Deep State’s official birthday!

Deep State (Large)

Today is the official release date of Deep State (Acer Sansom#4). Anyone who pre-ordered this title should now find it on their Kindle. Thank you for your support of my writing.

For a couple of weeks now pre-official-release copies of the book have been with readers who voted for it in Amazon’s Kindle Scout programme. Long enough for some feedback to be posted on Amazon. I’ve been genuinely thrilled with the response so far. My particular appreciation to all those involved.

Dirty Business (Acer Sansom#1) was the first book what I ever wrote. I vividly remember bashing away at the school computer in the staffroom of my first Istanbul school during free periods. I would never have believed back then that I would be putting out my fourteenth book and the fourth (and possibly final installment) in Acer’s journey.

When I released R&M#7 I said it could be the last one. Similarly, Deep State could well be the last Acer. As with R&M I haven’t decided whether I want to write another and even if I do it won’t be for a good while. As I said regarding R&M, I have other projects that I want to try in other genres.

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this series of books. I like Acer. He’s not a cold-hearted killer. He is flawed. He makes mistakes. He has been naive and suffered for it. A reader once commented that Acer is a ‘poor man’s Jack Reacher’. If I had responded I would have told that particular reader that he just didn’t ‘get’ Acer. I ‘get’ Acer. I’m happy to say that lots of readers seem to ‘get’ Acer.

One of my greatest fears as a writer is that one day I might turn out a stinker in an otherwise generally well received series. That would bother me greatly. Quit while you’re ahead, my dad would sometimes say. I feel that I’m ‘ahead’ with both Acer and R&M. It’s a good feeling.


In praise of ‘The Friends’.

As many of you will know, I’m on a bit of an enforced break from the writing at present. I’m currently up to my chin in DIY with a ticking clock against me. But sometimes I need a break from my break.

I was born in New Romney, a little town just down the road from where I live now in Dymchurch. In New Romney stands St Nicholas church. It is an impressive medieval building. One of several old churches of The Marsh that are all worthy of a visit.

romney church

Like most old churches the ravages of time and weather have taken their toll. St Nicholas church is very fortunate to have a group of concerned local residents, the ‘Friends of St Nicholas Church, New Romney’, who contribute a great deal of time and effort towards fund-raising and general support of the church with the sole aim of helping to preserve, maintain and improve the building for future generations to enjoy.(Maybe one or two are also looking to jump the queue at St Peter’s gate when the time comes.)

One regular function is a monthly booksale in the church. It is held on a Saturday. Donated books are sold on tables along the central aisle. There is a hot drinks table and a cakes table. There are tables and chairs for visitors to sit at and enjoy their refreshments and their book purchases. These days there is also live music provided by local musicians that can vary from classical to folky tunes. All this in stunning historic surroundings with the morning sun streaming through the reticulated stained-glass window that dominates the altar wall. Truly civilised. If it were not for the unselfish giving of people like the ‘friends’, something that I’m sure is replicated all over the country, then people like me wouldn’t be able to experience such splendid mornings. Thank you one and all.

Today is Saturday. I went to the book sale at St Nicholas church. I also went to support my mum. My mum is the sort of practising atheist who makes Christopher Hitchens (RIP) seem… unsure of himself. It is a great irony lost on none of us that mum, the raging atheist, does charity work for a church. To be fair to her, she does it for one reason only – the grand old building. Serving on the hot drinks stall also provides her with many an opportunity to be rude to people. Something she clearly enjoys. Love her.21052016913



This is the kind of event I miss when I’m in Turkey. It is such a quintessentially English affair, very atmospheric and evocative. Whenever I attend, I always feel like I’ve walked into an Agatha Christie novel. I spend most of my time looking around waiting for the first murder to occur: death by razor blade in the walnut cake, strychnine in the lemonade, perhaps a bit of ‘loose’ masonary falling from the belfry to smash someone’s skull to a pulp.

While the coffee and homemade cakes are greedily consumed by the faithful – and why not, they are exceedingly good – I first make for the tables of books to play elbows and shoulders with others like me. Modern first editions are my thing. Hardbacks with dust jackets in very good condition or better. Books are 50p each. I don’t want most of what I bought today. (I’ll never read a biography of Osbert Sitwell. I don’t even know who he is!) but when I see a fantastic hardback book in pristine condition for 50p I can’t help myself. I see myself as a ‘book rescuer’. I had a great haul today.  One of these is gem of a find for a collector like me. Can you guess which one and why. (Answer at the bottom of the post.)



