Romney Marsh Psycho.


Coming soon – a writer’s room with a view – not a garden shed.

I need to start this blog post by volunteering that I’m currently reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.

I’m sitting in an upstairs room doing one of the things I do best in life – staring out of the window. I’m awaiting a delivery of building materials for the garden shed I’m going to be constructing over the next couple of weeks. (For tax purposes the ‘garden shed’ will hereinafter be referred to as my writer’s retreat.)

‘Why don’t you just buy one?’ said mum, with that way she has of making everything I announce I’m going to do sound dumb and pointless.’Why give yourself all that extra work and bother when you’ve got enough to be getting on with? My gutters still need clearing out, you know? And there’s all that bird crap over the conservatory roof that someone needs to get up there and clean off. And did I say the handle broke on my cistern, again?’

(Through gritted teeth.) ‘Because, mother, I’m a man with a hammer. Real men like hammering things. Anything. It’s a primitive urge. We like to bash and make a noise and construct and destruct and sometimes, just sometimes, we like to fantasise that the piece of two by four we are smashing six inch nails into is the brittle skull of an elderly relative who is sitting on the kind of inheritance that could make life a good deal more comfortable for a struggling CWAP son.’

Did I mention I’m reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis at the moment?

I’m getting a little anxious. I told them; I said if you don’t deliver early in the day the public car park that he’s going to have to drive his great big lorry through to get to my back passage (?) is going to be crammed with day-trippers’ vehicles. It’s nearly one o’clock and the car park is crammed with day-trippers’ vehicles. I can’t wait to tell them I told you so. Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to steer a medium-sized pram through the idiotically parked motors. What were they thinking? God knows how anyone is going to get a ten tonne lorry down there. Not my problem.

While I’m waiting, I thought I could use the time to begin a blog post. It’s been a little while. But when you’ve got nothing to say it’s often better to say nothing, as granny Tidy used to say. (Usually when I started talking.)

As followers of this blog will know, I’m on an enforced break from writing at the moment. Owing to ever-changing personal circumstances, that doesn’t look like ending anytime soon. Can’t be helped. I’m not crying about it. Lots of other things to be getting on with here and life is often about making pragmatic decisions for the greater good. Prioritising.

While I might not be writing much (I have penned a couple of short stories) I’ve been reading regularly, something that I understand is universally considered to be useful to an author. I may have mentioned that I’m currently reading and thoroughly enjoying American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. It’s bloody and bloody good, actually. I just looked up how old he was when he wrote it – there must be something wrong with my maths because I make him 27. Sad face.

Anyway, on the bright side I think I finally know what I want to write. By that I mean the kind of book I want to write. Really want to write. My literary goal. My holy grail of CWAPmanship. I just don’t know how to write it or what to write about, yet. That makes things… difficult.

I want to write one of those books that gets banned, that gets people up on their back legs because it is considered, in some circles, to be too offensive, too disturbing to be published. The kind of book that has a cult following of supporters that include a number of respected literary critics. Aim high granny Tidy said, especially when she was talking to me. (I was a bit short as a child.) I’m thinking along the lines of Fight Club, A Clockwork Orange, American Psycho. (I haven’t actually been able to get past the first few pages of A Clockwork Orange, but I enjoyed Fight Club and, did I mention, I’m reading American Psycho.) Original is the word I think I’m looking for. Yes, that’s what I aspire to write one day – something original and good and disturbing.

In other news – two Sundays ago I ran in my first, and possibly last, competitive running race as an adult. It only took me a week to get over it physically. I’m still not fully recovered mentally after my bitter lesson in racing etiquette.

If I said, what’s the difference between ‘gun time’ and ‘chip time’ would you know what I was referring to? Neither did I when I got under starter’s orders.

I took part in the Romney Marsh 10k run. And I learned something about running races which I wished someone had told me before I took up my start position at the back of the grid. Yes, the back of the grid. I thought that because I was an absolute novice it would be wise for me to start right at the back of the nearly two hundred strong field. Right at the back. By choice. The last person in fact.

I took part in this race for two reasons. Firstly, because after being a regular runner for quite a while I was really curious to see what kind of time I could manage and how I’d compare with everyone else. Secondly, because I have an idea for a Booker & Cash that involves a running event, so my participation also comes under the heading of research. (And for tax purposes so does my entry fee. Where the hell did I put my receipt?)

