When the Chips are Thrown

A couple of weeks ago I spotted the following image on Twitter

chips in Aber

Now at first read, I didn’t believe it, this had to be a joke, right?  Who’s really that bothered by chips being through?  But then I was looking for the image for a blog, and I couldn’t remember the details, so I put in something like “Arrest throwing chips”.  That was when disbelief really set in.

I started seeing some really unpleasant things, domestic attacks, racist attacks, burns and general stupidity.

Chips thrown at someone on a bus, general stupidity, might sound like a twisted sense of humour; but when it’s part of racist hate attack, it’s serious and unpleasant and shouldn’t be tolerated in any society.

Then there was the passenger who was murdered on a bus because they tried to stop the murderer throwing chips.

Then you get the awful cases where, it’s not just the chips, but the chip fat that thrown.  Work place confrontations, domestic arguments.  Some of it really terrible, and I won’t share pictures of that.

So why am I writing about this in a writers blog?  Because this started with what seemed to be a funny story, very quickly became something truly horrific and that always makes for a good story.


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A Lucky Woman

I am White – luck of birth

I am English – luck of birth

I am able-bodied – luck of birth

I had a Comprehensive Education – luck of birth, country, and hard work

I have a degree – luck of hard work

I am in full time in employment – luck of hard work

I am married – luck and work

I have published novels – luck of hard work

I have contracts for publishing more novels – luck of hard work

I am known as a good baker – luck of hard work (and a few baker’s secrets)

I have a comfortable home – luck of hard work


I have two wonderful, intelligent, capable, talented children who I hope will one day be able to say the above too.

I also have depression, that’s the luck of birth too.  I look in the mirror and I don’t like the woman I see, that’s depression and mental conditioning that is hard to overcome, and I fight that battle every day.  The downsides of the condition are terrible, but the upside is that when I’m up, I am up, and I can see how lucky I am to have all the luck I have in my life, the things, the achievements and the people, which was why I started making this list.  Also, so I remember this list.

Sometimes I will act, and be, an insensitive, selfish, privileged jerk who doesn’t understand the difficulties that others go through every day of their lives, on account of I am lucky to be privileged and I don’t always see that. I’ve never been rich or beautiful or famous, probably never will be, but I’ve never been brutally attacked, I’ve never been shouted at in the street for having the ‘wrong’ colour skin, I’ve never been barred from doing anything because I have a visible physical disability.  So forgive me if I don’t instantly get it, not being a jerk is another daily battle I don’t always win.  I try to do better, and because the people around me make it worthwhile.  So if you see me “not getting it”, give me a mental slap and an explanation, because I am working on it.

Because I’ve been lucky.

And because as I heard quoted today “The harder I work, the luckier I become.”


(and to all my writing/editing pals – I know sentences shouldn’t start with conjunctions, but tough – it’s common usage init)

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Seven In One

Yesterday was the first time I ever attended a convention as a trader, and it was quite an experience.

This was BristolCon ninth year, and another writer friend of mine, Will MacMillian Jones, had suggested it would be a good place to promote my steampunk stuff.  Well, I’m always up for that kind of thing, especially something that it’s a million miles away from home.

So I contacted the organisers and booked half a table, got to the venue and set up – which took all of ten minutes.  Well, it was never going to take long, I only have one steampunk book written!

Of course, I didn’t want to look like a complete newbie, as well as Shades of Aether, I took copies of two other books to sell; Locked Up, my contemporary crime novel; and Cthulhu Cymreag 2, the anthology I have a story in.  I wasn’t entirely sure that these were appropriate, but one should never miss an opportunity.

Turns out having additional books was a great idea, table would have looked bare without, especially when it turned out that the person how had the other half of the table dropped out at the last minute, and I got to spread across the whole table.


So I was there, copies of three different books to sell, all I had to do was wait was customers.

