Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Meeting up and Hanging Out.

It's what writers don't do enough of (I don't mean ending on a preposition; I mean meeting up and hanging out with real people rather than our electronic creations). We work away in isolation, usually eating too many biscuits and drinking too much coffee, until we develop the 1,000-yard stare and wonder who that strange person is across the other side of the dinner table, and whether you really can make a silencer out of an old baked beans tin and some fibreglass wadding. (Although not in the same context, of course).

Well, it's time to break out. Tomorrow Ann and I are off to CrimeFest in Bristol, at the Marriott Hotel on The Green. Crimefest is all about authors and readers, writers and reviewers, agents and publishers. We'll be chewing the fat, listening in to other conversations we might wish we were part of, wondering in the wee dark hours how much information we've given away in the bar and whether it will be remembered in the morning. (It usually will be, by somebody). And whether that nice chap who just said 'Hi' down the corridor really was the famous author from across the pond.

And while attending panels (I'm on a couple) and listening to how others do it, we'll be realising that we haven't seen enough of the outside world for far too long. No wonder we get introverted.

One thing I'll be thinking about is the release on Friday 31st of my latest Harry Tate book - 'Execution' - (available here (Goldsboro books for signed copies) and here for others, among others.

It will also be cool to answer the question, 'When's your next book out?' with 'Today'.

And I won't be offended if anybody wants a signature. On anything. We authors are sluts for that stuff.

Apart from that, though, seeing Bristol is always a pleasure. Just hope the weather is nice, otherwise we'll be staying indoors. No, hang on; we've been doing too much of that...

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Free Download for 5 Days!

In a spirit of generosity and all-round feelin' good, I'm making 'Shades of Mayhem - Volume 1' a FREE download on Kindle for 5 days starting today. Load up and read on! They're short, they're quick, and they can be read whenever you've got a few free minutes.

Six short crime stories ranging from hard to soft, with varying shades of danger and mayhem:
ICE-CREAM & AURELIE: a young man growing up in New York finds ice-cream parlors have an attraction all of their own... but that some things are not as sweet as they seem.

SOMETHING TO TRADE: a woman stranded out in the African bush has to use her wit to survive an encounter with violent rebels

THE HOMECOMING: a spy whose cover has been blown returns home. But what sort of reception will she receive?

PRETTY HOT T'ING: forced by a ruthless south London gangster to deliver a bomb, a young man finds that some things are worth risking everything for.

PET HATE: a young woman enters the world of shady deals and creatures that bite.

A GIRL THING: a female police officer goes undercover to trap a sex-trade gang... and discovers talents she didn't know she had.

But that'snot all...

If you like the idea of short crime fiction, there's also a Volume 2 - which is at at the ridiculous price of £0.77 or $0.99. (But, hey - a writer's gotta eat!)
Eight more crime stories of every hue, from women sleuths through duelling bueaucrats to hard-boiled gangsters.

STUFF HAPPENS - A man goes for a long swim without a snorkel, and local tai chi expert and ex-military cop Carlton Medway has to figure out why he's in the frame.

HIDDEN BENEFITS- A Riley Gavin/Frank Palmer short. When a local small-time crook seems to have more than his fair share of money... and wives, Riley and Frank are called in to find out how - and why.
THE TRENCH- A war veteran revisits his old French battleground, and finds that his memories are not as dim as he'd like, and the past has come back to haunt him with a vengeance.

RECIPE FOR MAYHEM - A murder/mystery weekend and somebody is stealing from the guests. A chance for the hired help to show they are more astute than the experts.

PROCEDURE - A late-night visit by two enforcers for a big-time Dutch gangster in London finds their intended victim having to play dirty.

CALL-OUT- A Royal Military Policewoman has a feckless and gullible half-brother with a talent for bad money-making schemes... with deadly consequences.

DRESSED TO KILL - Three friends go clothes shopping... and find that smoking really does kill.

THE DUEL - The old methods of settling differences have not yet died out among certain European Union pen-pushers - with a dramatic difference.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Signed Copies for pre-order.

I spent a pleasant signing session yesterday at Goldsboro Books in London's Cecil Court ( with Mia, the owner's border terrier, sitting at my feet), adding my moniker to virginal copies of 'Execution' - (see top left) - officially out on 31st May. Met Aly ('Black Bear') Monroe, also signing, narrowly missed Bill ('Twelfth Department') Ryan, who was having his launch later, then had lunch with David Headley, the co-owner (and my agent - not only does he sell the books, but he... sells the books, if you see what I mean), and went window shopping. Bought an item of jewellery in Bond Street (ok, settle down, only name-dropping), stopped for coffee, did a bit of visual research for the next book, then headed home.

It reminded me that sitting in front of a keyboard all day is not a default position and I need to get out more. Today, of course, back at the keyboard. Oh, and coffee later with Lee,  a writer friend.

Hey-ho. Probably a good thing I don't do this every day.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Spies and Stuff

I'm always interested in writings about spies, whether fictional or otherwise. And with the recent capture by the Russian FSB of a supposed CIA man in a wig, it shows that fiction is not always as outlandish as we might think, because fact can nearly always top it!

