Read an excerpt HERE.
Click on image to buy RETALIO.
Read an excerpt HERE.
Click on image to buy INSURRECTIO. INSURRECTIO_sm
Read an excerpt HERE. Click on image to buy PERFIDITAS.

BRAG

Read an excerpt HERE.
Click on image to buy INCEPTIO. Amazon bestseller
BRAG_INCEPTIO

'Must haves' for your website/blog

Sometimes when I’m looking for a guest post or interview, or a post about writing, or Rome, that I forgot to bookmark digitally but know is there, I’m stymied. Not through my lack of search skills – I’ve been at this digital game for a while – but because there’s no search box.

If I’m impressed by a post on another blog or website, I become frustrated that I can’t tweet about it because their Twitter handle isn’t there. I know they have one, but why should I go searching the Internet for it?

If I want to contact the organisation/blogger/author, there’s no contact method. They may be shy, of course, but why do they have a digital public facing presence in the first place?

Basic things missing from a site are likely to irritate and annoy visitors. Many people are too polite to give you feedback; they just won’t bother visiting again.

Some essentials for a website/blog

A search box (please!) Categories and months in the sidebar are time consuming – most people won’t bother. Do place it prominently, preferably top right.

Your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ details, hyperlinked to your account. These social media platforms all have lovely little buttons for you to use, so please do. You may like to add others like Pinterest, but the first three are the most important. Again, place them prominently in the top section of your pages.

A way of subscribing to your blog – I use Feedburner which has the useful built-in process of doing double authentication for me. This only subscribes people to this blog, but if you collect email addresses for any reason, e.g. a newsletter, you should always do this double confirmation.

Hyperlink any organisation logos on your site, but set them to open a new tab. If you belong to an organisation, it’s usually appreciated if you can encourage new members; this is a simple way to contribute.

Contact details Most importantly, please give some way for people to contact you. Putting an email address openly has its risks – you may get a lot of spam – but you can use the hello[at]alison-morton[dot]com format or a contact form which many, if not most, website and blog programs have as an option. I put mine on a separate page with a tab in the main menu at the top and include the following:

Contact me

The social media contacts are a repeat, but it makes it easy for visitors if these different ways are grouped together in one place.

I hope this has helped. Do you have any other essentials to add?

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April 2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

Dublin Writers' Conference 23-25 June 2017 - handouts

I hope you enjoyed my talk about writing adventure fiction.
Here – as promised – are the handouts!

Writing adventure fiction

Writing fight scenes

And the slides:

Alison Morton – Writing adventure fiction from Alison Morton

 

Happy writing!

 

(c) Alison Morton 2017  Please feel free to print these out for your personal use. But please do not lift, copy, grab or otherwise pinch the whole or part of this handout without asking me if you want to use it on your blog or in a talk/presentation of your own. I usually say yes, as long as you link back to this page and mention me. 
Email: hello[at]alison-morton[dot]com

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April  2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

J K Rowling's Twitterstorm

Author JK Rowling let loose a Twitterstorm on 9 June in response to the sexist nature of comments on female politicians. When you look at the news headlines and listen to commentators you will hear tones of it, whether meant consciously or unconsciously.

Women still have a hard time getting to the top and when they do, attacks on them tend to be personalised rather than an analysis and questioning of what they are saying or doing. Now, my political opinions differ from JK’s, but she is bang on the nail here.

Undoubtedly forthright words from somebody who is known for her trenchant views. I have to agree with her. Calling a female politician a ‘witch’ is peculiar. Would we call a male politician a ‘warlock’? ‘Witch’ is meant to denigrate, to reduce, to put outside the community. It’s also a word used by the ignorant, the frightened and the uneducated who have little generosity of spirit and no wish to go beyond the obvious communal baying. And falling back on the old ‘woman is a whore if not a madonna’ is laughable. It’s a demonstration of fear, superstition and envy.

