December 5th. 2021

                                                                        SIXES & SEVENS

Looking back on my last blog post, I can see that the smooth operation I subliminally call ‘a plan’ is nothing more really than me being all over the place. There must be a name for it; ‘confused’ probably. I’ve made no more progress on my Marcus Blake thriller other than a token attempt at adding a page or two. Same with my Clavinova practice; I am still playing the same three tunes and calling it progress. I do finger drills as well, but you can hardly call yourself a pianist by playing a kiddies’ exercise. But I digress, so I’ll move on to something more informative.


Remember me talking about Past Imperfect? Something like 3.7 million at the bottom of Amazon’s book pile? Well, it turns out my American publisher has sold 23 copies in about four or five weeks. And believe it or not: I may even get to meet her next year, but more about that later.


My attempts to cash in on the James Bond title with my book, No Time to Die, looked like a failure. But once the Amazon ads came to an end, I sold twelve copies in a month, and five of those were paperbacks. I’ve started again with the ads: both here and in the USA. I’ll need to keep an eye on them; if they are not performing, I’ll have to tweak them.


I discovered a new outlet for my books too: at a local bookshop in Bognor Regis. It was all because one of my writer colleagues, Helen Christmas, posted about the Heygate Bookshop now promoting local authors. I popped in a few days after that and spoke with the owner, Jason, who agreed to put two of my titles, Past Imperfect and No Time to Die, on the local author table in the front of his new shop (he moved from the old outlet he had).


Now back to that business of maybe me meeting my American publisher: I have registered my name with a Company that organise Writers’ events in Ireland. It is for a seven day break in Galway in June next year. The Editor-in-Chief of the Wild Rose Press, (and also co-owner) Rhonda Penders, will be presenting at the event along with their Social Media & Marketing Expert. Samantha Keating. I can’t start making any real plans yet despite being accepted for that particular event because of the uncertainty over air travel, covid restrictions etc. But once everything has been finalised (there are only twelve places by the way), I will be invoiced for the tour (yes, it isn’t just the book world, but tours as well). One downside though is that Mark Dawson has announced that the Self- Publishing Show for next year will be held in London in, yes — June, in the middle of my holiday. Can’t have it all, can we?


I’m planning to join a book promotion with another crime writer, David de Lee, later this month. I’ve done this a couple of times with him, but not for the last couple of years. I can only hope it goes well. Which reminds me: I won £50 on with the Premium Bonds last week. I don’t win much, probably once every two or three months, but it means I earn more with my bonds that I do with my books. C’est la vie!


That’s it then. I do hope you all have a really lovely Christmas with no restrictions, plenty of laughs and lots to look forward to. Stay safe!

November 7th. 2021


Coping and Hoping


Looking through my previous blog post, I could see a sense of wanting to do more and get involved. Well, Robbie Burns had it right with his immortal words about the best laid plans of mice and men going “oft aglay”. I started with the best of intentions by beginning the Amazon Ads course again, changed my writing schedule to earlier in the day by making the most of a fresh mind, and left the domestic chores to the afternoon. It looked like it was working, but then I went down with a chest infection which needed antibiotics. The whole thing floored me and even two weeks after completing the course, I still haven’t got back to normal. So my plans went out of the window. I’m clawing my way back though, and to that end I decided to re-edit my pulp fiction thriller, Hunted, and offer it free to my email subscribers, plus anyone who comes across the link while it’s available. This is the link: I have also made some progress on my current project; the fourth in my Marcus Blake series. This one will be set in Wyoming and will be a step up for Marcus in that he will have more of a Jack Reacher type role in this but will not be a Jack Reacher clone. There will be Indians.


Before going down with this infection, I felt my plan to open up was going well. I’d restarted my church House Group and was attending the Sunday services (albeit with a mask), visited both my granddaughters and managed a trip up to the Greenwich Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark with my No.2 son, Terry and my grandson, Freddie. I’d even managed more Clavinova time. I’m also lined up for a couple of social events with my next door neighbour this month. Oh, and my plan to capitalise on the James Bond film release worked because I sold a dozen of my books of the same name during last month. Cost me a lot on Amazon Ads, but at least it put a smile on my face.


My idea last month to consider the Na-No-Wro-Mo writing exercise in November was a non-starter. It appealed to me briefly, but, the chest infection notwithstanding, I would never have been able to complete the task. And I don’t think there would be a pay-off either. The indie book world is now an overstuffed juggernaut that swallows self-published books, making them disappear for ever unless the writer wants to spend a lot of money advertising and hoping the potential readers take notice. I think the majority of us are probably better served by concentrating on a local market and hoping to expand from there. You may recall me writing about my romantic family saga, Past Imperfect, published last month in America? I looked at the ratings today. It is 3.7 million in the best seller ranks, and around 100,000 in the Romance genre. My publisher will not spend money promoting it; that’s down to me, but in the American market? No, not a cat in hell’s chance. Not to worry though; I will do some advertising, but I need to revisit the Amazon Ads course and think about where best to spend my money. Incidentally, I see that Robert Galbraith’s book (AKA J.K.Rowling), Troubled Blood, has a print length of 945 pages. Phew! Makes you think, eh? I don’t think my box set runs into that length. Perhaps I should stretch my latest Marcus Blake thriller into a 1000 pages. At my age I don’t think I would finish it!


So there you have it: a very brief synopsis of my life over the last four or five weeks. I could have mentioned walking my little dog, cutting down the lavender bush along the front border; washing, ironing, sneezing, coughing, and goodness knows what, but that would mirror most of your lives too. Oh, and something else I’ve learned too: Slan agus beannacht: (be safe & blessed).


