Sunday 17 December 2017

Book Launch: Agatha Christie Book Club 3 JUST OUT!

In their most complex puzzle yet, the Agatha Christie Book Club unite to watch Evil Under The Sun at a moonlit cinema and end up face-to-face with evil under a star-lit sky.
It's the unlikeliest of crimes—a woman strangled in a public park, with scores of witnesses and not a single suspect in sight. 
How did no one hear her scream? And how could the club have been lounging just metres away and missed the whole event?!
The third in the best-selling Agatha Christie Book Club series is now available online. Get your copy here!
"What a delightful ride this was! I slid past the clever clues and fell right on top the red herrings. I did not figure it out at all. C.A. Larmer has such a skilled way of developing characters, even the minor characters, and sure can write a whodunit." - D.A. Sarac
To find out more about the author, the series, or to catch up on earlier stories, check out my website
Happy reading, everyone!
xo Christina

Sunday 10 December 2017

Guess Which Agatha Christie Novel My Book Club Are Exploring Next? (Sneak Peek)

Ever since my Agatha Christie devotees formed their own book club, I have had such fun selecting which of Dame Agatha's novels to focus on next. And you can imagine my dilemma...

Outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare, Ms Christie wrote 66 detective novels, numerous short story collections, romances and plays. But there's always been one book that really surprised me.
Evil Under The Sun is one of Christie's best and, I'd go so far as to claim, one of THE greatest murder mysteries of all time with an extraordinary twist that left my brain spinning. Somehow she had created the perfect murder where everything is turned on its head.

This is my very humble homage.

Evil Under The Stars is the third in my Agatha Christie Book Club series, and it's a classic whodunnit with a super-modern twist.
In my story, instead of Hercule Poirot encountering a dead body lying in the sun on a secluded cove in Devon, my book club friends come across a young woman who's been murdered while lying on a blanket at a moonlit cinema in Sydney. It's a very public event, one they all attended, and yet no one spotted a thing!
My biggest mystery yet, it's due out at Christmas.
Stay tuned for more details, folks, and, if you need to catch up on the story, get your e-copy of the second in the series, Murder On The Orient (SS), at any good e-book retailer now:

And while you're at it, let me know what you think of my new-look cover for the second book (above). I've gone bright and enchanting—just in time for the Aussie summer—and would love to hear your views!
Until then, happy reading everyone.
xo Christina

Monday 20 November 2017

A Macabre Murder, Cocktail-Sipping Suspects, 99c Mystery

The time is nigh! For those of you who scooped up a free copy of the first Ghostwriter Mystery KILLER TWIST, now you can grab the second in the series for just 99c.
A PLOT TO DIE FOR follows gutsy Ghostwriter Roxy Parker as she heads to an exotic resort to write the life story of an eccentric hotelier. Instead, she finds her client dead, buried in the sand, her head protruding ghoulishly for the crabs to devour, and an ensemble cast of cocktail-sipping characters who are all hiding something behind their Gucci sunglasses.
Thanks to BookBub in the UK, Canada, India and Australia, I'm discounting the book for one week only: 99c.
My US readers can also clinch copy for 99c at Amazon USA now.*
Happy reading and don't hesitate to let me know what you think of my fast-talking, fabulously fashionable, butt-kicking  'Ghostie'.
 xo Christina
*APOLOGIES: Amazon US is no longer offering the ebook for free. But, hey, 99c… you can barely get a decent bag of lollies for that :-) Enjoy!

Wednesday 8 November 2017

A Big Thanks, A Free E-Book, An Upcoming Sale...

