Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Ouch - my first 3 star review...

Well guys;

I knew it had to happen at some time, but my first three star review appeared on Kindle pages for 'Jack Ketch's Puppets' over the weekend. 

All the rest have been five stars to date.

The positives? The lady acknowledged it was great story, and with strong characters, and it would have done better to have gone through a professional Literary Agency to have it properly assessed and edited. I wish!

The negatives? It was described as 'poorly written and researched'...OUCH.

I have found the spelling mistake she refers to and I admit, I never considered 'okey dokey' to be a fairly recent saying, so let that one slip by...that was the research error!

I would have preferred 'poorly written or poorly edited', but that is the cost of putting a book out there for can be uncomfortable! My research, otherwise, I would hope, was sound.

I was disturbed, viewing my novel again, that it does contain a larger number of punctuation errors than I realised, and the sort of things that I know my proof readers for my second book, have already picked up on...thanks guys! The first did not receive that level of attention...unfortunately...and a professional edit at between £400 and £4,000 was out of my league!

I am, as a consequence, revising the first edition and will personally endeavour to put right the punctuation errors, the spelling and the 'okey dokey' reference.

Another observation is the age old error of telling rather than showing, rather too much. There I put my hands up and admit that my desire to impart so much information, meant that there were some top heavy 'telling' sections of the book. I know now that a novel is not meant to be a book of facts! However, as my first baby, I am leaving it as intact as I can. There is so much background that makes sense in subsequent stories, it would be a shame to eliminate it now!

A painful lesson learned? I hope so...

I hope that those of you who have read it, and have rated it more highly, have done so on the strength of the story telling. I have a personal view that today, in a time of text and twitter, I would prefer to read a book that is fun and entertaining than grammatically perfect.

That being said, I don't want to gain a reputation for producing poorly written I apologise if the book did appear poorly written...I am a punctual person, but clearly my punctuation still leaves a bit to be desired!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Author interviews by Phil Simpkin...

Hey guys; the final questions have gone out this morning to my first batch of 'victims'

All of them seem to have far!

The first interviews will feature Mr Chaunce Stanton; Megan Denby; Keri Beevis and Anne (C..A.) Shilton.

I shall now prepare for my second batch, who will include...

Steven Malone...writer of historical fiction

Michelle Booth ...GoodReads specialist

Teegan Kearney ...Haiku poet and sci-fi writer

Jen Christopherson ...'Warrior Crone'...writer of myths, legends and fantasy

Once I have the final answers back from my first victims, I will post them on my website and here on my blog, one week at a time...

Watch this space!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Clancy Tuckers Blogspot - Phil Simpkin - Guest author interview...

Hey guys;

I am still trying to get used to all the time shift attributed to associating with people globally!

I have just been reminded that tomorrow (Australian time) - which will be Saturday 25th UK time, I am the guest Author on Clancy Tucker's Blogspot.

Clancy is a multi-talented, multi-award winning author, photographer, multi-lingual, and frequently short-listed Australian writer / author. His book 'Gunnedah Hero' is a brilliant read. He has 3 Australian National Literary awards... what else can I say?

His blog is accessible at...

His website at...

Read what he has to say about me...I hope he has been kind!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

My thoughts go out to friends in North America

Hey guys;

I feel very safe, sat here in the UK, where we get away with pretty simple weather, for all the moaning.

Last night, and through this morning, I have been watching the unbelieveable scenes coming from Oklahoma, and watching the radar predictions for other parts of the USA.

All I can wish, is that you are all safe and well, and to take care out there!


Sunday, 19 May 2013

A long weekend given to family matters - and now back to work!

Hey guys;

Three days devoted to broken central heating systems, Mother-in-Law's birthday events, and grandchildren sitting...I was starting to go 'Cold Turkey' with my writing efforts.

So, they have all gone away, and I am back at my beloved workstation.

My brilliant beta-readers have been busy bunnies, and my request for a turnaround of four weeks - mid June - was too much for some of them, and they gave in and replied very quickly.

