Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Is everyone enjoying Christmas?

Evening folks,

Merry Christmas. We've had a winner so far. The prep I'd done with regard to the wife's presents proved to be perfect. She went utterly berserk when she realised what was going on and spent most of the morning dancing around like an excited puppy. It also took her nearly an hour to open all her gifts. Job done.

In other news this blog has had 4747 views since I began it just over 12 months ago so I must be doing something right.

Finally, since I know so many people who received ereaders today, my festive short story The Storyteller is free on Amazon worldwide as from tomorrow. Dive in and help yourself to a copy.

Right, I've got better things to do today, not least makng a start on my Bond Blu Ray Box Set. Thanks to the wife for that.

Have a good one.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Are you all set for Christmas?

Afternoon gang,

So we're nearly there. I've bought all the presents I'm going to buy. The wife and I did our festive shop at Sainsburys last night and everything is wrapped.

The busiest week of the year at work is now behind me and, with me at the helm, it was a total success. I have just 7 working days left until I start my new job. Can't wait. Gonna be a bit weird being the new kid again and it will be very strange not being the most knowledgable person in terms of what I do. Still, they're paying me plenty so I'll soon grasp what's going on.

Anyway, here's the thing. I've just about finished the second draft of the new book but I'm not going to publish it for Christmas. As I've said previously there's a lot more to this story than I originally thought and I want to take the time to get it right. As such I'm going to hang fire until I'm certain I've done it justice. Don't panic, it'll be worth the wait. And then there's the sequel to the Jazz Cafe to look forward to as well. So 2013 promises to be very positive on the book front.

Right, I'm going to look at a few more pages while I wait for people to arrive. I've got two friends staying tonight. There's a few of us off out for festive ales to kick off the season. Then tea with more friends tomorrow and out on Christmas Eve as well before the big day.

Merry Christmas to you all. Thanks for reading and following my blog, it's much appreciated.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

So I ran into Ian Rankin the other night...

Evening troops,

The wife's watching the Girls Aloud programme on ITV so I thought I'd knock off a quick blog post.

It was our second wedding anniversary on Thursday and we went to Preston where Ian Rankin was doing an appearance to promote his new book Standing in another man's grave.

We hadn't planned it to be our anniversary night out obviously but I'm glad it worked out that way.

We've seen him before in Lancaster and he's a pretty effortless speaker, very laid back as if you're listening to someone in a pub over a pint.

Afterwards we dutifully joined the queue, bought a book and had it signed by the man himself. I've attached a pic. He wrote Happy Anniversary in it too, which the wife liked.

For anyone interested, there's a programme on Boxing Day called Doors Open. It's an Ian Rankin story and Stephen Fry is in it. Probably worth a look.

Right, that's all for now. I've got a few projects on tonight and then, at about 2AM, it's the Rolling Stones pay per view live from New York on Sky. It's gonna be a late one.

By the way, sales are slow this month in America so if you're reading this over there feel free to dive in and make a purchase.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

What does Christmas mean to you?

Evening gang,

A regular reader, trusted associate and long time colleague pointed out today I'd been a bit slack on the blogging lately. I pointed out I've been hard at work editing my soon to be published new novel The Trust. Interestingly, said colleague is the inspiration behind one of the central characters. Sadly that character is a murderous lunatic. Still, I'll let him see an advance copy and if he's happy with it then he can have a signed one.

Oh, and just so we're clear. There's no evidence to suggest he is murderous. But of course, the clever ones don't leave a trail.

Anyway, we've got the tree up at the homestead and a big old sod it is too. Have a look...

Which brings me nicely to tonight's topic. I'm not a massive fan of Christmas as a whole. I loved it when I was a kid. Always got lots of presents, loved being off school etc. But now I'm in a position where I can just buy any gift I might fancy so from a purely material point of view Christmas has no benefit. I also have a job which doesn't really enable me to have any time off aside from Christmas Day and Boxing Day so it's not like I'm at home watching lots of festive tele either.
So what is Christmas to me? Well I do like buying stuff for the wife. And I do like having a nice tree. I also quite like going out for festive lunch with the family, especially since my parents always pay. But this year it also marks an occasion. This year marks my transition from my existing job, which I loathe, to my new job, which I pray will be better. It's certainly more cash, which is nice.
I was at Lancaster Cathedral at the weekend. It was the annual Light up a Life service for St John's Hospice and the wife asked me to go and help clear up afterwards. I also wrote two of the readings used in the service which, I'm told, were very well received. To the folk at this service Christmas is all about remembering loved ones, missing folk and rebuildng their lives which seems a lot more important that presents and a smart tree.
I also went to visit the wife's grandmother at the weekend. We had a nice lunch and she gave us a chest of drawers. She also said she no longer puts up a Christmas tree as it's too much like hard work and she goes away for the holiday rather than spend it with any family. That struck me as quite sad that she'd rather be with strangers than family. Mind you, I've met them and I'd be tempted to go away on my own as well!
So all this has got me thinking. What does Christmas mean to everyone? Family, tree, presents, church, being on your own, time off work?
As for me, I'll be hoping to publish the new book in time to tap into all the new ereaders which people will receive at Christmas. Keep watching for updates!

Until next time...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

What did you do today?

Evening folks,

Regular readers will know I often wander off topic so tonight I'm going to start right on topic and see where we end up.

Today I got up at 11:30AM. I ambled downstairs, flicked on the kettle, made a brew and then switched on the laptop. I cracked on with the editing on my book, working title The Trust, and it went really rather well.

Just as an aside (here we go, off topic alert!) I'm almost halfway through the second draft and still hopeful the book will be available before Christmas. You might recall it's a book from my back catalogue (2006 or there abouts). I'd anticipated tidying it up and publishing it before returning to my main project which was editing the newly written follow up to The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe. But The Trust has developed into much more than I'd imagined. The plot is strong and the themes are still very topical, to the extent that I was reading a relevant piece in todays edition of the i newspaper.

So, in short, I'm taking my time on the editing until it's just right. If this means publishing after Christmas then so be it. It's a winner though and I'll start revealing plot details in coming weeks.

Anyway, let's return to the topic. After an hour or so of editing the phone rings. It's the wife. She's out and about doing stuff and wants to know if I want to go out for lunch. Neeldess to say I do. So she picks me up and we mooch into town, have a very pleasant lunch at Sun Street Cafe (where I perused the i newspaper mentioned earlier). After this we picked up her oldest niece and went to watch Silver Linings Playbook at the local cinema.

I was expecting very little, although I like Bradley Cooper a lot. But the film is actually very good, well cast, pretty well written and both Cooper and the female lead Jennifer Lawrence are very good in their portryals of folk with mental issues. Sadly the cost for three of us with one popcorn was £27!!! Madness.

My evening consisted of roast chicken for tea, an episode of The Hour and now I'm blogging about it all.

Now to meander off topic again. The Stones gig on Thurday night was epic! Wildly expensive but they really know how to put on a show. That said, Bruce Springsteen has announced UK dates next year. He is known for playing at least three hours, has a stellar back catalogue. Ticket price £55-68. The Stones? £250. Hmm.

Tomorrow's plan? More editing before the drudgery of the day job on Monday. There was something else I was going to mention but I've lost my thread.

Last of all, I'm not getting any joy reader wise from Wattpad. I might well stick something else on there but to be honest I think I might let it go. We shall see.

Until then...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Book editing and The Rolling Stones

Evening gang,

How's things? It seems that where I live is about the only place in the country not to be flooded. The down side of that is I have no excuse not to go to work. But I am counting the days now, and todays number is 23.

Anyway, regular readers will know that I was aiming to have two new books out for Christmas. Tonight's announcement is...that's not going to happen. I know, I know, you're all upset. But fear not. It's something to look forward to in the new year.

Both books are written it's the editing that's taking the time. I'm about half way through the second draft of what is currently called The Trust. It's one from the back catalogue but it's better than I remembered and as I've started playing with it the story has developed further and I've started tweaking character relationships and moving scenes to - hopefully - make it all better. Anyway, the word count currently stands at 83,500. I reckon it might end up around 85,000 by the time I'm done which is a bit more than I usually average but there's a lot going on in this book.

