Monday, 19 June 2017

The wacky world of the pop out cake

Hopefully the person jumping out of your cake won't look as bored as these two!

For a major scene in my book, How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks, I wanted my main character Kirsty to try and get close enough to someone who would immediately have her killed if he saw her.

I racked my brains about how to do this without her being found out and when it emerged he was having a birthday party, I thought it would be awesome if she could hide in a cake.

I don’t know about you, but I have never seen anyone jump out of a cake before, so I didn’t know where to start.  That’s when the good old Internet came to the rescue.   



Here are some things I discovered -

  1. It's actually quite straightforward to hire a pop out cake, as cakes designed for jumping out of are called. 
  2. Pop out cake are usually three tier cakes that resemble wedding cakes, you can even make your own. They can also be square.
  3. Note, I said make and not bake your own because the only similarity between these cakes and real ones is the edible frosting they may have on the outside. 
  4. Quite often, a table cloth is placed over the bottom of the cake to hide the fact there is no bottom and that’s how the person inside gets inside. Other cakes sit on a kind of platter like this one - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-xtjrR5Dc8 and have wheels so that the cake can be wheeled in with the person inside. A section of the cake can be like a door to allow the person to get inside with ease.
  5. The top comes off and that’s how the person inside jumps out.
  6. A pop out cake even featured in Xena Warrior Princess. You can watch the footage by clicking here
To hire a cake, it’s best to approach a prop hire company like this one
I'm delighted to announce that How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks about a one-legged Glasgow barmaid who goes on the run from with a gangster's cash and gun, will be published soon. Details to follow. 

Stay tuned for details, including the cover reveal, as you finally get to find out why Kirsty jumps out of a cake and how she gets on:)

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

What happens after abducted Shelley Craig wakes up in Vile City





What happens after abducted Shelley Craig wakes up in Vile City? Here's an extract - 



When Shelley came to, her throat was raw. Water. She needed water. With one hand, she groped for the glass she always kept on the bedside table.
Damn, it wasn’t there. Must have moved it. 
She pulled herself into a sitting position. When she moved her head it was as though a part had broken off inside. She flopped back down. What had she done last night to get into this state? She hadn’t changed out of her work clothes; she was wearing her work trousers that pinched at her calves because Stuart hadn’t noticed the ‘dry clean only’ label and they’d shrunk in the wash. 
Trying to dredge up the last thing she remembered made her head hurt. Her disorientation wasn’t helped by being unable to see properly because her eyes were stuck together by the glue of sleep. She must have forgotten to take her contact lenses out.
Wherever she was, it wasn’t at home. She was lying too low down and the place smelt of unwashed laundry and mold. 
Maybe she was sleeping on some pal’s floor after one cocktail too many. That had to be it. Think, damn it, think. 
When some light permeated the darkness, the jolt it gave her was a bolt of electricity to her brain. 
Stuart. He’d been attacked. Was he okay? 
A sob wracked her body as she forced herself to sit up. This wasn’t the time to get hysterical. She could do that later when she was safely at home.
She rubbed her eyes with her fingers, picking away the sleep until she could see clearly. She was on a bare mattress on top of a rusty old bed frame, in a strange room with torn wallpaper and flaking paint on the wall. The bed creaked whenever she moved and she wanted to tell it to shut the hell up. She didn’t want him to hear. 
She remembered his voice in her ear, saying he’d kill Stuart unless she cooperated. Had he hurt him? That thought made her sob.
He’d know she was awake and then what would he do – rape her? She didn’t think he’d done it already. Surely, she’d be able to tell, wouldn’t she?
***TO BE CONTINUED***

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Vile City is available now -







Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Missing presumed murdered: The tragic case of Renee and Andrew MacRae

The last picture of Renee and little Andrew
Usually when a child goes missing they don't have either of their parents with them. But in the case of the longest open missing persons case In Britain's history, 3-year-old son Andrew was with his mother Renee MacRae when he disappeared along with her, way back in 1976.

Renee was separated from her husband Gordon and dropped her oldest son Gordon who was 9-year-old off at her husband's in Inverness. She was meant to be going to see her sister in Kilmarnock and she was heading that way in her BMW when she was last seen.


The burning car

12 miles away that very same night, a train driver spotted a burning car in an isolated lay-by. It turned out to be Renee MacRae's car.

No trace of either her or the little boy was found. All that police found was a rug stained with blood that was tested and matched MacRae's blood type.

What happened to Renee and little Andrew?

