Charlot's Blog Post
John Sharp to voice the audiobooks for The Cambridge Murder Mysteries
Hello! I hope everyone is well today?
As I write it is raining outside and the least May 3rd Bank Holiday Monday weather I have known for years. More like January in England today weather wise. But, when we have days like this here, we just make the most of indoors time.
I have been writing. 2,000 words today and yesterday, mainly due to the absence of summer! I have just started to write the next book. Wish me luck.
Last week I said that I'd speak more about the audiobook process and next steps for the The Cambridge Murder Mysteries.
For ages I couldn't decide what to do about them. My books are still relatively unknown, and I haven't exactly had people banging down the door asking for audiobooks, so I am ashamed to say I let the idea drift a little. I think really because I couldn't settle on the type of voice I wanted.
I investigated a couple of options, but they weren't quite what I was looking for. It wasn't an easy process. So I kept my head down and kept writing instead.
It is a surprisingly difficult decision to make, as in some way the voice will define the series and bring the characters to life for those who will listen to the audiobooks.
The wonderful John Sharp has agreed to do the audiobooks!
So when I discussed it with John Sharp, all of a sudden it all made sense. It had been staring me in the face.
John Sharp has the perfect voice that I was looking for.
John has been acting now for many years. But perhaps also importantly, he is a hugely talented singer with a deep resonant voice. Just what I was looking for, and no matter how hard a try, something I could never provide myself! (I did think for a short while of doing them myself, but thankfully I came to my senses...)
Below are some excellent photographs of John Sharp in various performances, including in The Mikado.
As well as opera societies, he has also been a member of a number of theatre troupes in Beaconsfield, Amersham and the Chalfonts for many years.
I'm really excited and so happy John will be doing this, and will have more news about this as the summer unfolds. What a fantastic and exciting thing to be happening!!
last week I spoke about how Amazon had offered to make The Cambridge Murder Mysteries available in hardback. It was a bit of a gamble. I thought if they looked awful I'd just remove them and none would be the wiser.
Well, I got my copies this week and I am pleasantly surprised! First, they are robust and the quality feels good. Secondly, the covers have come up well in the printing process. So all in all, a good thing. A family member was impressed. It remains to be seen if anyone will buy them instead of paperbacks, or ebooks. But, here is a photo of my copies
The dreaded long covid has sapped my energy this week, but while horizontal I have been continuing to plot out the next book in the series. I am enjoying the process tremendously.
Next week I will write more about getting some audiobooks made of the series. Hopefully, they will come out later this year if all works well.
In the meantime, hope everyone has a lovely weekend.
Charlot King's Blog Post
Hello, how is everyone?
I thought this week I would talk about hardback books. For some reason, Amazon contacted me and said they'd like to offer me the opportunity to turn my novels into hardbacks. It came out of the blue as they are 'BETA' testing it - whatever that really is. It does mean that I have not been able to get normal proof copies, as it is all in the trial stage, so I nervously accepted - as I like my books to look good! As soon as my copies arrive I will take pics and let you know what I think.
But it made me wonder who buys hardbacks anymore? I don't mean to be critical, just curious.
I only have a small number these days myself and don't choose them as the first option for myself. But, I have to admit, I do like buying them as gifts! They feel more luxurious, indulgent, higher quality.
Unlike many, I don't keep most of the books I read. It does make me smile when I join a zoom call and see most people sitting in front of rows of shelves stacked with books - somehow trying to show that they read them and hence are intelligent. Call me contrary, but I deliberately sit with few if any books behind me so I don't give off this 'air'. I don't want anyone to think I'm intelligent. It's too much pressure!
I don't keep my books for two reasons. I don't have time to read almost all of them again, as I'm not getting any younger and there are so many new ones out there. So why not give them to charity someone else can? Secondly, after my mother died, I gave away a lot of possessions. Something about clearing things out and not wanting to leave a large pile of 'stuff' for any left behind to have to wade through themselves. I was surprised by how easy it was to let go of almost all my books once I had those two motivations clear in my mind.
Consequently, I must have about ten to twenty hardbacks left. Ones I just cannot part with. I have a couple of art books, such as the drawings by Arthur Rackham which I peruse. I have an early edition of A Tale of Two Cities, and then a few remaining random books which will mean nothing to anyone. Just too sentimental to me to let go of - yet.
For me, hardbacks take up more space, they are heavier to carry, I presume use more of the tree, and always felt a little bit more formal. More scholarly. Traditional publishers would bring out the hardback first, wouldn't they - in the old days. Whereas the paperback was seen more as the airport novel. The commercial hit. The holiday romance read. At least in my mind.
