My Blog

Colin Dexter – Creator of Morse

As I write this short piece both Colin Dexter and Morse are trending on Twitter. This is good because if anybody is unfamiliar with either name, there’s a decent chance they’ll learn more about this great writer and his famous detective, thanks to the medium of Twitter. I like this because it goes against everything that Inspector Morse embodied. Modern in no sense of the word, Inspector Morse would not be reading about anything on social media.

I was brought up watching Inspector Morse on television as a child. Along with Sherlock Holmes, Morse is my favourite fictional character. Later, at university, I took a crime fiction module. Colin Dexter and Morse were one of our topics. Lucky me.

Those who know me well will know I often say “you only need to get it right once”. In terms of writing what I mean is you just need to create one successful character to leave your mark. Atticus Finch? Harry Potter? Holden Caulfield? Sherlock Holmes? Inspector Morse.

The books were adapted for television and John Thaw made the character his own (literally, in that Dexter adapted the character to suit the actor). This led to Lewis, which didn’t really work for me for reasons not important now, and finally Endeavour, which traces the origins of Dexter’s creation.

The books will live on, no doubt seeing a resurgence following Dexter’s death. The programmes are rarely off the television and show no signs of stopping. So Morse will continue and, hopefully, lead viewers and readers back to Dexter’s original novels. They are worth a look because Dexter was a master story teller and in Morse he created a character every bit the equal of Holmes.

Chatting with writers

Just a quick post to say what a great evening I’ve had. A friend of mine, the very talented writer Frion Farrell, invited me to talk to a group of writers at the creative writing school she runs – Platform One in Carnforth.

They meet in a room above a pub which is perfect for a creative group as things naturally gravitate downstairs to the bar. They are a mixed age range and also mixed in terms of their writing – poets, fiction, full length, novellas, bit of everything.

Frion asked me to chat about self-publishing since that’s what I do (when the day job allows). I rambled on for over an hour about my experiences and, after a quiet start, they soon warmed up and were firing questions at me and thinking about how they might market their books (when they’ve written them!)

I’m far from being an expert but it was great to chat with like minded people who share an enthusiasm for creating something out of nothing. I’ve no doubt they will go on to great things and Frion deserves recognition for leading the group and allowing these writers a platform to share their work, for their voices to be heard.

You can find them on Facebook by clicking the link. They also kindly allowed me to take a couple of photos to share.

NaNoWriMo 2016

Evening all,

As the post title suggests I’ve signed up to this years National Novel Writing Month. I’ll be honest. I’m not quite sure I see the point of it.crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76

I’ve been aware of the event for some years and I know a number of people who take part every year. I’ve done some reading on the website and checked out the local forums to see what’s going on there. That has made me wonder if it’s a communal effort, supporting each other, nudging each other along to get the words written.

Is this because people struggle to write? Lack ideas? Motivation? I have no idea but one thing which isn’t immediately clear is what happens when the event ends. What do people do in December? Finish their books? Abandon them?

I note there are a number of events organised throughout November for participants to gather and presumably share progress, or otherwise, and also perhaps offer and receive support. Work won’t allow me to attend any of these so I might well be missing out on the whole ethos of the event.

I’m also unclear what the ‘winning’ part actually is. I mean, I validate my 50,000 words and I win. What exactly? I suppose I will find out at the end of the month, if I write enough words.

I suspect I’ll forget all about the event because writing fits in around the day job and a number of other things. I have no trouble writing words, and certainly no lack of ideas, but since I don’t make any money from it, it’s hard to justify spending time on it at the expense of something else. As such, finding time for a couple of thousand words a day is hard to make a case for. Still, we shall see.

I shall aim to begin tomorrow evening and report back on progress at the end of the event.

 

Guest Post By Terry Ravenscroft

I want to publicise my new book The Ring of the Lord. It is a humour/fantasy novel out on Sept 19, price £2.99/$2.99. you can pre-order it here –

UK http://amzn.to/2bBVN1O

US http://amzn.to/2bBVELJ

Here’s a short extract from the opening chapter of The Ring of the Lord.

DREG. 5030 BC.

The Middle-earth shire of Dreg, in the Gondor region, was to be found in an area known in our times as Derbyshire, with the addition of the less salubrious part of Cheshire and the less inbred part of Yorkshire.