I am delighted by the responses.

Two very positive reviews, plus two very objective responses, and some interesting learning points!

I am now even more confident that I can have book number two in 'The Borough Boys' series out for the Summer Holidays!

Happy Days!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A strange transition is taking place...

Hey guys;

I have had a week of revelations and realisations...

Not only have I started to write differently (in a blogging sense, my Canadian and American friends...), but I have also realised that I am also...

Starting to read more!

In fact, I am getting through books at an alarming rate; far faster than I can previously remember since my youth.

I am advised that this is a necessary skill and will add to my writer's repertoire...I sincerely hope I am reading all sorts of books that I would never have dreamed of reading before.

For those of you with Goodreads or Facebook pages, you can keep track of what I am reading and my subsequent reviews, as they happen!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Sneak preview of book two in 'The Borough Boys' series

‘Rats is vermin, they need to be destroyed - and their fleas too!’

The Rookeries, Leicester, 1851. 

The Irish dominance of recent years has crumbled following the hanging of the depraved Dubh O’Donnell and his henchman.

For Head Constable Robert Charters and his fifty Constables and Sergeants of the Leicester Borough Police, the power struggle for a new ‘top dog’ within the overcrowded, narrow and fetid streets and alleyways has placed them in daily conflict with the ever increasing number of gangs. 

This is particularly so of the incomers, fresh up from the Rookeries of St Giles, London and their former lair, the Rats’ Castle. 

Open warfare on the streets of Victorian Leicester? 

Who can bring the struggle to an end and by what means? 

This is the second book in the series and a further chance to meet Samson Shepherd, John Beddows, Tanky Smith, Black Tommy Haynes and their colleagues in ‘The Borough Boys’.

The book is presently with proofreaders and should be available for the end of June for the Holiday market!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

An update on progress...

Hey guys;

Since I last posted on the subject on 19th April, I have the following updates;-

On my website, visits have increased from 5,247 to 6,751, so 1,504 site visits in under one month!

I have added a further 70 followers on G+, and now at 67o followers overall.

On my blog, hits have increased from 15,692 on 19th April to 18,996 today, an increase of 3,304 hits, and visits up by 1,476, so a similar visit rate on both facilities.

Jack Ketch's Puppets at 9.25 am today GMT, was #110,479 in all Amazon books; 8,464 in Kindle paid store; #73 in Crime Thrillers (History) in paid store!!!  

I am gobsmacked that is riding so high still!

Leicestershire Myth & Legend, which was only a gimmick of an idea for my grand-kids is #239,404 in Kindle Books.

Thanks for all of you who are helping me to progress!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Review - The Suspicions of Mr Whicher II - A murder in Angel Lane

Hey Guys;

I hope that many of you will have had an opportunity to watch last night's ITV drama - the second in the 'Mr Whicher' crime stories, originating from author Kate Summerscale.

I love these dramas, especially as it gives me a chance to spy on how this period is visualised and the period compare and contrast with my own novels 'The Borough Boys' series.

The second story was set after poor old Mr Whicher's demise from the Metropolitan Police, at a point in the 1860's where he was available as a private investigator. Strangely, one of my characters, Francis 'Tanky' Smith, who was a real Policeman in Leicester, did exactly the same in 1863/4...and he is put forward as a possible role model for Sherlock Holmes!

Mr Whicher (Played by the wonderfully dry and rugged Paddy Considine) comes to the assistance of Susan Spencer (Olivia Colman...congratulations on last night's awards! spooky was that!). A case of a missing young woman and baby, soon turns into a tale of murder, villainy, deceit, betrayal, and conspiracy.

A clever plot, putting Whicher in conflict with Commissioner Mayne's Metropolitan Police, who still see him as a mentally ill 'basket case', when in reality he has more compassion and investigative nonce than any of his counterparts.

Casting Considine in this role was an act of genius. He just looks perfect for how the early detectives, that were effective, would have had to be. 