So what to do? Call it out as JK has done, as Michele Obama does, as we all do in the #everydaysexism  campaign on Twitter. Educate your own children, question what people say, discuss or debate rationally, live the life that doesn’t accept there’s a difference. Your call.

As we say in Roma Nova, cura te ipsum*.

*Attend to your own defects rather than criticising defects in others.

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April  2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

Do I need to blog about the London attack?

(Still from a BBC video)

Yes, I do.

Seven people are dead and over 40 injured, after three people launched a van and knife attack.” (BBC website)

It was such a stark statement. I was in Spitalfields on Saturday 3 June, about a mile north of London Bridge, having a bite to eat with the stragglers from my joint launch party for RETALIO. (More on the Roma Nova blog about that.) We dispersed around 10.20/10.30pm and I didn’t take any notice of the police sirens over a block away; there always seem to be sirens  in London – police ambulance, fire brigade. But when I was back in my room and sipping a cup of tea, I switched on the television to catch up on the news. I’d been out since 12 noon and I like to know what’s going on in the world. I idly wondered if they’d made any further arrests in Manchester. Oh, and  the singer Ariana Grande was coming over to do a concert in Manchester, wasn’t she? Not my sort of music, but well done her.

Then the horror hit. Three knifemen having run people down on London Bridge, ran amok in Borough Market, killing and maiming. Thanks to the speed of the police response, their courage and that of members of the public, the criminals were bought down.

People were frightened out of their wits. Some resisted, throwing bottles, chairs, anything at the criminals to stop them, or at least deflect them. Most, very sensibly fled. Some trembled, some cried, but most just ran. One photo of a young man hurrying along a pavement went round the world – he was still holding his pint of beer. Nothing was going to separate him from it!

Most people, civilians, out on a warm Saturday night talk about their work, their awful or wonderful boss, their friend being bitchy, whether the team was going to win the cup, where they were going on holiday, their pay rise (or not). They don’t expect to end up in a trauma hospital, hurting, their clothes wet with blood from stab wounds.

I messaged my husband that I was safe, he posted on social media, as I did; messages of concern had flooded in. I could just as easily been in Borough Market with my friends, or the criminals could have attacked Spitalfields. We are always the proverbial hair’s breath away from death every time we wake up in the morning (and that’s a miracle in itself).

However, the risk of being involved in a terrorist incident is minute. The M25 is far more dangerous. But the after-effect of a terrifying incident ripples through a population with the aim of disrupting and and disuniting it at the same time making it fearful of everything.

Yesterday I went to the British Museum for research but also for some historical perspective. I walked to Liverpool Street Station. Bishopsgate looked much as normal on a Sunday; quiet except for a few tourists and people coming out of the  adjacent Spitalfields area. Um, it’s the financial quarter – the normal busy, no, frenetic, weekday population is at home or out with the kids. I slipped into the last seat in my carriage on the Tube; others were left standing. At Russell Square station, we had to queue for the antiquated lifts. Back up on the street, people filled the pavement as usual.

In Russell Square itself, that green oasis, the café was doing good business, people were picnicking or just lying in the sun (getting over a hangover probably), parents were pushing baby carriages, toddlers running after pigeons. At the British Museum, I walked into walls of people and escaped to the Roman rooms and relative peace.

So, no, people weren’t cowed or reeling. Upset, yes. Angry, yes. How dare these bloody people think they have a right to kill innocent people? Call us unfeeling – you’d be wrong – but don’t make the mistake of underestimating our resilience or our bloodymindedness. That’s what the British do best.

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April  2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

Author events-lite

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post on how to set up and run an author exhibition stand. Readers seemed to find it useful and it’s still much retweeted and reposted. But how do you do this when you haven’t got the luxury of a thousand-litre boot people-carrier but a single suitcase, weight limit 20kg?

I live in France, but write in English and attend many events in the UK as speaker or participant. Last year I was back and forth like a yo-yo! I’ve had to develop a strategy on this.

The secret is selection, teeth-grinding, laser-sharp selection.