So, how did a car carrying a mother and her child end up on fire and more importantly, where were Renee and little Andrew? Despite an intensive search no trace of either them was ever found.

The Sightings

Witnesses spotted a man dragging what looked like a dead sheep along the road where the mother and child were last spotted driving along. Renee MacRae was wearing a sheepskin coat when she was last seen.

Other witnesses saw a man with a pushchair near the quarry. Could it have been the little boy's?

The Theories

Unbeknown to her husband Renee had been having an affair with a married man called Bill MacDowell who worked for her husband. According to Renee's best friend  she'd been going to see him that night and not her sister as she claimed. What's more she confided in her friend that wee Andrew was her lover's son. This friend claimed that Renee was planning to start a new life with her lover.

If that was true, Renee never got the chance of happiness. Her little boy never got the chance to enjoy his childhood.

Whatever happened to the pair that night it seems certain that they were murdered. Will their bodies ever be found so they can rest in peace?

Some hope

The man in charge of the search, Detective Sergeant Cathcart was convinced he'd found Renee and Andrew in a quarry after removing the topsoil and being hit with the stench of what he believed to be corpses. He hired a bulldozer, but was ordered to stop digging by a senior officer because the vehicle had to go back to the contractors due to lack of money.

Over twenty years later, the quarry was dug up again but there were no sign of any bodies. Had they been removed? We'll never know.

Could the tragic pair be buried beneath this motorway?

The prime suspect

Bill MacDowell, Renee's lover was the main person of interest. At one stage he went into a police station to make a statement, but was dragged out by his wife.

Had he been about to confess? He denied any involvement in Renee and Andrew's murder.

The prevailing theory appears to be that mother and child were killed and buried under the A9 motorway that was being upgraded. If that is this case, maybe one day future roadworks will give all unearth the tragic pair.

Update -




Saturday, 10 June 2017

Vile City gets reviewed by Bibliophile Book Club



Thanks to Ellen for her review of Vile City on the Bibliophile Book Club blog https://bibliophilebookclub.com/2017/06/09/blog-tour-vile-city-by-jennifer-thomsonellens-review/

Here's a wee taster -

"There is a particularly repulsive character in Vile City – no spoilers but they made my skin crawl and got my hackles up.
Females have a lot of strong roles of varying backgrounds and personalities; glamorous receptionist, sophisticated psychotherapist, local newspaper journalist and the latest victim Shelley Craig. It was refreshing to see this in a crime thriller although nothing (and no-one) is straight forward and I wouldn’t have known who to trust."

You'll need to read the book to find out more.

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Book Links -



Monday, 5 June 2017

Vile City in the news

I'm in the Daily Record newspaper talking about Vile City and what inspired me to write the crime thriller.

Id you'd like a wee read, just click on READ IT HERE below the picture to be taken to the piece on the website☺


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Vile City (Detective in a Coma book 1) blog tour

Thanks to for this awesome The Book Review Cafe graphic

Detective Inspector Duncan Waddell and his comatose pal Detective Constable Stevie Campbell, is going on a blog tour.

They'll be extracts from the mystery crime thriller, author interviews and reviews. I'm really looking forward to it.



∞∞∞The stops (and I'll be updating the links as they come)∞∞∞

Day one - The Quiet Knitterer - A review of Vile City. 
Day two - The Book Review Cafe - Read an extract from Vile City.
Day three - Novel Deelights - A review from the awesome Dee. 
Day four - Novel Gossip - Read an extract from Vile City and find out how Shelley Craig is taken. 
Day five - Damppebbles - A Review for Vile City. 
Day six - Ronnie Turner - Read a sample from the novel. 
Day seven - By the Letter Book Reviews - The long road to publication of Vile City. 
Day eight - Keeper of Pages  - A review for Vile City.
Day nine - Bibliophile Book Club - A review from the wonderful Ellen. 
Day ten - My Chestnut Reading Tree 

☺Thanks to all these amazing blogs for featuring Vile City and Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Promotion for all their hard work.
May the sun shine on you all, you lovely people. ☺

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Vile City is available as a paperback and an eBook from -
Amazon Kindle (link takes you to your country's site)



Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Vile City book launch at Waterstones

Setting up
So, how did the book launch for Vile City go, eh?

Quite a few people have asked me that and I've given a few sentences in reply.

Here's how the night went -
A quivering wreck and squinting through one eye because I couldn't see out of it because it was blurred with hayfever, I headed into Waterstones in Glasgow's famous Sauchiehall Street (its a nightmare for non-Scots to say and is pronounced Saw-kie-hall Street).

