Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Beware - Winston's Coming to a Book Near You

It's almost time to unleash Winston on an unsuspecting world. Take a look at the first chapter of my sequel to 'Waves Break on Unknown Shores'. Be prepared for some language and humorous vulgarity. Most of all be prepared for Winston.

The full novel will be available in the New Year.

Chapter One

‘I’m telling you, man, this guy was butt naked, walking down a country lane at two in the morning and whimpering for someone called Bunny. Scared the shit out of me, I can tell you. I mean, it’s not what you expect is it? Fuck, there I am outside this big house, minding my own, and I’m edgy enough if you know what I mean, when I hear this weak, tinny voice coming out of nowhere. I don’t believe in spirits or ghosts or any of that shit but, I tell you, man, at that moment...

‘“Bunny! Bunny!” he calls, “Bunny!”

‘Then he emerges from the darkness like a white ghost and the fucker hasn’t an item of clothing to his name and he’s got his hands out like he’s reaching for something, like a little kid who’s just learned to walk, and he’s repeating over and over, “Bunny! Bunny!”

‘Okay, Winston, I get the picture. Can you just lower your voice a little? People are staring.’

We’re in Maggie’s cafe in the precinct, sitting by a window which looks out into the pedestrian area. It’s crammed with tourists, it being summer and the school holidays underway. The cafe is full and most of the customers have spent the last few minutes listening to Winston. I mean, you don’t have much choice. Winston is loud. It’s like he’s unaware of anyone else in the whole world, as if there’s just you and him. He doesn’t suffer from embarrassment. He never has.

I do.

Not for the first time, I want him to shut up or lower his voice or maybe just go away.

Yeah, go away would be really good.

Only Winston has never learned to take a hint. You could drop a hint by clubbing him with a cricket bat, you could scream in his face. It’d make no difference. He’s always been the same. A nuclear warhead would bounce off Winston.

‘Hey man, what are you worried about? It’s a great story for that paper of yours. You should be thanking me. But I haven’t told you the best bit.’

He snorts with laughter and leans forward as if he’s going to whisper but then he doesn’t.

‘I mean, whoever this Bunny is, this guy is really hot for her, if you know what I mean. He’s got a dick like that leaning tower – what do they call it?’

‘Pisa,’ I whisper, ‘the Leaning Tower of Pisa.’

‘Pisser?’ Winston rolls back his head, opens a cavernous mouth and roars with laughter. ‘Well that’s fucking appropriate. This guy is signposting heavenward with the most enormous...’

‘Okay, Winston, okay, there’s no need to get graphic. I’ve got the picture.’ I glance round and heads turn instantly away as people pick up conversations they left moments ago. ‘Everyone in the room has got the picture.’

A couple of older women leave their afternoon tea with a haughty look and head for the door but plenty more remain there over empty cups and plates. They’re listening and pretending not to and suddenly it’s like I’m on a stage and we’re improvising this scene and I’ve no idea what’s coming next or how it’s going to end and everyone is waiting for my contribution.

Then I see Maggie over by the counter and I know exactly how it’s going to end and what I have to do. She’s formidable even when she’s smiling but she’s not smiling now. She’s dusting her heavyweight hands on a tea towel and flexing her muscles like she’s preparing for a fight. She isn’t even looking at the old guy who’s talking to her. Her eyes are trained on me and Winston. I look at my chest, expecting to see a little red light targeting me for destruction.

It’s understandable, I guess. Winston isn’t her regular type of customer. This is more of your middle aged, middle class, genteel, tea and cakes sort of establishment, the sort of place my mum likes. Maggie doesn’t like tourists and she can’t abide anyone with children. She looks warily at anyone under fifty as if they’re about to spring a trap. She only smiles at them when they’re leaving and that’s more relief than anything else. Winston is in a category shared by drunks, dog owners and people who don’t pay. She looks at him as if he’s trodden both feet in something unpleasant with the sole intention of bringing it into her cafe.

When she hears his latest outburst she’s had enough and now she’s rolling our way like a lumbering, doom laden cloud.

‘Come on, Winston, it’s time to go.’ I drag him to his feet and head for the door. ‘Sorry, Maggie,’ I call over my shoulder. ‘We’re leaving.’

He’s still trying to cram the last of his cream cake into his mouth as I push him through the door and into the stream of pedestrian traffic.

‘And don’t come back!’ Maggie shouts after us. ‘We don’t want your sort in here.’

Winston looks back with an enormous grin.