I have a venerable Antler suitcase which I call ’The Beast’ because dragging it up Tube station steps and along uneven London pavements searching for my hotel has given me a jaundiced view of it. But it’s sturdy. It needs to be. Yes, that is the world’s most embarrassing-looking strap round it, but can you easily pick yours out of the zillion black cases on the carousel at Stansted? (I hastily undo the strap and stuff it in the outside pocket before going through to the arrivals hall.)

So what goes in this case?

1. Books
Whatever the event, I take a few, especially the first in series, INCEPTIO, which weighs in at 450gms, and the latest in this case, RETALIO (425gms). If somebody asks and you don’t have a book for them, what a missed opportunity!

If I’m speaking, one of the perks is to have my books in the event bookshop/on the speakers’ sales table, so I take a reasonable number. As I write a series, I take at least one of each (6 so far). That’s 2.5 kgs. Add in three more INCEPTIOs and another seven of RETALIO (just out!) and we have a chunky 7.6kgs. Now, it’s a fine line between not missing out on sales and lugging the books along miles of airport corridors. You probably won’t sell that many, but you never know.

2. Clothes
A light raincoat is a must. Sorry, but it rains a lot in the UK. I can roll my microfibre one up and stuff in the outer pocket of my suitcase once I get through passport control and onto public transport.

Wear your heaviest shoes to travel in; the lighter ones go in the case. But do you really, really need a second pair if you’re away for only a few days?

Take layers and as light as possible. Most writing events can be covered by ‘smart casual’. If it’s a jacket event, try to travel in it unless it’s a lightweight one. Keep it simple and take same colour clothes in different weights and styles: t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, short-sleeved shirt. I usually take black trousers, black velvet shirt, white polycotton shirt and black and white pattern shirt, a jacket/cashmere cardigan and a couple of scarves. If there’s a gala dinner, you can often get away with a summer frock and use the jacket as cover up for later.

Underwear and scarves can be packed round your precious books to shield them from the worst vicissitudes of baggage handling. (No offence to baggage handlers. Standards differ and YMMV.)

3. Promo material
You cannot do without this. Even if it’s just a few postcards. Keep them pristine in a self-closing plastic bag, the kind used for freezer storage, before tucking them in your bag. It’s surprising how quickly surfaces get scuffed and corners turned when jostled around in company of your keys, pens and lipstick.

I slip a small pack of postcards into the front pocket of my laptop bag which doubles as my cabin bag. It still surprises me how positively people react when you say you’re an author travelling to an event; they always love a card.

Postcards, bookmarks, pens, badges can add up – I’m taking 50 Roma Nova pens to my next event, 435 gms – so think about taking enough for a good display but not so much it piles on the kilograms.

I used to take an aluminium based pull-up banner. A 60 cm wide one can be wedged diagonally across my case. It gives a lot of PR space for very little effort. However, in the tightened security of the past year or two, I used to get pulled over more than half the time for a baggage check. A long manufactured metal object with no obvious purpose… Now, after the tragic event in Manchester I think it would be tactless, if not foolish, to attempt to take it.

But you can at least take a placecard for the table.

4. Usual travel stuff
Toiletries (mini travel sizes if possible), a couple of plasters, aspirin (or equivalent). If the hotel has a hair dryer, use that rather than take your own. I would throw in some flip-flops or travel slippers as you can never be sure when the carpet was last cleaned. The rest is up to you…

Two organisational tips
I’ve used little bags rather pretentiously called ‘packing cubes’ for a while now and find they not only keep small stuff together, but make packing and unpacking very easy.

As you’ve seen above, I have some perfect ones just under book size.

Do weigh your case before you leave the house; this avoids embarrassment and at worst a tear-streaked face and throwing books around the airport. This inexpensive travel scale is very easy to use, plus can be tucked into the case for use before your return flight.

Well, this is what I’ve been doing. Have you any tips to add? I’d really like to know!

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April  2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter