Thursday, July 10, 2014

Murderati 2.0 (and what I did on my Scottish vacation)


Great news for Murderati fans. We’re back! The fabulous J.T. Ellison and web designer extraordinaire Cissy Hartley figured out a format for us to continue blogging but without the rigid schedule, so that we’re able to post on our own blogs and have them also show up on the Murderati blog. It solves the problem that ultimately shut Murderati down last year: it was taking too much time away from our writing to adhere to a regular schedule.

And I thought for my return post, I’d finally come clean about my last year (both here and on the new Murderati blog.

It’s been a little over a year since my last post on Murderati. So what have I been doing on that Murderati vacation?

Well, of course, yes, I wrote another book. Two books.

Blood Moon, the second in my Thriller Award-nominated Huntress Moon series, is available now. I’m very excited to announce that Thomas & Mercer has picked up the series and will be re-releasing Huntress Moon and Blood Moon in the fall, along with Book Three, Cold Moon, in print, eBook and audio. There’s a brand new audiobook of Huntress right now, which I put out myself, with the fantastically talented, multiple Audie nominee R.C. Bray narrating. And I’m working on Book 4 right now, along with another series. More about all that to come.

But there are other things to catch up on first.



Because it was also almost exactly a year ago that I went to Left Coast Crime in Colorado Springs, and ended up, um, moving to Scotland.


Yes, when I take a break from something, I really take a break.

I blogged about that Left Coast Crime trip here, but I didn’t exactly tell the whole story.

You all know that at a conference, you can find the writers at the bar. You may not be as aware that the longer you stay in the conference bar, the more likely it is to turn into a hotbed of illicit activity. (Okay, I guess that’s true of any bar…)

So last year at Left Coast Crime I was at the bar talking to Scottish crime writer Craig Robertson…    
and basically we never stopped. I visited him in Scotland, he visited me in California… and suddenly we were redecorating an office together.  (No, we don’t write in it at the same time. He often doesn’t wake up until I’ve finished my entire writing day. Which is useful for productivity…).

I always said if I ever did the love thing again, it would have to be with another writer. It’s just too hard when the person you’re sharing your life with has no idea what is going on in your head. With another crime writer, you know exactly what’s going on in your partner’s head. And it’s seldom pretty. And that’s okay. Because let’s face it, what’s in your own head isn’t very pretty, either. And you can do things like wake the other person up in the middle of the night to ask critical life questions like “What’s the absolute minimum time you can get DNA results back?” and they will not only have the answer but not mind you asking (much). That’s pretty golden.

So we’ve been living together a year now, which is pretty good considering that I moved in with him before we had a first date. And it will make for some interesting new blog material, because I have three new perspectives to write about: living with another thriller writer, and living in another country, and the UK book business.

I’ll start today with the question everyone always asks me:

What’s it like living in Scotland?

And you know how I love my lists, so here’s a short list of answers.

- It’s more like Trainspotting than Brigadoon

Actually, Glasgow is more like Trainspotting, Edinburgh is a bit like Brigadoon. Especially up around the tourist traps near the castle. We live between the two cities, so I get to spend a lot of time in both of them, and it seems to me that Glasgow and Edinburgh have a combative relationship somewhat like the one between L.A. and San Francisco (except that L.A. doesn’t really look outside itself enough to realize that San Francisco has a combative relationship with it…).  Glasgow is the mean streets, very masculine, outgoing, aggressive, and apparently crime-riddled. 

 

Edinburgh is dreamy and arty and feminine (really one of the more gorgeous cities I’ve ever seen). As a part of the crime writing scene I spend more time in Glasgow, but I like both cities and find the contrasts fascinating. Yes, I’m taking notes…


Speaking of Trainspotting…




- Subtitles would be good

Okay, I know that in my list to the Universe of what I wanted in a partner I suggested that an accent would be nice. English, Irish, Scottish, they’ve all always worked for me. Plus the humor. What I didn’t know was how bloody hard it is to understand a whole country full of them.

Craig is pretty comprehensible when we’re alone. He was a journalist for twenty years and has interviewed people from all kinds of countries, so he’s used to adjusting his accent to whomever he’s speaking with. But get him in a taxi, and he starts talking with the driver… they might as well be speaking Swahili. 

- Separated by a common language

It’s not just the accent. Even when I do manage to decipher that, I am constantly running into words and usage that I’ve never heard of. Everything that we pluralize in the US, the UK singularizes, and vice-versa. It’s the linguistic version of driving on the wrong side of the road, which they also do here. Lots of words get shortened (leccy, brekky, footie) and everything shortened has a “y” or "ie" added. If that all wasn’t short enough, they are constantly dropping “to be” in sentence construction (you hear “needs ironed” or “needs replaced” instead of “needs to be ironed” or “needs to be replaced”).  And of course, everything is “wee.” It’s not “a walk” or “the shop” or “a text.” It’s “a wee walk” and “a wee shop” and “a wee text.” (If you ever hear me saying a “wee” anything, you’ll know I’ve crossed some internal line and there’s no going back.)

