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.


A Load of CWAP

On identity. Most of us want to belong to a group of some sort. We want to be part of a bigger body – social or business – with other like-minded souls. The reasons are myriad.

Since I have been self-publishing my books, I have given occasional thought to the group that I now consider myself belonging to: people who write crime fiction books and self-publish them.

One of the first and, arguably, most important early steps in the formation of a group is the label given to it. Catchy titles and clever acronyms abound.

I used to refer to myself as a self-publisher, but that seems out of vogue these days, and the term is oft tainted with something that will lead a lot of people to treat it and anyone who claims to be ‘it’ with disdain.

I recently moved on to referring to myself as an ‘indie’. But I find this term often needs explaining and clarification – people don’t always get it because it’s a bit vague. I realised I needed something different, something more precise, something accurate and unequivocal.

Sitting at breakfast in my local cafe this morning, I was struck with an idea. I think it must be a good one because it caused me to choke on my simit.

What am I? I am a crime writing author publisher. I am a CWAP.

What really tickled me about this epiphany was when my train of thought steamed ahead and took me to a place in the future where I am attending a festival dedicated to writers of crime fiction and who self-publish their work. (It will come. I hope I’m alive to see it. There are many brilliant self-published writers of crime fiction out there right now who could, given the right circumstances, come together to put on a festival that would be a serious contemporary for any of the others that take place across the UK. I have no doubt about that.)

But what really tickled me about this idea would be the hope that the label Crime Writing Author Publisher could be universally adopted by those involved. Our identity. Our social/professional group tag.

But what really, really, tickled me about this was the idea that the conference/festival could be called A Load of CWAP and that people would book and pay for tickets for A Load of CWAP. That posters and flyers and media articles would all be informing the public about A Load of CWAP.

Brothers and sisters let us join together. Let us stand as one united body. Lets each and every one of us be proud to be a CWAP.

Going back to my (R&M) roots.


Three Short Blasts  (Medium)

Just sharing the cover for the forthcoming short story collection. Another cover I really like. I’m excited about this project.

I dithered about writing a blog-post this week. Because time is really stacked against me for reaching my targets before my Turkey time is up. And I didn’t help myself this week by adding significantly to my workload. But the blog is important and it’s my writer’s diary. So here goes with a brief entry.

In no particular order:

This week I read a non-fiction book that I would recommend to anyone who is writing or thinking of writing. It’s called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Great read. Entertaining, too. We think so much alike on so many aspects of writing, Steve and I. I now want to meet this guy and shake his hand. Awesome. (One thing we don’t agree on is listening to music while writing. SK says he listens to it; I can’t listen to music when I’m thinking and trying to write, not even classical. I can’t work with the distraction.)

Unhappy Families is still doing well. And it’s had over fifty reviews/comments on Amazon UK already. It’s not been out a month yet. Thanks to all involved anywhere with making this book a success.

Last Monday I started a writing job I’ve been putting off and putting off for over a year. And now I’m on it. Feelings-wise it’s been a mixed bag for me. Some good, some bad. I’m performing edits and overhauls of the first three R&M Files. It’s needed doing. And I’m doing it. But it’s going to take going on a month out of the time I’ve got left here.

I’ve been through Rope Enough twice, already. I’ve changed some stuff in line with general reader feeling for aspects of that read. There were two things in particular that I’ve had more negative feedback concerning than anything else: Romney’s apparent misogyny and the sex. I’ve addressed both. Toned one down and been less explicit on the other. Why? Because I’ve come to realise that these aspects of the book did not appeal to a certain reader demographic and the last thing I should be doing is putting people off my writing when what’s putting them off isn’t essential to the book or my writing or how I feel about my writing. I’ve written before that Rope Enough has always felt like a bit of a cuckoo in the Romney and Marsh Files’ nest. I feel less so about it now. That makes me happy. (Don’t worry: Romney is still Romney.) (On Romney – this week a reader got in touch and mentioned that Martin Shaw the actor would have made a good Romney. In his day I think he could have been perfect. Too old now. He’s seventy!!!!!!)

