Posted in 12 Words, Author Q&A's, Guest Posts

12 Words with Matt Hilton


Matt Hilton quit his career as a police officer with Cumbria Constabulary to pursue his love of writing tight, cinematic American-style thrillers. He is the author of the highly successful, 10 strong Joe Hunter thriller series, which includes such titles as Dead Men’s Dust, Cut and Run, Blood and Ashes, No Going Back, The Lawless Kind and The Devil’s Anvil

His latest novel Blood Tracks Introduces private investigator Tess Grey and Southern renegade ex-con Nicolas ‘Po’ Villere in the first of a brand-new series of fast-paced action thrillers.

Today on, Matt takes on our 12 word challenge.


Answers should be complete sentences, and completed in no more than 12 words (unless otherwise stated)

Contractions count. It’s = 2 words.


LOC: You’ve just released your latest novel Blood Tracks, what can you tell us about it?

MH: It has a female lead, who is not Joe Hunter in tights.

LOC: What was behind your decision to take a break from your serial character Joe Hunter and begin a new series?

MH: To exercise my creativity and extend my commercial viability to female readers.

LOC: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your writing career?

MH: Winning over readers who complain Hunter isn’t Lee Child/Jack Reacher.

LOC: What’s the best book you’ve read this year (title & author not in word count) and why?

MH: “No One Gets Out Alive” by Adam Neville was intense and spooky and I do love a good scary story.

LOC: Describe your perfect getaway

MH: A log cabin in the Scottish highlands, preferably near a remote loch.

LOC: What is the strangest sentence you have written/read this week (limit does not apply)

MH: From my WIP: “Nicolas, I’m just shy of three hundred and fifty pounds, me; if I wore high heels I’d end up nailed to the sidewalk for the duration.”

and finally just for laughs……

LOC: Thanks to author C.L.Taylor you have just woken up to find yourself on stage in front of the judges of Britain’s Got Talent, with just a sledge, a grappling hook and some fish bones. What do you do? (12 words – minimum of one item.)

MH: Throw on furs; sit on the sledge singing White Fang the musical.




Posted in Blogging


It’s all go on the competition front this month!  Recently announced is Ireland’s Sunday Business Post’s short story competition with a whopping €2,000 prize up for grabs!

The Sunday Business Post is proud to announce its inaugural Short Story Prize in conjunction with Penguin Ireland

We are seeking short stories of up to 5,000 words for our inaugural SBP / Penguin Ireland Short Story Prize. Entrants must be Irish by residence or citizenship. The prize winner will receive a cash award of €2,000, with second and third place awards of €500 and €250 respectively.

Entries must be original short stories, in English, of 5,000 words or less. Any work that has been previously published and / or broadcast, or that is published or broadcast before February 21, 2016, will be disqualified.

Entry is restricted to residents and citizens of Ireland, and the deadline for entries is 5pm on December 23, 2015.  Full details on rules of entry can be found on their website.

Posted in Blogging

Myriad First Drafts Competition 2016: First Crimes

Fancy a chance at winning a week long writing retreat and six months with a Myriad author as a mentor?  Then look no further. The competition has a proven track record in launching writers who have gone on to enjoy creative and commercial success. Myriad has published several writers brought to its attention through the competition in previous years, including Lisa Cutts, whose crime debut Never Forget has been optioned by a major TV company.


Myriad and West Dean College invite previously unpublished writers to submit entries of up to 5,000 words from a crime novel or crime short story collection in progress. This year the competition will focus exclusively on crime and thrillers in celebration of the genre. The competition will be judged by an all-star judging panel of internationally bestselling crime authors

Now in its seventh year, the competition (formerly the Writer’s Retreat Competition) recognises promising work-in-progress, be it a short story collection or the first few chapters of a novel. The competition is open to all writers who have not yet published or self-published a collection of stories or a novel.

The prize is a week-long writing retreat in the luxurious surroundings of West Dean College near Chichester, as well as detailed editorial feedback from the judges and six months’ mentoring from a Myriad author.

Myriad’s First Drafts Competition is at the heart of our mission to discover and nurture bold and exciting new writers. There are very few competitions for a work-in-progress and this is a brilliant opportunity for aspiring authors to get their work noticed by publishers and agents.