Till next time.


Living in Hope

October 4th. 2021


Well, I made the bold statement on my last blog post that I wanted to get back in the game, which meant the beginning of research, promotion, marketing and living in hope. I promoted my Marcus Blake mystery thriller, No Time to Die, and have achieved the magnificent result of two sales this month. I had to pause my ad on BookBub because I managed to spend $47 without even a sniff. Amazon, who simply refuse to take your money, has cost me about $12. Not exactly pulling up any trees, am I? But I can at least say one thing: the title of my book has been on everyone’s lips this last week. All I need people to do is to think “Book” instead of “Film”.


I started fleshing out a Marcus Blake thriller. This will be No. 4 in the ‘series’. This one is set in Wyoming. Why Wyoming, you ask? I thought I might just as well jump on the bandwagon and write a ‘Jack Reacher’ type novel. Heaven knows my other books aren’t attracting any attention. My highest ranked book is at about 1.2 million on Amazon, while my lowest is at about 2.3 million. I have to say that being out of the game for well over a year is probably the reason I’ve sunk so low. So if I am to admit I have no scruples: Jack Reacher it will be. I have the makings of a plot, which my sister-in-law Carol, thought was “brilliant” when I explained it all to her while we were on holiday. All I have to do is get to work. I did have a look at my Pulp fiction sequel to Hunted (17000 words already written), but in the end,  Marcus Blake triumphed.


I went on a five day coach trip last week to Yorkshire. Went with my late wife’s brother, David, and his wife, Carol. It was a bit of a disaster. Never made it to York, which was the whole point of the trip. Our ‘optional’ York visit was cancelled because not enough people wanted to go, and that meant the coach driver wasn’t allowed to take those of us who did want to go. I won’t go into detail about the holiday itself because I don’t want to depress you all.


On a brighter note, my sister-in-law introduced me to the joys of Spotify, and I am now building up a couple of playlists. I also purchased a Bose Bluetooth speaker so I can listen to my music or the radio wherever I am around the house. Talk about modern man: hey, I’m almost there!


As my life settles down to a sense of normality again, I hope to make positive inroads into writing and finishing that Marcus Blake thriller. My research into Wyoming has already uncovered some interesting and useable facts, but I still have a long way to go. Hopefully I’ll be able to report some progress on my next blog in about four weeks’ time.


Wish me luck!

                                                                                        January 1st. 2022

                                                                      Looking Both Ways


First of all I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. I’m sure we all wish for a better twelve months than we’ve experienced over the previous batch. For me, mine has been about rebuilding. I’ve had good moments and not so good moments. I’ve had one of my titles published by Wild Rose Press in America, so now I can say I have an American publisher (whoo-hoo!). I signed up for a writers’ retreat holiday in Ireland this coming June, and although I have registered for the holiday and been accepted, nothing has been confirmed with regard to payment and travel details. So as a kind of ‘insurance’ against losing out on that (I don’t expect to by the way), I have registered my interest in the Self-Publishing Show in London which will be during the week I’m hoping to be in Ireland.


Since my last blog post I have ventured back into advertising again, but with little success. I’m not too fazed by this; it is kind of ‘par for the course’ for me. I have also been researching a novel which will be fourth in the Marcus Blake series. My efforts there have been sporadic too, but I have learned certain things I never knew. For instance, I thought a Grand Jury was permanent in the States and covered the whole country, but not so; a State Grand Jury has to be raised each time there is a question about bringing someone to trial. State Grand Juries are not trial juries (this is where I could do with some help from John Grisham). I have also followed the drugs trail from Colombia to Canada, paying attention to the various ‘mules’ used along the way and seen how each mile increases the value of the drugs and the cost to the end-user. I have watched videos, been to the local library and used Google extensively. I have hatched out a steady plotline (up to a point) and have been told my story sounds very exciting and I should get it done ASAP. But that’s not me, is it? Mr. Prevarification, that should be my by-line. I do have some worthwhile excuses though, like most of us in the build up towards Christmas.


I went to see my Great Grandon, Orin (he’s four) in his school nativity play. Me and his Mum (my granddaughter, Gemma) could only see the top of his head because he had been put behind the bigger kids. Gemma watched from a standing position like some of the other parents. It was great fun though. It’s always good to see the toddlers trying to perform, even though some of them insist on waving to their mums and dads. I’ve put decorations up and taken decorations down. I’ve had a new TV installed and spent ages learning how to operate it and the new remote control. I also enjoyed our last Church House Group which was a Christmas affair and went well. I was also persuaded to take my neighbour and her friend to the Fish & Chip Bingo night (Christmas edition!). I don’t like bingo but agreed. I won’t be doing it again though.


The residents of the Park Home Estate on which I live have formed a Facebook Group: ideal for advising people of developments, events, problems etc. I offered to help anyone who had dreams of writing a book but didn’t know where or how to start or were maybe too embarrassed to admit they had such pretensions. I said I would do this for free, and would probably need a couple of sessions, an hour or so maybe, to get them on their way. I had one response, and that was from a lady who was asking on behalf of her husband. She wasn’t sure she could persuade him even though he wrote short stories but had nothing published. I suggested the three of us meet for a coffee, have a chat, and see what develops. She thought that was a good idea. I’ve heard nothing since. Bit like my promotional work.


Oh, I received three books for Christmas: Captain Tom’s Life lessons; The Glamour Boys by Chris Bryant, and The Pathfinders by Will Tredale. I might have finished Captain Tom’s book when I come to write my next blog post.


So, that’s it for another month. I do hope that whatever you do, whatever you plan and whatever you hope for, your wishes will all come true. Good luck for 2022.