100% OFF The Money Star this weekend.

Am I serious, or seriously fucked up?


But the truth remains this, The Money Star is free, totally free, this weekend.

All you've got to do is enter the code HZ87C here.

Then you can read all about Sye Remnant being up where he doesn't belong - in space and in a race to be the first to reach an asteroid made of diamond.

Good luck.

BBC gives JK Rowling Free Advertising.

 There was I, watching the evening news, trouble in Syria and the like, then on comes an item about JK’s new book. A big close up of the cover on screen and an interview with the author.
Now, the cover’s pretty bright and I’m sure the book’s very good. I’m also sure the Potter series deserves all the plaudits it’s got.
But is the BBC fucking news the place for this sort of thing?
Is it news? Or just blatant promotion?
The Beeb is supposed to be impartial and everything, yet here’s a clear example of them favouring one book over the millions of others out there.
And there are millions of authors out there who’d kill for this sort of publicity. I’d personally take a two second flash of the cover of either of my books before the weather forecast.
So, BBC, in the interests of impartiality, get in touch with me and I’ll send you a jpeg of my book covers. Put either one on your news show, before the weather, even during the fucking weather, I don’t mind. Thanks.

As featured on the impartial BBC News:

As not featured on the impartial BBC News:

SPOILER ALERT: Last Night At The Stairways

You won’t find the city that’s the setting for Last Night At The Stairways on Google Maps.
Or on that new mapping system they’re using on the iPhone 5 (slightly less surprising).

Turpenton is nowhereland. And so’s its neighbour West Bertram.

But, the eponymous club does exist. Sort of.

The name’s taken from a club I used to frequent in the early 1990s in South Croydon.
The Stairway (not plural) was above The Blue Anchor pub, (now the Treehouse) which used to be the only pub where students hung out in central Croydon. There really was very little choice back then, except maybe The Blacksmiths Arms (now The Edge).

Here’s the place as it looks today, with the club entrance to the left of the orange sign. The club’s now called Upstairs.

The layout of the club in the story is based on the Loop Bar, on Crown Hill, a road that does exist and is in the story.

Here’s a recent shot of Crown Hill. The black shop façade on the left is the strip club, mentioned in the book. Next to it, just behind the guy in the white shirt is the pale green entrance to the Loop, through which a staircase leads straight up into the club.

And it’s this club on which I’ve based the layout of the club in Last Night At The Stairways.

Here’s a shot of the bar, against which quite a few clubbers have the life crushed out of them. You can almost hear the vertebrae snapping. OK, maybe you can’t

The Money Star and its genre. I've finally done something about it.

The umm-ing and arr-ing finally has a full stop after it. (There it is.)

With The Money Star awkwardly straddling several genres (sci-fi, thriller, heist), and its sales suffering as a result, I've finally decided to up the sci-fi, mainly by inserting a new first chapter.

After all, I'm selling this thing as a race to be the first to reach an ultra-valuable asteroid in outer space.

However, a lot of time in the first few chapters is being devoted to establishing my main character, as I attempt to make him if not likable then at least interesting enough to want to find out what happens to him.

Let's see if this new opening makes any difference at all to how the novel is perceived...

Special Offer: 50% OFF My New Novel

Am I mad, deranged, just plain off my rocker?
Well, me old cocker, quite possibly.
But what the hell. My new horror novel Last Night At The Stairways is now available for just $0.99 right here.
To claim your 50% discount, enter code SP82W prior to completing the purchase.
It's that easy.
But hurry, like a strong cheese carelessly left out of the fridge, the discount will only last a couple of days.

Some Interesting Stuff About KDP Select

Here are the results of a survey into KDP Select carried out by Freebooksy.
The results I got from The Money Star are way below average, though I have only one review, and the findings here recommend 10-15!
With two more days of my second three month stint to go, that'll be it for The Money Star and KDP Select for the foreseeable future. Gonna try it out on Smashwords, with a new opening chapter to boot.

Quote Unquote

I am not very good at remembering who said what. And I've probably got this quote wrong, but it's interesting nonetheless. Here goes:

All novels are, in some way, about the novel-writing process.

I think the rationale was that because it takes so long to write a novel, and that it dominates your life to such an extent, you can't fail to refer to or write about the process, subconsciously or otherwise, somewhere along the way.

The Difference Between Those Who Write And Those Who Think They Can't Write

It's all about getting it right first time.
Those who write don't mind getting down some crap on the page. They know they're going to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until they get it, well, right.
Those who think they can't write get frustrated by a blank page. They won't put anything on it until they think it's perfect, and often, that means nothing gets put on the page at all.
To write, you've got to be prepared to write crap first. And you've got to believe that the crap will turn into something better over time.

First Draft vs Final Draft, PART II

My word, here I go giving away words for free. The kind of words in the kind of order that people have already paid good money for.

But it's all for a good cause, I reckon. To explore the changes that an opening of a novel goes through as it's shaped and given greater focus.

I'm currently happy with how this opening reads, but as time passes and as the need for me to position The Money Star more clearly in one genre, I'm getting itchy feet and feeling the need to amend again, to make it either more sci-fi or more heist right from the start.

Enough already. Here's the opening to The Money Star as it now stands.

What the diamond robbers lacked in equipment and experience, they made up for with their desperation and determination.
Simon Remnant was not one of them. But he was acutely aware of their fumbling presence in the jewellers next door to the café outside of which he was toying with a late fried breakfast, feeling every one of his forty-six years following another evening wasted getting wasted.
He had been sitting at the table for nearly two hours, catching the autumnal sun rays that managed to beam between some of central London’s lowest high rises. During that time, he’d been forced to shoot several smiles at the little girl sitting with legs swinging at the next table. She was determined not to take her eyes off him, staring like he was an outcast here in his own neighbourhood. Trying to figure him out. Who was he? What was with his old face and his streaky grey hair? Where were all his friends and why was he pushing his food around his plate like her mother told her not to?
In between glances down Greville Street to the junction with Hatton Garden, Remnant demonstrated his disappearing napkin trick, much to the girl’s fascination and her mother’s consternation. It was a trick he’d perfected while trying to entertain his own little girl some twenty years before.
After another performance, he looked down at a sheet of paper that had held his attention periodically for the past week. What to say, what to say about her? ‘This is the proudest day of my life.’ That was a good start, but was that a word, proudest? Edgar would know.
He looked up to see the girl’s mother pointing out the bits of blueberry muffin her daughter should be eating while berating an absent father on her mobile phone.
A yell from within the jewellers and the sprinkle of a necklace falling on concrete diverted Remnant’s fragile attention. His first thoughts were for the audacity of the raid. Straight in the front door, bold as brass bracelets, middle of the day. They had to be amateurs. 

First Draft vs Final Draft PART I

So how much change does a novel go through as the drafts slip by? No point pontificating on the matter. I'll show you, by posting the opening few paras of the first chapter of my debut novel today, The Money Star (Ccccclang!!! There I go dropping the name again), and the opening para of the latest, published draft tomorrow, creating the first ever cliffhanger in this blog's history.

It's worth remembering that I would have been happy with how this first draft opening was shaping up at the time.


1. Edgar’s Riches

‘Parts for sale here. Space and human’

             ‘The Whittington’ crashed in a treasure chest of flames onto the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the early hours. The charred body parts, burnt bones and sinew of the crew littered the ancient grey stone cobbles. Fried metallic wings lay bent amid discarded fried chicken wings. The nuclear-powered engine smoked over smoked cigarettes, and warped computer chips lay scattered among a greased bundle of discarded cod and chips.
            Those who witnessed the impact were either too drunk to notice, too blasé to care, or too eager to salvage parts of the vessel for their own ends. Two kids on skateboards made off with a rusty box that had been thrown clear of the wreckage by the force of the crash. The only witness to take any interest in the welfare of the crew, whose blackened limbs and livers, lungs and legs he’d have to sweep up was Edgar.
            Like other roadsweepers, the one thing Edgar never swept was the road. Gutters, pavements, tree-bases, bridges, they were his stock trade. The road? Too dangerous. ‘Stick to the pavements’ the boss and wife would say.  Edgar was used to looking down for his living. Down at the chewing gum circles he couldn’t shift. The sun-pinked Coke cans. The russet green leaves. The pennies and the pounds. Broken chains of gold silver platinum and worthless plastic that all blended into the same detritus of life. Folded, rain-soaked papers that occasionally looked like fifty-pound notes, but never were. Bits of foil masquerading as five pence coins, the fall-out from a night out, some space head stealing a line off a car bonnet or atop a racing green telecoms cabinet.
            Edgar knew he could always make a little bit on the side from the things he picked up. A little bit on the sidewalk his American counterparts might say. He knew there was enough silver and copper on the streets of London to tide a man over. To buy himself a coffee once a week. Especially round here, near the tourist trap that was St. Paul’s. He’d heard say of a theory that there was over a thousand pounds in dropped change and lost jewellery on the pavements of England at any one time. Despite the presence of these potential riches, for Edgar, London’s streets weren’t paved with gold but with puke, spittle and stale ale.
            And now like everyone else, he was having to look up more. To dodge the ships falling from the sky. The spirallers out of control. The plummeters. The speeding fireballers. 

Gets Up Your Nose And Curls Your Toes - a free excerpt

This goes out to the few billion people out there who have yet to download this irreverent moan at 68 things about modern life that, well, just need to be moaned about.

You dislocate your shoulder. Or badly bruise your elbow. Whatever the injury, you can bet strangers and friends alike will manage to accidentally but annoyingly knock, bump, scrape or pat the precise zone of pain, however small or obscure it may be.

An Open Letter To People Who Have To Live With Writers

Dear [insert name here]


Sorry for not always being there physically.

And sorry for sometimes being there physically but not mentally.

Sorry for trying to grab every moment I can with my laptop.