Apparently the Scottish people invented the English language. Apparently they invented a whole lot of other things that the English stole. So I have no grounds for any linguistic argument. Plus you really don’t want to get in an argument with anyone Scottish – they seem to have invented that art, too.  So I don’t argue. I just casually mutilate the language with my Californiaisms. Probably I’m not the only one who needs subtitles.

- There are castles

Like this one, which we can see from our street:


In fact, there is history everywhere, and really, really old history. Sights like the above are so common here I often feel as if I'm living on a movie set.  My dreams are pretty surreal, too.

- The weather isn’t as crap as they keep saying it is

Scots like to complain. They especially like to complain about the weather. Maybe I got such a hard sell on how crap the weather was that it seems sunny by comparison (I’m a native Californian - people were betting against me surviving my first winter) or maybe I spend so much of my day inside my own head that I don’t notice the weather, or maybe rain is just good for the kind of writing I do, or maybe Scotland is finally getting the global warming it’s been dreaming of… but I don’t mind the weather at all.  It rains a lot, but there’s also a lot of sun. It’s also clear air all the time, which is wonderful. SMOG is bad. Snow is a major pain and could kill you. Rain is just weather.

- There’s this thing called a pub quiz

Pub quiz is both hilarious and nerve-wracking, like Trivial Pursuit on steroids. Luckily they take place in a pub, so all that Guinness takes the edge right off.

Look, we all know Americans are notoriously, spectacularly bad at geography. And there’s nothing like a pub quiz to make you understand how little you know about the composition of the world. I’m even worse than normal because when I was in primary school, the gifted and talented classes were held during geography hour, so I got lots of art and square dancing, which are pretty useless in the geography portion of a pub quiz. While I occasionally get random American trivia right, I try not to get involved in the tie-breaker final answer kind of thing. But it is hilariously good fun, much more engaging than a night in watching television.

- Don’t even think about mentioning Braveheart

Not being a fan of Mel Gibson’s torture porn, I never saw the movie myself, but apparently it’s about as accurate to Scottish history as Apocalypto is to Mayan history.


The actual story of William Wallace is fascinating and explains a lot about the Scottish character. He was a Scottish landowner who rebelled against incredible persecution under the English and became one of the main leaders in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the late 1200’s- early 1300’s. (And yes, it all still feels that old over here.)

Here’s the Wallace Monument, which I can see from the bedroom window (Do we think men had anything to do with this design? I wonder…)



- Yes, there are kilts

And I’m in favor of them.



So, I’ve come clean. What have you all been up to this year?

- Alex


As a welcome back to Murderati, I'm giving away a new audiobook of Huntress Moon.  Just comment to be eligible!    


45 comments:

clarke said...

Welcome to scotland Alexandra! I'm from New Zealand and I've lived here for fifteen years now. I still struggle with the local accents at times. I'm just down the road from you in Linlithgow. You moved to a very nice town.

Jenni Gate said...

Awesome! I'm so happy for you!!! I lived in England for a few years with quite a few trips up to Scotland, so I know you're in paradise up there. So glad you're starting Murderati up again too. I've missed that blog. When is Cold Moon coming out?? I can't wait to read it. All smiles for you today, Alex! :)

Jolene Navarro said...

It sounds as if you are having too much fun.

Sheridan said...

You've had a busy and productive year! Perfect for an adventerous soul such as yours

Patricia P. said...

I enjoyed your post about living in Scotland. Made me want to go there even more.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hi Clarke! Great to know I'm not the only one struggling with the accents, and not really surprised that you're still having trouble after 15 years. I pretty much suspected that.

Linlithgow is one of the prettiest names of the towns I regularly go by. I'll visit sometime!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks, Jenni! It really is lovely here. And we've missed all our regulars on Murderati, too.

Cold Moon will be out in October. Thomas & Mercer has picked up the series and they're releasing all three books simultaneously in print, ebook and audio.

I'll post much more about it here soon!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hah, Jolene. Sometimes I really am. :)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks, Sheridan. I don't know what it is in me that regularly needs to shake things up on such a grand scale, but there it is....

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Patricia, thanks! Definitely, everyone should visit. It's pretty unmissable.

Jenni Gate said...

As soon as Cold Moon is up for pre-purchase, I am ordering a copy!

Catriona McPherson said...

Wonderful. A very fair assessment of Scotland - gorgeous, old, rain, moaning, kilts, drunk.

Ms. Allison said...

First, love to have the Murderati community back in whatever iteration we can. I found it quite supportive and met so many great folks through it. Second, I am glad I have been able to witness your transformation from one to two to a family close up, it's inspiring. And yes, I'm coming to visit. I won't bring the entourage. (And I don't seem to have any trouble widtheacent...ha. Looking forward to Cold Moon.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Jenni Gate, if you're up for it, I'd be happy to send you an early copy for comments. I'm doing my last pass through in a week or so.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Catriona, I'm glad I hit all the major points! I like your logline better! But then, you should know... :)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Ms. Alliison, we'll be expecting you to guest blog.

