I want to write my first crime novel but how and where to start?

I was asked this question by someone recently and I gave them an honest answer.

‘I’ve no idea,’ I replied.

I got quite a puzzled look when I said this as I had just told the person who had asked the question that I had published twelve crime books so far. I had to explain further. What I meant by this was that, if there was a right or easy way to write your first book, I certainly hadn’t found it. If my journey in writing could be compared to a drive say, from New York City to Washington DC, some two hundred miles or more, then my journey would have taken in Washington State some three thousand miles away. Nothing about the route I took towards publishing my first book, The Body in the Boot, was straightforward. Let me explain…

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Living in a world of anger

As much as I like my posts to be positive, or at least informative, this topic has been on my mind for a while. I’m old enough to remember the Age of Aquarius, peace-love-dope and The Beatles singing ‘All You Need is Love’ to the entire world. It was possibly a reaction to the black days of the Cuban missile crisis but I remember it as being a time of hope, a time when everyone seemed to buy into the idea that the only way forward for the human race was to get on with each other.

We seem to be living in the polar opposite of those times. For ‘Peace’ read ‘Turmoil’, for ‘Love’ read ‘Hate’.

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The dreaded writer’s block…

Since 2015 I’ve managed to write two books a year so, if I am to keep that up, I would now have a book ready to be published. I haven’t.

I’ve got two books on the go, both of which are around a third of the way there, but even that doesn’t add up to a whole book. So what happened? I could point to catching Covid, which I feared was turning into the long version for a while, then there are my aches and pains and other medical issues. I could even blame being on Facebook where I found that I spent too much time doom-scrolling which usually left me feeling more than depressed. I could blame lots of things but, for me, writing has always been a refuge at those times when my pain issues were bad and things were tough.

I can only conclude that it was the dreaded writer’s block.

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If you keep doing the same thing…

“If you are defeated once and tell yourself you will overcome, but carry on as before, know in the end you’ll be so ill and weakened that eventually you won’t even notice your mistake and will begin to rationalize your behavior.” —EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.18.31

The quotation above is from today’s entry in The Daily Stoic. Just before I read the above, I read the latest news. After some two thousand years, the quote has rarely been more apposite. The quote was paraphrased by Einstein –

‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.’

Yet, here we see political leaders going down a well-worn path. Create an enemy, you know, them. It doesn’t really matter who but Jews, Black and Brown people, Roma and, of course, immigrants are handy punchbags. Anyone who can be categorised as ‘other’ will do. Then tell lies about them.

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I want to self-publish but where do I start?

My advice to new authors is to always give the traditional route a chance before turning to self-publishing. However, it’s my feeling that self-publishing may be the only option for many writers. I read an academic paper last year, one of the first to look at authors from a Black, Asian or other minority background. One of my major takeaways was around the barriers that exist for authors from all minorities. There is a practice that exists within most publishing houses called ‘comping’ where submitted books are compared against previously published works to get an idea of how commercially viable they might be. So, what’s the problem?

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Why it’s always best to not to think the worst

This post has been kicking around in my head for a few weeks now. In fact, ever since some motorists yelled at me. Let me explain.

My wife and I sometimes meet up with our son for lunch in a town not far from where we live. The pub is, unfortunately, in an old part of the town and you can only access it by driving down a single narrow street. I’m usually in luck in that I can find a disabled parking space near the pub entrance. We need this because my wife is disabled and, on her worst days, she can only walk a few steps so I need to get as near the entrance as possible. On this particular day, the disabled bays were full as were all the loading bays. There was nowhere to pull over. So, as we hadn’t seen our son for a while and didn’t want to go home, I stopped to let my wife get out with the plan that I would drive off and park in a nearby car park.

We were stopped for no longer than a minute and a half and, in that time, I was passed by three cars. They had to go up the opposite pavement and still came with a millimeter of my car mirror. All three shouted and made disparaging gestures at me, with one quite wildly intimating that I only had sex with my hand.

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What 2022 might have in store…

With a brand New Year having arrived all too quickly, I’ve been thinking about what might be happening in 2022 with regard to my books. I’ve now written twelve Mac Maguire mysteries and the thirteenth is about a third of the way there. This one will be set at Christmas and a Mac Maguire book set during the festive season is something that I’ve been trying to achieve for quite a while. In order to ensure that I succeed this time, I will continue writing this book during the early part of the year and will hopefully have it completed by June or July. If my plan works out then I should have no problem in publishing it in the run-up to next Christmas.

Does that mean that I will only be publishing only one book this year then? No.

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Happy Holidays to all my readers!

So, it’s Christmas once again and there’s a strong feeling of deja vu in the air. Covid is still news as the Omicron variant spreads and, in the UK, the threat of a new lockdown is on the horizon. News is constantly coming out about how little right-wing Governments care for the lives of the people they rule and even democracy itself come to that. Lying and alternate ‘facts’ have inexplicably become okay with a lot of people but only if these align with their incredibly distorted world-view. Partisanship is worse than ever with both sides vilifying the other as the far-right wingnuts disappear down into the rabbit hole of total virtual insanity and see weird conspiracies all over the place.

Yet…

I must admit that I like that word. It means that there might be some light at the end of the deep dark tunnel that we’ve been living in lately. Yet, I see acts of kindness daily, people smiling at each other under their masks and children still getting excited about what delights Christmas Day will bring.

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Just published – The Blood Moon Murders

The twelfth Mac Maguire mystery has now been published. This one is a little different to the other eleven is that it has a supernatural element to it. I’ve always loved ghost stories and I’ve been looking for a way that I might incorporate this into a Mac Maguire story for some time. Finally, the idea came to me and so I’ve run with it.

I hope that fans of the series won’t be too thrown by this as the book is still very much a crime mystery. However, it’s also my hope that the new added supernatural aspects might just make it a little bit different and in a good way. I’m also aware that Halloween is upon us and so I’m delighted to get it published just in time for the occasion.

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Coming soon – The Blood Moon Murders

Mac Maguire’s twelfth outing – The Blood Moon Murders – is a little different to the others. You might get a clue what this difference is through the dedication – ‘For Halloween, ghost stories and things that go bump in the night.’

I have long been an admirer of M. R. James and his ability to put ghostly goings-on right into the workaday world. I’d guess that it was the title that first gave me the idea that this might be my chance to incorporate a supernatural thread into a murder mystery. That and the fact that the book should be ready to be published around Halloween.

As you can guess from the title the murders take place during an eclipse of the Moon by the Earth. I witnessed a really good one some years ago and the effect of the moon darkening and then glowing red with the light that had made it through the Earth’s atmosphere is a really eerie experience. It was easy to see why ancient peoples saw this as a harbinger of change and even doom.

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