The Missing Witness – out now!

The Missing WitnessWell… it’s taken 6 months from final draft to publication – which by the sounds of things isn’t unusual for the publishing industry – but at last my novel is available for purchase at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

As you’ll have noticed… the title of the book has changed (again).  During the first few drafts it was “The Baby, The Dog and Irene”- and then for pitching to agencies and publishers it became “The Impossible Suspect” – and after an extensive edit by endeavour press it was decided the title needed to be different.

Where do you go to find a new title… titles are often the hardest thing to come up with.  Being a game writer, I’m used to fabricating titles at fairly short notice, and I knew what would sell for a game… but what sells books?  I had no idea.  And so rather than settle on just one title, I decided to pitch several to the publisher to see what they thought.

This is the list I sent them – I’d be interested to see, after reading the book yourself, if you prefer any of the other titles…

The Curious Case of the Husband in the Attic
The Friendly Killer
The Silver Sleuther
The baby, the dog, and Irene
The Foundation of Murder
The Forgotten Memory
Nothing Left Behind
The Missing Witness
The Man in the Attic
Missing presumed dead
Loose Ends
A Different Solution
The Murder of Lesley Cooper
Murder on Park Drive
Falsely Accused
A Grim Murder
The Unlikely Detectives
A Suspicious Stabbing
The Kitchen Killer
A Puzzling Pensioner
A Caustic Connection
Too few at the funeral

Busy year!

Forget busy week, this has been a truly astoundingly busy year.

And because I can never remember the log in codes for my personal blog, it’s been sadly devoid of regular content.  That might change.  Because as you can tell… I’ve found out what they were!!  Sometimes you just need to be in a different location for them to come back to you.  Me?  It’s the office.  Which means… while I type, I really should be hard at work grafting.

I wish you could see me now.  I’m surrounded by boxes.  We’re just about to hit peak seasonal sales with the website, and wholesale orders are dribbling in regularly which is why the office is awash with cardboard.

For those of you who follow me on Periscope you’ll have seen me shrink wrapping on a near daily basis recently. (I’ve just newly made it on this year I’m @redherringgames on there if you wanted to find me.) Even though I’m the MD of the firm, I’m still the one nominated to do the most boring job in the office because… you guessed it… I’m the best at it.  Yeah right.  It’s a job no one else likes.  Which means muggins here has to do it.

Fortunately I’ve just finished a slew of custom written murders, so have the time to stand there while the machine vooms hot air all around me to my intense boredom.

The most exciting custom game this year has been the murder mystery for the International Agatha Christie Festival – which will get it’s first airing on the 18th September.  Details available directly on their website.

However, that’s not the main reason I’ve made it onto the blog at last.  Rather I wanted to tell you that I’ve finally finished the first draft of “The baby the Dog and Irene” which has been in development for over a year now and am back into re-editing.

Being me… I’ve sent the first re-edited three chapters off to an agent while I’m working on the rest, just to see what they say.  As a member of the International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, I’m hoping it’ll get more of a look in than the usual unsolicited manuscript… so watch this space.

As well as finishing off a novel, I’ve also made it onto Amazon Create Space and self-published a short mini guide on how to write murder mystery games.  Details of that are below.

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Creating a murder mystery for TOWIE

Wow… this came like a bolt from the blue… Friday evening, there I am, 6pm still sitting at my desk… the perils of a home office and being self employed, and the phone rings.

First thought… it’s my husband phoning me from downstairs… (two phones in the house and 2 flights of stairs between the kitchen and the office, I will admit we are occaisionally lazy…)  But no!  I answer the phone and it’s Amy from Lime Pictures, the company that films The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE) enquiring into the possilibity of a 21 player game 1920s theme.

Well… to cut a long story short, and so many emails that you wouldn’t believe… Red Herring Games will be featured on TOWIE this sunday (7th July 2013).  I’m not sure who from the cast they have playing the game that evening, only that it will be played by a total of 18 people and hosted by two men.

As you might imagine the time pressure was immense.  The initial call came through at 6pm on Friday, and the final “go” on Saturday late evening – and they needed all the game materials to begin filming for this Sunday’s show on MONDAY AFTERNOON.

Now… I’m not good with maths, or for those who know me… analogue clocks… but even I could work out that it was less then 48 hours from inception to completion that was needed.

So if I was to stand any chance of pulling this off I needed to use a “base game” as my starting point.

So we had to make a decision.  To use “Murder at Merkister Hall” or to use something else…

It would seem at first the easiest thing to do would be to use a game from the website… but what if the cast revealed the murderer either on television or through facebook, twitter, press releases… it would mean we would have to remove that game from sale.

So… I had a bit of a quandry… after all, the solution is the “big reveal”… what could I do?