Sounds easy, but it never is.  Engaging with people is actually rather difficult.  It was easy to engage with other traders, with them we are all in the same boat, stuck together for however long the day lasts.  Potential customers, however are much harder to catch, especially when you have three books to glance at their covers and your sandwiched between the Oxfam Book Shop with tonnes of second hand books and Grimbold Books, with their many and varied new titles, their cute mascots, and their award – all very impressive.

Still, I engaged enough to sell, though I was a little surprised to find that at a Sci-Fi convention the first thing to sell was Locked Up. By the end of the day I’d sold two Locked Up, two Cthulhu Cymreag and three Shades of Aether. Seven books in one day is not much, but it’s good for what I had to sell.  It also means that I sold enough to cover the cost of the table, which is what you need to do at these things because it’s really about exposure.  I made some good contacts and booked another table for next year, I might even be on a panel or two.

So I will be at the 10th Anniversary BristolCon next year, and hopefully, I’ll have more titles to sell.

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Minor Character Shift

When writing Locked Up, Charlie developed pretty quickly, and soon after I had Teddington too.  But it’s a rare book indeed that survives on just two characters.  Even when you only actually see two, others tend to get referenced.

And since my book is set in an overcrowded prison, I needed lots of characters and I had to know who each of them were.  Some I knew better than others, and some became friends faster than I was expecting.

When I started writing the whole book was to be carried by Charlie; that he would do all the leg work, find out everything.  But the reality of any real investigation is that it is a team effort and Charlie really wasn’t at liberty to go far.

Of course, Teddington was the obvious choice to assist, but even she was limited by her knowledge  (or rather lack of) investigative practices.

Besides, there was Piper.  DCI Piper was always going to be in the book, because procedural checks told me that the police would look into a murder inside a prison.  Originally that was all he was going to do.  Turn up and allow a whitewash.

Then I wrote his opening scene.

Without me really thinking about it, Charlie knew Piper, knew him well. Worked with him.  Admired him. And I knew Charlie.  Charlie wouldn’t admire a bent or even a lazy cop.  He just wouldn’t.  His instincts are good enough he wouldn’t be easily fooled either.

That changed who Piper had to be.  Then I started really thinking about who he was, what he would be like, how he could help.

Suddenly Piper stepped out of the shadows.

And when Piper stepped out, Carlisle stepped out too.  DS Carlisle was a bit of a surprise to me.   Hadn’t expected him to be much more than a couple of “Yes, Sir”s,  but he turned into way, way more.  In fact, it’s Carlisle that keeps surprising me.  I am currently writing book three and Carlisle has taken a path I never expected from a character originally intended to be a nothing more than a procedural prop.

Then there were the other characters; the prisoners and the prison officers.  There had to be enough of them for the population to be realistic, but not so many it confused the reader.   Have to admit I kind of misjudged this one and in the final edit I slashed ten characters out of existence.

Have to also say that there is one minor character in “Locked Up” that I have known for a very long time.  Jack Perkins.  Perkins is a grade A (insert insult of choice – they all work).  He’s  a misogynistic wife beater, a bully of the worse kind.  I know Jack because I know his wife. I wrote two and a half books about her.  They didn’t stand up to scrutiny so you’ll never meet his wife but I’ll always know her and Jack, being the “man” he is, with a back story of jail time, fit perfectly into “Locked Up”, so I used him, it’s what he’d do to any woman he had under his control.  He’s still a minor character, and that is all he’s worth, but I know him very well.

I know many of the other inmates, may be not quite so well, but better than the readers will ever know them. I know what they are in for, their crime, and I know what they are in for, their fate.  The readers won’t necessarily see all that because there are a lot of things that I didn’t put on the page – there is nothing worse than trawling through superfluous information that doesn’t matter.  I also know that I can afford to forget these people now because they aren’t likely to crop up again; unless like Jack they are the piece that fits the puzzle, in which case, knowing the weird way my memory works, I’ll remember them, and if I don’t, they’ll knock on my skull and make me remember them.