‘Is it a race thing?’ he calls.

If she was holding a knife she’d throw it, I swear.

I steer him round a couple of corners and only slow down when I’m sure no-one is looking at us.

‘What the hell, Winston. I could be a column in my own newspaper tomorrow.’

‘No-one reads newspapers anymore. No offence.’

‘My mum and dad do. And what do you mean “Is it a race thing?” Do you know how many times I’ve heard you say that?’

‘Shuts the fuckers up though, don’t it?’

We’re walking slowly now and getting jostled by tourists in a hurry to get nowhere special. I direct him to a seat just vacated by a large woman with an even larger shopping bag. There are flowers in a circular bed just behind the bench, contained by a low, brick wall, part of the town centre improvements. I like flowers, especially brightly coloured flowers in a town centre. My boss, Liz, says they’re incongruous. She says it’s like sticking a candle in a turd. But I like them.

‘What do you think of my story?’ Winston asks. ‘Is it worth a few quid?’

‘No disrespect, Winston, but I’d need more than your word for it before I’d write a story about a naked rambler. I’m sure you’ve got a lot of admirable qualities but honesty isn’t the first that springs to mind. You’d lie to your mother.’

‘Yeah,’ Winston grins.

‘Besides, I can’t help wondering what you were doing on a country lane at two in the morning. Hardly your scene is it? I mean, when I think of you I don’t really picture nocturnal nature walks. What were you doing there?’

‘Just a bit of private enterprise.’


‘Nah, with Benny.’

‘Benny Jarrett? Jesus, Winston, you mean you were burgling the house?’

‘Me? No. I was just standing at the road end, waiting for Benny. I was his driver, man. He lost his license, you know.’

‘Yeah, that happens when you drive at ninety down the promenade and swerve into the concrete seating. They reckon if he hadn’t been pissed he might have killed himself.’

‘That’s always been Benny’s trouble. He likes a drink and he likes cars. But at least it wasn’t his car. Every cloud...’

‘He likes burgling remote houses too, doesn’t he?’

‘Benny’s okay. He never hurts anyone.’

‘I’m not sure his victims see it like that. Did Benny see your mysterious nudist?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘What do you mean, you don’t know? Didn’t you discuss it on the way back? I mean, it’s the sort of thing you might mention. “Hey, Benny, guess what I just saw...” – that sort of thing. Wouldn’t it make an interesting conversation, even for a couple of dough brains like you and Benny?’

‘He was in there for fucking ages. After the naked guy turned up I figured I’d split before someone came looking.’

My head is starting to spin at this point and I feel I’m in danger of following Winston’s stream of consciousness down a meandering lane towards a cliff edge. I think maybe I’ll keep to the important points.

‘So where were you when all this happened?’

Winston hesitates as his fine-tuned, automated instinct for self preservation kicks in.

‘Maybe better you don’t know,’ he says.

‘Come on, Winston, I don’t betray my sources, not even when they’re thieving bastards like you and Benny.’

He relaxes and the big smile returns. You can’t offend Winston. God knows, I’ve tried. I used to think if I was offensive enough often enough he’d get the hint and leave me alone. He didn’t.

‘We we’re out towards Westleigh, a few miles after the railway crossing. There’s this house behind trees – Westleigh Lodge. Single glazed windows in a couple of rooms round the back – I mean... shit, man... in this day and age - Don’t they know there are thieves about? I mean, it’s like a fucking invitation.’

‘Yeah, I know the place; near Westleigh Hall, isn’t it?’


‘So this guy...’

‘Yeah, just like I said - “Bunny! Bunny!” - fucking weird, man.’

‘So what did you do?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You’ve just seen a naked man walk past you on a country lane calling out for this...’

‘Bunny! Bunny!’

‘Will you stop doing that, Winston, putting on that simpering little voice? It’s getting really irritating and people are looking.’

‘Hey, chill man.’

‘So you’ve just seen this helpless guy walking down the lane. Forgive me for stating the fucking obvious but did you call the police?’

‘Fuck no. Think of Benny, man.’



‘So what did you do?’

‘I figure sooner or later someone will see him. Then I think maybe I’d better get out of there before the police arrive or someone sees me and starts asking questions. Like you say, - it’s not easy to explain being up there at two in the morning. And Benny up there at the old house... You catch my drift?’

‘With both hands, Winston, with both hands - so you get in your car and drive off, leaving the naked rambler and Benny to sort themselves out.’

‘Pretty much.’

‘You’re all heart, Winston. You know that?’

