Tuesday, February 18, 2014


At long last, my adventure novel for young adults is to be published. It has been a long road and there were times when I just didn't think it was going to happen. (How it all came about has been documented in the blogs below this one.)  What has happened since is a tale of delays and frustration, but the time has finally come.
     It all started in 2010. We were having a drink to celebrate the birthday of Bob Lewis, and that was when I agreed to have a go at writing this book (or, put another way, a series of 5 theme-related chapbooks). As you know, a few people saw its potential and we decided to go for it. A facebook page was set up for people to like and keep up with our progress, and an artist produced a wonderful front cover. We were good to go, but as I have said, it's been a long road.
     First, hats off to Bob Lewis, who has worked so hard to bring this about. He has pushed this project in a way that I never could, and he never once compromised - which I would have done. Some time ago, a publisher asked to meet us with a view to publication and Bob turned him down. At first, I couldn't believe it. Publishers rarely throw themselves at first-time authors. However, Bob didn't like the way he tried to 'own' it. Yes, he would have published it (for 90% of the profits), run a website, controlled the image of the central character and more or less left us with the crumbs; but in publishing, that's the norm. Bob, however, had the contacts and was determined to go it alone; this was our project, after all. Now it's all ready, and The Quest for the 5 Keys' has already gained a lot of attention.
   Of course, I was still in favour of looking for a publisher, but that idea was finally knocked on the head when we met up with a well-known writer and television critic. Not only did she take a keen interest in the book, she actively encouraged us to self publish. Finally, I came around to this way of thinking; after all, there were over 240 likes on the facebook page, and Bob had already produced some merchandise (fridge magnets, but it was a start). Now, finally, it looks as though publication is just around the corner.
     Certainly, our original plan to release it in time for the 2012 Olympics seems almost ridiculously optimistic now. Still, it's all done and dusted, I've entered the world of self-publishing (something I'd never had any intention of doing) and thanks to the advance of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, we can really go to town on the publicity. We'll soon see if I've written a best seller or not.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The  Next  Big  Thing 

Right then, a friend called Mark West has tagged me in a post, and now I must chat about my latest work in progress in an on-line project called The Next Big Thing. So  here goes.
1: What is the working title of your next book? 
After much consideration, it is to be called, The Quest for the Five Keys
2:Where did the idea for the book come from? 
Thereby hangs a tale. Just below this entry is an earlier blog called 'Grin and Bear It', in which that particular tale is told. So I'll refer you to that. 
3: What genre does your book fall under?
4: What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie adaptation of your book.
A difficult one, as the central character is a Teddy Bear!
5: What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A malevolent sleeping Dragon is about to wake up!
6: Will your book be self-published or handled by an agency.
It's up in the air at the moment, I'll have to keep you posted on that one.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About eight months.
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Difficult to say, I can't recall any other books featuring Dragon's and Teddy Bears.
9: What inspired you to write this book?
One again I shall refer you the the previous blog, 'Grin and Bear It'. As you will see, I was talked into it.
10: What else about the book might pique the readers interest?
I have a wonderful piece of cover art, and there has already been a considerable amount of interest. Hopefully, the ball will keep rolling.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Grin  and  Bear  It!

So I've written a children's book; how weird is that? Not my idea, it has to be said, and I wasn't too enthused about the project when it was first suggested. Still, I gave it a go, and really got into the spirit of things when a story finally came to me.

What did I have to work with? A bear and a few castles. Oh yes, the bear had to talk, and it had to be a Teddy Bear (because Teddy Bears are popular, and so are castles, you see!). With this thought in mind, a chap called Bob thought he had come up with a sure-fire idea for a best-seller. Just like that; all I had to do was write it. I finally said yes, and then we had to decide which castles were going to feature in our little adventure. It was a bit of a no-brainer to start with, as we live within a few miles of Caerphilly Castle and Castell Coch; which we duly paid a visit to, and boned up on the history of. A month later, I had completed what was intended to be the first in a series of five chapbooks; entitled 'The Old Hag in the Moat, it introduced both the character of Edward Ted, and the onset of his quest to find the keys to open up five segments of a pyramid, and release a ring that once belonged to the legendary Welsh warrior, Owain Glyndwr. Things were on the move.

Book 1 did the rounds and was generally approved of by the people who read it, and so I began work on the second tale, this one called The Adventure of the Red Castle. In the meantime, three other locations had to be decided on and checked out. Raglan Castle was picked for the third adventure (at this time, it was still intended as a series of five chapbooks) and after that, Chepstow Castle. Of course, this is a stone's throw away from Tintern Abbey, which I thought would be a wonderfully majestic setting for the climax of the series; and so, over the next few months, we visited these sites, I wrote the chapbooks (The Tale of the Troublesome Witch, A Misadventure with the Faerie Folk and The Tale of the Dragon's Tail being the titles of the remaining three stories); and then, after numerous read-throughs, rewrites and edits, we finally had our adventure.

