Rare Reviews

Please review

Hi all,

I need your help, selling books is a business and that’s something I really want to do well.

I think most people know that Amazon runs algorithms on books and only promotes when a book has a certain number of reviews.  And there are levels to those algorithms. The more reviews the book gets, the more Amazon will promote it.  So please, please, if you’ve read any of my books, please post a review.  You don’t have to write masses, “I enjoyed reading this” is enough, but please, if you did enjoy my work, leave an honest review and tell other readers.

Thank you for your support.


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Coming out of it

Life is full of difficult moments, tough choices.  I’ve not been around much this last month because I’ve been walking with the Black Dog. That doesn’t mean that I’ve been doing nothing. Mostly I’ve been writing and trying, and I’m going to keep on writing and trying, and who knows sometime it might pay off.

Today I wrote a passage about a character who did something only to feel crushed and embarrassed by the action later. That’s something I’ve done, I’m sure a lot of other people had done the same.  It got me thinking. I’ve been reflecting on how my life shows in my writing. And it does. While I’m not adventurous, I don’t have the courage my characters show, I sure know how to make myself feel bad. I look at the characters that I put on paper and I put them through hell because that’s the crap I put myself through.

Take Charlie Bell.  He’s a copper life – or I – turned into a killer. He ruined his life by making a difficult choice.  He knew what he was doing and it didn’t stop him doing it despite the cost because it was the only way.  Of course, he didn’t realise quite how much it was going to cost him. When he discovers the final payment, he shuts down.  Won’t eat. Won’t communicate. Won’t even move. Everything is too much of a bother.

This is typical depression non-activity. Except for me.  Comfort food is my downfall. Not much stops me eating.

But I get over it, and Charlie is forced to get out of his dark moment too.  To find out what pushed him over the edge, and what brought him back in Locked Up.

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Train Ride for the Dead

Most of us think of trains as a thing to take the living to work or for pleasure.  But that wasn’t always the case.

When cholera epidemic in 1848-49 struck, the cemeteries of London were full, and the dead had to be taken elsewhere.  So they built a railway for the dead, complete with a luxury lounge for the first class mourners.

I stumbled over this while looking for funeral arrangements in the 1800s, and the more I read the more interesting I though it.  The articles I read were more interesting than any I can lay before you, so the links are below.

NecropolisAlso worth a look for the photographs of the mourners lounge, it’s an exterior view but the image just shows the great care and workmanship that went into the building.  Now admittedly I’ve always had a soft pot for glazed bricks, I think they finish a building beautifully, and I mourn the lost of such things in the modern era.  Still, taste and time moves on, but it’s always worth keeping an eye on history and this might interest some of you.




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Keeping Up with the Changes

Image result for ipcc to iopc

When writing crime, there’s a distinct need to do your research.  So when I heard that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was being replaced, I wanted to know more.

The IPCC has gained itself some mistrust after investigations into how several men died in custody (separate incidents). Relatives of the suspects killed and injured in police custody have expressed doubts about the actual independence of the IPCC.

The replacement is the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the IOPC.  The Home Office say that the new structure will “ensure greater accountability to the public”.

On-going investigations will be transferred, by the question to my mind is, aside from the name, what will the difference be?  Well, one of the big difference will be that the IOPC will be able to launch its own investigations without referrals from police and making its probes completely separate from those carried out internally by forces.

That sounds like a good change to me, here’s one that I’m less certain about.  The IOPC will also be able to bring disciplinary cases against police officers even if their home force disagrees with its findings and takes no action.  I can see how this could overcome some in-house cover-ups, but I also believe that local knowledge plays a big part in policing and the force itself will have that, the IOPC won’t.

Still, the first real improvement doubtless outweighs the second secondary concern.

As a writer, this now means that I have to give real thought to which organisation I refer to in any future work, and in you have a work in progress that includes the IPCC, maybe you should consider the move now not to date your work before it goes out there.

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I Am Not Depressed

I have posted several blogs about depression but that’s not actually why I’m writing this, I’m simply using it as a tool to explain how I know I’m not depressed.

