This is where occasional news about my current books and about my progress with the third will be posted. Come back often!
15th June 2023
This is difficult! The passage of time since I published my last Jack Dozer volume is embarrassingly long, and I still haven’t started on the third. Will I ever now?
The problem is motivation. Like countless authors before me, I have now personally experienced the dispiriting phenomenon of the disappearing novel. The extraordinary effort required to conceive, write and publish a story counts for nothing. Even if it proves popular with those who do get to read it, and they are very few, it just falls into the bottomless digital abyss of largely unread and unregarded books. Why would anyone want to repeat the experience?
My son asks me whether that is why I wrote the first two: just to be widely read? Well, put like that, it does sound very egotistical to answer yes, and it seems to imply that writing the stories was not satisfaction enough. But I did want the books to be read, not for my own glory, nor for money, but for the pleasure of sharing amusing tales with appreciative readers – to bring a bit of a smile into the lives of others.
It’s about encouragement. If I were able to feel that anyone was enjoying the books, I would love to write another. But to put all that effort into it for essentially nothing seems a bit masochistic.
So that is the stark choice I face – can I find the energy within myself, with little encouragement from anyone else, to finish what I started, or do I just let it drop and get on with something else? Hmmmm?
25th October 2022
I know that this is not about writing, I will get round to it, I promise, but it is creative!
I stopped painting several years ago. All that time, I left my easel and my paints out in the spare room waiting for inspiration to return – I just noticed that I have the same relationship with painting as I do with writing!
So, after a pleasant weekend spent with my French friends, I returned home with painting on my mind. I had to force myself, really force myself, but yesterday I actually got round to it! Here is the result:
Just doing it generated the desire to do more. I am sure I will.
Shame it wasn’t a book, but a picture is worth quite a lot of words, I understand!
30th September 2022
Here’s a real-life story almost ready-made for inclusion in a novel about the behaviour of the very rich.
I live on the edge of a small Somerset village. We have an un-surfaced access lane which we share with three immediate neighbours. This lane was not in a good state. Then, six years ago, a period of exceptionally heavy rain caused a torrent to run off neighbouring fields. The force of the water tore what was left of it to shreds and it became almost impassable. It was obviously going to need resurfacing.
I found a contractor and obtained a quote. I circulated this amongst the neighbours inviting them to agree to share the cost equally between us. Two agreed but the third, by far and away the most wealthy among us, declined. So, reluctantly, we continued with the project without his support: the total being divided three ways rather than four.
The contractor did a super job and we soon had a useable access lane again.
Needless to say, the wealthy neighbour who refused to contribute remained an enthusiastic user. In addition, he had works going on at one point and for weeks, maybe months, a succession of heavy lorries and vans pounded up and down our little lane. It hadn’t cost him a penny so why should he care?
This situation continued for six years with him and his family gleefully enjoying their free new drive without restraint or restriction. That was up until just recently when I had occasion to contact the neighbours to warn them of some upcoming tree work in our garden. In the email I said that access along the lane might be occasionally restricted for safety reasons. In the version that I sent to him I added the clarification, “you know, the one that you use all the time but refused to pay your share of the resurfacing”.
This little barb eventually elicited a reply. He admitted to “feeling uncomfortable about the lack of a neighbourly contribution to the excellent roadway”.
I replied brusquely detailing what it had cost, and how the cumulative effect of six years of inflation had added 30% to the sum we had originally paid: he needed to pay a total of £2,430 split three ways between us. You can see that the sum wasn’t, and never had been, enormous. But it seemed to be enough to floor him for a while. It was about three weeks later that he handed over three envelopes to one of my neighbours. This neighbour observed that he seemed very quiet.
The cheques covered the amount requested, but the interesting thing about them was that they were drawn on Coutts bank: Coutts is a private bank specifically for the very wealthy, including her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II apparently!
Out of interest I visited the Coutts website and started to submit an application to open an account. I didn’t get past the second page as I was unable to confirm that I had more than one million pounds to deposit.
So that’s how our local multi-millionaire behaves. Just need to think of a different name for him and slot him straight into the book!