The competition closes on the 31st March 2016, so you have plenty time to think about getting your submission in.  Entry costs £10, and you are restricted to only one entry per person.  The complete rules of entry and full details on submissions can be found on the Myriad website

Posted in Author Q&A's, Blog Touring, Blogging, Guest Posts

#BRYANTandMAY #LONDONSGLORY the tour, with Christopher Fowler

IMG_2282The latest instalment in Christopher Fowlers brilliant Bryant & May series is out now.  London’s Glory is a collection of eleven Bryant and May short stories, filling in gaps and covering cases mentioned in passing over the years.

In the spirit and brevity of a short story, when I got the chance to ask a few questions of Chris, I asked simply, about the genesis of Bryant & May, where in London fans could visit for a feel of the books, and what Bryant and May would think of book tours and blogging.  Here’s what he had to say.

Many years ago I fell in love with the Golden Age classic mysteries I found in the library, with their academic eccentricities and timeless view of an England that never really existed. There was just one problem; they badly needed an update because of outmoded attitudes to sex and race. I thought; wouldn’t it be interesting if you took the structure of the Golden Age mysteries and put them into our recognisable modern world?

If you’re going to describe the investigation of a crime, you might as well have fun with it. How does a writer create a detective? I started with a matchbox label that read “Bryant & May – England’s Glory”. That gave me their names, their nationality, and something vague and appealing, the sense of an institution with roots in London’s sooty past. London would be the third character; not the tourist city of guidebooks but the city of invisible societies, hidden parks and drunken theatricals, the increasingly endangered species I eagerly show to friends when they visit.

Every night, my detectives walk across Waterloo Bridge and share ideas, because a city’s skyline is best sensed along the edges of its river, and London’s has changed dramatically in less than a decade, with the broken spire of the Shard and the great ferris wheel of the London Eye lending it a raffish fairground feel.

By making Bryant & May old I could have them simultaneously behave like experienced adults and immature children. Bryant, I knew, came from Whitechapel and was academic, esoteric, eccentric, bad-tempered and myopic. He would wear a hearing aid and false teeth, and use a walking stick. A proud Luddite, he was antisocial, rude, miserable, erudite, bookish, while his John May was born in Vauxhall, taller, fitter, more charming, friendlier, a little more modern, techno-literate, and a bit of a ladies’ man. Their inevitable clash of working methods often causes cases to take wrong turns.

Then I threw every modern subject I could think of at them, from refugees to banking scandals, and let them sort out the dramas using old-fashioned (and vaguely illegal) methods. The result is, well, unusual!

The easiest locations to visit in the books are Waterloo Bridge, where the detectives walk most nights, and King’s Cross, where their unit is based, but in ‘The Victoria Vanishes’ there’s a list of all the pubs they visit in the books at the back. And all of the locations I use are real, so everything can be looked up and explored on Google maps!

I think John May would like blogging but Arthur Bryant would probably crash entire systems because he has a warped understanding of the internet!

Posted in 12 Words, Author Q&A's

12 Words with C.L. Taylor

31+dITNA4bL._UX250_When I was thinking about putting together this 12 word feature I put a shout out to my author friends on Facebook, and delightfully C.L Taylor was amongst the first to put her hand up in the air and say she’d give it a whirl.  Author of thrillers The Accident (released as Before I Wake in the US) and The Lie, here’s a big thank you from for taking up the challenge, and in turn her fabulous response.

The Rules

Answers should be complete sentences, and completed in no more than 12 words (unless otherwise stated)

Contractions count. It’s = 2 words.

LOC: I really enjoyed reading your current novel The Lie, what can you tell us about it?

CLT: It’s about friends turning on each other, a cult and fear.

LOC: How would you describe your writing process?

CLT: I brainstorm, research, make notes, plot, write, edit and then polish.

LOC: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt in your writing career?

CLT: That all writers hate their book at some point.

LOC: What’s the best book you’ve read this year? (not included in word count) and why?

CLT: The Widow by Fiona Barton, Written in a deceptively accessible style but with themes that resonate.

LOC: Describe your perfect day

CLT: Any day where I get a lie in is perfect (and rare).