Before I went there, a few people mentioned this was Scotland's biggest bookstore - no pressure there then.

On the way there, I was contemplating doing a runner because I was so nervous, but my partner John kept reassuring me it would be okay. He had a speech prepared and I wouldn't need to do a thing except for signing books.



Sounded simple enough, but I suffer from agoraphobia (a crippling fear of people and open spaces (see my agoraphobic writer post) my hands were shaking and its hard to write my long name (Jennifer Lee Thomson) in a way that wouldn't ruin anybody's book.

We arrived at the store at 6pm for the 7pm launch, which seemed a bit early but as it turned out, I needed that extra hour.

The events manager Frankie, the most enthusiastic person I've ever met, talked us through what would happen at the event and laid out the cakes we'd brought with mini book covers made out of rice paper by an amazing cake designer.

Frankie talked us through how to use the microphones. Vital if like me you are useless with anything more technologically advanced than a shoebox tied with rope.

John was thankfully going to do all the talking standing at a lectern so in the end my microphone could be switched off.

After Frankie gave me tips on where to sign the book and what to write, it was 7pm and time to roll.

Lynsey Adams from the wonderful There's Been a Murder blog  came early and brought me a lovely, thoughtful gift and so did my brother, Ian. Then a few of John's good friends and my other brother Jamie, so at least my dream of nobody showing up proved unfounded. And everybody seemed to be enjoying the cakes!


Where was everybody? Panic sets in.

But 7pm and ten past 7 came and went and nobody else had arrived. Finally the stragglers, otherwise known as my family arrived fifteen minutes late - they'd got lost).


My partner made his amazing speech and everybody loved it and then it was book signing time, which I thoroughly enjoyed especially when asked questions about writing or my characters.

Would I have a book launch again? Probably, if Waterstones will have me again as they were wonderful to deal with (thanks go to events' manager James and Ben, as well as the amazing Frankie).

Next time (if there is one) I'll know exactly what to except.

For starters, most people who say they'll come won't, especially if Take That are in town and its a sunny day.

Your nearest and dearest will turn up late or not at all, or to a completely different venue (Glasgow has two Waterstones in the city centre alone and they are five minutes away from each other).

Footnote - There was one major downside to having a launch. After picking what I thought was an amazing letter dress to wear and nice boots that I didn't think I'd look terrible in, I later saw the pictures of the night and realised I looked like a walking tent, so it's diet time for me.
All that sitting about writing has given me writer's bottom and middle age spread has added to it.
Wish me luck on my diet. Maybe you'll see the svelte new me at the next book launch?

Saturday, 13 May 2017

5 Lessons I've learnt writing a novel (so you don't have to)



Writing a novel can seem like an arduous task.But there are ways to make it easier, especially with a bit of pre-planning and organisation.

This is what I learnt writing Vile City, the first book in my Detective in a Coma series.

Plan or you'll fail.

1. You need to be able to tell at a glance what's in every chapter. That includes plot and character development.
Unless you're blessed with a photographic memory (if you are, I envy you) there are a few ways to do this. You can have a timeline on paper or a spreadsheet on your computer.
I prefer to have a summary to go with each chapter on a Word document. I constantly update this and when I’m editing I print it out and constantly refer to it.

Get those character details right, or they'll be trouble.

2. If your characters are going to be in a series do a character profile for each character.
This should cover character, background and appearance. I reserve several pages in a notebook I keep for DI Waddell, his coma stricken pal DC Stevie Campbell (who talks to Waddell even although nobody else can hear) & Co for each character in my Detective in a Coma books. I add details as I write each book. I've just finished book three.

You need to have pertinent details of your characters quickly to hand so you can access them without slowing down your writing by having to search through text for that one detail that you need.

How many times have they been married? Do they have kids and if so what are their names? If they were in an accident who'd be their next of kin? What colour is their hair?
You need to know these things so you won't suddenly change your balding, thrice divorced, childless bachelor into someone with enviable hair, two kids and a first wife.


3. Keep a firm grip on the continuity.
You need to be consistent. No changing characters names halfway through your book. Keep an eye on the details - is your character sitting down when they've recently complained of a back injury and said they couldn't sit down?

In one of my earlier versions of Vile City, I had Shelley Craig who gets kidnapped in the book, deliberately leaving behind a necklace with a charm based on a Monopoly playing piece in one of the places she'd been kept. When my main character DI Waddell finds it the charm on the necklace had changed.



4. Save your first draft and subsequent drafts to at least three places (or four or five...).
We've all done it haven't we - toiled over our writing only to forget to save the new changes we've made or lost it all when our computer went nuts/was hit with a virus/decided that it hated us.