All those days have gone and both the paperback and hardback are interchangeable, I'm sure.
And now it is the decade/s of the ebook. Sometimes I wonder what is coming next. The download straight into the brain book?
I must admit, I am surprised by Amazon's initiative. Are people going to go back to the hardback like those who have returned to the vinyl record? Is it the touch and feel. The gift. Something that ignites nostalgia? I would love to hear from you about why you love the hardback. Or, if even if you don't.
I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.
Charlot King's Blog
I wanted to thank my readers for all the reviews they have given over the last five years!
I also wanted to apologise for the radio silence while I've been fighting this ruddy evil little virus.
When you start writing your first novel it is very much in the dark. You never know if anyone else will enjoy the world you create. One of the ways a writer knows how they are doing is by the reviews they get.
I must say, I have been blessed by a core group of readers of my books who always make me feel part of something bigger than the bit when I sit and write alone. And that’s you. Those of you who have started to read my blog. When you tell me that you enjoy my books... well, it means a lot.
I have been particularly touched by the notes - you know who you are - I have received telling me that Vakentine’s Day - Kiss of Death is my best novel yet.
I am lucky being a self published author because I get to control everything about my stories. I have no publisher giving me notes saying this or that works but the other doesn’t.
Of course, many might say I need a good editor! That there are risks. But, now I feel like I’m part of a community of readers who visit the The Cambridge Murder Mysteries with me. Thank you.
As some of you may know I have long Covid, but it hasn't stopped me plotting my next book while sitting about the place! I am so excited after three months of rest, to now be close to starting to write it, finally. More to come - I may release some clues about it. I hope if any of you have been poorly, that you have found something you enjoy doing as much, and that it has seen you through any tough times.
Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.
Charlot King's Blog
I wanted to post this time about Cambridge.
For those of you who Follow me on Twitter, you will know that I spend a lot of time walking about the place, snapping what I see. A bit of a flâneuse. Mainly just lucky to live in such a beautiful city.
Being a shutterbug is partly because I feel like I just have to capture moments. When life is so fleeting, I want to make sure I never forget, and then want to share the magic.
Which brings me onto nostalgia. I do not find myself having sudden longings for the past, but do hold fond memories close to my heart, as we all do.
Cambridge, however, breaks all the rules and I think I partly write about it because I want to highlight the magic, if not forever, then for others to share of so many past memories.
I have been lucky to live in other vibrant places, London, Brighton, even Rio de Janeiro and New York for a few months at a time. But Cambridge stole my heart long ago.
People often ask me why I am so loyal. It isn't just because I studied here, or because there is an unbelievably beautiful river that runs through it. Nor is it because all the cars have been banned from the city centre and you can walk about in peace and without breathing the fumes. It isn't because there are a large number of parks and open spaces right in the heart of it - Midsummer Common, Jesus Green, Christ's Pieces, Parker's Piece, Lammas Land, Stourbridge Common to name just some. Of course, all these things play a part.
It isn't because my family have flourished here, built good friendships, feel safe and happy here. But that makes a huge difference.
It is mainly the people, the attitude. An ethos which almost rises up into the air from a collective spirit and swirls around the city like a protective atmosphere. The feeling which I get from this is warmth, hope, then collective pride.
Cambridge is more than friendly. There is a sense of belonging. People aren't passing through. They have found Cambridge, almost like a secret, and are not budging. Perhaps because many have found something which is so elusive. Happiness.
Importantly, I don't believe Cambridge is tribal. A word, sadly, which is growing in our vernacular. It is welcoming, inclusive to those in need.
Now, this all sounds a bit sickening if you do not live here. And, who am I to say. I suppose I wanted to share to give more insight into why I write about the place. Why my murder mysteries are set here.
I was wondering - and have in the past whether to write a 'tour' book, highlighting the places I have written about and wondered if there would be an appetite?
Happy weekend all,
I am going to try writing a blog and seeing if I can stay off Facebook, due to data privacy.
See if it works and if people can find me here.
I will try to post once a week and share with you snippets about my life and my writing.
This week, I have been taking a breather from writing. Those of you who have made it through my books all the way to Valentine's Day might have noticed that it was a longer book than the last three.
It was such a puzzle to write and to get right (I think I managed it (?) - just).
I started to plot out the story last Christmas, then because of my eye condition decided to write it up in paper form. It worked well as a first draft, but then by second I was on the computer. So spent a lot of editing time on laptop. I don't think there is an answer to avoiding the computer completely. I really enjoyed writing the first draft by hand, however, so may well do that for the next.