I'm planning on taking a couple of days away from the editing to launch a revised version of my short story The Storyteller in time for Christmas. It's a little bit of money for old rope but I'd be daft not to promote my festive book at this time of year.

I'll also be taking a couple of days off to dash down to London to see The Rolling Stones at the O2 on Thusday night. Unless you've been on the moon you'll be aware that they did a triumphant show last weekend at the O2 featuring original member Bill Wyman and later member Mick Taylor. The reviews have been superb, especially for Mick Jagger. Yes, the ticker prices are ludicrous (we paid £250 a ticket plus hotel plus travel!!) but sometimes, just sometimes, you have to worry about the money another day. I'll be having a quiet Christmas as a result of this concert but it'll be worth it.

Anyway, I'm currently battling some sort of cold so I'm going to edit another few pages then slump on the couch with a brew and watch tele.

PS Sales are slow this month because I'lve not done any promo so if you could spread the word for me. Thanks

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

How do the writers demonstrate the disturbed mind in their work?

Evening folks,

The rewrite is progressing quite well so I won't bore you with that. Sales are slow but I haven't done any promo for weeks. On the plus side a chap at work is about to start reading a paperback copy of The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe.

In other news I came home tonight to a request from the wife. Her oldest niece has to do some sort of essay based test on Thursday which answers the question I've used as the title of this post. The texts in question are Macbeth and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Now this might seem odd, or not, but it was actually thoroughly interesting. I have the necessary qualifications to help with this sort of thing in terms of related exam results and degrees but it's not every day someone asks for my help writing an essay.

I do have a decent working knowledge of both books but obviously I don't read them regularly. Anyway, I had a quick flick through my copies of both, then a quick look on Google, made some notes and rang the girl. Apparently the class had never studied Jekyll and Hyde which doesn't bode well for the essay but I have to admit her knowledge of Shakespeare's text was pretty good and she had a good grasp of the relevant themes.

Anyway, I talked her through my ideas, kept it simple, suggested she compare and contrast, use the obvious character elements, the environment and then back up her points with relevant quotes. It seems I must have done something right as she posted a Twitter message later saying it made sense now and asked if she could make notes and then email it tomorrow for feedback. Needless to say the wife is delighted with my efforts.

For my part it was great to delve into the books again and I actually wrote four pages of notes on the topic and could happily have written the essay. Pity I spend my days dealing in numbers and figures rather than words. Ho hum.

Anyway, time for bed. Until next time...

Saturday, 10 November 2012

French sales, choking and chimney sweeps

Evening gang!

Exciting news. I've only gone and sold a copy of Playground Cool in France. Why is this a big deal? I suppose it's not in the wider context but I generally sell sod all in Europe unless I'm doing a promo of some sort. Whoever you are...merci! You see what I did there?

In other news, as per my previous post I was struggling creatively so me and the wife went to watch Skyfall the other night. Blimey it's good. Good story, plenty in it for the long term Bond fan, some brave decisions in terms of key characters and all the usual stunt madness you'd expect. Top drawer.

We also went to our local pub for tea the night after which was excellent as ever. A particular highlight was a woman choking. Hang on! I don't mean that it was a highlight to see her choking obviously. You see, I live in a bit of a leafy village full of doctors and retired well to do types. I'm the youngest person on my street by a distance, and the poorest. So the village pub is generally filled with these folk on a nightly basis and it's a bit of a running joke with my friends i.e. the best place to collapse is in my pub because half the NHS are in there every night. So this woman suddenly jumps up from her tea, clearly struggling and immediately someone says "Don't worry love, there's a doctor sat there" and points to the table next to ours.

Anyway the lady was fine, blockage cleared, she sat down and carried on with her tea. It rather summed up where I live and supported the running joke. If you need a doctor, head for the pub.

So after so much entertainment I was all refreshed and ready for some writing. A big help in getting me back into the mood was the superb Imagine the other night featuring Ian Rankin. Today I edited thirty plus pages and am aiming to do the same tomorrow. Good times.

Speaking of Ian Rankin, my tickets arrived today. For our wedding anniversary the wife is taking me to Preston to a reading and signing with my fave writer. Hurrah! Well done wife.

Did I mention we had the chimney swept as well? What a life I lead.

Anyway, enough rambling. Bottom line is, the muse has returned and the book is back on track.

Night folks.

Monday, 5 November 2012

How do you manage distractions?

Evening gang,

I've been away, but now I'm back.

Pardon the dodgy quote from The Shining but I went to a special Halloween screening last Wednesday and it was awesome. It was the extended US version and it remains one of my favourite films and both the film and particularly the book have been a constant source of inspiration.

Examples? Okay. In my book All the fun of the fair the bar in the Narracott hotel is called the Overlook after the hotel in King's book. The scene in the ballroom is based on the party scenes in The Shining. Ben Torrance, in my book Playground Cool, takes his name from Jack in the Stephen King original. There's more but I'd have to refer to the books themselves to remind myself. The point is, it's one of the best stories King has written and, even though the film differs from the book, it's powerful largely because of the central performance by Jack Nicholson and the awesome camera work.

As regular readers will know I've got two books on the verge of publication yet the editing process has stalled. Why? Too much else going on coupled with a little bit of writing fatigue. I wrote the sequel to the Jazz Cafe in a matter of months while working full time. I then started to edit a book from the back catalogue days later.

End result? I stare at the pages and nothing happens. It's occurred before and I know I just need time to recharge. I never know how long but all of a sudden it will hit me and I won't be able to keep up. But for now we appear to be done. Does this mean the books won't be out before Christmas? Maybe it does. But that's okay. You can't force it. Or you can, but the result will never be quite right.

So that's it in a nutshell. I'm now distracted. Trips to the cinema, the local pub, work is frantic and driving me mad and I lack the motivation in the evening to write. But only for now.

My question is this? How do you manage your distractions? Work, kids, tele, life. Stuff gets in the way. This stuff is fine for everyone else, that's their life. But to us writers all that is research, background noise, a distraction from the real purpose. But when the words won't flow it can be very hard to turn off X Factor or not sink another beer. Yet when I'm in the middle of a story the tele could be on full blast and I wouldn't even notice.

So for tonight I'm just going to write this blog piece and that will be enough. Tomorrow I'll chalk off another day at work and pray for a lottery win to end that particular misery. I'll keep doing that until one day the words turn up and drag me off on the next leg of our adventure.

On the plus side there's plenty of football on the box this week and we're planning a trip to see Skyfall later in the week so it's all good.

Carry on...

PS While I was just on Amazon UK grabbing the links for this blog I noticed I've now got 9 reviews for the Jazz Cafe, 8 of which are 5*. The other is a 3* and it's tone is totally different to the other reviews which makes me wonder if it's from someone I've upset. Or I'm just unable to accept someone was not totally in love with my book. Either way, it's great to know folk like what I'm doing.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

What do you do when the wife's away?

Evening folks,

I'll start on a positive. I've just this minute finished the first draft of a book from my back catalogue. Originally written in 2006 it has been sitting quietly waiting for me to pick it up again. So far all I've done is a read through and then a sweep of obvious typo errors, changed a few names and tweaked some layout stuff, as well as confirming there's enough there to work on with a view to publishing it.

As things stand I now have two books at this stage, the other being the sequel to The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe. I haven't decided which to work on first but it's a great position to find myself in. Also great was the unexpected entry of my short story The Storyteller into the top 10 in it's category on Amazon UK this week. I rarely promote this story and yet it continues to sell. Thanks to those who bought it.

As you might have guessed the above partly answers the post title. The wife has been away since Thursday so I've had plenty of time to write. I've also been staying up late, drinking beer, watching films, football and playing on the Xbox. So essentially, the answer to the question in my case seems to be: I revert to behaving like a teenager.

Incidentally the film I watched last night is called Will. It's about a kid who loses both parents so he hitchhikes to Istanbul to watch Liverpool in the Champions League final because he's a huge fan. It was pretty awful to be honest and I was expecting a lot since Damian Lewis is in it and I'm a big Liverpool fan. Lewis dies early on, it's really a bit part. The story is lightweight and unbelievable and I only sat through it in case they showed any of the final itself. They didn't.

