Blog Tour: Dead & Talking

Today I get to help start the blog tour for Dead & Talking by Des Burkinshaw.  Today he shares a little about his publishing journey and  how hard it is to get an agent to publish a manuscript, despite having a more than interesting career.

**There is also an international giveaway going on that will have three winners!** 

Book Description:

If a ghost appeared from nowhere, rescued you from suicide and then ordered you to start solving crimes to help dead people, what would you do? When it happens to Porter Norton, he just wants to put his head in his hands and have nothing to do with it. But now he has to atone for the family curse that has seen all the men die at their own hands for five generations.

The Gliss, the sarcastic spirit that rescues him, says he can now and see and hear the Dead – if he’s close to their remains. Porter has to use his unwelcome gift to clear up past injustices. Or else.

Forced to investigate the murder of a WW1 British Tommy executed for spying in 1917, he begins to suspect the case has links to his own family history. Along the way, Porter enlists the help of a bickering group of misfits, who struggle to stay involved – because only fools believe in the supernatural, don’t they?

Full of pop culture references, banter and twists, the story takes us from present-day London and Flanders to scenes from World War 1. As Porter, The Gliss, and friends, get deeper into the explosive case, they discover their own lives and sanity are at stake. An evil from WW1 pursues them all.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

What is the value of a CV?

Every aspiring author hopes their covering letter will help sell them to an agent before they’ve even touched the manuscript. We spend a lot of time crafting the perfect blend of sales pitch and self-promotion and it is clearly an important document. So why did I end up feeling that it did more harm than good in my quest to find an agent?

I’ve been writing for a living since I became a journalist in my early 20s, though I had been writing unpaid for college, school and fanzines since I was 17. By my mid-20s I had picked up a few politics scoops in the UK, moved on to the national media and was, frankly, soon astonished to find myself on the news desk at The Times of London.

When journalism lost its allure, I sidestepped into TV and worked at ITV, Channel 4 and then started 13 years at the BBC.

By the time I was 30 I had retold thousands of stories and written millions of words. I had been shot at, had rats running over my feet in an Indian leper colony, interviewed royalty, politicians, musicians and film stars. I checked my diary recently. In one year alone, the most famous people I met, interviewed or worked with included Sean Connery, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, U2, Peter Gabriel, Demi Moore and Ralph Fiennes. There were other less famous people too.  That was one year out of a 25-year career.

Can you see the problem yet?

What I wanted to do in my covering letter was to make the following points:

  • I’ve got a novel for you, terrific story, intricately plotted, great characters
  • I’m a professional writer, have been for 25 years, published in famous newspapers and magazines and script work done for the world’s oldest and most famous broadcaster
  • I’ve had extraordinary experiences, which I guarantee you’ll find touched upon in the novel.
  • By the way, did I mention I have a novel for you, terrific story, intricately plotted, great characters…

The first agent I sent it to called me up 10 minutes after he got my initial email. I just looked you up, he said. Pretty interesting career. So what was playing with Paul McCartney like? I trotted out my well-worn anecdote about playing piano with Macca. Maybe I should have heard the alarm bells ringing at this point.

It worked to a degree. He was intrigued enough to call the manuscript in after reading my initial three chapters.  He eventually said no to representing this book (too cross genre) but asked if we could have lunch to discuss other projects.

That was the only time I got invited to lunch, but the next two agents who contacted me said very similar things and seemed more interested in which celebrities I’d directed for the BBC than the content of my book.  For the record, all three came out with variations of that old chestnut – “best thing I’ve ever read, but what shelf would it go on?” that I’m sure many of you recognize. They also rejected the book.

I realised I might waste two years pursuing agents and publishers and decided to just go for it myself. At one point, the book was ranked about 35,000 on Amazon’s best sellers rank, which considering I haven’t promoted it yet and was just hoping for early reviews, was amazing. I think it’s because I had a week where 200 people per day were downloading the book (How did they find out about it? Where the heck are all their reviews?  I can see the page count going up. Are they all just slow readers?)

Even my editor suggested going via Unbound because I have a lot of connections. But in reality, I’ve got very few close friends in showbiz.

I don’t know it went for everyone else, but for me, my CV (which I’m super-proud of) did hold me back because it became a distraction.

The good news is that the book is out ahead of its formal launch on July 9 and as of tonight has 21x 5 star and 1 x 4 star reviews across the US/UK Amazon sites. It has 4 five star, 1 four star and 1 three star review on Goodreads. It has zero 2 or 1 star reviews.

About the Author

Born in the middle of the Summer of Love on a pre-fab council estate in Luton, teenage bitterness and a chance viewing of the Watergate movie, All the President’s Men, made him vow to become a journalist and bring down the government.

First he had to pay for his journalism course, so he became a civil servant. Literally the day he had enough for his fees, he packed it in.
Twelve years on from watching the film, he was a journalist at The Times and had a big hand in bringing down John Major’s government. News ambitions sated, he packed that in too.

Several years of working for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC as a senior producer saw him working across the world, but he eventually got fed up with asking bands how the new album was coming along, and packed it in.

He set up his own production company magnificent! in 2002 and simultaneously worked on the BBC Live Events team for another 10 years. But then six years of work on the Olympics came along, so he packed the BBC in. Again.