The only colleague of Whicher who retains allegiance, is ultimately exposed as his personal 'Judas' and leads Whicher into an unexpected and clever trap, at a local Lunatic Asylum, the Chief Physician of which is in cahoots with the conspirators and murderers.

Lovely, dark, grubby, melancholy, the set and locations used were exceptionally portrayed. The tension and attitude in the pub scenes was first class. The 'death house' was accurate and showed just how life treated you, right until the very end...

If BBC could get more of this atmosphere into Ripper Street series two, I would be a happy bunny!

Please can we have more!

Review - Luano's Luckiest Day - Chaunce Stanton. A FIVE STAR NOVEL...

Well Mr +Chaunce Stanton . This is not the sort of story book that I would normally ever pick up off a shelf, anywhere. I am a bit of a stick, and I love my crime and historical fiction.

However, I actually really enjoyed it! It is a story that once you immerse yourself in, it warms you through, and engages you completely with the lives of its main characters. The heat and dust of the desert can be felt and draws you into the tension.

From about Chapter twenty it was impossible to put down. I wanted to see how the turn would change everyone, and I love the way you created the suspense and the story swung.

As an Arachnophobe, I was enthralled by your imagery of the cowled spiders, and their hold over Luano, physically and in his imagination. Scary stuff, with the most imaginative cobwebs I have ever seen described.

I began to see the illusion in the story, and the surreality of the lives of the main players, touchable but always slipping out of the fingertips. A boy's beliefs and hopes , aspirations blown away in the hot desert sands. Love and loss, and resignation, having but never quite having!

The Fire Dragons scared the hell out of me and I could see them vividly against the arid desert and the influence they imposed.

I look forward to 'Blank Slate Boarding House....' IMMENSLY'

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A lazy Sunday - a day to catch up reading my fellow authors' books!

Hey guys;

A good day yesterday. My wife, who is my main preferred editor, gave me back my first draft of book two in 'The Borough Boys' series, relatively in one piece.

She made some astute points about assumptions I had made regarding people's familiarity with characters and their role in book one, so I needed to do a little tweaking.

I now have the book out for proof reading and critiquing with six or seven of my friends and colleagues...thanks Guys!

All being well, it should be ready for final edit and adjustments by the middle part of June, and on sale for July!

So, I feel lazy. All my research is done for a start on book three...and I could make a start.

But I am also aware that I am a pain in the A--- trying to persuade people who have read my books to leave me reviews. In return, I need to finish off the books I have bought recently, and return the compliment.

Today I have two books in mind.

Dead Letter Day, by the talented  +Keri Beevis  , which I am about 60% of the way through.

Luano's Luckiest Day, by that naughty guy  +Chaunce Stanton , which I am about 50% of the way through.

I owe these guys as they are staunch supporters and keep me motivated, together with a handful of other, brilliant new authors.

So, reading it is! 

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

How to make best use of Historic Public a writer...

Hey guys;

There have been several posts of late on the writers' groups that I interact with, regarding influences and triggers that prompt stories to be written. As a guy with strong historical and local interests, I always think that my first stop when mapping out my next novel, is the list of public houses, geographically, that existed at the time.

I think of 'Jamaica Inn' and 'The Admiral Benbow' - each of which conjours up a vivid image of a time and a place, and of a community of some interest, in famous classics.

I have a long list of Leicester Pubs, which I can date by cross-referencing to Trade Directories and Census records, whose names are evocative, and add a sense of time and place.

With my novels featuring Police and Criminals, they are a natural stomping ground for my characters, and frequent hangouts take place within them.

Look through some of the Historical Trade directories that are available when you next chose a location, and see what exists / existed, and see what thoughts it conjours?

I have just updated my new list for my next (third) book in my series and have over five hundred for the period around 1852-5 and names like 'Admiral Rodney' , 'The British Lion', 'The Eight Bells' and 'The Cape of Good Hope' make me want to include them!

I can just picture +Chaunce Stanton, a connoisseur of fine ales, hiding in a dark corner, listening intently, soaking up gossip and scandal, and keeping an ear out for their dark tales!