Romney remains stiff towards Marsh in book one but from book two he is now calling her Joy and not Sergeant Marsh all the time, which has been embarrassing to read. In fact first names are being used a lot more now (but not Romney’s. He remains ‘sir’ to his subordinates or ‘guv’. That’s the way that it is.) And in books one and two I kept referring to Romney as ‘the DI’ (it seems so… TV show cop-drama). Dumb and cringeworthy. He’s now just Romney. Romney, Romney, Romney. And why, oh, why, in Rope Enough did I keep referring to CID as ‘the squad room’? (Hot flush creeps up neck.)

I’ve been embarrassed by other things in these read-throughs. (A reason I’ve been putting it off. I knew I would.) To cut a long, self-critical story short, let’s just say that I feel I’ve improved quite a bit as a writer over the few years I’ve been at it. I needed to. Looking back at these early texts I’ve been spotting all sorts of mistakes: grammar, language, sense, punctuation, structure, tense… get the picture? (Not spelling because readers helped me a lot with those errors and I fixed those a while back.)

I gave myself a crash course in the use of commas before I got going. (Better late than never.) I’ve got the six main rules on Post-its above my desk. Applying those rules as best as I can over these three books is proving quite an intense, concentrated and educational exercise. But I’ll tell you what: knowing something about commas makes you look at your writing differently. Understanding a comma rule can unlock vision in sentence structure, for example. I’ve changed a number of sentences about to make them better in several regards, simply because I understood them better because of my new knowledge and insight. (I know what I’m talking about and that’s what matters.)

I’ve also increased the number of chapters in each of the books and cut down on the word count. Example: Rope Enough was 80,000 words. It’s now just under 77,000 words. (That wasn’t all Romney being horrible about women and having sex.) It was 16 chapters. It’s now 46! (Shorter chapter length, like shorter senence length, gives an idea of increased pace. It works.)

I’m still working on the other two books Making a Killing and Joint Enterprise but they are following similar patterns.

The positives? Despite doing a lot of cringing and tutting and punching myself in the face from time to time, I get one thing about these books that has pleased me. They are each good stories. I’m basically enjoying reading them again – getting back to my Romney and Marsh roots. I think that a yardstick of my reflected feelings is that even with all the English errors, and misogyny and objectionable explicit sex and overlong chapters and wooly sentences in Rope Enough it’s still had a lot of good reviews and ratings.

I strongly believe I’m making these books better reads.

One of the two reasons that I’ve never commissioned print on demand books for the R&M Files is because I’ve always known that the early ones needed work. Probably still do. I’m so glad I hung on. I’d feel particularly bad if I thought that there were physical copies of these books out there with all these errors in that could never be changed. I’d be hunting them down and burning them. The beauty of epublishing is that you can change your work every day if you want to and then readers can simply upload the updated version if they choose to. (I think.)

I haven’t uploaded any revised versions yet. I’m going to finish doing all three books and then read them all again back-to-back. Then I’ll upload. I’ve also got to update front and back matter and blurbs for all of my books with links and stuff. I want them all to be as good (make that correct) as I can make them before I push off ‘cos when I get back to the UK I don’t know where I’m going to find the time to write and do all of this shizzle.

Oh yeah, something that is really cheesing me off at the moment is my aging laptop. I think it’s ill. When I’m halfway through typing a sentence it keeps changing lines so that half the sentence is on the right line and half of it is in the middle of a line up the page. Lots of messing around and frustration with that. I’m saving for a new one.

Finally, apologies for all the spelling, punctuation and other errors in this post. I’m in a rush.

Eleven weeks and counting! Holy crap.!

Opportunity knocks.


This week I have been working on Three Short Blasts my collection of three short stories – one in each of my three series that I will put out in one book. I really like them all. I’m pretty excited about my little project. I also think that I’m about as happy as I can be technically with each of them. I think they are about ready to go down the line.

With Three Short Blasts put to one side I felt it was time for another look at A White-Knuckle Christmas (Romney and Marsh File #7). After another read through and a few small alterations I can see that I’ll soon be ready to hand this one over to my gentleman friend too. One more read through should do it but I need a week or two away from it before that.