‘Yeah,’ he grins again.

‘Did you pass the guy on your way back to town?’

‘I went the other way. I didn’t want to meet anyone coming to throw a towel over him. It took fucking ages, nearly got taken off the road by this four by four too. You don’t expect it on a country lane, do you? The bastard thought he owned the place.’

‘There are a lot of things you don’t expect to see on a country lane at that time of night. You’re pretty high up the list yourself.’

‘Yeah, I guess.’

‘So what did Benny think when he came out with his sack of loot and found his driver had done a runner?’

‘I haven’t seen him. I’m keeping a low profile till he calms down.’

That grin is starting to really irritate me. I think it’s time I took my leave.

‘Yeah, I can see the sense in that. I’ve got to go, Winston – work, you know.’

‘Yeah, see you man.’

I stand up and head towards the promenade. I figure I’ll walk for a while and get Winston out of my system. Only I don’t get far before I hear him call after me.

Everybody within a hundred yards hears him.

‘Fucker had electrodes all over him too, and he was covered in gel,’ he shouts, ‘head to fucking toe. Even his fucking...’

I turn a corner but not my head and walk towards the fresher air of the Sefton sea front. The word follows me and I imagine heads turning and watching me all the way to the sea.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

First Vanity Press and Now Vanity Reviews

When you receive independent reviews like these on Inkitt.com you want to share them with the world.

Look! They say my novel really is good!
These reviews are real - I don't know the people who wrote them - they're not family or friends - they're not written by sycophantic fellow indie writers looking for a sympathetic return review.
You must want to read it now you've seen these reviews!
I don't understand why you aren't reading it!
Read what they say ffs!

And so it goes on, for so many writers trying to raise their heads above the sea of vanity reviews in which they're drowning.

Still, you've got to try:

"clearly a pro
Nothing amateurish about this read. Felt guilty for not having paid. I see that you have some more books available on Amazon and I'll certainly be adding them to my queue. I love how long you keep the reader guessing vis a vis the particulars of Stevie's death. When the reveal finally comes it is chilling to be sure. The dialogue was keen, the banter so snarky and razor-witted, it had me grinning like an idiot for most of the read. I could state the obvious, that the characters are so fully realized you feel like you've passed them on the street, but let's assume that goes without saying. The mechanics of the mystery itself were sophisticated, tortuous but never convoluted. The exposition towards the end could easily have felt tedious in the hands of a lesser writer, but you made it harrowing, like all the rest. Speaking of things most writers can't pull off well, Wayne's transformation by the end of the book is actually believable and well-earned. Meanwhile Brother Tyrone is the stuff of nightmares, but not, in my view, unsympathetic. Damaged goods in the most severe sense. It's very easy to imagine Wayne turning out the same if not for the support and influence of his friends. Well done."

"Calling all Publishers
This novel is about as ready to be published as any I've read. In fact, it would make a phenomenal screenplay and feature film. The characters are rich, vibrant, distinct and believable.  The antagonists, with one in particular, are rotten to the core and downright terrifying. The main character goes through an impressive arc throughout the course of the story, which takes place only over the course of a few explosive days.
Hanging over the tight thriller that plays out over the present day is a mysterious tragedy that takes place more than a decade earlier, which underpins the psychology and motivation of the main characters and keeps the reader guessing until the very end of the story.
The storytelling is spot on, with just the right details revealed at just the right times to keep the reader enthralled, engaged and second-guessing the next plot twist from beginning to end.
If you are looking for an expertly crafted mystery/thriller, pop some popcorn and read this novel from cover to cover on a rainy weekend afternoon. It will not disappoint. But do so soon before the major publishers and movie studios discover it!!"