Over the years, we pick up custom orders from clients.  Some make the website after a quick re-write (e.g. A Corporate Murder was written for Disney Stores Ltd originally with Mickey and Minnie mouse in it… not that you would ever know; The Smashed Hits Poll Winners Murder was originally written for a local Vision Express 50th celebration – which will explain, for those who have played it, quite why there are as many references to glasses and contact lenses in there as they are).  But there are some games which, quite frankly would be TOO RUDE to make it onto the website…

So… after a brief discussion with Amy, it was off to one of these large player “rudies” to clean it up and create something 1920s appropriate for ITV viewing.

Sunday, after church, saw me bascially superglued to my seat, and I worked, with no more then toilet breaks from 11am to 2.30am (Yes… 15 1/2 hours straight) on Monday morning creating a whole new game just for TOWIE!

They wanted no TOWIE references within  the plot, so my favourite name “Fanny Vajazzled”  wasn’t to feature shucks…  Mind you – I couldn’t help my usual nautiness and the dead body is Rudyard Well… he always was a hard act to follow… and now he’s a stiff…

Here is the synopsis the cast will be receiving this week… and their characters.

 

It’s the roaring 20’s; a time of hope, prosperity, industrialisation, liberating fashion and jazz.

There’s money to be made if you’re business savvy and have the right connections;

and tucked away in the leafy depths of the Essex countryside, millionaire Sir Rudyard Well is just one of those who has achieved a very comfortable life.

Ranking #3 in the Forbes millionaire list, Rudyard Well is presently the wealthiest land owner in Essex, with a massive investment portfolio which includes the very latest in aviation technologies, as well as one of the largest international import export businesses on the Essex coast, Well Enterprises Ltd.

Sir Well is known for hosting lavish soirées, and tonight was to be no exception.  With exquisite food and lavish surroundings the evening was passing pleasantly and uneventfully, at least it was until he was discovered dead in his cellar face down in a tray of kitty litter.

The question is – which of the guests killed him?

THE SUSPECTS

Faye Slift – Mistress of Sir Rudyard Well.

A glamorous film star of some renown, Faye Slift is incredibly enticing and she has never been short of wannabe suitors.

Chuck Soveigh – The inventor and founder of Magnetic Underpinned Gearing (M.U.G.)

Aesthetically very pleasing on the eye, and with some significant financial backers, Chuck Soveigh is a good catch and he knows it.

Gill Tedd – Estranged third wife of Sir Rudyard Well.

A former model, Gill Tedd is a glamorous blonde famous for her appearance on numerous motorcar calendars.

Al Tetude – Founder of Essex Lion Aviation

Well connected and a fascinating conversationalist, Al Tetude is incredibly suave and good with the ladies.

Hugh Jinnins – International cricket coach.

Resplendent in his cricket whites, Hugh Jinnins is very handsome and has a charming and witty personality.

Anna Glipta – Art dealer

Classy and reserved, Anna Glipta has an attractive figure and has a sculptor’s eye for the other men at the party.

Hugo Furst – Test Pilot

Brave and daring, Hugo is hardly ever out of his flying gear, and is always reluctant to be parted from his leather jacket, long white scarf and goggles.

Debbie Taunt – American Socialite

With links to the French fashion industry, Debbie Taunt is dazzling at any party and a favourite of Sir Well.

Marc D’Triumph –  French Ambassador

Flamboyant French ambassador with a seductive accent and a cultivated look, Marc certainly knows how to entertain a lady.

Charity Bahl– Singer

Able to wow any crowd with her canary like voice and her peacock display of colour and form, Charity shines even without a spotlight, and always draws a crowd.

Warren Pease – Navy Captain

With the archetypal stiff upper lip, and smart in his dress uniform Warren radiates victory, though his career has been more chequered than he cares to admit.

Lee Enfield – Hunter.

A marksman of some renown and currently in pursuit of the “Beast of Brentwood” Lee Enfield is a powerful presence in any room, more noticeable for his preference for safari gear.

Ros Well – Celebrity Journalist

Never one for missing out on a scoop Ros Well is incredibly well dressed, and always on the look out for scandal and gossip, she always dresses to thrill… just don’t ask where she keeps her notebook and pen!

Emile Tikkit – Decadent Writer

Incredibly vain, fond of fashion and very much a man of leisure, Emile is single-minded in his pursuit of dandified elegance.

Ena Trance – Astrologer and spiritualist.

An enigmatic lady with hidden depths, Ena Trance positively oozes luxury from her every pore.

Jenny Tix – Creator of the Elixir of Youth.

A jewel encrusted beauty, Jenny Tix partakes of her own elixir and is regularly mistaken for a much younger woman.

Ivan Ego – Self-made Millionaire

An international man of mystery, Ivan’s financial beginnings may be inscrutable but his money is very much in evidence in his attire.