I recently discounted my first Agatha Christie Book Club mystery e-book and, thanks to you guys and BookBub, it soared to the #1 Best Seller spot at Amazon in the UK, Canada and Australia! And reached the Top 21 in the US. I'm feeling pretty chuffed about that!
To Celebrate...
I'm doing another discount e-book, this time the second in my GHOSTWRITER MYSTERY series starring a merlot-swilling, fast-talking, fun and fashionable amateur detective called Roxy Parker.
In A Plot to Die For  Roxy heads to a luxury boutique hotel on a secluded island where a mysterious murder leaves some guests looking a little too relieved.
My ode to Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun, this cozy adventure will be priced at just 99c from Nov 20 so pop it in your diaries, folks.
Get the 1st book Free!
Until then, fall in love with Roxy in her first Ghostwriter Mystery: Killer Twist which is now available FREE at all online ebook stores.
Or click on the links below:
Happy reading everyone!
xo CA Larmer

Thursday 19 October 2017

Love Agatha Christie and Cozies? Love My Discounted Series!

Join My Book Club as They Channel Miss Marple in Their 1st Cozy Mystery — Book 1: Just 99c (one week only!)

Agatha Christie isn't just the Queen of Crime, she practically invented the Cozy Mystery genre, which is now one of the most popular crime genres in the world, and certainly my favourite (in case you hadn't worked that out).
In an effort to pay homage to the great Dame Agatha, and to provide my readers with fun cozy mysteries, I wrote my first Agatha Christie Book Club back in 2012—and it has gone on to be my best-selling book, out-selling my Ghostwriter Mystery Series two books to one!

Now Let me Make This Clear...

NO ONE can replace the Great Agatha Christie, certainly not author Sophie Hannah (who tried several times) and certainly not me.
And that was never my intention with this series.
Instead, my books take a fresh and contemporary approach; 'fanzines' if you like. In this series I've gathered a group of Agatha Christie devotees together, thrown a baffling mystery at them, then sat back and watched as the book club friends consider what Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple would do to sift through the clues, recognise the red herrings, and work out whodunnit. 
It's been a lot of fun to write and I hope you find it a fun read. I've since released a second adventure in the series: Murder on the Orient (SS) and have a third book due out for Christmas. 
If you haven't had a chance to read one, get in fast. Thanks to BookBub and Amazon, I'm discounting the first in the series—down from $3.99 to just 99c.
The offer starts on October 19 and runs until October 26. To grab your discounted copy, go straight to your fave e-store, to Amazon, or for BookBub subscribers in the UK, Australia, Canada or India, click here
Happy (cozy) reading everyone.
xo Christina (C.A.) Larmer

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Why I Started My Ghostwriter Series (& How You Can Win One + 44 More!)

I love Sue Grafton and her Alphabet crime series, really I do, but by D is for Deadbeat, I began to realise they were becoming dead boring!

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If I read about private detective Kinsey Millhone pulling on her 'turtleneck sweater' or 'wrinkle-resistant black dress' one more time, or stopping to grab a McDonald's cheeseburger, or hanging out with her elderly landlord, I was going to hit somebody with the book.

I know that they're murder mysteries and I know that this may all sound a little vacuous to you, but I kept wondering why Kinsey was so, well, stuck.

Are there no shopping malls in Kinsey's suburb? Does she not tire of the same old meal?* And does she not want to move out of Henry's converted garage and buy a new place of her own?

Just because you create a wonderful character—and Kinsey really is the cream of the crop—does not mean your character shouldn't change and develop and grow. 
She's human. That's what we do!

Let me repeat: I love Sue Grafton. I can only dream of her worldwide success. I acknowledge that she's a master storyteller and I am just a piddling wannabe, but as a lifetime reader I just longed to see Kinsey blossom or deteriorate or get a limp or something! It may seem trivial to you but it just didn't ring true. By the time I got to S is For Silence I could hold my tongue no longer.

Nobody wears the same outfit. Every. Single. Day. Zzzzzz. Nobody eats the same takeaway, or lives in the same tiny rental. At least, nobody I want to spend that much quality time with.

I desperately wanted to see my favourite PI become a little more interesting and a lot more independent.

Are smart detectives really that dull, I wondered?

I don't think so. That's why I created a crime-solving sleuth of my own. 

Roxy Parker is a smart-talking, Sydney-based ghostwriter with a love of fashion and an interest in decent food, who just happens to stumble upon mysteries of her own. 