By the way, I may or may not have mentioned that I've got tickets to see The Rolling Stones next month as the O2. We're all very excited but I was a little concerned at the footage released of the Stones warm up gig in Paris. Admittedly the clip was very short but the sound was poor and the tempo slow. Fingers crossed they pull it out of the bag on the night.

And that's the news. Two books nearing publication, Barcelona on the tele and winning 4-0 and the merseyside derby on tomorrow lunchtime before the return of the wife later on.

As ever, thanks for buying, reading and hopefully enjoying my books. When the new stuff is ready to go I'll announce it here first.

Beer time I think.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

How do you deal with rejection?

Evening folks,

You might remember that I submitted an extract of The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe to Blake Friedmann a while ago. Of course you'd be forgiven for not remembering since this happened on the 8th July. Anyway, last night I finally decided to send a tweet to Carole Blake asking for an update.

Good news! I recieved a response today. Sadly it was, rather predictably, a standard rejection. Now I'm not new to this and I was pretty much expecting it but whenever I recieve another rejection it makes me think about failure etc. So how do you deal with rejection? Particularly with something so personal as a book. I spend months and years writing these stories and they are generally rejected with a few lines in an email.

It used to really get to me. This latest one has not really registered, aside from prompting me to write this blog post. It's not affecting me writing more material and I'm not sulking. In fact I'm about to go to the pub for tea and a few ales. Hurrah!

Anyway, that's all for now. Progress on the editing is going well and the initial revisions should be complete by the weekend.

Carry on.

Friday, 19 October 2012

How do you measure success?

Evening folks,

It's been a week since my last post which isn't like me. That's how busy I've been this week.

The day job has been a bit lively this week which is always frustrating but I should finally be leaving to begin my new role within the next two-three weeks. It can't come soon enough.

On the plus side I finished the read through of the manuscript and have done initial edits of more than sixty pages. The weekend plan is to plough on with it. Certainly the plot is good, better than I realised at the time and still very, very topical given that one of the main plot lines was featured on the news just this week. I'm being a bit cryptic but I'll start telling you all about it when it's ready to publish.

I've done less than expected, partly because of work but also because I went to see Crossfire Hurricane, the new Rolling Stones film, on Thursday evening. To be honest I didn't learn anything I didn't already know but the music was great. I also managed to get tickets for one of their upcoming shows at the O2 in London. Very expensive but we're very excited. The wife has never seen the Stones before so she has no idea what to expect.

I've just seen tonight that there was trouble at the Leeds - Sheffield Weds match. Fans chanting, fans on the pitch, goalkeeper punched. On the back of the Olympics the nation came together. It's taken football mere weeks to undo a lot of that with the racism rows and now this latest mess. In the 80's British clubs were banned from European competition for years because of fan trouble. So why not hit offenders, anywhere in the world, where is hurts? Fines don't work with the very rich. Stopping then participating hurts a lot.

But the title of this post is about success. Footballers are paid fortunes. Are they successful whether they win or lose? Does a higher salary make you more successful? I used to think so. What about having a happy marriage and healthy kids?

Hard to say. But lately I've come to believe that if you can wake up each day and do the thing you love then that must make you pretty successful. My goal, as you all know, is to be a successful writer. So how do I define that? Well, I used to want the massive advance, to be Stephen King etc.

Now that's changed. I want to sell enough books to make a living, so that I can get up each day and write more stories. Easy thing to say and write down, very hard to make it happen. But that's where ambition comes in. Success comes from drive, talent, ambition etc. You don't get anything in any field without trying and trying. Whether it's sport, music, writing. So I keep going, keep writing, squeezing in a bit of promo where I can and I'm grateful for every sale and every review. Each sale is a success. The trick now is to increase the success to achieve the goal.

Right, I'm going to have a late Friday night ale, a pizza and who knows what else.

Until next time, thanks for reading this blog, the traffic is pretty impressive. Hopefully I'll have more books for you enjoy very soon.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A timely reminder of my goals...

Evening gang,

On the back of completing the first draft of the new Jazz Cafe book I have begun revisions/editing of a book from my back catalogue which, at the time of writing, I called The Trust. I have so far read and made revisions to over 160 pages and I can honestly say that parts of the first 100 pages are as good as anything I've written. I remember thinking at the time that the intro was particularly good and now, years later (the book was written in 2006) I still think that.

The story holds together well and the characters, particularly the two central players, are solid and well formed. One surprise has been the emergence of one of the peripheral characters. I now see him in a more pivotal role and even appearing in future books along with his colleague from The Trust.

That said there are plenty of areas for revision. I've been a bit quick with my pacing and a bit too keen with my murder scenes and I think now I'm going to introduce some first person elements to the book in the style of Jo Nesbo. We shall see. All being well, it will be finished and published in time for Christmas.

In other news I met a fan today! Regular readers may recall I mentioned that a lady who works with my wife had bought a paperback copy of The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe. She has read it and loved it and today asked my wife if she could meet me. So when I pulled up to collect her the lady trotted out and said hello. It was a bizarre but wonderful moment which I could very much get used to. In addition, a work colleague of my own enjoyed Playground Cool enough to buy The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe and today he said he has yet to read it because his own wife cannot put it down. Big smile on my face!

These two events more than made up for being back at work. It's been two days now and it's as miserable as ever and, as the post title suggests, has served as a timely reminder that there is so much more in this world than clocking in for the benefit of someone else. I've said it before and I stand by it. My last day cannot come soon enough.

But until then, the plan remains unchanged. Keep writing, keep doing promo when I can and make sure I appreciate every sale and all the great feedback I receive.

I'd best go. There's a gin on the bedside cabinet that requires my attention.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

It's finished!

Afternoon folks,

As the title suggests the first draft of my new book is complete. I finished it about ten minutes ago, it's currently 83,560 words long and has more plot holes in it than a well worn vest. But that's what the second draft is for.

For now I'm going to bask in the feeling of getting there in what, for me, is a short space of time (about six months). I'll ignore it for a while now as I'm planning to start editing a book from my back catalogue for publication. When that's done I'll return for a second draft and hopefully have it out in time for Christmas.

In other news one of my Goodreads chums has a new blog which I've included links for. She's a big supporter of Indie Authors in terms of reviews so check it out. I'm deighted to say that a review of one of my books is featured on the blog too. Yay!

Finally, and in relation to nothing. I received my new mobile today. It's the one James Bond will be using in the upcoming 007 movie Skyfall and, being a bit of a geek, I bloody love it. Not least because the ringtone is the Bond theme.

Right that's it for today. I'm having Indian for tea and then hitting the ale. It's been a very, very good day.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

How long does it take to write a book?

Evening folks,

Italy was awesome thanks for asking. I'd recommend seeing more than one city in a trip as you get a great opportunity to compare and contrast different places. Venice is lovely but so different to Rome. Also, despite what everyone had told us, the wife and I both preferred Rome, although we would definitely return to both places. By the way, the pic below is the view of the grand canal from one of our windows. Needless to say one of the better rooms I've stayed in.

I'd also recommend the cross Europe sleeper as an option if you can afford it and don't like flying. It's a fun experience although not exactly the height of luxury. I've attached a couple of links so you can see for yourself. Bottom line is, you get a bed, decent tea, there's a bar and you see all sorts out of the window. It was slightly surreal being in Dijon station at half ten at night, but pretty cool. Either way, we didn't sleep great but enough to arrive in Venice at breakfast time (we had breakfast on the train too), check in to our hotel (with the above view) and spend the day sight seeing.

But the point of this post is the writing. I wrote thousands of words while I was away including a 2000 word session on the train from Venice to Italy which was super. There's a lot to be said for typing away with a glass of wine while the grand canal is only a few feet away. Again, strange but very cool. I also sold plenty of books last month which was very encouraging.

So where am I up to? As of today I've written over 82,000 words of the new book and should have a completed draft tomorrow. Needless to say I'll announce something when it's done. Which brings me to the title of this post. How long does it take to write a book? Well, assuming I finish it tomorrow this book will have taken just over six months which doesn't feel like long at all.

