Monday, April 27, 2020

National Crime Reading Month Goes Digital for May Lockdown!

The month of May sees the return of National Crime Reading Month (NCRM), a unique, UK-wide literary festival, designed to connect authors and readers and promote the crime genre. The festival, which is a major annual initiative co-ordinated by the Crime Writers’ Association and Crime Readers’ Association, normally promotes live author events up and down the country. During lockdown, the initiative has moved online with crime authors posting vlogs and blogs on the website crimereadingmonth.co.uk

Linda Stratmann, Chair of the CWA, explained: “We’ve – quite literally – created Crime Writers in Residence by asking authors to post films from their homes while in lockdown. It’s a kind of criminally-good Through the Keyhole! Readers love the personal insights from meeting authors in person, and most crime authors love to connect to their readers. With all the major crime writing festivals, as well as author events in libraries and bookshops, cancelled for spring and summer, we felt it was important to step in and offer a digital alternative.”

Festivals allow readers to meet established writers and discover new authors to widen and enrich their reading life. They also play an important role for aspiring authors, as well as help forge new friendships. Linda said: “Reading and writing are of course solitary acts but you’re never alone with a book. There’s a real connection on the page that is passionately celebrated in our festivals and author events. The crime genre is perhaps the most accessible and democratic of all, which makes our community a very sociable and inclusive one. We understand how important those connections are, so we’re encouraging CWA members to join in and submit videos from their homes to reach out to readers in lockdown.”

Although May is the official month for mayhem and murder with NCRM, the CWA began collating vlogs in April in response to lockdown. Featured authors include AJ Waines, a former psychotherapist who has gone on the write ten thrillers selling half a million copies, with her latest psychological thriller Cut You Dead released this April.
Fiona Veitch Smith, author of the Poppy Denby Investigates series, shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger in 2016, also joins the video series to talk about her life under lockdown during the Covid-19 crisis, alongside Holly Watt, who won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger last year for To The Lions.

Holly Watt said: “One thing I am finding weird about writing at the moment is that my characters are meeting up with friends! And having dinner together! And getting on planes! And all these things suddenly seem completely alien. It’s quite hard to write several paragraphs without interjecting ‘and then he washed his hands while singing Happy Birthday’.”

NCRM will also see the launch of short stories that will be free to read on the Crime Readers’ Association website, to provide a public platform for CWA authors wishing to showcase their work.
Readers and authors can join in #CrimeReadingMonth online and subscribe to the Crime Readers’ Association for free to receive the CRA Newsletter and bi-monthly e-zine, Case Files.

Join in #CrimeReadingMonth on Facebook and Twitter @The_CWA or find out more on the Crime Reading Month website.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The writing on hold for a little while longer....

So it turned out my mother of all headaches over the weekend, and the rash that started, were not the result of hitting my head or gardening, but rather the early signs of Shingles.

I am doing okay now, and thanks to my GP who gowned up with his PPE gear to examine me (the only patient who managed to get into the surgery in weeks - drama queen extraordinaire) I have the drugs I need to get better.

I've been told to rest, something I'm not usually inclined to do, but on this occasion, I will.

Thanks for all the gorgeous messages, and wishing you all a lovely Easter whatever life is throwing at you right now.

Remember to light a candle in the window tomorrow night for all those who are unwell and the wonderful health care workers to whom we all owe our gratitude.

Xxx Louise

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

I don't have any wise words....

Several weeks ago, as fears about Covid 19 gained pace, like many other people I felt a lot of uncertainly. The first concerns were of course around family, not being able to see our grandchildren for potentially a very long time, alongside the roles some of our family members did on a daily basis, which involved essential services. Small changes in our lives were made at first. Our son whose girlfriend is a trainee nurse moved into the old part of the house, as hubby and I, having turned 60 last year were technically in the higher risk group. The second set of concerns turned to business, safety at work, and how the fear of a potential shutdown would affect our livelihood. Every day there seemed to be something different to deal with, and every day we tried our best.

Two and a half weeks ago I developed a cough. It wasn’t anything too bad and in other times I would have dismissed it completely. Very soon after that I developed a temperature, and generally felt unwell. It happened over a weekend, but immediately I self-isolated. When I rang the GP on Monday, he put me forward for a test. I was to continue the self-isolation, and hubby had to restrict his movements. We both stayed at home. I stayed isolated in my son’s old bedroom. The following weekend they changed the criteria for the testing to having a cough and a fever, which I had, and a requirement to have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid 19, travelling back from another country, or be in the extreme high risk group. The test was cancelled but we were advised to continue isolating. That isolation ended yesterday. I never had the shortness of breath, so perhaps I didn’t have Covid 19, and in a way it didn’t matter.

On Saturday last, I ventured out to the back garden. I wanted to feel somewhat normal again. I did. It felt good. I felt I was getting part of what was normal back again even though I still greatly missed seeing our children and our grandchildren, and with the lockdown in place, business concerns loomed too. I decided the garden like myself needed some TLC, and in my stupidity while trimming back a low bush, I hit my head off a jagged branch. It was really painful, but thankfully there was no tear. Sunday, I got the mother of all headaches. It wouldn’t go away. I took paracetamol but it only took the edge off it. I rang the GP again. Over the last few weeks, it’s probably the most we have talked to each other in years. During the phone call we worked out I didn’t have concussion, but I was to come back to him if things got worse. Yesterday, I wanted to get back to writing, because I hadn’t written in four weeks, but I couldn’t because my head wouldn’t allow me. I was put on stronger painkillers and finally last night the pain eased.I had obviously damaged my head somehow, and possibly had an allergic reaction too as small hive-like bumps began appearing on my scalp, but like Covid 19, that too would soon pass.

This morning the pain is a lot less than yesterday, and hopefully tomorrow it will be better again. Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt all the normal fears most people might have felt at this time, and sometimes, like others, I’ve seen both the negative and the positive side of things. I know I am lucky. I know there are people out there who have suffered badly and others who fear what the future holds. I don’t have any wise words. I don’t think many of us have. All I know is the buds are coming out on the trees, the daffodils are bright yellow, and a robin has nested in a tree box outside my son’s bedroom window. These are good things to cling onto, as is the love of the people we hold dear. We are each doing our best. Tomorrow, after a month, hopefully, I will pick up my unfinished manuscript. It will probably feel like an alien document, but I will start again, no doubt badly at first, no doubt slow, but fingers crossed I will get there.  

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