Thanks for YOUR support... as you know, there weren't many people we told at first, and you've been just great. xxxx

Kaye Barley said...

Dang, this makes me happy! ALL of it. Every single word. Alexandra Sokoloff, I love that you allowed yourself to give the love thing another try. That hunky Craig Robertson guy is one very lucky dude.

Welcome back, Murderati, I have missed you so!

Mwah!!!!!

Erin said...

Scotland sounds wonderful! The good looking Scottish guy doesn't sound to bad either ;). Can't wait for Cold Moon. Closer to release date I'll go back and re-read the first 2.

Murderati being back makes me really happy! I found the blog during a time when I needed something good/fun to look forward to everyday, and you guys did that.

JD allen said...

hey Alex!
Congrats! I married an Englishman this year. We're in Nc, but I guess the four of us won't be double dating anytime soon! Maybe I can talk him into a trip over the pond.

See you soon.

JD aka Mari

Susan C Shea said...

Well, I haven't been up to anything that stacks up to that. Congratulations on saying yes to adventure and love!

Fran Timme said...

Loved the info. Congrats on giving love another try. I'm a true believer in love being married to my best friend for almost 33 years now. Can hardly wait for Blood Moon. I tell everyone to read this series.

Jack Reec said...

I love all of Scotland, the sunny east coast at St. Andrews and the grey mists of Islay (the only place, to my mind where one can drink liquid history in the form of Lagavulin, Ardbeg, etc etc.). Of the best sights in Scotland I must say nothing compares to wonderful dark haired women with pale faces rosy cheeks dressed in warm browns and blacks.

Shizuka said...

I was wondering what happened after Left Coast Crime. There was a teaser at the end of that post.

So glad Murderati is back!
And you win the prize for making the best, fast, life-changing decisions.

Cynthia Rayne said...

I am so happy for you! Congratulations!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thank you, Kaye! We're both pretty lucky.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Erin, I'm so glad Murderati was a good place for you! I missed it, too. No, the Scottish guy isn't bad at all.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hey Mari! So you married him, good for both of you. Yes, come visit! We may be back in NC some time, too.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Susan, I'm sure you've been up to something, though! But yeah, it's a little off the charts. In a good way.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Fran, sometimes you have to get yourself clear for the right person to walk in, right? Well done on 33 years, that's awesome!

(Blood Moon is out already, if you haven't read it. But I think you meant Cold Moon. Thanks for the recs!!)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Jack, I haven't been all over the country, yet, but St. Andrews is really charming. You definitely make me want to go to Islay! :)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Shizuka, I can't get anything past you.

This life changing-decision was a long time in coming. All the dominoes were in place, I just needed the right man to knock the first one over. :)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thank you, Cynthia! Very sweet of you.

the happy writer said...

Thank you for showing that a writer needn't be brooding and unhappy. This post proves there is plenty of room for love and happiness in the life of a writer! Congratulations on your beautiful life.

-aniko

Gabrielle C said...

This is lovely news :) I live in Glasgow and have read your blog for ages. X

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Gabrielle, I hope we'll be able to meet, then! I'm at both Waterstones in Glasgow for events, quite often.

Colin said...

Great wee read, this. (Sorry, "wee" again), and always interesting to hear someone reflecting on one's homeland from somewhere as different as California.

As for accents - try this. A sketch from the early 80s about the issue of Scottish accents. It isn't us that speak funny, it is everyone else. http://youtu.be/DlUb8jt0WP0

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Aniko, no, writers don't have to be unhappy. Brooding and impossible to live with, maybe... :)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hey Colin! We're traveling today but can't wait to watch your wee video when we get home.

JD Rhoades said...

So happy for you, Alex...and as for Glasgow, I was listening just this morning to Marc Maron's podcast interview with Glaswegian Billy Connolly, who notes that it's "an entire city with a drink problem." Maybe I should visit...

JD Rhoades said...

And on the subject of the accent...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2rqm1KtGhY

TrishJ said...

Wow! Talk about taking a leap of faith, you jumped with no net and with your eyes closed! I love a good adventure! Enjoy!! I am new to this blog, I follow Murder She Writes, So when Allison Brennan posted about this blog, here I am! So glad to be along for the ride! New authors are also a plus!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hey Dusty - come visit any time! Yes, Glawegians like their wee dram. And yes, that's EXACTLY the accent. At least it's entertaining as I'm not understanding...

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hi Trish - glad to have you here! No net and both eyes closed... that's a good way of putting it, but you know, writers are used to living lots of different lives, so as weird as it all is, it's not that much of a stretch.

clarke said...

Alexandra, if you want to experience something bizarre, and Scottish, just down the road from where you now live, google "The Pineapple Falkirk".
Clarke Ching, Linlithgow.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Erin, you've won the audiobook of Huntress Moon, but I don't have any way of contacting you! Can you e mail me at AXSokoloff AT aol DOT com?