Then I went back to Booker & Cash #3 to familiarise myself with the story so far and give thought to where it can go. Just as I was getting into a B&C frame of mind I got sidetracked with something I saw on my Amazon author page.

Anyone heard of Kindle Scout? I hadn’t. I know about it now though having spent a couple of hours reading up on it and checking out what others had to say about it on independent websites.

Kindle Scout has been going for a while in the US. Late in 2015 Amazon introduced it to the UK. What it boils down to in Amazon’s words is this:

Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing.

To see more about Kindle Scout click the link. Please have a look. It’s very reader friendly.

I’m a bit excited about Kindle Scout and the possibilities that getting chosen could bring to my writing. I’m not fixated on that advance. I’m looking at the bigger picture that would come with being selected by Kindle Scout and when I look at the bigger picture this is what I see:

1) An Amazon interest in the writing, which means Amazon promoting and helping to sell books. It’s what they do best.

2) Amazon say it’s OK to submit a book in a series, just so long as it’s never been made for sale anywhere else.

It so happens that I have a book coming back to me in the not too distant future from my gentleman friend. It’s a book that meets all the criteria of the submissions page for Amazon Scout. It’s the fourth book in my Acer Sansom series. I think it’s pretty good. I certainly think that the first five-thousand words that can be read as a sample are good enough to encourage readers who like the genre to consider voting for it. I’m seriously thinking about submitting it.

It’s an opportunity. And I realise that I must pursue them. Sales of the Acer books stagnated a long time ago. Probably my own fault. I haven’t done any promotional work yet. If, I say if, Deep State Acer #4 were selected for the Kindle Scout programme then it could potentially bring significant attention in the form of sales to the other Acer books. That would be great news for me the writer.

I quite like the look of the process for Kindle Scout. It’s all over in forty-five days, so not too tortuous for all concerned. I can see how it could be open to abuse though. All a vote takes is someone with an Amazon account to click a button. If a participant has access to thousands of qualifying ‘supporters’ who can be encouraged to click the link then that’s what will count at tallying up time.

I’m seriously considering entering Acer #4 and then hounding the hell out of everyone I know on social-media to vote for it. What do you think?

I will take a quick paragraph here to say that I know there are a few readers who are eagerly anticipating the next Acer and if I enter it in the Kindle Scout programme that will naturally delay publication. I wouldn’t enjoy disappointing those of you who are looking forward to the next installment. I wouldn’t want you to think I would take the decision to enter the book in Kindle Scout lightly, because I don’t give a stuff for your feelings. You know I do. But I would hope that you would approve of my decision and offer your support. (If I’m unsuccessful then the delay is only forty-five days. If I was to be successful and you had voted for the book you would get a free copy from Amazon in thanks!)

Anyway. Still thinking about it. I mean that most sincerely folks! (You didn’t really think I could have a picture of Hughie Green up there and not use his catchphrase, did you?)

A milestone to celebrate.


I think that milestones should be celebrated. Today, Rope Enough (Romney and Marsh File #1) received its 900th comment/review on Amazon UK. I have no idea how many times it’s been downloaded but it must be in the tens of thousands. (Don’t forget it’s free.)

(I’m both pleased and relieved that the 900th comment was a positive one. A 1* full of loathing for my alter ego could have spoiled things.)

A good week.


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.

What goes up…

Unhappy Families (Large)

(Unhappy Families is available for immediate download now here Amazon UK and here Amazon US )

Four days now since Unhappy Families (Romney and Marsh Files #6) hit the virtual shelves.

Like anyone responsible for creating something for others to hopefully enjoy I was on tenterhooks waiting for the first reader feedback. What a relief and pleasure it was to be humbled with a wonderfully encouraging review on Amazon UK the same day. In fact on the day the book became available for reading it received four glowing reviews on Amazon UK. I was fairly bowled over by the positive response and have been further by other Amazon reviews, emails and social-media comments that I’ve received since. Sincere thanks to all for your encouraging messages.

This morning I logged onto the Internet to discover that Unhappy Families was at #822 in the overall Amazon charts and still receiving positive feedback. I was so chuffed that I posted the details of my happiness on my social-media sites. I was riding high on an emotional wave.