Research for my Author interviews well under way today!

Hey guys;

I have my head down, busily going through Facebook pages and Fan pages, Goodreads and Amazon pages, and inside a pile of books, seeking out background on my impending 'victims'.

The process itself is fascinating, as the more you ask about an author, the more you realise is out there already, but fragmented. Some really cool stuff coming through.

I hope the authors who have volunteered will not feel uncomfortable at my desire to be prepared for when I fire off the first, telling, question!

I hope the interviews give us an insight into what makes us all, as writers, behave in the way we do. How we think? Where we go for our data? Who we engage with along the way to validate stuff? What we can learn from each other and from our inspirations? Why we feel the need to go through the pain that we may well encounter in our attempts to gain recognition?

I also hope that we can have a little fun along the way, at no personal expense!

I am quite astonished at the range of disciplines and interests that are coming up, and the learning points that I hope to elicit will help us all to become better writers, with a greater insight into what we can expect from the Industry.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Not a blog post for four days!

Hey guys;

Sorry I have not posted since Saturday, but with Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, I have given some time to family, for a bit of a change, compared to lately.

Book two has now been mauled, enhanced, vigorously pruned and formatted for when I send it off to Createspace & Kindle, but before that, it goes out to my beta readers and my main editor and harshest critic - my other half, for punctauation, grammar and general comments and observations.

Whilst I am awaiting responses from each, I have made start on book three, which will take my characters on through 1852. Yet again, something completely different, and a move away from the Rookeries and the seedier side of Leicester.

Pleasing progress, but I am not going to get too pleased with myself, until I get two out in a manner and format that does what I hope it will!

But, getting there!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The potential 'Victims' for forthcoming Author Interviews...

Good afternoon Peeps!

I have had a very heartening and diverse response to my request for Authors who would wish to expose their innermost thoughts, desires, fears, interests and skeletons to the scrutiny of my readers.

I now have an initial list of ten authors, who I shall make contact with later this week, to establish a time line and format. I have listed them, below, a la 'Keri Beevis - Dead Letter Day' order (It leaves me latitude for further victims!) and a snippet of who they are, where they are from, and a bit about their writing / interests.

I have to say, I am impressed at the range of subjects and more importantly, talent,  that we have on offer;

Murder, mystery, fact, fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction,medico-legal, romance, and Haiku, for you lovers of poetry and verse!

My first Victim is Keri Beevis herself, from Norfolk, England, with her inaugural novel 'Dead Letter Day', runner up in The Rethink Press New Novel awards 2012. Keri is also a talented cartoonist / Cameo artist.

Next on the list is Michelle Booth, who has one of the most attractive Blogs / websites and is a specialist on GOODREADS, and author of amongst other great learning resources, 'Goodreads for Authors'. I  can see Michelle being a great source of information and enlightenment.

Then we have Jen Christopherson aka 'Warrior Crone', her current release, and I see she also has a newly blogged interest in Myth & Legend, and the Wyvern, which, oddly enough, was the image of the Borough Boys!

Next, Megan Denby. Megan has helped me as much as anyone in the last few months, and I am privileged to include her in this prestigious list! Megan is from Port Perry, Ontario, in Canada, and has just published 'A Thistle in the mist' which is a stunningly written novel. Megan is not your stereotypical female author, and admits so herself, with a feisty Scottish Great Grandma, a passion for Dragon Boating and as an ex Baseball player! A lovely lady!

Next we have George Eliseo, who like me, is an ex Cop, but in his case from the USA. I look forward to comparing research and anecdotes. I will update you more on George as I learn more about his pending release (of his book that is, unless you know something I don't!).

Next we have our black belt in Haiku, Teagan Kearney, who is also into magic, fiction and sci-fi, author of 'Golden Dragon Haiku'. I know very little other than it is verse in three line format, with a discipline of 5 - 7 - 5 syllabic verse. I shall interrogate Teagan as to its history and traditions, amongst other things.

