A Bookish Valentine’s Day…blog-post.

 

 

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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.

*

A good week.

UF3

This blog is essentially my writer’s diary. As such I like to record noteworthy events, like the above. Amazon’s British Detective chart is just a sub-genre of a sub-genre… but, as Maureen Lipman might be moved to say, it’s a sub-genre! (I wonder if anyone will actually get that reference or is it just too obscure? [Reading through this prior to clicking publish I thought I’d relive my youth by looking up the Lipman reference I’ve just mentioned. And I had to include a link here. It is very, very funny. Hang on for the last thing she says. Priceless. An ology! The Internet truly is wonderful sometimes. And credit to whoever was behind that ad – decades later I still remember it.]) and for a brief spell this week Unhappy Families (R&M File#6) edged its way up to #3! Many thanks to all involved. You know who you are.

On the subject of Unhappy Families I’ve had lots of positive feedback, which I am very grateful for. I’m not in the habit of quoting feedback on my social-media sites but this week I was tagged in two Tweets that just about summed up what I hoped to encourage readers to feel when they read this book.

The first said: Started reading the latest yesterday couldn’t stop laughing. Should I find it funny??

Definitely, yes.

The second said: I’ve just finished the latest . It had me in floods in places. His best yet.

I’m thrilled to hear it.

*

With Acer #4 Deep State with my gentleman friend for proofreading etc I have been free this week to continue working on my latest project.

Last week I reported that I was currently engaged in writing a Booker & Cash short story to go into a compilation of three short stories (one in each of my series) I was intending to put together.

It was going well. In fact it went a little too well. I got to ten thousand words and realised that actually there could be a full-length story in it. That was both good and bad news. Good because I’ve got ten thousand words of another story – a good start. Bad because then I had to start again with another Booker & Cash short story.

So I did. And Thursday evening I finished the first draft. Its eleven thousand words – about forty pages of a paperback. I’m happy with it. Very happy.

So that’s my three short stories written in their first drafts. And I have a title for the book, Three Short Blasts, and I’ve ordered the cover and I’ve written a rationale for the compilation – something to go in the front of the book to, hopefully, engage readers.

I feel that it’s been a very productive writing week. I am feeling good about this project.

Vanuatu, Vanuatu, wherefore art thou Vanuatu?

Sunday evening it was with a start that I realised I hadn’t written a blog post last week. I’m still not sure why. (It might have something to do with getting steamed on Friday night and consequently misplacing Saturday.) OK nothing happened in my writer’s life but that’s never stopped me from turning out a thousand words of forgettable ramblings. So that I don’t miss this week’s deadline I’m writing this one early.

Summer seems to have arrived in Istanbul. It’s hot. I’m in T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops when I’m not working. (I could happily live my life in T-shirts, shorts and flip flops.) The Ministry for Education have issued their yearly decree excusing gentleman teachers from wearing neckties. (That’s not something I can subscribe to. Don’t get me wrong I LOATHE NECKTIES but to go into a classroom without one… well I’d feel almost naked. It’s a professional thing. Yawn.)

I have been busy. I’m still wondering (and worrying) why I can’t find anything to change in Particular Stupidities R&M#5. There are only two possible answers to that: 1) It’s as good as it can be. 2) It’s not but I can’t see why. Maybe just one more look.

I blogged a little while ago about writing a ‘thin’ R&M File. (That’s a short story.) Over the last week I’ve made significant changes to it in line with some comments I got from a reader’s feedback. (I know one person who’s going to groan when they read that. No names – M.) But it’s better for the changes. I think. Something else that needs a fortnight in the ‘manuscript drawer’ and then another look. (It’s getting pretty crowded in there.)

Yesterday, Monday, I was struck with an idea for the opening of Booker & Cash #3. And with the idea came a good title: Waifs and Strays. Despite other pressing writing commitments, I couldn’t resist running off three thousand words for the first chapter and I like it. It’s nice to have a start under the belt, something to pick up when the opportunity presents itself. It was also great to get in touch with Jo and David again. I miss them. I miss Acer too. But I have R&M#6 that I must get back to.

Bottom line: it’s R&M that sell. (Hardly anyone seems interested in Booker & Cash or Acer Sansom these days. [Oh God, that seems like such a melodramatic ejaculation of self-pity. It’s honestly not. I’m trying to be objective. And when I say hardly anyone seems interested what I’m referring to is numbers of monthly downloads. It’s a fact that those two series of mine do not currently warrant the investment of my valuable and limited writing time when one considers the potential returns. {Oh double-God, now listen to me! I’m planning my writing according to statistics and financial returns. Aaaaargh!!!!! I’m just off to punch myself in the face of few times and try to remember why I started writing in the first place.}])

But there is a good reason that I now have to consider these evils. Pretty soon I’m going to be writing for more than just because I enjoy it. More on that in a future post.

