sound strong and commanding, symbolising what we wanted for our child (he’ll be an explorer, forging his own path!) but I’ve always been a big fan of unusual monikers.


            Call me crazy, but as the only Christina I knew growing up, I revelled in my uniqueness and never wanted my children to be one of five in their class.
            Many parents see that as a positive thing—they’ll never get teased, they’ll always fit in—and the protective parent in me totally gets that. But I didn’t want my child to just fit in. I wanted him to hold his own and, if he did get bullied (as so many gleefully assured us he would), learn to stand up for himself and bounce back.
            I was here to teach my child strength and resilience, not make decisions based on fear and “what ifs”. Besides, we live in the hippie hinterland of a place called Byron Bay where names like Lotus and Maayan are almost ho-hum.
            Cut to three months later and no one we knew bat an eyelid when we named our newborn Nemo. No one, that is, except my mum. It wasn’t so much the name that had her spooked, it was the spelling (it’s ‘omen’ spelt backwards in case you hadn’t noticed).
            We promptly changed it to ‘Nimo’ and that was that.
            Or so we thought.

Image result for finding nemo

            Two years later a famous clownfish swam onto our screens and the name took on a whole new resonance. Vocal critics suddenly thought it was “cute!”, our toddler became King of the Kids at kindie and we even appeared in the local newspaper.
            Yet my husband and I were aghast. Not only would people assume we’d named our son after a Disney character (the horror! the irony!) but Pixar had irrevocably changing its meaning from commanding to… cute?!
            We didn’t see that one coming.

Naming your child can be fraught 

You never know how people are going to react or what’s around the corner. There’s a girl at Nimo’s school whose parents must have had the very best intentions when they named her after the mythical goddess Isis.
            If, like us, you dare to be creative or original, there’s always someone, somewhere, who’ll scoff and tell you how “cruel” you’re being or how “they’ll never become Prime Minister with that name, you know!”
            And once upon a time they had a point. Pre-2009, several highly publicised studies showed that people naturally discriminated in favour of those with common names, both in the classroom and at work.*1
            Well not any more, folks. A 2016 study found no evidence that employers discriminate anymore based on names.*2 Thanks to globalisation and the growth of white collar jobs, there’s been a societal rise in ‘individualism’ which means less of us are picking one of the Top 20 names for our kids.*3
            Where once we chose names based on popularity, tradition, religion, ideology or aspirations (names like Joseph Jr, William and Grace), we’re increasingly choosing quirky names or, heaven forbid, quirky spelling.
            And we can thank the likes of Cameron Diaz, Oprah Winfrey and Barack—who says you need a traditional name to be Top Dog?—Obama. Interestingly, researchers claim the US President has created “the Obama effect”, inspiring more parents to give their babies ethnic-sounding names.*4
            The fact is we all have different motives for naming our kids, and it’s this difference that makes society so rich. Whatever you decide on, it should be done with the best intentions, needs to work whether they’re four or 40, and it wouldn’t hurt to choose a benign middle name should you be thwarted by Hollywood or foreign terrorists (Nimo has Jacob to fall back on).            
            While we chose a more traditional name for our second son, Felix, I wouldn’t change Nimo’s name if I had my time over, but perhaps we should ask the person who’s had to live with it for 16 years.
            “I like my name,” Nimo assures me. “People always remember it. Some think it’s cool and some think it’s weird but I don’t really care what they think. I’m just glad you didn’t call me something boring. I like being unique.”
            Aye aye Captain!

xo Christina

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Yep, You CAN Judge a Book By Its Cover—Your Verdict Is In! + Prize Winner Announced

Photos? Illos? Naked Torsos?

Wow, what a response. Earlier this month, I discussed the various styles of cover design and asked you which you preferred: covers with illustrations, photographs and/or naked torsos?

AND THE COVER-STYLE WINNER IS…

The Ghostwriter Mystery series

Illustrated covers won hands down! Of the 100+ responses I received, 65% agreed that illustrated covers were ideal. 10% preferred photographs, 23% were happy with either/both and just a tiny handful of respondents thought a bare bod' was the best way to go. (Va-va-voom.)

It didn't really matter where you came from—most respondents were from the US, but I had replies from the UK, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and even one from Slovenia—the general consensus was this:

  • ILLUSTRATIONS are perfect for cozy mysteries: "They're softer, gentler and feed my imagination more," said one reader. "I like to let my brain run wild!" wrote another. And this little nugget: "It illustrates the lighthearted, more laidback, quick-read nature (of cozies)."
  • PHOTOS are more suited to gritty crime and realism: "I like my covers to look more realistic," said one. "Not too cartooney," wrote another, while most agreed: "(Photos) feel more serious but not as much fun to read."
  • NAKED TORSOS are taboo. It's "pornographic" or "just plain yuck!" said some, while one reader implored: no "disconcerting" Fabio-style images, please! That one made me laugh. :-)
Many of your views mirrored my own but one comment got my 'leetle grey cells' churning:
"My ultimate favorite cover style is what you have done with the Agatha Christie Book Club covers: photographs, not with people, but with objects that relate to the story and actually enhance the prospective reader's mental images. The perfect blend!"

I hadn't thought of that extra option but, thanks, I heartily agree! I love that style, too (see the aforementioned covers below), and often pour over similar covers, wondering if the objects pictured will unlock the mystery for me.

But enough of all that. Let's get to the exciting bit! Envelope please…

AND THE E-BOOK PRIZE WINNER IS...

Congratulations Andree P. from Canada! You've just scored yourself an e-copy of all six of my Ghostwriter Mystery series. (Woo-hoo!) I'll be in touch with you via email directly. Until then, thanks to EVERYONE who shared their views. It was so lovely to meet you, discover where you're from and hear what makes you reach for a book.

Now I'd like to leave you with perhaps the savviest quote of all:
"I DO judge a book by its cover but it's the content that really matters."

I think we can all agree on that.
Happy reading everyone (regardless of the cover!)
xo Christina

The Agatha Christie Book Club series


PST! While I've got your undivided attention...
A BRIEF WORD ON BOOK REVIEWS: It's not just about the cover and the content—YOU also make a big difference to an author's ability to reach more readers and, therefore, write more books. Readers' reviews really matter, so if you find the time and can manage it, don't ever hesitate to rate and/or review. We appreciate the effort and love to hear your views! :-)