Anita Drinck – Executive vice-president in Sir Rudyard Well’s Corporation.

Elegant and with refined tastes, Anita Drinck doesn’t suffer fools gladly and takes no prisoners.

 

Of course… I suppose we need to write this one up into a proper plot now for everyone… and it’ll have to be called “The Only Way is Murder…”

You can find our more about our regular games here:  www.red-herring-games.co.uk

When I grow up…

I know, I know, I’ve been shockingly tardy at posting blogs…but, in my defence it’s been a busy few weeks, and only today has the business calmed down sufficiently to allow personal blog posts (and I admit I’m shirking…from business tasks this morning as I’ve got something I don’t want to do…)

Also in my defence I have been keeping up to date with my alter ego – posting as Dr Whiting for the business’s mascot Sherlock on: Dr Whiting’s Blog

Of course, with so many weeks gone past, this does mean there’s been a saving up of anecdotes from the children…

Things like…

“Mummy, what does Daddy want to do when he grows up?”

and….

“Do you think I can go to a funeral one day – before you die?”  (admittedly although the request sounded odd, he did have his heart in the right place… he wanted to make sure he had been to a funeral of someone he didn’t care about first, so he knew what to expect… and yes… this IS from a 6 year old).

and…

I think it looks like a large gold cheese grater.” (Yes, you’ve guessed it – the olympic torch!)  Which passed the end of our road one early morning to much un-excitement.

What can I say?  Yes, it REALLY was just a piece of flame sitting on top of an oversized cheese grater, and really, quite frankly, not at all interesting.  We might as well have been watching killingholme oil refinery chimney stacks… which are a lot easier to see from a distace.  I suppose, had it been darker, the flame might have been more visible, which might have helped, but in bright sunshine (a rarity in itself these last few months) there was very little to see.

Added to that there was the dissappointment of realising that the olympic torch itself wasn’t being passed around the UK like a relay race, but rather each torch was simply lighting another one in a chain… perhaps I was naive to expect more, I don’t know, but it really was such a non-event that we all simply went home and ticked it off the “bucket list” wondering why it was even on the list in the first place!!

As to what I’ve been up to on the writing front, well, there’s going to be a screening on the Local Freeview for my first ever TV program script sometime in 2013.  Seems ages away I know, but filming starts this summer, and there will be a winter live show as well to get the footage.  All good fun and a great experience getting it looked over by a professional TV producer.

There’s also been a lot of progress on the business front, with licensee requests from abroad for the retail side (translations into dutch), and in the UK, Florida, Dubai and Ireland, for the event management side, so that’s been tying me up for a bit; added to that, there’s a series of new You Tube films on the cards (keep your eyes out for our “Come die with me” video, AND I’m presently in the middle of drafting a script for our first ever video based team building game which will hopefully be filmed in the autumn and available in the winter for companies who want a different team building experience.

And if that isn’t enough, we’ve been preparing for the arrival of Mycroft Herring.  (And yes, I make all the mascots).  So that’s kept me busy too!

Poetry

I was asked the other day about poetry.  Did I know anyone who wrote poems to order.  Oddly enough – I did.  Me!

While most people know me as a murder mystery author, much of my early creative writing life was spent writing poetry and my “claim to fame” is winning 3rd prize in the national scottish poetry competition when I was a teenager.

Problem is – poetry, as a rule, doesn’t sell, and it’s also very subjective.  But I do take the odd commission.

The most recent commissions have been for rhyming poems to go in children’s books, but the one I liked the best was the one I wrote for a wedding a few years ago.  The Bride and Groom gave me a picture of a butterfly perched on a dragon’s nose and asked me to write a poem to go with the picture.  I love dragons myself, and enjoyed writing it for them.

It’s been a while now since the wedding, so I figured I could probably share the poem on-line over Christmas for others to enjoy.

 

 The Dragon and the Butterfly

A dazzling frail rainbow,

swift amid the smoke and flames,

descends,

landing on the hardened scales like feather.

Such lightness of touch.

A gentleness never witnessed.

A beauty never beheld.

A fragility so different.

 

They regard each other.

The strong and the weak.

The lumbering and the elegant.

The impervious and the vulnerable.

Each the contradiction of the other,

and yet in both, a similarity:

The joy of flight,

the shared experience of travelling where others only dream.

 

They linger, unwilling to part,

In the pause – admiration,

In the stillness – restlessness,

In the silence – longing.

Each is a manifestation of the other’s desire.

 

Their differences bind them.

Yearning drives them to transform.

A kaleidoscope of colours.

A wonder never witnessed.

The delicate joins with the strong,

giving weakness to strength

meekness to majesty

frailty to power.

It is the realisation of dreams.

Only together are they complete

Only together are they whole.