Now, I was always going to write crime fiction, I can't credit Grafton with that. But I did use my disappointment with Kinsey to develop my own protagonist. I wanted my sleuth to be a little cool, a little classy but, most of all, to be constantly surprising. And to be interesting in EVERY facet of her life, not just inside her brain. It's not just that she changes her outfit occasionally (who knew?), she's constantly growing, developing her sense of self, making new friends, even changing homes in one book—and keeping my readers on the edge of their toes. Or at least, that's the idea.

Six books later, and I hope my Roxy has evolved as I intended her to, but you can be the judge of that. I'm giving away the first in the Ghostwriter Mystery Series, and, for the next week or so, offering readers the chance to discover a whole new series of their own.

Thanks to Amy at Authors Cross Promotion, I've teamed up with 44 other series writers to make our books available to you. Here's your chance to celebrate series creators and maybe find the perfect match for you.

Win up to 45+ Series eBooks!

(2) Grand Prize "Gift Baskets" of ALL eBooks!
(45+) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

Just get in quick! The competition ends in under a week.

Happy (series) reading everyone!

xo Christina

*I know Kinsey does experiment with Rosie's mad Hungarian cooking and I thank goodness for that. It's one of the reasons I keep coming back.

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

Sunday 5 March 2017

3 free paperbacks in just 3 days

For those who prefer paperbacks over e-books or just love a good giveaway, my latest mystery is currently up for grabs at Goodreads

Together, we're giving away three paperback copies of Do Not Go Gentle, but only for three more days.

The story of one woman's quest to solve her own murder before her soul choofs off to eternity, Do Not Go Gentle is a fun, light read with plenty of dark humour and a lot of red herrings.

Check it out at Goodreads and don't hesitate to let me know what you think. Did you work out the killer before Lulu vanished down the tunnel or were you as baffled as all my reviewers seem to be?

Jot me an email or leave a comment here.

Happy (free) reading, everyone!

xo Christina

Thursday 16 February 2017

Why Switching Kids Off Is Like Pulling Teeth (And as Good As Brushing Daily)

*** WARNING***
Rant to follow. Those without children or who aren't up for a lecture may want to bail now

Hey, fellow parents,  I want to get off the topic of books for a moment (although we'll come back to it, I promise) and I want to throw some questions at you, if that's okay.

Tell me, when you were a kid, did your parents insist you come inside when it got dark or late? Did they insist you eat your vegetables or brush your teeth or do your homework even when you didn't want to and your best mate never did? Did they force a bed time on you and insist you turn out your light?

What about school? Did they force you to get up at a certain hour and go to an institution that you may even have hated? Hell, none of your friends liked it either, but you went to that school, you sat through those classes, and you came home again. And they made you do it even when you were getting older, like 16 and 17 and, for some of you, 18—an adult!

But you survived, right? Not only that, you were the better for it.

In fact, thanks to all those rules, above, you were a better person all round. You were healthier and more rested, you were safer and more interesting, you were more educated and more likely to become a successful member of society.

So tell me this, then. How come you can't pay the same courtesy to your kids? How come so many of you refuse to put boundaries around the one thing that dominates every single child's life at the moment and is crushing them on a daily basis.

Yep, you know exactly what I'm talking about: Digital devices.

Image result for free image angry teenager device

Now, before some of you freak out, let me quickly qualify: I know that some of you DO place boundaries around your child's use of devices. I know some of you do NOT advocate a 'free for all' and may even be madly nodding your head as I write this, but I also know you are in the minority and I am not talking to you. Instead I congratulate you and beg you to keep up the good fight.

No, I'm talking to those many parents who think that removing a child's devices at night or making them get off them at a certain time is either too damn hard or completely unnecessary or, hell, bordering on fascism. It's mean! All their friends are on them, they'll miss out! Besides, they hate it when you take it off them, and get very, very cranky, so you'd rather just keep the peace. It's not really hurting them, right? They seem to be okay, they're managing it fine, so why be so harsh? Get with the program, it's all just part of peer group interaction, it's today's mode of socialising, it's just the modern world, you old fuddy-duddy!