Anyway, a couple of sites I always find of interest are: Permission to Kill - run by David J Foster -  which gives the spy lowdown on films, music, TV and books, whether good, bad or in-between , and Spy Guys and Gals, run by Randall Masteller. Randall's site includes a great list of authors and characters, and if you can recall the name but not the writer (or vice-versa), this is a very useful and interesting place to go.

To the man in the wig... it really didn't look good.

Sunday, 19 May 2013


Execution' has landed!

It's always a nice buzz when a manuscript finally becomes a book. And looking in my delivery box, I just found a sparkling copy of 'Execution' - the 5th book in the Harry Tate spy series from Severn House.

This finds Harry on the trail of renegade former MI6 officer, Clare Jardine, who is wounded and on the run from two Russian FSB hit men. They have just terminated a friend of former FSB officer, Alexander Litvinenko, himself killed by Polonium poisoning in London, and are intent on disposing of all witnesses to this latest murder.

Some stuff you just can't make up.

The book hits the shelves on the 31st May, but I'll be signing at Goldsboro Books in Cecil Court, London next Tuesday, 21st May, if you want to pre-order a signed copy.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Writing in France

Chez Castillon - Castillon-la-Bataille - Nr Bordeaux

If you're of a writerly persuasion (and even if you're not because the food is fabulous), you really must try to get to Chez Castillon on one of their writing courses. Here's a link to the latest one via the lovely Helen M Hunt's site - http://www.helenmhunt.co.uk/?p=221

VERY IMPORTANT: there's the most fantastic patisserie and confiserie RIGHT across the street. I kid you not. You could chuck your notebook through the door. Take a big spoon with you.

Janie and Mickey also have a delightful swimming pool in the back garden. Just thought I'd mention it. (Even if it did rain stair-rods all the time when I was there). Not bitter. Honest.

Free Kindle download.

Free for 5 days only.

'No Sleep for the Dead' - the third in the Riley Gavin/Frank Palmer crime series, is FREE on Kindle from today, 16th May to 20th May - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009ESXK4W/ or http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009ESXK4W/.

"As with all Riley Gavin & Frank Palmer stories, action packed from start to finish...touches of humour...guaranteed to keep you reading.” Monsters & Critics - Monsters & Critics.com

London's top female investigative reporter Riley Gavin has problems: work is thin on the ground, her long-distance love life looks set to stay long-distance, and former Royal Military cop Frank Palmer, her occasional sidekick, has disappeared without explanation following a disturbing chance encounter. As if that isn’t enough, their moves are being watched by a shadowy figure in dreadlocks.

When Frank finally surfaces, his determination to pursue justice for an old friend puts him and Riley in deadly danger from past enemies, vicious gangstas... and the sticky threads of British Intelligence surfacing from an event in Palmer's past.

And there's worse to come... in the shape of a bitter old woman with a burning desire for revenge...

If you haven't already, plug into the Gavin & Palmer series!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Doing it For Yourself

'Beginners' - May issue - Writing Magazine

Publishing Options

My monthly gig writing the 'Beginners' page of Writing Magazine is mostly confined to the job of writing (getting bum on seat and doing it). I find nothing else works quite as well, unless someone out there has a zen approach to writing which they might like to share.

This month, however, I decided to rock the boat a little and suggest that, if you've tried all other routes (ie - through what is being called legacy publishing, whether via an agent or direct), and got nowhere, well, there are other ways open to you, such as ebook publishing.

Essentially, you can now do your own thing via Kindle or Smashwords and others, for free, and retain greater control over what you do. Cover, layout, price, content, marketing - it's all up to you. And you can earn a bigger royalty, too.

Of course, there are some critics (mostly within the publishing business), who decry the whole shooting match. But the world is changing. And like the music business a few years ago, the publishing world is finding people doing their own thing - and no longer dependent on others giving them the green light.

I can't reproduce the text of my piece in Writing Magazine here, as they are a print-only publication. But the important thing is, if you go down the self-ebooking route, edit, edit, edit. Nothing puts off a reader more than lazy writing. And if you want readers to come back to you, do yourself - and them - a favour, and do a professional job.

By the way, I'm not the first to suggest this; many more illustrious and successful authors than I have been there and done it already. And they're making it work.

Off the high board

God, not another blogger.
Well, actually, yes. Maybe. I kept telling myself that I'd only start a blog if I had something I considered worth saying. Not that you have to read it, of course. If you don't, I probably won't know, anyway.
I figure most of this blog will be about writing. But it will also be about crime and spy thrillers, which are my main interests, and a few other bits and pieces as I go along. You'll see these added bit by bit. I'm not intending to change the world, or even a small part of it. But I might have a rant every now and then when the spirit moves me. Or not.
After watching a blackbirds' nest over a mini-cam for the last couple of weeks (infrared snooping is really cool at night - if that doesn't sound creepy), I've just witnessed 3 babies being punted off the end of the branch by their caring parents. Right off the high board. It's the only way to fly.
So this blog is a little like that.
Off the high board.