Now and again my WordPress stats throw up an interesting gobbet of information. Today my blog has been viewed from Vanuatu – another of those far flung territories that I’ve never heard of. And I bet that 99% of people who hear the name will have the same reaction as me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanuatu

The ground floor of the apartment building next door is occupied by a hairdressers. They have an African Grey parrot. Because the weather is fine the bird is outside in its cage during the day. I feel very sad when I see a caged bird. But there is nothing I can do about it. The bird in question makes a lot of noise. The noise is not unpleasant. It doesn’t screech. It continually mimics the calls of other exotic birds it must have had some significant contact with. (The noises don’t resemble anything I’ve heard in Istanbul.) It’s nice to have the window open behind me as I write. I hope the bird is not terribly unhappy.

On reflection, that final paragraph seems a bit allegorical. Am I a caged bird? Aren’t we all?

Caw caw…

DI Romney to have sex…again.

Dutch courage.

Dutch courage.

I bet I’m not the only one. You’ve known a word for longer than you can remember. You’ve not taken that much notice of it. It’s always been just a word to you. And then one day you come across it and you have to stop to think about it. For whatever reason. It has a quirky quality, a hitherto unrealised appeal, that makes it stand out. Tomorrow it’ll probably seem like just another word. That new found novelty will have expired, like a New Year’s resolution gym membership. Bosom. It just sounds so…odd to me tonight.

Why am I thinking about bosoms? Because I’m back in the bosom of my Turkish family after a break back in the UK. Romney Marsh to be precise.

I had a very enjoyable, if cold, stay. Thanks to all involved in that. (The stay not the temperature.) I got my bike ride out to St Rumwold’s church in glorious winter sunshine. That south-facing bench I was looking forward to occupying? There was only another cyclist sitting on it with a thermos of coffee when I arrived. Pissed me off a bit. By the time I’d had a tour of the graveyard and the inside of the church they’d gone. But the graveyard tour while I was waiting turned up a couple of interesting discoveries that I had no idea about. I think they call it serendipity.

That's my bike.

That’s my bike.

Speaks for itself.

Speaks for itself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Vaizey,_Baron_Vaizey

Look him up on Wikipedia.

Look him up on Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hughes_(novelist)

Fame by association.

Fame by association.

And some views from that bench. (Sort of.)

st r view 1

st r view 2

st r view 3

st r view 4

I signed the visitors’ book. And then I signed it as David Booker. And then I signed it as Jo cash. (Anyone else remember the anxiety I was feeling a few weeks ago over a schizophrenic episode on the way to work?) Was that wrong? It didn’t feel wrong. (It could be argued that they are me and I am them. [That kind of logic should have gone down well with Him].) Anyway, I wasn’t hit by lightning. Maybe He just wasn’t looking.

st R visitors book

A few hundred yards up the road and I was at The White Horse in Bilsington for a couple of pints of real ale and a very nice meal in front of an open fire. It was worth the trip for that. I’m talking about the four hour flight back to blighty.

pub lunch

Then I went back outside into a blast of freezing fresh air for the bike ride home. That felt like being hit by lightning. Actually it felt worse. He works in mysterious ways.

There are a few things that I go back to the UK for in particular. One of them is the opportunity to add to my TBR pile with cheap books ferreted out from the local charity shops. Plenty to be getting on with. And because I was travelling alone my suitcase space on this occasion wasn’t commandeered by a higher authority to be filled with…crap.

tbr pile

And they’re just the paperbacks. There were just as many hardbacks but I can’t read those. They go into special boxes for when I have a home library or a book-themed coffee shop with lockable glass fronts on the bookshelves.

I was so glad that I took my laptop. I couldn’t seem to shake off Istanbul time in my body clock and I was regularly wide-awake by five in the morning. So I was able to chip away at Particular Stupidities (R&M#5). I think I’ve broken the back of it. I think I know how it’s going to end. And I think I know how I’m going to get there. That is a great feeling when you write a police procedural book like what I do – no plan, no idea, no experience of police procedure.

So, about DI Romney getting his leg over, again. In Rope Enough (R&M #1) I wrote the only sex scene I’ve ever written in nine books. It wasn’t exactly Fifty Shades of Grey. But it was still sex. Those that mentioned it wished that it hadn’t been included. I think they found it gratuitous. I wrote it because it seemed the right thing to do at the time. I think that I’ve made it more right over time by pointedly not allowing Romney to have sex since. I’m not in the mood to explain that. And now he’s going to have sex again.

I got to that point in the story at about two o’clock in the afternoon one rainy Dymchurch day. And I realised that I needed a drink before I could even think about it. That bottle of plonk was the only booze in the house. It certainly did the trick. By three o’clock Romney was lying back on his sweat soaked sheets staring at the cracks in his ceiling. And I was pissed.

Dutch courage.

Dutch courage.