There is nothing worse than losing hours, days and even weeks of hard graft and somebody saying: "Hey didn’t you back it up?" when you sit there looking sheepish because you haven't.

That's why it's important to save your work at least once a day to at least three places - I send my work to two different emails, save it to Dropbox and save it on my laptop and tablet. That way if something goes wrong I won't lose work. I also save my WIP to all these places every time I do any revamping or substantial writing. 


5. Always edit on paper.
Trust me on this, when you read on a laptop or tablet screen you miss mistakes and because it's your writing your brain can trick you into thinking you've written something different to what you have.


For example - I once wrote that a character was wearing a violent jumpsuit rather than a violet one. Major difference. Don’t let your jumpsuit get violent:)


About the author
Jennifer's first novel, Vile City, which ironically will be published a few years after the second and third ones she wrote were is out on May 11th and will be launched at Waterstones in Glasgow’s busy Sauchiehall Street the same day starting at 7pm. 

Vile City is published by Caffeine Nights and available for pre-order now https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vile-City-Jennifer-Lee-Thomson/dp/1910720739 

You can meet her on Twitter @jenthom72 or on Facebook


She also writes fiction as Jenny Thomson. 


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Yipee! Vile City is published today



Happy dance time

Vile City was published today and soon I'll be leaving for my book launch at Waterstones. Its on the 2nd floor of the Sauchiehall Street branch, kicking off at 7pm if you fancy stopping by. There will be cake.

Although there's happiness in my heart that at long last the novel that won the Scottish Association of Writers' Pitlochry Quaich for a first crime novel in 2011 is being published, there's fear too. The kind of fear that gnaws at your heart like you're being eaten from the inside.

Doubt is every writer's worst enemy.


It's nail biting time


Will anybody want to read your book? Will the reviews be scathing like knives through your heart?

Whatever the reception you get, being a writer means putting yourself out there. You have to expect and accept that people won't like your writing. But that doesn't make it any easier.


Even Benjy looks worried

But there is joy too in seeing your book on sale. Of knowing that your hard work has paid off.

In the case of Vile City (Detective in a Coma Book 1), I've been working on it trying to get it published for 6 years. In that time, it's gone through so many different versions.

Why Detective in a Coma? 

DC Stevie Campbell, the detective of the title who's in the coma, came to life after he started speaking to me. Initially he was a bit character, but he became much more. So, I thought wouldn't it be interesting to see what would happen if this friend who is meant to be in a coma started to talk to my main character DI Duncan Waddell? That would make anybody question their sanity, wouldn't it?

Vile City tells two parallel stories -
Shelley Craig who's been taken and who will do anything to make it home and DI Duncan Waddell's attempts to find her.

Shelley is an amalgamation of every strong woman I know. She's not a victim. No, she's a survivor.




Anyway, I better go now. Some cakes with book cover toppers and my book launch are waiting. Maybe I will see you there.

Wish me well.

Useful info 
You can read the start of Vile City for free here

Vile City is available in paperback and in eBook -
Amazon UK
Amazon.com 
Amazon.ca   










Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Little Boy Lost - Scotland's Missing Persons Files - Sandy Davidson 


The 3-year-old has been missing for 10 years

There's so much talk about missing Madeline McCann who was 3-years-old when her parents inexplicably left her and her and her and 2-year-old twin siblings in a hotel room in Portugal to go to a tapas bar with friends.

The little girl's disappearance remains unsolved 10 years on. But although it may be one of the most reported missing person cases of all time, it's by far not one of the longest unsolved disappearances of a child from the UK.


Sandy Davidson went missing 41 years ago


Visit the Police Scotland site and there's a grainy black and white image of a wee boy that's almost too difficult to make out because it's so old.

Sandy Davidson has been missing since April 23rd, 1976. He was last seen when he was just 3-years-old.

Sandy was playing in the garden of his grandmother's home in Irvine with his little sister Donna who was 2 and the family dog. It's believed that the dog ran away and Sandy chased after the pooch. The little boy hasn't been seen since.

Despite a thorough search by police and members of the public, they found no trace of the wee boy.

But the authorities have never stopped searching for Sandy and nor has his little sister who was with him that day. Police even released a photo of how Sandy would look today.


How Sandy would look now



So, what could have happened to the little boy lost? 

Theories abound. Could he have been taken by a stranger, a neighbour even? Sandy's parents believe a lonely man who wanted a son took theirs. A man was seen near where Sandy was delivering leaflets.