Des has jammed with many of his heroes from Paul McCartney to Brian Wilson, Queen to Nancy Sinatra. He has interviewed many A-listers, including David Bowie, Michael Caine, John Cleese and even Noam Chomsky.

He has directed/produced a fairly long list of people – Muse, Coldplay, Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, produced BBC3’s Glastonbury coverage for a couple of years, made films about leprosy in India, comedy shorts with Miranda Hart and Lenny Henry and played guitar for Chas and Dave at the Hackney Empire.

He has made 300+ short films for the Queen, MI5, the BBC, Sky, Discovery, EMI, the British Academy and dozens of authorities, charities and private sector firms. His most recent publication was a series of interviews with leading academics like Mary Beard on the state of the humanities which was published as a standalone magazine by the British Academy.

Fed up with travelling and determined to be a half-decent dad, he now works in London as often as he can. He runs the Young Directors Film School making movies with young people and is about to head up the Digital Film and Video MA at Tileyard. An avid musician and producer, he releases his third album as Romano Chorizo (he plays drums, bass, piano, guitar and really bad sax).

He hates to be pigeon-holed, thinks creativity is a learned state of mind and wishes they would teach people memory and learning techniques at school.

Dead & Talking is his first novel, the first in a series of Porter & The Gliss investigations.

Contact Des:
Twitter @DesBurkinshaw

**International Giveaway!**

Win 3 x Signed Copies of Dead & Talking

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Kim’s June 2019 Video Wrap Up!

Kim is back with her video wrap up for June 2019!


Blog Tour: Chloe: Lost Girl

Today I am part of the blog tour for Chloe: Lost Girl by Dan Laughey. He will be sharing how the past affects the present and also the future and how it affected his writing in Chloe: Lost Girl.

Book Description:

A missing student. A gunned-down detective. A woman in fear for her life. All three are connected somehow.

Detective Inspector Carl Sant and his fellow officers get on the case. But what links the disappearance of a university student, the death of an off-duty police sergeant, and a professor reluctant to help them solve the case?

Their only clue is a sequence of numbers, etched by the police sergeant Dryden on a misty window moments before he breathed his last. Soon it becomes clear that Dryden’s clue has brought the past and present into a head-on collision with the very heart of Sant’s profession.

Racing against time, D.I. Sant must find out what’s behind the mysterious events – before the bodies start piling up.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

T. S. Eliot once wrote that the best poetry requires a sense ‘not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence.’ I would argue that the best crime fiction requires that same sense. A sense that history is not merely how things once were, but on the contrary, history is here and now, living in all of us from this day forward.

A living, breathing history pokes its head through all the best stories of our times. There is no better crime writer out there than the late, great Ross Macdonald. Inspired by Raymond Chandler, Macdonald carried the genre to new heights by blending history into murder mysteries and murder mysteries into history. He did what very few writers can do: become very popular and at the same time write very important novels. Novels which made very deep impressions on readers and other writers who followed him.

My own use of history as an inspiration for what happens in CHLOE: LOST GIRL is something I’m deeply aware of. A real crime – the murder of a police officer in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, back in 1984, when I was still a child – was the launch-pad for my first stab at crime writing thirty years later. I should emphasise that the relationship between my characters and the real people caught up in that past tragedy is purely arbitrary, but certainly the 1984 crime and its subsequent investigation inspired the cold-case enquiry that forms the subplot to my main storyline about a present-day murder of a detective and disappearance of a university student.

Bringing a cold-case investigation to bear on a contemporary murder mystery was a concept I found intriguing. This phenomenon of the historical crime that can be revisited, reassessed, and throw up revelations that effectively rewrite the past, and the present with it, is a fairly recent one in the evolution of our justice system. The idea of what’s gone before informing the here and now is integral to the way I see things in my imaginary looking glass. Cold-case enquiries are cropping up all the time, but not a lot of crime fiction has tapped into this.

No doubt Eliot would have been just as good at crime writing as he was at poetry. That historical sense never left him. It should never leave any writer who wants to connect with the world around them; the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow; and more importantly, the world inhibited by readers.

About the Author:

Dan Laughey is a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University where he teaches a course called ‘Youth, Crime and Culture’ among other things. He has written several books on the subject including Music and Youth Culture, based on his PhD in Sociology at Salford University. He also holds a BA in English from Manchester Metropolitan University and an MA in Communications Studies from the University of Leeds.

Dan was born in Otley and bred in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, a hop and a skip away from the Leeds setting of his Chloe novels.

His crime writing was purely academic to begin with. He’s written about media violence and tackled the age-old concern about television and video games influencing patterns of antisocial behaviour in society. After years of research and theoretical scrutiny, he still hasn’t cracked that particular nut.

He’s also written about the role of CCTV and surveillance in today’s Big Brother world, the sometimes fraught relationship between rap and juvenile crime, football hooliganism, and the sociocultural legacy of Britain’s most notorious serial killer – the Yorkshire Ripper.

All in all, Dan’s work has been translated into four languages: French, Hebrew, Korean and Turkish. He has presented guest lectures at international conferences and appeared on BBC Radio and ITV News in addition to providing expert commentary for The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.

Contact Dan:
Twitter @danlaughey