Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Writing outside of my comfort zone

I said in a previous post, that I was finding interacting with other aspiring and / or experienced and published writers was becoming addictive.

In the space of the last week, I have found the courage to move beyond my comfort zone.

On a group 'The Writers Discussion Group' there is a weekly competition for members to write and submit a 600 word short story, the prompt for which may be a photo, or a few opening or closing words, or even a song.

I have submitted two short stories in two weeks. One was what I would call 'sc-fi' and the second quite a dark sinister horror / dark humour.

Moi? I have never written either before, nor have I ever had the inclination to do so.

I have also joined a smaller group - 'Dark Humour' - and just written a very short, short merging a bit of 'Forest Gump' and a bit of 'Saving Private Ryan' and turned Tom Hanks into a murderous sociopath. What?

I have also joined a Poetry group.

My latest venture is a collaborative project with writers from UK, USA & New Zealand, and a possible illustrator. Something of a work in progress.

My writing is becoming as eclectic as my music tastes, but I am loving the diversity and the chance to try new things from lessons learned.

If you subscribe to these groups, look up the competitions, and have a go, they are fun! FUN ! FUN! 

Monday, 25 February 2013

End of first series Ripper Street

Well; Eight episodes and mixed feelings.

I am still not sure whether I have really enjoyed the series or not. In reality some bits I have, whereas others I have not.

It has been an experience, and a great opportunity for me, as a writer of novels set in Victorian Leicester, to look at how a script-writer brings to life a bit of old England, but in this case, some forty years later than mine originate.

There has been more than a fair share of violence, that must have existed given the nature of the beast that was 1890 England.

There has been more than a fair share of turning a blind eye to Police ' doing things a little unethically' or being downright illegal themselves.


It catches viewers.

Has the series done enough to encourage me to keep an eye out for series two?

Of course it has! I am a hopeless optimist and pessimist and something might or might not improve upon what they have done. So, I will watch again.

Was episode eight predicatable?

Pretty much...BUT then again...

It was clear that Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) would not be written off on the gallows as 'Ripper'. That would leave a big gap for series two.

Did Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) find his daughter in the end?

We all thought he was going to part way through the episode. Well done BBC and thanks for keeping one iron in the fire for series two! So the answer was no, but what a finish.

Did Rose (Charlene McKenna) find her way back to DS Bennett Drake (Jerome Flynn)?

Not this time. Series Two? Perhaps.

Did Reid get to bed Miss Goren (Lucy Cohu)?

Certainly looked that way to me, once or twice. There is still a flame flickering! What next?

What of Reid's wife Emily (Amanda Hale). Too goody two shoes. She needs to find a seedier side! Perhaps Rose will educate her?

The storyline of a former Ripper suspect, Victor Silver (David Oakes - who gave a sound Hannibal Lecterish performance as a cold and sly abductor of young waifs, ably accompanied by his really sinister sister Clarrisa Clarice? - another Lecterish tie, who probably was the nastiest villain of the series, and who really wanted hanging) brought the series to an 'ish' ending.

Is Reid's daughter in Argentina? We never asked nor had it answered or suggested. Why ever not?

Loved the scalping and fake torture scene. Like that would ever happen! Ho Ho!

There is room for a second series and room for some 'tightening up' of historical innaccuracies. The odd item slipped in before it had been invented, or even conceived.

The cops need to be a bit harder, but a bit more credible in the next series.

Whitechapel needs to be a  bit more 'London Town' than the wild west.

What would I do?

Read my first book from 'The Borough Boys' series, 'Jack Ketch's Puppets' which should be out by this summer! See what the Old Bill were like in 1850 Leicester! Meet Samson Shepherd and John Beddows - Leicester's Regan and Carter of the time!



Sunday, 24 February 2013


Here it is folks, official cover now included;

Leicestershire Myth and Legend - in verse

Shortly to be available through Createspace and outlets, and via Amazon KDP.

ISBN-13 978 - 1482566437

ISBN-10 1482566435

As a paperback through Createspace outlets £3.50 GBP; $4 USD; 4 EUR.

KDP - tba - probably between £0.99 and 1.99 as an ebook.

Once I have viewed the paperback proof which is winging its way from USA, I will update further, shortly!

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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The value of blogging and discussion groups

I have become an addict!

My aversion to blogs and blogging has been cured, to the point that I have now become so involved in them and with them, that they are filling up my spare time!

The danger is that they should not become a distraction from my main purpose, which is to write novels!

What I have learned is that there are several GREAT discussion groups out there, and an awful lot of information sharing, mentoring, tuition and constructive criticism is openly available.

