Tuesday, 12 September 2017

What's YOUR Favourite Agatha Christie Novel?

I recently ran a competition offering participants a chance to win one of my cozy mysteries in exchange for telling me the name of their favourite Agatha Christie novel, and why. Boy, did I strike gold!

I've never had such an extraordinary response to a competition before and, believe me, that's saying something—I've run a lot of competitions in my time.

Within seconds of posting the competition I had answers streaming in, as revealing as they were engaging, and I'd love to share a little of what I have learned.

But first…

I just want to say a quick thank you to everyone who took part. I was overwhelmed by your enthusiastic and heartfelt replies. Some of you put a lot of thought into your choices and really brought the books back to life for me. Sadly, I could only reward the first 12 respondents, and all of them have now been notified. I have also endeavoured to get back to each and every person who participated, whether you won or not, but if for some reason you haven't heard from me, huge apologies. I really did appreciate your feedback but the competition is now officially closed.

So which books struck a chord?

Having gone through all the entries, I thought you might want to know which of Dame Christie's books were the most popular and why. So, envelope, please, and drum roll…

  • MOST POPULAR BOOK: Murder on the Orient Express This was, hands down, the most highly rated mystery amongst all the participants, receiving almost every second vote. And I'm not surprised. I love this one, too, and for all the reasons you gave. Most of you indicated that you loved the train setting, the wonderful characters, and the surprising twist at the end, and I couldn't agree more. In the words of one participant, it's a classic!  
  • SECOND MOST POPULAR: And then There Were None. Now this one took me by surprise! It's been a long time since I read the story of ten 'strangers' brought together at a secluded mansion, and I had forgotten just how gripping the plot is until you reminded me. One participant echoed the thoughts of many when she wrote, "The plot was interesting and (it was) suspenseful trying to keep up with who would die next!" What more can you ask from a mystery novel?
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  • RUNNERS UP: Death on the Nile was also a regular favourite, and the Egyptian setting much beloved, while others, like Evil Under the SunThe Mysterious Affair at StylesHallowe'en Party and The Mystery of the Blue Train were each mentioned time and again, and there I'm not surprised. Each and every one of them is a delight.

So a hearty THANKS everyone for embracing this competition and making it so informative for me, and such good fun. I loved reading all of your replies and promise to do another competition as soon as possible. Until then, I'm off to hunt down an old copy of Then There Were None. I have a mysterious dinner party to attend…

Happy reading, everyone.

xo Christina

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Win one of 12 FREE Cozy Mysteries!

I've (finally) started work on the Agatha Christie Book Club's third enthralling adventure and want to celebrate the good news with you. I don't want to give away too much at this stage but I will say this: the next story is based on my all-time favourite Agatha Christie novel, and it's going to have a whopping twist at the end.

All of which has got me thinking… what's YOUR fave Christie book of all time? And why?

I'd love to find out which of the Dame's 72-plus novels you love most. And I'm willing to reward you for your effort (and for your dedication and patience). Get in touch quickly and you may just score a prize!

So, hands on buzzers, guys, here's my latest giveaway!

What's up for grabs?

• GRAND PRIZE: The first 2 entries get a FREE paperback copy of The Agatha Christie Book Club OR Murder on the Orient (SS)—The Agatha Christie Book Club 2. (Just let me know which one you'd prefer!)*  
• RUNNERS UP: The next 10 entries will get a free e-book copy of either The Agatha Christie Book Club OR Murder on the Orient (SS)—The Agatha Christie Book Club 2.

What do you have to do to win, again?

It's very simple! To be in the running, all you have to do is answer the following question:

Q: What's your FAVOURITE Agatha Christie novel and WHY? 
Just jot a quick comment below or send me an email with the book's title and two or three words explaining why you love it so much. (For example: you might say, 'Death on the Nile because it has such a beautiful setting!')

But I want to hear from you. Get thinking and don't hesitate. There's 12 books up for grabs and I'd hate for you to miss out.