Not my world. Not anymore.

Two weeks ago, when the new Aussie school year began, my husband and I began a new ritual, too. Fearing our children were quickly becoming addicted to their iPhones, and rarely seeing them spend any time doing anything other than staring at a small screen, we were getting increasingly concerned. It wasn't just that they were wasting time on other people's creativity (because there's lots to love about the internet, but not when it's stopping them from engaging in their own creativity). Their devices were also draining them. They were clearly going on them after lights out, and waking up moody (even for moody teenagers) and becoming quickly disengaged and in trouble at school.

So we took action.

Each evening at 9:00 p.m. we now remove every single screen. Not just out of their hands, but out of their bedrooms entirely, so they spend the last hour—just one measly hour or so—before sleep reading, drawing, playing their guitars or, even better, doing absolutely nothing. We give them the space to become like the person who invented the internet in the first place. Space to think and imagine and grow.

It was just one little hour before official "lights out", but of course, they freaked out. The first night they were both very grumbly, scowling, cursing, carrying on, but by night two, the younger one began handing his gadget over happily enough. He's just 12 and hasn't had his iPhone for long. He clearly wasn't addicted.

The 15-year-old was a very different story.

Like wrenching the crack pipe out of a junkie's hands, taking my older son's iPhone and laptop has been nothing short of traumatic. At first he blatantly refused, then he railed, threw a tantrum, stormed out of the house, sat on our roof for an hour. It was hard. It was exhausting. It was emotionally draining. I felt like he had morphed into a terrible toddler again and I began to regret the whole process. But we stayed strong.

By day four—four, people!—he had settled down. He was over the worst of it. I even caught him sitting at his desk painting that evening, his iPhone untouched on his bed. And it wasn't even 9:00 p.m. Earlier he had tinkled on our piano and jumped on the trampoline. It was a big difference to his usual behaviour, staring, mesmerised by some inane antics on YouTube or swapping emojis with his mates.

I know my boys don't like having their gadgets removed, they may not even understand why we're doing it, but they're surviving and flourishing regardless. They haven't had a loss of friends, haven't missed out on any parties or conversations that really matter. They're getting more interesting though, and a hell of a lot more sleep.

Last night, my eldest said, "I feel smarter this year, I seem to be finding school easier than ever, I wonder why?"

My husband and I exchanged a small victory smile.

Alone again?

Yet when I talk about all of this with friends, my hubby and I are still one of the only parents in our sons' peer groups who remove their devices at night. And most of those parents are stunned that we even try. I'm a little tired of my boys telling me they are the only ones in their gang who are "punished" like this. I'm a little tired of parents being so "in awe" of my husband and I for being "so strong" or "so harsh" or "so amazing".

And to be honest, it's annoying the crap out of me, because the more of us who do this, the easier it will be to do, the less amazing it will seem. And the sooner it will become habit for all our kids, like brushing your teeth at night or eating your vegies, or getting up and going to school whether you like it or not. They will just do it because that's the rules and everybody does it.

I'm also impatient with arm-chair psychologists telling me this is just the way modern kids socialise. They're welcome to socialise via social media. I have no problem with that. I use it, too (you get this is an online blog, right?), just not all day and all night. And if all my sons' mates were forced off their gadgets at 9:00 p.m. they wouldn't miss out on a thing because nobody else would be on it, right? (And remember: we socialised by phone but that didn't mean we were allowed to call our mates any damn time we liked! When did socialising become more important than sleep and school and sanity?)

Your kids do not want you to confiscate their devices. That does not mean you shouldn't.

Curbing your child's use of devices is not just smart, it's safe, it's healthy and it's VITAL if you want them to actually develop into someone a little like you or the people you admire—independent, creative, interesting, healthy, safe, happy, well adjusted...

I am so glad I grew up without screens. There wasn't even television in Papua New Guinea where I was born. If there was, I'm not sure I would be writing books right now, I just don't know. I do not know if I would have developed my imagination as I have, I don't know if I would have had time to just stare and be so extraordinarily bored I had to come up with my own entertainment. Stories.

