Advice For Entering The CWA Debut Dagger (Pt 2 – Synposis) by Helen Giltrow

Great advice thanks for posting Rebecca and thanks for sharing Helen

Rebecca Bradley

Last week CWA shortlisted crime novelist Helen Giltrow was on the blog talking about the CWA Debut Dagger competition, her experience of it and how that might help if you are thinking of entering yourself.

Helen entered the CWA Debut Dagger competition with a very early version of her debut novel The Distance. She made the shortlist, and has since been published by Orion, with a second novel in the pipeline.

Today she is back again – which I am thrilled about because it is valuable information, and at a time when she is writing a new book – to talk about the dreaded synopsis which you have to submit along with your first 3,000 words.

We’ve already talked a bit about the competition’s requirements and especially about tackling the 3,000-word opening. What about the synopsis?

I HATE writing synopses – especially if it’s for a book I haven’t…

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Home Made Baked Beans: The Low Sugar Cook Book – Nicola Graimes

This is a very easy recipe – even if you make from scratch as I did – by soaking beans instead of buying canned and using homemade tomato passata (made earlier in the year) it is still easy. I love that this recipe has no artificial colours or preservatives.  The next time I make this I will not add any form of sweetening – the tomatoes provide a natural source of sweetness and for my taste needs nothing else. An easy and satisfying recipe, great with sour dough toast.


Shallow Waters Released Into The World

Congratulations Rebecca

Rebecca Bradley

Today’s the day. Shallow Waters is live and available to the unsuspecting public. Or if you read this blog, those who should be very suspicious…

Shallow Waters

Ebook coverWhen the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.

Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.

But it doesn’t stop there. When catching a killer isn’t enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?

It is currently available on Amazon in all territories and on Kobo in all territories. So whichever eReader you use…

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Post Script: Remember Me This Way – Sabine Durrant

Suspense, suspense, suspense.

Remember Me This Way

Remember Me This Way

Sabine Durrant

Mulholland Books

Hodder & Stoughton

Hachette UK

ISBN 9781444762457



The new, brilliantly tense psychological thriller by Sabine Durrant, author of the hugely praised UNDER YOUR SKIN.


Everyone keeps telling me I have to move on. And so here I am, walking down the road where he died, trying to remember him the right way.


A year after her husband Zach’s death, Lizzie goes to lay flowers where his fatal accident took place.


As she makes her way along the motorway, she thinks about their life together. She wonders whether she has changed since Zach died. She wonders if she will ever feel whole again.


At last she reaches the spot. And there, tied to a tree, is a bunch of lilies. The flowers are addressed to her husband. Someone has been there before her.


Lizzie loved Zach. She really did.


But she’s starting to realise she didn’t really know him.


Or what he was capable of . . .



My View:

This is the second Sabine Durrant novel I have read – the first being Under Your Skin – Ms Durrant certainly knows how to write a gripping psychological thriller! I am already bookmarking this to go in my “best of crime fiction reads” list for 2015. The writing is brilliant, evocative; the constant sense of foreboding, of violence, of something evil lurking in the periphery weighs heavy on your shoulders as you read.


This is a very clever plot – twisted and constantly surprising revealing yet more “truths” as lies, soon you do not know what or who to believe but you do know to fear…for me the spectre of violence is more powerful than in-depth descriptive acts of violence and the threat rings loud and clear in this read, it is brilliant.

Post Script: The Last Days Of Rabbit Hayes – Anna McPartlin

 WOW!!! A fantastic read that connects to the very heart and soul of the reader. I am grateful, I am grateful.

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes

Anna McPartlin

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Black Swan

ISBN: 9780552773744




Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end . . .

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it.

She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in

her big heart, Johnny Faye.

But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen. Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment.



My View:

WOW!!! A fantastic read that connects to the very heart and soul of the reader. I am grateful, I am grateful.


For a work of fiction this had the voice of realism and heroism that transcends the subject matter- cancer and dying. And what a fantastic narrative voice – I cried big fat silent tears from the very first to the very last page – don’t get me wrong this is a not a saccharine sweet, over dramatized, over the top, excessively pessimistic story – this is a heart breaking, honest look at love, life, cancer and a family that holds your head above the waves and stops us from drowning….


I loved every soaking wet page of this novel. I loved all the characters in the novel with its dialogue so real and so crazy and funny, the connections that death could not break and the family that comes together and holds together when crisis sets in. This is a remarkable read, I don’t think a book has affected me like this since….I don’t think one ever has. As I read this book I chant in my head “I am grateful. I am grateful. For every day I am grateful.”


Do yourself a favour, read this book.


Post Script: Judi – Behind The Scenes – Judi Dench

A beautiful photographic memoir.


Judi - Behind The Scenes

Judi – Behind The Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Judi Dench

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780297608844



“National treasure? I hate that. Too dusty, too in a cupboard, too behind the glass, too staid…What I love is being part of a company. On stage I am not trying to be myself, I am trying to be someone else, the more unlike me the better.”

From her first theatrical role as a teenager in York to her commanding performances as “M” in James Bond films Dame Judi Dench’s professional life has consisted of nonstop acting, leading to numerous accolades, including an Academy Award.

Behind the Scenes is fully updated and expanded edition of Dame Judi’s first photograph album Scenes from my Life, published in 2005. It is uniquely personal take on her life and brilliant career, showing off stage as well as on: in the wings, off sets, in dressing rooms and happily larking about. Beautifully illustrated with photographs from her own collections here are reflections and reminiscences on those who have mattered to her most – her family, fellow actors, directors and writers – communicated with the truth and insight of her acting.


My View:

As a fan of Dame Judi Dench’s work on the big and small screens I was fascinated to read what I would describe as a photographic memoir of her illustrious career peppered with anecdotes from her personal/family life. The images in this book, particularly of Dame Judi’s career on the stage are works of art; I loved the ones of her in costume of Cats (1980, p. 73), in Mother Courage and her Children (1984, p. 86), and the glamorous black and white image as Ophelia in Hamlet (1957, p.13) is iconic- the hair, the makeup, the “look”. I think even if you had never heard of Dame Judi Dench and flicked through this book you would be stunned by the art – this record speaks to the British Theatre, makeup and costume, fashion and culture from the 1950’s to today.


Beautifully narrated. Beautifully designed. A fantastic contemporary record of many great British stage productions peppered with Dame Judi’s personal anecdotes and images. A warm and personal read or a great coffee table book.