In other news I've had some lovely reviews lately as well. Here's a few words from someone who finished reading All the fun of the Fair this week:

"Just finished All the Fun of the Fair. Gutted it ended!! Absolutely loved Alfie from the moment I met him, tania was fantastic, reminded me a lot of myself in my youth lol, and as for lee I hope he gets an incurable STD."

This person has since purchased a copy of The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe so fingers crossed they enjoy that too.

Anyway, I'm having an easy night tonight since I'm still off work and I've been writing all day. Tele and ale is the plan. Hopefully I'll have a finished novel to tell you about tomorrow along with a couple of other developments.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

When in Rome...

Afternoon all,

It's raining in Rome! It was amusing as it began to drizzle watching the locals run for cover or put up their umbrellas. Meanwhile, the wife and I were happily wandering about in short sleeves as we are used to the weather in the north of England. All the illegal street traders immediately went from offering knock off bags and toys to offering umbrellas. Talk about supply and demand.

Had a wander round St Peter's today. Big old spot that and mighty impressive too. Plenty of folk had warned me about queues in Italy. So far the only waiting I've done was for the Colisseum and that was a good hour. But then it was Saturday afternoon. But we were straight into everywhere else.

I was intrigued by the majority who seemed more intent on photographing every element of the buildings while seeming to notice none of them. Even a basic google search will produce all the pictures one could ever wish to see of all the things in the Basilica for example. So I was more than happy to simply stand in the place and experience it. I'd much rather look at the sights with my own eyes than down the lense of the latest Canon camera. Still, each to their own.

Anyway, we've seen plenty of stuff on our Italian tour, both in Venice and here in Rome. I've also just about finished the first draft of the novel. The plan is to do a bit now, bit more on the plane home tomorrow and then see how the rest of the week plays out. I might even post a few holiday snaps on here if I can be bothered although I tend to take pictures of random things like the tea and cakes we had in a tea room next to the Spanish steps (British couple wandered in. Wife was grumbling. "Why pay 10 Euro for a cup of tea? There's a kettle in the room") rather than obvious attractions which you can Google for yourselves.

Right, I've got typing to do. Hopefully it will distract me from the frightening amount of money this trip has cost us. The wife's already fretting about it and we haven't even got home yet. Bless.

Until next time...

Friday, 28 September 2012

First post from Venice

Morning all,

This will be a brief post because it is being written on the wife's Blackberry on the steps of the train station in Venice.

Needless to say we've had an awesome time and I've very nearly finished the first draft of the new book.

Sales are good too so maybe I should go away more often.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Am I brave enough to write full time?

Evening folks,

Let me open by saying I am shattered. I've dragged myself through the last few days and the writing output has suffered a little. I didn't write anything yesterday. That was the first time in weeks, maybe even months that this has been the case and I was thoroughly frustrated by it. Today I'm more tired than yesterday but I have made myself write about 700 words and may do a little more. I am also writing this post.

There is light at the end of the tunnel however. For a start tomorrow is my last day at work before I have 2 weeks off on holiday and it cannot come soon enough. Hopefully I will finish the book while I am off.

This leads me to the question, am I brave enough to jack it all in and back myself to write books full time? If it were just me then the answer is probably yes. But I find myself in the position of having a superb wife, house and rather comfy lifestyle which I am not mad keen to lose. So what to do?

Well, I have just got another job which will, in theory, allow me more time to write. Also, it's only a 12 month contract so there is a possibilty I can work for another year, save as much as possible from the new job and then get a healthy redundancy package on top. This would allow me the freedom to do pretty much nothing but write for a year without worrying about the bills.

In other news Carole Blake of Blake Friedmann has accepted my friend request on Facebook. Good news. She still hasn't got round to rejecting my submission either so fingers crossed.

Also, The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe is selling really well this month in the UK and sales overall are great so far this month here. If my US chums could be persuaded to buy a few copies that would be marvellous.

Finally, a lady at the local hospice asked for a signed copy of the jazz cafe paperback this week which was nice. Also, the fund raising manager there has proposed a joint promotion where I donate some of my books, signed, and the hospice either raffle them off or something similar. Good for them, great for me. I'll let you know how it pans out.

Until next time...

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Book submissions, Andy Murray and Hillsborough

Evening gang,

Been a lot happening this week.

First off, the Tour of Britain cycling has been in my neck of the woods this week, in fact a few minutes away from where I work. They don't half shift as well those Olympic riders. Crowds have been good too on the back of the awesome summer of sport we've enjoyed.

Which leads me nicely into a belated "well done" to Andy Murray. Regular readers will know I'm a huge Federer fan and not a massive Murray fan. But in the US Open final he went the distance with Djokovic and came out on top. A Brit winning a Grand Slam? After so many pretenders who really thought we'd ever see that? As such, full marks Andy. He might even make a liar out of me and win Wimbledon. Assuming Federer, Nadal and Djokovic let him.

Recent readers will also know I sent an extract to Sparkling Books which was swiftly rejected. Undeterred I sent them something else which has also been rejected. Still, at least they don't leave you hanging. I've been waiting months for something from Blake Friedmann.

Lastly, I've written over 66,000 words on the new book and still hope to have a draft by the end of this month.

And now onto the genuine big news of the week. The Hillsborough Independent Panel published it's report into what happened that dreadful day in South Yorkshire. There is no need for me to tell anyone about it, it's part of our history and everyone should know what took place. It all comes down to two numbers.96 and 23. Two numbers which have come to represent loss and a fight for truth and justice.

I, like so many millions, am a fan of Liverpool Football Club. That in no way qualifies me to comment on what happened that day or the aftermath. But I will say this. In a summer which has seen the country brought together in unprecedented fashion by sport, it is the dedication, committment and refusal of a community which has brought about the publication of this report which so many senior officials hoped would never see the light of day. Ignored, abused, belittled and igored some more, this group have held firm, swelled their ranks and demanded justice.

They perhaps feel they still have a way to go before they can rest but, as an outsider looking on, they should be, if not applauded, then at least commended for their tireless efforts to make this happen despite the barriers set before them. I am merely a fan of the mighty Liverpool Football Club. I love the history, the records, the players past and present and on the occasions I get to Anfield my heart races and I always pause at the top of the steps to take it all in before I sit down.

The publication of this report and the vindication of the families in their pursuit of justice makes me proud to be associated with the club even in the very small way I am. I perhaps could have summed all of this up in a much more concise way.

You'll never walk alone.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Wattpad and the Paralympics

Evening folks,

Really quick one. About 65000 words of the new book written. I've also finally done something positive with my Wattpad account and added some work. You can now read the opening scenes of my book All the fun of the fair on Wattpad now.

But before you race off to do that, check out the closing ceremony for the Paralympics. It's pretty impressive. I believe some very, very large countries haven't been screening the games. Very much your loss I'm afraid. From what I gather online US audiences are as keen as everyone else to see the games and there's a massive US team. I hope broadcasters over there catch on eventually.

That's all for now.

Do you fancy coming to Lancaster Litfest?

Morning folks,

The programme for the upcoming Lancaster Litfest was in the post this morning. It all kicks off on the 17th October and if you've any interest in poetry, fiction, writing or reading in general then come along and have a look.

Just to give you an idea of what might happen. At last years event I met Ian Rankin, he signed my book and saw him again later in the pub over the road. Basically I met one of my favourite authors and it cost next to nothing. How cool? Very!

Anyway, I've littered the above with links so check it out and hopefully we'll see you there. I'll be the one not performing or appearing in any events despite being a local author. Litfest organisers - an invite to do something next year would be much appreciated!!

Right, it's late and I've just bought the new Blu Ray version of Jaws which I'm keen to watch. So in short:

A thick fog has rolled across the bay in the last couple of hours following an impressive sunset so I've spent all night quoting things from the film The Fog. The wife has not seen the film and is not impressed.

We watched Black Swan and weren't thrilled with that either, despite the very lovely Natalie Portman being in it. I spent a lot of the film saying I thought the mother daughter relationship was similar to the one in Carrie. Something to ponder.

Finally, huuuuge thanks to everyone in the UK who has been buying The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe. I'm not sure what has prompted the sudden spike but it's very exciting to see it bouncing up the Amazon charts. Still very little love for it in America though. Come on America, you're missing out! You don't want little old Britain to be ahead of you on this. Quick, start buying my book and show us who's best.