I do know this, though: As an adult, I would not have written eleven books if I spent all my downtime staring at my iPad, which is my default device and which I, too, feel strongly drawn to. I know I have to switch off to switch into my creativity, or nothing gets done, and so I force myself to. So why aren't we forcing that on our kids, too? Why aren't we allowing them the same courtesy?

Because at the end of the day, you're actually doing your child a disservice by being so lenient. It's lazy parenting to say, "They'll be right, they'll be fine" because, well, how do you know that? Maybe yours will.

But maybe they won't.

And maybe your teeth would not have rotted if your parents hadn't forced you to brush them twice a day and maybe you wouldn't have been assaulted if you'd been allowed to stay out after dark, but aren't you glad your parents didn't risk it and made you do those things anyway?

Be bold, be brave! 

It's hard to wrench those devices out of your kid's hands, but I promise you this: they will thank you for it later. Because there is no way it can hurt. No way in a lifetime.

Don't believe me? I'll leave you with a quote from a beautiful young woman who stayed with us recently. She's now 21, the daughter of old friends. She's studying at university and playing in a band and has a lovely boyfriend and a healthy body and a fantastic attitude to life.

Over dinner one night while she was here, she said, "Mum and Dad used to make me put my device outside of my room at night. Gee I used to hate it. But in retrospect I 'm so glad they did."

My kids are going to be glad too, they just might not like me for a little while. I think it'll be worth it.

Happy (offline) reading everyone!

xo Christina

Thursday 2 February 2017

Get Your Mitts on My Paperbacks

The party's not over yet, folks. As my loyal blog readers will know, I've been celebrating the release of my new posthumous mystery, DO NOT GO GENTLE, which launched as an ebook on December 30.

The story of one woman's desperate quest to unveil her killer before she heads off, kicking and screaming, into eternity, her dead Grandma by her side, DO NOT GO GENTLE is a cozy crime with a splash of dark humour, and is fast garnering great reviews. 

Now, thanks to the wonders of 'print on demand', the paperback version is also available for sale at Amazon.

But wait, there's more...

Short on cash after the festive season? Don't despair, I'll soon be giving some paperback copies away with Goodreads. There'll be more details on that when the giveaway goes live on February 8.

Until then, happy (paperback) reading everyone.

xo Christina

Monday 16 January 2017

New DIY Mystery on sale - one week only

As a special gift to my devoted blog readers, I'm dropping the price of my brand-new novel, DO NOT GO GENTLE, to just 99c at Amazon and Smashwords.

The sale kicks off today and ends in just one week, so don't hesitate, my friends, to download your super-affordable copy. And please don't forget to get in touch should you have any comments or views. This is a potential new series for me, so I'm especially keen to hear from you. Leave a comment below or jot me an email and I'll get back to you.

Thanks guys and happy (affordable) reading everyone!

xo Christina

Thursday 5 January 2017

I'm dead. I think my son stabbed me. I can not rest until I know why...

With her dead grandmother beckoning furiously from the tunnel, Lulu Gold refuses to go to the light even though she knows she's dead and there's no chance of return.

The problem is, she thinks her son—her achingly beautiful son—killed her and she's determined to find out why.

Why would her 13-year-old sneak up and stab her in the back one Sunday morning?
Was she really that horrendous a mother?
Or is there something else going on down there, something darker and more sinister at play?

Do Not Go Gentle is my latest murder mystery, and a whole new venture for me. Dubbed a 'Posthumous Mystery' it all takes place in the first 12 hours after a murder, and this time I invite the reader to come along and help me solve the crime.

As Lulu hovers above the crime scene, readers get a chance to view all the clues and hear the suspects' secrets to determine whodunit and why.

More than just a mystery, this one is also a study of family and friendships, a look at parenting gone awry and a re-evaluation of everything you ever thought about the true meaning of love.

It's not what you think.

My 10th novel and my favourite, this one is sure to make you laugh and cry, and often at the same time!

Happy reading everyone.
xo Christina