Deep State (Large)As many of you will know, Acer Sansom #4 Deep State went live for pre-order this week. Anyone who nominated the book in the Kindle Scout programme should have received an advance complementary copy in thanks from Amazon and me. It’s already had four reviews posted and they are very positive. Naturally, I’m thrilled (relieved).

Deep State can be pre-ordered here: Amazon UK and here: Amazon US  Release date 31st May.


I have been managing to do some homework this week for my chosen ‘literary’ career. I’ve written before about my desire to have a go at recording audio versions of some of my books. I’m still dead keen.

Now that the skim of plaster is dry, I’ve spent most of this week sandpapering woodwork, undercoating and glossing, emulsioning ceilings and cutting in on walls in preparation for a couple of days on the roller.





Decorating is not my idea of fun. I find it tedious in the extreme. But it is a quiet job. I found an old cassette player/radio at home and stocked up on audio books from the charity shop across the road from me. I’ve been listening and learning and enjoying being read to. I still think I can have a bash when I have the time.


Answer to my question: Our Game by John Le Carre. Le Carre did not care for the dust jacket of the first impression of the first edition.

our game1

1st impression. It is a bit crap.

Consequently, only about 1000 were printed and most of these were dumped at airport bookstores by the publisher in the hope that they would be bought and flown far away never to return to the UK. Future print runs had a different jacket and the publishing number string on the copyright page indicates later impressions.


2nd impression. And this isn’t crap, too?

The original books are quite sought after by Le Carre fans, of which I am one. That’s how I knew. It was a rare moment when I spotted it. The sort to have the blood racing and the palms moistening. I’ve put it in a box.

PPS The cake of my day could have been well and truly iced if the Robert Galbraith novel, aka JK Rowling, had been a first impression. Alas it is not, but still a very nice, tight copy of an early reprint to go with the others I have of hers until I do unearth that elusive first impression, perhaps at a St Nicholas booksale. Amen.


Deep State news.

Deep State (Large)

Deep State (Acer Sansom#4) is now available for pre-order. If, like me, you nominated the book for the Kindle Scout programme you should already have had notification from Amazon that your free copy is ready to download. For everyone else, please see the links below. Once again, thanks sincerely to all those who took the time and trouble to nominate the book.

It’s my understanding that readers who get an early copy are able to leave feedback on Amazon before the book goes ‘live’.

It’s been a long time from finishing this one to it becoming available for reading. Here’s hoping that the wait has been worth it.

Deep State Amazon UK   Deep State Amazon US

PS I didn’t get to set the price on this one. That was Amazon’s call.




One month gone.

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The church at St Mary in the Marsh

I missed my blog post entry last week. In truth there wasn’t anything of note to record in my Diary of a CWAP. I did some more DIY. And then some more. And then some more.

My big sister came for a visit at the weekend. The weather was fabulous. On Sunday my big sis, my little sis and I dug out the push-bikes and went for a cycle ride across Romney Marsh. It was wonderful out there. The Marsh was beautiful, fragrant and alive with the sounds of spring: lambs, frogs and birdsong. Perfect.

We stopped at the church of St Mary in the Marsh and paid our respects at the grave of E. Nesbit. She of The Railway Children fame and a certain Booker & Cash short story. I said to my sisters, ‘So, have you read my Booker & Cash short story in Three Short Blasts?’ They looked at each other and then at me. There ensued a deafening silence as the lambs, the frogs and the birds held their collective breath. I rode the next three miles some hundred yards out in front, sulking. Their loss.

Still waiting for Amazon to release Deep State Acer#4 into the wild. They are taking their time. And they don’t say much. In fact they remind me of an ex: hard to get hold of and when you do, you wonder why you bothered.

I have been working on a writing project at night and for an hour before work in the mornings. And this weekend I’ve been able to have a concentrated bash at it because the plasterer is in upstairs and I’m keeping out of his way. It’s nice to get back to the desk and my laptop.

I’ve been back in the UK for a month already. How time really does fly. Overall, I’m enjoying the change in my circumstances. It’s nice to have a bit of variety in life. I just wish my little boy wasn’t so far away for so long.

The renovation project has turned the corner and things are starting to come together. Another month should see things finished. I hope so because my wife called to let me know she’s changed her tickets and they’re coming earlier than expected.

Milestones and millstones.


