Thursday, 21 July 2016

Madeleine Milburn’s Summer Writing Competition: Make Us Scared

Madeleine Milburn’s are thrilled to open entries for their Madeleine Milburn Summer Writing Competition, 2016. A world-renowned literary agency based in the heart of Mayfair, London, they represent a dynamic and award-winning list of authors published in the UK, US and international markets. The agency offers the highest level of care to a boutique list of authors, working together editorially and developing their work across all media.  They are dedicated to each talented author we represent, managing their writing careers with passion, skill and ambition.

Now they are keen to find a great new unpublished writer who can amaze them with an incredible voice, writing and premise. The Summer Writing Competition is open for adult novels with the theme of ‘Make Us Scared’. That can be anything from gritty crime and suspenseful thrillers to dark narratives, it’s completely open to your interpretation and can even cross genres.

They want it to be a book they cannot help but tell people about, a book that draws us back to reading when they take a break and a book which leaves them with a lot to think about.

This year’s judges of the Madeleine Milburn Summer Writing competition are two of our Sunday Times bestselling authors Fiona Barton, The Widow and C.L. Taylor, The Accident, The Lie and The Missing.

Fiona Barton was discovered from a writing competition herself after being shortlisted for the Richard and Judy Search for A Bestseller in 2014, and The Widow is still the bestselling hardback debut of the year in the UK. C.L. Taylor is a two -time Sunday Times Bestselling author, with over half a million copies of her books sold. Her books are consistently featured on the top 10 eBooks on Amazon.

The top five entries will be selected by the Madeleine Milburn agency for the shortlist. A winner will be chosen by Madeleine Milburn and our guest judges, and they will receive a prize of £500 and an offer of representation by the agency. All five shortlisted entries will receive comprehensive written feedback from the agency. They will offer representation to entrants whose writing they love. If you are offered representation by another agency while the competition is running, please let them know and we will withdraw your entry.


To enter, you must be un-agented and the work submitted must be unpublished (work from which an extract has been published in a literary magazine is fine). The prize is open to writers from anywhere in the world, but the work must be written in English.

Entries are open from Friday 22nd July and the closing date is 1st September 2016. The shortlist will be announced on 8th September with the winner to be revealed on 6th October 2016.

They ask for a cover letter including a brief author bio with contact details, one-page synopsis, and a full manuscript to be submitted (or a minimum of 30,000 words if the novel is nearing completion).

To find out what they are looking for and for more tips on your writing and submission, head to Writer’s Corner on their website, and when you’re ready to enter submit your manuscript to


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Debbie Howells Top 5 Crime Novels

Today's guest blog is by Debbie Howells as part of her The Beauty and The End Blog Tour. She lives in West Sussex with her family. Having worked as cabin crew and a flying instructor, she spent years running a very successful wedding flower business, whilst also writing and self-publishing three novels. The Bones of You was her first novel published by Pan Macmillan.   Her latest novel is The Beauty and The End.

Rosamund Lupton – Afterwards is her second novel and one of my all-time favourites, not just for the characters and the story, which is heartbreaking, but for the writing.  Her writing is beautiful.

Clare Mackintosh – I Let You Go.  This is another beautifully written book, with a twist I hadn’t seen coming.  The landscape is vivid, the characters so real.  It’s a disturbing read that stayed with me. 

Agatha Christie – Sparkling Cyanide.  Agatha Christie’s novels were the first crime novels I read, Sparkling Cyanide the very first. I’d race through, needing to find out who the murderer was, before starting on her next book.

Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca.  So beautifully written.  Manderley is unforgettable, as is the naivety of the second Mrs de Winter and the hostility of Mrs Danvers.   A timeless classic.

Frederick Forsyth – The Day of the Jackal.  I first read my Dad’s copy of this as a teenager, and it was like nothing I’d ever read before.  The plot, the suspense, had me rushing to the library to find more of the same.   

