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 Amazon.com 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 southcoastcrimewriters.co.uk 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.


‘Tis Done…

Unhappy Families (Large)

Remember, Remember the 27th of December

If I should get hit by a bus,

Arrested, deported,

Don’t make a fuss.

You’ll get your copy on time because

Now I’ve ironed out all the flaws,

Pulled out the stops

Against the clocks

And pressed submit

Washed my hands of it.

R&M 6 is ready and waiting

In Amazon’s system

Quietly stating

Its place in the series

Of south-coast crime books

Here’s hoping the tale is a match for its looks.


In case that’s a bit confusing for anyone, what I’m trying to say is that today I uploaded the final version of Unhappy Families (Romney and Marsh File #6) to Amazon. So if I drop dead tomorrow it will still get published.

I won’t look at it again. Amazon won’t let me interfere with it now until after publication date. (Can you imagine if I took a peek and saw a mistake?)

I will now spend the next two weeks living on my nerves, medically prescribed drugs and the toilet as I worry about the same things I worry about every time I self-publish a book.

The buck stops here.







Spot the difference.

Unhappy Families (Large)

Available to pre-order now here Amazon UK and here Amazon US.


I’ve taken some good advice from a reader. (No I’m not going back to teaching.) I’ve created a Facebook author page. I wish I’d done it years ago. I’m an idiot for not. It offers lots of possibilities for a perspiring writer. Please go over and have a look at the below link. In case you’re wondering what’s in it for you (don’t we all?) it is only on my FB author page that you will be able to see the covers for A White-Knuckle Christmas (Romney and Marsh File #7) and Deep State (Acer Sansom #4). They are both in the photo albums section. If you do stop by PLEASE click the ‘like’ link.



A few weeks ago I posted this image. For this photo shoot I was engaged in my own round of proofreads and edits for Unhappy Families (R&M File #6).

nice work

Here’s me today. Anyone got time on their hands for a game of spot the difference? (Me neither.)


Did I mention the heating’s stopped working? And this was Ankara last week. It might look sunny out there but it’s bloody freezing!


This week I received the proofread copy of Unhappy Families (R&M File #6) back from my gentleman friend. It’s now available for pre-order here  Amazon UK and here Amazon US.

When the books come back from proofreading they need formatting for uploading to Amazon. This is my least favourite task in the whole self-publishing process. It’s onerous and boring and time-consuming. I refer closely to the Smashwords style guide. It’s never let me down yet. Basically it entails:

  1. Copy and paste the whole document into a new MS notepad document. This will get rid of any glitches in the document that have come from it being worked on on multiple computers. (This is called the ‘nuclear method’ and it cleans the whole document up.)
  2. Copy and paste that all back into a new MS word document. (Trouble with the ‘nuclear method’ is it removes all previous formatting. So the italics have gone along with any oversized font for chapter numbers and newspaper headlines etc; paragraphing and spacing also needs redoing and asterisks used to denote change of scene etc have been aligned left. I like them centred.)
  3. Redo all the things that were lost in the creating of a new document. (See 2)
  4. Create the front matter.
  5. Create a hyperlinked table of contents.
  6. Make sure that there are ‘x’ number of spaces between every chapter end and start and asterisk and chapter number to chapter start.
  7. Create end matter (book links, letter of thanks begging for feedback).
  8. Then it needs reading again on a Kindle to make sure that everything has been done properly. (There is always something to change and I have never read one of my books at the last stage [this one] and not found something to change in the story – a word, a line. Example: I’ve just removed a paragraph from R&M#6 because it didn’t add anything.)
  9. Update word document with these final tweaked revisions and guess what? Read it again on Kindle to make sure I didn’t bugger anything up when I did the revisions.

I have to get this book to Amazon by Wednesday or I’m in trouble with them. (They demand it ten days before publication day in the case of a pre-order.) I’m halfway through the first read through of the formatted ‘finished’ book. The hard copy of the manuscript has got purple ink all over it. (I’m working in purple crayon today, even though it hurts my eyes and I suffer from a crayon allergy that brings me out in hives [part of my PTSD from working with small children for too long], because The Halfling has hidden all my highlighter pens.)

With so much to do on top of everything else all this begs the question: why am I messing around taking pictures of myself in silly hats?


R&M#6: off to a flying start!

UF no2

Just before I tiptoe off to bed I’d like to offer my sincere gratitude to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy of Unhappy Families (Romney and Marsh Files #6). Thank you all so much for your support of my writing.

The book only became available for pre-order today and the response has been something for me to get a bit mushy about. As you can see from the screen grab it’s gone to #2 in Amazon’s Hot New Releases category. That’s just word of mouth, a mention on my blog, Facebook and a few tweets.

I’ve also had some wonderful messages on my social networking sites. It’s been good to hear from readers who’ve been following the series and who are looking forward to the latest installment.

I couldn’t be happier. Thanks and goodnight.