LOC: What is the strangest sentence you have written/read this week (limit does not apply)

CLT: It’s one of mine – ‘The voice is coming from inside my head’.

and finally just for laughs…

LOC: You wake up to find yourself on stage in front of the judges of Britain’s Got Talent, with just an Accordion, a skipping rope, and a duck. What do you do?

CLT: Pretend the duck can tell jokes. Who stole the soap? Robber ducky!


Posted in Blogging

Crime & Publishment 2016 – Book now!

On the 26th – 28th February 2016, Crime and Publishment returns with its fourth edition.  This fantastic writing course has seen no less than 5 of its previous attendees awarded publishing contracts and it aims to help you improve your writing, improve your pitches and teach you the networking skills you need so you can go out and get yours.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by those involved in this course from the first event, and in my opinion just one of the things that makes this course so special is that when you say goodbye to the friends you will make over the three days and leave The Mill Forge, your weekend, your course and your lessons are far from over.

The support network I have watched grow over the last three and a half years has been amazing.  Previous attendees will return, to help ‘newbies’, and as the year unfolds and you meet up more and more (and you will meet up again) across both the crime fiction festival calendar and other more informal get togethers and gatherings, it’s an amazing opportunity.

Crime and Publishment always has a great line up of authors and industry insiders signed up to share their knowledge and experience with you.  The 2016 weekend is no exception, with the likes of thriller writer Tom Cain (a pseudonym of David Thomas), action writer Matt Hilton and ex Hollywood screenwriter and successful author Alexandra Sokoloff

Once again taking place at The Mill Forge, Gretna Green, there are several package options available to choose from, from single day passes, to full weekend passes including accommodation (and from numerous visits I can tell you the place is beautiful and the staff are delightful).  Full details of costs along with how to book your place can be found on the Crime & Publishment website.  Places are limited so if you want to secure your place then do make sure you book up soon.

Fancy a sneak peak at the programme?  Then cast your eyes below…

Friday 26th February
Induction and introductions

10.30 – 1.00pm
Group A – Writing your Fights Right – Matt Hilton
Thriller author, ex-cop and 4th Dan Kempo Ju-Jitsu martial artist Matt Hilton, will both discuss and demonstrate ways to write believable fight and action sequences, while also dispelling some myths often found in fiction.

Group B – Structuring your Story – Alexandra Sokoloff
Former Hollywood scriptwriter Alexandra Sokoloff will explain the black arts of story mapping and the three act structure


2.00 – 2.30pm
Networking for Authors – Graham Smith
Graham Smith will briefly revisit his 2014 session on networking and show ways in which authors can create opportunities to network both online and face to face

Group A – Structuring your Story – Alexandra Sokoloff

Group B – Writing your Fights Right – Matt Hilton

Saturday 27th February
10.00 – 12.30pm
Group A – Fact in Fiction – David Thomas (Tom Cain)
David Thomas (Tom Cain) has set his novels against such real events as the London Riots, the death of Diana: Princess of Wales, and the Holocaust. Listen as he gives practical advice on blending fact and fiction to enthral your readers.

Group B – Synopsising your Novel and Preparing your Pitch – Sara Hunt
Who better than a publisher to teach you how to pitch your novel? Sara Hunt of Saraband Publishing will teach attendees on the best way to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. She will explain how to grab their attention with a professional pitch and well thought synopsis.


1.30 – 4.00pm
Group A – Synopsising your Novel and Preparing your Pitch – Sarah Hunt

Group B – Fact in Fiction – David Thomas (Tom Cain)

4.30 – 5.30pm
1-2-1 Surgeries – Various Speakers
Pick the brains of our speakers on a 1-2-1 basis to solve that thorny problem with plotting, characters or setting with advice and insight from an experienced professional.

Sunday 28th February
Pitch session – Sara Hunt
Sara Hunt from Saraband Publishing will be accepting pitches from all attendees. Wow her with a well delivered pitch about your unique novel and you could be on the way to literary stardom.

Optional Extra
Friday 26th February
8.00 – 10.00pm
Nurturing your Characters – Graham Smith & Michael Malone
Graham & Michael will examine some well known literary characters and identify some of the traits which make them so memorable and will also discuss ways to make your characters stand out from the crowd.