Sunday, 8 July 2018

Not Worth the Paper...? Indie Reviews

I’ve read a lot of indie fiction now. I can’t always complete a whole book but I try to give each one a fair shot – as I hope others do for me. I also try to give honest feedback. As a general rule, if I can’t give three stars I don’t review.
I’ve also read a lot of reviews and there’s a truth about them which I think requires comment.
"A five star review won’t turn a bad book into a good one."
No agent or publisher is going to be swayed by a glowing review when the first couple of chapters (sometimes the first page) are enough to demote the manuscript from the slush pile to the bin. I think most writers know this. Those reviews by loyal family members won’t get you published. Nor will the encouraging ones by fellow writers who don’t want to hurt your feelings because they know what it’s like. At best – if you get hundreds of the damned things – I suppose someone might notice and take a look. But if the book isn’t good, you’ll be noticed and then dismissed. The same, I’m afraid, has to be said of reviews purchased from any of the many on-line sites which provide them. A few readings soon reveals just how useless most of them are. All too often there’s a gap between the review and the reality of the novel as wide as the Grand Canyon and anyone can see it after a couple of chapters.
Still, it’s always nice to read something nice about yourself and it’s pleasing when someone takes the trouble to read your manuscript.
There’s a problem with these reviews, though, which is rather more serious. How can potential readers sift the genuinely independent, objective and hard earned reviews from sycophantic drivel? How do readers know when they read the self promotions on numerous Facebook Pages whether the book really is ‘a gripping read’ which ‘I couldn’t put down’ and ‘the best book I’ve read this year’ and a ‘must read’ or just 200 pages of well intentioned but essentially dull and poorly drafted material?
Truth is, you can’t...

which means most people don't pay much attention

which must be  a bit irritating when your book really is quite good and deserves a read.


Wednesday, 4 July 2018

As Rare as Dragons' Eggs - the Indie Market

I know I keep harping on about that one stark fact - 4000 books published every week, mostly indie. It follows that there are thousands of people out there just longing for someone to read and review their book. Let's be honest, even the very worst of those books have taken months to produce. They matter - to someone.
There are also a lot of websites out there specifically for indie publishers to advertise their books and, purportedly, to find readers. Only, the only people accessing those sites have no real interest in READING books; they just want people to read theirs. A lot of market stalls and no customers. Not even footfall. Just thousands of virtual shelves full of merchandise gathering dust.
I trawled through a dozen of them the other day, just checking posts. I wanted to see how many had received 'likes' or 'comments'. The simple truth is that very few had received even one 'like' and comments were as rare as dragons' eggs.
I couldn't help thinking about all those wasted hours.
Could've written another book.
But then nobody would've read it.

When you do get a truly independent review (not one written by family or friends) you really feel as if you've earned it. Like this one:

"This book epitomizes why I enjoy reading thrillers so much. The development of the characters, individually and collectively, and their relationship to one another is brilliantly written. I find the author's writing style intriguing and mesmerizing. While reading this, I was always hungry for more, and couldn't stop myself reading. I was hooked from the off, and was kept guessing throughout. I would definitely recommend this to anybody who's a fan of thriller or mystery stories."


Friday, 29 June 2018

Sifting Sand for Diamonds - Indie Publishing

I read somewhere that there are 4000 books published every week - more in one week than in the whole of the Seventeenth Century. In some ways this is wonderful. Anyone who can wave a couple of fingers at a keyboard and has a story to tell can churn out a book in no time. I've no problem with that. I think it's great.
The problem, of course, is that the Internet is full of sites where authors of vastly differing levels of ability advertise their wares and - let's be honest - a lot of their wares aren't very good. And a lot of wares - good and bad - are never read or reviewed by anyone. They just lie there, dormant, gathering cyber dust. I've tried reviewing books on these sites, often selfishly and vainly in the hope of a reciprocal read, and it's a rare occasion that I progress beyond three or four chapters. It's also rare that anyone reciprocates. It's like looking for a diamond in the sand on Blackpool Beach.
All of which raises a problem. How does a half decent book raise its head above the parapet? How does a novel with some promise stand out in a crowd of novels all jumping up and down and demanding attention?
Not by standing still, that's for sure.
Even independent reviews don't help when everyone has a favourite aunt who's willing to support a novel by proclaiming its qualities from the rooftops - even when it hasn't any. How does a reader know that one review is hard earned and independent whilst another is just a cosy cuddle from an affectionate relative?
Which brings me to the main point of this post.
My novel
Which is well written
in the words of an independent reviewer is
Needs readers and reviews.

Try a few pages.  See for yourself. PLEASE!


Thursday, 28 June 2018

Waves Break on Unknown Shores - A Novel

The reviews and comments on my literary crime novel, "Waves Break on Unknown Shores" are starting to come in. Got to be pleased.

FREE on Inkitt.com Now I just need readers.

“I don’t normally read thrillers but II was hooked from chapter one. Sat and binge read straight through which is unusual for me. Effortless prose which takes a lot of technical skill. Very accomplished writing.”


Monday, 22 January 2018

"A Tale of Shadows" Giveaway

An opportunity not to be missed.
For a limited time only
Get your free copy

From TODAY - 31st January "A Tale of Shadows" will be available for free download on Kindle.