Sorry for using the printer at half one in the morning. Hopefully, I'll soon be able to afford a quieter one.

Sorry for regularly disappearing upstairs for short periods. I'm not up to anything dodgy, just checking my Kindle Reports or Smashwords dashboard, praying for a sale, even a freebie download, any evidence that somebody somewhere might like my stuff.

Sorry for finishing writing one book and then immediately piling in to another. I don't think I can stop.

Sorry for not making this letter longer. It's just that I've got other things to write.

REVIEW: The Pregnant Widow - Martin Amis

What great value an Amis novel is.

I don't subscribe to his late father's view that he should show off his literary talents a little less. I'm in the  'if you've got 'em, flaunt 'em' camp. And Amis has them in abundance.

But it's not been easy for me to read Amis ever since becoming obsessed with the quality of London Fields back in the Nineties. Topping that is as close to an impossible task as you can get. So it was good to see the return of a Keith to his work, Nearing this time, not Talent, and a few nods to the latter's stomping ground of Queensway.

As expected, I found invention on every page, sharp dialogue, cliche-free description and a bunch of twentysomethng characters spending a summer in Italy thinking about having sex with each other.

Certainly a rewarding read for Amis aficionados, but if you're new to the great man's work, may I suggest you head over to London Fields first.

What's A Book Got To Do To Get A Review Around Here?

Reviews are big currency in the self-publishing world. A shit one is better than none at all, certainly if the Fifty Shades series is anything to go by.

But how do you get them?

I've approached a few bloggers and reviewers (very politely, I might add) and have yet to receive a reply, let alone a review.

I've resisted the urge to write my own under some alias or other as that just seems a toe-curlingy bad way to go.

But as I've only received one for The Money Star, and one for my non-fiction book Gets Up Your Nose And Curls Your Toes (both fairly good ones, I might also add) on Amazon, I'm on the look out for new ways to get comments, even if they're scathing.

An Unexpected Benefit Of A Synopsis

It's the moment writers all dread.

You've written 70,000 plus words, and now's the time to distill all the twists, turns and character arcs into a few hundred words.


So, imagine my discomfort when I wrote my first synopsis for The Money Star, and came up with some story ideas that were better than what I'd written.

Forcing yourself to explain your story in as few words as possible and in the style of the sort of thing you'd read on the back of a dustjacket is, as all writers know, a great way to focus on the crux of your story. But, as I discovered, it's also a great way of improving your story.

As long as you're prepared to get your head down and tuck into ANOTHER draft, that is.

Give Them Something To Read In Between The Lines

'If what's happening in your scene is what's happening in your scene, you're doing something wrong.'

Somebody much cleverer and more successful than I once said or wrote words to that effect. And ever since, I've tried to heed them.

It's all about subtext, innit? Reading between the lines.

Having two people just talking about what they're talking about doesn't make for interesting reading or viewing. There's got to be, as Hitchcock suggested, something like a bomb ticking under the table, or something that the audience knows that the people in the scene don't.

Something that makes what they're saying mean more than just what they're saying means, if you know what I mean.

Have Literary Agents Become An Irrelevance?

You finish draft number eleventy or whatever. Buy the latest Writers And Artists Yearbook and trawl through the pages of Literary Agents, trying to work out which is least likely to reject your book.

Or do you?

I did it with The Money Star, but for the latest book I quite frankly couldn't be arsed.

It's not just the waiting that put me off. Three months of nothing, followed by an almost guaranteed rejection in the form of a curt, mass produced email or letter, I can handle. I'll just fill that time writing something else.

But I've heard stories lately of writers with agents who just aren't getting it done. Their books still aren't selling. Publishers aren't picking them up. They're having more luck going it alone on Kindle.

So, although agents still seem a good way to get an experienced pair of eyes to look over your manuscript, I'm going to stop bothering them. They've got enough on their plate (desk) without me adding to their slushpile.

That nothwithstanding, if any agents are interested in... blah blah blah

Genre. The Best Sales Tool Since, Since, Ever.

Don't make the mistake I did with my first novel and start writing it without a genre in mind.


If you want to sell copies, or even give them away as freebies, make sure your book fits into a category.

Deluded old me thought sod that, I'm going to write this genre buster that's a combination of heist, sci-fi, thriller, adventure. All very well until you upload it to Smashwords or Kindle and have to pigeonhole it.

You soon see that books are sold on genre, and writing something that dips its toes into several different genres isn't the fast lane to big sales.

Sure, I've shifted a few copies (mainly freebies) but because The Money Star straddles several genres rather than slotting neatly into one, it's 'yet to find its audience', which I believe is common parlance for 'we don't know what genre this thing is'.

As a result, I've been forced to post-rationalise, during which I discovered the catch-all category of Speculative Fiction, which covers a multitude of genres. But, as yet, it hasn't boosted sales.

Which is why when I started my second novel, I made sure which category it would be filed under when it was published before a finger touched the keypad. (Horror, thanks for asking).