Okay, enough. Movie time.....

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Apparently I lack sparkle, unlike Michael Clarke Duncan

Morning readers,

Sad news about Michael Clarke Duncan. I know everyone's saying it now, but how awesome was he in The Green Mile? It's a great story anyway but he really made the role his own. I'm not going to pretend I followed his career with any great interest but he was superb in that film. I am also an avid viewer of Two and a Half Men and, if you've watched it, you'll know he appeared in a few episodes and was comfortable doing comedy too. 54 is no age at all and it's a terrible loss.

In other more book related news regular readers will know I submitted an extract to Sparkling Books. Well, true to their word, they responded quickly enough. Sadly it was negative. Undeterred, I have tonight sent them a chunk of All the fun of the Fair to consider. No harm in trying right?

Also, you might have spotted a few media outlets picking up on the subject of sock-puppeting. No? In short it's the practice of using fake/false accounts to give oneself glowing reviews of books, while often posting negative reviews of other authors work. It's not for me to judge what others do, though I certainly don't codone it and I'm not defending it. What I will say is that I can see why a lesser known writer might do it, simply as a marketing tool to generate sales. A bit like my mother posting a glowing review of my books (although it took her long enough).

What I don't understand is why established authors, best sellers and even award winners, would engage in sock puppeting. What's the point? Anyway, if there was a way of preventing it then there'd be nothing to talk about so perhaps that's the way to go.

Until next time...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

What does Ford Madox Ford mean to you?

Evening folks,

As I sit here watching a recording of Roger Federer mauling a Spaniard who isn't Nadal at the US Open, I've been pondering the last decade (and a bit) of my writing life. Why? Because the BBC are showing Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford and that made me think.

You see, many years ago, when I was much more active in my efforts to avoid gainful employment I went to university. There was zero career plan. I just knew I was bright enough, because most people are, and I had no desire to continue working nights at the local supermarket.

After collecting my first degree, I still had very little idea job wise so I began to write a book. I don't recall exactly why or how this came about. But, under pressure to do something, I decided to apply for the new MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. The course leader was Michael Schmidt.

I quickly learned that he is a remarkable chap. Wildly intelligent with a great sense of humour, very patient with students like me who don't try as hard as they might and, it transpired, the man in charge of Carcanet Publishers. I had read, at some point, The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. I had loved it and one evening, in general conversation with Michael, Ford came up. I mentioned The Good Soldier, his eyes lit up and he vanished from the room only to return minutes later clutching copies of The Good Soldier and Parade's End.

Fast forward to tonight. The wife was watching a programme on the BBC about the Parade's End adaptation and mentioned she'd like to read it. My eyes lit up, I vanished from the room only to return minutes later clutching the copy of Parade's End given to me years earlier at university.

That got me thinking. It was during my first year at Manchester that I completed my first novel, Playground Cool. Michael was a fan, as was tutor Sophie Hannah, now making a name for herself as a crime writer of the highest order. When I approached the agent Vivien Green she rang Michael to ask about me and he apparently said only positive things.

Many things have happened since then. I got the MA, obviously, I've got married, bought a house and now have what I used to refer to as a "proper" job. But I still write books, I still view it as the thing I want to do for a living. Playground Cool sells quite well and the paperback sits on a shelf not too far from The Good Soldier, I like the link between them.

And I suppose that's the point of this blog, to consider the journey, mine and the writing. The next book is nearly finished, and there'll be another after that. But the journey began properly back then. I could have stayed at the supermarket (Freshco as Michael used to refer to it) and who knows what I'd be doing now. So that, in a very round the houses way, is that Ford Madox Ford means to me. Yes, I love The Good Soldier, but the name will always remind me of my MA, of Michael and of writing my first novel.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

US Open Tennis, late nights and a new job

Morning all,

Been raining again here in the north of England. I say 'again', it hasn't really stopped all year or so it seems. Officially the wettest summer in 100 years I think I read somewhere today. Perfect weather for writing books you would think.

Being back at work this week has had an impact though I've managed to write 500 words each day. The thing is I've just got a new job which will start in the next month or so and I'll have to pull my finger out a bit because it's a fairly huge promotion. This is awkward as my routine tends to be, get up and go to work, come home and sleep on couch, then stay up until middle of the night drinking ale, writing, watching (currently) the US Open tennis (though it could equally be the golf, a film or the Xbox) and then stumble into work again.

Anyway, we'll see how that pans out. On the plus side I've written 57000 words of the new book and All the fun of the Fair has been ordered by the local libraries which is very cool. Even more cool, and surprising, is that someone has bought a paperback copy of The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe from Createspace. Whoever you are, I'm very grateful and I hope you enjoy it.

The plan tomorrow is a significant lie in, then hit the supermarket and spend the rest of the day writing because on Sunday, hopefully, I'm off to Anfield to watch Liverpool play Arsenal. Clint Dempsey won't be lining up for the reds as we didn't sign him which was a surprise to all concerned. Still, I'm sure the manager has it all in hand.

Right, I'm off for a sandwich and an ale before bed. As ever, it's been a pleasure.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Do my books Sparkle?

Morning gang,

Really quick one tonight because I'm exhausted. First day back at work today, late to bed last night. Hard day.

Anyway, I've still managed a quick 500 words on the latest blockbuster but the big news is that I've submitted the first chapter of The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe to my new chums at Sparkling Books. I freely admit I'd never heard of them but they followed me on Twitter. I had a look at their website and thought it wouldn't hurt.

They seem keen on self promo by the author which as an Indie I do anyway but any help they can offer will be appreciated, assuming they don't want 95% rights to my books in return for a £300 advance.

Anyway, it can't hurt so I'll let you know the outcome.

Right, quick look at the tennis scores and then bed to plough on with Perfect People by Peter James.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Lance Armstrong and buying reviews

Evening folks,

Just a quick one tonight as there's US Open tennis on shortly. In case you're not a fan it's day one and the maestro himself is playing in the last session. There's a strong chance I'll miss it because it'll be on very late here in the UK and I have to be on the road for work at 8AM.

It's my first day back tomorrow after just over a week off. It's been a great week too. Written just over 55,000 words of the new novel, had some in laws round for a BBQ which went better than I anticipated and both myself and the wife are much more relaxed. We finally bought new lamps for the bedroom too as mine was producing an unpleasant burning smell when in use which was driving the wife mad. She's very happy with them in case you were curious.

Anyway, the goal now is to maintain some momentum with the novel as I only have 19 working days until I am off again for two more weeks. I'm hoping to finish the first draft of the novel in that period. Based on my other novels this one will be between 80,000 and 85,000 words so I'm nearly there.

Finally, what thoughts does anyone have on buying reviews for books? I read an article in the NY Times where a chap set up a company where an author could buy reviews of their books for marketing purposes. It's all a bit seedy and not something I'm comfortable with but then again, I can see why people do it i.e. to get sales, to get noticed, to get ahead. To me it's a form of cheating, a bit like doping in sport since that's a hot topic at the moment (Lance Armstrong - guilty or just pissed off the wrong people?) and I don't agree with it.

Anyway, there's a beef sandwich and a frosty ale waiting for me...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Is my blog a success?

Afternoon folks,

Shocking weather we're having. It's my fault. I said I was aiming to mow the lawn today because we're thinking of having a little family Barbeque tomorrow afternoon. Brother in law and his wife and kid, football on the big screen, some awesome chicken kebabs marinated in Nando's Peri Peri sauce. Except there's weeding to be done and grass to be mowed and it's wet outside.

On the plus side I have already written 1200 words today and think I will probably get 2000 done before bed. Not much by many standards but plenty by my own. That will mean I've done in the region of 54000 words of the follow up to The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe. Hurrah.

It's been a steady month of sales so far. Started off quick and then nothing for several days and then a couple overnight. It's a long way from being enough to live off but my plan remains unchanged. Keep writing, increase the catalogue and then, when redundancy comes my way, treat that as my chance to write full time.

