Fame & Fortune

Is that why you scribble?

Is that your aim?

Could be yours, but it’s not mine.

Stoic pragmatism interwoven with a whisper of whimsical optimism, that’s me.

I’d like to be published.

To be published and be read.

And if read hopefully enjoyed.

That’s it.

That’s my aim.

It’s a simple wish.

One day, one day…

Stay safe – remain sane!

Potato prints on the fridge.

We all love our children; their achievements proudly displayed.

Potato print on the fridge case point.

Then you look at your own output.

Am I creating potato prints?

Are those nodding heads and words of encouragement really celebrating your creativity, or are they just saying “bless, he tried” (smile/don’t hurt his feelings)?

Self-belief is important, getting knocked down and standing up again – fall seven, stand eight etc.

Are we being tested to see if we have the resilience to go on, or are we ignoring the great reality check that is our potato print on the fridge?

But, at what point do we accept that the cosmos has been trying to tell us (somewhat bluntly) for several years, that our scribbles really are akin to potato prints on a fridge and not the superbly crafted narratives exploring the complexities of the human condition we think they are?

Stay safe – stay sane!

Bless me father for I have sinned.

It has been too long, far too long since I made any real progress with my writing.

I’ve more plasters than Elastoplast, more excuses than a lying politician.

I’ve dabbled.

I’ve looked.

I’ve written the odd word, tidied the odd phrase – but in real terms I’ve added no discernible progress.

Amy is in Peshawar waiting for me to write the next page, and Rose is still sat in a cottage waiting for all the fairies/murders etc to make sense.

Two women trapped by the interminable blink of my cursor…

If there is a reason for my lack of progress, I don’t know it.

I don’t have writer’s block.

The ideas still flow.

I haven’t fallen out of love with telling tall tales – that joy still exists.

But what I have done is wallowed in a mire.

I have Jabberwocky levels of distraction.

Rejections, both the silent and written polite ‘no, not for us’ have taken their toll, but those cuts aren’t really that deep.

I’m a big boy I can take it.

Yet still I write so very little.

Maybe it’s not them, possibly it is me?

Could we try a trial separation?

Maybe some enforced absence from the keyboard would help?

Maybe less naval gazing?

Maybe so many things.

We mutter, we muse, and we write so very little…

Stay safe – remain sane!

Great book, bad pitch, poor timing…

Ever wonder just how many ripping yarns never make it through a combination of a bad sales pitch and poor timing?

If the Agent in question, despite advertising otherwise, is really looking for the next moody teen angst/coming of age YA and you offer up your highly polished script about a nobody, who ends up touring the galaxy because aliens want to demolish the world to make way for a galactic super highway (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy c 16m sales), and you are indeed subject to that silent rejection what do you do?

Or what if your superbly crafted tale, an absolute byword for the narrative craft, is the tale of a man who marries a woman so that he can seduce the teenage daughter (Lolita c50m sales)?  Would your story ever pass the 30-second scan.  A grown man who seduces a child…  the police would be round your house quicker than a quick thing.

I’m not moaning, I’m not.  Neither am I comparing my work to either Nabokov or Adams. 

I am just attempting to articulate the real frustration, the near forlorn hope, that a teller of tall tales feels when offering up their work.

The pitch has to be perfect, your summary must pull the scales from jaded eyes, and above all your tale must, absolutely must make that ‘kerching’ sound of a cash register opening, and your timing, your timing must be superb! 

I’m not complaining in a woe is me kinda way, this little missive isn’t a pity party, these words are just me, blowing over the hot cup of tea, and mumbling into the great empty auditorium. 

The game is played thus, and I know and accept the rules. 

I’m still allowed to grind my teeth in frustration, that’s also in the rules.

This game is long, it is hard, the pitfalls many, and not all of them of your making, and the behemoth of the publishing world isn’t going to change because the fragile butterfly of your ego is bruised by another silent rejection…

Avē Imperātor, moritūrī tē salūtant (“Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you”)

Stay safe and try to remain sane!

Why Amy?

What’s it about?

Amy’s tale starts in 1884 and is a fast-paced chase across the British Empire.  Her quarry is Thomas Payne, the man who sold her into a brothel.  We have spectacular fights, Celtic folklore, and a whiff of steampunk.  Vengeance runs hand in hand with the slow recovery from trauma.  Eventually we have our showdown, our meeting of victim and prey, and then for Amy everything goes so sadly wrong.  What she gets isn’t what she needed.  Shots ring out and a broken woman flies away…

Who’s she like, give me contemporary pointers!

If Sally Lockhart had the grit of Lisbeth Salander and was moving in the darkness of Caleb Carr’s New York, then I think we would have a taste of young Miss Amy Grace. 

Why this tall tale, what has Amy got that others haven’t?   

To start with she passes both Bechdel and Mako Mori, she is a truly rounded and independent character, not a facsimile, not a simpering damsel waiting to be rescued.  She has flaws, failings, depths of despair.  She has all of these, and she has triumphs too.  Amy is driven, focused and vulnerable. 