Characters really are people, the good ones are real people, and like people, characters can surprise you.  As a writer, I think that makes for better, more interesting characters, which makes for more interesting books, but you, the reader, will be the true judge of that.

While most of the intended to be minor characters stayed that way, Piper and Carlisle did not. That pair have more surprises in store and if you read the Locked series, they may surprise you too.

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Thank You Bloggers!

What they said - On The Shelf Reviews - Lorna Cassidy“Locked Up” was released one month ago today, and it’s been a wonderful whirlwind.  But the reality is that a book launch takes a lot of people.  And yes, there’s all the people from Bloodhound Books that I want to thank, but I’m not going to be doing the Oscar list that lasts forever thing here. Today, I want to say a very special thank you to those who don’t have any vested interest; the independent book bloggers.

As a writer it is only from reviews that I get any idea if what I’ve created is really any good. And the reviews I got were something special.  I tried to thank each blogger, but given that I was away from home at the time of the blog tour, I suspect I will have missed a few.  So here they are all (in alphabetical order – and yes these links do take you directly to what they said about “Locked Up”):

Ali the dragon slayer

Anne Bonny Book Reviews

Books N All



By the letter Book Review

Donnas Book Blog

Jessicamap Reviews

Keeper of Pages

Me and My Books

The Writing Garnet

The p. turners book blog

Rae Reads

The TBR Pile

The Quiet Geordie



These people took the time and effort to not only read my book, but to write blogs, to invest in it and therefore in me and my future as a writer, so I feel the need to say thank you for that.

The fact that they said some absolutely wonderful things about my work only makes it better. I’ve add a few snippets at the bottom of this article so you can see some of those nice things, but please click the links and show these reviewers the respect of reading their full reviews, and I can recommend following them too, they’ve already introduced me to some books I may never have found otherwise.

And this isn’t a love-fest thing.  These reviewers are honest, there was no guarantee they would live my work.  One even shocked me!  The reviewer said they didn’t like my characters, that stopped me, I wondered what on earth I’d done wrong.  Then came the rejoinder – the reviewer quickly grew to love them – which was something of a relief.

Then there were all the gritty references, and the fact that it got classified as hardboiled that really threw me.  I didn’t realise how gritty “Locked Up” was until post publication.  The thing is, I know just how much dark unpleasantry that I either took out or didn’t even put in, so I thought it was fairly light, face paced yes, that I was going for, but hardboiled was surprising. Took a little time, about an hour and a friend virtually clipping my ear for being stupid, but I’m comfortable with “Locked Up” being called hardboiled now. So there is another thing to thank the reviewers for, I am now starting to understand what I am good at, and that has to be good for the future of my writing.

So thank you reviewers.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.





Here are some of the lovely words they passed on (In no particular order):

“I think this was very accurate of its portrayal of the prison system and the lives prisoners lead.”  (AnneBonney)

“Locked Up is a brilliant piece of writing that ensures the reader is glued to the page in order not to miss anything. By the end of the book I wanted more.” (Ali – The Dragon Slayer)

“A novel that kept me invested in the characters and their stories, with the developments unfolding in a way that had tension, suspense and an edge of fear….brilliant debut novel”  (Bookstormer)

“Wowsers! That was an adrenaline rush and a half! LOCKED UP is a fast paced, sometimes unbelievable (in a good way!), exciting rush.” (The P. Turners book blog)

“…the pacing is really good where something was always happening to keep my interest. I found myself seemingly always on alert reading this book and this was down to the writing, GB Williams definitely kept me on my toes.” (Rea Reads)

“This is a hard-hitting book and is not for the squeamish, especially towards the end.” (Me and My Books)

“the writer has delivered a tale that captures the underlying threat of violence and intimidation that stalks the landings of so many prisons. It gives this novel an edgy grittiness that turns it into a real page turner.”(Booksaremycwtches)

“In the opening pages, I found I quickly disliked Bell and Teddington, and I was worried, how was I going to get into this plot if I don’t like the two main protagonists!? I really need to stop worrying, and trust in this genre I love, because I grew to love both characters.”  (Keeper of Pages)

“This is a very realistic picture of what real life is like inside a prison with no sugar coating. It makes for very hard reading in places and takes the reader on a journey through many emotions as we navigate the twists, turns and dead ends that is this book.”  (Books n all)

“I’ll just say that this book is one you’re going to want to clear out some time for, because once you start, you won’t want to stop!”  (Jessicamp Reviews – great nails in the picture!)