For those wanting to read on in the series, I can tell you that I now have the notebook I am going to use to start plotting out my next mystery! Being honest, I already have the bones of the story in my head. It will take a couple of months, however, to complete the process.
I will start handwriting over Easter and into the Summer and then the editing starts in the Autumn.
I wish I could write more quickly, but it takes me about a year to complete a book.
Being a parent and having a menagerie of animals does take some of my time. Though, I cannot complain. I am in a very lucky situation. No excuse then.
I wanted to share a photo of my notebook I shall we writing in. It was a present, but in case anyone is interested in buying a copy of it, you can find it on Amazon here (not on commission).
Later in the year, I will share a title if I can, to give you some clue as to what is coming. What I can say is that Elizabeth is back to being centre stage and is back on form. I will share another clue next time.
In the meantime, I hope to hear from you in the comments and I will look to respond. Let's see if this works!
I will still write the occasional blog, but most of my writing now is focused on my newsletter. If you would like to sign up, just follow the link below. My newsletters have interviews with writers, as well as musings on my own writing, as well as tips for new writers. They also contain photographs that I don't share elsewhere. And, they contain exclusive information about my books, as well as heads up about publishing dates and how to get them at lower prices.
Thank you, Cx
So did I say my next fiction book I’m writing is about dogs? I had no idea what I was letting myself in for (having up until now written murder mysteries in the whodunnit genre involving the two legged). Trying to write dog voices, I felt at the start like I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I wondered if putting human characters into the story to help move it along might help, but that just made the waters muddy and not to my liking, so they have remained peripheral. I’ll only know later if that was a mistake!
Then I had ideas in my head about so many dog characters to write about. How on earth would the reader remember them all? And what exactly do dogs speak like anyway? (and what makes me an authority?) This was the most important point. Never having had a conversation in the English language with a dog that went both ways was going to be a limit surely!
Having said that, the addition of a puppy into our home has given me ample experiences to watch and listen to her reactions with other dogs (and with people). And I have been blessed with those reactions in spades. One thing I have been reminded of is that dogs are much smarter than they first appear (I always believed it to be so, and am experiencing this lesson every day as my dog trains me). They get to know human habits and manners and adapt to their advantage (if they are lucky and not mistreated). Another thing I’ve learned is that all the dogs are so very different. We meet many on our walks, living in the centre of a city with parks and plenty of open spaces. The young ones in the main are excited, bouncy and happy. They just want to play. Then there are dogs who have a single track mind for their ball and don’t want to be disturbed while they fetch – and whatever you do, don’t steal their ball. Other older dogs are grouchy and have aches and pains like older people. There are nervous dogs, anxious of the things around them that seem unfamiliar.
Then there are dogs who want to dominate everything and all the dogs. There are dogs who clearly seem to be prancing and careful where they tread, while others who just love to get dirty. The more I look, the more I realise that dogs share so many similarities to humans. They are all so different to each other like we are… and they also seem to share so many of our different personality types (though perhaps none with the personality of premeditated malice you might find in a character in a crime fiction story).
So I have started with this knowledge. It’s still early days, but I’m cracking on with writing and really enjoying it. Let's hope it goes somewhere and the result is as fun as the journey!
Recently we got a dog. This has been a huge gift in our lives. There is much more laughter and chaos about the place. Which is no bad thing. We do benefit from new change to our lives, and our dog is certainly a major one. For starters, our home has turned into two homes: a first class lounge, upstairs, where the dog can’t go and the cats now live most of the time in the winter. They lounge on beds and on window seats, stretched out in the peace and quiet, where the air is fresh and the pillows soft. Then there is economy class, down on the ground floor of our home. In economy class everything smells of dog food, dog hair, wet dog bed. There are spit stains, and damp patches on sofas and rugs, which we hope are actual spit and not something worse. Then the walls have either been chewed or have mud up them. I seem to be the one spending all the time downstairs in the economy lounge, while my family find things to do upstairs. Not sure how that happened?
Other minor adjustments include things like the washing machine is permanently on. Who knew a dog needed so many towels? More than us? Also, we never get to sit down for that long before we are up again playing with the dog, or to let the dog out, let the dog in, fill the water bowl, feed the dog (still three meals a day at the moment) give the dog treats, buy the dog treats, brush the dog (Old English), pick up after the dog. We have a toy box, just like a toddler would have and the last thing I do at night is gather the toys all up. But I love our dog so much that I don’t mind. The best thing is when the dog jumps up on the sofa and hugs me, for no reason at all (already been fed). And will fall asleep with a paw on my arm (of course making it impossible for me to write).