The Beauty of The End by Debbie Howells is published by Pan, priced £7.99

April is on life-support and the only murder suspect. Noah is a reclusive ex-lawyer attempting to ignore his sadness and write crime novels. April is also the love of Noah’s life and, though he has never recovered from her rejection, he returns to their hometown to prove April’s innocence. Meanwhile, Ella has her own secrets, but no one will listen to her. She is the same age that April was when Noah first met her, and what Ella knows is key to finding the murderer.  Following the story of April and Noah’s tragic and flawed relationship and Ella’s determination to uncover the truth.

You can find more information about Debbie Howells on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter @debbie__howells.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Books to Look Forward to from Orion

July 2016

British detective Fiona Griffiths, one of the most engaging female protagonists in crime thrillers, is back with her toughest case yet. When the body of a young woman is found in an old 'dead house' - the annexe where the dead were stored before burial in medieval times - of a tiny church in a small town in Wales, it seems that past and present have come together in a bizarre and horrifying way. For DC Fiona Griffiths, the girl - a murder victim whose corpse was laid out with obvious tenderness - represents an irresistibly intriguing puzzle, given Fiona's unusual empathy for the dead. And when her investigations lead her to an obscure and secretive monastery hidden in a remote valley, she finds that the murder victim is far from the only victim of a dark and disturbing melding of modern crime and medieval religious practices. Only Fiona is capable of solving this brilliantly crafted mystery.  The Dead House is by Harry Bingham.

September 2016

The Twenty-Three is by Linwood Barclay.  A dark cloud of suspicion and fear continues to hang over the town of Promise Falls. A series of bizarre, ominously threatening incidents suggests someone is plotting to take revenge on the town. But who is the perpetrator, and revenge for what? Now the time for threats is over. And the inhabitants are about to discover the truth, with devastating consequences.

Growing up in a difficult household and in a crumbling mansion with two elder sisters (who are both, in their own way, horrible to her), a father who seems perennially lost in contemplation of the past and haunted by fleeting memories of her mother, who died mysteriously in the Himalayas when Flavia was a baby, her refuge has always been an obsession with chemistry; an interest that has proved very useful whenever unexplained
death has come to the otherwise sleepy village of Bishop's Lacey, which is surprisingly often.  But now Flavia is presented with her strangest mystery yet: a dead man found hanging upside down, a beloved children’s book concealing a shocking secret and strange pagan rites in the village…. But the latest mystery to puzzle Bishop's Lacey's eccentric inhabitants is perhaps the strangest and darkest yet, and it will test Flavia's budding investigative skills to the limit - not to mention put her in terrible danger ... Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d is by Alan Bradley.

October 2016

The Wrong Side of Goodbye is by Michael Connelly. 'What do you want me to do?' Bosch
asked again. 'I want you to find someone for me,' Vance said. 'Someone who might not have ever existed.' Harry Bosch is working as a part-time detective in the town of San Fernando outside of Los Angeles, when he gets the invitation to meet with the ageing aviation billionaire Whitney Vance. When he was eighteen Vance had a relationship with a Mexican girl called Vibiana Duarte, but soon after becoming pregnant she disappeared. Now, as he reaches the end of his life, Vance wants to know what happened to Vibiana and whether there is an heir to his vast fortune. And Bosch is the only person he trusts to undertake the assignment. Harry's aware that with such sums of money involved, this could be a dangerous undertaking - not just for himself, but for the person he's looking for - but as he begins to uncover Vibiana's tragic story, and finds uncanny links to his own past, he knows he cannot rest until he finds the truth.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway's latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She's worked with the revered crime writer for years and his detective, Atticus Pund, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It's just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway...But Conway's latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but hidden in the pages of the manuscript there lies another story: a tale written between the very words on the page, telling of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder.  Magpie Murders is by Anthony Horowitz.