8th July 2022
Just wanted to let you know that I am still trying to get started on the third book in the series. Ideas for the plot are still in a whirl, but I keep gravitating back to thinking about a recent visit I made to Chard museum.
This wonderful place is chock full of ancient, and not so ancient, artefacts. Any one of them could be the starting point for the new story. Tortured!
6th July 2022
I know that this is nothing to do with writing (or maybe it could be?), but just wanted to share this image of flowers taken yesterday at Forde Abbey, Somerset. I love the colours!
Forde Abbey is such a great garden to visit if you are ever in the vicinity – near to Chard. Always immaculate and packed with interesting plants. They do good coffee too!https://www.fordeabbey.co.uk/somerset-gardens/: Blog
11th June 2022
What a great gift to come home to! Nothing to do with writing, but a grateful gentlemen for whom I repaired a valuable coffee-making machine went to the trouble of leaving me this:
Have a look on the internet to find out how the Repair Café movement works. You couldn’t write about it!
29th May 2022
Isn’t it poetic that this book (see below) is a No. 1 Best Seller! Just consider all the hundreds of thousands of aspiring writers who buy it in the hope of launching a best-seller themselves, and the very, very, very few that ever succeed! It’s a best-seller built on the backs of the non-sellers! Those expensive internet courses given by successful novelists to success-hungry students have the same sort of feel.
24th May 2022
Drawing energy from the sun and the view to help me tackle the next round of submissions to publishers – note the red-bound copy of Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. Such a wearing activity, with just a slim chance of attracting even a sniff of interest! Never mind, appreciative comments continue to trickle in from friends. I find these very encouraging – and who knows?
22nd May 2022
Is it normal to have books in your house?
My wife went to a meeting in a friend’s house. On seeing the host’s three book shelves – yes, just three shelves – some of the visitors declared, “Oh! You’ve got books!”
Daren’t invite them to our house! Here is about a third of the books we have accumulated over the years. We are not collectors, but if you’ve ever been interested in doing things, you have books, right? Or perhaps I’m too old-fashioned.
10th May 2022
Amazon ratings creeping slowly upwards! 4.3 out of 5 now!
It’s an uneasy feeling when your books are out there and unknown people are picking them up and reading them. Every 4 or 5 star rating is a real boost, but there is the ever-present fear of a 1 or 2 star cold shower.
Ratings and reviews are all we have to go on but, in truth, don’t really tell us whether we personally will like or dislike a book. It seems to me that some of the 1 or 2 star ratings come from people who have just picked up the wrong book! They confuse “I don’t like it. It’s not my sort of thing” with “It’s a bad book”.
The 4 and 5 star accolades are perhaps more reliable. No one is going to give 5 stars to a bad book!
2nd May 2022
What with the cost-of-living crisis, and everything, I am really pleased to be pulling in some extra cash from the sale of my books! Here are my earnings over the last 3 months – £1.87. No worries!
19th April 2022
While we’re talking about Jack Dozer and the Silver Bullet; what could these two characters possibly have to do with a story about an arrogant UK politician and the struggle for justice ?
I guess you’ll need to read it to find out!
18th April 2022
Let’s start at the beginning.
Going right back to February 2020 when I was publishing Jack Dozer and the Silver Bullet, I was struggling with a do-it-myself cover design. Before my artistically-gifted son stepped in to help, this is what I had been toying with:
The reason I have had to obliterate the face is ….
I had wanted to show the face of Jack Dozer on the cover, but I didn’t actually know what he looked like!
Then one night I was watching TV and suddenly, there he was! Exactly the right face. It was him, kindly and wise, Jack Dozer, on the screen. Although I had never before visualised his face, there was no question in my mind that it was him!
I took some photos of the screen and, with Photoshop, extracted the image of his face. I was told I would need his permission to use it so, with the aid of the internet, I tracked him down to where he worked as a scientist in an American university. Unfortunately, he preferred not to feature, but we had such a civilised and warm-hearted email exchange that, despite my disappointment, I came away glowing with hope for the human race – such easy friendship and mutual respect with someone located almost at random on the other side of the world!
I still wish he’d agreed to be the face of Jack Dozer!