Then we have Steven Malone (not to be confused with Buzz Malone - as I first did!). Steven is another Historical Fiction buff, like me, and has just published 'Sideshow at Honey Creek', a story of Indians, Cavalry and the conflict between the Indian and the Confederate Forces in Texas during the American Civil War. I look forward to finding more from Steven about his interests and  research methods.

Then we have Ron McManus, from Chesapeake Bay, author of 'Libido's Twist' a medical suspense set in the South West of England, where from photos to which I have access, it looks like Ron likes a pint or two of real beer! I shall ask him about that too!

At number nine, we have Robert Neff, from Florida, a talented Photographer, blogger, writer and Internet expert, author of 'Driving the Divas' and the shortly to be released 'Reconnecting with life'. Some interesting human interaction in these stories and photographs that clearly mean a lot to Robert.

And finally, last but not least, Chaunce Stanton, from Saint Paul, Minnesota, a real Minnesota Viking (by blood) and another guy who has been highly supportive to me during these early steps on the path to becoming a competent writer. Chaunce is the author of 'Luano's Luckiest Day', my current read, and full of spiders, which I hate! His new novel 'The Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives' will be published later in the year, and is a tale of alternatives, magic and history.  Chaunce is also the moderator of the 'Dark Humour Collective' on Google+ which is, as it says, a dark and black place to venture, and should not be attempted without a grown up being with you!

I hope to work on the basis of giving each author a really deep and rigorous grilling (can you smell it Chaunce?) and get them to spill what they have yet failed to disclose by other means!

According to Keri's blurb, I still have a lot of gaps in my alphabet! 

Having worked on 43 murders between 1983 and 1989 I have a lot of ghastly ways stored of getting to the truth, and I am still looking for at least another 16 victims by Keri's model. I could of course use the Greek alphabet and give myself some extra choices!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Another productive day!

Hey guys;

Carried on from where I left off yesterday. Once I have my first rough draft, the first job of stage two is to read through again and stock-take.

I was generally happy with where my fingers and brain had taken me!

Second job of stage two - where can extra detail be justified and add to draft?

Not a lot needed here. Took my word count to just over 26k, with some minor detail and a touch of woven history.

Third job...

A harsh prune! Got it back down to 25k and 100 pages on my preferred template.

Fourth job...

Read it again!

Love it! Just feel a bit guilty calling 25k words of a Novella 'a finished work'.

What else?

I have decided that as the three Novellas that I have planned are completed, albeit they will be published individually as Novella, I shall ultimately merge them into one volume, giving the readers a choice of 1, 2 or all 3 in one go!

Working title is now old hat. I have a Cover Title that I am happy with.

Cover art and text is sweet!


Thursday, 2 May 2013

First 'rough' draft of book two in 'The Borough Boys' finished!

Hey guys;

Had an inspired day, yesterday, and got the last 9k words off the keyboard by about 8pm.

This will be a 'Novella' or short novel, of about 25k words, and will take my characters forward one year from 'Jack Ketch's Puppets' and 1850.

It is set in the heart of the Rookeries, and it Rocks!

The original ending I had in mind, took a final, unexpected twist, and I have to say UNEXPECTED!

I will be doing some enhancement over the next few days, followed by a very basic edit and harsh pruning, before I get it out to my beta readers for their views, as stage one third party editting process.

I am optimistic it will be on sale for July and the summer holidays.

The cover art and format is taking shape. The blurb is today's project.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Volunteers required - I want to showcase Authors on my website!

Hey Guys;

I have been extremely flattered in the last month, to complete three interviews for people promoting authors across the Globe.

I would like to add to my own website's 'Author of the month' and include very contemporary and incisive views of many of the people I engage with in these forums.

Are there any of you who are prepared to have your talents exposed on my site?

I am thinking of something a little different to a standard set of questions, and as an Investigator, was considering a 'rising tide' Q & A format, where I will feed off your initial responses and probe, perhaps in areas that other sites might not!

PS - this should not be a painful procedure, and I am quite ethical!

If you would like to feature, please let me know, and I will contact you for further thoughts.



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...