This was not a smooth passage, as we now had to decide just how, exactly, we were going to go about getting them published. The chapbooks idea soon fell by the wayside, and it was decided to publish the whole collection as a novella called The Golden Pyramid. In truth, as were going down the self-publishing road, Kindle was really the only option.

The book was finally shown to an editor, who gave it a thumbs up ... but told us that the title 'had to go'. It was a good two weeks before we finally decided to call it 'The Quest for the 5 Keys'. Bob then set about getting the artwork done.

Now at this point, we were ready to upload it onto Kindle; then a proof reader offered to give it a final once over. Her verdict. Don't upload it just yet, this may have potential. Which now mean's that this particular entry has yet to be finished. So ... I'll keep you posted. Until then.


Tuesday, October 04, 2011


The 2011 FantasyCon was held in Brighton during the middle of a heatwave, so it really felt like a holiday. This year, it was a time of strange experiences.

Strange experience 1; finding out that my room was a very odd shape, like a square turning into a triangle. The TV in the corner almost touched both walls, and I half suspect that someone built it as a rather spectacular jest and no one noticed! Still, it made for an amusing picture on the facebook page.

The Royal Albion Hotel is just across the road from The Palace Pier; which has some great places to get a meal, and so that was my first port of call (and by that time, I was starving, as I arrived at the same time as a coach party and was forced to queue up for 45 minutes to book in at reception ... with a great sense of irony, there was a notice on the door saying 'Staff Required'; with two young girls trying to book in more than a hundred people at the same time, I couldn't help thinking 'Yes, they're required right now!). Still, I can tell you that a meal of freshly cooked fish and chips, eaten on a pier whilst surrounded by a bracing sea air, tastes exquisite.
Strange experience 2 was a burlesque night on Saturday, with a chap called John Probert sending up a couple of old horror films (with his partner Kate) and introducing a number of dancers who stripped off to a blaring soundtrack (not The Full Monty, you understand, this was a family show - however, Led Zeppelin's 'Immigration Song' will never sound quite the same again!) They were lovely ladies, and the chaps in the front row (who I shall not name, lest I drop them in the proverbial with their absent spouses) were duly appreciative ... until, that is, a male stripper walked on and they proceeded to do a rather good impression of a row of goldfish! A memorable night in more ways than one. (Strange experience 3, of course, was the baking hot weather in October).
However, there was a snag; the hotel's air conditioning was practically non-existent, so we were less inclined to go around attending panels and events; and I was frequently drawn back to the pier, which had so many temptations (I really should have resisted the Belgian waffle covered in caramel, but the smell drew me to that booth like a magnet); and, unusually, I didn't go out for a curry. However, I did go out with Mark West, Stuart Hughes, Paul Edwards and his wife Mandy, and a chap called Richard on a search for food; on the pier, of course and we passed several good food outlets only to be tempted by a sign saying 'Pizza and a pint' outside Horatio's Bar... I think it's a given that we won't be partaking of the food in 'that' particular establishment again. Still, it filled a gap.
Sunday, and it was all coming to an end, so all that was left to do was enjoy a quiet get-together in the hotel bar before saying goodbye to the likes of Mark, Chris Teague, Steve Upham, John Travis (with that beard) Stuart Young (also with a beard), Terry Grimwood, Gary and Soozy, Simon and his other half Liz, and Alison Littlewood, who is now enjoying much-deserved success with her new novel (A Cold Season) due out in February (plus many more, who I'm sure will berate me for forgetting to give them a mention!) Next year, the convention is to be held in Corby, which sounds about as alluring as a soggy kipper - still, I'm sure that normal service will be resumed ... whatever that is!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


I am now in possession of a brand new passport. Ironically, it arrived a day after the announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden. Why ironically? Because it reminds me why I got the old passport in the first place. It was the summer of 2001, my 40th birthday was coming up, and I had never been to America, something I had always wanted to do. So I decided to spend that particular birthday in New York. I sorted out the paperwork, and then booked up a short stay in The Big Apple (from the 17th of September). Of course, I never got there. On the 11th of September I drove out to Porthcawl for a bit of a day trip. When I got back, I had a phone call telling me to switch on the television. I hardly need to tell you what I spent the next few hours watching.

