‘Mac’s Christmas Present’ – Just published!

I will be the first to admit that this has been a very difficult year. It has been a year when I have struggled to get into any kind of flow with my writing. Until very recently that is. I am so grateful that, at last, I will be able to publish something in 2022. Not only a book but a Christmas book too.

I have been trying for the last few years to write a Mac Maguire novel set at Christmas but, however hard I tried, nothing came to me. So, it is in something like wonder that, very late in the day, the plotlines for Mac’s Christmas Present popped into my head.

Like my third book, The Weeping Women, it features two cases. However, at around 40k words, it’s somewhat shorter than most of my books so I will be selling it at a reduced price.

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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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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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Cozy, hard-boiled or somewhere in between? Crime fiction and uncertain times

Book sales have increased during this pandemic and, for some, it seems that crime fiction has boomed. This caused me to look at my own sales figures. As I’m a self-published author on Amazon, my sales figures are very easy to find. It looks as if my book sales have more or less doubled compared to last year. It is, of course, a situation that I’m very happy with, however, it did start me thinking.

I have been advertising a little more and I’ve finally got up to ten books in my crime series but I’m not sure that’s the whole story behind the increased sales. Continue reading

Editing and typos- the hardest part of a writer’s job

Typo shop bannerI’ve been writing full-time now for nearly two years and I’m loving it. I especially love those moments of pure creation when new characters, situations and even worlds spring into life.

However, there is always a bit of grit in every pearl, and the grit for me is editing and especially the dastardly and eel-like typo. I published my first book four and a half years ago and I’m just realising how steep the slope of the editing learning curve actually is. This has been recently highlighted by the fact that I’ve once again re-edited my first four books and guess what? I found them littered by tortured English and infested with typos. I have come to terms with the fact that these books will still have some instances of tortured English and typos but, hopefully, a lot less than there was before. So what’s the problem? Continue reading

The Eight Bench Walk – Things to consider when setting a book abroad

book coverMy latest book The Eight Bench Walk should be ready for publication next month. This is the first Mac Maguire mystery that is more or less completely set abroad and so it presents its own set of problems. (Only part of Two Dogs was set in France and Ireland in The Chancer is definitely not ‘abroad’ as far as I’m concerned).

One of these was getting the locations right. Continue reading

Where do a writer’s ideas come from?

Light bulbI attended a local reader’s group a few weeks back. It was one that specialised in crime and murder mysteries. I was interested in what they did and it turned out that they were interested in what I did too. The first question, as always, was ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’

I couldn’t give a definitive answer as I honestly don’t know. I don’t want to investigate how my ideas are created too deeply in case it’s akin to analysing a joke. It’s never funny afterwards. For me the strangest aspect of being a writer is having to keep an open mind. I don’t mean this in the usual sense as in being intellectually open to new ideas or concepts. An analogy for that is like being in a house and looking out of the window at all the new ideas parading by and then inviting the ones you like or find interesting inside. For me as a writer an open mind is more like having your front door wide open and whatever decides to walk in, walks in. Continue reading

The trouble with book covers…

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that the cover of The Body in the Boot has recently changed, not once but twice. This is why.

This is the original cover and it was one I quite liked. It’s the first book in the series and therefore I’m anxious to advertise it as much as possible on the grounds that if a reader likes it then they might read the other eight.

I told the designer that I wanted something that suggested film noir, those lovely old crime movies from the forties and fifties and I think he did a good job. So what’s the problem then? Well, Amazon have now made it easier for me to get my books featured on the Kindle lockscreen and it’s an advertising opportunity that I felt I couldn’t miss out on. Unfortunately Amazon also have a myriad of rules around what qualifies for a lockscreen ad and 3D lettering in the title is something that they don’t like for some reason. I have the original file but it’s a Photoshop file and, as I’m not proficient on Photoshop, I decided to try making another cover. Continue reading

A work in progress – The Eight Bench Walk – my first international novel

book coverIn the tenth Mac Maguire mystery Mac goes to Cyprus. It’s been a hard winter and Mac’s back has been playing him up so his daughter Bridget has little problem in persuading him that he should go somewhere warm on holiday. Of course as soon as he arrives on the island something happens and the story kicks off!

I was in Larnaka, Cyprus for three weeks last year and spent over half the vacation wandering the streets looking for locations and trying to generate some ideas for a plot. I returned with the outline of a story in my head as well as a good visualisation for, at least, some of the settings. However, one evening towards the end of our stay, we were sitting outside a restaurant when it started raining. Of course we all rushed indoors and sat down next to a couple who were speaking Greek. She turned to us, smiled and made a comment about the English and rain in perfect English. Of course, the reason she spoke perfect English was because she was English, being born and brought up in the East Midlands. Continue reading

The Tiger’s Back – Just published!

book coverThe ninth Mac Maguire detective mystery The Tiger’s Back is now available in Amazon Books. Here’s the blurb –

‘It’s January and winter is biting hard. Mac has been asked to investigate the brutal murder of a homeless man in London by his grieving daughter. Meanwhile two of Mac’s police colleagues are looking into the suspicious death of a Cambridge history professor. Their paths cross and they realise that both deaths are somehow linked.

During the investigation Mac meets someone from his past, someone he’d hope that he’d never see again. The Tiger, the most fearsome and violent criminal that Mac had ever dealt with, is once again loose on the streets.’ Continue reading