She can channel the battle calm and power of warrior priestesses from Irish legend, but she isn’t dependent or driven by this energy – it aids, it does not dominate or define her.  The violence isn’t without consequence, she is knocked down, she is cut, and she bleeds, she suffers for her trials. 

Amy isn’t some big-busted Amazonian caricature, she is a petite 5’2” woman with a tower of red hair, and a temper to match.  She drinks whiskey, smokes, and dabbles with drugs.  She seeks no male companion to complete her, instead her occasional itches are scratched by warm and obliging women.  Amy is the amalgam of many things, but above all she is an interesting character without current equal or comparative singular reference.  She has all the potential to carve a space for herself in the literary world – she just needs a helping hand to get started. 

Tipping Point.

Every teller of tall tales gets here.

Each and every scribbler of stories reaches this point.

Are we kidding ourselves?

Do these scribbles really have value?

Would anyone really pay good money to read your writing?

Introspection is a lonely place.

I feel my stories have merit, I am adamant that they are ripe for commercial exploitation.

If you print them, you WILL make money.

And therein lies the crux.

Nobody else believes me.

My path is lonely, is one of solitude, the loneliness of a long-distance runner…

To stop, or to make one last push?

We are at that tipping point.

To go on, or to stop.

The will once so resolute, this we are slowly losing.

Stay safe – remain sane!

A Black Heart

Ever write anything so dark, so gruesome, that if it was ever to make it to celluloid, protests and riots would be a real possibility?

Did you ever scribble something that was so dark that Beta readers now avoid eye contact?

I have such a segment.

I’ve added it, taken it away, and then reinserted it.

It is cruel, on any objective measure it is indeed a dark collection of words.

But I wrote it.

I’m not a dark man, a sadistic or remotely cruel man, but write this thing indeed I did.

Writers somehow find those dark images and bring them into the light.

It is strange.

Quiet unassuming tea drinking man describes depravity…

I could delete it and many related passages.

I could paint it all magnolia sweetness and light with all the dramatic tension of an episode of the Brady Bunch.

I could, but I won’t.



Evil exists, glib euphemistic descriptors don’t do it, and especially for those who suffer and then survive, the truth of such events needs to be told. 

I’m not a bad/sad man hiding behind blue eyes.

Empathy is key.

Respect paramount.

Torture porn isn’t my thing.

Maybe folk will wince, feal uncomfortable and read on – I hope they do.

Stay safe – be kind to yourself and be kind to as many other people as you can!

She’s dead.

It took me some time.

It’s taken me years, but she’s now very much dead.

We’ve written it, told that tale, scribbled those all-important lines.

Something I very much didn’t want to do; I have now done.

It’s no small thing, but at the same time it really is.

A character is the written word, not a beating heart – although as the writer it so much feels like the latter.

Amy had a beginning, and so too did she need an ending.

I think (I hope) that what I’ve written is in keeping with the life that she led.

I hope that I’ve done her justice, kept her true to herself and those that she loved.

Her tale isn’t over, legacies live on.

Stay safe and remain sane!

Thou shalt not kill.  

One of the oft quoted anecdotes about the American involvement in Vietnam, was the apparent unwillingness of a lot of soldiers to shoot and kill. 

Lots of shots would be fired, but the aim of most was more in the general area than aimed at a specific target. 

I’m not going to overuse this analogy, but it is relevant.  

I need to kill a loved character.

Yet I cannot.

I skirt the issue, find excuses, avoid the subject; start other projects…

She, like us all, must die, but I cannot pull that metaphorical trigger.

I cannot scribble those necessary words.

I’ve got the whole sorry scenario on my head, but the closer I come, the slower I type, the more I go back pages upon pages and titivate, anything other than kill her.

But she must die.

She must.

This is my struggle, but please feel no pity.

A cold heart is needed, a firm resolve required.

In this matter I have neither.

Stay safe – remain sane!

Isle of Percy – A Love Story.

Never set out to write an honest to goodness Hallmark Christmas Movie styled tale of love and devotion. 

But indeed, here we are. 

I am by nature a chaotic/anarchic writer.

No real plan, no structure, I just throw words at the screen and by a combination of luck and a modicum of ability I end up with a tale.  

A beginning, a middle, and an end (of sorts).

Yet, a love story, a romance novel, this must follow a formula.

This tale, this genre of all available artistic endeavours we are told MUST adhere to the agreed pacing and plot structure – mustn’t it?

We simply must have our voyage of tentative circling, the love that all but those involved can see.  We then have the mistaken interpretation  (hugging a friend) that almost scuppers the destined love affair; and then just as the pages run out, just before the credits run, they hug, all errors are corrected and love rules supreme.

So, if that’s the structure, can I write one?

Can my tale of love between a German Soldier and a Channel Island woman work?

It might, indeed it may not, but it I think will be a more than beneficial exercise.

So, grab the box of tissues and bottle of Prosecco, we are about to make you lick your finger, your heart race as we run out of pages…

Will they, or won’t they?

Stay safe and remain sane!