Depression feels like I want to explode, fragment into a million pieces that will be scattered by the wind. It’s an internal pressure building up inside that needs to burst out. Part of what I do to move through depression is to remember that the day job has a large element of things that only I can do and that the team needs me to go to work and do those things. That external pull helps me pull myself together.

What I’m feeling now is so much weight on me that I think I might just end up imploding into so many fragments that I’d just be dust. This is an external pressure building from the outside and being pressing down on me. And now thinking that I’m the only one in the team that can do certain things and they need me to go to work and do those these actually leaves me feeling sick. Hell, just typing the thought has knotted my innards.

You see I’m not depressed, I’m stressed. So stressed that I actually broke into tears in the office on Friday. I really don’t know how I am going to cope on Monday.

The point of writing this is really to admit to myself that I have a mental health issue, just not the one I usually have to admit to. The real difference, unfortunately, is that I know what works for me when dealing with depression, but this isn’t depression and I am at a loss to know what to do for the best.

Any advice would be welcome, feel free to comment. Ta.


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MacGuffin or Rube Goldberg

Steampunk has a wonderful tradition of making stuff up.  It’s one of the things I love about the genre and the makes that seem to go along with it, not that I’m personally any good at those.

My making is done with words, it’s all description, but I still have to understand and envisage it right. Which means that I also have to know my MacGuffins from my Rube Goldberg machines.

So what is the difference?

According to Google, a MacGuffin is “an object or device in a film or a book which serves merely as a trigger for the plot.”  So in my books, the big MacGuffin is the Aether, but also CAMM in Shades and DMAC, in Echoes.  In films MacGuffins you’ll see include The Case in Pulp Fiction, The Holy Grail in Indian Jones and the Last Crusade, the Tesseract in the Avengers movies, the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  These things exist all over.

A Rube Goldberg machine, on the other hand, is “a deliberately complex contraption in which a series of devices that perform simple tasks are linked together to produce a domino effect in which activating one device triggers the next device in the sequence. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor of such contraptions, Rube Goldberg.” (Wikipedia)

Rube Goldberg machines are used in a car ad that was so impactful I remember the ad, but not the car.  In films, my favourite Rube Goldberg machine is the breakfast maker in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

So MacGuffins and Rube Goldbergs, fun and fascinating objects, look out for them.

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Sense of Smell

While thinking about my writing, I’ve noticed something odd.  I give my lead female characters a scent.  Don’t do it so much with the men, but the women have it whether they be published or not.

I do know that our sense of smell is one of the strongest for memory recall.  So putting smell into a scene can’t hurt.

Ariadne Teddington, the heroine of Locked Up, Locked In and Locked Down, carries the scent of fresh apples.  It’s mostly her shampoo and it smells a lot better than the claustrophobic, testosterone-packed corridors of the prison where she works.

Amethyst Forrester from my Of Aether steampunk series, bears the aroma of lavender.  In her defence, we are talking about a Victorian lady so she uses what she can.  Yes, I know that there were plenty of perfumeries around in the Victorian era, but she grew up without a lot of money, and a number of lavender bushes in the back garden.  Oh, must remember to have her plant more in the new house.

Jessica MacDonald appears in a few short stories I’ve written, she’s a pathologist who smells of warm vanilla.  I’m guessing that no one wants to smell of dead bodies.

Then I thought about the heroine of my next set of books.  I know her, but won’t reveal to much of her yet.  But when thinking of her, I spent ages trying to remember what she smells of.  Couldn’t do it.  So I went to my files and had a quick check.  She doesn’t smell of anything particularly and after checking I know why.  It’s not because she’s stinky and doesn’t wash, and it’s not mentioned anywhere either, but I know her and I know why.  She doesn’t have a signature scent because she mostly uses unscented products but even breaks that rule occasionally because the products she does buy are whatever is on offer at the time.

Off the top of my head, the only published character who I know has a distinctive smell is Janet Evanovich’s Ranger.  Love Ranger in the books.  He uses Bvlgari, can’t recall exactly what one, other than it was in dark green packaging.

So what about you?  Do your characters have a scent that distinguishes them?


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