Good luck everybody and happy reading!

xo Christina

*POSTSCRIPT: Apologies latecomers but this competition is now closed. Awww. I have been overwhelmed by email responses and thank you ALL for getting in touch. All 12 winners have now been notified and their books are on the way. I'd still like to hear about your favourite Christie novel, though! Just leave a comment here, and share your views! xo

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Love Women Sleuths? You'll Love This Whopping Giveaway!

There's something especially cool and dynamic about female sleuths. Not only are they generally fast-talking, ass-kicking, take-no-prisoner types (and you NEED to be when you're butting heads with beefy criminals and cocky male cops) but they're almost always unashamedly womanly, often using their feminine wiles or witty one-liners to trick, coerce and outsmart the blokes. 

And sometimes they just use good old-fashioned hard work, like Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone and my very own Roxy Parker, a ghostwriter with a flair for finding the dark and devious truth.

That's why I'm excited to be part of a fantastic giveaway this week, featuring 26+ mysteries starring women sleuths, and ONLY women sleuths!

Wanna win? 

Of course you do! And it's uber easy. Just sign up at Authors Cross Promotion, and you'll be in the running! Here's what's up for grabs:

(2) Grand Prize "Gift Baskets" of ALL eBooks! 
(26+) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)
This package includes my third Ghostwriter Mystery—Last Writes—in which someone is killing best-selling authors, and a ghostwriter is next on the hit-list! Valued at $3.15 for the e-book, you'll get it for FREE!

But get in NOW. Just click here! Offer ends August 26.

Good luck and happy (womanly) reading everyone.

xo Christina

Monday, 24 July 2017

The Path To Publication? It's Written in the Stars, Sadly

Frankie Fish and The Sonic Suitcase  : Frankie Fish Series: Book 1 - Peter HelliarOnce upon a time fame was something that came after you published a fabulous book. Or at least, that was the plan. 

It was certainly the dream and desire of thousands of aspiring authors who sought fame not for its fan mail or feted awards as such (although those were not unwelcome, let's face it) but for its ability to enable them to keep on doing what they loved doing best—writing.

Well, not anymore folks. At least, not always.

"Did you hear about the great lineup in the kids' tent at the Byron Writers' Festival this year?" gushed one mum on the soccer sidelines the other day.
"Oh?" I replied, my pulse quickening at the thought of my son's favourite authors, past and present, littering the stage; people like Andy Griffiths, Mem Fox, and, dare I think it?— J.K. O. My God. Rowling?!
The woman nodded her head, deliriously. "Yes! They've got Richard Roxburgh and Peter Helliar!"
Last time I looked, Richard was a famous actor better known for playing a philandering drunk and Pete a stand-up comedian with a TV news show for adults.
"In the kids' tent? Really? At the writers festival?"
"Oh yes," she squealed. "They've written books. I love those guys. Isn't it exciting!"
Like ordinary writers are so very dull. I didn't dare ask her if she'd read their books, I knew it was irrelevant. Who cares? They're famous!!!"

Now, at risk of sounding like a disgruntled and very unfamous author, let me just say, WTF?! How has it come to this?! How has infamy become the drawcard, not output? How do those bozos get a chair on the podium instead of so many kids' authors I've read whose books are probably just as worthy? Because, and here's the disclaimer, I haven't read Richard or Pete's books either and they're probably absolutely wonderful, but let's be honest here, that's not the point. Those blokes are in the much-sought-after program because of who they are not what they've written, and I defy anyone to argue otherwise.

The changing face of books

Today, it seems, fame is the precursor to scoring yourself a book deal. A prerequisite in fact. No name, no contract, no writing deal. And, I'm sorry, but it breaks my heart.

I don't write children's books, couldn't do it if I tried (and I did once, it was not pretty), but I can't help thinking of all the budding children's authors who attend my self-publishing classes with stars in their eyes not on their director's chairs. They've worked so long and so hard on their stories and, from what they've shown me, their material is often wonderful, their stories delightful, their illustrations exquisite.