What goes up must come down.

To remind me of that central tenet of life, particularly a writing life – you can’t please all the people all the time – within an hour I noticed that another review had been posted on and Goodreads. A two star comment for Unhappy Families.

What goes up must come down. Thanks to Betsy for bringing me firmly back down to Earth… with a bump. Ouch!

Let’s get one thing straight folks: everyone is entitled to their opinion. Betsy didn’t like it. She paid for it and she has the right to air her views. DOUBLE PLEASE don’t anyone think about going over to comment. That’s not what this is about. By all means look but PLEASE DON’T COMMENT AND DON’T LOOK IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK BECAUSE THE REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!

So why am I blogging about this?

This is my online diary about being a self-published author. I try to make it a warts an’ all record. Being a self-published author is not all sunshine and lollipops. Naturally, I’m disappointed that a reader really didn’t like the story I’d written. Fiction writers write to entertain not make people wish they’d saved their time and money. But Betsy gave me something I think I probably needed – a dose of reality. And that’s never a bad thing for anyone. Other readers aren’t going to like this book, too, in the same way that all of my books, in fact just about every book on Amazon, has got both glowing and scathing reviews. Everyone’s different. Everyone brings something different to the reading experience. Everyone has to accept this. Especially the writer.

Right, it’s lunchtime here. I’m on this diet that’s working well for me. Every lunch time, a time that I usually start to feel peckish, I head off to the gym for some exercise. That way I miss a meal and burn calories. A double-whammy. Besides there’s a punch bag down there with someone’s name on it…

One down, two to go.


Unhappy Families (Romney and Marsh File #6) is now off my hands. I uploaded the final version to Amazon on Tuesday. For the time being I have to forget it and move on. What better way to do that than by focussing on another writing project?

(Unhappy Families is available for pre-order now here Amazon UK and here Amazon US Release date is 27th December.)

I’m too late to get A White-Knuckle Christmas (Romney and Marsh File #7) out for Christmas. It would have been nice and seasonal but in any case I think it might be wise to have an interval between books #6 & #7.

That means I’m now working on Acer #4 Deep State. I’ve completed one read-through and I still like it. I haven’t felt the need to change anything of the structure.

I do the first read-through on a hard copy with a highlighter pen. Then I update the Word document with the changes. After that I send the new Word document to my Kindle and read the book again on that device. I have the hard copy and a different coloured highlighter pen close by. Anything I want to alter I note it on the hard-copy in the new colour as I go. Then I’ll ping the updated copy to my Kindle and read it again. I’ll usually do this a few times before I’m happy with things and can’t find anything else to change/correct.

Reading the book through using a different means – ie Kindle rather than paper copy – gives me the opportunity to spot things that I seem to not be able to spot otherwise. It always surprises me the number of things I miss on the first read-through. After the initial read of Deep State there wasn’t that much red ink on the manuscript. I’m now half-way through the second using the Kindle and there is more ink on the pages already than there was after the whole of the first read.

When I’m done with these stages I send it off to my gentleman friend for a second opinion.

(When the books come back I get further examples of the limits of my understanding of spelling, punctuation, grammar and making sense. I’m not terrible at these things – no one proofreads my blog-posts and they’re not littered with mistakes of English (?!) – but a full-length novel is something else. Sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees, especially when you are so close to them.)

Anyway, second read-through going well. Still liking it.


Some of you may know that I run another site at It was conceived as a bit of fun. A couple of weeks ago I had the idea to contact all the authors included on the site who I could find online contact details for and ask them to answer just a couple of questions about their motivations for writing crime fiction set on the south coast. I’m very happy to report that a few did respond and I think that their answers are great. Please go over and have a look.

Thanks to:

Valerie Keogh

Pauline Rowson

Elly Griffiths

Peter Guttridge

Sara Sheridon

If any readers have an author or book to suggest, please take a look at the criteria I’ve devised for inclusion (it’s on the ‘About’ page) and if your suggestion matches do let me know. I want the site to be comprehensive.


It’s unlikely that I’ll blog again before the 25th and so I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every reader of my books a very happy Christmas.