So the next day was spent cancelling the whole thing. The chances of getting to America any time soon seemed a little remote, but I was there just six months later for the 2002 World Horror Convention (in Chicago). Three years later, I finally made it to New York, and had a great time in a city that had really picked itself up after that terrible day. Now I have renewed my passport, and I'm wondering where the last ten years have gone; and, for that matter, why I didn't make more use of that old passport, which was only stamped three times in ten years; Chicago, 2002 - New York, 2005 - and Toronto, Canada, 2007. Well, I suppose we can't all be globe trotters, but given the cost of a new passport these days, I am planning to get plenty of use out of it during the next ten years.
Mind you, it has been pointed out that the weather, just recently, was a lot better here that in most other countries; which is true, but I am a sight-seer. Seeing the Statue of Liberty was wonderful, as was the view of New York from the top of The Empire State Building. In Canada, a visit to the Niagara Falls really made the trip; and although it was many years ago, I still remember sitting on a bench and drinking a bottle of Coke in the shadow of The Eiffel Tower in Paris. What else do I want to see? The Taj Mahal, The Great Wall of China, The Sphynx and The Pyramids perhaps? Well, I'm not getting any younger, so the next ten years will be as good a time as any to sort all this out; and after suffering a few health problems last year, this is my little bucket list in the making. Hopefully, I'll have quite a few adventures to look back on in ten years time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Banks can be a pain in the arse! So I've got most of my bills sorted out by direct debit, one or two others I pay off with my debit card. Naturally, I leave a healthy amount in my current account, which the staff were never happy about. "Rather a lot in your account, sir." ... "Yes, pays the bills." ... So, after brushing them off for years, they finally made it a policy that no-one could have more than two grand in their current account, and without so much as a by-your-leave the excess was hived off into a First Reserve account. Fine; they sent me another card, which I made a payment on. However, the next time I tried to make a payment on it, the bank wouldn 't cough up (as the bill was for my car insurance, they nearly dropped me right in it - luckily, I sorted out that payment with a couple of days to spare).

Of course, I went around to find out what was going on. Helpfully, they opened up a third account ... a Special Reserve. "When do I get a card?" ... "You don't?" ... "Huh? What if I have a big bill to pay? Do I write a cheque?" ... "Not for the Special Reserve." ... "Then how do I get to it?" ... "If you need to do that, see us and we'll transfer whatever amount you need into your current account." ... "Why not just leave it in there?" ... "We can't do that, sir; policy.
You see, The First Reserve holds the money and earns a few pence in interest, but you can get into it. A special Reserve account earns no interest, and is - in effect - an invisible current account; except, of course, you have to see a member of staff and ask them to transfer it into your real current account if you want to access it (Policy, you see!).

Jesus! Nat West. The bank that really likes to mess you around! There's a lot to be said for keeping your money in a mattress under the bed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Invitation To Get A Life!

I am not on Twitter; I never have been on Twitter, and I never will be on Twitter. There, I've said it. How long that statement will remain true is anybodies guess, for I am now in possession of quite a number of things I never wanted in the first place. Five years ago, I was quite happy with five television channels; now I have around 35, but no greater choice of programmes. I resisted the Internet up until the year 2000, when the Millennium Bug never happened and I ran out of excuses not to go on-line. Now we have a world of Facebook-addicted computer geeks who can't drag themselves away from their laptops long enough to get out and enjoy the real world. I practically had to be dragged into the Carphone Warehouse when I first got a mobile 'phone back in 2002. It may be a good thing to have, but you can hardly have a decent conversation down the pub for people twittering, texting, or checking out their bloody facebook pages. Of course, I have to have the Internet, as that is where I am kept up to speed on conventions and such; but there are limits. I don't carry my mobile 'phone around unless I absolutely have to. I'm told that's what it's for, but I argue that I don't want to be on call 24/7.
Alright, I have a website and it's a good place to link up my on-line fiction and collect favoured sites and blogs together in a 'Links' section (as a short story writer, I obviously don't object to Internet magazines giving an extra outlet for my tales). But it's getting a bit much when people can't get through a day without their Blackberry's!
Still, the days when I would fight against technology are long gone, and a Twitter page is probably another of those things I'll end up with whether I want it or not (like my digital TV, which uploads new channels automatically - something I rarely bothered with when I had a now-obsolete digi-box, and had to completely reset it when a new channel came up!). It is said that newspapers will be obsolete by 2019 (in paper form - those editors and gossip columnists will still be able to spout their bilge on-line!), but let's face it, with 24 hour news channels, who needs them?
Alright, I'm making this rant on a blog page I've been maintaining for the last 6 years; and if you're reading it, you probably clicked the link on my facebook page; that irony is not entirely lost on me. And I will admit that my digital camera is a little miracle, enabling me to upload stuff on Youtube; so, not a complete luddite then. But when you're down the pub, would it kill you to switch off that mobile 'phone for a couple of hours? In my local, there's a sign inviting people to bring down their laptops and treat the place like an office. Frankly, I get pissed off with loud-voiced idiots treating it like a telephone box! Soon, it will be getting so you can't put your pint on the table for laptop computers. Still, the world and technology marches on. I can keep telling people to get a life, but with cellphones plastered to their ears and their noses glued to a computer screen, who is going to listen? It's 2011, and things can only get worse!
On the writing front, the year started with a publication of one of my stories on a website called 'Bewildering Stories'. Inspired by an old abandoned railway bridge in my village (and a few recent events) The Hidey-Hole (http://www.bewilderingstories.com/issue413/hidey_hole1.html ) neatly takes me into my 15th year as a published writer. I knew I'd find something positive to say about technology. Have a great new year.