November 2016

Fleeing to America following a terrible crime, Irish-born fighter, Danny McCabe, throws in his lot with Nicolas and Lucia Mariani, siblings who have emigrated from Corsica in search of their fortunes. Adrift in the tough and unforgiving world of 1930s New York, they rely on Danny's bareknuckle fighting skills to survive. While Nicolas is tempted ever deeper into the underworld, Lucia can think of little but her obsessive drive to succeed in Hollywood. When Danny McCabe's dreams of boxing stardom become a terrifying nightmare, fate compels them to escape westwards to Los Angeles. On the run, the trio are bound together by blood, by shared secrets, and finally by love, as Danny and Lucia embark upon an affair that is as profound as it is dangerous. Nicolas, driven by greed, soon finds a welcome home in the dark world of corruption and vice that lies behind the glitzy facade of America's city of dreams. Danny McCabe is desperate to bury the dark secret of his past, while Lucia is caught in the crossfire between her brother and the man she loves.  Kings of America is by R J Ellory

Rather be the Devil is by Ian Rankin. John Rebus, now a couple of years into his retirement finds himself drawn into a cold case from the 1970s involving a female socialite, found dead in a bedroom in one of Edinburgh's most luxurious hotels. It's a crime over forty years old, but no one was ever found guilty. Now, Rebus has his own reasons to investigate ...but it is going to set him against some very dangerous people.

Lovemurder is by Saul Black.  Troubled San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart is planning a rare weekend away from the job when she gets the call. A body has been found. A woman, brutally murdered. And the cryptic note left by the body is addressed to Valerie. The victim is unknown to her, but as Valerie analyses the scene, the clues begin to point in a deeply disturbing direction: to a maximum security prison where a woman called Katherine Glass is awaiting execution for a series of gruesome killings. And Valerie was the cop who put her there. The last thing Valerie wants to do is re-enter Katherine's twisted world, but when a second body is discovered, with another puzzling clue, she realises she has no choice. Katherine Glass holds the key to the killings, and Valerie needs to find out what she knows before the murders come even closer to home. Even if it means playing a deadly game where once again, the psychopathic killer holds all the cards.

Frankie James is a young man with a lot on his shoulders. His mother disappeared when he was fifteen; his father's in jail for armed robbery; and he owes rent on the SoHo snooker club he inherited to one of London's toughest gangsters. Things, you'd think, can only get better. Actually, they're about to get a whole lot worse. He always swore to his mum he'd keep his younger, wilder brother out of trouble, but when Jack turns up at the club early in the morning, covered in someone else's blood, with no memory of the night before, and with the cops hard on his heels, it seems there's no way Frankie can make good on his promise. With Jack banged up, awaiting trial for the vicious murder of a bride-to-be - a murder that's sparked an even more vicious gang war between London's two foremost crime families - Frankie knows a conviction could quickly turn into a death sentence. To prevent that from happening, he needs to find out who framed Jack and why, but that means entering the sordid world of bent coppers, ruthless mobsters and twisted killers that he's tried all his life to avoid getting sucked into. Now, however, he no longer has any choice. But in the dog-eat-dog underworld of 1980s SoHo, is he tough enough, and smart enough to come out on top?  Framed is by Ronnie O’Sullivan.

January 2017

A Twist in the Knife is by Becky Masterman.   Brigid Quinn is a former Fed trying to live a normal life after years in the most twisted of company - but still entangled in the guilt, violence and rage inevitable after a career spent tracking killers. Now Brigid is drawn into the case of a man on Death Row, awaiting execution for the murder of his wife and three children. Something tells Brigid that an injustice is about to be done, but when she investigates the circumstances behind the convictions, she finds the truth is even more shocking.

On its surface, life in Houston is as you would expect: drive-in restaurants, souped-up cars, jukeboxes, teenagers discovering their sexuality. But beneath the glitz and superficial normalcy, a class war has begun, and it is nothing like the conventional portrayal of the decade. Against this backdrop Aaron Holland Broussard discovers the poignancy of first love and a world of violence he did not know existed.  When Aaron spots the beautiful and gifted Valerie Epstein fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, at a Galveston drive-in, he inadvertently challenges the power of the Mob and one of the richest families in Texas. He also discovers he must find the courage his father had found as an American soldier in the Great War.  The Jealous Kind is by James Lee Burke.