But they will probably never see the light of day, let alone the inside of a book shop or the podium at a national book festival because they're missing that one vital factor—fame.

Artie and the Grime Wave - Richard Roxburgh
But maybe I'm just unkind. Maybe it's sour grapes. It's definitely not novel.
This move to celebrity started a long time ago, back when magazines stopped featuring 'ordinary' women on their covers and started plastering brushed up Hollywood stars. And it's not just kids books or my local writers festival that is enamoured of celebrity. Just ask any sports journalist whose job has been replaced by a thuggish looking ex-footy star who can barely read the words being fed to him like mashed banana from a teleprompter.

Today, fame comes first and the craft—the pure and utter devotion to words—well, that's an irrelevant second. A sidenote to a glittering resume. And that, my friends, is the real tragedy.

A forgotten calling

Call me old-fashioned, and many do, but I long for the days when writing was still considered a calling, a career that was respected and admired, albeit poorly paid, and that poor bastards devoted themselves to for decades upon decades, struggling to pay the bills, maintain relationships and retain their sanity—all in the name of art. Not something that's whipped together as a PR exercise between takes on a flood-lit sound stage.

Do I sound harsh? I have a right to be. I wrote my first 'novel' at the age of 13. It was tripe but it didn't matter. I couldn't help but write. I'd been telling stories to anyone who'd listen since I could talk. I had no choice. Writing was what woke me up in the morning and kept me awake long into the night. And it still does.

Did Richard Roxburgh conjure up adventure stories as a boy? Did Peter Helliar dream of publishing the Great Australian Novel? Maybe, maybe not. I suspect that came later. I suspect that came after a nudge from an antsy agent or after a brainstorming session in a publisher's office:
"Who can we get to write a kids' book? Who's hot at the moment? Oh, I know! Let's ask that chubby guy from that top-rating TV show! He seems like fun. Kids'll love him!"
I have no qualms with anyone wanting to tell their stories and everyone's entitled to do so—the famous, the infamous and the great unknown. But please don't expect me to drag my son to watch you chat about your book when the real reason you're sitting there, the main reason your book ever saw the light of day, is two simple words that you never even came up with yourself.

Your name.

What do you think? Am I being unfair? Please drop a comment below or get in touch via my email or twitter.

And happy reading everyone, even of the unknown!
xo Christina

Thursday, 15 June 2017

A Killer Giveaway (or 3)

My regular readers will know I've been dead quiet lately. Apologies for that. It's been a mammoth month with a lot of writing - but mostly other people's. 

As you may also know, my day job involves constructive editing for other authors and I've had the privilege of doing just that recently, editing first a memoir from the 1970s, and then a 'single woman's guide to real estate' (my working title, not hers, but I'm sure I can convince her).

Editing other people's words really is a privilege; I don't use that term lightly. As the author of 11 books, myself, I know the hurdles writers have to overcome to simply put pen to paper, let alone finish a manuscript and THEN have the courage to hand it to someone else to 'critique', so I thank those authors for their bravery and belief in me. It really has been fun.

Of course that doesn't help you, now, does it? All this editing means I have had to put my own writing on the back burner. Bummer. So, to make it up to my loyal readers, I will be running a series of sales that I might just call my 'Suck Up Sales', for obvious reasons.

And here they are:

• Suck Up Sale #1: It all starts with my current discount for my latest book Do Not Go Gentle.

The story of a dead woman's quest to solve her own murder before the granny-beckoning light whooshes her off to eternity, this is a fun, light read with a lot of dark humour. Actually, make that black humour! It's my darkest book yet, but there really is a lot of light and it's not all coming from the tunnel, I can assure you.

You can grab a copy of that NOW for just 99c.

• Suck Up Sale #2: From June 20, I will be running a fortnight-long sale of the second book in the popular Agatha Christie Book Club series: Murder on the Orient (SS).