I have added links to about eight or nine on my new website

If you are not aware of them, or as a writer have yet to immerse yourself in them, give them a try.

The Writers Community and The Writers Discussion Group have been incredibly welcoming and informative, and deserve special mention.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Review - Episode 7 - Ripper Street 'A man of my company'

Hi Guys;

After a week off last week for some awards programme or other , I was really looking forward to last night's episode.

I am bitterly disappointed. I thought I was watching a series set in impoverished Whitechapel, but last night it made a giant leap to Dodge City!

BBC script writers, what are you thinking?

First disappointment - back in my review of episode 4, I highlighted the role of the emerging PC Dick Hobbs (Jonathan Barnwell) who had all the makings of a bright young copper - just like Samson Shepherd in 'The Borough Boys' , my first novel.

I did suggest that I hoped he would not be made a 'sacrificial lamb' like so many other young cops have in the past (Remember PC Sweet in Z-Cars?).

Last night they killed him off! Spoo!

That aside, the story was set around the arrival of a wealthy American businessman, and his minders, a gang of 'Pinkerton' men, with their own agenda - to seek out Long Susan and Homer Jackson and seek retribution for an earlier incident in the good old USA.

The main protagonist - Frank Goodnight - (what a name!) - played by Edoardo Ballerini, a knife wielding, gun toting killer, goes around Whitechapel and has chalked up two kills very quickly, severing spines and drowning opposition, including PC Hobbs.

Prostitues are beaten up to try and identify where Long Susan's 'Abbey' is located, and to track down Jackson.

I also identified earlier that clearly Jackson was NOT Jackson, and last night we learned that he used to be known as Matthew Judge, and he had killed Goodnight's brother in a gunfight.

Sadly, from that point onwards, the show deteriorated, and DI Reid and DS Drake appeared inadequate and powerless to arrest and beat up the Americans, which they jolly well deserved. A MISSED OPPORTUNITY BBC SCRIPTWRITERS!

Not only that, it was then suggested in closing scenes, that the same Officers would just stand back, and Leman Street suddenly became the OK Corral, with Jackson (Or Judge) at one end, and Goodnight at the other, one shot each, in a duel.

The last duel actually fought on English soil took place at Old Windsor on October 14th 1852, in a part of the Beaumont estate off Priest Hill. Both participants were French, a formal naval captain named Cournet and a civil engineer named Bartlemey.  

I smiled when Jackson pulled out his pocket watch, and sat in anticipation of a quick musical interlude a la 'fistful of dollars' style, but sadly they bottled (The BBC!)

And after all that, Jackson was the only man with a round left, and rather than Goodnight being arrested for murders, Reid allowed Jackson to walk down the street and execute him in front of the Hack - Best - and a packed street full of Coppers and East-Enders!

So, Jackson was not just Judge, but Jury and Executioner!!!!! LOL

What was that all about? Like it would happen? 

BBC please take a reality check before you go ahead with endings like that - they are spoiling what was otherwise becoming a very good series!!!!!


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Leicestershire Myths and Legends in verse

My new collection of 'Leicestershire Myth and Legend in verse' is now awaiting publication by both Createspace and Amazon KDP.

This is a collection that I originally wrote as lyrics and short stories in verse form, for Leicestershire Folk evenings.

Like everything, procrastination became the thief of time, and I still haven't got round to putting to music or having the courage to perform.

So, I have decided to publish instead.

The Myth and Legend covered includes;-

  • Black Annis - the witch of Dane Hills
  • Bel the Giant
  • King Leir (that is the correct and original spelling Shakespeare fans!)
  • Lady Jane Grey
  • The Blue Boar Inn
  • George Davenport - the Wigston Highwayman
  • James Cook - the last man in the gibbet
  • Joseph Carey (aka John) Merrick - the Elephant Man
The prices are yet to be finalised, but the suggested price in paperback form is £2.99 sterling; $4 US dollars; 3 Euros.

Title id: 4175733

ISBN - 13: 978 - 1482566437

ISBN - 10: 1482566435

The ebook through KDP is still awaiting review approval.

As soon as I know more, I will update this site.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Death in Paradise - BBC - Tuesday 12th February 2013

I am going to pick up on one aspect alone from Tuesday's episode, which made the whole episode for me.

I love the character that has been developed by Ben Miller, the bumbling, deep, shy, sensitive, cautious, hesitant, neurotic Inspector Richard Poole.

Several critics of this programme have denounced it as rubbish.

I think they are looking for something different!