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Tunnbledemere nodded then took the deepest of breaths, as though to invest his words with the seriousness he felt they deserved. “Your quest then, Draybweevil, is…. nothing less than to find out why everyone in fantasy novels is given a silly name!”
A collective intake of breath came from all those present that day. Gasps of awe, of wonder, of trepidation, were forced from the throats of Binglebang, of Meelamoola, of Bootyscoot, of Snotwangler, of Fartwurgler, of Bumsucka, of the dwarf, Arselow, of the goblin, Vakyoomkleena, of the elf, N’Safety, of the troll, Socialmeeja, of the giant, Economysize, of the wizard, of Ovoz, of Condom the Protector, of Tampon the Absorber, and last, but by no means least, from Man With Very Long Name Who Has Been Given A Very Long Name Simply Because A Long Name Fills Up At Least Half-a-dozen Lines Every Time It Is Used And Is Absolutely Guaranteed To Be Used Many Many Times Because Almost All Fantasy Novels Are About As Thick As A Brick And The Few That Aren’t As Thick As A Brick Are At The Very Least Six Hundred Pages Long And Therefore Using A Very Long Name A Lot Will Fill Up About A Hundred Pages And Thus Save The Author The Bother Of Thinking Up Even More Padding Than He Already Will Be Doing.
“Incidentally, Draybweevil, when you are on the quest there is one more thing I would like you to do for me.”
“Father?”
“It is to find out why the protagonists in such novels are always having strange, disturbing dreams.”
Draybweevil gasped. The previous night, no sooner had the caressing but insistent arms of Morpheus dragged him reluctantly into a deep sleep – reluctantly because Draybweevil loved every single moment of his waking hours in his beloved Dreg and sleep to him was a deprivation of life itself – he himself, not for the first time, had experienced a strange, disturbing dream. Was the dream a portent of things to come? In his dream there were unforgettable visions of unfamiliar buildings with peculiar signs hung on their front elevations; ‘Red Lion’, ‘Queen’s Head’, ‘Rose and Crown.’ A huge red and white banner attached to the front of the Red Lion read ‘Sky Sports Here!’ Through one of the windows, in what appeared to be some sort of giant magic glass, about five feet by four feet in our measure, a game unfamiliar to him was being played. It involved two teams chasing around madly and kicking some sort of sphere, possibly a pig’s bladder, much to the huge enjoyment of the many thousands of spectators watching, many of whom raised cheers and chanted loudly and boisterously throughout the action. All the spectators had seats to sit on, but unaccountably all were standing up. In a second magic glass another game involved a white-clad figure throwing a smaller red sphere at another white clad figure armed with some sort of wooden weapon, with which he attempted to ward off the sphere, whilst a dozen or so more white-clad figures looked on, several of whom yawned from time to time. In a third, a game similar to the one taking place in the first magic glass, involved bigger, more muscular men, who, when not fighting each other, were mostly throwing, rather than kicking, the pig’s bladder.
Through the doors of the Queen’s Head a young man and a young woman now staggered. The young man had a swastika tattooed on his cheek, a bone through his nose and sported on his head a peaked cap worn back to front; the young woman had the words ‘Too Drunk To F***’ emblazoned on a skimpy blouse that seemed designed to reveal, rather than conceal, her bulbous breasts. As the couple staggered and reeled on their way, with raucous cries of “All police are bastards” and “We don’t give a shit” directed at no one in particular, pausing only to vomit on a passing cat and urinate in someone’s front garden, they passed four people of a similar age. They were all smoking and drinking something called ‘Carlsberg’ from a bottle. However the mixture they were smoking couldn’t have been the bat dung and dried weasel entrails rolled up in a dock leaf enjoyed by the majority of the Dreg race, but some other concoction, a mixture that rendered those smoking it glassy-eyed, unsteady on their feet and totally incoherent. As the young men swigged greedily on their bottles a young woman, naked but for an even skimpier blouse than that worn by the first young woman, a thin band of some sparkly material girding her loins, staggered by on shoes that looked to have six inch nails instead of heels.. As she did they took pleasure in jeering at her. There was a cry of “Slag” from one of them, a cry of “Show us your tits” from another. The girl stopped and bent over, displaying her naked bottom in their direction. Continuing on her knickerless way she passed another young man slumped on the ground, a wretched-looking individual who appeared to be trying to push a small glass tube into his arm. Next to him, an older individual, a sad-looking wretch of a man, was inhaling a white powdered substance up his nose.
The dream came to a sudden end when a sort of oxen-less cart with ‘POLICE’ emblazoned on the side suddenly appeared on the scene, klaxon blaring, raced at high speed past both the young couple and the four smokers before screeching to a halt outside a building bearing the brightly-lit legend ‘Pizzaland’, whereupon two bulging at the waist fat-faced hungry-looking black clad figures leapt out and rushed inside with cries of ‘I’m having a king-size meat feast!’ and ‘I’m having the same with double chips!’
As Draybweevil’s recollection of the dream ended Tunnbledemere was surveying the whole gathering.