Experiencing a dog’s unconditional love (owners like to think it’s not all about the food) is certainly something strange after having spent decades with cats. Oh how we love our cats, make no mistake… and we have not neglected their welfare at all. They receive regular treats around the clock and get to sleep on my bed whenever they like – which means mostly wanting to be stroked when I’m trying to sleep. But just to receive that much love from a fluffy puppy bundle is, well, a welcome surprise. Having had dogs all through my childhood and teen years, I had still forgotten how much a dog soon turns into your shadow and hangs on your every word.
And, the walks are something else. Getting out twice a day into the fresh air – whether in sun or rain, cold or warm – is such a bonus. It’s so easy to sit back indoors and look out of the window and say ‘nah, not today’ (or it is for me, clearly not a wind surfer, rower, or mountain climber). But not with a dog, there’s a much more ‘C’mon. Do it’ mentality in our household. Then you meet all the other dog owners, who make you realise that you must be as nutty as they are (I know they won’t mind me saying that, as they all tell me ‘all dog owners are nutty’ as if it is some badge of honour). I truly believe a dog is good for your mental health. For no matter how bad a day gets, a cuddle from a dog seems to melt the worst of it away. And I have never not wanted to go out and said ‘not today’. It’s just too much fun.
All this past six month’s joy from our dog has left my writing somewhat on the back burner. I gave myself a month to adjust to the puppy, the puppy to me. That turned into two. Instead, I told myself I would plot out my next book’s storyline. And I have done that, thank goodness. I now have Book 3 of the Cambridge Murder Mystery Series, all ready to write. I will certainly get onto that this year. But what has also emerged is the spine of a book where all the characters are dogs, and they live by the sea. It has come from spending so much time with our dog. Wish me luck on this project. I think I’m going to need it!
Clearly dogs don’t think like us, which is something for me to bear in mind when writing. But how much do they share with us? Research is constantly finding new things out about dogs. An interesting study found that staring at our dogs releases a happy hormone. And it does the same for a dog. We both get endorphins when we are together and happy according to this article in The Telegraph. Another article in The Guardian, talks about how dogs are perhaps very good at reading our body language and faces I was most interested by Rupert Sheldrake’s studies about how dogs know when their owners are coming home too. I’m certainly enjoying the research! Happy New Year!
After I'd finished writing my first novel I still had all the logistics left to do (being self-published). Choose a cover, sort someone to proof and edit, then there was the e-conversion, the paperback, ISDN numbers, and all the rest of it. So, for a while the last thing I was thinking about was writing a second book.
But when the dust settled, I knew I’d been gripped by the characters in ‘Poison’. I could see them walking around Cambridge, to me at least they were real. I had already marked out various stories in a notepad, so I knew I had further ideas.
But then, when it came down to it, actually starting to write, I began to wonder if I actually had it in me. A little bit of doubt snuck in. ‘Everyone has one book in them’ is such a cliché, and it couldn’t help but seep into my psyche. What if I was that person? What if I only had one book in me? Who was I? How dare I presume I was a writer.
At first my sales were slow for my first novel Poison, and I wondered what I’d done. Maybe it was rubbish. Maybe I shouldn't have shared what was going on in my head with anyone else. After all, it's a bit presumptuous, isn't it? Thinking others might want to read your private thoughts. Slowly, I began to get positive reviews from complete strangers. It was the funniest feeling. I almost felt guilty, as if my work wasn’t worthy. I am always overwhelmed and so grateful when someone leaves a review, or sends a tweet saying that they enjoyed my novel. It’s like the cherry on the cake.
These reviews were the very things that kept me going, to get me started to write another book. If a dozen people wanted to read my second book, then I was going to bloody well write it.
Then I realised, I’ve been writing for over ten years now. I have a number of other books written, that I decided not to publish. ‘Poison’ wasn’t the first thing I had ever written. I was probably the sixth thing. I’d done my 10,000 hours of writing. It doesn’t mean I’m a good writer. I certainly don’t presume to be a great writer. I just write, like runners run. When I’m writing, I disappear from everything around me. It helps me relax. When I was a kid I used to play the piano, and it had the same effect.
So, I stopped worrying, and I just started writing. I would make this second novel as good as I could. Of course. Why would I ask anyone to read (publish) it if I didn’t? But, in order to get over the hurdle, the beginning of writing it, I just wrote. So, I sat by the fire in the winter, and in my shed in the summer, and I did what I enjoy the most. I hope anyone reading ‘Cursed’ will enjoy it. To a great extent the returning characters wrote it for me. For now I can’t make them do things they wouldn’t do. I can’t push them into corners or tell them what to say. As I just see and hear them in front of me doing their thing. Although they are in my head, they are just being themselves.