This is a good old fashioned, light-hearted, who-dunnit? in the realms of Midsummer Murders, but in a warmer climate!

They (the so called professional critics) are missing the stories behind the stories.

How many of you have been the victim of the bullying boss, team leader, dominant peer?

I bloody well have! 

And for ages I hadn't got a clue how to deal with them, or rather I hadn't developed the self-confidence to deal with them.

In this episode, the neurotic, timid side of Richard Poole is totally exposed, as he comes face to face with a good, old fashioned, corrupt, bullying, arrogant, Met Detective, and his former boss.

There is clearly history, and it is clearly founded on intimidation.

As the investigation into the murder of a disabled holiday-maker, who just happens to be his ex-boss's wife develops, you can sense that Poole is under huge pressure based on the previous relationship.

But, as history shows, every dog has its day, and this was to be Richard Poole's, as he traps his ex-boss and rightly is rewarded with a delightful 'payback' opportunity!

How many of us would have loved that opportunity at one point in our lives?

So, for all of you who have bullied me in the past, BEWARE! 

My pen may become your downfall - YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!

Positive value of 'rejection letters'

I find rejection letters from Literary Agencies quite a lot better than some comments had lead me to believe. 

I also appreciate that some have also become adept at gentle let-downs.

However, I have just had one of the most 'promising' rejection letters to date, from a major UK agency, who actually stated that they had 'read my first novel, and thought it stronger than many recent submissions, and an enjoyable read'. 

Should I relish such a rejection letter?


That actually gives me so much more hope, as the rejection was more about not identifying a publisher who would take the genre, rather than the text itself not being up to the mark.

I wish all agencies could be so emphatic - for better or worse - and include a short constructive critique. 

It might deter those who decide to put their draft back on the shelf!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Dusting off the old me

I have been encouraged by family and friends to have a look back at some stuff I did a few years ago, when I started to teach myself Guitar, and I actually sat down and wrote quite a few sets of lyrics.

I also transposed some into a collection of poetry addressing Leicestershire Myths and Legends.

It has been an interesting exercise, and I have enjoyed looking at what I was writing then, and how I am writing now.

One or two pieces I actually felt confident to submit for Poetry competitions, and have just sent off entries to the 'Bridport Prize' as a result of dusting them off and sprucing them up.

I have also just submitted my first 100 word story competition for the 'Jeffrey Archer Prize' for Kobo / Curtis Brown Agency.

That was quite an interesting exercise, with just 100 words to convey an entire concept from start to finish.

The beauty of the 'dusting off' is also that it has furnished me with another short book that I shall look to publish in the forthcoming weeks, and broaden my audience, hopefully.

This writing habit is becoming addictive!

Monday, 11 February 2013

License to distort fact from fiction

Hi everyone! 

A break from Ripper Street this week with the BAFTAs, so little to compare and contrast.

It has been a very enlightening week for me, as I am at a point where I am still awaiting one or two agents, a competition deadline that must pass before I can consider publishing in any format, so have been researching 'what to do next'.

Reading other reviews of 'Ripper Street' I have begun to notice other Victorian fictional crime writers comparing the content of each episode for historical accuracy.

There are some very interesting observations about cameras and cinematic equipment, firearms, explosives, and all indicate that the writer had allowed some license to introduce some of these before they were actually invented (or more accurately some were patented).

The general consensus was 'so what if he did?'...

That is an enormous relief to me as it means I can be less anxious about some ideas I have, particularly for the second novel in my 'Borough Boys' series, which is growing slowly and daily. 

If it might have been invented, then it might actually have existed, even if there is nothing to say that it did at a given point on my timeline.

That gives me freedom that I had not considered.

I do not intend to abuse the opportunity, but boy does it allow my creative juices to flow a little more freely!

'Death in Paradise' tomorrow, and I shall look to give my views on that sometime early on Wednesday, and then back to 'Ripper Street' on Sunday.

Of interest, I note that the BBC has just commissioned a second series of 'Ripper Street' so more to look forward to, and I shall be catching up by then...well I shall be in 1854 / 1855 by then anyway with my Coppers!

Take care!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

BBC 'Death in Paradise' ... in praise of...

Hi folks, I don't know why I didn't start to comment on this series earlier, as it is now five weeks into an eight week run!

I have found this to be one of the most amusing and absorbing BBC series, other than 'Ripper Street', for some time.

An appealing mix of Caribbean setting,  great casting, and imaginative 'who dun it?' plots, has made this a 'must watch' on a Tuesday night.

Ben Miller, as the shyly reserved and constrained British detective, seconded to the island, in the role of Detective Inspector  Richard Poole, brings his humour to the fore throughout.