This one features a real steamship, brought back to life in my imagination, just for the purposes of baffling my fabulous book club friends. Several passengers meet a grim end on the ship—as you'd expect—but it's the ending that will take you by surprise. So far, no one I know has worked out whodunnit! Can you?

That cozy mystery will be available for 99c from June 20.

• Suck Up Sale #3: And later in the month, I will do a flash sale of the first—and most popular—book that started the series: The Agatha Christie Book Club. That one will also drop to 99c, so keep an eye out for that (and for a loony husband who may or may not have murdered one of the book club wives).

Phew. I think that should cover my proverbial you-know-what, until I find time to get a new book out.

Until then, happy (discount) reading everyone!
xo Christina

Monday, 3 April 2017

Writing Exercise (it's spooky!)

So we got a dog, an Australian cattle dog, a young Blue Heeler we named and renamed for ten frustrating days before settling on Casper (because he has a blizzard-like coat, not because he's an invisible presence, let me assure you of that!)

Casper is adorable for all the usual reasons, of course. He's cute (see the evidence, above), cheeky (ditto) and brings the family together, which is no mean feat now we have teenage sons who'd rather be anywhere but, like, together thanks very much.

But there's one other perk of having a pup that I hadn't factored in, but which has already paid dividends, big time.

Casper is my creative muse.
He jolts my imagination into gear.
He makes me want to write another book.
And he does this by taking me for "walkies".
What a good boy!

Plotting My Path

In case you hadn't noticed, I've been a bit uninspired of late. I've been feeling a little slouchy in the story department. I have a bunch of 'novels' in progress on my hard drive, but nothing that really, well, drives me. Which means the progress has been more Mini Minor than Ferrari 458.

After producing ten novels in relatively quick succession, I'd come to a creative halt. A road bump if you will.

Then, last week, Casper changed all that. Here's how it happened.

For those who don't know, my days are usually spent sitting at my desk in the Byron Bay hinterland, tap, tap, tapping away at freelance work, editing and/or fiction—if I'm lucky. I get up from my seat from time to time, to stretch the limbs, make a cup of tea, ransack the pantry, but, for the most part, I'm stuck on my butt, tap, tap… well, you get the gist.

Not anymore, folks!

Now thanks to my feisty canine companion, I'm urged to get vertical more regularly than ever before, and for longer periods of time. And it's not just great for my health and thighs, although it is, in equal measure. It's been like steroids for my leetle grey cells. So much so, the last time Casper and I went for "walkies", I conjured up an entire murder mystery before I even got past the front gate. (Which is actually not as extraordinary as it sounds, I live on seven acres.)

As he pulled me down the road, bursting at the leash, I let my mind gallop along behind him, and gallop it did—straight to a convoluted plot that involves a missing daughter, a shifty family, and an innocent, caught up in the chaos.

And it's not the only one. I've imagined two more storylines on stray adventures with my dog, one for my Ghostwriter Roxy Parker, and one for the Agatha Christie Book Club.

I won't say any more than that, wouldn't want to give too much away, but I'm so excited to have renewed creative vigour and I have a vigorous pup to thank for that.

Now, if he'd just let me sit at my desk in peace, I'd actually get around to writing them...

Happy reading (and walking), everyone!

xo Christina

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Agatha Christie Book Club on sale

Just a quick heads up for new readers and old—I've discounted my best-selling cozy mystery, The Agatha Christie Book Club, to just 99c, for one week more.

A quick, fun read for Agatha Christie devotees or those who love book clubs and/or murder mysteries, The Agatha Christie Book Club tells the story of a group of Dame Christie fans who must channel their inner-Miss Marple to solve the mysterious disappearance of a fellow book club member. Did the hubby do away with her? Or is someone from the book club hiding a deadly secret?

Get your sale copy at Amazon, Apple, Nook or Kobo. Or head to Smashwords for other e-readers.

Happy (discount!) reading, everyone.

xo Christina