The title of today's post relates to the fact that I have had about 3000 views of the blog since I started it which got me wondering, how do I judge if it's been successful or not. I quite enjoy writing it and my stats tell me people all over the world are reading it. But I don't think it's leading to sales of my books and, to be honest, I'm not sure anything other than luck and word of mouth ever will. I do most of the things all the books and blogs recommend in terms of web presence and promotion but my sales tend to remain pretty similar no matter what I do.

Luckily I didn't start this adventure to become the next Peter James or even EL James. I just like telling stories and I really like that people all over the world have read them. It's all the motivation I need to keep doing it. That said, it would be great to have enough money to do it full time without the distraction of a full time day job.

Just as an aside, Blake Friedman have just launched a new agency Twitter account on top of their indivdual agent accounts. I mention this purely because, as part of my ongoing but infrequent attempts to get an agent, I have an extract of the Jazz Cafe with Carole Blake. It's been there for a while now but, judging by all the stuff she gets up to, it's a wonder she finds time to read any submissions. Carole, if you stumble across this blog, I'm a dynamic and charming young man ideal for radio and tele promotion and appearances in book shops. Plus my books are really good (he adds subjectively).

We all know that being at the forefront of a new wave helps, like EL James and her mummy porn. The shops are rapidly fillng up with similar books, with similar covers. So if seaside crime fiction in the north of England ever takes off, I expect to be leading the charge! Peter James can be in charge of the southern end.

Anyway, I'd best get back to it because I might struggle to write much tomorrow since Liverpool are playing at 4PM, there's the BBQ to prepare for and we're aiming for a couple of hours in the local pub before closing as it's a Bank Holiday.

Thanks to my blog followers and regular readers for supporting this blog, much appreciated. Until next time...

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Hi India, Welcome aboard!

Another quick post folks because I'm about to have a leisurely amble into town with the wife. It's blustery out and the view across the bay from the window is pretty awesome so we're going to walk down the promenade. I suspect we'll end up in Costa sharing a cake.

Anyway, the point of this post is to say a big hello to all my new chums in India. This morning I received my Kindle email informing me that Amazon.com is available in India. I logged onto my publishing aacount and sure enough, India is now listed.

I am far too excited at the prospect of selling my first book in India. I already get some blog traffic from that part of the world so hopefully it won't be too long coming.I was all overcome when I sold my first book in the US, and I was giddy for days when I sold a book in Germany. I realise that writers who sell in vast numbers might not share my excitement but since I sell in dozens rather than millions (for now) then every sale has an impact.

I shall report back as soon as I'm aware of my first sale!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Do you fancy a Kindle alternative?

Evening folks,

US readers are already able to enjoy their ebooks on a wide variety of devices. One which seems popular is the Nook by Barnes and Noble. In the UK Kindle is king, while everyone else has an Ipad, although a few folk have got the Sony Ereader.

Now, however, we're about to get the Nook in the UK as well. Apparently it's due for release in October. Why is this interesting to me? Because all my books are already available on Nook so if you do get one for Christmas, you can go straight to the B&N website and grab yourself a copy.


Right, that's all for now. I'm still quite hungover from last night and I'm struggling with the plot of the new book today as well.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Liverpool FC, my gran and a haircut

Afternoon folks,

What a marvellous day! Why you ask? Lots of reasons.

First of all today is the first day of the Premiership and, moreso than any other season, the players are in the spotlight to show a little humility and class. This is because of the frankly staggering success of the Olympics in London, not least the performance of the Team GB athletes and the way they conducted themselves, footballers have been in the spotlight a bit. They get paid unbelievable sums and, in some cases, have awful disciplinary records and are dreadful role models for children.

England manager Roy Hodgson commented on this following the Community Shield game last weekend, and since then this piece has appeared on the BBC website featuring comments from Hunter Davies, Michael Owen and others. My own view? I wish we could have Olympics every weekend and I was delighted to see that the BBC were showing highlights of the Opening Ceremony today.

But today is also great because it's my grans birthday. I took her a small gift and a card and am now attending an organ recital with my grandad tomorrow. It actually works out well because the wife's out tomorrow evening but when we both get back we're going to go to the pub.

Why go to the pub on a Sunday night? That's the other good thing. I'm off work for a week!! Hurrah. A full week of writing and staying in bed. Epic.

As I write this, prouly wearing my new Liverpool shirt, West Brom have scored. Bad start for the reds.

The reason I have time to be writing, watching football and typing this blog? The wife's out having her hair done. First time in about 20 years that someone new has been let loose on it. Early reports are that it's gone well. So, all in all, a great day. Especially when you factor in that I've sold a couple of books today as well.

Later on? Federer in the Cincinnati Masters semi final and footy highlights. All good.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Is there a link between my Olympic photos and book sales?

Evening gang,

Is it just me or did today feel like the first day back at work after a holiday? It's like everyone woke up and realised they had a life outside of the magic world of the olympics.

It was interesting to witness the cynicism return to Twitter. We've had two weeks of really positive trends, huge support for Danny Boyle, Team GB and the individual athletes and then last night it began with a systematic dismantling of the closing ceremony online. Pity, I for one was hoping to stay Olympic for as long as possible. Thankfully the worldwide reception seems to have been positive and not everyone seems keen to return to their usual bitterness quite yet. Long may it continue.

In that spirit I've decided to add a couple of photographs a family member took inside the stadium on the night Usain Bolt won the 200m. Apparently words are not sufficient to describe how impressive an event it was. The first just highlights where they were sitting and how big it was, the second is the man himself.

In case you were wondering the answer to the title question is no, there isn't a link between these photos and book sales, unless reading this post leads you to buying a copy. But since I've cleverly managed to get onto the topic of books I received a nice comment on Facebook today.

A chap was looking for pictures of Art Deco buildings on the internet. His son, I think, sent him a picture of the Midland Hotel in Morecambe. He liked it and looked for more, stumbling across what he described as a spooky looking picture of the hotel which was, it turned out, the cover of my book The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe. This led him to this very blog and from there to my Facebook promo page. After that, he downloaded a copy of the book. Now that is the best example I've ever had of all my marketing, promo and links coming together and I was delighted.

Anyway, the second book in the series is progressing. It's about 45000 words in so far. Next week is going to be a review week which will hopefully lead into the final push to the end. It's going to be tight to get it done and published by the end of the year but it's good to have a goal.

Right, that's all for now. To recap. Olympics awesome. I hope we can all retain the spirit as long as possible. Keep buying my books, it makes me feel warm and safe.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

My books are on Ebay!

Morning folks,

Lovely day for an Olympic marathon.

I actually typed this post last night and then managed to catch the "delete the whole post without saving" button and was too tired/drunk to retype it. Mind you it was 2:30AM and I was watching a film.

Anyway, as the title suggests, my paperbacks are now available on Ebay. It's nothing to do with me. I was on Ebay looking at original Millenium Falcons and decided to search for myself, no idea why. I was genuinely surprised when two of my books appeared. They're very expensive because whoever is selling them has added a couple of quid for themselves. They won't sell any but it's worth having a look next time your on Ebay. As ever, I've included subtle links throughout this paragraph.

In another twist, after a couple of months of low sales in America, this month I have sold twice as many books in the US as I have in the UK. Hurrah. Also, in case you missed it, The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe is still available for free via Smashwords. Just use coupon code SW52C at the checkout.

By the way, the film I watched was called Panic Button and it was quite good although it didn't seem to feature, or make any reference to, a panic button.

Right, I'm going to do a bit of work on th new novel and then perhaps an afternoon of barbeque in the garden. It's been an awesome couple of weeks, everyone loves Mo Farah and Team GB are good at sport in a way nobody expected. God knows what we're going to do for fun now because the Premiership is going to be rubbish after this.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Is it important to have my books available in the public library?

Evening folks,

Another monumental effort by Team GB at the Olympics today. We've won another gold medal in the last hour in the Taekwondo courtesy of Jade Jones. We also won gold in the Women's boxing and more awesome medals in the horses! Top work all round.

Tonight saw a world record in the 800 metres too as well as Usain Bolt making history by being the first man to do the double double in retaining his sprint titles. This was significant to me particularly because I had family in the stadium tonight who apparently had an amazing time.

I and others have noticed the ongoing feelgood factor up and down the country which I think has continued on from the spectacular Jubilee earlier in the year. At the moment Britain feels like a fantastic place to live.