Ably assisted by the delicious Sergeant Camille Bordey, played by Sara Martins, the counter-point to Miller's humour.

Danny John-Jules plays the seasoned Saint Marie plod Dwayne Myers, who does everything the old way, wherever possible, and knows everybody. Best remembered as 'Cat' in Red Dwarf, his humour also comes through to bolster that of Miller. 'Cat' is never far away!

The bright young cop Fidel Best, played by Gary Carr, completes the super-efficient team, who do all their own forensics scenes of crime themselves, and here Fidel is at his best.

Led by the laid back Commissioner Selwyn Patterson , played by Don Warrington - he of 'Rising Damp' fame, the relentless pursuit of making sure the crime is detected in the hour to get politicians or businessmen off his case, gives him slightly more than a cameo role.

These are real, good old fashioned story-lines, with clever twists and turns, and the lovely underlying sub-plot of a gorgeous young Caribbean detective who carries a flame for the bumbling, straight faced Miller.

If you haven't watched it must.

Hope there will be a series three!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Review - Episode six - Ripper Street - Tournament of Shadows

Late today! Diverted from my routine...

Episode six saw political unrest in the East End and the murder of an alleged Jewish anarchist, Joshua Bloom (Ferdinand Kingsley) in an explosion, that Special Branch try and manipulate to an 'own goal' by a Jewish bomb-maker.

D.I. Edmund Reid (Matthew MacFayden) is drawn into not only a criminal investigation, but an internal struggle with Police Commissioner Monro (Michael McElhatton) and the devious and incompetent Special Branch, led by 'shadowy' Superintendent Constantine (Derek Riddell) and his bully boys. These were so much like the old style Bow Street Runners, who could do what they wanted with almost complete impunity!

The fine line between legal or lawful and what constitutes the same when it comes to 'security of the state' becomes ill defined, and to many, crosses the line.

When Reid begins his personal investigation, contrary to the dictate of the Commissioner, he is confronted with his past, and we learn more about how he 'lost' hid daughter Matilda, and far from being dead and buried, she is 'missing presumed dead' to Reid, lost during a boating tragedy of the river (Thames I presume).

Clearly he has not lost hope, albeit his wife (Amanda Hale) wants rid of the memories, and her 'shrine' cleared. 

  • Why did she get lost? 
  • Why was there a boating accident? 
  • Who has been keeping her captive? 
  • When will REID be able to fight to get her back?


I suspect we have not hear the last of Matilda, and I suspect that she will not make an appearance until after Reid has separated, and his new relationship with Deborah Goren (Lucy Cohu) has bloomed. One step nearer in this episode with the long anticipated kiss!

More about Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) also emerges after he goes undercover with the dissidents, and he is tortured by Superintendant Constantine and his right hand thug. No trace of a Homer Jackson coming out of the USA or into Britain....surprise, surprise!

Nasty tricks and 'shadowy subplots' are exposed - as indicated by the title of the episode, and the leader of the dissident workers, Morris (Peter Ferdinando) is identified as a former Russian secret agent / spy / bomber, Zotkin, himself, connected through a well-heeled and well-fed Russian spymaster, Rosky (David Verrey).

Good prevails over evil - as it is meant to - and the good guys come through, discrediting the Russians, who a few years earlier had been taking potshots at Britain in the Crimea (See my second novel, 'The Thin Red line'), and who were planning to blow up London and gas its inhabitants.

Chief officers at the Met were made to look like puppets and spies themselves, which probably wasn't far off the mark, coming from Military backgrounds in the main, and very politically manipulated.

I liked the connections that the BBC had made with this episode, with the Jack the Ripper real life speculation, and the elements of the film 'From Hell' (Johny Depp played the Opium hedonist DI Abberline - played in Ripper Street by Clive Russell). 

In the film 'From Hell', and in speculative investigative works, there were connections made that the Ripper murders were the work of a group of conspirators, including Randolph Churchill, Sir William Gull (Physician to Victoria and Prince Albert Victor), Lord Salisbury, Sir Robert Anderson (Assistant Commissioner Metropolitan Police) and that Special Branch Officers and spooks were much involved in covering up state secrets and threats by deceit and skullduggery, destroying Abberline and his career. 

A nice little episode, with lots more revealed of characters, some good plotting (in more than one sense of the word), and some nice, subtle links to the "Shadowy world" of politics and subversion.

Two weeks now until the next episode? Don't know why?

Those voices in my head...

The voices inside my head have finally started, once again. I have been struggling with how to adapt the work I have already under...