“The pace for the story is spot on and the main characters are strong and work well together to carry the plot along.”  (Donnasbookblog)

“A cut-throat, spine tingling, hair-raising and severely eye-opening novel … This is too good to miss.”  (The Writing Garnet)









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Research and Rewrite

Man outlineThanks to a contact, I’ve been in contact with officers from South Wales Police, a Chief Superintendent and a Detective Chief Inspector, to ask procedural questions.


Just wow!

I had no idea that they would be as helpful as they were.  I have more than enough information for my current work in progress, and then some.  Books worth if I wanted to go in that direction.

The thing is, every sentence made me think, yep that’s usable, or that has potential.  It’s completely changed the way I see my latest work going.  The main outline isn’t changing – MUCH, but the details will. So I’m going to go spend some time re-plotting and then re-writing.

See you on the other side.  😀

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Stories from the Fringe

As unaccustomed as I am to public speaking…

Yes well, I am unused to it, but I’m getting there.  I need to.  While writing is a solitary activity, writers survive by the words of others.  The words of reviews, and more importantly, word of mouth sells our books, and that is what we all need.

So when there is an opportunity to promote a book by doing a reading, then a writer has to take that chance.

The truth of the matter is – I don’t like public speaking.  Getting up in front of a crowd is one of the most frightening things I do.  But I did a read in London a few months ago and today I’ve been in Swansea to do another.

This weekend is the Swansea Fringe and there are many and varied activities going on.  So when Cthulhu Cymraeg 2: Off the Page event came up, of course, I had to agree to do a reading, after all, one of my short stories is in the anthology “Cthulhu Cymraeg 2.”

I arrived early (a bad habit of mine), meet Mark Howard Jones, the editor of the volume and other writers and was given slot three to read.

Picking a middle section of the story, “Confluence of Graves”, I read of how the main characters had found tunnels under an abandoned house, and the terrible things that they started to find there.

It wasn’t the world’s largest audience, but I didn’t dare look up from the page in case they looked bored.  I was still near the start when I was put off by the arrival of a woman at the top of the stairs to the room we were using.  I paused and invited her in, but she was just there to take photos.  Now that is another thing I am not comfortable with.  So there I was already uncomfortable reading to an audience, made more uncomfortable by the photographer doing what she’s supposed to do.  Thank God I’d had the sense to put on green base to counter the blushing!

I got through the reading and was applauded (there’s a strange experience), but after, one lady from the audience came up and told me that after the reading she couldn’t wait to read my story and find out what happened.  Now that’s praise!  It may not sound like much to other people, but it matters to me.  I write because I write, I am truly driven to write.  Now I could easily just keep my writing to myself, but I don’t, I want to share it, to show what I really am.  So to have a reader say how much they enjoyed my work means so much to me that I don’t know how to properly explain it.

Then came the other weird experience – being asked to sign books.  That’s never happened before, but I must have signed about ten today, and to add to the piquancy of this experience, I’d cheekily taken copies of two of my other books – “Locked Up” and “Shades of Aether”.  I sold copies of each!

DSCN2085Not a bad days work at all.

Thanks then to Mark for including me in the anthology, thanks for Swansea Fringe for offering us all a spot, thanks to Gamers Emporium for hosting the event, and thanks to those wonderful people who turned up and listened, and a special thanks to those who dug deep and bought a copy of a book, any book.


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