And now onto the books. Regular readers may recall this post where I mentioned that someone I know had requested one of my books from the local library and met with some resistance. Since then, another person who works with my wife has been into their local library to request another of my books. Again they met with a little resistance although in both cases the book, I believe, has been ordered. But nobody, least of all me, is going to get rich from royalties from lending. But it's important to me as a writer to have my books as widely available as possible. I honestly feel that libraries should be actively supporting writers, especially ones local to them.

Still, it's done now and when I hear that the books are on the shelf I plan to wander in and have a look just for my own satisfaction, my own feelgood moment.

In other news, the follow up to The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe is progressing well. I have written over 42,000 words so far although I am struggling to hold onto the plot in places and some careful editing will be required when it's completed. The plan remains the same. Finish the book then put it away and publish a book from the back catalogue. Then I'm either going to publish the new book or.....

I'm not going to tell you what the other option is just yet. But it's something I've had on the back burner for about three years and the idea has never gone away. If I pursue it, I'll announce it here first.

Right, beer and pizza time until the small hours before one more day of work until the weekend.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, the long jump & crumpets

Evening all,

So then, Team GB won a few epic gold medals today. Jessica Ennis will get all the headlines and rightly so, she's the best at what she does and looks stunning. But hands up how many folk had heard of Greg Rutherford before tonight? And now he's the Long Jump Olympic champion. As for Mo Farah, he's been good enough for ages, he just needed the Olympics to come round so he could prove it.

The thing is, it was all so exciting before this. I spent all day glued to the 100m qualifying, Serena winning the tennis, the rowing, the cycling. Utterly immense. Then I realised it was almost tea time and all I'd eaten all day was two toasted crumpets and a cup of tea. That's what the Olympics does, it draws you in and takes over your life.

In an attempt to link this excitement to books in some round about way, I suppose Jess Ennis is the bestseller, the Peter James, the Stephen King, Dan Brown, the EL James. Meanwhile Greg Rutherford is...me, and all the other Indie Authors who quietly go about their business, waiting for their moment to shine and hit the big time.

Of course it's all about talent, but even more important is the support to get there. In which case go and buy my books so I can be Jessica Ennis. Failing that stick yourself in front of the tele and enjoy the greatest show on earth courtesy of Great Britain.

Friday, 3 August 2012

I'm feeling humble. It won't last.

Evening gang,

I'm watching Blur via the red button on BBC Radio 2. UK readers will know exactly what I'm on about. For everyone else, I hope you've heard of a band called Blur but if not just tap the word into Itunes or Amazon Music Store. There's over twenty years of quality music waiting for you.

Blur were arguably my favourite band growing up, along with the Rolling Stones (thanks to my dad and his vinyl). Now I'm 36, their back catalogue is attached to so many memories for me.

This is a Low - New Year night out in Lancaster, eary 90s. 2 dozen of us out together, the only time it happened. A friend turned up late and unexpected, very drunk and very upset. He sang this song as we stumbled through the town.

The Universal - Morecambe Dome, saw Blur live in the mid 90s with friends, one of whom was best man at my wedding just 2 years ago. I was best man at his 3 weeks before this.

Couple this with an awesome day for Team GB at the Olympics and I'm feeling unusally proud and humble. Not like me at all.

But in short, to those that have been there with me and done all the things we've done, I'd change nothing because we're still here doing it.

And finally to the books. I don't sell millions...yet. But to those who have bought my books all round the world, thank you. If you enjoyed them, and most seem to, even better. Stick with me, let's see where we end up. In 20 years we can look back and remember how awesome it was when the Olympics were in London.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Tired of the Olympics? Try a free book!

Afternoon all.
Obviously you're not tired of the Olympics, they're awesome. Plus Team GB started winning golds today thanks to the women rowers and Bradley 'Wiggo' Wiggins.

But if you fancy losing yourself in a 5* rated crime thriller for a few hours you can download my book The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe for free from Smashwords. That's right, any format you like for nothing.

You'll need to register with the site and then use code SW52C at the checkout.

Here's the blurb: The book begins with Mitch Johnson returning to his home town where he tells his lifelong friend, Rupert Watts, that a young woman is going to be murdered. Mitch thinks that the killing will mirror that of a schoolgirl fifteen years earlier, a crime Mitch himself was suspected of committing.
With no idea when the murder will take place, or who the victim is, the friends endeavour to find the girl before she comes to harm. But they must also contend with Don Hague, a senior councillor and central figure in the dark underbelly of the town who holds Mitch responsible for the ruin of his career and his reputation in the town. The police are watching Mitch, and they are also watching Don Hague.
Who is the girl Mitch is convinced will die? How is her death linked to the schoolgirl murder? Is Don Hague, or his associates, involved? Can Mitch and Rupert convince the police to take them seriously before it’s too late to save a girl’s life?              

So to recap. Go to Smashwords, search for Jamie Sinclair, click on The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe, and use code SW52C at the checkout and it's yours on your Kindle, Sony ereader, Ipad, anything you like.


Am I more successful than Michael Phelps?

The short and obvious answer is a loud and confident NO. He is, as of tonight, the most successful Olympian of all time in terms of medals won and it's a mighty achievement.

But humour me just for a moment. In terms of goals, mine is to be a published author. Done. I wanted to sell books. Done. In multiple countries? Done that too. So that's success right?

But of course we do rather need to quantify our success, to put a number on it and guage the degree of that success. So in those terms I'm something of a failure. I'm not a bestseller, I don't sell millions of books, I don't have a lucractive publishing deal with Hodder or Random House. I'm not Michael Phelps.

But to stick with the theme. I might end up being Michael Phelps. I still have time to sell more books, to become a best seller. At 36 I'm a long way from being too old whereas the most successful Olympic athlete in history is at the tale end of his glittering career. So I'll keep plugging away, putting in the hours, not giving up or being defeated and I will strive to achieve my goals. And that, folks, makes me Michael Phelps! Maybe.

One final note, and this will only mean something to UK readers. I searched for myself on the WH Smith website tonight and one of my books is listed. It was oddly satisfying to see my work being sold by such a British institution. Admittedly I have yet to sell any books through Smiths, but it felt good nonetheless.

Night folks, I think I'm going to do a book promo tomorrow to kickstart sales for August. I will decide exactly what format this will take during tomorrow and announce it after work.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Medals and reviews

Hi folks,

Just a quick post while I have a brew at work.

Federer is cruising inthe Olympic tennis, our omwen set an Olympic record in the rowing earlier and there's Tom Daley to come in the diving shortly. Epic!

But to more pressing news. I stumbled across a review of my book All the fun of the Fair which was quite simply bursting with enthusiasm, to the extent that I've included it here. Huge thanks to the reviewer, it's much appreciated.

"Usually, I only ever read horror. However, after being 'horrored out' on holiday in Corfu I decided to read something from a different genre and had downloaded this book a while ago. I am so glad I did. The story centres around a group of Morecambe residents. The author does an amazing job of inter-twining all the main characters to tell their individual stories. It is funny, sad and heart wrenching. What I especially liked about the book is the fact that Morecambe holds many dear memories for me and it was lovely to read about places I recognised (Happy Mount Park being one) and it gave me a nice warm fuzzy feeling! I could picture the streets of Morecambe clearly. This is a really well written book, and after reading it I am eager to read more by Jamie Sinclair. The author portrays his characters exceedingly well and the reader becomes attached to them all. He gets into the minds of the young and the old alike, seamlessly. This is a brilliant book and I am so glad I read it. Look forward to reading more by this author."

London 2012 and job applications

Evening folks,

Just a quick one tonight. How utterly awesome is the BBC coverage of the Olympics? I admit some of the commentary might be a bit mundane but in terms of the way the BBC has made the events viewable it's staggering. Press the red button, all the events on live as they happen. I've been like a kid in a sweetshop flicking between Federer on the tennis, Adlington in the pool, bit of archery, bit of Gymnastics, some diving while I had a snack, then some more swimming, bit of cycling. Brilliant!

In between all this I've applied for a new job! Just submitted the forms now. It's a huge step up from what I do now but I have the skills (on paper at least) and if I don't go for it there's next to zero chance it will come up again before I get made redundant. I'll let you know how that goes.