Regarding the timing of my personal performance: I had no qualms about starting at the back because all runners were equipped with a chip tied around the laces of one running shoe so that when they crossed the start line the machine beeped and the runner’s ‘chip time’ began. Likewise when the runner crossed the finish line the machine beeped and the ‘chip time’ is stopped. Simple. What I didn’t know was that while the ‘chip time’ might be a personal record for a contestant the only time that matters for the organisers is the ‘gun time’. In other words, when the race starts the race clock starts ticking for everyone, regardless of whether one gets a flyer from the front or one is stuck behind all the ‘runners’ in ridiculous over-sized, over-stuffed novelty outfits, cluttering up the road, people who insist on dawdling along and waving at everyone cheering them on. To be honest, I couldn’t give a flying f**k what f**king charity you’re running for ‘Mr F**king Blobby’ just get out the f**k out of my way.

If only I’d thought to run in a Bob the Builder costume. I’d have had a bona fide excuse to carry a hammer – or two. Maybe a nail gun. I could have got through all the dithering, meandering, shuffling old people and ‘fun runners’ a lot quicker if I’d been slashing left and right with my trusty ball pein and claw hammers. (Did I mention that I’m reading American Psycho? It’s really getting to me.)

The upshot of it all was that it took me twenty-nine seconds to get from the back of the pack to the start line after the race had officially started. Let me say that again: it took almost half-a-flipping minute after the the starter had fired his gun (air horn) for me to actually start the race, by which time all the serious runners had disappeared over the horizon and I was left punching and kicking my way through riduculously unstable cartoon characters shaking empty buckets for change at confused looking specatators. Gun time/chip time. Lesson learned. It was very frustrating and really not the best way to settle my race nerves. I never really found my stride after that.

Of course, the sixty-four-thousand dollar question is, would twenty-nine seconds really have made that much difference? Seeing as I finished last anyway – three minutes eleven seconds behind Mickey and Minnie Mouse running chained together at the ankles  – probably not. I did think it was a tad rude of the organisers to have packed everything up, including the finishing line, before everyone had completed the course. After all, I had paid the full entry price. Their excuse was it was getting dark. I found that a bit lame.

To be a hybrid.

I am not a religious person. But I do love a good hymn. One of my favourites is ‘To Be a Pilgrim’ aka ‘He Who Would Valiant Be’. What a stonkingly rousing number. Stirring stuff. I’m adapting it for my campaign – ‘To Be a Hybrid’.

Since I started out on my journey as a CWAP a fair number of aims/targets/goals have come and gone. Some I’ve achieved; some I didn’t/haven’t yet; some I discarded. I have a new one. I feel quite strongly about it and have done for a while. It’s linked with one of my original core aims. I want to be a hybrid author. What does that mean? Possibly not what you’re thinking.

Before I even thought about writing I was a book collector. I love first editions. That’s my thing. I love the physical book in its first published state. I love everything about a real book. For me books are multi-sensory pleasures. The only sense in which a book doesn’t appeal to me is taste (as in food). This is based on my experiences of licking books – don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, although be careful where you do – I got thrown out of Waterstones for running my tongue up the spine of a certain JK Rowling. (Book not author. But I’m up for it if she is.)

Among the things I love about first editions is seeing them displayed on a bookshelf, spine out, the gaily coloured dust-jackets with the (to me) all important publisher’s name standing out – a seal of industry approval. When I started writing that was one of the things that I wanted for my books – a dust-jacket with a proper publisher’s name on the spine. I still want it. (But I’d settle for paperbacks.)

It seems quite popular in self-publishing to activate the Print On Demand (POD) facility with Amazon. And why not? It’s a way to get your book into print. It’s a way for readers to find you, to appreciate you, to share you, to fund you. It’s another way for an author to spread the word about their work. I haven’t gone down the POD route yet. There are no physical copies of my books out there. I have probably hurt myself by choosing not to get involved with POD. I really do want to have physical copies of my books. But I really do not want to be the one who commissions them. I want my physical books to have a proper publisher’s name on the spine – not Createspace or blank. I’m not yet ready to strangle my own dreams.

Am I a snob about it? I think so. Is it a form a vanity? Undoubtedly. People can think what they like about my position and my personality. I don’t care and I’m not hurting anyone (except myself.)

It get’s worse.

I don’t just want to be traditionally published. I want my cake and I want to be allowed to eat it. I want to be a new kind of hybrid author. A ‘trindie’. It could become trendy. I could be the first trendy trindie. I want a traditional publisher to take control of my physical books but that’s all. I want to retain control of the digital and audio rights to my books. I’m sure there are those who know something of the way things are in publishing these days who now need to go and change their underpants because laughing long and hard can do that to you.