Work on the new building estate nearby was halted to search for Sandy. Could he have had an accident and ended up being buried in the cement? A new primary school was also being constructed. The school was demolished in 2004, but reports claim authorities refused to search for the missing child's body in the rubble.

Or, could he have drowned in a river close to his grandparents' home whilst he was chasing his pet dog? If he did, why has his body never been found?


New development

Two years ago, a man claimed he was abducted and violently abused by a teenage girl from the same area around the same time Sandy disappeared. See story here

Sandy would be 44 today. He could have had a family. Been a father. A grandfather by now.

But, Sandy Davidson is a wee boy frozen in time. A child who will never age. It seems almost certain that he met with a sad end. Whether it was an accident or someone caused that premature end to a lovely child's life we may never know.


Do you now what happened to the 3-year-old?

Anyone with information can contact Police Scotland on 101. They have the case listed on their website

The family also set up a Facebook page to try and find out what happened to Sandy.




Saturday, 29 April 2017

13 Reasons Why 13 Reasons Why doesn't glamorise suicide

***Be warned, this article contains spoilers.***



Like so many people I've been engrossed in the show about a teenage girl called Hannah Baker who takes her own life and leaves 13 cassette tapes behind explaining why.

In some way it seems like the tapes are there to get revenge on everybody who's wronged Hannah and driven her to commit suicide.

There's also been accusations that it glamorises suicide. That is one accusation that I don't agree with.

Here's 13 reasons why 13 Reasons Why doesn't glamorise suicide in my opinion -


The loss of a young life isn't glamorous.

1- There's nothing glamorous about a bright, intelligent girl like Hannah with her whole future ahead of her killing herself because she can't take life any more.

2- The life of the teens depicted on 13 Reasons Why is terrible. The pressures on the students is immense and instead of supporting each other most of them tear each other apart. Bullying is seen as normal.

3- Anything you do or say can be twisted and around the school in seconds thanks to mobile phones and the Internet. Hannah has her first kiss, next she knows the seemingly nice guy turns out to be a jerk who claims she did more than just kiss him.


The obnoxious Bryce.

4- There's nothing glamorous about a girl being raped by her boyfriend's best friend whilst she's incapacitated by alcohol as her boyfriend who should be protecting her walks away. At a time when there's research showing that many young people have a difficult time knowing when rape is rape it highlights something very important.

5- The girls in the show can be real mean girls. One minute they're helping you get home safely, the next they're driving away from an accident that takes out a stop sign and very soon after causes an accident where someone dies.

6- It shows the effects of suicide on the ones left behind.
Watching the heartbreak Hannah's parents go through, especially her mother is gut wrenching. With Clay who loved Hannah, there's also a sense of great loss and of what might have been for him and Hannah.

7- The immaturity of the boys compared to the girls is frequently highlighted throughout the show. They rarely take responsibility for any of their actions or feel any guilt. There's always a sense that if you're good at sport and popular at school you can do whatever the hell you want to.

8- Girls face unbelievable pressure. Either they're frigid or easy. There seems to be no middle ground. And it's not just guys who are judging and rating them, it's the girls who should know better. So much for the sisterhood.

9- The students seem to live in a parallel universe to the teachers and parents and have no support system. They don't let their parents into their lives. Instead they bury all of their pain with drugs and alcohol and by being mean to their peers and oblivious to their pain.

10-  Teachers do try to help, but not near enough and they seem oblivious to what's going on right under their noses. The bullying, the peer pressure, the drugs and alcohol.


Even the seemingly nice guys screw Hannah over.

11- It shows the characters as they really are warts and all i.e not in the least bit glamorous or people we would want to be. Even the wonderful Clay, our main character isn't perfect. Throughout 13 Reasons Why there's a strong sense that if only he'd told Hannah how he felt she would still be alive.

12- We wouldn't want to be anyone in the show. They may be young but none of them seem particularly happy. Hannah killed herself, but it could have just as easily have been anyone else in the show.

13- You spend the whole time watching the show with a sense of deep sadness, a feeling that you want to grab all of the young cast by the scruff of the neck and tell them school doesn't last forever. You have the rest of your life.

Conclusion - Whatever anyone thinks, it has to be a good thing that teenage suicide is at least being discussed. Too many young people are taking their own lives. It's something we need to talk about and if shows like 13 Reasons Why make that happen it has got to be a good thing.

On a personal note, as someone who was bullied mercilessly at school and the place where I lived and who contemplated suicide, I found the show cathartic and grittily realistic.