I’ve had a few comments on He Made Me (B&C#2) and they’re all positive. That’s great news. Obviously.

Particular Stupidities.

rumwolds

St Rumwold’s Church, Bonnington. (View from Romney Marsh.)

We’re on a two week break now. I’m heading home to the UK tomorrow morning with Turdish Airlines. People to see, things to do, places to visit. Beer to drink, food to eat, books to buy. And so on.

Once again, I’m going to be Internetless on Romney Marsh for a while. It’s never easy. And I’ll be on my own. Always easy.

I’ve put two books out recently – Smoke and Mirrors and He Made Me. I’m glad to get them off my hands before the break. I’m now free to concentrate fully on the project in hand. For a change, I will be taking my laptop with me because I’m half-way into R&M #5 and I don’t want to leave it. If I can keep it ticking over with an hour or two a night I’ll be happy.

Working title and almost certainly the one I’m going to end up with is Particular Stupidities. I know it doesn’t sound very ‘crimey’ but that’s not my biggest concern for this title, which is actually perfect for the book. My biggest concern is how a two word title – one of ten letters and one of eleven letters – is going to look as a thumbnail image. And I’ve got to find room for an ‘effect’ in there somewhere to ‘sex it up’.

Unless I can stumble across some free WiFi on my travels I won’t be able to respond to any emails or comments either here on the blog or on Amazon. Sorry for that, but I’m sure they’ll all keep.

Having been quite immersed in the second Booker & Cash lately I have a desire to visit some of the places what I wrote about. Particularly I want to visit St Rumwold’s church. I’m going to ride my bike the couple of miles out there and sit on the bench in the graveyard that overlooks Romney Marsh just like David and Jo. I might even pretend that I have a book-themed coffee shop in my life, a Range Rover and a Jo.  (Trust me, if ever I strike it lucky two of those three will be high on my shopping list.) Maybe I’ll take some pictures.

And finally, at the time of writing I have one comment on He Made Me at Amazon UK. It’s a good one, which is always nice for the first. I want to share part of the reader’s feedback because it means a great deal to me.

I have never been to Romney Marsh but I must admit these books have made me really want to see the place, it sounds very special.

I was born and bred on Romney Marsh. I lived there for over forty years. It will always be a special place for me. It’s not perfect but it’s home and it does have a lot going for it. I would be thrilled to think that the books I have written and will write about the place could help to raise an awareness of it, to encourage people to think about paying it a visit. I’d like to give something back to it.

Like David Booker, I left Romney Marsh swearing I’d never go back to live there and like David Booker I’m now contemplating reversing that decision. There are a lot of worse places to live, especially with a young boy to raise.

Come in number 9 – your time is up.

He Made Me (Large)

Last night I finished the final read-through of He Made Me (Booker & Cash #2). I changed one word. (It was an important one, so I was glad I went the extra mile.) Only yesterday I said I’d be releasing it at the weekend but as everything else was ready I thought that I might as well induce the birth. Why wait?

So it’s now available from Amazon UK and Amazon.com at the links below.

Now, instead of spending all week spamming people with news of the forthcoming release of this title I can spam them and tell them it’s available for downloading.

(In case anyone is wondering about that number 9 shizzle, that’s my ninth book.)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Made-Booker-Cash-Book-ebook/dp/B00SI0U6SK/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421818843&sr=1-5&keywords=he+made+me

http://www.amazon.com/He-Made-Booker-Cash-Book-ebook/dp/B00SI0U6SK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421818896&sr=8-1&keywords=he+made+me+oliver&pebp=1421818898113&peasin=B00SI0U6SK

Booker & Cash #2 (labour pains have started)

Bad Sons Final (Large)  He Made Me (Large)

I do like seeing the covers in my series alongside each other. I like to see them multiply. It feels like I’m getting somewhere.

I continue to think that the cover for Bad Sons is really brilliant. And although it’s early days (it only came yesterday afternoon) I feel just as strongly for He Made Me. If and when you read it go back and look at the cover again. Then tell me I’m wrong.

I’m currently re-reading HMM for what I hope will be the last time before I self-publish it at the weekend. Thirty percent in and I’m enjoying it. When you consider that I’ve read it at least a dozen times already, oh yeah and I wrote the thing, I think that bodes well. It encourages me to think so anyway.

If you follow this blog (thanks by the way) please forgive the daily spam this week but what can I do? I’ve got a book coming out and conventional self-publishing wisdom suggests that authors should go on about it. And of course I want readers to read it.

The Blurb:

David Booker and Jo Cash are experiencing similar stuttering starts to their new lives on Romney Marsh when Rebecca Swaine turns up seeking help. Someone is demanding a lot of money from her husband. She wants to know why.

People come undone and reputations are ruined and made before the meaning of a man’s dying words – he made me – can be guessed at.

Mrs Swaine might end up wishing she’d let sleeping lies lie.