Rope Enough Final JPEG 1205Yesterday, Rope Enough (The First Romney and Marsh File) received its 1000th comment on Amazon UK. That feels like a milestone. I honestly have no idea how many times the book has been downloaded, but it does run into tens of thousands. That’s because it’s always been free to download as my try-before-you-buy initiative. In that regard, I suppose, it’s been quite successful. However, the really important statistic linked to this milestone, for me, is what the starred feedback rating average amounts to. Rope Enough is currently enjoying a 4.4* out of a possible 5* average. And that is a wonderful feeling of validation for my writing. That is something for me to celebrate.


Deep State (Large)A couple of weeks ago I received the line-edited copy of Deep State – Acer #4 – back from Amazon. Because of other commitments, I’ve not been able to have a sustained run at it, so, an hour in the morning before work and sometimes an hour before bed. It’s taken me a long time to get through it. Much longer, I suspect, than many of the other books adopted by the Kindle Scout programme, which are overwhelmingly American in pedigree and style. This is because I write British English and the Kindle Scout editors are ‘correcting’ the manuscripts for the US market.

The manuscript is returned to the author with all the suggested changes made and detailed in the mark-up pane of an MS Word document. If one is pitching one’s work at an American market it’s easier to read through and adopt, or not, the points made. What I had to do was to open my original MS Word document alongside the ‘corrected’ version, search for the suggestions and then incorporate them, or not, into my original document. Continually switching between documents like that is a very time consuming and laborious process. But it felt like my best option.

I had to do it this way because of the huge number of changes that had been suggested with regard to the differences between British and American presentation and language. A good example of this is that American prose makes use of double speech marks as the norm. While UK formatting uses single speech marks.

US: Acer said, “These shoes are killing me.”

UK: Acer said, ‘These shoes are killing me.’

See what I mean? And there are so many spelling differences between the two languages – words and letter combinations that crop up regularly.

I had a choice to make: (a) accept the edited manuscript with the double speech marks and other differences of formatting (I just couldn’t because as established last blog-post, Acer and I are British writing for, predominantly, the British English market), (b) accepting the revised version and going through it to change all the formatting and spelling back to British English (I’d rather kill myself) or (c) do what I did – read them alongside each other and make changes to the original, if I agreed with the editor’s comments.

My decisions have also been informed by the not inconsiderable matter of series consistency. To have accepted half of the suggested changes would have made Acer #4 incompatible on various levels with Acers #1, #2 and #3. Not good for anyone reading them in order and not good for anyone who reads #4 and decides to try one of the others.

I hope no one thinks that I’m complaining. I am not. However, I do think that this is something that Amazon need to consider when they select books for publication. Perhaps British editors editing for the British English market would be a step in the right direction.

On the plus side, it soon became apparent that the editor really understood the book and the characters. He made remarks that I had to think hard about. For the record, I found him very professional, insightful and thorough. It’s just that he had a job to do on my book and his employer’s expectations and mine were different for the finished product. I even sensed in a couple of places that he seemed reluctant/sympathetic with some of his suggestions. Maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part.

I’d like to share a couple of cherry-picked comments from the editorial feedback letter: Overall, the manuscript has a fast pace and some excellent plot twists and well-developed characters… The flow of the plot is great and imaginative… The plot is very strong with some nice surprises… Of course, all of those sentences continue with a ‘however’ or a ‘but’ or an ‘although’ but I’m feeling positive today.

Anyway, all done now. Of course, once all the changes were made I had to then read the book again to make sure I hadn’t buggered anything up while I was toying with it. (That was a day of DIY lost.)

The good news is that Deep State – Acer Sansom#4 is about the best it can be. And I think it’s not a bad read. It’s gone back to Amazon now. Pinged off this morning. I’m waiting to hear from them regarding release date. All those who nominated the book in Amazon’s Kindle Scout campaign will get a free e-copy in advance of publication day. Lucky you. And me because I voted for my own book. (There was nothing in the rules to say I couldn’t.)

For those who didn’t get to see the opening sample of the book that was available for reading during the Kindle Scout campaign, here is the first word of the first paragraph of the first chapter as a teaser: ‘The…’

I’m sure you’ll agree from that, it’s gripping stuff.


And now for an update on the millstone. Because it’s my writer’s diary and I should include things that stop me writing as well as everything else.

This week I ran a ring main round for the sockets and a circuit for the lights; disconnected and took out the gas boiler and the gas fire; built the frame for a cupboard in the bathroom; removed some blown plaster from downstairs; did some gardening; cleared out some rubbish and now I’m working on removing all the woodchip wallpaper in preparation for my plastering friend skimming the walls.

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On the brightside, literally, the weather seems to be changing for the better. I’ve even started enjoying the odd drink in the garden. Talking of which, my coffee cup beckons…

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