On top of that the new book is pouring from me. 31,800 words completed now. The aim is to keep as much momentum as I can for the next 3 weeks which will be busy at work and then I have a week off so I can hammer it then.

Sold a couple of books over the weekend too, it's never enough but thanks anyway. We also found time to go see Woman in Black in the park. If you follow me on Twitter you'll know this already but it was superb, very atmospheric in the dark with the wind rustling through the trees. Plus a young lady who had too much to drink nodded off and fell off her bench to the floor. She was fine and it was hilarious. Oddly enough the lady in question saw my Tweet about it and retweeted it!

So, as you can see, it's pretty much all go and non-stop but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

London 2012 and pink grapefruit

Afternoon everyone,

So then, how good was the opening ceremony then? Apparently 26.5 million folk stayed up to watch here in the UK. The wife and I sat pretty much mesmerised by the whole thing. I can only imagine Danny Boyle and his team will receive some sort of mention in the Queen's next honours list.

It seems that our American chums struggled to see the opening of the largest sporting event on the planet owing to NBC not showing it live. I don't know details only what I've seen on Twitter etc, but a lot of people seemed pretty unhappy that it wasnt being shown live. If it wasn't, it begs the question, what's more important than showing the opening ceremony of the Olympics?

I'm established on the couch today for a full day of olympic viewing - I am going out tonight though. Outdoor showing of Woman in Black in a local park. Hope it stays dry.

The BBC have pulled out all the stops with the coverage. They've got a fancy menu TV guide thingy where you can just click on the sport you want to watch and away you go. Epic.

The other bonus was that I discovered a tin of grapefruit in the cupboard so that became a late breakfast.

Since this is a writing blog I'd best mention the books. I've written 30,500 words of the new book so I'm still on course to have it published this year along with another from the back catalogue. My existing books are also still available on Kindle, Createspace, Smashwords, Kobo, Apple Ibook, Sony Ereader, Bibliocracy and doubtless a few more. They're all priced to sell too, except the paperbacks which are vastly over priced but look superb on a shelf.

Oh, one last thing. An associate of mine went to the local library yesterday and asked if they could order in a copy of one of my books. He was, I believe, armed with the necessary ISBN info. From what I can gather they seemed to suspect that he was, in fact, me trying to abuse the library and use them as some sort of self-promotion tool. I have to admit to being a bit miffed. After all, I thought libraries would order in pretty much any book if a customer asked for it. Add to that the fact that I'm local and it's win win all round. If I end up selling millions all of a sudden they'd have "local author" posters all over the bloody place to drag people in. Poor form!!

Now stop reading this and watch some Olympics!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Midland Hotel & the Jazz Cafe

Evening gang! Everyone okay? Excellent.

First off, how on earth does an 11 year old child get from Wythenshawe to Rome via plane on his own without a bloody passport? For God's sake the Olympics starts on Friday. Should we not be on top of security at major airports? Just in case you've missed this story here's the LINK TO THE BBC.

In other news, this picture is of the iconic Midand Hotel.

Awesome photo isn't it? Thanks to Crosby Camera Club for the image.You should see the inside of the hotel. In fact, come to Morecambe and stay there. This hotel features in my book The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe. In fact, it's on the front cover.

Not bad is it? Accordng to the reviews it's a pretty good crime thriller too. Sadly in the book the Midland is not open but being redeveloped as it was a few years ago. Then the hotel is burned down at the end. Don't worry, they build something awesome on the site for the follow up!

Anyway, that's the point of this post. I use real places in my books to ground them in reality. Makes the story more believeable. In Edinburgh you can go on an Ian Rankin Rebus tour to see the places featured in the books. I hope one day that folk will come to Morecambe and district for my books in the future and, hopefully, that will help the regeneration of the town.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Featured at Bibliocracy

Morning folks,

Just a quickie. A couple of my books are on the front page of Bibliocracy as featured books this morning which is nice. So if you don't fancy buying them from Amazon get yourself over there. All four of my books can be downloaded from Bibliocracy right now. Just search for Jamie Sinclair.

Is it just about numbers?

Morning gang,

Progress on the new book continues. I had a thinking day yesterday because I suddenly realised I was writing myself into a bit of a cul de sac. That seems to be sorted now and I've written about a 1000 words today to take the total to over 26,500. Hurrah.

I have to admit I've been sidetracked somewhat by The Open on the BBC. As ever, if you've read my profile you'll know this, I was routing for Tiger while knowing that, realistically, he would fall short. It was frustrating viewing because he was basically trying to win a Major tournament without using a driver. Such is his talent he still came third. If he ever manages to recapture his previous magic God help everyone else. The numbers are interesting. Adam Scott was winning but bogeyed the last 4 holes to leave himself level needing to par the last for a playoff with Ernie Els. He didn't. Also a big thumbs up to Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins for winning his first Tour De France. Never been done by a Brit!

Last night also saw Liverpool's first pre-season game take place against Toronto FC. Interesting largely because it was Brendan's first game in charge. What did I take from the game? That Liverpool has a lot of players on it's books, many of whom will never, ever play in the Premier League. The game was a 1-1 draw. It's a miracle I've written anything.

Right, I'd best dash, I've got to be at work in 5 and a half hours and I've got a bottle of beer to finish first.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Will this Blog Post lead to a book sale?

Hi folks and welcome to my first post since announcing the relaunch of my blog. The purpose of this post? To see if a single post can lead to

a) more traffic to this blog
b) more followers of this blog
c) increased sales of my books

It's a big ask but here we go.

Today I changed the title and description of my blog. I am going to mention that I am an English author of crime thriller books in this post. I am also going to tell you that they are set in a small seaside town called Morecambe where I grew up. Hopefully you'll wonder where that is and click the link I put in the word Morecambe. The reason I'm sharing this is because it's relevant and also because I hope that people like you will search for these terms and find my blog.

If you're still here you might wonder what my books are about. You can learn about them from this very blog or from my Facebook page or even my Amazon author page. It shouldn't be a surprise that I've put links to all these in the text too.

If you are a fan of romantic fiction you'll hopefully like my book Playground Cool or All the fun of the Fair. If you're not sure why not download a sample? You can do that via Amazon or Smashwords and, soon, Bibliocracy.

Do you like crime thrillers? Great, try my latest book The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe. It's set in Morecambe and you can try a sample fo that for free too. If you've been paying attention you'll know the link was in the title of the book.

As part of my new strategy to meet aa many people as I can and introduce them to my books, today I aso updated my LinkedIn profile, did a press release and made sure that my entire online presence is linked. That means this blog post will go straight to this Facebook page. It will also appear on my Goodreads page too. If I post a Tweet that will appear on this blog and on my LinkedIN account.

Why? Because I want you to know about me and where I'm from. Then I want you to buy my books, and enjoy them. Then, finally, I want you to tell all your friends about me.

But it all starts with you reading this blog post. Welcome aboard.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

SEO. Using Keywords to get seen.

Afternoon folks,

Morecambe. Crime thriller. Romantic saga.

You might have noticed, if you're a regular reader, that the name of the blog has changed. And the description too. Why?

Well, as part of my ongoing efforts to drive traffic to this blog and, ultimately, to drive sales of my books, I am trying to embrace the idea of Search Engine Optimisation. Like most folk, I'm aware it exists but I don't have a great understanding of it. But I've been doing some reading and have decided to give it a go.

The idea seems to be to mention certain keywords regularly throughout blog posts which are then picked up by search engines. These need to be words that are likely to be searched for so there's no point picking something random like Handbag Clasp. So, for this post I'm trying Morecambe because it's where two of my books are set and Crime Thriller, because it's the biggest selling genre of fiction.

Apparently the trick is also to reference old blog posts too, with a view that you drive traffic to yourself. I haven't grasped that yet but I'll persevere. The plan is to keep an eye on my traffic stats for a month and see if there's been an impact and review after that.

So, to recap. My book The 24 Hour Jazz Cafe is a CRIME THRILLER set in MORECAMBE and has received fantastic reviews. My book All the fun of the Fair is a ROMANTIC SAGA and is also set in MORECAMBE. Too subtle? We shall see.