Please share.

The Trials of Marketing Myself

Afternoon all,

So, progress report. After several weeks of effort the website is looking marvellous. I’ve refreshed my friendship with Smashwords which, as most of you will know, means all my books are now available pretty much everywhere. I’m particularly pleased with the Apple iBooks and Barnes and Noble elements of this agreement. There is also a rather nice page with all my bio and book details.

To this end I’ve actually spent money on promotion. I’ve spent a few quid boosted posts on Facebook and significantly more on an advert. Why? Because I’ve decided to do a pre-order campaign with Apple and Barnes and Noble. The idea being that two of my books will be released in August. Hopefully pre-order sales will be so stunning my books will race up the charts. Does my sarcasm come across in the text?

As part of the rebranding I’ve got new logos for all my social media channels, professional covers on all my books and you can buy them from the Book Shop page on my website – there are fancy buttons which will take you to the store of your choice to buy the books.

The big question, has this led to an increase in book sales? No.

But I would qualify that with – not yet.

I’ve been in the Indie game long enough to know it requires constant effort and input. You stop promoting, people stop buying. But now my “brand” looks professional and is very accessible in terms of my books being on every platform and across more channels of social media. Plus, every element is linked. You can follow me on all channels direct from my website for example. But equally my Facebook page has a link to all channels too. As does my Twitter feed. I have it all on Goodreads too.

Theoretically being more visible will lead to more sales. Law of averages suggests it must because so far my books have only been available on Amazon. Now they are everywhere.

Time allowing I’ll post an update on the Facebook adverts. They seem to produce a decent amount of data on engagement, clicks etc so I can see what I got for my money against sales.

The biggest thing will be word of mouth though. So please spread the word and if you do read one of my books, on any format, leave a review!

Guest Post by Jim Webster

51LokiT3T-LWide open spaces, room for thought?

One of the joys of living on the shores of Morecambe Bay is the wide open spaces. There’s this huge expanse of sky that seems to go on for ever at times. Admittedly I live on the other side of the Bay to Jamie, but when I feed sheep on our higher fields (spot height 30 meters) my horizon extends from Blackpool tower to Black Combe and takes in Ingleborough and Penyghent as well.
One thing I love about it is that there’s room here for thinking. I like nothing more than walking through the area, pondering plot details and getting the book I’m working on to fit properly together. I find it really lets you get into the book.
Unfortunately I got too far into the book. So far that it’s been a struggle to come out and talk about the previous book that’s just about to be published.

You see, last year I wrote six novellas, featuring my well loved hero, Benor the Cartographer. Set in a fantasy world with little magic and no elves, I wrote the six as detective stories. The idea is they’d be a collection, not a series and you could read them in any order.
Then when they were written and edited I set it up so they’d be published, one every four months, and got on with writing something new.
And now I’ve just realised the next of these stories is about to be published. Yes, ‘Woman in Love’ is already up on Amazon for pre-order.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Woman-Love-P…

To quote the blurb, “Asked to look for a missing husband, Benor finds that the female of the species is indeed more deadly than the male.”

All you have to do is click on the link and order it. A mere 98p, get it now before Amazon runs out of electrons. Rumour has it, they’re not making them any more.

 

Welcome to the new blog

So here it is. New website, new blog. Hope you like it. Feel free to leave feedback via the handy contact form I’ve provided.

Essentially I’ll be updating this blog with news of my latest books as well as more general musings. You might like them, you might not.

You can find out about me and my books from this site. You can also follow me on social media too – there are buttons at the bottom of the page. I generally post stuff on Twitter and Facebook first so if you’re keen then follow me on those. I also knock about on Goodreads most days.

So that’s it for now. Obviously the whole point is to generate book sales so I’d appreciate it if you could buy a copy of each of my books now. Then tell everyone you know. Thanks!