N.B. This workshop is not included in the overall price and would be charged extra.



Still not sure?  Then cast your eyes over the testimonials featured on this page, along with founder Graham Smith’s page on the 2014 event here, and returning attendee Ann Bloxwich’s article on the 2015 weekend here.  Maybe next year it will be you writing a feature for  Who knows? There’s only one way to find out…

Further updates on the 2016 event can be found via twitter, just follow  @GrahamSmith1972 and @CrimeandPublish

Posted in Blogging, Festivals

Flash Bang 2016 – Win CrimeFest Tickets!

It’s all go on the competition front this week.  Today it’s the turn of the 2016 Flash Bang competition run by CrimeFest Bristol.

Can you commit a crime story in just 150 words?

‘A shot rang out’ is four words, but it packs a hell of a punch. Flash fiction is the art of surprise, illumination, punch.

Think short fuse, short-arm, Get Shorty. Did you know ‘flash in the pan’ originated with the priming of guns? And flashnotes are counterfeit notes… We could go on, but we won’t, because we’re big on brevity. Surprise us. Burn us. Write us. Whatever you do, do it in a flash.

Bang bang, you’re read.

It costs just £2 per entry and the first prize is a PAIR (yes a pair) of weekend passes to CrimeFest 2017 (access to all interviews, panels and receptions, exc. accommodation, dinner, travel)  with runner up prizes of a single weekend pass to CrimeFest 2017, followed by a CrimeFest goodie bag.  On top of all that, those on the shortlist will be invited to attend the Crime Writing Day on Friday 20 May 2016, when the winners will be announced.

Think you’re up for it?  Why not give it a go, after all 150 words…… how hard can it be? 😉

Entries need to be submitted by 4th March 2016, and full details of prizes and how to enter can be found here

Have fun and Good Luck!

Posted in Blogging

Reader’s Digest 100 Word Story Competition 2016 – Enter now

600x633x600x633_100-word-story-v2.jpg.pagespeed.ic.jCx00AB7f5Fancy having a go at some Flash Fiction?  Reader’s Digest has, this month launched it’s annual 100 word short story competition.

There are three categories—one for adults and two categories for schools: one for children aged 12–18 and one for children under 12.

Your stories should be original, unpublished and exactly 100 words long—not even a single word shorter or longer!

Entries must be in by February 20.

The editorial team will then pick a shortlist of three in each category and post them online on March 6.

You can vote for your favourite, and the one with the most votes will scoop the top prize.Voting will close on March 27 and winning entries will be published in our June issue.


What you can win…


Adults: The winner will receive £2,000, and two runners-up will each receive £200.

12-18’s: The winner will receive a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (8.0, WiFi) and a Samsung Gear S watch (choice of colour), plus £150 for their school. Two runners-up will each receive £100.

Under-12’s: The winner will receive a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (8.0, WiFi), plus £100 for their school. Two runners-up will each receive £75.


More information and details on how to enter can be found on the Reader’s Digest website here.

Posted in Blogging

Now open – Bristol Short Story Prize 2016

BSSPNot just one for crime writing fans, the Bristol Short Story Prize is an annual international writing competition open to all published and unpublished, UK and non-UK based writers. Each year they award cash prizes, publish the winning stories in their annual anthology.  The 2016 competition opened this week, and don’t worry if you haven’t got a story ready yet, the competition doesn’t close until 30th April 2016.  That’s a whopping SIX months away!

Here’s what their website has to say about entering and prizes.


Stories can be on any theme or subject and entry can be made online via the website or by post. Entries must be previously unpublished with a maximum length of 4,000 words. There is no minimum length. There is an entry fee of £8 per story.

20 stories will be shortlisted for the first prize and published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 9.

1st Prize is £1,000, 2nd Prize £700, 3rd Prize £400. 17 further prizes of £100 will be presented to the writers whose stories appear on the shortlist.
The winners will be announced at the 2016 Bristol Short Story Prize Awards Ceremony in October 2016. The Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 9 will also be launched at the event.

Rules of entry, and further information on prizes and previous winners can be found here.