I’m sure there are dozens of reasons people could give me why this isn’t ever likely to happen. (Someone probably once told Neil Armstrong that he should stop dreaming.) I’m sticking behind the reasons that it could work. Everywhere you look in the book-selling industry people are saying that the players need to adapt to new opportunities and new ways of doing things. This is a new way and the only reason it couldn’t work is because people wouldn’t want it to. That’s all. I’m still hoping to find the forward-thinker who is open to something different.

A WHITE-KNUCKLE CHRISTMAS 1030 1Did I mention that A White-Knuckle Christmas (Romney and Marsh File #7) is out tomorrow? Yeah, I know – it’s the Easter weekend. What can I tell you? I can be unconventional.

Available from all good ebook retailers spelt like this Amazon.  Pre-order here Amazon UK and here Amazon US .

I have two weeks left in Turkey. Yesterday I hit 50,000 words of B&C#3. It will be touch and go whether I finish that before my bell tolls.

A Bookish Valentine’s Day…blog-post.




Say it with simit.

When I went to pick up the morning simit bread today the woman behind the counter popped this little gift into my bag. (I know it looks like a heart-shaped turd, but it’s bread.)

After I stopped panicking that I’d forgotten it was Valentine’s Day, it got me thinking about the occasion (and about how I could rescue myself from the promise of a bad day at home because of my forgetfulness). I could have presented my wife with the heart-shaped simit and pretended that I’d paid for it, but by the time the idea occurred to me on the walk home from the shop I’d already eaten it.


A flower in bloom, like first love, is beautiful to behold: fresh, fragrant, perfect. It is no surprise that they are chosen by many a romantic to give to the apple of their eye on Valentine’s Day. But… they wilt. They become ugly and smelly and depressing to look at. A metaphor for our chosen loved one, perhaps? Eventually, we can bear to put up with them no more and they are discarded, thrown away on life’s rubbish heap. It’s one of the reasons I don’t give flowers. (The other reason is, I’m tight.)


Chocolates! Mmmm… another safe staple for many a Romeo to fall back on and many a Juliet to get fat on. Remove the cellophane of the packet, lift the lid, inhale the trapped scents of long-sealed  c h o c o l a t e… it’s almost sexual, isn’t it? The box is full, virgin, unspoilt, unmolested, a treasure of tastes and torment, treats and truffles. But wait… chocolates get eaten, they disappear, soon they are all gone, there is nothing left… a bit like love, perhaps? And then, like love, it all turns to shit. Literally. That box of chocolate, that token of love is turned by your insides into poo. You squeeze it out and flush it away. A stinking mass of waste, again, literally. Gone. Forgotten. It’s one of the reasons I don’t give chocloates. (The other reason is, I’m tight.)

Flowers and chocolates: landfill and shit. What a waste in every sense of the word.

This is the speech I made to my wife this morning before she stopped speaking to me and threw something heavy in my direction. It was only half of my intended speech. She didn’t want to hear anymore. I don’t think that she could have over her sobbing behind the locked bathroom door.

Three Short Blasts  (Medium)The rest of it went like this. A book. Is there a more complete, more personal, longer lasting, more multi-sensory pleasure, more multi-layered gift that one civilised person can give to another with whom they experience feelings of deep and enduring love for than a book – new or old? I don’t think so. As well as all of the above a book is a present that can be opened again and again. That’s why I pre-ordered you, my sweet, a copy of my latest book Three Short Blasts.

Her response probably would have gone something like: It’s not even a real book. It’s a crappy electronic file. You only pre-ordered it to get your sales figures and your Amazon chart position up.

Despite marrying me, she’s not completely stupid.

For anyone out there looking for a late Valentine’s Day gift for the love of your life, here are pre-order links. Amazon UK Amazon US

And at £0.99 and $0.99 a copy you won’t find many cheaper presents out there. Say it with an electronic file.

Here’s the Amazon sales page blurb in case you need a little more convincing.

Three Short Blasts is a collection of three original stories that are not to be found anywhere else. There is one story in each of the three series that I write: The Romney and Marsh Files, Acer Sansom and Booker & Cash.

Going on industry standard word count, the three stories range from forty to sixty pages of a paperback novel in length – significantly longer than short stories but not quite novellas.

There’s also an introduction in the book where I explain the motivation behind it. You can skip that bit if you like and get straight into the reads, which I hope you will enjoy.


