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A return to the blog

My last post was over 10 months ago – but I am delighted to announced that my time has been positively spent producing my first collection of short stories. So although this will be a short post, it gives you the opportunity to click on the My Books tab and check out the book.


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All hail the second hand book

A few weeks ago, whilst middle son was warming up for the first round of the Northumberland Rugby County Cup, I nipped off to visit one of the largest second hand book shops in the UK. Ironically, the night before, I had visited a friends house who had loads of books left over from a Cancer Research coffee morning she had hosted the previous week – take your pick she said. Well what’s a boy to do?

So what’s the point of this particular rambling, well I guess it’s a celebration (of sorts). Books are wonderful things and authors (at least the majority of the ones I know) are wonderful, creative people. Putting aside the obvious (or perhaps not so obvious) points about recycling and raising money for charity (although the second hand book shop I refer to in this piece is run as a business. Bastards, some of you may be tempted to cry because as an author you won’t see any royalties from that particular sale), it’s about the reader having the opportunity to discover someone new, or in my case rediscover authors I had tried to read before, but it was a case of wrong book at the wrong time (in case you’re wondering this includes Stephen King – yes Stephen King! I read a few of his short(er) stories as a teenager and I have to confess to disliking them. Ian (M) Banks is another).

Now this might all be a little strange to read, a wannabe author – who will no doubt end up going down the digital self publishing route – celebrating second hand books (as already mentioned where are the royalties?!?!), but for me the second hand book (whether they be a ‘commercial’ or charity purchase, or simply handed down from a friend) encourages people to take a chance on a new author, or allow an existing author a second chance. All of which has to be good for everyone – plus I only paid a few pounds for the books which shows that quality can come cheap.

Anyway I have a pile of books waiting to be read, which means I am going to stop typing and go reading.

Oh and middle son won the rugby match. Happy days all round.

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Read some great stories and help charity!

Although this is a lazy blog post (from my perspective as I’ve just ‘borrowed’ it) – its helps me remember ONE of the reasons I keep pressing on the keys of my computer ….


As you know, I have been interviewing some of the authors from the short story group, but did you know that all proceeds from the anthologies goes to charity? Yep, it’s true.

The authors gave their time and shared short stories to help raise money for various charities.

The proceeds from Love is in the Air goes to help Diabetes UK.

newfront Jul13      LIITA3

Have you or someone you know ever been diagnosed with diabetes? My mom and my brother had diabetes and one of my older sisters has it. I recently lost a dear internet friend to complications of this awful disease. He had lost circulation in his feet and had to have some toes amputated and the doctors were hopeful, but gangrene had spread so he was admitted back into the hospital, but before they could do more surgery he had a heart attack. I miss his daily…

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Coming together nicely

As I attempt to juggle the ‘real’ life and that of an international bestselling author, I am slowly completing a number of short stories which will soon (soon being defined as an indefinable length of time) be available.

To help maintain the momentum, I plan to post the opening parts of selected stories on this blog, via the Work In Progress page. This will (hopefully) get your eyes tingling in anticipation, whilst keeping me on track to get the stories complete.

Hope you enjoy the opening to Shoes.

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First few lessons complete

Okay, I have (officially) completed the first three units of the online course I signed up for last week. Here are my first thoughts. Please be aware that I am a professional teacher (stop laughing at the back!) so I have a lot of experience at keeping people engaged in their learning – even when they have paid and have some enthusiasm for it!

The course is relatively simple. Death by powerpoint (or an online equivalent) before a multiguess style ‘exam’ at the end of each module. Sorry that’s my inner professional teacher trying to burst through, but I am sure you get the drift – a lot of reading and then a 10 question multiple choice test.

Overall the standard of the course is fairly OK, although I would like some variation on the method of presentation, a little more fluidity in the course content AND NO spelling mistakes (of which I have seen several).

The first module was fine, but by the third I was getting a little tired of simply reading a few lines on a slide before going onto the next one. There is also an issue with the testing. The blurb states you have to get 70% to allow access to the next module – fair enough – but they only let you through if you score 8+/10, now I’m sure all you mathmagicians out there have worked out that this is actually 80%. These are probably only very minor issues, but this is something that I, and many others, have paid money for (even if it is only £12 – remember this was a 95% discount)

All this brings me nicely to the first major lesson from this course – as writers, the majority of us will expect people to pay for our work. Therefore we need to act like professionals. Whilst this has been a theme throughout the first few modules, it has been interesting to see (and perhaps I am a little cynical) that the course providers have not always heeded their own advice. The course is OK, but could be great – if it had a more professional feel to it.

Of course, for ‘indie’ writers, being seen as professional can be a problem. Until the big money starts rolling in many of our friends and family simple see this as a hobby – each sale contributing to a cup of tea, rather than the mortgage. But it doesn’t mean we have to bow to these opinions. From now on I am going to try and undertake my writing in a professional manner – same start time, same place (I am lucky enough to have a study), same working hours. Now I know that this will sometimes be a struggle – against myself not only against members of my family who want a piece of my time – but if I don’t start taking my writing seriously who will?

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Online course

I’m not sure that I haven’t just fallen for ‘magic beans’ but one of those ‘daily deal’ websites offered an online writing course (with a proper certificate and everything) for £12 – a saving of 95% (apparently)

Having spent more than this on a couple of author workshops – which to be honest didn’t offer the ‘support’ that the blurb promised – I decided to give this a go.

Naturally I will keep you informed of any words of wisdom that crop up. Do you have any experience of these sorts of courses? Do you have any ‘formal’ qualifications when it comes to your writing? Have I just wasted £12 and however many hours of my life it will take to complete this 12 module course?

I will let you know …..

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Confession time

Eagle eyed readers will no doubt have noticed that it has been nearly TWO months since my last post.  Now I can make the usual excuses (OK some more usual than others): I was busy training for the Norse Challenge; parental responsibilities; work commitments. But it is time to actually face up to the reality of the situation.

I had a difficult scene to write, which I did. BUT then it dawned on me that I then only had a single chapter left to write until I had completed the first part of the story. I had always planned on allowing other people access to the story after the first part was written. This would allow me to a) seek reassurance that it was not all rubbish and b) get answers to some questions: Are the characters well developed? Any clashes in plot development? What questions need answering in the later parts of the story? The list could go on and on.I froze at that point.  I had invested many hours in the first 60 pages of the story (I know that some of you will be laughing at the thought of ONLY 60 pages) and suddenly the end was in sight. So I allowed myself to be distracted, which obviously meant that when people asked ‘how it was going,’ I was able to honestly say that I had been so busy, but it was nearly finished, just a little while longer.

I know that I am not the first and I will certainly not be the last person to experience self doubt, it’s part of the territory. But I am happy to say that I am now well into the second part of the story and am able to confess to my insecurities.  Needless to say, the first part is just the first draft (with the odd bit of editing as I went along) but I would be delighted if anyone who reads this would like to take a look and give me the benefit of their experience.

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