As regular followers of this blog will know, last Sunday Rope Enough (R&M File #1) was the subject of a book promotion excercise that saw it go to #1 in the Amazon free charts. That’s the chart for every single free book on Amazon. Quite amazing. I’m still trying to get my head around that. There must be thousands of free books on Amazon. Maybe tens of thousands. In its first twelve hours it was downloaded nearly 6000 times. I thought it would quickly drop back down the charts but it stayed at #1 for 24 hours (awesome) and then hung around in the top 10 for most of the week. A few thousand more downloads later and today it’s at #20. Still good and a great boost to the book and the R&M Files’ profile for a mere $50.

There have been some good knock-on sales for the other R&M Files. That’s what it was all about.

Hits on my blog were also up. Before the promotion I was averaging about 30 or 40 hits a day. All this week I’ve been averaging over 100 hits a day, presumably from downloaders of Rope Enough checking out my links. Great stuff! Lots of exposure.

Talking of the blog: a small milestone this week: I posted my 200th blog-post. By my calculations that’s quite a lot of CWAP.


We must be innovative and inventive and pioneering…

I’m only writing this blog-post because I feel the desperate need for some original thought, some new ground. I just must oil the old grey matter with my creative juices. All week I’ve been going over the first two R&M Files: reading, revising, touching up, interfering with, adjusting, tinkering – language, punctuation, grammar, structure, meaning… To be honest it’s not been a lot of fun. I just want to finish it. It’s become a chore. Two down and uploaded to Amazon with revised Amazon summaries. One to go.

It’s been a bit like how I would imagine Christmas would be if I rented a castle somewhere and invited all my immediate family to spend the week together. And they all came. And it snowed heavily. And we were snowbound. And the telly broke. And there were no books. And we ran out of booze. For a couple of days it would be great to meet them all again and catch up. By the end of the week, I could see it as a patsiche of The Shining, as imagined by Roman Polanski.

So, because there’s not much been going on with my writing life this week I’m going to fall back on something I put in the blog-post cupboard for a rainy day.

A couple of months ago I had what I thought was a good idea. I still think it’s a good idea. I think it’s a good idea for me, for my books, for readers and for a certain High Street retail outlet. (Of course, I’m biased.) Here it is.

Actually, maybe it would be best if I just copied and pasted the email I sent to James Daunt the CEO of Waterstones. What prompted me to send the email was that I’d seen an online article in which he’d been interviewed and banged the we must be innovative and inventive and pioneering if we are to survive drum. I thought that my business idea fitted the bill nicely. A win/win for everyone.

Buoyed with my naive and childish enthusiasm I typed.

Dear Mr Daunt

I am writing to you with a business proposition. Books are your business. Books are my business.

You will know as well as anyone how the High Street book-selling trade needs to find and embrace new initiatives in order to continue to survive and thrive. I believe I have such an initiative and I would be grateful for your consideration of it.

I am a successful self-published author. I sell my books exclusively through Amazon. Importantly, with regard to my business proposition, I only sell my books as digital files; no physical copy of any of my books has ever been printed.

My business proposition is this: let Waterstones partner me in bringing my books to their physical form.

My books have received many hundreds of favourable reviews and ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. (I do not use sock-puppet accounts neither do I pay for reviews. The reviews are genuine readers’ comments.) I write three series, the most popular of which is a British police-procedural series set in Dover, Kent. Currently, I have five books available in this series with another two on the way.

The main selling points, if you will, that I feel apply to my initiative are as follows and in no particular order.

1) Waterstones would have the exclusive rights to sell my physical books in any or all of its stores.

2) Because no publisher would be involved we can work together to create, print and promote my books without the interference of a third party.

3) Because no publisher would be involved the retail price of the books could be kept down while still maintaining the same profit margins.

4) I would work with Waterstones to promote my books at Waterstones stores.

5) Attention that a well publicised and highly original initiative such as this would garner could significantly benefit sales of the books, not to mention bring attention for Waterstones in other positive ways.

I would be very happy to discuss my proposal further should you so wish. I would like to emphasise that my books have proven themselves to be popular with a wide range of readers. You can find evidence of this at the web links below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Oliver Tidy

That was over three months ago. There has been no response. I sent an email to his personal Waterstones email address and a general company one. I think it’s safe to say they are not interested in my kind of innovative thinking. (Or maybe they were and then read one of my books.)

Next week: how I signed a six-figure publishing deal with WHSmiths…